Corker "beef" reveals GOP Tension Transcript The Beat with Ari Melber 10/9/17

Guests: John Harwood, Shelby Holliday, Peter Wehner, Joyce Vance, David Kirkpatrick, Mike Lupica, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Renato Mariotti, Dale Ho, Kristen Clarke



Guest: John Harwood, Shelby Holliday, Peter Wehner, Joyce Vance, David Kirkpatrick, Mike Lupica, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Renato Mariotti, Dale Ho, Kristen Clarke

KATY TUR, MSNBC GUEST HOST: That will be all for tonight and for me. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP DAILY." THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. I`m sure, Ari, you`re the first one to ever consistently drop rap lyrics on this 6 pm hour MSNBC.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Well, I don`t have pure rap, but listening to you speak about Sen. Feinstein`s long career, I was thinking of Aaliyah who said " age ain`t nothing but a number," Katie.

TUR: There you go. There you go, Ari. I don`t have a good one to throw back to you. But do you want to hold the awkward silence?

TUR: I do.

MELBER: 2017, everybody. Katy Tur, thank you very much.

TUR: Bye, Ari.

MELBER: Trump`s White House is still, as you may have heard, being rocked by some of the most bruising attacks this president has faced from an elected Republican. Sen. Corker basically guarding the president a man baby risking a war.

This unusually blunt assessment comes as Trump, of course, first this morning was trying to turn the focus to immigration. New terms that contradict reports of his past offer to Democrats.

Also, right now, it`s day 19 of the Puerto Rican crisis. Eight five percent of Americans there still have no power. Meanwhile, Trump tweeting that his "work for Puerto Rico" has come with so little appreciation.

So, right now, Puerto Rico needs power. Immigration needs negotiation. Trump`s foreign policy judgment is in serious doubt. So, where is your president right now?

He`s on the golf course. You can see them there. That was when he was leaving for the outing. Trump hitting the links. Something he`s actually done, we checked, 20 percent of his days in office thus far.

And we can tell you at this hour, Sen. Lindsey Graham reports he shot a 73 the president in "windy and wet conditions." Apparently, Trump is keeping some kind of low profile amidst the ongoing fallout from Sen. Corker`s warning.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I`ve got more important things to do, doing my job, than to go tell Corker to keep his mouth shut or tell the president something.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president is a counterpuncher.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST, MORNING JOE: He`s turning this into an all- out war with the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that he`s announced that he`s not running for re- election, I think it sort of unleashes him to do whatever and say whatever he wants to say.


MELBER: Let`s be clear, though. This Corker battle is not your typical political beef. Yes, there is some typical spice. Corker calls the president a child, the president lashes out.

There may even be a peppery marinade here as both politicians grapple over who asked who for an endorsement. Corker saying Trump is lying.

But you look at the most substantial part of the recipe. Anyone who has been to a cook-out knows even the greatest marinade can`t save weak beef.

And the beef here isn`t just about ego or style. It is about whether this president can be trusted with his finger on the button. Corker warning that Trump`s unserious antics risk launching us into World War III.

I`m joined by John Harwood, "CNBC`s" editor-at-large and an original Beatnik, as well as Shelby Holliday, a business and politics reporter for "The Wall Street Journal".

Shelby, this is ridiculous, it is intense, it is a political brawl. And yet, as I mentioned, it goes to something much more serious. The leader of foreign relations for the Republican Party saying he`s worried about war.


I mean, what we saw yesterday was unprecedented. I was talking to strategists today to sort of figure out what the pros of going public would be.

I mean, there are, obviously, a lot of cons. This puts more pressure on members of the GOP to speak out. It gives Bannon more ammo to go after some of these incumbents. It gives President Trump actually some leeway to act a little more erratic. It emboldens him in some ways.

But one strategist brought up a great point and said this might actually box President Trump into a corner if he wants to actually fire Tillerson or Mattis or anyone else in this cabinet, who Sen. Corker is keeping the peace, so to speak.

And we have seen that with President Trump. If he had floated the idea of firing Comey, for example, and senators spoke out, maybe he wouldn`t have done it. So, this could serve some purpose, but we know that Sen. Corker is retiring, he has nothing to lose and he truly does have concerns about national security.

The fact that it was on Twitter is, as you said, it`s a bit insane.

MELBER: John, speak to Shelby`s point here that the method to Corker`s warning may be to constrain what he views as even worse potential behavior.

JOHN HARWOOD, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "CNBC": Well, I think Bob Corker is trying to speak out and feels liberated to speak out about something that concerns a lot of Republicans in Washington.

And I think, as you suggested, Ari, in your intro, this is not properly described as a feud or a face-off between Donald Trump and Bob Corker.

