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Mueller says Manafort lied. TRANSCRIPT: 1/15/2019, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: Adam Schiff, Marc Morial, Jason Johnson, John Flannery

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: January 15, 2019 Guest: Adam Schiff, Marc Morial, Jason Johnson, John Flannery

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: What we got for tonight. We don`t have enough time. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. And Ari, a couple of heavy hitters are going to be very interested in this Bill Barr interpretation of the Mueller report. Mr. Melber, take it away.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I can`t wait to hear from him as well. Thank you, Chuck.

We are reporting, as mentioned, live from Washington. A lot of breaking news. We do consider this a special show. As mentioned, live interviews with two of the most powerful Democrats now investigating Donald Trump, the new chairman of the House, Intel and Judiciary committees, Adam Schiff and Jerold Nadler.

Now, there is a lot of action breaking right now in the Mueller probe as well, including new hints of what Michael Cohen may testify about publicly to Congress, new signs that a key witness has more secrets to share. And there`s also, moments ago what I can show you what we`ve been going through here and what I`m going to ask these chairmen about, Bob Mueller releasing new voluminous documents that lay out point by point what Paul Manafort allegedly lied about even after he claimed to be cooperating with the special counsel.

Now, some paragraphs are redacted. We`ve seen that before. But this includes details of Manafort`s alleged lies about his contacts with, guess who, a suspected Russian intelligence agent as well as his attempts to reach the Trump administration recently.

We learned today that guilty Trump aide Rick Gates who, of course, also flipped, had his sentencing delayed. That`s because Mueller says there is more cooperation to be done and it`s not time to determine how long he should serve in jail, if any time in jail.

Also, new reporting about what Michael Cohen plans to say to Congress when he testifies publicly. Look at this leak. This is interesting. A person close to Cohen declaring he`s going to tell the story of what it`s like to work for a madman and why he did it for so long. He`s going to say things that will give you chills.

All that, and then, of course, the story we`ve been covering across MSNBC and across all the networks I`ve noticed, today, Senators in both parties grilling Bob Mueller`s potential new boss. And that`s why it is so key that Barr was actually quite vague at times on some important questions, including whether he would fire Bob Mueller if Trump told him to.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT, MEMBER SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Are there any circumstances that would cause you to terminate the investigation or any component of it or significantly restrict its funding?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Under the regulations, Bob Mueller could only be terminated for a good cause. And I, frankly, it`s unimaginable to me that Bob would ever do anything that gives rise to a good cause.


MELBER: Unimaginable. Lawyers aren`t known to be all that imaginative though, and that was not a yes or a no. Barr also took a similar tack on another crucial issue we`ve been tracking.

This is a question that was, we know from covering this today, suggested to be very top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee by one of my next guest, Chairman and Congressman Jerrold Nadler. He runs now, as I mentioned, the House Judiciary Committee.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I have two questions from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Will you commit to making any report Mueller produces at the conclusion of his investigation available to Congress and to the public?

BARR: As I said in my statement, I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations that are part of the special counsel regulations.


MELBER: With me now is, as mentioned, that Congressman, Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Thanks for being here on this day.


MELBER: You put those questions in. They were big at the top of the hearing. What did you think of the answers?

NADLER: I thought the answer was not terribly revealing. I mean the -- he said he would make them public to the extent possible under the regulations. The regulations really don`t say much about it.

So I hope -- I think it`s important that he do the right thing. He comes in under a tremendous cloud. Barr will come in under a tremendous cloud because of that memo he wrote applying for the job, which he expresses great doubt as to the legitimacy of a large part of the Mueller investigation.

And we certainly hope that he will do what hasn`t been done previously, stand up to protect Mueller, stand up to protect the investigation, stand up to the president when he tries to intimidate witnesses when he tries to intimidate the investigation.

We hope he will do this but I don`t see any reason, really, to expect than to hope he`ll make the report public because the American people need to see that report to know what`s going on and to see whether -- to know what`s going on and to see to what extent the president has been compromised or not compromised and all the questions that we have. And it`s important the committee needs to see that report to continue our work.

MELBER: Mr. Chairman, he could have said if Bob Mueller views the investigation as one that should result in a public report, I will make it public. He didn`t say that. Do you view this as him laying the groundwork to keep things secret or just trying to keep his options open?

