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White House invites Putin to DC. TRANSCRIPT: 7/19/2018, The Beat with Ari Melber.

Guests: Marc Ginsberg; Aisha Moodie-Mills; Robert Torricelli; Nick Ackerman; Sam Seder; Mara Gay

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: July 19, 2018 Guest: Marc Ginsberg; Aisha Moodie-Mills; Robert Torricelli; Nick Ackerman; Sam Seder; Mara Gay

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: The other`s native sun is Jesse Ventura. They may share a border, but they are not the same. You know what? Maybe a wall would help.

That is all for tonight. We will be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY. I`m going to be here.

In the meantime, THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Ari Melber, good evening. Watch Seth Meyers. I`m going to be on set.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Congratulations.

TUR: Thanks.

MELBER: That will be cool.

TUR: It will be fun.

MELBER: I feel like I haven`t seen you in a while.

TUR: I need to save my choice. Again, again you are going to do this to me. I`m going to have no voice on Seth Meyers. And I`m going to feel like (INAUDIBLE).

MELBER: You know, there`s something very meta-about you talking about your voice.

TUR: Yes, super meta, it`s really meta that we are talking about my voice talking about my voice. Ari, bye.

MELBER: Bye, Katy.

The Trump-made Russia crisis that has been engulfing the White House this week is actually taking a major turn right now. President Trump is inviting Vladimir Putin to the White House for a new separate special meeting. The overturn comes as his own intel chief concedes today that Trump didn`t take the right approach in his big meeting with Putin this week, saying he would have done it a different way to avoid giving Vladimir Putin power by holding this now very controversial meeting without U.S. national security staff in the room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: They asked me how that ought to be conducted. I would have suggested a different way. But that`s not my role. That`s not my job. So it is what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It is what is. Coats also making waves by admitting he was kept in the dark when Putin`s top officials went into that oval office meeting without national security staff. And that was, of course, another very odd Russia-related meeting that Trump held.

The White House is pushing forward, though, with this other meeting amidst universal condemnation of the Helsinki summit which even Trump acknowledged by walking back three different major Russia positions this week, including the White House here finally tamping down a provocative attempt to undercut the Obama`s former U.S. ambassador to Russia, because there was this suggesting that he could face a grilling from the Kremlin. Here is the whole progression.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He feels very strongly about it, it`s an interesting idea. I think that is an incredible offer.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President`s going to meet with his team and we will let you know when we have an announcement on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has now disagreed with that proposal. Now they say it was made in sincerity to use Huckabee Sanders quote. It was made in sincerity, but something they disagree with, and they will not be pursuing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Something they now disagree with. Donald Trump did cheer that offer, though, when he was at Putin`s side, then leaving it to aides to declare this disagreement, just like his spokesperson had to spin this odd exchange about Russia also this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Russia still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s go, make your way out.

SANDERS: You had a chance to speak with the President after the comments. The President was said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Just no to answering questions. Because those who walk backs pale next to one is empowering so many jokes and means this week including this parity hat, something reference to a double negative to spin his embrace of Putin`s defense at the summit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The sentence should have been I don`t see any reason why it wouldn`t be Russia, sort of a double negative. So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So here`s where we are. Donald Trump forged his entire public brand on firing anyone, fighting anyone and never apologizing or backing down. His whole aura was reality star meets Tom Petty, won`t back down, going to stand my ground, and I won`t back down. That was the narrative.

This week, of course, exposes the giant exception. When it comes to Putin and Russia policy, Trump won`t fight. He looks like he is afraid Putin will fire him. He spent four consecutive days backing down and explaining himself. And this quite blatant departure from Trump`s normal brand has many serious people asking disturbing questions this week.

And as "the New York Times," front page, with an article questioning what happens when treason may hit the oval office. Because if Russia is the one topic that terms Trump from a relentless Tom Petty fighter to a kind of a bumbling, flinching, quailing capitulator, and sort of (INAUDIBLE) of foreign policy that people are going to ask why.

Just like tonight, people are asking why this widely contended week of Donald Trump`s foreign policy towards Russia is being capped at this hour with this developing news of a dramatic red carpet invite for Vladimir Putin to the White House.

I am joined now by former ambassador of Morocco, Marc Ginsberg, who called Monday`s meeting a shame and surrender summit. And former New Jersey U.S. senator Robert Torricelli, Democratic strategist Aisha Moodie-Milles and Sam Seeder, host of "Majority Report" and an analyst for us.

Ambassador, I begin with you. Why is this happening?

