Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: February 5, 2018 Guest: Ross Garber, Molly McKew, Tristan Harris, James Steyer
KATY TUR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, my favorite jeopardy category is the pen is mightier.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It is good one. You know, I realized I forgot -- I have a cold. I forgot to take my cough drop out. I think I`m going to do it right now while you are on camera.
TUR: I will give you the other one, listen. Take your cough drop. You got it. An album cover also a good category, therapists.
MELBER: I don`t even know what you are talking -- I lost. What are you talking about?
TUR: Yes, our viewers know. Our viewers know and they are going to end - and they are going to mock you endlessly on twitter.
MELBER: They do that anyway. Katy Tur, thank you for the toss. As always, it makes it my Monday.
Let me tell you, my viewers, we are actually chasing two developments right now in our top stories.
The first, of course, the market cratering today. The second, new clues about where Bob Mueller`s Russia probe is heading and some of them pretty interesting. I will get to those.
We start with the Dow falling 4.6 percent today. Now that is the biggest percentage decline which is the way that it matters the most since 2011. A crash is bad, of course, for stockholders. It`s also tough timing for Trump who used the state of the union to link his own status to the market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion and more in value in just this short period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Today`s news, obviously, affects that. Now analyst say the drop probably turns more on market fundamentals than anything that Trump says. But when the markets talk, we do know voters listen. That`s the point Republican pollster Frank Luntz has been highlighting that however bad Russia probe may get factually, the public mood usually moves with the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK LUNTZ, ANALYST: In every focus group, in every poll that I have done, it`s more than two and a half to one, the public is far more concerned about what is happening to the economy, what is happening to the jobs, the stock market than they are what is happening in Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Political implications is clear. If the Russia probe does have bad news for Trump, public patience for any mistakes could ultimately drop along with the markets. Even Donald Trump`s aides are admitting there have been mistakes on Russia.
Take something that hasn`t gotten a ton of attention today with everything goes on. In this unusual new interview, former chief of staff Reince Priebus doesn`t say it would be good for Trump to fire Mueller. But instead he suggests it was a bad idea, but Trump never really wanted it to happen or at least that`s what Priebus felt Trump wanted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: I never felt, of all the things that went through in the west wing, I never felt that the President was going to fire the special counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Felt, he never felt it. Trump`s of course free to do things separate from what Priebus is feeling. His role always here under scrutiny because the "New York Times" reported that Trump`s lawyer threatened to resign over the request to get Mueller fired. Many asks if that standoff involve Reince Priebus.
Now, while the White House FOX News continue to push the memo, Mueller`s prosecutions are grinding on. In fact, did you know that in just two days, indicted former Trump aide Rick Gates has a hearing devoted to why three of his own criminal defense lawyers are withdrawing or that Flynn is facing three more months, 90 days of cooperation under a new Mueller request. And then there is this nugget in the new filling from Paul Manafort`s lawyers. It says the U.S. government has been conducting a quote "law enforcement investigation regarding Manafort since 2014."
That is significant, because again, it goes to evidence of how far back the feds have been look at some of these people. Now as these probes go forward tonight, I can also tell you news from this morning. 7:45 a.m., FOX reporting this about congressman Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is Adam Schiff condemning Devin Nunes. Listen.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The interest wasn`t oversight. The interest was a political hit job on the FBI in the service of the President. But the goal here really isn`t to find out the answers from the FBI. The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the President`s bidding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So that plays. Four minutes later, President Trump posts a tweet accusing Schiff of being a liar and leaker and alleging that he illegally leaks confidential information.
The President also coined a new nickname for Schiff. And I`m not reporting that part of the President`s tweet, because we don`t deem it newsworthy. I will note that the President of the United States today is accusing a congressman leading the investigation into Russian collusion of a crime. He is accusing Schiff without offering any evidence of the felony of leaking classified information.
If that`s not a top story now, maybe it`s because the President`s endless hyperventilation over the probe and into his White House has become a kind of strategy of (INAUDIBLE) of hyperbole and ultimately attempted exhaustion coupled with the distraction that maybe people will focus on the nicknames while normalizing these recurring attempts to undermine the rule of law.
And this attack on Schiff comes as his committee will vote tonight on releasing the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo. And it adds Schiff, a legislative branch official to this long list of executive branch officials involved in Russia whom Trump has fired, ousted or targeted.
Joined by my panel Shelby Holliday from :"the Wall Street Journal" and NBC editor-at-large John Harwood as well.
John, when you look at this attack on congressman Schiff, what do you see is the important part?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, it is Donald Trump trying to rally his Republican base to disbelieve the congressional investigations to disbelief what comes out of the Mueller investigation to protect the President. And, you know, this is a President who clearly is feeling increased pressure, because he got up this morning and sent off a barrage of tweets, and he knows that Bob Mueller is following the leads that you alluded to a few minutes ago, and this is a serious situation, and he is doing what he can to protect himself.
