Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: July 3, 2018 Guest: Mimi Rocah, Tim O'Brien, David Quiroa Jr, David Quiroa Sr
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's all for tonight. I'll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY. THE BEAT starts right now.
Good evening, Ayman.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: Hey. Good evening, Chris. You got me thinking about hot dogs, to be honest with you. It's a tough hour to get through without thinking about the hot dog. Thank you very much, Chris.
I'm Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber.
Big show tonight, I'm going to talk live to the mother who confronted Trump's EPA head in this viral video, taking on the cabinet initial who many say has come to symbolize the D.C. swamp.
Plus, Inside Michael Cohen's strategy, new reporting about why he believes people close to Donald Trump are preparing to attack him.
And a father and son who disagree about Trump now running against each other for political office. This is an epic family feud you don't want to miss. This both of them are going to be right here on THE BEAT.
But we start with breaking news this evening, the Trump administration with a provocative new message to migrant parents, leave this country with or without your children, just as long as you leave. There is nothing in between, no choice.
A brand new form, obtained exclusively by NBC news reveals two boxes, written in only English, for migrant parents to sign. These asylum seekers are given just two choices. The first, reunite with your children and go back to the home country you are fleeing despite stated fears of gang violence, murder, threats, kidnapping, even rape. The second choice, leave your kids here while you go back to the dangers of your home country alone without your children.
It is an impossible choice. Critics saying the children are being held has hostages in this political fight. We're already seeing desperate parents deported without their children, trying everything to get them back. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Joining me now is Texas congressman Joaquin Castro. He has inside three of the detention centers housing migrant children. And he has introduced a bill to allow Congress immediate access to more of these facilities. Also with me Victoria DeFrancesco Soto from the LBJ school of public affairs at the University of Texas. And Jennifer Falcon, from (INAUDIBLE), Texas, an immigration legal services group trying to help families that are separated at the border.
Great to have all of you with us.
Congressman, let me begin with you, sir. First of all, this breaking news tonight, this exclusive that NBC has obtained, about the options being presented to parents, not really options, they only have one choice to leave the country either with or without their kids. First, your reaction to this this evening?
REP .JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Well, I agree with the folks that say these kids are basically being held hostage. This is basically a ransom to get folks who are in the process of claiming asylum to give up any kind of due process or consideration and get their kids back and go home. And it's consistent with the brutal way that the Trump administration has handled asylum seekers and immigrants since he took office.
MOHYELDIN: Congressman, from your brief experiences at those facilities you've visited, have you heard any of these accounts as well? Have you met with family members or spoken to those advocating on their behalf telling you they have only been given this option?
CASTRO: You know, I had not heard that in particular. We have heard the stories of families that were separated and the pain that that's caused. I was in a facility in Casa Presidente in Brownsville where I held an 8- month-old boy named Roger that was separated from his family. And a 1- year-old girl named Leah who was also separated.
Fortunately, the President signed an executive order to end that. But it's still unclear whether the practice has really ended. And also whether these families have actually been reunited.
MOHYELDIN: That's absolutely heartbreaking. I just want to make sure you said an 8-month-old?
CASTRO: An 8-month-old little boy.
MOHYELDIN: Unbelievable. That's incredible.
Victoria, let me get your thoughts on this. You know, we are talking about the options being presented to these parents. And it's not really an option because the only choice they have is to leave the country with or without their kids.
What position is this putting parents in, not only in terms of their family unification, but the dangers they would be facing if, in fact, they do get home with or without their kids?
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. Because we have to remember that the vast majority of these folks that are being detained are coming to seek asylum. And at every turn we have been seeing the Trump administration try to sabotage these asylum claims. So we see it in terms of border patrol, getting folks and not allowing them to claim asylum. We see it at ports of entry, actually being blocked so folks cannot turn themselves in. Then we see them once in detention that they're given these choices. And finally, if they do happen to get a credible fear interview and pass that, they are not allowed to leave.
In the past, if you passed your credible fear interview you would be allowed to go out on parole. But we are seeing it every single step, asylum seekers fleeing the gang violence of these countries being blocked and torn apart from their children.
MOHYELDIN: Jennifer, I want you to listen to this desperate father planning to cross the border to get to his daughters. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His plan is to go in August. But with little money and no connections, it's unclear if he'll make it to his daughters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: It's absolutely heartbreaking to watch that. I'm curious to get your thoughts in terms after what you've been hearing from some of the families that you have been in touch with. Are they also presented not only with the difficult realities we saw in that clip there, but also from what we are learning this evening about many of them having this choice of leave with or without your children?
