Mueller raided Manafort home for evidence. TRANSCRIPT: 04/24/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Seth Waxman, Charlamagne Tha God

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: April 24, 2018 Guest: Seth Waxman, Charlamagne Tha God

KATY TUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you very much.

Tonight our top story is a big one. What Bob Mueller was looking for when he had the feds raid Paul Manafort`s home?

Bob Mueller`s office rarely leaks. But tonight we do have new information about e his hunting evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, thanks to a newly released court filing. It shows that when Mueller sent agents to raid Paul Manafort`s home, they were seeking evidence on the infamous 2016 Trump tower meeting with those Russians linked to the Kremlin. This dragnet could ensnare to Trump family members, Donald Trump Junior and Jared Kushner along with, of course, some of the other Russians who were there.

Now, this matters because Manafort`s lawyers were arguing that Mueller had basically dropped the collusion probe on him and instead was basically going after unrelated activities that pre-date 2016.

Well, we have Mueller`s answer to that whole attack tonight in two parts. First, his answer is a crime is a crime and they are not backing down on pre-2016 crimes. But second, Mueller`s new filing makes clear the FBI raid was also partly about probe and collusion. Something that is sure to get Donald Trump Junior notice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Did you tell your father anything about this?

DONALD TRUMP TR., TRUMP`S SON: No. It was such a nothing, it was nothing to tell.

HANNITY: As far as you know, as far as this incidents concern, this is all of it?

TRUMP JR.: This is everything. This is everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: If that`s true, Mueller is clearly not taking their word for it. He has the feds rummaging through people`s office and bedrooms to make sure. And we are learning this raid included looking for evidence on a Russian businessman linked to Trump`s work in Moscow whose son set up the infamous Trump tower meeting.

Now that is just what is clear for the public. There is other material in here. This is newly released that is so sensitive you can see it`s all redacted. There is five pages that looks like this. That`s the other stuff. We don`t even know why it is redacted. I can`t tell you. What we are getting though in this filing is a rare look because of Paul Manafort challenging the legality of the search.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before dawn at the home of one time Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort a dozen armed FBI agents reportedly waking him up, knocking on his bedroom door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without warning, part of surprise is a tool for law enforcement there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert Mueller`s investigation seems to be escalating now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Mueller`s team, of course, is filing all this to show why the search they say was valid. Manafort`s activities are in the spotlight. And it`s not just federal records. It`s also access to a storage unit obtained where he got consent from an employee of Manafort related business. That apparently allegedly without Manafort`s knowledge, which raises questions, also evidence about his state of mind about the crimes under investigation.

And you see this signature there, Andrew Weismann? That`s is Mueller`s deputy chief. He is a feared prosecutor and he is known for flipping even the most difficult witnesses.

Now, this might be interesting to Donald Trump and his allies because if you watch THE BEAT, you know, his own lawyer claims that the White House top lawyer Ty Cobb reached some kind of agreement to get Mueller to keep Weismann away from Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY GOLDBERG, TRUMP LAWYER: Mueller has agreed not to have Weismann involved in any investigation of the President. That`s a little known secret.

MELBER: Who told you that?

GOLDBERG: Somebody on the President staff.

MELBER: That was a White House lawyer or staffer?

GOLDBERG: Staffer.

MELBER: it Ty Cobb?

GOLDBERG: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by Watergate special prosecutor Nick Ackerman, former federal prosecutor Paul Butler. Natasha Bertrand is staff writer from "the Atlantic" and my exclusive guest tonight, the former federal prosecutor and U.S. attorney Damon Martinez, one of the 46 federal prosecutors who was fired by Trump. He is running for Congress. We are going to talk about that in moment.

Nick, your reaction?

NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: My reaction is, this is what I would expect. I would hope that that is what he is doing. That he should be looking at the Russian conspiracy and trying to find out exactly what happened at the June 9th meeting. I would expect that what he would be looking at are the computers. That`s part of the documents that were gathered here. And he would be looking at anything that was referring to any contacts with Russians to what happened at the June 9th meeting. There are all kind of things that can be found particularly on a computer.

MELBER: But Paul, that June 9th meeting doesn`t have anything to do with Paul Manafort`s money laundering violations and all of that. So what does that tell you?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it has to do with Paul Manafort having a bird`s eye view to what could possibly be conspiracy to defraud the United States. It doesn`t get much juicier than this. We get this shady Russian operative telling Trump junior, I got some dirt on Hillary. Trump Jr. says I would love it. And eight people at this meeting. Mueller would love a really good high place snitch. The big question I have about Manafort is why hasn`t he pled guilty? He is charged with money laundering, failure to register. Those are really easy crimes to prove. And again, I`m sure Mueller would love to flip him.