MELBER: And Shelby, take a listen to Donald Trump Jr. And his reaction to what this all means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP`S SON: There is a little bit of sweet revenge in it for me and certainly probably the family in the sense that if they wouldn`t have done this, this stuff would be going on. This would be going on at the highest levels of government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: What is pretty amazing to me is what we are hearing from the Trump family and Trump`s inner circle does not match up with the reality of what was in the actual memo. And if you read the memo, and if you have been following this investigation, a lot of these talking points that they use were actually completely discredited. And I mean, the right likes to say that this dossier is phony, a discredited dossier. We know that some information in the dossier was troubling enough to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
MELBER: And get it renewed three times.
HOLLIDAY: Right. They like to say that the Trump campaign was targeted. Well, we found out that FISA application was approved in October. Carter Page left the campaign in September. So the fact that they are going to batted for a guy they threw under the bus just - right when he left the campaign is troubling but also makes you wonder, what are they so worried about? What did Carter Page do while he was under surveillance that Trump and his associates might be extremely worried about?
MELBER: Well, I think you are putting your finger on something that several of our legal experts were talking about, Shelby on Friday night which is if Carter Page is so unimportant, let him be. Why is that now such a renewed attention?
Speaking of that, I have brand-new news. I`m going to turn to Richard Painter and Bobby Chacon to add into our conversation.
But first, from our own Mike Maloney (ph) in Washington, the House. According to congressman Jim Jordan has now done a Democratic vote, unanimously here to send the Democratic memo to the White House for review. That is that rebuttal memo. We have heard a lot last week about the Republican memo, which we have now seen, not many saw it as a dud. It has not implicating the Bob Mueller investigation and any significant way.
Now what we are seeing is the move by the House new tonight to then put out a rebuttal to it. Other allegations or potential facts that would add context. We are seeing again all of this, a partisan split on a committee that in decades past is certainly not been this partisan.
Panel stays with me. I want to bring in on this breaking news, Richard Painter, White Houses ethics chief under George W. Bush and Bobby Chacon, retired FBI special agent.
Bobby, I will start with you. If you say -- if you do the little picture, you can understand why the Democrats want to get their facts out and rebut this. If you go big picture, a year ago or a decade ago, most law enforcement folks would say having back and forth votes about getting this stuff out at all is a negative.
BOBBY CHACON, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It absolutely is a negative - and even today, it is a negative. I mean, look. I think they have the right to have their memo released. But now we hear Nunes has more memos. It just gets ridiculous at some point. I think that the Congress has to stop and refocus itself on what their role is in this. And it`s not to be a constant review of whatever the Mueller investigation is.
Really, they should be looking at the Russian hacking into the 2016 election and what the U.S. government should be doing as far as new laws and new regulations to kind of prevent it in the future. There shouldn`t be a parallel investigation but a House intel committee to the Mueller probe, that`s just -- it`s just non-productive. And in the end, it actually can hurt Mueller`s team.
MELBER: Yes. And while I have you, before I go to Richard, you say that - - I saw on FOX Business, some members on the Republican side saying the only solution to all this congressman Jordan was saying is a special counsel, a second special counsel. Does that strike you on the scale of reasonable to ludicrous? Where does that land for you.
CHACON: You know, I`m not a real big fan of the special counsel either the way it is today or the previous laws of special counsel, you know. If there was the previous law that Ken Starr operated under -- if that was still in place --
MELBER: No. Bobby, you are not on the hypothetical news. I`m asking you what if we were in that? You are saying under the laws today, when representative Jordan says what we need is another special counsel to investigate this one, does that sound reasonable or not?
CHACON: No. No. There are processes in place to investigate matters like this. If there is a special circumstance that requires a special prosecutor, I don`t see it here. I just don`t see it in this case.
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER ETHICS CHIEF UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, there is no evidence the FBI did anything wrong. I mean, they went and got a FISA warrant based on information they had. The FBI gets information all the time from sources including snitches and mob bosses, everywhere. And I don`t see why opposition research in a political campaign, if that`s how they got it, bond (ph). They go to the judge and the judge rules on the warrant.
This is a big to-do about nothing. The Democrats are silly if they are going to waste their time on alternative memos and all that. Nobody cares about the Nunes memo. It`s a pile of garbage. Nobody cares. We care about the Russians.
MELBER: Well, Richard, you are saying something interesting I want you to build out on. Because there are people who see this as sort of black and white. And you are, I think making more of a gray point, which is there may be Democrats in Washington that want to play tit-for-tat on memos. You are saying legally, you see that entire thing as a distraction because the Nunes memo was such a sight-short to begin with?
PAINTER: Yes. There was nothing there. I mean, the FBI got a warrant. They went to a judge and got a warrant. I don`t know why Congress is getting involve in. I don`t know why Congress is trying to -- Nunes and some of his allies are trying to cover up for President Trump and obstruct the Mueller investigation and do everything but protect our country from the Russians.
What that committee ought to be doing is focusing on the Russians and who is collaborating with the Russians. And the other issue is that the Russians have been funneling money through people in the United State or dual citizenship to members of Congress. And we ought to find out about that.
