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Lawyer used Trump email while paying Daniels. TRANSCRIPT. 03/09/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Jennifer Rubin; Aisha Moodie-Mills; Laura Bassett; Jordi Lippe-McGraw; Michael Avenatti, Paul Butler, Niall Stanage, Desus, Mero, David Rothkopf

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: March 9, 2018 Guest: Jennifer Rubin; Aisha Moodie-Mills; Laura Bassett; Jordi Lippe-McGraw; Michael Avenatti, Paul Butler, Niall Stanage, Desus, Mero, David Rothkopf

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now. Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, good evening.

Quick question, on the internet there`s a big debate on whether to say gif or jif. I see you voted.

TODD: I voted, choosy moms, choosy memes, choose gifs.

MELBER: Well, moms, if anyone knows memes it is moms, I don`t know. We will be watching MEET THE PRESS and I will join you in stays gif as well.

TODD: Fair enough.

MELBER: We begin THE BEAT tonight with the guest on the breaking story right now.

Stormy Daniels` lawyer is here with me live right joining me on the day that news broke that ties Donald Trump even comes closer to this scandal.

NBC obtaining new evidence showing that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen seem to be representing Trump`s company while working to buy Stormy Daniels` silence. Tonight`s story pokes another hole and Michael Cohen`s shifting defenses for facilitating this $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. Money that has now spark in election law complaint. A secret arbitration fight in California and this unusual grillings of Trump`s White House spokesperson.

But the biggest question haunting Cohen is actually the most obvious. If Donald was not his client in this matter, who was?

I`m joined now by Michael Avenatti, who is the lawyer for Stormy Daniels.

Thank you for being here.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` LAWYER: Thank you for having me. Good to see you.

MELBER: You have been in the eye of this storm this week. And today we see new developments in this story. If Michael Cohen was doing all of this of his own volition and not for Donald Trump, then, who is his client?

AVENATTI: It`s a very good question. And it`s a question that has not been answered by either Mr. Cohen or by the administration. And quite honestly, the entire story makes no sense. You don`t have to be an attorney to conclude this does not add up.

MELBER: So you know, this is the weirdest thing. Because in a lot of cases there`s a debate about are you right? Is Michael right? Is Stormy right? Is Donald Trump right? Like we know the players. And here, as I have seen you out on TV today and I have been reporting on this story as well, the latest development seems to be the idea that maybe Michael Cohen is just a rogue agent.

I want to walk through this for the audience. As you say you don`t need to be a lawyer. We will put up on the screen what we know. There you have Stormy Daniels as a client. And we have you, sir, her lawyer. Then we have Michael Cohen trying who has recently as last week is taking Stormy Daniels to go to arbitration to trying to make her be quiet as we understand it. And then the big question tonight, if Michael Cohen is not working for Donald Trump, who is his client? And I suppose my question to you is, is it that simple and does this help you win or lose? Because it does seem that Michael Cohen`s defense has become he is doing a lot of things on his own.

AVENATTI: Well, I think it is that simple. And the fact of the matter is I think it gets even simpler than that. Because Michael Cohen is a licensed attorney under the New York State Bar rules and attorneys in every state have very specific rules that they have to live by, that they have to operate by in order to keep their license. And in almost every state and certainly within New York, there is a requirement, meaning it`s not optional -- that an attorney inform his or her client at all times of all material facts relating to a negotiation, a case, et cetera.

So in this instance, if in fact Mr. Trump was Mr. Cohen`s client, then there`s no question that Mr. Trump knew all about this. Because Mr. Cohen would have an ethical obligation, not optional to inform Mr. Trump. If Mr. Trump was not Mr. Cohen`s client, then who was Mr. Cohen working for? The answer cannot be himself because he wasn`t a party individually to any of this. So the options are, either Mr. Trump or the Trump organization or some other unknown party that we haven`t heard about. But it is a very simple question. Who was his client?

MELBER: Yes. And this is the part that does confuse me. I have reported on parts of your case that are more questionable. The idea that you might get the entire NDA thrown out because of a missing signature is a big open debate in court. I don`t think you have won that. I think you have to see what the court says about that.

But the idea that their defense has become that Michael Cohen just spends a lot of money to help Donald Trump without Donald Trump`s knowledge, is as you say, not only shady, it literally would appear to violate these ethics rules. I noticed in your filing, you have a referenced to that. Are you seeking to make as well a separate ethics complaint against Mr. Cohen?

AVENATTI: We haven`t made that determination yet. But this is very straight forward, he needed to have communicated with a client. If he didn`t have a client, he had no business doing any of this. But quite honestly, and I have used every superlative that I can possibly think of, OK?

It is ludicrous. This suggestion is ludicrous. I`m going to use that one tonight. That this suggestion that somehow Mr. Cohen was operating on his own volition, not reporting anyone, spending all of this time -- I mean, this was not a negotiation that took 30 minutes. You don`t draft a document of this nature and spend an hour. We are talking about hours and hours and hours of work, back and forth, communications, arranging the payment, it`s a lot of work to undertake. And the fact that Mr. Cohen wants the American people to believe that he was just out there doing all this on his own and not reporting to anybody about it, it is not believable.

