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Guilty Trump aide gets 14 days for lying. TRANSCRIPT: 9/7/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Maya Wiley; Bill Kristol; Christian Farias; Greg Farrell; Howard Dean; Mike Lupica; Leah Wright Rigueur, Liz Plank, Alia Shawkat, Geoffrey Owens

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 7, 2018 Guest: Maya Wiley; Bill Kristol; Christian Farias; Greg Farrell; Howard Dean; Mike Lupica; Leah Wright Rigueur, Liz Plank, Alia Shawkat, Geoffrey Owens

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Anyway, this wasn`t difficult. That`s all we have for tonight, we`ll be back Monday with more MTP DAILY. And if it`s Sunday, it`s "MEET THE PRESS" on your local NBC station. Kellyanne Conway, Ben Sasse, Dick Durbin will be my guests. It`s Ben Sasse`s first appearance on "MEET THE PRESS".

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much.

We`re following a lot of news this hour, including President Obama drawing a new line taking on Donald Trump for the first time directly since leaving office.

Also, there`s Friday night`s report tonight here from Bloomberg that United States feds are probing campaign finance violations by Trump Org executives. The reporter on that is here but first, other breaking news.

Tonight, Bob Mueller scored another first, the first former Trump campaign aide to get a jail sentence. Now, this convicted felon is not as high level as Paul Manafort, the sentence not nearly as long as many people could face but it`s another step in the progress of this Mueller probe. Now, what you see is much to the White House`s dismay, neither the complaints in Rudy Giuliani`s interviews nor the endless witch hunt tweets are stopping this forward grinding progress of what Mueller wants and what he`s getting.

So here`s the news. A judge handing down a two-week jail sentence to the former Trump campaign adviser who set the Russia probe in motion, George Papadopoulos. Now, that`s a very light sentence for the crime of lying to the feds but it`s also in its lightness and its leniency, a validation of the larger Mueller strategy. Defy him, and face an endless legal sledgehammer.

Paul Manafort, of course, looking at years in jail with up to two trials remaining. Or the alternative, cooperate with Mueller, flip and tell, and get a sentence so light you might reasonably forget about it someday. Note, the Papadopoulos` sentence is less time than the only other person who has been sentenced in this probe, Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan. He did a full month.

Now, in this hearing which is late today, and that`s why we have so much different breaking news right now, George Papadopoulos told the judge he made a terrible mistake and wants to redeem himself. He also publicly argued that he lied to investigators partly because he wanted to distance himself from what he thought was probably an illegal action or dangerous information within the Trump world itself.

Now, Papadopoulos not only flipped, which of course is formalized tonight, he also took another parting shot at his old boss Donald Trump on his way into jail. His lawyers arguing Trump himself hindered this investigation more than Papadopoulos ever could.


THOMAS BREEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: George was listening to his preferred candidate, and his president of the United States opining that this was a witch hunt. But when George went in on January 27th, he was of the mindset this was not as significant as we have now all learned it to be.


MELBER: That is legally is for a kind of version of the coffee boy defense. Trump also arguing Papadopoulos not significant.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see Papadopoulos today. I don`t know Papadopoulos. I don`t know him. I saw him sitting in one picture at a table with me. That`s the only thing I know about him. I don`t know him but they got him, on I guess a couple of lies is what they`re saying. Now, Flynn, where the FBI said he didn`t lie but Mueller`s people said he did lie. So I don`t want to be set up with a perjury trap.


MELBER: Now, here is that picture of that table. We`ll put it up for you in that meeting in March 2016. Papadopoulos` lawyers also punched back about what happened in that room you`re looking at. They say, "While some in the rebuffed George`s offer to meet with Putin, Trump nodded, deferring to Sessions who appeared to like the idea."

Now, Mueller is now effectively done with that defendant. But today, he was putting another witness into that intimidating grand jury room. It was a busy day for Mueller, Randy Credico, the political actor/comedian who has links to Julian Assange and Roger Stone was back in there in the grand jury room testifying. So, of course, it makes you wonder, was Mueller interested in WikiLeaks today or Roger Stone or both? Well, we learned the answer. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much of the questioning had you -- of Assange?

RANDY CREDICO: Very little. I tried --

MARTIN STOLAR, ATTORNEY OF CREDICO: No, don`t -- the major -- the majority of the questioning had to do with Roger Stone. Specific questions we`re not going to get into.


MELBER: You saw the lawyer there trying to get Credico not to answer but that is big news tonight amidst everything else. Roger Stone was the focus of the questions today in that grand jury room. So let`s take it together. Bob Mueller is hunting right now. Trump`s lawyers, meanwhile, sending their own mixed signals about whether Donald Trump will ever face Mueller. Rudy Giuliani announced to much fanfare that Trump wouldn`t answer any questions about obstruction of justice, even in writing. That made headlines.

