Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: May 22, 2018 Guest: Michael Avenatti; Rebecca Roiphe, Jennifer Rodgers, Mark Green, Vince Warren, Howell Raines
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: If there`s going to be a fake tweet by me, it is going to have the right kind of grammar issues. That`s my rule.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Fair enough.
MELBER: Thank you, Chuck.
We have breaking news and Michael Avenatti is about to join me live by phone. One of Michael Cohen`s closest business partner is flipping against him.
Evgeny Freidman is a Russian immigrant and he known locally, at least in New York State, as the taxi king. He may not be a national name until tonight, but now he is. I`m going to tell you why.
The breaking news, as I mentioned, is that he is officially cooperating with authorities as a potential witness. Freidman managing cabs with Michael Cohen, Trump`s attorney for years. This came even after he was banned by New York City regulators last year, he continued to do this kind of work.
Now "the New York Times" is first with this big story. But it has been confirmed by the attorney general`s office in New York. Freidman pleading guilty to a count of evading $50,000 worth of taxes. (INAUDIBLE) races pressure on Michael Cohen and pressure on whether he will also ultimately also flip and how high up to chain of command this goes.
We have a lot more on this, including several experts joining. But I want to begin with the man who has tangled the most with Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels` lawyer, Michael Avenatti.
Michael, thanks for joining me by phone on this breaking story. Did you have an inkling this was coming? And what does it mean for Cohen and President Trump?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` LAWYER (on the phone): Well, we did have an inkling that it was coming. And Ari, I don`t think it`s not going to be (INAUDIBLE). I know it is not going to be the last incident of individual flipping on Michael Cohen.
I think that, you know, obviously this is a significant development. It may said (ph) that much more likely, although in my mind, there`s been little doubt over the last three months that Michael Cohen is going to be indict for some very serious offenses. And that in turn, as I predicted for some time, and I will continue to predict it`s going to have a huge impact potentially on Mr. Trump. And how far up the chain this truly goes.
MELBER: When you say this is the first and not the last, are you saying that you have reason to believe, Michael Avenatti, that there are other individuals around Cohen who have criminal liability that will be charged or will cooperate?
AVENATTI: Yes, absolutely. I described him weeks ago as radioactive, and I meant it then and mean it today.
MELBER: When you look at this prosecution and it comes out the New York attorney general`s office which was of course in the news because the Democratic, the helm of that office who clash was Trump, Eric Schneiderman resigned amidst credible and verified allegations of domestic abuse, it appears that this prosecution moves forward, as you know, and as many viewers have come to understand, as everyone got a crash course in the pardon power, it would be apparently ironclad that this type of case has no power for Donald Trump to pardon. How do you think that figures it?
AVENATTI: I think it`s an important development. And it is something that we have touched on, Ari, previously. And I have been (INAUDIBLE) I think for some time. And that is that while Mr. Cohen may believe that he has the ultimate get out of the jail free card in the way of a pardon from someone that he believes is a close friend, though I have serious questions ultimately as to whether there would be any loyalty there, but namely Mr. Trump, I think Mr. Cohen believes that`s his ultimate get out of the jail free card. I think it is (INAUDIBLE). I don`t think it`s going to happen. And I think if he ultimately relies on that, he is going to be very, very sorry and I don`t think he will rely on that.
MELBER: Do you have reason to believe, Michael, as we -- again, process this breaking news that a close associate and business partner of Michael Cohen has flipped in his cooperating with authorities, do you believe that the nature of this case is similar to the kind of case that could be ultimately built against Michael Cohen. Meaning that he could face also charges that Donald Trump would not have the power to pardon.
AVENATTI: No question.
MELBER: And what does that mean?
AVENATTI: Well, I mean, I`m agreeing with your question, Ari. I think that there is going to be significant charges that will be brought on the federal level. There will be significant charges they could be brought on the state level against Michael Cohen.
Look. I have said it before, and maybe I haven`t been clear enough. Michael Cohen is going to be in a world of hurt in a very short period of time. He is going to have very few options. And that is why I have said repeatedly that I think ultimately, he is going to flip on the president of the United States.
MELBER: When you look at all this centering on the business dealings, it is as you know, and that some of your critics have said, Michael, further and further away from your original standing in this case, which is over a civil matter involving your client, Stormy Daniels.
Is there anything here that you believe goes beyond that purview, and really is more about the authorities looking into their separate business dealings, in this case taxes and taxis, so to speak, and is really outside of your area of influence and expertise? Or is that in your view too narrow for the role you are carving out?
