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Judge delays Manafort trial by one week. TRANSCRIPT: 7/23/2018, The Beat with Ari Melber.

Guests: David Priess; John Flannery; Eric Swalwell; Sophia Nelson; Mimi Rocah

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: July 23, 2018 Guest: David Priess; John Flannery; Eric Swalwell; Sophia Nelson; Mimi Rocah

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: We now know the what and when about the future of guns. Now, what does this mean for the future of gun control?

That will do it for me tonight. We will back tomorrow with more of MTP DAILY.

THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you very much.

Two Trump former aides tonight are approaching legal turning points tonight. Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen under pressure as 12 tapes seized in the raid on his office are handed over to the feds while Paul Manafort was slated to begin his first criminal trial on Wednesday. The former Trump campaign chief just got a one week delay from the judge today

Now beginning with Cohen, the political world was of course a buzz on Friday over news he secretly taped Donald Trump. Tonight, the news is that tape didn't exist alone. This is a point that several sources made just last week on THE BEAT. And while this new tape that was discussed last week was not initially given the prosecutors over claims that it was privileged, now Trump `s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani says they are waiving any privilege. And the court official who has the final call is saying these other 12 audio items are not privileged either so they have been released to prosecutors. Those, of course, are the people who can decide whether to charge Cohen with any crimes in this whole case.

Cohen's adversary, Michael Avenatti, says Trump is on more than one of these other tapes.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: First of all, this is not the only tape, I can tell you that for a fact. There's multiple tapes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know if there are more tapes of President Trump, though?

AVENATTI: No, I do know there's more tapes of President Trump. There is multiple tapes of President Trump.


MELBER: Now, there is much speculation about who is leaking these Cohen tapes, who benefits from all these, and whether it is another Trump land distraction from stories that could be even worse for the President like the continuing fallout over his embrace of Vladimir Putin last week.

It also could distract from the other story I mentioned. This truly is historic trial later to begin this week in Virginia. And today, Paul Manafort appeared in court in a jail uniform as his lawyers did convince the judge they should get one more week to go over voluminous evidence before this trial begins. Not this was Manafort's first court appearance since the judge sent him to jail last month.


PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He came in today wearing a short-sleeved green Alexandria Jill jumpsuit. Whether that's going to be the situation during trial or not, we don't know. I suspect his lawyers will try to get that changed.


MELBER: The judge also made some news by granting Mueller's request to immunize five different people who will testify against Manafort. The witnesses linked to companies that did business with him. The list does not include any famous names or known Trump associates.

I'm joined by two former federal prosecutors, Mimi Rocah and John Flannery. Sophia Nelson, an attorney and former counsel to the Republicans on the House oversight committee.

John, looking at the Manafort trial in a minute, we will get into all of it there. But on Cohen, what do you make on the waiver of privilege and your theory as why this story is in the news?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it's in the news because you have Trump on tape. And as anybody would say, that's the strongest possible evidence if they are making an admission on the tape. And in the particular tape we looked at last week there certainly was evidence of knowledge by the President of a playoff to the playboy playmate, Miss McDougal. And it looked like they were trying to find a way or to reimburse the publishers -- the non-publishers, if you will, of her story or to own it themselves to have more control over it. And this several months before the end of the election, for no other purpose apparently than to keep it out of the election news, if you will.

I think the significance of this tape, it struck me that Lanny Davis actually gave a sucker punch to Rudy Giuliani. Rudd wanted so badly to speak about this tape he waived any possible privilege as to it. On the one hand he said it wasn't secret then he said it was a professional conversation. By doing that, he may have waived privilege to any tape relating to that kind of communication which may or may not have put him back behind when the publication was denied. That is, when they made the deal with McDougal in August in 2016 and then in September of 2016 and the tape last week, they were talking about how they could perhaps even strengthen their hold on Miss McDougal disclosing anything further.


And Mimi, there is a good piece in "the New Yorker" that sort of goes to why this is a real thing even when you put aside questions of how it came out. The new revelations suggest that Trump campaign was lying when it denied Trump had any knowledge of AMI deal with McDougal. That's what they said the. Cohen also worked on an abortive effort to develop a Trump tower in Moscow, pushed a proposed peace deal for Ukraine and also he is tied up with financial firm with Vekselberg that hired him as a consultant.

The point being, it is easy to forget who many real and potentially legally significant things there at that tape could provide evidence on.

