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Lawmakers ramp up the heat on Michael Cohen. TRANSCRIPT: 05/11/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Austin Evers, Cornell Belcher, Maya Wiley, Patrick Byas

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: May 11, 2018 Guest: Austin Evers, Cornell Belcher, Maya Wiley, Patrick Byas

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Steve. Thank you very much.

Breaking tonight, there is brand new reporting in the Bob Mueller is looking as literally the first day that Donald Trump took office and the inaugural ties that could lead back to Russia.

Also, the White House sticking by an aide who mocked John McCain is unimportant because he may, and I`m paraphrasing because he may die soon.

Also, a top Trump aide blasting immigrants for having no skills. We are going to deal (ph) in to why that story matters.

But we begin with something new. Corporate America tonight reeling from this Michael Cohen/Donald Trump scandal. Companies that were trying to buy political services to make their corporate lives easier are finding it is all back firing.

Tonight, the Senate asking for secret documents from the drug giant that had been plowing money into Cohen`s shell account. The CEO of AT&T says now that hiring Cohen was a mistake and a serious misjudgment.

But I want to tell you something right off the top. Whatever you think of Donald Trump or Michael Cohen, this is now also a story about corporate influence peddling and Wall Street deception.

The "Washington Post" has obtained what it says are the internal AT&T documents. Now AT&T hasn`t confirmed this. And they appear to show that the leadership of AT&T has known about all of this from the start in writing, with the numbers that Cohen`s role and his scope was defined and that he was working on literally the company`s biggest priority of the year, a giant merger acquisition of time warner.

So AT&T knew. And now tonight they claim this is a mistake after getting busted by of all people Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti what dropped this proverbial dime. Now this new evidence doesn`t state how much Donald Trump knew but anyone who covered Trump knows outside his family members his most trusted aide long before politics is Michael Cohen. Some people don`t like what they see when they look in the mirror.

The question is what do you do when that happens? Do you take that negative feeling when you are looking in the mirror and apply it to change yourself? Or do you try to spit it out at other people? Do you blame or accuse others of I don`t know the swampiness that may actually reside inside you.

Now you can probably see where I`m going with this. Here is Donald Trump`s new message. Same as the old one.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under my administration, we are fighting against the lobbyists, the special interests, and the corrupt Washington politics. You can send us Republicans like Mike Braun to drain the swamp.


MELBER: I am joined by attorney Maya Wiley, former counsel to the mayor of New York City and a former federal prosecutor Karen Loeffler. Thank you both for being here.

Maya, this is one of those things where corporations feel and determine they must admit wrongdoing. That is how bad this is. There was no three days of maybe we have every right to do this. There was immediately AT&T we messed up, this was wrong, this was a misjudgment. And yet thinking people, and we know many smart people are among our viewers, obviously know this is only because Avenatti ousted them.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Exactly. I mean, this is business as usual. There is actually nothing illegal about influence peddling, meaning we will give you money if you help us gain influence and access. There obviously may be some serious ethics violations for Michael Cohen in addition to what happened to that money and how did it get spent.

But at this point the real issue is that, you know, it`s the hypocrisy of the Trump administration. Right? If hypocrisy were a crime Trump would be serving a life sentence because his point about draining the swamp, take his executive order from January 2017 where he said, if you have been a lobbyist for a firm and you are being offered a position in government in which you are dealing with the same issues, you have to actually get a waiver to hold that position. And there are at least 30 cases that we know of where apparently that`s waivers were not given to people that they have appointed.

MELBER: Well, as you so often do, you put your finger right on it. And what Michael Cohen was doing, according to these new documents from AT&T, was helping them get a merger approved, which looks like lobbying.


MELBER: And to paraphrase a legal scholar you may be familiar with, you know, big pun famously said, I`m not a player, I just crush a lot, implying that he was actually doing the playing. And Michael Cohen`s position here seems to be I`m not a lobbyist, I just lobby a lot.

WILEY: I just influence. Well, remember, clearly the question is did he actually try to set up any meetings or have any meetings? And so there is still more information we have to get. But it`s really hard to imagine he was getting paid $1 million, $600,000, and --

MELBER: How do you lobby for the AT&T merger without lobbying?

WILEY: Well, you just give them advice about something you know nothing about. Apparently, what he was getting paid all that money to do. But, you know, at the same time, you know, the real question I think is, what did Trump know? It`s very, very hard to get a bribery charge now after the Supreme Court opinion after former Virginia governor McDonald.

MELBER: U.S. v McDonald, yes. We have been covering that on the show this week. And that, by the way, a unanimous decision.

Karen, take listen to Michael Cohen back in the day accusing people of exactly the problem this week.


MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP`S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: When you start talking about somebody since 2013 who has been successful in making over $26 million by special interest groups including Wall Street, the banks, and so on, that`s not somebody that`s on the side of the guy who is struggling.