MELBER: Right. And that is the factual side that as I have reported has never made any sense. Now, you use the word ludicrous about your adversary, Michael Cohen. As you may know, tonight, he is using that same word about you.

Let me read this to you, sir. He has said, Mr. Avenatti is clearly allowed his 15 minutes of fame to affect his ludicrous conclusions, the earth shattering uncovering email between me and the bank corroborates all my statements. I transferred money from one account into an LLC, wired the funds to Ms. Clifford`s attorney, Beverly Hills. How Mr. Avenatti or the media at large, I guess that`s us, believes this to be breaking news is a mystery to me. Your response?

AVENATTI: Well, you know, I have been very fortunate in my career. I have been involved in a lot of big cases that have gotten a lot of attention. So I think I actually got my first 15 minutes about 20 years ago. So that`s number one.

Number two, I stand by the statements that I have made. The fact of the matter is that this could be cleared up very, very simply by Mr. Cohen providing all of the financial documents that he believes substantiates this claim of his, that the money was all his money, that Mr. Trump never had anything to do with it.

And quite honestly, if Mr. Trump wasn`t his client, then why did Mr. Cohen draft an agreement that had numerous places where Mr. Trump was to sign and has a number of references to Mr. Trump within the document?

MELBER: Right.

AVENATTI: It makes no sense. If I`m out operating on my own, and my client doesn`t know anything about, I don`t draft the document that has all of these references to my client.

MELBER: Last question. Mr. Cohen`s initial denial about the funds said he was not reimbursed by the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization. What does that tell you and why was he unable for whatever reason to say he was not reimbursed by Mr. Trump or Mr. Trump`s representatives?

AVENATTI: Mr. Cohen is engaged in what we call in the profession, lawyer speak. What he did not say was that Mr. Trump did not reimburse him.

MELBER: No, he didn`t.

AVENATTI: What he did not say was another surrogate for Mr. Trump did not reimburse him. What he did not say was that he paid it. What said was he facilitated it. It is a very interesting word, facilitate.


AVENATTI: He is engaged in lawyer speak, as opposed to straight speak. I don`t care if you are on the left, the right or in the middle. As it relates to this issue right now, you deserve straight speak. Straight speak by Mr. Cohen, straight speak from the administration. It says something.

MELBER: Well, it has been a pretty fascinating to watch this process hit the White House briefing room, hit Mr. Cohen with the FEC. And you and your client clearly doing something that is creating a reaction on a story that broke in the open, wide open two months ago.

I know you have been busy, Michael Avenatti. Thanks for being here.

AVENATTI: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Now, we have more on this story, and the news that Stormy Daniels was just making here with my next panel.

First, I want to share a little context on how this nearly two-month-old report has silenced the usually loud president and also raised questions, not only about Daniels, but whether these revelations suggest there could be more gag orders out there, more problems for Donald Trump.

Stephen Colbert was just asking our owned Chris Hayes about why this story matters.


STEPHEN COLBERT, TV HOST: Is the Stormy Daniels lawsuit important or just like news candy?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I think it actually is important. We are watching a cover-up come unraveled in real time. And it`s a microchasm of what I suspect is something that they have done a lot of. So this is one instance of one NDA that was signed, that locked one inconvenient set of facts away from public prying eyes. We have now found out about it despite initial denials. I suspect there are others.


MELBER: I suspect there are others. That`s my colleague`s view.

Democratic strategist Aisha Moodie-Mills joins me now, along with conservative opinion writer for "The Washington Post" Jennifer Rubin, and Malcolm Nance, MSNBC`s terror analyst and an expert on how some espionage services try to use blackmail.

Jennifer Rubin, I start with you. What you just heard from the lawyer, your reaction?

JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think there are two possibilities. One is that he simply was settling one case that he got reimbursed by Mr. Trump. And in doing so, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump both violated various disclosure laws and the FEC.

The other possibility, which I find more and more likely is that perhaps Michael Cohen was given a slush fund of lots of money. And it was his job simply to get rid of these problem people for Mr. Trump.

You know, you don`t come up with one of these complicated NDAs and have a whole process of sending money around just on the fly. This seems like a routine that these guys had down pretty pat. And I do wonder what it is for is just doing business as normal. He was given a certain pool of money. It is his job to clean up Donald Trump`s problems. And if that`s the case, I would like to know how many of these problems the Russians know about. I would like to know how many other opportunities for blackmail are out there. And I would really like to know the sum total of the people he has been paying off and why he has been paying them off.

MELBER: I think you put it very well. And that really overlaps with Chris Hayes` analysis which is, is this a pattern of practice? And does that mean there is more vulnerability for the White House?

Aisha, I want to sketch something out here on this Friday night, as we talk about the President`s problems with this adult film actress, with this vulnerability, with this obfuscations from Mr. Cohen, and think back to the larger context to the number of women who accused Donald Trump of misconduct and you talk about court, he threatened to sue them. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.