This is about the fitness of the president of the United States. He tweeted out something that was obviously ridiculous. No one believed it. Saying Bob Corker had begged for his endorsement and he didn`t get it, so he didn`t run, didn`t have the guts to run. That`s nonsense and everyone knows it.

And so, Bob Corker was provoked to speak out. He spoke out in very sharp terms. But the way that he was describing the president, which fundamentally as a not serious figure in the White House is something that many people in his party have come to believe from watching him, that he doesn`t have command of policy, that he is not applying himself to the job.

Nobody cares if you play golf as president. But the president, between the golf and the television and the Twitter, does not seem to be taking to the job with the seriousness that you need in a president of the United States.

And the most flagrant example of it is the way that he`s taunting the North Korean leader in a crisis that, as the senator suggested, could end up in a serious nuclear conflict.

MELBER: Right. And the seriousness of it goes to this. There are many views of this White House doing distraction and doing entertainment and doing content basically.

But the people speaking out here aren`t over there in the political wing or the fundraising wing. These are the people dealing with global affairs and they probably know more than most Americans because they`re behind-the- scenes, seeing how bad it can be.

To the point you raised, John, just for everyone to see, Corker on Trump lying. He says, "I don`t know why the president tweets out things that are not true. You know he does it. Everybody knows he does it."

And I want to play an exchange between Carol Lee, one of our own reporters, and Chris Hayes, one of our anchors, on the Rex Tillerson story because the legs here, John, seem to be again his own foreign policy people in the party, whether they`re in the administration like Rex or Corker today, clearly, being worried about something.

Take a look at this exchange.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Was it moron or effing moron?


HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) little bit of a deference.

LEE: I mean, it was definitely moron.



HARWOOD: Well, look, as you suggested in that leadup, nobody doubts what Rex Tillerson said, which he essentially confirmed by not denying it. Everyone knows that there`s a problem.

You have people in the administration - and Jim Mattis may be best example - who are caring about their jobs as if Trump were not president at all.

He comes before Congress and says we ought to stay in the Iran deal and then the president puts out a bunch of inflammatory statements, continuing a string of them for a very long time, about how terrible the deal is and how we need to get out of it and that sort of thing.

These people are trying to take impulses that he has and views that he expresses and make them not come to pass. And the same thing is happening on NAFTA, the same thing is happening on North Korea.

MELBER: It goes to the whole notion "adult supervision," the idea that the president`s words are best when they matter least and other people will come in and try to supervise.

I want to add to our discussion a special guest. Peter winter is a veteran of three Republican administrations. He recently wrote that Trump`s GOP allies, some of them are suffering from a toxic confirmation bias. A fascinating piece that you wrote, sir, which is widely thought to have you on.

And I wonder how you contrast that to Sen. Corker, who clearly is not suffering from that and feels some duty or reason to speak out.

PETER WEHNER, SENIOR FELLOW, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Yes. I would agree with you. I don`t think that Bob Corker is suffering from confirmation bias. I think he is liberating and I think he is speaking out because, I think, it`s on his heart and his mind and his conscience that he feels like that the commander-in-chief is emotionally and psychologically unfit to lead.

I wish Bob Corker had said that back in the summer of 2016 when he endorsed Trump and helped essentially validate him. But I suppose it`s better late than never.

But what Corker is doing is he`s going against his own political tribe, which I admire, but what I admire more is I think he`s speaking out for the interests of the country because this is a really dangerous moment.

I mean, you take a step back and think that a senior Republican is essentially saying that a Republican president is fundamentally unfit to lead the country. That is extraordinary.

And the other thing I will say is - this is hardly a state secret. For one thing, the way Donald Trump acts, it`s pretty clear there are some deep pathologies going on. But beyond that, and I think John and others would confirm this, if you talk to Republicans privately, they would confirm what Corker said. He`s just giving public voice to what an awful, awful lot of Republicans know privately.

And that`s frankly a frustration because more Republicans should speak out. The moment has that much gravity.

MELBER: And you`ve put the finger on it. There`s a type of normalization or even exhaustion that can occur in American politics 2017. And yet, this country is too important to, well, the people who live here as well as the role we play in the world for everyone to just take a back seat.

This is a rather extraordinary, as you put it, set of criticisms. And the view that Trump needs supervision is not without precedent, we should mention. In the final days of Nixon`s presidency, we took a look at this, the defense secretary gave this order, saying if the president gives any nuclear launch order, military commanders should check with him or Kissinger before executing them. The fear was that an unhinged president could start a war during his final year in office.

With Trump, Republicans basically voicing that fear now during his first year in office. So, Peter, what should be done about it? What are you calling on patriotic Republicans to do?

