Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: July 4, 2018 Guest: Michael Balboni
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to a very special edition of The BEAT, an inside look at the Russia probe and Trump`s response to it, based on making interviews with some of key players.
Now Mueller famously does not talk. So much of what we know comes from witnesses who choose to speak out revealing what Mueller`s agents are asking. Former Trump aides Sam Nunberg was first to publicly say he would defy Bob Mueller. He even released his grand jury subpoena publicly which gave new clues about the specific people Mueller was asking about. Sam Nunberg came on THE BEAT for his first on camera interview on that fateful day.
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: I talked to them. I have spent money on an attorney. I have cooperated with them. And when I got something like this, and then they wanted me to go to the grand jury next Friday, and I believe they are trying to start a case against Roger. And the reason I believe that, Ari --
MELBER: Let`s just be clear, so everyone can follow this. You are holding the subpoena from Bob Mueller`s office?
NUNBERG: By the way --
MELBER: Just so we have the facts. That`s what you`re holding here, yes?
MELBER: And it`s a requirement of, as you say, to get documents and material on those people and also for you to go in the grand jury room. Why do you think after you did the other interview do they want to make you go in the grand jury room?
NUNBERG: Because they are trying to set up a perjury case against Roger Stone. And I`m not going to have it. Roger is my mentor. Roger is like family to me. And I`m not going to do it. And Roger did not talk -- he may have lied about it, but Roger did not talk --
MELBER: Are you basing that view that they are using you to get to Roger based on a theory or based on the questions they asked you?
NUNBERG: Based on the questions they asked me. I have no idea in advance what they wanted for the grand jury. But what they do -- what they tell me I wouldn`t be the subject of a target. And I was going to get the same kind of immunity. But they wanted something.
MELBER: They offered you immunity?
NUNBERG: Yes. Ari, the idea that we had some major plot with Donald Trump after he -- Corey Lewandowski, the minute he got hired, he was -- I don`t want to be -- let me put it this way, he ran a scam to get hired. OK, that`s my opinion. Corey Lewandowski, the minute he got hired, wanted Roger and me out.
MELBER: But you think Mueller`s investigation --?
NUNBERG: I think Corey was in there and told them a lot of stuff about us.
MELBER: And let me ask you, did they say that to you or your lawyer?
NUNBERG: To my lawyer. I haven`t communicated directly with them.
MELBER: And when you say they are after Roger, has Roger in any way encouraged you not to cooperate.
NUNBERG: No, he has not.
MELBER: Do you understand that you have a legal obligation to comply?
NUNBERG: Yes, I have a legal -- technically I have a legal obligation. But Robert Mueller and the team is going to have to decide, if they really want me to give every communication I had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone from the --
MELBER: Well, sir, I think they`ve decided, let me read to you, because this is important, defying a subpoena is a jailable offense, I`m reading under the rules the court may hold in contempt.
NUNBERG: They are going to send me to jail. That`s funny.
MELBER: If you`re saying that they` have set a Friday deadline.
NUNBERG: No, they wanted a 3:00 p.m. deadline, Ari.
MELBER: For the documents and then Friday deadline for you to go in there, yes?
NUNBERG: Yes, and I`m not going.
MELBER: So if you are not going, are you prepared to be held in contempt and potentially go to jail?
NUNBERG: Yes. And you know why?
NUNBERG: If they are going to do something like this after the way they treated all the Hillary people with the emails during that investigation, I`m not going to have it. I think that there`s hypocrisy. I think there`s two separate rules, for Democrats and Republicans. I want to see if they are going to do something to me about this after the way they treated Hillary Clinton during the Comey investigation. The issue is why is the government asking for my communications when they know they`re casual?
MELBER: Don`t you think it`s possible that what they`re testing here is not against you, assuming you would completely comply, but against other people if they withheld incriminating emails?
NUNBERG: Here`s what I would say, Ari, is Roger Stone is like a surrogate father, he`s like my father.
MELBER: You feel loyal to him.
NUNBERG: And I`m not going to go in there for them to set up a case against Roger. Roger did not do anything. Roger and I were treated like crap by Donald Trump, OK? The fact that I was fired for Facebook posts, which were fine racially insensitive, do you think that would have cost us a vote?
MELBER: Well, and you and I spoke about that, and you actually apologized for that.
NUNBERG: I apologized for it.
MELBER: So I know that --.
NUNBERG: And then Trump was ready to let Corey fire Roger.
MELBER: And those are old campaign scores. Let`s stay on track on what the probe is looking at.
NUNBERG: Yes, sir.
MELBER: Because I think you have gotten the attention of a lot of people tonight, as I mentioned.
NUNBERG: Yes, sir.
MELBER: The probe is looking at whether people are complying. You seem, if I`m reading you right, the best case reading of what you are saying is an inference that they are out to get you or Roger, but you don`t really know that. If you guys comply and didn`t do anything wrong, you don`t think Bob Mueller, from what you said last week, is going to make up a against you.