MELBER: What does it tell you that he never sued any of them in open court? And we learn that last week Michael Cohen was doing the opposite, trying to keep Stormy Daniels out of open court in secret arbitration.

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, we know that the President is a liar. And that is what keeps coming up time and time and time again. He`s a philanderer. He had these relationships. He has been paying people off.

What is interesting to me, though, as you replay that clip, Ari, is that he just admitted that he was clear that these women were coming forth with their stories in order to have some impact on his campaign. So it would be clear to me then that he authorized or knew about these women, or at least Stormy getting paid off in order to save his campaign. So to me, that is a confession right there that should be investigated.

MELBER: And that is an important facet of this. I want to play for you, Malcolm Nance, again the record here, Donald Trump talks a big game. And what we see in these NDAs, these gag orders as a type of settlement. And yet here he was talking about that is what he won`t do.


TRUMP: And I don`t settle cases. You know what happens? When you start settling lawsuits, everybody sues you. I don`t get sued too often because I don`t settle cases. I win cases in court.


MELBER: Malcolm, put that in a national security context for us. When he does settle and he appears in this instance, if you believe the lawyer we just heard from and not Michael Cohen that it wasn`t, you know, going rogue, that he settled in order to try to keep information private.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERROR ANALYST: Well, let`s put that in common parlance. He settles to cover up past malfeasance. This is a national security nightmare. I mean, it just sounds salacious because it involves a porn star. But what we have now is a President of the United States who pays people off, either what he thinks is legally or illegally, whether it`s a slush fund or not.

Here is one group of people that probably know all about this, the Kremlin. They know everything about it because this is a man who went to Russia in 2013, and did, you know, held the Ms. Universe pageant with an unsecure telephone. And whether he had other women on the side or whether he was talking to his lawyers about past cases, they know all about this.

And so, whether this information was used as blackmail, we don`t know. And anybody in the U.S. government who had a security clearance who had even a fraction of this occur, they would have lost their clearance and been kicked out of government.

MELBER: Jennifer, do you see this as primarily a story about lying and his relations which as I mentioned women were an issue in the campaign, or do you see it as Malcolm does it -- that broadly?

RUBIN: I see it really in both instances, there is the micro-story of him paying off different women, being behaving in ways that are -- would have gotten him perhaps short of the presidency had they been known.

But the larger question really is, what has this guy been up to his whole life? And is there just a pile of information out there that the Kremlin or other people frankly have in their possession that they can use to manipulate him.

Suddenly, you know, that Christopher Steele dossier seems a whole lot more credible for those people who are skeptical because you know what? Donald Trump has been hiding stuff his whole life. And he has been settling cases his whole life. So I think we need a full accounting, perhaps Congress can do that when the -- after the next midterms of what is out there, what are the claims that are brought, who are the people he has been paying off and why he is being paying off so many people over the course of his life?

NANCE: Right.

MELBER: Malcolm, go ahead.

NANCE: Yes. She is absolutely right. The whole question of national security comes into this with this continuous pattern of paying people off. This is not settlement, all right? These are under the table payments. If he will do that against his wife while she is having a child and do it using his lawyers, and this is just a question of not just personal behavior, this is a question of will he do this with national, you know, national priorities or national policies? Will he have to pay people off or are there people who think that Trump is already in debt and is paying them off? This is just really horrible.

MELBER: Aisha, take a listen to the counter argument from the President`s former aid Anthony Scaramucci. I`m going to read to you his claim here. Do we have -- Scaramucci basically says -- let`s take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an issue of blackmail, when you have somebody who has something negative about the President of the United States, they can use that as leverage against them, are you concerned about that angle?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: OK. So let`s address that. So - and I get Jonathan`s point about that. But at the end of the day, in this genre as it relates to this President, I don`t think the guys is blackmailable.


MOODIE-MILLS: Of course he is blackmailable. I mean, so I want to go back to a couple of things. One, yes, the President has a lot of dirt that we all need to know about. Congress needs to uncover this. I`m glad that there are people now, investigative journalists who have been digging and digging and digging. He has got a lot of dirt.

The piece I want to come back to, though, is that, we are creating a box around whether is dangerous to America. I have always believe he is dangerous to America because he could be blackmailed and lots of other reasons.

But we also should talk about his character. And be reminded that this is a guy that some Americans put into the White House that does not reflect the character of who we are as a people. And so when it comes to the midterms this year, it matters who is around singing his praises. And we all need to hold them accountable as well for the lack of dignity, the lack of respect for our society, and certainly for people that he and his friends are exuding. And so I want to remind us that this is an ethical issue as much as this is a legal one.

MELBER: Right. And it is one that is directly and cross purposes of a candidate who ran and said I win cases. I will sue these people. I will do it in open court. And what we learned, I think it is still sinking in because there has been other stories, is Michael Cohen was running around last week, forcing people into a secret proceeding so they couldn`t go to court. They couldn`t speak.

