Trump under pressure with tax bill in doubt Transcript 11/28/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Heidi Przybyla, John Harwood, Leah Wright Rigueur, Betsy Woodruff, Nick Akerman, Richard Painter; Tara Dowdell, Mike Lupica, Chris Shelton, Diana DeGette, Linda Nablo

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 28, 2017 Guest: Heidi Przybyla, John Harwood, Leah Wright Rigueur, Betsy Woodruff, Nick Akerman, Richard Painter; Tara Dowdell, Mike Lupica, Chris Shelton, Diana DeGette, Linda Nablo

CHUCK TOOD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": It includes Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bruce Springsteen and Carrie Fisher. Yes, good luck against Carrie Fisher there, buddy. But if he does win, it would be a makeup for his overlooked 1987 folk album where super delegates prevented him from getting nominated.

Anyway, THE BEAT with Ari Melber, though, starts right now. Ari, do you have your Grammy yet?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: I have one question, Chuck, which is if Bernie Sanders does win this Grammy, will Kanye West let him finish?

TODD: Oh, wow! Look at that. You are throwing in more pop culture references than I get. I think I know what you`re talking about, but I`m only vaguely aware of it. But that`s OK. I do the same thing with baseball to you sometimes.

MELBER: You do. You catch me all the time. As they say in the newsroom, if you don`t know, now you know. And thank you as always, Chuck Todd. We`ll be watching those Grammys.

As for our news tonight, this tax plan was supposed to be the one legislative victory that Donald Trump would score before Christmas. You probably heard about that.

Well, today, Trump`s deal making under stress. He says also that if the Republican-controlled Congress can`t avoid a government shutdown, he will blame the party that doesn`t run Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If that happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats. If it happens, it`s going to be over illegals pouring into the country, crime pouring into the country, no border wall, which everybody wants. I got elected partially because of the border wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Partially because of the border wall. And, look, Donald Trump believes his voters want him on that wall. Maybe they do. But, tonight, the White House is reeling from something voters say they don`t usually want. Pointless partisan sniping in Washington.

Trump was going to host Democratic leaders at the White House for a deal making session today. But he couldn`t help himself. Then he tweeted, "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today. I don`t see a deal."

Now, let`s be clear. Let`s even be fair. Donald Trump, not the first president to take a political meeting strictly for posturing to sort of pretend you`re open to a bipartisan deal, while pursuing a partisan one.

But it is rare to just admit that before your guests arrive. You`re basically daring them to go along with being props.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer today saying, they don`t want to be props and they bailed on the meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The president tweeted a blatantly inaccurate statement and then concluded I don`t see a deal. The president said, I don`t see a deal three hours before our meeting, before he heard anything we had to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, in the Senate, stopping a shutdown does require Democratic votes. So, Trump does not have total leverage here. The GOP can`t go it alone.

As for taxes, which White House aides desperately want Trump to focus on, well, the resistance was showing up today as Senate Republicans moved their plan out of committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, the ayes are 12 and the nays are 11.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The bill is reported out.

(End VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Let`s get right to it. John Harwood is "CNBC" editor-at-large on Capitol Hill, Heidi Przybyla, senior political reporter for "USA Today"; and Leah Wright Rigueur, a professor of public policy at Harvard University.

Heidi, I start with you. The bill has not been killed, but there is a long road here. And I`d like to be nice when I can. The nicest thing I can say is Donald Trump does not seem totally focused on the one thing he needs to do before Christmas.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, "USA TODAY": He does need to keep the lights on, but I think we can`t minimize also today what happened with this tax bill.

A lot of speculation prior to this that folks like Sen. Corker or Johnson might stand in the way of this bill. What we saw today is that they are just as interested in cutting a deal as the leadership. And I think that it bodes well for the bill long-term.

They do have a lot of bumps and twists to still deal with going forward. What does that trigger mechanism going to look like on the debt? How are they going to pay for some of the things that Sen. Collins wants?

But in the end, folks look like they`re a little bit more optimistic that probably this bill may get reported out by the end of the week.

Now, on the shutdown, it just seems that the president does not realize who has the leverage going into this. Even in this unified situation where his party controls Congress, he controls the White House, they need Democrats.

And he needs Democrats for things that he wants, like increasing the defense spending. It`s not just what Democrats want in terms of DACA. So, he gave Democrats a very easy pass on this meeting in something that he needs them more for.

MELBER: And John Harwood, on the taxes, you`ve covered this a lot for "New York Times", for "CNBC". You were on the Hill today.

Let me play for you some of what folks were saying in the building you`re in about why Republicans aren`t totally sold.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to vote for this bill?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I don`t know. We`re still working on it. I have some concerns on the deficit side.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, we got some work to do, so before that. We got four-and-a-half hours or so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What do you see, John?

