Stocks down amidst jitters over trade war. TRANSCRIPT: 04/06/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Chai Komanduri, Brian Wice, Shelby Holliday, Joe Mande, Andy Kindler

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: April 6, 2018 Guest: Chai Komanduri, Brian Wice, Shelby Holliday, Joe Mande, Andy Kindler

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. And thank you.

We are following several big stories right now. There is this shake-up in the market, some calling it a Trump drop. The Dow is down 550 points with these fears that Trump is going full on into a trade war with China.

Also tonight, these new calls for Trump to get rid of the scandal plagued EPA chief. At this hour, though, Trump publicly standing by him.

Also, new fallout in that denial from the President on air force one that he had anything to do with paying Stormy Daniels in a contract that he claims protects it.

But we begin tonight with some very interesting news. Bob Mueller turning his focus to another man who is also involve in a Stormy Daniels` case, a man very close to Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael`s my attorney and you`ll have to ask Michael.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You will have to ask Michael. Those words were heard around the world and certainly in the legal community last night. Michael Cohen has, of course, been fielding these questions about Stormy Daniels because he facilitated these payments. But also Bob Mueller asking questions about this, a Trump associate involved in business with the Trump organization and oversees business deals is now caught up in this. And the question focused on interaction involving, yes, Michael Cohen. This report comes of course after "Washington Post" has already documented that Mueller was probing Cohen`s negotiations for a potential Trump tower building in Moscow. That building never built.

But what exactly does Bob Mueller want to know about Michael Cohen? And how would Cohen explain those preparations for any potential Moscow deal? We know how he describes Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: The words the media should be using to describe Mr. Trump are generous, compassionate, principled, and pathetic, kind, humble, honest and genuine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Empathetic and humble. You heard it here first. And Michael Cohen is known to give anything involving Donald Trump a positive spin. The question is when does spin become crime if you have to lie to make things sound good?

And for that, we turn to former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade as well as the reporter for "Vanity Fair" Emily Jamie Fox who has been, as we say, in the business, all over this story, as well as former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman.

Barbara, let`s start with the Mueller piece of this. Because generally as we have discussed in this show, lawyers are off-limits unless they really mess up. What is it tell you that Mueller is looking at people around Cohen in business?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, ordinarily, communications with somebody`s lawyer are privileged under the attorney-client privilege, but only to the extent that you are communicating for the purpose of seeking legal advice.

Michael Cohen seems to occupy a very different role with Donald Trump. To some extent, he operates as lawyer, but he is also operates as business representative. So, if he was working on negotiating a deal for Trump tower in Moscow, that will be the kind of thing that she could look into.

And I think that Trump`s finances, especially with regard to investments in Russia are very much part of this investigation because I think he wants to understand any leverage, any debts, any motives and any possible blackmail that could be going on here. And so, I think Michael Cohen`s involvement in those negotiations makes him fair game to look at.

MELBER: Yes. You are speaking of the multiple roles he plays.

Emily, did you ever see the movie Michael Clayton?

EMILY JAMIE FOX, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MELBER: And George Clooney is a lawyer, but he is also what they call a fixer, because he does a lot of work out of the courtroom. And that`s the case with Michael Cohen. And I don`t say that to cast aspersions, per se, indeed I have reported on this show about some of the legal attacks on Michael Cohen are off base. But it is certainly a true thing, and obviously a thing that`s interesting to Bob Mueller, that a lot of what Michael Cohen does for Donald Trump is out of court and off the books.

FOX: I think that`s a description that Michael Cohen would like, when he heard the description in the media described comparing him to Ray Donovan, another fictional fixer. And the only thing he took issue about that was that someone has described him with the less attractive version of Ray Donovan. So that is what he found offensive in that comparison.

The Trump organization is not a massive operation, it`s not a massive corporation. And so many people play are going to company and dual roles, including Michael Cohen. The issue here is that there was also a Presidential campaign run out of the same office building as the Trump organization and Michael Cohen worked out of that office building even though he wasn`t part of the campaign. So his role is very hard to pin down and that is kind of by design.

MELBER: Yes. And he gave what sounded like a plaintive and even professional remark in your interview, which has gotten a lot of attention here on the show. But our views have probably seen the quote. "

At times I wish I was there in D.C. more sitting with him in the oval office sitting with him in the oval office, he mused, like we used to at Trump tower, as you just mentioned, to protect him. I`m the guy who would take a bullet for the President.

Well, it is the secret service that we think of first in that role, but what does that tell you about his potential to flip? Because Mueller has flipped a lot of people, but Cohen doesn`t seem in his own narrative to be on the board for that.

FOX: I think what we should all remember is that Michael Cohen knows President Trump better than many people know President Trump. And he knows that that is exactly the kind of line that would appeal to President Trump who cares so deeply about loyalty. So, yes, he is someone who has been incredibly loyal to the President and to the President`s entire family for a decade.

