New storm track as southeast braces for Florence. TRANSCRIPT: 9/12/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Elie Honig, Michael Starr Hopkins, Jason Leopold, Barbara Res, Baratunde Thurston, Ricki Stern, Bill Press, Neera Tanden, Bill Press

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 12, 2018 Guest: Elie Honig, Michael Starr Hopkins, Jason Leopold, Barbara Res, Baratunde Thurston, Ricki Stern, Bill Press, Neera Tanden, Bill Press

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That`s all we got for MTP DAILY tonight but "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. So good evening, Ari.

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

We are tracking several stories right now. There are millions, of course, bracing for hurricane Florence and we have more on that later in the hour. The Senate also is pushing forward with this key vote on Brett Kavanaugh, that`s tomorrow, even as new questions emerge about his standing on Roe V. Wade.

Also later tonight, I have for you a special report we`ve been working on, on how to hold Alex Jones accountable in the age of Trump. We think it`s important but we have that later tonight.

But we begin with breaking news on Paul Manafort and the Russia probe. Plea deal negotiations with Bob Mueller for Paul Manafort have stalled and that is because we are told Paul Manafort won`t agree to a deal that would include cooperation. This is breaking tonight and it`s days ahead of when Manafort`s next trial is supposed to begin.

Now a key part of this reporting, you may remember, "Bloomberg" had pieces of this but the new parts come tonight from "ABC News" which is reporting that Mueller wants to lock Manafort into cooperation for information pertaining to, yes, Donald Trump and the 2016 election but Manafort is "Resisting." Now, this is key when you think about the logic here and how we`ve been following all this, of course, for months because Bob Mueller probably isn`t just guessing that there`s some information that he wants from this very high profile and now convicted defendant.

There is a signal here that the Mueller team has some evidence, foundational or reason to believe, that Manafort does possess some kind of incriminating information in his mind or somewhere about what happened in 2016 and Manafort talking about a plea suggest that he could be signaling something else. He`s already convicted, he is signaling a plea without cooperation. What does he want? Well, maybe a pardon.

Now, remember, the second trial for Manafort is not about the personal banking or the taxes, it`s much more about Russia esteem, trying to make this deal with a deal with no cooperation related to Trump may not be good enough. And we`re also learning about a key moment that involved Paul Manafort, of course, who was the top official at the Trump Tower Russia meeting. "BuzzFeed" today reporting on a barrage of suspicious money transfers that occurred 11 days after that meeting.

There was an offshore company controlled by the infamous Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov wiring $20 million to his bank account in New York on the very same day. This was just 11 days after the secret meeting, Manafort was taking over as Trump campaign manager. Now, those questions are swirling as there`s other breaking news late today from the national security prosecutors at the Department of Justice.

Yes, breaking news right now late in the day that there is a major Russian hacker who has been claiming links to the Kremlin even known as the kingpin of computer spam. Tonight pleading guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and other federal charges. Now, how did this happen and why haven`t you heard about it? Well, if you go back a ways, Spanish authorities actually nabbed this hacker all the way back in April and then sent him to the U.S. to face these charges.

And the Justice Department, of course, has faced questions before, why indict any of these Russian hackers if they`re hard to get or there`s no extradition treaty with Putin`s Russia. Well, here is tonight, there is breaking news and example why, you know, it`s always a case we should know that`s separate from Mueller. Now, Rod Rosenstein hit on this when he announced the very famous indictment of those 12 Russian intelligence officers earlier this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD ROSENSTEIN: We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable. We need to keep them moving forward to preserve our values, protect against future interference and defend America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined now by former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, attorney and Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins who`s worked on presidential campaigns for Obama and Clinton and former counselor to the mayor of New York City Maya Wiley who`s also worked in the southern district and is, of course, an MSNBC analyst.

Elie, I go to you on something that people may just be digesting. Here is a high profile Russian hacker who was nabbed in Europe, brought to the U.S. and the DOJ got him to plead guilty tonight. Walk us through how this works and what it says about whether those other indicted Russians might be sleeping a little worse tonight.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Rod Rosenstein said it exactly right. The fact that someone may be hiding out in a country where we do not have an extradition treaty such as Russia does not mean we just give up and let it slide. It`s still important that DOJ pursue these individuals.

First, because you need to have a record of what was done of what happened. Second of all, you never know when someone`s going to make a mistake and travel to a country like Spain where we do have the ability to arrest that person and have them extradited through the MLAT process. so it`s important that these indictments get put in place, the 13 Russians who used social media that Mueller indicted back in February, the 12 Russian hackers that were indicted this past summer. Those are not clearly academic. Those are important indictments that could yield fruit someday.

