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Michael Flynn's sentencing delayed. TRANSCRIPT: 05/01/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Richard Painter; Jack Quinn

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: May 1, 2018 Guest: Richard Painter; Jack Quinn

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That's all we have for tonight. We will back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, one thing. I finds auto correct sometimes leaves me spelling things the wrong way as well.

TODD: That is true. I will just say, I will duck out of here.

MELBER: Thank you, Chuck Todd.

We begin with breaking news. There's a new filing tonight from Bob Mueller showing he wants more time to get evidence from Michael Flynn.

Bob Mueller just filed this in federal court. It is a new motion asking a judge to grant more time with Mike Flynn here in USA v. Flynn before he is sentenced to what potentially goes to jail. Now, there aren't many details in this kind of document. But the details we do have are not good news for the Trump White House.

Tonight, Mueller's name is on the request. His prosecutor signed it stating they want to delay Mike Flynn's sentencing due to the status of the special counsel's investigation. Now, the status is of course, open. And this suggests that whatever Mueller's team is investigating, they want more time with Flynn and they want more evidence from him. Once he is sentenced they lose obviously some of their potential leverage.

Now, usually this kind of news would stand alone. One filing, one clue. But this one, of course, comes with a whole lot of new questions, about 49 of them that Bob Mueller wants to ask Donald Trump. That of course from the detailed leak making shock waves first reported by "The New York Times," and it shows Mueller is now moving up from the oval office himself.

The questions also shed new light on how Mueller's investigating Paul Manafort's ties to Russia? How much Trump was talking to his long time aid Roger Stone? All of this a hot topic at today's White House briefing where reporters noted that Trump falsely stated that no Mueller questions were about collusion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President has tweeted about it. He has talked about how none of these questions relate to collusion. But that's not true. Why is he mischaracterizing these reports?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Once again, I'm not going to get in to the back and forth on matters involving the special counsel.


MELBER: Over 12 of these 49 questions are in some way about collusion. The Times got them quote "no person outside of Mr. Trump's legal team. Other questions go into Trump's meetings with Putin or Paul Manafort, possibly asking Russia for help in 2016 and Jared Kushner's attempt at a back channel communication with Russia."

Also the names in Trump world that we have come to learn about in all of these developments, well, a lot of them obviously pop up. Key questions about key people.

But take a look at this break down. Of the 19 names included in the questions, 11 have already reportedly faced their own questioning by Bob Mueller's team. A big name that's not on either list, though, of course, Donald Trump himself.

Let's get right to it with Jack Quinn who knows a lot about this kind of thing as a former White House counsel to Bill Clinton. And Nick Ackerman, a former Watergate prosecutor.

Nick, on the breaking news tonight, what does it tell you that they want more time with Mike Flynn?

NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: This is not good news for Donald Trump. What they are looking to do is bring a major indictment in which Flynn is going to be one of the star witnesses. What Flynn wants to do is get as many brownie points as he can so when he goes to a sentencing judge he can say that he went all out, he testified for the government, he testified truthfully and as a result of his testimony there were a number of convections.

Also, as you alluded to before, Robert Mueller wants to kind of keep the lid on Flynn so that he has an incentive to go in and testify fully and truthfully. And by doing that he keeps open the sentencing.

So in a sense both sides have a big incentive to keep this open, and it's all open because there's likely to be a big indictment in which Flynn is going to be one of the star witnesses.

MELBER: So your read is this fortifies the idea that Flynn is going to talk both to Mueller but ultimately talk in a more public setting if he is, as you put it, the star witness.

Jack, take a look at some of the other things we were able to call from this very unusual leak, all these questions. Five of them touch on Flynn, 21 on Comey, nine about Sessions, 14 that circle around the collusion Russia question, 49 in total. Your view then of Flynn being in the news tonight.

JACK QUINN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: You know, I totally agree. I mean, look, he is a star witness. And I would like to make one other observation about this question and what the questions are all about. If you put to one side all of the people who are government officials are law enforcement personnel, every single person mentioned in the questions is somebody who is involved in the Russia issue. In other words, there are no other people involved in any of the obstruction or any other issues. Everybody is in there because of the possible Russia connection.

MELBER: It's a great point you make because some of the critics here have said, oh, maybe they have lost sight of that, and as you are pointing out we don't believe this to be a leak from the Mueller side. They are all over it. Go ahead, Jack.

