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Trump storms out. TRANSCRIPT: 1/9/2018, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: Malcolm Nance, Michal McFaul, Michael Eric Dyson, David Kelly, Chris Coons

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: January 9, 2019 Guest: Malcolm Nance, Michal McFaul, Michael Eric Dyson, David Kelly, Chris Coons

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Wonders how he`s supposed to live with bureaucracy. The other wonders how he`s supposed to live without you. One asks how can we be in the U.N. if we`re constantly maligned. The other asks how can we be lovers if we can`t be friends.

If we conflate the two of them, now we all lose. Just trust me on this one.

All right. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY and fun with Photoshop.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, very briefly.

TODD: Good evening, Ari.

MELBER: I love a good Michael Bolton reference. Also, I don`t know if you were looking for them, I have your TPS reports.

TODD: Yes, you`re the stapler guy, aren`t you?

MELBER: They`re right here. We have a ton of staplers in the basement at 30 Rock. I admit it. Great movies. Great music. We`ll see you soon.

TODD: See you brother.

MELBER: We begin THE BEAT tonight with the person who hired Bob Mueller now expected, this is brand new, to leave the DOJ. You know his name. Rod Rosenstein.

He now signals he will leave office, meaning the entire Justice Department, but note the catch. He`ll do it once Mueller`s work is done. And this new attorney general from Trump would be confirmed. Now after all the speculation about Mueller, this is a clue that at least Rosenstein thinks the Russia probe could be over soon.

Meanwhile, Democrats sounding a wider alarm.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It`s deeply concerning, particularly when we have an acting attorney general who is so hostile toward the Mueller investigation. And an incoming attorney general who has made it clear that he doesn`t believe a president can obstruct justice, even when he fires an FBI director to make the Russia problem go away.

So the combination of those changes ought to be deeply concerning to anyone who cares deeply about the rule of law.


MELBER: That is the reaction. Meanwhile, new details emerging about Paul Manafort leaking data developed by a private polling firm that worked for the Trump campaign which was then given to Ukrainian oligarchs.

Let`s get right into it. Malcolm Nance is an MSNBC terrorism analyst and the author of "The Plot to Destroy America." And former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

Good evening to you both. Malcolm, I wonder what you think given the intersection of the Mueller probe and the counterintelligence issues that you focus on. What does it say to you that Rod Rosenstein both is preparing to leave but says, basically through leaks, that he would do it when Mueller is done?

MALCOLM NANCE, TERRORISM ANALYST, MSNBC: I`m not sure whether Rosenstein is going to be leaving as fast as people think. But I think that maybe if he`s going to leave at all, he`s going to leave when one key aspect of this investigation is finished.

And if the new filings that we saw with Paul Manafort are any indication, it`s because Robert Mueller has found the bridge between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign. And all that is left -- again, we don`t know anything that Robert Mueller knows. We`re only finding this out through the Manafort`s filing and their error that they made.

But what we most likely are going to see here is that at some point, that information, that polling data that Manafort gave them was handed off to the Russians and somehow worked back into the Russian information warfare operation against states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

If Robert Mueller comes out with that, then you have conspiracy, just one legal letter shy of the word treason. And so if that comes to be, it will be very fascinating.

MELBER: Well, and this -- what you just laid out is not what we know yet, as I think you yourself acknowledge, but it is what is seemingly so significant because, on the one hand, if you`re Paul Manafort and you handed off some information, I mean political operatives are famous for bragging about all kinds of stuff, you wouldn`t need to lie about it.

You might mention, yes, I sent this to that e-mail. I sent promotional materials. I referred to public polling. You might even say I referred to all kinds of campaign stuff, but there was nothing wrong with it. What does it seem to tell you that this very sophisticated international operator, even after flipping, according to Mueller, and that`s the allegation, wanted to commit a new crime and hide the fact that he had given off this polling?

NANCE: Well, you know, when you`re dealing with things that are coming out of the Mueller investigation, you really have to do intelligence analysis like I`m trying to do. Mueller is like a black hole in space.

And we`re seeing with all of these filings, these little bits of data, we`re seeing things pulled to the center, and we know that something is there that has a gravity of force that is greater than all the rest. And by seeing that -- by seeing what we -- what little we know right now, we can see that Manafort feels that he has to hide this information away from the special counsel, which means he fears something greater than prosecution in the United States court system.

Whether he owed Oleg Deripaska an enormous amount of money or he knows that the information that is found here is absolutely criminal and there is no way out of it. He felt that he had to lie about it. And when you get to that point, all that does is make those counterintelligence dogs at the FBI sniff harder and start chasing down the leads with greater intensity.

