Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: March 12, 2018 Guest: Michael Avenatti; Shelby Holliday; Sara Azari; David Frum, Sam Nunberg, Barbara McQuade, Havoc, Robert Torricelli, Tammy Baldwin
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It`s as easy as ABC. That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.
THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
Ari, have got no joke for you today.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Katy, one thing. Listening to that had made me think OMG, SMH.
TUR: Yes, I would add a letter, but I`m not going to.
MELBER: Well, BRB. And we will see you soon.
MELBER: I thought I was getting a lot now. She is gone now.
My thanks to Katy. And we have two big developing stories on THE BEAT tonight. And two special guests, Sam Nunberg joins me here live after spending over four hours with Bob Mueller`s grand jury on Friday.
Sam, I will see you soon.
First though, my other top guest tonight is stormy Daniel`s lawyer, here for a live interview at the very time Daniels is upping the ante right now with a new challenge to President Trump`s lawyer and here is the context. She is offering to pay back the $130,000 famously facilitated by Michael Cohen. She says she wants the freedom to speak about the alleged relationship with Trump, which of course the White House continues to deny. And out of share any material or evidence, she also wants that privilege, she says. And her lawyer says Daniels would pay Donald Trump, himself.
That is interesting, even controversial because it challenges Donald Trump`s line that maybe his lawyer just went rogue with all this and paid Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket.
Now how high are the stakes? Well, new reports that Trump`s allies may try to ask a judge to stop "60 Minutes" from airing a planned interview with Daniels. The idea is some sort of Pentagon pay for her standoff for the Trump era. Only instead of the White House claiming that military secrets would be at stake, this would require Donald Trump to argue in court that the nation`s interests require stopping the free press to protect some sort of Stormy-related secret.
That`s background. Now let`s go to the man of the hour, Michael Avenatti. Welcome back to "THE BEAT."
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` LAWYER: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: You are making a big challenge here, number one. Have you heard anything from the Trump side tonight?
AVENATTI: Well, we haven`t heard anything back. But we don`t believe it`s actually a big challenge. We actually think it`s a fair settlement offer and one that should be seriously considered and accepted by Mr. Cohen and the President.
MELBER: There`s a point that you have raised which I would call clever lawyering, and I will read to you the "New York Times" account of it for folks following all this.
New York state professional standards for lawyers require a take any settlement offer like this one directly to their clients. That means Mr. Cohen is under a legal obligation to share your proposed deal tonight with Mr. Trump. Explain.
AVENATTI: Well, that is not really clever, Ari. I mean, these are the rules that lawyers operate day in and day out under around the nation, whether it be New York or California or Texas or anywhere else. I mean, it is very basic.
When you have a dispute, and we clearly have a dispute, and one side makes an offer to the other side, you as an attorney have an obligation to take that written offer to your client. Here we have made a detailed written offer. We made it earlier today. And Mr. Cohen and Mr. Rosen are under obligations to take that offer, that written offer, and present it to their clients and then get back to us.
MELBER: Well, let me put it like this. For any of my viewers who know, we do real talk here on "THE BEAT." I will say for their benefit, your presentation of the law there is correct in terms of ethics standards. What I`m getting at though, is that it almost seems like perhaps, to use the word of the era, that you guys are trolling Michael Cohen and Donald Trump because they have put out a kind of fantastical defense that you and I discussed on Friday which in the benefit of the real talk, I also told people is silly. Their defense being that maybe Michael Cohen went rogue, paid all this money and Donald Trump didn`t know about it. So you seem to be pressing or trolling that point by saying, well now, you have to tell Donald Trump who you believe to be his client in this issue about this offer.
AVENATTI: Well, Ari, quite honestly, if Mr. Cohen does not want to tell Mr. Trump about it or if Mr. Rosen does not want to tell Mr. Trump about it, so be it. I would find it very hard to believe that Mr. Trump doesn`t know about it at this point or perhaps he will learn about it later tonight.
The bottom line is our settlement offer requires the signatures of all the parties to the dispute. So that`s Mr. Trump, that is the LLC that Mr. Cohen set up and that`s my client. And people have said, well, there`s no way that the President`s going to accept this. Well, quite honestly, I don`t understand why not. The bottom line here is that my client wants a forum to tell her story.
AVENATTI: She is prepared to return the $130,000. And if they do not accept the settlement, this is yet another step, another process by which they are going to seek to silence my client. What are they afraid of? I don`t understand.
To this day, we have been at this now about a week. And we still don`t have answers to the following questions. Very simple. Did Mr. Trump know about the agreement? Did he sign the agreement? We think it is pretty clear he did not. Did he know anything about the payment, and did he pay it or arrange for someone else to pay it? This isn`t complicated. And they can run and they can hide, and we can go week after week after week ARI, but we are not going home.
MELBER: I gathered that. And I think it`s clear to viewers, one of the things that many experts on this show and others have said, is wow, if this happened to Barack Obama, this type of situation that you just outline, it would have been a big scandal hour after hour. Something about the nature of Donald Trump, his lawyering, the secrecy, et cetera, was for a while after "the Wall Street Journal" broke the story. It seemed to recede.