But he is also someone who knows exactly what notes need to be resounded and said over and over and over again at the exact specific time that they need to be repeated.

MELBER: Right. You make a fair point there about how to view a statement made perhaps for the audience of one. Then there is where Mueller`s had it.

And Daniel, I want to read through these new filings, which are somewhat arcane (ph), but they have clues that we don`t usually get because there is a fight with Manafort about morons and other detail. And it basically show that two weeks after Gates flipped, Mueller was working on quote "ongoing investigations, not the subject of either of the current prosecutions involving Manafort and obviously to get a search warrant. That means a judge found probable cause of something related to a potential crime. What does that tell you, Daniel?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it tells me that there`s a whole another avenue of investigation that Mueller has taken. And that was also set forth in Rod Rosenstein`s memo from August 2nd of last year, confirming what issues and areas Mueller could investigate. So when you put the two together, you know that Manafort was - has been indicted twice based on his pre-campaign for the most part. And now, you also know that the special counsel is authorized to investigate him for what we have been commonly referring to as collusion.

Then when you link with search warrants a couple of weeks after his right- hand man Rick Gates has pleads guilty to a cooperation agreement. You put all that together and the natural assumption is that these search warrants will probably relate in some capacity to another investigations and to Manafort which we can assume is this collusion investigation.

But remember, we don`t know necessarily what these search warrants are about. They relate to five phones. My suspicion is they relate to historical cell site location information. Which basically is the cell tower that a phone bounces off of when a call is made. And this is very frequently used in for instance a bank robbery case if you want to know that the suspect was at the bank at around the time of the bank robbery, you would get their historical cell site information. It is less relevant in a white collar investigation usually. But it can also be very good corroboration for a corroborating witness such as Rick Gates.

MELBER: Daniel, I didn`t know we were going to get into cell tower business to that level of detail. But I wonder if you could speak specifically to the five telephone numbers, we can put up on the screen, because we`re seeing where the warrants are for. These -- Alexandria residence, that makes sense, a storage locker, kind of intriguing, Manafort`s alleged email account, makes sense, two more email accounts, sure. A lot of people have more than one email. A hard drive. And then as you are discussing, these five telephone numbers linked to At&T.

As you know, Daniel, there`s a famous song in hip-hop, I have two phones, which is Kevin Gates talking about a legitimate phone and then a phone for illegitimate or illegal activity, in that case drug running. I wonder, when you look at five phone accounts, is that something that`s potentially suspicious or not.

GOLDMAN: Not necessarily because we don`t know whether they are Manafort`s or that they are related to Manafort.

MELBER: So it could be, in your view -- just to be clear, when we see that Mueller`s got these five out, that could be five different people`s numbers?

GOLDMAN: Absolutely.

MELBER: Right. And so, are those -- do those people have something to worry about?

GOLDMAN: Yes, possibly. I mean, certainly, they should have something to be cognizant of because they are likely at least a witness to whatever Mueller is investigating. But they may simply be a witness and it may simply be to show that for example Manafort and Gates and someone else, whose phone number was included in that search warrant were in the same location at the same time to say, OK, when Gates says we met there, they were all actually there.

MELBER: Right. That they are just running down those leads.

Barbara, do you see anything from the new filings here that suggests where Mueller`s headed?

MCQUADE: Well, I think one other possibility with regard to those phones is the other thing that Robert Mueller could be looking at are text messages stored on those phones or voicemail messages stored on those phones.

You know, my friend Paul Fishman, a former U.S. attorney also shared an interesting observation that it seems to coincide with the same timing that Robert Mueller and his team are checking all the phones of all these incoming Russian diplomats coming into the country, are very Russian businessmen and oligarchs. Is there some connection there that they are looking at those phones and at Manafort`s pones to see if they are talking to each other or texting each other?

MELBER: That`s tantalizing, right, from an investigator`s standpoint, Barbara. But then if goes to the classic question that are asked about all sorts of criminals, white collar and many other collar, which is how stupid are they? So that duty (ph) to work, Paul Manafort would have to be continue to be maintaining contact while he knows he is under surveillance with oligarchs. Is that possible?

MCQUADE: It is, Ari - you see it again and again, and I don`t know if it`s stupid or arrogant or they just too busy to worry about it. But you it again and again, so often, in cases of every type. You will see people who communicate by email, by text, and all kinds of other ways knowing that it`s something that investigators could get their hands on and yet people do it all the time. And so it`s absolutely worth checking.

Now, it maybe that they were smart enough to cover their tracks and didn`t use these things, but I think Mueller is diligent enough to check.