And I thank my panel for being a part of this conversation.

Coming up, Sam Nunberg in the grand jury room today for seven hours. That was of course after he came on "THE BEAT and pledge to defy Bob Mueller.

Also, Donald Trump telling friends he is tired of being reigned in and ready to defy the people around him. Does that explains North Korea?

Later, Vladimir Putin weighing in on the Trump White House.

And also tonight, Viceland stars, Desus and Mero are here for a special edition of fallback Friday.

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



AVENATTI: If Mr. Donald Trump was not Mr. Cohen`s client, then who was Mr. Cohen working for? The answer cannot be himself, because he wasn`t a party individually to any of this. So the options are, either Mr. Trump or The Trump Organization, or some other unknown party that we haven`t heard about. But it is a very simple question. Who was his client?


MELBER: Stormy Daniels` lawyer, Michael Avenatti. That was just moments ago on this show. This is a week that`s had a lot of bombshells on the case, from Daniels suing the President trying to get out of what she says is a hush payment that`s unfair. The White House denying the underlying conduct.

There`s also a new report here that Trump`s personal lawyer Michael Cohen used his Trump email address to arrange the details of this transfer.

Back on THE BEAT, I`m joined by Jordi Lippe-McGraw. She interviewed Stormy Daniels in 2011 for "In Touch" magazine. That was the original article that started it all. And I`m also joined by Laura Bassett, a political reporter for Tthe Huffington Post," who has also covered the issues of some of the accusers of Donald Trump`s misconduct.

What do you think of what you are seeing today and the role of Michael Cohen?

JORDI LIPPE-MCGRAW, INTERVIEWED STORMY DANIELS IN 2011 FOR IN TOUCH MAGAZINE: I mean, I think this story is just not ending. I feel like the "In Touch" interview coming out after "The Wall Street Journal" is just building and building and building. And it is going to hit a point where they can`t back away from this. There is more evidence coming out. And I think this is just the beginning, to be completely honest.

MELBER: Laura, I don`t know if you are familiar with the strategic advice, deny, deny, deny. Have you heard that? I`m less familiar with, deny, deny, claim you won in secret arbitration. It is a little different.

And here is Sarah Huckabee Sanders who did that. That`s -- and by the way, try new strategies. Try new things.


MELBER: That`s what she did and reportedly Donald Trump unhappy with that strategy. And there was more on that just today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said from the podium, you acknowledge that the President, to follow up on April`s question, knows about the arbitration involving Stormy Daniels, so does he remember speaking with his lawyer about that? Does he remember meeting Daniels --?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have already addressed this extensively. I don`t have anything else to add.


BASSETT: He has not addressed it extensively. I think there is a lot of question marks around here. Of course, I`m not a lawyer. I don`t understand the really specific legalese around this. What I know is that Trump is lying about not having any idea that these payments were made. It`s absolutely as Ms. Daniels lawyer said, ludicrous, the idea that he would -- Mr. Cohen on his own would pay a random adult film star $130,000 during the campaign and not even tell Trump about it on Trump`s behalf. It just doesn`t make any sense.

And I think what is interesting here is that you know, Trump during the whole campaign was, you could say a lot of things about him, that his voters knew that he was kind of crazy, that he said ridiculous things, that he had -- that there was tape of him saying that he grabbed women`s crotches.

But ultimately what stuck with Hillary Clinton was this corruption charge. You know, he was the honest one. He was the wild card, but he was always honest. And I think what`s going to hurt him in the next election is this idea that he is way more corrupt than she ever was.

LIPPE-MCGRAW: Yes, you kind of said it all. But again, like I said, there is just -- there is so much evidence out there now that I don`t know how they are going to figure out their way around it. I feel like when "The Wall Street Journal" report first came out, it was one report that they could say no, no, no. And they did. And even Stormy Daniels did. And the "In Touch" report came out with a 2,000-word transcript that just can`t be made up.

MELBER: Your interview.

LIPPE-MCGRAW: My interview. That I did six years ago, long before a nondisclosure agreement was even in place.

MELBER: Do you think Stormy Daniels, who you initially interviewed, is in a sense outsmarting Michael Cohen and the President?

LIPPE-MCGRAW: I think she is getting her ducks in a row for sure. I mean, I think she wants to be the one to tell her story. Yes, my interview did come out. But she have every right to be able to tell it. It is kind of out there now. And she obviously wants to --

MELBER: And do you think she wants to profit off this ultimately?

LIPPE-MCGRAW: I mean, I don`t know what her motivation is. I can`t speak for her and I haven`t spoken to her since 2011. But I think she wants to be able to tell her side of the story as her lawyers come out and said time and time again.

MELBER: Jordi and Laura, thank you both. This is a story that is not going away.

Up ahead, former Trump`s aide Sam Nunberg facing off with Mueller`s investigators today. This is caving after that media tour and changing his decision on this show. The latest on why it matters.

