Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: February 15, 2019 Guest: John Carlin, Gene Rossi, Melissa Murray, Richard Blumenthal, Ralph Peters, Aditi Juneja, Lizz Winstead
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, I have a rhetorical question for you that you can answer or not. If you can schedule it, delay it, and say you just wanted to do it because this was faster, is it an emergency? I guess that`s the question we`re all going to face.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: I -- you know my answer to that is always quoting Getty Lee, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
MELBER: Well, and that`s true in life and governing.
TODD: There you go.
MELBER: I think this is going to be a metaphysical legal rhetorical debate we`re going to be having for a while. Emergency.
MELBER: Chuck, thank you as always. We`ll be watching you on Sunday.
This is, here on THE BEAT, another Mueller Friday. As Mueller`s prosecutors win a new ruling to gag Roger Stone. That just happened. And it`s big. Mueller also dropping the hammer on Paul Manafort. He`s making a new push asking a federal judge to sentence Manafort to prison immediately.
Those developments obviously ominous for several Trump figures in the Russia probe and they come as President Trump used this rambling and bizarre press conference, and I say that even by 2019 standards, to claim a "national emergency" at the border while also undermining himself. That`s a story I just mentioned with Chuck and we`ll be covering it later on tonight.
But we begin with today`s ruling against Trump`s long-term Adviser Roger Stone. It goes right at what Roger Stone prizes most, his ability to make this case in public. This federal judge finding Mueller won the arguments for a partial gag order. That means it bans Stone and his lawyers from public remarks that would prejudice jurors as well as even talking at all when they come and go from the court.
Now, anyone watching Stone`s recent conduct knows that will require him to change gears or go to jail. Because Roger Stone has been doing those exact things since being indicted for witness tampering, talking in front of the court, doing media tours and likening the FBI to "Nazi police" in these media appearances. That`s the kind of thing that could prejudice jurors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ALLY: To storm my house with a greater force than what`s used to take down Bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar.
They sent fewer men to go after Bin Laden than after me.
I saw a dozen other FBI Agents in the background, all wearing night goggles, full SWAT gear. To make me look guilty in public, to poison the jury pool and make me look like El Chapo or some kind of drug kingpin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: El Chapo and Escobar. There`s an old saying, Escobar season has begun. Well tonight, Escobar season just ended with a gag order. So that`s one famous Trump narrator gagged.
And we learned today as well that his current narrator in the White House also faced Bob Mueller`s team. This is the first time we have ever reported this. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was interviewed by Mueller`s prosecutors. This is coming out now.
It occurred in the fall, a period when prosecutors spoke to other White House heavyweights including John Kelly. Reports are that Mueller`s team may be interested in what Sanders knew about the Trump Tower cover-up story and if what she told the public may differ from what she says when she is effectively under oath.
I am joined by someone who is really perfect to discuss all of this with, John Carlin was chief of staff to Bob Mueller. I`m also joined by former Federal Prosecutor Gene Rosy and Melissa Murray, a law professor at NYU. Thanks to each of you.
On the Mueller piece, each of you are legal experts in various ways. But on the Mueller piece, John Carlin, what would Bob Mueller want to know from this person who plays a spokesperson role? Would she really have the juice on anything else?
JOHN CARLIN, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DOJ NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION: Well, I think you need to ask and expect them to thoroughly and diligently investigate the facts as they have to ask her. Often the person in that role is privy to conversations with the principles inside the White House. So it`s an opportunity to learn what did she know before she made certain public statements that might appear to be designed to influence people outside of the White House and explore what the basis was for those statements.
MELBER: Interesting when you put it like that. Let`s take a look, then, at some of what she was saying about all of this controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The statement that Don Jr. issued is true. There`s no inaccuracy in the statement. He certainly didn`t dictate.
REPORTER: The outside counsel did weigh in saying that yes, the president did dictate the statement. Do you want to correct the record on your statement from August when you said he certainly didn`t dictate?
SANDERS: Once again, I`m not going to go into detail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That may have been a safe answer. Would that answer suffice when she`s in this Mueller interrogation room?
CARLIN: Well, I think that`s a great example of where -- no, it would not suffice, and where they could go into detail to see what the basis was for her original statement. Was it part of some plan to obstruct or hide what the real purpose of the meeting was for? Or was it something that she came up with on her own? The only way to know is to put someone to the test.
And if there`s one thing you know about the Mueller team to date is that if you are going to go in and answer questions that you need to do so truthfully and completely because they already have gathered a lot of information, and they`re quite prepared to bring charges if you intentionally state falsehoods to the investigators or the grand jury.
GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: All I can say is, to quote you, Ari, mo Mueller, mo problems.
