Trump praises Kavanaugh. TRANSCRIPT: 9/19/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Margaret Carlson, Frank Figliuzzi, Cynthia Alksne, Douglas Wigdor, Paul Butler, Matt Miller, Bob Costa; John Kerry

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 19, 2018 Guest: Margaret Carlson, Frank Figliuzzi, Cynthia Alksne, Douglas Wigdor, Paul Butler, Matt Miller, Bob Costa; John Kerry

KATY TUR: Do it for us. Just leave. Also, double down. I hate double down. Gosh, it`s the worst. More of a news clich, than a political clich, but you know what I`m saying.

That is all for tonight. We will be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY. "THE BEAT" starts right now with, not Ari Melber, but my good friend Stephanie Ruhle. Stephanie, I have no awkward talks for you. This was just laid on me.

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Katy, my lady, well here`s my hope. I hope that viewers decide to double down and stick around for the next hour.

TUR: Dagger to the heart.

RUHLE: Goodbye, my good friend. So much love for my friend Katy Tur.

Good evening, everyone. I`m Stephanie Ruhle in this evening for my other friend Ari Melber.

And we`re going to start with the story everyone is talking about, the fight over Donald Trump`s Supreme Court pick today. Republicans giving Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser an ultimatum, talk to us by Monday or we`ll move forward without your testimony. But Christine Blasey Ford is saying she wants the FBI to investigate her claim, that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school before she testifies. Kavanaugh denies the incident even happened. And this morning, the one person who could order the FBI to investigate said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we`ve seen that the FBI really doesn`t do that. They have investigated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They would if you ask them to, Mr. President.

TRUMP: They have investigated about six times before and it seems that they don`t do that. I would let the Senators take their force. Let the Senators do it. They`re doing a very good job. They`ve given tremendous amounts of time. They`ve already postponed to make a hearing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: That is not true. It is the president. He absolutely could have the FBI investigate. It is what George Bush did during the time of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. And if you`re thinking an investigation, my God, it will be Robert Mueller`s style, months and months. The Anita Hill FBI investigation took three days.

Today, two former classmates coming forward and they`ve got very different stories. Patrick Smith who graduated from Kavanaugh`s Prep school says he has no knowledge of that party after a report identifying him as being there. In the meantime, one of Ford`s classmates says, "The incident did happen and that it was spoken about for days afterwards in school." Although she says she did not hear about it firsthand.

Democrats, no surprise, is saying these kinds of claims are exactly what the FBI should investigate. And like I said, it is something the FBI has done before. In 1991 specifically, the White House directed the FBI to investigate Anita Hill`s allegations against Clarence Thomas. President George H.W. Bush`s team saying it issued the order promptly the very day it learned of the accusation. Thomas saying this in his opening statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARENCE THOMAS, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: The first I learned of the allegations by Professor Anita Hill was on September 25, 1991, when the FBI came to my home to investigate her allegations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: And as I said, three days, three days. I completely understand the midterms are coming, the importance of the politics. Three days we`re talking about a judgeship that will last a lifetime. And those three days ended with a White House report that the allegations were unfounded. This morning, Anita Hill gave her advice to the Senate judiciary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA HILL, PROFESSOR: My advice is to push the pause button on this hearing. Get the information together, bring in the experts and put together a hearing that is fair, that is impartial, that is not bias by politics or by myth and bring this information to the American public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: With me now, former counsel to the Mayor of New York City Maya Wiley. She also work as a civil prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. My old friend Margaret Carlson, columnist to "The Daily Beast" who has a new article in the daily news about this very topic. And Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI.

Maya, to you first. The president was clearly, and let`s make it clear, not being honest. I`m not being biased when he said, "I can`t do it. It`s up to these guys." That`s not the case. The president could order an FBI investigation and it is not something that would necessarily take months.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO NYC MAYOR: It would not necessarily take months. He absolutely can order it and should because in this case, we`ve already seen even without the FBI reopening the background check that there are people starting to come forward saying that they have information relevant to the case.

Because the fact that you have a classmate saying people were talking about this, tells you that there`s a way to identify whether there are other people who had knowledge of what happened at that party. And certainly, that is extremely relevant to judge the voracity that the truthfulness of someone who is going to sit in one of the most powerful seats in the land.

RUHLE: Frank, transparency would certainly help the honest. If there was an FBI investigation, it doesn`t necessarily support what Professor Ford says. Why would the president not want to do that? Why wouldn`t Brett Kavanaugh not want that? If Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth, the classmate who says this was spoken about at school for days, she wasn`t actually at the party. If there was an FBI investigation opened, they could ask those questions to people who were there.

