Facebook CEO speaks out. TRANSCRIPT: 03/21/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Clint Watts; Roger McNamee; Neera Tanden; Bob Bauer; Renato Mariotti

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: March 21, 2018 Guest: Clint Watts; Roger McNamee; Neera Tanden; Bob Bauer; Renato Mariotti

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: So we journey deep into the NBC News reference library where we found a dictionary. And it turns out collusion means quote "a secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.

OK. So blasting off into space together is not collusion. It is apparently just vertical car pulling. False alarm. Our break in case of collusion emergency glass panel remains in one piece for now.

That`s all for us tonight. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now and I will see you back in Washington tomorrow.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Thank you, Chuck.

Our top story tonight, breaking news at the intersection of the Trump campaign, Trump`s digital firm and Facebook.

Tonight, Mark Zuckerberg is back in the middle of politics, the Russia probe and questions about the ethics and legality of the entire Trump campaign. This is a place the Facebook CEO has tried to get away for all the past year. There is a hidden video scandal that has now engulfed the upper management of Facebook which is one of top ten most valuable companies in America. The story dominating the news tonight. Trump`s digital firm Cambridge Analytica, busted for abusing Americans` personal information via Facebook.

Also tonight, ABC News is reporting Bob Mueller bearing down on that very firm`s work for Trump. And late today, Zuckerberg did something unusual. He tried to quell the crisis with a lengthy public statement conceding a breach of trust at Facebook, saying if we can`t protect your data, we don`t deserve to serve you.

Now this is a top story because Facebook is much more than a big corporation, it`s most Americans` top platform for media, for information, for of course socializing and lately for politicking. If some Americans don`t realize how powerful and far reaching this company is, the Trump campaign certainly did. It`s the Trump campaign`s digital firm that was caught now in this hidden camera scandal, touting how they abused Facebook data and use social media in general multiple platforms to push entrapment and lies. And it was only after the story went public that Facebook took this move of temporarily suspending Trump`s digital firm. That was this weekend.

Now that temporary suspension was not enough for Wall Street. Look at how they punished the stock on Monday with this devastating slide. It cost the company $50 billion. That means a $9 billion loss for Zuckerberg himself. And all of that adds context to this top political story tonight. The company, speaking out more than it has after recent scandals that we have reported here on THE BEAT, scandals about fake news, about Russian ads, about repeat racial housing discrimination on Facebook in the United States. This time it is different. This time there`s a lot more money on the line.

Now let me show you more video of the context. The Trump digital firm now suspended from Facebook. Here`s Cambridge Analytica bragging about their dirty tricks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a master of disguise. They were offered a large amount of money to a candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land. (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Facebook or You Tube or something like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The whole thing would be on camera, he said, not knowing he was on camera. This story is reverberating at a very fast pace.

Now Facebook has I mentioned suspended that man`s company. But Zuckerberg`s new statement, it doesn`t address regulation or the wider problems I mentioned about Russia and fake news, it doesn`t even use the words like apology, sorry or regret. Zuckerberg doesn`t even say tonight in this statement whether he will address the U.S. Congress which lawmakers are now demanding.

This is the worst it has ever been for Facebook. And this isn`t a technology story. It is a democracy story. Zuckerberg has refused to face Congress since the election, sending only his lawyer for Russia hearings. A market contrast had the CEO personally met with Chinese officials and with Putin`s deputy in Russia, all part of Facebook`s global profit agenda.

Now the fact that I`m about to report may sound tough but it is actually just a fact. Even after being busted for this week`s scandal, even after admitting this breach of trust, even after losing $50 billion this week, Zuckerberg still can`t pledge to address this U.S. Congress under oath who take seriously his role as one of the most powerful people in our democracy in this country that provided the freedom and markets that made him so fabulously wealthy and powerful.

At this hour, as Zuckerberg prepares to do a media interview tonight, the fact is he has proven his willingness to do what you are seeing on the screen, to meet with the Kremlin and Putin`s number two, right there. He was more ready to do that, to put on a tie and take off the hoodie, more ready to do that than address the representatives of his own country. And that lends a certain hollowness to Zuckerberg`s public statements about elections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO/FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: I don`t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. That`s not what we stand for. The integrity of our elections is fundamental to democracy around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Around the world. We are witnessing a true test of this company that is deeply involved in all of our lives. And Zuckerberg has spoken out before, saying he puts great care into this product.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZUCKERBERG: But I think often that belief and the fact that you just care so much about what you are doing is the only thing that kind of drives you to do it. And you know, to be honest, that kind of drives me to do this day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined how by Roger McNamee. He was a former mentor to Zuckerberg and early investor to Facebook that has been critical of their recent choices. Neera Tanden is the President/CEO of the Center for American progress and something of an expert on the rising role of Facebook in American politics and campaigns. And Clint Watts, who many remember as a former FBI special agent, who sounded the alarm about many of Russia`s tactics in congressional testimony and is an analyst for us.

What I want to do is put a question on the table and go all around starting with Neera.

What is the significance of this buckling, this pressure of Facebook tonight? And are the moves they`re making enough?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT/CEO, CENTERS FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, frankly, I was really disappointed in the statement. It took, you know, Mark Zuckerberg took responsibility, but he walked through a bit of a timeline. But there are a lot of questions that are still unanswered. And I really thought that he should at least apologize, that as you mentioned, said he would testify himself. But also provide more answers.

