IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump meeting privately with GOP. TRANSCRIPT: 06/19/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Judy Chu; Enrique Morones, John Brennan

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: June 19, 2018 Guest: Judy Chu; Enrique Morones, John Brennan

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Grace is a gift. And like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that Grace was paid for with somebody else`s blood. Do not forget it. Don`t take it for granted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Chris Pratt, guardian of the galaxy. He is an avenger. An avenger, but how about that moral compass? Those are just great words. Please don`t polarize them, folks. He actually just had some decent things to say.

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, Chuck. Thank you very much.

The humanitarian crisis that Donald Trump created at the border continues to engulf his presidency right now. So tonight, we are going to give you live reports including from Chris Hayes in the field. I also I have reports coming up on holding White House aide Stephen Miller accountable for his role in all of this.

Right now, President Trump is on Capitol Hill and he is handling privately with House Republicans. Now, some of them have been publicly critical and they may unload even more so in this private meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the real tragedies of illegal immigration that kids are often the greatest victims. We can stop this.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The zero-tolerance policy could be changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White House could change it in five minutes and they should.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the President can do it, too, and I think it has to be fixed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Meanwhile, Donald Trump saying this when he arrived on the hill. This was moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The system has been broken for many years, the immigration system. It`s been a really bad, bad system. Probably the worst anywhere in the world. We are going to try and see if we can fix it. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We are learning that it is now up to 13 member of the Senate Republican caucus formally asking attorney general Jeff Sessions to stop it, to stop separating these families at the border until at least they can figure out an alternative.

Now today, the top Republican in Congress Mitch McConnell at least claims On the Record that he is against separating families for any future legislation. Now remember, before I show you this, Republicans control the Senate and the House right now. They could pass a bill tonight actually doing what Mitch McConnell is talking about, actually stopping this if they wanted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I support and all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together while their immigration status is determined.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: What we would do is move these families to the head of the line. In the interim they would be in a humane, safe and secure family facility. And hopefully we will get this problem addressed right away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So that is what this all sounds like in the capitol where politicians talk.

Meanwhile, out in the country as we are going to show you tonight, Donald Trump`s orders are being enforced. Children split from their parents. In some cases put in cages, and they are crying. And we are starting to hear the leaks, the audio, little slices of what is apparently a nationwide epidemic. Children crying as they struggle to make sense of what`s being done to them.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

MELBER: That is what these orders sound like when enforced. This is one picture of what it looks like.

Now, if you follow politics and you watch the news you are probably familiar with a pretty basic pre-iron rule of politics that is don`t compare things to Nazi Germany because nothing is like Nazi Germany. But I can show you something else happening right now on FOX News of all places, that is the comparison that immigration hard liner Laura Ingraham pressed on attorney general Sessions, and he sort of accepted the framework he because he responds by contrasting this zero tolerance policy against inbound immigrants and children to Germany`s treatment of what he views as outbound migrants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Nazi Germany, concentration camps, human rights violations. Laura Bush has weighed in, Michelle Obama, (INAUDIBLE), all the first ladies going back down in Roosevelt. She has apparently weighed in as well.

General Sessions, what`s going on here?

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it is really exaggeration cause. In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, against this backdrop today Donald Trump is doubling down in his speech on child separation policy. He is also literally wrapping himself, take a look, giving a big hug to an American flag.

You can watch it twice. It looks the same way both times.

If you have a sense that things are starting to come off the rails in America right now, that things are getting worse, we can report for you tonight there is a lot of evidence to that end. Let`s speak plainly.

Your federal government openly admits it`s using innocent children as a pawn in an international effort at what they call deterrence. Your government creating camps to detain these children, and the President of the United States is lying about his own policy in a way that is brazenly sloppy even by his own standard. The kind of lies that act a gesture of one of the more significant questions in executive can ask the rest of the nation in a constitutional democracy. What are you going to do about it?

I`m joined now by California congressman Judy Chu. She met yesterday with some of the children separated from their parents in facilities in California. Enrique Marones, a founder and director of Border Angels and "the Chicago Tribune`s" Clarence Page.

