Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: February 8, 2019 Guest: Jerry George, Joe Crowley, Havoc, Maya Wiley; Neal Katyal; Karen Bass
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Today, Bob Mueller is trying to gag Roger Stone. And we have brand new video of Stone`s arrest last month. This unusual video shows Roger Stone surrendering in the early morning FBI raid. You can see him there with his hands up. This is the first time we`re seeing an arrest in the Mueller probe play out on camera.
So let`s look at this exact scene as it played out. This was the morning of January 25th. And what you`re seeing there on the screen are these FBI agents, long guns drawn, their faces only blurred for the sake of the media coverage.
This video was put out by Roger Stone himself. And so what we`re watching now, what the public is seeing for the first time ever is Roger Stone`s morning, Friday, January 25th. The information we have suggests this all began around 6:50 a.m. in the morning.
And what you`re seeing here is not something most people ever see. It`s not something we`ve seen with any other person arrested in the Mueller probe because no one else had security footage to leak. What you see on the right side there is the agent making that first knock, the guns drawn.
According to the information we have, there were over 10 different agents here outside Roger Stone`s front door. And they knock repeatedly and they wait. The two agents here at the very front obviously mean business.
What you see here is them with their guns drawn waiting to see what comes out the other side of the door. Now -- then you see the door open and you see them engage Mr. Stone. This is him there. His hands go immediately up. This is what you`re supposed to do in complying.
And although we don`t have sound, we understand enough was conveyed to him to put his hands behind his back where you see another agent, this is the third agent we can see in the video cuffs Mr. Roger Stone, moves the door which is part of the video again that we`re getting for the first time out in front.
This is after Mr. Stone has complied and has been put under arrest. And is, of course, being held there with his hands behind his back. Pretty soon after this, we`re going to see something else that was interesting here. That goes to where we are between reality and production.
The reality is this was a very real raid with real guns and real agents and a real person, who like anyone, wouldn`t want to wake up this way. But it also is a production. We have this video because Mr. Stone has leaked it to Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a Conservative media conglomerate.
And soon you`ll see him come back out wearing a t-shirt designed for public consumption because this was a day many were waiting, a t-shirt that says "Roger Stone did nothing wrong." There it is on the left side of your screen as he`s walked back in.
Again, the video we`re getting from Roger Stone and he`s escorted in there by an agent wearing the traditional protective. This is the very first time we`ve seen how Mueller`s team operates when they go in lawfully because we know they had a sealed arrest warrant from the day before to deal with a target in their probe. And the video you`re looking at here that we think is quite extraordinary is only out because Roger Stone has released it now, this week, to a conservative outlet.
Now, why? Why, beyond what we`ve seen, and the drama of it, are we seeing this? Well, part of it is very clear. And I want you to understand this as we cover it.
This is part of Roger Stone`s attempt to build on the criticism of how agents treated him. And this is what I`ll say about that. You can now assess with your own eyes what the scene looks like. We`ll bring in experts as well.
And you can compare it to what Stone has been saying. Because he likened himself to a suspect roughed up on par with deceased Osama bin Laden. And the tactics that you just saw, well, he says they are like Nazi secret police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: To storm my house with a greater force than was used to take down bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, to terrorize my wife and my dogs, is unconscionable. This was an egregious overreach by Mr. Mueller. These are Gestapo tactics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Gestapo tactics. Now the video is coming out as today Roger Stone is fighting a possible gag order from a judge. The Mueller prosecutor seeking one in the court filing today, new tonight. Stone`s lawyer says this would be an "unconstitutional violation of Stone`s right to work, to pursue his livelihood, and to be part of the public discourse." Their brief also cites Kim Kardashian arguing Stone is not nearly as popular or as big a public figure in saying a gag would unfairly silence their client`s voice.
And we`ve reported before that Roger Stone has a point when it comes to freedom of speech. But then there is another filing I want to show you today, as Stone is in the news, where he makes a broader claim that his case is now in his view not even "related" to those dozen Russians that Mueller indicted for hacking Democrats.
Stone trying to force Bob Mueller into some sort of response, perhaps to reveal more of his hand and trying to get as well the judge thrown off this case. All of this as we see what it looks like when Bob Mueller sends agents to your door.
We have a lot on the show tonight, including Neal Katyal joining me shortly. But on this, I want to begin one on one with our own Maya Wiley, a former civil prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. Nice to see you.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER CIVIL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Good to see you, Ari.
MELBER: When you look at the tactics on the video, we rarely see a video like this, do they look like normal and traditional to you? Or do you see anything wrong with law enforcement`s approach at the door?
WILEY: This was a textbook noneventful arrest. And what I mean by that is -- what is eventful is only obviously that they thought there was some possibility of violence and that`s why they had the guns. Why? We don`t know.
