The Presidency under investigation Transcript 11/2/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Joe Crowley, Sam Nunberg, Clint Watts

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 2, 2017 Guest: Joe Crowley, Sam Nunberg, Clint Watts

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": 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 MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Chuck, I`ve got one thing for you. You know me. I`m in the news business. So, I always do things timely. I want to talk baseball with you because I heard the World Series ended.

TODD: That`s what I hear, too.

MELBER: And I want to tell you I`m holding a Mariners cap here from my home city of Seattle. You brought this up and I think we have the tape. Yes. You had your Washington Nationals. I wasn`t ready that day. And the reason I`m holding this hat is that the leadership of the Mariners sent it here. They apparently are big "MTP Daily" fans because they are watching your show and then they noticed me not armed with a Mariners hat. I have one now. I want you to know.

TODD: The most important thing - good for you. And the LA Dodgers owe the Seattle Mariners a big thank you because Chris Taylor, even in a loss, has proven to be one great Los Angeles dodger. Could have been a Seattle Mariner.

MELBER: I`m going to be honest. I`m glad to have the hat, but I`ve got to be honest, because that`s the business we`re in, I don`t know what you just said.

TODD: Fair enough. But our friends in Seattle do. So, that`s all that matters.

MELBER: Exactly. And they watch "MTP Daily." Two takeaways tonight. I hope everyone enjoyed their World Series. Thank you, Chuck.

TODD: You got it.

MELBER: All right, everyone. I had to do that and I was happy to get the hat.

We have a lot of stories, though, as well. Four developments in the Russia probe tonight. One, the case against Paul Manafort is proceeding in court today. A judge saying she has concerns about flight. That means the worry that Manafort would actually become a fugitive and illegally run from his trial, pretty significant thing today, orders now for home confinement with GPS monitoring of the former campaign chair, with another hearing Monday with more developments.

The second story, new reports about new charges against the people responsible for Russian meddling in our election. Who the justice department is talking about charging? I`ll get to that in just a moment.

And our third story, though, is NBC News conforming Jared Kushner giving new documents to Bob Mueller.

And then, the top story tonight, Attorney General Jeff Sessions back in the hot seat because of this guilty plea from the former Trump aide. George Papadopoulos, of course, had said he lied to federal investigators about his meetings with the Russians, but there`s more to it. All of this unwinding right now.

The court documents describe a meeting Papadopoulos attended with Attorney General Sessions and then candidate Trump. And at that meeting, on March 31, 2016, Papadopoulos described how he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then candidate Trump and President Putin.

Now, NBC`s Ken Dilanian reports a source says that Sessions rejected Papadopoulos` offer.

Now, alone, if you think about it, that could be a good thing because it could suggest that the Trump campaign leadership shot down this idea, while e-mails showed other people had encouraged it on the campaign.

But when it comes to Jeff Sessions and Russia contacts, stop me if you already remember this. But very few things can be viewed in isolation. That`s because, of course, this has been a problem for the attorney general.

In fact, when Sessions was asked about Russia meetings under oath, he gave this non-answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did you ever overhear a conversation between you and anybody on the campaign who talked about meeting with the Russians?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have not seen anything that would indicate a collusion with Russians to impact the campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Turning up questions about meetings into conclusion. Now, his other denial would require that he never heard about what we learned this week. That Papadopoulos was talking to Russians, offering dirt on Clinton to interfere in the election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SESSIONS: I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.

Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Again, you have denying conversations about interference, but not denying any conversations altogether.

Now, Sessions did have meetings with the Russian Ambassador, even though he had initially denied that contact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SESSIONS: I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I am unable to comment on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It later came out, of course, that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador twice. Congressional investigators telling NBC, now they want to question Sessions again about these conversations with Papadopoulos.

And then, the other developing story. DOJ prosecutors are considering more charges for Russian meddling. You heard that right.

You know that Mueller - by now, of course, you`ve heard - has indicted three people this week, all Americans. These new charges, though, under consideration would be against Russians. More than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the DNC.

That`s per "The Wall Street Journal". They could bring this case as soon as next year. The move picking up the Russia side of this deal, meddling and the offering of dirt.

Now, this is not legally a new strategy. You remember the prosecutor who Trump kep on this year and then fired a few months later? Preet Bharara? He indicted Russians for spying in the US back in 2015.

As a member of national security, the DOJ clearly thinks indicting the Russians could be useful. As a matter of intelligence and even politics, this is another potential wall closing in on Donald Trump`s alternative facts.

Mr. President, if your DOJ does indict these Russians for all of this meddling, that`s your administration building a case against Russians and implicitly building a case against your denials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Ithink it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: With me is NBC`s Ken Dilanian and Richard Painter, former White House ethics chief.

Richard, on the strategy here, it would be significant if you indicted Russians. I mentioned it`s been done before? Your analysis?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, they should indict who engaged in criminal conduct inside the United States or in violation of United States law.