WEHNER: Well, one is, I think they just need to speak the truth. And like Bob Corker, they need to speak truth to power. Beyond that, they have to be alert to what is going on. And I think the Schlesinger-Kissinger-Nixon example is good one.

Though it`s worth keeping in mind that Richard Nixon was certainly a stable figure up until the end with Watergate and they didn`t have to do what they worried might happen.

Trump is a different category of a problem because I think this is just much more fundamental. But you`ve got to have people in the White House who are trying to control and contain them. And I think that they`re trying to do it. And I hope they succeed.

But it`s not easy. It`s not easy. And the fact that you have to have this and that these individuals have to essentially be on a constant state of alert is really, really worrisome.

Look, that`s what happens when a country elects a person who is not fit to be a president. There was a cost to that. People thought they could take a gamble, they thought the situation was so bad. I heard people - the Republican friends of mine say the situation couldn`t get worse, why not take the risk.

Well, we`re seeing the answer to that question play out. And it`s not pretty.

HOLLIDAY: Well, I think that point is really striking. Sen. Corker is not first Republican to speak out. We`ve heard similar criticism from Sen. Sasse, Sen. Flake, Sen. McCain. But he was very close to the president and he was on those short lists that the media was talking about for vice president.

So, the fact that he was so close to the president, at one point believed in the president`s message, I think, really speaks to the fact that - President Trump`s base elected him to break things. He wanted to rip up trade deals. He wanted to back out of the Iran nuclear agreement.

He wanted to change the way we do business in Washington DC and I think now we`re seeing Republican leaders walk that back and say, I made a mistake.


MELBER: We`re almost out of time. I have to fit in a break. I was just going to say, to paraphrase Donald Trump, what have you got to lose? According to this panel, maybe a lot.

We`re going to take a break. John Harwood, Shelby Holliday and Peter Wehner, thank you all.

Still ahead. Trump`s digital director revealing what he calls secrets of their Facebook success. We`ll look at why Russia investigators are also eager to speak with him.

And did Vice President Pence waste your money on publicity. Mike Lupica is here. And I saw him recently. He`s hopping mad.

Also, new reporting about how Trump reviewed a secret plan to change voting laws and the administration fighting not to release it. We have obtained the document thanks to ACLU`s litigation and we`re going to talk to them about it.

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


MELBER: The Russians exploited social media in the 2016 campaign. But did they have help? There are new reports involving Brad Parscale, a man who you might know as Trump`s 2016 digital director.

This summer, he said he would meet with House investigators, denying Russian collusion, and adding that the only collaboration he saw was what the Trump campaign and staff provided the campaign by Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Now, that kind of coordination can be typical, but Parscale struck a more dramatic note when discussing it last night "60 Minutes."


BRAD PARSCALE, DIGITAL MEDIA STRATEGIST FOR THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: We had their staff embedded inside our offices.


PARSCALE: Yes. Facebook employees would show up to work every day in our offices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa. Wait a minute. Facebook employees showed at the Trump headquarters -

PARSCALE: Google, Facebook and Twitter employees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were embedded in your campaign?

PARSCALE: I mean, they were there multiple days a week. Three, four days a week, two days a week -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were they doing inside - PARSCALE: Helping teach us how to use their platform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Helping you get elected?

PARSCALE: I asked each one of them by e-mail. I want to know every single secret button, click, technology you have. I want to know everything you would tell Hillary`s campaign, plus some.


MELBER: Facebook says they offered that support to the Trump and Clinton campaigns. That`s pretty normal part.

But the company contradicted Parscale`s other claim last night. Facebook saying Trump did not get to hand pick Facebook employees based on their beliefs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you know they weren`t trojan horses?

PARSCALE: Because I had asked them to be Republicans. We talked to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you only wanted Republicans?

PARSCALE: I wanted people who supported Donald Trump from their companies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that`s what you got.

PARSCALE: Yes. They already have divisions set up that way.


MELBER: Parscale is telling us his side of the story as the tech companies face even more scrutiny.

"The Washington Post" reporting Russian agents spend tens of thousands of dollars on Google to spread fake news. And we hear a lot about banks or oil companies having too much power.

Silicon Valley often gets warmer treatment partly because its products are so popular. But there is a new picture emerging, of tech companies deploying political power, while claiming not to be political companies, and shaping media, while claiming not to be media companies.

Now, we all know they are companies. They don`t just sell to the highest bidder. They sell to every bidder, from Trump, to Clinton, to potentially criminal foreign elements.

With me now is a former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance as well as tech journalist David Kirkpatrick, who wrote the book "The Facebook Effect."

David, when you look at all this, as someone who has followed this company closely, what is your take-away about how late and lazy and sloppy they`ve been to deal with their role in this?