QUINN: And yes. In every single person and every one of these questions involving another person whether it's Don Junior, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, they are all people who in one way or another are involved in the question Mueller has, the most important question he is looking at, was there any coordination between the Russian government and the campaign.

MELBER: Then there's the other piece I want to get you in on, Jack, because when you represented a president, it was different. In this president, the tweets. There are questions that go to tweets it the state of mind of the President. We know Mueller wants to ask about both of these on your screen. Comey better hope there are no quote "tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking." And his October tweet, people not interviewed include Clinton herself, Comey said under oath he didn't do this fix. Where is the justice department?

I don't think your client, the President did a lot of tweeting or generally, you know, shooting off his mouth. He was a lawyer himself. But your view of how these tweets figure into what Mueller wants to know.

QUINN: Well, you put your finger on it. I mean these tweets reflect the state of mind. And the special counsel will take into account what this might say about what the President might have been thinking. And as you well know having parsed through all these questions a good many of them goes to what he was thinking when he did certain things, you know, including firing Mike Flynn, firing James Comey and so on.

The special counsel really wants to get into the President's head to find out whether there was specifically any corrupt intent in terms of the actions he took, which arguably might have been for the purpose of obstructing the investigation.

MELBER: Right. I want you both to stay with me. I want to add in Betsy Woodruff, a political reporter from the "Daily Beast." She has been all over the story as well as Richard Painter, a former White House ethics chief under Bush. He is now running as a senate as a Democrat in Minnesota.

Betsy, there are leaks and then there are leaks. This one has everyone talking because it's got a lot of meat on the bone. What's your take away?

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: This is really damaging to talks between the President's legal team and Mueller about a potential interview. And the reason is because it's going to be viewed by people in Mueller's circle as an enormous betrayal of trust.

Essentially what this leak did is it took the hood of the car and it opened it up for everyone to see. We now know a lot of what Mueller is actually interested in. One thing particularly interesting about this leak is it shows that much of the reporting about the direction that Mueller has been headed appears to be correct. There's been some skepticism in some corners that reporters are overhyping the extent of the Mueller probe.

Sure, the muscular approach to these questions about potential connections between the campaign and Russia. Buts this leak shows, no, that reporting, speaking very broadly about most of the reporting that's on this is borne out. That said, though, look. It's going to be viewed as a betrayal of trust and it is going to make it much harder for the President's lawyers to negotiate an agreement that's going to make everyone happy. It just takes those talks and dramatically raises the temperature.

MELBER: Richard?

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, this demonstrates that Robert Mueller is focusing on exactly what he is supposed to be focusing on, and that is Russia. And the criminal activity, the espionage conducted by Russian agents inside the United States, computer hacking, all of the criminal activity with respect to Facebook and social media and any and all Americans who collaborated with that criminal activity.

We already have clear evidence of collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. That's what happened in the Trump tower. Whether that collaboration was criminal and rises to the level in which criminal prosecution would be warranted has yet to be determined, but this does not look good for the Trump administration, and it looks absolutely awful for Congress. Because Congress should be uncovering the facts, and all they did last week was put out a report from the House intelligence committee saying that there wasn't collaboration, saying we learned from "The New York Times" that that so-called lawyer, Russian lawyer, who met with Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. in the Trump tower last June was a Russian spy.

And this is very, very bad situation as of June of 2016. Very bad for the President of the United States who has had so many people in his campaign collaborating with the Russians when there's known criminal activity going on. And Robert Mueller is going to get to the bottom of it. And the big question for the voters is why Congress hasn't been getting to the bottom of it, too. And that's of course because they don't want to.

MELBER: And you raise a big issue, which is, you know, if you are going to meet with a Russian spy you should have a good reason. And so far that hasn't really been substantiated.

Jack Quinn, on the point of Betsy raised about sort of savoring any trust that there might have been in good faith, private negotiations between the lawyers, we know Rudy Giuliani went in and did the Mueller meeting. We know John Dowd was out of there, partly over debate over the interview. What do you think as one of the few people who has been in those rooms in high level White house litigations strategy over this leak which I don't think it even looks that sneaky. It's pretty obvious this is a leak from Trump land.

QUINN: There's no doubt in my mind that these questions were leaked out of Trump land. The big question I think that I'm really interested in is who wrote the questions. Because the framing of the questions can provide a tell in one way or another.

