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Trump and Sessions defend family separation. TRANSCRIPT: 06/14/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Elliot Williams; Zephyr Teachout; Alicia Menendez; Jorge Baron; Satsuki Ina; Adriano Espaillat, John Flannery

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: June 14, 2018 Guest: Elliot Williams; Zephyr Teachout; Alicia Menendez; Jorge Baron; Satsuki Ina; Adriano Espaillat, John Flannery

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Just being honest tonight.

Anyway, guys, Dan, (INAUDIBLE), thank you all. That`s all we got for tonight. We will be back tomorrow for more MTP DAILY.

THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

And Ari, just take it over, man. Lot to get into.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You got it. A lot to get to, Chuck Todd. Thank you very much.

Our breaking story and our top story tonight is this new and horrific images emerging of what is happening, thanks to Trump administration policies, inside a Texas detention center as Donald Trump and his attorney general defend this policy of explicitly ripping migrant children away from their parents.

Now today, protests erupting across the country including House Republicans facing pressure to try to stop what some call a zero tolerance policy at the border. There`s a congresswoman who visited a detention center in Washington State.

Looking at the problem we are facing today, looking at why this is such a humanitarian crisis. The U.S. government now in the business of separating children from their mothers. Now, she just spoke out on these heartbreaking stories.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Many of these mothers have been there in detention, various detention facilities for over a month. Not one of them had spoken to their children. Only two of them knew where their children were. But the rest of them had no idea where their children were and they wept every single time they talked about their children. And they talked about how they were deceived, how their children were taken away from them through deception.

The mothers were literally sitting in a room next to where the children were being held and could hear their children screaming, could not hug them, could not explain anything to them and just were heartbroken.


MELBER: That is very chilling testimony, a chilling account from a member of Congress about what we are seeing. A policy of deliberate orphaning, of separating people from their own children and everything we know about this and we are about to speak to expert who is can explain it in more depth. A policy of deliberate traumatizing of children.

Now we don`t do a lot of bible talk here in the news. People can make up their minds. I did learn that you are supposed to love the stranger for you were a stranger in the land of Egypt. That`s one verse I remember. But today, the representative of the President of the United States explained this policy, this treatment of children by citing of all things, the bible.


JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would cite (INAUDIBLE) to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God is ordained the government for his purposes.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the bible.


MELBER: Putting aside the fact the bible is under our constitution, not the framework to resolve these issues, which the attorney general knows even if the White House spokesperson does not, spokesperson does not know that. Let`s look at what else we have here.

Jeff Sessions dismissing all of these concerns from experts and families by saying these migrant children who were ripped from their parents` arms are well cared for.


SESSIONS: This is HHS, health and human services. Something entirely different from the criminal justice system that they care for these children in a good and decent proper way. They are providing food and education in their native language, health and dental care. We transport them where they want to go while they are in the country.


MELBER: That is the representation of the Trump administration about what they are doing. We show you that so you can see their version of events.

What we are seeing, though, on the ground and journalistically is very different. Here is what is happening inside the casa Padre shelter in Texas. Children sleeping in dorm-style rooms, very little personal space, five to a room. These are built to House four. Each child wearing bracelets to identify themselves and they are scanned as they get their food from the cafeteria.

Our own NBC reporter Jacob Soboroff is one of the reporters who got an inside look where children are locked inside for up to 22 hours a day, a shelter employee telling reporters to smile at the children because they quote "feel like animals in a cage being looked at."

Now there is pushback. Some in both parties as I mentioned. Democrats are saying that these are atrocities and chastising this policy, which is policy in America today, as un-American.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: Separating children from parents, denying relief to victims of brutal domestic violence, that is not going to make our country better. That`s un-American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t think of anything more cruel, more inhuman. It`s psychological torture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s simply appalling and inexcusable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is just plain wrong regardless of circumstances to take children away from their mothers and fathers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is barbaric. This is not what America is.


MELBER: I`m joined now for a special discussion on this. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Democrat from New York, the first Dominican-American to be elected in Congress and formerly an undocumented immigrant himself, and Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Right Project. And with me in New York, Alicia Menendez, a contributing editor for Bustle and host of the "Latina to Latina" podcast. Thank you all.

Congressman, I begin with you. Is this a humanitarian crisis caused by the U.S. government?

