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Trump caves on wall, declaring National Emergency. TRANSCRIPT: 2/14/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Barry McCaffrey, Trymaine Lee, Alicia Menendez, Mazie Hirono, Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, D.J. Envy

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Among other guests.  He`s at the border.  An important time to be there.

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

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chuck.  I never make light of anything too serious.  But Valentine`s Day is always an emergency for some people who are behind on their gifts, right?

TODD:  Hey, man, I`ll find out in a few minutes if I was on time.  Just trust me.

MELBER:  National or personal emergency, great to see you, Chuck.

TODD:  Thank you, brother.

MELBER:  And as you said, a lot going on in MSNBC tonight.  Thank you.

We have, I will tell you on THE BEAT a truly wild show tonight.  Let me tell you what I mean.  Donald Trump pulling the emergency ripcord, caving on his wall.  What you need to know tonight about this latest gambit.  Some of it matters.  Some of it doesn`t.  We`ve got you covered.

Later, major Mueller action.  The ramifications of his victory over Paul Manafort in court, a new sound that we`re hearing for the first time tonight from one of the most key witnesses Mueller has, former James Comey Deputy Andy McCabe.

And later, hmm, what is that sound?  It is the sound you hear in Washington of another Nancy Pelosi victory over Donald Trump.  We`re going to get into that because the politics here inform the policy and how her hardball explains what Trump is trying to do at the border.

Now, for the first time ever, tonight, the Trump White House officially says President Trump will declare a "national emergency" regarding the border and we are putting, let me be clear tonight, national emergency in quotes not only to quote what the Trump administration is technically saying but also as, yes, scare quotes.

Because legally, Donald Trump does not have the last word on, if this is, indeed, a national emergency that grants him special powers.  The courts will decide that.  And Donald Trump`s rhetorical explanation comes with that context in this one.

Live pictures here as we keep an eye on Capitol Hill tonight.  Lawmakers will move forward on the spending compromise that the Senate reached today.  This is the end game of the cave you`ve heard so much about, a bill that doesn`t include the wall money Trump wanted.

Democrats stressing that Trump`s talk about a national emergency, he is yet to formally declare even this hour, cannot diminish the action in D.C. where Speaker Pelosi has scored another victory keeping government open.  She cautions against Trump`s illusions in a statement late today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER:  Today, we will keep government open.  We will also, as we do so, protect our borders and protect our values.  I know the Republicans have some unease at it no matter what they say because if the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people.


MELBER:  Just think about it.  That`s what the speaker is asking everyone to do.  Let me be clear, this is one of those nights in America where the realities and the illusions are clashing.  It is real and important.

Congress has this budget deal and Trump is caving in to sign it.  It`s real that Trump is again losing on his claims on the wall.  First, that Mexico would fund it, or that the U.S. would fund it, or there would be no budget deal without funding it.

Well, that all ends tonight.  But it ends as a new fight begins with the president of the United States vaguely planning a national emergency.  Now, we have special reporting to separate fact from fiction tonight.

Former Prosecutor Joyce Vance on the law, MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee on the border, Retired Four-Star Army General Barry McCaffrey on the national security, Political Analyst Alicia Menendez on the immigration politics.  And I`ll be joined momentarily by a U.S. senator on what the Congress is doing tonight as Trump caves on the wall.

Let me begin like this.  I want to bring in the general and our former federal prosecutor.  General, first of all, what does it mean when Donald trump claims this will be a national emergency?

BARRY MCCAFFREY, FORMER GENERAL, U.S. ARMY:  I`ve been sort of surprised that the pushback hasn`t been stronger out of Congress in both political parties.  First of all, obviously there`s no national security emergency at the border.  We do grant -- Congress has activated two laws under national security and disaster assistance where we give the president huge latitude.

The U.S. Armed forces have delivered the mail.  We go to hurricane relief.  We`ve intervened and maintained law and order in major American cities.  But whenever that happens, the president has to actually have a justification.  There is none.

So when you look at this, Ari, it seems to me this is a matter of, well, in the future, another president might do this.  This is currently Congress surrendering their principal authority under the constitution, the power of the purse if they allow this rogue action to take place.

MELBER:  Well, what do you mean allow it?  I mean the Congress has got what they want which is a budget with no more shutdown and no major wall funding.  Now, if the president then declares something or says he has something and starts doing something else with it, I mean as Pelosi just warned, it could go to the courts.  But Congress can`t do any magic stick to stop him from claiming something, right?

MCCAFFREY:  Oh, yes, of course, they can.  Yes, they can absolutely negate the presidential action in a heartbeat if they came up with a veto-proof rejection of his action which they should do, both political parties.

Look, in the past, we`ve had presidents overreach.  Roosevelt then turned 100,000 Japanese using national security emergency powers.  We had Truman in the Youngstown steel case.

But at the end of the day, it seems to me if you defy the will of Congress who refuses to fund something and allow the president to get away with this, you`re ending up neutering the principal responsibility of Congress.

MELBER:  No.  I think your point is very well made there.  If there`s one precedent in the Supreme Court that would unite our two guests, it would be Harry Truman saying that he could seize the steel mills, right?  A lot of people think the military should have all sorts of support within the country.  I don`t think that`s a controversial statement.

