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Roger Stone circus hits D.C. TRANSCRIPT: 1/28/2019, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: David Corn, John Flannery, Mara Gay, Shelby Holliday, Mike Quigley, Jerome Corsi

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: January 28, 2019 Guest: David Corn, John Flannery, Mara Gay, Shelby Holliday, Mike Quigley, Jerome Corsi

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Reporters and right-wing media will take that and use it to their advantage to help hang on to the support that the president has or might have in the future. Ken, Gabe, Susan, Ayesha, thank you, guys, all. That will do it for us.

We will be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

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

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you very much. This is the first week of 2019, to begin with the government open. Later tonight, I have a breakdown on Trump caving on the wall, blowing through $11 billion, and why it matters for the future of this Trump/Pelosi era.

But we begin with this picture, indicted former trump aide Roger Stone posting this picture today of him traveling for his Mueller court appearance tomorrow. And you can see the caption, "And so it begins."

Here is how that actual scene looked today. This is real footage we just got. Stone arriving in Arlington, Virginia, swamped by different cameras, bantering, chatting, generally stepping into a circus-like atmosphere that appears honestly comfortable for a self-declared dirty trickster and messaging guru like Roger Stone.

He also looked pretty comfortable this weekend. He visited the media steak at his Florida home, he did a range of press appearances. And tonight, the nation knows a lot more than it knew when those FBI agents first raided Stone`s home on Friday. Because unlike most defendants, Roger stone is talking.


REPORTER: Are you willing to cut a deal with Mueller to avoid getting the case going to trial?

ROGER STONE, LONGTIME TRUMP ALLY: I don`t answer hypothetical questions. I will not fold. I will not bend.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, THIS WEEK ABC: Any chance you`ll cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller if he asks?

STONE: This was an egregious overreach by Mr. Mueller. These are Gestapo tactics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think this is the end by any means of, you know, or even reaching the end of the Mueller investigation. I think there is a lot more to come.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: We`re going to see in short order that Roger Stone is not the only one that lied to Congress.


MELBER: In a very real, measurable sense, the Mueller probe intensified on Friday. This was Mueller`s first indictment of a major Trump figure related to those e-mails that Russia stole.

And while most ex-Trump aides only connected with Trump around the 2016 campaign, you can see there the number of years they knew him, Michael Cohen much higher at 13 years, but it`s Roger Stone who comes in as the longest-serving Trump adviser by far. They`ve connected for decades.

Now, Stone is citing that deep history and loyalty in an unusual round of interviews since Friday. He`s been walking a line, blasting the indictment as political while keeping the door open to cooperation.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Any chance you`ll cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller if he asks?

STONE: You know, that`s a question I would have to -- I`d have to determine after my attorneys have some discussion. If there is wrongdoing by other people in the campaign, that I know about, which I know of none, but if there is, I would certainly testify honestly.


MELBER: Testifying honestly in cooperation with Mueller, that would be something. And in fairness, that is something that Mr. Stone as a defendant would consider and choose to do. He doesn`t need to announce it on television. But as we report this out, note that what you just heard after his indictment is at least a shift in nuance from his past claims.


STONE: There`s no circumstances under which I would testify against the president.

There is no circumstance in which I intend to be pressured in order to testify against the president.

There is no circumstance under which I would testify against the president because I`d have to bear false witness against him.

I would predict that they want me to bear false witness against the president. I`m just telling you, that`s something that I`m not going to be pressured into doing.


MELBER: Well, let`s get right into it. I`m joined by David Corn, "Mother Jones" Washington Bureau Chief. He has a new piece of reporting on how Roger Stone did get involved in Russia`s attack during the 2016 elections, some of which is not even charged here. And former Federal Prosecutor John Flannery.


MELBER: David, Roger Stone is someone that you and many Washington reporters and myself have interacted with as a source for a long time. What do you think is the significance of the way he is coming out here playing big, bold, loud defense? And is this, as you view it, the end of the charges against him?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, Roger Stone is a proven liar. He said during the campaign he was in direct contact with Julian Assange about WikiLeaks and he claimed after that he wasn`t. And because of some of these lies, that`s why he`s been indicted.

So literally, I don`t think you could take him at his word on anything. He is a conspiracy theorist. He says LBJ killed JFK. And so for him, it`s all a show. For years, he has said with pride, with pride, that his personal mantra is admit nothing, deny everything.

So whatever he is coming out and saying on these shows and in front of his nice Fort Lauderdale home is really, in a lot of ways, irrelevant. I know we should cover it and talk about it, but there is no credence I think that you can give to any statement that Roger Stone makes.

MELBER: Well, I think you may be conflating relevance and credibility, which your co-counsel here knows are two very different concepts.

CORN: I`m the non-lawyer here, yes.

