The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 10/6/17 Trump administration restricts health care for women.

Guests: Renato Mariotti, Howard Fineman, Jamal Simmons, Gian-Carlo Peressutti, Ron Nehring, Liz Plank, Laura Bassett, Michael Skolnik

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 6, 2017

Guest: Renato Mariotti, Howard Fineman, Jamal Simmons, Gian-Carlo Peressutti, Ron Nehring, Liz Plank, Laura Bassett, Michael Skolnik

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: You`ve got your championship. It`s time for Washington. I`m putting my red on. I`ll see you at the game.

That`s all we`ve got for tonight. We`ll be back Monday with more "MTP Daily". And if it`s Sunday, catch "Meet the Press" on your local NBC station.

THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Chuck, I didn`t know we were doing this. I would have brought my mariners hat.

TODD: For what? Do they play in October?

MELBER: For sentimental reasons? Does that fit into a bracket? Chuck, have a great weekend and we`ll be watching on Sunday.

TODD: You got it, brother. Thanks, Ari. We begin tonight with all the talk about the wall. Not that wall, though. I`m talking about the wall that Republican intel chairman Richard Burr says he hit when trying to reach the author of the Trump dossier.


SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: As it relates to the Steele dossier, unfortunately, the committee has hit a wall.


MELBER: Burr made news this week, of course, by suggesting Steele would not talk to Senate investigators. Not even a little bit. There was a wall, remember? And then, news broke that Steele is talking to Bob Mueller, continuing many months of FBI scrutiny of the explosive claims in the Trump-Russia dossier.

And then, last night, our own Rachel Maddow reported associates of Steele says he is happy to talk to Senate investigators.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": An associate of Steele tells us tonight that, in fact, very recently, in late September, Christopher Steele in London relayed to Washington through this associate that Mr. Steele, in fact, would be happy to meet with Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Mark Warner.


MELBER: That is very different than what the Republican chairman had suggested this week. And this discrepancy is important because if Steele is ready to give his intel to investigators, and they are suggesting otherwise at the same time, then maybe this doesn`t all hang on Steele`s shoulders.

Maybe there is no wall. Maybe there is more of a negotiation about how he provides what he has. And, in fact, within just the last two hours, NBC`s Ken Dilanian reporting on that development.


KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Our sources for the story were sort of taking issue with the way the chairman of the intelligence committee Richard Burr characterized the situation with Steele.

He basically said, look, we`ve asked to talk to him and he`s refused. Apparently, it`s more complicated than that. Steele has offered to talk to the committee, but they haven`t been able to come to an agreement on conditions, on the circumstances.


MELBER: OK. Let that sink in because we`ve been talking about the dossier for a while. What this means when you really think about it? A debate over how to testify is, obviously, different than flatly refusing to testify.

And were he being told here that one of the sticking points was Steele`s unwillingness to discuss who underwrote his work.

Tonight, Burr and Warner - those Senate intel leaders are saying they are open to any "credible offer" to meet with Mr. Steele.

So, why are all these leaks coming right now? Well, the sources, some of them at least, are linked to Steele, which suggests that he wants to respond to Sen. Burr, basically blaming him for their impasse, which raises the question of whether Sen. Burr, like some other Republicans, would rather shoot down the claims in the dossier than reckon with them.

And that makes his exchange with what was then the recently-fired FBI director all the more interesting.


BURR: At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the Steele document?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: Mr. Chairman, I don`t think that`s a question I can answer in an open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation.


MELBER: So, that is Burr. Then there is the most powerful Republican in the country, Donald Trump. He`s been asking intel officials to shoot down this dossier long before the investigation was even over.


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Ever transactional, he simply asked me to publicly refute the infamous dossier, which I couldn`t and wouldn`t do.


MELBER: The key word there is couldn`t. Clapper saying that, in his role as a factual intelligence professional, he could not refute something that was still under investigation. And, yes, might be true.

Donald Trump made refuting parts of the dossier, though, his first priority in his first press conference as president-elect.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was in Russia years ago with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well, the Moscow area. Did very, very well. And I told many people, be careful because you don`t want to see yourself in television cameras all over the place.

And again, not just Russia. All over. Does anyone really believe that story? I`m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way. Believe me.


MELBER: With me now is NBC`s Ken Dilanian, who has been working this story; Howard Fineman, global editorial director of "The Huffington Post"; and Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

Ken, what is this fight about at this point? Because we have pretty smart viewers on THE BEAT. They`ve seen our coverage over the course of this week. We`ve reported accurate what Sen. Burr said it when he said it, but it seems this soup is a little thicker than he suggested. Your reporting, sir?

DILANIAN: That`s well said, Ari. Look, I think, fundamentally, this is about under what conditions Steele would provide information to the committee.

I mean, Burr was very adamant that he wants to know, for example, who paid for the dossier. And we know that it started out as a Republican opposition research project and morphed into a Democratic opposition research project during the campaign.

