Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: February 13, 2019 Guest: Paul Butler, Natasha Bertrand, Juanita Tolliver, Jack O`Donnell, Hakeem Jeffries, Paul Butler
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That is all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.
"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much.
We come on the air tonight with Trump on the verge of caving again on the spending deal with no real wall money.
And a former Trump executive will join me later to discuss his history of, yes, this kind of negotiating failures.
Also, breaking right now. DOJ reportedly investigating the leak of confidential Michael Cohen bank records. And following the money, a Democratic blueprint for Trump investigations has come out. congressman Hakeem Jeffries from the jury will join me live later tonight.
But I begin with two former Trump aides fighting Mueller charges today in very different ways that could have big implications for the Mueller probe. First, you have guilty former Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and he, of course, is in the soup for blowing up his own plea deal.
Then you have former Trump Adviser Roger Stone. Now, Manafort`s fate could ultimately hinge on what happens inside what is a sealed courtroom today so I can only tell you so much at this hour.
But here`s what we do know. Manafort`s team fighting that big allegation from Mueller that he lied to blow up his own deal. Now, they allege Mueller just hasn`t substantiated the burden of proof to show Manafort lied in the key things. The interviews of grand jury appearances.
Mueller says Manafort lied about these ongoing contacts with someone linked to Russian intel. Now, in the new filing, Manafort admits to talking with, guess who, Russian political operative Konstantin Kilimnick.
And "The Washington Post" has this inconvenient report. Mueller eyeing a 2016 dinner meeting Manafort had with that same person, where else, but in a private cigar room in fancy Manhattan.
Now, it ended with Manafort, this gentleman Kilimnick and, guess who, Rick Gates leaving through separate doors. And that`s not like a cigar tradition as far as we can tell. That`s a thing they chose to do.
Manafort fighting Mueller behind closed doors as Roger Stone goes super public. Stone filing a motion today demanding a hearing on a conspiracy theory that Mueller was effectively colluding with "CNN". And Stone citing the "premature" release, his view, of the sealed indictment, making his case today in front of the media at a book signing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, LUNG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: At 10:00 this morning, my lawyers filed a motion to show cause because we now know that the special counsel`s office released my indictment to the media two and a half hours before it was unsealed by a federal magistrate. My attorney learned that I had been arrested not from the special counsel`s office, not from the DOJ but from a "CNN" reporter. That reporter sent him a draft Copy of my indictment that showed it had been created the day before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We are also seeing Stone take the fight to Mueller unlike anyone else, something we fact-checked recently with law enforcement experts is the video on your screen leaked by none other than Roger Stone to Sinclair.
You`re looking at him wearing a t-shirt on the morning of his arrest. It says "Roger Stone did nothing wrong" as the FBI agents march him back into his house before further proceedings. That`s the kind of visual you only get from Roger Stone being indicted.
Stone`s also used that video to make the rather wild allegation that what you see there amounted to "Gestapo tactics". Manafort and Stone fighting Mueller inside the courtroom and outside in the court of public opinion. What does it mean and will it work?
I`m joined by former Federal Prosecutor Paul Butler, "The Atlantic`s" Natasha Bertrand, and "Theroot.com`s" Jason Johnson.
Paul, first question to you. We fact-checked Stone`s claims already. This was a traditional law enforcement raid. But have you ever seen anyone fight a special counsel prosecution quite like this?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, when you don`t have a defense, that`s what you do, you fight the prosecutors. So Stone is charged with false statements. The defense should be I told the truth. He can`t use that as a defense apparently and so he`s attacking the media. He`s attacking the prosecutor`s techniques.
Now, honestly, I thought that having those 29 agents and those 19 or 12 squad cars serve the warrant, the arrest warrant, I thought that was a little extra but that`s --
MELBER: Oh, you did?
BUTLER: -- kind of the norm.
MELBER: When you say extra -- let`s get into that. We had law enforcement experts on over the week who said that while it may look scary and some people may find it unfair, that is how they roll. In other words, that is the way these morning raids work.
BUTLER: Yes. So this is a guy in his late 60s. As proof that he`s not that dangerous, what happens after that very dramatic raid?
He goes into the courthouse and he`s freed on bail. He didn`t have to pay a dime. He`s got a promissory note if he doesn`t show up, but if the judge thought he was that dangerous, he wouldn`t have been released. But you know --
MELBER: Let me be clear. You think they could have done it better? I mean is that what you`re saying tonight?
BUTLER: Well, I think that they could always do it better. So when I say it`s extra --
MELBER: No, that`s a dodge. I got to get you on that, sir. And I`ll get the rest of the panelists in but we`ve heard some law enforcement experts here say that was traditional, that is to say, A-OK. Jim Cavanaugh said it was a textbook operation.
You, of course, have supervised FBI agents when you were a federal prosecutor in D.C. I`m interested in your view. Do you think it was not textbook, that it was in some way lacking or excessive?
BUTLER: Almost every rich white dude who I prosecuted got summoned, that is he received something like a complaint and he got to come in court that way. So extra is unfortunately often the norm.
Again, I think it`s -- when prosecutors want to send a message, welcome to the criminal justice system, Mr. Stone. If you don`t like this at this point where you`re presumed innocent, imagine how much worse it`s going to be if you get convicted, so you might want to consider making a deal.
MELBER: Interesting. No, and we appreciate your independent view of it for that reason. Jason Johnson, your view not as a legal expert but in the whole pyrotechnics of this which is what you get when you go Roger Stone. This was a classic kick in the door, waving the 44 (ph) moment.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Yes.