MELBER: And Maya, although we take a lot with a grain of salt in these cases, in this espionage, this hacker`s wife did publicly boast that she thought he helped Trump win.

MAYA WILEY, ANALYST, MSNBC: Well, this is the point is we are seeing a pattern of indictments in terms of how Russian government may be utilizing criminal enterprises that know how to hack and that`s what the consistency is between what we know these other indictments are in this one. So we don`t know what it will turn up.

It is possible that there are some connections that will be made that we don`t know about but the important thing, I think as Elie said, is this is the way it`s done. It`s happened we know in 2016, we know that it`s a risk in the midterm elections as well and we have to do a lot more to protect against this hacking.

MELBER: And then, of course, I want your view on Mueller and Manafort. What does it tell you that Mueller`s team is, according to "ABC News" which picks up another reporting, is looking for information 2016?

WILEY: It tells me that Donald Trump`s witch hunt is Bob Mueller`s treasure trove. That`s the way I see it because really what`s happening here is we knew from Virginia, from the Virginia case against Paul Manafort that Robert Mueller was making a connection between Manafort and Russian interference in the 2016 election. That was very explicit and clear.

Manafort`s team tried to make a big issue of the fact that they had no "Evidence" of intercepted communications and what we see here is if they are asking for a cooperation agreement for Manafort in terms of information about Donald Trump, it`s because there`s information they believe he has about Donald Trump. So you can say witch hunt all you want, but there is no reason to ask for cooperation agreement where there is no cooperation that would be beneficial to the prosecutor.

And look, just look at the timeline here. He gets hired by the campaign in March. Two weeks later, he`s e-mailing Kilimnik, who is known to be former Russian military intelligence, is also indicted and hiding in Russia.

MELBER: Who`s his co-defendant in the next trial.

WILEY: Who`s his co-defendant in the next trial, about whether he has shared those e-mails with Russia and he uses the initials of Oleg Deripaska who is literally he is indebted to for millions of dollars. We know that he volunteered to join the campaign when he was dead broke trying to live like a Kardashian.

MELBER: Well, to be fair he wasn`t broke. He was deeply in debt.

WILEY: OK, deeply in debt.

MELBER: Broke would be much richer than what he was.

WILEY: OK, fair point. So the point is that by April he`s actually looking to trade his position in the Trump administration through e-mails with the former Russian military intelligence person with a Putin oligarch who, by the way, was sanctioned for his involvement in the 2016 campaign. There are too many facts of connection here just by what we know publicly, not to believe that Paul Manafort does know something.

MELBER: Right. And you`re making the key point from a prosecutorial perspective, Maya, that`s the floor, not the ceiling. That`s the floor, Mueller has more than that. And Michael, is using that to push for cooperation speak to the points that Maya raises, the desperation that Manafort had in this situation which is why he may have been trying to make these money moves if you will? And whether you think this is a final public bid for some kind of pardon messaging.

MICHAEL STARR HOPKINS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, Paul Manafort right now, he`s trying to save his life. He`s looking at 10 years on the original Virginia charge and if you add in a District of Colombia charge, you know, that`s pretty much a wrap for Paul Manafort. So he`s got two options.

Either he`s going to cooperate with Mueller and tell him what he knows or he`s awaiting a pardon which I think is the scarier prospect here because if he doesn`t participate and he just enters a guilty plea, then the president can potentially pardon him. And just as someone who was on the ground during the Hillary Clinton campaign, I think that one of the things we should also be looking at is the way that they were able to micro-target the Trump campaign, was able to micro-target voters.

What we saw was they didn`t have infrastructure on the ground but they were able to know based on people`s houses, people`s addresses which person was vulnerable to be a Trump voter in ways that I have never seen before and that`s really the scary thing we start to look at these hackers and how they were able to manipulate the elections.

MELBER: And you`re saying that on a night when we`re reporting on the DOJ making, it`s grinding progress forward on another Russian hacker. I want the panel to stay and we`re going to bring in a reporter who broke this other story, the suspicious money transfers that came right after the Trump tower meeting.

Now, you can look at the people who went to the meeting, you probably have seen the list before. Tonight, "BuzzFeed" reporting it centers around one of them, Ike Kaveladze. And you may have never heard of him but he`s always been on that chart there, on the meeting list because he`s reportedly at the center of very shady financial business.

Now, I mentioned earlier this $20 million that one oligarch transferred to accounts in the U.S. After the meeting. So the "BuzzFeed" report says there`s even more suspicious money transfers that then came in after Trump won the election. That billionaire I should say, Agalarov, sending $165K from their bank account in Russia to New Jersey which had an account controlled by Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star and a couple of his buddies.

