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Five dead and multiple injured in shooting. TRANSCRIPT: 6/28/2018, The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Stephanie Schriock; Neera Tanden; Donna Edwards

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: June 28, 2018 Guest: Stephanie Schriock; Neera Tanden; Donna Edwards

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That's right. Thank you, Ali Velshi.

We have a lot to cover on this big news day, including, of course, this unfolding set of events.

I also want you to know that Senator Cory Booker is my guest tonight, discussing his view of what should be done in the Supreme Court fight.

Also, there's news breaking about the Trump-Putin summit as well as this ties to the Mueller probe.

So we have all of that in tonight's show. But we begin with the tragic story in Maryland.

A suspect in custody after bursting into this newspaper office, killing at least five people according the authorities, with several others injured. There was a reportedly a shotgun used to blast through a glass door.

I want to get right to Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF special agent in-charge. We have been following this story and our MSNBC reporters in the field as well.

Jim, what do you see as important here?

JIM CAVANAUGH, RETIRED ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN-CHARGE: Well, I think a couple of things. One from a witness, Ari, early on said the shooter, killer reloaded, that gave him maybe a chance to get some people to get away. We also had the police with quick response, 60 to 90 seconds, and they apprehend the guy alive, Ari.

So he clearly could have, you know, charged them even with an empty shotgun but he chose not to die. So you know, we don't know the motive. It could be domestic, it could a revenge, he could have been fired, it could be an attack on journalists for their job, their profession or something they have written. So it remains to be seen.

There is a lot of open questions. But the guy chose to live. And it makes me think that the guy still has some message.

MELBER: Right. And you are referring to the potential motive which authorities haven't nailed down. And what your point is that while tragic in any situation based on reports that we have been reporting what we have seen there, that it would be a different type of crime analysis if this, for example, you know, workplace dispute or domestic dispute versus something with a larger motive, a larger agenda.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Exactly. If we have some kind of political agenda, political motivation say against journalists, the commanders need to sort that out, if they can find that out, they need to tell the nation that if true. If it is more localized, domestic, revenge being fired, targeting the gazette for a local reason, then they may hold it longer. It is not as critical that everybody knows that, and their investigation can proceed.

So that would be the recommendation, you know, if I was in command area, that's what I would be saying to the chiefs. If it is that larger motive, we can't hold it because other journalists could be in danger. But we have had, you know, kind of neo-Nazi alt right fanatics calling to murder journalists in the last week. And so, you know, these things sometimes they are in the political talk and harm --.

MELBER: Again, we don't know what authorities are going to determine at this early stage.

I want you to stay with me, Jim, and also turn to bring in NBC's Hans Nichols who has been part of our breaking coverage and is at the scene. What are you seeing on the ground?

HANS NICHOLS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well we are seeing a massive police force, a massive presence here, Air, trying to get and secure the area which they say they have. You know, we basically know some of the outlines. There is a lot more we need, but resetting quickly, five dead is what police have confirmed. They walked away from that number, then they reconfirmed it. They hinted, they didn't say they were certain. There were three injured. We don't have an idea how many people totally were inside of that newsroom.

But just to set a scene for you. As far as the eye can see there are police cars. And this is a wealthy part of the country. Anne Arundel (ph) County has some very expensive homes on the waterfront. This is a well- funded police department. You have a Nordstrom's department store there. Of course, they were taken across the street to Lord and Taylor.

A prosperous part of the country. You have many ex-military who retired here. And you get a sense here that there is very much a strong community. And that this newspaper was part of that community. I talked to one local here and they said the nickname for it was the crab wrapper because they obviously wrap a lot of crabs in this part of the country. But it is part of the fabric of this part of the country.

I think what we need to figure out moving forward is a little bit more clarity on the gun. The initial reports were shotgun. And I think that's important because if it is a shotgun, that's something that is quite common, used for hunting, obviously, frequently and doesn't have that many rounds. It can hold typically. They hold three rounds. You can take the plug out and put in five.

Also, if it was a shotgun that's not a high velocity weapon. It doesn't rifle. It gives you a sense that there won't have been that much range that they have. All that said, we also have reports that it was a long gun. Now a long gun doesn't negate the possibility it is a shotgun. But it does give you an indication they are still trying to figure out some crucial details -- Ari.

MELBER: NBC's Hans Nichols on the scene and Jim Cavanaugh, thank you both.

And we will keep an eye on the shooting investigation and update as warranted through the hour.

