Former CIA Director: Russia had U.S. help Transcript 10/19/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Gretchen Carlson, David Wahl, Julian Epstein, Julio Ricardo Varela

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 19, 2017 Guest: Gretchen Carlson, David Wahl, Julian Epstein, Julio Ricardo Varela

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY: I`m very excited. I hope we go from here to becoming a great marketplace for some of the great political biopics and ideas that is all in your minds out there.

Anyway, that`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily". THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now.

Ari, I missed our hand-off yesterday. I`ve saved the baton for you, though, man. You must swing batons on tape.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: You missed the hand-off because I had technical difficulties on the road and we all know how stressful that could be. I missed you too, Chuck. I will see you soon.

We begin our show tonight with some incredible political news. The past two presidents of the United States denouncing Trumpism today in speeches that were not coordinated, but could have been.

Tonight, President Obama returning to the campaign trail for the first time since last year. This was just a few moments ago.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But what we can`t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries.

We are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear, that we are embracing a politics that says everybody counts, a politics that says everybody deserves a chance, a politics that says everybody has dignity and worth, a politics of hope. That`s what you`re fighting for.


MELBER: He`s back. Division and fear, the reference there clearly building on Obama`s past criticism of Donald Trump.

But I`ve got to tell you the more thorough takedown of Trumpism came from a truly unusual address today by President George W. Bush. He was speaking at the Bush Institute here in New York.

President Bush never used Trump`s name and he never had to because he roundly smashed every dark impulse associated with Trumpism right now.

I can tell you tonight of sources telling MSNBC`s Nicolle Wallace, Bush knew his comments would be viewed as criticism of Trump and he wrote this speech himself.

To get a sense of just how thorough Bush was today, we hear at THE BEAT combed through each issue to then report out this video for you of Bush`s concerns and Donald Trump`s record.


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty.

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in rough, I said please don`t be too nice.

BUSH: Disagreement escalates into dehumanization.

TRUMP: You`ve got to see this guy, oh, I don`t know what I said; ah, I don`t remember.

BUSH: Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

TRUMP: President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn`t make calls.

BUSH: Bigotry seems emboldened.

TRUMP: I think there`s blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don`t have any doubt about it either.

BUSH: The Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other.

TRUMP: It`s very hard to say who did the hacking. Could have been China. Could have been a lot of different groups.

BUSH: Our democracy needs a media that is transparent, accurate and fair.

TRUMP: All I can say is it`s totally fake news. So, just think it`s fake.


MELBER: As Drake would say, what`s that, facts?

Now, whatever you may have thought about President Bush when he was in office, the contrast here to the current president could not be clearer tonight. And you think back to other periods when we`ve been tested not by remarks or choices of our president, but tested by those who would murder us and end us.

It was six days after 9/11 that George Bush went and decided to visit a mosque in Washington to gather Americans together and he delivered a powerful message against the bigotry he derided today and against anti- Muslim sentiment.


BUSH: America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens. Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don`t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind. It`s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth.


MELBER: We share values with our fellow citizens regardless of what they believe or if they believe.

That was the message from the last Republican president. The current White House occupant, obviously, offering something else entirely on a week, where after complaining about so-called patriotism offenses in the NFL, he has been openly warring with Gold Star families.

President Bush and Obama rarely speak out like this, let alone on the same day, let alone with the same core message.

So, if you are keeping score tonight at home, that`s 43 and 44. Together, that`s a whole lot more than 45.

I`m joined now by Maya Wiley, senior vice president for social justice at The New School and Bill Kristol, a founder and editor-at-large of "The Weekly Standard" and former Bush administration official.

Maya, what was the power of what we saw?

MAYA WILEY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, THE NEW SCHOOL: Well, it`s, as you said, Ari, what`s so powerful about this is the fact that we have two presidents who are sort of saying to Trump, a president who actually went and questioned an FBI investigation into something that had been debunked actually years ago, which was the issue of whether or not there had been any kind of collusion with Russia because of an oil deal - the uranium deal.

He`s just constantly raising issues that suggest either the FBI cannot be trusted or a previous administration cannot be trusted after his attorney general actually in testimony before Congress wouldn`t even answer the question about whether or not they had had a discussion about the FBI director`s firing, which is something significantly more important, frankly, than any of the distractions that we`ve seen from Trump`s tweets lately.

MELBER: And distraction is the nicest way to put it. Bill, you`ve spoken about before about the things that go well beyond distractions. I want to play a little more from President George W. Bush today. There`s been an anti-bullying campaign. There`s talk about tolerance as we just showed.

That is something that whatever one thinks of policy that this former President Bush did seemed to care about in office and cares about today. Take a listen.


BUSH: Our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.