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: There`s no question about it. These asylum seekers, we are prosecuting people that are fleeing from violence, in some cases from natural disasters, from adverse conditions. And we are treating them as criminals.

Not only that, but we are stripping their children away from them. How unholy is that. This amounts to child abuse. Most experts understand and know that when a child is brutally or forcefully separated from his or her mother, they are traumatized in short-term and long-term.

So this amounts to child abuse. And the government is perpetrating that kind of behavior. I haven`t seen anything like this and the whole world is watching. It even caught the attention of the United Nations. The human rights unit there has asked the Trump administration to halt this practice.

MELBER: Congressman, take a listen to what speaker Ryan said today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you comfortable with the current zero tolerance policy leading to parents and children being separated at the border?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: No, I`m not. We don`t want kids separated from their parents.


MELBER: If speaker Ryan doesn`t want this outcome, is he doing everything possible to prevent it?

ESPAILLAT: Absolutely not. In fact, they are just back pedaling. These children are being held in jail-type holding facilities that restrict their movement for 22 hours a day, allowing them only to go into the courtyard for one hour. They are restricted hours. They are under heavy surveillance.

This is clearly a jail-type situation for children. As they are 11 years old, ten, nine, eight years old. Some as young as four and three years old. These are children. For God sake, America. What`s happening to you soul?

MELBER: Let me play for another claim by the attorney general on how typical this is. Take a listen.


SESSIONS: Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families is not unusual or unjustified. It`s really a very short period of time. Normally the adults are only held in custody for a week or two or three.


MELBER: Not unusual. Not unjustified is the claim, Jorge. Your response?


MELBER: Sorry I was going to Jorge now and then congressman, we will come back right to you. My apologies.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you.

JORGE BARON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NORTHWEST IMMIGRANT RIGHTS PROJECT: So I wish the attorney general would come and speak to the women that I had a chance to talk to at the federal detentions here in CTAK (ph) because those mothers have been held for over a month now. They are still waiting for even the preliminary step of getting what is called the credible fear interview which should happen in the first week they are detained, but hasn`t happened yet. And they have been separated from their children for a long time. So I think this is highly unusual that we have had asylum speakers separated from their children, held for an extended period of time and not being able to reunify with their children.

MELBER: And again, these are questions I guess as part of my job to ask. So I will just ask. Does your knowledge and expertise on this suggest that this is traumatizing and abusive to the children when they are separated from their parents this way?

BARON: Absolutely. I mean, it`s traumatizing on both ends. I can tell you I have personally talked to four mothers of children ages six, 11, nine and 15. And for them, you know, the question that they kept asking me when I interviewed them was when am I going to be reunified with my children? They had heard through a relative --

MELBER: And what`s the answer to that?

BARON: The answer to that is, you know, I don`t know. Honestly, because we don`t know how long it`s going to be because they haven`t had even this preliminary interview that are necessary for them to move on to the asylum process. We are certainly looking at legal challenges to try to figure out if they can be released as soon as possible, but the reality is that they could be here for extended periods of time.

MELBER: Alicia and then back to the congressman as promised.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST, LATINA TO LATINA PODCAST: You know, one of the things that policy analysts are quick to point out is that some of these children are very, very young. In some cases they don`t speak English. It is not their primary language. Some of them don`t have language skills. So the level of trauma is hard to assess.

You are framing this as a humanitarian crisis. And certainly what is happening on the side of the border is part of that crisis. But we also have to be honest about what`s happening in the Central American countries that is driving these immigrants over the border. That is forcing someone to make the choice for their, really, to take their child and risk this type of treatment on this side of the border.

You know, I was in El Salvador reporting prior to this policy being put in place. But I would asked mothers. You know, you are sending their child by themselves with the risk you may never see them again, by the risk that they may be taken advantage of in that cross across the border. And to the mothers that what other choice do I have? And that is a big part of the reason that we are having this conversation today.

MELBER: Congressman?

ESPAILLAT: Well, the Republican want -- they really want to keep families together and they don`t want to split these families apart for months. They will have an opportunity to do that. Next week, we will be introducing legislation to treat asylum seekers in a different way. These are folks that are fleeing from adverse conditions. To unite families. To keep them together while they are at the border or cross to the United States. This will be a major piece of legislation that would give the Republicans the opportunity to be on the right side of history and to once again feel holy within themselves.