And Steele does not want to talk about that, neither does Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, who hired Steele. So, that could be a sticking point.

Another issue may be sources. Steele, my understanding is, is guarding some of the - he had many sources and sub-sources in Russia. Burr said he wants to know the identity of all those people. Steele may not want to give that up.

He may have an arrangement with the FBI, who after all he`s been working for a long time on this matter and on other matters that`s more friendly than the one he`s able to reach with the Senate Intelligence Committee and, for that matter, the House Intelligence Committee. That`s really what I think it`s about.

I don`t understand why Sen. Burr characterized it in the hard-line way that he did. Now, based on my conversations with sources who are suggesting that it`s much more complicated than that.

MELBER: And, Howard, some of what has come out from the dossier, which we always express, is not verified by US intelligence in whole, and there are parts of it we just don`t even report on at all.

But one thing that overlaps with real other verified material is this headline. Dossier says Trump tried to get business deals in Russia. We now know from e-mails that are only because of the investigation, they did try to get deals in Russia.

HOWARD FINEMAN, GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Yes. I think the big news here and the big picture is that Christopher Steele, who originally was kind of dismissed as some kind of shadowy figure in a seedy overcoat, is turning into an increasingly central and apparently, judging from what I`ve been hearing behind the scenes, credible figure here.

He`s been interviewed by Mueller`s team. He`s been taken seriously in terms of what he wrote. People who are putting together the public chronology of events with what was described in Christopher Steele`s memos are finding a lot of parallels and similarities.

So, it seems to me that what`s happening here is that anybody who is an ally of Donald Trump`s or who wants to be an ally of Donald Trump is going to focus increasingly on the behavior and credibility of Christopher Steele and side issues like his sources and his funding, not what`s in the memo itself, which apparently is something that Mueller and company take seriously.

MELBER: Well, Howard, you make a great point, as you so often do, and it draws a line all the way back to that fateful transition press conference. Here was Donald Trump doing what you just said and, obviously, maybe some attack dogs following the lead. Take a listen.


TRUMP: It`s all fake news. It`s phony stuff. It didn`t happen. It was a group of opponents who got together, sick people, and they put that crap together.


MELBER: Renato, how do investigators look at that and speak to the points Howard raised?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think one thing I will just say just to react to both what Ken and Howard have been saying is that, if I were Steele, I would be very wary about giving my sources up to the congressional committee as well.

I talk on Twitter all the time. People are asking me, who leaked this, who leaked that? Typically, most of these stories seem to come from somebody on the congressional side.

So, to the extent he wants to protect his sources, I would have a lot more faith in Mueller and the FBI to do that than congressional staff.

But as to the president`s interest in trying to suggest that there`s nothing to it, I think it`s fairly obvious. There`s very explosive allegations in that dossier. Your viewers can go and find it online.

In addition to that, I think some of the president`s associates have put themselves out there at times making assertions contrary to that dossier and they have potential liability for that. And that`s something I suspect Mueller is going to be trying to chase down and verify.

MELBER: And then, Howard, I want you to be a Trumpologist for us. There are things he does that are wrong in the sense that they violate the rules or the way government is managed. And he does so knowingly. And he boasts of it.

And then, there are times - and I want to read to you, again, from an important exchange - when he seems potentially to genuinely misunderstand the way it works.

This was him speaking to the "New York Times" about when Comey brought this material to him privately. So, people didn`t know this was happening.

He says, "When he, Comey, brought it, the dossier, to me, I said this really is made-up junk. I didn`t think about anything. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal. Anyway, in my opinion, he shared it, so I would think he had it out there."

"The New York Times" asking as leverage? Trump saying, "Yes, I think so. In retrospect."

Howard, based on everything we know, that is not how intelligence briefings work. Do you think that Donald Trump was genuinely confused about that?

FINEMAN: Well, my understanding is that the intelligence community thought very carefully about how to give the president-elect a heads up about this. They weren`t really trying to shoot an arrow across his bow in doing that.

They picked Comey fatefully to be the messenger.

MELBER: Right.

FINEMAN: And I don`t think that Comey intended - he wasn`t playing J. Edgar Hoover here. I don`t think he was trying to dangle this as a threat in front of Donald Trump. I really don`t think so.

But I know Donald Trump and I know he reacts viscerally. When he senses any form of danger, he`s going to personalize it. He`s going to make it personal combat.

And I think it is likely that Donald Trump did, in fact, view that as a threat. I don`t think Comey meant it that way, but I think that`s surely the way Donald Trump saw it.

I mean, this is a guy who studied Richard Nixon, studied the Watergate era, was fascinated by Nixon`s personality, what he did right, what he did wrong, viewed the White House before he got in it as a place that would have ears and enemies everywhere. And I`m sure, in his sort of drama- filled mind, he saw this as the opening act and indeed it turned out to be.