MELBER: Bill, your view, the same question, of the power of all this today?

BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think George W. Bush, his audience was - he intends his audience to be Republicans basically who voted for him twice, who respect him. And we are now hearing from the former president that they voted for and respect some basic rules of what a decent politics looks like. And he doesn`t name Donald Trump. He lets his viewers and people who read the speech put it together for themselves.

But I really hope actually Republicans listen to George W. Bush. Other people have tried to say this. People who were defeated, John McCain, Mitt Romney come to mind. And maybe Bill will just be dismissed.

I mean, it`s only been dismissed by the Trump die-hards. You know, who cares about Bush? He`s the past. Trump is the present. But there are a lot of reluctant Trump supporters. I`ve talked to so many of them. Reluctant Trump reporters. They rationalize a lot of what Trump does.

They don`t really come to grips with the damage he`s doing to democratic norms, democratic institutions, civility, civic virtue if you want to use an old-fashioned term.

I think, for them, maybe Bush might have some effect on them.

MELBER: You say the audience there and your analysis makes sense to me. There`s also the audience of one - this is a small club of presidents. You`ve worked for a president or a White House and a vice president and had those secret and private discussions that a lot of us never privy to.

My sense, though, is that they do care a lot more about the former occupants of the office even beyond party than others. We know about the tradition of not doing named criticism.

I want to play for you President Trump`s named references to one of his predecessors who he seems to think about a lot. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this in terms of if it were Russia. He did nothing about it.

What about race relations in the United States. Now, I have to say they were pretty bad under Barack Obama. That, I can tell you.

Wiretap comes with a lot of different things.

By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?


MELBER: That last one being as - just bizarre. Bill?

KRISTOL: Look, it`s one thing if you`re running as the Republican nominee when President Obama is the Democratic president. Obviously, you`re out calling for a change in policies. You`re entitled to criticize his policies, link Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, whatever.

But, no, what`s most telling is, as president of the United States, the rule has been - it`s been pretty faithfully followed by presidents of both parties for a long time, not to criticize your predecessor, maybe to criticize him if it`s necessary from a policy point of view, to lay the groundwork for a new policy.

But not a gratuitous attack like what you showed of Donald Trump at the Boy Scout - can you believe it? - at the Boy Scout jamboree or the one this week where Trump feeling defensive because maybe he could`ve called the families or written the notes earlier to the families of the soldiers who were killed in Niger and he tries to deflect his own responsibility instead of just giving a simple answer.

You know, well, because President Obama didn`t do it right either and stuff. I mean, it`s really astonishing to see that. And I wonder whether that - obviously, Bush had been working on the speech for a while, but I wonder whether that might`ve been a straw that sort of strengthened President Bush`s - former President Bush`s resolve to try to say, wait a second, you really want to preserve the dignity of the office, respect for your predecessors, a sense of tradition and bipartisanship. Not, I`m now president, I`m now going to attack everyone who went before me.

That is really what a third-world country looks like. You take over. It`s my country. It`s my administration. It`s my government. We just trash everyone else to try to elevate yourself. That is not really how a constitutional democracy is supposed to work. It`s an informal norm. it`s not a law, obviously. But it`s a kind of important informal norm to try to preserve some stability in our public discourse.

MELBER: Right. I mean, you`re referencing degraded political systems in other countries. I mean, Maya, two of the themes there, of course, are the abuse of law where law, like in Putin`s Russia, becomes just an agent of persecution and the prosecutors are just grandiose political operatives. We`ve been covering that on our show this week, in fact.

The other thing is race. We obsess over race at our peril and we ignore race at our peril. So, it would be silly to reduce these two former presidents to a white president and a black president, but they are that as well.

I wonder if you could comment on the fact that it was a white president today talking about bigotry, on his concerns. And it was a former black president - a former president who happens to be black who was talking about fear and division and didn`t focus as much on that.

George W. Bush was, as we showed our lead-in, does have a record here. And not, by the way, a perfect record of policy. I emphasize that. But when it comes to asking people to work together across everything, he does believe he`s tried to do that, and tried to do that, I think, again today.

RILEY: He has always said that he wanted to bring people together, President Bush, and he certainly never used the divisive language. He used - one of the clips from post-September 11 -

MELBER: Right. Right after 9/11 when it was not easy. Not easy to do that.

RILEY: But he also did it on the floor of Congress. And if you can compare his speech on the floor of Congress and his statement about Muslims compared to how Donald Trump has talked about Muslims night and day.

But I do think that both former presidents missed an opportunity to talk about policy when it comes to race because we had - without it being an ad hominem attack.

You don`t have to attack a person to say, look, we are at a point in a country where we`re seeing a rollback on the protections of voters, people who are lawfully able to vote in this country in terms of what`s happening with voter suppression and that we have an administration right now calling attention to something we simply have no evidence for which might actually prevent more Americans from voting.