Let me just give you a small example. There's a question in there about pardons. And interestingly enough, it's raised in connection with General Flynn, and the question alludes to whether or not whether there's any approach made to him to seek a pardon or immunity. I noticed that the word "pardon" actually in the question is in the plural, "pardons." And it makes me think that question was written by somebody who was thinking not only about Flynn but about Manafort. And to me that was one dead giveaway that this document did not come out of the special counsel's office but instead was written on the basis of topics that were provided by the special counsel.


ACKERMAN: Yes, I think that the questions give you an idea of the general topics. But what is really important are the detailed questions as to the follow up as to what Trump's answers are going to be. And those are going to be based on what Mueller has gathered in his investigation, from his cooperating witnesses who pled guilty, other witnesses, documents, the documents that were taken in the search warrants, on Manafort's home, the ones from Michael Cohen's office.

I mean, I think all of these things they give you an idea of where this is going. But I think the real critical piece here is what the follow up questions are going to be? And of course the big question is why did they leak this out? And I really believe that the people who are responsible for this leak are Trump's lawyers, who have no control of their client and they feel that the only way they can even try and convince him not to go through this interview was to put it out there in the public, get Trump to watch "FOX & Friends" and so that they can advise him on national television not to be interviewed by Robert Mueller.

MELBER: You know, there's a lot of support for that.

Jack, I'll give you a quick final word. I mean, it is a surreal part of 2018 that we know from our own reporting that Trump aide say if you really want to influence the President it's not in a one-on-one meeting, it is not in a briefing material. It's getting it up on a television where he can then watch it back.

QUINN: I agree with Nick that some are trying to discourage him from submitting to the interview. But let me remind you that's not entirely up to them. I believe you can be certain that if he refuses to submit to an interview there may well be a grand jury subpoena coming.

MELBER: Right, and that becomes a legal fight which all the Presidents have had up to the Supreme Court about the White House allows you to protect and what is still answerable to the rule of law which question.

Jack Quinn and Richard Painter, I want to thank you both and releasing you.

Nick and Betsy, please stay with me for more.

Coming up, we turn to NBC's exclusive reporting for the story of the bodyguard and the President's medical office. What was that about?

Also, we are going to show you Trump TV going into overdrive like we were just discussing, spinning away this Mueller news.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: "The New York TIMES" is full of crap. Half of these questions are dumb anyway. This garbage from "The New York Times" tonight, absolute garbage.


MELBER: And new tough words from Mueller's boss attacking Republicans threatening him with potential impeachment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time. The department of justice is not going to be extorted.


MELBER: Later tonight we will also turn to Mark Zuckerberg who's now saying the only way to protect your privacy would be to make Facebook worse. We will explain.

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


MELBER: Now to a weird story about moves by Trump's most physical fixer, not Michael Cohen but his long time bodyguard, Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller. He marched into Trump's pedicle doctor's office to take medical files. This is according to what Trump's doctor told the NBC News reporters in this new exclusive.


DR. HAROLD BORNSTEIN, TRUMP'S PERSONAL DOCTOR: I feel raped. That's how I feel. Raped, frightened and sad.


MELBER: Dr. Harold Bornstein there was Trump's personal doctor for 35 years.

But let's give you some context on why he makes those claims.

He now says it all changed within two days after he told "The New York Times" Trump took a drug for hair growth. The bodyguard then came to his office in what he called a chaotic raid.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What exactly where they looking for?

BORNSTEIN: All the medical records, his pictures, anything they could find. (INAUDIBLE) here for 25 or 30 minute moved in a lot of chaos. I didn't know what to make of the whole thing. I couldn't believe anybody was making a big deal about a drug that is to grow his hair which seemed to be so important.


MELBER: A couple of points on this bizarre story. First, in fairness to Trump any patient is entitled to doctor confidentiality and not having any treatment publicized in the press.

Second, in fairness to the doctor, if you want your medical records moved, under law you are supposed to submit a (INAUDIBLE) and then the records are transferred, of course, by medical personnel. That didn't happen here and sending in the muscle does seem excessive.

Third, of course, there are the Washington word games. White house didn't really deny this happened but cost a bodyguard issue as a standard operating procedure not a raid.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did Keith Schiller go and take medical records from the President's personal doctor last year?

SANDERS: As a standard operating procedure for a new president, the White House medical unit took possession of the President's medical records.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was characterized as a raid. Is that how your understanding of what happened? The doctor seems to be pretty upset about it?

SANDERS: No, that is not my understanding.


MELBER: Here is the wider context, though. Trump has lost the doctor he nominated to lead the VA over allegations of propriety. His fixer, Michael Cohen under criminal probe. And now his personal doctor over this weird raucous.