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. And how much Michael Cohen could testify as, how much information he has. I mean, the tapes are important for sure. But what they really are is a reminder of all the information in Michael Cohen's head, which I think is going to be on more than one tape or 12 tapes even. And, you know, Giuliani can try to explain away the way a defense attorney would at a trial each individual recording well that shows, you know, they didn't actually pay the money, AMI paid the money, which isn't a defense. But he can try to explain it away. But the fact of the matter is Michael Cohen, if he decides to cooperate is really going to have a lot of information. I think that's one of the biggest takeaways from these recodings.

MELBER: Sophia.

SOPHIA NELSON, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE REPUBLICANS ON THE HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Yes. I mean, I agree. I think a couple things. Look, we have been talking about this for months since the initial FBI raid in March or April, I guess it was. And what this shows is that Michael Cohen knew a day was going to come, Ari, where he was going to have to protect himself.

The President's tweet seems to be at odds with his own attorney, Rudy Giuliani waiving the privilege when the President is on twitter complaining that this isn't fair. What about attorney-client privilege. So I'm confuse is to what's happening at the Trump camp. But I think I agree with both of my colleagues here that the big news is that Michael Cohen has a whole lot of information and he has 12 tapes at some point I assume we are going to hear as the public.

And it goes back what I said a long time ago about having the CYA file. And if you are going to do things wrong and you are going to do a nefarious activities which is what they have doing for a long time, you are going to cover yourself.

I also think we need to find out what is in President Trump's tax returns that we still haven't seen here. I think that is a key here for Mueller and others that are trying to get to the bottom of what really happened here with all of this.

MELBER: John, is there a legitimate or non-nefarious reason a lawyer could be making tapes like that?

FLANNERY: Non-nefarious. Well, if you are involved in a conspiracy with your counsel, that is, Trump is, and your counsel is making tape, it is almost kind of a giveaway that you are in nefarious activity and it may be legal for one consent taping in New York. And it's probably not ethical and it may be corrupt because if you know you are involved in a crime then there is no privilege that attaches to it.

It strikes me one of the reasons Cohen may have delayed cooperating, if that's what he is doing is because maybe they want a clear line of what they can use of his confidences and conversations with Trump rather than risk of being compromised by as association of privilege that would take it down.

You may recall that before the court decided to screen these documents, there was a screening team that the U.S. attorney's office had and that wasn't sufficient. So they are kind of put on notice they better be careful if they want to use Cohen if Cohen is really interested in doing this as Avenatti suggests and as Lanny Davis suggests by his presence in the team.

And so, maybe they want to make sure they know the rules before they bring him in and debrief him having say anything whether or not they make a deal with them and are compromised because it is decided that it is privileged.

MELBER: Mimi, on the Paul Manafort news, it is a huge deal that this trial is moving forward. We haven't had someone at this high level in presidential campaign triad in the second year of president in office in the modern era and also suggest that there is no last minute deal which in all kinds of cases sometimes happens, as you certainly know.

So what do you make of what is coming down the pipe against Manafort, these five witnesses, plus the paper record in one of what it could be two consecutive trials. What is his play here?

ROCAH: What is Manafort's play? I don't think he has a great play. I think he has trying to stall. I think he has been throwing everything at the wall to see if anything would stick, if the judge would buy in to any of these pretty far-fetched legal arguments and none has worked. I don't think Manafort is going to cooperate. I think he is more scared of Russians than he is in jail here in the United States.

MELBER: And when you say, what do you mean?

ROCAH: Well, I mean, I think we know now that he is -- from the exhibit list that he had a significant loan from Oleg Derapaska. You know, he was in debt to him.

MELBER: He is scared that the Russians could do what?

ROCAH: I think -- I mean, this is me inferring based on all the different reporting we have seen that I think he is scared that if he cooperated and provided information about Russian attacks on our election and possible conspiracy with the Trump campaign, that Russians could come after him.

MELBER: When you say come after him, you mean?

ROCAH: Well, they could use violence, they could use intimidation, they can use threats.

MELBER: Let me go around the room. Do others agree with that assessment? It's a serious thing but we are dealing with a regime that has been documented in its human rights abuses and its treatment of its opponents and its alleged willingness to poison people abroad, John and then Sophia?

FLANNERY: Sure, I think a mad hatter's tea party is entirely possible.

MELBER: Sophia?

NELSON: Ari, I think the issues of these five witnesses are going to get immunity is really the big news to me beyond the Russian issue.

MELBER: I know. But I'm asking a different question.