And also, it could get very real, an explosive reports sites people close to Trump saying he could fire his daughter, son-in-law and chief of staff. I have that report up ahead.

And queue the air horns -- Viceland`s Desus and Mero are here for a takeover edition of Fallback Friday right here on THE BEAT.


MELBER: Bob Mueller`s Grand Jury back in action today, grilling Sam Nunberg for seven hours. This is the total shift from his vow Monday to defy Mueller which he detailed in his first on-camera interview on THE BEAT. So unlike virtually every other witness who faced Mueller, Nunberg had publicly previewed his testimony. He speculated about Trump`s guilt and what Mueller has and why he thinks they`re building a case against Roger Stone.


SAM NUNBERG, FORMER AIDE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: They probably have something on Trump.

I think they were interested in something with his business.

MELBER: With his business?


MELBER: Did they ask you about the way he ran his business?

NUNBERG: Yes, they asked me about his business.

Because they`re trying to set up a perjury case against Roger Stone and I`m not going to have it.


MELBER: So, whatever you think of Sam Nunberg and how he played out that decision, I can tell you legally this whole week is different because he`s the first witness to threaten to defy Mueller, even if he didn`t. He`s the first to leak a Mueller grand jury subpoena which we all learn from and reported on. And also, while some obsessed over Nunberg`s media tour because he was the loudest, did you also notice this week there were actually three key Russia figures speaking out. Nunberg, his mentor Roger Stone and the wife of guilty Trump aide George Papadopoulos, You got to see it all to believe it.


NUNBERG: They`re not going to send me to jail.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK: You`d rather spend possibly a year in jail than 80 hours going through emails?

NUNBERG: I`m not going -- I`m not going to jail.

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE SHOW HOST: You know Mueller can arrest you, right? That`s like saying eat me to Hannibal Lecter.

TREVOR NOAH, THE DAILY SHOW HOST: That`s the face of someone who suddenly realize he`s screwed.

ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I didn`t ask Sam Nunberg to protect me. I don`t think I require any protection.

SIMONA MANGIANTE, WIFE OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: I was subpoenaed to appear in front of the grand jury in Washington myself and if Mr. Nunberg is surprised that being an American citizen and having worked with Trump, you can imagine how surprised I was --

MELBER: New charges against Paul Manafort and they added another ankle monitor to the indicted former Trump aide.


MELBER: That looks like a busy week. I`m joined by Paul Butler, former Federal Prosecutor, Niall Stanage, White House Columnist for the Hill, he writes the waters of this investigation rising higher, and Malcolm Nance is back with me as well. I`ll start at the table with Paul. What are you learning that`s important from those witnesses?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FERAL PROSECUTOR: Ari, for anybody who`s in the orbit of the Mueller investigation, the struggle is real. Mueller`s going in. He`s a hardcore prosecutor. It`s a cliche now to say that he`s going after these guys like an organized crime family, but he definitely is. So I think that`s part of what explains Nunberg`s erratic behavior. Again, if you have the 16 other countries best prosecutors, the best law enforcement agency in the world, the FBI, focused on you, you have to tell the truth, regardless of who you implicate and if you implicate people high up in the chain, that`s a lot of stress.

MELBER: One thing that I heard from people in legal circles, after the Monday interview, which obviously got some notice, was maybe a theory is that Mr. Nunberg and others are trying to alert Roger Stone and others through public comments, that which they otherwise couldn`t privately huddle about, which is pretty interesting, given "The New York Times" reporting that Donald Trump is also trying to talk to some witnesses. What do you make of that theory?

BUTLER: You know, I think it`s possible. Again, I think for Nunberg, Mueller is mainly at this point interested in him for documents and for leads. Ari, you know, that prosecutors are always evaluating witnesses, thinking about an ultimate criminal case. Nunberg now has no credibility so Mueller`s interested in him with regard to leads, why does he think Carter Page colluded with the Russians, why does he think Donald Trump knew about that meeting with the Russian lawyer, and also documents.

He subpoenaed everything that Nunberg ever touched with regard to Russia, with regard to Trump and with regard to a lot of other witnesses who he`s called. He`s going to compare the e-mails that he gets from Nunberg with the e-mails that he gets from other people like Roger Stone.

MELBER: Right. And Malcolm Nance, all of this is happening and it`s a backdrop where Russia continues to operate in ways that interfere with U.S. public discourse, interfere with potentially our elections, according to the intel agencies and then Vladimir Putin never wanted to stay out of it, gets up, and I don`t think people have seen this. Again, it`s been such a crazy week. I know you`ve seen it, Malcolm. Here is Vladimir Putin new remarks, praising Donald Trump`s well-balanced demeanor and their connection. Take a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): I am not disappointed in Trump at all. He`s made a great impression on me on a personal level and I think he`s a well-balanced person.


MELBER: Malcolm?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Vladimir Putin, ladies, and gentlemen, of course, he`s not disappointed in Trump. I mean, if many case officers had assets that worked this way and do everything that you want to do, and making it look like they`re not doing it for you, but I mean, it`s just as just amazing. That was almost a quarterly evaluation for Vladimir Putin, for an audience of one. That being said, you know, going back to what Paul was saying, Nunberg is going to have to talk, and I`m certain he did talk today.

