Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: March 22, 2018 Guest: Brian Wice; Lanny Davis; Maya Harris; Nick Ackerman, Christopher Wiley, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Mehring, Sam Seder
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: If you have to ask who would win, I`m siding with Ted Cruz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Melania could take them both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: That`s all for tonight. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Now, Chuck, you know, this is hip-hop to have two famous people claiming you are going to have a fight that they will never and I hope never physically have.
TODD: I agree. But I was going for the scrap in Scranton. No, no, no. I was trying --.
MELBER: I saw that.
TODD: We had a little too much fun today at our ever changing run down meeting.
MELBER: There has been a lot of news on change as well. You are having some fun with fights that hopefully won`t happen, I think is a fair kind of newsroom.
Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: All right. You are so west coast.
We begin with breaking news tonight. What you are looking at there is the fallout, stocks crashing over Donald Trump`s trade war. It includes as well a slide for Facebook which has been hammered by a Trump digital whistleblower. He is going to speak out on THE BEAT tonight.
Bob Mueller also probing Trump`s links to that same digital firm. But when Mueller calls the White House, I can tell you he will now find a different lawyer picking up the phone, because John Dowd, who was the president`s top criminal defense lawyer on Russia, he quit. He is out. Done.
And this is of course just five days after that same lawyer, John Dowd, issued a bizarre call for the entire Mueller probe to end. Now that rhetoric was a shift from ten months of public statements of cooperation from Trump`s team and all of this, let`s be clear on the context and why this is not only more chaos, but real problems for America, this all comes amidst the pressure and the firings at the FBI, which experts say could actually add to any potential obstruction case against the White House.
It was James Comey`s deputy fired in that bizarre Friday night occurrence. That official`s name was Andrew McCabe, had said publicly now he thinks that firing Friday night was pay back for what he saw about potential obstruction in the Russian probe.
Also as we reported this week, it all comes as Trump shifts from these ten months of carefully crafted positive statements about Bob Mueller, to now openly criticizing him.
MELBER: Part of my job is to tell you when something is happening. Something is happening. Tonight`s shake-up also shows Donald Trump was wrong about his own legal team. It was just 11 days ago he wrote that he wrote this.
He was happy with his team and any reports of a shake-up were off base. John Dowd, you see the name there, doing a great job, he said.
Now Dowd`s out. So where does this go? What happens when something happens to the criminal defense team around a sitting President? Well, I can tell you one thing, more power could shift to Donald Trump`s new lawyer, Joe diGenova. He is a FOX News commentator. He has been publicly pedaling a bizarre and unfounded conspiracy theory that the United States FBI had a secret plot to frame Donald Trump before the election. That man represents the President now.
The power could also go to his old lawyer. Sources telling NBC that Trump wants to re-hire potentially Mark Kasowitz. He is that combative civil attorney who was cut from the teams as Trump kept adding more criminal defense experts. Trump is basically making moves that suggests he is at least unhappy with something about this Russia probe. Is it his own team or is it something his team is telling him about the probe itself or where Mueller is heading?
I turn now to Maya Harris, a legal contributor for MSNBC and former senior policy advisor to Hillary Clinton. As well as Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton. He also wrote the book "the unmaking of the President 2016, how the FBI director James Comey cost Hillary Clinton the presidency."
Obviously, Lanny, an ambiguous book title. I`m not sure where you stand on that election. But while it`s still an interesting book, I want to begin with your -- the reason we thought to call you tonight and to be our expert to explain what`s going on.
You have been in a room in the White House that very few people have been in where a President is facing an open criminal probe or an independent counsel, where he has a range of lawyers saying a range of things. What do you make of John Dowd quitting?
LANNY DAVIS, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first, I wasn`t in the room. He had outside counsel, David Kendall, actually friend from law school, who was his outside counsel on the impeachment process.
MELBER: But you were White House lawyer during impeachment.
DAVIS: After I left, the impeachment began. But in any case, I know exactly what`s wrong in the Trump White House, having been in the Clinton White House. And that is the respect by the lawyers by President Clinton was always unwavering and a steady team remained from the very beginning to the very end. Loyalty and dedication in defense of President Clinton, even after his public apology to the American people and to his wife and family and friends regarding his personal indiscretions, he still kept the loyalty and dedication of his legal team.
This particular President for reasons that are quite obvious to me which is that he is abusive towards people and his lawyers won`t accept the abusive treatment can`t seem to keep a chief of staff much less a defense lawyer to be loyal and defend him.
MELBER: You think, Lanny, this is important? You think that part of what we are seeing reflects on the conduct of President Trump, that Mr. Dowd is loyal. He took the fall over the infamous Flynn tweet. He went up this weekend. We are going to discuss this more on the show and is it called for the end of the Mueller probe, which is what Trump wanted. He did a lot of loyal things. But you are saying for him ultimately was too much.
DAVIS: Well, I think it was too much for him, for chiefs of staff, for members of his White House staff who are gone, for people that take five minutes to whisper into reporters` ears that he congratulated a dictator in a rigged election, having spell all this time claiming the American people in our democracy was a rigged election.
He literally has nobody in the place that is loyal to him. He is not willing to turn against him or to quit. And that was the completely the opposite to the loyalty to this very day that I feel and most of everyone I know who worked in the Clinton White House still feel towards Bill Clinton.
MELBER: Well, you put it - you put it starkly. But I think there is a lot of evidence, public evidence for what you say, that different leadership inspires different levels of loyalty.
