Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 8, 2018 Guest: Elie Honig, Lachlan Markay, Mimi Rocah, Joyce Vance, Randy Credico
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
And I know everyone is a subscriber to the full season pass of Ari. Hello, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Full season pass. And we hope we are worth a little more than what we cost. That`s all we hope.
MELBER: Thank you, Chuck.
We are reporting several big stories tonight. There are more tapes. This bombshell report that Omarosa, the reality show star, secretly tape recorded Donald Trump himself inside the White House. Interesting. The reporter who broke that story joins me live tonight.
Also the political world is waiting to hear from a newly indicted Republican official. Not the Mueller probe, this is congressman Chris Collins charged for insider trading. He is going to speak for the first time since getting charged and we are going to bring that to you live in our hour.
Also, the Russia probe turning to WikiLeaks. Senators demanding Julian Assange testify. His closest associate inside the U.S. live on THE BEAT as well to discuss tonight.
So we have a lot of great guests, but we begin with a fight brewing here that is at the heart of the Mueller probe. New demands that Donald Trump sit for an interrogation under oath and new pushback from his lawyers. Now, this story is in some sense familiar because the legal wrangling has been intensifying and building for months. This story is also pivotal because any potential collusion or obstruction case against Trump requires more than evidence of just what happened.
We all know by now that Trump fired Comey, tried to fire Mueller, demanded Sessions take over the probe despite recusal, got the deputy FBI director ousted, and that any one of those actions could potentially constitute obstruction.
But Mueller needs more than that. What he would have to prove ultimately is also what`s on Trump`s mind when he did it. And for all the political and leadership criticisms for this President that we know about, let`s be clear and fair. Anger, ego, incompetence, that`s not enough.
The higher bar here is corrupt intent in a person`s mind. So Mueller is saying, like any careful prosecutor, he must question Trump before he can conclude his work. And tonight Trump`s lawyers are leaking their new ongoing negotiations with Mueller to show that as of tonight, they are not accepting this full interview yet.
So they are using two tactics. Leaking information with their new letter to Mueller about a kind of a narrower counteroffer, and also talking to each other, these lawyers, in a radio call-in show, an appearance that can only be described as another bizarre chapter in one of the most bizarre live action legal defenses of a President in our history.
We give you the unusual scene this morning. Rudy Giuliani joining Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow on Sekulow`s radio show where they also took questions from listeners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a deadline that you are trying to hit in responding to the special counsel?
JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: Look, we don`t have an internal deadline. Mayor, I know you have said and I have said we want to see this come to closure soon here. Mayor?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: Yes, we do. Yes, it`s about time that it ends. We do not want to run into the November elections. So back up from that. This should be over with by September 1st.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Trump`s lawyers, using their public profiles on a radio show to leak their negotiations in real-time and create more media content. That is what`s happening right now. Now here was their discussion of the big enchilada, the Trump interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: If there`s going to be an interview, let`s have it. He`s got all the information he needs. The interview will provide nothing in addition to what he already has. So he can write his report. We have been willing to say here`s the answer he will give and we`ll be stuck with it.
SEKULOW: And of course the question will be, look, we have an ongoing dialogue with the office of special counsel in a professional manner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It went on like that. We try to be as fair as possible here, but what I`m about to say does sound negative about Mr. Giuliani. The fact is he is a former federal prosecutor. When he claims a prosecutor does not need to interview key subjects of a probe under oath, he knows he`s not telling the truth. He knows that`s absurd, and he knows there must be some other reason they want to shield their client, Donald Trump, from going in and telling the truth about what he did or didn`t do.
Now, this isn`t exactly a spoiler, but Bob Mueller doesn`t do radio call-in shows so he won`t be leaking in real-time his response to what looks like an escalation in these negotiations. But we do know if Mueller terms as a legal matter that this interview is necessary and the White House won`t provide it at the scope that he believes is legally required, Mueller has the option of taking this President to court, a fight that all expect would go all the way up to the Supreme Court where Trump is currently trying to install a hand-picked judge known for his skepticism of the power of prosecutors like Bob Mueller.
So let`s get to it. I`m joined by Elie Honig, former assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York where many of these cases have been, Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor as well and Mike Lupica, longtime columnist for "The New York Daily News," MSNBC contributor and budding wrap aficionado.
Elie, I will begin with you. You have tried many cases and been around many cases. Have you ever seen live leaks of interview negotiations on a call-in show?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: No, I`ve never seen anything like it. And I think what`s happening, Ari, is there`s a chess game that is getting under way. And the first move is Rudy Giuliani making these demands on conditions for an interview that are really just outrageous. He wants written questions.
I have done hundreds of witness interviews. I have never once submitted a written question. It defeats the whole purpose. You need to size the person up. You don`t just want their lawyer to turn out some lawyerly response. You know, certain areas are out of bounds.
