Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: April 23, 2018 Guest: Gloria Allred; Jessica Drake
KATY TUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
Ari, I have got four words for you, just four words. Plastic eating mutant enzyme.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I just want to know if you are wearing 3-D glasses right now.
TUR: I can`t see anything now though. Come on, it`s a Mrs. Robinson joke. The graduate. Ari, get with the program.
TUR: But there is four words because now there`s enzymes that eat plastic and potentially could save our oceans in the world.
MELBER: Well, I think you improved on the Mrs. Robinson reference.
TUR: I appreciate that.
TUR: Yes. That`s what they do. I`m a great writer.
MELBER: Do you want to make this any longer?
TUR: No, I want to go. I had a hard time talking all day. You need to take over.
MELBER: As they say in the business, I`m going to let you go.
TUR: Bye, Ari.
MELBER: Bye, Katy Tur.
All right. We are starting the show now.
Two stories topping the broadcast tonight. Number one, a new woman speaking out about Donald Trump allegedly offering her money for sex. And she is also backing a key claim from Stormy Daniels.
Jessica Drake is here live for her first cable news interview since breaking her silence. That`s on THE BEAT tonight.
The other story reports of a potential splintering of truly seismic proportions for Donald Trump. There are now two sources today close to the president, telling "Politico" that Donald Trump`s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen could indeed flip on Trump if he faces serious charges. The reports raveling the White House`s briefing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is he worry that Michael Cohen could flip over?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he said even and that there is isn`t anything there for about to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not tweet back then? Why open the opportunity for him and says flip it, suggests that he has something to hide?
SANDERS: No. I don`t think the president has anything to hide. He has been quite clear on that.
The President has been clear that he hasn`t done anything wrong. I think we have stated that about 1,000 times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What you see here are two things happening. First, the White House trying to play down any risk to the President by arguing he is innocent which is a pretty standard response. But then, there is a second thing, which is President Trump talking openly about whether Michael Cohen would flip which can sound itself like an admission of guilt. Why?
Well, think about it. You cannot flip on an innocent man because there`s no material to incriminate him. We have more on that very point later on in this show.
As for Cohen, well, the heat is only building, reports that a lawyer he may have worked to silence another woman, he is now cooperating with the feds as well.
Let`s kick it off with Shelby Holliday, a journalist with "the Wall Street Journal" and Professor Christina Greer, a fellow at NYU`s McSilver Institute.
Shelby, in the world of Trump land, which many of us have been educating ourselves on.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Living day in and day out?
MELBER: There`s truly no one who plays the multiple roles like Michael Cohen does. If you remember during the Iraqi sanctions, they would look at certain tubes that were dual use, so they could be used for peaceful or military purposes. Cohen is sort of like that, except he is quadruple use.
MELBER: And what seems to be under review here is did he do some lawful things as a lawyer? Did he do some hustling things as a fixer? And now, the feds will know, did he do some crimes?
HOLLIDAY: Right. What did he not do? I think is a better question. You know, he is involved in Trump`s real estate dealings, payments to women, he actually raised money for Donald Trump during the campaign even though he wasn`t - he is not in the White House and people say - people try to distance him from the actual campaign and the administration.
He is a very pivotal figure in Donald Trump`s orbit. So the question of what did he not do I think is more appropriate here. We do know that he worked with lawyers to pay off women, who had accusations against Donald Trump. Of course, Trump still denies those things. But the story is really bothering Trump. And we saw some tweets this weekend. Not only is he saying Cohen won`t flip, which raises questions about what Cohen could flip on. But he is attacking a reporter who wrote it. He is attacking a former aide who basically just went out and said Cohen`s a good guy, doesn`t deserve to go to jail for Donald Trump. He is just out there with his twitter sledge hammer going after anyone who is even talking about the story.
MELBER: Right. And you know, there`s a saying in federal court, some of them want to use you, some of them want to be used by you. And that seems to be an issue.
Sam Nunberg who seems to be used by President Trump by his own telling. Speaking in "the New York Times" and says the softer side of President genuinely has affection for Michael. But, President has taken Michael for granted whenever anyone complains to me, Nunberg, about Trump screwing them over, my reflexive response is that person has nothing to complain about compared to Michael which would seem to be the wrong person to quote "screw". I`m going to use their terminology if he is going to have all the secrets.
CHRISTINA GREER, FELLOW, NYU`s MCSILVER INSTITUTE: Right. Well, we now see that Cohen has been a minion for President for a very long time. This isn`t a new relationship. And so, you know, there are even stories says Trump bragging that Cohen, you know, has some of the best real estate in Trump Tower. That he paid, you know, top dollar for which in Donald Trump world is the biggest insult you can give someone. So basically you are a sucker, that has, you know, paid market price.
