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Trump forced to share airtime. TRANSCRIPT: 02/12/2019, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Eric Boehlert, Al Sharpton, Megan Twohey, Marq Claxton, Sam Nunberg, Alex Spiro

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: February 12, 2019 Guest: Michelle Goldberg, Eric Boehlert, Al Sharpton, Megan Twohey, Marq Claxton, Sam Nunberg, Alex Spiro

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: We`ll be back tomorrow with a lot more MTP DAILY.

But "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. So good evening, Ari.

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

We have a lot of news in tonight`s show, as well as an exclusive. We`re tracking reports that Trump`s favorite tabloid, the "National Enquirer" is now a billion dollars in debt with prosecutors eyeing whether the tabloid operated as a Trump agent, potentially illegally in 2016.

Later, we have a fact check on what really happened in the Roger Stone raid and a new call from a Republican senator ripping Michael Cohen for slow walking his much-awaited testimony against Trump.

But our top story is an actual breakthrough in Washington. Congress has a message tonight. They say they`re doing their part to ensure there will not be another shutdown. And instead of a shutdown, you have both parties reaching a big new budget deal.

And the politics already shaping up pretty clearly. The new deal has less money for a border barrier than earlier Democratic offers. It`s a compromise that Sean Hannity has recently blasted as "unacceptable" for Republicans.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: By the way, on this new so-called compromise, I`m getting details, $1.3 billion. That`s not even a wall or barrier.

I`m going to just tell this tonight and we will get back into this tomorrow. Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you`ll have to explain.


MELBER: That`s the heat coming from Hannity. Now, Donald Trump who is a marketer could spin any money for barriers as a kind of a step towards the goal he wants. But apparently, I can you tonight, it is such a small sum that even he, the marketer, is not spinning it that way. Instead, he is saying he is not happy.


REPORTER: Sir, will you sign Congress` border deal?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to study it. I`m not happy about it. it`s not doing the trick. But I`m adding things to it. Am I happy at first glance? I just got to see it. The answer is no, I`m not. I`m not happy. I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us.


MELBER: So that is the mood in D.C. It gives you a flavor but it is emotions and emotions are subjective. Let`s look briefly, before I turn to a great panel, on the facts.

Trump shut everything down over his demand for 200 miles of concrete wall, the price of $5.7 billion. We remember that. So here`s the new deal. It funds $1.3 billion for 55 miles of what is described as fencing, which could include, yes, the metal slats we keep hearing about.

Now, according to the Trump-Hannity message, the White House would appear to be losing. Democrats also touting this deal as a way to avoid the pain of a shutdown while giving up less than they offered before. So that is a lot of what we`re hearing out of Washington.

But there are more views than just Washington, D.C. We should note tonight that there are progressives and experts around the country who`s saying, well, yes but the earlier offers were all before the Democrats took power in the House and with the fact that illegal entries in the U.S. coming into our country are actually historic lows.

As a matter of policy, it could be a time to push even harder against Republicans/"Fox News" calls for walls/barriers/slats. Slash slats being a hard thing to pronounce but we got there.

Now, as promised, our expert of panel. We have "New York Times" Columnist Michelle Goldberg, an independent journalist media analyst. And we should note, someone who doesn`t like "Fox News", and they`re central in the politics of this, Eric Boehlert who brings us that perspective. And host of "POLITICSNATION", founder of the "National Action Network", and an advocate for civil rights which touch many of these issues on the border, Reverend Al Sharpton. Thanks to all of you for being here.

We`re going to get to you because conservative media is a big part of how we had the shutdown. But Michelle, your view of those facts, the numbers, the comparison that we have here, what has happened today in Washington?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean assuming that this happened, it`s -- I actually think that Sean Hannity in a sense is right in that this is a defeat for Donald Trump and sort of humiliation for his movement.

And he might try to spin it otherwise. He might say, at least the wall is started or pretend that the wall that he already pretends has started is now getting 55 additional miles. But as you said, this was -- he got nothing out of the shutdown, right?

He shut down the government and is getting less than he would have gotten had he now shut down the government. And it`s not a great -- it`s not a perfect deal or even a great deal for Democrats either, right. I mean I think a lot of Democrats would have liked to see a cap on detention beds which would have forced ICE prioritize arresting criminals as opposed to just law-abiding undocumented immigrants.

MELBER: Are Democrats going to be pressed in the districts on the idea that there is money for barrier/slats?

GOLDBERG: I think it depends on the district, right? And I would imagine there are some Democrats who are not going to vote for it. But I think that -- I can imagine that Democrats can sell this as enough of a pittance and Democrats feel strongly, I think probably more strongly than Republicans, about the necessity of sparing people the pain of a shutdown. So I would be surprised if they got tremendous pushback.

AL SHARPTON, HOST, POLITICSNATION: I would say it`s a resounding defeat for President Trump. For Trump to not get not only the money he wanted, not even get what was on the table that he agreed to until Ann Coulter and others pushed him away. There`s no way, even he can spin this that would make the average person feel he was not given to make the defeat.