JOHN HARWOOD, "CNBC" EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, there are lots of concerns. There are concerns that it won`t do enough for growth. There are concerns that it will increase the deficit. There are concerns that it gives too much to the rich.

On the deficit, which Jeff Flake just mentioned, we`ve got an interesting debate that`s bubbled up this afternoon around this idea of a trigger, where deficit hawks are saying that given widespread expectation, the deficits will in fact go up.

And most of the economic models show that deficits will go up under this bill. They are proposing some sort of a trigger mechanism that would generate automatic tax increases if the deficit rises more than they expect it will.

MELBER: John, is that - I get to ask easy questions sometimes. Is that a good idea?

HARWOOD: Well, if you think that it is vital that the deficit not go up more than expected, yes, it`s a good idea. But there is very good reason to think that the deficit is going to go up more than expected.

But there`s pushback from conservatives against that trigger. We heard some of it from Sen. Kennedy of Louisiana to Chuck Todd in the previous hour. Grover Norquist, people like that complaining.

And there`s one wild card that`s been thrown into this equation today, which is that the joint committee on taxation, which is the official score keeper of Congress, which the Republican leadership wanted to proceed with a vote without their estimates of how it would affect economic growth, they have now told Democrats that they are racing to provide an estimate by tomorrow evening.

If that estimate shows very weak growth effects, very weak revenue to pay for the tax cut, I think that could have a significant impact and slow down this process.

MELBER: Right. And that could hurt them. Leah, I don`t know if you remember the Clint Eastwood empty chair appearance at the convention. Ideas are always hard to pull off. It didn`t work.

Here, we`re seeing again a replay of sorts. Donald Trump, another Republican with empty chairs, this time it wasn`t Obama scheduled. But what you`re looking at on your screen was just how much this didn`t work.

That`s Mitch McConnell there. But in between McConnell and Ryan are the empty chairs of Chuck and Nancy, as the president affectionately calls them. What do you think of that sort of fail today?

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: Wow! I think I have to quote Kanye West here and say how?

I think this is one of the things that we`re seeing what happens when you have somebody in leadership who doesn`t fundamentally understand government.

You need Democrats. You need alliances. You need people to at least temper their partisanship in order to move forward.

Now, the interesting thing, though, and I think one of the important things to remember here, though, is that Republicans are desperate for a win. And desperate for some kind of win that surrounds tax reform.

So, I think you`re going to see lots of attempts to kind of push it through. And you know what? Forget the consequences. Thinking about, let`s have a win in our column, what can we do? And, of course, that`s going to have implications for the long run, especially for poor people, for working-class people and for middle-class people in America.

MELBER: Now, I`m worried that we`re going to run out of our Kanye references. I guess, I could go to John Harwood and say -

RIGUEUR: I`ve got nothing for you.

MELBER: I could go to John Harwood and say, I`m about to hit the A button. I don`t want to say nothing wrong, but it would be wrong if I didn`t say something. And that`s Kanye, as you know, John, always careful with his words.

I suppose the question here is whether any Republicans are going to say something about the parts of this bill that they find objectionable. It is not supposed to be that hard to cut taxes when the Republicans control both Houses.

So, you were discussing the deficit issue earlier. What else is hard for them here? Why is this harder? You and then Heidi.

HARWOOD: Well, there are questions about the removal of the individual mandate, which has been included in the bill. There are questions about whether the rate should go down for the most affluent Americans. The top rate, now 39.6 to 38.6.

But I think Heidi parsed it exactly right in her initial comment, which is that they`ve got momentum for the tax bill. It`s looking more likely than not that Republicans want to get to yes on this and pass this. But Democrats are the ones who have the leverage on the government shutdown. This will come to a head next week.

MELBER: Heidi?

HARWOOD: Yes. I think most Republicans see this as political survival and we saw that demonstrated by what happened with the swift passage today through the Senate Budget Committee.

PRZYBYLA: Ari, we really need to stress how remarkable this is that we`re seeing such a major piece of legislation pass through, again, with no hearings and, like John mentioned, no real official score or idea how this is going to affect the economy or the debt.

And the only explanation for that is that this party en masse sees this as the antidote to some of the blowback that it`s been seeing throughout the past several months of the Trump administration and going into these midterms.

They think, even though these taxes won`t be seen in people`s refunds until 2019, they`re banking on this for their political survival.

MELBER: Right. And it goes to the idea that, at a certain point, there is a desire to do anything and they don`t think they`re going to be as successful as you say, getting closer to those midterms.

John Harwood, Heidi Przybyla, Leah Wright Rigueur, thank you all.

