Several states sue Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 02/18/2019, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: Tal Kopan, Jan Schakowsky, Matt Miller, Brian Fallon, Jay Inslee, Kathie Obradovich

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: February 18, 2019 Guest: Tal Kopan, Jan Schakowsky, Matt Miller, Brian Fallon, Jay Inslee, Kathie Obradovich

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: That is all for tonight. We will be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

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

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. I want to wish you a Happy President`s Day.

TUR: You know, it is George Washington`s Day here -- Washington Day here in New York, unlike the rest of the country because George Washington, native son of New York.

MELBER: Big up, big New Yorker.

TUR: That`s right.

MELBER: East Coast. He was known as an East Coast one.

TUR: He was New York`s big papa.

MELBER: Can I ask you who your favorite president is?

TUR: I mean I could be basic and say Lincoln. Everyone loves Lincoln. I got a soft spot for FDR. I`ve got a soft spot for Teddy Roosevelt as well. You know, all of them.

MELBER: Those were good ones.

TUR: You would be my favorite president if you ran in one.

MELBER: I don`t understand what you`re saying.

TUR: I`m just saying maybe you should run for president.

MELBER: Katy Tur, I`m going to leave it there.

TUR: Bye, Ari.

MELBER: Bye. Always fun to do that. Hadn`t done that in a while but that`s over now.

We`re starting THE BEAT. There are new reports of where Bob Mueller is headed next and why he subpoenaed the key exec from that digital company backed by Steve Bannon.

Also, new headaches for Donald Trump as the man who replaced James Comey at the FBI breaking his silence. Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe talking about whether Trump committed a crime in office, his words, and alleging that senior DOJ officials had a meeting where one mused about trying to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment. That is big no matter how you slice it. I have a special breakdown of it later of the legal cliff-hanger.

But we go into the field now with a 2020 report on candidates hitting the trail. That is going to be exciting. So we have a lot in tonight`s show is my big point there.

But we begin tonight where this week has begun for a White House clearly on defense. Take a look at this. This is brand new visuals of these protesters rallying across the country today on, yes, President`s Day, and it`s very real. They are opposing what they call a presidential power grab at the border, Americans taking their message here all over the country, using this holiday to talk to the president.

The outpouring, of course, echoes those massive protests against another Trump executive action on immigration that ultimately faltered in the courts, the travel ban, which was limited several times by federal judges. Now, many in the resistance are applying, basically, that same strategy to this controversy.

Tonight, I can tell you, dozens of states -- excuse me, almost a dozen states reporting they will formally take court -- take Trump to court to challenge this national emergency. Now, this effort from the stateside joins what you see up on your screen. These are many of the independent organizations also taking Donald Trump to court, including the ACLU. Now, these challenges are already having an impact.

Let me explain what I mean. This is very real, and whether Trump gets away with taking money that wasn`t appropriated to build the wall, it`s also a very real thing this week. So the White House is now under very tangible pressure to offer more than a rhetoric to defend this border policy. Winning in court often requires precedence. You have to show a time when maybe another president has tried to seize money that Congress refused and tried to show why that helps your case.

Well, that is something that Donald Trump`s immigration guru Stephen Miller struggled to basically answer in any way when he was asked in the normally supportive environment of "Fox News".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: Answer my question. Can you name one case where a president has asked Congress for money, Congress has refused, and the president has then invoked national powers to get the money anyway?

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, this current situation --

WALLACE: Just yes or no, sir. I think the president --

MILLER: The broader question --

WALLACE: When Congress asked for money for military construction, Congress said no and he`s then --

MILLER: The meaning of the statute, Chris, is clear on its own terms. They changed it a long time ago.

WALLACE: But you agree the answer is no, there hasn`t been a single case like this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Spicy. Meanwhile, Dems in the House pushing forward to just repeal this attempt to declare a national emergency from the start. Now, this is not just House theater because what we`re seeing is that House Democrats actually believe they might be able to appeal to additional votes in the Senate because there, people in both parties have expressed concern with whether this could be an unlawful, an unconstitutional executive order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I think there is enough people in the Senate who are concerned that what he`s doing is robbing from the military and the DOD to go build this wall.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Past Congresses have given any executive, any administration too much power. And this would be another expansion of that power. That`s why you see an awful lot of us concerned about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by Mara Gay, editorial board member for "The New York Times" and Tal Kopan, Washington correspondent for "The San Francisco Chronicle," and we`ll be joined by a member of Congress as well.

Tal, when you look at this out of the Hill, is this a fight the Republicans want to have and defend the president on for the timetable with court battles of months?