And then he added later, "Well, nothing`s totally off the table." And that is the public message from Trump`s lawyer but remember the private message, according to Bob Woodward`s reporting just this week is that it`s all the opposite and that Trump himself told one of his own lawyers he didn`t want to face Mueller ever.

I`m joined now by Maya Wiley, former counsel to the mayor of New York City, whose work is a civil prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, and MSNBC legal analyst. Christian Farias, a legal columnist in "New York Magazine" and Bill Kristol, founder, and editor-at-large of "The Weekly Standard."

Maya, when you look at the Rudy argument there, if everything is on the table potentially, that means Mueller would face Trump in a certain situation, by Woodward`s reporting undercuts that and would make it seem like this is all posturing. Put that in the context of Bob Mueller sending a Trump aide to jail today.

MAYA WILEY, LEGAL ANALYST, MSNBC: Well, first of all, let`s just say a broken clock is right twice a day. And the broken clock of Donald Trump has said he`s afraid of a perjury trap. That`s actually Rudy Giuliani talking point, which is interesting that the president used that today. I think what we have heard from the president is that he is concerned, despite the fact that he has repeatedly expressed his willingness. If I`m Donald Trump, I`m going to listen to my lawyers and I`m not going to talk to Bob Mueller.

The reality is, it`s going to call into question whether or not Mueller`s going to then take the step of a grand jury subpoena. I don`t think you`re going to see that anytime soon because of the midterm elections, obviously. But if you`re Donald Trump, you are thinking about the fact that you have made inconsistent statements publicly and repeatedly. And therefore, going in and having a conversation with Bob Mueller, very tough to thread that needle in a way that doesn`t create a potential perjury charge.

MELBER: Bill Kristol, what message do you read in the legal strategy of Bob Mueller giving Papadopoulos tonight effectively just two weeks in jail?

BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I guess they may be asked for a little more, the judge decided on two weeks. But yes, light sentence. Well, you should cooperate with Mueller, with the special counsel investigation, with the Justice Department, you shouldn`t lie to the FBI. But if you do, you will be treated better. If it`s a small lie in the context of cooperation, it`s a big lie.

It was interesting that Trump cited Flynn, that`s very much on his mind that speaking of people who are cooperating, Michael Flynn who knows a lot more than Papadopoulos, I`m going to guess, is continuing to cooperate, I believe, with the special counsel and hasn`t his sentencing been put off two or three times to just continue the cooperation.

So the investigation goes on. It looks pretty safe for the next two months. I hate to even say that or jinx it from Trump`s efforts to fire Mueller, to fire Sessions, to fire Rosenstein, to do God knows what but you never know, of course, with Trump. I do think on November 6th or November 7th, especially if the Democrats win the House, which I think is likely, the degree to which things will start happening very quickly can`t be -- it`s just going to be kind of remarkable.

I assume Mueller kind of knows that as a political matter. I wonder how much he`s aiming for that November/December window to really start to bring things to a close, wrap it up and have a report.

MELBER: Christian?

CHRISTIAN FARIAS, LEGAL COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I`m telling you the clock is ticking. I don`t think, to be a contrarian a little bit, I don`t think Mueller is concerned about the election. Trump is not on the ballot box. Neither are his campaign aides. He`s going to keep going with his work, all the hearings that are lined up in the coming days and weeks, the coming trial of Manafort, Manafort now in talks to possibly work out a plea deal.

He`s going to keep working. He is not concerned about political considerations because none of the people so far involved in this are up for election. So his work is going to continue unimpeded. And the president is going to continue raging against his work only to his detriment and the detriment of his allies.

MELBER: I want to reach a little more into the Papadopoulos part, Maya, which is so new. And if you think back to this, we don`t often know this much in real time. But we learned from "New York Times" reporting, it was Papadopoulos who uncorked the entire investigation that began, of course, before there was any notion that Trump would be president and then, of course, turned into a special counsel probe.

Here was his lawyer in court saying, "Look, he was unsophisticated, "Naive, a fool," and George Papadopoulos misled investigators to save his professional aspirations and to serve a misguided loyalty to his master. How does that fit in, again, to the choices that other former Trump aides are making here?

WILEY: Well, I think it fits into if you try to protect Donald Trump rather than telling the truth, you will only end up not protecting yourself. You can`t protect someone if they have actually committed a criminal act, or taken steps that make it appear that they`ve committed a criminal act. And you`re actually going to do much more by coming forward and being honest.

