Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 12, 2018 Guest: Marc Caputo; Mitchell Berger; Richard DeNapoli; Ron Meyer; Eric Swalwell; Dwight Bullard
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Or even Gritty 2020, he won`t abolish ice. Pretty sure inspire a new generation but be careful flyers spans, too much political zealotry and you could become a fanatic. Wow. So happy I don`t read those still I have to read them.
That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.
"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now live from Broward County, Florida. Good evening, Ari. I will let you take it away without any awkward toss.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: This time, that works for us. Thank you, Katy.
We are live, as she mentions, tonight from Broward County, Florida. This is the homestretch and the epicenter of what`s shaping up to be a historic recount is taking place right behind me. We`re looking at the Florida governor and Senate races, a double recount. So in that building, I can tell you because we were just in there, election workers racing to finish the machine recount by the legally mandated Thursday deadline.
Earlier, we were inside the building and we look directly at how the recount is proceeding. We have that original reporting. We`re going to show it to you. I also spoke to a group of these protesters gathered out here with the last few hours and I`m going to show you that reporting in just a moment.
Now today, a slew of legal challenges in emergency hearings about the recount are occurring across the state of Florida. Republican politicians alleging misconduct even though the Florida State investigators say they haven`t seen evidence of any kind of voter fraud. Now the difference in this Senate race is basically a photo finish just over 12000 votes out of a whopping 8 million and more counting. In the governor`s race, Ron DeSantis is up by 33,000 votes, also out of about 8 million.
Now tonight, there are also key undecided state races that we`re going to show you around the country, in Georgia and Arizona. And then there are these new national numbers that show as the counting continues, the midterms blue Wave is getting even bigger and bluer. Seven million more people voted last week for Democrats than Republicans in those key House races. Democrats up by more than six-and-a-half percent nationwide. And that`s even with so many races still yet to be decided.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it possible that the Monday after the election we are still with you at the Big Board?
HODA KOTB, CORRESPONDENT, NBC: Statewide recount is underway in Florida.
DARA BROWN, MSNBC HOST: Now, we have to talk Georgia because there is a big race there left to be called.
ANDREA MITCHELL, COMMENTATOR, NBC NEWS: Arizona today, the slow counting of ballots continues with Democrat Krysten Sinema now in lead.
STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats should end up netting somewhere between 35 and 40 seats.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, POLISH-AMERICAN DIPLOMAT: Giving the Republicans their worst loss since Watergate.
MARIE HARF, CO-HOST, BENSON & HARF: More races get called, we could be somewhere close to 40 seats. The blue wave is looking much bluer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Much bluer. Now, night has fallen here and there are people behind me still at this late hour. A few hours ago, I had the chance to speak with some of the protesters. We`re going to show you that. But first, let`s go inside the epicenter of this whole debate and look at how the recount process actually works.
MELBER: This is ground zero of how the Florida election could be decided. Behind me are 12 different machines that are counting in real time these ballots right now, the over 700,000 ballots from Broward County which could be the key to the entire state and certainly a key for Democrats. All 700,000 of those ballots are going through.
What you`re seeing behind me right now is a recount in two parts. First, the multiple page ballot is being separated to only have the first page removed. So behind us, that`s what you`re seeing these election workers are doing. And then after they separate that, which we`re told will take hours late into today, they then will do the formal mechanical recount of the races on that first page of the ballot, including this key U.S. Senate race.
MELBER: That`s inside a building that we`re right in front of. Now, let`s get to our guests and we`ve got great ones. Marc Caputo is the ultimate Florida expert writing for "Politico", Mitchell Berger, a special counsel for the Florida Democratic Party. He was also a senior adviser for the Gore campaign in the 2000 Florida recount. He has memories of this building and this setting. And Richard DeNapoli, a state committeeman for the Republican Party of Broward County. Thanks for being here as part of our special coverage.
MARC CAPUTO, SENIOR WRITER, POLITICO: Thank you.
MITCHELL BERGER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, GORE CAMPAIGN 2000 RECOUNT: Thank you.
MELBER: Marc, let`s start with you. Where do we go from here? Is this a normal recount and what are the odds that the outcome changes?
CAPUTO: It`s a normal recount because there`s a problem in Broward County and in Palm Beach County so we can come to expect that. We saw that in 2000. This has kind of eerie recollections or echoes of it. It does appear because of the margins in the governor`s race, because of the margins in the Senate race that it`s unlikely to flip. So --
MELBER: You don`t think the Democrats pick things up even if all the votes are counted?
