The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/9/17 Predawn Raid of Trump's Former Campaign Chair's Home

Guests: Hendrik Hertzberg, Wesley Clark, Julia Lurie, Howard Dean, Rick Berke, Virginia Heffernan, Ira Stoll

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 9, 2017 Guest: Hendrik Hertzberg, Wesley Clark, Julia Lurie, Howard Dean, Rick Berke, Virginia Heffernan, Ira Stoll

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": Honor of the Rooster being this year`s zodiac animal. And the artist says its resemblance to the president is a coincidence and unintentional. OK, sure it is.

That`s all for tonight. THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. I don`t know. Ari, I thought that was possibly some sort of bizarre KFC ad or something that this is the latest attempt at getting the Colonel.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: I promise you this. We`re going to get to the bottom of this rooster story.

TODD: You got it.

MELBER Good to see you, Chuck.

TODD: See you, brother.

MELBER: Paul Manafort said he was cooperating with this Russia investigation. Today, we`re learning the FBI had a very different view, and that`s why the FBI raided Paul Manafort`s home.

The big news today, the FBI surprised Paul Manafort in a predawn raid of his home. This occurred in July, the first reported whole raid in the special counsel`s investigation into Russia ties.

According to new "Washington Post" report, the raid came the day after Manafort privately spoke to senate investigators and gave them his notes from that controversial Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.

That is a key detail. Manafort says he was already handing over evidence voluntarily. So, why did the FBI knock down his door to get that very evidence? The answer tonight is important. It offers key clues into where the Mueller investigation is heading.

One, this raid shows that Manafort is a priority in the Russia probe. They are going at him first.

Two, this raid shows that Mueller is following the money. NBC reporting tonight, the search includes scrutinizing Manafort`s financial dealings around the world.

Three, the FBI cannot legally just raid anyone`s home. It must prove to a judge there is good reason to think that Manafort`s home had evidence of a crime.

Reporter Rosalind Helderman broke the story. She writes that a judge may approve such a raid if investigators showed Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to, say, a grand jury subpoena.

Now, that`s crucial. A federal judge had to find cause that there was evidence of a crime in Manafort`s home. As former prosecutor Alex Whiting writes today, "a judge would have reason to think there was evidence of a specific crime in the location to be searched. And since it was Manafort`s house that was searched, it is likely he is implicated in the crimes, but that might not necessarily be the case."

Translation, investigators have cause to think there is evidence in Manafort`s house that somebody committed a crime. Him or maybe someone else.

And this is a very high-level raid. There`s no going back. Mueller and the FBI must`ve weighed the pros and cons of a predawn raid, designed to keep the defendant from destroying anything.

Mueller`s approval to go that route shows he was willing both to shake Manafort up and to communicate that they are playing this aggressively. That is an explanation from former prosecutor Harry Litman. He will join me along with two former Watergate prosecutors, a Washington reporter and the former chairman of the DNC in a moment on this big story.

But we begin with "Washington Post" reporter Rosalind Helderman. What were investigators looking for? And, Ros, why did this story break now?

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It broke now because now is when we were able to confirm it to put it in the paper. I think there have been some rumors over the last several days that such a raid occurred and it took a little work - journalistic work to nail it all down and get the details right.

A raid is a thing that ultimately is hard to keep secret. It may be a little bit surprising that they kept for as long as they did. I mean, when you show up with those FBI jackets banging on someone`s door, people can see that and it generally gets out.

MELBER: Do you know if Mr. Manafort informed anyone in the Trump circle or the White House about this at the time?

HELDERMAN: I do not know the answer to that question. I`ve seen some talk online noting that, on the same morning of this raid, the president tweeted some of his displeasure with the special counsel investigation, but we just don`t know if he was actually aware of the raid when he did that or if that happened to be a coincidence.

MELBER: Right. Fascinating. You have such a big story on your hands, so I want you to stay with us as I bring in some experts here. Former US attorney Harry Litman, July makes a former Watergate prosecutor and general counsel for the U.S. Army; Nick Akerman, also a Watergate special prosecutor; Francesca Chambers, who covers the Trump administration for "The Daily Mail"; and a former governor and former DNC chairman Howard Dean.

Nick, this is big. When you were doing Watergate, did you ever execute a search warrant raid like this?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Never, never.

MELBER: In all of Watergate?

AKERMAN: In all of Watergate. No, this is absolutely extraordinary. It means not only did they have, in a very detailed affidavit, this is a document that` provided to a judge, it puts together all of the investigation that`s been done to show probable cause, reason to believe that a crime was committed and evidence of that crime could actually be found in Paul Manafort`s home. So, this is a fairly major step.

