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Trump openly hyping obstruction pardons. TRANSCRIPT: 05/31/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Michael Hirschorn, Tony Schwartz

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: May 31, 2018 Guest: Michael Hirschorn, Tony Schwartz

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MEET THE PRESS DAILY: That`s all for tonight. We will back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Did you ever serve those Bloody Marys on MEET THE PRESS?

TODD: Sunday mornings, buddy. That`s how you survive in the Trump era.

MELBER: Can`t hurt to get the guests talking.

TODD: Mimosas and -- we try to balance it out.

MELBER: Are you a mimosa guy, Chuck? I didn`t know that.

TODD: Not me. I`m a Bloody Mary guy. (INAUDIBLE) is my favorite spice to put in there.

MELBER: The more you know. Thank you, Chuck Todd.

TODD: Just more you know.

MELBER: I turn to something important, the top story in America tonight is Donald Trump, your President, pardoning criminals.

Now Trump is not even pretending this is about due process. He is ignoring the justice department`s review program and simply tweeted out today a pardon plan for a right-wing activist who was convicted of campaign finance violations. Critics say it`s a quite obvious message to Trump aides facing criminal pressure right now, from Michael Cohen who just lost that battle to try to keep his papers and tapes away from the feds, to Paul Manafort, and perhaps even to Trump aides who are already cooperating with Bob Mueller, like Michael Flynn.

Indeed, some of the pardons under discussion right now, with this news are for the exact same things that some Trump aides are accused of. Reports that Donald Trump might grant early release to a politician currently imprisoned for charges relating to bribery. That is former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

Also, granting a pardon to a famous former Apprentice contestant who is out of jail but lied to the feds, discussion about a pardon or commutation for Martha Stewart.

Trump also stating he will give out his fifth pardon as President to this right-wing activist, Dinesh D`Souza. He made a slashing film attacking Barack Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama came out of nowhere. No one really knew him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Obama seems weirdly sympathetic to Muslim-Jihadist captured in Afghanistan, we now know why. He sees these guys as anti- colonial freedom fighters, like his dad, the occupied people pushing out the occupiers.


MELBER: No word on whether that film itself was criminal. Now the move is pretty blatant here. But I want to be clear with you as we report this out. This is supposed to be blatant. Donald Trump, of course, ran on getting tough on crime, but the White House tonight not even really offering a detailed policy explanation for this new pardon or pointing to the reasons that the DOJ would see it as consistent with Trump administration criminal justice policy.

Now, the message here is pretty clearly in the implication. If Trump will pardon right-wing activists whom he barely knows and pardon people for crimes related to bribery and campaign finance reform and obstruction, then imagine what he is willing to do someday for people he does know.

And here are the facts on Trump`s pardons today. D`Souza admitted to a crime to help Republicans. Sheriff Joe Arpaio endorsed Trump and he was in the middle of the case holding him in contempt for defying a judge. Then of course, former Bush White House aide Scooter Libby, who was convicted of obstructing a special counsel investigation. Yes, a special counsel probe.

And that`s not all. Libby and Blagojevich were prosecuted by none other than Pat Fitzgerald. Now he is the prosecutor James Comey chose to lead the last special counsel investigation into White House alleged misconduct. And Stewart, guess what, she was prosecuted by Comey himself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meet the man who wants to put Martha Stewart in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martha Stewart is being prosecuted not because of who she is, but because of what she did.


MELBER: Tonight we are again seeing this portrait of Donald Trump as quite detail oriented when it comes to legal strategy to discredit anyone who might check either his current power or something he may have in his legal past.

We also know Trump delights in getting away with breaking norms. He is prepping the nation for a soft stance on obstruction and corruption by Stewart and Blagojevich. And in doing so, Trump may be trying to prove to everyone that we all have to just accept these kind of pardons. Probably doesn`t hurt that Trump already knew these people.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So governor, what did you think of the boardroom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was an interesting experience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Donald. It`s Martha.

TRUMP: How are you?

STEWART: I`m just great. How are you?

TRUMP: Well, I`m having a great time. And you have a really attractive group of winners.


MELBER: This is real life now. Trump is out here showing exactly how far he will go to -- there`s no other legal way to say it, given the conviction history -- how far he will go to coddle criminals, at least the criminals he knows and finds useful.

Now many people note pardon power, when you look it illegally, it is unreviewable. Now that`s lawyer speak for the fact that Presidents, they get to just do it. Judges don`t oversee or reverse individual pardons. But some people think that means that you can basically do anything with a pardon. That`s not true.