Congresswomen, starting with the facts, what did you see on your tour?

REP. JUDY CHU (D), CALIFORNIA: Yesterday, 14 Congress members including myself and leader Nancy Pelosi went down to the border in San Diego to go to one of these shelters that is housing these children. We saw 62 children ages six to 17 who were either unaccompanied minors or were separated from their parents. And it was just overwhelming to see these really young kids as young as six being there by themselves, traumatized by the situation.

We were able to talk to the mental health counselors who told us what these children are saying in private, that they feel lost, they feel abandoned, they do not know where to turn next and they are scared for their lives. This is not the America that we know.

MELBER: Is this a consequence of what this Congress that you are a member of has passed or a consequence of Donald Trump`s zero-tolerance orders?

CHU: This is solely the responsibility of President Donald Trump. Donald Trump issued the zero-tolerance policy. This is what is causing these young people to be separated. Now over 2,000 of them that have been separate from their parents. And Donald Trump has the ability to reverse this. He could call Jeff Sessions right now and tell him to stop this, to stop this separation of children from their parents. So, yes, it is squarely at the feet of President Trump.

MELBER: Enrique, many things are polarized in America right now. This is an issue as the light has shown and facts has emerged the attempt to polarize has become I think more difficult. We showed in our intro some Republicans claiming they are against it, although they are not acting on that in the Congress tonight. Take a listen to some of the coverage on the right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since more illegal immigrants are rushing the border more kids are being separated from their parents. And temporarily housed in what are essentially summer camps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some referred to them as cages, but keep in mind this is great big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain-link fences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are saying these child actors weeping and crying on all these other networks 24/7 right now. Do not fall for it, Mr. President. These kids are being coached.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m so sorry. We have to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are being scripts to read by liberals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Your response, Enrique?

ENRIQUE MORONES, FOUNDER/DIRECTOR, BORDER ANGELS: I`m just outraged. I have been to these facilities. We have been working on the front lines with the people that crossed the border or on either side of the border for 30 years with the Border Angels. And a society is judged on how we treat our children.

And what is taking place right now is horrific. Donald Trump without a doubt is pure evil. No other country in the America has walls. No other country in the world separates children from their parents. And to call them child actors or have Laura Ingraham laughing or Jeff Sessions quoting the bible, same quotes that we use to justify slavery, it`s outrageous. It is unacceptable.

People are dying right now because of the law that already exist. Eleven thousand people have died because of the 700-mile wall that already exist. We have been putting water out there for more than 20 years.

I have done with these children. In 2014, we took in more than 100 children that were fleeing violence, much of it caused by U.S. policies in Central America. These people have no legal way of entering the country. They are desperate. And most undocumented people in the world do not come to the United States.

There`s 250 million around the world, the U.S. has 11 million. But the U.S. is country that for a long, long time people looked up to. No longer. What Donald Trump is doing is pure evil. And Jeff Sessions and pence are right side by side as are Republicans. Donald Trump should sign an executive order and change this policy. It`s inhumane.

And I and many people are crying right now you play the tapes that was heard a couple of days ago in the center. It is horrific. How can people do that? That hasn`t happened in this country since the time of slavery. It hasn`t happened in the world since the time of Nazis and Donald Trump is right there with him.

So I`m ashamed. It is an embarrassment. It is horrific and we need to be outraged and pay attention. We need to make a change. Donald Trump represents the worst of the American spirit.

MELBER: And Clarence, the White House as we have reported, you know, extraneously denies aspects of this. They certainly object to some of the historic comparisons. I should mention, we have invited Mr. Miler and others on this show, offered them ample time, they are not taking us up on that at this moment.

But Clarence, you are view on all of this?

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, what was striking to me, Ari, if you are going to have a policy like this, own it. President Trump ran for office on this immigration issue. He was distorting it from the day he announced his campaign. And now that this policy has been implemented and the administration is getting some blow back, he wants to say, well, it is all Congress` fault. They are the ones who created the law and blah-blah blah, which is not true.