MELBER: Oh, it certainly turned out to be. So, Ken, where do we go from here on the dossier and do you expect the Senate to reach this agreement based on the reporting we have?

DILANIAN: I don`t know. I think Steele is pretty skeptical for the reasons Renato talk about, about dealing with the House and the Senate. I mean, he wants to deal with professional investigators that he trusts and that seems to be Mueller and the FBI.

But I find it significant that, at this late date, one year after the FBI first got parts of this dossier that they are still asking questions about it because it suggests that there are leads they`re following up, further things they`re trying to check out, and that`s very important, Ari.

MELBER: Right. As you say, we`re one year out from when they were looking at the dossier. We`re one year out from the "Access Hollywood" tape and we`re about just under one year out from the response to the "Access Hollywood" tape, which we know was a very sophisticated set of Russian attacks, in part to distract from it. We have a little more on that later in the show, I should mention.

Ken Dilanian, Howard Fineman, and Renato Mariotti, thanks for joining me. Have a very good Friday night.

Now, I mentioned it. You`ve seen it. The trump "Access Hollywood" tape. But have you seen it like this? You`re looking at right now the National Mall, blocks from the White House, where it is playing on a loop.

The tape came out a year ago tomorrow and we`re going to dig into Trump`s comments about women as president.

And a very important new rule he issued today that affects only women.

And later, my exclusive live interview with a top campaign aide to Ted Cruz, who says some very concerning things happened to him online from Russian bots potentially whenever he criticized Donald Trump.

And first on THE BEAT, a reporter who went to the small town that became the epicenter of fake news on Facebook. She`s here to tell us what she found.

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


MELBER: It takes about five minutes for the United States to launch a nuclear strike. Five minutes between the time a president issues the order, which he has the authority to do alone, and when a nuke launches.

That fact is as serious as a heart attack and it`s why Donald Trump`s recent cavalier warning about a calm before the storm is giving some people heart palpitations, which he did not calm with this new winking performance.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what did you mean by calm before the storm?

TRUMP: You`ll find out.



MELBER: The original comment came in this exchange.


TRUMP: You guys know what this represents? Maybe it`s the calm before the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the storm?

TRUMP: Could be the calm - the calm before the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?

TRUMP: We have the world`s greatest military people, I will tell you that. And we`re going to have a great evening. Thank you all for coming, by the way. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?

TRUMP: You`ll find out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But give us a hint on your Iran decision.

TRUMP: Thank you, everybody.


MELBER: If you take that seriously, it is painful to watch. And noting this absurdity is not really an ideological observation, it has nothing to do with which party comes after Trump`s name.

And as a ploy or as an accident, these antics do distract from important things and many have observed that.

But they could also be important because trump`s theatrical style overlaps with a real feud between North Korea and real tension with chief diplomat`s efforts to diffuse it.

I`m joined Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist who worked on the Clinton and Obama campaign, and Gian-Carlo Peressutti, former spokesperson in the White House for George Bush.



MELBER: What do we do with this and does it merit our attention?

SIMMONS: Well, it always merits our attention because he is the president of the United States. So, as much as we would like to turn him off and not pay attention, he really does have access to the button that decides all of our fates with nuclear weapons.

Here`s the thing. I look at Donald Trump and I see somebody who is trying to negotiate as if he is doing a real estate deal. And at the end of the deal, he wants to haggle and say, oh, if it doesn`t work, I`m just going to blow up the deal and walk away.

The problem is you can`t say you`re going to blow up a country or just walk away from a deal where millions of Americans are at stake.

I`m a really good haggler in markets in Shanghai and in Jakarta. It doesn`t make the person you want to negotiate a nuclear deal with, nor does this make Donald Trump the person you want on the front lines with North Korea.

MELBER: I think you put it well. I want to bring in Gian-Carlo. I`m not one to get meta. We`re here doing real work. But if you look at the headline that`s under your face right now, it says asked about this ominous warning, Donald Trump winks at reporters.


MELBER: Your old boss would never have conducted foreign policy like this.

PERESSUTTI: Never in a million years. And the analogy should stop there between my former boss and Donald Trump.

But a lot of the reporting involving this episode mention the fact that the president alluded to being crazy as part of his negotiating tactics. And I would ask members of my own party, we hear all the time this president`s self-proclamation is that he`s a wonderful negotiator. But what is it exactly that he has successfully negotiated?

On the international front, and that the fact that he has brought us to the brink with North Korea. Or on the domestic front, is it that he rolled over at the first opportunity, at the first deal that Chuck and Nancy offered him and put his own party in a really difficult position when it came to our legislative agenda for the upcoming year.

He talks about being a great negotiator, but we have absolutely zero proof of that. And as that timeless maxim goes, Ari, you can be crazy and good or you can be sane and bad, but you can`t be crazy and bad.