MELBER: These tapes don`t make him look very consistent. And Karen, Maya mentioned that hypocrisy is frustrating but it`s not automatically a crime. What do you see as a prosecutor as the key exposure here?

KAREN LOEFFLER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, the issue is and Maya is absolutely right, if all Cohen was doing was running around saying, hey I know the President. I know the President. Give me lots of money and they did and there were no connections to Trump, then you have stuff that stinks. It is (INAUDIBLE) of just, you know, future swampiness, but it`s not a crime. The issue -- I mean, there aren`t a lot of good tools after the McDonald decision, after the skilling decision. For bribery you have to have a direct quid pro quo. For extortion --

MELBER: You are speaking about the ENRON prosecutions which Bob Mueller ran that task force. Tell us a little bit more about what you mean?

LOEFFLER: Well, what I meant is there was an -- the honest services fraud statute, which allowed you to -- it was used in a private situation not always for the government when you were violating your honest services by taking money. And it was cut back of it in the ENRON case when they reversed skilling`s prosecution.

And I`m just talking about that some of the tools for dressing corruption have been narrowed. When you are talking about Mr. Cohen`s situation, you are really talking about, did he have connections to public officials? There are lobbying statutes but they are very specific as to what lobbying is. There are issues about potential bribery or extortion but you have to have a direct quid pro quo for the bribery. And the definition of what official act was done in exchange for the money is pretty narrow after McDonald. And I don`t want to get in to all, you know, massive, massive technical issues. But there is a lot more facts that --.

MELBER: Why not, Karen? Karen, it is Friday night. You don`t want to give in to the --.

LOEFFLER: That`s what I am.

MELBER: It is Friday night. You don`t want to get in to the official acts doctrine there?

LOEFFLER: Well, no. You know, let`s face it. I`m a legal, legal. I have been prosecution for 30 years. So -- I mean, there is a (INAUDIBLE) which has to do with extortion. And that would require a demand let`s say from, for example, from Mr. Cohen saying, you know, give me this money or I will affect your business. And while we don`t -- in fairness, we don`t have information that such exists. It is, you know, obviously, Mueller knows a lot more we do.

For a bribe, you have to have a really direct quid pro quo these days. As in I will take this official act if you give me this money. And those are all fact-base determinations that you have -- that you have to have in order to prove those statutes.

Now, there are also -- there are statutes for mail and wire fraud which involve a scheme to defraud and taking money, although it is hard to show that the companies were, in any way, defrauded if they decided to just throw money in this guy because he said, hey, I know Trump.

So there is -- the connections to the administration in to the --.


MELBER: No obvious federal law at the companies just want to make it rain and throw a lot of money at the window in waste their money. I wonder whether there is a judiciary duty issue. But that is not criminal.

And you know, it is Friday night. So I`m going to keep us moving.

Karen, you bring us the details because of your many decades in federal law enforcement. Stay with us. Maya stays with us.

To add to the conversation for another angle, Austin Evers runs the watch dog group American Oversight and he is announcing tonight that they have a plan to get more of the secret information. What are you going to do?

AUSTIN EVERS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN OVERSIGHT: Thanks, Ari. A lot of people are pointing out that it is too soon to write this off as not bribery, not a scheme to the fraud. We need more facts. So we are at American oversight file foyer requests across the federal government to find out what kind of access Michael Cohen was able to get his clients.

DOD, we know that the Korean aerospace company was trying to get a contract there. Novartis, their stocks are skyrocketing today because Donald Trump backed off of his pledge to go after drug pricing. Everywhere that Michael Cohen`s clients were interested they seem to be winning. So we are going to pull out the documents that show meetings with public officials and these companies.

We already found one, by accident. We sued for the FCC chairman`s calendar last year, and we decided to check it today. And you know what we found out? One month after Michael Cohen was hired, the CEO of AT&T and the gentleman who was fired today met with SCC chairman pie in Barcelona for a private dinner. That`s pretty good access.

MELBER: So what does that mean?

EVERS: You know, when you are trying to prosecute one of these cases or if they are trying to make the moral case in the public, you need to know whether influence was actually peddle.

MELBER: Right. So let`s pause there. What you are really saying is the defense that`s expected from Cohen is everyone was wasting their money and he was lightly -- not fully defrauding just lightly misleading them that he could do more than he could. And you are saying if you get enough records, minutes, FEC meeting, merger planning, that you might find that he was actually was influential.

EVERS: Look. Michael Cohen might have thought Novartis was stupid and AT&T was stupid but they are not. They thought they were getting something for their money. And he might think we are stupid by believing him that, you know, he got all this money and did nothing. We are already finding evidence that the influence got them access. And the American public may have paid a price. Policies may have change because Michael Cohen was trading on his expertise which was having a, you know, one client shot.