CAPUTO: I think they are going to -- it depends on how you define votes by the way. I do think that if you count the votes that were cast and accepted, for instance by the supervisors of elections before 7:00 p.m. on election day, which means a lot of absentee ballots that didn`t get there, I think if you just accept those, it appears that it`s going to be --
MELBER: Call me old-fashioned. My standard would be under the state laws of Florida which include past Tuesday if all those votes are counted.
CAPUTO: The state laws actually say that an absentee ballot that is not received by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday does not count.
MELBER: But they do the counting well through past Tuesday of what they have?
CAPUTO: They do. But there are thousands of ballots that are probably sitting in post offices in various places that just didn`t make it to the super ballot box.
MELBER: Let me take it to Mitchell. Our viewers know that Marc knows Florida.
MELBER: Is he wrong about the idea that the Democrats can`t pick this up?
CAPUTO: I said likely. I`m not --
MELBER: Don`t caveat. We`re here. This is real. Let`s go. Mitchell.
BERGER: Well, we`re doing a machine recount. There`s 25,000 undervotes in Broward County for the United States Senate race. When I tested the machines on yesterday, one of the machines failed. The machine number 10 failed so we had to retest them. And if you calibrate an SAT type test, a standardized test and you miss a question, you oftentimes just see the standardized test companies put the test back through.
BERGER: So we are now going to put the cards back through. And if in that race --
MELBER: But this is not academic.
BERGER: No. So 24 --
MELBER: This is to say you think Bill Nelson ends up a Senator again if this works.
BERGER: If there are 24,000 undervotes in Broward County where the people voted and there`s a 70 percent return on those votes, Bill Nelson`s the next Senator.
MELBER: Right. And when you say under vote, what you`re talking about is the idea that people meant to say something with their ballot but the machine didn`t get it.
BERGER: And let me be really clear. Governor Scott is scared about that. If he wasn`t scared about that, he wouldn`t be bringing all these lawsuits about fraud --
MELBER: That`s interesting.
BERGER: -- that don`t exist.
MELBER: That`s interesting. You`re saying if this was a real comfortable Republican margin, you wouldn`t have such a panicky freak out --
MELBER: -- a predictable meltdown --
MELBER: -- for Governor Scott who wants to be Senator.
BERGER: As my friend Marc Caputo said, otherwise you`re ahead of a touchdown in the fourth quarter, right. But otherwise -- if you`re afraid that there`s -- that we`re going to score two touchdowns because the votes haven`t been counted yet, you start saying fraud, fraud, fraud which the judge today found no fraud.
MELBER: Richard is our Florida Republican. What are your counterpoints, sir?
RICHARD DENAPOLI, STATE COMMITTEEMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF BROWARD COUNTY: Speaking for myself, not for the official party, I would say that Governor Scott was elected Senator on election night. And if the law is followed, he will remain the new Senator-elect even after that. The question is, that Mitchell brings up, the undervote says about 24,000. Brenda Snipes is notorious for not having transparency, committing illegal activities with regards to destroying ballots. That was a lawsuit just over a year ago.
MELBER: Now, you made -- you have made Mitchell take his glasses off.
BERGER: It`s on.
MELBER: You know what that means.
DENAPOLI: That means it`s on.
MELBER: Now, I want to be clear. When you mentioned Ms. Snipes, she runs this building behind us.
DENAPOLI: She was.
MELBER: We were in there. Let`s play a little bit of her discussion with my NBC colleague Kerry Sanders and then go back to you.
DENAPOLI: All right.
MELBER: Here`s Ms. Snipes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY SANDERS, NBC: Have there been mistakes?
BRENDA SNIPES, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: There have been issues that did not go the way we wanted. So we call it a mistake. We call it whatever we want to call it but I don`t want to take up any more of the recess time for the --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DENAPOLI: She constantly makes similar excuses. She has not followed the law. It`s been determined by a judge, not by me. As a judge that has said that she has not followed the law in the past. Why out of all these counties across the state, large counties, small counties, they can complete their legally required totaling at the appropriate time frames? But always we come down to Broward County, Miami Dade, they finished. Broward County did not. Miami Dade has far more voters than Broward County.
MELBER: And I think this cuts both ways. On the one hand, the Republicans appear nervous which seems to advance the idea that maybe there are enough votes there for them to lose at least this Senate race. On the other hand, you don`t have to be a political junkie to know that Florida has some problems with election.
What you`re saying echoes some of what I heard, what I -- I spent some time with the protesters here. And in the late afternoon, a lot of them were Republican protesters. I wanted to hear what they have to say. Let`s play that.
MELBER: By a show of hands, how many people here are affiliated with or hoping the Republicans win? What`s your concern? What do you want to see happen inside there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just want justice. We want the truth. We don`t want fraud. Snipes says to fight court orders when originally she was supposed to have the total count. We have 67 counties in Florida, how come here -- this is the highest Democratic concentration here that we have the problem here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sign says systemic sabotage. I think that this is been a long-term systemic sabotage. I think that it goes a lot deeper. These people cannot be that incompetent. It`s a smokescreen of cheating.
