Dem Rep: harassment in congress "still happening." Transcript 11/29/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Nick Akerman, Josh Rosenstein, Tony Schwartz, Christina Greer, Yamiche Alcindor, Sophia Nelson, Jackie Speier

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 29, 2017 Guest: Nick Akerman, Josh Rosenstein, Tony Schwartz, Christina Greer, Yamiche Alcindor, Sophia Nelson, Jackie Speier

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: We have a lot going on. Chuck, thank you very much. I want to tell our viewers about several stories we`re actually covering tonight.

First, the heat is on Mike Flynn over his failure to register for foreign lobbying. And, tonight, I have a BEAT special report on how exactly those cases work and what it could mean for Flynn as well as Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta.

And developments on these reports of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. New pressure on Congressman John Conyers to resign. Congresswoman Jackie Speier is here on that story and more.

And "Today Show" anchor Matt Lauer fired by NBC News today over an allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior. More on all of those stories.

But we`re beginning tonight with Trump`s problems with falsehood and lies, setting off international condemnation today. Trump retweeting a series of anti-immigrant videos. These from a foreign politician.

One claimed to be a video of a "Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy." But that was not the case. Dutch officials saying very clearly today that was false and that the child was not actually a migrant, going to the immigration issues, but rather was raised right there in the Netherlands.

The Dutch embassy taking even an unusual step that I can show you tonight here, rebutting Donald Trump saying facts do matter. Meanwhile, one of our closest allies, tonight, the British prime minister weighing in as well. It`s wrong for the president to have done this.

And all of this comes against a very interesting context. There`s a new report, you may have heard about it in "The New York Times", it talks and reports on Donald Trump`s embrace of conspiracy theories and also new denials of things that he himself admitted were true.

In the report, Trump now falsely telling people that that infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, maybe it wasn`t him. "We don`t think that was my voice," he told a US senator. The tape revealed, of course, that Trump said that he touched and that he groped women without their consent. Him now saying that wasn`t his voice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m automatically attracted to beautiful - I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet. Just kiss them.

When you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, FORMER "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" ANCHOR: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (BLEEP). You can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Trump had previously admitted that was his voice on the tape. He even said it was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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: "The Times" also reporting another senator recounting how Trump "won`t let go of his claim that Mr. Obama was not born in the US," something Trump had also claimed to have given up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Period. Or was it dot, dot, dot. Now, those are two things I just told you about that Trump was busted on that we all know about. These are issues where journalists know and have documented and you know by now that he is not telling the truth.

But, today, you also are looking at here, this real-world impact of Donald Trump`s falsehoods. These are two US allies openly rebuking the president of the United States.

And then, it raises the bigger question, beyond the politics, beyond what`s happening inside America as people try to deal with a president who acts like this and talks like this.

When you look at the international stage, the question is, was the president even in on this falsehood today about migration? Or was he also just getting tricked?

I want to bring in Christina Greer, politics professor at Fordham University; Yamiche Alcindor, reporter for "The New York Times", and Sophia Nelson, a former counsel for the GOP side of the House Oversight Committee.

Christina, the question to you. On the international piece, is Donald Trump a part of the falsehood? A victim of the falsehood? Or does it not make that big a difference to you?

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: We now know that we have a president, and we have to stop saying falsehoods, he is a liar. And I think he has shown himself to be a pathological liar.

It doesn`t matter who he retweets. He is obsessed with just watching the television and going with the narrative that he thinks is real and throwing the red meat to his base.

So, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, we`re all entitled to our own opinions, but we`re not entitled to our own facts. This is a man who refuses to understand that certain things are facts. He has thrown this whole conversation into the air and saying, well, we don`t know what facts are. We actually do have certain things that are facts.

That website that he retweeted, that is highly inflammatory and it is divisive and racist and Islamophobic. He believes it as truth.

And so, if you ask unemployed Billy Bush, he`ll tell you Donald Trump actually said those things. So, just because he wants to change the narrative and he has a small percentage of the American public that will believe him when he does so, we have to consistently call this man out to say, you are lying.

And whether he knows he is lying or whether he is being duped, right now, I don`t really see the difference because you are the leader of the free world. So, that means you`re not taking the time to read, to listen, to observe, or to understand that there are people around you who should actually give you real information.

And we know that this is a man who only wants information in about 140 words, now 280, maximum.