MELBER: Natasha, the wider angle here is that basically when you look at the political side of this, a lot of the early critics of Mueller said, well, this is everything but collusion. What does it say to you that the very things that Manafort`s lawyers are doing are getting in some cases redacted but in another cases, quite clear statements that they are still looking at collusion evidence?

NATASHA BERTRAND, REPORTER, THE ATLANTIC: Right. Another big critique of Mueller`s critics was that they did this pre-dawn. They have no knock warrant. Those are very aggressive tactic. And of course, now Mueller`s office is pushing back against that saying that the warrant that they actually obtained to search Paul Manafort`s residence was not a no knock warrant.

So this is something that we now know that the investigation into collusion has always been running on a parallel track to all of the other investigations surrounding Trump and his aides. This has never taken a back burner in terms of what Mueller has been charged with investigating.

And I will also note this is really interesting to me because it indicates that Mueller`s team had reason to believe that there were documents memorializing this meeting at Trump tower even though Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. have all said that it was really a nothing burger, That nothing came out of it. That they were barely even paying attention. And they left after a number of minutes.

The FBI thought that perhaps it was important enough that Paul Manafort kept notes on it, have documents relating to it. And of course, we know that he did in fact take notes during that meeting. And those notes made cryptic references to Cyprus, to the RNC, $233 million. We still don`t really exactly what those notes are in reference to. But all signs are pointing to that meeting being an extremely important and pivotal moment of the campaign.

MELBER: Damon, you are the only person on this panel who has served as a federal prosecutor during the Trump administration until you were removed along with others. What`s your analysis tonight?

DAMON MARTINEZ, FORMER FEDERAL U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, if I could first say that I was fired by President Trump. This is a very valuable insight into the investigation itself. And I think this is an example of what the special prosecutor Mueller has been doing during his career is he starts at a wrong and then he movers up the wrong towards individuals.

And what we see is by the specificity of the information that`s come out this is moving closer towards the President himself, the inner circle. And one of the things that`s important about the investigation is you go where the facts lead you. And if we know that they are asking for these facts, we know where the direction of the facts are going.

MELBER: The person overseeing all this, Nick, as I mentioned, is Andrew Weismann. I want to play a little more because these are all household names. But this is someone that not only got Jay Goldberg`s attention as I play in the lead, but a FOX News folks have decided they don`t like him either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Weismann is a notorious lawyer known for abusive tactics and for weaponizing the law in a ruthless and often unprincipled quest to convict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a legal thug and has a long history of abusive tactics. Weismann should resign immediately or be fired immediately.

HANNITY: Andrew Weismann not only needs to be fired but fully investigated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So if you are close to FOX, if that`s what you`re watching, you are close to the President, you are hearing this name more. Our people here at this table may have talked more about Bob Mueller. They are interested in Weismann. He is busy with Manafort. What do you make of this claim by Trump`s lawyer who says he has attorney-client privilege with the President that they are under the impression that Weismann won`t touch President Trump personally?

ACKERMAN: I can`t believe there would be such an agreement by the special prosecutor`s office. I just can`t believe they would do that and say we are going to divide up the office and certain people aren`t going to investigate anything relating to the President. That just doesn`t happen.

I mean, I think the comments that you are getting from FOX News just proved the point that Andrew Weisman is an effective prosecutor. He knows what he is doing. He has had a number of convictions. He has a good record. The things that they are saying are just part of the same pattern of lies that they have been perpetrating on the Mueller office every chance they get. And the closer the office gets to actually the Trump people and to the President himself the more they are going to keep attacking.

I mean, the personal that really ought to be investigating is Sean Hannity. He is the one who was the person whose name was brought up on the Cohen search warrant as a client. And then claims he wasn`t a client.

MELBER: But there`s no allegation of impropriety just for having a lawyer.

ACKERMAN: No. Buy why didn`t he offer himself up as a client if there was nothing wrong? The fact of the matter is that information will never see the light of day. It can`t be obtained during the free - from the freedom of information act. And it is totally covered by grand jury secrecy. So what is going on with Sean Hannity that he allows his name to be used a client when he says he is not really a client? He just asked a couple of questions.

MELBER: Paul, another piece of information is pretty notable here about the federal investigation is past interviews with Manafort and Gates are listed here, the 2013, 2014, 2014. What does that tell you about how they have been of investigative interest?