MELBER: So your explanation to the question I raised, and you know Donald Trump and you know him before he was president, is that even a spinner like him isn`t going to try to spin around the smallest sum on the scale of what it takes on the border. SHARPTON: I didn`t say he won`t try. I`m saying --

MELBER: Well, he`s not trying today. Today, he said, "I`m unhappy".

SHARPTON: I think he`s trying to -- I think he knows it`s a defeat and he a gave an impromptu response. Now, by tonight, he may have his spin stuff out but we know that he right then was -- I mean he`s like a guy that had gotten knocked out. He`s clearing his head getting off the mat. When he gets back in his corner, he may start spinning but he was knocked out.

It`s an incomplete, though, for Democrats, to give up on the -- in terms of the numbers of people that ICE can, in fact, hold in terms of the children`s beds and all, to not protect the human rights there with a ceiling and I think it`s an incomplete. I think --

MELBER: So maybe it`s not a knockout. Maybe it`s a T.K.

SHARPTON: No, it`s a knockout for him.

MELBER: But is it -- maybe it`s a technical knockout.

SHARPTON: No. Maybe it`s that the guy hit himself on his way back to the corner but I don`t think that those of us that are concerned about the human rights of this that have gone to the border and that have seen that this has slowed down. I don`t think that we`re going to be popping the champagne. We`re glad we`re going to see a shutdown if there`s holes. But at the same time, I don`t think we can jump up and down for joy from a human rights` point of view.

MELBER: Understood. And I think you bring that perspective and the background of that work. Then there`s the media side of this. Sometimes in the media, when we cover the media, people say enough, we`re talking about the media. I actually think there`s great value to that criticism.

But as a political story, everything we`ve learned is that Donald Trump, because of the nature of the way he exercises political power, is responding more to Coulter, as you just mentioned, Limbaugh, and Hannity than do literally the people in his own party in the Senate. Well, because maybe he just pretends that it`s his party because that`s not his north star.

So for you, walk us through that. And for your analysis, listen to, one of them, Rush Limbaugh on all this.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: I think it`s embarrassing. $1.375 billion, $1.6 billion, I think it`s embarrassing, particularly when the president`s original ask, I think, for border wall was something like $20 billion. If he signs, primarily it`s going to be to avoid another government shutdown.

You are operating under an entirely different set of rules with your voters. Most of your people are happy when the government gets shut down.


MELBER: What percent of this decision rests on President Hannity, on Secretary of Homeland Security Limbaugh and the rest of the "Fox News" cabinet?

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA ANALYST: Seventy, 80, 90 percent? I mean Trump, it`s all about his psyche, right? He`s a wildly insecure narcissist who cannot deal with watching T.V. and seeing right-wing media criticize him.

It`s deja vu. We`re back to late December. Democrats had a deal. Republicans had a deal. Everyone thought there was a deal until he started watching the media and he said, "I`m not going to do this. We`re going to have a pointless 35-day shutdown."

MELBER: Do you think -- what you just said is I think widely understood by political journalists and it`s understood by conservative media. Whether you think it`s good or bad I debatable but it`s understood. Do you think around the country people understand what you just said, which is chilling?

BOEHLERT: No. No, because I think the shutdown -- the traditional narrative of a shutdown is Democrats are facing Republicans, they`re trying to come to a deal. The bizarre thing here is, December and now, Republicans and Democrats are in heated agreement. This wall is never going to be built, it`s never going to be funded.

So we have this weird Democrats and Republicans versus the White House versus "Fox News". It`s not even that. It`s Democrats, Republicans versus one guy in the White House and five guys at "Fox News".

MELBER: You`re saying -- people often say third parties never excel in American politics but you`re saying that "Fox News" is the third party.

BOEHLERT: Of Trump politics.

MELBER: But I have to press you on this, it`s part of my job. What if Trump has something up his sleeve?

BOEHLERT: Which would be what?

MELBER: I don`t know but let`s look at "Fox & Friends" as they explore that possibility.



BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, FOX & FRIENDS: The $1.375 billion, a lot less than $5.7. However, you get 55 miles.

STEVE DOOCY, CO-HOST, FOX & FRIENDS: Keep in mind, Democrats didn`t want him to build one mile.


DOOCY: I think the president is probably going to say, "You know what, I`m going to take that, that number right there, $1.4 billion for 55 miles of border wall." And then, I bet he`s got something up his sleeve.


GOLDBERG: I mean the one thing he could potentially have up his sleeve is that he could declare a national emergency, right. I think he probably -- that`s his way out of the bad press around all this.

SHARPTON: And I think that`s what he`s probably going to try to do because there`s no way. If mommy tells me she`s bringing and buying a new couch and you bring in a stool, you can`t call that a couch. He`s got a stool, not a couch.

So he`s got to try to do an emergency to get a couch or he`s got to try to blame somebody. I think he`s not crazy enough to risk a shutdown. Because there`s no way you can make a stool look like a couch. That`s where he`s at.

MELBER: If you`ve been knocked out, couch is what you need. You need some couch time. I`m trying to follow your analogy.

SHARPTON: If he gets to the corner and Sean put the wet towel on him and clear his head, he`ll think of some way.