MELBER: I`m not trying to give you a hard time here. You`re all over the story. But David, I think the whole point is just as Michael Cohen lying in public or lying on television was a part of the story and his lying to Congress was a chargeable offense, Mueller seems to be bearing down on precisely the question of whether this was a high jinx and campaign exaggeration or lies --

CORN: Right.

MELBER: -- which are not usually charged or something more, David.

CORN: Well, I do think that Mueller makes a very strong argument here that his lie to Congress that he is being charged for, Roger Stone, is material, is significant, is important. His lie, people should remember, was designed to cover up the type of interaction he was trying to have with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. He lied about his intermediary with WikiLeaks.

And the big question which the indictment does not answer is why would he do that, for what reason --

MELBER: Bingo.

CORN: -- would he not tell the public that it was -- or even Mueller or Congress that it was Jerome Corsi, who has been your show and came up with a cover story that it was Randy Credico. We don`t know why Roger --

MELBER: And that`s --

CORN: -- did that.

MELBER: Bingo. That is the big question, John, is there indications of an answer?

FLANNERY: Yes. So I think there is certainly an indication of an answer here. I mean the way they lay out this false statement obstruction indictment at the beginning is to show that he, that is our boy Stone, was on notice that all this information was out there, that these were purloined digital black bag jobs on the DNC, the DCCC, and on Podesta.

And so all of that was known when he was doing what he was doing. I mean most other defendants have an epiphany when they`re indicted and think about cooperating. But Stone has been delusional so long and his trickster livelihood that I don`t think we can rely on anything he says about cooperating.

He`s basically saying, "I can cooperate but I would only tell the truth." And this is a guy who doesn`t tell the truth.

MELBER: Right --

FLANNERY: But I think that paragraph 12, there`s the connection, there`s the conspiracy we`re talking about. Paragraph 12, and I think it`s paragraph -- I have the thing in front of me, 35 and following. Basically, they lay out the connections with the campaign by which he is doing what he is doing that he lied about.

And there are a lot of people that say where is the conspiracy? Where is the collusion? I think people have spent so much time looking at this, they can`t believe when they have the information of the conspiracy that I think is found in the details in this indictment of Stone.

MELBER: You`re talking -- I mean now I feel like I`m in your class but --

CORN: Sure.

MELBER: --it`s a good instructor to have from what I can tell from the past times we`ve learned from you. You`re talking page 12, paragraph 23, the list of all the specific ways they sought help.


MELBER: Yes. I mean this is very interesting. What jumps out here, David again is the specificity. It`s not just oh, I heard something WikiLeaks broadly, dramatic, gossip which sources and political reporters do talk about. It is something much more specific that looks like what they call Stone`s efforts to get very specific information that could help Trump. David?

CORN: And the indictment raises the notion that senior levels of the Trump campaign have directed Stone or asked Stone to do this. So I proceed under the assumption that Mueller knows everything. He is kind of all-knowing in a lot of ways.

Maybe he doesn`t know all the details, and maybe he`ll get more details from all the material that was seized in the raid when they arrested Roger Stone. But he knows who these people are at the top of the Trump campaign that were directing Roger to try to reach out to WikiLeaks.

We don`t know. And so it`s hard for us to evaluate just how serious that is and whether that leads to a conspiracy charge of some type or not. But Mueller knows, and I assume, I hope that one day, hopefully, the Justice Department won`t get in the way of this, we the American people will find out too who was colluding with Roger Stone.

MELBER: Right. Well, you mentioned the Justice Department. John, the acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker speaking about this today. Now, I want to be clear with viewers, I`m about to play something that is brand- new but it doesn`t necessarily tell you where Mueller`s at. It just tells you where Matt Whitaker would like Mueller to be at.

FLANNERY: I think that`s right.

MELBER: So with that said, this is still the current acting attorney general of the United States. Take a listen.


MATT WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`ve been fully briefed on the investigation, and I look forward to Director Mueller delivering the final report. I am comfortable that the decisions that were made are going to be reviewed either through the various means we have. But right now, the investigation is I think close to being completed, and I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible.


MELBER: John, your view of those statements late today coming from the acting attorney general.

FLANNERY: Well, the Corn-Flannery Committee met in the green room before we came on the air. We decided that you don`t conduct the search of Roger Stone`s home with all of that information there that probably has to be decrypted and analyzed and then give a report in February. So I don`t think that`s going to happen quickly.

Also, you got to wonder about Matt Whitaker. I wonder if he was involved in the buzzkill or the "BuzzFeed" thing. That was a -- that thing I found distressing that they thought for the first time while we`re shifting attorney generals that they had to say anything about this investigation. So I think Matt Whitaker is a likable guy and not to be relied on to tell us where Mueller is in his investigation.

