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Trump: I'm a "very stable genius" Transcript 1/8/18 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Daniel Dale, Laura Bassett, Allen Frances

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: January 8, 2018 Guest: Daniel Dale, Laura Bassett, Allen Frances

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." I will be on at 2:00 p.m. And "the Beat" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Ari I missed you.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Katie, I was going to say what I missed most. And I can`t say I miss all of work being away for a week. But what I miss most was these long pauses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love it. You know, I saw you earlier with the beard and I`m a little sad to see it`s gone.

MELBER: It is gone with the professional work environment. It is Monday evening. And I always try to dress for success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I encourage all of your viewers to go check out your Instagram so you can see Ari with a beard.

MELBER: After the show, sure.

Katy Tur, thank you very much.

Tonight, the country is hurtling towards something pretty significant, a potential pivot in the Russia probe. I`m going to explain why it is so important. But the headline is the potential testimony from President Trump himself. And the White House is divided between attempts to assert order and its slide into chaos.

First on the order side of it, tonight NBC News is reporting this interesting news, Trump`s lawyers negotiating with Mueller and FBI investigators about this interview, key questions, include whether Trump would be interviewed directly by Mueller. That is not always automatic. What the legal standard is for when a President to be interviewed. That goes to the Leverage in this fight. Where potential interview would take place, the optics can be hugely important. And of course, topics.

As for length, well, if you know Donald Trump, you know, it`s a key issue how long you negotiate for if you are interviewing someone who knows how to filibuster. The news revealing what I think is a proactive strategy here. They want to assert discipline over inheritably unpredictable Russia probe.

And yet at the same time there is the other story that everyone has heard about, chaos rocking this White House as former Trump aides turning on each other in the wake of what is now the number one book in the nation.

In the new interview today, that author, Michael Wolff, had a clear response to these new denials from Trump aides.


MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, FIRE AND FURY: They are all lying. I mean they are all, you know, they are in a situation - I mean, in a situation now where Donald Trump has come to think that this book is a mortal threat. I don`t know if it is or it isn`t. But he certainly feels that way. And he is making demands on everybody, you know. I know I hear through the grapevine, you know, that Katie Walsh`s job is at issue now and which I regret.


MELBER: That`s a reference there to Katie Walsh, the former deputy White House chief of staff. Her job at RNC is, as Michael said, reportedly in jeopardy. She was quoted allegedly saying that Trump is just like a child.

Also a new report that Trump`s official schedule is now shrinking rapidly because he is demanding more TV and twitter time at home. So Trump aides are fighting. And he is spending more time watching, well, the news and tweeting about the news all ahead of this potential interview with Bob Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, if Robert Mueller asks you to come speak with his committee personally, are you committed still to doing that?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Just so you understand, there has been no collusion. There has been no crime.


MELBER: Trump is also no stranger to these kind of legal proceedings. She has been involved in over 4,000 lawsuits. He is accused of discrimination, of cheating contractors. But he is also said in that context, he is quite comfortable with litigation.


TRUMP: Does anybody know more about litigation than Trump? OK. I know a lot. I`m like a PhD in litigation.


MELBER: It within a JD, not PhD, but you know, who is keeping track?

The big question, though, is not funny one. It is a serious one. How will this interview go down if it goes down and who will be making the ultimate decisions?

In a moment dig into that with Michael Waldman who is President Clinton`s chief speech writer, working in the White House during that crucial period when Clinton testified to grand jury. And he is a lawyer as well.

But I begin with another lawyer, former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance and Bill Kristol, founder of the "Weekly Standard."

Joyce beginning with you. Donald Trump does have this experience. I think people underestimate him and his lawyers at their own peril, if we are talking strategy. What do you see in this NBC News report about these negotiations?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: There are an awful lot of variables at play here. Although the government technically can subpoena the target of an investigation, assuming for a moment that the President is the target here, it`s really frowned upon. And typically it can only be done when U.S. attorney, in this that would be Bob Mueller, with Rod Rosenstein`s (INAUDIBLE) approval, it can only be done when those folks, as well as the grand jury, agree that it`s necessary, the only way to get this evidence.

So you have to really think through how unlikely the procedure is and how much more likely it is there will be some sort of negotiated accommodation. But it`s very risky for the President. He was on record last year saying he was ready to testify under oath. If he doesn`t come forward and do it now, the appearances to him will be extremely negative.

