Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 20, 2018 Guest: John Flannery, Mara Gay, Daniel Goldman, Nancy Erika Smith, Jess McIntosh, Rachel Crooks, Christina Greer, Will.i.am
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with a lot more MTP DAILY. I promise you that. "THE BEAT" though with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much.
There are new developments tonight in these negotiations over Brett Kavanaugh facing his accuser as early as next week under oath. We have that reporting later in the show.
But we begin with breaking news in the Mueller probe. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is now talking to Bob Mueller. He spent hours doing it and he talked about collusion, about Russia, about their business and even about pardons. That may sound like Donald Trump`s worst nightmare if his Supreme Court nominee were not in peril the night, it would clearly be the White House largest legal worry.
Although it`s fair to say at this hour that the White House legal team is basically being rocked in both of these directions. Pressure on the man that Trump may hope would protect him against any Russia probe issues at the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh and then pressure from the man who used to be paid to protect him against all legal troubles, long time personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
So let`s get to it. Here is what we know right now. This is a report from "ABC News". For the first time stating that Mueller`s team sat Cohen down for multiple interviews, which makes him a cooperating convict as he awaits that sentencing up in New York. Now, the reporting is that they focus, Mueller`s team, on Trump and Russia including potential business there and potential collusion between, of course, Vladimir Putin`s Russia and the Trump campaign, and that line of questioning.
They also reportedly discussed whether Trump or any of his associates talked about a pardon for Michael Cohen. This news, of course, comes less than a month after Cohen pled guilty to federal crimes and implicated the president in one of them. Now remember, back then, no one knew for sure if Cohen would cooperate with investigators at all. And if you follow the news, you may recall there were observers and Trump defenders who emphasized at the time that, well, there wasn`t a public commitment to cooperate.
Well, tonight we know there is cooperation with Michael Cohen. And that means if you`re keeping score that every guilty Trump aid, all five of them, is now working effectively, for Bob Mueller. Cohen`s interviews have taken place in both Washington and New York according to this "ABC News" report. They have been voluntary. That means that Cohen is not getting formal promises from prosecutors, although it certainly doesn`t hurt to cooperate.
These talks reportedly beginning while Manafort`s deal was also taking shape. Now, why is this so big? Well, as we know, Michael Cohen, more than most people, is positioned to speak not only about Trump`s payoffs to women but his wider business dealings, any other legal issues that may not have ever leaked out because they may have actually tamped them down just as they did during 2016 on those payments. And all of this comes even as Donald Trump has tried to downplay the entire relationship ever since Cohen began to waver.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to as Michael Cohen. Michael`s my attorney and you`ll have to ask Michael.
Well, he was a lawyer for me for one of many. They will say the lawyer and then they like to add the fixer. Well, I don`t know if he`s a fixer.
So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, good man.
Well, it turned out he wasn`t a very good lawyer, frankly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Let`s get to it. I`m joined by the New York Times Mara Gay, Daniel Goldman former federal prosecutor and now works at the Brennan Center for Justice, affiliated with NYU Law and another former federal prosecutor John Flannery.
John, we live in a world where we all risk sounding repetitive but this is big. This is not what you would have expected a year ago, let alone five. On your view of the legal Richter scale, how important is the news that Michael Cohen is not only convicted and cooperating, some of which had been indicated, but actually is talking Russia to Mueller?
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think it`s bigger than what happened in Hawaii. That`s how big I think it is. And it`s clear that hell hath no fury like a conspirator spurn. The coming forward, the way he has, is acceptance of responsibility and will affect the sentencing in an affirmative way certainly if he has something that contributes to these ongoing investigations.
But he can take this back to 2013 when he was in Russia talking about whether or not there could be a Trump Tower in Moscow. And so he could take us from 2013 forward through the various iterations of what Moscow was doing here and tell us whether or not there was anything going on and maybe give corroboration for the steel dossier.
So I think this is quite significant and combined with the other people who are cooperating, the news surrounds Mr. Trump grows tighter and tighter. You can understand why the desperation comes out of the west wing these days.
MELBER: Right. And, Mara, I don`t have a strong view on the word which and its associations, but if the president does see this as a hunt for witches, there are five guilty witches who have been proven to be engaged in witchcraft because they admitted it. And now they`re talking to Mueller, Cohen being the biggest in a way.
MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That`s right. I mean what`s happening is that the president is beating the same exact drum that he has been all along. The problem is it`s looking less and less based in reality. And so while you have the legal process playing out, you actually also have the public opinion process playing out.
And the reality is not as Trump tweeted, the reality is that you have five Trump aides who have either been convicted of or pleaded guilty to what is increasingly looking to be, I don`t want to use the legal term conspiracy but related to the Russian interference in our elections. And Trump has all along, especially with Rudy Giuliani tried to play not just in the courtroom, but in the court of public opinion.
And I think that the narrative is actually building on Bob Mueller`s side and I would argue on the side of the American democracy. And I think that the truth -- I think there`s an overwhelming sense that`s building that the truth, whatever it may be, is going to be found out by the American people. And I think as that happens and moves forward, the president is increasingly desperate and isolated.
MELBER: And Daniel, looking at Cohen as a potential witness who`s not a perfect witness given his own posting or the role he play, given the intimidation tactics and given what may be a pension at times for exaggeration or puffery. I mean that`s certainly how he defends some of his intimidation is saying, "Well, maybe I made someone afraid but I wouldn`t literally do them harm."
I wonder how you see him as both intel promoter and a potential witness if there are later trials. And for your analysis with that, let`s keep in mind and let`s play the secret recording that Cohen himself made, which again doesn`t make him that great a lawyer to Donald Trump`s point. Most lawyers aren`t supposed to be secretly recording their clients. How does this fit into his role here? Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF THE PRESIDENT: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that information regarding our friend David, you know, so that -- I`m going to do that right away. I`ve actually --
TRUMP: Give it to me.
COHEN: And I have spoken to Alan Weiselberg about how to set the whole thing up with --
TRUMP: So how are we going to pay?
COHEN: Funding, yes. And it`s all the stuff because, you know, you never know where that company -- correct. So I`m all over that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Daniel, how does Mueller look at that when we know that A, that tape was something Cohen made to try to help himself but it ultimately was evidence against him when he admitted guilt in the campaign finance violation?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, it`s good corroboration for Michael Cohen. And so recordings are sort of gold mines for any witness, cooperating witness who has to testify. If they can have recordings from before they cooperated, that`s very helpful. There are a couple of things in this report, Ari, that really jumped out at me.
The first is that they have met multiple times for many hours. Michael Cohen went on a -- Lanny Davis went on a tour essentially begging Bob Mueller to let Michael Cohen come and cooperate with him. And as a prosecutor, I would have said, "Sure. Come on in and talk to me." And I might have given him a perfunctory hour or two, but the fact that it`s so much time indicates that there`s a lot of meat that he`s offering.
And the second thing that really jumped out is that the mention of the business dealings. That`s an indication that Bob Mueller is digging into Donald Trump`s business dealings and his business associates in Russia. That is certainly within his mandate because it likely explains some of the activity that occurred during the campaign. But it gives us a sense of what is out there between Donald Trump and the Russians and it`s particularly important because we have not seen his tax returns, but presumably, Bob Mueller has.
MELBER: Right. And then John Flannery, the flip side there is if there were a lot of crimes committed, some of them as we have mentioned have been confessed, but there was no Putin-related collusion crime, then it would seem that Michael Cohen could still in that way be helpful to the president that he has no reason to spin anymore. He has every reason to give a full version of the truth. And what if he says to Mueller, "Yes. We were out in Russia and it was a really incompetent fundraising operation, but we didn`t get any help to my knowledge from Putin-backed people."
FLANNERY: Yes. I don`t buy your hypothetical, but yes that is possible. It`s also possible we`ll levitate. I just don`t see that being the turn given who we know the president to be. The president --
MELBER: Well, John, I believe witches -- I`m not an expert but witches do levitate. That`s the whole reason you could hold them under water.
FLANNERY: There`s one levitating in the west wing right now. And I don`t know if he should be talking about catching wizards but we do catch witches I suppose. In this case, like you said, the people who are cooperating are a variety of witches. I also think the debriefings are another way to deal with the possibility of a pardon.
