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The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 9/29/17 Tom Price is out

Guests: Heidi Przybyla, Howard Fineman, Howard Dean, Rev. Al Sharpton, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Darren Soto

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 29, 2017 Guest: Heidi Przybyla, Howard Fineman, Howard Dean, Rev. Al Sharpton, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Darren Soto

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Thank you, Chuck. Have a great weekend.

Breaking news right now, Tom Price, President Trump`s point person on Obamacare is out, ousted from the White House on a Friday night staff shakeup.

This is clearly, certainly, the most significant policy staff change that Donald Trump has made to his team and it comes as Price was under fire for that private jet scandal boiling all week and at a time when Trump just comes off losing that key Obamacare fight.

Now, Price wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private jets. Late today, Trump announced that he would decide whether to fire Price "tonight," which was quickly followed by this announcement asserting that Price resign.

Joining me now live from the White House briefing room is NBC`s Kristen Welker. Kristen, what was the nail in the coffin for Price tonight?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the fact that there were days of negative headlines and that it kept mounting, Ari. And the president was growing increasingly angry, felt as though this ran counter to his campaign promise to drain the swamp, felt as though it was distracting from his agenda quite frankly.

Let me read you a little bit of what Secretary Price had to say in his resignation letter. He writes, "I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives." And I think that was really the crux of it, Ari. It seemed as though this was distracting from what the president wanted to be talking about.

In a way, the writing seemed to be on the wall. If you go back a couple of days, he was asked if he planned to fire Price. The president said, we`ll see. And then, yesterday, he was asked if he still has confidence in Price, he didn`t respond to that question.

And then, right before leaving for Bedminster, he again sort of voiced his frustrations with these headlines and with the fact that Price had spent so much government money.

MELBER: And that goes to the big question as your reporting shows, was it the headlines, the scrutiny and the attention and not the underlying conduct, all that wasting of taxpayer dollars. Kristen Welker, working the Friday night at the White House. Thank you for your reporting.

I want to turn now to "USA Today`s" Heidi Przybyla, "Huffington Post`s" Howard Fineman, and Dr. Howard Dean, a former governor and DNC chairman.

Governor Dean, what does this say about Tom Price`s tenure and the state of Obamacare as well?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: I`m not sure. I`m sure that Trump is - Trump is already sabotaging Obamacare. He`s basically by executive action undeclared (INAUDIBLE) to cut out and Price was his henchmen for doing this, all the funding for navigators, all the funding for helping people to sign up for this.

So, I think Trump - Trump hates to lose. And when he does, he usually lashes out and doesn`t have much regard for the law. So, he`ll probably put another guy like Price in there to do his dirty work for him.

MELBER: Howard, take a look at the many people who have departed this administration. We have been through this on Friday nights before. This firing, though, matters to a lot more people, if you think about the policy implications as opposed to say The Mooch there on the far-right part of your screen.

But the national security advisor is out, Sean Spicer was out, Reince Priebus was out. Now, Tom Price there, lower right, on the full screen you see. Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon. A lot of people have been run out of this administration in a short amount of time.

Howard, how do you view this?

HOWARD FINEMAN, GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, I agree with Howard Dean that in terms of policy, this isn`t going to make any difference particularly.

I think Donald Trump was pressed by the politics of it. As you said, as Kristen said, he campaigned as a swamp drainer. And Tom Price was one of the bigger, hungrier alligators in the swamp.

He had to get rid of him and he never should`ve nominated Tom Price to begin with. If you took five minutes to look at Tom Price`s ethical record, he would`ve seen that when Tom Price was a member of Congress -

MELBER: Let me hold on that, Howard. We`re going to get to the ethics, but just on the Obamacare part, for your reply, I want to play for you, Donald Trump saying something that he often likes to say, but apparently is kind of what happened this week, saying that it was key that Tom Price help him get this repeal vote on Obamacare, which, of course, failed this week.

Take a listen from July.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hopefully, he`s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare. By the way, you`re going to get the votes?

He better get them. He better get them. Otherwise, I`ll say, Tom, you`re fired.


MELBER: And today, Howard, he`s out.

FINEMAN: Boom. Boom, yes. First of all, I`m not sure that he wanted Price to begin with. I think that was one of the establishment Republican type picks he was convinced against his will, probably the guy from the Hill will be good.

Tom Price, like Mitch McConnell, didn`t deliver. So, he was on thin ice anyway. And then, not only did he take all these flights, he agreed, as of yesterday, only to pay back a small fraction of the amount he owed. So, he was tempting fate with Trump.