[18:05:22] MELBER: Right. And White House front here, Bill, John Dowd is saying something that is totally reasonable, I think. He says the White House doesn`t comment on the communications with special counsel out of respect for Mueller, the OSC, and the process. But the White House is continuing its full cooperation in order to facilitate the earliest possible resolution.

And you know, in a land, Bill, full of very loud aides constantly fighting as we have seen, this book remind everyone or lay bare yet again, you got these lawyers who are trying to sort of assert or pretend, your analysis that there is order here and there is cooperation.

BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER/EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: We just don`t know if the lawyers really are speaking for President Trump. I`m not lawyer. And I think never had to testify before grand jury. So I`m a little bit - I defer Joyce and others on this certainly.

But I would say this, thinking about it from John`s point of view. I don`t believe he is going to testify or I certainly believe he is not going to do it nearly as easily as people are saying.

He - I mean, he is going -- why has he been delegitimizing Mueller all these months? He has been setting up a situation where he can both discredit his final report because maybe fire him. But also, balk at doing certain things Mueller asks him to.

What in the book rattled Trump, who knows? But I think it could well have been Bannon saying, for sure is the - bad as being a little hyperbolic. Donald Junior walked the Russians up to the 26th floor, just to his father`s office. I don`t think Bannon knows or meant that he literally walked them up.

What Bannon is saying that he doesn`t believe for a second that Donald Trump didn`t know about that meeting either before or immediately after. Trump said he hasn`t. To the Air force one statement. I don`t think that Trump wants to be testifying under oath before Bob Mueller.

MELBER: Well, you are putting finger, Bill, on the important part of this. I mean, everyone knows tell-all books. This is not the first White House to experience one. But as you said, it may not be literal, right, in the same sense that he is not literally saying that Donald Trump Jr. is an egg with yolk inside. What he is saying, though, is that at point that Steve Bannon was feeling comfortable enough to make these claims, he obviously as insider also sees something big and important about the Trump tower meeting.

I mean, what you are saying Bill, is that what Bannon said is so concerning and matters not because embarrassing, not because it was critical but because it seemed to reveal or suggest there is a there there.

KRISTOL: And put it together with his behavior on Air Force One where he takes over and dictates a statement, a false statement, about his son when he could have easily stayed out of it. That tells me he probably thinks he had something he has been hiding. I think he prefer to keep on hiding it. I think he certainly will force a showdown at certain. He likely will force to show down with Mueller, say I don`t have to testify before you. Try and force me, and then I will go to court. They will have the usual arguments. As you said before, Joyce, that it`s pretty rare to actually subpoena the target.

So I don`t quite - I mean, it`s nice that Trump`s lawyers are sounding reasonable and everyone is looking at Clinton and Bush precedents but Trump is not approaching this certainly as President Bush or President Reagan. They don`t even really as President Clinton that he was pretty reluctant to testify but at the end of the day couldn`t -- didn`t feel he could get out of it.

MELBER: Right. And legally, there is grounds for a President to definitely put up a fight for debate over this. Clinton certainly did for some time and it also went to as we mentioned at the top, the terms.

Joyce, here is a little more footage that you don`t usually see that we dug up. This was Donald Trump sitting for one of his depositions and saying, you know, he knows exactly what the drill is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you state your full name for the record please?

TRUMP: Donald John Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I imagine you`ve had your deposition taken a number of times.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you know the drill.

TRUMP: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Won`t waste anyone`s time going through it.

TRUMP: Good, thank you.


MELBER: Good thank you.

And Joyce, what we see in - those depositions as well as we played before on "the Beat" is a much calmer, quieter and at times forgetful Donald Trump.

VANCE: Typically the smart thing to do when you are being questioned in a legal proceeding is answer only the question and give no more information than you have to give. A yes or no answer is great. But the distinction here is those depositions are civil proceedings. And now we are talking about a criminal case with an under oath testimonial process in front of a grand jury or with agents. And that could expose the President to criminal liability for making a false statement or committing perjury in front of grand jury. The stakes are a lot higher than they are in the civil deposition.

MELBER: Exactly. And that is exactly what I`m going to get into with Michael Waldman in a moment.

But before there, Bill Kristol, obviously, we have to make time for Oprah. And I know that you have been talking about Oprah. Let`s take a listen to what by all accounts I think across the spectrum people have said was important address last night.


[18:10:10] OPRAH WINFREY, TV ANCHOR: Many of the women, whose names we will never know, they are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and their academia and engineering and medicine and science. For too long women have not been heard for believed if they dared speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.