NUNBERG: I don`t think he`s making up a case. But I think this request is too -- and I think that this request is too wide. I am not a target. I am not a subject of the investigation.
MELBER: Which would, if true --
NUNBERG: But they wanted something I said to them in that interview they wanted at the grand jury.
MELBER: Do you think they wanted it to put on record for testimonial purposes to use against someone later?
NUNBERG: Yes, of course, yes.
MELBER: Well, you say, of course. We are-- everyone`s trying to understand.
MELBER: You might be ahead of where some people are. So you think they want you in the grand jury room.
NUNBERG: And you are a lawyer too, you understand how a lawyer works, right. They build --
MELBER: They want you in the grand jury room to build a case against someone else.
NUNBERG: And that person is?
NUNBERG: I don`t know.
MELBER: You don`t know.
NUNBERG: And if it`s Roger, I`m not going to testify against Roger. Roger did not do anything.
MELBER: You are welcome to stay at the table. And you`re welcome to continue to participate.
I want to turn to attorney Maya Wiley, a counsel in New York City, and talented and knowledgeable analyst for us. And you are also at this table with Mr. Nunberg who is still with us, the last time he was here, he spoke about the FBI interview, that`s not the grand jury box, that`s an FBI interview. Now what you just heard from him, your analysis.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Well, I`m really quite flabbergasted at the statement that, Sam, you don`t believe that there is anything that you would share that would implicate Roger Stone in a crime and yet you would not actually come forward in a grand jury and then repeat the statements you have made already directly to federal prosecutors in front of a grand jury, that`s rather astounding. The way I have seen the subpoena it is a reasonable subpoena. It does not sound like a huge, random fishing expedition.
MELBER: Mr. Nunberg used the word broad. Is it your view that it is very broad or that is it targeted?
WILEY: It seems targeted to people directly implicated in the investigation already, by many things. If there are mails that do not exist, they can`t be turned over and it can`t be burdensome to produce them.
MELBER: Why the heat? What did you think of his concern there that might be animating how he is feeling?
WILEY: I think it`s a very human response to being a witness in an investigation. It`s stressful. It is time consuming. There is no question that in the process of trying to get to the truth, which, remember, it is the grand jury that will decided whether or not to indict. So that the grand jury the hear the evidence that the prosecutors have heard in order to understand the facts and circumstances that are being brought to them.
NUNBERG: I`ll disagree with you, respectfully, is that I felt they were very biased against Roger when I was in there. I felt that they`re going after Roger.
WILEY: If we had a justice system that said that witnesses could decide the guilt or innocence of any particular individual, and therefore not cooperate, and make that legally permissible, essentially we would not have any system at all.
MELBER: What do you say to her point that it`s not your call?
NUNBERG: I say one, you`re right and I make you my call. But here`s what I also say. There`s always a reason that the Democrats don`t get tried and the Republicans do. Now, you are going to laugh at me.
WILEY: I`m going to definitely laugh.
NUNBERG: You are going to laugh at me.
WILEY: Yes, I am.
NUNBERG: But you explain to me why she didn`t get indicted. She hid her emails.
MELBER: But I`m going to use moderator`s privilege and say you are trying to change the topic.
MELBER: The question, the reason you are here is you seem to be taking a position that is befuddling and really affecting a lot of people and people are wondering, is it the right decision for you, and is it the right decision under law?
NUNBERG: And her id why -- by the way, once again, Roger`s my mentor. Roger`s like a father to me, I don`t care. They can take down Donald Trump. If Donald Trump did something, take him down.
MELBER: So you`re saying you would protect Roger, but not Trump?
NUNBERG: I`m not going to go into a grand jury for them to set up a case against Roger, whatever case it is, which could be ridiculous.
WILEY: If it`s ridiculous, there`s no reason for you not to go and help him by sharing what you know. The suggestion and the -- what you`re essentially projecting to me, as an attorney, is that you are actually protecting him because there`s something to protect.
NUNBERG: There`s nothing to --
WILEY: So you would do more service to your mentor by demonstrating that he has nothing to fear.
MELBER: You are worried they could make a case against Roger Stone.
NUNBERG: I`m worried that they are trying to make a case against Roger, that they`re maneuvering something.
MELBER: And what would that case be built on?
NUNBERG: I have no idea. I have no idea but it is ridiculous.
MELBER: Would it relate to WikiLeaks?
NUNBERG: I could tell you once again --.
MELBER: Would it relate to WikiLeaks?
NUNBERG: It could relate to WikiLeaks?
MELBER: Does your lawyer think what you`re doing now tonight is a good idea?
NUNBERG: I have no idea. I think he would drop me. I don`t know. I definitely know my father doesn`t like it. And my father wouldn`t like it.
WILEY: I think your family wants you home for thanksgiving and I hope you will testify.
NUNBERG: Here is the thing. Isn`t this is ridiculous?
WILEY: No, it`s not ridiculous, Sam.