We have a president, as you pointed out, when police brutality is one of the major national issues we have in this country, has essentially said not only should police rough people up, but actually will attack folks for actually standing up and protesting around trying to draw attention to issues of change and that that administration has made policy decisions in terms of the Department of Justice and whether or not it`s going to be charging people and incarcerating them.

MELBER: Right. And that clip we played of Donald Trump saying that, the DEA director had to send out a policy memorandum, telling people, no, don`t rough people up the way he implied.

So, maybe the president didn`t bring it up, Maya Wiley. You did. Which is why we like to have you and your views. Bill Kristol as well. Thank you both for your insights on what looks like a historic day.

Coming up, new reporting on how the Trump campaign itself was, yes, spreading Russian propaganda in the days before the election. You heard that right. But it is nuanced. I`m going to explain and talk to a former Watergate prosecutor.

Bob Mueller closing in, questioning key members of Trump`s inner circle. What are top White House lawyers saying? Well, I spoke to one today. I have that reporting.

And later, Trump giving himself a 10 for his Puerto Rico response. Also, making a complete 180 with comments about Hurricane Katrina. We have that.

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


MELBER: Another big story. New revelations about Russian election interference. Tonight, raising a question, did Russians get help from Americans in the meddling that they`ve done? And the answer actually could spell the difference between espionage, which is bad, but generally abroad, and conspiracy, which is bad and domestic, the kind of crime Bob Mueller could indict on.

A former CIA director now saying it looks like the Russians had help.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: It`s hard for me to believe that the Russians, as good as they are, as sophisticated as they, on a program like this, were not able to get some Americans to cooperate with them, either wittingly or unwittingly. I find it implausible.


MELBER: Wittingly is the important word there because the kind of knowing help that you would give wittingly is far more likely to be a criminal offense, while, to be fair, the alternative theory, unwitting or accidental cooperation is far less culpable.

Let`s pick a simple example. Say you are doing your campaign and you`re up on Facebook before election day and you share something online. And then, later, you find out it was written by Russian hackers. That wouldn`t mean that you wanted to promote Russian hackers. It was unwitting.

But that example is actually the Trump campaign`s best remaining defense against these new reports from "The Daily Beast" that several top Trump aides spread messages during the campaign homestretch originating from a "Kremlin-backed Russian troll form."

That includes Donald Trump, Jr., Kellyanne Conway, Michael Flynn, Brad Parscale who ran digital operations and recently denied collusion in a big "60 Minutes" interview.

How so many aides found themselves sharing that Russian propaganda is sure to be a line of inquiry in these Russia probes. Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski reportedly talking to Senate investigators now and Mueller`s team has interviewed Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus.

Now, these kind of interviews can be bad news or good. It really depends on what the investigators find.

Tonight, I can tell you a White House lawyer familiar with this investigation says all of this is progress. "It`s good for the administration and the country" that the investigation is accelerating, telling me, "we want the special counsel investigation to reach a prompt, yet fully informed conclusion."

I`m joined now by former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and Libby Casey of "The Washington Post".

Libby, what do you think of where we landed? The White House saying this is all progress.

LIBBY CASEY, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": A tough thing is how do you prove that forwarding messages or retweeting things that you knew the origins of that. So, you have to find the smoking gun, perhaps email exchanges, or a way that you can show, hey, we actually knew what we were sharing and where it came from.

The bigger concern right now may be how people like the former CIA director are talking about what the Russians did during the election. And we even saw Nikki Haley today, the US ambassador, saying at an event that the Russians committed warfare by meddling in the election by interfering. And that`s a pretty strong language coming from someone on team Trump, Ari.

MELBER: Jill, your view of this back-and-forth?

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I agree with what Casey said, proving that they knew they were retweeting Russian tweets is going to be very difficult.

It`s not impossible. Forensic computer specialists may be able to show that there is some other communication. But without it being knowing, anybody can retweet.

And I know that, while my Twitter followers would like me to say for sure it shows culpability, I really don`t think we`re at a point where we can say retweeting a Russian-created tweet is a crime.

MELBER: So, Jill, wait, you`re basing your analysis on your informed legal views and not what would be popular on Twitter. Is that -?

WINE-BANKS: I am. Yes, I am.

MELBER: I just want to get that right. Let me play for you some sound from Mark Warner, among other senators, talking again about this trail that leads back to Russia. Take a listen.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: These were the ads that were paid for in rubles.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: We are not here talking about people putting up cat videos or passing on SNL skis. This is not what this is about. It is paid political advertising.


MELBER: The legal argument there, Jill, is that there should be more tools for the United States government to prevent this stuff. So, she`s saying we`re not trying to stop cat videos. But if it is a paid ad, it should be regulated as such.