MELBER: I feel like -- wait. I feel like we`re this close to getting to the blueberry pie.

SHARPTON: We`re right there.

MELBER: And that`s for the old school MSNBC moms who remember the blueberry pie because this is vintage Sharpton.

I also then want to get into the Senate Republicans. Don`t forget about them, the other party. And this was interesting. They basically said, "Look, Speaker Pelosi won`t let us have anything more than a stool."


MELBER: So this is reality. Like they`re being reality base. Take a look here at some of the Senate GOP.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: You`ve got to remember where Nancy Pelosi was. She who said no money for a wall, that`s not the case.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Our Democratic colleagues did abandon those unreasonable positions.

MCCARTHY: The Democrats had now agreed to more than 55 miles of new barrier being built. Democrats changed course.

MCCONNELL: And hope the Senate can act on this legislation in short order.


MELBER: The messaging for both sides of the GOP in the House and the Senate is we moved her a little but also they won`t go farther than this and we got to make a deal.

BOEHLERT: This has been the amazing part from this. There hasn`t been three Republican Senators this whole time who care about this wall, who think it`s ever going to be built, it`s ever going to be funded. And so that kind of goes back to my point, what is so bizarre about all this is that the Republican Party is completely detached.

And we`re watching a White House plus some people at "Fox News", we saw the spin this morning, hey, this might be a victory, telling Trump be smart enough to declare victory and go home. But again, he is such a -- he`s so insecure that if he gets hit for the next 24 hours by certain personalities, we don`t know what he`s going to do.

GOLDBERG: Well, I think that you know, people who are concerned about what the shutdown is going to mean for them might want to lobby those personalities as opposed to lobbying their sort of impotent lawmakers but - -

MELBER: Is there a way to do that?

GOLDBERG: They have phone lines. They have social media accounts. But the other thing I would say is that to me, what`s striking here is that up until now, McConnell has said we`re not going to put forward anything that Trump is not going to vote for.


GOLDBERG: Right? And so now it seems to me that the subtext here is like we`ve had enough, we`re putting this together. He can -- and daring him to be --

MELBER: Right. And with so many things, it`s watch what they do, not what they say. Mitch McConnell is not going to publicly say, "Hey, this is me saying enough, Trump." He`s going to continue to say the things to try appease.

But what he`s doing is saying we carried that shutdown, it was brutal in all sorts of ways. We don`t want to relive it.

GOLDBERG: Right. And again -- and if you want to veto this, that`s on you but we`re not sort of -- you`re kind of not a party to these negotiations anymore.

BOEHLERT: And they`ve been giving them that same message on the emergency like you are in no man`s land if you think we`re going`s to stand by you for a national emergency.

MELBER: Oh, they don`t like that at all. And they know because then, it`s -- the courts have the last call. So months later when Donald Trump has moved on to whatever, suing his next -

SHARPTON: And they`re up for reelection.

MELBER: And they`re in a campaign season, the Supreme Court comes out and John Roberts gets to say I gave you the travel ban, you don`t get this because I don`t think you do. I mean we don`t know but that could be hurtful to them.

Michelle and Eric, thanks to both of you. Rev, stick around. ICE made a major move today.


MELBER: Backing down on something I`m going to have you speak to that, an issue I know you`ve worked on a lot.

Coming up, we also have some other stories. The "National Enquirer," a billion dollars in debt now as it creates -- faces new scrutiny from the feds all dating back to Trump 2016.

Also, a top Russia investigator slamming Michael Cohen for again delaying his testimony, says the Senate may help Cohen "on his way to prison". What does that mean? And Roger Stone gets a reality check on the dramatic footage that he leaked himself of the FBI raiding his home.

And as I mentioned, the musician 21 Savage, British-born, will be freed from ICE custody after a controversial arrest. His lawyer is here exclusively on THE BEAT. He was tapped by Jay-Z to work on a project and the Rev is going to talk about the broader issues. It`s an important story.

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


MELBER: New troubles tonight for one of Donald Trump`s most loyal publications. The "National Enquirer`s" company facing over a billion dollars now in debt. (INAUDIBLE) ask to come to these problems in New York while federal prosecutors are probing new allegations they tried to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos.

Now, it is worth underscoring the company`s legal troubles all began with its involvement in a now-confessed crime, Michael Cohen`s effort to help Trump by burying stories in 2016, like an account from former Playmate Karen McDougal, whose lawyer actually told us that they beat the "Enquirer" in an earlier lawsuit and they suspected the "Enquirer" was working as a potentially illegal arm of the 2016 Trump campaign.


PETER STRIS, ATTORNEY FOR KAREN MCDOUGAL: This is not a case that "AMI" wanted to fight. And there`s a real risk to them that they`d have to engage in discovery and the things that we alleged would be established and so they folded. And it`s a total victory.

MELBER: Was the "National Enquirer" acting as the arm of Donald Trump and Michael Cohen? If so, is there something wrong with that?

STRIS: We strongly suspect they were. That`s why --

MELBER: Can you prove it?

STRIS: Well, if the lawsuit had continued, we would have been able to prove it.