MELBER: Ambassador McFaul, listen to what Paul Manafort falsely claimed when pressed on these very issues during the time that he was campaign chair.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign, and Putin and his regime?

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIR: No, there are not. It`s absurd and there`s no basis to it.


MELBER: With the ties revealed, how do you -- ambassador, how do you view what is immediately leaking out piecemeal and to some degree by mistakes or malpractice by Manafort`s team, what do you view as the significance given what you know about how Russia operates?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, I just first want to underscore what the two of you were just saying. Mr. Mueller knows a lot more than we do. We should never presume that we know the whole story. That`s the first predicate I always want to say.

Number two, the obvious question is, why would the Russian government via Kilimnik, via Oleg Deripaska who`s very close to the Kremlin circles, why would they want -- why would this data be of value to them? Remember, Manafort said in another place, I want to get whole with Deripaska, a guy he owes a lot of money to. This is something he is providing to him to get whole. It`s only valuable if it has something to do with the American election itself.

MELBER: So let me draw you out on -- I think you`re raising two implications there. Number one that this is not crap. This is not spam e- mail, that this is believed to be something valuable, which would rule out I think to some degree simply public polling or forwarding a "USA Today" article.

Number two, you`re saying it is valuable explicitly to Manafort`s Russian intermediary there. Why?

MCFAUL: Again, I`m hypothesizing, right. I want to keep emphasizing that. As a social scientist, I want to know where I`m hypothesizing and know where the data is.

But Manafort had a big problem with Oleg Deripaska. He owed him a lot of money. Suddenly he had this incredible opportunity that came out of the sky. By the way, for reasons that are still confusing to me, to be the leader of the campaign that won the presidential election.

So for a very short period of time, he had information, data that he, I would think, would want to oversell as being valuable to some of the people that he owed money to back in Russia. That`s my explanation. So far, I reserve my -- the right to be -- new evidence might undermine that, but that seems pretty logical to me.

And just be clear. Paul Manafort is a guy that`s been working in this part of the world with these people for a long, long time. He`s not just some naive guy showing up at the Veselnitskaya meeting or dealing with this Konstantin Kilimnik in some innocent way.

He`s been dealing for years and years with people like Deripaska, with people that are close to President Putin. His main client in Ukraine, remember, Mr. Yanukovych was also Putin`s main client in Ukraine.

MELBER: Right. Which, as you say, is a client state of Russia at the time and to that government. Malcolm, let`s go through the counterargument because I want to be clear, and both of you have emphasized what is unknown.

What if the counterargument would be that the Trump campaign was not at the time considered inside the U.S. or abroad to be all that good at what it was doing and that the Russians didn`t need micro-targeting advice on how to hit Wisconsin from the campaign. This was a cheap campaign that had debts, a campaign that didn`t hire a lot of pollsters to begin with.

For all those reasons, what about that counterargument which is a kind of defense by incompetence argument?

NANCE: Well, that`s an interesting argument and we`re seeing some of that play out. However, you have to understand, and I`m sure Mike will back me up on this, Russian intelligence are brute force agencies, OK. They don`t play with the subtleties, especially the GRU, the FSB, and their (INAUDIBLE) service, D/SVR, they deal with a lot more nuance.

But what they`re talking about is an organization that already knows that there are multiple hot pokers that are leading the Trump campaign to the Kremlin or the Kremlin is leading the Trump campaign. And so Paul Manafort, as a central figure in there, someone who has worked in Ukraine, who worked with pro-Moscow governments, is offering not just to sell polling data, which their information warfare operation is already manipulating. He is one step from selling a president who has already indicated that he`s for sale.

So Manafort becomes a key node in that analytical process. And again, in the intelligence community, we assume you`re dirty. We just have to find the links to your dirt. And this campaign, it`s out in the open.

MELBER: Yes, it`s -- the dirt is not under the fingernails, which we can say credibly given how many people have already confessed guilt to federal felonies. The rest of it we`re going to keep an eye on.

I have to tell you, starting a night like this out with a lot of news with two former U.S. officials and the expertise you guys bring is really valuable. Malcolm Nance and Ambassador McFaul, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

I want to tell you at home, what we`re doing is a little different tonight. Later on, I have an exclusive special report on the elite team of federal prosecutors that may now scare Donald Trump even more than Bob Mueller. They operate in his hometown in New York, and they`re doing a lot of work that`s adjacent to the Mueller probe.

And we have essentially, I`m going to tell you, the perfect guest for this. The man who used to run the Southern District of New York prosecutorial offices.