MELBER: Your view of how this is all playing out as Stone tries to make that the story?
JOHNSON: Well, look, Stone is always going to say, "I was abused, this is excessive, this is terrible" but it really wasn`t. One, in the larger context of things, innocent people, people who are not under federal investigation had been shot in these kinds of raids.
So the fact that he walked out with both of his hands working, wasn`t embarrassed, wasn`t smashed in the streets suggests to me that I suspect this is fine. But I`ll also say this. As Mr. Butler said, he`s a 60-year- old man. This isn`t Lex Luther. I don`t think you need 26 cops to bring this guy in.
Now, perhaps, and I`m not a federal prosecutor, that`s part of why you do it. Because you do want to intimidate people because you do want to frighten future people to say if you don`t want 26 police officers, FBI agents coming in and doing this, then maybe you should comply and maybe you should come forward on your own.
MELBER: Natasha, take a listen to Roger`s side of the story here in a new statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: The argument made by the judge is that my -- defending myself in public and exercising my First Amendment rights had the potential to taint the jury pool. I would argue that this kind of media manipulation has the potential to taint a jury pool. My greatest concern, of course, is that if I am gagged, it makes it difficult for me to tell people to go to stonedefensefund.com.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: That seems to be the entire reason why he`s doing this, right? I mean the first, obviously is that it`s kind of red meat to his supporters who believe that the Mueller investigation from the very beginning was based on the deep state going after Trump and his allies. The second, of course, is money. He`s been trying to use every chance that he possibly can to get these donations to his legal defense fund.
But I just want to go back to the optics of the raid. Look, it was a lot. There were --this is an arrest that`s been made in a way that we really haven`t seen before in this investigation. But there was a real risk that if Roger Stone knew that he was going to be arrested that morning or if he was summoned that he would have destroyed evidence.
And so when you saw all of the FBI agents going into his house, carting out documents, carting out his electronic devices, I think that the show of force that was put on there was to say don`t even try to hide any of your communications or your documents or whatever, the things that you`ve obviously concealed from the committees when testifying to them because we are now showing you how serious we are about collecting this evidence. So I think that the search warrant that was conducted on his home is just as significant here as the arrest.
MELBER: Paul, the other thing that`s in the Stone indictment that viewers of THE BEAT may recognize is the one Mueller prosecutor who is name-checked by Trump defendants more than any other is Andrew Weissmann.
Reading from the complaint where they talk about a potential leak or an alleged leak, they say metadata, so basically computer fingerprints on this draft indictment, show it came from "AAW" author, that a member of the special counsel`s office has the initials AAW, supports a "reasonable inference" that office is responsible.
What are they doing here legally and what do you make of it?
BUTLER: So they can say whatever they want in a complaint. That`s a very different matter from proving it in a court of law. You know, the media, legal analysts, we would love it if the Mueller team leaked. They never do.
So it would be really strange to think that they let some cable news network know about the indictment before it was publicly available. They haven`t done that in other circumstances.
So again, I doubt that if it were even leaked. It was probably just good reporting, good sleuthing on the part of the reporter who showed up at his house at the time that the raid happened. But so far, we haven`t seen any evidence other than just this broad statement that the indictment was leaked.
MELBER: Your view of that part, Natasha?
BERTRAND: Absolutely. I mean I remember seeing that there was some unusual kind of grand jury activity that was happening on the Thursday before the Friday that Roger Stone was arrested. And I said flat out to my editors, I said, look, is this a possibility that Roger Stone is going to be next? Because it had just been floating around for so long and Roger had been telling people himself that he expected to be indicted.
So all of the clues were in there. And when I saw that the "CNN" van had actually shown up at his house the next day, no one in the journalistic circles were particularly surprised by that. It seemed to be the next logical shoe to drop. And just like everyone else has said, just really, really good sleuthing.
And with regard to the indictment being released, the indictment was actually released by the special counsel spokesperson about four minutes before the call was made to Roger Stone`s attorney. And so that was public knowledge by that point so the timing of this just doesn`t add up. It seems like yet another thing that Roger Stone is throwing in the mix to muddy the waters here.
MELBER: Yes, that was my perception, Jason. They do seem to be reaching on that part and I`ve reported on this show about some of the stronger arguments, for example, fighting the gag order. But this part, although we want to cover it, it doesn`t look that great for Stone, it looks like they`re reaching.
As for the Cigar Club meeting, I want to play for you a little bit of Donald Trump talking about something we all know about which is, you know, domestic polling in Crimea. I mean that`s something we all have access to, right? Everybody knows what the crosstabs are --
MELBER: -- on what the crime means people think.
JOHNSON: Every state, swing states.
MELBER: So when you hear the facetiousness in Jason`s voice, I think the audience knows well what I`m about to show Donald Trump was suspicious precisely because of its granular apparent claim which is the issue in the now big cigar room meeting. Take a listen to Donald Trump talking Crimea public opinion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, the people of Crimea, from what I`ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. We`ll do better and yet we`ll have a better relationship with Russia. And having a good relationship -- maybe. And having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I try to take things seriously but what have you heard about the people of Crimea?
JOHNSON: It`s so clear. If you want to talk about collusion, basically you`ve got Manafort saying Konstantin, meet me in the club, I got what you need. I mean that`s pretty much what happened.
MELBER: Can I get a little VI?