All of these relationships that he`s had, the most important ones were the ones that he wants to protect the most. That`s WikiLeaks. Roger stone showed up in London last week and had his photograph taken outside of the Ecuadoran embassy where Julian Assange is. And I think that if Manafort -- I`m sorry, excuse me -- if Mueller gets the information that he wants out of Nunberg, Stone may end up in that embassy.

MELBER: I read you and I`m obligated to say of course that`s speculation, and Roger Stone is presumed innocent, and he hasn`t even been called, although whether that`s a good or bad thing we have been reporting on. Niall, on the reporting side, "The Wall Street Journal" has been a place for leaks. John Dowd, the President lawyer already pouring cold water on this but I will read you what the journal says is happening, "Trump`s lawyers want to use the interview with Trump as leverage in negotiations and they think they could use it to set a, "deadline" of 60 days from the date of the interview." Now obviously, now you know the President on this, Pablo Escobar, was allowed to set a deadline to the end of the investigation into him.

NIALL STANAGE, WHITE HOUSE COLUMNIST, THE HILL: You`re so much more expert on --

MELBER: No, it`s not a true thing, when you are under investigation, you don`t get to set any deadlines. It`s sort of wild, but I`m bringing the reporting to you, what do you think of it now?

STANAGE: Well, look, I mean, deadlines is something that the Trump legal team has raised all the time. This idea that Mueller is about to be finished and the speculation here around the White House among reporters is that this is a way of trying to keep the President calm, suggest that Mueller is about to be finished. The problem of course with that is twofold. One is his legal team has suggested that Mueller was going to be finished by Thanksgiving and then by Christmas of last year.

That didn`t happen. But secondly, to get back to your original point, there are these leads coming out all the time, new avenues that Mueller appears to be discovering, the waters rising as I wrote about today suggesting that really, President Trump and his -- the people around him are now in a really perilous position because we`re seeing this new information constantly on a daily basis.

MELBER: Right, Paul, briefly, your view with that deadline bid.

BUTLER: And Trump is so not going to ever have a sit down with Mueller. If it`s one thing, he`s going to listen on, it`s that he`s headed to self- destruction if he goes into that room with Robert Mueller.

MELBER: Paul Butler, Niall Stanage, Malcolm Nance, each shining different lights on all of this terrain. Thank you. Up next, they`ve been all over the late night shows, they`re taking over pop culture, if you don`t know about them yet, you are about to. They are taking over Fallback Friday night. Desus and Mero are here on THE BEAT when we`re back and that`s in just 90 seconds.


MELBER: Its Friday on THE BEAT and tonight we have a special edition of Fallback Friday. This one is a takeover. You know that it is a takeover when we queue the air horns. I am joined by Viceland stars Desus and Mero. Now, I`ve seen this two in action. They host their own hit T.V. show covering politics and culture. They have been all over the night and their podcast Bodega Boys just clocked its 100th episode.


MERO, COMEDIAN: Well, tonight we have illustrious guest, the New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

All the white dudes in the administration right now, do the ever confuse you for (INAUDIBLE)?


DESUS, COMEDIAN: Hard against his opponent, Oprah and not Putin.

MERO: Who`s not actually his opponent at all.

DESUS: Trump wanted to brag about the low African-American unemployment rate which has been on decline since 2011.


MELBER: Desus, Mero, thanks you for being here.

MERO: Thank you for inviting us.

MELBER: We only bring out the air horn on special Fridays.

DESUS: Thank you. We sure honored.

MELBER: Let`s start here. Desus, who needs to fall back?

DESUS: Who needs to fall back this week? You had him on -- it feels like a year ago, Sam Nunberg. Wow, wow, what a press run he had. He did every show in existence in like seven hours. It was amazing, amazing T.V. to watch. I watch -- I can`t believe we`re on the same room he was in. You had him on this show, he said he`s not doing the subpoena. He went through a range of emotions on your show and that was shout-out to you. That was a moment for the culture.

MELBER: Thank you. And Monday, he was feeling some type of way, today we learned that he is testifying.

DESUS: He is testifying. He went full circle. He came on, he had that energy, he said I`m not testifying. No one`s going to make me testify. Shout-out to Maya Wiley --

MERO: Maya Wiley.

DESUS: Maya Wiley, a respected lawyer talking you through it the way a public defender talks to a guilty client. She said, listen, you have to go to court. You can`t just say, no, we`re not doing the subpoenas.

MERO: You - not to her (ph) to her. You can`t do Jadakiss and just blow trial.

DESUS: No, no, no. He was acting like someone is trying to sell hmi something -- so he was like --

MERO: No, no, no, I`m good, I`m good. I tried that a couple of times, it didn`t work well.

MELBER: It doesn`t work.

DESUS: It doesn`t work. It doesn`t work well.