NADLER: I don`t really know. I certainly hope he`s just keeping his options open. He could very well be laying the groundwork for keeping it secret. That`s what his memo would have suggested.

But if he wants to go down in history, it depends what he wants his legacy to be. If he wants to go down in history as someone who helped protect the rule of law in this country, he will want to make sure that that report is public. If he wants to go down as someone who helped the degradation of the democratic process in this country, he`ll keep the report as private as he can.

MELBER: He was also pressed about these other investigations that touch on Trump world, including in New York where you are, the federal prosecutors in the Southern District. Let`s look at that exchange, Chairman.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Will you impose any restrictions on other prosecutors who are also investigating the president? As you`re well aware, in the Southern District of New York, the president has been named, in effect, as an unindicted co-conspirator.

BARR: I have the responsibility to use my judgment and discretion that are inherent in the office of attorney general to supervise. And I`m not going to go around saying, well, this U.S. attorney or that U.S. attorney, I`m going to defer to.


MELBER: Was that a pretty candid admission that he`s ready to overrule those prosecutors?

NADLER: It`s certainly a candid admission that he`s reserving the option to do that. And there`s no reason for the attorney general to overrule the prosecutors normally. It would be very unusual, in fact, very unusual.

The prosecutor makes his decisions. The prosecutors generally have a wide degree of independence from the attorney general. There is no reason for the attorney general to intervene, especially in a politically sensitive case like this.

So that`s a very disheartening answer. Because even more so with a local prosecutor, the attorney general is normally less likely to intervene with the local prosecutor than with the special counsel.

MELBER: That`s interesting, taking your answer and your concern about it. There was also the discussion of his dealings with Donald Trump. This is an unusual president.

That`s the nicest way you can put it, who is literally under investigation for the way that he has tried to exert his power, demand political loyalty from officers who are sworn to do the opposite, to not do politics. And what we`ve seen recently, which has become a sad spectacle sort of public witness tampering on "Fox News".

But when asked about his dealings with Trump, he tells the story here under oath that he basically told him Mueller is great and that was the type of interaction they had. Take a look at that exchange.


BARR: Essentially the president wanted to know -- he said, oh, you know Bob Mueller. How well do you know Bob Mueller? And I told him how well I knew Bob Mueller and how the Barrs and Muellers were good friends and would be good friends when this is all over and so forth.

And he was interested in that, wanted to know, you know, what I thought about Mueller`s integrity and so forth and so on. And I said, Bob is a straight shooter and should be dealt with as such.


MELBER: I`d like to share with you my reaction and get yours. I was sitting on the second floor there in that room watching it. It struck me that that was a very different tone that he says he shared with the president about Mueller than the memo that we know that he shared, which seemed legally to be very skeptical of aspects of the Mueller probe.

NADLER: Well, they`re not necessarily contradictory because -- and I didn`t have the chance to watch the hearing today so I`m seeing this for the first time. But he is saying here that Bob Mueller personally is a decent guy and an honest man. That`s not inconsistent with saying in his memo that the -- that a large part of the investigation is not legitimate legally. It`s a legal view.

And that could lead to him constraining good guy Mueller from doing things that he views is improper legally, even though they are not improper because he takes a very extremist view of the power of the presidency and the role of prosecution -- of holding the president accountable.

MELBER: I appreciate that and I appreciate the perspective you`re giving there, the nuance to that. Stay with me. I just want to add two reporters who have been following a lot of this, including the breaking Manafort news.

That`s Eugene Robinson from "The Washington Post" and Natasha Bertrand who`s covering the Barr hearing today along with a lot of us for "The Atlantic". And, of course, the chairman stays here. So we will hash out what has become an even busier night than we expected.

Turning to the Manafort news that I mentioned Eugene, I just want to put it up for viewers to see because we just got this. The four areas that Bob Mueller`s filing says are lies.

You see it here, some of it redacted. But payment to somebody, he allegedly lied about. His dealing with Konstantin Kilimnik`s role in witness tampering. That is an alleged Russian witness tampering conspiracy. The interactions furthermore with that individual. And then very cryptically, another DOJ investigation.

Tonight, Bob Mueller laying out in 30-plus pages, some of them redacted, those four buckets of lies. What stands out to you?

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, the first thing -- you look at the document and the first thing that stands is out every now is redacted, practically. I mean there is a lot -- there is so much redaction that--

MELBER: I`ll just -- you keep talking and talk about that.