That is to debrief thoroughly so that you`re not caught up by these people and that you have witnesses, probably FBI agents. I don`t know if they are recording any of it. Dan and I probably put people in the grand jury to lock in their testimony in a general way, often with leading questions that may have happened as well. And we have him, he`s a triple threat. He`s not only helping Mueller, he`s helping the Southern District and he`s helping the state prosecution as well. So this is not a happy time in the west wing I think.
MELBER: I`m almost out of time but Mara, on a journalistic view, I wanted your ideas about James Comey who has never one to hold back. He`s a witness in this probe and probably should not speculate. But he`s making it some ways by saying he thinks we`re in the fourth quarter. Of course, he doesn`t know. I wonder based on your view as a reporter, is there any way to tell what quarter we`re in?
GAY: No. I think the responsible thing to do right now as a journalist is to tell the story with the facts that we have so far. And that doesn`t mean being a stenographer and saying we have no idea if the president`s aides had an involvement in this. That means being true to the facts, putting them into a narrative, and making that narrative clear, telling that story to the American people as we know it so far. And that`s really all we can do. And quite frankly, there`s a lot we can say so far. The evidence is out in plain sight.
MELBER: Mara Gay, Daniel Goldman, and John Flannery, I do have to fit in a break because we have a lot of other news. My thanks to each of you.
The other news is that Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser, Ms. Ford, is saying she`s willing to testify next week. That puts the ball back into the Republican`s court. And the pressure boiling as protesters were in the Hill.
Meanwhile, Reverend Al Sharpton will be here later to talk about his view on Michael Cohen. They prayed together. And I have a special segment on gun control and where we`re headed with Will I Am for the Black Eye Peas. He has a new album getting quite political in the Trump era.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: New developments in the Supreme Court fight. Brett Kavanaugh`s sexual assault accuser prepared to testify next week.
Here is the news. The lawyer for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford saying she would "Be prepared to testify next week as long as the Senators offer terms that are `fair and ensure her safety`". Ford`s attorney adds that a hearing on Monday is not possible, but the strong preference is still for an investigation before any testimony would be offered. Meanwhile, the chairman of the committee Chuck Grassley rejecting any call for the FBI to get involved but consider that he said this during the Clarence Thomas` hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN.CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA: Now when the chairman of the judiciary committee and when the ranking member of the judiciary committee learned of these allegations, the FBI was immediately ordered to conduct an investigation. That investigation was completed before the Senate judiciary committee voted on Friday, September 27, 1991.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The criticism of Grassley comes from, well, historical Grassley. Meanwhile, as for Judge Kavanaugh, he was back at the White House third day in a row preparing for whatever comes next. He was getting grilled by a small group about his past, his dating life and the account of this accuser. As given, the accuser, of course, Dr. Ford is out with her own strategy. She`s reportedly advised by Ricki Seidman, a Democratic operative who helped with Anita Hill`s preparations against Clarence Thomas, which she talked about in those hearings in `91.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANITA HILL: On September 6, Ricki Seidman called me. She again asked me about rumors whether I knew anything about his actually being engaging in sexually harassing acts. I told Ms. Seidman that I would neither confirm nor deny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: White House pressing forward but Congressional Republicans worry about the risk here. Anti-Kavanaugh protesters were swarming the Hill today including 56 arrests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s the pressure on the ground.
I`m joined now by Attorney Nancy Erika Smith who has experience in these matters, including representing Gretchen Carlson in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Fox News CEO Roger Ailes that prove quite impactful. And Jess McIntosh, executive editor of Shareblue Media
Nancy, I begin with you because I`d like you to walk us through what the legal strategy is on the Ford side. What are they hoping to get out of this latest development?
NANCY ERIKA SMITH: Well, I think that they are trying to avoid Dr. Ford not being able to speak at all and having sort of a kangaroo court where Kavanaugh gets in front of the nation and in a very rehearsed way in front of a very friendly and some of the same exact people who grilled Anita Hill amazingly, same men who grilled Anita Hill. I think that they are trying to avoid that kind of circus atmosphere where she`s completely disregarded.
On the other hand, it`s dangerous because we have such resources on the other side. On the other side, we have the White House, giant law firms with private investigators. In a normal case, if you slip in a supermarket, you get discovery. You share information. There are investigations. If you have a car accident, if you`re charged with a misdemeanor, there`s a process in our court system that allows you to share information. The Republicans are making sure that process does not happen for Dr. Ford.
