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Russian Oligarch secretly met Michael Cohen. TRANSCRIPT: 05/25/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Maya Wiley, Randy Credico, Andre Leon Talley, Howell Raines

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: May 25, 2018 Guest: Maya Wiley, Randy Credico, Andre Leon Talley, Howell Raines

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

Tonight, we have a very special show and we begin with breaking news. New heat on Michael Cohen as he is busted for a Trump tower Russia meeting that has never been disclosed before.

Michael Cohen secretly met with a sanctioned Russian billionaire just 11 days before Donald Trump`s inauguration, a meeting that was publicly exposed today and it is now under investigative scrutiny. And there`s video.

Cohen met with Viktor Vekselberg at Trump tower. Notice that name rings a bell tonight? It is because it is the very same oligarch questioned by Mueller`s investigators, the same oligarch behind the company that funneled half a million dollars to Michael Cohen`s shell company that, yes, paid Stormy Daniels.

Now, the context is key. Vexleberg is considered so clearly and blatantly close to Putin that even the Trump administration has sanctioned him. He is not a Russian government employee per se. But he is actually something what is more important, supremely wealthy Russian government fixer who doesn`t things for Putin, like spending millions on Faberge eggs that were supposed to come back to Russia for a Kremlin for a display case.

So keep that in mind when you recall that Michael Cohen has not only disclaim did he outreached to Russia, but he has also said he doesn`t talk to Russian government people.


MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP`S LAWYER: I`m telling you, I was not in Prague. They claim that they have photos of me with some Russian government -- photos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see any hookers while you were in Prague?

COHEN: I have never been to Prague. I have never been to Russia.


MELBER: Release the photos. But look at it like this tonight. If you string enough photos together, you get moving images. And here are some photos to release. Here is the video, this is airing on MSNBC for the first time tonight showing the Russian government-linked oligarch and his cousin entering trump tower to meet with Michael Cohen.

And since they were caught on tape, you are looking at it, there aren`t really any denials on this part of the story tonight. Instead, Vekselberg is lying to "The New York Times" that this meeting was about a quote "mutual desire to strengthen Russia`s relations with the U.S. under Trump." And Cohen would go on to get money from that firm, Vekselberg. And the very same week, Donald Trump was still publicly touting Cohen whether he was going to get an administration job or not.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michael Cohen, I was -- Michael Cohen is a very talented lawyer. He is a good lawyer and my friend. But I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we --.


MELBER: Now, that was happening, those statements there in the press conference, during the transition in that key time that we know the meeting took place. Trump arguing that basically, he would stay away from Russia. That was his last trip in 2013.

So here is what is big tonight. Forget all the Trump conspiracy theories. That`s the push-back. Look at why the temperature is so high in the White House. This news as to do the evidence that Russia was more than willing to some to Trump and to his very close confidant that he was praising in public that very week.

I`m joined by Maya Wiley, an attorney and former council to mayor of New York and former Vermont governor and DNC chair, Howard Dean.

Maya, what does this show for the investigation?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Well, basically, it means that Michael Cohen is in deep trouble, deep trouble, because there have been clear connections. We already knew there was an email exchange between him and Felix Sater in 2015 when they were trying to create the Moscow Trump hotel, right. That he could get them to Putin, that he could get help create that relationship. And that they could get their boy elected, right?

So there are extra emails that suggest a relationship that includes both business dealings and winning the presidency. We don`t know more about what that means, but now you have the fact that he has close meetings. Remember that Vekselberg was a person who gave -- whose cousin and later was actually was supporting the Trump campaign, supported the inauguration. And that he was at the inauguration with Trump himself.

MELBER: Right. The Intrater who is a big part of this money trail.

WILEY: He is Vekselberg`s cousin.

MELBER: And his cousin. So this is all in the family. And then consider the fact that we don`t know everyone that Mueller has interviewed, but we do have a growing list from the leaks that come from a lot of witnesses. And so, what is fascinating is Bob Mueller is focused mostly on Americans. A lot of people involved in the Trump campaign which make sense.

Ben when it comes to foreigners, one of the people he has interviewed is this same person that we just showed, caught on tape in this video, "New York Times" noting earlier this year, Mueller`s investigators stop Vekselberg at an airport when he was flying on a private jet in New York. Mueller`s investigators interviewed Mr. Intrater twice focusing on his dealing with quote "Mr. Cohen."

It seems that as more comes out, this is a bigger part of the Russian collusion probe that was initially understood.

WILEY: That`s absolutely right because what we need for a conspiracy, which is essentially what we have been talking about, is an agreement between more than one person. Trump would have had to have some knowledge in connection to it but he wouldn`t have to take any direct action personally necessarily. If he knew about it, he knew about the criminal intent, if there was criminal intent. And so this is some of the thing that is put us much more closely in the circle of potential conspiracy which really is the brass ring formula.

MELBER: The brass ring.

Howard Dean, that`s a lot of the law. There`s also the politics, which is the extraordinary way that the Republican national committee is keeping Cohen on board. Take a look at this new today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Cohen, last time we spoke, you told me he was still working as a deputy finance chair for the RNC. Is that still the case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is still the case. You know, there`s ongoing litigation and we`ll take that step by step, but yes, he is still.