MELBER: Two hundred and eighty. Well, you`re advancing the conversation to exactly what I wanted to ask Yamiche about as a "New York Times" reporter who deals with a lot of this.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is paid by the taxpayers and works for the United States government. And yet, here she was speaking on behalf of the United States, on behalf of the president, saying it doesn`t actually matter if what he shared was true, that these allies tonight are rebutting. It doesn`t matter because they have a view of the threat that is real.

And I thought coming from the US government spokesperson, that was a rather remarkable tell. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Whether it`s a real video, the threat is real. And that is what the president is talking about. That`s what the president is focused on. It`s dealing with those real threats. And those are real no matter how you look at it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, it doesn`t matter if the video is fake?

SANDERS: Look, I`m not talking about the nature of the video. I think you`re focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Yamiche, you`re a "New York Times" reporter. Are you focusing on the wrong thing?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I mean, I think that, of course, as reporters, we want to focus on actual truth and actual facts.

With all that`s going on, I think back to all the voters who cast their ballots for Donald Trump, knowing that he trafficked in conspiracy theories, knowing that he had said that Barack Obama might not have been born in this country, knowing that the "Access Hollywood" tape was real, all of those voters voted for him and he was elected into office being exactly who he is. This is not a new Donald Trump.

And I know there are a lot of reporter who are going to repeat that. But I think there`s something about the fact that Donald Trump was exactly who he was before he ran for president.

And in the democracy that we live in, people decided that they were going to go with Donald Trump. Most of the voters that I interviewed said that they were going with him knowing that.

MELBER: Fewer people. In the democracy that we live in, fewer people decided they supported Donald Trump.

ALCINDOR: The issue is that in the society that we live in, using the electoral college, he won the presidency, trafficking in what we consider, I would say, lies and trafficking in what some people consider racist epithets.

So, there`s this idea that there were people all over this country who saw this, who saw this beforehand and voted for him. So, now that he`s in office, it`s no wonder that the press secretary that`s paid by US tax dollars is giving the voters exactly what they signed up for.

They signed up for somebody who was really kind of, I think, a brash person. Voters that I talked to - there was one voter in particular I think about almost every day.

And he told me that he voted for Donald Trump knowing that he was brash, but he wanted to go with a hot hand because he thought Donald Trump was entertaining. That`s what we`re getting.

MELBER: Sophia?

SOPHIA NELSON, GOP COUNSEL FOR THE HOUSE GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: What do you -?

MELBER: Anything you want to say. Here you go.

NELSON: A couple of things. Both of my colleagues make really good points here. But I think that - here`s the issue that has me disturbed and I think has a lot of us troubled.

And that is that, A, elections have consequences. B, we are America. And what the American president says matters.

For Theresa May, the British prime minister, to have to slap back and say to the American president, hey, that`s not cool what you did and you shouldn`t have done that, I think that`s when we as the American people, we the people, we the people need to rise up at some point and start calling a thing a thing.

Now, whether or not President Trump is forgetting, whether or not he has dementia, whether or not he`s got some type of illness that makes him forget, or whether or not he is outright not telling the truth, we`re going to have to get to the bottom of it.

And I`ve said this before, I think the 25th Amendment is something we seriously need to start looking at because the things that this president is doing, they`re not normal. They`re not natural. Presidents don`t do this. They don`t slander people on Twitter. They don`t go off on Twitter.

MELBER: And you`re saying that as someone who worked for Republican elected officials.

NELSON: Absolutely. It doesn`t matter if you`re a Republican or Democrat, Ari. We`re Americans. And we the people should be united in this cause that we don`t want an American president who presents a clear and present danger, in my opinion, to the national security of the United States of America.

He is reckless. And this is not the first time. It`s not getting better. It doesn`t matter what anyone says to him. He doesn`t stop. So, it`s time for us to do something and time for the elected representatives to act here.

MELBER: And, Christina, I want to play another series of events where Donald Trump is caught lying because it goes to the question that is on the foreign policy table right now. How do you deal with that?

With regard to the 25th Amendment, we`ve never seen a historical precedent or a legal framework for any kind of removal, absent what has traditionally been thought of as being unavailable. Not that it`s a free-ranging rebuke of even the most deplorable potential behavior. I want to be clear about that.