For example, we don`t know how many of the 50 million people who were basically taken in by Cambridge Analytica, you know, how many of those people are in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, these were very close states. Cambridge Analytica used those data points. And there is just really a series of questions. And so far, Facebook looks like it`s covering, is trying to deal with a PR crisis, instead of dealing with a democracy crisis.

MELBER: Clint?

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes. I think the big thing that we see here tonight is loss of trust. That is what this whole platform is built on. And I`m not sure that he restored any of it with his statement today. He still didn`t really account for everything that has happened, when the data really was lost, how much data. And we are just talking about one company.

I mean, they have been showcasing for years how much reach they have, how they can advertise to you. So why should we think this one app developer is the only one. We only know about it because of the election and it`s been such an issue.

MELBER: And they only care about it because they got caught on tape. Trump`s firm got caught on tape. Then Facebook tried to weather this, say well we will suspend them and move on, then you lose $50 billion and suddenly you come out and now you discover the breach.

WATTS: And Facebook is the place where everyone`s information is at. Which means all bad actors are going to that. Mark Zuckerberg himself said move fast and break things. Well he moved fast and he broke the trust of the American people and the people around the world that are on that platform now.

MELBER: Right. Roger, same question to you.

ROGER MCNAMEE, FORMER MENTOR TO ZUCKERBERG: Ari, this is totally inadequate. If he had done this in 2015, it would have been a good statement. The problem is that in 2015, they found out about Cambridge Analytica.

MELBER: There you go.

MCNAMEE: They failed to destroy the data at that time. Six months later, they embedded three Facebook employees in the Trump campaign headquarters side by side with an entire team from Cambridge Analytica, which were using the exact data they were using here.

MELBER: So let me play for you what we would call corroborating evidence and then I want your analysis of it. Also from the hidden tape, a hidden videotape showing Cambridge talking about they had entree, not only with Bannon on their board but all the way to Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you met Mr. Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did all the data, all the analytics, (INAUDIBLE) we ran all the digital campaign, television campaign and formed the strategy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Roger?

MCNAMEE: Well, they had three -- at least three Facebook employees embedded in the campaign with those exact people helping them optimize their use of Facebook. So you know, to Neera`s point, when you are in a tight race like Michigan or Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, the ability of the Facebook people to take the relatively crude stuff that Cambridge Analytica used, and put it into Facebook`s extraordinary psychographic capability, it change everything. I mean, this had a profound impact on the outcome of the election.

MELBER: Yes. And I should mention for context that the social media companies tend to offer that embedding to both sides. And it place out in different ways. But to the narrower point you are making, of course, it undercuts any idea the, oh, my God, this week and we found about it this and we dealt with it. No, you were hand maidens there.

Neera --.

TANDEN: But Ari --.

MELBER: I want to play one more thing and then go to you, Neera. I want to listen to Mark Zuckerberg speaking to another reporter because he is going to break his tendency to do just those homemade videos that they produced in Facebook and they released with him straight to camera I showed some of that. I want to show what we are going to see later, because he is speaking to a reporter, who is a tech reporter. He is not committing to speak to Congress yet. And this was someone he has spoken to previously. So this was the nature, the kind of conversations they had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We keep hearing we have never been more divided, we never been more polarized, was it the political climate that let to this awakening?

ZUCKERBERG: I think it`s really this feeling that simply connecting the world is not enough by itself. That you also have to work and do proactive work to help bring people closer together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Neera.

TANDEN: Yes. I mean, obviously Clinton and others have been tremendous work on how Facebook is actually use to divide people against each other at Cambridge Analytica. Talked about how in this video, they talked about how they used divisive techniques, racially divisive techniques.

But I would like to just go back to one point that was made earlier which is, you know, it is not that everybody used the same techniques. Cambridge Analytica broke the rules. These are rules that as far as we know, Hillary Clinton`s campaign didn`t have access to. They did not have access to 50 million people`s data points. This is what is particularly troubling.

Now we have the third, probably a multiple instances in which the Trump campaign broke the rules to have access to specific data. We have also known about Russian hacking. We also know about Russian disinformation campaigns.

So I think, you know, frankly, Facebook has to be a lot more honest with the American people of how this tool that we put our trust in, was manipulated by Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign and what effect it actually had in the election.

MELBER: Right.

And the exposure is key, because much of this is not in doubt. You have Cambridge suspending and trying to at least say sorry we got caught. Maybe it`s not enough. You have Facebook under the pressure admitting it. You have a Cambridge whistleblower who spoke to our own Savannah Guthrie explaining his concern with how they do business.

There`s not a lot of debate here about the bad things that were done. The only questions is what we will be done about them. And at this hour 6:12 p.m. on the east coast, Mark Zuckerberg making no moves towards publicly addressing it under oath as so many other people. I would say so many other less central players have already done in this probe.

Roger, Neera and Clint, thanks to each of you for your expertise.

We have a big show. There`s new reporting on a criminal probe that was set into Jeff Sessions. It was authorized by the man on the right who later fired Andy McCabe. What the Russia probe has to do with all of that. I have the answer actually tonight because we have new reporting.

