Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: December 29, 2017 Guest: Richard Painter, Liz Plank, Shelby Holliday, Chuck Nice, Nick Ackerman, Maya Wiley, Howard Fineman
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening.
2017 is wrapping up and this is the final edition of "the Beat" for the year. And what a year it has been. So folks, cue the music. No, not that music. Although I will say we have a special callback Friday tonight with fallback nominee since for the whole year. But we actually begin with a very special report on the one force that has boxed in Donald Trump`s first year in office unlike any other administration in history, a report on Bob Mueller`s Russia probe.
And in a moment, my special panel tonight will explore what Mueller taught Trump this year and why he is not done for 2018. You will notice two of our favorite lawyers there and our favorite journalist who has a law degree.
My first question though is what did Bob Mueller teach Trump about the republic this year? And as part of this report, I want to begin with a quick tour of the key moments that turned the Russia probe from a few suspicious moves from the ides to a federal probe encroaching on the west wing itself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Under siege from day one. National security advisor Michael Flynn is out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flynn, they say, had lied to the President and vice President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn`s resignation is not the end of the story. It is merely the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Moments ago, Sessions held a press conference announcing that he is recusing himself from any investigation involving the Trump campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump has fired James Comey as director of the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just heard from a former FBI official describe this as shocking as quote "insane" and questioned whether it could amount to quote "obstruction."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did President Trump pressure Comey to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope that you can let this go. Now those were his exact words? Is that correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Legislative agenda Republicans who have been absolutely derailed by this President in the trip, trip, trip.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, HARDBALL: The U.S. justice department named a special counsel to investigate the possible role Donald Trump`s campaign played with Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The special counsel investigation into Russia`s election meddling has entered a new phase. Robert Mueller has (INAUDIBLE) a grand jury.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first indictments in Robert Mueller`s investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The indictments of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his right hand man, Rich Gates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what it looks like when you follow the money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guilty plea by a third advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
MELBER: It is October 30th, 2017. Mr. President, call your lawyer. It is bombshell coming on day 315 of the Trump presidency. Mike Flynn admits he lied to the FBI about Russia and he will cooperate.
TRUMP: I don`t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We will see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a tree falls in the forest question. If the President issues a pardon, do we have to know about it?
MELBER: Joining me now is Howard Fineman, the national director for have the "Huffington Post," Nick Ackerman, former Watergate special prosecutor and the school`s Maya Wiley, former lawyer for the mayor of New York City.
Going to go around the horn with a question. What has Bob Mueller taught Donald Trump this year that he may not have known and anything else more widely you want to reflect on 2017 and everything we just, starting with Nick.
NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I think what he has taught of this that we don`t live in a dictatorship. Because you are the President of the United States doesn`t mean you decide who is going to be prosecuted and who is going to be investigated. We live under the rule of law.
Despite the President`s firing of James Comey, despite his efforts him calling people both in the Congress and in the national security agency, to stop the investigation into a Russian conspiracy with the Trump campaign, the investigation has continued. People have pled guilty. They have been brought to justice. And this is something that I don`t think Donald Trump had a clue about before he became President.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER LAWYER FOR THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I would absolutely echo that. I would say that we are a democracy. And not even the President of the United States is above the law. And that our arms of government, including the U.S. department of justice, is an independent arm, because its job is to uphold the laws oh of the United States, not to uphold the special interest of a particular President.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, Donald Trump came into the White House dragging this blossoming controversy behind him, and it hasn`t left him and it`s not going to leave him any time soon. His people told him it would be over by this year. It is not going to be over. I think it`s going to last at least one more year, maybe longer.
And the reasons are others have said, people have been indicted, people have decided to cooperate with the investigation. And I think that looking at two things, the obstruction part of it is going to be more political, and I think in the end more difficult for Bob Mueller because of the campaign that`s begun and will be continuing to discredit James Comey. The collusion part of it I think is where the money is and where the real controversy will be in the next year.
MELBER: And Howard, you cover so many administrations. There is a fair argument that inexperience, especially when it comes to Washington, can be good for a President. As you know, a lot more candidates have gotten into that White House saying they don`t like Washington or they don`t know Washington than the opposite argument. Senators rarely leave their hollowed chamber with a ticket from the American people to the White House. And yet Donald Trump went further to that. He didn`t just say he didn`t know Washington, he said he didn`t know the constitution. He didn`t know how the government works. He didn`t know much of anything. I mean, he really ran on that.
Speak to how that may have backfired for him because it seems that the person more responsible for the appointment of Bob Mueller, which has haunted this whole year, is Donald Trump more than any other individual in the world.