Look, we`ve so lowered the standards here in this cabinet, in my view, in terms of possible conflicts of interest, in terms of the history of these people, in terms of the president of the United States doing deals at his own hotel down the street from the White House, that when somebody who`s such an obvious chiseler gets booted, the president can take some small sense of satisfaction.

But only very small because this begs the question of what other conflicts of interest, what other flights, not to mention a tax bill that "The New York Times" says will save Donald Trump $1 billion. Where is the outrage there?

MELBER: Yes. Howard, you make the point the bar is low. Heidi, there`s an old country song " from the gutter to you ain`t up" and that`s how a lot of people feel looking through all of these jet scandals.

And then you look at the tenure, Heidi, compared to Tom Price here, coming in at just eight months on the job to other folks who served in the health secretary job, I mean, most people go years, not months.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "USA TODAY": Well, Price is off the island, but the question here is, is this just the top layer of a much more problematic culture within this administration, where you have literally a record number of billionaires, lobbyists and bankers who are not just running the agencies, but actually calling the shots at that layer just below cabinet secretary level.

And you`ve already seen some evidence of that with folks like Stephen Mnuchin, thinking that he should be able to take a military jet for his wedding honeymoon.

Now, looking into possibly the jet travel of two other cabinet secretaries as well that may have been running up the dollar on that.

Just like corporate culture, you have to ask the question whether there is a tone being set at the top when, for instance, we`re talking here about Secretary Price spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Trump, talk about optics, is at his golf course this weekend and he is taking really a record number of trips here that cost millions of dollars on the taxpayers` dime, straining agencies like the Secret Service.

MELBER: You`re making such an important point here about why it`s bigger than Tom Price. I mean, Heidi, pick your dystopian movie or novel that you like, Animal Farm comes to mind, though, in that the offense of Tom Price, right, was bilking the government for taxpayer spending on travel, something that Donald Trump has been doing a lot of.

We`ve covered on this show. I know your paper has cover it. I think "Huffington Post" where Howard is has covered it.

The journalism is out there. The knowledge is out there. The emperor wastes a lot of taxpayer dollars too. And apparently, that was the firing offense, Heidi, for Tom Price.

PRZYBYLA: That is the great irony of this administration, is the thing that allowed a gold-plated, literally billionaire who lives in the sky in Manhattan, to appeal to the forgotten man. Why? Because he convinced them that he was going to drain the swamp.

We never really understood what that meant. Well, now, we`re finding out it most certainly does not mean kicking out the billionaires and the bankers who the forgotten man feels is taking advantage of them.

It means going after the civil servant. It means going after the agencies like the EPA that are problematic for their industry billionaire friends. And I think, right now, Ari, America - really, the idea of America is built on revolt against this type of aristocracy or feeling of entitlement.

And right now, I think the American people and his base are OK with this because they feel like it`s OK if he`s winning as long as I`m winning.

But when you have things like this tax plan coming out, like the budget that overwhelmingly favors the wealthy, like the budget which has cuts to many low income and middle-income programs, the question is when the American people start to feel that they aren`t winning too.

MELBER: Well, Howard, Heidi used the W word, the winning. I mean, this has not been a week of winning for Donald Trump. He lost a GOP primary. He lost a health secretary tonight. He lost Obamacare vote.

DEAN: Which Howard?

MELBER: Great question. Fineman? Fineman first.

FINEMAN: Well, yes, clearly. And I think Heidi`s point, among others, among many good points, is that Donald Trump can`t afford to have this kind of thing be the number one topic of conversation.

And Tom Price had made it the number one topic of conversation because then you quickly get to Mnuchin, then you get to other frequent flyers, then you get to Mar-a-Lago, then you get to the hotel down the street, then you get to the tax bill, then you get to the budget, then you get to the whole idea of Donald Trump as a billionaire supposedly cleaning things up in Washington.

So, you pull the threat of Tom Price and you unravel the whole thing potentially. And politically, this is the kind of thing that Main Street America, that swing state America, that voters who voted for Donald Trump will understand and conceivably get shaken by.

So far, nothing that Trump has done has shaken their resolve. This is the kind of thing that if it continues as a narrative is a mortal threat to his presidency. And I think Donald Trump understood that.

MELBER: Right. And you`re putting your finger on something we`re going to be covering more on the hour, which is the corruption. There is a stench of corruption. There is evidence of corruption.

DEAN: Culture of corruption.