MELBER: Well, in a lot of cases there`s what`s called interrogatories which are the kind of low stakes written question thing that nobody considers as serious as a real interview.
HONIG: Exactly, they are formalities. It`s no substitute for sitting across from someone and sizing them up.
MELBER: And I believe, Mike Lupica, if you could work on a lyric about interrogatories, you have one minute. You get a minute. No, you work on it. I`m coming to you in a minute. I just want to give you a heads-up.
MIKE LUPICA, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: No, no.
MELBER: No, no. Wait for it. Eli, continue.
LUPICA: I`m ready.
HONIG: So I don`t think Mueller is going to agree. Mueller has been at this longer than me. And if Mueller doesn`t agree, you know, the thing that Giuliani knows full well from being a prosecutor is Mueller has the leverage here. And if Mueller doesn`t like the terms, He will hit him with a subpoena. And then, as you said, we are in courts.
And here is where I think the play is in doing this silly radio staged show today. If it goes to the courts, it`s going to drag on up to and through the midterms. And I think that the purpose of today`s show was to allow Giuliani to say, see, we wanted to do this but Mueller took us to court and he`s politicizing this right before the midterms.
MELBER: Well, and I want to be clear. You are suggesting that Jay Sekulow live has a purpose. I don`t know that we have been able to confirm that yet, Mike Lupica. I don`t know that that radio show generally has a purpose or not, all respect given.
I want to play a little bit more from, again, the bizarre interactions on this show with callers and then your response, Mike. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The taxpayers have been paying for this so-called special investigation that is clearly biased against our President.
GIULIANI: I have never heard of a case run by an FBI agent who displayed hatred for the person that he was looking at. Mueller didn`t find out about it, it had to be presented to him. And then he stayed with the FBI for another year. It`s ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mike, beyond the evident catharsis of screened callers agreeing with the President`s lawyers, what do you make of this bizarre scene?
LUPICA: You know, Ari, I used to do a radio show in sports. And I took those kind of calls. But those calls are making -- look serious compared to what we heard today.
And with all due respect, I don`t think this is a chess game. This is a three-card Monte game that these geniuses who represent Trump are engaged in. But I -- you know, the prosecutors and the former prosecutors know far better than I, I have believed from the start that there`s a better chance that I`m going to be interviewed by Robert Mueller than Trump ever will be.
Let me just say this because I have asked you this question before. If this is a rigged witch hunt, if this is all made up, if there`s no collusion, if there`s no obstruction, why wouldn`t this President be running to have a meeting with Robert Mueller and clear his name?
MELBER: Well, I think that`s a great question.
And Joyce, there`s been a lot of leaking from the White House saying the President secretly wants to do it and he is being held back. This is sort of the person at the bar except it`s at Mueller`s office.
Hold me back, hold me back, I really want to fight. And sometimes people asking to be held back don`t want to fight. And the fight with words sitting down under oath with bob Mueller is not a problem if you don`t necessarily have anything to hide and you can carefully accurately answer questions.
As for where it all leads, Joyce, we did a little digging and want to show, all jokes aside about the call-in show, we are headed towards a potential real inter-branch conflict. The last time this escalated, it didn`t go all the way to the court because Bill Clinton did back down under subpoena. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President has been subpoenaed by the independent counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His lawyers back in Washington were preparing to negotiate with independent counsel Kenneth Starr for his testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s said to be insisting on the right to question the President in person.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President will testify about his relationship with a former intern under oath and on tape for the grand jury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So interesting to remember and I think important to remember that every version that we have of what Mueller wants in this regard comes from Rudy Giuliani or other members of the President`s team.
Robert Mueller isn`t telling us whether or not he wants to interview the President nor has he revealed his hand as to whether he might use a subpoena if the President doesn`t agree to one. And I think it`s really important for us to remember that, because federal prosecutors very often don`t get to interview targets or even subjects in cases.
But back to the point that you make, Ari, it`s very telling when an individual doesn`t want to be interviewed voluntarily, particularly when they are maintaining their innocence and saying that they`re merely a witness in the case, no obstruction, no collusion. Well, if not, why not go ahead and submit to the interview. It`s only a perjury trap if you intend to lie, after all.
HONIG: Yes, I agree. Look, there`s a very easy way to avoid a perjury trap, which is don`t commit perjury.
I mean, I don`t think Mueller is going to walk away, I really don`t. There`s already been reporting that he intends to do this interview. He needs to do this interview for the reasons you said. Trump has stated his intent every which way. He`s taken both sides, five sides of every issue, so he needs to be pinned down and put on record in a way he can`t squirm away from. And the only real way to do that is by an interview or in the grand jury.
MELBER: Right. I want to revisit some of the questions here, Joyce, that did leak, as you say from the White House side but were fact checked by "The New York Times" and special counsel didn`t object to these as being on the money.
