Mueller indicts three Trump aides Transcript 10/30/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Ron Hosko, Ned Price, Philippe Reines, Ron Klain, Betsy Woodruff, Brian Wice

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 30, 2017 Guest: Ron Hosko, Ned Price, Philippe Reines, Ron Klain, Betsy Woodruff, Brian Wice

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": Together, you get Northam up 4.5 percent. That is pretty close to the "RealClear" polling average. It has Northam up 3.3 points today. So, in case you missed it, probably despite that eyepopping poll number, this is not a 17-point race.

That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow. THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. And good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Good evening. Thank you, Steve. Have a good night.

KORNACKI: You too.

MELBER: Tonight, breaking news that Bob Mueller charged three former Trump aides and one has already pled guilty on a Russia-related charge.

Donald Trump has been in office for nine months. These are the earliest indictments of a president`s former aides in modern history. One campaign advisor admitting he lied to investigators about meetings with the Kremlin- linked Russians, offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Two others out on bail tonight on charges of financial crime.

This story is rocking Washington and the White House. And we also have more breaking news coming in this hour. Reaction from trump aides, from lawmakers saying this is just the beginning and, later this hour, brand-new NBC reporting on Mueller`s road ahead and some shocking information about just how broad Russian propaganda reached on Facebook to get to Americans.

But, first, this news. At the same time of all of this, Donald Trump`s only public appearance here this Halloween event at the White House, a somewhat surreal image to cap a wild day that broke this story wide open.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first indictment in the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The charges say they lied to the FBI about whether they were, in fact, lobbying for the government of Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we`re seeing is a money trail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, first reaction from Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, but this is years ago. Why aren`t crooked Hillary and the Dems the focus.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today`s announcement has nothing to do with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He, of course, continues to refer to this all as a hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It`s October 30, 2017. Mr. President, call your lawyer.

The most significant charge in the investigation is Russia related. George Papadopoulos pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, offering that dirt on Clinton. Accepting that would be illegal.

Now, the broadest charges are for Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, facing 12 counts for their pro-Kremlin work in the Ukraine.

Mueller`s case against those two Trump aides centers on three lies - lies about their foreign lobbying, lies about the money they made doing it, and lies about the taxes they evaded while doing it.

Joining me now is former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade; Robert Ray, who was the final independent counsel in the Clinton Whitewater investigations, succeeding Republican Ken Starr, "New York Times" reporter Ken Vogel; and Ned Price, a senior director for Obama`s national security council and a former CIA analyst.

Ned, I begin with you, and here`s why. This is documentation and a guilty plea for what looks like a real high level, sophisticated type of espionage, earlier than many people had realized or had been proven. Your view of that part of the guilty plea that has been unsealed today.

NED PRICE, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, that`s right, Ari. What we read about today in this charging document for George Papadopoulos, immediately recalled in my mind, what we read about in the aftermath of the June 9th meeting at Trump Tower, which I think was another intelligence operation.

Look, Russians, just like any other sophisticated intelligence service, don`t go through the front door. They go through the back door. They go through the backdoor with cutouts. Then do it to maintain plausible deniability. And that is exactly what this looks like in this case.

We`re to believe that, while traveling to Italy from his base in London, George Papadopoulos just bumped into this professor, who also happened to be based in London, they strike up a conversation, the professor learns that George Papadopoulos is a Trump campaign adviser, and from there we`re off to the races with the professor ultimately offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

That, to me, Ari, seems to be opening salvo, an opening offer from the Russian intelligence services.

MELBER: An opening offer that now is in Bob Mueller`s cross hairs because he busted it. And he arrested this individual in July. And no one heard about it because, I guess, Bob Mueller didn`t want anyone to hear about it. And he got a guilty plea October 5th and we are only hearing about it today because Bob Mueller decided to unseal it.

Barbara, I want to read to you from the indictment. You`ve prepared materials like this before. From the narrative in the guilty plea, there are references to a campaign supervisor, to a senior policy adviser and to a high-ranking campaign official. This is in the statement of offense from Papadopoulos.

Walk us through what it means to have those individuals cited, but not named in this.

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Department of Justice policy says that, if you`re going to identify co-conspirators or other individuals in an indictment, but you`re not going to charge them, then you should not include their names. And that`s why we get these descriptions of high- level campaign officials and the like.

Now, that does not mean that they will never be charged, only that they`re not being charged right now.

MELBER: These three individuals - in this narrative, you`re saying, they are not off the hook just because today they`re described without identification

MCQUADE: Exactly. It could be that there`s not enough evidence to charge them at the moment. There could be a strategic reason not to charge them. Or it could be that they`re already cooperating with the investigation.

