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Congress lets children's health care expire Transcript 12/20/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Margaret Carlson; Christina Greer; Joy Vance; Ted Lieu; Max Boot

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: December 20, 2017 Guest: Margaret Carlson; Christina Greer; Joy Vance; Ted Lieu; Max Boot

[18:00:00] CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MEET THE PRESS: He can go from Bush to McCain back to Reagan if you`re doing the old Houston to Phoenix to Washington. And then don`t forget, you can throw in a Bob Hope or a John Wayne if you are going to California. Anyway, it is very cool. We look forward to senator McCain flying nonstop back to Reagan.

That`s all for tonight. We will be back tomorrow with more in MTP daily. "The Beat" with Ari Mel starts right now.

Now, good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck.

And quickly, if I`m not mistaken, you probably been on McCain`s fair talk express during your reporting days.

TODD: I believe I was on the - yes, it was, the 2008 version.

MELBER: 2008. So, straight talk in the air, in the airport terminal, wherever it is. A nice honor for John McCain.

TODD: Nice honor. Absolutely.

MELBER: Thank you, Chuck.

We begin our show tonight with breaking news on the Russia probe.

Within just roughly the last hour, the top Democrat on the Senate Intel committee marched to the floor with a warning for President Trump. Do not remove Bob Mueller. A marked contrast to the other action you see on your screen in Washington today which was at the White House, where Republicans celebrated the new tax law with President Trump.

Senator Warner clearly felt some reason to make this speech tonight. Now, he has never put it this starkly on the Senate floor. He told the President, removing Mueller is an abuse of power and every senator must stand against that together.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I believe that it is up to every member of this institution, Republican or Democrat, to make a clear and unambiguous statement that any attempt by this President to remove special counsel Mueller from his position or to pardon key witnesses in any effort to shield them from accountability or shut down the investigation, would be a gross abuse of power and a flagrant violation of executive branch responsibilities and authorities.


MELBER: As for recent White House denials about any plot to remove Mueller, Warner said Trump`s history surprised Senate colleague on Jim Comey and they must draw a line.


WARNER: I`m certain that most of my colleagues believed he wouldn`t fire Jim Comey either. These truly are red lines and simply cannot allow them to be crossed.


MELBER: Red lines. And that just happened about an hour ago on the Senate floor.

You may know about the context here. This speech comes after controversies over right wing media talking of, quote, a coup against Trump this week. A discredited plot about assassination that was floated on FOX News and then this. The stern responses from justice department veterans like former attorney general Eric Holder who warned, there is an absolute red line and called for a massive resistance if that red line is crossed by removing Mueller.

Now if you don`t follow news every day, no, this situation and tonight`s floor speech is unusual. Especially since Mark Warner has worked with the Republican chair of the intelligence committee on a pretty bipartisan approach to the Russia probe. If do you follow the news, you probably noticed this rising tension around this Russia issue.

Because at first, for months this year, team Trump was stressing that they were cooperating with Mueller. They shared the view that the President did nothing wrong and would ultimately be vindicated. White House lawyer Ty Cobb says that all the time.

And then in the past, I would say by my count, seven to ten days, these attacks on Mueller have migrated from the comments section of Breitbart to the top of conservative media right over to the halls of Congress. Now people concern about the rule of law, the people who are closest to this Russia probe, like Mark Warner and Eric Holder, people I should mention there reporting on them, these people aren`t really known for big angry emotional tirades. They are not known for these (INAUDIBLE) tweets. These are the people tonight speaking out right now.

I ask you, what do they know?

I`m joined by Congressman Ted Lieu as well as conservative Max Boot who work for several Republican presidential candidates as well as former federal prosecutor Joy Vance.

Congressman, I go to you. I don`t recall your colleague in the senate Mark Warner ever giving a speech on the Russia probe like the one he just gave about an hour ago. What is your view of it? And why now? What does he or others, what do they know?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, Senator Warner, I commend him for making that speech. He is seeing the same thing that that we are seeing here which is a concerted effort by President`s allies to try to smear Robert Mueller. And it goes from Kellyanne Conway down to Republicans in Congress to conservative media.

And first of all, it is damaging to our democracy. It is also factually false. There are three leaders of the special counsel`s investigation. Rod Rosenstein, Robert Mueller and FBI director Chris Wray, they are all Republicans. And by the way, Chris Wray gave $39,000 in campaign contributions exclusively to Republicans. So this is not some sort of democratic special counsel investigation.

[18:05:01] MELBER: But congressman, you are pointing to all of these public attacks. Some of them may be unseemly. They may unnecessarily to give a kind of decay or erosion of public faith. But I want to be clear, people have the right to make those attacks. There is no right, as you know, to try to use the removal of a prosecutor to stop a lawful investigation. They don`t have the right to do that.