When did you become aware of that Trump tower meeting? The discussions about any of these meetings with Putin. The knowledge or outreach including Manafort, of course who is on trial right now, to Russia about this assistance to the campaign and then of course communications between Roger Stone, associates, Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks. Fascinating that last bullet because we are covering whether Assange himself will speak out in any capacity.
There`s a lot of legal reasons, as you know, to be dubious about charging websites, publishers or platforms in the United States. That`s not typically done. But what does that line of questioning tell you and Roger Stone also potentially be risky for the President?
VANCE: Mueller is clearly looking at both obstruction of justice but also still at what we have come to call collusion, this idea of conspiracy to defraud the United States. And it looks from this list of questions like the President is either to believe to be either a very central witness or perhaps a subject or a target.
Of course we all know that Mueller won`t really indict the President, but he could write a very damaging report that would go up to the hill discussing the President`s participation in all of these efforts vis-a-vis Russia. And if this reporting is in fact correct and these are the topics that Mueller wants to question the President about, he is seeking to answer these fundamental questions of what did the President know, when did he know it and what did he do? And that makes it look like the President is a target more than anything else.
MELBER: Right. And that`s what we keep going back to is what is his exposure. And if the lawyers want to take the position that is a potential target who needs Fifth Amendment or other types of protection, they could take that. Instead they are clearly baiting Mueller along, saying this is taking too long, while they won`t make the move that will decide whether it`s going to go to court or not.
Mike, did you have any lyrics before we go?
LUPICA: Well, I was just thinking that Trump is probably in a Kendrick Lamar situation. All we ask is trust, all we got is us. But then you see those two lawyers on the radio show and you think if that`s the quality of the defense, he might be screwed.
HONIG: I`m going a little older than Mr. Lupica. I`m going to go with don`t ask why, I have got my own reasons. Tribe called quest.
MELBER: Wow. That by the first tribe bars on THE BEAST. I was think we all talk more about tapes, more vintage 50 cent. I do what I want, I don`t care if I get caught, the D.A. can play this tape in court. And if you rap it right court and caught actually rhyme. I just - I don`t have that level of skill.
My special thanks to former federal prosecutor Elie Honig. Joyce and Mike stay with me for another developing story.
Coming up, as we mention, the tapes, Omarosa recording Trump inside the White House. The reporter who broke the story is on THE BEAT.
Also the Republican member of Congress who endorsed Trump first indicted tonight. He is going to speak for the first time. He is live in our hour. We will bring you his side of the story.
And now, this news that the Russia probe could turn to Julian Assange. I have an exclusive tonight with one of few people in the United States who has repeatedly interviewed Assange and stays in touch with him.
I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: If you live like a reality show and you govern like a reality show, you have to be prepared for your reality show staff to go full reality show on you.
"The Daily Beast" now reporting the infamous former "Apprentice" star and White House aide Omarosa secretly recorded conversations with President Trump while at the White House. Conversations she has, according to the report, played for people while pushing her new tell-all book called quote "Unhinged." This echoes a promise she did make the day after being ousted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT, FORMER APPRENTICE STAR: As the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the President, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected by community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Everybody wants to hear the story, and she has been slowly teasing it out. She went on "celebrity big brother" and described a kind of a haunted feeling in the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANIGAULT: Like I was haunted by tweets every single day. Like what is he going to tweet next. It was bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we be worried? Don`t say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Should we be worried? Another question is should we be whispering?
Anyway, this isn`t the first time we have heard about secret audio tapes. Michael Cohen, famously taped the President. We have even heard some of those already leak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP`S LAWYER: You never know where that company -- you never know where he`s going to be.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct. So I`m all over that. And I have spoken to Alan about that when it comes to the financing.
TRUMP: What financing?
COHEN: We`ll have to pay --
TRUMP: Pay with cash?
COHEN: No. No, no, no, no, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is a big scoop and the person who wrote the scoop, "Daily Beast" Lachlan Markay is on THE BEAT. Mike Lupica, back with us as well.
Lachlan, what do you see as the significance of this story?
LACHLAN MARKAY, REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, we spoke to three sources, one of whom has actually heard one of these recordings, two have had the contents described to them.
The way it was described to us, it`s nothing quite so incriminating as the Michael Cohen recordings, but I think it does point to a major breach of trust by someone who is very close to the President, very close to the first family, and really tells everyone that she meets about how much the President trusts her. And, you know, the President did like her and she was very close to that sort of inner circle of aides and family members. So for her to be secretly recording conversations with the President points to a major breakdown in trust. And now that she is marketing a book suggests that she has sort of had her eye towards those post White House plans for quite some time.