MELBER: And Emily, on the Michael Cohen front, do you have any indication on how his day was today? I mean, we reported this last night, and we have Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels`s lawyer responding, just how extraordinary it was to have a sitting President who has used Michael Cohen this way, who has filed suit to try to silence a woman from telling her story and then say, hey, I don`t know anything about it, ask Michael. I mean, do you have any sense of - in his world, how that`s playing today?

FOX: You know, Michael Cohen is a very Trumpian animal. He is someone who was able to project that everything`s just fine, honky dory. Now I think this is obviously been very distressful period to have his name and his photo plastered all over the news, 24/7.

But I think from all of my reporting, he is having a day just like any other.

MELBER: OK. Daniel Goldman, Barbara McQaude and Emily Jamie Fox, thank you very much.

Up ahead, NBC has confirmed that Donald Trump met with Scott Pruitt in the middle of this ethics scandal as he resist, calls to clean House.

Donald Trump also breaking his silence on Stormy Daniels, and asking for more time, conservative evangelicals currently want a word with the President.

Meanwhile, the musician, Jay-z, taking on Donald Trump in this new interview with David Letterman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z, MUSICIAN: I think that what he is forcing people to do is have a conversation and people to band together and work together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Turning to new pressure on Donald Trump to fire the official who has become really the symbol of the swamp. Sixty-four House Democrats tonight say Trump has to get rid Scott Pruitt. That`s of course in addition to leaks that John Kelly wants Pruitt out. Trump resisting.

NBC confirms he actually met with Pruitt today to talk about fuel standards issues. No word on whether they discussed any of these headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly paid $50 a night to live in a Washington apartment partially owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist last year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a surprise to everyone when we learned that Scott Pruitt was charging the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to build himself a cone of silence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants the protective detail to turn on the sirens and use the roller so he can flow through traffic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It`s not just about Scott Pruitt or whatever he was going to do in that isolation chamber. Remember, this is a young presidency and President Trump had always claimed it was his personal wealth that would benefit the rest of the country because he wouldn`t be influenced by swamp lobbyists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Because I don`t need anybody`s money, it`s nice. I don`t need anybody`s money. I`m using my own money. I`m not using the lobbyists. I`m not using donors, I don`t care. I`m really rich.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He is really rich. But that doesn`t mean he is independent or his administration is.

Look at these ethics scandals, we will put it up on the screen. We are seeing people like Tom Price, we are seeing Pruitt, Mnuchin, Zinke, Carson, this is more than anyone agency. This is what a swamp culture looks like.

And for more on this, I`m joined by Howard Fineman, an NBC News contributor and friend of the show, as well as Chai Komanduri who works for UCLA and who has advised many candidates, including Barack Obama, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.

Howard, I start with you. Is this larger than Pruitt?

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBCNEWS.COM CONTRIBUTOR: Of course it`s larger than a Pruitt and I think it`s dawned on the White House that it is. That Pruitt is the latest in the long line of pictures that you just put on the screen.

I just literally got off the phone with somebody who is close to the Trump circle and should know. And I asked him, I said Sarah Huckabee Sanders today at the press conference said in an answer to a question about Pruitt that the President believes that Pruitt had done a good job. And I said, she didn`t say he is doing a good job. And well, it`s a key distinction in Trump world, in these end of days dramas that we have seen repeatedly and he said good catch. There`s a difference.

MELBER: Yes, this is.

FINEMAN: And another person told me yesterday and I reported yesterday that inside the White House at the very top, they are saying, it is not a question of whether with Scott Pruitt, it`s a question of when. And I think that`s partly not just because Pruitt -- and I actually think the red flashing lights going through the city is every bit as much of a symbol in their eyes of the swamp as taking the cheap apartment from the lobbyist and this person said to me, look, he has got all those deregulation things going, that`s all entrained right now, but we can`t take any more of this stuff. And I think what that person meant was it wasn`t just about Scott Pruitt, it was about the whole range.

Ironically enough, Ari, there`s only one person in the court of the sun king who is allowed to behave like Donald Trump and that`s Donald Trump. When other people get caught doing it, a lot of them get in trouble.

MELBER: Well, isn`t that the truth? And Howard, you are saying something, Chai, that Trump advisors have said to me, not for attribution as we say in the business, which is when people around Trump, they seem get away with stuff and they think they can get away with it which is a fundamental mistake in any court.

CHAI KOMANDURI, FORMER POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Yes. And absolutely, one of the biggest thing about Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt is, that his support of Scott Pruitt is very similar to his support for like Roy Moore. Everything that Scott Pruitt is accused of, Donald Trump is accused of.

Trump has monetized the White House, he has made 1.2 million from political groups who have rented Trump properties over the last year. The previous record was a hundred thousand in terms of political groups. So they have made a tremendous amount of money ever since they moved into the White House.