Also Donald Trump under siege about these legal cases that have brought against him by three different women. I have a former "Apprentice" contestant and Trump critic with me tonight.

And later tonight, my exclusive interview with a key figure in the Russia case. He hasn`t talked about this on live TV until now.

I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Breaking news on the Russia probe. And it`s a weird one. Attorney general Jeff Sessions and the man he fired just six days ago Friday night, former de deputy to Jim Comey, Andrew McCabe, are now involved in something of a cat and mouse game according to history.

Here is the headline. This FBI official that Sessions fired apparently authorized a perjury investigation into Sessions a year ago. Sources telling NBC News, McCabe, who as I mentioned was fired was reportedly charged with looking at whether Sessions lied in a criminal manner when he testified before Congress about those infamous contacts with Russians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians. Is that what you are saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not and I`m not aware of anyone did, and I don`t believe it happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It did happen. Sessions would go on to recuse himself from the Russia probe as well as he said (INAUDIBLE) Clinton foundation, a recusal he may have violated in that Friday firing of McCabe. And then there was the meeting of course with the now guilty Trump aide George Papadopoulos who claimed he told Sessions that he could coordinate some kind of meeting between Trump and Putin.

Then you had recusal of Sessions overall which, of course, ultimately led to Rod Rosenstein appointing Bob Mueller special counsel. Trump unleashing his anger at Sessions after Mueller was appointed calling him even an idiot and calling for his resignation.

All of that is enough, but it is not, because today we are learning about the fact that there was some kind of criminal probe into Sessions. We are seeing Trump step up attacks on Mueller by name. Trump quoting Allan Dershowitz today that basically saying there should be no special counsel. And Trump shaking up his legal team to add this new lawyer with conspiracy theories about the DOJ and FBI. And Jeff Sessions` lawyer put out a new statement on all this tonight.

To unpack this I have got two ace lawyers, Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor and former White House counsel to Barack Obama Bob Bauer.

Gentlemen, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that I took too long to go through all that. That was the fastest we could do it.

Renato, speak to the core new thing which is us learning that someone at FBI was looking at Sessions as a potential criminal liar and that person happens to be the guy fired on Friday, although the reporting suggests nothing yet nefarious about that.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, yes. Look. It`s always an odd thing when the attorney general of the United States is under criminal investigation. And it really shows the importance of making sure not only that there are recusals that are respected but also that the people who are in-charge of investigations, whether it`s the attorney general of the United States or the President of the United States, that they cannot interfere in the lawful investigations of themselves. Really if they`re able to do that, they are above the law.

Now here, my understanding of the reporting is that Sessions was not aware of that criminal investigation. But, you know, it`s certainly going to raise questions, you know, already obviously there are significant questions that Sessions had, you know, not you know, had been violated his recusal in order to fire McCabe.

MELBER: Do you think he did?

MARIOTTI: Well, it certainly appears that way. There should be questions about it. And my understanding is that there is potentially --

MELBER: Well, he said he would recuse from matters involving the Clinton foundation. And he fired McCabe about the Clinton foundation.

MARIOTTI: Well, that`s right. And he certainly appears to have. And more importantly, it appears, I would say, Ari, even beyond that, that the President Donald Trump pushed him to fire McCabe for reasons related to the Russia investigation.

MELBER: Which in itself is a separate improper issue, separate recusal (ph).

Now Bob Bauer, I know that when you were counsel to Barack Obama, there was several times that the FBI was, you know, was investigating the attorney general and violated his recusal. And then you guys, of course, fired the FBI director and the deputy director. You remember that, right? I mean, this is --.

BOB BAUER, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I remember it clearly and I don`t have any regrets.

MELBER: (INAUDIBLE). I want you to give us your analysis from serving at the top of the legal game in the White House of this sparse, this sparse report from Sessions` lawyer. It says, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and his testimony and related written submissions to Congress -- Bob.

BAUER: He doesn`t say when he was under investigation, it seems. And haven`t seen that statement that he is saying he is not currently under investigations. But I want to return to something that you raised just a second ago. And that is there`s already some question about how it was that he was involved in the firing of Andrew McCabe in the first place. He normalized the procedure by which the President of the United States tried to force the department of justice to do his bidding, maybe not so much directly anymore, but by tweet. And that`s something that the attorney general should not be doing.

But second, he made a commitment to Congress not to take any action that could potentially affect the tenure of Mr. Mueller. And instead, what he did was he fired Mr. Mueller, and immediately laid the foundation, helped to lay the foundation for the President to argue that the firing of Mueller reflects the corruption in the FBI and the reason why he, the President, believes that the Mueller investigation should be brought to a conclusion. So he had a direct hand in creating a line of argument that the President is using to threaten Mr. Mueller. I don`t believe he should have done that.

MELBER: Well put. Renato?

MARIOTTI: Yes. Well, you know, I have to say, all of this, Ari, raises a very significant concerns about Donald Trump`s involvement in the firing of McCabe. To me the most interesting news has been over the last few days remain to me the notes that were kept by Andrew McCabe, that really tells me there was very questionable conversations between him and the President. And I think there`s going to be a lot more to come in the days and weeks ahead as to the firing of McCabe. I think there is more there.