But everything they did from walking, you see they have their guns, they`re ready to use them if they need them. They knock on the door. You see other agents standing farther back who do not appear to have their guns drawn.
They`re being protected by the two agents who are in the front in case there are any shots fired by someone. You see them knock on the door. And then it`s very peaceful.
And the fact we know from one of the journalists from "CNN" who overheard and witnessed this part of the video that the exchange between the agents and Roger Stone sounded cordial. That was the description of a witness who was a journalist. So all we`re seeing here is a straightforward noneventful arrest.
MELBER: Right. And that goes on both sides. The police were able -- in this case, federal police, FBI, were able to discharge their duties without force.
And Mr. Stone did what you are supposed to do, whether you think your arrest is fair or not. Everyone has an obligation in this country to comply and he did. He put his hands up and he complied in this situation.
WILEY: That`s correct.
MELBER: Put this against the fight in court today. Bob Mueller trying to partially gag Roger Stone. Roger Stone trying to get the judge thrown off the case. And then he`s also doing this thing I mentioned of saying, "Well, I`m not -- this isn`t related to the Russian indictment at all."
WILEY: Yes. I find this fascinating because, first of all, in that video, you see how Roger Stone uses the media to advance his narrative that will advantage his court case because he`s wearing his t-shirt, right? And by the way, they use the Twitter, Twitter and Kim Kardashian statistic to suggest that somehow they`re going to deny him of livelihood and gag him.
And I agree with you. First Amendment rights are extremely important. The judge made very clear that if she were gagging, it would be very narrowly and specifically to the case itself. And anything that would materially make the possibility of the trial to be unfair. Including for him, by the way, because it would gag both sides.
He doesn`t want to be gagged because he wants to continue to use the media. This is the appearance that he`s creating. He wants to use the media. He is a person who has always used the media to drive a narrative that advances whatever outcome he wants. And that`s exactly one of the things that a judge has to worry about.
MELBER: Right. He wants to use this potentially to impact the case which is where the judge`s concern comes in. Although I`ve reported on the fact that there`s certainly precedents that go the other way, that could be helpful to Mr. Stone, whatever you think he did.
Now, as you know, we don`t try to be petty or messy on this show. So I don`t want to be petty. But we have to note that while he invokes the fact that he doesn`t have a Twitter account, for his argument he was kicked off of Twitter for violating their terms for things he said about people.
WILEY: When he`s 17, including saying about Don Lemon that he should be humiliated, mocked and punished.
WILEY: Right? And now, he`s saying this about a black man in America, by the way, at a time when hate crimes were also on the rise. So this was not a small thing that he was pulled off Twitter.
The other thing is he has -- there is a Twitter account with Roger Stone`s name, last I saw, it was still up, that had 20,000 followers. The average number of Twitter followers for anyone is 707.
MELBER: Right. He`s --
WILEY: So to sort of argue that he doesn`t have any kind of public presence because he`s not on par with the Kim Kardashian is not the standard that Judge Jackson has to worry about. In fact, she has to worry about a jury poll that she`s pulling from Washington, D.C. It`s a fairly small geographic area. And any news can influence that pool because national news is national news and anyone can consume it.
MELBER: Sure. No. I think the Twitter reference in the brief today was the legal equivalent of a t-shirt, which is it was offered more for everyone outside the courtroom than perhaps the judge. I want you to stay with me.
As you know, we`re turning to the other big story, this explosive hearing on the Hill. And this story is important because it`s all about Mueller`s boss, Trump`s acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.
Now, he`s famously criticized the Mueller probe before taking over. There was a barrage of questions about the conversations about Mueller that he may have had with Trump and whether he would open up about them.
Now, Democrats on the committee pressed him on the conversations, as well as what else did he talk to the inner circle or the Trump family about before he took on this post of acting attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes- or-no, at any point since that briefing, have you communicated any information you learned in that briefing to President Trump?
MATT WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Chairman, I know that there is a unique --
NADLER: It`s a yes-or-no question.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Have you ever attempted to use any intermediaries to get information to the president or others on his staff?
WHITAKER: Congresswoman --
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA: It`s a yes or no. Please, my time is running out.
WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I would just point to a letter --
DEAN: And I`ve waited a long time. It`s a yes or no.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLANDS: Have you had conversations about what you learned? That`s a yes or a no.
WHITAKER: Congressman, I have -- I spend all day every day talking --
CICILLINE: Mr. Whitaker, my question is very specific.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s what it looked like up and down the hearing. Democrats hammering him. Things also got a little uncomfortable when he tried some deflection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: In your capacity as acting attorney general, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?
WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up and so I`m -- I`m sorry. What was your -- I don`t know if your time has been restored or not.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Mr. Attorney general, we`re not joking here. And your humor is not acceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to bring in Neal Katyal who`s the former acting solicitor general. He also wrote the rules that govern Mueller`s special counsel probe. And Maya Wiley, obviously still with us for this conversation.
What did we learn today through this hearing? The first time that Matt Whitaker has been under oath in public in this role.
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: I think we learned two remarkable things. One, the preposterousness of this man being the attorney general of the United States. When you saw someone who is so unqualified, he shouldn`t be the attorney general of 30 Rock, 3 Rock.
A 7th grader would have done a better job, a more respectful job than what he did. It was arrogant. It was irresponsible. And it really calls into the question the president`s judgment for putting this man at the head of the hallowed Department of Justice, where both of us worked.
I mean I did two tours there, and you know, I would be -- if someone asked me to be acting attorney general, I would be like no, I don`t think I`m ready. But literally, anyone is ready compared to this guy. It was a grave, grave thing. That`s number one.
And then number two, interference. All he said over and over again was, i didn`t interfere with Mueller. But members of Congress, they really went after him and said, "But what about the Southern District investigation?"
That`s the one in which the president has been directly implicated in federal felonies. And never once after many questions are asked did he ever say I didn`t interfere, I let that one go.
MELBER: I hate to ask a question like this to someone as esteemed as yourself. But didn`t he also at times seem to be leaning into being a "jerk"?
KATYAL: Well, I don`t want to characterize the motivation. But it did feel like the one thing that was going on there was he was playing for an audience of one. And that audience is Donald Trump. And what he`s trying to do, Ari, it seems to me is get another job at the Justice Department, maybe deputy attorney general or something like that.
MELBER: That`s interesting. You`re saying that part of the reason why he looked so out of step with everything is that he was, according to many, well out of his league with this big job. So going back to being number three or something would be a good thing for him and Trump might help him hold on to that.
MELBER: Yes. I knew Neal was not going to lean into a personal characterization of this individual but it struck out to me, I mean contrast it to Bill Barr, there`s a wide debate over the way that Mr. Barr views the special counsel rules which you`ve wrote and what he`s going to do with transparency at the end of this thing.
But I was sitting in the room like many other people covering it and Mr. Barr conducted himself at all times professionally. Clearly, you know, normally, you might Say.
WILEY: And was willing to say that the Mueller probe was not a witch hunt. Christopher Wray has said it and William Barr said it. And today, we did not hear those words.
MELBER: For your analysis, let`s play that and get you to build on that point. But for the viewers, let`s - you watched the thing. Not everyone has had a chance yet. Here was that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Are you overseeing a witch hunt?
WILLIAM BARR, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: It would be inappropriate for me to talk about an ongoing investigation.
Do you agree with the president`s statement that the Russia investigation is a witch hunt?
As I mentioned previously, Congressman, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment about an ongoing investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILEY: So here we have, to your point, Ari, William Barr absolutely directly saying this is not a witch hunt. Robert Mueller is a person of the highest integrity. He is someone I know.
He did everything to reinforce the integrity of the institution and the integrity of the investigation. Even though he had those statements that some find troubling. And we couldn`t even get that today from Mr. Whitaker.
The other thing he did though, that I also find incredibly problematic is he fed this sort of subtext of a conspiracy on the Roger Stone arrest. Because of the issue about how did the journalists know to be outside of Roger Stone`s home when he was arrested. And we know from the journalist, they`ve said -- and look, if they had a source, they would say we had a source, we won`t divulge who our source was.
What they said is, "We`ve been paying attention. We`ve been watching. Everyone`s been known for months that Roger Stone might get indicted. We got lucky."
And yet he allowed without -- as someone who could pick up the phone and get an answer to the question about whether there were any leaks out of his shop because it would have been a huge violation for that to have happened with the sealed indictment. And yet --
KATYAL: So what I would say is, and maybe a little bit of pushback on Maya, psychologists talk about framing effects, the idea that sometimes you show someone an extreme option and it makes the middle one look good. And like real estate agents will show you a dumpy house and then that other one looks a lot better.
I`m a little worried --
MELBER: That`s how we -- this is how we book Fallback Friday.
MELBER: Go ahead.
KATYAL: I`m a little worried about Whitaker and Barr here. I mean Whitaker is so atrocious that by contrast, anyone is going to look better including this coffee cup.
But I think the point about Barr did a better job, a more professional job but make no mistake, he is also very dangerous when it comes to protecting the investigation. Not the Mueller investigation, which he did say some good things about, but the Southern District investigation.