NELSON: I understand. I don't know that I think they are going to do bodily harm to him. I think they have far more interesting probably on him. Manafort has been doing this kind of stuff for a long time, gets back to my call for the tax return, you have to start connecting the dots.

MELBER: Sure. I know. But I have to keep things on track.

Bringing back Mimi, on the point though, this is the big question because if he does not cooperate but he is facing this overwhelming evidence, that as your view as a prosecutor, he is likely to be convicted. And then what? Then he just deals with it?

ROCAH: Yes. I mean, I would be surprised at this point if Manafort cooperated. I mean, he has shown no signs of it. Sometimes people do try to cooperate after conviction which I think is very unlikely here but it is rare and it would be a lot less valuable to prosecutors after they have already put on a full trial.

MELBER: Right.

ROCAH: But the reason I said this about he must be scared of something else is, as you point out, why else is he not seeking to cooperate? I mean, it's very likely that he has information that could be useful to prosecutors which is the biggest hurdle often for people. He is facing so much time and the case is so strong. The five immunized witnesses, I don't think they are necessarily going to be the bombshell that people thought. I mean, they are turning out to be more kind of, you know, --

MELBER: Corroborating, yes.

ROCAH: Exactly. I think Gates is going to be, you know, he is going to be the real storyteller here. I'm assuming, you know, he is going to be the big witness that everyone is going to want to watch.


Hang with me. I want to bring in California congressman, Eric Swalwell from the intelligence committee.

When you look at the news from Cohen as well as the Manafort trial which we were just reporting on, what do you see as the most significant in terms of your purview and the intelligence issues that still face America in the wake of this Putin summit?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Ari. What I see the President as a candidate had on his team and businesses shadowy operators and people who had close personal, political financial ties to Russia. With Paul Manafort, we see millions of dollars exchanged with Ukrainians as he did work for pro-Russia-Ukraine parties.

And then also, Michael Cohen who as you know, in the fall of 2015 as Donald Trump was a candidate, was working with Felix Sater, a Russian-American who has invested of what Donald Trump to engineer the election, get Putin and Trump together so that they could quote-unquote "make our boy President."

But when you see secret recordings and you see, you know, the way that Michael Cohen was willing to operate on behalf of the President, I think that justice Bob Mueller's investigation to taken an MRI to everyone who was around the President to find out if the Russians have anything on him or if he was working with them during the campaign.

MELBER: Should Congress review these tapes?

SWALWELL: I think it's an ongoing investigation, no, not right now. Maybe after the investigation, as we would always want to have oversight. But right now, we need let investigators just do their job.

MELBER: I want to play for you Michael Avenatti speaking about this on ABC yesterday. Take a listen.


AVENATTI: This shows that the President knew that these payments were being made prior to the election. He was a participant in it. He was advising how it was going to be done, and none of that will be helpful to him or Michael Cohen especially as it relates to campaign finance allegation.


MELBER: As you know, that's an analysis coming from a foe of the President's and Cohen. But if that does prove to be true, that alone is not collusion. And it's not foreign election tampering. It would be the misuse potentially of a media organization within a political goal at home, domestically. Is that in your purview? Is that something Congress cares about or is that ultimately a distraction, smaller issue from what everyone began this investigation with, which was the collusion probe?

SWALWELL: I think they are fair not mutually exclusive. The President can have a whole host of issues on the campaign finance side that are domestic in nature, like these alleged, you know, payoffs to silence people who come forward. And he can also have a whole host of issues with foreign nationals who worked on his behalf and people on his team who met with them.

You know, for me on the intelligence committee, Frankly, Air, I'm more interested in just protecting the integrity of our elections and making sure that no candidate, Republican or Democrat works with the Russians in the way that President did or any other adversary as we all leave, as I said to investigators what happened here.

But let me just also point out. I think what's important with Paul Manafort is, did Donald Trump, when he brought Paul Manafort on in 2016, did he know about these relationships that Paul Manafort had with the Russians?

MELBER: Right.

SWALWELL: That's still not answered. And did that qualify him for the job? You know, most people, they would say, well that disqualifies you. Was that part of the reason he got hired? I mean, Michael Flynn, same thing. A lot of connections to the Russian. A lot of people on the team have these contacts. Most people that the DQ (ph), it looks like this may have been their green light.

MELBER: Right. And you are talking about things that would literally take you out of the running for any presidential campaign if know, except potentially this one, at least not the argument of some critics.