MELBER: When you hear the president weigh in that way, do you think that`s helpful or do you think he should stay out and let this Florida process run its course?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s very helpful because we need to know that our leaders are with us, that they know that we have systemic sabotage going on in the U.S. elections.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really think that our president should get involved. I think President Trump is probably the only one that can help solve this mess.
CAPUTO: Well, it`s -- I don`t try to split the baby here, is that it is almost beyond a doubt that Supervisor Snipes has had more controversies in Florida than any other election supervisor. There is a strong case to be argued and made for incompetence on her part and the part of some of her staff. However, to say that there was fraud, to say that fraud has resulted in disappeared or found ballots appearing, there`s just zero evidence for it.
And part of the problem that Governor Scott has had is rather than stick to the facts which is that one can make a clear case for incompetence, he has in the words of Spinal Tap, he`s picked it up to 11.
MELBER: Picked it up to 11. You know that the King Solomon story about splitting the baby is the idea that you can`t split the baby.
CAPUTO: This is true but I`m trying anyway.
MELBER: You know I guess what I want to ask you, Richard is we`re seeing the energy from a lot of the protesters here behind us. I don`t know if you follow the musician J. Cole but he has the song where he says, count it up, count it up, count it up, count it up. Isn`t that the best way in American legacy within the state laws to go forward and count this all up?
DENAPOLI: I believe in counting every illegal vote. And that`s the problem here is that there are votes possibly being put in illegally, whether there is actual fraud, there is the appearance of fraud. I myself was present just last night at some ballot boxes that were found in a rental car at the airport. I can share the video with you and there are unmarked ballots in that box. So if there are unmarked ballots floating around in rental cars, that lends the appearance that something is wrong here. Somebody could mark those ballots. Somebody could get them in there.
MELBER: And let me get a final word to Mitchell before I got another interview.
BERGER: I didn`t eat any chats in 2000 and there are no illegal votes now. OK. And the judge found that today.
MELBER: Right. And that`s an important point on the facts which is there have not been findings by the independent arbiter, by the judges or the state authorities of that voter fraud which is what makes President Trump`s comments about this so irresponsible and fact-free.
But thanks to my panel on the ground. What I`m going to do right now is go right out to, I believe Tallahassee, where we have Ron Meyer who`s a law expert representing Senator Nelson`s campaign to shoot their over signatures and vote by mail ballots. Ron, what is at stake on that issue?
RON MEYER, ELECTION LAW EXPERT: Well, what we have here is a question of using signatures of voters to have laypeople determine whether they`ve matched the signatures that are on file with the registrar of elections office. And what we`re seeing is just large numbers of votes being cast by registered voters being set aside by laypeople applying no standards, just guessing at whether a signature matches or not and those votes aren`t being counted.
There`s a federal lawsuit that challenges that process that`s ongoing. It will be heard in federal court on Wednesday whereby what we want is these people who have registered properly, have timely properly cast, they mailed by a -- vote by mail ballot to have their ballots counted. And that`s what the law is about.
Look, you can use my own mother as an example. She`s an elderly woman in Palm Harbor, Florida. She votes by mail. Her mind is sharp but not so much her handwriting all the time. If she wavers a little bit in signing the ballot, should her ballot be discounted and not counted? Of course not. She`s a valid regular voter whose ballots should be counted.
MELBER: Now, Ron, you know I`m not going to talk about your momma. That`s just how I was raised obviously. But you`re using her as an example. You`re saying that these signatures sometimes might be at some distance from the original that people are looking at when they`re doing this whole work and that they`re going to just make a mistake. You`re not talking about stealing an election. You`re talking about a kind of human error.
MEYER: What I`m talking about is a process that presupposes that everybody signs their name exactly the same every time. And that`s just simply scientifically not the case. And we don`t have standards in place for the 67 canvassing boards around the state to apply to even judge these signatures and whether they`re the same.
This is not a circumstance where somebody comes forward and said, "Somebody else voted my ballot." This is a circumstance where a person voted by mail signed their signature to the ballot and it should be counted. And we have a process in place that doesn`t allow it. We also have a circumstance in Florida --
MELBER: But let me ask you --
MEYER: -- where --
MELBER: -- before I let you go, Ron. I want to get you on the politics which is the same question I asked earlier. Do you think by your definition of all the votes are counted that Senator Nelson can actually win this race?