MELBER: That goes to the swamp. So, you said, Howard Fineman, you would defer to the other Howard. We appreciate that because we`re going to release you and Heidi. Thank you both. And the other Howard, Governor Dean, stick around. I want to talk healthcare with you. And we`re going to stay on this breaking news tonight.

Next, we`re going to look at Trump`s promises, as I just mentioned, on the swamp. How does this shakeup address the larger problem? I have the Reverend Al Sharpton making his debut on THE BEAT.

Plus, growing outrage over Trump`s handling of, of course, this humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. The mayor of San Juan with an emotional wake-up call.


CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN: If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying and we`re going to see it`s something close to a genocide.


MELBER: I`m going to speak to a Congressman about that. Also, big news on Vice President Mike Pence and Bob Mueller`s Russia inquiry. We have a lot more news to cover. I`m Ari Melber and you`re THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Breaking news. Tom Price is being ousted from the Trump administration. Trump aides now claiming he resigned shortly after Donald Trump said this today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to take any action on Mr. Price?

TRUMP: We`ll see what happens. We`ll see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what about your other cabinet members?

TRUMP: We`ll see. I mean, we have a - he`s a very fine man, but we`re going to make a decision sometime tonight. He`s a very, very fine man.


MELBER: Fine man, a compliment that now looks like the kiss of death. And Price is not only gone because of his own failures, as we were just discussing on the top of the show, there is something larger hear about the Trump administration. Donald Trump is trying to claim he will drain the swamp. Meanwhile, you have a cabinet secretary who came to personify the swamp.

Take this exchange on "Fox News," which turns out to be Price`s last interview on the job.


BRET BAIER, "FOX NEWS" HOST, "SPECIAL REPORT": You are saying the statement that taxpayers won`t pay a dime for my seat on those plane, but we`re writing a check for, we understand, from your officials, $51,887. The total cost is estimated at more than $400,000 for the 26 flights since May. Is that OK?

TOM PRICE, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Well, as I said, there`s an ongoing review being done by the Inspector General.


MELBER: Here are the facts. Price was basically offering to pay 13 percent of the total cost of his private plane use. That means you pay the other 87 percent.

The swamp doesn`t stop there, though. Several other Trump officials under fire for their own private jet scandals.

I`m now joined by a very special panel. Reverend Al Sharpton who needs no introduction, but is the host of "PoliticsNation;" Aisha Moodie-Mills, president of the Victory Fund; and back with me, Dr. Howard Dean.

Rev, you look at the situation, does it stop with Tom Price or is he just the beginning of the hypocrisy?


I think that if you look at the fact that we have a president that openly not only travels a lot and vacations a lot and plays golf while we`re in the middle of hurricane disasters, we have a president that now has government officials, Secret Service, et cetera, that stays in hotels that he owns and makes money from.

So, if you have a president -

MELBER: So, he`s paying himself.

SHARPTON: Yes. If you have a president that engages in unprecedented amount (INAUDIBLE) to his property that runs up all kinds of hotel bills to himself, then, I guess, 26 private plane trips at government expense might be considered minor by one of his cabinet members.

MELBER: Well, Rev, you know who was a big critic of private plane travel? Tom Price.


MELBER: Because you know. Take a look at him on the House floor in 2010.


PRICE: Well, I want to say to the speaker, don`t you fly over our country in your luxury jet and lecture us on what it means to be an American.


MELBER: Speaking, I should say, at CPAC about Nancy Pelosi from the House. This ultimately did catch up with him, though, because of the reporting, because of the journalism.

SHARPTON: It caught up with him because of the journalism. And then, what do they say, a preponderance of the evidence. You`re talking about - we`re only in the ninth month of the presidency. How do you take that many trips at government expense, whether it is authorized by the agencies or by the White House military trips in nine months?

We`re not talking about over a period of three or four years. And I think that this is outrageous by any count.

But again, the climate is set by a president that engages in self-profit at government expense over and over again. The same resident that said that President Obama went golfing too much, who didn`t do near as much golfing as he did and he didn`t own the golf course and sell hotel rooms to Secret Service men, government and the media.

Every time he goes on a trip, he makes a killing off of taxpayers, personal killing that is.

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VICTORY FUND AND VICTORY INSTITUTE: What is so bad about this to me is just the sheer hypocrisy.

If they weren`t running around trying to claim that they were so pious, right, then I don`t even think that journalists would be as busy digging as they were digging.

But the fact that Donald Trump spent an entire campaign season, trying to attack President Obama and all this waste in this government spending and the swamp, and he himself is the swamp is the problem.