They may not be able to apprehend these Russians depending on where they are. They may claim diplomatic immunity or something. But I think they should go ahead and do that.

I`m not sure the Russians will spill the beans on anything because there might be consequences for that once they get back to Russia. So, it`s not as easy to get information from these types of defendants as it would from some of the Americans, who have already been indicted and some of them are cooperating with the government.

They certainly should go ahead and do it and prosecute the Russians who engage in espionage inside the United States and also the Americans who helped them.

MELBER: And, Ken, the question I have to ask you is, what is the deal with Jeff Sessions?

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Ari, the Democrats in the Senate are essentially accusing him of not telling the truth and they want him to come back to Congress and clear up some of the language that you just played there.

But as you played it, it struck me once again, and I`ve been listening to it all day, how careful and lawyerly he was in those answers.

MELBER: Well, he`s a lawyer, Ken.

DILANIAN: He`s a lawyer. And he did not deny meeting with Russians or hearing about meetings with Russians. He denied hearing about meetings involving collusion.

MELBER: Right. And if he were here, he might say you`re being very reporterly about it.

DILANIAN: Exactly.

MELBER: But I think what you`re getting at, I want you to speak to is, is it lawyerly precision, which is OK, or is it lawyerly evasion when he has an obligation not only to defend himself, or try to stay out of trouble, but also to help the Congress, where he is a former member, get to the bottom of all this? That`s what goes beyond the lawyerly, right?

DILANIAN: You`re absolutely right. And after he had had to amend his testimony to say, yes, in fact, I met with the Russian ambassador even though I said I didn`t, he knew that the whole line of inquiry was, we want to know, did Russians meet with members of the Trump campaign.

So, anything that you know about that can help us. Now, it turns out that he was in a meeting where a lower level Trump campaign aide said, yes, I would like to arrange this with Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. My Russian contacts can help me. These Russians that I`m going to touch with.

Did he ask further questions about that? Was he aware that the Russians had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton to this guy, Papadopoulos, and thousands of e-mails? We don`t know the answer to that. But I know the Congress wants to know the answer to that, wants to ask Jeff Sessions under oath that question.

MELBER: All right. Well, I want you both to stay with me, lawyer and reporter, and I want to bring in Josh Marshall, the founder and editor of "Talking Points Memo", which digs into a lot of these issues, as well as conservative analyst Kirstin Haglund.

Josh, you look at this and you think about this ongoing exchange with Al Franken. It`s to be the longest perjury debate we`ve had in a while. Listen to Senator Franken previously on all this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don`t recall whether you talked about issues and Trump`s views on issues with Russia. Not being able to recall what you discussed with him is very different than saying, I have not had communications with the Russians. The ambassador from Russia is Russian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH MARSHALL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, "TALKING POINTS MEMO": Yes. I think there are a couple of things going on here. The first is, I think we need to look at this whole, almost year-long period right now.

At the beginning, Jeff Sessions knew about - obviously, knew about this who arc. Knew the points that he would have to be careful about. And I think what we need to look at is people trying to understand what happened in the election, is that Jeff Sessions was there at the very beginning when this group got put together.

MELBER: And he is there at the table. You see right there.

MARSHALL: He`s there at the table.

MELBER: I guess he is at the foot of the table. The candidate is at the head of the table.

MARSHALL: It`s a pretty small table.

MELBER: And the alleged coffee boy, I was told, from Trump supporters this week and some former trump campaign advisers. He is a coffee boy. Well, I guess the Barista got a good seat that day.

MARSHALL: Well, he`s there at the beginning. They talk to this guy. He`s in contact with Russians, whoever they are. In some ways, a meeting between Putin and Trump, that`s not really the point. Of course, that`s not going to happen. That`s crazy.

But they were talking about -

MELBER: Because crazy things don`t happen in 2017.

MARSHALL: Exactly, exactly. But they were also talking about let`s get our people together with your people. Sessions was there. He was clearly in on that discussion at some level. Certainly, at that table.

And he`s also - later in the year, he`s having this meeting with the Russian ambassador, which he says was in his role as a senator. That never really -

MELBER: Made sense.

MARSHALL: Never really made sense. And when it came to his testimony before the Congress, in his confirmation hearing, he was very - this is - the whole thing fits together. It tells the story.

MELBER: Kirsten, I can`t tell if you`re smiling during that or wincing?

KIRSTEN HAGLUND, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST: Both. What is very interesting about all of this is that you said the American people want to get to the bottom of this and objectively we should want justice.

We should want things to come out of this, so we can move forward and say, all right, as a government, we want to make sure that we`re protecting our political parties, we want to protect information, right? All of this. We want to learn things.

But let`s be honest. The bases on both sides, both Democrats and Republicans, are going to politicize whatever information we get from any investigation. That`s the level that we`re at in this country right now, which is depressing, frankly, hence the wincing.