FINEMAN: Well, I think that`s spot-on, Ari. I think he had no concept of the ball game he was getting into coming to Washington. In New York, he was used to throwing his weight around in real estate development, used to somewhat, you know, fungible and expandable or contractible legal situations involving zoning or lawsuits or bankruptcies or whatever where he could really push the system and ignore the system.
Not here. At least not so far. He`s -- his own ignorance is actually the deepest challenge to the constitutional order into the rule of law here. And he has tried to make a virtue of it. But it`s been disastrous. It`s his ignorance that led to the special counsel to begin with, especially the dramatic firing of James Comey. And the same to Lester Holt on our air, that he did it because of the Russian investigation. Donald Trump in essence was in a way admitting to obstruction of justice on national television.
FINEMAN: Now the question is whether that will be politically muddied by the effort to discredit Comey. That is the White House`s strategy to get out of Trump`s own ignorance is all about.
MELBER: Right. And the other point, Maya and Nick, that comes up so often is though Donald Trump won`t criticize Putin. He will criticize everyone but Putin. I think this year amends that. He will criticize everyone but Putin and Bob Mueller which is extraordinary when you think about it. Now there are other efforts just Howard mentions by people who are empowered by Trump, who work with or for Trump who are attacking Mueller.
But I`m going to show a lot of the comments he has made this year. He is unusually careful when asked about this one powerful man. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you sought or thought about or considered leading the dismissal of the special counsel? Anything that Bob Mueller could do that you would send you in that direction?
TRUMP: I haven`t given it any thought.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you considering firing Robert Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to fire Bob Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of events?
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that --?
TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you.
TRUMP: You are passing noted to the special counsel Bob Mueller. Can you talk a little bit about what`s the --?
TRUMP: They are investigating something that never happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you would ever consider having Mueller removed?
TRUMP: Well, I hope he is treating everything fairly. And if he is, I`m going to be very happy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert Mueller, do you think he should recuse himself from?
TRUMP: Well, he is very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome.
MELBER: Nick, you know it`s harder for him. You know it`s hard for him in every one of those interviews -- for him, that`s holding back.
ACKERMAN: Well, he is not holding back. He has got other people doing this for him.
MELBER: Doing the dirty work.
ACKERMAN: Doing the dirty work, sure. Look at the latest example with these GSA emails. I mean, that was the most bogus public relations effort you could see. It`s so transparent. If they really had a problem with Mueller obtaining these GSA emails, they would have gone into court. They would have filed papers. The reason they can`t is because they don`t have a leg to stand on. There`s no privilege. There is no executive privilege.
MELBER: But let me push you on this. There is a difference here -- I`m not saying whether it`s good or bad because I don`t think it is much matters what a client says. But in this case, they have gotten this valuable, loud, undisciplined client, the President of the United States, to avoid taking the bait in those questions. I mean, if those questions were about just about anyone else, Jim Comey, Jeff Sessions, Democrats in Congress, we would hear a lot more than. Well, I`m not thinking about it.
ACKERMAN: But the reason he is doing that is because he has others doing it for him. He has members of Congress doing it. He has got this group from the transition committee that is making up this bogus PR from with the GSA emails. He has got other people beating that drum. That`s why he is holding back. He doesn`t have to say anything.
WILEY: Yes. And Ari, you pointed this out on previous shows. It`s also the way FOX News will be the mega phone for those positions. And I think the thing is he is actually learning that he really is not above the law. And he has something to fear from the obstruction of justice charge.
I would disagree with Howard on that one point and that as a matter of political theater it may appear that way, but from a legal standpoint, he is extremely vulnerable on the obstruction of justice. He has publicly admitted to it essentially. He is learning he has got to curve that. So I think it`s much more about strategy and finally listening to his attorneys than anything other than -- and maybe realizing that he can`t directly fire the special counsel.
MELBER: Let me get to Howard rebuttal on that. I mean, Howard, as you know, anyone who has seen a police procedure who knows it can take a long time and a lot of interrogation to get someone to confess or in Donald Trump`s case, it was why did you fire Jim Comey and he said Russia?
FINEMAN: Well, as they say, he said it on television. I think he is aware of the fact that firing Comey is one thing. Firing Bob Mueller might be another. I`m not arguing that he`s going to do that. I think he will pardon some of these people who have been indicted possibly. And I also think that Donald Trump thinks in his own mind that he did not collude. That there was no -- in his mind, that means a phone call to Putin saying OK, let`s do this deal.
I think Donald Trump is convinced that they don`t have that kind of thing on him. So that`s one reason why he is holding out hope that ultimately Mueller might possibly exonerate him. But anything short of that he is going to do. And I would insist that the obstruction case, if there is one, is more complicated in the context of impeachment and trial in the Senate.