I wish they would just shut up and do what they`re doing or what they`re not doing and, in fact, stop being so hypocritical because that to me is the biggest problem.

I`m hoping that his voter base, all the people around America who have loved his tough talk perhaps be watching this now and saying, you know what, Donald Trump is actually trying to gaslight us and throwing at us, like, a lot of lies and a lot of deceit.

MELBER: Right. Well, you talk about gas lighting. Governor Dean, the idea there that he is out - Donald Trump is out to confuse everyone, there is another word for this, which is looting.

When we often report on other countries, we`re quick to say that if the government, or officials therein, are misusing government resources to enrich themselves, whether it`s a trip or whether it is something else, getting actual money in your pocket, we call that looting.

I want to play for you Kurt Andersen who has studied and written about Donald Trump for 20 years. If people think nine months is too long, he was battling with him in New York for years. And he came on THE BEAT and he had a word for what he says Donald Trump has always been.


KURT ANDERSEN, AUTHOR: He has a kind of uncanny instinct for what will sell. He`s an extraordinary grifter, a salesman, and he sold himself.


MELBER: Is Tom Price out tonight because he was a grifter just like his boss, Donald Trump?

DEAN: The grifters tend to choose other grifters. They like each other because they`re all conmen.

Here`s Trump`s big problem for the short-term. Ryan Zinke is doing this. Scott Pruitt at EPA is doing this. Mnuchin, we already know, has a record of doing this. The VA guy was just caught with paying for some boat cruise he went on with federal dollars.

So, the press is - what you write - I know a lot - Al and I were in the 2004 campaign. We know a lot about how the press works. Once they smell blood in the water, you`ve had it. There`s going to be stories about this every day about one of these other cabinet officials is doing the same thing until one of them has to leave.

And Trump has no moral compass. He won`t fire them because of his moral offense. He`ll fire them when it`s inconvenient -

MELBER: Honestly, because it`s on TV. You mentioned Rev running for president. That`s the next thing I want to ask you about, this transactional approach to everything. It is like a projection an it`s revealing that the Trump aides, staff, cabinet folks, they seem to think everything as any kind of transaction even when it shouldn`t be.

And I want to play for you something that hasn`t gotten a lot of attention. Very prominent entertainer, rapper mogul 50 Cent was on a radio show. I`m sure you saw him. I`m going to play for everyone to know. He basically says they wanted to buy his endorsement.

You`ve run for president. That`s not how it`s supposed to work.

SHARPTON: And so has Howard.

MELBER: And so has Howard. So, take a listen. Here this is new. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He asked me to go to - before he got elected, there was a lot of issues with the African-Americans vote. Asked me if they - if I - they wanted to pay me 500,000 as a part of the campaign to (INAUDIBLE). And I was like, no, that`s not good money. I said I`m not going to do that. That`s now over.


MELBER: That`s a lot of money, Rev, $0.5 million to try to get an endorsement.

SHARPTON: It`s not only a lot of money if you want to get an endorsement. Now, you`ve got to remember now, these are the people that call people that do legitimate work around voter protection, voter rights, civil rights with shakedown orders.

They`re going to a rapper who has not done any of this and they`re going to give him half a million dollars.

First of all, I respect the fact that he wouldn`t take it. But the other part is it shows who did they think 50 Cent was going to influence to vote for Donald Trump.

MELBER: Right. No, there`s layers to it.



DEAN: He was never going to get paid.

MELBER: Governor, you think they would offer half a million and not pay it?

DEAN: Absolutely. I don`t know what all these lawyers who are working for him think, but they are not going to get paid because Trump has a long history of not paying his bills and not doing what he promised he was going to do.

MELBER: Yes. There`s a long trail of contractors and law firms that have complained about -

SHARPTON: And I`m not degrading at all 50. I`m saying I don`t know where their head was and think that 50 ought to put Trump on the power and get him out of the way.

MELBER: That sounds like a good idea. I know you weren`t going after 50. In fact, on THE BEAT, we almost never go after 50. I mean, it could happen. But, yes, we`re good there.

This is what I`m going to do. I want - Rev and Aisha, would you both stick around. I want to talk about one other thing later in the show, if you would.

Governor Dean, thank you for joining. I`ll see you again on the show in the future.

Next, calls from Congress to investigate the other private jet scandals. Reaction from a Democratic lawmaker tonight, live with the Tom Price news and Puerto Rico.

Also, Donald Trump`s new comments there on the response to the island and the devastation.


TRUMP: This is an island surrounded by water - big water, ocean water -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President is not taking this devastation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are starving.