Maya, to flesh out Lanny`s point and get your perspective, let`s look at the legal team. Let`s look at all the lawyers in the mix. You have Ty Cobb still there. Some say he is on thin ice. John Dowd, out as of today. That`s brand new. Don McGahn and Mark Kasowitz, which was previously out. That`s the civil lawyer. Michael Cohen is a lawyer that is dealing with some of the women in NDA issues. Don McGahn, White House counsel still there, reportedly threaten to resign over the Mueller firing. Joe diGenova is the new baseball card on the lower right. Very controversial with the conspiracy theories. Upper right is Jay Sekulow who is more known for conservative legal battles and criminal defense per se.
Maya, I wonder what you think about the center of gravity here.
MAYA HARRIS, FORMER SENIOR POLICY ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: I think that when you look at -- well look at this chart that you have up here, but also just look at what transpired. I mean, for all of what we have come to expect or think of in Trump`s unpredictability, all that was just unfolded, it is completely predictable. It was predictable that John Dowd would leave. Once you have another personality in the conspiracy theorists diGenova coming on. It was very consistent with --.
MELBER: I will jump, you know, just to make sure our viewers are following. Lanny saying it is about Trump`s behavior. You are saying you think Dowd is leaving because they brought on, you know, sort of the firm of crack pot in conspiracy?
HARRIS: I think that is one piece of it. I think this is also very consistent with what we saw in Trump`s weekend behavior, which suggested two things. One is that he is becoming a bit unhinged over this investigation the closer gets to him. We saw the subpoena to his - to the Trump administration last week. We know that they are talking to his lawyers about the interview. It is also consistent in terms of his weekend behavior in terms of wanting to potentially go in a different direction, be more aggressive.
But it is also consistent and this is to Lanny`s - some of Lanny`s earlier points, with what we have come to see in terms of how Donald Trump, he treats the people around him.
HARRIS: You know, first, there are rumors --.
MELBER: Right. Which Lanny spoke to -- I don`t want to reiterate that, because Lanny said it so well.
Both of you stay with me. Brian Wice is a criminal attorney who knows his way around these issues.
Brian, take a listen to Joe diGenova speaking in a way that we can come to reasonably surmise how to earn this promotion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH DIGENOVA, TRUMP`S LEGAL TEAM: A group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a false created crime.
They were going to exonerate Hillary and they were going to frame Donald Trump.
James Comey threw the case against Hillary Clinton in conjunction with senior FBI officials.
Comey sold his soul to the devil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Brian, how do you read this shift in the legal strategy? And does it look to you as other folks are telling me, on back ground or not for retribution, that it is all a sign that there is going to be an escalation from this White House going after Rosenstein and Mueller.
BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think your sources are right, Ari. Look. When you listen at that bite that we just heard, it sounds like it was professor Plum in the study with the knife.
Look. Once upon a time, lawyers out of law school recognized that the way that you became a made guy or a made gal, was a Supreme Court a clerkship. You work for DOJ. And then you went to work for a white collar firm.
Now, unless you are on FOX News and you are on (INAUDIBLE), you don`t have any chance at all of wanting upon the President`s legal team. You look at that chart that you so expertly threw up there and I`m looking for Kevin Durant, I`m looking for Lebron James. And I don`t --
MELBER: Yes. I don`t know about Lebron, but I will leave it to you to judge other lawyers on that scale.
But Brian, it`s two things. I think you are half right. You know, you are never all right on this show, right, Brian?
WICE: Absolutely not.
MELBER: I think you are half right, because you are speaking to the very odd form of hiring the people that can basically help you and your aides stay out of jail based on who is on TV. That`s one way to do it.
But it is not just that. The other piece I want you and then Lanny to speak to it and Maya is we are seeing credible reports that other top lawyer who is aren`t on TV all the time, like Ted Olsen, who was a very conservative lawyer who I hold him very high regard for his legal acumen saying no, I`m not getting on this team.
WICE: And again, that is zillion point. Because to go back to the sports analogy, Donald Trump can hire the best free agents in the biz and there`s a reason why they are turning him down, and whether it is as Maya says or as Lanny says, I think it`s probably a combination.
I think, number one, it is about client control, that John Dowd is old school. This is a guy, Ari, who came up prosecuting rocketeers and trying Rico cases and training FBI agents when Donald Trump was chasing models in studio 54. And in the situation where you don`t have client control, and it`s also about ego.
Maya makes a great point. It is like highlander. There can only be one. And I think it is death by 1,000 tweets and the big picture is John Dowd recognized there wasn`t enough room for him in the green room.
MELBER: Lanny and then Maya.
DAVIS: I just want to get to the central word that Joe diGenova who I have known for a very long time debated during the Clinton years is not stating. And the word, facts. Facts are going to ultimately be stubborn. And Donald Trump can do whatever he wants to on twitter. He can`t escape the facts. Mr. Dowd and anybody else should listen carefully to what Joe diGenova is saying in what we just saw. Not a single fact or conclusion rhetorical conspiracy theory, no facts. And the fact to what Mr. Mueller is focused on and no matter who defends, I can tell you no matter who defends Mr. Trump, ultimately he cannot escape the facts and the facts don`t look good for him.