BUTLER: So being watched for a long time. We know that Weismann, again, one of the first commentator has called him legal thug. I think that he will probably wear that as a badge of honor. No doubt he is hard core. So we know that a bunch of these people have been victims of or targets of really hard core investigative tactics like being surveyed. Having listening devices. So we don`t know how long these guys have been investigated. They have been engaged in dubious activities with foreign operatives for a while.

MELBER: And legal thug sounds a little bit like an oxymoron.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Right?

BUTLER: Maybe a little bit. I don`t know.

MELBER: I mean, you can`t have legal thug passion, I imagine. It depends on what you are into.

Natasha, when you look at all these, do you think at any point with the strategy and you have been covering the case very closely, Manafort`s lawyer decide to back off what you might call the legitimacy or jurisdictional attacks on Mueller.

BERTRAND: Well, they should because that every turn, Mueller has come back and said actually, no. We have the authority to investigate this. We have the authority to execute the search warrant. And of course, the entire argument that Paul Manafort made that Rosenstein gave him overly broad, you know, mandate in order to investigate anything rising out of Donald Trump`s campaign and its tries to Russia was also - he also shot that back because it turns out that Rosenstein wrote a memo last year giving Mueller explicit permission to investigate Manafort on the question of whether or not he colluded with Russia.

So that was a huge blow to Paul Manafort because obviously, it shows that Mueller has the authority to do exactly what he has been doing. And of course, Manafort is at the very center of this question of whether or not the campaign colluded with Russia. Manafort`s ascendants to the campaign coincided with some of the most important Russia related events during the election including the released of the hacked DNC emails, the Trump tower meeting. And of course, you know, he got ousted because of reports of these continued ties to Victor (INAUDIBLE).

So these are -- Paul Manafort has always been at the center of this. And it would be very, very unusual and bizarre if they weren`t putting their best - arguably their best prosecutor on Andy Weismann in order to investigate this further. Because it goes back years and years and years and there`s a lot there.

MELBER: Now Damon, I mentioned that you were fired by Trump. You are a former federal prosecutor. You are running now for Congress. And you have a sort of alternative fan fiction apprentice themed advertisement that just came out in your race. Let`s look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Wouldn`t you say you crossed a line in?

MARTINEZ: I would say I did what was right for New Mexico.

TRUMP: You`re fired. Go.

MARTINEZ: Mr. President, I approved this message because when I`m in Congress, your next to get fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What are you saying there?

MARTINEZ: What I`m saying is this President, President Trump should serve no -- he should serve in office no longer than any day necessary according to the constitution. Right now, what we see is we have an investigation going on special counsel Mueller. That needs to be respected and supported. Also, it looks -- it appears that the evidence, there`s enough there for impeachment hearings and in the House. And then ultimately, it also looks like there`s grounds for the American people to vote this President out of office.

If I could just say what I was tongue-tied before is that this President should not stay in office one day longer than the constitution demands.

MELBER: But Damon, I wonder although people do all kinds of things in political ads to get attention. Do can you risk confusing the issue by positioning your critique of President Trump and the potential issue that you just raised of removal and combing that with him firing you which under traditional U.S. attorney rules is often happens as you know when new Presidents come into power.

MARTINEZ: No. No, I don`t. And let me tell you what`s at the heart of this is the rule of law. The way that the U.S. attorney`s, 46 U.S. attorneys, me being included one of them were ushered out was it was wrong the way it was done. What we represented to the President was we represented a threat. This threat was individuals who would counter him, who would hold him accountable. And the way that I found out on March 10th was I came back to the office about 1:30 in the afternoon and I was handed a piece of paper. And I learned from that through "the Washington Post" that we were out.

I had been under the understanding that I was going to have a smooth transition. Time to put things in place so that investigation, so that prosecution should be carried out in an orderly fashion. That wasn`t given to me. And I have to believe that happened throughout the United States with the other 45 U.S. attorneys involved.

MELBER: Right. I got to fit in a break.

Damon Martinez, Natasha Bertrand and Paul Butler and Nick Ackerman, I thank each you have for being part of our coverage.

Nick, we are going to come back to you.

Coming up, new controversy over Donald Trump`s doctor and a nomination in trouble. We are going to trace some of those roots all the way back to the "art of deal" and new report on potential criminal exposure for Trump world that dates back to when he got the nomination which could be a new tool for Mueller. A special prosecutor explains.

And Reverend Al Sharpton is here live on a big breaking story. I will explain.