NUNBERG: If they are trying to build a case against Roger, I`m not going to be part of it. Roger didn`t do anything except get treated like crap by Donald Trump, the President.
MELBER: You keep saying you don`t think there will be a consequence. What if the consequence for that is going to jail, Sam?
NUNBERG: They are not going to send me to jail. You know what Mr. Mueller, if he wants to send me to jail, he can send me to jail and then I`ll laugh about it and I will make a bigger spectacle than I am on your TV show right now.
MELBER: Well, sir, I don`t know what they`re going to do. I don`t know that. And I can`t prejudge it.
NUNBERG: I know you can`t.
WILEY: Sam, you have got immunity. So you certainly don`t have any reason not to testify, right, as you told us today.
WILEY: Not only that, not only that, it actually makes it appear that Roger Stone has something to hide because you will not go testify.
NUNBERG: He has nothing to hide.
WILEY: Well then go testify.
NUNBERG: You know what, I`ll tell you what, OK, so I don`t mind about testifying. I`m not going to sit there for 80 hours for this document request. I have real work to do. I have to earn a living. I don`t think this is fair.
MELBER: This is the final question to you.
NUNBERG: Yes, sir.
MELBER: And again I say this, forget the law, forget the journalism, forget that we`re in a TV studio.
MELBER: Is it possible, as someone listens to you when you talk about all these people and you have been through something with them and you feel you have been through something that`s been unfair, is it possible in the heat of this you are having a very strong reaction based on the strong feelings you have and that over time you might come around to a different view of this? Is it possible this is coming in the heat of the moment?
NUNBERG: I think that in our discussion, and what you said, I would have no problem going to the grand jury. But I once again don`t want to have spent 80 hours going over emails.
WILEY: You would rather spend possibly a year in jail than 80 hours going through emails?
NUNBERG: I`m not going to jail. Do you think I`m going to jail?
MELBER: Sam Nunberg, Maya Wiley, thank you for --
NUNBERG: If Mueller wants to send me to jail, that`s a joke.
MELBER: After that interview, Sam Nunberg said he would comply with Mueller after all. He sat with the grand jury, and he credited Maya Wiley for helping change his mind.
Coming up, you`ll hear from the Mueller witness whose husband launched the Russia probe, and also became the very first person to plead guilty.
And late my exclusive sit down with a Russian oligarch which was jailed by Vladimir Putin, spoke for the first time since Donald Trump took office. Rachel Maddow will be here to break down exactly what it means.
And my interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the first person pardoned by Donald Trump, and what he learned on national TV what that pardon meant regarding his guilt.
I`m Ari Melber. And you are watching a special Independence Day edition of "THE BEAT" on MSNBC.
MELBER: The entire Russia probe began with a revelation from one man, an obscure Trump aide normed George Papadopoulos. He bragged to an Australian diplomat that Russians had gathered dirt on Hillary Clinton. News that ultimately made its way back to the FBI. And we know what that started, Papadopoulos, the first person as well to plead guilty in the Russia probe. And while he has not spoken to the press, his wife has.
I spoke to Simona Mangiante in a special interview here on THE BEAT. She talked about what it`s like to get grilled face to face by Bob Mueller`s FBI agents.
MELBER: When you look at how "The New York Times" reports that the entire criminal investigation began because of this conversation in a bar with a diplomat, do you think George knew?
SIMONA MANGIANTE, GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS` WIFE: I really don`t know. Surely he must be very surprised. I am surprised as well.
MELBER: When did you first hear about that night?
MANGIANTE: With the "New York Times."
MELBER: You didn`t know about that before you read it in the "New York Times"?
MELBER: How did you first learn the FBI had George Papadopoulos?
MANGIANTE: He told me.
MELBER: He told you?
MANGIANTE: Yes, and probably the most I learned but in the context of the interview with the FBI when I was subpoenaed by Mueller myself.
MELBER: I understand there are certain things you can`t say about the interview. But were the investigators professional, or were they aggressive? How was it for you?
MANGIANTE: The situation was clearly intimidating, but they were very professional, very fair. I never felt aggressed in any way.
MELBER: You felt Bob Mueller`s investigators were fair?
MANGIANTE: Yes, they were, really.
MELBER: Did you ever see Bob Mueller when you were doing the interview?
MANGIANTE: No. I had long conversation with two agents from the FBI at the headquarters in Chicago.
MELBER: How many agents did you speak with?
MANGIANTE: Two that were in connection with Washington with a microphone.
MELBER: And how long was the conversation.
MANGIANTE: At least two hours.
MELBER: And what did they really want to know?
MANGIANTE: If I had sensitive information that even concerning me personally, and I suppose also my experience, my background was interesting because I used to work for the European parliament. I was extremely nervous. It was very wild. And I said, OK, I go by myself. I will try to understand, first of all, what they want and help them.
MELBER: And you think Bob Mueller is interested in accuracy?
MANGIANTE: I think he is doing a very accurate job.
MELBER: There have been allegations that it`s a quote/unquote "witch hunt." You didn`t find that --?