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: It looks like the only person asking for an independent, objective investigation is the victim and that`s disturbing. So what is it that people are afraid of? Are they afraid of what the FBI might find? Are they afraid that they would lose control of the facts, that they would not be able to shape the outcome of their hearing?

So the White House absolutely could ask the FBI to intervene. It`s the Federal Bureau of Investigation. they investigate for a living. In particular, they have specialists who interview sexual assault victims for a living. They do it right, they do it privately and they get results.

Then we get additional witnesses involved. We would determine whether or not there was a party or not. And then all of that could be presented to the committee for finding credibility and voracity. That`s not the bureau`s job in this case but absolutely could be done. And in my opinion, it should be done. The bureau should be allowed to finish their background investigation.

RUHLE: But in terms of fact-finding, Margaret, to Frank`s point, Professor Ford, the victim, if she`s not telling the truth, then Brett Kavanaugh would be a victim here. Shouldn`t he be calling for an investigation? It doesn`t mean it will take months because that would clear him. Otherwise, we`re going to walk into Monday with a he said, she said.

And the one person who Christine Ford is saying was in the room, Mark Judge is siding with Brett Kavanaugh yet he`s unwilling to testify. So if Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth, shouldn`t he sound the alarm and say let`s open the textbook and show you what`s inside?

MARGARET CARLSON: He will have a cloud hanging over him if he doesn`t and that he doesn`t want an investigation which could be done in a matter of days is very telling to me. And then she wants one so that -- without one, we will be no further ahead except to see her demeanor. We know Judge Kavanaugh`s. Then we are now, which is she says one thing and he says another.

She`s asking for an FBI investigation that may or may not end up supporting her version of events. He does not want to take that chance. He`s following the Trump playbook which is deny, deny, deny. And there`s a witness in plain sight that she revealed who happens to be a good friend of Brett Kavanaugh`s, who wrote about him in the book that makes Georgetown Prep sound like one big keg party.

He had an alcohol problem. He talks about striking a gong, using women to strike a gong and colossal manhood and its beauty. So it does sound like he would be a witness to every party that happens since he was a party guy. There he is. He could be called. That, by the way, wouldn`t even take the three days it took for Anita Hill. It would take one day.

RUHLE: Yes, it was Mark Judge who was writing about the beauty of I think it was uncontrolled male passion.

CARLSON: Thank you.

RUHLE: Some kind of sad sack if you`re thinking about that, sir. But Margaret, you know politics better than any of us. When you say Brett Kavanaugh is going to have a cloud hanging over him, does he actually care? Mitch McConnell doesn`t give two hoots and he`s got a cloud hanging over him over Merrick Garland. For him, that`s a win. He`s about to get two Supreme Court justices in place. They just want the seats.

CARLSON: Well, Mitch McConnell is about exercising the raw brute force of the majority. It bothers me that I gave Mitch McConnell some benefit of the doubt a few months back when he said, "I believe the women." Do you remember that, Stephanie? This is during Roy Moore.

RUHLE: Yes.

CARLSON: But it turns out, he just didn`t want Roy Moore in the Senate because he`s not believing this woman. And everything that`s come out of every Republican`s mouth other than say Senator Susan Collins and the guys resigning, Flake and Corker, has been to dismiss Christine Ford and to elevate Brett Kavanaugh. Every single word. And this idea that by asking for a couple more days, she`s asking for a huge privilege after, as they would have it, they`ve given her so much already. How dare she ask for this?

RUHLE: We have to remind our audience when you mentioned Susan Collins, it was Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski who both called for Al Franken to step down and we all remember, he didn`t get due process.

What happens if Ford decides she`s not going to appear? This vote is going to go on any way?

WILEY: They could decide to do that. I think it`s a huge travesty because really what the important principle to uphold here is the public trust. We`re talking about the public trust in people who hold some of the most powerful positions. A Supreme Court Justice has the ability with him, in this case, if he were to be confirmed, eight other colleagues to actually say to Congress or the president, "No, you can`t" or "Yes, you can."

So to not actually have a full process to understand whether or not you have someone who will and has upheld the law, to know whether or not you have someone who is truthful and who is not subject to being manipulated is important.

RUHLE: But let`s get out of the philosophical travesty and get into the brute force of the vote. Does she need to show up on Monday, whether it`s a public hearing or a private one, to stop this?

WILEY: Well, I would argue that number one, obviously they have the ability to subpoena her, right.

