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Michael Cohen subpoenaed by Senate. TRANSCRIPT: 1/24/2019, The Beat with Ari Melber.

Guests: Mazie Hirono, Lanny Davis, Eric Swalwell, Alicia Menendez, Tony Schwartz

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: January 24, 2019 Guest: Mazie Hirono, Lanny Davis, Eric Swalwell, Alicia Menendez, Tony Schwartz

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: We`re very excited. Yes, very well done.


TODD: My grandmother will be very happy. She thinks everybody should be wearing a tie on TV.

I`m going to be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY and more tie tips.

Bu the way, quick plug, I am joining Trevor Noah tonight on "The Daily Show." Catch it, I think, at 11 Eastern on Comedy Central. I think. I don`t know. You never know, it could be the end of my career.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.

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

We have breaking news on this Trump shutdown and a clear signal that Donald Trump is failing.

I can report for you tonight bipartisan talks are happening to try to actually reopen the government. You are looking at the split screen reality today. A dramatic statement, more Republicans crossing over one by one to vote for what is a Democratic bill that would reopen the government.

Both the so-called Trump bill and this Democratic bill didn`t get enough votes to move forward. But you can see, they do have something close to over 50 votes. Trump says, he would entertain now a bipartisan bill with some kind of down payment on the wall. Democrats say that`s not going to happen.

And then this is why we are seeing, if not a cave, what some are calling tonight a semi-cave. Because Trump now leaving the door opened anew to supporting something that he calls a reasonable agreement.


REPORTER: Would you open the government with temporary spending without money for the wall, just reopen the government?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I wouldn`t be happy with it. If they come to a reasonable agreement, I would support it. I have other alternatives if I have to.


MELBER: Let`s get right to it. Senator Mazie Hirono has joined us. And you jumped into early up on the show as we say because of the developing news, because of the -- not only the votes but the president saying there, well, maybe something reasonable if both sides agree without wall funding.

You know this much better than I do, Senator. But if I remember correctly, that is what you all achieved on a bipartisan basis and he said no last time and shut the government down. Do you view this president tonight is tiptoeing back towards the opening deal you all gave him?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We`ve seen this play before. We were talking about DACA. He said, "Bring me a reasonable compromise, bipartisan, I`ll sign it", and he didn`t. And then, of course, another reasonable thing just as you mentioned was the vote that we took to keep the government running in December.

And then he gets yelled at by some people on "Fox News" and suddenly he remakes. So the president is what I could call a person who changes his mind at a drop of the hat. And whatever he considers reasonable is very changeable.

So my thinking is, Ari that as we voted on these two bills, one of which was the Trump bogus offer should have been voted down but I`m glad that six Republicans voted on. And this isn`t really the Democratic bill. It was a bill to keep the government running that we all voted for in December.

So wow, six courageous Democrats -- I mean Republicans, said, "You know, we`re going to maintain our consistency there."

MELBER: Well, I appreciate what you are doing there, which is bringing some nuance to sort of fact check the way we talk about these things in shorthand. I believe what you are helping us get into is the fact that that original thing wasn`t as you say just "Democrat".


MELBER: That was a thing to fund the government by compromise. Is that right?

HIRONO: Yes. Yes. It already represented a compromise and, in fact, notice who is running the Senate, it`s the Republicans. So obviously, that was a Republican-sponsored bill that we all voted for in December to keep the government running.

Now, my hope was that with the failure of these two bills that have set the stage and an environment for a bipartisan effort to come up with a compromise which apparently the president already shut down. But I think that these discussions should continue.

Because what it points out to me, Ari is that you can`t talk sense to someone who makes no sense. That would be the president. Therefore, Congress should do its job. We are a separate branch of government. And I`ve been calling on Mitch McConnell to step up and not continue to be in hiding or kowtowing to the president`s whims by just bringing forth the president`s bill.

So I think that we should vote on whatever compromise that can be achieved by the folks who are meeting to do that. And, of course, that has to include Speaker Pelosi. And then we pass these bills and then it goes to the president and he, if he vetoes it, then we have the option of being able to override it at that point.

MELBER: Right. And you are speaking to how the Senate as a co-equal branch can put the pressure on.


MELBER: We talked a little about Trump. You are saying he is not so reasonable. I want to get your views as well on how we can understand --

HIRONO: No, it`s on Mitch.

MELBER: What did you say?

HIRONO: It`s on Mitch.

MELBER: It`s on Mitch? So --

MELBER: It`s on Mitch McConnell to do his job.

MELBER: So let`s get into that part before -- I know you`re busy. Before I let you go, and we`re going to get into a lot of this Michael Cohen in a couple moments for our viewers. But before we turn to that, I want to play a little more sound from the Senate today.

