Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 8, 2017 Guest: Alexander Vershbow, Katty Kay, Tony Schwartz, Jefrey Pollock, Chaitanya Komanduri
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily". THE BEAT, though, with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much. We will keep our helmets handy as well.
TODD: Yes, all right.
MELBER: Democrats sweeping these first statewide races since 2016 and the political aftermath here raises three questions we have tonight.
One, was this a rejection of Trump? Two, does this mean Dems can take back the House? And if they do, will that make Trump`s life harder on Russia?
The first two questions are just up for debate. The third is not. Because it is now a political legal fact that Democrats taking the House would hand a powerful subpoena power to those Democrats.
Today, Republicans control those subpoenas on the Russia investigation. If Democrats win, and they sure won last night, then no matter what happens to those bipartisan investigations, or the Mueller probe, or even the hypothetical talk of pardons, no matter what, if they win this House race, going into next year, then you`d have Democrats like Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings getting the legal authority to launch their own new probes to compel documents, to compel evidence, to force testimony from any lawful witness, including people in the Trump White House.
Now, the politics of that potential development are open questions. Tonight, though, we can tell you, as I`ve bet you`ve heard by now, there are strategists in both parties, completely recalculating their maps for the 2018 mid-terms, interpreting what was, by any estimation, a broad sweep.
Dems taking governorships in New Jersey and Virginia where NBC`s Mark Murray notes the win was largest win for Dems since 1985. Taking control of the state Senate in Washington, taking two state legislative seats in Georgia, and beating some incumbent Republican mayors.
One out of five Virginia voters made their decisions in this last week. That is, of course, the same time as the first indictments were handed down of Trump`s aides.
Donald trump responding by arguing the candidates were not Trumpy enough. Republicans on the ground, though, say this was a referendum on him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: I think it was a referendum on him and the division and the divisive rhetoric that`s in the country right now. I think it`s important for Republicans to self-reflect, all the way - start from the top, all the way down. I do think it was a referendum on the national policies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it a referendum on Donald Trump?
TAYLOR: I do believe so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Let`s get right to it. I`m joined by NBC`s senior political editor Mark Murray, a guest we need at times like this; "BBC World News America`s" Katty Kay, who covered the Virginia race from Richmond just last night; as well as Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist who has worked on the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
Mark, let`s start with you. Just on the numbers, just the facts, which is what you do, what happened last night? And how broad was it for Democrats?
MARK MURRAY, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Ari, last night was just a sign that the political winds are at the Democrats` backs right now.
As you mentioned, one, there is a definite Trump factor, at least that played out in Virginia and New Jersey last night, according to the exit polls.
And so, we saw that voters who went to vote, 40 percent approved of President Trump`s job performance. That`s not good if you are the party in control of the White House.
And more importantly, half the voters said that President Trump was a factor in their vote in Virginia. And those voters broke 2 to 1 in opposition of President Trump.
And so, you can end up saying that Democrats were more motivated. They used Trump as a motivating force and then also they turned out in droves, particularly in a lot of the urban suburbs in Northern Virginia, but also in suburbs around Richmond, Virginia, which had one point been either a swing part of the state or even a bastion for Republicans.
And so, you add those things up together, and last night was a good night for Democrats. But it doesn`t necessarily mean that they are going to take back the House of Representatives next year.
On the one hand, you have to look at the fact that Virginia isn`t the same type of turf that it`s going to play out in many mid-term congressional races across the country, be it in the Kansas City suburbs or places like Iowa. Northern Virginia has become more and more Democratic.
And the other thing worth noting for all viewers is that, last night, Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate, won by 9 points. But Democratic house of the delegate races was almost even. And it`s still up for grabs, whether the Democrats are going to get power over the house of delegates. That`s a huge upset. But still, it took democrats to win a race by 9 points to even almost get a 50-50 tie due to re-sorting and also gerrymandering.
So, Ari, the big lesson is Democrats could have a really big night in 2018, but still also fall a couple of seats short of taking back the House of Representatives.
MELBER: You make such a great point digging into that. As we`ve reported, Barack Obama and Eric Holder have made those gerrymandering issues their priority here in the post-administration period.
Jamal, we`re also seeing new characters. I mean, if you`re not a politics junky, you might not know every candidate across the country, but you probably heard of Chris Christie and Tim Kaine by now, right?
I want to play some sound from these new people. Alicia Keys used to say, you don`t my name, and she couldn`t get the guy in the coffee shop to like her if he didn`t even know her name. These are names we`re going to be learning.
The democrats putting out new names here in Virginia and New Jersey last night. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALPH NORTHAM (D), GOVERNOR-ELECT OF VIRGINIA: Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness that we will not condone hatred and bigotry. And to end the politics that have torn this country apart.