MELBER: Howard?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: This is very dangerous. Trump is really infecting the entire Republican Party with his swamp. He is the swamp. And he has brought the swamp to Washington. The thing that is astonishing about it is how un-careful he is. Mueller is following the money around. When you follow the money around, if this Russian oligarch who was close to Putin paid $500,000 to Cohen and Cohen used it for Trump`s benefit. That`s obstruction of justice.

I think the RNC is now at risk of being charged with obstruction of justice for hiring Cohen in what is most likely a no-show job to keep his head above water expense-wise while getting investigated. These guys, you know, we are all talking about this really confusing stuff for the general public on television. Mueller has a paper trail, which shows a hell of a lot of money being laundered. I have to believe this is really dangerous for the Republican Party.

MELBER: Right. And the fact that maybe the Republican Party feels they are in deep enough that it looks bad to get Cohen out because it`s kind of an admission. But keeping him in, and also obviously look bad.

I want you both to stay with me. I want to add Clarence Page, a "Chicago Tribune" columnist and one of our Russian (ph) experts.

Clarence. There is pay (INAUDIBLE), there is pay to play and there is actual chargeable corruption. How is this playing in Washington, a town that has low standards but still?

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, if I can paraphrase the President, who knew that collusion charges could be so complicated. And they were seeing tentacles going out in various directions here. We knew that Mr. Trump and his family were very much involved in Russian financiers. But what we are learning is how many different branches there are here. And also Michael Cohen`s role, central role, in connecting parts of the money flow.

Of course, what we don`t know is how much the President knew and when did he know it? If I could borrow a Watergate phrase. But that may be the central question that we are really poking at here. Meanwhile, as soon as we move up the ladder, people like Michael Cohen are putting themselves into some complex jeopardy here.

MELBER: Yes. And Andrew Intrater who Maya Wiley was mentioning as one of the people who basically carries out what this Russian billionaire wants to have happen, oddly kind of telling "The New York Times" about what it was like visiting Michael Cohen during that period. I remember walking in and seeing lots of boxes because Michael was packing up his office and looking forward to hanging out his own shingle, Mr. Intrater said.

Clarence, what do you make of that or he does not care? And so after they throw their money around and engaged in whatever various levels on suede collusion or not, they will just talk to American media about it?

PAGE: Well, Cohen certainly did have a quite a growing empire there of connections and more and more all the time here. And he was operating out of Trump tower, in addition. So it does look like it is certainly part of the Trump Empire. But we have to establish is how firm the connections are and how much the President knew at that time as he was becoming President.

MELBER: Howard Dean, does any of this stick to the President politically, because even if it is not all the bases for charges, it is literally a lot of the things he accused Hillary Clinton of? Or is this such a high polarizing environment and the Russian probe has a legal component, which we always try to cover in a clear, legal way here, but it is obviously politically viewed through quite a prism out there.

DEAN: It very much sticks to the President. And I will give you a fascinating example. National public radio had a story this morning talking about the schism between conservative Catholics and the evangelicals. The evangelical, so-called Christians, are all-in with Trump regardless of his a morality. The Catholics are not. And the bishops are very upset about his immigration policy, his policies towards poor people. And so, the morality of Trump has infected his support. You know, he was helped by a lot of working class people, many of whom are Catholics. He is going to get a much smaller percentage of the catholic vote in 2018 and 2020 as a result of, I think, the bishop`s disgust with this kind of behavior.

MELBER: Clarence?

PAGE: Well, you know, I covered Chicago politics for a lot of years. I am just fascinated by the complexities of the corruption. But also by how much, how many Chicago citizens, especially first mayor Daley, supported the mayor as long as he got the garbage cans picked up and the snow cleared from the streets. This is how Trump supporters are judging him now. They are looking at the positive impact on their lives.

MELBER: But instead of, like, instead of clearing the garbage, it`s just pressuring the NFL and anti-speech policy. Is that the proverbial garbage in this analogy?

PAGE: Yes. I remember the Watergate scandal. Most folks in the Midwest didn`t seem to know about the complexities of it and didn`t really seem to care until Nixon resigned. And then everybody said, this was serious, wasn`t it? And then they began to figure out just why the President resigned. That`s where we are right now with this series of scandals as they come out. They are complicated. And folks wonder where is all this going to end.

So in the meantime, Trump and his supporters are playing on the public`s impatience saying Mueller`s been at this too long and he needs to stop. Well, that`s just not going to happen. But I think we are going to have to try to pay attention here to these complexities.

MELBER: Well, and Maya. I think the complexity, although it`s a fair point from our panelists here, but I think complexity can become kind of a dodge. If you are selling out the government for personal benefit, the way you do it might be complex, because you might be a sneaky lawyer.

WILEY: Right.

MELBER: I mean, that`s fine. But I think people understand what it means to sell out.

WILEY: The story is fairly straightforward. The facts that would be necessary to prove it are the complicated part. So if it`s pretty -- remember that one of the things that happened in Watergate is there was a smoking gun. It was the tapes.

MELBER: Right.

WILEY: And that really -- it wasn`t really the obstruction of justice charges that really got Nixon. It was the fact that he was on tape clearly engaging with criminal intent, right?