We now turn to the other gigantic story in politics, policy, law and the future of the nation. These shockwaves when it was only in the last day that Justice Kennedy made a surprise announcement. He is leaving the Supreme Court.

Democrats vowing to explore any way possible to stop Donald Trump from naming a successor before the midterms. Kennedy's announcement has fears all over the country including among progressives that Trump will use this to radically reshape the court, nominating a hard right judge to replace Kennedy, who of course, that at least in some cases has been a swing vote. And that could put the court at a much more as a conservative tilt and possibly roll back protections for women, for minorities, for the LBGT community. Kennedy being the author of the marriage equality decision.

Now former vice President Joe Biden, of course, who was coming out of Senate Judiciary Committee before he became Obama's running mate says that in normal times in such a divided Senate, the President would look for a consensus candidate and the other President, he argues, would do that and try to get votes from both parties. No one thinks though we are in normal times.

And here is what Biden is saying. It's up to us, America, speak out, rise up, be heard. Many women's rights leaders are doing just that.


ILYSE HOGUE, PRESIDENT, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: Our phones have been ringing off the hooks. We can't keep up with the emails wanting to know what to do. And I need to be really clear in delivering a message. Any attempts at appeasement will be disastrous. The American people are depending on these senators to stand strong.

CECILE RICHARDS, FORMER PRESIDENT/CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: We are going to be mobilizing all across the country to make sure that our senators know you can't support a justice that will overturn Roe versus Wade.


MELBER: Are the Democratic senators hearing the messages from activists? Some say they will stand tough.


REP. KAMAL HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Based on every conversation with my colleagues so far this afternoon, everybody is prepared to play hard ball.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Can you push this off until after the election so that we can take this matter to the people?

HARRIS: We are going to have to fight.


MELBER: But what is fight mean? Do shut down hearings? Do you widen this and say you will should down the Senate completely from other matters? You block funding for Donald Trump's priorities going forward? Do you try to recruit members of the GOP caucus who say they are pro-choice, two female senators to actually act that way on this vote?

The Democrats aren't opening up on plans today. Now, my colleague Chris Matthews made waves saying they must figure it out now.


MATTHEWS: They will find a way to do it. There are ways to slow down votes, there are ways to prevent a modest majority of 50-49 from getting its way. They will find that way or they will fail. And if they fail, they will lose their leadership. The party will not accept failure on this front.


MELBER: Chris Matthews knows the Congress. And if you hear what he just said, he is speaking plainly to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, saying your jobs are on the line right now.

The Republicans obviously are not giving up at all. They dismiss the comparisons to 2016 when Mitch McConnell broke precedent and refused to even hold hearings let alone a vote on President Obama's Supreme Court pick.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: This is not 2016. There aren't final months of a second term constitutionally lame duck presidency with a Presidential election fast approaching.


MELBER: There are many times in politics where you get different realities from different sides.

I want to begin the conversation tonight with a larger point. Both sides agree on one thing. The stakes on the fight are huge and they will outlive the presidency of Donald Trump. Rights that many Americans think of as part of being American right now are at stake. And a new justice could make decisions also about what happens at the end of a Mueller probe that relates to legitimacy and the potential criminality of the current presidency. Consequences could reverberate for decades.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember this so we have to pick a great one. We have to pick one that's going to be there for 40 years, 45 years.


MELBER: I am joined by Neera Tanden, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, who is now CEO of Center for American Progress. Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's list, the group who supports pro-choice female candidates. And Donna Edwards, a former Maryland congresswoman.

Stephanie, is this the new litmus test for all Democratic elected officials?

STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, PRESIDENT, EMILY'S LIST: Well, the Democratic Party made it clear in 2016 when they strengthen their party platform on access to reproductive choice in this country. You better believe that women across this country are going to stand up with everything they have. We recognize that the next justice nomination means everything for generations.

And for women, I mean, we are talking about a President who promised, promised that he was going to appoint somebody who ultimately would criminalize abortion and punish women. And thus far, he is pretty much kept to all of his terrible promises. I don't know why he would walk away from this one. So we have to stand up. And I do believe the Democrats are ready to do just that.