TAL KOPAN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: I`m certain that this is not the fight that many Republicans wanted to have. Now, that`s not across the board. Keep in mind that Senator Lindsey Graham has really been spoiling for this a while and actively on Twitter, in person, in conversations encouraging the president to take this step.

But there are many other Republicans who whether it sort of brazen out in public saying it or just privately are very disconcerted by this move. And they, you know, whether it ends up getting blocked in court or not, they`re almost concern more that it could go through, and then future presidents, Democratic or inclined to take other sorts of moves could use it as precedent going forward.

MELBER: Yes. I mean that`s the new green deal argument, Mara, that someday some Liberal might be president and get to appropriate all sorts of things without the Congress. There is also just the straightforward fact that Donald Trump didn`t make the strongest case for an emergency. Take a look at him at that press room.

(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: Just a light preference for a little more speed. Is that an emergency?

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s not. I mean there is a couple of things going on here. One is that I think Americans realize that the wall is actually not what our national priority should be. I think that we have huge infrastructure needs, education needs.

We actually have the 9/11 victims fund which helps first responders who came through the September 11th attacks. That`s running out of money and we`re going build a wall to be a symbol of hate and keep out desperate refugees.

So I think Americans understand that this is not a crisis unless you want to describe it as a crisis of his own making. But the other issue here that is interesting this is a president who has broken so many norms for years at this point. And so in a sense, this is nothing new.

The difference is that now he`s getting organized pushback that actually has a real voice. And that`s because, after the midterm elections, you have an energized Democratic Party, an energized base. You have protests out. And you have a bunch of 2020 candidates who are all getting -- having to, you know, they`re forcing Trump to share that FaceTime on TV.

And he`s not the only voice in the room anymore. And it`s going to be harder for him to get away with breaking these norms.

MELBER: Yes. And there is also the fact that a lot of people who follow this seem to understand that it`s not a Conservative versus Liberal thing, which is where many issues come down. I mean the abortion issue almost always plays out that way. This is Conservatives having been vocally against this in public.

Donald Trump being for it because of his old campaign promise, then trying to back down and not being allowed to by the Rush Limbaughs and the Ann Coulters. Take a listen to Rush saying, "No. Don`t worry, that`s not the case", which from some people seems like a clue that is the case. Here is Rush Limbaugh and Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Rush Limbaugh, I think he is a great guy. He`s got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world. I mean this guy is unbelievable.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: They don`t decide policy and I don`t make policy. It`s just another effort to continue to try to diminish the president, diminish Trump as somebody that doesn`t know what he is doing. There isn`t anybody doing what I do that has a thing to do with actually making policy for this president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GAY: I mean the problem for the president is he`s, you know, a one-note band. I mean he always plays to his base but at the end of the day, he is not in the middle of a Republican primary election right now. He`s supposed to be governing --

MELBER: Well, is he a one-note band or is he -- even more embarrassingly, is he more Milli Vanilli and these aren`t even songs that he is performing?

GAY: It`s before my time, Ari.

MELBER: Do you -- Tal, can I phone you in for the Milli Vanilli reference? Lip syncing is what I`m talking about, Rush Limbaugh being the original singer here.

KOPAN: Yes, I`m here for you. Yes. Yes. I got it. I think Rush Limbaugh is being a little glib here. Does anyone think that he is sitting in the west wing, scribbling on a piece of paper, coming up with policy ideas? No. But that`s not what is really being suggested.

The problem here is that President Trump sort of lives in an echo chamber. We know that he sort of obsessively watches cable news. He really focuses on what "Fox News" is saying. He pays very close attention --

MELBER: Right.

KOPAN: -- to what the Rush Limbaughs of the world say.

MELBER: Do you believe Rush when he says he`s not writing the lines?

KOPAN: I`m sure that President Trump is taking his cues from a lot of that sphere. Now sometimes --

MELBER: He shouted them out at the national emergency press conference. I mean it`s all out in the public.

KOPAN: Yes. And some of it is also just responding to what they criticize which I think is just as important as where he is getting his ideas. I mean keep in mind that the reason we got into this whole mess is that in December, President Trump was on the verge of signing a deal that would have arguably gotten him more money at the end of this and the echo chamber came up in arms, and he backed away.

So in some ways, arguably what he doesn`t do, because of that echo chamber is almost more important sometimes than what he does end up doing.

MELBER: Right. Which whether you agree with those folks or not in right- wing media makes them relevant to understanding literally what`s going to happen.

KOPAN: Absolutely.