MELBER: That lawsuit ended but the federal probe didn`t, which may ultimately speak to why the "Enquirer" took some new risks. And if, it may yet be indicted or its staff indicted for other crimes that date back to that Trump campaign.

I`m joined by "New York Times`" Investigative Reporter Megan Twohey. She`s covered "AMI`s" dealings with Michael Cohen extensively and many of the other issues that come up here including women`s allegations and the way they`re treated in all of this. Thank you for being here.

MEGAN TWOHEY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Sure. Again, no, my pleasure. I think that what`s important to know is those of us who have been covering "AMI" and the powerful figures with which it has enjoyed very close relationships has long been aware that the news organization has engaged in very aggressive, very tough, and often times questionable tactics.

Not only -- then this goes beyond the catch-and-kill operations that have admitted it participated in on behalf of Trump in the 2016 presidential race. I was one of the reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story. When we were in the process of collecting these allegations that -- against him for sexual abuse and sexual harassment going back decades, "AMI" was basically helping to dig up dirt on his accusers that he could use to help suppress that story. There`s also been --

MELBER: Let`s pause on that.


MELBER: The "National Enquirer", according to your reporting, was trying to discredit or intimidate people that, according to your reporting, were simply telling their story about what they experienced at the hand of Harvey Weinstein. Why was "AMI" doing that? What was in it for them?

TWOHEY: Right. "AMI" and the Weinstein Company had -- was involved in a business project together. They were trying to get a talk show off the ground. And so they were financially entangled. And Dylan Howard, the kind of director of editorial content there enjoyed a close relationship with Harvey Weinstein.

MELBER: Mr. Howard has been granted immunity.

TWOHEY: Right.

MELBER: And may lose it over this alleged blackmail. So he and Pecker are both part of this operation. The question I think becomes, and it may be unanswerable but I`ll put it to you, are they doing real business with all these people or is that a cover story for them operating as these sort of information thugs?

TWOHEY: Well, I think that there are a million questions about exactly how the "AMI" has operated in relation to some of these powerful figures and what the real agenda was.

MELBER: Did the Weinstein Talk Show ever happen?

TWOHEY: It did not. It did not.

MELBER: That seems to be a pattern.

TWOHEY: Right, right, right. And there`s been this other -- I mean so after kind of that was exposed in the process of going through some of the e-mails that Harvey Weinstein had towards like the end of us starting to expose his wrongdoing, we came across e-mail exchanges that he had with Dylan Howard, including one in which Dylan Howard said, "Hey, sorry, I can`t talk right now. I`m in Saudi Arabia working on business efforts."

MELBER: What was Dylan Howard doing in Saudi Arabia?

TWOHEY: Right. So this is another thing that has emerged.

MELBER: Did he have any contacts with government officials do you think?

TWOHEY: Yes. I think that there`s become -- that there is now a growing body of evidence that "AMI" has enjoyed very close relationships or certainly made very aggressive business overtures towards the Saudis.

MELBER: Do you know -- do you happen to know on that trip if he made any contacts with the government?

TWOHEY: If I recall correctly, he did, in fact, make contact with Saudi officials --

MELBER: Because that alone, what you`re saying and we go to you because you know so many parts of this story. I didn`t know you were going to say that on live T.V. I mean they -- the "AMI" and the "Enquirer" made attestation to the Justice Department that they had no contact with Saudi government officials in their claims about not being Saudi lobbyists.

TWOHEY: Well, this gets into -- you`re sort of getting into the weeds here on the various sort of tentacles that "AMI" has.

MELBER: It`s what I do, Megan.

TWOHEY: That`s right. Yes, exactly.

MELBER: I`m actually -- I`m under here gardening.

TWOHEY: Well, that -- actually, what you`re talking about, there was a point where "AMI" turned to the Justice Department and said, "Listen, are we in danger of being viewed as a foreign agent?"

MELBER: But if what you`re saying is true, depending on the timeline, the Justice Department -- I`m not saying you`re saying this. The Justice Department may view that as misleading. If they said, clear us from being Saudi lobbyists, which ties to all the Trump stuff, but hid their contacts with Saudi officials.

TWOHEY: Yes. And the -- and when they went to the Department of Justice sort of seeking advice on whether or not they could be -- what they were doing with the Saudis constituted them acting as a foreign act, that was actually with regards to a specific glossy publication that they put out in which they --

MELBER: Yes, we`ve covered that. Yes.

TWOHEY: Right. So that was -- I mean that was sort of a narrow publication that they had put out as they were seeking good favor with the Saudis. Now, they`ve claimed that they didn`t receive money for that publication and they didn`t do that at the direction of the Saudis, which could be a distinction --

MELBER: Based on what you`ve learned, do you think any of these people at the "Enquirer" are in danger of losing their immunity or getting in more trouble?

TWOHEY: Well, I think that`s the million-dollar question. I mean I think that right now what`s certain is that they`re back under the scrutiny of the Southern District of New York and working with an agreement in which they were going -- the Southern District of New York made clear, "Listen, if we find out that you`ve done illegal things, we`re going to come back and we`re going to get you."