Is this just more noise? Or is Senator Warner and Eric Holder and all of these people we see speaking out right now respond to some sense, rumor or indication that we are on the precipice of something?

LIEU: So there are rumors but I can`t corroborate those rumors. But keep in mind the special counsel is getting closer and Robert Mueller would not have done a plea deal with Michael Flynn to go get people under Michael Flynn. They would have done that plea deal to get people above Michael Flynn. There is only a handful of people above Michael Flynn and some of them are in the White House.

MELBER: Max, I want to play for you much of what we` have been hearing in conservative media.


SEAN HANNITY, FOS NEWS ANCHOR: The special counsel of Robert Mueller`s entire investigation. We now know tonight is one giant cesspool. It is full of corruption partisanship and unbridled bias.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fix was in for Donald Trump from the beginning and they were pro Hillary. They can`t possibly be seen as transparent or even handed or fair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, this investigation he`s heading, has become irreparably tainted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation was weaponized to destroy his presidency for political purposes. Now if that`s true, we have a coup on our hands in America.


MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, Ari, let me read you a summary, the best summary I have seen of what is going on here. There`s something profoundly demeaning and destructive to have the White House systematically undermine an officer of the justice department. When I watched these hacks on television, to be quite honest, I am sickened by how unpatriotically they undermine the constitution of the United States on behalf of their client.

Now that - you guess who that was? That was Newt Gingrich speaking in 1998 defending Ken Star from a tax from democratic partisan. And now Newt Gingrich and everybody else on the right is doing exactly what they attacked in the 1990s. And it is just as disgusting now as it was then. Because it is so offensive and experience to suggest that Robert Mueller, this American hero, a man who served his country in Vietnam, a lifelong prosecutor who doesn`t have a partisan bone in his body, is somehow guilty of a coup against Donald Trump, that he is some kind of partisan zealot. I mean, it is so far removed from the truth that the fact that so many Republicans are saying these things just a sign of how worried they are that in fact Mueller is getting close the Donald Trump.

MELBER: And Joyce, as a federal prosecutor, you understand how many lines are being crossed just in that rhetoric. I wonder what you thought of Senator Warner`s speech here. Again, honestly, I don`t want to sound rude or judgmental. But the thing you hear most about Senator Warner on these issues the last several months is that he is overly careful. That he prefers to do briefings with the Republican on the committee. He has not known, I just want to be clear for sounding off. And meanwhile, "the Washington Post" reporting that Trump, according to the White House adviser, enjoys these attacks on Mueller. In recent weeks, he has spoken to a number of FOX News hosts, Republicans lawmakers and others castigating Mueller`s team, the advisor said -- Joyce.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Senator Warner is well known for his restraint. And so the fact he came forward and made this speech on the floor of the Senate is very unusual. He said that it would be a red line if Mueller were fired or pardons were issued for witnesses in the Russia probe because they had uncovered so much evidence of linkages between the campaign and Russia.

What I think is heart-wrenching for man people on the Hill and many people who work in the justice department is watching this ping pong game like (INAUDIBLE) that is going on beyond some people in the media, some of the supporters of the President, with people, the real people in this country who have never worked in the justice department, are on the hill watching the back and forth and unsure, can they trust Bob Mueller? You know, has that back politicized investigation?

And what comes through is people like Warner, known for his restraint or career prosecutors, career DOJ employees. Even the Newt Gingrichs of the world who when Mueller was selected came forward and said this is someone whose integrity we can trust.

And nothing has really changed our ability to trust that integrity. That`s why Senator Warner`s speech is important. It is a good book end with the op-ed written former acting attorney general Sally Yates earlier this week where she said we live in a time where we can`t admire the core values of our democracy from afar. We all have to be prepared to engage and do what is right.

[18:10:06] MELBER: Congressman Lieu, Senator Warner clearly drawing this line here before you all leave town, but you are still leaving town. If there is in your view some action to undermine the investigation or to do something that in your view involve obstruction, what are you going to do? Are you going to come home -- leave home early? Come back to Washington or what?

LIEU: Ari, we are going to take to the streets? I believe American people see that Bob Mueller is going to be fired. They are going to the streets. And keep in mind, Donald Trump can`t actually fire Robert Mueller.

MELBER: Right.

LIEU: He has to fire deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and then put someone else in place to fire Robert Mueller.

MELBER: Well, is that exactly - you are referring to one path. I mean, the rules require that there is a finding of good cause. So either the person in-charge, which is right now Rosenstein has to find that, or you need to put someone in place who is willing to find that. And then that itself could become a legal controversy. Your point being that you don`t think today based on Rosenstein`s public coming, he is anywhere near going along with that kind of plot.

LIEU: Not only that. But Rosenstein said under oath before the House judiciary committee that there is no good cause to fire Robert Mueller and he would not do it.