And I think with George Papadopoulos and his situation has made clear is tell the truth. And we know from McGahn, right, that McGahn`s approach has been to cooperate, to cooperate fully. He obviously is doing that in his own view for a variety of reasons, but that`s another indication to the Trump camp, if you are one of those people working for Donald Trump, that`s a signal on how you should behave.

MELBER: I want the panel to stay with me. I mentioned the breaking news and control room tells me we actually have the reporter who broke this story. This is from Bloomberg, Greg joining me on a breaking story, that according to a source that Bloomberg News has spoken with, for the first time confirming the Trump executives face a federal campaign finance probe from the New York Federal Prosecutors handling the Cohen case. Greg, this is your story. What did you find?

GREG FARRELL, REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Hi, Ari. Basically, after Cohen pleaded guilty last month, there was a question as to whether the prosecutors at the Southern District, Rob Khuzami and company were going to stand down and move on to other things or keep going, and they keep going.

They`re going to look and see whether the conduct that Cohen pleaded guilty to, the campaign finance violations, which involved payments approved by several executives at the Trump Organization if this pattern of conduct was more widespread. In other words, they seem to believe that this didn`t just happen on this occasion with Stormy Daniels, but there might have been other campaign finance violations.

So that`s what they`re investigating. It`s not clear that they`ve found anything yet, but just that they haven`t closed the door on this probe.

MELBER: Right. What you`re saying is significant, it`s not pre-judging where the probe goes, but it says that Michael Cohen in the eyes of the New York Feds is the beginning, not the end of those now campaign violations that he himself pled guilty to. As you know from your reporting and as many of our viewers have come to understand, the Trump Organization could sound like a big large thing to many people who watch the "Apprentice," but actually has a very small number of senior executives which include Trump`s family members. Does your reporting shed any light on who would be under scrutiny?

FARRELL: Well, as you pointed out, right, it`s not like a huge General Electric or IBM, there aren`t many people and a lot of them are family members who were there. So, you know, if any of them, if it turns out were involved in any kind of approvals or transactions that were labeled business expenses, but turned out to be campaign finance violations, you know, that could be a problem.

So clearly, the guy in the middle of this is the CFO, Allen Weisselberg, and it`s clear that Weisselberg cooperated on the very narrow way in the Cohen plea, just around the Stormy Daniels payments and those issues. Now, the question here is whether or not he`s going to cooperate, you know, widespread because he saw or must have approved pretty much every type of expenditure that went out, or not. So that`s going to be question one is to what degree he`s going to be helpful because he literally knows like all the finances and all the, you know, payments that got made and approved, et cetera.

MELBER: Can you rule in or rule out Trump family members?

FARRELL: No, to rule out because if they were involved, and clearly several of them were involved with the campaign --

MELBER: Right.

FARRELL: -- therefore, it`s quite possible some of them gave a green light like to pay it this way or that way. We don`t know that.

MELBER: Right. We don`t know that but you`re not able to rule them out, and your reasonable inference, based on the reporting you`ve done is that the people who overlap between the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign the most were the family members and Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen being the person who pled guilty himself to the campaign crime.

I want to read from your story and press you a little bit, not on the identity of your source. Obviously, as a fellow journalist, I`m not even asking you that, but I will note that your lead says after this conviction of Michael Cohen, you have a person familiar with the matter telling you federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating this. Does that mean this entire story, in your reporting, rests on a single source?

FARRELL: I`m not going to go beyond that. So, you know, that gets a little too close to, you know, that`s what we`re saying. But, you know, we don`t just go out with stuff unless we have an extremely high degree of confidence. So I`ll leave that at that.

MELBER: Are you saying that there is something beyond a single person that gives you that confidence?

FARRELL: Not saying anything. I`ll just leave it at that.

MELBER: When you say not saying anything, that`s several words right there. Technically, you are saying words, Greg. It`s my job to press you. I understand what I think you`re trying to convey, which is that you stand behind the story. It`s a big story. Before I let you go, anything else that you would want to get to that we didn`t?

FARRELL: No, except there`s a lot of news coming out tonight. We have a great story on Manafort as well, over and above George Papadopoulos, which we were just talking about. There`s a few other scoops we`ve got here, one on, you know, talks in Manafort`s case of maybe a deal. So anyway --

MELBER: I`m sorry, Greg, you`re reporting new information about a potential plea by Paul Manafort?

FARRELL: That`s out on Bloomberg now so you should check that out as well. Not me, my colleagues.

MELBER: Your colleagues. What can you tell us about that? It`s Friday night.

FARRELL: I haven`t even gotten it to yet. I just finished my story.

MELBER: It`s one of those nights. I think we`ll stay on all of them. Greg Farrell, thanks for jumping on the phone. Before I go, Maya, your reaction?