JOHNSON: Exactly. I mean there was a point at which this insider information had to have gotten to the Russians or somebody in intelligence and Manafort seems like the most likely person. When you leave through separate doors, it suggests to me that what you exchanged is something you want people to connect to the other guy.
MELBER: Yes. I love the separate door thing. I mean Natasha, you remember DMX famously said sometimes you come through the front door but you`re leaving out the side door, but he never said you take two different exits from the Russian asset that you`re working with. That`s not a quote I`m aware of anyway.
And so again, I want to be very fair. None of that means that it`s evidence that Donald Trump personally conspired with a foreign power to break the law, which is the Mueller question. But it surely looks like some people around him in positions in charge of the campaign were up to no good.
BERTRAND: Right. I don`t remember that particular DMX line but I`ll take your word for it. Yes. I think the biggest question obviously is why they continue to lie about these interactions and I think that that`s what Mueller`s team is really homing in on here.
When Manafort broke his cooperation deal, it was partly because he was not completely forthcoming about this meeting that he had in New York with Rick Gates who, of course, now is cooperating and probably disclosed the full extent of this meeting and Konstantin Kilimnik.
So the question also of whether or not they were kind of conspiring to lift sanctions on Russia in order to bring peace to Ukraine, that, of course, goes to, as Andrew Weissmann said, the heart of the Mueller investigation.
So an awareness of that on Manafort`s part might prompt him to want to mislead about it, as Andrew Weissmann said, perhaps in an effort to get a pardon from the president which would also kind of signal an awareness on the president`s part that this was perhaps not something that he should be disclosing to the special counsel.
MELBER: Right. And that`s a big hanging question. If they have -- they floated that out there. If they have more on that, the idea of a pardon exchange to cover up Russia stuff, that would be a whole new explosive chapter. We`re not there yet.
JOHNSON: And Ari, real quick.
MELBER: I got to fit in a break, so real quick.
JOHNSON: OK. Yes. So why would Paul Manafort lie? He got a sweet deal from Mueller. He was convicted of eight counts, pled guilty to two more. He was looking to spend the rest of his life in prison.
If he`s lying, he`s avoiding the cooperation agreement. Paul Manafort is helping Donald Trump a lot more than he`s helping Paul Manafort with this alleged lie.
MELBER: And that`s what the Mueller folks seem to be alleging here. We`ll learn what comes out of that very secretive court process soon. Paul Butler, Natasha Bertrand, and Jason Johnson, thanks to each of you.
Coming up, I`m going to dig into Donald Trump`s problems as a dealmaker with someone who knows them from the inside. I`m going to talk to a former Donald Trump exec who actually ran a casino in the Atlantic City for him.
Then later, I want to tell you tonight why Susan Collins has gotten caught in a huge, fake, moderate scheme that you need to know about. It involves Justice Kavanaugh.
Also later, I`m joined by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on new investigations that Democrats say they`re launching into Trump.
Plus, a millionaire who says it`s time for people like him, people of means, people like us, as the talking heads used to say, to be taxed a whole lot more.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Call it the e-mail presidency because Donald Trump has been sharing his emotions this week, telling the world he`s "unhappy" about this budget deal that his own party reached with Nancy Pelosi. So the signs are clear, he may be on the verge of caving again on all this budget stuff. GOP leadership have told him, sign the new border bill even without wall money which has drawn conservative pushback.
Today, Trump seemed -- said something of a loss to explain whether he will sign the deal or use another option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, we haven`t gotten it yet. We`ll be getting it. We`ll be looking for landmines. We`re building a lot of walls right now with money that we already have.
Regardless of what I do, we already have, as you know, a lot of money where we`re building an existing wall with these existing funds but I have a lot of options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Polls shows most Americans do want to avoid another shutdown which would increase public pressure on Trump. But his penchant for responding more to a few Americans in conservative media is well known. There are new clues however that even some of those voices are now more supportive of this new bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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, a barrier. I`m going to tell this tonight and we will get back into this tomorrow, any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain. I`m not as concerned as some other conservatives if the president signs the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by Juanita Tolliver from the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Jack O`Donnell, former chief operating officer and president of a Trump casino. There he is in 1989 near Trump, co-author of Trump, The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump. So we`ll talk deal- making in a moment.
But Juanita, is this Donald Trump caving again and is Sean Hannity, in your view, laying the groundwork for that?
JUANITA TOLLIVER, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: I mean, look, you never know with Trump. Right now, he`s hedging. One minute he`s upset. The next minute he wants to avoid and shut down but won`t commit to actually signing the bill that would avert the shutdown.
So it`s unclear what to expect, especially after we found ourselves in the longest shutdown in U.S. government history around Christmas time. And so it`s unclear right now and it sounds like Republicans are starting to back off as well because that statement from Sean Hannity sounds like he understands what a loss looks like.
And honestly, this is a really, really unfortunate disappointment for Trump because he held so strong on this. He has failed. I think the other thing that is interesting here is that the White House should not expect Americans to take this the way they took it last time.
We saw how air traffic controllers brought the previous shutdown to an end. Flight attendant union already said they will strike. So there`s so many negative repercussions that come along with Trump making that move.
MELBER: Yes. Jack, I wonder if this could be taught in government negotiation or business school case studies for why you don`t want to do too much negotiating in public because you just don`t leave yourself a lot of room. Take a look at some of Trump`s normally loyal allies also in conservative media on all of this as it`s played out. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: A lame oh border deal.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: I think it`s embarrassing, $1.375 billion.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS: That`s a quarter of what he asked for.