Also tonight, news on the Democrats now accusing Donald Trump of literally throwing a tantrum when he didn`t get his way in the talks to end the shutdown without a wall.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: It`s cold out here and the temperature wasn`t much warmer in the situation room.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We saw a temper tantrum because he couldn`t get his way and he just walked out of the meeting.


MELBER: I`m going to get into it with Michael Eric Dyson live, one on one next. . I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Tonight, Democrats hammering Donald Trump saying he literally stormed out of his much-hyped meeting with top Democrats on this 19th day of the shutdown. They say when faced with opposition, he basically freaked out and stormed out and when they rebutted his demand for wall funding he said, "Bye-bye."

So tonight, the news is that Nancy Pelosi is telling the country Donald Trump is the worst kind of adult. One who acts like a child. Her critique echoes something Shawn Carter said a long time ago about a friend who was so immature, she would show out in public, throw tantrums on the floor, got to toss a couple dollars just to shut up her holler.

Well, today, the Democrats say Trump is literally throwing a tantrum and they won`t toss any dollars for wall funding no matter how much he hollers.


SCHUMER: We saw a temper tantrum because he couldn`t get his way and he just walked out of the meeting.

PELOSI: It was a petulant president of the United States. A person who would say I`ll keep the government shut down for a month or years unless I get my way.


MELBER: Let`s turn to Professor Michael Eric Dyson. Professor Dyson, what do you think of this issue with the temper tantrum and the dollars?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, first of all, your citation of Jay-Z is spot on. To quote Jay-Z quoting Biggie, paraphrasing when the Remi`s in the system, ain`t no telling, will he love him or diss him. And clearly, he dissed him because he couldn`t get what he was wanting.

I mean this is ridiculous. We thought that the president would make a transition into gravitas. Here he is sitting in the oval office feigning dignity but he had agitas. He had heartburn, moral heartburn.

And here is a man, we already know, has governed like a toddler. This is a toddler presidency. And when toddlers can`t get their way, when they demand something and can`t have it returned to them immediately, they throw a temper tantrum.

And this man, unfortunately, sitting in the most powerful office in the United States of America and indeed the world has exhibited behavior that is insulting to be compared to toddlers. So I think that the Democrats are right to hold the line.

This man is not serious about borders and immigration because if he were, he would talk about DACA. He would talk about trading one for the other. He would speak about what we can do to beef up not only security but the right kind of security against those who hurt and harm us.

When we look at those who have been hurt and harmed for the most part in America, they are not by people coming over borders who are immigrants. They are American-born people. Whether they are domestic terrorists or whether they are people who have committed harm against another citizen. So Donald Trump is far off the path here and I think the Democrats are right to hold the line.

MELBER: Right. And the anger management issue is a remarkable aspect of this. I also -- as a teacher, which you are, I want to play for you some of what Donald Trump said in this much-hyped address. Because you can actually compare it and we`ve done this to some of his past speeches.

DYSON: Right.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country.

We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country.

Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system. They steal children. In many cases women, unfortunately. They steal women.

This is a choice between right and wrong. Justice and injustice.

I`m thinking about what`s right and what`s wrong. And we need a physical barrier.


MELBER: I have to ask you, as a professor who teaches students, if one of them turned in a final paper with this much material cribbed from their prior assignments, at what point is that a kind of self-plagiarism, professor?

DYSON: Self-plagiarism, F-minus grade. Look, if you were a great oratorical wizard and you were looking at set pieces that you would use and integrate in every speech that you would use at the climax, then we could accept that.

This is not the case. This is a case of poor speechwriting, poor thought, poor conceptual analysis. And if he turned this paper into me at Georgetown University, I would send him directly to the dean`s office to be considered a person who needs not only remedial care but potentially to be kicked out.

MELBER: But would the dean -- but professor, would the dean have his birth certificate?

DYSON: Very good point, sir, because we don`t know what planet this might be coming from but what we do know is that Donald Trump needs a course in remedial rhetoric and also the ability to empathize with human beings.

And finally, just to have some gutbucket analysis of the situation before you. Don`t bring out the old tried and true stuff that has not worked in the first place to put it before the American people for an eight-minute speech. It doesn`t work.

MELBER: Well, I have to tell you, the birth certificate question, that`s just something we ask about all presidents. That`s just something we do. Every president.

DYSON: That`s right. Every president.

MELBER: It`s always an issue for every single --

DYSON: Every president we`ve ever had.

MELBER: -- president.

DYSON: We`ve asked them about their -- and their grades.

MELBER: And their grades. Professor Dyson, you gave out some grades. THE BEAT will give you a grade. We give you an A. We appreciate you coming on.

DYSON: Thank you, my friend.