But I want to play for you something that Donald Trump did that was so offensive that he later just had to lie about doing it because even he apparently didn`t feel he could defend it. This was his simulation, or satire or parity, of a person who`s a reporter who happens to have a disability.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You`ve got to see this guy. I don`t know what I said. I don`t remember. He`s going like, I don`t remember. Maybe that`s what I said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: This was a big incident that got a lot of, obviously, in America, nonpartisan blowback. And then, this was how Donald Trump later explained it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He was groveling. Grovel, grovel, grovel, right? That was the end of it. All of a sudden, I get reports that I was imitating a reporter that was handicapped. I would never do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREER: His supporters will believe whatever they want to believe. Whether it`s for racist reasons, whether it`s for xenophobic reasons, whether they are anti-whomever. Donald trump knows that. He is a salesman. He`s not a businessman. He`s been in the entertainment industry for over three decades. He gets it.

The one thing that he is not is a public servant. And so, he fundamentally cannot understand how his role as a leader is not to say one thing and lie about it and change his story the next.

The president of the United States is the captain of, one would say, the largest ship in the world. He fundamentally does not understand the role and the definition of the presidency, the gravitas in which he should comport himself.

And so, he can and says, he does things that are so beneath institution of the presidency and, unfortunately, we had over 62 million Americans feel that that`s OK. And even in their frustration, they consistently vote, in the court of public opinion, for things that he`s doing.

Unfortunately, we have Republican leaders who are voting along partisan lines to support things that will fundamentally harm and damage not just the American people, but the American fabric for generations to come.

This is something where I think it`s deeper than Donald Trump. I think it`s a real come-to-reckoning. President Obama always liked to say this is not who we are. This is who we are. And this is who we`ve been for a very long time.

And Donald Trump is excavating the worst that this country has been. And, unfortunately, he has so many supporters who are not calling him out.

And we`re used to dealing with someone who understands their role, so they`re polite, and we have to - as my colleague said, we have to really just push that button and say, instead of falsehoods, these are lies, right? We have to remind him - no, actually.

We can`t chuckle when Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, let`s talk about what we`re thankful for for Thanksgiving. We have to push back and say no. Make the president stand up and really defend what he has said and what he is doing, whether he can remember it or not.

MELBER: Christina Greer, we`re going to fit in a break. But this has been an important conversation. And, Sophia, I know really this is your first time on THE BEAT. So, I would love to have you join us again. And I want to thank Christina Greer and Yamiche Alcindor as well.

Coming up, what I want to save time for, Congresswoman Jackie Speier has been a leading voice on justice in the House, talking about sexual misconduct allegations, power and a vote on those issues. Today, she`s here.

Also later, I have a BEAT special legal report on the law that could be a powerful tool Bob Mueller can use against Michael Flynn, against Paul Manafort, against the Podestas.

Also, the "Art of the Deal" co-author who has since broken with Trump is here for an exclusive, talking about the Trump mindset.

And later, Jay Z as you may have never seen him, the music legend weighing in on Donald Trump, race, justice and what real men do, why they cry. I`m going to speak about that with Rev. Al Sharpton tonight. A lot in this show.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Congress taking action today amid growing allegations of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a powerful advocate for women`s rights and accountability, had co-sponsored a bill which now passed today, requiring mandatory sexual harassment training for all of Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: We are in the midst of a cultural revolution. And we must not hesitate to do what is needed to fix this broken system. We have constructed a system that shields us from true accountability.

Join me in taking Congress from a cruel and disgusting joke to a leader in workplace fairness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: In a moment, I`m going to speak with Congresswoman Speier live about her fight and the news she broke about $15 million that Congress just paid out in these settlements.

Now, right now, there is, of course, a public reckoning with allegations of sexual harassment. Today, Minnesota public radio firing host Garrison Keillor for alleged improper behavior. And this from NBC News this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, CO-HOST, "TODAY": NBC News Chairman Andy Lack sent the following note to our organization.

"Dear colleagues, on Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company`s standards. As a result, we have decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he has been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this many not have been an isolated incident."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Also today, the most senior member of the House, John Conyers, is facing calls to resign with a fourth accuser coming forward against him and many members speaking out today on the floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. GREGG HARPER (R), MISSISSIPPI: There is no place for sexual harassment in our society and especially in Congress. Period.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The status quo cannot and will not be tolerated.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK (R), VIRGINIA: Bad behavior transcends party labels.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: To the victims of harassment and abuse, we hear you, we believe you, we are here for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: - is a first step to change the internal rules to eliminate this anywhere on Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier joins me now. You hear your colleagues there saying that this is a first step on a larger path, a path you`ve been leading. Tell us what today means.