But I`m smiling because, if you remember, Jeff Sessions was in hot water with the president earlier this year about recusing himself. So, I`m just not quite so sure how this is going to play out. We might see the departure of Jeff Sessions soon if this continues to play badly for the president.

MELBER: Josh?

MARSHALL: That`s a good point. Donald Trump, notwithstanding Jeff Sessions` loyalty to him, has not been terribly loyal to Jeff Sessions. It`s hard to say. We already have this news that he`s maybe turning against Jared Kushner, blaming the firing of James Comey on Jared Kushner.

There keeps being more and the pieces add up as you put them together on the calendar over time. And I think everything we know about Donald Trump tells us that he will do anything to protect himself.

MELBER: Richard, go ahead.

PAINTER: I`m very worried about the situation. I`m not happy with Jeff Sessions` testimony. But I also know that he had the good judgment to recuse himself in the Russia investigation and that Steve Bannon and a number of people, the alt-right extremists, really the neo-fascist wing of the Republican Party are pressing for Jeff Sessions to be thrown out, so someone else can be put in there and fire Robert Mueller. That is the end game.

And thus far, the White House has resisted that. President Trump has taken the advice thus far of his more reasonable advisers, and not interfered with the Mueller investigation. So, it is critically important that this testimony issue, which we`ve known about all along, that Jeff Sessions` testimony was never completely candid.

But we should not allow it to be used as an excuse to fire Jeff Sessions and then to fire Robert Mueller.

MELBER: Right.

PAINTER: Because that`s the "Breitbart News" game plan and that is going to lead to a constitutional crisis in this country. And we need to make sure that does not happen.

MELBER: Right. "Breitbart News" as well as, Josh Marshall - as well as Roger Stone`s currently suspended Twitter accounts because he is reportedly saying you either oust Mueller or you put him under some sort of criminal investigation, which is truly a Kafka or a Putinesque solution.

MARSHALL: Yes. I would never have thought that the president would or could fire the director of the FBI. He did that. So, I don`t think we can say anything is not possible.

I do think that - another thing - and Mr. Painter was just saying this, initially, he fired James Comey on the idea that he was firing him because he`d been too unfair to Hillary Clinton. So, the idea that they might get rid of Sessions because he wasn`t truthful about Russia in his testimony, that could happen.

MELBER: Final word.

HAGLUND: We`re doing Russia`s dirty work for them. We`re eroding our confidence in the American government. This is exactly what they want. So, we need to get to the bottom of this in a clean way, so that everyone can have justice.

MELBER: Kirsten Haglund, thank you very much. Ken Dilanian reporting from Washington. Richard Painter, always appreciate your insights. Josh Marshall, stay with me. The "Breitbart" stuff, I want to get some more of your fact checking later.

Ahead, a BEAT exclusive, a former Trump campaign aide speaking out, saying that Trump cannot get any worse. Also, going on the record with what he says the White House insiders are really saying about Jared Kushner.

And something else you don`t see every day. Trump reaching out and kissing some legislation. We will talk about what is actually in the tax bill.

And reported on so many presidential crises, he led the Watergate investigation coverage for NBC and how it`s affected the presidency and the course of history, I`m very happy to say, the one and only Tom Brokaw is walking in the room to be on THE BEAT. Stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Donald Trump`s first year in office has been unusual and this week`s indictments of three of his former aides mark the earliest charges against the president`s aides in modern history. But this is not the first White House to struggle with these kinds of issues.

Residents under the weight of criminal investigation include Clinton, Reagan and Nixon, who faced long probes testing focus, their respect for the rule of law and their ability to govern.

One NBC journalist covered each of those national tests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I`m not a crook.

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: The president has ignored an order from the federal appeals court. He has fired the special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. He has accepted the resignation of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and he has forced the resignation of Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.

In view of all of that, don`t expect now that impeachment proceedings against the president will begin in the House of Representatives?

Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States: Well, I`m not going to lie about that. I didn`t make a mistake.

BROKAW: The president himself must be asking tonight, is there any end to this Iranian quagmire? It seems to be getting deeper by the hour.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

BROKAW: The trial of the president of the United States will begin Thursday in the US Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The investigation of a president, let alone a trial, can be a source of both patriotic trauma and civic pride. Trauma, because when you love your country, you recoil from the idea its leader could have broken laws he swore to uphold.

Pride, because we are a nation of laws, intended to hold everyone to account. When the accountability does kick in, it can provide major pressure on a White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROKAW: The oppressive developments in the Middle East forced the president to first cancel his speech and then postpone a news conference that would have dealt almost exclusively with the president`s problems at home.

President Reagan tonight is under attack from both sides of the South Africa dispute for steps that he took today.

But the terrorist campaign against the United States is much more widespread, much more sophisticated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: To reflect on the broader historical context of this week`s investigative development, we are joined by a seasoned journalist. You may know Tom Brokaw served as NBC White House correspondent during Watergate, covered Iran Contra, Whitewater and nine presidents through war and peace. He is, of course, special correspondent for NBC News.