PHIL MURPHY (D), GOVERNOR-ELECT OF NEW JERSEY: Tonight, we declare the days of division are over. We will move forward together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy, we`re going to be hearing more from them, Jamal? We probably will hear a little bit more from them, but let`s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
We`ve got 2018 coming up. And so, I think we`re going to see a lot of Democrats who are going to get in this race for 2018. I think you mentioned someday Republicans who drop out, who go home for Thanksgiving, have a little turkey and decide, you know what, it`s pretty nice around here.
Not just the 2018 cycle, but you`ve got to think, if you`re a Republican, 2020 is going to be worse than 2018 because Trump is on the ballot and there will be no way to run away from him. So, we`ve got to be - if you`re a Republican, you`re really worried about that.
I think - one more point. Last night, women really made their stand last night. And that`s a place where, in the 2016 election, Democrats, a lot of Democrats raise their hand, particularly about white women who didn`t show up for Hillary as much as they wanted, but last night, I think, they upped that number by about 7 percent or 8 percent for Ralph Northam. So that mattered.
And even in places like Atlanta where Keisha Bottoms came in first for mayor. And you`ve got - even at Charlotte, there`s a mayor`s race. There`s a bunch of places around the country where we saw women really surge yesterday.
MELBER: Katty, what did you see?
KATTY KAY, BBC HOST, "BBC WORLD NEWS AMERICA": It was such an interesting race because I went to see Ed Gillespie the night before the election. He is actually a very impressive candidate.
I mean, you heard Ralph Northam there. He`s not exactly going to set the world on fire, is he? And he had run a pretty weak campaign. He had flip- flopped totally unnecessarily on the issue of sanctuary cities. So, that made the Democrats` victory even more of a surprise.
And, for me, the real story of yesterday was how much better their turnout operation was. The Democrats spent a lot of money, particularly in those northern suburbs, on turnout and it paid off. They got people to the polls.
The anti-Trump feeling mattered, but getting - translating that into wins was a structural issue for the Democrats. And that`s I think - I think that was the story of Virginia in many ways.
SIMMONS: Ari, just on that point, I think that`s true. But I think there`s something about the resistance that is real. And for the Democrats, we have to be careful because it`s little bit like an unguided missile.
I don`t think that the Democratic Party is guiding that energy so much as much as it`s coming from outside the party and the party is benefiting.
MELBER: And, Katty, what about all the emphasis on division that we are hearing from Democrats? They are trying to rile that up for own side.
KAY: Yes. I mean, let`s be honest about the Virginia race. There were pretty divisive ads that ran on Northam`s side, too. There was one particularly culturally divisive ad about immigrant kids that was running by an outside group albeit, but it did have to be taken down.
So, I think Virginians must have been so happy that this election was over because the ads were pretty terrible on both sides of the aisle.
But I think that Republicans would come away from looking at Virginia and saying, OK, we had an option which was to run hard on Trumpism, hard on culturally divisive issues, hard on racial issues, hard on immigration and crime, that didn`t work for Ed Gillespie. Maybe we now need to recalibrate.
MELBER: And I`m going to turn now to one of those winners from last night. So, Katty and Mark, thanks for your analysis. Jamal, hang with me.
Election night included Seattle electing its first mayor who was gay, a lesbian there, and the first since 1920 that`s a female in that election. Virginia also electing the first openly transgender state lawmaker. New Jersey has a new Sikh mayor, the first in the state.
Charlotte, North Carolina electing its first female African-American mayor, Vi Lyles. And Mayor-Elect Lyles joins me now. She defeated her Republican challenger by double digits.
First, let me say congratulations.
VI LYLES (D), MAYOR-ELECT OF CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you very much.
MELBER: And now - sometimes we ask tough questions in the press. I have an easy one for you. Why did you win last night in your view?
LYLES: My view is that people in Charlotte were really looking for a way to connect to the issues around good paying jobs, affordable housing and trust in law enforcement.
We`ve had a protest here after the Keith Lamont Scott shooting and we had to heal from that. And people wanted a leader that was positive and optimistic about the future and saw that we could be better than what we have been in the past.
MELBER: When you look at those issues of policing, police brutality, how the justice system works, they seem to get sometimes less national attention. But, as I don`t have to tell you, you bring it up. These are big issues in a lot of cities. How did you thread that needle and how did you speak to communities concerned about discrimination, while speaking to officers and the rest of the police force?
LYLES: What I had to do was find that place that everyone found that they could build around the issue of trust. And when we talk about community policing, that`s what officers want to do and that`s what our neighbors want them to do.
So, I often say, I want a police officer to be able to knock on your door and that you don`t fear them, but you trust them enough to open the door and talk about the issues going on.
MELBER: And mayor-elect, we`ve heard a lot about Donald Trump. Would you say that his presence here, this one year, we`re on the anniversary of his election, was a net gain for you? A net loss for your campaign? Or didn`t make any difference down there?