And I want you to walk us through what it means because, from a distance, people say, well, OK, it seems like nothing is happening. But what we just put up on the screen, what you are speaking to, what I am about to play suggests the temperature is rising. And it is moving maybe one at a time, but moving some Republicans, some in the president`s party, here with Senator Bennett today.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: How ludicrous it is that this government is shut down over a promise the president of the United States couldn`t keep. This is a joke. This government should be opened. We can debate whatever it is we want to debate.


MELBER: What is the heat we are seeing inside the Senate and is it getting to some of these Republicans that could actually, as you say, put real pressure with a bill on the president`s desk?

HIRONO: I think most of us live in the real world where people need their paychecks to pay their bills, keep a roof over their heads, food on the table. That`s where most people live but obviously not our commerce secretary.

So why can`t we just go out and get a loan? Or this administration has an unlimited capacity in their lack of empathy. So the president is not somebody we can negotiate with. Because for one, he`s a hostage-taking amoral person who makes no distinction between right or wrong.

So I think that the compromise must be forged at the legislative level. That`s congressional. And we should pass these bills to get the government running and then, then we can have all kinds of discussions about border security, which we all support, by the way, and the other things that the president wants.

And I think the reason that he took hostages is he cannot make a valid argument for a multi-billion dollar wall because you know, the $5.7 billion is only a down payment. He can`t justify that wall on its own, on its merit. So he needs to take 800,000 people and contractors hostage.

That`s who we are dealing with, with the president of the United States, an amoral, lying person whose mind is changed at the whim. And I guess if Ann Coulter yells at him, he turns into a total wimp.

MELBER: Well, it sounds like you`re saying that Donald Trump is stuck between Ann Coulter and Nancy Pelosi. Folks can figure out what that means. But he seems to be moving towards Pelosi. Senator, thank you for joining us.

HIRONO: Congress can do its job.

MELBER: Yes, ma`am. Thank you, Senator. I appreciate it.

HIRONO: Thank you.

MELBER: As promised, I turn now to the other top story in our newscast. The breaking news of the Senate now formally subpoenaing Michael Cohen today. This comes, of course, after he had bailed on the planned public testimony.

So they`re looking at a date of February 12. That`s three weeks before Cohen is supposed to report to prison for a three-year sentence. Now, Cohen says he had backed off the voluntary testimony because Trump was threatening his family.

Reports today are he`s upset about this new demand. A source saying Cohen views this pressure as "lacking compassion" and ignoring Cohen`s concern and fear for his family`s safety. Beyond that leak about the subpoena, on the record, Cohen`s Legal Adviser Lanny Davis suggesting they don`t want to fight the entire subpoena. But there may be debates over how they comply on what comes next.

Now, the timing is the story Here. The Republican Senate chair has said the whole goal is to get Cohen to testify with that date before going to prison, because he notes, "It`s very difficult to interview people in jail."

Now, that`s not just rhetoric. There is actually some bipartisan agreement on Cohen`s potential testimony right now. I can report for you that tonight because you have leaders in both parties saying, look, he`s got to face Congress, regardless of jail. Here is Democratic Chair Elijah Cummings.


REPORTER: What about when he goes to jail? Can you get him even if he goes to jail?

SEN. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Of course, we can. Of course. Whatever we have to do to get him here, we`re going to do it.


MELBER: President Trump meanwhile, not the only one attacking Cohen. Another former Trump aide caught up in this same Mueller probe, Michael Caputo argued right here at this table last night that if Cohen testifies, he would just "lie" again.


MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: Michael Cohen is an inventor of a liar and it`s been proven so. He has been found guilty of lying. I think he will continue to lie and say whatever he needs to, to cut his sentence down as far as possible.


MELBER: I am joined now by phone by Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen`s legal adviser who has been on this show before and telegraphs some of where we were headed.

Lanny, have you seen Michael in person today? How is he doing? Will he testify? And what is important in your view about what`s come out?

LANNY DAVIS, MICHAEL COHEN`S LEGAL ADVISER (via telephone): Yes, I have seen him. He is in considerable pain and difficulty because of his recent surgery. I put out a public statement that, of course, a subpoena will be complied with, but the terms and dates and details of subpoena as everybody knows, are always subject to reasonable discussions.

But we expect the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee will also want Mr. Cohen to come in. I have to add that, we greatly respect and appreciate Mr. Cummings and wanted to do that public testimony on February 7. And the highest priority was to do that testimony and I know what he would have said.

But Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani -- I could talk about Mr. Giuliani first because he doesn`t have the arguably (INAUDIBLE) of a president. He committed a crime as far as I`m concerned, an indictable crime by threatening and impugning a man`s family as a way of getting into the man`s brain.

We`ve seen that in movies in "Godfather 2" how you can silently threaten somebody. And it`s a mock tactic that Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Mr. Cummings put out in a public statement last night.

MELBER: Well, let me get you on that.

DAVIS: So there is genuine fear in the Cohen family.