MELBER: And what would you do if Rosenstein will remove? Would you try to call him before the Congress? I mean, people maybe two hours ago weren`t going there. But now that you have Mark Warner today on the floor saying this, people are starting to wonder, what`s next if this were to happen?

LIEU: We would take to the streets. We will try impeach Donald Trump. And look. If he wants to follow in the footsteps of Richard Nixon, he is welcome to try. But it would not end well for him.

MELBER: Max Boot?

BOOT: Well, I think that is absolutely right. And my concern here is that, yes, I`m glad Senator Warner is speaking out. My concern is where are the Republicans? Why aren`t the Republicans speaking out in similar fashion because this should not be a partisan issue? The United States was attacked last year. The Russians sought to undermine our election and we need to get to the bottom of it. And Republicans ought to be just as concern about it as Democrats.

MELBER: I mean, two points on that and then a final word from Joyce.

One is where are the Republicans? One of them, Congressman Gaetz who has been pushing against Mueller is going to be on "the Beat" tonight. We are going to depose him live. And Max Boot, you are going to be here for some fact checking as well involving that.

And two, we are going to hear also after the break from some of the Republicans who had what can only be described as slavish praise for their leader, Donald Trump, in an unusual event at the White House.

Joyce Vance, what do you think the career men and women in the DOJ where you served as a nonpartisan prosecutor for so long? What are they thinking right now in that?

VANCE: Everyone who works for the justice department takes an oath to uphold the constitution when they entered their tour of duty at the justice department. My expectation is that the career folks at the justice department will uphold that oath. That people like Rod Rosenstein and others will do the best that they can to continue that strong tradition and make sure that we see justice done in this investigation like they have over the years.

MELBER: Congressman Lieu, who I think made a little bit news of his own tonight. And very interestingly, your response to Senator Warner. And maybe we will all have a peaceful quite holiday. That is perfectly nice. If not, if there is news, I feel like I might end up working so we might the end up calling you if there is news.

Joyce Vance, thank you as always for your expertise. Max Boot is promised is on later in the hour.

Coming up, I have that live interview with the lawmaker taking on Bob Mueller.

Plus, Donald Trump actually made a revelation during his remarks on taxes today about Obamacare. I`m going to say why that matters.

And Republicans leaving town without acting on funding for nine million children. I`m going to speak to a mom who depends on that care for her two children.

Plus, Connecticut governor`s Dan Malloy whose state had to warn parents that this children`s funding is drying up. An important story as well tonight.

I`m Ari Melber. You are watching "the Beat" on MSNBC.


[18:16:59] MELBER: The other big story, Republicans passed their tax bill today. The first major legislation of the entire year. You would expect any party to take a victory lap over this kind of bill and use that lap to maybe explain what`s in it. But at the White House, every speaker was praising the President more than getting into the policy. At times, it felt like a marathon of fawning wedding toasts more than a legislative event.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump has been making history since the first day of this administration.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Something this profound could not have been done without exquisite Presidential leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, President Trump, for allowing us to have you as our President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to have to, everything I thought you would. You`re one heck of a leader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Donald Trump is a man of his word. He is a man of action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would not be standing here today if wasn`t for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to make this the greatest presidency we`ve seen, not only in a generation but maybe ever.


MELBER: Some of the most revealing comments thought came not from all of those shout-outs but when Donald Trump admitted something that I have to tell you we did report right here on "the Beat" earlier. It wasn`t just about taxes. Today was about gutting Obamacare.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With this bill, not only do we have massive tax cuts and tax reform. We have essentially repealed Obamacare. Obamacare has been repealed in this bill. We didn`t want to bring it up. I told people, specifically, be quiet with the fake news media because I don`t want them talking too much about it.


MELBER: Now ending this Obamacare insurance mandate could result in 13 million people going without healthcare. Then there`s kids. Congress got taxes done but Republicans control the calendar. And now they are going home for vacation before renewing the healthcare program that covers nine million children.

Also left undone, the infrastructure bill that Bannon promise this year, an efforts to reform lobbying which is as opposed to drain the swamp.

Taxes are all about math and math doesn`t lie. Today`s GOP Congress showed its priorities. Benefits for corporations come before children`s healthcare. And wasn`t always this way. Republican senator Orrin Hatch started this children`s health program. I have reported on that. Tonight, I also have to report that Orrin Hatch and Mitch McConnell are starting to end this children`s healthcare program. And it is all in the math which reveals more than the speeches and the tweets.

As (INAUDIBLE) taught us in the song "Mathematics," numbers is hard and real and they never have feelings. But you push too hard, even numbers got limits. Why did one straw break the camel`s back? Here`s the secret. The million other straws underneath it. It is all mathematics. And where does the math lead? Tonight, some Democratic aides are saying the math could be the key to winning back the majority next year.