MELBER: Look, I appreciate a pun as much as the next guy. We`re not sure that it was a buzz kill if they were doing what they thought was the responsible act to correct a misperception. Although as always, with open probes, we just don`t know the entire picture.

The Committee of Corn and Flannery, we always like seeing you. I`m going to get to some other guests. So thanks to both of you.

FLANNERY: Thank you.

MELBER: I`m bringing two more guests you might recognize into the conversation. Here is the context. The White House today didn`t actually rule out a pardon for Roger Stone, something that`s been talked about a lot. On Friday, Stone did say, though, that he never discussed his testimony with Donald Trump.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT: The allegations as far as I can tell from reading it is that you lied to this congressional committee. Have you spoken to the president about this?

STONE: I have not. When the president answered the written interrogatories, he correctly and honestly said Roger Stone and I never discussed this and we never did.


MELBER: That may be true. But just think, how does Roger Stone know what Donald Trump told Mueller in those written interrogatories if he hasn`t even discussed with Donald Trump or his team, as he just claimed? Yesterday, Roger Stone had this to say about conversations with Trump.


STONE: I`d also testify honestly about any other matter, including any communications with the president. It`s true that we spoke on the phone but those communications are political in nature. They`re benign and there is certainly no conspiracy with Russia.


MELBER: I turn now to Mara Gay, editorial board member for "The New York Times" and Shelby Holliday who`s been all over this story for "The Wall Street Journal," including reporting on messages that Mr. Stone sent which have now -- I read them in some of your reporting and now I read them in the indictment as what Mueller says is evidence for witness tampering.

Thanks to both of you for being here. Take it away, having followed the story what is important now.

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I`ve been talking to legal experts throughout the day. And they said if Roger Stone goes and pleads not guilty as he claims he`s going to to do, it`s going to be really hard to face these charges in a trial because you have written evidence. We have that written testimony that he sent to the House Committee.

And if you recall, he was calling for his testimony to be public. He really wanted to testify openly. And it seems like now looking at what he testified to, that may be because he wanted to send a signal to other possible witnesses in the probe.

MELBER: Very important point you`re making. We have the debate about public and private. And I don`t think you can automatically, deduce anything. James Comey wanted, he said, his testimony public because he didn`t want it mischaracterized --

HOLLIDAY: Very true.

MELBER: Not necessarily because I have to think he had some fancy plot going. But you`re saying that might have been an elicit reason to match stories in public.

HOLLIDAY: It may have been. Because when you look at what he wrote in his written testimony -- for example, he said he had only asked Randy Credico to confirm that Assange was going to release damaging information about Hillary Clinton. But we reported months ago that he had actually asked Randy Credico to go find certain e-mails from Assange that would be exposing her in this big Benghazi plot.

So what he wrote in that testimony is provably false when you look at some of his e-mails and some of his text messages. He is out there saying that he is a human, he forgot, he didn`t -- he`s not perfect. And some of these text messages escaped him.

But when you look at the volume of the text messages, as well as some of the messages he exchanged with Jerome Corsi, who you`ve had on this show, to plant stories about Randy Credico. That looks like that points to intent, not only to tell a lie about your backchannel but to plant stories about him as well.

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, that`s an extremely important point that Shelby is making. It`s also interesting how specific his messages are. And I think, you know, that`s out there for the public to read. Anyone can read the indictment and it`s embarrassing.

But the thing that strikes me about Roger Stone is he`s the perfect example of the kind of hubris with which Trump and his aides have operated. I actually wrote a story back when I was at "The Wall Street Journal" a couple of years ago, almost two years to the date that Roger Stone was -- two years to the day before Roger Stone was arrested last week. And it was about Signal, which is an encrypted messaging app.

And you know, I interviewed Roger Stone for that piece because he is on the Signal app or was. And I didn`t even ask him about Russians at the time, but he volunteered this on the record glib kind of joking message about how he doesn`t -- by the way, he said, "No, I have not communicated with Russians on Signal."

And it`s just the kind of hubris that it takes I think to discuss things like that openly, given what we believe or what Bob Mueller believes he was up to is extremely striking. Eventually, you know, the public persona is going to clash with what happens in court. And so I just think it`s a moment of inflection and we`ll see. Look, innocent until proven guilty.

MELBER: Right. We always emphasize that. You`re referring to the role Mr. Stone plays. And I think viewer, some viewers remember that from the roles he`s played in decades past. Then there is the Trump version of it. If you`re saying, gosh, it feels like we`re at a circus. Well, it`s because we bought a circus ticket and there are elephants everywhere and, obviously, animal cruelty concerns as well, elephants or Randy Credico`s dog, take your pick.

But that`s what "Saturday Night Live" was spoofing and Stone then responding to this on his method of choice now which is Instagram. But this is the (INAUDIBLE).