MELBER: Yes. And they didn`t release, I have made the point on air, they didn`t release the burden of proof which seemed to shift quite a bit when you do that kind of Friday night firing before an inspector general probe is even over.

We have a lot more to get to because it is quite a night. So I want to thank Bob Bauer and Renato Mariotti, two great federal lawyers, for your time tonight.

Up ahead, the former playboy model alleging an affair with Trump suing to break her silence. We are hearing from her lawyer for the first time.

Also news on two other women taking legal action and making progress against Donald Trump.

But first, next, my exclusive interview tonight with a key figure in the Russia after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Now we turn to a Special Report and an exclusive interview. News breaking tonight that Bob Mueller`s probing the Trump campaign`s links to the embattled Trump digital firm Cambridge Analytica which was busted in that hidden video scandal this week. All of it builds on Mueller`s investigation of who contacted WikiLeaks or their leader Julian Assange.

We know Trump hailed WikiLeaks over a 150 times during the campaign. We know Donald Trump Jr. exchanged private messages with the WikiLeaks` twitter account and that Cambridge Analytica tried to contact WikiLeaks.

But to be clear, none of those show coordination with WikiLeaks let alone Assange himself. One longtime Trump advisor did claim a direct line to Assange during the campaign, Roger Stone, promoted the next wave of Clinton leaks from Assange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next crunch of data pertain to the Clinton foundation, but there is no telling what the October surprise may be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was a big claim. Mueller`s investigators have recently been asking about any Stone dealings with Assange. We learned that from a witness recounting Mueller`s questions on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AID: I said to Roger, you are giving yourself a lot of exposure, claiming that you are in communication with Julian Assange.

MELBER: Did they ask you about his dealings with Julian Assange?

NUNBERG: Yes, they did. They asked what did Roger tell me about what his dealings with Julian Assange or his communications to Julian during the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Mueller is not only asking, he is subpoenaing people, demanding evidence about Roger Stone, so that is Mueller`s interest in the Stone- Assange link. And Stone`s pursuit of Assange was so serious to filmmaker who was with him during the campaign told us they even looked into a trip to London to visit Assange together. But then Stone would go on to insist his claims of communications, maybe they weren`t actually direct but through an intermediary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: No. I have not spoken to Mr. Assange. I have not met with Mr. Assange, and I never said I had. I said we communicated through an intermediary, somebody who is a mutual friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now that sounds far less dirty and could evenly people saying maybe the whole thing is made up.

Then two other points thicken this plot. First twitter messages leaked from Stone to WikiLeaks that on their face made it seem like Stone was not in direct touch with Assange during the campaign. And second, Stone went from refusing to disclose his claim to mystery intermediary, to ultimately revealing him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: I`m not going to burn somebody who I spoke to off the record. If he releases me, if he allows me to release it, I would be happy to give it to the committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Then as the Russia probe heated up in November, stone did release the name of his intermediary, a New York politico and radio host named Randy Creditco, which added apparent credibility to Stone`s big theory because the two were associates who did media together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: We are joined by WBAI`s Randy Credico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) show, Roger.

MELBER: And Credico is also a figure in the Russia probe and in the verified world of directly communicating with Julian Assange.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: It`s this guy, Randy Credico.

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The name of the individual is Randy Credico.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Who is Randy Credico?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) in Randy Credico.

HAYES: Credico who has emerged now as a figure in this drama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, if you`re going to claim someone is your back channel to Assange, to be credible, it needs to be someone who talks to Assange, which is a small group. Assange rarely does interviews with American journalists. In the past few years he spoke to the New York Times, the New Yorker, NBC News. He spoke to Fox Reporters twice, but he spoke to Credico three times. Now Assange, a global figure who`s called everything from an influential publisher to a freedom fighter to an enemy of the state, that man talks to Credico about all kinds of things.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RANDY CREDICO, RADIO HOST: What is your overview of this election in the United States, if I may just get away from the Senate run?

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: Well, in some ways, it`s super interesting.

CREDICO: This whole thing about Russia and trying to vilify you as some agent of the Russians, is complete garbage. What is your response to that?

ASSANGE: Well, it is complete garbage.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MELBER: So as we report out what Bob Mueller is hunting and whether any Russia or collusion related crimes involve Assange and WikiLeaks and whether Trump adviser Roger Stone did get that secret political intel that he was bragging about from Julian Assange which would help Trump, for all those questions, Rand Credico turns out to be one of the most interesting people to talk to, if only he would talk. Since the inauguration, he has not done a single interview on the national news, until tonight. My exclusive guest on THE BEAT right now is Randy Credico. Thank you for doing this.

CREDICO: Thank you, and thank you for getting the name right, OK, because everyone else says, Credeco, Credecki --

MELBER: We heard that. We heard some of those different names.

CREDICO: Yes, it`s like I`m a character in a (INAUDIBLE) novel.

MELBER: Well, you`re also a character in the Mueller probe, and partly because you do have something that a lot of people want which is access to Julian Assange. How often do you speak to him? How did that come about?

CREDICO: Well, he did my show way back in 2016, and then I went to London a few months later and then in 2017, I did a 12-part series on my radio show at WBAI, and then over the last four months, I`ve been to London and I visited him three times. So we communicate.