And so, now we see the President unraveling in real time, you know on Saturday and Sunday morning, tweeting about this idea of flipping. You cannot flip if you are innocent, right? But we do know that Cohen is used to sort of these low levels queen deals of hustling various people in different buildings and, you know, like small time potatoes.
This is now the federal government. And I think Trump has probably (ph) replaying some of the interactions they have over the years where he has belittled Cohen, where he is sent him off to do things that he didn`t want to have depends (ph) in.
But know, when the feds come after you, by the time they knock on your door, they already know what they want. They just want to know are you dumb enough to lie to them about what they already know. And I think that is what the President is freaking out about.
HOLLIDAY: Yes. And I think you also have to ask the question, what does Cohen have to gain by staying loyal to the President? He didn`t get a job in the White House. He didn`t get to be in that inner circle of the administration. I`m not sure what he has to gain by keeping his mouth close and possibly going to jail if he starts with crime.
GREER: Not jail, prison, right. Jail is where you go when we are sort of thinking about prison. He is looking down possible, not just, you know, two years, three years. He is looking at multiple prison sentences plural, if all these accusations are true. So he could be looking at some spending the rest of his life in prison. At least the rest of his adult life, you know, where he would be with the kids and possible grandkids.
That`s a much larger conversation that you start to have with your wife and your family, like this man has essentially done nothing for you, besides, you now, there`s some money there, there`s not that much money, right? Because we do know that their stories that Cohen had to take out a second mortgage on his own home to pay for the $130,000 that he allegedly gave Stormy Daniels on Trump letter head. They using Trump postage you know, sort of - and a Trump email address. So he has been sloppy --
MELBER: But no Trump steak?
HOLLIDAY: Or vodka.
MELBER: Or Trump vodka that we know of.
GREER: Or champagne. So, we do know that this man has put himself on the line for Trump, and as Shelby said, not really gotten much in return. So at what point does this inner circle say, cut your losses. This man doesn`t care about you.
MELBER: He got one thing in return which is a federal investigation. And he is Trump lawyer which according to the feds, very few other clients, which again, raised the question of why is he in trouble with these things he was doing for Trump?
I want you both to stay with me.
As promised, I`m going to turn to the other story I mentioned, adult film star Jessica Drake now breaking her silence. She is going to join me live in just a moment.
Here is the context. You will recall, one of the big questions in the entire Stormy Daniels case whether her ability to speak out without punishment may embolden others. There are new signs that is happening. Consider Ms. Daniels releasing that sketch of a man she says threatened her to stay silent about Trump which the White House has denied.
Well, Jessica Drake now says she did indeed hear Daniels make the same allegations at that time. Ms. Drake also says that Trump offered her $10,000 for sex, allegedly during this 2006 Lake Tahoe event. Now Jessica Drake was one of the women who chose to speak out when it counted politically before Americans cast their ballot right in the middle of the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA DRAKE, SAYS TRUMP TRIED TO PAY HER $10,000 FOR SEX: When we entered the room, he grabbed each of us tightly in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission. Donald then asked me, what do you want? How much? After that, I received another call from either Donald or a male calling on his behalf offering me $10,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Within a week, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who we have been discussing had finalized that NDA to keep Stormy Daniels quiet, it also mentioned Jessica Drake has someone confided in by Stormy Daniels under one of those many pseudonyms.
Ms. Drake joins me now, accompanied by her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
Thank you both for being here.
DRAKE: Thank you for having us. Thank you.
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Sure, Ari.
MELBER: Ms. Drake, why are you speaking out now? And what do you want people to know?
DRAKE: I`m speaking out now not only to support Stormy, but because women immediate to be heard and believed and also my name coming out on Stormy`s NDA. I needed to speak out. The press has been asking repeatedly and it`s time.
MELBER: When did you learn about your inclusion in that NDA or was it along with the rest of it when it leaked.
DRAKE: It was along with the rest of everyone when it leaked and when they put my legal name with my performer name. Media actually showed up at my private home.
MELBER: And on this point about who said what when, you have said publicly that Ms. Daniels is telling the truth, of course as you know, the President has called her by implication and you and others and you refer to basically all the women who have made these kind of accusations as liars. What is it specifically that you know that backs up her story or her voracity?
DRAKE: Well, I was actually present in the room where we were first with Donald in the hotel room in Lake Tahoe. And I met him early that morning and sort of was able to watch the entire situation unfold. Shortly after that, I was I was told what had happened that night and over the years have gotten more details about it as well.
MELBER: And you said point blank, he offered you money for sex?