Coming up, what is one of Trump`s favorite restaurants have to do with Mike Flynn and increasing pressure on him from Bob Mueller? I have got the total explanation up ahead.

And a job that almost sounds like a punchline - Donald Trump`s ethics lawyer. It`s a real job held by a real person who is now on the way out. Richard Painter is here live with context.

And millions of children facing the loss of health insurance. A story we`ve brought you before. Congress refusing to act. Parents are now going to get their warning letters. And I have a health official on the frontlines of this important battle.

I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The biggest story in the Russia probe right now is whether Bob Mueller can get Mike Flynn to flip.

Tonight, there are new reports about another person flipping who is linked to Mike Flynn, which could turn up the heat on Flynn. Tonight`s development, though, boils down to two locations.

First, the presidential palace in Ankara where Turkish president Erdogan has led several plots against his opponents around the world. And second, the 21 Club, a fancy Manhattan restaurant near Trump Tower where trump and his entourage like to dine.

The 21 Club is iconic for Trump. He is a regular at table 11 where the restaurant says he orders the 21 burger for $36, cooked well-done with American cheese.

The 21 Club was where Trump absconded to in November when he broke protocol to ditch the presidential press pool and the 21 Club was even his analogy for once reforming Mid East policy.

Trump telling generals this summer, their tweaks to the Afghanistan war plan was like the renovation to the 21 Club in the 80s where the restaurant hired a fancy consultant who closed it for a year, but only ended up changing the kitchen a little bit.

An inspired analogy. Maybe. But also totally made up. That`s according to the restaurant`s owner who rebutted the story at the time.

So, how do you get from the 21 Club to Turkey? Well, by meeting with Turkish officials there, as Mike Flynn did, during the transition and discussing a $15 million bribe to free a Turkish ally jailed in the US.

Mueller is now investigating that allegation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators are also looking into whether Flynn and other participants discussed a way to free an Erdogan ally jailed in the US.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That ally is named Reza Zarrab. He was indicted by Preet Bharara, the Obama-appointed prosecutor who Trump fired this year.

Zarrab was looking at a long jail term in a foreign land until today. With these new reports tonight that he flipped and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Now, we don`t know, of course, what he is telling them. But everyone knows you need to give something up valuable to get a deal with the feds.

Zarrab`s co-defendants aren`t exactly big fish. Reporter Katie Zavadski noting tonight, it seems unlikely prosecutors would offer a plea deal to Zarrab just for cooperation in a case against a "lower profile banker", stoking new speculation he was also cooperating with Mueller`s inquiry into Flynn.

Now, to be clear, Flynn`s lawyers, they deny any Turkish bribe and any deal. The $15 million question, though, is what went down at that 21 Club? A venue which, by the way, has seen its share of intrigues since it began as a speak easy bar back during prohibition.

The restaurant even notes, back in the day, the club`s door was always open to the public, although a screener kept out some people such as federal agents until prohibition was repealed. But as for Bob Mueller`s federal agents, they cannot be screened.

I`m joined by Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter for "The Daily Beast" covering Russia and Nick Akerman, who served as a Watergate special prosecutor, now a partner at Dorsey & Whitney.

Nick, does it look like there could be more to this cooperation agreement and how important was this very mysterious 21 Club meeting?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, the 21 Club meeting was absolutely important.

I mean, what you have here is evidence, if it occurred, that there was a quid pro quo for Flynn`s participation in a kidnapping scheme that circumvented the normal extradition processes that we have in the courts here - $15 million to get this Turkish cleric out of the United States and to Turkey. That is pretty significant. It`s a criminal violation. And it`s certainly something that Mueller is looking at.

But the other half of the equation is this individual Zarrab, who was also part of this deal, and part of what the Turkish government was trying to do with Flynn - was to also get Zarrab freed from prison and out of the country.

MELBER: Right. And this, Betsy, is where - you look at this individual on the screen. It`s not a household name in the United States. But this guy was very important to the Turks, who were reaching out to Flynn, allegedly offering him money and this guy was on Preet Bharara`s radar.

So, even if you`re watching at home and you say, OK, I don`t know about Zarrab one way or the other, what you do know, and I`ll put up the - Preet Bharara weighing in on this again now as a former federal prosecutor.

He says, "Hey, Reza Zarrab has flipped and is cooperating with the prosecution." That new from Bharara. And many people do remember Bharara because he was an aggressive prosecutor appointed by Obama, removed by Trump. Tie it all together for us.

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": Reza Zarrab knows a lot. What he pleaded guilty to was participating in a scheme that essentially laundered billions of dollars to Iran, circumventing the US sanctions, by the way, that brought Iran to the negotiating table, so that the Obama administration could hash out the Iran deal.