FMR. AMB. MARC GINSBERG, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO UNDER CLINTON: Well, it`s happening largely because of the duress that Trump has received from some supporters, particularly Newt Gingrich and a couple others on FOX News. That got under his skin. It`s not because of the substance. He actually is convinced that what he did in Helsinki was not the equivalent of a (INAUDIBLE) chamberlain surrender or an appeasement of Vladimir Putin, but that they accomplished something.

What he, however, is saying to the American people, Ari, is that Mr. Putin has something on him, that there`s a reason why this obsequious kowtowing to Putin permits the President of the United States to disregard the calamities that Putin has inflicted on the United States and the international community.

And so, in my only humble belief, in the efforts Trump has done to engage Putin separately and away from any prying ear of any aide, it`s because Mr. Trump is fearful that Mr. Putin has something on him.

MELBER: Well, and that`s been one of the questions that`s getting mainlined because Putin himself was asked about it, both at the summit, senator, as well as in the FOX interview he did, which we are going to be touching on later in the hour. When you look at all this, it seems like even if you forget collusion, and that investigation, which is not done and doesn`t need to be pre-judged, something very concerning is happening right now between these two men while he is President. In some ways it`s more profound for national security than perhaps what may or may not have occurred in 2016.

ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), FORMER NEW JERSEY SENATOR: It actually, to the casual observer, would appear that Donald Trump is worried that somehow now he`s offended Putin by his recent walk backs and is now trying to make amends.

MELBER: You think that`s what this offer is about?

TORRICELLI: And certainly, to a casual observer would look that way. But rather than answering your question, I want to answer a question that Brian Williams asked with my favorite former colleague last night Bob Kerry.

MELBER: Do you want to just walk over there and do his show, instead? I want to do a lot of things, senator. I`m going to try that when I get assignments around here. Rather than taking this assignment again as host, I`m going to go to the beach. Go ahead, though.

TORRICELLI: He asked Bob last night noting the real heroes of Watergate were Republicans. Where is the Howard Baker of this crisis? And it occurred to me, hearing about this new summit today, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, Grassley, people in the twilight of their careers, you are either never going to be forgiven for being silent these weeks or if you speak up now, never forgotten.

Mitch McConnell needs to go to the President and say when Vladimir Putin comes back to this country for the sake of American security, our credibility with our allies, the credibility of your office, the functioning of this government, you are not to meet with him alone. And if you do you cannot count on me when the report comes out from Mueller. Make it clear and put it on the line. Otherwise, what ally is ever going to share with intelligence with us about Russia again? And how are we going to restore credibility to this administration?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I totally agree with that. And I just want to step back for a minute. And you know, we need to be asking some deeper questions about the President`s behavior and why --

MELBER: You mean the kind of questions Brian Williams asked. I know the kind of questions.

MOODIE-MILLS: What on earth?

MELBER: The questions that are worth answering.

MOODIE-MILLS: The ones that we have raised on this show that are worth answering. But it really -- we should all just be alarmed, personally offended, but our country is in jeopardy right now. This is not just a political issue. And we often get on TV and we politicize things, right?

MELBER: Sure. You are talking about what is at stake for our national security?

MOODIE-MILLS: What is at stake for national security is what the Republicans on Capitol Hill should care about. And the fact we have this man who is behaving erratically, he doesn`t seem to have any kind of memory, a lack of empathy, and there`s something that is just very pathological about the way that he is operating that there`s a reason why we have three branches of government. If there is any moment in time that Congress should step up and say wait a minute something about judgment isn`t right. We actually need to exercise better judgment here, they should, but we saw today that the Republicans are cowards in Congress because they have refused to even just -- to vote and say that we support our intelligence community and we agree and we know it to be true, that the Russians have meddled. So I don`t know if we are going to get to where you think we should be.

SAM SEDER, HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Yes. And I would say, you know, even if you back up just to the lack of transparency throughout this entire process is problematic from a Democratic standpoint. I mean, you know, it`s a small deed, democratic. Like the idea that these two men are meeting without any record whatsoever and without any notion of what the agenda is it is just fundamentally wrong before you even get to these second ask third order questions which, you know, are increasingly becoming first order questions.

MELBER: Which is a question that conservatives often like to pose in the legal process, which is, if you are not guilty, why are you hiding?

SEDER: Yes, and also you are the President of a -- you are democratically elected President when you go in and meet with this world leader. We have a right to be aware of what is being discussed, at least in broad strokes.

MELBER: I would push you on that and say the national security apparatus has a right. The entire public is not always going to ready on the classified intelligence. But the notion, to your point, the notion that the national intelligence director sitting down with our own Andrea Mitchell tonight is saying in public, perhaps as a signal to people that something`s off, I am being kept out of the loop on this and I know more than the President. And I`m supposed to be guarding our nation`s secrets in a nonpartisan way. Why is he being kept out?