MELBER: Yes. And another clear implication is that if you are recording a President, you are talking to the President. And that would appear to contradict the cover story they gave, which has been a familiar to many departing aides who the White House has tried to play down their actual role. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Omarosa was fired three times on "the Apprentice" and this is the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the President while here. She has no contact now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That word "limited contact," as you know most people who work in an administration have literally zero conversations with the President. These tapes would suggest that she had more contact than the White House let on.
MARKAY: Well, I do think she had less contact than she felt she was entitled to, given her long history with the President. And in fact that`s what really led to her downfall at the White House was this scene where she, as it was described to us, stormed the White House residence in an attempt to confront the President about aides that she felt were undermining her and shutting her out. And there was a concerted effort by chief of staff John Kelly to really limit access to the President in the oval office.
So I think she probably had a lot more access early on in the White House, saw that diminish. That really upset her. And it ended with her being escorted off the White House grounds for trying to literally confront and call out the President for that.
MELBER: Mike, you saw the important recording that we garnered from "Celebrity Big Brother" in the introduction to the segment. And I want to play for you some earlier Omarosa because it`s not like any of this couldn`t have been predicted when it goes to Donald Trump`s judgment about who he wants to let in run the government, be paid by our tax dollars and have access to all sorts of private interactions. This is a person who has prided herself and Mr. Trump on settling scores. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANIGAULT: Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It`s everyone who`s ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: To state the obvious, which is part of my job these days, Mike, being entrusted with the nuclear codes and leading the United States is an act of public service, is not supposed to be chiefly thought of as a chance for personal revenge.
LUPICA: He sure can pick them, can`t he? I mean, where does he find these people? He is obsessed with building a wall. He needs to build one around the oval office because, Ari, how far are we from people getting patted down before they go in and sit down and cross the desk from him?
MELBER: Yes. And so do you think there is something here, Mike, that`s larger than Omarosa and all of the attendant drama in her book promotion and the rest?
LUPICA: Yes. I think he -- I think they don`t trust him. And we constantly hear how the most important thing to this President is loyalty. OK? But you tell me where we can find it these days. Cohen, Omarosa, and I don`t think these are the last times we`re going to hear about people taping this guy. I think eventually there`s going to be a conga line of people coming forward to say, no, no, listen to mine first.
MELBER: Lachlan, how do you go about reporting something like this out and making sure that, as I alluded to and it applies to us as well, we are not just promoting her book. I mean, what do you think here is significant for the type of decisions Donald Trump has made? And also when you go into this what has been described by others and even a lot of serious people as a really tense environment in the White House where everyone is lawyered up and worried about tapes, we still have a government that needs to be staffed and run. Do you see an implication here for the quality and the type of people who are brought into this White House?
MARKAY: Well, I think from the very beginning there`s been a sense of sort of a lack of solidarity, whether it was between the various sort of camps that split into opposing factions from very early on to folks sort of accusing each other of leaking as a way of settling personal scores or getting in the President`s good graces.
And in fact we got an advance copy of an excerpt of Omarosa`s book in which she recalls assembling a list of alleged leakers at Ivanka Trump`s request that then communications director Anthony Scaramucci would then be tasked with going out and firing. One of them actually was fired. But u think sort of the larger narrative in that excerpts and also of, you know, this larger story of Omarosa recording these conversations is just a total lack of trust between the people who work in the White House. It`s very difficult to form coherent policy or messaging when nobody trusts each other all the way up to the President and his tighten inner circle of aides.
MELBER: Yes. I think that`s well put. And again that goes to who is in charge and their obsession with leaks and media. And granted, we are part of the fort estate in covering things, but their obsession with about and a part from all other obligations as a federal employee in the White House staffer is it is really notable and it comes on a day when the other folks, the lawyers, are doing their own radio tour instead of their work. It`s a remarkable situation that shouldn`t be completely normalized, even though it is a daily thing.
Lachlan Markay, thanks with the big scoop for joining us and Mike Lupica doing double duty. We appreciate it.
Straight ahead, Donald Trump`s first congressional endorser, Congressman Chris Collins, charged today federal felonies, insider trading and lying to the FBI. We have the story when we are back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: Breaking news tonight and it is a shocker to many.
Donald Trump`s first congressional endorser arrested and charged in a new criminal scheme. We`re just learning the details. His name, Chris Collins, a New York Republican congressman. And he will speak for the first time on this tonight. He was arraigned today on these new charges of insider trading and lying to the feds.
Now, what is alleged here is that Collins was using secret information, sharing it with other people to help basically his friends and family save hundreds of thousands of dollars with illegal trades off that secret Intel.
Now, politically the context here matters. He was the first congressman to endorse Donald Trump, widely known as Trump`s man on the hill. You can see them together at a White House picnic in June and endorsing Trump in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Donald Trump as President is the man to make America great again. We need to elect a chief executive, not a chief politician. He is the best negotiator I have ever seen or met.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mimi Rocah joins me. She is a former federal prosecutor in the southern district of New York. That is where these charges of filed today. And Joyce Vance, also a former federal prosecutor experienced in these kind of cases and we benefit from her expertise here as well.