DRAKE: The offer was made. And I`m -- I took it as if it was for sex because the calls that came prior to that were Mr. Trump wants you to join him in his hotel room and then when I was speaking to Mr. Trump himself on the phone, he asked me come on, come on up, what do you want? How much? And then the numbers started to come.
MELBER: And I have to ask this, although, I just mean it in the sake of clarity.
MELBER: Do you know any reason why he would think or there would be evidence or indications that this was an interaction where money would exchange hands? Was there something that he was led to believe or was this his idea that he was introducing into the conversation.
DRAKE: It was nothing that I had led him to believe, but some people simply by my profession, people are under the mistaken impression that we are always available for hire.
MELBER: Gloria, what do you see as the key legal issues here?
ALLRED: Well, first of all, she did not even know, Jessica did not know that she was listed by Stormy Daniels as a person in whom Stormy had confided information about Stormy`s relationship with Mr. Trump. She didn`t know that until after -- until it became public.
Stormy never told her, Michael Cohen never told her, and the likelihood is that neither of them wanted Jessica, who is listed by her legal name on that document to know that there was a settlement. And that the settlement was confidential.
That`s not unusual. I have done many, many confidential settlements and the person who wants to know who else was told, in other words the person paying the settlement is trying to assess the risk about how many people know what, for example, Stormy is alleging and then they assess the risk that those people in whom she had previously confided might disclose or might not disclose. In this case, stormy knew because she had a close relationship and friendship with Jessica. Jessica is not the kind of person who would have disclosed that confidence.
MELBER: And Jessica, have you caught any of the news coverage of James Comey or the memos recently?
DRAKE: I have.
MELBER: So you may be familiar that he relates that when Donald Trump repeatedly brought up the allegation unverified, regarding the potential contact with prostitutes in Moscow, one of the things he said to the then FBI director, according to James Comey, one of the ways that he sought to rebut that was to say that he, Donald Trump was not a person who would ever choose to, need to, want to pay for sex.
In your experience with him, based on what you are now speaking out publicly, does that sound right to you or conflict with your experience?
DRAKE: Well, first, I would like to just say that I don`t think it`s paying for sex in this equation that was so offensive to me. What was so offensive to me was when I initially met him and was in his hotel room, he grabbed me and kissed me without my consent. And so I am an adult performer. I also identify as a sex worker. What was not OK with me was that the physical contact that he made with me that night in his hotel room was without my consent. And when he did start asking me to spends additional time with me that night, he wasn`t really taking no for an answer and he was upping the ante every single time I turned him down.
MELBER: Understood. And I know from watching the time you initially spoke out, which is we know was before the election, you were clear on that point as an important one and Gloria whom I believe has spoken to that and represented people in that capacity. I ask about the Comey party because it is very significant because it is huge debate between James Comey. And this is the President insisted that he would never, as a categorical matter, seek to pay for sex. And then in your story, it sounds like that is what at least what he proposed.
DRAKE: It felt that way.
ALLRED: And I want to emphasize as Jessica said, it felt that way to her, but in fairness to the President, and I do like to be fair to him, even though I oppose many of his policies. Jessica is not saying that he said specifically, this $10,000, if in fact that`s what he said, is for sex. But apparently, that was for her to come up to his hotel room. So I guess everybody can draw their own conclusions from that, it certainly does look suspicious.
MELBER: Right. And I have got to say, I appreciate the nuance that you are both bringing to the factual part of this as well as the judgment part.
Jessica, I would be remiss if I didn`t play for you what the President said publicly in the very period of time when several women as you were emphasizing a moment ago were coming forward and alleging something different than what stormy Daniels alleged which was what they viewed as misconduct by the President. And this was his response as a candidate at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: With the benefit of hindsight, we have seen the President did not make good on that part of the promise to sue. Your response based on everything that`s come out that we have learned as of now?
DRAKE: It`s infuriating. It`s infuriating for me to be called a liar. It`s infuriating for Stormy to be called a liar. That`s essentially the reason that I`m choosing to speak out now. I feel like I have held my silence for so long and I have seen and heard so much. It`s just that I have had it. I have really had it.
ALLRED: And Ari, if as in when the President Trump decides to tweet or otherwise speak about Jessica in a way that is defamatory, he should be reminded that when he defamed my former climb Summer Zervos, we filed a defamation lawsuit against him. And we were successful in that. The court allowed us to proceed with that lawsuit over his objection where he thought that the President somehow should be immune. But the court found that no man is above the law, including the President of the United States.
MELBER: Let me make sure that I understand --
ALLRED: At your peril --
MELBER: Let me understand, are you saying tonight that what the President says and does will determine whether or not you file suit?
ALLRED: That`s absolutely correct.
MELBER: Go ahead, Jessica, sorry.