Donald Trump is fully aware of the fact that one number, and that`s 67. That is the number that would be needed to convict him in the Senate. He doesn`t think they can get there on the obstruction charge, I`m sure, because they are going to continue to politicize it with his people to attack Mueller, to attack Comey, to attack the whole and to assert that Donald Trump was perfectly within his power as President to fire Comey.
FINEMAN: That`s going to be their argument.
MELBER: Collusion is if they are going to make the case in the House and the Senate for impeachment and conviction, in my view, it`s got to be on collusion. And that`s why this is going to take another year.
MELBER: Everyone stays because I want to get to that. You mentioned the pardons in the future to that. We have a lot more. There are legal fights against Trump in 2018.
And also, remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re saying it`s a falsehood and they are giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Alternative facts. Remember that? Remember the women`s march? We are going to look at the resistance from the courtroom to the streets, which helps explain where Trump is headed next year. And you might not want to miss our Beat highlight, we have the reporting, the interviews, the fallback, the bad jokes. I have got it all.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching a special edition of "the Beat" on MSNBC.
MELBER: Every President has power in the courts, but few have faced as many legal setbacks in year one as Trump with big cases that could be resolved in 2018. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the travel ban case in 2017 and could reach the court next year. The military transgender ban is under fire, DOJ reviewing how to fend it. And former Trump aides Paul Manaforts and Rick Gates facing trial for money laundering, part of the wire Russia probe.
Personally, Donald Trump also faces a court battle, a defamation case brought by a former apprentice contestant. Trump came into the White House as the most litigated person to ever enter the office, with a lot of experience giving depositions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don`t have any glasses. This is small writing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t email and I observe that`s because you`re a very smart person.
TRUMP: Yes. We figured that. Took a lot of people a long time to figure that out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you said you think you would have gotten additional business, additional compared to what?
TRUMP: I think my running for office potentially would have helped him opposed to hurt him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The panel is back with me.
I`ll start with Nick Ackerman, who didn`t forget his glasses for this interview. If I talked to you the way Trump talks in depositions, you could barely hear him. I mean.
MELBER: It is different Trump.
MELBER: What is that about? What is that strategy?
MELBER: The strategy is to try and play stupid, to try and forget as much as he can about what the real facts are and to basically deflect. I mean, that`s what he does. He deflects what`s going on. He has lied about this whole conspiracy between the campaign and the Russians, right from the beginning. And we keep finding in this past year, that low and behold in April of 2016, he was fully aware of the emails that were hacked out of the DNC through Papadopoulos.
The June 9th meeting occurred at Trump tower with his son. And you can`t tell me for a second that his son didn`t tell him what happened at that meeting with the promise for dirt on Hillary Clinton. We also have right after that meeting, Roger Stone goes out, he is dealing with Gucifer 2.0, who publishes those stolen emails. And then when those dunk gain traction, you have Roger Stone dealing with WikiLeaks, who then publishes a whole slew of those emails just before the Democratic convention and just at the time that videotape comes out with Trump on the bus.
MELBER: And everything you are referring to is called evidence.
And Maya, that`s the big difference, not only on Russia, but an unusually active first year with travel bans, with immigration, with ethics suits and we are going to have one of those lawyers later in the show. What you see is the President who, out of the courtroom, has really stretched and broken -- they talk about breaking the internet, you know, if he get enough lights. He has broken some of what the press does. And if you are purely a cynical political operative, you sat great, that`s a win. Fact checks don`t matters much. You care about facts, you care about the country, you care about the Republic that might bother you. And yet that doesn`t work as well in a courtroom when there is rules of evidence. Talk about that in the cases of say the travel ban or immigration which are still are coming.
WILEY: Well, absolutely. And it actually relates for the conversation we were having about the Russia investigation, which is Donald Trump comes into Washington, doesn`t understand the law, doesn`t really seem to care about it very much, and then makes a lot of public statements, for instance on the travel ban, where he has the statements that link him directly to anti-Muslim views and a view that he is actually trying to keep Muslims out of the country. And that for civil rights lawyers is pretty much a smoking gun in similar ways.
MELBER: Well, let`s dig into that, right. Because what`s so important about that is, it`s not searching someone`s heart. I mean, we are talking about race this year and it`s difficult. And I hear to people all the time to say, hey, can I say something without being accused of being racist, right?
This isn`t that though, is it? This is how did you build this immigration policy? And if it was, as you campaigned on, targeting religion, if you can prove that, and this is going to be litigated next year more so, the Supreme Court traditionally has said if you can prove that, it goes out the window because you can`t just target a religion or race.
WILEY: That`s right. And that`s why they tried to amend it by adding Venezuela, for example. But as a matter of law, if you try to fix something by covering up your racial discrimination, it`s still racial discrimination. So the fact that you harmed other people in addition, and even in those instances, it`s still pretty clear that they were trying to target Muslims. And it`s bad policy, you know.