And also, Kanye West says he loves Donald Trump. Charlamagne tha God joins me in 30 Rock to talk all about it.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Donald Trump campaigned on fixing the veteran affairs department with his business skills. Tonight he is learning that doing the job is harder than talking about it. He bizarrely suggests his new V.A. pick up that is up for this job - is up for job, Trump wouldn`t even do himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He is a man who has just been an extraordinary person, and he has to listen to the abuse that he has to. I wouldn`t. I were him, actually, in many ways, I would love to be him. But the fact is I wouldn`t do it. I wouldn`t do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I wouldn`t do it. Here is why the story matters. Trump said that he would run the nation like his business and that`s what he is doing. I don`t mean the fake business that Trump pretended to run on his fake show, "the Apprentice." Picture of the fish and productivity.

Tonight, the V.A. is suffering from how Trump actually does business. Minimal vetting, understaffing and under resourced.

Take Barbara Reis, an executive who led the construction of the Trump Tower and has told us about Trump`s leadership. She is, of course, old school Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m proud of the fact that I`m the first woman who has overall supervision of the construction of a major skyscraper in the New York metropolitan area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And number.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Barbara Reis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s Barbara Reis. Tonight, she tells us that the Trump board was never really the giant company that Donald Trump suggests. In fact, it was very lean. It wasn`t planned out like a fortune 100 company either that Trump did things extemporaneously and hired people on impulse. We saw a glimpse into that facade when reporters were allowed behind the scenes at Trump tower finding very spare campaign headquarters in what was the Trump organizational area.

But Reis brings up another key point. Impulse. Like putting the fate of more than 18 million veterans tonight in the hands of someone who just says something you like in the moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONNY JACKSON, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY NOMINEE: Some people have just great genes. I told the President if he had healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old. I don`t know. I mean, he has incredible genes. I just assume.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That could make Trump feel good but what about our veterans? Tonight they are faced with the prospect that the person running their healthcare overseeing policy decisions that impact life and death, well, is under a lot of strain. Allegations of overseeing a hostile work environment and even overprescribing drugs.

"The Washington Post" also reporting Jackson was not really vetted. Had no formal interview and his nomination is hanging in the balance after all this.

So what is the difference between ignorantly saying something wrong like only you can fix the V.A. and deliberately lying to everyone about it? Well, the questions whether you are in on the con. Is Trump delusional and he really thinks his business is gigantic and well-vetted, it would save the V.A. or not?

We have for you some of the most damming evidence. It comes from Trump himself. He wrote in the "Art of the Deal" that misrepresenting the size of the Trump organization was key to its success. I began to call the company the Trump organization. Somehow, the word organization made it sound much bigger. Few people knew, he writes, it was actually operated out of a couple of tiny offices on avenue Z in Brooklyn. Maybe that is what it means to run a company the Trump way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And if we could run our country the way I run my company, we would have a country would be so proud of. You would even be proud of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by Jess McIntosh, a former Hillary Clinton campaign advisor.

The Trump way meets veterans affairs.

JESSIE MCINTOSH, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Yes. I think watching what happened today is a really chilling microcosm of what Trump is doing to just about every aspect of this country.

I have said it before and this is a man with no policy understanding and no desire to learn. We saw this year possibly more glaringly than anywhere else. He put somebody forward who we knew -- reports are coming out we have known as long as 2012 that the man was in some way or other suspect. He created a hostile work environment. He had no qualifications to run the V.A. He was reported to be drinking on the job.

Out of all the jobs in the country that should not be excessively drinking on, White House physician would probably be the very, very top of that list. So if we are dealing with somebody who has those kinds of issues that clearly Trump was just excited because he said he had the genes. We actually know that the President behaves that shallowly. That all you have to do is be tall, look the part and say something nice about him and you could have just about your pick of anything that matters in this country as long as that man sits in the White House.

MELBER: Right. And if you are lucky enough to be down the hall. And this really is not like many issues in Trump land right now. This is not really about a political partisan thing. Let me play some Republicans who are very concerned about his record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The allegations that have come out against Admiral Jackson are very disserving.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: This White House has been pretty good. They look into people`s backgrounds. But maybe they missed something. Maybe they didn`t.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: There are questions about him to begin with whether he as management experience. I mean, this is the biggest bureaucracy there is that he would be ask to manage. And whether his experience lends itself to that. That`s a real question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTOSH: Then do something. Watching Republican after Republican criticize an egregious error like this, trying to put a completely unqualified person in-charge of $18 million veterans, could have done more for this country than anybody else, they have the power to do something about this. We have dangerously incompetent man in the White House who is leading the country and trying to put other incompetent cronies in-charge of things that matter.

MELBER: They could say we are not going to confirm him and find something different.

