Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 16, 2018 Guest: Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Pete King, Clint Watts, Jerrold Nadler, Mark Warner, Joyce Vance, John Dean, Sarah Sanders, Simona Mangiante, Jahana Hayes, Jess McIntosh, Dream Hampton
High: The President links security clearance actions to Russia Probe. President`s aide wants to scrap plea deal. Jury questions reasonable doubt. New midterm polling shows the Democrats could be on pace to win back the U.S. House. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passes away at the age of 76
KATY TURR: A scandal. It just makes it dense, doesn`t it? That`s all for tonight. We will be back tomorrow with more MTP Daily. "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Ari, your scent would be awkward.
ARI MELBER: Wow.
TURR: And it would be a mix of pine cones and Swedish fish.
MELBER: Wow. That touches my heart that you know I like Swedish fish. I would add a little nutmeg but it sounds like you`re making the calls and not me.
TURR: It`s interesting and awkward scent.
MELBER: You know we don`t whisper enough on the news. We`re always so loud.
TURR: Yeah, we can whisper.
MELBER: You`ve inspired. Thank you, Katy Turr. I will tell you tonight, we have an unusual show and a lot of news developing right now.
First, and perhaps the most interesting and the most revelatory, moments ago we got the most detailed peek ever inside a Manafort jury room, several questions have come out and they`re suggesting what`s on the Jury`s mind. And we`re going to get into that because it tells us a lot about what it could mean for Manafort and is White House concerned about what`s happening in that courtroom.
Also tonight, a sudden turn of events for one of the guilty Trump aides, all the sudden reports that he wants to completely scrap his plea deal with Bob Mueller. I have an exclusive report on that tonight. We`ve been speaking to someone who is very close to him.
And later, the legendary Smokey Robinson joining us live to honor and remember his best friend Aretha Franklin on this day of her passing. So a lot tonight.
I also have a special announcement later in the show but we begin with an important story about a President admitting a major infraction today. You know, Richard Nixon often try to hide the fact that he kept an enemies list but basically there is something happening right now.
Donald Trump is doing something you may have seen him do before with other damning admissions. He is now admitting that his motivation is building an enemies list and he`s doing it in public. This is a continuation of the story you know about, the White House revoking former CIA Director John Brennan`s security clearance which has gotten criticism all over the place.
And now, the admiral who oversaw the Bin Laden raid weighing in today telling Donald Trump, "Hey. Revoke my security clearance as well." What we see here is a President trying to publicly abuse intelligence powers to retaliate. Now there are worries that this consilience from National Security experts, particularly people who might work in private consulting but still need a clearance.
But it`s not working on Brennan. Let me show you this. Today, he says that Donald Trump`s many claims of no collusion with Russia are, "Hogwash." He says in writing in the New York Times that Donald Trump colluded and the only remaining question is whether that collusion itself amounts to a felony.
And as Trump admits his motivation was to hit back at critics, he`s undercutting his own team, which you`ve probably seen on TV was claiming, apparently falsely, that Brennan`s clearance was revoked only because of an allegation he misled the government, about whether CIA officials had previously improperly accessed Congressional staffers` files.
Now, that history and that fight with Congress may be important but Donald Trump himself admits in his new interview, that was not the reason, instead saying, "I call it the rigged witch hunt. It is a sham and these people led it." Adding, "I think something had to be done" referencing hitting back at Brennan.
While it may not be a crime to revoke a security clearance for improper reasons, that itself is debatable, Donald Trump`s new admission is echoes of his public confession after firing Comey when he contradicted his own White House statement that originally claimed Comey was fired for a different reason, losing the support of FBI employees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, "You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It`s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, we can`t compare this story about security clearances to, say, the Obama or Clinton Administration because those presidents never publicly admitted to abusing security clearance powers to settle political scores. But there are Republicans who struck a tone tonight that would be hard to imagine if this was not something being done by their own party`s President.
(BEGIN VIDEO, CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM: Mr. Brennan has gone way over the line in my view and I think restricting his clearance, pulling his clearance makes sense to me.
JOHN CORNYN: Why do people who no longer work for the federal government still continue to have a security clearance?
PETE KING: Yes, it was. And again, it has nothing to do with starting the Russia investigation or anything else.
MALE: I`m comfortable with the President`s national security decisions, period.