And I can`t believe that Mueller would have done this without having some really solid evidence to go into a federal district court judge with to get a search warrant.

MELBER: And, Harry, continue on the point I quoted about what you say this means.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER US ATTORNEY: Sure. I mean, it`s true he had the evidence, but that didn`t mean he had to do the pre-dawn raids. I think the pre-dawn raid, which is the sort of thing you do with drug defendants and common criminals, was meant to send a message.

Not a message to the public at large. Mueller is not a grandstander that way, but a message to potential co-defendants that says, look, you may be used to gentle treatment, but this is not a gentlemen`s game. You`re looking at jail time, at being treated like a common criminal, you better think very carefully about whether you want to cooperate.

And I think this has a sort of seismic collateral effect within the White House now when everyone has to look around and size up who may be the next, who is cooperating, who isn`t all the while, of course, as they are having to figure out what to do with North Korea and other smaller matters of state.

MELBER: Right. You say your experience suggests this is seismic for the White House where we know other potential witnesses work.

MELBER: Jill Wine-Banks, speak also, though, to Harry`s point that we see this kind of maneuver, a secret and aggressive raid in drug cases and other criminal cases because there`s no belief or expectation that those potential suspects or defendants will cooperate with grand jury subpoenas.

Obviously, in more corporate settings, what you tend to see is an orderly grand jury request and then the documents and other evidence provided. Do you agree, Jill, that this suggests potentially investigators` belief that Manafort would not provide materials? In other words, break the law on an ongoing basis?

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR AND GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE U.S. ARMY: It certainly sounds like that. Could be the reason for asking for a search warrant, is to get things that you think aren`t going to be produced.

It`s also a message to other witnesses that if they don`t produce everything that is expected and requested that they too may face this kind of a raid on their home, something that will embarrass them with their neighbors and will become a public issue.

So, it can be an effective tool to get everybody to cooperate right away.

MELBER: Ros, you previously reported on the search for the documents about this now-infamous Trump Tower meeting with folks promising dirt on Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Kremlin.

You reported basically Manafort`s notes could provide information about what was said at the meeting and how participants responded back in July. Do you have any indication that this is now in Mueller`s hands and what that means?

HELDERMAN: We don`t know exactly. We do know that some of the records that were taken from Manafort`s home included documents that had been used to prepare his congressional testimony.

So, it stands to reason since he was testifying about that meeting that those notes or material that reflected the content of those notes were taken.

Our reporting also shows, as you indicated, NBC`s reporting shows that it included bank records and tax records belonging to Mr. Manafort.

It is important to remember that it appears as though the special counsel has consolidated some investigations that had already been underway into Mr. Manafort`s work unconnected with the Trump campaign. His work in Ukraine and potentially how he accounted for the money he was paid by political consulting contracts in Ukraine.

MELBER: Right. Which is fascinating if that foreign money trail is also part of this.

Nick Akerman and then Francesca, I`m going to ask you a legal question. So, I`ve got to ask it twice. Would these notes about this famous meeting with the Russians be exculpatory or inculpatory to Paul Manafort?

And two, same question, is it good or bad for Paul Manafort?

AKERMAN: We don`t know. I think the big evidence - everyone is talking about documents here.

MELBER: Yes.

AKERMAN: But if it were me, and all the search warrants I see that they do now, all include computers and data to be seized as well as documents. So, I think that the real proof -

MELBER: When using data - when you say data, so does that mean that Paul Manafort, say, texted a friend or a family member that same day and said you`ll never believe the meeting I just had. Is that, you`re saying, was something that could have gotten out his home?

AKERMAN: Oh, sure. They could`ve gotten that out of his computer. They could have seized his phones. They could`ve seized USB sticks. All kinds of data devices. And that`s where they`re going to really find the evidence.

If you go back to that June 9 meeting, certainly, what I would be looking for are all of the connections surrounding that, all of the communications that were made. And in particular, I would be looking at the unallocated space of the computers to determine whether documents have been destroyed -

MELBER: Which itself would be a felony.

Francesca, Harry said this is seismic in his legal view for people at the White House. Do you have reporting that suggests they agree with that assessment or what`s playing out today?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE DAILY MAIL": The White House isn`t saying much on this topic. I`m at the White House now. But most of the White House in either next door at Eisenhower office building or they`re in Bedminster, New Jersey with the president today.