MELBER: Lanny, I understand that you are saying that with the full genuine view and that`s why I asked if you were with Mr. Cohen today. and you are describing what you are seeing. I don`t quibble with that.


MELBER: You mentioned "Godfather II." That`s a situation where you have also congressional hearings and you have a star witness` family member brought into the hearings. But as you know, Mr. Davis, the clear implication in "Godfather II" was the threat of violence or murder.

Here the threat appears to be, as I understand your allegation of the crime, that Donald Trump would use investigative resources to target members of Mr. Cohen`s family or are you alleging something beyond that?

DAVIS: No, I`m saying what everybody knows is that there are millions of people in this country with access to firearms who engage in violence. And here, violent words and violent threats, that we saw in Charlottesville and we know that these things can happen.

I`m not accusing Donald Trump of physically threatening. But in "Godfather II" when Angelo was about to tell the Senate about Michael Corleone ordering a murder, they brought up Pentangeli`s brother from Sicily. And all he did was sit in the back of the room and the silence was not to be threatened.

MELBER: So I want to make sure I understand. Because you mentioned, yes, we are talking -- I guess it`s 2019 and this is how these interviews go but we are talking Godfather II in the back of the room, here in the room. But we`re also talking Charlottesville where, as you mentioned, an individual was murdered, according to authorities.

And you are saying that you think the words of the president in public would encourage potential vigilante-style violence or is there something more you`re alluding to that was beyond what Donald Trump said in the "Fox" interview, et cetera, about Cohen`s family?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, I`m describing the emotional thoughts of a father-in-law from Ukraine who`s been here for 45 years and is called out by Rudy Giuliani as having links to organized crime, because he`s from Ukraine. That`s Mr. Trump`s lawyer, who has no immunity. And that`s witness tampering on its face.

Secondly, you have Mr. Trump, president of the United States, calling Michael Cohen a rat. That`s a mob term for somebody who tells the truth to the government. And he praises people refusing to cooperate. And the message being sent, at least according to the family members is fear.

And while we try to be rational about whether there should be fear or not be fear, I can tell you from personal knowledge, that the father-in-law of Michael is the father of his wife. His wife has been directly called out by the president of the United States as if she`s a criminal. She`s been named in two of his tweets.

They are fearful. (INAUDIBLE) is fearful. His parents are fearful. And so that is what is going on.

MELBER: Understood. And I just wanted to pin down, Lanny, exactly the nature of what you are saying. And I understand it. I have Congressman Eric Swalwell who`s going to join this conversation with you. He, of course, is on both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

Congressman, thank you for joining me. I want to put one more question to Mr. Davis here with you, both listening and visible to our audience. Because I think it comes to the clerks of it and that is Lanny, when you say a subpoena can be complied with, but you will work out the details, are you able to tonight to commit on the record to Mr. Cohen testifying to Congress before he goes to jail? Or are you not ready to commit to that?

DAVIS: I`m not ready to commit to that because I haven`t had any chance to talk to Mr. Cohen about his medical condition and other issues that he`s worried about. I am authorized to say that a subpoena is very serious and Mr. Cohen respects the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He has already owned up to the fact that he lied about one issue, to confirm his story to what he understood Mr. Trump wanted him to say. And that was a lie. And he`s owned up to it. He`s going to prison because of it and the same thing in the House.

But I can`t tonight commit to anything before we engage in some reasonable conversations. I`m not a criminal defense lawyer. So it will have to be another lawyer that will be joining me.

MELBER: Understood. Stay with me, Lanny. Congressman, we turn to you. Is that good enough or in the view of the House, does the subpoena mean within a reasonable time and before this individual reports to incarceration?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEES Well, subpoena means a subpoena and I`ll leave that to Mr. Schiff and Mr. Cummings. But if I could talk to Mr. Cohen, I would talk to him just like I would talk to any gang witness that I worked with as a prosecutor.

I would say, Mr. Cohen, you have already done the hard part. You`ve broken away from the mob. You`ve told the truth. You`ve come clean. Don`t allow this bully of a president to get his way. He is a paper tiger.

And you will be protected by the special counsel. Congress, I know would do everything it could to make accommodations. But the best thing you can do is to just tell the truth and stand up once and for all from this bully.

MELBER: And what do you think, Congressman? I know you were listening in as part of our reporting of what Mr. Davis, as Cohen`s adviser just said that there is a view, there is what he described as genuine fear not only of meddling or investigative techniques by the president.

Richard Nixon got in trouble for that kind of abusive power. But the idea that someone might hear the president`s words and act violently, does that strike you as a legitimate concern or really beyond the pale tonight?

SWALWELL: So it`s a legitimate concern but it would be more legitimate if the Democrats did not control the House of Representatives but the days of mob rule are over. We are no longer powerless. We are able to stop this type of intimidation, this type of tampering, this type of obstruction, and finally hold the president accountable.

