All male GOP committee hires female lawyer. TRANSCRIPT: 9/25/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Sheldon Whitehouse; Pramila Jayapal, Katty Kay, Liz Plank; Helaine Olen

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 25, 2018 Guest: Sheldon Whitehouse; Pramila Jayapal, Katty Kay, Liz Plank; Helaine Olen

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: There are grapes. How about matcha tea party? That`s a good one. I`ll take majority whipped cream. But hey, let us know what you would like to have. Any of those flavors. Do you want, if it`s sundae, to be our flavor? Sweet the press? Whatever it is, the hashtag you have to use is #ifitssundae and spell it like a dessert.

That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY. "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.

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

Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the wider Republican party in the Congress right now under pressure, which is two days until this hearing with Kavanaugh`s sexual assault accuser Dr. Christine Ford. Now, the news tonight is about how this hearing will run. All the Republican members of the judiciary committee are men. And they made an issue of that fact today by announcing that a woman will handle the questions on Thursday.

Now, majority leader McConnell did not appoint a woman Senator to the committee, which he could do. That would be one way to do it. Instead announcing the hiring of a woman lawyer for this job. And Republicans assert that she is an experienced sex crimes prosecutor, which may be true. I would love to tell you about how we fact checked that.

But the Republicans have made that impossible for us to do because they`re not even, and this is a little weird, releasing her name tonight. So there`s no way to publicly examine the questioner`s record for those of us in the newsroom. There`s also no way, and this could be important, to prepare witnesses for how that person will approach questioning, which is normally done obviously in the Senate as well as in court.

Now, these are the same Senators who also have refused an FBI probe into Dr. Ford`s accusation saying they, the people on your screen, can handle it. And now, in a way, they`re saying they at least cannot handle or don`t want to handle part of it, the live questioning part.

Now, we want to give you some context. There are some precedents for these times where a committee relies on someone other than the Senators to ask a question. It`s rare. It occurred, for example, with Attorney Fred Thompson. He was the official minority counsel for the Senate Watergate committee. And if you remember, as many people do, the dramatic questioning back then, he dealt with some of the questions because of their complexity and the details involved in the probe, while Senators stood by and watched. That`s what you`re witnessing there.

This, though, obviously doesn`t look like that kind of case, where someone with a long-term subject matter interest, like the official counsel for the committee, is dealing with topics. My job is to report to you the news, but when it looks bad, I have to tell you what looks bad. This looks bad because it does look, unlike the Watergate precedent, more like a method for the male Senators to avoid catching heat, political pressure, criticism, for the way that they might push the accuser, an issue that, of course, came up in the 1991 hearings when Anita Hill testified.

Here`s what one Senate Judiciary Democrat has to say about all this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

I think this is an example of the Republicans on the committee not wanting to reveal themselves to the American public. The Republicans do not want to question Dr. Ford directly because they will reveal who they are, and I think they`re afraid of that.

MELBER: It will reveal who they are. And that is a political statement in the middle of a big political brawl over the Supreme Court, but it also runs to the heart of what are we preparing to witness on Thursday. Is it an investigation? Is it Congressional oversight? Is it the advice and consent power responsibly exercised? Or is it something else?

And you hear the Senator there talk about what`s revealing, many critics are saying Donald Trump is further revealing himself by going after a new woman who stepped forward, Deborah Ramirez. She`s a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh. She alleges that he exposed himself to her, and she says she is now in contact with the Senate judiciary committee to determine the best process to provide Senators with additional information. Now, here`s trump on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Charges come up from 36 years ago that are totally unsubstantiated? She was totally inebriated and she was all messed up. She doesn`t know if it was him but it might have been him. Oh gee, let`s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that? She admits that she was drunk? This is a con game being played by the Democrats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So that`s where the president is. There`s also news breaking late tonight, as so much news seems to break at this hour. A source telling NBC News -- this is new -- that Senate judiciary staffers had a call with Brett Kavanaugh today to explicitly interview him about these new allegations from Ms. Ramirez. Now, Kavanaugh has denied them but that tells you there`s movement on whether there`s going to be a widening discussion of accusations. That`s a big deal.

Then you have Senator Lisa Murkowski, a key Republican swing vote, asked if the FBI should open their investigation further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R), ALASKA: Well, it would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn`t it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It would sure clear up all the questions said running through a doorway, but an answer nonetheless.

