Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 3, 2018 Guest: Ted Lieu; Chai Komanduri; Stephanie Miller; John Podesta, Howard Dean, Sam Nunberg, Eddie Griffin, Joe Mande
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
Good evening, Ari. I owe you fifteen seconds.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I will give it back to you anytime. Thank you, Chuck.
We have a lot of news right now this Friday. Democrats with a new line of attack against Trump`s Supreme Court pick and one of the party`s leading strategists is here for his first appearance on THE BEAT. White House John Podesta.
Meanwhile, in the other side of the table, Sam Nunberg joins me live tonight to talk about a new civil, he says, is brewing inside Trump`s GOP.
And this is important, the United Nations taking on Donald Trump`s attacks on the free press.
But our top story is the closing circle of legal pressure on Donald Trump from key witnesses taking the stand in the Manafort trial. The news from Trump`s legal tormentor Michael Avenatti. He popped back up to discuss the DVD, he has long used to taunt the President without disclosing its content, now he is doing some breaking news of his own on who is in possession of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have anything else you can tell me about this DVD?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` ATTORNEY: As soon as we get it back from law enforcement, I will be happy to talk about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is new. The assertion that law enforcement are sufficiently interested in this DVD to be collected as evidence. Now we do not know, and this is important, if Avenatti is alleging there that it`s in the possession of federal law enforcement, which could mean Mueller or Cohen prosecutors in New York, or whether it is some other local case which quite frankly could be far less important.
Meanwhile, the other news tonight is that Mueller has completed interviews with another new Roger Stone associate, her name is Kristin Davis. Now, Stone says tonight that she knows nothing about alleged Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other impropriety alleged to the 2016 election.
Today also marks the end of the first week of the first case that Bob Mueller has ever taken to trial, which is kind of significant. When you think about it, Mueller putting his first cooperating witness on the stand against, yes, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and the accountant who worked with Manafort and now today provided more evidence of alleged fraud to this jury that will decide Manafort`s fate.
Prosecutors also say they are going to put their star witness on the stand who everyone has been gossiping about. That`s Manafort`s former deputy, Rick Gates. So he will be on the stand soon. And that is the first time America will hear from any Trump aide publicly implicating another Trump aide.
Now Manafort`s attorney is not only throwing the blame onto all of this, the right-hand man, they are trying to reverse what the culpability is and also say that Paul Manafort, who has sold his services to many people around the world as an expert, they are going to argue effectively Paul Manafort just didn`t know any better and was in over his head.
I`m joined now on set by California congressman Ted Lieu who is, of course, a member of the Judiciary Committee, Stephanie Miler, a radio talk show host and a political analyst, as well as Chai Komanduri, who has worked for the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
Congressman, this is a lot swirling around. What do you read in the tea leaves from the Manafort trial? And how do you think the White House is handling it? Because you and your colleagues have said some of the way the President`s responded this week adds to the obstruction against him.
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: That`s correct, Ari. And thanks for your question.
The walls are closing in on the President. Now, you have the Manafort trial going on. You have got Cohen with the tape and him potentially flipping. You also have a separate state investigation into the Trump foundation which could lead to criminal tax fraud issues. So that`s why we are seeing an increasing number of angry tweets by the President.
And when he bravely goes out and tells his attorney general to shut down the Mueller investigation, that`s obstruction of justice. And just because he does it in full public view doesn`t mean it`s not obstruction.
MELBER: Do you have any view as to why he did it that way? There`s a theory that we have been reporting on that it looks incriminating, which is why even his own lawyers denied what it was, this wasn`t an order when he said should stop now, but does he maybe know what Mueller has and is trying to sort of laundered and desensitize people to it by just doubling down on what any other President would see as obstruction, what Nixon said in private was not as bad as this.
LIEU: I think the President just doesn`t care with the law is. I think to him, it doesn`t matter if you publicly obstruct justice. And we saw this happen when he fired James Comey then went on TV a few days later and said the one thing his attorneys would have told him never to say, which is he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. I think the President just does not care. And that`s why we need to hold him accountable, flip the house in November.
MELBER: Chai, the congressman mentions the widening pressure in the Trump organization issues. You said that this is going to be -- if the Democrats get subpoena power, a bigger fight than even what we know now from Donald Trump because he won`t just be defending his presidency and legacy, he will be facing legal pressure on the Trump organization and his family`s future itself. What do you mean by that?
CHAITANYA KOMANDURI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, this is not just a fight for the political future of Donald Trump. This is a fight for his own personal future. This is not a midterm that we are going into where, you know, President Obama or President Bush is looking to pass legislation to advance their policy games.