MELBER: I was quoting someone else but I take your point.
ROSSI: I know and I hate to be facetious but I will be bubbly serious. John hit the nail on the head. I had a witness in the Manafort trial. And let me tell you this, we went through five prep sessions.
They have every e-mail. They have every text. They have talked to multiple witnesses. And for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be interviewed by Mueller is a bad day at the White House, period.
And there are a couple of reasons why. One, executive privilege goes out the window because she`s out there being a spokesperson for the president, and he`s giving her information that is intended for the public, no privilege.
MELBER: Let`s pause on that. You`re rifling through them but that`s such an interesting point you raise. I mean I didn`t even mention in our introduction there are people who at least have some claim to executive privilege and then you can fight over it.
You`re saying she might be a valuable witness beyond some of the others because it`s not even a fight. She doesn`t have that private role. She`s only there to emit.
ROSSI: Absolutely. I used to do criminal tax cases and civil tax cases. A lot of the taxpayers had attorneys. But when those attorneys would talk to the IRS, it`s not privileged what the client said to the attorney.
The same principle applies here. That`s deep trouble for the president of the United States, period.
MELBER: And Gene, do you know the longer version of that quoted chorus that we just discussed? The mo Mueller we come across, the mo problems we see.
ROSSI: Oh, boy.
MELBER: It`s Friday so we can get in deeper. Melissa, you look at all this. That`s just on the Mueller probe gathering information. Then you have the hammer being dropped on Paul Manafort. I don`t think this has fully sunk in. We have been covering it on our show and we`re going to continue to cover it. You could have the guy who was number one on the campaign in jail for the rest of his life.
MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: This is a big deal. The immediate sentencing of Paul Manafort really shifts things. Things are heating up. We said this last week when we talked about the Mueller probe. But again, you`re right, mo Mueller, mo problems.
MELBER: And so when you look at that and him wanting to immediately get this done, what else is there? Because this is the only case, Paul Manafort, where the prosecutors have talked about the prospect of someone angling for a pardon.
And there`s a big difference between everyone else. I mean we all sit here. We pay close Attention. We talk. Sometimes people have conjecture.
This isn`t that. This was for whatever reason, as part of the case they were building, which they won on three of five lies, saying they thought he was angling for the pardon, which means, of course, he could get an effective life sentence and still be angling.
MURRAY: So asking for a sentence at this point I think speaks to, one, the anger over what Paul Manafort has done. I mean, it`s unorthodox to be cooperating with the government and then to be angling for a pardon at the same time and perhaps misstating things in order to acquire that pardon. So there`s definitely that.
But also, this is definitely building up in terms of who else might be implicated and getting Paul Manafort off the table and into a cell is a way of sort of clearing room to start talking about some of the other people.
MELBER: Do you think Donald Trump who clearly flouts all kinds of rules, he did it on this so-called emergency, looks at all this and says maybe I`ll pardon him sooner. I don`t need to wait until the end of the probe, which is what some have done like in Iran Contra.
MURRAY: So there is nothing about this president that goes by the book unless the book is autocracy for dummies but anything is possible. We have seen a lot of strange things. This is -- I have never seen anything like today.
MELBER: But do you think it shows that there`s some limitation on him? I mean somebody is giving him some advice, not -- oh, this would be good for the republic or what`s fair, but it could hurt you, Mr. President, if you get out in front of this and pardon Paul right now.
MURRAY: So, obviously, someone is giving advice. And I think it`s probably fair to say someone is telling him that the provision of a pardon right now looks terrible for him. But this is also a president who flouts the rules all of the time, right.
So to be -- the idea that he might be bounded by any sense of propriety I think, it`s a big leap to make, possibly. But I mean it`s only Friday.
MELBER: It`s only Friday. Gene, on the Roger Stone part, walk viewers through, are we going to be hearing less from him? I hear from viewers of THE BEAT sometimes, why do we play this sound, why do we hear from that person?
Well, when things happen with people who are under indictment, including in Roger`s case, allegations that the Trump campaign sought his help getting stolen Russian material, we`re going to report on what he says. What does this gag order mean about us hearing perhaps less from him?
ROSSI: Well, it`s a two-part gag order. Part one is it puts a gag on the attorneys for both sides. Of course, Mueller is not going to say anything. And it also puts a gag order on the attorneys for witnesses.
Part two is it puts a partial gag order on Roger Stone. I suppose it`s a thousand feet rule. He can`t run his mouth within a thousand feet of the courthouse. And he can`t go on media to make statements that substantially prejudice the jury pool.