MELBER: Bill Kristol, reaction?

KRISTOL: She is an impressive woman. That was an impressive speech. And you know, I don`t -- half tongue in cheek encouraged her to run for Democratic nomination. But you know, why not. She is just a better connection I think with Middle American than Elizabeth Warren. She is more charismatic than John Hickenlooper or a lot these other candidates. She is has got more good sense on economics from my point of view than Bernie Sanders. She has actually extremely well. Come came up genuinely from extremely, you know, hard scrabble origins, and American success story. She is younger than Biden, Warren and Sanders, why shouldn`t she run?

MELBER: When you were saying she would be a great nominee or were you saying you would be open to considering voting for her?

KRISTOL: I don`t know her views on a lot of issues so I guess I`m more the former. I think she would be pretty formidable candidate if you just -- who knows if Trump is now celebrities can just run for President. In old days, they sort of run for governor first or senator. But with Trump, of course, all barriers are down. And can I honestly look at you and say that she is less qualified to be President than Donald Trump? I cannot.

MELBER: No. And that`s before we even get into "the bachelor." So a lot of room here on what is the expanding field.

Thank you both.

As I mentioned, I got President Clinton`s former speech writer, Michael Waldman with me. This is something you went through. Andin fairness to any White House, it happens to be Trump White House, which has brought new challenges, but in fairness in any White House, you guys did fight initially how and whether to do any testimony in what was then a grand jury proceeding.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, FORMER CHIEF SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON: That`s right. And remember the scandal, again, the Monica Lewinski scandal began when he testified in civil case. And he didn`t take it all that seriously. That is when he got himself into trouble.

As it unfolded over the course of the next year, he didn`t want to testify. But by the summer, it was clear that he had to. What was, at least, and it was stressful. There was always an effort at least in that White House to keep the business of government moving forward and have other people, fairly segregated group, deal with the legal issues and the controversy.

In the book Steve Bannon was wishing that they could do that in this White House. But saying for sure we lack the discipline and we have Trump. And so that is one of the questions is if instead of preparing mentally, the President is sitting in bed with cheeseburger and tweeting. That`s not really the way to get ready for something like this that helps the business of government go forward.

MELBER: And how do you think Mueller would pursue his case in that interview?

WALDMAN: In this kind of thing, one of the advantages in a sense that Mueller has, as Mueller knows what Mueller knows. Bill Clinton, I assume basically knew what Ken Starr knew. I bet that Donald Trump doesn`t really know for sure what Bob Mueller knows.

MELBER: Well, because Ken Starr`s best case scenario from his view as prosecutor was taking these contacts basically between the President and other individuals and finding something that was a crime or impeachable. Right?

WALDMAN: Right. It was really an effort to obstruct justice.

MELBER: Right. And so that basically meant what he did or didn`t do, alleged to have done with the people or what he did in the afterward in the cover-up, the proverbial cover-up. All of that I would observed touched or allegedly touched the President.

Here, we have a very different situation where you have all of these other questions swirling around the people about Donald Trump. And so did the campaign manager or family or others having contacts with WikiLeaks, with Russian operatives and people linked to Russia, what do they all know? So it`s possible that Donald Trump could end up in asymmetric situation. Right?

WALDMAN: And where he is basically a witness to the conspiracy to collude or break the law by the people who work for him. During Watergate, if you actually go back and look at legal jousting over the tapes, those tapes were seen as evidence in the trial of people like H.R. Haldeman. They were not sought explicitly to tie the noose around Richard Nixon.

Of course, once they were heard, they in fact did. And you know, you have got the potential problems with the campaign. You have the issue of obstruction of justice. And again, you could have a conspiracy to obstruct justice. But it`s pretty clear that if a case is to be made, that Donald Trump himself is in the middle of it.

And then there all kinds of other things, ancillary issues or issues with Russian money and financing of the business that Trump has to wonder what might be coming at him.

[18:15:11] MELBER: We are out of time. But other question I want to ask you as you been through so much of this is, do you remember Bill Clinton ever considering preemptive pardons during that period?

WALDMAN: I certainly never heard it. I would not have imagined it. Remember that one of the counts of obstruction of justice against Richard Nixon was that he dangled a pardon in front of the burglars. It is nonsense to say you could pardon anybody. It is in the constitution. That in of itself would be a constitutional crisis.

MELBER: And that Fascinating detail you just excavated.

Michael Waldman, always good to see you and learn from you.

WALDMAN: Little bit of trivia never hurt.