Donald Trump is fighting for his own life. He is fighting for his family`s business. He is fighting for his legal future. Rudy Giuliani just did say that Robert Mueller could indict him after he leaves the presidency.
MELBER: Sure, and that`s legally true.
KOMANDURI: Yes. And he is fighting for his marriage. We know from the Cohen tapes perhaps that his prenuptial agreement is going to be in some trouble because of those revelations. So he will be fighting very vehemently. Because it`s not just his political future that`s on the line. It`s actually Donald Trump personally who is going to be on the line, the Trump brand, the Trump business, everything that Donald Trump has worked for for 70 years is potentially going to be decided in November because Democrats will gain subpoena power, they will gain --
MELBER: If they win, you are saying.
KOMANDURI: Yes. They will gain to go to have hearings. They will be able to look at those tax returns, look at those financial disclosure statements, have hearings into the Trump/Russia probe, strengthen the Mueller probe as opposed to allowing Trump to shut it down.
MELBER: And Stephanie, if you want to party like it`s 1999 for a second, let`s talk DVD evidence, not the usual format everyone`s familiar with. But Michael Avenatti made a lot of noise about this.
Not they tried to get more details from him on "The View." And he did something there that viewers of THE BEAT will recognize, which is just random flattery rather than completely providing all the details that journalists want. Take a look at Avenatti on "The View."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do they have anything to do with the DVD?
AVENATTI: Do they have anything to do with the DVD? That`s a really good question. You are a good questioner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As your attorney, you don`t have to answer that.
AVENATTI: Yes, I`m going to take a pass on that one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are going to take a pass on it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are?
AVENATTI: Thank you for the assist there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So he is only giving so much information there with Joy Behar and Sonny Hostin talking to him.
STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes.
MELBER: But what do you think is the significance that we are learning tonight that this Avenatti-related evidence is in the hand of some authorities?
MILLER: Well, I think the only thing that could be more damning on a DVD is more Rudy Giuliani appearances.
MELBER: You think it might be a DVD of Rudy Giuliani on FOX News.
MILLER: Let Me engage into random sluttery. You are not a great attorney, you are great on television, Rudy Giuliani is neither. And I have asked your opinion, legally, is he working for Mueller? Is he working for us?
MELBER: Is he on your side?
MILLER: Yes. I mean, I`m already a little bit -- I`m having a moment with Ted Lieu and subpoena power. That got me a little overly excited.
MELBER: Can we get a zoom in - you are having a moment. You are holding the congressman`s hand.
Congressman, you can move your hand anytime that you are uncomfortable.
MILLER: He won`t.
MELBER: I think that Rudy Giuliani part goes to - the more serious point that the congressman raised which is sometimes, Rudy Giuliani muddies everything up, whether that`s in their interest or not, other times, though, we see Rudy trying to fix the problems that his client creates. In other words, why is Rudy so messy? Well, he works for a really messy client.
LIEU: I actually think what Rudy Giuliani is trying to do is get in front of the American people with evidence that he knows that`s bad that`s going to come out in ways.
LIEU: Except he executes in a very bad way and he says things that are not true on national TV, then he has to ratchet that back, and then his client undercuts him. So I think Rudy Giuliani certainly has the right idea. He just doesn`t do it in the right way.
MILLER: But are we all falling for his trap? That`s what he is definitely to doing. He is throwing sand in the (INAUDIBLE). He has just throwing up as much confusion that we are all talking about that. rather than, you know, the important issues.
KOMANDURI: Well, I mean, he is really framing the midterm. The key theme of this midterm is going to be it`s going to be Trump`s interests, legal and financial, versus America`s. And Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump are saying choose my interests and not America`s.
MELBER: And Congressman, I want to play a bit of a fact check we have put together that shows some of the people who have an oath to the constitution who serve our national security in their own way, somewhat measured and not enough according to what you and others have called for, but in their own way seem to be putting out a flag that Donald Trump is hiding what happened in the Putin meeting, which is suspicious, that he is wrong about denying Russian attacks and saying they are an ongoing hoax given the intelligence and the midterms. And I want your view of that and also what is to be done about that since you`re in a coequal branch of government. Take a look?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. I had a great meeting. We got along really well. By the way, that`s a good way.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki.
TRUMP: Now, we are being hindered by the Russian hoax. It`s a hoax, OK.
coats: We acknowledge the threat. It is real. It is continuing. And we are doing everything we can.
TRUMP: I`ll tell you what, Russia`s very unhappy that Trump won. That I can tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you want President Trump to win?
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Yes, I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Yes, I did. Of course, the final answer from Putin. Those are a lot of facts that completely undercut the President`s claims.