Now, I did have a chance to speak with Paul Manafort`s spokesperson Jason Maloni and they are not saying much on this topic either. They`re saying that he is cooperating and they confirmed that there was, in fact, a raid. But whether or not he`s been called before the grand jury at this point is something that they`re not revealing.

MELBER: Ros, you also write another piece - there are so many pieces to this story right now that we want to get to and building on what Francesca is saying there about how it`s playing out.

You say Manafort`s allies, so I take that to mean people who are sympathetic to him politically or otherwise fear Mueller hopes to build a case against Manafort unrelated to the 2016 campaign, so he would provide information against others in Trump`s inner circle in exchange for lessening his own legal exposure.

A fascinating sentence. Do they fear that because they think there is a criminal case against him in unrelated matters or they fear that just generally?

HELDERMAN: Well, I would say that`s a pretty classic technique of federal prosecution. You build a case against one guys, bring it against him in and urge him to cooperate and share what he knows about others to get the bigger fish.

I think they fear it because that`s a terrible legal position for any person to be in. It`s also been suggested to me that he, in fact, doesn`t have any information to share about other members of the Trump campaign. That`s typically what people say regardless of what the ultimate outcome is going to be.

MELBER: Right. Governor Dean, we just went through a lot of the law and the investigative tools here. Talk to us about the right way to handle this sort of thing if you`re chief executive and any of the potential politics that you see in this charged inquiry.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT AND FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, the politics is extraordinary, but I think the legal stuff is much, much tougher. There was a firm, Manafort, Black and Stone - Roger Stone, who was somewhat notorious, shall we say - these guys have been playing with the Russians and Russian stooges like Yanukovych for a very long time.

And I think the notion that Mueller hopes to build another case and gets Manafort to turn is a pretty good one. They`ve taken large amounts of money. That`s public record. The ledger sheets have actually been in the newspapers. From Yanukovych, which means that money came from Putin.

So, this is pretty tempting. There`s a lot of stuff here that`s really extraordinary, including possible tax evasion. When you get large amounts of money, you don`t pay American taxes on it. That`s a problem too. So, this is a very deep, potential case. Manafort is a guy who`s been playing along the edges for a very, very long time with some incredibly unscrupulous people.

I think it`s unlikely they are not going to find something that he`s going to wish they hadn`t found. And that`s going to help him turn.

MELBER: Governor, you`re mentioning that there is this Kremlin-backed figure from Ukraine that basically had Manafort as a multimillion dollar paid consultant and advisor and that whole money to a -

DEAN: For a long time.

MELBER: For a long time. Now, governor, if you`re looking at this from the position of what`s best for the United States, what should the people who still work at the White House who are linked to this and the president himself do today, now that everyone`s learning the FBI - non-partisan - was so concerned about this that they knocked down his door in the morning essentially, not with the grand jury, but secretly, so they could get all his stuff. What should we be hearing from the White House?

DEAN: Well, what we should be hearing from the White House is we`ll give you whatever you want and we`ll be happy to open our records. I think that`s incredibly unlikely, given this president who has taken lots of Russian money and his son-in-law had said so that his business was heavily financed by Russians. So, that`s the problem and it`s almost too late to make a clean rest of it because there`s a lot of stuff in there and we`ll find out if it`s criminal or not.

MELBER: Such a fascinating story and one that`s, obviously, unfolding before our eyes because of Ros` reporting. Thank you to Ros. Governor Dean, Nick and Harry, stay with me. Ros, Jill, Francesca, thank you all. Really appreciate your expertise.

Coming up, who else should worry about these potential FBI raids? Does cooperation stop that knock on the door?

And Trump now reportedly was ad libbing when he made major threat to North Korea yesterday with "fire and fury." Later, we`ll dig into it with General Wesley Clark.

And have you ever seen the president attack the senate leader of his own party. Trump throwing shade at McConnell on recess.

I`m Ari Melber and you`re THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The FBI surprised Paul Manafort on the early morning hours there on July 26, pre-dawn, no warning. This raid came a day after Manafort spoke to congressional investigators.

And it tees up a major question. What does it mean to cooperate with the Russia inquiries? How does this approach compare to other FBI crime raids? And do other individuals in the Trump administration or orbit who say they`re cooperating, do they - as we were just discussing earlier this hour, do they have to worry about having that knock on their front door?