MELBER: We`ve been following the Tom Price news here, but we want to turn to the other major breaking story today, the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Puerto Rico.

Here is what President Trump said today about the relief effort.


TRUMP: This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.


MELBER: That was the president`s approach to riffing on this. We watch to show you something else very important. This was just a few hours later. And it was the mayor of San Juan making a heartfelt and emotional appeal to Americans and to the president.


CRUZ: We are dying here. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.

We`re see something close to a genocide.


MELBER: I`m joined now by Congressman Darren Soto, a Democrat from Florida in a district with many Puerto Rican American immigrants as well.

This has been a busy and difficult time, I know. I appreciate you making some time for us. Walk us through what people need to know and what you think the president should still do now.

REP. DARREN SOTO (D), FLORIDA: Well, first of all, we don`t need second grade geography lessons. We need solutions. And it`s been seven to eight days before we got any real action.

This is an island that`s without power, without cell phone service, people drinking water from their pools and from rivers and supermarkets are out of food. But we finally got first a one-star, now a three-star general appointed, we had the USS Comfort and other naval vessels coming down with abilities to make water, abilities for hospital services.

We also had the Jones Act waived, which will allow us to have foreign help as well. But we`ve done a better job of invading enemy nations that we have of helping out American citizens on this. And it`s just unforgivable.

MELBER: When we look at the comparisons to other hurricanes, this has come up a lot here. With Katrina, there was a 10 billion aid package. That was within four days of landfall; Harvey, 15 billion with some inflation and two weeks of landfall; Hurricane Maria, there is not yet a formal funding request for Puerto Rico from this White House. Your view?

SOTO: Well, I could tell you. We`ve had early estimates that the total damage could be $50 to $85 billion. Of course, Puerto Rico is not going to get that kind of money from the federal government no matter how hard we fight. But it`s disastrous. The whole grid is down. 85 percent of the cell phone hours are down. And the real key right now is distribution. Now that we have supplies on the ground, getting them to these places in the mountains that are isolated, they are sending SOS signals hopefully to flying aircraft. And we just need the President to take this seriously and show some interest.

MELBER: Congressman, I want to ask you about another fairly basic or even obvious point. One that`s so important that our reporting hopefully conveys which is obviously the end of the hurricane itself is not the end of the emergency threat to people`s lives. And depending on the response, it can actually get worse. I think a lot of coverage has shown that. I think it`s clear the President and some of his aides don`t seem to reflect that basic reality. So with that in mind, I want to play for you and get your response from people, our journalists on the ground have spoken to and other journalists have spoken to about what it looks like right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is not taking seriously this devastation, this catastrophe on the island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need all the help we can get. We need food, we need gasoline, we need security, we need everything to get set up because the people are starving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need food, water, right, we have nothing.


MELBER: Congressman, what else do you want to add to that, to what`s going on down there so people and hopefully the administration understands?

SOTO: Well, this has already become a Katrina. We have American citizens who pledge allegiance to our flag, they serve in the military and pay taxes and they don`t know when the power is going to get back on. They don`t know whether they`re going to get water, whether they`re going to get food. And so, we need Trump administration to get up and act.

MELBER: When you say Congressman, this is a Katrina, what do you mean by calling it that? What are you saying?

SOTO: That it is an act of negligence, that they completely underestimated the scale of this and are only now starting to react after we stood on our desks for days screaming about the lives -- the lives in jeopardy. And we see that today and we`ve seen it in the past week.

MELBER: Congressman Darren Soto who has been leading on this issue, thank you for coming on the show today.

SOTO: Thank you for having me.

MELBER: I want to turn now CNBC`s Editor at Large John Harwood. I want to speak with you about what the Congressman just said. I mean, that`s obviously a very significant thing in the political life of the United States to say something is a Katrina, what people here, what that means. Respond to that view from a Democratic Congressman leveling that charge here against the President on a night when the other big story, our other breaking news that we`ve been covering on a flight when he`s ousting his health care chief after losing an ObamaCare vote, losing a GOP primary and just having a bruising week all around.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, the entire week has been like Katrina in the sense that all of the episodes that you just mentioned. I don`t know that I would be that quick to label what`s going on in Puerto Rico as President Trump`s Katrina. But you can understand the anguish of the officials down there who feel that the assistance they`ve gotten hasn`t come fast enough, that their request for money hasn`t gone fast enough. It`s going to come though, and this is going to be a big challenge for the administration to follow through and make sure this island filled with American citizens, gets back up and running, minimizes loss of life, minimizes disease, and treats this with the urgency that it deserves. And the very awkward phrasing the President used about island, big water, ocean water, I don`t know what he thought he was doing there. I don`t understand what he thought he was doing by saying Puerto Rico is going to have to work with us to figure out how we`re going to pay for the rebuilding.

