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The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 9/6/17 Donald Trump Jr testimony preview

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Sharon Mcgowan, Helen Fisher, Liz Plank

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 6, 2017 Guest: Sherrod Brown, Sharon Mcgowan, Helen Fisher, Liz Plank

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": - want to have campaign in 2018 in this environment. Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy are wondering that tonight.

That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening, Ari. ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Good evening, Chuck. I`m from King County. And I will tell you, Reichert is probably the most popular sheriff in the history of Washington State.

TODD: There you go. That`s why Republicans are shedding a tear tonight. He may be the only Republican going to hold that seat.

MELBER: And as you know, yes, he was a real crossover player and was popular sort of apart from ideology. Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK: You got it, brother.

MELBER: We have breaking news tonight. A new report that Russian money made its way to Facebook in the 2016 election. The social media giant is telling investigators this evening, for the first time, they took the money and they ran the ads. The reporter who is breaking that story will join me on THE BEAT in a moment.

But we begin with this pressure mounting on Donald Trump Jr., the president`s oldest child. He will be grilled tomorrow by Senate investigators, who want to know why he attended, hid and then downplayed his meeting with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now, that action starts tomorrow.

It is easy to lose sight of how bizarre the situation we`re in right now is. Investigators grilling a member of the first family about his written delight at the prospect of foreign help to rough up a political opponent.

There`s no modern precedent here. A historian, consulted by MSNBC today, says no historical example exists and comes to mind of a president`s child facing investigators like this. And senators say, they are ready to make history.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: There are plenty of questions about the involvement of the Trump corporation as well as the Trump campaign with the Russians and other foreigners. I just want to hear what Mr. Trump has to say.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: His knowledge about financial dealings with the Trump organization and the Russians, whether it`s hotels, office buildings or other investment, is going to be very important, plus what was said at that meeting. I hope that he will testify under oath, in public in September.


MELBER: Those are some of the Senate investigators. For his part, Trump Jr. has barely spoken in the almost two months now since that explosive story broke about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians. He did one "Fox News" interview and he was more vocal back during the campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: This isn`t a campaign anymore. It`s a movement

It is brutal, right? To fight against the most corrupt candidate in the history of the presidency.

It`s time to bring in that change. Real change.

If Hillary Clinton were elected, she`d be the first president who couldn`t pass a basic background check.


MELBER: It is now Trump Jr.`s background that will be under the microscope, including whether, like Donald Trump, he had any kind any kind of secret motivation to be so positive about Vladimir Putin.

Trump Jr. famously channeling Spike Lee to suggest he knows one thing about Putin, he`s doing the right thing.


TRUMP, JR.: The one thing I know about Vladimir Putin, he`s doing what`s right for Russia. There`s no question about that. When I listen to the Obama administration, I`m not sure if they are doing what`s right for this country or if they are doing what`s right for our enemies. There are times I don`t even know. And as an American, that`s disturbing.


MELBER: I don`t even know. There are times he doesn`t even know. I want you to notice the allegation there, specifically. Don Jr. alleging it`s Trump`s opponents who put foreign interests above American interests.

Well, there`s a question for Don Jr. tomorrow and that is whether he was projecting, trying to project on to others perhaps a guilty quality inside himself. After all, Trump Jr. can`t defend himself tomorrow by saying he wasn`t at the suspicious meeting. We know he was there.

He has to find another defense that he was clueless or maybe that the Russians offering to help at the meeting were clueless or maybe that attempted collusion just isn`t that big a deal after all.

Joining me now is Dorian Warren, President of the Center for Community Change Action; Barbara McQuade a Former Federal Prosecutor, Annie Linskey, National Political Reporter for the "Boston Globe"; and John Harwood, "CNBC`s" Editor-at-Large. Thank you, everyone.

Barbara, this is an adversarial proceeding, but it`s not a prosecutorial one. How is it going to work in the grilling tomorrow?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I still think it`s a very significant event in the overall investigation. Of course, the mission of the intelligence committee here is looking into Russian interference with the election, a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal investigation per se.

But it is still a crime to lie to Congress and anything that Donald Trump Jr. says in this setting can be used against him in a criminal case later.

MELBER: Right. You mentioned that. And there has even been some back and forth wrangling about how to get transcripts from these proceedings into Mueller`s hands, which shows you, it`s just a hop, skip and a jump potentially, which is what makes some people nervous.

John Harwood, as for the mood which journalists look at, not just the facts, but how is it going. This from "People Magazine," Don Jr. "goes to work every day and is miserable. He can`t wait for these four years to be over." It says 4.8, John, but how does this all play out?