Let`s talk about what it means to charge a member of Congress with insider trading, all equal before the law but it is more complex than a garden variety finance case.
MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes. Well, but I mean, I think it`s important to note that obviously the charges are not connected to his position as congressman. But I do think it`s important to note his position because Jeff Berman, the U.S. attorney who brought these charges, in the press release and at the press conference noted it. He said this is a man who is charged with writing these nation`s laws and he thought he was above those laws. And I think that`s a really good point. I mean, this is someone who, you know, is not trading on information he got as a congressman, but while in that position of trust with the American people, he`s blatantly violating the securities fraud law.
MELBER: Right. And this is not a legal term of art, but he is an elite. This is not someone who got mixed up in something and seems somehow unsophisticated or taken for a ride. This is someone who, as you say, while it`s not germane exactly to the case, when you build a case for jurors if it goes that far, you are saying a betrayal of public trust, a person who knew better, wrote the laws which can go to their state of minding and someone who basically was an insider and is charged with insider trading.
ROCAH: Yes. And he sat on the board of directors, he held a lot of stock. And you know, it`s interesting because it reminds me of Donald Trump in the sense that we have been talking about how Donald Trump seems willing to flout the law in plain view. This wasn`t in plain view but it was pretty close. It wasn`t under the table either. I mean they were doing this over email, on the phone. This was not a smart insider trading scheme. It seemed very brazen.
MELBER: You`re saying they were not very furtive.
MELBER: And you think that means what, arrogance, stupidity?
ROCAH: Stupidity, I think.
ROCAH: You know, just goes back to the thinks he`s above the law he`s not going to get caught. And clearly the Southern District has put together a really you know lock stock and barrel case here. I mean, you can see that just from the indictment. It looks like they have people who are cooperating because they seem to have the content of some calls though I don`t think there`s a wiretap. They have you know, the paper trail that you need for an insider trading case like this. It seems like a very strong case.
MELBER: Joyce, take a listen to Donald Trump appraising him. We report a lot on when Donald Trump says things that are false approvable lives. Here this seemed like Donald Trump being very candid in admitting that he doesn`t have any strong feeling about Chris Collins and didn`t know much about him but when he learned that Chris Collins liked him and was endorsing him, that changed his feelings. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congressman Chris Collins, where is Chris? Where is Chris? Chris, right from the beginning he said Trump is going to win. Trump is going to win so I liked him. I didn`t like him that much before now I love him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A little bit of an old-school Jay-Z attitude there, either love me or leave me alone, Donald Trump loving the love. How does this work illegally when you have this very close political relationship and we`ve seen the way the White House has distance itself from its own former campaign aides in the Mueller probe?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It won`t take long for Collins to be the newest coffee boy, someone who Trump`s didn`t know well, he didn`t stick around for very long. But the implications of this indictment I think are very interesting. Along with Collins, his son is indicted, his son`s fiance`s father is indicted and as Mimi correctly points out the government appears to have a very strong case. So there will be pressure on Collins to plead. And the interesting question that`s on the table is what can he offer up to the government? Could he, for instance, have interesting information about the President of the United States or was he really just a coffee boy.
MELBER: Well and that`s a tantalizing thing and, Mimi, we don`t want to get too far out ahead of it because we don`t have reporting that suggests that but we do know that this office again where you worked, this is not your typical office. This is the center of Wall Street, the center a lot of terror and national security cases and the political cases that have come out of this office have been hard charging. Former SDNY Leader Preet Bharara was charging Dems and Republicans in the state -- in the state legislature. We`ve seen these federal cases. Is it possible that if they learn anything, how does that work? How do they share that?
ROCAH: Well, they -- you mean in terms of cooperating him if he want to do it?
MELBER: If he pulled this up, something they didn`t know he knew.
ROCAH: Well, it`s all within the same office so yes. I mean, right now the securities fraud unit you know in that office is in charge of the case but if he has information, that would be relevant to other public corruption type prosecutions. They would just you know, walk down the hall to their colleagues at the public corruption unit and share it with them.
MELBER: So yes, they`re not restricted from coordinating on --
ROCAH: No absolutely, and that happens all the time where someone is charged with one type of crime but then has information to offer against individuals on a completely different type of crime. If it`s within the same office, it doesn`t matter. It gets a little more complicated and you know, from office to office but even that happens. But here it would be a united team I`m sure.
MELBER: Right and that`s fascinating. We`re not there yet but that`s something that`s come up a lot and members of Congress do know more than as we put it the average bear. My thanks to Mimi and Joyce. Coming up, salacious questions in the Manafort trial. A star witness pressed on the allegations of his own extramarital affairs first top Senators reportedly focusing on Julian Assange as part of the Russia probe. I will speak live to Assange`s associate Randy Credico who`s talked about Roger Stone and a lot of other issues on this story. Randy, thanks for coming in.
