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Trump interviews four possible Supreme Court Nominees. TRANSCRIPT: 7/2/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Jess McIntosh; Donna Edwards

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: July 2, 2018 Guest: Jess McIntosh; Donna Edwards

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: I think there`s a Grammy in the works there for that --.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certainly for the crack team that put that montage together.

MOHYELDIN: Yes, I was going to say, very impressive. Good stuff, guys. Thanks very much for that, Casey.

I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber this evening.

We begin with Donald Trump`s fixer, Michael Cohen, speaking out in his first major interview since the FBI raid on his home and office back in April. And as the feds get access to over a million documents that were seized in that raid, Cohen today appearing to break with Donald Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, he famously said he would take a bullet for President Trump. That`s what appears to be changing right now. He`s very much now his own man.


MOHYELDIN: All right. Cohen didn`t appear on camera and wouldn`t say directly if he`d flip on President Trump, but he did say, my wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty, and always will. I put family and country first.

Country first, seemingly a warning to President Trump. And on issue after issue, Cohen drew a line between his views and the President saying he didn`t agree with demonizing vilifying the FBI. He doesn`t like the term "witch hunt" and even criticizing the Trump campaign for that famous Trump tower meeting, calling it a mistake and simply an example of poor judgment.

Cohen today also traded barbs with Stormy Daniels` lawyer, Michael Avenatti. But in that new interview, when Cohen was asked if Trump with, you know, if Trump told him to make that payment to Stormy Daniels, Cohen would only say this.

I want to answer. One day I will answer. But for now I can`t comment further on advice of my counsel.

With me now, former federal prosecutor, John Flannery, Natasha Bertrand, a staff writer of "the Atlantic" and NBC`s intelligence and national security reporter, Ken Dilanian.

Great to have all of you with us.

John, let me begin with you. Help us decipher this interview with Michael Cohen. The substance of it, what was said and the manner in which it was done.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sure. My view is that it`s less than meets the eye. And people seem to be so excited that he would say anything at all. That they are reading all sorts of things into it. And what I got out of it was he still thinks he is innocent.

And this is a man who is talking about his family. And we know what a worthless person he has been. I mean, he pays off women during the campaign. He makes a loan based on false pretenses, as he funnels the money through his firm. He does pay for play when Trump wins with AT&T and others. And he has a meeting with a Ukrainian to have a plan to save Russia from the sanctions and hands it to Flynn, who is cooperating with the government. And now, we are supposed to believe he cares at all about family.

And when he says country, which he never showed any interest before, it strikes me what he is doing is sending a signal to Trump. He doesn`t have to go on TV to say he is going to cooperate. The lawyer he is talking about parole (ph) is the chief of the criminal division that can pick up the phone. I don`t think he has come to grips with either admitting his own guilt or pointing it to anyone else. Everybody is thinking this but I don`t think it`s there.

MOHYELDIN: So what do you say is the main reason and behind this? Do you think this is merely a publicity stunt that he is trying to kind of defend perhaps his reputation, as he said in that interview or he is, in fact, trying to send a signal to the White House, that hey, I am now somewhat available to cooperate with the government, if I so choose.

FLANNERY: Well, do you believe he is the mob-style guy that we heard about for ages or shouting and everything else, or is this puppy dog fellow that now loves his family and loves his country. He is going to do all of this. I think it is grooming thing. But I thought it was only talking to one person. And that guy occupies the west wing and apparently has nothing else to do but watch the people that testify against him.

MOHYELDIN: Ken, let me get your thoughts on something. What do you make of Cohen`s timing in this interview when you piece together the timeline of events, you had, you know, the feds getting access to a lot of new documents. And you know, perhaps, in addition to all the developments that are happening behind the scene, with the Mueller probe.

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: When I spoke to a friend of Michael Cohen in the last hour, and he said that, look, Cohen has been under incredible pressure for some time now. And it`s starting to get to his family. I mean, this whole ordeal is starting to cost him a lot of money and now he is starting to worry and he is actually at risk of going to prison.

So look. There are two it sound that schools of thought about why he did this. One of which is that he is appealing essentially for a pardon to Donald Trump saying look, pardon me now or I`m going to flip and tell dark secrets about you.

But you know, there`s an argument against that. He is hired this attorney with close ties to the southern district who can negotiate a deal. And you know, he clearly feels abandoned by Donald Trump and seems ready to make a deal. I mean, he made some comments in this interview, you know, that are not consistent with the way Trump sees the world or critical of Trump. And look. I mean, the bottom line, is the feds have 1.3 million documents now in their possession they got from Michael Cohen, some of which clearly pertain to conduct by Donald Trump.