JENNIFER FALCON, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RAICES: As a mother, to listen to that clip is heartbreaking. I think that we have seen this on the ground. We have one case that we are representing where he was told that he would get his daughter back once he signed deportation papers. He was deported back to El Salvador by himself without his daughter. So it's a common manipulation technique being used by ICE which is a government agency that has no legal authority and is basically breaking the law, international and domestic law, by denying asylum seekers the right to submit a valid claim.
MOHYELDIN: Victoria, you brought up the issue that the majority of these people are seeking asylum here. And there are some that are saying that the Trump administration is effectively preventing these parents or anyone else coming from that part of the world, Central America, from asking for asylum.
Is that -- is that your sense of what is playing out, even if it's not an official stated policy that they want to end asylum into this country from Central America? Is that effectively what this administration is trying to put in place?
DEFRANCESCO: Right, Ayman. So we are seeing it in terms of the logistics, of the apprehensions of these people who are seeking asylum, but they are being detained as non-asylum seekers.
But we are also seeing it in terms of the directives being put out by attorney general Jeff Sessions. So Jeff Sessions came out recently and said explicitly we are not going to be providing asylum for folks fleeing gang violence and domestic violence. So these women who are being raped and murdered at the hands of these violent gangs in Central America. So he officially came out to close that space that had been previously available to asylum seekers under the Obama administration. So we are seeing it both in the official directives coming from the administration and also at what is happening on the ground in terms of the border patrol and ICE folks and how they are managing the day-to-day flow of folks coming across the border seeking asylum.
MOHYELDIN: Congressman, let me play you this emotional mother who saw her kids today after a month of separation. She had a message to the mothers that she was detained with. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We shared a lot of sorrow together. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We suffered a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you see this message, I just want to say God willing you're going to get out there. Because we hat we went through was not easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: I'm curious, congressman, how much of your colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, hear these messages? Are they too high up into the clouds, like 35,000 feet, trying to address this issue from policy and national security, and not listening to these heartbreaking emotional appeals from individuals?
CASTRO: Well, you have had many members of Congress, many Democrats and some Republicans, who have gone and visited the border this these facilities. But there's no question that we need more folks to visit for themselves. And I think that if they were able to see these children and these families and see who they are, just get a glimpse into who they are, that they're not MS-13 gang members and criminals and people who would do harm to this country, but human beings who are just lightning to live and survive, then perhaps in their hearts and minds and in the Congress maybe something would change.
MOHYELDIN: Let me ask you, Jennifer, obviously we have the deadline looming that children under 5 must be reunited with parents by Tuesday. But so, families and sponsors are really facing steep fees to get the kids back.
Are you seeing any kind of movement on that front whatsoever? How are parents affording this? Are people stepping in to help? And what are you seeing, in anything, from the government side to help this reunification?
FALCON: I see that basically, (INAUDIBLE), as we have had to become our own private investigators. We launched a web portal to try and find these children so that we can reunify these families. We have found 450 children as of now. The youngest age being two months old and the average age being eight. We have had to fund raise the money to bond people out or fly them home -- fly them with family to be with their children.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. Many of these families coming with absolutely nothing and then being forced to spend thousands more just to reunite with their kids. It is absolutely a heartbreaking situation.
Congressman Joaquin Castro, Vitoria Defrancesco Soto and Jennifer Falcon, thank you very much this evening.
Coming up, the woman confronting EPA head Scott Pruitt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to urge you to resign. This is my son who loves animals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: All right. She is here tonight to talk about this live.
Also, the Trump comment that may have pushed Michael Cohen towards the edge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I always like Michael Cohen. I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the President was on the White House lawn said I liked m Michael Cohen in the past tense, Michael Cohen heard that. Michael Cohen didn't like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A NEW BIPARTISAN rebuke of Trump's claims on (INAUDIBLE). We will talk to them live together.
I'm Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. And you are watching THE BEAT" on MSNBC.
MOHYELDIN: All right. Move over lotiongate. Scott Pruitt's exit problems are getting worse. His own aides are speaking out. One aide said he helped his wife get a six figure job, a group Pruitt was actually once chairman of, believe it or not. He asked his 25-year-old staffers to put hotel reservations on their personal credit cards instead of his, and refused to pay them back.
Pruitt's deputy chief of staff for operations disclosing he kept a secret calendar to hide controversial meetings. Those are just the headlines today. It comes as we see this video going viral, a teacher, Kristen Mink confronting Pruitt in a restaurant with her 2-year-old son, asking him to resign. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I just wanted to urge you to resign because what you're doing to the environment of our country. This is my son, who loves animals. He loves -- he deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually protects our environment. Someone who believes in climate change. So I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Kristen Mink joins me now.