And the next day, they sent $107,000 to a company run by another person that was also in the meetings guy were telling you about. Red flags popping up all over why did these people working with the construction empire get all this money moving around in what many people say was suspicious? That`s what it`s called according to the feds.

And bankers tasked with investigating this found one more thing, that Ike Kaveladze was previously was investigated for, yes, money laundering. And in fact, the GIO reporting, he created over 2,000 different corporations which were suspected of laundering money for Russian real estate moguls. Now, I want to be clear about what we don`t know. None of this connects directly back publically to Donald Trump but it does suggest a lot of questions that the authorities are looking at so I keep our prosecutors in our panel but I bring in Jason Leopold who work tonight story for "BuzzFeed". What`s the bottom line?

JASON LEOPOLD, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, BUZZFEED: The bottom line right now is that obviously investigators and congressional committees are trying to figure out whether any of this money that passed through a number of different countries into the U.S. was in any way used to fund the interference campaign that took place in 2016.

MELBER: When you refer to these suspicious filings, the SARs, SARs they`re often called, this is a financial operation. What do you know about whether Mueller has it in his stuff or is interested in it?

LEOPOLD: We definitely know that Mueller has it. We have seen letters for example that the Senate Intelligence Committee has sent to Treasury requesting the exact same documents. And in those letters, they`ve actually said, you know, "Send it to us before you send it to Mueller." So we know that there is a sharing agreement going on but it`s also important to know that where these suspicious activity reports are actually housed that the FBI also has access to that database and can easily drop it.

MELBER: It seems to me the big question that authorities need to get at is causality here. Have you seen Ozark, by chance?

LEOPOLD: I`m sorry?

MELBER: Have you seen the Netflix show Ozark?

LEOPOLD": Oh, I have not. Sorry.

MELBER: So it depicts over two seasons in lower detail, what happens if you get too deep in money laundering with all sorts of foreign contraband and Mafioso types. And one of the things that comes through is if you`re money laundering all the time, it`s very hard to get out from under it and get away from it.

And so one negative thing that could be positive for Trump that I put to you and then our prosecutors is what if these individuals were doing suspicious stuff, A.K.A alleged money laundering all the time? And so they did it before and after the Trump Tower meeting because they`re always doing it but it doesn`t link back to the meeting.

LEOPOLD: It`s an interesting question. I mean first, you know, let`s note that the attorney for Ike Kaveladze and the Agalarovs said that all of these transactions are holy above board. They`re absolutely legitimate. He would not get into any details about these transactions but --

MELBER: But that`s understandable. Obviously, if you have legitimate above-board transactions and you`re under this kind of scrutiny, you would withhold all of the information that might disprove the suspicions. That`s normal.

LEOPOLD: Of course. But to your other point, I mean like Manafort, these individuals came under scrutiny largely because of where they were at the time. Like Manafort, he was under investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department back in 2014 when they were looking at Yanukovych`s money.

He didn`t get back into the crosshairs of federal law enforcement until after he became campaign manager and obviously when the probe started. And I think the same goes with this. The banks noted that when they were sending this to law enforcement that this is something that they did as a lookback project on.

MELBER: Let me take that to Elie.

HONIG: Yes. So prosecutors build off of SARs, suspicious activity reports, all the time. It`s very common. Two things jump out of me here if I`m looking at it from a prosecutor`s lens. The timing, first of all. These transactions happened on June 20th, the first set, which is 11 days after the Trump Tower meeting and which is the very day Manafort gets named the campaign chair. This guy, as Maya pointed out, with all this crushing debt to Russian oligarchs. That`s suspicious. Could it be coincidence? Prosecutors are trained to be skeptical.

And then the second batch happens right after the election and now it`s a feeding frenzy and everyone is trying to get their access. But look at the structure too, legitimate payments are just A to B. A pays B. Why are they using shell companies here? Why are they reactivating dormant accounts? Why are they sending money through Jersey? Jersey`s a lovely place but there`s no reason to send your money through there.

MELBER: So you think this is a big story?

HONIG: It could be. I think there`s a lot about this still need to be connected but those two things would draw my attention or better have drawn Mueller`s attention.

WILEY: I agree.

HONIG: I got to say it.

WILEY: Especially that one of those accounts dormant, unused since 2015, all the sudden has tons of money passing through it. And, you know, in this particular instance, fraud ain`t free so it had to get paid for somehow and the fact that this is an instance in which it demonstrates why Mueller has to investigate. If nothing else, one of the things that is so significant here is you can`t call it a witch hunt when you have these kinds of facts. Doesn`t mean we know what they`ll prove, it means it`s absolutely legitimate and important that we understand what transpired.