Or to be fair, was this for some legal reason, specific to Manafort`s situation? I`m telling you now, we may be hearing a lot about the word cooperation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I think it`s a very clear sign from Special Counsel Mueller, they`re not messing around, they`re serious about this investigation, they`re going to demand cooperation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: They`re going to demand cooperation. Back with me former Watergate special prosecutor Nick Akerman and former federal prosecutor and senior DOJ official Harry Litman.

Harry, I`ve spoken to you. You said you`ve overseen over 100 of these kind of knock raids that are judge approved. How do you get them approved and what is the purpose, the point of surprising someone in the morning like that?

LITMAN: Well, generally, you get them approved just by showing there`s probable cause, that there is evidence of a crime there and you want to do it typically to keep any evidence from being destroyed.

But I`ve suggested here that there is an ancillary reason, which has to do with sending a message to not only Manafort, but to other co-defendants, including - this is an important point that struck me.

The logic of going after Manafort for these old financial dealings with the pro-Russian Ukrainian forces is identical, indistinguishable from going after or investigating President Trump himself for his financial dealings with Russian entities over the last ten years.

In other words, Mueller has shown himself willing to cross the so-called red line that Trump drew about financial dealings pre-2016, which sets things up for a major showdown.

MELBER: Nick Akerman, a major showdown and one that some potential analysts or allies of Donald Trump are already turning back into an attack on Rod Rosenstein, who Donald Trump himself appointed.

Take a listen to Sean Hannity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, HANNITY: Russia investigation, which is being overseen by the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is beyond corrupt, beyond political and has now turned into an open-ended fishing expedition. And just like Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein has glaring, inexcusable conflicts of interest that we can no longer ignore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is there evidence for the idea that Rosenstein or Mueller are corrupt, as Sean Hannity is alleging, and why do you think he`s doing that?

AKERMAN: He doesn`t know what he`s talking about. He`s doing it truly political. My sense is, look, Paul Manafort was the campaign manager for Donald Trump. That is a very high official in the Trump campaign.

The allegation here is there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Mueller would not have gone into a federal district court judge without real powerful evidence on three points. One that a crime was committed; two, that there`s evidence of that crime in Manafort`s house; and three, there was a real danger that somebody would destroy that evidence -

MELBER: Right.

AKERMAN: - so you couldn`t use the regular process of a subpoena. This is a big deal.

MELBER: And that evidence, Harry, is potentially contemporaneous notes or data, we discussed, or the money trail. Put the money trail from an investigator`s perspective in the context of the fact that no money allegedly ever went from Donald Trump`s campaign to Paul Manafort, that he was the most senior volunteer in the history of American politics.

LITMAN: Yes. It has to be the latter. Look, there`s no doubt that, with or without a search warrant, they were going to get the notes from the June 16 meeting. He`s already turned them over to the House.

So, they must be interested in the sorts of financial records. And you`re exactly right. It`s not records that deal with Trump exactly. It`s those that deal with Manafort`s own adventures in the Ukraine.

So, in that sense, it`s like other special counsel prosecutions where they were looking at crimes specific to the person they were going after, like Webb Hubbell, as a way of turning the defendant into a cooperator and to someone who would fess up and give the information he knows against the bigger fish.

MELBER: Well, you both taught us a lot. Three highlights to that come out to me is, number one, you execute this raid because you want something other than the notes; number two, you want to surprise the individual, so there`s some FBI belief the individual might be engaged in a felonious cover-up or obstruction; and number three, you`re looking at money from a guy who didn`t take money from the Donald Trump campaign, which during the campaign was always odd, but he said he was doing it as a matter of service and belief. Now, obviously, the FBI might be looking at other reasons.

Nick and Harry, thank you both for teaching us so much tonight.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

LITMAN: Thank you.

MELBER: Now, the other story, of course, also significant. The world reacting to President Trump`s fire and fury comment. What did Trump`s national security team know and what didn`t they know?

Plus, Mitch McConnell, he goes there on a hometown speech slamming the president in a way he might not have heard before. Why now?

Stay with us on THE BEAT. You`re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: New reports, President Trump was ad libbing when he threatened North Korea with fire and fury. The presidents word surprised even his own team.

"The New York Times" reporting that actually the piece of paper you may have seen Trump looking down at was not about North Korea. It was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis. And Trump`s ominous warning was improvised. And among those taken by surprise was, yes, John Kelly, the retired Marine general who has taken over as White House Chief of Staff.

New, this hour, North Korea has now fully responded to the fire and fury threat, saying it`s a load of nonsense and vowing to finalize attack plans on the US territory of Guam by mid-August.