MELBER: Right. And the Southern District is where the "National Enquirer" stuff is blowing up. It`s where the immunity is blowing up.
Both of you stay with me. And Maya is shaking her head like she may have more to say in response to your response. That`s why it`s television.
So we`re going to bring you back. I`m going to fit in a break. I`m also going to add in Congresswoman Karen Bass who was part of those very hearings grilling Whitaker today and the discussion of what comes next on the probe.
Later, the feds reviewing whether Trump`s long-time ally, the publisher at "The National Enquirer" should lose his immunity deal in, yes, the Southern District which Neal just mentioned. All of this related to those Jeff Bezos blackmailing allegations.
Also, new signs Speaker Pelosi could be winning again, this time cornering Trump on the border wall. We have a man who knows a lot about Pelosi and knows how to win in Washington, former Congressman Joe Crowley. And he`ll also be part of a very special Fallback Friday with, of course, Havoc from Mob Deep.
I`m Ari Melber. Don`t go anywhere. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: There is a lot going on in Washington right now. And we have more on the firing hearing for Donald Trump`s acting attorney general, taking questions from Democrats in Congress for the first time.
And Congresswoman Karen Bass was one of them. She serves on the Judiciary Committee and she was all over the hearing. Thank you for being here. You questioned Whitaker on his role regarding ethics complaints that were filed for a conservative group. Let`s look at that.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITAKER: We did file ethics complaints against members of both parties.
BASS: You filed ethics complaints against Republicans? Can you tell me which Republicans you filed ethics complaints against?
WHITAKER: All of -- again, you know, I`m here for an oversight hearing.
BASS: Yes, you are. And so my questions are leading to that. So can you answer that?
WHITAKER: Fact. filed all of its complaints on its website and I would refer you to that.
BASS: I don`t have time to look into the website. I`m asking you a question now. You were the executive director.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was one of the tense moments. The congresswoman, as I mentioned, is here along with Neil Katyal as well. What were you driving at in that exchange?
BASS: So what my concern was he`s the executive director of this organization right before he joined the DOJ. And he had a long list of Democrats that he had investigated, including one of the members of the Judiciary Committee, Representative Hank Johnson.
And so how could he be objective in investigating Democrats? I don`t believe they investigated any Republicans. Otherwise, he would have been able to have named some.
He goes into the Justice Department. And so did he initiate investigations against these same Democrats while he`s in the Justice Department?
I think the overall thing with him is that we don`t really view him as a legitimate person to take that role. We viewed him as essentially the overseer of Jeff Sessions as opposed to being his chief of staff. He was a hack who was working on behalf of the president, watching over Jeff Sessions. And when Jeff Sessions leaves, he takes the position.
Like one of my other colleagues pointed out, what were his qualifications to even be in that job in the first place?
MELBER: And that`s a theme that`s come up from people, even people who have a lot of deference to the idea that the president can pick who he wants for a range of posts.
MELBER: Let me play for you another point that you and your colleagues were pressing which was whether he was hiding conversations with Donald Trump about these open probes in New York which are back in the news in a big way tonight. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASS: I want to know whether you talked to President Trump at all about the Southern District of New York`s case involving Michael Cohen?
WHITAKER: Congresswoman, as I`ve mentioned several times today, I am not going to discuss my private conversations with the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What are we to take from that in your view?
BASS: Well, his overall strategy throughout the whole hearing was to run out the clock, which is why he had to preface every answer with a long explanation. He couldn`t answer "yes" or" "no." So to me, that was the same thing.
He was avoiding answering anything, which is pretty much the way he handled himself throughout the whole hearing. He was incredibly arrogant and disrespectful, especially to the chair of the committee.
MELBER: I know what he said too. And look, I worked as an aide in the Senate and there`s plenty of brawling that goes on.
MELBER: Even by that standard, I have to tell you just my observation was he was remarkably rude. He was at times just a jerk to the people asking fairly straightforward questions. I suppose we should note that, rather than just ignore it. Although it sounds itself a little mean to observe.
Stay with me. I want to bring in Neal Katyal who, as you know, served at high levels in the Justice Department and play for you another exchange about pardons that`s especially relevant given what Mueller folks just told the court about Manafort. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Have there been any discussions at the department about pardons?
WHITAKER: Congressman, since I`ve been acting attorney general, I`ve not been involved in any discussions of any pardons.
Did you ever create, direct the creation of, see or become aware of the existence of any documents relating to pardons of any individual?
WHITAKER: I am aware of documents related to the pardons of individuals, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: One of those moments where a good question forces him under oath to actually figure out if he is. This comes as we`re learning a story that any other night might be the top story in the country, the president`s former campaign chair who`s busted for breaking his plea agreement is now in court facing allegations from Mueller that he was lying to them in the hopes of a recent attempted pardon.