MELBER: Right. Crazy and totally incompetent. "Axios", among others, has this report. Trump wants staff to portray him as crazy, "you tell them, this guy is so crazy, he could pull out of a deal at any minute." You don`t think it`s working.

PERESSUTTI: No, it`s not working. Show me one element of proof where it is working.

MELBER: Jamal?

SIMMONS: Ari, if this is a strategy, I would like for the president to coordinate that strategy with the other people in the national security team and maybe let some other people in on it, so we all know he is not actually telegraphing that we`re going to war.

I mean, the other day, you had White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders say, well, the time for talking is over. Normally, when someone says the time for talking is over, it`s knuckle-up time.

So, if we`re not going to get into a fight, then don`t use words like that that make us believe that`s where we`re headed.

MELBER: Right. And I want to read to you from a president who was interested in foreign policy, Richard Nixon speaking privately with Kissinger. One big difference was we learned this later, not at the time.

Kissinger said, "if I tell them, look, this president is extremely tough, you`ve been wrong every time, if you think you`re going to defeat them in Vietnam if you don`t accept this, he will stop at nothing. And Nixon says, yes, say I can`t control him. Put it that it way. And Kissinger says, yes, and imply you might use nuclear weapons. And Nixon says, yes, sir, I want you to know he`s not going to cave.

Gian-Carlo, the big difference is they did that behind closed doors in a way that didn`t leak and then had a doctrine of foreign policy behind it.

Now, there are critics of it. There were problems, I think, we all know with Vietnam-era policies. But Trump seems to only have learned the branding or the headline from that and isn`t doing the work because that was two people coordinating foreign policy. And this week has been beset by him undermining Rex Tillerson in public.

PERESSUTTI: That`s exactly right. And there`s an even more recent example.

When you read Mikhail Gorbachev`s memoirs, he talks about one of the reasons that the Soviet Union collapsed ultimately was because Gorbachev saw the resolve that Reagan had and it was backed up by actions, not just words. And the Soviet Union realized that it couldn`t bury us, as Mr. Khrushchev said.

And there`s no indication that the president has done anything meaningful to cause our adversaries to quake in their boots or to question our ability to follow through on anything. And it`s very dangerous.

SIMMONS: So, Jamal, if you were staffing this president, and that might be a big if, how do you clean this up? He`s got his adlibs now taking up days of government staff time as they try to make something that sounds "crazy", to use the president`s word, sane.

SIMMONS: The thing about cleaning something up for a candidate or a politician is that you kind of have to know what the person is up to. That way, you can figure out what it is you`re cleaning up.

The problem with Donald Trump, which is the problem for Rex Tillerson and everyone else in this administration is nobody knows what the president is up to. And at any moment, he could decide, well, that`s what I was doing yesterday; today, I`m doing something completely different.

So, even if his staff wanted to clean something up, there is just no telling where the president is going to land once he wakes up the next day or watches another news story that sends him in another direction.

MELBER: Right. And it raises the larger classic Washington question, it is don`t you know I`m loco of foreign policy or not? We`re going to leave it there. Gian-Carlo Peressutti and Jamal Simmons, thank you both.

Still ahead, as promised, Donald Trump`s new attack on birth control and women`s rights. This is almost a year to the day after the "Access Hollywood" tape leaked.

And we knew there was bad blood during the campaign between Trump and Ted Cruz.


TRUMP: Lyin` Ted Cruz. Lyin` Ted. Lies. Oh, he lies.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Donald, you`re a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.


MELBER: Something new and an exclusive on THE BEAT tonight, a former top Cruz aide is here to talk about the strange attacks he received whenever he confronted Trump online and does it relate to Russian hacking? That`s next.


MELBER: Donald Trump has frequently dismissed the focus on Russian hacking as sour grapes by Democrats. But US intel says Russia favored him during his primary campaign against other Republicans as well.

And some new windows are opening into how that might have worked. An aide to the Republican who came in second to Trump, Ted Cruz, has begun speaking out about suspicious online attacks he faced during the primaries, including an odd pattern where he faced online attacks whenever he talked about Trump on air, but not when he talked about other GOP rivals, like Rubio or Bush.

Now, Bob Mueller`s team is, of course, investigating whether Russia simply helped Trump on its own initiative or if he engaged in a criminal conspiracy to get their help. Like making a deal or asking for it.


TRUMP: I will tell you this. Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.


MELBER: That Cruz campaign aide, Ron Nehring, joins me right now exclusively on THE BEAT.

Ron, thanks for being here. First, just on the facts. Walk us through what would happen during the primary you say when you would speak specifically about Trump.

RON NEHRING, TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN AIDE: Yes. So, my role during the campaign was to come on programs like this, on this network and others, talk about our campaign and then very often this would get very tough against our Republican opponents in the primary.