Steve Martin being drafted in for, yes, the joke side. And the question`s how much of it is just a circus joke, or was it a kind of ridiculous cover for very real attempts to get a foreign power`s help to take out aspects of Hillary Clinton`s candidacy. Here was "SNL" on this, this weekend.


STEVE MARTIN, PORTRAYING ROGER STONE, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: What a fun couple of days. I`m loving the ride. Go, Nixon.

ALEX MOFFAT, PORTRAYING TUCKER CARLSON, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Mr. Stone, you had a harrowing past 36 hours. Your home was raided. You were arrested and charged with seven felony count, including lying to Congress.

MARTIN: It was four counts.

MOFFAT: The indictment says seven.

MARTIN: OK, I`m lying.


GAY: You can`t make this up. And I think actually for anyone who has worked for a tabloid in New York City, as I have, this is the only way that you can kind of believe what`s in front of your eyes because you know that truth is always stranger than fiction.

And anyone who has covered Donald Trump or any of his cronies for longer than five years has recognized Roger Stone as one of the many characters, colorful characters, kind of in his orbit. And this is -- they`re all provocateurs. This is what they do. It`s theater. The question is, were they undermining our democracy as you said behind it.

HOLLIDAY: And I`m going to also just point out, speaking of jokes, that`s a defense Roger Stone often gives. He said he was dining with Assange. Oh, it was a joke. I told Randy Credico to plead the fifth. Oh, that might have been a joke. So I would expect to see some of that in court as well if he does really plan to fight --

MELBER: And that`s what I thought was striking. In the way that Mueller quoted the text, the dog threats, the movie references, was we`re taking this serious as a heart attack. Bob Mueller is not finding those to be funny at this point. That`s what we know from the indictment.

GAY: Right.

MELBER: Mara and Shelby, thanks to both of you.

Coming up, a big shake-up, late-breaking news on Michael Cohen`s legal team. What does it mean for testimony Congress? We have news on both of those matters. House Intelligence Committee member joins me, coming up.

Also, my live interview as promised, with a key Mueller witness, a critical player in the case against Stone. That`s right here on THE BEAT. You won`t see it anywhere else tonight.

And my special report on something you may have missed. The actual cost of Donald Trump`s lies and falsehoods in the shutdown. A blunder so epic, his supporters are crying foul.


BILL MAHER: It`s 37 --

ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You want to get -- I`m telling you how to get Trump. He promised something for 18 months and he lied about it. That`s how you get Trump.

BILL MAHER, HOST, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: He just reversed himself. That`s a victory for Nancy Pelosi. She has just whipped the president of the United States.


MELBER: We`ll explain why that matters, coming up.

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


MELBER: Breaking news in more fallout from the Mueller probe. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen now will testify but behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee and they have a date as of tonight. First time we`re learning this. It will be February 8.

The chairman saying they will work to "protect" Cohen and his family after these well-publicized alleged threats from Donald Trump. All this comes as Cohen is hiring two new lawyers. Now, remember, he has formally admitted that he lied to the Intelligence Committee. And we`ve heard from some members of that committee saying there could be other liars that may get charged.

I`m joined now by Congressman Mike Quigley who serves on the Intelligence Committee. Congressman, what is the significance of this news, viewers who have been following this know there was talk about Cohen publicly testifying. It was his allegations that he was threatened by Donald Trump. Now, it`s private testimony. At a baseline level, is Trump getting what he wants out of this?

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don`t think so, ultimately. I mean I think in the end it would serve the American public well to hear Mr. Cohen testify. I mean, after all, he was the person who brought everything together, the political, the financial side, the personal side of the man they know to be president.

And here, he has said he had chosen darkness over light. This is his opportunity to shed some light on what actually took place. So I --

MELBER: But let me -- sir, let me push you on that. And I think a lot of people understand what you`re saying and why this is so important but you talk about light. The Democrats made a big deal out of having public testimony. The Democrats sent a letter saying the president may be committing a crime by tampering with Michael Cohen.

And now tonight, we`re not hearing about light for the American public. We`re hearing about a dark hearing.

QUIGLEY: Yes. There`s really -- both are possible. I think what`s going to happen, Mr. Cohen will be back before Congress many times. The fact is under the concerns he has, he is going to begin in closed testimony. And remember, much of what he can share is classified information that he couldn`t talk about at a public hearing.

I am all for a public meeting in which Mr. Cohen can testify. I think he`s probably getting past and dealing with the concerns, the safety concerns I think he legitimately feels. So I don`t think we have to preclude one or the other.

MELBER: Let me make sure --

QUIGLEY: I have no problems starting with the fact that we`re dealing with classified material.