SPEIER: Well, today is a first step. But it is not the complete reform that`s necessary. This will require mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for all members and staff, interns and fellows. And it will educate all of us on what the rights and responsibilities are of each and every one who passes through these halls.

But until we have a system that is going to be friendly to victims, through what is called now the Office of Compliance, the training will not be sufficient. So, that`s the next bill that we`re going to have to work on over the next month or so.

MELBER: As you know, due process is an issue in any legal proceeding, whether it is one accusation or many. And one of the concerns here that you`ve identified and others have spoken out about is whether ultimately the process becomes too secretive.

Gretchen Carlson, who started a wave of scrutiny with her allegations at Fox News, spoke about this earlier on the show. I want to play that and get your response. Here was Gretchen Carlson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETCHEN CARLSON, ACTIVIST: Listen, we`ve got to change the way in which we approach these kinds of cases and take the blame away from the women. We also have to take away the secrecy of it because most of these cases are solved in settlements where the women cannot speak about what happened to them. Or they go into secret arbitration, right, with the prevalence of those clauses in employment contracts. And, again, women are silenced.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: How does Congress address secrecy within its own ranks on this?

SPEIER: Well, presently, there is a confidentiality agreement that a victim will have to sign on to at the beginning of mediation. And then a non-disclosure agreement at the end.

And the legislation I`ve introduced will no longer require a victim to sign either of those documents. It should be their choice, not mandated.

MELBER: And what do you want to say more broadly? This process is partly about the Congress, which is obviously important. There`s a larger discussion in politics with regard to the Senate candidate Roy Moore, with regard to allegations against Donald Trump, with regard to the rest of the country. Where do you come down on all of that?

SPEIER: Well, I think for the longest time, people in politics sort of thought that they were not subject to the rules that everyone else plays by. And that has to change.

Now, for the president of the United States to basically shine on 14 women who came forward and said that they had been sexually harassed by him, it`s regrettable. I don`t know how someone can be so callous.

But that was what he said on the campaign trail. He was elected president. I think, at this point, unless and until he sexually harasses someone in the White House, we`re going to have to just deal with that.

As it relates to others, Roy Moore is a candidate for the US Senate. He will either win or lose. If he wins, it will be the Senate`s responsibility to determine whether or not his conduct is such that he is not fit to be a member of the Senate, and they could pursue expulsion.

But for all of us who work in this environment, we`ve got to make sure that sexual harassment is no longer acceptable. It has been acceptable here.

We give lip service to zero tolerance. But when it came to actually delivering for the victims, there was no support. That`s all going to change with the reforms that we will make to the Office of Compliance.

MELBER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a lot of people have been watching your work. Thank you for updating us tonight. I hope to see you again.

SPEIER: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you. Now, coming up, the next shoe to drop in the Russia probe. What Paul Manafort`s indictment reveals about how Robert Mueller may be using laws to go and proceed on this case.

And later, Donald Trump went after Jay Z during the campaign. Well, today, the hip hop star making his most extensive criticism of Trump since the election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We turn to our special report tonight. How federal prosecutions of foreign lobbying impact the Russia probe.

Now, this is one of the charges against Paul Manafort and you may have heard his lawyer arguing these kind of foreign lobbying prosecutions use a shaky and novel theory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT`S ATTORNEY: You see an indictment brought by an office of special counsel that is using a very novel theory to prosecute Mr. Manafort, regarding a FARA filing.

The United States government has only used that offense six times since 1966 and only resulted in one conviction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Fact check. True. These kinds of cases are rarely prosecuted. We find only seven criminal FARA cases in 50 years with one conviction at trial.

But there is more to it than that. When foreign lobbying violations are prosecuted, it turns out that charges can lead to real jail time, which could be bad news for Manafort or Michael Flynn or Democrat Tony Podesta. All three have exposure for allegedly hiding foreign lobbying.

Mueller indicted Manafort and Rick Gates for several charges, including illegally failing to register their lobbying for Ukraine.