And yet, Joyce, that case is an example of the limits of the power even in that situation which many scholars would say is far greater than what Trump is saying at the border crisis.  So Joyce, let me play for you Speaker Pelosi today alluding to the fact that, yes, the Congress may step up and also take him to court if he goes too far.  Take a look.


REPORTER:  Do you still plan to file a legal challenge, if and when he does that, and how quickly?

PELOSI:  Did I ever say I was filing a legal challenge?

REPORTER:  You said Democrats --

PELOSI:  I may.  That`s an option and we`ll review our options.  But it`s important to note that when the president declares this emergency.  First of all, it`s not an emergency.  We will review our options.  We`ll be prepared to respond appropriately to it.


MELBER:  Joyce, we don`t know exactly what this will be, but the White House has confirmed, again, for the first time ever, they`re going to do a national emergency regarding the border.  Let me put it to you like this.   If they do that and try to spend significant money, say $5 billion, on the wall that wasn`t appropriated by Congress, do you think they would lose in court?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  I think they will lose in court.  For starters, executive power, what the president is exerting here is that its broadest areas where Congress hasn`t acted or can`t act.  And here, Congress has considered this notion of funding a border wall, and they`ve rejected it.

It`s very much like the Youngstown steel case we all like to talk about where Congress had rejected the notion of seizing steel factories to prevent workers from striking and the court said you can`t do that.  Congress has already made a decision.

So here we have the president manufacturing an emergency.  There`s no crisis on the border.  Immigration down, crime down, and I think the court will be very careful about not authorizing overbroad action if for no other reason than the precedent it would set for, for instance, a future Democratic president to go much further.

MELBER:  Both of you, please stay with me.  As I`ve warned guests, we are going to be waiting here to get in the senator.  I have folks at the border and a lot more.  So everyone, hang tight.

But we turn now, as promised, to someone in the center of the action.  U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii from the Judiciary Committee on a very busy night and on a Valentine`s Day.  Thank you for --


MELBER:  You look great in the red if I can say so.  So thank you for joining us, Senator.

HIRONO:  Thank you.  Sure.

MELBER:  Let me start with this, I would like you and I to go into a time machine.  If we went into a time machine and went back to day one of the shutdown and we looked ahead to this day and found out that after all this Trump administration noise, he would sign not one but two deals to reopen the government with no real wall money and be unhappy about it, that would look like a big victory, quite frankly, for the Democrats, for your party, for Speaker Pelosi.

And yet tonight that comes amidst all this drama about the president claiming a vague national emergency.  How do you make sense of that if we go in and out of that time machine?

HIRONO:  It makes no sense.  That`s plain and simple.  The whole thing doesn`t make sense.

And I hope the people in our country are getting it that this is a president who really doesn`t think through a lot of things and he harmed so many people not to mention our economy with the unnecessary shutdown.  And now, we`re keeping the government running which should be the normal state of affairs.  But with this president, nothing is normal.

MELBER:  Do you view the Senate`s activity today and what the House is going to send as a positive, so amidst the drama, the bill itself coming out of Congress deals well with these budget issues?


MELBER:  Walk us through what is happening.

HIRONO:  Well, what it does basically is that it keeps all of government running until the end of the fiscal year which is what should have happened back in December when the president all of a sudden basically because he got yelled at by whoever it was on "Fox News" that he changed his mind leading to a totally unnecessary, very, very harmful shutdown.

So this is where we are.  And he`s getting less today than what he got, what he would have gotten way back when.  But, nonetheless, he is so fixated on getting his wall that he is now going to manufacture a crisis.

Usually, when the president exercises executive powers and calls an emergency, the emergencies are usually really open and obvious such as a major natural disaster.  There`s nothing open or obvious about this.  It`s only in his own mind.

And this is a president who tests his constitutional powers to the limit.  And this is why there are a couple of things that will likely happen.  There will be lawsuits.  And the House and Senate can pass a joint resolution to terminate the so-called national emergency.

He could veto the termination but we can also override the veto.  That would require the Congress to start acting like the separate branch of government that I have been urging it to act like from the very beginning of the last shutdown.

MELBER:  Interesting you raise that point.  General McCaffrey was also referring to that.  I mean that there`s basically a couple of ways this can go down.  The courts can stop a false national emergency, an indication of special powers.  That`s happened before.  Or as you and the general were alluding to, the Congress can get more involved at that sort of parliamentary level.

Before I let you go, my last question to you is, what if Donald Trump does a kind of a fake national emergency that doesn`t create the kind of test for court?  That he says it`s a national emergency but he doesn`t actually try to swipe any money or do anything big.

What is your view of that?  And is that worth fighting or do you let him have that because it`s hype and you move on?

HIRONO:  Well, the whole point of having a national emergency is for him to get some money for his border wall.  So then if he declares a national emergency, there`s usually some resources that go with the national emergency.  So it would just compound the kind of chaotic thinking from this president.

MELBER:  Understood.  Senator, thank you very much for joining our special coverage on the big night as I mentioned.

HIRONO:  Sure.

