Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 3, 2017 Guest: James Peterson, Billy Eichner, Kevin Liles, Renato Mariotti, Howard Dean, David Jolly, Evelyn Farkas
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC: We`ll be back Monday with more "MTP Daily". And tune in Sunday as we will mark the 70th anniversary of "Meet the Press."
THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. Ari, can you imagine if New York decided to go on a different time zone as us in Washington, DC?
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: It would be chaos. And I will tell you, I heard you use that term fall back. Every Friday, we do fallback Fridays on THE BEAT.
TODD: Look at that.
MELBER: We`ve got to get your nomination sometimes and we will be watching the clips you played earlier, the presidents that you and others in that great chair of interview. Fascinating. I`ll be watching on Sunday.
TODD: Thanks, brother.
MELBER: Thank you, Chuck.
It is Friday night after a week where Bob Mueller indicted three Trump aides and others testified before a grand jury.
And the breaking news is not a drill. The president of the United States is advocating the DOJ prosecute his political opponent. That would be illegal.
And that is where we begin tonight. President Trump`s first reaction to the indictment of his former aides earlier this week was to downplay their links to him.
Now, he is doing in public what Richard Nixon would only do in secret. He is openly musing about pushing the DOJ to investigate or prosecute political opponents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am really not involved with the Justice Department. I`d like to let it run itself. But, honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things and a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The president is not supposed to be involved in the Justice Department and presidents don`t have the power to individually prosecute. For good reason. That is really what authoritarian regimes do. That`s how, say, Russia works. Not how the American constitution works.
And while President Trump there is saying today that he can`t be involved with how the DOJ and the FBI build cases, he is also going on to do the opposite, to publicly advocate that they build cases against his opponent. He says he hopes they will and maybe he`ll have it out with them in that process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, the saddest thing is that because I`m the president of the United States, I`m not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I`m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I`m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing, and I am very frustrated by it.
I look at what`s happening with the Justice Department. Why aren`t they going after Hillary Clinton with her e-mails and with the dossier and the kind of money.
And, you know, it is very discouraging to me. I`ll be honest. I am very unhappy with it that the Justice Department isn`t going - now, maybe they are. But, you know, as president, and I think you understand this, as a president, you`re not supposed to be involved in that process.
But, hopefully, they are doing something. And at some point, maybe we`re going to all have it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is not normal. And if it is a part of an actual attempt to target opponents or obstruct justice, this is not legal.
Trump`s allies often say, well, look, don`t take him literally. All his campaign talk about locking up Hillary Clinton and his post-election talk about then not hurting her, it was all just talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: OK. Here`s one. Just came out. Lock her up is right.
Hillary Clinton - Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to run for the presidency.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.
TRUMP: Because you would be in jail.
I don`t want to hurt them. They`re good people. I don`t want to hurt them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He didn`t want to hurt them. Trump was legally wrong to make that claim you just heard in November when he was asked about prosecuting Clinton because the president does not have the power to obstruct a potential prosecution.
He was wrong to make the opposite claim now because the president does not have the power to order a prosecution.
This is not a drill. It is not mere talk. We are now living through a test. And while some in Congress have moved to protect Mueller, including some Republicans like Sen. Thom Tillis and Lyndsey Graham, the other news I bring you tonight shows why this is not just talk.
There are Republican lawmakers now pushing a new bill to ice out Bob Mueller. The plan is explicitly based on a conspiracy theory from Sean Hannity that argues because Bob Mueller served as an FBI director, he cannot be a prosecutor now.
Let me be clear. That theory has no basis in recusal law. We are reporting it for you tonight to note that it`s a political response to this week`s indictments. Not to suggest that it has any legitimacy as a legal recusal argument.
Now, as this whole machine is revving up against Mueller and other Trump aides, saying Jeff Sessions did hear and address that proposed plan for Trump to meet Putin, another aide saying he told Sessions he was going to Russia, but not part of the campaign.
All of this comes as we are witnessing a president under investigation this week, resisting and braying against laws that have always been bigger than any one person.
How the system responds, how Rod Rosenstein responds, how the Congress responds will all have significant implications.
With me now is Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor and a candidate for Illinois attorney general; Howard Dean, a former governor of Vermont and a DNC chair; and David Jolly, a former Republican congressman of Florida.
Congressman, I begin with you because these are your former colleagues and you spoke out this week asking for the opposite. Asking for action to explicitly protect Mueller and saying that certain types of actions against him would be, in your view, unconstitutional. Your reaction to all of this?
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FLORIDA: Yes. So, a couple of things. Go back to that first clip you had of Donald Trump. This was a man 12 months ago that it sounds like he`s just learning what the powers of the presidency include and exclude, which is a very dangerous place to be, right? Almost in the shadows of Watergate, if you will.