Always great to have you.

BROKAW: Thank you, Ari. I`m going to put on my glasses because when I`m looking at those, I`m seeing my hair history during the whole last 25 years. It is not a pretty site.

MELBER: It has got to be a trip to see yourself stitched in through the history. How does what happened this week change things?

BROKAW: Well, what I think it does is put everything at a different level of paralysis. I don`t think we`re completely paralyzed in Washington by any means.

Today, the republicans rolled out tax overhaul. But it`s in the context now of what else is going on behind closed doors. And there isn`t a member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, who isn`t thinking, what`s this going to end up? How is this going to be different than what it was two days ago?

And the White House, a lot of those staffers are thinking, is my name going to come up somewhere? Can I keep my attention on the business before us? Or do I have to get a lawyer of some kind?

This changes the equation. The White House - in Washington, the white- collar crime bar is riveted by what`s going on because we don`t know what Mueller has on Papadopoulos, for example.

We have a pretty good idea, at this point, about what he has on the other two who have been indicted. But what are they saying?

So, there`s a lot of speculation. And that`s going to be a big distraction as we go forward.

MELBER: Right. And it`s a distraction, as you point out, with a lot of question marks.

I know you were just speaking to Sen. McCain and talking about the role of facts and journalism in an era like this. Let`s take a quick look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROKAW: The president has no use for the press. He has turned the country against us in many ways.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think the role of the press is more important than ever before.

I hate the press. OK? But the fact is, without a free press in this country, the pillar of democracy is destroyed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What did you think about that and where that comes from?

BROKAW: Well, I`ve known John a long time. In fact, we used to be quite close. Always correct professionally, but we had a good personal relationship.

And then, when he ran against Obama, he took it out on the press, me included. He put us all on the deep freeze for a while.

We broke out of the deep freeze in the last nine months or so. And when he said I hate the press, that was his way of having a little sense of humor about it all.

He also made a really important speech at the naval academy on Monday night about who we are and where we need to get to as a country. He thinks we`ve gone back to the 1930s. We`re talking about isolationism and we`re pretending like we don`t lead the world. I recommend to everybody you google that speech.

John McCain is at a crisis in his life, personally and professionally. He has a very severe case of cancer at this point. He also sees this as his last hoorah as a senator. So, I think he wants to speak truth to power wherever he is and I think that we need that in Washington right now.

I`m sure they`re not happy with him at the White House. He`s a person who said he wasn`t a hero in his eyes. He was a hero. And he`s a man who has earned his right to say what he`s been saying. And I think we`ll probably be hearing more from him.

When you look at the revelations and the accountability in cases like Iran Contra and Watergate, was it more about the system working because we have checks in the government? Or in your view, was an equally important factor, a press that drove along those stories and stayed on them?

BROKAW: Well, I think, in the end, it was all the institutions of governments working in some form or another. The rule of law. The place of the Congress in the United States, equal branches of government. And the role of the press.

But I always put Watergate in a different category. That was a criminal conspiracy run out of the Oval Office, involving great payoffs and breaking into a psychiatrist`s office that went on for years. The president`s closest aides were sent to prison.

We`re not at that stage yet, I don`t think, and I don`t know whether we ever will be. But we always have to keep that in context.

I`m always reluctant to say, well, it`s going to be Watergate again. Watergate was unique. Let`s keep that on mind.

MELBER: Right.

BROKAW: But this is a different and a very, potentially, serious situation that we`re in. And I don`t think even Donald Trump`s tweets can override the reality of that.

MELBER: Right. And the tweets, as some have pointed out, are a new bottle for a very old wine, which is, politicians clashing with the press. We went through some of the tape. This is the last - what did you say? The last hair style analysis we`ll do here. But we have some final tape to show you. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROKAW: This is Tom Brokaw of NBC News. But aren`t your statements to that matter historically inaccurate or misleading?

NIXON: It is difficult to find a proper way to meet the demands of the Congress.

TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I know you have to get up and ask questions.

BROKAW: The unemployment is now 8.4. Everyone is saying it`s going to go over 9 percent. Are we sliding from a recession into a depression?

REAGAN: The national figures hide the fact that some areas are truly depressed.

JIM ACOSTA, "CNN" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can we ask you some more questions then, sir?

TRUMP: It doesn`t bother me at all. But, you know, I like real news. Not fake news. You`re fake news.

BROKAW: That`s fueled a lot of speculation that your Vice President Al Gore has moved down in the feeding chain somewhat. Do you take his advice or her advice when there`s a big decision?

CLINTON: I`ll take them both and then make the best decision I can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re attacking our news organization.

TRUMP: No. Not you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us a chance? You are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir? Sir? Can you say -?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Your final thought for us on where history has landed on these.