Loyal viewers of THE BEAT may remember we had an FCC commissioner on this a couple of weeks back, who said she tried years ago to regulate this before any of the Russia stuff came out. But, Jill, why is this for preventing future meddling?

WINE-BANKS: Well, it`s really the same thing that we have in any other form of advertising. If you`re advertising on television, you have to say who you are that is sponsoring the ad.

And our new forms of communication clearly include Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media platforms. And it seems to me completely fair and legal to say that the American public has a right to know who is the advertiser.

And so, I think, really, it is time to do that. I know Facebook and Twitter aren`t going to want to have any infringement of their freedom. But I think in terms of voting, it`s just too important. Our democracy depends on our knowing who it is.

MELBER: Yes. You make the comparison to TV. That is a rule that applies to TV. It`s not a rule that applies to Facebook.

I mean, Libby, part of the issue here is the tech companies have had fewer rules. They don`t want more rules. Most companies don`t want more regulation.

And so, you look at that. Then, I`m going to put on the screen who they`re sending. I don`t know if you know the old song, "Send lawyers, guns and money." All the companies, including Facebook, are just sending their lawyers to this hearing, which is fine, I get it.

But if they really want them to show more leadership, wouldn`t Facebook and Twitter and these companies send decision-makers? Because the General Counsel can`t really change policy and override Mark Zuckerberg.

CASEY: I think you`ll certainly hear a line from the tech companies that those people in positions of authority will be listening and watching. But it`s a lot safer for the companies to send the lawyers out, Ari.

You played some tape there of Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar, who introduced this Honest Ads Act today. It only got one Republican onboard so far, Sen. John McCain. That clip where Sen. Warner is talking about, well, we know that these ads were paid for in rubles, so we can track those. He was saying this is the tip of the iceberg.

We don`t actually know what the Russians may have bought in euros or pounds or American dollars. and so, there is still a lot of questions remaining about just how influential these ads can be.

And members of the Intel committee, by and large, are not weighing in on whether they would support this legislation until after they hear from these tech companies on November 1.

But the calendar is shrinking. We don`t have a lot of time left in the year for even a bill like this, which Mark Warner says has a light touch. He kept using that phrase today, like it`s not going to go too far, to infringe on the tech companies. We don`t know if it can even get anywhere in the short timeframe that`s left.

MELBER: Yes. And the other thing about sending lawyers is they`re annoying and they talk a lot.

CASEY: Well, it`s not nearly going to be as exciting as a hearing - no offense, Jill, about the lawyers - but it`s not going to be like a sexy of a hearing if you don`t have -

MELBER: Far less sexy.

CASEY: - faces of these tech companies that we want to see.

MELBER: That`s what it`s really good at.

CASEY: That`s the phrase you were looking at.

MELBER: Far less sexy when you send the lawyers. Jill Wine-Banks -

CASEY: A lot of Americans want to see these tech company CEOs and COOs talk about what happened, be accountable. But there is a lot of chance there for them to say something that they will regret.

MELBER: I think Libby you make the right point there. Look, I had two goals here. One, I wanted to get in a dad joke. I`ve done that.

The other point was we want to see management because we have senators talking to lawyers who carry out management`s orders. It`s going to be all crosstalk. This is too important. It`s a story we`re going to continue to cover on THE BEAT.

Libby Casey and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you both.

Ahead, Donald Trump down in new polling. A reaction from an actual Trump surrogate who predicted Trump would turn his promises into reality by now.

But, first, Oprah calls it today a watershed moment. Women speaking about sexual harassment by many powerful men. Gretchen Carlson was one of the first to tell her story, taking on Roger Ailes. She has a new book and she`s live on THE BEAT next.



OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: This is a watershed moment. And if we make this just about Harvey Weinstein, then we will have lost this moment.


MELBER: Oprah Winfrey says the scandal over sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein is a chance to confront broader problems with crimes against women in America, noting women in all types of industries suffer posttraumatic stress, she says, from these problems.

Many advocates for women note how the relative power or fame of an accuser matters. The Weinstein case showed even many prominent women felt silenced at work.

My next guest is a well-known journalist who spoke out against another media mogul, "Fox News" president Roger Ailes.

And while many women had also lodged complaints, even hired lawyers, and some reaching private or secret settlements with Ailes, Gretchen Carlson was the most prominent journalist to go public.

Her sexual harassment suit began a chain of events that led other women to come forward, ultimately costing Ailes his job, followed by Bill O`Reilly and other Fox employees.

Carlson notes the pressure on women includes diluting or denying attacks in their own minds. She notes that earlier on in her career, "I didn`t even call those experiences assault until recently."