MELBER: Well, let`s dig into your point there. Because what you`re talking about is a procedural due process, which is something that most people luckily, hopefully, don`t have to think about that much. But it`s a prerequisite for any fair fact-finding, which lawyers spend a lot of time on. And if anybody knows about that, to your point, is the judiciary committee. We showed Grassley contradicting himself over the historical timeline. Here is Senator Hatch as well, Nancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R): Chairman Biden and the ranking member Thurmond, when they heard about this the first time, they immediately ordered us the FBI investigation, which was a very right thing to do. It`s the appropriate thing to do. They did what every other chairman and ranking member have done in the past. And the investigation was done and it was a good investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So Nancy, I don`t want to lead a witness or panelist, you are far more experienced lawyer than I am, but I would ask you does the historical record suggest that those Senators, at least Grassley and Hatch, are knowingly trying to deny Dr. Ford her procedural due process?
SMITH: They certainly are. They`re trying to rush. What`s the rush? The Republicans didn`t let President Obama fill a seat on United States Supreme Court for a year. Kennedy left less than two months ago. Why the rush? And why not let the FBI do the investigation? It`s a crime to lie to the FBI and it`s very telling that Dr. Ford is saying, "Please let me participate in an investigation" and Mr. Kavanaugh is saying", "No FBI. The Republicans absolutely don`t want it."
Also telling is that they are allowing Mr. Judge who Dr. Ford said was actually a participant in the assault, they are allowing him to say, "I don`t want to testify." And as we know from Anita Hill, she had corroborating witnesses who were not allowed to testify. Has anything changed since 1991? Except that now we don`t even pretend to have due process for the accuser.
JESS MCINTOSH, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Yes, it`s stunningly intellectually dishonest and this is why women are so angry. It is so very obvious that there`s no principle at work here. It is simply about silencing women and making sure that these men, regardless of how they treated us, are able to ascend to the very highest rungs of power. When this happens, you hear all the time due process, due process, due process.
Now, we are in a place where the accuser is asking for due process and these men, despite their own protestations previously, are trying to say that they don`t need to require it. We used to have laws in this country, laws that were designed to make it very difficult for women to claim rape credibly, that required a witness, a third party to have witnessed the sexual assault. That`s how rare it is to have a witness in these things. We have one now and he`s not going to testify.
MELBER: To your point, Jess, in cases of false accusation whether they involve a false accusation of any type of crime, the general view is that time helps the falsely accused if they are falsely accused because, over time, things can then come out. It would be highly unusual for the person who is claiming that they`re falsely accused that what they need is a rush to judgment before things are examined because that`s when something else might step in.
With that point, I want to turn to the other part of this, which is obviously the politics, Jess. Take a look at the new poll. This is out tonight. "Wall Street Journal", NBC and you`re seeing the shift basically opposition rising against Kavanaugh. Is that also part of the Republican rush?
MCINTOSH: Yes. I mean the opposition is rising. I mean women are done. The opposition is rising among independent men. Like Republicans need to understand that they will face a massive political backlash if they continue to support this person. You don`t get to those numbers with just Democrats. Republican women, those 50 percent of white women that voted for Trump that we now know are peeling off in its rose, the college- educated white women, the suburban white women, they`re the ones who are opposing Kavanaugh.
If these red state Senators just push this guy through and put another accused sexual predator on the Supreme Court, they are going to feel it in November and for a long time. We`re not talking about a court of law here. We`re talking about a very high bar. Somebody who serves as a Supreme Court Justice have to have the absolute highest level of integrity. They literally rule on civil rights for the country. There`s no higher bar here. So the idea that we would be OK with an accused attempted rapist sitting there being the swing vote for women`s reproductive freedom is just not going to fly.
MELBER: Right. And you think about that in the context of this president and you wonder what women who accused him of misconduct think. What I`m going to do, Nancy and Jess is thank you for your time.
When we`re back in 30 seconds, we`re going to hear from a woman who accused Donald Trump of misconduct and who is now running for office on the ballot in November, when we`re back in 30.
MELBER: Welcome back with a reporting on how Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser Dr. Ford is ready to testify next week, but also hoping for an FBI probe. Donald Trump, of course, has a long history of defending accused men in this circumstance and shifting the blame to what are sometimes the alleged victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He totally denies it. He says it didn`t happen and you have to listen to him also.