DRAKE: Something else that he said that was very upsetting was in reference to me during a radio interview. He said of course she has been grabbed before, she is a porn star. And that perpetuates rape culture and sexual assault apologists and it infuriates me as well.
ALLRED: Even an adult film star has a right to say no to unwanted sexual advances. She didn`t like that kiss on the lips when she entered his hotel room. She had a right to object to it. And no woman, no matter her occupation is required to say yes to his sexual advances.
DRAKE: And it shouldn`t affect people`s believing in us either. And that`s why I`m speaking out.
MELBER: Jessica Drake and Gloria Allred, there are many aspects to this story. You have both spoken quite eloquently today about what you want people and our viewers to focus on.
So I really appreciate your time tonight.
DRAKE: Thank you.
ALLRED: Thank you, Ari.
DRAKE: Thank you for having us.
I want to turn back to my panel, Shelby Holliday and Christina Greer. Your thoughts on what we heard?
GREER: I think it`s a really important distinction. I`m really glad that Jessica Drake has spoken out. Let`s be clear, the vast majority of women who have said that someone has either sexually assaulted them or sexually harassed them, the vast majority are not lying, especially someone like Jessica Drake, who is in occupation where in this country we see it as less than savory, if you will.
And so, what does she have to gain? It is not about money. This is about people coming to her home, harassing her, her family. She would not normally do this if it were not true. I fundamentally believe her.
MELBER: Your analysis is you find that credible. That`s a debate.
GREER: Yes, sure. But I do find that the women that speak out against incredibly powerful men, especially the President of the United States, what they have to lose is so much greater than what Donald Trump have to lose, the vast majority don`t do that. So I think she is incredibly brave.
Donald Trump has always promised to sue people. We do know that he said he was going to sue people, nine times out of ten he doesn`t. So this is a perfect story for him, because this is the Me Too movement coming together with possible real allegations of what he has done and helping women who are in various occupations across the country who may not have always seen themselves as aligned or sisters, saying, actually, you know, you may be a journalist, and you may Mr. A lawyer, and you may be a sex worker, however, no one should actually have to deal men groping or unwanted touches, et cetera.
MELBER: The James Comey side of it?
HOLLIDAY: That was really interesting. You know, we have a few women now saying that Donald Trump offered them money in connection with sex, maybe it was before sex. But that`s something that Donald Trump has denied. We also have Donald Trump summoning women to his hotel rooms. And that was a claim that appears in the dossier. Unsubstantiated, as you said.
But it is an important claim. And we are starting to see more and more evidence that Donald Trump has had these patterns of behavior in the past. So it does raising doubt on his story with respect to James Comey.
I think the underlying thing that this interview shows us is Donald Trump`s words matter. They matter because women are coming out over what he had said and how he has slammed them in the past. They matter legally when Michael Cohen goes to court and Donald Trump said you didn`t know anything about the payment. You can`t have attorney client privilege if you don`t know about the payment.
Everything Donald Trump says, tweets, put out there, makes an official statement. It is coming back to haunt him when it comes to these women.
MELBER: Right. And it raises the theory at least that some of what Donald Trump says and does is either not fully thought out or against his own interests. See, as Michael Cohen followed by the FBI raid. See insisting that James Comey quote "I would never do that." That is what we called (INAUDIBLE).
You could have said I didn`t do it that night. He says I would never do that kind of thing. But we just heard from a woman who has photographic proof and corroborating witnesses that she had this interaction. And she says it is something he would go which adds to the record.
Shelby Holliday and Christina Greer, thank you for being here.
HOLLIDAY: Thank you.
GREER: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: We are going to fit in a break. But we have a lot more tonight. Donald Trump saying he has done nothing wrong. So why would it matter if Michael Cohen flips. Richard Painter is here.
And later, Donald Trump easing back on the very favors that he was dragged into doing against the Russian oligarch who is a big figure in the Russia probe with ties to Putin and Manafort.
And I have a special interview, a rising star in the Democratic Party, you see him there, Congressman Joe Kennedy. We are going to ask him where the Democrats are headed in the age of Trump.
I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: A new reversal on Russia policy from Donald Trump.
Now, you recall, he may have been dragged to it, but Donald Trump made a big deal about imposing those sanctions on Russia.
Look at the headline there. He got the headline he wanted. New sanctions on Putin Cronies.
Sometimes the devil is in the details. And sometimes the devil is in the delay. Because while Donald Trump who sometimes the chief content officer of his administration may have done what he needed to do to get the headlines, I can report for you tonight because we are staying on the story, Trump reversing course.
His treasury department now announcing it`s just going to start easing some of those very sanctions including on one of the most important people you see there on your screen. Oleg Darapasta, $6 billion. Oligarch very close to Putin. And it might be familiar because he is of course wrapped up in the Russian probe.
