Leaks target Mueller's boss as anti-Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 9/21/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Kim Wehle, Nick Ackerman, Bill Bristol, Jerry Nadler, Emma Jordan, Patt Morrison, Kevin Liles, Baratunde Thurston

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 21, 2018 Guest: Kim Wehle, Nick Ackerman, Bill Bristol, Jerry Nadler, Emma Jordan, Patt Morrison, Kevin Liles, Baratunde Thurston

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: By the way, I wish I were making up that story but yes, they gave Molly the Octopi. Good luck with that.

That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back Monday with more MTP DAILY and a lot less ocean drug infused things. And if it`s Sunday, it`s "MEET THE PRESS" on your local NBC station.

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

ARI MELBER: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you.

We begin with breaking news. Bombshell reports tonight that Bob Mueller`s boss talked about wiretapping President Trump or even ousting the president of the United States through the 25th Amendment of the Constitution. And that`s, of course, the way that you remove a president who is deemed unable to handle the job. You need the support of the Cabinet and the Congress.

If you`re hearing these words, if they are sinking in, then you know already this is not some Friday night news dump. This is a Friday night explosion. But these claims and these stories tonight are also hotly contested. They may portend an irreversible escalation in the handling of the Mueller probe itself and whether President Trump will seize on this report which is in "The New York Times" to pursue his own version of a Saturday night massacre.

So given this year`s scale of this, we`re going to start our broadcast here on THE BEAT a little differently tonight. We`re going to begin with the context for these explosive leaks and some of the skepticism about them. Then I`m going to share with you exactly what we know, both "The New York Times" report and some conflicting accounts from some other very high-level sources and then we`ll turn to our experts.

So first, there`s the context here. The heat on Donald Trump right now has never been hotter with the DOJ flipping his former campaign chair and his long-time personal lawyer. In fact, it`s only the past days and weeks that the news leaked that both men are not only guilty but are talking to Bob Mueller. So amidst that heat that now sources inside and outside the DOJ say, "It`s no surprise that we`re seeing fresh attacks on the DOJ leadership maybe giving everything they`ve got."

The "NYT" report focuses on a few comments that were made in a meeting that these sources say were either sarcastic jokes or were never acted on. And note how odd it is that conversations from well over a year ago would be leaking out right now, at the boiling point of cooperation in this Russia probe. And before I read you the "Times" account, I want you to know what else we`re learning.

Tonight, the top Senate Democrat Schumer is warning against this entire story, against using these leaks as a pretext for Donald Trump to do what many think he`s wanted to do for a long time which is kneecap the Bob Mueller probe by firing Bob Mueller`s boss Rod Rosenstein. So that`s the context, that`s the congressional fallout at this hour.

Now let me show you exactly what "The New York Times" is reporting that Mueller`s boss, Rod Rosenstein was basically aghast at how Trump was operating after firing James Comey and that he secretly suggested recording Trump and discussed even the 25th Amendment. This idea of using a wire to "secretly tape" the president when he visited the White House or of others doing so. Since the key question at the time was whether Donald Trump fired James Comey to stop the Russia probe and whether the other officials should try to tape him during interviews over who would replace Comey.

Now the article reports that Rosenstein got into the mechanics of it noting White House officials never checked his phone when he arrived for those meetings and then there is the passage that is by far the most shocking that is certainly rattling the internet, the claim that Rod Rosenstein thought he might get Jeff Sessions and John Kelly who was then head of DHS to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.

Now the article includes Rosenstein denying this entire story as, "factually incorrect and includes another DOJ official saying that someone at the meeting thought "The Times" was basically misconstruing the reference to a wire and it was actually made "Sarcastically." Now that is what "The New York Times" reports. This story obviously appears quite helpful to Donald Trump`s view of a deep state justice department out to get him.

And "The Times" is not claiming its reporting is based on people who actually heard Rosenstein say any of those things. Let me point you to investigative journalist Marci Wheeler noting tonight not a single one of these people, "The Times" quote is actually a witness to the episodes. None of them had even read the memos memorializing the events directly, but have instead simply been briefed secondhand.

And then there are the other sources and because this is so important because this could potentially change everything, let`s go through it in detail. Because late today, DOJ officials are telling "NBC News" the meeting in question in May was at a secured facility, it was a week after Trump fired Comey as FBI director and the day before Rosenstein made that big move to appoint Mueller.

And this official tells us, "Seven people were there. Rosenstein, McCabe who was then acting as Comey`s replacement, an FBI lawyer Lisa Page and four career DOJ officials including Scott Schools. And this is important because he`s the career official who would later sign off on the decision to fire McCabe himself. "Rosenstein and McCabe were arguing and at one point, Rosenstein asked, `Well, what do you want me to to do, Andy, wear a wire?` Two DOJ officials say the remark was made sarcastically," according to what this official tells "NBC".