MELBER: I want everyone to stay with me as we bring in another special expert this with some historical context. Now today, the Trump administration was announcing the border town that (INAUDIBLE), Texas will be the site of this first tent city which is a sign of the permanence of this plan. Four hundred and fifty children there housed in these outdoor tents. An area where the average temperature can, of course, reach the high 90s.

For perspective on this, I want to show you Dr. Satsuki Ina, a child therapist, a professor at California State University. She was actually born in a Japanese internment camp on American soil during II and she produced a documentary "Children of the Camps" and has treated immigrant families held by authorities in had similar situations.

Doctor Ina, what`s on your mind? What can you educate us about all this?

DR. SATSUKI INA, BORN IN INTERNMENT CAMP FOR JAPANESE-AMERICANS: Well, I`m gravely concerned about these children. You know, they were traumatized at home. And the mothers that I interviewed described the limited choices they had where threats to their well-being meant that they are going to be separated from children at home. The gangs threatened to take the boys to be a part of the gang activity and threatened to take the daughters to be part of the sex trafficking industry.

And the one mother that I spoke to said that she felt that if she wanted to stay with her children, she needed to leave the country. And so she attempted this journey to come to the United States. And she was told by the Chayote that brought her across, that when she came to the border to put her hands out and to say the word asylum and that they would be taken care of.

But instead these women that I interviewed at the Carnes family detention center in south Texas were handcuffed and put in temporary detention on a cement floor overnight until they were transferred to the prison in Carnes.

So these mothers sacrificed everything they had so the children could stay us with them. So to find that now the children are being separated from the mothers is just unbelievably inhuman.

MELBER: When you hear Trump administration officials say their goal is to treat these families this way, to deter other asylum seekers, what`s your response?

INA: I think that`s a cruel and horrible punishment that`s being inflicted on the children. That they are using the children -- punishing the children in order to send a message back home so that others won`t seek asylum. And you know, these are innocent victims of a horrible trauma that will last with them for a lifetime.

MELBER: Stay with me.

Alicia, I want to ask about how this is playing out because these are decisions that are coming out of Washington. There`s a ton of hyperbole. There is a ton of distraction. And yet, it`s the actual facts of what we are hearing from these families and from people who have come up close and observed these members of Congress who can get closer. Sometimes than even credential reporters. That give us a feeling of what happened in these families. And so this was part of tense exchange here in the White House briefing today. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a parent. Don`t you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do. You are a parent. You are a parent of young children. Don`t you have any empathy for what they us go through?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s in the bible --

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It`s not what I said. And I know it`s hard for you to understand. Even short sentences, I guess, but -- and please don`t take my words out of context, but the separation of --


MELBER: It`s tense there and it can look like the normal drama, but that drama, at least according to some of those people in the room is about the moral center of what this administration is doing.

MENENDEZ: Right. There is a moral center and already because of these policies the conversation has shifted so far to the right, right. So you have the zero tolerance policy, which means you have all these children over taxing the system. There is now conversations about tent cities. About children sleeping in tents so we can have a place to house them. Which then make something like family detention centers, which were once, you know, somewhere in the middle of this conversation suddenly seem like a leftist alternative to the tent cities --.

MELBER: And to your point, tent cities is what the Trump administration is calling it. There are critics calling them camps.

MENENDEZ: Right. And so, they have effectively shifted the conversation to the right. Such that you used to have congressional Democrats hitting the Obama administration over the use of family detention facilities and now in this new world order, all of the sudden, family detention facilities seem like a better option.


Alicia Menendez, Jorge Baron, Congressman Espaillat and Dr. Ina, thanks to each of you.

We are going to stay on the story.

There`s lots of other big stories including a new suit by the top law enforcement official of New York against Donald Trump alleging he ran his charity for personal benefit and may have violated laws. We are actually going to speak to the candidate to fill that post in New York.

Also, my exclusive reporting what Michael Cohen`s predecessor is has Donald Trump`s chief lawyer is telling me about whether Cohen may flip. It is fascinating. I want to get into that tonight.

Also I`m going to breakdown something you may have heard about. It`s finally out. The DOJ report on James Comey, and yes, the Clinton probe.

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


MELBER: There is a significant new legal case filed today against Donald Trump and it cuts against the way he is always bragged about being rich.