At the end of the day, if we are trying to protect the United States, part of what we are examining is, are you actually formulating a policy that is actually advancing the interests of the country and certainly security is one of those interests. But you don`t need it by just taking a whole population of people and branding them as an enemy of the state.
MELBER: And Howard, I mean, this is something that is so important that can get lost. Everyone understands the politics of immigration and they are complex. And by the way, I made this point before, plenty of Democrats have demagogue on the politics of immigration. I don`t see it so much as a partisan issue as looking if whether the stuff is real, right. Are we trying to get security or is it demagoguery? But in this case, talk about what it would mean if Donald Trump`s first big loss before the Supreme Court next year would be a full narrowing of that now famous travel ban.
FINEMAN: Well, I think if that were to happen, it would be that Supreme Court making a statement about what kind of country that we are. That America is, that is different from the one that Donald Trump is formulating. He said in his final cabinet meeting of the year that America stands today as a different country in the world. I thought that was actually very profound statement by the President, whether he intended it to be or not. It will be up to the Supreme Court whether that different kind of country is one that fits with the constitution, and with our conception of ourselves as a people.
Sometimes the Supreme Court is required to make a very big statement about who we are as a society. They did it in Brown versus board of education. They did it in the -- in the -- in many other cases. This is that profound, because it feels with how we present ourselves to the world and how we see ourselves.
And by the way, the polls show that a majority of the American people don`t like the ban. They like us to be open to the whole world, and that`s the President`s political challenge.
MELBER: Yes, that whole statue of liberty thing.
MELBER: Some people feel that way.
MELBER: I will say this because we are wrapping on this special part of our year-ender. It`s pretty hard to launch a TV show. I found it very difficult. I am indebted to the producers who work so hard on this show. And also indebted to our regulars. And the three of you have been such a voice of expertise and thoughtfulness during a busy year.
Thank you, Howard. Thank you, Nick. Thank you, Maya.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
ACKERMAN: Thank you.
WILEY: Thank you.
MELBER: Thank you so much.
We are going to fit in a break. But I have a lot more ahead. Those ethics questions I mention, Richard Painter is in the building. And yes, a year- ender fallback. Remember that robot guy? Terrifying.
Also, later, some of the best moments that have happened on "the Beat." The interviews, the arguments, even some hip-hop, all of that straight ahead.
MELBER: Donald Trump brought more conflict to the White House than any president in history. Remember those files he was showing when he outlined his White House business plan?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERI DILLON, TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: The conflicts of interest laws simply do not apply to the President or the vice President, and they are not required to separate themselves from their financial assets. He instructed us to take all steps realistically possible to make it clear that he is not exploiting the office of the presidency for his personal benefit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But it wasn`t clear to everyone. Trump`s hotel in Washington, a magnet for foreign officials and ethics sued. Then Trump doubled the cost of Mar-a-Lago membership. And that, of course, the cabinet. Six cabinet members have been investigated for misusing your money, your tax dollars for private travel.
I`m joined by White House ethics chief Richard Painter, who served under President Bush and is filing a lawsuit against Trump`s hotel in Washington.
Richard, you have been busy in a bad way this year, by which I mean your ethics group and others have had to keep up with a whole range of conflicts. Taking all at the end of the year, what have we learned and what are you seeking to stop as we headed in the next year?
RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, what we have seen in a President who has more financial conflicts of interest than any other President in history. And a Congress that won`t do anything about it. Won`t do anything about his financial conflicts of interest. Won`t do anything about their own, including their campaign money.
We have Democrats who will throw out a senator I think on paltry evidence of sexual misconduct, but retain another senator who has been indicted for bribery for over a year. We have Republicans who will defend President Trump`s financial conflicts of interest, including his violations of the United States constitution, which specifically prohibit any person holding a position of trust with the United States government from accepting any profits and benefits from dealings with foreign governments.
And it`s not just about the hotel rooms and the ballrooms at the Trump hotel. It`s about the financing of his real estate empire. We have no idea where he is getting his money whether is in dollars or robust or any other currency. Congress doesn`t bother to find out because Congress, they are happy and obsessed on sex. When it comes to money, they all put their head under the table and they don`t want to talk about it.
MELBER: You put it well. You make a great point. I think a lot of members of Congress are gun shy, because on the gradations here, they spend a lot of time fundraising. They talk to same donors. And maybe they are worried about where a real cleanup operation would go. Because I know it does, as you say, hit both parties, and yet it`s so vital.
The other issue is what lawyers call a case of first impression. And that`s what your constitutional suit probably is, right? I mean, you know this better than anyone. The courts have not had the opportunity to rule in great depth on the emoluments clause because no other president of neither party ever saw to try to break it like this.