I think it`s a very, very sad thing. And I think it`s very unfair to a good person. If you look at her, she`s grabbing at me and he`s acting as an intermediary and trying to block her from doing that.
I have always found him to be just a very very good person and by the way, a very very talented person. Look what he`s done. So I feel very badly.
Obviously, tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House and we hope he has a wonderful career. And hopefully, he will have a great career ahead of him because he`s innocent. And I think you have to remember that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Turn now to a woman who did publicly accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, Rachel Crooks. She`s a Democratic candidate now for the Ohio State legislature and I`m joined by Fordham University`s Christina Greer.
Rachel, what is going through your mind as you see this unfold?
RACHEL CROOKS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, OHIO STATE LEGISLATURE: Hi, Ari. Thanks for having me on again. I think it`s terrible once again that we see ourselves in this position where a man who`s accused of sexual assault might take on a very big and powerful role in our government.
MELBER: And does Donald Trump staying out of it this time mean anything to you? I don`t mean to imply he`s doing nothing, but I mean publicly he`s not necessarily attacking Dr. Ford at this juncture the way he attacked people in your position.
CROOKS: Right. I think I`ll never pretend to know what`s going on in Donald Trump`s mind but I imagine he`s getting some good advice that he should be softening his rhetoric with the upcoming elections and this being the year of the woman and that there`s going to be - we`re just tired of having these agonistic men in politics.
So I`m sure he`s shying away from it in that regard but I don`t want to hold him up on any kind of pedestal. I mean he still has mocked the Me Too Movement, questioning why women come forward years later. I think we really have to question his motives at all times.
MELBER: Sure. Christina, some evidence of that theory, of what Rachel identifies as potentially just a political motive, here comes in a GOP consoled in a new report saying, "Look, we`re living in a woke era. Supreme Court nominations have become TV shows. If your cast is mostly older white Republican Male Senators, you have issues in that environment. That, of course, coming from someone who is actually rooting for Republicans.
CHRISTINA GREER, PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I mean I think a few things need to be stated. One, the bravery and courage of Rachel and so many other women who have come forward is part of a larger narrative with this president and the entire administration. So Republicans are obviously thinking about November.
If we look at normal patterns, presidents tend to lose quite a few seats in their first midterm election. Americans tend to prefer a divided government. They don`t like gridlock and deadlock but we do like divided government. I do think that going back to something that Jess said in the last segment, people, independents especially are now feeling really uneasy just because of some of the shenanigans and bad behavior overall from this president and the administration.
So when you have Republicans really thinking about not just this nomination, but how it could actually have really long-term effects not just for the November election, but for many months and years to come, they are really I think stuck in a unique possibly difficult position because they are only with the president as long as the president can deliver what they want. And what they want is a Supreme Court justice, another one. But this one is proving to be a little more problematic because women are not allowing this pattern of sexual abuse to continue in our highest levels of office.
MELBER: You`re talking about that interplay between whatever political benefits Donald Trump gives to the conservative base and what he also can take away. Rachel, I want to play for you first and then Christina, a hard-hitting new ad that really puts this on these Republican Senators and says, "What will you sit by and allow?" Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now her alleged attacker, Brett Kavanaugh is nominated for the Supreme Court and it`s up to the Senate to allow for an independent investigation. When 15-year-old Christine tried to scream, her attacker covered her mouth so no one could hear her. Will Cory Gardner listen to her now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Rachel and Christina, do those ads work do you think in this midterm environment?
CROOKS: I absolutely hope that they do. I mean we are tired of this happening with Republicans being complicit in all of this behavior from Donald Trump and other -- you know, the people that he was endorsing, Roy Moore. I just think we want systems that are fair. We want people with integrity. That`s absolutely why I`m running for office. I want to show that you can be in politics and be of good character and actually work for people and not your own self-interest. So I do hope that ads like that are working to point that out.