SEDER: Well, I mean, that`s the question. And I will tell you. The fact that he is going public with this I think is pretty stunning. I mean, there`s a lot of red flags being waved around in a lot of different quarters right now that I think, you know, there`s this sort of like soft attempt, maybe it`s getting harder.

TORRICELLI: Yes, but it`s soft, it`s soft.

SEDER: It`s way too soft.

TORRICELLI: When we look back at this historically, people are going to say I have great respect for general Mattis, and for Pompeo. History is going to ask, where were you? If the United States` security is now being compromised, the credibility of the office of the president of the United States is clearly at issue, where were you?

And to all of you, and I go back to Mitch McConnell, about meeting with the President, about insisting that there be someone else in the room. And I go to the President`s cabinet, are these jobs so valuable? Is being in the cabinet so important to you that you would allow the country to be compromised and allow your own reputation to be sullied, perhaps not today, but in the eyes of history? Is there not a Howard Baker in the entire United States government?

MELBER: Let me take that to --

MOODIE-MILLS: Is there not a patriot in the entire United States government? I mean, that`s the challenge, right? So the entire cabinet is completely neutered right now.

SEDER: We already know the answer to this question. Mitch McConnell wouldn`t even let -- was going to -- was going to punish politically anyone who mentioned this prior to the run-up of the election. Mitch McConnell has made his bed. I don`t think there`s going to be this moment where Mitch McConnell all the sudden becomes a different person.

MELBER: Right. And that goes to whether people are not only standing by but potentially, allegedly welcoming the kind of interference that actually submerse a democracy. That is the type of as charged in the Mueller indictment, an international election-related conspiracy.

Ambassador, as someone who served, I will take the question to you. And I will play for you some of the reaction to something that was the big story earlier today, before, again as we are reporting tonight, before Donald Trump just made a new offer to Vladimir Putin to come to the White House. Before that there was the White House basically leaving up in the air that maybe they would let the Kremlin depose people like yourself who have been ambassadors before to Russia. Take a listen to some of the response to that insanity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CALIFORNIA: That the administration to even entertain this shows to me how naive they are.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: The President would work with Vladimir Putin to put in danger our ambassador strikes me as almost providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It was incredible, all right, what a stupid idea by Putin, continually walking back, it`s a big problem. I can`t imagine the cart wheels they are doing over in Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Ambassador Ginsberg, you have held this type of post. What was your view of that, which the White House is walking away from? And have you ever heard of the U.S. government trying to make that kind of deal with Russia?

GINSBERG: Never, never have I ever, in all my years, going back to the days that I worked for Senator Kennedy on the Hill, never have I seen any obsequiousness, the idea that Trump could call this an incredible offer and put in jeopardy.

First of all, my good friend Michael McFaul, former ambassador of Russia, during his tour of duty in Russia was subjected to the worst type of harassment by Putin and by his thugs, his family, himself undermining the integrity, anything that represented the protection of the Vienna convention for diplomats.

Putin will stop at nothing. And by the way, may I add, the fact that Putin offered to let Mueller come over and question his agents, his military agents only shows you that Putin knew and in effect recognizes that these were people who worked for him. So maybe in the end we got that little piece out of it.

But let me make it very clear, Ari, the fact that this White House required people like Mike McFaul and Mr. Browder to have to worry whether or not they would be served up on a silver platter to Mr. Putin by the President of the United States is despicable.

MELBER: I think it`s well put. And it`s one of the many things that the White House may be trying to run from tonight with the other moves it`s making which are also obviously newsworthy, the invite to the White House for Putin, and yet was a remarkable piece of state craft over these last few days that it was even, as you say, put out there.

Ambassador Ginsberg, my thanks to you for your expertise.

Senator Robert Torricelli who comes on this show, but likes a lot of different shows and that is your right.

Aisha Moodie-Mills and Sam Seder, thank you as well. And Sam, stay with me, I want to talk FOX with you in a minute.

Up ahead, Bob Mueller saying he has 500 pieces of evidence on Manafort. We are going to show you some of the key items that reveal his trial strategy.

Also, Trump spy chief with another admission I want to show you, very important today.

And we will show you how Trump TV is tied up in knots over the Russia controversy, a bit of a brewing civil war.

And also, this is important, new ethics questions about that man, one of Mueller`s top critics on Capitol Hill.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Donald Trump making waves tonight with a new invite for Vladimir Putin to visit the White House. And as that occurred, a man who has paid millions by Putin`s oligarch to support Russia`s political interest in the Ukraine is one week away from a very anticipated trial.