RANDY CREDICO, RADIO HOST: Pleasure. What a great show.
MELBER: Now to our special interview and a new focus tonight on a group that is so central to everything under investigation in 2016, WikiLeaks. Their founder today Julian Assange says he`s been called for an interview with Congress and he released a letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee that asked for an interview for the Russia probe, please make yourself available. Top senators are not commenting. Assange says he is considering doing the interview so now we are going to turn in a moment to one of the few Americans who`s ever sat and interviewed Assange, radio host and activist Randy Credico. Roger Stone has called Credico his back channel to WikiLeaks something we`ve reported on this show. Now the last time I spoke to Randy Credico he told me guess what, what`s happening now. He said Assange was open to speaking to Congressional investigators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CREDICO: It had gone there with a mandate from Assange for Mr. Schiff to go over there and interview him. I got the OK from Assange --
MELBER: Hold on, hold on. What, you have Julian Assange willing to speak to Adam Schiff`s Committee?
MELBER: And why does Assange in your view want to speak to Adam Schiff.
CREDICO: Because he can clear it all up. He`s ready to talk to Adam Schiff. If he wants to go over there, he`s waiting for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That news broke right here on MSNBC. There was pushback from the Hill but now we`re seeing this new hit on WikiLeaks including from something that we all learn about often after the fact. Bob Mueller has been referencing the organization in his questioning and his work and his new indictments of Russian hackers. Now it doesn`t call out WikiLeaks by name. It refers to it as organization one, but you see there over and over and over Mueller saying organization one, WikiLeaks is key to what the Russians did. There were other connections as well, the Trump campaign had of course Donald Trump Jr. busted for DMing with the group. Roger Stone also exchanging messages and claiming that he had additional communication with them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of documents pertained to the Clinton Foundation but there`s no telling what the October Surprise may be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Stone has since walked some of that back and then there is the candidate himself willing to take their help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s been amazing what`s coming out on WikiLeaks. This WikiLeaks is unbelievable.
WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I am joined now by Randy Credico. You are I will note, somewhat controversial figure but what you said on this news program appears to have been borne out in public now. Why is Julian Assange saying he`s willing to talk and do you think he really would talk to investigators?
CREDICO: Well, I think that he would, provided that the parameters are set in a way that`s not unfavorable to him and it can`t be a trap. They have to treat him respectfully and they have to do it with a lot of professionalism, not just go in there and do some kind of surprise attack.
MELBER: Do you believe as someone who`s interacted with him and you have been favorable to him that he will be accurate to the U.S. committees about a matter that he has appeared to prejudge and been defensive about saying this is all garbage?
CREDICO: Well, I think he -- listen, you had to sit down with the person. He`s a very honest individual, very forthright, a man of great integrity. I think that if they work it out it would be a real boon for this -- I think that you`ll find out that there really isn`t that much to it, at least that`s what I feel.
MELBER: Not much to the idea that this was an espionage operation rather than as WikiLeaks has claimed that however many governments are mad at it, they often upset governments by publishing material that they say is accurate.
MELBER: Here he was talking to you and we talked to you because you talked to him Randy --
CREDICO: Right. The last time, by the way, was right after I did your show for the very first time. That was the last time we had a communication. He said -- by the way he can`t watch a show right now. He is totally gagged. He has no contact --
MELBER: No, and what did he said that time when he --
CREDICO: He said that you are a very smart guy and he says do your show. He enjoys your show but he can`t watch it now.
MELBER: He encouraged you to speak on his behalf on the show which is interesting. Here he is talking to you undermining basically the idea that there is something to the Russia probe. Take a look.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CREDICO: This whole thing about Russia and trying to vilify you as some agent of the Russians it`s complete garbage. What is your response to that?
JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: Well, it is complete garbage. This is complete nonsense.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: So here he was in April saying that and earlier when he did speak to Fox News, he also basically denied what has been borne out. What Mueller is charging hasn`t been proven in court yet. What the intelligence agencies have asserted that the Russians were behind a lot of this Take a look at his denials to Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Can you say to the American people unequivocally that you did not get this information about the DNC, John Podesta`s e-mail`s, can you tell the American people a thousand percent you did not get it from Russia or everybody associated with Russia?
ASSANGE: Our source is not the Russian government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is their value and him saying that to the intelligence committees when you must admit the evidence goes the other way?
CREDICO: I don`t think the evidence does though. I don`t think he got it from the Russians, I really don`t. Now I`m not convinced that --
MELBER: Let`s pause right there. Do you accept -- do you accept that the Russians did hack.
CREDICO: I`m not for sure. I`m not ruling it out that the Russians did but I always have thought that it was a leak. I`m not for sure. No one knows for sure what it really is.