So it`s not a full-fledged gag order against Roger Stone but let me tell you what`s going to happen. Roger Stone cannot help running his mouth. And he`s going to get on T.V. He`s going to anger Amy Jackson, the judge. And she`s either going to hold him in contempt, detain him, or impose a full-fledged gag order on him. And it`s probably going to take a week for that to happen.
MELBER: You`re saying a week. We can get you over/under on anyone who wants to play. I mean look contempt means jail, right?
MELBER: And so the question then is does Roger Stone and his lawyers, instead of debating the core issues of this case where I have pointed out they have some reasonable arguments, do they want to spend their time arguing over what prejudices a jury?
And it`s interesting, the one person in America who Bob Mueller has alleged was victimized by Roger Stone is coming to his defense at least on the limited issue of the gag order tonight. We have this here on THE BEAT. Randy Credico who folks will remember was a key witness in this probe says, quote, tonight, "I`m a First Amendment purist, and even though I have been and will be the victim of Roger Stone`s attacks, I have reservations about the gag order." John Carlin, what do you think of that?
CARLIN: Look, I think this judge has shown she`s quite serious about not turning her court into a circus, and not allowing jurors to be influenced unfairly, and not allowing witnesses to be tampered with. And if you recall, she issued a similar gag order in the Manafort case when they pushed the limits. She was not shy about telling him and his legal team that they better knock it off or she was going to enforce the order. So I think Stone ought to take notice of that.
In terms of the First Amendment, these are carefully crafted to balance the interest of having a fair trial and proceeding with the First Amendment. And I think her order is well within the First Amendment bounds, and particularly in the case where what he -- one of the things he`s charged with is witness tampering. So there`s good reason to believe that the statements are designed to impede or obstruct justice.
MELBER: Yes. You put that in a pretty straightforward way. I mean, look, I as a First Amendment person myself have reported on the precedence here why anything that`s overbroad, we should be concerned about.
Having said that, you`re pointing out that if it`s limited to basically upholding the propriety of the court process, prejudice being a real issue there, and the guy has tampered allegedly according to Mueller with witnesses, he`s not above tampering allegedly with jurors.
CARLIN: That`s exactly right. And Gene pointed out that part of the quarter is very particularly tailored and it`s just saying basically you can`t go onto the steps of the courthouse where witnesses might be coming in or prospective jurors, turn it into a circus by holding big press conferences.
MELBER: Right. I mean the judge is basically saying this is a formal government property where there is due process and protections, and we`re not going to turn it into some kind of reality show set. Obviously, you don`t want to see a government building, Melissa, turned into the Senate reality show. That wouldn`t happen in America.
MURRAY: Never, never.
MELBER: Never. Never say never.
MELBER: Here`s what I`m going to do. I`m going to fit in a break. My special thanks to John Carlin and Gene Rossi for your expertise. Melissa stays. Thanks to each of you.
ROSSI: Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up, Donald Trump himself has just now unloaded and given his critics and his legal challengers one of the best arguments against the national emergency, admitting he didn`t have to do this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn`t need to do this. But I would rather do it much faster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is I didn`t need to do this the new definition of an emergency? We`ll get into that later.
Mueller`s team also looking at collusion as a lawmaker makes quite an extraordinary speech. We want to show you. You`re going to need to see this from the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: What does Putin have on our president? We can consider the possibility that the president is an asset of the Russian government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And news about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I`m going to bring it to you later.
Plus, a Fallback Friday with Senator Richard Blumenthal and our friend, Lizz Winstead. It is a big show.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: It is another Mueller Friday. A judge today issuing this new gag order against Roger Stone, banning him or his attorneys from speaking to the media from the courthouse. The judge stating the court is concerned about tainting this potential jury pool.
Mueller also closing in on Paul Manafort. A judge now is being asked to sentence him to prison ASAP. All this comes as we`re learning that Mueller has also expanded his list of witnesses broader than we previously knew. The news tonight, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was interviewed at least late last summer or early fall.
I`m joined now by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal from the Judiciary Committee and a former federal prosecutor. Thanks for being here.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you.
MELBER: When you look at these events coming together, Bob Mueller is on the job with a new boss, Bob -- Bill Barr, excuse me. And he`s moving forward in all these ways. What does it mean to you?
BLUMENTHAL: What it means is that more pieces in the mosaic are coming together. The walls are closing in on Donald Trump. And remember, it`s not only the Mueller investigation, but there`s virtually no aspect or facet of Trump world not under investigation right now. Mueller`s one aspect of it but there`s also the Southern District of New York.
It`s the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, the Trump campaign, the Trump associates, who are going into the grand jury. This kind of progress says to me he`s done with Manafort. He wants him sentenced in prison. He is talking to people who are closest to the president, his communications person, who is sitting in on many of these meetings.