MEYER: Absolutely, absolutely. There are enough legitimate, legal votes that need to be counted that can flip that kind of margin. We`ve seen machine errors even in the recounts today in the afternoon in Duvall County. One of the recounting machines had a hiccup and failed to tally 15,000 votes. Those votes had to go back through the machine to correct that in the recount.
Those are the kind of mistakes that a machine recount will pick up from the original election night returns. So there`s plenty of room to flip this election. And we believe that if everybody counts all of the votes that are legitimately entitled to be counted, Senator Nelson wins.
MELBER: Well, that`s the big bet and that`s the big debate here tonight, the debate with a lot of people behind me. Ron Meyer, thanks for sharing your expertise. I really appreciate it.
MEYER: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you, sir.
Coming up, we talk about what are the Democrats going to do with their subpoena power and we look at this historic blue wave that keeps growing. I will be joined by Congressman Eric Swalwell live. He`s on two of those key committees.
And later, a key witness claiming that Bob Mueller`s office actually told him to get ready to be indicted. That`s the big story. And I have an exclusive interview tonight with a Watergate prosecutor who says Bob Mueller actually has a full proof way to safeguard his probe even with the new A.G.
And then later in the show, we`ll get back to the action here in Florida and more of my reporting from inside that elections office.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching a special edition of THE BEAT live right here from Broward County, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK CITY: We do have a responsibility I believe to investigate the process by which the FBI was stifled in this investigation by the White House. We will make sure that Matt Whitaker immediately, one of the first orders of business would be to invite him, if necessary to subpoena him to appear before the committee
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It`s a direct result of the blue wave. You heard it there. That`s the Democrat Jerry Nadler, poised to take over the House Judiciary Committee and its impressive subpoena power. And he says he will grill Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker about his new role overseeing this Russian probe. It`s part of a new reality confronting the Trump administration. Democrats winning these projected 35 House seats. As we`ve reported on this show from the start, that`s their biggest midterm haul in four decades and planning investigations into Trump`s handling of the Mueller probe and much more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE ALLEN, JOURNALIST, AXIOS ON HBO: The ouster of Jeff Sessions?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Certainly.
ALLEN: The North Korea summit?
SCHIFF: Certainly all issues involving North Korea.
ALLEN: Commitments to Saudi Arabia?
SCHIFF: You could continue down the list.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, THIS WEEK: What are your top oversight priorities?
REP.ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND, RANKING MEMBER OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: George, I really want to look at some things that affect people on a day to day basis such as, as I said, drug prices and health care issues.
ALLEN: White House staff use of personal e-mail.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: For sure.
ALLEN: The president`s business dealings abroad.
FEINSTEIN: Absolutely. And I want to see his tax return.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And now, NBC News tonight reporting a key witness in the Russian probe, a Roger Stone ally you may have heard of. His name is Jerome Corsi is now saying that Mueller`s team told him to get ready to be indicted for perjury. That`s according to Mr. Corsi.
I`m joined now as promised by California Congressman Eric Swalwell. He serves on the Judiciary Committee where I just showed that sound from Jerry Nadler, as well as the Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining me.
Starting on the intelligence side, sir, who do you see as people that are worthy of subpoenas? Would you, for example, want to subpoena the translator for the Trump-Putin summit about which there remains a big mystery?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Ari. And Happy Veterans Day to all our Vets. You know, Ari, we want to do things that make a difference in our democracy, in people`s lives as it relates to Russia, certainly fill in the gaps. You know bring in Michael Cohen, understand the deal he was trying to do with Trump Tower in Moscow during the primary election, know whether he told the president or not.
Finally, understand whether Don Jr. told his dad about the Russian offer of support for Hillary Clinton but to do this so we protect against future interference by the Russians. And yes, Ari, know what the president said to Vladimir Putin in that summit when he met one on one and only a U.S. interpreter was there. And then just shortly thereafter, praised him on the world stage and defied the findings of our intelligence officials.
MELBER: So you do intend to subpoena that translator?
SWALWELL: Well, Mr. Schiff and I tried to subpoena the translator at our very last House Intelligence open hearing. And so I expect that that`s still going to be on the table. But, Ari, I also want to be clear. The American people I think put Democrats in the majority because of health care. That was on the ballot.
So we`ll try and collaborate where we can to restore protections of health care. Let`s get that infrastructure plan done that the president wants to do and let`s make sure that as wages stay flat that we find a way to give tax cuts to people who work on every floor, not just the top floor. So we can collaborate if the president wants to come to the table and do deals.
MELBER: Yes. I mean that`s something that`s been a big matter of debate in Washington. How big was the blue wave? Bigger than I think some initially said and what was it for. You`re saying you think the main reason that you won such a historic majority here is health care?
SWALWELL: It was health care. The president gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions and took away the individual mandate and most people are seeing their premiums go up. Health care was on the ballot.