MELBER: Ken Vogel, what do you think we learned today?

KEN VOGEL, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" REPORTER: I think we see two parallel tracks here. We do see some action, some pretty serious action on the sort of animating question here behind this investigation, which is did the trump campaign collude or attempt to collude with the Russians in their efforts to meddle in the election. This Papadopoulos indictment - the guilty plea shows that there is progress on that front.

Also, on a different track, we see some more senior officials, Manafort and Rick Gates, being indicted on charges that the Trump campaign - the Trump administration is right here, they are not directly related to the campaign, except for the fact that they do really cast some doubt on the vetting operation and professionalism of the Trump campaign because, you would think, if they are done even the most cursory research on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, they would have seen these flags. They didn`t. they brought them on.

MELBER: But you`re assuming a level of innocence that hasn`t been established yet at top of the campaign. You`re assuming that they wanted to vet these people to keep these people out. There are open questions in the theory of the case about whether there was actually some sort of desire to bring people in who can help collect this information? Or as Don, Jr. put it, I love it.

VOGEL: Well, I`m assuming from what I know, having covered that campaign up close for many months, which is that it was a pretty bare-bones operation and that it did not do a whole lot of vetting of any of these folks.

Witness people like Carter Page who were brought on and ended up causing serious problems with them without bringing any benefit. I think that a more professional campaign would have flagged these concerns upfront and said, hey, we don`t want any part of this.

MELBER: I mean, Barbara, I think one of the things Mueller is investigating is whether the "benefit" was people with connections that might give them an international edge to win the campaign and they may or may not have realized just how illegal that edge would be under the Foreign Election Campaign Act.

MCQUADE: Well, you see in the emails that are quoted in the charging document, where there`s a lot of reporting by Papadopoulos about his efforts to arrange meetings with Russians and there seems to be encouragement. Great work, see if you can get the meeting.

So, there does seem to be encouragement to try to establish these kinds of meetings. Whether there was knowledge that it was illegal, how much knowledge does it take to know that you shouldn`t be taking advice, gifts or opposition research from our greatest adversary in the world?

MELBER: I put that question then to you, Robert Ray, as a former special counsel yourself.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: Well, if you closely look at stipulation of facts, what is alleged there is the back end. And the back end is the sought-after meetings with high-level officials within the Trump campaign apparently didn`t happen.

So, you can talk about whether they should have been trying to do this or whether there should have been encouragement to do this, but, at some point, it sounds as if, if I`m reading the stipulated facts, the recitation correctly, that somebody at a higher-up level thought better of actually making the connection and actually hosting the meeting that was attempted to be arranged.

MELBER: And how strong, do you think this case is against Manafort and Gates? The 31-page indictment certainly has a lot of financial detail and wires in it.

RAY: Well, I mean, in the first instance, it does seem to be at least initially unrelated to the Russia collusion investigation -

MELBER: Not unlike your answer to my question. You`re giving an answer that is unrelated to what I`m asking you. I`m asking you, given your extensive experience as special counsel, how winnable is the case again Manafort and Gates?

RAY: It`s technical. It`s mostly tax-related. I mean, there`s not much of a defense to either you`re supposed to register foreign accounts or you`re not.

MELBER: But you think they`re in real trouble?

RAY: Not to overstate what happened on Friday, but not to understate it either, those are serious federal felony charges involving money laundering, concealment of assets, evading taxes, failing to register your foreign bank accounts, failing to register as a lobbyist with regard to foreign interests. Those are all serious things.

And they don`t provide too many avenues for a defense because - again, there`s an answer to that question.

MELBER: And there`s a paper record at least on the financial side, which is what makes it such a strong case on paper.

RAY: Which is why there was a search warrant in that case.

MELBER: And the search warrant. I want to go to Ned on another part of this, which is NBC reporting on a highly-ranking campaign official here that says Papadopoulos basically emailed this official, with the subject line, request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump. This is what Robert was just talking about.

Now, high-ranking campaign official, NBC sources identify as Paul Manafort and he forwards it, writing "we need someone to communicate that DT, presumably Donald Trump, is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign, so as not to send any signal."

What are your ideas on what that means, that reference to a signal, Ned?

PRICE: Well, I`ve heard different theories about this excerpt, Ari. And there`s been some chatter this is exculpatory, that this shows that the Trump campaign was not interested in pursuing these leads, these tidbits from their Russian interlocutors.