MELBER:  I want to broaden out to our entire panel as mentioned.  Federal Prosecutor Joyce Vance still with me, Trymaine Lee at the border, General McCaffrey, and Alicia Menendez.

We`ve just talked a lot about the border, Trymaine.  You`re down there.  What are you seeing?  What does this all mean on the ground?  I believe we`re having audio trouble.  Bottom line, we`re going to work on that.  Trymaine is trying to talk to us.

As he works on that, Alicia, given your knowledge of the issue, I`ll say the same thing, which is a lot of talk about a so-called national emergency.  What do we actually know about what`s going on at the border to that point?

ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE BUSTLE:  Right.  I mean we know that there is not the emergency that we`re being told that there is.  There is not the need for the wall that we`re being told there is.  And in all of this conversation about a national emergency, we`re taking our eye off the legislation that is actually before Congress.

And let`s be honest about the fact that Progressive Democrats feel this is an Ok deal at best, right.  I mean they`re still putting close to $3 billion towards all types of border security.  There`s actually an increase in detention, which was something that they were hoping to see decreased.

And so Democrats feel that they had come in good faith and made a type of compromise that a divided government is supposed to make.  And so for the president now at this hour to say, "Fine, I`ll sign it but I`m also going to declare a national emergency" really complicates what were good faith negotiations up until this point.

MELBER:  Understood.  Trymaine Lee, who is heroically down there working with us and our tech I believe can hear me now.  Trymaine, tell us what you`re seeing.

TRYMAINE LEE, NATIONAL REPORTER, MSNBC:  Ari, clearly, I`m in no man`s land, quite honestly.  I`ve traveled the length of the border, almost 200 miles beginning in Sunland Park to -- in the east all the way to the west.  And which I find really a tale of two cities and two narratives.

When you talk to folks on the border, there are deep, historical, familiar routes between Mexico and the United States.  But you talk to ranchers, mostly white ranchers, they say there is fear because migrants are coming through their land, and they say time and time again they`re a different kind of migrant.  Where in years past, they were hardworking and humble.

And I literally had a woman last night say they`re doing work that no self- respecting white man would do.  It`s that kind of dynamic and that`s changed.  But you hear a lot about this idea of a crisis.

But I went to a school where 70 percent of the students actually live in Mexico but they`re U.S. citizens.  They come every single day.  There`s love in that space.  You talk to the mayor of Sunland Park who says there`s a fence and it just stops because there`s a mountain there and a gap where Mexico is literally a stone`s throw away and they want economic -- a transfer of economic energy, right.

So even though we hear political talk of a crisis, on the ground it`s much different.  But even when you talk to those ranchers, it`s hard to separate what is real and what is kind of that fear and the rumor mill churning.  But certainly, with my own eyes, it`s just desolate.  There`s not much here.

MELBER:  Right.  I mean it`s very interesting hearing you say that and watching what you`re calling the desolate landscape behind you.  And Alicia, this is the issue that makes immigration so bizarre.

I mean, again, I just want to be clear about what`s happening tonight.  This is the breakthrough that people wanted.  The senator says, OK, we`re finally getting it, and it comes with the president doing what is a rhetorical version of the wall, which is a national emergency, which connotes all sorts of things.

For your analysis, Alicia, take a listen to Donald Trump doing exactly what Trymaine was talking about here in a recent appearance down by the border where he claims the wall is being built.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today, we started a big, beautiful wall right on the Rio Grande.  Now you really mean finish that wall because we`ve built a lot of it.


MELBER:  Alicia?

MENENDEZ:  Ari, as you said, that is a lie.  Those walls are not being built.  So we can expect the president to continue to repeat that lie.

But, listen, this is something that he`s been saying since his campaign.  It`s a wall that he not only promised but promised Mexico would pay for and it`s why images are so important.  You know, there`s the summer when the migrant caravan was coming through and we would see those images of migrants coming up to the wall.  Part of the reason was to stoke these fears, to create a sense that there were people.

And let`s be honest, while there`s not the crisis that the president is saying that there is, there is a humanitarian crisis on the other side of the border that is being created by the metering system set up by the Trump administration.

So it`s incredibly complicated but it`s such a complicated issue that we should be talking about it in a holistic robust way and not acting as though a wall that all authorities have said would be wildly ineffective.  We can`t act as though that`s the answer.

MELBER:  Understood.  Really important stuff.  We have so much news happening tonight.  I want to fit in a break.

So Alicia Menendez, Joyce Vance, General McCaffrey, Trymaine Lee, thanks to each of you.

Coming up, Bob Mueller has a new boss tonight with pressure growing on Paul Manafort, this could be the rest of his life in prison.

Also, a key Mueller witness who ran the FBI, Andy McCabe, you see on the screen, you may have forgotten about him.  That`s because he was silent.  He breaks his silence tonight.  We`ll show you what he`s saying and why the White House is attacking him.

And we`re going to break down how Trump got, yes, out-negotiated by Speaker Pelosi and what it means for things to come.

Also tonight, I have a special sitdown with the crew from "The Breakfast Club" and I`m going to ask them all about this big news that Kamala Harris made talking about music, and pot, and race, and the politics in America.  "Breakfast Club" is here in the studio at 30 Rock on tonight`s BEAT.