MELBER: Coming up, what the world does not about Ivanka Trump and the Trump tower meeting, we were just discussing. We got new details on that.

What do the experts take about this public debate on Trump`s fitness for office? I`m going to speak to a doctor who literally wrote the criteria on diagnosing narcissistic disorder.

And what was missing from Steve Bannon`s supposed regret apology to Trump? Well, for one thing, the word sorry.

And later, I am back from my trip and I have read Mark Zuckerberg`s New Year`s resolutions for Facebook ad I have a response. That`s later tonight.

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


[18:19:24] MELBER: There is a reason the 2016 Trump tower meeting keeps coming up and up and up. It was of course the first reported contact between Trump family members and the Russians. But it is also either just a random meeting with didn`t have much relevance as defense goes or as Bannon might say, it was treasonous.

Well, tonight, we can tell you about a new name that was at Trump tower around that time. NBC News reporting that the Russian lawyer at meeting said she ran into a woman she believed was Ivanka Trump as she was leaving. A source directly familiar with all of this says that woman was Ivanka Trump.

Another report says Mueller is interested in the encounter and wants to now re-interview one of the meeting participants and scrutinize that big statement that Trump made about the meeting. We are just discussing that before the break. It was of course the Air force one statement that Ivanka was there. And in "Fire and Fury," there is the quote that it is Miller and everyone on the quote "Javanka (ph)" side were now directly connected to actions involved in the Russian investigation or efforts to spin, deflect it or cover it up.

Ivanka arguably one of the closest advisors to the President, her father.


[18:20:29] TRUMP: I put my daughter Ivanka in charge. Man, she is terrific. And she is really, she is a terrific person.

I want to applaud my daughter Ivanka for her work and leadership on this issue.

Speaking of great people, I have my daughter Ivanka. Come on. I have my daughter Ivanka here. One of the biggest applause lines, it is true, I get is when I talk about my daughter Ivanka. I`m very proud of my daughter Ivanka, champion. She is a champion.


MELBER: Now I`m join by two analyst that need little introduction, Richard Painter and Matt Miller.

Richard, your reaction to this story.

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, this is one of the first times I have agreed with Steve Bannon on anything. This meeting was a betrayal of the United States to a foreign adversary. It doesn`t necessarily meet the constitutional definition of treason, which only kicks in when we are in a state of declarative war. But to collude with the Russians and the Russian government and the agents of the Russian government for purposes of gaining dirt on your political opponents and then apparently discussing sanctions, which is what this whole adoptions things was all about, which is the quid pro-quo, that is a betrayal of the United States.

And this is not an insignificant meeting. Very top people from the Trump campaign were at this meeting. Donald Trump Jr., Jared were there. This was an important meeting. And wow we hear that the Russian lawyer may very well have run into Ivanka Trump, we don`t know what was said. But this is a very serious situation.

And for the White House to just brush it off and say it was nothing is absurd. And Robert Mueller needs to take it seriously. And that`s why I think Donald Trump is so defensive about what Steve Bannon said because for once in his life, Steve Bannon told the truth.

MELBER: Well, you say defensive.

And Matt Miller, that goes to old southern saying, a hip dog barks. You know that saying. I mean, here we are two southern type of guys.


MELBER: Get out of here. You are from Texas? I didn`t know that. Where`s your accent?

MILLER: Sanded away.

MELBER: Over time, well, that unfortunate obviously.

This question that Richard Painter raised is of why there is this intensity. You know, I actually was out last week. And I came back, reading this book and (INAUDIBLE) reaction. And some of it is the usual gossip. It is interesting, it is news worthy, they are fighting over it but gossip, more or less. And then some of it is revealing.

Mark Corallo (ph) is not household name but he is someone you and I know as a guy who has done what you do. Had been communicator for these legal issues. And he was brought on to help. And in this book they reports that what Richard was just talking about, spinning that statement or playing is why he really walked away. Well, the cover story had been that is he was fired. You see it here, privately confiding. He thought that meeting on Air Force One was likely obstruction so he quit. And the (INAUDIBLE) as they put it said he was fired. Your reaction to that piece.

MILLER: Yes. Mark Corallo (ph), as you said is a very respected Republican communicator. He had a job I had at department of justice. He was the chief spokesman. And I think what you saw as -- when he was member of that legal team, the President`s legal team, he looked at that fact pattern and concluded it was obstruction of justice.