TRUMP: Well, I think all reporters have to remember that they`re there to get the facts and not just to get on television and all reporters have to remind themselves from time to time that the country wants to know what they can find out. Not what they believe is going on, but what, in fact, is happening. That`s the most important thing, Ari.

MELBER: Tom Brokaw, thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

Ahead, Trump promising a beautiful Christmas present in that tax cut. But who will benefit? We have the numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are giving them a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: President Trump, he also kissed his beautiful tax bill today at one point. So, welcome to 2017. The whole scene reflecting the Trump administration`s last effort for a legislative win this year after failures on ObamaCare and the border wall. So here are three keys to understanding this brand new tax proposal. Now, the plan is not just some giveaway for millionaires. You hear that rhetoric but it is not an accurate description. The biggest giveaways are for multimillionaires and that`s the first rule in this tax plan. You can call it the Gucci main rule, a million here, a million there, multimillionaire because that`s the bracket you need to be in to do well. People with property and the range of only several million dollars get a tax cut when they transfer their estates. If you don`t have multimillions, you pay more so they get that cut.

And the second rule here is all about legally avoiding taxes with tricky accounting. You can call this one the Jay-Z rule. He said who deserves the medal of freedom is my accountant. He`s been hula-hooping through loopholes working around things. Jay-Z adding that he`s avoided so many taxes, the IRS should have had the townhouses surrounded but instead, thanks to the lawyers he marbled the foyer, took the floor up, we could go on. The point is this kind of accounting encourages that kind of tax dodging. The plan eliminates something called the alternative minimum tax. That`s a rule that makes sure, even if you have those great accountants and lawyers, there`s a minimum tax you have to pay. Well, that would be over. In fact, under Donald Trump`s 2005 tax return, it would have saved him millions.

And finally, the GOP plan raises Lauren Hill`s rule of financial planning. It`s not about what you caught, it`s about what you keep. The plan eliminates deduction that helps middle-class families keep more money if they have a mortgage or have a student related deduction. Meanwhile, corporations get a permanent cut down to the tax rate of 2-percent. Now whether lower tax of corporation is good for regular people is a big part of the ongoing debate. You may remember some say it all comes back to people anyway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR, MASSACHUSETTS: One is we could raise taxes on people. That`s not the way --

CROWD: Corporation.

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Corporations are people. And maybe that was just Mitt Romney`s way of saying I`m not a businessman, I`m a business man. And if you are rich enough to be a business, well, this plan could be very good for you. For a lot more analysis, I`m joined by Congressman Joe Crowley of New York. Thanks for being here. Those are a couple of rules we gleaned. What can you teach us?

REP. JOE CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK: Well, thank you, Ari. Thanks for having me on your show. Look, I think the President, what he said before, you know, this is a Christmas present. It is a Christmas present to the wealthiest in our nation. It is a Christmas present to special corporate interests in our nation at the expense of working people in our nation. That`s the bottom line here Ari. I really find it really hard to understand my Republican colleagues as they mumble and stumble trying to explain what they`re trying to do here. It is unconscionable quite frankly.

MELBER: And specifically on the breaks for businesses, the White House says that does get down and trickle down to help regular people. Your response.

CROWLEY: Look, you know, I think there are ways in which we can -- we can address the issues of corporate taxes, make them more competitive. What they`re doing here, lowering this to 20 percent, knowing what impact -- where will -- where will they get the money to do that? They blow up the national debt just to do that. They put this on the backs of working men and women to give those corporations that 20 percent rate and it simply isn`t fair. It is making an unfair code even more unfair.

MELBER: I guess my last question for you is what you just alluded to on the deficit. The Washington Post independent accounting says you got a $1.5 trillion boost to the debt. I thought that your opponents there were against adding to the debt.

CROWLEY: Well, I heard Senator Corker saying not one penny into the debt will he spend on a tax cut for anyone. Let`s see if they`re true to their word. But Ari, I`m hearing it`s going to be substantially more than $1.5 trillion to the nation`s debt. We`re hearing it`s going to cost well above $2 trillion. And I think that number is going to grow as time goes on. So, Ari, there`s a reason why this was done 30 years ago. It was done in a bipartisan way 30 years ago and when Ronald Reagan and Tip O`Neill got together. That is not happening now. This is one-sided bill again for the special corporate interest and the wealthiest in this country at the expense of working men and women and we won`t stand for it.

MELBER: Congressman Joe Crowley on a busy day. Thanks for joining.

CROWLEY: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Coming up, a former Trump campaign aide who says Trump can`t go any lower is here and I`ve had some questions this week for Facebook`s Mark Zuckerberg, some possible solutions up ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Another interesting story we haven`t gotten to you yet tonight, Trump mega-donor and a Bannon moneyman Robert Mercer stepping down from his billionaire hedge fund selling his stake in Breitbart News. And it all comes amidst Vanity Fair reports that Bannon is calling for big changes at the White House and how to deal with Mueller, a chaotic situation. And one of the people speaking out to Vanity Fair is former Trump Aide Sam Nunberg. And he says the President is in T.V. friendly terms, screwed. You may remember Nunberg, he was fired from the Trump campaign based on a range of deeply offensive social media posts including ones using racial epithets. Just last year, he was also sued for $10 million by Donald Trump Himself although they eventually settled.