And this is more important tonight. The law does not go that far. Ironically, the legal precedent for this limit comes from the very case that Trump is exploring a pardon for, the corruption of governor Rod Blagojevich. He was using the power to appoint a senator in a vacancy. Now that power is also legally unreviewable, meaning judges do not overturn a governor`s pick for an eligible person to become senator. But, and it`s a big but, Blagojevich committed a separate crime while trying to make that pick, because he tried to sell that Senate seat he was appointing. So legally the appointment was unreviewable, but he still committed a crime that lands him in jail to this day. And that same legal logic can apply to pardons tonight. If you imagine a governor selling pardons or imagine a governor trying to openly use pardons to obstruct justice, those can be separate crimes.

I turn now to former federal prosecutor John Flannery as well as Lyn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times" who knows many of these stories quite well.

John, let`s begin with your view of the way Donald Trump is doing these pardons and discussion of potential future pardon power clemency act. And number two, the legal point I raise that just because something`s unreviewable doesn`t mean there`s no way it can be also used pursuant to a crime.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Pardon me. I think that the problem here is that what he has done is I agree with what you said, that he liked to tenderize other people to think maybe Trump won`t think of himself because he will be thinking of himself if he gives me a pardon. But I think he is doing something much more dramatic which is in violation of his oath.

He is attacking our entire criminal justice system with the specific crimes that he himself is involved in. I mean, Blagojevich was impeached. This President may be impeached. Blagojevich was charged with pay to play and he was convicted and twice went to the Supreme Court. So we have a solid case in which process was observed and he is discounting it. He is trying to tell America that there was something wrong with the system in that case.

Same with Martha Stewart who lied and D`Souza`s marching band, he basically was committing a campaign finance violation, like our boy in New York, Cohen, involved with the Daniels case. So I think that we have is an entire attack on the system of justice from the ministry of truth. And I don`t think that`s an appropriate use of the power to pardon anyone. I think it`s a violation of his oath.

MELBER: And do you think that even an unreviewable act can still be caught up in a criminal conspiracy?

FLANNERY: Absolutely. An overt act, which is not even a crime can be part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct. It can be part of a crime to unfairly posture an entire investigation in a discredited way, because you are attacking the entire system.

So much for law and order, we would rather have chaos and disorder. Because that`s the only way I think he sees he can get out of this. He`s in a corner.

MELBER: Right. Let me go to Lynn. Lynn, go ahead.

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, I want to just point out some other facts here. I know you are talking of this in a mega situation. But let`s look at the specifics and why having Rod Blagojevich campaign to get some kind of clemency from President Trump. And it`s been waged by his wife. And you know, just getting it in front of the President which she now has been able to do, we can talk about how I think she did it.

Here`s something to remind everyone and you, he is not gone unpunished. He has gotten a 14-year sentence. A lot of people, myself included, think that was a very heavy sentence for the crimes committed. He has been imprisoned in Colorado since 2011.

MELBER: Well, and as you know, Lynn, those kind of facts only apply to the governor of Illinois.


MELBER: There are no other Americans, for example, hundreds of thousands of black Americans on non-violent drug offenses that go on years and years that the President has taken an interest in. I mean, I think it is true what you say and you are on tonight because you have covered it extensively out of Chicago, but certainly we will would be missing the forest for the trees to think that`s Donald Trump`s concern, no?

SWEET: No, I don`t think that`s a concern. I`m just pointing that out since it should be in the mix of our more universal conversation here. And yes, President Obama focused on the very people you were talking about. And if we need yet another contrast between Presidents Obama and Trump, it`s how they use the clemency process here.

But if we are looking for some commonality, we have, as you pointed out, these kind of people who are celebrities or are names in the news that have come -- you know, the boxer Jack Johnson also just got a posthumous clearance from the President. It also goes to his impulse, I think, to deal with big names.

And yes, of course, there`s a big discussion we could have about how you use a pardon process and if he will use it to continue the work of what President Obama did for people who are serving in these drug cases.

MELBER: Let me get John briefly though on one other piece of this. Which is John, do you think that any of this could itself become a subject to Mueller`s probe?

FLANNERY: Absolutely. I think that the way he`s abusing the system, having taken the oath of office to uphold the constitution, and then to tear apart the entire system and judges and orders, and indeed the judge who gave him, Blagojevich, the 14-year sentence, he had a second opportunity to do it when this case was being appealed twice to the supreme court.

I have crocodile tears for a person like this that compromised an entire state and was so interested in replacing Barack Obama that at one point he said, I`m blacker than Barack Obama. The kind of person that would appeal to this president. I don`t think we should have any compassion at all for that kind of misconduct by a corrupt official.

MELBER: And as you mentioned, much of that was what came out on tapes. Tapes seemed to figure into these probes.

John Flannery and Lynn Sweet, thank you both.

I turn now to New York congressman Hakeem Jeffries who is on the House Judiciary Committee.

What do you think of this use of the pardon power and what should be done about it?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think that the pardon power, first of all, is an old-school throwback to the days of the constitutional monarchy that we need to revisit because the unfettered ability to pardon individuals without any process, any guard rails, any guidelines clearly is subject to abuse as we are now seeing from Donald Trump.