One other observation though, Ari. We have elected now 25 and counting new members in the Democratic majority who are in their 40`s or under. So the country is looking forward. They`re looking at people who bring new energy, ideas, and confidence. And I`m excited to serve, you know, with those new members.
MELBER: Right. And before I let you go, take a listen to advice for you and your new powerful chairman and women from none other than former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, AUTHOR, TRUMP`S AMERICA: If all you do is end up investigations which unfortunately we did in `98, it actually hurts you because the country wants to see things work, because the country doesn`t want to have the House Democrats spend all day every day in investigations in an open warfare against the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is he right or wrong?
SWALWELL: He`s right. I agree with his words, not his deeds back in `98. But, Ari, the days of presidential immunity are over. Looking the other way, giving the president a free pass, not standing up for our democracy, that is done. And the voters voted to put a check on power on these abuses of power. So we`re going to do our job there.
MELBER: Well, anyone who thinks you`re sometimes predictable got it wrong tonight, Congressman because I haven`t heard you agree with Newt Gingrich all that often. But that`s interesting context.
SWALWELL: It`s a new day.
MELBER: We`ll be watching and I hope you come back on THE BEAT.
SWALWELL: Of course. Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you, sir.
What we`re going to do now is turn right back to our on the ground reporting in this historic fight in Florida. A judge today rejecting Republican claims of voter fraud. We`re going to look at civil rights as well when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber reporting live right here from Broward County, Florida. And tonight a state judge rebutting some Republican claims that there was voter fraud here. The judge flatly denying Rick Scott`s request to season secure voting machines in Broward County though we did agree to beef up some security at the site. That`s part of what`s behind me.
The judge said though, and this is important, no evidence of fraud despite claims like this from Scott and Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: Senator Nelson is clearly trying to try and to commit fraud, to try to win this election. That`s all this is.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: And you think that is -- the Senator himself is committing fraud?
SCOTT: Well, it`s his team.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of a sudden, they`re finding votes out of nowhere and Rick Scott who won by, you know, it was close but he won by a comfortable margin. Every couple of hours, it goes down a little bit.
SCOTT: I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Those claims as you see were being made despite no evidence proving a voter fraud. Now, I spoke to Todd Falzone today. He`s counsel for the Democrats campaign Bill Nelson about this very issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD FALZONE, COUNSEL TO BILL NELSON CAMPAIGN: These claims of fraud that have been made since the beginning, I was here at the beginning when they were still counting the mail-in ballots and there has been no indication from anyone that there`s been any fraud. So it`s very hard to just write this off as First Amendment speeches when they`re coming from someone with the weight of authority of the new governor of the State of Florida. So it`s just -- it`s sad. It`s a sad time for us to be contesting elections when the government is trying to undermine the validity of the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And now I turn to another expert live on site with me. Dwight Bullard is a former Florida State Senator. He`s now with a voting rights group called The New Florida Majority. And Maya Wiley, former chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the oversight agency of the NYPD and a civil rights expert.
Dwight, I`m going to turn to you here. And we`re in a place where there`s a lot of energy behind us. There`s a lot of discussions about this. We`re also sitting in a state that by a very big bipartisan margin just decided that people who had convictions get to vote. How do you feel watching that progress but also what we`ve been reporting look like Trumped up claims of voter fraud by some Republican officials?
DWIGHT BULLARD: Well, the rallies or the allegations of voter fraud have been false. They were false even before the judge ruled on it. And it really shows a level of pursuing in the part of Rick Scott because we`re talking about voter suppression or tactics around voter disengagement. Governor Scott`s been at the forefront, going back to the laws he signed into place in 2011.
So when you hear him now claim voter fraud after time and time again in purging the rules, making sure folks can vote, you know, being caught in the Supreme Court in terms of how those disenfranchised former felons are being given their rights back as a very recently, the context of voter fraud in this time and place seems very hypocritical coming from him.
MELBER: And it seems like -- to make a Florida reference a kind of a crocodile tears type of thing.