RUHLE: They`re not going to. They don`t want her to show up.

WILEY: They don`t want her to show up because they`ve already said, "This will give us a pass". I think the point is if they go ahead and say, "If she didn`t show up, therefore, we will ignore the fact that, by the way, we have other people who say they have facts and information relevant to this and we`re not even calling them because some of them have come forward," I think they have actually demonstrated to the public that we`re not actually interested. You also have Senators who`ve already said they don`t believe her.

Now, why would she voluntarily come forward without having the benefit, to your point, not knowing what the outcome would be but the benefit of a neutral, non-partisan background check by experts who know exactly how to get to facts.

RUHLE: And I`ll just say to those Senators, the truth will set you free. If this woman is an opportunist and a liar, have an investigation. Prove it.

And just in, a new statement from Ford`s lawyer saying, "The committee`s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not fair or a good faith investigation. There are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding."

Frank, what do you think of that?

FIGLIUZZI: Here`s the one thing I think that would actually get the FBI involved because the White House isn`t interested in this. Kavanaugh himself needs to come out and tell the White House I want you to ask for the FBI`s involvement. That will get the job done here. And as it has been said, I`d put this at two weeks or less for investigating the known facts and talking to people.

That would put Kavanaugh if all goes well for him, that will put him right in his chair in Supreme Court for the first week of October, for the start of the new term. This works out beautifully. He needs to come out. If he`s got nothing to be afraid of, ask the White House to order the involvement.

CARLSON: Stephanie, --

RUHLE: Two weeks left. This morning, the president was saying how sorry he feels for Brett Kavanaugh and his family. If Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth here, an FBI investigation would support him and support that and his children wouldn`t have to hear all of this nonsense and a character assassination if it`s not warranted.

Last one, Margaret?

CARLSON: Stephanie, Brett Kavanaugh will be like Justice Clarence Thomas who by many women has suspected of being a perjurer. And does he want to be another one on the Supreme Court not having brought to some conclusion what happened that night?

RUHLE: Margaret, there could be a whole lot of women who don`t like Clarence Thomas but he`s got the job.

WILEY: Lifetime.

CARLSON: It`s a lifetime appointment but we`re losing trust in our institutions. And this is another case that`s going to erode that trust even further.

RUHLE: Well, I can truly appreciate you guys joining me for this important conversation. Maya, Margaret, Frank, thank you all so much.

Coming up, Kavanaugh`s accuser is revealing she has gotten death threats and been forced to move out of her home. I`m going to speak to a former sex crimes prosecutor about what alleged victims face when they go public.

Also, President Trump dodging questions about whether he`s going to fire his attorney general or pardon Paul Manafort. Though he says I don`t have an attorney general.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to fire him? Are you going to fire Jeff Sessions?

TRUMP: We are looking at lots of different things. I don`t want to talk about it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: All that plus an interview with John Kerry, talking about Kavanaugh, Mueller and Trump`s foreign policy.

I am Stephanie Ruhle in for Ari Melber. And you are watching THE BEAT right here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE: Welcome back to THE BEAT. I`m Stephanie Ruhle. Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser revealing the personal toll this story has taken on her in the past week alone. Her lawyer saying, "She is now the target of vicious harassment and even death threats. Her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her e-mail has been hacked and she`s been impersonated online. There have been public attacks on her credibility as well."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this woman, whoever she is, is mixed-up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her allegations cover a whole range of conduct from borishness to rough horseplay to actual attempted rape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are we just hearing about this now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given the age of the charges, what`s the standard for credibility?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was in early 1980`s, it`s now 2018. She was 15 years old. She`s now 51. There is ground for some suspicion there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forgive me if I think it`s all hogwash.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: Oh, heaven. Those criticisms echo the attacks on Anita Hill a generation ago. You think we`ve got better? You think things changed? Years ago, here`s what she said about what happens when alleged victims go public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA HILL: There is great risk for women who come forward. I don`t think we understood that in 1991 the way we do. We do not know that people will. Their reputations will be trashed. They will be accused of being vindictive or angry, disgruntled, a whole range of things of accusations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: It`s actually worse. We understand what happens and so many people don`t care.

Joining me now Douglas Wigdor who`s represented numerous sexual assault victims and former sex crimes prosecutor, Cynthia Alksne.