Paul Manafort had problems because he owed Darapasta millions of dollars from very controversial work for Putin-back ally in Ukraine. And that lead to "the Washington Post" reporting on the offer.
During the campaign of secret briefings back to Oleg. Now the focus here is so intense that he offered to cooperate with Congress in the Russia probe but he wanted immunity.
As Michael Cohen, why people need immunity?
Now, this is the person tonight that is now getting a new pass in those much hype sanctions to the Trump administration which would seem to undercut this recent claim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There`s been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump. But Russia will tell you nobody`s been tougher than Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m now joined by a diplomatic expert and veteran of the state department and former ambassador to NATO, Nick Burns as well as Bill Kristol editor-at-large for "the Weekly Standard."
Bill, do they not care about getting caught because they already have their headlines?
BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER/EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: It is hard to know the details. There might be good reasons for waving or delaying sanctions for one particular company. The way that the treasury department decided to explain it today.
But let`s just step back. It was a week ago, I think I`m right, if time flies in Trump world, you know, but -- in Trump`s America. A week ago, Nikki Haley went on TV Sunday and said they were about to announce major sanctions. There have been talking points sent out to Trump surrogates the day before laying out the sanctions. She was contradicted by Larry Kudlow, the President`s economic adviser that night, I think, maybe or the next morning and that she famously now responded that Kudlow claims she was confused. And she said I don`t get confused.
So that was the President overruling I think his entire national security team in trying to move ahead with sanctions there. I think that shows where the President`s heart is and to the degree he can sort of avoid or overcome the consensus view of his administration. And frankly of allied government as well that we do need to (INAUDIBLE) and sanctioning Putin`s cronies. He seems to be doing his best to avoid doing so.
MELBER: Well, is it where his heart is or is it where his ego is or is Mueller is investigating or where his Deutsch bank loans are?
KRISTOL: Fair enough. Fair enough.
MELBER: Nick, take a look at Donald Trump joking about the person Bill was just mentioning, Nikki Haley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Does everybody like Nikki? Because if you don`t -- otherwise she can easily be replaced, right? No, we don`t do that, I promise, we won`t do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Educate us, sir. We know when we are told diplomacy is partly about relationships. It`s about how you deal with people. But there`s also underlying values. What does this reveal to you.
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, I think Nikki Haley has been an effective ambassador for Donald Trump at the United Nations. But she has been consistently very strong in her criticism of Russia from the start of the administration. The President famously is not.
For the President to assert that he has been the toughest person on Russia, it`s just preposterous. He didn`t even respond to the hacking of our election. He hasn`t formed a national commission to help our 50 states defend this autumn`s election and the 2020 election. He was six to eight months late in implementing the sanctions nominated too by the Senate. He has been very weak on Russia. He hasn`t stood up to Putin on this big interference in our elections. Nikki Haley has. And at least she`s been talking that way.
MELBER: Does it concern you to give Derapasta a pass like this?
BURNS: I don`t know the details on this. I`m not sure that is the most important thing, as Bill said. There may be reasons why treasury has taken this action. The larger point here is that the President has not been tough minded in dealing with the country that`s arguably the strongest adversary we have in the world. And which gets to the heart of our Democratic process. I think Nikki Haley has, that`s why you see I think the President being somewhat unkind to her over the last couple of months - - couple of weeks.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Bill, here was James Comey describing what can only be described as a quailing attitude towards Putin even in private by the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: He won`t criticize Vladimir Putin, even in private, even in a meeting with three people in the Oval Office. He is arguing that he gave a good answer when he said, essentially, we are the same kind of killers that Putin`s thugs are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, I think Comey`s right to be stunned by that, as an FBI Director and part of the intelligence community. But remember also, there`s so many things, if he gets them all right and you`re lucky you`re going to keep track of them, Ari, and so are your colleagues. But wasn`t it the day after he fired Comey that he said -- I don`t think this has been contradicted really -- he said to Russians in the Oval Office that there`s a load off my back or something like that, I feel a sense of relief?
MELBER: He made it sound like firing James Comey was a really good massage and it relieved all this pressure.
KRISTOL: For -- on Russia, though, in particular, right? And then he says to Lester Holt, maybe again a day or two later, you know, of course, it was the Russia thing that he just kept pursuing, and that he was -- he shouldn`t have or something like that. So, you know, it always get -- it seems to come back to Russia an awful lot, and I`ve got to think that the attempts -- the threats to Rosenstein and Mueller, that he`s now -- there`s so many other things in play I suppose, that you can say Russia is only one of several threats to Donald Trump but it`s always been -- his incredible unwillingness to take on Putin has always been just for me a flashing red light or a flashing yellow light at least as part of his campaign and his presidency.