So Donald Trump has moved from people he once discarded like the bodyguard Schiller and like Rudy Giuliani who we are just discussing and adding them back into his team in various ways as he's under increasing strain.

I'm joined now again by Nick Ackerman and Betsy Woodruff.

Betsey, the old "Saturday Night Live" question is what's up with that?

WOODRUFF: It's a good question. Keith Schiller is a really important character in the broader Trump constellation of individuals. At one point during the campaign he actually punched a protester who is protesting outside of at Trump tower. And at another point, he physically dragged a reporter, Jorge Ramos, out of a press release -- press conference that President Trump was having. Ramos' (INAUDIBLE) was asking the President some difficult questions. So in some ways we can see Keith Schiller as sort of the physical embodiment as Trump's quote-unquote "live order persona." That said at the same time he is also quite politically and legally savvy.

Schiller was one of many Trump associates who was brought before the House intelligence committee. I believe that was earlier this year for an interview as part of their investigation which is now complete in the potential coordination between the Trump world and Russia.

I was told by a person familiar with that interview that Schiller was very polite, was very coy essentially gave them nothing which is pretty extraordinary coming from a man who is probably spent more time with Trump in person over the last ten years than just about anyone else.

Schiller used to be a police detective in New York. And he is clearly then on the other side of interviewing tables. He has questioned witnesses. So he seemed to approach his interview with kind of that perspective. Somebody who knew how the game was played, knew how to be defensive and knew how not to give away any information, even information that could have been helpful to many investigators who are quite sympathetic with Trump and actually were treating that investigation as a way to exonerate him.

So the fact that Schiller shows up again in this bizarre story is not a huge surprise. He is a really important character in Trump world.

MELBER: Yes, I mean how the game is played.

Nick, I think the larger question seems to be surrounding Trump right now is what game are they playing? Schiller has been involved in everything. He was questioned of course, about aspects of the dossier in the Moscow hotel -- hotel issues, if you will.

Here was Karen McDougal who recently won her suit against the "National enquirer" parent company which involved the other fixer, Michael Cohen talking about Keith Schiller.


KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY MODEL: Keith would always pick-me-up, drop me off, take me from whether it is an event, whether it's the Beverly Hills hotel or wherever we were going, Keith was always involved. Keith was a nice man.



ACKERMAN: Well, he always seems to be there with the women. He was there when Stormy Daniels was in that apartment with Trump. And he also adds some extremely highly corroborative evidence of what occurred in 2013 at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Even though Trump denies having anything to do with prostitutes during that time Keith Schiller admitted to the House committee that the Russians did in fact offer Trump prostitutes. But Schiller stated that he didn't know what happened afterwards. He sat outside Mr. Trump's hotel room for a short time and then left. So he really leaves open the entire allegation. And when you couple that what Comey has in his memos, it certainly adds credence to the seven informants Christopher Steele reports on in his reports.

MELBER: Nick Ackerman and Betsy Woodruff, thank you for your analysis on both of these stories tonight.

Up ahead, we are going to look at more of this bombshell revelation about whether Paul Manafort was asking Russia for help in the middle of 2016. What does he know?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there are not. It's absurd and you know, there is no basis to it.


MELBER: And then something important and unusual. Bob Mueller's boss speaking out publicly, Rod Rosenstein. This might be as fiery as we have seen him blasting impeachment threats and comparing them to extortion. He also had a message for Trump.

And later Sean Hannity's Mueller meltdown moment in real time when THE BEAT rolls on.



RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOS: What knowledge did you have any outreach by your campaign including Paul Manafort to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?

I was just about to say this is an intriguing question. "The Times" notes about this question this is one of the most intriguing questions on the list.


MELBER: Rachel Maddow reading one of the biggest pieces of news revealed in these new questions from Bob Mueller as "The New York Times" story was breaking just last night.

The question is intriguing because it has a premise. Bob Mueller doesn't just love Hail Marys or conspiracy theories at anyone let alone the sitting president. He asked about things that might be provable. For the first time, we are learning Mueller is not only asking about how Russians offered Trump help in 2016, but whether the Trump campaign through its chairman Manafort reached out to Russia for assistance.