I actually think, Ari, it shows the opposite. It shows that they want to do it in an under-the-table, very discrete manner, in a manner that is far less prominent than sending candidate Donald Trump. They want to send someone like George Papadopoulos, someone who is more anonymous, someone who could take a meeting and not be spotted and perhaps further that conversation in the hopes of getting the goods on Secretary Clinton.

MELBER: Right. And that is something that I think is so interesting, it is at a level of a theory. As always, when we report on this, we mention that Gates and Manafort are presumed innocent and maintain their innocence. And some of these lines are open to interpretation.

But the circumstantial repeat status of the number of people in these third-party meetings that seem open to getting help from the Russians certainly not a great thing for the campaign. I think they end the day worse off than when they started it.

Barbara and Ned, I`m going to see you both later in the show because we have a lot more to get to. Ken and Robert, thank you for being on THE BEAT on this big news day.

Coming up, I have a special breakdown on the other piece of this, the story behind the story of these indictments, brand new information why a Trump aide was trying to set up that secret meeting.

And what other witnesses might Mueller might try to flip. I have a former assistant director of the FBI who served under Mueller himself.

I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching a special edition of THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Breaking news tonight. Special Counsel Bob Mueller charging three former Trump aides and one of them pleading guilty. Now, that guilty plea means there are actually two new stories emerging today. One is alleged; the other is not in dispute.

And in bad news for the Trump White House, the story that`s not in dispute is the one about Russian collusion.

Let me give you our breakdown tonight. The first story was more expected. Two very well-connected GOP operatives, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, turning their access into a fortune and that money gave them power, which they strangely risked by allegedly hiding their work, their money and their tax bills. Both pleading not guilty today.

Manafort`s lawyer says those charges are "ridiculous". He also denies collusion. Mueller alleging Manafort laundered $18 million. That money trail included links to Russia, where a Putin oligarch allegedly funded their work at a stop in Ukraine, whose leader paid Manafort millions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Viktor Yanukovych stands accused of complicity in the mass killing of protesters on Kiev`s Independence Square.

Mr. Yanukovych denies allegations of embezzling state funds or of hiding millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts.

The night after the shootings, Mr. Yanukovych left Kiev. He would never to return. Following attacks on his convoy, the Russian president sent special forces to bring him across the border to safety in Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was Manafort`s client heading into February 2016, when Manafort began offering services to Trump for tree, insisting he no longer worked, though, for any other clients and was always careful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": And are you going to make a promise in the future that, if he`s president, you`ll be careful what clients you take?

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I`m always careful what clients I take.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m always careful what clients I think, he says there. But that claim looks more suspect today. Mueller alleging Manafort was still laundering money to hide his Ukrainian client in 2016 and Mueller alleging Manafort and Gates broke the law by also hiding their work on behalf of a foreign power.

Now, that`s the disputed story. Manafort and Gates deny it and they`re presumed innocent.

The other story breaking here today is undisputed. It`s a confession from a Trump adviser who admits he lied to the feds about his meetings with Russians, offering dirt on Clinton.

George Papadopoulos didn`t get the most attention on the Trump campaign, but Trump cited him as an excellent foreign policy adviser when he joined in March 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team soon.

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want, I could give you some of the names. George Papadopoulos, he`s an energy consultant, excellent guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s excellent guy was arrested when he arrived at Dulles Airport on July 27th. Now, whatever happened between his arrest and today, we know he lied to the FBI about contacts with Russia.

We know he began cooperating and we now know he is the first person to plead guilty in Russia-related charges in Mueller`s probe.

Just pause on that new fact tonight. If you hear anybody say, well, the Russia probe still hasn`t hit Russia, you`re talking to someone who didn`t read today`s guilty plea or didn`t understand it because it is actually a detailed, undisputed account of Kremlin outreach from before Trump was even the nominee.

Outreach with two stated goals. Cultivating relationships to offer dirt on Clinton and getting Putin and Trump a special meeting during the campaign.

Starting back on March 14, 2016, Papadopoulos met with this man promising Kremlin connections and a Russian national he called Putin`s niece, now admitting he received an open invite by Putin for Trump to meet him possibly in London for a "more neutral setting."

Now, what did this Trump aide do with that offer? He brought to a high- ranking Trump campaign official, a reference to Paul Manafort, according to sources who spoke to NBC today.

Manafort didn`t just say no. he forwards the email to a campaign official with specific instructions, noting Trump is not doing these trips and that should be communicated by someone low level in the campaign, so as not to send any signal.

Well, what signal? No means no, unless Manafort had some other idea about how to signal Russia. So, that`s a lie.

But Mueller got Papadopoulos to admit more. And this maybe the most important start of the undisputed story. On April 26, Papadopoulos` Russian contact told him the Russians had obtained dirt on then-candidate Clinton, including thousands of emails.