I`m joined by Hendrik Hertzberg from "The New Yorker" and a former Carter administration official and Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme Allied Commander and now a senior fellow at UCLA Burkle Center.

General, your thoughts on all of these developments?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER AND SENIOR FELLOW AT UCLA BURKLE CENTER: First of all, it`s no surprise that the North Koreans have managed to miniaturize nuclear weapons. They are reasonably competent people. They have had help from outside countries. And despite the best efforts of US anti-proliferation efforts, they were eventually going to reach this point.

They believe this is essential for their regime`s survival. So, they`re not likely to give it up. So, there`s a big shock now as this intelligence report came out. But the truth is we have deterred North Korea attacks on the South since the Korean War.

Sometimes, it was all open conflict, but we deterred them because they knew they would be destroyed if they actually launched another major attack. That deterrence still holds.

What we need to do now is de-escalate the rhetoric, work a diplomatic arrangement so that we can make sure they understand that their acquisition of a nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile changes nothing. They`ll still be destroyed if they do anything.

And maybe there`s a way of giving them greater reassurance, using economic sanctions, so forth, but got to be very careful what we say publicly.

MELBER: Exactly. You`re talking about being careful, Rick Hertzberg, on the spectrum, this is sort of the opposite of careful. It`s literally made up on the spot. I would note a lot of people took fire and fury to mean a certain type of weapon. But now that we know how made up it was, it may not have meant any weapon at all, which in a way, although this isn`t really good for the president, it`s not as bad as it may have looked to people who said, oh, that means X when it didn`t maybe mean anything.

HENDRIK HERTZBERG, SENIOR EDITOR AND STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": You said that this wasn`t scripted. I think it was scripted in this sense. I think he thought up that phrase himself, fire and fury. And when you watch the full segment of his saying it, it certainly appears that way because he goes back to it.

MELBER: All right. Let`s play it and then we`ll get your thoughts on it when we return.

HERTZBERG: OK.

MELBER: So, viewers can see again. Here was President Trump making these remarks heard around the world. We don`t have it? I thought we had it. Well, we had it at one point but he basically says they best not test us. We have this - we`re going to have fire and fury.

HERTZBERG: Right. And that`s a very - that`s not a phrase you come up with on the spot. No, I`m not - I think it`s absolutely impossible that he was given that phrase by any responsible person.

MELBER: We have it, let`s take a listen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HERTZBERG: Yes. And then he goes on to say fire and fury again. Obviously, this was not cleared with anyone. He doesn`t - does he have any - can anyone think of a person that`s close enough to him?

MELBER: I mean no, and that`s why when I ask the General, we`ve heard a lot of complaints about leaks. The people who leaked this information were in that room looking at the piece of paper and speaking on behalf of the national security team. Is this -- people close to the generals trying to make it clear they weren`t a part of this?

WESLEY CLARK, UNITED STATES ARMY RETIRED GENERAL: You know, it`s inconceivable to me that a President of the United States would react publicly this way with this kind of a statement without at least his Chief of Staff and the White House National Security Team clearing a statement. You just don`t do things like that. I mean, I`ve never heard of a President ad-libbing like this especially a President who`s not experienced in the region or in foreign affairs. So, it raises a lot of concerns about the direction of U.S. policy. And I say that for this reason because when I hear the administration say it`s intolerable that North Korea has the missiles and the nuclear weapons, it won`t be permitted, that`s what the President said at other times, where`s that coming from? And what`s it connected to?

Because if you articulate these goals like this you get in the same position as saying that we`re going to get rid Bashar al-Assad and then someone says, well how? And then you`re left with, well, I`m going to look to the military. And we`ve looked at the military for years. There`s no military option here. So what is it that we`re actually pointing toward? What I`m concerned about is I don`t want to see the United States march down the road to diplomatic failure here. And it`s all about settling the right context and then having the right objectives.