MELBER: So in fairness, let me play the White House rebuttal to some of this from Sarah Huckabee Sanders. They started a little flat footed early in the week but they have developed a response to that. I would love to get Maya`s view on this as well. Take a listen.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think this further proves the White House is not going to be influenced by special interests is actually the definition of draining the swamp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definition of draining the swamp.

SANDERS: I think it`s pretty clear that the department of justice opposed the merger. And so, certainly, the President has not been influenced by any -- or his administration influenced by any outside special interests.



WILEY: I think that`s a very strong fact for the administration because remember, Donald Trump actually opposed the merger when he was a candidate. And as far as we know, he hasn`t changed his mind. We don`t know -- the department of justice may have made the decision without regard to any conversation with the White House. We just don`t know. But I think the point is at least from the optics, the public optics, they can say what influence peddling? We didn`t do what AT&T wanted.

I think it`s absolutely right. We have to know what Michael Cohen tried to do. And we have to know how this ends. Certainly if there was a change of decision, and how that decision got changed. We would want to know why. But I think it is a strong fact for the administration.

MELBER: You make a good point in all objectivity and fairness. And it also speaks to why AT&T may be rushing out these documents. In other words, if these are verified real things and they can show -- actually, we paid him for this thing and we didn`t win on it. AT&T getting out in front of their exposure even if Michael Cohen has other exposure as Karen was mentioning on wire fraud, et cetera. Go ahead.

WILEY: One other thing is that AT&T spend a huge amount of money on lobbying. They are one of the big spenders. And this -- what they spent with Michael Cohen is actually a small percentage of their overall dollars. Novartis spent a much higher percentage of their lobbying dollars. I think it was $9 million and they gave him over $1 million.

MELBER: That was a huge chunk.

WILEY: A huge chuck.

MELBER: Well, I mean, AT&T spends so much money on lobbyists they even hire people who are registered as lobbyists. It is a lobbyist registration joke. That`s how you know you are watching THE BEAT.

Maya Wiley, Karen Loeffler, and Austin Evers, thank you to everyone. Maya comes back for fallback Friday.

Coming up, we turn to reports that foreign donations at the Trump`s inaugural committee are now under the Bob Mueller scrutiny probe. Where did the money come from?

Also, Donald Trump`s chief of staff calling out immigrants in very blatant terms. And Democrats responding to Ralph Nader`s tough challenge to the party of the right here on THE BEAT.


RALPH NADER, ACTIVIST: Democratic Party stop scapegoating. Look in the mirror and ask yourself why you cannot landslide the worst, the most ignorant, the most corporate indentures the cruelest Republican Party in history.


MELBER: Ralph Nader was breathing fire last night. So hot, I even shaved after that interview.

All that plus fallback Friday tonight.

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


MELBER: Is Donald Trump loaded, broke or in debt? We don`t know.

You know the answer could actually explain his life, his choices, and this criminal investigation into his campaign and hid presidency.

Trump`s most loyal aide now under investigation, famously claimed that it was Donald Trump`s personal wealth that would protect against any paid pay to play schemes.


MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP`S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: No more promises, no more take advantage of the American people for my own pocket. Donald Trump doesn`t need that. He is plenty rich.


MELBER: Plenty rich.

But tonight it`s clear the question of financial desperation does loom over this investigation. Mueller may have a strong handle on the finances because he is believed to already have in his possession something Donald Trump refused to share with the public, unlike most modern candidates.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going the release your tax returns?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now I`m under routine audit. Nobody cares. I will release my tax returns against my lawyer`s wishes when she releases her 33,000 emails.

You know the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.


MELBER: An investigation like Mueller would typically subpoena Trump`s tax returns and Michael Cohen`s could be next. Tonight, meanwhile, there are new reports Mueller is not only probing money that went directly to those men but also other sources like Donald Trump`s inaugural committee which took in a record $107 million. The question is whether that money was linked to the Middle East or Russia.

Now here is the man who ran that committee, Trump`s booster Tom Barrack.


THOMAS BARRACK, TRUMP CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: Everybody would like to be close to the President and the President-elect. I think there is a spot for everybody. Of course he needs to put his own signature on the things that are important to him.


MELBER: Now were the spots for sale. Mueller`s team interviewed Barrack and we know Russian oligarchs attended Trump`s inauguration along with people you would think would want a low profile like the lawyer behind the Trump Tower meeting. She was at the inauguration. Viktor Vekselberg, used to funneling $500 million to Michael Cohen through his firm which Vekselberg denies. He was at the inauguration.

It continues. Take Vekselberg`s cousin who is implicated in the Cohen money trail plot. He was at the inauguration and added another quarter of a million dollars in donations to the inaugural committee.