MALE: It was about time that he did take away that because Brennan has been very outspoken. I don`t blame the President for doing what he did to Brennan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is, of course, a controversy driven deliberately by the White House. And it comes at the point, the moment of maximum worry over Paul Manafort`s trial. And as Bob Mueller bears down on getting a Trump interview, Trump`s own lawyer feeling the heat because they are leaking new plans to fight a subpoena from Mueller for that interview if it arrives.
I`m joined now by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee right in the middle of these debates and perhaps in charge, if anyone happens on November and Clint Watts, a former FBI Special Agent who has, I`m told, your security clearance?
CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes.
MELBER: We`ll see what happens. He`s the author of "Messing with the Enemy". And I don`t say that to make light of it.
But first, the congressman and then you, walk us through why it has always been normal course for many Americans after government service to retain a clearance and for that judgment about it to be driven by security and not their first amendment right to speak about any government official?
JERROLD NADLER, CONGRESSMAN: Well, those are two questions. It`s been the practice for people, especially high ranking security people to retain their security clearance precisely so that the new administration can avail itself of their expertise and experience when necessary.
So that, for example, if you -- if the CIA catches someone or suspects someone of being an agent, a foreign agent or something, they can call in Brennan and say, "What do you know about this guy?" et cetera and without a lengthy period of clearing him for secret information. It`s really for the benefit of the new administration, it`s not for the benefit of the former officials.
Secondly, to -- and there is a process for removing clearances. If the person shows for some reason that he`s unreliable or she`s unreliable at keeping secrets, then the security clearance ought to be removed. It certainly should not be removed because that person avails themselves of their First Amendment Rights which they, like any other American have a right to do, to criticize the administration or to express an opinion on a political issue because it`s got nothing to do with their security clearance.
And to revoke the security clearance because of that is to tell people, "You may not express yourselves. You may not use your First Amendment Rights." We are starting to crack down on the First Amendment. We`re being un-American.
And especially it tells people whose jobs, not usually former heads of CIA, but other people who may work in sensitive positions, who need a security clearance, who may work in a private industry which has Government contracts and you need a security clearance, that if you criticize the Administration, your security clearance and your job may be threatened. That`s what you expect in an Authoritarian dictatorship, not in a free country, and that`s why this is so pernicious.
WATTS: Yes, it`s rather interesting because I don`t think the President entirely understands what security clearances are for. There are two parts to it, one is eligibility to access and the second part is having access to it.
So formers, people that have worked in the government that are going back in or interfacing, they keep their eligibility for access that allows the Government to bring those people back in if they want to run something by them, if they want to read them into something or discuss classified information, either that person worked on or knew the developments, they can do that.
Without that clearance, they can`t do that. They would have to go through an entire process, oftentimes ones that are many years in the running and one that is so far behind right now that they can`t even keep up with the number of clearances. We`ve talked about it on this show, just a lot of the White House staffers are doing for their clearance.
MELBER: Right. I mean -- and that goes to why it`s good for the government. The question, is this retaliation? Should this even be allowed? It is a larger Constitutional one.
I want to add to our discussion Joyce Vance who we often call on for big legal questions, a former Federal Prosecutor. Take a listen to Senator Warner likening this to an enemies list which is the kind of thing that actually courts can get involved in in patrolling if it`s bad enough. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK WARNER, SENATOR: This had an eerie memory of an enemies list. These people were being singled out to have either their clearances revoked or in the process of being revoked to me smacks of Nixonian-type practices of trying to silence anyone who`s willing to criticize this President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joyce, our experts thus far tonight have discussed why this looks bad, why it`s petty and why it is perhaps problematic for the national security interests of the United States. It is, of course, a higher bar than all of those things to get into whether this is the kind of thing that could be unconstitutional or illegal or that courts would get involved in. I wonder your analysis at that level.
JOYCE VANCE: Well, this is retaliation, pure and simple. Not only does the President not try to hide it with some kind of window dressing, he just flat out acknowledges that it`s retaliation. So it`s very reminiscent of this controversy that we had over the firing of Jim Comey where the President and his team said, "But I`m entitled to fire the Director of the FBI whenever I want to."
And the response is that`s true but it can become criminal conduct if you do it for the wrong reasons, if you do it with illegal intent. Just like the Rod Blagojevich case in Chicago where he was entitled to appoint a senator to replace Barack Obama, he just wasn`t entitled to take a bribe in exchange for making that decision.
So now where we are today, is we`ve got a President who yet again is talking about making a decision for the wrong reasons. I think his counsel`s office will be very hard pressed when they go back and look at the reasons for yanking a security clearance to justify taking away John Brennan`s clearance and the President has told us why he did it.