John Harwood, "CNBC" Editor-at-Large: Well, I think the mood is going to be very rough for Donald Trump Jr. in that room for no other reason than the fact that he`s been shown to have been dishonest in his original explanation for that meeting.

Remember, the statement he put out saying, well, we talked about Russian adoptions. That was belied by the emails, in which it was explicitly said that this was reflective of the Russian government`s support for Donald Trump and they were offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.

So, when you combine those smug video clips which you showed of Donald Trump casually suggesting that both Hillary Clinton was corrupt and Barack Obama was anti-American, to see that he had dishonestly portrayed this meeting with a hostile foreign adversary during the midst of the campaign, I think there are going to be Democrats and Republicans who want to go straight at him.

MELBER: Annie, speak to John`s point, because so much has changed in just these two months. There are people who were skeptical of Donald Trump`s claims in his appearance of warmth for Vladimir Putin, a quality he has not displayed towards anyone else, not his opponents, not other leaders of other countries, not his aides, not Republicans. For some reason, Vladimir Putin got this special pass.

And in the ensuing two months, we`ve learned, number one, his son testifying tomorrow got this special meeting, offering help to win the presidency from Russians; and two, they were seeking a deal help from the Kremlin to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Yes. I think, tomorrow, there is quite a bit of opportunity, for at least the senators, to learn a lot of new things because there have been confusing dispatches - it took quite a while to just figure out how many people were at this meeting.

But, for me, one of the biggest questions is Donald Jr. when he got an email to have this meeting setup, he responded in minutes. That`s astounding when you think about June 2016 in the heat of a presidential campaign.

And then the other piece of it that`s been just a huge mystery is the email exchanges kind of referenced a sense of familiarity about the subject matter and about the timing. And you got the sense that there were more conversations than were cleared from that email traffic.

So, I think that`s going to be an area that the senators are going to be probing quite deeply tomorrow.

MELBER: Dorian?

DORIAN WARREN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR COMMUNITY CHANGE ACTION: I think one of the big risks that Don Jr. faces here is the P word. You are the legal expert. He can`t be loosey-goosey with the facts because there is the risk of perjury here, right?

So, not only in this private session with this committee of staffers, by the way, many of whom will be trying to make a name for themselves and figure out how to box him in, but later on when he has to publicly testify, possibly later this month, he has to be very careful about the story he tells.

He is not on "Fox News" tomorrow. He is in this Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which, by the way, the Judiciary Committee, unlike the other committees, have been cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

MELBER: Right. And they have been coordinating. Barbara, on that point, Kathryn Ruemmler, who you may know as former Obama White House counsel, was on THE BEAT and she talked about how investigators benefit from asymmetric information.

On their side of the table, they have reviewed all the emails and other material, sometimes which a witness doesn`t have. Does that play out tomorrow?

MCQUADE: Oh, sure. It may be the case that they have information that Donald Trump, Jr. doesn`t have and he will be confronted with those, no doubt.

The tricky thing for him is he has to really walk this tight rope. Does he answer questions that could incriminate him about campaign finance laws. Accepting a thing of value from a foreign national in relation to an election is a crime. Or he could invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify against himself, but that looks terrible too.

So, when you`re a political figure and a target of a criminal investigation, you really have to be careful in deciding how you want to play that.

MELBER: Yes. It`s such an important point, particularly because there is an act of criminal investigation. But if you say, that`s why can`t talk, you`re saying a lot by saying nothing.

I want you all to stay with me. The other story we promised, this is breaking here within the last hour in our newsroom on Russia.

Facebook formally confirming that it did sell ads in the 2016 election to a Russian company that was seeking to target US voters. "The Washington Post" broke the story and reports Facebook says it traced the ad sales, totaling $100,000 to a Russian troll farm, with a history of pushing pro- Kremlin propaganda.

With me is the reporter who broke that story, Rosalind Helderman of "The Washington Post." It`s too important a story for me to ask how you get tickets to the troll farm and whether you can pet the trolls. I`m going to ask you that. You have an important scoop on your hands.

But for folks who are as into the trolls and the bots and the tech of it, explain to us at a geopolitical level why is it important that this happened and why is Facebook right now talking about it?

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, POLITICAL ENTERPRISE AND INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": So, there`s been an enormous amount of conversation about fake news, real fake news, which is to say actual false information, false messaging that was pushed out over social media platforms prior to the election.

The US Intelligence Community has said that the Russian government was behind some of those efforts. And people have been able to analyze what appeared to be fake accounts that pushed out ads on Facebook.

But for the first time, what we now have is Facebook itself saying that, in response to all these questions, they did a deeper analysis of some of the political advertising that was sold, starting in 2015, and that they believe that they have found evidence that it tracks back in particular to sort of a well-known troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia that`s known as the Internet Research Agency.