Zarrab essentially threw his scheme, made those sanctions less effective. And one thing that high-level folks in Erdogan`s inner circles are likely concerned about, and this is based on myself having numerous conversations with Turkey watchers, as well as Turkish expatriates, one thing that Erdogan`s allies are extremely worried about is that Zarrab might be able to share information with American federal prosecutors that could suggest or indicate that people very close to Erdogan himself knew about this scheme to try to hobble and limit the effectiveness of US sanctions.

That`s probably why Erdogan and his government have worked so hard since the Obama administration to try to get Zarrab back to Turkey. To try to get him out of American custody.

What that means for Flynn, of course, is a little extraordinary. When you consider that a man who presented himself on the campaign trail alongside Donald Trump as a really tough Iran hawk, actually was working or communicating with the Turkish government, according to some of these reports, as part of an effort to try to somehow release American pressure and release the American focus on Reza Zarrab, who has now pleaded guilty to playing a role and helping Iran circumvent those sanctions.

MELBER: And, Betsy, you`re putting your finger on the big question about Mike Flynn. We already know he was for sale, which is not what you want your national security advisor to be. That`s why he has exposure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act because he didn`t expose what he was for sale for.

Some of those sales were to Turkey. His very controversial election day op-ed doing Turkey`s bidding. Now, that doesn`t mean it`s all criminal, right?

Final question to you and then Nick, Betsy, is where do you draw the line that Mueller looks at over whether this was a bunch of stuff that was terrible policy because you don`t want a guy for sale in the US government, or whether it went on to being actually a criminal for sale.

WOODRUFF: That`s an important question. We know that deliberately failing to register with the Justice Department if you`re representing a foreign government is against the law.

We also know that Mueller is willing to bring charges against folks who break that law. That`s what he did he to Paul Manafort. That could be a charge that he may be considering in the Flynn case. Again, of course, Flynn`s attorney said that he didn`t break that law. So, there is certainly some legal exposure here for Flynn.

MELBER: And, Nick, where is that line?

AKERMAN: I think the line is whether or not there was a quid pro quo, whether there was an agreement in order to kidnap the Turkish cleric and also to try and get Zarrab out of the United States in return for $15 million.

If there was a quid pro quo, that was outright bribery and that`s something upon which he can be indicted.

MELBER: Right. And that`s a huge question. I mean, two takeaways here are, obviously, if there was a bribe, that`s a huge deal at the center of the national security apparatus of the Trump organization. And number two, that hamburgers at the 21 Club, outrageously expensive. I mean, who knew you could charge $36 for a hamburger?

Betsy Woodruff and Nick Akerman, thank you both as always.

Ahead, Trump hotels flailing in several countries. But there`s one that`s booming. Critics say, though, it`s a conflict.

Also, inside the tax bill. It helps billionaires. What about the coal miners? I have a special report and an exclusive interview on that ahead.

And later, a key resignation from the Trump administration with some very important questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: From the Trump White House tonight, now you`ve probably seen that Oval Office picture, showing the disappearances of Flynn, Priebus, Bannon, Spicer, even Gorka.

But, tonight, there`s a new name, James Schultz. Not a household name, but his job was important. He handled ethics in the Trump White House and he is now out tonight after just ten months.

Now, he says leaving is routine and these are typically a year to about 18- month type positions. Not always the case, though. Obama`s White House ethics chief Norm Eisen served two years. George W. Bush`s lawyer on ethics, Richard Painter, two-and-a-half years.

But the ethics issues in this White House could tire anyone. Trump is the first president to insist on running a business while in office, mixing his children`s work in government business, cultivating visitors to patron his Washington hotel, which has now turned a $2 million profit, we should note, in just four months.

But that DC profit actually has some alarming clues about what works for Trump`s businesses while he is in office. The DC hotel is different because, it`s, obviously, boosted by these lobbyists and dignitaries who stay there or spend money there to curry favor with the White House. It`s the one hotel where customers care more about the message, a link to Trump, than about what it`s like to be in the hotel rooms.

What about the rest of the hotels that require customers to like them to be profitable? A Trump property in Panama now trying to remove his name after rates plummeted 32 percent since January.

A Canadian Trump property pulling the Trump name this summer. And Trump`s much promoted property on Varick Street in downtown New York, well, he lost out there too. Quite a drop from the debut on "The Apprentice."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Located in the center of Manhattan, chic artist enclave, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in SoHo is the site of my latest development. When it`s completed in 2008, this brilliant $370 million work of art will be an awe-inspiring masterpiece.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Trump now exiting that contract for Trump SoHo because it struggled to attract guests. And I have to tell you, because it`s part of our job here in the newsroom, that property was never actually located in SoHo.