He changed the policy. Attorney general Jeff Sessions announced it and the department of homeland security has implemented it. This comes right out from the Trump administration. And now other Republicans are upset in Congress, those who are getting blow back from their home districts. Well, senators from their home states. But at the same time they put themselves in this situation because they have stuck with Donald Trump because some things on his agenda are shared interests that they have, that they want to see passed. But now it`s like they are holding these children hostage in order to get Donald Trump`s wall --

MELBER: Let me ask you about that Clarence. You are hitting that point. You used the word hostage. And this is such a key point because there are always federal policies that have word (ph) and sometimes, in artfully refer to as collateral damage.

PAGE: Right.

MELBER: What we don`t usually see to you and Enrique`s point, and I would think that the congresswoman was alluding to this as well, we don`t usually see that the claim of collateral damage especially to children is itself a goal quote-unquote "deterrent." Take a listen to the administration struggling with that very issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our department of homeland security personnel going to separate the children from their moms and dad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I am considering in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network, I am considering exactly that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you intending to send a message?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I find that offensive. No. Because why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully people will get the message and come through the border at the port of entry and not break across the border unlawfully.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that policy meant to be a deterrent or not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think it`s so much meant to be a deterrent as it`s really trying to enforce a law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Clarence, this goes to the moral heart of this. Is this hurting children by accident somehow quote-unquote "unavoidably" or is it a deterrent goal? You there on tape, people and John Kelly and others admitting it is a goal.

PAGE: No one will admit to hurting children on purpose. The fact that people want to doge, the reasoning behind the passage of these laws of which was to try to have a deterrent to people wanting to come across the border.

Again, it`s sort of hypocrisy to wanting to dodge responsibility for a wall which was admittedly flawed. We are talking about our immigration system does need reform. It has for a decade that it has been a mess in Congress because of gridlock. And part of this is because of the wild accusations and the wild baseless statements that have been made about how we need to have closed borders. We can`t have open borders. It`s not a question of just having wide open borders versus having nobody come in at all. We are talking about having a reason and orderly process and system setup. And we can`t do that as long as everybody is just yelling at each other.

MELBER: Congresswoman?

CHU: Yes, I think we need to make sure we have comprehensive immigration reform that has been stuck and stymied because of Republicans` objections to it, but the children should not be a bargaining chip in this process. And that is exactly what is going on right now. They are using -- being used as a bargaining chip for $25 billion worth of funding that Donald Trump wants for the border wall. These are horrendous situations where the lives of these children will be affected forever just because of money that Donald Trump wants for that border wall. And that is not right.

We have gone a quarter of the hour.

Enrique, with the brief time we have left, what`s the key fact you want people to know about the truth on the ground?

MORONES: The fact these people are coming in, that they have no line to get into. The people that are desperate, that are crossing the border. And those who do have a line apply for asylum and Trump calls them animals and MS-13. There`s a lot of lies out there. These are human beings. We should be treating people with dignity and respect. We need humane immigration reform. It wasn`t the Democrat`s fault. It`s one person`s fault. It`s Donald Trump. And like I said he is pure evil and we need people to see this.

MELBER: Enrique Morones, I want thank you for sharing your view of this.

Congresswoman Judy Chu and Clarence Page.

Coming up, I`m going to share my thoughts with Stephen Miller, holding him accountable for his role in this policy.

Also we go live to the border with Chris Hayes` reporting from Texas.

And some big news with Michael Cohen`s case and the rumors he might flip.

Also I sit down tonight with Obama`s former CIA director John Brennen.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Donald Trump`s orders to split up families at the border is not some accident or collateral damage from a broader strategic plan, it is the goal of his administration. When you see these images of crying toddlers or hear the voices of 6-year-olds wailing as they come to grips with border agents detaining them and hauling away their parents, you are seeing and hearing this policy as intended by Jeff Sessions` memo directing this crack down on migrants with quote "zero-tolerance for the humanitarian exceptions" that administrations in both parties previously applied.