As for raising the issue of invoking the 25th Amendment, the senior DOJ official says there`s a brief reference to it in a note about the meeting that was written again by McCabe. "Dag", that would be Rosenstein, "raises 25th Amendment" and, "Official says the notes about the same meeting taken by Lisa Page don`t reference it at all and that Rosenstein didn`t raise it.

This person telling "NBC" the notion that he would want to talk about discussing this with Kelly makes no sense. He didn`t even know Kelly then. Now, I can tell you the public timeline does back that up. Rosenstein who have been in the post three weeks, Kelly was not a big player in the Trump White House at the time. He didn`t become chief of staff until later in July.

Now as a DOJ lawyer, Rosenstein would know it also takes a lot more than just some cabinet members to really use the 25th Amendment. You need a super majority in Congress but the Republicans, of course, are in charge there. Now this story is contested by the people involved. There is no doubt about one thing and why it is such a big story tonight.

This now lives in the white-hot center of the controversy over what Trump is going to do about a Russia probe that is heading for the White House. Donald Trump`s son is seizing on the report saying it proves that DOJ`s top guys will do anything in their power to undermine Donald Trump. Meanwhile, journalist Gabriel Sherman who wrote a book on "Fox News" is reporting tonight that the man you see there, former Fox Executive Bill Shine, who now runs White House Communications for Trump is preparing a media plan to "Build public support for Trump to fire Rosenstein." And here is a new call from "Fox" Anchor Laura Ingram calling for Trump to do just that.

So let`s get to our experts now that we have laid out the multiple dimensions of this story. Kim Wehle is a law professor at the University of Baltimore. She was a federal prosecutor who worked directly with Rod Rosenstein. Nick Ackerman has much experience as a former Watergate special prosecutor. And part of the reporting I mentioned, "NBC`s" intelligence and national security journalist Ken Dilanian is here for what he knows about it.

Kim, I begin with you. When you read "The New York Times" version secondhand of these things said by Rod Rosenstein, do they sound to you like things that he wanted to actively do, to run a wiretap and remove the president or do you see them in some other light?

KIM WEHLE, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE: Well, what I know from Rod Rosenstein, and I have known him professionally and personally for a long time, is that he is a man of impeccable integrity. And he`s really someone who believes in public service and the rule of law. I think the question here is he doing his job as deputy attorney general and I don`t think there`s any question that he`s been doing that.

Now, of course, Donald Trump can fire him under Article 2 of the Constitution. He has the power to do that but that will have repercussions that are important because as you mentioned, Ari, really what`s in the room is the fact that Vladimir Putin wants to destroy our democratic process. He wants to tear people apart and part of that is attacking the career officials like Rod Rosenstein who are working really hard to uncover what the Russians did to undermine our electoral process and to get to the bottom of it.

MELBER: So you see this explicitly as many of Mueller`s allies have seen it, as Chuck Schumer was saying, as a potential pretext to try to go after Rosenstein. What do you make though specifically of the notion that he was talking about wearing a wire? I mean there is a federal process that would govern that if it were even serious. Your view?

WEHLE: No, I wasn`t there. I mean Rod can from time to time make jokes. I mean he`s a serious guy, but he also has a sense of humor. And obviously, there was tremendous amount of pressure in the room. Of course, I wasn`t there, so there`s no way that I can actually weigh in on what happened or didn`t happen. But let`s face it, the other elephant in the room is the fact that whether 25th Amendment was addressed or not.

There are other people within the administration, this anonymous op-ed we saw on "The New York Times" that have posited that that might be appropriate and we have seen publicly a president who is in chaos, who is close to corruption if not corrupt and there is incompetence throughout the executive branch. And as a constitutional law professor and someone who was in public service, I`m just deeply, deeply concerned about the structure of our government because whether you`re Democratic or Republican when it becomes damaged, it`s damaged for good.

It`s like a car that has the sideswiped. New people can drive that car but it`s still going to be trashed until someone fixes it. And at this point, we`re getting more and more broken and it`s very very serious. I really hope Rosenstein can hang on in these deeply politicized times.

MELBER: And Ken, digging into the people at the meeting, we`ll put it on the screen because there`s a lot to follow. There`s Rosenstein, McCabe, Lisa Page, and these four career DOJ officials who are lesser known. McCabe, of course, was later fired. We know Donald Trump reportedly started chewing him out the moment he became acting director on the phone and attacking his wife. Page resigned and, of course, was figured into a scandal that House Republicans had seized on. So you have Rosenstein left with those officials.

What does your reporting tell us about the significance of what happened in that meeting?

KEN DILANIAN, INTELLIGENCE & NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, NBC NEWS: Well, it`s so hard to know what to believe, Ari, because as you said, the Justice Department is pushing back on this vigorously, both to Pete Williams and to me. Senior Justice Department officials are saying absolutely did not happen the way "The New York Times" is describing it. They are saying that Rosenstein`s remark was sarcastic.