DAVID KIRKPATRICK, TECH JOURNALIST: Well, lazy is not a word I would typically apply to the leaders of Facebook, but I think they`re very late to recognize the degree to which the systems that have sort of arisen organically over the course of many years could be so deeply manipulated in ways that they don`t seem to have anticipated.

That, to me, is a little bit shocking. So, in that sense, I`m very surprised.

MELBER: You don`t think they are lazy about policing journalism? I mean, they are a huge platform for sharing information and their attitude initially was we don`t have any responsibility.

KIRKPATRICK: I would say more na‹ve perhaps that they just didn`t anticipate the degree to which their systems would be used this way. And that, they should be faulted. Absolutely. I would not use the word lazy.

MELBER: And here`s where I think you`re wrong and why we - we could talk about these issues. Why don`t we get Joyce in.

I think you`re wrong because I don`t think Sheryl Sandberg is naive and I don`t think Mark Zuckerberg is naive. And I don`t think they`re ever naive about the things that matter to them to make money or be this incredible platform.

And then when it comes to figuring out whether people bought rubles - used rubles to buy ads or whether fake news is spreading like wildfire and the clicks make them money, whether it`s fake or not, suddenly now we`re supposed to believe they are naive.

KIRKPATRICK: Can I ask you a question as the guest? What did you think when Sheryl Sandburg, on a very related, but different topic, that they were shocked to learn that a phrase like "Jew hater" could be targeted in Facebook advertising and it`s on them that they never anticipated that could have been possible, which I found shocking that she said that.

But she did acknowledge they never anticipated it, which is quite analogous really.

MELBER: I`ll answer, but, Joyce, go ahead.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it`s an interesting situation, right? We`re looking at this unprecedented use of Facebook, interfering with the political process, maybe not in an illegal way, but in a way that has implications for how Americans assess the integrity of their vote moving forward.

All of these issues will have to be thoroughly explored.

MELBER: Well, you mentioned the legal way. And we have your question in the pending items folder.

But I like to ask you guys questions. First, Joyce, isn`t this part of the issue that the entire federal laws around combatting foreign interference are predigital? So, there`s strict about the rubles going into the campaign coffer and almost no rules about the rubles going into the digital media coffer.

And is it Congress` job or this country`s job, having gone through this trauma, to add more rules, so it is illegal, so companies will care about it because they have to care about that which hurts them?

VANCE: So, you`re exactly right. One of the issues government has been confronting for the last decade is that technology is ahead of the law. We see that in the criminal context. Now, we`re seeing it here.

Facebook and some of these other companies have avoided regulation, particularly in the context of campaign finance, and now we`re paying a price for that as a country.

I think something that we`ll see as a result of the investigations on the Hill will be new laws designed to be more regulatory in these aspects. David thinks that they`ll specifically name Facebook as they move forward, but we`ll see increased regulation here.

MELBER: Let me play another moment from "60 minutes," where Parscale is talking about what worked and his conversations within the campaign talking about it with Donald Trump. Take a listen.


PARSCALE: We were making hundreds of thousands of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You make 100,000 ads?

PARSCALE: Programmatically.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One hundred thousand different ads every day?

PARSCALE: Average a day, 50,000, 60,000 ads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was all automated.

PARSCALE: Changing language, words, colors. Changing things, which is certain people like a green button better than a blue button.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parscale showed us how they tested by sending out multiple versions of the same ad with only subtle differences.


MELBER: And a lot of the targeting and then he later has an exchange where he says Trump doesn`t believe that this is what wins campaigns. Parscale viewed Twitter as the way Trump spoke, but Facebook as where to target.

Picking back up the issue you raise, it is certainly the case that because Facebook is this broad highway, they don`t know everything that`s going on on the side of every road, but when Mark Zuckerberg comes out and says that blaming them for fake news is crazy and then adjusts that and says -

KIRKPATRICK: Said that to me, by the way. On my stage at Techonomy.

MELBER: Right. And what did you think at the time?

KIRKPATRICK: I was surprised, but I think he was fundamentally, at that point, naive is a word. He has almost accepted about himself in retrospect. He`s so completely done a 180 on that point in the subsequent year.

Really, they did not realize what they had built. I mean, a very powerful column in "The New York Times" recently compared it to a sort of Frankenstein after he invents his monster, "oh, my God, I didn`t know what it was going to turn into."

There`s something deeply analogous, except that it`s involving all society, and not just the United States. This is a system that applies in almost every country in the world that is deeply implicated in every election there is today.

MELBER: Right. And that`s a level of power that they`re exercising with far fewer rules for the reasons Joyce was outlining.