And it appears that there is a pattern, as you laid out, Ari, where this pardon power is being used to send signals to people who are within the sights of Bob Mueller`s criminal probe, to perhaps urge them not to cooperate with the ongoing criminal investigation into the Trump campaign, with the possibility --

MELBER: Does it concern you that`s the goal, or do you think it`s a coincidence these relate to past special counsels?

JEFFRIES: Well, I don`t think it`s a coincidence that these charges, for instance, relate to campaign finance abuse or abuse of power or obstruction of yesterday or lying to the federal government. These are some of the charges upon which individuals have already pled guilty or are being prosecuted or potentially investigated. And so I think it`s reasonable for people to at least be suspicious that that is exactly what`s taken place.

The other problem with this pardon ability, as you pointed out, is that every day Americans don`t have access to the Presidential review process since it`s just being done by an individual who is bouncing off the walls in the oval office, coming up with the next great idea to pardon some conservative cause celebrity.

MELBER: No, it would seem, if you take the President`s process as it`s been publicly executed, you need to either endorse him in a primary, be on "the Apprentice" or have the kind of twitter following that can get you so -- his mentions, that he notices, because he is literally doing this by tweet. I mean, this is not a joke.

As for Dinesh D`Souza, he spoke about this today. Here`s his take.


DINESH D`SOUZA, PARDONED BY TRUMP: I`m very relieved to have my record clean. I mean, in a way, this fully restores my faith in America, my American dream. Something that`s hanging over you and you have the United States of America versus Dinesh D`Souza, and that is now gone.


MELBER: I mean, legally the case is over. He had confessed and admitted guilt and taking the pardon, of course, only reasserts that, right?

JEFFRIES: Absolutely. And you know, the President takes an oath to uphold the constitution and faithfully execute the laws of the United States of America, and yet he is systematically undermining the rule of law, attacking the special prosecutor, attacking the FBI, attacking the department of justice, apparently abusing the pardon power that has been given to him, which we in Congress, I believe the Judiciary Committee should review to figure out whether some guard rails need to be put in place.

MELBER: If your party becomes a majority in judiciary, is the pardon issue something you would look to constrain?

JEFFRIES: Absolutely. It seems to me it is something that should be put on the table. Now, as you know, to constrain it would require institutional amendment, which would necessitate significant majorities in both the House and the Senate, a Presidential signature or Presidential veto override.

MELBER: When I worked on the Hill, they have an old saying, constitutional amendment passing is about as likely as Donald Trump becoming President.

JEFFRIES: Anything is possible.

MELBER: You know that saying?

JEFFRIES: Absolutely, yes.

MELBER: Appreciate you coming on. And we saw some of what you were saying about this. You have been speaking out about this from the judiciary committee today. So thank you very much for coming down THE BEAT.

JEFFRIES: Thank you very much.

MELBER: We have a lot more on the show, including this bombshell audio leaking tonight of Michael Cohen in action, caught on tape making threats to protect Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m warning you, tread very (bleep) lightly because what I`m going to do to you is going to be (bleep) disgusting, rest assured, you will suffer the consequences.


MELBER: That is playing for the first time tonight. And we will have it for you after the break.

Also an important story, the woman whose accusations put Bill Cosby on trial is speaking out for the first time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was trying out inside in my throat, in my mind, for this to stop and I couldn`t do anything.


MELBER: And Howard Stern revealing what Trump wanted from him during the campaign.

Plus, what Chuck and I were discussing, John Boehner`s truth bomb on the GOP.


JOHN BOEHNER, FORMER SPEAKER ON THE HOUSE: There is no Republican Party. There`s a Trump party. The Republican Party is taking a nap somewhere.


MELBER: Also, Tony Schwartz joins me at 30 Rock talking Trump and the art of deception.

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


MELBER: Breaking news tonight, explosive audio of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen threatening a reporter has leaked. Cohen calling himself Trump`s fixer and certainly here we see some of the dirty work. He is known to carry a gun in his holster on an ankle. So when he makes threats, people listen.

Now, this is the first time you are actually going to hear the audio. This is from a 2015 story from that "Daily Beast" reporter Tim Mak that was discussing the fact that in divorce proceedings Trump`s ex-wife, Ivana, had used the word rape when talking about Trump, although she had later retracted in any suggestion that there was a technical or physical rape.

Now the reporter had called Hope Hicks for comment and then got this angry call back from Cohen. It begins, in this discussion, which you have to hear to believe, with Cohen falsely asserting the idea that legally one could not quote "rape one`s own wife," which the reporter pushed back on. And then this happened.


MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP`S PERSONAL ATTORNEY (on the phone): Today will be the day that you will regret. I know where you are going with this stupid story and I know what you are planning on doing. And if there`s any inference whatsoever, whether it`s in the headline or any aspect of your article that indicates a rape, and I don`t care about some (bleep) that you are going to throw in somewhere.