LIEU: I served on active duty. I never thought I would see the American commander in chief go onto foreign soil and throw America under the bus the way he did. And That is why not only did you have Americans react, you had his own administration officials react. And you had Dan Coats, that same day, issue a press release that he didn`t clear with the White House basically saying, yes, the Russians hacked us in 2016 and they are going to do this again. And you see his own administration pushing back against the President. That`s actually good for what I believe is the America that I know, which is adhering to a law and making sure we stick with the facts.
MELBER: You put it starkly and you mention your own service. I wondered to some degree is this a sort of reverse Iraq war situation. Where you had a political White House putting pressure on the CIA to say the threat up from abroad may have been worse than it was to get what they want? Here as you just referred to, you have the people in intelligence saying there`s a real threat, whether or not what we do about it, go to war or a cyberwar, id s bigger question, but there is a very real threat that`s been documented by all these intelligence agencies and the Mueller indictments, and it`s oddly the President and the White House putting pressure on them to pretend there isn`t a problem, isn`t a threat.
LIEU: That`s a very good point. But I actually think really it is only Donald Trump that thinks there is no threat. And everybody else around him thinks that he`s talking crazy talk which is why you have his own administrative officials to hold a press conference this week telling the American people, yes, there`s a Russian threat. We are trying to take care of it. And our framers are very smart. They also allowed us to have 50 states, each with their secretary of state, and whether you are Republican or Democratic secretary of state, you don`t want your elections hacked. So we do have a lot of people working on this issue.
MELBER: Well, I think you make an important point. I mean, you are talking really about federalism and how elections are run in this country and there are pros and cons to that. But with regard to election security, it`s not all, as you say, run out of the White House. Maybe this is one of those days where going to the midterms, that is one silver lining.
Congressman Lieu, Stephanie Miller, Chai Komanduri, thanks to all of you for being part of this starting coverage here on a busy Friday.
Coming up, we have an interview live with the man at the heart of Democratic presidencies and campaigns for two decades, John Podesta is here. I`m also going to ask him about the Supreme Court and the midterms.
Also, signs of a new civil war inside the GOP, Donald Trump against the richest donors around. Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg is back.
And a Pulitzer prize winning journalist joins us tonight to talk about the U.N. clapping back against Donald trump`s attack on the free press.
Plus, if it is Friday, it is Fallback Friday. Eddie Griffin joins me tonight.
I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: I`m thrilled to be joined by a very special guest making his debut on THE BEAT tonight, John Podesta is one of the most experienced people in Democratic administrations. He ran a White House as Bill Clinton`s chief of staff, advised President Obama and of course chaired the Hillary Clinton campaign.
In fact, that harsh 2016 campaign made household names of both nominee`s chairs, this week, it is Trump`s former chair on trial for several felonies. While Podesta remains a victim in the related investigation into the Russian hacking. That new association, though, only comes after many years where Podesta was widely known in politics for being say center of every major battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am honored to name him today as the next White House chief of staff.
JOHN PODESTA: Working here means a great deal to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To deal with the possible impeachment hearings in Congress, the White House has put together a new crisis team led by deputy chief of staff John Podesta.
PODESTA: They want same office. They want to keep people in this job.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have also asked my counselor, John Podesta, to lead a comprehensive review of big data and privacy. My friend John Podesta ran my transition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to the Clinton headquarters. Listen. John Podesta has just walked in the room.
PODESTA: We are still counting votes, and every vote should count.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Today, Podesta is part of a Democratic vote counting operation for Trump`s controversial Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, insisting his records from the White House are a potential Pandora`s Box. The Senate must scrutinize the judge`s confirmation hearing could come in September. Basically, within weeks of the midterms, Democrats say its past time to go on offense.
First, let me welcome you, John, and say, you know, you look at the old footage, you are one of those people that looked older when you were young, and now you look a little young that you are older. I don`t know how you did it.
PODESTA: It`s a fountain of youth, Ari, and it`s good to be with you. And by the way, given that introduction, I have to say, I would rather be in this seat than Paul Manafort`s seat right now.
MELBER: Well, I think that`s true for most people. It`s a testament to what everyone knows was an unusually harsh foreign attacked wild 2016 campaign. And you and him are in very different situations.
I want to get to so many things including your view of the Mueller probe where you figure into. But I want to begin with something you have been leading on and what Democrats say is so important to the future of the nation and it sometimes gets wiped away by Trump drama.
You say that we don`t know enough about Brett Kavanaugh. You say they are being secretive about his record. Walk us through why that matters and what Democrats should do about it.
PODESTA: Look, Ari, he - Kavanaugh served in the White House as staff secretary. That was the first position I served in for President Clinton. Todd Stern, who succeed me in that job. And I wrote an op-ed piece in the "Washington Post" this week, noting that the Republicans are really trying to cover up his record there. They don`t want to go to the archives, look what advice he gave President Bush, calling him a traffic cop, a paper pusher, saying he didn`t create his own documents. And that`s nonsense.