But if we look at the resolution introduced in the House today to, frankly, dismiss Bob Mueller, even though Sen. Graham and Sen. Tillis and the Senate have suggested they need a court to determine whether or not Mueller should be dismissed, what we`re seeing in the House among Republicans over and over is this empowerment of Donald Trump.
And it`s different than country over party. This is also the Article I authority that members of Congress have that they`re resigning over by suggesting we`re just going to continue to empower and be complicit with this presidency.
They`re not just putting party first. They`re putting the executive branch first when they have a higher oath to the constitution as an Article I member of Congress.
MELBER: Renato, your view as a former federal prosecutor about what Donald Trump outlined today.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Wow! It is absolutely scary. As a person who not only spent years in law enforcement, but just as an American, I mean, what we have is the president of the United States trying to destroy the independence of the Department of Justice and the FBI, publicly calling on them to investigate his political enemies. It`s a scary proposition.
Here we have, essentially resurrecting - we`re talking about a 2010 uranium deal that`s well beyond the statute of limitations. It was already investigated by the FBI and the case was closed.
MELBER: Let me be clear. And no disrespect to you because I know the point you`re making. But we`re not devoting time to the conspiracy theory here. I mean, I only mention it so people understand the political attacks that are going on.
But I`m only going to report on recusal arguments that have some basis and the notion that prior service as an FBI director is a basis for recusal unless you want to tell us otherwise. It`s not something I`ve ever seen in law.
MARIOTTI: No, that`s right. All of this is completely bogus. And I, frankly, just two minutes ago made the same point on Twitter that I`m making to you now. It is completely bogus.
And, frankly, this congressman who introduced this resolution should be embarrassed. He is an absolute embarrassment to himself and to his office.
He suggested, in that resolution, that Robert Mueller should step down because he headed the FBI at a time when a confidential informant was asked not to tell the public about the information he was telling the FBI.
I hate to break it to that congressman, but that`s standard and commonplace for the FBI when they`re dealing with a confidential informant. And he should have spoken to somebody in law enforcement before drafting a resolution that embarrasses himself and his office.
He is enabling people who are trying to destroy the independence of law enforcement through, frankly, a resolution that is based on a complete bogus falsehood, which is that the FBI director should not be permitting FBI agents to do their job. It`s a disgrace.
MELBER: And, Gov. Dean, we showed some of the interview questions. There is sometimes the issue of people saying, well, is the press just badgering the president into these conversations.
And here he is tweeting, people are angry, at some point the Justice Department, the FBI must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it. Part of, as you know, a string of proactive comments from the president on this.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: Well, I think they probably will do what`s right and proper, which is probably to indict Donald Trump, Donald, Jr., Jared Kushner and a whole lot of other people, including Mike Flynn. That`s what they`re going to do eventually through the special prosecutor.
Look, what you`re seeing here is a test of whether authoritarianism can survive in the United States. And so far, the answer is no, it cannot.
MELBER: And you`re saying, governor - you`re using that A word, authoritarianism, for what you perceive as Donald Trump`s intended goal here, that he would take political control of the prosecution process.
DEAN: Absolutely. Trump has no compunctions. He doesn`t care about Congress. He doesn`t care about the institutions of government. In fact, he doesn`t know anything about them. He just thinks he should be in charge. That`s his whole life MO.
He does not fit in the presidency or in government. Nor does he know anything about it.
So, the question is, how long is this going to go on? It`s going to go on until he leaves office under his own power or somebody else`s.
And that`s up to Mueller. We`ll see what else - Mueller is a very careful, thoughtful smart guy. He happens to be a Republican. But there are Republicans who are terrific. Most of them are much too afraid of Trump and Trump`s 35 percent of crazy people are behind him to stand up to them.
But there are Republicans who are doing the right thing and there are going to be more of them, especially if Trump falls below 30 percent, which I think is probably inevitable at this point. I do not think that more than about a third of Americans want to live in an authoritarian country.
MELBER: Right. I mean, Renato, Gov. Dean is referring to both the light and the darkness. The darkness is this incredible test, this incredible effort from the president of the United States which, obviously, takes time. It takes energy. It tests people in government.
These prosecutors, by the way, who have to build out these walls and do all this stuff, and you`re one of them, and I know this law enforcement community. If they`re spending time on this as an unearned, unnecessary trial from the president of the United States, they`re not working on their other cases. They`re not working on other investigative leads. This has a cost even if the president is not successful.
And then more widely, Renato, there is the light. The light is that, within the DOJ, there are career people who are non-partisan. And they, from our reporting, told Jeff Sessions that there was a real, clear reason for him to recuse from Russia. And he did. That`s the light. That`s the part of the system that`s working.
Here was Donald Trump`s previous response, which bears scrutiny today on that decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I don`t think I am doing that, but I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and I would have quite simply picked somebody else.
So, I think that`s a bad thing. Not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it is unfair to the presidency.
I`m very disappointed with the attorney general. But we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: To Renato.