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: I won that suit, by the way.

MELBER: Well, you settled.

NUNBERG: I settled.

MELBER: You did not win it in court.

NUNBERG: I didn`t win it in court. Correct, Ari.

MELBER: Now, I have more. Do you want to --

NUNBERG: OK. Yes.

MELBER: But you`re here. Any time. In the Vanity Fair report, Bannon worried about Trump losing power. And Nunberg says basically his former boss, the President, can`t go any lower. He is -- and then there`s a word I can`t say on television. With me is former Trump Campaign Adviser Sam Nunberg. We will get to all of this but let`s start with why you`re back in the news. You along with apparently, allegedly Steve Bannon are on the outside saying, it is bad in the White House.

NUNBERG: It`s very bad.

MELBER: Does Donald Trump get in it your view?

NUNBERG: I don`t know if he gets it because what I`ve heard is from people that have talked to him and I have not talked to him recently, Ari. But what I`ve heard is that he is listening to this guy Ty Cobb. Ty Cobb from my perspective is playing defense. Ty Cobb is --

MELBER: You`re talking about his -- one of his --

NUNBERG: Yes. Ty Cobb is a lawyer. Correct. Ty Cobb came in. Ty Cobb, they had him you know, brought in once when Kelly came in. He was part of this whole new regime that was --

MELBER: To cooperate with Mueller. And Bannon says that`s a terrible idea. Have you talked with Steve Bannon about this?

NUNBERG: I don`t want to talk -- you know, what, let me not say whether or not I`ve talked to anyone.

MELBER: It sounds like a yes.

NUNBERG: It sounds like a yes.

MELBER: Because it would be easier to say no.

NUNBERG: But what I would say in general, what I`ve heard from Alan Dershowitz -- I`ve spoke to Alan Dershowitz the other day and what I heard from Alan Dershowitz was, in general, you want to say publicly, we`ll cooperate. But Ty Cobb has made it a point to say we`re going to give everything over. And if you look at the Ken Vogel New York Times report, which you reported on, you know, it goes into how people like Trump loyalists, who are not around him anymore, Ari, are saying you got to fight this. You got to be on offense.

MELBER: Now, then you get into Jared Kushner. Let me read from another quote

NUNBERG: Yes, he`s terrible. He`s a joke. He`s an absolute joke.

MELBER: You say he`s the worst political adviser in modern history.

NUNBERG: He is -- he is an absolute joke. You know -- and by the way, Ari, by the way, I would say -- I would say you know, he should go back to real estate in New York. Unfortunately, I hear from what I read, I don`t know real estate in New York. He is not very good at that either. What I do know is from public reporting, and you know, what I do know is that he said we should fire -- you should fire Flynn, should you fire Mueller, should you do this, you should do that, you should make deals on things that would be direct.

MELBER: Comey.

NUNBERG: On Comey, yes. He said fire Comey. And by the way, a lot of people suspect, I don`t know. A lot of people suspect which nobody has really reported, that Comey started looking into Jared`s financial dealings and these real estate dealings. Jared is a major problem. And you know, the real problem is -- and I know Ivanka and I love Ivanka and I think she`s great. You know, you think about it, 2009, she marries Jared Kushner. 2009, 2010, he owns the observer. He has that big deal on 666 Fifth Avenue. And it has all turned to crap.

MELBER: Yes, he`s got -- let me -- let me ask you this. Because these are people that you got -- you and Steve Bannon have long-running feuds with. What is Donald Trump doing wrong with regard to Russia and are you worried that he has exposure on allowing attempted collusion during the campaign as some of these e-mails seem to suggest?

NUNBERG: I don`t -- I don`t -- I`ll disagree with you on collusion. I don`t know about collusion. By the way, I wouldn`t know about collusion. You remember I was you know, as you talked about, I was fired within six weeks of the campaign. I was sued the summer when he was the nominee. But what but what I would say is, the problem is, you know -- first of all, Jeff Sessions. OK, I`m talking from a conservative point of view, for your network. Jeff Sessions should never have recused himself totally. Whether he should have recused -- whatever, I don`t know. But he should not have recused himself. Once he recused --

MELBER: What does Donald Trump need to do differently? I mean, you`re making waves. The only reason you`re here is --

NUNBERG: I know, I think -- I think he needs to fire Cobb. I think Cobb has told him, Cobb has said this publicly that the Mueller investigation will exonerate Trump by the end of the year. It will not, Ari. It will not. You`re going to have trial -- you`re going to have --

MELBER: Let me hit pause -- let me hit pause. I`m going to hit pause and then you get to speak again after the pause.