MELBER: Look, Milli Vanilli famously in "blame it on the rain," you know what they said, Tal.

KOPAN: Go for it.

MELBER: Blame it on the rain, the rain don`t mind, the rain don`t care. Tal`s never been on the show before, Mara. She doesn`t know what`s going on. But we appreciate both of you.

I`m going to turn to a Congressperson and I won`t press them on `90s music references. Thanks to both of you, Mara and Tal.

I turn to Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL): Good to see you. Thanks for having me, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely. Let`s start with trying to make sense of this. We just showed and we`re picking up on the Rush Limbaugh conversation. And as a member of Congress, it seems that you`re dealing with the serious, which is the president trying to do this power grab, and the silly which is him shouting out Rush Limbaugh on Friday to explain what he is doing.

So how do you make sense of that? What are you focused on? And will this, in your view, ultimately stand up? Will he get to spend this money lawfully?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, he isn`t spending the money lawfully. This is definitely a lawless act on his part but I think it`s a very political act. I`ve been getting e-mails from Eric Trump, from Donald Trump, and they all end with donate, donate, donate after they say how Democrats are obstructionists and that you of the media are just liars. You`re lying about the real crisis at the border.

But he`s gone a step too far now because he has shown his contempt for all agencies of government, and now it`s about the Constitution. Because we haven`t --

MELBER: Well, you say the Constitution. Isn`t that the issue? I mean if there is a President Schakowsky or a President Harris or a president whomever, right, we`re still a system of government. The question isn`t whether you like the spending, right?

The question as I was always taught was whether it has been lawfully appropriated in our system of government. Take a listen to your colleague on the Senate side, Lindsey Graham, who seems very blase about this, which, again, he was a military lawyer. He`s steeped in the Constitution as you are and he doesn`t seem to think this is a big deal. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN, MODERATOR, FACE THE NATION: Aren`t you concerned that some of these projects that were part of legislation that you helped approve in Congress are now going to possibly be cut out?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, the president will have to make a decision where to get the money. I would say it`s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We`ll get them the school they need. But right now we got a national emergency on our hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Congresswoman, I think that exchange is so telling and frankly, just not how the government is supposed to work, because wouldn`t it reduce to rubble what you and Senator Graham and all the Congresspersons do, if after, you, appropriate stuff it`s then re-renegotiated with the executive? Is this -- what did I miss?

SCHAKOWSKY First of all, you know, 83 senators and 300 members of the House of Representatives. So that means, of course, Republicans and Democrats voted for the deal. And so he`s saying that we don`t care. Even though -- I don`t care, he says. Even though that it`s been deliberated, we`ve gotten bipartisan support, I`m the one who`s going to overrule that.

And this is a very dangerous move to take away the power of the purse from the United States Congress. It is very clear.

MELBER: So is this about border policy, which people debate? Or is this, in your view at the bottom, about power and a president seizing power that the Constitution doesn`t give him?

SCHAKOWSKY I think it definitely is about power. And I think it means that we may have to look at the National Emergencies Act to see if it needs to be clarified so that we know for sure that the president can`t step in and overturn a decision of the Congress.

MELBER: Very interesting. And as you know, a lot of this broke on Friday. Today is a holiday. Viewers catching up with what`s happened Friday, and today, and a lot more with the new lawsuits that we`ll be tracking.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up, a key Russia witness now breaking his silence with big claims about Trump and the probe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: The deputy attorney general offered to wear a wire into the White House.

SCOTT PELLEY, HOST, 60 MINUTES: Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president?

MCCABE: That`s correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s correct. Wow. Also, news of the Mueller subpoena for an executive. This is a person that we haven`t heard from before going before Mueller linked to Steve Bannon. I questioned them right here on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is it possible that Cambridge or other data firms that had more of an American expertise might have somehow been helped, used, or interacted with the Russian operation?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And tonight, a potential 2020 candidate who also has helped lead many legal fights against Trump joins me live as Democrats are hitting the trail all over the place this President`s Day weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: We have a president who wants to declare a national emergency and then go play golf.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: It is about creating a crisis of his own making.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: You call me the snow woman? I thought that was the best nickname ever, OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: A lot going on. Very big show.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe speaking for the first time about why he directed an investigation of Donald Trump, including contacts with Russians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCABE: I don`t know that we have ever seen in all of history an example of the volume and the significance of the contacts between people in and around the president and his campaign with our most serious, our existential international enemy, the government of Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We have a lot more tonight about McCabe, but his concern there links with a new story about where Bob Mueller may also be headed.