BULLARD: Oh very much so. It`s like (INAUDIBLE). So the idea there has been rejected is really karma for all the times that we see rejection. But to your earlier point, the idea that 1.4 million individuals will be getting their voting rights back gives great promise to an expansion of democracy moving forward. However, in the current context that we`re in now, for those folks watching this happen, what`s going to be their level of engagement or will there be more even more apathy as a result of what they`re seeing take place.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Which goes to the process right behind us in that building and these protests and everyone saying OK, does it ultimately after the noise is the process fairly adjudicated. Let me turn to Maya Wiley who speaks with expertise on many of these issues. Maya, I`m speaking to you from Florida. We`re here as a news event because it`s so tight. You have two different statewide races and they`re both these razor-thin recount margins and that`s a story about red and blue. And yet I wonder if you feel that we`ve all learned something positive about the fact that you know what`s not red and blue divided, what`s not 49-49, was that over 60 percent of voters in Florida, a wide coalition said actually yes, people who`ve offended should still have their voting rights and that tells us that issue has more support than some of these partisan debates.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: That was a critical vote for the reasons that Mr. Bullard said. And fortunately Florida wasn`t the only state that tried to make it easier for citizens to vote for Florida being the most substantial both because of its history of voter suppression but also because of the size of the population that had been disenfranchised even though they had paid their debt to society. And that -- and it`s a huge percentage of those people, by the way, are black and Latino, so it skews racially.
I think the thing that`s so important here is Republicans actually supported re-enfranchising folks. In other words it was bipartisan and at some point we have to come to grips in this country because we`ve got at least over the past decade, we have instances of Republican lawmakers making explicit statements including, by the way, Brian Kemp in Georgia that Republicans will be in trouble if black people vote, that Republicans will be in trouble if Latinos vote. And so to distract us from the central promise of our democratic order which is our fundamental right to select the folks who lead us, that has to be a bipartisan endeavor because frankly when we suppress votes, when we make it difficult for citizens to vote, it also impacts people who are white. There is not one race that`s impacted by making it more difficult.
And one thing we have to pay attention to in October there was a poll that showed only 51 percent of Americans had faith in our democracy. 51 percent, that`s a shockingly low number and that`s something that has to be a bipartisan project.
MELBER: Right. And that really goes to the larger civil rights aspects of all of this. Maya, please stay with me. Dwight Bullard on the ground here in Broward County, thank you so much for being a part of our special coverage. I appreciate it. And it`s interesting time given the work that you`ve been doing.
MELBER: What we`re going to do now as we often do on this show is cover more than one news item. The other big story going on of course is developments in Bob Mueller`s Russia probe. The quiet period, it looks like that`s over. So on the one hand, you have Auto Trump installing a loyalist as Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. Democratic leaders sending a letter to the Justice Department`s ethics office. What they`re demanding now if that Whitaker recused over serious ethical considerations including his past attacks on the Mueller probe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: He`s already prejudged the Mueller situation. If he -- if he stays there, he will create a constitutional crisis by inhibiting Mueller or firing Mueller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to turn now to a BEAT exclusive. I am proud to say we are joined here by George Frampton. He was a Watergate Special Prosecutor and he helped write something you may have heard about, the so-called roadmap to address Richard Nixon`s potential crimes. He says that same roadmap shows a "potential route for Mueller even if, this is key, even if Donald Trump`s allies do now try to use their power at the DOJ to block the probe. And Maya Wiley, as I mentioned is still with us.
George, thanks for taking your work in this story to THE BEAT first. Walk us through what you mean here.
GEORGE FRAMPTON, FORMER WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, alright let`s start from the beginning. It`s absolutely essential that the results of Robert Mueller`s investigation be made public. I don`t think -- and you`re seeing it there at Ground Zero in Florida when you talk about the validity of an election. The American public is not going to have faith in our election system on the rule of law unless they learn what Robert Mueller set out to do, how he did it, and what he discovered. So that`s very essential.
In the Watergate case, for example, the results of the grand jury`s investigation, the evidence against the president was made public because the tapes went to Congress and there was an impeachment investigation. In the case of Bill Clinton, the Ken Starr investigations results, and don`t forget that was not a national security or an election integrity investigation, it was about an Alaska land deal and his sex life. That was made --
MELBER: So how would you -- how would you -- I know, but Clinton -- George, Clinton impeachment, let`s put it to the side. How would you apply this to Trump?
FRAMPTON: Well, there are a lot of different ways that the Mueller results of his investigations can be made public. We described one. Historically there`s the tradition, the precedent of the grand jury submitting a report then to Judge Sirica who was incidentally a Republican judge. And with the approval of the court of appeals sent that evidence to the Congress for impeachment consideration and therefore public exposure. But there are other ways too --
MELBER: So let`s break that out. Let`s break that out, just that one. You`re arguing that if Mr. Whitaker tries to kneecap this probe in some way and the reporting out tonight is he says he`s not going to limit the budget even though he`d mused about that publicly. He`s trying to send signals that he`d be more like a Rod Rosenstein. But if he does, you`re saying that Mueller you think legal authority to use the grand jury and then what, we`d all see what`s in there?
FRAMPTON: People -- well the -- it would be sent to the Congress and then it would be up to the House of Representatives and perhaps to the Congress as a whole. In the case of the Clinton impeachment, the entire -- the House of Representatives voted on a very bipartisan basis to make all of that evidence public. And so the public did learn everything about the course of the investigation and the results. That could happen here with the grand jury report to the House.