And if you look at the variety of scandals like Tom Price and Ben Carson and Ryan Zinke, et cetera, you realize that there`s a culture in this White House where administration officials feel they can use the White House as a free platinum card paid for by the taxpayers. And that comes from a culture created by Trump where he views personal gain as the highest form of public service.

MELBER: I think you put it so perfectly. And add to that, the fact that Scott Pruitt was trying to do to the EPA that Donald Trump is trying to do to the DOJ, but he may get a more trouble for it.

I want to read, Howard, from this other reporting that basically the career people, the nonpartisan people, stood up to Pruitt and they were then demoted or they requested new jobs under pressure raising concerns about the spending problem. The difference is that the bureaucracy is striking back, that facts matter, we learn about this from a trepid reporting in the Times and the Post, from our colleagues here in the NBC Washington bureau, we learn about it as facts and it does seem to affect him to change points in a way that is not affecting always the President.

FINEMAN: Yes. And I think you are right about the career people at EPA. Many of whom have been there for decades. They have sort of been below radar as professional people. I think another key, though, was not the professional people, but the political appointee, who essentially had been an advance man in the Trump campaign. And he is the guy who blew the whistle so to speak, on the sirens and the emergency travels through Washington as though, you know, World War III were about to break out, when Scott Pruitt was just going to a dinner engagement somewhere.

And it`s when things become easily graspable by people, things are happening elsewhere in the administration, and when somebody else is behaving as though they are entitled the way Donald Trump alone feels that he should be entitled that they get in trouble. And I think that`s what`s happened to Pruitt here. And by the way, having going down to Kentucky yesterday which is his home state, Scott Pruitt was born in Kentucky, was raised in Kentucky, going down there and being embraced by the governor Matt Evan and by senator Rand Paul and so on, that if nothing else, that infuriated the people inside the White House I think including the President who also didn`t like the fact that Pruitt went on FOX, where by the way, he was hammered by Ed Henry in that interview yesterday. They just don`t like the whole scene right now. Even the Koch brothers who are out there defending Pruitt. I don`t think they`re going to be enough here.

The other thing is that Pruitt has jammed through a whole lot of rule makings and proposed changes, it`s now maybe inconvenient to have him around as those things go through the process. The Koch brothers want the bottom line not the drama.

MELBER: Howard, what you are speaking to is what is known as the two scoops of ice cream rule there in the Trump White House. Only one scoop, unless you are President. And that`s - look. Throughout history, powerful people have always used ice cream as a form of --

KOMANDURI: Sure, ice cream is delicious. Yes.

MELBER: It`s delicious. It melts quickly.

KOMANDURI: It`s the one luxury everybody can afford.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: The mentioning of the -- sorry -- Howard Fineman mentions the Ed Henry interview on FOX which didn`t go that well.

KOMANDURI: Right.

MELBER: I`m going to play now. I always like to say this for viewers, what I`m about to play is not true, I`m playing it because it`s false. But here is Pruitt misleading and lying claiming that there was no lobbyist link when we all know there was. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So why did you then accept $50 a night to rent a condo from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Let`s talk about that. That is something that again has been reviewed by the officials here, they have said that it`s market rate.

HENRY: You are renting it from the wife of a lobbyist.

PRUITT: Yes, who has no business in this conversation?

HENRY: Hold on a second. So, is that Williams and Jenson, right, major lobbying firm, ExxonMobil is the client.

PRUITT: Mr. Hart has no clients

HENRY: ExxonMobil has business before you --.

PRUITT: Mr. Hart has no clients that has business before this agency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: They actually do have clients who have business with the agency, more than three have been counted.

KOMANDURI: Right.

MELBER: So broaden that out, to Pruitt basically struggling to even defend what he is doing in a climate where the White House can`t afford another ethics scandal.

KOMANDURI: Well, yes. And that`s why John Kelly is actually the one saying that Scott Pruitt has to go and Donald Trump sort of seeming like he is defending Scott Pruitt. Because John Kelly knows something very important, which is corruption matter in midterms. If you look at the way that the (INAUDIBLE) and delay scandals affected the culture of the 2006 midterms, it really created an environment where voters wanted to send Democrats to Capitol Hill to put a check on the GOP.

MELBER: And what an irony if corruption and the swamp is the thing that bites back against the Republicans here.

Chai, Howard, thank you both for joining me. I want to fit in a break because we have a lot move coming up.

Trump lawyers asking for more time to deal with Stormy Daniels, why do they need more time?

And later tonight, fallback Friday with very special guest right here in Hollywood.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The other top story tonight, Donald Trump allegedly paid for silence but now he is breaking his own silence on Stormy Daniels, putting more legal pressure on his lawyer or as we discussed tonight, perhaps fixer Michael Cohen. Bob Mueller now looking at Michael Cohen as he tracks down Trump`s business partners.