HARRIS: I, you know, not only can he not get the A-team on his side, you cannot help but contrast this with the complete and total excellent and disciplined on the other side with Mueller. And you, you know, if I`m Mueller, I`m thinking two things. One is I can`t wait to get a chance to sit down with you, because you are not taking your lawyer`s advice, which usually is a recipe for tripping yourself up in an interview like this. And if you think you can outsmart your own lawyer, maybe that made think you can outsmart me, which of course would be entirely big mistake.
But the other thing I`m thinking is, what else should I be looking at? Because if you have not at least decent competent lawyers who are telling you not to do certain things, you do them anyway. It only begs the question of what else have they told him not to do in his role as President that he is actually going ahead and done anyway.
MELBER: Right. And finally, you know, Brian Wice, I know that you are a big fan of the rapper Big Shaun, and talks about how he focuses on the inner me, never on his enemy. I wonder if that is advice to Trump could follow at this point. Figure out what you have done and what`s going on with you and not making Mueller into the enemy.
WICE: Except Ari, that this is a President whose term we have been over during the first commercial break and any other administration and he continues to do what those who are somewhat smarter than he is have told him not to. And this is a situation where he can fall back on all of those depositions that he sat through, and all of these civil cases thinking that he got by and as the rapper would say, got over.
But I`m telling you, the difference between sittings for a deposition and sitting with the not screwing around crew and Mueller`s team, is a difference with double A (ph) in the major leagues. I`m tell you, nobody even got indicted for perjury that didn`t testify under oath. And that`s what I think John Dowd was trying to tell his client.
MELBER: Well put.
And Lanny David, may have more White House litigation experience than you but you dropped more bar than Lanny. And I think we all - Lanny, that`s a fact. You said facts matter.
DAVIS: Yes, I don`t know the rap song or star that you just referred to, because I`m still listening to Frank Sinatra.
MELBER: And that`s a valid choice.
Maya Harris, Lanny Davis, and Brian Wice on a big news tonight and a lot of legal news. Thank you all.
Coming up, I interviewed the whistleblower who helped create this sting video revealing Trump`s data firm warned that it might be breaking the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were also warned that the company shouldn`t be sending foreign citizens to go run American campaigns. They completely disregarded it. And I have the memo to prove it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: New pressure tonight on Mark Zuckerberg. A senator says he wants him to testify and will use a subpoena if needed.
Also, investigators looking at our interview with the mystery man in the Russia probe. He could be the back channel between WikiLeaks and Roger Stone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger Stone moves around and says a lot of different things.
MELBER: Is he lying? Is he lying to save himself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Roger has a selective memory right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Selective memory. More on that.
I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Big news on the Russia probe tonight, Trump`s lead lawyer quits. John Dowd out. He made headlines just this past weekend with that bizarre Saturday call to shut down the Mueller probe.
Now I remember this moment because I woke up that morning and I called right in to Joy Reid`s show. That`s how big the news was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY ANN REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump`s personal attorney John Dowd has told the "Daily Beast" this morning, just this morning, that he hopes the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein will shut down the Russian probe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It suggests in a bad way that the DOJ process and the President`s criminal defense are together, and that`s not my inference. That`s what John Dowd said on the report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He said it on the record. He was talking tough, but maybe it wasn`t enough for Donald Trump. Now this was a guy who offered several things, one cooperation when that was the model. Then, this recent attempt at a tougher line. He also has a reputation of the king of pardons. He was involved in a rare pre-empted presidential pardon for former Arizona governor in a federal fraud case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sign me to his defense attorney, John Dowd, blasted the feds. He said they were nitpicking over what he calls signing to his honest mistakes on his financial statements.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen a man put up with more petty crap in my life than this governor has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And when you read that Dowd may be gone because Trump does want a tougher team, keep in mind this former marine was a pretty tough legal fighter in the court, with the press, no holds barred. He was known to zealously tell reporters what he thought. He argued he also would not be cowed by power a celebrity in a baseball case that many Americans recall. Dowd was part of banning Pete Rose from baseball for gambling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dowd reveal that his charge Rose bet on baseball is backed by betting slips, phone record, testimony from nine witnesses and checks for cash, allegedly linking Rose to a bookie. And Dowd defended the fairness of his report to commissioner (INAUDIBLE), a key issue before Judge Norbert Nadal (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, if I were Mr. Rose`s shoes, I wouldn`t like my report either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You think about that, you think about doubt`s special experience in pardons, even those pre-emptive pardons. Maybe Trump is no longer interested in that kind of expertise, or maybe tensions on this team left Dowd as the odd man out. His people were telling the "New York Times" today that he just thought Trump was ignoring his advice.
But Dowd did try to play the Trump way. He stayed out of the public eye, except for being caught there in that famous lunch. But he stayed off TV. When this tweet went out on Donald Trump`s behalf, Dowd took the fall for it, took the blame, because it suggested Trump knew about a crime. And now we know in what was hiss last weekend on the job, Dowd was following Trump`s newest legal strategy, heard usual on twitter calling for an end of the Mueller probe. He did all that and it wasn`t enough.
So we asked why not? We turn to Nick Ackerman, a Watergate special prosecutor who has seen a White House under this kind of pressure.
When you look at Dowd, you have been known to be critical of the Trump White House, you have to admit, this is an experienced criminal litigator?
NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Yes. No, I mean he is not some, you know, run of the mill lawyer who just happens to be there. He knows how it`s done.
MELBER: What do you think, given what I just went through is the real reason for him leaving.
