Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 27, 2017 Guest: Chris Coons, Brian Wice, Joyce Vance, Barbara Boxer, John McLaughlin, Shelby Holliday, Lisa Servon, Paul Butler, Donna Edwards
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. Ari, I don`t know if you had a chance to look at this "Washington Post" report. But Nick Confessore wanted to add that somebody needs to ask Roy Moore or any of his campaign whether or not they knew about this thing, which is an important question. Anyway, Ari. All yours.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: I think it`s a significant question, Katy. And we are touching on that story later in our show.
And looking at that, the attempt there to basically get in between the fact finding around those accusers and use that or use them to attack the press is some kind of new low, I think.
TUR: I`ve run out of predicting where the low will be. I think we`re going to go fall straight through and come out the other side.
MELBER: And through the looking glass, as it were. Thank you, Katy. Appreciate it.
Our top story tonight is breaking news on where Michael Flynn sent his lawyer today and why it involves Bob Mueller.
A lawyer for former Trump advisor Mike Flynn spent today with investigators on Bob Mueller`s team. Now, this is the development with obviously large implications for Trump and the Russia probe because it is a new signal that Flynn may cooperate with Bob Mueller.
"ABC News" breaking this story today. And here is how their report, which has been confirmed by NBC News, explains why it`s ominous for Trump.
Flynn`s lawyer met today with people "on Robert Mueller`s team, the latest indication that both sides are discussing a possible plea deal."
Now, today`s reported meeting comes after "The New York Times" reported Flynn`s legal team took a big step away from the White House. Flynn`s team telling Trump`s lawyers they cannot talk to them anymore about the Mueller probe, which NBC has confirmed.
So, there are two headlines here. One, Flynn`s team turning up the heat on the White House. You may remember, back in March, they publicly warned Flynn was seeking immunity and had a "story to tell."
Tonight, they`re moving beyond those kind of public announcements or posturing or whatever you want to call that. Tonight, this story is that Flynn`s team is doing private meetings with Mueller`s team.
Now, any quest for immunity, of course, would fail the Flynn test for what immunity means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: When you are given immunity, that means you`ve probably committed a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, that`s not always the case. But immunity for cooperation is the first headline here. Alarming for the Trump White House.
The second headline is that Trump`s line to Flynn is going cold. Remember, Donald Trump went to bat for Mike Flynn. He kept him on staff even after he was caught lying. He pushed Jim Comey to try to drop the criminal inquiry into Mike Flynn. Jim Comey testified about that under oath.
So, if Flynn`s lawyers can keep in touch with the White House, you can bet they will. It costs them nothing. It earns them potential goodwill from the president. It earns them potential information.
So, why cut off contact? Well, this is intricate, but it`s also really important tonight. They`re cutting off contact with Trump`s lawyers because they think they have to.
"The New York Times" reporting that the agreement to share information with Trump`s team terminated, and notes that lawyers aren`t supposed to work together if one client is cooperating with prosecutors and another is still under investigation.
Now, that is not proof at this moment that Flynn has flipped. There`s no public confirmation he`s flipped yet. But it is what the road to flipping can look like. It is evidence that Flynn`s lawyers here are close enough to negotiating some kind of cooperation that they thought they had to take this step, which they knew could leak, they knew this broadcast might be talking about it within days, they know all that.
But they felt they had to do this because those lawyers and Mike Flynn are talking to Robert Mueller with cooperation on the table.
I want to turn now to our special guest. Sen. Chris Coons is on the judiciary committee and has been overseeing several aspects of this.
I want to begin on the Flynn news and your thoughts on whether cooperation would be on the table and what`s the best course going forward.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Ari, typically, at this point, in a federal prosecution, in an ongoing criminal investigation, you would break cooperation or coordination between the defense counsel to two potential targets.
And someone like Flynn, a potential target of the investigation, his lawyers would come forward for a meeting with the investigators, where the investigators would offer the fruits of their investigation. Would sort of lay out here`s what we`ve got on your client and then there would be expected to be a proffer from Flynn`s lawyers, who would say, well, here`s what we`ve got that might be able to help you further your investigation. And then, there would be a negotiation about whether some scope - some immunity might be offered and what the scope of that immunity might be if Flynn flipped and cooperated.
As you said, there`s no proof yet that that`s what`s going on. But the severing of the agreement to communicate between defense counsels and the following meeting between Mueller`s team and Flynn`s defense team is strongly suggestive that they`re exploring, maybe even negotiating a cooperation agreement.