The problem, Ari is that the real loser is the American people because John Brennan won`t be eligible to be read in on an operation where he would need a security clearance, and we won`t have the benefit of his expertise when our country faces a danger.
MELBER: Congressman, take a listen to what we`ve learned from John Dean about the original Nixon enemies list and contrast that to the White House today. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DEAN: The memorandum that was requested by me to prepare a means to attack the enemies of the White House. There was also maintained what was called an enemies list, which is rather extensive, and continually being updated.
SARAH SANDERS: I`ve decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I am evaluating action with respect to the following individuals; James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We put those side by side, Congressman, because as you know the Dean testimony came only after he left the White House, said this was bad and admitted it in the context of cooperation. Today it would seem, according to critics, that it`s getting worse because the White House is admitting it by someone who is standing at the podium listing off their actual well-known from that list public political opponents.
NADLER: Well, I agree but there are two things here. Number one, there seems to be an enemies list and the President, in the case of Brennan, is punishing a perceived political enemy. In the case of these other people, is threatening to punish them.
He`s threatening to punish them for their First Amendment of Free Speech, which is bad for the Constitution and for freedom. He`s threatening to improperly use his power to do it. That`s an abuse of power. One of the Nixon impeachment articles was abuse of power. This would fit in as an abuse of power and it also deprives the American people of their expertise.
But he also told the Wall Street Journal, in addition to that, that he removed Brennan`s clearance because Brennan was in at the start of the phony Russian investigation. So this seems to be also an attempt to interfere with the Russian investigation along with many other attempts, which would seem to beg for an evaluation as to whether it constitutes an instance of obstruction of justice.
MELBER: Which, as you raise, is very serious. We`ve spoken now about several aspects of what is problematic on the White House side. I want to turn in fairness and look at John Brennan who as I`ve stated here is a journalist, has every right to state these views without the fear of retaliation.
Having said that and separate from that, he is also someone who like you knows certain things he`s not supposed to get into. And I want to read from Republican Senator Burr who makes an important criticism, I want to hear your analysis.
MELBER: If Brennan has some personal knowledge or evidence of collusion, it should be disclosed to the special counsel, not the New York Times. And if Mr. Brennan for a long time said less and now that he`s in a very high stake fight with the President, including potential abuses that we`ve documented, he seems to be saying more.
Does that not open up him to the criticism that he`s dialing it up within the context of this debate and that his collusion analysis should be reserved for an investigative process?
WATTS: Yeah, the dialing up, I think, is a dangerous thing for these officials. Unless they can really come forward and talk about it, they should not be talking about it. But what I find interesting about that list, if you go down from it, it`s everybody that was involved with bringing the Russia investigation to the President. Anybody that has done that is on that list.
But there`s also one person on there that is different from the rest, General Hayden. General Hayden is not part of the Russia investigation, he`s not brought it up, he`s not part of the hoax. He`s someone who served under a Republican administration, both at the NSA and the CIA, a longtime civil servant and yet he is being targeted explicitly for being, you know, outspoken.
MELBER: So technically, I`m over time but Congressman, I believe I saw you`re strongly disagreeing with me and we try to get all views here. So please go ahead and tell me why I`m wrong.
NADLER: I`m disagreeing not with you but to the gentleman to my right. Mr. Hayden has not disclosed any private or secret information about alleged collusion. He simply stated his conclusion about collusion. That`s his opinion. He`s entitled to state his opinion.
MELBER: But do you think Brennan is dialed up too much?
MELBER: Oh, you meant Brennan?
NADLER: I meant Brennan. He stated his conclusion. He didn`t reveal any secret information. If he has any, he should take it to the special prosecutor. He simply his conclusion I presume based on the public record.
MELBER: Copy. And I think that`s a point that is clearly being debated but important to get your views on that.
I want to thank Congressman Nadler for being here and Joyce. And Clint, I want to get you later in the show. Coming up, Paul Manafort`s jurors asking the judge about reasonable doubt. We`re going to go live to the courthouse and explain what this means, it gives us our first clues.
Also, a key witness cooperating with Bob Mueller but now saying through family maybe that plea deal is in jeopardy, exclusive reporting from the person closest to him.
And later, the legendary Smokey Robinson joins me live to talk about the passing of his good friend Aretha Franklin. And later I have my announcement of a very special interview this week. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MNSBC.
MELBER: Breaking news from inside the Manafort jury room. We`ve been through now eight hours of jury deliberations. The jury is done for the day but they`ve left with some fingerprints. We`ve got notes from the jury reporting here right now. They`ve given four questions to the judge, several of them interesting.