HANNITY: The president will have no choice. He will veto this.
INGRAHAM: Democrats are also breaking Pelosi`s pledge.
HANNITY: This is amazing because they were referring to building walls as immoral.
LIMBAUGH: $1.375 billion. He can look at it. Look, it was zero.
CARLSON: Given the rhetoric, it`s more than you might have expected.
LIMBAUGH: The Democrats are moving in our direction. We can declare victory if we want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOLLIVER: Oh, goodness.
MELBER: Well, why don`t you first since I hear you -- you`re also emoting. Everyone`s got emotions this week.
TOLLIVER: It`s just really shocking to hear the change, the full 180 that we`re seeing there. Democrats are really coming around? I think not. I think what you have here was a conference committee that was looking to make a deal to honestly avert a shutdown that will impact millions of Americans, have negative repercussions for our economy and be a big problem.
MELBER: And Jack, it`s not just Donald Trump seem to go forward on this without having a plan for negotiation, all those people you just saw, he dragged them in front of their own audiences for their own credibility even as they try to help him. I mean it didn`t take us that long to make those clips because all this stuff has happened recently.
JACK O`DONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT & CEO, TRUMP PLAZA HOTEL & CASINO: Well, you`re right. And what many of those people are doing for Donald Trump at this point as well is they`re setting the stage for him to blame everybody but himself.
I think that`s leaked into this at this point where it was just the Democrats fault but now he`s going to be able to -- and this is typical Trump because he`s never responsible. He`s going to be able to blame both parties here, and I think that`s what we`re going to see a lot more of here.
But the interesting thing about this is every deal, there`s an opportunity. And in this case, he absolutely blew the opportunity, I think, between the few days before the first shutdown and the week before -- right before the employees` lost pay. He had some leverage at that point to cut a deal that might have been happy for both sides.
MELBER: So was he always like this?
O`DONNELL: But that resistance --
MELBER: Was it always this sloppy in public or did he use to maybe be better at it and has gotten worse? I mean is this really the way it always was? It`s almost hard to imagine.
O`DONNELL: Well, Ari, I think that there`s a facade or a fallacy in terms of how most of the negotiations took place in the business that I was running. And we did a lot of high profile world championship events and between vendors, we were negotiating all the time. We did that negotiating for him.
So when it got to a critical point in a negotiation for like Tyson-Spinks, as an example, we knew we were negotiating against Las Vegas. We went in and said, hey, we need to make the offer now or we`re going to blow this deal and we went in and made the offer and got the deal signed.
We really just went to him for guidance. We`re going to spend $12 million, we`re going to spend $13 million to keep him informed but we did most of the negotiating for him. And the other thing --
MELBER: Well, on that -- before you go to the next point, on that -- let me ask you. On that point, then would Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans, would they be better off if he treated you like them?
I mean by your analysis, the problem is just Donald Trump being hands-on instead of accepting from the people who do the negotiating, in this case, the congressional negotiators, who have been dealing with budgets and border funding and slats for decades, they would be in this rough analogy, they would be like you were.
O`DONNELL: Well, I think that they`ve played that roll over the last week and a half for sure. And literally, the fate of this is in their hands because it now just has to come back to him. But he has no leverage here.
If he had a leverage a couple of weeks ago maybe or before -- during the first shutdown, but now there`s no incentive politically for any other reason, for the Democrats to be anything but stronger than Trump is on this situation.
MELBER: As spoken by one who knows how he thinks when it comes to, as you put it, deciding whether or not to approve the deals other people negotiate.
Juanita and Jack, thanks to both of you.
TOLLIVER: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Up ahead, Congressman Jeffries is here with me live on a plan to investigate a whole lot of problems for Trump.
But first, next, my special report on Senator Susan Collins` record and her fake moderate credentials on choice when we`re back in 30.
MELBER: For our special report tonight, let`s begin with an important fact. There`s no part of American government where Donald Trump is having a longer-term impact than on the courts which decide the limits on your right to speak, bear arms or make personal decisions about your body as so many activists emphasized during the Women`s March.
But unlike the things that Donald Trump can do all by himself like the travel ban or like his response to Charlottesville, Trump cannot reshape the courts alone. He needs the Senate`s approval.
And so in our politics right now, to ignore that fact or to move on to the next Trump scandal and lose track of how many Senators are actually helping him would be a mistake with real consequences. Especially at a time like this, as the Supreme Court is shifting further right on choice and abortion right before our eyes.
So consider the fact about one of Trump`s key allies for his Supreme Court picks, Republican Senator Susan Collins who has long claimed to be a pro- choice moderate which is also good politics for her in a state where a huge majority, 64 percent, believe abortion should be legal.
From Collins` very first Senate run, she`s declared herself pro-choice, a supporter of Roe V. Wade, and she`s argued that is a contrast against her opponents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I am pro-choice. Unlike Joe Brennan, I`ve always been pro-choice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you agree with a woman`s right to choose as outlined by Roe V. Wade?
SEN. SHENNA BELLOWS (D), MAINE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan Collins?
COLLINS: Yes. I believe very much that Roe V. Wade is settled law. I`m very proud of my strong pro-choice record. I`ve been endorsed by Planned Parenthood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was then but that record is now the problem. If there`s one thing that pro-choice and pro-life advocates agree on is that this all comes down to the Supreme Court which has the final say on whether, first, there`s a right to abortion and second, whether women have access to doctors who perform them.