MELBER: We feel here at THE BEAT that you are like Wikipedia. Every time you come here, we learn a bunch of different things, sometimes even more than just the one story we`re on.

TWOHEY: I can`t believe the rotating cast of characters that seem to constantly emerge in all of these stories.

MELBER: Yes. Well, and you`ve been all over it. Megan Twohey, thank you so much.

TWOHEY: My pleasure.

MELBER: Really interesting and a story that`s not over yet.

Still to come, a report you might want to see on a separate wall, the legal one facing Trump on the border. But first, we go right inside that infamous Roger Stone arrest. I have his own former associate and a police expert when we`re back in 30.


MELBER: Today, a federal jury convicted El Chapo on all counts he faces. And while a few think the infamous drug lord has anything in common with Roger Stone, recently arrested by the feds in that video that he leaked, the former Trump adviser`s own allies like Sean Hannity have been arguing that the FBI`s pretty traditional arrest there actually looked like a gritting fit for, yes, El Chapo.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS: The footage depicts what you`d expect if the FBI raided the home of a Mexican drug lord, maybe even SEAL Team 6 going into Laden`s compound. For context, Roger Stone is a senior citizen accused of false statements to Congress.

HANNITY: Why did the FBI send, what 27 agents, armed with rifles, body armor to arrest Stone for lying to Congress? He`s not El Chapo.

JEANINE PIRO, HOSE, JUSTICE WITH JUDGE JEANINE: This show was put on to embarrass and intimidate Stone.


MELBER: Fact check. He is not El Chapo but there was also no evidence that this raid was particularly unusual. And before we turn to a police expert on that point, consider how Stone himself was just confronted with that view by a person who just phoned right into the Infowars conspiracy site show and tried to put Roger in his place.


MICHAEL: You`re a marshmallow. You guys are snowflakes. Those cops were professional. The FBI -- they were gentlemen. They came into your house. They didn`t throw you down on the ground.

You say your dogs were terrified and your wife was out in the street without her shoes on in the Florida freezing cold 59 degrees. You guys are snowflakes and you`re going to go down in prison. You`re facing 40-plus years, Stone. It`s coming down on you.


MELBER: I am joined by Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide who`s worked closely with Roger Stone and ultimately, provided testimony to the Mueller grand jury about Roger Stone. And former NYPD Detective Marq Claxton. He`s the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. Thanks to both of you.



MELBER: Marq, let`s start with the facts. I won`t ask you to evaluate who is a snowflake, but this has turned public attention on the rather dramatic raid. You see the long guns. You see all the attention on it. Was that, in your view, a proportionate and normal raid?

CLAXTON: The level of force or the presence by the professional law enforcement on the scene there was completely appropriate. This is really a nothingburg (ph). And this is what happens when you have people who are accustomed to a certain privilege and have a certain status who are not accustomed to the realities of the world.

I mean criminals are often times apprehended by law enforcement. That`s why we love the law enforcement community so much. So this really is a nothingburg and it is an attempt I suspect by Mr. Stone and his affiliates really to gain some sympathy and some leverage on his ongoing criminal matter but this is nothing.

MELBER: And you think bottom line -- you think they`re just out of touch with how these raids work because they don`t have the life experience or they don`t care to be informed?

CLAXTON: They are absolutely out of touch with it and they don`t care to be informed. I just find it curious that after decades of complaints, largely by minority communities regarding the use of force, it is sometimes during the course of execution of an arrest warrant that they have been largely ignoring those circumstances.

But here you have Roger who was handled with kid gloves, who was handled professionally, who was handled, in a way that really is textbook and very nothingburg, and they have major complaints or concerns about it. Maybe now, they will be pushing for some police reform.

MELBER: Well, I think you make a lot of important points and we`ll put them to Sam Nunberg. You did a lot of work for Roger Stone. Mr. Claxton says that Mr. Stone is wrong, that he`s out of touch, that he`s misleading.

And as for the data, we can put it up on the screen here, when you look at how these SWAT team targets have gone historically, although black Americans make up a small proportion of the nation, they are often dealt with by the SWAT teams at a higher percentage there. And you see, to Mr. Claxton`s the point, white Americans less so. The El Chapo comparison, especially reach here on the day of the conviction, is Roger wrong?

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: Well, I spoke to my lawyer today about this because this is not exactly my expertise. And he told me, Ari, that in light -- Patrick Brackley, in light of the charges that Roger was facing which included obstruction of justice, witness tampering, that the government would want to get the evidence before Roger could possibly destroy it.

And for that reason alone, this made sense. Now, from --

MELBER: Meaning that he`s wrong to claim this was somehow overreach?

NUNBERG: Meaning -- yes, meaning he`s wrong from a legal point of view and from what`s practically and normally done.

MELBER: And you -- and you`ve done a lot of work with him political messaging and otherwise.

NUNBERG: Not so from a political messaging point --

MELBER: What are we seeing here because you know, you famously came on this show and you were at the time explaining your alliance with him. You ultimately comply with law enforcement, people ultimately give you credit for that. But on the political side, is this vintage Stone taking a situation that`s rather serious and trying to turn into another circus which yes we`re covering but we`re also covering it because it`s everywhere and we`re willing to fact-check it.