This one is key, a question from the jury asking, "Can you redefine reasonable doubt?" Of course, that`s the standard that hangs over the entire case. The judge gave a typical answer which is the government, that`s Mueller, is not required to prove beyond all possible doubt, just doubt that can be reasoned.
Now, NBC`s reporting shows that Manafort was in the courtroom. He has every right to come here every development in this case. He is waiting, of course, to hear what the jury will do as it gets answers to those questions and digs through the evidence that Mueller`s presented on those 18 bank and tax charges, which could ultimately result potentially, if guilty, of effectively a life sentence.
Let`s get right to it. NBC`s intelligence and national security reporter Ken Delanian has been all over this case and was inside court today. And back with me, FBI Special Agent Clint Watts who has developed some of the other entry records in similar federal cases.
Ken, my casual count looking at the questions, which can go any number of directions, would be at least one is interestingly good for Manafort, because somebody in that jury room, maybe only one person, is thinking about reasonable doubt.
KEN DELANIAN, NBC REPORTER: Yeah, Ari. I would actually say maybe two to three of these are favorable to the defense and I`ll explain why. Obviously, you covered the reasonable doubt question. You`re absolutely right, that`s a common question I`ve heard juries ask before.
It doesn`t necessarily mean that they`re all worried about it. It could be one or two jurors that are skeptics that the majority is trying to convince or explain. But the reason this is important is reasonable doubt is Manafort`s entire defense. He didn`t put on any defense witnesses.
DELANIAN: Their entire defense was cross-examining the prosecution witnesses, trying to throw up some doubt so that`s important. But the other question, it was a very technical question about ownership of foreign bank accounts and please re-read the rule on that.
The reason that`s important is the question reflected the defense`s view of the case. The defense was arguing this very technical part of the case that Paul Manafort was not required to disclose certain foreign bank accounts that he and his wife had a 50% equal interest in.
The prosecution said, "No, you do have to disclose." The fact that the jury is asking about the defense theory is persuasive and also they asked to define a shelf company, which the prosecution has used as a synonym for shelf company. And some people are looking at that as a question about whether Manafort actually had to declare his interest in and owed taxes on shelf company.
So altogether, you know, some troublesome questions for the prosecution. The defense team had smiles on their faces as they left court today. But we really don`t know, you know, Ari. I mean these are thoughtful, well- constructed questions the way they were written. This seems like a well- educated jury pool. They may just be chewing on and grappling with and being very careful about a dense and complicated case.
MELBER: I`m going to ask you a question that I hate to get when I`m covering trials or coming out of the jury room, but you`re doing it, not me. And that is -- and this is a hard one. Can you give us any clues about what the jury`s looked like today, about the mood, the camaraderie or lack thereof? Was there anyone looking stern? I mean it`s not a fair question because we don`t know what they`re going to do with it but sometimes you get clues.
DELANIAN: Yeah. And it`s all sort of tea leaf reading but it was an attentive jury. Several members of the jury appeared to take careful notes. We know that they had a pretty good rapport because we saw them in the hallways together on breaks. And, you know, on one occasion they celebrated one juror`s birthday with a birthday cake.
And there was at least one juror who appeared to be very skeptical about Rick Gates, the alleged star witness who (INAUDIBLE) whose testimony is important, although the prosecution seemed to walk away from him a little bit in closing arguments. He`s a flawed witness but he`s the only person that goes to Manafort`s state of mind and his criminal intent, which is something the prosecution badly needs to Prove, especially in tax cases because the tax charges require his knowledge that what he did was illegal.
MELBER: Let me go to Clint on the confusion aspect which is some of these charges are more confusing. Mueller`s team was closing it out by saying, "Even if you didn`t get all the details, the guy lied all the time. He didn`t lie because he was doing the right thing with his money. He lied because he was doing the wrong thing."
WATTS: That`s the problem with white collared cases, it`s extremely complicated. Unless you understand business structures, tax law, how financing works, how payments are made, it`s very difficult to explain this to a jury and in such detail that they know the person is guilty. It`s a tough case to run. It`s a matrix.
And one of the questions was, can you match up exhibits with the indictment because we want to know what goes with what charges? This is such a complicated case. It`s really tough for the jury to go through, I believe it`s 18 counts, and try and nail down what`s the evidence, what`s the argument for each one of these?