Now, the bad news for Manafort is Mueller does have clear precedence where breaking this law gets you in trouble. And those precedents may even sound familiar if you`ve been following this Russia probe. They touch on money laundering, secret foreign lobbying, and, yes, political efforts to change US sanctions policy.

So, here are three precedents where cases did lead to jail time. First, an international plot. There was a South Korean businessman busted for being Saddam Hussein`s secret agent and he got five years for that oil for food scheme.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During years of international sanctions on Iraq, the UN let Saddam sell his oil in exchange for food and other aid.

But this recent General Accounting Office report confirms that Saddam required companies taking part to pay him more than $10 billion in illegal kickbacks.

NORM COLEMAN, FORMER US SENATOR: Our goal is to follow the money. Follow money means to find out who profited from this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Iraq forked over $2 million to that businessman with the goal of undermining sanctions on Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Iraqi dictator was being propped up by millions of dollars in secret kickbacks from a Texas oilman and his partners, money that was intended to feed hungry Iraqi children under a UN program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Motivated by greed, they flouted the law, made a mockery of the stated aims of the oil for food program, and willingly conspired with a foreign government with whom our country was on the brink of war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Easy lesson there. Siding with US enemies may just be unsavory. But when you hide it, it can be illegal.

Now, here`s another case how using front groups can get defendants in trouble. There was a former Republican congressman and he got a year in prison for hiding his foreign lobbying. He claimed he wasn`t working for a country abroad.

Instead, he said he was just working on a book about Islam. But it turned out he took $75,000 from a so-called Islamic American relief agency, bankrolling a plot to get its name off a terror watch list.

So, if Manafort or even Flynn were to make this kind of defense, that maybe it wasn`t foreign lobbying, the lesson is a jury may disagree.

And finally, the most recent prosecution under this law is actually especially topical right now because it involved lobbying to undercut sanctions against Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, who was ousted just last week.

In this one, the defendant claims he just didn`t know the source of the millions he was offered which did not work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today Ben Israel admitted, he never notified the U.S. government that he was working for Zimbabwe.

PRINCE ASIEL BEN ISRAEL: And rather than take the people who believe in me and the family of mine through any long trial, I agreed to accept that responsibility of not registering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He might describe it as a technical violation of the law. Certainly, it`s a violation of the law. There`s no question about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ben Israel defended his work in Africa, adding this.

ISRAEL: I didn`t know that the work I had been doing the last 40 years, I needed to register.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So here`s what these cases do show. One, while it is rare to go to jail for this law, it happens. Two, federal prosecutors do scrutinize efforts to undermine sanctions against U.S. adversaries. And three, lying does not help your cause. I`m joined by Nick Ackerman a former Watergate Prosecutor and Attorney Josh Rosenstein who specializes in this law. Nick, it is rare but is this a powerful tool for Bob Mueller?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: It absolutely is because it fits into the whole narrative. It fits into this narrative of lying and concealing the $75 million that Manafort received as a result of his lobbying efforts and what he did for the Ukrainians and for the Ukrainian government and the Russian government. It fits into the narrative that he concealed the $75 million from the Internal Revenue Service, and he conspired to ensure that the Internal Revenue Service would never mind about this money. And on top of that, it wasn`t only the fact he didn`t take the affirmative act and file the form but when he was asked by the Department of Justice in September 2016, as to what his role was with the Ukrainian government, he lied. He blatantly lied, made up a story, affirmatively stated that he wasn`t acting as an agent for the government which was totally bogus but yet it fit into his whole pattern of lies to conceal the $75 million that he wasn`t reporting on his federal income tax returns.

MELBER: And as you know, sometimes the most important things prosecutions are not the famous things or the glitzy things. This is certainly a relatively obscure law and yet Manafort got busted for it. Mueller is using it and may use it again. What do you take from these cases?

JOSH ROSENSTEIN, ATTORNEY: Well, FARA is an interesting law because it is obscure but as you said in your opening piece, it`s not unprecedented. And this is almost a textbook example of a FARA violation. Usually, you see these sorts of cases brought in several circumstances. First of all, cases involved enemy nations or nations that aren`t particularly friendly. Secondly, you see FARA violations or FARA charges being brought conceivably as an adjunct to other financial crimes. And third, often time you see them as part of broader investigations into political activity. So this fact pattern here fits exactly with the type of case that we could expect to see a FARA charge brought under. The other thing that I would say briefly is and I said this is almost as textbook and example as you can find of a FARA violation. You know, Manafort`s lies just compounded the issue.