Here is that exact leaked question. Do you know about any outreach by your campaign including by Paul Manafort to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign? And here is how this news continues to play out today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manafort's potential talks with Russian operatives hadn't been reported before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hadn't seen anything quite so overt as the campaign reaching out to Russian officials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That issue had been raised publicly in any of the previous stories When you are this far along in the inquiry and you are talking about sitting down with your main subject, you already know the answers to many of the questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These properties are not going to ask the President questions they don't already know the answers to.


MELBER: That last point is key. Prosecutors don't ask questions. In the dark they ask about what they think they know. And remember, Mueller secured the cooperation of Manafort's longtime deputy Rick Gates. Tonight as we noted, he's taking more time with the cooperation of Mike Flynn. Mueller knows exactly why he's asking this question about a potential international crime between Manafort and the Russians. If Donald Trump does not know why Mueller's asking the question, then as the old legal saying goes, you better ask somebody. Joining me now is David Corn Washington Bureau Chief from Mother Jones, Author of the new book Russian Roulette and Jessica Levinson a Professor at Loyola Law School. And David, I'm going to go ahead and better ask you why all this attention on Paul Manafort actually requesting Russian assistance.

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, you know, he says including Paul Manafort. In the book that I wrote with Mike Isikoff, we report that George Papadopoulos said that he was encouraged by Donald Trump at a March 2016 meeting to continue to make connections and make contacts with Russia, with Moskow. So this question could be keyed to something about that. We do know that after -- well, we don't know -- we assume that it has to be the Trump Tower Meeting there might have been further communications or speculation there might have been further communications in which perhaps Donald Trump, Jr. caught up the Agalarovs, the contacts to the Kremlin who had worked with the Trumps and said how come we didn't get better dirt than you promised? So there are a lot of other particular pieces that we already know that could be applied to this question. Of course, people are focused on Paul Manafort. And what we do know is that during the campaign he offered assistance and information on the campaign to a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska who's very close to Putin and he did it through a former Russian military intelligence officer named Konstantin Kilimnik. Now, did he in this chain of communications asked if Deripaska could do anything for the campaign? That may be what Mueller is looking at as well. But this question really applies far more widely than just to Manafort.

MELBER: Well, David Corn, the book is called Russian Roulette, it could easily be crossword puzzles from 2016 with all the names that you're name- checking. Some of them we know -- some of them we know, it's fine.

CORN: Yes, I'm sorry. (INAUDIBLE) very slowly.

MELBER: Jessica, I don't know if you want to buy a vowel but bottom line, how would this questioning work from your perspective as a lawyer if you did have the President sitting there and you did pose the questions we're now seeing leaked?

JESSICA LEVINSON, LAW PROFESSOR, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think that everything we've heard is exactly right. One, they start with very open- ended questions. And I think part of it is the initial question actually is really important in the sense what you want to do as a prosecutor is just get Donald Trump talking. Because we know that that would basically be an unequivocal good thing for the special counsel and I think an unequivocally bad thing for Donald Trump. But then I also think what we've heard is the follow-up questions are going to be key. And every -- my guess is every bit of this from what Donald Trump's rambling first answers are going to be to what the follow-up questions will be have already basically been scripted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

MELBER: So you have a Led Zeppelin theory of cross-examination which should be rambled on. I guess my question for you though is --

LEVINSON: I put Led Zeppelin approach to life.

MELBER: You do. OK. Well, but I guess the question is if anyone watching at home is watching this and it's 2018, they might be thinking, OK, so you ask him, did you know if Manafort asked for help. And he says I don't remember that, we wouldn't do that, no collusion, and then he'll say that eight more times. And the prosecutor says, well, actually here's an e-mail showing Michael Cohen was told -- I'm saying this for the sake of hypothetical -- that he was. And now we can prove that you know about it and you were told about it. And then the President says I don't remember that, no collusion. At what point does that get Mueller somewhere?

LEVINSON: Well, I think that actually, your question about the end game is a really important one because as you know, there's absolutely an open question whether you can indict a sitting president. So even at the end of those questions, if he had said, my goodness, you're right, I guess I did say that and I just lied to you. I'm so sorry. There's still a question at the end of the day is what does Robert Mueller want out of it. And so, I think the likely scenario is what he wants out of it is a document that would be released to the public and used by our political -- by the legislative branches. Because I don't think ultimately for Trump this ends up in an indictment. I think this ends up in is there enough here to put political pressure to say now you have to go through the lines of impeachment.

MELBER: And David, while I have you, I'd like your response as we stitch together different segments of the show of a theory raised earlier in the hour that all of this is designed by Trump-friendly allies to show Trump on television just how many tough questions there are and why he ought to really think twice about sitting down with Mueller.