News breaking that Mueller subpoenaed a member of Trump`s data team with ties to WikiLeaks. Now we knew that this data firm, Cambridge Analytica, had reached out to WikiLeaks during the campaign trying to coordinate any release of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails which, of course, were stolen by Russia.

That story was intriguing when it broke, but it might have had little legal importance if it was just e-mails about things that never happened. Now, we`re learning for the first time, "The Guardian" reporting Mueller`s team questioned a Cambridge employee, Brittany Kaiser.

Now, that`s interesting because that firm had largely been fading from view after they closed down in the wake of the giant scandal about misusing Americans` information taken from Facebook. Now back when that scandal broke, we actually interviewed this person Mueller wants to talk to, Kaiser. We asked if Cambridge interacted with the Russian operation or was helped by it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is it possible that Cambridge or other data firms that had more of an American expertise might have somehow been helped, used, or interacted with the Russian operation?

BRITTANY KAISER, FORMER CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA EMPLOYEE SUBPOENAED BY MUELLER: Anybody in the world can purchase and license the data of individuals in America. You don`t have to have been an American company. You don`t have to be working for a political campaign. And that means that individuals and their data sets are exploited. And they can be exploited by anyone without the help of an American firm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Can be exploited by anyone is pretty broad language. Mueller, though, may be looking at whether Cambridge itself exploited this material stolen by Russia or given to WikiLeaks. And what she didn`t mention there in our interview is we learned she, of course, personally met with Julian Assange from WikiLeaks after the 2016 election when she was still working for Cambridge. And that`s what brings this all full circle tonight.

If Donald Trump`s digital people talked about helping distribute Clinton`s e-mails but never did it, that`s probably not chargeable. If they did something about it, though, or if they met with other people to conspire about it and then met with them again after the election, well, that can move you away from things that didn`t happen, talk, just ideas. And move you towards things that did happen, action.

Now, it`s entirely possible this person got a coveted meeting with Julian Assange and they talked about other things. He is involved in all kinds of things, not just the election leaks that Americans noted because they impacted us. But whatever those two talked about, whatever her firm did for Trump, you can be sure from this new report tonight that Mueller is digging into it to figure it out before he closes up shop.

Now, while that story is far from finished, our next story is about a Mueller witness doing a lot of talking, former FBI Acting Director McCabe on backroom spats with Trump, the first on-the-record description of Trump appointees talking about removing Donald Trump from office, what? And those new comments that did not air on "60 minutes" last night that we`ll show you when we`re back in 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: "The New York Times" today reported that Rod Rosenstein in meetings with other Justice Department and FBI officials had suggested liaising with members of the cabinet talk about using the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. This reporting is contested.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: When "The New York Times" first reported that Donald Trump`s own appointees were talking about recruiting Trump cabinet members to forcibly remove him from office, it was the ultimate bombshell, even in the season of bombshells.

Trump critics saw his own aides move to consider these extremes because of Donald Trump`s extremes. And Donald Trump`s allies, they saw the evidence, of course, of a deep state personified in the very man who appointed Bob Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

But let`s be clear, the whole time we were discussing that "New York Times" story, it was based on anonymous leaks and Rosenstein was rebutting it. And we`ve never heard from anyone else inside that room until now because the man Rosenstein allegedly spoke to about the 25th Amendment, the man who replaced James Comey after his controversial firing which led to the Mueller probe, that man is Andrew McCabe. And he is now recounting on the record what he saw for the first time ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCABE: Discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort. I didn`t have much to contribute, to be perfectly honest in that conversation so I listened to what he had to say.

But to be fair, it was an unbelievably stressful time. I can`t even describe for you how many things must have been coursing through the deputy attorney general`s mind at that point. So it was really something that he kind of threw out in a very frenzied chaotic conversation about where we were and what we needed to do next.

PELLEY: What seemed to be coursing through the mind of the deputy attorney general was getting rid of the president of the United States, one way or another.

MCCABE: Well, I can`t confirm that. But what I can say is the deputy attorney general was definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity, and about his intent at that point in time.

PELLEY: How did he bring up the idea of the 25th Amendment to you?

MCCABE: Honestly, I don`t remember. He -- it was just another kind of topic that he jumped to in the midst of a wide-ranging conversation.

PELLEY: Seriously? Just another topic?

MCCABE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Just jumped right into it. Now, McCabe has a new book. He was sitting there with "60 Minutes`" Scott Pelley, who asked McCabe how detailed these very tantalizing discussions were.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELLEY: Did you counsel him on that?