Kristin, thank you very much for joining us.
KRISTIN MINK, TEACHER: Thank you for having me.
MOHYELDIN: I have a lot of questions. I want to start off by asking you, if you can, walk us through what made you approach Scott Pruitt with your son, walk us through that moment.
MINK: Well, as soon as I realized that he was there, I knew instantly that I had to talk to him, that I had to use that opportunity. I feel strongly that it is my right as a citizen. I pay his bills. I'm a taxpayer. It's my responsibility as a mother. So I knew right away that I wanted to approach him.
MOHYELDIN: I know that we see a little bit of Pruitt's reaction in the video, give us more context. Did he say anything to you throughout that at all? Did anyone around him say anything to you? How would you describe his reaction?
MINK: As I walked up to him, he you know, smiled and said hello. And you know, as I asked for -- if he was, indeed, Mr. Pruitt and he smiled and, you know, I don't know if he thought, you know, that maybe I was like a super fan of his who spotted him across the restaurant. But he gave me a friendly hello there. You know, and then of course I suggested that he resign. And then he stopped smiling. You know. And then he looked kind of annoyed, I'll say, at that point. And then as I started listing off some of his scandals and named some of the specifics there, then his demeanor really changed. He stiffened up and looked angrier and more uncomfortable.
Did he at any point say anything to you about the comments you were making to him?
MINK: No, he didn't. He stayed silent through the entire thing. He had no defense, no explanation, no apology, no confirmation of his impending resignation.
MOHYELDIN: So he seemed to be pretty confident that he's going to be resigning, maybe you know something we don't know. Maybe he told you something. Let me play you this sound bite from President Trump talking about Scott Pruitt last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we are setting records outside, he is being attacked very viciously by the press. And I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So obviously you disagree with President Trump's assessment of what he's doing and how he's doing his job. Give us a sense of what are some of the complaints that you have against Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA? You listed some of the scandals he was involved in.
MINK: Well, first of all, I'll just say quickly that it's almost funny if it wasn't so tragic to see our President, President, saying I'm not saying he's blameless when here is a man that's entirely to blame for the decisions being made at the EPA, that's really ludicrous. So good job, Trump.
But yes. So we have got the scandals, we got his misuse of taxpayer dollars, more of which is still coming out now. Even his aides are speaking out now against him. It's time for you to go, Scott Pruitt. Yes, he is spending taxpayer dollars on things like first class fights, on tactical pants, a $1,500 pair of tactical pants. What do you need tactical pants those for, Scott Pruitt?
MOHYELDIN: I got to ask you really quickly, Kristin. You seem to obviously know a lot of details involving Scott Pruitt. I assume you obviously politically aware, not just from reading the news but very vested in all of this. Had you ever done anything like this in the past where you had seen a politician, maybe someone you disagree with and confronted them about issues and scandals?
MINK: I had not. I will say this is not my wheel house, you know, approaching strangers in restaurants. But you know, I saw an opportunity, and I really felt strongly that I had to take that opportunity. I have been involved in, you know, some protests and things of that nature.
But this was nothing planned. This wasn't something I was approaching, you know, even as an activist, or anything like that. I really was coming to this as a mother. You know, I was there with my child. And this is a huge concern that I have for my child's future, for the future of all of our children for the next generation. And here is the man who is actively sacrificing our children's water, their clean air, our natural resources. This man is actively sacrificing those things for personal gain and it disgusts me. And I would like to see him out of his position.
MOHYELDIN: Let me widen the conversation a bit to something that has been somewhat taking place. You're probably aware with Sarah Huckabee Sanders going to the red hen restaurant and being asked to leave. Kirstjen Nielsen was at the restaurant, the homeland security secretary and protesters approached her there as well. And it has ignited this debate about civility, and about -- with the role of citizens of whether or not they should be confronting cabinet members and politicians they disagree with. And I wanted to get your thoughts about the issue of civility.
Do you think that what you did may have crossed the line, there's a private moment and a public moment for these officials and you were definitely in that private moment?
MINK: Well, let me say this first is that I think this whole debate about civility is a waste of time and I wish that the left would stop talking about it. Because civility is not the issue. Here you have people who are speaking up. There's no violence involved. You know, this is literally people voicing what it is they care about to the people whose salaries they pay. Right?
So if they want to then turn that conversation away from the issues, and to, oh, it's not the right time, it's not the right place, you are not doing your job. If you are doing your job properly as a civil servant, you want to hear from the people who are paying your taxes. You want to hear from the people who you're supposed to be supporting and taking care of.
So the issue here is not civility. The whole idea, obviously, this shouldn't even need to be said, but the whole idea of talking about civility is ridiculous considering who we have as our President who has done so many things outside the box of civility and kindness and goodness. So it's ridiculous to even spend time on this, you know. And I know that representative Maxine Waters, you know, made comments about this, and that some people on the left have not been supportive of her. And I think that's ridiculous. That we should not be spending time nitpicking people who want to criticize others for simply speaking out about what they believe. And I think that it's my right as a citizen, it's my responsibility as a mother, and the same thing goes for everybody else in America.
MOHYELDIN: All right. Kristin, I want to ask you to stick around with me just a little bit. I want to bring in "Chicago Tribune" columnist Clarence Page into this conversation.
Clarence, it is great to have you with us. First, let me play for you what conservative political commentator Eric Bolling said today about Pruitt. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC BOLLING, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You are a public servant. You are serving at the behest of the President, but you're also serving the public. I don't think anyone out there on either side of the aisle or the middle would say that what Scott Pruitt is doing is serving the public. It sounds like Scott Pruitt is serving Scott Pruitt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: What's your reaction to that, Clarence? What's your assessment of what he's doing and when you're hearing conservative commentators like that and saying Scott Pruitt is not serving anybody but Scott Pruitt?
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Yes. It's kind of a different experience hearing Eric Bolling criticizing a fellow conservative like that. But I can't say it's not well deserved. Everybody knows about Scott Pruitt's behavior and his attitude has been like. He's a former attorney general who has one head for the law and another for ethics. He seems to be entirely blind or tone deaf to ethics certainly. And we have seen this repeatedly.
And here we have a situation of where he is being confronted by a citizen out there in the regular ding world. And I've editorialized against this sort of a demonstration in public, I can't say that it wasn't well deserved in Pruitt's case.
MOHYELDIN: So to be clear what do you make of what Kristin did and what others have done in this administration be it Kristjen Nielsen or Sarah Huckabee Sanders?
PAGE: Well, I'm old enough to remember the original sit-ins down in North Carolina that started the '60s phase of the civil rights movement. And it is ironic to me that in told days, you protested by sitting down in a restaurant, now you protest by interrupting somebody else's meal.
However, this is a natural consequence on the atmosphere that we are living in these days. A lot of people are very angry for a lot of different reasons and don't feel they should hold back from at least conveying how they feel. And Kristin is quite right, this was a peaceful, nonviolent expression. And it's one that I hope we can find better ways for the public to be able to communicate with our leaders than having to interrupt their dinners. But I certainly understand why people are doing it this way.
MOHYELDIN: Kristin, I wanted to ask you, do you feel that one of the reasons why you had to confront Scott Pruitt is that other avenues for you may be closed or you felt that his voice that you wouldn't have access to him in any other way? I mean, do you feel that this is a national moment for these types of disruptions and protests to take place?
MINK: I mean, this is the way to have our voices heard right now. You know, Democrats don't have a whole lot of power in government right now, as you can see. And those are my representatives. So this is the way that I have to have my voice heard.
Now I will say, Scott Pruitt, if you are watching, I would love to sit down at a time when I'm not interrupting your lunch, and we can have a perfectly civil conversation about it. If you want to have a talk at another time and you would like to grant me access in that way, I would love to sit down and talk with you in more detail. I'll buy you lunch.
MOHYELDIN: He may take you up on that the way he has been asking for favors.
Let me ask you, though, Kristin, why the need to film it? Why did you feel the need to film this and put it online? Was it your intent to have it go viral?
MINK: I mean, I did not anticipate it going viral. I will say that I probably would not have kept my son with me if I had realized it would go viral. I mean, to me, this was -- I was like, you know, this isn't that exciting of a conversation. But going up, walking up there, I felt safer having a camera on me for one. Scott Pruitt had a couple security guards there, a table over, I didn't know if they would try to stop me or interrupt me. And so I felt like I was more likely to get to Scott Pruitt if I had the camera there and to be able to have that conversation with him, call it conversation, but he didn't have anything to say, clearly.
And, you know, and then posting it I figured, you know, whoever sees it, sees it. Maybe somebody feels empowered by it. And of course there was always the chance that Scott Pruitt would say something of value, you know, you want to have that on tape. He didn't, clearly. But his silence explains.
MOHYELDIN: If he takes you up on the lunch offer, please come back and let us know because we certainly want to interview after that conversation.
Clarence Page, I want to give you your final thoughts on this incident. Just what are you thinking about the national discourse with these examples, with Scott Pruitt himself, what do you recommend Scott Pruitt do at this stage given all the scandals we keep hearing about?
PAGE: I want to say resign. I do believe in a proper -- giving people due process. In any case, though, the level of scandals that he has generated are astounding to me. What's more astounding is how President Trump puts up with it. I think in some ways he is, once again, showing his own rebellious nature and fluffing up his image by keeping Pruitt on. I don't see how he is that valuable for the administration. But the thing that -- I want to speak, though, to what Kristin was saying earlier about the civility debate.
I agree with her that it is, indeed, a shame that we are talking about civility, but only on one side. It's rather remarkable to me that liberals are bending over backwards to express their civility and call for it while on the Trump side we see very little respect for it until someone is uncivil toward them. That's a rather one-way dialogue. Kristin and I are both parents and we try to raise our kids better than that. I wish my Washington leaders would behave better than that.
MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. I think that's something we can all agree on.
Kristin Mink and Clarence Page, thank you for joining us this evening.
MINK: Thank you.
PAGE: Thank you.
MOHYELDIN: And tonight on "All In," Chris Hayes talks what whistle blower within Scott Pruitt's EPA. You don't want to miss that. That's an 8:00 eastern tonight right here on MSNBC.
Ahead on THE BEAT, a father and son take their argument on Trump to the voters. They are running against each other for a state seat. They're here to debate live.
Also, the Trump doctrine, attacks on allies handshakes for others, a new evidence that Kim Jong-un was actually playing him.
But first, why Michael Avenatti is saying Michael Cohen is loyal Trump even after breaking his silence. We are going to be in 60 seconds.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC CO-HOST: The other top story tonight. We're just two days away from the deadline for Donald Trump's lawyers to finish reviewing the last of the documents seized in the Michael Cohen raid. While they're checking for anything they can claim might be covered by attorney-client privilege, Cohen gave that big interview where he said his first loyalty was to his family though it's unclear whether he's trying to get a plea deal, a pardon or pity from the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER OF STORMY DANIELS: There's nothing to indicate, John, that Michael Cohen is anything but loyal to this president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Michael is trying to get out there and send a message to people that he's not a demon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- huge shift. I interviewed him last August and he said I would take a bullet for the president. When the President was on the White House lawn and said I liked Michael Cohen in the past tense, Michael Cohen heard that. Michael Cohen didn't like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: All right, so that last comment is really what caught our attention. Here's exactly what Trump said using the past tense about Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I always liked Michael. I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he still your lawyer?
TRUMP: No, he's not my lawyer, not anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your personal lawyer? Not anymore --
TRUMP: But I always liked Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Trump always liked Michael but the question is does he still like Michael, and if so how much? With me former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah who worked in the office investigating Cohen and with Cohen's new lawyer by the way, former Watergate Special Prosecutor Nick Akerman and Tim O'Brien author of Trump Nation and Executive Editor of Bloomberg View. Great to have all three of you with us here. Nick, let me begin with you. Let's play a little verbiage if you will. What is Michael Cohen thinking when he hears President Trump say things that I would say create distance between him he liked, past tense, and that he's no longer my lawyer and he hasn't spoken with him in a long time.
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think anybody's thinking here. I mean the whole thing is bizarre. If this guy were my client I would never ever let him make the statements he did. I would have never let him be interviewed by ABC News.
AKERMAN: Because there's no -- nothing good to come out of it. I mean, if he's trying to really make a deal with Mueller and trying to be a witness. The last thing he wants to be doing is going out and talking and being in the public. He wants his lawyer to go in make a deal, give a proffer as to what he can offer in terms of who else he can provide evidence against. This idea of turning this into a reality T.V. show which is what all the Trump people do is just mind-boggling. This is not the way you run a criminal defense operation.
MOHYELDIN: And Mimi, I'm going to give you a chance to respond to that. What do you think? I mean, you certainly know Mr. Petrillo, the lawyer that is representing Michael Cohen now. You know perhaps better than anyone here his insights. What do you think of what he's asking him to do to speak to the press in this interview?
MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well we don't know if Guy Petrillo asked him to speak to him or -- you know, my sense and I'm just gleaming this obviously based on you know, different things I'm reading in the press is that Cohen wanted to talk for whatever reasons. I think he probably wants to try to save his public image whether this did that or not you know, I'll leave to others to decide. But this is his start of that because he knows the onslaught is coming from Donald Trump and others. It's already begun, you know, the distancing. And I think you know, Petrillo, my guess is he probably did try to advise him not to do it because it's never good from a prosecutor's point of view or from a defense attorneys point of view. But that said, the interview that Cohen did was not that bad. When I first heard he was going to do an interview, I said, oh you know, one of those. But it wasn't that bad because --
MOHYELDIN: What do you make of the fact that -- sorry I'll let you finish that one, go ahead.
ROCAH: He stayed away from answering factual questions. He didn't answer the -- what he said on the advice of my lawyer I'm not going to answer whether Trump directed the payment to Stormy or whether Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting. And those are the questions that could really get you into trouble down the road, you know answering the factual questions. Expressing his belief of the FBI are not such bad guys, things like that, this isn't a witch-hunt, those are going to ingratiate him to the government. I don't think he needed to do that. The government is go to talk to him regardless if he wants to talk and they want to listen but you know, I don't think he did as much damage as one mistake.
MOHYELDIN: Should we be reading too much into the fact that it's not an on-camera interview, that it was done -- I mean, it was kind of like there's different degrees of your interview statement, how much you want to go out there, is it a prime-time special, is it live, or is it this kind of you know --
ROCAH: Well, giving -- Emily Jane Fox, I heard her say on Rachel Maddow I think last night that it was indeed -- and this was my thought that his lawyer that said OK, you can do the interview but not on camera because it's a way of controlling it a little more and doing less damage than he otherwise could.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. So, Tim, I want to get your reaction to this conversation. How do you detect the Michael Cohen interview, what has come out of it, what its intended purpose was?
TIM O'BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG VIEW: Well, I'm one of the people in the media that thinks Michael Cohen as a possible vulnerability for President Trump has been overblown. I don't think he's the lawyer in the Trump Organization that knew where all the bodies were buried. That was Jason Greenblatt. You know Trump use Michael Cohen to fix problems like possible liaisons with porn stars. He didn't have Michael Cohen inside financial transactions that would be more meaty for somebody like Bob Mueller. You know --
MOHYELDIN: Still not somebody Trump should be worried about is what you're saying?
O'BRIEN: Well, Trump has to worry I think about most of the crew around him because Trump historically has attracted the second and third rate people who probably at the end of the day don't have any loyalty to him when the prosecutors put pressure on them. I interpreted what Cohn did the other day as something of a Hail Mary pass. I think he's possibly in trouble with tax evasion in New York. He's got a taxi medallion business that's going to zero. He's in some financial stress and I think he wanted to sound out whether or not the President was possibly going to pardon him. Every other time that Michael Cohen has come into the news cycle, Trump has tweeted about him or given an interview about him. He was dead silent from Sunday until now so Michael Cohen has his answer. The President doesn't see any reason possibly to pardon him.
AKERMAN: But to be no reason to pardon him, it means to do this to get a pardon because Donald Trump cannot pardon Michael Cohen from state crimes. He cannot pardon him for state tax evasion, for money laundering or any other kind of criminal activity that occurred that violates state crimes. So that the idea he was sending a message to see if Trump would pardon him, I mean, just adds to the whole craziness of this thing. I mean, the only thing I can be --
O'BRIEN: Such sophisticated people.
AKERMAN: That may be part of the answer. I mean, the only part of this that even makes sense to me is maybe he was doing this because he was concerned that he was being pressured by the Trump people and he was sending a message that I'm going to be my own person.
MOHYELDIN: Yes, smoke signals. Mimi, what do you make of the fact that we're approaching this end where Trump's you know, lawyers get to finish reviewing the documents. What are we expecting to see next in terms of significance of these?
ROCAH: Well, I mean certainly the Southern District wasn't going to file charges until the review process was done because that if nothing else would look unfair, right? Not everybody got to finish their privilege review and they go ahead and file charges. That just wouldn't look right so it's going to remove one impediment to them charging Cohen if that's where they're going and I think that's likely where they're going. But you know, they also just got you know, over a million documents themselves through this review process. They've got to get their arms around those documents.
MOHYELDIN: Can Mueller hold off the Southern District of New York until he makes a decision or do they operate entirely independent? Like if they if the Southern District finds that they have something on Cohen and they decide to go forward, can Mueller's say wait let's see if we can get them to cooperate first? Do they work in tandem on that front?
ROCAH: I mean, look, you always have some coordination and it can be full coordination. It depends you know, on turf battles. I think here given what's at stake namely did the President of United States act in some criminal way, I think there's going to be a coordination between the Southern District and Mueller and nobody's going to you know, start fighting over who should go first.
MOHYELDIN: Tim, I know that you said that Michael Cohen is not somebody necessarily Trump needs to worry about and may not know where the bodies are buried so to speak, who should Trump be worried about when he has somebody like Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and to some extent now Michael Cohen that are liabilities?
O'BRIEN: Anything that is going to go to whether or not Trump, his campaign, Trump personally during the election colluded with the Russians to tilt the election, to break-in, to hack the DNC servers, anyone has knowledge of that information is definitely a threat to Trump. I think Michael Cohen exists a little on the periphery of some of that but we do know that he and Felix Sater tried to get a business deal done in Moscow building a Trump Tower there. He's intersected multiple times with Felix Sater. Felix Sater is a vulnerability to the President around issues like money-laundering. I don't know that any of them land on the issue of collusion with Russia.
AKERMAN: Yes, except the Christopher Steele reports has multiple sources saying that Michael Cohen was in Prague, was talking to the Russians about how they were going to hide the hackers that were involved in hacking into the Democratic National Committee and how they were going to pay them off and put them away in Romania so nobody could find them.
MOHYELDIN: I think -- I think it's probably why Bob Mueller is taking his time trying to connect all of these dots. Tim, Nick, and Mimi, great to have you. Thank you so much for your perspectives. And coming up, a new rejection of Trump's assertions on Russia, this one though coming from both Democrats and Republicans. And later a father and son who disagree about Trump now running for office against each other. They're both going to be here exclusively. Stay with us
MOHYELDIN: Breaking news tonight. A new report that says Russia, yes, Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. That's the verdict from the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee. It reviewed the Intelligence Community's assessment and writes that it "sees no reason to dispute the conclusions." The report emphasizing the divide between Trump and his own intelligence agencies, Trump has wavered on whether the Kremlin interfere. Joining me now is David Rothkopf, Visiting Professor at Columbia University and Host of the Deep State Radio Podcast. David, great to have you on this evening. First Trump gets ready to meet Putin, a new assessment that Putin meddle help him coming out of the Republican-led committee. Your take on that.
DAVID ROTHKOPF, VISITING PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I think it's significant that the Republican-led committee felt it was necessary to be the umpteenth source in Washington D.C. to arrive at this conclusion. I think they were sending a clear message to the President. The problem is the President has developed an acute immunity to fact. He doesn't listen to these opinions whether they're from people he appointed, the entire Intelligence Committee, the entire Intelligence Community and so it's symbolic but I don't think it's going to change Trump's behavior at all.
MOHYELDIN: Let me -- let me ask you about this New York Times report that Trump sent warning letters to NATO leaders demanding they increase defense spending because the U.S. does "losing patience." How does this play to Vladimir Putin's hands a week before their summit or so?
ROTHKOPF: It's like sending him a box of chocolates. This is what Putin wants you know. He -- the thing he likes -- seeks the most is to weaken the Atlantic Alliance, to undermine NATO, to make it clear that if he wants to be ambitious in the region as he was in Ukraine and as he was in Georgia that he can do so without pushback from a U.S.-led alliance. Trump is sending the message that he's not so comfortable with the alliance. He's willing to insult these people. And the interesting thing is he does it while he defends Putin and while he sends little love notes to Kim Jong-un as well.
MOHYELDIN: Do you trust that President Trump when he meets Vladimir Putin one-on-one we're going to get an honest readout of what that meeting was about? I mean when you think of what happened with Kim Jong-un and all the praise that Trump came out saying afterwards and saying that he promised this and promised that, and here we are the Intelligence Community saying nuclear weapons stockpiles are increasing. Do you trust that meeting is going to produce any transparency?
ROTHKOPF: Of course not. There's no -- there's no evidence that he will. You know, he's had lots of meetings like this before. He comes out and he spins them. Sometimes you know, the Russians will come out after a meeting with Trump and they'll actually break news before the White House and sometimes their news will be a little more accurate although Putin is as fond of lying as is Trump. I think that's the problem. The problem is the President has said he wants to meet alone with Putin, no note-takers and we will never know what is happening in that meeting.
MOHYELDIN: We might get a rush in that press agency statement before we get anything from the White House. David Rothkopf, great to have you with us as always. Thank you. Ahead, an epic family feud. A father and son who disagree about Trump now running against each other for political office. That debate live right here next.
MOHYELDIN: All right, one thing both political science can agree on is this. Trump is polarizing. His fans love him, his critics hate him, and the debate over Trump is dividing not only the country but even some families. 40 percent say they've argued with family over Trump, 16 percent even stopped talking to a friend or family member over Trump. Luckily though that hasn't happened to my next two guests. Here's David Quiroa Sr., a Trump supporter and his son David Quiroa Jr. a Trump critic and they're taking their political fight to the voters of Rhode Island running against each other for the same state House seat. Here they are today in fact together at City Hall picking up their nomination papers and the father and son are now joining me live. Thank you so much both for being here. If I may -- David Jr. if I may begin with you. Why do you deserve the seat over your dad?
DAVID QUIROA JR. (I), CANDIDATE, RHODE ISLAND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: It's not so much necessarily that I deserve it but I'm just excited to be a part of something new and hopefully be you know, a new perspective in the seat.
MOHYELDIN: OK, well let me ask you. What is it your perspective that is different from your dad's perspective or how is it different?
QUIROA JR: Well, obviously the age gap and me growing up here throughout my life and my father growing up in Guatemala. It's definitely been you know, two different sides of things. And so I think I definitely have a different perspective on what he would have.
MOHYELDIN: All right, David Sr. let me get your take on this. How do you see your perspective being different than that of your son's and why do you deserve that seat over him?
DAVID QUIROA SR. (R), CANDIDATE, RHODE ISLAND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, you got to remember that I'm not only running against my son, I'm also running against the current representative, Representative Abney. He is -- he is part of the powerful Committee of Finance he's actually Chairman of the Finance Committee and last year in February, Representative Abney let the free pass bus program end for veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities and I think that's an outrage. And I am going to try to get the votes of district 73 in Newport and prevent from those disadvantage to suffer under the political regime that we have had in Rhode Island for the last 80 years has been democratically controlled and that's a major problem.
MOHYELDIN: But David, let me -- let me ask you though your perspectives because I know that you, sir, are a Trump supporter your son is not a Trump supporter or opposes the policies that President Trump is pursuing on a national level. What is the biggest argument that two of you have had over President Trump's policies and actions since he's been in office? David Sr. I'll let you go first this time.
QUIROA SR: Well, of course, it's going to go back to immigration. I mean, my son is first-generation. I'm kind of first-generation. I was born in the United States but I grew up in Guatemala and then I returned to the U.S. So I see immigration in a very different perspective and I also don't think that the immigration issue it's only an issue that has to be dealt with in the U.S.
MOHYELDIN: So do you agree with President Trump -- do you agree with the zero-tolerance policy that was in place and then ultimately rescinded?
QUIROA SR: Well, absolutely I agree that we need to have our borders secure and safe otherwise the holiday we're going to be celebrating tomorrow is irrelevant.
MOHYELDIN: OK, Jr -- David Jr. I'll give you a chance to respond as well. Go ahead.
QUIROA JR: In that sense, I disagree a little bit because you know, for the land of opportunity I feel this place is essentially a haven for the rest of the world where we are an example to the world. And for us to not let people come in, I think is entirely ridiculous.
QUIROA SR: There's got to be a process, of course.
MOHYELDIN: Let me -- let me ask you guys really quickly though. One of the most important voters if not the most important voter in this district is obviously, David Sr., your wife, your mom, David Jr. Can you guys tell us in which way she's leaning? Is she an undecided voter at this stage or she made up her mind?
QUIROA SR: I think that she's probably going to vote for my son because she's the mama. You know, I'm pretty sure she's going to vote for him. And in fact, you know, well that day I'm actually going to vote for my son as well just because it's my son. But I'm determined to win this race. I'm going to defeat my son and I'm going to defeat Rep. Abney because it's time for real leadership. We need a balance and power at the State House. The Democrats have controlled the state. We're not going to be the ocean state anymore, we're going to be the state in the bottom of the ocean if we don't change the direction of the state that is in right now.
MOHYELDIN: And Jr., what do you make of your mom expressing her vote for you? What do you think of that?
QUIROA JR: I mean, she says she might vote for me but at the end of the day it's really it's her decision and she might surprise us both by voting for the other candidate so we really --
MOHYELDIN: Will you be -- will you -- first of all, before I let you go, David Sr., I know that you're wearing your Trump socks, is that right? Is that a good luck sign that we have --
QUIROA SR: Oh, it is my good luck garment. I always wear it when I'm in interviews or when I'm --
MOHYELDIN: Junior, what you think of those socks? You got any socks like that or no?
QUIROA JR: No, I think they're a tad silly but if they make him feel good then there's nothing I can say about that.
MOHYELDIN: All right, we're going to have to end it there. Gentlemen, thank you both very much, David Sr., David Jr.
QUIROA SR: Thank you very much. Happy Fourth!
MOHYELDIN: Good luck. Thank you, guys. Good luck to both of you. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spent the last three days interviewing and thinking about Supreme Court Justices. It's such an important decision and we're going to give you a great one. We're going to announce it on Monday. Justice Gorsuch, we had a home run there and we're going to hit a home run here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: That was President Trump just moments ago talking about his Supreme Court pick promising a home run on Monday. That does it for me. You can always catch me on Social Media. "HARDBALL" starts now.
STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The heat is on. Let's play HARDBALL.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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