TRUMP: I don`t need anybody`s money. That`s nice. I don`t need anybody`s money. I`m using my own money. I`m really rich. I have a total net worth and now with the increase it will be well over $10 billion. I`m not doing that to brag because I don`t have to brag. I don`t have to. Believe it or not.


MELBER: He doesn`t have to brag. But keep all the comments in mind because they are central to what`s happening. A rich man allegedly accused now of using his own charity`s money to play personal legal bill. If you are rich, why would you need to do that?

The news is that the New York attorney general has this lawsuit today alleging the Trump`s charity engaged in potentially illegal conduct. There`s plenty to unpack, but a few key points.

The lawsuit claims that Trump bought a $10,000 portrait of himself with his charity`s money to hang in his own for profit resort. Spent another $100,000 from the foundation on legal bills again to settle something at his for profit Mar-a-Lago property. There is the -- excuse me, the note he wrote about it. And then another legal battle settled with foundation money, $158,000, for yes, another for profit golf club.

I`m joined by a Zephyr Teachout. She is Democratic candidate running for the office that filed this suit today. Elliot Williams, a former prosecutor and deputy assistant attorney general and Bill Kristol, founder and editor of "the Weekly Standard."

Let`s look at it like this. Elliot, is it a strong case? And does it make Donald Trump look cheap, broke or just poor judgment.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Or all of the above. You know, after watching your last segment on immigration, Ari, I`m surprised that someone is not going to come out and say give to God what is God and Caesar what is Caesar here. Because ultimately we are normalizing conduct by the President that involves acts of fraud and unfair dealing.

It`s hard to assess whether it`s a good case now. What we do know for a fact though is that there are actionable -- there is actionable evidence of campaign first base violations, tax violations that frankly now are par for the course. We are getting used to lawsuits being brought against the President for all kinds of unfair conduct. They are inappropriate conduct. And so, the question we really need to be asking is why does this keep happening and why are we almost getting immune to it or getting numb to it, Ari?


BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER/EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: We knew all this - - most of this stuff in the campaign. We certainly knew about his checkered, to be polite business past here in San Francisco. He is someone today who is from New York and involved in the real estate business. It was an absolute open secret. I guess it wasn`t a secret. [It was an openly, we known in fact, that you couldn`t do business with Donald Trump. You didn`t want to be in deals with Donald Trump and is used of the foundation for maybe personal gain or for personal vanity. I mean, don`t you have a $10,000 portrait of yourself apparently paid for by NBC and your office? I mean, does everyone do that by a foundation?

MELBER: It may be worth $10,000. It`s just a selfie with a really good filter.

KRISTOL: Exactly.

MELBER: So, you know, eye of the beholder, Bill.

KRISTOL: But I mean, I do think -- so, look. I mean, obviously these things should be investigated. (INAUDIBLE) appropriate. I always come back to Mueller in the sense that if at the end of the say, Trump`s presidency is going to be fundamentally affected. I think it will be because of either a conspiracy during the campaign or obstruction of justice as President. Things -- he had, as I say, his was not a spotless business career to say the least. Once he got elected, people should follow the law and investigate things, but I`m not sure much of that ends up making a big difference.

MELBER: Zephyr, you are running for this exact office. Your take on the case today?

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT (D), CANDIDATE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: I actually think this is a really big deal. The lawsuit is really well written. It`s incredibly clear. The facts are shocking and show a pattern of illegal behavior for over 20 years by the Trump foundation.

It`s an abuse of the charity, the structure of charities we have in this country. We allow for charities, give them tax exempt status, give them a special role in our society because we want to encourage people to give money for education or the arts or to take care of those who are less well off. And instead we have the Trump foundation, which has board of directors that never meet, are not engaged in any decisions and instead Donald Trump appears to use it as a kind of piggy bank choosing to use foundation funds for his campaign.

MELBER: So let`s look at it this way. If that`s true, that`s bad behavior by Trump. But if that`s true, it also suggesting that New York State, which has been run by many Democratic office holders, I should mention, never dealt with this while he was a very famous resident with a big charity. Why wasn`t this dealt with because you could imagine some people thinking, wait, is this political or only because he`s President now?

TEACHOUT: Yes. I want to really credit Barbara Underwood, who is our attorney general who stepped in after Eric Shneiderman resigned.

MELBER: But the premise of my question is not the creditor. The premise of my question us if you are right that this is bad, why did he have to become President before New York woke up to these practices?