So, before the Trump Tower meeting, Mueller now has a Trump aide admitting that there were other Kremlin was overtures about Clinton`s emails.

April was far earlier than when Russia`s email hacks had become common knowledge. We`ve put this timeline back together for you tonight. Trump Tower didn`t come until June 3rd, with that email to Donald Trump, Jr., with info that would incriminate Hillary.

So, Russians offered Trump aides Clinton email dirt in April. We learn that now. Then a different offer of Clinton dirt in June. June 3rd.

And consider this, the public reports of the democratic e-mail hack didn`t come until later, June 14th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: This comes from the pages of "The Washington Post" just handed to us. The headline reads "Russian Government Hackers Penetrated DNC, Stole Opposition Research on Trump."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Today`s unsealed confession is a pretty damning time line for at least some Trump aides who said the Trump Tower meeting was the first time they had ever heard of these offers to help.

The first intrusions into the DNC began back in 2015, the phishing e-mail to Clinton chair John Podesta came March 19th, 2016.

So, that`s what we learned today was happening going into summer 2016. Now, that new info puts the summer convention in a new light. At the time, Mueller alleges Manafort illegally was hiding his work for a foreign power, he was overseeing a campaign that changed the GOP platform to benefit that foreign power, which he disclaimed at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: There`s been controversy about something in the Republican Party platform that essentially changed the Republican Party`s views when it comes to Ukraine. How much influence did you have on changing that language, sir?

MANAFORT: I had none.

TODD: Everybody on the platform committee had said it came from the Trump campaign. If not you, who?

MANAFORT: It absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign.

TODD: So, nobody from the Trump campaign wanted that change in the platform?

MANAFORT: No one, zero.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: But our reporting shows that claim is disputed by the GOP delegates on the platform committee. In fact, Texas Republican delegate Diana Denman served on that committee. She tried to persuade the Trump staffers not to go to that Ukraine-Russia language.

And earlier this year, she told me Trump staffers at the convention told her that Russia change came from such a high-level person in Trump campaign, she didn`t believe initially that someone that high would want this Russia change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I thought he was perhaps overreaching his pay grade. So, I asked him three times. I asked him very definitely who he was talking to and he gave me the same answer all three times. I really didn`t believe him.

But given what she knows now, Denman told me she does now believe what he said then, that he was speaking about watering down this Russia amendment to someone in highest levels of the campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s what we learned back in April before all of this was unfurled in today`s indictment. So, earlier this year, we had Manafort`s claim contradicted by republicans on the ground.

Today, he`s charged with working as an agent of a foreign power, putting that history in harsher light. There`s a lot of evidence here. Some of it could look different when these Trump aides get a chance to tell their side in court.

But the undisputed part of this story tonight is the most revealing. Trump aides fielding more offers of Russian dirt on Clinton long before the Trump Tower meeting and long before most of the public had any reason to know that was possible and working for a foreign power along the way.

With me now Michael Isikoff, chief investigative reporter for "Yahoo! News". And back with me, former prosecutor Barbara McQuade.

Michael, it does look worse now.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, "YAHOO! NEWS": Yes, look. This was clearly very significant developments on both fronts. The Papadopoulos thing was not expected. We didn`t see that on the radar screen.

What strikes me is, you remember, going back, ever since January, there have been multiple reports about US intelligence getting information, reports from foreign intelligence services and intercepts about Russian efforts to cultivate people in Donald Trump`s orbit.

And that was all very murky because we never had any specifics. Here we saw it laid out in great detail, these repeated communications with this guy, Papadopoulos from this Russian professor and the Russian woman, trying to set up a meeting, dangling dirt on Hillary Clinton, it`s a confirmation of all those reports we`ve been hearing about about the Russian effort to penetrate the Trump campaign.

MELBER: And so, Barbara, you take that and him as a cooperating witness, what are investigators continuing to try to get out of someone like him? And what if he says, well, I did all this, but I did it all alone, then is he of less help?

MCQUADE: Well, I think so. But I think the documents we have unsealed already suggests that he didn`t do it alone. The documents talk about, as you mentioned, unnamed officials.

There`s at least four people, high level official this, and policy director that, campaign supervisor this, these are real people. And Papadopoulos can tell you their names.

And so, I think that he can continue to be of great value to the campaign - I think one of the most significant. And I agree with you that -

MELBER: You`re saying - Barbara, we`ll put it back on the screen. Those three people, you`re saying, your reading of this new material today, because it`s a lot to digest, is that he knows who those people are and he`s already told Mueller who they are?

