Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: May 14, 2018 Guest: Ross Garber; Steve Kerrigan; Frank Rich; Mike Lupica; Eric Boehlert
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And both, when you think about, appear kind of out of Donald Trump`s control and both involve secrets who has them and who can keep them.
First, there are the leaks. "Axios" is reporting on how one of Trump`s biggest frustration comes from the people he hired, a barrage of leaks from these Trump officials that are up ending his priorities. One expert says, more leaks in a week from the Trump White House than other administration had in a year. Another pinning the problem on bad managers.
Other Trump aides, meanwhile, say that they are impersonating each other to avoid to getting caught. One aide oddly ratting out their own proverbial telling "Axios" to cover my tracks they use other staffer`s idioms when giving others quotes that throws the scent off me this person added. Or maybe threw the scent off you, and make it past tense, because I don`t think that trick will work at least work as well now that you have told everybody about it in that anonymous quote to "Axios."
Another staffer though likens this whole thing with the classic scene are reservoir dog saying working here is kind of like being in a never ending Mexican standoff. Everyone has guns, in another words leaks. And this person says those leaks or guns are pointed at each other and it is only quote "a matter of time before someone shoots and there`s rarely a peaceful conclusion, so you might as well shoot first." The implication there is squeeze first ask questions last and that is some also these so-called leakers pass.
Now, to the other story tonight, it is about the threat to Donald Trump which doesn`t leak much at all, Bob Mueller`s probe. And while Mueller`s people don`t leak form what we can tell, some of their subjects do. And that males this pretty interesting. Many sources giving new details for this rare look inside the grand jury room from the "Washington Post," for counting witnesses marching into a windowless room in a D.C. courthouse for Mueller`s team pushes people with polite yet aggressive questioning. The enterprise cast as secret and methodical.
The witnesses range from people in the center of the action like the Trump aide who stop Trump from trying to fire Mueller, White House counsel Don McGahn to some seemingly French figures like the 29-year-old assistant to Jared Kushner. And that is a window here through "the Washington Post" into the process that is secured bound 19 indictments and it`s not over.
So the picture that we get when you put these stories together tonight, is Mueller in control moving in silence while people in Trump`s orbit look more rattled and are leaking kind of all over the place.
So how does Donald Trump view these problems? Through television, of course.
The President who cast the homecoming of those Americans hostages has some kind of ratings play is now cited in this "Washington Post" report as bringing up the raid on Michael Cohen 20 times a day and repeatedly telling associates, he needs better TV lawyers to defend him in cable news.
Just consider for a moment the tragic frustration in that one sentence. Donald Trump who willed his way into the White House on television, now largely prevented from defending himself in television interviews, and certainly in journalistic televised interviews about Russia. It was of course his televised confession to Lester Holt that jumpstarted the whole Mueller probe exactly a year ago.
And it was even his recent meltdown on FOX news which was his first television interview of any kind of two months, they had the White House pushing out the very TV lawyer that Trump is now so unhappy with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would give myself an A- plus. Nobody has done what I have been able to do. Our justice department which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won`t. Our justice department should be looking at that kind of staff, not that nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion me and Russia.
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: It is now campaign money. No campaign finance violation. So they funnel the true law firm. Funnels the law firm and the President (INAUDIBLE).
Jared is a fine man, you know that. But men are, you know, disposable.
I`m not an expert on the facts yet. I`m getting there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Well, let`s bring in some experts on the fact. I have defense attorney Ross Garber who has represented three different Republican governors in impeachment proceedings and Bill Kistol, founder and editor- at-large for "the Weekly Standard.: And I will be joined in a moment by a few more journalists who are focused on this story.
Bill, your view of the proverbial secretive dichotomy into that I suggested here in our open.
BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER/EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: You know, I just come back to the Cohen raid always. Let`s just say such a decisive moment. It chose how close Mueller must be I think.
Cohen is Trump`s personal lawyer. He gets a warrant for a (INAUDIBLE) raid to -- for an emergency raid, the fact that they are great on Trump`s personal lawyer, what did he know? What was he scared that Cohen was going to destroy? I don`t believe that`s just trivial or not trivial. But that`s sort of tangential, you know, financial disclosure problems or campaign finance problems for Cohen himself or for Paul Manafort or anything like that.
So I think Trump knows that Mueller is getting close. I think he expects and I rather expect that Mueller will have a report as soon as we see such a report that would raise questions about Donald Trump that the House would at least have to look which is why I remain as we approach this first anniversary very concerned that Trump will think of all kinds of ways to get rid of Rosenstein, to curve Mueller`s investigation and so forth. He is on a political -- he is obviously been on sort of political warfare against the Mueller investigation for the last couple of months, intensified, I think, in the last few weeks.