WILEY: My reaction is that this is both meaningful, not surprising. It would be more surprising to me if the Southern District of New York did not follow up on indications that there were ways in which the Trump Organization worked as we know from Michael Cohen that suggest that there may be a lot of improprieties here in how the financing worked.

I also think that it suggests that this source is not someone from within the Southern District of New York, but is someone who might be within the Trump Organization. We should remember that Weisselberg did not cooperate. That`s the wrong word legally. What he did was he no longer had the ability to assert the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself because they said, "We won`t come after you for what you say to us on this point" so that he had to come and testify.

MELBER: Right. Which is an important distinction.

WILEY: It`s a big distinction.

MELBER: We are over on time given all the breaking news. But Bill Kristol, a final thought from you on how this all plays out if Donald Trump, given the week he`s had, is learning as he does reportedly learn things through television, that there`s this investigation into his organization which includes, of course, his family as officers, as well as a single source report from Bloomberg, again reigniting speculation that Mr. Manafort himself could plea.

KRISTOL: I mean it looks like the investigation is pulling on many threads. And a lot of them are proving fruitful, or at least are leading to further things, which is how successful investigations work. It`s how Watergate worked to go back to the one that everyone thinks of, but it`s how generally good investigations work. The Cohen thread, the Manafort thread, the Flynn, Papadopoulos thread, if that`s kind of one thread you went today.

And I think if I were Donald Trump, I would be very worried and unhappy. And he`s got to face the question, does he have the nerve to fire people or does he have the nerve to pardon people?

MELBER: Bill and Christian, thank you. Maya, stay with me. I have more with you.

Coming up, the other big story tonight. Barack Obama actually breaks his silence on Donald Trump, calling him out by name as well as the Republican party.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad? The politics of division and resentment and paranoia, and they appeal to racial nationalism. What happened to the Republican Party? They`re cozying up to the former head of the KGB.


MELBER: And on THE BEAT tonight, a former Cosby actor thrust back into the spotlight sparking a debate about job shaming and work. I`m looking forward to Geoffrey Owens on the show tonight. And later, Fallback Friday with a special actress from Arrested Development, Alia Shawkat who`s in the new movie "Blaze." I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Former President Barack Obama jumped right back into politics today telling voters allow me to reintroduce myself and going at Trump by name and going farther than many current Democratic leaders to answer the question that many have been raising, what is the Democratic midterm message beyond Trump?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats are still trying to find a unifying message as they seek to flip the House and the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of people out there, particularly Democrats, who are saying the Democrats have no message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They offer nothing, they have no solutions, and they have no message, and there`s a reason that they`re not going to do well in November and that`s it.


MELBER: Is that true? Well, President Obama`s remarks are making waves tonight right now, and they`re important. So we`re going to actually broadcast and break down the top 10 points that Obama clearly laid out in his speech today right now. I want to bring in some special guests to help us do that. Columnist Mike Lupica and former DNC Chair Howard Dean. Gentlemen, listen first to Barack Obama making clear he knows he`s departing from tradition.


OBAMA: And truth-wise, I was also intent on following a wise American tradition of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage. I`m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments.


MELBER: And Howard, he makes it clear why he`s doing this, but then in point number two goes beyond Trump.


OBAMA: Who wants to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because it helps them maintain the status quo, and keep their power, and keep their privilege. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.


MELBER: Howard, is that right?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: It is right, and I think this is a unique time. I think the president did not want to get involved in this as presidents traditionally don`t. But Barack Obama has always been the moral leader of the country.

You can say what you want about how effective he was or all these other things, but nobody questions his honesty and his integrity. And for that reason, I think he`s an extraordinary moral leader. I think he stepped in not for the sake of the Democrats, I think he stepped in for the sake of the country.

MELBER: That`s well put. And, Mike, he also hit Russia which, of course, is on the minds of many right now.


OBAMA: What happened to the Republican party? Its central organizing principle in foreign policy was the fight against communism. And now they`re cozying up to the former head of the KGB.



MIKE LUPICA, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: You know, it`s funny, I`ll put this in language that I`m sure Senator Dean will understand from one of his favorite singing groups, do you know what got real today, Ari? It got extremely real. And Howard`s exactly right. Barack Obama sounded like the moral leader of the United States of America and I think he just got tired of listening to everything and seeing everything that has happened, whether he`s talking about Nazis or Russians or freedom of the press. That you don`t go after freedom of the press because you don`t like that they`re publishing stories that you don`t like, or writing things about you.