MCQUADE: Yes. I do believe that`s true. It is convention not to name them in a document, but I believe that when providing information, Papadopoulos told them who they were by name.

ISIKOFF: Ari, I should point out that we know who some of those people are. The campaign supervisor I reported today is Sam Clovis, who was the campaign co-chairman. At least one of those high-ranking campaign officials, as I and NBC and others have reported, is Paul Manafort himself.

So, we`re not precisely sure about all of them, but at least some of those have been identified and they`re very high people in the Trump campaign.

MELBER: Right. I`m driving at a subtlety within the point you make, which is we`re sourcing that up, you`re sourcing that up, but that, as we learn this today, because it`s new, Barbara is making the point that this is material that has long ago been confirmed and provided to Mueller`s investigators. They may have already made moves based on this.

ISIKOFF: Yes. We know that Gates has been cooperating since he was arrested at Dulles Airport in late July.

MELBER: Barbara, go ahead.

MCQUADE: Yes. Papadopoulos has been cooperating since his arrest. Maybe. At least since he entered into a plea agreement on October 5th, more than three weeks ago. So, at some point, he agreed that he was going to cooperate. There are a lot of facts likely unknown to all of us in the public. Additional facts known to Robert Mueller.

But I think one of the most significant things about today is the timing. They could have unsealed this Papadopoulos plea any time. They could have unsealed it on October 5th. They could have waited another month.

They chose today because today was the day they were also unsealing charges against Manafort. They are clearly sending a message to Manafort. We know who these people are - who are in this document, these unnamed campaign officials. You know who they are, Paul Manafort, and this is your chance to cooperate.

MELBER: And finally, briefly, Michael, based on your reporting, do you think he is likely to cooperate? And do you think Flynn and Tony Podesta, Democratic powerhouse, are exposed on the foreign agent issue because we`re seeing Mueller is willing to charge on it.

ISIKOFF: Well, actually, if you look at the indictment against Manafort and Gates, yes, there is some exposure - potential exposure there for Tony Podesta, big Clinton fundraiser, brother of John Podesta who is the chairman of the Clinton campaign and the Mercury Group headed by Vin Weber, the Republican congressman.

Both were hired by Manafort to do this prof-Ukrainian lobbying for Yanukovych. Both did not file for - under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, saying that they didn`t believe they were working for a foreign principal.

And according to the indictment, both were told in writing that Yanukovych wanted reports on what they were doing. That should have been a red flag that they weren`t working for some obscure non-profit in Brussels, they were working for the Yanukovych regime in Kiev.

MELBER: No. indeed, the reference to the non-profit now being offered as evidence of cover-up in the words of that indictment.

Michael Isikoff and Barbara McQuade, thank you both so much.

Ahead, Mueller`s next move, he`s talking to people who work at the White House now.

Also, Trump`s lawyers speaking out, revealing part of the legal defense strategy. Stay with THE BEAT on a very big night here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Bob Mueller has issued his first indictments in the Russia probe with one former Trump Campaign Adviser pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about Russia. Trump`s lawyer saying Mueller has begun interviewing White House staff members and the president won`t try to influence any charges Mueller files.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TY COBB, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: He would be sad for them as a friend and former colleague if process results in you know, punishment or indictments, but to the extent that happens, that`s beyond his control and obviously he`s not trying to influence that in any way.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MELBER: Joining me now is Ron Hosko, former Assistant FBI Director appointed by Mueller to the Criminal Division and Ned Price from the CIA back with me. Ron, in an investigation like this which is clearly rolling and the indictments, do not signal the end, how does what happened today help advance the trail Mueller is on?

RON HOSKO, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI: Well, I think in two big ways, one, I can`t help but be impressed by the pace at which they conducted the Manafort-gate part of this investigation. And I`m on record as saying I think this work about Mueller will take years. He`s made much more complex by international activity, whether that`s banking, online transactions, e- mail transactions, witnesses overseas and the fact that they brought something this weighty within six months of Bob Mueller taking this position is significant. On the Papadopoulos piece, I do think that that is like an air burst of fireworks. He is putting others on notice that to give my investigators a false statement, this could be you next, so don`t do this. Typically you don`t see 1,001 charges. That`s 18 U.S. code Section 1,001 on false statements.

MELBER: False statements. Yes.

HOSKO: You typically see that buried into other more substantive offenses and it`s you know, hanging on at end. Here it`s only charge.

MELBER: Oh, yes, I mean, that`s -- I think that comes across in the strategy. He`s not playing.

HOSKO: He is not playing and he`s not been playing.