TEACHOUT: We don`t know how -- you know, we don`t know all the details of the investigation. We know the investigation began in 2016. The lawsuit came out today.

MELBER: Which sort of prove my point, no?

TEACHOUT: Well -- yes.

MELBER: Most of the charity stuff is older, not -- more reason because he became president.

TEACHOUT: Yes. I mean, it is something that you and I talked about before.


TEACHOUT: I actually think that it`s incredibly important to be looking under the hood of powerful people, be the President or other powerful people in their use of charities and their of businesses. And one of the things this lawsuit implicates is not just the Trump foundation, but the Trump organization.

MELBER: Yes. But I`m asking you a question about the Democratic leadership in New York State and you are hitting Trump again, which I get.


MELBER: And stipulate that if true is bad. But you are a candidate so you are not going to go further than that.

TEACHOUT: Well, as you well know, I have been very critical of the corruption in New York government.

MELBER: Yes, I know. I thought you might hit this because -- any you have. I would say for the benefit of viewers as made many of these points.

Elliot, your thought on that point and where this case heads?

WILLIAMS: You know, I want to piggy back on that point, the politics point. It`s very, very important one. Ari, you are an attorney, too. You know, investigations take a long time to build. And sometimes it takes -- it might take two years, three years, five years to build a good, strong case.

MELBER: Are you also defending this? I`m going to go to Bill.

Bill, the stuff may be bad but they are late to it now that he became president. I think we have to be honest about that.

KRISTOL: Donald Trump had very close relations are lawmakers of both parties in New York State and New York City and was treated with (INAUDIBLE) for a lot of abuses that it should have been. Well, I don`t know why Zephyr Teachout doesn`t want to say that. She is going to be a radical critic of the status quo and the Democratic Party.

WILLIAMS: Ari, if I may.

MELBER: To Elliot and then Zephyr.

WILLIAMS: But you know, let`s also look at Barbara Underwood and let us look at the men and women of the New York state attorney general`s offices. Barbara Underwood has been a prosecutor since I believe 1982, had never run for office. Is not running for office. And so to sort of the suggestion that this might --.

KRISTOL: That makes my point.

WILLIAMS: No. It`s just not --.


KRISTOL: you finally have to get someone who wasn`t an elected officials to do the right thing. That`s exactly the voice.

MELBER: Yes. That is kind of the point. I do because we have raised it. I`m running short on time. But Zephyr, your response?

TEACHOUT: Well, I think the deeper point here is that its Trump foundation and Trump organization but it`s not just Trump foundation or Trump organization. There`s illegal activity and the New York attorney general`s office, as I said to you recently, should step up. I do think it`s important to honor the work of Barbara Underwood in stepping up, but we need more of that. More of this kind of aggressive litigation that goes to the foundations that follows the money.

MELBER: Right. Zephyr Teachout, Elliot Williams, and Bill Kristol, a robust exchange not just taking the easy shots. I thank each of you.

Up ahead on THE BEAT, a lot of noise about this DOJ report on Comey. I`m going to give you my legal breakdown on the facts and the part of it that matters including why Comey was busted today for using personal email.

But first, we have been speaking with Donald Trump`s former lawyer, Jay Goldberg. You may remember him. He was Michael Cohen`s Michael Cohen effectively. He had that job before him. Now what he is saying exclusively tonight about possible flipping?

We will be back in 60 seconds.


MELBER: The other big story tonight, new heat on Trump`s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. He is now preparing to change his legal team and reportedly struggling with their fees. Now, today, I just spoke with Cohen`s predecessor as Trump`s top lawyer. The man you have seen named Jay Goldberg. Now, in a moment, I`m going to speak with Nick Akerman about what we are hearing. But here is the context. I have big questions for Jay and here`s what he told me about the new legal pressure facing Cohen now.


MELBER: Today, do you think Michael Cohen is more likely to flip than before?

JAY GOLDBERG, LAWYER: He`s more likely to flip because he`s now facing the prospect of lawyers pressuring him for additional legal fees.


MELBER: A lot of speculation out there but that`s the voice of Jay Goldberg who says he still has attorney-client privilege with Trump and who was there before Cohen. And he thinks Cohen is now more likely to cooperate with the feds. So then I asked Goldberg about the nature of the pressures facing Cohen. Nick, take a listen to this as well so we can discuss.