So what does that mean for you? Is that good news because you get a clean swipe at this in the courts or is it bad news because you don`t, to be honest, have a lot of precedent to prove whether the hotel and the other things are a violation of the foreign gifts.
PAINTER: Well, we don`t have the legal president in the courts. Of course, we have not had this president, of course, with any other President or senior office holder who has accepted profits and benefits from foreign governments.
We hope to succeed in the courts. There are other lawsuits, as well. One more sought by members of Congress who are not consulted about these unconstitutional profits and benefits from foreign governments even though the constitutions specifically says that consent from Congress is required. And a third lawsuit brought by the Attorney General of the state of Maryland and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia. So we`ll see how those suits proceed. But once again, the emoluments clause ought to also be enforced by Congress. And when it comes to money, and money and politics, whether it`s emoluments or campaign cash or super PACS and the rest of it, members of Congress of both parties want to duck and that`s not acceptable.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Right. And as you said, we think about the year ahead. The courts having to rule on that clear language in the constitution, that says if you want a gift from a foreign government, Congress has to approve it, and there obviously good reasons for that when you think about what it means to owe North Korea or owe Russia. So Richard Painter, you`ve been on the forefront of this. A lot of people know you from seeing your T.V. appearances. Of course, I know you as well from reading the briefs that your ethics group and others have cited and we`re going to follow your case in the New Year and a happy new year to you, Richard.
PAINTER: Happy New Year, Ari.
MELBER: Coming up, the movement and political moments that showed what America really was at its core in 2017. I have a new panel on that. And some of the moments from THE BEAT, the debates, the interviews, the dad jokes, all of that on our special edition of THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Welcome back to this special edition of THE BEAT. We turn our focus now to some of those big moments in 2017, moments that changed the entire national conversation. I`m joined by Liz Plank from Vox, Shelby Holliday from the Wall Street Journal and Comedian Chuck Nice. He`s nice man. We start with the Women`s Marches. This was of course right after Trump`s inauguration. According to The Washington Post estimates, this was the largest single-day demonstration in American history. Think about that, 500,000 in D.C. alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA STEINEM, JOURNALIST AND SOCIAL POLITICAL ACTIVIST: The Constitution does not begin with I, the President, it begins with we, the people.
SCARLETT JOHANSSON, ACTRESS: Let this weight not drag you down, but help to get your heels stuck in.
AMERICAN CROWD: My body, my choice!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those who are abusing their powers, that is what I am here today to march against.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a nasty woman!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We go right to the panel. Liz, what did those protesters and leaders teach us this year?
LIZ PLANK, SENIOR PRODUCER AND CORRESPONDENT, VOX: Well, they taught us that they`re here to stay and the women are leading the resistance against it, you know, this current administration. You know, I`ve been to a lot of marches and protests, I covered this one for Vox, and I can tell you, this was unlike anything I`ve ever seen or experienced in my life. So you know, we started 2017 with women creating the largest protest in U.S. history, in modern U.S. history. We ended the year with the #MeToo movement, with black women in Alabama turning that state, and also you know, we have all these data from EMILY`s List, from women who are not just interested in running, but actually you know, taking the steps to change government and have more women represented.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, POLITICAL AND BUSINESS REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That`s what is so amazing, a year later looking back at this. It transcended politics. It attracted this transactional solidarity. We saw marches all over the world and it also really was a catalyst for change. In just one year, everything you mentioned, look where we are. It gives me the chills to watch into those sound bites too. It`s just -- it was a moment that had you known where you would be in a year, it just seemed unthinkable. It was an incredible moment. And everybody said, if they went to that march, they had never felt anything like that.
PLANK: History. Yes.
MELBER: And Chuck, you think about this, there are people who came to this and said oh, wow, look at what women are saying or look, we`ve discovered these problems in the workplace. And yet in reporting on this, what we hear from so many women is other people are having a Christopher Columbus moment like you discovered this? People live here. People live with this every day.
HOLLIDAY: Funny but not funny.
MELBER: Yes, funny but not funny. No -- but people live with this every single day, and there has been a pressure on people, and explicitly on men, though this movement that started with the march and continues with #MeeToo to say we all need to be involved in this.
CHUCK NICE, COMEDIAN: Yes, I`m just really -- I mean, everything you said is absolutely correct and I just feel that I`m a little crest fall on that the only person -- not the only person, the primary individual that should have been affected by this I`m sure it had no effect on him at all. I`m sure that that person looked at all of those women there and went, only I can move this many women like this. Like -- so you know, that -- to me, that`s the saddest part of this event. Those in power right now did not look at this and say, well, this is a seminal moment in our country`s history, we should do something.