Yet by inaccurately labeling it Trump SoHo, the Trump Organization basically pushed everyone to go along with that fabrication. You can see it in maps. You can see it on the Internet. As of today, though, I can report that Trump SoHo is officially neither Trump nor SoHo.

With me now is the former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, Richard Painter. We should also note he is part of an organization that is suing Trump over alleged conflicts of interest in foreign income.

Good day to you. Richard, I start with the hotels. Is it concerning and potentially an ethics issue that they seem to be doing worse everywhere, but DC?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, yes. For two reasons. One, it seems quite clear that the DC hotel is doing well because all sorts of lobbyists who want to curry favor with the administration are booking rooms and ballrooms and the rest there, including foreign governments.

And that may, of course, be a violation of the emoluments clause of the constitutions that foreign governments are giving him business.

But, second, when you have a real estate empire that is faltering, as the Trump empire has been known to do in the past, there are serious problems with creditors. And then, he has to refinance the debt.

And we still do not know, to this day, where the president of the United States is borrowing large chunks of his money for his real estate business. All we know is that there are a lot of bankers in New York who didn`t get paid back in the 1990s and don`t want to give him money.

And he`s been going overseas - we don`t know where - to borrow money to finance the Trump business empire. That`s one of the things we want the federal judge in New York to find out in our lawsuit.

Where exactly is the president getting his money? And that`s critical to our national security.

MELBER: As you often do, you`re raising sort of the bigger, harder cosmic question. It`s very hard to report on what we don`t know and we try not to report ignorantly.

And yet, what you`re saying, as I understand it, is that in some ways it`s possible that the biggest story, the biggest problem overhanging this administration is the fact that it is possible because of the secrecy that the president owes major amounts of money -

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: What you`re saying as I understand it, is that in some ways it`s possible that the biggest story, the biggest problem overhanging this administration is the fact that it is possible because of the secrecy that the President owes major amounts of money. Things that involve his personal interest, his future, his ego, his children`s wellbeing to foreign powers that might be affecting our security, our livelihood in America and we don`t even know who he owes.

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: We have no idea who he owes money to. We know that real estate tycoons, in general, owe an enormous amount of money to banks because the real estate business is highly leveraged. We know that Donald Trump did not pay back American bankers and bondholders and a lot of the New York banks don`t want to lend money to him. I don`t know where the money is coming from but that`s something the American people ought to know and if this Congress bothered to get off their behind and do something, they could find out by investigating and subpoenaing the Trump organization. They could get the trump information but they don`t care to find out about it so we have to go to court.

MELBER: Hang with me. I want to advance our conversation with someone who has effectively worked with and for Donald Trump, a Business and Political Consultant Tara Dowdell who was also a Contestant on The Apprentice. And for that, I say congratulations and what an experience. When you look at this behavior by Donald Trump, when you look at that clip of him promoting a property that was not in SoHo, as SoHo on The Apprentice which now (INAUDIBLE) like these other places, what is the larger pattern that you think people need to understand?

TARA DOWDELL, BUSINESS AND POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, it`s par for the course. And I want to raise some issues Trump`s SoHo since this is one of the focuses of this conversation. But Trump SoHo has come under government scrutiny because of its ties to a Russian dealmaker. That`s part of why they wanted to exit from Trump SoHo, that`s part of why they had exited from Trump SoHo. So I think that`s another component. And if Trump would release his tax returns as many people have been demanding, we would have a better sense of you know, what his financial entanglements are. But I will say this. Trump -- as someone who has known him not just through The Apprentice but I know him because I worked in the governor`s office as well in New Jersey and he has a lot of business there. What people need to realize is that Trump has always bent the rules. He`s always --

MELBER: Which goes to the ethics lawyer I want to ask you. This person exiting the job quickly, you worked with Donald Trump. Would it be exhausting to be his ethics lawyer?

DOWDELL: I would think it would be light work given that he has no ethics. So when you have no ethics, I think it wouldn`t be much work. But no, in all seriousness, you know, I think it would be very difficult because first of all, Donald Trump, A, doesn`t listen to people and B, he`s never really been truly held accountable. He was able to get Trump SoHo to do that, to license his name as part of that hotel and be a part of that deal with massive community opposition to that project. So he`s used to steamrolling government and getting what he wants. But now he`s the president and it`s different and there`s Mueller and it`s very difficult.

MELBER: Very different. Tara raises accountability. Richard, in a sense or two, what would happen if you`ve won your case?

PAINTER: Well, we`ve found out where the President is borrowing his money and his other sources of financing and revenue, and the judge would then tell him what he can keep and what he cannot keep under the Constitution. But we shouldn`t have to go to court. Congress should be doing it. And by the way, I did want to say that ethics lawyer ought to be congratulated. He lasted a lot longer in that job than I would have. It would have been about 24 hours for me.