So I know, for me, it`s hard too, because I have to remind myself, hey, we don`t have to go to the streets anymore to protest all of this stuff. We can actually do the work on the inside and be a balance of power against the check of - against abuses of power.

MELBER: So let me let Mr. Davis respond to that. And then on the other side of this, I want to play for both of you Congressman Nunes` alternative view of all this. But first, Lanny, you are here obviously by phone, I want to give you the benefit of a response.

DAVIS: Well, I just want to thank the Congressman. He is not only right about the power of truth and the bravery that Mr. Cohen has shown starting on July 2 in his first interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos. He is dedicated to the truth and what I know that he knows is the reason why Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and the White House are so desperate to try to block him from telling the truth and attacking his father-in-law and his wife, shows desperation.

I also want to thank the Congressman for corruptly saying that the way bullies, especially a bully on the bully pulpit, soiling the presidency by using Twitter to call out a man`s family, something that should be a purple bipartisan moment for our country.

Pro or anti-Trump, family is out of bounds, except for one person in the oval office and his lawyer who seems mentally unbalanced to me at times, who calls America, Ukraine and says he has connections to organized crime. This is a former prosecutor.

I`d like to thank the Congressman for pointing out. You only emboldened bullies that they can`t get away with it.

MELBER: What do you mean by calling Rudy Giuliani "mentally unbalanced"?

DAVIS: I believe he is mentally unbalanced by the words that he utters. If you watched him on a rival network on this past Sunday, where he links a man who`s 45 years in this country, an elderly gentleman, but without any evidence whatsoever and says he has links to organized crime because he comes from Ukraine and Mr. Trump, because the United States alludes to him having legal problems, without telling anything further about the facts --

MELBER: And I understand how serious this is.

DAVIS: His mental stability --

MELBER: But you`re talking about evidence. You are making quite an allegation about your -- what might be effectively your opposing counsel, you`re saying his mentally unbalanced. You don`t have evidence for that. Do you, Lanny?

DAVIS: I`m only giving you my personal reaction to watching his performance on TV. And I don`t need to offer other examples but what I saw on Sunday did not strike me as mental stability. That`s my impression.

MELBER: Understood. Let me - as promised, let me play, as promised a Republican congressman`s view of this, Congressman Swalwell, you know Congressman Nunes. I think our viewers know some of the ways he`s approached his investigative role. But let`s listen to his view dismissing Mr. Cohen`s concerns. Take a look.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: I would love to have Cohen in Congress answering some of these tough questions. Whether you know -- saying that he`s getting threatened seems pretty silly to me. We wanted Cohen to come in so I think this is all -- it makes no sense that he`s using the excuse that he`s been threatened. That doesn`t make sense.


MELBER: Congressman Swalwell.

SWALWELL: We had Michael Cohen testify before our committee. And we wanted to follow up on his account of what had happened because we now know he was not being untruthful at the time. We were blocked at every single step.

So we could have corroborated or contradicted Mr. Cohen when Mr. Nunes was the chairperson. He didn`t do that. And I think part of the reason that the voters gave us a majority in addition to health care and jobs is also about ending the corruption in Washington and having again a balance of power against these abuses. And so we`re going to answer these questions.

MELBER: Congressman Eric Swalwell with a view from the Hill. Thank you, Lanny Davis, taking a break --

DAVIS: I appreciate it.

MELBER: -- out of your busy day and your day working to join us tonight, appreciate it.

What I`m going to ill do right now is turn right to a federal prosecutor that many of you know, MSNBC Analyst, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance. Thanks for being here tonight, Joyce.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Good to be with you, Ari.

MELBER: Nice to see you. You, at least for the last few minutes have been a BEAT viewer right along with our audience watching all of that so.

VANCE: In the room where it happens.

MELBER: In the room where it happens, as Hamilton would say. What do you make of what we just heard there?

VANCE: You know, there is so much to unpack here. But I focused on a phrase that Lanny Davis used where he talked about Michael Cohen and he referred back and said, "Michael did what he understood the president wanted him to do."

And that takes us a little bit back to the core of the testimony that we thought for a while we would get to hear Cohen give in front of the House. It looks like he may now give that testimony in front of the Senate. But they tend to have closed-door proceedings. I don`t think that we`ll publicly see any testimony that he gives on the Senate side.

But this is a very important question. We got caught up in the "BuzzFeed" controversy, which was about whether or not the president had directly ordered Cohen to lie on the Hill.

Now, we have Mr. Davis walking that back a little bit. Maybe not walking it back, maybe saying what was always said and that Cohen was doing what he understood Trump wanted him to do. And legally that, too, would be a crime. I thought that was an interesting comment.

MELBER: Very notable. And also the big question of, as you put it, whether you`re going to speak in public. And in Michael Cohen`s case, the prison deadline looms large.