Now it`s very much back in force with the pressure you are putting on him which brings me to the Pentagon papers of our time. Your view of this interview which we know from the photograph, you were there for Anderson Cooper. I understand you and your client are not going to tell us what`s in an interview that hasn`t aired yet. So I`m not going to ask that.
But your view of the reaction reported by Buzz Feed and others that they would seriously consider the White House trying to get a prior restrained, a legal gag order on "60 Minutes "over whatever did transpire in the interview you attended.
AVENATTI: Well, I have to believe that that is not going to happen. I have to believe that at some point an adult in the room is going to raise his or her voice and say something along the lines of "are you crazy"? Because the fact of the matter is, is that, it is very unlikely that they would be successful in such an effort. And further, I think it would be a very sad day for our democracy, if you had a sitting President who would proceed with an action against a major television network in an effort to quash a story and prevent a citizen from speaking openly and freely about her version of events.
But I want to go back to something you said moments ago because I think is very, very important. This is not about the left. It`s not about the right. It`s not about Obama versus Trump, it`s not about Gary Hart, it is not about Bill Clinton, it is not about Anthony Wiener, it is not about -- the list goes on and on.
Very straight forward. This is about shooting straight with the American people. Shooting straight on the questions that I asked earlier. This isn`t complicated. It`s very simple. Has there been a cover-up here? Or has there not been a cover-up here?
AVENATTI: And what are they hiding? And why have we not heard from the President as to these issues? Every time, Ari, that the White House has asked about this, they deflect and they say they have answered the questions. They have never answered the question.
MELBER: Right. And that is true. And we saw that in Sarah Huckabee Sanders getting herself in hot water citing this arbitration proceedings.
I want you to stay with me. Donald Trump Jr. was asked about this actually today, too. We are going to play that in a minute.
But I want to bring in to join our discussion, a criminal defense attorney Sara Azari and "Wall Street Journal" reporter Shelby Holliday who has given us analysis on this story in the past.
Your view of what you are hearing from this attorney and this client who I think it`s fair to say have been effective at driving this message towards the White House.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Listen, I think that Michael`s offer is a reasonable offer. But it`s not a reasonable offer to someone who is saying he didn`t have an affair. He was not a party to the hush agreement. He who had no knowledge that the payment was wired on his behalf, which is the most incredibly incredulous thing I ever heard in my life. So when you are making this offer to someone like that, I mean, I`m not surprised that Michael hasn`t heard back from them. If they were to even respond it would negate their position, essentially, which is that they know nothing about it.
MELBER: Right. And that speaks the part of this that is not legal, and it`s not about lawyers, although we have assembled some here. That goes to whether this is a White House that can tell the truth and speak directly about what`s happening.
Don Jr. passed on an opportunity when asked about this today. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Stormy Daniels be able to speak, sir? Should Stormy Daniels -- Mr. Trump, should Stormy Daniels be able to speak?
DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP`S SON: Thanks, guys. That`s not what we are talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: These are the pictures, Shelby.
HOLLIDAY: Well, yes. And I actually couldn`t hear that perfectly. But I think generally what we are hearing and what my colleagues at the "Wall Street Journal" here back, anytime we asks questions about Stormy Daniels is fake news or some version of that. And so, I think politically, this is really interesting because it is becoming pretty clear that the payment may have been made the help Trump`s election but it continues to bother the White House so much that President Trump, a man who said you could shoot on - he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and no one would care is clearly very concerned about a porn star`s story. And this is the man who think he is untouchable. Yet he will not answer questions. And it looks like he is very vulnerable when it comes to these sorts of stories.
MELBER: You just made a key point, as you often do, Shelby, which is --.
HOLLIDAY: Thank you.
MELBER: Which is you are speaking to the hypocrisy of someone who brags about being invincible but doesn`t want to get out on the battlefield. And you think about that in the context as something we dogged up that I want to show everyone. And Shelby, I want your analysis of this politically. And then I will go back to Michael.
This was candidate Donald Trump appearing in what might be call an off- color skit while candidate on SNL. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, hey, don`t push. We are trying to do this ad for Donald Trump so he lets us live in his hotels.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, maybe visit the White House. I haven`t been there since `90s.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m Donald Trump. And I`m in no way, shape or form approve of this message. Didn`t you used to be a brunette?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: That`s what I thought.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Talk about a time capsule. I mean, that joke there was at the time, a candidate doing the appearances for media, and he was literally mocking, I would argue and I want your analysis, himself and his supporters, effectively, saying I don`t approve of this. But he is in the skit, played there by whatever you want to call the actresses there.
HOLLIDAY: Exactly. That clip says -- speaks volumes of President Trump`s character, but also he has talked about his personal life. And he has been very open about his escapades in previous years. I mean, it`s understandable that he would not want his wife and probably, more importantly, his 10-year-old son hearing all the details that Stormy Daniels may have to tell. But though is a man who is at times very open about his sex life and all of the sudden it is becoming very problematic for him to the point where we are not even getting answers. We are just getting fake news. And then another story that proves it is not fake news.