Final question, the White House publicly announcing today that it is reviewing security access to formal national security officials who it says basically quote-unquote "politicized their access to intelligence." Many others have pointed out these are individuals who either critics to the President or potential witnesses against him. Is this appropriate and proper use of classification authority which the President does have?

SWALWELL: No. It's purely punitive by the President. It's the same way he treats journalist, any critic of his, if he has the ability to silence them, he will. And there is just good national security reasons to make sure that our best experts, elders, states persons continue to have some access to classified information not knowing when they would come back into government or under what type of crisis we will need them. We want their skills to remain relevant.

So I just see this as punitive, and all the more reason that this President needs a check on the wrecking ball that he has been through so many freedoms.

MELBER: Congressman Eric Swalwell, my thanks to you from the hill.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

MELBER: Sophia Nelson, Mimi Rocah, John Flannery, also along for our coverage tonight. Thank you very much.

Coming up, there is more on the attempted discredit those people including officials from the Obama administration.

And feds reveal why they sought wiretaps repeatedly on that famous Trump campaign advisor. Chris Hayes, the Carter Page whisperer is here live.

Also, what Trump Supreme court nominee thinks should have happened to the Nixon tapes. The answer may shocked you.

And later, Daveed Diggs, the Hamilton's star has a new film "Blindspotting." He of course plays Jefferson. And he is here art 30 rock to talk about race and justice in America today.

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


MELBER: Another top story tonight involves the President of the United States reportedly threatening to retaliate against national security veterans because they criticized him. This is not normal. Now we should note it is being done in plain sight today. The White House admitting it has plans to revoke security clearances based on what certain people have said about democracy, politics and Trump, which of course, would be their first amendment right.

Here is White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders depicting the exercise of those free speech rights as quote "politicizing public service."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is threatening to punish Brennan and Comey and Clapper for saying things about him that he doesn't like. Is that Presidential?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President is exploring these mechanisms to remove security clearance because they publicize it in some cases actually monetize their public service and their security clearances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free speech he doesn't like and he wants to punish them for it.

SANDERS: No. I think you are creating your own story there.


MELBER: Former intel chief, James Clapper, responding today.


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think this is just a very, very petty, petty thing to do. I think that's a terrible precedent and it's a very sad commentary. And it's an abuse of the system.


MELBER: Key word there is "abuse." You have an intelligence chief saying President Trump is abusing his power over classified information to basically punish descent which of course fails on President Trump's very unprecedented public attacks on many former officials.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at Clapper, he sort of admitted they had spies in the campaign. I think James Comey has a lot of problems, if you look at what he did, you look at all the lie, the tremendous lies, I think James Comey has a lot of problems.

It's been terrible. You look at Brennan, you look at Clapper, you look at Hayden, you look at Comey, you look at McCabe, take a look at all the shenanigans that have gone on. Very hard to have confidence in that group. I have no confidence in a guy like Brennan. I think he is a total low life. I have no confidence in Clapper.


MELBER: Here are six of the former national security officials the White House is targeting. They are intelligence and FBI officials plus former CIA director Brennan who full disclosure is now an analyst for NBC News.

But the most important thing here that those people may have in common is they are all witnesses against the President in an open criminal probe. Comey, McCabe and Brennan, for example, involved in critical Russian meetings during Donald Trump's transition.

So this move may actually be even worse than potentially punishing them for what they have said. This may be an attempt out in the open to discredit them over what they saw and what they could potentially tell prosecutors.

I'm joined now by Michael Steele, former RNC chair and David Priess, former CIA intelligence officer who has given Bob Mueller the morning intelligence briefing and is the author of "the President's Book of Secrets."

David, is this appropriate?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA ANALYST: It's not appropriate and it is not historically precedented. Because we don't have examples of former officials in the national security arena being attacked by removing security clearances so they can't continue to talk to their old colleagues about classified matters.

I can think of only one example. And that was the example of Sandy Berger who was the national security advisor back for Bill Clinton. And he had a three year suspension of his security clearance. But that was for a very specific act. He was caught removing materials from the national archives when he was going over them for the 9/11 commission and then he lied to investigators about what he did with those documents he removed?

MELBER: Right. Didn't he put like those document in his socks?

PRIESS: It was rumored that he put them in his socks and underwear. Later on, it came out, it was a suit pocket. But either way, he is smuggling documents out. So there is a similarity there which his security clearance was removed and he was unable to do things in classified spaces. Everything else is different in this case.