Now, I don`t think that Bob Mueller will be interested in Mark Corallo`s conclusion, but what he will want to know what facts Mark Corallo (ph) saw that led him to come to that conclusion. Was he aware of the President directing the statement personally, directing his team to lie? Because what they get you to is why was the President trying to conceal this from the American public?

We go back to the big underlying question about this meeting and about, you know, everything else we are learning, when did the President find out that the Russian government had derogatory information about Hillary Clinton? Was it in April when a member of his campaign team found out? Was it in June when son was told that by (INAUDIBLE) for the Russian government? Or was it actually in July when the Russians begin to leak that information out? That`s the big thing we don`t know the answer to and we largely don`t know the answer to because the Trump campaign and now the Trump White House have misled the American public about it consistently.

MELBER: Richard, do you think that Bob Mueller will find anything useful in the book or he looks at that as mostly cocktail party chatter?

PAINTER: Well, he will look at book I`m sure but he is not going to rely on the book. He will conduct his own interviews. And those are interviews that may very well included interviews of people who have been interviewed in the book. He is probably already interviewed quite a few of them. He may conduct some additional interviews based on what he sees in book or in the press or in other places when people choose to leak.

I would be very interested in interviewing Steve Bannon if I were Robert Mueller. He may have already, Steve Bannon. He may want to interview him again if he already has. He will conduct his investigation professionally. He is a professional prosecutor, former head of the FBI, he knows what he is doing and he certainly not going to prosecute anybody based solely or even mostly on what is in a book. He will do it based on hard core evidence that he finds or does not find. He is not going to prosecute anybody who he is not convinced has violated the law.

[18:25:48] MELBER: As for the leads that he pursues, I mean, one interesting thing in Manafort case, was they didn`t crack his lawyer like an egg, Matt, to use the proverbial phrase, but they did force his lawyer to testify. And whether Mark Corallo (ph) and other individuals who are formally close to this who reportedly said they thought the plane ride was obstruction ride. And they also going to testify. It would be interesting.

Matt Miller, Richard Painter, thank you both.

After the break, Steve Bannon apologies the Steve Bannon way.

And I have a leading psychologist here who says that Donald Trump is very unqualified, even dangerous, but argues it is unethical to have doctors claiming to diagnose him.

And Mark Zuckerberg says his New Year`s resolution is fixing Facebook. I have my response at end of the show.


[18:29:37] MELBER: Tonight the White House is rejecting Steve Bannon`s apology. What is new? Well, he has been walking back his criticism of Don Junior. And his apology didn`t include the word sorry. Bannon just claimed he was talking about Manafort.

Meanwhile his money has been cut off by his backer, the Mercers. He might be ousted from Brietbart. This is all quite a fall after a White House tenure that began full of promise.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, HARDBALL: Historically, structuring of this country`s national security apparatus, President Donald Trump has authorized his political strategist, the upper mentioned former editor of Breitbart Steve Bannon to join White House National Security Council meetings as a permanent regular member of the NSC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This week`s new issue of Time Magazine --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- is looking at Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon in a cover story they`re calling it The Great Manipulator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Bannon proved to the world that he is most powerful person in the White House right now including the President.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: The most controversial staffer in a controversial White House, Steve Bannon ousted today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is now away from the squad but he is more powerful that way.


MELBER: I`m joined by Laura Bassett, Senior Political Reporter for HuffPost and Daniel Dale Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star. Daniel, what happened to Steve Bannon?

DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STAR: Well, Steve Bannon decided that he was important on his own, independent of President Donald Trump. Important enough he could trash Donald Trump, go and do his own thing and his own -- be a star independent of the man who made him a, you know, national public figure. And I think what he very quickly found with the reaction from the President and from possibly more important to him, his financial backers, the billionaire Mercers, is that he`s nothing at this point without their -- without their backing. And so he issued this non-apology apology in which he groveled because he knows that with Donald Trump he will eventually forgive you if you gravel off enough. And so, it`s going to really -- remarkable and large (VIDEO GAP)

LAURA BASSETT, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, HUFFPOST: -- power came from being in the White House, came from his proximity to the President and he doesn`t have that anymore. And so, now -- and if he loses Breitbart, he loses everything.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, I wonder whether -- you know in the -- in the movies where the animals talk and we say that we`re anthropomorphizing the animals --


MELBER: -- I sometimes feel like maybe we`re anthropomorphizing the money and politics and we`ll say like Steve Bannon is so brash and he`s so tough and he`s so strong as if those are personality traits. In fact, they seem to be a function of the money he either had or thought he had from the Mercers, who aren`t as famous as Kochs but are basically the people who convinced Donald Trump to take him on. They run Cambridge Analytica which is mixed up in the Russian stuff, and he thought it was blank check, right? And now he`s learned it`s not a blank check and suddenly the guy who never expresses contrition for anything says -- I mean he thinks what the story were -- he did say regrets. He did back down. He did come out five days later and do exactly what Steve Bannon says he never does precisely because it`s not about personality, it`s about whether he has mullah.