LYLES: What makes a difference Charlotte right now is that we need better paying jobs. And not only do I want to be the first African-American female mayor, but I want to be a jobs mayor. And that`s what we`re focused on here.
MELBER: Mayor-elect, thank you very much for joining me.
LYLES: Thank you.
MELBER: We`d like to get the perspective from the field. I want to bring back Jamal to broaden this because you have run Democratic campaigns on the winning and losing side.
SIMMONS: You had to bring up the losers, right?
MELBER: Well, that`s real talk. You know. I just spoke to a winner, as they say. You heard her on the Trump answer. Not really wanting to get into it. But what do you think was key for the different ways Democrats won last night? And anything you want to say about the mayor-elect as well?
SIMMONS: Yes. I think what we saw yesterday is a couple of things. One, we did see this energy. We saw investment from the Democratic Party, but that might get you a point or two in turnout. Getting the 8 points, 9 points, that`s a huge jump. And I think that`s the energy of the kind of the Trump resistance.
At the same time, though, Ralph Northam, the governor, he actually talked a lot about important issues to people in the state. Talked about healthcare, he talked about education.
So, when we talk about a contrast, he gave people a contrast not just to the negativity, but also of what he wanted to do for them in the state.
MELBER: Issues. I mean, it is so fascinating, so obvious, but sometimes the truth is obvious. Issues, healthcare, policing, jobs. I mean, this is what we`re hearing from people who are actually out there doing some of the work.
Jamal Simmons, thanks for joining.
SIMMONS: One more thing, Ari. They also ran candidates up and down the ballot on all of the state legislative races. Democrats have got to keep running candidates all over the place because I think those candidates drive turn out in their districts, as well as the governor helping to bring some of those candidates along.
MELBER: Jamal Simmons, thank you as always, a man who has been there and done that.
Coming up, why are trump Aides suddenly remembering Russia details they said they`d forgotten? We`re going to look at Bob Mueller and his way of cracking the amnesia defense.
Also, this is interesting, and discussed this - we were just talking about with Jamal. Obamacare back. New data shows Trump`s effort to derail the law may actually have helped Democrats win last night. We`ll explain.
Also, many expecting an emotional response from Donald Trump for these losses. I have a very special guest, the man who co-authored "The Art of the Deal", but has had a big break with Donald Trump. That`s later tonight.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, he`s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping. We`ve got to name this condition that he`s going through. I think it`s called Romnesia. That`s what it`s called.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A sick burn from simpler times. Romnesia was Dr. Obama`s diagnosis of Mitt Romney`s apparent ability to remember things that were hurting his campaign.
Now, some Trump aides seem to have their own Romnesia about Russia, but it looks there is a cure, folks. It`s the Mueller investigation.
Consider how Corey Lewandowski couldn`t even remember who Carter Page was in March.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I don`t know who Carter Page is. I never had a conversation with Carter Page. I never met Carter Page. And he had no former role in the campaign. He had no role whatsoever in the campaign. He had nothing to do with the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Lewandowski did not remember Page. Instead, he did not grant permission for him to take a Russia trip.
Fast forward to this week, as Page`s shows, while he also has some Romnesia, forgetting the specifics. Page says he did tell Lewandowski about the trip. And in that same testimony, Page would not rule out that he`s talking to Bob Mueller`s team. And voila! Lewandowski`s Romnesia is cured.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWANDOWSKI: To the best of my recollection, I don`t know Carter Page. My memory has been refreshed. And so, when a low-level volunteer decides that they want to take a trip overseas and doesn`t report to me or work for the organization, what jurisdiction would I potentially have of telling him or her they can or could not travel overseas.
All I was clear about was, if you`re going to travel, please do not pretend to be part of the campaign and say that you are part of the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: His memory has been refreshed. Jeff Sessions` memory also left him with no knowledge about Russia contacts in October.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.
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?
SESSIONS: I did not and I`m not aware of anyone else that did. I have not seen anything that would indicate a collusion with Russians to impact the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But Sessions was at the March meeting where Papadopoulos pitched that meeting between Trump and Putin. And now he`s also cured, saying he does remember it and he rejected the proposal.
And then, there`s Carter Page himself. Or as Chris Hayes dubbed him last night, The Carter. Last week, he was still forgetting his official meetings in Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Again, I had no meetings, no serious discussions with anyone high up or at any official capacity.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Let me ask you this.
PAGE: This is just kind of man on the street, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Man on the street. Not true. Pressed by Russia investigators, he remembered he did meet with Putin`s deputy prime minister for a private conversation and remembered meeting with a high profile Russian energy official to boot, a meeting mentioned in the Steele dossier, although the dossier did not name the correct official.