AVENATTI: No, I think that`s too narrow. I mean, I think that a lot of these business dealings, you know, this is quite the quagmire, Ari. A lot of this is intertwined in a rogue (ph) as you will. These various business dealings, the dealings or the involvement of essential consultants, the use of the bank account, I mean, a lot of this all flowed into the same account, the same -- and dealt with the same players in many, many respects.
So you know, to those critics who say that this is beyond my purview, I mean, my purview, according to who? I mean, I don`t have a congressional mandate, right? I can comment on whatever I want to comment on. And ultimately, your viewers and others will determined as to whether I`m credible or not. And I think thus far, I have shown myself to be fairly credible.
MELBER: Well, I think it is fair to say, this far, some of the things that you have said in the information that you have referred to or provided has borne out. I mean, part of our job is to show folks that you have an agenda just like Mr. Cohen, just like other people in this active lawsuit and then get to the facts of what is verifiable.
I want you to stay with me, Michael. I want to bring in legal analyst known to our viewers Maya Wiley, who is a former council to mayor of New York City, as well as Matt Miller, former DOJ spokesperson and to add criminal defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez.
We are starting with Maya for Michael Avenatti. What do you think of his view of this, and do you have a question for him?
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Well, I would start with a question, in which is Mr. Avenatti, since your primary goal in representing your client is the NDA that she has been covered by is essentially ruled null and void by a court, that it has no legal premise, I`m just wondering how that actually attaches to the rest of the investigation that we are talking about. You have certainly been credible in the sense what you brought forward has borne fruit, but what exactly is Stephanie Clifford`s interesting beyond her ability to speak about an incident that happened to her with Donald Trump.
AVENATTI: Well, I think our efforts are clear that they are focused on four primary goals. One, invalidation of the NDA on multiple grounds, including that it violated campaign finance public policy, et cetera. That`s number one. Number two, holding Mr. Cohen responsible for his defamatory statements regarding my client seeking damages. Number three, holding Mr. Trump responsible for his defamatory against my client and seeking damages. And then fourth, an overall and general believe that the truth in the evidence relating the Michael Cohen, his thuggish tactics, his intimidation tactics and his business practices that are illegal should be borne out and laid bare for the American people. And I don`t understand why people would criticize my client or me for bringing that information to light. There`s nothing wrong with it. In fact people appear to appreciate it, including many journalists.
MELBER: Michael, stay with me.
Matt Miller, speak to that larger point, which does relate to the criminal culpability here that as we have discussed relates to several jurisdictions. And you can think of them as jurisdiction where Donald Trump could legally interfere and pardon and those where he can`t. And that`s why tonight`s news maybe especially acute and scary both for Michael Cohen is our reporting is facing now an individual who can cooperate again him, but also for Donald Trump, if he see state charges bare fruit.
With that in mind, Matt Miller, also speak to the point Mr. Avenatti raised which is if there is a fusion here, if there is a kind of Stormy Daniels implication (ph) of everything and a sloppiness to that, that is the product of Michael Cohen`s decision to commingle these funds, to use the same essential consultants` secret account. And now to have a lot of folks digging into all of that, Matt?
MATT MILLER, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CHIEF SPOKESMAN: Yes. I think that`s exactly right.
Look, on the first point I have always been somewhat skeptical of the idea that it would be a joint investigation between the state, attorney general`s office and Bob Mueller, the special counsel whose ultimate charge is investigating Russian interference in the election. And whether any Americans took part. Whether some joint investigation in that regard would produce state charges, it seems to me for the most part that is not within the state attorney general`s mandate.
This separate matter into Michael Cohen is an entirely different question. If you look at the kind of exposure that Michael Cohen has, you can see, you know, on the federal level fraud charges. You can see potential tax charges. And on at the state, you know, charges of, you know, violating state laws that appears his business partner did in terms of how he ran his taxi business.
So this is a different area where I think you could see, you know, very robust cooperation by state and federal investigators, where state investigators bring charge when it`s appropriate and you have got leverage to get him to flip in a federal case or even vice versa. And you could see the southern district of New York decline to bring charges and defer them to the state if they thought that was the most effective way, because it meant he was cabined off and couldn`t be parted by the President of the United States.
MELBER: Ambrosio, as a criminal defense attorney, what do you see here in this news?
AMBROSIO RODRIGUEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think what happened today in Albany is a very bad turn of events for Mr. Cohen. He has been referred to as his business partner. This was really his mentor who brought him into the taxi business. He knows where everything is. And his cooperation with federal authorities against Michael Cohen, I think will expose Michael Cohen to such great criminal liability that`s it`s just a matter of time before we start talking about Michael Cohen having flipped and turn on the President which would be earth shattering whence when that happens.
MELBER: Ambrosio, you think based on your knowledge of the pressures and the way this works, that is of what likelihood? 50-50? 80-20?
RODRIGUEZ: 99-1. I mean, look at the deal he that got. I mean, he was 25 years per charges. He got what? Five years of something very dominium (ph). I think, look. As a former prosecutor and as a defense attorney now, I always look in a situation like this is what is the maximum exposure that a defendant is facing and what deal does he get? The kind of the chasm between his maximum and what he`s getting show how much information he has. Federal prosecutors made deals based on what you have and what you can give them.
MELBER: Yes. So let me turn to Michael Avenatti on that point. A 99-1, and this comes from, as we mentioned, independent analyst and criminal defense expert. Listen though to Donny Deutsche giving his recent assessment from primary source conversation with Michael Cohen about flipping.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael`s words to me, he is loyal. He said says I would rather jump out of a building than turn on Donald Trump. You know, he is fiercely -- that may change over time, but he has this fierce, fierce, you know, fierce loyalty that`s almost inexplicable at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Almost inexplicable to the point, Michael Avenatti, that is, you know, it has become something of a literal national joke with the Ben Stiller impression on "SNL" as Michael Cohen, inexplicably loyal. What in tonight`s news, though, makes you so convinced and you`ve been saying for some time, he will not withstand the pressure?
AVENATTI: Well, Ari, a lot of criminal defendants take this position and they have state this unequivocally when they are immediately arrest either shortly before or after their arrest. Then reality starts to set in and they begin to look at how serious the charges are and how serious the potential years and how many years, and they realize that they could likely die in prison if they don`t flip or provide information. And you would be amazed at how quickly they soften and take a completely counter-position. And I`m confident, highly confident, that that ultimately what is going to happen with Michael Cohen.
But I want to raise an issue that I think is very important for your viewers to understand and for people to start thinking about. If Michael Cohen is not careful, he is going to put himself on an island if the following is true. Now Mr. Giuliani made a statement last week, and I don`t believe a lot of what Mr. Giuliani says these days, frankly. But he made a statement that Mr. Mueller had made it known to -- and I believe Mr. Giuliani and others that Mr. Mueller does not believe a sitting President can be indicted federally.
Now, if that`s true, Mr. Cohen could have a significant, significant problem. And that is that he could be charged with countless very serious criminal acts and be facing an enormous amount of time and not have anyone to flip on, not have the ability to trade information, in which case he could be in a very, very bad spot.
Now, depending on what happens with the state charges, that might be different. But if Mr. Giuliani is to be believed, and if Mr. Cohen continues to take this position as opposed to get into the U.S. attorney`s office like yesterday and sitting down with them and beginning that dialogue, if he waits too long, the clock is going to run out. And he could be in a terrible spot.
MELBER: And Maya Wiley, we have spent the significant balance of our time looking at the significance of this to what is an open criminal probe into the President of the United States regarding his potential obstruction on a week when he has been cracking down in very blatant ways on the justice department and on whether there was a conspiracy with a foreign power to effectively subvert American democracy, aka big stuff.
But I would be remiss as the reporter of record here not to point out that again tonight we are also learning about the uncontroverted crimes of people in and around Donald Trump, even if he has absolved of the other stuff I just mentioned. In other words, if this were the Obama presidency and it was yet another individual, again not presumed innocent, this is a plea deal. This is an acceptance of guilt. This is another person linked to the upper most reaches of the Trump organization. Michael Cohen being an executive there and the Trump`s personal attorney of ten years who is now saying, by the way, I`m a criminal too.
WILEY: I think the question that this raises is whether or not there`s a criminal enterprise. So I think that`s what we don`t know, right. So let me just be clear.
MELBER: What do you mean? That there`s a larger mob-style activity.
WILEY: That`s right. If you actually have -- now, we know that Michael Cohen has a lot of businesses, right. So it doesn`t mean that any of the businesses there may actually be the subject of criminal indictment -- investigation indictment are ones connected to the Trump organization, but that`s a real question now.
I think we -- this is something that we need to understand. And I`m sure that prosecutors are going to be trying to understand, is the connection between various forms of criminal activity. Just take 2014, where we actually -- the "New York Times" had reported that Michael Cohen actually sold four buildings for $32 million in one day for cash. And that he was the kind of person a bank wouldn`t go to.
Now, if that`s the kind of real estate deal that someone who is very closely connected to a real estate developer is engaged in, it does raise questions. It doesn`t mean we know the answers. It does raised question.
And I want to just go back to one thing that Mr. Avenatti said earlier in response to my question which was thuggishness. And that is why I raised that. If it is true that this helps uncover whether or not, for instance, Stephanie Clifford was threatened by someone at the direction of Michael Cohen -- we don`t know, but if that`s a connection, I can completely understand the relevance of trying to understand an enterprise of activity.
MELBER: Right. And that is something that the feds are now we see for the first time officially as state prosecutors involve with is trying to figure out if everyone is acting like gangsters, is that because they are gangsters?
Michael Avenatti, thank you for phoning in on a busy news here. Appreciate you taking your views to THE BEAT.
Ambrosio Rodriguez and Maya Wiley, very appreciated it. Matt Miller, stay with me.
Now coming up, there are new accusations about how Trump is (INAUDIBLE) another probe, as I mentioned and making it even more partisan and congressional oversight.
Also, Trump putting American secrets in jeopardy? It is all about, yes, his phones.
And as I have been mentioning throughout the day on MSNBC, we have a very Special Report on Rudy Giuliani, and a panel of experts who have tangled with him for decades, talking about his return to team Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: There is just America!
From the top to the bottom, from the middle to the side, I said Islamic extremist terrorism, you know who you are. And we are coming to get you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: From the middle to the side and windows to the wall, I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: We have been reporting on this breaking news about a new plea deal involving an associate the Michael Cohen. That is the hunt. That is the pressure on the White House.
At the same time tonight, the top Democrat in Congress making an explosive charge about how the White House is responding, saying Republicans are now making a partisan brazen interference with the Mueller probe and Paul Ryan letting it happen.
We are going to breakdown for you exactly what is happening. Basically, the White House announced today that the DOJ has agreed to another Trump demand to hold the meeting on the Russia with only Republican officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: To my knowledge, the Democrats have not requested that information. So I would refer you back to them on why they would consider themselves randomly invited to see something they have never asked to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Democrats are upset about that. They say the DOJ should not be basically giving into Republican demands for information about the open Russian probe. But if there is going to be a meeting, then it should include everyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: If they are going to do it, there`s -- and they seem -- and you know, you take them at their word, all this should be a fair process. It should be bipartisan. So for every Republican at the table there should be the Democratic counterpart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Just a very strong, strong Democratic push back there.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump`s appointee, Rod Rosenstein is caving to all of this, just like he did caved for Trump`s demand to have some sort of investigation or internal inquiry into the open Russia probe, what we were covering last night.
But let`s be clear, Rod Rosenstein didn`t have to do any of that. In fact there are many times we have seen when Trump ask for things to just be investigated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just today already, President Trump is tweeting a promise to ask for what he calls a major investigation into voter fraud.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: This is from the President quote "watching Senator Richard Blumenthal speak of Comey is a joke."
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: It was another first for President Trump today who publicly challenged his own attorney general to investigate the Obama administration for not doing enough to counter Russian interference in the 2016 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, we checked the record. Those first two Trump demands, investigation into voter fraud and some sort of probe into Senator Blumenthal were basically ignored by anyone who might do the investigations.
Meanwhile, the last one, this call to somehow lump Obama officials into his own problems? Well, now Rosenstein is basically telling the DOJ watchdog to take a look at that. And that is the bigger question tonight. Why would a DOJ, let by someone who claims independence, suddenly start giving into the twitter demands?
We turn to Rebecca Roiphe, professor at New York law school who has been a scholar in Presidential relations with the DOJ and has quoted in the "New York Times" piece today about her forthcoming research. And Matt Miller is back with me.
Matt, big picture, you have a piece in "the Washington Post" I believe arguing this may be the most serious Trump inappropriate DOJ meddling since the firing of Comey. Why?
MILLER: Well, this is the time where, you know, we have seen a lot of kind of diffuse demands, and he asks for investigation. And sometimes it`s not clear, if he want congressional investigation or he wants DOJ, if he wants someone else to do it.
This time he was directly reaching into the department saying, he did it on twitter on Sunday that I`m going to, you know, formally do it tomorrow, to demand an investigation into political opponents, the former, you know, Obama administration official, you now, from the last administration and career law enforcement agents. He was directly -- basically, ordering a department of justice investigation.
And, you know, what worries me is I think I get what Rod Rosenstein is doing. I think he is trying to buy time and buy space for the investigation, at least I hope this is what he is doing.
And if you can just get enough time, give Bob Mueller enough space without the President completely blowing up the justice department and either removing Rosenstein or removing Mueller, that it`s worth giving up a little ground and giving up some of the department`s independence.
What worries me is that Rod has set the red line so far down the road. That he said it basically at a fire, you know, being in order to do, you know, something, you know, in order to shut down the investigation, that by the time we get there, Trump will have basically already swamped the justice department, changed the norms in such a way that things that would have once been unthinkable, like having a meeting with the FBI director and the acting AG where you discuss an investigation into yourself as the President did yesterday, are now just commonplace.
REBECCA ROIPHE, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL: So I don`t agree. I think that Rod Rosenstein has maintained his integrity and is protecting prosecutorial independence which is a fundamental concept and a fundamental part of American democracy. I think he has done it by refusing to cross the line, where he undermines that fundamental concept that prosecutor should actually be doing investigation and bringing prosecution.
And by having the internal investigation, he has invited process, but that process does not involve any kind of prosecutorial discretion or any interference with prosecutorial discretion.
MELBER: If it was a good idea on Sunday, why wasn`t it a good idea on Friday? Why did it take a Trump tweet for Rosenstein to do this?
ROIPHE: Well, Trump`s tweet, obviously, -- we have a President who has no regard for these norms. And Trump`s tweet made it very clear that this was an actual demand. So in my mind what Rod Rosenstein is doing is essentially putting his body between Donald Trump and this principle that`s fundamental to American democracy. He is doing that by making concessions when he has to make concessions.
Now look. We are not going to know until hindsight whether that`s the right decision or he should actually say this is fundamentally inappropriate and I won`t comply.
MELBER: What I`m hearing you say is that because Rod Rosenstein responded to this conspiracy theory demand not with an order to do a criminal probe, but through using the internal watchdog, the inspector general Michael Horowitz, it`s not as bad as a criminal probe. I think everyone who studied the issue would agree with that because the criminal probe is the most serious thing.
But if conspiracy theory tweets can be used to do internal reviews while there is an open probe, that would seem to itself dredge up similar problems that you are studying that are the issue, and then you have basically the internal watch dog going around during open probes, putting everyone under oath and getting them in potential trouble. And we covered on the show last night of how that went with the deputy director who was a Russia witness, who was supposed to back up Jim Comey, but now he doesn`t have a pension, and Donald Trump tweeted him and dragged him across the country and Michael Horowitz effectively helped.
ROIPHE: Yes. I mean, it`s a strategic question. There has been a gradual erosion of these principles. And it`s upsetting, disturbing, troubling. The main question is, is it good to have people there who are trying to protect them? Or do you want those people to provoke some kind of reaction where ultimately they are going to be fired and they are going to end up on the side of the road with Comey and Yates commenting from the outside.
And from my perspective, at least still these institutions and these principles need people on the inside who are doing what they can to protect them.
MELBER: And I think what is interesting about, and why we welcome your views, you are making that analysis and pre-supposing that that maintains Rod Rosenstein`s position. I think what Matt Miller is gesturing at is the possibility that actually when you negotiate with these kind of ridiculous conspiracy theory tweets, Trump will get everything he can out of these people and then he will still fire them and leave the proverbial body on the side of the road as he has done with many, many aide or assistant. I don`t think we have the answers to that. It`s an empirical question that will be answered as our great empire and republic continues to struggle through 2018.
Matt Miller and Rebecca Roiphe, thank you both.
Up next we turn to something else that`s very important. We have a very special segment on the highest-profile lawyer to get involved in all of this. It`s a reassessment of Rudy Giuliani, once know as it New York City`s very combative mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: They wanted to have sick and sensational works so they could raise more money. You should not be having public taxpayers have to contribute to pedophiles on parade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: His journey from prosecuting criminals to now defending the criminal allegations that might ensnare President Trump and his aides.
And expert of round -- we have a round table of experts, I should say, who know him better than most. And we are back in 60 seconds.
MELBER: The criminal defense in Donald Trump now rests in the hands of a man with very little recent experience as a criminal defense attorney, Rudy Giuliani. And tonight we have a special report exploring how Trump is turning to Giuliani as he ramps up these attacks on the Russia probe. He`s ditched his past lawyers like Ty Cobb and John Dowd. Trump signaling he wants a T.V. brawler and we have a very special panel for this discussion. A man who helps shape the New York Times coverage during Giuliani`s entire mayoral tenure Howell Raines, Attorney and Executive Director for Center for Constitutional Rights, Vince Warren who sued the Giuliani administration. We also have a man who literally ran to succeed Giuliani as mayor, Mark Green and Jennifer Rodgers who served in the exact same federal prosecutorial office as Giuliani after his tenure. Thanks to everyone for being here. Rudy is in the center of everything. And Jennifer, let me start with you. If he has so much experience why does he seem so bad at defending the President lately?
JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, that`s really the question Ari. I mean, once upon a time Rudy Giuliani was a real lawyer I mean he ran what I think biased but is the best prosecutors office in the world. And here he is seemingly not understanding what the law is, not knowing how to apply facts to the law or maybe more likely purposely misrepresenting what the law is and what the facts are in order to serve different purposes.
MELBER: We`re going to get to some of the disagreements I think that are at the table with Giuliani, but on the performance, why so problematic?
MARK GREEN, FIRST PUBLIC ADVOCATE OF NEW YORK CITY: Who`s his client? How do you square a circle? And so the circle is a lava of lies and deception and rhetorical questions because Trump, you know, he can`t tell the truth. So Rudy`s job is to sanitize this which you think he`d be good at because well he was a smarter more skilled lawyer of course as mayor. Now, one of his deputy mayors said to me in a piece I wrote for the Daily News, we all think he`s lost it.
MELBER: Lost it.
GREEN: Lost it. I don`t need intelligence. He liked Kellyanne Conway like Trump, they speed lie, they speed shift narratives, all to avoid the essential reality. 73Russian contacts, not simply -- not simply firing Comey which is notorious and open, but Bharara gate, I mean all these other people that he`s done that with became and now maybe Rosenstein.
MELBER: Right. You`re saying how good a poker player you are does depend to some degree on the hand you have. Thinking about what he did in New York, you know another odd part of choosing him is he doesn`t have a lot of this actual criminal experience. And when you look back at his political career, he was touting himself not as an advocate of defendants but as a crime fighter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will prosecute the biggest drug cases, to medium-size drug cases, and the street drug cases.
We`ve doubled the number of people that have been prosecuted and convicted.
That an awful lot of time was being spent distributing drugs and engaging in fraudulent securities practices.
Squeegee operators and excessive noise and aggressive panhandling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police are now cracking down hard on such offenses.
GIULIANI: I want to show people improvement in the quality of their life that things are getting better for them.
Crime is down by numbers that stagger people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re hearing from a different Giuliani now who`s looking at a lot of the arguments for defendants at least one.
VINCE WARREN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Yes. And you know he`s very good about talking about fighting crime unless it`s actually the Police Department which are the people that he needs to fight. So, anybody that knows anything about New York twenty years ago that we had in 1992 a 10,00 person riot on City Hall, those 10,000 people were New York City police officers and in fact Rudy Giuliani was running for mayor at the time and incited them essentially to take over and push back against the current -- the then current mayor who was David Dinkins. In 1997 we had Abner Louima who was a man who was brutalized by police officers in Brooklyn and he couldn`t, Rudy could not bring himself, could not bring himself to even talk about that other than to say let`s wait until the facts come in. And then there`s Amadou Diallo --
MELBER: Who was shot 41 times.
WARREN: 41 times by police officers which actually, most people don`t know this, in 1999, that was the impetus for my organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights to file against the street crimes unit which became the stop-and-frisk case that we won in 2013.
MELBER: So do you feel a sense of profound frustration or hypocrisy with seeing this person who`s acted this way now make all the arguments for defendants that they should be presumed innocent, that they shouldn`t have to testify all these types of things?
WARREN: I would say that it`s profound otherworldliness. It`s very strange to hear him make these kinds of arguments. You know, he`s known after September 11th as America`s mayor. Prior to September 11th, he was New York`s nightmare.
HOWELL RAINES, FORMER EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Ari, I said on your show right after the Hannity interview that I thought Rudy had lost it and many agreed. I`m stepping off on a different foot tonight. I think because of this extravagant performance he`s put on that his client is in better shape P.R. wise and politically today than he was two weeks ago.
MELBER: Why do you say that?
RAINES: Well, what you know, the old saw among southern lawyers and I guess it`s true among lawyers everywhere, if the law is on your side, you argue the law. If the facts are on your side, you are the facts. If nothing`s on your side, you attack, attack, attack the character and patriotism and every other aspect of the personality of your opponent. And that`s what we`re seeing. And as a diversionary tactic, Rudy has done something I think that solidifies the four out of ten Americans who believe this man should be President. And that is he has shifted the debate from whether we trust him to deal with our historic enemy Russia to whether we as Americans trust our Justice Department and our FBI.
MELBER: And I think what you say is important because it goes beyond the evidence sloppiness of some of the interviews and to these other attacks. What I want to do is play something that I think more Americans were -- a bunch of New York figures here on this table, but Americans, of course, think about 9/11 and that attack that obviously profoundly affected New York and the rest of the city. It burned this image of course in the minds of many. He was Person of the Year and he emerged very ready for that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: People should remain calm, should remain where they are, except if they are in Southern Manhattan. If you`re below Canal Street, you should walk out Southern Manhattan and walk north.
Tomorrow New York is going to be here and we`re going to rebuild and we`re going to be stronger than we were before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: 9/11, a horrific day. Everyone remembers it in New York. You were here as a New Yorker. You were also a candidate that was primary day. Rudy Giuliani is lionized for that more than almost anything else in his career.
GREEN: He went as you said from Nixon to Churchill overnight and we know the night. And I was 40 blocks north shaking hands because it was primary day in the Democratic primary. I saw the plane sticking out of World Trade, so I didn`t hear about it on television so it was hard to process. My first impulse as the number two city official was to go down there. And then aide said, Mark today you`re a politician. This is the Mayor`s job. I agree with how -- Rudy was a perfect pick for Trump. They were losing to Mueller in on a legal basis. They could handle that eventually, probably not, but they were losing to Avenatti and Mueller on the P.R. until they had no answer to Avenatti and this is supposed to be that Trump`s metier. Giuliani is he`s technically a lawyer, he`s a television demagogue who imitates Trump`s -- I don`t have these southern aphorisms, but the British say perhaps wrong but never in doubt. They have imitated the patent of Sean Hannity. We all try to do it but they do it because they`re more shameless where you just assert zero campaign finance violations, you cannot indict a sitting president, oh really what if he commits murder? So Giuliani has helped in that way but I used to tell a joke about Rudy when I was number two city official and he`s number one. Thinking about Giuliani is either you love him or he hates you. That --
MELBER: That`s Trump.
GREEN: That`s Trump.
MELBER: That`s Trump. That`s Trump. Take a listen Jennifer to of course Rudy`s ability as a leader in New York to pick fights sometimes with equals and sometimes not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says the mayor has taken a labor dispute and turned it into a racial one.
GIULIANI: You should not be having public taxpayers have to contribute to pedophiles on parade.
There`s something deranged about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No there isn`t, sir.
GIULIANI: You -- the excessive concern that you have for Ferrets is something you should examine with a therapist. This excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RODGERS: Wow. I mean look, this is not the way that you talk in the courtroom, right? This is the way you talk on T.V. and apparently on radio. This will not play once you`re really talking about litigation, which is why if we end up with a subpoena that`s being litigated, if we end up with charges, if we end up with an impeachment proceeding, things are going to be different coming out of Giuliani`s mouth if he`s even in the mix at that point but this is a different game.
MELBER: And Howell, do you recall what the New York Times Editorial position was on Ferrets at the time?
RAINES: I was shocked. I remember the clip now that you`ve prompted me. I was shocked when I got to New York to live full time for the first time of my past career in 1993. I`d grown up around some tough southern politicians, even milder mannered politicians like Rudy -- like Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had some hard knuckle guys around them. But I had never seen the anger level that inhabited New York politics. Mark knows this world better than I but it was even as a seasoned journalist, I was taken aback and I learned about it firsthand the two most angry phone calls I received as editorial page of the New York Times were from Governor Cuomo and Mayor Giuliani. The latter so intense that I said, Mayor, I`m here to listen to your complaints but I can`t be talked to this way. It was really -- he`s off the charts.
GREEN: He treated everybody like a ferret. And so periodically, when he was at an event, he`s the mayor, he would say I`ll go. If booth messenger who are against him in 1997 and Mark Green, don`t go. In other words it`s more bully than pulpit. It is pure Trump using your political leverage to get your way which sometimes works in elections but not so well with Robert Mueller.
MELBER: Well, for viewers who are thinking about how central Rudy is going to be as this fight plays out, you may have left us with the best memory. He treats everyone like a ferret. But also interesting to hear even critics of Rudy Giuliani they say that part of what he`s doing may be working. My special thanks to a special panel, Vince, Howell, Jennifer and Mark. And that`s not all. There is new reporting we`re going to turn to next. Donald Trump`s personal cell phone use could put American secrets in jeopardy. Malcolm Nance, up ahead.
MELBER: Security experts say Donald Trump is jeopardizing American secrets and himself by resisting security measures for his phone. Sources say Trump refuses to use these security features offered by the U.S. government and they -- that increases his risk of both surveillance or hacking. Trump has personal phones for calls and tweeting political reporting that aides urged him to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis. Trump has resisted telling them it was "too inconvenient." One expert says Trump`s use of a standard iPhone could provide an opening for foreign countries to track his every word. Now putting personal interests above operational security is what Trump attacked Clinton on over e-mail during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary even sold out our nation`s security with her illegal private server.
She should be in jail for what she did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This political report also explains how Trump divides his activities into two different phones noting he uses one phone capable only of making calls and another equipped with the Twitter app and a handful of news sites. Now there is a famous Kevin Gates song about having two phones, one for the plug and one for the load. That refers to a phone for purchasing contraband and then selling it. The idea is that the extra phone is a precaution. Donald Trump has two phones, one for the calls and one for the tweets, but tonight`s leaks suggests neither may be very secure. I`m joined now by former intelligence officer Malcolm Nance. How much of a risk is it that foreign governments would track a phone that`s not secured be it one two or more?
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it certainly is a risk for the national security of the United States but it`s no risk for these foreign governments going out and tracking such an easy device such as this. Look, there`s a reason that the White House Communications Team which is also has links to the National Security Agency divided him up into two phones and that`s because they probably have some security measures on the voice phone and on one the one with the applications. It probably routes through another location which is makes it hard to get. However, you have to understand, Donald Trump has been a high-value, high person of interest communications intercept target for the Russian Special Communications Information Service, they`re NSA since 2013. They have known all about him. They`ve been through his mobile phones, his tweets, everything, everybody he`s talk to you because when he arrived there for the Miss Universe pageant he -- you know, he was an open book. He was using his own phones. So when he became president and was on the way to becoming president, it would -- he would have become the highest target in the Russian inventory --
MELBER: On that point, Barack Obama talked about this openly during the transition period because he apparently, unlike this new reporting about Trump was following the security advice. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As of this moment you still have your blackberry?
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As of this moment, I still do. This is a concern I should add not just of Secret Service but also lawyers. You know, this town is full of lawyers. I don`t know if you`ve noticed and --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is there something about Donald Trump`s general lack of respect for the rules and the advice that plays into what seems to be an action that hurts himself too. I mean, it doesn`t hurt U.S. security, this seems to be against his interest, no?
NANCE: Well, you know he`s quite a luddite. Other than you know, using Twitter and talking on the phone, you know, he`s the chief so I don`t think he cares and I don`t think he listens to his briefings and I certainly know -- I mean, based on the you know, some of the testimony we`ve heard from Admiral Rogers and others, you know, he`s not interested in cyber or communications security in any way shape or form. There are voice cellular intercept systems around Washington D.C. which are being run by hostile intelligence agencies. And they`re not just inside these embassy, you know. I myself was set up in innocuous locations and use systems that look like you know, briefcases or you know, laptops and can be left alone remotely and operated from foreign countries to pinpoint where he is and if possible mimic a cell tower, lower the threshold and then get what he`s saying.
MELBER: Right. And Malcolm, sometimes it`s very complex but you`ve boiled it down here. He don`t care. Maybe it`s a honey badger don`t care kind of moment for the President on this security issue. Malcolm Nance, thank you. Now take a look at this everyone. This is the big island in Hawaii. There is this new ongoing volcanic eruption lava in the air and Miguel Almaguer is there for us. He joins me live next.
MELBER: Turning to a big story in another part of America. NBC`s Miguel Almaguer in Hawaii. What is happening with the volcano?
MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ari, you can see this is one of those massive fissures that have broken open. It is certainly a sight to behold. I can tell you it`s also very frightening the power that this fissure has. We know it has torn up and down the area here behind me. We`re a safe distance away from it but we can certainly feel its heat and its power. At times it rumbles the ground. This fissure in particularly is worrisome because it`s closing in on a geothermal plant that is not far away from here. It`s also the reason why so many property and homes have been destroyed. The number is at at least 40 though. The true extent of the damage is unclear because there`s no way officials can access some of the lava fields out here. They`re simply too dangerous. Officials say that -- geologists say that what`s happening behind me, there`s no timetable on when it`ll stop so the damage and the destruction we`re seeing and the threat it`s imposing will likely continue for quite some time, Ari.
MELBER: And briefly, the measures people are taking to stay safe?
ALMAGUER: 2,000 people have evacuated many more hunkered down in their homes with masks but it`s simply a dangerous situation for some because these fissures can break out anywhere. And when they do, they are explosive.
MELBER: Extraordinary. Miguel Almaguer, thank you for your reporting and obviously stay safe. Here on THE BEAT, we will be right back.
MELBER: A lot happened tonight, but we are done here. I`ll see you back on THE BEAT tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. But keep it locked on MSNBC right now because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Attack the prosecutors. Let`s play HARDBALL.
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