So for the prosecution, that`s what`s tough about all of this. How do they make sense of this stew of overlapping connections from overseas to domestic, from taxes to financing? It`s a very difficult case.
MELBER: Clint and Ken, we will be watching. More than the clues, we`ll watch what actually comes out of that room. Thank you both for your reporting and analysis.
Up ahead, there`s a guilty former Trump aide cooperating with Mueller who might want to back off the plea deal. We have exclusive reporting when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: Turning to our other top story tonight and it`s kind of a doozy. There was a man who you may remember, who actually, it turned out, kicked off the entire Russia probe. He was a Trump aide, but not one everyone had heard of, his name, George Papadopoulos, has become well-known now. And he ultimately pled guilty and was cooperating with Bob Mueller and was going to be sentenced next month.
I use all of that terminology of was because now his wife is saying she wants him to scrap the plea deal with Mueller. In fact, she`s given us here at THE BEAT from our reporting an exclusive new statement tonight. Simona Mangiante saying, "I trusted these institutions until they proved me wrong."
She says they were shady individuals that targeted George Papadopoulos for a specific agenda and now she says there is exculpatory evidence that would fully justify him to drop the plea agreement he reached with Bob Mueller.
This is, to say the least, unusual, cooperating witnesses who`ve pled guilty in Federal cases don`t, first of all, try to undo the cooperation agreement they got at the last minute. Second of all, it`s not an easy thing to do even if they want to. Simona had also told us previously they view the entire thing, the way they were treated by Mueller`s team, as fair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMONA MANGIANTE, WIFE OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: The situation was clearly intimidating but they were very professional and very fair. I never felt aggressed in any way.
MELBER: You thought Bob Mueller`s investigators were fair?
MANGIANTE: Yes, they were, really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is, of course, the wife of George Papadopoulos who`s a central figure. The New York Times had first broke open the story by explaining that Papadopoulos was talking to an Australian diplomat who had dirt on Hillary Clinton and that kicked off the FBI probe in full.
Papadopoulos served on Trump`s foreign policy board, a literal seat at the table. His indictment was a bombshell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT: The separate plea bargain deal made public today between the Feds and a former Trump campaign adviser.
MALE SPEAKER: Admitting he lied to the FBI by denying that he was involved with the campaign when he communicated with the Russians.
RACHEL MADDOW: In the Papadopoulos statement of the offense, he very carefully attests to all of that stuff as fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Federal Prosecutor Joyce Vance is here. This is certainly unusual and we wouldn`t deal with it so seriously if it were a rumor or from an unnamed source. But this is an on the record plea from his wife. Your view?
VANCE: She goes right to the heart of the matter when she says he wants to withdraw his plea because there`s exculpatory material. That means material that would tend to establish that he`s not guilty. But the rules surrounding this idea of a defendant who has already pled guilty withdrawing his plea is that courts only very rarely permit it.
They`ll permit it if a defendant`s guilty plea wasn`t voluntary or if there`s other -- some other justice and fairness component that was violated. So here, Papadopoulos would have to come forward and convince a court that there was exculpatory information that was specific to his plea of guilt.
He pled guilty to making a false statement to the FBI. So he would have to convince a judge either it wasn`t voluntary or there`s something that was wrong with that guilty plea. That`s going to be tough to do here. I think it`s unlikely that he`ll be able to substantiate that very high burden.
MELBER: So you`re saying that while this is fascinating, it would be a very high bar to get it done. I would note that both Papadopoulos, who obviously was literally working with these agents and Mueller to give up all the info. And his wife who has spoken out and she`s sort of been his public spokesperson had previously said cooperation`s the way to go and she`d encourage others to do it. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANGIANTE: Until the moment of the interview, I could not understand myself, the real events of my contribution. The FBI, the prosecutor have certainly dig this picture to which we can contribute being truthful. So I was happy to cooperate and either or not thinks this contribution is going to be significant, it is something you have to do for your country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Something, she said, they were doing for her country. I should mention she and Papadopoulos both have spoken to FBI agents as part of the Mueller probe. Is it possible that learning more information has made Papadopoulos feel that he gave up too quickly? Because one of the theories here is that the type of stuff he was hearing about wasn`t really real, that it`s to say wasn`t coming necessarily from all the way to the Kremlin, even though he may have actually literally misled the FBI at a later point in the chain of events.