And then, there`s our forgotten coffee boy. New reports that in the heat of the general election, George Papadopoulos himself represented Trump at a British government meeting. This was September.
Trump doesn`t remember that. Or the march meeting with Sessions and Papadopoulos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. It took place a long time. I don`t remember much about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And maybe he doesn`t. Or maybe his memory could also too be refreshed by investigators` questions down the road. As Mark Twain said, if you tell the truth, you don`t have to remember anything.
With me now, former US attorney in Michigan, Barbara McQuade; and a former federal prosecutor, Cynthia Alksne.
Barbara, the memories. They`re coming back.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER US ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN: Yes. It`s very interesting to see. I think what we have going on here is, when it`s convenient, people are quick to say, I don`t remember, I didn`t know what happened.
But when you realize that someone might have copies of your e-mails, or as we`ve heard about reported FISA intercepts, recorded conversations, recorded statements, once you know that somebody might have evidence that contradicts your statements, sometimes people do remember. And they know that they`re going to be held accountable, and so they want to get a chance now to explain their side of the story.
MELBER: And, Cynthia, that makes some sense. And we know how that works. How do you differentiate between being refreshed - I`ve said on air and I`ll say it again. Corey Lewandowski`s argument that he had hundreds of e- mails on a lean-staffed campaign and didn`t remember a particular single one could be plausible. In fairness, witnesses do forget things.
How do you as a prosecutor separate that from this as an excuse, from the more sinister Romnesia, if you will.
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you have to look at it. You have to look at the whole picture. Because if you look at it in a vacuum, it makes sense that he would forget. This is the day before he`s fired. He probably gets thousands of e-mails.
This Carter Page guy, he`s a little weird. And he`s walking around the campaign headquarters.
MELBER: Is that a legal term?
ALKSNE: It`s a gut level decision. It`s a gut term that you use when you`re trying to figure out what really happened. And do you believe this guy.
MELBER: Since you bring it up - because I was talking to Chris Hayes about this last night who spent time with him. How weird do you think he is? Because at a certain point too weird means less credible in the eyes of a jury as a legal matter.
ALKSNE: I think he`s too weird.
MELBER: Too weird?
ALKSNE: I do. I do not think (INAUDIBLE 1:53) based on him.
ALKSNE: Barbara, briefly, too weird as well?
MCQUADE: Well, I don`t want to get into a discussion of this legal term weird. But, certainly, you assess witnesses and their believability to juries. Carter Page would have some issues. Even George Papadopoulos has some issues because he`s an admitted liar. And so, those are all the things that you consider in deciding whether somebody makes a good witness.
But you can often bolster a witness who might have some credibility problems if you can have objective evidence to corroborate their story. So, if e-mails support the story or recorded conversations support the story, then it doesn`t matter if the witness is a little, to use your term, weird.
MELBER: Cynthia? Go ahead.
ALKSNE: Well, for example, Papadopoulos says he was in this meeting with Sessions. There was a photograph that supports with Sessions and Trump, a photograph supports it. Also, there are witnesses in the room.
This guy J.D. Gordon says not only was he in the meeting, he brought up Russia, Trump listened intently, Sessions responded vehemently. Not only to, we`re not going to do that, but he told everybody to be quiet about it. This J.D. Gordon remembered almost every detail that he had a friend in London. That supports what Papadopoulos says. And that`s what you`re going to have to have with Carter Page because he`s - the only mystery about Carter Page is why he continues to talk to people. I find it completely confusing.
But you would never base an indictment on Carter Page`s word alone. Everything, every little tiny detail must be corroborated and much of it can be.
MELBER: Right. And so, that`s part of what investigators do, is they have their obligation to the facts and not just running down any lead that might seem incriminating. So, that`s the investigation side.
Then there is the countervailing pressure. We have to make decisions about what and when we cover things.
I`m about to play a clip from the House floor. As you both know as prosecutors, there has been no public evidence suggesting what we would call a legal conflict of interest for Bob Mueller. The fact that he served as FBI director generally seen as a plus factor.
So, I play this clip not to give heat to a conspiracy theory, but on the political side to show some of what we`re seeing - this is breaking into our newsroom. A House Republican going after Mueller. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: We are at risk of a coup d`etat in this country if we allow an unaccountable person with no oversight to undermine the duly elected president of the United States. And I would offer that is precisely what is happening right now with the indisputable conflicts of interest that are present with Mr. Mueller and others at the Department of Justice.
I join my colleague, the gentleman from Arizona, in calling for Mr. Mueller`s resignation or his firing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Cynthia, have you seen any public evidence of what the congressman there calls indisputable conflicts.
ALKSNE: I have not seen it. It`s not surprising to me that he was given time to speak when there`s nobody else in the room to listen.