MANGIANTE: No, I never found that. They just wanted me to clarify certain number of things, and I never felt that they were making a false allegation or they were doing an unfair job, never.
MELBER: So much has been said about George. What do you want people to know about him?
MANGIANTE: George is incredibly loyal to the truth, that`s probably the message I would like to give to people.
MELBER: But he wasn`t loyal to the truth at first according to the FBI.
MANGIANTE: I think after one -- the time to speak will come, I will be happy to give my opinion about it.
MELBER: You will have more to say?
MELBER: I have to ask you this, why do you think George lied?
MANGIANTE: I think he was confused. But that is my personal opinion.
MELBER: Do you think George was out looking to get this negative information on Hillary Clinton?
MANGIANTE: Absolutely not.
MELBER: Go ahead.
MANGIANTE: I think George never tried to do anything.
MELBER: One of his ideas that`s not illegal, that`s not negative, was to simply try to broker a meeting between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian leadership. Was he doing that freelance, or was he doing that with the Trump campaign?
MANGIANTE: He never did anything without the blessing of the campaign. So it was every time approved. In a certain way.
MELBER: You`re saying George is loyal?
MANGIANTE: He is.
MELBER: Are his former teammates being loyal to him?
MANGIANTE: I don`t think so.
MELBER: Professor Joseph Mithsud, most Americans had never heard of him, you worked for him before you even met George Papadopoulos, who is he? Why is he important? And how did he know so much about Russia`s activities before the rest of the United States knew?
MANGIANTE: It`s really an opaque figure. I never understood who he is exactly. He strikes like a lobbyist, somebody networking people from the front governments about everything but an academic.
MELBER: While you were working for him, did you think at the time he could be helping Russian spies?
MANGIANTE: I definitely would not be surprised to learn he is. I would not be surprised to learn that he was doing other kind of business. I found myself in the middle of this by coincidence. I understood that I had been working for the key of this Russian investigation.
MELBER: Do you wish you never met him?
MELBER: Do you wish --?
MANGIANTE: I wasted my time, yes.
MELBER: Do you wish George never met him?
MANGIANTE: Absolutely, yes.
MELBER: I want to go through people you`ve learned about and just get your reaction. Mike Flynn.
MELBER: Joseph Mithsud.
MELBER: Jeff Sessions.
MELBER: Steve Bannon.
MANGIANTE: Very interesting.
MELBER: Very interesting. Michael Caputo.
MANGIANTE: Michael Caputo. Copy rights. I would grant him the copy right for the coffee boy.
MELBER: Donald Trump.
MANGIANTE: The President.
MELBER: Bob Mueller.
MANGIANTE: The special prosecutor, to me is the key of the --
MELBER: The key.
MANGIANTE: Yes, the one that will give us, all of us at some point a lecture of what happened.
MELBER: You think Bob Mueller will ultimately get the answers.
MANGIANTE: I think so, yes.
MELBER: Simona Mangiante, I know you have been through a difficult situation.
MANGIANTE: Very difficult.
MELBER: I appreciate you coming and taking the question.
MANGIANTE: Thank you very much.
MELBER: Up ahead on THE BEAT, an oligarch jailed by Vladimir Putin actually takes us inside the Kremlin mind-set and talks about what Putin would have known during the 2016 election hacking.
But first, Sheriff Joe Arpaio talks to me about getting that pardon from Donald Trump, the very first of the Trump administration. And I asked him whether he understood he was admitting guilt when we are back in 60 seconds.
MELBER: Donald Trump has been experimenting with how to use Presidential pardons leaving many to wonder if he is also trying to send a message to his fellow subjects in the Russia probe. He gave his very first pardon to a political ally, Joe Arpaio. The controversial former Arizona sheriff who was actually convicted of contempt of court for defying judge`s orders.
Now, I spoke to Arpaio on THE BEAT after he announced he was running for the U.S. Senate. We talked about many things, including why he thought he should be able to write federal laws given his own history, not following them.
JOE ARPAIO, FORMER ARIZONA SHERIFF: Well, you know, the court that you are talking about is a misdemeanor, contempt of court. Evidently a previous judge said that I violated his decision. I`m not going to get into that. But as far as the contempt, it was a misdemeanor, same time you can get for barking dogs. And I won`t get into all the facts as to how that trial was conducted. And when the department of justice went public during the trial telling all the voters that I -- actually, we were in the election phase telling reporters that I could get six months in prison.
So the President -- and I never asked for the pardon, pardoned me because he knew that this decision was wrong. And I appreciate that pardon. And we`ll see what happens in the near future. We have some appeals in process anyway.
MELBER: Well, Sheriff, you said you won`t get into the facts, but I will get into the facts here tonight. Some of the facts that were at issue, as you know, were the tent city that you -- I was detainee in which you yourself called the concentration camp, temperatures up to 136 degrees there, basically requiring inmates at times to wear pink underwear, apparently to humiliate them, chain gangs.