MCINTOSH: Absolutely. Absolutely. They could stop rubber stamping his agenda. They could make sure that he doesn`t try to Enron the constitution by protecting Mueller. They could do a lot of things to make sure that we are running an actual checks and balance on the President who seems to be dangerously out of control. They are completely unwilling to do that. In the same way that they all criticized him during the campaign when he said obnoxiously raises things but then fell in line the second he was the nominee. They are continuing to support this. Everything that Trump does that hurts our country, these Republicans, no matter how critical they are on television are responsible for it.

MELBER: Jess McIntosh, thank you for being on THE BEAT.

Up ahead, Donald Trump`s lawyer Michael Cohen is, of course, under criminal investigation. Why does Trump seem more rattled when questioned about pardoning Cohen today? We will show you what he said.

And a former principal prosecutor joins me on a key law Mueller could be using. It has to do with this very moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Friend, delegates and fellow Americans, I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Also tonight, conservatives embracing Kanye West because he just said he loves Donald Trump. National radio host Charlamagne Tha God is my special guest. You don`t want to miss that.

And later, Reverend Al Sharpton is here on the big story breaking this hour.

Stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, and what about Michael Cohen? Are you considering a pardon for Michael Cohen?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thank you very much. Stupid question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Stupid question. That`s President Trump downplaying the questions about today about whether he would pardon Michael Cohen. Our reporting tonight though adds some intrigue. Cohen encouraged by Trump`s tweets as a sign to stay strong. That`s courtesy of Vanity Fair. Even if no pardon is being discussed formally, he thinks these are messages that Trump is watching out for him. But why should Trump be worried at all? That brings us to our special report tonight. How some people in Trumpland could have wilder criminal liability than they realize and a major tool in Mueller`s pocket. The law that I`m talking about is something everyone knows at least in general, bribery. But here`s what`s key. While traditionally, government bribery sounds like something only government officials can do, something that`s only an issue after someone takes office, like Trump in January. There are now indications that Mueller could get tougher and reach back further than that. Take former Federal Prosecutor Seth Waxman who argues there`s a way that federal bribery laws actually can apply the moment the candidate becomes a party`s nominee. Seth is my special guest tonight to dig into what he calls an arrow in Mueller`s quiver. Now, bribery does not always go down like it does in the movies. It`s not always a suitcase full of cash. In fact, when you`re buying off a public official, the law says a bribe can be anything of value. And bribery is a weapon federal prosecutors can use. In fact, during his time running the FBI, Bob Mueller ramped up a number of public corruption cases they investigated and he knows as well as anyone that Trump became a public official under the law not when he won and was sworn in but rather six months earlier, the day he stood on that stage in Cleveland and accepted the Republican nomination for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Nobody knows the system better than me. I have seen first-hand how the system is rigged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The time gap between the nomination and the oath is important. Consider that the DNC e-mails came out during that time, that Donald Trump Junior was in touch with WikiLeaks then, that Roger Stone first claimed he was talking to Guccifer 2.0 then. And this law is designed to deal with exactly potentially that kind of preemptive action if it becomes a bribe which is why it says, "any person who`s been nominated or appointed to be a public official can be prosecuted under that 1962 bribery law." Seth Waxman is here as well as Nick Akerman. Seth, why is this important?

SETH WAXMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Ari, I think this could be a game changer when it comes to federal prosecutions. I mean, the federal bribery charge has a 15-year criminal penalty, a jail term associated with it. Federal prosecutors use that kind of tool to go after senior members of a conspiracy and try to roll them up onto the leadership of that conspiracy. Now, I think the reason we haven`t been discussing this law up until now is because you have to kind of dig into the federal bribery statute. In fact, look at the definition section, not to get too legally geeky here --

MELBER: Let`s do it.

WAXMAN: Well, let`s do it. And you look at that and you realize as you pointed out that the law does not just begin to apply when the public official is sworn into office as Mr. Trump was in January of 2017 but rather backs all they way up to July of 2016 when he was nominated.

MELBER: So if someone -- if someone say, a foreign agent wants to bribe someone for what they would do if or after elected, you`re saying that "bribe", can basically place during the campaign.

WAXMAN: Right. And that`s why the law was structured the way it was back in 1962. Congress realized that public officials aren`t susceptible to bribes just when they get into office. If someone is kind of in the pipeline to take a serious office, no more serious office than -- no more serious office than the President of the United States. We want to protect against that kind of corruption, and so they made the law apply as of the date of the nomination which in this case puts it directly into the heart of where Bob Mueller and his team are looking at with all these various interactions between the Russian team on the one side and the Trump team on the other..