MELBER: Do you think that Michael Cohen is under pressure for things he did for himself or for things he did for Donald Trump?

GOLDBERG: I think both. I think you have to understand something that hasn`t been made clear enough and I hope you understand it. Every builder in New York City is a subject of mob influence by unions. The mob will tell the builder unless you give me a portion of money you will have wave of strikes. And this will -- or there will be garbage not picked up on time. Now, you have to ask yourself, and nobody has mentioned it. Why is the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District investigating Michael Cohen? Why? Is it Russia? No. Is it labor racketeering? Yes.

MELBER: Do you think the feds may have evidence that Michael Cohen fix things as you say for Trump for the mob?

GOLDBERG: I think that Michael Cohen regains people with the fact that he was connected to mob influence.


MELBER: As I mentioned, Nick Akerman is here along with former Federal Prosecutor John Flannery. Nick?

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Jay Goldberg would know. I first met Jay Goldberg when he represented Funzi Tieri when I was prosecuting him as the boss of the Genovese family. Jay Goldberg represented Tieri and he represented other members of that family. If anybody knows about the mob and has an inside story on that it`s Jay Goldberg.

MELBER: So when he talks about the Cohen`s regaling his word, people with stories of fixing Donald Trump`s mob problems, you`re saying he`s nothing with the mob in theory or an imagination, he has his own knowledge.

AKERMAN: Oh he knows because he was representing, I mean, I give you one example. With this Tieri case, I had four witnesses in the witness protection program, all of whom Jay Goldberg was cross-examining. He knows what it means for a witness to flip. He knows what it means when somebody cooperates. And he also understands that somebody like Cohen can cooperate because all of those records that have been seized from his office provide a blueprint for whatever crimes he`s committed. If he was in Prague dealing with the Russians, there`s going to be evidence in the record.

MELBER: John, mob ties, go ahead.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you know Trump has this long association before Roy Cohn passed to his final reward and the association with the mob and the variety of ways, the building industry, the failed casinos, you have to wonder about those, how were casino fails. And so, I felt like he was pulling a Rudy in a way because he`s introducing an aspect that Cohen is dealing with the mob for Trump which is kind of an astonishing thing and I haven`t seen anything publicly saying that that`s what the investigation is about.

MELBER: But this is coming from an individual who represented Donald Trump for a long time. I mean, part of what we try to do here in reporting this out is to talk to the people who are close to it. Isn`t that pretty striking coming from him tonight?

FLANNERY: Well, it`s striking. I mean, I think you may open up a whole other investigation. I mean, Rudy gave us how he funneled money to pay off tricks for Mr. Trump and now we`re talking about how the fixer also maybe takes care of the mob. You know, Trump has been compared to the kind of a godfather person who expects omerta in one direction of loyalty toward him. And this would be perfect because he`s had the people in his Tower who are associated with the mob and there`s been talk about what he`s done in various projects before. It would be pretty scary to have a made fellow or an associate of the organized crime network sitting in the White House determining our foreign policy and our law enforcement policy.

MELBER: Well, and look, this is surfacing from Jay Goldberg. He as Nick mentioned has a long a practice history in New York. He has his reasons. He`s been on the show before but we consider this newsworthy tonight. Nick, I also asked him about the allegations of witness tampering with regard to Paul Manafort and one thing I`ll mention for context for viewers is Goldberg appears intent on showcasing what he views as problematic behavior by Cohen and Manafort. Context for that being there are people around Trump who want to just say yes, maybe these are the worst guys ever but they`re rogue bad guys. Here he was saying that if Mueller can prove it, witness tampering is a huge deal with Manafort. Take a look.


MELBER: Is Paul Manafort in danger of being jailed before trial?

GOLDBERG: Well, he is. Tampering with a witness is a grave consequence in the federal system. And of Mueller can make showing that while he`s at liberty he presents risk of intimidating or influencing witnesses to testify in a way inconsistent with the truth, he could very well find himself remanded.


AKERMAN: I totally agree with Jay. I mean, he`s absolutely right. This is a 20-year felony. It`s extremely serious and already I mean, the only standard now for the judge tomorrow in terms of whether she remands him or not is whether or not the government has probable cause that Manafort was tampering with witnesses. The grand jury has already spoken about it.

MELBER: Low bar, low bar.