And I think part of the complexity here is going back to what Clarence is saying is, where and how are we going to get information about Trump`s direct connection to what Mueller is investigating. But the point here is, there`s so much that points to it, right? So if we have Donald Trump Jr. actively saying, I want those emails that might implicate Hillary Clinton. And then Trump -- he is part of his obstruction is, he`s not just -- he`s not saying, oh, I`m going to frame Comey. He is going to talk about why certain -- about why he was even meeting with the Russian attorney in June in Trump tower.

And so, when we put all the pieces together, the story seems pretty straight-forward. There`s so much lying going on. Trump himself has been lying actively and aggressively in ways that are public record right now. For the public, the question is, why lie? If he didn`t do anything wrong, why lie? And how are we going to believe that your son was doing something you didn`t know he was when your actual campaign was primarily led by your family.

So I think those parts of the story are fairly clear. I don`t think the American public that we have seen from the most recent polling believes Donald Trump tells the truth. We only 13 percent of Americans believe that he tells the truth. I think over time this really starts to erode politically for the Republicans.

And I think the problem for our country is, we have to be very careful how far we let it go because we have institutions of the government that need to work, that we need to protect if we`re going to have a democratic process.

MELBER: As we often say, when Mya Wiley finishes a breakdown, clerical (INAUDIBLE). I think you pointed very well.

Stay with me. I have something else to ask you about. Howard Dean and Clarence Page, thank you.

We are going turn immediately right now to another important story and the journalist who helps started it all.

New York authorities cuffed and charged Harvey Weinstein today. I`m about to speak with investigative reporter Megan Twohey. She broke the Weinstein story for the "The New York Times" in October. And she is here with me right now.

Let me explain the legal news, though. Weinstein is charged with three counts of rape and sexual assault and turned himself in today. Now, the once-powerful mogul was booked, charged and led out in handcuffs. He did not take questions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harvey, anything to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything to say, Harvey?


MELBER: Inside the courtroom, meanwhile, prosecutors laying out in general terms the case they will later have to prove in detail. The judge ensuring that defendant Weinstein also understood his bail.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He used his provision, money and power to situations where he was able to violate them sexually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Do you understand that?



MELBER: Over 90 women have publicly accused Weinstein of various kinds of assault. Today`s charges stem from just two of them for two counts of rape and one count of first degree sexual assault. The state alleging that he held one woman against her will and forcibly had sexual intercourse with her while she did not consent and grabbed the woman to physically force her into oral sex.

Now take a look at this. New York`s attorney general resigning recently because of his own assault allegations. That`s the context for what women are facing in New York. It was a different prosecutor that the Manhattan D.A. who also initially took a lot of heat for not dealing with this case and charging Weinstein originally in 2015. Weinstein`s lawyer though previewed the defense today that tries to cast Weinstein as a prevayer (ph) of bad behavior on the quote "casting couch but not a criminal."


BENJAMIN BRAFMAN, ATTORNEY FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN: My job is not to defend behavior. My job is to defend something that is criminal behavior. Bad behavior, Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood, and to the extent that there is bad behavior in that industry. That is not what this is about. Bad behavior is not on trial in this case. It`s only if you intentionally commit a criminal act and Mr. Weinstein vigorously denies that.


MELBER: Weinstein`s accusers had a different message today.


ROSE MCGOWAN, ACTRESS/WEINSTEIN`S ACCUSER: This is a big strike into the heart of abuse of power. And it shows people worldwide, which is what I was hoping the whole time, that this cannot and will not stand.


MELBER: Megan Twohey, that investigative reporter joins me now.

When you worked on this story and published it in October, did you expect this to happen today?

MEGAN TWOHEY, BROKE WEINSTEIN STORY, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I did not. I did not. When my reporting partner, Jodie, and I began our investigation, and basically, the spring of 2017, we were constantly looking into the eyes of the victims who were just terrified to come forward and go on the record. And I don`t think that anybody from the victims through us, the reporters, ever expected that we would see Harvey Weinstein today in handcuffs in court.

MELBER: When you talk to them, what did your reporting suggest they were most afraid of? Harvey Weinstein is someone who has relationships with the current President, Donald Trump, he had relationships with the Clintons and throwing his money around. He has relationships with media moguls, business elites, political elites. He employed private security. What scared the most?

TWOHEY: Well, I think that few people understood the various levels of protection that he had built around him over the years. The kind of complicity machine and various enablers who had risen to the occasion and helped him cover-up his pattern of misconduct. I mean, over the recent months, we have realized that there were, you know, high-powered lawyers who came in and had helped him pay hush money to women who made claims against him over the years.

There were in fact these private investigators who were dispatched to dig up dirt on the accusers and also on the reporters that were hot on this trail. And yes, he absolutely did have relationships with people in the media industry that instead of covering him were basically also helping to protect him.

And so for all these reasons, he had really, for year after year, decade after decade, appeared as untouchable. That he would, because of all his celebrity in power, never go down and that it would be the women who suffered damage to their careers if they spoke out.