MELBER: Michael and then Sara.
AVENATTI: You know, Ari, I think it is important that we not get over the tips of our skis in connection with this. Now, what do I mean by that? What I mean is there is, you know, rumors floating that there`s paternity issues with my client. I will state unequivocally, there are none. There are rumors --.
MELBER: You state on behalf of Stormy Daniels here tonight, there is no paternity issue.
AVENATTI: One hundred percent.
Secondly, we have heard rumors that there was an alleged abortion, absolutely untrue. It never happened, OK. There is a tendency by many, (INAUDIBLE) on the left in this circumstance to do exactly what I mentioned which is we get over the tips of our skis in connection with this story. We want it to be more, you know. It`s not salacious enough, so we have to take it one more step.
And we are purposely guarding against that because we don`t want to be part of that. We want to be a part of the facts. We want to be a part of my client having the opportunity to speak to the American people and tell her story, which we believe is going to be far interesting enough. Further --.
MELBER: Interesting in the theory and sense of the word that it is salacious or interesting because you think it reveals something of public interest import?
AVENATTI: Well, I think it will reveal something of significant public interests, quite honestly. HOLLIDAY: (INAUDIBLE) this question?
MELBER: Yes, Shelby. Go ahead.
HOLLIDAY: Why did she sign this agreement in the first place if she wanted to tell her story?
AVENATTI: Well, I think she is going to disclose that. In fact, I`m highly confident that if this interview is aired at some point in time, that answer will be given during the interview and the American people will judge.
MELBER: You are saying in the "60 Minutes" interview, she is going to reveal details as to why she took the money at the time and a logical reason for why she wants to undo that?
AVENATTI: I`m not going to state exactly what`s in the interview, but what I am going to say is --
MELBER: But I think you did just allude to that.
AVENATTI: What I`m going to say is, is that issue, I`m confident, will be touched upon. How about that?
MELBER: OK. Briefly because we got to go, Sara.
SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There were reports that there was some form of coercion by Michael Cohen. But I think ultimately, what I want to see here are the bank records in Michael`s case. I want to see where the money came in, who the bank account holders were, where it went to, (INAUDIBLE) deposits. Maybe reimbursements for this money. I think that`s going to be telling in this case. And I think we have to follow the money.
MELBER: Useful and I appreciate everyone being here. As you know Jay-Z says what`s better than one billionaire? Two, and what`s better than one lawyer, two. Thank you both for being a part of this discussion and Shelby Holliday as well, our non-lawyer journalist.
We have a lot more on this show on tonight. Tonight that we started with this news, Sam Nunberg is back on "THE BEAT" after his appearance before the Russia grand jury. He is live with me tonight.
House Republicans announced they want to end the Russia probe tonight. We will explain why.
Donald Trump Jr. also making a political attack on Democrats. Trump-o- nomics with senator Tammy Baldwin on THE BEAT.
All that, plus my very special guest here is studio tonight, Havoc, from Mobb Deep. His sold over 40 million albums and he joins ne tonight.
I`m Ari Melber. You are watching "THE BEAT" on MSNBC.
MELBER: Now turning to some unusual breaking news. The Republican leading the House intel committee`s Russia probe says tonight, they are finished. Mike Conway now concluding that this probe is done interviewing witnesses. They are preparing a final report, which they say, according to these statements tonight, this is new. They are going to say in this report that there was no Trump collusion with Russia and there is no evidence that Putin wanted Trump to win.
Again, I`m saying that to you not because it is a true thing or a verified thing. I`m saying that to you tonight on tonight`s broadcast because this is the news breaking from Republicans on the House committee. And they are saying they will issue these findings on collusion before Bob Mueller clearly says what he found.
The White House, they don`t seem to think Mueller will be done anytime soon. In fact, Donald Trump now considering hiring a key lawyer who represented Clinton during impeachment.
And this just breaking. The man in charge of Bob Mueller`s probe, deputy attorney general Rosenstein, announcing new support On the Record. This was a "USA Today" exclusive interview just came over the wires. They say that Rob Rosenstein says Bob Mueller is not an unguided missile. The DOJ operates with integrity. And he adds, there`s no reason to fire Bob Mueller.
I`m joined now by David Frum, the author of "Trumpocracy, the corruption of the American Republic."
David, I want to get to all of that, including Rod Rosenstein making these very news-worthy statements. But I have to begin, of course, with what the House Republicans are doing. Your analysis.
DAVID FRUM, AUTHOR, TRUMPCRACY THE CORRUPTION: Bad timing for them to release this early version of the report on the I have day, the very day that the presidential spokesperson refused to endorse the words of the prime minister of Britain that Russia was implicated in the nerve gas attack on their soil.
Normally, in any normal administration, no British prime minister would say such a grave thing without information from U.S. intelligence agencies without clearing it with the U.S. counterparts. They would not have made it based on chemical analysis. They would have intercepts of various kinds. CIA, FBI, they would all have the same information that led the British government to say what it did. But Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn`t say that and the House Republicans and say, no problem. Nothing to see.