Last night on the show, we had several other Mueller witnesses and I put this to them, this question about whether Cohen should step up and do this. Take a look at their responses.


MELBER: Do you think in your opinion that he should step up and speak to Congress before he goes to jail?

JEROME CORSI, ROGER STONE ASSOCIATE: I really don`t have any opinion on it.


MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: I really couldn`t care less. I`d like him to go to jail as soon as possible and stay there a long time.



MELBER: That`s the view of other people who have tangled with this. Did you hear Lanny Davis tonight on THE BEAT to be implying that this is going to get done before prison or not?

VANCE: I think it was unequivocal, right. He pointed out that he wasn`t a criminal defense lawyer. It was a question that had to be discussed. But if you are a prosecutor, you don`t want Cohen to testify. You never like to see someone that you might have as to put on the witness stand in a trial of your own giving testimony in another forum, particularly here, a risky one.

MELBER: Are you suggesting this may be one of the only issues that Donald Trump and Bob Mueller agree on in this probe tonight?

VANCE: I think we might have found the core agreement.

MELBER: The overlapping Venn diagram is narrow.

VANCE: It`s very small.

MELBER: It involves Mueller not wanting to give away and he signals and Trump not wanting to have the world see whatever it is, because we don`t actually know, whatever it is Michael Cohen would say.

VANCE: You know, that`s right. But ultimately, Mueller will win here. Because this testimony will come out in one form or another, maybe when Mueller issues his report. All the president can do is delay it. And as you know as a lawyer, trying to delay a witness, using intimidation is a crime.

MELBER: Right. And that goes back to the heart of this and some of what I was very surprised here, what -- some of what Lanny said in his allegations about the fear and the things they are worried about. That`s a personal feeling.

U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, thank you for being here.

VANCE: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: We have a lot more, including breaking down what I just mentioned, that live interview with four different Mueller witnesses and their contacts with Mueller`s investigators.


MELBER: What kind of questions were they asking about Trump Tower Moscow?

NUNBERG: What do you know about Moscow?

MELBER: Were you asked about anyone else at this table? Russian intelligence, would you still want to do the meetings with them?


MELBER: We`ll show you the answers. Those witnesses making news as well about long-time Trump Associate Roger Stone.


CORSI: Roger in his broadcast has been defamatory.

CAPUTO: A lot of the things you say about Roger I think you`re steering him towards a perjury charge. I think you are putting your old friend in danger.

NUNBERG: Well, he put us all in danger, by the way, Michael. The fact of the matter is, the reason us three are essentially in there is because of Stone.


MELBER: What did Stone think about that? I would tell you. We report all sides.

And later tonight, Art of The Deal co-author Tony Schwartz talking about why Trump can`t seem to figure out how to handle Speaker Pelosi.

I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MNSBC.


MELBER: Talks to end the government shutdown are underway on the Hill right now. Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Americans are due to miss another paycheck.


JOHNNY ALLEN: Am I going to buy medicine or am I going to buy groceries? Am I going to be able to take my kids to the doctors?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though they approve us to get back pay, that doesn`t help with the immediate need of bills being paid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, for somebody else to begin to dictate how I will have to live, I`m angry by that.

LOUIS DAVIS, UNION PRESIDENT: It`s becoming a strain on everybody that we`re not getting paid. And we`re upholding our parts coming to work every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It needs to end today and we need to stop playing games with people`s lives.


MELBER: Those are real people dealing with the shutdown. There`s all kinds of ways you could respond. Here`s one way though you might not want to respond. Watch billionaire Commerce Secretary under Donald Trump give out some free advice.


ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, ANCHOR, CNBC: Mr. Secretary, there are reports that there are some federal workers who are going to homeless shelters to get food.

WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Well, I know they are and I don`t really quite understand why. The 30 days of pay that some people will be out is no real reason why they shouldn`t be able to get a loan against it.


MELBER: I am joined by Alicia Menendez, contributing editor at "Bustle". Wow.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BUSTLE: Wow. I mean, when you know that about one in every three government workers is living paycheck to paycheck and as of tomorrow will likely have gone without two paychecks, it`s not just the economic impact that that has for them right now in this moment.

Some of the survival mechanisms -- and we`ve talked about people having to go to food pantries in order to get food, people are also carrying heavier loads on their credit cards that are rolling over. They`re deferring on mortgage payments. Those are economic decisions that don`t let up once the shutdown is over. Those have long term impact on all these people.

And I also think there`s an attitudinal question here, right? When we did some of the original polling and asked people if they`d been impacted by this shutdown, we get a very small percentage of Americans who felt that they had been personally impacted. But comments like that, I think resonate with a much larger cross-section of Americans who say do you know what the average Americans life is like?