MELBER: Nick, what do you think of Seth`s eagle eyes here?

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think he`s absolutely correct. I think what the quid pro quo is here is the dropping of sanctions in returns for the Russians helping on the campaign. What the Russians wanted worse than anything was to get from under the sanctions that were imposed by Obama with respect to the invasion of the Ukraine and also to the sanctions that were levered later with respect to the interference in the election.

MELBER: So if the Russians get the sanctions, under your theory, what did the Trump campaign get?

AKERMAN: They get the -- they get the help. They get the help in getting elected. They get the e-mails that are stolen from the DNC. They get the Russian suppressing the Hillary Clinton vote by using Facebook and using Twitter in going after the Hillary Clinton voters and suppressing that vote.

MELBER: So Seth, is that a theory that you think has foundation and precedent?

WAXMAN: I think that that fits squarely in what a bribery case is typically all about, a quid pro quo. So it`s the offering of dirt on Hillary Clinton in exchange for a promise to reduce sanctions. So anything that this for that kind of exchange when it involves a public official is a classic bribery charge. And what`s different about this charge than all the other charge is that we`ve been talking about whether it`s federal election campaign law or foreign agent registration act, I will tell you as a former Federal Prosecutor those are very rare prosecutions. On the other hand, a federal bribery charge kind of goes to the heart of what every federal prosecutor who`s gone after public corruption uses as their primary weapon. And I can tell you, Bob Mueller and his team are very adept and very comfortable using that kind of charge and bringing case under that law.

MELBER: Right, and it was fascinating to read your analysis of this as a Federal Prosecutor yourself. I mean, you`re not freelancing as a fantasy movie plot, you`re talking about what you think there is a case for and I know you brought them in the past. Seth Waxman and Nick Akerman, thank you, both.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

WAXMAN: Thank you.

MELBER: Up next Donald Trump celebrity friends are abandoning him with one exception, Kanye West speaking out tonight and getting some love from unexpected places. Charlamagne Tha God is here when we`re back in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Donald Trump has alienated most of his famous friend but there`s one celebrity standing by him, Kanye West who famously visited Trump Tower back after the election (AUDIO GAP), Kanye West is saying he loves Trump. The rapper gave a shout out even to a Republican activist Candace Owens who responded on Fox today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDACE OWENS, REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST: I have spoken about Kanye West so much early on in my career here. I`ve said he`s the only person that is in hip- hop or that has a public stage that is willing to think independently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And conservatives like Bill O`Reilly and Alex Jones now shouting out Kanye West to denouncing his critics today. West has said, he would have voted for Trump and noted his futuristic and his style that was politically upbeat -- politically correct way of communication. The rapper though add, he does support women`s rights and gay marriage and black lives matter. Now look, this is important. It would be easy to dismiss all of this as celebrity musings and say who cares what they think about politics. But you know, it was easy for a lot of people to dismiss Trump as a (INAUDIBLE) celebrity, now he`s leader of the free world. The fact is, culture has always driven politics. And in his own way, Kaney is citing one of Trump`s electoral strength, building a political following around style and rebellion, not policy. It`s hard to run against that kind of project with policy alone especially if Trump`s critics prefer to shout down the conversation rather than actually have it. And for this story tonight, we turn to a Co-Host of the nationally syndicated radio show, The Breakfast Club, Charlamagne Tha God, Author Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes To Those Who Create It. The show features leaders in music and culture and has become a stop on the presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we know you vetted -- your team vetted Charlamagne a lot because he has given you donkey of the day.

(CROSSTALK)

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, CO-HOST, THE BREAKFAST CLUB: But I`m equal opportunity though, I`ve given a lot presidential candidates donkey of the day.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I`m a Democrat, so being donkey of the day is a little bit of a mixed blessing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Charlamagne joins me now. Thanks for being here.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Ari, what`s happening?

MELBER: What`s happening?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I`m blessed black and highly favored. I`m one of the few guests you have on that will get your Jay Z references.

MELBER: You get all of everything and you know them. You know the people and you know Kanye, what`s happening here?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I really don`t know. I mean, I think that -- I think that we all need to wait and hear Kanye actually explain maybe what he feels in detail before we all start writing our think pieces and jumping into conclusions about what we think is happening because I don`t even know if what we think is happening is really happening, honestly. I think what you said in your set up is really interesting. The fact that he sees somebody that is considered an outsider, somebody that`s politically incorrect, somebody that`s a rebel. I think it might be more of a style thing. Like, he sees himself stylistically in Donald Trump`s approach. I don`t think that he necessarily likes Donald Trump`s policies because clearly, he says he`s all for black lives matter and gay rights. I mean, his father is transgender or transsexual. I don`t want to say the political and incorrect term but I think it`s probably more of a style thing than anything else.