MELBER: Well, isn`t it -- isn`t it fairly clear -- I mean, let me put it like this. Isn`t it fairly clear at this point that the President does not look at a constitutional obligation to give equal protection to all citizens? I mean, that`s his job, that his oath. He`s supposed to do that. The government is supposed to do that. On its good days, the U.S. government does that. A lot of the people in the building behind you, I think try to do that sometimes. This President doesn`t even -- this President doesn`t even claim that that is how he views things. And so there are selective responses, I can give the list for our viewers know the list. And we all know what`s going on. We see the selective and desperate treatment people.

HARWOOD: Well, I think that`s a fair point, Ari. You know, what is the common characteristic of people that he feels less inclined to assist through his government? This is somebody, you know, he`s been connected to the white nationalist movement. Steve Bannon who was his Chief Strategist, I`m a nationalist, I`m not a white nationalist, but in the responses that we`ve seen to various issues, you`ve seen Donald Trump as somebody who has instinctive sympathy with people who are like him as opposed to people who are not like him.7

MELBER: It is -- it is really something else and it all unfolding here at a time that is -- we`ve been reporting is a true emergency, humanitarian crisis. John Harwood, always appreciate your expertise on this show. Thank you.

HARWOOD: You bet.

MELBER: Coming up, some new reporting and legal analysis on what may lie ahead for Vice President Mike Pence in Mueller`s Russia probe. And later, losing a cabinet secretary, the NFL fight, remember that, losing the Senate primary. We have some experts here who say this may literally be Trump`s worst week ever.


MELBER: Welcome back. We have more ahead on the ousting of Tom Price in Trump`s rough week as I was mentioning. But amidst those headlines, there`s something else. New reporting that Mueller was meeting with Mike Pence`s lawyer. Now Pence has stir clear of the entire Russia probe and he, of course, to be fair was not on most of the Trump campaign but he was in the room literally during key meetings about Jim Comey, about Jeff Sessions` recusal from the case and of course, how to handle Mike Flynn. Pence was not in the room when Trump booted him from the Oval Office in order to ask Comey to go soft on Mike Flynn in that criminal inquiry, at least according to Comey`s the testimony under oath.

And we now know that Trump gave Pence reportedly a copy of the secret draft letter about why he really want to fire Comey, a letter that Trump`s White House Counsel Don McGahn wouldn`t even allow him to send. So Pence may have known better than to offer this defense two days after the firing. That was not Mike Pence, but what he said after the firing, I`ll paraphrase for you. Let`s take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the President fired Director Comey to impede the Russia investigation?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, as you know very clearly, as has been stated repeatedly and the President has been told, he is not under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Intelligence officials have said there`s into potential ties between campaign officials and Russian officials.

PENCE: That`s not what this is about.


MELBER: That wasn`t the whole truth. And after all the talk about Mike Flynn making false statements to Pence, there is a question here about whether Bob Mueller cares about that statement which Mike Pence made to the world. With me now, the former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti. Renato, will Bob Mueller care about this?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he certainly will. I think he`s going to care a lot about what the President discussed with Mike Pence particularly after he had that explosive conversation with Pence and others, I think Don McGahn, the White House Counsel at Attorney General Sessions when he found out that Sessions had recused himself and Mueller has been appointed as Special Counsel. I mean, there was reporting that the President was just, flew off the handle. He had this intense angry reaction. And you know, what he said, and more importantly, what Pence said to him to convince him not to fire Sessions, I think that will be very important. I think it`s going to be something Mueller is going to want to know about.

MELBER: As a Prosecutor, how do you decide the calculation or the balance on asking someone at this high level, the Vice President, to sit for an FBI interview? I mean, I imagine that`s not just a quick, easy kind of thing.

MARIOTTI: I agree with that. I mean, it`s certainly a weighty request when it`s the Vice President of the United States. And I think really, what it would take is whether or not Mueller believes that Pence will have something to tell him that other witnesses wouldn`t have to say. In other words, did Pence witness things and have information that other witnesses wouldn`t have?

MELBER: Right. It`s unique -- that it`s unique information and not just, oh, we`ve got a VIP or a big shot. Renato, I want to ask about something else. I think like most Americans, you probably think there aren`t enough e-mail investigations in American life. I think everyone agrees on that.