I`m joined by a federal prosecutor who worked directly with Bob Mueller at DOJ, Guy Lewis and NBC`s intelligence reporter Ken Dilanian. Thanks to both of you for being here.

Ken, at a certain point it seems like a lot of people just happened to be at that inauguration.


And you know, one thing we know about the Mueller investigation is that at its heart it`s about improper influence. You know, did the Russians improperly influence the election campaign? And now it seems to be looking at whether the Russians, whether the United Arab Emirates for the Saudi Arabia was seeking to improperly influence the Trump administration. And how do you look at that? You look at the flow of money.

So apparently, Mueller is now asking questions about whether people linked to foreign governments donated to this inaugural. Now it is illegal for foreign donors to have directly donated. We have no evidence that that happened. But there are some people including Andrew Intrater who is related Mr. Vekselberg who donated $250,000 to the inaugural.

And so, apparently, that is now a subject of the Mueller investigation.

MELBER: Right. The flip side, and to be fair, guys. It`s not as if the inaugural fund is a, you know, a personal spending machine of the Trumps. It`s in the like they could take $10 million or $20 million or $26 millions of dollars from there and just give it to their friend, right.


MELBER: Unless -- wait a minute. Hold on. I have something right here. Hold on. Unless you count Melania Trump funneling $26 million to a firm controlled by Winston Wolkoff who not only a close ally but then -- directly worked for her government office. I guess you have to factor that in.

LEWIS: Ari, it`s always about the money. Any time we had an opportunity as federal prosecutors to subpoena tax returns, to subpoena financial records, follow the money, that`s what we were taught very early on. You can always bring cooperators in, people who -- like Flynn, like Papadopoulos -- all these guys who have pled guilty to -- but you really need a paper trail. You need corroboration to figure out how strong their testimony really is.

And that`s where I thought the weak points of this investigation always were. Bob Mueller is very, very good, Ari, at following the money. And I think that`s what they have been doing for months and months and months.


DILANIAN: Yes, I think the point you are raising about all of those millions of dollars funneled to a friend of the first lady is important though because it shows that there is a question about whether the money went. If there were improper donations --

MELBER: A question? I mean, look, man.

DILANIAN: You are right. It`s not a question where it went but a question whether that was appropriate. If in fact some of these donations were made for maligned purposes to influence, you know, this just didn`t go to buy ribbons and confetti here. This -- I think that`s a really important issue.

MELBER: And it looks like the potential -- I`ll say it because I appreciate how careful you are being. I try to be careful too. But on this one, it looks like the question of the potential defrauding of this spit that relates to the kickoff of the new administration a queasy governmental entity. Listen to Rachel Maddow on this, Guy.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The mystery that remains from day one of the Trump administration from the Trump inauguration is that it would seem just based on what it cost to produce the Obama inauguration and the size of the Trump one it would seem that the Trump inauguration likely has tens of millions of dollars left over. And adding to the mystery and the sense of intrigue around this they really can`t figure out what it is they want to say about what happened to all that money?


MELBER: I`m not just playing that because we love Rachel. Rachel was on this early, Guy, and it seems that so was Mueller.

LEWIS: Yes. And I think they are going to be able to get the answers that, really, Ari, you are raising -- to the questions that you are raising right now, where did the money go? Where did it go? Listen, bet your bottom dollar that AT&T didn`t cough up $600,000 because they liked Michael Cohen. Novartis didn`t cough up $1.2 million because they thought he was a sharp dresser. They are giving them money for a reason, for a purpose. Now whether that goes to Trump -- I haven`t seen that evidence yet.


LEWIS: But certainly they have got Cohen in the crosshairs. And they are trying to do, really, I think they are trying to do again, an old prosecutorial trick -- not a trick, a tactic. You investigate the lower guys on the totem pole, you flip then. Just like they are trying to do to Manafort. I think they are doing the same thing the Cohen.

MELBER: Real quick.

DILANIAN: We are gaga right now over the detail in these records, these payments from AT&T and Novartis to Michael Cohen because they have been made public. Imagine what Robert Mueller has.


DILANIAN: Assuming he has all of Donald Trump`s bank records, all of Michael Cohen`s bank records, presumably their tax returns. Imagine what he is sitting on and what it could tell us when it`s finally made public.

MELBER: Right. And essential consultants which is really -- should be known by what it really was essential consultant. Michael Cohen, audience of one. Is that the first and only time there has been a shell account set up or not? That`s another question Bob Mueller may already have the answer to.

Guy Lewis and Ken Dilanian, thank you so much.

Up ahead, it was just a year ago today that Trump said this Russia thing was behind the Comey firing. Why that moment matters in the investigation?