MELBER: Flashing lights with Bill Kristol, a lot -- a lot of clues. Ambassador and Bill Kristol, thank you both.
BURNS: Thank you.
MELBER: Up next, Michael Cohen has got his own client rattled and if Trump says he`s done nothing wrong, why are they talking about flipping? The one and only Richard Painter is here next. Later, reaction to our interview with the adult film star Jessica Drake who just broke her silence on cable news for the very first time on THE BEAT. What happens next? And my sit down with a rising Democratic star Congressman Joe Kennedy, from nepotism in the West Wing to working out a long side Paul Ryan, that`s up next on THE BEAT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The President has been clear that he hasn`t done anything wrong and I think we`ve say to that about a thousand times. Beyond that, I don`t have anything add beyond the President`s tweet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Donald Trump and his allies keep talking about whether the long- time President`s lawyer and Trump Organization Executive Michael Cohen will flip on Trump. Now, as I`ve pointed out, but it is really worth underscoring because we live in weird times, this whole conversation in public is very odd because innocent people don`t have anything to worry about if there is flipping because, without solid evidence, you can`t incriminate them, so there`s no flip. Now keep that in mind as you hear Trump allies debate the risk that Cohen might pose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think Michael Cohen flips?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I think it`s very hard not to flip when they`re threatening you with long, long imprisonment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is the President though talking about the notion of Michael Cohen flipping if the President didn`t do anything wrong?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He`s defending someone whom he`s worked with and known for dozen-plus years, Dana, who he thinks is being treated unfairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Let`s turn to Richard Painter, a former White House Ethics Chief under George W. Bush. What -- let`s start like in law school the way you - - the way you teach, what does it mean to flip?
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER ETHICS LAWYER, WHITE HOUSE: Well, if you are guilty of a crime and the prosecutors have nabbed you, you would agree to cooperate with the prosecutors in return for a more lenient sentence, more lenient treatment, perhaps dropping of charges and you flip on the people who you have been collaborating with, your co-conspirators. This is the way organized crime is pursued and other criminal ventures all the time. But of course, there`s nobody who would worry about someone on them unless they, of course, have done something wrong and have participated in the conspiracy.
MELBER: Right. You just used the key term co-conspirator, it`s harder to flip on mother Theresa Dalai Lama.
PAINTER: Well, or harder to flip on the vast majority of people in public service. I think the vast majority of our members of Congress.
MELBER: Yes, you`ve also naming too high. Yes, most people aren`t felons, stay on point, sir.
PAINTER: Yes, most of them are not felons. I have my disagreements but they`re not felons. We have not had to worry about someone flipping on the President of the United States since until I was you know, 12 years old when Nixon had some difficulties in that area.
MELBER: Why does Donald Trump seem to be acting in ways that I think you and I knon and many of our viewers can into it, are against the best legal advice. He has added lawyers to the team, some of whom have federal litigation and federal prosecutorial experience and you and I know they are not telling him to talk on a daily basis about who can flip on him?
PAINTER: Well, of course, he is not handling this the right way. He hasn`t since day one when he talked about the Russia investigation all the time and then fired James Comey and went on T.V. in front of the Russian Ambassador talking about why he fired James Comey and then tweeted about it and sent it out, I know how many dozens of tweets about James Comey since he did that. And then he`s acting like he must have tried to fire Robert Mueller, he`s acting like he`s guilty. Now, that could be because he`s guilty or because he`s psychotic, it`s one of the two, but it`s not a very good situation to have the President of the United States behaving this way.
MELBER: I don`t want to invite you into speculation, but I will share some of the reporting people around Michael Cohen. Some of whom I`ve talked to myself and my reporting. NBC has one individual who worked closely with him for a decade says, Michael might believe he won`t flip on the President, but he will. Do you see that as a possibility?
PAINTER: I don`t know what`s going on with Michael Cohen, but from what I`m hearing in the news reports, the very little of what he`s been doing involves the practice of law and paying off porn stars may be only the beginning of it. And if he`s tied up in money laundering or other criminal activity on behalf of clients, he`s in very, very serious trouble. We have yet to see what the government has on Michael Cohen, but there`s no way that he would just cover up for Donald Trump and take the prison sentence. Donald Trump is infamous for throwing everyone else under the bus so he`s the last man standing. I don`t think anyone intelligent is going to fall for that. And if I were Michael Cohen, and I were guilty of whatever he`s being accused of, I would be cooperating with Robert Mueller right now.
MELBER: And briefly, you know, one of the biggest legal moves Trump made recently was giving an obstruction pardon out to a White House aide. I mean, that`s like -- and it hasn`t gotten that much attention. I`m not even sure why we covered it extensively on THE BEAT. Your view of that pardon of Scooter Libby who you were of course in the White House?