MELBER: Yes. Take a look at Senators Manchin and Speaker Pelosi seizing on this as Representative of the entire Trump mindset.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Anybody the top of the food chain is totally tone deaf. That`s where they are. They`ve been out of touch now to reality for that long because I can tell you, I`ve been all over West Virginia, people are hurting.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He doesn`t understand why they have to do that. I don`t know, it`s like a let them eat cake kind of attitude or call your father for money. It`s hundreds of thousands of men and women are about to miss a second paycheck tomorrow.


MENENDEZ: I think all of this pressure is part of why you see Republicans support beginning to fracture. It`s why you have six Republican Senators voting for this Democratic proposal. It`s also why you have moderate Democrats calling on Pelosi to come to the table to negotiate.

I think if you were an optimistic person you hope that that bipartisan group of Senators right now is working on some type of plan to reopen the government for three weeks.

MELBER: Right. And briefly, if the Senate just operated with majority floor votes, there`d be a bill to go under the White House tonight.

MENENDEZ: And yet here we are. And I think that`s part of why you`re seeing this frustration rise because the actual procedural element of this is broken.

MELBER: Alicia Menendez, we always appreciate your insights. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT. We are turning now to the Mueller probe. Those four witnesses telling all and getting reaction from their former good friend Roger Stone. I`ll explain it all when we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: We all hear a lot about the Mueller probe but practically nothing directly on the record from people inside it. Mueller doesn`t leak. You know that. Most of their witnesses don`t leak. And Mueller`s team tells those witnesses to avoid the press, something we actually heard just last night from one of those witnesses.

In fact, I got to interview for Russia witnesses. This was a rare joint discussion to learn firsthand how the Mueller team operates, what they ask, how they apply pressure, and clues as to where the probe is headed. So right now we`re going to get into it with journalists Mike Lupica, an MSNBC Contributor with his view of what we were all watching.

I want to mention many of you reacted as well. The interview was trending nationally on Twitter last night. It drew over 100,000 interactions on the internet. And many of you called it fascinating, disturbing, some wondered why these witnesses agreed to do this in the first place.

There was also reaction from a man the witnesses said Mueller`s team kept asking about, former Trump advisor Roger Stone and he posted his own message on Instagram attacking his former allies in that interview, Sam Nunberg and Jerome Corsi. He referred to them as "Judas One and Judas Two." And he added in that post a hashtag "Ari Melber sucks." Here is part of what he was reacting to.


JEROME CORSI, FORMER ASSOCIATE OF ROGER STONE: I`m saying that Roger in his broadcast has been defamatory and I want it stopped.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think -- I think Roger says the same thing about you. I mean, I`ve known Roger 30 years, Dr. Corsi, and I`m not buying this George Washington act of yours on this. A lot of the things we say about Roger I think are steering him towards a perjury charge. I also think that it`s really hurting his reputation and I really believe that you know, the things you said about WikiLeaks don`t add up.

MELBER: You`re saying -- your view is that Dr. Corsi here at the table is the -- is the informational aggressor and is actually setting up Roger?

CAPUTO: I`m sorry Dr. Corsi, that`s what I believe and I believe you`re being pushed into it by Mueller, you know. And I don`t agree with what you`re saying about Roger and I think you`re putting your old friend in danger.

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER AIDE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: He put us all in danger, by the way, Mike.


MELBER: Mike Lupica, as a journalist, as a T.V. viewer, what did you -- what did you think, what did you learn?

MIKE LUPICA, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know I watched it last night, Ari. I watched Special Counsel Melber ask them all questions for 40 minutes. I watched it -- I watched it again today. It was absolutely compelling television. And you know, I loved the part where they started to turn on each other.

And I remember at one point, I think it was Caputo saying that Mueller told him not to talk to the media and he thought he had -- was telling him that he`d lost his First Amendment rights, and you know, knowing you, I know you were thinking what of a line from Drake which is a wise man once said nothing at all. And the more these guys talk, the more these guys talked the more trouble they seem to get each other.

There was a point with Carter Page last night, Ari, where you were trying to simply ask him if he knew everything then that he knows now, would he still have done it. And I thought you were going to have to pull a knife on him to get -- to get him to give you a straight answer.

MELBER: Well, I think we have that. I think we can pull it. It`s quite an exchange because of his inability to initially address the fact that it`s a bad idea to meet with Russian spies if you know they`re Russian spies. Let`s take a look.


MELBER: In 2013, you met with people that were "charged with being undeclared officers in Russia`s Foreign Intelligence Service. Knowing that now, would you still want to deal with those people?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER AIDE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: They were a couple of diplomats.

MELBER: They are according to the United States Russian intelligence. Would you still want to do the meetings with them?

PAGE: Well, listen, we set here in New York City tonight, the home of the United Nations. There are diplomats from around the world.

MELBER: That`s a defense -- and I`m going to go one more time with you and then I`m going to have to tell the audience he`s not answering the question, but I`d rather you did answer it. Now that you know though, would you take a meeting again like that with someone that was identified by the U.S. as Russian Intel?