Then you have Senator Lindsey Graham. You may remember that he`s often styled himself as a kind of a moderate, even a kind of a conscience for the Republican party, at least on issues like Guantanamo. Well, here is his message to the Republican party now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Why didn`t the Democrats come forward in July when they found out about it? What I would say to Senator Murkowski is that this process is played out because of what they did, not because of what I did. Are you really innocent or guilty based on the accusation? If the accusation is enough, God help us all around here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: This all comes as other people are speaking out. Kavanaugh`s former roommate said to "The New Yorker" magazine that he recalled Kavanaugh being frequently and incoherently drunk and that he believes the second accuser saying, "Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.

Now Kavanaugh denies those allegations and that is more of a character witness than an underlying allegation. But as it stacks up, the question for the committee is at what point is a promotion in question? I want to play some more of Kavanaugh`s side of this.

But first, let me introduce our panel of experts tonight. I`m joined by Irin Carmon, correspondent of "New York Magazine" who broke the story of sexual harassment allegations against Charlie Rose. She`s the co-author of a book that I`ve said around here I like, The Notorious RBG: Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Katty Kay is an anchor for "BBC News" in Washington, Alisa Menendez, a contributing editor at "Bustle".

I`m going to get to everyone starting with Irene. Take a look at how many times Kavanaugh really tried to slam the idea in this "Fox News" interview that he wants a fair process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I am looking for a fair process. All I`m asking for is fairness. All I`m asking for is a fair process. Just asking for a fair process. Again, I`m just asking for a fair process. I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity. I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity. I just want a fair process. I just want a fair process. I just want an opportunity, a fair process. We`re looking for a fair process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

IREN CARMON, CO-AUTHOR, NOTORIOUS BIG: So what I`m hearing is he wants a fair process. Yes. I guess I would ask Brett Kavanaugh, you are a learned man of the law, why does a fair process not include neutral record, fact- finding? Why does it not include speaking to investigators? Why is this hearing as of now only taking place with two people? One of whom has an allegation and the other of whom denies it.

So if you`re not going to interview the other person that Christine Ford puts in the room, if you`re prejudicing the results, you`re prejudging the results by making statements like, "We`re going to plow through to a vote" or "I`ll listen to the lady but let`s hear her out". Is that due process for Dr. Ford? Is it even due process or a fair process? I mean it seems like Republicans are making it up as they go along.

Now, they`re saying they`re going to have a prosecutor whose identity they won`t release. It makes it seem like they can`t even help themselves. They can`t help but say something sexist or insensitive to victims. And they realize that a big portion of America is finding these allegations credible so are they going to sit there during these proceedings, stony- faced? Is this going to be an illustration to their base that white men are being silenced?

I don`t think anybody understands what this is going to be like. But to me, it does not look like a fair process. It does not have the markings of a fair process.

MELBER: Katty, speak to that, a town that you`ve covered for some time, that when a woman walks into this judiciary committee hearing on Thursday, as the first Republican representative, she will not be a Senator, she will be a staffer.

KATTY KAY, WASHINGTON ANCHOR, BBC NEWS AMERICA: Yes. Actually, by the way, Mitch McConnell may have a point that they should worry about how this is going to look because he, this afternoon, called the woman in question who I believe is an expert in the field of sexual harassment and is a prosecutor herself, a lawyer herself, he called her an assistant. So that may be some indication of perhaps the kind of mistake the Republicans would like to avoid.

MELBER: Well, I think you made an important point. And as Kanye West would say, I`m going to let you finish but since you brought it up, let me play a Mitch McConnell for your analysis of that quote. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEMALE: All of you Senator, all men. Everyone one the judiciary committee, all men. You don`t have women making decisions about Judge Kavanaugh. What message does that send to the American people?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R KENTUCKY MAJORITY LEADER: We`re looking for the truth here. We have hired a female assistant to go on staff and to ask these questions in a respectful and professional way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAY: I think she makes the coffee afterwards as well for all the male senators? Look, this is their problem, right? And this is why they have made this call that they can`t be the ones standing there. I mean I actually gave them the benefit of the doubt thinking it wasn`t what it was coming out of their mouth that they were worried about, it was the optics of the fact that you have 11 men sitting there. Having heard Mitch McConnell this afternoon, it makes me think that they needed to worry about the time of their questioning as well.

MELBER: And to build a new point for both of you and Alicia, let`s look just at the historical evolution here. We have the percent of Republican women on the Senate judiciary committee in `91 during those -- only similar precedent, the bruising hearings questioning Anita Hill. Now, we`re going to reveal for viewers here, that`s the percent today.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BUSTLE: That`s the saddest pie chart I`ve ever seen. I feel bad for your graphics department that they were asked to make that. But to this question of Brett Kavanaugh saying that he wants fairness, he`s explicitly asked whether or not he thought an FBI investigation was the right way to go and he responded yet again with "What I want is fairness," really trying to stay away from specifics. And to your point about the optics, you have Senator Corker saying, "Well if I were on the judiciary committee, I wouldn`t want to ask questions because someone is going to say something that you guys," meaning you cable news, "are going to run 24/7."