ROBINSON: -- it`s difficult to follow. But, you know, Manafort lied about his contacts with this Russian guy Kilimnik and seems to have lied about contacts with the administration, seems to have lied about -- he lied about this money.

There is a long passage, about three or four different explanations he gave about this $125,000 payment. Who knows the counterparty? We don`t know who the counterparty was. But it`s his income that maybe it`s this, maybe it`s that. And so it`s obviously a voluminous attempt to demonstrate that he`s a liar.

NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. And I think the thing that stuck out to me the most about this were his contacts with the administration and the fact that he lied to the special counsel about them. And according to this document, he apparently was advising indirectly the administration on who to appoint in various positions within the administration.

And that`s -- after he was forced out of the campaign because of all of his Russian contacts and the fact that they were exposed by "The Times." So just the fact that he not only was staying in touch with Trump, with whoever else in the White House, and maybe even had some say as to who was appointed which is apparently what he was telling Rick Gates. He was talking to Rick Gates about this and he, of course, --

MELBER: What are they supposed to tell you about why you would choose to hide that? I mean we can all have a debate about whether Paul Manafort confined to his cell, awaiting sentencing, is the ideal adviser on anything.

But if he is, why don`t you just tell the prosecutors, "Yes, I found in my ideas. I`m still a citizen." And that`s that. Why lie about that?

BERTRAND: That`s the question. I mean we know that he was keeping a foot in the door also to the Trump legal team and that perhaps he was angling for some kind of part. And perhaps he told the Trump legal team that he was not going to be completely forthcoming with Mueller`s team about this and perhaps he was feeding information back to them about what Mueller was asking.

But yes, the big question is why did Manafort lie? Why did Michael Flynn lie? Why were all these people trying to either protect themselves or the president?

ROBINSON: One other thing that happened today which is the conference for Rick Gates` sentencing was extended, basically. That suggests to me that Mueller may have ways to go, right?

Because Gates is cooperating. There`s more cooperation he expects to get out of Gates. We don`t know if it`s regarding Manafort. We don`t know if it`s regarding something else. But it seems to me that Manafort, by asking that this time frame be extended, is saying I got more work to do.

MELBER: Mr. Chairman, does this look to you -- when you see these ongoing attempts and people talk about collusion which is a concept, when we look at the actual felonious activity here, this is Bob Mueller showing that now you have Trump`s campaign chair in an ongoing felony, what he alleges as witness tampering with an individual who`s been tied to a Russian intelligence, do you view this as concerning in the context of collusion or just Paul Manafort`s self-dealing in corruption and we don`t know more than that?

NADLER: I certainly think it`s concerning in the context of collusion or really in the context of a grand conspiracy to defraud the American people of an honest election, many pieces of which may come together. And I mean you look at this whole thing and you`ve got 18 or 19 people intimately involved in the campaign, having over 100 contacts with Russians.

In a normal campaign, nobody is in any contact with a foreign government. I mean we forgot that. But everybody is talking to the Russians. Everybody is lying about it to the Congress, to the FBI, et cetera. No one comes clean until they`re threatened of prosecution. It certainly seems there is a conspiracy of some sort going on that a lot of people of parties of different fascists of this conspiracy.

ROBINSON: It does suggest the consciousness of guilt that everybody lies about it, right? I mean it`s weird enough to have all these contacts with Russians --

NADLER: Guilt and a consciousness that this has to be kept secret. And, of course, you know the president said there was nothing going on, he had nothing to do with Russia. He must have known clearly that there were a lot of contacts with the Russians going on.

MELBER: That`s very striking. Then you get to the fact that your committee is going to have the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, testify. A lot of people said, what changes when you guys are in charge?

Well, you just have taken over, but one thing that changes, I have the reporting here, was you went ahead and threatened "to subpoena Whitaker if he didn`t agree to appear by the end of the month." And lo and behold, you have a date from him. Why is that so important?

NADLER: February 8.

MELBER: February 8. Why is that important? What do you want to get from him under oath?

NADLER: Well, there are a lot of things we want to talk to him about. Number one, his original credentials for the job in terms of the fact that he had said that -- he had launched attacks on the Mueller investigation, this was illegitimate, et cetera. How he handled that.

Secondly, his status in terms of disregarding the recusal experts, the ethics experts in his own -- in the Department of Justice and not recusing himself.