MARIOTTI: Yes. I mean, he`s essentially mad in that clip at the attorney general for doing his job. For doing what he was told he ethically had to do.
And you talked, Ari, about all these people who are career folks in the Justice Department, many of whom are former colleagues of mine.
And what I will say is everyone in America wants to be able to trust that the individuals are exercising their discretion, because prosecutors have wide discretion, in law enforcement, are doing so for the right reason.
It`s the same way, when you go to the doctor, you want to believe that the doctor is not making a decision based on costs or based on who you are or where you`re from, but is making the right decision for your health. And the same thing here.
We want to be able to trust our judicial system and our law enforcement that they are making proper decisions based on the right reasons, not political reasons.
And what the president is trying to do is he`s trying to politicize our law enforcement process and he`s trying to take control of that and it is an extraordinarily dangerous thing. It`s demoralizing for the people in law enforcement. And all of the rest of us have to stand up and stand against that, frankly, to save the rule of law in our country.
MELBER: Important words at an important time. Renato Mariotti and Gov. Dean, thank you both. David, as you know, you will be our first former congressman in fallback Fridays later in the show.
JOLLY: You got it.
MELBER: So, tell your family.
Coming up, Trump`s amnesia defense. New comments about Russia`s contacts with its campaign revealed in documents we have from the Mueller processing.
And with Mueller closing in and Trump`s tax plan losing support, the West Wing in a panic. The one and only Lawrence O`Donnell here live on THE BEAT to break it down.
And later, my special Billy on the Street. Billy Eichner is on THE BEAT getting political. Even talking Trump.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: After this week in Washington, some are singing Warren Zevon`s classic rock song, "Bring Lawyers, Guns and Money." That`s the famous chorus. The lyrics also say, "how was I to know, she was with the Russians too."
Many Trump associates keep forgetting their knowledge or memories of who was with the Russians too. Jeff Sessions facing heat for denying talk of Russia meetings that now appear on the record. Same for President Trump.
Their denials rebutted by new filings indicating Trump aide George Papadopoulos explicitly said at a meeting with Sessions and Trump that he would arrange for potentially a Putin meeting with Trump.
Now, the adviser to the campaign, J.D. Gordon was there. Now, he says, "Trump listened with interest to that proposal."
But was Sessions maybe just tuned out? No, says Gordon in this new report. Sessions listened, he processed and then he vehemently opposed the Putin meeting. Sessions said no one should even talk about it. That`s how risky an idea it was.
Now, Jeff Sessions may have been wise to reject the Putin meeting, but then he said under oath he wasn`t aware of anyone ever proposing it and it never happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don`t believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians. Is that what you`re saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not and I`m not aware of anyone else that did. And I don`t believe it happened.
FRANKEN: And you don`t believe it now.
SESSIONS: I don`t believe -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is not the first time Sessions has done this. Some people have had enough.
Democrats want Sessions to return to Congress. Minority Leader Schumer says they`ve got to look at perjury.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: It was false under oath.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Yes.
MADDOW: And so -
SCHUMER: It`s serious stuff.
MADDOW: What`s the remedy? When an official like the attorney general -
SCHUMER: Perjury is a very careful standard. But it is something that would be looked at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: With me now, Evelyn Farkas, former deputy secretary of defense for Russia. Let`s start with the meeting part. Trump listened with interest. Sessions opposed. Would that be OK if they had all just told the truth about it?
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA/UKRAINE/EURASIA: Yes. I don`t think there`s anything wrong with showing interest.
President Trump, we know, had this sort of - I don`t know what - obsession or very favorable view of Vladimir Putin. We know that he wanted to meet him.
MELBER: I think the term - Evelyn, I think the term you`re looking for is suspicious courtship?
FARKAS: Perhaps. In any event, he probably was listening with a lot of interest. I think it`s interesting that Sessions - at the time Sen. Sessions, knew that this would be inappropriate. He probably knew that it wouldn`t necessarily be illegal for the candidate to meet with a president, but it would be inappropriate by all means. I mean, obviously, he`s a candidate and he shouldn`t be meeting with heads of state when you have a sitting president.
Technically, it could be misconstrued as interfering with the executive branch. But in any event, he knew that it was inappropriate -
MELBER: Pausing on that, you`re saying that it wouldn`t be at all illegal or automatically illegitimate, but even that was really weird, which is why Jeff Session, who already knew about the courtship, understood there was a public long-range exchange of positive commentary between these two men.
MELBER: He even understood that you don`t do adversarial meetings like that during the campaign.
FARKAS: Right, right. And this is still early days in the time line, Ari, because the meeting that Papadopoulos had was, I believe, April or so, or March maybe.
Then the meeting in the White House happens. I think it`s March again. You can correct me on the time line. There`s a little bit of time in between. And we know that it gets more intense in the summer because, June 9, is when you have the Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with the Russian lawyer and the crew in there, Manafort, et cetera.