MELBER: You are talking about that from a position of substance. You worked on these issues through your life. The politics of this are important because it is a political battle that will be won or lost, and the political argument on the choice issues is that it could move Republican senators if this is seen as the focus, reading here from a democratic leak to "the wall Street Journal," an aide saying the party sees a campaign around abortion rights the best shot to make voting for Trump's nominee as unpalatable as possible from Murkowski and Collins who both said they support Roe v. Wade, which of course is the foundation for those women's rights under a federal Supreme Court president. Do you think politically, that is the place to start, Neera?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT/CEO, CENTERS FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think are really two issues that is stake that are fundamentally important to women and people of this country. Ones is that a Trump nominee from the list he put forward will overturn Roe, and essentially undermine women's freedom in this country. And the second issue is that this court and this President is focused like a laser beam on destroying the affordable care act, and ensuring millions lose coverage, including pre-existing conditions. I think both of those issues are paramount.

And frankly, both of those issues are ones in which Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins made pledges to their constituents that their actions would not hurt, would not undermine. They claim to be pro-choice, to be for Roe and access to women's health, and they claim to be supporters of health care and not insuring that people lose coverage. And with this decision they will make a choice about the future that effects both those issues for millions of people.

MELBER: Donna?

DONNA EDWARDS, FORMER MARYLAND CONGRESSWOMAN: Look. I don't think that Democrats will really be able to sustain our party if we roll on this nomination. I think it is really critical to getting out our voters for the elections in November. But I also think this is really about who we are. And in addition to the things that Stephanie and Neera laid out, we are talking about voting rights, immigrant rights, LBGT rights, and the litany goes on. You wept through the list.

And so I think it is imperative for Democrats, not even Senate Democrats don't even let a resolution on naming a post office go through unless there's a guarantee that we are not taking up this nomination until after the election.

MELBER: You are saying shut down the entire Senate. This is something I wanted to ask Senator Booker about who joins me later in the hour. It is one thing to say fight, fight, fight, those are words and understanding a voting against a nominee is not hard for Democrats. Are you saying shut down all Senate business?

EDWARDS: What Senate business is going on anyway to be quite honest with you, either in the House or the Senate. The Republicans are playing hard ball. They are prepared to use this as an election year strategy. Democrats need to do the same because it is not just about our party, it is about our nation. And I think it is that important.

And let us be really clear. I wasn't happy with the strategy in 2016 because I thought it would result in exactly what we have right now.

MELBER: What strategy?

EDWARDS: The strategy of basically slow rolling the garland nomination, enabling it to go through. And so, I think that it is time really for us to really stand on behalf of all our grass roots who are going to be out there and who are ready to fight, and putting public pressure obviously on Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski, but also the inside game of working with the two senators who claim as Neera has stated that they are on behalf of women's reproductive rights. Well, let's put it on the line. And they can drive us to consensus nomination.

MELBER: Let me take it to Neera.

Donna is referring, you know, to the strategy the Democrats have. A lot of critics would say they didn't have one. Now, Neera, people know as a Hillary person. They may know you ideologically from cap (ph). I also know you as a political person. And I think you are on the harder edge side of street fighting compared to some other folks in the party.

But what is your view of the fact that people out there think that Democrats don't know how to do the street fight and don't know how to hit back as hard, and Mitch McConnell was rewarded for hijacking. And how do they tactically stop that and make consequences this time?

TANDEN: You know, I absolutely think that the lesson of the Trump era is you cannot bring a knife to a gun fight. The tactics that are used against Democrats, against minorities are ones that are extraordinary. That basically Mitch McConnell has broken all the rules and all of the norms for raw political power and achieving the ends of Donald Trump. That's something that we all have to cope with.

And the reality is the best vehicle we have is direct democracy. What actually worked to save the affordable care act was not as saying nice things in Congress, it was people flooding town halls. It was people getting to airports and basically tailing, senators leaving. It was basically the American people rising up. We need to do that.

Right now, I am absolutely for every Democrat signing onto this, but the reality is every Democrat isn't enough. We need 51 votes. We need the American people to tell Republicans that they have to hold our constitution as something that they actually uphold. They have been no check to this President. And now we are looking at a court. There will be no check on Donald Trump either.

And let me just remind folks as you pointed out this Supreme Court justice could determine Robert Mueller could actually issue a subpoena to Donald Trump and could vote against it. And that is why -- Donald Trump is a minority President who is elected by a minority of the country. We need a consensus nominee, one that gets a super majority, one that is not the extreme of the hard right, one that a majority can support.