MELBER: Right. Which raises the question, well known to whom? But, I guess, among computer experts.

The thing about the troll part that seems important is Vladimir Putin taking out an ad on TV or on Facebook saying I`m Vladimir Putin, vote for candidate X. So, it seems that the subterfuge is a key part of these persuasion campaigns.

HELDERMAN: Yes. That`s exactly right. You have things like "RT," the state-owned or state-funded television network, which pushes out certain messages.

But when you watch "RT", you know that you`re watching a Russian government funded effort. What happens with these social media efforts is they`re much more covert. Basically, what you`ve got is accounts that look for all intents and purposes like Americans, look like someone down the street from you or in Iowa who is pushing out an ad or pushing out a story.

And for an American audience, that`s much more believable than a state-run television program in Russia. But it turns out it`s not an American. It`s not someone in Iowa. It`s a young tech employee sitting in an office cube in St. Petersburg, Russia.

MELBER: Right. And this is so important because it is, as we understand, a big part of how this all worked.

Annie, the White House has talked a lot where you`re standing about how they didn`t know what was going on and they shouldn`t be blamed for it even if potentially some meddling (INAUDIBLE 02:26) their benefit.

In normal business, you open up a fake company that could be fraudulent, that can be illegal. There isn`t anything automatically necessarily illegal about impersonating someone, right, online in a bot or a troll, and yet the big question here, which I don`t think this story yet answers, but the investigators are looking at is whether any of the intelligence used was the kind of thing that might involve Americans and their unique expertise, Annie, right, not just Russia?

LINSKEY: That`s absolutely right because the dot that`s out there has yet to be connected, but the one that people are looking for is how did this Russian company get their targeting information because there are only a small number of people in political campaigns who are sophisticated enough to know exactly which people are going to be moved by messages like that.

And that`s the kind of analytics data that`s closely held by campaigns because it`s really, really hard to figure out and to get.

There are a handful of journalists and experts who also understand that world, but the campaigns are the ones that really have their arms around it the most and understand it. And that`s where you start to wonder whether or not there would be a link between Trump`s analytics and the data patterns that were used at that firm.

Of course, that link hasn`t been established yet, but I certainly think that`s the question that is raised by Ros` excellent story.


MELBER: Go ahead.

HARWOOD: I was just going to say, think about how far we`ve come from the initial statements that there was no contact, much less collusion, and that the idea of collusion was ridiculous.

Now, we know that there was this meeting which Donald Trump Jr. is going to be questioned about tomorrow that was predicated on the offer of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

It is not crazy to think that investigators would want to run down whether or not the information in Facebook ads, the fake news that Ros was just referring to, that could be dirt on Hillary Clinton. It could be fake dirt, but it could be relevant to the question of what came out of that meeting, what was the exchange of information that was being proffered and might ultimately have been accepted, we don`t know the answer, but investigators are getting a lot closer than any of us can.

MELBER: And finally, Dorian, one of the things that Don Jr. has previously said is, well - again, this was all before the "Russia mania" is how he described why at the time it didn`t feel like a big deal.

He makes Russia mania sound like something that just popped up, right, which for many Americans they learned about it. Russia mania is a product, we`re now learning, of the meetings he was going to. That type of argument probably won`t get very far with these investigators.

WARREN: No. And he has to be very careful about his statements, as we said earlier, tomorrow in front of the Senate staff.

And to go back to Annie`s point, one of the big innovations in campaigns the last ten years has been the strategic targeting of potential voters using social media, and especially Facebook. So, it does raise a whole set of questions who knew what, when and where in terms of who to target for this campaign. It`s not like it was a scattershot at 100 million voters, potential voters, in terms of these ads. They`d had to be directed. So, there are a lot of questions yet to be answered here.

MELBER: No. It seemed to work on a certain level. I want to thank the panel. And, John, stay with me for another segment coming up.

Is a Republican lawmaker going rogue on Russia? We have questions of our own tonight. I have written a letter to Devin Nunes. I will explain.

Also, outrage over this controversial nominee to head the Civil Rights Division under Jeff Sessions` Justice Department. Some groups in the civil rights community raising questions. We have that story for you. It`s a new one.

And live tonight, I am going to speak with Sen. Sherrod Brown about Democrats rolling the president, getting some cooperation on a key priority.

All that, plus a BEAT exclusive, new data about love in the Trump era. I am not joking. It`s interesting. Stay tuned.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Becomes like sort of a moral grounds that you take depending on what political party you follow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn`t date a Trump supporter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn`t really matter if he supports Trump or not.