How many of these members of Congress who are attacking Bob Mueller and funding for Donald Trump and attacking the FBI, how many of them are getting money from the Russians? Because we do not need the Russians interfering with our elections anymore. They got to learn to butt out. And we got to take this seriously. And if all they can do is attack the FBI and attack our own security services, the only person who is going to benefit from this is Vladimir Putin.
MELBER: Go ahead, John.
HARWOOD: I was just going to say the point Richard was making dovetails with the one that Bobby was making a few minutes ago. It is one think for, also the news media, to go back ang get dueling coach from people or for people to exchange attacks on twitter. It`s another thing to have a tit- for-tat disclosure of information related to criminal investigations that are ongoing.
It seems that that get into a dangerous sort of chain of events. And I do think that the comments that you are hearing from Republicans, including the vote to send the Democratic memo to the White House reflects the understanding of Republican members that in fact, the Nunes memo was a dud. It has not made a deep impression on anyone our brought new facts to the table or as Richard has said, it has not shown anything that the FBI has done wrong.
HOLLIDAY: But here is a thing. A lot of people who are watching certain television shows and were listening to certain radio programs don`t see it that way. They hear that this is a bombshell memo. We are actually seeing it in polls that people, particularly Republicans, are losing confidence in the FBI. So I understand the desire for Democrats wanting to get all the information out whether or not that a dangerous game --.
HOLLIDAY: But it is certainly having an impact and it is landing.
MELBER: It may be landing in the short term. I think the larger question is whether congressional Democrats are doing what Richard Painter is alleging is partly politics, we want to hit back (INAUDIBLE) what is the more responsible way to stored of an investigation.
Final short question, Shelby Holliday since you are at the journal, are the markets going to go up or down tomorrow? Can you tell us?
HOLLIDAY: I would be making money if I knew the answer to that. I do think it`s funny that watching television today, networks were taking Trump live saying it was a tidal wave of good news for the economy and then we have this biggest point decline for Dow ever.
MELBER: John Harwood, futures are lower?
HARWOOD: Futures are indicating a lower open tomorrow. We will see how persistent that is once the markets in fact do open.
MELBER: All right. We try to make as many money moves as we can here. Though it`s not our expertise. That is our panel.
What I want to turn to next, thanks to Shelby, John, Richard and Bobby Ciccone, is the debate we are just discussing, Adam Schiff with. Take a listen.
SCHIFF: We want to make sure that those that are in the best position to vet that have the opportunity to do so. The department of justice and FBI have already have on them over several days. We also want to make sure that any redactions that are made are fully explained to our committee by the FBI or department of justice and likewise by the White House. We want to make sure that the White House does not redact our memo for political purposes, and obviously, that`s a deep concern.
The majority found themselves in an insupportable position when they released a misleading memo and refused to release the Democratic response. So I think they were spell compelled to take the action they did today. And we think this will be very useful information for the American people to see.
I also want to say that my colleague, Mr. Quigley, again and repeatedly asked the chairman whether he or any of his staff had consulted with, coordinated, conceptualized this memo in combination with the White House. We know after all, that the chairman embarked on a similar effort to coordinate a campaign early on in the investigation. And once again, Mr. Nunes refused to answer the questions.
At the very end of the hearing, he gave a very lawyerly written response or read a written response, saying that the White House had not been involved in the actual drafting of the memo. But in terms of whether it was coordinated with the White House or they were consulted or strategized, the whole concept, he refused to answer those questions. And obviously, that`s a very important question for our committee.
The reality is that as this investigation has progressed, our own, perhaps more significantly, the investigation by Bob Mueller, as more and more individuals have either been indicted or pled guilty in connection with this investigation and the evidence has mounted both in terms of the issue of collusion as well as the issue of obstruction there is a rising sense of panic clearly within the White House and as well on the hill. And as a result, we see a tactic we have often seen in criminal cases where when the facts are incriminating the defendant there`s an effort to put the government on trial.
And so that brings us to where we are today where our committee, Republicans have endeavored to put the FBI on trial, put the department of justice on trial, impeach and impugn the hard work of these dedicated public service at the FBI and department of justice. We think this very ill serves the public and we hope that they will stop.
But nonetheless, the chairman has announced his intention to continue with other phases of this so-called investigation into the FBI and the department of justice and maybe other agencies. He has publicly described this memo as phase one. In fact, it`s phase two. Phase one began with the midnight run and the presentation to the White House of information he had got from the White House.
So this is phase two. We hope these phases of distraction will come to an end and once again the committee will focus on what the Russians did to interfere in our election, what we know about the Trump campaign`s contacts of communication or collusion with the Russians and what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future.
So that`s where we hope our investigation will get back on track. And with that, I`m happy to answer any questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
SCHIFF: The vote was unanimous to release this. I think the Republican members understood that after calling for full transparency, they were getting hammered over the course of the week for trying to hide the minority response.