The role of staff secretary is not well-known, but it`s a very important policymaking job. He was promoted from senior associate White House counsel into that job. He carried the very top title, assistant to the President in the White House. He was clearly a key policy adviser, at a time that President Bush was making important decisions around restricting abortion rights, trying to push for constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. He was there, being the last stop, really, on a series of signing statements that were very controversial, including on a bill that banned torture. He said that he was not involved in the legal advice that the administration had, the so-called Bibey memo, but we can`t know that unless we see those documents.
As Carl Rove noted, everything that had to do with policy passed through his hands. It was very common to write cover memos to express your own views. And it`s time, I think, that the Democrats demand to see those records as Republicans demanded to see Elena Kagan`s records when she served in the Clinton White House. That was appropriate then. I think it is appropriate now.
MELBER: Yes. And you mention at least three important issues there. I`ll tick them off, torture, abortion and gay marriage.
Starting with torture and the Bibey memo and the legal chicanery that went on, to try to support what was clearly ruled to be illegal interrogation and torture techniques. It is your view that he could have been a part of supporting that, and if he would support torture, what else would he support under Trump?
PODESTA: Well, it is clear that Trump signed legislation that banned torture. That was bipartisan legislation but said in the signing statement that if he believed that legislation was unconstitutional, he wouldn`t follow it. And Mr. Kavanaugh had the last stop on that signing statement, what his views that he expressed to the President in terms of his constitutional authority were. I think it is fair game for the senate. They ought to know the answer to that question.
MELBER: Just to b e clear - I just want to be clear, you are saying that in that role your concern is that he was sort of the last legal line and that he cracked the door open to more potential torture in the way that he worked in the White House? Is that what you are saying?
PODESTA: I`m saying that unless you see those documents, you don`t know the answer to that question.
MELBER: Got it.
PODESTA: And so, that`s why it`s so important to be able to access those documents. We do know, though, Ari, that he`s a -- he is a very strong proponent of strong executive power, and he has written and spoken extensively about both his experiences investigating a sitting President, that was President Clinton, and then subsequently his change of heart about that and the notion that no sitting President should be forced to answer subpoenas. He`s gone so far as to suggest that even the unanimous decision, U.S. v. Nixon was wrongly decided.
And so, we know that after pursuing President Clinton during the Starr investigation, he had a change of heart once he went to work for President Bush and subsequently. So, I think those are --
MELBER: Let me ask you, sir. Is that the core - let me ask you. Is that the core, then, of where Democrats are going with this, not that he is a traditional Republican appointee that may do things that shock many people, most women in America would be against overturning Roe, as well as a lot of other people, but not so much only that, but you and the Democrats are basically saying this person was picked by Trump to protect Trump, that he is part of a softer type of obstruction? Are you prepared to go that far?
PODESTA: I think we have to -- you know, I think we have to examine his record and look at the context. President Trump and Mr. Giuliani have said he is going to decide whether to force a subpoena for Mr. Mueller or whether he`s going to voluntarily testify. That`s a decision that could easily go to the Supreme Court.
Mr. Kavanaugh expressed his views already on that subject matter and saying that the President shouldn`t be forced to answer subpoenas. And so, you know, you never know what`s in Donald Trump`s mind. But you have to know that he knew that Kavanaugh was someone who wanted to protect the President in a context he finds himself in.
And think of the constitutional crisis we would be in if he was the deciding vote in a constitutional crisis where Mr. Mueller actually issued a subpoena and the White House and Donald Trump refused to comply with it. I think it is a context for this nomination. I`m not casting aspersions on the integrity of Mr. Kavanaugh. But he has well expressed views here. And there is a context on - his appointment to the seat. And so, I think Democrats really need to examine what he intends to do if, you know, faced with that choice.
MELBER: Right. And I understand how precisely measured you are being while raising the fact that this is not a drill, we are dealing with a President who seems to delight in breaking things. And the question of whether Mueller can put him in the grand jury box if he won`t do the interview, unlike the Clinton example where it was negotiated out, may go all the way to the Supreme Court. I mean, I think you are saying something that our viewers know is a very real possibility in the near term.