MELBER: Well, and you are making such an important point about inter branch issues. There are some things that are under our constitution that have unitary authority of the President. This is not one of them. The Senate has a role. The senate represents the rest of the country. And as a political matter, Neera, as you know better than most, Donald Trump didn't come in with a mandate. He came in with a deficit. Because he got fewer votes than the other person.

So as a political matter when you deal with the Senate and the rest of the nation, there isn't that legitimacy.

Briefly Stephanie, to get you back in, take a listen to what Donald Trump said last night.


TRUMP: Justice Kennedy's retirement makes the issue of Senate control one of the vital issues of our time.


MELBER: He is betting this is actually going to help his base turn out the midterms. Final thoughts, Stephanie?

SCHRIOCK: We have seen millions and millions of women across this country first march of 2017, seen a record number of women run for office. And do you think this is going to slow down motivation of women? You have got to be kidding me. What we are seeing is as women across the country stepping up right now with extra enthusiasm, recognizing that their futures are at stake, their children's futures are at stake with this court nominee and everything that goes around it.

So yes, there might be some additional enthusiasm on the right, but there are more of us than them. And I am seeing this energy build up and build up and this moment more so than ever, to every woman that is listening out there, you have to take action. This is not the time to stand on the sidelines. This is the time to call your senators, to make sure that you are registered to vote and that you have to vote and bring everybody with you because our future depends on it.

MELBER: Stephanie Schriock, Neera Tanden and Donna Edwards, thanks to each of you. A lot of food for thought.

Coming up, as I mentioned, Senator Cory Booker makes his first TV appearance for interview since the Supreme Court fight began. I'm going to ask him about his game plan.

And Trump's own pick of the FBI and DOJ, smashing back at Republicans and the idea that the Mueller probe is made of just of Democrats.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not consider myself an angry Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not a Democrat and I'm not angry.


MELBER: Also new reports, Mueller investigating why so many Russians have VIP access at the Trump inauguration. You don't want to miss that.

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


MELBER: Today President Trump attacked Bob Mueller by name, it doesn't always happen, and also defended Vladimir Putin. I will read it to you.

Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. I guess take their word for it.

Trump also stepping up an assault on the Russia probe itself.


TRUMP: And then they go after us for a Russian hoax. It is a witch-hunt hoax. Isn't it incredible when you talk about a double standard?


MELBER: Bob Mueller doesn't respond to this kind of thing, but we can follow his work.

ABC News is reporting he is now eyeing some prominent Russian oligarchs who apparently had VIP access to Trump inauguration events. Mueller also subpoenaing Roger Stone's former aide. Trump's allies in Congress following his lead dramatically today. This was a big event, series of attacks on Mueller's boss, Rod Rosenstein.


REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: You know, you talk about the Mueller investigation, it is the Rosenstein investigation. You appointed Mueller, you are supervising Mueller.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There's an old saying justice delayed is justice denied. I think all of us are being denied. Whatever you got, finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The judge that heard Mike Flynn's case, why are you hiding that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you didn't have thing (ph) to respond. I heard no allegations publicly and on TV. And if you let me respond.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, he should be given the opportunity.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. OK? I'm not the person doing the redacting. And my job is make sure we respond to your concerns. We have, sir. Well, I appointed Mr. Loush who is managing that production. And my understanding is it is actually going very well, sir. So I appreciate your concerns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, I think the House of representatives is going to say otherwise.

ROSENSTEIN: But you are use of this to attack me personally is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, may the witness be permitted --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not personal.


MELBER: I am joined by Nick Ackerman, former Watergate special prosecutor and Guy Lewis, a federal prosecutor who worked with Mueller, Comey, and the man you saw there, Rod Rosenstein.

How do you think Mr. Rosenstein did today? That's about as heated as we ever see him get in a public forum.

GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I got to tell you, I have not seen Rod get that frustrated. Frankly, you could see the anger on his face. If you watched the entire hearing, I think he was called at various times a liar, a cheat, a cover-up. I mean, clearly, I think my best guess is between the President and again remarkably members of his own party, which I assume, you know -- Nick will tell you even in Watergate errors that didn't happen. I mean, they thumb the rule book out the window. They have taken off the gloves and they are going after anybody involved in this investigation.

MELBER: Nick, I will play more of the exchanges. It was obviously political. It was very obviously partisan attempt to rough up Mr. Rosenstein because I think the reason (INAUDIBLE) is not that Rosenstein is doing such a terrible job that the work itself would undermine him, but rather that he or Mueller may be finding something. It hurts the Republican side. Here with another exchange about the on-going investigation.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Mr. Attorney general, do you believe as Donald Trump indicated that the investigation of which you have read the inspector general's report has vindicated Mr. Trump as relates to collusion or is the investigation on-going?

