Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: May 18, 2018 Guest: Wendy Davis, Ilyse Hogue, E.J. Dionne, Paul Butler, Lizz Winstead, Xilla Valentine, Pras Michel
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s right. And thank you, Chuck.
As you mentioned, we are going to continue the covering of this horrific event. We also have reports later in the hour on some other stories. There`s a new subpoena from Robert Mueller on one of Roger Stone`s top aides and an attack for the Trump administration on reproductive rights and policy. Also, we will be discuss gun control issues later in the hour.
But as you probably know by now, the top story tonight is one that no one wants to live through. It is happening again. It is another mass shooting. It is another school traumatized. Its families consoling each other. A community ripped apart.
Here are the facts at this hour, 6:00 p.m. on the east coast. A shooter opening fire today at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. That is a town near Houston, Texas. The shooter killing ten and injuring ten more people. The suspect is a 17-year-old student at the school. And he has been apprehended by authorities. He is being held without bond on capital murder charges right now.
A law enforcement official telling NBC just within the last few moments that four pipe bombs additionally were also recovered in this school. Explosive devices are a concern as authorities such this suspect`s home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: The potential for explosive devices that we found in the residence. There are one or two other people of interest that are going to be in or currently being interviewed. There are two weapons. One was a shotgun and the other is a .38 revolver. Both of these weapons were obtained by the shooter from his father. It`s my information at this time that the father legally owned these weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It is, of course, late May and the last day of school scheduled at this high school was May 31st. Students describing the confusion and horror on one of these last Fridays of the planned school year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teachers were telling us to back up and everything because they don`t know what`s going on. They heard three shots and Mr. Vaughn said to run, so everybody took off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have heard that someone -- that a guy came in with a trench coat and a duffel bag and he just started shooting people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody should have to go through this. Nobody should feel that pain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This afternoon the Texas governor saying the suspect had no criminal record. Obviously it was a young person. Showed few warning signs according to the authorities for this kind of mass murder. Although there are students that were telling people outside the school that some things did stand out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would be walking around with his trench coat on, headphones in, doesn`t say anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez is in Santa Fe, Texas. I`m also joined by Ashley Cech. Her mother was the librarian at Sandy Hook, actually now works with the survivors program at every town for gun safety. I`m also joined by phone by former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton as well as by retired ATF special agent in-charge, Jim Cavanaugh, two men who have dealt with these kind of situations in law enforcement and provided coverage on many grim days like this for us.
Gabe, on the ground, what can you tell us?
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Hey, Ari, I`m not sure if you can hear me.
GUTIERREZ: But I`m standing here at the scene just a short distance from the school where it`s still a very active scene. Authorities have blocked it off as they continue this investigation. And as we have heard, there were four pipe bombs that were found here at the school.
Now we just received word that the Houston police chief has tweeted out the name of the school resource officer who was injured. He is a retired HPD police officer. His name is John Barnes. That he retired from HPD back in January of this year.
And authorities say he had a heroic -- it was a heroic scene where he went and tried to engage the suspect. A source close to the investigation now saying that that school resource officer is in critical but stable condition. His family obviously hoping for the best at this point.
Students that we have spoken with here at the scene, they describe a dramatic survival story where they heard a fire alarm. And at this point it`s unclear exactly who pulled that alarm. Some have said that it was a teacher. There were some earlier reports that it may have been the suspect himself. But several students said that it was a teacher. They heard that fire alarm and raced out of the building.
Now, we are told by a source close to the investigation and most of the students who were killed, were killed inside an art classroom. Other students huddled inside a separate theater room to try to stay away from the gunman. Others just ran out of the school. But as authorities have said, the suspect came in here armed with not just that shotgun and a revolver but also with several explosive pipe bombs that authorities say did not explode here at the school.
This investigation obviously ongoing, not just here but at the suspect`s home. Authorities also trying to gain access to his cell phone as well, Ari.
MELBER: Gabe Gutierrez, thank you for your reporting on the ground. I`m sure with MSNBC, we will be checking back with you.
I want to turn first to former commissioner, Bill Bratton, with expensive experience in large police departments in several cities, New York and L.A.
Commissioner, you look at the situation, you look at the horror, people at home always ask us when will it stop, how do you prevent this?
BILL BRATTON, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER (on the phone): Well, in some respects it is deja vu all over again. The prevention of it is beyond reach at this time. Can we prevent some of it? Yes. Can we prevent all of it? No. And the sad news is that this is the new reality, that the frequency of these, the increasing frequency, and the frustration also, the federal government, particularly the federal political level has no intention of doing anything other than mouthing platitudes at the local level. It is at the local level are being continually being challenged by the NRA. I find it ironic that on the political scene, the party that speaks about states` rights on this issue is all about basically eliminating states` rights in favor of the NRA position.