So there is some awareness on their part that they could step in it. At the same time, they have the president of the United States, the leader of their party, degrading a woman who has come forward with these allegations. So I`m not sure that they are going to save themselves simply by having a woman ask these questions.

KAY: I think the bigger question, besides the Republican party`s optics on this one and what they might say, is what are these hearings actually going to achieve because the growing sense is that both sides frankly are going into Thursday with their minds made up. Is there anything that she could say or that he could say, barring something extraordinary that would actually change any minds? In which case, why are we doing this?

And what we need to be doing, as everybody is saying and even Lisa Murkowski has now come around saying, is having a proper investigation. That is the only way, in this very partisan environment, with these midterms coming up, that we have any chance of getting to the truth. And even then, it`s going to be difficult but at least give the professional investigators a shot.

CARMON: I mean, if there is going to be an investigation, it`s going to be because of Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. And I think as partisan and as polarized as this is, there are still persuadable votes, right. There are red state Democrats who are standing there with their finger in the wind trying to figure out which way it`s blowing. Everybody is looking for signals. And it fascinated me that after a week or so of saying, "No FBI, no FBI. The FBI doesn`t do that," today the "National Review`s" Jenna Goldberg ran a story saying maybe we should look at the FBI.

And I take that to mean that they cannot count on Lisa Murkowski and they cannot count on Susan Collins. And that as we get closer to the hearing and Dr. Ford has called their bluff and is showing up and is negotiating terms, and all along maybe they were hoping she wouldn`t show up, they now realize that this is not going anywhere good for them.

MELBER: Well, I think you make such a good point because that`s why this is not theater. Although, I think Katty`s Washington seasoned skepticism is very apt, which is to say this hearing could be a joke and a farce based on the trickery. But it could also be the thing, potentially, that changes everything if some of these swing Senators on the Republican side see and their constituents see enough evidence, right.

This is not the criminal standards we`ve emphasized in this show. Nobody is up for going to jail here. Just enough evidence to say, this promotion should be in doubt. And to that effort, I want to show Susan Collins here and I want to be very clear as we try to be precise for viewers about what we`re seeing, this is Susan Collins before the second accuser came forward. So this is her view of things when it was only Dr. Ford, courtesy of an interview done through "Showtime". Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator McConnell seems to be suggesting he has the votes. So if he has the votes, he must have your vote? Are you still undecided? SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: I am. How could I decide before hearing the testimony of Professor Ford?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Christine Ford the only thing that leaves you undecided on him?

COLLINS: I`m close. I`m very close but I`m not all the way there yet. And Professor Ford deserves to be heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That is her hanging it on Professor Ford. You`re making a face. I can`t quite tell what face you`re making.

KAY: Well, I think that she`s repeating what the Republicans have said all along, Professor Ford deserves to be heard. But when she says, "I`m close, I`m very close but I`m not quite there yet", what more could Professor Ford say in that hearing that would change her mind? That`s my question. Professor Ford has laid out her story. We know the parameters of what she`s going to say. I guess the only thing that could happen would be that she would be very plausible and Brett Kavanaugh would come across as implausible or say something that was detrimental to his case. Again, I find that hard to believe because he`s so prepped on this.

MELBER: Since you posted it in the form of a question, which is sort of supposed to be my thing, but we can all do it.

KAY: You can`t invite three journalists and not expect answers.

MELBER: I will hazard an answer for the sake of argument as the lawyers would say when they`re being annoying arguendo, which is to say, I don`t necessarily believe this. But one answer to you would be that if the process works, putting her under oath before a government committee under the penalty of perjury, and the criminal sanction that comes with that. I mean ask Rick Gates or George Papadopoulos what happens when you lie and you get caught before the government, that that is a higher standard than her speaking to "The Washington Post." And so if she does that, that alone makes it more probative - again I`m sounding like a super lawyer -- than simply speaking in public.

KAY: And I guess the same applies to him too, right? That he will have to answer very specific questions and speaking to that body, even the counselor, is going to be different from speaking to "Fox News."

MENENDEZ: What I find more interesting than Collins sound is Corker saying that there are more of us than you think there are. You keep saying there are a handful of Republicans who want to hear the testimony and what he called the rebuttal but there are more of us and we`re a silent majority. That I think is something.