With me now is NYU`s Christina Greer and Margaret Carlson, a columnist for the "Daily Beast" and a big (INAUDIBLE) fan. I know. I don`t want to book your spot, Margaret.

Christina, the mathematics.

[18:20:01] CHRISTINA GREER, FELLOW, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: First of all, I`m very good at math. And I`m proud to say that and this doesn`t add up. Legislation is a moral document. We know two things about this President. One, he doesn`t read. And two, he`s a liar. And so, we can look at this bill and know for a fact that millions upon millions of Americans will be devastated by this. We know that members of Congress are enriching themselves and their donors. We know that many of them will take early retirement and go make even more money. And so widening the inequality gap in the country to levels that we have never seen before. And then the next step is to sort blame the American public to say, now we need to figure out how to pay for these things.

This is most likely when Democrats will either regain the House or the Senate because the Republican will lose some seats because of this. We will feel the effects of this. And then the Republicans will try and go after Paul Ryan calls our entitlement which our Social security, Medicare, and other social welfare safety net programs that are actually keeping this country a float and giving us some sort of semblance of a democratic society, small d, democratic.

MELBER: Small d, I understand.

And Margaret, you have the President there bragging that he tricked everyone about hiding something that apparently why trick? Well, apparently if you announced that it was going to be Obamacare repeal, it would have failed like a lot of other attempts that failed in Republican Congress. What did you think of that moment of candor today?

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, he certainly tricked Senator Susan Collins but she may be the only person who believes the Alexander Murray bill that seeks to stabilize Obamacare is ever going to pass the House and become law.

MELBER: You are putting it so kindly. I mean, Senator Susan Collins cosigned under her own irrelevance here politically. That`s how I see it because if you want to get something, you get it before the train leaves the station.

CARLSON: It`s Christmas. It is holiday. So I`m trying to be kind and give they are benefit of the doubt. But it`s, you know, it is not going to happen. And, you know, suddenly, at some point, the deficit will matter again is that`s when everything falls apart as Christine said. They will cut Medicaid, they will cut food stamps, they will start being cutters again. But you know, you said numbers don`t have feelings. There is so much feelings --.

MELBER: Yasim Bay said it. I quoted him saying it.

CARLSON: Yes. I was quoting you quoting him. I was hoping would you sing it.

The feeling at the White House today, you know, there was a cabinet meeting earlier at which, you know, the cabinet members say how many they love Trump. You will remember Reince Priebus saying he was blessed to be there. I don`t know how he feels about that now.

But then in the Rose Garden, you know, it`s totally now Trump`s Republican Party. They have thrown in the towel and he is their leader. And as Orrin Hatch said, he could be the greatest President ever. I mean, the hyperbole was just amazing to watch. And -- but this may be the high point. This may be the happiest they ever are. Because the consequences of all these, as you say 13 million uninsured are going to come back to haunt them.

MELBER: And you talk about the haunting, Christina. These numbers I`m reading here obviously don`t price into it which just happened tonight. But you already have that huge Dem edge and who people want next year.

GREER: Well, 2018 is going to be I think will be a landmark year. We know we have unified government which means the Republicans control the House, the Senate and the presidency. If we look historically essentially from say FDR to the President, we can always see that there has been some flip- flop during the first mid-term election after a new President comes into office, right. And we saw Obama. You remember, they said he got shellacked, right. The Democrat got shellacking in 2010. And we are going to see this. Because, you know, there are a lot of people who support Donald Trump who, you know, let`s just take the racist white supremacist inside sematic wing of the party, right.

They can only hold on to whiteness for about so long. Pretty soon you are going to have to eat. Pretty soon you are going to realize that you need your home, you need you jobs, you need education. Then there is another wing who hasn`t thought about the math and they haven`t really thought about these documents. And they trust their elected officials who they voted for to send to Washington D.C. and make --. N

MELBER: And I have to fit in a break.

GREER: They sold them down the river.

MELBER: Well, and the bill, as we reported, is going to raise taxes on the working class people. They may not know that because they may have a different expectation. Well, sooner or later, that math does get done.

Christina and Margaret, thank you both.

Ahead from right wing media at the heart of the Congress, the congressman who started some of this Mueller fire joins me. And the Republican Congress was heaping that praise as we just discussed on Trump. But one conservative leaders wants you to be careful what you wish for.


[18:27:54] MELBER: Republicans effusively praising Donald Trump after the tax bill signature today came in. Some conservatives though have warn that this moment of unity has a steep cost, way beyond the Christmas present for corporations.

Conservative Max Boot warns that Trump`s broader failings as a leader can`t just be ignored over this or that policy that you like saying if you want the tax cuts and the judges, you have also signed up for the quote "racism, misogyny, a morality lawlessness, derange tweets, and something even close to treason. He writes, Trump supporters own it all.