So this is not going away in terms of future occurrences. There are things that can be done that we learned from every one of these in law enforcement. The idea about the ability to identify young people who might be going down this path, better ability to protect schools, facilities, events. But the tragedy of the country with more guns than people and very lax gun laws. The irony of the last two school shootings are they are in two of the states in America that have the most lax gun laws in America.
So it`s frustrating. It`s extraordinarily frustrating and great anguish for the families involved, but frustrating for the rest of us. And those with children in school have constant worry about the safety of their children in the schools.
MELBER: Right. And that`s something, Jim, you know, we talk a lot about divisions in this country and different experiences and different places to live. Every family sends a kid off to school in the morning and wants them to come back. What`s on your mind when you look at the profile of this shooter, no record, young person, apparently disturbed, apparently with access to weapons at home and doing such terrible damage to their classmates today?
JIM CAVANAUGH, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT (on the phone): Yes, it looks like boilerplate copy of Columbine. I think there are some warning signs. The trench coat, the hot weather down there, walking in with the duffel bag. That should be stopped. I mean if he`s that morose and into himself at the time, and we all know teenagers do that but you have got to address it early on and start talking about it. Then you get to a parent that doesn`t lock up their guns.
We just had a killing in Nashville, the guy killed four people at a waffle house and got the guns from his parents who knew that he was having mental difficulties. So you have got parents that don`t lock up their guns, you know. Where is the political leadership that`s harping on that? Where is the president and the governor of every state coming out and putting that message out? Where is every school superintendent from everybody who has the bully pulpit?
You know, when we get on, Ari, we say it here. If you are going to be a responsible gun owner, then you have got to lock your guns up. You can have access, quick access to guns. I have a gun safe that has just a touch of a finger, two fingers you can open it up that instantly and get the gun, but it doesn`t have to be accessible by anyone. And so there`s ways to do that.
And the sad thing is that the only cold, dead hands that get pried off anything is the cold dead hands of the kids off their book bags and the church goers off their hymnals and the concert goers off their concert tickets. It`s not all the other fantasy that the government is going to take everybody`s gun and marching around conspiracy stuff. There`s a lot of cold, dead hands getting pried off a bag and we need to do something.
MELBER: Jim Cavanaugh speaking to us bluntly, paraphrasing Charlton Heston`s remarks as the leader of the NRA.
I want to turn to Ashley Check here. You lived through this once before, and we were just talking with our law enforcement experts there about policy, but there`s more to these days than that. You work with survivors. Walk us through what`s happening in this community, the people in these schools, these families.
ASHLEY CECH, SURVIVOR ASSOCIATE EVERYTOWN.ORG: Sure. It is obviously, it is heartbreaking. It`s devastating any time anyone hears of another incident of gun violence in America. What we know to do true is that this is not an isolated incident. And my heart is with the Santa Fe community today and as they continue to heal, but in fact this is the 43rd incident of gunfire on school grounds in 2018 alone. And this is the second mass shooting that Texas has seen in one week.
On Wednesday there was a man who shot and injured his ex-wife and shot and killed their three children, her boyfriend, before taking the gun on himself. And what we know is now this community is part of a club that no one wants to be part of. This is Americans who have been impacted by gun violence and their lives have been forever changed. And this group is made up of 96 Americans whose lives are taken by gun violence every day and hundreds more who are injured.
MELBER: What do you say in your work to families who feel guilt, who replay that day and think about what they might have done differently. How do you deal with the kind of grief and the kind of pain that comes with something that is this deep?
CECH: It`s so hard and nobody can be prepared for experiencing a violent acts of gun violence in this way. What I would say to people who are grappling with the pain and the confusion and the anger that comes along with an incident that impacts your community is that there was no part of this that was your fault. This is the fault of people who have made it easy for people who have dangerous histories to get their hands on guns. And that has nothing to do with anybody in the community other than those who are supporting the lax gun laws that this country sees.
MELBER: And the fault of the people doing it, the fault of the killer.
CECH: Of course.
MELBER: Commissioner Bratton, where else do we go from here and from a law enforcement perspective when the individual is in custody, they do the sweeps. What else do we expect authorities are doing at this hour?