ROSENSTEIN: There is an ongoing investigation, yes.

LEE: And it is not completed?



NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Of course it is not concluded. There are so many different avenues to follow here. The idea that this investigation is going to be completed overnight is absurd. Mueller has only been in office a little over a year. Already a number of people have been indicted, organizations have been indicted, people have pled guilty.

This is how you build a case. The idea that the justice department works on a 24 news cycle and suddenly comes up with charges immediately is totally contrary to a rule of law, the way the justice department works, the way they put together cases. They have to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. To do that kind of case, put that kind of case together, you don't do it overnight. You have to get people in the grand jury. You have got to take testimony.

We, as we sit here now, we have no idea where this is all going at this point. We don't know where it is going to end. But it is not going to happen overnight. And what's happening here is an absolute outrage. Either they are trying to undermine the investigation completely or on top of that they are also trying to pollute the jury pool that's out there that's going to be assembled very shortly to consider the case against Paul Manafort.

I mean, the idea that our own government is trying to pollute that jury pool against the government is totally unprecedented and I don't think it's ever occurred in our history before.

MELBER: Yes. And Guy, what did you think -- I don't know if you saw the outtake there of Trey Gowdy, kind of leaning back, loosened tie, long night before the committee hearing, and of all of the people, it is a large committee, they can apportion that questions as want. When I worked in the Senate, sometimes there's a strategy on that. I guess they give him that justice delayed is justice denied question when he had been, Guy, going triple the length of the Mueller probe with far less results to date.

LEWIS: Yes, Ari, there is no question. Really, if You Tube Trey Gowdy and watch him, the guy is an effective crossexaminer. He knows how to do it. He knows how to find that little weakness, to open that door just a little bit, to go in, and once he smells a little blood in the water, he knows how to go after it.

And look, there's some ammunition in this case, whether it is the FBI agents who were, you know, frankly sending inappropriate texts back and forth.

MELBER: On FBI devices, sure.

LEWIS: Exactly. So there's some ammunition. And so, they have taken that and they have taken off gloves and they started just hitting in the face as hard as they can.

MELBER: And you said -- you said You Tube Trey Gowdy. That's your hot tip today?

LEWIS: Listen. The one you did on the rapper (ph) which I love and Trey Gowdy on cross examination. That is my recommendation.

MELBER: Well, I have been You Tubing darn videos. And apparently I am using You Tube the wrong way.

Guy Lewis with good ideas when you have spare time and Nick Ackerman, thank you both gentlemen.

Up ahead, we turn to Mitch McConnell getting ready for maybe the fight of his life. Now Senator Cory Booker joins me when we are back in just 60 seconds.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I'm joined now by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker who serves on the Judiciary Committee. Thanks for joining us on a very busy day. You have not seen yet who Donald Trump will nominate to fill this pivotal vacancy on the Supreme Court, how does -- how did you develop a position before you know who it's going to be?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, I think there are a lot of things that we have to be very clear and honest about as a country right now. And perhaps one of the biggest things that has been shaking this administration is that this President is the subject of a criminal investigation. And so here you have a president that has been making a whole lot of loyalty tests and other things from people. We know this now. Should we be confirming to justice that's going to be coming from a person frankly that there's a conflict of interest there that this judge could end up having to preside over cases relevant to this criminal investigation? Can our President pardon himself? Can a President be criminally indicted? Can a president dismiss the person that's investigating them? A lot of these issues might come right before this Supreme Court and have a president who has a history of demanding loyalty tests, should that person be able to right now while this criminal investigation is going on be allowed to put such -- to make an appointment. I say no.

MELBER: So you're suggesting that it would be most prudent for the President not to be allowed to fill this vacancy at all while this probe is open?

BOOKER: I've seen that the Senate which should be acting in a responsible fashion of both Democrats and Republicans have already seen fit to think about a potential constitutional crisis. I have a bipartisan bill with Lindsey Graham that passed out of the Judiciary Committee trying to protect the special counsel in this investigation. And here we have relevant facts that might come before the Supreme Court like I mentioned before that should this president be able to put people in place that could then come back and protect him, a president who's asked for loyalty tests, asked for a litmus test such as that and I just again, think that that is imprudent and we shouldn't do it.