Take either of those away, the right in Roe V. Wade or the doctors in any given state, well, then that choice is practically gone. That`s why pro- choice protestors were gathering there. You remember at Collins` office last fall, urging her to live up to her own pledges about this issue and oppose Brett Kavanaugh who was widely expected to be a vote against abortion and abortion access at the time.
Now, in a sign that Collins didn`t want to be seen as any kind of automatic yes for him and that she wanted to telegraph some kind of uncertainty about Kavanaugh, Senator Collins made a point of joining a handful of other senators who said they were undecided swing votes about confirming Kavanaugh.
They remained undecided during Kavanaugh`s tense and at times angry testimony on everything from these abortion precedents to the misconduct allegations he faced from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT, UNITED STATES: This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination, revenge on behalf of the Clintons. But your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and destroy my family will not drag me out.
You`re asking about you know, blackout. I don`t know. Have you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: After all that and those hearings, Collins continues remember, to delay her decision on Kavanaugh. This was longer than virtually every other senator slowly building suspense for a big Senate floor speech where Collins again cast herself as a defender of abortion rights. She solemnly told the other senators about how Kavanaugh knew Roe v Wade was a key precedent and how he knew the court later affirmed it in a related Planned Parenthood case.
Of course the judge knew about those famous cases, the question is whether he would narrow them like his backers expected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: He noted repeatedly that Roe had been upheld describing it as precedent. Would it be sufficient to overturn the long-established precedent he emphatically said, no? I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The Collins vote helped ensure that Trump could put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court while also claiming as you just saw, she claimed his words assured her that these abortion presidents were safe and wouldn`t change. Was she right? When will we know? Why am I talking to you about this right now, this important issue?
Well, when will we know? It didn`t take long. This is in the news right now because Justice Kavanaugh just voted to back a very restrictive state law to eliminate access to abortion for most people who live in Louisiana making abortion unavailable everywhere there but a single clinic according to abortion rights experts and advocates in the state. This was considered a very significant case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Supreme Court has weighed in on its most significant abortion case since conservative Brett Kavanaugh joined the court.
CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: This is one of the concerns about him for Liberals with Kavanaugh on the court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dissenting opinion came from Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Kavanaugh taking a position in the minority against the current precedent protecting choice. And this is something he`s doing as soon as he joined the court. Note, that`s what his conservative backers expected, and note that`s what his Liberal critics expected. So it appears one of the only policy experts in the country who would claim to be surprised by this ruling to restrict choice would be Susan Collins.
Now, if Kavanaugh had his way, that controversial ruling did I just described drastically restricting choice, that would be law today. And if that approach worked in that state it`d be open season and many other conservative states. The only reason this is so important, the only reason this is not law is that other justices including a different Republican appointee, John Roberts voted the other way.
Roberts siding with several Democratic appointed justices to block this law under you see where we`re going, under the Roe precedent that Collins has discussed so much. Now, let`s look at the justices who voted with Kavanaugh. This is so important. Four of them there. So there now one vote shy of a majority to do this kind of thing to restrict drastically choice and abortion doctors in the United States. Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch with Kavanagh on restrictions.
Note that Senator Collins has some experience with a pattern here. We`re going to show it to you because she backed Trump and voted to confirm Gorsuch as well as Kavanaugh just like she voted to confirm Alito. As for Thomas, the fourth vote, well she wasn`t even in office yet.
Now, there are potential legitimate arguments for that kind of voting record. For pro-life candidates, their answer is yes, these are the pro- life judges they want. And for some traditionalists, to be fair, the answer is yes. But the Senate vets judges and shouldn`t try to pre engineer their future votes on the court. That`s a different defense.
Senator Collins claims neither of those defenses. She still claims even now that she`s doing her part to keep the court pro-choice against all this evidence. And respond the Kavanaugh`s new opinion, she cites this as a quote very careful dissent as proof the idea he would still repeal Roe is "absurd." Is it?
Now, we asked Senator Collins office whether pointblank she views Kavanaugh`s ruling as a limitation on abortion access which it is and a narrowing of Roe`s protection or not. She did not reply to those questions today. But if last fall anyone was unclear how then judge Kavanaugh would approach abortion laws on the supreme court, the answer is now clear. Facts matter.
Now, our report tonight does not in any way pretend to address all the strongly held personal moral and religious beliefs on abortion in the Senate or across our nation. But it does reveal that in this important debate, full of people in power and out of power standing up for their views taking risks for their views, fighting for years for their views. Senator Susan Collins record feels herself to be on an unusual island where her stated views are openly, blatantly, repeatedly contradicted by her record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: A candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v Wade would not be acceptable to me.
I`ve always been pro-choice and I will always will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Something we wanted you to know. Now, up ahead a democratic battle plan to investigate Donald Trump comes out and they`re following the money. And later the AOC effect how the star freshman is continuing to impact policy and leadership. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries though, he`s with me live next.
MELBER: Breaking news in its news many have been waiting for in the Russia probe. A federal judge has just ruled siding with Special Counsel Bob Mueller ruling that Mueller has proved Paul Manafort lied to investigators in the midst of his cooperation deal. This is the case everyone has been talking about. We`re going into our breaking coverage a big win for Bob Mueller tonight. Bob Mueller`s prosecutors, here`s the take away, are no longer bound to any lighter sentence.