MELBER: Right. Let me -- let me hit that point with you because this is a prosecutor testifying before Congress about this and saying one reason it`s rare is because they need to as you put it, find the lie, find the willfulness. And that doesn`t always happen. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM HICKEY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: In most cases, we don`t have indications of willfulness. Meaning we don`t have indications that the individual is deliberately choosing not to register but aware of their obligation. And in that case, we would send a letter of inquiry and solicit more information. However, if we had indications that the agent was acting willfully, it may be more appropriate to go directly to a criminal investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s a very mild-mannered way of saying there that if they think someone is lying, they will go send in the feds. Do you think based on what`s been exposed about Mike Flynn, and him failing to register, that he has exposure?

ROSENSTEIN: I definitely do. I think the fact pattern that you`ve seen reported about Mike Flynn is almost a parallel to what we`ve seen with Manafort and Gates. You have the pattern of lying, a pattern of doing political activities on behalf of foreign governmental entities which are clearly contemplated and clearly require registration under the statute and yet a willful misrepresentation of those activities and an attempt to evade the reporting obligations.

MELBER: Nick.

AKERMAN: I think this is absolutely appropriate. I mean, what Mueller has skillfully done with this indictment is really to sort of weave the whole pattern together. Not only lies to the government, not only lies on the FARA, not only lies on his IRS returns but also lies to his accountants, to his attorneys. I mean, Mueller has blocked out every single defense that could you possibly raise to these charges. I mean, if you put these charges together, this is a slam-dunk. He`s gone.

MELBER: Yes. And you look at those old cases and you say, it takes a lot but it can happen. And then you see the issues around money laundering and sanctions and there`s certainly a lot to work with so it`s a very interesting law. We may be hearing a lot more about. Nick Akerman, and Josh Rosenstein, two experts, thank you. Tonight -- I appreciate it. Ahead, Donald Trump inventing his own reality with these denials about the Access Hollywood tape. I`m going to speak to the man who has been around Trump and dealing with his exaggerations for decades. The Co-Author of The Art of the Deal, now a Trump critic is here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Now on that big story about President Trump denying what he said on the Access Hollywood tape and what he previously admitted, we turn to a Trump critic who knows the man better than most. Tony Schwartz who Co- Authored The Art of the Deal and is now donating new royalties from that book sale to immigrant rights groups. Tony, what does it mean when Donald Trump says the thing that he apologies for and admitted he said was maybe a hoax.

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, THE ART OF THE DEAL: That he`s decompensating. That`s a psychiatric term but what it means in simple terms is he`s losing his grip on reality. His reality testing is really poor and I believe that`s exactly what`s going on.

MELBER: You have known him for quite some time. You collaborated in a way that is unusual. He`s obviously no stranger to the media but in a lot of bites that he tends to he exert control over. In your relationship with him, and you have this sort of break because you wrote the book but you guys are not on the same team, to say the least, you were around him in more settings. When you see Donald Trump today and when you see what he`s saying that is false, is it about it what you saw then or do you see a change?

SCHWARTZ: No, there is a pretty dramatic change. He is more limited in his vocabulary. He is further from, as I said, this connection to what is factual and real. He is more impulsive. He is more reactive. This is a guy in deep trouble. And one of the problems we have right now is that we`re not very sympathetic to the psychological and to the psychiatric community but that`s who we need to be talking to right now. We need to be -- we need to be really bringing in psychiatrists to -- because this is a man who is deeply mentally ill. And literally, for example, I know that two different people from the White House or at least saying they were from the White House, have called somebody I know in the last several weeks to say, we are deeply concerned about his mental health. That`s --

MELBER: Wait a minute. You`re saying you have knowledge of people calling from a White House line raising that question? Why would they do that? How do you know that?

SCHWARTZ: I know that because I know the person that they called and this is a person who I absolutely trust, who has great integrity, and this is also, by the way, confirming, I think, something that Vanity Fair wrote in a different context about the concern in the White House. I believe there are people who are concerned. Most of them, I think, are hostages to a cult leader. When you watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders right now, you really feel as if you`re watching somebody who is being brainwashed or has been brainwashed. But there are some people who recognize what`s going on in the White House. And all of America needs to understand that this is a person who is now exceptionally dangerous because he is losing his grip.