MELBER: Do you think that this president would look to fill this vacancy explicitly to try to protect himself against the issues you mentioned, against having a Supreme Court that as it did with Nixon might rule against the president and force him to provide evidence?

BOOKER: Yes. I mean, here we have a president said if he knew that Jeff Sessions would properly act to recuse himself, he wouldn't have appointed Jeff Sessions. Here's a guy that had conversations with Comey that clearly indicate that he was looking for a loyalty test. So here is a president it seems to be doing a lot to try to protect himself. There is a growing concern that he's going to not only be issuing pardons to others but might look to pardon himself. And so in this -- in this environment -- and while Comey's investigation is well underway, taking a pause right now and waiting until the outcome of this criminal investigation of which President Trump is a subject of, it seems like the responsible thing to do to me.

MELBER: So that's your goal and you've laid out the rationale. How do you achieve that within the rules of the Senate? How would you prevent that under the current structure of the Senate?

BOOKER: We're in a -- we're in a really unfortunate period of American history right now. We had a legitimate President under President Obama who had almost a year left in his term and Mitch McConnell saying he was setting a standard subverted that all literally stole away from a President in the last year their ability to appoint somebody to the Supreme Court. And so if that is the way that this majority is going to go, I have no illusions that they're going to stop at nothing to do a generational shift in the court which will take away the freedoms and liberties to so many of us have come to enjoy in this country, like the freedom of a woman to make her own healthcare decisions, like the freedom of gay Americans to marry. There are so many things that there are people on the right who have been saying, on the far right that it's their intent to take away those freedoms from Americans. So I see this as a very dire period where there's a lot at stake but I'm not conceding anything. We're going to have to fight this every step of the way and I think that this is a time especially for the American people to be speaking up to make sure that their freedoms which are in the balance right now are protected.

MELBER: So I think what a lot of people want to know when they hear you say that even if they agree with you is how do you do that? On the Judiciary Committee would you try to prevent the hearing from taking place of this eventual nominee? Would you be using boycotts? Would you be trying to disrupt a quorum? Would you be using a filibuster? What are the tactics you're going to use?

BOOKER: Well I'm not going to explain all the tactics necessarily and meet out a strategy here with you now, but there are a lot of conversations going on. And I'm not -- again I don't want to give any illusions that they don't have power, the numbers, that last election that we had the 2016 election. We said this during the campaign that this could end up being one of the most important elections because of the Supreme Court, because of what a Republican majority in the Senate has shown their willingness to do. And that already -- forget even the Supreme Court, what we're seeing right now in terms of them taking away things like the blue slip which sounds like a technical term but these used to be things that were protections to allow more moderate judges to come aboard. They're trashing all that in a rush just as a president has appointed more people than any president in modern history because of the way that they're trampling over Senate procedures and Senate norms.

And so I understand what we're in for. I understand that that last election has in many ways undermined our ability to get a lot of this done. But I stand here before you right now as the fourth popularly elected African-American in the history of our country to the United States Senate because of folks who did not accept even the most tortured decisions like Plessy versus Ferguson and more from the -- from the Supreme Court. They still stood up, they still fought and they still reclaimed freedom and justice in our country and that's the point where we are right now. So I'm not going to mad out -- meet out to you a strategy but every American right now has to understand that the first thing to do is we cannot be silent while this is going on.

MELBER: Well Senator, let me respectfully push you a little bit. You're saying something we've heard other legislators say which is they don't want to do the strategy here on what is day one, the first full day since this news. I used to work in the Senate, that makes sense. I get what you're saying. And yet the counter-argument is that Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz and these other colleagues, they did step up immediately and lay out their public strategy which was no hearing, no consideration, no nothing from Merrick Garland. Now as you know, and I think our viewers appreciate the equities were different depending on who controls the Senate. But why wouldn't it be the case the Democrats would begin today, those at least who share your position, would begin today laying it out so that there are clear lines whether that is using boycotts or defunding the government, or even shutting down the government, I don't know. It's your strategy but why not start laying those lines in public now if you mean them?