MELBER: What do you think of him?

CREDICO: He`s a great guy. He`s a great journalist. I look at him the same way I would look at Elijah Lovejoy or any of these other abolitionist journalists back in the 1830s, 1840s. Elijah Lovejoy, people hated him and they killed him. He was an abolitionist. And so, I look at Julian Assange the same way. I think he`s a great -- he`s never ever published a lie. Everything -- nothing has been confuted that Julian Assange has --

MELBER: Interesting. The materials he released which includes stolen materials tend to be authentic rather than forged?

CREDICO: Right, absolutely. There`s nothing there --

MELBER: Do you ever -- do you ever carry messages from him to other people?

CREDICO: Well, depends on what you mean by that. Do I carry messages?

MELBER: I can tell you -- I can tell you exactly what I mean.

CREDICO: If I leave the embassy and he says when you get back to the States, say hello to somebody, yes, that could be something --

MELBER: Randy, do you want me to narrow my question?

CREDICO: Yes, go ahead.

MELBER: Do you ever carry messages from Julian Assange about what he might plan to do or the nature of his work to other people anywhere else in the world?

CREDICO: No. Absolutely not. I totally deny.

MELBER: You deny that?

CREDICO: I deny it totally.

MELBER: Let me play you and Assange speaking about Roger Stone.

CREDICO: OK, here we go.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CREDICO: One of Trump`s supporters, Roger Stone, who I know, I actually know Roger Stone, he was on this show and, you know, go figure, a couple of weeks back but he bandied your name but then, of course, he backtracked and said he didn`t know you, he didn`t have any communication with you but he does tossed things around.

ASSANGE: Roger Stone is a rather canny spin master and we have not had any communications with him whatsoever.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MELBER: In that exchange, you mentioned him and Assange says he doesn`t have direct communication. The allegation from Mr. Stone is that you are the intermediary, between Assange and him.

CREDICO: Well, it depends on what you mean by a back channel. I think Roger Stone has downgraded my participation as aback channel into someone that now has confirmed. First, he said he had direct communications with Assange. And then he downgraded that, now it`s to the point where I confirmed. Now, I had Roger Stone on my show many times in 2016 and 2017, I had Assange on three times and we had a lot of conversations, I did his show and I have no idea some of the things I may have said to him, but certainly did not pass any information from Julian Assange to Roger Stone.

MELBER: You flatly deny that Stone allegation? I want to dig more into that, but I also -- before we go deep into that because you`re not only here to talk about Mr. Stone, your relationship with Assange, which is so newsworthy. I want to play a little bit of Julian Assange in 2016, the critical period. This is when he was touting what he had on Hillary Clinton in an upcoming leaks. Take a list.

CREDICO: Well, you are prepared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASSANGE: We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton, which is great. We actually have -- which is a very big year.

We have e-mails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication, that is correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Pending, is the keyword. That`s before they came out. Stone says explicitly you confirmed to him the accuracy of that claim.

CREDICO: Of that claim, maybe. Maybe I confirmed it after it came out. If he asked me, is that true, what already came out, is it true, I would say to him, check WikiLeaks` Web site.

MELBER: So maybe you did confirm for Stone --

CREDICO: Wait a second, let`s not confuse this. You see, already, I was not expecting this, OK? Because I have to get the dates right. I never did confirm something like that. I never said hey, Roger, this is coming out in a few days. If he were to say to me, I had him on my show for one hour. I`m surprised you didn`t play that in July. I had Roger Stone and he ask me about WikiLeaks.

MELBER: Randy, we may play it.

CREDICO: You may play it. Well, let`s hear what -- I had six or seven Roger Stone interviews here. And did I confirm to June 12 to June 14, which one? You want to go to the Podesta one? The Podesta -- we`re talking about the Podesta and Roger Stone --

MELBER: Sure, go ahead.

CREDICO: -- that was -- when was that? When was that, the Podesta -- I had Julian Assange on my show for the very first time August 25th. That`s the first time I ever communicated with Julian Assange.

MELBER: Well, on August 8, you have Stone saying that he communicated with Assange and that a trench of Clinton e-mail documents would come out in this so-called October surprise. That`s August 8, are you saying by referencing his timeline, that that`s not something Stone would have gotten from you at that time?

CREDICO: You`re -- you know what? You`re going to do a tricky dick Richard Nixon on me, I`m going to come right back and do some impressions with you so I can --

MELBER: I know you`re good at impressions but are you buying time -- are you buying time or are you telling me that that was a lie.

CREDICO: Roger Stone is a trickster.

MELBER: OK.

CREDICO: Roger Stone is a shady character, OK. I know Roger Stone and I`m doing my Reagan right now.

MELBER: And it`s not about Reagan.

CREDICO: Well, you know he worked for Nixon and why would I be associated with Roger Stone to help -- but the worst thing about all of this is, is that I am connected now to Stone, connected to Trump being the President. I am vilified by a lot of my fellow Democrats. I`m a Democrat. I`m a McGovern Democrat. I helped Bernie Sanders open his campaign. Now if you want me to surprise you, I`ll surprise you. (INAUDIBLE) Bernie Sanders impression as well.