MCCABE: I didn`t. I mean he was discussing other cabinet members and whether or not people would support such an idea, whether or not other cabinet members would -- shared his belief that the president was really concerning. It was concerning Rod at the time.

PELLEY: Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president?

MCCABE: That`s correct. Counting votes or possible votes.

PELLEY: Did he assign specific votes to specific people?

MCCABE: No, not that I recall.

PELLEY: As you`re sitting in this meeting in the Justice Department, talking about removing the president of the United States, you were thinking what?

MCCABE: How did I get here, confronting these confounding legal issues of such immense importance, not just to the FBI but to the entire country. It was disorienting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`ll say you never see discussions like this reported out of the Justice Department. Now, after McCabe sat for that interview, his spokesman released a statement that tried to play down the reference to Rosenstein counting votes. The statement says McCabe did participate -- did not participate in any extended discussions about the use of the 25th Amendment and says he`s not aware of those discussions.

Now, what you`re seeing there is just how volatile this whole thing is. McCabe`s had a long time to think about it. He sits down for that interview. He says this stuff and they still feel the need to try to parse what it is that he says he saw, and this may be why.

Today, Donald Trump weighing in, saying all of this shows illegal and treasonous actions. The DOJ also denied McCabe`s story saying it`s inaccurate and factually incorrect. Now, according to the DOJ, we should note that McCabe was ultimately fired for a "lack of candor" about an issue relating to a Clinton Foundation investigation. He contests that but lost his job over it.

I`ve got several guests for this but I`m going to begin one-on-one with Matt Miller who worked as a chief spokesman for the Justice Department during the Obama administration and knows a bit about the very strange terrain we`re witnessing. Thanks for being here.

MATT MILLER, FORMER CHIEF SPOKESMAN FOR THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Just big picture so folks understand, did you ever hear anything like 25th Amendment discussions when you were at the Justice Department?

MILLER: No, that was not one of the issues we faced under President Obama.

MELBER: That did not ever come up?

MILLER: Not that quite, yes.

MELBER: When you see it as described by McCabe, we`ll get to the whole story and the truth. But if what he said was true, would that be inappropriate?

MILLER: No, not necessarily. I think it would be a fairly ineffective plot given that Rod Rosenstein isn`t one of the people who would have a vote to actually execute the 25th Amendment. And I think one of the other Reports where Andy didn`t confirm remembering this in this interview. One of the other reports said that --

MELBER: But Rod -- I don`t think Rod`s cabinet, right? He`s --

MILLER: That`s what I mean.

MELBER: His acting attorney general for overseeing Mueller but he is not in the cabinet.

MILLER: But he`s not a member of the cabinet so he wouldn`t have a vote. It has to be the majority of the cabinet. But one of the people he was reported to think would vote with him is Jeff Sessions and --

MELBER: But let me -- I want to --

MILLER: -- I think for all of Jeff Sessions` issues, it`s hard to imagine him going along.

MELBER: I`m going to hang you up right there. Are you saying that if you were in the Obama administration and subcabinet officials were counting votes for Obama, you would be fine with that?

MILLER: Well, look, the difference is you have a president who`s acting in such a kind of inappropriate, unhinged way here. The circumstance is always you know, in some senses determine what kind of response is appropriate. If you have a president who has just taken an action to try and shut down investigation into himself, then I think it is appropriate to consider what remedies you might have to that action.

However, I do think just reading -- you know, looking at what McCabe said, looking at the statement he put out, I think some of the commentary around this has been a little overhyped. It seems to me like something that Rod mentioned or throughout at a time when he was under extreme pressure and was struggling with how to deal with that pressure. He`s been reported to have been very emotional in meetings that time. Not an actual kind of plot where you were going out and recruiting members you know, to try -- to try --

MELBER: Well, then that -- so that brings us -- that brings us to number two. So if viewers are watching, they`re going wow. You can read this as Donald Trump is doing things so terrible that people are considering extreme measures. You can read it as you say as a pressure cooker and certain things seem bigger, sound bigger. But now we have the benefit of time and hindsight and Andy McCabe is still making this his big message. Why?

MILLER: That`s a very good question. He apparently didn`t include in the book. I`ve seen the book. It`s not out till tomorrow but it`s been reported that he doesn`t include a mention of this in the book. He was asked about it in the interview. There were a lot of speculation when this first story -- when this story first leaked that it came from Andy McCabe. They denied it at the time. They said they had nothing to do with it.