Trump`s jailed campaign chief Paul Manafort begins his first trial next week. And that means, tonight, we are getting some of the first clues about the case against him. Mueller`s prosecutors telling the court they have up to 500 items of evidence like pictures of Manafort`s multiple homes from Brooklyn to the Hamptons to Virginia. And to support a tax and money laundering case they are showing his spending, like his home putting green, high priced Yankees tickets, and $21,000 watch, designer clothes, oriental rugs. This is all pretty interesting.

Now, the trial strategy here is not class resentment. Anyone can buy luxury goods. Prosecutors are making the case that Manafort hid illegal income, evading taxes and using purchases for money laundering. So people who live luxury lives may relate to the choices Manafort made. You know, there`s a classic saying in hip hop, Beamer, Benz or Bentley, my jeans are never empty. And if you have keys to those three cars, obviously, your jean pockets are going to be quite full, to say nothing of the money also filling your jeans. And that`s the argument prosecutors are sort of making against Manafort. The new evidence list showing that he has keys to several cars, a Benz, just like Lloyd Banks, plus a Land Rover, and that evidence spills on the larger case in both these trials. Manafort`s jeans, prosecutors say, were never empty, and they weren`t just full of car keys. They were full of money, allegedly laundered money.

I`m joined by Mara Gay who works for "the New York Times" and former Watergate special prosecutor Nick Ackerman.

I put the question to you, beamer, Benz or Bentley?

NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think this is the whole argument they are going to make to the jury.

This case is all about greed. This is a man who basically earns $75 million from the Ukraine government and didn`t report it on his taxes. Instead, he bought all of these luxury items. This is not going to appeal to the jury in terms of this person stealing that much money, that he doesn`t -- stealing from the government, basically, not reporting it on his income taxes.

MELBER: You are saying just by defrauding the United States government, that`s a form of stealing.

ACKERMAN: Right.

MELBER: Because other people lawfully pay their taxes.

ACKERMAN: That`s right. And there aren`t going to be too many people on that jury that ever see that much money. Never mind, not that many people in the United States who see that much money.

MELBER: So you think it is dabbling in class resentment. I mean, a lot of Americans say if people earn and make money in an honest way, they cheer that on, cheer success on.

ACKERMAN: No. But I think this is showing that by committing these crimes, it is greed. It`s a crime of greed. And what he has done here is lined his own pockets to the detriment of all the good, honest citizens who do pay their taxes.

MELBER: It looks from the evidence list, and as I say this is new stuff we are getting, so we are really getting down to the details, beyond, you know, an indictment can always make someone look bad and not stand up in court. We are getting to the evidence. What do you think it looks like for him?

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think two things, the first is that I just find it interesting that he -- I think the argument is essentially he has been parking money in the same way Russians park money in New York. I mean, this is -- it`s not legitimate money so therefore you have to go buy really, really expensive, kind of outrageously expensive things. And I think a lot of people find that extremely disgusting. And so that will play to the jury.

But the other issue here is the level of detail. I mean, you look at the level of detail, the putting green, and so on and so forth, it suggests that, you know, hey jury, hey public, we have so much information about what`s going on. I know exactly what car you bought, you know. How you paid for this house. I mean, that, really to me, is suggestive that there`s much more to come.

MELBER: Right, because this is, of course, as Nick can walk us through, this is an early stage pretrial activity.

Take a look at Donald Trump talking about Paul Manafort in his new interview amidst all the other Russia stuff this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: With Paul Manafort, who really is a nice man, you look at what`s going on with him, it`s like Al Capone. It`s just a sad thing. It`s a very sad thing for our country to see this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACKERMAN: Well, that`s precisely what Al Capone was convicted of, income tax evasion. So I don`t know why Donald Trump is comparing his former campaign manager to Donald Trump. If you go through --

MELBER: To Al Capone.

ACKERMAN: To Al Capone, yes. I mean, I guess it does make sense. But I don`t know if he understand --.

MELBER: It only makes sense in the way that nothing makes sense anymore.

ACKERMAN: Right. Exactly.

MELBER: In that way. But I mean, it is -- and this is sort of like, you know, oh, my former assistant was convicted, you know, they are saying he did drugs, you know. I look at him as an El Chapo type figure. And you are like, wait, what?

GAY: It`s all relative. I mean, the President, not only does he not sound Presidential, he sounds more and more like, you know, every other dictator on the block.