What will we do if the White House essentially either redacts to protect itself or refuses to release, I think it`s going to be very hard for the White House, like it was hard for the Republicans on our committee to block release of this. I am more concerned that they make political redactions, not redactions to present sources and methods, and that`s why we are going to insist that the department of justice and FBI report to us what redactions they think are necessary so we can segregate any political interference from the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
SCHIFF: Yes. The department of justice and the FBI have had our memo for days unlike the process the majority used, we want their feedback. We want their input. So they have had it for days. It is our understanding and expectation that our memo will be going to the White House tonight. So as of tonight that five-day clock is ticking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have the justice department or FBI, they weighed in yet on specific redactions that they want in the memo yet at this point?
SCHIFF: At this point, they have not weighed in. I`m sure they have been awaiting this process and devoted a committee. But we fully would expect in any rational process that the agencies that are most heavily implicated. And here it`s the FBI and department of justice because they are conducting the investigation would have the paramount say in terms of what might be revealed as to sources as to methods and also as to the ongoing investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any evidence also that Nunes has coordinated with the White House in any way? Do you have any evidence of that? Is it just him not acknowledging?
MELBER: You have been listening to Adam Schiff who is just announced formally that the House intelligence committee has voted unanimously to send the Democratic rebuttal memo, that a rebuttal to the Nunes Memo that got so much attention on Friday, to the White House. This triggers an echo of the process we saw last week, a five-day deadline under House rule ten for the President to decide whether to declassify and release this memo or not.
You are watching "the Beat" here on MSNBC.
And I want to turn to our panel, Richard Painter, former Republican ethics lawyer and Ned Price.
Ned, on the national security part of this, you could say that what starts bad gets worse. But let`s be clear. Democrats are now in the position of basically, along with Republicans unanimously calling for the kind of release of things that they wouldn`t be for except for how this all got started by Republicans.
NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Well, that`s right, Ari. And I would echo Richard`s earlier points that to my mind, look. The best rebuttal to the Nunes memo is in some ways the Nunes memo. In some ways, there is merit to letting it just stand for itself and to letting its hollowness come through to all those who read it or read about it.
MELBER: So you think, sir, that the Democrats, in their rush to have a rebuttal may be making the wrong move?
PRICE: Well, there`s a difference here between strategy and policy. I think we can debate the strategy of the Democrats getting this memo out. When it comes to policy, though, look, Devin Nunes in this stunt has put out three and a half pages of untruths and mischaracterizations. So I think in some ways it is incumbent on the Democrats to be able to correct that record somehow and clearly they need to do so in a way that is above board, in a way that does not involve congressional staffers whispering into the ears of the "New York Times" and "Washington Post."
MELBER: What is it tell you, Ned, that the Republicans were on board in this brand-new vote? So now they are voting to do what they opposed last week, which was to also clear release of the Democratic rebuttal.
PRICE: Well, in some ways the Republicans got their point across by beating the news cycle hereby about 72 hours. And by releasing their memo on Friday, unattached, untethered to the Democratic memo, they were, you know, they are in the free and clear here.
But look, I think the President has a very difficult, what should not be a difficult decision but I`m sure will cause the White House to lose some sleep. You heard the vice chairman of the intelligence committee that has now call it a -- what he expects to be a rational process. I don`t think this process will be rational.
MELBER: I know. I agree. I don`t think it is rational.
I want to give Richard a quick answer here. And then we actually have booked on this show, Devin Nunes` congressional opponent, a Democrat running in California so I have to get to him.
But Richard, I want you to speak to the point that Ned is raising. This whole thing may have started out as a mess because of the way Devin Nunes and House Republicans approached it. But the news tonight appears to be your comment on this that Democrats are making it messier.
PAINTER: Well, they are trying to rebut this Nunes memo, but there`s nothing in the Nunes memo to rebut. All it shows is the FBI doing its job, track down Russian agents and (INAUDIBLE) Carter Page who are hanging around with Russian agents. And if any of other President Trump`s associates are hanging around with Russian agents, I hope the FBI gets a warned -- warrant on them too.
The FBI didn`t do anything wrong. Although I do think they should but watches the Trump back in June of 2016 when that meeting was taken place, when the Russian agents and Donald Trump Jr.
But this is just a lot of nonsense. And I think the Democrats ought to let it go. Congressman Nunes has made a complete fool of himself and he has helped nobody but Vladimir Putin by attacking our FBI. I think the Democrats ought to focus on the real issue, which is the Russian infiltration of our system, our computer hacking and other activity and whoever in the United States assisted the Russian, collaborated with the Russians and whether that reaches into the White House. That`s the issue we need to be investigating. But Bob Mueller needs to investigate it and the United States Congress. They need to start doing their job or we the voters, we are going to have to boot them out of there.
MELBER: Richard Painter, appreciate your time and you as well, Ned Price. Thank you you both.
As I mentioned, all of this could have an effect on Devin Nunes` political future. Take a look at the top paper in home district now calling quote "Trump`s stooge." Or this billboard in his community , pretty graphic there, You have been a good boy, Devin, suggesting he is under Trump and Putin`s control.