BRATTON: Well, there`s preparations, certainly, to make a strong criminal case that they can take to court. There is the learning in the sense of what signals might have been missed. There is the learning in the sense of going forward how to protect against -- each one of these is a little different. Each one has a different degree of creativity to it.
So law enforcement is constantly learning what the threat is and trying to increase its ability to respond to it. So he would have had two instances now in the past week where school officers, armed officers in the schools have been very effective in preventing what might have been much larger losses of life. So a clear lesson coming out of this. An unfortunate lesson is that it may require more armed officers, trained officers in America`s schools. Each community is going to have to make its own decision relative to that.
But we have had two instances now where that seems to have worked. The securing of doors. The better training. There`s been a lot of confusion today as I`ve listened to this throughout the day as to whether this school did active shooter drills. They do fire drills. Even the issue of fire alarms, in several instances we have had concerns that the fire alarms are merely a device to pull students out of the classes. And so we have to take a look at that aspect of it. How do you effectively convey that this is a drill and not an actual incident.
Technology is being developed for detection of gunshots. It works very well outside, not as well inside, but increasing sophistication. We may get better at detecting that something is an actual gunshot. Where in a building is it occurring so officers have a better capability of responding to the exact location where shots are being fired.
So even as we see more of these instances, we learn more. And we learn to protect in many better ways going forward. But going back to my original point, unfortunately this is the new reality in America today and it`s not going away any time soon. Not in the kind of leadership we have in Washington. There is no desire to take this issue on. And shame on them.
MELBER: That`s a point where we will fittingly reflect on that.
My thanks to Bill Bratton and Jim Cavanaugh and law enforcer Ashley Cech who walked us through how this works for the families and your experience with every town.
Coming up, there`s a lot of other news tonight. Bob Mueller is subpoenaing people linked to Roger Stone. We`re also going to fact check some of Donald Trump`s attacks on the Mueller investigation.
Also, news tonight on the trump administration that affects women`s health all over the nation. Wendy Davis and Elise Hogue are here, an important story.
I`m Ari Melber and you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news right now. Michael Cohen`s lawyers have filed a new motion trying to keep Stormy Daniels very visible attorney, Michael Avenatti, away from the federal proceedings in New York. This as Reuters is reporting that Mueller subpoenaed another aide to Roger Stone who reportedly worked for Stone as an accountant. And that builds on news that Mueller was issuing a subpoena just people and the social media expert who also worked for Stone. For his part, Stone says Mueller has not contacted him yet. He doesn`t know where he fits into all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: At this point I don`t know if a person of interest or just an interesting person. It`s not pleasant to have a special prosecutor with unbridled power in your emails, in your text messages, in your phone calls, and he`s very clearly in mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined with "the Wall Street Journal" Shelby Holliday and former federal prosecutor Paul Butler and David Corn by phone, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones."
Shelby, Roger Stone refers to himself as an interesting person. That is fair and something critics --.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I don`t think anyone is denying that. Very interesting person.
MELBER: But it is clearly notable that his associates are being hit while he is not.
HOLLIDAY: Yes. And he hasn`t heard a word from Mueller or Mueller`s team. I talked to his lawyer today. And you know, it`s a little concerning for people around roger stone when they hear that. It suggests that he might be a subject or even a target.
But what`s so interesting about these recent subpoenas is, yes, they have to do with social media. And for a long time we have talked about Roger Stone`s tweets and some of these comments about Julian Assange. But they also have to do with his Pac. And as you mentioned, one of these guys was his accountant. So it suggests that Mueller may be looking into financial information.
I was just speaking to Sam Nunberg who is also close to Roger Stone and had to turn over documents related to Roget Stone. And Sam says it may not just be about the Assange comments, it may not just have to do with WikiLeaks. This could be a lot deeper than people realized. And that`s certainly something that Stone would be concerned about.
MELBER: Right. And that, Paul Butler, goes to the Cohen investigation. Nobody knew even a month ago that there was such a money trail connecting Michael Cohen to major companies in the United States and major firms linked to Putin oligarchs.
Listen to Roger Stone talk about the social media part and what he describes as young people who work for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: It`s very clear that not only has Mr. Mueller subpoenaed a part- time consultant who worked for me for three months, he has also dropped subpoenas on a number of other young people who work for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What does it take to get that, and what does it tell you that Mueller is doing that?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It tells us that they are coming for Roger Stone. He has been a shady character from day one in this investigation. So remember, we had these hacked emails that our intelligence community tells us Russia was responsible for. They wind up in WikiLeaks. And Roger Stone knows all about what`s coming out before the hacked emails are released. He is going all over the media and Breitbart predicting that some dirt is coming out on Hillary.