GREER: I agree. I think the ad will be effective. I mean, Ari, listen, Trump`s base is you know, they`re pretty solid. You know, there are a few people who were peeling off but unfortunately, you know, the rhetoric that he is using is working on them and they think that they`re going to get some sort of tax cuts in the next few months which they won`t be receiving. Where that ad will be effective is to motivate Democrats to come out in a midterm election. Oftentimes Democrats underperform in midterm elections and that`s how we oftentimes get Statehouse takeovers. We get more Republican governors during these time periods because Democrats just have not been participatory largely because Democrats are the party that has marginalized communities more working-class people and much younger people.
This time I think people are very inspired and outraged and enraged and will actually take November seriously even if they didn`t possibly participate in the primary, they`re now seeing their elections actually have major consequences for not just the presidency, for the Senate, and now we`re seeing how your elections can affect the judiciary even though it`s an appointed office but for life.
MELBER: And that connects you used rage. Jess talking earlier in the show about anger and basically, part of what we`re talking about is what goes above and beyond the normal turnout to move people. And if people are righteously angry, we saw that and some of the arrests on the Hill today, this is a live issue that people are basically very clearly putting their emotions on the line for what they think is right and wrong. My thanks to both of you. Up ahead we turn to another story. Michael Cohen talking with Bob Mueller`s team for hours. I have a special guest who`s been right there with them.
And later Grammy Award Winner Will.i.am is here with a music video taking on gun control as a national issue. That`s later.
MELBER: The Whitehouse has been rocked by problems with Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination at the Supreme Court, but now tonight breaking news in the Russia probe. An absolute bombshell here about former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. He is now cooperating with Bob Mueller. Several sessions, hours spent all according to this new ABC news reporting. The topics include collusion, Russia, and even pardons. Reverend Al Sharpton has spent time talking to Cohen about this very case meeting with him and praying with him recently after the guilty plea. Rev, what do you make of this news?
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Well, I am not surprised. He`d never indicated to me that he was cooperating or was even thinking of it but he clearly said that his priority was going to be to do the right thing for his family and for the country and that he felt betrayed in many ways by this president. So I -- without pushing him and only there because he asked to talk to me and then the second meeting to pray with him, I took it that if he had information he was going to give it. And you must remember that he, Ari, was right there next to Donald Trump in the Trump Towers. He was his personal lawyer. He was in many of the meetings. And whatever he has to offer would be deemed credible because of his proximity to the president at that time.
MELBER: What was your understanding of his feelings about all this because while the facts are the facts, obviously now that he`s pled guilty he can do more or less with Mueller, the report is that this was cooperative, that he was not responding you know, to a legal requirement in this instance? So do you think he is someone who really has a different view of all the years he put into helping Donald Trump be Donald Trump?
SHARPTON: I think he does. I think that he clearly -- when you look at the fact that he taped conversations with Donald Trump, for a lawyer to take their client means that they must even when they are there and saying that I`ll take a bullet, they must have had some questions about their character. It is not something that is usual for a lawyer to kind of make sure that they have the protection with tapes and all. So I think he understood all along he was dealing with this type of person.
He probably told himself the person would never betray him, will never leave him out in the cold. And from what I gathered, when he realized that and he realized that a lot of the things that Trump was doing was just bad, he does not want to go his words to me, I don`t want to go down in history as someone that didn`t at the end do the right thing for the country. I think that I`ve got a contribution to make. And that`s the closest he ever said that he was going to cooperate but that he was more concerned to me about how he wants to be remembered than dealing with the fact that he knew he had done some things with a person who may have been on the other side of the law.
MELBER: Yes. And that -- and that really goes to how he sees himself. It`s like does he want to be a John Dean type figure, a lawyer who may have been in on the conspiracy or whatever it was. I mean, he basically confessed to the election payment conspiracy and then comes around and says no, I`m going to help fix it. On the Russia side of things, you know there`s an open question. I don`t think we can get ahead of the facts. There is not public evidence that Donald Trump personally made a deal with Vladimir Putin to impact the election. That doesn`t exist yet in the public record and yet there`s these questions that you know because you`ve been around Cohen and Trump in New York. You and Trump have talked about both being strivers or outer-borough guys. People know what that means in terms of not having a silver spoon in Manhattan in the -- in the way you come up.
And so I want to read a little more from this report and get your analysis. ABC saying look, Mueller is asking about Trump`s dealings with Russia, financial business dealings, investigation of alleged collusion by the Trump campaign and surrogates. At the -- at the end of the day, when you look at the kind of person Trump was in the business that he and Cohen were doing, what do you think of the defense that they were just trying to hustle up business in Russia not get a government deal or a government- backed conspiracy?