ROSS GARBER, REPRESENTED THREE DIFFERENT GOVERNORS IN IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS: Yes. So this is actually the most maddening time I think for a public official or any public personality involved in the investigation. You don`t control the narrative and you also don`t know what the heck is going on. So what you are trying to do is read tea leaves, figure out what the scenario is, and then figure out if you can to get ahead of it. This is, you know --.
MELBER: Well, Ross, I got a tea leaf for you.
MELBER: Your personal attorney and long-time fixer has had his office raided, as Bill Kristol mentioned. He had 16 phones for God knows what purpose, and you are still dialing him when you know he is under that kind heat. Your campaign chairman has been indicted. Your deputy campaign chairman is cooperating. Your former national security official is cooperating. And they found the slush funds which links back to Russian oligarchs` funds that are so obviously connected to the Kremlin that they were sanction by your own administration, how about those tea leaves?
GARBER: Yes. Well, look. That`s a tea that you don`t want to drink. And that is part of the problem is the tea leaves look really bad. But the difficulty is, you can`t get ahead of it, you can`t seize on, you know, the big picture of what`s going on and get ahead of the story. And so, I think -- you can imagine being in the President`s position, being in the position of the folks around him, trying to figure out what all those pieces mean when they are put together and get ahead of the story.
And meanwhile, you know, as you mentioned at the top, you have got a bunch of great prosecutors, great agents, you know, sitting in windowless rooms with their heads down, you know, focused, focused, focused on putting together evidence. It is terrifying if you are on the other side of that. So what you are trying to do is, if you can, you know, figure out where these guys are going to be in the next three or four steps. And I think in part that`s what you are seeing with Rudy Giuliani, you know, in effort. And frankly, it didn`t that it worked very well to see to it jump -- leap frog a little bit and get ahead of the story a little bit.
MELBER: No. It didn`t work super well. I mean, that is Donald Trump doesn`t figure that well in television (INAUDIBLE) according to "Washington Post" tonight.
Bill, to extend Ross` tea analogy, the same chamomile. I mean, this is something stronger that might keep you up at night. Let me read from, again this reporting, most investigators have detained the lawyer with ties to Russia, who is associated with Joseph Mitzu, the shattered (ph) professor who claimed during election that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Again, not to make it too much of a spy novel, but you know, when we interviewed one of women who was then an intermediary to him, then fiance of George Papadopoulos, we talked about the fact that Mitzu has disappeared and no one knows where he is on earth right now. But apparently, Mueller`s folks here are tracking his associates, Bill.
KRISTOL: Yes. I mean, of course, Trump knows what he did, right? And Trump knows whether he did or didn`t know at the time about the Trump tower meeting. Trump knows about conversations that he had with Jared Kushner, with his own daughter and with Manafort and those people we presume will have to testify in those conversations.
So for me, it is always been the case. If Trump thinks he is innocent, he will be unhappy and no one likes being under investigation. But he will sort of ride it out. If Trump thinks he is not so innocent, I have got to think he will think at some point that it`s less risky for him to try to somehow curb, limit or abort the investigation than let it go forward to win.
MELBER: Right. And that`s the window into how he is acting.
Both of you stay with me. I want to add to our reporting Betsy Woodruff who has been covering the Mueller probe day in and day out at "Daily Beast" and the "Wall Street Journal`s" Shelby Holliday.
Betsy, dealer`s choice on these issues, go ahead.
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: It`s a great question. There is so much to talk about.
One thing that I think is really important is that when we are talking about the length that this probe is taking and the complaints that have come from the White House about Mueller himself, it is interesting because the President`s own legal team seems to be at least dragging their feet when it comes to deciding whether or not to let Trump sit down for an interview with Mueller. That, of course, would be a key part of how they determine whether or not they make the final assessment as to questions of obstruction of justice.
Jay Sekulow, one of the President`s personal lawyers told me on the record of late last week that they still have yet to make a decision. They haven`t even decided even though they have been in talks with Mueller`s team, with his prosecutors and investigators for weeks and weeks and weeks now. So it`s a curious criticism coming from the White House, and it suggest they are really gasping for straws as to ways to go after Mueller and his team.
MELBER: And Shelby, the other part of this is what Michael Cohen thought he was doing. I want to read from some more of the reporting. When you consider again that he is a lawyer and then he says, Cohen began discussing the Brody, a venture capitalist who helped raised money for Trump, the possibility of going to the foreign consulting business, he proposed pitching foreign governments including from the Middle East and Asia.
Normal people might say, OK, yes, get your money where you can. But if you are literally a lawyer for the President.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Right.
MELBER: You need to go register as a foreign lobbyist. Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort have criminal exposure under the foreign agents registration act. I don`t expect everybody to be included on that. But wouldn`t Michael Cohen -- I mean, at certain point, it goes beyond reckless and looks like also just really stupid.
HOLLIDAY: Well, that`s a great point. And actually, the foreign agent`s registration act is this very obscure. We didn`t talk about on television until this year, when a lot of Trump`s associates got in hot water for that.