MELBER: Right. And I think it was Eliot Ness who said, "I don`t want no frauds." A lot of people forget that. I have to fit in a break. Elie Honig, Michael Starr Hopkins, Michael Wiley, and Jason Leopold, it`s a big story today. Thanks to each of you.

Coming up, we will give you an update on the storm track on hurricane Florence and a forecast with meteorologist Bill Karins. That`s later on in the hour. And my interview with a former Trump Org exec who says more aides should disobey his "Ridiculous orders." And just hours before we`re going to see the first vote on Brett Kavanaugh, new questions on Roe.

And later, as I mentioned, a special report on holding Alex Jones accountable. I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The White House has been rocked by reports of internal mutiny, aides literally stealing paper off Trump`s desk to trick him out of nixing a trade deal and one previous Trump employee says, well, she`s not surprised because that`s how Trump rolled in business where employees say surviving required ignoring his "Ridiculous orders."

Now, long-time Trump executive Barbara Res writes today that she played along with him and then didn`t carry out some of those orders just like current staff and she joins us now. She`s the author of the book All Alone On the 68th Floor. And another author joins us, Baratunde Thurston. Why are you sounding this alarm now working for Trump as you have?

BARBARA RES, TRUMP EXECUTIVE: I read the anonymous article and it bothered me a little bit because I thought what are you saying here? You do all these things. I don`t see evidence of it. All I see is crazy themes and crazy ideas that are coming to fruition and why not say something specific in the article here`s what we did? It was more like almost self- congratulatory like we`re saving the country behind the scenes. That bothered me a little bit.

MELBER: That stuck in your craw?

RES: Yes, it did, sort of.

MELBER: It rankled you.

RES: Yes, because I had put up with a lot of this. Now, granted he may be much worse than he was when I worked for him. We were able to control him and we had a good crew but I don`t see --

MELBER: He`s less controllable today?

RES: I think probably, yes, and I believe it.

BARATUNDE THURSTON, CO-FOUNDER, CULTIVATED WIT: I am struck. First of all, thank you for the piece that you wrote, Barbara because I think Barbara reminded us so many of the things we`ve known about Donald Trump -- the lying, the cheating, the narcissism, and the bullying but now as you pointed out, it`s in the White House.

And so one of the thoughts that I have is no people who are doing the same job that you documented being done decades ago now in a position of maximum power in the world but not coming forward, right. Maybe they want to preserve their own power, maybe they want to play the part of the hero, I would be happier if they didn`t go anonymous, didn`t tell Bob Woodward. They told Paul Ryan. They have told the house oversight committee.

You can take some of these documents and some of these tales to the designated governmental body that`s supposed to be the check on this power and that kind of resistance, what do you think in your experience motivates people to only in certain cases stand up to Donald Trump or to report him to construction authorities or building code authorities that he`s been breaking rules for a very long time with real consequences for real people for a very long time.

RES: Well, let me say that I was not aware of any rules that were broken. I was asked to break rules but we didn`t do that, but people are very, very afraid of him. I mean, look at all the Republicans. What are they doing? Why are they doing what they did? They`re terrified of him and they`re terrified of losing their support and their money base but why doesn`t anyone stand up to this guy? It`s amazing to me. We did regularly. There were a bunch of us that did back in the day.

And I think part of the big difference I`ve seen in him is who he hires. He`s got people that are sycophants, that tell him you`re great and they run off and do what he says to do without question like telling the world that he had a bigger crowd at his inauguration than Obama did. And nobody has -- these are all cowardly people and I see anonymous, I need to say it, as a cowardly person.

MELBER: See, that`s one area where you and the president actually overlap because he also says this person is a coward.

RES: Yes. I do. I mean you don`t do that. You don`t say I know this but I`m not telling you who I am so you really can`t check it out. I`m sure it`s true. I`m sure everything they said was true whereas the president says it`s not.

MELBER: What about the flip side? I put this to both of you that Donald Trump does, as you say, try to punish people. They forced a lot of people into these hush agreements, these non-disclosure agreements, that person for all we know maybe a career civil servant who got up to a political appointee job who doesn`t want to spend years in litigation or like Andy McCabe risk their pension.

I mean is it too easy for us on the outside -- and I ask this as a serious question -- to say they should devote their life to standing up and being ready to be punished. Maybe they feel they didn`t sign up for that when they went to serve their country.

RES: I didn`t say that. I said they shouldn`t be writing articles in "The Times" if they`re going to do that. If you don`t want to stand up -- look, lots of people don`t look -- I don`t think anyone`s going to go to jail for Trump at the end of the day. I don`t think anyone will and I wouldn`t no matter what. So I don`t think that`s cowardly.

MELBER: Would you visit him if he were in jail?