BASSETT: Steve Bannon was -- seemed like a genius to lot of people. I think he was behind Trump becoming most unlikely candidate in American history to win the presidency. People were shocked by that and then Steve Bannon took a lot of credit for it, became the architect for a lot of his policies in the White House, was arguably more powerful than Ivanka and Jared and any other advisers in there. I think -- but now he`s taken a little bit too far. He thought that maybe in 2020 that he could be president? I don`t know what his ambitions were but I think he thought that Trump`s followers were going to split off and follow him. And he broke rule number one, which is cozying up to the media.

I mean, if there`s one thing that unites all of Trump supporters that say just complete hatred for the media. And Bannon has been leaking to the media, has been cozying up to the media, he has almost an impulsive addiction to talking to the press and that`s not really going to play well with the people he thought were his followers.

MELBER: Yes, I look it a little differently. I mean, Daniel, I don`t think they hate the media at all. I think they love the media. The only thing they hate is that they can`t control the media. And that is why they end up in what you might call a love/hate relationship. So Bannon gets in trouble for getting too much media. Speak to where he goes from here, is he able to get a lifeline back and get money or did he do to himself what apparently none of his opponents could do which is sideline him in way that loses Trump credibility with the "base" and loses money that made him different that other ex-staffers?

DALE: I think it all depends on what Robert and Rebecca Mercer want to do. I mean, Breitbart, the , you know, propaganda Web site that Bannon runs, positions itself as voice of the outsider. Really, you know, it`s the voice of its funders, like lots -- you know, like lots of media is accused of being by people like Steve Bannon. And so if the Mercers decide that Bannon is more trouble than he`s worth because Trump is that mad at him, then there`s nowhere good to go. You know, he can try to reinvent himself in some Trumpian way. But I don`t know if Bannon is important enough or has enough credibility independent of you know, the Trump movement at this point to do anything but sort of go away.

MELBER: Daniel Dale and Laura Bassett, on a story that has been fascinating. And Daniel Dale, already taking your mic off. Look at that. He`s done with this segment. Well next -- thank you both. Next, I will talk to a psychiatrist who say Donald Trump may be dangerous, may be unqualified but doctors should stop pretending to diagnose him. And later, Mark Zuckerberg said it`s time for new start at Facebook. He had a very interesting resolution and I have my response to Mark up ahead.


MELBER: Welcome back. Here are four facts about this unusual story that President Trump addressed this weekend about his mental stability. Number one, no doctor has made a diagnosis suggesting that the President is mentally unstable. Number two, much of the public discussion of this issue has been pushed by Trump`s political opponents. Number three, Trump did fuel the fire writing just this weekend his mental stability is great asset and he`s a very stable genius. And number four, that new tell-all book quotes Trump`s own aides` concerns about his stability and their reference is to a never used constitutional rule that can remove an incapacitated president. Those are the fact. In journalism, we start with the facts and the facts do not indicate a medical diagnosis to question the President`s mental competence. Rushing into that debate ahead of those facts is not only unfair to the person in question be at this President, or some other person in the news or a future president. It`s also really unfair to whole lot of people may have mental or psychological challenges.

Now that`s the position of Dr. Allen Frances, literally helped write the book on some of these mental health issues and he made news by writing into the New York Times to rebut amateur diagnosticians mislabeling Trump as he put it saying that he wrote the criteria that define the narcissistic personality disorder and Mr. Trump does not meet them. He added you can`t say enough about how incompetent and unqualified Trump is to be leader of the free world but that doesn`t make him mentally ill. And the doctor goes on to note most mentally ill people are nice, they`re well-mannered, Trump is none of these and he says lumping Trump in with them stigmatizes the mentally ill population. Dr. Frances has made some ways and he`s our special guest tonight. Doctor, thanks for being here.


MELBER: What moved you to speak out and what do you want people to know about the medical facts here?