MELBER: Michael Steele, the only thing that you are going a suit pocket when you are coming out of the archive is a nice well-placed hankie like the one you has today.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Sorry, my friend. You got it, baby.

MELBER: Now, let me stipulate this, Michael. There are people who have left government that are being perfectly political in their remarks. Take a look at some of James Comey's latest electoral advice. He says Democrats, don't lose your mind and rush to the socialist left. All people who believe in the country's values must vote for Democrats this fall.

I will tell you, Michael, I think that strikes me as a rather political and absurd statement. People have all kinds of values and make up their mind about their vote. So let's stipulate that James Comey is firing off like he is in a nice blog comment section. But certainly, whether one agrees with that or it shouldn't be ground security clearance. Several of these officials say they don't have clearances to be revoke right now. That the White House didn't do its homework. But what do you think?

STEELE: Well, unless there's a regulation or some guideline for former individuals at that position that they cannot participate in public discourse because they have access to classified information, you are talking about individuals and their free speech rights.

You may not like what Mr. Comey says or Mr. Clapper or anyone else has to say. But that doesn't -- just because they served as a former DNI or former national security advisor or whatever doesn't preclude their free speech rights once they leave that position. Has nothing to do with responsibilities under current law and regulation to be a part of that network of individuals who get continued classified briefings.

So this is boils down to one simple thing, the President is pissed because these folks are out there talking smack about what he is doing at the White House. He doesn't like it. He can't strike at them because they don't work for him. So he can do the one thing, go at the one nexus he has to his administration, if you will, and that is that they still get these classified briefings.

MELBER: Right. I think that makes perfect sense, Michael, what you are saying. And it goes to the fact to this seems to be at times a very emotional President who is breaking the rules and doing things that experts say undermine national security, because there is something that, as you put it, makes him upset. He is also reportedly upset about a current intelligence professional who said I think what was on his mind, I don't think he was saying anything that wasn't true at the time. But if the White House, as you know, reportedly very upset over Mr. Coats' comments here. Take a look.


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



MITCHELL: You -- Vladimir Putin coming --

COATS: Did I hear you? Yes.


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


MELBER: Now, Coats says, my admittedly awkward response in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President.

All awkward laughter aside, Michael, this country has gone to war over the misuse of politicization of intelligence or pressure on the intelligence agencies to come up with results to please the President. So, isn't this bad?

STEELE: Yes. It is. I mean, I think the fact that you have, you know, someone of his stature not involved in the conversation he is getting from a reporter that the President has made a decision that he should be involved in. What kind of reaction do you expect to have? He is going to sit there and pretend that he knows that this was about to take place with Putin. And then when folks like you and others do their job and find out, well, no, you didn't know, then he is caught in a lie. So he did the right thing. Now, he has got to walk it back.

But it still to your point, Ari, goes to the underlying truth of this administration. The pressure that you are seeing now put on, you know, special access to the White House through security briefings or pushing back on the DNI has to do with the pressure that is coming from the investigation by Robert Mueller.

This thing is getting tighter. The President is reacting and being very reactive to it in a way that I think he is showing a lot more than he probably would want to otherwise.

PRIESS: Ari, let me build on something Michael said which is on the Dan Coats point.

Dan Coats is an exemplary human being. He is one of the nicest people that I have met. And in fact in his confirmation hearings to being DNI, the main objection to being DNI was, are you going to be tough enough to bang heads together to get things done in the intel community?

Because it was admittedly awkward on stage is not the fault of Dan Coats. That's the fault of the White House which let him go onto a stage in a live event without even telling him not only what have gone on in the Helsinki meeting he said he had not been informed about. But without telling him that there was going to this policy announcement about the visit. All the awkwardness should be on the part of the White House officials that put him in that position rather than Dan Coats himself.

MELBER: You make a great point about the projection. He didn't play himself. He was played by his bosses who didn't do him the basic process of mentioning, as you say, a giant intelligence matter that was going to be announced.

David Priess and Michael Steele, thank you both.

Straight ahead, the feds call Carter Page an agent of a foreign power. Trump says it helps him. Chris Hayes is here to break it down in 30 seconds.


MELBER: The other top story tonight is unprecedented. This is the first time the U.S. government has ever released a secret foreign intelligence wiretap application heavily redacted as you can see but this four hundred pages of documents does shed some light on how the feds came to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Chris Hayes has been reporting on this story from the very start. He interviewed Carter Page about the ins and outs and is here live to tell us what we are learning. Here is the context. The new material debunked some of Donald Trump's attacks in this space showing the FBI first applied for a wiretap on Paige in October 2016 based on a suspicion he was an agent of a foreign power. The Kremlin conducting basically "targeted recruitment on him to undermine and influence the 2016 election."