And I know from my experience that the people who talk to the press for me have to know what`s really going on. So the chances are that Sarah Huckabee Sanders knows something.
MELBER: You find an interesting point. I mean you`re finding your communications director is going to be in the loop on key things.
BLUMENTHAL: Very much in the loop. And I think that`s an important takeaway here. And also is speaking for him, so the obstruction, the lies, and there`s no question that there were lies, for example, about the Trump Tower meeting. Donald Jr.`s role in it, the subject of discussion, which then were involved in a deceptive statement issued by the president.
MELBER: I want to get your view as well, given the Judiciary Committee and your background, on what it means to have the person who was number one in Donald Trump`s campaign now facing what he could face? I want to compare this to Watergate, as so often people compare these rhetorically and stylistically.
Let`s look at the numbers. Here you have four and eight years from John Dean, Mitchell, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman. Take a look at what Manafort faces. Potentially decades. We don`t expect he would Actually get all of that, but what does it mean to you, if at the end of the day, Mueller is securing longer prison sentences for a top aide like this than anyone who worked for Nixon in Watergate?
BLUMENTHAL: What it says to me is that Manafort has engaged in a pattern and consistent practice of lying, seeking to cover up in all kinds of ways that we saw the special counsel actually prove to the judge. For example, giving polling data to Kilimnik, a Russian agent, discussing a secret Ukraine peace plan that would have been favorable to the Russians and then lying about it.
And the question is why was he lying? Was he just a congenital liar? Or was he trying to cover up for the president in the hope of getting a pardon involving all of those years?
MELBER: You say congenital. I will say it`s funny to try to give someone a fairness defense that makes them look terrible. But there are Trump aides who told me, look, Paul lied about everything. He would literally lie about the color of his tie like it was his thing. That doesn`t mean he also didn`t lie about important things, but that`s a defense I`ve heard.
Before I let you go out of this segment, the president says, "It`s a national emergency", but "it`s one that he could have done later or not at all." Does that mean legally it`s not an emergency in your view?
BLUMENTHAL: I think that the lawyers arguing for the president are going to say that the court should defer to the president. The deference argument is the chief, one, that he has going for him, and it is certainly defeated or tends to be greatly undermined by that statement.
It`s also undermined because he`s acting in direct defiance of Congress. And as you know, the Youngstown steel case says that the argument for deference is at its weakest when it`s in defiance of Congress. So I think --
MELBER: Leave it to Richard Blumenthal to go full Youngstown as law school nerds would say. I mean that`s the classic precedence that overruled Truman. Can I ask you something that`s not legal, that`s just basic?
What is the point of what you and everyone in Congress does in both parties if you have years-long debates over how to fund the government? The Constitution says you have the funding power, any president, could be a different president in the future, says no, "I`m going to spend billions a different way because I declared something." I mean doesn`t that defeat the whole point?
BLUMENTHAL: And that is also a key legal argument if I may come back to the --
BLUMENTHAL: -- because, again, in Youngstown, in all of the cases that talk about deference, this power of the purse is a core constitutional prerogative. And that`s why we`re going to support a resolution. We`re writing it right now.
That will be considered by the Congress the week after next. And there will be, as you mentioned, both parties, there will be bipartisan support for it because what the president is doing here is in effect seizing power.
BLUMENTHAL: He is usurping the constitutional norms. And he`s also, by the way, very, very importantly, militarizing the border.
BLUMENTHAL: And he is politicizing the military because the section of the law that he`s acting under, 10-USC-2808 requires the involvement of the military in order for him to take this military construction funds, even under this law, the National Emergency Act.
MELBER: Right. You laid it out so clearly. This obviously is a huge deal we`re going to keep covering it and probing into, in journalism and Congress as a nation. I just think it`s so important.
Everything seems polarized. This isn`t ideological. This could very well be in a few years whether President Bernie Sanders can take $100 bill and give it out for college without getting it to Congress. And there`s a constitutional question there, separate from whether you like to give and go at an issue.
Senator, I`m excited to say I`m not letting you go. We`re going to keep you around for your first Fallback Friday in a few minutes. I`m going to fit in a quick 30-second break when I have Malcolm Nance talk about, yes, this question introduced on the floor of the Senate. What does Putin have on Trump? And Donald Trump`s wild day undermining his call for an emergency when we`re back in 30.
MELBER: Donald Trump`s headed down to Mar-A-Lago in Florida. Obviously, that`s a thing you do during a national emergency. Trump`s also given a Rose Garden announcement that I can only factually describe as rambling and at times illogical because it did undermine the core purpose of the presentation that there would be an emergency.