Speaking of the Mueller probe, I want to get to that. I want to play for you Donald Trump who did promise to come out with all of this dirt on your side. And as with all things in politics, rough and dirty is fine. Illegal or foreign is not. Look at that moment. And then we`ll ask you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week. And we`re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you`re going to find it very informative, and very, very interesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was hours after Donald Trump Jr. confirmed the Trump tower meeting. The President`s former lawyer Michael Cohen now says Donald Trump knew about it. Can you shed any light on that based on what you experienced then being on the other side of it and what you have learned pursuant to the probe? Because witnesses and victims are free to talk in public. Do you think there is reason to credibly believe that Donald Trump was in on that from the beginning? And if so, is that an election conspiracy?
PODESTA: Well, Mr. Trump says he wasn`t, but he has no credibility because he lies all the time. Mr. Cohen says he knew about this meeting. Clearly the meeting was set up with the promise of delivering dirt from the Russians on secretary Clinton. That`s -- they encouraged it. They suggested the timing of it. Mr. Trump now says he didn`t know about it. I don`t -- you know, I think he has very limited credibility. The one thing we do know that as a result of the most recent Mueller indictments of the Russian actors who hacked the DNC, hacked my personal email account, hack other individuals in the Clinton campaign, was they got very active after Mr. Trump stood on the stage and said, please, you know, after they were accused and really known to be hacking the DNC, Mr. Trump stood on the stage and said please hack secretary Clinton`s e-mails. People were aghast by that and suggested that that was, in fact, treasonous at the time. But now we know that the Russians were listening to him.
MELBER: They acted that night.
PODESTA: They increased their activity that very night. And so --
MELBER: On that point, is sir, when you were inside that campaign that night, the next day, did you think that as rhetoric, or did you think that, wow, he is asking other people to commit crimes against us, what do we do about it?
PODESTA: I think it was the latter. I think that the - you know, we kept trying to call out, and secretary Clinton very early in the process during the -- really during the primaries suggested that Mr. Trump had definitely unusual views about the U.S./Russian bilateral relationship and had adopted policies that were more in keeping with President Putin`s view than the bipartisan view here.
But as time went on we kept calling attention to the press. I think the press covered it to some extent but didn`t take it very seriously. We now know this was a serious incursion filled with criminal activity against our democracy.
MELBER: And on that, I`m over time. But you make one more --
PODESTA: You saw Mr. Trump last night still call it a hoax.
MELBER: Right. You make one more important point. I want you brief piece on this because we don`t want to exempt ourselves from the issues. The way that the press covered it then doesn`t look good in the benefit of hindsight. Do you think that was largely because people didn`t get the magnitude of what Russia was doing or because there was a false sense that Trump was going to lose anyway and a kind of antipathy towards Clinton and do you think that biased it?
PODESTA: I think, quite frankly, I think a little bit of both. I mean, it`s a complicated story, it is a harder story to tell, but it was a story that, in my view, was as important as the Watergate burglary. This was an incursion, it was a criminal -- as I said, criminal activities. I was the victim of one of those crimes and the press sort of thought it was, you know, an interesting political story. But didn`t take it with the seriousness that certainly post-election, and now that we know what we know from the intelligence community sources, was, you know, a much more serious attack on our democracy.
And, you know, look, that`s -- that`s spilt milk. I think that right now what`s important is to get all the facts out, to protect the Mueller investigation, to make sure that, you know, I don`t know what he`s going to do ultimately with Mr. Trump or some of his associates. But he is clearly gotten guilty pleas from his national security adviser, from his deputy campaign manager, from senior officials in his campaign. We know that they had more than 80 meetings with Russian sources that -- excuse me, they had more than 80 contacts with Russian sources, more than 20 meetings with Russian actors. So I leave it up to Mr. Mueller. But I think that he`s conducted this professionally, quietly, and we will see where it lands.
MELBER: John Podesta, you seem to know a lot because you have done a lot. I appreciate you coming on THE BEAT. I hope you will come back.
PODESTA: OK. Thanks, Ari. Be happy to.
MELBER: OK. Thank you, sir.
Up ahead, Sam Nunberg it her live to talk about the big new fight over money and politics and Tru9mps. And that is when we are back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: The other top story tonight is one you may not have heard as much about but boy does it matter, an unusual battle within conservative politics. This is Trump versus the Koch Brothers who impact many races with their huge funding operation. They`ve spent half a billion dollars since 2012. Now one of their aides clapping back at what they call Trump`s divisiveness and lack of leadership and it`s not just talk, the Kochs also even breaking with their usual Republican endorsements to boost a Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and their new video opposes Trump`s trade policies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES KOCH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, KOCH INDUSTRIES: We`re seeing a rise in protectionism. They`re doing whatever they can to close themselves off from the new. This is a natural tendency but it`s a destructive form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Everything is personal with Trump so he took this critique which is basically about policy and his actual governance as some kind of breach of friendship and now he`s calling them a joke. This feud did start back during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was surprised because I thought I was friends with Koch brothers I thought I was their friend. The reason they want to not have me get elected is that I know the game better than any of them know it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is it possible another Clinton could be better than another Republican?