So you know, there has been this fight going on between McCabe and Rosenstein for a long time really, you know going back to this kind of eight-day period between when Comey was fired and when Mueller was appointed. It continued through McCabe being fired. So whether this has something to do with him trying to poke at Rod or not, I don`t know. His people will try to make very clear that that`s not something they want to do especially when Rod will be one of the people that that has a say in whether he gets indicted for this, allege a false statement to the inspector general.

MELBER: No kidding. We haven`t even -- we haven`t even got into that yet. Hang with me. Now is the point in the interview where I bring someone else who had your same job. Brian Fallon worked under the Obama DOJ under Holder, Director of Public Affairs then, had a front row seat to McCabe and Comey`s assessment and decisions of the Clinton probe because he was an aide to Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign where some of you may recognize him. And someone else you may recognize, former Federal Prosecutor, friend of the beat Joyce Vance. Thanks to everyone.

Building on what your former colleague was saying, Brian, how do you view what McCabe is doing here which is incredibly significant given that Rod is not out of DOJ yet. He still is part of the management there. Mueller is moving forward with this probe. What is McCabe doing in your view?

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS: I tend to agree with Matt that we probably shouldn`t over-interpret the utterance or the brief invocation of the prospect of the 25th Amendment that is being ascribed to Rod Rosenstein here. I suspect if you`re in Andrew McCabe`s position you`re going to give some attention to certain provocative aspects of your remembrances from this time because he is after all selling books.

What I take stock -- what I put stock in is more some of the what he ascribes to President Trump during these this time.

MELBER: I`m sure you want to get to that. As I mentioned, you`re a Hillary Clinton person and we can get to that. We do some of that on this show. But I don`t -- I don`t want to move too quickly past what`s so crucial here and for the entire panel it`s not just the 25th Amendment. You also have McCabe basically casting Rod Rosenstein as someone who either was a novice or was out to get the President or just brainstorming a lot of outlandish ideas. Take a listen also to him staying here on the record that there was this idea that you could record the President with a wire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, FBI: We talked about why the President had insisted on firing the director and whether or not he was thinking about the Russia investigation and did that impact this decision. And in the context of that conversation, the deputy attorney general offered to wear a wire into the White House. He was absolutely serious and in fact, he brought it up on the next meeting we had. I never actually considered taking him up on the offer. I did discuss it with my general counsel. I think the general counsel had a heart attack. When we got him off the floor, he said that`s a bridge too far. We`re not there yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: According to McCabe, Brian, that would make Rod Rosenstein look bad. What do you think is happening there?

FALLON: Look, again, Ari, I think A, he`s selling books, and B he probably doesn`t have much love loss for Rod Rosenstein who after all was the guy that was willing to help fire his boss Jim Comey. At the end of the day though, I think that these are things that probably happened. I think we should just be wary of assigning too much importance to them.

I doubt that in Rod Rosenstein`s mind he actually intended to fulfill any of these ideas that he was floating. I suspect what was more the case was he personally, Rob, was taken aback by the outrage that accompanied his decision to author this memo. And I think at that time he was probably flailing about attempting to show solidarity with people that were outraged by the President`s actions and so he was trying to show that he was in league with some of these people that were looking for ways to counter the president.

MELBER: And that`s --

FALLON: Obviously, he never fulfilled or followed through on any of this stuff.

MELBER: You`re speaking to the chess game inside DOJ which is why you`re here. I mean that`s fascinating, Joyce. What Brian`s referring to is the idea that one day Rod was pulled in to being a Trumpian figure ousting Comey over the mistreatment of Hillary Clinton which was believed by exactly nobody. And then the next day he`s trying to say no I`m down with the FBI. I`m going to be a part of cleaning this up. Does that announce as square for you, Joyce, and what are we -- what is everyone to make of this because there`s a lot of drama here?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Something that we need to think about in addition to the fact that DOJ has issued at least a limited denial that this occurred is the time frame in which had occurred. We`re looking back at events that occurred two years down the road. We know a lot more now about the President`s behavior. We take it a lot more seriously because there`s a lot more evidence out on the table that indicates that Trump has been colluding with the Russians.

But back when this occurred, this was really the first clear event that occurred. And so you have to contemplate how earth-shattering this was for people inside of the Justice Department. Rosenstein, a newly minted political appointee, the last thing that you`re hardwired to do in that position is to question your boss and to essentially say the President of the United States might be working with Putin.

So my suspicion is that they considered the full range of ideas about who might hold the President accountable. And in that context, it makes sense that they would have pushed on the 25th Amendment option not in a serious way, not in a "let`s plot to have a coup against the president" but just to think about what the options were for accountability --

MELBER: But see, I don`t -- I don`t think the mainstream reading of the 25th Amendment is that it`s an option in the investigative toolkit. It refers to the cabinet dealing with someone who`s incapacitated, Joyce.