We all know Trump campaigned on this kind of crackdown. We know he got many of these ideas from Jeff Sessions who was actually the very first senator to endorse Trump.

Where did Sessions get these ideas? That`s the focus of our accountability report right now. Because as America looks in horror what is being done in our name, we must also reckon with who is doing it.

Accountability, of course, starts at the top with President Trump and attorney general Sessions, but it doesn`t end there. Beyond the attorney general and Trump cabinet members who oversee these policies, there is the architect who helped create them, a 32-year-old former aide to Jeff Sessions who drives Trump`s immigration policy.

And to see how the U.S. ended up in this situation we are in tonight, traumatizing these children by choice, as we as the nation face these allegations of human right violations, you also have to see how Stephen Miller got us here. And that history could inform our road out of this mess. There`s a famous saying. A problem well stated is problem half solved. And many experts say Steven Miller is the root of this problem. He holds a radical view contradicted by our constitution. A view that is actually more lawless than it is traditionally American. It is a view he states that on immigration President Trump has unlimited powers that will not be questioned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR: Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions that the powers of the President to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Miller was incorrect about that. That travel ban he was discussing there, well it sparked not only operational chaos but was later halted and narrowed by the courts. Trump forced to respond to that questioning, if you. With a travel ban, the Supreme Court expected to rule on that this month.

But apart from ideology, Miller`s competence has also been questioned. His own coworkers and allies concluded he wasn`t fully competent to keep working on the travel ban. "The Guardian" noting he was removed from the process of writing the revised ban. And fellow conservatives called out Miller for hurting Trump by rushing out other immigration plans that were not competently vetted for legal scrutiny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You`re going to make mistakes, I think you saw that with Stephen Miller and that rushed out ban on Muslims, not that really ban on Muslims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He not really attribute that failed push on the travel ban to people like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller who crafted this thing - - reportedly crafted this thing without running it through the legal checks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: When Congress was working towards negotiating immigration reform, which Donald Trump claims this week he wants action on, well, even Republican senators took the rare step of calling out Miller as a staffer by name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Going nowhere.

Now, other observers say Miller doesn`t mind these critiques or he may even relish them because he is not interested in traditional public interest policymaking. They argue like kind of like Steve Bannon, he actually views policy as kind of a spectacle, no matter who gets hurt. Some have written that he sees a value in constructive controversy, which he thinks will bring enlightenment long before Trump trolling even became a political phrase. Miller used a combative trolling style in high school when running for student council.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: Hi, I`m Stephen Miller. Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash, and we have plenty of janitors paid --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Plenty of janitors paid to pick up the trash for you. Now, that is just a high school statement. Although he is young, so that was only about a decade and a half ago. And it connects because Miller deploys a pretty similar style today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: I am shocked at your statement that you think only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It is actually, it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, you`re not answering the questions.

MILLER: You have 24 hours a dale of material, and you are not going to give three minutes for the American people to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get it. There`s one viewer you care about right now, and you are being --. Please, OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now when Congress appeared closer on immigration compromise back in 2013 it was Miller then an aide to Jeff Sessions who worked hard to block any breakthrough by playing up the thread immigration to Congress and reporters alike.

He had some sense of where the GOP base was headed. We worked for Steve Bannon`s Breitbart which was (INAUDIBLE) back then to try and shape public perceptions about immigrant crime.

Now that was long before Donald Trump was in-charge in the GOP or the country. It is a clue, though, that viewing Trump`s actions and this border crisis as only about Trump could leave us missing the wider dynamics that he is tapping into. A growing antipathy towards immigrants in the U.S. as well as all of the drama across Western Europe and fear about job losses and crime. Now, many people have been lying about the threats immigration poses to the U.S. and some those same people now lying about immigration policy, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s the law, and that`s what the Democrats gave us.

The Democrats forced that law upon our nation.

We can either release all illegal immigrant families and minors who show up at the border from Central America or we can arrest the adults for the federal crime of illegal entry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

It is telling that both Donald Trump and his DHS secretary who run this policy are busy lying about it, as we just showed. Now these lies are kind of admission, they may now realize this is bad move either politically or morally and they would rather now deny it than work on fixing it.