ACKERMAN: I think that`s right. And look, this, again, is an obvious example of a total disregard for the law, $75 million that was taken in the Ukraine. And then put into all of these luxury items, hidden in a way, you can even look through these exhibits, you can see what he did, he put it through all of these different foreign accounts, offshore accounts. I mean, one of the things that the government has to prove here is the badges of fraud to show that he was being deceptive.

MELBER: Right. That he was knowingly doing this.

ACKERMAN: He was knowingly do this. You can`t just be convicted of tax evasion for mistake or negligence.

MELBER: Well, the overlap in both the points you are making is the President`s job is to faithfully execute the laws. The justice department is prosecuting Paul Manafort under the Trump administration. And he is innocent until proven guilty. But you would expect any President to say we are going to pursue the case. And if proven, we are going to learn things that maybe he wants to claim he didn`t know about Paul Manafort, then of course he should go to jail, because he is defrauding everyone. And that`s not the message at all that we see in that clip which is a remarkable.

Nick Ackerman, thank you very much.

Mara, stay with me. I want to ask you about something else.

Up ahead, Donald Trump`s intel chief, Dan Coats, hearing for the first time about this Putin news.

And first, FOX News blasting the media for attacking Trump on Russia after FOX News attacks Trump on Russia. We`ll explain when we are back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The other top story tonight, Donald Trump`s Putin summit has obviously yielded one of the most criticized weeks of his presidency. That`s sure to bother a media obsessed leader. But there are reports Trump thought he did well initially on Monday and then his advisers and this ensuing media coverage moved him to walk back some of the statements. And a lot of that we know.

This week also marks something else though. The most high profile Trump diplomacy, this big mission, since he has added someone to his team, former FOX News President Bill Shine. FOX was ground zero for hearing from the key players at the summit this week. Note, both Trump and Putin went there for their first interviews. And that means they entered an environment where the voices were largely pro-summit or undercutting what was a lot of the rest of America`s public criticism of that Helsinki press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All this hysteria about this press conference. The President said, look, I could have said it better. I should have said this. And they act like it`s the apocalypse. It`s not.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You have just witnessed the single worst 24 hours in the history of your mainstream media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think of course they are trying to interfere in our affairs. They have for a long time. Many countries do. Some more successfully than Russia, like Mexico which is routinely interfering in our elections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what was he supposed to do, take a gun out and shoot Putin?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: FOX, of course, is long been a politically conservative network, but it`s also become more about Trump and less about consistent conservative policies in this era, which has boosted ratings, which may explain why Trump basically has a week that`s been so bad that when it can`t even be ignored on FOX, the FOX story turns to bashing the messenger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you believe the explanation that he misspoke, which is historic. He`s never admitted he has made a mistake or misspoke ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ever since the President misspoke on Monday at the Helsinki summit, the media have spun around like whirling --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The media. Here is one problem, though, for that argument for FOX. It`s starting to kind of become a circular firing squad because we are looking into this, and we have noticed there are some people on FOX, aka conservative media, if that`s what they want to be called, who also criticized Trump`s Putin embrace this week or at least quoted other conservatives who did that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the time and the place for the President to look Putin squarely in the eye and said you will be punished for what you did in 2016.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he didn`t. And that`s what made it disgusting. That`s what made his performance disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Newt Gingrich, when general Jack Cain, when Mat Schlepp say the President fell short and made our intelligence apparatus look bad, I think it`s time to pay attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Time to pay attention.

I`m joined by Mara Gay and Sam Seder, as well as Julius Krien, editor of the "American Affairs Journal." He is a conservative writer who was a Trump supporter but has publicly broken with the President initially after Charlottesville which he wrote about in the "New York Times."

Thanks to each of you.

Sam, you are a long-time FOX watcher. What do you think of this problem, just displayed in those clips where if this is a bad thing to criticize the President, a lot of that`s happening inside of FOX as well?

SEDER: Yes. Well, first off, let me say this, that, you know, they were a Republican mouthpiece at least ten, 15 years ago. I mean, there was a reason why at one point the Obama administration tried to push them into the back of the White House press pool. But so what they`re doing now they just -- they`re just sort of hewing to form by supporting the President in the way that they`re doing. I don`t think it`s that big. I mean, I think that you know, some people didn`t get the memo early enough in the day and by you know, the next day he`s misspoken and I think you`ll see them congeal.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Well, I would -- I would push back a little bit. There were examples previously, for example, the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination where you`re right they would be pro-Republican but then there was a kind of a set of ideas that they were willing to prosecute or use against even Republicans which they argued at the time meant they were more independent. What we`re seeing now is no matter how extreme it is --

SEDER: There`s no daylight.