KOCH: Is it`s possible, it`s possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "It`s possible" is not something Trump ever wanted to hear. Now on the Left Democrats have long talked about the corrosive influence of money in politics generally and the specific way that groups like the Kochs Democrats say have been the astroturf under the Tea Party movement for their own separate economic goals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: The Tea Party was essentially funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers family.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, DNC: What you see is the slow erosion of American democracy. These people are doing these things that Koch Brothers -- they don`t really fundamentally believe in democracy. I think the Koch Brothers are a danger to America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by the man you just heard former Vermont Governor and DNC Chair Howard Dean as well as former Trump Campaign Aide Sam Nunberg, now a Senior Advisor to Steve Bannon who`s also been critical of the Kochs, an important conversation, and an intramural feud. Howard you`ve been on this for a while, how do you view what`s happening now including that rare sliver where you and the Kochs might overlap because I think you also are supporting Democrat Senator Heitkamp re-election.
DEAN: Yes, to be honest with you I don`t pay a lot of attention to the Kochs. I really truly do believe they do not care about democracy nor do I believe the five Supreme Court Justice who voted to undermine Citizens United care about democracy. Our country is corrupted by big money and the Kochs of the biggest of the big money so you know, I really don`t pay attention to what they`re doing other than a watch out because they do a lot of things that are not too honest and I`m not certainly not going to take sides. I think Heidi Heitkamp has been a fantastic Senator. I have no idea why the Kochs are supporting her but I think she ought to be reelected.
MELBER: Well, sir, I`ll push you a little before I go to Sam. You`ve paid enough attention to them to call them out and they`re spending hundreds of millions so I take your point that they`re in the background but isn`t part of the critique that you`ve been advancing for years that this is a problem they`re in the background. I suppose now it`s interesting that they`re trying to claim they`re some third way or third lane in Trump conservatism.
DEAN: Well, they`re -- you know, there`s nothing conservative about the Kochs. What the Kochs do is what`s good for the Kochs period. End of discussion. So you know, there`s not much I can do to fight somebody who spends 80 gazillion dollars on politics except to publicly say that they should be discredited, they should not be taken seriously, they have no fundamentalist interest in the future of our country except as it applies to their wallets.
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER AIDE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I agree with everything Governor Dean said basically. If you look at this the Kochs are coming out against this president because they don`t like his trade policies. That is the sole reason. And to go with exactly what Governor Dean said it`s saying that the Kochs only care about their bottom line in their pocket, can you ask, I can`t wonder what else they could have gotten from this president. They got a tax cut which I can assure you raised my taxes. They`ve got in all these regulations cut and because some of the profits go because the President is trying to reset the trade balance, whether or not they agree with it or not is what he was elected, they`ve decided to come out and say we don`t support this president. We`re not going to necessarily support Republicans in this midterm. And vis a vis this midterm, Ari, is you know because you cover it every night, this midterm is going to decide basically control of whether or not this president is going to be impeached because there`s going to be --
MELBER: Well, I thought you`re going to say subpoena power. I mean you don`t know, no one knows what the devils will do with subpoena power or what they`ll find.
NUNBERG: OK, well then it certainly is going to control the House is certainly going to control subpoena power and oversight and this White House will be greatly affected so the Kochs will certainly not have the type of White House that would be able to function properly if they really did care about libertarian values. So with that said this really shows what people like Steve Bannon and others and Trump was arguing, and I can tell you this was one of the things we talked about early on with Trump was how the Koch Brothers one, we`re going to go against him, but number two that the base of the Republican Party much like the base of a Democrat Party on the other side does not like this big-money. The Kochs are whining because they don`t like the President`s trade policies.
MELBER: So let me go to you Sam and then -- and then Howard, there does seem to be some overlap of agreement and I think a lot of people would not expect that from both of you b ut what you`re both getting at is the idea - - we showed the videos, we showed the Kochs and by the way they`re welcome to come on THE BEAT any time -- their argument is that they are ideological on the right and that`s why they do things. Viewers have just heard Governor Dean and now you Sam say that`s not true. They are just a corporate entity that is just doing what`s good for their bottom line but that doesn`t sound good in politics so they`ve built a faux or fake conservatism around that, a veritable candy shell when the real action is in the -- in the caramel center where all the money is being made and I know Sam that that`s the kind of analogy that you and I can relate to because I know you like that green room candy that I do. Is that right? Speak to that and then Howard afterward.