Also, Joe Biden saying decency in the White House has hit rock bottom and what Democrats are doing about all of that when we come back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: The other top story tonight, leadership. Joe Biden says decency in leadership in Donald Trump`s White House has hit bottom. A Trump aide reportedly saying that Senator McCain`s opposition to the CIA pick over torture doesn`t matter because quote "he is dying anyway."

White House spokesman Sanders was pressed on that today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the White House think you need to defend these remarks?

SANDERS: Again, I`m not going to validate a leak one way or the other out of an internal staff meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying she didn`t say this?

SANDERS: Again, I`m not going to validate a leaked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Kelly Sadler still work at this White House?

SANDERS: Yes, she does.


MELBER: There are crispier (ph) ways to condemn what was reportedly said. Meanwhile, John McCain`s daughter, Meghan McCain says she can`t believe it.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, SEN. MCCAIN`S DAUGHTER: I don`t understand what kind of environment you are working in when that would be acceptable and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job.


MELBER: Chief of staff John Kelly also under fire for new comments about undocumented immigrants.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The vast majority of people that move into the United States are not bad people. They are not criminals, not MS-13. But they are also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States. They are overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They are coming here for a reason. And I sympathize for the reason but the laws are the laws.


MELBER: If you listen closely, he managed to insult both the immigrants and Americans, the notion that we don`t have a lot of good rural places to assimilate into or a very rural country.

Then you have EPA administrator Scott Pruitt with the ethics violations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you still have confidence in administrator Pruitt. Mr. President?

TRUMP: Yes, I do. Thank you.


MELBER: So we have the Russia probe. You have the questions about decency. You have Trump`s approval steady with Republicans supporting him. And then you have the question of how do you take it all on. It was interesting in a conversation that spend several topics last night, the Ralph Nader who many Democrats have beef with, hammered Democrats back and issued this challenge.


NADER: I think the Democratic Party should take the third party agenda away from it. They should have a living wage, crack down on corporate crime, full Medicare for all. Democratic Party, stop scapegoating, look in the mirror, and ask yourself why you cannot landslide the worst, the most ignorant, the most corporate indentured, the cruelest Republican Party in history. Look in the mirror.


MELBER: A strong challenge to Democrats. And we turn to a prominent Democrat, political Pulitzer Cornell Belcher, has advised Barack Obama and knows his way around the DNC. Also Mike Murphy, an MSNBC political analyst who was a strategist for none other than John McCain.

Obviously, I will get to that beef in a second, Mr. Murphy.

But Cornell, your response to Ralph?

CORNELL BELCHER, PRESIDENT OBAMA`S FORMER ADVISER: I don`t -- I think it`s fair, right? I think if you look at Barack Obama`s back to back majorities, right, and we grew the electorate and we brought in a lot of young voters and they were Obama voters, right? And these young voters, these young, very divers voters, they were Obama voters, right? And they weren`t necessarily hard core Democrats. I think Democrats need to work harder at bringing these young voters in.

And when you look at what happened in 2016, Ari, and we`ve talked about this before, I make it -- I argue that it wasn`t so much that what Trump did it was what we failed to do, right? And if you look at the protest vote of those young people who once upon a time were Obama voters, who you know, six or eight percent of them breaking third party in most of the battleground states, that set Hillary Clinton`s losing margin, right?

MELBER: And it is -- so what is the Democrats` midterm message other than opposing Trump?

BELCHER: Well, that`s the thing, right? If you look at polling that I`ve been doing, you know, the check Trump message which is a strong message but it resonates mostly with core Democrat voters and voters who are with us already. When you look at younger voters, particularly millennials, particularly millennials of color, you know, fighting racism, stopping racial profiling, criminal justice reform, these are not secondary issue concerns, these are issue concerns that are in some cases trumping economic concerns. So I think Democrats have to mix their economics message also with something that shows the young people they are actually fighting for them.

MELBER: Mike your view on this issue?

MIKE MURPHY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, no -- I think that`s correct. What happens is very easy in politics to kind of go for the applause line with your base. So the Democrats get all the we don`t like Trump stuff for free. Trump gives them that gift every minute of every day. The question is can they do what they didn`t do. I agree with Cornell about this and resonate with people who want change in the political system because they got none of that with Hillary and middle-class economics, stagnant wages, health care, things like that. That`s normally where elections are won or lost and that`s where the Democrats need to learn to make some traction and they`ve been tone deaf to it.

MELBER: Your view of both the original reported comment that John McCain who you`ve worked for is going to die anyway so who cares about his vote in the Senate and then the White House`s lack of any accountability on it?

MURPHY: Well, you know, I`m deeply offended. John is a friend of mine. I worked with him on the Straight Talk Express in 2000, spent a lot of time with him. I have tremendous admiration for him as an American hero. Today is high blood pressure day for me. I mean, I -- the culture in this White House, the low bar for people. I mean, they should have fired the staffer yesterday and sent her back to Reverend Moon`s newspaper where they found her. And I can`t believe that there`s not an apology from the top and a new person in her job. But those are the new rules and ultimately Trump set the culture.