That billboard paid for by this man, Andrew Janz`s campaign. He is a Democrat running against Nunes. He is a prosecutor. And he joins us for his first national television interview since this whole memo came out. I will mention as well we have an open invite out to congressman Nunes to come on this show.
My first question to you. Do you agree with Devin Nunes who you are running to replace in joining the Democrats to vote to release the Democratic rebuttal tonight?
ANDREW JANZ (D-CA), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Ari. Thanks for having me on today. I can tell you that the people in this district are really disappointed in Devin Nunes and really right now they are disappointed in Congress as well. And Devin Nunes is the poster boy of what is wrong in Washington now.
We see him out there today really working to undermine law enforcement agencies. We see that he`s politicizing the House intelligence committee and he is really nothing more than a stooge to Donald Trump. So I think that the Democrats should have the opportunity to release their memo as well. As you mentioned, I`m a prosecutor, so I`m all about getting facts and evidence out there. I think the American people have a right to know.
MELBER: So you are on record here with this rebuttal release. I was just discussing with some of our analysts who it seems to cut both ways and this is just a very messy and unprecedented situation.
I want to ask specifically about what are you doing. You are trying to use this issue among others to take Devin Nunes` job. Let me read to you something I`m sure you and your advisers know which is that in California as well as in your area of California, when you ask people the top issues, they say the economy, immigration and housing costs. They rarely bring up Russia as a top three issue. Are you betting that Russia will become a bigger issue? Do you need that to win?
JANZ: Look, you know that I work at the district attorney`s office here in town. And we have a saying when we are in trial, when the facts aren`t on your side, argue the law. When the law is not on your side, argue the facts, and if both the facts and the law aren`t on your side, take your shoe off and bang it on the table.
That`s what Devin Nunes is doing. He is trying to interfere with the Robert Mueller investigation. And I think it`s a great starting off point to talk to constituents, because most people here in the Central Valley, before I came on scene didn`t really know that Devin Nunes was their member of Congress. So, once they realized what he has been doing in Washington an really ignoring the voters back here at home, he hasn`t held a town hall since 2010. And that`s far too long. The voters that I have been talking to are sick and tired of Devin Nunes and his political stunts. Eighteen years is a long time.
MELBER: Andrew, let me push you that a little bit. Your race obviously has got and lot of interest around the whole country right now and people who aren`t in your district looking at Devin Nunes. And yet here, as you mentioned, where the people are tired of. I mean, here are the stats. I mean, he won in 2016 by 35 points. So obviously, he has done something right. How do you make up a margin like that?
JANZ: Ari, I think it was closer to 26 points. But we have a recent poll out from the field that came back, public policy came back saying that we are within five points of Devin Nunes now. So we closed that large, 26- point gap.
MELBER: Public policy, you are saying it has you within five now.
JANZ: Yes, it is a generic Democrat. This is without them having you even heard a word about me, haven`t heard my story, my dedication to the community, my service as a prosecutor.
MELBER: And that`s my final question. Do you think to the extent that the polls are closing, do you think that is explicitly because of how Nunes has been acting on Russia or do you think it is more broad.
JANZ: Absolutely, it`s definitely what he is doing on Russia, but at the same time, he has never in his districts. People can meet with people. He only meets with donors, his corporate donors, aligned his campaign coffers.
MELBER: Andrew Janz, thank you for joining us. A lot of Nunes in the news right now. Appreciate it and I will reiterate our invite to the congressman open.
JANZ: Thank you.
MELBER: `Coming up, new revelations about Carter Page, a former Trump aide. He was the actually bragging he was an adviser to the Kremlin. That seems relevant.
Also, some digital detectives revealing how Russians are hacking the political debate right now.
And Super Bowl Eagles are already saying they may skip this Trump White House visit.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Many people think that whatever Bob Mueller finds on Russia, whether it`s good or bad or really bad for Trump, that one day it will drop out of the sky for the nation to read, just like Ken Starr`s conclusions did in the probe into Bill Clinton`s White House. But while Starr and Mueller as prosecutors were each empowered to charge people, to subpoena, to use a grand jury, those are a lot of the powers they have in common, there is a big difference. Unlike Ken Starr who investigated Clinton, Bob Mueller, right now under the law does not have an explicit authority to you unilaterally make his findings public, meaning that report you might want coming out of the sky is not automatic.
One legal impeachment expert explains in a provocative new piece this could make all the difference, writing, Starr was appointed under a statute authorizing him to advise the House of any credible information that may cause grounds for an impeachment. But Congress allowed that statute to expire, and Bob Mueller can`t just drop a report on us. Joining me now is the author of that piece, Ross Garber. He`s a Defense Lawyer who`s actually defended three different governors on the Republican side in impeachment proceedings and is something of an expert in what is I think you would agree is a rare and weird area of the law. So I know you`re speaking to us like so many experts that we like to rely on as a legal expert, not on any particular team. Explain number one, why you say Bob Mueller cannot unilaterally release a report on Trump.