It was just last night Trump on THE BEAT when Daniels` lawyer gave his first response to this news, talking about now they will now push to get both Trump and Cohen under oath.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` ATTORNEY: A topic that we are going to explore in connection with his deposition which we are going to be making a petition for on Monday.

MELBER: So you are going to go ahead and forward with trying to get Donald Trump deposed after these comments?

AVENATTI: Absolutely, now more than ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Trump lawyers now asking the court for more time to respond on all of this.

Let`s get right to it with criminal defense attorney Brian Wice and "Wall Street Journal" Shelby Holliday who has covered this story for quite some time.

Brian, I didn`t know after 60 MINUTES that this story would get new light on air force one from the President, much to discuss. But you as a defense attorney, your view of his statement in the context of being a client. BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I watched THE BEAT last night and I want to tell you, it`s what my generation use to call must-see T.V. Michael Avanatti is crushing these guys, Ari, and the problem is that every time President Trump, David Schwartz or Michael Cohn opens their mouth, they are sinking the ship. In a situation like this, Michael Avanatti understands that by baiting these guys, he`s got them doing his will. And like any litigator, these guys who represent Michael Cohen recognize that if you`re in a forum, a court, an arena where you can`t win, you`ve got to get it somewhere you can and right now, this case only exist on some level in federal district court in the court of public opinion. And again --

MELBER: Well, let me ask you a riddle. Let me ask you a legal riddle. Do you think Donald Trump hurt himself or Michael Cohen more with those comments?

WICE: Oh, I think he hurt Michael Cohen more, Ari. I mean we have heard so much talk over the last 24 hours since Michael Avanatti appeared on THE BEAT about Michael Cohen being under the bus. You know, Michael Cohen fancies himself as a Ray Donovan character, but if you`re look at how he is acted and reacted if you`re a fan of the show, he`s more like bunchy, you know, the ill-fated brother. Everybody is a tough guy when they`re engaged in heavy petting with Jeanine Pirro doing a Fox interview. But when you hear that jail door slam behind you, when you see that your law license is in the balance, believe me, even tough guys ultimately breakdown. And one of the points that Michael made on your show last night was that the Trump team is expecting Michael Cohen to carry a tremendous amount of weight, the $64,000 question in the riddle I`ll ask you is do you think he going to be able to carry that burden?

MELBER: Well, is it a $64,000 question or a $130,000 question?

WICE: I guess we could place you. Look --

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Worth $20 million.

MELBER: Or damages. Shelby, moving to the crazy damages there, let me play for you, Shelby, this now perhaps, at least to some people a famous example about the bus from Avanatti last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER, STORMY DANIELS: He`s effectively thrown Michael Cohen now under the bus, at least from an ethics standpoint with the State Bar of New York by making these statements on Air Force One. But again, you know, this is an undisciplined guy who, you know, he just finally cracked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Shelby?

HOLLIDAY: You know, lawyers have mixed reactions to the fact that Trump threw Cohen under the bus. This has been the Cohen camp and the Trump camp`s defense all along that Trump didn`t know about the payment. I don`t necessarily think that it was Avanatti who baited Trump into saying this. Trump was backed into a corner literally on Air Force One, a reporter ask if he -- if he knew about the payment and chose to say no and he didn`t really elaborate on that.

MELBER: Hold up, hold up, hold up, Shelby. I think Air Force One is probably the last place the a President is in a corner in the world. You literally --

HOLLIDAY: Well, you watched the video. You know, he`s talking to press --

MELBER: It`s a President`s place, he has plenty of security, if he wanted to say --

HOLLIDAY: He could have walked away.

MELBER: -- I don`t have more on that, or I`m only talking policy, or our court filings speak for themselves.

HOLLIDAY: Or does break or does not speak.

MELBER: There are many things that a responsible client could have said, that he -- I don`t think he was cornered, I think he chose to say that and he for his reason chose to throw it back at Michael Cohen.

HOLLIDAY: Right, and he did throw it back at Michael Cohen. The thing is Michael Cohen has been taking the fall for Trump forever. I mean, this is his job, this is why he exists. He`s out there to fight for Trump, protect Trump. Michael Cohen always takes the hit, so I don`t think this is like a new thing for Michael Cohen. However, I do think it`s significant that Trump is on the record, who wasn`t necessarily under oath but now do officially have him on the record. So you do have that. That`s a small victory for Mr. Avanatti. The question is, where does this go from here? The judges don`t necessarily seem to be siding with Stormy`s case. The President`s team wants to force this to arbitration, that`s what the contract mandates. It seems like that might be where this is going. And all along, I mean, I think when you -- at the end of the day, when you look at how this case, how this situation has unfolded, we`re hearing mixed messages actually from both sides. So it`s just hard to make any sort of judgment right now. The President did say a few words that legal experts say, he probably shouldn`t have done. But he wasn`t under oath and Michael Cohen knew this was coming.