MELBER: Right. And that meeting, as you mentioned, Flynn`s lawyers meeting with Mueller`s team, that`s new tonight.
I want to do one more question on Flynn and then turn to another issue that you`ve been pushing on the Russia issues. But, on Flynn, he does have alleged legal exposure. As we always say, it doesn`t mean we know that anything is going to come out of this investigation.
But the public accounts show the failing to register for foreign lobbying, misleading FBI agents in the Russia probe, and then this report about discussing a bribery plot to kidnap a US resident. Do you think those are the main areas of exposure and that`s what all this cooperation could be about?
COONS: Yes, Ari. I think former national security advisor Flynn has significant legal exposure and those are roughly the areas where he failed to report, where he engaged in misleading investigators.
And there are a number of cases where he has complicated relationships, whether with Turkey, with Russia, and where there`s conflicts of interests between his actions as a member of the Trump administration and its senior national security team and his actions on his own financial behalf.
Both he and his son are at some significant legal risk, and I think that`s what would motivate them to cooperate.
MELBER: So, that`s on the investigation side. And, senator, that was a big enough story that we wanted to get you on the record first there.
The other big issue, though, is something you`ve been leading on, and it is admittedly a set of questions you`re doing some oversight, demanding answers from the Trump Justice Department.
The issue many people may remember is this very powerful prosecutor, a guy named Dana Boente, who you said was suddenly forced to resign. And he`s in the line of succession if Trump ever tried to remove Mueller. He was in that line beneath Rosenstein.
And then now, he has resigned. And you`re asking them "why it`s justified". You also wrote you`re deeply concerned about the timing, given the indictments issued by Mueller.
And if any of this did go past Rosenstein, it has been well established for everyone playing baseball cards at home that Boente could be a key player. My colleague Rachel Maddow on this role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": There`s a case to be made that if anybody outside of Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s office knows what`s going on from the very beginnings of the Trump/Russia investigation, it`s probably Dana Boente, given his role in the Eastern District of Virginia, acting AG, acting deputy AG, national security division.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I don`t want to make light of anything and I don`t know if you remember the movie "Zelig", but this is the Russia probe Zelig. As Rachel said, he was everywhere. And there might be nothing wrong with that and that might be nothing wrong with the resignation, but you seem concerned.
Can you walk us through basically what you`re asking for now and why?
COONS: Ari, I sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions over two weeks ago, asking for an answer as to why Dana Boente was forced out.
He`s a long-serving respected senior federal law enforcement official. As you mentioned, he`s played a central role as acting attorney general, acting deputy attorney general, head of the national security division, US attorney in Eastern District.
It is rumored that he signed a number of the early subpoenas and he`s been involved in this investigation since its earliest stages.
A president has the prerogative to dismiss US attorneys, but not for an improper purpose. So, I`m asking attorney general to clarify whey Dana Boente was forced out and why at this time.
That`s because there`s a larger pattern here. President Trump directly intervened with former FBI Director Comey, sat down with him and personally asked for his loyalty.
He`s been reported to have interviewed US attorney candidates for several jurisdictions where the president has significant real estate holdings, something that`s unprecedented and has been referred to as an improper interference in the US attorney selection process.
So, I think attorney general could address this promptly. Earlier today, I met with the chairman of the judiciary committee and he offered his assistance in trying to get an answer in a timely fashion.
I had asked Chairman Grassley if he`d consider holding a hearing on ongoing interference in the matter of the dismissal of the US attorneys. And instead he offered, and I greatly appreciate his offering, to communicate with the attorney general and simply encourage him to answer my questions.
MELBER: All very interesting stuff. And we will be keeping our eye on as well. Senator Chris Coons, thank you very much.
I want to turn right to the larger conversation. Brian Wice, a criminal defense attorney who has represented former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor under Barack Obama.
Joyce, dealer`s choice because I`m curious what you think of what we just heard from the senator as well as the earlier conversation about Mike Flynn. It is not every day that the former national security adviser sends his lawyers to talk to Bob Mueller`s team in person. And that`s the news tonight.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It seems like it`s going to be a watershed moment in the Mueller prosecution because Flynn, two of the key events that Mueller has to be keenly interested in involved Flynn.
One was Flynn`s hiring on to the Trump team. What did they know when they hired him? And the second one, of course, is the firing of Jim Comey.