But when you talk to people that know Rod, as Kim said, he has a dry wit and people say that it`s possible that he said something in jest that maybe Andy McCabe took seriously and wrote it down in a memo as if he really meant to wear wire. But complicating this picture, Ari, that "The New York Times" has reported in the last few minutes that there was a second instance where McCabe and Rosenstein talked about Rod Rosenstein potentially recording the president or wearing a wire.

And the Justice Department again, our sources are pushing back on that. And so the only thing I can say is there were four career people in the room in addition to those named people that you outlined. And so this is a knowable fact. I mean all these people can be interviewed and we can get to the bottom of it. We do have Andy McCabe`s contemporaneous memo.

And by the way, some Justice Department officials are suggesting he has an ax to grind and he was fired by the FBI, but that wasn`t true back in May 2017 when he wrote the memo. He was the deputy director of the FBI. And so I think his account should be given some credibility but, again, it`s just a hall of mirrors. We have two diametrically opposing accounts here, Ari.

MELBER: Nick?

NICK ACKERMAN: Ari, I think this is just part of the overall effort to try and get rid of the Russian investigation. One piece of the context that you didn`t mention was that last week Donald Trump came out and was actually trying to declassify all of the classified information that was surrounding the Russian investigation at the request of certain Republicans in the House that are trying to undermine and destroy this investigation.

Just today, it was announced he wasn`t going to do that. Probably because some other people within the administration have prevailed upon him. So now we have another Salvo out there trying to undermine this investigation, undermine Rod Rosenstein. If you look at the two items that are being talked about, one is the 25th Amendment. That is so cumbersome.

The idea that anybody seriously could think that they could use the 25th Amendment here where you`ve got to get the majority of the cabinet to then write to the speaker and to the President Pro Temp of the Senate. And then on top of that, the president can override that by writing another letter and then the majority again of the cabinet members would have to write back to the speaker and Senator Pro Temp and there have to be a two-thirds vote of both chambers of Congress to remove the president.

That`s not going to happen. This amendment was designed for the situation where a president is really incapacitated like Woodrow Wilson was.

MELBER: Right. Stay with me, everybody. I want to add to our discussion founder and editor-at-large of "The Weekly Standard" Bill Kristol who`s kept an eye on all these things.

Bill, you have been in white houses where everyone parses the leaks. And this one is quite interesting. I want to read more from "The New York Times" piece because "The New York Times" has clearly come down on the idea that Rosenstein said these things and it meant something, not that they are misconstrued quotes. That`s why their headline says Rosenstein suggests he secretly records Trump, although the article includes his denial.

And I want to read from the article where it says basically Rosenstein made his remarks about secretly recording Trump in meetings and conversations with these officials. Several people described the episodes insisting on anonymity. These people, they were briefed either on the event or on the memos. Does that look like a tell to you because we just went through on the screen all these anonymous people, as well as Rosenstein who`s got the under record denial that people doing the leaking that "The Times" finds credible are secondhand having read some other description of it?

BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: That could well be. And look, at the end of the day, either Rosenstein was rattled and said a few things that he didn`t follow through on and they were entirely speculative in terms of the 25th Amendment and he knew he couldn`t follow through on and he knew he couldn`t follow through on wearing a wiretap either. Or he was being witty, sort of humor where he was not quite right but just started to act on it let`s say and whatever.

He didn`t do it, right. He`s been deputy attorney general for a year and a half now. We can judge his conduct in that job. And I believe almost every outside observer who doesn`t have an ax to grind thinks his conduct has been pretty impressive and that he has sustained the rule of law, defended the Mueller investigation. At times, some critics would say he`s given a little too much to the president`s directives, but he is part of the administration after all.

MELBER: But Bill, do you think that what you just said applies that "The Times" got played?

KRISTOL: Look, it`s possible. I think reporters can get played. They can also be reporting somewhat accurately, mostly accurately, misunderstanding things. The McCabe contemporaneous memo is the strongest thing on their side, I would say. Presumably, the deputy director of the FBI, a man of some experience, doesn`t put in a memo, something that`s just a throwaway line, maybe he does or maybe they didn`t know each other well and he misunderstood Rosenstein. He was just trying to write everything down. I don`t know.

I very much agree with I think what everyone has basically said which is this does not give any grounds. I really mean there`s any grounds at all in terms of any action of Rosenstein that justifies firing him or firing Sessions or curbing the Mueller investigation. I think it`s important to reiterate that whatever he might have said in a private meeting that he didn`t follow through on and there`s no evidence he said again over the next 16 or however many months he`s been deputy attorney general.

That gives no grounds to Trump to do anything. Now, it does give plenty of grounds to Donald Trump Jr. and Laura Ingram and everyone to attack Rosenstein. And let`s just hope it stays at the level of rhetorical context. I am worried given that Kavanaugh developments, given the developments that Trump just decides. You know what, it`s just total chaos.