MELBER: I`m going to fit in a 30-second break and then turn to our special report tonight, how New York prosecutors are doing some vital cases adjacent to the Mueller probe from that new Russian lawyer indictment to the Michael Cohen case when we`re back in 30.


MELBER: This week`s indictment of The Russian lawyer who met with Paul Manafort and Trump`s family members is a huge development. Since she was the most high-ranking Russian at a meeting that Bob Mueller is investigating in his collusion probe.

But Mueller`s office didn`t just indict her just like his office didn`t actually indict Michael Cohen. The office that charged the Russian lawyer was the top federal prosecutor`s office in Manhattan. The Southern District of New York. This is the office with jurisdiction over the Trump organization and activities involving Trump and his family which includes anything he did before he became president.

So tonight, we turn to a special report, why this office is proving so significant and why it`s making such pivotal moves on matters adjacent to the Mueller probe. The first thing you need to know is that this story is way bigger than Trump.

Very few federal prosecutors` offices have national reputations. Can you think of a current or past U.S. attorney from Texas or California? I can`t off the top of my head.

But you know several prosecutors who led this Southern District. Preet Bharara who indicted hackers and murderers and some famous Democratic politicians in New York before Trump fired him. Or Rudy Giuliani who busted bankers and mobsters and racked up a record 4,000 convictions back when Giuliani was popular across the political spectrum because of that record.

Or James Comey who led the office with a fierce independence and only left for promotion to the Bush DOJ, handing the reins to David Kelley who prosecuted major terror cases and financial fraud. These prosecutors have long stressed that this office is special. It takes on big targets and it`s aggressive.


PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT: We are aggressive. We`re appropriately aggressive. That`s the history of the office.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I don`t care who you are. nobody is too big or too small to break the law.

DAVID KELLEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY AND DEPUTY ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: We are committed to identifying, targeting, disrupting, prosecuting and eradicating all of these merchants of poison.


MELBER: Now, that`s the people who run this office. Nowadays, you can`t understand all the angles in the Mueller probe without understanding this office. But if you aren`t interested in this topic you might think, I mean who cares about the history and posture of this, particularly aggressive office?

Well, two groups of people for sure, lawyers and criminals. For lawyers, well, it`s their field and for criminals, they learn quickly which prosecutors and investigators are most aggressive in pursuing them. So it stood out when right after Trump`s election in November 2016, when he had thousands of open posts to fill in the administration, he chose to personally invite one U.S. attorney to Trump Tower.

There are 93 of them but only one was summoned to Trump Tower in front of the cameras. The U.S. attorney from the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.


BHARARA: The president-elect asked presumably because he`s a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done over the past seven years. Asked to meet with me to discuss whether or not I`d be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work as we have done it independently without fear of favor for the last seven years. I agreed to stay on.


MELBER: He agreed to stay on, which did not last. And the meeting itself was already unusual. There`s no record of other presidents personally meeting with local prosecutors during their transition. If Trump wanted political loyalty from the prosecutor running the Southern District, he was unlikely to get it from Bharara.

We talked about this when I interviewed him. He took on Wall Street and powerful Democrats in his own party while he was in that post.


BHARARA: We are aggressive. We`re appropriately aggressive. That`s the history of the office and I think the public is better for it. People say, are you concerned about going after powerful people, politicians or hedge fund managers? And I find that a little bit silly because a lot of what we do, the bread and butter of what we do is go after really, really violent criminals. A guy in a suit with a lot of money doesn`t pose much of a threat to our psyche.


MELBER: Now, you look back on all of this right now, it`s that office that this week indicts a Russian from the Trump Tower meeting and sends Donald Trump`s lawyer to prison. When you look back at it, one can see why Trump`s self-interest could be impacted by this office.

But who would know that back then? Why was this high on Trump`s to-do list? Bharara later said Trump was trying to inappropriately cultivate him and that Bharara was fired when that failed, an echo of Trump`s treatment of another former SDNY prosecutor James Comey.


COMEY: It appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship. So he called me in December insensibly just to shoot the breeze and ask me how I was doing.

He called me again two days before the inauguration. Again, seemingly to check in and shoots the breeze. And then he called me a third time when he became -- after he became president.

So the call came in. I got a message. We deliberated over it, thought it was inappropriate to return the call and 22 hours later, I was asked to resign along with 45 other people.


MELBER: Now, those 45 other people, those firings could help Trump. His defenders say he was cleaning house like other presidents. And this was not about the Southern District of New York, except Trump was fixating on the Southern District. In another weird move, he began personally interviewing the candidates for that office.