NUNBERG: Well, when you showed their ad, their ad was concerned with one issue. The issue was protectionism. So when the President is in a trade war right now he is in a trade war particularly with China, if you look at the Kochs supply line on energy, they can get hit on both sides vis a vis the tariffs that China puts on their imports and the tariffs that the President is going to put on Chinese imports. And this goes to once again, it goes to big money in politics. And what I would say is what have the Kochs not gotten policy- wise from this president that they could argue about. So now they`re going to pretend as if this is ideological, they`re basically acting like gluttonous pigs.
DEAN: You know, I think Trump is wrong about protectionism. This is a mistake. It`s going to catch up with this. It`s going to eventually undo a great economic expansion that we`ve had since 2009. So you know, the merits of the argument may be with the Kochs but the problem is the Kochs have no respect among people who think about the future of America at all. They`ve tried to buy their way into respectability by donating huge amounts of money to various causes some of which are good. I happen to like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where you get a ton of money from the Koch Brothers. So the best thing to do is ignore the Koch Brothers in the sense that don`t pay attention to what their motives are. It`s where I do agree with Sam, their motives are to get more money for themselves. Do pay attention to the damage they`re doing to the United States of America.
DEAN: We truly need -- one of the reasons I think Brett Kavanaugh is a terrible idea for justices we have got to undo Citizens United. The only way to do that is to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh will vote in the wrong way on that issue. Now that is a vote in favor of corruption of the United States government and democratic processes.
MELBER: All right, let me tell you this, Sam, because I`m almost out of time. I did want to get your reaction to it. Your former mentor Roger Stone speaking out tonight and one of his associates going into the Mueller grand jury box, do you think that Roger is playing this right and do you think that he faces any vulnerability as a potential target here?
NUNBERG: Well, look, as said Roger is a critical piece for Mueller`s narrative. This is my view to set up let`s say the Watergate narrative where you have all these associates vis a vis near the president making this as if this break-in which is now the Russian hacking involved or was connected to the President. What they are doing is they`re going into Roger`s personal finances and so what I think when Roger is indicted, unfortunately, I don`t support it you`ll have some --
MELBER: You expect him to be indicted.
NUNBERG: Yes, I do and you`re going to have some broad charge that he was part of a conspiracy to defraud America then backed up with a bunch of financial charges. And this would not have happened but for this special counsel. I -- let`s see what happens. I hold that -- with that said, I hope that Andrew Miller continues to fight the decision he got all the way up to the Supreme Court because it`s a very important decision about whether or not the Special Counsel`s office violates the appointments cause. I believe it does.
MELBER: Sam Nunberg and Howard Dean, a rare point of agreement and keeping it real on a lot of different topics. I appreciate you joining me tonight. Up ahead, we`ve got a couple things. One, the U.N. condemning Donald Trump`s approach to the Free Press and comedy legend Eddie Griffin is here for a very special "FALLBACK FRIDAY" along with Joe Mande
MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means. It is time to fall back. I am joined by a comedy legend Eddie Griffin. He`s done it all from Def Comedy Jam to Comedy Central`s list of a hundred greatest stand-ups of all time. He`s also been on the silver screen in Undercover Brother where he played a secret agent
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Opps.
EDDIE GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: You mess with the fro, you got to go.
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MELBER: Don`t mess with the fro. Speaking of fro is Joe Mande, sporting a little --
JOE MANDE, COMEDIAN: I could I could grow it out.
MELBER: What do they call that?
MANDE: A Jew-fro.
MELBER: They call that a Jew-fro. (INAUDIBLE) good place. He also has a Netflix special that covers all sorts of things like Trump dating and how you liked being misidentified one time. Let`s take a look.
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MANDE: And then everyone will say, yes, I thought you were like a light- skinned black guy and I looked her I was like Ayesha for real? That`s the nicest thing anyone that`s ever said to me. Now saying I`m a 33-year-old Jewish man, that`s all I`ve ever wanted in my life.
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MELBER: Oh, it`s great to have you both. Eddie, I know it`s bright in the studio so I`m glad you got the glasses on.
GRIFFIN: Yes, man. You think it`s lit up over here,
MELBER: Well, it`s lit.
GRIFFIN: There it is.
MELBER: All right, let me ask you this who -- oh they came off -- who in your view needs to fall back this week, sir?
GRIFFIN: In my view, I think we need to have E.A. Sports and John Madden`s game fall back. You know, I don`t know how you try to erase one of the best football quarterbacks of the 90s and 2000`s from history, you know what I mean? How you going to take his name out of a rap song just for a video game just because you don`t like his protest?
MELBER: So this is basically the game had him in there from a Big Sean lyric. Everyone knows what Kaepernick has said and done and people can debate it but these folks making the game just want to disappear him?