ACKERMAN: I think it is pure frustration. I mean, how can you represent somebody that doesn`t take your advice, that won`t follow what you say?
MELBER: So you Nick Ackerman believe John Dowd`s story?
ACKERMAN: I think it`s absolutely true. I mean, the real lawyer for Donald Trump is Donald Trump. It`s not any of these lawyers. These lawyers are window dressing. He has a use a lawyer to go into court in California to defend himself against Stormy Daniels. He can`t go in himself. So he needs lawyers to deal with the special --
MELBER: But you are reminding me, does the famous phrase --
A lawyer who represents himself has a reality show contestant -- a lawyer who represents himself has a reality show host for a client, is that how it goes?
ACKERMAN: I think it is something point.
ACKERMAN: Yes. I mean, a fool who is on a reality show, that`s what you are trying to say.
It is - I mean, I don`t understand how anybody in good faith could represent this individual. I mean if you`re a lawyer and the person doesn`t take your advice and you are basically being led around the nose by the client and the client is telling you what to do, what to say, that`s not being a lawyer.
MELBER: Let me read, I mentioned the Times, "the Washington Post" has also important light to be shared here. Dowd clashing with the President including an incident in which he disagree vehemently with Trump over a legal strategy.
I want to be clear for people. If not for every other wild thing this week, the biggest substantive story would still be the first time in American history that a deputy director of the FBI has been canned. And it being done not in daylight, but under the cover of night on Friday on the basis of a secret report that is not released. And that person who is by the way a registered Republican and a 20-year law enforcement veteran, saying out loud on the record, I was fired over James Comey`s firing and the Russia probe.
Walk us through how that links to the escalation on Mueller right now?
ACKERMAN: Well, I think the weirdest thing as you pointed out was Saturday. When Dowd came up with this statement, trying to tie in the firing of McCabe as a reason why they should get rid of the Mueller probe. I mean the logic there is totally baffling. And then on top of it, the whole statement had within it a couple of false statements about the fact that the investigation started because of the dossier, that was not true.
MELBER: Was that Dowd`s last attempt to get back in Trump`s good graces?
ACKERMAN: Yes. I think the two of them were standing together when he made that statement. And it is so typical, Trump, that in one moment he would say yes. It represents the statement of the President. The next moment he says it doesn`t. Then he says it does. And the only way somebody like Dowd would be going back and forth like that is if Trump was basically pulling hiss strings. I mean, that is -- the problem here, I mean, I think he is 100 percent right. He is dealing with a client who will not follow any of his advice. And the person who is really in charge is Donald Trump.
The best example was to today, when he went out and tweeted about that whole statement about that data program that they had with Cambridge Analytica.
MELBER: Well, it is funny you mentioned that because that whistle blower is actually my next guest which is something we are looking forward to.
Nick Ackerman, thank you for your analysis. This is a big one.
Up ahead, the man behind the sting video we just discussed, Trump`s digital firm, the major revelation here, he has, and he is going to share on THE BEAT. He is going to talk and respond to Mark Zuckerberg`s apology to (INAUDIBLE).
Also, a lead Democrat calling on Zuckerberg to be subpoenaed. That senator joins me live.
And I have a breakdown of that now famous Roget Stone-Julian Assange intermediary theory. More from my interview from Randy Credico last night. And new questions for Roger Stone.
MELBER: Breaking news. At this moment, we have confirmed at NBC that the national security advisor H.R. McMaster and he will be replaced by John Bolton. This follows reports of multiple shuffling within the Trump cabinet. This is a new change to the national security administration.
I want to read here, lieutenant general H.R. McMaster, the battle tested army officer tapped as President Trump`s national security advisor will resign and be replaced by John Bolton. A hardline former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
That`s according to a new report breaking from the "New York Times."
According to White House officials, as I mentioned, Peter Alexander from NBC News confirming it as well. And I will read a statement from Donald Trump that appeared on Twitter just moments ago.
"I`m pleased to announce that effective on April 9th, Ambassador John Bolton will be my new national security adviser." He adds, he`s thankful for the service of General McMaster. This is of course something that had been rumored. That is the tweet I was just reading there. He also adds, "McMaster has done an outstanding job, will always remain my friend, there will be an official contact handover on April 9."
You notice a slightly more formal language but still the president`s preferred medium of Twitter. This is significant because McMaster was one of the generals who reportedly had clashed with Trump and reflects a continuation of a clear reshuffling that we have seen of this National Security team.
You now have the chief diplomat, Rex Tillerson out, you have McMaster out, you had the chief economic adviser Gary Cohn out. This comes of course on an evening when news is breaking about Donald Trump`s chief criminal defense attorney John Dowd, also out.
It`s further confirmation of the reports from NBC and others that Donald Trump is moving forward, returning to what he has called the unbridled or original Trump. And he`s putting in people that reflect that. John Bolton is certainly considered a conservative and hard line voice with experience as a diplomat in the U.N., in the Bush administration, and also is known as a loud voice on FOX News as well as in foreign policy in neo-conservative circles.
Certainly a big breaking news here at this hour. What we`re going to do is stay on this story and bring you the latest on it in the coming minutes, while also turning to the other big story we have and that we promised to you, which is a very unusual interview I have with the whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica.