MELBER: 24 hours. I got to say, that would be, and I don`t make light of it, but it would be a reality show unto itself if we could see Richard Painter working in the Trump White House and trying to fix some things you`ve identified as conflicts. Richard and Tara, thank you, both. I really appreciate it. Coming up, we have some promises on jobs and we have reality and we have fact-check on who this tax plan impacts. And a union leader is here to explain that CEOs need to step up if they think it`s going to raise wages. Also later, health care for millions of children is in jeopardy tonight unless the GOP takes action. I have a high ranking state official on the front lines of this exclusively on THE BEAT.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your dreams are my dreams and your future is what I`m focused on. We`re going to make America great again. Believe me.

At the core of my contract is my plan to bring jobs back to our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was the plan, dreams, and jobs. How is it working out now that we can actually fact check this tax plan? I`m joined by Mike Lupica, Columnist from the New York Daily News who writes Republicans are asking the middle class to play dead while tax reform walks all over them.

MIKE LUPICA, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Right. It was a variation of the famous old daily news headline, "Ford to city: Drop dead" back in the 1970s which may have cost Gerald Ford the election. And nobody is telling the middle class to drop dead here but to play dead because they`re getting played here. The idea that this is some sort of windfall for the middle class, it doesn`t stand up -- Ari, it doesn`t stand up to any sort of scrutiny.

MELBER: Look, you look at the plan and it doesn`t even -- and I say this with what the numbers are. There are people that think that millionaires are job creators, that they have it rough and they should have it easier. And that`s a position you can take, right? It`s an ideological position, it`s an economic position but it is very hard to defend in American politics and it is a complete hypocritical bankrupt violation of what Donald Trump claimed he was going to do. And yet, that`s what the tax plan is.

LUPICA: And that`s what he is fronting for. He is fronting this bill and -- for (INAUDIBLE) Republicans who have sold out the middle class and sold out whatever ideals they originally brought to Washington. I was watching Mitch McConnell hold up the pen today. You know, the only way you can get a bill passed into law which I actually thought it was a good tutorial for the President. The only way is with this pen. And I`m thinking, yes, but he hasn`t done a hell of a lot with that pen so far other than you know, executive orders.

MELBER: Yes. We also have a fact check here as promised on THE BEAT. I want to you stay with me. But looking at one of the other key pledges about who was supposed to be helped. Donald Trump has a tax plan here that is totally at odds with his campaign pledges to miners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We`re going to put the miners back to work. We`re going to get those mines open. Coal country.

I love the miners. We`re going to put the miners back to work. OK.

We`re going put the miners back to work. I love our coal miners and they`re coming back strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The fact check. Now, there are two main ways the government can help miners, job programs, and taxes. The Trump administration not even pushing a jobs or infrastructure plan, it hasn`t introduced one all year. And that`s despite Steve Bannon`s many promises. Meanwhile Trump`s tax plan tonight makes miners worst off. A mine machine operator, for example, makes about $52,000 a year. The vast majority of those people would have their taxes raised in this Trump plan. So if you are a miner watching the news tonight or a friend`s of a miner or just someone who likes miners, and remember, there are many people who want to believe in Donald Trump`s campaign pledges, but you have to note this tonight. Donald Trump is pushing to raise taxes on working-class miners.

Economically, as I was just saying to you, people can debate whether it is good or bad but it is a broken promise. Now, for more on all this in the working perspective, I want to bring in Chris Shelton. He is using his labor power to demand CEOs commit to raising wages by $4,000 if they get their corporate tax cuts. He started his career as a telephone technician back in 1968 and he says that CEO`s and Republicans are so convinced these cuts will raise wages, why not pledge to do it now? He`s also rallied to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. What are you calling for Chris?

CHRIS SHELTON, PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA: Well, we`ve asked major employers to sign an agreement saying if the tax bill passes, that our members will get a -- for at least a $4,000 raise and that they will keep jobs in the United States rather than sending them overseas.

MELBER: And that`s basically what they say would happen. I mean, we`ve seen a lot of talk from CEOs and others in the Trump administration, that this would raise wages. So you`re basically saying, why not sign and pledge to it before the bill passes?

SHELTON: The President and Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership have all said that if the tax bill passes, workers in the United States will get a $4,000 raise, and so we`ve sent an agreement to our major employers, Verizon, AT&T, American Airlines, G.E., NBC, ABC, that says that if that happens, that we want them to sign this agreement that they will get -- they will give $4,000 raises to all our members.