I want to mention your legal case and give you a chance to respond. Ultimately it cost over $48 million to the taxpayers. And as you know the cases involved detaining people without what a judge said were cause as well as accusations of racial profiling. Do you stand by all of that, or do you think that being held in contempt by a judge shows that some of that, for you, was over the line?
ARPAIO: Well, first of all, we run one of the best jail systems in the country, according to the U.S. department of justice and others. When you went through that litany that was put out by an independent newspaper called the "Phoenix Times" who doesn`t like me. That`s here nor there.
So when we go to trial, if there`s a lawsuit, we won the majority of our lawsuits and how we operated the jails. I`m not going to -- let me tell you something. I don`t run a Hilton hotel. If they don`t like the tents, which were there, I put them up 24 years ago, they don`t like the food, they don`t like our policies, that`s too bad. They violated the law, and that`s what it is. So you going down a litany of what you read in the newspaper, but that`s all right.
MELBER: Sir, it`s not just what I read in the newspaper, and you said they violated the law. The other issue is, you`re seeking a promotion, I think we could all agree, and a judge found you violated the law. And so that raises the question of why do you want to go to the Senate and write laws if you wouldn`t follow a judge`s orders to uphold them?
ARPAIO: A judge found my guilty of a misdemeanor, and I`m not going to go into the politics of that.
MELBER: Let me ask you another important question. You brought up this unusual, but lawful pardon, that you received from the President. As you know, when you take a pardon, you are admitting guilt. Why did you take that pardon and admit guilt?
ARPAIO: I didn`t admit guilt. I said I was not guilty, and I say it today.
MELBER: But you accepted the pardon. You know under the law that is an admission of guilt.
ARPAIO: No, I don`t know about that. You will have to talk to the legal scholars about that.
MELBER: Let me talk to you, and I`ll give you a chance to respond. Supreme Court v. United states, this is the Supreme Court talking. It`s their view that is the law, not anyone`s opinion, they say, quote, "a pardon implies guilt and acceptance of a confession of it." Do you understand that that`s the legal implication of what you did by accepting that pardon?
ARPAIO: The President -- I`m not a lawyer, thank God. But the President can make any decision he wants on a pardon. And I`m not going to argue about what your decision is. I`m sure his lawyers have reviewed.
MELBER: Well sir, but let`s not hide behind lawyers. This is pretty basic. I think the viewers can exactly understand what`s going on. If someone, I`m not even going to say you, but if someone were offered a pardon for a murder they didn`t commit, their first response might be I didn`t do it, I don`t need a pardon for that murder. You do understand, under Supreme Court law, and as a sheriff you may not be a lawyer, but you are obligated to uphold the law, and you are running for the Senate now to write the laws that that`s what that means and you accepted that pardon.
ARPAIO: This is a -- I`m not going to get into the law again. This is a misdemeanor, the same as a barking dog, as far as the tine s concerned-- contempt of court which is very unusual to begin with. So I`m not going to argue that. I`m telling you that I`m not guilty of that. I believe we were doing some type of appeal on that pardon. We`re not appealing the pardon but we`re doing an appeal on someone on the conviction -- the conviction. I was -- I was found guilty by a judge who refused to give me a jury trial -- a jury trial and announced my guilty verdict on a misdemeanor without even taking me into court. I had to hear about it in the media so there is a lot of other things --
MELBER: Do you understand how that sounds, sir? And I want to give you -- I want to give you a chance to respond. Do you understand that when you -- when you come here and you talk about the due process rights that you feel you may not have been afforded? You just said you didn`t like the way you found out about it from the judge but at the beginning of this discussion, you come on here and said tough if these detainees -- who by the way, some of them had not been convicted of anything, or held in contempt of anything, unlike yourself, you said tough. Do you see how that`s an issue if you want to be a Senator and people have to assess the record that it sounds a little bit like you want differential treatment, sir?
ARPAIO: Oh, come on. That`s not true. What do you mean, I used the word tough? So what? So I have been tough on crime for 58 years. I never had any problems.
MELBER: But you didn`t like when it the judge was tough on you, you`re saying?
ARPAIO: Well, what do you mean tough on me? Yes, I don`t like the way the trial occurred but I`m not going to -- you know what? I don`t want to talk about that because we`re still in the appeals process so --
MELBER: Understood. I have to spill one more fact on the record, sir, and then I will move to other topics. It`s not the only thing you`re on for, but we have to go through facts and the receipts. That`s something we do here. You mentioned the appeal but it was a senior federal judge, Susan Bolton in your case who said, "the pardon undoubtedly spared defendant -- that`s you -- any punishment that might otherwise have been in imposed but it did not revise the historical facts of this case. So you do understand, this is the finding -- this is the contempt. This is -- I guess the final question on this before we move on is why should voters put this to the side when they think about whether to promote you to the Senate?
ARPAIO: Well, let me say this. This is an appeal. You know you have the right to appeal a judge`s ruling? I guess you understand that.
MELBER: Yes, sir.