KATYAL: Exactly. So yesterday night, we learned about this. The sealed transcript was released in redacted form and this is of the Paul Manafort, who`s the campaign manager for Trump, his His plea deal and whether or not he complied with it or not.
And in there, at page 84, there`s a remarkable thing. I don`t think we`ve ever seen anything like this. A Mueller prosecutor is saying one of the reasons Manafort may have lied was in order to help his bid for a pardon with President Trump.
Now, up until this point, there`s been a lot of speculation that the president and his lawyers have been dangling pardons in exchange for more favorable witness testimony and the like. John Dowd, his attorney, was accused of that with Michael Flynn and with Paul Manafort a year and a half ago.
But here now, we actually have a Mueller prosecutor saying look this might have happened in some way, shape or form. Now, it`s redacted. We e don`t know everything. But boy, that`s a big, big deal.
MELBER: You put it so clearly. Congresswoman, I`m over on time but I want to give you the benefit of responding to that. There is a wide, broad pardon power. But if it were being offered in exchange for a potential federal crime according to Mueller`s folks, would that in your view be an abuse of power?
BASS: Absolutely. And I don`t have any doubt that that`s exactly what happened. I don`t have the proof, but do I have doubt? I don`t.
MELBER: Congresswoman Bass who`s all over the hearing there, thank you for sharing with us your views. Neal Katyal, thank you.
Trump ally and "National Enquirer" Chief David Pecker has faced this new blackmailing and extortion allegations regarding stolen photos from Jeff Bezos. It could impact his immunity deal right here in the Southern District of New York.
In 30 seconds, I bring in a former editor for "The Enquirer" to get into it.
MELBER: The richest man in the world released evidence that the "National Enquirer" tried to blackmail him with stolen explicit pictures and the whole story could add more gasoline on this federal probe that impacts Michael Cohen and Donald Trump.
This story has been everywhere since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went public last night. Now, prosecutors probing the tabloid leader that Bezos put on blast. You may have heard of him, Trump ally, David Pecker. He stands accused of crimes that could even end the immunity deal that he famously got from New York prosecutors.
Now, today, Pecker`s company insists all of this was done lawfully. Pecker though is in hot water over the kind of intrigue that got him in hot water in the first place, allegedly using the " National Enquirer" as a way to attack enemies and reward allies because we already know that feds were probing how he arranged for the "Enquirer" to spend six figures buying stories from women linked to Trump like former Playboy model Karen McDougal in order to hide her story for Trump.
And, of course, the president had denied involvement. But then, those leaked tapes revealed Donald Trump talking to his lawyer Michael Cohen about, listen for it, their friend David, David Pecker, which exposed that Trump was involved in the funding and also thinking about what would happen to the secrets David kept if he were ever struck by a truck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP`S LAWYER: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David. So that, I`m going to do that right away. I`ve actually come up -- and I`ve spoken
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give it to me and --
COHEN: And, I`ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with funding --
TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this, one-fifty?
COHEN: Yes. And it`s all the stuff.
TRUMP: Yes, I was thinking about that.
COHEN: All the stuff. Because -- here, you never know where that company -- you never know what he`s --
TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct. So, I`m all over that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Now David Pecker has been hit by the informational equivalent of a Mac-10 truck and new allegations from Bezos` camp that a government entity may have stolen his messages and sent them to Pecker`s operation. So there are many avenues for prosecutors here.
David Pecker was involved in hustling people to help Trump then he flipped and told on the people he worked with. Why does someone like that start telling on people? As Rick Ross once explained it. Major league who catching because I`m pitching, Jose Canseco just snitching because he`s finished.
Well, Pecker looked finished and was testifying but the new evidence suggests Pecker may still be in the game either because he can`t help himself or because there was some other things so dangerous he would risk his own federal immunity deal to stop it from getting out.
Now, tonight, we don`t know what that thing would be, but we have heard the Enquirer`s own past employees air out their suspicions. In fact, a 28-year veteran of The Enquirer told us just two months ago another shoe would be dropping.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Do you think that AMI did act in concert with the Trump Organization -- Trump Campaign to break the law and should they be held accountable?
JERRY GEORGE, FORMER LA BUREAU CHIEF, NATIONAL ENQUIRER: I think they did and I think there is another shoe to drop. I mean, the Special Counsel`s focus is now moving towards you know, the Saudis role in all of this and they may not be -- they may not be out of trouble yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Jerry George, the Enquirer`s LA Bureau Chief for 28 years. As mentioned, he`s back with me now live and Maya Wiley for a legal perspective as well. Jerry, is this the other shoe?