VANCE: It`s an option for accountability. And my sense, Ari, is that it`s at the very far end of the spectrum and you would get to impeachment actually before you would get 25th Amendment.

MELBER: Right. Let me -- because I don`t want to go too long but I want everyone to see. There`s also this fascinating exchange about getting Comey`s advice after they fired him. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCABE: He mentioned to me how highly he thought of Jim Comey and he mentioned that he would like to speak to Jim Comey about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Comey was fired?

MCCABE: That`s correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rosenstein had been the one who wrote the memo that got Comey fired and now he wants to reach out and ask him for advice?

MCCABE: He did. He did. He raised the issue with me twice and ultimately I told him that I wasn`t comfortable connecting him with Jim Comey that I didn`t think Jim should weigh in on these things.

MELBER: We`re almost out of time so lightning round. In a sentence or two, what was that? Brian?

FALLON: Same thing. He`s -- Rod has taken aback by the fact that he`s now viewed as the President`s accomplice in firing Jim Comey. This is an attempt to try to overcompensate the other way by extending an olive branch through an intermediary interested ally in McCabe.

MELBER: Matt?

MILLER: Yes. I agree with that completely. He was trying to write the fact that he was under such attack in the DOJ committee both and in the building and people alumni from outside the building combined with an extreme dash of naivete which he exhibited throughout this period.

MELBER: Joyce?

VANCE: A lot of people held Jim Comey in great esteem, believed he had made a mistake in how he handled Clinton but nonetheless had faith in him. If I had been in Rod seat, I would have wanted Jim Comey`s advice too.

MELBER: Very interesting. It`s hard to make sense even if you study this stuff. And here we have three experts have given some accounting of what we just all and we`re going to be seeing more from Mr. McCabe this week. Matt Miller, Brian Fallon, Joyce Vance, thanks to each of you.

MILLER: Thanks.

FALLON: Thanks.

MELBER: Up ahead, it`s on. 2020 candidates roasting Trump talking about hate, division, and how he golfs in the middle of "emergencies." We`re going to get to Iowa, but first these protests over Trump`s emergency order. I have a potential 2020 candidate who`s been suing the Trump administration with victories. He`s here live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: As promised, tonight on THE BEAT we have Governor Jay Inslee. Let`s take a look at something he said in the wake of big gun control debates regarding Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Now, I understand you have suggested this and we suggest things and sometimes then we listen to people about it and maybe they don`t look so good a little later. So I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here, a little more listening, and let`s just take that off the table and move forward.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All right, thank you very much. You know, we have a number of states right now that do that and I think with that in mind I`ll call on Greg Abbott, great governor of Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The debate there was arming teachers. Governor Jay Inslee is part of a state that has ten different suits against the Trump administration and many of its policies including immigration. And now the governor of Washington State, also we should mention a potential 2020 candidate joins me. Good evening.

INSLEE: Yes. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: You looked at that moment there. That was you face to face with the president using that time to push him on something you thought was a bad idea. You think the national emergency apparently is a bad idea. Will it become another lawsuit from your state and do you think that`s the right way to approach it?

INSLEE: Well, the moment that Donald Trump hurts my state by taking appropriations away from useful projects and tries to use it on his wasteful vanity project on the border, you bet we`ll be in court like we have been. And I`m proud our state has been first and foremost standing up against Donald Trump. We were the first and I was the first governor to come out against a Muslim ban. We`ve been very active against his child separation policies and all of us know the situation here.

There is no national security emergency. There is just a political emergency. Donald Trump is in part is in trouble. He took a shellacking at the polls and now he`s searching for a rescue in this wall. You bet we`ll be vigorous.

MELBER: And you are a border state. The president seems fixated on only certain border states. You just ticked off three policies that relate to immigration, the travel ban, the child separation, and we`re talking national emergency. If you do run and you said vanity project, other Democrats have used that language who are out already declared candidates this week, is this something that Democrats are going to seize on? Do you turn immigration against Donald Trump and how?

INSLEE: Well, I think we could. But if I enter the race, it will not be a my principle message. My principal message is that there is a real emergency that we face and that is climate change. Look, I walked through Paradise, California, a town of 25,000 people just burnt right down to the foundations. And it was -- looked like an apocalyptic scene. That is an emergency and that is what we`re going to see if we don`t defeat climate change.