I`m Ari Melber and we will be right back.


MELBER:  Lots of developments in the Russia probe amidst all the other news tonight.  Bob Mueller now has a new boss.  It`s official.  The Senate confirming Bill Barr today.  This is your new attorney general.

He has direct oversight of everything in the DOJ.  And as he defended during his hearings, he will oversee Bob Mueller in this critical new phase.  Now, Mueller scores a big legal victory against Paul Manafort.

And another Mueller witness is speaking out about the origins of this probe.  This is a man who ran the FBI after James Comey`s chaotic firing.  So the Manafort news is clearly a big deal.  Mueller had convinced a judge that Manafort was lying about a secret meeting with a key Russian at the Grand Havana Cigar Club.  That`s a few blocks away and this was a few weeks after the other secret Russia meeting at, yes, Trump Tower.

Manafort, at both of them, and was in charge of the Trump campaign.  You can see how bad that looks.  You don`t even need Google Maps for it.  And then you could look at this.

Manafort becomes the fourth Trump aide that Mueller says has lied to the feds about contact with the Russians.  Top Dems want to know why.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  The motivation here is if he told the truth about his relationship with someone affiliated with Russian intelligence while he was the campaign chairman, that would be so damaging effectively to Trump that it would negate his chance of a pardon.  That, to me, is quite telling.


MELBER:  Pardons and lies about Russia, looks like the heart of it.  And then there`s this news I mentioned that in any other year would actually be one of the top stories in the nation tonight.  We are hearing from the man who ran the Russia probe between the firing of James Comey and the appointment of Bob Mueller.

Let`s take a listen to his new interview with "60 Minutes" where he discusses a whole lot of the stuff that has apparently made the White House upset.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY FBI DIRECTOR:  I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground.  And if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do that without creating a record of why they`ve made that decision.

WILLIAM PELLEY, HOST, 60 MINUTES:  You wanted a documentary record --

MCCABE:  That`s right.

PELLEY:  -- that those investigations had begun because you feared that they would be made to go away?

MCCABE:  That`s exactly right.


MELBER:  I`m joined by Watergate Special Prosecutor Nick Akerman and Joyce Vance is back with me.  Nick, Andy McCabe was one of those people who`s super important but not everyone remembers.  He literally took over after the firing, at the center of the Russia probe, the removal of James Comey.  He was later ousted in unusual circumstances.  We could cover it at the time.  What do you think of what he says right there in that quote?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR:  I think it`s stunning because it`s not just what he says.  But keep in mind, in March of last year, "The New York Times" reported that people in the Obama administration were doing the same thing.  Everybody was concerned about preserving the evidence of what they had, the intelligence showing that the Russian government and the Trump campaign had conspired together.

They were looking for all kinds of ways to put this into reports to make sure that nobody could actually destroy it and erase it.  And what McCabe has said is pretty much the entire feeling that you get from the people who really know, that are involved with national security, have seen the intelligence reports.  These are people that are so concerned that they are taking extreme efforts to try and maintain all of this evidence so that people around Trump can`t just come in and destroy it.

MELBER:  Yes.  So let`s hash this out a little bit because that`s an interpretation that makes Trump look bad.  And I think a lot of people can understand that because he`s taken so many other obstructive acts calling people rats, telling people not to cooperate.  I mean it looks bad, right?

But -- wait.  But I want to push you on this, Nick.  Because the other interpretation on that alone is it`s only what`s going on in Andy McCabe`s mind.  He says he`s worried that someone may stifle.  He says he had to do this because of his view of the president.

And the president`s lawyers and their team are saying, yes, doesn`t that go to show that rather than being an investigator -- the FBI, they`re not the prosecutors, they don`t decide.  But rather than being an investigator and following the facts, he was making negative assumptions about Donald Trump.

AKERMAN:  Well, on a good basis because he was dealing with a president who he viewed as a mob boss.  Andy McCabe is an FBI agent.  He`s investigated the mob.  He knows what criminals are like.

And in his judgment, he felt that Trump was acting as a mob boss when he went in to see him, when he tried to get him to actually come to the FBI.  Trump was trying to force himself on McCabe to go to the FBI after Comey had been fired.

And on top of it all, it`s not just McCabe.  It was President Obama.  It was people around President Obama.  It was people in the intelligence committee who felt the same way about maintaining the integrity of the evidence that they had gathered, taking the intelligence information, making sure that it was all put into reports so that somebody couldn`t just come in and destroy everything.  And they distributed that around the government.  The fact that there is this feeling among the high level--

MELBER:  The feeling.  Again, I don`t mean to be overly lawyer but it`s a feeling.

AKERMAN:  Well, it`s not a feeling.  It`s based on intelligence that people were reading.

MELBER:  You just said it was a feeling.

AKERMAN:  Well, it`s a feeling based on intelligence.

MELBER:  Joyce, I want to get you on this and play the only other part that we have in this interview.  And as always, look, these are quotes.  We`re going to see his whole book.  We`re going to see more.  I suspect the day will come where we might see Andy McCabe testify in public.