MELBER: I don`t remember -- as a legal reporter, I don`t remember ever talking about it.
HOLLIDAY: Right. And this is just one example of the missteps that some of the people or the some of the kind of playing with fire around Farrah in the Trump administration. And even before Trump was president. A lot of people got in trouble for this.
I think with respect to the business dealings, he was just looking to make money, whether it was foreign governments, with major Fortune 500 companies. We had a great story talking about how he pitch Uber over and over and over. And Uber said, hey man, you have taxi medallions. This is conflict of interest. We can`t jump into business with you. But he nevertheless aggressively pitched hiss services as the person who is closest to the President.
MELBER: have you been able to ascertain many stars he has on Uber?
HOLLIDAY: I have no idea how many. I don`t even know if he even takes Uber. He had been getting into taxi when you see him, you know, as paparazzi videos.
MELBER: Because I don`t want to speculate recklessly, Bill Kristol, but I could see him dipping below four-five.
HOLLIDAY: That`s harsh.
KRISTOL: No one does four or five on Uber. It is like the range of outcomes was four, eight to five hour.
MELBER: Bill Kristol (INAUDIBLE).
KRISTOL: There is a lot of great inflation on Uber, I`m just saying.
HOLLIDAY: Are you a back seat driver, Bill?
MELBER: No. Bill, there are people under 4.8, for sure.
KRISTOL: OK. Well, I`m just, you know, when you are a well behaved passenger, you get those high ratings, Ari. I don`t know what you guys are doing here.
MELBER: Wait times can drag it down if we are getting into it.
But Bill Kristol, when you look at Michael Cohen, do you see the best defense left is yes, he was greedy and stupid. But it was personally greed because that would look a lot better than the idea of, I don`t think most greedy in New York lawyers get involved or have the access to get high payouts from Russian linked funds for doing -- and again, my job is to report what I know. What we know is for doing basically nothing, in other words a lot of no work based on their own defenses.
KRISTOL: It was Cohen in sort of the sparring to be the sleazy and well- paid and well compensated lobbyist. Was he careless about fire? That would be one set of things. Or did he do things for Donald Trump that arguably were legal, consistent obstruction of justice, and so forth. I come back -- dint Trump call him the day after his office --?
Trump seems very concerned about what was discovered in Michael Cohen`s office, more than the normal fraternal concern you would have for some friend of yours who might be going through times. So I think his concern was about himself, not about Michael Cohen.
MELBER: And likely round on the question that Betsy tea up starting with Ross who has represented people in this similar situation, ultimately as a legal matter, would you advise Donald Trump to testify? Starting with Ross.
GARBER: Yes, look. Absolutely no way. And not -- look, Donald Trump is not just any client, he is a client -- he is a man who is used to being on TV. He is used to selling things. He is used to being an executive. He is not used to parsing his words. And so I think putting him in a room with federal prosecutors and agents would not be the best idea at all.
WOODRUFF: There`s not a lawyer in the country who would suggest that it will make sense for Trump to sit down for ab interview with Bob Mueller. And you will find zero lawyers to say that.
MELBER: Zero? Bill and then Shelby.
KRISTOL: Yes. I think it is always been disinformation from the Trump White House, Trump would like to do it and makes seems like he has nothing to hide. But I don`t think he wants to and I don`t think he wants to and I think he will.
HOLLIDAY: As a journalist, I think he should. I would love it. I think he said so many different things to all the reporters around him. I t would be great to jus have him have to tell the truth.
MELBER: My thanks to the entire panel. Thank you for being on THE BEAT tonight.
Coming up, though, we do have new questions about where the foreign money leads into the inauguration. Exclusive analysis from actually the head of Obama`s inaugural committee who joins me live.
Also, what are Trump and Sean Hannity talking about before bed every night? There is a new report that shed some light on that.
And a special look at the fixer of all fixers, columnist Frank Rich makes his debut on THE BEAT tonight.
I`m Ari Melber and we will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I look very much forward to the inauguration. It`s going to be a beautiful event. We have great talent, tremendous talent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Bob Mueller now probing the foreign donations that went into Donald Trump`s inauguration. And that includes money linked to Russia. In a moment, I`m going to get exclusive analysis from the Obama inaugural committee president on this new controversy at the first day of the Trump presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These events are going on all over the city. We are having a lot of fun tonight. And I want to tell you what a day it`s been. First of all, did you hear the speech today? What was supposed to be rain, turned out not to be rain, it was beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, we do know $26 million were routed to a very close friend of Melania Trump. And that her work only started a few weeks before. So it was well compensated.
Meanwhile, key members of the Russian elite attended the inauguration. That included oligarchs like Viktor Vekselberg who has been questioned by Mueller`s team. And his firm put all that money in Michael Cohen`s slush fund.