And Bob Mueller is one of the most honorable people I have ever known or worked with. And it is outrageous that these people go on and on and abuse him. I just - it disgusts me.
Cynthia and Barbara, as always, we appreciate your expertise and your candor. Thanks for joining tonight.
MCQUADE: Thanks a lot, Ari.
MELBER: Up next, we have new reporting on the Russians pulling potentially a fast one at the Republican Convention. It`s becoming a focus of the Russia probe as well.
And later, an interview I`m very excited about. The man who co-authored "The Art of The Deal", Tony Schwartz, is live here for an exclusive on THE BEAT tonight. I`m going to explain what he`s saying about Trump and why he`s donating to immigrant groups.
And later, what was going on with Obama today? We`ll explain up ahead.
MELBER: It was exactly a year ago today Americans went to the polls and more of them chose Hillary Clinton. A smaller number chose Donald Trump. A popular vote loss that appears to continue to sting him even though he won the more important contest among the states for the electoral college.
Now, if trump had lost, which many expected, would Russia have ever gotten anything for all their meddling? Investigators now think the answer is still yes.
Even with a loss, Russia did get a gift during the campaign when Trump aides changed the GOP platform to help Russia. Investigators are probing that change and they`re interviewing a Trump aide who admitted the campaign made it.
Others say they are bracing to hear from Mueller`s team. The platform is usually a rallying point because the nominee controls it. When the RNC approved it, in fact, many touted a Reaganesque document.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MARY FALLIN, RNC PLATFORM COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR: We are creating a winning conservative platform. I have seen how the process works. I have compared it to our Democrat colleagues. Ours was open. It was a bottom-up process, with participation of 112 committed delegates.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, RNC PLATFORM COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It harkens back to the world of 1980 when an equally discredited presidency was called to account. Our response then was a Republican platform which told the truth.
We do the same today with the same unity and the same courage shown by those, who some 36 years ago made the Reagan platform a manifesto of liberty and opportunity for everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Reagan not known for going soft on Russia. And delegates involved told us the Russian language came from the top of the Trump campaign. As for that "open process," there are reports that records for the meeting are disappearing. One thing we do know is that was not technically confirmed at the time. Paul Manafort was previously hiding his work as an agent of the very foreign power impacted by the platform change. He was pressed about it at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s been some controversy about something in the Republican Party platform that essentially changed the Republican Party`s views when it comes to Ukraine. How much influence did you have on changing that language, Sir?
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I had none.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody on the platform committee said it came from the Trump Campaign. If not you, who?
MANAFORT: It absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign. There`s nobody that was on the platform --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So nobody from the Trump campaign wanted that change in the platform?
MANAFORT: No one. Zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The problem with that, I don`t know, call it T.V. testimony is that it`s contradicted by real testimony from several other people now. And they, unlike Paul Manafort, have not been indicted. I`m joined now by Alexander Vershbow. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia in the Bush administration. He`s at the Atlantic Counsel now. And back with us, Katty Kay. Mr. Ambassador, a lot of geopolitics here was this something that was helpful to Putin and how unusual was in it your view?
ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: It was definitely helpful to Putin. It was a very positive signal from the Russian point of view because it changed what was a traditional Republican policy since the invasion of Ukraine of supporting, arming the Ukrainians. Obama had been sharply criticized by the whole Republican leadership and many Democrats as well for not helping the Ukrainians defend themselves if we weren`t going to actually intervene on their behalf. So this was a gift from Putin in the sense that he could hope that if Trump were elected, the U.S. would back away from its support for Ukraine and there were even concerns that he would lift the sanctions unilaterally to boot.
MELBER: Katty, how do you view this coming up in the investigations?
KATTY KAY, JOURNALIST, BBC WORLD NEWS AMERICA: You know, it`s going to be an interesting issue for the investigators because this is the one thing that we know that Russia has got willingly or not, out of the election of Donald Trump. Look at the language that was changed in the platform. It was changed from giving Kiev lethal defensive assistance to giving Kiev appropriate assistance. That was the big shift that we looked at in the Republican, after the Republican convention.
And it basically said, we won`t help them with the weaponry they want which is sort of anti-tank missiles, radar equipment, that kind of thing. What was so fascinating about this at the time was it was not just the departure from the Obama administration, it was departure from almost every leading foreign policy national security expert on the Republican side who had come to the conclusion that what they wanted was more lethal assistance for the Ukrainians. At the moment, this is parked, as the Ambassador says on, Donald Trump`s desk but it`s not clear that Donald Trump wants to go there, that he wants to give the lethal assistance that the Ukrainians say they need.