I mean he was in the soup, in the middle of the core of the alleged obstruction.  So he`s seen a lot.  But here he was also talking about feelings and views and moods a little bit in the "60 Minutes" interview about Russia.  Take a look.


MCCABE:  I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency, and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage.  And that was something that troubled me greatly.


MELBER:  How do you read him there and in the earlier quote?

VANCE:  You know the FBI is not an organization that leans liberal.  It`s a law enforcement agency people tend to be fairly conservative.  And I don`t mean that necessarily politically.

MELBER:  Sure.

VANCE:  I mean as a law enforcement community, we like stability.  We like people who follow the rule of law.  In large part, the FBI looked forward to a Trump presidency.  They were concerned that Clinton might do things to undercut the agency`s authority.

So what`s so remarkable to me is this shift in viewpoint.  And although I know we`re talking about feelings, but I think Andy McCabe, who wasn`t a street agent, wasn`t a special agent in charge of the field office but was running the shop after Jim Comey was fired by the president, was in the position to see both FISA covered intelligence, as well as evidence was being compiled, and something gave this man, who had made a career out of doing mob cases, a significant concern.

The circumstances surrounding his departure from the FBI are very muddy.  There`s concerns about his veracity.  But even with that, we have to listen to what he says and see how it stacks up with the available evidence.

MELBER:  I think you make that case, which overlaps with Nick`s argument.  But I think you make it better than Nick.  What I`m saying is you`re a better prosecutor, Joyce.

VANCE:  Not true.

MELBER:  I think you both make very interesting points.  But as Joyce refers to, Nick --

AKERMAN:  Right.

MELBER:  -- because you`re talking about how we came to this view.  There`s a lot we don`t know.  Joyce is talking about the signal`s intelligence, the secret sauce, the stuff that he`s not allowed to discuss even to this day in an interview that may have informed his view.

Now, the other thing I have to ask you about is, again, I don`t like being a cliche.  I don`t like repeating my stories.  It makes me feel like I`m getting older.

But I got to say, it was only 24 hours ago to the hour that you picked up a phone calling in to our control room to say what it means that the person who ran Donald Trump`s campaign could spend the rest of his life in prison because he blew up his own plea deal, because a judge just gave a huge victory to Mueller.

Where a day later, there`s a national emergency and million things going on.  It`s Valentine`s Day.  Happy Valentine`s Day.

AKERMAN:  Thank you.

MELBER:  But I think it`s worth more than a day`s coverage when you look at the legal significance of that.  Walk us through a day later Paul Manafort facing this jail time.  What does it mean that Mueller won that?

AKERMAN:  Well, it means two things.  First of all, you`ve got a judge making a finding that relates to the two conspiracies that have already been charged against Russian intelligence operatives.

So you`ve got a finding with respect to him lying about the Ukrainian peace plan, have lifted the sanctions as a quid pro quo for helping on the campaign, and you`ve got him lying about giving the polling data to Kilimnik, the Russian operative, who most likely used that to micro-target voters.

So that`s extremely significant. This is the first time we`ve actually had a judge make a finding on two elements of the conspiracies that have already been charged against the Russians.  in addition, we`ve got Manafort now in an absolute vice.  I mean, he is going to be hammered with amount to a life sentence for him and his only out at this point -- I mean he can hope for a pardon, but the only other possibility is to come clean.

MELBER:  And we`re -- I`m over on time but the other question I`ve been dying to ask you that I didn`t get to you last night.  Could Manafort ultimately get a heavier sentence than any of Nixon`s aides from Watergate?

AKERMAN:  Oh, most definitely.  In fact, I think the sentences is he`s definitely going to get a heavier sentence.  The sentence is --

MELBER:  So you`re saying and you`re a Watergate prosecutor, all this stuff`s going, you`re telling us tonight what`s different tonight than 25 hours ago is Bob Mueller just secured a longer sentence against the top Trump aide than anyone in Watergate?

AKERMAN:  Except for the burglars who are initially --

MELBER:  No, I said  Trump people not the you know --

AKERMAN:  Right, exactly.  I mean, don`t forget --

MELBER:  You get to the burglars then we`re back to Judge Sirica dropping the hammer on them which keep the whole thing off.

AKERMAN:  That`s right.  And it may happen here again too --

MELBER:  Which you know, if we had more time we would do it Watergate podcast.  We just don`t have that kind of time.

AKERMAN:  That`d be fine.

MELBER:  Nick, we learned so much from you.  Joyce we learn from you.  I almost only kidding about the prosecutorial rivalry.  We need both of you as experts.  Thank you.

VANCE:  Thanks.

MELBER:  Thank you, Joyce.

AKERMAN:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Thanks, Nick.  Fox News hosts have claimed publicly on their T.V. shows that Kamala Harris lied in this big radio interview.  Well, we have a person who actually interviewed the senator and tonight says Fox got it wrong.  But first, the power of Speaker Pelosi on the verge of crushing Trump on the budget when we`re back in 30.


MELBER:  Two big stories coming out of Washington tonight.  Number one, Donald Trump saying he`ll declare a national emergency.  Number two, Speaker Pelosi cornering him on wall funding for the second time.  We`re now looking at live pictures here from the House floor.  Lawmakers beginning debate on the spending bill that has the exact same amount of wall barrier money that Trump would have gotten from the very first deal he says he`s unhappy because it`s not a real wall, not enough to build a wall.