MELBER: Well, no matter how extreme it is, they are -- to your point, they`re then also saying well we got it -- we got it back no matter what.

SEDER: Well, yes. I mean, to a certain extent they`re fully integrated with the President. You know, I`ve said this before. Sean Hannity, he`s the second or third most powerful man in the country right now. I mean, he has the president`s ear on a regular basis. Bill Shine is sitting in the White House, Trump has pulled a significant part of his administration just off the airways from there. And so I think you know, there is. There`s a lot less daylight. I think these conservative voices, I think they are -- I think they`re going to go away. I honestly think they`re all going to end up growling behind the President until the next thing. So you`ve mentioned that. Julius, you are one of those conservative voices, your view.

JULIUS KREIN, EDITOR, AMERICAN AFFAIRS JOURNAL: Well, I think aside from the usual political posturing and positions changing with short-term interests which I doubt surprises anyone at this point, there`s also maybe more substantively the split in the Republican Party, the conservative movement around foreign policy the party you know has changed. It`s not nearly as enthusiastic about aggressive democracy promotion rhetoric and so on than it was during the Bush years. And that`s --

MELBER: I mean, let`s -- well, then let`s get serious. Let`s get serious. If -- let me jump in and then I`ll let you respond.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Julius, let me jump in. If Barack Obama did ten percent of what Donald Trump did on Russia this week, everyone would be on fire right?

KREIN: Well, I remember when Barack Obama said during the debate when Romney said Russia was the biggest threat, you know, the 80s called and they want their foreign policy back and all the Republicans blew up and exploded and this was supposed to be a massive controversy. And now the situation is different and of course, they shift and like I said that`s not surprising. But if there`s anything more substantive it`s that there`s a significant divide in the conservative movement that`s reflected on Fox News related to the foreign policy approach in general.

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD, NEW YORK TIMES: I just have to say that it`s a great time to have a conversation about the difference between journalism and entertainment and I think one of the more embarrassing things for Fox News is you know this is not a partisan issue, it`s not an ideological issue but the way Fox News, on the whole, has kind of followed the thought of Republican members of Congress or to the far right and also just of where they assume their audiences which is you know really in Trump`s base it`s just I think a disservice frankly to viewers and to Americans. I mean, if you say you are a news outlet and you have to hold yourself to a certain standard not because that`s the law but because that`s what our democracy requires. They are not upholding their end of the bargain and I think the longer they go on saying that they are a legitimate news outlet but they`re unwilling to actually tell their audience what the audience may not want to hear, the more dangerous it is for our democracy.

MELBER: And do you think there`s a possibility politically that people who are conservative or generally pro-Trump still don`t really like get or want to think through what has now been four consecutive days of either inexplicable or only explained by really bad reasons sucking up to Putin.

GAY: Oh absolutely. I mean, it`s like acrobatics every day. Oh, you know the double negative -- it would not -- my mother is a sixth-grade teacher, it would not pass muster for a sixth grader to come in and say the dog ate my homework. Oh no, it wasn`t the dog, it was the cat. It`s just -- it`s ridiculous. But of course, you know, this is a lie within a lie at this point.

MELBER: Right. So Julius, as someone who voted for Trump but is publicly reckoned with that, do you think this was a mistake of a week for him on foreign policy?

KREIN: I don`t think it will be all that significant. I think probably you know he scored some cheap political points with his own base. He`s let his opponents score some cheap political points against him. Ultimately, I think --

MELBER: Let me refine my question because I`m not asking politics. Do you think this was good or bad for American national security this week?

KREIN: I think it was a relatively little importance. I think the actions matter a lot more than any press conference. And since Trump has been elected, you know, he put more sanctions --

MELBER: Well, let me -- yes, let me hit you on that. I mean, the actions are reports in Bloomberg today that Putin`s telling people that he`s got a secret Ukrainian deal that Trump`s considering. He`s getting a level of engagement that Republicans and conservatives have long said is problematic for murderous tyrants who aren`t held accountable, that -- we saw that in North Korea, we saw that here. We see that with the White House invite tonight. So even by the sort of national interest sort of approach, there`s -- that`s more than talk, it`s actions that seem to be embracing him and again there`s no push for extradition on people that the U.S. government is indicted for cyber attacks relating to the integrity of our democracy. So does any of that I guess concerned you or are you may be going back into the Trump re-election camp?

KREIN: Since Trump has been in office, we`ve imposed more sanctions on Russia despite objections from NATO allies like Germany and Austria. We`ve started --

MELBER: You`re referring -- I hate to lawyer you but you`re referring to a congressional mandate and sanctions that Donald Trump called unconstitutional?