MELBER: So you talk about the silent majority, you think about the majority of voters being women, you think about how the Senate still is not representative of the gender diversity of the nation. Here`s some of the pressure I want to show that we dug up locally on Senator Collins on the issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY: Senator Collins says she has yet to make her decision on Judge Kavanaugh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delaying the hearings until the information comes out.

FEMALE: Their goal is to get Senator Susan Collins to listen to them.

FEMALE: I was concerned with him before this all came about, with Roe V. Wade.

FEMALE: They also delivered letters with signatures from sex assault victims.

FEMALE: I really want her to know that women are counting on her.

FEMALE: No new statement from Senator Collins who has been the target of dozens of protests and a $1.5 million fund for her future opponent should she help confirm Kavanaugh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Where does that pressure fit in?

MENENDEZ: I mean I think it means that she has to at least acknowledge this testimony, sit there and consider it, and have a very good rationale coming out of that testimony for why her opinion has either stayed the same or changed.

MELBER: Yes. Look, we learn a lot from each of you. And I suspect as this story continues, we`ll be hearing more from each of you. So thanks to Irin Carmon. You know, I struggle with your name but I`ve known you many years.

CARMON: That`s OK. I won`t hold it against you.

MELBER: Irin.

CARMON: (INAUDIBLE)

MELBER: Fairly play. Katty Kay, an easier name among others.

KAY: For some people.

MELBER: Also an alliteration. And Alicia Menendez, I have nothing.

MENENDEZ: It could be the hardest.

MELBER: Thanks to each of you.

Coming up, why Senate Republicans are refusing to reveal the identity of this now mystery questioner. I`m going to speak live with a Senator who will do some of his own questionings. That`s Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on the Democratic side. And Kavanaugh`s Bill Clinton problem, why there are critics now talking about hypocrisy as they look at his very aggressive work and advocacy for personal sexual questioning of President Clinton in the Ken Starr probe.

And later, the White House now says what should happen in the Russia inquiry after Rod Rosenstein leaves if he leaves.

I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNCBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Breaking news right now. The Senate judiciary committee Republicans have just now formally announced when there will be a vote on Brett Kavanaugh. It is now scheduled for Friday morning, 9:30 A.M. That`s one day after this blockbuster hearing that`s scheduled for the accuser to testify. I have this right here and it`s quite clear from Chairman Grassley saying the Brett Kavanaugh nomination will be voted on, according to this schedule, on Friday morning. That is a big deal because it would suggest not a lot of time to process or fact check or follow up on whatever is learned in the Thursday hearing.

Let`s get right to it. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will be questioning Kavanaugh and the accuser on Thursday. Senator, is Friday enough time between the hearing and a vote on this nomination?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, (D-R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Of course not but for the Republicans, that`s not the issue.

MELBER: What is the issue?

WHITEHOUSE: The issue is try to get through this as quickly as they can. They`re kind of between a rock and a hard place with very powerful, big donors who want a Supreme Court Justice who they think will be reliable for the Republican big donors and they`ve got witnesses who have come forward making a lot of really serious allegations. And it looks like they`d rather roll the witnesses than roll their donors. So get the pain over as quickly as possible I think is the solution for them.

MELBER: The pain over quickly is the idea that more time and more pain could make it even harder to get the vote through. How do you explain to viewers watching -- you`re closer to it than most of us. You are sitting in the room with these other senators. You are making your own judgments. How do you explain a process that seems to try to pretend or evoke a notion of fairness that the accuser gets to testify, and then seems to undo it with an announcement like this right now around 6:20 P.M. on the East Coast that they`re basically going to hold the vote the next day with no time to process anything?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, the basic flaw in the Republican strategy has been that they`ve tried to set up the notion that if both sides get to say their piece, then that`s fairness and that`s the end of the story, don`t look behind the curtain. And, of course, what`s behind the curtain is that in any trial, in any administrative proceeding, in any prosecution, in any grand jury investigation, when you get a witness who comes in with a story like these women have, your first obligation to them and to the process is to do a proper, thorough, sincere investigation.

Nobody takes a witness who claims she was the victim of sexual assault and just throws them up on the witness stand without any sincere or thorough effort to look into and try to corroborate, or explode, their claims. So the original sin of the Republican strategy was to allow for no investigation of any of this, to shut down the FBI background investigation, and to do nothing but the most partisan, insincere, and tenuous efforts on the committee side, the non-investigation investigation. So that`s been the problem.

MELBER: When you look at that, it`s coupled with this somewhat unusual decision to have a mystery questioner instead of the Republican side. So go ahead, sir.

WHITEHOUSE: Talking about a vote -

MELBER: You`ll be doing normal questions and they`ll be deferring what you`re sort of saying an entirety to this questioner?