This is an argument with some real relevance to the Senate Republicans we have been covering who got behind taxes today after saying Donald Trump was unfit for office.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: You know, you would think he would aspire to be the President of the United States and act like a President of the United States. But, you know, that`s just not going to be the case, apparently.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become the countenance of telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.


MELBER: Max Booth is back, a former adviser to John McCain and Mitt Romney.

You vote how you vote in the Senate. I worked as an aide in the Senate many years ago. That`s part of their job. They can`t stop voting just because they don`t like the President. But they don`t have to go down to the Rose Garden and do what they did today. That lavish praise that was in some ways more reminiscing of what we would see and other countries around the world. What do you make of it?

BOOT: I think it is deeply disturbing. I mean, I don`t hold it against Republican that they want to pass a Republican agenda and that they seem Donald Trump as being an instrument of doing that. But what I hold against them is the fact that they averted their gaze from so much misconduct. So much - so many instance of shocking misbehavior that if it were committed by a Democrat, they would be screaming and hollering at the top of their lungs. And because it is Donald Trump, they just look away and refuse to say, refuse to challenge him. And they are letting him in sense he redefine what it means to be a Republican and a conservative in America in ways that I think are just shocking to me as somebody who grew up in the Reagan era. This is not the kind of Republicanism or conservatism that I signed up for. And I`m agas that some of the Republicans are willing to go along as Trumpism redefines the party.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And are their votes not enough? I mean, you can get behind and give him the key vote. But then you see Orrin Hatch going up there who -- what happened to Orrin Hatch? I mean, this guy is up there saying this Donald Trump Presidency could be the best Presidency in the world?

BOOT: Yes. I mean, clearly, everybody knows that you know, Donald Trump has a Kim Jong-un level of flattery that he needs and they`re happy to deliver it. And they`re basically willing to leave their dignity and their independence at the door. And that`s -- to me, I mean, that`s like maybe the least of the offenses they`ve committed because they`re averting their gaze from his attempts to obstruct justice by firing Director Comey and bad-mouthing Mueller. His refusal to come to grips to the fact that Russia has attacked us.

His refusal to even acknowledge that Russia attacked us last year, they refuse to come to grips with his unwillingness to unequivocally condemn white nationalists, His embrace of an accused child molester for the Senate. I mean, all of this stuff I could not possibly swallow this and they`re swallowing it. And I think that`s deeply unfortunate for them. I think it`s deeply unfortunate for the Republican Party and most of all I think it`s deeply unfortunate for this country because we really need a center-right principled party and we don`t have that right now. What we have is a cult of trump.

MELBER: A cult of Trump. And as you say, it`s a long way from a reluctant vote to principled opposition on certain issues to going to the White House like we saw today which was -- which was such a telling bout of fawning -- a bout of fawning, if that is not too ungainly a phrase. Max Boot, thank you as always. Up ahead, the 9 million kids who aren`t getting help from this tax plan. I`m going to speak to a mother of two worried about what happens when this CHIP funding runs out. And first, a top Democratic Senator warning Trump not to fire Bob Mueller. As promised, I`m going to interview a Republican who has a different idea.


MELBER: Senator Mark Warner making waves tonight with a big warning to Trump saying removing Mueller would be an abuse of power and calling in all Senators to stand against that prospect. It comes with attacks on Mueller hitting a fever pitch. One of the Republicans to first pick this fight on the House floor was Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz last month.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: I join my colleague, the gentleman from Arizona, in calling for Mr. Mueller`s resignation or his firing. It is federal law that even the appearance of a conflict of interest means that someone cannot engage in prosecutorial duties regarding allegations and investigations.


MELBER: Congressman Matt Gates right there. He used an incendiary word that has picked up some steam this week falsely claiming the Russia probe has link to a military coup.


GAETZ: We are at risk of a coup d`etat in this country if we allow an unaccountable person with no oversight to undermine the duly elected President of the United States. And I would offer that as precisely what is happening right now with the indisputable conflicts of interest that are present with Mr. Mueller and others at the Department of Justice, I join my colleague, the gentleman from Arizona, in calling for Mr. Mueller`s resignation or his firing.


MELBER: We invited Gaetz the next day on THE BEAT where he join me and he`s back live tonight. Congressman, thanks for making the time. Take a listen to Senator Warner`s stark statement tonight.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I`m certain that most of my colleagues believed that he wouldn`t fire Jim Comey either. These truly are red lines and simply cannot allow them to be crossed.


MELBER: Your response to Senator Warner and why are so many Republicans trying to preempt the outcome of this investigation, rather than let this former Republican FBI Director conclude his investigation and see where the evidence lands?