MELBER: Yes. And the idea that the House is going to say, in the wake of the recent Mueller indictments and other information that there wasn`t even a Putin preference, right, which is different from whether there was high- level conspiracy strikes me as an overreach that almost just undermines any claim they would have had that this was somehow, you know, independent or credible.
I want to play for you something from someone who just sat down with Vladimir Putin, who just came back from Russia about her view, Megyn Kelly, of what is really going on. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I do think, I did glean that perhaps he has something on Donald Trump. I think, you know, there is a very good chance Putin knows some things about Donald Trump that Mr. Trump does not want repeated publicly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What do you think of the context of that piece of analysis as well Rod Rosenstein saying, and I`m just reading from what just came over the wires. I don`t believe, this is Mueller`s boss, there is quote "any justify for terminating the special counsel Bob Mueller."
FRUM: Well, I`m not going to get on front of what Bob Mueller knows or to say whether Vladimir Putin has something on Donald Trump or whether he has something that Donald Trump wants and is still fantasizing about the world`s tallest hotel building in Moscow with Trump`s name on it.
But the key thing, and you referred to the Republicans, on the House on the intelligence committee overreaching. They also under reach. You know, when you refuse to interview relevant witnesses, when you refuse to press them and when you refuse to hear evidence on oath, when you refuse to wait for the information that you would get from the special counsel and then you produce a conclusion, I mean, the level of responsibility that you and I are showing on the air waves as journalists who, you know, could be wrong about stuff, compared to what the people who have the charge of overseeing in the House of Representatives, America`s intelligence efforts, their level of responsibility, about their conclusions, you know, it is really kind of, either a compliment to us or an indictment of them.
MELBER: I appreciate the way you put it. And briefly, Rosenstein making these statements, that`s got to upset the White House.
FRUM: You know, Bob Mueller did not become one of the most admired men in Washington for no reason. And Rod Rosenstein knows the Mueller record. He know what people in the intelligence community and the FBI think of Bob Mueller. Rod Rosenstein, if he were to say anything other would be saying that isn`t true. And good for him for not saying something that isn`t true.
MELBER: Yes. David Frum, always appreciate your insights.
FRUM: Thank you.
MELBER: Thank you.
Ahead, it is about to get real on THE BEAT. The legendary rapper, Havoc, from Mobb Deep is here for our Monday segment, "the realist."
And coming straight off his testimony from inside Mueller`s grand jury box, Sam Nunberg, you are looking at him, live is here on THE BEAT back with me. Are you ready Sam?
NUNBERG: Yes, sir.
MELBER: All right. We will be back right after this.
MELBER: Now we turn to my interview with former Trump campaign adviser, Sam Nunberg. He is back on "THE BEAT" after facing four-and-a-half hours in Bob Mueller`s grand jury box on Friday.
When you look at this probe, only a handful of people have been confirmed to have testified before the grand jury. You see there, Sam is one of those special few, and he joins me now.
Thanks for coming back on "THE BEAT".
NUNBERG: Thank you, sir.
MELBER: When they questioned you, what was your understanding of the focus? What they wanted to know most about?
NUNBERG: Well, first of all, what they didn`t want to know was my opinion. They only wanted to know facts and they only wanted to know things that I would know from the time I worked for then Mr. Trump and through my relationship with Roger Stone. So I have been pretty public about. They don`t want to know anything from me, because I wouldn`t know anything about obstruction of justice. I wouldn`t know anything that I could have heard that was going on during the campaign when I was on the campaign. Obviously, it has been public, you know, through Adam Schiff and everybody else. They want to know the relationship that Roger had with Julian Assange.
MELBER: You mentioned Roger. We can put up some of the key names on the subpoena that you received that we have had.
NUNBERG: OK, sure.
MELBER: Cohen, Stone, Bannon, Manafort. Did they ask you about each of those people?
NUNBERG: No, they did not. They did not.
MELBER: They didn`t ask you about Roger Stone?
NUNBERG: Excuse me, they asked me about Roger Stone. Obviously, you know I have a very close relationship with Steve Bannon, (INAUDIBLE) it came up. And you know, my relationship with Michael, in past work I received with Michael which I consider most of it. And as I have said to them, it`s privileged, because he is a lawyer and I`m a lawyer. So I can`t disclose things like that to them.
MELBER: One interesting thing about Roger Stone is everyone is trying to figure out, did he hurt himself by bragging too much about things he didn`t do or did he disclose things that he did do. And we know, our audience knows from watching, that you are loyal to him. And you don`t think he did anything wrong. In fairness to him, and we do fair reporting here, I want to play Roger Stone. You weren`t the only witness who spoke out last week. He came out. He hadn`t spoken on TV in a long time.