Mark my words, for it, I will make sure that and I meet one day over in the courthouse and I will take you for every penny you still don`t have. And I will come after your "Daily Beast" and everybody else that you possibly know. Do not even think about going to where I know you are planning on going. And that`s my warning for the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael, besides the warning, do you have a substantive comment that I can include in my piece that reflects your views on this?

COHEN: I have no views because there`s no story.


MELBER: No story. Now the reporter then presses Cohen for anything else on these Ivana allegations.


COHEN: You write whatever you want, but rest assured like I told Univision and like I told everybody else in the past, you can certainly look it up online. I swear on God and my children, I will find you, I will serve you personally, and I will be nothing but happy when I turn around and I get a judgment of defamation against you and the (bleep) paper you work for. Do you understand what I`m saying?


COHEN: (INAUDIBLE) 24 freaking years old? (INAUDIBLE) you destroyed your life and it will be privilege to serve it to you on a freaking silver platter like I did that idiot from Pennsylvania, your Miss USA, because I think you are dumber than she is.


MELBER: You are hearing unvarnished, how Michael Cohen rolls.

Now, in these new audio tapes, which again, just coming out tonight, the reporter then tells Cohen he doesn`t think it`s a productive conversation and asked what is being misinterpreted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that I`m misinterpreting some of the facts here?

COHEN: I know you are. Listen, my friend, don`t be a smart ass with me. Do you understand me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I not being a smart -- I`m giving you an opportunity.

COHEN: I know you -- I don`t need your opportunity, you little (bleep). I know exactly who you are, and I know exactly what you do, and I know exactly the story you plan on writing. So I`m warning you, tread very (bleep) lightly, because what I`m going to do to you is going to be (bleep) disgusting. Do you understand me? Don`t think you`re going to hide behind your pen, because it`s not going to happen.


COHEN: I`m more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal counsel because mother (bleep) you are going to need it.


MELBER: I`m joined by Betsy Woodruff of "the Daily Beast."

Hi, Betsy.


MELBER: How you doing?

WOODRUFF: It`s quite a piece of audio there. I work at "the Daily Beast." I was working at the "Daily Beast" when Tim Mak put out the story a couple years ago. And the really funny thing about it was the fact that Michael Cohen went on this really extraordinary rant, only got the story more attention.

In fact, Michael Cohen, who is sometimes portrayed as this genius fixer, made things worse for his client because he added to the story. The story became not just that Donald Trump made his wife feel violated during sex according to divorce papers, but also that Donald Trump`s lawyer launched these ridiculous, over-the-top, almost cartoon movie threats at a reporter. So he gave us two stories rather than one.

MELBER: And you are a seasoned reporter. And you may look at it as somewhat cartoonish. As I mentioned in the open, though, this was a person working for someone with a lot of money and resources and power, as compared to the type of people they were picking on, whether it was Stormy Daniels as it was alleged, or this reporter here, that power and balance is something Mr. Cohen seemed to try to underscore in the most serious way of saying this person`s entire career is at risk. And with regard to ruining his life, I want to play more of this. Take a listen.


COHEN: Rest assured, you will suffer the consequences. So you do whatever you want. You want to ruin your life at the age of 20? I don`t know a nicer way to put it. I think you should ahead and you should write the story that you plan on writing. I think you should do it. Because I think you are an idiot, all right? And I think your paper is a joke. And it`s going to be my absolute pleasure to serve you with a $500 million lawsuit, like I told -- I did to Univision.


MELBER: This audio leaks tonight, Betsy, at a time when over a million pieces of evidence from Michael Cohen`s office and priority records, including alleged audio tapes is going over to the feds.

What does this audio indicate in your view as a reporter, and as you mentioned someone who was at the same paper, about what other things might be memorialized here and whether it`s going to hurt Cohen?

WOODRUFF: I think we can safely guess that Cohen probably recorded himself having conversations like this. If you listen to that conversation, it doesn`t sound like it`s the first time that Cohen leveled very over-the-top threats at somebody who he didn`t like, someone who was -- he was trying to get not to follow through on. Something that he was worried about.

And one thing I would like to add here is that these threats from Cohen ended up to be entirely toothless. To Mak, the reporter who was on the end of that conversation, never got served. There was no $500 million lawsuit. We never got roped up into some costly or life-altering legal battle with Michael Cohen.

It was entirely toothless. It didn`t go anywhere. I think what we can probably guess is that if the tapes that Michael Avenatti says exist do exist. They likely include conversations along the lines of this one. And it is going to be up to people to judge what that says about Michael Cohen`s character and credibility and integrity.

MELBER: Betsy, I don`t know busy you are. Do you have time for one more part of the tape?

WOODRUFF: Sure, let`s do it.

MELBER: All right. Let`s go ahead.