When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, she pointed to remarks that, at the time, some defended as just words.


ANITA HILL, ACCUSED CLARENCE THOMAS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess. On other occasions, he referred to the size of his own penis as being larger than normal. And he also spoke on some occasions of the pleasures he had given to women.


MELBER: There was much debate at the time, but the Senate confirmed Thomas. Last year, over a dozen women accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment and unconsented contact, accusations that seem to match Trump`s own boasts leaked on the Access Hollywood tape. He also used a "just words" defense by saying it was locker room talk.

Stories of the famous and powerful can set a tone, but we know sexual assault against women is a violent crime that one, occurs often across the country, two, is underreported, and three, is under-enforced.

Now the data, itself, can be vague because of that underreporting but at least one in six American women have gone through rape or attempted rape, that`s according to the rape and abuse and incest national network. Some of that reporting is changing in all kinds of ways. This week, people posting stories of attacks or harassment they faced using the #metoo, after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged people to speak up over a million on Twitter and several million more on Facebook. Effort builds on many points Gretchen Carlson has been fighting for. Her new book is Be Fierce: Stop Harassment And Take Your Power Back. Thanks for being here, Gretchen.


MELBER: Is there strength in numbers?

CARLSON: Oh my gosh, yes. You know, when you`re by yourself and you jump off the cliff and you feel like you`re all alone, that`s an excruciating choice. But now one of my favorite phrases is one woman can make a difference, but together we rock the world and look at what`s happening. We`re shifting the blame and the shame from those who come forward to the actual harassers. And that is a huge cultural shift.

MELBER: How does the blame function inside a corporation?

CARLSON: Well, the blame is that the woman coming forward is a liar still. She`s a troublemaker, she can`t take a joke. She just can`t get along with the boys. And my book Be Fierce really puts that on its -- you know, puts it on the other side of the paradigm with a 180 degrees shift. What do we need to do to change that? Well, we need to change enablers to allies, bystanders to speak up for us. And that`s what we`re seeing happening right now after the Harvey Weinstein story. Not only women coming forward with the #metoo, but men coming forward and saying that we want to help in this mission. I found that out early on when I was researching my book, I have a whole chapter on men who want to help. It`s incredibly important.

MELBER: When accusers came forward against Donald Trump during the campaign, they were attacked by many people. Donald Trump said they were liars and he said he was going to sue all of them which he never did. Did he respond to them in the wrong way?

CARLSON: Well, respond to them in a typical way that our society has deemed appropriate until now. And I actually feature Natasha Stoynoff in my book Be Fierce. She was the People Magazine Reporter who talks about her experience at Mar-a-Lago when she was down there to report on a story about Melania and Donald and having their first child together. Listen, we`ve got to change the way in which we approach these kinds of cases and take the blame away from the women because otherwise, we`re fooling ourselves into thinking we`ve come so far as a culture. We also have to take away the secrecy of it because most of these cases are solved in settlements where the women cannot speak about what happened to them or go they go into secret arbitration --

MELBER: Right.

CARLSON: -- with the prevalence of those closes and employment contracts. And, again, women are silenced. And so if we want to -- if we want this to keep happening to the next generations of our kids, I know, I don`t want it to happen to my kids who are 12 and 14 or anyone else who is watching, then pick up a copy of my book and hand it as a gift of courage to the next person because look what we`re seeing. That chain of inspiration is so inspiring when more women are coming forward.

MELBER: So you mentioned the secrecy clauses, this was an issue we now know with Roger Ailes who you sued ultimately getting a $20 million settlement, with Harvey Weinstein, many times even we the cases go forward, the settlement has, as you say, this gag order. My understanding is your agreement with Fox was not as constricting. There are things you can say but still have a non-disclosure rule that you can`t talk a lot about criticizing Fox News, correct?

CARLSON: Correct, but if people want to read my complaint, it`s out there. They can go online.

MELBER: Right. They can go read the underlying complaint and you went so far. What is the solution there and what would you say as someone who`s gone this far to a young woman or in some cases a young man, who was dealing with a situation and the company or individual comes back and says, OK, we will settle but here`s the rule, you can never talk about any of it.

CARLSON: So we have to take that element out of the equation, right? We have to --


CARLSON: Well, let`s change it. Let`s have people talk about it and say that we`re not going to be silenced anymore. That`s what we`re seeing happen right now. We`re shifting the blame to the actual person that deserves it which is the harasser. And by the way, people ask me all the time how can I become a part of this mission to help? All of the funds from my book are going back to the fund I`ve created to do just that, Gift of Courage. And people ask how can I help? You can pass this along to the next person. Because unless we start having a collective voice, which we`re starting to see right now, we`re not going to fix this issue, we`re not going to take it out of silence. And by the way, I`m doing tremendous work on Capitol Hill to get rid of the secrecy in arbitration. I`m working on a bipartisan bill so that we can see that women will have a voice and I`m extremely optimistic that I`m going to get both sides to be onboard with this.