MELBER: Yes, sir. I think that makes a lot of sense. Let me make sure I`m hearing you right. Are you saying that this could be a prelude to Michael Cohen testifying in public before he reports to his prison term?

QUIGLEY: I don`t know the when`s. I certainly encourage them to do that. They`re pushing against a lot of forces here. And I think the most extraordinary one is the fear that Mr. Cohen`s family feels, which is beyond comprehension that it`s coming from the White House.

So I wouldn`t tell the American public you`re not going to see Mr. Cohen. I am confident he will testify in an open hearing. I think he`ll begin with this closed hearing that is critical information about how finances worked and how money was funneled through the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign. The possibilities of money laundering, the role of Deutsche Bank.

MELBER: I take your --

QUIGLEY: It`s critical stuff. I don`t think we`ll get him in an open hearing. We need both.

MELBER: I take your point on all of that and some of it might even be better that way. I think we understand that I wanted to press on that. Let me put up on the screen for you and our viewers the number of people who have been before the committee.

Because one of your colleagues told us last week that there may be at least two other people who criminally lied to the committee. And there are a lot of folks on this list.

Some of them aren`t seen as necessary in that light base of what we know, such as Lewandowski, Caputo, Parskill and there are others who`ve been publicly questioned for whether they were fully truthful with you, Don Jr. up on the screen for example.

What do you think is important as we move forward? And do you agree with your colleague`s assessment that two or more people may have misled the committee?

QUIGLEY: Well, first, they`re absolutely right. The fact of the matter is, as you know, we had no one under subpoena. So Erik Prince, for example, just refused to answer certain questions, my question in particular. And if you -- Prince`s testimony was made public. Reading it on its face raises serious questions. And you also add the facts that we`ve learned after the fact in other discussions, somebody else is lying.

MELBER: So are you saying Mr. Prince is one of those at least two individuals?

QUIGLEY: In my mind, I have a reasonable belief that Mr. Prince was not completely candid with the committee. I also believe if, as we learned about the Trump Tower Moscow discussions, that the president`s spokesman`s acknowledged that they went well into the campaign season, something that Don Jr. said in published Senate testimony was not the case.

MELBER: Do you think he knew then that it was false at the time?

QUIGLEY: Look, what I`m suggesting is that not everybody can be telling the truth here, and there is reasonable suspicion that at least the two I mentioned should be brought back for further questioning.

MELBER: Well, that`s fascinating, especially since your committee has, obviously, the legal subpoena power to do that. Congressman, a lot of developments tonight. I really appreciate you taking the questions, sir.

QUIGLEY: Anytime. Thank you.

MELBER: Congressman Mike Quigley from the Intelligence Committee.

We`re going to turn now to Donald Trump`s lies and falsehoods backfiring. His supporters angry. Nancy Pelosi taking a victory lap. I`m going to get into why this matters in a special report when we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: From a wall to a cave, that is the core story of the new Trump/Pelosi era, because as you know, President Trump picked the largest battle of his presidency over the wall and shut down against the new speaker, and he completely caved on Friday at a cost we can tell you tonight to the economy that is roughly double what Trump requested for the wall in the first place.

Now Trump`s surrender here, bigger than a simple political failure. We are in, of course, month number one of Trump governing while another party has power in Congress. And Trump`s failed approach to this shutdown I think has revealed some of the costs of his hyperbole, false claims, the inflated threats, and yes, the documented lies.

And this may concern Trump`s own supporters. It may also show the Democrats` keys to beating him now that they have the House. And that brings us to tonight`s BEAT`s special report. Trump has now made 8,000 false statements or lies since taking the office, a record according to "The Washington Post."

And tonight, we want to break this down especially in two categories. One, Trump`s blatant lies about facts, about things we know that happened, but also, two, Trump`s false statements about what he will do, like whether he would cave on the wall which he did.

Now, the first category of lies are well-known. They are vintage Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans passed the biggest tax cut and reform in history.

We got tax cuts, biggest tax cuts in the history of our country.


MELBER: That`s false. Trump was on notice about it at the time and we could go through many of those examples, 8,000 if you want but we already know about them. Tonight I want to focus on these falsehoods from Trump about what he will do as president, the ridiculous pledges, the extreme threats, the broken promises, these hyped negotiation offers, because there are people who argue cynically that those lies will work because his supporters accept them and his reality no matter what.

But actually some of these lies and what I`m calling category two right now this month, they are blowing up in Trump`s face.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long are you willing to keep the government shut down in order to get --

TRUMP: As long as it takes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On day 35 of the shutdown President Trump in retreat deferring his fight for a border wall.

TRUMP: Now, the easy solution is for me to call a national emergency. I could do that very quickly.

I`m not looking to call a national emergency. This is so simple. We shouldn`t have to.

I am proud to shut down the government for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.