FRANCES: Well, you know, there are lots of very accurate names for Donald Trump. Call him impulsive spoiled brat, call him a really bad guy, call him a dangerous threat to American democracy, call him an ignorant jerk. All these were the accurate and useful names. But I do object to psychological name calling because it is an insult to the patients I`ve known who are mostly wonderful people, which Trump isn`t. And even worse it`s a real distraction from the important work we have to do to set limits on this baby president. As we`re calling him names, we`re avoiding the political work that needs to be done and institutional taming that`s the responsibility of Congress, the courts and of the press.

MELBER: Well, Dr. Frances, I think you put it so well just then. I think you just called the President a baby. And this President has called many people worse things. In the first amendment free speech society, people can talk all they want to talk in the civic and political space. And yet what you have called out is real concern about -- tell me what you would call it, the potential abuse of medical diagnosis, including by people in medical profession who have not actually personally diagnosed the President. I mean, help us understand what are the conditions under which someone can make a diagnosis? Can they do it just by watching this President on T.V.?

FRANCES: Well, I think the people who are diagnosing Trump are well- meaning but misguided. They feel as many of us do that he`s a terrible threat to our society and that he may be a threat to entire world, particularly with global warming. They feel a duty to warn. But trouble is that anyone with any sense knows that Trump is dangerous. You don`t need M.D. or Ph.D. to realize this. The people supporting him are doing it either because they`re misguided or they`re taking cynical advantage of his distracting us from the things that really matter. There will never be a 25th amendment removal of this President based on psychiatric illness. That would require a psychiatrists agreeing to this, which they wouldn`t. That would require Vice President Pence and the cabinet agreeing to it or the prior of two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress.

MELBER: I finally I want to -- I want to get you on one more thing. And I appreciate your constitutional analysis as well because it`s high bar. The last thing is, you really emphasize that lot of this has the risk of stigmatizing our understanding of a various range of mental challenges and illness which are quite common. Speak to that in our final moment`.

FRANCES: Yes, we shouldn`t be medicalizing bad behavior, we shouldn`t be confusing people who do evil things with mentally ill. Very few of the bad things that happen in our world are caused by mentally ill. They suffer more than causing suffer and they deserve a better deal than being lumped with Donald Trump.

MELBER: Dr. Frances, your work has been very useful, as well as your voice. Thanks for spending some time with us tonight.

FRANCES: My pleasure.

MELBER: Mark Zuckerberg out with his 2018 New Year`s resolution. It involves Russia and fake news and my response up next.



MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: For the first time last year. Until then I was using my student checking account. We never thought it would be this big. I never thought it would be on your show. That`s awesome. But --


MELBER: That was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg`s first Oprah appearance back in `09. He was actually wearing a tie as part of a New Year`s resolution. Zuckerberg has long used his platform to share his resolutions. And while this show has reported on some important problems facing Zuckerberg, he has certainly said big and laudable goals for his past resolutions and achieved many of them, like learning Mandarin.




MELBER: Another goal was building an artificial intelligence assistant voiced by Morgan Freeman and visiting all 50 states.


ZUCKERBERG: (INAUDIBLE) helps me get ready in the morning. Fresh shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire in the hole.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Facebook CEO was in Ohio, surprise. That`s Dan Moore. He and his family knew they were having a guest for dinner and it was obviously someone big but they have no idea who it was until well, 15 minutes before Facebook`s Mark Zuckerberg walked in their door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more he talked, the more I liked him and the more I was inspired by him.


MELBER: Zuckerberg`s resolutions also included vowing to read 25 books in a year and running 365 miles. And like a typical New Year`s resolution, many of those goals are personal. This year Zuckerberg`s new announcement says his challenge is professional. He notes he usually takes on a personal challenge to learn something new, but this year his goal is prevent Facebook`s errors, enforcing policies and misuse of our tools. That`s a start. The internet was quick to take a shot at Zuckerberg, and note basically this is already his job. But this could be a good (INAUDIBLE). It means, either Zuckerberg is listening and evolving on these problems that he used to totally deny or that like many corporate leaders, he at least wants to be perceived as listening and evolving. His words have certainly evolved in front of our eyes. Here was Zuckerberg calling the impact of disinformation on Facebook during the election crazy, and also saying Facebook is not even a media company.


ZUCKERBERG: Personally, I think the idea that you know, fake news on Facebook of which you know, it`s a very small amount of the content influence the election in any way I think is a pretty crazy idea.

No! We`re a technology company. We`re not a media company.