Flynn himself will be in a position to shed light a lot of light on to who is involved in both of those events, what they knew, what the conversations were.
For instance, if Flynn says sure, I asked the president to protect me from this Russia investigation, so the president turned around and spoke with Jim Comey, then we have an easy case for obstruction. And that could involve individuals, any number of individuals who were involved in this entire scenario.
MELBER: Brian, you have experience on the criminal defense side of things. Walk us through how this works. And I guess I`ll ask you the basic question, do you get an immunity agreement for free? We`re heading into Christmas season. Is it something they just give out?
BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Or Hanukkah.
MELBER: Thank you, sir. Or Hanukkah.
WICE: Or Hanukkah. This is a watershed moment because those of us who binge watch "Law & Order" recognize that sometimes being a criminal defense attorney means more than cross-examining a witness or following a pretrial motion.
It`s a day like today when Robert Kelner pays a visit on Bob Mueller and his client becomes queen for a day with a proffer letter, where they talk about the who, what, where, when and why and how Mike Flynn can ultimately assist Bob Mueller in moving the ball forward.
MELBER: And proffer letter is what?
WICE: Basically, what I know, when I knew it, what I can do, as they say in TV, to advance the story to day two. And in this situation, Bob Mueller knows that he`s got Mike Flynn and Mike Flynn, Jr., and that is an incredibly powerful incentive for Mike Flynn him to come forward.
MELBER: Brian, you think the way these things are negotiated, you think tonight they`re at a letter or near a letter and they`re talking about who knows what and what they would get for it?
WICE: Well, this could have been one of two things, Ari. Could have been just a meet and greet and let`s have some Starbucks and sit down and take each other`s measure.
But by this point in this litigation, I`ve got to believe, particularly with the abrogation of the joint defense agreement that they`re now talking turkey. And in this situation, it`s a question of what Mike Flynn and Bob Kelner can tell Bob Mueller to advance this story in a way where ultimately perhaps Mike Flynn gets to see his grandson graduate from pre-K as opposed to getting him - to watch him graduate from high school.
MELBER: Right. And those are the kind of things that prosecutors push. Joyce Vance, I want to read some of the response from the Trump side of things. "No one should draw the conclusion this means anything about General Flynn cooperating. What was not entirely unexpected was that Flynn may be discussing a plea with the especial counsel."
Joyce, as lawyers, you and I will both note the use of the double negative and whether this was expected or not. I mean, the issue isn`t who was expecting what, right? The issue is whether Mike Flynn, who was national security adviser, a high-level post, has information that Bob Mueller believes is credible about crimes committed by other people, at least in equal, if not a higher level.
VANCE: The president and his team, obviously, took a lot of steps to try to keep Mike Flynn in the fold. We saw those repeated comments from the president talking about what a good guy Flynn was, perhaps hinting at a pardon for Flynn.
But at the end of the day, I think what weighed on Flynn was liability not just for himself and for his son. And they were both around.
We were told throughout the campaign that Flynn was the Trump whisperer, that he was with Trump on the plane every day, flying around. He obviously had an enormous opportunity to observe. Whether his observations will be valuable is up to the folks on Bob Mueller`s team.
I don`t think he`ll be around to watch his grandkids graduate from pre-K. He will have to, I think, in my judgment, ultimately plead guilty to a felony. There will be some time involved, but he may be able to protect his son and perhaps, to some extent, himself by pleading guilty.
MELBER: Joyce Vance and Brian Wice on a big night here, thank you very much for your expertise.
And just as Roy Moore is about to go public in Alabama, the White House talking about whether Trump thinks the "Access Hollywood" tape itself is real. He used to say it was.
Also, Elizabeth Warren punching back after Donald Trump tries to seize control of the watchdog agency she founded with Barack Obama. That`s in court today.
And did a Trump Twitter attack actually help Vladimir Putin`s new crackdown over the Thanksgiving holiday on the media? I have a former acting director of the CIA who is concerned.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Republican Alabama Senate candidate about Roy Moore about to speak in just under an hour. This election will be his first campaign appearance in 11 days and it comes 15 days out until that special election.
With revealing new details about how Donald Trump came to his defense of Moore, saying the accusers might not be telling the truth, "The New York Times" reporting Trump even seeing echoes of the controversy surrounding his own "Access Hollywood" tape. And he told a senator that the tape was not authentic.