MELBER: Yes, I don`t know how -- based on his public commentary, I don`t know how much time Donald Trump is spending, meticulously analyzing the weapons -- the strategy for Ukraine. (INAUDIBLE) analyze state a chess piece in Putin`s strategy. Mr. Ambassador, I want to read to you from the campaign e-mails because you`ve been around these foreign policy circles. You know some of these players. There was no documented evidence that`s become public that they were directly working this in contradiction to what Paul Manafort claimed here. As for the Ukrainian amendment page, Carter Page famously e-mailed, excellent work. Do you have a view based on what we know about whether this was strictly an unusual policy idea within the campaign or given the exposure on the foreign agents and the investigation`s proceeding that this may have been an effort by people through Manafort and others to essentially hijack U.S. policy?
VERSHBOW: Well, I`m eagerly awaiting the results of the investigation because it`s obviously something to really speculate lively about. But whether this was just part of the, you know, let`s get along with Russia kind of attitude that we heard from Trump on many occasions or whether there was actually direct conspiring by some people in the campaign, maybe in communication with Russia that we simply don`t know. So I think we have to wait and see. But it is kind of ironic that Trump in office has actually come up with a reasonably decent policy towards Ukraine.
He`s appointed a special envoy. He is trying to negotiate a solution that gets the Russians out of Eastern Ukraine. He`s linked the sanctions to a solution in Ukraine. So the only missing piece, is he going to agree to provide lethal defensive weapons? That`s on his desk now. I hope he does it because Putin needs to understand that the costs are going to increase. The longer he drags out this occupation of Ukraine, that (INAUDIBLE) an opportunity to kind of -- to kind of fix this, even if it was a real outrage during the convention.
MELBER: Yes. And we`re limited on time here. But just to be clear, you`re saying you hope that Trump stands up to Putin on that Ukraine issue and overrides what they did in the platform.
VERSHBOW: Absolutely. And I think his whole government is recommending that. The Pentagon, the State Department, so let`s hope he does it.
KAY: And his envoy as well has also said that the time to look has come to at least look at giving him those weapons.
MELBER: Right. And this is why there`s skin in the game and we`ll see what holds the platform negotiated by some of those people or this change as you both very articulately explain it to us. Ambassador Vershbow and Katty Kay, thank you, both.
VERSHBOW: You`re welcome.
MELBER: Still ahead, the man who knows what makes Trump tick. I have the co-author of the Art Of The Deal Here for an exclusive interview to talk about Trump`s reaction to this election office to the Mueller probe and why he says Trump is a danger to, "civilization." And first, as promised, here`s what Barack Obama was doing a year after Election Day, doing his civic duty, jury duty. Now, he did not get picked but he did make some people`s day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay seated. Stay seated. Ma`am, ma`am.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. President.
OBAMA: Good to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me too.
OBAMA: Thank you. Thanks everybody for serving on the jury or at least being willing to. Good to see you. How are you all doing? This looks like Chicago right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How is Donald Trump really taking the big Republican losses from last night? Well, my next guest coauthored The Art Of The Deal and warns Trump is a danger to civilization. He says today`s tweets are probably not the end of Trump`s reaction, that that book was about business but it did dabble in politics. Trump noting that you can`t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion, you can do all kinds of press, you can throw in a little hyperbole, but if you don`t deliver the goods, he said, people eventually catch on. And at the time he said, I never understood how Carter became President but he had the guts to ask for something extraordinary. Then people caught on pretty quickly, he couldn`t do the job, he lost in a landslide when he ran for re- election.
Do last night`s losses hold clues for turning Trump into another Carter? Will Trump`s odd tweets today be the last he says about the loss or is he prime for a larger reaction when he gets home to the U.S.? And could the reaction hurt Republicans further? With me to dissect it all is Tony Schwartz, the Co-Writer of the art of the deal. After hearing about Trump during the campaign and seen the campaign he ran, he told the New Yorker, "If Trump wins and got the nuclear codes, there`s a possibility it will lead to the end of civilization." We should mention, Tony has decided to donate the royalties from his book to immigrant rights groups. Thank you for joining us on THE BEAT.
TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, THE ART OF THE DEAL: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: You look at Donald Trump`s tweets today. Is this the end of his response to the election?
SCHWARTZ: No. It is, of course, the beginning of his response to the election. He is a person whose focus is very, very narrow. And what he`s always looking at is a mirror. And he`s deciding whether or not what the near mirror is reflecting back at him is positive or negative. And if it is negative, then his counter punching aggressiveness comes in. The surprising -- not surprising but the unusual situation here is that he`s thousands of miles away, preoccupied with some other world leaders. And so I don`t think he`s had the ordinary opportunity because he is getting some positive feedback in the mirror. He won`t when he gets back and then we`ll see a whole flurry of further activity.