THURSTON: I think one of the -- I had an observation on election night. It was a devastating moment for a lot of people, including myself, that one of the greatest threats to our democracy is our blind faith in it and I think a lot of the people in these positions of attempting to restrict the president, maybe fearing consequences, are also assuming someone else is going to handle this and a court is going to handle this, a member of Congress is going to handle this and we all need to be handling this.

I think there`s just -- we weren`t prepared for the storm that is Donald Trump. He had a public record.

RES: I warned everyone.

THURSTON: And I tried right alongside you in a different position to do the same but now we`re here and he has nuclear codes and he`s trying to assassinate people and babies are being kidnapped so the consequences are real. And we have to remember that we are this democracy.

MELBER: Which is a fitting point to pause and reflect. Baratunde Thurston, Barbara Res, thank you both.

When we`re back in 30 seconds, we look at Roe V. Wade, Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination with a very special guest. I`ll see you in 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The other top story tonight, this fight over Donald Trump`s Supreme Court pick and Roe V. Wade many people say hanging in the balance. Republicans moving full steam ahead. They want a committee vote on Kavanaugh tomorrow. The GOP trying to confirm him before these midterms. Now, Democrats are consistently ahead on the generic ballot so that may be one reason for the rush.

The tension hanging over Kavanaugh in large part because Trump had publicly pledged only to nominate pro-life judges and Kavanaugh worked in a pro-life administration before he ever was a judge but said this in his hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH: Senator, Roe V. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. It`s an important precedent of the Supreme Court and reaffirmed many times. Casey is precedent on precedent. It`s an important precedent of the Supreme Court that`s been reaffirmed many times, precedent on precedent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: But Democrats suspicious of those arguments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: It is clear that the nominee has brought his political bias to the bench. Judge Kavanaugh praised the dissent in Roe V. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could take us one vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe V. Wade and deny women control over their reproductive rights.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: The impact of overturning Roe is much broader than a woman`s right to choose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Broader for a case that is really foundational at this point. But where did it come from? Well, there`s a history told in the brand new documentary "Reversing Roe."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEMALE: It was a court with four Nixon appointees.

MALE: Their presence is expected to make the court more conservative than at any time in recent memory.

FEMALE: But abortion was not a partisan issue at that time. It was a medical problem.

FEMALE: The question is who gets to make the decision? Is it the woman or is it the government? And my position has always been it`s not the government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Joining me on the history is Ricki Stern, one of the directors of Reversing Roe. On the politics in the Senate is Bill Press, he has covered five Supreme Court confirmations and is the author of the new book Trump Must Go. But how do you really feel? And Neera Tanden who is here for all of the above as a former top aide to Hillary Clinton and president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, I should mention a healthcare policy expert as well.

I go to you first. How did something that was at one point about privacy and a medical procedure become in the eyes of many so partisan?

RICKI STERN, CO-DIRECTOR, REVERSING ROE: Well, it became politicized. I think after the Roe V. Wade decision, it really wasn`t a rush to make it a political issue. It was a turning in the 1980s with the Reagan administration. Actually, before that it was some political strategist looking for a way to bring in some votes, the evangelicals and they looked at abortion and said that this is something that will galvanize a religious voter and it became at that point something that we saw more and more as planks in the different party platforms.

And as we see now in this administration in the Republican planks that are pro-life have become even more entrenched --

MELBER: And extreme.

STERN: Yes.

MELBER: Bill, it would seem to be a narrow victory for the pro-choice movement that someone with pro-life credentials in association like Judge Kavanaugh spent his confirmation hearings insisting essentially he won`t touch Roe.

BILL PRESS, AUTHOR: He lied. I think he dissembled, he lied all the way through it. I mean look, let`s face it. Let`s just be honest. He is an anti-Roe V. Wade vote and he will be on the Supreme Court. I think we know that. Donald Trump as a candidate said, "I won`t appoint anybody other than someone has who made that pledge to me."

He was -- he`s on the -- he was added to the Federalist Society list, why, because both he`s anti-Roe v Wade and he`s pro-executive power, meaning the president thing above the laws. I don`t think there`s any doubt about it. You know, in those clips you just played, yes, it is a precedent. Yes, it is settled law, but five justices can overturn any settled law and he would be a fifth vote.

MELBER: Neera, speak to Bill`s analysis that this is essentially a type of fancy tautological dissembling that ultimately is designed to create space to then go and do what he claims he won`t do, undercut Roe.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well I think the way to judge that is from Brett Kavanaugh`s own words. I mean, what`s fascinating about last week is that the Judiciary Committee majority, the Republican majority was really working overtime to hide documents including documents that Brett Kavanaugh had when he was in the Bush White House in which he clearly says that Roe is not settled precedent, that -- and I think usually should take that as his -- I think the way he speaks freely in the Bush White House is his actual view which is Roe is not precedent and it was actually an interesting trap because he -- or it was an interesting moment because his actual words in private which everyone was trying to keep a secret were exposed, actually exposed the kind of mistruths he said in saying that it was a precedent when he was trying to get the votes on the Judiciary Committee.