Today, the White House press secretary, asked about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president still accept the authenticity of the "Access Hollywood" tape that he apologized for during the campaign?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president addressed this. this was litigated and certainly answered during the election by the overwhelming support for the president. John Decker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he apologized for it, which would seem to acknowledge its authenticity. And that position hasn`t changed?
SANDERS: No. Like I just said, the president hasn`t changed his position. I think, if anything that the president questions, it`s the media`s reporting on that accuracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: As for when that tape originally surfaced, Trump did not deny it was authentic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve said and done things I regret and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them.
Anyone who knows me knows these words don`t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong and I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by former Democratic Senator from California Barbara Boxer, who also founded a PAC for change, committee focused on defeating Republicans in the next midterms.
Senator, good to see you. Appreciate you making the time.
BARBARA BOXER, FORMER DEMOCRATIC SENATOR, CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: When you look at where this is with Donald Trump, he seems to be trying to do something that Republicans in Washington have refused to do, which is thread a needle, and I`m making air quotes if you can`t see me, but thread a needle on these accusations of predation by Roy Moore.
BOXER: And you`re asking me if I believe that Trump is wrong? Yes, Trump is wrong.
It is such a pity to have as president a grabber in chief and worse. And for him to say that that "Access Hollywood" tape is rigged or wrong when he admitted it at the time, it sounds like it`s a defense for perhaps a trial coming up, or perhaps impeachment where that tape could be used as evidence.
But you`re the lawyer. I`m just married to one. I`m the mom of one and the daughter of one. Surrounded.
BOXER: Surrounded. I hope some of it got through. Some of the good parts anyway.
But, no, as you know, I`m not in office anymore. I`ve always said what I thought, but this is just one great big lie, to say that that tape is not accurate, when he, in fact, admitted it before.
MELBER: Well, and you make such an interesting point, which is that kind of lie, when someone has already admitted the opposite looks really bad in public. And so, it makes you wonder, as you raise, whether it`s for some other purpose because there may be some other proceeding where he wants to fall back on challenging the evidence. Very interesting point you raise.
More broadly, with Roy Moore, where do we go from here. And I don`t want to put you on the spot about a breaking story, but there`s a brand-new report in "The Washington Post" that you may have seen that this very fringe right-wing group, Project Veritas, tried to do a sting operation and trick the "Washington Post" over this story.
It failed and "The Washington Post" now is reporting that and busting them. But in it, it seemed that some of these right-wing activists - I`ll just read you.
"Post" reporters say, "they walked into the office of Project Veritas, which is an organization that targets the news media as well as what they consider left-wing groups. And the design was to try to catch "The Washington Post" in a false accusation. I wonder your thoughts on that and where we are. It`s bizarre, that one.
BOXER: Well, I have heard about that. It doesn`t shock me because I saw that done to Planned Parenthood where they do a sting operation and to try to get people to say certain things.
But good for "The Washington Post". They`re so careful. They`re not out to tell lies. They`re out to get to the truth.
Now, look, I served for so many years and the press made me crazy, Ari. I mean, they did. Because ever since Watergate, the press is adversarial with the elected officials. That`s just the way it is. You have to accept it and keep your eye on the prize, be direct, do the right thing.
And the press is very careful with this. And I`m very pleased that they exposed it. And this is the story now. Another factor for the people of Alabama to weigh. Do they want to stick with this man who is being supported by right-wing groups that are so desperate that they would tell lies to try and hurt freedom of the press?
It`s just one more terrible situation. And I just hope the people of Alabama will do the right thing and not send this man to the United States Senate. If they don`t like the Democrat, write in their own name, do whatever they want, but this man does not belong there.
And I can tell you, as someone who was the chief Democrat on the ethics committee for many years, that`s going to be a tough road for Roy Moore because they will turn over every stone and he will be expelled. That`s what I think.
MELBER: Wow! Senator Boxer, always interesting. And thanks for joining me tonight.
MELBER: Ahead, Donald Trump resorting to a racial slur against Elizabeth Warren, new today. We`re going to show you her response.
And behind Trump`s trash talk, a fighting turning to actual legal showdown over who really will be in charge of Obama`s Wall Street regulating agency.
Then, Putin singling out Western press. Trump echoing that attack within just four hours.
And later in the show, something very important. There`s a case roiling the City of Baltimore. A police officer killed the day before he was to testify in a case against indicted officers. I have a live report from Baltimore on that tonight.