So wow, the FBI appearing to play the collusion card saying it believes Russia had "coordinated with Paige and possibly others associated with the Trump campaign." Now, the courts have approved of this wiretap of Page so there isn't any public evidence that has shown any problem with the fact he was surveilled. That does not prove that he was a foreign agent or that he has done anything criminal but it does indicate several judges found there was good reason to investigate him. If you're keeping score, that means the new material does help some critics of the Trump campaign more than it helps Page who once told Chris Hayes he thought this moment today would somehow help him.


CARTER PAGE, FORMER ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I think when the truth comes out when Speaker Paul Ryan says the FISA warrant -- the details about the dodgy dossier and what happened in all these documents around that it's going to be released, that's what I'm really excited about. I think that the truth will set a lot of people free.


MELBER: Here is some of the truths.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes, redacted truth.

MELBER: Tell us.

HAYES: You know, there's a few key things here. One is that you got to take a step back for a second right? The entire chronology of the story about the origin of this and its centrality to the "witch hunt" makes no chronological sense. The investigation starts in summer, in July, this applications happens in October. So it just has never ever scanned that the origin story of what happened was the "dossier" was Carter page was FISA surveilled ever, ever, ever. The dates don't line up, right? So that becomes clear here. Second of all, there's -- the other thing that strikes me is think about the secrecy of this document and the explosiveness of it had any part of it made its way to the public in October of 2016. That part that you just read.

MELBER: Yes, it would have been terrible --

HAYES: We worry about Russians coordinating with Carter Page to subvert the election right? That was secret, it was kept secret, it should have been kept secret. The whole thing was run in secret. Carter Page has never been -- as you said he's never been formally accused of a crime. He's never been indicted. But again it's another indicator of the -- of the degree of alarm there was in a real-time while that campaign was happening, while we were getting news about what the Russians were doing that there was an active effort of collusion that was being actively investigated by the FBI and never ever, ever a peep was made in public or leaked any of it to the public.

MELBER: Well, something you've reported on for a long time is the weaponization and misuse of information laundered into conspiracy theory. We keep having these moments where rules are changed or broken, precedents broken to get something out. And then when it finally comes out --

HAYES: They say it's the opposite of what it is.

MELBER: It's either the opposite or they don't want to talk about it. Take a look at Sarah Huckabee Sanders for your analysis on this now that it's all out today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he concerned or does he not believe the Intelligence Community's that Carter Page was a Russian agent?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, I think that we've spoken extensively what our position is on this and we have no changes to that.


MELBER: Not exactly a victory lap.

HAYES: No, I mean, this has been -- here to the thing. There's been a pattern here where they attempt to attack and subvert the investigation into the possibility of collusion with a foreign adversary by pointing to some secret thing you can't see. It's like a neat narrative trick. Over there inside that box is a thing that shows it's all a deep state conspiracy. And then eventually the box gets opened up and it shows just the opposite and they maintained that it is justified what they did. Devin Nunes has done this time and time again. Carter Page who I think believes this is mild exculpatory believes that he's the subject of a vast conspiracy, we're sort of doing the same thing tonight.

MELBER: Did he text you that today?

HAYES: No, but he is very celebratory about this document of what it shows, as is Devin Nunes and as is the President even though what it shows is an incredibly rigorous process put into view to deal with what was at the time in real time an inordinately serious set of allegations they were investigating.

MELBER: Well, doesn't it show concrete evidence from multiple sources of a suspicion that he was either knowingly or unknowingly being abused by a foreign power and that's bad?

MELBER: And it's that latter part that's key here right? I mean, much of what is said in that application that we could read is about him being essentially recruited somewhat without his own knowledge into being an agent of a foreign power as they are trying to subvert this whole -- this election. There seems to be a lot of that right? There are attempts at a lot of recruitment, there's attempts a lot of reaching out, there's a lot of doors they're getting knocked down throughout that campaign, again, now that we know about which we didn't know about at the time.

MELBER: There's also the other aspect of this which is you know when people say play Freebird like we always go back to the classics, but you're here you've had some revelatory exchange let's play the Freebird which is Chris Hayes exchange with Carter Page.


HAYES: You told one reporter I had no meetings of the Russians and now you're telling me I had no meetings with the Russians about the things they were talking about. I'm just trying to get a straight answer like did you meet Sergey Kislyak in Cleveland, did you talk to him?