MELBER: But would you date, we`ll talk about it.

I am Ari Melber. And you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Should Attorney General Jeff Sessions be held in contempt and threatened with jail time? That may sound like an extreme threat that only Sessions` most strident opponents would push.

But it`s not coming from a Democrat. It`s coming from conservative House Republican Devin Nunes, who sent a letter calling on Congress to reserve an option to hold Sessions and the FBI director in contempt if they hand over evidence on that controversial dossier about Trump ties to Russia.

Nunes` unusual letter went public today. And it`s odd, like his other activities on the Russia probe. He had claimed, he would defer to the other intel committee members and temporarily have them take charge of the inquiry after drawing fire for appearing to use the inquiry to secretly prop up a Trump narrative.

He even snuck out of an Uber to huddle with White House aides over allegedly secret evidence that might help Trump, making him look more like the White House`s defender than an independent investigator.

And Democrats on the intel committee, which is typically one of the more bipartisan congressional committees, say Nunes never explained what evidence he gathered on that furtive Uber ride.

Nunes is also under investigation from the House Ethics Committee over those issues. And his Democratic counterpart believes this new letter isn`t even about Russian meddling at all. It`s about discrediting that dossier.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There`s an effort to discredit Christopher Steele rather than looking into how many of the allegations he wrote about were true.

What we should be most concerned about is whether those sources of information in the report are true, not in discrediting the author of that report.

And I think there`s a view, if they can discredit Christopher Steele, they can discredit the whole Russia investigation or the whole Russia involvement in our elections.


MELBER: With me now is Eric Columbus, a former senior justice official under President Obama, John Harwood back with me.

Eric, why do they keep bring up the dossier?

ERIC COLUMBUS, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO THE GENERAL COUNSEL, US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, the dossier is certainly, in the court of public opinion, contains all kinds of salacious and disturbing allegations against President Trump. And that may be very relevant. We don`t know this. May be very relevant to where Mueller is going at this point.

MELBER: And so, is this a proper use of the investigation?



COLUMBUS: Well, no. His letter is absurd. He`s threatening to hold Jeff Sessions in contempt. That`s not going to happen. He has, as we know, a bee in his bonnet about this investigation for a long time. We don`t know whether he trying to directly interfere with Mueller or prop up Trump in some other way or just trying to discredit Obama`s DOJ and FBI.

But he has issued a subpoena telling DOJ and FBI to produce these documents. DOJ and FBI have been slow to do so and they may have very good reasons for not wanting to give documents that are highly sensitive, directly impacting the investigation, to Congress, especially to a committee chaired by someone who has proven himself to be extremely unreliable.

MELBER: Right. You say unreliable. He`s out there kind of all on his own, John, which is different than the overarching inquiry.

This letter was really weird. I went ahead and did something special. I wrote my own letter to Congressman Nunes today. We`re awaiting on a response.

But we asked some key questions, like is your letter a formal part of this Russia investigation or a new separate one by your office? Is your letter part of an investigative effort to actually get to the bottom of the meddling or is it a new probe of the veracity of the dossier?

And we know, on April 6, he said he would have these other representatives take charge of the Russia investigation, pending the House ethics inquiry into his conduct. So, I asked him, are they still temporarily in charge? And if not, when did you, Nunes, basically resumed taking over this investigation?

John, those are some of the unanswered questions here.

HARWOOD: It is such a weird situation, Ari. Devin Nunes was discredited and embarrassed and his political reputation was tarnished by what happened earlier this year. And I think he`s trying to figure out some way to throw a long ball to try to show that he`s a person of substance with a serious investigative intent.

For the reasons that Eric said, the elements of the dossier that are the most salacious would seem to be from the outside the weakest point of the questions about President Trump because they seem so outlandish.

And so, you want to try to discredit that. Also, Christopher Steele was hired by a research firm that involved my former "Wall Street Journal" colleague Glenn Simpson. So, it involves somebody - a refugee from the news media.

And for all those reasons, I think he`s trying to rehabilitate himself with Republicans by going after the dossier and finding a different way to try to protect Donald Trump.

MELBER: Right. You`re talking about Christopher Steele, the key author of this very controversial dossier, which Adam Schiff and others have said overlaps with certain publicly-verified things, although not everything.

Eric, at the end of the day, if you take John Harwood`s theory, which is an interesting one, I would say even a charitable one, it still raises the confidence question of, is Nunes any good at this? Because every time he sticks his neck out in this one, saying, oh, I am going to hold the FBI director -

HARWOOD: We already know the answer to that, Ari. The answer is no.

MELBER: Eric, final word?