And, of course, Sessions himself meets with Kislyak, although that also happens a little bit later.
So, at this point, Sessions is saying, let`s be cautious. This is probably not a good idea to go whole hog with the relationship with the Russians.
But, clearly, Papadopoulos knew that this would be of interest to President Trump because otherwise - at the time, candidate Trump - he would not have brought it up at the meeting.
MELBER: Well, he was just a coffee boy.
FARKAS: Right. A coffee boy does not get a seat at the table.
MELBER: What about J.D. Gordon. You`re a long time Russia hand, so you`ve been around these folks. Tell us about where he fits in.
FARKAS: Yes. And I know J.D. Gordon, Ari, just because he`s been kind of around town for a while working in the defense, national security circles. He`s had he some involvement in Central European issues.
So, he - to me - is a credible person. I know that he was engaged with the campaign. I know that he stayed on good terms with the Trump administration.
The fact that he`s going public, I find interesting. Clearly, he is going public. He probably has already spoken to law enforcement because, otherwise, why would he want to draw attention to himself?
MELBER: Right. That`s how you read it. He`s here in between. He`s in the blue tie that we have on the screen, between Jeff Sessions and George Papadopoulos, who was just a very lucky barista, as I mentioned. Donald Trump at the head of the table.
And he is here popping up saying this happened. You think that`s because he already told Mueller`s team.
FARKAS: Yes. And I think what he`s also trying to do is provide a little bit of cover for Attorney General Sessions. I think he is trying to say, it wasn`t a big deal. Except that it really - in and of itself, might not have been a big deal.
But what happened subsequently, when the Russians said I have dirt, when he said I`ll go to Russia. Now, we don`t know whether he went to Russia. We know then that Carter Page told Sessions in passing. That was a revelation that came out today, that, in passing, Carter Page told Attorney General Sessions I`m going to Russia. Apparently, according to him, Attorney General Sessions didn`t say anything. Who knows if that`s accurate.
In any event, there are many of these dots lining up. And you said in the opening to this, nine - well, you didn`t say the number, but it`s about nine individuals who are involved with the Trump campaign. Five of them are very senior. Kushner, Manafort, Donald, Jr.
MELBER: And that`s why it`s such a layered cake. Evelyn Farkas, appreciate your expertise as always.
FARKAS: Thank you very much, Ari.
MELBER: Ahead, Bob Mueller`s cat and mouse game, what the element of surprise means as a legal strategy.
But next, inside the West Wing, is it real? From revelations that have landed all week long. The one and only Lawrence O`Donnell is here on THE BEAT.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL: We`ve got notepads?
MELBER: We`ve got those notepads.
O`DONNELL: Can we get - we need "Last Word" notepads. Who do I talk to?
MELBER: Somebody call somebody. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: I didn`t know this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, at the stage of the Russia investigation story when the leaks of weeks ago are the proven facts of today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Legally, this was the worst week of the Trump presidency. Politically, Trump`s approval is at its worst place ever.
And now, I`m joined for analysis on this truly scandalous week by MSNBC`s Lawrence O`Donnell, who has had some truly memorable reporting every night this week, starting with news that broke Monday because that was the day Bob Mueller decided it would break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Robert Mueller got a guilty and that happened weeks ago. But we learned about it today. On the same day that Robert Mueller indicted Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates.
Bad news for President Trump who will be forced to withdraw the nomination of one of his favorite nominees for an undersecretary position. Now, that nominee has been reported to be cooperating with the special prosecutors` investigation of Donald Trump.
Utter chaos inside the Trump White House tonight. Jared Kushner is now Donald Trump`s biggest problem in the White House.
If Jeff Sessions was not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, when he testified under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Trump campaign`s contacts with Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Quite a week. Lawrence, what did we learn?
O`DONNELL: You`re kidding me. That was a week? That was a week?
MELBER: Just a week.
O`DONNELL: Wow. Well, I think the most important word of the week is still - it`s the word we began with, and that is guilty. That the very, very first case that Robert Mueller brings is already a guilty. And it has been a guilty for weeks by the time he reveals it.
I really have never seen a prosecution handled like that before. And, of course, he did that because there are so many moving parts of this prosecution. There are so many suspects beyond George Papadopoulos, the one he got a guilty on, in his first case, that he has reason to have kept that secret for as long as he did.
And the reason may well include people now incriminated in things via Papadopoulos that they didn`t know they were at risk for being incriminated by.
MELBER: And this goes to how Bob Mueller works. You`ve covered other politically-tinged investigations. Ken Starr was a different type of prosecutor. He was constantly leaking, which meant that his strategy was being telegraphed.
An interesting footnote, the only indictment that ever came out of Ken Starr`s office was a later indictment of his spokesperson for leaking grand jury material.
It seems to me like we`re looking at the exact opposite. And as you said on Monday that we learn about it only when this prosecutor, Bob Mueller, through the lawful process, decides we`re going to learn about it.