MELBER: Here he was on MEET THE PRESS, talking about his denial. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGET STONE, FORMER TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ADVISER: My direct message with Guccifer 2.0, if that is who it really is, come six weeks, almost six weeks after the DNC emails had been published by WikiLeaks. So in order to collude in their hacking, which I had nothing whatsoever to do with, one would have needed a time machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Did they ask you about his dealings with Julian Assange?
NUNBERG: Yes, they did. They asked what did Roger tell me about his dealings with Julian Assange or his communications with Julian Assange during the election.
MELBER: So on Friday, Mueller`s investigators were trying to basically test what either they have learned or what they think about Roger Stone`s dealings there with what he would have told you at the time. And I trust your position is that you were honest about that.
NUNBERG: Of course I was. I have to be. I have no choice. First of all, you have to be once you are in there, second of all, I`m a lawyer.
Look. This is a discussion I had with Roger during that summer. I said to Roger, you are giving yourself a lot of exposure, claiming that you are in communications with Julian Assange. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn`t. I happen to think that he may be using some, let`s say (INAUDIBLE). And I thought at that time because Hillary Clinton was going to win, and she was surely going to have an independent investigation on this. Little did I know that only Donald Trump can win and we still have an independent investigation on this.
MELBER: What did Roger Stone say to you that you relayed to Mueller`s folks about his dealings with WikiLeaks?
NUNBERG: I can`t get into that. I mean, that is - that is not fair to them. That`s not fair to the investigations. I can`t tell you specific details. That wouldn`t be --
MELBER: When you see Roger Stone says that he would need a time machine, he`s referring to one part of the hacks, right, to the DNC hacks, but then there`s also the Clinton campaign Podesta hacks. Did he ever in your view seem to be someone who wanted to take credit for that? Why would someone want to take credit for those crimes? I mean, that`s stolen property.
NUNBERG: Well, first of all, I don`t know if Roger considers those are crimes. Roger`s argument, it`s not my argument, and I understand that Julian Assange, by the way, you told me had retweeted or tweeted our segment last week. I`m not a fan of Julian Assange.
MELBER: You`re not a fan. Well, you mentioned that. We can put that up. He wrote astounding 35-minute interview between Roger Stone associate, that`s how he views you, Nunberg and myself, and that`s a rare tweet from Julian Assange so all around the world, they`re watching you.
NUNBERG: So let me just say, Ari.
MELBER: Yes, your point is?
NUNBERG: My point is I don`t believe he`s a journalist, and I agree with - - I agree with our government. I agree with what the CIA. I don`t know specifically how they described him but he`s certainly some kind of an enemy of the state with what he discloses --
MELBER: You think Julian Assange is an enemy. I want to play Roger Stone, this is Roger Stone talking about Assange as a journalist. It sounds like we`ve found an area of disagreement between you and your mentor.
NUNBERG: And I`ve always told -- by the way, I`ve always told him that.
MELBER: You said that. Take a look at Roger Stone and Assange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I say this about Julian Assange. I reject the idea that he`s a Russian asset. I reject the idea that WikiLeaks is a Russian front. I think he is a journalist and courageous journalist and frankly, his track record for accuracy and authenticity is superior than the New York Times or Washington Post.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Do you think that Mueller`s investigators look at Julian Assange as a protected journalist or a potential co-conspirator?
NUNBERG: I think it`s pretty axiomatic that they do not look at him as a journalist and they haven`t during the Obama administration. And even when Donald Trump said during the campaign I love WikiLeaks, his CIA Director said early in the administration, I forget how he described him, maybe you would know, a some kind of enemy of the state, you know, not verbatim. I`m paraphrasing. He`s not a journalist. Remember, he`s held up in an embassy because he`s trying to escape a sex charge. This isn`t because of his journalistic work and he is somebody who may have not directly, because Putin is too smart, given him the hacked -- giving him the hacked e-mails, but he was certainly an asset of the Russians, vis-a-vis intermediaries.
MELBER: Another big story right now as you know relates to something that was reported in Fire and Fury and I`m going to read from Fire and Fury. They talk about another one of Trump`s lawyers, not Michael Cohen but Kasowitz, and they say according to Bannon, so this is a quote from Steve Bannon. Kasowitz has gotten Trump out of all kinds of jam. He was on the campaign. What did we have, "100 women," Kasowitz took care of all of them. You see that report at the same time that Michael Cohen is under scrutiny as we showed earlier in the broadcast. Did Mueller`s folks ask anything that related to these issues around payments to people or women?
NUNBERG: Well, look, they asked if I had ever heard anything about that, and my answer is I never have. I don`t know anything about it, and I wouldn`t have known anything about it.
MELBER: So on Friday -- so on Friday --
NUNBERG: No, not on Friday.
MELBER: When did they ask about that?
NUNBERG: In my voluntary interview. And it would have been -- and it would have been dereliction of duty not to ask me.
MELBER: But I`ve never -- I`ve never heard you say that publicly before. In your FBI interview with Mueller`s team, they were asking about payments to women?
NUNBERG: They were asking if I knew anything about it.
MELBER: They were asking if you knew anything about payments to women.