NUNBERG: It goes into the overall narrative of supporters of the president or opponents of this investigation want to build, that these people are being unfairly targeted, unfairly treated, for crimes that aren`t connected per se to Russian collusion and that Mueller and a couple of those specific people that they like to talk about such as Weissmann and Jeannie Rhee are going after them you know to make a point.

And also. a common thing you`ll hear and conservative media to which I even laughed at and wanting to be very quick was they`ll say, well, nobody will want to work for Donald Trump now when you see the way people are treated like this. And I think that it`s just goes to trying to delegitimize the investigation. Anything Mueller does, you want to hit for any reason whether it`s right or wrong.

MELBER: Well, how can I put this?

NUNBERG: I`m not -- no, no, no. I`m not I agree with it.

MELBER: No, I understand. I`m just -- you know, sometimes I think while I`m on live T.V., I think the claim that people might not want to work for Donald Trump because it lands them in legal trouble might have more to do with working with Donald Trump than the ultimate way the legal trouble goes down.

Some people end up convicted, some people end up charged, some people end up with high legal bills and not charge. David Pecker got immunity even though he was involved in something that Michael Cohen confessed to as a crime. But now that may have blown up. In other words, a lot of people are in hot water regardless.

Now while you`re here, I want to ask you on the other big news of Michael Cohen. Take a listen to Senator Richard Burr, a fellow Republican just blasting Cohen now who of course is scheduled to report to prison. Take a look.


SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Any goodwill that might have existed in the committee with Michael Cohen has now gone. On Twitter, a reporter reported he was having a wild night, Saturday night eating out in New York with five buddies, didn`t seem to have any physical limitations. I would prefer to hit him before he goes to prison, but you know, the way he`s positioning himself not coming to the committee, we may help -- we may help him go to prison.


MELBER: Do you think Cohen has legitimate concerns here or needs to get down there and testify?

NUNBERG: Look, I think he needs to get down there and testify because as I said to you earlier when I was on this program on that extraordinary panel that night, Republicans, Trump supporters are chomping at the bit to delegitimize Michael because as you know and as you`ve covered, there are two Michael Cohens here.

There`s the Michael Cohen that the Special Counsel says cooperated after lying to them initially, and then there`s a Michael Cohen of the Southern District who says no he hasn`t fully cooperated and we think that he should have a harsh sentence on him. Plus, obviously Richard Burr would not like Michael to begin with because he was convicted of lying to their committee.

Now, I`ve been in that committee and, Ari, it`s very important because I hear a lot of reporting about -- from Ken Dilanian here today. That committee wants the Mueller report ultimately. One of the last questions I got in my interview with the Senate Intel Committee was is there anything we didn`t ask you that you think we should be looking into or is there anything that the Special Counsel`s Office asked you that you think we should be looking into and that as opposed to the Special Counsel which ends in your voluntaries or anything we didn`t ask you.

MELBER: That`s interesting. You`re saying because you face both which is part of the reason we talk to you. Most people don`t have that experience. You`re saying the Senators were chasing Mueller and what he might have asked and Mueller never cared what the senators were chasing.

NUNBERG: Well, correct.

MELBER: Correct. Final thought, Marq, on any of the above.

CLAXTON: Oh, listen, this is a classic case of -- and even with regard to Michael Cohen, let me just tell you that it really is clear that privilege really has some tremendous advantages in regard to this case from the way in which the prosecution is handling, Michael Cohen and other defendants related to this case and even to Roger Stone execution of the search warrant. We don`t do raids, we do execution of search warrants. Privilege has its privileges.

MELBER: And you get the last word. Sam Number and Marq Claxton, my thanks to both of you. Interesting conversation. Up next, I want to show you something that you may not have seen regarding the Mueller probe we`ll get into that. Also ICE is about to release British rapper 21 Savage after a huge outcry over how he was arrested and potentially targeted. We have an exclusive. His lawyers here all about this and where ICE is headed next.


MELBER: Breaking news tonight. After immense pressure, ICE will be releasing a very famous British immigrant from a U.S. detention center. The British-born musician and rapper 21 Savage has been jailed over a week since ICE made him a high-profile suspect and ultimately arrest on Super Bowl Sunday.

The musician has lived in Atlanta. His lawyers say he came to the U.S. at the age of seven and he`s accused of overstaying his visa. Critics of ICE say jailing this celebrity was excessive because he wasn`t an apparent flight risk and while many immigrants have little help on the outside in this kind of situation, there was a huge backlash.

Rapper and businessman Jay-Z deployed his own lawyer to work the case and tonight that legal team has said that 21 Savage just one his freedom and will -- this is the news -- be released tomorrow where he can rejoin his loved ones and continue making music.

Joining me now for an exclusive interview on THE BEAT on this breaking news is Alex Spiro, 21 Savage`s lawyer. We should mention, he`s also representing witnesses in the Mueller probe, quite a full plate and the Reverend Al Sharpton who leads the National Action Network and has worked on many cases regarding allegations of disparate treatment.