COHEN: You write a story that has Mr. Trump`s name in it with the word rape and I`m going to mess your life up for the rest -- for as long as you`re on this African planet. I`m going to turn around, you`re going to have judgments against you for so much money, you will never know how to get out from under it.


MELBER: That`s the last one, Betsy.

WOODRUFF: Look. I was in a beach house with Tim Mak this past weekend. I can report his life is going perfectly fine. It has not been messed up by Michael Cohen. The reality is that when bullies come at reporters like this, the best thing reporters and journalists can do is take some pleasure in the toothlessness and the sometimes amusing quality of the way these people talk.

And at "the Daily Beast," we were really proud to go forward to publish a story that ended up being an electric and really galvanizing moment in the campaign. And a story that helped people make sense of the character of Donald Trump and of Michael Cohen. We stood up to this bully and it worked out perfectly fine for us. Worked out perfectly fine for Tim Mak. And we are grateful for the lawyers who work at "the Daily Beast" for helping us make sense and helping navigate us through the entire process.

MELBER: The last word on this one goes to you, Betsy Woodruff. Thank you for being here.

Up ahead, Trump`s "art of the deal" co-author Tony Schwartz is going to take us inside the deceit and how to fight it.

Also, Howard Stern`s big revelation about what Trump asked him for and why Trump needs celebrity validation, when we are back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: Another top story tonight, Donald Trump`s celebrity booster making a big revelation. Howard Stern tells David Letterman how Trump thought Stern could help him win the election.


HOWARD STERN, ACTOR: Well, you know, it was a very awkward kind of thing, because Donald asked me to speak at the Republican convention. I was put in a very awkward position of having to say publicly and to him that I`m a Hillary Clinton supporter. I always have been. And I was honest with Donald. I said, you know, Donald, you also supported Hillary. And I said I do consider Donald a friend, but my politics are different.


MELBER: Stern was not the only celebrity who snubbed Trump.


TRUMP: And I`m thinking about getting some of the great sports people that I know that like me a lot, we may call it the winners evening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The celebrity event many might have expected from a Trump convention, did not materialize.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop me if you heard this before, all right. An underwear model and the guy from happy days all walk into a bar --


MELBER: Antonio Sabato Jr., Duck Dynasty star and Scott Baio did end up headlining if you want to call it that.

Now, Stern has interviewed Trump more than just about anyone, over 37 times in the past two decades.


STERN: Donald was the definition of great guest. You know, to me, a guest who comes on and says anything that is in his mind is a great guest. And he would get on and no matter what I asked him, he would answer.


MELBER: No matter what, yes, questions like this.


TRUMP: My daughter is beautiful, Ivanka, she --

STERN: By the way, your daughter --

TRUMP: She`s beautiful.

STERN: Can I say this? A piece of (bleep).



MELBER: Some of Trump`s most unguarded moments were in those Stern interviews. We learned a lot more about who Trump was or at least said he was. Revelations that some say would haunt him including what critics say were a repetitive and obvious misogynistic view of women.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ll go backstage before a show, and everyone`s getting dressed. You know, they`re standing there with no dress -- is everybody OK and you see these incredible looking women and so I sort of get away with things like that.

She gained about 55 pounds in a period of nine months. She was like an eating machine. They said, how are you going to change the pageant. I said I`m going to get the bathing suits to be smaller in the heels to be higher.

HOWARD STERN, AMERICAN RADIO PERSONALITY: Do you think you could now be banging 24-year-olds?

TRUMP: Oh absolutely.

STERN: Would you do it?

TRUMP: I have no problem.


MELBER: But it wasn`t just that kind of talk because Howard Stern`s show, especially over time, has covered all kinds of other issues. In fact, you may remember it was Trump`s position on a rack of all things which became a political controversy. He claimed in the campaign he was against the war but he wasn`t. Cue Howard Stern.


STERN: Are you for invading Iraq?

TRUMP: Yes, I guess so. You know, I wish it was -- I wish the first time it was done correctly.


HAYES: The celebrity obsession is carrying over. There you have the President with Kim Kardashian Wednesday. And as we`ve been reporting, he`s also considering pardoning celebrity style figures like Martha Stewart or Rod Blagojevich who both appeared on The Apprentice. Now, Stern says Trump`s relationship with the media and celebrity is all about how he feels.


STERN: He loves Hollywood. First of all, he loves the press. He lives for it. He loves people in Hollywood. He only wants to hobnob with them. And all of this hatred stuff directed toward him, it`s not good for him. It`s not good.


MELBER: I`m joined by a media innovator Michael Hirschorn who helped develop the concept of celebrity reality T.V. at VH1 with hits like Flavor of Love -- what -- I love the 80s, Celebrity Rehab. What`s not to like? Zerlina Maxwell is an MSNBC Analyst and worked on the Clinton Campaign. Now you may have had more A-listers but you lost the electoral college so it cuts both ways. Michael, what do you see here with Stern?

MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, T.V. PRODUCER: Well I think -- I think he`s accurately describing what Trump is doing which is he`s really supplanting reality T.V. So it`s ironic that you know, watching the Kardashian meeting with Trump, it actually made do more for Kim Kardashian than it does for Trump because I felt the moment Trump was elected, the whole world of the Kardashians was kind of wrecked. And what`s interesting, what I`m hearing in like TV circles is that networks like MSNBC and CNN are taking the ratings from reality T.V. because basically the whole world is reality T.V. at this point.

MELBER: Can we give them back? How does that work?

HIRSCHORN: I think we know how that works and how to make that happen.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC ANALYST: I think this is a scary moment because we are not living in a reality show, we are living with very serious issues all over the world and Donald Trump is a textbook narcissist. We sort of gloss over this fact when we -- when we talk about Hannah and his tendency to make every single thing no matter what it is about himself but it`s an inflated sense of self-importance but it`s based in a deep sense of insecurity. And so that`s why he needs celebrities to validate him and to feel important, to feel you know that he`s someone that people are talking about and buzzing about because essentially that`s what being a celebrity. It`s just that people know who you are. That`s the only difference between a regular person and a celebrity.

MELBER: Well, Michael, that sounds exciting.

HIRSCHORN: Well, I think you know it`s -- many celebrities I`ve met are massive narcissists. I think what Trump is doing is more dangerous even than that which is I think to pick up on what Zerlina said, it`s -- they`re painting and creating a world of pseudo-events and pseudo dramas that is covering over what`s really happening.

MELBER: You didn`t watch the show last night, did you?

HIRSCHORN: I did not watch the show.


MELBER: Well, we were talking about Daniel Boorstin`s 1962 book which the image which goes into the pseudo-events, then it was a kind of a mild side tactic of corporations then, now it`s the language of politics. I wonder you know, the Obama joke famously at the Correspondents Dinner was that oh, Trump would be President have to make Apprentice-style decisions. How do you feel Zerlina, witnessing this today as we`ve been discussing with Apprentice contestants being put up for the pardon power?

MAXWELL: I mean, it`s clearly a signal to you know, the folks like Michael Cohen and others who are in legal jeopardy. But I think that it`s very alarming because you know just for full context and you know this, you can pardon people with low-level drug offenses who have been in prison for a long time, in turn, their lives around --

MELBER: Why didn`t you say -- why didn`t you say, man? And you know this --

MAXWELL: Well, it could be a man or a woman.

MELBER: And you know a man. This is a Friday reference.

MAXWELL: Because I just --

MELBER: Have you ever seen Friday? Have you ever seen Friday?

MAXWELL: I`m against the feature.

MELBER: We could -- and you know this man or woman --

MAXWELL: I just (INAUDIBLE) when I talk. No I`m just -- well they could have pardoned somebody who deserves it, somebody who really has turned their life around but he`s not doing that. He`s pardoning celebrities and flashing names and I think that he`s just really taking the power and abusing it by not going through the whole process and taking it seriously. Those are people`s lives at stake.

MELBER: But Michael how much of this -- again these questions matter now because he`s president. How much of this is his own emotional need? The Howard Stern theory being that this is what Trump needs to feel good and how much of it is a diabolical sort of content strategy?

HIRSCHORN: Well, I would say for people who want to be on television, everyone except you, there`s a deep desire and need for affirmation, right? And I spoke to a celebrity psychologist --

MELBER: Having you ironically affirm me as an exception within that comment was some very high-level stuff.

HIRSCHORN: Right, it`s sort of counter-trolling as it were.

MELBER: Oh, counter-trolling. We did -- cover trolling this week too. You`re on a roll.

HIRSCHORN: So there`s a kind of soul death the soul death --

MELBER: Soul death?

HIRSCHORN: -- soul death that I see in a lot of celebrity culture which is that you need public acclamation to fill the hole that you have that you`re not getting elsewhere and that`s what is clearly --

MELBER: As if you don`t have good relationships with friends and families?

HIRSCHORN: Correct. Or the world or your -- you know, or you have a frantic desire to have your racist father approve of you.

MELBER: Wow. And you know what, my producer just said to me, wrap. We`re like -- we`re just getting to the darkness in the center of the human experience and I`m getting --

MAXWELL: Narcissists are -- people who grow up to become narcissistic are frequently raised by narcissistic parents.

MELBER: Which makes sense. Final -- quickly because we are wrapping. Flavor of Love, your proudest achievement?

HIRSCHORN: I may go to hell for that but yes, I`ll stick by it.

MELBER: Michael Hirschorn and Zerlina Maxwell, fascinating discussion. You both brought a lot to the table. Coming up, our Donald Trump`s lies is getting worse. We`re going to talk to a man who warns the false claims are getting more blatant but there`s a way to fight it. Tony Schwartz is here. And first former Speaker John Boehner out of politics and look at him speaking his mind.