How does he know this? He`s been inconsistent about his relationship with WikiLeaks. At times he says he knows Julian Assange, other times he says he doesn`t know him. WikiLeaks at one point disavows him. And then the day after that election, Ari, there`s that bizarre tweet from WikiLeaks to Roger Stone, now we are free to talk. Really fishy. Mueller has got to investigate that.
MELBER: This gentleman, who like many people who pop up in this story we hadn`t heard a thing about before, John Cannis, 30 years old, David Corn, and he said he was briefly questioned by the FBI, Russian interference came up. You would expect that. But also WikiLeaks Web site, which was just mentioned, Assange and hackers behind Guccifer 2.0 which has been alleged to be a front for Russian intelligence which gets you pretty close into the beating heart of collusion, David.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES (on the phone): Well, it does because Roger Stone has told many inconsistent stories about his connection with Assange, but he did have a relationship with Guccifer 2.0 which is probably a set of hackers who pretended they were a single Romanian hacker.
And whether he broke the law or not, whether he colluded or not, one thing is clear. In the summer of 2016 when people were saying that the Russians were attacking the United States, the election by stealing emails and putting them out, he was out there saying Guccifer 2.0 is not a Russian operation. It is indeed a Romanian hacker. He was doing this through Breitbart. So in essence what he was doing is protecting a Russian propaganda intelligence operation.
Now, that may not be something that you can be prosecuted for, but indeed, you know, he has already done something quite wrong in terms of siding with a foreign power that was engaged in information warfare against the United States. Now, the details are to what degree he worked with them, if at all and if that puts him under a criminal tent.
MELBER: Shelby, go ahead.
HOLLIDAY: And I would also add that he`s been advocating for a pardon for Assange for quite some time. He`s out there saying the President should pardon Assange, even though Assange, you know, according to intelligence agencies, was a hostile actor to the United States in releasing some of these hacked emails.
But I also think there`s another thing that could be concerning for Roger Stone and that is whether or not he told the truth when he was under oath in front of the House intelligence committee.
You have had Randy Critico on your show before. And Randy has said publicly that he didn`t talk to Assange. He didn`t have any communication with him until August 25th which is after a lot of Roger`s controversial tweets.
BUTLER: And the other thing, Ari --
MELBER: More bluntly, Critico said Assange was lying as trying to cite him as his intermediary. Go ahead, Paul.
BUTLER: And we also know that Roger Stone is Donald Trump`s dude, they talk. The President reportedly confides in him. So we know that Mueller`s tactic is to try to get any kind of incriminating information against subjects, try to force them to plead guilty and then cooperate.
MELBER: You put your finger on something so important, Paul. And take a listen to this moment in the Netflix documentary about Stone because what Mueller seems to understand that maybe did confuse some other more casual observers is that Donald Trump`s closest people don`t necessarily come to the White House with him. They stay at kind of a funny distance. Stone, Michael Cohen, Keith Schiller who was in briefly but is out and still involved.
Take a listen to this political horse flesh turn of phrase from the documentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Roger always wanted me to run for president.
STONE: I was like a jockey looking for a horse. You can`t win the race if you don`t have a horse. And he is a prime piece of political horse flesh in my view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Paul, can you speak to that horse meat?
BUTLER: I don`t know if I want to speak about horse meat, Ari. But again, what we do know is that Roger -- Mueller is trying to get people to cooperate, so he is going to, you know, use all of his tools, anything at his disposal to try to turn Roger Stone. So the first step is to find something to charge him with a crime. It`s very instrumental, but again this is at the end of the day all about collusion, which we have Roger Stone implicated in. And it`s about President Trump and his role in this.
MELBER: Paul Butler and Shelby Holliday. David, I know you are on the phone and sometimes that means you lose. I have got to fit in a break. But call me after the show. We will talk more by phone.
Up ahead on THE BEAT, the Trump/Giuliani witch-hunt strategy, what is that doing and how does it affect whether people flip.
Also, Donald Trump gutting millions from Planned Parenthood today. Don`t look at the tweets, look at the policy. That`s next. We have two special guests when we are back in 60 seconds.
MELBER: Put aside Donald Trump`s tweets and his media distractions and here is the policy that the Trump administration is rolling out today. A broad and drastic cut to health organizations that are involved in pro- choice counseling and abortion. It hits clinics, it hits Planned Parenthood and critics say it could endanger women`s health and limit constitutional protected medical choices.