WHITEHOUSE: Yes, talk about a vote of no confidence in your own team`s ability to get on the field and ask questions without blowing themselves up in terms of mistreatment of the witnesses and so forth. If they don`t trust their own 11 white male Republican Senators to ask questions without blowing up and they`ve got to bring in a ringer to cover for them, that tells you all you need to know.

MELBER: A ringer as you put it, here`s Republican Senator Corker`s view of it. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER, TENNESSEE: I think it`s really smart of them to get outside counsel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?

CORKER: Somebody will do something that you guys will run 24/7 and, you know, inadvertently somebody will do something that`s insensitive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Senator?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, looks like Bob and I agree.

MELBER: Well, when you talk about "Insensitive", he`s almost reducing it. What we saw from people by the way very clearly in both parties, men in both parties in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, really it didn`t make the Senate look like a responsible institution at that time.

WHITEHOUSE: No, it didn`t. But what you`ve got to remember --

MELBER: Let`s take a look at that. Let me show you that and then I`ll get your response. Take a look.

WHITEHOUSE: Yes, go ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You testified this morning in response to Senator Biden that the most embarrassing question involved -- this is not too bad -- women`s large breasts. Why in God`s name would you ever speak to a man like that the rest of your life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never did ask you to have sex, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve got to determine what your motivation might be. Are you a scorned woman?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Senator, if they`re trying to avoid that, what will it look like on Thursday to have one person do the party`s entire questioning? Is that what you expect to happen?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, probably better than that. But we shouldn`t overlook the fact that the two biggest abuses that they have done to these witnesses have been, first, to deny them the basic courtesy of investigation. And second, to mount this smear campaign attack because there is no universe in which you can both treat these women as sincere witnesses who deserve to be listened to, and at the same time say that they`re part of an orchestrated smear campaign. It`s one or the other and they`re trying to have it both ways.

So pitching these witnesses into the pit of nothing but a smear campaign, nothing but an orchestrated effort, completely deprecates what they have to say. You throw on top of that the fact that they wouldn`t investigate any of these facts so they can`t produce corroboration for what they have to say. And the whole thing is a setup. And frankly, Ms. Blasey Ford is very courageous to take the step that she did to walk into this setup and try to give it her best shot.

MELBER: And finally, I wanted to ask you, as a member of the committee who is assessing this nominee for the high court, he made a big deal of emphasizing how non-partisan he is and how as a judge he only looks at the law and he only looks at the facts. He doesn`t look at the red or the blue or the politics of ideology. Do you think any of that has been undermined by his very unusual decision to come out and defend his nomination with a single appearance on "Fox News" and no other public appearance or media?

WHITEHOUSE: And also very harsh comments about the witnesses lined up perfectly with the rhetoric that the Republicans are using. He is now in absolute rhetorical symmetry with the Republicans which doesn`t exactly look very bipartisan or neutral. But you know what, actually worse than that is the fact that he is complicit, for a guy who says that he`s all about fair process, in this very rigged and setup process.

He could at any moment have said, "Look, I`m going on the Supreme Court, I`ve got to stand for rule of law, and these people who I disagree with and who I think are wrong are at least entitled to a modicum of sincere investigation." And I`m simply not going to go forward and take the oath of office until we do this right. I`m not going to be running the Supreme Court on a wave of abuse of witnesses. And he`s been very happy to have that happen.

MELBER: So if I understand you right, you`re saying that his response to this, that his approach to procedure, to dealing with claims, to as you quoted him, to fairness, is itself a cause for concern separate from adjudicating the underlying allegation and its veracity?

WHITEHOUSE: Correct. You`ve got to live your values. And if your values are that you respect process and think that women who claim to have been the victims of a sexual assault should have their day and should have an investigation to support and potentially corroborate their stories, then you got to live that. You can`t have it that way out in some other world but when it comes to your own hearing you`re happy to be a part of and complicit in a ramrod effort.

MELBER: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on a busy time for your committee, thank you for coming on THE BEAT.

WHITEHOUSE: Good to be with you. Up next we turn to the other big question about firing Mueller`s boss when we`re back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Two days away as we`ve been discussing of what will happen on the Supreme Court and the Russia probe does still hang in the balance depending on what happens in the probe, the nation watching Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser testify on Thursday. Meanwhile, at that very day, Donald Trump will be meeting with Mueller`s boss Rod Rosenstein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday. Today I`m doing other things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It appears by design a split-screen moment withdrawing questions about what Trump would do given that New York Times story about Rosenstein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president have confidence in Mr. Rosenstein?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has confidence in the system and he --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not what I asked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the president`s attorneys Jay Sekulow said yesterday that if Rosenstein leaves, essentially the Mueller probe should be put on pause.