Cynthia, critics are asking why didn`t Ford come out sooner. Yes, I know there`s no appropriate timeframe but given the specificity, how close we are to midterms, the confirmation, this is all getting conflated with a whole lot of really important politics.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: It`s normal for victims to not come out right away. And she did come out some time ago, six years ago. Basically, she has what we call in the sex crimes business "Several outcries" and those are the different times you tell people. And now we find out today that actually there`s a woman on Facebook who has written it was common knowledge at the time that this had happened.

So there had been outcries. She has talked about it. She did bring it up before he was nominated on numerous occasions. And so the fact that it came out late really isn`t that important to me at this point. Here`s where we are and what we need to do is find out what the truth is. That`s where we are right now.

RUHLE": Doug, is it typical for an assault victim who comes out and granted this is very public, it`s very controversial but to get death threats, for her family to have to move out of their home?

DOUGLAS WIGDOR, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, I mean unfortunately it is. I represented the maid in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault rape case. And you`ll recall that she received death threats, I received death threats, my partner received death threats.

RUHLE: From whom?

WIGDOR: From people who were just sitting home watching TV and are crazy. And when she was in police custody, actually, "The New York Post" even ran a story, this is the maid, calling her a prostitute, saying she was actually turning tricks while in police custody. So these are the types of attacks that go onto sexual assault victims who try and come forward. When they proceed in court, they need a strong lawyer. They need someone by their side who protects them, to make sure that defense lawyers and other people don`t attack them.

RUHLE: It is fair to say that in the grand scheme of Me Too which is not just plain sexual assault, there are gray areas but Mark Judge, that`s the writer who was in the room supposedly with Brett Kavanaugh and with Professor Ford wrote in 2015 about what he calls, ready for this one? A middle ground between a woman saying yes and no. He writes, "If that man is any kind of man, he`ll allow himself to feel the awesome power, the wonderful beauty of uncontrollable male passion."

Hey, Mark Judge, FYI, for guys who women want to sleep with, there ain`t no middle ground, brother. We say yes. What in God`s name is this man talking about? The beauty of the uncontrollable passion. Please.

WIGDOR: Well, it`s not only Mr. Judge, actually. If you look at Judge Kavanaugh`s yearbook, there are things in his yearbook that are troublesome as well. I mean I`ve seen his yearbook, that purports to be his yearbook, entry of the clubs that he is part of. The hundred keg club is a reference to the --

RUHLE: OK. But a lot of people can say dopey things when they are 17. Mark Judge wrote about this as an adult.

WIGDOR: There`s one thing and apparently and Kavanaugh calls it devil`s triangle which apparently some reference to two males and a woman. So there are a lot of reasons why I, as a sexual assault victim`s lawyer, really believe what has come out thus far. But your prior segment, you said it right, they don`t want her to appear on Monday. They don`t want Dr. Ford to appear on Monday.

And when her lawyer came on TV Monday and said she would testify, I believe I had said there won`t be a hearing Monday because I don`t think Kavanaugh would go through it. I think they took the foot off the gas pedal.

RUHLE: Who?

WIGDOR: Dr. Ford and her lawyers. I believe that they should proceed to a hearing on Monday or some form to get her message across because right now, nobody`s heard her speak. She hasn`t said anything under oath, no affidavit, nothing. If she were willing to go before the Senators and the judiciary committee or if she were willing to meet with them privately. If she were willing to be interviewed by somebody like yourself. If she were willing to sit down with her lawyer to ask her questions that could be videotaped and shown to the public. The public right now I believe wants to hear her voice. They want to see her. They want to hear her.

RUHLE: And that`s when we start to understand --

WIGDOR: I think Judge Kavanaugh is happy that she`s not coming on Monday. Because I don`t think he would ever show up to that hearing.

RUHLE: Hold on. We don`t know that she`s not showing up on Monday. We know that her first request, her state of play is she wants an investigation. Cynthia, final thought because you`re truly an expert at this. We`ve heard the suggestion from some Republicans that because all of the Republican Senators on the judiciary committee are males, this idea has been floated, she could be questioned by some of their female staffers. To me, who is not a victim, that sounds absurd and that these men can`t possibly ask appropriate questions without having their knuckles drag across the ground or is just sitting across the table from them too jarring for a victim.

ALKSNE: All they care about is the picture for re-election and that`s the only thing that matters to them. Let me say quickly, I think she should testify because it`s part of her healing. Because what`s happened to her is that many years ago, her power was taken from her and if she lets the internet trolls take her power again and force her not to testify, she`s never going to heal. She needs it for catharsis. That would be my advice to her. She needs to come testify and use her voice to say what happened to her.