The immediate result here is cuts of millions of dollars of federal funding to any group that provides referrals or even procedures related to abortions, a policy broader and just limiting money for abortion itself. It is already restricted under federal law.
This defunds groups that refer women to abortion providers and mandates physical separation between the clinic that gets taxpayer money from an abortion provider. It also slashes over $280 million from clinics.
Now, Trump campaigned by saying he would be good for women`s health. He said that women are helped by Planned Parenthood. But then on the trail he also said he would defund it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Planned Parenthood has done very good work for some -- for millions of women. We are not going to allow and we`re not going to fund as long as you have the abortion going on at Planned Parenthood. I`m going to be really good for women. I`m going to be good for women`s health issues.
I would defund it because I`m prolife. But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I am joined now by Ilyse Hogue, president of prochoice America which works with Planned Parenthood and Wendy Davis, a former Texas state senator who made headlines holding a 13-hour filibuster trying to block an apportion law that restricted access in her state of Texas in 2013. Elise, what does this mean?
ILYSE HOGUE, PRESIDENT, NARAL PROCHOICE AMERICA: Well, I mean, Ari, what it really means is that they are worried about the upcoming elections and they are trying to throw a bone to their extreme base but it`s a terrible miscalculation. We know the majority of this country supports access to abortion, supports Planned Parenthood and other providers, and that our side is really fired up and they are hemorrhaging women voters from their party. So I think it`s a tragic miscalculation and it`s going to tragically hurt women in the process.
MELBER: Wendy, part of what is clearly on the table with Donald Trump here is a transactional or negotiated approach to this. We showed the clips that were all over the place. I want to play for you Cecil Richards describing her dealings with the Trump administration while she was head of very relevantly Planned Parenthood. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CECILE RICHARDS, FORMER PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: What Jared Kushner said to me is if I can get a headline that says Planned Parenthood discontinues abortion services, I can probably guarantee your funding. And I said we will never do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Wendy, what does that tell you?
WENDY DAVIS, FORMER TEXAS STATE SENATOR: I mean basically what`s happening here, Ari, is that there are over four million women in this country, low- income women, women of color, who rely on Title X funding for their reproductive care, for their birth control, for their preventive care and for their well-woman care and they are at risk of losing that care. And if you need to see what it looks like to actually carry through the kind of defunding that`s being talked about at the federal level, you need look no further than my state. That happened here in 2011. Over 80 clinics closed, not all of them were Planned Parenthoods and none of them were providing abortion services. And in the process tens of thousands of women lost their care.
MELBER: Let`s pause -- let`s pause on that. Yes, I want you to continue, but just to be clear, you`re saying that a version of this at the local level acted to close 80 facilities that provided only health care and not actually abortions.
DAVIS: That`s exactly right. And the consequence of that in Texas, which we know we`re going to see at the federal level as well if this is carried out by the Trump Administration. We had an increase in teen pregnancy rates when right now in this country they`re at an all-time low. We had an increase in Medicaid births and the subsequent cost to taxpayers for those births and we had an increase in maternal mortality. That same consequence is being seen because of the global gag order that the Trump Administration is now talking about putting in place domestically here. So, women, real women are going to be hurt.
MELBER: So, Wendy, let me -- let me ask you this way, because you`re really laying out the actual microcosmic results of this in a place where it was tried. There`s a constitutional question about whether something that the Supreme Court says is a right in this country, people can debate it, there`s a lot of debate about it, but women have a right to this choice under the current law and that`s one conversation. The second is the actual impact. And what you`re proposing for you and for Ilyse as well, weigh in, is that on the narrower question of the results, this kind of thing can actually increase the number of teen pregnancies when applied.
DAVIS: No question, because when you remove people`s access to contraceptive care, they have more unintended pregnancies. It`s just a natural consequence. I`m sorry, Ilyse, I didn`t mean to interrupt you.
HOGUE: Wendy, you can always interrupt me. I think the third piece which we haven`t yet talked about, Ari, but is equally important is that not only does this limit service and have devastating health care effects, in fact counter to what they say their goal is, but what should really send a chill up people`s spines is that this is massive government overreach into the kind of information that we can receive from our medical professionals. And that is because they know if women have the truth about our options, their agenda folds.
And we`ve seen them looking for ways to lie and deceive women every which way they can. We`ve seen the scorched earth approach not only in Wendy in my home state of Texas, but also under Vice President Pence in Indiana where not only did teen pregnancy go up when they close all the health clinic, but HIV rates went up and maternal outcomes went down. So no price is too high for these people to pay in their quest to end legal abortion and control women`s lives.