Third of all, has he, in fact, done anything? Has he told Mueller, you can`t do this, you can`t do that? Has he instructed Mueller in any way? Has he tricked the investigation in any way?

Has he had any communications with the White House about this? Has the White House told him something? Has he told the administration, the White House, what`s going on with the Mueller investigation?

These are all questions. We also -- just with respect to that, we also have questions, obviously, about other things. What about the turnabout by his department suddenly refusing to defend the Affordable Care Act in court? What about the conditions of the border with the administration with tearing kids apart from their families?

All of these questions are with his department, and we want to ask him a lot of questions about all these things and other things, about his general supervision of the Justice Department which has to be doing justice and not seen as a legal arm at the White House.

MELBER: I`m running over time because we have so much tonight. But I also want to ask about leaks coming from your Republican colleagues about the investigation of James Comey`s former counsel, Mr. Baker and the idea that he`s under investigation for some sort of media contacts.

Does that sound legitimate to you? Do you think your colleagues are playing it straight? Or are they trying to mock up people who might be witnesses in the Mueller probe?

NADLER: Well, they have not been playing it straight. I mean these are hearings that were done behind closed doors back in several months ago. We asked immediately that the transcripts -- we asked, first of all, that they be in public.

Second of all -- except sudden -- parts which might have to be done in secret. But second of all, we asked the transcripts be made public after the opportunity -- after the FBI has an opportunity to review and to redact secret information, whatever.

That hasn`t happened. They said they`ve been leaking information.

MELBER: Isn`t this -- I know we live in crazy times. I don`t mean to interrupt you, Chairman but isn`t this wild? The Republican members on your committee who are now in the minority are complaining about leaks through what you`re describing as their leaks of material that hasn`t gone through the proper process?

NADLER: Yes. Well, I thought their entire investigation was just set up to undermine the Mueller investigation, to undermine the FBI and Department of Justice. But those leaks must stop or -- let`s put it this way, they must stop.

MELBER: They must stop. Chairman Nadler --

NADLER: That material after proper redaction should be made public.

MELBER: Right. No. I catch the nuance and I also catch the -- you are the chairman with the gavel. You`re not going as far as you might yet but you`re at the beginning of your tenure on a big day here for the Mueller probe and the future of the DOJ. Thank you for being here. My special thanks

NADLER: Thank you.

MELBER: -- to Eugene Robinson and Natasha Bertrand as well.

Coming up, another new power rogue of Washington joins the table, Chairman of the Intel Committee Adam Schiff. I`m going to talk about this breaking news, including Mueller`s new filing on Paul Manafort and tough questions about why did Republicans finally rebuke white nationalism when it came to Steve King but have not ever done the same in the House floor regarding Donald Trump`s Charlottesville address?

Also, what Trump`s attorney general nominee got wrong today on the specific issue of the Comey firing. My breakdown on that later and what local news is saying in Mitch McConnell`s home state in Kentucky about his refusal to even get a deal on the shutdown.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.



FEINSTEIN: Will you commit to making any report Mueller produces at the conclusion of his investigation available to Congress and to the public?

BARR: As I said in my statement, I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations that are part of the special counsel regulations.


MELBER: Donald Trump`s new pick for attorney general there not really committing to make the Mueller report public, which is what so many people have been waiting on. In fact, the House investigations under the Democrats have said they`ve been staying out of the way of many things until that report comes out.

Well, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, joins me now. Thank you for being here on such a big day for these issues. What did you think of that answer?

SEN. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA) INTEL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I found it completely unsatisfactory. That answer and the answer on recusal are the two red flags for me. The problem with his answer, basically, I won`t agree to defer to what Bob Mueller thinks should be public is.

We now have a situation where an incoming attorney general takes the position, you can`t indict the sitting president, you can only impeach a sitting president, and I`m not committing to share with Congress or the American people the information you would need to know to make a judgment about whether the president`s conduct rise to that level.

MELBER: You just -- Congressman, you just put your finger on it and I think this is so important. There is a legitimate debate within our system of government of what do you do if you find bad enough things about a sitting president?

But if this president, in the middle of that investigation, insults someone who can short-circuit whether the public or the Congress learns that information, then it seems to actually be potentially changing our system of government`s check on that situation?