PAGE: To have -- they were not identified at the time.

MELBER: But if known, if known.

PAGE: Obviously, if I knew they you know, we`re doing some things behind the scenes, I never would have met with them but I didn`t know that.

MELBER: Right.



LUPICA: That exchange was worth the price of admission. Ari, I lived in New York City for like 40 years, and in this notion that because the United Nations is in there, you`re eventually going to run into a Russian diplomat. He must have been hanging out at different places than I was from the time I showed up in New York in the late `70s.

MELBER: There is a good bar downtown called -- there`s a good bar downtown in New York called Pravda. That might be a place. But yes, I don`t think it`s what happens up and down all of Manhattan. It`s a big city. The other thing where we learned a lot because as I mentioned in the -- in the introduction some viewers said well, why are we even doing this? And one reason is we rarely get to compare on the record accountable what people think and experience.

And there are multiple Mueller prosecutors. Here they were discussing one of them, Zelinsky, that each of them were interviewed by. Take a look.

NUNBERG: And you know, it`s funny when I was talking to Jerome outside, we were talking about Aaron Zelinsky who we`ve both dealt with.

MELBER: A Mueller prosecutor.

NUNBERG: A Mueller prosecutor. We just have like such different views of him.

CORSI: I think Zelinsky is basically was a thug. He basically -- his old techniques yawning, acting up, asking rapid-fire questions, I mean I went into cooperating. I did not expect to be treated like a criminal.

CAPUTO: I had a different experience with Aaron Zelinsky. I think it`s like three different people. I think my experience --

MELBER: So we had -- we had a negative view, we had a more legitimate view, and your view is --

CAPUTO: I`m right in the middle. Because I think Aaron was probably just getting wound up when he let it -- let me go. But you know, he wasn`t a pleasant person. I don`t expect that to be the case and in an interview with the special counsel.


MELBER: Three Trump aides there with three different views of how the Mueller team gets where it wants to go. As an observer of the probe, what does that indicate to you about the way Mueller has got his folks doing their job?

LUPICA: I have a feeling that Mr. Zelinsky didn`t act like a thug but I can imagine him rolling his eyes as he listened to some of these guys talk to him. And I keep coming back to one thing with Robert Mueller, and we can all go broke thinking that we know what he knows. And we can try to read the tea leaves and try to figure out well if you ask these guys these questions, where is he -- where is he going. No, the only guy who knows that is Robert Mueller.

MELBER: Yes. That`s well put. You kicked us off with Drake when it comes to following all of these clues. I also think of Drake, we`ll keep doing it until it gets old or maybe it never gets old and that`s just how it goes. Happy to have you along for the ride, Make Jersey Lupica.

LUPICA: No, no, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

MELBER: Go ahead.

LUPICA: No, wait, I got one more for you.

MELBER: Go ahead. I said go ahead. I`m not going to say it twice.

LUPICA: DMX man, DMX. DMX, never get involved with something so much that it blinds you.

MELBER: DMX also said woof, woof, woof. Although he actually barked, but that`s farther than I can go on a broadcast. Mike, you`re always pushing us and on THE BEAT we believe in pushing. Thank you, sir.

Coming up, a man who has known Donald Trump for decades saying he now looks awed, Donald Trump looks awed by Nancy Pelosi in this shutdown battle. Art of the Deal co-author Tony Schwartz right here right now.


MELBER: Donald Trump`s first three weeks of the Pelosi era have been rocky waffling on this shutdown compromise, losing a State of the Union and its typical audience of about 43 million people.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could have gotten to a big auditorium and gotten 25,000 people in one day and you`ve been there many times, but I think that would be very disrespectful to the State of the Union. So what she said I thought was actually reasonable. We`ll have to say to the Union when the shutdown is over.


MELBER: You hear that? Donald Trump deferentially calling Pelosi`s decision reasonable. He also referred to it as her prerogative. In a moment we`re going to get into it with Art of the Deal co-author and friend of THE BEAT Tony Schwartz. He says today that he has never seen Trump so utterly flummoxed and outgunned as he is by Nancy Pelosi. He seems both odd and cowed by her.

Schwartz argues it`s because Trump has underestimated her ability as a leader and that Trump would be violating one of his own claimed pieces of negotiating advice, understand your opponent.


TRUMP: Negotiation is a very, very delicate art. Sometimes you have to be tough, sometimes you have to be as sweet as pie. You never know, it depends on who you`re dealing with.

The big thing in negotiation is to try and figure out your opponent otherwise you`re going to look like an idiot and lose big.


MELBER: Truer words?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, ART OF THE DEAL: Truer words. He looks like an idiot.

MELBER: What is it about her and her strategy three weeks in that has reminded anyone whoever said gosh, should she still be Speaker? She seems to have a real way to deal with him.