I`m good at these thunder jaw moments. This is my chance to get rid of him. It will all just look like chaos and that was a conspiracy. And we`ll have an election anyway in five, six weeks and maybe the Republicans will hang on to the Senate. And so I think it`s right to be alarmed that Trump could take advantage of this moment.

MELBER: Kim?

WEHLE: Well, I think we have to ask ourselves what would actually happen so then the solicitor general of the United States would be put into place in an interim basis. That`s Noel Francisco. He`s also a Republican with pretty conservative credentials, but someone who is highly I think respected as a lawyer. So presumably, he wouldn`t necessarily, I would hope, just go ahead and fire Mueller and call off that probe.

In addition, Mueller has been really careful to farm out a lot of these criminal issues to other parts of the Justice Department, the Southern District of New York in particular and those people answer to Jeff Sessions. So I just want people to not be so worried that even if Mr. Rosenstein is fired that all of a sudden the Mueller investigation is going to end.

But it`s important to emphasize why is this so important? Why is the Mueller investigation so critical? Because the Congress is not doing its job of oversight. It`s not actually doing any oversight of the president or looking into the serious, serious allegations.

KRISTOL: And it`s still in the short-term. In the short term, firing Sessions and Rosenstein which is what Trump wants to do. He said he`s going to do it about Sessions after November 6. Now, he said he wants to do it with Rosenstein. I think he could do a lot of damage. I mean I assume that the Mueller investigation would continue as the N.Y. would continue. We can all ask Congress to do more but in the real world, that would be a real blow I believe to a real attempt. It would be a constitutional crisis. It would be a real challenge to the integrity of the Justice Department and the investigation of the special counsel I think.

WEHLE: I agree completely with that. I mean I think we are literally in the twilight of democracy potentially in this country and people need to wake up and pay attention to these things. It`s not political, but there are forces that are trying to ideologically divide us when at the end of the day, someone like Rod Rosenstein is out there every day working for the American people, for the regular person. I can attest to that personally. He`s a true public servant.

MELBER: Right. I got to fit in a break only because I have Jerry Nadler, the Congressman waiting to respond to this as well. My special thanks to Kim, Nick, Ken, and Bill.

Coming up, what does Congress want to do if this is, as my panel was just discussing, our road to a massacre? Well, Congressman Jerry Nadler would be chairing the house judiciary committee if Democrats win back the House in November. He is here live.

And later, "NBC`s" exclusive, the interview with the man who actually set up the infamous Russia meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEMALE: But it was a dirty offer.

MALE: Yes.

FEMALE: It was a dirty offer that they accepted.

MALE: Yes, that is true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The fed reportedly tracking millions that began flowing on the very day that meeting was set up.

And later, Donald Trump going in on Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser which has backfired already with one key Senate Republican. The former lawyer for Anita Hill is here on THE BEAT.

And later, of course, it`s still been a long week and we will have fallback Friday. I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

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MELBER: Breaking news tonight from "The New York Times", Rod Rosenstein had reportedly discussed the possibility of removing Trump from office and wiretapping him. As we were just discussing, Rosenstein strongly denies the account, but Trump allies and a former DOJ lawyer in the Bush administration are saying tonight this is ammo to fire Rosenstein. We`re seeing a classic Trump narrative about the so-called deep state out to get him while he purges top officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn`t be there. They have a witch hunt against the president of the United States going on. Our justice department and our FBI have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now.

I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by the ranking member of the judiciary committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler. He has been defending Rosenstein in the face of House Republicans calls for impeachment and warn Trump any action against Rosenstein would have severe consequences.

That was based on the facts that you knew then. Does anything in "The New York Times" report which includes a Rosenstein denial change your view tonight, sir?

JERRY NADLER: Absolutely not. As you know, we don`t really know what went on. There`s one account, there`s denials, but here`s what we do know. We know that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein is the lead person in charge of the investigation into the president for colluding with the Russians and trying to rig an American election. We know that he`s supervising Special Counsel Mueller. We know that he was instrumental in initiating the investigation into the president for obstruction of justice. We know the president has told us he has wanted to get rid of Rosenstein essentially to get rid of that investigation.

And if he were to move against Rosenstein now on any pretext, that would certainly be further evidence of his participation in obstruction of justice because it would clearly be designed to interfere with the independents and maybe the existence of the essential investigations.

MELBER: You say that and added to that is the fact that Donald Trump`s own views of Rosenstein have changed a lot. His Lester Holt interview is known for his comments about his thoughts in firing James Comey, but he also used that appearance to praise Rod Rosenstein. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESTER HOLT: Monday, you met with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Right.

HOLT: Did you ask him for a recommendation?

TRUMP: Rod Rosenstein.

HOLT: Rosenstein. Did you ask for a recommendation?

TRUMP: He made a recommendation. He`s highly respected. Very good guy. Very smart guy. And the Democrats like him. The Republicans like him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is your view that Donald Trump`s opinion of Rod Rosenstein has only changed when he backed up Bob Mueller`s investigation?