MELBER: I`m so glad you`re saying that because that`s another issue that doesn`t get enough attention. People hear this word, arbitration, in the context of the sexual harassment claims. What it means is never getting your day in court or your justice and signing that off before you even know what happens and young employees in all sorts of companies being handed these things. I`m so glad you brought that up because they`re being handed them and told, just sign this and we`ll move on and you don`t realize what you`re giving up. Gretchen Carlson, I hope you come back and tell us how the bill is going.

CARLSON: I definitely will because I`m optimistic it`s going to get done.

MELBER: Gretchen Carlson`s book Be Fierce: Stop Harassment And Take Your Power Back."

Up next, Donald Trump said he has accomplished more after nine months in office than anyone. I`m going to speak directly to a Trump campaign surrogate who is going to defend that claim against a Democratic critic ahead.


MELBER: Almost a year into Trump`s administration, and some bad news right now, brand new Marist Poll says 58 percent of Americans think Trump will be remembered as either below average or the worst President ever. On the campaign trail, Trump supporters said his ratings would actually rise from that divisive election because some of the grandiose promises would become reality. Take Trump`s surrogate David Wahl who joins me tonight. He once predicted this.


DAVID WAHL, TRUMP SURROGATE: The bottom line, my takeaway is simpler is better. Everybody keeps saying, why, he`s not saying anything, he`s not detailing anything, we don`t have any micro analysis of his policies but everybody loves what he says. He`ll be able to do it, I guarantee you because big money can hire great advisers.


There is one person who says Donald Trump has actually done better than anyone in history. Guess who?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the last nine months we have removed job-killing regulations at a record pace. In fact, in nine months, we have done more they say than any President in history. And we`re nine months, and there`s more to come.


MELBER: Historic. I`m joined by that former Trump Campaign Surrogate, Attorney David Wahl with Julian Epstein, former Chief Counsel to House Judiciary Committee and a Democratic Strategist. Julian, your view.

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think this is mostly a story of a con job and betrayal to Trump voters who thought they were buying into health care reform, who thought they were buying into the wall and the Muslim ban and all they got in return was a red hat, a big gulf bill that the taxpayers have to pay and a pretty bad triumph, the insult dog imitation. This is the least accomplished President in modern history. Presidents -- and this history is always measured because of the way our system is set up by legislative accomplishments that a President can achieve.

Most of our modern Presidents have achieved at least one major legislative victory. This President has none. His numbers are in the dumps. They`re at about 37 percent. He`s the least popular President in modern history. And even on things that he touts like jobs, President Obama did more for jobs in 2016 than Trump has done for jobs in 2017. It`s a pretty miserable record so far and it doesn`t show any signs of getting better.

MELBER: David?

WAHL: Well, Ari, you know, I never could have dreamed that President Trump would accomplish as much as he has in the first nine months. I mean, think about this. Lowest job unemployment claim rate since 1973, that`s 45 years. The stock market is up 25 percent to over 23,000, first time ever. We`ve got illegal immigration cut to about 53 percent. We`ve got ISIS being crushed. Territory in Iraq being taken from is at record levels. Now, to say that President Trump hasn`t accomplished anything, well, he`s well on the road to the tax cut policy which will get $4,000 savings for the average American --

MELBER: We`re going to stick to the -- we`re going to stick to the record of things that have happened. But David --



MELBER: David, you have to stick to things that have happened, not that will happen because I`m just not good enough at my job to grade predictions. Finish up then I go back to Julian.

WAHL: Net exporting in petroleum, first time ever we`re net exporting, which is because Mr. Trump, President Trump, has cut -- deregulated basically the industry which has saved us billions of dollars and will bring billions into America. He`s accomplished a lot, but the bottom line is the media isn`t covering what he accomplishes. The media jump s on him for every --

MELBER: David you`re on the show right now. You`re on the show right now with the media. Save it with the media.

WAHL: I am. And thank you, Ari, because you`re one of the few shows --

MELBER: Save it. We have you on this show to get your perspective so safe it with the media. You used your time on that. That was your choice as a lawyer,

WAHL: What about -- what about the jobless claims Ari? What about the jobless --

MELBER: Julian`s turn. Julian`s turn.

EPSTEIN: With all due respect David`s recitation is a bunch of weasel remarks that Trump only the most --

WAHL: Weasel remarks? They`re reality.

EPSTEIN: Yes they`re kind of -- no, they`re weasel talking points. Let me tell you why.

WAHL: Really?