MELBER: When is the last time you talked to Kanye?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I was with Kanye last week. I`m with him last week. The TMZ cameras caught us coming out of his office in Calabasas. I was actually with him last week.

MELBER: Does he see politics as performance and if so does that make him similar to the President`s view?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Kanye is not -- he`s not political. I know that may sound crazy but in his mind, he`s not being political at all.

MELBER: Chicago has over 600 caskets and I got the facts to back this. I mean, his rhymes are political?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes, absolutely. I think that he has -- I think that`s what you call socially. I think that`s called being aware, but that don`t mean that you actually know what`s going on politically. He may not even know what that is, he just know there`s a lot of murders going on in Chicago but probably didn`t know that exact data.

MELBER: A lot of your work connects with the political moment we`re in because we have a president more interested in content than policy.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Well, absolutely. You got a celebrity in chief. That`s why we don`t need to have more celebrities in chief. Like you know, I think that America is too obsessed with celebrity. I mean, the fact that -- I think our obsession with celebrity is what got Donald Trump in the White House. I think we need qualified people. We need people who know politics. It`s not about style, you know what I mean? It`s about actual substance. I want somebody that has morals and values and integrity and actually wants to see America be great, not just white people in America, not just black people in America, not just you know, one section of America. I want him to really care about all of America. In a lot of ways, you know, I love President Barack Obama. That was the first time I voted for a president. Sometimes I do wish that --

MELBER: You never voted before Obama?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Never voted before Obama, not locally, not nationally, nothing. I don`t think that African-American and black people, I don`t think we did enough of the work when President Obama was in the White House. I think that we were happy with just that symbol of like it`s a black -- you know, black president and we good now.

MELBER: Do you think that expectations are one of biggest things that haunt people who have to perform whether in politics or music?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: 100 percent. That`s whenever Beyonce drops it`s such a great thing because she takes away expectations by just giving you those albums in the middle of the night. You don`t even know that it`s coming, you know. You only get a chance to hate on it. We live in this era right now where people are really writing reviews for things before the music even comes out or the music might come out and an hour later they got a whole review of all this as classic or this is trash. You have to take away people`s expectations. I go to therapy a lot now. And my therapist always said that -- my therapist always says, you have to stop having expectations for other people because I get so let down in other people some time or other people`s opinions. And I`m like, why do I have expectations about other people`s opinion. I shouldn`t. I need to let it go and just let people think how they want to think and speak how they want to speak and we can agree to disagree. I shouldn`t have expectation about somebody else`s opinions or thoughts.

MELBER: Is there an insight you`ve gotten about yourself or the world out of therapy?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the biggest insight is that it`s so OK to not know. You know, it`s OK to constantly be trying to figure things out. You know, I`m the go-to guy for a lot of people. You know, the go-to guy, a go-to woman go to when they need to speak to somebody. I even was concerned about my therapist because I`m lying in bed last night and I`m like, damn, you know, I wonder who my therapist talks to after she talks to me because I`m a lot. I`m a lot, so I wonder who she talks to. So I just think it`s just -- and it`s OK to question things including yourself.

MELBER: So it`s OK to try to be strong and also know that there`s weakness in you or there`s needs in you?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes. I think that`s part of being strong. I think you know, one of the -- especially in the hood one of the worst things that we ever made people feel like that you always got to be tough. You always got to be hard. Like, think about how many brothers in the hood maybe dealing with anxiety but they just think that`s -- that paranoia is natural because they are in the street. I`m one of those people. You know, I just -- I`ve always been naturally paranoid person, naturally anxious person. I was having anxiety attacks and didn`t know until I got older and I`m no longer living that lifestyle and I got -- I`m making a great living but I still have those feelings. That`s what made me go to therapy in first place.

MELBER: So is that -- is that part of a crisis of American culture`s expectations for black masculinity because there`s a narrative around being strong, about being a super predator, about being dangerous and then there`s no space to actually be anything else, that you`re being compressed at both ends.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I mean, think about it. I got -- if I`m in the street. If I grew up in the hood, I got to deal with that element. But then also I got to deal with the element of just America looking at me as like you said, a super predator, a thug. So I got to look out for criminals and other thugs or other people that may want to do me harm and I got to worry about police officers. I`m a tax paying citizen who makes a great living, a media personality, but when I get behind the wheel of my car and I`m driving through Jersey, I`m still nervous, police officer get behind me even though he didn`t put his lights on, I feel like I want to put over and let him pass me.