GEORGE: Well, yes, it`s at least one shoe that`s going to drop. It was not -- it was not expected. The terms of the federal prosecutor was that American media needed only to keep their nose clean for three years. It turns out they couldn`t do it for even three months. I think that --
MELBER: Yes. Let`s pause on that point. Maya will give us more legal to expertise. But you`re saying they struck a deal to get David Pecker out of hot water despite all the bad stuff he`s accused of, what I was calling the hustling, and he just had to stop doing the bad stuff and you`re saying this is evidence he didn`t stop at all.
GEORGE: Exactly. It`s just was -- I think -- I think the appeal of President Trump is just too irresistible to him.
MELBER: What`s going on with the Saudis and this tabloid company?
GEORGE: That`s the story that`s unfolding as well. I mean, the Saudis are involved somehow in this deal. You know, we talked the last time about the special issue that American media put out seemingly from left field with the MBS on the cover and pictures of President Trump inside it was basically put out you know as a favor I think to someone and suddenly three months later American Media came into a windfall of enough money to buy their competitors. Was it Saudi money, who knows?
MELBER: Well, you were linked up with a lot of these people. Have you heard stories or evidence that suggests there may be something illicit with the Saudis and whether the Trump administration was in on it?
GEORGE: I think that the Trump administration and the Saudis are good friends and I think President Trump has proven that by his lack of -- the word escapes me. I`m --
GEORGE: Yes. Thank you.
MELBER: It`s what I do. I work with words. I mean, look, Jerry, you were very clear when you were last here that this company that`s known for a certain type of celebrity coverage out of the blue does a big puff piece super positive about Saudi leadership and the Prince.
Out of the blue in every supermarket in America, they`re not known for their foreign policy, and now you have Bezos The Washington Post the Trump connection. I want to be clear with viewers a lot more questions than answers tonight, Maya. But whether David Pecker took an extraordinary risk here is is I think one of the answers we have.
I want to read from this for your analysis. They signed an agreement that said as was just mentioned, they have to be good for three years from the agreement or all prosecutions arising out of the conduct of the agreement could be revisited. Does this in your view based on what is known if the Bezos emails are real look like David Pecker back in legal trouble?
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
GEORGE: Well --
MELBER: Well, stay with me, Jerry, that one is for Maya. Go on.
GEORGE: Go ahead.
MELBER: Yes, and go on.
WILEY: Oh, I have to say more?
WILEY: Well, so look, what the Southern District will do of course we`ll investigate to determine whether or not they think it violates the federal statute, right? So I`m not suggesting they`re just going to run in there and claim that he committed a crime. They will investigate. But yes, they`re going to investigate aggressively, I would guess, because what this looks like on its face would fit the federal statute. And there are a couple of other crimes they`d have to look into. So for example, we don`t know how they got the material.
WILEY: Right? So that`s one question because there could have been mail or wire fraud in getting that material. We don`t know but that would be a category of crime. And then there`s -- say they got the text messages in some way that wasn`t unlawful, someone gave it to them, but that would still raise the question of the way they used it. If you are telling someone I`m going to damage your reputation unless you do this thing I want you to do, that could be interpreted as a thing of value --
WILEY: -- which is what the federal statute says, a thing of value.
MELBER: It looks hot. I mean, it looks a lot -- a lot worse than it did even 24 hours ago. Maya Wiley and Jerry George, thanks to both of you. We have a lot more as well, the Pelosi factor. Looks like she could be winning again on the wall. I have longtime Democratic power player who served with her in leadership. Former Congressman Joe Crowley is here next.
MELBER: Speaking of Nancy Pelosi riding high, new signs that her confrontational approach to Trump on the shutdown is continuing to pay off. Tonight, top Republicans saying they will avoid another shutdown regardless of Trump`s threats leading the headlines like this. Trump cornered on border wall assuming vindication of the Pelosi strategy. That`s policy when it comes to style.
Pelosi clapping in the State of the Union set Twitter a blaze showing many people think this 78-year-old Speaker still has a lot of what it takes and that her experience from all these previous political battles are working right now. Well, my next guest fought many of those battles alongside Pelosi rising with a fourth-ranked House Democrat, former Congressman Joe Crowley, 20 years in the House advocating things like universal health care, marriage equality, and progressive taxation. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK: American families need this bill now more than ever. In the past decade, the cost of health care for American families has simply skyrocketed. If we do nothing, it`s only going to get worse.
Is this bill about helping people who are living paycheck to paycheck? Hell no. If it looks like a scam, quacks like a scam, it is a scam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- has expired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There it is. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.
CROWLEY: Thanks. It`s nice to look at some of those old photos of me.