SCHWARTZ: Yes. I mean, she`s suddenly gone from being this most hated person in her previous incarnation as Speaker to being this celebrity and charismatic leader. I don`t think she shifted. I don`t think she actually even necessarily has a particular strategy with Trump. I think she`s being herself which is she`s tough. She`s tough with civility. She`s tough with decorum. She`s a way that I think Trump looks at and goes I literally can`t do anything to move this person.

MELBER: Well, as they say in Office Space, remember that movie?


MELBER: I`m going to go ahead and disagree with you there. I think Speaker Pelosi would never try to cancel George W. Bush`s State of the Union. Because no matter how diametrically opposed they were on foreign policy, on civil rights, on the environment, there was still a feeling that you were working within some framework of Washington. And so for all those diametric, I mean zero to 100 on Iraq, there would still be that respect.

And she is saying something that is quite popular with her base in the resistance but that I think we`re seeing more and more across other parts of America which is well if this guy comes in and breaks everything, don`t you have to change up your response to him?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. I think that what`s consistent with who she`s always been is that she is strategic and careful and deliberate and still respectful. She continues to actually -- the act itself you might say is disrespectful but the way in which she has done it I think is consistent with what you would expect from her.

MELBER: I mean, what I think you`re getting at is the chief saying if you are going to degrade the entire government, you don`t get to do this thing, right? But when you step back up to being responsible, you can still have your State of the Union.

SCHWARTZ: I`m using the rules -- I`m using the rules and my leverage to accomplish the outcome I want. I`m not going to scream at you, I`m not going to trade words with you, I`m not going to back down from you. Look, this is what leadership is about. It`s about being able to balance these opposites of sort of confidence and humility, of courage but also prudence.

MELBER: So why did he violate one of the rules that you go strode or help throw? Did he used to follow those rules more?

SCHWARTZ: I was talking about her then.

MELBER: Oh, I know you were talking about her there. But going back to him saying understand your opponent, he doesn`t seem to know what to do with her yet.

SCHWARTZ: No, I think that in the face of -- look, number one bought with a bullet, Trump is a bully. So he spent its entire life bullying and it has usually worked. It is clear to him that he can`t bully her. And it`s also she`s a much older person with enormous experience, it`s tough to do it in a way that doesn`t backfire on you. So I think he`s got her -- I mean, sorry -- she`s got him.

But really the issue here is underneath this is are you someone who is outer-directed or you inner-directed? So outer-directed means you are looking outside yourself for what the response is going to be and you`re making all your choices expediently based on that feedback you`re getting from the outside world.

Inner-directed means you have a true north inside. You have actually a set of values that are immutable, that you stand by. And I do think that Pelosi has a consistent record of suggesting that she does stand for something. And she knows that when she wants to make a choice she can look inside, she can sense what she feels and act on it.

Trump has no idea. He`s like a tree blowing in the wind with no roots. So the wind comes this way and Trump goes this way, the wind comes this way and he goes this way. He knows he`s up against one tall tree with a lot of -- with a lot of roots. She may be short in height but she is tall in stature.

MELBER: I feel like we got into almost a Dr. Seuss place near the end and I like it.

SCHWARTZ: Really, what`s --

MELBER: I was well read enough on the Lorax to say more than that. But luckily this show is on for now it`s on every night so maybe tomorrow night I`ll get --

SCHWARTZ: I`m a Horton Hears A Who! kind of a fan.

MELBER: I don`t get it.

SCHWARTZ: That`s dr. Seuss too.

MELBER: Is it?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. But you will be a parent to know that at some point.

MELBER: What about The Giving Tree? How do you feel about that one?

SCHWARTZ: That`s a good book.

MELBER: Michelle Silverstein --

SCHWARTZ: A Michelle Silverstein fan. And you could try and trade with me about --

MELBER: One thing -- sir, one thing I won`t do is train too far for references to befuddle a guest. That`s something I would never do.

SCHWARTZ: No. That`s -- that is your limit.

MELBER: My producer -- my producer is saying we got to go and I think he means it more than one way. Tony Schwartz, we`re high fiving. Thank you for being here. "STATE OF MIND" on THE BEAT. Democrats have this power we`ve been talking about. Now they`re following the money. We`ll explain that important story next.


MELBER: Tonight Representatives Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters announcing a joint probe into Deutsche Bank. They want to look at Trump`s work with that influential bank and yes, potential money laundering. This is definitely potentially a big deal. We know Mueller has got a reported interest in related bank records which sparked Trump`s original desire to talk about firing him all the way last year.


MELBER: You never know what tomorrow will bring, but I could tell you it looks busy. Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort back in court for a hearing on those accused lies to Bob Mueller. The judge says Manafort can wear a suit instead of a prison outfit. We`ll also talk politics with Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee. A lot to talk about whether he might run for president. That`s all tomorrow on THE BEAT. But don`t go anywhere. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.