MELBER: You spent a lot more time with him than most independent observers have. You`re not an aide, you`re not an assistant, you`re an independent writer and you`ve outlined your concerns about him including I should read you said, "Millions of people who voted for him and believe he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows. He couldn`t care less about them." Your theory of Trump and his supporters is the Trump university theory that some people love him so much, they want to put their time and energy and even money down. But by the time Trump university ended, and it went bankrupt, you had a lot of people who went from loving him to saying, he conned me.
SCHWARTZ: Yes. And that quote you started with, where he was talking about what happens if you con people and his assessment of Carter is classic projection. So what Trump does, and if you read his tweets, when he`s talking about other people, almost invariably he`s describing himself. And that was the case in the book. Now, of course, he hadn`t yet decided to run for president but that notion that he`s a conman, believe me, that is deep inside what he knows himself to be.
MELBER: You think he has that self-awareness or that self-doubt.
SCHWARTZ: That`s -- the latter is a better way of putting it. I think he knows that you know, he has probably one of the profound cases of imposter syndrome that has ever existed. He`s pretty distanced from it because he keeps himself so occupied with getting what he wants from --
MELBER: Almost frantic.
SCHWARTZ: Yes. He has a -- he has a franticness because I`ve often said, he is like a black hole. It`s like, you pour down, who could get more accolades and more positive feedback than somebody who is president, and yet it`s still not enough. Even from his base, it is not enough.
MELBER: From observing him up close, how do you think he is handling the Mueller probe?
SCHWARTZ: I think he`s in a rage right now. I think he`s in a rage most of all about Mueller because Mueller stands to really topple the whole building. But I think it`s exacerbated by the fact that he seems to be taking blame for what happened last night and all the statistics suggest rightfully so. So I think he`s in a really highly activated and aroused state.
MELBER: The top White House lawyers say Mueller will ultimately good -- be good for Trump because he won`t find anything that directly implicates Trump. Your view of that argument?
SCHWARTZ: I may be the only person who says this but I have believed since the day Mueller was appointed to that job, that he will bring about the end of the Trump Presidency and that he will find indictable offenses. I don`t know that they will be about Russia. Who knows? I mean, Trump may or may not be able to insulate himself from that but I do know that he`s had a career that spanned more than four decades. And during those four decades, there`s an awful lot of behaviors and choices and actions that he`s taken that are potentially criminal.
MELBER: Tony Schwartz, the Co-Author of The Art Of The Deal, very interesting to get your take on all this.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you very much.
MELBER: Thanks for coming on THE BEAT. Coming up, why Democrats are winning on health care and why it might help them next year? Stay with us.
MELBER: Democrats won big last night all over the country. And a lot of people are speculating on why. There`s no single answer but one former Virginia Governor says he has the answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: We campaign on bread and butter stuff. It`s always about the jobs and education and healthcare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Simple answer. Is it right? Jeff Pollack is a Democratic Pollster who was involved in winning races in Virginia and New York last night, and Chaitanya Komanduri, a Democratic Strategist who`s worked for Obama, Clinton and the Wesley Clark campaign. Name, you heard the governor there. You look at health care. Was this key?
CHAITANYA KOMANDURI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. The Medicaid expansion is really the wedge issue that Democrats have been searching for. It`s a great issue. It`s the number one issue for Virginia voters and more than 77 percent of them. Even in New Jersey, Phil Murphy won 86 percent of voters who said health care was their top priority. And you look at what happened in Maine where 59 percent of voters voted to expand Medicaid despite the opposition of that governor up there. This is an excellent issue for Democrats. It goes to real world concerns and it breaks the hold of these largely symbolic issues that Ed Gillespie and Donald Trump have been emphasizing, MS-13 gang violence and Confederate monuments. To put it in nutshell, you know, if you need a doctor, a statue of Stonewall Jackson doesn`t help you much.
MELBER: Jeff that`s true no matter what you think of the statue.
JEFREY POLLOCK, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER, GLOBAL STRATEGY GROUP: That is true. And look, I think health care -- I`m not sure it`s Medicaid expansion, I think it`s actually what the Republicans have done to try to assault health care. And what we`ve seen in that or throughout this year is that the biggest negative against the Republican Party right now is that they have tried to mess with health care. And you yes, Chai is right, in terms of when you look at voters from last night, health care was the number one issue. Ralph Northam won those voters overwhelmingly.
So I think that`s it. the other thing though that`s interesting is 17 percent of the voters made up their minds in Virginia late. And those people broke towards Ralph Northam by a 60/40 margin. Over the last couple of elections, we`ve been talking about just the opposite particularly for Hillary Clinton. Over the last couple of weeks, those late deciders move against her. And so, there`s something bigger going on here in terms of that late momentum. And that`s what feels really good if you are a Democrat today.
MELBER: Chai, do you have any sense of what the late momentum was?