I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government.


MELBER: That deal had no money for the wall and nothing the Trump was demanding. It was the same deal he could have taken on day one. Now, these claims didn`t fool a lot of people. They didn`t fool Nancy Pelosi. They didn`t fool the majority of Americans. They didn`t even fool Trump`s most fervent supporters in the right-wing press.

Polling showed most Americans did oppose Trump on the shutdown. And then the media leaders of his own conservative base, many of whom took credit for Trump`s stance, they weren`t fooled by Friday`s announcement. Ann Coulter blasting Trump as a "wimp" for caving and then admitting on Friday night that he broke his wall promise.


ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Crazy that I expected a president to keep the promise he made every day for 18 months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re finding out he`s a lying con man. What was your first clue?

COULTER: OK, I`m very stupid girl, fine.


MELBER: Now, some conservatives on Fox News say it looks like Trump`s false pledges on the wall came from the wrong place, that he cared too much about people in the media criticizing him while Lou Dobbs says that reality shows Trump`s false pledge led him to a whipping from Pelosi.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think the President cares way too much about people in the media.

There are times when you have leverage, there are times you don`t, and this was a time in which he did not -- he did not have maximum leverage.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: I mean she has just whipped the President of the United States but you`ve got to call it as it is. This President said it was going to be conditional border security building that wall and he just reversed himself. To deny it he is to try to escape from reality and that we aren`t going to do here.


MELBER: Dobbs is pointing out that Trump`s false pledge hurt himself and his political allies because other people, other Republicans were putting their necks out based on Trump`s word. And this is where bluffing can blow up in your face. Here was one of Trump`s most loyal cheerleaders taking Trump`s word during the shutdown.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He`s not going to sign a bill that doesn`t have money for the wall. If he gives in now, that`s the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president. That`s probably the end of his presidency.


MELBER: The end of "his presidency" and that`s a Trump supporter talking. Now, of course, Trump signed a temporary bill that doesn`t have any money for the wall. And apparently, Pelosi made him because she found a way to break this cycle of false pledges or lies. Her philosophy was don`t give in. She decided that if she cared about this issue more than Trump, she would wait him out, not negotiate and try to meet in the middle of what she deemed a false pledge.

And that is what I want to get into tonight and why this is important because it may show a way forward for Trump`s opponents. In fact, even his own former supporters are saying so.


COULTER: You want to get --


COULTER: I`m telling you how to get Trump. He promised something for 18 months and he lied about it. That`s how you get Trump.


MELBER: That`s how you get Trump. He is clearly in some political trouble right now. You can tell when these takedowns of a broken pledge and reality-defying lies are coming from Ann Coulter and Lou Dobbs and Fox and Friends. Big picture, it is not every week that a president creates the longest shutdown in history and then caves by taking the exact offer he had at the start and draws critiques from the right left and center. Nor is it every week that a president looks for a way to hide that cave in plain sight by announcing it the day his longest-serving advisor is indicted. But as you know, I guess that`s the way we live now.

And it has of course also become something of a cliche to say, oh, but Trump gets away with things and he`s not held accountable for his lies. But look at the facts. Six former aides indicted, an open criminal probe, his team is not getting away with everything. Roasted and toasted for broken promises by conservatives which shows that the falsehoods did hurt him in the shutdown fight.

So you know, Trump`s lawyers, they always say they don`t want him to talk or to testify because Mueller would spring a perjury trap. But Trump is in trouble because of lies he told all by himself. He is living in a perjury trap house he built himself. And maybe that`s very 2019 as well from a wall to a cave to a trap house. Legally it`s too early to know if Trump made any false statements that amount to perjury. Politically, some of Trumps own supporters say it`s too late to put up with his false statements anymore.


COULTER: You want to get --


COULTER: I`m telling you how to get Trump. He promised something for 18 months and he lied about it. That`s how you get Trump.



MELBER: Bob Mueller may have indicted Roger Stone for many reasons, but when it comes to witnesses against Stone, the indictment relies on two, a radio host who interviewed Julian Assange called Person Two and a conservative author and conspiracy theorist who talked to Stone and is cited over two dozen times as Person One, and that is Mueller witnessed Jerome Corsi, my next guest. He has been in the news a lot since Stone`s arrest on Friday.


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN: On Friday, Person Number One revealed his identity, it is Jerome Corsi.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Stone communicate with conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Asked Jerome Corsi to lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roger Stone says the guy on the right is how he tried to contact WikiLeaks. Actually, it was the guy on the left.