COLUMBUS: I am just amazed to see this family feud. At the Department of Justice under President Obama, we fought with Congress all the time, but it was a Republican Congress fighting a Democratic president.

To see the Republican Congress, Republican committee fighting with a Republican Department of Justice over its efforts to investigate a Republican president, we live in strange times.

MELBER: Right. With investigators like these, he just needs more investigators because he has some who are independent, Donald Trump, and those are tangling with his family, for example, tomorrow.

And then, if Nunes is trying to help them, it is not helpful. I don`t know that the Trump White House, what they want to talk about today is the dossier. Eric and John, thank you both.

COLLUMBUS: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up, why top Republicans say they "stunned." Late today, in a face-to-face meeting with President Trump, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is here live.

And growing resistance to the man that Trump picked ostensibly to protect your civil rights. We are going to explore that next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a great bipartisan meeting with Democrat and Republican leaders in Congress.

We had a great meeting with Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the whole Republican leadership group. And I`ll tell you what? We walked out of there - Mitch and Paul and everybody, Kevin, and we walked out and everybody was happy.

Not too happy, because you can never be too happy. But they were happy enough.


MELBER: You can never be too happy. Not even sure what that means. But there is some breaking news on policy here from the White House. And it is not making congressional Republicans that happy. We`ll explain.

They say they are actually "stunned" by Trump`s latest move, cutting this small deal with Chuck Schumer, shown in here, this new picture, dealing with the president there over short-term debt ceiling increases and some hurricane funding.

Trump cut off his own Treasury Secretary reportedly at one point. The room went silent as he undercut Ryan and McConnell. Republicans now complaining that Trump is basically empowering Democrats in Congress, one likening it to handing a loaded gun to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Now, we`ll just tell you, that was an overstatement. This was not a long term plan for say health care or infrastructure or taxes which the President is actually pitching today. This was a short term deal to help hurricane victims, the kind of basic government service that wouldn`t have been a dispute in first place except for the arguments of some Congressional Republicans. Now, the real fight ahead as Trump tries to make regular Americans pay more taxes so corporations can pay less. Some of it calling it populism but populism spelled backward. Joining me now is Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio and a Member of the Finance Committee, good day to you. What did you think of the President reportedly blindsiding Republican Leaders with this deal?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I don`t know blindside. All I know is the President did what he`s elected to do and that`s reach across and work with both parties. We`re ready to go. Let`s move on and do what we need to do with Hurricane Harvey. Let`s do what we need to do on the government paying its bills. Do what we need to do for continuing resolution. And now let`s move to what we should do bipartisanly and that`s tax reform. And the President -- I mean Republicans always move towards tax cuts for the rich. That`s the direction we know they will go. That`s what they used the healthcare bill to do.

And you know, I can support bringing the corporate rate down if the corporate rate is brought down for those companies that do the right thing. I`m introducing a legislation tomorrow called the -- two bills -- one is the Corporate Free Loader Act, the other is the Patriot Employer Act. So if companies do the right thing, they pay their workers well, if they`re not out sourcing jobs, if pay benefits, retirement, healthcare, they get a lower tax rate. If it`s a company that the government ends up subsidizing its employees with Section 8 Housing Vouchers, and with Food Stamps, and with Medicaid, then those should pay that corporate free loader fee.


MELBER: What portion of the economy is that?

BROWN: What`s that?

MELBER: What portion of the economy is that? I mean, that`s lowering the corporate tax rate for what percentage of companies?

BROWN: We`ve got to -- we`ve got to negotiate that. And the whole point though is that companies that are doing the right thing and this one incentivize companies to do it. Taxpayers shouldn`t be subsidizing companies that a ten and 11, $12 an hour because those employees are almost always on Medicaid. They`re often getting Food Stamps. And why should taxpayers pay for the workers for subsidizing those companies? And I mean, we know Ari, that corporate profits are up, executive compensation are up. Workers are more productive but they`re not sharing (INAUDIBLE)


MELBER: You mention the profits are up. The President has wrongly said they`re always have their taxes up and that Americans corporation have the highest taxes in the world. That`s not true. Do you think he knows that`s not true and is lying or is mistaken and doesn`t care?

BROWN: I don`t have any idea when the President lies. As you point out unendingly on this show, Ari, I don`t know if he knows or he just doesn`t or it`s a habit or what. But I do know we want to hold them accountable. And one -- as you point out, the populous -- the one percent populous bill that he`s pushing, one percent populous, I mean, I ask people to come to, my Web site Sign up to hold the President accountable on tax cuts because that`s what they`re going to want to do. It`s the Republican go to where they always go on taxes is cut taxes at the top and everybody else pays for it.