GAETZ: Well, if Mr. -- Senator Warner isn`t convinced now, I don`t know what it`s going to take. You got more than half the people in the Mueller probe who donated either to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. You`ve got Peter Strzok who was really central to the clearing of Hillary Clinton, then drafted into the Mueller probe. We`ve now learned that not only does he have an intractable bias against the President, he actually had an action plan to undermine the duly elected President of the United States you know, deeming himself the insurance policy in the great savior of the republic despite the fact that voters chose Donald Trump. You`ve got Nellie Ohr the wife of Bruce Ohr, one of the top officials of the Justice Department working for Fusion GPS, the very company that went and generated this salacious and unverified dossier on the President. So it seems as though everywhere we look, Ari, there`s bias and that bias converts to action that you wouldn`t be able to prosecute a case on in any circumstance.

MELBER: As you know, you`ve named several people who aren`t involved in the Mueller probe like the Fusion GPS stuff. That`s a separate matter but we`re talking about Mueller. When you look at the actual indictments, take Paul Manafort who`s now been indicted by the Mueller probe for laundering $18 million, for acting as an unregistered agent of a fortune government and for hiding all of that. Do you think that`s a valid indictment? Why would you be against Bob Mueller indicting this person and them having their day in court?

GAETZ: Well, there`s a real question as to whether or not there`s already been prosecutorial misconduct. I asked the question in the Judiciary Committee of the Attorney General, of the FBI Director, of the Deputy -- of the Deputy Attorney General, when did we find out that there were these text messages with Mr. Strzok who is central to both investigations --

MELBER: Sure Congressman, but I`m asking you a question -- I understand but I`m asking you a question about the Manafort indictment. Is there -- is there a good reason for the United States to pursue this case, which as you know, comes out of the Mueller probe, which has documented evidence of allegations of money laundering or is it your view that it would be better for America to not have that case proceed?

GAETZ: Well, I think it depends on when Mr. Mueller came -- became aware of these conflicts of interest that clearly infected investigation. If he knew that he had evidence curated by people who could never be witnesses as a consequence of their bias and then he used that to get wiretaps to arrest people, to muscle them into plea deals, then yes, that is prosecutorial misconduct. But I don`t know if that`s the case -- I want to make --

MELBER: So you -- but you`re -- I just want to get clear because there is so much discussion about people had a aren`t involved in the Mueller probe. But then you look at the case like this.

GAETZ: Strzok was involved. No, I`m talking about Peter Strzok, the very person who was involved in both the Mueller probe and the Clinton investigation.

MELBER: With regard to the attacks but the point is --

GAETZ: So this is not some stranger to the Mueller probe.

MELBER: When you look at the Manafort indictment, just to take a specific example, trying to understand as people at home go, well, if there`s evidence he laundered money, he should actually have a day in court like anyone else. Your view is he should get day in court or not? I can`t quite get clear on answer.

GAETZ: He should be treated like anyone else but any other person would be -- would be availed to the opportunity to have information disclosed to them, or to their attorney, if there is a witness, a fact gather, who would never be called as a consequence to the bias. So again, I don`t know the timeline on when Mr. Mueller learned about these intractable conflicts of interest. That`s why we`ve asked the question. That`s why we`re issuing subpoenas and it`s why the American people are going to get answers on how their money was used and who precisely was involved in gathering the evidence that`s been used against Manafort --

MELBER: Let me play for you as well, as you know -- as you know, Mueller is overseen by the Acting Attorney General for Russia which is the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Here`s what the White House said about his credentials.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Rod Rosenstein who everybody across the board has unequivocally said, this guy is a man of outstanding character and essentially the gold standard at the Department of Justice.


MELBER: And that is the Republican appointee who has stood by Mueller as recently has the week. What specific evidence do you have against Rod Rosenstein or do you just not like that he`s letting Mueller do his job?

GAETZ: I precisely asked Rod Rosenstein when we became aware of the Fusion GPS dossier and its link to Nellie Ohr, someone who had direct ties to the Department of Justice through her very own spouse, and he said he didn`t know the answer to that question. I find that completely inconceivable that Rosenstein would show up to the Judiciary Committee --

MELBER: What are you -- but what are you alleging? What is the evidence? I mean, again, you make so many charges against so many people. Anyone who watching the show would -- wow, you`ve discovered the hidden secret about all these names they`ve never heard of. But the question which you`re not answering -- hold on, hold on. The question you`re not answering right now, and you`ll get a chance to answer if you can on this live television interview is do you have specific evidence against Rod Rosenstein who has said Mueller is doing a good job who was appointed by Donald Trump, or is this sort of a secret conspiracy that goes out to these people you`re naming that we haven`t heard of and goes up to Bob Mueller and then it goes up to the Republican Deputy Attorney General but you don`t have anything on him? What is your specific concern about Rosenstein?