MELBER: The top -- yes, as you know -- as you know, to echo what you`re saying, sir, the tone is from the top because we have this you know, celebrity insult president. I wonder if we delve a little deeper. What do you think it is about John McCain, about his service, about his style, about his leadership, that seems to so threaten Donald Trump and the people around him?

MURPHY: Well, I think there are two thing. I think one, they have legitimate policy difference but it`s not in the Trump DNA to accept any difference as legitimate. So if you`re not with, you know, the leader, the boss, then you are a problem and you are going to be attacked childishly. But on other level, Trump is a bully. And if there`s one thing John McCain can`t stand and I spent enough time with him and admire this about him, he has no acceptance of bullies whatsoever. He among of a few Republicans have not been afraid to stand up to Trump and I think like all bullies, Trump can`t stand it.

So there`s definitely bad blood. But I think the moral contrast between the actions of President Trump as president and as a candidate and John McCain`s service to the country, it`s not a contest. It`s spitballs against a battleship and I think this behavior will be a stain on the White House for some time. They should have rectified it yesterday and it`s stunning that they rolled Sarah Sanders out there who normally can put the truth in a pretty good choke hold but to have her blase response was deeply insulting to me regardless of my affection for John McCain. You cannot accept this behavior from White House staff. That`s a job of honor and this is a dishonorable (INAUDIBLE) in many ways.

MELBER: And this -- and this -- as you say, White House staff, they just don`t work for Donald Trump, they are paid by us, the taxpayer. These are public positions. Cornell, one of the issues here is that the atrocious and the horrific gets slowly normalized and I think it`s part of all of our jobs to watch out for that. So I want to play again where the tone comes from, which was Donald Trump`s insult not just to Senator McCain but I think to anyone who`s served in uniform when he said this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a war hero. Five and a half years --

TRUMP: He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren`t captured, OK? I hate you tell you.


MELBER: Final thought, Cornell.

BELCHER: I think we the American people have to fix this, right? The truth of the matter is Donald Trump won with 46 percent. The people who voted for him, you know, these middle Americans, church-going people have to look themselves in the mirror and say is this what we want to represent our country? Only we can fix this.

MELBER: Great. Well -- I`m out of time, real quick, Mike.

MURPHY: The only time Donald Trump --

MELBER: I`m out of time, real quick, Mike.

MURPHY: OK. No -- I said the only beach Donald Trump has ever hit in his life with his bone spurs was at Studio 54. It`s repulsive for me that he would say something like that.

MELBER: I`m glad I gave extra time for a nice roasted burn here on a Friday. Rooted in fact, burned, rooted in fact. Mike Murphy and Cornell Belcher, thanks to both of you. I want to turn to our special guest Howard Fineman to talk about what happened right here a year ago.


TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.


MELBER: This Russia thing, Donald Trump`s infamous interview with NBC`s Lester Holt revealed that Russia by his own account was part of why he fired Comey. Six days after that interview, the goose began cooking because his own appointee, Rod Rosenstein appointed Bob Mueller. And to this day, Mueller wants to ask about that firing. Chief of Staff John Kelly revealing Trump is embarrassed by it.

JOHN KELLY, CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: There may not be a cloud but certainly the President is somewhat embarrassed frankly when world leaders come in, you know, Bibi Netanyahu is here and he who`s under investigation himself, and it`s like, you walk in and you know, the first couple of minutes of every conversation might revolve around that kind of thing.

MELBER: That`s tough on those two people both under investigation. Mike Pence meanwhile says it`s time to wrap it up.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: It`s been about a year since this investigation began. Our administration has provided over a million documents. We fully cooperated in it. In the interests of the country, I think it`s time to wrap it up.


MELBER: I`m joined by MSNBC`s Howard Fineman. Sir, that interview, was it an inflection point and what does it mean now?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it was the launch point. And I have wondered since and I`ve been wondering now why Donald Trump said what he said. It wasn`t accidental. I mean, I think we can conclude even from the Steele Dossier and other places that Donald Trump has some sort of deep almost sort of animal sense of danger and how to avoid it or how to work around it. What was he doing there?

And I think first of all he was sort of, as Chris Matthews said in his book "HARDBALL," he was hanging a lantern on his problem. He knew this was going to be a problem and he put it out there because that`s the strategy and that`s the kinds of strategy Donald Trump uses. In the law, you know, there is a term confession and avoidance. He`s saying OK, yes, maybe there was -- you know, I`m worried about that and was worries that, but so what, because it is a phony investigation. And then --

MELBER: Let me ask you on that --

FINEMAN: Yes, go ahead.