MOHYELDIN: And Natasha, let me get your analysis on the timing and the substance of this. Are we reading too much into it or is there something there there and the decision that Michael Cohen has given this interview and in the image that he is trying to put out saying that his family and country come first, not this loyalty to the President which was what he was always known for when his was kind of starting -- when his name was starting to be bounced around in the Mueller investigation?

NATASHA BERTRAND, REPORTER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think one of the most interesting things about the fact that George Stephanopoulos got this first sit-down interview with Cohen since his office and his home was raided by the FBI is that George Stephanopoulos, of course, was the one who first reported last month that Cohen was thinking about flipping, that he was likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors. So we saw that and then a couple weeks later we see this sit-down interview. It is just very curious that George Stephanopoulos would be the one to get this.

I think that one that has been kind of overlook, and probably the biggest revelation in this article, is that as soon as Cohen`s new lawyer comes on full time, ABC reported that his joint defense agreement with the President is going to end. And of course, that is exactly what happened with Michael Flynn before he decided to cooperate with investigators. So that could be a big sign that Cohen is thinking of perhaps cooperating here if the agency reporting is correct, just in terms of the fact that it will be a very adversarial relationship between Cohen and the President if they do end that joint defense agreement.

But I also think, you know, everything that Ken said is fair, you know. There is a lot of pressure being put on Cohen right now. And he likely was sending some kind of signal to the President, as kind of a last ditch effort to tell him, look, I`m not on your side 100 percent. I don`t think that this is a witch hunt or at least the image that he is trying to portray to the public and tell the FBI. So he clearly doesn`t align with the President on everything. And he has felt like he has been left out in the cold by the President and his allies.

MOHYELDIN: All right. So someone who definitely disagrees with the fact that Michael Cohen is not speaking to the President, is Michael Avenatti. Take a listen to Michael Avenatti talk about Michael Cohen in this interview and what he says is direct an appeal for President Trump to listen to him. Watch.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` LAWYER: This is Michael Cohen trying to send a message to the President that he wants the President to pay his legal bills or he is going to flip. You know, he is paying games with the American people. If he has information that is damaging to this President, and I know for a fact that he does, then he should come forward and state it and disclose it now.


FLANNERY: So John, do you think that Cohen, in that instance, in that, in according to Michael Avenatti in this interview, was speaking to the President or trying to signal as well to the prosecutors that he is willing to play ball here?

FLANNERY: I don`t think this would work with the southern district where I served. And I don`t think his lawyer would need to do that. And I think Avenatti --.

MOHYELDIN: Why not? Let me ask you real quick.

FLANNERY: Well, because we don`t want people posturing for us and trying to press us to say, you know, I`m a good person and you should allow me to cooperate, when there is no evidence he has anything to say. Wanting to cooperate means actually falling on your own sword and saying you did something.

And you know, Comey pointed out something very interesting about this President. And that is that they are trying mob feeling. No, they don`t go out break legs but they kind of run this loyalty thing that way. And I wonder if he wasn`t saying when he said country, I`m going to be faithful to you, the country, something that I never cared about my whole life. And it was a symbol to Trump.

And instead of saying, help me or I`m going to cooperate, he may have been saying, I`m going to do what every other mobster does, I`m going to go through this whole thing. And if I do at the end of it, I hope you will take care of my family and if you can pardon me, do so.

And that`s my suspicion about this. I can`t believe this guy`s character has changed and everybody is so jubilant that it appears to the case. I think that makes no sense to me.

MOHYELDIN: Yes. I was going to say, really quickly, as you can imagine a lot of people want to know if their President watched this. That was certainly something that came up today. Watched the reaction from the White House.

FLANNERY: Well, you know --.

MOHYELDIN: Hold on one second, John. I wanted to play the reaction from the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the President watch the interview this morning? And potentially, how does he feel about the idea that his former attorney said that he would put his wife, his son, his family, and his country first but not the President.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Once again, I`m not going to weigh into this issue and I would refer to President`s outside counsel.


MOHYELDIN: A non-answer answer there.

John, I`m going to let you have a quick take out of it. What do you think of that response?

FLANNERY: He never said, not the President. He never said that. That`s what everybody has concluded he meant. He did not say not the President. And I think this could be their communications. And they use twitter to broadcast the fact that when the statement was going to be made.

And I don`t know what he hopes to get out of it, but I don`t think he hopes to get anything out of the prosecution from it and maybe he hopes we will feel more tender toward him. But I think it was a message only to one person, to Trump, and it could be Avenatti`s view, my view or any of the other views we expressed. But I think you have to assume this guy`s bad character going forward and not assume anything good about it.