NUNBERG: But I think it`s pretty obvious that they`re looking into this especially because, and this is the issue. Besides the LLC, you have now this $130,000 payment that was made after the election from campaign to Trump org for -- you know, so it just seems a little suspect.
MELBER: But their only as you know, you mentioned your lawyer, as you know, their job is not to write a book or look up anything that`s potentially interesting, they are supposed to investigate potential crimes. So if they`re asking you about payments to women made on behalf of Donald Trump --
NUNBERG: That`s not the way they asked. That`s not -- that`s not --
MELBER: What -- how did they? Tell us.
NUNBERG: In my voluntary interview, they wanted to know if I ever --not about specific payments, if I`ve ever heard of anything like that going on, to which I never have nor was I at the campaign --
MELBER: During that time. No, and I understand. This is much more about the questioning that`s going on than anything you know.
NUNBERG: This is not -- and by the way, Ari, the only -- I do not want to go over what they`re presenting to the grand jury. To me, it`s different to what they`re presenting to the -- in a voluntary interview.
MELBER: I understand the distinction you`re making and for the benefit of viewers, you`re saying there`s a difference between questions you were asked in a FBI setting and what you told the grand jury.
NUNBERG: And I don`t want --and I don`t want to go against the Special Counsel in what evidence they`re presenting.
NUNBERG: Let me just say something by the way, about this grand jury that I think it`s important for America to understand.
NUNBERG: First of all, this grand jury is taking this very, very seriously to the extent that I was able to look at them mostly because I was facing the person that was questioning me, to the extent that I was able to look them, they were taking notes. They were focussed. They were interested.
MELBER: You, and I believe you were talking to a prosecutor named Aaron Zelinsky who has to join the probe in 2017.
NUNBERG: Did I tell you that? You can tell -- I never told you that, correct?
MELBER: No, but that`s my understanding.
NUNBERG: OK, yes, that`s who it is, and he`s extremely talented. I tell - - I say that I felt like I was back (INAUDIBLE) I was boom, boom, boom, boom because they`ve limited time. They don`t meet every day so they have a limited time to present to them exactly what they want.
MELBER: The last thing I want to ask you is you did change your mind. You made a lot of big public statements about how were you going to handle this and then you have changed and you seem different today than you did last Monday. In a nutshell, what do you want viewers or Americans who are following this to know about this because people said a lot of things about you?
NUNBERG: Look, I was extremely, extremely stressed. I`ve said this yesterday. And in Twitter, they brought up a lot of bad things that I had to get over when I was fired in 2005 -- excuse me, in 2015 and it`s a different process. And what people saw -- could see with me is that somebody like me, who I don`t profit from -- I don`t try to profit. I just want to do thing for the President. I get dragged into this, and I`m really collateral damage.
MELBER: Right. And that`s how a lot of witnesses at times they felt. Sam, thank you.
NUNBERG: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: You can stay at the table. I want to bring in former Federal Prosecutor Barbara McQuade. Barbara, what jumped out to you as someone who reports on this? This is the first time I`ve heard a public statement about the previous questions about potential payments to women that may or may not be involved with the President.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, same here. I haven`t heard that before. You know, I would be surprised if Robert Mueller and his team want to focus on payments to women. It`s important to keep your eye on the ball about the Russia investigation, and this seems quite far afield. But I suppose there could be some relevance here to the extent they`re looking into obstruction of justice, if there is a common scheme or plan of paying hush money to people then that concept could be important. And so, I know Mr. Nunberg does not want to reveal the questions and answers which I appreciate. He`s not trying -- he`s trying not to undermine the investigation and the integrity of it. But it may be that those questions are much broader in the sense of being aware of making payments to others that could be part of a common scheme or plan to obstruct justice.
MELBER: And so, that dove tails with another news item today reported by Bloomberg but it fits with something you and I and others have talked about which is that the obstruction piece is on the side comes later if at all as compared to the core. Your view of that when we hear that maybe they`ve found what they need on obstruction, whatever that may be. We don`t prejudge but they hold it in abeyance, your understanding of that.
MCQUADE: Yes, you know, that actually makes a lot of sense to me. If you have virtually completed your investigation on obstruction of justice, it might be useful to give context to that charge to complete the investigation into obstruction of what exactly. Because I think it`s a much more compelling argument for an injury or Congress or whoever the fact finder is, in the end, to know what the stakes were in terms of this obstruction. Was there obstruction of something very minor like cover-up or hush money for women or was it instead something that goes to the very heart of our democracy, like working with Russians to affect the outcome of the election. So it wouldn`t surprise me really if they didn`t set that aside. At some point, there`s a statute of limitations by which they must file it, but theres nothing that says they have to file it today just because the investigation is complete.
MELBER: And last question. All the discussion of WikiLeaks, Mr. Nunberg confirming that we`ve heard elsewhere that this a line of inquiry, and that Roger Stone hasn`t been called in yet. What do you read from that?
MCQUADE: Well, it doesn`t surprise me that it`s a line of inquiry. I think that that goes to the heart of this idea of the hacking of the e- mails at the DNC and Hillary Clinton`s campaign, and so it doesn`t surprise me they want to do that. I think at some point, they will want to talk to Roger Stone unless he is a target of the investigation.