MELBER: Well you know, maybe we`ll go out, maybe we`ll go out. We`ll go to one of this New York karaoke bars and we could do karaoke which I love, is music and we could do your impressions. What I want to do, though, is you understand how central you are to this and I understand you`re saying you may be don`t want to be central anymore. I want to move forward though, with this. Number one --

CREDICO: You know I took the Fifth -- you know I took the Fifth in front of the Intel Committee.

MELBER: Well, hold on, hold on. Hold on. Let me do the interview, right? That`s fair. Number one, has anyone related to the Mueller probe ask for you to provide anything, testimonial or evidence?

CREDICO: No.

MELBER: When you were ask about this by the House, you took the Fifth Amendment which you just mentioned.

CREDICO: Yes.

MELBER: We`re thinking along the same lines. Why did you do that? Why not just go tell them what happened.

CREDICO: Because I could. Because I took the Fifth Amendment. The same reason why the Hollywood ten took the Fifth Amendment.

MELBER: You did it -- you did it to send a message?

CREDICO: Yes.

MELBER: What was the message?

CREDICO: The message is I consider this entire probe to be a waste of time and a witch hunt and it`s scary. It is very scary the way they are going after people. I was not going to dignify this committee by talking to them. Plus my lawyers tell me, I talk too much, so -- and I say -- I go off on tangents, like I just did with Nixon and I may do with Jack Nicholson because I`m going, to tell the truth.

MELBER: Let me ask you this and you know, I want the truth and I can handle it. Let me ask you this. Why take the Fifth when you are a self- identified member of the media? Why not say you don`t want to disclose journalistic sources?

CREDICO: Because my lawyers. I have four or five lawyers who said take the Fifth.

MELBER: You did this under the advice of counsel?

CREDICO: Yes, and I --

MELBER: And you have that right.

CREDICO: And I would do it anyway because like I said, I am not -- I think that they`ve overreached -- look, I don`t like Trump any more than anybody, and there are a lot of reasons to go after him. I think Russia debate -- Russia debate --

MELBER: But you do like Assange? But you do like Assange?

CREDICO: I`m a big fan of Assange. And you know, I`m a civil rights activist.

MELBER: And if he gets material from foreign government or espionage operations, you don`t think there`s anything wrong with him leaking them --

CREDICO: What espionage operation?

MELBER: I`m asking -- I`m asking. If he gets those materials from an espionage operation if he does, do you think there`s anything wrong with him playing in U.S. politics that way?

CREDICO: I think what he did by exposing the crimes, war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real collusion which was within the Democratic National Committee, how they denied Bernie Sanders --

MELBER: You don`t have a problem with that?

CREDICO: I don`t have a problem. He`s --

MELBER: I hear you. I hear from --

CREDICO: That`s my opinion.

MELBER: We`ve had -- we`ve had big supporters of Sanders on the show who say if the e-mails are true, what`s wrong with that? There`s a lot of other people who say -- who say that if it`s targeted out of espionage, it is a little different than what you say which is yes, WikiLeaks exposed much wrongdoing in the war example.

CREDICO: But Washington Post --

MELBER: I want to give you -- wait, wait -- I want to give you -- Randy, I want to give you, and we`ve said this at times here but I want to get you on the record. Roger Stone e-mailed out today new things about you. I want to get your response. Number one, he said in the Russian Roulette book, that your memory is either selective or faulty. He says that you confirm that Assange had credible information on Hillary Clinton`s campaign and then with regard to this timeline, and this new piece called Randy and Me, he says he told me the leaks would be released October 1st, I consider him a confirming source and little else despite my hype of calling him a back channel. From the end of July through August until the end of September, Credico insisted Assange was about to publish material on the Democrats, which you, Randy, that`s you, described as devastating to Hillary. Is that true or false?

CREDICO: I think Roger Stone moves around and says a lot of different things. I think his memory is selective. But I don`t want to see --

MELBER: I got to stop you. Randy, I`ve got to stop you. You just said he moves around.

CREDICO: Yes.

MELBER: You`re moving around. I read you the statement, is it true or false. I`ll read it again if you want.

CREDICO: Go ahead, read it again.

MELBER: This is that issue in a criminal probe regarding a lot of important things, from the end of July through August until the end of September, Credico insisted Assange was about to publish this material on the Democrats which Randy described as devastating to Hillary. Is that true or false.

CREDICO: False.

MELBER: That`s false. So Roger Stone is lying? Is he lying in the statement -- is he lying in that statement --

CREDICO: August 25th -- August -- I think Roger Stone has a selective memory right here. Roger Stone, what he did to me was he revealed my name. I was -- I took the Fifth Amendment. He wouldn`t take the Fifth Amendment. He wouldn`t take the First Amendment.

MELBER: Did you authorize him to reveal your name.

CREDICO: No, I didn`t.

MELBER: So when he said -- and some of this makes and you`re telling him look bad when he said -- I showed the video earlier -- that he would only release the name if authorized. Was he lying?

CREDICO: Yes. I never authorized for him to release my name but he did anyway. Not -- I mean, it was just a threat of a subpoena. He never got a subpoena. It was a threat of subpoena. But at the same time, if you want to call me the confirming source, I don`t want to see the guy go to jail. I worked my entire last 15 years --

MELBER: How would you describe your relationship with Roger right now?