MELBER: It`s very educational, honestly, listening to both of you. I think people who might even disagree, as we know, there is disagreement on the country about some aspects of this issue, would hear things that would really give you pause to this kind of federal reconstruction, which as we mention is one of the most important stories in America tonight which is why it`s on our broadcast. Ilyse Hogue and Wendy Davis, thanks to both of you.
HOGUE: Thank you, Ari.
DAVIS: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Up ahead, Rudy Giuliani ramping up attacks on Mueller and a whole lot more when we come back.
MELBER: Here`s something you don`t hear every day, the President`s lawyer is now arguing that maybe sometimes it`s OK to essentially obstruct justice and maybe sometimes it`s OK to get collusion help from the Russians. All of that instead of letting the facts clear his client, Donald Trump, over, well, over this process. Rudy also says he wants this Mueller probe to effectively end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: We`re trying to get them to end this. This is not good for the American people, empowering Mueller to do an illegitimate investigation. It is illegitimate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is the noise. Here`s the signal. What prosecutors are actually doing while some other people talk. A new plea deal with the DOJ, this time for Manafort`s ex-son-in-law, Mueller`s growing list of guilty pleas and indictments. Some Trump linked subsidiaries also buckling. The U.S. outpost of Trump campaign`s digital firm, Cambridge Analytica, is now, this is new, declaring bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Novartis and AT&T forcing out top executives all over the very recently disclosed Michael Cohen slush fund. It is a lot. I am joined tonight by Washington Post E.J. Dionne and Paul Butler former Federal Prosecutor back with us. E.J., is Rudy Giuliani so good he looks bad but he`s secretly good?
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: I can`t follow that all the way to the end there. I think that Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump have one objective right now, which is to throw all kinds of arguments out there that the Republican base can latch onto as a way of telling themselves that one way or another the investigation is a fraud, it`s fixed, there are spies, because I think they have given up on persuading a majority of the country.
I think they are only trying to persuade Republicans, basically the Republican base that there`s something wrong here. And if they can hold the Republican base, they can hold the Republican Congress. And if they can hold the Republican Congress, they can keep bad things from happening to Trump. You know, on the question of Trump testifying, Rudy Giuliani has become like the weatherman. It changes from day to day about whether he will testify, what kind of deal he will make, so I`ve given up for looking for consistency from Giuliani. It is the classic pasta against the wall for the Republican base.
MELBER: And Paul Butler, let me -- let me play just a clip of some of that spaghetti hitting the wall because Rudy says that he`s worried about testifying because he`s worried that it won`t be about the truth. Of course, testifying is one of the only places in our entire system where there actually is a required truth standard. That is everyone knows politicians can lie most places, they just can`t lie under oath. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: The President would testify tomorrow if it was about the truth. The truth is, he had nothing to do with Russia. It`s like Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart never would have gone to jail if she hadn`t gone and testified. What do you think --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She lied! She lied!
GIULIANI: Lying is black and white. It isn`t black and white. The President is not going to lie. Let`s get that straight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So the only sensible coherent thing that Giuliani said in this interview is his appropriate concerns about President Trump going into a room alone with a grand jury and Special Counsel Mueller. That would not work out well for the President. And so any lawyer would try to keep him out of that situation. More -- further, though, I don`t get what`s up with Rudy Giuliani. He`s an embarrassment to lawyers at this point.
He doesn`t know central facts not only about the case but about how the process works. In this interview with CNN, he seemed to forget that the Attorney General had recused himself and that Rod Rosenstein is in charge. He had to be reminded of that. So you know, Ari, we always want folks to have good, effective representation no matter how much exposure they have. President Trump simply does not have good lawyers working for him.
MELBER: Well, at the risk of making a terrible legal joke, which you know I would never do, Paul, you wonder whether the secret strategy is setting up a later ineffective assistance of counsel claim for appeals? I mean --
BUTLER: You know, sometimes lawyers, you know, we call it falling on the sword. Is that what`s going on?
MELBER: E.J., can you believe that joke was just made? That`s terrible.
DIONNE: I sort of laughed at it.
MELBER: Yes -- no, nobody said you laugh.
DIONNE: I think Trump should call Legal Aid right now.
MELBER: I guess, Paul, the other piece to this is that Rudy Giuliani, with respect, had a very strong legal career, like you, served in the U.S. Attorney`s Office a long time ago and also had a political career. But at this point, did Donald Trump actually not understand that Rudy Giuliani is like Shaq in the sense that he`s on T.V. a lot for a thing he used to do, that he was really good at.