KREIN: We`ve started selling offensive weapons to the Ukrainians --

MELBER: You have answered my point though.

KREIN: I`m open-minded about what happens next and I`ll evaluate it but at this point, I don`t see a lot more than rhetoric --

MELBER: Well, I want you to just evaluate the first point. On this show we`ve responded to each other substantively so --

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Why would you give the administration`s credit for sanctions it opposed?

KREIN: It didn`t oppose them. They`re in place.

MELBER: No it was passed by Congress which is how laws are passed but they impose --

KREIN: They didn`t veto them.

MELBER: They opposed them and said they were unconstitutional.

KREIN: They do not veto them, they`re in place.

MELBER: Sam?

SEDER: Well, I would also add that from a national security standpoint, you know, we have allies the and I think it would be irrational at this point for the leaders involved in NATO to be sharing intelligence with the U.S. government or with parts of it when our own Director of National Intelligence is out there basically with his hair on fire saying what just went down was completely out of bounds and I mean --

MELBER: In public.

SEDER: In public. I mean, this is -- you know we could ignore this guy who was a longtime Republican appointed by the President but he`s doing this with a -- I think it`s a very conscious act and I think we have to ask why. And some people aren`t obviously impressed by that at all but I think that`s somewhat problematic. And you got to think about our allies. I just -- I just think that they`re going to be freaking out a little bit.

MELBER: Do you want to close this out on a final depressing note of any kind?

GAY: I just think it`s a really important time for Congress to step up and to keep the pressure on Donald Trump. What tends to happen is that he gets a news cycle where he`s gone too far, he`s crossed a line, and then everything goes back to normal. This is not normal.

MELBER: Right. Mara Gay, Sam Seder, and Julius Krein getting all the perspectives. I appreciate everyone`s time. Thank you very much. Coming up, there is a backlash on that thing we just mentioned, the Intelligence Chief. While he didn`t want Trump to actually meet with Putin alone regarding their one-on-one and later ethics questions about a member of Congress who is very much in the public eye.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Breaking news, the Trump Administration`s Intelligence Chief Dan Coats is speaking for the first time since Trump has here famously sided with Putin on the election hacking over well, him. Coats responding to the news that Trump was also inviting Putin to the White House and this like so many things is pretty unusual, what you`re about to watch is apparently the Intelligence Chief finding out about this Putin invite today for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: I do want to say we have some breaking news. The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Say that again.

MITCHELL: Vladimir Putin coming --

COATS: Did I hear you -- did I hear you --

MITCHELL: Yes, yes.

COATS: OK. That`s going to be special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Ha, ha, ha. Such funny times. That is the Intelligence Chief. He was obviously caught on the spot. He did not appear or claimed that he knew about this. Of course, he`s the person who would be directly involved in that kind of decision. But apparently, he didn`t know it was happening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITCHELL: The White House announcement that Andrea referenced earlier said Putin was invited to Washington this fall. Were you aware of that? I just want to clarify --

COATS: I think based on my reaction I wasn`t aware of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Dan Coats also gets into something else. Trump`s validating Putin`s word over the intelligence agencies and why he had to as we`ve been reporting correct the record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITCHELL: When you watch that in Helsinki, what was your gut reaction watching him validate Vladimir Putin`s assessment over yours? Well, my thoughts there were that I believed I needed to correct the record for that and that -- this is the job I signed up for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones who`s been on this story from the start. A lot is flying around tonight for those who say that people like you or as talking heads might say people like us cover the Russia story the Trump link the relationship between these new two nuclear powers perhaps too much. This doesn`t feel like a week where it`s too much, it feels like there is a lot happening. What is your view of what`s important including this divide I just showed and the new White House invite?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, Andrea`s interview is this type of interview that any journalist wants to do. You make news, you great news, you even form the newsmaker of something that he or she doesn`t know. That moment when he when she tells him that Trump has invited Putin to the White House I think is remarkable. I think it`s quite sad that people laughed at this. I understand why they did in the spur of the moment but it`s really not a joking matter. You know, the President --

MELBER: Well, David, sometimes people laugh when they`re extremely uncomfortable.

CORN: Yes. There might have been that too and maybe it was a sympathy or empathy laugh for the Director of National Intelligence. There should have been a White House interagency process in which you discuss whether to invite Vladimir Putin, what you want to get out of it. This is how government works. Instead, this seems like an impetuous invitation. You know, we all said just a couple of days ago, we know what happens. Trump is going to be forced to claim that he didn`t say what he said, he`s going to come up with a with a cockamamie excuse. But then by the end of the week, he`s going to be back to saying the same thing again.