WIGDOR: And she should have -- I mean Anita Hill, when you see the pictures of Anita Hill back in the 90s, she didn`t have a lawyer sitting next to her. There should be a strong lawyer sitting next to Dr. Ford to make sure that there`s no grandstanding by Senators, somebody who will cut them off, somebody who will say, "That`s inappropriate, Senator. You cannot ask that question."

RUHLE: Cynthia, I want to continue this conversation but since Doug brought up that devil`s triangle, I`m sick to my stomach and I need to take a break. Cynthia, Doug, thank you so much.

WIGDOR: Thank you.

RUHLE: I mean that is hardcore gross.

All right. When we come back, Donald Trump brutally savaging his own attorney general Jeff Sessions saying it`s like he doesn`t have an attorney general. We`re going to be back with that in just 30 seconds. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE: We are back with the other top story tonight. Donald Trump ramping up his attacks on non-other than his own appointed attorney general Jeff Sessions, saying in a new interview, "I don`t have an attorney general." It`s very sad. Later, he would not answer if he`s going to fire Sessions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I`m disappointed in the attorney general for numerous reasons. But we have an attorney general, I`m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons. You understand that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to fire him? Are you planning to fire Jeff Sessions?

TRUMP: We are looking at lots of different things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: And then he went on the say this about Paul Manafort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you concerned about what Paul Manafort will tell investigators?

TRUMP: No, I`m not. I`m not because if he`s honest, and he is, I think he`s going to tell -- as long as he tells the truth, it`s 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you consider a pardon for Paul Manafort?

TRUMP: I don`t want to talk about it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: With me now, Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and Matt Miller, former spokesperson for the Justice Department.

Paul, to you first, President Trump saying I don`t have an attorney general. Well, that`s absolutely not true. What he doesn`t have is a personal fixer in Jeff Sessions.

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That`s right, Stephanie. The president`s problem is that he has an attorney general who understands that the Justice Department represents the United States and not Donald Trump. The president is mad for among other reasons.

Sessions didn`t recuse himself from the Russian investigation but Sessions had a gaping conflict of interest. Sessions lied to the Congress about his own involvement with the Russians so how could he supervise that investigation? Ultimately, Stephanie, the president`s beef isn`t with Sessions. The president`s beef is with the rule of law.

RUHLE: OK. Matt, why does he continue to rip on Jeff Sessions? Why not just fire him? Because one of the issues he faces is Jeff Sessions` agenda is actually the policy agenda that suits many Republicans. Jeff Sessions is a lifelong Republican. The issue where these two don`t see eye to eye is the Russia investigation which voters don`t have as a priority.

MATT MILLER, FORMER CHIEF SPOKESPERSON, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, that`s right. And if you look at what Jeff Sessions has done, it`s not just been his policy agenda but really on a number of other things in terms of politicizing the department. He has bent over backwards to accommodate Donald Trump in every way he possibly can.

He`s ordered up an internal investigation. He`s asked prosecutors to come through some of the conspiracy theories that Donald Trump has advanced. The one thing he can`t do is just blatantly violate DOJ laws by inserting himself in the things he`s recused from or in a criminal investigation when there`s no criminal predicate.

RUHLE: So why don`t he just fire him? One thing he`s not doing is hooking him up on the Russia investigation.

MILLER: I think there are two things. I think up until now Trump has felt like he`s constrained by the Republican majority in the Senate where Sessions had until the last few months had deep and long-lasting support. I don`t think he`s been able to figure out a fix going forward. So it`s one thing to fire Jeff Sessions but just elevating Rod Rosenstein into the attorney general job doesn`t get Trump what he really wants. Rod Rosenstein isn`t going to fire Mueller. Rod Rosenstein isn`t going to shut down the investigation. And I doubt Trump has been able figure out a way to get someone into that job who would carry out such a lawless --

RUHLE: Right. You don`t think Rudy Giuliani could get confirmed?

MILLER: I don`t think Rudy Giuliani could get confirmed. But I would say there`s another problem, too, which is, you know, there are ways he can move other officials from inside the government into the job in an acting position. I doubt he`s found someone yet who is willing to be that blatantly political to go and shut down the Mueller probe.

RUHLE: That is a wow.

I want to play what Hillary Clinton told Rachel Maddow last night specifically about firing people after the midterms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I worry about, Rachel, is that after this election, this president is going to wholesale fire people. That`s my prediction for tonight.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: OK.

CLINTON: Like my prediction from last year. And if we don`t have one or both Houses of Congress in place, he will be even more uncontrollable and unaccountable. He will fire people in the White House. He will fire people in his administration who he thinks are crossing him, questioning him, undermining him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: Wow. Well, I don`t know if Hillary Clinton has a crystal ball, that`s worrisome.