I would say good conversation. Yes?

KIRKPATRICK: I enjoyed it.

MELBER: I enjoyed it. We`ll find out if the viewers did. Joyce Vance and David Kirkpatrick, thanks for being here.

Ahead, I`m going to turn to the burning other question in the Russia probe. Did Americans help the hackers from the Kremlin? What we`re learning about Bob Mueller`s hunt on that.

And a big backlash to Mike Pence`s NFL walk-out with accusations that he was stunting and new reports on the cost to you, the taxpayer.


MELBER: Vice President Mike Pence is getting absolutely clobbered for his scripted stunt of walking out of that NFL game yesterday. The 49ers have kneeled every national anthem this year. So, the Trump administration expected them to kneel and prepped Pence`s departure, even telling his travelling press pool don`t bother leaving the van in the parking lot because of a "early departure" from the game.

Critics slamming the spectacle as a waste of taxpayer dollars and a waste of the vice president`s time, if you think about it.

The comedian Dave Chappelle had an iconic skit called "when keeping it real goes wrong," And according to today`s critique of Pence, it`s an example of when keeping it fake goes wrong.

Pence and Trump apparently hoped for a rerun of their NFL feud with the scripted outrage and clumsy fakery. Pence even posting a pic claiming to be at the game that was actually almost three years old.

All that fakery has gone wrong, instead igniting discussions not about the anthem or patriotism, the headlines are about the stunt, the fakery and even more taxpayer dollars wasted by this Trump administration.

Joining me now is the long-time columnist and sports writer who has written several best-selling fiction novels, "New York Daily News" contributor Mike Lupica - you know what I`m trying to do there? - and Aisha Mills, the CEO of the Victory Fund. It felt once was too many times.

Mike, what are we to take from this? You`re a man at the intersection of sports, culture and political ethics.

MIKE LUPICA, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS" CONTRIBUTOR: Well, with all due respect to the vice president of the United States, he looks like a pious pony here.

First of all, what travel agent booked this trip from Vegas to Indy and then back to California?

Ari, if this were football, he would be flagged 15 yards for excessive patriotic grandstanding. OK?

He knew it was the 49ers, as you said. He knew what was going to happen. He attended the game anyway.

One more thing about the convenient patriotism of professional football in this country. This is a sport that took millions and millions of dollars from the Department of Defense for years to honor our servicemen.

And now, we`ve drawn this line in the sand that if football players kneel before or during the national anthem, they`re disrespecting the flag, which this has never been about for one minute.

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CEO, VICTORY FUND: This has absolutely nothing to do with the flag. This has to do with the group of conservatives who are really frustrated that African-Americans are defying them and how dare they take a knee. Mike Pence has shown us who he is for years. Let`s not be reminded that he will sink an entire state to push his bigotry, which he did to LGBT community with that nasty RFRA bill back in 2015.

He does not care about black people, he doesn`t care about issues of policing, he demonstrated that with this like foolish act and stance and unfortunately distracted from the real conversation which is about people in this country being treated fairly with dignity and respect. That is what the Vice President should be running around talking about.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Although there`s also a question over whether he is getting Trumpier because he went and saw protested Hamilton and put a much more inclusive spin on it. Take a listen to Mike Pence talking about when he was protested at that Hamilton Musical.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a real joy to be there. And you know, when we arrived, we heard -- we heard a few boos and we heard some cheers and I`ve nudged my kids and reminded them, that`s what freedom sounds like.


MELBER: Mike, that`s what freedom sounds like, but apparently not when it`s done by these players for this reason.

LUPICA: Ari, the false narrative about these anthem protests from the start is the dissent is now unpatriotic in this country. It`s not. It never has been. It`s as patriotic as the flag that these sports people wrap themselves in. Now we got Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys saying he`s going to bench players who do anything like that during the national anthem and --

MELBER: Jemel Hill just put the headline up today. Jemele Hill suspended now for two weeks by ESPN after she tweeted about that.

LUPICA: Well, she tweeted about that and by the way, it`s ridiculous that she got suspended for this. But she also said maybe Greg Hardy should have taken a knee. Greg Hardy is an accused domestic abuser who got hired by Jerry Jones. His star Running Back Ezekiel Elliott is appealing a six-game suspension for the -- for the same thing. But now he`s more offended by players doing this during the anthem than he is about that. The hypocrisy of this is breathtaking.

MILLS: So the challenge that -- the thing that frustrates me the most is that we are having conversations about dissent and who can have like dissent when we should be talking about fact that these people are seeking justice, right? The President -- the White House, the President of the United States, the Vice President should care deeply about justice for all Americans. That`s what taking the knee is about. We are trying to deal with the police brutality that is happening against black folks unfairly in the country. That`s what that`s about. This isn`t about someone disagreeing and just having dissent, it`s about really a quest for justice and fairness and exclusivity. And that is not the conversation that`s happening. And that`s what we need to be talking about.