There is no Republican Party. There`s a Trump Party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere. Donald Trump who I know well was one of my supporters when I was Speaker. I was having a rough week, Trump had call me, pat me on the back, cheer me up. We play a lot of golf together, but president, really? The two most surprised people in the entire world that night were Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton thought she was going to win Donald Trump thought he was going to lose.


MELBER: Donald Trump is a known liar but is he getting even more emboldened? My next guest says yes. Friend of THE BEAT Tony Schwartz, Co- Author of the Art of the Deal. He`s explained lying is second nature to Trump. He has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying is true or sort of true or at least ought to be. Now that`s an important point today as nuclear peace and economic policy can hinge on debate over whether Trump is deceiving us or sometimes himself. Now, some of Trumps lies are patently obvious.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- telling them that you lost the popular vote because of millions of illegal votes, three to five million illegal votes. Where is the evidence of that?

TRUMP: I said it and I said it strongly because what`s going on with voter fraud is horrible.

We need the wall. We`ve started building the wall as you know. We`ve signed more bills and I`m talking about through the legislature than any president ever.


MELBER: But Trump is not only a blunt instrument, he also builds misleading claims on a kernel of truth. He said he ended ObamaCare away to puff up his elimination of the insurance mandate and he`s twisted his own deadline for DACA. And as trust in public truth itself can fade the risk of corruption gets even higher. Take this week`s important news about Puerto Rico. A study finding the Hurricane Maria led to almost 5,000 deaths, a far higher number than the U.S. government or Donald Trump had ever conceded. And while Trump didn`t know the actual number at the time, he did use his bully pulpit to play down Puerto Rico`s struggle.


TRUMP: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died and you look at what happened here was really a storm that was just totally overpowering. Nobody has ever seen anything like this. What is your -- what is your death count as of this moment? 16 people, 16 people versus in the thousands.

MELBER: Well, today we can tell you we are in the thousands. Now, at the time, that was, of course, a different type of statement than lying about the electoral college but if it feels like a blizzard of different levels of deceit are hard to even keep up with, our next guest says that`s part of the point. Tony Schwartz is also CEO of the Energy Project and bestselling author of The Way We`re Working Isn`t Working. What do you mean here about the nature of his deceit?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CEO, THE ENERGY PROJECT: That we`re at a point where he lies about everything. In fact, lying now is his number one tactic. I believe that he is fully aware that Mueller and perhaps the New York investigators have got him dead to right. They have -- he knows that he`s not going to wind his way out of that except by lying and lying means destroying their credibility by saying things that aren`t true.

MELBER: You think that -- I mean, you`ve worked around him as we`ve noted. You think that what Michael Cohen has could be bad for Trump>

SCHWARTZ: You know I was tempted to say I don`t think I know but that maybe is one -- that probably is too strong. I have an overwhelming feeling that there are a blizzard of crimes that Michael Cohen was well aware of, in fact, helped to engineer.

MELBER: And so your working theory of Donald Trump in that hypothetical say that if the feds are right that they did search for a reason, that there is evidence of crimes, that when Trump knows something like that he is essentially knowing information. And then he does something between knowing the information and turning it all around into these lies but you say that sometimes involves deceiving himself.

SCHWARTZ: Well I think that when I was around Trump, he had a kind of sense of humor about his lives. Remember, I called that -- I came up with that phrase truthful hyperbole. I mean, it was just -- you know, he`s a real estate guy. He thought it was fun. And he knew he was doing it. He would even wink his eye at you literally. Today I think he has gotten so deeply enmeshed he has nobody around him anymore who would ever challenge anything he would say and he feels under enormous stress. So I believe today he believes what he is saying even when he says this is a blue and red cup. He believes that it`s blue or -- I mean that it`s red.

MELBER: He sees --

SCHWARTZ: Now, I`m getting confused. `

MELBER: Well, this is part of how it works. You`re also -- you`re also teaching me that he`s a winker. I didn`t -- I haven`t seen him wink.

SCHWARTZ: I know. I don`t think he`s -- I don`t think he`s been winking the last -- you know, I think I may have said to you another time that he used to say to me all the time, Tony, can you believe it? Can you believe it?

MELBER: Right, which goes to that showmanship. You mentioned that the way it comes out of real estate where puffing is an actual term. You were allowed to puff which is to harmlessly inflate things. You are not allowed to defraud. That`s actually a difference in the law. Barbara Reza, you know worked with him and has many positive things to say about him. But she says even then, he would sell like it was gold and put in the cheapest stuff possible. Take a look.


TRUMP: Instead of building an average building, we`re going to make it the finest building in the world.

BARBARA RES, ENGINEER: The floor was absolute cheapest one floor you could get. He talked about parquetry, you know, marquetry, you know that kind of thing. It was nonsense. It was cheap tiles all glued down. The kitchens were garbage.