MELBER: Maya speak -- let me bring in -- let me bring in Maya -- and I apologize, I`m on a delayed remote here from Florida. But Maya, speak to Georgia`s insight there that there is another avenue, and what would happen if there was the removal of Bob Mueller. Do you think that under Georgia`s roadmap the remaining prosecutors could still try on an emergency basis to take this stuff to Congress which now has a Democratic House so the public could really see?
WILEY: Well, I agree with Mr. Frampton that this is the right way for those who want this to become public including Robert Mueller himself hopefully to look for strategies to make sure this becomes public. Remember though that Gorge -- that Robert Mueller is operating under a different set of rules, and as a special counsel, in this case, he has to go through whoever his boss is which has been Rod Rosenstein, now if it becomes Whitaker unless he`s recused, Whitaker actually has the ability to quash the report in the first instance.
One thing that`s important to recognize is under the rules if he does that, he does have to report to Congress that he did it. And that gives a democratically controlled Congress then some transparency into the fact that it`s happened and then gives them the ability to try to go through their own process to subpoena witnesses and identify for themselves what that evidence may have been having subpoena power matters a lot.
I think this issue of -- I don`t think this is what we`ve seen or known of Robert Mueller in terms of how he behaves. He`s a by the books prosecutor. So whether he would do that and take that route is the question that`s open.
FRAMPTON: Don`t forget, Ari, that --
MELBER: Well, Bob Mueller is -- I got to fit in -- I got to fit in a break. Robert Mueller is by the book and George Frampton helped write one of those books. George, I hope you can come back another time. We`re juggling a lot of breaking news out here as well. Maya and George Frampton, thank you so much. I want to turn back to the recount here in Florida. For many Americans, all of this, well, it looks like deja vu all over again.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a tight fluid computers, Tom. This is the answer. Get it right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need Florida, Florida, Florida. Let me show you one more time, Tom. This is it right here, Florida, Florida, Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The 2000 race between George Bush and Al Gore went all the way to the Supreme Court with Florida on the map. There were those butterfly ballots that was right here where I`m coming to you live from in Broward County. And now, yes, we have another ballot, the so-called hidden Senate ballot.
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STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the ballot for Broward County and you can see what they did here. Long list of instructions in the left column, underneath that list of instructions you get the race for U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, the governor`s race where there were 26,000 more votes cast prominently in the middle column, a bunch of candidates, lots of spacing between them, hard to miss the governor`s race, maybe a little easier to miss the Senate race.
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MELBER: Back then we had the so-called Brooks Brothers riot. This was Republican operatives who were in that room behind me that I`ve been broadcasting from rushing the Miami-Dade Elections Office inspiring a movie. Now we have MAGA hat protesters and also bikers for Trump today. Now, the importance of street-level pressure was as I mentioned dramatize is something you may have seen. This was the HBO classic about the 2000 race called recount.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went out protestors down there in Palm Beach, Tallahassee, and Miami call Roger Stone, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) protesters outside of Gore`s home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. Now, listen people, this is a street fight for the presidency of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was for all the marbles because Florida has well, the third most electoral college votes in the nation. No Republican has actually won the White House without winning Florida in about a century. Now, coming up, we`re going to go 1more from my reporting inside the elections office that`s new tonight. Plus, I`m going to be joined by Congressman Ted Deutch who represents the folks right here in Broward County.
MELBER: In our reporting today, I got to watch some of the recount process up close and we got an inside look at all the people patiently monitoring these results heading into the deadline on Thursday.
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MELBER: Let me show you a little bit of what we`re having behind us here, what we`re seeing. You`ve got election workers, you`ve got the county supervising Board of Elections room here, so you`ve got the local attorneys, you`ve got media observers. We`ve seen some representatives for the different campaigns and politicians behind me. There`s obviously also a lot of security. And so, throughout this room is really just like it was in 2000, ground zero for a lot of people who have a lot of stake in what happens in that room with the deadlines approaching. Come with me.
Right here, this is the mother of all waiting rooms. You`ve got a lot of different people who are gathered, media, election representatives, the campaigns, the parties, and everyone in here has a reason to be in here to keep track of what`s going on in there. This is part of the transparency of the process but it`s also where everyone is waiting around to find out what`s going to happen when we reach these deadlines, when these recounts come in and whether the manual recount is actually triggered if it`s close enough when this mechanical recount that you saw behind me is finished.
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MELBER: I`m joined now by Congressman Ted Deutch. His district includes Broward County and parts of Palm Beach County. Thanks for having us in your district.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Yes, welcome. It`s great to have you here.