MELBER: Right. Well, General Clark, I appreciate that. I appreciate your context for the viewers because you`re saying let`s dial it down. Hendrik Hertzberg thank you so much. Now up next, President Trump promised to help with the opioid crisis. Why is he rejecting some of his own experts and what we`re now learning about the propaganda packets in the Oval Office?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Some of America`s biggest problems get the least attention. Drug and substance abuse impact millions causing problems with work, health and crime and tragically taking the lives of over 30,000 people on an annual basis, that`s 91 overdoses a day. Many hope President Trump`s talk about opioids could lead to more action. Trump created a Commission in March this week releasing recommendations drug experts say some of the ideas are promising like declaring a national emergency on all this, putting money towards treatment, and looking at alternatives to absence only programs including those pursued about by the Obama administration. Then the President spoke yesterday and he made it clear he is actually rejecting some of his own commission`s policy ideas in favor of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them no good really bad for you in every way but if they don`t start, it will never be a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Tackling complex health challenges of drug addiction as if they are only a matter of personal discipline has a long history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say yes to your life and whether it comes to drugs and alcohol, just say no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your brain and this is heroin. This is what happens to your brain after snorting heroin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Those ads often ended with someone asking any questions? And the answer is, yes. What do you if you`re already addicted and say first time abusers, should they be treated in a hospital or prison? Well, the Trump administration`s already answering this kind of questions with their own policy. They proposed cuts to the drug control office and also cuts to the prevention programs and they degraded the "use of opioid addiction medications and replacing one with another and they`ve taken a hard line approach towards drug use reminiscent of the war on drugs" as Mother Jones Opioid Reporter Julia Lurie explains. She joins me now along with Rick Berke, Executive Editor of STAT News, a publication focused on Medicine and Health and, of course, Dr. Governor Howard Dean back us with who`s worked on these issues from health and policy perspectives. I appreciate you all being here. Julia, what do you think of what Trump has rolled out?

JULIA LURIE, MOTHER JONES REPORTER: Well, you know, yesterday a lot of us were expecting him after he said that he had a big opioid announce. We were expecting him to declare a state of emergency. And that`s you know, the top thing that his Opioid Commission that he created had recommended to him last week. That is definitely not what happened. What happened yesterday as we just saw was he was basically recommending exclusively law enforcement tactics to combat this drug epidemic. So he wanted to increase the use of mandatory minimum sentencing, he wanted to crack down on drug dealers, he wanted to crack down on the Mexican border. There was almost no mention of treatment for active drug users.

MELBER: Right.

LURIE: There was -there was not very well informed mention of prevention. We know already that just say no does not work. People learn that the hard way.

MELBER: Let me take that to Dr. Dean. They are literally cutting prevention programs in the proposed budget.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: Right. Look, I think anybody who takes Donald Trump seriously as President of the United States is making a mistake. So it may not be - he did say essentially nothing but nonsense and pap yesterday. And maybe that`s good. Maybe the states are going to be the ones to have to really deal with this. We`ve learned a lot. Interestingly enough, I actually banned Purdue Pharmaceuticals Oxycontin from my formulary when I was governor and Medicaid probably 20 years ago because I knew it was incredibly addicting and that`s really in many ways what`s started all this. And then when they had to reformulate their drug so it couldn`t be cooked and snorted, heroin became the cheap substitute.

And that`s really how this exploded. I don`t think we`ll get any Trump help from Trump at all. Sessions has no idea what they`re doing. I`m not sure Price has any idea what`s going on and certainly, Trump doesn`t. The states are on their own here. Disease this is a disease. This is not some choice by evil people. This is a disease. We have to treat it as a disease. Should we go after the pushers? Sure. But the low-level pushers that are easy to go after are only feeding their own habits. The real - if they want to go serious, they have to go after the kingpins. And this nonsense that we`re going to have a wall from Mexico that is going to stop this stuff being imported is asinine. First of all, most of it doesn`t come in over the Mexican border anyway it comes from China and Afghanistan and places like that.

MELBER: Right. Let me go to Rick - let me bring Rick in on that and say, does the Trump administration have the balance that governor is proposing as looking at this as a health issue or not in your view?

RICK BERKE, STAT NEWS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, it`s interesting what the governor said about Purdue Pharma because that - we`re in litigation right now with Purdue trying to get the company to unseal documents about Oxycontin and the whole genesis of the opioid epidemic. And the genesis of it as the governor has said is not - and the problem isn`t necessarily law enforcement. It`s legal drug that`s have led to this opioid epidemic. I think that`s something that I`m not clear the Trump administration is seeing eye-to-eye with many of the experts.

The other thing I`d say, Julia has mentioned the expectation yesterday that the President would declare a national emergency, a national crisis on this, I talked to Michael Botticelli right before that announcement, the former - Michael is a former Obama drug czar. And I said what do you think of this thing that we thought Trump was going to announce? And he said, you know, it has merit. Even Obama`s drug czar was thinking declaring a national emergency had merit.