MELBER: Garbage and she built Trump Tower.

SCHWARTZ: Well, it`s a long way from lying about a parquet floor to lying about the most consequential issues of our time. And that`s what is frightening is that he is now spending a vast percentage of his energy even says this, a vast percentage of his energy trying to destroy the credibility of the people who are actually just saying facts.

MELBER: But he seems to understand that there is more appeal to conspiracies than even being pandered to. Take a look at the birtherism. We`re here in a week where Roseanne compared a prominent African-American to an ape and lost her show over it. Here was the birtherism that he felt was underserved in the political marketplace.


TRUMP: Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate? I want him to show his birth certificate. I want him to show his birth certificate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you accept that President Obama was born in the United States?

TRUMP: No, I don`t know. I really don`t know.

President Barack Obama was born in the United States period.


MELBER: What`s happening there?

SCHWARTZ: He knew he was lying. So that`s the shift that`s happened, Ari, is that when he was doing his birtherism shtick, it was very much in the service of building a constituency that was willing to believe the kind of conspiracy theories that people like Roseanne send out in 100 tweets. Today I don`t think he makes a distinction. He doesn`t know anymore. So when he says something like he did today, that Comey was not fired for the very reason that he said and we can see on video, he was fired namely over the Russia investigation, he actually believes that he did not fire Comey.

MELBER: And that`s -- and that`s important because it suggests that to some degree he`s also working to wound his own emotional situation if that`s what he needs to hear himself say. I wanted to explore that with you the next time you`re on. Tony Schwartz, as always thank you for being here. And ahead, another important story. Andrea Constand speaking out about the night that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her. That`s next.


MELBER: Something rare happening in the wake of the Bill Cosby trial. It`s been over a decade but we are now publicly hearing for the first time from the woman whose accusations against Cosby led to that conviction. Cosby found guilty last month on three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand. Now, she says he drugged and assaulted her in 2004, an event that she`s now recounting in this exclusive interview with NBC`s Kate Snow.



ANDREA CONSTAND, ACCUSER OF BILL COSBY: My mind is saying move your hands, kick, can you do anything? I don`t want this, why is this person doing this? And me not being able to do -- react in any specific way. So I was limp. I was a limp noodle.

SNOW: Did he say anything?

CONSTAND: No. No, he said nothing that I -- that I could recall. I was in and out of consciousness.

SNOW: And you don`t remember being able to speak?

CONSTAND: Inside I was so -- I was crying out inside and my throat, in my mind for this to stop and I couldn`t do anything.


MELBER: Constand also discusses how Cosby`s celebrity affected her.


SNOW: Did you tell anybody else about what had happened at the time?

CONSTAND: I did not.

SNOW: Why not?

CONSTAND: I didn`t think anybody would believe me. It was Bill Cosby. It was Doctor Huxtable. I thought I was the only person that he did this to. Who`s going to believe me?


MELBER: Now long after that and all the way up until the conviction, Cosby`s team was calling Constand a liar and accusing her of trying to profit off this whole situation.


EBONEE BENSON, PUBLICIST FOR BILL COSBY: Andrea Constand was not telling the truth. The jury should acquit Mr. Cosby of all of these charges simply based on the fact that she lied.

ANDREW WYATT, SPOKESMAN FOR BILL COSBY: Ms. Constand is like Robin Hood. She steals from the wealthy but she gives to herself opposed to the poor. She conned Mr. Cosby out of 3.4 million dollars. Andrea Constand made up these fantastical stories in order to get rich.


MELBER: Now there was a civil case and money is often the only restitution available there but Kate Snow discusses why money was not the factor in the criminal trial. Take a look.


SNOW: This took 13 years to finally become the criminal case and two criminal trials before he was convicted. She could have quit at any point. She could have -- she had a civil settlement way back in 2006. She got some money from Bill Cosby, $3 million. She could have gone away and said I`m not going to fight this battle anymore but she talks about with me tomorrow night on "DATELINE" why she kept going and it was for all the other women. She knew that if she didn`t walk the walk, that nobody would get justice.


MELBER: As I mentioned, this is a rare interview and I want to tell you, you can catch the entire Kate Snow interview and discussion with Andrea Constand on "DATELINE" that airs tomorrow night 10:00 p.m. Eastern on NBC.


MELBER: (INAUDIBLE) say this but yo! We have something very special tomorrow. There will be a takeover edition of "FALLBACK FRIDAY" with two legends from the great hip-hop show. You know it, you remember it. The Yo! MTV raps. MTV is actually relaunching the series and those originals Dr. Dre and DJ Skribble will be here. And I promise I won`t go any farther than I just have with the references. That`s my ceiling, but I am looking forward to it. That does it for our show. As I said, come back tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern for the whole show and a special "FALLBACK." Meanwhile, HARDBALL with Chris Matthews starts right now.


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