I have some great guests so let`s just get right to it. Starting with Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters. First of all, good evening, sir. Always nice to have you on a Friday.
RALPH PETERS, STRATEGIC ANALYST AND AUTHOR: Ari, good to talk to you.
MELBER: Good to talk to you. Is this as a national security matter, apart from what people think about immigration, does it look like a national security emergency to you?
PETERS: No, not an emergency. Certainly, the border is a matter of national security but to describe the current situation as an emergency is an utter travesty. And Ari, you`re the lawyer here. You know that the Supreme Court is probably going to have to resolve this.
And by the way, something I haven`t heard people talking about is the military lawyers need to be looking at whether ordering the military to use funds allocated for another purpose to build a wall or anything else on the border is a lawful order. So there are a lot of layers to this but the bottom line is this.
We face real foreign policy crises and they`re primarily with Donald Trump`s BFFs. Putin, Xi, Kim, and if you want to invoke emergency powers, it should be about Russians and others interfering with our election.
MELBER: Is that a situation room term there, BFF, or is that a Valentine`s Day hangover?
PETERS: Yes. Well, that`s a -- I think it`s a technical term between -- well, I`m not even going to go there with Trump`s personal life.
MELBER: No, I wasn`t asking you to go there. I was just trying to make sure I know what the acronym -- in the military, they use a lot of acronyms. BFF can be in there as well.
Let me play for you -- again, part of our job is to take things seriously even if people in power don`t. So folks who watch this show know we try to just deal with the evidence. I`m not here to make a lot of judgment calls about how Donald Trump talks and all that kind of stuff.
But let me play for you something that is happening in this statecraft as he tries to seize billions of dollars. This was how he made the case today. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued. And they will sue us in the ninth circuit even though it shouldn`t be there. And we will possibly get a bad ruling. And then we`ll get another bad ruling and then we`ll end up in the Supreme Court. And hopefully, we`ll get a fair shake. And we`ll win in the Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What does that say to you, trying to take it seriously over whether he understands and upholds the obligations of his office, given how serious this is and how many people`s lives it affects, the Constitutional dimensions, people at the border, the military, as you mentioned, as he does it in what some critics are calling a kind of really blase (ph) nursery rhyme.
PETERS: Well, you`re assuming that Trump still has some moral center somewhere and it`s evident that he does not. He does not care about other people. He`s a classic narcissist. He doesn`t love this country.
And he`s right that it`s going to end up in the Supreme Court, I think. And then we shall see the quality of the recently appointed justices because this is so fundamental to our Constitution. It could not be more so.
The founding fathers weren`t stupid. They were wise about human nature. They knew that not every president was going to be ideal. That`s why we have checks and balances.
Unfortunately, neither they nor the legislators 200 years later who passed the National Emergency Act, could foresee, could imagine someone like Trump becoming president.
MELBER: Well, let me press you on that because you`re getting now to the heart of it which is what are the guardrails do in our system. You know, you go to law school or you go to the military training that you do, you`re taught a kind of a reverence of the Constitution of the Founding Fathers. I always say they did amazing things for their time and they were also wrong about all sorts of things. If you -- if you have a three-fifths compromise you`re 100 percent wrong about one of the most fundamental things.
And yet in the system of government they said, well, the Congress will check the executive. Ambition will check ambition. And anyone who`s been in any office politics fight in their life is familiar with that, that people will represent their own ends. They tried to turn that to good and you just refer to that sir. And I want to play for you some of the Republicans who up until this press conference today we`re saying well we`ll step up to this. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I don`t think he should do that. I think it`s a bad precedent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would just be another erosion of congressional authority.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I do not see the grounds for declaring a national emergency.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I`m not crazy about gone down that path.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate the idea of an emergency because I always worry about that abuse with future presidents.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think would be a terrible idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What is their obligation now given that constitutional dimension that you -- that you brought up?
PETERS: Well, their obligation is as clear as could be. It is to be a check on extravagant claims of present presidential prerogatives and power. There`s no question about that. And I am an Independent. I am certainly not here to lobby for the Democrats, but the Republican Party is in danger of losing --
MELBER: You`re not a huge -- you`re not a huge AOC liberal? I got confused.
PETERS: Well, AOC is Trump`s best friend except perhaps --
MELBER: All I mean is I don`t think anyone who`s watched -- who`s watched your commentaries confused. You come to this from your background and you`re disturbed by it but not as a not as a Green New Deal super lefty as far as we know.
PETERS: No. Sir, I`m concerned because as a military officer I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States. The most important document in my view in the history of politics and human government, and that beautiful document, that wise document to us have to be defended from time to time. And now it is down to the Senate Republicans above all to do their duty not to a political party, not to a president rogue or otherwise but to the Constitution of the United States.