MELBER: You and Speaker Pelosi we`re both seen as pretty liberal doctrinaire Democrats. Is that the right approach to Trump? Is she winning?
CROWLEY: I think she is winning. I think that`s because anyone who underestimates Nancy Pelosi as a fool. And I think that that`s coming across clearly right now. I think the President I believe initially underestimated her. But I also think it`s a moral suasion that she`s brought to her speakership not only now but when she speaker before as well. She kept Democrats together and that`s not an easy thing to do.
MELBER: Well, let`s build on that. She kept them together but some of the stuff behind the scenes involves all kinds of strategy that she has. I want for your analysis to show you where some of the new most progressive members are being put on committees. Take a look, Representative Cummings has some of the new members, Pressley, Hill, AOC. Maxine Waters a firebrand progressive chairwoman has Tlaib, Porter, AOC. Education and Labor is where Jahana Hayes is a freshman who has been on this show, Ilhan Omar. Do you see any strategy behind the way that Pelosi is assigning these members to committees?
CROWLEY: Well, I think, one of the things you have to keep in mind is there`s probably more seats, assignable seats than there are members in the majority right now. So it`s not shocking that some of these new members are finding themselves on exclusive committees like Financial Services, but also giving voice --
MELBER: Is she -- is she pairing Liberals with Liberals so they`re fighting a Liberal chair?
CROWLEY: Well, I think -- no, I don`t think that`s the case at all. I think that -- I think Maxine Waters is someone that sees eye-to-eye in many respects with a lot of the new members that are coming in as well.
And let`s not forget. I mean, I think that the focus has been on a lot of firebrand of ultra-Liberals from districts like mine or Mike Capuano, and Presley and what John Conyers will see. But I think it`s also important to remember that how Democrats won the House of Representatives was by appealing to moderate districts for Republicans have held those districts.
MELBER: And hitting on health care and kitchen-table issues. I think that`s an important point. You mentioned the attention. I got to ask you about that. You served a long time, we showed it. But you`ve been replaced there in your district by someone who`s getting a lot of attention, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC. Let`s take a look at some of that since she won that seat. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Easily the most shocking result of this political season thus far, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s looking at herself on television right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: She has been in Congress for less than a week and already freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocacio- Cortez seems to be stealing some of the spotlight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want folks to underestimate you?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Absolutely. That`s how I won my primary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You`ve said very positive things about her. How does it feel now being out of it and watching someone in your seat immediately get sort of this much attention and is it overdone?
CROWLEY: Well, I think part of it is because she beat me. So I take some you know, I take some solace in that.
CROWLEY: Well, that I was important enough that people actually took note of someone beating me.
MELBER: You`re saying the way that when Eric Cantor lost, he was in leadership, he was a big figure, you were a big figure in leadership and so beating someone as big as you.
CROWLEY: Yes. And I think that didn`t happen overnight for me. It took 20 years to get or I should say 16 or 14 years to get to that point of leadership. But I also think you know, it`s important to say, I didn`t underestimate her and I appreciate her point about that.
It was -- there were a lot of factors that went into the race and probably more time that we`d have to talk about that but I wish her well and I want her to do well. I want her to do well in behalf of my constituents and for the country as well
MELBER: Well, I appreciate that and that`s -- I haven`t heard that point put that way before regarding the attention that it got being a leadership position. I don`t want you to go anywhere because I know you`re from Queens.
MELBER: We have a "FALLBACK FRIDAY" with hopefully a new friend of yours, a friend of ours.
CROWLEY: I`m looking forward to it.
MELBER: Havoc from Mob Deep from Queensbridge joins the Congressman from Queens. What`s up! Nice to see you. And you know former Congressman Crowley. When we come back.
MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT so you know it`s time to fall back. I`m joined by two New York City heavyweights from the greater borough of Queens. Recording artist and rapper Havoc who is part of the legendary Mob Deep along with Prodigy, one of the most successful rap duo`s in hip-hop history, 40 million records sold, lifetime platinum, three gold albums, kapow. And a powerhouse Democrat who I was introducing in our last segment, former Congressman Joe Crowley. Nice to see you both here.
HAVOC, RAPPER: Thanks for having me.
CROWLEY: Great to be with Havoc. Two musicians from Queens, you know.
MELBER: Well, you represented the Bronx and part Queens and you represented Queens Bridge.
HAVOC: Queens Bridge, all day long out in the city.
MELBER: So it`s nice to have you two together.
CROWLEY: It`s great to be with (INAUDIBLE). I represented Queens but for about six years.
MELBER: And did you -- did you guys get to reminisce?
HAVOC: Yes, he`s reminiscing in the back. I couldn`t believe he`s from west side, I couldn`t believe he was from Wood Side. I went to junior high school in his neighborhood.