MELBER: Mero, or The Kid Mero as you`re actually known, who needs to fall back?

MERO: Martin Shkreli.

DESUS: Shkreli, Shkreli, Shkreli?

MERO: He`s just got seven joints as we say in the hood. That`s seven years for his defrauding of people and doing all this stupid stuff. I`ve been waiting for this guy to get his for the longest ever since -- you know the Pharma Bro thing where he`s inflating drug prices for people that need medication.

MELBER: Right.

MERO: This guy has been needing to get his for the longest and he finally got his, so you can fall all the way back. Almost said a bad word on T.V.

MELBER: The f-word you`re using -- the f-word you`re using is fall back.

MERO: Yes. You know, what I`m saying. Fall back and give me that Wu-Tang album. We need that for the culture.

MELBER: He did -- he did pull real money down.


DESUS: It was the only copy -- it was the only copy of the Wu-Tang the album.

MELBER: Yes, and that`s a rarity. I mean that`s special. My Fallback is a special group Fallback. When you think about all the former Trump aides making news this week, the people -- look at how many have been fired. That`s a rising red line to Gary Cohn this week. And I think they all need to fall back because these are people that Trump picked who are giving him trouble, you know. And I know that you may know there is a saying in Jamaica, we run tings, tings not run we. And you`ve got people in the White House, they are supposed to, if I may run tings and there`s been so many problems and so much chaos, and so many firings, it does feel like tings are running them.

DESUS: It`s chaos over. Also, every week meet new characters in this White House only to lose him at the end of the week. I don`t want to learn a new name.

MERO: This is the worst.

DESUS: Hope Hicks, I was rooting for her. I was like, hey, she could last at least a couple of months.

MELBER: It`s sort of like, I went to high school, we had exchange students, and I love exchange students, I always like meeting people from different places, but if you found out they were there for just a semester, sometimes --

MERO: Oh, man.

DESUS: Just when you were like aw man --

MERO: I was just starting to learn about Colombia, oh, man.

MELBER: Who else needs to fall back?

DESUS: Who else needs to fall back this week? The Russian Embassy for trolling through Twitter after the nerve attack in England, they went on and just like, hey, it just happens. It`s just regular. They went on to - - he was actually a British spy working for MI-6.

MERO: Wow, you actually --

DESUS: They were just like mind your business.

MERO: OK, all right.

DESUS: So you know, and it`s a very serious nerve attack, 21 people injured. You know, if this was a terrorist attack, we -- it would probably be 24/7 coverage and you can`t just get on Twitter and mock victims of a nerve attack like that.

MELBER: Yes, it also goes to -- when we talk about the culture or diplomacy or the world I guess, it feels like it`s getting meaner. I get that countries for a long time have been killing people, that`s the history of the world.

DESUS: Yes, that`s how spies work.

MELBER: Yes, there wasn`t always like bumper sticker gloating about it.

DESUS: Trolling or like making a me -- OK, we got you.

MERO: Got you! And he was like, got me! (INAUDIBLE) and like make fun of MI6.

MELBER: Mero, who needs to fall back? Who else is on your list?

MERO: I am keeping, this has been -- this has been a strong fall back for a long time now, Jeff Sessions -- where`s my camera?

MELBER: Jeff Sessions? You`re bringing it to new?

MERO: Where you at? Where you at? Jeff Sessions hates two things that I love, being Dominican and weed. You know what I`m saying? So you need to fall back. I don`t even know how you still have a job. You look like -- you look like a baby man, you look like Benjamin Button. Sit down, shut your mouth, go hide in the cafeteria until your term is over. You know what I`m saying. I`m going to come find you.

DESUS: He`s definitely coming for you now.

MELBER: Now, if your problem with Jeff Sessions is his cookie like quality, and who didn`t like a Keebler?

MERO: I love Keeblers.

MELBER: I love Keeblers personally. Or is it -- or is it what he stands for?

MERO: He is so -- I`ve never met anybody who`s so anti-Dominican in my life and being from (INAUDIBLE). I just don`t understand what his hang up is with us in particular.

MELBER: You think it`s specific to certain countries?

MERO: Yes, I mean, why us? Like, there`s so many of us Dominica, which you could very easily -- you know, confuse.

DESUS: Everybody from Dominica is like -- doesn`t even know about us.

MERO: Doesn`t know about us. He can`t even (INAUDIBLE)


MERO: So get him all the way out of here, fall back, Jeff.

MELBER: This is some of the strong -- this is the strongest fallback energy I have seen.

MERO: It`s impressive.

MELBER: Yes, you`re really saying it. Bill Kristol doesn`t yell fall back the way you --

MERO: No, I was going to run back and forth with a flag but (INAUDIBLE) took it from me.

DESUS: I loved Bill Kristol though, his segment with Fat Joe. That was a good one.

MERO: I love Bill -- I love Bill Crystal in City Slicker`s man.

DESUS: OK, that`s -- you know --

MELBER: I like that you guys seem like actual BEAT viewers because you`re just referencing all kinds of stuff just happening.