MELBER: Gary Cohn raised the same idea you`re talking about with this spur investment and jobs but he didn`t get that warm reception when this came up. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY COHN, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment -- your company`s investment, capital investment? Just to show of hands, if the tax reform goes through? OK.

COHN: Why aren`t the other hands up?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Bringing back Mike Lupica to our conversation, why aren`t the other hands up? And do you think people know -- I mean, sometimes we reported the facts and sometimes we look at what people know. Polling is what people do. Do people know that tonight Donald Trump is fighting hard to raise taxes on coal miners?

LUPICA: No, I don`t think they realize the extent to which they`re being played. Ari, there`s a great line from an old Maverick Baseball under the name Bill Veeck. And he wants to finds a hustler. Somebody who could beat you out of bus fare and then afterwards make you think he`s done you a favor. That`s what miners should feel like right now.

MELBER: I got to do one more thing, Mike. Mike Lupica is a friend to this show. We don`t need the two box. Bring it back to just me and Mike. This is like this camera. OK. You`re a friend of the show and I want to have you here because this is important. When you were previously on THE BEAT, you said that you felt like another guest was introduced as more special than you.

LUPICA: Yes. It was a joke. It was --

MELBER: It was a joke. It was (INAUDIBLE), but you said that and I want you to always feel welcomed just as I want Chris to be welcomed, so because you`re special, we dug up some archival footage of you talking about these kinds of values but in a sports context as a special guest, let`s have a look back at Mike Lupica.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUPICA: When George Steinbrenner wants a billion-dollar ballpark, I just want somebody somewhere to stand up and say, how much are you going to put up big guy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Remember that?

LUPICA: Look at my hair. Oh, my God. What happened to that dark hair?

MELBER: And Chris Shelton, because you were so much younger, this trick won`t work on you. It only works on Mike Lupica, OK. I want to thank you both. A little fun in the middle of tax season. Mike Lupica and, I appreciate it. Coming up, the states that are scrambling to give health care for millions of children while Congress fights over how to pay for it. I have a House member from a state that is putting out warnings about children losing their coverage. It`s important and it`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We now turn to a threat that has been on the horizon impaling health insurance for millions of children, and now it`s here. Colorado is the first state I can report tonight to officially warn families the funding for their children`s health care under a program called CHIP will run out by January. Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette, one of the authors of that original bill, makes an urgent plea on the House floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Here we are with a partisan bill that asks to us pay for low-income children`s insurance on the backs of seniors and the most vulnerable. Nobody should have to lose coverage in order for others to keep it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, this program affects 9 million American children across the nation. In 3 days, the first states will begin running out a federal funding. Minnesota telling THE BEAT tonight that what they will do is use Medicaid money to cover the whole for children in a short-term, other states, scrambling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- cannot wait for Christmas morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we leave out cookies and milk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The letter their parents got in the mail today is ruining the joy of the season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It truly is the nightmare of before Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their dad (INAUDIBLE) jokes but says there`s a serious possibility his three girls will lose their health care coverage at the end of January if Congress doesn`t act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s quite terrifying and fairly hopeless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Virginia also under pressure there and the state`s head health official Linda Nablo warning, "you can`t say probably everything is going to be all right about this anymore." And with me tonight is Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado who you just heard speaking about CHIP and that representative Linda Nablo, Chief Deputy Director of Virginia`s Department of Medical Assistance Services. Congresswoman, what is going to happen to these parents? Some of whom might not follow this story every night on the national news and are learning for the first time their children`s health care is in jeopardy.

DEGETTE: Well, Ari, Colorado, it`s true the money runs out at the end of January but we don`t have any options. We don`t have any secret funds that we can get the money for. And so if Congress doesn`t reauthorize this program, 90,000 kids are going to lose their insurance in January. So the state really felt like it had to warn them now that if Congress doesn`t act, they`re going to have to somehow try to ensure these kids.

MELBER: Right.

DEGETTE: Parents are trying to figure out what Santa`s going to bring. And it`s just -- it`s just appalling that Congress can`t come to a solution.

MELBER: And Congresswoman, as you know, it has become fashionable at times to say something didn`t use to be partisan, but this really didn`t. And I`ve reported on this show, we have noted that Senator Hatch was a Republican sponsor of this. We`ve reached out to his office by the way. We`ve been covering CHIP for well over two months since they blew to the deadline. Senator Hatch has refused to come on the show. His staff assured us this would be worked out. But I`m not seeing that happening in my reporting. I want to get your view of that and also take a listen before to Senator Hatch in a skirmish about this just this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: We can pull this country out of every mess it`s in, and we can do a lot of the things that you`re talking about too. And I think I`ve got a reputation of having worked together with Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s start with CHIP.