MELBER: Well, and it`s also about posting old pictures of yourself at a -- at a football game. A three-year-old picture.

MILLS: It`s lies and fake news that they are perpetuating.

LUPICA: But you used this phrase sometimes, ethical fervor, OK. There was more ethical fervor from the Vice President about football players than about torches being back in Charlottesville on this exact same weekend.

MILLS: That`s absolutely true. Here we have KKK literally neo-Nazis marching on Charlottesville, mums the word, I`m not going to say, all those are good people, right? We have black men who are saying, hey, I myself have been pulled over and feared for my life, my brothers are getting gunned down in the street. And it`s like, oh, well, you`re just disrespecting America. At the end of the day, this is just racism pure and simple.

MELBER: Aisha Moodie-Mills and Michael Lupica, thank you both. I feel like I learned something. I feel better from just when I was reading the tweets.

Still ahead, we`re going to dive into one of the questions at heart of the Mueller inquiry. Who helped Russians, what did they know? American citizens may be figuring in. And a secret voting plan you weren`t supposed to see. The Head of Trump`s Election Commission lost a battle in court so we can show you their secret documents they didn`t want out.


MELBER: We know what drives Donald Trump crazy, that Hillary Clinton won more votes than he did, which means she was more popular last year and Trump approval has since fallen into the 30s. For Trump, the silver line in that deficit is that his campaign was good at targeting. They won fewer votes but they did mobilize them in right place to win the electoral college. But were they too good? Two former CIA leaders are saying that Russia`s election targeting was so good on point it must have had American help because Russia doesn`t have the "Capability to do it alone." Senator Jeff Merkley recently told us that evidence suggests Russian hackers had help from Americans.


SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Yes. That is certainly the likely result. They had their ads targeted in the concept of attacking issues related to race. Certainly, they were engaged in other strategies --

MELBER: So you`re saying -- Senator, you`re saying, the open question is which Americans. We talk a lot about which campaign, you`re saying it looks like some Americans helped the Russians, and bigger question is whether they were affiliated with Donald Trump or not.

MERKLEY: As I`m saying, it`s very likely.


MERKLEY: And it`s very likely and we need to get to the bottom of who was involved here.


MELBER: Under that theory of an inside job, Americans would want to help the Trump campaign and maybe the Trump campaign didn`t know or the inside help came from someone working with the Trump campaign. That would be another theory. Now, as we`ve been reporting, Trump`s digital aides deny any collusion and do their -- as do their digital consultants, Cambridge Analytica, partially owned by Steve Bannon backer Robert Mercer. And he recently gave over $190,000 to Trump`s legal defense fund. Joining me now is Federal -- former Federal Prosecutor, Renato Mariotti. Good day to you. The notion that they had American help, how does a prosecutor dig into that?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Wow, as you pointed out, I mean, it was -- it`s a very serious allegation. It`s a huge concern. And what I expect that Mueller is going to be doing is, you know, we know he executed a search warrant on Facebook. He`s going to be looking to see what communications were there between Americans and the individuals that were behind the Russian ads. And I will say, you know, earlier in the show, Ari, you were talking about the recent story about how Facebook employees were embedded with the Trump campaign. According to the Trump Campaign, people who are, you know, inclined to help the campaign and supporters of theirs, I would expect that Bob Mueller would want to talk to those people as well. And frankly, if anybody knew that they were aiding in Russian efforts to influence the election, they could be criminally liable for that.

MELBER: Right. Which we go to what did they think they were doing at the time or what put them on notice. The tentacles of this keep stretching and stretching. I want to resort to something most people probably haven`t seen because we just got it today. A fairly exhaustive Oxford study that finds that there were sites targeting the U.S. military personnel linked with what they call Russian origin content and that 7 percent of content shared by U.S. veteran groups online end up being fake news. A much higher portion 22 percent of content shared by what they call the political right groups is fake news.

How do you view something like that because Mueller has intelligence mandate as well as a criminal mandate? I think we`re in a whole new world here when you hear about our men and women in uniform, our soldiers and veterans who obviously are loyal to the United States and they are being targeted in a way, sometimes without realizing it online and someone is pushing Russian-backed content into their information stream.

MARIOTTI: Right. I mean, he`s trying to make our military less effective and frankly he`s trying to divide us and make us weaker as country. And when I say he, I`m referring to Vladimir Putin and the Russians. And let`s make no mistake about it. I mean, they`re our enemies. And what`s scary is they did such a good job of pushing buttons and dividing us that we can`t even see be -- we don`t even see a united front on Capitol Hill and elsewhere to have a bipartisan investigation into what they`re doing.