MELBER: Let me ask you -- is that also a product of a surging arrogant high.


MELBER: -- because he is telling the Russians in Oval Office and then he`s even telling them on T.V. and we know he loves talking on T.V., look what I did, I did it and he really maybe he did think the heat was off. He did not the guy he just installed, Rod Rosenstein who, as Trump points out was co-signing the letter to remove Comey was going to turn around and make Bob Mueller his permanent tormenter.

FINEMAN: Right. I think that`s right. I think you don`t use either of those first two tactics I mentioned unless you`re on some kind of ego high and think you can ride over it. And I think the third thing here, Ari, is as you have been saying and reporting earlier in the show, there`s so much now flowing that I`m sure Donald Trump knew about back then concerning the money, concerning the ties to Russia, concerning the real estate, concern Michael Cohen, you name it, that in a way I think he might have thought that collusion, the whole thing -- excuse me -- obstruction.

MELBER: Obstruction, yes.

FINEMAN: That obstruction was the least of his problems. I mean, those are the only things I can come up with, plus your ego trip thing as to why he did what he did. But it had the -- because he is a New York guy who`s used to rolling over people with ego-driven tactics in New York, because he didn`t understand Washington, and he didn`t understand federal investigations or federal investigators, that by saying what he said to Lester Holt, which had an element of bravado in it, was the very essence of the kind of obstruction that the Feds were going to be looking at and that`s where we are right now.

MELBER: Right, a very -- honestly, a very Kanye thing to do. Real quick, take a listen to him on Comey in the same interview.

LESTER HOLT, NBC HOST: Did you ask am I under investigation?

TRUMP: I actually asked him. Yes. I said, if it`s possible, will you let me know, am I under investigation? He said you are not under investigation.


MELBER: We`re almost out of time, Howard, final thought?

FINEMAN: That`s what Federal investigators say to somebody who is under investigation.

MELBER: True, and fair, Howard Fineman, thank you for being part of our coverage tonight.

FINEMAN: Thank you.

MELBER: Up ahead, a report on Michael Cohen`s secret business dealings and why those are causing so much heartburn at the White House. But it is Friday and you know what that means. It is time to fall back up next with Maya Wiley and more.


MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT. And that could only mean one thing. It`s time to "FALLBACK." With me, actor at Patrick Byas. He`s been in many shows you probably know like Chicago P.D., Blue Bloods, Law and Order SVU, some people say that`s the best law and order. And the upcoming film First Purge, coming out July 4th. Back with me, of course, my friend and Attorney Maya Wiley and Pollster Cornell Belcher joining us for "FALLBACK" as well. Maya, who needs to fall back?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Well, where should we begin? It`s been one of these weeks. So Senator Mike Shirkey from Michigan who has decided that not only people who are trying to take care of sick family members or other reasons if they are not able to work must work, he`s decided that that requirement to get Medicaid benefits should actually be exempted for largely white rural communities but black cities like Detroit and Flint should still have to work for those benefits. That`s called race discrimination.

MELBER: So he`s literally saying this is something against the cities and exempting rural areas.

WILEY: He has said that if it`s counties with 8.5 percent unemployment, which means -- you know, are exempt. That means places like Detroit that are in wealthy counties but are poor cities and largely Black don`t get the same benefit. It`s also sort of saying, well, when we said people should have to work, we really don`t think it`s good policy so we`ll just make the Black people --

MELBER: With so some people. That -- I think we do a double on that. I think that`s a fall back and a messed up. We need to get a --

WILEY: That`s a little bigger than messed up.

MELBER: Patrick, who else needs to fall back?

PATRICK BYAS, ACTOR: I`ll say that some of these artists in the music industry need to fall back.

MELBER: Who are you thinking of?

BYAS: These new artists Trippy Red and 69.

MELBER: Tekashi69

BYAS: Tekashi69. You know --

MELBER: This is the first Tekashi69 reference on THE BEAT. Go ahead, sir.

BYAS: You know, I respect -- first thing, I respect their grind and I respect their hustle and what they`re doing. But the thing is, I do not like how they be having so many guns and so many drugs and so many violence inside their music videos and it`s taking a toll on the young kids. Some of these kids, they look up to these -- to these people, to these artists and it`s just not a good look. Because what happens is these people, you know, they think that oh, I can be like this big time artist and now all of a sudden, now, they want to get a gun and all of a sudden, they want to start shooting and all of a sudden -- but it`s -- but these artists aren`t actually doing these things so I just think that it`s just all a bad look in --

MELBER: It`s interesting coming from you because as you know in the history, there were people who were seen as perhaps coming outside of the community of the conversation. Bill O`Reilly or some we see Steve Lawrence Tucker who Tupac would debate about, well, don`t pick on us from outside it tells us. It sounds to me like you`re coming more from inside and saying you want to support these music but you don`t want to see these negative violent images.