But feels absolutely right which is to say this Supreme Court just overturned a 20-year precedent. There`s no reason they won`t overturn a 40-year precedence, they`ve overturned 60-year precedents. So saying it`s a precedent without saying that you affirm the decision itself or believe in the principles of the decision, it`s just another way for him to duck and cover which is to basically have people vote and not own the decision, Susan Collins not own the decision that a vote for Brett Kavanaugh is a vet to overturn Roe.

MELBER: And so -- and so Ricki, I wonder what your research and reporting finds when you look at the evolution of this because the court, if it gets too far ahead of the public we know, can often undercut a public opinion. But this is the opposite situation. This is something that has become more widely entrenched. We live in a polarized time and yet I`ll show you Roe v Wade is overwhelmingly supported in majorities. When you look at it, you cut it suburban white women, 80 percent, African-American women 79 percent. The Independents who opposed Hillary Clinton 79 percent, Millennials who have grown up without the memories that many of our viewers have that we all older folks have which is what it was like before, the Millennials 71 percent.

RICKI STERN, CO-DIRECTOR, REVERSING ROE: Right. Well, are you`re saying, so what will happen if the court -- if we have a 5-4 vote overturning Roe and it`s really not a majority opinion. I mean, I don`t know. I mean, you could say that hopefully people will go to the polls the next time, that people will start to vote and realize that majority of people who have an opportunity to vote are not registered and this is an opportunity to just say that if you are next administration, we need to get out there and make a difference because the courts are going to impact our culture in our lives.

MELBER: And Neera, I want to play Susan Collins for you and the myth of the moderate Republican pro-choice advocacy. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. He said that he agreed with what Justice Roberts said at his nomination hearing in which he said that it was settled law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is she being fooled or she trying to fool everyone else?

TANDEN: I mean, we won`t know until she votes. But at this point, it does seem that Susan Collins is trying to fool all of us. I mean, the reality is here that Judge Kavanaugh is mouthing the words of choice and really as sheep in wolf`s clothing or wolf in sheep`s clothing. He`s really basically hiding his actual views. And you know, the truth is she knows his actual views because he said it.

MELBER: Right.

TANDEN: And I would say just to your earlier point about how the politics can overwhelm this. I think what the real -- the real agenda here is what Donald Trump has said himself which is -- and has said it recently which is to overturn Roe and send it back to the states. And that`s exactly the case at California and New York and states like that may well uphold Roe, but the challenges here is that a lot of conservative states will never over -- will never uphold Roe. They will overturn it. And this right that we all believe is an inherent right will be overturned just -- it`ll be depending on what state and how much money you have. And that`s really what`s at stake here.

MELBER: Right. And when you speak to the fake moderates it becomes the question of is it as you put it, a wolf in sheep`s clothing or is it a wolf that we can all see as a wolf just saying hey, I`m a sheep and I`m here for the confirmation hearing and we can see they`re not a sheep. Ricki Stern, Bill Press, Neera Tanden, thanks to each of you. And I want to mention for those interested on Reversing Roe, it airs on Netflix as well as in selected theatres starting tomorrow quite timely. Up next I turn to something I told you was important. My special report on a controversial pro-Trump figure Alex Jones and how to hold him accountable right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: There was some bad news recently for extreme right-wing conspiracy theorist and bath salts spokesmodel Alex Jones because it looks like his Web site Infowars has just lost their war on info.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Alex Jones is in trouble and right now we have a special report on why that matters and while it may seem like people are getting away with a lot of wrongs these days, there are some signs tonight these systems actually working to hold him accountable for his lies, his frauds, and his alleged defamation. Now, Jones is a media figure known for conspiracy theories, political theatrics, and his controversial Web site, it`s called Infowars, but he is not a journalist which is important, because he impersonates one and tries to exploit the framework and the access of the free press for his theatrics in his lies. So Jones will for example ambush a press availability for reporters as he did last week on the Hill with Senator Marco Rubio in order to hijack it and try to stoke a confrontation.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Don`t touch me again, man. I`m asking you not to touch me again.

ALEX JONES, RADIO HOST: Sure, I just patted you nicely.

RUBIO: I know, but I don`t want to be touched. I don`t know who you are.

JONES: Oh, you want me to get arrested --

RUBIO: You`re not going to get arrested, man. You`re not going to be arrested. I`ll take care of it myself.