ROSS GARBER, DEFENSE LAWYER: Yes, Ari, thanks for having me. So the way it works is that you`re right, Ken Starr under a statute was authorized to notify Congress if he found evidence of impeachable offenses. That statute expired. It`s no longer on the books. There are regulations under which Bob Mueller was appointed. Those regulations don`t provide for any report to the public or any report to Congress at all explicitly or implicitly.
MELBER: Let me -- let me do something we do around here. Sometimes we try to take it deep into law school mode. You`re citing the code of federal regulations, now these important. They`re what protect Mueller for example from being unilaterally fired by the President. Under the code, Donald Trump can`t call Mueller and can`t personally fire him. But they also say at the conclusion of Mueller`s work he can provide the Attorney General with a confidential report, explaining the prosecution or declination, decisions that he reaches. Declination being maybe he doesn`t want to go after somebody. So when you read that language, and we all know that for Russia, Rosenstein is the Attorney General with Jeff Sessions` recusal, all of this means that while Ken Starr could just open the door and throw the report out to the country, your analysis is under these rules the only option is that Mueller hands a report to Rosenstein and then what? What does Rosenstein do?
GARBER: Yes. So the way it works, the regulation say that at the end of his investigation, Bob Mueller prepares a report, gives it to Rod Rosenstein, the Acting Attorney General, and Rod Rosenstein, under the regulations, is to keep that report confidential. That`s what the regulations say. Except, there`s an exception, and that exception is if Rod Rosenstein decides that it`s in the public`s interest that that report be disclosed and there`s no other legal prohibition then Rod Rosenstein can disclose that report to the public.
MELBER: So all the heat here, let`s imagine a president like say, Donald Trump telling Rod Rosenstein, all right, Mueller finished his work. I want you to keep this private. That`s what I want even though I may be implicated in it and Rosenstein then has to decide what`s in the public interest. So this whole thing is going to come down if there`s a report to whether Rod Rosenstein deems that it should go out or not.
GARBER: That`s likely the case. There are -- there`s at least one of other option which is Congress subpoenas the report, and in that case, the Justice Department and the President would have to decide whether to provide the report or whether to refuse, potentially claiming executive privilege.
MELBER: I got to tell you, that would make this rule ten Nunes memo fight look like kindergarten if there is ultimately a congressional subpoena war over executive privilege in this report. But I think what your piece does and what these rules seem to imply, is that yet again, while Mueller is often talked about most, Rod Rosenstein is going to have big decisions to make if there is a damning or at least a report that he thinks might be in the public interest to release. Attorney Ross Garber, thanks for your analysis tonight.
GARBER: Thank for having me.
MELBER: The new Russian hacking effort to interfere with U.S. politics and boost Trump, I`m going to speak to a reporter who broke this story this week. And Silicon Valley insider sounding an alarm about technology as well as the danger not only of Russian propaganda to adults but addiction to children. They`re here live tonight. We`re back in 90 seconds.
MELBER: Now, we turn to a big political story involving sock puppets. Maybe you`ve seen one of these or maybe one of these. There`s a rainbow buff ball sock puppet, pretty cute. On the internet, a sock puppet, and that one there is distinguished. It refers to any false identity used to secretly attack or praise someone. So when you hear about Russian bots, they`re sock puppets on steroids, not only wreaking havoc in 2016 but now Investigative Reporter Molly McKew writing, they were an influential hidden part of this recent push to get that Nunes memo out.
Now, conservatives ceased on the phrase you probably have heard by now "release the memo" but it turns out that many of these Russian bots or sock puppets, they actually got the whole thing started. In fact, the third time this phrase was ever used online on Twitter came from a fake Russian account that was just a few weeks ago. Then the term was spreading with boosts from those bots shared over 500,000 times. All the facts I just reported are courtesy of Molly McKew who first reported them, a very important story. In Politico she is the Information Warfare Expert for the New Media Frontier. How did you find this? Why do you understand it so deeply while many don`t get what you exposed here, which is that this is an influence campaign?
MOLLY MCKEW, INFORMATION WARFARE EXPERT, THE NEW MEDIA FRONTIER: It takes a lot of research to actually dig into all of these different accounts, and you can`t just sort of map it out and look at the connections. You have to look at every one of these identities to figure out whether or not they are real people. The interesting part about this particular campaign, as we sort of outline in the piece, the whole team in the New Media Frontier worked on this together, the accounts that were initially working on this campaign. There were real people. There were very rabid Trump supporters, there were Russian bots and there were sort of other amplified architecture, but it was the fusion of those things that made it powerful. These sort of the amplification and then the targeting of Republican Congressmen and far-right media personalities and the organizational framework of that hash tag which combined made all of these things very effective together.
MELBER: Without the foreign bots, would release the memo has -- have been as big?
MCKEW: Well, it`s an interesting question because the bots seemed to be influential in sort of picking up this hash tag from a relatively nobody account and pushing it to other people. But it is this, the fusion of the architecture on social media where the Russian information architecture is sort of right underneath far right and far left information structures is very interesting. And in this case, it was just sort of the right and the Russian working together, but it does have a very effective influence in terms of amplifying what`s happening, organizing it and targeting it in very specific ways.