Paul, do you think wholesale firings are a possibility?

BUTLER: Stephanie, that would be the real witch hunt. It would be reminiscent of the `50s in which they were trying to purge all these alleged communist and all of these innocent, hard working people got caught up in that investigation.

You know, one interesting thing we saw today is that the president now is coming out with new reasons to fire Sessions. He brought up immigration for the first time to Matt`s point. Immigration actually (INAUDIBLE) reasons to fire Sessions, he was the biggest cheerleader for that cruel family separations policy but we all know that`s not the president`s concern.

RUHLE: Except President Trump supports those policies.

BUTLER: Exactly. Exactly.

RUHLE: They were his zero tolerance policies that were only reversed after the media attention.

BUTLER: The irony is that Sessions is probably the most effective Cabinet member at carrying out the president`s agenda.

RUHLE: Not if you`re talking about a president who wants to put himself first. He certainly doesn`t like Russia. Russia. Russia.

Paul, Matt, thank you so much. This story only getting more complicated.

Coming up, Republicans privately worrying about the bad politics of the Kavanaugh fight. I`ll be speaking to the reporter who`s breaking this story.

And later, your fearless host who is out tonight but with you, Ari Melber has a very special interview. A one-on-one with John Kerry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE: Moments ago the lawyer for Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser saying multiple witnesses should appear at the hearing on Monday. In public GOP senators are calling on Christine Blasey Ford to testify without any FBI probe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: We agreed to offer her a private hearing. I think that`d be a big mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why would that be a mistake?

KENNEDY: Well, because I think the American people need to hear from both Dr. Ford.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The effort right now is still to convince Professor Ford to come forward as she has said that she wants to do. And I think it would be better for her to do so.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Where I`m focused right now is doing everything that we can to make Dr. Ford comfortable with coming before our committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: What would make her comfortable is other witnesses and an FBI investigation but in private -- this is what`s interesting, it`s a very different story. The "Washington Post`s" Bob Costa reporting some GOP aides told Bob, me, he writes, their bosses would not mind a brief FBI probe to clear Kavanaugh`s name.

Joining me now, "Washington Post`s" national political reporter, my friend, Bob Costa.

Bob, that`s the exact point I was trying to make earlier. If Brett Kavanaugh is the prince, the angel, the guy with not a blemish on his record, why wouldn`t they say, let`s do a brief FBI investigation? He deserves to have his name cleared. His family deserves it. And by the way, given the death threats that her family had to move, that she`s been hacked, the FBI could even go with an investigation on that. Why wouldn`t Republicans say let`s do it?

BOB COSTA, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: There`s a fascinating debate happening right now inside the Republican Party. There are some aides who privately say they are telling their bosses, the lawmakers push for that FBI investigation just because they want to clear Kavanaugh`s name. The federal judge`s name. At the same time there`s getting push back from members of Republican leadership who are saying the FBI has already concluded its investigation, that it would only delay the vote. Let the investigation as it is stand and just have the testimony be public and move on. That`s the tension there. And so far the leadership is winning that battle.

RUHLE: OK. Why would some GOP leaders put -- if it`s not just for timing, though, why wouldn`t they say let`s do a probe? I mean, I`ve got to guess they`re lining up other judges right now as possible backups. Wouldn`t they want this to be clean?

COSTA: Well, they also want a standoff, Stephanie. They really want to bring the accuser, Dr. Ford to the public. And they say we would let her speak privately but they don`t want to let this just continue to lag on. And so far they are trying to test the American people, test the public to see is this acceptable just two months before the midterm elections to not delay it further, to sit on the investigation as it stands, and to just really call the accuser Dr. Ford to come forward.

RUHLE: You know, Bob, I don`t know if I believe that. I actually think that behind closed doors they are hoping and praying she doesn`t show up.

COSTA: That is true. Some of them hope she does not show up because they also really fear the spectacle in their eyes of hearing where -- that is emotionally charged, that injects gender debates into the midterm elections, but you`re right, they do want to avoid that. And so this idea that they`re calling her to come forward in part, they do want to clear Kavanaugh. They tell me. But at the same time, most of them privately would rather that Dr. Ford didn`t show up.

RUHLE: Bob, if Brett Kavanaugh is innocent, he deserves to have his name cleared. He should want an FBI investigation because gosh, if he`s innocent, he shouldn`t want that cloud.