MELBER: The NYPD was on this. There was this leaked sting audio recording, which calm out in the same period when you were doing this reporting. Let`s take a listen to that now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, please. I`m sorry. Just come on. I`m used to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re used to that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, but I`m not used to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t do it again, come on. Sit here for a minute, please?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don`t want to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you do this now you will -- now go. Never call me again. OK? I`m sorry, nice to -- I promise you I won`t do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, but yesterday was too much for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will never do another thing to you, five minutes. Don`t ruin your friendship to me for five minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, but it`s my life. It`s too much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please. You are making a big scene here, please.



MELBER: What do you hear on that recording? And what does it tell you about the investigative process?

TWOHEY: So the district attorney`s office that brought charges against Weinstein today in these two cases that are completely separate from that, you know, also in 2015 was brought a criminal case by a cop. There was a woman who had met an Italian model who had gone to Weinstein`s office for a business meeting. And within hours she reported to the police she was groped by him, that he tried to sexually abuse her. She wore the wire and got by many sort of interpretations and sounds like a confession. And yet the district attorney`s office didn`t bring the charges.

And so the office has come under a lot of criticism for that, especially in recent months when all the other allegations have come out against him. And so I think that the office was under intense pressure to make sure that it did its job this time around.

MELBER: Megan Twohey, who has literally been part of this story since you broke it, thank you for coming on HE BEAT tonight. I appreciate it.

TWOHEY: My pleasure.

MELBER: Ahead on THE BEAT, we have a very special guest fashion icon and former "Vogue" editor-at-large Andre (INAUDIBLE). Fallback Friday which should be good.

But first, you may have noticed if you are in the Internet, Roger Stone has been repeatedly attacking me personally and my reporting. I`m not going to respond to the personal part, but we have a very special report about Stone, emails and why his WikiLeaks contact are under even more scrutiny.

Also, Stone`s former associate Randy Credico is telling all with he just met with Adam Schiff`s investigators. And he is here and we are back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: Tonight, there is new heat on Trump advisor, Roger Stone. Bob Mueller subpoenaing two aides of Stone. He denies wrongdoing but now says he is prepared to be indicted. And then there`s this, "the Wall Street Journal" reporting a major headline for any collusion probe. Roger Stone sought information on Clinton from Assange emails show.

Now that may sound familiar because Stone has long bragged about outreach to WikiLeaks. What is new is these leaked emails revealing how far Stone went in trying get specific dirt on Clinton from WikiLeaks.

The Journal reporting on Stone`s emails, with radio host Randy Credico, one of the few Americans to interview Assange. Credico broke his silence about the interview on THE BEAT alleging Stone was a liar. And given these new reports that impacts Stone on the Mueller probe, Randy Credico is back with me tonight.

Now what everyone thinks of the players in this drama, here is why it matters. The new emails may shed light on where Mueller is headed, tackling the question of whether Roger Stone just hyped his WikiLeaks contacts but never came close to a crime or whether Stone ever took actions that could implicate him in an election conspiracy.

One of the newly-leaked emails shows the two discussing a future batch of stolen Clinton emails and noting they could not ask Assange for quote favors every other day. A former Clinton aide who has hacked responded to these leaked emails with this message, I am filled with rage.

And that is not all. The leaked emails go past the campaign and this year it shows Stone worrying that Credico was wearing a wire for Mueller. And Credico had also proclaim he would not comply with investigators.


RANDY CREDICO, RADIO HOST: Hillary Clinton two aides invoked the Fifth Amendment. Were they lying last year? So I invoked it because I do not want to sit down with that committee. I do not believe in that committee. I am not happy with Adam Schiff.


MELBER: That was a big claim. But like some other witnesses who threatened not to testify, we can report tonight, Credico did backed down partially. He did talk to Congressman Adam Schiff`s staff this Wednesday and he joins us for his first interview since then for this exclusive.

Randy Credico, thank you for being here.

CREDICO: Always imperial to be in the hot seat on THE BEAT.

MELBER: You weren`t going to talk to Schiff but you did Wednesday. Why did you change? And what did you discuss?

CREDICO: Well, I ran into him at the White House Correspondents dinner. We had a nice little exchange talking about Pasadena where he was from and where I`m from -- I am on, actually. And I said, why don`t we talk? So I said that we will have an informal talk Off the Record. I`m not going in front of a stenographer or at one of your lawyers and write everything down. So he says, fine. So they set it up. I went there last Wednesday to have an informal, Off the Record discussion, some background stuff. Because as you know, this entire affair has totally destroyed my life in so many ways.

MELBER: What did they want to know?

CREDICO: Well, they wanted to know everything that you wanted to know. They wanted to know if I was -- so I said, hey, look --

MELBER: They wanted to know about the role you play between roger stone and Assange.

CREDICO: Yes. And said -- here`s what I said to them. You are wasting your time chasing rainbows on Roger Stone. Stop giving him so much attention. He thrives off this. I understand this story, but it`s very misleading. The eight emails that lead into it Miss Halladay (ph) omitted.

MELBER: Let`s go into it. Let me read from some --.

CREDICO: I sent you them today because I`m not ashamed of this. I proved I did not --

MELBER: There`s one that says, please ask Assange for any state or HRC email from August 10th to August 30th with Roger Stone saying, why do we assume WikiLeaks has released everything they have? What that does say --?

CREDICO: They are leaving out the very first email --

MELBER: What does that say to you?