CREDICO: Roger Stone, I spoke I think once a week. We have e-mail exchanges.

MELBER: Why is it --

CREDICO: And why am I with a guy like that who work with --

MELBER: No, that`s not what I`m asking. Why is -- no Randy, Randy, Randy, when people at home and watch this and they see Sam Nunberg come out and defend him, they see you are friends. Are you guys all friends or not? What is the deal?

CREDICO: I have known Roger Stone for a long time. We worked on campaign in 2002, the Golisano campaign. Then I worked with him in a few other Democratic races five or six years later. He goes years without talking about me, he has tweeted out that I`m dead. He does not --

MELBER: So you`re saying -- you`re saying he`s lying about you and what you did on the status of a criminal probe where you took the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incriminating yourself for a crime, but you`re still cool with it?

CREDICO: I thought you`re going to be Larry King and not Mike Wallace. You are all over me here. Now, give me a chance to breathe, all right?

MELBER: We`ve given you more time on this studio than most guest, sir.

CREDICO: Well, because I`m an interesting guest, because I don`t remember a thing. I`m a recovering alcoholic. You know, Sam Nunberg, you want me to be out like him?

MELBER: Well, I tried to treat everyone here with respect so let`s focus on who`s at the table. Let me read you another interesting thing because you were in the middle of this. I mean, your access to Assange is different than most journalists. Journalists in this building would kill to go to the London Embassy.

CREDICO: Well, maybe I`ll get -- I`ll be your back channel and get you an interview with Assange, but after watching this, he`s not going to do it.

MELBER: Well, that`s not --

CREDICO: Because you`re going to have something like this pre-planned.

MELBER: By pre-planned do you mean prepared for the interview --

CREDICO: Yes.

MELBER: -- with facts and recent history?

CREDICO: Here`s my -- here`s my notes. Notes from the underground by those (INAUDIBLE) because I`m a Russian agent.

MELBER: My purpose is not to set up the next interview but to make sure that we`re fair and factual on this one. Let me ask you this about your visit or alleged visit, because in August this critical period, Roger Stone tells Alex Jones he has "back channel communication with Assange and he`s got information coming on the WikiLeaks against Clinton. On August 18th, he says the word intermediary. On October 2nd, he tweets public, Assange will educate the American people, October 2nd. Three days later, you tweet in a way that suggest you were leaving the Ecuadoran Embassy, two days later, WikiLeaks, releases the batch of e-mails. Did you visit Assange on that October trip?

CREDICO: I visited the embassy but I did not get in. I was --

MELBER: You did not get in?

CREDICO: No, I was there for three days. I visited a fellow by the name of Barry Crimmins, may he rest in peace. My guru in comedy, he just died and that`s the reason why I was there. I tried to see Assange, but I didn`t get in. The same way Roger Stone a few weeks back when he was in London, he tried to see Assange and he didn`t get in. He was walking around like Hans Christian Andersen with a top hat on if you recall. So yes, I was there outside the embassy. I passed a letter from WBAI to Julian Assange but I didn`t visited him until last year, which is -- oh, no, six months ago, and then another time in November. Three times a visited the guy and I consider him a very close friend and I`m working very hard to make sure that this guy gets out, he can visit his mother and can visit his son and continue to do journalism just like you`re doing, and I would defend you the same way.

MELBER: Randy Credico, you have a long record here. You really care about these issues. You could have gone to a lot of different places to break your silence. I appreciate you coming on THE BEAT, sir.

CREDICO: Thank you very much. It might be my last interview now, all right?

MELBER: Randy Credico.

CREDICO: Thank you very much. I have a long record, 10 years at Leavenworth I think.

MELBER: Randy Credco, our exclusive interview on THE BEAT tonight. Up ahead we`re going to tie a lot of this together speaking to a reporter who has broken many important stories on this and an update on Cambridge Analytica when we come back. And later, the lawyer for the former Playboy model who alleges the affair with Trump is speaking out for the first time, all that in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back. I just said goodbye to Randy Credico who spoke for the first time about these allegations from his associate Roger Stone that he was some sort of intermediary in contacting WikiLeaks` Julian Assange. You heard his answers directly, speaking exclusively on THE BEAT just moments ago. He definitely rebutted some of the claims from Stone. Let`s take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Randy, do you want me to narrow my question?

CREDICO: Yes, go ahead.

MELBER: Do you ever carry messages from Julian Assange about what he might plan to do or the nature of his work to other people anywhere else in the world?

CREDICO: No. Absolutely not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by the Daily Beast Betsy Woodruff who`s been reporting extensively on this story and Credico. Your view of what news he broke in the interview?

BETSY WOODRUFF, What stood out to me the most was him focusing on the fact that according to his version of events, Roger Stone gave his identity to the House Intelligence Committee without his permission. Additionally, Roger Stone -- Randy Credico, excuse me -- says that when Roger Stone gave that information to the House Intelligence Committee, that it was bad information. Credico is essentially saying that Roger Stone lied about him to the House Intelligence Committee. That`s a pretty -- it`s a pretty damning allegation to level at someone, especially at someone you consider a friend. And I think if Roger Stone did in fact deliberately give bad information to Congress, that could be a big issue.