And we know that there are -- there has been interference in our voting systems in 21 states and you know, I haven`t heard anything about you know, a federal investigation other than what Mueller is doing to investigate what happened in those voting machines. It is -- it`s very serious and we`re the victims of a coordinated attack and this latest news about an attack on our military just demonstrates that Russia is not our friend and people like those white nationalists in Charlottesville who are chanting that Russia is our friend are not really loyal to the United States themselves.

MELBER: Final question. The Trump criminal defense team is looking to go back to greatest hits which was Donald Trump coming into office and demanding to be declared he`s not a target of any investigation. That of course, everyone remembers now was issue with him and Jim Comey. But the New York Times here reporting that President Trump`s lawyers have a cooperation approach here and they hope to get Mueller to declare in the coming months that Trump is not a target of the Russia inquiry. Your view of that goal?

MARIOTTI: Well, honestly, I think that`s a very -- it`s almost like -- you know, there`s that old image of jousting at windmills from Don Quixote, that old novel. You know that is basically an endeavor that`s doomed to fail because right now the President is clearly a subject of the investigation. Mueller is investigating potential obstruction of justice regarding Comey. And I hate to break it to everyone on his team but it wasn`t some low-level staffer who made the order to fire Mr. Comey, it was President of the United States. So until that gets wrapped up, you know, that whole question of whether or not the President is subject of an investigation or is not going to be settled. And there are a number of different paths to which the President could have potential liability. So I suspect Mueller is going to keep his mouth shut in terms of giving any assurance to the President until the end of the investigation.

MELBER: Mouth shut, options open.

MARIOTTI: There you go, exactly Ari.

MELBER: Renato Mariotti, thank you as always.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up. New reporting as I mentioned from the Trump Voting Commission, secret documents they did not want out. And why is Donald Trump claiming he came up with the term "fake news," I have a special comment on that ahead.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Throughout the campaign, and even after it, people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities which they saw in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states.


MELBER: New reporting tonight about Trump`s Election Commission. We are getting the first look at previously secret documents about this commission`s goals. And we only have these files because the Trump administration just lost a court battle to keep them secret. It all began after the election when Trump met with the controversial voting official, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who came armed with some plans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see that piece of paper, he`s accidentally exposing to the cameras there while posing with Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the digital era, however, it is best to use an envelope or a folder.


MELBER: Many wondering what else was in those files. And thanks to an ACLU lawsuit, a judge just ordered their release. Trump set up the Commission after falsely claiming millions of people committed voter fraud. Many critics said it was all a ploy to change the law and make it harder to vote in order to help Republicans. Now that sounded sinister but the Commission was new so there really wasn`t much evidence yet. The new document though show one of Kobach`s goals was to change federal voting laws.

And most of the other goals are totally redacted. So we have just a piece of this puzzle and maybe a small piece but it does show members of Trump`s Commission don`t just want to study voting, some of them change the law. And for some reason, they don`t even want you to know about that. With me now is Dale Ho, he`s Director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project representing the plaintiff voters in this case. That`s how we know about all of this. What is this -- well, we have this part, this level of redaction, your thoughts?

DALE HO, DIRECTOR, ACLU VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT: Well, it just goes to show how desperate they are to keep their plans from the public. We`ve said from the beginning that this commission is a sham, that it`s a Trojan Horse try to create a narrative that`s going to justify restrictions on voting. And I think these documents begin to show that that`s the case.

MELBER: How do you know whether this is just Kris Kobach`s pet project, not that he`s insignificant, versus something that Trump administration is signed on it because as you know, originally, this was considered just kind of a theory, like, yes, maybe this is all for voting changes, law changes, what some people -- what your group has called suppression or maybe not because if you want to be open-minded and fair, it hadn`t started working yet.

HO: Well, you have to look at all the timing of these documents and the creation of the commission, right? The day after the election, Secretary Kobach e-mailed members of the Trump transition team and said, hey, I have some draft amendments to the national voter registration at the federal motor voter law, which is the only thing that`s prevented him from implementing all of this voter suppression plans in Kansas. That`s the day after the election. Two weeks later, he meets with Trump during the transition to interview for I guess Homeland Security Secretary and he`s photographed with the infamous document in his hands which makes reference to the National Voter Registration Act and proof of citizenship. Two weeks later, Trump starts tweeting, you know what, I didn`t lose the popular vote. I actually won popular vote once you subtract all of the supposed illegal votes. And then he sets up the commission and put Kobach in charge of that Commission.