MOHYELDIN: So Ken, let me get your take on one thing that came out of this interview. I know you have reported on extensively. Why would Michael Cohen even address something like the Trump tower meeting? He kind of spoke about it vaguely in this interview saying that it was a mistake, lack of poor judgment or poor judgment, I should say. But why would he even go into those waters?

DILANIAN: I think to set himself apart from the values what was portrayed at that meeting. The same way Steve Bannon did. Steve Bannon recalled called that meeting borderline treasonous. And I think Cohen -- look. Part of this was PR push.

You know, I really jammed that he didn`t need to do this to talk to the prosecutors. He has a lawyer that can do that. But we shouldn`t underestimate Michael Cohen`s desire to go -- to serve, you know, be in the middle of the spectacle and to get his message out. And this is part of the message that he wanted to convey. That he is a reasonable person. That all this stuff that you have been seeing that -- this meetings where the Russians offer dirt on Hillary Clinton. He is not on board with that. It is an open question, I think, whether this was a message or request for the President to pardon him. But I think in the midst of that, he wanted to send certain messages to the public and that is one of them.

MOHYELDIN: Yes. And certainly, there is no doubt that as well when you think of some of the audio recordings that have come out of him threatening a journalist, for example, his image over the course of the last several weeks has been tarnished in addition to what we have heard over the past several months.

Natasha, Michel Cohen also said this, which I thought was pretty interesting. He said I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone`s defense strategy. I`m not a villain of this story and will not allow others to try to depict me that way.

What do you make of that sentence and his ability or his desire to try to shape the discourse around his image and perhaps send a message to those who want to use him as the culprit of any wrongdoings?

BERTRAND: It seems like publicly, at least, he is doing everything that he can to try to distance himself from the President, whether or not that`s meant to send a message to the President himself, like hey, I`m willing to turn on you. I`m willing to flip on you if you don`t pardon me or it is just because he is a PR operation and image trying to revamp his image like he told George Stephanopoulos that he was. That remains to be seen.

But of course, I think it is important that we also remember, when he resigned as the finance chair of the RNC, he cited the President`s immigration policies when he did so. He said that didn`t agree with them. And of course, now, he is also refusing to say that he was the one who went ahead paid Stormy Daniels, the porn star, on behalf of Trump just on -- of his own volition. Whereas in the past, he was, you know, very, very much vocal about that. He said I was the one who did it whereas now, he says on the advice of counsel, I don`t want to talk about it. So that is a shift.

And then, of course, the Trump tower meeting criticism is also a shift. So this has been a steady pattern for Michael Cohen over the last month-and-a- half or so to distance himself from Trump.

MOHYELDIN: Ken, I know that Cohen`s lawyers are actually trying to get Michael Avenatti from speaking in public. In a new brief, they actually write like a small town carnival, a magician who attempts to confuse the audience with smoke and meers (ph). Avenatti attempts to somehow justify his conduct by pulling the first amendment out of his tiny bag of tricks while at the same time pointing his finger at others. Can they actually silence Avenatti here?

DILANIAN: It is not clear -- I mean, they can get the judge to impose a gag order in the case but Avenatti is not really talking of the facts of the case. He is merely sort of insulting Cohen and saying things that Cohen doesn`t like in a very inflammatory and telegenic way. And we have a first amendment in this country. And I`m not sure they can prevent him from doing that.

MOHYELDIN: Yes. It seems like he has gotten under the skin of Michael Cohen in the past but certainly it is not at times. The President as well.

John Flannery, Natasha Bertrand and Ken Dilanian, great to have all three of your perspectives with us. Thank you guys.

Coming up, Trump is revealing new statement on whether he will confront Vladimir Putin about the 2016 election hack.

Also, the Supreme Court fight. Why the White House seems so afraid to talk about what might happen to Roe versus Wade.

And the Trump administration now trying to hide the facts about how many migrant kids are separated from their parents.

All that plus much more on the news that Michael Cohen may already be parting ways with President Trump.

I`m Ayman Moheyldin, in here for Ari Melber. And you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I interviewed and met with four potential justices of our great Supreme Court. I will be meeting with two or three more.


MOHYELDIN: All right. So, that was Donald Trump saying that he talked with potential Supreme Court nominees today.

As this fight gets under way fast, Trump saying he will announce the pick a week from today. But already threats of a revolve from a key Republican senators, Susan Collins, a moderate, who says she supports Roe versus Wade, drawing a line in the sand on that single issue.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: If candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don`t want to see a judge have.


MOHYELDIN: All right. So Democrats trying to enlist Collins as a potential defector who can help them block Trump`s pick. Now Trump saying this about an abortion litmus test.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to ask your nominees beforehand how they might vote on Roe versus Wade?

TRUMP: Well, that`s a big one and probably not. They are all saying, don`t do that. You don`t do that. You shouldn`t do that. But I`m putting conservative people on.