The Times says it`s "arguably the most punishing defeat Trump has experienced as president."  Here`s Pelosi today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:  Welcome to the Democratic Party.  We are not a rubber stamp for anybody.  We are not a monolith.  We never had been.  And who would want to lead a party that would be described that way?


MELBER:  I can also report to you breaking this hour members of Donald Trump`s own party not exactly thrilled with what he`s floating tonight saying he`ll do a "national emergency."  Senator Rubio says it`s a bad idea.  Senator Collins says it`s a "dubious constitutionality."  Senator Ron Johnson says this is "not ideal."

I`m joined by Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO for Voto Latino which works on Latino voter engagement in United States and Alicia Menendez back with me.  Maria, let me start with the big question, the obvious question, is this and I`m putting my bunny ears up, is this a national emergency or not?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Absolutely not, and the American people know it.  They`d basically -- this is a third strikes tear out for the president.  We had three million Americans vote against him when he was up for election 2016.  When it came to the midterm elections he got a shellacking by all of a sudden.  A whole bunch of members coming in, some of them that you had that were basically first time around.  And you also had a wall that basically said no, we are not going to basically support the government shut down for a wall for you.

So this is three strikes you`re out --

MELBER:  So is Pelosi getting him where she needed him other than the fact that he`s talking about emergency?

KUMAR:  Absolutely.  The beauty of Nancy Pelosi is that she understands how to use every single arrow in her quiver.  She understands the legislative process.  She says you can go ahead and try to file a national emergency but then I`m going to provide a resolution that is going to be voted by the House that it`s going to be passed and then the Republicans are going to be a face to say which side of this country re you want when it comes to the Senate, and that is not a small feat buyer.

MELBER:  Not at all.  I mean -- and you break it down quite clearly.  Alicia, this really is about immigration, it`s about politics, but it`s also very clearly about in a field -- and I think we have to be clear, a lot of Democrats have been outmaneuvered by Donald Trump at various points.  They`ve certainly went out messaged although people say he fights and plays dirty. 

This is a person with this experience who doesn`t seem to be on the short end of any big issues since she`s taken the gavel.  Let`s take a look at their exchanges.  This was Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi talking about immigration and other issues.  Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You know Nancy`s in a situation where it`s not easy for her to talk right now.

PELOSI:  Mr. President, please don`t characterize the strength that I bring for this meeting as a leader of a House Democrats who just won a big victory.


MELBER:  Alicia, how much of this is Speaker Pelosi teaching Donald Trump how it works when she has the power?

ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BUSTLE:  It`s all about that.  And I think she has taught that in very short order.  Though I also think there`s another lesson to be learned here especially as we go into a 2020 cycle where they`re going to be multiple women contending for their party`s nomination for president which is we often get caught in this inane question about a female candidates likability.

And if there`s anything we can learn from Nancy Pelosi, it is that that is a dated question.  And that when you can express just incredible confidence that`s at the end of the day what wins.

KUMAR:  Well, I think that the fact that the 2020 if we start talking about it,. this is all eyes through 2020.  And if this goes to the court which more than likely if he declares a national emergency, and it will actually get it caught up in the courts.  It will not be declared a winner until the middle of 2020 elections.  The last say Republicans want is to have this thing hanging over them whether or not what the president did, the member of their party, leading their party if it was constitutional not in a very visible state --

MELBER:  You make a great point which is his agenda right, is week by week or even night by night oh talk about an emergency on the night when you`re caving on the wall and a lot of -- I know.  I`ve talked to some of our viewers.  A lot of our viewers see through that.  Now, we`re fair.  We`ll report the facts when the President says he might do this.  That`s something we`re going to touch on but it doesn`t necessarily mean our viewers don`t know oops, Alicia, he just caved on the one thing he said was his thing.

MENENDEZ:  Well, and on top of that I think you can see that Speaker Pelosi is seeing the bigger picture and the longer arc when she warns Republicans that this same emergency authority could be used by a Democratic president for anything.  She used the example of gun control legislation, others have used the example of climate change.  This -- that`s a very arguably dangerous precedent that can be used by presidents for years to come.

MELBER:  And you brought up, Alicia, some of the what you call dated ways to look at women candidates.  I wish I could hold you over.  We`re about to get into that in the next block about Kamala Harris taking on Fox News and a lot of people saying she`s winning on that issue.  Maria and Alicia, thanks to both of you.

KUMAR:  Thank you.

MENENDEZ:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Up ahead, that`s the story we`re going to get into.  A lot of conservatives and Kamala Harris about a very specific thing she said in a radio interview.  The host of that very show The Breakfast Club speaking out but actually rebutting Fox News` claiming.  We`re going to talk about a whole lot more.  That is next.


MELBER:  The 2020 fight is getting very real.  Democrats jumping in speaking out and some of the media stops on this presidential campaign trail are expected and traditional.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  The first heavyweight to announce that you are going to go ahead with this exploratory committee, why are you going first?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Well, look, I want to be in this fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you have an announcement you`d like to make?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA:  I`m running for president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you bring to the table?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY:  Well, I have a very unique little path.