We know they are lying because we have the facts. The zero-tolerance policy is written and public. And Stephen Miller`s own boss admitted the abuse of children is part of the policy`s goal of creating, yes, this buzzword, a deterrent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you considering this as deterrent?

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I see the fact no one was being prosecuted for this as a factor in a five-fold increase in four years in this kind of illegal immigration. So, yes, I hope people will get the message and come through the border at the port of entry and not break across the border unlawfully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: If you are keeping score here is where we are tonight.

Trump and his DHS secretary lying about this. Jeff Sessions trying to have it both ways but admitting at least under questioning what the goal is, the deterrent. And Stephen Miller, the original architect, not pretending his policy is anything but a clear and simple move to provide zero-tolerance for these families and other humanitarian considerations.

I should mention we reached out to Miller for comment and come on THE BEAT. He has declined.

Two days ago, though, he publicly said in "the New York Times" that splitting families is a simple decision by the Trump administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. A simple decision.

There`s a cruelty in those three words even by the standards of 2018. And I think it does lay bare part of how we got here and why this problem does run deeper than the spectacle of one Donald Trump.

You have seen the pictures. People are suffering tonight, but tomorrow`s story has not been written yet. There is a potential for a reckoning right now, for this nation to reflect what we want done in our name and who we want leading these decisions. And immigration and asylum dilemmas are not typically black and white, to be certainly fair.

From what the world owes the 5.6 Syrian refugees right now to what the world did about roughly 60 million innocent Europeans displaced during World War II. It`s not as if seriously looking at those problems and that instructive history leaves any particular policy or particular nation coming out perfect.

But let`s be clear, no one with any real experience reckoning with those challenges from the families who lived it to the humanitarian workers who tried to help, to lawyers and judges who deal in the picket (ph) law every day, I don`t think any of those people would seriously state that these kind of calls about law and mercy, about life and death, that these are simple decisions. And those calls and those crises I mentioned, Syria, world war II, that`s a long way from a proactive Trump/U.S. government policy slitting children from their parents as a tool of deterrence, which of course may be a euphemism for intimidation.

So as citizens as we decide what to do each day about any potential reckoning, I think the most devastating thing you can probably say about Donald Trump and Stephen Miller right now isn`t a criticism. It`s not an attack. The most devastating thing is just their words stacked up against the result of their deeds tonight. Let everyone see it and hear it until we decide when it must stop. Mr. Miller says separating these families is a simple decision for zero tolerance for illegal entry period.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy! Daddy!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary, does what`s happing on the harm U.S. moral authority?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That Secretary of State Mike Pompeo there ignoring a question about whether this migrant crisis undermines the moral authority of the United States. Now Pompeo`s predecessor as CIA Director joins me now. John Brennan, thank you for being here, your first time on THE BEAT during a period of real controversy in the United States. There`s plenty of moral questions. We just covered some of them. Do you see a national security component or problem to this Trump policy?

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: Well I certainly do. Not just from a humanitarian standpoint. That audio tape was just devastating just listening to that it`s heartbreaking. But in terms of how the world views the United States and to our allies and partners who for so many years looked up to us as setting a standard for what is right, what is moral, what is the right thing to do for the world, the fact that we now have an administration who seems to totally disregard that, I think it has tremendous implications for national security and reverberations around the globe. The United States is not that standard-bearer anymore.

MELBER: What position does it put public servants in who are still duty bound to enforce most orders?

BRENNAN: Well it`s very difficult for individuals and the issue along the border is really a tough one. When I was at the White House during President`s first term, I was Homeland Security Adviser. These are not easy decisions. But the cruelty, the lack of empathy and compassion of the policy that`s coming down from Mr. Trump really makes it difficult for those members of the Customs of Border Patrol, CBP to be implementing policies I`m sure many of them find reprehensible. So it really puts our public servants or civil servants in a very difficult position. And I`m sure a lot of them have tears on their cheeks right now.