Consider the Trump`s international digital firm is facing an existential crisis right now over this hidden video scandal. You`re seeing the video on your screen is there. Bob Mueller probing these links between the Trump campaign and this Steve Bannon firm, Cambridge Analytica. Meanwhile Mark Zuckerberg announcing that same firm is banned from Facebook. Zuckerberg speaking out on this scandal for the first time as his company is losing $50 billion this week over the scandal.
So that is a lot swirling around Trump and his digital operation. And remember, this Mueller probe has always been a digital investigation about how Russia weaponized the Web, how they hacked the e-mails, did they have American help, and the big one, did that help include Trump aides?
Every story I just mentioned is wrapped up in Donald Trump`s controversial digital firm. And that firm is only under all this strain this week because of these hidden videos exposing the dirty tricks, the lying, the misinformation, and what I can tell you from my estimation is one of the most explosive international digital political scandals clearly since the 2016 election interference.
When you see these new sting videos on TV or on online, do you ever wonder where did this footage come from? Who would pick this fight with such powerful people who specialize in dirty tricks and kompromat, who are allies of President Trump?
Well, there`s one young man who`s at the center of every story I just mentioned. He once worked for this Trump firm Cambridge, so he knows how its now suspended CEO operates, how this firm directed by Steve Bannon was run and this 28-year-old basically risked his career to become a whistleblower, to expose what Trump`s digital firm was doing and what it may yet do. He exposed the secret information that just this week got Cambridge banned from Facebook, got its CEO suspended, got Zuckerberg to do this apology tour, even got Bob Mueller more interested in this firm.
Christopher Wiley is that 28-year-old in demand, an insider, a person who caused Facebook more money than just about anyone ever and who is now a crucial White House witness. The U.S. House Intel Committee I can tell you asking him to testify. He says he will.
So Wiley is not just in the eye of this storm, he`s in the eye of a storm of his own making. And before he goes face-to-face with these secretive U.S. investigators, it sure would be fascinating, probably useful for us all to hear more of his account in public and that`s what we`re going to do right now, as he joins THE BEAT from London.
I`m joined now by Christopher Wiley, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower. He was director of research, a founder of the firm, he did leave the company in 2014.
Thank you for joining me. Let me ask you, as you know, several former Trump aides including Manafort and Gates were indicted on violations of the foreign lobbying laws here in the United States. While you were with Cambridge, did you ever hear that the company Cambridge Analytica or any of its officers like Mr. Nix and Bannon were warned that these activities might violate American law?
CHRISTOPHER WILEY, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA WHISTLEBLOWER: Yes, absolutely. Rudy Giuliani`s law firm actually sent us a memo to Steve Bannon, Rebekah Mercer and Alexander Nix that actually outlined the fact that in the United States you cannot run campaigns with foreign citizens who aren`t permanent residents and the company was warned that Alexander Nix should recuse himself of substantive management duties in the company as CEO and they were also warned that the company shouldn`t be sending foreign citizens to go and run American campaigns.
MELBER: So Giuliani --
WILEY: But that advice --
MELBER: I just want to make sure --
WILEY: That advice was completely disregarded. And --
MELBER: You`re saying you know that during -- I just want to make sure I have this right, because you`re making quite an explosive allegation.
Giuliani warned the people you named during the campaign?
WILEY: Giuliani`s law firm.
MELBER: Rudy Giuliani`s law firm, during the campaign, in your view is they ignored those warnings?
WILEY: They did. They completely disregarded it. And I have the memo to prove it. I gave it to the "New York Times" and to "The Guardian."
MELBER: Let me turn to the explosive video that has rocked Facebook to its core caused it at least $50 billion this week. I`m going to play this video of the guy you used to report to, the now suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica who worked for the Trump campaign, Alexander Nix, on this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER NIX, CEO, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: Have a wealthy developer come in, somebody posing as a wealthy developer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a master of disguise.
NIX: Yes. They will offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land, for instance. We`ll have the whole thing recorded on cameras, we`ll blank out the face of our guy and then post it on the Internet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So on Facebook or YouTube or something like this?
NIX: Send some girls around to the candidate`s house. We have lots of history of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The offer of those kind of dirty tricks, was that an extreme exception of what Cambridge did or was that business as usual?
WILEY: No, that was completely normal. You know, if you take a look at some of Carols` recent reporting in "The Guardian" about the Nigeria hacking scandal that`s come out where this company received hacked material from Israeli private intelligence and used it to create kompromat in Nigeria, you know, they are willing to go to extreme lengths to do what it takes to win for their client, even if that is unlawful.
MELBER: Steve Bannon on the Board, the Mercers involved in the company, did they know that this was business as usual for Cambridge?
WILEY: Yes. Alexander Nix reported to Steve Bannon and Rebekah Mercer. And they had an obligation and a duty as officers of the company to keep track of what the company was doing and they failed in that.
MELBER: When you look at that video that`s been so explosive, how did it come about?
WILEY: When I started working with "The Guardian," one of the things that we thought would be useful is to see what the company is currently doing. So we approached Channel 4 and Channel 4 agreed to work with us to collaborate on setting up an undercover filming to see if they were still working in the same kind of unethical manner that I saw when I was there.
MELBER: So you helped set up the sting video?
MELBER: Christopher, I got to ask you, you`re going after people who look pretty important, linked to the Trump presidency, linked to all of these kompromat operations, were you ever scared becoming a whistleblower and setting up these sting videos?