PAGE: I'm not going to deny that I talked with them.

HAYES: So you did talk to him.

PAGE: Although I will say -- I will say that I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland let's just say that.

HAYES: The only time that you met him was in Cleveland.

PAGE: What -- that I may have met him --


HAYES: This was -- this has been a Carter sort of lined throughout right? A kind of grudging and glancing admission that there were contacts with Russians and all sorts of contacts, there are always like there's just nothing. There are just nothing. Oh I just met him for five minutes or I met this person or met -- maybe I met this deputy of a Russian oil company --

MELBER: Or I'm going to read you the last line there because you know, you and I both like to see what witnesses say, "I may have met him possibly, I might have met him."

HAYES: Right. And this is -- and this is what happens time and time again. And I'm part of what I think is key to understand about this FISA application is he's having these brush ups and these interactions with various people. The Intelligence Community already is running surveillance on a lot of them on the other side. The reason there's an application on Carter is because he's an American citizen, you can't surveil an American citizen without going to the FISA Court but a Russian agent you can surveil. So they're looking at the other side of the context. They're looking at the -- what people are reporting back, right, in the interior of Russian intelligence about their contacts with this individual that is causing them in part to want to surveil him in the first place.

MELBER: Well, and that again goes to what might be some asymmetric information here which --

HAYES: That started the key to I think understanding this whole thing.

MELBER: Right. So the feds are all over it so, you know, to quote Shawn Carter, feds still lurking somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus still twerking and the feds have been lurking around all this. Chris Hayes, always a pleasure to have you tonight. Like any night, you should watch ALL IN but especially I'm interested to see how they report on the latest tonight. 8:00 p.m. as always, my special thanks to Chris Hayes. Up next, with Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick that actually should have happened in that unanimous decision forcing the release of the Nixon tapes. Quite startling, that's up next.


HAYES: Donald Trump's new Supreme Court pick could be the key to protecting the President from Bob Mueller and new documents show just how far that man Brett Kavanaugh could go in using legal powers to shield a sitting president. We are learning that if it were up to him, those famous Nixon Watergate tapes may have never come out, and Nixon, well that meant he could have been off the hook. Because Kavanaugh said in 1999 "maybe the Nixon case was wrongly decided which means he would have voted for Nixon and against the prosecutor at the time." This comes just days after a video came to light where Kavanaugh said he put a nail in the coffin of the very statute that subjects presidents to certain types of criminal probes.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, NOMINEE, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: It's been effectively overruled but I would -- I would put the final nail in the --


MELBER: Final nail in the coffin. He's also written that sitting presidents should be completely exempt from certain criminal probes and that the "indictment and trial of a sitting president would cripple the federal government." Kavanaugh apparently has the criteria of someone who would be legally loyal to the president, in this case, Donald Trump. Critics say this makes it look like he's a judge effectively built in a lab to insulate this president with his specific problems. And although Kavanaugh, a staunch conservative certainly has many political positions that Democrats have objected to, we are seeing that the threat he could pose to the resolution of the Mueller probe is what has many Democrats the most fired up.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Bob Mueller a consummate professional who should be allowed to finish this. My worry and the worry of others is that if go ahead with Kavanaugh to the supreme court, he could short-circuit this effort.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Judge Kavanagh's his background as a partisan political operative seems exactly like the kind of man President Trump would want on the Supreme Court if legal issues from the Mueller probe arise.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: He chose the one person that is written that he should have immunity from any investigation and from any kind of prosecution that might result. This to me --


MELBER: Democrats insisting Kavanaugh recuse himself from any Mueller cases in the future that could come before the court. And this is of course not the first time the question arose. President Nixon also believed that effectively a sitting president was above the law.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What in a sense you're saying is that there are certain situations and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them where the president can decide that it's in the best interest of the nation or something and do something illegal.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.


MELBER: That means it's an illegal or if there's no criminal probe there's no one to decide if it were illegal. Kavanaugh by questioning this decision that was by the way again unanimous to release those Nixon tapes is potentially significant. If that didn't happen, we might have never heard this.


H. R. HALDEMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: That the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters call Pat Gray and just say, stay the hell out of this.


