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Pelosi tells Trump no State of the Union. TRANSCRIPT: 1/16/19, The Beat w/Ari Melber.

Guests: Michael Steele, David Dorsen, Kim Wehle, Tim Kaine, Laurence Tribe, Paul Butler; Julian Epstein; Daniella Gibbs Leger; Hakeem Jeffries

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Come on.  We`ve got to entertain ourselves sometimes.  That`s all we have for tonight.  We`ll be back more tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.  Good evening, Ari.  HDTV, this is not.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Well, I`m waiting for it.  You can handle a second or third show.  You have two shows.  A third show, we`ll keep our eye out for it.

TODD:  Man, I tell you my daughter loves "The Property Brothers."  So if I could do that, I should be into it.

MELBER:  I`m more into the makeover shows where they change the house and up the value.  The whole thing is exciting.  Inspiring for home improvement.  Thank you, Chuck.

TODD:  Thank you.

MELBER:  We are live from Washington right now and the heat is on.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flexing her muscles.  She`s warning Trump he gets no state of the union during the shutdown.  While new reports show Trump lawyers bracing for Bob Mueller`s next move.

And Senator Tim Kaine is on THE BEAT tonight.  We`re talking shutdown and whether his running mate was proven right in warning that Trump was Putin`s puppet.

Our top story is the escalating clash that hit a boiling point today.  This ties together the Mueller probe, the Trump administration`s blatant public support of Vladimir Putin`s interests, and the question whether Republican senators back there meant it when they committed to overriding Donald Trump on Russian sanctions.

Here is how things got to a boil.  First, the majority of senators including some Republicans moved to override the Trump administration`s effort to ease sanctions on a Putin oligarch.  So that is where you have a majority of the Senate.  Then today, a remarkable moment where a minority of Republicans literally filibustered to block a floor vote on that very measure, which would keep up the sanctions on that Russian billionaire.

This hits the Mueller probe because that billionaire is Oleg Deripaska, an associate of both Putin and Trump`s guilty chief Paul Manafort.  And the Trump administration has been trying to ease the economic pressure on him from those sanctions that Congress overwhelmingly passed.

Now, when the Congress originally overruled Trump on all of that, it was seen as, one, a line where even normally loyal Republicans would confront him.  And, two, and this is important tonight, it was a concrete action showing Vladimir Putin no matter what cooperation he may get from Trump, other parts of the American government would stand up to him.

So tonight`s filibuster is ringing alarm bells all through the national security community, and it comes at the very time Trump`s other Putin interactions are raising suspicions, from seizing notes of their meeting to cultivating each other at world summits like Trump appearing to give Putin a fist pump at this dinner, a time when they also held an unusual side discussion without any U.S. staff.

And then on Trump`s flight home from that very session, today we`re learning, he called a "New York Times" reporter and said he wanted to assert off the record that Putin was actually falsely accused of those election meddling acts in 2016 and relaying Putin`s defense that if the Russians hacked the U.S., they "would have gotten caught because they say they`re professionals."

Trump arguing that was a good point and the account may matter to Mueller because it offers clues to Trump`s state of mind at the very time he took another action central to the obstruction probe dictating his son`s misleading statement about the Trump Tower meeting.

Take this all together and let`s take a breath when we do it.  You don`t have to be a professional investigator to see the linkages here.  This new report tonight is that Trump was coordinating with Putin on Putin`s defense of election hacking which helped Trump and Mueller`s probing that.

And on the same flight, Trump was feeding false statements to defend a Trump Tower meeting with a Putin lawyer offering election material that would help Trump, which Mueller`s also probing.  And since then, the feds have indicted people on both sides of that Trump Tower meeting, the Russian lawyer and Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort.

And as if that all wasn`t enough, this week the Trump administration is exposed for trying to give economic help to the Putin billionaire who worked with Paul Manafort.  And this week, Mueller laid out more details of how Paul Manafort is allegedly coordinating his obstruction with a Russian intelligence linked operative.  And that shows Mueller will charge Americans who coordinate their defense or allegedly obstruct justice with Russian operatives.

OK.  That`s me taking it all together.  So if you were a person who knows you`ve done any of that, it might make you nervous.  And a legislator with more access to intelligence that almost anyone in America was telling us just last night, there is something out there that explains Trump`s conduct in Russia policy.


SEN. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTEL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  A concern that a foreign government might have leverage over the president has been at the heart of our concerns.  Something explains the president`s bewildering contact -- conduct of Russia policy.  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:  Too obvious and the Senate making that obvious vote today.  I want to bring in former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, former Federal Prosecutor Paul Butler, and a Julian Epstein, a former top lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee steeped in all of this.