MELBER: What was as your understanding the objective of the people allegedly making those calls?

SCHWARTZ: I think to get help and advice in how to deal with someone who no longer seemed to be connected to reality.

MELBER: They`re afraid.

SCHWARTZ: Oh, absolutely. Terrified.

MELBER: It`s -- well, you`re breaking some news. I want to play some of Donald Trump from the 80s, the older Donald Trump who you knew then.

SCHWARTS: Younger Donald Trump.

MELBER: Younger Donald Trump you should say. You`re right. Here he was on the "TODAY SHOW."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, Jane, I love what I`m doing. I`ve built up one of the greatest companies and I`m very proud of it and there`s probably nothing like it. And I`m very proud of what we`ve done and I`ve been able to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The demeanor there also strikingly different.

SCHWARTZ: Strikingly different. I mean, listen, what happens to a person who`s under the kind of pressure and threat he is. And I believe what accounts for that is Flynn`s imminent flip or apparent flip, willingness to tell the story. Because I believe what`s causing his decompensating at this level is his belief that they are going to get him on Russia. I think that there is a very good chance that Mueller has that, as you`ve been saying, has that evidence and I think Trump is terrified of that. So he is both striking out and he is deflecting, and he is in a survival state. I`ve said this before but he is in a state of fight or flight in which you lose the capacity to reflect, you lose the capacity to think rationally and logically and you simply lash out and react in an attempt to defend yourself. And what he is defending himself against is an inner sense of emptiness.

MELBER: It`s fascinating given that you have spent more time up close with him than most independent analysts. I have to note that you`re not a doctor and neither am I. What you`re reporting on and what you`re saying is alleged calls made by people at the White House which itself is newsworthy even if a lot of these questions remain to be adjudicated. Tony Schwartz, as always, thank you for your - for your time. Coming up, Jay-Z speaking about President Trump in a personal and powerful interview and Reverend Al Sharpton is here to break it down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you like?

OBAMA: You know, I got to admit, lately I`ve been listening to a lot of Jay-Z, this new American Gangster album.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you like about him?

OBAMA: You know, it tells a story and you know, as Jay would say, you got flow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He got flow. Today one of Barack Obama`s friends and most famous endorsers is speaking out about Trump in more detail than ever before. Rapper and businessman Jay-Z campaigned for Obama, sat on the stage at his inauguration and even rapped a poem about Obama the campaign used as a re- election ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z, AMERICAN RAPPER: For too long we were excluded from the American dream. And now we have a chance to be a part of the American dream, that we have to make history happen. So that young lady right there, maybe she can be President one day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, Donald Trump did not get a Jay-Z endorsement and that was actually on his mind the day before he won when he was telling supporters, he could draw crowds without celebrities like Jay-Z.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We don`t need Jay-Z to fill up arenas, you know. We do it the old- fashioned way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Jay-Z now on tour for his new album which doesn`t focus on Trump. But today he spoke out on Trump in a video interview with the Editor in Chief of the New York Times joining a growing chorus of cultural leaders confronting Trump. And Jay-Z said Trump is forcing a reckoning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z: The great thing about Donald Trump being President, is now we`re forced to have the dialogue. And now we`re having the conversation on a large scale. He`s like provided the platform for us to have the conversation. Again, back to our President, you know, what I`m saying? Like you would think, man, after the composed manner in which Obama stood at that podium with dignity he brought to that place, that this couldn`t exist but it does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It does. The Times also asked about how racism operates after Obama.

JAY-Z: Yes because all he could do is the best he can do. He is not a superhero and it`s unfair to place unfulfillable expectations on this man just because of his color.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: One of those unfulfilled expectations was that breaking a barrier which Obama did would mean that all barriers fall. Now today, Jay-Z argued that if it feels like there is more racial strife today, it`s not only because Trump could cause it all, it`s that his election revealed a lot of it. And to make that point, Jay quoted Kanye West who once rapped about racism evolved since his mother was protesting at a lunch counter sit-in. He said at the tender age of six, mom was arrested for the sit-ins. With that in my blood, I was born to be different. I hear new music and I just don`t feel it. Racism is still alive, they just concealing it. A line Jay invoked today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z: Yes, there was a great Kanye West line in one of the songs he said, racism is still alive, they just be concealing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So beyond politics and race, there`s something else important here. Jay-Z talking about addressing pain in his marriage and why he says men have to cry. It`s a theme he explores in his new album, a bookend to one of Jay-Z`s most beautiful songs the 2002 ballad Song Cry where he raps that his immature pride prevented him from letting the tears come down his eyes and so he would let the song cry instead. And today, Jay-Z drew the link from that 15-year-old portrait of a young man hiding to his own self- portrait today of a father crying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z: This is a song called Song Cry. And the idea of the hook never seen it coming down my eyes, but I got to make the song cry. It tells you right there what I was hiding. And the strongest thing a man can do is to cry, to expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the word, that`s real strength.