MELBER: That`s the whole - that`s the whole issue we`re hitting on. Exactly. And Julia, this is a commission that made some good points and then as with many other things, none of that seemed to go upstream to the President even though it`s his commission. Speak if you will to that and the political context that we now know from the President`s unvarnished thoughts when he talked about winning New Hampshire which he did win in the primary, not the general. "I won new Hampshire because it`s a drug infested den." Julia?

LURIE: Yes. So you know, he`s at a sort of interesting cross roads right now. On the one hand, he`s getting advice from Jeff Sessions and the Attorney General`s Office generally to crack down on drug dealers and on illegal immigration and things like that. On the other hand, he has this report that recently came out from the commission that he created to give him recommendations on what to do about opioids. And you know, that report came out last week and it did not mention law enforcement almost at all but what did it mention a lot was increasing access to treatment and to (INAUDIBLE) and you know, to a lot of things that would help people who are addicted get better. And so he sort of has to choose at this point. And to Howard Dean`s point, it`s kind of unclear what he`s going to do because he didn`t really say much yesterday.

MELBER: Well, he said - yes, I mean, we`re sort of out of time. He said almost nothing but he left people with the impression and what Sessions is doing with the impression that they`re going hard on mandatory sentences and not doing rest of it. The report, by the way, is a good read. I`m sorry we`re out of time. I hope we can return to this topic Julia Lurie, Rick Berke, and Dr. Dean. Thank you, guys.

DEAN: Thank you.

MELBER: What if the propaganda is coming from inside the White House? A new report that President Trump`s team is giving him a folder of only good news to read.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: You know, what they say the truth hurts which makes you wonder if maybe false information feels good. A new report suggesting Trump may be getting a distorted picture of current events because his own team gives him partial information designed to avoid painful truths. Vice News reporting Trump gets packet full of positive only news all about himself twice a day. A 25-page packet with screen shots of good cable news chyrons like ones you might see on this channel admiring tweets, transcripts of funny TV interviews, praise filled news stories and pictures of trump on TV looking "powerful." All of this may shed light on all sorts of moments in Trump history as well as the future of Trump information consider the launch of Trump TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you for joining us as we provide you the news of the week from Trump Tower here in New York. I`m Kylie Mckinane and that is the real news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I don`t know about that but I`m going to go right to a real News Professor. Jay Rosen writes the much read press thick blog. He`s a Professor of Journalism at New York University and he is a thoughtful critic of what all of us do. So thank you for being here.

JAY ROSEN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: You look at the propaganda file, does it matter if Donald Trump is misinformed when he misinforms the public?

ROSEN: Well, as a lawyer you know that we live in a system of checks and balances and one of the checks on the President was always a soon to be reality itself. With Trump, that has become a kind of obstacle to his agenda and to his psychology. He can`t actually handle a reality check. And that is why this spice report is so interesting because the staff is solving a kind of problem for him which is that he can`t survive a reality check and they`re giving him the positive news.

MELBER: How do you - yes. The question is how do you solve a problem like reality? And then you - then you were writing about we`re going to put on the screen, Trump as an information source and there`s a study looking at the trustworthiness of different sources of information and what people think is not trustworthy. So at the top, you have, you know, occupy Democrats, Brightbart, and Trump. Walk us through this chart. Those are the least trusted.

ROSEN: Yes. So Trump is here presented as an information source in himself. Widely mistrusted, compared to the others. And what I think is so interesting about this way of displaying the information, is that you know, one of the - one of the big trends in the presidency over the last decades has been the growth of executive power. And each president has assumed more and more power as you know as a lawyer.

MELBER: Right.

ROSEN: And with Trump, this has gone to a further extreme where he is trying to assert power over reality itself.

MELBER: Wow.

ROSEN: Over the definition of what will count as a fact over who will be trusted as a source of information.

MELBER: And when he sets that tone from the government, I mean, he`s using taxpayer dollars, public resources to do that. Here`s one example that hasn`t gotten enough attention. Anthony Scaramucci saying something about Trump that then was changed in the "government transcript" that we pay for. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I`ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I`ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a top coat on. He`s standing in the key, he`s hitting foul shots and swishing them. He sinks three-foot putts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He sinks three-foot putts. And then the government transcript says 30.

ROSEN: Well, that`s an expression of this idea that executive power is so majestic that it can extend to changing reality itself. And that`s what the aides are doing in that Vice report. That`s what Trump is constantly doing when he`s discrediting the main stream media. And it`s really a new concept in democracy that we can survive an executive who tries to redefine what is real in the world.

MELBER: Fascinating. Professor Jay Rosen, I`m a long time follower of your work. I really appreciate you coming in here.