And I go to you because this is the intersection of Congress, foreign policy, and, of course, any legal obligations that Mueller may have here and may find people breaking the law.  What do you think it means to see the case laid out the way I just did and Congressman Schiff saying there`s something that explains it all?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think the pieces are starting to come together, not in a sense that you`ve proven that Trump conspired to violate elections yet.  But a lot of pieces are coming together that are very informative of that.

But to the notion about Trump calling "New York Times" saying that Russian interference was never shown, you don`t have to be an investigator to know that.  All you have to be able to do is to read.  And specifically, to read Mueller`s indictment of Russian intelligence in July, the GRU and which Mueller details very very carefully not just that we can prove that the Russians were engaged but that the Russians were so sloppy when they did it.

They left traces of the URLs that they used.  They left traces of the servers that they used in Europe and Arizona.  They left traces of the cryptocurrency that they used to facilitate the election hacking and subsequent misinformation spin on Facebook and elsewhere.

So it`s not even disputable at this point that the Russians were engaged.  Every single one of the 17 intelligence agencies had look at this, has affirmed that.  So for him to be playing this game now either shows that we still haven`t proven Russian interference, shows that he`s either a boob or shows that he is playing to the one-third of voters who are susceptible to this kind of misinformation.

And when you`re getting into impeachment territory -- and I`m talking about somebody who`s lived this before, two decades ago.  When you`re getting into impeachment territory, when you`re playing the game, just playing to one-third of the voters when two-thirds of the voters don`t believe you, you`re under thin ice.

MELBER:  Thin ice, Michael Steele, and why not have the floor vote back there?  How in the midst of this do you have a minority of senators say, "We`re going to filibuster even having a straight vote on whether the United States wants to be sanctioning this person or not?"

I mean talk about -- forget Russia first.  We`re now down to just like a Bernie Sanders, one percent Russian.  This just opens the Russian oligarchs at this point.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR:  Yes.  This is an example of circling the wagon on the Hill.  This is trying to give some space, some elbow room to the president right now to sort of shift the narrative a little bit, to sort of refocus the conversation.

But in the process, because as you very appropriately laid out, there`s a lot here.  And so any actions you take that sort of -- that even have the slight appearance of being counter to this narrative or trying to somehow obstruct this narrative is going to be a problem.

MELBER:  I mean you could -- to your point, you could sanction Oleg Deripaska, keep the sanctions --

STEELE:  Absolutely.

MELBER:  And that doesn`t prove you`re not pro-Russia by the way.

STEELE:  Exactly.

MELBER:  I mean this is a thing -- I know there`s a lot going on.  But this is a thing where you look at this news today against those other stories and you say, wow, these senators are like -- they don`t care.

STEELE:  They don`t care.  And that is -- that small group is the one that are still tethered very tightly to the president.  And they, like I said, are circling that wagon around him, using the legislative process to slow down or gum up this information that`s clearly out on the --

MELBER:  So before I get to Paul, again for you as a political guy because you`re saying part of this is potentially collusiony and part of this is just potentially Republican loyalty.  Listen to what --

STEELE:  Well, it`s all collusion.

MELBER:  Go on.

STEELE:  No, it`s all collusion.  I mean because if you`re taking -- my estimation.  If you`re taking these steps, given the information and the facts as we now see them being laid out and you`re going to slow the roll legislatively, then you`re now a part of this narrative just as much as anybody else as far as I`m concerned.

Particularly when you -- these guys have the evidence.  They have more information than you do sitting here and you`ve got a lot.  And so the fact of the matter is, if this is the step you want to take, that you`re going to sort of go up the word as filibuster on this measure to impose the sanctions that are appropriate to impose or whatever, then you`re saying to a lot of Americans out there that you`re now protecting the president to the extent that -- such an extent that is volatile to the law, you don`t care, is volatile of the process, you don`t care.  The most important thing is to give cover to this president.

MELBER:  You`re down with, not OPP.  I almost --

STEELE:  Sorry.


STEELE:  APO, that`s right.

MELBER:  Because you`re down with all of Putin`s oligarchs.

STEELE:  That`s it.

MELBER:  I had to work out the acronym in real time.

STEELE: I`m speaking of the OPP thing.

MELBER:  I`m slow.  It takes me a minute.

Listen as promised though, Rachel was all over the story.  Listen to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer talking to Rachel on this story just last night.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MINORITY LEADER:  There`s just so much and it all seems to be woven into a web related to Putin`s manipulation of our own government into Trump`s acquiescence and bootlicking of whatever Putin seems to want.


MELBER:  So why does a Republican senator get down with that?

STEELE:  Because this goes back to what Republicans did at our national convention when we virtually baked the Russians into our platform, into our national platform.  So we`ve been tethered to this side of this narrative for some time and you do reach a point where you`re in and you don`t see a way out so you just keep going in.