VANCE: It`s hard to know for sure what`s actually in his mind, important to remember that his crime is lying to the FBI so if he made a material misstatement of fact without regard to where the information came from in actuality, he`s likely guilty of that crime. But the real problem for Papadopoulos, Ari, is withdrawing his plea. Even if the court lets him do it doesn`t put him in a much better position. It just presents him with the binary choice plead guilty again maybe try to get a better deal or go to trial and see if you can actually roll the bones and successfully avoid a conviction, not a great outlook for Papadopoulos either way.
MELBER: Right, your analysis is very helpful as teaching us. It is a very high bar but if a judge was sympathetic, he would be then in the Manafort position going through one of these federal trials and rolling the dice on a case that could bring him several years in prison. Thank you as always, Joyce Vance.
VANCE: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Up ahead, there are Democrats who say they are on the way to a big win this fall. My next guest is the former National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes. She`s running for a seat in Connecticut, would be the state`s first African-American elected Democrat to Congress.
And later remembering Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson is here live.
MELBER: New midterm polling shows the Democrats could be on pace to win back the U.S. House. 52 percent of voters favoring Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterms and that makes the debate over who should be their potential speaker even more critical. There are progressives pushing for change from current Dem leader Nancy Pelosi. That even includes potentially one of her former deputies James Clyburn making waves tonight saying he`s in if she doesn`t get the votes.
Clyburn is a big leader in the party and he`s been fighting for civil rights since he became a member of Congress back in `93.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let me look at this chart here to reinforce the point that you`ve just made. I think all of us will agree that there is, in fact, a phenomenon out here that can be called the angry white male. So nobody`s denying that there is anger out there but that anger is not just among white people, there`s among black people as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Any debate over who leaves this party will turn on which new Democrats get elected to Congress summarizing progressive stars are campaigning on the promise of a new generation to replace today`s D.C. Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAHANA HAYES, FORMER NATIONAL TEACHER: I think that Nancy Pelosi is a formidable leader. I think she`s done a great job for the Democratic Party but I also believe that we`re at a time where we need a generational shift in our leadership.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re saying you would not vote for Nancy Pelosi right now for Speaker.
HAYES: I would not vote -- I would not for Nancy Pelosi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is Jahana Hayes, winner of Connecticut`s primary on Tuesday who`s about to join me live on THE BEAT. She was also 2016 s National Teacher of the Year, an honor that`s already given her some campaign ammunition most first-time Democratic congressional candidates never get, a shout-out from President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a teenager, Jahana became pregnant and wanted to drop out of school but her teachers saw something. They saw something in her. She`s a counselor and a confidant. It`s how a woman who became a teenage mom is now a mentor to high schoolers in the same city where she grew up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now having captured the nomination is Jahana Hayes and I`m also joined by Clinton aide and political strategist Jess McIntosh who often talks Midterms with us. Jahana, congratulations on the teaching award. I hope that something all Americans could come together on good teachers but people are less United when it comes to the party. What are you running on what will you deliver to your district as a New Democrat in Congress?
HAYES: Well, thank you so much for having me. You`re right. As Teacher of the Year usually, I walked into a room and people were excited to see me. This is a little (AUDIO GAP) taught me, you know I know how to build relationships. I know how to get people in a room and solve problems and that`s what I hope to bring to this district, to this Congress you know, to lend my voice in my perspective, you know to be a part of that.
MELBER: You`re walking the line on Nancy Pelosi and I take your point that you`ve said probably you respect everything she`s done. Let me show for the basis of both sides within the Democratic primary at least, here`s her response to some of what your wing has been saying about her as a voice and a leader.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democratic Party is increasingly younger, more female, more diverse, more progressive. Should the Democratic House leadership look that way?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Well I`m female, I`m progressive, I`m -- and the rest -- what`s your problem?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: She says it with a smile but I think she is saying to you what is "your problem."
HAYES: Well, first you said what my wing says, I don`t think I have a wing. And like I said I believe that there needs to be some generational shifts but let`s not confuse that because I don`t think that you know, we tear everything down and start all over. You know, I think that if at the time she`s the best person for the job then absolutely. But it`s one of those things where I think the party has to be just open to the possibility of change.
MELBER: And Jess, that itself is unusual because typically you stand by anyone who`s in charge of the party. This speaks to I think what Jahana is saying and what we`ve heard from other candidates is and certainly, in the grassroots a real view that the establishment leadership with Democratic Party however hard they`ve worked for however long, it should not be automatically reuped.
JESS MCINTOSH, FORMER ADVISER, CLINTON CAMPAIGN: I think there`s a really exciting thing happening in these midterms with the candidates that we are seeing coming through primaries. In many cases, they are not the establishment candidates and that means we`re getting way more women than usual. Because when you talk about incumbent protection, when you talk about the Democratic machines, when you talk about the establishment, all of that favors the people who are already in power which means that we don`t get women, we definitely don`t get women of color.