MELBER: Dale, you paint a picture. Stay with me. I want to also bring in for this discussion Kristen Clarke who`s the Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization that has worked on voter protection and explicitly fought voter suppression of African-American voters since the Kennedy era. Your view of what the new documents and these new reports teach us.

KRISTEN CLARKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW: These documents are most certainly a smoking gun. They make clear that the agenda for the Election Integrity Commission led by Kris Kobach is simply to lay the groundwork to support a campaign to promote voter suppression laws all across the country. We know that Kris Kobach has been a champion of proof of citizenship requirements, which is straight out of the voter`s suppression playbook. This is a requirement that would essentially require that ordinary Americans seeking to register to vote walk with their birth certificate or their passport in their back pocket and produce a photo company and attach to it their Voter Registration Form if they want to make it onto the rolls. We know that --

MELBER: So you do look at it - Kristen, do you look at it as sort of a widespread birtherism?

CLARKE: Absolutely. I mean, Kris Kobach is somebody who is anti- immigrant. He is promoted and touted xenophobic policies throughout his career as Secretary of State in Kansas. And in Kansas, where he pushed this burdensome proof of citizenship requirement, one in seven people in Kansas have had trouble registering to vote because of this. These documents I think make very clear that the agenda for this commission has been predetermined from the outset.

MELBER: Right. Which is -- I just want to give Dale one more chance, which is an important point. I should mention we invited Kris Kobach and several other members of the Commission to come on today either with either of you or alone. No one took us up on that. Dale, what do you want to say to the commission now that you feel you have exposed this?

HO: I want to say that the jig is up. From the beginning they`ve been saying, we have no predetermined outcomes, no preordained policy goals but we know now. These documents show you, we see you. We know exactly what it is that you`ve been trying to do which is to take Kris Kobach`s voter suppression experiment from Kansas which just Kristen has stopped one out of seven people from registering to vote in that state.

MELBER: Which applied to register to vote?

HO: They want to take those plans national. That`s been the game plan from the beginning.

MELBER: Right. Dale, you and your organization have taught people something. And Kristen, I know you have been on this battle for a long time. Thank you, both. If you want to weigh in on the voter commission, try and send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter @THEBEATWITHARI or always, you can use regular old e-mail ARI@MSNBC.COM. What do you think the Voter Commission should do now, is our question today. And still, ahead, Trump claims he came up with the word "fake" in fake news. I have a message for him, straight ahead.


MELBER: And now we turn to the fake news. There is a long history of political propaganda in America. But after Donald Trump`s election, people singled out fake news as false items posted online to trick people into thinking they were reading true stories from real journalists. Here are two of the most shared headlines on Facebook during the general election, false stories about the pope endorsing Trump and Clinton selling weapons to ISIS. Now, President Obama spoke out about the problem in November weeks after the election.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If generally, we`ve got elections that aren`t focused on issues and are full of fake news and false information and distractions, then the issue is not going to be what`s happening from the outside, the issue is going to be what are we doing to ourselves from the inside?


MELBER: From the inside. Also after the election, real journalists started reporting on the hucksters impersonating journalists, finding some were doing it for money, and fake stories boosting Trump did better than those boosting Clinton. Other fake news, of course, came from Putin`s meddling, still under investigation. Now, that was all right after the election. Americans were exposing fake news and it was making Trump look bad. Keep those facts in mind when you hear Trump`s new false absurd claim that he invented the term "fake news" from this new interview.


TRUMP: The media is really -- the word I think one of the greatest of all terms I`ve come up with is fake. I guess other people have used it perhaps over the years but I`d never noticed it, and it`s a shame. And they really hurt the country, because they take away the spirit of the country.


MELBER: Trump did not invent the term "fake news." In fact, the very first time he ever tweeted the term was after the election all the way in December. His emphasis, of course, is on diluting this term and using it as an attack on actual journalism. It`s not a sophisticated strategy, but it can work. Trump took a criticism that was sticking to him and he threw it at other people. Republican Strategist Karl Rove known for that strategy, projecting your own weaknesses onto opponents.

We don`t know if Trump`s bastardization of the term fake news even is a strategy. Projection can also be subconscious and psychology it`s when you deny your own guilt or desire and should do it to others. And subconscious choices can be powerful. I was just watching this new documentary about Steven Spielberg and he says people`s subconscious choices are the most interesting because they`re so revealing. If Trump is fixated on fakery, subconsciously maybe deep down he fears that his own appeal is fake and he can`t believe he made it this far.


TRUMP: Hey, I`m President. Hey, I`m President! Can you believe it?


MELBER: Can you? That does it for me. Thanks for watching THE BEAT. I`ll see you back here tomorrow night 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Mathews starts now.



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