And I think that`s where a lot of these guys are.  The easiest thing, in my estimation, is to step back and go, wait a minute, there is a preponderance of evidence here that is telling us that there is something -- there`s a narrative that we really need to be concerned about.

Not just as U.S. citizens but particularly in our job as U.S. senators.  And they seem --in my estimation, today`s actions seem to aggregate that.

MELBER:  And so this takes us to you as a federal prosecutor what it takes to make people come clean.  Chairman Nadler, who`s got a lot of power in House Judiciary, spoke to exactly that point when we had him at this table last night.  Take a look.


SEN. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY) CHAIRMAN JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  You`ve got 18 or 19 people intimately involved in the campaign having over 100 contacts with Russians.  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 with prosecution.  It certainly seems that there`s a conspiracy of some sort going on.  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:  Paul?

PAUL BUTLER, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN LAW SCHOOL:  Yes.  So conspiracy is a good word.  I like your word, collusiony.  So Trump`s main defense, one of his defenses to collusion was, look, the Treasury Department, my Treasury Department imposed these harsh sanctions on Russia.  That shows how tough we are.

Well, those sanctions were imposed last April.  They now want to lift the sanctions.  He wasn`t tough very long.  And if you want to talk about an arc of sinister kinds of connections, so this same Russian oligarch who has helped today by the lifting of these sanctions, he is Paul Manafort`s former client.

He`s Vladimir Putin`s ally.  And he`s also the guy who reportedly Paul Manafort gave the polling data about the Trump campaign.  So it`s a very sinister web that Mueller is focused like a laser on.

EPSTEIN:  Well, look, I mean, whether it is changing the campaign platform, whether it is destabilizing NATO, whether it is lifting sanctions, whether it is pulling out of Syria, Trump at every turn looks like he is becoming Putin`s errand boy to destabilize the west.

And when you`re starting to get into -- we may not have proven conspiracy in a legal sense on the election interference yet and that`s what we`re waiting on Mueller`s report, but when you`re getting into dangerous territory on impeachment, indictments legally, you want to change the pieces of the puzzle.  You want to change the narrative.

But what Trump does is he keeps adding pieces of the puzzle in a very incriminating way.  And you can`t help thinking as you`re watching this that you`re just watching something out of America`s dumbest criminals.  I mean you would think he would be doing exactly the opposite but he just keeps feeding the narrative.

And the White House staff and particularly the legal office -- legal counsel just must be pulling their hair out because life gets worse for him and more precarious for him every single week.

MELBER:  And so Paul, how does Mueller then use those pieces?  He`s clearly showing that he`s willing to go after these Russians, whether or not some of them will be caught.  The Russian lawyer from Trump Tower meeting indicted out of New York but MIA, now a fugitive.

What else do you see Mueller doing on the Russia side of this, if again, what "The New York Times" has chosen in a very extraordinary way to reveal off the record, they usually keep it off the record?  I`m sure you`ve had off the record conversations with reporters.  You expect them to stay off the record.

STEELE:  I kind of hope they do.

MELBER:  But in this situation, because of other reporting and other leaks, they`re putting this out that basically at the highest levels of the U.S. government.  You have what looks like coordination on Putin defense, Trump Tower defense, false statements.

Now, whether or not the president can be indicted, he`s literally doing things, I can say this and I try to be very careful about this, he is doing things that if any other federal employee did them, they would be charged.

BUTLER:  Yes.  Yes, that`s right.  So what Mueller is looking at is, OK, if he can`t indict the president, who else knew about this?  He`s charged 19 Russians with being conspirators in an attack on our democracy, co- conspirators are Americans who were involved in the Trump campaign.

And so he has ways of getting to those folks.  With Trump, you look at his motives.  So Trump calls this reporter on Air Force One, as you know they`re the same Air Force One conversation where he ginned up that lie about what happened with the Russian -- with the meeting with the Russian lawyer in Trump Tower.

But in the same flight, he`s calling this reporter and saying, "I don`t believe the Russians meddled with the election."  And the reporter asks, "Well, what about what the CIA director said?  What about what the FBI director said?  What about what the director of national security said?"  And Trump playing to believe Vladimir Putin over them.

MELBER:  It`s unbelievable.  That`s where I`m going to leave that.

STEELE:  And these actions on the Hill affirm that last point that Paul made.

MELBER:  Right, which is part of the problem.  What I`m going to do is fit in a break.  Michael Steele comes back.

Paul Butler and Julien Epstein, thanks to both of you.

Coming up, the other big story in the shutdown, Speaker Pelosi playing hardball tells Donald Trump no state of the union until you reopen the government.  And new reporting on how the Trump White House is bracing for Mueller`s next move.