PAINTER: Well, Scooter Libby, he lied to a grand jury but that was over 10 years ago and that was resolved with President Bush giving him a commutation of a prison sentence, but not a full pardon. The only reason for Donald Trump to dig that up and give a full pardon is to send a message is that if you perjure yourself in front of a grand jury to cover up for political superiors, you`re going to get a pardon. And people want to try that --
MELBER: You think it was -- you think it was effectively a corrupt intent?
PAINTER: Well, the objective was to get people to understand that perjury is not that bad if perjure yourself to cover up for President. But as I say, people do that, do so at their own risk, because Donald Trump would be out of there before he could pardon anybody. I wouldn`t take that risk. I wouldn`t fool around with Robert Mueller.
MELBER: Richard Painter, we always learn from you. I`m waiting for the day when you start one of those virtual courses, Richard Painter on hologram or something where we could sign up for class with you every day, sir. Thank for your time tonight.
PAINTER: Well, thank you.
MELBER: Up next, one of the first person to ever interview Stormy Daniels on the record back in 2011 is here. My special guest`s live reaction of the adult film star who just told me in this cable news exclusive on THE BEAT, that she is corroborating parts of Stormy`s story. Important enough that we`re going to do it very soon when we`re back in 90 seconds.
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JESSICA DRAKE, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: What was so offensive to me was when I initially met him and was in his hotel room. He grabbed me and kissed me without my consent. And so, I`m an adult performer, I also identify as a sex worker. What was not OK with me was that the physical contact that he made with me that night in his hotel room was without my consent and when he did start asking me to spend additional time with him that night, he wasn`t really taking no for an answer and he was upping the ante every single time I turned him down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Jessica Drake there just moments ago. I`m joined by Jordi Lippe-McGraw, who as I`ve mentioned interviewed Stormy Daniels for In Touch Magazine, one of the articles that started it all, "My affair with Donald." When you hear Jessica Drake speak, A, does she read credible to you and B, from your reporting, do you have reason to believe that as stated she was there with Stormy?
JORDI LIPPE-MCGRAW, REPORTER, IN TOUCH MAGAZINE: I mean, there`s no reason not to believe her. Stormy has come out when I spoke to her and she said that she told multiple people about this affair. She told her assistant, even her ex-husband knew about this, her manager knew about this, so why wouldn`t she tell Jessica Drake. It makes sense. And also she told me back in 2011 that Donald never told her to stay quiet about the affair back then, only now when he was running for president and when he is the president does he want her to be quiet and all these women to be quiet.
MELBER: Miss Drake also spoke to me about this other piece that I have mentioned relates to the Comey issues which is potential offer for money. Take a look.
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MELBER: You say point blank he offered you money for sex?
BLAKE: The offer was made -- I took it as if it was for sex. I was speaking to Mr. Trump himself on the phone, he asked me, come on, come on up, what do you want? How much? And then the numbers started to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is the opposite of what James Comey says Donald Trump told him. I know these are weird sentences coming out of my mouth, but there.
MCGRAW: Well, I mean, Stormy has also said that Donald Trump also promised her some things, maybe not in the exact exchange of the way that that might transpire, but she was offered a condo in Florida, she was hoping to get on the apprentice, so it does seem to fall in line with the way that Donald Trump did function. Maybe it wasn`t tit for tat but it certainly seems like he was trying to lure these women with promises of gifts.
MELBER: Leading question but we ask those sometimes. Do you think people have underestimated these individuals who are speaking out?
MCGRAW: Absolutely, I think leave it to you know, the porn stars to bring the President down if no one else could. They`re willing to speak out, they have nothing to lose at this point and someone`s coming out and calling them incredible and are not credible and they want to you know, they want -- they`re telling the truth and they want that to be known and Stormy said that from day one and I believed her from day one.
MELBER: You believed her and you reported on that and you always knew this article would have international and geopolitical implications?
MCGRAW: Yes. You know, who would have known an interview seven -- six years ago would be big news now.
MELBER: Jordi Lippe-McGraw, we talked to you before, I appreciate you coming back on THE BEAT.
MCGRAW: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Coming up, Donald Trump has hired his share of family members in the administration. Well, I just talked to Congressman Joe Kennedy in Washington and I pressed some of those same questions on him. We`ll show you his response airing for the first time on THE BEAT, next.