And if we were getting tough with John Kasich or candidate Marco Rubio, I would step off the air, pick up my phone, take a look at my Twitter feed, see what type of response we were getting, and there would be almost no response when any candidate other than candidate Donald Trump was being mentioned.

But when it did come to those times when we got - we really got tough both ways. You showed some clips of that earlier. Then I would step off the air and, all of a sudden, you would see hundreds of tweets that were in my feed, all tagging me individually. And this would happen with other people on the campaign as well. So, it was very odd, the level of reaction that you would see in those cases.

But then if you took a look at the individual Twitter accounts that were responsible for generating those messages, you would see a suspicious pattern. And that is that those accounts very often, the profile picture, would not be of a human being. It would be of a flag or a background or something like that.

You would notice certain buzzwords that were all in the profile description of the account. There was no geographic location listed for where that account was based. The background picture was not specific to any type of individual.

MELBER: So, during the primary, this is happening to you, what did you think at the time? You thought these were hacks or trolls? Fake supporters? What did you think?

NEHRING: Well, first, it was clear that it was disproportionate. It would only happen when we were going up against one candidate. And then, we weren`t in a position to be able to ascribe this to any one particular source but it was certainly suspicious and different, nothing that I`d seen before. And then one other thing that I think is important is that this type of hysterical language that was being used, always very much over the top, pretty much out of the ordinary for your typical conservative activist. And I think that -- and the language very often by the way was not very good English. It was very often written, it almost sounded as though this is a non-native English speaker who was trying to speak in ways that they think Americans speak.

MELBER: So when did you first start to make that connection? You just said that this attack and these online messages, some of them seemed like they might be coming from foreigners or non-native speakers and a (INAUDIBLE) more so than any other person you`d mention in the other campaign. So, was it during or after the end of the primary that you started thinking about this connecting to Russia?

NEHRING: Well, only after the primaries were over did it -- did it become apparent that you had Russian intelligence services and like -- the FSB and the GRU engage in the activities which we all now know that they were engaged in. But back during the primary, before then, we weren`t able to attribute that to anyone. All we just knew was that there was this bot- like activity that took place. We didn`t know where it was coming from. There were certainly patterns to it. And you know, this came out because earlier in the week at the Heritage Foundation, the Heritage Foundation hosted an event discussing Russian propaganda and disinformation activity featuring four Eastern European experts and I was just in the audience and raised my hand and asked a question, I`m told a little of this story. And they were quick to point out that this type of activity number one is common for what the Russians engage in, in Eastern Europe, and in countries along their borders, especially in Ukraine and Poland and elsewhere.

MELBER: Right. Let me ask you just because we`re almost out of time though.


MELBER: Do you think that the Special Counsel and the Senate Investigator should look at this conduct during primary?

NEHRING: Well, I think we want to know the totality of what -- of what the Russians or anyone else were engaged in. And I think that certainly the Congressional Committees have to be allowed to run this down completely so that the American people have a clear understanding that the next time you go online, you know, we want to a little more careful before we share an article that sounds just a little too you know, absurd or starts sharing a conspiracy theories out of being cooked up, you know, not in Nebraska but at an office park in Saint Petersburg or in Moscow..

MELBER: We hear -- we hear -- yes, we hear so much about the general election, you`re saying the investigator should look at the GOP primary.

NEHRING: I think the entire election cycle should be -- should be a fair game to look at, absolutely.

MELBER: It`s fascinating and some of this stuff like so much of our reporting and analysis makes more sense as time goes on. Mr. Nehring, I`ve talked to you before but never about a story quite like this. I appreciate you joining me.

NEHRING: You bet. Thank you.

MELBER: And ahead, nearly one year later.


TRUMP: I better use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful, I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don`t even wait. And when you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want?

TRUMP: Grab them by the (BLEEP). You can do anything.


MELBER: Tomorrow marks one year since the infamous Access Hollywood tape. And today, Trump decided to make this the day to restrict healthcare for women. We`ll explain the policy and the context next.


MELBER: Right now in the National Mall, Donald Trump`s infamous Access Hollywood tape is playing on a loop for 12 hours straight. A woman`s advocacy group marking the one-year anniversary to remind people of the President`s past. Now, just about everyone who follows politics can remember where they were when the tape hit.


TRUMP: I better use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful, I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don`t even wait. And when you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want?

TRUMP: Grab them by the (BLEEP). You can do anything.


MELBER: Much of the nation recoiled. Some Trump aides refused to defend their boss that weekend but not all.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK: I know from talking to him that he genuinely feels very sorry about this and it is certainly not the views that he holds today.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: I think Donald Trump, Donald Trump showed both Friday night and then Sunday night the kind of humility to admit that he`d been wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was order a decade ago. I think he is a different man. I believe in forgiveness.