Also tonight, my interview with Senator Tim Kaine.  We`re going to talk shutdown and that early warning from his running mate Hillary Clinton and Trump and Putin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  From everything I see has no respect for this person.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, that`s because he would rather have a puppet as president of the United States to add --

TRUMP:  No puppet.  No puppet.

CLINTON:  It`s pretty clear --

TRUMP:  You`re the puppet.


MELBER:  No puppet.  And, if that`s not all, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe joins me one on one on where the Mueller probe is headed if he`s got a new boss.

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


MELBER:  Tonight, Nancy Pelosi making it plain with a big power play and telling Trump, this is my House.  The new speaker basically put Donald Trump on notice he will have to, she says, reschedule the entire televised state of the union in the House because of the shutdown.  This is, she says, because of security, but everyone gets the larger message.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We`ve never really had a state of the union when the government has been in shutdown since the budget act in the `70s.  This requires hundreds of people working on the logistics and the security of it.

Most of those people are either furloughed or victims of the shutdown, the president`s shutdown.  He can make it from the oval office if he wants.


MELBER:  Nancy Pelosi mixing basically a concern for workers, which many people say is legitimate, her career reflects it, with, yes, a little bit of shade.  He can make it from the oval offense.  Meanwhile, "The Post" reporting Trump has flashes of "frustration" over this, his inability to get Democrats to buckle has caught up with him.

And now his own economists doubling projections of how much damage the Trump shutdown, he promised to take ownership for it, would cause the economy warning we might be headed towards a "contraction."  Day 26 of this shutdown.

This pain though is very real beyond the political gamesmanship and the back and forth.  Think about how federal workers and their families are feeling across the country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We need to pay our bills now.  So we need to get back to work and start getting paid again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I feel a pressure I`ve never felt before in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I will be able to weather this storm but I know a lot of people that won`t be able to weather the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If people could just take the five minutes to reach out and call their congressman, call their senator, let them know to end this shutdown today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Definitely financial hardships.  I was only able to get two paychecks before this happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We have mortgages.  We have rent to pay.  We`ve got children to feed.  So please, Mr. President, open up the president.


MELBER:  This is real.  Another furloughed worker telling MSNBC`s Katy Tur about the effect on her children.


SHERRIE KINARD, EPA SCIENTIST, FURLOUGHED BY SHUTDOWN:  Both boys are on the spectrum and my little guy has multiple disabilities.  We`re not having any expensive therapies for the moment because we simply can`t afford them and keep food on the table.

My youngest son has more seizures with more stress and he`s starting to show signs of more stress.  We can only shelter them so much when we`re struggling day-to-day to figure out how to cover the next upcoming bill.


MELBER:  One story among many.  Let`s bring back Michael Steele.  And we`re joined by Daniella Gibbs Leger from the Center for America Progress and a former Obama administration official.

Good to see you both.  Let me start like this, Daniella, Speaker Pelosi is taking a serious problem, which has been discussed in many ways over these weeks, and turning it into a very clear message to the president.  You don`t get your televised address if you don`t do your homework.

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER:  Exactly.  He has one job and that is to run this country. I know he doesn`t like being president.  He likes the trappings but clearly, he doesn`t like doing the day-to-day work.  All he has to do is open the government and they can have a conversation about his wall.  They can have a conversation about a whole myriad of things but he has to do his job.

People are hurting.  And Nancy Pelosi, like she is compassionate.  As you said, her career shows that she cares about people.  But she is very smart politically and she knows that the onus is on him to rectify the situation.

There was a bill that was passed unanimously bipartisanship in the Senate.  So he just has to say, OK, I will sign this.  It`s up to him when he wants that wrapping.

MELBER:  It seems like unlike say what we were just discussing on a very different topic in the top of the show, here are the facts are mattering because the public is far more against Trump on this than on other Trumpian issues.  And some of what they`ve said -- I mean Kevin Hassett may have one of the worst statements defending the shutdown we`ve heard and that`s saying something out of this crew.  But take a listen to Kevin Hassett defending it for Trump.


KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS:  So then they have the vacation but they don`t have to use their vacation days.  And then they come back and then they get their back pay, then they`re -- in some sense, they`re better off.


MELBER:  In some sense, they`re better off.

STEELE:  So let`s be clear, Kevin.  When people go on vacation, they usually don`t file for unemployment and that`s what`s happening.  You have a significant number of Americans more and more filing for unemployment because they need something to come into their household.

And the typical unemployment check, right, is a percentage of your normal check for the month.  So they`ll take a percentage of like out of the two pay periods, you`ll get one pay period and a percentage of that.  That`s it for the month.  It`s not like you`re getting two checks.

MELBER:  You`re a Republican.  Do you think it`s working the way Pelosi is flexing?