MELBER: And Brian Wice, the other part of this is the connective tissue. In other words for people who think that in the collusion case there might be smoking gun evidence against Donald Trump, the Stormy Case shows some clues. This guy is so careful and so canny, he didn`t even sign his own NDA, OK. He allegedly demanded it, he entered, we know, the court, trying to threaten her with financial ruin, but he never even signed the NDA. He says he didn`t pay for it. He goes out of his way, to Shelby`s point, if they are just playing a big game and pretending, to him and Michael to play this rogue lawyer defense, and yet at the same time, Mueller is bearing down on Cohen and Felix Sater and other associates looking for anything. And so, I wonder what this shows you about the lack of evidence Donald Trump personally in the Mueller probe given his approach to the Stormy Issue?

WICE: Well, I think rule one in the playbook has to be that we don`t know what Robert Mueller and his team, the not screwing around crew have. I can assure you they have infinitely more than any of us suspect they do. But if I can just disagree with Shelby on one level, again, if you watched Michael Avanatti crush it last night on your show, he makes a pretty compelling case that the NDA is now gone with the wind. And so it really doesn`t make any difference if Judge James Otero at the Federal Court send this case to arbitration. What`s the end game? At some point, the Trump people need to declare victory in the part of the playing field because at this point, because at this point, there doesn`t seem to be any real reason to go forward. And I knew you`re a huge rap fan, in the words of P. Diddy, it`s just -- it`s all about the Benjamins. And at this point, that`s a bridge too far for these Trump people. I mean, my goodness, David Schwartz got worked over by Megyn Kelly the other day. At that point, I really think it`s time to think of another profession.

MELBER: Brian Wice, a baller, a shock collar, and coming through the day to Diddy reference. If you know me, I love dad jokes and I love dated cultural references. Brian, Shelby, thank you both. I got to fit in a break because I got to a couple of things to tell you. Number one, a lot going on with Facebook. Sheryl Sandberg saying other Facebook data breaches are possible. There`s a lot more I`m going to show you on that. But also tonight, a very special Hollywood edition of "FALLBACK FRIDAY" when we come back in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means? It`s time to fall back. This is our first Hollywood edition of "FALLBACK FRIDAY" and it wouldn`t be complete without Hollywood royalty. Comedian Joe Mande, currently writes for NBC`s "THE GOOD PLACE", Stand Up on Comedy Central VH1 and even Conan.

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JOE MANDE, COMEDIAN: Look, I`ll be honest, I am not a political comedian, really, but I do watch a lot of news on television, and I`ve noticed lately that President Obama looks very sad. You know, he looks depressed. I feel like every morning when Obama wakes up he goes to his bathroom mirror and says to himself you know, no matter what I do, no matter what I try to accomplish, Will Smith is just going to play me in my stupid movies, so --

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MELBER: Joe also has a new Netflix Special.

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MANDE: The black woman was like, yes, I thought you were like a light- skinned black guy? And I looked at her and said, are you sure, for real? That`s the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to me. You see, I`m a 33-year-old Jewish man, that`s the only thing I`ve ever wanted in my life.

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MELBER: And Comedian Andy Kindler is here. You might recognize him from role as Andy in Everybody Loves Raymond.

ANDY KINDLER, COMEDIAN: Sounds dated now after his current stuff. You might remember him for Please Don`t Eat The Daisies 50 years ago.

MELBER: I think your haircut and accent are also dated so at least you can (INAUDIBLE).

KINDLER: And look, it looks like one of our weekly Jews control the media segment.

MANDE: Yes, we did it.

MELBER: Wow. Let me play a little more of you being funny.

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KINDLER: You`re so insane he`s started Trump University but it`s not even the University, it`s just a Web site. How would you recruit students for that?

Excellent hair son, you`re on your way. Did you get to see a brochure from Trump University? It`s the best University in the country.

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MELBER: Did you know those jokes were about a future president?

KINDLER: That was in 2008, I was -- nothing if not (INAUDIBLE).

MELBER: And today, you`re nothing if not Boca --

KINDLER: Boca Raton?

MELBER: Yes.

KINDLER: In the words of Vanilla Ice, Ari, ice, ice, baby, I`ve been preparing that all week.

MELBER: I don`t think it mean anything. Joe, who needs to fall back this week.

MANDE: I think it`s pretty obvious, you were talking about him before, it`s Scott Pruitt. I mean, this guy is his spending the government`s money like a sound cloud rapper who`s just gotten a record deal. He`s like a little pump -- little oil pump. I mean, he like he`s got charter planes and flying first class and he has a $40,000 soundproof phone booth which is like, what is that? It`s like something from Ferdinand`s cribs episodes or something. It`s so extravagant. And then it`s on the news that he has, just like room situation where he`s renting a room from a lobbyist.