HATCH: I`m not starting with CHIP. I did -- I`ve done it for years. I`ve got more bills --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start with CHIP today.

HATCH: I`ve got more bills passed than everybody on this committee put together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Congresswoman, are Republicans falling down on this now?

DEGETTE: Well, what happens is the Republicans and the Democrats in the House and Senate, we all agree about the details of CHIP and that it needs to be reauthorized for five years. But the Republicans in the House are insisting on paying for it with cuts to the Affordable Care Act, with cuts for seniors, and I find it a little ironic the very week that they`re talking about doing these massive tax cuts that are going to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, they`re saying we have to offset the costs to give children health insurance. So I think we could work together but I haven`t -- I agree with you, I haven`t seen any movement on the part of the Republicans to actually get it done.

And every day that passes, more and more families in America are becoming increasingly worried that their kids won`t have health insurance. And that`s just wrong. That`s making -- that`s making an issue that was always a bipartisan value that we had into a partisan fight and that`s just wrong. I wish they would stop. I wish they would actually give America`s kids a good Christmas present and pass CHIP.

MELBER: Right. And Linda, you`re out doing this, these dealings with this in the states. Tell us about what you`re seeing for families in Virginia.

LINDA NABLO, CHIEF DEPUTY DIRECTOR, VIRGINIA`S DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE SERVICES: Well, as the Congresswoman says, it`s getting more and more distressing every day. We`re in a similar situation, as are many states. We run out of money January 31st. We won`t be able to provide coverage to almost 68,000 children and about 1,100 pregnant women after that date. We haven`t sent out letters yet, but they are -- they are in draft. There`s a draft sitting on my desk. We`re really trying to gauge day by day is Congress going to act? Do we have to send this letter and alarm families? Can we wait a little longer to see if Congress will really do it? It`s a very -- it`s an untenable situation to be in. We don`t want to --

MELBER: And Linda, I want to -- I want to play for you just to get in the voice of one of the families, a father that we interviewed about this, and the care that his child was receiving for seizures under this program. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s good a health insurance, it`s reliable health insurance and it`s the kind of health insurance I was able to count on when my daughter began to have seizures and was able to focus on caring for her and not worrying about how to pay the costs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: As you know, Linda, that was now six weeks ago with families that are concerned about it. What do you -- what do you do if you run out of the funds? What do families do?

NABLO: Well, and that`s why they have to get a notice pretty soon. We can`t wait too much longer to give them a notice because what they`ll have to do is consider going to the marketplace and see if they can afford coverage there, even if it`s temporary until Congress finally reauthorizes this program. They may need to go to their employer to see if they can get their child covered through their employer plan. Some of them, if their children are really sick, and they`ve accumulated a lot of medical bills or will accumulate those bills, they might end up qualifying for what we call medically needy Medicaid instead of CHIP. So there are -- most of them will quite honestly go uninsured. I mean, that`s the simple fact. But some may be able to bridge until Congress acts with some other form of insurance. And we need to let them know so that they can take that action.

MELBER: Linda Nablo out in the states, I appreciate your time. Congresswoman DeGette, who`s been a leader of this as I mention and if you want to bring, I say this a lot on air, I hope I don`t annoy people, but if you want to bring one of your Republican colleagues along to the next interview about this debate we welcome it because it like an important thing.

DEGETTE: I will try my best. I`ll try my best, thank you.

MELBER: Thank you both. Thank you, both. Have a good evening. Straight ahead, Donald Trump once claimed millions of voters voted illegally and he started a panel to investigate it. Big news on why that`s not working the way he wanted.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who in two states. You have people registered in two states. They`re registered in New York and in New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes in my opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: In my opinion. Donald Trump defending what was a false claim that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in 2016. He lost the popular vote, however, because he lost the popular vote. Then they created a Voter Fraud Commission which fell into trouble. It was sued over its demands for private data. It was investigated by a federal watchdog agency and it`s also being sued by one of its own commissioners. And this is an individual who actually talked about the panel`s problematic secrecy right here on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW DUNLAP, SECRETARY OF STATE OF MAINE: It`s a bit of a mystery to me as to what has been happening and my alarm bells have started to go off.

MELBER: My last question for you, yes or no. Are there further public meetings scheduled?

DUNLAP: I don`t know. We have heard nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Weird. My update for you tonight, now because of that commissioner`s lawsuit as well as vigilance from some voting rights activists around the country, the panel itself completely on ice until at least next year, no more meetings and no more legitimate government ways to get your voter data. A commission born from insecurity about losing the popular vote, and now completely on ice. That does it for our show. You can always find THE BEAT at 6:00 p.m. Eastern here at MSNBC. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews starts now.

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

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