Cohen finishes third day of testimony. TRANSCRIPT: 02/28/2019, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: Nick Akerman; Elie Mystal; Christina Greer; Tony Schwartz; David Kelly

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: February 28, 2019 Guest: Nick Akerman; Elie Mystal; Christina Greer; Tony Schwartz; David Kelly

CHUCK TODD, HOST, MTP DAILY: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.

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

TODD: All right.

MELBER: We start tonight with Michael Cohen wrapping up his third day of Capitol Hill testimony, meaning with House special investigators. This one, unlike yesterday, behind closed doors. It ran over 7 1/2 hours and there are promises about being back next week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: Not much I can say, other than, it was very productive. Like I said, I`m committed to telling the truth. And I will be back on March 6 to finish up. There`s more to discuss.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There you have it, an announcement late today. That is a piece of news. The aftershocks from Cohen`s earthquake testimony have continued to reverberate across the day. There are investigators who say this means, what Cohen said under oath, and if the Republicans fact checking him want to really get to the bottom of it, well, this means we`re going to have to hear as a nation, as a Congress, from a lot more people who are close to Trump.

The Oversight Committee now saying they want to discuss all of this with Donald Trump`s longtime tax lawyer, Sherry Dillon. You remember her at the first press conference in the transition, all about how Trump reimbursed Cohen for the hush money payments. Meanwhile, Chairman Cummings says get ready for a lot more witnesses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: We`ll go through. We`ll figure out who we want to talk to and we`ll bring them in.

REPORTER: People in the Trump family, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr.?

CUMMINGS: Just follow the transcript.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: "Just follow the transcript." This is what subpoena power looks like. This is what it looks like when a Mueller witness, like Michael Cohen, who spent so much time with Donald Trump goes under oath. In some ways, the investigative leads that they`re following on today are even bigger than what was laid out yesterday. Now, as for the statement by this powerful chairman, follow the transcript, well, we did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. It would either be Eric Trump. Rhona Graff is the -- Mr. Trump`s executive assistant. David Pecker, Dylan Howard, Barry Levine of AMI as well, Allen Weisselberg, Alan Garten of the Trump Organization, as well.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCSIO-CORTEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Who else knows that the president did this?

COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Leibman, and Matthew Calamari.

CUMMINGS: Would Don Jr. or Mr. Weisselberg have more information about that?

COHEN: Mr. Weisselberg, for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: "For sure." Now, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump name-checked by Cohen. Our cameras caught Don Jr. at a Conservative Conference today where he was basically trying to dodge any of those questions that many people have about what Cohen said.

You can dodge those, you know, cameras but you can`t ignore investigators in the House when they have subpoenas. The House Intel Committee planning to call Allen Weisselberg, Donald Trump`s CFO, in to testify. So this is what we are seeing and hearing from Congress today.

What we don`t know is what else is happening with investigators who have even more tools in the Southern District of New York. Cohen hinting that they have investigations that are basically undisclosed. And he says he`s in constant contact with them.

Tonight, we will also speak later in the hour, exclusively to the former head of that office, which is sure to be interesting. But I begin with former Watergate Special Prosecutor Nick Akerman, Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University, and Elie Mystal, executive editor of "Above the Law." Thanks to each of you for being here.

Nick, we are seeing the House actually treat Michael Cohen the way Mueller has been treating him, as a fact witness, which doesn`t matter whether you like him or not, but you follow every lead.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: That`s right. And I think what they have to do next -- I mean you mentioned all of these witnesses in the opening here and all the various people they have to speak to. But I think one of the key things here is putting together the critical documents. Donald Trump`s tax returns, the financial statements that Michael Cohen mentioned yesterday, the one that went to Deutsche Bank for a loan, the ethics disclosure form, the tax forms he submitted to local governments, try and get his taxes on his golf courses lowered.

There are all of these various financial forms that he has filled out over the years. And if I were doing this, I would take these, put them on a table, and start comparing them. And then when you see that the numbers are different, that when he`s lowballing it with the local taxes, what`s he saying to the federal tax return, to the government? What`s he saying to -- on his ethics disclosure form that he filed?

And then you bring in the witnesses and find out who filled these out, whether they looked at these other forms, in doing that, and what did Donald Trump say to them, as to what should go on each of those forms? That`s how I would make a case. He either committed tax evasion, he committed mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, any or all of the above. That`s what I would be looking at.

ELIE MYSTAL, EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW: Prosecutors are scary, man. Wow.

MELBER: I mean you really lay it out.

AKERMAN: Yes.

MELBER: And that doesn`t even include the WikiLeaks bombshell that I know is near and dear to your heart, Nick Akerman, because you have been talking about this. Now, viewers of this show have heard me say, maybe Roger Stone was just lying and exaggerating. He is a known liar. And so maybe there`s no there there.

I say that because it`s possibly true and I say it in fairness. Yesterday had hints moving the other direction, which goes more towards the more aggressive Akerman view. It`s widely known as the Akerman view, obsession with collusion.

But in all seriousness, I want to read from reporting by Jeffrey Toobin in "The New Yorker" before the Cohen hearing when he had said earlier this month there were persistent rumors that Mueller has a witness who says he heard Trump and Stone on a speakerphone discussing WikiLeaks.

When pressed on this, Stone told Toobin, "Prove it." Well, take a look at how Michael Cohen, not only testifying now famously to that yesterday but walking through the details of how those calls were set up in Mr. Trump`s office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Is there anyone else the committee should talk to about the president`s knowledge of the WikiLeaks e-mail dump?

COHEN: Well, again, when he called, Rhona Graff yelled out to Mr. Trump, "Roger`s on line one", which was regular practice.

WELCH: And that`s his assistant?

COHEN: Yes, her office is directly next to his. And she`s involved in a lot that went on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That would be bad enough. But then one more piece of evidence for the Akerman file. According to "CNN", and NBC has not confirmed this, but "CNN" did report, Trump reportedly told Mueller in writing, Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks. Are we looking at a bombshell in plain sight?

AKERMAN: I think we are. But we also have a lot of blanks that haven`t been filled in yet, because it all starts on June 3rd, when Goldstone writes to Don Jr. about the fact the Russian government is supporting Donald Trump and his campaign, that they`ve got the dirt, which are the e- mails, on Hillary Clinton, and they offer to bring those to Rhona Graff, who is his secretary. But they didn`t want to send it to her, so they were going to bring it in person.

And then in the course of those few weeks, nothing shows up. Donald Trump says on June 6th, he`s going to lay out all the stuff on the Clintons the following week, doesn`t do it. A few days later, Guccifer 2.0, the Russian intelligence officer, brings out some of those documents, releases them.

And then a few days later, within a week or so, all of a sudden, these documents show up with Julian Assange at WikiLeaks. So we`ve got a lot of blanks to fill in, to fill out that whole story. We just don`t know the entire story yet.

MYSTAL: And that`s the WikiLeaks angle. I mean I think one of the biggest things that happened, I think you give a lot of credit to the Democrats here, I think AOC especially, like laid this out very well. Allen Weisselberg is coming on down, right?

And what we`ve learned from Cohen is that Allen Weisselberg was in the room where it happened, all of it happened. Every single time that Cohen allegedly said something, the person who can confirm it is Allen Weisselberg. Every time Cohen talked about a financial document or a financial issue, the person who can confirm it is Allen Weisselberg. And Allen Weisselberg is now coming.

So I think that`s significant. I think the other significant thing and Nick kind of alluded to this, but people who are not kind of covering kind of financial news and whatever don`t really know this. Deutsche Bank is on fire. All right. Deutsche Bank is suspected of having like deep money laundering issues. And for a long time, Deutsche Bank --

MELBER: And if you say it any louder, people in the studio will think there is a fire.

CHRISTINA GREER, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right, right, right.

MYSTAL: And for a long time --

MELBER: Don`t yell "fire" in an empty newsroom. That`s a very famous law school -- go ahead.

MYSTAL: And Deutsche Bank has -- so they`ve been money laundering for -- there has been worry that they`re money laundering for a while. And for a long time, Deutsche Bank was always -- was the only person willing to lend Trump money.

The Republicans tried to muddy this water with their, like, Michael Cohen`s making up all of these lies and going to prison so he can get a book deal. But Michael Cohen wasn`t lying to Deutsche Bank so Michael Cohen could buy the Buffalo Bills, he was lying to Deutsche Bank so Donald Trump could buy Buffalo Bills. And if you lie to Deutsche Bank, like that is a federal crime.

And guess who knows that? Last time I was here, we were talking about SDNY, Robert Kuzmani. Guess where Robert Kuzmani works when he`s not working for the government? Deutsche Bank.

So there`s an excellent chance that the people at SDNY have the institutional knowledge to really drill down on this Deutsche Bank fire issue, that Cohen not only produced documents for yesterday but testified to the fact that Trump and his financial disclosures to the bank have been all lies.

MELBER: Right.

GREER: Well, I think someone on Twitter said that, you know, Cohen came with receipts longer than CVS. I mean I think what`s really important is that different AGs from across the country actually now have a vested interest in looking at -- going back to Nick`s point, looking at all of Trump`s various properties.

Because what was so clearly obvious yesterday is that he devalues himself when it`s advantageous and he can have the taxpayers pay for this, and he overvalues himself just based on his name and what his branding is on how he thinks of himself.

And so this has been a decades-long process with Trump. And he`s clearly surrounded himself with what some people might argue is assessed pool of degenerates and Cohen laid it out. Cohen admitted that he was one of those degenerates as well for a very long time. And now he has no use to do that because he actually is worried about the future of American democracy.

MELBER: Right. So Akerman, if they follow this out, what is the deal with Weisselberg and the agreement he did or didn`t have for some sort of cooperation?

AKERMAN: Well, it sounds to me like he got immunity. So they`re going to put him back in. I mean he`s going to be, if he hasn`t been already, questioned about all of these things.

And don`t underestimate the secretary. If you want to know what somebody has done --

GREER: Always, always.

AKERMAN: -- and this happened in Watergate. I could almost go through each defendant. It was the secretary who always gave people up. They know everything.

MELBER: Well, and didn`t we learn in Watergate, it was the secretary with the hand motion that cut out the gap in the tape, right? It was all her fault if you believe Richard Nixon.

AKERMAN: Of course.

GREER: Right.

AKERMAN: That`s right.

MELBER: Yes. As some people say, I take him at his word.

GREER: Right.

MELBER: We`re done here. Now, I want to turn to another thing for you, Christina, which is, if Barack Obama`s --

GREER: Oh, we can`t play that game.

MELBER: -- decade-long serving aide came out and addressed the nation under oath and said that there was this history of racism or this clear animus against white people or countries run by white people or many of the other things that Michael Cohen testified to which, yes, many people think, but I don`t really buy the argument you see some places, you see on the Internet of people saying, "Well, we already knew this."

I actually would put it differently. People thought a lot of things and Donald Trump said certain things in public, Charlottesville, something we all know.

GREER: The gold escalator announcement --

MELBER: The gold escalator. So yes, there`s a lot. And the policies. But does it not advance the character account and the credible allegations of long-standing, deep-seated racism, as Michael Cohen put it, against the sitting president of the United States? Don`t we also need to care about that?

GREER: We should, but we see that it hasn`t moved the needle. It hasn`t moved his base.

MELBER: Well, today is the next day. Aren`t we here, dealing with the needle? Let me give you an example. I was afraid you would say that. I brought, not a receipt but I brought an item. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board is notoriously highly conservative. And it`s owned by Rupert Murdoch, take it what you will.

Here`s their piece today about Cohen in the Coliseum, from the editorial board. This was a reminder Americans elected a president who spent decades in the sleazier corners of New York business and tabloid life, associated with dreadful characters, has no great character himself. They go on to say, "When picking a president, character must matter."

GREER: Yes, sure. But I mean, I think for those of us who have a modicum of common sense, we know that Donald Trump has been below character since, you know, for the last 40 years.

MELBER: This is what I`m pressing you on. When people come on T.V. and say, "I already knew it, that`s good enough." That`s more polarized division. What I`m saying is, does what we heard under oath potentially matter for some new people? Why do we assume that everything`s frozen in amber?

GREER: I don`t think so. I don`t think so, Ari. Because look at how the Republicans behaved. They were not moved. They doubled down. We saw representative --

MELBER: What about Americans watching it?

GREER: We saw Representative Meadows. I`ll get to the Americans for a second. We saw Representative Meadows gaslight representative to leave in a way that every single person of color who has ever cleaned houses or been a dean of a university has seen that scenario play out, where all of a sudden, it`s about him. He`s halfway crying and she`s apologizing for his behavior and his prop of a black woman.

The American public, I don`t know. I mean, Ari, what is it going to take? If you didn`t think that there was a problem when he came down the escalator and said, "Mexicans are rapists", if you didn`t think that there was a problem with the Muslim ban, if you didn`t think that the tweet for the transman was a problem, if you didn`t think that he s-hole countries was a problem, if you didn`t think kneeling football players were SOBs were a problem --

MELBER: Well, this is what we`re debating on and I want to get it. But this is what we`re debating.

GREER: Like, what is it going to take?

MELBER: This is what we`re debating. When you lay out your moral and ethical critique, I think it makes perfect sense. When you lay out your strategic assumption that no one can be moved in America anymore --

GREER: No, people can be moved --

MELBER: I don`t know that that is right. I certainly don`t think it`s optimistic. You and then Elie.

GREER: People can be moved, Ari. Some days, I am optimistic. Some days. People definitely can be moved but they`re not --

MELBER: And I`m not trying to optimism shame you.

GREER: Optimism shaming, that`s a good one. I think people can be moved, but they have not been moved by this president. If you weren`t moved after Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville, I don`t know what it`s going to take.

MELBER: Briefly.

MYSTAL: Racists cannot be moved. The point of this cannot be to convince racists to be a little bit less racist just this one time. That cannot be the point. The point has to be to inspire people who haven`t made a call yet, to inspire people who were on the fence about racism, to inspire the 100 million people who couldn`t get off the couch and vote in 2016. Those are the people that we need to inspire and the 60 million people who have already cast their hats in with a bigot and a sexist, those people we don`t have to talk about anymore.

MELBER: Elie Mystal, Christina Greer, Nick Akerman, thanks to each of you for your views. And as you know, we have a lot of other people on this show and a lot of other views, so we`ll get them in, as well.

Coming up, we talk about Michael Cohen and the SDNY with the actual prosecutor who ran that office, exclusive. Later, Trump secretly overruling White House officials to get Kushner a security clearance. That story is breaking in our hour.

And BEAT cameras catch up to, yes, Mueller`s person number two, Randy Credico. He`s speaking out for the first time since the Stone indictment. Plus, new insights on Cohen accusing Trump of talking like a mob boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Mr. Trump did not directly directly tell me to lie to Congress. That`s not how he operates. He doesn`t give you orders. He speaks in a code.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There`s an old saying, Dayenu, it would have been enough, Dayenu, but no. Dayenu, we also have Tony Schwartz in the building live on THE BEAT tonight when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with state of mind. And we`re digging into something that was so apparent in Michael Cohen`s testimony. The Donald Trump code, a system for communicating even potentially criminal instructions, allegedly, through meaningful looks, winks, and nods, but never putting those orders in writing overtly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That`s not how he operates. In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me, there`s no Russian business, and then go onto lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Tony Schwartz, a friend of THE BEAT and co-author of "The Art of the Deal" is here. And he says that while writing that book decades ago, Donald Trump would also communicate to him in code saying, "You understand?" Rather than explicitly saying what he was getting at.

Schwartz argues that Trump was always aware, even then of what might get him in trouble and wary that even those closest to him could turn on him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM COOPER (D), TENNESSEE: What was the breaking point at which you decided to start telling the truth?

COHEN: Helsinki, Charlottesville, watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another. And I can only warn people, the more people that follow Mr. Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I`m suffering.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Tony Schwartz, CEO of the energy project is the author of "The Way We`re Working Isn`t Working."

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, THE ART OF THE DEAL: You got it.

MELBER: Nice to have you back.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

MELBER: Build on what you were telling us here.

SCHWARTZ: I just had Michael Cohen evoke for me that experience of -- I`m going to just state it a slightly different way. "You understand, Tony, right? You understand?" It was literally a wink, because he lived this public life, even when he wasn`t really a public figure, which is, how`s this going come back at me? Where`s this going to play?

And so he was always playing the angles. This is what a grifter does. This is what a mafia boss does. And his style was to be aware of what the impact might be and not to put himself too far. Put his toe right up to the edge but not put it in.

MELBER: Doesn`t that raise the deeper question of why he never wanted to pivot and get out of that mode of being, if he had certain momentarily successes, get out of being, as you called a grifter?

SCHWARTZ: I think that he lived inside such a small world, you know, he had this very narrow view of the world and he saw it and has always seen it as a world in which it`s all predators. And he has to be constantly aware of -- he believes that a person is either a predator or is a loser. And he is always determined to be on the side of the predator. So the idea that he would somehow rise above it, I don`t think, was within his world view.

MELBER: And what`s interesting, because as someone who literally wrote this book that launched him, you`ve talked about how he wasn`t such a reader or a writer himself, but that insight, that way of looking at the world, is what many writers have said and Machiavellian and Hobbs and others, it`s certainly the way he`s running the White House.

As we`re talking, I have another breaking story. As you know, it`s always that kind of thing. It`s perfect for what you`re talking about. "The New York Times" reports tonight, Trump ordered officials to give his son-in-law Jared Kushner a security clearance. That`s significant because it says, intelligence officials actually were concerned that would endanger U.S. security.

And in an interview on the record with "The Times" itself, President Trump had said he was never involved with the security clearance of Kushner. Your view of how that fits in, at the expense, potentially, according to the officials, of our security.

SCHWARTZ: Very consistent. Consistent with what Cohen said, which is, he`s telling him to pursue the Russian hotel deal and saying, we have no business in Russia at the same time. So I`m quite sure he wanted Jared right by his side. Why? Because he believes that Jared is somebody who will not be disloyal.

And so he would say, you know, we`re going to do this and he would also wink and nod at -- and by the way, I never said this.

MELBER: So he would know, even as he`s doing it, how not to try -- how to try not to get busted?

SCHWARTZ: Well, at least to create an aura around him that the last thing on earth you should do, if you are working for him, is to contradict what he`s saying, even if he calls this a tennis ball.

MELBER: The last thing I want to ask you about is sensitive. Chairman Cummings, I think, moved a lot of Americans in the way he conducted and closed the hearing. And he alleged, in quite serious terms, that the way Donald Trump publicly identified Cohen as a rat puts him in physical danger in prison. Do you think Trump appreciated that risk, liked it, his view of the specter of violence?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I think I`ve said to you before that Trump loves violence. I mean he`s been a -- he was an aficionado of boxers. He loved football. He likes violence.

The very first time I wrote about him, the picture on the cover of "New York Magazine"` was of him as a thug. He put that picture up on the wall of his office.

MELBER: Wow.

SCHWARTZ: So I think he gets off on violence. So, my answer would be, yes.

MELBER: Right. And that`s something that Chairman Cummings, who we`ve reported, is quite careful about these things, was putting on the record in a serious way.

SCHWARTZ: He doesn`t hear it. Trump doesn`t hear it.

MELBER: Tony Schwartz, always appreciate your insights here on our state of mind series.

Up ahead, person number two in Mueller`s Roger Stone indictment speaks out. Our cameras caught up with him. It`s new and only on THE BEAT.

But first, you know what happened. Michael Cohen says the New York feds investigating new potential crimes involving Trump. David Kelly, who ran that office, joins me exclusively when we`re back in 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: When was the last communication with President Trump or someone acting on his behalf? Do you have a general timeframe?

COHEN: I would suspect it was within two months post the raid of my home, hotel.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: OK. So early fall of last year, generally?

COHEN: This topic is actually something that`s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York and I`ve been asked by them not to discuss it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Michael Cohen testifying there under oath, he can`t discuss his very last communication with President Trump, because that, itself, is under criminal investigation by the Southern District of New York. Wow. The famously aggressive federal prosecution office threw the book at Cohen and it`s currently probing issues that implicate Trump Org, the "National Enquirer," activities at Trump Tower.

And as we`ve reported on THE BEAT, this is the office that graduates pretty famous prosecutors. Rudy Giuliani ran it before becoming of New York. Preet Bharara ran it before Trump fired him. James Comey ran it before getting promoted to Deputy Attorney General. And David Kelly ran it by taking over when Comey was promoted.

Now, the office does not have jurisdiction over the White House, but Cohen confirmed they have these ongoing investigations involving Trump that have not ever been disclosed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven`t yet discussed today?

COHEN: Yes. And again, those are part of the investigation that`s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.

I am in constant contact with the Southern District of New York regarding ongoing investigations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Constant contact. To understand what that means and how this Southern District works, it does help to hear from one of the few people who ever ran the office. And we have one of them as an exclusive tonight. David Kelly ran the office as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York after James Comey, whom he`s also represented. And disclosure, I used to practice law with Kelly, who joins us from Washington. Thanks for being here.

DAVID KELLY: Thanks for having me, Ari.

MELBER: The Southern District does a lot of big things. It doesn`t usually have open probes into a sitting president. How do they approach this and what did you think of what Cohen did reveal?

KELLY: Look, I think they approached this as they would any case. What you saw on T.V. and in his testimony, and I didn`t watch all of it, but you saw really just kind of a one-dimension look into the investigation that the Southern District is conducting.

What they really will do is take all of those pieces that they have. You know, maybe they have many more dimensions than he offered yesterday in his testimony. And really go and track down each one of the leads that he gives.

So, look, there`s a lot of noise made yesterday about his credibility. In fact, the Republican side don`t want to talk about the substance of it. What they want to talk about is his credibility. What the Southern District is doing is, I`m sure, is taking that stuff and corroborating each piece of evidence.

So, for example, when he talks about Deutsche Bank and the inflated financial statements, the Southern District goes and gets those financial statements, what was produced at Deutsche Bank? And look and see, can they corroborate what he has said? My guess is they`re probably doing a pretty good job of that.

MELBER: When he produces the checks that show multiple people, a Trump Org executive and Donald Trump`s son signing over basically money that it wouldn`t appear to be a valid or properly accounted for business expense of Trump Org, is that something they could look at? And if they are considering investigating someone like a presidential family member, do they have to do anything differently?

DAVID KELLEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: No. They`ll bring that tile dry. They`re going to try to find corroboration for every little piece of evidence so for example, if he were to say, I met with President Trump that day and was such-and-such a date and I remember it was raining really hard. Well, the Southern District one thing they`re going to go do is well, was it raining really hard that day?

I mean, that is the kind of detail that they will look to find so that these people who want to contest these allegations such as the Republican members of the committee by saying he`s got no credibility, I`d say wait a second. Wait and see. Why don`t you collect the facts first before you go jumping on his -- on his credibility? Take the facts and see what corroboration there is.

Yesterday was only a one-dimensional look at this case and there`s a lot more facets to this is my guess than is meeting the public eye at the moment.

MELBER: Right. It`s very interesting here you underscore that because as much as it was billed by some to be an assessment of everything Michel Cohen`s done or his personality, you`re pointing out he`s essentially a fact witness and they need other material than decide what the truth is. There was also this exchange where he detailed the way that Donald Trump tries to get his way and speak in code. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: He doesn`t give you orders. He speaks in a code. And I understand the code because I`ve been around him for a decade. I am in constant contact with the Southern District of New York regarding ongoing investigations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: How do prosecutors deal with someone who has legal experience? Donald Trump has been in more litigation than any president American history. And how do they deal with someone who might actively try to evade doing the things that formerly crossed the line if allegedly their goal might still be an illegal outcome?

KELLEY: Well, look, people aren`t so smart as they think they are typically. But let me -- let me make one point here too. You know, they attack his credibility so much yesterday in these hearings and people want to jump on them for that but they don`t -- they don`t -- they need to remember the government didn`t pick Cohen as their witness, Trump did.

I mean this is a person who Trump chose to have by his side for ten years or more. And Jim Jordan, those folks who have been former prosecutors know well that the way you find out about what the bad people do is you get somebody who is close to the bad person who was bad themselves. Sure, we may have credibility problems but the Southern District is going to do is go and corroborate that stuff.

And when you talk about you know attempts to evade and you know, there`s ways to break through that there`s lots of different piece of evidence that they may put together to show you know, to say that what Cohen was saying about how the President would interact and send messages and speak to code, there`s ways of finding that pattern through conduct and how other witnesses may describe it.

MELBER: Well, and David, as the prosecutor I know you to be, you keep hammering the nail that you don`t think the Republican questioning was useful to finding the truth. Here you hit that in every answer but I think a lot of Americans can make up their own minds. They saw this exchange and they saw who was asking questions that seemed concerned with the committee`s job. It`s literally called the government oversight committee.

I want to play for you as well Andy McCabe who of course you know about because he told our own Lawrence O`Donnell his reaction to this report that the president did try to interfere in the Southern District, the office you used to ran -- used to run. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The President called up Matthew Whitaker when he became the so-called acting Attorney General and asked if basically, he could change prosecutors in New York.

ANDY MCCABE, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, FBI: It`s not surprising at all, right, when -- especially when you`re familiar with the history that we went through in May of 2017. It`s not that different from asking Director Comey to just let go of the investigation of Mike Flynn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: When you ran that office, did you ever experience any personal interference from a sitting president?

KELLEY: No.

MELBER: When you see Andy McCabe`s reaction, do you share that view or do you think there`s just no way to know?

KELLEY: It`s really hard to know. I would be really -- look, look what happened when the president reached out to Preet. And Preet didn`t take the call. The next day Preet was fired. I really think that had there been any sort of reached out, the Southern District and particularly Jeff Berman who I know quite well, it would have handled it completely appropriately. And my guess is that it would have gone nowhere but a dead- end street.

MELBER: And to be clear, you`re referring to Mr. Berman who has the job you used to have. He recused from part of this which is why we`ve seen Khuzami step up and take part of the Trump probes. What Trump is accused of doing in these accounts in the New York Times is trying to get Berman back in charge.

You`re saying even if Trump was successful in that, you don`t think that he would bend to Trump`s will?

KELLEY: No. I think it would hit a dead end. It would float like a lead balloon. I just think they`d be all over that. I just really trust that that would -- if he -- if he had made that approach, it would have come out and would been handled appropriately and effectively.

MELBER: I want to ask you about immunity deals which of course, you guys enforce quite strictly. In fact, the last time you were on THE BEAT you were explaining you don`t take any guff if you give anyone a deal. David Pecker is in all kinds of trouble for all sorts of reasons, but one of them is the allegation from a pretty significant individual Jeff Bezos that there was extortion and blackmail and I think people remember the outlines of that story.

In your view, if those allegations prove true, could he lose his immunity deal with the Southern District?

KELLEY: I don`t know what the immunity deal is that it has with the Southern District. But typically if you enter a deal and you basically have to stay out of trouble or the deal gets violated. And that happens not infrequently and then you get hit with more charges and the deal gets ripped up. So I can see that certainly happening if those facts are borne out.

MELBER: And if those facts are borne out, I understand the caution you`re speaking with, that brings you back to a National Inquirer Trump Campaign investigation of whether in addition to what Michael Cohen detailed this week with all the money and the follow the money, whether the National Enquirer was sort of illegally operating as a corporation subsidizing in some way the Trump campaign.

Is that something in your view that could lead to further charges for people or the Enquirer or the Trump campaign?

KELLEY: It`s hard to answer in a vacuum but certainly you know the scenario you paint is one that certainly could be in place. And so yes.

MELBER: Final question. You began our discussion by saying well, they treat this case like any other and that`s certainly what they`re supposed to do. But you and I and I think most of our viewers by now do know there is one difference which is if the Southern District were to find something incriminating against the sitting president, there is the difference that DOJ policy says you can`t indict him. What if anything do they do with that kind of information?

KELLEY: Well, there`s a couple of things here. First off, it`s a policy it`s not the law. Policies can be bent, policies can be broken, and I think it`s going to depend on the facts and the gravity of the offenses if any that they find.

MELBER: So I got to push you then. If you were back in that office, I`m not naming a president, say any president, President Johnson, President X, would you have considered that a potential option on the table?

KELLEY: Sure. I mean, certainly -- look, I think the people who the prosecutors are going to be the ones who are really going to be pushing to say look, this is really bad and the person should be prosecuted and here`s why. On the other side of the coin, they may find some fairly minor offenses and they said they wouldn`t push up against the policy.

I think it`s really going to depend on you know, on -- look, if he went ahead and committed murder on Fifth Avenue like he says he could get away with, I don`t think he -- I don`t think he would, policy or no policy. So let`s see how this plays out.

MELBER: Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York David Kelley, thanks for making time for us on THE BEAT tonight.

KELLEY: Thank you.

MELBER: And coming up, a 2020 Democratic candidates on the show live. We`re going to talk Cohen, Mueller, and a path to beating Trump. Also, we have just caught up with Person Two from the Roger Stone indictment. His first time on camera since the indictment came down. We`ll show you that exclusive later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: D.C. Democrats are on offense today pushing for new interviews with Trump officials implicated by Michael Cohen`s testimony. And as you see some Democrats also on offense on the campaign trail. Julian Castro, a former Obama administration official is running for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in 2020. Thanks for being here.

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, UNITED STATES: Great to be with you.

MELBER: Why would you beat Trump?

CASTRO: Well, I think I represent the antithesis of Donald Trump. Yesterday was a great example. What we have is the most corrupt administration that we`ve seen in our lifetime. I believe that we need to restore integrity to the White House.

I think that Americans are ready for a president that is trying to bring people together instead of tear them apart. Also, a president who wants to be a president for everybody and not just a president for 37 percent that he sees as his base, and somebody that`s fundamentally focused on the future like I am instead of somebody that`s trying to go back and make our country something again.

I don`t want to make our country something again. I want to make our country better than it ever has been in the years to come.

MELBER: And your competitor Senator Harris referred to the president as a racist as did his former aide Michael Cohen yesterday. Would you go that far or how would you put it?

CASTRO: Yes. I mean, I had to say that he`s clearly acted in a racist way. He has drummed up division, racial division in this country. He has set this country back as far as I`m concerned in terms of our racial relations. And that`s just one of the reasons why we can`t get beyond this president fast enough.

I mean, this has been the worst president that -- one of the worst presidents certainly that this country has ever seen, and the worst president that we have seen in our lifetime.

MELBER: You`re here as a candidate, you`re also a Harvard Law graduate. Did you ever remind people of that?

CASTRO: Not really.

MELBER: Humble, humble heart. You know, I just want to see --

CASTRO: I told --

MELBER: Go ahead.

CASTRO: I told the only joke that I`ve ever come up with today to a crowd of lawyers. I said what is a collection of lawyer`s diaries? And I made this joke up and I`m proud of it. I said a library. That`s an original joke and that came out of practicing law.

MELBER: I can feel that one.

CASTRO: I don`t go -- I don`t go around bragging that I went to Harvard, no.

MELBER: And that`s good for us. We learn -- we learn about all kinds of things about the candidates. Well, lawyers obviously talk too much, one present member of company included myself. But as the legal analyst that you -- that you are I want to read to you, you know, Trump Junior`s Senate testimony saying well, he was peripherally aware of all this Moscow project stuff. He knew "very little about it as a project."

You`re running for president. We`re talking about whether our national security is implicated. Is that enough that answer? How do you analyze it legally or otherwise?

CASTRO: Well, you know, of course, I am not privy to what the House Intelligence Committee or the Senate Committee that has reviewed this or gotten his testimony is privy to. But from what I can tell at least, it seems like there are contradictory statements that Donald Trump Jr. and others in that orbit have clearly made.

And you know, how many times did Donald Trump Jr. did deny at first that they hadn`t even dealt with Russia or Russians in any way. So I don`t think that he has much credibility if any credibility at all and you know, I`m glad that now the Democrats control that House Intelligence Committee, the House Oversight Committee that they`re going to be able hold witnesses like this accountable. And when it`s appropriate, to send their testimony over to Robert Mueller to integrate into his investigation.

MELBER: Makes sense. Let`s end with a very quick lightning round, one- word answers if you can. Your go to workout song Secretary Castro.

CASTRO: Eye of the Tiger.

MELBER: Solid. Say something nice about Senator Ted Cruz.

CASTRO: Family man, you know, he seems to be a man of faith.

MELBER: Solid. And this could give us insights. Your dream running mate living or dead.

CASTRO: My dream running mate is actually my twin brother Joaquin, but we`re both from Texas so I wouldn`t be able to take the 38 electoral votes that I`m going to win in 2020 so I`m going to have to leave him to the side.

MELBER: Who`s on top of that ticket though? Definitely you?

CASTRO: Well, I`m a minute older so definitely me. And he has that ugly beard these days too. He`s got that ugly beard so that doesn`t help.

MELBER: There`s a lot -- so much news tonight. Secretary Castro, I appreciate you joining us. I hope you`ll come back on THE BEAT.

CASTRO: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you, Sir. Up ahead, Bob Mueller alleged Roger Stone intimidated a witness widely known as Person Two. Randy Credico breaking his silence for the first time since that indictment. We`ll show it to you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Michael Cohen just spoke out about public threats he`s received but he`s not the only Mueller witness to receive threats. Take Randy Credico, a Mueller witness on Wikileaks he broke the news on THE BEAT that Roger Stone was threatening him in a bizarre way but it actually makes more sense if you know Credico who values his dog like a family member, something he said Stone was exploiting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m going to read to you something that Roger Stone allegedly said to you. I`m going to take that dog away from you. Nothing you can do about it. I`m paraphrasing. I will prove to the world you`re a liar. Is Stone in your view trying to threaten you so you will change your account of his activities in 2016?

RANDY CREDICO, RADIO HOST: I think he didn`t like me being on your show the first time. He`s afraid I`m going to unload on him.

MELBER: Why is he -- let me ask you this. Why is he bringing your dog -- we have it on the screen. Why is he bringing your dog into this?

CREDICO: Because he`s a sick man. He is delusional.

MELBER: And Bob Mueller later said that was a crime citing Stone`s texts as an obstruction and witness tampering against the dog. Now, Roger Stone has been talking since his indictment until the recent gag order. Other key Mueller witnesses against Stone like Jerome Corsi have been talking too. But not Credico who`s yet to reappear for any interviews since Mueller declared him Person Two.

And tonight he`s not doing a full interview but here at THE BEAT, our cameras did just catch up with him at perhaps a fitting location a pet store with his dog Bianca. This is his first televised remarks since Stone was indicted. Credico pushing back against Roger Stone`s defense that when he said he would take the dog, Bianca, away from Credico, Stone claims it was only to take better care of her because Credico allegedly mistreats her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CREDICO: I think they should fall back because Bianca is one of the best- treated dogs in the country. She just got cleaned. She gets cleaned every couple of weeks. It`s very expensive and she`s well fed. She only eats chicken sirloin and salmon. That`s her diet. So people should stop saying out there publicly or through social media that this dog is mistreated. She`s not mistreated. She is -- and she`s a great health.

So these are rumors. These are lies being spread by bad people and I`ve had to come out today to get her cleaned and say to them please stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And with all the news this week about WikiLeaks, there are other questions for Credico -- he`s one of the only people in U.S. media to interview Julian Assange during 2016 so we made sure to ask him for a full interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CREDICO: If I do an interview, it will definitely be on THE BEAT. As long as they stop calling me an associate of you know who. But THE BEAT is the next place I`m going to be. It`s the first place I went this last year 2018 and it will be my next place. That`s a promise. I already promised Ari that and he knows it. But just stop calling me an associate because she gets upset with that.

She gets very upset. Now she`s going to go for a little walk here. You see, she just -- it takes two hours to clean. Look at that hair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Look at it. And our invite is open for all Mueller witnesses with or without pets. When we come back, I`m going to share one more thing from the news with you tonight. But meantime, Credico gets the last word in this segment looking forward to tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CREDICO: Say goodbye. Have a nice "FALLBACK FRIDAY." We`re going to fall back and hide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: There are anonymous leaks about their being issues but the President had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband`s clearance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Zero involvement, Ivanka Trump said. Tonight, the New York Times says the opposite. Four sources saying Donald Trump ordered officials to give Kushner security clearance over their objections. That contradicts what you just heard from his daughter as well as the President`s on the record denials. Another story bubbling up tonight.

That does it for THE BEAT. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews starts right now.

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