STEELE:  In terms of the pressure that is putting --

MELBER:  In terms of today making it about you don`t get your state of the union?

STEELE:  No.  She -- absolutely.  I mean he`s met his match.  I mean he doesn`t know what to do with this woman.  He has no idea what to do with Nancy Pelosi.  That`s why he`s sitting in the White House frustrated.  Now, she`s not biting on the kernels of crazy he`s putting out there.

MELBER:  Now, I`m being told from my control room, sometimes we have a lot of breaking news.  Right now, we actually have a breaking guest who we didn`t know whether we were going to get or not tonight.  So both of you, hang with me.

But I`m told that Congressman Hakeem Jeffries has walked out of a late scheduled meeting with Speaker Pelosi.  He, of course, is part of leadership in the House Democratic Caucus.  I didn`t know if we were going to get to you depending on your schedule tonight.  Thank you for joining.

I understand you just came out of the meeting with the speaker.  What is the latest?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE DEMOCRAT CAUCUS:  Well, the latest is our perspective remains clear.  We need to reopen the government and thereafter we can have a mature conversation about border security, a mature conversation about our broken immigration system, a mature conversation about comprehensive immigration reform and doing it in a bipartisan way.

But we`re not going to allow the American people and 800,000 public employees to be held hostage by Donald Trump because he`s decided that there are presidential temper tantrum and try to extract $5 plus billion for his medieval border wall.

MELBER:  And Congressman, we just heard on our show from some people who think Pelosi`s got the right attitude here going hard against the president using the state of the union as a new pressure point tonight.  As you know, there are some Democrats in your caucus who said that it would appear to be somewhat a breach of protocol is the way some put it to, "disinvite" him.  Did that come up in the meeting you were just at?  Do you think she`s got the right call there?

JEFFRIES:  I think she has the full support of the caucus, presided over the meeting this morning when she made the announcement that she was going to take this step.  And, Ari, as you understand based on any legitimate reading of the letter, she expressed concern for the security of everyone.  The secret service right now is not being paid.

Perhaps, the largest potentially significant event, the secret service presides over is the State of the Union where you have 435 members of Congress, 100 senators, ambassadors, cabinets, secretaries and, of course, the president of the United States of America and the vice president.  It makes no sense in the midst of a government shutdown to proceed.

MELBER:  Congressman, we`ve heard from the administration trying to say that this isn`t, "that bad", that some workers may be better off.  Of course, the impact is far wide in workers.  I want to read to you from reporting today on thousands of lower-income Americans who do get these federal assistance program payments and nothing that they`ve done has changed.  It`s only the shutdown that`s changed.

The property manager telling tenants, "Until the government opens again, you are responsible for all of your rental amount," meaning that some are effectively facing pressure or potential eviction.

Do you view that as the fault of just Donald Trump or of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell if the Senate won`t even vote on the things that your House is now passing?

JEFFRIES:  Well, Donald Trump certainly shoulders a lot of the blame.  But Mitch McConnell has been missing in action.  He`s in the witness protection program.  We need to figure out when he will emerge so we can actually proceed not as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump administration which is how he`s been conducting himself but as a separate and co-equal branch of government.

We`ve been sending him appropriation bill after appropriation bill that the Senate themselves in a bipartisan way led by Republicans have passed over the last several months.

MELBER:  Congressman, in your analogy then, is he a subsidiary corporation or a witness in protection?  Which is he?

JEFFRIES:  There`s a lot of things that are going on over in the Senate, none of which have been good for the American people.

MELBER:  Final question, sir.  Will Donald Trump in the end, in your view, give a state of the union from the floor of the House?

JEFFRIES:  Well, let`s hope that over the next few days we can reopen the government.  And in that context, we look forward to hearing what he has to say to the American people on the floor of the House of Representatives.

But if he continues down this reckless path, he will not be giving a state of the union on January 29 from the floor of the House of Representatives.

MELBER:  Congressman Hakeem Jeffries coming out of busy meetings, working late.  Well, I know some are working.  So I want to thank you as well as my guests.  Michael Steele and Daniella Gibbs Leger, thanks to each of you.

JEFFRIES:  Thank you, Ari.

MELBER:  What we`re going to do next is tell you about why Bob Mueller just issued if you haven`t heard new subpoenas and the Trump legal team is coaching staffers and we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER:  The other top story tonight.  Donald Trump`s White House bracing for what they believe could be an onslaught of investigations.  Lawyers working to prepare from what they`re calling quote threats of both the Mueller report if ultimately becomes public as well as new House probes.  Axios says there`s a "surge of internal action that`s inside Trump`s White House counsel`s office."  Lawyer "coaching staffers on what to expect and how to prepare for Mueller."

All of this of course comes as Mueller is honing in on some specific individuals including Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi.  We know that because of reports of subpoenas for three new witnesses that include his stepson as well as bringing receipts to Paul Manafort asserting Mueller that he has documentary evidence and text messages about something that we`ve recovered tonight.  Manafort`s outreach posed to the Trump administration and conspiring with a Russian linked individual to witness testimony.

The Democrat in charge of the House Intel Committee responding first on that on THE BEAT last night.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA:  Here you have the campaign chairman of the Trump campaign lying about his contacts with someone believed to be in league with Russian intelligence.  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 someone believed to be associated Russian intelligence ought to concern us the most.


MELBER:  Very concerning and we have two perfect guests for this.  David Dorsen was the former assistant chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee and worked in the Southern District of New York where the Cohen case is.  We`re also joined by former Federal Prosecutor Kim Wehle -- Kim Whaley I should say.  Is that right?


MELBER:  Wehle.  And you have quite a bit of experience in these high-level federal probes.  Let me start with you.  The significance of Mueller against the backdrop of a new boss coming in who may not even let his report go public being quite busy this week.

DAVID DORSEN, FORMER ASSISTANT CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE WATERGATE COMMITTEE:  Well, I think it shows that predictions of his demise as an independent council is misguided.  I think he`s going ahead subpoenaing witnesses.  I think his indictment of the 19 Republic -- not Republicans, I`m sorry, Russians showed that he wants to get cooperation from the American unindicted co-conspirators and I think we have a long way to go with Bob Mueller.

MELBER:  In Watergate where you have so much experience, the information flow changed a lot of public views over time and ultimately changed members of the President`s own party who initially had been and people can forget this quite loyal and quite supportive of Nixon and his aides even as some people got in trouble.  I wonder how you take that and apply that to what we`re learning from Mueller when he chooses to share in what are sometimes called speaking papers.

He chooses to share that as recently as May of this past year you have Manafort saying if I see POTUS one-on-one next week, can I remind them of our relationship.  Someone texting that Manafort saying yes even if it`s in a group.  Why is Mueller telling us that Manafort is in touch with people and in touch with the White House.

DORSEN:  Because I think he`s showing that he has a lot of evidence and that he is casting out for additional witnesses that will strengthen his case.  There was a lot we don`t know about the investigation.  For one thing I can tell you is that it`s thorough and that he knows his job and that he`s searching for low-level people as we did to move higher up the ladder and ultimately we`ll have to see. 

MELBER:  And Kim, put that against the backdrop of these house probes that Axios is nothing if not good at getting anonymous quotes from people inside the Trump White House.  That`s their thing.  And they have people in there saying they`re worried about these probes, Michael Cohen now teeing up.   If you had a different election result, I don`t know that we`d have public testimony for Michael Cohen.

WEHLE:  Yes.  I think that`s going to be a watershed moment in this entire process because I think there`s so much coming out that the American public doesn`t understand the story, the narrative, and when they put a regular citizen the way Michael Cohen talks, they`re going to understand from a from a live person what actually happened at least as to him.

MELBER:  Well, the story tonight is that Russia is running U.S. foreign policy and sanctions policy.  The question is whether that is of a criminal nature or just a really odd thing that keeps happening.

WEHLE:  Or national security.  I mean, anything now, we`ve introduced not just crime, we`ve introduced a potential threat to our national security from the FBI.  I think that`s a whole another kettle of fish.  Both of which -- I mean, I worked on the Ken Starr investigation, both of which I think could get rise arguably to impeachment process.

And on your point with respect to witness tampering, both with -- in Watergate and in Whitewater, witness tampering was one of the articles of impeachment.  It`s one of the distinguishing factors in my discussions with former Republicans and involved in the water -- Whitewater probe that distinguishes this probe from that.  So I think that`s going to be quite interesting.

DORSEN:  Oh I agree.  And this is getting very, very serious.  Without minimizing Watergate which I`m the last person to do, I think this is much more serious and potentially damaging to the country.

MELBER:  More serious, why?  Well, because not only does involve criminal conduct, but it expands the criminal conduct to our allies, to our economy.  These were not really concerns of anybody back in 1973-74, the economy of foreign relations, but they are now.  It`s quite possible we don`t know that some of the stuff that Trump is doing with Syria is designed to improve his relations with his base, with Russia and other things right.

HAYES:  It is harrowing.  On the other hand, didn`t history ultimately prove that Watergate was just a third-rate burglar?

DORSEN:  Oh, no, no, no, no.

MELBER:  I`m kidding.

DORSEN:  No, I`m not.

MELBER:  I`m kidding.

DORSEN:  OK, I`m sorry.  I`m sorry.  I surrender.

MELBER:  David --

DORSEN:  Thank you very much.

MELBER:  Thanks to both of your expertise.  What you said there is pretty resting.  I hope you both come back on THE BEAT.  Meanwhile, the top Democrat says very likely they are a no on bar unless you were to release the Mueller report which he won`t do.  Laurence Tribe from Harvard joins me live next.  And strong words from Senator Tim Kaine on Mitch McConnell.  Our discussion next.


MELBER:  If Hillary Clinton-Tim Kaine had won the electoral college, would there be a shutdown right now?  The Democratic Senator Tim Kaine telling me no.  I just caught up with him for a wide-ranging interview first on THE BEAT covering the Putin news, the Mueller probe, if Bill Barr should be confirmed.  We began though with the shutdown and whether Kaine blames Trump or McConnell.


SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA:  It`s a Trump shutdown that is protected and enabled by Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans.  Obviously, the House wants to reopen the government.  They`ve already passed those bills.

MELBER:  When you look at the negotiations, it feels like we`re going backwards, is that right?  Are we any closer?

KAINE:  Well, the Democrats are really unified on this.  We`re very glad to have a discussion about border security and immigration reform, but we are very strong in this.  You got an open government first.  We`re not going to -- we`re not going to let you punish people who are trying to get food stamps and punish TSA workers in order to get us to have a dialogue about something.

MELBER:  Is there a date at which point in your view it has a national security impact?

KAINE:  It has right now.  President Trump went on T.V. and said -- and then in tweet saying I`m trying to protect the safety and security of the American public.  If that was the case, why would you not pay the Coast Guard that interdict drugs?  Why would you not pay U.S. Marshals, FBI agents, 13,000 FBI agents?  Why would you not pay prison guards?  Why would you not pay food inspectors?  Why would you not pay the people in the air traffic tower.

MELBER:  They used to say there`s no atheists in foxholes.  Are you saying there`s no hardcore shut down libertarians once you`re airborne?

KAINE:  I think that absolutely.  Who would be pro-shutdown if you`re in the middle of the air?


MELBER:  And as for the Mueller probe as a legal matter, Kaine is, of course, one of the victims.  He was the running mate in 2016.  We discussed candidate Clinton`s famous allegation against Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  From everything I see has no respect for this person.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATES:  Well, that`s because he`d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.

TRUMP:  No puppet.  No puppet.

CLINTON:  And it`s pretty clear.

TRUMP:  You`re the puppet.


MELBER: Given what`s happened, I asked Senator Kaine, was Clinton right in 2016.


MELBER:  You were running mate on the campaign against Trump.  At the time if Hillary Clinton said that Donald Trump was a puppet of Putin.  Was she right?

KAINE:  Well, whether he`s doing it by intent or accomplishing the objective even beyond Vladimir Putin`s wildest dreams, the thought that an American citizen much less somebody wanted to be president would stand up and say hey Russia you`re our principal state adversary.  Go ahead and hack to help us win an election, that an American would voice that thought was (INAUDIBLE) to me. 

And the fact that candidate Trump did it I thought was outrageous.  Nothing that`s happened since has surprised.  He made the most recent news about President Trump trying to shield and keep secret the content of his conversations with Vladimir Putin.  We`ve been aware of that in the Senate because when we tried to get read into the Helsinki meeting, for example, we were not getting any details about it.

MELBER:  On that last point you raised, what`s the bottom line for Americans?  Is the concern that Donald Trump might be hiding the contents of the Putin meeting because he`s getting orders from Putin at the meeting?

KAINE:  There could be a whole series of concerns.  It could be sharing a bad information, it could be making commitments about what we`ll do in Syria without briefing the Armed Services Committee.  You can imagine many things.  But rather than imagine those things, I think the right answer is make sure we absolutely protect this investigation and get all the answers.  I do caution Democrats, don`t jump to the end before the Mueller investigation is done.

MELBER:  So you`re referring judgment on that.

KAINE:  I think we have to.


MELBER:  We have to.  Well, that leads to the big question in Washington right now.  How will anyone make a judgment on the Mueller probe if Trump`s new Attorney General won`t let people see it?


KAINE:  There are a lot of issues that I have, Ari, and I`ve not sat down with the nominee personally and I hope to do that before there would be a floor vote.  The single biggest issue and this is an issue of intense national significance is to get him absolutely on the record, that he will protect the Mueller investigation until it is completed, and he will make sure that Congress and the American public sees the results of the investigation.  Now, he made some comments --

MELBER:  He did not commit to releasing the full report.