SHARPTON: Well, the question becomes did they do it by going against what is legal of going beyond the law and whether or not there was any kind of active participation with Russian intelligence, Russian operatives that helped in the campaign that Cohen may not have organized but had knowledge of maybe was in meetings may be had discussions with the President, and when you, Ari, we combined the fact that you now have Cohen cooperating and Manafort who was in the room in the infamous meeting at Trump Towers, you have something that would cause a concern of the president that would have them tweeting all night about why his Attorney General should not have recused himself.
MELBER: Right, which goes back as you say to why does he seems so stressed. Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you as always. We appreciate your insights and in this case your personal knowledge of Mr. Cohen. We can also mention, of course, you can always catch the Rev Sundays 8:00 a.m. Eastern on "POLITICS NATION" right here on MSNBC. Up next, as promised we dig into gun control immigration with Will.i.am talking his new single up next.
MELBER: Today, a Maryland woman killed three people with a handgun, one of 262 mass shootings this year that often don`t even make the national news. Tonight, we`re taking a look at gun violence with a special guest Grammy Winner Will.i.am who`s debuting a new song tomorrow that questions America`s love for guns and calls out Washington`s inaction as embarrassing. Now, this is a new chapter in the so-called culture wars because many conservatives have argued against gun control by saying maybe the real problem is the violent influence of culture or music or Hollywood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it has lyrics we cannot play on television, at least not at this time of day. Their failure to denounce these lyrics for the damage they do to poor and minority families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think Hollywood is part of the solution here is Hollywood part of the problem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they`re part of the problem. They`re making movies on a weekly basis with guns that they want to ban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comment said quote -- this was just last year, "damn this was somebody who fought for my freedom." This is a cop killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A woman who was a member of the Black Liberation Army and this guy thinks she`s great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It is true that American entertainment is violent. By the age of 18, the average American minor has seen 40,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence on T.V. and that certainly includes some rap especially gangsta rappers of the 90s who brandished weapons and glorified violence. But amidst these recent mass shootings, it is clear the culture is changing. Take musician and actor Donald Glover who used a recent music video to suggest that some Americans literally treat guns with more care than they treat black lives and bodies.
That music video went viral with over 390 million views this year. You know, President Obama was once criticized by Fox News for welcoming the rapper Common to the White House. But his 2015 song put the gun down shows people impacted by gun violence and just as musical protest in the Vietnam era worked to change politics. The music we`re seeing here spills into the activism at that giant March For Lives rally in Washington this year. Between the students and the politicians, there were also performances by that same musician I mentioned, Common, as well as the rap Vic Mensa, the controversial Kanye West was in the crowd lending his brand to pushing gun control.
And now take a look at this new video from Will.i.am which begins with a warning that the images are difficult because they depict a difficult reality for today`s students living with the risk of school shootings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL.I.AM, SINGER (singing): Our leaders are embarrassing, I think they need some parenting. Tell me why they playing with the fire and the kerosene? Kids on the Percocet, tripping on the medicine. Call it like I see you with some drugged up Americans. Everybody`s following, ain`t nobody leading. People loving guns more than cases and season and they say the reason is to protect their freedom but we don`t believe them. Because all that we are, all that we`re made of is big, big love, big, big love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And as music joins politics, it`s also worth noting Will.i.am has been engaged in policy and politics for a long time performing with his band at the National DNC conventions. And long before Obama was president, he adapted the words from an Obama`s speech into that viral video Yes We Can which follows the tradition of other artists who have made songs from political speeches like Bob Marley repurposing words from Haile Selassie. And when Obama did become president, his inaugural committee asked Will.i.am to perform at that 2009 inauguration. So I`m pleased to welcome Will.i.am to THE BEAT. Thanks for being here.
WILL.I.AM: Pleasure to be here. Honored.
MELBER: What are you saying about guns and life in American schools today in this new song?
WILL.I.AM: You know, as parents, adults, we have to do a better job, set in course in a path for our youth because they will be our leaders tomorrow. And why are we the only nation that has kids learning to eventually lead the nation in harm`s way? Like why can`t we have you know, procedures put in place to where our kids are safe in a learning place? I don`t understand how we can separate kids from their parents that are trying to come in the country but we can`t find the logic to separate guns from kids in our country to keep them safe.