MELBER: Zuckerberg has since evolved to recognizing some of the widespread problems Facebook has.


ZUCKERBERG: I used to think that if we just gave people a voice and help some people connect, that that would make the world a lot better all by itself, and in a lot of ways, it has. But you know, today, when we look around, our society is still very divided. So now I believe that we have a responsibility to do even more.


MELBER: That sentiment, do more, is now being put into writing in Zuckerberg`s resolution. That`s a positive step any CEO can use buzz words like community or transparency defining actual goals is different. It can lay down a marker, and then the world can see if the goals are achieved or not. Zuckerberg knows that better than most. He`s achieved more goals more quickly than just about everyone on Earth. And that`s what makes this exercise in resolutions potentially important. The impact of setting a specific goal is also though the clue that this resolution falls short. Basically, Zuckerberg`s resolution is noting the problem of online abuse and election interference and Zuckerberg gets some credit for that. But if you read it closely, it doesn`t define any specific goal for solving these problems.

He says Facebook has a lot of work to do whether it`s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation or a state or making sure time spent on Facebook is time well spent. His personal challenge is focusing on fixing those important issues. We won`t prevent all mistakes or abuse, he writes, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies in preventing misuse of our tools. OK. But Zuckerberg doesn`t say how he will fix these problems. He doesn`t say whether there are lines Facebook will no longer cross, authoritarians it will no longer work with, censorship technology it will no longer develop. He doesn`t even say whether Facebook will commit to transparency for labeling political ads on the site that would cost almost nothing.

But Facebook formally opposed it when lobbying the FEC. He doesn`t say how the company will prevent ads that practice housing discrimination. And he does not publish the metrics Facebook will use to determine if it`s even winning this battle against fake news and election interference. Anyone of those specific goals would be a place to start. Without a measurable goal, as I think Silicon Valley knows well, there`s no way to measure improvement. The famous management guru Peter Drucker put it simply. "What`s measured improves," which brings us back to what we might call the Zuckerberg standard for New Year`s resolutions. Because we checked and all ten resolutions that he has done had specific numerical goals, 50 states, 25 books, 365 miles. Numbers keep people honest. You either visit 50 states or you don`t, and we all know.

Whether Facebook protects against abuse or interference will always be debatable without specifics. And you know, when Facebook does not settle for those kind of vague words, when it does demand numbers when Facebook wants to make money. It`s very specific about numbers. When briefing investors, they announce $10.3 billion in revenue on an earnings call. When touting user growth they announce 2.1 billion customers. When Facebook talks to Wall Street, it uses numbers. When Zuckerberg sets his personal goals, he uses numbers. As Jay-Z said, men lie, women lie, numbers don`t. And when he was telling young people about how to grow a tech company, he used numbers, a very big number on Facebook`s high mind.


ZUCKERBERG: For a while, we had this rallying cry of can we connect a billion people? It was way bigger than any service in the world that had been built and you know, it was ten digits long or it`s like a -- you know, it felt crazy. We`d never get to that.


MELBER: But they did. Mark, you`ve connected 2.1 billion people. We know that number because you gave it to us. And we know Facebook is really good at achieving its goals when it wants to. We know you`re really good at achieving your goals. It is a great first step that you are tackling these problems by discussing it in this new resolution. The next step obviously is a resolution with numbers. Then we can all measure your success and root for it.


MELBER: An important story you may not have heard about breaking in New Jersey today. Two state prisons banning a book about race and discrimination in our prison system. Michelle Alexander`s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration, The Age of Color-Blindness is a well-documented account of systemic racism in the justice system. Like, say this one that African-Americans are incarcerated at higher rates in every state in the U.S. Now, the worst disparity of all is in New Jersey. And that is where these two prisons banned Alexander`s book. This was uncovered by the ACLU through their document requests, and they went public just today, accusing this state of curbing free speech. And in this story already took another turn because, within hours, there was major reports about this in a wide slew of newspapers in the New Jersey Department of Corrections suddenly reversed the bans.

Now they say they`re reviewing how this happened. To review this story for you, prisons tried to ban a book perhaps because information is powerful even in prison. And then when information from the ACLU, from activists, and from journalists exposed the ban, the prison backed down. Why? Because information is powerful. That`s our closing thought for you and that does it for THE BEAT. I also want to say a big thank you to Ayman Mohyeldin and Chris Jansing for anchoring all last week. I will be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts right now.

MATTHEWS: The Big bad wolf. Let`s play HARDBALL.




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