JONES: Oh, he`ll beat me up. You are like -- you are literally like a little gangster thug.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You can see the obvious projection and trolling there. Jones trying to start a fight and then accusing the Senator of being a thug. Now, we are not airing that clip tonight the way Jones would want to stoke his own personal imagined fight with Senator Rubio. We`re airing it to do some wider reporting and show why Jones is a fraud and tonight to draw a clear line about how to try to deal with him. Now, Jones show does not simply offer extreme political views which of course, anyone has a right to hold. It pedals repeated lies and what clearly looks like defamation about everyone from gay Americans to Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: You think I`m like shocked by it some of them are bashing it because I don`t like gay people. I don`t like them putting chemicals in the water, they turn the freaking frogs gay. Crap.

With Hillary, there`s not even the same universe. I mean, she is an abject psychopathic demon from hell. I mean, I was told people around her they say she`s demon-possessed, OK. I`m just going to go ahead say it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, Alex Jones matters politically because that kind of rhetoric is actually maybe surprisingly to some people found a big home. He`s not a random voice with no access to power. His website drawing over a million visits just last month. His show once topped, two million subscribers on YouTube, more on how that`s changing in a moment, and his media empires earning millions of dollars and giving him a direct audience with yes, President Trump.

Jones even claims Trump personally called him after the election to thank him for his help and Trump`s White House took the unprecedented step of giving press credentials to Jones outlet Infowars as recently as last year. A Washington Post columnist called that move disgusting. Now, as a candidate, Trump went directly to Alex Jones to appeal to him and his audience praising Jones amazing reputation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: The Associated Press and others are reporting that it`s a secret deal with Turkey, with the Germans, with Merkel, the admitted socialists to bring in millions of radical Islamists. You said months ago bomb the oil of ISIS, in the end, the mainstream media laugh and you`re in trouble for saying the sky is blue.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I was right about that. I was right in saying in a book that I wrote. You covered it really nicely. I appreciate it. I just want to finish by saying your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down. You will be very, very impressed. I hope and I think we`ll be speaking a lot. A year into office you`ll be saying wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So Alex Jones matters because of that political influence and the support from the Trump White House and his operation poses a challenge for institutions that typically welcome more voices to the table like the press or the tech community. We`re reporting on this tonight because there is progress in the effort to hold Jones accountable for his lies and in basically trying to deal with his defamation. It`s important to get this right in the media in our society because it can prevent future abuse.

Now, right now, Jones is under public legal and business pressure that could constrain his Empire and his influence as the New York Times is reporting this week. There is, of course, a right to speech in America but there is no right to defame or defraud. And several of the grieving families in Sandy Hook have been leading the way arguing enough is enough. They are suing Jones for his alleged defamation and his role in provoking public threats against them. They`re asking courts to make him stop and punish him for claims that he`s made that we`re not going to dignify by repeating tonight. What we will repeat is Veronique De La Rosa. She lost her son six-year-old Noah Pozner who was killed in that shooting. And she`s publicly calling for Jones reckoning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VERONIQUE DE LA ROSA, MOTHER OF NOAH POZNER: If there`s a choice that`s made over a relentless period of years to peddle falsehoods and to profit from them, then there has to be a day of reckoning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: A court is giving the green light for that reckoning. That suit will go forward and tech companies meanwhile, cracking down on Jones determining he`s more of a liar and an alleged defamer than a legitimate publisher. So Twitter just issued a permanent ban. Apple cutting his show from its lucrative App Store and Google cutting him from YouTube and Facebook also issuing a ban.

The New York Times estimates Jones could lose millions from those bans and Jones has replied by asking Trump for help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Mr. President, America knows you`re real. If you come out before the midterms and make the censorship, the big issue, and them trying to steal the election, trying to stop you and every American from having their speech by defaming me, lying about what I`ve done, Soros financing fake lawsuits to give it legitimacy, and now deplatforming me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The part about deplatforming is true. And while Trump isn`t citing Jones right now, he recently launched a big attack on tech for yes, how they treat conservative voices. That`s a theme Don Jr. just hit on in a new interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: You have Google that controls 91 and change percent of those searches. If they`re only filtering content from one side and they`re not doing it on the other or they`re sort of pretending to do it on the other and it`s happening time and time again, and there`s only one side complaining about it happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Experts have not detected that kind of deliberate bias in Google searches but this crackdown is already hurting Jones` revenue. He uses the internet to sell items ranging from conspiracy bumper stickers to questionable health supplements which he then touts in his program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: This photo was just taken a few days ago and it wasn`t just that my weight loss accelerated, my muscle mass increased, my stamina, my energy levels exploded. Super males as the key concentrated natural compound.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That is a special key to Jones` empire. It generates over five million in revenue over just one year back in 2014. If the public legal and financial crackdown on Jones works, what`s happening right now, we`ll all be able to see in public if he sticks to his claim politics or loses that appetite when it`s harder to sell his supplements. Now, there`s nothing new of course about liars and fakers trying to hustle the American public, trying to hustle all of us while accusing everyone else of fake news. But we are dealing with some troubling new dynamics here. There`s the internet which can amplify those lies and there`s an administration in power that`s eager to support them which makes it even more vital for all of us to confront this and set standards.