Another executive from Russia, Alexi Repik (ph) got close enough to take this selfies while Trump was speaking and posed with photos with future Trump cabinet members like CIA chief Mike Pompeo.
Back home, though, well, there`s the conduit. He would have one-on-ones with none other than Vladimir Putin himself.
I`m joined now for the exclusive interview, Steve Kerrigan, president and CEO of Obama`s 2013 inaugural committee.
Thanks for being part of our coverage on THE BEAT, Steve.
STEVE KERRIGAN, PRESIDENT/CEO, OBAMA 2013 INAUGURAL: It is my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Ari.
MELBER: The photos look bad, but give us your view having worked on one of these things, is this a thing that looks as bad as it looks or is it a thing where a ton of important people from all over the world flock to the inaugural no matter whose inaugural it is because they want to be close to the American president and that is business as usual.
KERRIGAN: Sure. Look. If the inauguration is a unique thing to sort of American culture, but particularly in running the last two Democratic inaugurals, we are very particular to make sure that the folks who are in arm`s reach of President Obama or even after an event or any of the cabinet members or senior members of the administration, that they were vetted carefully and they made sure that they pass the snap test. And frankly, with the folks that for these events and the proximity that they got with their tickets and their access, that wouldn`t certainly be something we saw in 2009 or 2013.
MELBER: What do you think of the 26 million going into such a close friend of the Trumps?
KERRIGAN: It is a great pay, I tell you. It is literally -- I think it`s probably four-and-a-half times what our entire staff got in 2009 for planning. That`s 450 people. So we had total payroll of about $6 million.
MELBER: You are saying that the $26 million that was wired basically to Melania Trump`s friend was more than the entire amount he spent of 450 staff that pulled out your entire inaugural?
KERRIGAN: Sure. And the actual largest inauguration in history in 2009 wherein 450 people. I think our payroll is about $6.5 million.
MELBER: Now, are you just taking a shot at Sean Spicer on the way -- the actual largest -- we are -- that`s not what the segment is about. We are not doing crowd size tonight, man. We did that already and Melissa McCarthy did it. It`s done. It`s done.
But I do want to know if you think that, is that, does that show terrible mismanagement and inefficiency or is there something suspicious there? Because the big question about the 26 mil, and I mentioned this on our show because we like to give credit, Rachel Maddow was the first people who really hammer this months ago was that looked so large as to be suspicious.
KERRIGAN: It is. I mean, they either totally mismanaged the $107 million that they -- that they raised or they treated this as it can be treated, frankly, because of the loose transparency requirement are added as an opportunity to have a slush fund. I mean, this guy got elected President with a --
MELBER: To you, it looks like a slush fund?
KERRIGAN: Or incredibly bad management. But there has not even proof on how they spent -- they are like $30 million shy and telling us how they spent it. So that $26 million, I know they paid a lot of different production companies to come in and do a lot of different scenarios for the president-elect, but it takes a lot of work to add up to $26 million.
MELBER: Now, I told you we weren`t doing crowd sizes, but the producers of THE BEAT they do have, one thing we are going to put on the screen regarding budget size, is wallet sizes, you mentioned the actual largest, you guys pulled off the $55 million and it was by most accounts a well done event. And here it is. They spent $107 million.
And I will tell you what is striking about that from my reporting and then give you the final word. When I covered Donald Trump`s campaign, it was notoriously cheap. And the nicest thing you can say about that is that he won on a cheap budget. And in business, that`s considered high return on investment.
The meanest thing you can say is he didn`t care about it and he wasn`t trying to win, and there has been a lot of reporting to that end, what does that tell you that he was not as cheap with the inaugural funds where they have so much more control sending back to their friends as he was during the actual campaign?
KERRIGAN: Because of that control they had. They had an opportunity to take this really unfettered amount of money, that really, we just have to - - you don`t have to do the reporting. You have to do with the FEC. And so they were able to skirt all the transparency laws. And so, he was able to send everybody to Trump hotels. Pay all of these people huge amounts of money and really, frankly, pay out of the pockets of folks who were given to the inaugural fund that didn`t give to his campaign.
I mean, you said it. He ran a very (INAUDIBLE) campaign outside the Republican tradition. But they made up for it on the back end by giving over $100 million to an inaugural committee for inauguration that could have been done for maybe $25 million or $30 million.
MELBER: Right. As the old saying goes, make money, money go shopping.
Steve Kerrigan, thank you for giving us your reporting and analysis on THE BEAT.
KERRIGAN: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
MELBER: Up ahead, we look at the issue of the new chief of staff, Sean Hannity. Why does Trump talk to him every single night?
But first, the Mueller investigation and the Roy Cohn factor in Donald Trump`s legal mess, Emmy award winning writer, New York magazine`s Frank Rich is here with me live when we are look after 60 seconds.
MELBER: Our other top story tonight, the man who inspired Donald Trump and why critics say this man`s disgusting amorality continues to infect American politics today.