O`DONNELL: And there was a leak on the Friday before the Monday, saying the special prosecutor has indictments. That was the leak. No names.
Then over the weekend, the names start to emerge that the prosecutor has an indictment against Manafort.
What people have to know about the potential sourcing of that leak is the defense team is capable of leaking in this way too. And Paul Manafort and relatives of Paul Manafort, there`s a whole world of people on the defense side of this case who can leak information because the Special Prosecutor has basically told them. You know, your court day is going will be Monday.
And so there`s a lot of ways we could have discovered that. The Papadopoulos thing to me is the one that has to shake the President the most and actually has pushed him to the point where in the very same you know, fortnight where he`s claiming to have the greatest memory in the world, that greatest word for word memory of his phone call with that widow who lost her husband in action in Niger. He`s claiming my version of that phone call is right and hers is wrong because of my perfect memory. Today, he can`t remember what was said, who said what at the Papadopoulos meeting, cannot remember when he needs to remember.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Which would imply that if he had a story to tell, it`s worse than no story. There`s also a new report out today --
O`DONNELL: His history as a litigant, as an under oath witness, involves more I do not recall answers than you know, most entire trials have.
MELBER: Yes, we covered one during the campaign where he went to a deposition without his glasses. And then he said repeatedly at the deposition, I really -- I don`t have my glasses here so it`s hard for me to read anything. I want to read to you from a new report today from a source who claims innocence but is involved in being examined by the Special Counsel and says "it`s every man for himself."
O`DONNELL: Yes, and you know, that`s what you -- that`s what defense lawyers don`t want to hear. Defense lawyers who are sometimes dependent on each other in conspiracy cases, or in large group defendant possible cases, the more you`re hearing every man for himself, the more your particular client is at risk because you`re hearing about a kind of energy to save yourself. And Papadopoulos -- there`s -- there are people no doubt in this investigation who are jealous of Papadopoulos right now. Jealous because was the first one, the first one to get a guilty plea deal with this Prosecutor. Which means Papadopoulos might be the one who has the lightest deal.
O`DONNELL: Who has absolutely the lightest deal and won`t do a day of jail time because of it. And the prosecutor only has so many of those to give away.
MELBER: Sure. And that`s why it was fascinating when Jeff Sessions said under oath that he hasn`t been contacted by Mueller yet because Rod Rosenstein allegedly has and other people has. You wonder why are we waiting for that if you know sooner or later you`re going to get to him. My last question to you is we just spoke a lot about what`s in the investigation. That`s the law. Then there`s the politics or what might be against the law. You have a special on this tonight and Donald Trump going after DOJ.
O`DONNELL: Yes, well, a big surprise. His polling is at an all-time low. A President who was besieged by a criminal investigation of his campaign, a criminal investigation of his associates, of his family, a criminal investigation of him, of Donald Trump is polling at his all-time low and one of the all-time lows of Presidential polling. That in that sense, our politics is making sense, our politics is lining up. The reaction is ling up with what you`d expect it to be.
MELBER: Yes. Well we`ll be watching tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern and please take --
O`DONNELL: The big -- the big guest tonight?
MELBER: Is you.
O`DONNELL: And you might suspect this is --
MELBER: Oh, your big guest tonight. Tell me.
O`DONNELL: My big guest tonight, Pussy Riot, 10:00 p.m. --
O`DONNELL: -- at the last word, live, MSNBC. Pussy Riot comes from Moscow --
MELBER: From Moscow, sure?
O`DONNELL: -- to 30 Rock for the last word.
MELBER: I love music and I love some Russian music and take a pad, please sir. You want to know it passed.
O`DONNELL: All right I`ll take (INAUDIBLE)
MELBER: Laurence O`Donnell as always, thank you. ahead, Mueller`s covert moves. The Trump team didn`t know what guilty plea was coming, didn`t know what adviser talked to the Grand Jury. How key is the element of surprise in this disciplined investigation? And later --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY EICHNER, HOST, BILLY ON THE STREET: Miss, for a dollar, look who it is. The hottest star in the world right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God!
EICHNER: What`s his name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Evans.
EICHNER: No. Chris Pratt!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Billy On The Street joins THE BEAT. What Billy Eichner says about comedy in the Trump era ahead.
MELBER: Donald Trump must be wondering what`s coming next. This week was a dramatic demonstration of how Bob Mueller moves in silence. Every major move in this investigation has surprised the Trump world. The element of surprise can be a powerful investigative tool. Consider that pre-dawn raid of Manafort`s home July 26th. Reporters didn`t break the story for weeks. The next day, July 27th, Papadopoulos surprised to find FBI agents at Dulles Airport to arrest him, a theme that continued this Monday because Papadopoulos`s guilty plea was still under seal and the White House had no idea.