EPSTEIN: You make the point about the stock market. There`s been no change in economic policy since Trump became President. He`s riding on the coattails of the Obama economic policy which he has changed.

WAHL: Oh, really? Really?

EPSTEIN: Same with the jobs. President Trump has created fewer jobs in 2017 than Obama created in 2016. You talk about ISIS. Most of the territory that has been reclaimed, the ISIS-controlled territory was reclaimed under the Obama years. Trump has recovered maybe about a quarter of it at most. These things that you talk about were things that were occurring naturally because of the autopilot nature of the government --

WAHL: Ah, is that what you said --

EPSTEIN: No, no, no, but let me explain it to you. Let me explain it to you.

WAHL: When Obama --

EPSTEIN: Nothing major --

WAHL: When Obama have his economic --

EPSTEIN: Nothing major is going to change until you have a legislative change --

MELBER: Right.

EPSTEIN: -- which the President has not been able to do for a number of reasons. One of which he doesn`t understand legislation. He was talking - - just take a look at what he did to Lamar Alexander the other day. Two nights ago he said, well, great what he`s doing with --- on health care reform, we ought to encourage it. Then the next day he pulled the rug out from his under his feet.

MELBER: You know, I`m going to go to David. I`m going to -- David, I`m going to go back to you.

WAHL: Right.

MELBER: In the clip, we played during the campaign, you said something that I heard on the trail from a lot of Trump supporters, which is the guy runs a business, he`ll put good people even if he doesn`t have experience. And I could understand that argument. Let me show you how far back he lags behind every other recent presidents in both parties on appointments. This is things he can just do. He can pick these people and he`s behind by half. You know, Obama and Bush double him at this point. Why do you think this President who you said would put in people, can`t even fill the posts?

WAHL: Well, he`s got -- he`s got not just opposition, but complete obstruction from the Democrats and frankly from some of the people in his own party.

MELBER: But these are appointments -- David, David, these are appointments -- this is not a -- let me just -- before, I want to get your answer but those are appointments not --

WAHL: Well, a lot of the appointments have to be confirmed, Ari.

MELBER: But we`re not -- we`re showing you appointments.

EPSTEIN: No, no, no, the nominations haven`t been submitted, David.

MELBER: He has not submitted them. Go ahead.

EPSTEIN: The nominations haven`t been submitted.

WAHL: Well, let`s get them submitted. I would agree with that. But the idea somehow that Trump`s accomplishments are Obama`s accomplishments, did you say in the great economic boom of 2009 and 2010 that George Bush was responsible for that? Of course not.-

EPSTEIN: No, you know why?

WAHL: Everybody wants to pull the rug out from President Trump and give Obama the credit and that`s absolute (INAUDIBLE) and you know it -- Julian?

EPSTEIN: David, your arguments are absurd.

WAHL: Julian?

EPSTEIN: Your arguments are absurd. The reason why nobody would say the boom in 2009 was attributable to George Bush was because in the first year President Obama did what? He accomplished a major legislative reform with a stimulus package. He saved the auto industry.

WAHL: You know --

EPSTEIN: If you keep interrupting me, we can`t have a conversation, David.

WAHL: You know -- no, you know -- you know --

EPSTEIN: David please let me finish. He saved the auto industry widely credited on Wall Street and elsewhere as reversing the turnaround in economy -- in the economy that the Republicans brought us. This President has not filled, as Ari was just pointing out, the executive branch with staff. More than half the senior-level positions have still not even been sent up.

WAHL: Last I checked --

MELBER: We`re out of time. David, I give you a quick final word, but we`re out of time. David, final word.

WAHL: Last I check, he does have -- he`s created a million, maybe more than a million, 1.25 million new jobs.

EPSTEIN: Fewer than Obama in the last year.

WAHL: He has done an incredible thing to the economy. And you cannot, look, the stock market reacts to promises, to ideas and to people that are in power. That`s what it`s happening now.

MELBER: Promises.

WAHL: That`s why you`re seeing this record rate. And it`s going to keep improving.

EPSTEIN: These are --


MELBER: I have a promise to fit in a break. David Wahl, Julian Epstein, thank you both, thank you for talking to each other. That`s what we need in this country. Coming up, Trump says he should get a 10 out of 10 on Puerto Rico. 80 percent of the island does not have power. We`re going to give you a journalistic assessment next.


MELBER: Another important story today. President Trump welcoming the Puerto Rico Governor to the White House and saying the devastation the island faced was worse than Katrina. What? You may recall that`s not what he said two weeks ago.


TRUMP: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous -- hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, 16 people versus in the thousands, you can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people.

This was -- I think it was worse than Katrina. It was in many ways worse than anything people have ever seen. They got hit by a Category 4, grazed.