My special guest for this report, an Emmy award winning writer, making his first appearance on THE BEAT, New York magazine`s Frank Rich. He has tackled politics and feeder for the "New York Times." He is a producer for HBO`s "Veep." His latest cover story in New York Magazine profiles the endurance of Roy Cohn, literally led the red scare McCarthy hearing as chief council for Senator Joe McCarthy and worked at the intersection of the mafia, New York night light and a wide cast of highly questionable characters. Cohn was a lawyer accused of basically working side of the law.
Rich writes about his indictments and scandals including accusations of banks and securities law violations, perennial tax evasion, bribery, extortion, theft. Cohn was charged and acquitted to five different crimes. He was ultimately disbarred for his conduct. He is considered both infamous and something of a legend, a character and angels in America. And anyone familiar with New York`s underworld can detect and hint of Cohn in the question that arises in so many crime stories do criminals want a lawyer to defend them or to help them be criminals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously, when the going gets tough, you don`t want a criminal lawyer, right, you want a criminal lawyer. You know what I`m saying?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Know what I`m saying? Consider that as the context of a 26-year- old Donald Trump who linked up Cohn and chose him as the lawyer and enforcer in New York. Trump literally carried a picture of him in his pocket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He reached behind his desk and pulled out a picture of Roy Cohn and asked everybody in the room, do you know who this is? Roy Cohn. Well, Roy is my attorney. Nobody wants to face Roy Cohn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conclusion. To build the largest concrete structure in New York City, turn again to Roy Cohn. Cohn is also the lawyer for the New York prime boss who controls the concrete business. Payoffs from contractors are dropped off at Cohn`s office so he may get paid twice for his services here. But then you get who you pay for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But it is all just history. Cohen is dead. But Frank Rich argues his scurrilous mindset is alive. And the Trump era is testing our ability to comeback gutter (ph) fighters especially when it feels like maybe their approach is successful.
Rich quotes Cohn`s imagined dialogue in the playing just in America where he says, was it legal? F-legal, am I a nice man? F-nice. They say terrible things about me in the nation, F-the nation. Do you want to be nice or do you want to be effective?
Frank Rich, joins me now. I`m honored to have you at the table.
FRANK RICH, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: If the Cohn-Trump playbook is effective, does that mean more people mimic it and how should society deal with that?
RICH: Well, it can be effective. And one thing to remember about Cohn was -- he wasn`t been much of a lawyer, he was a bomb thrower. He was someone who would, you know, stole, duels, countersuits and everything to keep justice from happening and law from taking its course.
We may have stop it, really it takes place largely in the city, because one of the points of my pieces is that Roy Cohn and Donald Trump were nurtured by New York establishment including people in the media, liberals, Democrats, as well as Republicans and conservatives who like this kind of fixer, who likes someone who can get them Yankee tickets or get the right concrete company to build the skyscraper or fix something at city hall, a tax abatement for a real estate development.
And one of the interesting things about both these guys is that they were helped by places like "New York Times," "60 minutes" in the case of Roy Cohn and all sorts of political officials regardless of political parties.
MELBER: That`s such an important thread in your piece. That there is plenty of evil around, but the evil that tries usually does so with a lot of accommodation.
MELBER: And you say Vichy (ph) Democrats, reading from you, Vichy Democrats gained power and consolidated it with the help of the allies among the elites of New York`s often nominally democratic and liberal establishment. And because you are so theatrical, allow me to try to keep up with you. It`s reminisce of when the joker tells Batman in the Dark Knight series, yes, sure, you are good. But you are only as good as you are allowed to be. And he talked about how the elites of the city of Gotham, don`t go along with what they need to go along.
RICH: I think that`s exactly right. I think that that rings a cord or touches a cord because there is a lot of Gotham, that Gotham in the actual Gotham. And people -- there`s a favors bank and unofficial favors bank, and people you know, they`ll tolerate terrible behavior from a Cohn or Trump, anti-social behavior, vulgarity, you name it, outlaw behaviour even, if they can get something for it and it`s constantly favors being traded back and forth.
MELBER: Cohn talked about being proud of Trump, let`s take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all know Donald for such a long time. I`m so proud of him, aren`t you?
ROY COHN, ATTORNEY: Yes, when you think back, Nikki, the way you and I knew Donald when, and there`s so many great moments in his life, tonight is the opening and probably the most important building in the world, marble, water falls it sort of restores your faith in the fact that progress, that free enterprise is not that at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RICH: Now, that`s creepy. Yes, so this was the early 1980s and you know, Roy Cohn had been a has-been in America. After the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, he and McCarthy were in ruins. McCarthy soon died of alcoholism, yet Cohn staged a comeback in New York City, so here we are, 25 or more years later, after Army-McCarthy and he`s you know, the bell of the ball and the host of the festivities.