NADLER: Absolutely. He has backed up Bob Mueller`s investigation. He has not constrained it and he has backed it up. And the president has made very clear he doesn`t like that investigation. He calls it a witch hunt. He`s done everything to sabotage it. And if he can get away it and if he thinks he can get away with it, he will fire Rosenstein in order to sabotage the investigation, which is an essential investigation into the integrity of our elections, the integrity of our democratic system and into the president`s possible obstruction of justice. This would be more evidence of an ongoing obstruction of justice. And everything would have to be on the table in January.

MELBER: I want to read to you breaking news via Twitter, Congressman, not to catch you off guard but as you know, things are moving quickly. And this comes from your colleagues on your own House judiciary committee which states, "I intend to subpoena `McCabe memos` and all other documents that have been requested and not provided and links, of course to this "New York Times" story."

As you know and I`m sure you can walk our audience through it, this picks up on the debate over documentation that Republicans have sought in which some of them claim would make the DOJ look bad or undermine the independence of the Russia probe. Your response to that call, which I say is from the official house judiciary committee account?

NADLER: Well, some of the people on the House judiciary committee, including unfortunately the chairman now, have been doing what they can to undermine the investigation, to sabotage it. Essentially, by calling for and threatening the impeachment of Rosenstein and other people if they don`t do it, by calling for the unsealing, the publication of secret documents for an ongoing criminal investigation, which is never done.

The president even did that. He backed off on that the other day, or today rather, because he was told, no uncertain terms, by high ranking people and I`m told by the British that this would result in revelation of sources and this would result in people being killed. And apparently, he doesn`t want to face it. But some of the people on the judiciary committee and the Republican side want to do anything to sabotage this investigation and it`s highly irresponsible and very dangerous.

MELBER: Well, that`s very interesting getting your direct response to that and your view of "The New York Times" story is more important for what it does and say which is that there`s an effort to get Rod Rosenstein then for what it does which is --

NADLER: Well, first of all, it doesn`t allege that anything was done.

MELBER: Right.

NADLER: And it is clearly part of -- all of this is now just a pretext to get rid of Rosenstein and to sabotage the investigation.

MELBER: And that is, I think, where the big conversation going. We have up on the screen some of the conflicting accounts, "The Times" version, Rosenstein denies and our own reporting as I mentioned earlier on the show puts the same alleged comments in a very different light.

Congressman Jerry Nadler, thank you so much for giving us some time tonight.

We turn next to Donald Trump reverting to form and attacking Judge Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser. I have a special set of guests when we`re back in 30 seconds.

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MELBER: The White House has been rocked by legal problems this whole week and now consumed with this new report undercutting Rod Rosenstein, but that did not stop Donald Trump for giving his embattled Supreme Court nominee an even steeper climb today. The president imputing the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault which in condemnation from one of the key swing Republican votes he actually needs to pass this nomination, Susan Collins condemning Trump and now saying any Senate vote must be delayed so Dr. Ford may testify.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R) MAINE: I was appalled by the president`s tweet. I thought that the President`s tweets was completely inappropriate and wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, Collins would appear to be reserving judgment. Meanwhile, other Republican senators have also said if Dr. Ford`s allegation is true, they view it as disqualifying. What you see on the screen are enough votes to sink the nomination. The high-stakes negotiations they`ll continue. The Washington Post reporting the deadline for Dr. Ford`s lawyers to respond to the Senate Republican offer for Wednesday hearing has been extended until tonight at 10:00 p.m. Of course, that`s a Friday night deadline. Dr. Ford`s lawyer pushing for Thursday as testimony day and neither day the Wednesday or Thursday plans do afford enough time for the FBI investigation many have called for.

Let`s get into it with some experts. Emma Jordan is currently a Law Professor at Georgetown. She was on the team advising Anita Hill in 1991 during those dramatic Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and Patt Morrison a Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist for the Los Angeles time. She`s interviewed Anita Hill in her coverage in back in 2011 and been on THE BEAT before. We`re honored to have you both here. Emma, when you look at these negotiations, does it appear to you that we`re on the road to both people testifying next week?

EMMA JORDAN, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I think we are but there are some pitfalls that have been set up and it seems that her lawyers are doing a good job to avoid those pitfalls. One of the main pitfalls is the political manipulation of the witnesses and the order of the testimony. In the Anita Hill section of Clarence Thomas` confirmation testimony, there was a missing witness Angela Wright. She was someone who worked at the EEOC. She was willing to testify that the same kind of use of pornography in the workplace commenting on body parts pressuring, for dates had occurred with her. She was never called. In this case, there`s a pitfall, Mark Judge is a missing witness. He is someone that Dr. Ford named. How unusual is that for someone to name a friend of the accused assaulter as a witness and he`s turned in a piece of paper. It isn`t even under oath. He`s not being sworn. He`s not being subpoenaed. This is a pitfall. It`s unusual.