That means former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort now faces the prospect of a much heavier jail sentence. We have a great guest to go right into this with, someone who`s talked about these issues a lot and is in leadership in the Democratic House, a Member of the Judiciary Committee Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
Congressman, this news broke literally moments ago. I -- we just alerted you about it. I know you haven`t had a chance to read the underlying material all fairness, but what does it mean -- what is your response to the news that a federal judge is siding with Mueller and dialing up the heat on Manafort and that he faces potentially a lot more prison time?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, as continuing evidence that the Trump campaign and associates were involved in it have engaged in lies, deceit, manipulation and an unwillingness to be truthful about what actually took place during the Trump campaign and whether there was a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russian spies to sell out our democracy and artificially placed Donald Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It`s why we need to make sure that the Mueller investigation continues to proceed, allow him to draw whatever conclusions he reaches, and then makes sure that that information is presented not just to the Department of Justice but to Congress and the American people.
MELBER: Based on the information we`re getting right out of the court, and this was one of the biggest developments in the Mueller probe, it was a big deal when they indicted the campaign chair, was a big deal when he flipped and cooperated. It was a big deal when Bob Mueller claimed, that`s an allegation that he committed new crimes by line.
Tonight, here breaking news for the first time, we have a federal judge independently confirming that. So it`s no longer an allegation, it`s now a legal finding. Reading from the materials I have, Congressman, it says here that they found that in three of the five examples that Mueller put forward, the judge said that Manafort had lied to the investigators in the course of the cooperation and the judge agrees Mueller is no longer bound to recommend a lighter sentence.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, bottom line, what does that mean and does that mean you expect Paul Manafort to spend a lot longer time in prison?
JEFFRIES: Well, it appears that there`s a great possibility that Paul Manafort may spend the rest of his life in prison. It`s also an indication that while Paul Manafort and others who were formerly associated with the Trump campaign continued to play checkers, Bob Mueller is playing three- dimensional chess.
He`s one of the most accomplished law-enforcement professionals this country`s history has ever seen. And as a result of that, I`m confident that whatever he finds will be connected to either a conspiracy that existed or will accept the other recommendations that he presents. But he clearly is going to doggedly pursue the truth.
MELBER: Let me read a little more and this is one of those nights where again, I want to be clear with everyone, you only have -- we`re hearing -- I just have handed to me now the innards of the ruling. But I`m going to read two points to it again for your analysis because they are issues we`ve discussed previously. Now there`s a judge`s finding on it.
Number one, the judge finding that they did prove, Mueller`s office did prove that Manafort was lying about his interactions and communications with this individual Kilimnik that Mueller alleges is tied to Russian intelligence. And number two, that he was lying about "another DOJ investigation." Do you have a view of either of those things, one is quite specific and Russia-related, the others is quite intentionally vague.
JEFFRIES: Well, one of the things that`s being explored is what is the level of coordination, communication, collusion, and or conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign like Manafort and Russian spies.
And if Mueller has been able to demonstrate and a federal judge has now concluded that Manafort lied about that August second meeting that apparently took place in New York City at a cigar lounge where it`s possible that polling data was passed along between Manafort and or Gates and someone closely connected to Russian intelligence.
Then that would actually be significant evidence of collusion and coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian effort to break into our democracy and artificially alter the results. That`s a very serious development.
MELBER: So you view that according to again what we`re learning as essentially potentially collusion related. And as I often say in fairness on this broadcast and elsewhere, that doesn`t mean we know anything about the evidence against for example the individual Donald Trump but it does look and I`m asking if I`m understanding you right, like Mueller is saying hey, he didn`t just lie, he didn`t just blow up the plea deal, that would be a big deal.
He lied -- again I`m reading from this -- according to judge finding it was right, matters that were material to the investigation and "his interactions and communications with Kilimnik. I mean, do you -- do you feel that from the Judiciary Committee you know enough to say that that is collusion related?
JEFFRIES: Well, it appears on the surface to be collusion related. But as you indicated, Ari, you know I haven`t been able to review the documents so this is -- this is an Ari Melber freestyle that I`m doing right now. But - - appropriate on this show, by the way. But it does seem to me that this could be additional evidence of possible collusion and direct coordination as it relates to what transpired at that meeting.
And then the question that we all have to ask is why do they continue to lie about their contacts with Russian spies? What were they talking about in meeting after meeting after meeting? And in this particular meeting it also appears that they may have been a discussion about the Trump administration if he became the president easing up on the Ukrainian sanctions which is a matter of great interest to Vladimir Putin.
So again, we`re going to allow the Mueller investigation to run its course, allow him to gather the facts, put it together with the evidence and then make that presentation to the American people.
MELBER: And in your view as your colleagues say that they`re launching new Russia investigations, do they pick up these threads? I mean, one of the things that in fairness we can note is that some of the -- some of the things that are most controversial here may not ultimately be charged as international felonies.
I mean, anyone can run the thought experiment, Congressman, of if the Obama administration had this level of contacts with a different hostile country, pick one, Iran, or if the George W. Bush administration had their campaign manager a caught and now tonight busted chargeable for lying to blow up a plea deal regarding contacts of Cuba. I mean these are big things even if this might be the end of the -- of the charges. Is this -- is this the type of thing you guys may pick up if Mueller is otherwise wrapping up in the next interim short period?
JEFFRIES: Well, here`s what I would say. We`re going to proceed in two ways. First, we`re going to continue our relentless focus on kitchen table, pocketbook issues under our for the people agenda, focused on lowering health care costs, the real infrastructure plan, and cleaning up corruption in Washington D.C. so that we can allow everyday Americans to have a voice in our democracy.