So many people have died and bled for that Constitution. The least the Republicans could do in the Senate would be to risk a primary challenge. It`s not exactly Omaha Beach indeed.
MELBER: And you have the chops to say, sir. I appreciate your view on it. Hang with me. What I want to do is broaden this conversation as promised. Aditi Juneja is from the nonprofit protect democracy and they`re filing a suit to take Trump to court over these exact things. She`s also the creator of something called the Trump Resistance Manual, and a Law Professor Melissa Murray who knows the way around these issues back with us as well. What would your suit do? Do you think you`ll win?
ADITI JUNEJA, PROJECT DEMOCRACY: We absolutely think we`ll win. Actually, I think Donald Trump thinks we`ll win. He himself said that he is expecting that this will make its way to the Supreme Court, meaning that he expects to lose in an initial challenge, and his own Department of Justice lawyers leaked commentary saying they`re expecting the declaration to be enjoined. And so you know, I don`t think his lawyers are very confident about this.
MELBER: And that may be why as you refer to it that mood that this isn`t really about doing a thing, it`s about trying to be seen doing a thing. Maybe why he was especially careless -- as I say even by 2019 standard, let me play a little bit more of him today again how can I say it fairly making the case against this being an emergency at his announcement of the emergency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn`t need to do this but I`d rather do it much faster. The only reason we`re up here talking about this is because of the election. This is one of the ways they think they can possibly win is by obstruction and a lot of other nonsense and I think that I just want to get it done faster. That`s all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Will you cite those comments in your court challenge?
JUNEJA: Well, I think they`re very compelling arguments for us for sure. I don`t think they support his argument as well, and we have our wonderful colleagues right now working on the complaint and I`m sure they`re listening closely to what he`s saying.
MELBER: Would you use them if you were filing this brief?
MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Oh definitely. Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving for constitutional law. Like everything he does is a hypothetical that you can put in an exam or give it to your students and this is perfect. Everything he said in this press conference completely undermines the idea that there is some kind of emergency. And in fact, the national emergencies act requires something more than simply wanting to be more expeditious in building a fake wall.
MELBER: I want to read from something that was in The Washington Post about this national emergency act because everyone is now catching up on it. This is the first time since the national emergencies act became law, the courts will consider this core question of whether a president can declare a national emergency that does not exist by any available metric.
Legal experts tell The Washington Post that -- his tweet about that. I mean is that overstated or is your view that nobody`s ever pushed it so far that we`ve gotten this kind of rule?
MURRAY: So the national emergencies act has been invoked probably about five dozen times and they`re about 31 emergencies that are still left on the books. But they`re typically situations involving foreign governments and the emergency steps that were taken are things like seizing foreign assets or property claims.
Building a wall, re-appropriating funds that Congress denied the president has never been part of that. I mean, this is a clear separation of powers issue and it`s a real threat to democracy. And this is not hyperbole, this is a major power grab. Whether it`s Kabuki theater or not, it`s a serious slide on democracy.
MELBER: Well, and that`s the point we`re bearing down on which is you can observe the absurdity of it but it`s still in a very real way with very real precedent as something Americans have to consider and many countries have dealt with situations where people come into power and say maybe we need to be a little less of a democracy and a little more of a country where the person in charge just says I`m going to do it and the military is going to help me and I`m going to send money that wasn`t appropriate and what are you going to do about it. And so we`re going to see.
Melissa Murray, Aditi Juneja -- I`m working -- is it close?
JUNEJA: Aditi Juneja.
MELBER: Adidu --
JUNEJA: Aditi Juneja.
MELBER: Aditi Juneja.
JUNEJA: There you go.
MELBER: Having said it, I feared wrong I`d rather try to work on getting it right. Colonel, as you know in the media, we try to correct when we make mistakes. And Colonel Ralph Peters, thank you so much.
PETERS: Thank you.
MELBER: Up ahead, the startling moment on the floor of the U.S. Senate. A top lawmaker asking what Putin has on Trump. Malcolm Nance joins me on that next.
MELBER: Fridays are not a slow day for Bob Mueller we`ve learned. He struck again today on a Friday with the development and it`s a victory. Mueller winning this partial gag order against Trump advisor Roger Stone, and that means his public appearances will be shut down in a certain sense. We`ve seen a lot since the indictment. This was the first time Mueller alleged there`s evidence that Trump campaign officials asked Stone to seek out material stolen by Russian hackers, showing collusion still at the heart of the investigation.