SANDERS: I probably go further. I think the Mueller probe should end because they`ve spent a year and a half and they found nothing because there is nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s a White House official saying it should end. Meanwhile, Fox News as the polls showing Mueller`s approval rating 13 points higher than the President he`s investigating. For what it`s worth, majority of voters want Mueller to take his time to get to the bottom of whatever there is there with collusion. Only 36 percent have that Trump line that it`s time to wrap it up.

I am joined by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and back with me Katty Kay of the BBC who`s covered these stories. Congresswoman, I wonder if you feel like a lot of the rest of us in the country when you see the New York Times touting a big bombshell on Friday, then other reports saying it wasn`t a bombshell and was basically a thinly sourced misunderstood piece, then there`s a reaction of the reaction.

Where do you get your facts and what do you think is the significance or lack of significance of what that has spawned which leads to a Thursday meeting that may or may not be the end of Rod Rosenstein`s career?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Well, the first thing, Ari, is that the fact that it`s on Thursday tells me that they want this to detract from the Kavanaugh hearings or they want the Kavanaugh hearings to detract from what could be a slow-motion Saturday night massacre as our ranking member Jerry Nadler has said.

I think that you know, the reality is Donald Trump has wanted to get rid of Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions because of their attention to the Mueller investigation and he would like to put in place people that do not want this Mueller investigation to continue or can undermine it in significant ways. It isn`t just by ending the investigation that they can undermine it. They can undermine it by not providing resources. They can undermine it by stopping him from doing certain things that he needs to do including sending a report to the Judiciary Committee.

There are ways around that of course, and Mueller is smart on this stuff but I do worry that if Rosenstein resigns, if he`s talked into resigning or he resigns, we are going to see the start of a really an attack on this investigation and a new kind of way. There`s been an attack publicly from the President on Twitter over and over again.

But this is going to be new because anyone that comes in -- first of all most of the people that would be have been named as potential people to oversee the Mueller investigation don`t actually have prosecutorial experience. So that is a problem. But on top of that, they are people who have been sort of staying the same lines that the President has been saying --

MELBER: Right. Your view as they may be more political to Solicitor General --

JAYAPAL: Potentially.

MELBER: -- holds a position that has at least more advocacy in it. Briefly, do you think the New York Times story on Rosenstein was basically right or basically wrong?

JAYAPAL: I have no idea. You know, it`s very difficult to say but certainly, I trust the New York Times as a publication. I don`t think that they generally put stories out there without really having some credible -- some credible sources. And so I think that it`s possible that some pieces of that were true. It`s also possible that people within the White House are trying to find an easy way to force Rosenstein to resign.

He`s come and testified before us in the House Judiciary Committee several times. I never got this sense that he was looking to step down so I was a little surprised by his reaction to all of this is very emotional reaction. Though I will say that Rod Rosenstein --

MELBER: Do you think -- do you think he gets easily rattled?

JAYAPAL: I don`t think he gets easily rattled.

MELBER: Because the follow-up story in the Times said he was worried about a potentially negative tweet and thus wanted to go to the White House to talk to John Kelly. If he had to leave he could do it without a tweet. And I imagine -- I don`t want to put words in your mouth, Congresswoman, but I imagine you have to do your job knowing that Donald Trump may tweet something mean about you or a friend, or a colleague, or even a constituent, and since he punches down to normal citizens, and you still have to do your job with or without the fear of that ominous tweet.

JAYAPAL: That`s right, Ari, I mean, I think that`s what got me actually reading that story. I thought what is going on here? This doesn`t seem like the guy who has been pretty strong so far with a few notable exceptions on making sure that this investigation continues and making sure that you know, we really have -- get Mueller the resources that he deserves.

No matter what happens, here`s what I think the American people have to understand. We have a big hearing for the highest court of the land on Thursday and this is going to distract from that, I think we have to be very careful of that, and I think we have to be very careful that whatever happens on Thursday is ultimately going to protect the Special Counsel. That`s why we Democrats are working to try to get that bill through. It says let`s protect the special counsel no matter what happens.

MELBER: Stay with me. I want to pass the mic as we say around here to Katty Kay. The Congresswoman and I both admit we`re not quite sure what`s up with this story but it`s hinky to quote the old movie The Fugitive. There`s something hinky here.