CHRIS HAYES, HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: In a radical departure from precedent, the president of the United States is personally interviewing two people for U.S. attorney jobs here in New York.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It`s a weird thing for a president to meet with potential nominees to be federal prosecutors, to be U.S. attorneys.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS: While the president has the power to nominate U.S. attorneys, they typically do not interfere or interview prospective candidates.


MELBER: But Trump appointed one of those candidates that he interviewed, Geoff Berman, to head the office. Now, if Trump`s goal was to finally get control of that aggressive office, he seemed to fail because it`s been very busy and that new U.S. Attorney Berman did something we know Trump hates and recused himself from some matters, including the Cohen investigation and he said he will continue this office`s traditions.


GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Politics does not enter into our decision-making on charging a case. We bring a case when a case is ready to be brought.


MELBER: Now, while Mueller`s investigators asked a lot of witnesses about Michael Cohen, it was that office, the Southern District that searched Cohen`s home and office and indicted him. In the media, some even suggested this meant the very independent Southern District was now acting without Mueller.


CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION, FBI: This is not the special counsel`s investigation apparently. He`s punted it over to the Southern District of New York.

WILLIE GEIST, CO-ANCHOR, MORNING JOE: Why, if Bob Mueller found something that was a red flag, why was it handed off to the Southern District of New York?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What Mueller is doing is saying, look, this is not my area. This is outside of what I`m supposed to be doing but you guys should take a look at this.


MELBER: Not exactly, though. Because what we`ve learned is the Southern District was leading the charge while Mueller was still involved.


NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I think where the press has gotten this all wrong is that because the search warrant was obtained in the Southern District of New York by the U.S. attorney`s office in the Southern District of New York, that somehow Mueller has passed this whole matter off.


MELBER: But he didn`t appear to pass it all off. The Southern District pressured Cohen and Mueller continued to get testimony from him. And they weren`t just investigating those payments to women. The New York prosecutors probed Cohen`s finances, and his campaign spending, and the Trump organization, and how it coordinated with the "National Enquirer" Company getting cooperation also from Trump`s top money man as part of that Cohen inquiry.

Now, we don`t know if that person is still working with that office today. But then you have this new indictment of Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya which relates to a wider money laundering case. So right there, that is five avenues of investigation that tee off the Mueller probe and may serve his ultimate conclusions.

Now at times, this office may be Mueller`s queen in a chess game that spans from Washington to Moscow. There`s even talk among some legal experts that while Mueller has extracted what he needed to say from Michael Cohen, it was the New York prosecutors that squeezed him, took the big risk of raiding a president`s lawyer`s office and got results.

Cohen`s own legal adviser recently told me it was the Southern District that prevented Cohen from even getting a chance to come to plead his case in advance and he questioned their judgment.


LANNY DAVIS, COHEN ATTORNEY: They didn`t tell the media, "We did not allow Michael Cohen to come in and talk with us." I call it a lack of proportionality and poor judgment.


MELBER: Proponents of the office say they are proportionately aggressive meaning Cohen got it rough just like past bankers, mobsters, politicians, or Martha Stewart who`ve all objected to this offices approach. It is known to apply the same principles to all. Just ask Rudy Giuliani or at least the old Giuliani back when he prosecuted crime.


RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: You really try very hard to apply the same principle to everyone. And I found being a prosecutor part of them being a candidate because the judgments you have to make as a candidate are pretty clear you go out and argue your case and you do the best you can. And as a prosecutor, you really have people`s lives in your hands, and you really want to try to be fair.


MELBER: Fair and aggressive, an approach that has scared many powerful people and apparently got Donald Trump`s attention. Now, tonight this office is operating at the nexus of major issues in Trump-landia. Let`s take them together. Pursuing a fugitive Russian who attended the Trump Tower meeting, gathering evidence on a now confessed campaign spending crime from 2016, overseeing the imprisonment of Donald Trump`s top lawyer, gathering testimony from Trump`s top money man, and those are just the leads that we know about.

This office isn`t really like other offices. And to understand how it works, it does help to have someone who`s run it. A big legal name like James Comey or a Preet Bharara or a David Kelly who replaced James Comey as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2003 to 2005. Kelly now represents Comey in private practice. He`s also former chief of the Organized Crime and Terrorism Unit in that department, and I should mention, we used to practice law together. Thank you for being here.

DAVID KELLY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Why does this office scare people? Does it look to you like it`s continuing an aggressive tradition? And will we hear more from it on any of those cases I mentioned?

KELLY: Look, historically as everything you`ve seen in the last few minutes tells you it`s historically it`s been an autonomous office, a very aggressive office, a very you know pure prosecutorial. I mean, I think it`s what everybody in the prosecutorial world kind of aspires to. Because it`s not driven by politics or driven by facts and that`s -- you overuse a cliche, it`s driven by you know, no fear, no favor. And that`s what has always been done.