Simultaneously we are a separate and co-equal branch of government. We have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch. That`s not the Hakeem Jeffries playbook, that`s the James Madison playbook. And over the last two years there has been zero oversight done by House Republicans. Why? Because they`ve conducted themselves like wholly owned subsidiaries of the Trump administration. Those days are over.
We`re not going to over reach, we`re not going to over investigate, we`re not going to over politicize but we do have a constitutional responsibility to explore what the heck has taken place with the Trump administration and prior to that the Trump campaign.
MELBER: Congressman, this is one of those breaking news nights. I want to make sure since this is going a little longer than your schedule, can you stay with me for a couple more minutes while I added some voices?
MELBER: OK. The Congressman stays with me, a member of House leadership, the breaking news is Bob Mueller winning tonight. A key ruling that explodes formerly -- former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort`s plea deal, opens the prospect of far more prison time for him and raises some tantalizing new questions.
Congressman Jeffries stays with me. By phone I`m joined by former Federal Prosecutor Paul Butler who has often been of service to us and worked in the anti-corruption section of the D.C. Federal prosecutor`s office and here with me on set my colleague and a Reporter on the Mueller probe, Tom Winter who tracts many of these issues for us.
I guess I`ll do a sound check. Paul Butler, can you hear me?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I can hear you loud and clear, Ari.
MELBER: Your view of the significance of this and then Tom is going to walk us through the three things Mueller won on.
BUTLER: Yes. So I`m taking a look, a really quick look obviously at the judge`s ruling. It`s not a slam dunk for Mueller but what he lost on it`s almost as interesting as what he won on. So he lost basically on the concerns about obstruction of justice and he won on collusion which means that the judge was persuaded that Paul Manafort was intentionally making false statements about the heart of the investigation, collusion.
MELBER: Interesting distinction there and one I think that a lot of people are going to focus in on as we were just discussing with the Congressman. Tom Winter, you are one of the people here who sends out the notes and people devour them. Walk us through this.
TOM WINTER, INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, NBC NEWS: OK, so a couple of things. One, I think the key -- and it is a bit of a split decision if you will if this was a boxing match. The judge says here, look, there`s a payment that surrounds a super PAC that we don`t have all the details to, Ari, because it`s still a part of an ongoing investigation, prosecutors say, and they haven`t fully detailed all the circumstances surrounding. But it does involve a pro Trump super PAC and some sort of payment involving a law firm.
That`s the best that we have right now as far as what this is about. But the judge says that Manafort lied to federal agents and the grand jury about -- something about that. The second thing is it`s this -- it has to do with the contacts and interactions and discussions with Konstantin Kilimnik. And she says that as far as Manafort`s descriptions to the FBI and the grand jury about that, yes, he lied there too.
And then as far as the Manafort`s discussions regarding Trump administration officials and his reach outs or communications with them that he lied about that as well. Regarding the obstruction of justice in how that plays with Konstantin Kilimnik which the judge says the Special Counsel`s Office did not prove that Manafort had lied about that.
I think that has more to do with what Konstantin Kilimnik is charged with along with Paul Manafort so it`s this effort between the two to kind of say hey, that work that we were doing, that was really for Ukraine, it wasn`t Ukraine. And you should tell a couple other people that this is what Manafort was under indictment. They hit him with a superseding indictment. So I think just to follow up on what the former federal prosecutor said there, it`s not specific to an overall obstruction of justice investigation that people have been talking about as it relates to Trump. It`s very specific to the Konstantin Kilimnik.
MELBER: Right it`s the -- right, this is point too where they say basically where Mueller didn`t win was on whether they lied about "Kilimnik`s role in "the obstruction of justice conspiracy" and you`re pinpointing that that is a somewhat narrow.
I want to be clear for viewers because there`s so many angles on this right? And where you sit as they say in Washington it runs where you stand and people care about it for different reasons.
MELBER: It`s a split with regard to Mueller who wanted to win all five. I mean, prosecutors want to win everything.
WINTER: Of course.
MELBER: It`s not really a split decision if you`re Paul Manafort or his family.
WINTER: I`m so -- I`m so --
MELBER: This is very, very bad for the rest of his life.
WINTER: Yes. I`m really glad that you brought that up. I mean, right now the judge essentially says you know, he did lie at several points and because of that -- and because some of the things his own defense counsel has said in this, the plea agreement is off. And what that really means to what you were just speaking to as far as Paul Manafort and his family and his life going forward is that any sort of guarantee by the government that they would bring down his sentence or lighten his sentence going forward, that`s off the table.
MELBER: Which means --
WINTER: Prosecutors don`t have to argue for that.
MELBER: Which means he could be facing up to how many years?
WINTER: Well, it means that he could -- really the bottom line is he could spend most of his remaining days in federal prison.
MELBER: Yes. I mean, that`s a headline. That`s a headline even if they didn`t prove line number four. Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor joins me by phone. Your view, Nick.
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think there`s two big things here. One is this goes to the very heart of Mueller`s investigation. It`s the two conspiracies that were charged against the Russian intelligence operatives where you`ve got Manafort lying about one of those intelligence operatives Konstantin Kilimnik.
And what the judges found is that Mueller -- that Manafort lied about the conspiracy relating to the conspiracy to break into the Democratic National Committee to steal records and lied about the conspiracy relating to the social media and the micro targeting of voters and the use of the voter world -- voter information that he provided to Kilimnik
But I think one of the other big pieces here is that Mueller --- Manafort is going to get hammered with a huge sentence. And the question is, is that going to bring Manafort around to the point or he`s going to have to bare all and cooperate to avoid spending the rest --
MELBER: You`re talking a double backflip? I mean, that was the thing that made him flip the first time, Nick? I mean, it`s a breaking a news story but I think a lot of viewers would say, well, what do you mean? I mean he flipped?