MELBER: Do you remember Better Know a District with Colbert.
DEUTCH: I do.
MELBER: Maybe not your fault but they would give your district a hard time for how often there are voting problems here. What do you -- what do you care to say on behalf of Broward County?
DEUTCH: Well, the question isn`t voting problems, the question is just making sure that all of the votes are counted.
MELBER: I think that --
DEUTCH: That`s the issue and that`s what you`re missing. Please --
MELBER: I`m going to -- I`m going to right on you. I think that`s very important and we`ve been covering that. And the president is lying when he talks about voter fraud. He`s undermining the legitimacy of these elections. We`ve reported that so that`s clear and as journalists, we have an obligation.
But this ballot is not the best ballot and Broward County is now the epicenter for this debate over whether this feels like a hidden place to pick you senate candidate.
DEUTCH: Well, we`re going -- we`re going to find out. We`re -- they`re going to do the recount right now. We`re going to find out exactly whether this is a problem with the scanners or not. They`re going to recalibrate them and then we`ll find out. But let`s wait until the recount is played out. You`re right about the president, but it`s not just a president. The way that Rick Scott has behaved here, the way that he`s tried to cast doubt on this whole process is so dangerous.
Ari, here`s what people around the country know about Rick Scott. They know that when there`s a hurricane, he puts on his Navy hat and he travels around the state and he tells people to be calm and to work together. It`s time that he maybe considers putting that Navy cap back on and looking at the Florida voters and telling them let`s be calm, let`s stay together for the benefit of our democracy. That`s what he ought to be doing.
MELBER: Well, let`s talk about that. Did he cross a line in trying to get these voting counting machines ceased because I was in there and they said he even succeeded at that for a day or two and could have effectively kneecap the recount? Go ahead.
DEUTCH: Of course. It`s important to remember that his attempt to seize those machines, to impound the machines is just the natural extension of everything he`s done since he`s been governor, trying to make it harder to register voters, trying to make it harder to cast votes early, reducing the number of early voting sites even when he tried to purge close to 200,000 voters from the voting rolls including a World War II veteran I represent.
MELBER: If he`s -- if he is declared, and we`re not there, but if he is declared the lawful winner, do you see his conduct here as a stain on that victory?
DEUTCH: Well, I think his behavior has been really terrible because of his efforts to try to cast doubt on our elections. What`s important to remember is what happened today. A Republican-appointed judge just told him we`re not going to allow you to use your power as governor to send in your state troopers and impound the machines. He`s not -- he`s the Governor of Florida. He`s not an unelected autocrat, and he needs to be held accountable.
MELBER: And you`re making an important point within all of the noise. The counting is continuing because of what a judge ruled today and that`s still is the law in Florida and that`s still a law in the United States. I think that`s the important point that can get lost. Congressman Deutch, thank you for being part of our coverage.
DEUTCH: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Up next, the Senate runoff in Mississippi has been rocked by quite controversial and inappropriate comments from Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith.
MELBER: Are we live? Yes, we are. My apologies. I can`t hear. I want to welcome everyone back to Florida. The Midterm election is still underway with a runoff in a key Senate race right now. This is over two weeks away. In Mississippi, Cindy Hyde-Smith faces a runoff against Democrat Mike Espy. That race has been rocked by these explosive comments from Hyde-Smith posted on Twitter over the weekend.
SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI: If he invited me to a public hanging, I`d be on the front row.
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MELBER: Give me -- just give me a countdown. Espy calling those comments about a public hanging "reprehensible and said it shows a lack of judgment. Hyde-Smith released a statement saying "I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement in referencing the one who invited me. I used an exaggerated expression to regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous. This was the scene at a press conference today.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you expand on it then why you said it what you meant by it and why people in the state should not see it as offensive.
HYDE-SMITH: We put out this statement yesterday and it`s available and we stand by that statement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, are you familiar with Mississippi`s history of lynchings?
HYDE-SMITH: I put out a statement yesterday and that`s all I`m going to say about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mentioned that there shouldn`t be -- it shouldn`t be viewed with a negative connotation. Could you at least explain --
HYDE-SMITH: I put out a statement yesterday and we stand by the statement and that`s all I`m going to say about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So what does Mike Espy say about all this? Well, I`ve got some news for you. Chris Matthews has a live interview with Espy, that`s coming up on "HARDBALL" in just a few minutes.
MELBER: The old saying in Florida recount politics is Florida, Florida, Florida. I can tell you, that it`s still going strong here. Our time is up but I will be back later tonight reporting live from this very spot with Chris Hayes and later with Lawrence O`Donnell. The counting continues, our reporting continues, but that does do it for THE BEAT and I want to tell you "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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