MELBER: Is Donald Trump publicly helping Vladimir Putin retaliate against western media as well as the US government? This is one of the questions raised after Putin just signed this new law that takes basically Kremlin power and they label western media groups as foreign agents.
Russian officials warning that outlets such as "CNN International" could make the list. And then, four hours later, Donald Trump tweeted that "CNN International" was a "major source of fake news and represent our nation to the world very poorly."
This is pretty remarkable. This was the first time that Donald Trump had ever mentioned "CNN International" as president or even as a presidential candidate.
Now, in business, he mentioned the channel twice. In 2010, to promote his appearance on "CNN International". And again, in 2013, to promote an op-ed for their website.
So, Trump`s new interest in "CNN International" has sparked all kinds of response, including at multiple networks about endangering journalists overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST, "MORNING JOE": Let`s focus on what is actually very disturbing. And that is a president attacking the free press, denigrating the work of reporters who go out every day across the globe, risk their lives.
BRIAN STELTER, "CNN" SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Trump`s tweet reads like an invitation to undemocratic regimes around the world to harass CNN journalists with the blessing of the US president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Many non-partisan experts were struck about how Trump`s attack here seems right in line with the Kremlin`s announced strategy.
One White House correspondent asking why is Trump doing this the same day Putin cracks down on foreign media. A "Washington Post" reporter says this should help Russia`s plans to muzzle certain media outlets.
And a former national security council staffer on Russia and a former Bush administration official was even more blunt, asking why is Trump so eager to do Putin`s dirty work? And that`s the whole point.
Any president can have any opinion about any media outlet, but the timing and the targeting of Trump`s attacks suggests this may not even be his opinion, but one he adopted to help Vladimir Putin. And is there a pattern of these two leaders trying to help each other even right out in the open?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by acting director for the CIA, John McLaughlin. Shelby Holliday is also here. John, your response? Is this business as usual?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR OF CIA: Well, the scary thing to me, Ari, is that these things come at you so fast and furious, this weekend tweet and today the Pocahontas business that I fear Americans may become numb to this and start to think it`s normal behavior when, in fact, what`s really going on here is the president has abdicated his responsibility as a credible spokesman for American values.
Now, you just heard it from number of people. This is the kind of thing that gives Putin a talking point in a country that already has no free media, where the journalists are essentially sycophantic to the President. It endangers the lives of journalists overseas and it sends a message to dictators around the world that President of the United States, normally representative of free media, doesn`t particularly care.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Do you think he did this for Putin?
MCLAUGHLIN: You know, it`s impossible to say. We don`t know that. But if -- in the realm of coincidence, it`s the kind of thing you almost can`t make up. If you put it in novel, you probably wouldn`t believe it or you think it was too fantastical. We just don`t know. They had conversations during his Asian trip that have not been revealed or reported, so no one can say. But certainly hands Putin a talking point. Trump is relatively if not popular in Russia, he is someone they think of as benign figure so that it hands Putin a rationale for doing what he may choose to do here. He has not yet done it, and I suspect the first targets, if there are to be targets will be things like voice of America and radio liberty.
Oddly, CNN is not really well-represented from Russia. They don`t have Russian language broadcasts and frankly, when I`ve been there, it`s been hard to find them on a hotel channel. But Russian spokesmen have railed against CNN International among other targets. So they may be on that list.
MELBER: Yes. Shelby, look, I don`t really know which hotels they`re on or not on in there, but Mr. McLaughlin raises the more serious point as a former CIA Leader, that this is really hard to explain as coincidence. And if it`s not a coincidence, it is the President of the United States immediately giving in. I mean, crying uncle would suggest that he resisted but it was four hours, it`s not even uncle, it`s just giving Putin his P.R.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, POLITICAL AND BUSINESS REPORTER: And it`s happening against the backdrop of this major investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. So the WikiLeaks clip you just played comes to mind for a lot of people when you read that tweet. The tweet also set off a lot of other alarm bells. Why is the President appearing to advocate for the Kremlin policy to stifle free speech while attacking an American company`s right to free speech. It doesn`t make much sense. It also echoes some of his comments on the campaign trail with respect not just to WikiLeaks but to sanctions, being friends with Russia, why can`t we get along. He also casts doubt on Russia -- he still cast doubt on the fact that Russia meddled in our election.
MELBER: Oh, sure.