MELBER:  That is the usual way that candidates come out in this early season.  A staple for candidates for years is going and talking on television.  But there is a very new stop that is undeniably right now important in this 2020 race and if you haven`t heard of it, here you go.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, CO-HOST, BREAKFAST CLUB:  A lot of black people`s feel like they don`t trust you because you mispronounced Beyonce`s name.  Have you managed to say it correctly yet?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES:  Well, you just said it correctly.  Beyonce, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you willing to stand with African-American people.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  I`m going to stand with African-American people against racism.

ANGELA YEE, CO-HOST, BREAKFAST CLUB:  You did announce that you were running on the first day of black history month.

BOOKER:  Yes.  Folks are starting to lose faith in this nation.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  Now you`re a 2020 presidential candidate.

HARRIS:  I am.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  Why?  Why did you do that to yourself?

HARRIS:  We have seen American values under attack.  We have seen the American Dream under attack.


MELBER:  You`ve been looking at The Breakfast Club.  And joining me for the first time ever, all three hosts of that very show, Power 105.1 the Breakfast Club syndicated across the nation.  Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee, and D.J. Envy.  Good morning everybody.  It`s the Breakfast Club.


ANGELA YEE:  Good morning.


MELBER:  It is hard to get people as busy as the three of you together.  Thank you for coming on THE BEAT.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  Thank you for having us, Ari.

D.J. ENVY:  Thank you for having us.  I appreciate it.

MELBER:  Absolutely.

YEE:  We love watching your show.

MELBER:  Thank you.  Charlamagne, why are these 2020 candidates who aren`t even getting through all the new stops yet coming to talk to the three of you.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  Because they`re Democrats and we`re the Breakfast Club and everybody knows that a large majority of our audience is African- American, you know, black and brown people and I mean, Democrats like to talk to black and brown people.  And I think that they know that every black and brown person isn`t necessarily saying this year hey, we`re voting Democrat just because we`ve been loyal to the Democratic Party for a long time.

And a lot of people feel like we`ve been loyal to them for a long time for no reason.  So I think they`re ensuring that they get the black and brown vote.

MELBER:  So you`re saying your power in 2020 is because of your audience.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  100 percent.  They`re not coming to talk to us three.  It`s only because of our large audience.  That`s it.

YEE:  And the all want to get that vote from the millennials too, from a younger audience and get them out in voting so I think that`s important.

MELBER:  You guys are very direct often in your questioning, even different than some traditional news questioning.  Let`s look at this exchange with Kamala Harris on "blackness."

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  What do you say that people questioning the legitimacy of your blackness?

HARRIS:  I think they don`t understand how black people are.  Because if you do, if you walked on Hamptons campus or Howard`s campus or Moor House or Spellman our Fisk, you would have a much better appreciation for the diaspora, for the diversity, for the beauty in the diversity of who we are as black people.  So I`m not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are.


MELBER:  Right answer?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  Yes.  And you know, the edge, the beauty about that question is that only I could ask that question.  Only a black person could ask that question.  Like she couldn`t go on this show, Colbert, or Good Morning America, white person couldn`t ask that question to her.  How can a white person ask a black person about their blackness?  So she could only be asked that question on The Breakfast Club.

MELBER:  And how does that work for the white candidates that you want to interview because you have them too?


D.J. ENVY:  You know, we`ve been asking about their agenda is for black people, absolutely.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  Whatever you said is correct though.  Like yo, we want an agenda for black people.  It seems like all of these other groups are always being represented.  They have agendas for all these other groups.  But when it comes to African-Americans, everybody gets so quiet like oh, a rising tide lifts all boats.  It`s about all Americans.  No.  What are you specifically going to do for African-Americans?

MELBER:  Let`s look at you pushing candidate Charlemagne on The Breakfast Club.


BOOKER:  Now, I appreciate you keeping the tradition going of black radio.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  You`ve never come before it, Mr. Booker.  Donald Trump told Face the Nation that you don`t stand a chance.  Why doesn`t he believe in you?

If Cory Booker has a specific agenda for black people and if so, what is it?

So you have a specific agenda for these black people.

BOOKER:  I have a specific agenda for the American people which --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Includes uplifting black people --

BOOKER:  But it`s inseparable.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  They -- you know, they say a rising tide lifts all boats.  You don`t really see that in our communities.


MELBER:  Are you deliberately pushing them in a different way than what they get in say news interviews?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  I mean, I`m not even paying attention to the news interviews.  I`m not a journalist.  Like, I don`t consider myself an expert at anything.  I`m just a person that`s really trying to figure out who I`m going to vote for in 2020.  So to me, I just feel like a regular person having a conversation with a potential presidential candidate.

MELBER:  Do you think it`s a risk for candidates to come on the show the way they are?

YEE:  I think that we`re going to look at what are they done in the past and hold them accountable for things that they have or haven`t done.  But I think it could be beneficial if they`re prepared for it.  I think a lot of politics are very polished and they give generic answers because they know questions are typically asked.  But when you have a conversation and they`re not used to it, that`s when you really get the candid answers.