MELBER: The guy on the left has provided 40 hours of testimony of Mueller`s team making him a key witness according to Mueller in the probe. That`s a conclusion we reached on this show before the indictments cited Corsi so much. It`s why we interviewed him about his alleged activities regarding Stone, Assange, and Mueller, including Corsi`s Wednesday interview that did appear to bother Stone who you can see right here posted a picture of the interview with a caption calling Corsi "Judas." Stone posting on Thursday the same day Mueller was filing a sealed indictment against him based on that same Jerome Corsi AKA, Judas, AKA Person One.

With me is Jerome Corsi. We will refer to you as you were referred to legally as Person One, not the other name.

CORSI: I prefer to use my legitimate name Jerome Corsi.

MELBER: Thank you for coming back, sir.

CORSI: Great pleasure, Ari, thank you.

MELBER: Given what we`ve seen now in the evidence in this indictment, let me ask you point blank very clear, are you in Roger Stone`s telling the actual intermediary to WikiLeaks?

CORSI: No, I`m not. I don`t have any tie to WikiLeaks. I`m never -- as I said repeatedly, I`ve never spoken to Julian Assange, I never communicated with him directly or indirectly, and so it`s impossible that I will be Roger Stone`s linked to Julian Assange.

MELBER: Is there anything in here about your dealings that you think is wrong in this indictment?

CORSI: I think it`s entirely correct --

MELBER: If it`s -- if it`s --

CORSI: And consistent -- and consistent with my 40 hours --

MELBER: Consistent. And you gave a lot of testimony. If this is entirely correct, doesn`t this state that essentially Roger Stone took what he did with you and then tried to blame it on another person, Person Two.

CORSI: Well, it sounds like that. But Ari, that`s really -- all I know and I`m --

MELBER: It does sound like that.

CORSI: It does but what I`m sticking to is what I can testify to. And I`ve said that I`ll be willing to testify and I`m going to tell the truth and everything that`s in that statement, I affirm is true.

MELBER: Right. And that goes to your testimony. Let me read from this because it starts out real simple which is Roger Stone is accused of bad things and lying about them. But then you get into the details and here it is. Mueller saying Stone directed Person One, that`s you, not Person Two to contact the head of WikiLeaks.

Person One, not Person Two told Stone the word his friend in the embassy plans two more dumps. So when Roger Stone was out bragging about his intermediary access to WikiLeaks, perhaps unbeknownst to you, according to Mueller, he was actually referring to you.

CORSI: I think that`s quite possible. I mean, it`s taking me a long time to kind of sort through that but it does seem to fit together.

MELBER: And why does Roger lie about all this according to Mueller?

CORSI: You know, I just don`t know. As I said many times, I failed to take the mind-reading course at Harvard. You`ll just have to ask Roger.

MELBER: People always wonder if that`s just your way of H-bombing which means citing Harvard.

CORSI: No, it`s true. I mean, the fact is I don`t know what Roger is thinking. You`ll have to ask Roger.

MELBER: Here is some of what Roger is saying. I want to play this for your benefit.

CORSI: Sure.

MELBER: It is a Fox News interview and he`s speaking about you, Jerome Corsi. Take a look.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Who do you expect the prosecutor will indict next if anyone? Where is this going?

STONE: Well, I have no idea. They seem to be in hot pursuit of Dr. Jerry Corsi. Dr. Corsi said a number of things about me that are not true but he says he won`t testify against the President and a research memo the Jerry Corsi wrote me regarding the Podesta`s extensive and lucrative business dealings in Russia is not a cover-up because no cover-up was required.


MELBER: Your response.

CORSI: Well, I don`t -- I don`t anticipate being indicted now. I think it`s far less likely. The indictment for Roger Stone indicates no wrongdoing on my part. And secondly, if I`m going to be used as a witness or even if my e-mails are going to be used as a witness, I don`t think it`ll serve Mueller`s purpose to indict me and undermine my credibility.

MELBER: So that`s very important. You had previously said you were willing to fight this and afraid of dying in jail. You have some foundation for some of that fear because Mueller sent you a written draft indictment --

CORSI: Which I rejected.

MELBER: Which you rejected. Now, I could tell you a lot of people if they get from Bob Mueller a written statement of how they`d be indicted, they would be very concerned. Now, tonight, after the Stone indictment comes out, you`re saying you think it`s less likely that you`ll be indicted. Do you have assurances from Mueller`s team to that effect?

CORSI: No, I`ve heard nothing from Mueller`s team. This is my own assessment of the situation. I could be totally wrong but I think it`s much less likely today. When Mueller was really incensed and one of the prosecutors Aaron Zelinsky after I refused to accept the plea deal told my attorney David Gray, we`ll take it from here. That was the end of November.

MELBER: And you haven`t heard and your team has not heard from them since?

CORSI: No, we have not.

MELBER: Is it accurate in your -- in your experience to characterize that what happened was the Mueller team put pressure on you, threatening to indict you, seeking cooperation. You rebuffed any plea offer but still provided extensive cooperation and it seems now they`re treating you as a cooperating witness. That is to say treating you well.