MELBER: Very interesting your point about what that would reveal about the lack of potential collaboration. You and I have talked before. In the -- in the greatest sense of the compliment, I considered you an old-school journalist.

PATT MORRISON, COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: I`m happy to hear that.

MELBER: But the new school appears to be helping women`s testimony and perspective and this in the fact that the Internet has been a place where people can speak out and even speak out anonymously which is part of a First Amendment right. And the President said something today that I`ll read to you that has gotten a lot of pushback from women and men on the Internet today.

He made this claim the radical left lawyers want the FBI to get involved now. Why didn`t someone call the FBI 36 years ago? And immediately there have been reports and pushback and statements and really personal remarks from women and some men around the country saying there`s a lot of good reasons why people don`t always report things in real time.

MORRISON: We have heard this before. We heard it 26 years ago with Anita Hill who became a one-woman #MeToo movement in 1991 because women then realized that they were suppressing memories of this, that this had happened to them too, that they were not isolated. The conversations that it generated on Capitol Hill, in homes, in offices across the country change this country, changed the workplace, change the rules by which we do businesses, men and women.

MELBER: Let me say it like this then. Do you think that the President is making it worse -- in addition of being substantively wrong which I think is your premise -- is he also making it worse if the environment is people thinking that and thinking that he`s wrong and it backfires on this nomination?

MORRISON: Absolutely because we have seen the hostility that has greeted Christine Blasey Ford, death threats. She has had to move out of her house. So women who might be inclined to come forward and talk may look at this example and say I don`t want that to happen to me. Anita Hill says she got 25,000 letters, messages, telegrams, that was an e-mail one yellow paper back then, multiply that by tenfold today. But women can come out and speak anonymously but at the same time, if they step forward and their identities are known, they`re going to get crushed by the social media steamroller.

MELBER: And so, Emma, briefly how should people -- if the hearings happen, how should people watch them with the eye not towards rooting for "one side of the other but towards the veracity and the truth of a fair process?"

JORDAN: I think it`s going to be difficult and the one thing they should definitely watch for is the fake trial motif. Raise your hand swear on the Bible, a designated person to question, and now I hear that the Republicans all males on that side are looking for a woman litigator to question Dr. Ford. This is all trying to create a framework of a legal proceeding. It isn`t a legal proceeding. And I think that part of it is something that you have to be careful.

MELBER: Well, I think you raised such an important point because there is a higher burden of proof for example in a criminal trial. People know that for watching law and order.

JORDAN: And they`re protections.

MELBER: Right. But this is an interview for --

JORDAN: Protections for people.

MELBER: This an interview for a job promotion and at a lower standard of proof there may be a decision that like Merrick Garland, the Senate may not promote this person which doesn`t mean they`re convicted in a court of law. And I think that`s something Republicans also may according to their strategy be trying to model a little bit. My special thanks both to Emma and Pat for being a part of this discussion. Straight ahead we turn to something that any other night would have been the lead story reporting that Bob Mueller`s looking at suspicious money transfers right around the date of the Trump Tower meeting. The organizer that meeting breaking their silence in that NBC interview. We`ll bring it to you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back. We`ve been tracking some pretty extraordinary developments here on this Friday night. On the one hand, a bombshell report that would appear to undercut Mueller`s boss Rod Rosenstein, although it`s more complicated than that, and on the other a report that Mueller is putting new heat on Trump by probing the money trail between the planners of that very famous Trump Tower meeting.

Mueller examining suspicious money transfers between the organizers which began the very day Trump Jr. was pitched to hold that meeting. This is according to new BuzzFeed reporting. The trail includes three million from the family of a Kremlin oligarch which set up the meeting and that money went to one of their employees who actually attended the meeting. Now, the Trump campaign has long denied that anything came out of that meeting however bad an idea was to hold it.

But there is something different now of course. That campaign`s former chair Paul Manafort has flipped. He`s telling Mueller what he knows. He was at the meeting. And now, one of the organizers Rob Goldstone publicly admitting the offer to help the Trump Campaign was dirty and possibly criminal.

ROB GOLDSTONE, BRITISH PUBLICIST: I`ve always looked at it as a bait and switch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And possibly a crime.

GOLDSTONE: And possibly a crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it was a dirty offer. It was a dirty offer that they accept.

GOLDSTONE: Yes. That is true. That didn`t materialize but yes, it`s the willingness to accept it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by journalist Howard Fineman who writes for NBC News and is a friend of THE BEAT. Things are changing, heads are swirling, put this money part of the investigation in context for us and given what a student Washington you are, anything else you want to add to the Rosenstein reporting we`re also interested in.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: OK. Well, let`s start with the fact that legal expert Rob Goldstone just made a very important point which is in order for there to be a conspiracy, a criminal conspiracy, the people receiving the offer and participating and positively reacting to offer to conspire, that conspiracy doesn`t have to ever happen. In a way, it doesn`t have to have any substantial backing. They have to believe that what they`re doing is the fact. If they believe it then it can be prosecuted. And so, the dirty offer is very much what Bob Mueller is looking at, number one.