MELBER: I`m joined now by the Reverend Al Sharpton, of course, Host of the MSNBC`s "POLITICS NATION," President/Founder of the National Action Network and also a man who of course worked with Jay-Z on social justice issues. Rev, what Jay-Z are we seeing here today?

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: I think you are seeing a very mature and self-confident Jay-Z, who is reflecting for the country where we are. Jay- Z had access to President Obama and never lost his access to the streets. And I think that he can look at Donald Trump and look at this era a lot differently than many celebrities, because of that kind of span of accessibility that he has enjoyed.

MELBER: I want to ask you about what you just said because Jay-Z`s work has always been political but it`s rarely electoral. So he has songs about Don Roy Henry killed by police in Chicago and songs about economic issues in the inner city. What does it tell you that today when he speaks out about Trump, he speaks out about what he calls larger racism in America under girting this and not only focusing as so many people do on the man Donald Trump?

SHARPTON: See because I think what a lot of us felt that because Donald Trump was a northerner, that you don`t have bias and bigotry here. You know, one of the first things that I became known for was leading the marches in Howard Beach, Queens where Jay-Z was a kid. Jay-Z is about 12, 13 years younger than me. We grew up in a climate where there were set of neighborhoods you couldn`t go in New York, not Alabama.

MELBER: As an African-American man in New York.

SHARPTON: As an African-American man in New York. Young men was killed for going through Howard Beach. That was only about three miles from where Donald Trump was born and raised. So Donald Trump comes out of a northern urban kind of a process where blacks couldn`t go in certain neighborhoods. It was accepted. His father then had to settle a racial housing discrimination lawsuit. And Jay-Z was a kid growing up under that in Brooklyn. So we were never deceived in the north that there was some gap or that the problem was down south but people never saw demonstrated nationally. They did in New York under certain mayors, but they didn`t see it nationally until Donald Trump came in and now we say wait a minute, people up north acting like that. I mean, when you combined his Islamophobia, his fights with black women, his continue -- his obsession with the (INAUDIBLE). This is who he is. This is what we always had to deal with here.

MELBER: Now, you are on the new album as well when Jay-Z says Al Sharpton and the mere taking selfies, how is him or Bill Cosby supposed to help me? Your response to the verse.

SHARPTON: Oh, well, I`ve been at a few of his, he did a thing years ago about I`m going to call on Trump to do something. I mean, he was advertising to me but I think this week I went to see his prodigy (INAUDIBLE) I think that we all laugh about everybody wants you to help them. And I try to do my part. And I think that a part of the problem is when you see young artists, this happens to be one of his Meek Mill that is in jail for in my opinion an egregious decision by a judge. I think you answer with your actions and I`m glad that Jay and others look for me to be there to help them and get on me because I was working out there for them.

MELBER: So you`re saying -- yes, you`re saying he might joke around in some of the lyrics but you guys are working together on the big issue?

SHARPTON: We work together on the issues from time to time. I respect his artistry and we work together. He stood with us with Trayvon, he stood on other things. In fact, he did -- hosted a fundraiser when I ran for President. So Jay-Z and I would -- you can take a shot at me anytime he wants.

MELBER: Reverend Al Sharpton, such a great expert voice to have on this -- on this interesting conversation. Thank you so much. And of course, watch "POLITICS NATION" Sundays, 8:00 a.m. Eastern on MSNBC. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Thanks for watching THE BEAT tonight. And by the way, I`m curious, what did you think of Jay-Z`s interview there with the New York Times and his comments on Trump. You can let me know on facebook.com/thebeatwithari. I will respond to some of you on Facebook. I promise. That does it for our show. I`m back 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. "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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