AKERMAN: That`s a low bar. The grand jury --

MELBER: So you -- this is the thing. There`s so much disagreement these days but Jay Goldberg, Trump lawyer and Nick Akerman a Prosecutor who I think is fair to say is critical to Donald Trump --

AKERMAN: It`s fair to say.

MELBER: --agree tonight that tomorrow might be the first step to Manafort going to jail. The other thing I want to play, John, you mentioned Rudy. Take a listen to a somewhat lengthy about a 50-second exchange we had on Rudy. Take a look.


GOLDBERG: I told Trump that I didn`t think that Giuliani was the proper lawyer for him because I think his manner is such as to draw attention away from Trump. In retrospect, he`s out correctly in deciding not to submit Trump to interrogation by the Mueller team.

MELBER: Do you think Giuliani is effective because even if his public performance is sloppy it`s still distracting from the actual Mueller probe?

GOLDBERG: That is true. It distracts from the Mueller probe. He`s certainly not polished and when you look at him and you hear him, you`re influenced more by his delivery, which could be off-putting and to that extent, it draws attention away from Mueller probe.


MELBER: John, briefly.

FLANNERY: Well, briefly. I think Rudy should be arrested for impersonating a criminal defense lawyer personally but I don`t think distracting is your objective. Aristotle said nothing improves your aim like having a target. Rudy seems to be an army of pompous phrases wandering across the vast landscape looking for an idea.

MELBER: Did Aristotle say that?

FLANNERY: No. A presidential candidate said the last part but Aristotle said the first part about the target. He was very --

MELBER: OK. Well, I like to -- I like to up with all the references and rhymes that come up on the show so John Flannery, thank you for your addition. Nick Akerman, thank you as always. Still ahead, this mural of Trump greeting migrant children separated from their parents, something you have to see but first up next my breakdown on the big new James Comey report.


MELBER: Today the internal watchdog at the DOJ Michael Horowitz released his long-awaited report on how James Comey and the FBI handled the Clinton e-mail probe, report about a probe that faced intense political scrutiny and it`s already getting some of the same treatment tonight. But let`s focus on the key facts and legal issues in this report not cherry-picking it for any particular agenda. Here is how the FBI Director explained the big takeaway just within the last hour.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review.


MELBER: That`s one top line but let`s dig in and do this right now. The first fact that I think comes through is that under Comey, the FBI was obsessed with managing its media perception instead of just doing its job and letting the chips fall. But that`s not illegal. It`s not even always a fireable offense. But the report shows the FBI leadership obsessed with appearance and their own predictions of how a decision might play out in the political arena. Consider this. 84 references to appearance in this report, 39 mentions is of reputation, another 33 to perception. And that`s because there are many, many sentences in here in this exhaustive 500-page report about managing perception.

Although, it finds no laws were broken and it finds that a lot of people exercise poor judgment and then defended their choices as essential to help manage the FBI`s reputation. That for example is how the report treats Loretta Lynch`s tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton. It notes they didn`t discuss the Hillary case so it was legally OK but it looked bad. And the report is much harder on James Comey, it echoes experts who says all of his public emoting about the Clinton case violated policy but again notes those are matters of judgment and Comey`s motivation was that he thought those actions would basically make the FBI look good. As you probably know they didn`t and Comey being Comey, he says he`d do it all over the same way.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: Even in hindsight, and this has been one of the world`s most painful experiences, I would make the same decision.


MELBER: The report is of course -- more, it`s about more than anyone official which is useful as you think about reform. Remember Comey`s deputy Andy McCabe, he`s a key witness to potential White House obstruction and thus he`s someone Trump is targeted. So the author of this report Michael Horowitz departed from another DOJ policy himself and basically looked like he was obeying Trump`s timeline to criticize McCabe for how he talked about his media contacts regarding the Clinton investigations. Some experts say that calls into doubt Horowitz`s judgment. And now this report shows just how common FBI media contacts are. Horowitz noting profound concerns about how many unauthorized contacts there were between the FBI personnel and the press.