Now, that line of inquiry brings us to an extraordinary moment you should see. The most senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee marching to the Senate floor to lay out this disturbing theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: I`m talking about the entirely legitimate question of whether Donald Trump could be compromised by the Russian government. He`s let our country down. He`s left Americans to lay awake at night asking themselves what does Putin have on our president.
Of course, we can consider the possibility that the president is an asset of the Russian government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "An asset of the Russian government" a possibility considered. And joining me to do so Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Terror Analyst and Author of The Plot to Destroy Democracy. What do you think Senator Menendez was signaling in what can only be described as a fairly unusual floor speech?
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERROR ANALYST: Well, I think he was signaling what people have been asking for about three years now. Listen, you know, that it`s finally filtered its way up to the halls of Congress to where questions like this which we`ve been talking about every night for two-and- a-half years non-stop to where it can now be put into the Congressional record the query what does a foreign power have over our president now will lead out into the investigations which must happen.
Clearly, Donald Trump is in debt to Russia for something. His obsequious, his slavish devotion of Vladimir Putin, and the very fact that only two people in this planet know what Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump, that`s Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
MELBER: Well, you mentioned sort of the way that information and ideas migrate or get mainlined. That`s a big feature in politics and I`m sure it`s something in the work that you focused on. Where do people`s ideas about things come from? Of course, it was the nominee of the Democratic Party who also was the victim of the hacking so she had more reason to be in touch with the information before other people and the concerns, who tried to raise this during the campaign. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: From everything I see has no respect for this person.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Well, that`s because he`d rather have a puppet as president of the United States --
TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.
CLINTON: And it`s pretty clear --
TRUMP: You`re the puppet.
CLINTON: It`s pretty clear, you won`t admit --
TRUMP: Now you`re the puppet.
CLINTON: -- that the Russians have engaged in cyber-attacks against the United States of America that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list rake up NATO, do whatever he wants to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Malcolm, many pundits say Trump was not taken seriously enough as a political phenomenon in 2016. Was Hillary Clinton`s substantive point there not taken seriously enough at the time?
NANCE: Absolutely. I mean, every word of what she said has proven to be correct. We have had an espionage investigation going on for the last almost three years. There`s been a counterintelligence investigation which now encompasses the President himself. This is very serious pool. The very fact that one-third of this nation refuses to believe a word of it shows you the success of the Russian information operation.
But Hillary Clinton got it right but because she was Hillary Clinton, the news media refused to believe a word she said and now the United States is in the greatest crisis of its history.
MELBER: Very interesting to get your perspective and dig through what can we learn from what as you -- as you argue some folks got wrong. Malcolm Nance, thank you.
NANCE: All right, buddy.
MELBER: Yes, sir. Coming up, we`ve had quite the week. We could all use a little time to fall back. The first time ever we welcome a U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal to "FALLBACK FRIDAY" along with my friend Daily Show Co- Creator Lizz Winstead.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Good to see you.
MELBER: How are you doing?
LIZZ WINSTEAD: Hi!
MELBER: Nice to see you both.
MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that means. It`s time to fall back. And we cap this week with a first for our "FALLBACK FRIDAY" series, the first sitting U.S. Senator to jump into the fray Richard Blumenthal representing Connecticut and we`re joined by The Daily Show Co- Creator Lizz Winstead who works on choice and women`s health with the comedy troupe (INAUDIBLE) We`re bringing out the air horns.
WINSTEAD: Apparently. That`s exciting. It became very clown-like in here. I felt like a circus environment.
MELBER: Senator, thank you for taking this risk.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I`m just a little bit disappointed already. You know, I do comedy too.
MELBER: I didn`t know that. Is that a joke?
BLUMENTHAL: That`s a joke. You know, I`m one of the un-funniest people you`ll ever meet.
MELBER: And that makes it all the more courageous. You know what, we`re going to do one more air horn for the first U.S. Senator here. Hit it. What do you think of that, Lizz?
WINSTEAD: I`m really proud. The timing has been horrible, first of all, but I feel like the last one you nailed it. It was like Senator -- OK. See. Here`s a thing. You listen, observe, horn.
MELBER: Lizz, who needs to fall back this week?
WINSTEAD: I think -- I don`t even know if it`s fall back more than it is just -- I guess it is. Kanye needs to fall back for his feckless Valentines Day gift to Kim Kardashian. The video was super bizarre. It`s -- they took the garage and then he went to -- and then he went to a gas station and got all the roses and then put him out on the ground --
MELBER: Who`s that playing?
WINSTEAD: And then had Kenny G come. And all of this feels like -- first of all, don`t go to the gas station to get the roses because that`s for the poor people and the people who don`t have Kanye money. So when you have Kanye money, like do a blanket of roses.