MELBER: Well, the intelligence -- let me pause you there and I`m going to let you respond. The Intelligence Agencies have concluded this. Donald Trump`s aides have cleaned up his denials to reassert that it happened that way and Mueller has charged it with a lot of detail. Again, I have to be clear as I do with all cases, it has been proven in court but if your position and Assange`s position is that the original hack wasn`t even the Russians, he might very well end up perjuring himself before the committee.
CREDICO: I don`t think so. I think he`s a very smart man. He`s a very honest person. I think he has a lot to say. If they treat this -- if they`re looking to get to the bottom of this, he will be totally vindicated. It`s my opinion.
MELBER: How so?
CREDICO: Because I know. I`ve been in that embassy -- by the way the embassy is a very small embassy, it`s very hot inside. He`s under a lot of pressure. He`s been there now without any communication for five months, 100 degrees no air conditioning. I think that he will be vindicated and what`s the charge anyway? He didn`t do anything. He`s not the guy that like grabbed his stuff out of the DNC file. He just put it out there. What did he do that the New York Times didn`t do or the Washington Post didn`t do or what you didn`t do?
MELBER: I want to be clear. I want to be clear. You`re raising a valid legal defense which is that the platform upon which the stolen material is released is not criminally culpable inside the United States. Sure. But I want to be precise. What Julian Assange is saying in public is not that not hey we`re just a platform, he`s saying we didn`t get it from the Russians which itself if he says that as you know under U.S. law to these committees and that`s not true, that`s a new problem.
CREDICO: How can they --
MELBER: Help us go inside -- help us go inside Julian Assange`s mind. Is he trolling everyone or does he want to come and say what he said to Fox in a legal proceeding because he`s got his own legal problems already?
CREDICO: Well, I don`t know what the legal problems are because everything seems to be secret, clandestine charges against Julian Assange. We don`t even know if they exists and what it could possibly be.
MELBER: You don`t know what the legal problems are? You don`t know why he`s in protective status?
CREDICO: I know why -- I know why, because he skipped bail. He skipped bail and that`s the reason why they`re keeping them in there until he comes out and they`ll arrest them for bail skipping. They don`t have charges that have been made public and a lot of people don`t think there are charges. Now remember this is not the Roman Empire where in Roman Empire in Rome you had laws for Roman citizens and different laws of Macedonia in Egypt. Everybody is subjected to the same laws the First Amendment whether it be someone for the BBC or someone from the London Times. There -- they get the benefit of the First Amendment so does he.
MELBER: Let me read to you from the indictment just to make sure we`re clear on this. Organization one, this is the Mueller indictment. Organization one releases 20,000 e-mails it says stolen from the DNC Network. WikiLeaks released 20,000 e-mails as is well known July 22nd from the DNC.
MELBER: Do you have any reason other than your affinity for Assange to doubt this material?
CREDICO: I believe that that stuff was released where it came from. I have no idea. I certainly know he did not get it from the Russians and I can`t -- prove me wrong, can you prove me wrong?
MELBER: Well, I`m showing you the evidence.
CREDICO: Right. Well, that`s not the evidence, that`s something that Mueller put out there and his investigators. We don`t know for sure where it really came from. You can say 17 -- it`s not 17 intelligence community organizations that have signed off on this, that`s not true, there`s three or four. That`s all but they really --
MELBER: The number -- you`re talking about there`s the Director of National Intelligence and there`s all this other intelligence arms --
CREDICO: 17 action when --
MELBER: Well, it`s all the U.S. government.
MELBER: You`re on a thin read --
CREDICO: Have they ever come --
MELBER: You`re on a thin read if your problem is how they bureaucratically organize it.
CREDICO: They said the same thing about the Iraqi war that there`s weapons of mass destruction. There were 10 or 12 different organizations, same thing about the Gulf of Tonkin. So there`s reasons to doubt the Intelligence Community.
MELBER: Look, I think for viewers who are watching you and assessing you, it is true that you are someone who over the course of your entire career has been dubious and skeptical of government assertions and sure I think the Iraq war is a -- is one that comes up a lot on the left and the right. Donald Trump cites it. I think we all know the difference is and we`re not going to reopen all that right now. Although you have to work on --
CREDICO: I was against the Iraq war and --
MELBER: I know you were. But (INAUDIBLE) the public evidence. Has Bob Mueller called you in to testify?
CREDICO: They did. They actually didn`t call me in. They actually showed up and they asked me to come in and do a personal voluntary interview which --
MELBER: They -- who`s they? Who`s they that showed up?
CREDICO: Somebody from his is investigation.
MELBER: Where did they find you?
CREDICO: I don`t want to say where but they found me.
MELBER: But they came to you in person.
CREDICO: They came to me in person --
MELBER: In New York?
CREDICO: It`s some kind of elusive these days, you know, there are people out there saying bad things about me.