KOMANDURI: Well, the two biggest issues that dominated the last week of the race were the Manafort indictment and the tragic shooting in Texas. And you know, the convention (INAUDIBLE) said voters don`t care about Russia and voters don`t care about gun control.
MELBER: Right. I hear -- you know, Chai, I hear people say that all the time.
KOMANDURI: Yes, and Ralph Northam proved that false. I mean, corruption in an incredibly important issue to late-deciding voters. Late-deciding voters tend to be a lot less ideological and a lot less partisan. And you know, good people can`t really disagree about corruption. So corruption has a huge impact and influence on late-deciding voters. Unfortunately for Democrats, we saw that with the Comey letter and the impact it had on that race a year ago. This time it worked in the Democrats favor.
POLLOCK: So the campaign -- Ralph Northam`s campaign was positive for a good portion. In fact, I believe they were -- they had positive advertising from beginning to end. So there was always something positive they were saying. Ed Gillespie was decidedly negative over the -- over a huge period of this. And so, I think that`s what it is. When you look at the data, if you want to look at sort of what the #fakenews is here, I actually think it`s that Ed Gillespie tried to be too negative, he was too tough or pretending to be too tough. The Ms-13 stuff did backfire. And instead, you had Ralph Northam who`s a guy who had a favorability that was above water while Ed Gillespie at best had a tied favorability and probably was more negative for most of the chain.
MELBER: So Chai, I want to resist the media urge to put it all in one narrative. But is part of this the idea that national elections can turn more on this symbolic issues for whatever reasons. The Presidency, people forget, it`s the only race that everyone votes on is a national race, there`s none other. And at the state level, the health care, the jobs, that`s what`s always going to matter more. And so Ed tried to go Trumpee but didn`t even come close to a Trump number.
KOMANDURI: Well, look, you know, the reality is what Ed Gillespie did actually did kind of work. I mean, he got 72 percent of working-class whites. That`s the same number that Donald Trump got. The problem is he lost everybody else, you know. And the issues we had last year with the election, you know, hate to say was that the stronger together theme that Hillary Clinton had really didn`t talk about real-world concerns of voters. It actually went into the Trumpean sort of turf of talking about the idea that Trump is divisive, that he`s racist, that he`s sexist, et cetera. You know, if Hillary Clinton had emphasized much more for working-class message, health care, jobs, those sorts of things that you know, she talked about quite a bit but something that did not get through the media focus of the campaign, I think that would have been a different result.
MELBER: And interesting coming from you as a former Hillary Clinton adviser there. Jefrey and Chai, thank you, both.
POLLOCK: Thank you.
KOMANDURI: Thank you.
MELBER: Ahead, we are one year out from Trump`s election. It is now a stringing repudiation of Trumpism. Two Democratic is a (INAUDIBLE) of other wins but the Russia inquiry not far from over. We`ll explain how it all comes together next.
MELBER: We are a year out from the 2016 election, a public and political fight that we all saw. But the legal and national security drama that was below the surface looks a little different today. Here is our special breakdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump says he really is running for President.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to make our country great again.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am running for President of the United States.
TRUMP: Russia, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: We did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws. There is evidence that they were extremely careless.
CLINTON: Director Comey had said that my answers in my FBI interview were truthful.
COMEY: No reasonable prosecutor would bring this case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: History has been made tonight. Hillary Rodham Clinton has laid claim to the Democratic nomination.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to run for the Presidency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The FBI may be reopening an investigation into the Hillary Clinton e-mail server.
TRUMP: The biggest political scandal since Watergate.
CLINTON: I have now seen Director Comey`s letter to Congress. The American people deserve to get the full and complete facts. It`s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.
TRUMP: Because you would be in jail.
CLINTON: The Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans.
TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) has no respect for this person.
CLINTON: Well, that`s because he`d rather have a puppet as President of the United States.
TRUMP: No puppet, no puppet.
CLINTON: And it`s pretty clear --
TRUMP: You`re the puppet
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news involving Hillary Clinton and her use of a personal e-mail server. FBI Director James Comey has sent a letter to Congress --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine days later, what the FBI is now saying, and it`s significant. Nevermind, Jim Comey misfired in the first letter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s Tuesday, November 8th. It`s election day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s happening today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s here at last.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton has conceded to Donald Trump. This is a political upset of huge, huge magnitude.
TRUMP: I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all Americans.
CLINTON: This loss hurts but please never stop believing that fighting for what`s right is worth it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Democrats did keep fighting, scoring those wins last night in the two states the Clinton carried, Virginia and New Jersey. As for the legal questions, a year later we can report authorities found far more evidence of crimes on the Trump side than Clintons. Those updates to Comey`s probe didn`t shave the outcome there. Meanwhile, two Trump aides have been indicted. They remained presumed innocent legally until they`re trials. That does it for THE BEAT, I`ll see you back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.
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