CORSI: Well, I think that`s -- there`s a good logic to that. First of all, I always went in to cooperate. As I said, I provided them everything on a proffer, my computers, my backup, you know, also those computers, cell phones, e-mail accounts, everything. It fell apart of the 40 hours because Mueller was convinced I to have a link, a tie to direct -- to Julian Assange.

After 20 hours a detail this in silent no more that in fact we couldn`t find anyone. I certainly couldn`t find anyone searching all my context in 2016 and really trying hard to say maybe this person may have indirectly -- or didn`t know I was getting information from Assange. We finally came up with Noah and David Gray said to Aaron Zelinsky and the others if you`ve got anybody tell us because I was willing to acknowledge it, could we see it.

MELBER: And final question.

CORSI: Sure.

MELBER: Do you have evidence or observation that suggests Roger Stone sought WikiLeaks helped in timing the release of the e-mails around the Access Hollywood Tape?

CORSI: I can`t prove that at all. I mean, I had one call from Roger. As I recall it, Roger disputes this, on the day that we could begin in October dropping the final e-mails on John Podesta in which Roger was essentially saying we`ve got this timing issue as a Billy Bush tape is going to be released and we`d like to have Assange begin releasing e-mails now.

MELBER: Stone said that to you.

CORSI: That`s my recollection.

MELBER: And you -- did you tell the Mueller folks that?

CORSI: Yes. We -- that was --

MELBER: And were they interested in that?

CORSI: Absolutely.

MELBER: Because doesn`t that sound like Roger Stone as a confidant of Donald Trump explicitly not seeking information which you can make a reporting defense of but actually trying to collude with WikiLeaks to release things in a way that would explicitly help the campaign and solve one problem.

CORSI: Well, there was no one I could contact and we went through the entire list. As they say in my book, I think I mentioned it to the world that daily staff meeting that day.

MELBER: But does that look like attempted collusion?

CORSI: That`s going to be a conclusion the jury is going to come to. What I`m going to do, Ari, is when it comes to that question, if I`m on the stand, I`m going to tell the truth right as I did to the grand jury.

MELBER: Well, I`m going to fit in a break, sir. If you told the Mueller folks what you just said you did, I could see why Roger Stone is calling you "Judas" although we are not here. We are reporting on everything we`re learning as it comes. I could see why he`s upset with you.

CORSI: Well, I understand and I again, resolved my goal here is not to please Roger Stone, it`s to testify with the truth to the best of my ability and that`s what I`m going to do regardless where the chips may fall.

MELBER: Understood. A Mueller witness in the news right now, Person Number One Dr. Jerome Corsi. Thank you for coming on THE BEAT.

CORSI: My pleasure. Thank you.

MELBER: Up ahead, we have something else. An NBC exclusive, undocumented workers who were terminated from a Trump property in their employment. They`re speaking out about what Trump knew at the time even as he talked against companies hiring undocumented workers.


KATE SNOW, NBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think they knew at the club that your documents were false?


MELBER: New reporting exposing the Trump organization for hiring and then firing undocumented workers. Washington Post revealing that during the shutdown over the wall, the Trump Organization fired 12 different people, undocumented workers at the Trump National Golf Club in New York. NBC`s Kate Snow spoke exclusively to some of those people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They asked me again, are you legal working here. I told them, no. So they, after that, say like, so they company, they cannot keep you there.


SNOW: Otso anos. Eight years at the club.


SNOW: Margarita Cruz recorded her meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The club must end its employment relationship with you today.


MELBER: Now, these workers say that they did use fake green cards which is a violation of, of course, the rules as well as fake security cards in order to get the job, but they also allege a hands-off process by the Trump Organization for hiring.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They take a copy and they don`t ask anything.

SNOW: They didn`t ask any question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Any questions, no nothing.

SNOW: You worked there almost 14 years. Did you meet President Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, many times.

SNOW: Do you think they knew at the club that your documents were false?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s like what I think. Like -- because they need employees and like they don`t check like really good --


MELBER: That`s a key question, was this a knowing a practice? No report of the other side. Eric Trump tells NBC they have strict hiring practices. They take this all very seriously. An if an employee submits false documentation to circumvent the rules, they`ll be terminated. Now, one of the workers think Trump himself must have known all about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot like be sure about that but like he got to know.

SNOW: You think the President must have known?



MELBER: Of course, the "he" there is Donald Trump. The timing suspicious with the wall fight and a presidency that has long focused on attacking the undocumented.


TRUMP: We will build a great wall and we will put an end to illegal immigration.

We will buy American and we will hire American.

What American workers win, America as a country wins.



MELBER: Quite a Monday. That`s our show. Don`t go anywhere. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.