And you mentioned you know, Jeff Berman who was interviewed by Trump. It was a little bit unusual but he`s done a very good job where he`s at and the proof is in the pudding. He`s recused himself but he did a very good job of encircling himself with him really good effective prosecution.

MELBER: Do you think that`s a hard call to raid the President`s lawyer`s office?

KELLY: You know, I don`t think it`s a hard call. I think it`s a call that needs to be made with great thoughtfulness which is what they did.

MELBER: Do you think it takes some guts?

KELLY: It takes guts. But you know, again, when you`re in that office, that`s just -- that`s just what you do.

MELBER: That`s how they roll.

KELLY: That`s what you do.

MELBER: So when you look at that office unsealing the indictment of this Russian lawyer who was at the Trump Tower meeting this week, so she`s now in the U.S. law`s eyes a fugitive. Why do they unseal that? How does that work? Can they ever catch her? KELLY: Sure. So you seal an indictment because you don`t want somebody to know about it. It could be for a whole host of reasons. Sometimes if the person could be cooperating. So over here they unsealed. Why? She may already know about it. Two, it may help shake some -- shake the trees a little bit for more witnesses, more information that may be helpful. Three, it may -- it may help track her down. Four, it may be in connection with some sort of mutual legal assistance treaty to get it from another country. If she`s in Russia, I doubt that`s the case. But there could be a whole host of reasons for it.

And you know, I think probably at the end of the day, she probably already know -- already knows about it so why bother sealing it.

MELBER: Do you think they are apparently working closely with Mueller to make sure they coordinate outcomes?

KELLY: I don`t know that they`re -- look, I think they`re certainly not working at odds would be my sense. How much they are actually coordinating? I think they might think that it`s better on some levels to not coordinate and other levels to just kind of coordinated in the sense that let`s stay in each other`s swim lanes -- you know, stay out of each other`s swim lanes and stay in our own.

MELBER: I showed some of the criticism that they were very hard on Mr. Cohen. He currently has the largest sentence of anyone who`s been caught up in this. What do you think of that criticism of the office?

KELLY: I don`t think it`s a fair critique. The criticism is you know, look, they treat everybody the same. And if you want to come in and cooperate, you better give up everything you ever did. If you stole the candy bar when you`re a kid, you better tell them about that. And if you don`t want to tell them about it, that`s not going to work out so well for the cooperation. That`s an ironclad rule there. And if you bend it for Cohen, you have to bend it for other people. And they`re not going to do that.

Other districts do things a little bit differently, and Bob Mueller`s office as has taken approach that a lot of districts do and they don`t take that hard-line approach but the Southern District wouldn`t yield, and I and I give him a lot of credit for that.

MELBER: Let me ask you about a criticism that`s been lodged against the current district but also when you were in charge there which is --

KELLY: Criticism when I was there?

MELBER: Criticism when you were there, sir, that they have a New York taste for going after high-profile defendants. Your response.

KELLY: I don`t buy that. I think what they do is they go after cases where cases are to be made and where they should be made. There is something -- look, I don`t think you go after a case you know, just for the sake of being high-profile. Often the case is if it`s -- if it`s high- profile, it`s good because it sends a message to the public that you`re doing that there`s no one above the law, that the rule of law stands strong and --

MELBER: So you`re saying there can be a justified law enforcement reason to go hard at someone who is famous or powerful in the public eye?

KELLY: Sure. But I haven`t seen a situation where you go after them hard because they are a powerful person or a high-profile person. You go after them hard because the facts demand it.

MELBER: Let me read to you what Donald Trump reportedly said to his acting Attorney General Mr. Whitaker about the Cohen prosecution in the Southern District. "Trump voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the president in a hush money scheme. What does it tell you as a veteran of this office that this New York resident turned president was so fixated on this office from the start? What did what do you think accounts for that, and is that kind of pressure inappropriate?

KELLY: I think -- I think this this guy -- the president is trying to keep his enemies close. I mean, it`s pretty clear it`s his M.O. You know, he`s talked about how he rolls, that`s how he rolls. And I think that`s what he was trying to do. And if you look at his conduct throughout this going back with Jim Comey and others, you know, if you`re not loyal he`s going to get rid of you. And that`s what he`s done here and he`s tried to influence cases where no other president has tried to exert that type of influence and is completely inappropriate.

MELBER: And final question while I have you because I like to get you and you are in the news. The Bill Bar nomination, your view.