MELBER: Well, you`re making news as you often do. You`re confirming that the federal agents working for Bob Mueller came to you in New York.
CREDICO: Yes, yes.
MELBER: And what did they ask you?
CREDICO: They asked me if I would like to do a -- well we set up a conversation with somebody from the Mueller team and they asked my lawyer if I would like to go down and do a voluntary interview and he said no. You know, I didn`t get a subpoena, they asked me for a voluntary interview.
MELBER: Let`s make sure we understand that. I don`t believe you said this on air before.
CREDICO: Probably not.
MELBER: OK, so let`s make sure we understand it because the probe is of great interest and you`re in there as an associate and I`m not -- I`m not implying anything negative about you but as a known associate of Roger Stone and Julian Assange.
CREDICO: When you say associate of Stone, I know Stone.
MELBER: You`re here -- you`re here to give your side of the story. What word would you use.
CREDICO: I would say someone that has worked with Stone before but not an associate.
MELBER: A former colleague.
CREDICO: No I`ve worked on a campaign or two with Roger Stone and --
MELBER: A former campaign colleague.
CREDICO: I`ve known him -- 16 years I`ve known the guy.
MELBER: OK. I mean, it sounds like you`re going up from associate, not down when you say your 16 years --
CREDICO: Yes, we have an LLC together. You know, I don`t know. I`ve known him. We`ve gone years without talking to each other and then he`ll bring me and he did my radio show sure a whole -- the whole year 2016. Every month I had him on because he is great to have or on television.
MELBER: Randy, your radio show punches way above its weight --
CREDICO: It does.
MELBER: -- and political activist for a long time. I just want to be clear what we`re learning from you and folks can make up their own mind about it. What you`re telling us tonight on your assertion is federal agents came to you in New York and asked you for a voluntary interview from the Mueller probe presumably about Stone and WikiLeaks, correct.
CREDICO: Well, what I hear -- I`m not going to taste specifically what they asked me.
CREDICO: There`s a couple of reasons they came to me and I kept this under my hat for at least six weeks. I didn`t want to talk about it because I don`t want to instigate the special prosecutor, OK.
MELBER: I understand that and we`re just trying to learn facts here. But they came to you in New York for voluntary interview.
CREDICO: They did. No, they set up a conversation with my lawyer for the following Monday --
MELBER: And your lawyer declined to make you available for voluntary interview.
MELBER: And how long ago was that?
CREDICO: I don`t know, five or six weeks ago.
MELBER: And you have not heard from them since?
CREDICO: No, do you think I`m clear?
MELBER: Do I think you`re clear?
CREDICO: Yes. What would a big rapper say? Tell me? What Rudy Giuliani say? He`d say five or six years whatever, this is has been one good thing about this. I do a great Rudy Giuliani.
MELBER: We`re not doing impression.
CREDICO: Oh, I can`t do that.
MELBER: But well --
CREDICO: You know, your people get so mad at me. I got to tell you. Your followers get so mad at me when I do impressions like I was always waiting to do my Reagan impression.
MELBER: We`re not doing impressions --
CREDICO: I know we`re not. I`m doing it September 16th, I`m doing a show at the Commons and Brooklyn. I`m back into doing stand-up comedy.
MELBER: You said before I -- before we go and the news you`ve broken is very interesting. You said you had one more thing, what is it?
CREDICO: Yes I do. Because I watched you fill in for Rachel Maddow and I didn`t like that tie you`re wearing. You wear great ties all right, and this is from the Andy Warhol collection. Emily and Sarah (INAUDIBLE) we`re cleaning out our old country front office and this is from 1998, a special limited edition Andy Warhol --
MELBER: Andy Warhol tie. And your position is this is a better-looking tie than the one everyone hated.
CREDICO: People love those ties. They`re really beautiful and they`re hard to get. Go to eBay --
MELBER: This is very kind of you. We will run it through the ethics department here. I appreciate you coming.
CREDICO: It was a gift from a gift.
MELBER: You always seem to have something to tell us. Tonight you`re telling us --
CREDICO: I had a lot more. I`ll do --
MELBER: We`ll do a follow-up. You`re telling us for the first time the Bob Mueller`s folks contacted you and that you believe it`s (INAUDIBLE) who wants to talk. It`s very interesting. Randy Credico, thank you as always. We`re running over on time so we will be right back.
MELBER: What if you hear an interview on our show and you want to hear it again or you missed an interview, well you can always listen to our podcast. Check out the purple podcast icon on your iPhone, click on it and search THE BEAT with Ari Melber, click on our name and you`ll get the show and you can find all of our stuff there commercial free. We will be right back.
MELBER: That does it for THE BEAT. I`ll be back tomorrow 6 p.m. Eastern but more importantly "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A New York Congressman and Trump ally arrested. Let`s play HARDBALL.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.