I mean they went after La Cosa Nostra and a lot of other tough guys when he was at SDNY, but that was decades ago. And that as great as Shaq was if you actually said, I got to win a game tonight and I could have any -- almost any player and you put him on the court tonight, it wouldn`t work very well because it`s been a long time.
BUTLER: He`s out of shape, he`s lost it. And frankly, at his prime, Giuliani was never as good as Shaq was at his game. You know, one of the concerns about Giuliani is, you know, now he`s so mad about how the police and prosecutors are so powerful, he never had that concern when the NYPD was wild against African-American and Latino young men. So again --
MELBER: Right, and I would say much to get into his record but he -- you would say he was more in his prime then than now litigation wise?
BUTLER: Yes, yes. As you know, as their go-to lawyers in a case like this, there are a hundred lawyers in D.C. who specialize in these kinds of investigations. Giuliani is not on that list.
DIONNE: You know, what I think, is let`s contrast that with Robert Mueller and what Mueller is up to because these guys are out there trying to discredit Mueller in any way they can. Mueller is being quiet. And some are saying, well, gee, he`s being defined without speaking out. But I think Mueller is pursuing the only path that he can. I`m on your show so I can quote Nas from Bridging The Gap, you know, keep integrity at every cost. That is the only strategy Mueller can pursue. And I think in the end Mueller will stand or fall on what he finds. And maybe I`m naive. I was at a dinner with a bunch of folks in Wooster, Ohio, a lot of business people, a fair number of Republican --
MELBER: Real quick.
DIONNE: And there was just a quiet integrity there. I think folks like that are going to decide this. And if Mueller has the goods, even if they`re Republican, they`re not going to be comfortable with Trump.
MELBER: Interesting. I`m going to fit in a break. Special points to E.J. Dionne here on this Friday and Paul Butler, thank you for riding with us. A special conversation coming up though. A Co-Founder of the Fugee, Pras, the creator of The Daily Show, Lizz Winstead and more. We`re also going to talk a little bit about what happened this week. That`s next.
MELBER: It is Friday after a tough week by any measure and we often take in a few big moments with "FALLBACK FRIDAY." Tonight we`re going to do something like that but begin with a national conversation around violence and guns in our schools and I`m very excited about who we have here. Pras, a member of the great hip-hop group the Fugees. He has a new E.P. coming out Wave Culture, it`s dropping on Tuesday. You can see the album there and go find it.
I`m also joined by the film blogger and journalist Xilla who`s done many ranges of interviews, including Demi Moore and Pharrell and a lot of others. We were at the Black Panther premier and I`m happy to have her at the table for the first time. And then an old friend of MSNBC and co- creator of The Daily Show Lizz Winstead.thanks to all of you for being here. I`m excited to do this. And Lizz, I`m going to begin with the conversation that`s everywhere. Your thoughts as someone who deals with comedy but also politics and this -- here we are with another shooting.
LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR, THE DAILY SHOW: Yes. I think in the theme of falling back, I feel like at what point are we going to stop saying let`s arm the teachers. I think that we don`t arm our teachers with enough resources to actually teach. We don`t actually arm people with resources for anything. And so to actually focus on guns as a resource that is good and going to help our children, our education, the health of our people.
XILLA VALENTINE, BLOGGER AND JOURNALIST: I think we should fall back with thoughts and prayers. It`s time to do something. Thoughts and prayers aren`t absolutely enough because they can`t help. If you really care, we`ve got to stop being fake mad and move policy and move the issue forward.
MELBER: So when you hear thoughts and prayers, you feel that it`s actually less than doing something.
VALENTINE: Yes. No disrespect to anybody religious, I love the Lord. I am super religious myself but God doesn`t come in and pull these guns out of people`s hands. You know, we need something that`s going to actually -- no one wants to take guns from everybody but make it harder. Like I can drive a car but it doesn`t mean I can drive an 18 wheeler. I need different licence for that. And there needs to be some sort of common sense rules for this. It`s just crazy. Do something. We didn`t do anything after Sandy Hook, we didn`t do anything after Columbine, we didn`t do anything after Parkland. Do something.
MELBER: Yes, I`m thinking about how endemic this is. People sometimes ask me, why are we covering this one versus that one versus the next one or why are we covering a school shooting with a higher fatality count but not all these other murders in Chicago. And I don`t have a good answer for that. We don`t. We don`t have good answers for that. We just know that we have a mounting gun violence problem.