GAETZ: My specific concern about Rosenstein is that he was not forthcoming with information before the Judiciary Committee that we`re absolutely certain that he has. Come on, Ari, do you really believe --

MELBER: Are you accusing him of perjury?

GAETZ: I`m accusing him of withholding evidence that should be in the possession of the Judiciary Committee. And I don`t think that he purposefully lied.

MELBER: You don`t think he lied.

GAETZ: No. I think that he withheld information that would illuminate further conflicts of interest that would shut down the Mueller probe.

MELBER: So he didn`t lie -- so he didn`t do anything wrong.

GAETZ: I think he withheld information. I think that`s something wrong. That`s an indictment of his testimony before the Judiciary Committee. He was not forthcoming about the information he knew about the links between the people who were actually colluding with Russia --

MELBER: Which means what though? You`re alleging what? You`re not alleging -- again, there are so many things get said. And as you know, the facts are very important here and they`re important on this show. What are you alleging about Rosenstein?

GAETZ: He did not tell the Judiciary Committee what information we are certain he has regarding the nexus between people at the FBI, in the Mueller probe, and at the Department of Justice --

MELBER: And that means what? So you`re saying it is not perjury and it`s not withheld, but what are you -- I just -- so our viewers understand what your position is. What are you saying, he should be removed from overseeing the case?

GAETZ: No. I`m not saying that. I`m saying that we need to have -- we need to have subpoenas issued to get documents and answers so the American people know how their tax money was used and if their own government was working the subvert the very President they elected in a fair election. That`s what we need to know. That`s why we`re issuing subpoenas. That`s why Andrew McCabe will be giving sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee tomorrow.

MELBER: And Congressman Gaetz, what you learned from those subpoenas and what your committee and your colleagues continue to do remains of interest to us so I would be happy to have you back to learn about what you`re learning. And as always, I do appreciate you making the time to come on THE BEAT.

GAETZ: Always a pleasure.

MELBER: Thank you, Congressman. Coming up, Donald Trump celebrating the tax cut for the wealthy, but what about the children`s healthcare? Something we talked a lot about on this show. We have a very special guest on that next.


MELBER: This is not going away. The Republicans pass this tax bill today with major benefits for corporations. They gutted part of ObamaCare but there`s something we want to bring you tonight as promised. They also failed to renew a key health care program that covers 9 million children. Two top senators today saying Congress will they will try to pay for this CHIP program next year. No guarantees though. That means families will be going through holidays saddled with worries no parent should have to bear. Some states already starting to run out of funding and shuffling money around (INAUDIBLE) short term. By the end of January, estimates says, 16 states will be out of money for kids. Families in Colorado receiving new notices that insurance will be cut off. The concerns are widespread.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a mom, to not get help for your child when you needed is devastating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CHIP isn`t you know, if little Sally happens to break her arm or -- for us, to keep him alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think actually everybody would be outraged. It`s very important. Just as important as school.


MELBER: Those are real people. In a moment, I`m going to speak with more of those affected area. Ariel Houghton is a Pittsburg mother whose two children are covered directly through CHIP along with her family`s pediatrician. Pennsylvania, one of 16 states that would run out of CHIP money here by January. But first, for a policy view, I go to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy. Governor Malloy, Congress did claim they were going to act by this week. They are not. How is that failure hitting your state?

GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, we`ve started giving notice to the folks who have these 17,000 children in our state that this program will be out of money.

MELBER: You as a -- you as a state, you`ve had to start telling people you don`t think it`s going to work out.

MALLOY: Well, yes. We have to prepare them because there are steps that they can take to access potentially other avenues. But most of them won`t be able to do that. But -- so we`re letting everyone know that this program runs out of money on January, at the end of January. We`re going to cut off people coming into the program as of December 23rd. So we`ll take no new enrollees at that point or after that point. And this is 17,000 children who otherwise would not have access to health care, many of these children with chronic conditions. This is devastating.

And the idea that you have a bunch of people going to the White House to yuck it up and tell the President how great he is, but they`ve cut off 9 million children from health care, makes no sense at all. And by the way, where will these children end up? They`ll end up at the emergency room where some of the most expensive care is given to a non-reimbursed basis to the hospitals. It makes no sense. It`s bad for our economy. And to see people celebrating what they did today to give away $1.5 trillion to very wealthy people and then turn your back on 9 million children in our country in a program that is 20 years old is disgraceful and they should be ashamed of themselves.

MELBER: Yes. Strong words and I understand where you`re coming from, particularly when you look at the priorities revealed. It`s something that used to be bipartisan. This also though I think is starting to break through in the culture. This was Jimmy Kimmel talking about this very contrast you just discussed.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: I`ve had enough of this. I don`t know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children. Why hasn`t CHIP been funded already? If these were potato chips they were taking away from us we would be marching on Washington with pitchforks and spears right now.