MELBER: One of the things that striking about him and we`re looking at more of this footage, of the kind of person he was, and he was a real gangster type. And I don`t use that word loosely, and he represents gangsters, but he also had that persona, which was not, we`re going to file a motion, sir, that may delay your process. No, it was much more than that and that`s -- there`s record evidence of that. I want to play for you the way though that part of what he did was say, I`ll wait in court when I can, and I`ll win out of court the rest of the time, so I win either way. So get the hell out of my face, which is what Donald Trump reportedly said he liked about him. Here he was describing one of the legal victories where they did go up against the city on behalf of Trump and won.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes you can fight city hall, I believe you can fight city hall and we both fought it together and got a $74million Trump Tower tax abatement which the city refuse to give us by going to the highest court in the state which decided 7-0 in our favor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: If Trump learned all that from him, and it`s working thus far, then what do you see, not that your job is to give actual advice but what do you see as the counter punch. I would just submit for consideration that Roy Cohn`s misdeed did ultimately catch up with him. He was disbarred. He did end his life in disrepute.
RICH: Yes, and I feel pretty strongly that`s going to Donald Trump. It`s a slow process. It`s not an immediate process. I don`t think it`s going to happen through impeachment, I think it`s going to happen one way or another through the rule of law. He just too entangled himself and we have to wait, but I do believe the rule of law will triumph over Trump, as ultimately it did over Roy Cohn even though both of these guys had many powerful allies to help them do their stuff.
MELBER: Is working on Veep harder than writing articles?
RICH: No, it`s a lot of fun and it`s totally different but I love both of them, but Veep, you know, it`s putting on a show, and it`s fiction, so you can make up anything you want, you don`t have to say the name Donald Trump on Veep.
MELBER: Well, I`ll tell you, fiction is one thing that`s why we find fake news exhausting because you have to make it all from scratch.
RICH: I know, I don`t know how you --
MELBER: I would rather work with facts, but the fake news part, it just takes time.
RICH: I know. You understand how we are up afar from Veep.
MELBER: Frank Rich, I really appreciate you coming on THE BEAT for the first time. We hope to get you back when your schedule allows. Up ahead we turn to the Hannity connection. Who is running the White House and why do they talk before bed? And later, a special report, I have a new comment from, yes, Rodger stone, that`s later tonight.
MELBER: Donald Trump has the highest staff turnover in the history of the American presidency, but as the saying goes, you know this man, we all know him by now. One thing is new tonight though is signs that instead of formally replacing some of these top advisers who keep leaving, Trump is just relying on new people without ever actually hiring them. This report that Trump doesn`t just rely on Sean Hannity`s show for input, but every single night after it goes off the air, the two talk by phone right before bed. The New York Magazine reporting they also speak several times a day. And here`s the kicker, it says Trump`s basically replaced former White House Steve Bannon, with Hannity, he just doesn`t have a desk yet. Now, Trump and Hannity also hit the same policy points in public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Your communities are being hurt because of illegal immigrants, crimes, and drugs that are coming across the border.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will get the criminals out, the drug lords, the gang members, we`re getting them out. ObamaCare was one of the biggest broken promises in the history of politics.
HANNITY: ObamaCare itself is a single fundamental massive, big government failure.
When it comes to recognizing the violence that took place, and both sides were involved in the fighting.
TRUMP: I think there`s blame on both sides.
For people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, I think is disgraceful.
HANNITY: Americans don`t want to see the flag and the national anthem disrespected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by Eric Boehlert, a Senior Writer at Shareblue Media who has long-running beef with Fox News, let`s just disclose that, as well as the New York Daily News` Mike Lupica. Mike, what do you see here?
MIKE LUPICA, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I just read Olivia Nuzzi piece in New York Magazine about the bromance --
MELBER: So you`re reading the article as we interview you about?
LUPICA: And --
MELBER: You read then before you come on the show?
LUPICA: And to quote -- and to quote your man T-Pain, we are chocked and screwed. If -- yes, that`s right, that`s what I`m talking about.
MELBER: But you`re prepared, I like that.
LUPICA: No, but if vice president Hannity has this much influence with the President, we`re in worse trouble than I thought. But don`t you -- don`t you like the idea of them kind of chopping it up at night like a couple of high school sophomores, did my hair look good? How -- you know, how did you like my closing comments tonight? And how do you like what I said about immigrants today? Destiny brought this guys together. Destiny brought them together. It was inevitable that they would be in each other`s orbit to the extent that they are now.
MELBER: Well, because the line such as ever existed there between conservative political structure and the corporate Fox News structure has completely dissolved, right? The question is whether this means that they`re more focused on content than substance reading from the report which by the way, I don`t know if you heard this, Mike read this article.
LUPICA: I`m trying to prepare for the show.
MELBER: It says White House staffer aware about the calls because the President will enter the room and say I just hung up with Hannity, or refer what Hannity said or ringing Hannity up from his desk while White House staffers still in the room.