Bob, thank you so much. As always, awesome reporting, my friend, Roberto Costa.

COSTA: Thank you.

RUHLE: Ahead, the special interview on THE BEAT. Ari`s conversation with John Kerry. They covered a lot. The Kavanaugh fight. The Mueller probe. And Donald Trump`s takeover of the GOP. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE: Now to my colleague Ari Melber who of course is the man of this hour and a very special interview with former secretary of state John Kerry, covering everything from the Kavanaugh fight to foreign affairs and life in the Trump era.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Right now the U.S. Senate is at the center of a defining debate in America. How to assess allegations of sexual assault and who should join the Supreme Court to ultimately make life and death decision about women`s rights, national security and this probe into the Trump White House.

Well, we are joined on THE BEAT tonight by a man who defined many of those battles during 28 years in the Senate, John Kerry, until he left that public service to answer a call from President Obama to replace of course Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Kerry won the Democratic nomination for president and ran against George Bush in 2004, a campaign I worked on. And as people explore the lessons from the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, I want to welcome Secretary Kerry and begin by looking at how you approach that issue then, sir. Because there was as you know skepticism of Anita Hill from senators in both parties.

You were especially direct about the general disparity and sexism in the Senate at the time. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It is not the accuracy of those accusations that`s at issue. It is the relationship of 98 men in the United States Senate to the majority of the citizens of this nation, women. And whether or not we are capable of saying that when one woman stands up and suggests this, not because she volunteered it but because the Senate committee came to her, and then she felt they weren`t listening, whether we`re now going to listen. That`s what it`s about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Senator, you look at that, is the Senate doing any better in your view? Is Dr. Ford credible and what does this Senate owe her in this process?

KERRY: Well, I can`t speak to the issues of credibility, Ari. There`s no way for me -- you know, I don`t have all the facts and I`m not going to venture forth on that.

With respect to the Senate doing better, the Senate is doing better because it has more women in it than it did. I mean, when I came to the United States Senate, I had as many daughters as there were women senators. That`s two. And one shortly after was beaten, Paula Hawkins of Florida. So we`ve traveled a long way since then.

MELBER: You mentioned gender, it seems sometimes that gender is a bigger dividing line than even the parties or partisanship which we know is big in Washington. Take a look at Joe Biden in part of the way he approached Miss Hill in those famous hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: You`re uncomfortable, you`re embarrassed, did it not concern you? How did you feel about it? Can you tell the committee what was the most embarrassing of all the incidences that you have alleged?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Do you think Joe Biden, and you guys served together, got that wrong and what can the senators do better this time?

KERRY: Look, I`m not ducking you but I literally do not have the full context. I don`t know what proceeded it. I don`t know what followed it. I was a former prosecutor. You`ve got to look at every circumstance here. And I`m confident senators on both sides of the aisle are going to do that.

MELBER: Your new book probes public service, I want to put up on the screen, something I think viewers may enjoy, "Every Day is Extra." And you get into that then. The photo here we`re going to show folks is of you and another famous individual, Bob Mueller, on your high school hockey team. I will say you both have pretty long faces then and now, and good heads of hair for what that`s worth. But when you think --

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: When you think about the two of you as military veterans, as prosecutors and people who`ve lived very different public lives, what is important about public service that you learned, what do you remember of him, and how is that challenged during what is obviously currently a time of strain in the Trump era?

KERRY: Well, he`s a terrific public servant. And I had occasion to work with him a couple of times in the course of my career. I think he wouldn`t be doing what he`s doing today if his credentials weren`t impeccable and I have great confidence as I think most Americans do as people have gotten to watch how he`s quietly, steadily proceeded to perform his responsibilities.

MELBER: When you look at the Congress today, based on as you say the lessons you`ve drawn from public service, what do you see as the biggest problems?

KERRY: Unfortunately the caucuses tend to be more polarized and then the positions are more polarized. I think -- I mean really began to see that happen in the early days of the Gingrich transformation in the 1990s. Then to the Tea Party, then to the caucus, to the Freedom Caucus. And ultimately, you know, Donald Trump effected what was essentially a hostile takeover of what was there in the Republican Party. And he`s changed it now.

So it`s much more polarized. Much more divisive. So we have no longer any arbiter about what are the facts. So you hear somebody talk about alternative facts. There`s no such thing. But today the number of daily lives in American politics, the number of accusations, I mean, I`m being accused now of some. But they`re all distractions.

MELBER: So you mentioned that.