MELBER: And it doesn`t matter how early and who it was said to and whether there was a way to spin out of it, he`s coming for you even if it`s one offense as a standalone. Let me read to you Ron an analysis from Lawfare which has had some of the best -- the best pieces on this. Mueller`s opening bid a remarkable show of strength. He has a cooperative witness. He`s alleging astonishing criminality on the part of Trump`s campaign manager. So, Ron, you talk about the message, what about the cooperation? If we`re only learning about people that Mueller arrested for the first time in July, now in late October, do you think there could be other arrests right now that have already been made of officials or people in this -- in this case that we don`t know about?

HOSKO: I don`t know that there would be other arrests. I think that other arrest would have to be marched in front of a judge and get their advice of rights and there`d be public opportunity there for the press to know and the rest of us to know. So I don`t think there`d been other arrests. My guess is he has his crosshairs on other expected subjects and he is probably squeezing hard on other potential witnesses, telling them what they`re options are and trying to get them on board.

MELBER: And Ned, when you look at that, can you glean, separate from the law, whether there is an emerging theory from Bob Mueller`s investigation about what he`s looking at, or whether he`s just picking up the lay-up crimes at the start?

NED PRICE, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, Ari, I think Mueller, from what we`ve seen both today and what we`ve read in the press over the past couple of weeks is focusing on key prongs, collusion and obstruction of justice, of course, being the two primary ones but let`s not forget that there`s a broad third prong, and that is his right to investigate any crimes that arose or may arise as a result of these underlying matters. And so, I think that`s where we`re seeing Bob Mueller start with both Manafort and his one-time deputy in today`s indictments, but it`s not where it`s going to stop.

He is clearly using these-- the indictment today along with the guilty plea on the part of George Papadopoulos, not only to goose both Manafort and his deputy into cooperating but as Ron and you were saying, to send a signal. To send a signal that he -- that he, Mueller, will charge you with anything he is capable of, and that if you cooperate, you will get lighter charge. But if you fail to do so, as in the case of Manafort earlier today, you`ll be faced with potentially 12 charges.

MELBER: Right. And just because other prosecutors haven`t always enforced the foreign power registration rules, which Manafort`s attorney pointed out today, that`s true, it also doesn`t mean they can`t. And Mueller very clearly showing he`s willing to throw that and he didn`t need that on top of the financial crimes, I think he threw in there also to show as Ron and I were discussing that he`s not playing. For the expertise from CIA and the FBI, Ned, and Ron, thank you so much.

PRICE: You`re welcome.

MELBER: Up next, Donald Trump lashing out saying, the actual story is Hillary Clinton. Well, we have a long-time Hillary Clinton Adviser, the man who played Trump in her mock debates with a view on how Clinton world is feeling today. And this breaking short MSNBC news, there are stunning new numbers breaking this hour about how many Americans were reached by Russian Facebook ads. I`m going to tell you the exact number after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with our breaking coverage today. Bob Mueller indicting two individuals and securing a guilty plea from another in the Russia probe. It has been a day of fast-moving events. One of the big questions is how is the Hillary Clinton team reacting to this news about things that impacted her narrow election loss? I`m about to be joined by Ron Klain, a long-time Democratic operative and Philippe Reines who worked directly for Hillary and even played Donald Trump. Gentlemen, this is planned, so stay with me but I have something first.

And that is breaking news from our own Carol Lee with a big story separate from all this about how Russian content reached people on Facebook. You`ve got the news and numbers. Go ahead, please.

CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Sure. Well, Ari, this -- what we`ve learned is that this content promoted by Russian-backed fake Facebook pages reached 126 Americans. Now, what`s significant about that is --

MELBER: 126 million?

LEE: 126 million Americans, yes. So essentially if you are American, particularly one of who`s the voting age, the chances that you saw Russia`s attempt to interfere in the presidential election are pretty high. And what else is also interesting about this is that when Facebook says that it was just 29 million Americans who saw directly this content from this Russian account -- Russian Facebook pages, but then that multiplied because people liked it or they shared it or you know, they otherwise moved the content on Facebook and so then it just spread. And that underscores the problem that they`re facing in terms of how you rein this in in future elections.

MELBER: It`s fascinating. And on a day when there`s so much news flying around, you`ve got this original report as we look ahead to seeing Facebook and these other companies testify this week with a lot of pressure coming down including as you`ve reported from Senator Diane Feinstein who says she`s moving beyond what Republicans are willing to do. So I know you`ll stay on it and I hope we could talk again this week with a lot going on. I now turn Philippe Reines, a longtime Adviser to Hillary Clinton, as well as Ron Klain who served in senior roles in the Obama White House, Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden, two Democrats with a lot of experience. Philly, what is your reaction as someone who is inside the Clinton campaign to what we learned today?