MARIOTTI: For sure.

MELBER: But it is -- it is with that backdrop in mind and the dripping hypocrisy of some Trump officials that I put this headline on the screen. There is a new White House investigation of private personal e-mail use, not of Clinton people but of Jared Kushner. Your thoughts?

MARIOTTI: Well, frankly, I think that`s the right thing to do. I`ll tell you what, I`ll take this rare opportunity to applaud with the administration is doing because, you know, frankly, it is not a crime to use a private e-mail when you`re in government service. That`s why all those chants of lock her up were pretty ridiculous. But I will say, it is against the law and there has been a lot of reports that it`s widespread in this White House which is of course -- you know, a lot of hypocrisy given what had happened during the campaign.

MELBER: Right. Especially given the -- especially given the history. Final quick question, Renato. Our viewers know you as a Federal Prosecutor, a legal expert, as maybe a guest on MSNBC. There are reports about you considering a run for Attorney General of Illinois. Are you going to do that?

MARIOTTI: Well, I`m seriously considering it. I am not going to make any announcement here on the program but it is something that I`m thinking very carefully about. And I -- frankly, I`m interested in everyone`s comments and thoughts and support on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere.

MELBER: Well, now I have to insult you a little bit and say, you sound a little like politician. Usually, you give such clear answers. But I get it. You`re thinking about it, it sounds like.

MARIOTTI: For sure. I don`t want to make any final decisions here but I`m certainly thinking about it. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: All right. Thank you as always for your expertise. Renato Mariotti, former Federal Prosecutor and have a good weekend.

Tom Price out at the White House, that`s the big news we`ve been covering but it is not the only story that is haunting the Trump White House. We`ll explain next.


MELBER: The breaking news tonight, Tom Price ousted from the Trump administration. A Friday night development that actually caps a bruising week for Trump which I`m about to discuss with my panel. Back with me, the Reverend and Aisha. Now, think about it. This week -- and we`ll put this up on the screen -- Donald Trump lost his Health Secretary. He lost the last key ObamaCare battle before the deadline had changed the law with 51 votes. He lost a GOP primary where he personally campaigned and all those losses piled up while many critics say he has failed on dealing with Puerto Rico and dealing with the other private jet scandals in his administration. So now I want to ask my panel, are you tired of winning yet?

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: You know, you could celebrate if you forget that he`s still in the White House and he still has power to continue to hurt us. And don`t forget, he lost this week. He`s the only one that has united NFL owners who supported him with protesters who are actually getting on their knees. Only Donald Trump could get Republican owners of NFL teams to join protesters, saying we need to do something, that they`re not dealing with the issues of race and police brutality way that this done. They`ve tried to re-create the issue which I`m totally against. But at least, they are having to acknowledge righteousness of the right to dissent. But he`s had a very bad week following bad weeks. But as long as he is there, he has the bottom line and we should not celebrate.

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, PRESIDENT, VICTORY FUND: No, that`s absolutely right. The fact of the matter is that America and Americans keep losing under Donald Trump no matter what kind of week he has. And that`s the thing that is so frustrating. Right now, we have our people in Puerto Rico who have not had power beyond nine days now and are not getting food and are not getting resources. They are losing, they are suffering. We hopefully will not be sending Roy Moore from Alabama who`s the biggest bigot to come out of the south since probably Jim Crow. But you know, Donald Trump loves America is losing.

MELBER: Well, let me -- let me push you on that. I think everything you said is right, so I don`t disagree with the analysis about how important the stakes are. But you could add to that that this was an effort in a Republican-controlled Congress to repeal health care and take it away from 18 million-plus people and that if someone told you a year ago, forget who is President. And that If someone would have told you a year ago, forget who`s President, if someone have told you a year ago, there`s going to be a Republican Congress and a Republican President, you`d think, well, it sounds like they would have the vote to repeal ObamaCare. Is that lost in your view, again for the public or people who have that health care?

MILLS: Of course, I think the preserving ObamaCare is critical, necessary and important. And the truth of the matter is that it has more to do with the fact that the Republicans in Congress who are in leadership don`t know what in the world they`re doing and can`t actually rally their troops towards anything that benefits the American public.

SHARPTON: No, she`s right. I think it also says to a lot of people that voted to make that a Republican President, Senate and Congress that you referred to, Ari, that these are the people that told us repeal and replace and we thought they had something to replace it with. Not only did they lose, they lost, never coming up with a plan. So if you had any second guesses on whether they were just conning their supporters and playing on emotions and biases and prejudices, this health care fight showed you that they had nothing. When you pulled the veil back, we`re looking at the Wizard of Oz. They don`t exist.