MERO: I watch it.

MELBER: Desus and Mero, congratulations on your show. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT and Fallback Friday

We`re not done. There`s new reporting Trump feels liberated to finally act more on his impulses. What does that even mean and how does it relate to North Korea? That`s next.


MELBER: New reports tonight. Donald Trump may fire his Chief of Staff, National Security Adviser, daughter, and son-in-law which could obviously complicate this new push for North Korean shuttle diplomacy. Why such a big change? Vanity Fair reporting Trump`s tired of being reigned in.

He`s feeling liberated to act on impulses and defy his advisers which when you think about it, does relate to the North Korea news. Consider that Mike Pence was pouring cold water on the plan just this week saying there would be no change without verifiable concrete steps from North Korea. And his own Secretary of State was saying this the day of the announcement.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: In terms of direct talks with the United States and you asked negotiations, and we`re a long ways from negotiations.


MELBER: But as you know, sometimes a long way is just a few hours. I`m joined by David Rothkopf, Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, CEO, and Founder of the Rothkopf Group and a Foreign Policy Specialist of ours. Good to see you.


MELBER: When you look at this announcement, is it a potentially good idea and how real is it?

ROTHKOPF: Well, I don`t think an idea had anything to do with it. I think this story is tied to the Stormy story and that this president is defined by the fact that he has really, really bad impulse control. He had bad impulse control back then and he has this is week defied all the news by his lack of impulse control. Remember the trade deal?

The trade deal, he was talking to a bunch of people and said, hey, we`re going to have tariffs. And then his staff scrambles around. And on this thing, you know, this happened, Tillerson didn`t know about it, his staff didn`t know about it, nobody in the White House knew about it. He said hey, a distraction. Maybe a distraction from the Stormy thing. Let`s do this. Then we`ll figure it out later. The plan for this administration is ready, fire, aim.

MELBER: Wow. Well, as you know, one of the hallmarks of the era we`re living in is that you can marshal any argument against Donald Trump from Donald Trump. And so here is what he tweeted in April 2017. The U.S. has been talking to North Korea for 25 years, talking is not the answer.

ROTHKOPF: Well, look, I mean, it`s also true that the North Koreans have been angling for a meeting with the President of the United States for a long time. They`ve been trying to get this to happen and past presidents have said, well, I`ll tell you what, why don`t you actually do something first. Why don`t you earn the meeting?

And in this particular case, the North Koreans got the meeting without actually promising anything. You know, they said we`re going to freeze but it`s not verifiable. We don`t know for how long it`s going to be for. And that`s why there was all this pushback today. And for an brief while, it was like, well, we`re not going to do the meeting. And then a few minutes later, it`s like, we said yes but we`re not sure when we`re going to do the meeting.

MELBER: If you -- if you take the most negative view that this is worthless or a hustle, how do you explain South Korea`s co-signing it.

ROTHKOPF: Well, look, talking is better than war. You know, there is no scenarios for war.

MELBER: Talking is better than war.

ROTHKOPF: Thank you. There`s no scenario for war in the Koreas that has fewer than hundreds of thousands of casualties. They are the ones on the line.

MELBER: So you think South Korea -- South Korea will try anything?

ROTHKOPF: South Korea`s the one that`s pushing this. It`s not our administration. We are not engaged in this thing. They brought this to the President. I`m sure they did not expect to get the outcome they got yesterday. They like the fact that they can take a breath, move it along, get it to the range of talk, and frankly, perhaps they can get this thing dragged out long enough that you don`t have as an impulsive a President of the United States at the time that we`ve got the next -- you know, push comes to shove moment with North Korea.

MELBER: Right. And there might even be fewer hate tweets. Who knows. David Rothkopf, thank you. And by the way, happy Friday. It`s been a week.

ROTHKOPF: Happy Friday.

MELBER: It`s been a week. Sam Nunberg face-to-face with the Mueller investigators today. We have an update on that straight ahead.


MELBER: Where does it all end? Well, it`s Friday and former Trump aide Sam Nunberg showed up to Bob Mueller`s courtroom today. He complied with the subpoena changing course after hearing from Maya Wiley right here live on THE BEAT on Monday. Tonight, we have some new video. This is from behind the scenes of that very much news-making interview, what he was saying before and after he was on set with us.


NUNBERG: This is so ridiculous. I`m not going to give them every e-mail I had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone. I communicate with them every day.

I think Carter Page colluded with the Russians and I`ve told that you before. I`ve told you that. Privately, I think he colluded with the Russians.


MELBER: What I can show you online if you go to our Facebook page is those behind the scene shots and shows Sam as arriving before and after the interview. As to what we learned today, let me tell you this. Bob Mueller did not spend seven hours of his grand jurors time just to the make a point or to intimidate Mr. Nunberg. We know that a lot was discussed because that`s a lot of people`s time and we`ll be reporting next week on what we learn about it. That does it for THE BEAT. You can always check us out on Facebook. I hope you have a great weekend. HARDBALL is next.