MELBER: Well, and yet you speak to where it`s going which is the old famous saying power conceives nothing without a demand. And we heard it from the women on that day, we`re going to make power respond, we`re going to make not only listen but react, which goes to the other big thing in 2017. This was, of course, the year that the phrase both sides became a shorthand for "moral equivalence." Many issues, by the way, do have two sides, but that`s not how American leaders typically discuss white supremacy rallies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. I think there`s blame on both sides. You look at - - you look at both sides, I think there`s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it, and you don`t have any doubt about it, either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NICE: I`m sorry, it is sad, but it is also hilarious, that the leader of the free world has to be taught. So let me clear it up for you, Nazis are not fine people, ever. OK, I`m glad we got that out.
MELBER: Well, Shelby, one of the other most disfavored terms from the year that I hope we can leave 2017 was the year, the day, the moment that Donald Trump became President, which is referred to when he would give a (INAUDIBLE) or normal speech. But let`s flip that and say that was the day that America had to reckon with the kind of president we have, and for anyone who thought the birtherism crusade was just a gimmick, or what was said on the campaign trail was just campaign talk which is often the last defense of scoundrels, this President said on that day, as Chuck just said, there were good people at the white supremacy rally, and nobody in the Republican Party and leadership in Congress wanted to co-sign that, because that is a reprehensible claim.
HOLLIDAY: But I think what -- that alone is important, but the fact that he doubled down on it and continued to double down on that just spoke volumes of who he is as a president and a person. I think since then, we`ve seen a lot of interesting things happen at the ballot box in races where African-Americans are showing up in larger numbers than they usually do.
MELBER: Oh yes, more than Obama.
HOLLIDAY: And this also comes after -- right -- this also comes after you know, the uproar about the protests, the national anthem protests and basketball players over in China, and a number of racial issues that continue to be surfaced by this President. We are seeing this at the ballot box. And if you`re a Republican right now looking into next year`s midterms, you`re probably a little worried about this.
MELBER: Yes, you`re worried about this and you`re worried about whether people are getting the real goods, the real facts on it, because if they are, it can turn off a lot of people, a lot of moderates. A lot of people regardless of what party they happen to be affiliated with which is the third thing I want to get you guys on. You know, Liz is always quoting drake, who said, what`s that, facts? And facts have become a huge point of contention in 2017. A time when we have more information about this, more internet fact checking available, but also in the first hour of the Trump Presidency this year, this should not be forgotten. You had Sean Spicer using his very first briefing to attack the media with a very misleading claim about crowds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way in one particular tweet to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the national mall. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was followed up by a term which captured a new approach to propaganda in Trump`s America.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Don`t be so -- don`t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What -- you`re saying it`s a falsehood and they`re giving -- Sean Spicer our Press Secretary gave alternative facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Alternative facts.
PLANK: How many times have we seen that? Yes, I mean, it`s become -- alternative facts have become a synonym for this idea of fake news which Donald Trump has been you know, spouting since before he was even elected. And I think the biggest -- one of the biggest scams of the Trump administration is making fake news the problem of the media, when in fact the media is actually, you know, constantly, as you mentioned, using fact checking using incredible sourcing. I mean, we could talk about it all day, all the great source that have come out in 2017 when they`re actually responsible for a lot of truth and disproving the falsehoods.
HOLLIDAY: Yes, but what`s scary, is that`s actually working. I mean, there are Americans out there asking how do we really know if Russia meddled in our election or what -- how do we know how big the crowds were? So that strategy has worked for this administration, and those comments from Sean Spicer are preceded comments from Jeff Sessions who said he couldn`t recall any contacts with the Russians to the dispute with the wife of the slayed soldier and what Trump said on a phone call and I mean, nobody ever -- nobody ever apologizes. Nobody ever says, my bad, I got it wrong.
MELBER: Right. But it`s working and it`s failing because more than most administrations they`ve seen first-year departures of the National Security Adviser and the Health and Human Service Secretary, or the Drug Czar and a host of other officials because primarily all these officials because primarily of facts that were reported. I want to fit in a break here but you guys will be here.
MELBER: Shelby always does that.
HOLLIDAY: I have one more thing.
MELBER: Coming up, a look back at some of my favorite moments on THE BEAT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: For a dollar, define collusion.
BILLY EICHNER, COMEDIAN: Oh, God. It`s when you collude.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And with our panel tonight, a special edition of "FALLBACK FRIDAY." That`s up ahead.
MELBER: -- "FALLBACK FRIDAY." You know the music, we gave you this experiment last year unsure how it would go, even I was skeptical at first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Now, who needs to fall back on this Friday? We have a new segment on THE BEAT. You may like it, you may not.