MELBER: His Airbnb hostel.

MANDE: His Airbnb hostel. It`s $50 a night which is absurd. He`s trying to play it off like no, that`s like the going rate in Washington, D.C. For example, I think, like my dog, when I take my dogs to daycare, it`s $55 a night per dog. Like that can`t be real.

MELBER: Yes. You actually raise so -- what we love about comedians is you guys are smart but you pick up on certain things. You`re picking up on the $50 part, like we`ve been covering this at news and we`ve been covering more just the ethics scandalopoulos of it but you`re making the point at like $50, why not $10, why not $1? Like what a fake prize.

MANDE: Yes, and also his adult daughter is living with him which seems to be a theme in the administration. It`s like very close --

MELBER: All right, we`re going to move forward to you. Who needs to fall back?

KINDLER: Who needs to fall back is Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy with their horrible -- first of all fall back with that horrible book cover, Unified. They should have maybe had a meeting before they unified on that.

MELBER: I think we have that.

KINDLER: Yes. And also --

MANDE: That`s the cover?

KINDLER: No, maybe not. No, there`s the cover. And there was like what happened to regular book titles? How come this is like, how we overcame our --

MELBER: How Our Unlikely Friendship gives Us Hope for a Divided Country. How could you be against that? That`s nice.

KINDLER: Whatever happened to jaws? Something simple. That was a novel. All right. Check for that. And now the book is -- I`m almost to the Joke, Ari. When it comes it`s going to be -- I hope you have -- tell people not to laugh. How they overcame their differences, how two right-wing, deep south southerners were able to not reach across the aisle and stay on the same side of the aisle? And (INAUDIBLE) was it their love for Benghazi?

MELBER: Right. OK.

MANDE: That`s inspiring.

MELBER: Right, OK. Number one, I get your point. Like, they`re not divided, they started out together. Number two, I would love to work out with you, because when I see how much effort you put into one joke.

KINDLER: Yes, yes.

MELBER: You know, the level of real labor that goes into it.

KINDLER: You should see when I get laughs.

MELBER: Joe, anyone else on your list this week?

MANDE: I mean we can talk about the hats that the GOP are selling, freedom hats, $35. I just have a lot of problems with, there, look at that, it`s garish, it`s jingoish, I have a lot of problems with the Trump just their graphic design in general. There`s a -- that`s -- what is that graphic? That is an eagle but decapitated eagle which couldn`t be more symbolic of what is going on.

KINDLER: It`s like the -- it`s like the -- it`s like they go are you prejudice and you like bad graphics? Join the alt-right.

MELBER: You know, why is it --

MANDE: Why is the eagle missing a head?

MELBER: I mean, asking the hard questions.

MANDE: That is a hard question.

KINDLER: And they`re selling like Republican hotcakes. I know that wasn`t going to be funny. I couldn`t stop it. Sometimes I can`t stop it, Ari.

MELBER: Sometimes I feel like you are -- you`re secretly trolling all of us. And you wrote for the Simpsons, right?

KINDLER: No, I didn`t write -- you know I didn`t write for the Simpsons.

MELBER: I like to just mess with you.

KINDLER: That was so funny, he knows I didn`t write for the Simpsons, and now he says on the air that as you know of anyone knows Andy Kindler, he know his jokes are not supposed to be funny.

MELBER: I said that once because -- you know at my household when we do that, it comes from a place of love.

KINDLER: Well, you know I love you, I`m DM`ing you and the whole thing.

MELBER: Well, you know what -- you know what they say, it`s going down the D.M. You know what that is?

KINDLER: Is that Vanilla Ice?

MANDE: It is Vanilla Ice.

MELBER: That`s the (INAUDIBLE). We got to make -- we got to make a break for commercial. Thank you both.

KINDLER: Hey, thank you.

MELBER: The Netflix special by Joe, you should check out. Andy Kindler is on tour. Up ahead, look at this, Jay-Z and Letterman getting down on Donald Trump and my interview with Actor Michael K. Williams on a push for criminal justice reform you all want to see. I want to ask him about President Obama`s shout out for his character on The Wire.

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MELBER: There`s always different types of art that politicians say teaches stories. Barack Obama famously shouted out The Wire, that HBO crime series which examined crime in Baltimore as well as education and policing. He said his favorite character was someone unexpected, a criminal named Omar Little.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What exactly do you do for a living, Mr. Little?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I rip and run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I rob drug dealers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And exactly how long has this been your occupation, Mr. Little?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don`t know exactly. I venture to say maybe, about, eight or nine years.

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MELBER: That Emmy nominated Actor who famously played Omar has a new important political and educational project on HBO and he`s here to talk about that as well as his big fan, Barack Obama.