Fast forward to tonight. Headlines saying Mueller`s move has a current top adviser testifying, and that surprised campaign advisers and the White House. Joining me now is James Peterson, a Professor and Political Analyst form Lehigh University. Sir, we have come to you to explain the wider workings of a lot of political stories and Washington stories. And so I ask you not about what`s going on in the Grand Jury but about this way that Mueller keeps surprising Trump and really all of Washington.
JAMES PETERSON, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: Yes, Ari, it was. You know, Ari, a real bad boy`s move in silence. And while many of us were poised for Mueller Monday, around the Manafort indictment, we were thrown the loop around the Papadopoulos deal with the Mueller team. And what that allows the team to do is to prosecute its investigation in a way that is really, really sophisticated obviously at this point. It is a pretty sophisticated and complex investigation. But there are certain ways in which he`s very deliberate in keeping things close to the vest if you will. My sense is that the Papadopoulos piece is the biggest story out of that, right, because that`s the story that gets closer to Trump himself.
It`s more difficult for Trump and his administration to claim they`re completely unaware of the various contacts between members of the administration and various personnel in the Russia government or affiliated with Russia. That claim is very -- is much more difficult to make, Ari, with the Papadopoulos deal in place and without really having full knowledge of the deal in terms of what he`s -- what information he`s providing to Mueller`s the team. So it`s a complex piece but it`s smart lawyering. As you would know, you have a lawyer degree. It`s smart lawyering in terms of the investigation process.
MELBER: Well, yes. Well, you`re saying -- right, and you`re going to the fact that Donald Trump may move words around in all sorts of ways but it is harder to move facts around and you can`t move objects around unless you`re Houdini. I mean, this was Trump`s reaction and admitting surprise about that raid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was a very, very strong signal. You know, they do that very seldom so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it. I`ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What are you watching for next?
PETERSON: Well, I`m waiting for the next surprise. It`s interesting because I think you know, we`re kind of anticipating who might be next. I know there are a lot of folks wondering like where Flynn is, where Michael Flynn is in this investigation and whether or not there were other deals that the Mueller team has made. But I think it is hard to expect what we can`t expect, right? Like who knows where Mueller is in terms of the depth of this investigation at this point in time. I think the Manafort piece is not done, Ari, in the sense that it seems pretty clear that Manafort was in bed with some strange bedfellows in terms of Russian oligarchs and possibly Russian folks dealing in bad business.
PETERSON: And so the monetary piece of this is really, really interesting because maybe we`ll ultimately going to get access to tax returns, maybe even this President`s tax returns. There are lots of surprises to be had here, but make no mistake about it. Special Counsel Mueller is doing a deliberate and deeply involved investigation that that none of can predict at this point in time.
MELBER: Right, and you opened with the biggie line, moving in silence. We`ll close with the biggie line, don`t get high on your own supply. If you`re too close to the investigation and you think you know how it`s going to end, think again.
PETERSON: Ari, hip-hop has all the answers. Hip-hop has all the answers, Ari, all of them.
MELBER: That`s what I`ve been saying. Professor Peterson, have a great weekend. It`s always good to see you.
PETERSON: You to man.
MELBER: From the street to THE BEAT. Billy Eichner talking politics next.
MELBER: For a dollar, who is our next guest? Billy Eichner is here. Known for the truly zany Billy on the street game show which pairs the popular comedian with celebrities, writers, and even the occasional Obama family member to compete in ridiculous situations. The formula, celebrity plus startled passerby equals comedy gold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EICHNER: This is a game I like to call, what does Katy Perry`s cat care about? And oh, wait. We go.
Miss, for a dollar, would you have sex with Paul Rudd? That`s Paul Rudd!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course I would.
EICHNER: Yes, thank you. Here`s a dollar.
Miss, for a dollar, look who it is. The hottest star right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God.
EICHNER: What`s his name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 4
EICHNER: No! Chris Pratt!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh no!
EICHNER: One more Latino. You lose! Tina Fey finally failed at something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Billy credit for pioneering style of comedy all his own. The New Yorker notes that Eichner managed to confront fame`s magnitude and its inconsequence making him the ultimate New Yorker. He even honed his craft on Michelle Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EICHNER: And away we go. Which is better, Arianna Grande or eating a carrot? FLOTUS.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Eating a carrot.
EICHNER: Yes, correct. FLOTUS gets the point.
I`m just wondering, you know, you come home from a long day. You and your husband have such busy lives, to say the least.
OBAMA: It`s really busy.
EICHNER: It`s very busy, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It`s very busy. His latest project though fuses politics and culture appearing in an American Horror Story taking on the Trump era. I`m joined now by Billy on the Street Host and the star of American Horror Story Cult, Billy Eichner. Thanks for being here.
EICHNER: Thank you. I`m not the star of American Horror Story, I`m one of the actors on it.
MELBER: This is the news. And we said you`re the star, so now you`re the star.
EICHNER: OK, great. If that`s how it works for you today.