MELBER: Trump was of course criticized with his unusual visit to the island, his lack of a focus on the response and changing necessary policies but now he has a new grade for himself. He basically says he would give himself, and I`m reading from this, Trump says today, "I`d say it was 10." We`ve provided so much so fast, "helicopters that weren`t meant for this purpose before delivering food". And he repeats, "I`d give ourselves a 10." We can tell you right now 78 percent of the island has no power. That means 3 million people continuing to try to live without any power. 29 percent have no running water.

That`s a million people struggling to stay healthy and alive. The number of dead is 48 but that is expected to grow as an estimate. Meanwhile, San Juan`s Mayor had her own grade giving trump a 10 out of 100. I`m joined by Julio Ricardo Varela of NPR`s Latino USA, a native of Puerto Rico. Thank you for joining us. We wanted to report the news of what the President said and put it in a context of why it is obviously what some would call grade inflation. What are the facts?

JULIO RICARDO VARELA, JOURNALIST, NPR`S LATINO USA: The facts are that you know, the government knew that this hurricane was going to hit. It was a direct hit. If you look at the maps a couple of days before September 20th, everyone knew. The Governor of Puerto Rico was telling it and the federal government wasn`t ready. And the reporting that we`ve done with Latino USA and others have done, that`s already an established fact. So we already know that this was a late response. So there`s no 10 to begin with, Ari.

MELBER: No 10, and let me see if I can read to you the view of the American public because this has slowly unraveled and unspooled as a different response than some of the other ones. Trump Puerto Rico response here on public views, basically this low approval on how he`s handled the crisis, that`s across several polls. What needs to happen now?

VARELA: What needs to happen is basically Washington, D.C. needs to wake up. They have to come to terms with the fact, the stories that are coming out of Puerto Rico now. Now that you have internet, you know, Latino USA is doing a whole hour tomorrow and we talk to people. And I guarantee you, Ari, no 10s. It`s all -- you know, people are -- they`re suffering with generators and the fact that they need it for health. The new normal, it`s going to be one month. The new -- we don`t know what the new normal is in Puerto Rico. What the -- what the America -- what the federal government needs to do is wake up, act on federal relief. We`re talking $95 billion of damage to Puerto Rico and we`re still having these discussions of loans and grants and you know, payment plans and debt crisis. People don`t have a life in Puerto Rico anymore and like things need to change radically.

MELBER: Julio Ricardo Varela, thank you for joining us for your reporting and telling us about your special. I`m sure a lot of people would be interested in that. As for us here on THE BEAT, yesterday we had an important conversation hearing directly from a Gold Star Family. We`ve heard from a lot of you about that, people around the country and we have a special message in follow up about the road ahead right after this.


MELBER: Now we turn to a new response from veterans who responded to the Gold Star parents Sheila and Calvin Murphy. They were on THE BEAT last night discussing their son Etienne Murphy who was killed serving in Syria in May. Now here is part of what Mrs. Murphy had to say.


SHIELA MURPHY, LOST SON IN SYRIA: If that letter or that phone call could bring my son back, I would run from here on foot to Washington, D.C. to get that letter. But right now, it really doesn`t matter who did the greatest thing. What matters right now is that people remember my child. This is what happens when people, our young people go over there to fight for our country that they love so much. We`re the aftermath. We`re the casualties of war. it`s not really about whether or not a person may have called or did something more than the previous one, it`s about what are you doing now to help those who are left behind, who have to struggle day to day.


MELBER: Mrs. Murphy urging all of us to focus on what we`re doing now because that`s what matters. And I got to tell you, we have heard from a lot of you since the interview including Paul Rieckhoff who Heads Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America who sent us here at THE BEAT this new message.


PAUL RIECKHOFF, CEO AND FOUNDER, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Hey, everybody, Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and Founder of IAVA, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. We got a great question. How can people help in this chaotic time? IAVA has got a lot of great resources on our Web site. Go to We can get you informed and get you engaged and there`s lots of ways to help. And I`m also joined by a true American hero Bonnie Caroll. She`s the Founder and CEO of TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, really the best organization in the world for Gold Star Families. What do you think folks should do Bonnie?

BONNIE CAROLL, FOUNDER AND CEO, TRAGEDY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR SURVIVORS: Well, TAPS provides hope, health and healing for all of those grieving the death of military loved one. Please visit Check out the support that we offer and note that America honors those who have served and sacrifice. Thanks, Paul for your support and for everything IAVA has done for Gold Star Families.

RIECKHOFF: We`re all in this together. Thanks, everybody.


MELBER: The organization there is TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. To help TAPS, you go to or their social pages. I can also tell you Mrs. Murphy responded to a lot of the people reaching out writing on our Facebook page, "Thank you. It was very hard to do but I felt our story needed to be heard.



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