So my principle message will be we need to organize our energies and mobilize this nation like we did in defeating fascism, like we didn`t go into the moon. This is something I`ve been advocating for a long time. We even co-authored a book about it ten years ago. So this is a message of economic growth while we`re defeating climate change. That`s a positive vision for America. That`s what I`d run on.

MELBER: Last time you were here, we spoke about a famous billionaire from your state Howard Schultz and some of his one-percent policies. Amazon which is in your state as well as back in the news over what was going to be money from taxpayers to them in New York. What is your view? Should states be giving away this much money to corporations? Was a good that they left New York? Was it bad?

INSLEE: Well, I`m really glad in a party that believes that we should be helping the middle class and there`s nothing wrong on occasion for the ultra-wealthy to be in a position to chip in a little more to help our public services. And I`m glad that we are looking at attitudes like that. I`m proposing a capital gains tax in my state to do that. Now, in regard to these corporate really settlements if you will, I`ll tell you one thing to stop.

We need to stop we need to find a way to prevent large corporations from essentially blackmailing local communities by threatening to move if they don`t get these giant tax breaks. We`ve got o --

MELBER: Is that what -- is that what Amazon was doing in your view, governor?

INSLEE: Well, I do know had has happened. I don`t know the specifics of that but I do know on multiple occasions corporations have threatened to take thousands of jobs out of communities if they don`t get a tax break. We need to find a mechanism to not allow communities to be -- to be threatened in that way. I`ve got some ideas about that using the tax code to protect our people.

MELBER; Well, it`s a huge issue. As I mentioned, there`s so much going on and so many controversies but that was an issue in New York and New Jersey is now trying to welcome them. The question of should it be taxpayers that give money to billionaires, their owners, and these companies, I`m sure there`ll be a live one on the 2020 trail. Governor Inslee, when you declare, will you let us know?

INSLEE: I`ll call you, Ari. We like Seattle Mercer Island boys get the news.

MELBER: All right. It`s a Seattle reference 206 represent. Governor Inslee, always good to see you. Up ahead --

INSLEE: You bet. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: -- 2020 candidates hitting the road. He may not be one officially yet but you know the others are out there. Democrats selling themselves slamming Trump. I`m going to go live to Iowa next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: It`s president`s day but the 2020 candidates on the Democratic side have been out in the heartland working heard. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: This declaration of an emergency is completely unnecessary. It is about creating a crisis of his own making because of a vanity project that he feels he needs to pursue.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: The action President Trump took is unconstitutional.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: We have a president who wants to declare national emergency and then go play golf.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: He`s trying to create a picture of division and hate and division. And that`s what I`m so offended by.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Kathie Obradovich from the Des Moines Register is here with us. Thanks for joining us. Iowa is so important so let`s get out of the coastal bubble. What are you actually seeing on the ground we might not see on our T.V. screens?

KATHIE OBRADOVICH, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, DES MOINES REGISTER: Well, one of the things that you might want to realize is that we had like nine inches of snow in Iowa over the weekend and what you see with these candidates is huge crowds. People are very enthusiastic. They want to see all of these candidates. And it`s not really a matter of people picking preferences yet. I think it`s a -- people wanting to hear what all of these candidates have to say and give everybody a chance.

MELBER: And so what you`re suggesting there on the ground before you even get to this is real enthusiasm way early. I want to play some of Klobuchar and Booker and the debate over how do you deal with someone as unusual and many Democrats say as dirty a fighter as Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: He called me the snow woman. I thought that was the best nickname ever, OK. My view is that you just can`t go down every rabbit hole with him right? You just can`t. You have to pick your battles.

BOOKER: There are going to be people in this Democratic primary who are going to want us to fire with fire. And I told you as a guy who ran a fire department, it`s not a good strategy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What do you think is the impact of the culture and style of Iowa when you have Democrats running but many people around the country want a very tough opponent to Trump?

OBRADOVICH: Yes. You know, people in Iowa are going to be debating among Democrats whether we want somebody who would be a pure progressive, somebody who`s very far to the left, or somebody who could appeal to independent and also the Obama Trump voters of which there are many in Iowa.

We had that discussion in 2016 with Bernie Sanders. That discussion is ongoing and I don`t think it`s settled yet. In fact, we probably won`t know until November 2020 if the Democrats in Iowa don`t get the candidate they want whether they show up and vote for whatever incumbent is on the ballot.

MELBER: Kathie Obradovich out in Des Moines, good luck with the snow. Thank you very much.

OBRADOVICH: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We are out of time. You can blame it on the rain if you want to. I will be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.

But don`t go anywhere. "HARDBALL" starts now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END