ARPAIO: Unfortunately, it`s up on the Ninth Circuit. But it`s under appeal, what you just said and we`re going to leave it at that. I`m not going to keep trying the case on television.
MELBER: Sheriff Arpaio, I appreciate you taking time during your Senate bid to come on to speak directly. Dialogue is important and I appreciate your time sir.
ARPAIO: Thank you. Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up, something very rare. My exclusive interview on the beat with a man who risked everything including his own life when he questions Vladimir Putin inside Russia and my discussion with a very special guest our own Rachel Maddow to break down what it means when we come back
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hi, I`m Richard Lui at MSNBC world headquarters here in New York City. We`re still watching this breaking news story coming out of the Statue of Liberty. As you`ve see on the left-hand side of your screen, there was a protester that had been at the base, right at - - basically where the foot is, the heel of the Statue of Liberty. This is about a 150 feet above the sea level, the entire Statue of Liberty is about 300 feet so about the halfway point. This has been ongoing for several hours and you can see the protester there now being strapped in by law enforcement. It appears that the police are now apprehending this protester and how they will actually lower her down to the balcony we shall see. Again, the risk here is that the fall, it`s some 150 feet if they do not make it down to the balcony. And that`s obviously why law enforcement are strapped in here and now are it appears strapping in this protester. It was heard earlier that she would not come down until -- and this is part of the protest earlier on -- until the issue at the border and the reunification of families was resolved. And this is somewhat based on that. We`re getting these live pictures and they`re coming and going and that now they`re back for 6:37 local time on a July 4th. The Statue of Liberty at this time normally would be closed if they were operating under typical hours from about 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can see that it has had quite a lot of interest here in the Northeast, in the Statue of Liberty. Another helicopter hovering around in the area whether it`s law enforcement or one of the news agencies covering it is we cannot determine at this moment but a lot of interest here on a July 4th as they had to stop the tours there that would be typically happening. Over four million visitors do come to the Statue of Liberty each and every year. Jim Cavanaugh, our MSNBC Law Enforcement Analyst is here on with us. And Jim, you and I spoke within the last hour or so and the picture was pretty similar but at this moment we now see law enforcement upon the copper part of the pedestal and now it appears apprehending the protester. So the question is how might they get her down?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well they`re going to lower her down from those ropes that they repelled on these emergency service unit officers. You know, they can -- they`re trained to do this. They can -- this person is basically cooperating now. They might have been a little verbally resistant. But Richard, as you pointed out earlier they gave some water to the protester. They were patient. They made their way up there and now they`ve convinced the person to go with their rescue. You know, you can be injured protesting something as well and the officers don`t want to have the protester injured or fall off the statue. And if the person will cooperate, they can safely lower them down. It looks like that`s what`s happening. They`re talking with him or her and they`re going to lower the person down.
LUI: You know part of this as we were discussing earlier, Jim, there was a protest abolished ICE by the group Rise and Resist and then they had some arrests at least six individuals were taken into custody. That group then tweeting out and saying that this particular protester that was part of their group as they made it onto the Statue of Liberty earlier on the park there is -- was not part of the plan. This is not what they wanted to happen in the end. The question that was put out, Jim, was how did they get on to the Statue of Liberty to the park here if they were wearing t- shirts because they were wearing t-shirts that basically spelled out abolish ICE as you see in this picture here.
CAVANAUGH: Right. Well, you know the thing is the United States Park Police which takes care of the Statue of Liberty and the parks around the White House, Lafayette Park, the mall be very used to protest, mass protest. They deal with all kinds of protesters. They`re not going to be afraid of anybody with a sign. They`re going to look at them, they`re going to say it`s freedom of speech, they deal with it all the time. So they`re going to allow them on unless the person is doing something violent, you know, obstructing, they`re not going to stop them. So the sign is you know, you`re right, you`re peaceful protest and here you see the protestor trying to make his way across the copper statue with the emergency service officers you know, have them grappled in and roped in so he won`t or she won`t fall. They`re going to clearly get this person safely off there. They made their protest point and you know, this is a good professional policing. Nobody gets injured. Too bad they had to evacuate the statue on the 4th but you know, that`s OK if nobody`s hurt and get that person down.
LUI: Well, they certainly have got -- they certainly have achieved at least one item and they`ve got attention, right? You have national cable networks covering this right now including our own. Let`s bring in one of your -- my friends here who covers items like this Michael Balboni, former New York State Homeland Security Advisor, also somebody who would be aware of the procedures that would be undertaken at a park like this. Michael, what do you know about this and the procedures that you`re watching so far today and how they handle this protester? What`s some of the insights you have?