CORN: Well, Sean Hannity said these are dumb questions and made it seem as if Trump would have an easy time with it. So I don't know if that strategy is going to work. I mean, I don't -- I hope he's watching. I hope Donald Trump is watching right now. But nevertheless, I think a lot of the fuss out there may not encourage him or discourage him one way. But remember, this is guy who really seems to have problem remembering -- sticking to an accurate story. He told Jim Comey that had hadn't spent the night in Moscow, and that was kind of just a ridiculous lie to make. A couple of days ago he said, of course, I didn't say that when of course he did. So I mean, I don't really know. I think in a lot of ways he's like the unreliable narrator in a movie or book. I don't know what Mueller will get out of him in terms any real information to use.

MELBER: David Corn and Jessica Levinson, both reliable narrators, thank you for being here. Up ahead on THE BEAT, Mueller's boss speaking out going on offense. This is a defiant Rosenstein comparing those threatening to impeach him to extortionists, and we were just mentioning, what Sean Hannity's real-time answer was to Mueller's questions. All of that when we're back in just 90 seconds.


MELBER: Rare public pushback today from the man overseeing the Russia probe. Bob Mueller's boss Rod Rosenstein clapping against anonymous Republicans in Congress whom he alleges are trying to basically extort the DOJ with threats. The issue is that a right-wing faction of House Republicans has a draft to potentially impeach Rosenstein and they say it's over the DOJ withholding documents.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: They can't even resist leaking their own drafts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you care to elaborate on that?

ROSENSTEIN: I saw that draft and I don't know who wrote it. I just don't have anything to say about documents like that, but nobody has the courage to put their name on and that they're leaking that way. But there are people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.


MELBER: No courage. That is strong a language you'll see from most nonpartisan prosecutors in public. And keep in mind there's nothing partisan about this fight. This is Republicans waging a stealth war on the Prosecutor in a Republicans appointed personally by Donald Trump himself. Now, late today, the leader behind this impeachment draft firing back and saying Rosenstein should, "step aside if he feels he's facing extortion," which doesn't even make sense. We'll get to that. There are other signs that he is getting to other people. Take Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity who had been hiding the fact he shares a lawyer with the President. He has this reaction, I'm going to show you as he was processing the New York Times report about those Mueller questions in real time.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: I am told by my sources tonight that the New York Times is full of crap. How stupid is it? They want to get in the President's mind? Did you ever think of firing Mueller, when he never fired Mueller? If this is successful, this is America becoming Venezuela. Half of them are asinine. This New York Times thing put it in your place and burn it. Half of these questions are dumb anyway. This garbage from the New York Times tonight, absolute garbage.


MELBER: I want to bring in a former aide to the Clinton and Obama campaigns Chaitanya Komanduri and Bill Burton who served in the White House as Deputy Press Secretary for President Obama as well. Bill, your friend Sean there clearly moved. What is happening?

BILL BURTON, FORMER DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: I'll just start by fact-checking you. He's not my friend.

MELBER: A friend loosely.

BURTON: This White House is in crisis. And it's cringing from crisis to crisis to crisis and Sean Hannity as its number one cheerleader on the outside I think is doing everything he can to throw dust up in the air about this very serious investigation. He clearly was unhinged last night. I like he assumed that all his viewers had fireplaces where they could go and burn these questions. But I mean, look, if Donald -- this is like getting the test in advance and being able to go in and take it. Like, if Donald Trump can't do that, what's he going to do here?

MELBER: I don't understand -- I have this as a new statement from Mark Meadows. I don't understand literally the claim that if Rod Rosenstein feels that he's being extorted out, he should get out. I mean, that's what they came up with. But this is actually, Name, pretty serious and it's very rare to see. He's the Acting Attorney General for this probe speaking out in this way.

CHAITANYA KOMANDURI, FORMER DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, one of the things that the House Freedom Caucus, Sean Hannity, and Donald Trump are doing, is they are attacking Bob Mueller and this investigation the same way they attacked Hillary Clinton in the campaign. They are accusing them of everything they themselves are guilty of even to the extent that Sean Hannity is accusing Bob Mueller of asking dumb questions when it comes to asking dumb questions, Sean Hannity is perhaps an expert in this area and he does pretty well. But if you think about it, it's a very heavy lift to do to Bob Mueller what they did to Hillary Clinton, or even to some extent Barack Obama. Bob Mueller is a middle-aged white male with a very extensive experience and background in the military and law enforcement. These areas make him very attracted to Republican voters. And if you look at polling on the Mueller investigation it is very clear that this is backfiring. You know, there's a recent Fox News poll that shows 67 percent of respondents believe that the Mueller probe should continue. 64 percent said Bob Mueller has treated Donald Trump fairly. Those numbers are extremely high and they would not be that high if not -- if not a significant number of Republicans were approving of this probe.