KATTY KAY, HOST, BBC: Yes. I mean, the idea that Rod Rosenstein would leave his job because of the fear of a tweet from the President doesn`t ring true. I mean, in that case, we`d have no one left in government, right, because especially not Rod Rosenstein`s boss who`s received most of the awful tweets that have come out, you know --

MELBER: And tweets are some of the only renewable resources we have.

KAY: We can generate endless numbers of those. I think what`s going on here is that Fox News poll. I think that is so interesting. We know that Donald Trump is watching. It is the second Fox News poll in a row that is shown that opinion of Mueller is now in positive territory amongst the respondents of that poll and we know how many people have been calling the President and saying hold off from his supporter side and saying hold off, don`t do this.

And therefore its leading me increasingly to think on Thursday that Rosenstein stays in his job.

MELBER: You think he stays and then you talk about Fox. Listen to -- on Fox them saying wait a minute, after beating up on the DOJ for so long, don`t fire Mr. President. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK STEYN, STEYNONLINE.COM: This is a setup. This was deliberately leaked by an anti-Trump person to provoke Trump into firing Rod Rosenstein in order to assist the Democrats in the Midterm Elections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAY: Yes, I don`t know if this was a setup or not or if there`s some big conspiracy theory behind this, but I do know that you know, with 52 percent of people in that Fox poll saying let this play out, let this run its course, and the President hearing that as you know, he does hear it and hearing it directly from people like Sean Hannity. Because if Sean Hannity is setting it on television you know, he`s also saying it on the phone to Donald Trump as well. That`s going to have probably more impact than almost anything else the president hears.

MELBER: Right, and it raises a question of whether it`s not a conspiracy but is it a conspiracy of a setup of a fake conspiracy under which there`s actually a real conspiracy. That happens sometimes.

KAY: Yes, I follow that. Katty Kay and Congresswoman Jayapal, thank you both. I`m going to fit in a break, but coming up, this is very important. What questions would Brett Kavanaugh, the Ken Starr prosecutor asked Brett Kavanaugh? Well he`s now in hot water tonight as people are digging through what Kavanaugh advocated Bill Clinton should face including graphic sexual questions of a personal nature? That`s later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back. Tonight we`ve covered many aspects of the news developments regarding this explosive Kavanaugh hearing on Thursday and the Republicans announcing they want to rush to a vote on Friday. But here`s something that hasn`t gotten as much attention. Will Brett Kavanaugh face the Brett Kavanaugh treatment on Thursday?

Consider that when he was a prosecutor working for Ken Starr, Kavanaugh urged certain questions be asked of President Clinton. They were of a graphic sexual nature regarding his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In fact, this is documented a 1998 memo that he wrote which said he strongly opposed giving the president any break in that kind of questioning, and that going easy on him regarding those personal questions itself would be abhorrent. And get this, and think about this as you prepare for the hearing, Thursday.

Brett Kavanaugh writes "it`s our job to make Clinton`s pattern of revolting behavior clear piece by painful piece. Kavanaugh listed as lawyers do the explicit questions that Clinton should face. Some of them, and this is important, went even further than what prosecutors went on to ask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Monica Lewinsky says that while you were in the Oval Office area, you touched her breasts would she be lying? If Monica Lewinsky says that while you were in the Oval Office area you touched her genitalia, would she be lying? If Monica Lewinsky says that you used the cigar as a sexual aid with her at the Oval Office area would she be lying?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Obviously, those were graphic questions. Some more graphic than you may have heard. Now the Washington Post reporting that in practice sessions, Kavanaugh has grown quote frustrated with questions digging into his private life particularly as drinking habits and his sexual proclivities, not wanting to answer questions that he deemed "too personal." So Brett Kavanaugh right now facing Brett Kavanaugh from 1998 would have a lot of trouble.

I`m joined by Liz Plank, a senior producer for Vox Media and Helaine Olen an Opinion Writer for The Washington Post whose latest piece The Staggering Hypocrisy of Brett Kavanaugh reviews exactly this history.

HELAINE OLEN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you for having me on. This is about the impossible hypocrisy of Brett Kavanaugh. The nerve of this man, he twenty years ago put Clinton through the wringer, all but tortured him in Monica Lewinsky. We cannot read these questions that he wanted asked on the air. I believe he would bleep me out every other second if I tried to read them. You can tell me if I`m right or wrong about that. And then he has the nerve to turn around and say oh no, I can`t answer these sorts of questions, it`s too personal. This is an invasion of my privacy.

Where was he twenty years ago? Where was that Brett Kavanaugh? And of course, we know where he was. He was a partisan then and he`s a partisan now who doesn`t even want an investigation into his own behavior.