SCHIFF: It certainly highlights the need for Congress to continue its investigation, because the attorney general nominee made clear today he`s not making any promises about what he shares with Congress. We can expect, I guess, top line conclusions from Bob Mueller. We can expect him to follow the letter of the law that if he turns down a prosecutorial decision by Mueller, he`ll notify Congress. But that`s all he`s promising.

MELBER: Which is him literally saying "I`ll follow the rules", that`s what he`s supposed to do. You mentioned recusal. For viewers, again, this is such a big day on the Hill. Let`s look at Bill Barr on recusal questioning.


BARR: I will seek the advice of the career ethics personnel. But under the regulations, I make the decision as the head of the agency as to my own recusal.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Let`s imagine it`s a judgment call, and the judgment by the career ethics officials in the agency are that you recuse yourself. Under what scenario would you not follow their recommendation?

BARR: If I disagreed with it.

HARRIS: And what would the basis of that disagreement be?

BARR: I came to a different judgment.

HARRIS: On what basis?

BARR: The facts.

HARRIS: Such as?

BARR: Such as whatever facts are relevant to the recusal.


MELBER: Good enough?

SCHIFF: No, not at all good enough. And in the absence of his writing this 19-page memo outlining all the flaws in the Mueller investigation and how Mueller, you know, is crazy to think this is a viable case on obstruction of justice, you might have an arguable claim that I could ignore the advice of ethics lawyers.

But here he is saying this wasn`t a job application, I wasn`t really pursuing this. I was just issuing this report to the Justice Department. If that is true, then don`t put yourself forward as a candidate. But if you`re going to, you darn well better listen to the ethics lawyers.

And in my experience, and I`ve sought advice of ethics lawyers on different things, you follow their advice for the very reason that because it pertains to you, you`re not an objective party. You have an interest in the answer to the ethics question. That`s why you go to someone independent and you say, tell me from an independent perspective, should I recuse myself?

And I cannot see a good faith basis to refuse to do so. And given what he is saying, that the reason he was interested in this job when it was brought to him was that he thought a credible resolution of this would be in the national interest. It won`t be credible if he ignores the advice of the ethics lawyers.

So in my view, you either commit to that or you commit to recusal on the front end, or you don`t seek the job. But without that kind of commitment, he certainly wouldn`t have my vote.

MELBER: It sounds like from what you saw today, you are now more concerned that if this person -- Bill Barr is confirmed, you`re more concerned that we may not learn all the facts from the Mueller probe.

SCHIFF: I am. And now I have to say that I didn`t find his answers today very surprising because I think he had telegraphed this was where he was likely to come down. But to me, it validates the concern that the president -- he may not have submitted that application as a job application, but that`s how the president viewed it.

He was picked by the president for the purpose of his hostility of the investigation. Justice Matt Whitaker was picked for his hostility to the investigation. It`s astonishing to me, that notwithstanding Bill Barr`s otherwise broad experience, that he would be even considered for the job after weighing in such a hostile way to the Seminole investigation that the Justice Department is expecting.

MELBER: Because you read the memo -- and this was debated among other senators. You read the memo as prejudging the outcome.

SCHIFF: It certainly prejudges the outcome on obstruction of justice. And now, he has tried to caveat that today. But when you read his memo, he says among other things that even when a president, their own interests are involved, basically the attorney general is his hand, is his arm, and he can do as he wishes and it`s not obstruction of justice. That it would be highly problematic to be in a situation where you can even question the motives of a president.

Well, he struck a different tone today. But the underlying legal philosophy he`s operating under is one of a very powerful unitary authority of a president such that he is there to do the president`s will.

MELBER: And this assessment of a person who could become Mueller`s boss comes against the extraordinary backdrop of "The New York Times" reporting that the FBI looked at Donald Trump as a counterintelligence investigation because they were concerned he might be a Russian asset. Was that new information when you read The Times story and what are Americans to take from it?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You know, I can`t go into what we were initially briefed in terms of the FBI`s interest concern, was it criminal, was it counterintelligence, you know, who were they looking at. I can`t go into the specifics of that. I can tell you from our committee`s point of view. Counterintelligence has been at the heart of our concerns and a concern that a foreign government might have leverage over the president has been at the heart of our concerns and we`re determined to get to the bottom of it.

Something explains the President`s the wildering contact -- conduct of Russia policy when you add to that what the Washington Post has disclosed that he made an effort to not only exclude people from the room when he would meet with Putin but may have attempted to make sure the record of that never saw the light of day.

MELBER: And they try to get out from under sanctions and get out from NATO and new reporting and get out from Syria where Putin wants a broader influence. Is your basic message to the public it`s actually worse than it looks from the public information?

SCHIFF: You know, it`s hard to be worse than it looks honestly. You know, let`s say there was no compromise and this was just the President acting on his own. You could not act in a way that was more furthering of Russian interests and more antagonist to her own interest than to be denigrating NATO, talk about withdrawing from NATO, bashing our Democratic allies, praising autocrats, talking about doing away with sanctions on Russia for invading its neighbor.

I mean, those actions and others, you could not fashion something more destructive of our interests. You know, I used to joke and maybe I shouldn`t joke about this, but the best case that the President is not an asset of the Russians is the Russians would tell him slow down. You are too obvious. They`re going to be on to you.

MELBER: He looks like he`s trying to please them too much.

SCHIFF: Well, you know, I say that in jest but the reality is his policies have been so pro-Russian and so destructive of our alliances that you know, it beggars an explanation and if that explanation is compromised, it needs to be exposed.

MELBER: And we`re running over time here. The Manafort filing does seem bad for the administration and then it says he was trying to have contact with them, and it also has this Russian linked figure allegedly witness tampering. Your bottom line on this filing tonight?

SCHIFF: Well, like a lot of the special counsel filings, the most important and probably most interesting parts are redacted. And what I find most notable is the sections on Konstantin Kilimnik are the most redact. This is someone who the special counsel has acknowledged they believe is affiliated with Russian intelligence. So here you have the campaign chairman of the Trump campaign lying about his contacts with someone believed to be in league with Russian intelligence and those are the most redacted, just my superficial few parts of this pleading.

MELBER: Well, I can tell -- we`ve been doing this tonight but since you`ve brought it up, you`re right. These are highly redacted and you`re saying that means there are things that Mueller has that are so sensitive there, we`re just not going to know yet.

SCHIFF: Yes. And and of all the things that you might lie about when you`re in a cooperation agreement, the fact that what you`re lying about involves right someone believed to be associated Russian intelligence ought to concern us the most.

MELBER: Right. And you`re worrying it very carefully which I appreciate but your answer overlaps with your colleague, the Chair the House Judiciary Committee on this as well regarding what else may be intuited or intimated here without being spelled out that is so concerning. Chairman Schiff, thank you for coming on THE BEAT tonight.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

MELBER: I really appreciate it. Another thing we want to get into is the politics of Republicans condemning Steve King for that white supremacist comment but never dealing with Donald Trump on Charlottesville. Two special guests on that important story when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: The other top story tonight. Many arguing the Republican Party has just failed its own white supremacist standard because the very thing that we`ve been hearing about today is a contradiction. Let`s get right into it. Republicans say they wanted to formally condemned one of their own, Congressman Steve King for racist comments and the House did something unusual. Passing this resolution overwhelmingly that says they reject white nationalism and white supremacy. It is 2018 but yes they also took specific action against King stripping him of his committee assignments. What he said was "white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization, how did that language become offensive."

Racist comments though are not new for this member of Congress. He has been saying things like this for a long time. And while he is notable if you follow politics, people hear him, he is not powerful in any conventional sense. So why is the book getting thrown at him in that building there? Why is he taking heat for things that overlap so much with things that the President has said?

Steve King is Ted for example, "White nationalists and white supremacists shouldn`t necessarily be offensive" but it was Donald Trump who we all remember would not when faced with a clear opportunity denounced an actual gathering of white nationalists and white supremacists at a march where someone was killed in Charlottesville.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides. I think there`s blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don`t have any doubt about it either.

There`s some very bad people in that group but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


MELBER: Very fine people. I want to bring in our guests to get into this tonight because it`s important. Marc Morial, President and CEO at the National Urban League and the`s Jason Johnson. Mr. Morial --


MELBER: Good to see both of you. It`s 2018 and because of the actions of a current member of Congress, the Congress felt the need to stay white supremacy is bad. But that is where we`re at. What does it tell you that the standard appears to be different within the Republican Party depending on how much power you have?

MORIAL: Well, first of all, Congressman King should not be condemned, he should be censured. And if he had any good common sense he`d resigned from the Congress. He has to go. And if Congress had the power which I`m not certain they do to remove him, I would say he should be removed. Congress and I think the Republican leadership has to go farther than what they have gone.

White supremacy and white nationalism and the normalization of it over the last two years has to be condemned vociferously, consistently, and completely. And I`d like to see them go farther and I think they should go farther than that they`re gone.

MELBER: I want to play something we put together and on this show we don`t just broadcast all Trump tweets, we don`t broadcast all offense. We`ve done this to make a deliberate point here for your analysis which is Trump and King. Let`s take a look.


TRUMP: These aren`t people, these are animals.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: They`ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.

TRUMP: I have had horrible rulings. I`ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage.

KING: Word that any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Than white people?

KING: Than Western civilization itself.

TRUMP: They`re bringing drugs, they`re bringing crime, they`re rapists.

KING: You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else`s babies.

TRUMP: They call her Pocahontas.

KING: We can also electrify this wire. We do that with livestock all the time.


KING: If the Republicans issue is condemning racism, don`t you have to condemn it all?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT.COM: You should but they`re not going to because they don`t really care. And Ari, this is this is my concern about what`s just happened. I said last week I don`t think he should be necessarily removed. This is how democracy works. If the people in his community think he represents their beliefs, fine. I don`t think he should be in a position of power. But the problem with condemning him for racism or white supremacy or white national, most of those Republicans can`t even define those terms.

OK, don`t condemn somebody for something else you -- I promise you if you if you roll them out and said what is a white nationalist and why is it a problem. They`re responding to bad branding, they`re not responding to bad policy and that`s why I`m not impressed by this particular action. White nationalism is the idea that this country is a white homeland and anybody who`s not a white Christian shouldn`t have a key role in government, economy, or popular culture. That is the antithesis of America and it leads to terrorism. It`s a national security issue.

So when they`re able to say that and be specific, then I believe that this sort of human cry actually matters.

MORIAL: Well, let me say this. I think we also need to understand that white nationalism is as the gulf put it. It is the hate of others as your defining animating principle. Whereas patriotism is love of your country, love of your people, love of yourselves. And I think this is an important debate in 21st century America because it`s really a debate as to whether the future is going to be returned to the past or whether the future is going to be a leap into the present and the future.

This country is a multicultural democracy. Multicultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, that`s the kind of democracy this is. That`s what it`s evolving to. And I will and we will fight for that kind of nation. We will fight and we will battle against those that want to turn the hands of time backwards. That`s what this is. It`s a fight, it`s a battle. It`s a fight that`s principled, it`s a fight that`s moral. It`s a fight that has a political dimension. But it is in its essence about who we want to be as an American nation in the 21st century. That`s what it is.

JOHNSON: The President of the United States is also a white nationalist. He`s made it clear that he`s a white nationalist. And you can make arguments about him being a racist. I don`t think those things -- being a racist is not a disqualifier being present but being a white nationalist makes you a danger to our national security. The Republican Party will not condemn President Trump because they want to be associated with his power. Because many Republicans and even some Democrats are in favor of his white nationalist policies, they just don`t like how he says his white nationalist policies. And that`s the problem that we have in this country.

It`s not just an issue of demographic change, it`s also an issue of actual violence. When we have police departments that have been infested with white nationalist, when we have military places that have been infested with white nationalist, why are we seeing swastikas painted in parts of Baghdad. That wasn`t from them locally. That`s because you have white nationalists joining our military and engaging that kind of behavior they brought. This is something that we have to tackle and just censuring someone is not enough.

MELBER: I really appreciate you both coming in for this. There was -- there`s so much going on in this town tonight but we did not want to neglect this story and two important voices --

MORIAL: And I`ll be before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow at Barr nomination so --

MELBER: You know, they call that pivot in the news although I suspect you`ll be discussing some overlapping issues including civil rights --

MORIAL: Civil rights, civil rights enforcement, criminal justice.

MELBER: And I know Senator Booker was questioning some of that today so we`ll be watching your testimony.

MORIAL: Thank you.

MELBER: Thanks to both of you for being here, Marc Morial and Jason Johnson. Up next, we go back to the breaking news in the Mueller probe and how Bill Barr actually got some facts wrong on the Comey firing.


MELBER: Big night. We`ve got some big guests. Here`s another one. Former federal prosecutor John Flannery who was just talking to me with great interest about this Manafort filing from Mueller`s office, one of the many things happening right now. What`s most important in your view?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, what`s most important is the transition from apparently being a truth teller and really cooperating to not. And the false statements apparently he made although a lot of this is blacked out before the grand jury is compared to the debriefings and exhibits they have and witnesses they have and so forth.

And it sort of goes into loans -- false loans, monies that were paid, lies about offshore people actually lobbying here that is so coercing them to say things that aren`t true. And then the final part is carrying the water to the administration while he`s cooperating about what the investigation is. And it`s --

MELBER: What`s the theory? What do you think that was?

FLANNERY: Well, I think -- I don`t know if he`s trying to cover both bases or he decided for some reason that he had to -- he had to cooperate with the administration.

MELBER: Do you think he was talking very favor with your friend Rudy?

FLANNERY: It`s hard to give credit to Rudy for anything but yes.

MELBER: It may not be credit. Let me get you also as promise because it`s part of the reason I booked you tonight.

FLANNERY: Yes, sir.

MELBER: One of the most important things that we have not covered yet at all was what Bill Barr said today, a factual error when he was trying to explain how he reversed himself on one of those pivotal moments in this Russia probe which everyone knows about Trump`s firing of James Comey. Here`s what you need to know.

In October 2016, Barr was praising Comey`s public press conference that cleared Hillary Clinton of charges but by May 2017 he said the same action crossed a line when he was trying to support Trump later firing Comey. So today, look at this, Barr tries to defend the reversal by claiming something that everyone knows if you watch T.V. you know was not true.

He says he thought the DOJ had authorized Comey`s press conference when Comey said the opposite.


BILL BARR, NOMINEE, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think Attorney General Lynch had said something -- you know, she was under pressure to recuse herself and I think she said something like she was going to defer to the FBI. So my initial reaction to that whole thing was well, she must have agreed or it must have been the plan that he was going to make the decision and go out and announce his decision.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I have not coordinated this statement or reviewed it in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I`m about to say.

FLANNERY: Well, you would think that he would have known what Comey actually said in July as was just play for us. And in his editorial call, James Comey did the right thing which he dated October 31, 2016. He said, it doesn`t appear that Comey was usurping power as much as receiving a punch from the Justice Department.

MELBER: Why you think he got this wrong?

FLANNERY: Well, I think it`s partisan.

MELBER: You think it`s partisan?

FLANNERY: Oh absolutely. At the time, he`s talking about Comey is so good because he`s opened the investigation of Hillary Clinton and he`s not so friendly after the fact --

MELBER: Which happens all the time in this town. You like what you`d like based on the color of the jersey but it`s not supposed to happen at main justice.

FLANNERY: Yes. This guy -- this guy is so partisan it`s beyond belief. Comparing him to Richardson or any of these other former stars that we had is an insult to their if you will, ethics and their care and their concern and integrity as public officials.

MELBER: John Flannery --

FLANNERY: Good to see you.

MELBER: The beltway is Robert Redford. He asked me to say that every time. No, he`s never asked me to say that.

FLANNERY: You like saying that.

MELBER: I like saying it. Thanks to all of our guests. We`re going to fit in a break and when we come back Mitch McConnell looks scared of Trump but his own constituents also biting back.


MELBER: Mitch McConnell blocking the House bill that could reopen the government. This is the second time he`s done that claiming he can`t do anything because Trump wouldn`t sign it anyway. Meanwhile, back in his home state in Kentucky, his own constituents taking action.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, to us it`s far beyond political now, it`s personal. You know, we`re not getting paid for the work year doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know we`ve only missed one paycheck but you know, a lot people live paycheck to paycheck and it`s a big hardship for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re all federal enforcement officers and we need our paychecks. We want McConnell to take the vote to the floor. Let the vote happen.


MELBER: As many have reported, the shutdown began in a very unusual way. Donald Trump apparently scared by a small number of voices in conservative media. Now, it appears to be continuing because Mitch McConnell doesn`t want to step up to Trump. He does have those Senate votes. Well, we`ll be right back with one more thing on a big day in D.C. tomorrow.


MELBER: Thanks for watching our show tonight. I want to tell you THE BEAT will be back live from Washington tomorrow, day two of these critical hearings on Bill Barr who could be Bob Mueller`s boss. I`ll be joined by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, now the number five Democrat in the House as well as Senator Tim Kaine, of course, the former running mate to Hillary Clinton who is fired up about the shutdown. That does it for us. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthew is next.