GRIFFIN: Basically, you know, if they don`t like you know -- Americans had a history of erasing you from history, you know what I mean? If you`re not down with the program but they trying to program into the set of battle cortex out of public, then you know it comes the eraser with the number two pills like you never existed.
MELBER: It`s a good one. In fact, Joe, I don`t know that you`re going to have as good an idea as that one but I want to ask you what needs to fall back?
MANDE: I think we need to have QAnon fall back.
MELBER: Go on.
MANDE: QAnon, yes, it`s a conspiracy cults that is gaining steam within like Trump MAGA world. I guess what it is they`re convinced that there is a top secret agent with security clearance that`s leaving these what they call crumbs on racist message boards and exposing the truth about who`s keeping Trump from implementing the policies they want.
MELBER: Do you think and I hate to ask this but it comes up so much. Are they in on it and trolling everyone because there`s all those weird Reddit (INAUDIBLE) type groups that are like you want to make jokes out of everything or is this a true bonafide conspiracies?
MANDE: It`s a good question because you know, to believe it you have to believe in the deep state which is already what but then Q is a member of the deep state within the deep state you know. So it`s like Republican insects --
MELBER: But you`re in charge. You`re in control.
MANDE: Yes -- well that`s -- OK, well, I mean, I don`t want to like break news on your show but I`ll do it right now. I am -- I am Q.
MELBER: You`re Q?
MANDE: I am Q and QAnon is my rap name and the posts, the crumbs were just us testing out lyrics and people just ran with it in a completely different way and it`s gotten out of hand so I`m stopping here right now.
GRIFFIN: I think Q -- I think Q is actually sunny delight also known as our president. I think the orange man who likes to tweet is Q and said not his own crumbs. It is a cup of Qs.
MELBER: I was -- so it`s Sunny D. I don`t know that nickname. I just think of imitation orange juice when you say Sunny D, that`s your affectionate name.
GRIFFIN: Oh no. I just gave that -- I gave -- that`s the name I gave him, Sunny D. And his hair looks like you spent a weekend at R. Kelly`s house doing one of those wet parties.
MELBER: I`ll tell you what, I`m going to -- I`m going to move things forward and ask you who else needs to fall back this week?
GRIFFIN: Who else needs to fall back? Let`s see. You know, I think that you know, white supremists need to fall back. Your insecurity of the somehow the black and brown people are the reason that you`re broke in your trailer park is not running, yes, I just think you just need to fall back and just get in where you fit in. You know, it is a free country. You can go out there and educate yourself and work hard. Don`t be mad at Mexicans having a job because you don`t want to work.
MELBER: White supremacy falling back I think is a fine one any week, Joe. Do you have a final fall back before we go.
MANDE: Mine is sort of related. I was going to tell Sebastian Gorka to fall back.
MELBER: He was a guest on this show the first night we launched.
MANDE: Oh, congrats.
MELBER: Sebastian Gorka, yes.
MANDE: Yes, cool guy.
MELBER: He no longer is in the White House but was saying this thing.
MANDE: Yes, he said that Russell Crowe should play him in a movie if Russell Crowe lost weight. That is not OK. I mean, how dare he? How dare he?
MELBER: How dare he? I have a "FALLBACK" real quick which is there was a zoo that couldn`t afford a zebras and we`ll put this up on the screen so they started painting donkeys to look like zebras and while I understand how you could come up with that idea, I`m telling that zoo to fall back. I`m also awarding them the first donkey of the day from THE BEAT. There is the donkey-zebra. We wanted to start with conspiracy theories and end with that and I`ll say it doesn`t happen anywhere else. Eddie and Joe, thank you for a unique segment on television. Also, you can check out Joe`s upcoming tour, We Live In Hell.
MANDE: We Live In Hell, but --
MELBER: We Live In Hell?
GRIFFIN: Where`s Peter when you need a foot it`s evil.
MELBER: And Eddie`s new comedy special Undeniable is out internationally today. Up ahead we will take a turn to an important story.
GRIFFIN: We are on demand tonight.
MELBER: On demands, you got it. Up next, the U.N. has a word for Donald Trump when we`re back.
MELBER: This is unusual and important. Human rights expert with the United Nations warning that the U.S. President`s attacks on the Free Press have become dangerous.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to discover the source of the division in our country look no further than the fake news and crooked media. These are sick people. But they can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake, disgusting news. And even these people back here, these horrible horrendous people.
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MELBER: United Nations experts write that this could have long-term negative implications and they raise the fact that the President`s conduct may increase the threat of violence. We`ll be right back.
MELBER: It may have felt longer than an hour but that is our show. Thanks for watching. Also a programming note, I will be in for Rachel Maddow tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. But don`t go anywhere right now because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
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