MELBER: I know a lot of things are happening this year but have you seen late-night comics talk about CHIP and what it means you know, to people in your state?

MALLOY: Well, I think you`re talking about a special guy who`s taken his personal experience and applying it to the country and he`s to be congratulated for. Not this -- but I -- have you ever seen Washington in the state it`s in? Have you ever seen as your last guest was making up things and trying to throw aspersions on Mr. Mueller? Weird things are happening, but the weirdest one right now is they will not renew a program 20 years old that has saved lives, cut costs and kept families together. They won`t renew that, but they`ll give billionaires billions of dollars.

MELBER: And it is, it`s that stark. Governor, I know -- you know, I will say this. We talked to chief executives sometimes who say, well, they`ll only appear in interviews alone but when we mentioned to you that we wanted to also bring in some real people to the conversation you were very welcoming to that. I appreciate that. So as promised, I want to bring in Ariel Houghton who is mother of two children that are covered through CHIP as well as her pediatrician Dr. Todd Wolyenn. And starting with Ariel, both of you, walk us through what this means for your kids.

ARIEL HOUGHTON, MOTHER OF CHIP RECIPIENTS: Well, CHIP is a very important program for my family. I mean, what it means for me is that I know that I can take my kids to the doctor without having to pay a very expensive co- pay. And, you know, sometimes if you have to pay like $150, you ask yourself the question, like is my child sick enough to go to the doctor? And if you wait, sometimes that can be very dangerous for your child. Just like in my family, there have been two cases where waiting would have been very dangerous.

My daughter when she was two, she had a rash on her face and a fever, but nothing too -- like nothing too serious or grave. But when we took her to the doctor, they said that she had Lyme disease and had to be treated with antibiotics immediately, right? You know there is a certain window for treating Lyme disease and a similar situation with my son. I mean, he was only four days old and he seemed a little like tired. He wasn`t eating very well so, again, I just had this feeling that I should take him to the doctor, and I did because I could, right?

MELBER: Right.

HOUGHTON: And the doctor looked at him and said, he looks a little yellow. He might have Jaundice. Let`s get his hemoglobin tested and we were on our way home after his hemoglobin tested and the doctor called me and said, you have to go to the hospital right away. Your child`s bilirubin levels are very high and if you wait any longer he might have brain damage.

MELBER: Wow. And Dr. Wolyenn, can you speak to this in the planning process because it seems obviously counterproductive for Congress to do this in a way that adds uncertainty that otherwise wouldn`t be there.

TODD WOLYNN, PEDIATRICIAN: Yes, Ari, the uncertainty is the key. I don`t know what to tell families. Ariel and I have talked before and I don`t know what to tell them. Usually, if it`s a matter of getting help for a child that needs care for developmental issue or an acute illness or cancer, right, I have additional resources for families. CHIP is that fall back place, that additional resource. There`s no backup to CHIP. So, families that don`t make enough to have a good health plan, they make too much to get Medicaid, this is the backup plan. If you get rid of this, there`s literally nothing. I have nothing to offer her or any other family who says, what do we do now? I don`t know what to tell them.

MELBER: Governor?

MALLOY: Well, I mean, the doctor -- both of these people are spot on. What ends up happening in these situations, and clearly what was happening before 20 years ago when CHIP came about is people didn`t get treatment, their children got sicker and had very expensive treatment or died. Before this program, there were not these options. By the way, I want to be very clear that the vast, vast majority of people who are receiving this benefit are from working families, but they don`t make enough money to afford other policies.

MELBER: Right.

MALLOY: Now we`ll try to hook -- one of our things in Connecticut, we`re going to review everybody`s policy and try to give them options. But those options may very well be unaffordable for these working individuals.

MELBER: I just want to thank Governor Molloy and Ariel Houghton for telling your story because we want to hear -- we don`t want to talk about people, we want to hear from people involved in this. And Dr. Wolynn, thank you to each of you.

HOUGHTON: Thank you.

WOLYNN: Thank you very much.

MELBER: And we`re going to fit in a break here THE BEAT. We`ll be right back.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT. And a somewhat unusual night that began just before we came out to the newsroom with Mark Warner and giving an unusual address drawing a red line for the President coming into this holiday break warning him not to fire Mueller. The Trump Tax Plan, of course, passing today and Republicans celebrating that, their first big legislative win of the whole year. And I had a discussion there with a Republican against Bob Mueller and we had that conversation a lot here. Tomorrow we have a special breakdown on some new leverage Bob Mueller might have on THE BEAT but right now, "HARDBALL" is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Warner`s warning. Let`s play HARDBALL.




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