MELBER: Activists say the tape goes to two larger points. One, how Trump policies impact women. Just today, the Trump administration announcing new health care restrictions that only women, no change for men the rules that will deny many women birth controls with their employer which previously secured by ObamaCare. In fact, the A.G. of Massachusetts already suing Trump over the latest rules. And two, how the leader of the free world acts like this.


TRUMP: And where are you from? Go ahead. Come here. Come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press. Where are you from?


TRUMP: Caitriona Perry. She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.

You`re in such a good shape. She`s in such a good physical shape. Beautiful.

Again, you`re going to give her the same one?

SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT, FINLAND: No. She is not the same lady. They are sitting side by side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a lot of blond women in Finland.


MELBER: With me now is Laura Bassett a Senior Political Reporter for the Huffington Post and Liz Plank, Executive Producer of Divided States of Women, a project at Vox. Liz, take it away.

LIZ PLANK, SENIOR PRODUCER AND CORRESPONDENT, VOX: I think it`s so fitting on the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump bragging about assaulting women. He is waging an assault on women`s reproductive health and rights. And that he`s specifically going after women`s possibility or ability or agency to control their own sexual freedom. So Donald Trump is fine with women sexuality as long as they cannot control it. And I love what you played before the segment. Donald Trump has spent his entire Presidency so far demeaning women, taking away their rights, whether it is Title X, whether it`s equal pay policies, health care. I mean, it would take too long to name all the ways that he has disenfranchised women. And so, it`s fitting. It`s shocking but unsurprising at the same time.

LAURA BASSETT, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Absolutely. We`re talking about a man who disrespected women not only with his rhetoric but with his policies. And here we have in the name of religious freedom saying that women won`t have access to birth which I don`t need to point this out but I will because for some people it`s necessary. Birth control -- preventing pregnancy is in itself health care but also birth control is prescribed for endometriosis, for shrinking ovarian cyst, for acne, painful periods, I mean, there`s all kinds of health reasons that birth control is prescribed. And so, this is not a theocracy. You cannot just cherry pick people`s healthcare based on your own moral proclivities and that`s what`s happening.

MELBER: Right. As you say, it is health care that affects women. The reasons why they take it would go to the individual basis of a decision between the person and the doctor.


MELBER: And so we see some headlines that make this only as you`re pointing out, only about contraception or only about what are considered sex-related activities which presupposes a knowledge about individual cases that we don`t have. That`s why it is called policy, that`s why it`s not individual case. This also goes, this larger discussion about this President`s treatment of women and policies toward women goes to his approval rating. You know, we hear a lot about how Donald Trump is popular among his people, very unpopular president historically but he has his 30 something. And we hear that a lot.

And it is and true in the sense that there is an overall 30 something support. But as you both I think know, and I want to put up for the benefit of the audience, that`s not the case. His approval among women this year is 29 percent, 29 percent. It is only by having the approval among men that`s up in the low 40s that gets him to that 30 number. And that obviously, there are plenty of Independents, plenty of women Republicans, speak to that that we so often talked to him about being -- having his base. His base is overwhelmingly male at this point.

PLANK: Right. Go ahead.

BASSETT: Yes. I mean, if you have the same man who is bragging about having sexually assaulted women and he is saying that women shouldn`t have access to birth control and he`s saying that abortion should be banned, it all comes down to this one kind of unifying thread which is that he wants to control women`s bodies. And women voters are not going to respond well to that.

PLANK: And you know, especially young female voters. I mean, I always sort of come back to that. I was at a conference in Dallas at a Female Conservative Conference (INAUDIBLE) lot of women who were able to defend that comment that we saw in the Access Hollywood tape. And when I ask them about it, they said you know, it was a long time ago and he`s their guy. But if he continues to do things that chip away women`s freedoms, and something as essential and preventive health care -- for preventive health care, like birth control, something that a lot of young women support. That`s when he`s going to be starting to lose the base. And that Republican base is shifting in coming --

MELBER: And so recently, what would you say to young men who like Donald Trump and claim that he doesn`t have a problem with women?

PLANK: What, is it a young man?


PLANK: That`s an excellent question and I think it`s an excellent question that I don`t hear enough of because we talk about how Donald Trump sort of -- the women`s issues and how he impacts women but he`s lowering the standard for men. Men are affected by birth control. There`s a study that says 52 percent of men don`t think they benefit from birth control, they do.

BASSETT: It`s hard to get pregnant without a man.

PLANK: And his excuse when he said those comments -- yes, that`s true. We don`t self-impregnate, yes. When he made those comments, he said, that was just locker room talk. His wife said, Melania said, it`s boy talk. That lowers the standard for you and all of men in America and it should be -- it should be insulting to men as well.

MELBER: Liz Plank, Laura Bassett, thank you both. Have a good weekend. Thank you for being here.


BASSETT: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up, a first on THE BEAT. A reporter who went to the small Idaho town that turned out to be one of the centers of Russia`s misinformation campaign. And then later, everyone`s favorite Friday segment. Who needs he to fall back? Stay with us.