WILEY: Yes, it`s incredibly intimidating. You know, I`m not going to lie, it`s incredibly intimidating to have an entire media storm circle you, have everybody, you know, digging through every past text message you`ve sent, everything that you`ve said online at one point or another, and to go up against, you know, a well-funded company, backed by a billionaire, to go up against Steve Bannon, to go up against the alt-right in the United States. Yes, it is intimidating.
MELBER: Mark Zuckerberg breaking his silence and says they want to ensure there`s no more Cambridge Analyticas on Facebook. In your view, has Facebook taken measures to make sure that`s the case?
WILEY: Well, to be honest, it feels more like a PR effort than, you know, any sort of general attempts to fix the issue. It was only a week ago that Facebook threatened to sue "The Guardian" over using the word breach. The company still has -- been ignoring my office to sit down with the regulators. They continue to stand by their statement where they want to access my personal devices and act as if they are the police, as if they are the state, despite the fact that I am working with the legitimate legal authority in this country to investigate this issue.
I`ve been the one that has brought this issue to public attention. I am the one that has proactively worked with the legal authorities here in the UK to investigate this for months. It`s only now that Facebook is playing catch-up, despite the fact that they`ve known about this for two years.
MELBER: Let me play one more piece of Zuckerberg talking about the obligation he has to users. I want to see whether this reflects your experience because you`ve been in the center of all this. Here is new Mark Zuckerberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: We have a basic responsibility to protect people`s data and if we can`t do that, then we don`t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Based on your dealings from Cambridge to Facebook, what grade would you give him on the way they`re meeting that duty?
WILEY: Well, they haven`t done anything. So, I mean, I have to -- you know, what else can I say than a failure? This has been a catastrophic failure. They could have proactively as I have worked with the regulators and the legal authorities in this country and in the United States and elsewhere to address some really serious issues that this Cambridge Analytica story really raises about the integrity of their system and the security of their system and more broadly how it impacts, you know, the democracy in the United States and elsewhere.
But, you know, the proof is in the pudding, right? You know, let`s see -- let`s actually see what the company is actually going to do.
MELBER: Christopher Wiley, you have clearly had a big impact already around the world and the story is just getting started. And as you outlined, you`ve taken some personal risk. I really appreciate you taking the time to come on THE BEAT here in this interview and explain your thinking and what you know.
WILEY: Cheers. Thank you for having me.
MELBER: And we turn now back to the breaking news, President Trump making another big change to his National Security team, HR McMaster out, John Bolton in.
McMaster had clashed with the president over policy issues, over statements about Russia, over the direction of the foreign policy of the United States.
John Bolton known as a hard liner with experience in the Bush administration. I was just speaking to that whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica. Bolton had led a super PAC that spent over a million dollars with that firm. An international news connection that may or may not have been fully digested at this point.
Because of this breaking news, I want to turn immediately to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut.
Your view of this change, sir?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: As important as the change, Ari, is the way it was made. Lack of explanation and indication of continuing churn and chaos and deep division in this White House. And the lack of any clear direction from the president on policy.
You`re absolutely right, John Bolton is known as a hard liner, clearly different than others in the administration now on the Iran agreement, for example, and it points to danger signals.
MELBER: I want to read from the statement again, this is breaking right now, McMaster saying, "After 34 years of service, I requested this retirement from the U.S. Army,` because he was still enlisted, "effective this summer, after which I`ll leave public service. Throughout my career," he says, "it`s my greatest privilege to serve alongside the extraordinary service members and dedicated civilians in the U.S. government."
He thanks President Trump, a thanks made in return, General John Kelly, who also among these chaos and shake-up stories has been rumored has an on paper here written statement calling McMaster a fine American. And there is a background information we`re receiving that this was mutual, that this was arranged, and I don`t mean to pour cold water on that, it`s my job to tell you what the White House is saying.
It`s also my job, as you know, Senator, to put it in context. Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted just about a week ago, "I spoke to the president and General McMaster. Contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC."
Your view, Senator, on that aspect of this. This is yet another denial or attack on reporting about these changes that ultimately has proved inoperative.
BLUMENTHAL: Put aside attacks on the media, which had become a staple for this administration.
BLUMENTHAL: The fact of the matter is that there are fewer even-headed and balanced mature judgment individuals in this administration. There are more of the hard liners, to use your term, and that augers very badly for the kind of balance and maturity that`s needed when critical foreign policy judgment potentially involving war or peace.
Here we have a seasoned general who is going to be leaving when his kind of insight and experience about the realities of war are so much needed.
MELBER: What is your view of Bolton taking on this role? Because while he does have foreign policy experience, he is not simply an analyst. He`s also someone that the president reportedly noticed from his hard hitting appearances on FOX News. He is someone that has clashed with other what you might call traditional foreign policy Republicans.
What does it tell you that tonight we`re watching the president scramble his legal team, moving it to a more aggressive posture towards the DOJ, and scrambling his foreign policy team, moving it towards what could be argues as a more aggressive posture towards the world?
BLUMENTHAL: John Bolton has been not only a critic of foreign policies that others might regard as rational and reasonable, but also has drawn a fairly hard line on the special counsel`s investigation, adopting the president`s dismissive and in some cases very oppositional views. And so again it indicates that the White House is circling the wagon, feeling a threat from this special counsel investigation, the change in counsel and the chaos and churn there reflect the same kind of confusion and chaos.
And remember also the role of this job has been classically to be an honest broker, someone who tries to take the views of different agencies and present them to the president in an even-handed way.