MELBER: I`m going right to a clip of you talking to NBC`s Seth Meyers about this because it turns out there`s a Trump link here. Take a listen.
SETH MEYERS, MSNBC HOST: Is it true? I`ve heard that this is about the 2016 election.
EICHNER: It is -- I`m not allowed to say anything. I am sworn to secrecy but yes, it is inspired by the -- it is inspired -- don`t. It is inspired by the election. It starts right after -- it starts on election night and then you see the fallout from that and it is a gory, fantasy, violent, sexual, surreal take on post-Trump America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What is Trumpian about this?
EICHNER: American Horror Story? Clearly, you haven`t been watching, Ari. It basically revolves around Sarah Paulson`s character and this panic that sets in after the election. And you`ll find out she told her partner played by Alison Pill that she was going to vote for Hillary Clinton and it turns out she made protest vote thinking Hillary was going to win and voted for Jill Stein. That leads to like their whole relationship blowing up.
MELBER: What about Russian meddling, do you have that in there?
EICHNER: Maybe there`s stuff about Russia. There`s a lot in there.
MELBER: You know who tweets about Russia?
EICHNER: Who`s that?
EICHNER: Sometimes yes.
MELBER: You tweeted, could it be any more obvious that Trump is colluding with Russia? I`ve seen harder to solve mysteries on castle.
EICHNER: That`s right. That`s a good Billy Eichner delivery.
EICHNER: (INAUDIBLE) Castle! You did it. I`m like turning into Regis Philbin.
MELBER: You`re a smart guy and you follow story lines. I mean, that`s plot. And when did this plot look to you as you put it here, that Russia collusion in your view is happening?
EICHNER: The minute Trump said that there`s no collusion. That`s what tells me there`s collusion. He`s an idiot. He`s so obvious. You know, people are like he`s a master manipulator. No, he`s not. Please. He couldn`t even convince Dionne Warwick to man a cash register on Celebrity Apprentice. I mean, I remember the good old days. He`s a terrible, corrupt, misogynous, racist person.
MELBER: Do you always steal your political analyst from Meryl Streep.
EICHNER: I`ve stolen everything from Meryl Streep. There are worst people to steal from, you know. I steal from anyone, Greg (INAUDIBLE), Julianne Moore.
MELBER: You mentioned Julianne Moore, it is one of my favorite Billy On The Streets.
EICHNER: Ah, yes.
MELBER: There are people who know your show but there are a lot more people who don`t know your show. Fact.
EICHNER: Oh, thanks, Ari. Sounds a lot like your show.
MELBER: So --
EICHNER: Trusted me. I wanted to do Maddow. I wasn`t asked.
MELBER: It`s only a few floors away, we can look into that.
EICHNER: A few floors but so far away. So far.
MELBER: I agree.
EICHNER: So far, Ari.
MELBER: Hey, this is nothing close the Rachel here but for people who haven`t seen your show which is truly hilarious.
EICHNER: Thank you.
MELBER: It`s creative, it`s inventive. You go out, you do this stuff in the street, you do it all over New York, Times Square. Here you are with Julianne Moore. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EICHNER: Now, I`m not a big fan of Spiderman, but I do love actresses. So today I brought out one of my favorite characters, the one, and only Julianne Moore. And we`re going to try to get people to take photos and tip Julianne Moore instead of Spiderman and Elsa and all the other characters out here. She`s crying, please. She needs your -- hug her. Hug her. Yes! Yes! Exactly! Yes! It`s Julianne Moore and she`s crying on command. Comfort her in her hour of need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EICHNER: She`s so good.
MELBER: How do you make this work? Do you worry about it not working?
EICHNER: Always worry about it not working. And it`s a completely improvised show. There`s always a conceit. You know, we have a concept, of course, behind the game that we`re going to play or the bit we`re going to do. But from that point on, we hit the street, we don`t know what`s going to happen. We don`t pick the people, the celebrity doesn`t know what`s going to happen. I don`t know what`s going to happen. And we just cross our fingers, you know.
MELBER: Where did For A Dollar come from?
EICHNER: For A Dollar, I thought that it would be funny to do a game show where people won or lost depending on whether or not they agreed with the host`s opinion.
MELBER: Well, and doesn`t America need a post-modern game show that`s socially harassing?
EICHNER: I`m really checking a lot of boxes with it.
MELBER: Can we -- can we play a little or a dollar?
EICHNER: Yes, I`d be honored.
MELBER: We`ll do politics obviously. You`re here. For A Dollar, name a Trump cabinet member?
EICHNER: Ben Carson.
MELBER: And for a dollar, define collusion?
EICHNER: Oh, God, it`s when you collude.
MELBER: Well, you know what they say? Jay-Z always says the street is watching.
EICHNER: Yes, he does, doesn`t? He does, Ari. Glad you brought that up.
MELBER: Do you want to -- do you want to end on a slow handshake?