MILLS: So, I caution the Democrats not to get caught into that same trap because I`m all about the resistance, and I am with the resistance. But the truth is that we have to be for something and so while we can sit around and applaud the fact that Donald Trump keeps losing, the question becomes whether the Democrats for and when are the Democrats going to start winning?

MELBER: Right.

SHARPTON: And who`s going to be the one that personifies what it`s for and you can`t do it by going after Trump voters. You need to go to your base, you need to stop running from the people that have always been there and bring more of them out. You need to fight these voter suppression laws that really cost a lot of votes in `16. They would not deal with that issue of voter suppression and they have here now coming with some voter fraud. The fraud was the voter suppression that they tried to in many ways camouflage as something else.

MELBER: Reverend Sharpton, we always learn something when you`re here and I appreciate it. And Aisha Moodie-Mills, always great to see you. And --

SHARPTON: I`m always trying to stay in THE BEAT with Ari.

MELBER: And be sure to catch Reverent Sharpton on "POLITICS NATION" there. It is Sundays 8:00 a.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

MELBER: Now, still ahead, the segment you love or love to hate or hate to love or maybe you`re hearing about for the first time. It`s called "FALLBACK FRIDAY." It`s fun, maybe, and it`s next.


MELBER: Welcome back. It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means. It`s time to fall back. To fall back means it`s a chance to tell someone to chill out, relax or maybe even reassess your poor choices in this rough week we`ve had. With me now is the CEO of and a Ted Talker, Chuck Creekmur and a Pop Culture Critic and Host of Entertainment Weekly, The Show Lola Ogunnaike. Thank you for both being here.


MELBER: Chuck, who needs to fall back?

CHUCK CREEKMUR, CEO, ALLHIPHOP.COM: It was a really tough decision but I got to go with Steven Seagal.

MELBER: Really? Why?

CREEKMUR: Well, Steven Seagal did an interview in Russia with a British television network and called the NFL players disgusting. But Steven`s demeanor was quite zesty on the interview. And I think he needs to fall back a little bit, check his hairline. Maybe --


OGUNNAIKE: His hair needs to fall forward.


MELBER: And he`s kind of out on his own. I mean, a lot -- anyone who`s chosen to speak up about the NFL, most people, including the owners, we were talking about this earlier with Reverend Sharpton, have said, hey, let`s all get along if we can.

CREEKMUR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, there`s an attempt at unity and solidarity and he`s calling names when, in fact, we can probably be calling him some names. So --

MELBER: Lola, what`s yours?

OGUNNAIKE: I think Justin Timberlake needs to fall back. It`s rumored that he`s going to be headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show. I don`t think he should get a do-over unless he does it with Janet Jackson. It`s 14 years after Nipplegate. 14 years after --

MELBER: That was 14 years ago?

OGUNNAIKE: 14 years ago, 14 years ago. We were introduced to the phrase wardrobe malfunction. And as you know, Justin accidentally ripped off Janet`s top and exposed one of her breasts which is covered in a broach and that set the world a flame. Justin Timberlake`s career continued to flourish, however, Janet`s floundered a bit. It`s back now.

MELBER: You`re saying they were in this together but she`s being punished.

OGUNNAIKE: (INAUDIBLE) Some have said it`s because gender, some people have said it`s because of race. Either way, I think Justin Timberlake has to fall back unless he`s committed to bringing Janet along for the do-over tour.

MELBER: That`s a -- that`s a good one and it goes to music and sports but also gender equality and the insidious way this goes down. So that`s a really interesting one. Mine is not --

OGUNNAIKE: (INAUDIBLE) the scarlet nipple on her forehead. It`s not fair Ari.

MELBER: Reminder of the day on THE BEAT and it poses a question. Mine is not maybe as good as that but it is near and dear to my heart. I`m calling on IKEA to fall back. They just bought task rabbit which is that service that lets you do your own -- you know, your own thing. You get someone come over and put it together for you. And I can`t -- it`s impossible to put themselves together. They need to fall back and need to make step that we can either assemble ourselves don`t tell us we can. I feel this purchase proves what we all knew. IKEA, please fall back. Why are there always the extra parts? There`s always extra. You know what I`m talking about.

CREEKMUR: Always, always.

MELBER: I want to thank you both for a fun segment and great color scheme. I got to tell you this, you guys coordinated. Beautiful. That does it for our show. I`ll be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday. "HARDBALL" is up next.



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