KELLY: I knew -- I knew Mr. Barr back when he was in the Justice Department for a tremendous respect for him. I am a little concerned about how he`s going to handle having prejudge some issues concerning the Mueller investigation. It`s going to be interesting how that gets flushed out at his confirmation hearings. He`s certainly a very capable lawyer -- certainly very familiar with and has proven in the past that he abides with Department of Justice traditions and I hope and I would expect that he would continue to maintain the integrity of the department as he had in the past.

MELBER: You say prejudge. You think the memo that he privately submitted was a kind of an audition that he would be harsher on those issues.

KELLY: I don`t know if it was an audition. It certainly was an indication -- I mean, for whatever reason he wrote the memo. But what the memo does is I think it suggests that he has a certain opinion about the case and frankly I don`t know how well inform that opinion is.

MELBER: David Kelly, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, thank you very much for coming on THE BEAT. I appreciate it.

KELLY: Thank you.

MELBER: I want to turn to some of the Mueller issues with another former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. She was head of the Eastern District of Michigan during the Obama administration, now a professor there. Good evening to you.

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Good evening, Ari. One of the things that David and I focused on was the New York district. I want to get your view of how their work overlaps with or backs up what Mueller is doing, professor.

MCQUADE: Yes, it`s interesting to have independent offices working on all of these things. You know, it`s easy to focus criticism on Robert Mueller, but when you see other offices like the Southern District of New York and the district of the District of Columbia where Maria Butina is being prosecuted for example, I think it make it becomes much harder to call this a partisan witch hunt. These are after all Trump`s own appointees who are handling these cases and they`ve stepped up and done it beautifully.

I think it took a lot of courage to charge in the indictment of Michael Cohen and include in there as an unindicted individual Individual One who we all know as President Trump. That was a gutsy move that they wouldn`t do unless it was backed up with evidence and likely was also something they gave a heads up to Rod Rosenstein about as the Deputy Attorney General. And so it is one United Department of Justice but working throughout the country and I think it`s very difficult to remove the case because it is dispersed among many offices.

MELBER: Right. You`re speaking both the length of it. I mean, here we are speaking on a night where Rod Rosenstein is signaling these. He`ll leave when the Mueller probe closes up. That doesn`t say anything about these other open operations if they find other people who could be targets. What do you think about the Trump Organization piece to this?

I mean, we have all this Trump Tower stuff. We have the Southern District obviously going after the Russian lawyer there. If there were other things that Mueller doesn`t think are a conspiracy to defraud the United States or collude, do you think that he might still look at or encourage these other offices to pursue them?

MCQUADE: Yes, I think that is quite possibly President Trump was so interested in the Southern District of New York. He was attorney back in December of 2016 is all of the activities of the Trump Organization located there in New York. And so it would be that office, the Southern District of New York that would investigate those things. But here`s the beauty of the Department of Justice. Because it is all one national organization, if they find information that`s valuable to Robert Mueller, they can share it with him.

In the same way they did with Michael Cohen. They can provide co-operators to Robert Mueller. And so they work together even though the Southern District of New York is handling the labor and or on the substantive case.

MELBER: And while I have you, if Rod Rosenstein is leaving within weeks or two months, does that say to you that Mueller would be reaching some sort of conclusion in that timeframe?

MCQUADE: Yes. You know, it concerns me that Rod Rosenstein might be leaving but I see him as someone who is a loyal soldier to the institution of the Department of Justice. And I can`t imagine that he would leave unless he felt that the Mueller investigation was in good hands even that it was at a point where he thought it couldn`t be derailed or if he knew that a final report was imminent and would beat his moment out the door.

MELBER: Yes. Interesting analysis from you. Barbara McQuade, thank you so much.

MCQUADE: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Up ahead, this Mueller mystery also has a new twist involving the Supreme Court. But first, a top Democrat says they will subpoena Donald Trump Jr. first. The Senator joins me next.


MELBER: Uncovering some legal problems for the President, but then also his son facing new pressure. You have that indictment of the Russian lawyer who met with him and new questions about what else happened in that Trump Tower Meeting. Now, Congressman Jackie Speier saying Donald Trump Jr. will be the first to be subpoenaed by House Democrats.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who will you expect as member of the intelligence committee (INAUDIBLE) expect to be subpoenaed in the Russia investigation in itself that we will likely to see?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: You will understand why I say this, Donald Trump Jr.


MELBER: You`ll understand why I say this. Of course there has been as we`ve been covering these new developments including the reports on secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor and this lawyer who`s now been indicted. The chair of the Intelligence Committee prepping also a subpoena for Trump Jr`s phone records.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The sandwich between those calls back and forth between Don Jr. and Emin Agalarov is a blocked call. And we wanted to know did that come from the President? Was the president involved in the planning or the approval this meeting? So we said let`s subpoena the phone records and find out.