KERRY: Their purpose --

MELBER: Senator, I`ll jump in since you mentioned it. We`ll put a direct point on it. You had tweeted back to President Trump saying he should be more worried about Manafort meeting with Mueller than your meeting with Iran`s foreign minister, and then you plugged your book which, you know, you and Trump can go back and forth in that way. Now of course he had said John Kerry had, quote, "illegal meetings with the hostile Iranian regime, which only undercuts our great work to the detrimental of the American people." That`s not true. There`s been no legal finding to that end.

KERRY: Well, leave aside, Ari, just for a minute.

MELBER: Go ahead.

KERRY: Leave aside the question of a legal finding. There is nothing to find. That is, that`s a lie. What the president is doing is trying to distract from a reality. I had -- you know, I think it was three meetings, I can be precise now, it was three, and one was at a peace conference where many people were invited from all over the world. I had nothing to do with that and I met there. And another meeting was at the U.N. General Assembly in New York during the course of the U.N. General Assembly when people meet with everybody, and the final one was in Munich at the security conference. He was invited by not by me, but by other people.

And ever since Donald Trump has changed the policy once he pulled out of the deal, I have not met with anybody on that. So this is just, to use a term, this is Trumped up. This administration doesn`t want to debate the real issues because they can`t. They don`t have any facts for why they pulled out of the Paris accords, why we have climate change coming at us on a daily basis and its impacts on our country.

They don`t have a rationale for why it is they can explain that China, Russia, France, Germany, Britain are all trying to keep the Iran deal alive. I don`t have anything to do with that. That`s their decision. So this is just an effort to avoid their own incompetence, their own inability to do things in Washington in a presidential manner and I think the American people see through it.

MELBER: Well, and that`s the final big foreign policy question I wanted to ask you. It`s often referenced that Donald Trump seems to try to roll back anything he can that Obama did. Part of that is really rolling back a lot of what you and Secretary Clinton did in U.S. diplomacy. As you mentioned on Iran, on China, on Cuba, North Korea, going in I suppose a different direction, TBD, and then of course these trade wars plus Paris and the environment.

It`s a long list, sir. So I would ask you, what do you think is the most concerning or dangerous approach that he`s taking abroad? And is there anything as we talk about bipartisanship, is there anything you`ve seen Donald Trump do on the world stage that you can get behind?

KERRY: I think the general challenge of the administration`s approach is they`re attacking our friends. They take on Canada and Justin Trudeau. They take on Mexico. They`re hammering away at NATO. They`re isolating Europe. They`re sending general tremors through the world with respect to the reliability of this administration and of the United States except in a couple of corners where people have been given a carte blanche to do what they want.

Now I support -- I supported his effort to reach out to North Korea and it`s obvious from the glitzy Singapore summit that took place that they didn`t work out what denuclearization means. They don`t yet have specific means of inspecting, specific means of accounting for what the arsenal is and so forth. And that`s the real stuff of an agreement.

MELBER: Right.

KERRY: And there`s no evidence right now that that`s happened. So Kim Jong-un got exactly what he wanted. Every administration wants this nuclear issue with North Korea to get resolved. And every one of us will hope for the success of the administration because the United States of America and the world will be safer.

MELBER: Well, and that`s a fitting point to pause on, Secretary Kerry. The book is "Every Day is Extra." Great to see you again. Appreciate you coming on THE BEAT.

KERRY: Thank you. My pleasure. Thank you very much.

MELBER: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RUHLE: And of course right there Ari Melber who I hope is home watching, with John Kerry. We`re going to be back with more of that new statement from Christine Ford, the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh. We have a lot to cover.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: They`re really trying to railroad this and they`re doing it in a way that I find so offensive and so outrageous and all women in America should be paying attention because what is happening is not right.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He has an unblemished record. This is a very tough thing for him and his family. He is such an outstanding man. Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: President Trump and Senator Gillibrand, no surprise, with two very different views of the Brett Kavanaugh controversy. And we just got in more of that new statement from Kavanaugh`s accuser, Professor Christine Blasey Ford. Her lawyer says, quote, "Fairness and respect for her situation dictate that she should have time to deal with this. She is willing to cooperate with the committee, however, there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding. The rush to a hearing is unnecessary and contrary to the committee discovering the truth."

The GOP chairman of the committee, Chuck Grassley, has set a deadline of 10:00 a.m. this Friday for Ford to provide her opening statement to the committee if she plans to testify.

That does it for me. I will see you back tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. "HARDBALL" with my dear friend,Chris Matthews starts right now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Calling all witnesses. Let`s play HARDBALL.

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

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