NUNBERG: I`m sorry.

MELBER: You just said, you disagree with the Ty Cobb strategy that would result in Donald Trump being exonerated because he has nothing to hide. But a minute ago you just said, Donald Trump has nothing to hide. If you`re right, then isn`t Ty Cobb`s strategy to cooperate good because he`ll be cleared faster.

NUNBERG: No. It is not good and I`ll tell you why Ari. Because there`s a difference between whether or not Donald Trump is innocent on the actual collusion, which by the way, Alan Dershowitz as you know, and you guys -- and you`ve reported because I`ve watched you. Alan Dershowitz has said it`s not -- it may not be a crime even to have colluded with Russia.

MELBER: Are you not answering my question on purpose?

NUNBERG: I like that question, by the way. You`re very good.

MELBER: I`m asking -- you just said --

NUNBERG: This is why you get good ratings, by the way. I like that question.

MELBER: We`re almost -- we`re almost going to finish here but you just stay focused. You said you disagree with the strategy that says cooperate with Mueller because he`ll be exonerated but you also said he doesn`t have exposure. What Cobb and the White House lawyers have said publicly, as you`ve acknowledged it --

NUNBERG: No, no, Ari --

MELBER: It`s good to move forward with Mueller because the fact-finding would benefit Trump that he`s not exposed. That`s my final question for you.

NUNBERG: Ari, Ari, you do not release executive privilege. You do not give just -- you just do not give up executive privilege.

MELBER: So you`re saying you just see it as risk.

NUNBERG: Yes.

MELBER: Even though you don`t think he didn`t do anything wrong. The last thing I have to ask you before I let you go obviously is, will you ever apologize for all of these racial --

NUNBERG: Yes. I will apologize -- I will apologize and I have apologized and I also want you to know that somebody of the MSNBC family, Reverend Sharpton forgave me. And I was fired and I suffered serious consequences.

MELBER: So you are -- I mean that`s why I`m asking. I`m giving you a chance to --

NUNBERG: Thank you. And I thank you for it.

MELBER: You put this behind you and you`re sorry for it?

NUNBERG: I`m sorry and I hope your audience on your show -- I suffered serious consequences for this and I apologize and it has not been an issue.

MELBER: OK. Well --

NUNBERG: And thank you very much for bringing it up.

MELBER: And my (INAUDIBLE) for giving you a chance to address it.

NUNBERG: Yes -- no -- thank you. I thank you for that.

MELBER: Sam Nunberg, you are -- and you must be drinking a lot of coffee because I`m getting like a Vulcan eye contact thing with you here.

NUNBERG: Is that bad?

MELBER: No. This what energy. Thank you for coming up on THE BEAT. Thank you for taking the questions. I do -- you know I appreciate it.

NUNBERG: (INAUDIBLE) by the way.

MELBER: That is -- Mr. Nunberg, I turn now quickly to Josh Marshall for one final thought. Your reaction -- Mr. Nunberg and I, I think spoke about a range of issues. I think the most pertinent though is this tension on the White House strategy. Your response.

JOSH MARSHALL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: It sounds like fun times in Trump world, you know. I think the key is, that I don`t see how - - it was -- it was a bad idea to fire James Comey but a great idea to fire Bob Mueller. You know, cooperating with the investigation, that`s called the rule of law. I don`t know, you know, I don`t know what the -- what the plan is to go to war with Bob Mueller. It doesn`t, it sounds like things are pretty tense and maybe there`s turning on Jared Kushner right now who has his own lots of vulnerabilities. It sounds like a lot of people are very scared. That`s my take.

MELBER: Interesting. Well, we wanted to get a journalistic reaction to all of that. Josh Marshall, in two parts of THE BEAT tonight, thank you for joining us. Coming up, a former FBI agent is warning Congress about Facebook`s problem with Russian election meddling and that it`s far from over. He`s here live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Lawmakers grilling top lawyers from social media companies this week on all the Russian election interference issues. Now, one man who hasn`t been answering questions on Capitol Hill is Facebook`s Mark Zuckerberg. You might have even seen, we had some questions on THE BEAT for him yesterday. But there was another key Facebook hearing this week where former FBI Special Agent Clint Watts testified. You may know he first made waves back in March speaking out on Russia`s meddling. Well, this week he was back laying out specifically how vulnerable Silicon Valley remains to the influence of all kinds of foreign campaigns, starting with the perils of widespread anonymous accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: No. In a word, technology company, but we`re not a media company.