MELBER: Right. Right.
BLUMENTHAL: John Bolton is unlikely to be that kind of honest broker of views and positions.
MELBER: Well, you just made such a key historical point which is the National Security Act, the reorganization of these positions after World War II, is designed to have, as you say, a factual arbiter between the diplomats and the generals and everyone else. So Bolton is not just coming in to play a role in the security team, he`s coming in to be that person, that Condi Rice-style person. And as you`ve said, there are those who question whether he`s the right person for that job.
Would you be willing to stay with my breaking coverage as I add some other experts? This is all happening live.
BLUMENTHAL: Absolutely. Thank you.
MELBER: OK. Thank you, sir. Stay with me.
Kristen Walker has been reporting this breaking story from the White House. Ron Mehring worked for Senator Ted Cruz`s presidential campaign in 2016 and has an eye on many of these issues, and we`re also joined by phone by my colleague, Colonel Jack Jacobs, of course a trusted voice as an MSNBC military analyst.
What I`m going to do is ask Colonel Jacobs to give us a military view of what this means and then go right out to Kristen for the reporting. Colonel?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you know, what was really surprising in the first instance was the fact that HR McMaster was selected in the very beginning. I think a lot of people expected John Bolton to be the National Security adviser a year ago.
The thing about McMaster, of course, is that he couldn`t just quit. Not a very comfortable position for him because he`s a serving general officer, and the only way he could leave is to retire, which he had preferred not to do. They were looking for three-star and four-star jobs for him, but couldn`t find them anywhere.
And I think there is some semblance of truth to the notion that he left by mutual consent. He is a very, very smart guy. Has a wide ranging view of national security and national security strategy. And his leaving the administration is actually going to be quite a loss.
KRISTEN WALKER, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ari, I can tell you this has been in the works for quite some time. In fact NBC News was first to report that we did expect HR McMaster to leave by the end of this month. And so that is what is happening. And we sort of tracked this relationship he`s had with the president which has at times been rocky.
There have been disagreements privately over the Iran nuclear deal, for example, he`s one of the people who was urging the president not to rip up the deal. And then some of those differences did bubble up into public. You`ll recall that he was in Munich and he talked about the fact that there was no doubt that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.
That drew a very sharp rebuke from the president, who took to Twitter, to say that he had left out the fact that there was no finding that it actually influenced the results of the election. So that was one difference that really bubbled up into the public and underscored the fact that these two men did have some significant differences. And of course this comes ahead of President Trump who is preparing to have talks with North Korea`s leader, something that General McMaster was concerned about.
He`s taken a very tough stance for North Korea. One of the people here who has said all options are on the table including a military option. So he has expressed some real concerns about that potential meeting.
And look, the president has said he wants his team in place as he prepares for that all-important significant meeting. So this is something that, again, has been in the works, but it does, Ari, to one of the points that you raised, sort of decreased the number of people who disagree with the president in his inner circle.
WALKER: John Bolton is someone who is seen as agreeing with him on a whole range of issues. So who are going to be the voices who are able to stand up to him and debate him? A big question mark around that right now, Ari.
MELBER: Yes. And I think that`s a perfect point to go to Ron on, who is a, you know, more conservative view of all of this, and yet I wonder what you think from a policy process, not whether everything John Bolton`s ever said is perfect, but do you see him as the right demeanor and format for this important post at a time where the president is clearly under criticism from his own aides who leaked, you know, the way that he congratulated Putin for a rigged election and also declined to address the poisoning of someone on UK`s soil. And McMaster, in his own way, have been, at least at times, a kind of mild antidote to some of those concerns.
RON MEHRING, WORKED FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ`S 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I`ve spent a lot of time with Ambassador Bolton over the years. Many, many times, I`ve had many, many one-on-one conversations with him discussing a wide variety of foreign policy issues. And I found it to be an extremely reasonable, thoughtful and obviously well-experienced individual. Does he have clear views in terms of various issues, especially concerning nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction nonproliferation? Absolutely.
He was responsible for that at the State Department in the past and then carried that forward when he was President Bush`s ambassador on behalf of the United States at the United Nations. So, you know, contrary to, you know, some of the things that I`m hearing here, my one-on-one time with him, I found it to be extremely thoughtful and someone who I think will serve the president very, very well.
Some people would call him a hard liner, I would call him someone who`s very, very realistic. Someone who was there for -- you know, to see firsthand North Korea, for example, cheating on their commitments that they made. You know, we have a -- had a nuclear deal with North Korea. They now have nuclear weapons.
That nuclear deal, which the Clinton administration forged, had no impact in terms of preventing them from obtaining nuclear weapons. I think he will take the same type of --
MEHRING: -- realism toward Iran, you know, right now, is of course a critical issue.
MELBER: Senator Blumenthal, I wonder if we can widen the lens, and for folks just following our breaking coverage, the story breaking literally in the last few minutes, was the long-rumored change, the president getting rid of HR McMaster, the National Security adviser, putting in John Bolton, a very conservative foreign policy figure, even often called a neo- conservative.
And Senator, I wonder if we can widen these lens to what is happening with the president writ large because the accounts in "The New York Times" and elsewhere are of a man who has tried it their way for a year and now wants to go his own way, wants to be unbridled, wants to put his own team in.
And so what everyone thinks of the first year of presidency that reflects more changes afoot for the person who is a constitutional commander-in- chief and has these lawful powers. And raises a question of, do you think we`re seeing the true, deeper Trump, whatever that may mean, and people who are even more conservative, more to the right of the Republican Party`s mainstream?