Now if you watch this program regularly you may know we try to take our journalistic obligations seriously which includes reporting and hearing from all sides in the stories we cover which is especially important to hear from sides that may be very widely opposed. But that doesn`t mean including liars who are trying to habitually exploit the system, to defame innocent people or torment grieving parents or fraudulently posed is a kind of a journalistic Trojan horse to then come destroy reporting and facts and dignity from the inside.

Now the Constitution puts the First Amendment first because free speech is so important. It means we should always look twice before we have the government or courts punish speech. And I think that same spirit means that publishers and business tech platforms should also look twice before they just kick unpopular people out. But there are cases where you can look twice you can look closer and the closer you look the stronger the case is. This is one of those cases and if it succeeds the public square will be better off for it.

Now, that`s our report. Up ahead there are millions around the nation bracing for Hurricane Florence closing it on the Carolinas and we have a forecast update next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: A Category Three hurricane is bearing down in the Carolinas right now. It`s prompted mass evacuations along the coast and warnings of possible life-threatening storm surges in rainfall when it does make land. I`m joined by NBC Meteorologists Bill Karins -- excuse me. Bill, what can you tell us about the facts that are known right now?

BILL KARINS, NBC NEW METEOROLOGISTS: Ari, you just said it. You said Category Three and people, it`s only a three, it`s not a four, it`s not a five, but the wind speed is how we determine what category it is. It doesn`t tell you anything at all with how much rain the storm is going to produce and there`s a relationship between how strong the winds are and the storm surge but it doesn`t tell you the whole story because bigger storms can actually move more water towards the coast.

So just because they`re saying it`s a three now, yesterday it was a four, don`t think it`s not going to be any less destructive because maybe we do a little less wind damage but the winds weren`t going to kill the most people and they weren`t going to do the most damage anyways from the beginning of the storm. So it`s the rain and it`s the surges that are going to cause the most problems on the coast. So yes, 120 miles per hour winds we`re still moving to the northwest at 16 miles per hour. This time tomorrow it`ll probably be down to like six miles per hour, and then about 48 hours from now it`ll probably be moving at two, three miles per hour and that`s on top of Wilmington. That`s the problem. That`s the issue with this storm.

So here`s how the Hurricane Center played it out with their 5:00 p.m. advisory. This comes out every six hours, so 11:00 p.m. we`ll get our next track and our next estimates on the wind speeds at the time. They keep it as a major hurricane as it approaches early Friday morning. There`s a chance Wilmington by the time you get to sun up or during the morning hours, you could be right in the center of the eye of the hurricane. It is possible and that`s a, you know, if that happens, obviously, you know, that means you have to go through the northernmost eyewall and then possibly the back side too. So it`s not a good thing to be going through the eyes. That means you`re getting both sides of the storm.

And then this is 170 miles in 48 hours. That`s three miles per hour average for 48 hours from Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. That is a crawl that`s at least for high tide cycles on the beaches of North Carolina here with the wind`s coming onshore and that means just high tide, more beach erosion, more damage with each cycle as we go throughout the day. So as far as the winds go, the power outage potential extremely high as you`d expect with a major hurricane. The Wilmington area all the way up here to Onslow County, that includes Camp Lejeune the big Marine base there.

Storm surge, the biggest issues are in this nine the 13-foot range. That`s with the multiple high tide cycles. I think the worst one is going to be Friday as we go throughout the noon hour. The one towards Friday midnight not going to be any fun either, so there`s that high tide. And then, after all, we`re done with this, Ari, then we have to worry about the problems that we`re going to see with the rainfall. We have the potential for three to four feet of rain especially from Myrtle Beach to Wilmington. That`ll be a disaster on all by itself.

MELBER: Bill Karins, thank you very much. Everyone keeping an eye on this and hoping as you say the good indicators get better. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: THE BEAT is over but you know why you should keep watching for at least the next two hours if not more? Well, "HARDBALL" is sure to be popping. And then after that, Chris Hayes hosting a town hall event with Michael Moore talking to voters and previewing his new film digging into what you need to know about the Trump Presidency, a special edition of "ALL IN" 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. Now that does it for us. "HARDBALL" is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Shipwreck, let`s play HARDBALL.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END