MELBER: And your piece really holds up the standard and the documented history which you don`t have by the way for every judge but he had this stint on what was deemed a quite political operation there in Ken Starr`s office. Is your conclusion then that he was too partisan to be part of the Supreme Court that he`s too sexist or that he`s too hypocritical or all three.

OLEN: All of the above. This is somebody who really does not -- should not be in this position. His track record is as a Republican partisan from his early days in Washington through the Ken Starr investigation, through his time in the Washington courts where he has ruled as extreme Republican positions.

For example, he a few years ago a woman was -- a trainer was killed at SeaWorld if you remember that working with animals and he claimed that this was a dangerous profession on par with race car driving or football playing and SeaWorld should not be held liable for not offering her protection and this animal had killed before by the way. I mean it`s just -- he should not be in this position.

MELBER: I don`t want to make light of anything but I didn`t know we were going to get into SeaWorld liabilities today. How do you add to this pile of apparent steaming hypocrisy? Well here comes Ken Starr himself vouching for Brett Kavanaugh on the issue of these allegations of sexual misconduct.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

KEN STARR, FORMER UNITED STATES SOLICITOR GENERAL: I believe when Brett says it did not happen. And I believe Brett based upon my seeing him. So you know, character counts. And you kind of learn pretty quickly what a person`s character is when you`re in the trenches with them, right, day in and day out. And for me a year in and a year out.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

LIZ PLANK: Well, it looks like Brett Kavanaugh is getting a taste of what it`s like to be a woman in America and particularly a woman in America who is accusing a man of sexual assault. As we saw even today what it`s like to be Debbie Ramirez when the most -- arguably most powerful man on earth Donald Trump goes after your drinking habits and goes after your character and how messed up you are or how Stormy Daniels must have felt when the entire country went after her character and person Rudy Giuliani in the Trump administration went after her choices and her line of work to discredit her as a person.

And so this happens to women all of the time. The personal is always political and this is -- Brett Kavanaugh is getting a taste of that right now and he does not like it.

MELBER: And so when you look at that in this White House strategy, I`m literally going to do something we don`t always do which is read the headline on the screen. Under fire for sexual allegations, Kavanaugh draws backing from Ken Starr who hired him to probe sexual allegations against a Democrat. It`s almost too perfect and it must be -- I phrase this as a question. Is it something that Ken Starr and Brett Kavanaugh can`t see or unable to see from some sort of male blinders that this is not something they should be drawing attention to. That Ken Starr coming out isn`t helpful.

PLANK: And we also have to remember that you know, the Monica Lewinsky case and whole thing, that sort of scandal didn`t ruin Bill Clinton`s life, it ruined Monica Lewinsky -- Monica Lewinsky`s life, right? We only bring up Monica Lewinsky when it`s to talk about that thing that happened. We bring out Bill Clinton in a lot of different ways.

And the other thing I`ll say is also you know, the hypocrisy you know squared of that is that Brett Kavanaugh is very concerned about his private life while being someone who denied an abortion to a young woman who`s 17 years old saying that he had a right to make her personal decisions for her. This is not just the male blinders, I mean it`s their position on so many issues when it comes to women is that we don`t have a right to our privacy. We don`t have a right to our personal lives and he doesn`t like that. And maybe that just changed the way that he does -- he makes decisions for other people as well.

MELBER: I think you both brought to the fore a lot of important things that at times haven`t even hit the full crescendo, maybe they will on Thursday particularly your piece which people can check out as I mentioned in The Washington Post. Liz Plank and Helaine Olen, thank you both.

Up ahead, an update on an important story about accountability. A Dallas police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man in his own apartment. We have that update for you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: An update to an important story. A Dallas police officer has been fired after fatally shooting a black man who was inside his own apartment. The officer Amber Guyger was charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Botham Shem Jean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Dallas, more anger overnight over the shooting death of 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police say Amber Guyger was off duty when she shot Botham Shem Jean, a black man after mistakenly entering his apartment at the complex where she also lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That shooting sparked protests throughout Dallas. The Officers claiming she thought she was actually inside her own apartment and it`s reignited a large dialogue about police violence against African-Americans and unarmed African-Americans. The news tonight is while we don`t know the results of the investigation to the trial, that officer is now out of the job and the lawyer to the family says this is a first step but not enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This comes as a welcome relief. However, there`s still a long way to go. We`re still locked into an appropriate indictment by the grand jury which we believe is murder, an effective prosecution, and an appropriate sentencing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: As mentioned, the criminal investigation process continues. But in this case, the police department has made a decision that this person should no longer be an officer of the law.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: That does it for THE BEAT. We`ll be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. But don`t go anywhere because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thursday is D-day. Let`s play HARDBALL.

END

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