Let`s start with the breaking news. This story has gotten a lot of attention because of who was arrested and how by ICE? Why was he arrested? Why is he out tomorrow?

ALEX SPIRO, LAWYER OF 21 SAVAGE: Well, we still don`t know exactly why he was arrested. I mean, the bottom line is ICE has said it was a targeted operation, whatever targeted means. Whether that means they were just looking for any old immigrant or they wanted to set an example through him, we don`t know yet. Why he`s out as we won his hearing and we won his freedom.

MELBER: How was he treated on the inside?

SPIRO: You know, he was treated the way everybody is treated which is not perfectly. He was on 23-hour lockdown, he had limited access to the outside world. A lot of his resources were cut off just indirectly and his ability to sort of function as a human was you know, marginalized and stopped.

That being said they allowed legal visits and we were able to work with him. And again, what`s most important he`s getting out and he`s going to be home.

MELBER: For viewers watching this who may not be familiar with this particular artist but know a lot about ICE and the criticisms of ICE and the Trump administration, and then you have what appeared to be to many critics as you put it, a type of targeting. Here ICE`s own words according to what they said to a reporter quote -- regarding 21 Savage "his whole public persona is false" was a statement they put out. Was that wrong? Does that suggest they were focused on the wrong things? What does that have to do with his visa?

SPIRO: I have no idea. I don`t know why they put that out. I don`t know why they had to sully the record. They started calling him a convict, a convicted criminal. It was an effort to dehumanize him and to try to gain some advantage. It didn`t work. He`s not a convicted criminal. He`s actually not a criminal at all. He`s a father, a philanthropist, a fabulous artist --

MELBER: He`s not -- he`s not currently a criminal under U.S. law under the rules, but for immigration proceedings he did have a prior conviction that was expunged.

SPIRO: Right. But even the way that they phrase it, right, convicted criminal. We`re talking about a singular offense for possession of marijuana, right? If he had been a murderer, they would have said murderer. Because he`s convicted of marijuana rather than saying the truth which is that many people black, white, immigrant, and otherwise have a little bit of marijuana as they grow up. Rather than say that, they say convicted criminal. He`s not convicted. He`s not a criminal. He`s all the things I already said and that`s why he`s out.

MELBER: One of the things that was notable about this case, Rev, as you know, was the timing. I`m going to play what 21 Savage said on national television about effectively Trump border policies and ICE which happens right before his arrest. Here`s this famous musician a lot of people heard of who wasn`t bothered until take a look.


21 SAVAGE, RAPPER: Been to some things but I can`t imagine my kids stuck in the border there. Flint still need water. People was innocent, couldn`t get lawyers.


MELBER: Kids stuck at the border, people was innocent "couldn`t get lawyers." Soon enough arrested by ICE in this -- in this big public display. He needed a lawyer, who sits next to you. Do you think there`s evidence that he was targeted?

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: I don`t know if there`s evidence. There`s certainly many of us that wondered how if he was in -- and I don`t really believe in coincidences. And I think that the way this has gone down in terms of solely in the record that Alex just spoke about and doing unnecessary things that could have been avoided.

First of all, you`re talking about a young man who provides a living for people. He is a father. So to take him out of being able to continue to be a constructive member of society who just paid the state passes visa, to me is very suspect. But what I really wanted to give kudos to our Jay-Z and the attorney here, Alex, is that they use this also to put a spotlight on the issue because there are many that are not as well-known as Savage 21 that are under 23-hour lockdown and not being treated in humane, my word not his, in a way that should not be in the United States of America.

And I think it put a lot of attention of the public because of how they handled it because they not only fought for a crime, they didn`t try to do a little side room showbiz ghetto, they made this initially. Jay-Z and Alex should be given credit for that.

MELBER: At a time when ICE under Trump is under a lot of scrutiny, you`ve worked with Jay-Z on other law enforcement issues. Viewers may be interested to note that you are Jay-Z`s lawyer and you`re involved in the Mueller probe representing witnesses. Jay-Z apparently picked a good lawyer. Why was this important to Jay-Z and other people who wanted to spotlight the case and help 21 Savage get out?

SPIRO: Yes. I mean, Jay doesn`t want to be -- and neither do I and I think neither do either of you want to be idle spectators in this. And the bottom line is people can`t connect to the people at the border because they don`t know them. And people can`t connect to a lot of the nameless faceless people that are incarcerated in this country both in the criminal system or in the immigration system.

And so when you have a celebrated person, people start to feel you know, that they can connect with him, that they can feel his plight, that they can picture his children. And I think that causes connection and that connection can help get him out, get attention to the issue, and connect other people to again, the nameless and faceless people, then that sort of helps the system all-around.

MELBER: Interesting perspective, Alex Spiro, your first time on THE BEAT. I hope you come back. Interesting to hear what you`re doing for the client. And Rev Sharpton on a couple of different stories today, thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

MELBER: I should mention as always, you can catch Rev`s show "POLITICS NATION" on the weekends 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Up ahead, a big legal problem with Trump`s hopes for a border wall. He first ran into this while running casinos that ultimately went under. That`s next.