MELBER: Would this be something a political appointee should resign over?

BRENNAN: I think somebody who is being asked to carry out something like this that is cruel, that is inhuman and there`s just a continuation of this policy. I can see if they were trying to implant something and then they realize my goodness, there are these consequences that we really have to stop. But the fact that they`re sticking to their guns and they`re digging their heels, I think these are things that local appointees who with the conscience and who really want to make a difference should give serious consideration to departing the government.

MELBER: You know a lot of things about a lot of things as the old saying might go so I want to also get you on this new Bob Mueller filing. It talks about discovery that identifies individuals that the government believes -- that Mueller -- are continuing to engage in interference operations like those charged in the indictment, the idea that there`s ongoing Russian interference. What is your view of the meaning of that and when Bob Mueller says that, is he building a case which we know means the most aggressive reading that prosecutors have or would he be relying on the kind of intelligence that you used to oversee?

BRENNAN: Well I think both. When I was Director Of CIA, whenever we would get intelligence that had bearing on a counterintelligence investigation that the FBI had to pull the threads on, we would provide that information to the FBI. So I`m sure Bob Mueller, the Special Counsel`s team is now picking up things on their own investigative leads but also using whatever intelligence is available. And I don`t for one minute think that the Russians are taking a back seat in terms of trying to influence the political landscape here in the United States through the electoral process.

MELBER: You are someone that has quite a public record and a lot of public esteem and respect. You`ve also said things that as you know people criticize. I want to ask you about one of those. Something you said on "MORNING JOE" that based on what we know, maybe you could correct us seems to be in the realm of speculation about what the Russians have or don`t have on Donald Trump. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENNAN: I think he`s afraid of the President of Russia.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Why?

BRENNAN: Well you know, I think one can speculate as to why. That the Russians may have something on him personally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is it a good idea or even proper for a former intelligence official such as yourself to speculate on that. What is the purpose of that if perhaps, in fact, the Russians don`t have anything on the President?

BRENNAN: Well, I think I`m trying to explain a very puzzling phenomenon which is Donald Trump playing a very fawning attitude and having this differential role illness to Vladimir Putin, trying to explain it. And so yes I said that you know, one can speculate that the Russians may have something on him. As a former Director of CIA, I`m not going to get into what I might have known at that time. That was classified but I continue to just underscore my puzzlement over why (AUDIO GAP) take steps that appear to try to undermine the role the special counsel in this investigation that if he was totally innocent of any of these allegations of involvement, that he would allow the Special Counsel to pursue his investigation without any type of impediment.

MELBER: So I want to press you on that respectfully. If someone listens to you say that which is very intriguing given the stakes and someone has the interpretation that you may be trying to lawfully refer to something that`s classified that is true without confirming it.

BRENNAN: I`m not lawfully referring to anything that might be true but I don`t -- I`m not willing to reveal. I am just saying that it`s unclear in my mind why Mr. Trump continues to have this attitude toward Vladimir Putin and the Russians.

MELBER: Again, turning to another important topic you`ve been involved in, the use of drones which is something that gets almost no attention anymore but has been controversial. Reading here from a New York Times report just last week. President Trump has now oversaw not double, not triple, but five times as many lethal strikes in his first seven months in office as Obama did during a six-month a corollary and that was controversial and you were involved in that. Walk us through whether they`re getting this right, is it a problem if the numbers are up or could that be justified because this is sort of a dark war that appears we have very little public oversight on.

BRENNAN: Well, I know the facts here. I don`t know what the conditions and circumstances are that the Trump administration is using the drone technology which is remotely piloted aircraft to actually put missiles and ordnance on targets. But President Obama was very adamant as far as making sure that we use that very powerful weapon of war in a very judicious fashion and we make sure that we have near certainty of no civilian casualties in the application of that weapon. And I don`t know my understanding based on some of the press reports is that high standard that existed during the Obama Administration may, in fact, have been lowered.

MELBER: Let me ask you in another way because I appreciate your precision. Would you apply that standard and easily end up on five times as many lethal strikes?