MELBER: And now first on THE BEAT, a new report on Russian fake news in 2016 and how it roiled a small town in Idaho. it all started when a sexual assault was falsely blamed on Syrian refugees.


KATIE ENGELHART, NBC NEWS REPORTER: But online, the story took a new form. The facts shifted. In this new version, a gang of Syrian refugee men raped a little girl at knifepoint. Web sites sited a far-right started pumping out articles about Twin Falls. Breitbart, the right-wing news outlet run by Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser dispatched two reporters to Twin Falls.

MAYOR SHAWN BARIGAR, TWIN FALLS IDAHO: They literally had a reporter who lived here for several weeks over the summer.

Most of the coverage we saw contained some bits and pieces of facts and then a timeline filled in with other information.

ENGELHART: The Twin Falls group seemed to target people like Rick Martin who run as local group that`s trying to end the refugee settlements.

Do you believe it was part of an Obama administration strategy to increase the number of Muslims in America?

RICK MARTIN, ANTI-REFUGEE ADVOCATE: I believe his father was -- had some type of Islamic background.

ENGELHART: Barack Obama is not a Muslim.

MARTIN: I`m not saying that he`s a Muslim but I believe that he favored bringing more Muslims here to make it more of an Islamic country.

ENGELHART: The Facebook group Secured Borders, this is that alleged to be organized that a Russia --

Do you believe the news reported by outlets like the Daily Beast and the New York Times that Russia was using social media to interfere politically in Twin Falls? Do you believe it?

MARTIN: I really don`t believe the Russian had any legal involvement. I mean they have RT, a network which I`m sure you`re familiar with. I do go online and watch RT occasionally.

ENGELHART: Do you know it`s like a Russian government-backed news organization?

MARTIN: Yes. I watch networks that report you know, kind of my worldview.


MELBER: That journalist Katie Engelhart is here with her report and how people in Idaho are looking back at the incident.


MATT CHRISTENSEN, EDITOR, TIMES-NEWS TWIN FALLS: I think I joked in the newsroom one day that this is probably just the Russians behind all this and everybody had a good laugh.

ENGELHART: So you published the front page article. What was the reaction like in the town?

CHRISTENSEN: There were plenty of people who dismissed the report, called us fake news. My contact information got put on a white supremacist Web site. Somebody threatened to take my kids and do to them what was done to that girl in the laundry room. Death threats, my wife had death threats.


NBC`S Katie Engelhart is here with me to discuss this reporting. You went out there. What was the most important thing you found with regard to what happens when people find out that Russia is behind some of these stories?

ENGELHART: Well, I think that there`s a lot we don`t know about Russia`s specific involvement in Twin Falls. Facebook has admitted that it closed 470 Facebook accounts that were fake and that are tied to a Kremlin-backed company in Saint Petersburg. One of those Facebook pages was a page called Secured Borders which was spreading false -- you know, a bunch of misinformation about this town, Twin Falls, Idaho. Within a town, people don`t necessarily feel like they`ve been targeted by the Kremlin but --

MELBER: This is -- yes, this is one of the Facebook accounts that`s been handed over to Senate Investigators in this inquiry. So a lot of people around the country look at that, the irony of foreigners staging an anti- foreigner Facebook group to build these events. But you`re saying on the ground, people aren`t necessarily feeling like they`ve been duped.

ENGELHART: I think that the people who fall for the fake news now believe that this news about Russia influence is fake news. So there`s kind of that middle level now.

MELBER: Katie, you know how depressing that is.

ENGELHART: I think it`s very depressing. You know, I asked the Mayor of Twin Falls, I said, do you have any advice for mayors of future fake news hotspots? And he said, he wishes he did, he really doesn`t. He says he had -- you know, Twin Falls had fake news before fake news was a thing. But really, he felt like he did everything, that the town newspaper did everything to correct facts and misinformation that was being published by Breitbart. There`s nothing more they really could have done.

MELBER: You mentioned Breitbart, you looked at this as an overlap or a nexus and it`s something we`ve tried to shine a light on a lot on this show. I`m going to put some of the headlines up from Breitbart. They`re not all 100 percent false but they reflect this effort to say all of this was explicitly refugees moving into Idaho and raping children and the actual story was very different than that. What do you think is important for people to know about how Breitbart played a role here and what they got wrong?

ENGELHART: Well, first of all, this is a small you know, dairy farm in Southern Idaho, 45,000 people. The fact that Breitbart dispatched a reporter to live there for weeks and weeks and weeks reporting on this one case is really shocking. And what -- you know, people in Twin Falls, what officials in Twin Falls want to stress is that, you know, unfortunately, a kind of sexual assault incidents involving minors, which this case did, the perpetrators were minors, age seven and 10, they`re quite common, they happen about six times a year in Twin Falls, Idaho alone. So this case was different because the minors involved were refugees but the excessive coverage was something very different.