Now, this should be really good, unless it`s really bad.
Yes, we`re back by popular demand. OK, maybe not really, but we are going to do "FALLBACK FRIDAY" again.
"FALLBACK FRIDAY" is here, a segment that always goes well except when it doesn`t.
It`s "FALLBACK FRIDAY," a segment some people love, some people dislike, and some people don`t even understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Yes, well, we`re honest about what this is. Chuck, you were on our first-ever "FALLBACK FRIDAY." Here`s that moment.
NICE: Oh, well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You`re here for our maiden voyage.
MELBER: Well, let`s skip the music, we`ll do the music.
NICE: I feel like I`m about to solve a crime right now.
MELBER: Should this full segment fallback or should we do it again?
NICE: You know, what, I say move ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Thank you for that encouragement.
HOLLIDAY: And here we are.
MELBER: And here we are.
NICE: There you have it.
MELBER: For the whole year, who needs to fallback?
NICE: Oh, here we go. I`m going to go with fast food trends, OK, because there have been some this year that are quite disturbing starting with Burger King Flaming Mac and Cheetos. It`s basically like when I say it, I can actually feel a shooting (INAUDIBLE) at my arm and tightness in my chest but it`s basically a mozzarella stick covered in what they call flavor dust, which to me sounds like code that you would use with your dealer when you decide to make a hey, man, you got that flavor dust. And in the middle, you see the frork because McDonald`s felt as though the spork wasn`t stupid enough, so they made fork which is a fry-fork.
MELBER: It`s hard to say.
NICE: Hard to say and --
PLANK: (INAUDIBLE) with a utensil.
NICE: That`s what I`m saying. So make a stupid name and trip all the fun out of eating French fries. That`s what McDonald`s did there. And last but not least, yes, Taco Bell with the Firecracker Burrito. Oh, yes, because Taco Bell clearly does their food development when they have the munchies which is fine except you`re high.
HOLLIDAY: I know where I`m going next time I drink. I want to try into those things. All right, sorry to steal your spot right here. My fallback, LaVar Ball. I know that`s going to make some people mad but he`s the father of the basketball players, he got in this tiff with Donald Trump. He has made everyone angry this year, from LeBron James to Charles Barkley. It`s not just about Trump. The Lakers had to enforce a LaVar Ball rule as you can see because he`s talking to the media and causing too many problems. He also blamed UCLA coaches somehow for his son`s shoplifting in China. Then he took his son out of school to all together and sent him to Lithuania and said it was a good decision because it was his decision. I mean, the guy, he`s trying to sell really ridiculously expensive shoes as ridiculously crazy big baller brand. The dude just needs to fallback. I can go on forever.
MELBER: And if people want to tweet you, what is your handle again on Twitter?
HOLLIDAY: @shelbyholiday. I`m happy to argue.
MELBER: @shelbyholiday, let her know what you think.
NICE: I`m with you thought. He`s the -- he`s the Joe Jackson of basketball.
HOLLIDAY: He`s everything that`s wrong with sports and I agree.
MELBER: Liz, who needs to fallback this year?
PLANK: I mean, look, I also have a very controversial pick which I`ll get a lot via line four but male rompers.
HOLLIDAY: You go, girl.
PLANK: RompHim is apparently the term that we`re supposed to be using. I think you know, men have everything. Like men have power, influence, they`re equally represented -- overrepresented in Congress. Can we just have rompers? Like can you just --
MELBER: You get to keep rompers.
PLANK: Can we just keep rompers?
MELBER: Can we see those photos again just to let that really sink in at the end of the year?
PLANK: Does anyone else agree?
NICE: I`m just saying --
MELBER: That`s a onesie.
NICE: I want to hang out with all those guys.
MELBER: That`s a onesie.
PLANK: If you`re going to take a romper, don`t like appropriate it and call it a RompHim, just call it a Romper. Like, embrace your femininity.
MELBER: My Executive Producer Dan, who`s a big part of the show this year by the way just said we`ve got to go, we`ve got to go. And I thought a little more time for the rompers can`t hurt. We`re going to do what you want to stay in for is next. This is my favorite thing. We have our most memorable moments from this show all year, next.
MELBER: And now for our highlights from this show. We launched THE BEAT halfway into 2017, which is quite a time to start a news show. Our producers put together some of the most newsy, iconic, and memorable moments plus a few dad jokes.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: The fact that a foreign government would interfere in our election should trouble all of us.
SEBASTIAN GORKA, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: There is no Russian connection.
MELBER: Do you think President Donald Trump may have to ultimately testify?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: He absolutely may have to testify.
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: These stupid investigations, it`s like dangling the shiny object saying hey, look at it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were attacked by the Russian government. The problem is that that isn`t a crime.