ERIC BOEHLERT, SENIOR WRITER, SHAREBLUE MEDIA: Right. Presidents are normally surrounded by experts in their field, right? We have previous reporting, we know he`s called Hannity about the Nuclear Arms Deal, about Nunes Memo, about national security. Presidents usually don`t turn to a.m. talk show hosts to get all of their national security. And do you think these guys were talking on secure lines, right? They`re spilling secrets?
MELBER: I hope all -- I hope -- the White House side of the lines should be secure.
BOEHLERT: But I mean, you know, there`s no protection here. I mean, Hannity is just going off you know, nonstop with him. And --
MELBER: Let me push -- let me push you because you were -- you were what is known in the business a Hannity hater.
MELBER: OK. What if this is just the fact that you don`t like this particular person. What if it was, I just want to -- I`m going to pick a name, I don`t want to -- I`m just going to pick a name, I don`t want people get upset whoever you pick, but what if it was (INAUDIBLE), a respected member of the media, a writer and author and talking all the time to this or any president. Would that be so bad? Can you pinpoint for viewers whether they agree with you or not that Sean Hannity has problems? Why this is bad?
BOEHLERT: It`s bad -- look, JFK used to talk to a Washington Post Columnist of the record, New York Times Columnist. It was kind of a source of information, you bounced thing off them. Talking to Sean Hannity is entirely different.
MELBER: Because, because?
BOEHLERT: Sean Hannity was pushing the Seth Rich conspiracy theory since Trump -- you know, after Trump was elected. This is that awful story about the young D.C. staffer who was murdered. Fox News dragged this poor kid through the mud. His family is suing Fox News. It was so disgusting. Sean Hannity --
MELBER: We had -- we had one of that lawyers involved now in the show. So your point -- I just want to be clear though.
BOEHLERT: Sean Hannity was pushing that all the time.
MELBER: What you`re saying is --
BOEHLERT: He doesn`t know and he`s not --
MELBER: It`s not that you disagree with his ideology, it`s that he is an unreliable liar. Is that what you`re saying?
BOEHLERT: Pathological liar, an awful person. I think Republican Presidents in the past have talked to conservative columnists the way JFK might have, I don`t think it`s a great idea if you`re in the media to be talking to a president regularly. We`re talking multiple times -- multiple times a day.
MELBER: I`m just pushing this reporter, (INAUDIBLE). Let me show a little bit for your analysis, the other piece is, and this is funny because Donald Trump is the President now, but he seems to want to almost suck up to Hannity like he thinks it`s cool they talk so much. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just did Sean Hannity.
Another one on Monday with Sean Hannity.
I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity.
Tonight it`s Hannity who is a really nice guy.
And now we have Sean Hannity. Where is Sean? Come one Sean.
You have to watch Sean Hannity.
Actually with Sean Hannity last night.
And Hannity is the great -- he`s a friendly guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUPICA: It`s a different kind of preamble to a different kind of constitution. We the people of Fox News to form a more perfect union. The perfect union turns out to be the President of the United States and Sean Hannity telling each other what they want to hear. I was thinking about this today. What if you only got your news from Fox News? What if your vision of this, where it is right now, was a constant loop of what you`re told, especially at night by the pundits? And I -- and I use that word --
MELBER: By at night, you mean right before bed?
LUPICA: Yes, right before he gets on the phone and they talk -- they talk about their day and because, you would think they would be doing that with their wives, but apparently this is a different level of bromance.
BOEHLERT: And again, you know, presidents are supposed to be seeking counsel, serious counsel, he`s gotten rid of McMaster, he`s gotten rid of Rex Tillerson, he`s gotten rid of people who aren`t essentially sycophant, and that`s not good enough. He still needs to reach out to a cable T.V. host, an A.M. talk show host to get -- and it`s just this bubble. It`s just regurgitation. You were great, I was great, Mueller is awful, what we going to do? He`s looking for a shoulder to whine on, every day?
LUPICA: Several times a day. This is just crazy.
BOEHLERT: And you know, that New York piece suggest you know, Hannity is the leader of the kitchen cabinet. I mean, who else is in that cabinet, Alex Jones? I mean, where are we going with this? It`s a complete humiliation for the Republican Party to stand by and watch this happen to their administration, but they spent past humiliation a long time ago.
MELBER: And as you say, I think the more fundamental thing is not about ideology, but whether if as alleged, this are actual top advisers and they`re not trained, they`re not answerable, not accountable to the American public, and yet this is American on the line, American treasure on the line. That`s one of the big issue. Eric Boehlert and Mike Lupica, thank you both. Ahead, I turn to a special report on the coordinated attack on Trump`s political enemies with new reporting from Roger Stone and Randy Credico next.