MELBER: And the way you write the song and the way you shot the video, it makes us get afraid and also I think empathize with the students on the other end of the gun, whereas as I mentioned in the lead, a lot of movies and some old rap tried to get us to think about being the person holding the gun. Why was that for you an important shift?
WILL.I.AM: Well, that`s not just rap music. I just want to clarify it. It`s -- movies do a very good job promoting gun holding and gun shooting, gun learning.
WILL.I.AM: But -- and movies have a far greater reach than hip-hop music. And -- but what you don`t see is kids going to school in France and killing students. What you don`t see is kids in the U.K. or Spain? And so, why are we the only country? Yes, rap music promotes you know violence, but is it promoting it or is it just showing you the reality of the neighborhoods --
MELBER: And to build on your point these movies and this music is available in France.
WILL.I.AM: Exactly. It`s available in France, it`s available in China. What you don`t see is kids going to school in China shooting up kids.
MELBER: The gun control debate in this country is fierce. I remember that when I worked as an aide in the Congress, I see it now in the news media and schools seem to be the place where it gets the most fierce because when you see innocent children getting gunned down, it is probably the hardest thing to make sense of, to stomach as a human being even though the other stuffs also messed up and yet it`s also the place where we see some of the strictest response from those who are defending widespread access to guns. So let me play for you a president Trump on this point. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy. That coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect. But if he had a firearm, he wouldn`t had a run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So you see the President there saying, oh, if there were more guns in schools that would help.
WILL.I.AM: That is the part where -- I travel around the world and I`m in the public eye in other countries, and when other you know media outlets look and ask me that question, that`s an embarrassing thing to answer because it`s not logical. A horrendous thing happened in New York and because of that we all go to the airport and damn they`re taking off all of our clothes but we cannot protect the kids in school? I don`t understand how we could respond to one thing where people died but we can`t respond to the other where people died since those deaths.
MELBER: And then you`re also taking on immigration. I want to play this so viewers can get a sense out of it because you have two music videos with the same song and here`s part of the other video which focuses on the migrant child separation policies at the U.S. border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Candle in the darkness, pub chains are heartless. Here`s love to guide you. I`ll be there regardless, situation global, we`re like in a rowboat swimming up the river so I can deliver message to the masses no matter your status. Nothing is ever over we believe in second chances. Many people dying, governments are lying. Stand for our rights and please no more violence. Talk with the kindness. Together we`re united.
All we are, all that we`re made of is big, big love, big, big love. All that we are, all that we`re made of is big, big love, big, big love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is your hope when you do this the people empathize more or that they actually change maybe their mind about U.S. immigration policy? It`s the people that are coming in that they`re having strict laws around who enters the country and who doesn`t to the point where they`re separating kids from their parents are not the ones that are shooting up students in schools. So if we can do the most inhumane thing by separating the child from their parents and I know we don`t practice that anymore but we did, if we can do that why can`t we take guns from kids?
I don`t understand the logic. My mind and my heart -- my heart cares and love so much that the truth and the reality that we`re living with as a country and the leadership that we have to keep us safe so we could perform and outperform tomorrow do not seem like the path towards success.
MELBER: Right. Will.i.am from the Black-Eyed Peas and as we mentioned the new video is Big Love. That`s out tomorrow. You also check out the first album you guys have done in about eight years, Masters of the Sun which is out October 12th. And we will be right back.
MELBER: An update on the story been covering much of the hour. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh has just issued a new response to this ongoing debate over when and how he should testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let me read it to you. He says, "I will be there since the moment I first heard this allegation. I`ve categorically and unequivocally denied it. I remain committed to defending my integrity which sounds like a typical statement but it may not be because it comes just hours after Dr. Ford`s lawyers said specifically that she would testify next week that she`s willing but not on Monday.
So the question is whether this response is the parties getting closer together and potentially testifying on the same day at some point next week or some sort of attempt for a push for a hearing on the Monday when Dr. Ford says she can`t be there. At this hour, we just don`t know it`s clearly a fast-moving story. That does it for THE BEAT we`ll be back live tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The accuser testified. Let`s play HARDBALL.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.