MELBER: So I`m not -- I`m not such a soothsayer but hearing from you that it`s unlikely you`re going to get to an agreement with this President on taxes?

BROWN: Well, it`s -- perhaps and particularly with House and Senate Republicans. But I think we make for contrast. They want to cut taxes on the drug companies when Wall Street -- right now, you just know and the Senate Majority Leader`s office, the lobbyists just like on the health care bill. A handful of lobbyists, drug company lobbyist, Wall Street lobbyist, wrote that bill behind closed doors. They`re doing it again on Taxes. We don`t know what they`re writing. We -- this started off a few weeks ago. Speaker Ryan had a -- had a sort of a booklet. In fact, it had pictures of tractors and factories and all with outlines of a tax bill.

Then Mnuchin, the Secretary of Treasury came up with a one pager and now, Trump is - we don`t even know what he`s doing but we do know they`re doing it behind closed doors. That`s why you hold them accountable. That`s why we ask people to come to sign up and push back when they go where they always go, and that is more tax cuts for the rich. That`s why our Patriot Employer Act will work to make that contrast. What we stand for, what they stand for, here`s how we want to govern and let the public make that comparison.

MELBER: Right. I mean, I know the old saying is you campaign in poetry and you govern in prose. It sounds like your view here is that Donald Trump campaigned on labor and governing for Wall Street. We will keep an eye on whether you do reach any kind of deal. We`re out of time but real brief.

BROWN: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: OK, Senator Brown, thank you. I appreciate it. Coming up, why civil rights groups are sounding the alarm about the man Trump has picked to yes, protect civil rights.

And later, a BEAT exclusive, is voting for the opposite candidate a deal breaker in the world of love? We have brand new exclusive data from some of the top dating apps, ahead.


MELBER: Today the Senate grilled Donald Trump`s pick to oversee civil rights in America. So if you don`t know this man, you probably should. Eric Dreiband is Trump`s controversial pick to be the lead prosecutor for civil rights at the Justice Department, a sensitive post under Jeff Sessions. Civil Rights Group saying, he`s the wrong person for the job, citing his work defending corporations against discrimination complaints and areas ranging from religion to transgender bathrooms and that he personally took a position against a law advocating equal pay for women. This post also touches on voting rights. Today Dreiband try to soft pedal a question about Donald Trump`s false claims of rampant national voter fraud.


ERIC DREIBAND, CIVIL RIGHTS NOMINEE: I am unaware of the data about voter fraud in the United States. I`m not aware of any data about what I think you`re asking about which is whether or not there were millions of votes cast -- fraudulent votes cast in the 2016 election. I`m just not aware of that data at all.


MELBER: Congressional Black Caucus says, Mr. Dreiband`s appointment follows Trump`s agenda of tapping the fox to guard the henhouse. Now, Dreiband has GOP credentials, he was a prosecutor under Kenneth Starr and his allies say he has civil rights experience in working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Bush. As a lawyer, you can certainly represent just about any client and go back to public service. The question here is more about policy. Civil rights advocates saying that his commitment to enforce laws on voting equal pay and fair housing and hate crimes are in doubt. In the 1960s, the head of the Civil Rights Division was John Doar. He personally escorted James Meredith through (INAUDIBLE) and literally stepped between protesters and police to try to avoid violence there.

Under Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, the question is whether the leadership qualities for this key post may be changing. Joining me now for this important discussion, Sharon McGowan is Director of Strategy Lambda Legal and an LGBT group which does oppose the Dreiband nomination. James Peterson is Director of African Studies at Lehigh University and MSNBC Contributor. Thank you, both. Sharon, your view of the hearing today and what comes next.

SHARON MCGOWAN, LAMBDA LEGAL DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY: Well, I have to say I was really quite disappointed but I understand the position that the Committee was in because Senator Grassley packed today`s hearing with two courts of appeals nominees with Dreiband and with two other district court judges. So we were in a situation where you had individuals who were trying to drill into his record but basically had one round of questions somewhere in the range of seven to ten minutes. And so as a result, you know, Dreiband was able to evade and elude the kind of questions that he really should be asked to answer before he`s handed over the keys to what has always been known as the crown jewel of the Justice Department, the Civil Rights Division.

MELBER: And Professor Peterson, you have someone who`s going to be charged with enforcing civil rights but is taking positions like I mention, against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It`s hard to kind of come up with a reason why women shouldn`t get equal pay.