Number two, the money -- I`ve always said that following the money is the essence of the Mueller procedure in the Mueller case. Follow the rubles, follow the dollars, that`s exactly what this is. There are lots of money transfers that BuzzFeed and others have looked at in and around the meeting in the Trump Tower. So if money was moving why -- in a suspicious way -- why was it moving in that way, for what purpose? These people were among the people that Goldstone said were helping provide Russian government support for Donald Trump. So you put together the meeting -- you put together the meeting and the money, Ari, that sure looks like conspiracy.

MELBER: Since you say that, let me play a little more of Goldstone.

FINEMAN: Sure.

MELBER: I don`t know about you Howard. I was very excited because reportedly Lil Wayne`s new album was supposed to come out, Tha Carter V. It didn`t come out, but he has said something that anyone who`s seen any mafia movie will understand which when it comes to the leaking, and it comes to the flipping, your own people could be them, people. And I`m about to play you Steve Bannon who was supposed to be Trump`s guy and Goldstone who was supposed to be their guy both talking about the view that this meeting was quote treasonous. Take a look.

FINEMAN: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you understand why he says that? Do you think he`s right?

GOLDSTONE: There was a campaign chairman in that meeting, Jared Kushner was at that meeting, people have said to me shouldn`t I have known? Well, shouldn`t they have known? So yes, some of what Steve Bannon says obviously is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are going to be people who hear you say that and say nobody is that naive.

GOLDSTONE: I get that. I get that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Howard?

FINEMAN: Well, bingo. That`s -- they`re basically -- Goldstone is heavy into the notion and I think with good reason that the Trump people thought they were getting stuff from the Russian government to help the Trump campaign. That is actionable, that`s criminal, that`s a conspiracy.

MELBER: And when you put it like that, it sounds bad. Viewers can assess the credibility of all these sort of people who are coming up in their own mind. Howard Fineman, as always thank you. Coming up, it is Friday so that only means it is "FALLBACK FRIDAY." And coming up we have bestselling author Baratunde Thurston along with a music producing legend Kevin Liles.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: It is Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means, it is time to fall back. We are joined today by Kevin Liles, CEO at 300 Entertainment and a former President of Def Jam Records where he worked with hip-hop icons like Jay-Z and LL Cool J, currently worked with Young Thug and I`m joined by Baratunde Thurston an Author, formerly of The Daily Show. Nice to see you guys.

BARATUNDE THURSTON, WRITER: Absolutely.

KEVIN LILES, CEO, 300 ENTERTAINMENT: Nice to be here.

MELBER: Kevin, who needs to fall back?

LILES: Well, I think, honestly, who needs to fall back, people who have an opinion and a mouth then but didn`t vote. And as we come into this next election cycle, we got to know that everything matters. You know, a couple of racism, sexism, everything is overt right now. What about the teacher in Louisiana who comes in this racist rant about the kids that did not (INAUDIBLE).

Now, this is a teacher that supposed to be teaching my kids. I don`t want her to teach them racism. You know, what about these political posturing officials that are out here doing -- I`ve seen everything. And what if President Barack would have said half of what they say? What would happen? You know, he would have been persecuted. So anybody who has an opinion and a mouth that did not vote needs to fall back.

MELBER: Right. And you`re talking to -- there`s a lot of people who are on social media all day and don`t necessarily know when their primary is, when the midterms are.

LILES: No. This is what it is. So we`re going to this next election cycle. So now you got to close your mouth and like my good friends at Nike say, just do it. Vote.

MELBER: Just do it. Baratunde?

LILES: Vote to save America. (INAUDIBLE) Do that. Votesaveamerica.org. ICE needs to fall back. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement always and every day needs to, but in this case is because they issued a subpoena to the North Carolina voting Commission requesting millions of voting records under the false pretense that we have lots of illegals undocumented citizens voting and that`s just not the case. We`ve proven this time and time again but the real effect is to suppress the vote.

And it seems like when the party that`s in charge right now, the Republicans have a chance, they want to reduce the number of people who vote. They argue for free markets and competition but they`re afraid of real competition when it comes who gets put in office.

MELBER: These are strong candidates, you guys are just something to be talking also about civic apathy or civic laziness. I have a less important "FALLBACK" which is just regular old laziness. There is a new fashion statement, it`s a wearable chair. Take a look at this. It`s called the Lex Bionic Chair and it basically is about two pounds. They call it an exoskeleton and you can actually wear it.

THURSTON: Your wear a chair.

MELBER: Yes, you can put on the chair and so I`m saying basically, "FALLBACK" to anyone who feels that we don`t sit around enough in a modern society and they want to wear their chair. You can see it right here. That`s -- Kevin, you`re a stylish guy. Do you see people doing this? Do you see this catching on a wearable chair?