MELBER: Right. And as you -- as you documented and may have reflected a desire not so much to address the problem, which as you mention is a serious one, whenever it happens, but to somehow use it and cast it in some larger national narrative that met other people`s political agendas. You went out and did the reporting which is why I want to have you on. Katie Engelhart, thank you so much.

ENGELHART: Thank you so much.

MELBER: You can go to to see the full report there. And more of the video journalism whether it is completely irrelevant to changing people`s minds as Katie mentioned, you can decide for yourself.

Now, ahead, it is Friday so you know what that means. It is time to "FALLBACK." Who do you think needs to step off? You can send your ideas directly to me @THEBEATWITHARI on Twitter or use the #THEBEAT and hear all of our ideas up next.


MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means. It is time to "FALLBACK." To fall back is a chance to tell someone to chill out, relax or maybe even reassess your poor choices. It`s our only segment with its own soundtrack. Joining me this week, CEO to SOZE Agency Michael Skolnik and Host of NBC BLK Podcast "BACK 2 REALITY" Jarrett Hill. Michael, who needs to fall back?

MICHAEL SKOLNIK, CEO, SOZE: Well, I think there`s a lot of conversation of Harvey Weinstein this week. And certainly Harvey has issued an apology and I think he deserves to issue an apology, but I just want to say, not only should he fall back but I think, men need to stand up, especially in your last segment about you know, Trump and the one-year anniversary of the -- of the tape. I know -- and respect Rose McGowan and to Ashley Judd for like you know, using her voice and having the courage to stand up to Harvey and be you know, courageous enough to talk about their own personal experiences, but many to stand up and believe women. This is happening -- don`t just giggle along like Billy Bush when someone is talking to you about grabbing the woman by the -- but actually, say something and say it`s wrong and don`t allow it in your workplace.

MELBER: That we all have an obligation.

JARRETT HILL, NBC BLK HOST: Definitely not a time for things to be called locker room talk.

MELBER: That`s right.

HILL: Say no, this is not OK and this is why, and said to not do it again.

MELBER: Yes. All right, Michael Skolnik, keeping it serious on "FALLBACK" but an important topic.

SKOLNIK: Friday afternoon.

MELBER: Jarrett Hill, who needs to -- who needs to fall back?

HILL: Well, Ari, I`m told this has actually never happened here on the show before but my "FALLBACK FRIDAY" is for a colleague of mine here at NBC. Take a look.


MELBER: The question is whether those names lead to something that matters. You know, there`s an old southern saying, the hit dog always hollers. Meaning if you`re making a lot of noise, maybe you have a guilty conscience.


HILL: Ari, you have plenty of street cred but you said that so wrong.

MELBER: Oh no.

HILL: The phrase is as a southern person might say it, "A hit dog will holler."

MELBER: Can we -- can I -- can I practice?

HILL: And you said -- you said, "A hit dog will always holler." It was very newsy. And I needed a little bit more of stank on it. Can you give it to me a little better?

MELBER: So it should be?

HILL: A hit dog will holler.

MELBER: A hit dog will holler.

HILL: There you go.

SKOLNIK: Well, I would say -- I would say, having known Ari for a long time, his ability to recite Jay Z lyrics is much better. He`s got --

HILL: I was going to say, he`s got quite a bit --

MELBER: We like to go -- yes, we like to go to different places, we`re the news, we cover everything we can. Look, this is my first time being told to fall back. Consider it done.

HILL: There you go. You fell back. All right, a hit dog will holler.

MELBER: Can I do mine?

HILL: Go for it.

MELBER: Acid wash jeans need to fall back. This is what they used to look like.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the new wonderful funky high fashion snowflake acid wash denim starting at $19.99 only at the original Starboard Pant Factory.


MELBER: And this is what they look like now. Designer Stella McCartney trying to bring it back. You see it here, this is on the runway. This is supposedly a fresh hot couture fashion. I don`t know what you call it. Michael, I don`t think you can bring acid wash back.

SKOLNIK: No, but we are both in jeans today and so I feel like it`s casual Friday. If you caught me in acid wash jeans, it`s not going to be a good day.

MELBER: Like -- it`s like the big bell bottoms. Some things can`t come back.

HILL: Yes, the producer called and asked, do we have a photo of you in acid wash jeans? I was like, I`ve never worn acid wash jeans because I didn`t want to be photographed in them, so absolutely not.

MELBER: I think that`s really well put. Jarrett and Michael, thank you both for being here and thank you for my first "FALLBACK." Is it going to be a tradition?

HILL: You`re very welcome.

MELBER: Have a great weekend. I will see you back here on Monday 6:00 p.m. Eastern or tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern when I fill in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Up next is "HARDBALL."



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