I was thinking today, you know, I would love for Trump and Obama to be in a town hall meeting, just the two of them, on a stage, if he thinks Obama is so boring, and make it a pay per view event. Because I think we could raise a hell of a lot of money for charity.

MELBER: Well, you say there are things that Barack Obama may be tired of. Howard, he`s clearly tired of Donald Trump trying to take credit for what Obama views is his economic legacy.


OBAMA: When you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let`s just remember when this recovery started, suddenly Republicans are saying it`s a miracle.


MELBER: How important is it, and what is he saying to midterm candidates there, Howard, if Democrats also need to run on that?

DEAN: Well, I do actually agree with the thesis that the Democrats don`t have a message. I think that`s a lot of Republican Washington political talk. The truth is, in all the elections, off-year elections, including the one that Barack Obama lost 63 seats in, the main message is we`re not Trump. Now, we don`t have to say that because Trump reminds everybody every day what they don`t like about Trump.

What we have to have is individual messages, each district you`ve got Connor Lam on one end of the democratic spectrum, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other end. That`s fine. They`re both great for their districts. Locally, we need to talk and touch the people who we want to vote for us. The message is we can do better and Donald Trump provides us an enormous amount of help in doing that.

MELBER: And Mike, he was very clear and went farther than again he has because he says tonight he`s departing from tradition, Barack Obama to say that Donald Trump is undermining the Department of Justice which, again, is a big deal coming from this exclusive club of the president and former presidents. Take a look.


OBAMA: It should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cajole to punish our political opponents or to explicitly call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution.


MELBER: Mike, why is that important for him to hit? And is that a midterm message or do you think that`s just a moral message?

LUPICA: I think it`s a moral message. I agree with what Howard said, not only do the Democrats have a message, it is this, we`re better than this. And now he wants the Department of Justice to go after "The New York Times" because of this op-ed piece? Go after "The New York Times" and do what? And find out what? And do what to the writer of this piece if the Department of Justice finds out? I mean, come on.

MELBER: Well, you mentioned the piece. And that was another thing he said that was very interesting. What I`m going to do is fit in a break. We have five of the key points from Obama left. So my thanks to Mike and Governor Dean.

When we come back, what he is saying about why that rebuke of this famous, anonymous author of the anti-Trump "New York Times" op-ed, why they had to say, why that wasn`t good enough when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Welcome back. We have been covering in detail President Barack Obama`s strongest rebuke of Donald Trump since Obama left the White House. I am joined now by a friend of the show, Leah Wright Rigueur from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

I want to play for you --


MELBER: We may be having technical difficulties. Can she hear me now?

RIGUEUR: I can hear you a little bit.

MELBER: You can hear me?

RIGUEUR: Yes, yes, I can hear you a little bit.

MELBER: OK, low volume. I`m going to try to play you something, and if I lose you, I might go to Howard Dean or Maya Wiley. That`s how you know it`s a live show.

RIGUEUR: OK, all right.

MELBER: What I was going to say is that it`s been a point of debate across the whole country and certainly among Trump critics, the relative weight of this rebuke of Donald Trump by this anonymous senior official. Fascinating to have Barack Obama weighed in, and he is not having it and he does not think it`s good enough. Take a look.


OBAMA: The claim that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren`t following the president`s orders, that`s not how our democracy is supposed to work. They`re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that`s coming out of this White House, and then saying, "Don`t worry, we`re preventing the other 10 percent."


MELBER: I`m going to go back to DNC Chair Howard Dean, what do you think of Barack Obama there saying you can keep your darn anonymous op-ed.

DEAN: You know I think he`s telling the truth. I am surprised because I didn`t expect him to get into this. I think he`s just deeply offended at what Trump is doing to our democracy and our country.

MELBER: That`s striking. And as you say, a lot of this speech did seem to come from the heart. We have seen other Obama where he`s very careful, certainly where he avoids criticizing people for various reasons that the tradition he mentioned. Here he obviously read that op-ed recently and said that`s no good. He also again took on the entire Republican Party, not just Trump which is key in the midterms because there are voters who might say well, Trump`s on the ballot, maybe I`ll stick with the GOP majority. Take a look.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But over the past few decades the politics of division of resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party, embraced wild conspiracy theories.


MELBER: What`s he doing there? You know, just what you said that Trump is branded the Republican Party. Look, I have friends, people I have considered friends on the Republican side of the Senate, people who I think are good people. They have failed to stand up for our country. Bob Dole and Barry Goldwater went to tell Dick Nixon that he had to resign. There is no statesmanship left in the Republican Party. They`ve become manipulative, they`re more interested in their power than they are in their country. We need the Republican Party to be back and be strong. The Republican Party is absent in the thrall of someone who is not fit to be President of the United States. And that is I think what`s so upsets the last President of the United States.