MELBER: So you're making a political observation about whether this works. The old saying was if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You're saying, so if your only opponent in your mind is crooked Hillary, then you always go to the crooked Hillary playbook. And while more voters rejected that than supported it, it did provide an electoral college path. You're saying it's not going to work as well. But put that into context of why we show Sean Hannity. It's because we just want to put our feet up and just play other news broadcast instead of our own, we do our own, but it's because Sean Hannity at this juncture does not appear to be an independent member of the media. It is one of the quickest ways we can learn about the mindset of the actual Trump team. You read even Washington Post, Hannity offers the media-driven president a sympathetic ear and shared grievances. White House aides have dubbed in the unofficial chief and staff -- chief of staff and he basically has, "a desk in the place, the Washington Post report.

KOMANDURI: Yes, and look, this should really give chills to every American the way Sean Hannity is going about this because basically if you think it 40 years ago, we had a conservative icon Barry Goldwater who was actually a person who went to Richard Nixon and said you have to go. And now 40 years later we have his reported ideological heir Sean Hannity and the House Freedom Caucus now willing to assist Donald Trump in his own Saturday Night Massacre but doing it on his best.

MELBER: In that spirit, let's take a look at Sean Hannity on Rod Rosenstein, Bill. Take a look.


HANNITY: Look at Rod Rosenstein, articles of impeachment drafted and the media is ignoring it. Did Rod Rosenstein have anything to do with signing off of the FISA warrants and lying to FISA Courts with information that was unverified and uncorroborated and paid for by Hillary Clinton --

MELBER: When you look at that in the context of what else is going on which is the questions for the by Mueller and Mike Flynn tonight having extra time before he gets sentenced or potentially goes to jail because 0f the information he's providing, do you see -- as someone who's worked in the White House, do you see this as a full meltdown or full canthi if you will or is this just more noise that would come on any given week?

BURTON: Well, I think in this case it's much more serious. Like, it's very rare that you talk about articles of impeachment being drawn up at any level inside the House of Representatives. The fact that this is happening now, you know, I wish we'd used this when George W. Bush was president to get some of the people who were working on his staff, on his cabinet out. But you know, at this -- here's the problem. As my friend points out, it takes courage in order for Republicans to stand up and say at some point this isn't right. And the only courage you've seen out of House Republicans these days, where they actually have some power over what happens at the White House, is Paul Ryan firing the chaplain for having a prayer about taxes and poor people. I mean, it's unfortunate that you don't have the kind of conservative icons who are willing to stand up and be strong even as they go off to retirement, as they go off into their next phase of life and actually say all this is wrong. Like we need to do something to stand up and stop this.

MELBER: Bill Burton and Chaitanya Komanduri on this story, thanks to both of you. I want to turn now to a related topic and report. With the mid- terms coming up, there are new questions swirling about what Bob Mueller will do about any new charges or potential public report as the Election Day approaches.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe that Director Mueller is mindful of the political calendar as he goes through and that the closer things gets to an election the more investigations can play an outsized role, fair or unfair?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I'm sure he knows all that. He's definitely attentive to the calendar and like all good prosecutors who wants to finish this quickly as he can.


MELBER: James Comey saying broadly that Mueller is attentive to the calendar. Now, the two men did once work together but it's unlikely that Bob Mueller as a prosecutor is telling Comey now a witness has plans for the case. We also know Cohen was --- excuse me, Comey was attentive to the calendar in his own way when he publicly revealed he was reopening that Clinton e-mail probe right smack in the middle of the 2016 election.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: We begin tonight by the breaking news some are calling an October surprise.

MELBER: Jim Comey may have been trying to do the right thing legally but has done it so poorly and so vaguely that practically it is a mess. I've never seen anything quite like this. That's why it's so concerning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think the FBI fully anticipated the kind of criticism they're getting, perhaps not the volume but they knew that would get criticized for this.