HOLLIDAY: You know, thinking back to the 300-pound man hacking on his bed or even recently he`s cast out on Russia`s influence at all saying he believes Putin. So the big question here is why. Does the Kremlin have any sort of compromising material on the President so he feels obligated to do this? Does he just like Putin and the Kremlin and feels like backing him up? I mean, these are the kind of things that just set off major alarm bells. And you also have the fact that he`s attacking the free press.
MELBER: Right. And this is something --
HOLLIDAY: The investigation is a huge part of this.
MELBER: Well, the Ambassador to Russia under Trump, Jon Huntsman, Shelby, just was asked about this and said the Putin plan here was bad and bad for the press. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON HUNTSMAN, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, it`s a big concern and it isn`t reciprocal at all. We just think the principles of free media in any free society and democracy are absolutely critical to our strength, health, and well-being. Freedom of speech is part of that. So that`s why I care about the issue. That`s why we in the embassy care about the issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So Shelby, he`s off script there because he`s criticizing this Putin plan that Trump then embraced.
HOLLIDAY: Yes. So it also undermines a Trump official. But another thing that`s very strange about this is RT, a Russian media outlet, was forced to register as foreign agent under a law that was meant to prevent propaganda. What Trump is now doing is saying CNN International is just as bad. They spread fake news and it seems to be justifying in so many words why this Russian law is OK.
MELBER: Right. And this -- you`re mentioning it, this brings us back to the top of the show when we`re talking about Mike Flynn because the U.S. version of this law is for actual propaganda and it`s what Mike Flynn could actually have legal exposure on, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Putin as he often does, grabbing whatever is out there and trying to flip it around. You saw Jon Huntsman`s which is unusual that the President of the United States meet up with Putin within four hours, an important story over this Thanksgiving holiday if folks missed it. John and Shelby, thank you for your expertise.
Ahead, Donald Trump going right after Elizabeth Warren today using racial slur and on the same day, Trump was in court. His lawyer is trying to fend his seizure of a consumer watchdog group that Warren created. I`m going to speak to a current member of the group`s advisory board about that next.
MELBER: Donald Trump is trying to install his own pick to run a key Obama era agency that patrols Wall Street. And he`s being sued today over whether the strong arm move is even legal. Today he also went after the Senator who started that agency, Elizabeth Warren by using slur against native Americans at a reception honoring native Americans who served in the military. Welcome to 2017.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas, but you know what, I like you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Warren responded, telling MSNBC today the President can`t even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur. Now, this is the fight Trump wants to have, but the fight that impacts Americans tonight is over who runs the CFPB. This is one of the only agencies designed to combat Wall Street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: It turns up being a joke. And that`s what CFPB really has been in a -- in a sick sad kind of way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still believe that CFPB is a sad, sick joke?
MULVANEY: Yes, sir I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s Trump`s pick and he says the current threat of American dictatorship resides in this watchdog bureau. Hyperbole, maybe it`s contagious. Meanwhile, the Senator proposing the bureau hasn`t weighed into this dictator debate but she says they need a leader who believes in accountability and when warranted sending CEOs to jail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Giant banks brought down our economy. We believe in tough rules, real accountability, and if a CEO breaks the law, they ought to go to jail just like anyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by Lisa Servon, Consumer Advisory Board Member of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She has said Trump favors the coffers of megabanks. Thanks for being here Lisa.
LISA SERVON, CONSUMER ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER, CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.
MELBER: You are involved, this is a weird day when two different bosses show up to work and fight over it. Donald Trump wants to make this about the slurs. What is it really about?
SERVON: I think it`s really about whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gets to keep doing the good work it`s been doing since it was created by Dodd-Frank Act. And whether that work continues with next director or whether Donald Trump will basically dismantle or kill the agency through other kinds of action that he`s been promising to do since he was candidate.
MELBER: I want to look at some of what they`ve done. And Elizabeth Warren is speaking out today and she`s going to be on with Rachel tonight and obviously, this is now going back to issues. $11.9 billion in enforcement action so far, an estimate of 29 million Americans who would receive relief but the Trump view and the person he`s put in charge has basically said this thing doesn`t work. Your response.
SERVON: I think it absolutely works and I think the numbers speak for themselves. You know, one of the things that Trump and some of his people say is that the agency is killing off the financial services agency when in fact the big banks last year had record earnings and profits, they`re on track to beat those records again this year. They are doing just fine after the financial crisis but we still have millions and millions of Americans who are suffering from that crisis. And the CFPB is the exactly the kind of watchdog that consumers need in order to make sure that the kind of things that happened in financial crisis are people being sold mortgages that didn`t work. They were designed to blow up, student loan providers who -- just last week city bank was charged with doing a poor job servicing its student loan recipients. Those kinds of things are the kinds of actions that the CFPB has gone after and fixed.