MELBER: Right. Stay with me. I`m going to continue our live dealer`s choice by bringing Maya Wiley back in and I want to play two more key pieces. We`ve been doing the top ten from this -- from this Obama speech. The first is him talking about what he views his criminal justice issues.


OBAMA: If you are really concern about the criminal justice system treats African-Americans, the best way to protest is to vote.


MELBER: And as for that voting, Maya, he said this is even more important than any time he`s been on the ballot. Take a look at this one.


OBAMA: Now, some of you may think I`m exaggerating when I say this November`s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Is that true?


MELBER: Go ahead.

WILEY: So it`s true. It`s true because number one, we are fundamentally having an election this midterm season that`s about our democratic institutions. It`s not actually an election about party right now. It`s about whether or not we`re going to restore a balance of power inside the beltway that starts paying attention to whether our institutions are working for all Americans. And as we know, we`re also in unprecedented times in terms of voter suppression --

MELBER: Right.

WILEY: -- making it extremely difficult for a large percentage of the population to actually exercise the right to vote. We just heard the Department of Justice is now being used. Basically, you want to talk about a witch hunt, talk about the Department of Justice trying to go find voter fraud when all the science tell us that this is not a real problem.

MELBER: Right. And he`s concerned that there`s those efforts that`s discouraging the vote as well as people saying oh well maybe I`m not excited about a perfect candidate, the hope Obama inspiration message almost used against the Democrats. He`s not having that. Listen to him say basically this isn`t Coachella.


OBAMA: You cannot sit back and wait for a savior. You can`t opt out because you don`t feel sufficiently inspired by this or that particular candidate. This is not a rock concert, this is not Coachella. We don`t need a messiah.


MELBER: I mean, to be clear Maya, Beyonce did perform a Coachella recently and she is many people`s Messiah.

WILEY: I would vote for her.

MELBER: But what is he saying there because we all know that one of the weird defenses of Democratic turnaround is well, we didn`t have an Obama this year. Here`s Obama saying it isn`t about having an Obama this year. This is important.

WILEY: This is Barack Obama remembering what 2016 was which was that if the black vote, if the Latino vote had come out in places like Wisconsin, had come out in Milwaukee, had come out in Detroit, the differences in point spread could have made a difference in the election. Turnout is critical and he`s absolutely right. And I think the message is vote for the best person on the ballot even if it`s not the person that makes you want to go and dance like Beyonce.

MELBER: And dance like Beyonce. Howard, did you ever expect American politics would turn on the presidential phrase, this is not Coachella?

DEAN: No. But he`s right, of course. The issue is this, and I actually think I`ve been very impressed by the graciousness which the losers in some of these upset races and turnaround has said we`re going to support you.

MELBER: To the new generation.

DEAN: It is not true that there is a left-center divide in the Democratic Party. That is easy for the press, easy click bait for the press. The truth is there`s a young-old divide and the older people that are losing these races have been incredibly gracious about their defeats and I -- and that is a very good sign for a party that we`ve matured, that we understand what`s at stake here is the democracy of the United States.

MELBER: Right. Well, that`s -- and that`s a whole other fascinating I`d love to get you on as someone who did grassroots organizing ran the party and might even self-identify on the other side of that generational divide you mentioned. I`d love to get you on back on THE BEAT with some of those new faced candidates as we cover the midterms. I`m going to fit in a break. Thanks to Maya and Howard and my apologies on the audio technical difficulties with Professor Rigueur. We`ll get her back.

Now up ahead, actor Geoffrey Owens was attempted at a shaming simply for working an honest job in a grocery store. Well, he`s on THE BEAT tonight. But first, it`s Friday and who needs to fall back? That`s next.


MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and what a week it`s been but now it`s time to "FALLBACK." I am joined by Alia Shawkat the actress and artist known for a comedic role as may be in the popular Netflix sitcom Arrested Development.


ALIA SHAWKAT, ACTRESS: They`re allowed to have a couple hours off. You don`t see me nervous about being on my third Virgin Mary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you be nervous? There`s no alcohol in a Virgin Mary.

SHAWKAT: There isn`t? This is unbelievable. Can I get a virgin pina colada when you get a chance? Now, we`ll get things started.


MELBER: She`s now showing another side starring in the movie Blaze directed by Ethan Hawke.


SHAWKAT: You`re going to be a big country star like Roger Miller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t want to be star. I want to be a legend.


MELBER: And also with us Vox`s Liz Plank. Nice to see you guys.


MELBER: Who needs to fall back?