BOOKER: Well, Ari, I think we have laid out a lot of things. First and foremost, everyone has to be involved in this. It has to be a moment of American organizing and activism like we saw that prevented them from ripping away healthcare when they first tried to do that like we saw when the first Muslim ban came out and people were in airports all around this country. The first part of any strategy has to be the engagement and the activism of people, letting their voices be heard. There are a lot of senators who haven't made up their minds yet, both Republicans and Democrats. We need to make sure that they're hearing from people. So whatever effective strategy, it has to be focused on people under the impact that will have on their lives, for a woman's ability to make their own medical decision, their freedom. You I both know that if this Supreme Court Justice conceded, that there could be states within days that are banning abortion, banning abortion in the cases of rape and incest, banning the abortions in cases of the life of a mother being threatened. These are the kind of liberties and freedoms that are at stake and any strategy rights going to have to begin with Americans deciding not to be silent at a time like this and as you know, there's so much at stake.

MELBER: And Senator, I know your time is short so final question on a different issue. Today, Republicans in the House going hard at Rod Rosenstein saying that he is not providing the right information to Congress, that they may take further steps against him. Do they have that right? Is Rod Rosenstein's a cooperation with Congress sufficient? Your view.

BOOKER: Well, first of all, this is rank hypocrisy that we're seeing again amongst Republicans. God, if Kenneth Starr saw this kind of activity from Republicans then maybe there would be some kind of consistent leg to stand upon. Here is a federal investigation really initiated by Republicans in this -- in this presidential administration. And now in every single way possible, House Republicans are trying to undermine this investigation and undermine us getting to the truth. The President has said he's done nothing wrong. Then we should not be trying to attack this investigation. Let it come to a conclusion without interference in such ranked political interference that trying to undermine an ongoing investigation.

MELBER: Senator Cory Booker taking a clear stand a lot of these big issues. And I appreciate you spending some time on THE BEAT tonight.

BOOKER: Thank you so much. I could go on.

MELBER: Thank you, sir.

BOOKER: Thank you.

MELBER: And that's a view from inside the fight, but what does history teach about tactics that the Senate could use to thwart Donald Trump's pick? And it goes all the way back to Lincoln. Historian Michael Beschloss live next.



BOOKER: I'm not conceding anything. We're going to have to fight this every step of the way and I think that this is a time especially for the American people to be speaking up to make sure that their freedoms which are in the balance right now are protected.


MELBER: Cory Booker says it's time to fight and I'm joined by NBC Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss to talk the details of Senator Booker and others didn't want to get into just yet how would this work, what are the lessons from history. And although I'm going, to be honest, you were a little too classy for this. I want to go through our history with a lightning round. So let's go through three examples. The first is the big picture Rachel Maddow, my colleague talked about this last night, the choice facing Democratic Senators.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: No Democratic Senator has a reason to volunteer to be a doormat on the issue of the Supreme Court, right? Democrats as a unified bloc every single one of them, they have no reason to go along with any meetings, any hearings, any votes on the Trump Supreme Court nominee before the election.


MELBER: Big picture, what does history say about that premise?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It says that the rules have changed all the time and maybe no time more so than 1987when Robert Bork was defeated not because he had an ethical lapse with you -- which used to be often the reason these guys would get defeated but because Ted Kennedy and others said that this is someone whose views are so far out of the mainstream, he shouldn't sit on the court. He was defeated. That hadn't happened in as dramatic a way before. Since then we've seen it a lot.

MELBER: Yet Bork was one of the first times we saw an outright public statement that ideology or where someone stood was going to be as you say use instead of just sort of the ethics and the ABA professional start. The other thing that people are asking experts like you is well, what happens if people just don't show up? Now avoiding a quorum is a long history. Abraham Lincoln as a state lawmaker jumped out a second-story window to avoid a vote on a bill. 150 years later Senate Republicans famously walked out of Congress for a spending bill fight and that prompted Democrats to order the Sergeant at Arms to chase them down and arrest them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 45 the nays are three and the motion is agreed to. The clerk will continue to call the names of the absentee Senators and the Sergeant at Arms will execute the order of the Senate.


MELBER: That order with all those empty desks was to arrest GOP Senator Bob Packwood. He was carried back into the chamber feet first.


BOB PACKWOOD, FORMER SENATOR, OREGON: I did not come fully voluntarily the sergeant at arms with all of his stout men surrounded my office.


MELBER: Could that work today?

BESCHLOSS: Well, it could happen. And you know, sometimes you're glad to have c-span and maybe this is one of them although they didn't get him being dragged in. That goes all the way back to 1798 when there was a Senate rule passed saying that if people were staying off the Senate floor to deny a quorum to people who wanted to do something they didn't like, the Sergeant-at-Arms could send Senate police out to actually arrest senators and drag them into the chamber. It didn't happen often but it did there.

MELBER: That's fascinating because it goes to the idea of legitimacy and whether this should continue this way. The other thing that people forget is because we know the Senate is so polarized but it does operate often on what are called unanimous consent agreements right? And sometimes, one Senator can muck up everything and use the Chamber's rules to slow things down. Chris Matthews have been talking about this. It was a Republican Senator Ron Johnson who ground the entire senator -- Senate to a halt when he wouldn't basically participate in those consent agreements on normal business in 2011.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: The Senate runs on something called unanimous consent so unless we receive some assurance from the Democrat leadership that we will actually start addressing our budget out in the open in the bright light of day, I will begin to object.


MELBER: He was saying he'd object to everything. Does that work?

BESCHLOSS: Well, in that case, that's really bygone days in ancient history. We just saw a Republican Senator who cared about the deficit, that was over seventy years ago. I don't think we're going to see that again for a long time. But I think the main thing, Ari, is that the next four months we're going to see things that we have never seen before. You and I, I think we'll be aware of Senate rules that I don't know about you, I'm sure I am not aware of tonight and I will be a few months from now. Anyone who says that they can predict what this struggle is going to be like is kidding themselves. They can't.

MELBER: Well, you're speaking to a type of interpretive humility. Chris Matthews made a lot of waves last night and from what I understand a lot of congressional Democrats were hearing what he was saying because I think what he was saying tapped into how a lot of people in the country feel. And he was saying when the Senate is divided, there are ways. I'm thinking about the Constitutional History. You know, in law school you don't even learn much about the emoluments clause, let alone everyday life and yet it has -- it has surged back life in the Trump era because there's a president who wants to run a business and profits from it while he's president. We've literally never had that before. Are you saying that basically if the Democrats do this right, there is an avenue for them to find something somewhere that can grind down the Senate or do you think that basically if Mitch McConnell makes this his one life's mission before the midterms, the odds are still with him because they're in the majority.

BESCHLOSS: The odds are with him but not prohibitively. I think it is possible that if the Democrats use the rules of the Senate in a shrewd way and some of these rules that were not even aware of if they mobilize forces for instance that are for abortion rights. In all the ways that we've been hearing about in the last 24 hours, you could see something and this is almost poetic in this next appointment of the Supreme Court to succeed Anthony Kennedy something that really resembles the would be justice that Kennedy replaced Robert Bork in 1987 which is the possible defeat of a nominee and defeat by a way that we have not seen before in American history. I don't predict that. That's not my business. I only deal with dead leaders, not living ones but I think it's at least possible that we could see something that we don't expect.

MELBER: Well there is a saying in hip-hop, dead presidents and it refers to cash which has presidents faces on them but it's also your specialty, more the dead than the living because you look backwards.

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely, always.

MELBER: Michael Beschloss, our resident historian, great to have your insights on this. I appreciate it.

BESCHLOSS: Great to see.

MELBER: Up ahead, there are new details that I'm going to update you on just within the last hour on this suspected shooter in police custody in Maryland and how he was trying to hide his own identity, that's next.


MELBER: We also want to report on some new details coming into the newsroom about the lone gunman who killed five at a Maryland newspapers offices today. Multiple law enforcement officials now tell NBC the suspect managed to obscure his own fingerprint so police is using facial recognition technology to try to identify him and as of this hour we're told he's not cooperating so they do not know exactly who he is or where he's from. When we come back I have some more news tonight on the Supreme Court fight and a key question for the nominee.


MELBER: -- lawmakers, were talking about two questions the Supreme Court nominee will likely face. First, abortion rights which comes from GOP Senators Susan Collins who could make or break this vote.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: One of the questions that I always ask is do they respect precedent, what is their view toward precedent. From my perspective, Roe v. Wade is an important precedent and it is settled law.


MELBER: That is significant given the expectations for who Trump would appoint. Meanwhile, a Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal talks about the Mueller probe.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Here we know a subpoena case is very likely involving Donald Trump to go to the United States Supreme Court and I will ask a nominee to commit him or herself that they will recuse themselves from sitting on that decision.


MELBER: There's much more to say about the Supreme Court fight. Tomorrow, I have a special comment on that as well as a very special "FALLBACK FRIDAY." I'll see you back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts right now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What kind of a country do you want to live in? This is HARDBALL.


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