MICHAEL BALBONI, FORMER NEW YORK STATE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: What just the chairman mentioned, it`s a very professional police response. The patience that they`ve demonstrated has been a key to this whole approach. But you know, one of the things that as I look at the video that I think to myself is if I was one of the officers responding, you got to sit there and think, well the world is watching me. Here`s this individual who`s putting him or herself at risk and putting ourselves at risk. Now, these are things -- this is not a T.V. studio that`s happening out here. You could - - you could slip the fall, you`d be injured just because this individual wants to make a point. The other thing that I`m thinking about is that this guy got -- this girl got so much attention doing this so will it encourage other people to try to do these same types of things and every time they do they put themselves and the responding officers at risk.
LUI: Right. And you know, Michael, how was this protester able to get to the balcony, able to then get up to what is the first part of the copper structure of the Statue of Liberty? How might that happen?
BALBONI: Well, so I don`t think we really know how that happened but that is certainly going to be a Monday morning review that happens with the security team and please be aware that this is a not only it`s a park service but it is also a private contractor that provides security at the Statue of Liberty so there`s going to be lots of hard questions as to what happened, what was the procedure, as Jim mentioned too, you know, protest is one thing, but being able to scramble out onto the statue the principal concerns are you know, things of you know, the facing of statute suicide after bringing a weapon onto the island. All those things are a principal concern and those are things that you try to prevent and the question is going to be so how did -- why wasn`t this prevented?
LUI: And what`s sort of charges might this protester`s face?
BALBONI: Well, it`s trespassing. You know, that`s the principle on -- and maybe some other -- I don`t think there`s any dissipation that`s happened but so far it just seems to be trespassing but again if an officer was injured, things could be much more complicated and I believe there are other federal statutes that they get charged with as well but it could be up to the U.S. Attorney.
LUI: And clearly, we are still concerned about the safety of the officers there and we see three in the picture here as well as the protester herself. They seem to have put up a top rope and then they will somehow get the protester down. That was the concern that if one slipped, would they all go. It looks like -- we can see that carabineer, it looks like some sort of carabineer at the top part of your screen there. Jim Cavanaugh, what are you seeing in terms of the way they have rigged this up and are trying to get the protester and the officers down safely here?
CAVANAUGH: Yes, Richard, they`ve taken the danger out of it. I mean, these emergency service unit officers they`re like fire rescue teams in our major cities. NYPD maintains emergency service unit. I think that`s those officers are there and not the Park Police. I couldn`t quite see their shoulder patch but you know, they do that stuff. They get people off of bridges, high-rise buildings, they know how to handle the ropes and the grapples. The thing they have to overcome first is the mind of the person. Like Michael said, is the person suicidal? You know, when you`re going after someone who might want to jump off the structure, that complicates things. So they have to assess it mentally first. They did that. They gave the person some water. They determined that the person was basically a protester that needs a little bit of time, that needs a little bit of time before they`re going to want to cooperate with you even though they`re a protester. They`re caught up and they`re in their moment and this woman might have been inspired on the spot by other protesters because the group said she was not with them. So she might have been inspired by the activity, took it into her own hands to do this on an impulse and of course, that means it can be all the more dangerous if you act on an impulse like that. You might act on another impulse. So the officers took the right time. They did the right strategy. I`d say they pretty well got it safe now. She`s locked in. They`re going to get her down that ladder while they still have a rope on her. And of course, she`ll be arrested as Michael said, charged with various federal statutes there. But I mean this is not heavy felonies but nevertheless, it does endanger people. You can call attention to yourself without doing things that are dangerous. The protesters that had the abolish ICE signs, you know, did that down there, were some arrested maybe for failure to disperse. But you know, failure to disperse or people laying down on the ground where they`re peacefully arrested is a civil rights demonstration and that`s part of the fabric of America and we all understand it and so did the police. It`s only when violence comes to bear that makes it a big difference.
LUI: We`re at the quarter hour. Folks are just joining us here on MSNBC and expect to be seeing Ari Melber THE BEAT which was being played. We are interrupting that programming to watch this breaking news story and this is a protester ostensibly part of the abolish ICE banner that was placed there at the Statue of Liberty. All this part and this initially efforts by the group called Rise and Resist and that group they oppose the Trump Administration`s zero-tolerance policy. They were objecting also to the removal of children and they were -- they were focusing on the reunification. They had put up as you saw some moments ago there that banner. They also were wearing t-shirts. This person was part of that group, but the group saying this particular protest by this individual climbing up to the base here of the Statue of Liberty really literally at the feet of the Statue of Liberty where she was at the heel a moment ago and then was apprehended and then secured and now they made their way around to the ladder and we`ll see whether she climbs down on the ladder or whether she`ll be lowered down on the ropes that are attached to what appears to be a top rope. And you can see the protester now feet down. Earlier on in this process, Michael Balboni, she was moving around fairly unlike -- I don`t know if it`s the right word in a carefree manner walking around and at one point -- several points on her stomach and her feet in the air, you know, just seemed to be I guess relaxing at a moment. It`s not a cool day. It`s in its mid-80s and this is copper. This isn`t -- it is not necessarily going to be a warm -- a cool environment. And we see now Michael Balboni that she is climbing down. So a very interesting series of events in the last several hours, Michael.