SHAWKAT: Who needs to fall back? I think that the attention around this new avatar kind of computer-generated models on Instagram that I`ve been noticing lately, there`s something wrong with it. It`s an art project that they`ve designed these computer-generated models and millions of people mainly younger people follow them and I think it`s messing with some form of reality.

MELBER: You think it`s messing with our minds.

SHAWKAT: Yes, lots of things are these days. But there`s something about it that people believe it too much and then are defending it more than you know, having real conversations.

MELBER: This is the "FALLBACK" but this is also I think news because some of our viewers are going to say wait, OK, if you`re a parent at home, your kids are using these social media sites like Instagram and they`re following accounts they think are people, they`re actually just like bots.

SHAWKAT: Right. And then they think the bots have -- you know, I don`t -- I don`t know if they are actually looking at something and believing it to be a real person but they defend this person and would do you know would follow whatever this person`s instincts are, what they would tell them to buy or what they would tell them to do, so then they become like the you know -- people are looking up to these robots. It`s a little scary.

MELBER: It`s like a movie. Yes. Who do you have for a "FALLBACK."

PLANK: Well, you know what needs to fall back, toxic masculinity. So there`s a new ad that I keep seeing all around New York City and I`m sure it`s in other cities across the country, it features Michael Phelps --

MELBER: Therapy helped change his life.

PLANK: Exactly. And we just -- we don`t talk about the gender therapy gap which is real. Women are much more likely to actually seek therapy than men and we often talk about the fact that women have more mental health issues but women talk about their mental health issues more than men. But men certainly experience a hold wide range of you know, mental health problems. And for someone like Michael Phelps, an accomplished athlete, what is he six-foot-ten you know, super tall, very "masculine," traditionally you know, with those standards, for him to open up and say that he you know, help -- that therapy it changed his life and it really him, I think is a really great message for men to hear.

MELBER: I have a fallback as well and I think it`s an important one. And it`s Senator Susan Collins who runs as a pro-choice candidate, who told voters that`s what she is, and then you see as this abortion fight plays out in Donald Trump`s nominee to be on the Supreme Court, she suddenly changes her tune and says, oh well maybe basically I`m OK with this.

And by the way, if you run as being pro-life and you support that then you`re being honest with voters. But if you run as being pro-choice and we`re learning just this week, late in the week, that Judge Kavanaugh was privately telling that the Bush administration, well, Roe v Wade is not that settled and could be overturned. It seems to me like she needs to fall back from claiming she`s really pro-choice if she`s going to cast a vote, if she`s going to make her career about this kind of this kind of choice, Liz.

PLANK: Right. And my favorite thing was Kamala Harris just you know, asking during the hearings, can you think of a single law that has regulates the male body? And you know, him -- Judge Kavanaugh not being able to name a single a law. Why do we have laws -- it`s so simple, right? Why do we have laws that regulate or you know, sort of control women`s bodies when we don`t -- would never do the same thing for men? It`s a fundamental --


PLANK: What, because they don`t want to control them?

SHAWKAT: No, because they want to control women.

PLANK: Right.

SHAWKAT: Yes. And also the fact that it`s still a conversation is so upsetting, especially in our country. But I mean, the fact that also a woman herself can be changing her tune on something that`s so strong as if it`s just yes, some kind of law that that involves like taxes or something. We`re talking about our actual bodies here.

MELBER: Right. And you`re talking about something that is for many people a very significant choice that again, the Supreme Court has said is their choice. So if you`re going to change that, let`s be honest about it under oath and in our politics. Alia, Liz, thank you for a very special "FALLBACK FRIDAY."

SHAWKAT: Thank you.

MELBER: And we are not done. Up ahead, former Cosby star Geoffrey Owens is here on THE BEAT tonight to talk about job shaming, the Fox News attack on him, and Donald Trump`s values.


MELBER: Many Americans are fond of actor Geoffrey Owens for his iconic role as a doctor who married into the Cosby family. But he just got some unwanted attention this week from a photo circulating of him working at Trader Joe`s. Fox News ran a headline that he was "spotted bagging groceries" which was blasted as classist job shaming. Owens is on THE BEAT tonight to talk about this fake controversy called a nontroversy and what it says about class in America. The 37-year-old actor has been on many shows since his Cosby days including recently CBS`s Elementary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- wrong about the damage is not being tangible. I mean, the release of this video has cost my clients a virtual king`s ransom.


MELBER: Those articles about Owens quickly backfired. Prominent actors like Terry Crews and Tyler Perry praising him and noting that most actors work side jobs. Director Judd Apatow calling Owens hilarious while reposting a quote about the dignity of work. Geoffrey, thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

GEOFFREY OWENS, ACTOR: You`re welcome. How are you?

MELBER: I`m great! Was Fox News job shaming you?