MELBER: Right, unless --
MCQUADE: In which case, maybe not and it could be he`s the target.
MELBER: I`ve got to fit in a break. I want to thank Barbara McQuade and Sam Nunberg for joining our coverage. Up next, a lot more on this breaking news with House Republicans wrapping up the Russia probe. Also, the influential rapper Havoc from the legendary group Mobb Deep is here. What`s on his mind when we`re back in 90 seconds.
MELBER: It`s Monday on THE BEAT, so it`s time for a new segment we do on Mondays," THE REAL LIST" where we focus on what`s important in the world, what`s real in the news and people who are doing something positive, fun or significant. Our special guest tonight, our former New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli who served in the Judiciary Committee and Recording Artist and Rapper Havoc. He formed the legendary rap group Mobb Deep with Prodigy. They have sold over 40 million records, including a platinum album and three gold albums. Gentlemen, thanks for joining me.
HAVOC, RAPPER: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Senator, who is on your "REAL LIST"?
ROBERT TORRICELLI, FORMER SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY: This is easy for me. Gun control is being discussed in every living room, every kitchen table in America. It`s going to be debated in the House of Representatives, it`s been debated on every network, every place except the United States Senate. Mitch McConnell will not bring it up even for a debate. Eight young students led by Alex Dubinsky went to McConnell`s office and learned a valuable lesson in American democracy. Sometimes there`s a high price for doing the right thing and they were arrested. They were arrested. I`m sure it was difficult, but they stood for students all across America who have said enough is enough. Stand up to the NRA. We want these guns out of our schools. We want to save these lives. To me, it doesn`t get any more real than what they did.
MELBER: Yes, I appreciate you as a Senator, a former Senator, saying that, because they were doing civil disobedience, taking a risk. Havoc, you know how excited I am to have you here.
HAVOC: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Who`s on your "REAL LIST"?
HAVOC: Who`s on my "REAL LIST"? Carrington Harrison is on my "REAL LIST." An album taken in the front direction because he made this thing called Kanye Madness and he used a whole bunch of Kanye songs to you know, do the whole NCAA tournament, and it went viral and it`s crazy and I have a personal and vested interest in it because I produced two of Kanye`s songs recently, you know, Real Friends, and Famous. So let`s see how that go.
MELBER: So you`re behind Famous? Are you rooting for Famous to take the (INAUDIBLE)?
HAVOC: I`m rooting for Famous -- I`m rooting for Famous. We`re going to get it.
MELBER: My "REAL LIST" is Kate McKinnon who made a lot of ways with the Bachelor called open of SNL this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE MCKINNON, COMEDIAN: I`m trying to be honest with you and tell you I can`t commit to collusion right now. The more time that goes by, you know, the more that I keep thinking about obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is amazing and it also does something through comedy that`s so important which is as this joke Bob Mueller character she`s reminding everyone, you can`t commit to the end of the investigation. Senator, we don`t know where it`s going to --
TORRICELLI: And not for the first time. "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" now is actually leading some of the national political debate. It is amazing how it`s moving the political culture every week.
MELBER: Yes, and everyone is talking about the probe.
HAVOC: Oh yes, I mean, the probe is like one of those things like -- it`s like a soap opera. It`s like is it going to end? Is it in danger? You know, so --
MELBER: Senator, who else is on your "REAL LIST"? I heard it`s an animal.
TORRICELLI: This -- well, not exactly. But Ellen Degeneres, thank you so much. In the middle of all this national chaos and disgrace, people may have missed this. But last year the administration recommended allowing, again, overriding President Obama to bring in trophy animals, in other words, the parts of elephants or other great species into the United States. Donald Trump took a stand and he overruled it, and he banned it until last week when he reversed himself, I assume after meeting with the NRA. Ellen Degeneres has brought this into national focus. She just made this into a central issue. The elephant herds in Africa have been reduced by 75 percent. A hundred of these intelligent, magnificent animals are butchered every day by poachers. To the extent we allow that to happen on those animals, we brought them to the United States, we`re undermining our credibility in stopping the poachers from killing them. Ellen, well done.
MELBER: And to have an administration go out of its way on this side of the issue is hard to relate to. Now, Senator, you were an elected official from New Jersey. You represented New Jersey.
TORRICELLI: I did.
MELBER: And Havoc, you represented Queensbridge.
MELBER: So I got to ask, what`s better to represent?
TORRICELLI: I actually believe we produced more music.
HAVOC: Oh, you think so?
TORRICELLI: I do. I do.
HAVOC: I mean, Queens got the best rappers.
TORRICELLI: Whitney Houston, the Four Seasons, Frank Sinatra, pretty tough list.
HAVOC: Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, Nas, --
TORRICELLI: I`m not conceding anything.
MELBER: I`ve got to tell you. I think Queensbridge wins.