MELBER: Stay the hell out of this. That is the kind of talk on tape that confirmed a presidential cover-up. Now we've had a lot of talk about tapes in the last few weeks. No one knows right now if there are truly pivotal tapes that could resolve the Russia probe but it is the Supreme Court that decides whether that kind of evidence sees the light of day and Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick is not exactly saying let there be light. Now up ahead, we turn to the stars of the new movie Blindspotting joining me to discuss police brutality and racial injustice and important conversation next.


MELBER: In the Trump era since 2017 there have been over 1,500 people killed by police. Here are some of the faces of those fatally shot. If political and media leaders may be paying less attention to this at times in the Trump era, some artists now on the case. A new film co-written by Rafael Casal and Hamilton star Daveed Diggs explores a chance encounter where an Oakland police officer shoots an unarmed black man in the back. This new film Blindspotting out in select theaters now. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop! Stop! Don't shoot. Don't shoot!


MELBER: Joining me now, the writers and stars and producers of this new movie Blindspotting which includes Daveed Diggs, a Tony and Grammy Award winner for his role of course in the Broadway hit Hamilton and Rafael Casal, Actor, Poet, and Oakland native. Thank you both for joining me. Let's start with why are you focusing on this story now?

DAVEED DIGGS, ACTOR: The truth of the matter is we've been focusing on this story for the last ten years. It took us a decade to get this film made and oftentimes we say that we wish it felt like a period piece that a lot of the things in it. It would be great if we could look at shootings like that and say oh man 2009 was rough you know, but we just saw the numbers right? These are things that keep happening.

MELBER: Police shootings are such a dividing line in our politics and for people who thought there was progress going into Donald Trump's Electoral College victory, he obviously activated a lot of people who want pushback.


JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We'll do our duty. I've done that as United States Attorney to prosecute police officers who do wrong but we need so far as we can in my view help police departments get better not diminish their effectiveness. And I'm afraid we've done some of that. So we're going to try to pull back on this and I don't think it's wrong or mean, or insensitive to civil rights or human rights.


MELBER: Should the Justice Department take sides of police before they've done the investigation of the tragedy?

DIGGS: Obviously not. And you'll see in the film. This isn't a film about demonizing police officers. We'd -- you know Ethan Embry plays the officer involved in this -- in this case and does a wonderful job of humanizing him. Our point here was to point out the effect of loss of life on a community right, and explore the complexity of that issue.

MELBER: I noticed you say loss of life. This movie doesn't take a position on whether that shooting was a murder?

DIGGS: I mean, that shooting was a murder. The -- from my perspective right? Acknowledging all of my blind spots, but I think there is a debate to be had in terms of the humanity of each person and of every person involved in the situation.

RAFAEL CASAL, ACTOR: Now we're in this polarized place where the idea of saying that black lives matter is inherently opposing the support of the police force and I think that idea of making A equal B takes away the complexity of the conversation. This movie is a very personal story about the people involved. But the most problematic elements of the film are the systemic things that are bothering all of the characters in different ways. If we hope for anything but people watching this story is that it's not so easy to pick a villain. That's too simple, that's too obvious that's too divisive.

MELBER: I want to play for you some of your colleagues from Hamilton when Mike Pence went to see the show, a lot of people thought that's great that he's seeing the show. Then he was booed by the audience, not by the actors, but let's take a look at this moment.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Truly we hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.


MELBER: What did you think of that moment? Why do you think so many political leaders and people who work in journalism and facts were so moved by Hamilton?

DIGGS: Well, I think there's a long-standing tradition in the theater of taking the opportunity of a lot of people being gathered in a space to say things that are important, that are important to a community.

MELBER: And in studying for that role, did you know previously that Thomas Jefferson was such an accomplished rapper?

DIGGS: I suspected because I read a ton of his writing. I hadn't heard any other recordings you know. I think most of them are lost or whatever.

MELBER: A lot of lost B-sides.

DIGGS: Yes. Really the battle is sort of really you know, they don't tape those things but --

MELBER: No they don't. Well, sometimes you don't know when the battle is going to pop up.

CASAL: Yes, yes. Not right now.

MELBER: I'm really happy to have both of you here and learn about what you're doing.

DIGGS: Thank you very much.

MELBER: Thank you both.


MELBER: That is our show on a busy night, but one more thing. You can never miss a BEAT if you check out our podcast. You look for that purple podcast icon on your iPhone screen, click on it, go to the search bar and put in THE BEAT with Ari Melber or just Melber and you'll see our show pop up. You can catch our exclusive extras as well as any night's show commercial-free. Now, that does it for us. I'll see you back tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Can he handle the truth? Let's play HARDBALL.


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