MELBER: Now we turn to some new disclosures that offer a window into how closely the Trump world coordinates it`s potential attacks on law enforcement. Now, while this somewhat relevant to the Mueller the story actually focuses on the recently ousted Democratic Attorney General of New York who had battled with Trump but was separately expose for allegations of horrific repeated domestic abuse. And just about everyone agrees, that man Eric Schneiderman should be out of office and held accountable for those accusations against him. Some are asking how it took so long for that particular story to break. But the New Yorker detailed that Schneiderman own threats against this women accusers clearly a count for part of the delay. Now the Los Angeles Times is reporting none other than yes, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was allegedly told about some of these very accusations.
And that`s not because Cohen was seen as an advocate for potentially abused women. It is because allegedly this was the kind of information that Trump`s team might have been able to use against Eric Schneiderman who had accused Trump of defrauding thousands of people in 2013 through Trump University, a claim that Trump would ultimately settle by paying many of those people back. But Trump did not just deny wrongdoing, he attacked Schneiderman, saying is he a crook? Wait and see. And then very interestingly saying he was "worse than Spitzer or Wiener who of course had their own public scandals of a certain similar nature. That could have been hyperbole at the time, or did Donald Trump know something then? Those are of course question the new report raises, and there`s more. The man who Roger Stone says was his back channel to WikiLeaks, Randy Credico is now saying tonight that he was asked specifically by Roger Stone to promote a separate but explosive accusation against the same Trump foe, Eric Schneiderman.
There was a gossip item back in 2014 sourced to Credico that accuse Schneiderman of snorting coke in the back of a bar. Credico is saying, "I saw him, Schneiderman put it up his nose, a white powder in the backroom of a bar while he was state senator. Now, this long-forgotten piece of gossip does look different tonight, and especially when you add this, which we found. At the time, of course, he was just a reality star -- reality star, but Donald Trump basically called in to Fox and Friends the same morning of that gossip item and plucked out of the air that same claim by saying "they, some people are now saying Schneiderman took coke."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Police sued me. And I could have sued. They wanted to settle so bad, I could have settled so easily and instead I`m winning the case easily. Schneiderman is a total lightweight, a real dope. And how they`re saying he took coke. And you know, as far as I`m concerned, he probably still does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now they`re saying he took coke. Schneiderman denied that account but based on the newly released allegations, Schneiderman`s credibility itself is in doubt. I want to note that. But the other thing that`s coming up here is the same people the Trump defenders claim are just random former advisers, people like Stone and Credico who Trump defenders dismiss by saying look, they go rogue or they`re just seeking attention, they now appear involved in this very high priority clash with the top prosecutor in New York who was suing Trump, and they were hitting the exact message that Trump wanted at the same time while he called in T.V. to push it. So was that a coincidental synchronization or something more formal, more collusiony?
We`re not just exploring a theory here. This is also based on reporting and I have a response from both Credico and Stone. Credico telling MSNBC hat Stone e-mailed him at the time urging him to continue those very attacks on Schneiderman. Credico says that he resisted going further and that indeed he had wanted his original accusation to be off the record. So we also asked Roger Stone about that, and tonight, he said this reply. "Randy Credico told me he snorted cocaine with Eric Schneiderman in the back room of a Manhattan comedy club. I urged him to go public with this during the election for Attorney General." Now that`s interesting because it`s more of a confirmation than a denial. It does put responsibility back on Credico, which makes sense. Credico was the original source.
But put aside all those weird details, and the larger revelation is that some attacks on law enforcement which benefit Donald Trump could be far more coordinated than disclosed at the time. And one of the central questions in the Mueller probe is now whether people who may appear, "distant," people like Michael Cohen or Roger Stone, were they going rogue, were they acting on their own behalf or were they making moves explicitly on behalf of Donald Trump? And we don`t have all the answers tonight, especially when it comes to the complex history with Eric Schneiderman or who was paying into those Michael Cohen slush funds and why, but we do know Bob Mueller is investigating all this, and only Donald Trump knows how much real evidence on this is really out there.
MELBER: Musician Meek Mill surprised a Miami crowd on Saturday with his first performance since being released from prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEEK MILL, RAPPER: I want to say thank you to everybody that supported me, Millie. They tried to take my freedom. They tried to crush my dreams but now I`m in Miami.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He says he wants to work on criminal justice issues, and this is something that at one point had traction in Washington. Consider the House Judiciary Committee has passed a bipartisan version of criminal justice reform and Jared Kushner has been talking about it, even apparently to Kim Kardashian.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM KARDASHIAN, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Jared Kushner, who I spoke to, has been really working on some criminal justice reform bills and I would love to sit and talk to them. So far the White House has been really receptive to my calls, and I`m grateful for that and I`m not going to stop that because people personally don`t like Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Of course, the issue isn`t personal dislike of Trump, but whether Donald Trump wants to work with his Republican Party in control of the Judiciary Committee to actually get votes on that bill. We will be watching. That does it for our show. I`ll see you back to you back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.
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