BALBONI: It has but it`s -- again it`s played out in front of the world stage and so my thought immediately goes to responding officers who`s got to do -- who`s got through everything perfectly and they know that the world will be judging how they address this individual. If it was an altercation at the last minute and the individual decided to get violent, that would be captured for all the world to see. And so, all the training, all the practice, all the resources or the equipment has to be utilized flawlessly to get this done. And again, this is not a T.V. show. This is real life and I think about the officers safety as well as the safety of the protester. But thank God that it`s done without -- it looks like you know, no injuries, and as Jim said and I agrees this is a very professional response.
LUI: Yes, and of course, always hats off to law enforcement agencies at work 365 days a year and here we see them on July 4th right, in an evening when this part of the country will be lit up, that the sky will be full of fireworks once the sun sets in in a couple of hours. And Jim Cavanaugh, you know I was watching this throughout the evening and afternoon and wondering again, could she get up there on her own because we were seeing pictures after she was up there by herself and it didn`t seem like there was -- there were any artifacts you know, ropes, ladders, or otherwise that were left behind when she had made it up to that point of the pedestal. Now, of course, she is making it down safely, Jim.
CAVANAUGH: Yes. She found -- she found a point you know, a handhold, a place to grab, a place to slither up and she had the one thing that made her get up there, Richard, that was determination. But you can`t say enough. That`s the NYPD Emergency Service Unit, now you can see when they zoomed in a little bit, the blue-helmeted guys. But you know, the United States Park Police should take a lot of credit here. They`re a great force. We trained with him at the Federal Academy. We just had the greatest respect for them, work with them, work with their detectives, their officers. They`re just top-shelf people. They don`t get a lot of notice. People don`t know who they are, they`re force. You know, I don`t know their strength now, maybe it`s 800,000 but they`re a very good force and they`re a very good police department and they did a great job today and so did the NYPD.
LUI: And part of this though, many tourists who had gotten on that ferry that many have done before had to be turned around. There was an announcement made earlier that the park, that Island where the Statue of Liberty is at was going to be evacuated basically of all those who had spent the day and the time and the effort to take that ferry out to the Statue of Liberty that then had to leave and most of the ferries were then reversed, again pictures coming in going for us. And so Michael Balboni, in situations like this when they do have to evacuate a park location like this, fairly standard I imagine.
BALBONI: Yes, they train for it and when there`s a bomb threat or any type of issue that possibly there being a weapon involved, they do this and they do this all the time. They work closely. Obviously, the park police is the principal agency involved with the jurisdiction of this site but they work with NYPD and they have a lot of very experienced people who again trained for this.
LUI: And Jim, were showing some video from before and this is right before the apprehend of the protester and it appeared that she was trying to yet climb higher potentially try to get away from them. This is -- this is that risky point right? This is that point if the protester decided I am going to climb, could fallen, and then slip and then fall that 150-foot distance that I was describing earlier or allow herself to be apprehended. This is that moment when she`s right underneath the heel of the Statue of Liberty. She doesn`t move. She doesn`t resist. She doesn`t jump, Jim.
CAVANAUGH: Yes, if you saw that move right there by the emergency service officer right there, you notice he made a quick step to grab her really to save her from falling, slipping, jumping, whatever. You can see that he`s talking with her. All the emergency service officers, they get negotiator training. NYPD and only a few cities kind of used this model. It`s a very unique model. New York City, Newark, New Jersey, other cities in the Northeast tend to use this model that the Emergency Service Unit. They are the SWAT. They are the rescue. They do all the unusual things when we insistence called 911, the cops call the Emergency Service Unit. And you saw that approach. They`re communicating, they`re trained in that, communicating with the person, and when the officer saw the opening, he made the quick two-step to make the grab and of course, then the person is convinced when the hands are those two officers that are on her that you know, she`s going to have to go with them.
LUI: Alrighty. Again, we`re covering this breaking news coming out the Statue of Liberty on a July 4th. It just seemed to have reached its end of the arc within the last ten minutes and that as the protester was apprehended and then moved down safely into the balcony. I can`t thank enough Michael Balboni, Jim Cavanaugh, for being here with us throughout this evening as we`re watching this breaking news story. If anything does change on this story, of course, we`ll have it right here for you on MSNBC. We now return you to THE BEAT with Ari Melber a back right after this short break. Thanks for staying with us as we cover in this breaking news story coming out of the Statue of Liberty.
MELBER: Tonight we`ve been going through some of our favorite interviews from this past year of THE BEAT and you can always find recent shows and some of the classics on our BEAT podcast. You just go to the purple podcast icon right on your iPhone screen. You click it, go to the search bar, type in Melber or THE BEAT with Ari Melber and click on the show where you can subscribe and thus get every show ad-free anytime. And that does it for me. Thank you for watching. I hope you enjoy the rest of your Independence Day at home. And of course, you can always catch THE BEAT right here weeknights at 6:00 p.m. Easter.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: So who`s the firecracker? Let`s play HARDBALL.
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