MELBER: Molly McKew, thank you for your reporting. I want to turn to two more experts on this. We`re learning a lot of course about the technology`s impact in politics. The bigger question though is not just so what, but wait a minute. Do the companies themselves have some responsibility for the architecture of the products they create and the way it`s affecting our minds, especially, of course, when it comes to those of us still growing up, children. I`m pleased to say I`m now joined by a former Google guru in design Tristan Harris as well as Child Advocate James Steyer.
Now together, they are here on THE BEAT because they have a new effort, a campaign trying to push some of these technology companies to change. A lot of the words that get thrown around are confusing if you`re not a techie when you hear about architecture and algorithm. But you have been arguing for some time that companies are setting up things in a certain way that certain things do better, like conspiracy theories or things that are addicting to children over other things. How does that work?
TRISTAN HARRIS, FORMER DESIGN ETHICIST, GOOGLE: Well, you know, starting in 2013, I was actually inside of Google and I created a memo that`s saying we as Google have a moral responsibility in shaping what a billion people will think today, that no matter what, we are steering 1 billion people`s thoughts. We have to think consciously about this. And that led me to this work on you know, the attention economy and there`s this race for whatever gets the most attention wins. And so, when Twitter says, you know, when you think you open up Twitter, you think it`s showing who you follow but it`s actually playing chess in figuring out what`s the best thing I can show you that`s going to cause you to keep scrolling.
MELBER: For the goal of keeping you hooked.
HARRIS: For the goal of keeping you hooked. And conspiracies do the best job of that. So Youtube is trying to figure out what should I put in that right-hand column. It puts the conspiracies right at the top.
MELBER: Right, so it`s funny you say I`ve noticed this. So regular viewers know I`m actually a big Jay-Z fan. When I search for Jay-Z on Youtube, I am looking for his music or what I might call factual material or credible information and I get these reports, what if he is in the Illuminati, what if he and Beyonce are in this cult, and I think, I`m not looking for that. Are you saying for those of us who are not experts at this like you, that just like Russian propaganda, those things come up partly because of decisions that companies make?
HARRIS: Well, the algorithm can be gamed. And so, what just had in your guest when you were just talking about this, there`s a sense -- sentence that we have when we briefed Congress about this in hearings was if can you make it trend, you can make it true. As soon as it`s trending, you can gain that trending algorithm, you can make it true. And you know, we actually -- Jim can talk more about this bill that`s getting pushed out but we -- there has to be a conversation about Twitter clearly labeling bots. They`re just -- you know, think about Blade Runner, it should be illegal to impersonate successfully being a human being and have it be indistinguishable from someone else.
MELBER: You don`t have to tell me about to think about Blade Runner, I think about Blade Runner all the time. Jim, let me play Apple`s CEO Tim Cook who says something that we can relate to but sometimes gives the companies get a pass. And that is oh, well, kids and parents make good decisions. He says, "I have a nephew, I put some boundaries on. There`s some things I won`t allow and I don`t want them on the social network." Cool, great, but you seem to be also telling us the companies can do more.
JAMES STEYER, CEO AND FOUNDER, COMMON SENSE MEDIA: Well, the companies clearly can do more. Apple -- starting with Apple who actually Tristan and I believe are in a position and we think very likely to do this, to be much better at explaining to the public how to use their phones in a way that is less addictive and less manipulative. The bigger issue is actually with companies like Facebook and Twitter because they are designing as Tristan just described for us (INAUDIBLE) platforms that are actually intentionally addictive and manipulative. And that is bit when you`re taking about children because this arms raise for attention, the number one folks in the crosshair are young people. And so, whether it`s something about a bot about Russia or whatever or if it`s just an advertisement that will get them to stay on, that`s what they`re getting. This is a very big deal.
MELBER: So you seem to be pinpointing a problem for our children that relates also to their literacy and their future as citizens. If they go on Facebook, are they more likely to see fake news and things designed to make them addicted?
STEYER: Totally. And the data is clear on that. Like nearly 50 percent of kids have seen that and referred to the 2016 election in that way. A couple things, we are -- we`ve introduced legislation in California, pioneering legislation which will force bots to be identified. You can`t do that unless it`s named and who the source is, which would obviously make it much less interesting to the average person. It would have prevented the episode you`re just talking about in the previous segment. But the bigger deal here is this. You need to educate the public, you need to educate the kids and parents, you need to pass laws and you also have to hold the industry`s feet to the fire and be accountable. And we have a campaign, the truth about tech that`s designed to do just that, Ari.
MELBER: Well, and that`s why we were so interested. We`ve been covering these corporations for their role in our democracy. They`ve done incredible incredibly amazing innovations, it`s not just it`s black and white you`re against them but your campaign is interesting to us so we`d love to hear how it goes. I want to thank Jim Styer and Tristan Harris. Thank you, both. Up ahead the political debate reaches the Super Bowl and the world of music. Stay with us.