EICHNER: Very slow.
MELBER: Real slow.
EICHNER: Very, very slow.
MELBER: Like almost you want it to end.
EICHNER: That is true. Where`s Lawrence O`Donnell? Is he going to come down?
MELBER: He`s near here too. And he love Lawrence. You want to meet Lawrence?
EICHNER: I mean for like a second. I want to spend the whole night gabbing with him.
MELBER: Billy Eichner is the star of American Horror Story.
EICHNER: I`m not -- OK, fine.
MELBER: And Billy on the street. Thank you for being here.
EICHNER: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: That was fun. We`ll go looking for Lawrence. Up next is "FALLBACK FRIDAY," and you`ll never believe who`s on the list.
MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT. You know what that means. It is time to fall back. Let me introduce our great guests. Back with us is former Republican Congressman David Jolly, the Washington Post Eugene Scott, and 300 Entertainment CEO Kevin Liles, a former President of Def Jam Records. He`s worked with Jay-Z, Mariah Carey and many more. Starting with you, Kevin, who needs to fall back?
KEVIN LILES, CEO, 300 ENTERTAINMENT: This week, I think it`s Bob McNair, the owner of the Houston Texans. You know, my problem with his -- with his comments -- his statement was more of a warning you know, and that word of not an owner. And when you talk about the players were human beings where every day they go out and risk their lives. I think he should (INAUDIBLE) a little bit more. You know -- but I need his actions to now speak louder than his words. But know his actions actually redefine his words because he actually traded a player who had constructive criticism this week to wait.
MELBER: Right. And that goes to sort of how you -- how you manage a company and how you relate to your community.
LILES: Absolutely. Businessman to businessman, Bob, do me a favor. Please love your players.
MELBER: Eugene, who needs to fall back? Congressman David Jolly, I`m told Eugene is having technical difficulties. His earpiece has apparently has fallen back.
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER CONGRESSMAN, FLORIDA: Fallen off.
MELBER: Congressman, who needs to fall back.
JOLLY: Donald Trump Jr. for using his three-year-old daughter in a Halloween tweet about socialism. Listen, this is a man born on third base to a father born on third base and gave birth, I`m sure his wife lovingly to a daughter born on third base as well. But they sent their daughter out with an empty candy bucket like every good parent does on Halloween to ask people with more candy to give her free candy. It`s in the U.S. what we call Halloween, but in economic terms, it`s what you call the redistribution of candy wealth. And Donald Trump Jr. used it to condemn the left with a tweet about socialism. Listen, I hope Chloe had a wonderful Halloween and has a wonderful holiday. But for her father, he has earned very well a "FALLBACK FRIDAY."
MELBER: I think that`s worth falling back. I have a big sweet tooth. I think candy is also sort of sacred. So, you know, let the candy and the politics just sort of live on and let`s let the kids grow up and make up their own mind. Mine is actually also Twitter-related, but this is our first historic fall forward for the person working with Twitter who deactivated the President`s account. David, I saw what you tweeted. You said, got to say the employee at Twitter who shut off Trump`s account for 11 minutes could be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Congressman, as you know --
JOLLY: They could have staved off nuclear war with North Korea in those 11 minutes.
JOLLY: That`s exactly right. That`s exactly right. Listen, we all owe a debt of gratitude to that disgruntled employee tonight.
MELBER: Kevin, what did you think about that because it was -- it is sort of amazing the special treatment, if you want to call that, that the President gets. His former aide, Roger Stone, was suspended from Twitter for bad words and bad behavior on their because they do have some lines. But they don`t usually apply to the President for whatever reason.
LILES: Listen, I`m starting a campaign, #bantrumpfromtwitter. And to the Twitter employee who actually did it, if you need a job, come to 300 Entertainment. I love people speaking their mind and taking action.
MELBER: You`re saying that person can come work for you.
LILES: Come work for me tomorrow.
MELBER: OK, and if they want to stay anonymous, they can e-mail us and we will introduce you to Kevin. We`re not be making some news. For those of you who watch the show, you guys have been sending your Fallback nominations. I want to get to some. Elizabeth says Rick Perry needs to fall back for saying fossil fuels could prevent sexual assault. Another viewer (INAUDIBLE) picks Ivanka Trump for the Tokyo speech saying it was riddled with irony. Perhaps she should lecture her own father who she referred to as "daddy." And Sheryl wants everyone who`s already playing Christmas music to fall back. Some of the staff on THE BEAT, I want to tell you, agreed.
Finally, Andy Kindler, the famous Simpsons Writer says the clocks need to fall back. And yes, we`re all falling back this weekend, Andy. Thank you for that very topical joke. If you`ve seen Andy on the show, you know his jokes are always OK. Kevin, Congressman, and Eugene Scott who`s earpiece fell back, we`ll get you next time. Thank you all. That`s the show. "HARDBALL" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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