MELBER: One reason they knew they would get criticism back then was that Comey's move did appear to at least depart from Justice Department guidelines, the 2012 memo from the Attorney General who is the boss of all law enforcement from Comey to Mueller stated that officials should not select the timing or investigative steps to criminal charges that could affect an election. Now, many alleged that was at least the result of Comey's October surprise. Now, last night he argued and perhaps he has self-interest that there aren't any rules at all on action before Election Day.


COMEY: Despite what you've heard or heard, there aren't any rules around how we act in the run-up to an election. There's a norm. You avoid any action in the run-up to an election that might have an impact if you can. And so I'm sure he'll operate with that norm in mind. Now, whether what conduct that will drive it's hard to say.


MELBER: That's Comey talking about how Mueller will look towards these next mid-terms. Now, lawyers can obviously debate what that 2012 written guidelines means, it is also true, though, I can tell you that other prosecutors have made moves very close to an election. In 1992, a grand jury indictment in the Iran Contra case came out just days before Bill Clinton faced off against George H.W. Bush.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the final days of the campaign, the last thing George Bush needs is a reminder of the arms for hostages deal with Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A federal indictment to former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger places Bush at a key meeting.


MELBER: That was a huge deal. Nowadays, the key for Mueller is that he does have to follow those DOJ rules or norms if you want to call it that which would appear to include the 2012 memo because the rules that give Mueller his power which has extra independence still say he has to notify the Attorney General of key events in the probe. And since Sessions recused himself, that means Rod Rosenstein, which goes back to question of what Mueller would do if he's in a position to make major steps or file charges if the election approaches. You can imagine people on both sides having strong opinions on that. If he were to wait for example until after these mid-terms with a big charge, some would say, well, does that affect the vote in the opposite direction? These are quite tough questions and perhaps even the historical examples don't give anyone great guidance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What advice would you give him about coming out and saying something?

COMEY: It worked well for me.


MELBER: We'll find out who has the last laugh. Up next, we take a turn to an important different topic. Mark Zuckerberg on the resignation of a major Facebook insider leaving the company over its biggest problem.


MELBER: Mark Zuckerberg got credit from many people for his apology to Congress, but today he's finding out that didn't stem all the problems. The Facebook CEO making his first major public appearance since those hearings. And today Zuckerberg says this.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: This has been an intense year. I can't believe we're only four months in. We will make mistakes and they will have consequences and we will need to fix them. Security isn't a problem that you ever fully solve.


MELBER: A sign of some of that and how hard the problems are is a new Facebook board member resigning after disputes over people's privacy. Now, this isn't just any board member, it's the Founder and CEO of the company WhatsApp. That's the application that a billion people around the world use to make phone calls and communicate and he's leaving after "fights over Facebook's attempts to use personal data." Now, Facebook bought this company back in the day for $19 billion. That was over four years ago, compared that to Instagram which was only $1 billion. Now, the Founder has been an outspoken advocate for protecting privacy. And apparently, that has led to clashes within Facebook for years. In 2016, Facebook was pressuring WhatsApp to hand over its user's phone numbers for better- targeted ads. Executives also wanted to weaken WhatsApp privacy protections so that businesses could see people's messages that they thought were private. That's one of the big reasons people like WhatsApp. Those disputes were all a run-up to what has now become this fish sue today. Now, Zuckerberg did address the controversy by thanking the WhatsApp founder Jan Koum.


ZUCKERBERG: I just want to take a moment to thank Jan because Jan has done an amazing job building WhatsApp. He has been a tireless advocate for privacy and encryption. We have built the largest fully encrypted communication network in the world and this would not have the happened without Jan and I'm deeply grateful for the work that he has done.


MELBER: That is nice for as far as it goes, Zuckerberg thanking the WhatsApp founder for things that he is known for. The problem is, some of those are the very privacy protections that Facebook has lobbied and personally tried to weaken.


MELBER: We close tonight with an important piece of history. In Montgomery, Alabama, there is a new National Memorial for Peace and Justice and addresses the history of slavery and also commemorates the over 4,400 victims of racist lynchings. You think about all the talk about statues in America recently. These new statues show many of the innocent victim who had been scrubbed from southern history for too long. There are statues you see here of people shackled and a mother holding her baby, also chained at her feet. There's a bronze statue called raise up that shows victims attempting to surrender.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up in the '60s with colored and white water fountains at Montgomery Fair and I'm just so thrilled with the progress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen stuff in there that I've never ever could have imagined.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's American history. And so we all need to be involved and to learn and to own up to the shame of it all.


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