MELBER: Joining me now is Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. You interviewed Donald Trump Jr. in September 2017. And in a letter to the chairman you said quote Donald Trump Jr. provided quote false testimony and you also want him to testify. Where does this go from here? Does the House Democrats support what you`ve been calling for?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Ari, first obviously, with the change in control in the House, there now is a Judiciary Committee run by Democrats with subpoena power that will be able to follow up on some of the very concerning evidence that a number of the folks who were interviewed over here by the Senate Judiciary Committee may have been untruthful.

There`s also I think been another positive development today and that Senator Graham, and Senator Tillis, and Senator Booker and I have reintroduced our bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And Senator Graham is now the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He was a co-sponsor of this bill in the last Congress. He voted for it. And so I`m optimistic that we`ll get it out of committee here in the Senate fairly quickly and that the House Judiciary Committee now chaired by a Democrat will also take this up quickly and move it.

Chairman Jerry Nadler has said it`s one of his top priorities.

MELBER: Who were the -- who were your --

COONS: So I`m comfortable that we`ll be able to protect Robert Mueller through that bill.

MELBER: Who are your Republican colleagues that you think you can get on that and any new ones that would help? Would Mitt Romney support there?

COONS: I don`t know that yet. He is going to be joining the Judiciary Committee. We are meeting this week to talk about it. Obviously, my friend and former colleague Senator Jeff Flake was not just a supporter of the bill, he voted for it in committee. But he came to the floor several times in the last weeks, of last Congress and he blocked 23 Republican judicial nominees in order to try and force a vote.

I will need to find new supporters and co-sponsors for this to get through the Senate but frankly, at the end of the day, the real problem has been Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has steadfastly refused to bring it to a vote.

MELBER: How does all this relate to of course the bigger question and a protection bill which is what Bill Barr who you`ll be questioning what kind of Attorney General he would be. I just had a U.S. attorney on David Kelly, I`m sure you`re familiar with his work, who said basically he has a lot of respect for Mr. Barr as a lawyer and his service in the DOJ, but has concerns of course about whether he`s prejudged this entire probe.

COONS: I do have concerns about some of his statements, his unsolicited memo that he sent in suggesting that Mueller shouldn`t be able to investigate obstruction of justice by President Trump. His role in the pardoning of a number of senior Reagan administration officials after the Iran-Contra investigation will remind you a number of folks like Ollie North, Casper Weinberger former Secretary of Defense were found responsible for either lying to Congress or for other misdeeds.

He was centrally involved in those pardons and he`s made a number of statements both publicly and in that memo that really concerned me in terms of his view of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller. It`ll be critical to me to hear whether Bill Barr next week in his confirmation hearings for attorney general will make a commitment that he will protect the independence of the Mueller investigation and would refuse to fire him or would resign if ordered to fire him without good cause.

MELBER: If he doesn`t make that kind of commitment under oath in the hearing, would that change your vote?

COONS: It would be very difficult for me to support an attorney general who wouldn`t make a strong and clear commitment to the independence of the Mueller investigation.

MELBER: And briefly in a sentence or two, when will the government reopen?

COONS: We have no idea. That`s really up to President Trump at this point. As you know, near the end of last year, every senator Republican and Democrat unanimously voted for a package that would have kept the government open. It was President Trump who said he`d be proud to shut it. Just today there was another attempt at negotiation at the White House where he apparently stormed out so there are pathways out of this, but the president needs to hear yes.

Friday we`re going to have 800,000 federal employees and their families miss a paycheck and I think that`s going to really increase the pressure on Senators and House members to do it needs to be done here. So I expect you`ll start seeing folks break ranks.

MELBER: Yes. And we`re headed towards what could be the longest shutdown in American history under Donald Trump as you say.

COONS: Yes. Unbelievable.

MELBER: Senator Coons, very busy day, thanks for making time on THE BEAT.

COONS: Sure. Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: I appreciate it, sir. Up ahead, to fight over the mystery subpoena in the Mueller probe. The news actually involves the Supreme Court next.


MELBER: There has been so much legal news at Mueller news tonight. I`m finally getting to this. The supreme court has weighed in on that case we`ve been discussing about potentially issues in the Mueller probe. The court now ruling against a foreign corporation that was that was fighting this mystery sealed grand jury subpoena. So the ruling means this mystery corporation is now under huge legal pressure to comply. It could face $50,000 fines on the daily.

Now reporters have been chasing the clues about this secret case and how it ties into the Mueller probe. In fact, there was a hearing where officials closed off not just the courtroom but the whole floor to keep this a secret. We will keep you posted on where it heads next.


MELBER: That`s our show. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.