CROWLEY: I change -- Junior High School 125.
HAVOC: Yes, 125.
MELBER: There it is. Bring it all back to THE BEAT. Who needs to fall back, Havoc?
HAVOC: Oh Laura Ingraham needs to fall back.
MELBER: This is the Hamilton thing.
HAVOC: Yes, about the Hamilton. I heard that she was saying something about the black actors in Hamilton play wasn`t a good depiction of you know, America`s history or something like that. I mean, the whole plays a history lesson, you know, what I`m saying? The people could be green for all I care in the whole play. But the whole play even teaches you more history than we learned in the schools and it`s a it`s a real beautiful play. Laura Ingraham needs to fall back. You know what I mean? Just calm down. I mean, this is ridiculous.
MELBER: Well, tell her you said so. I mean, I saw in the notes, she was doing this in an attempt to discuss the controversy over blackface. And you know, one of the fascinating thing about Hamilton is you never in hundreds of years of history see actors portraying the founding fathers that way so it was -- it seemed to be Lin-Manuel brilliance to help everyone feel included in that.
HAVOC: Exactly. You know -- and that is the brilliance of the plate to include everybody and not to let anybody feel left out and that`s America.
CROWLEY: That define with those people as well, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, how does a young black person or Latino identify with them? But when they start singing like that and talking like they do, you know --
MELBER: And they`re looking at the ideas that some of the ideas of freedom, they were imperfect because of all the racism of the era, but how do we also teach the complexity of that to young people. I mean, I spend a lot of time reading the founding fathers because that`s what you do in law school but I would tell anyone, yes, you could save some money and go see Hamilton. Congressman, who needs to fall back on your list?
CROWLEY: The federal state and city officials need to fall back when it comes to the Amazon issue.
MELBER: The New York.
CROWLEY: The notion -- yes, the notion they`re going to pull out of this Queens deal has a lot of people like me nervous. I signed on to a letter back then as well begging them to come when it was 50,000 jobs. They`ve had that to 25. You know, that should be a reason to not one want them to come down.
MELBER: You`re saying this is really -- even with the criticisms of Amazon, this is an important way to get people jobs in the state?
CROWLEY: We bank for diversification of the workforce in New York City after the near collapse of our economy in 2008. We were overly emphasized on financial services jobs. Mike Bloomberg comes in so we need to diversify. We have what`s going to Technion Center on Roosevelt Island. The growth potential for tech jobs in Queens in the cities is it is limitless.
So here`s a great opportunity to really to begin that real diversification. And I think to pool that right now is a big, big mistake.
HAVOC: Yes, it`s crazy.
MELBER: Well didn`t I not say I`m out for presidents to represent me.
HAVOC: Get bloody.
MELBER: You know, but the president -- Congressman, presidents is a reference to. You know what is the reference to?
CROWLEY: I know but I`m --
MELBER: Havoc, tell him.
CROWLEY: You`re about to school me on. It`s like --
HAVOC: (INAUDIBLE) you know, don`t worry. I`ll tell you later.
CROWLEY: Tell me later my man.
MELBER: Dead presidents is a slang reference to money and you want -- you want the people in your community to actually get jobs with money, nothing wrong with that. I`ve got 45 seconds, who else is on your "FALLBACK" list.
HAVOC: Oh, who else -- oh, the shutdown. The shutdown is in my "FALLBACK" list. President Trump, he owned it. He said he would take the mantle. Now all the sudden, he`s holding all federal workers hostage like the Democrats got something to do with it when he said that he will own it.
MELBER: Can you believe he still says he might do it again?
HAVOC: I mean, come on. Like, again? Like come on now. That would be retarded.
MELBER: Or you know, another way to say it, that would be a terrible idea.
HAVOC: A terrible idea. Sorry for that. But you know, I mean that would be a terrible idea. It`s hurting families. People are losing their houses over this. They have to stand in food lines and soup kitchens. I mean, this is our government.
MELBER: I`m told we`re over on time and I don`t want to go late to "HARDBALL." Congressman Crowley, Havoc from Mob Deep, thank you to both of you. We will be right back.
MELBER: Everybody is getting ready for the weekend but did you know it`s also a big weekend for the candidates running against Trump in 2020. Tomorrow, Elizabeth Warren holds a rally to make a formal announcement about her Presidential plans and Senator Amy Klobuchar has her own 2020 rally scheduled for Sunday. We`re going to see a lot of news coming out of this weekend.
That does it for me. I`ll mention to you if you`re around tonight, I will be guest-hosting THE LAST WORD, in for Lawrence O`Donnell, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.
But don`t go anywhere now, HARDBALL is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END