MELBER: And briefly, what do you say to the argument that the President`s in charge gets to pick the leader of the agency?
SERVON: Well the President does get to choose the leader, that person has to go through Senate confirmation hearings, the same way that Richard Cordray did. In the meantime, the law, the statutes say, and it does seem that there are a little bit confusing but it does seem that the director appoints a deputy director who becomes the acting director until the President`s choice is confirmed. That seems pretty clear to me. It`s now in the hands of the courts, and I think that`s probably the right thing.
MELBER: Makes sense. Lisa Servon, thank you for your clarity.
SERVON: You`re very welcome.
MELBER: Coming up, a Baltimore police detective murdered right before he was set to testify in a key police corruption case. I go live to Baltimore on that important story next.
MELBER: Now we turn to a very important story. A suspicious killing of a police officer roiling the city of Baltimore tonight. No on-duty police officer has been killed in Baltimore in over a decade in a homicide until Detective Sean Suiter was shot there. He was killed the day before he was scheduled to testify in a case against indicted Baltimore officers. Now this killing done with the officer`s gun in single shot to the head in the afternoon is drawing scrutiny and suspicion. Audio from that day suggests the confusing scene.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not know where the shots came from. We have officers on in bad location. Let`s everybody take cover somewhere, OK?
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MELBER: The very next day, the officer was supposed to testify in a case prosecuting other officers for stealing money and drugs as part of an allegedly corrupt police taskforce.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want answers and the rumors are flying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The murder happened just one day before he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury against fellow officers accused of being in rogue gun unit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was shot with his own gun during that shooting and also at very close range.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a legitimate suspect on the loose.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So bottom-line of that Sean Suiter wasn`t just a police officer who was shot and killed here, he was also a federal witness against other cops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The Baltimore Police Commissioner is saying there`s no link here between the killing and Suiter`s planned testimony.
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KEVIN DAVIS, POLICE COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The BPD and the FBI do not possess any information that this incident, and it appears to be nothing more than spontaneous observation of man behaving suspiciously and a spontaneous decision to investigate his conduct, as part of any conspiracy, the evidence, in fact, refutes that notion.
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MELBER: In a moment I`m going to speak with former Federal Prosecutor Paul Butler as well as U.S. Congresswoman Dawn Edwards who previously represented Baltimore. I begin though with the Baltimore Sun`s Justin Fenton who has been on the story from the beginning. Justin, what happened here?
JUSTIN FENTON, REPORTER, BALTIMORE SUN: So Detective Suiter was doing a follow-up investigation on a homicide from last year in West Baltimore. He was out there with a partner and a lot -- much of else what happened is unknown. He was shot with his own gun in the head as you said. His weapon was recovered from the scene but there`s no video, there`s no real suspect description. Authorities offered $215,000 reward and they don`t have any leads at the moment.
MELBER: This all came out right in going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Why is the Baltimore Police been so slow to provide information?
FENTON: The Police Department said that they only learned of detective Suiter`s role in the grand jury investigation the day before. Complicating things is that the rumors of that had been out in community for days. And so, on Thanksgiving eve they provided confirmation that this was going on and I think that it`s raised a lot of questions in the community. The Police Commissioner is trying to say that they don`t see any reason for a link primarily because he was shot with his own weapon, you know, in sort of a spontaneous encounter which they say goes against any idea he, you know, was meeting up with somebody --
MELBER: But if they don`t have a suspect -- if they don`t have a suspect, they can`t rule out that it wasn`t spontaneous.
FENTON: Right. And they`ve actually been -- they`ve actually said many times that they can`t rule a lot of things out. I think there`s a medical examiner`s ruling of a homicide. But even there`s some questions there. And you know, they`re saying they`re not ruling anything out. They`re also resisting urges for a federal takeover of the investigation. Some have suggested that the FBI should be taking a lead role in this.
MELBER: Well, given that there was federal nexus with the problems surrounding the impending case, that would be one thing to consider. Justin Fenton on the ground in Baltimore, thank you. I now turn to Paul Butler, who is the author of Chokehold: Policing Black Men and former Congresswoman Donna Edwards who as I mentioned represented Baltimore. Donna, I begin with you. Does this look suspicious?