This year we`re seeing -- we`re borrowing something crazy because they won very blue districts. We`re going to see two Muslim women for the first time in Congress. We`re going to see two Native American women for the first time in Congress. So there is a -- the first woman in her 20s is going to be elected this year. It`s insane that we`ve never done that but we haven`t and that gets rectified now.
So there is a generational change that is happening and that is exciting and that is good for the Democratic Party. I don`t get a vote on Nancy Pelosi or not. I think she has been incredibly effective. Where I have serious concerns is that right now she is the only woman at the leadership table. I don`t want to give that up because when we have only men making decisions for both bodies of Congress women`s rights and priorities tend to get lost. I think it`s incredibly important that we keep a woman`s voice there if it`s Nancy Pelosi`s or somebody else`s.
MELBER: And Jahana, what do you see is the biggest issue in your district in the biggest contrast on policy between you and Republican in the fall?
HAYES: Well, in my district, I mean, near and dear to my heart is preserving and protecting public education. That`s very important to the people in this district, you know, and also our economy. People talk about, you know, the economy is doing well. I want to remind them that it`s not doing well for everyone. You know, we have unemployment rates that are down but people are not making a living wage so although they`re employed they still can`t support their families.
And I guess just access to opportunities. In my district there`s a huge opportunity gap there`s a huge equity gap. I want to make sure that our representation is working for all of the people in this district.
MELBER: You mentioned the gap, that reminds me of what happened when Betsy DeVos was asked about underperforming schools. Let`s take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you seen the really bad schools, maybe try to figure out what they`re doing?
BETSY DEVOS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I have not I have not I`ve not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe you should.
DEVOS: Maybe I should, yes.
MELBER: Should she and as a candidate and a teacher, what do you think of Betsy DeVos` time thus far at the Department of Ed?
HAYES: That that statement right there is incredibly painful because, for most of the students in my district and the students that I serve, the public education system is their only shot. You know, their families can`t move, they can`t choose another school so we have a responsibility to them you know, to make sure that we advocate on their behalf, you know. So that right there -- I mean we`re a nation that educates our children. It`s an investment. So I am not happy you know, with what is coming out of the current Department of Education because it is detrimental to students, to young people, to families.
MELBER: And Jess, one thing we do here is that a lot of the energy is resistance an anti-Trump, we`re hearing from a candidate here today who`s talking about issues but what is the non-Trump related message for Democrats in the Midterms?
MCINTOSH: You know, I think it`s about opportunity. That extends to healthcare, that extends to the economy, that extends to education. A lot of the resistance language that you`re hearing, you`re not hearing from Democratic candidates on the trail. They`re talking about local issues. A lot of these first-time candidates especially these first-time women candidates might have been inspired to run because Donald Trump got elected in 2016, but they`re not running to oppose him, they`re running because they realize that there is a total lack of somebody in there to represent the communities that oh that voted for them that`s why it`s so exciting to see teachers.
I mean imagine a Congress that was full of teachers and scientists and doctors and people who looked like America and also represented all of the American occupations right and could talk about the community needs because they were members of those communities with completely different places.
MELBER: Well, Jahana, we`re about to go with but to Jess` point, you know the most common profession of people in Congress right? You know what it is?
HAYES: I know what it`s about to be.
MELBER: Great answer. It`s lawyers and that can`t be a good idea. I`ll just say on behalf of lawyers and former lawyers. Do they still give apples to teachers or is that out of style?
HAYES: Well, I got an apple from the President`s. They`re really special apple. But I love what she just said. You know, our Congress should look like the people in our communities you know, all people from all backgrounds, diversity of experience, diversity of thought, that`s the only way we can accurately represent the people in our communities.
MELBER: I love the idea of an apple from the President and politics or policy aside, I do love the idea of people trying to come around and think about the future of our schools. Jahana Hayes, thank you so much as a candidate, Jess McIntosh a friend of the show, thank you. Up ahead, remembering the queen of soul her iconic voice and giving voice to the voiceless, that`s next.
MELBER: Turning to another important story. The passing of an icon in America today, legendary singer Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul is dead at 76. And she got the respect from the very start of her career on the famed Apollo Theater stage right here in New York City. Here is the iconic marquee and what it looked like today honoring the Apollo legend.