MELBER:  And that`s what`s fascinating.  You guys are blowing up right now because of an exchange with Kamala Harris that people have -- I`ll just say, people been lying about.  But we`re a new show here so we`ll just do the truth of it, but you could call it you know Watergate, you could call it Snoop Dogg-gate.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  They can call it (INAUDIBLE) on it.

MELBER:  (INAUDIBLE).  You can call it D.J. Envy-gate if we want --

YEE:  It`s his fault.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  It`s his fault.  Literally, it`s Envy`s fault.

D.J. ENVY:  It`s not my fault.

MELBER:  So let me catch everyone up.  This is something that again, there`s different conversations going on.  This is a big conversation on internet I would say on what`s called black Twitter and in certain communities but other people may not have caught it yet.  You had a long I would say policy-oriented of exchange with Kamala Harris about all kinds of stuff, prosecution, racism in the law, marijuana which has been decriminalized, yes sir.  And Fox News came out and they basically lied about one part of the exchange.


D.J. ENVY:  What does Kamala Harris listen to?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  What were you listening to when you were high?

HARRIS:  Oh my goodness.  Oh yes, definitely Snoop, Tupac for sure.

D.J. ENVY:  What are you listening to now?  What`s your favorite hip-hop artist now?  What`s you favorite --

HARRIS:  You know, I really loved -- its Cardi B.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That was on the so-called world`s most dangerous morning show The Breakfast Club.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Seven years after she graduated from undergrad, Snoop Dogg`s debut album was released and five years after she graduated from undergrad Tupac`s album was released.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So she doesn`t remember what she was listening to and she was smoking.


MELBER:  D.J. Envy, did Fox News lie on your interview.

D.J. ENVY:  Absolutely, positively lied.  I mean, we wanted to humanize her and not just talked about politics.  Talk about what she likes, what she does.  And I asked what she listens to and she said she listens to Snoop Dogg and Tupac.  At the same time, my co-host was still talking about the marijuana.  And it was just a funny exchange.  But she was actually answering me and people took it that she was answering Charlemagne and said she was lying which is not true.

YEE:  I`m not going to lie.  I`m going to lie.  I wasn`t there that day, so I was like 0h my God, I can`t believe she said that.  Because after you see everything on social media, I wasn`t there so I was like wow, she`s totally lied.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD:  And I want everybody to know they`re doing the work of Fox News.  The black Twitter people you see that are going in on Kamala because of this, you all are doing the work of Fox News.  Fox News got you all.  They got you all.

YEE:  That`s why you have to listen to it yourself because when then I had to go and listen to it myself to hear what really happen.


MELBER:  I think that is something that radio and the news have in common which is learning with your own ears before you make up your mind which is why again we`re seeing 21 candidates stop by The Breakfast Club.  Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, D.J. Envy, thank you.

D.J. ENVY:  Hey!


MELBER:  Hey!  And up next, the House will be beginning debate here on this spending bill.  No money for the border wall.  We got a lot more on that when we return.


MELBER:  Breaking news.  We have a new Attorney General and the White House has just released the photo evidence of the swearing in.  This is America`s new Attorney General Bill Barr who is of course in charge of the Mueller probe.  You will note that President Trump observing this.  He is also a person who is of interest in that investigation and Chief Justice John Roberts who could rule on a whole range of issues.  This photo right here is a picture of American law and investigations as we turn a big new page. 

There`s also more developing news as we look at live pictures from Capitol Hill.  The debate out in earnest, Lawmakers discussing how they will move forward on this compromise that`s been reached a bill to keep the government open, fund the government without any of the wall money.  That`s why Trump says he`s unhappy and has talked tonight about declaring a "national emergency."  Details on that may be forthcoming.  We`ll be back in a moment with some more news on Beto O`Rourke.


MELBER:  You may have heard about this as a lot of news is breaking, it`s also a very big night in our special reporting on MSNBC.  Live coverage of this House vote to end any prospect of a government shutdown and funding the government without any money for any border wall.  This is something Donald Trump has been claiming lately is already being built.


TRUMP:  Today, we started a big, beautiful wall right on the --

AMERICAN CROWD:  Build that wall!  Build that wall!  Build that wall!

TRUMP:  Now, you really mean "finish that wall" because we`ve built a lot of it.  It`s finish that wall.


MELBER:  And Donald Trump has announced tonight for the first time in his presidency, there will be a "national emergency."  We`re going to see what they actually detail on that.  And on the reporting side, Chris Hayes with a border special and interviewing Beto O`Rourke for that special show tonight on the border, correspondence in every border say bringing you the truth of what`s on the ground.  "ALL IN AMERICA," a special.  8:00 p.m. Eastern.  Don`t miss it on MSNBC. 

And that`s not all.  Before you go, I want to tell you tomorrow is Bob Mueller`s first day operating under this new boss, the new attorney general. And I`m going to speak tomorrow on THE BEAT to a prosecutor who had a senior job working directly for Bob Mueller, and a U.S. senator and retired four-star general.  We have a lot tomorrow. 

That does it for tonight.  I`m Ari Melber. You`ve been watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber. Up next is "HARBALL" with Chris Matthews.