OWENS: I guess so. Well, I mean, I can`t see what else the motivation would have been. You know, it was just an attempt to you know, make someone feel small about doing what they have to do to make a living. It doesn`t make any sense to me but yes, that`s -- that appears to be the motive right there.

MELBER: So how did this feel to go from doing your job, to getting this onslaught of attention, and then getting a lot of people defending you and defending what it means to work?

OWENS: This has been quite a week, Ari. Surreal is the word that best describes it from relative and anonymity at Trader Joe`s are not complete because I was recognized there as the guy from The Cosby Show. Almost every day I work there in a nice way, a cool way you know, my customers. And then that awful thing that came out that day you know, with the pictures and the demeaning words and descriptions which just made me feel humiliated basically.

Fortunately, the humiliation only lasted like -- and I believe it was an hour or two before my wife and I started reading the posts, the reactions from literally all over the world. And so very quickly something awful and humiliating became something wonderful.

MELBER: Karma Lawrence is one of the people who took one of these photos. I want to read from some of the reporting here -- as you say, it`s been quite a week. She says she can`t sleep that she feels she`s unintentionally hurt someone. She said, I would tell him I`m extremely apologetic about what`s happened. if I could take it back, I would. What do you say to her?

OWENS: I say that`s very cool and I say I accept that. And I`d like her to know that I had -- I had no ill feeling towards her you know, even as this happened. If I could see her now, I can totally tell her that I forgive her.

MELBER: This story is at its root. It`s about snobbery and classes.


MELBER: And I want to put up on the screen here something that President Trump has done. He has said he prefers hiring billionaires to anyone else and he prefers Ivy League alums. He doesn`t like Jeff Sessions.

OWENS: Oh, good.

MELBER: Well, that helps him. He doesn`t like Session`s southern accent, he prefers people who went to Ivy League colleges and touts that he hired billionaires for his cabinet. And then take a listen to him explaining that choice.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? I said, because that`s the kind of thinking we want. I mean, you know, really, because they`re representing the country. And I love all people rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don`t want a poor person. Does that make sense? Does that make sense?


MELBER: Does that make sense and is this important in that way?

OWENS: You know what, I`m only going to say one thing, Ari, here because I don`t want to get into politics too much. But this is the man who said he preferred his war heroes that weren`t caught. Do you know I mean?

MELBER: What do you mean?

OWENS: I mean, that that`s the kind of judgment we`re dealing with. Anybody who could say that for instance about Senator McCain, I don`t respect his opinion about these matters either is what I`m saying.

MELBER: Where do we go from here when the internet -- go ahead, you look like you`re --

OWENS: No, no, I am taking in your question.

MELBER: You`re so expressive. Have you ever done dramatic work? Well, I don`t usually pause, but you went --

OWENS: Yes, man, I should go -- I should go into acting.

MELBER: How do you feel about the way the internet has put you on blast wrongly and then -- and then allowed a space for a bunch of positivity as well?

OWENS: I think what`s really good about this is that there is now this new sensitivity about what it means to work, that we`re thinking -- we`re rethinking, re-evaluating what it means to work and the relative -- you know, this idea that certain jobs are better than others, certain jobs are superior to others. When I worked at Trader Joe`s, I had a tremendous sense of satisfaction of peace and innocence at the work I was doing. It was tremendously for me spiritually and emotionally.

MELBER: You know, when they had the expression something couldn`t happen to a nicer guy, this is a really interesting and in some ways difficult thing that happen and it couldn`t happen to a more thoughtful guy because I think we could all benefit from listening to the -- how you handle this and what you`re offering us today. So I really appreciate you coming by Geoffrey.

OWENS: Thank you so much and I appreciate it.

MELBER: Thank you. Geoffrey Owens on THE BEAT. And when we come back, what John Dean told the Senate today.


MELBER: The hearings on Brett Kavanaugh featured a star witness on the democratic side today, the White Then it was Dean versus Nixon, today it was John Dean versus Trump.


JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I began by telling the President that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if the cancer was not removed, the President himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately because it was growing more deadly every day.

If Judge Kavanaugh joined the court, it would be the most presidential powers friendly court in the modern era. Under Judge Kavanaugh`s recommendation, if the President shot somebody in cold blood on 5th Avenue, that president could not be prosecuted while in office.


MELBER: There are many things we could reflect upon in those comparisons but I`ll leave you with one. In the former John Dean was saying, incriminating things that Nixon allegedly said secretly. Today he was what was speaking about very incriminating things that Donald Trump said out in the public. That does it for us on a very busy week. We`ll be back with you Monday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. I hope you`ll join us. But I should tell you right now "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.


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