MOHYELDIN: All right. So that`s what Trump is saying now. But during the campaign, Trump was explicit about what he would want from Supreme Court justices. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade?

TRUMP: Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what is going to -- that will happen and that will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.


MOHYELDIN: All right. Joining me now, former congresswoman Donna Edwards, Democrat form Maryland and former Hillary Clinton campaign advisor, Jess McIntosh.

Great to have you guys with us.

Congresswoman, if I may begin with you. Do you have any doubt where Trump`s nominees will stand on the issue of Roe versus Wade when you hear what he was saying as a candidate and what he said in that interview and knowing that some of his nominees are being vetted by organizations like the federal society?

DONNA EDWARDS (D), FORMER MARYLAND CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, we know that most of his nominees are being vetted by the federalist society. They already know the answer to that question. And that`s the reason that President Trump doesn`t have to answer the question.

And so, let`s be really clear here. And I want to make sure that Susan Collins, of course, needs to know that that line in the sand has to be clear, which is why I believe that there has to be an inside and outside strategy so that we can make sure to shore up Susan Collins and maybe a potential other, maybe senator Murkowski on this question.

But no doubt about it. Those nominees have already been vetted for where they are in Roe v. Wade. And no doubt about it, they will overturn Roe v. Wade. And we can`t accept that.

MOHYELDIN: And congresswoman, what would be the outside or inside strategy that you refer to that need to happen to shore up somebody like Susan Collins?

EDWARDS: Well, I think there are several things. One, I think the women of Maine need to speak up and the people of Maine speak up to Susan Collins. I mean, she values very deeply what the people of her state care about as well as around the country. And I think one of the ways to do that is to do what was done frankly with the affordable care act.

We didn`t just sit around and wait for Senate procedure. We took to the streets. We made our voices heard. We visited offices. All of that outside strategy needs to take place right now.

And on the inside, monkey up the works. I mean, Democrats need to be I think a little more aggressive here. I mean, I have heard them say things like, you know, we will figure out what the procedure is. We don`t have a lot of tools. I don`t buy that at all. There are tools that are available to Democrats. They can jam up the works in the Senate. And they really, frankly, should do this until they have clarity on a consensus nominee that is not going to overturn more than 40 years of precedent.

MOHYELDIN: Jess, I see your head -- I see you shaking your head in agreement there. So I assume you are agreeing with what the congresswoman --?

JESS MCINTOSH, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SHAREBLUE: And in fact, I would feel a lot better about the likelihood of that happening if former congresswoman Donna Edwards was sitting in the Senate right now. I wish she was there to be a part of that play.

I think Democrats need to hold very, very strong and so do the Republicans who have shown movement on this issue. And for three reasons. One, they held up Merrick Garland. We have the McConnell rule that says now you cannot confirm a Supreme Court justice this close to an election. The people deserve to be heard. They made the rule. They should get to own it. We should wait until November.

The second one is we have a President who is currently under investigation for possibly colluding with a foreign adversary to take the White House. That means he shouldn`t get to pack the court for a generation. Somebody who is there by untoward means shouldn`t be in-charge of a generation of this important policy.

And third, if we overturn Roe v. Wade, American women will die. That`s not hyperbolic. We know what happens. We know what happens when abortion stops being legal. Women will continue to seek them and they will no longer be able them safely.

MOHYELDIN: Let me play devil`s advocate for a second. And if we say that, you know, large crowds of women go out into a state like Maine, put pressure on Susan Collins to stick to her guns so to speak. What happens if large crowd show up in West Virginia against a Democrat like Joe Mansion and put pressure on him?

MCINTOSH: You are just not going to see that. Roe v. Wade, abortion is one of the least controversial issues in the country. You wouldn`t know it from the media and you wouldn`t know it from Republicans. But seven in ten Americans want Roe v. Wade to stay exactly where it is. You don`t get those kinds of numbers with just the Democrats being in favor of it.

So the idea that somehow Republicans are going to mobilize millions of people to say, yes, we are done with a right to an abortion, we don`t want it anymore it just not going to be borne out.

MOHYELDIN: Congresswoman, let me play you the sound bite from Senator Maria Cantwell, her -- she has some very strong words warning Democrats. Take a listen.


SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: I think that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle know that this vote could be one of the key votes of their entire career. And they know that this vote could be a one of the key votes of their entire career. And they know that no matter what spin comes out of the White House, if they vote for somebody who is going to change precedent, it could be a career ending move.


MOHYELDIN: Do you agree with that, congresswoman, that this could be a career ending move for anyone who goes with a pick that changes precedent?

EDWARDS: I absolutely agree with that, and especially for Democrats. Because keep in mind that even in red states with blue senators, those states depend on voters like me to go out and vote for them and that will simply not happen.

This is a mobilizing moment. The President has already said that he wants to appoint somebody who could be on the court for 40 years, not even just a generation, a couple generations. And so, this is a career defining vote. And I think we need to make it clear from the outside that that is what we believe as well.

MOHYELDIN: Let me play you this sound bite from Susan Collins because she is obviously come out and said that she doesn`t want an activist judge who overturns president. Take a listen to this of what she said about Neil Gorsuch.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Don`t you think he will probably overturn Roe versus Wade if given the chance?

COLLINS: I actually don`t. I had a very long discussion with Justice Gorsuch in my office. And he pointed out to me he is the co-author of a whole book on precedent.


MOHYELDIN: But interestingly enough, that very same justice, Justice Gorsuch, he was part of the decision that broke with precedent on a vote on unions that was in place for almost 40 years.


MOHYELDIN: So how is there a fail-safe mechanism those like Susan Collins and others can vet or pre-determine that a judge is not going to say one thing behind closed doors and then go something else?

MCINTOSH: No, of course not. And her optimism about Neil Gorsuch is entire unfounded. He was vetted by the federalist society. The federalist society is a hard line conservative group that will not approve any nominee who isn`t committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. So I`m sorry that he was able to opiate in her chambers when they have their one on one meeting. But based on his decision from this court, he is clearly capable of being an activist judge. And I have no hope that we don`t overturn Roe if Trump is allowed to add one more.

MOHYELDIN: And it is so many legal questions and certainly a lot of politics involve in all of this as well.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Jess McIntosh, great to have both of you with us. Thank you.

Ahead on THE BEAT, new demands today for Trump to update the country on the kids separated from their parents. Why is the administration staying silent?

Also, why is Michael Cohen speaking out now? A criminal defense attorney who represented Tom DeLay joins me.

But first ahead of Trump`s meeting with Putin, he is asked about bringing up election meddling and responded with more comments about Hillary Clinton`s emails, believe it or not? Why? That when we are back in 60 seconds.


MOHYELDIN: All right. Donald Trump`s velvet glove treatment of Vladimir Putin has been a mystery from the very start. And it seems that the mystery is now deepening at least for some of us.

First, Trump dodging a direct question about whether he will discuss election meddling in his upcoming meeting with Putin. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going mention the meddling when you meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin --?

TRUMP: I would like to see some answers as to why we didn`t take the server, why the FBI didn`t take the server from the DNC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the DNC wanted to get --.

TRUMP: Can you believe it? No. Why didn`t the FBI take it? Look what they did to other people? Why didn`t they take it? How can the DNC say, get out of here. They threw him out of the office? There is no collusion. No nothing. How about the emails deleting 30,000 emails. We don`t have to talk about the uranium, and all the different that they delete 33,000 emails.


MOHYELDIN: Interesting, there Trump ignoring the question about meddling instead offering a bit of a word salad of attacks on Hillary Clinton and the FBI, why they didn`t take the server. Not sure he should be asking Putin that.

Well, Trump`s national security advisor, John Bolton implying that he takes Putin`s word that the Kremlin itself didn`t interfere. Watch.


JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What President Putin said, through a translator, of course, he said there was no 2016 meddling by the Russian state but that is very different from saying, in my view, that there was no Russian meddling at all.


MOHYELDIN: All right. So the other piece in all of this, Trump opening the door to accepting Russia`s annexation of Crimea saying he will see. It would be a break from current American policy, obviously. And it is tying Trump`s own advisors in knots.


BOLTON: President Putin was pretty clear was may doubt it. And my response was we are going to have to agree to disagree on Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that`s not up for negotiation?

BOLTON: That`s not the position of the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. But same will see suggests might be?

BOLTON: Well, we will see. The President makes the policy. I don`t make the policy.


MOHYELDIN: All right. I guess we are going to have to wait. We will see.

With me now is former intelligence officer Malcolm Nance, author of the new book, "the Plot to Destroy Democracy."

Malcolm, great to have you with us. First, Trump as you saw they`re dodging the question about whether he`ll talk election meddling with Putin. Why do you think the President would not bring that up despite the Intelligence Community`s assessment that not only did it happened, it is happening again ahead of the midterms?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, this is the $10,000 question. I mean, this question has been asked since the very beginning. What is Donald Trump so concerned about? Does he really think that using the law enforcement assets of the United States in agreeing with the Intelligence Community of United States would delegitimize his presidency or is there something that he`s hiding which he doesn`t want us law enforcement and intelligence to not only investigate, he doesn`t want them to share and he doesn`t want it in public? And so, what`s really interesting is he goes on -- it`s not even a tangent. He steps into a perception bubble of his own creation which surprisingly sounds very much like Vladimir Putin`s perception bubble of the world.

MOHYELDIN: It seems as an observer that it`s almost become a defensive reflex that if you say election meddling and Putin, he says FBI e-mail servers, DNC. It`s like almost a pre-programmed condition that the President has to say that. In his interview on Sunday, we know that the President implied that if Russia did meddle in our election, he said something on, he said they must be proud. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, Russia is in fact looking to sow discord or chaos, they got to be saying that`s the greatest thing we`ve ever done, OK? Now there`s no collusion with me, there`s no Russia with me, there`s no nothing. It`s -- honestly it`s a disgrace.


MOHYELDIN: So how does discrediting Russian meddling here help President Trump?

NANCE: Well, it helps him greatly because what he`s doing again is he speaking -- you know, he`s only speaking to 40 percent of this population. He only ruled -- I mean he only does -- he only does policy for 40 percent of the population. But there is that nefarious suspicion that we have here. Why? As you said, what does he reflexively go to this? Why does he reflexively go to himself and not to the defense of the United States? He speaks the party line that comes from the Kremlin. And as you -- I`m sure you`re going to talk about Crimea here in a minute when you mentioned John Bolton. He again has been crafted by his experiences with the Russian and that started with an enormous amount of money into his buildings and properties, then when he went to Miss Universe in 2013 he was sat down by the 12 richest men of Russia and they gave him his worldview. He has never strayed from that worldview and it is not the worldview or the policy of any President of the United States until he`s come on the scene.

MOHYELDIN: As some of our viewers may not know the nuance of why Crimea and this position that Bolton took as well as the President will see about Russia`s annexation of it is so significant. Explain to us why the fact that you have the National Security Adviser and the President saying that they are not definitively against Russia annexing another territory from another country by force is so problematic.

NANCE: Well, it`s absolutely mind-boggling. I mean, since the end of World War II, a war that we fought, we lost almost half a million men. The world lost 60 million people in that war and we set about creating all of these alliances systems and treaties which allowed us to work on the basis of the belief that invading another country`s territory and seizing their land by crossing their borders and redefining those borders was against international law. Every president has upheld this. Donald Trump seems to be saying to Russia again from that perception that was given to him by the Russians where he said well, you know, most of the people in Crimea speak Russian and essentially dot-dot-dot that`s why we invaded and too bad for the world order. Donald Trump is giving them permission and by him through this conference, I hope at this summit he doesn`t just say go ahead and keep Crimea because that will set off the world. I mean, China could invade Taiwan within a week and use the exact same argument.

MOHYELDIN: Our allies would certainly be very nervous as well to see the President shift his position on that Malcolm Nance -- yes, definitely more than nervous, absolutely. Malcolm Nance, it`s great to have you with us as always. Thank you. Ahead, the man who once said that he`ll take a bullet for Donald Trump hinting today that he might flip. I`m going to talk to a former criminal defense attorney Tom DeLay about Michael Cohen`s legal strategy. And later massive rallies over immigration and new demands from Democrats, a lawyer working to reunite families will be here live to talk about that.


MOHYELDIN: Why is Michael Cohen breaking his silence now? What is he signaling with this new interview? ABC reporting Trump`s legal agreement with Cohen to share information and documents will come to an end. A move that could indicate a growing divide between Trump and the man who last year said he would quote take a bullet for the President. This happening as Cohen says that he will look to his new lawyer to lead his defense strategy telling ABC "once I understand what charges might be filed against me if any at all I will defer to my new counsel Guy Petrillo for guidance. Is Cohen a threat to Trump? Well, ABC asked him how he felt about potentially becoming a target if he flips.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said you know, there`s a good chance that President Trump and his team are going to come after you. They`re going to come after you hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have said he wouldn`t. The President have said, I do not think he would flip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is where he also stiffened his financing visibly straightened up in his seat.


MOHYELDIN: Cohen responding with this quote. I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone`s defense strategy. And Cohen hints he may be cooperating with prosecutors so why is he speaking out now and what is his defense strategy? Brian Wice is a Criminal Defense Attorney who represented former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in his conspiracy and money-laundering case, and John Harwood is CNBC`s Editor-at-Large. Brian, let me begin with you. Great to have both of you with us. Help us decipher this as I was asking some of our earlier guest. What`s Michael Cohen`s legal strategy here in agreeing to do this interview and saying what he said?

BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, Ayman, I think the conventional wisdom is that he`s angling for a pardon and that may be true. My take is a little bit different. I think he`s auditioning on another level for the people in the Southern District of New York, the Special Counsel`s office and the FBI. Look, if you`re Michael Cohen, what is your lot in life bent over the course of the last year to 18 months? My goodness, your practice has imploded, your office, home, and hotel room were raided, you`re getting crushed by Michael Avenatti on every cable network including QVC and there`s very little that you can do having been deserted by your one former client POTUS. So I think he`s trying to pound the dents out of his public persona by crafting a revised image Michael Cohen 2.0 if you will, by praising the FBI, by saying that this investigation through the Special Counsel and the SD NY is not a witch- hunt and basically saying to the people who he is going to need on his side in the knockout round, I`m a good guy, I`m going to do the right thing for the right reason at the right time. I am not the thug, fixer, F-bomb dropping Ray Donovan guy that everybody thinks I really am.

MOHYELDIN: So to that point, I know that Cohen has been hinting that he may -- he may be cooperating with prosecutors. In fact, here`s what he said. "I respect the prosecutors, I respect the process. I would not do or say anything that might be perceived as interfering with their professional review of the evidence and the facts." John, could this mean that he is taking steps towards possibly flipping on Trump and cutting a deal here?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. But I agree with my colleague. I think he is -- to put it in sports lexicon -- exploring free agency right now, trying to figure out what might benefits might be available to him if he were to flip but also preserving his options because he hasn`t -- he isn`t now cooperating. He is signaling to the President that he`s on the verge of doing that if the President wants to do something to take care of them. And of course, they`ve split not only on potential liability but also on who`s going to cover his legal fees. But he hasn`t committed. And one of the difficult things I think for him to figure out is let`s say President Trump could pardon him, the question is that going to protect him from state charges? We`ll know if there are going to be state charges if you`ve got the Southern District of New York cooperating with the state of New York then President Trump can`t protect him. But there`s a reason why the President hasn`t fired Mueller or a pardon Paul Manafort or pardoned Michael Cohen already and that`s because they`re constraints on him. There`s a consequence if he does that. And so Michael Cohen has to figure out what is President Trump going to do for me?

MOHYELDIN: And so to that effect, if he`s auditioning or if he is trying not to use both of the examples that you guys provide between the free agency on the auditioning, is the court of public opinion here significant, Brian, because I know that Cohen himself has defended saying that he is not a villain of this story and he went on to say you know, that he definitely -- he will not allow others to try to depict him in that way, so is he also playing to a public audience given the fact as you mentioned his business had -- has pretty much collapsed, his practice has collapsed?

WICE: Absolutely. I mean, look, I want to quote noted legal sage and adman Don Draper who said if you don`t like what people are saying change the conversation. That`s exactly what Michael Cohen did with George Stephanopoulos. He`s in a position where he is going to seek a deal at some point. I know what people are saying. My goodness, he hasn`t even been charged yet. Well, you don`t like -- you put a State Trooper on some guy for 500 miles somebody`s going to get a ticket. It`s going to be sooner rather than later and he wants to be able to convince the people in the SDNY, the Special Counsel`s office, and the FBI that he is the kind of guy who you want in John`s words is a free agent on your ball club. And it`s a genius move on his part to hire Guy Petrillo, a distinguished (INAUDIBLE) of the Southern District of New York. Somebody who continuing with the sports analogy can get him the best possible deal that a free agent in his position can get.

MOHYELDIN: I have a feeling the free agency of LeBron James is probably influenced both of you guys tonight. Brian Wice and John Harwood, great to have both of you guys with us. Thank you very much.

HARWOOD: You bet.

MOHYELDIN: Next, the Trump administration is sparking a new immigration fight today saying it will stop revealing how many migrant children are in custody. I`m going to talk to an immigration lawyer trying to reunite families.


MOHYELDIN: New tonight. The Trump Administration now says that it will not release numbers of how many migrant children are in custody after being separated from their parents. While in effect, the facts about this crisis are now essentially a state secret. As of last Tuesday, there were 2,047 kids in custody but again we have no idea what it is tonight. Democratic senators are demanding an update on this. They`re demanding an update on this by Friday and a judge has ordered all kids to be reunited with their parents by July 26th. Now this video, you see there, shows what these reunions are like, a mother seeing her seven-year-old daughter after nearly two months apart. MSNBC`s Mariana Atencio spoke with the family just after that moment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Every time that I was in contact with her, she cried. saying that she missed me. She didn`t want to be there. She just wanted to see her little brother, her dad, and me. That was the most painful thing.


MOHYELDIN: So this weekend, hundreds of thousands of people attended more than 700 rallies to protest Trump`s zero-tolerance policy.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (R), CALIFORNIA: You are putting them in cages. You put them in jails and you think we`re going to stand back and allow you to do that? I don`t think so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even some 17 years later I still remember how it felt when I first cried out for my parents and they couldn`t answer.

KERRY WASHINGTON, ACTRESS: We matter, every single one of us. I will stand for what`s happening at our border. It is a gross violation of human rights.


MOHYELDIN: All right, joining me now MSNBC`s Mariana Atencio who`s been reporting on these family separations and Immigration Attorney M. Lucero Ortiz. Greats to have both of you with us. Lucero, if I may begin with you. Why doesn`t the Trump administration you think want the public to know how many migrant kids are in custody this evening?

M. LUCERO ORTIZ, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Yes, one of the things that we`ve seen there is no central coordination between all of the different agencies that are involved in the separation of families and that must be at the table if these families are going to be reunited in a timely fashion. For instance, as you all know DHS agencies, CBP and ICE are involved in the detention and the prosecution of the families. Then DHS transfers some custody of the children over to HHS and office of ORR. Apologies for all the acronyms but this is the reality of the agencies that we`re working with. It is an alphabet soup of organizations and agencies that are involved and there is no central coordination.

What are the things that we`ve been calling for is transparency and accountability because we know that many of the families that came in were not registered as family units and that concern says a lot because we know that some of those children that have been separated from their parents are already in foster care, foster care that is governed by state law and we anticipate that many of these parents will have to fight for their custodial rights to regain their children. And so from the beginning of the implementation of this policy, it has been an ad hoc process with no coordination, no planning and ultimately no will to really make sure that these families have contact or reunify in a timely fashion.

MOHYELDIN: It`s interesting because you were just -- as you were listing all those acronyms, I can imagine how difficult it is. I mean, you`re a lawyer. Obviously, you have expertise in all these organizations. As a journalist, we followed this story but I can imagine how difficult it is for the families just to get a list of all the various departments and agencies that they have to follow up with. I know, Mariana, you`ve been trying to do precisely that with so many of these families. How difficult is it for them to get information about their kids and where they are?

MARIANA ATENCIO, MSNBC REPORTER: Ayman, it is overwhelming. That family that got reunified, their first language isn`t even Spanish. This little girl barely spoke Spanish because it was hard for me to communicate with her. Their first language is an indigenous language out of Guatemala. These are people who have no belongings, their paperwork has been taken from them, they`re in a strange country and they`re seeking refuge. They are fleeing violence so it`s very hard for them to navigate the legal system and to get their kids back. Even though we witnessed that moment at the airport which was so heart-warming, it was also devastating when you looked at that little girl`s face. I don`t think that the video even does it justice because she was clearly traumatized after that two months separation.

And I`ve been speaking as you said to so many other families who are still waiting to get their kids back. I mean we still go back to these chants that we heard over the weekend, where are the babies, where are the girls? These were unifications according to organizers and lawyers like Lucero are few and far between. Just to give you one more specific example, I`ve been talking to a mother Maria, she came here with that migrant caravan that you remember I was embedded with so she sought asylum at a legal port of entry. She`s making her way from San Diego to Washington D.C. on a bus. Her kids ages seven and two are in a facility in New York. She`s being told she needs DNA testing to get them back and she`s being told that they might end up in the hands of the government.

MOHYELDIN: So picking up on that point and the challenges that Mariana just described there, Lucero. I know that you`re in the trenches working on this day in and day out. Do you think the Trump Administration will have an issue reuniting these families before the court imposed July 26 deadline? Is that realistic?

ORTIZ: Unfortunately we do not see that it is realistic for all of these families to be reunited. Again, these individuals came to the United States exercising their international rights to seek asylum. They have certain due process rights and many of those rights have not been respected. Ultimately what we`re also seeing is that even those of us that are able to represent individuals in short-term representation or long-term representation have a very difficult time communicating with our clients. The phone services in these detention centers and other types of resources that we need to make very legitimate claims and compelling cases is isn`t unavailable to us. Therefore a very basic communication is not available to legal counsel. We really don`t see that families will be reunified in a timely fashion and again it concerns us drastically.

MOHYELDIN: It is absolutely heartbreaking when you just hear all the conditions that the families have to deal with and how cumbersome of a process this has become. Mariana Atencio and M. Lucero Ortiz, thank you both very much with your perspectives. I`ll be right back.


MOHYELDIN: All right, so Trump has driven a wedge through some families at the dinner table and now it`s going to a whole new level, to the voters. A father and son who disagree about Trump are running for the same state House seat in Rhode Island believe it or not. You see there David Quiroa Sr. and his son David Quiroa Jr. filing last week to run for that seat. The father as a Republican, the son as an Independent. They`re going to join me tomorrow right here on THE BEAT to debate the issue and answer the big question everybody wants to know, how will mom vote? We`ll tell you tomorrow. That does it for me. You can catch me on social media and tomorrow at 5 a.m. on "MORNING JOE`S FIRST LOOK." "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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