MELBER: He looks pretty happy with himself on this though.
WINSTEAD: But it`s Kenny G. Is that -- is this -- are you breaking up with her or are you wanting to -- this is not romantic. This is kind of -- I feel like it`s a threat. I feel like it`s just like a bet.
MELBER: I never thought I would stick up for Kenny G but it is romantic. A lot of people find romance in his music, Lizz.
WINSTEAD: But most people find his music at a strip mall. And so I`m just --
MELBER: He`s the -- hold on. Kenny G`s music is very popular and it`s brought a lot of joy to a lot of people.
WINSTEAD: I think that`s great. I feel like if you were the richest person in the world and you made that money doing music, maybe you could find --
MELBER: That`s a great point.
WINSTEAD: -- some badass --
MELBER: That`s a great point. Like of all the people Kanye West went for a very obvious and arguably dated --
WINSTEAD: Like he wouldn`t go for a blue note, he wouldn`t do like -- I feel like you could -- I don`t know.
MELBER: Have you ever listened to Kenny G, Senator?
BLUMENTHAL: I have, yes.
MELBER: And would you consider it legitimate romance music?
WINSTEAD: This is going to -- this is going to really affect your career. Be careful how you answer this. I`m just saying.
BLUMENTHAL: I mean, this is going to be used against me in my next --
WINSTEAD: I`m just saying.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I`m going to go out on a limb here. I do consider it legitimate -- any music is in the right context legitimate romance.
MELBER: You`re the odd one out now.
WINSTEAD: So here`s the deal. It wasn`t how does the two of us feel about this "FALLBACK."
WINSTEAD: It would be if I was dating a very rich musician and he laid off the garage full of that and then Kenny G, that would not be my jam.
MELBER: Right. It really goes to questioning Kanye as a musician. I`m going to move on as we do sometimes on this business.
WINSTEAD: You got to. You got to.
MELBER: Senator, who needs to fall back?
BLUMENTHAL: I think a few of my colleagues need to take a deep breath on the Green New Deal. Senator Barrasso who said that the Green New Deal would eliminate ice cream. Liz Cheney Representative also from Wyoming saying that it would eliminate cows and --
MELBER: I think -- I think we have some of that, Senator. Let`s listen to Liz Cheney going ham on the Green New Deal. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R), WYOMING: When we outlaw plane travel, we outlaw gasoline, we outlaw cars, I think actually probably the entire U.S. military because of the Green New Deal.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: There`s another victim the Green New Deal, it`s ice cream. Livestock will be ban. Say goodbye to dairy, to beef, to family farms, to ranches, Americans favorites like cheeseburgers and milkshake will become a thing of the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLUMENTHAL: Cheeseburgers and milkshake. That would be a gut punch for me. I just want to say.
WINSTEAD: I mean, in fact, we have to walk home tonight because there are no more cars as of tonight because of the Green New Deal.
BLUMENTHAL: No more planes.
WINSTEAD: Does it say something -- you`re basically backing up AOC here. Does it say something that she has them so shook, so scared about the deal?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, it`s now really her with all due respect.
BLUMENTHAL: I`m a co-sponsor so are a number of my colleagues in the United States Senate including my good friend Ed Markey who`s leading this effort.
MELBER: Well, you guys held a joint press conference with her. I believe Markey and her.
BLUMENTHAL: I think that the Republican strategy here is to personalize it to her when in fact it is about a basic concept of goals and objectives and projects that will make us less dependent on emissions producing energy. In fact, go to renewables and clean energy, rebuild infrastructure, changed the way that we travel, relying more on the kinds of vehicles that are less emission producing. It`s on the basic concept.
MELBER: Right. I mean, Lizz, isn`t that the ultimate "FALLBACK?" Shouldn`t fossil fuels fall back?
WINSTEAD: I think possible fuel should always fall back because you know, you can joke about some things, but like literally the emission -- I grew up in Minnesota. The emissions that comes from cows is real. Like, that`s not a joke.
MELBER: Would you trade Kenny G to get rid of global warming?
WINSTEAD: I think that we`re going to have more Kenny G if we have the Green New Deal because he is unplugged and that is --
MELBER: On that note, the air horns are playing us out. Lizz --
BLUMENTHAL: I have to take exception.
MELBER: We`ll have you both back. This is great. Thank you. "FALLBACK FRIDAY," we will be right back.
MELBER: And finally tonight, in Supreme Court News, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was back at work. This is the first time in over a month following a surgery to treat lung cancer. That`s the first time she had missed courtroom arguments since joining the court in 1993. We wanted to give you that update.
That`s it for THE BEAT. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END