PHILIPPE REINES, SENIOR ADVISOR TO HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it`s just another day if you`re talking about the social media pages, it`s very hard. I think we both Ron and I and everyone who worked for Secretary Clinton in the campaign sensed things going wrong on this front during the campaign. You don`t fully appreciate how badly and with every day that goes by we learn something new. It`s obviously a very tough problem for social media companies to get a handle on --

MELBER: Sure but I mean, beyond that, when you look at -- when you look at not only indictments but you look you opponent having a former aide plead guilty and agree in court under oath about his contacts to get dirt that would have been illegal, already gotten the e-mails on your -- on your boss, how does that make you feel?

REINES: On one hand, too little, too late, but on the other hand, justice looks like it will be served. And the second is where we are and that`s what`s most important and I think Donald Trump and his staff find themselves in situation that they`ve never been in where they`re so used to working the riff and muscling and bullying people and now they`re up against someone in Bob Mueller who is impervious to that kind of bullying.

MELBER: Do you think the evidence -- do you think the evidence in court today, unsealed today adds to the record to suggest that part of the reason Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college while winning the popular vote was because there were efforts to cheat?

REINES: Absolutely. Today, compounds reinforces the ideas that the Russians were actively trying to meddle in our election to Donald Trump`s benefit. What you keep hearing whether it`s with Donald Junior or Jared Kushner, or George Papadopoulos, or all of them is that they tried and tried and tried. They didn`t just try once at Trump Tower, they kept looking and looking and looking. And I think we`re going to find out that they found their way into the Trump organization.

MELBER: Ron, I`m going to read again from this guilty plea and confession from a former Trump aide because we don`t usually get this say, I don`t know, about a year after a campaign is done. Someone is saying in court, hearing his plea, he was told the Russians had obtained quote dirt on then- candidate Clinton, including quote thousands of e-mails. This was back in April. That dirt and those thousands of e-mails from the Russians were not widely known or reported at the time Ron, giving credence to the idea that the Russians had special knowledge that they were successfully getting to offer Trump aides in meetings.

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, you know, all of this stuff was laid out by Secretary Clinton in our campaign in 2016 and people doubted it. People said it wasn`t true and the Trump Campaign and Donald Trump has denied it. And day by day, we`re seeing that those denials are falling. So one denial was that WikiLeaks had the stuff or maybe some 400-pound guy in New Jersey had the stuff but Russians didn`t have it. So now we have a guilty plea saying that the Russians had these e-mails in April and were trying to traffic them.

And so there`s one more stone in their defense of this that`s fallen. And so you know, the evidence keeps mounting. Carol`s report about the social media stuff adds to that. 128 million people saw this material on Facebook. If just 1 percent of those people were influenced by it, that`s 15 times more than the margin of defeat in this race. So you know, the evidence continues to mount, the excuses are falling away, and they all point to obviously a lot of trouble for Donald Trump and his former associates.

MELBER: And meanwhile there are attacks on Hillary Clinton as this was getting to boiling point. Here was Fox`s Jeanine Pirro this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANINE PIRRO, HOST, FOX NEWS: It`s time folks, it`s time to shut it down, turn the tables and lock her up. That`s what I said, I actually said it, lock her up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Ron, your response?

KLAIN: Well that`s just the jack boot voice of authoritarianism. I mean, the idea that the President would shut down a lawful investigation, turn the tables is just simply a word for trying to use raw power to then imprison his opponent. And you know, that is definitely a way of governing, it`s the way of governing in North Korea though, not the United States of America. And I don`t care if you voted for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, I don`t care if you`re a Democrat or Republican, that kind of comment should be highly offensive to every American.

MELBER: Yes, it`s -- and it`s fascinating coming from people that are known to be communicating with the President or allies of the President. Thank you, Ron Klain. Philippe, I had some other things I`m going to ask, I hope you can join me later this week on THE BEAT because there`s more here.

REINES: Anytime.

MELBER: Great.

KLAIN: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you. Now, next up, 12 counts, 31 pages, Paul Manafort not pleading guilty, so what is his defense and how do Donald Trump`s lawyers make their arguments? Our special tonight has many different beats, and our next beat is a lawyer who defended Tom DeLay on the defense strategies. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Big news day with Mueller`s indictments but we still don`t know if there was collusion between Donald Trump and the Kremlin. We do know a former Trump adviser lied about his contacts with Russia, and Trump`s Press Secretary downplayed that role today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just explain what George Papadopoulos` role with the campaign was?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: It was extremely limited. It was a volunteer position. And again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That claim is false. Papadopoulos just admitted some of the activity, including not only the controversial Russia contacts. The public record also shows him the center of this huddle during a campaign event with Donald Trump literally a few chairs down. Paul Manafort`s lawyer began his defense though today, on the courthouse steps.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT`S LAWYER: There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.