BYAS: Right, I do not want to see -- I don`t want to hear no one kid getting killed from the artists. I don`t want to see anyone hearing anybody getting robbed because of this artist is saying this and you know, and putting that in their music videos. I just think that these artists really need to understand how they have such a big influence on these kids.

MELBER: Right. I appreciate -- I appreciate you bringing that to the table especially given the proposition of gun violence. On a lighter note, I would ask, do you think Tekashi69 has too many tattoos?

BYAS: I mean, you know, the tattoos are cool. I even got a couple of tattoos. I wouldn`t get -- I wouldn`t put no tattoos on my face because I think it would hurt but I mean, it worked for him.

MELBER: Face tattoos are always a big choice.

BYAS: It is a big choice.

MELBER: Maya, do you have a position on that.

WILEY: I`m actually stuck on Oliver North who was talking about civil terrorism and comparing students in Parkland who have been fighting gun violence to terrorists. So I`m a little bit more focused there on where essentially someone who is a gun runner is actually attacking kids.

MELBER: It is really -- I mean, you are saying Oliver North should fall back. It is wild that Oliver North is getting this promotion.

WILEY: It is crazy. It`s crazy. Look, not only that. He using language like counter-punch for kids that have been traumatized who are literally in the process of trying to put together a yearbook in a year in which 17 of their classmates and teachers were killed by gun violence and comparing them actually to civil rights abuses and Jim Crow? It`s off the charts.

MELBER: Oh my gosh.

Wiley: And the -- and the man was running guns.

MELBER: He was a gun runner. Let me bring in Cornell as promised. Cornell, who needs to fall back on your list this week?

BELCHER: Well, those are two great "FALLBACKS." (INAUDIBLE) My fall back although Kelly Sadler is running nefarious with me now because she could get it as well. But my "FALLBACK" white people who are calling the police on black people for just doing random stuff, right? White people calling police on black people for falling asleep on dorms, for barbecuing in the park, for playing golf too slow, you all need to fall back and reassess your life and stop with the white privilege.

MELBER: And Maya, you worked in this field. You were involved in the Civilian Complaint Review Board about potential police misconduct in New York. What do these stories say to you because there`s obviously something differential in what`s even being phoned in?

WILEY: Yes, so obviously people shouldn`t be calling in on these kinds of cases. But once the police come in, they should understand that these are not cases that you arrest someone for.

MELBER: Right. That goes to police responsibility.

WILEY: This is -- we have to make a determination in our determinations. We don`t take these people to jail because they are just living their lives.

MELBER: Right, and so, we`re almost out of time. Cornell, I guess, do you know what the cross tab fave, unfaves are for Tekashi69? Do you know his favorabilities are? Is that something you polled?

BELCHER: No, but I certainly would like to put that poll in the field real soon, real soon.

MELBER: Real soon. All right, we covered as much ground as I think we could in a single segment. My special thanks to my special guests, Patrick Byas, Maya Wiley, Cornell Belcher. We`ll be right back with one more thing.


MELBER: There`s a lot of noise out there and a lot of hyperbole, but our reporting suggests, based on what we`ve learned this week, that there was an actual pivot point in the Trump investigation. It`s a revelation that his longtime loyal personal attorney was operating this secret slush fund. And this could really fundamentally reshape the understanding of where this story is headed. And you know, we`ve witnessed these kind of moments before. In the Watergate era, a former White House aide dropping this bombshell during a Senate hearing in July 1973.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?



MELBER: Can you imagine everyone in that moment finding out there might be tapes, that tapes existed. And we know what came after that, Nixon`s downfall. Now, it`s not always that dramatic, of course, but there was another turning point in the Reagan administration when the world learned about this plot, yes, another money trail from these arm sales to Iran that had been illegally diverted to the Contras.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House disclosures that up to $30 million paid for arms sent to Iran was secretly diverted to the Contra rebels has only deepened the crises confronting President Reagan.


MELBER: Now, the stakes are not always high. Sometimes it`s just about whether there is some evidence that will take you beyond conflicting accounts. In the investigations into Bill Clinton, which spanned many topics, it was that day that the rumors about a blue dress became public.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tests are underway on a navy blue cocktail dress, which Lewinsky turned over as evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- learned that Lewinsky claims the dress has physical evidence to support her claim that she had a sexual relationship with the President.


MELBER: All these cases are different, but they have one thing in common. Prosecution is not really about crime. Prosecution is almost always about evidence. Where is it? Who finds out about it? And who can use it? And that`s why this week`s disclosures of these secret money funds are so important. That does it for THE BEAT this week. I appreciate you watching. We will be right back


MELBER: Quite a week. That does it for us. I`ll see you back here Monday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews starts now.


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