MELBER: Well, right. I mean, again, we`re just parsing and digesting all of this. But the allegation that Stone would knowingly mislead a federal investigative body is itself an allegation that carries potential liability.

WOODRUFF: Right, without a doubt. And there`s certainly a lot from that interview to digest. The impressions were probably my personal favorite part but I`m a little biased.

MELBER: Well, he`s a radio host and he`s good at impression.

WOODRUFF: Exactly, yes, yes, yes. Oh man.

MELBER: What about the nature here? I mean, a lot of viewers see this, and this is a world of people that have various levels of links to the Trump Organization and he hires certain types of people. Roger worked for him for decades. What do you don`t think of the idea these men who talk once a week but are putting each other on blast on T.V.?

WOODRUFF: It`s sort of the nature of new these relationships that are colored by not social media, but these new types of internet media. Roger Stone will sometimes be a guest host on Infowars. Randy Credico has a handful of different platforms that he uses to push out what sort of journalism but also commentary with some reported elements given that his interviews with Julian Assange are in and of themselves newsworthy.

MELBER: Sure.

WOODRUFF: It`s also really interesting that Credico is by all accounts given the information you lay out right before that interview, Credico is Julian Assange`s favorite American journalist. That`s something people should bear in mind as they`re watching this interview and processing what he said throughout that. The fact that Credico, Nunberg, and Stone are all friendly, they`re part of sort of this broader constellation of characters in Trump`s orbit who have made the Russia story so weird and interesting. You wouldn`t necessarily expect that someone who can do a spot-on Richard Nixon impersonation is going to be involved in federal investigations into Russians` meddling in the United States Election and also is going to be best friends with -- or the favorite journalist of someone who the CIA Director says is part of a hostile foreign intelligence agency. But this is where we are and that`s what made this story so dynamic and so fascinating I guess.

MELBER: Fascinating, and it`s part of the reason why Mueller has so many leads to track down. Betsy Woodruff, thank you. We`re going to fit in a break and then I have a former star of The Apprentice talking about a former star of The Apprentice suing Donald Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Donald Trump just lost his attempt to stop a lawsuit from a former Apprentice contestant alleging misconduct. My next guest has quite the perspective on this story. You`re looking at when she was on The Apprentice. Tara Dowdell has gone on to be a political and business strategist. That was back in Season three, a decade before Trump ran for office. You like the old footage?

TARA DOWDELL, FORMER CONTESTANT, THE APPRENTICE: Wow.

MELBER: What do you think of the actual The Apprentice contestant being the person who has not arbitration, not NDA, but an open court proceeding and a just said we`ll go forward because the president is not above the law?

I think it`s great because what she`s saying is not inconsistent with what I was told by other women on the show who said that he said very inappropriate things to them in the boardroom, right? So he said it on camera, was recorded saying these things to people. So Trump has been used to getting away with things for a long time.

MELBER: She alleges -- she alleges in addition, though, unconsented physical contact. Did you see anything like that in your season?

DOWDELL: I did not see anything like that in my season. I would also like to stipulate that I personally was not -- you know, Trump never said anything untoward to me personally. But other women on the show specifically said that he said things to them with the cameras rolling. So that level of boldness, to say something verbally to someone that`s highly inappropriate, that`s sexual in nature with the cameras rolling, what would you do when the cameras are not rolling?

MELBER: What do you think would happen if all of the tapes from The Apprentice, rolling and offset, off-camera moments that are still recorded as they are in these television productions, what if they all came out?

DOWDELL: I think that the president, Donald Trump, would have a really big problem because it`s not just the sexual allegations and the things he said, it`s also there`s racial allegations that have been made about him saying things on camera. I mean, I think it`s just the full magilla of every pathology that Trump has.

MELBER: Full magilla. He did -- he did reportedly suggest an idea for a "whites" versus "blacks" season of the Apprentice but they talked him out of it. That`s been written up.

DOWDELL: Right, exactly. And so I think, look, this is -- it`s not -- for me it`s not about the fact that Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels or any of this stuff. It`s about the fact that he continues to engage in cover-ups, he continues to lie, and there continues to be financial impropriety.

MELBER: Final question, because you`ve gone on to advise Democrats.

DOWDELL: Right.

MELBER: A lot of people go -- we`ve got all these Apprentice contestants who have gone on to interesting things. You all are like alpha people. You`ve gone on to advise Democratic campaigns, true?

DOWDELL: Yes, that`s correct.

MELBER: Do Democrats focus too much on personality and antics of Donald Trump?

DOWDELL: I think that Democrats would be better served to focus more on the implications of those antics, how he is compromised. If he can have the tables turned on him by Stormy Daniels and by Summer Zervos, imagine what a world lead can do to someone who can have a the tables turned on them by these women. So I think it is the implications of what he does is what should be focused on and his bad policies.

MELBER: Interesting way to put it and think about it. Are you free to do karaoke with me and Randy Credico next?

DOWDELL: I might be able to pencil you in, Ari.

MELBER: OK, let`s do a table for three. Tara Dowell, thank you very much. That does it for me. I`ll see you back here tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts right now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: To Russia with love. Let`s play HARDBALL.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

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