John Legend writing that she is the greatest vocalist I`ve ever known. Beyonce and Jay-Z dedicating their performance to Aretha in their hometown of Detroit and she also used her platform and her singing voice as a voice for the voiceless, a civil rights activist in her time advancing equality and a fellow civil rights icon John Lewis today saying, "if it hadn`t been for Aretha and her music the civil rights movement wouldn`t have been like a bird without wings," would have been.
The Obamas also speaking out today saying that Aretha helped define the American experience calling the experience at Obama`s historic first inauguration the promise of tomorrow coming to pass. Who could forget that day? Here she was as well in 2014 with our colleague Reverend Al Sharpton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: It was absolutely tremendous to look out and just see all of the throngs of people as far as you could see out in front of you to the right and to the left and knowing what this moment in history was about having evolved out of the civil-rights movement. This moment is certainly the dream of many. This is the fruition of their struggles and your struggles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: She brought President Obama to tears three years ago at the Kennedy Center Honors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN: When I knew I had to face another day Lord, it made me feel so tired. You make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I mentioned earlier in the show we were planning to hear from Smokey Robinson who was going to be a part of this. He`s unable to call in and I wanted to update you on that but we also have another great guest here. Dream Hampton is a Music Journalist a Filmmaker and Writer, NPR asked her for a new piece where she writes that Aretha Franklin lived an outside legendary life that can hardly be contained by words with "my god." She was Detroit, black Detroit, the queen is dead, long live the Queen.
Dream, thanks for taking time out of your day. On a time when many people are remembering Aretha, what do you remember?
DREAM HAMPTON, MUSIC JOURNALIST: Well, as a -- as a person from Detroit, as a Detroiter a city that is much maligned, that gets dissed so often, I am just so grateful to Aretha for always repping the D, for staying in Detroit when everyone else left, for living and dying in Detroit surrounded by her closest friends. Her roots are in Detroit. She kind of is Detroit. I opened up my piece for NPR talking about how she would take her pocketbook on stage even that D.C.`s Kennedy Center and she swings her fur coat behind her as she sat on that baby grand and just those little details that we know about Aretha, about having a pair in cash and how sometimes she`s stashed down her bra.
She was just unapologetic and Black and that is so Detroit. So I`m just so grateful that she wrapped us so well.
MELBER: That you felt repped as you say. Music and civil rights and politics often run together. Take a listen to her talking about that with the Rev.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Did you have any idea when you recorded Respect that it was going to be what it was?
FRANKLIN: No, I really did not. I did not have any idea that the civil rights movement would adopt that as its mantra.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How important was that her role as a musician and activists?
HAMPTON: Well, you know, today I`m thinking about her absolutely as a civil rights activist and hero but then there comes this moment when our civil rights heroes are slain, right? We lose Martin Luther King, we lose Malcolm, we lose Bobby Kennedy, and what emerges is a Black Power movement.
And today the Smithsonian, the National Museum of African-American history and culture sent out this tweet. This was before I read the past and it just said you know, on this day a warrant was put out on Angela Davis. And then there`s this other kind of meme, the screenshot that`s been going around Twitter since Aretha -- since it was announced that she was gravely ill and it`s a screenshot of a Jet Magazine story from December of 1970 which is the same year that that warrant on Angela Davis was put out where Aretha is offering to pay -- to pay Angela Davis` bond right.
And I think about this kind of black power moment in the late 60s and the early 70s and how much the church that she comes from --
MELBER: Right. And that`s -- it`s amazing as you say and those relationships. I appreciate you phoning in and I promise you anytime you can get to a camera we`ll have you back for another segment we speak today at a time of some sadness but also honoring her. Dream Hampton, thank you and we will be right back.
MELBER: Turning to a programming announcement about an interview I will conduct this week. there`s one political strategist who`s defined both Donald Trump`s general election campaign and the controversial platform of Trumpism, America first, trade wars, curbing immigration, its former White House Advisor Steve Bannon who`s is now launching an effort to save Trump in the Midterm. Now he rarely does T.V. interviews, in fact, has never appeared on MSNBC for an interview with an MSNBC journalist until now.
Steve Bannon will join me for his first MSNBC interview airing this Friday at 10:00 Eastern. It would be wide-ranging and will be one on one. There will be no ground rules and nothing off limits. Whatever one thinks of the President or his policy as Bannon plays a central role and he`s a fact witness in the Russia probe where he`s already testified and we will sit down to talk about it. This is a Friday night report right here on MSNBC. "HARDBALL" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END