LILES: One word, ignorant. I don`t understand it.

THURSTON: Because we solve so many other problems.

MELBER: It`s not -- it`s hard to imagine you feeling good about walking around with that thing on too.

THURSTON: If you get on the bus, how is he going to sit on the bus?

MELBER: Well that`s -- you know, if you heard of two chains, that`s two chairs.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: So that`s my mine, I maybe not always as serious as our esteemed guests. What else is on your mind? Who needs to fall back, Kevin?

LILES: Well, I think if you really think about everything that`s happening, you know, I remember this police officer you know, in Dallas that decides to actually go into an apartment because she thought it was her own but was her own and actually kill an unarmed African-American. Now, I don`t think that she only needs to fall back. I think that any person who actually takes an action of ignorance needs to fall back.

MELBER: Well, and that goes to -- you think about this in -- when people say well, what was the choice and what are we teaching people about the choices they make? And whether or not you`re armed because you`re police, you`re off-duty police so you have the right to bear arms, the choice in that situation could also be to leave. You show up, you`re in a situation you maybe miss perceive as dangerous because she was in the wrong place, but rather than escalating with a weapon, you could`ve left.

LILES: Yes. There`s something called training, am I right?

MELBER: Yes.

LILES: Some kind of class --

(CROSSTALK)

LILES: It`s not every cop but you have to point out and tell people to fall backwards. You know, I`m not going to say it was racially motivated, I`m not -- I wasn`t there. I don`t know all.

MELBER: We don`t know everything yet. Yes.

LILES: But I can truly say that we have a broken system and it`s not that`s the police system, it`s the education system, it`s the political system. It`s every system that I know. So to me I would of seen her out but I would say we need to fall --

MELBER: But the wider system.

THURSTON: The system needs to fall -- especially when there`s no accountability in that system. That`s the part that if you do this, just because you`re a police officer -- you need to uphold the laws that you`re also supposed to be enforcing.

MELBER: Baratunde, who else do you have on your "FALLBACK" list?

THURSTON: I think the European Parliament needs to fall back.

MELBER: Going global.

THURSTON: I know that sounds like it`s not a real thing. There is a European Parliament and they`ve taken the next step in imposing internet copyright laws that are nobly supposed to help artists get paid, but they put crazy restrictions online so it could --

LILES: It could make memes illegal.

THURSTON: It could make memes illegal. That`s most devastating part. It causes you to have to pay if you post links online but mostly destroys memes which has me all up in my feelings. I`m not excited.

MELBER: For our -- for our viewers, you guys are both -- I think it`s fair to say you guys are both pretty cool. OK.

THURSTON: I would say on a cool meter, I`m a ten.

MELBER: For those of us who are less cool, walk us through what are memes?

THURSTON: So memes are visual representations of cultural phenomenon. That`s a very academic way of saying it but the Kiki dance by Drake is a notable one. Sometimes they show up as animated gifs, sometimes they have a visual presentation of large texts, but they are -- they capture moments of cultural resonance, and they travel fast and they become the new water cooler is the way I think about them because they don`t all watch the same things but the memes can help bring us together. They`re often hell of funny.

MELBER: Or politically when they said like nevertheless she persisted --

THURSTON: That`s right.

MELBER: -- and then it went everywhere with the photos and the fun around it.

(CROSSTALK)

THURSTON: -- women was another big political meme. So we all understand what it means with very little text and a powerful image behind it.

MELBER: I can only imagine the people in the European parliament watching this hearing about your "FALLBACK" are going to be shook. They`re going to be shook about what you have done today.

THURSTON: Absolutely.

LILES: We`re going make a meme out -- we`re going to make a meme out of it.

MELBER: And that it will change policy.

THURSTON: Before they put the filters on the Internet.

MELBER: Baratunde, Kevin, thank you both for being here.

LILES: Thank you.

THURSTON: Always, brother, bless you.

MELBER: Fantastic. And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: It was great having Kevin Liles and Baratunde here on the show tonight. We also taped a longer conversation about music. We`re going to post this on our Facebook page. Here is Kevin Liles talking about his new favorite artist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LILES: Every day I`m in the car listening to something new. I just got a record that would probably be the next female anthem. It`s called Give Me My Name Back.

MELBER: Give Me My Name Back.

LILES: It`s by an artist names Meg Mac.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: If you want to learn more about Meg Mac or some of that extra content, we`re posting it exclusively on our Facebook page @THEBEATWITHARI and it`s also on Instagram @THEBEATWITHARI. That`s what we posted a lot of digital extra stuff that we didn`t have time to air on the show. One more programming note, I`m filling in for Chris Hayes tonight at "ALL IN" where I`ll be joined by Michael Schmidt who broke "The New York Times" story on Rod Rosenstein. "HARDBALL" starts now.

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

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