MELBER: -- enough politics, let`s talk football which leads us back apparently to politics. Several Eagles players are saying they want to draw a political line be in the sand. They would skip any team visit to the Trump White House later this year because of Trump. In fact, before the game started. they made another statement with their choice of music. That catchy tune about thinking you Aston Martin is rented (INAUDIBLE) by Meek Mill was also a political statement because that is a rapper we profiled on the show for serving a prison sentence for violating parole which has been a big controversy.
Athletes and music stars are clearly deciding they can`t afford not to be political or at least speak out on policy in the Trump era, and that includes my next guest. The rap star French Montana has been an outspoken critic on many policies from immigration, statements about immigration and who`s coming to this country. He filmed his latest music video in his home country there of Morocco. The Grammy Nominee has collaborated with other stars like Diddy. He`s talked about improving health care in Africa and he is now a Global Citizen Artist Ambassador. Part of the partnership with our parent company Comcast.
MELBER: Joining me now is Grammy Nominee and Hip Hop Artist and Global Citizen Ambassador French Montana. Thanks for being here.
FRENCH MONTANA, HIP HOP ARTIST: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: You shot the famous music video in your home country of Morocco. Why was that important to you to do?
FRENCH MONTANA: I was born there. You know, I lived there for about 13 years. And after I did everything in (INAUDIBLE), I was like, you know, when are you coming home to do something here? So it`s kind of special for me, you know. And the love was immaculate.
MELBER: Morocco is not targeted but many other countries in the region are basically being told by the Trump administration, no one can come here from there. Is that a mistake? How do you look at that as someone who`s obviously crossed these barriers?
FRENCH MONTANA: I just feel like when you -- when you`re somebody like Trump and you have that much power and leadership, you should lead with love.
MELBER: You`ve been outspoken on DACA as well. Your view is that you want to convince your fans or you just want them to hear about the issue and make up their own minds, how do you view that because you`re using your platform?
FRENCH MONTANA: I just want -- I just want to open people`s eyes, you know, because if it wasn`t for our programs like DACA and all, and be in the DREAMer, I wouldn`t be French Montana.
MELBER: And you feel America -- wait, you came here --
FRENCH MONTANA: Yes, I mean, right now it was like 800,000 people that`s suffering from that, you know, and I don`t think people is aware of that. And I guess, I think it`s about March that the Congress don`t step in, I think that you know, they might stop people from dreaming, coming to the States and having equal opportunity and becoming whatever they want, you know. So I just feel like it`s a sad thing and people have to open their eyes to it.
MELBER: You mentioned going to Uganda for unforgettable. I`ll tell you this, every single one of our younger viewers have seen that video which just broke over half a billion, 600 million views. Some of our older viewers are seeing the footage for the first time as we play it now. How do you decide to go that far to shoot a video that way? What goes into that decision, and did you ever have an idea it would blow up this big?
FRENCH MONTANA: Honestly, I got to give credit to where credit is due. I was like, ship them all kids from Africa here. I don`t want to -- I don`t want to go --
MELBER: That was your idea at the start.
FRENCH MONTANA: I think, let`s give all them Visas. Let`s all bring them here. Then I spoke to Sam, my manager. He was like, if you want to catch the moment, you`ve got to go to Uganda. These people is like -- they taught me like the best lesson in my life. If you not rich in heart, you`ll never be rich, you know. So when I got there, it was my first vacation.
MELBER: Wow, and President Obama likes that song. He put it on his playlist. What happened?
FRENCH MONTANA: Yes. Shout out to Obama.
MELBER: How did you hear about that?
FRENCH MONTANA: I`ve seen it all over the internet. So shout out to Obama.
MELBER: And that`s my last question for you. This humanitarian work, global citizen, what does it mean to you and what do you hope you and with all of this collaboration, what do you hope to achieve?
FRENCH MONTANA: Man, I just felt like, first of all, number one thing on my list, every mother and child should have the right care. It should never be a privilege, it should be a right, you know? So that`s the number one thing. Number two thing is, you know, giving back is what we work so hard for. And definitely giving back to the people that can`t do nothing for you. You know, there`s no motive. It`s just God work, you know. It`s just opening the eyes to world leaders that could really help on the biggest scale, like global citizen, have international (INAUDIBLE) locally. So as Uganda, Morocco, stuff like that. But I feel like this is the biggest scale that we can do and you know, I feel like a lot of people need our help.
MELBER: French Montana, thanks for coming by.
FRENCH MONTANA: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: I appreciate it and I happen to be a fan.
FRENCH MONTANA: I got to hit a freestyle for this.
MELBER: We`ll build up to that on THE BEAT. Thank you.
MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT. It`s been a busy show from the time we`ve come on air. The House has voted to send the Democratic rebuttal memo to the White House. We`ll be clocking that all night. As for "Hardball," it`s up next right now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Memo versus memo. Let`s play HARDBALL.
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