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BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got to say Omar is great. I mean I don`t -- that`s not -- that`s not an endorsement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can make national news.

OBAMA: Exactly. That is not -- that is not an endorsement. He`s not my favorite person but he`s a fascinating character.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he`s a real-life story behind.

OBAMA: He`s this gay gangster who only robs drug dealers, and then gives back. You know, he`s sort of a Robin Hood.

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MELBER: What do you think about playing a character that made such an impression on Barack Obama?

MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS, ACTOR, THE WIRE: It was -- it was an eye-opening experience. Definitely, for me, the impact it had on me was on -- to say I was humbled was again an understatement. But I wasn`t living my best life when that happened.

MELBER: Really? What do you mean?

WILLIAMS: I was -- I was caught up in my own personal whirlwind. You know, The Wire was my breakout role. You know, I didn`t handle my -- I wasn`t handling my finances or stardom very well. You know, people calling me Omar was having an effect on my psyche. You know, I wasn`t using my platform, the way I believe I`m beginning to do today to help further my community. You know, when President Obama called me out, I basically had no knowledge of anything that was going on. I was one of those people that pretty much went to sleep when we elected him into office and I stopped caring.

MELBER: You were part of a voting block that you think at times took it for granted.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I wasn`t home, I was on the road working. When he said that, I was you know, it made me -- I said wait a minute, the President of the United States is saying he likes The Wire? And he respected the moral code, not the moral code but the compass that my character lives on? You know, pretty much Omar was -- if he said he was going to do something, he did it and didn`t hide who he was. I think that`s what attracted the President to the character, not his ways, not his lifestyle. It made me want to listen to what he actually had to say. You know, I expected him, I guess from past experiences. You know, once we got him in there, yes we did it but he`s going to just be another politician. But when he said that, I said wait a minute, I think he really cares. At least that`s what I believed and it made me want to pay attention to what he had to say and I started to get nuggets that began the seeds that began to be planted in me that led up to this documentary that was born today.

MELBER: That was -- that was sort of politicizing your journey as a storyteller and an actor. It`s called Raised In The System. Let`s take a look at that.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only people that was there was my stepmother. She was like my father, my mother and all that. And then I stay with her and then she got locked up on drug charges. Yes, the whole family just runs around in prison. I don`t know why. I want to be the first one to grow up and not go to prison.

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MELBER: What`s this about for you?

WILLIAMS: Wow. This is pretty much about what you were talking about earlier. We have this thing in this country called the school to prison pipeline. And I really hope that everyone register will let that land, a school to prison pipeline. We have a system in play right now that is we are creating professional prisoners and it`s wreaking havoc on my community and my young people who are at risk especially you know, this young man here, me. You know, because I consider myself an at-risk youth. You know, the arts saved my life. So when I look at a young man, a dark-skinned little boy who happens to have a scar on his face, who happens to be named Michael who`s telling me that he`s going through that amount of pain at that age, I can`t tell you the effect that had on me. It was -- it was internal. It was -- it was -- I can`t -- it was on a very cellular level that those stories affected me and that`s what that was.

MELBER: Michael, thank you and thank you for what you`re doing and sharing your stories this way.

The documentary Raised In The System premieres tonight on HBO. I got tell you something else. Mark Zuckerberg`s top deputy has been pretty silent about all these problems but she broke her silence today and it`s leading even more questions. I`m going to get into that next.

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MELBER: Also news tonight on a story we`ve been covering for you for quite a while, why Facebook is more than a technology story but a democracy problem. Sheryl Sandberg of course, has been at Mark Zuckerberg`s side this whole time. She is something like his most important deputy and she broke her silence with Savannah Guthrie out of "TODAY`S SHOW" this morning.

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SHERYL SANDBERG, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FACEBOOK: We had legal assurances from them that they deleted. What we didn`t do the next step of an audit and we`re trying to do that now.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS HOST: But that doesn`t mean you don`t tell the users hey this was stolen from you.

SANDBERG: Yes, you`re right and we should have done that -- we should have done that as well.

GUTHRIE: Because it feels like Facebook was trying to get away with it.

SANDBERG: I don`t think that`s true but of course, you`re right. And we should have done that. So let`s fast forward to now.

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MELBER: Let`s fast forward to now. Let`s skip the couple of years where Facebook knew that your information that it profits off of had been compromised by this digital firm linked to Trump under investigation in the United States and the U.K. Let`s fast forward. Watch that talking point because you may hear a lot more of that from Mark Zuckerberg when he breaks his silence and finally speaks to the United States Congress. The questions for him, the questions for him are significant. Apple`s Tim Cook, I want to show you also, is getting questions from my colleague, and Chris Hayes and Kara Swisher - that`s tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. HARDBALL starts now.

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