I`m going to show you charts based on the report that show how frequent it was for FBI employees there the -- all the different nodes of that -- of that circle contacting reporters in 2016 alone or this chart where well you have a reporter reaching 18 FBI employees and another reporter on the phone with FBI employees including executives and special agents up to 30 times. And they weren`t just talking to each other. The report finds FBI employees got tickets to sporting events and golf outings and drinks with the media. While the report suggests all of that media management is excessive for the FBI, we also know and this is kind of interesting, they weren`t very good at it. The report notes that even though there were recusal specifically to avoid the appearance of a pro-Clinton bias, that`s something the FBI kept secret even though the whole purpose was to avoid a perception of bias. If something is supposed to address the public perception, it doesn`t work if it`s secret which this new report notes saying, this approach quote made no sense.

Now, if we take a breath you might say, Ari, this is a lot of talk about perception in the media. Yes, that`s the problem. We don`t really need an FBI that`s good at reputation management or reacting to Republicans in Congress. We need a Federal Bureau of Investigation that`s good at federal investigations. This report is a reminder of how many serious people in Washington clearly don`t understand how their world has already changed. These are not normal times. If you`re watching the news right now, I bet you know that. But this report shows many FBI leaders operating on the ridiculous premise and if they could just publicly explain to their harshest partisan critics and their tormentors and right-wing media why they think they did the right thing, then the perception would relate to that truth that people would treat them fairly. Maybe there was a bygone era when that was true but it`s not what happened in 2016 and you know it`s not the way it works today. Now, I got to tell you something else. The report reveals an FBI agent involved in the Clinton case had really bad judgment talking tough and writing that maybe "we`ll stop it when it comes to Trump`s election."

Now, that`s an unacceptable motive for any FBI agent although the good news is for America the report finds those kind of texts well, they did damage the reputation, notice that obsession again, but it also finds the good news that while the agent talked tough he did not act on that and no one else did inside the FBI. As for reputation, there`s another discovery from this report that I got to highlight for you, and actually I think we have to -- we got to go ahead and change the monitor, can we do that? Yes, but his e-mails. Because this report notes that while James Comey was out there slamming Clinton for her personal e-mail use, he was using his own personal e-mail for FBI business. It does not get more absurd than this.


COMEY: There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive highly classified information.


MELBER: Now you can see there from the report, it says Comey used his personal email accounts to conduct FBI business. Busted. That is new tonight. And let me tell you something. That is chutzpah on steroids times a million. Now ultimately law and order is not just about perception it`s about justice. The report has some pretty careful language written in a loyally way that still fundamentally roasts James Comey and that adds to the public criticism about his whole handling of the case so you may hear some people particularly political people on the right say all of this shows why he should be fired which of course is a reasonable hypothetical but also irrelevant because the president told Lester Holt this is not why he fired Comey, and that firing itself is part of what Bob Mueller is investigating, an investigation that Trump appointees like Rod Rosenstein and the new FBI Director are constitutionally required to support.

And that is where the implication of some of the findings in this report matter most. Beyond perception of media contacts, if those leaders still think they can work the refs and can negotiate on due process or on the facts with the people whose stated goal is to stop investigations to undermine law enforcement and the current open probe then we could all face something much more grave than perception or Inspector General reports. We could face the clash of conscience that comes when law enforcement leaders have to choose between the pressure they face, the pressure on the perception, and the Constitution they`re duty-bound to serve. That could be up ahead and that`s why it`s called a constitutional crisis.


MELBER: Take a look at what I`m about to show you. A Trump mural that now hangs in this Texas Detention Center we`ve been covering which houses migrant children, many separated from their parents under an unusual Trump administration policy. Their murals from Trump and other presidents throughout the shelter, many with quotes about immigration. Here is Trump`s message to the kids. Sometimes by losing a battle, you`ll find a new way to win the war. This is offered up, too many of these children we`re told they`re terrified there that they can win a war. And like so many things Trump it`s not original. He also used this common saying in the art of the deal but about real estate. Sometimes by losing a battle you find a way to win a war, there, and he was talking in the book about his failed attempt to evict tenants from their homes in 1985. This is now directed at some of these children fleeing their own homes who now find that in Trump`s America they may lose more than just the homeland they fled; they may be forced to lose their families as well


MELBER: There`s been a lot of reporting about the idea that Donald Trump has made the Republican Party loyal to him not principals especially after the election`s this week. Well, Donald Trump son has a response. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: If it`s a cult, it`s because they like what my father is doing. You see real Americans actually winning for a change, conservatives actually getting things done.


MELBER: It is rather remarkable to see the allegation of cultism accepted and offered as a point of pride. A final thought in our show. And that does it for THE BEAT. We`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.



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