DONNA EDWARDS, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, just for a correction, I actually didn`t represent Baltimore, even though Maryland is a small state. I think --
MELBER: My apologies.
EDWARDS: That`s all right. I think that the citizens and residents of Baltimore certainly have reason to be suspicious given the circumstances. I`m going to take Chief Davis at his word. I`ve known him for many years. He actually used to represent the county that I live in. But there are a lot of questions raised here. And you know, good thing that, you know, just a couple of months ago --
MELBER: Well, let me ask you -- let me ask you this. I don`t mean to interrupt but I don`t know that it`s about taking him at his word or not. I think that it is that -- if this is an investigation of an unsolved killing and probably murder under the law, it seems suspect that he is already trying to rule things out when they don`t have the information. He`s not saying we`re going to go wherever the facts lead. He seems to be actively taking a view of the case that there wasn`t any misconduct. Of course, this is a long side of indictments of police misconduct.
EDWARDS: Well, I absolutely agree with you. I mean, I think that what Chief Davis -- Commissioner Davis was trying to do was really to still the environment around that area. I mean, that area actually after -- immediately after Detective Suiter`s killing was in effect -- you know, sort of on lockdown there is a lot of suspicion in the community. I`ve been reading online you know, all of the various theories and stories and so I understand wanting to you know, quell the public and wait for the investigation to take where -- take them where it leads.
But I have to tell you, given the history of some in the Baltimore Police Department, given the history of the department, that it`s under a consent decree right now and just had a federal monitor appointed, I think there are a lot of reasons that people in Baltimore need to tread very carefully and ask the questions that need to be asked to get to the bottom of this so that the community can be rest assured that there isn`t just some random killer out there and find the person who murdered Detective Suiter.
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. So there are some simple investigative questions that we don`t know the answer to. But where was Detective Suiter`s partner when this murder went down? Why does he have such a vague description of the assailant? They apparently engage with this suspect about 20 minutes before the homicide. And what happened within that 20minutes? Most of all, Ari, what is the motive? It`s bizarre that the Chief would exclude the fact that the next day this cop who`s murdered was going to testify against other police officers in a police corruption investigation.
MELBER: Right, Paul, let`s pause on that point. Anytime you have an unsolved mystery, let alone a rare on-duty homicide, because as rough as Baltimore is, the direct attack and shooting of officers on duty is rare, as I mentioned, once a decade. This would seem like a potential motive to at least investigate and yet police are already ruling it out.
BUTLER: It`s almost the first thing that you would think about given that Baltimore, unfortunately, has a long history of police corruption and a long history of a blue wall of silence where police officers protect each other when they`re implicated in crimes. And so that leads, again, to having to ask, you know, is this related to his pending testimony. And Congresswoman Edwards is totally right that given the distrust between citizens and the police in Baltimore, when police use aggressive tactics like they put this neighborhood on lockdown for almost a week, you had to show idea to get into your own house, that actually makes it harder for the police to do their jobs because folks don`t trust the police. Baltimore is where they don`t be a snitch movement started because of distrust. And again, that makes it harder for police to get to the bottom of serious homicides like this.
MELBER: Paul Butler and former Congresswoman Donna Edwards, my thanks to you in this important story. We will stay on it. Thank you. And when we come back, I want to show you some highlights from our very special Russia courts special on collusion and conspiracy in front of our live mock jury. That`s ahead.
MELBER: Bob Mueller`s investigation has been using a grand jury. So that means everything it does is in secret. But now we have these indictments, which means we`re on the way to probably two public trials. So THE BEAT recently partnered with John Jay College of Criminal Justice for a live mock jury setting with legal analyst and prominent lawyers on both sides of the Russia case including whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and whether a crime was committed.
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RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: One year ago, we were attacked by the Russian government. All of us were the victims.
It`s also a federal crime when two people agree to commit a crime. That is called conspiracy.
Russia tried to influence the American election. I was certainly convinced of that. The problem is that that isn`t a crime.
MELBER: Who is now more convinced that there was a conspiracy that involved the Trump campaign? And who is less convinced?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s much further along. And I think he knows where to go to get what he might need to complete that case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was just part of our Thanksgiving holiday special. You can watch the whole thing on our Web site, thebeatwithari.com. That`s thebeatwithari.com. Thanks for watching the show tonight. 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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