SHERYL SANDBERG, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FACEBOOK: We`re a tech company, we hire engineers. We don`t hire reporters, and no one is a journalist, we don`t cover the news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s the Facebook`s side. I`m going to show you that in a minute. But let`s see if we can show you any of the hearing side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT WATTS, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: Social media companies must work to immediately confirm real humans operate accounts. The negative effects social bots far outweigh any bit offense that come from the anonymous replication of accounts that broadcast high volumes of misinformation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was Clint`s take. His analysis and Facebook, of course, has corroborated that admitting so many fake accounts this week. Now, number two, the problem doesn`t just stop with meddling in the election, but how other countries and leaders are involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATTS: The Kremlin playbook will be adopted by authoritarians, dark political campaigns, unregulated global corporations will use this type of social media manipulation influence weaker countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And Watts addresses the other issue that millions of people are using Facebook for information and news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATTS: Whether they realize it or not, they`ve become the leading disseminator of news around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And that dissemination issue is a big part of this. It`s part of what we questioned last night. Does Facebook and specifically Mark Zuckerberg want to be accountable for how much profit they make off being one of the largest news publishers in the world? I am now joined by that man, Clint Watts who has been a leader on these issues for some time and I should note a law enforcement and non-partisan leader. I just have a political guest on talking politics. I`m going to talk to you about law enforcement. You`ve been sounding this bell for a while, but that hearing that you did this week, which may not have gotten as much attention as it deserves. What do you want people to know about what you were telling Congress?

WATTS: This is going -- this playbook is going to proliferate. Anybody with enough resources and technological capability can employ this against their adversaries. You could take a corporation if a small challenger were to come up a smear campaign. You can take any dark, political campaign, you would be a fool not to do this if it isn`t regulated. This would be like super Pac. You know, if you don`t raise money then you can`t do it, same with your social media. And for countries that are authoritarian, you`re going to see this used around the world because you can take any adversary, you can influence any weaker democracy just using their freedoms and really dominate the information space.

MELBER: You raise an important point because that`s the policy side of this, right? I mean, we`re here and we try to report on what`s happening and what might happen. But in policy, it`s all about dealing with the eventualities and you really sounded the alarm that this works, it`s cheap, and so it`s a problem that`s going to get worse if we, America, don`t get better at stopping it.

WATTS: That`s right. The social media companies have gone up to about 70, 80 percent of all distribution of consumption of news, especially in the run-up to elections and political campaigns. It is the best way to target voters. You can actually change the ads that show up in one house between the different people that are logged on to social media. So you can target them in such a refined way and anyone can target. I can micro-target you, you can micro-target me from your house. You just need to be deliberate. The second that open source data in just (INAUDIBLE) in such a way that you can then program and use these tools and Google Analytics for example or Facebook advertisements in such a targeted way you can hit anybody in the world.

MELBER: Will you not target me if I ask you not to?

WATTS: I won`t target you.

MELBER: Thank you.

WATTS: At least for now.

MELBER: It`s 2017. So you brought it up, I figured maybe you`ll spare me. The other serious piece of this that also has not gotten a lot of attention on the Facebook side is Vladimir Putin`s number two man, Dmitry Medvedev. He used to be Prime Minister. You see the two Russian leaders together here. In 2012, Zuckerberg personally went to Russia to meet with that man, then the number two in the Kremlin. And of course, the reality is, Facebook does business to all over the world. So Zuckerberg was literally not there yesterday. This side by side tells the story. He sends his lawyer to meet with the U.S. Congress, but he went personally when it came time to meet with Putin`s hand-picked Prime Minister. Your analysis of that because his 2012 trip is getting more scrutiny now.

WATTS: Here`s the deal, Russia has a choke point on the internet. They actually dominate. They have a system that actually sits on top of the internet cables that come into the country, and they can shut off these social media companies if they wanted to.

MELBER: Let`s pause right there. You`re saying something that I don`t think has been said enough, that Mark Zuckerberg might worry more about his relationship with the Kremlin than with the United States because we have a constitution that protects his freedom much more online and they don`t have that. They have a dictatorship or quasi authoritarian system that can cut him off.

WATTS: These social media companies, if they want to keep global access, have to keep countries happy. China is a massive market. Russia is a big market that has amazing tech sector. If you want to keep your systems in play, you have to play to their rules. And so in terms of the piping, censorship, whatever it might be, they are actually bowing to authoritarians in some places, and then here, putting up a wall between, you know, the democratic --

MELBER: Have you heard from Facebook directly about this?

WATTS: No. I have heard -- no, that`s not true. I have gotten e-mails and some queries, received some updates at different time, but I mean, I still think they`re trying to solve it with their internal teams and what they really need to do is work with threat analysts.

MELBER: Well, you are out talking to Congress, you talk to journalists. If we could be constructive, if any Facebook folks want to come on and talk to you about this on THE BEAT, these are conversations that need to be had sooner rather than later. Clint, thank you for your work. We appreciate it, and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: They say that street is watching. And that`s because you never know when you might watch Billy on the Street. The famous comedian Billy Eichner is amazing. Tomorrow he will be on THE BEAT. Billy Eichner on THE BEAT, Billy on the Street I can`t wait. "HARDBALL" is next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Caught on camera. Let`s play HARDBALL.

END

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