One thing I wanted to spotlight as we have this conversation on Friday is, this is according to an L.A. Times report when you actually look at it, a gun has been fired on campuses since Sandy Hook once a week. Which includes murders, it includes attempted shootings which don`t even make the national news and it includes suicides because we have a suicide problem and mental health challenge for a lot of people in this country, but that`s another area we`re getting your hands on you`re firearm makes it even more difficult.
VALENTINE: And self-destruction, M.C. Delight says, pop, pop, pop, one is shot. Who`s to blame? The blame is Congress, the blame is the legislators. They need to do something.
MELBER: Yes, Pras, I grew up on your music and a lot of people say why do -- why do we have this television show THE BEAT? And the answer is, so I can try to meet rappers. You know, that`s the main reason. So I`m honored to have you at the table. You got new music coming out. And thinking about falling back, who would be your "FALLBACK" for this week?
PRAS MICHEL, FOUNDER, FUGEES: I would say special interest groups. And I won`t even say Congress I mean because you know, we`re sitting here talking about this but it`s a sad day because we`re getting to a point where it`s kind of like oh, another shooting. We`re starting to be desensitized by it, you know? And I don`t even feel good talking about what I got coming up because this makes it very emotional for me because we`re not trying to solve hurricanes, right? How do we prevent hurricanes from happening? We`re trying to solve something that our forefathers wrote the Second Amendment. But they wrote it in a way that we interpret it to mean something else. See what I`m saying too? So I mean, that`s my "FALLBACK."
WINSTEAD: Yes, and I feel like it`s the sway our country has become. We never want to prevent anything, we only want to put a band-aid on it whether it`s -- you know, we wanted to make sure people don`t have health care but then (INAUDIBLE) the only time they go to the doctor is in an emergency room. You talk about guns, it`s like why aren`t we trying to prevent the violence instead of treating it and putting a band-aid on it when it happens and going back to thoughts and prayers.
MICHEL: Well, can I ask you a question that do you think that if it was someone`s child who from a particular group, would you think the laws might -- people might move towards doing something about gun violence.
MELBER: Well, I would put it this way. We know from the criminal justice data that the people who end up in jail on gun charges tend to be young African-American males.
MELBER: Far more frequently than everyone else. I can`t splice the entire thing. I can`t say it would be this way or that way. But the data we do have an which we report in the show and we talk about and I know you know about is yes, there`s a lot of differential treatment. Though on the one hand, we have this gun culture over here but then we have a real problem with law enforcement and differential treatment which is still going on. I mean, I think that`s -- and that`s something that comes up a lot in the news and the culture.
VALENTINE: Absolutely. There`s two sets of laws and two timelines. We`re not -- my world is totally different from other people`s world. You know what I mean? Gun culture --
MELBER: Because you`re so cool?
VALENTINE: Because I`m so cool. No, gun culture in the hood where I`m from is like, oh, you buy a gun from somebody illegally. That`s just what it is. It`s not we can`t go to the store and get a gun and go to Walmart. There was a guy to went to buy a gun in Walmart and got shot inside Walmart.
MELBER: Pras, I wanted to ask you while you`re here just thinking about the Fugees, if I may. You are in a group that talked a lot about the immigrant and refugee experience. You rap you know, I`m refugee from Guantanamo Bay. What do you feel like coming out of that experience and looking at an era where we have a President literally doing a travel ban and trying to cut down on refugees and saying refugees are automatically bad?
MICHEL: I mean, look, man, we sit here and talk about our president, we`d be talking for hours. I mean, it`s just -- but you know, you got to remember something also, he`s posturing to a demographic like what they call a silent minority, right? And so I think he`s an opportunist. He`s just saying things just to his base. I don`t even know if he believes what he`s saying because I just can`t understand how he can.
VALENTINE: I think he definitely believes it.
MICHEL: Well, his wife is an immigrant.
VALENTINE: Yes, she`s different.
MICHEL: OK, so -- all right --
VALENTINE: She`s different.
MICHEL: Different how? Because he`s married to her?
VALENTINE: No, she`s different.
MICHEL: But the point I`m saying to you is that I get she`s different. That`s his wife, that`s the First Lady. But the point I`m saying is, is that I feel like he`s just posturing because --
VALENTINE: When I say they`re different, I mean like OK, if I get caught with a gun, that`s different. I`m a thug. If one of these kids that shoot up a school gets caught with a gun, they`re mentally disturbed.
MELBER: I`m going to fit in a break but this is why we like trying to have some of this conversation as hard as they can be to have. So my thanks to a very special panel and we will be right back.
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