MELBER: Breaking news. President George Bush Sr. was admitted to the hospital but is recovering, this according to a statement from his office that came out at 6:46 p.m. Eastern. He is responding to treatments after an infection that spread to his blood and "appears to be recovering." We just learned that and wanted to share with you. We`ll keep you updated on that story. Now I want to turn to an important discussion I mentioned. How are Democrats fighting Trump? Well, that was a big test facing Congressman Joe Kennedy who gave the response to the State of the Union and he got some rave reviews. I just caught up with the Congressman in Washington. Take a look.
MELBER: Jared Kushner has been under scrutiny in the Mueller probe. His security clearance has been downgraded. It`s clear he misled on his forms about foreign meetings.
REP. JOE KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Repeatedly.
MELBER: Do you -- do you think President Trump made a mistake in giving these kinds of important roles to family members?
KENNEDY: I think so yes, I do. And I`m cognizant of the fact that some of my members of my family, when they were in office had some family members in key roles as well. What I think we acknowledged then and certainly as time has gone on that the issue isn`t so much the family member aspect of it, although I think that`s a critically important piece. But we`d be having a very different conversation if Mr. Kushner had, in fact, disclosed all of the meetings that he had with Russian officials if he had filled out those forms appropriately, if he had fully divested himself from interest with foreign governments, which clearly he hasn`t. Just because you`re a family member doesn`t necessarily mean there is a conflict of interest. What this administration seems to be unwilling to do, the Trump family seems to be unwilling to do is divest themselves from the interest of the American public and governance and their own financial assets. And that`s what I think should lead all of us to have a problem.
MELBER: Do you think that in today`s world it would make sense for, if you could, a president to appoint their brother to the cabinet or you think that`s something we`ve sort of learned through history is not as good an idea now as it may have once been?
KENNEDY: I think it was great idea when my great uncle was president. I have no issue with that, none. The main issue that I have again, with what is going on with Mr. Kushner, with Ivanka Trump and with another kind of ancillary issues with the Trump family is their unwillingness to actually just clarify the circumstances and put up some very clear walls between themselves and their governance and the Trump assets.
MELBER: You`re part of a family that America is fascinated by. How do you take that in your daily role?
KENNEDY: I am very proud of the contribution my family members have made to the country but you can`t walk around with that every day. The lesson that I take from my family, one that doesn`t get covered so much is most folks focus on the Kennedy part, I focus on the family part. We`re a family too, right, it`s fathers and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and it`s -- what you learn more than anything else is no matter the times that we have the family and the struggles that we had, you`ve got the family there for you.
MELBER: We also talked about how tough it is to do a response to a State of the Union and how Kennedy became a me.
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MELBER: Democrats gave you a big job in responding to the State of the Union. You broke with one Republican`s approach. You did not partake of any water during your speech.
KENNEDY: Went lighter on the water and probably heavier on to the chap stick so that was --- the good news, Ari, is that I will not have to bur chap stick again. I`ve gotten tubes of chap sticks from every corner of this country.
MELBER: Was that a conscious choice though or was it something you and Marco Rubio have ever discussed because he went in a different direction?
KENNEDY: So I actually met Senator Rubio for the first time last night, and we shared a joke about it. So he was great sport. Look, at a certain point, all you can do is laugh about it. So I will -- I have made a conscious decision to go light on the chap stick ever since so thank you, America.
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MELBER: We also got Congressman Kennedy to do a lightning round on THE BEAT.
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MELBER: What`s on your play list right now?
KENNEDY: Oh, Pandora.
MELBER: Based on what kind of music?
KENNEDY: It depends on the mood. Normally early morning because I`ve got two kids, something -- somewhat relaxing. I`ve got a workout mix that starts off with -- actually, it starts off with Kanye West. So here you go, a little bit of everything.
MELBER: Your workout mix is Kanye, is that old Kanye or new Kanye?
KENNEDY: It`s old Kanye. It`s old Kanye.
MELBER: You mention working out. My understanding is some mornings you work out with Paul Ryan?
KENNEDY: Next to Paul Ryan.
MELBER: Near Paul Ryan?
KENNEDY: Near Paul Ryan?
MELBER: What have you learned working out near Paul Ryan?
KENNEDY: Paul Ryan is in pretty good shape. Paul Ryan is in pretty good shape.
MELBER: I`ve heard that.
MELBER: Would you say that`s one thing that he inspires you on?
KENNEDY: He is in better shape than I am. I will grudgingly admit. I will put it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A little bipartisanship in the gym, Paul Ryan in great shape. We`ll be right back.
MELBER: Breaking news tonight. George Bush Sr.`s office has put out a statement that he was admitted to the hospital, that he has an infection that spread to basically his blood, but I`m going to read to you from the statement. He`s "responding to treatments and appears to be recovering." The office saying they will issue additional updates as events warrant a major development for George H.W. Bush that we are monitoring. That does it for our show, though. We turn now to "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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