The claim that maintaining offshore accounts to bring all your funds into the United States as a scheme to conceal from the United States government is ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by Betsy Woodruff, a Political Reporter for the Daily Beast who`s been breaking her share of stories here and Brian Wice a Criminal Defense Attorney who represented former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in a conspiracy in money laundering criminal defense appeal. Go to you, Brian, what is the best defense here for at least these two indicted individuals from the Trump orbit today?

BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Ari, I hope you guys don`t cancel my car service for saying this, but I spent lunch going through these 31 pages and it`s difficult to come up with what passes for credible defense. This is not a murder case where self-defense is an issue, with theft case where consent or security fraud case involving the statute of limitations. This is a case that turns on a money trail and a paper trail. And this is not a situation where a great lawyer can break down a lying cop or a thieving snitch. In 38 years of practice, I`ve never seen any lawyer be able to break down an e-mail or a bank robber and get them to confess that they`ve got it wrong.

MELBER: Right, you`re saying -- you`re saying this is a paper case, not a people case. And while you can find out in people and you can undermine them before a jury, when the paper is strong, that`s much harder. I guess I got to ask you the question then. Do you think this is an even harder defense than that for Tom DeLay?

WICE: You know, in DeLay, Ari, we had a situation where basically nobody disagreed as to what Tom did. The question was whether or not the prosecution overreached and created a crime out of a series of innocent acts. So at the end of the day what the court of appeals found in acquitting Tom that assuming everything that the prosecution said was true, it didn`t constitute criminal conduct. That is not this case and if there is such a thing as a term paper that feels like an A in college, this is an indictment that feels like a conviction, Ari.

MELBER: It does feel like a conviction, which is striking coming from you. Although I have to note for the record, Betsy, the good lawyer that Brian is, he did not exactly answer the question, did not want the compare his former client directly. But Betsy, what are we hearing on the larger defense out of the Trump world?

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: The folks that I have spoken to today who are in that space have taken a fairly bullish tone when it comes to talking about these issues. And I think one thing that`s important to remember here is that given that Manafort has been indicted under FARA, which is the law that bars people from secretly lobbying for a foreign government in the United States, that`s something that really new. We haven`t had a serious FARA indictment I believe in decades.

So one thing that we`ve already heard from Manafort`s defense team that we`re likely to hear going forward is that this is a novel interpretation of the way that the FARA statute works and that it`s politically motivated. That`s a case that we can expect Manafort`s defense team to make. My guess is that the legal process here is going to be quite long, quite drawn out. It wouldn`t be surprising to me if there are also some criticisms of the way that the Mueller probe has functioned, potentially even charges of prosecutorial misconduct from the defense.

MELBER: Right, attacking the prosecutor:

WOODRUFF: Look, they know they`re in a corner, they know it`s going to be tough.

MELBER: Brian, can I ask you a silly question?

WICE: Absolutely, Ari.

MELBER: Would it help Paul Manafort in court to say regardless of what he is accused of, he doesn`t like Hillary Clinton or she has done bad things? Is that something that would get him off?

WICE: Well, it depends if they -- if they change venue to the Hamptons if they change venue to the Coal Country of Pennsylvania, your guess is as good as mine. But I noticed in the clip you played before we came on of Manafort`s lawyer on the courthouse steps. Yes, a couple really good sound bites but he addressed probably 1/2 of1 percent of the allegations in this 31-page indictment. He is going to have to do better than ridiculous by way of mounting a credible defense to these allegations, Ari.

MELBER: Right. And tweeting about Clinton may be a political strategy. It`s not something that tends to move the judges running the traps or the jurors making the final call if it gets to that point. Brian Wice and Betsy Woodruff on a busy news day, thank you so much.

WOODRUFF: Sure thing.

MELBER: And we`ll be right back with the final word here on THE BEAT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: There`s a lot we still don`t know about Bob Mueller`s Russia probe but tonight we can tell you we`ve reached a turning point. You have a guilty plea in this probe, you have two other indictments that will lead to trials unless a lot changes. So we tried to answer some of your questions. If you have more, as always, the best place to get us is facebook.com/thebeatwithari and I will be answering some of the question there when you post them. That does it for me. I`ll see you back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. Now it`s "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews.

END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.