BRENNAN: I find that hard to believe. Now I know that they`re -- over the course the last 17 months or so there`s been a lot of urban warfare in places like Mosul and Raqqa and it`s much more difficult to carry out these types of strikes in areas where there are a large number of civilians. But the fact that if the reports are true that is five times. I think that it would be very, very difficult to apply the same standards and have that many strikes. And that seems like a very important story as well given the fact that as you allude to there`s a lot we don`t know about it. It`s your first time on THE BEAT. I really appreciate you coming by, a lot of big issues. John Brennan former CIA Director, thank you for being here.

BRENNAN: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: And again, I want to tell you we are not only tracking what Mueller said in the filing but what Rudy Giuliani is talking about his own FBI interview for the first time. Also after rumors of flipping, Michael Cohen taps a new lawyer tonight. But first, Donald Trump is still as we mentioned defending this border policy. Chris Hayes, my colleague live outside a Texas detention center and joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: President Trump just departed his meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill. No signs of him wavering on this border policy. And now we go live to McAllen, Texas near a detention center. You`re looking at the shot there of the President departing and live from Texas is my colleague Chris Hayes, host of course of "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes. Chris, given the President`s comments today doubling down, what is the reaction if any you`re hearing out there and what are you seeing on the ground?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Well, people are really upset about what`s going on here. And everyone who touches this system is saying it hasn`t been like this before but the combination of the policies that have been chosen by the administration, the numbers of people that are coming is creating a crisis. The administration itself is telling people that they`re overwhelmed. And one of the things you got to understand is there`s sort of two policies that are happening here and they`re working in tandem. I was talking to an immigration lawyer down here whose tracks to the border for 40 years and there`s two things happening. We`ve been focusing a lot on family separation. That`s a new policy there. The zero tolerance policy in which they`re charging people with misdemeanors and separating their children and then very unclear how they get them back.

The other thing that has happening and it`s part of the same policy it appears is people being turned away at ports of entry when seeking asylum through the proper channels. Asylum is enshrined in American law. There`s a statute that protects it. It`s a part of international law. They show up at the proper place where they`re supposed to. They present themselves for asylum and they are told to come back, we don`t have room. And this is leading to families with children sleeping on bridges for weeks at a time because it`s too dangerous to go back across this bridge in McAllen here to Reynosa. It is leading to people ultimately getting desperate and paying coyotes to come across the river and across illegally. So those two things that are happening, the prosecution for illegal entry while preventing people from coming legally appear to be part of a kind of pincer movement intentionally designed to choke off asylees trying to come into the country.

MELBER: Well, you mentioned that and that goes to the very harsh and sometimes cruel way that some of these things are being depicted. It is the U.S. government that`s widely been reported to be mistreating these children in a way that as you put it is a choice. But here is the ICE Director talking about it as if well, anyone who brings a child is really the person putting the child at risk and thus responsible. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS HOMAN, ACTING DIRECTOR, ICE: These parents themselves are using these children as pawns to gain entry the United States knowing that we can`t detain them. And as far as the separation of families are concerned, you have to put the blame on the parents. They are choosing to enter between the ports of entry, they know they will be separated but they want to blame the government when we are forced to do that. So let`s put the blame on lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Chris, give us the facts.

HAYES: OK, first of all, they`re not choosing in many cases to enter between the ports of entry because as I said they`re being turned around -- turned away when they go to the actual proper ports of entry. To those that are entering, let`s keep in mind what these people are undertaking whether they`re from Guatemala or from El Salvador, they are undertaking what is by all accounts the most dangerous journey a person can undertake in the world right now. It is absolutely a risk for death and for rape and for sexual assault and for kidnapping. And the only reason people are doing that is because they are in desperate straits, because their twelve- year-old or their 15-year-old was attempted to be drawn into the cartels and said no, ended up with a bullet in their stomach or was beaten by the side of the road.