JAMES PETERSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You`re absolutely right. It`s also very hard to not find the data that`s out there on voting piece. It`s clear that there were not millions of illegal votes. Ari, we have to put this in its context. Let`s look at this Department of Justice for one second. First of all, the appointment of Jeff Sessions in and of itself, it raises a number of different alarms. Let`s look at what they`ve done. You know, the recusal from the Russia piece, the ending oversight of law enforcement, support for voter purges, signaling attacks on affirmative action. I mean, there`s a laundry list of things that raise alarms for all kinds of civil rights groups, so Mr. Dreiband is sort of -- is in that particular context.

And so, within that context ,it makes sense we should -- we should be rejecting this. And as Sharon has pointed out, they stacked the deck today so they overloaded, so we really couldn`t get the kinds of questions and answers that we needed out of this particular appointment. And it looks as if the DOJ is trending towards being the opposite of what it`s designed to be from its leadership all the way through. I mean, at one more piece into, Ari, they`re going to be removing about 120 positions from the Department of Justice. And all of this is on the week where we should be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the forming of the civil Rights Division within the Department of Justice.

MELBER: Right. And that Civil Rights Divisions was as you mentioned, it was formed because there was a recognition that this type of hate and this type of discrimination required a federal response. We`ll look at where we are now in the rise in hate crimes, hate group in the United States against Muslims more than doubling, almost tripling. 23 percent rise in neo- confederate groups. Professor, it would seem this is a time where you need someone very robust to prosecute these cases even though, I would say that the office and Mr. Dreiband are not a household name as of tonight.

PETERSON: Definitely not. But are we going to -- can we expect to get this from this administration? I mean, in the wake of Charlottesville, this is more than irony. This is despicable from the perspective of civil rights groups. You know, we need leadership here, not the sort of -- you know, Steve Bannon talks about the deconstruction of the administrative state. It`s a misuse of the term deconstruction (INAUDIBLE) is probably rolling his grave. What they are doing is destabilizing and destroying important institutions. And the nomination of Mr. Dreiband is just one more in this long sort of litany of the Trump administration`s attack on civil rights and equity and equality in this nation.

MELBER: Yes, it`s such -- it`s such an important battle that comes after weeks of speeches about unity, about race. Here is action on race and the question being whether this is the right person to lead what should be a nonpartisan action. Sharon, I want to --

MCGOWAN: Ari, can I just jump in because I just want --

MELBER: I can`t, I can`t because we`re out of time --

MCGOWAN: All right.

MELBER: -- but I know your group has been leaning on this so I appreciate you joining me and James Peterson. Thank you, both.

MCGOWAN: Thank you.

MELBER: Straight ahead, a bribery trial against a sitting U.S. Senator which could impact the Trump agenda and as promised, we have that exclusive report on dating in the Trump era. Are people less likely to date across party lines?


MELBER: Today a big political question put to a serious test. What counts as bribery today in America? Opening statement on a Democratic Senator Bob Menendez` trial. He`s from New Jersey and he is charged with selling his office for a lifestyle. Prosecutors throwing the book at him saying there`s bribery, conspiracy, and lying. Prosecutor say Menendez accepted over half a million dollars` worth of private flights, free vacations and political donations from the South Florida doctor who received political favors from Menendez in return including help with fraudulent Medicare patients and visa`s for this donor`s girlfriends.

That`s the Prosecutors` allege. Now the case against Menendez is a legal matter, it doesn`t look close, it looks overwhelming. In fact, the only legal defense left is what you could call the Governor Bob McDonnell defense which would be, OK, I took unethical gifts but I would have helped this donor friend of mine any way. But it was a unanimous Supreme Court decision that overturned McDonnell`s conviction. They criticized his conduct but ultimately ruled that vague corruption standards would be dangerous and give prosecutors too much power. Menendez meanwhile saying he always opposed corruption and will prevail.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ, (D), NEW JERSEY: I started my public career fighting corruption. That`s how I started. And I have always acted in accordance with the law. And I believe when all of the facts are known, I will be vindicated.


MELBER: We don`t know what will happen and if he will be vindicated. But if a politician can take the kind of gifts that Menendez already has already taken and be acquitted, then you have to ask if there`s something wrong with all of this corruption laws in the first place.

Now, coming up as promised, our BEAT exclusive, what new data shows about a growing polarization in dating in the Trump era.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn`t date a Trump supporter. Voting for Trump signals something about what you believe in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn`t really matter if he supports Trump or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think it matters. That`s their personal preference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I talk to like the person I`m dating about politics straightaway because I`d rather not be like called out like a few, like months of seeing me like, guess what, I like -- I love Trump.


MELBER: If you voted for Clinton, would you date a Trump supporter? If you voted for Trump, would you give your heart to a member of the resistance? We have an exclusive on THE BEAT tonight probing how today`s intense politics are impacting our culture and our dating culture. It may seem like it`s harder to date across party lines in the Trump era but it`s that true? Here at THE BEAT, we asked several leading online dating apps for their most recent data. Now, we found while our hearts may be red, it`s getting harder for people to mix red and blue. A majority of people who use say they are less open to dating across party lines than they were two years ago. And a poll after the election, two-thirds of Republicans and Independents say it`s more important their potential dates hold views that similar to theirs and for Democrats that jumps to 82 percent according the dating app, coffee meets beagle. They pulled over a thousand users.

Now, one site even asked people to compared their priorities on politics and sex. Finding a 30 percent jump since the election and people saying the same politics is even more important than the prospect of "good sex with their dates." That`s OkCupid as well. Now, if there`s one person that can change your mind even when it seems made up is probably your spouse or partner. So what does it say that in the age of Trump, more and more people who want to partner who is of one mind about politics? Well, we have a very special panel. Dr. Helen Fisher is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute and Advisor to and author of the book Why We Love. Her Ted Talk, the Brain In Love has more than 9 million views. I`m one of them. Liz Plank is a Political Correspondent for Vox. She`s reported on how politics can impact dating. Thanks, both of you for being here. Liz, let`s start with you. As a very political person, does this surprise you and match what you`ve found in your reporting?

LIZ PLANK, VOX POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I mean, I`ve been asking people this question in the lead up to the election, and what I heard was what we heard in your clip. So you know, there`s a lot of resistance to inter-political dating. This is actually a new phenomenon. So if you look at you know, data in the 1960s for example, if you asked parents if they would be, you know, concerned if their child dated someone of a different political party, four or five percent of them would say that made them uncomfortable. And if you look at the date that more, you know, recently it`s been coming out, it`s almost 50 percent. And then you look at 2016 and what this election has done in terms of you know, partisanship and polarization and it seems like this is getting worse, not better.

MELBER: So Dr. Fisher, is this a new thing, is it a bad thing?

HELEN FISHER, MATCH.COM CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR: At first I do think it was a bad thing. I mean, 67 percent of singles are moving farther left if they`re left and farther right if they`re right. So the polarization is really going on. And the -- I think the major feeling is oh, this is terrible. But the bottom line is you know, these people are looking for a partner to spend their entire life with. And what people are really doing now is they`re changing their profile to say I`m more left or I`m more right. They`re being transparent. They`re telling people who they really are. And singles today want to know every single thing about a person before they tie the knot. I call it slow love.

And then transparency, their political values, they`re putting them out on the table, they`re discussing them earlier and earlier in the relationship, and I think that that`s valuable. Because you`re going to live your life with this person, you`re going to spend your DNA with this person. You can`t get into this conversations you know, two years into the relationship when you`re already so madly in love, that you got something you got to work around. And one thing that I found so interesting is that 70 percent of single say that you know, dating somebody from -- discovering that somebody has voted for Trump or of the other party is a deal breaker. Well, if you`re in the world of deal breakers, you might as well know what they are right off the bat.

MELBER: So you`re saying for the heart, if he is a deal breaker, be transparent with your partner--

FISHER: Get out of it -- get rid of it fast, you can go on. I mean, I`m really impressed actually with the millennials. They are the most likely to be transparent. They`re the most likely to raise it right off the bat. And these are people that have got to make their long term partnerships with somebody. What was interesting is when you said that you know, the political conversations now is important as some having good sex. And when I saw that data, I thought to myself, you know, sex is only part of a partnership whereas your values permeate everything.

MELBER: Right. There`s -- and that goes to what we`re seeing in some splits. Republican women here telling OkCupid, that they were twice as likely to be willing to date outside their party. So, Liz, do you think this can fade, though, if we have someone different than Donald Trump that`s so polarizing?

PLANK: Well, and the thing is that it`s not just about Donald Trump, too. If you look, even amongst -- you know, people who identified as progressive. I was in a bar recently and overheard a friend talk about this guy which she was going to go on a date and she worked for the Clinton campaign and she said he had a Bernie sticker on his bike. Right, it`s Bernie versus Hilary. You know, he (INAUDIBLE) for Gary Thompson, right? It`s so -- this election was so polarizing. And it`s not just blue, not just red, it`s not just men, it`s not just women.

FISHER: It`s values. It`s all kinds of values.

MELBER: All kinds of values. Thanks to Liz Plank and Dr. Helen Fisher. Question for you, if you backed Clinton, would you date a Trump supporter, and if you backed Trump, would you date a member of the resistance? You can let us know. We`ll read some replies on-air on Facebook and Tweeter @THEBEATWITHARI or you can always e-mail me at ARI@NBC.COM. This is what we call a talker. I`ll see you back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is next.




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