AKERMAN: It`s never too late to cooperate. It`s never too late.
MELBER: And let`s be clear, walk us through -- Tom Winter was just explaining this, Nick, this is not -- when we say life, we mean the rest of his life. This is not a capital crime. We`re not talking about a "formal life sentence" but a man of his age with these type of federal crimes, are we talking in your view -- do you agree with Mr. Winter`s analysis, Nick, that legally you`re talking about the number of years that could be for him an effective life sentence?
AKERMAN: That`s correct -- that`s correct. And he has within a year of his sentence, he can move for a reduction in that sentence under the federal rules if he cooperates. So it`s not over until it`s over and a very heavy sentence like this could wind up basically putting him in a position where he has no choice but to tell the truth.
MELBER: I want to broaden out, Tom. When you look at this news, this win for Mueller on three points which allows him to throw the book back at Paul Manafort, and you combine that with the very tiny clues we got in some of the other recent proceedings about what they`re investigating and whether there were Russia deals, sanctions, or otherwise. Put it all together for us. Thank you, Nick. Put it all -- put it all together for us.
WINTER: Yes. I think the key thing now is -- I mean first off, to Nick`s point. Yes, he could -- he could try to cooperate again or do even a post- conviction post-sentencing cooperation agreement. But to say that Paul Manafort has a credibility problem moving forward potentially any eyes of any future jury would be -- is obvious as saying that I`m speaking me right now.
So I`m not quite sure how that will fit in but time will tell. I think the one thing that is key here is that -- is that clearly the Special Counsel believes that this interaction with Konstantin Kilimnik, somebody the FBI has identified as being somebody associated with Russian intelligence, that this is -- this is one of the key kind of remaining -- I don`t even know if it`s a remaining component because they may already have some of the answers that they`re looking for, but it`s definitely a key part of their investigation and what they`ve been tasked with.
I mean, the overall tasking of them is to look into this Russian interference and they said in this -- in this transcript that we`ve seen that happened in this hearing that they found it unusual that this meeting occurred while Paul Manafort`s Trump`s campaign chairman. He`s the quarterback of the Trump campaign and he`s still taking some time out to visit with his old Ukrainian associate --
MELBER: And who`s calling -- who`s calling the play?
MELBER: And yes. And so you know, what is this about and who has that time if you`re tasked with running a campaign. I mean, that`s typically an all-consuming effort. That`s kind of what they`re leading with there and kind of where they`re going with. We`ll just have to see with that -- where that ends up.
MELBER: Tom Winter from NBC investigations, thank you for jumping right over here. Our viewers will know this was not a planned appearance. It`s a breaking news. I`m sure you`ll be busy thought tonight. We`ll let you keep working your sources. Congressman, you take it all together and you hear our reporter there mention, this goes back to militia theory about ongoing Russian collusion.
We`re not in the obstruction place and we`re not only in the false statements place anymore which some Trump allies have said well what do you really have if you only have Roger Stone only? Of course, it`s a felony but only "on that." This is the Mueller`s prosecutors winning tonight on Paul manna for taking extraordinary personal risk to hide Russia stuff. Is it -- is it in your view a sign that he had something even worse than what he faced in prison to hide?
JEFFRIES: Well, it`s definitely a sign and all we`ve heard from Donald Trump and his allies and sycophants over the last two years is no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. Clearly Bob Mueller is building a case for collusion. And the two recent developments that we`ve seen both with Roger Stone in combination with today`s breaking news as it relates to Manafort continue to get at the possibility that there was a triangular relationship between the Trump campaign, Russian spies, and WikiLeaks in order to sell out our democracy and artificially elect a president.
We`ll have to wait to see when Bob Mueller puts it all together, but the evidence continues to mount and clearly seems to be the pathway that the special counsel is pursuing.
HAYES: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a member of Democratic leadership joining us and I really appreciate you weighing in on an important story literally as it breaks. I know you don`t need a future in breaking news. You have a big job but I appreciate you doing that for us tonight, sir.
JEFFRIES: Absolutely. Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: My thanks to the congressman. Before we go, I give the final word to our last guest Paul Butler who we started the night with. Tie it all together for us in the in the 30 seconds or so we had as people learn this news tonight, come home from work, and find out Mueller won another round against Manafort.
BUTLER: Mueller is on the case on collusion. I think the secret meeting of the cigar bar is key. All three people at this meeting have already been indicted by Mueller but for crimes unrelated to whatever went down at the secret meeting. You know, the other thing is that this point Paul Manafort is probably hating on Rick Gates even more than he`s hating on Robert Mueller because Rick Gates is the star witness.
Rick Gates apparently is telling the truth and he`s disputing what Manafort says and Mueller believes Rick Gates.
MELBER: Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor joining our special coverage on THE BEAT. Thank you, sir. This has been an action-packed hour. I am holding of course only the latest in the saga of U.S. versus Paul Manafort. One of the most incredible cases in a Russia probe that remains open, may be wrapping up as you`ve heard, but tonight Bob Mueller winning on three out of five counts there regarding the allegations that Paul Manafort lied blowing up his own plea deal. Now he faces a much lengthier prison sentence.
That does it for THE BEAT. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END