CREDICO: What does it say to me? He sent me an email about some guy by the name of Dr. Paul who met with somebody in Libya that had something to do with Hillary Clinton. I looked at it. He wanted me to put somebody on the show. I said I will put something on the show. I will look at it. And he says, no, you have to confirm it first. I said, well, Assange might be on my show. See if WikiLeaks -- I said, look at WikiLeaks` Web site to see if it is there.

MELBER: The reason this is of investigative interest is whether Roger was hyping when he said that he was using you to get to Assange or whether there was some of that going on. These emails make it look like you too are discussing emails at specific times.

CREDICO: That`s right.

MELBER: From Assange.

CREDICO: I understand how it looks. That was my first conversation with Roger Stone about Julian Assange. And when did it come, like September 18th or something like that, right?

MELBER: September 18, 2016.

CREDICO: Yes. The previous three months we had no discussion, no discussion on Julian Assange or WikiLeaks.

MELBER: So you maintain, I just want to be clear, and you just spoke to Adam Schiff`s people. You still maintain that Roger was hyping or lying when he said you would (INAUDIBLE) here?


MELBER: OK. Now, let me go to part two.


CREDICO: He wanted me to get this to Julian Assange.

MELBER: And so, we go to part two -- Hold on.

CREDICO: He wanted me to get this to Julian Assange --.

MELBER: And so, we go to part two which is what people do during an investigation, which is we have noted on this program can be stressful. I`m going to read here --

CREDICO: I`m not stressed at all.

MELBER: You feel good, good. I`m going to read to you something to you that Roger Stone allegedly said to you.

Quote "I`m going to take that dog away from you. Nothing you can do about it. I`m paraphrasing. I`m going to prove to the world you are a liar."

Is stone, in your view, trying to threaten you so will change your account of his activities in 2016?

CREDICO: I think he didn`t like me being on your show the first time. Why didn`t he put that -- he is the one that sent that email by the way though Halladay (ph). I sent the previous eight emails. He is afraid I`m going to unload on him.

MELBER: Why is he bringing your dog, who we have on the screen, why is he bringing your dog into this?

CREDICO: Because he is a sick man. He is delusional.

MELBER: Let me bring in attorney Maya Wiley who often joins us for this part of the program.

CREDICO: I know.

MELBER: To witness discussion part.

And Maya, take a listen to Roger Stone who said something very unusual, even for him and for anyone in this situation on "Meet the Press" this Sunday. Take a listen.


ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: It is not inconceivable now that Mr. Mueller and his team may seek to conjure up some extraneous crime pertaining to my business or maybe not even pertaining to the 2016 election.


MELBER: How do you make sense of what Roger Stone is doing and saying? And what Mr. Credico alleges today after having spoke to house investigators, which is that he believes Stone is trying to pressure him?

WILEY: Well, I certainly think Mr. Stone is starting to steal his dog, obviously, some form of communication with aggression. I think it is very clear that Roger Stone has made several statements that seem to be contradicted by the emails that he sent and that may get him in trouble in terms of perjury.

For instance, he has said publicly he didn`t have advanced knowledge of the hacks. Then we have Sam Nunberg and another unnamed source saying he did. But then he constantly stated he was only trying to confirm the existence of emails, not that he -- and never suggested that he was specifically seeking specific types of emails. And what this exchange seems to indicate is that he actually was looking for particular information.

MELBER: So you are saying, from an investigative view, the particularity that is revealed here could be bad for Stone.

WILEY: Correct. And add to that, remember that Donald Trump, during the campaign, was saying that he did not support the attacks in Libya and going after Moammar Gadhafi. And Hillary Clinton said, that`s a lie. You made the statements, but there was a tug-of-war going on about the position of Hillary Clinton in Libya. And then we had this period in which he is actually trying to seek emails related to Libya from a particular period of time in August 2011. So you have to wonder, are there conversations happening?

MELBER: What else is filling out that picture. Yes.

WILEY: Exactly. Why is he looking for --

MELBER: I want to ask another thing about Mr. Credico, and I mean no disrespect in this. I always try to treat everyone fairly. But Maya, what do you think of, and you`ll get a chance to respond, the pattern we see of some of these individuals in the orbit who are of investigative interest or at least the congressional committees want to speak to and some of them initially make a big showing of saying they will not speak or comply and then they end up doing so?

WILEY: Well look, I think it`s very hard not to comply with a subpoena because you put yourself in legal jeopardy if you don`t. I think they also -- what initially happens is people don`t want to. They say they don`t want to. It`s understandable. It`s scary. And then at a certain point start to see that there may be some benefit to actually cooperating rather than fighting.

CREDICO: OK. The reason why I went down there, I went there for specific reason. I went down there to ask him if you want to get to the bottom of all this then go to London. I had gone there with a mandate from Assange for Mr. Schiff to go over there and interview him. I got the OK from Assange --

MELBER: Hold on. Hold on. Wait, what? You have Julian Assange willing to speak to Adam Schiff committee?

CREDICO: Yes. He told me to talk to Schiff --

MELBER: When did he tell you that?

CREDICO: Just before I went down there. It was a secret mission. That`s the reason I went down there. I didn`t go there to testify.

MELBER: When? Before Wednesday?

CREDICO: Yes. Yes.

MELBER: And why does Assange in your view want to speak to Adam Schiff?

CREDICO: Because he can clear it all up. He`s ready to talk to Adam Schiff. If he wants to go over there, he`s waiting for him.

MELBER: This is what we do call burying the lead because we`ve been speaking to you a little bit earlier today about your interview but this is news to me. If that`s the case, did Adam Schiff`s people seem interested in doing that interview?

CREDICO: They said it`s well noted. And then I gave him some general stuff. I didn`t give a lot of information, just some background of Rogers Stone`s character, his personality, his megalomania mindset and I said, now forget about Stone, forget about me, just jump to the chase and see Assange. He will see you. I got the permission. I got the communication and I kept that quiet.

MELBER: Why -- and why does Julian Assange -- why does Julian Assange want to do that?

CREDICO: Because -- well, he`s ready to show that there is no collusion me, Stone. He`s willing to sit down with Schiff and be interviewed.

MELBER: Does he have any other material that hasn`t been released that would support his side of this?

CREDICO: I think so. I think that --

MELBER: What kind of material would that be?

CREDICO: Well, I don`t know because he doesn`t give up to sources. He doesn`t give out information. He doesn`t telegraph stuff.

MELBER: Well, he talks -- he doesn`t talk to a lot of people. For whatever reasons, he does talk to you repeatedly.

CREDICO: Yes. I was -- I was able -- I can tell you that there`s communication between me and him and they said let`s go with this. I asked Schiff, his staff and they said it`s noted and we`ll see what happens.

MELBER: Did you tell Roger Stone that Assange is willing to talk to Adam Schiff?

CREDICO: No, I didn`t tell him.

MELBER: So you guys are not --

CREDICO: We are not talking at all, Roger Stone and I. We really are not. He has that thing about my dog, it`s mild to the kind of harassment I`ve received from Roger Stone over the last couple of weeks.

MELBER: Maya Wiley, what do you make of this additional statement by Mr. Credico that Assange now is claiming he would be willing to speak to Adam Schiff`s investigators.

WILEY: I`m shocked because I can`t imagine Julian Assange who actually has in -- remember that he is in the embassy, the Ecuadorian Embassy because he`s worried about extradition. He`s now been being pressured out of the embassy. They disconnected him from the internet. This is something that has been of concern to him being forced to leave. He does not want to be extradited to the United States. And if in fact there`s an investigation around a conspiracy to defraud the United States, Julian Assange may well be considered a co-conspirator or at least a target --

MELBER: Potentially, right. It would seem to be adverse his interest and he seems to be very thoughtful about a lot of these issues that is to say he understands how it works. My last question to you then is, is it possible that he is just trolling you and --

CREDICO: No, no, no. I have very, solid communications and he and people around him want to set this up and it`s been put on the plate and it`s up to Mr. Schiff if he`s serious -- if he`s serious, he will go. He`s got the credibility. (INAUDIBLE) to China, if the President is going to meet with the North Korean President, certainly Schiff has the credibility and the chops to go over there and meet with Mr. Assange. That`s completely new story.

MELBER: Well Mr. Credico, you know -- you know people who know people and you could have been anywhere in the world tonight and you`re here with us and we appreciate that.

CREDICO: I broke it on your show, OK.

MELBER: Maya as well, thanks to both of you. We appreciate it.

CREDICO: Thank you.

MELBER: Much happening but we have a lot more. What Trump really trying to do when he undermines the free press. We dug again into the archives on the backstory.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do this interview with somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were talking about this yesterday on the phone. This is exactly --

TRUMP: Do this interview with somebody else.


MELBER: Also tonight, Aleck Baldwin with a big clue about the future of this.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Oh, my God, I`m already so bored. I wish I was watching Roseanne. How great is that show? Roseanne loves me. She`s like a good Rosie O`Donnell.


MELBER: But up next an icon Andre Leon Talley joins me. He revolutionized fashion shattered barriers and he`s live at 30 rock to talk about his next act along with another icon New York Times legend Howell Raines for a very special "FALLBACK FRIDAY." I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching THE BEAT. Stay with us


MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means. It`s time to fall back. We are not playing tonight. We have the distinguished Andre Leon Talley, former Editor at Large for Vogue Magazine and his recent profile New York Times says he`s one of the most famous people in the fashion world.


ANDRE LEON TALLEY, FORMER EDITOR AT LARGE, VOGUE MAGAZINE: I come just to the tennis court in just a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I go to (INAUDIBLE) for my trousers, I go to Ralph Lauren for the shirt.

This is my version of a tennis watch.

It`s all the part of the whole life of being who I am. I have to get up to and approach life with my own aesthetics about style.


MELBER: He`s worked with renowned fashion icons like Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, and the late Oscar de la Renta. He`s the subject of a new documentary The Gospel According to Andre that opens in select theaters today. It covers his life from an upbringing in the Jim Crow era south all the way up to the top of Vogue.


TALLEY: I did not know who exactly I was -- I was becoming.

But I did get out of the Jim Crow south.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: People`s heads went -- just exploded because he was so many things he wasn`t supposed to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He became part of the landscape of New York.

TALLEY: You don`t get up and say look, I`m black and I`m proud. You just do it. And somehow it impacts the culture.

MELBER: You just do it. And here`s another man who just does it. Howell Raines is the former Executive Editor of the New York Times, Author of several books including his bestselling memoir "Fly Fishing Through The Midlife Crisis" and his 1992 essay "Grady`s Gift" about his child in Alabama won a little something called the Pulitzer Prize. Gentlemen, you honor us with your presence. We have two icons at the tables.


TALLEY: It`s an honor to be with you and an honor to be with you Mr. Raines (INAUDIBLE).

MELBER: Can I say before we get started. You guys look good together.

TALLEY: Oh, we do. We do. We complement each other. We do.

MELBER: Andre --


MELBER: Who needs to fall back?

TALLEY: Who needs to fall back? All the people bashing Kanye West. I think that Kanye West has going through a very difficult moment in his life when he has embraced the man in the White House and embraced statements that are really not attuned to what people really feel particularly African-American people of this country, about slavery, and I think instead of bashing him and saying he`s mentally I`ll, people need to support him, reach out as Snoop Dogg been reaching out to him on The View yesterday.

They need to reach out and have conversations with him. He could call me on the phone. I`ve had conversations with Kanye West at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. That was back in the day before he got married. So please call me Kanye and we should just pray for him and support him.

MELBER: What does he like early in the morning?

TALLEY: He`s looking for ideas.

MELBER: Aren`t we all?

TALLEY: He`s looking for ideas and he graces you, it`s me Kanye. And then you have to talk. And then he hangs up. But that`s OK too.

MELBER: Now, when he called you -- I didn`t know that he calls you in the --

TALLEY: Well, he only calls me before he got -- before I got married to Kim.

MELBER: Well, can I ask you a question.

TALLEY: Once the guy was married to Kim, I never heard of him again.

MELBER: I never heard this story from you before.

TALLEY: Of course.

MELBER: But may I ask you a question?


MELBER: Would you say to him in the morning. Wake up Mr. West, Mr. West by himself he`s so impressed.

TALLEY: I would say, wake up Mr. West. Mr. West, think about what you`ve saying. Words matter. Words matter. Words do matter and this is going to follow you and your children is going to grow up. I would say wake up, but we are praying for your brother. We love you brother. He needs to listen to Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Am I thinking correctly?

MELBER: Ta-Nehisi Coates --

TALLEY: Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an extraordinary piece in Atlantic magazine about him.

MELBER: That was brilliant.

TALLEY: It`s a brilliant piece. It`s a brilliant piece.

MELBER: Do words matter?

RAINES: They do and I want to fall back on my use of the word escape me a moment ago because I am also a returning to Alabama where I live every --

MELBER: Hold on a minute. Are you doing a self-fall-back?

RAINES: Yes I am, because I don`t want my Alabama passport to be rebuked. I love my home state in part for its flaws and for its wonderful history. Now I`m also going to dabble with the rules of "FALLBACK" in this regard. I`m going to talk about a man who who was thrown back. Vic Cunningham has fallen back because the voters of Dallas defeated him by 25 votes. This is a man who has held public office. He`s known for using the N-word habitually.

His brother, his gay brother Bill was campaigning against him along with Bill`s black husband. Vic Cunningham`s son says he was not coming to his father`s house for dinner unless he could bring his Vietnamese girlfriend which brings us to one of my favorite subjects, Paul Taylor the good veteran Political Writer for The Washington Post says, demographics is destiny and this is a crystal snapshot of the changing state of Texas which I think is in a race with Georgia to be the first southern state to go blue in the 2020 -- possibly as early as a 2020 election.

And this also points out a demographic feature that`s common throughout the south and southwest and that is the South that`s inhabited by people over 40 of both races is very different from the South that is inhabited by people under 40.

MELBER: Well, how does that compare to your experience because I`m reading the profile of you in the documentary, you obviously decided to transcend a lot of what you were up against?

TALLEY: Well, I knew I had to get out of there. I knew I had to get some way out of the south. I was destined to be a teacher at school or public school or private school and I would have never left the South. Once I got out of the south and I went to brown, and then I came to New York and I met the great, great Andy Warhol, the great (INAUDIBLE), they said don`t go back to the South. Don`t go home for Christmas because it`ll happen for you. Because if I`d gone home I`d have taken that safe secure job and I would never going back and I love the South.

MELBER: What did the Andy Warhol see in you and what did that make you see in yourself?

TALLEY: I think he saw -- he didn`t really check me of what he saw me but he just supported me. He just would say, oh gee, you could be anything you want. Gee, that`s so great Andre, you know.

MELBER: But he didn`t just support every single person --

TALLEY: No, no. And something must have been in me when I came and I was hungry to impress but I did it in a very subtle way. It`s a great writer Vanessa Friedman said at a time --

MELBER: All I`m getting off you is subtlety today.

TALLEY: This is subtle? This is casual.

MELBER: This is casual.

TALLEY: You know, if I were going somewhere just to be more ceremonial than this.

MELBER: This is the most Met Gala THE BEAT has ever looked.

TALLEY: This is -- this is not Met Gala drag, this is casual. This is everyday drag. Brocade, ceremonial brocade.

RAINES: Look, I`m a Thompson, we don`t do casual.

MELBER: I do know that you had one other idea for a "FALLBACK" I wanted to ask you.

TALLEY: Yes, I think the NFL, the rule, there`s going to be great pushback on it and the athletes are our heroes and those men have every right to stand up or to stand down, to go down with dignity on one knee. They are representing a cause, pain that is inflicted on people in this country without people knowing there`s pain. And it`s simply a symbolic gesture and I think that the man in the White House has single-handedly influenced the NFL, the money people, the chill gap.

MELBER: They`re kneeling to him.

TALLEY: They`re kneeling to the -- to the money -- to the money. And I think there will be a big backlash and there will be -- history would be made with complete and unapologetic protests in the locker room and on the field.

RAINES: I agree. And my fall back akin to this one is with the World Tennis Association the French Tennis Association which de-rank the greatest tennis player of all time because she had a baby and they regard that as tantamount to an athletic injury. MELBER: That`s unbelievable.

TALLEY: It`s outrageous. It`s just outrageous. She`s the greatest athlete arguably that has ever existed in our time.

MELBER: Well, it`s -- this is -- can we do this again with both of you?

TALLEY: I would love to come back.

MELBER: OK, you know, there`s a saying Howell --

RAINES: Thank you.

MELBER: -- you`re just an icon living and both of you are icons and this is a great "FALLBACK."


MELBER: You honor us with your presence, Andre Leon Talley, and Howell Raines.

TALLEY: Thank you.

RAINES: Thank you.

MELBER: So much fun. We have more though. Donald Trump admits why he undermines the free press. It started a long time ago. I`m going to show you the footage and Alec Baldwin talking about what he`s going to do with this impression. We have the footage on that as well straight ahead.


MELBER: We do know President Trump`s attacks on the free press aren`t a bug, they are a feature of his political identity. Lesley Stahl, of course from 60 minutes telling a story about an off-camera interaction with Trump that explains a lot.


LESLEY STAHL, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: At one point he started to attack the press and I said you know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You`re doing it over and over and it`s boring and it`s time to end that. You know, you`ve won the nomination and why do you keep hammering at this? And he said you know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you also when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.


MELBER: You might take a quick study in politics but it`s important to understand when you look through the archives this is not just political Trump, this is something he has been doing attacking the media for decades.


TRUMP: When people say something false, I attack those people.

The news gets away with murder, the news media. They get away with murder. I don`t stand for it when they write false and malicious stories.

Forbes has been after me for years.

They say the Plaza Hotel is not worth what everybody knows it`s worth. It`s a total hatchet job.


MELBER: It`s a strategy and it can work but it is also born of a kind of emotional weakness. The new documentary from Netflix showcases Trump`s thin skin.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the ones who said negative things and --

TRUMP: Here we are, back to the negative, back to the negative. You know what, do this interview with somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we talked about this yesterday on the phone. This is exactly --

TRUMP: Do the interview with somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s nothing that we didn`t discuss on the phone about it.


MELBER: Do it with somebody else. Now, since taking office Trump is sweet about fake news almost two hundred times. That`s more than Russia, Isis, Kim Jong-un or Putin which gives you some sense of his personal priorities. But at a deeper level, Donald Trump obviously needs the media. He was literally a media professional as an NBC Entertainer and he used to pretend to be his own sports spokesman to try to get the coverage he craved.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s your name again?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you work with --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that`s correct. He treats everybody well. You know, you don`t know him but he`s a --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I haven`t met him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have met him? He`s a good guy and he`s not going to hurt anybody. The one article said he was going to throw a woman out of the apartment is total nonsense.


MELBER: Have you met him? It`s me. You have to have a certain kind of philosophy to pull that off. Now Trump does, of course, cite the same media for things that he agrees with but it`s never been about truth even before he was in politics, it`s about control. And we should all keep that in mind as he attacks the free press. Now, that`s not all tonight. There is something very interesting going on over at SNL and it involves our politics and Alec Baldwin`s impression. That`s next.


MELBER: SNL may need a new Trump. We last saw Alec Baldwin`s version of Trump in the season finale when was on his case as Mueller. Here`s what Baldwin is saying today.


BALDWIN: It does crash every weekend you have with your kids and the -- it`s -- you know, I enjoy doing it but I what`s going to happen in the future, I don`t know where I`m going to be. Who knows what`s going to happen? If I do it again or don`t do it again --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But if you -- if you --

BALDWIN: You I should get somebody who can do it all the time.


MELBER: Someone else who could do it all the time. Sounds like he might be ready to retire his Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Michael Cohen. Are you alone?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then what are you wearing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is such an honor. Thank you for taking time of your busy schedule.

BALDWIN: Yes I`m so busy and if you`re wondering why I`m so out of breath is because I`m doing my P90X morning exercises right now.

Right now I`m getting my daily intelligence briefing.


BALDWIN: From you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I have my desk back?

BALDWIN: Yes of course, Mr. President, I`ll go sit at my desk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can`t deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Number two, no lifetime limits, which you know, is a big deal if you have serious health problems. And number three --

BALDWIN: Vladimir, I`m sorry but I didn`t know you were coming so I do not have the gift for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please Mr. Trump, you out of the gift?


MELBER: An Alec Baldwin has been a gift for many during these times. We`ll see what he ultimately decides. I`ll be back here Monday night 6:00 p.m. Eastern.


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