MELBER: Charlamagne Tha God, thank you for coming on THE BEAT.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Ari, thank you, brother. Thank you for having me, man.

MELBER: I appreciate it. The book is Black Privilege and it is out in paperback now. And that`s not all. We have a lot tonight. The Reverend Al Sharpton is here on a story breaking this hour. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Turning to breaking news. You`re looking at brand-new video of the musician and rapper Meek Mill who was let out of prison. That`s him boarding a helicopter. We just received a video. This is from a new judge`s order. Police had initially seen the successful musician engaging in the nonviolent activity of popping wheelies that got him a two-to-four- year primp sentence because of a parole violation. The harsh sentence turned this case into a public cause. Musicians and businessmen visiting Mill in prison along with Reverend Al Sharpton. And in December, we spoke with him and one of Mill`s collaborators A$AP Ferg.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASAP FERG, RAPPER: It may have been dumb to you know, ride the motorcycle through the streets. All like you know, we all get in fights but that`s human. That`s human -- that`s human mistakes is like. You know, that`s -- that doesn`t cause you to get four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m now joined by Reverend Al Sharpton Host of MSNBC`s "POLITICS NATION," President of the National Action Network which just had a conference. I`ll mention full disclosure, I was honored to speak there. This is breaking news. Meek Mill let out early because of this order. What does it mean?

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: It means a lot because one of the reasons that I got involved was the fact that you`re talking about someone getting two to four years for riding a wheelie on a case that was ten years old that he had already done time for. And now the policeman that was critical in the case has been revealed to have been tainted by some of his let`s say other than ethical behavior. So not only did the judge release him, give him bail, they`ve overturned the conviction. And even when the D.A. last week, Ari, said, the Philadelphia D.A. said he should be given a new trial because of the compromise of the police officer that was the arresting officer, the judge still wouldn`t let him out of jail. This woman judge had a vendetta against him from the beginning. When I visited him in jail, that`s what he talked about. But he also talked about this is about the parole system and how a judge can have this kind of awesome power. He said Reverend, I want to fight for others and my case is a symbol. His release is a symbol that we can win and I know that he will be committed to helping us fight for others.

MELBER: You say fight for others. You and I have both spoken to Meek`s lawyer about this case. The notion that, "even a black celebrity, even a rich person, even someone who has a lot of people on the outside fighting can still end up this deep down a broken parole system, " right? It`s something that Meek speaks about in the quote today saying, the past five months have been a nightmare but he credits the calls, the letters, the rallies and says I understand many people of color across the country don`t have that luxury. I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues.

SHARPTON: And that`s exactly what he kept saying to me in my visit in jail and that`s exactly what we need to look at tonight. He is going home with all of us that got involved, with all of his money and pressure but imagine that kid that`s sitting in jail who was just like him, should not have been there shouldn`t have been given this kind of -- these kind of long sentences that is nobody`s rallying for. We have to change the system. Meek Mill is a dramatic and graphic example of how we have to change the parole system in this country.

MELBER: It is interesting and you as we mentioned have been integratedly involved in this. You know, sometimes, when you take cases, if take a celebrity they say, oh, Rev is just working with a celebrity. Then you take a no name for these case, they say Rev ust wants attention.

SHARPTON: Yes, either way, they`re going to give it to you.

MELBER: But I`ve seen you getting results here which is notable.

SHARPTON: But I think that -- you know, someone said at our conference last week, if you get credit you don`t deserve and if you don`t get credit and don`t worry about it, then you deserved it. I don`t worry about it. It`s like playing in any sport. You`re always going to have your cheers and hecklers. It goes with the game.

MELBER: Well, you`ve been quite consistent on this and it`s clearly a big story for only for Meek Mill but for people looking at this parole system, something we`ve covered. Reverend Sharpton, thank you.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: You can always check "POLITICS NATION" Sundays 8:00 a.m. Eastern. We will be right back with some news on what the Supreme Court is tackling tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Sometimes people make news right here on THE BEAT. Take Trump accuser Jessica Drake who had her first live T.V. interview here this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA DRAKE, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: 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 told what had happened that night and over the years have gotten more details about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: She backed up Stormy Daniels but if you missed that interview, you can get it now on Apple podcasts. Go to our podcast by listening for free with Apple. Here`s you do it. Look for the purple podcast icon on your phone. Search THE BEAT with Ari Melber and you will see it pop up. Please check us out and you`ll never miss a show.

END

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