KAINE:  That`s true.  He`s made some comments in a letter to Lindsey Graham and others in the last 48 hours saying I respect Bob Mueller.  That`s good.  I`m going to protect the investigation.  But he didn`t make the commitment about making it public.  I think he said something like he would be open to making relevant portions of it public.  This is of such critical importance to the nation.  the integrity of our election.  What could be more matter of public interest?  I want an eyeball.  I`m going to ask him this question.  OK, if you want to make the commitment, why wouldn`t you?  What would be in this report that you would worry about letting the American public say --

MELBER:  Why couldn`t people see it?

KAINE:  Yes, it`s so important.


MELBER:  Bill Barr`s refusal to make that commitment is part of why Kaine`s colleague Senator Feinstein is announcing tonight she intends to vote against him if he won`t make that pledge.  Now, we`re going to get right into that very issue with Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe.  A major legal scholar in all these issues.  He`s here next.


MELBER:  Joining me now, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe who`s argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court and advised President Obama.  He`s the Author of To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.  Professor, thanks for joining me tonight.


MELBER:  When you look at the developments we`ve seen out of the Mueller probe just this week as well as the ongoing review of Bill Barr who could become his boss, what do you think are the important takeaways for our viewers who rely on the expertise of people like yourself?

TRIBE:  Well, the most important takeaway is really contained in I think 15 words that Bill Barr uttered during his hearing yesterday.  He said, if you are not going to indict someone, you don`t unload negative information about them.  That`s not the way the department works.  Now, that makes sense in general.  That`s what Jim Comey was criticized for forgetting about when Hillary Clinton was in his target and he decided not to indict her but nonetheless dumped a load of negative information.

The trouble is that Bill Barr seems to believe in the Department of Justice OLC memo of the year 2000 saying that you cannot indict sitting president.  That means that if you can`t indict him and you cannot include and whatever you release to Congress and the public the negative information that is emerged about him, you are essentially foreclosing anything that will hold them accountable.  It`s kind of a catch-22.  The way the rules are structured, they`re kind of ambiguous about what should happen with the report.

They say that the report must be made but it`s a confidential report to the Attorney General.  And all of his promises about trying hard to let as much of it out in this summary as possible amount to nothing unless he commits to the view that when the reason you`re not recommending an indictment is that you think your hands are tied.  Then you`ve got to release the information that shows abuse of power because that is what the House will rely on to impeach the president.

MELBER:  And professor, I thought given the able lawyer that he is, I thought he was quite adept at trying to make that dodge as you put it sound as normal as possible because he referred to the typical what lawyers call prosecution or declination decisions.  Basically we went after someone we didn`t.  And take a listen on that point to his exchange with Senator Hirono about that.  Let`s look.


BILL BARR, NOMINEE, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL:  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.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII:  You said that the Mueller report is confidential pursuant to whatever the regulations are that applies to him.  So I`m just trying to get as to what oh you`re going to be transparent about.

BARR:  The rules I think say that the independent -- the special counsel will prepare a summary report on any prosecuted or declination decisions and that shall be confidential and shall be treated as any other declination or prosecuted material within the department.


MELBER:  Sometimes a trick of lawyering is to make the worst sounding stuff boring.  Do you think that passage there is important because we`re seeing a potential end game on the Mueller probe which is disappearing it?

TRIBE:  Well, I think that`s an option that he needs to leave open so that he pleases his audience of one, Donald Trump.  But what I`m hoping is that he`s more interested once he becomes Attorney General in what his grandson Liam will think of his granddad in the hindsight of history than in whether Trump will be pleased or not.  He doesn`t need this job.

The guy is 68.  He`s been Attorney General already.  I doubt that he`s hungry for it.  I think he`s being as careful as he needs to be so that he can walk a tightrope, not give the commitment that I think Democrats have a right to demand and Republicans as well if they care about the question of whether Trump is basically a Putin puppet.  He doesn`t want to give that commitment but he has to be pressured to give it as a condition of confirmation votes.  I think he`s going to be confirmed anyway.

But I think he has to understand that the confirmation was predicated on reading through the mumbo-jumbo and hoping at least that he will recognize that this is not any old ordinary case where you`re not supposed to release negative information about someone you`ve decided not to prosecute but it`s a case where the decision not to prosecute if you are with Barr is based on a policy that a sitting president can`t be indicted.  He can only be held accountable by impeachment and removal.  You got to give Congress the information on which to make a real judgment about that. 

MELBER:  Well, I think you just hit it on the head as you so often do.  It`s not a typical prosecution and declination decision if prosecution is not an option under the rules.  That puts in a different category. So we`ll see if that`s ultimately the plan that`s better for the system and America.  Laurence Tribe, as always, I appreciate you coming on THE BEAT. 

TRIBE:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Thank you, Sir.  And we will be back with one more thing.


MELBER:  That does it for our show in Washington.  I`ll be back here though tomorrow live 6:00 p.m. Eastern.  "HARDBALL" is up next.