BLUMENTHAL: We are seeing more of the true Trump for sure because he is gradually winnowing the opposing viewpoints that come to him. And whatever your agreements or disagreements on policy, the idea of diverse points of view coming to the president, the devil`s advocate who will play the part of a responsible critic is very, very useful in the White House.
The buck stops on the president`s desk. But he should be welcoming a McMaster who disagrees with him rather than, in effect, shielding himself from that uncomfortable or inconvenient truth. And it sometimes is truth even when it is disagreeable. And so, however you characterize John Bolton, he`s much more of Trump`s view. He comes with an agenda. He is not going to be the neutral arbiter or honest broker so far as history would indicate in any event. And that has been traditionally one of the vital functions of the National Security adviser.
MELBER: Stay with me, I want to bring in Sam Seder who`s at the table here with me. A part of this that really can`t be ignored, and I don`t say it with any shade or automatic negativity, it`s just part of the facts of the current Cabinet of the United States. And this is from NBC News tabulation.
John Bolton is, at this hour, technically still a FOX News contributor. So is Joe DiGenova, the new lawyer who I`ve been reporting on the top of the hour, is ousting someone with a lot more criminal defense experience.
KT McFarland was a FOX News contributor. She`s the first deputy national security adviser. Larry Kudlow joins from CNBC. He did, I want to now, had government experience but his primary thing has been hosting a CNBC show for quite some time. And press secretary at the State Department, Heather Nauert, was from FOX News.
You are someone who had studied for sometime the intersection of conservative media and conservative politics. Your view of Bolton in that regard?
SAM SEDER, HOST, "MAJORITY REPORT": Well, that`s almost the best thing you can say about him, frankly, because yes, he`s over at FOX News, I`m sure Sean Hannity wants a lot of his friends over there. You can start to see a lot of Sean Hannity`s verbiage when Donald Trump tweets out. But I want to just push back a little bit on your previous guest`s characterization of John Bolton.
MELBER: Go ahead.
SEDER: This is a man who was too radical for a Republican-controlled Senate in 2005 to be ambassador to the U.N. So this is --
MELBER: A lower position than this.
SEDER: A lower position, far less involved in foreign policy. He is a hard-core, neo-conservative. He was one of the biggest Iraq war cheerleaders. He was part of a new -- a project for New American Century, which was exclusively neo-con.
MELBER: And let`s reflect on the foreign policy history that you were excavating. The Iraq war is something that Donald Trump as a political matter ran against.
SEDER: Ran -- I mean, pointedly against. I mean, he talked about George Bush often in terms of Jeb Bush and in terms of that Iraq war. This is an incredible departure from his pretense during the campaign. But it`s a radical departure from U.S. foreign policy over decades. Even, even under the Bush administration. And people tend to forget, in 2005, for George Bush not to get his way in the wake of 9/11, which still had a lot of impact on national security issues, John Bolton is at the extreme of the extreme when it comes to neo-conservative foreign policy.
And this is going to have incredibly grave implications for the Iran deal, for our involvement in Syria. I mean, this is -- this is incredibly alarming. And this is not a post that needs Senate confirmation.
MELBER: And Senator Blumenthal, when you look at that aspect of this, Sam Seder raising a point that relates to the constitutional nature of your body, the Senate`s role. As you know, the Senate does not exercise a confirmation of National Security post. And Sam reminds us that this is something Bolton couldn`t get through.
Your view of whether that was part of the plan here because this is one post that he doesn`t have to go through the Senate on.
BLUMENTHAL: And frankly, it`s the same concern we raised with Michael Flynn before he was charged and before he pleaded guilty because of conflicts of interest. I think there are going to be questions about conflicts of interest raised about John Bolton. You indicated that he was the chief sponsor, the leader of the pack that contributed to Cambridge Analytica. He`s not only a hard liner with an agenda when it comes to foreign policy, he is clearly a Trump acolyte. And he has invested, maybe not personally, but he has supported people who have invested in these far- right fringe groups. And --
MELBER: And Senator, I`m going to interrupt to get you on the record before I go in 90 seconds, what was just handed to me in the newsroom. I didn`t know this will be handed to me when I started probing these issues, but I`m reading from FOX News, it says, breaking, Ambassador John Bolton joins FOX News on the story exclusive interview with the incoming National Security director.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I will be interested in what he has to say. But to go to your previous question, this issue raises the question of whether perhaps there should be Senate confirmation for the National Security adviser because it has become such a profoundly important post and possibly with policymaking implications.
MELBER: And I think that`s an interesting point to pause on, reflect on. The breaking news this hour, the president shaking up his team in yet another department, perhaps wiping off the attention on the exit of his Russia lawyer to replace HR McMaster. And if you`re keeping score at home, this is Donald Trump`s third National Security adviser. The first pleading guilty to a felony in the Russia probe. The second, an enlisted member of the military, who is now retiring.
And the third, this FOX News commentator, John Bolton, who before entering the White House, before apparently going to speak in public, will speak at his employer, FOX News, shortly.
That is the news tonight. This is all real life.
I want to thank my panelists, my reporter, my esteemed colleagues and the senator. Thank you all for being part of our breaking news coverage. It continues right now on "HARDBALL."
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: War footing. Let`s play "HARDBALL."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END