ROSEN: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Now, you can check us out on Facebook and Twitter @thebeatwithari where we will give you our sense of reality. Next up, the Senate is on recess but it`s top Republican working overtime and throwing some shade at Donald Trump. Why Mitch McConnell told the President, this is what democracy looks like. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The Senate is on recess but Republicans aren`t taking a recess from infighting. Trump throwing shade at Mitch McConnell saying, "he said, I had excessive expectations. I don`t think so. After seven years of hearing repeal and replace, why not done?" He was responding to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCONNELL: Now our new President, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process, and so part of the reason I think people feel we`re underperforming is because too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating may not have been fully understood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Not fully understood. I`m joined by Ira Stoll, former Editor at the Conservative New York Sun, and Politico Contributor Virginia Heffernan Co-Host of Slate Trumpcast. Virginia, Mr. McConnell, a smart politician, what is he trying to do here and why say the President doesn`t understand?

VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN: Look, I love that you caught this throwing shade but this was not a Scaramucci rant, infinitely quotable rant from Mitch McConnell. I mean, he`s at a distance. He makes a whimsical joke about something we know to be true which is that the President is not in this line of work and has not done this before. That was a selling point of his base. That shouldn`t offend anyone.

MELBER: I think you`re being very fair which I appreciate but Ira, he`s got to know that no matter how measured the comment, Donald Trump will clap back.

IRA STOLL, FUTUREOFCAPITALISM.COM EDITOR: And look, this is a fight that Republicans don`t need. I mean, Donald Trump is already in a fight with North Korea, he is in a fight with the press. The last thing he needs is a fight with Mitch McConnell. They`re supposed to be on the same side. Mitch McConnell`s wife is Trump`s Transportation Secretary for heaven`s sakes. So the fact that this has degenerated to this level, you know, it just - it`s another example of Trump kind of turning governance into kind of reality TV and it is pretty disappointing.

MELBER: So as a conservative, do you think this is something the President should have left alone?

STOLL: Well, I think McConnell started it and if he thinks Trump`s expectations are unrealistic, he ought to say that to the President privately. He doesn`t need to get in a public disparaging match.

MELBER: Right. Well, Virginia, it is very 2017 for our political analysis to be, well, McConnell started it, although I take Ari point. It depends how far back you go. We put the tweet of Donald Trump out of the blue, originally tweeted, "the outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget reconciliation is killing R`s in the Senate" and all that.

HEFFERNAN: I mean, it`s - they`re both such wonderfully cartoonish men that of course, we want to make this a world wrestling federation thing. I just think conservatives may be excited about it because they`re worried about it because they don`t want to see more infighting. Liberals are excited about this kind of thing because we`re waiting for the Republicans to turn. We`re just on the edge and this is the word that`s not being spoken as we have the impeachment fantasy, every one of them. Every time one of them makes a sound or casts a vote that looks like it`s anti-Trump, everybody`s heart starts to pound faster. Maybe the leadership is turning. I`m not sure that`s happening. I think McConnell is looking out for his legacy as the most powerful man in Washington and I think this is his way of saying, I`m not to blame for health care.

MELBER: And Ira, would you say Mitch McConnell has not been productive in his first six months as Majority Leader or hold on to your hats because the fun is just beginning.

STOLL: I think It`s been a somewhat disappointing first six months but you know, President Obama didn`t get ObamaCare pass in the his first year either. Health care is complicated. On the other hand, Republicans have been promising to get rid of it for seven years as Trump correctly pointed out so you know, I think the impatience is a little bit understandable and so is a lack of progress.

HEFFERNAN: I mean, I like how Ira says he`s slightly disappointed, maybe a slightly disappointing in the last six months. I would call the last six months catastrophic. But you know, these are small shadings for difference. I think that neither Trump nor McConnell wants to be held responsible for the other man`s style, just so different from his. McConnell hates that Trump tweets, he hates that he`s a brander. McConnell is a proceduralist and obstructions is just kind of procedurals in reverse. Trump is not a proceduralist and has thrown out that handbook and they`re just going to fight like wrestlers.

MELBER: Right. And the undertow of this choppy waters is a failure on ObamaCare despite having the Republican majority that may give lie to the Republican promise that if we win, we`ll do what we said. In the first six months that hasn`t happened and we are done. Thanks for watching THE BEAT. Thanks, Ira and Virginia. "HARDBALL" starts now.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Pre-dawn raid. Let`s play HARDBALL.

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