MELBER: Our coverage of this deadly attack in New York City does continue right now.
Washington is completing funding for one hurricane while bracing for another.
JOHN RICH, MUSICIAN: He didn`t attack country music. He attacked America.
MELBER: Displaying Khodorkovsky in a steel cage.
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY, EXILED RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN: I was knifed in the face while I was sleeping.
MELBER: 56 days for left for children`s healthcare unless our Congress acts.
The President blocked you, what do you want to say to him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 32 million people will lose their health insurance.
MELBER: Do you think that former felons or ex-convicts like yourself should have the right to vote?
DAVID WOHL, DONALD TRUMP`S CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: The media isn`t covering what he accomplishes, the media jumps on him for every little thing --
MELBER: David, you`re on the show right now -- you`re on the show right now with the media.
Mark, do you still think transparency would be inconvenient when it might actually protect our elections?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re shifting the blame and the shame.
NIKKI SIXX, MUSICIAN: I say that to a lot of addicts, that you know, it does quit until it quits working.
MELBER: Thank you for being here.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Congratulations on the scoop man, I`m super jealous.
MELBER: With Russian jokes are we supposed to laugh or cry?
KHODORKOVSKY (through translator): With nearly all Russian jokes you laugh through the tears.
MELBER: A lot of important stories there. We also this year had some fun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ari, we are totally psyched. Good evening.
MELBER: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate that. Good evening.
This is what a honey badger presidency looks like.
RICHARD LEWIS, COMEDIAN: Look at your outfit. You look like you`re trying to sell me a casket.
MELBER: There are a lot more people who don`t know your show. Fact.
EICHNER: OH. Thanks, Ari. It Sounds a lot like your show. Trust me, I wanted to do Maddow. I wasn`t asked.
D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: Any dude that does a comb-over like that lies to himself all the time. No, I`m just telling you.
MELBER: Katie, I`m just going to say, I thought that was hashtag an interesting segment.
As we always say at this time, I will see you later alligator.
STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: after a while crocodile.
MELBER: I didn`t know we were doing this. I would have brought my mariner`s hat.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: For what?
MELBER: I don`t know if you ever listen to reggae or Peter Tosh. He had a famous song Legalize It.
GEORGE WILL, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: No, I have not.
MELBER: It`s about us. It`s about trust is what I remember.
You`re not shouting out Bill Kristol?
I`ve seen Bill Kristol on T.V. but I don`t know -- I don`t know him like that yet.
MELBER: Hey, Bill -- hey bill, we don`t know you like that.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I`m speechless. What can I say?
MELBER: I am not got to talk it because I live it.
Anthony Scaramucci is a studio gangster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob Mueller is like a -- like a diver with huge lung capacity.
MELBER: It could explode into a full tsunami.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To borrow a rap lyric, he said don`t hate the player, hate the game.
MELBER: Is Mike Flynn this jellyfish?
You didn`t just bring a leather jacket, you brought receipts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what I do.
BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Without talking to this guy is like doing Hamlet without hamlet.
MELBER: The hamlet, of course, raises the issue of all the Denmark sanctions in that play. Just a sanctions joke there, Brian. Yeah.nothing.
And Seth, we don`t just report anything on the internet. Also, it would take too long because it`s big. There`s so much on the internet. Internet joke, quiet panel.
She wasn`t interested in searching for explosives. So now she`s moving on to other things, Rev.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Well, she might have found something more interested to sniff.
MELBER: Katie, all I can say is this is why I watch.
Kamala Harris is --
HARRIS: Almost done with this interview.
MELBER: Do you want to end on a slow handshake?
EICHNER: That`s very slow.
MELBER: Real slow.
EICHNER: Very, very slow.
MELBER: Like almost you want it to end.
EICHNER: That is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And if you want 2017 to end, that`s happening. Lightning round, 2017 in one word.
PLANK: Eyeroll emoji.
MELBER: 2018 as we look ahead in one word.
HOLLIDAY: Can I say started from the bottom now we`re here?
HOLLIDAY: I don`t know where but we`ll be here.
NICE: Turnout. And I don`t mean like getting drunk. I mean really, turnout, damn it! Vote! What`s wrong with you! Vote! Do it! Vote! Get turned out!
HOLLIDAY: OK, fine, you win, you win.
MELBER: Someone`s got the mid-terms on his mind. Liz, Shelby, and Chuck, thanks for being part of this show all year. Thanks for being here tonight. Thanks for our team that puts together THE BEAT every night, everyone at 30 Rock, and thanks to you at home for giving us a chance. We`re a new show and we`re glad you watch sometimes at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Have a very happy New Year.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: 12 months of Trump. Let`s play HARDBALL.
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