TORRICELLI: Really? My generation --
MELBER: But as a journalist, I am biased. I`m disclosing my bias. The last thing on music that I did want to ask you is many people in the music industry and in the community were saddened, of course by your partner, Prodigy`s death. How are you also reflecting on that and is there more music because we`ve heard there may be another Mobb Deep album?
HAVOC: Yes, the way that I`m reflecting on it is just trying to keep the legacy alive. You know what I mean. We deserve that. And I`m actually currently working on the new album in conjunction with the family so it will be out there pretty soon, before the end of the year.
MELBER: Before the end of the year and that will be a Mobb Deep album?
HAVOC: It will be a Mobb Deep album.
MELBER: Wow. And your mixed tape, when does that come out, sir?
TORRICELLI: My mixtape is in production. It`s the American songbook.
MELBER: Representing New Jersey, representing Queensbridge, both of you, an honor to have you here. And together, thanks for being on "THE REAL LIST", on THE BEAT.
TORRICELLI: Thank you.
HAVOC: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Making history, now ahead why Democrats are calling Trump`s tax plan a giveaway to the one percent and how they`re fighting back? Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin joins me on that and Russia next, live.
MELBER: Breaking news tonight. House Republicans ending their Russia probe. They suggest they will issue conclusions that there was no Trump- Russia collusion. I`m joined by Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin to talk about this and other stories. When you look at this news, does it mean that the House investigation was always a sham and what is the Senate going to do about all this?
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: It`s such a great question. It`s astonishing to me to hear this breaking news. But it`s very clear that Russia interfered with our elections, which is what we want to get to the bottom of and have an action plan to stop. The interference was widespread, whether it was trying to hack into voter registries or just spread misinformation throughout the electorate. There was extensive interference. That is an attack on our democracy and it can`t be allowed to continue. Thank goodness that there is still a bipartisan panel in the Senate actively exercising their oversight and collecting information. And I am wanting Special Prosecutor Mueller to get all the leeway he needs to get to the bottom of the fact. We need to --
MELBER: I mean, let me ask you briefly. Do you think it`s credible for House to say there is no collusion at this early state without even seeing where Mueller lands?
BALDWIN: You know, I do not believe it`s credible. But even aside from that, what do they think their job is if it is not to get to the bottom of the issue of Russian attacks on our democracy. They take it so lightly and yet this is something that is, you know, a foreign adversary messing with our democracy. You know, it`s outrageous and they should continue their efforts to make sure that our democracy remains strong.
MELBER: Yes. And Senator, as you have been advocating, this is not the only issue right now. I was talking to Cory Booker, your colleague, last week. I know you have a new measure that would stop companies from you say, hording some of the gains from the Trump tax bill and try to help workers and there`s a vote this week. How would that work and why are Senate Democrats focused on this right now?
BALDWIN: Well, I have to say, first of all, since we were promised the tax bill that the Republicans brought forward would result in trickle-down benefits for the hard-working people of my state and the country, obviously we have seen that that is not the case. The benefits, 80 percent or more of which went to the top one percent and the biggest most powerful corporations are not trickling down. In fact, they are being invested back to profit and benefit the top in the form of stock buybacks. So back in 1980, the Securities and Exchange Commission passed a rule creating a safe harbor for stock buybacks by companies.
We`ve seen since that time profits or net income of S&P companies, for example, go from two percent of their profits to almost 60 percent. And we are not seeing the widespread benefits among the working people. I have a really good Wisconsin example of this. Actually, I should say a really bad Wisconsin example of that. Kimberly-Clark, a corporation that was founded in Wisconsin in 1872 received over $3.3 billion in profits last year. One of the most profitable plants was a plant in Menasha, Wisconsin. Early this year in January, they were told that the workers in that plant had met or exceeded every goal set for them.
BALDWIN: And then three weeks later they were brought into the same conference room and told that their plant was on the slate foreclosure.
MELBER: We`re running out of time so give me the goal of it.
BALDWIN: Right. At the same time that the company announced $911 million in stock buybacks. These are misplaced priorities. They`re short-term profits for their shareholders, and they are not investing in the hardworking people who made those profits for them and that`s wrong and we need to put a stop to it.
MELBER: Well, I know it`s an issue near and dear to you which is part of why I wanted to talk to you tonight and we will keep an eye on that vote and we will cover it on THE BEAT. So Senator Baldwin, thank you for your time tonight.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
MELBER: There`s also that promise to build the wall. We have some news on that, up next.
MELBER: Trump is going back to California. The President heading west tomorrow. He will inspect prototypes for a border wall with Mexico. This is back to the promise you might have heard it this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re cleaning out. We`re doing it.
AMERICAN CROWD: Build that wall! Build that wall!
TRUMP: We are building the wall, 100 percent. 100 percent.
We`re going build the wall, and we have to build the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: California has been clashing with Trump, including over the sanctuary cities policy. There are expected to be major protests for his arrival. Now, we`ll be covering that with a special guest, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on THE BEAT. Another interesting guest I would argue. That does it for me though. I`ll see you tomorrow at 6:00 but until then, "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END