And you know, I hate the phrase but he would be doubling down. This invitation to Putin is a double, double, double down. It`s -- you know, in some ways it`s an insult to anybody who raised the question. He is inviting a man who attacked American democracy to a symbol of American democracy, the White House and for what reason we still don`t know what happened for the two hours that he met privately with Putin and already we see this afternoon Putin`s coming out and say well, Trump told me this and Trump told me that. We have all these agreements. And it`s quite clear that Trump is -- doesn`t really give a damn what Dan Coats or anyone else around him thinks or our beliefs or their opinions or their expertise.

MELBER: Right. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the direction of U.S. foreign policy in warming relations towards Russia in response to a time when they`ve taken direct cyberattacks in the United States according to DOJ and CIA and everyone else, whether one agrees to that or not there`s also as what you`re articulating here which is a president completely unmoored from the federal government from the experts from the intelligence from the nonpartisan professional staff who do this which has profound implications if there`s bigger decisions to make. I mean, if this is -- we`re seeing the process so if there`s a missile pointed at the United States or there`s a bigger decision in game time, we can see how out of the loop Dan Coats is Aspen`s a great place to go if you`re not going to be listened to anyway. Here`s a little bit more of his remarks from today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITCHELL: Is there a risk that Vladimir Putin could have recorded it?

COATS: That risk is always there. I don`t know what happened in that meeting. I think as time goes by and the President has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting. I think we will learn more.

MELBER: Is this the first time the Intelligence Chief can say he doesn`t know what happened in a meeting of this import? I mean, that sentence alone is a headline.

CORN: My guess is yes. I guess -- it`s never worked like this. And you know, I keep hating the hammer home this -- hammer home this point but Vladimir Putin according to everything in our U.S. government, every agency attacked the United States. It`s not meddling, it`s an attack. And I believe and I we can talk about this all the time it had an impact on the election. And yet here`s Trump providing cover for him you know, at the -- at the press conference saying I don`t know -- I believe him as much as I believe my intelligence agencies. And now he`s embracing him even more so than we thought possible.

An invitation to the White House, his invitation the people`s house, to the president`s home and why you would do that with somebody who just attacked us without resolving that, without -- and even he can -- Putin continues by attacking a former Ambassador Mike McFaul and you know continuing to play this sort of trolling game you know, to the to the level that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today and Twitter put the picture of Maria Butina on there as their avatar. It`s like ha, ha, ha, we`re joking with you here. It -- you know -- you know, that you like to quote rap songs, I`ll go with punk, The Ramones, Bonzo Goes to Bitburg, the refrain is my brain is hanging upside down. It`s hard to watch this stuff these days without having a reaction like that. And what does that mean when your brain is hanging upside down?

MELBER: And what does that mean when your brain is hanging upside down?

CORN: You know, you can`t -- its literally bought -- mind boggling that our government is working this way that there are no checks or balances on Trump and that the people around him are enabling this. No one is breaking free, no one`s resigning, no one`s saying enough with this. You know, John Kelly is kind of missing in action. John Mattis hasn`t been seen, the adults in the room. John Bolton who used to be a -- you know hawk on Russia is now inviting the guy who attacked us on behalf of Donald Trump.

MELBER: Right. Well, you said earlier it`s a double, double, double down which I believe is six but if you`re going to do punk rock we can get to spinal tap and say we might be turning it up to 11, David.

CORN: I think we`re past 11.

MELBER: David Corn, thank you for your reporting and your insights as always.

CORN: Thank you.

MELBER: Up ahead, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas unless you`re Devin Nunez. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: In other news, Devin Nunez, Chairman of the House Intel Committee facing a big ethic set of questions reportedly using political donations to buy winery tours, major trips to Las Vegas and spending $15,000 fifteen on tickets to Boston Celtics games. Nunez, the same lawmaker who said he would sort of recuse himself temporarily from the Russia probe after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY: On numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Nunez had vanished the night before that presser saying he got a communication from his phone and leaving them Uber later -- excuse me -- later revealing the White House officials were giving him the information it then he was trying to sort of launder. Now he is back in the spotlight with these well allegedly swampy epic issues accused of spending more details $17,000 on that Vegas trip, another 10,000 on winery tours. Now, he says these are all legitimate political fundraising expenses but is not answering all the questions tonight. So maybe Nunez who has talked a lot about the propriety of investigations to make sure he involved himself in responding to this one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Turn it up to 11 and say goodbye. That is our show. Thanks for joining me on THE BEAT. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Mr. Putin goes to Washington. Let`s play HARDBALL.

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