Stories like this are everywhere. So no one is coming across this journey of a thousand the most dangerous miles you can traverse in the world to in the words of Jennifer (INAUDIBLE) the immigration lawyer I talked to get a new refrigerator. By definition, the trip itself is a deterrent and people are doing it for their children because they are afraid their children will be taken from them, drawn into the cartels or killed if they stay. That is what is driving people up through that dangerous passage to come to our border.

MELBER: And just briefly, what do you think is the most important thing you`re digging into in your reporting tonight is this -- as this crisis continues?

HAYES: I think that it has to be seen as part of a larger enterprise by this administration to essentially choke off all of this. And what we`re sort of coming into view is that somewhere inside DHS some switch got flipped. Child separation is part of it. What`s happening at the ports of entry is part of it. It is a totalizing attempt on the part of this administration to prevent desperate people who have the right to seek asylum from being able to exercise that right under U.S. and international law.

MELBER: Yes, I think that`s well put and as you know the entire history of asylum law is having a structure for people who as you were reporting are in a desperate position not of their own making. That`s the whole point. Chris Hayes, I appreciate on a busy day down there you spend some time with us. I will mention "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is live of course, live from Texas at 8:00 p.m. and then "THE LAST WORD" live as well from Brownsville, Texas at 10 p.m. with Rachel right in between. A lot of reporting on this story. We will stay on it. Now up ahead, I`ve got some news that is pretty fascinating it would have been higher in the show if not for everything else. Michael Cohen after the rumors of flipping he`s got a new lawyer. We`ll tell you what`s happening next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Some pretty interesting breaking news tonight. Donald Trump`s longtime lawyer has a new lawyer. This comes from Vanity Fair. Michael Cohen hiring an attorney named Guy Petrillo who handles money laundering fraud and other types of investigations. Now Cohen split with his legal team last week after that hearing about his mostly failed attempts to holdback privileged materials from the FBI and very well publicized rumors that he may flip. Now, what happens next, we`re not sure. But either way Cohen`s old boss Mr. Trump has said he isn`t worried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you worried that Michael Cohen might flip?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look. I did nothing wrong. You have to understand, this stuff only comes out a long time ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he still your friend?

TRUMP: I haven`t spoken to Michael in a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It gives you a little a little flavor in the front lawn. Meanwhile Rudy Giuliani out with this bombshell. He says that FBI agents personally interviewed him all stemming back to that dramatic claim he made right before election day that Trump had a surprise for Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: And then I think he`s got a surprise or two that you`re going to hear about in the next few days. I mean, I mean, I`m talking about some pretty big surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard you say that this morning. What do you mean?

GIULIANI: You`ll see.

MELBER: You`ll see. Now Comey ultimately reopened that FBI probe sort of into Clinton`s e-mails and the concerns about leaks were significant enough that Comey explained what he did about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I commissioned an investigation to see if we could understand whether people were disclosing information out of the New York office or any other place that resulted in Rudy`s report on Fox News and other leaks that we were seeing in the media. I don`t know what the result of that was. I got fired before it was finished. But I know I asked it be investigated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Well, because (AUDIO GAP) is whether there was criminal leaking designed to impact the election. We don`t know in any way if Rudy Giuliani did anything wrong. All we know tonight, (AUDIO GAP) he is announcing (AUDIO GAP) FBI interviews about it. We will stay on the story and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: As we round out our show I want to make sure you know that the thing we have in the corner of the screen will continue tonight with our ongoing coverage of this border crisis. Chris Hayes reporting from McAllen, Texas, that`s of course 8:00 p.m. Rachel Maddow broadcasting after that followed by Lawrence O`Donnell on the ground in Brownsville, Texas. If you want to hear more from our shows this week including our immigration coverage or my piece on Stephen Miller, you can always find those as part of our broadcast on the podcast. You look for the purple icon on your iPhone home screen. You click that right there. Go to the search bar and you just type in Melber or THE BEAT with Ari Melber. You can see the show pop up and you can get every night in audio format, no commercials and some of our exclusive extras which we drop on the weekends. And that does it for THE BEAT. I appreciate you spending some time with us. We will be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. And, of course, "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to Trumpville. Let`s play HARDBALL.

END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END