MELBER: Amidst this new talk of a shutdown deal, there`s also a very real legal barrier that Donald Trump isn`t talking about.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They said that progress is being made with this committee. Just say you know, we`re building the wall anyway.


MELBER: That`s not true for a variety of reasons. But right now we`re going to dig into one you may have heard less about. As a legal matter, Donald Trump can`t just build the wall on American land because people own a lot of that land. In fact, look at this. Two-thirds the land on the border doesn`t even belong to the federal government.

So if there were ever a wall, not that he`s getting one from this Congress, but Trump would also have to go into a bag of tricks which brings us to something you may have heard about. It`s called eminent domain. That`s where the government can use a legal process to take private property even if the owner doesn`t want to sell it. But the land has to be quote for public use and the owners, every single one of them has to get just compensation.

And so you can imagine the next battle here if Donald Trump got any farther with Congress to many Americans think this is a real public use that they should start spending just compensation on to take people`s homes away from them on the border. Now, Trump has of course had an eye on this law in business for decades and he had no problem forcing people out of their own property and claiming it was all the greater good.


TRUMP: If you didn`t have eminent domain, you wouldn`t have highways, you wouldn`t have roads, you wouldn`t have schools, hospitals. I mean, I don`t love them in the domain but you need eminent domain or you don`t have a country.

When it comes to jobs, roads, the public good, I think it`s a wonderful thing. I`ll be honest with you.


MELBER: That was Donald Trump invoking eminent domain for public things when he`d actually been using it for of course his own private enrichment, a wonderful thing he said. But here you have the government coming to take potentially your home if you`re watching this in a border state, your land.

And as you might imagine traditionally, the Republican Party and Conservatives have been against that kind of thing, Donald Trump taking heat for it in a Republican primary.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eminent domain fancy term for politicians seizing private property to enrich the fat cats who bankroll them like Trump.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: He supports taking private property through eminent domain from small property owners and giving it to big corporations. I don`t know of one conservative in America who supports that abuse of eminent domain.

JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR, FLORIDA: What Donald Trump did was use him in a domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City.


MELBER: Sounds like what a cartoon villain might do but you`re listening to Republican Jeb Bush describing a very real case when Donald Trump wanted to build a parking lot specifically for limousines at a casino which meant forcing an elderly widow from her Atlantic City home as she`d been refusing to sell it for two decades.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they want to take them the only thing that I have and cherish in my life hood away from me. I`m not really tough. I`m just fighting for what I have.


MELBER: Well, some people thought she was pretty tough because she took on Donald Trump and won and the city couldn`t prove that the parking lot for limos was they "public good." Which brings you down to Texas where Donald Trump will of course need to use this same controversial thing eminent domain to seize land from the people there. And that could mean a lot more legal fights.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What makes anybody think that they can go in and take away the homes of those people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hate to say I would get a lawyer but if it comes to that issue and you had to, you would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a patriot but I want to be treated fairly as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They see this as a bad place, it`s not a bad place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The answer`s no and we`ll find it as long as we can.


MELBER: Those are of course real people, just a handful of examples of many, many more. Many of them southerners, many of them in states that happen to be red states talking about the fight they would wait against anyone including President Trump who wants to take their homes.

Now George W. Bush did sign something called the Secure Fence Act under his administration and this was going to add about 700 miles of fencing to the wall. Now, more than 300 eminent domain lawsuits were filed for that alone in South Texas. And get this, 60 to 70 of them are still going. Now, Trump was asked about this very real problem for his proposed wall last month.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many of those who own property on the southern border will lose their property because of this. And once this happens, they say that they could go to court with you for years that could take years.

TRUMP: Many of the people you`re discussing, I really agree that they agree with what they`re doing. I really believe a lot of them want to see border security and they`re willing to give it up.


MELBER: We just showed you some of those people who don`t feel that way. Donald Trump not correct. And if anyone knows that he`s not telling the truth, it`s Donald Trump given his history fighting people who don`t want to give up their homes, something to think about with all the wall talk.

Now, up next, you are in our next segment. By which I mean, we ask you last night which painter best captures our current politics in the Mueller probe, and I got some of your great answers next.


MELBER: Last night during THE BEAT, we talked about painting and we ended up asking you which painter best describes the Mueller probe and several of you wrote in nominating Magritte. Michael in Santa Monica says that work echo`s Mueller because it`s about "revealing the truth behind the lies of outward appearance." Jeremy said Magritte`s own words apply "everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see. Deep.

Some of you also went with pointless painter Seurat. Kirsten wrote in saying the Mueller indictments have grown from immoveable point that went observe in their totality and create an unmistakable picture of crime and malfeasance. You guys are eloquent. And Dutch painter Bosch, also another suggestion from several of you. Jonathan even comparing Rudy Giuliani to the entire somewhat bizarre dada movement of painting.

So, we wanted to share that. You can keep the ideas coming in. Maybe we`ll do another one at least at the end of another show. Which painting or work of art captures Mueller or 2019`s news in general. That does it for us. I`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. And coming up next, it`s "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews.