ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I`m excited for it. Thank you Chuck. We`re going to get right into it because we do have a very special show this Friday night. Senator Elizabeth Warren, she made some big news today with this plan to take on some major corporations. She`s my guest in studio tonight talking about that plan. There`s a lot of other news that is also going down today from the fallout over a Paul Manafort`s light sentence to where is this Mueller probe headed? I`m going to get into all of it with her in this extensive interview.
It is, we should mention, her first time on "The Beat" as a presidential candidate and that will be our very next segment. Right now let me tell you the top story. It was the sight today of the President of the United States openly sympathizing with a unrepentant convicted felon. Now unrepentant is not a word that I`m telling you from my brain and our scripting or my planning, it`s literally how the judge overseeing this case, Judge Ellis, described guilty former Trump Campaign Chief Paul Manafort right before rewarding him with this very light prison sentence that was heard around the nation.
Donald Trump taking a different tack in talking about his former lawyer, Michael Cohen today who has been credited for some cooperation by Mueller. He`s trying to draw Cohen into a new fight over whether Cohen ever asked for a pardon. Now if that wasn`t enough, I could tell you the U.S. also got a weak jobs report today. Donald Trump lost his fifth communications director -- fifth. "Fox News" insider Bill Shine out.
And there are now reports that it was a leaker in Trump`s own White House who dished to democrats about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump`s nepotism scandal over security clearances. That`s happening right now and as Mueller gears up for Manafort`s second sentencing next week, I can also report for you I guess because it`s Friday and things are always happening in this other related case, this investigating WikiLeaks, a pretty famous witness Chelsea Manning was jailed today for refusing to talk.
All of that is going on. I want to begin with former federal prosecutor Seth Waxman whose last trial as a prosecutor was actually before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the judge who will sentence Manafort for his crimes in the D.C. District next week. Great to have you tonight. Thanks for being here.
SETH WAXMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Before we get to next week and before we get to Senator Warren who I`m telling viewers we`re going to get to, I want to get to what we learned from the Mueller side last night because they seem to be very clear on the record, they wanted the judge to know and now the world knows, they say Manafort was lying the whole time. What is the significance of that?
WAXMAN: Well, it means that Mr. Manafort wasn`t coming forward, wasn`t being truthful. He has failed as a cooperator. The government has let the judge know that. They`re duty bound to describe the nature and extent of a potential -- a person being sentenced cooperation. And it seems very clear that he wasn`t giving the government much, if anything, during those many 50 hours.
They`ve made it clear that he didn`t do a lot for them so they haven`t done a lot for them in return. They`re going hard on him in Virginia. They got a lenient sentence there. I don`t expect it to be as lenient in D.C. next week.
MELBER: I want to ask you about Judge Jackson going ahead to that. But before we get to that, take a listen to Manafort`s own lawyer bizarrely focusing on something that`s not an issue in either case. Kevin Downing last night, take a look.
KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT`S LAWYER: I think most importantly what you saw today is the same thing that we had said from day one. There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia.
MELBER: Was it suspicious that he was focused on that?
WAXMAN: Well, you know, there`s some suggestion that he`s out there trying to seek that pardon once again. I mean, it wasn`t an expressed request for a pardon. But you could see if you read between the lines, that he`s out there toeing the company line that there was no collusion.
MELBER: It wasn`t - it wasn`t an express request but it was tantamount to him coming out and saying, "Hey, everyone, CNN sucks or the inauguration crowd was large." I mean, it had nothing to do with the victory that they`d just scored. You can give him legal credit. They got the result they wanted for their client. I mean Ellis gave less jail time than Manafort`s own lawyers had talked about him getting but it wasn`t about that and it`s not about next week so what else was it about?
WAXMAN: Yes, I mean it sure does look like a play for a pardon. We know that seems to be out there. Mr. Trump himself has said I`m not taking anything off the table and that raises the question of obstruction of justice which is very troubling.
MELBER: And then that brings us to your expertise. America has been going to law school together. People are learning names of judges they might never know. Judge Ellis now people have come to learn about and we`re going to talk about some of the disparities and racial justice issues in his courtroom in a minute. But as for Judge Jackson, who`s next week going to make a final call here, what can you tell us about her having been before her?
WAXMAN: Yes, I did my last trial as a federal prosecutor back in 2015 in front of her. She is a highly-respected judge. She does not suffer fools lightly and I will tell you just like every judge in this country, when they let a person stay out of jail pending trial and that person goes out
She does not suffer fools lightly. And I will tell you just like every judge in this country, when they let a person stay out of jail pending trial and that person goes out and flouts the judge`s orders and thumbs their nose or puts it right in the judge`s face and goes out and commits additional crimes, judges despise that. So I know Judge Berman Jackson is going to hold that against Mr. Manafort and in addition it`s kind of an unique case in that the sentencing guidelines are way above the maximum sentence that Judge Berman Jackson can give which is ten years. The defense has agreed that that guideline range which is upwards of 17 to 21 years is a reasonable sentence and should be sentenced within that guideline range.
MELBER: So you think it could be a tough -- tougher day next week?
WAXMAN: Yes, no question.
MELBER: Yes, Seth Waxman who`s been there, thank you.
I want to turn now as promised. I`m joined by Melissa Murray. We`re going to walk through something so important even if you`d already heard about it which is that there is racial injustice in criminal sentencing. Thank you for being here.
MELISSA MURRAY, INTERIM DEAN AND PROFESSOR OF LAW AT BOALT HALL SCHOOL OF LAW: Shocking.
MELBER: So let`s walk through this. Manafort had a pretty light sentence and it`s a reminder of the blatant inequities in our justice system. Take a look at this recent study, 2017, from the sentencing commission which found black male offenders received sentences that are 19 percent longer than similarly situated white male offenders and that`s just when you get to the sentencing stage and the facts.
Then let`s look at Judge Ellis more narrowly. This is the person who sentenced Paul Manafort and hasn`t shied away in some cases although he is a critic of prosecutors at times but let`s look at what he`s done in other cases in the past, 2009. Here`s former Congressman Jefferson, and Judge Ellis handled him for financial crimes, not violence, a 13-year sentence over corruption. It was at the time the longest sentence ever for a Congressman. So when you look at this argument that maybe financial crimes are not sentenced to the max, that wasn`t true there for Judge Ellis and it`s not true around the country.
Here`s former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. He was sentenced to 28 years in 2013, the max. It was a corruption case. His coconspirator got 21 years, a little under the 28-year maximum. Unlike Paul Manafort, Mayor Kilpatrick also talked to the court about his remorse. He said quote, "He really, really, really messed up and took full responsibility for all his actions." NYU`s Law Professor Melissa Murray, a former clerk at times to then Judge Sotomayor. Thanks for being here.
MELISSA MURRAY, INTERIM DEAN AND PROFESSOR OF LAW AT BOALT HALL SCHOOL OF LAW: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Let`s get into it. Because Judge Ellis is more critical of prosecutors and I want to note that to be accurate. But this was a record- breaking sentence for Jefferson in his courtroom. Mr. Kilpatrick we showed there also didn`t live a blameless life. But these were all African- American males.
MURRAY: So it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching the news or even listening to casual observers that there are serious disparities on the basis of race in the criminal justice system, both at the charging stage where the charges are levied and all the way through to sentencing. That shouldn`t be shocking. The fact that it is being raised in such a blatant way in this particular case is actually newsworthy. Judge Ellis.
MELBER: You`re saying this is even worse than what someone familiar with how racist the system can be in its operation?
MURRAY: Likely because of the political overlay. This is not your average run of the mill case with any random ...
MELBER: Certainly not.
MURRAY: . so this is unusual. The political overlay is really unusual here. I don`t think that we should necessarily be skeptical of a judge who questions the severity of criminal sentences.
MURRAY: And Judge Ellis has consistently done that.
MELBER: As mentioned.
MURRAY: There have been cases where he has challenged the mandatory minimum and has sentenced the mandatory minimum because it is mandatory but he`s expressed real reservations about severe sentences. The problem I think with this case is it does look so jarring in light of everything that has happened and in light of the observations that the judge has made. The idea Paul Manafort has had a blameless life is ludicrous in light of the fact that he has lied to the special counsel. That he has been charged in another jurisdiction with obstruction of justice. This is not a blameless individual. This is an individual who hasn`t gotten caught yet.
MELBER: We should be clear when it`s a complete automatic mandatory - judges can talk about what they think about it .
MELBER: . but they don`t have the legal freedom to do anything different.
MELBER: With the sentencing guidelines, that`s when you get into the discretion and the choice.
MELBER: And its pretty telling that Judge Ellis looked at all of this including the post indictment obstruction and then the attacks on Mueller through the plea deal that Manafort blew up for himself and then the statement in court that didn`t even repent and still came down so differently than Congressman Jefferson. Do you think this is a situation where judges don`t even realize their own blind spots?
MURRY: I don`t know. Judge Ellis, I`ve never seen Judge Ellis unlike Seth Waxman. All I can say about the situation is that there are true disparities here. This is a four year -- less than a four-year sentence on truly serious crimes versus 13 years also for financial crimes. And Judge Ellis has noted that the severity of these sentences has real consequences for the offender, for their families. All of that was true in the case of Bill Jefferson and all of that will be true for Paul Manafort but the difference between 4 years and 13 years is really sizable especially in a case with the political implications this one has.
MELBER: Yes, it`s quite a -- we have it on the screen behind us. These are two faces. This is the face of two people who were involved in politics who were convicted of bad things. Right? So the question isn`t are either of them great. The question is why does the other face, Paul Manafort here behind me, why does that face look so different in our system and is treated to different than Jefferson? There is also just the general fact that some of this is cooky even beyond race, there`s class and other dynamics. You were talking about survivor star Richard Hatch. Tell us about that. We`ll put it on the screen.
MURRAY: Yes. So if you`re a pulp culture aficionado, as I am, you know Richard Hatch was the first winner of "Survivor" and when he received those winnings, he did not pay taxes on them. He was later charged in the District of Rhode Island of tax evasion and he served 51 months in prison - or he was sentenced to 51 months in prison for that crime. Tax evasion, a really serious crime, as serious as the fraud and tax fraud charges that Paul Manafort was up against here. The difference between 51 months and 47 months again not that sizable but again the political overlay makes this look a little more complicated and I think it`s unusual that given everything, given that Judge Ellis recognized that Paul Manafort had had not expressed remorse, that there were these issues of lying to the prosecutors even though he was supposed to be cooperating. That nonetheless Judge Ellis came to the conclusion that Paul Manafort had otherwise lived a blameless life.
MELBER: Right, and I`m not here to search inside the judge`s soul. I can`t do that as a reporter but I am here to show the facts and the discrepancies and the system that we`ve been documenting and reporting on for some time which grinds down African-Americans and people of color and explicitly and especially African-American males. And so to have it all pop off.
MURRAY: And women. There`s also the issue of Crystal Mason who registered to vote not realizing as a former convicted felon that she was ineligible to do so.
MELBER: And didn`t even have the requisite intent and got years.
MURRAY: Yes, five years.
MELBER: Yes I know but I think when you look at the assumptions that are made about whether someone is blameless and the type of life they`ve led, I think that goes to a final point that I think can be confusing that I think we need to reflect on more which is empathy and sympathy are really great human emotions when we deal with them day to day but there`s a reason they`re not supposed to govern a fair and equal system of law that is supposed to be standard for everyone. Because it seems that when empathy comes up in some of these places, it`s some sort of beltway swamp empathy for only certain types of people.
MURRAY: Well it also raises the point that elections matter. Judge Ellis is on the bench because he is a Reagan appointee. President Trump has at this point in his tenure in office, appointed more judges than President Obama. These are judges who again, the diversity of the bench matters. This is not necessarily a situation where this judge might be as sympathetic or empathetic with other kinds of defendants.
MELBER: Melissa Murray gets the last word on this one. Thank you for being here tonight. I appreciate it.
MURRAY: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Up next, we fit in a quick break and then we`re going to get into it, my exclusive sit down interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren right here in New York making news with this big plan to break up tech giants like Amazon and Google. She`s one of the biggest names right now in the presidential race. She`s at 30 Rock and later, don`t think we forgot. We still got a "Fall Back" for you. Actor John Turturro who has played a lawyer on TV and Nick Ackerman who has played a lawyer on TV. I`m telling you it`s a big show. Please stick around, we`ll be right back.
MELBER: Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of the most famous democrats running for president right now. And she`s in New York today unveiling a big plan to take on corporations. Something that I think is fair to say she`s known for. But specifically corporations which have actually proven popular among voters and among a lot of democratic donors which makes this in itself pretty interesting.
She`s also heading into this interview at a pretty busy time in the Mueller probe, you may have heard. Let`s just say we have a lot to get to and we`re going to do it right now. Senator Elizabeth Warren here for the interview in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Joining me now is Senator Elizabeth Warren democrat from Massachusetts and a 2020 presidential candidate. Thanks for being here.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you. I`m delighted to be here.
MELBER: You have criticized a lot of big banks. Today you`re talking about breaking up big tech. Why?
WARREN: So here`s the deal, we need real competition in this field and there`s a problem. So Amazon, Google, they own a platform which is pretty cool, right where everybody comes to buy and sell or to do the searches. And at the same time, they own a bunch of businesses that are competing with all those folks who are coming, say, to Amazon in order to sell their goods.
And they don`t just compete straight up. They compete by being able to keep all of the information from every one of those companies and then decide, oh. I`m going after you and you and I know how much to charge and I know what kind of volume to expect. It`s a little like being an umpire in baseball and owning a team. My view is you can do one, be an umpire, or the other, own a team. But you don`t get to do both at the same time.
MELBER: Right and you want to regulate so they don`t just favor themselves. You dropped this plan today. This is your first big TV interview about it. Let`s take a look at some of the reception today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Elizabeth Warren is going after big tech companies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warren rolling out one of her big policy plans, breaking up Amazon, Google and other big tech giants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the toughest plan that we`ve seen to date from any of the Democratic contenders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A huge shakeup in the tech sector.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s big, and it`s bold, and it`s going to be difficult to achieve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could she really force this kind of breakup?
MELBER: Could she really do it? What`s the answer?
WARREN: You bet. The answer is yes, but you know let`s be really clear about this. If you still want to be able to search for coffee pots and look at -- you know, 63 choices and get the one that`s going to be there in 48 hours. You can still do that as a consumer. This preserves the platform.
If you still want to go on Google and find out the capital of North Dakota, you can totally do it. What this is about is about competition, it`s about all those little businesses and start-up businesses and entrepreneurs who want to put their products on Amazon, or on Google and who are at an enormous competitive disadvantage because Amazon or Google -- if they like the money they see that you`re making because they get all the information, they decide to go in to competition with you and put their product on page one and your product back on page six and kill your business.
MELBER: Let`s go through some of these companies so we can all understand.
MELBER: Yes or no, and then we`ll get in to them.
MELBER: Do you view them as operating monopolies? Google?
WARREN: So Google, yes -- pretty much in a monopoly.
WARREN: Oh, yes. They`ve got - can we just do on Amazon, 49 percent .
MELBER: Well I`m going to go forward, Facebook? Yes?
MELBER: OK, so let`s look at Facebook first and then we`ll go through each of them.
MELBER: So Mr. Zuckerberg disagrees with you, take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Twitter the same as what you do?
ZUCKERBERG: It overlaps a portion of what we do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t think you have a monopoly?
ZUCKERBERG: It certainly doesn`t feel like that to me.
MELBER: Is he wrong?
WARREN: Yes. Because he has the Facebook platform, that`s the key part here. So if you want to check on what your college roommates are up to, you`ve got to go to his platform. And the part that gets me and I really want to describe at this way, monopoly power is that so many folks have got to come to his platform to be able to transact. He wants to be able to sell ads for example, on that. The problem is he`s scooping all this information up.
MELBER: He`s -- Facebook is your arm in this analogy? OK.
WARREN: OK, this is the platform. That`s exactly right.
MELBER: And then what goes on?
WARREN: And then what happens is he uses all this information and then makes the decisions about how to scoop up others in the marketplace. For example, he runs a buy and sell for ads. So he`s in every position on that -- a buyer of ads, a seller of ads and running the little platform where those are sold.
That just creates an enormous competitive advantage and here`s the problem on every one of these, these advantages are now so enormous that venture capitalists are starting to say, "Wait a minute if you`re going to go in to a space where you could in some way be challenging Amazon, or be challenging Facebook or be challenging Google -- it is now referred to as the kill zone."
And venture capital has gone down, investment by about 20 percent over the past five years or so because they`re just saying it doesn`t make any sense.
MELBER: So if you plan is enacted, does each of those companies get somewhat broken up?
WARREN: So what they did is the platform gets broken off from the individual companies. That`s what I`m saying.
MELBER: And you think that`s good for consumers?
WARREN: It`s excellent for consumers because it not only means the platform will be level. You`re not getting something from Amazon pushed out in front of you, and a better competitor hidden back on page six. It also means the next good idea has a chance to mature and develop.
MELBER: Right, but Amazon just like everyone remembers as booksellers is not going to be knee tapping everyone, then you.
WARREN: That`s right.
MELBER: Then you -- you`re here on "The Beat" tonight announcing this plan today and you`re campaigning in Long Island City.
WARREN: I am.
MELBER: . where Amazon just pulled out, is that deliberate?
WARREN: That`s right, you bet it`s deliberate.
MELBER: What are you saying?
WARREN: What I`m talking about is how big these tech giants have gotten, so that what we see -- and we saw right there on Long Island City. Is they come in, they bully towns, cities, states all around the country.
You know the handful of tech giants have gotten more than $10 billion in breaks from towns, and cities, and states over the past few years.
MELBER: Corporate welfare...
WARREN: That`s right, but.
MELBER: So let me ask you this, is that a problem with the incentives or was New York wrong to give them that much of an offer?
WARREN: The problem - the problem is the "Hunger Games" about it because that`s what`s happening here, and it`s a problem because it creates more concentration in the industry. You know, they`re not offering the cities and towns a zillion bucks in goodies and tax breaks to the entrepreneur whose getting started, to the small business that`s trying to make a go of it. Even to the medium-sized business and big business that want to grow more -- nope.
This is about the giants who are able to swagger in to town and say, "Lay in front of me what you`re going to offer and I`ll decide if I like it or not, and then I`ll go somewhere else and see what they`ll offer. And by the way, if you start asking me hard questions about the jobs, about where the money`s going to come from, about how much guarantee I`m putting in to this -- I`ll just get mad and go somewhere else."
MELBER: So your new plan also talks a lot about antitrust. You`ve been critical of the AT&T merger with CNN`s parent company.
MELBER: So has Donald Trump, but "The New Yorker" reported this week his reason was he wanted to use those powers to beat up on CNN.
WARREN: That`s right.
MELBER: Is that wrong, and if so what do you do about it?
WARREN: Yes, it`s very wrong. For the president to say I want to see an antitrust prosecution based on political advantage to the president, is about as wrong as it gets. What I want to see is antitrust enforcement, because it protects markets, because it protects small competitors, because it protects consumers over the long run.
MELBER: So how do you deal with what he has allegedly done? And should there be punishment for that?
WARREN: Well I think we need -- I mean, I think there`s going to be a very serious investigation about this. There`s a fundamental question about whether what he`s done is even legal.
MELBER: Would that -- that may have been a legal way to attack CNN?
WARREN: May have been.
MELBER: Interesting, which they happen to be a competitor but we`re interested in more of the free press issue. Let`s go to the way the Treasury Department is run, because you look at it right now and I`ll draw your attention to a very simple illustration. Under Donald Trump, we can put up on the screen you have in the red zone there, Goldman Sachs.
MELBER: . as part of Treasury Department leadership.
If you go back in the Obama era we checked and as you know we had Goldman Sachs former executives running Treasury then. Go back to Bush, also Goldman Sachs.
MELBER: You go back to Bill Clinton, also Goldman Sachs. In a Warren Administration would there be a former Goldman Sachs executive running the Treasury Department?
MELBER: Is that a pledge?
WARREN: Yes. Oh, that`s easy.
MELBER: That`s a litmus test?
WARREN: Absolutely. But let me tell you why, the problem we`ve got right now is a revolving door between Wall Street and Washington that causes everybody to be on this (ph) for -- wait a minute, the next time this Treasury Secretary puts forward a proposal is it because it really helps the economy, helps the American consumer, helps the American homeowner?
Or is it because it helps their former and possibly future employer? Let`s just do for one second the Gary Cohn example -- another Goldman Sachs, you remember.
MELBER: Oh, I`m sure.
WARREN: That`s exactly right. So Trump appoints Gary Cohn, he leaves Goldman Sachs and Gary Cohn is going to have exactly one job. And that is to ramrod through a rewrite of the tax laws that will profoundly affect Goldman Sachs. So what does Goldman Sachs do as Gary walks out the door? They hand him nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, it`s a gift -- they don`t have to.
MELBER: Is it legal bribery?
WARREN: I think of it as a pre-bribe.
WARREN: Yes. So Gary then goes out and guess what he does? He writes a tax law and manages to help ramrod it through that benefits Goldman Sachs to the tune of oh, a quarter of a billion dollars in the first go-round.
MELBER: And what you`re saying.
WARREN: And then it`s the gift that keeps on giving.
MELBER: What you`re saying makes sense, and we have such ripe targets, I think people could understand what you`re pointing to. But what does it mean for the Democratic Party if this was also how Obama and Clinton ran the Treasury? Would you be a fundamental break with that, I guess is the question?
WARREN: Well the problem -- I have written the biggest anticorruption bill since Watergate. Because we have a fundamental problem in Washington, and understand it`s a problem that predates Trump by decades.
WARREN: Trump may be the most extreme example now, the pre-bribe of Gary Cohn for example. But we have a longstanding problem, and that`s the influence of money on decision making in Washington.
So this bill has lots of pieces to it, including closing the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. Ending lobbying as we know it. Putting a real ethics cop on the beat, saying that the heads of these agencies cannot be trading in stocks .
MELBER: Right, so as a political matter are you basically writing off a bunch of Wall Street money and then today you`re writing off a bunch of Silicon Valley money?
WARREN: Maybe. But this isn`t about the money. This is about how it is we`re kind of make this country work again not just for the rich of the powerful. How we`re going to make it work for everyone. You know, we live in America right now where Washington works great for giant drug companies, just not for people are trying fill a prescription.
MELBER: So you talk about -- this is -- you talk about how the Beltway works. Everyone has been talking about the rather light sentence that Paul Manafort got. When you look at that, does that reflect what you`re saying when Washington works well for the connected in the affluent and nobody else?
WARREN: Yes. It`s two justice systems. Look at the words carved above the United States Supreme Court. Equal justice under law. But look at the reality. People who got buckets of money and a well-connected get treated with kid gloves.
MELBER: So do you think --
WARREN: Everybody else doesn`t.
MELBER: Do you think when you look at that statistically, that a similar defendant who might have been born black would have gotten a different sentence.
WARREN: Oh, we know the data on this. Of course, the sentence would have been different. In fact, study after study after study shows that for the exact same crime, African-Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested, to be prosecuted, to be wrongfully convicted, and to receive harsher sentences. Race matters in our criminal justice system and it is not a system of equal justice under law.
MELBER: On the bullet probe, I read a pledge you recently made. You said -- this is interesting. You would issue "no pardons for anyone implicated in the investigations into Donald Trump." How can you know that before the investigations are over? Would that include someone like Andy McCabe, the former acting FBI director who was under investigation right now and in the D.C. office?
WARREN: Because I know what pardons are for. Pardons are there for the powerless to show a little justice that they need. Pardons are not there as part of a plea agreement. That`s somewhere else in the system. We reserve pardons for those people who didn`t receive justice under the law. And I`m not there to say pardons are going to be part of a political horse trade of my administration.
MELBER: Does that mean you would commit to saying you`re never going to pardon anyone that worked directly for you?
WARREN: I assume so. I mean I don`t know if any case why I would do that. This is about the powerless. That`s what pardons are supposed to be about. Not about people who have connections, not about people who -- not about people who have a way to be protected, who can hire the lawyers, who get to work their way through the system, who get the best representation. Pardons are about one last way that we try to put a little justice back into a system that today is very unjust.
MELBER: If Bob Mueller finishes this probe with no further indictments, so they don`t indict anyone in America for helping the Russians collude, what do you think then is the conclusion and two people who were hoping this would all bust Donald Trump have to accept those lawful findings even if they don`t go far as far as somewhat?
WARREN: I don`t know what his reports are going to say and we just have to wait and see. But I`ll tell you this about this report that it has already produced nearly three dozen indictments or guilty pleas. This is a serious investigation. In addition to that, we`ve got investigations that are going on in other jurisdictions and the House has just started its own series of investigations.
You know, the sound of hoof beats of all those investigations catching up with Donald Trump must be loud in his ears.
MELBER: I want to ask you about some politics and some of the fun stuff, what makes you tick.
MELBER: On the politics, the Democratic Party`s announced you guys aren`t going to do any debates with Fox News. Is that the right call?
WARREN: You know, this is ultimately a decision for the -- for the party to make, but I do understand that when more and more keeps coming out about how Fox News was just operating as an arm of the Trump campaign and then the Trump administration, boy that doesn`t much look like we really have a free and independent press. It just looks like a propaganda machine.
MELBER: So you agree with the chairman.
WARREN: So I understand -- I understand why it is that the Democratic Party would say we`re just not going to be a part of that. And I -- you know, look, I want to be able to get out and talk to everyone. I mean, I`ll just tell you that as a candidate. I want to be and everybody`s living room. I want a chance to reach out to everyone.
MELBER: And that makes sense. I guess the thing we heard from a lot of activists was while you may go talk to whoever you choose to, why should as you put it, an entity that was perceived as being an arm of the Trump administration help pick who runs against Trump?
WARREN: And I think that`s part of why the Democratic Party as a party since we got a real problem here.
MELBER: Mike Bloomberg, do you want his endorsement?
WARREN: What -- I`m glad to have everybody`s endorsement but I`m not out looking for any of them.
MELBER: You`re not going to ask -- you`re not asking Mr. Bloomberg?
WARREN: Not asking.
MELBER: OK. Bernie Sanders has more individual donors right now than any other Dem candidate by a long ways. Is that because he`s really popular with the grassroots or is it because he`s good at raising money?
WARREN: I assume it`s because he`s popular with the grassroots. Bernie has been out there fighting his fight and you know that`s got a lot of people energized.
MELBER: Is he the front-runner?
WARREN: I -- you need a pundit for this, but it sure looks like it. I mean --
MELBER: It does look like it.
WARREN: Punditry is not my business but --
MELBER: Not your thing. Let me ask you something I was wondering because you spent most of your life in other types of yeah service. How old were you when you first thought I think I might run for office?
WARREN: Oh golly. Well, let`s see. I could just do the math but I was in my 60s. I never was going to do this.
MELBER: When you were teaching, this was not the next step?
WARREN: Not even close.
MELBER: I`m going to run through a couple of quick ones. They`re fun or at least maybe nerdy fun.
MELBER: And we could do them as fast as possible. We call it a lightning round sometimes.
MELBER: Past or present, favorite member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
WARREN: Oh Janet Yellen.
MELBER: Janet Yellen?
WARREN: Oh she`s -- she is fabulous.
MELBER: International Women`s Day, a woman past or present who inspires you.
WARREN: Oh let me think, Bella Abzug. You know, a woman who just got out there and fought for what she believed in. I love it.
MELBER: I`ve got a couple one-word associations. If you could do it in a word. Some of them relate to your bill.
WARREN: Can I have two words?
WARREN: Too big.
WARREN: Too big.
WARREN: Too big.
MELBER: Mark Zuckerberg.
WARREN: Too powerful. And that`s really the point of the two bigs it`s they`ve got too much power and they get to use that power now to dominate markets, to chew up competitors, and ultimately to change the consumer experience. We got to change that.
MELBER: Favorite song to work out to.
WARREN: Anything from Patsy Cline.
MELBER: Patsy Cline. Favorite --
WARREN: I love Patsy Cline.
MELBER: Favorite album or artist when you were growing up.
WARREN: Any of the Beatles.
WARREN: Probably the White Album.
MELBER: Now I got to know your favorite Beatle.
WARREN: Oh no, that`s not fair. That`s like asking your favorite child.
MELBER: I would guess and what do I know. I don`t know you that well. I would guess Lennon. George Harrison? Boom.
MELBER: Your dream running mate throughout history living or dead. You could pick a person that would run with you.
WARREN: Teddy Roosevelt.
MELBER: A Republican?
MELBER: Because he took on the trusts?
WARREN: Because he was brave, and he took on the trust and he didn`t care how many people were going to be mad about it, and he did it. This is what`s amazing for the right reasons. It wasn`t just that they were big. It wasn`t just that they were dominating an economy. It wasn`t just that they were putting farmers out of business and competitors out of business and small companies out of business, it was that they had too much political power.
And it was the very fact of that political power that caused Teddy Roosevelt to say I`m going to be a trust buster. Man, I`d like to have that guy at my side.
MELBER: There is a beloved actress who`s been talking about you, Annette Bening.
MELBER: Let`s take a look. I think we have this for you. Annette Bening says she knows she looks like Elizabeth Warren. Thank you very much. Now, did she look like you or do you look like her?
WARREN: Either way. I`m totally happy with this comparison.
MELBER: You like this.
WARREN: Yes, I do.
MELBER: Would you be comfortable if and when and then there`s a Warren movie, would you be comfortable with her playing you.
WARREN: I`m all in.
MELBER: You`re ready for that.
WARREN: I`m ready.
MELBER: Have you guys ever met?
WARREN: Yes, actually.
WARREN: Once. I think she actually does -- we kind of look like each other.
MELBER: Did you talk about it at the time?
WARREN: Yes. Just a little bit.
MELBER: How could you not?
WARREN: Yes, how could we not.
MELBER: We have to ask before we let you go how Bailey is doing. This dog is beloved on your campaign.
WARREN: This dog is the best. Between the Bailey cam and the opportunity to meet people and voters and people been bringing him little treats. So Bailey is filling out now for a ten-month-old dog.
MELBER: And he has his own greeting line as well as you.
WARREN: Oh man, he does a photo line like you wouldn`t believe. And I want to be really clear about this, Ari, it is not a competition.
WARREN: I say this because I definitely do not want to be in competition with a ten-month-old golden retriever.
MELBER: I`ve seen him. I`m a dog person myself. I`m sure he could get a lot of individual donors as well if he goes in that direction.
WARREN: That`s right.
MELBER: Senator Warren, coming here on the day of your big tech announcement, we really appreciate it. I hope you`ll come back on THE BEAT.
MELBER: Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you.
MELBER: Senate Elizabeth Warren. And we will be right back.
MELBER: Senator Elizabeth Warren on THE BEAT making some news right here. A new pledge, a revelation on who she says the front-runner is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The rather light sentence that Paul Manafort got, a similar defendant who might have been born black would have gotten a different sentence.
WARREN: Of course the sentence would have been different.
MELBER: Corporate welfare, was New York wrong to give him up that much of an offer.
WARREN: No, the problem is the Hunger Games.
MELBER: In a Warren administration, would there be a former Goldman Sachs executive running in the Treasury Department?
MELBER: Is that a pledge?
MELBER: Are you basically writing off a bunch of Wall Street money and then today you`re writing off a bunch of Silicon Valley money?
MELBER: Bernie Sanders has more individual donors right now. Is he the front-runner?
WARREN: I -- you need a pundit for this, but it sure looks like it.
WARREN: Too big.
WARREN: Too big.
MELBER: Mark Zuckerberg.
WARREN: Too powerful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Too powerful. Just some highlights of our discussion. Now next we go -- it`s Friday, we go to "FALLBACK FRIDAY" with the actor John Turturro and our own Nick Akerman, that`s next.
MELBER: It`s time for a special edition of "FALLBACK." I`m joined by Emmy award-winning actor John Turturro, currently starring in the film Gloria Bell along with Julianne Moore. Other notable films include Quiz Show, Michael Bay`s Transformers franchise, and of course the collaborations with the Coen brothers including the unforgettable role as Jesus Quintana in The Big Lebowski, one of our favorites.
Turturro also played a scrappy lawyer in the HBO hit The Night Of which is something he has in common with our other guest Nick Akerman, also plays a lawyer on television and was a federal prosecutor in the Southern District and of course a Watergate special prosecutor. Thanks to both of you for being here.
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Great to be here.
MELBER: Nick, who needs to fall back?
AKERMAN: Who is to fall back is Roger Stone. I mean, him -- his Instagram account is absolutely his problem here. He`s got me on his Instagram page and he calls me a cranky old man. Now, first of all, I`m not cranky. You know that. And old -- well yes, but Roger Stone isn`t that much you know, we younger than me. And I`m also senile which he also claims.
MELBER: You get the feeling that Roger may have wanted to be an actor in another life?
JOHN TURTURRO, ACTOR: Well, a lot of these guys are actors. They`re more of an actor than I am actually.
TURTURRO: Yes. I think there are many people in the political arena, I could never do what they do. Because I try to really believe what I`m doing and research what I`m doing so I understand something about the topic that I`m portraying.
MELBER: Yes. And John, who do you think -- what do you think needs to fall back?
TURTURRO: I think the oversimplification of any you know, news topic is something that really sort of bothers me, just the oversimplification. How they make everything into black and white. The void of in historical context. And so the loss of nuance I think is a major problem and that`s why these things like Instagram and you know, when you`re tweeting and everything, it`s the void of nuance.
MELBER: Do you think it`s something that is accelerated by the internet or is it in our nature as human beings to oversimplify?
TURTURRO: I think it`s been accelerated, absolutely.
MELBER: We heard you might do this and I have some examples to throw up here for you.
TURTURRO: Oh really?
MELBER: To see -- yes, because we heard you were -- this was on your mind.
TURTURRO: Oh God.
MELBER: Here`s one a headline that said, scientists, reveal three keys to happiness.
MELBER: Oversimplified or not?
MELBER: Are illegal immigrants, this headline says, the ones ruining America. Oversimplified?
TURTURRO: Oversimplified, yes. Yes. I mean, you know, these are complex topics and with complex solutions, you know, that once you demonize a whole group of people -- I mean, everyone was an immigrant and they`re talking about illegal immigrants, but that`s a complex topic.
MELBER: I got something that you guys have in common. You`ve done so many great performances, one of them that speaks to the Nick Akerman`s of the world was your portrayal of a very hardscrabble defense attorney in The Night Of on HBO. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TURTURRO: To the presumption of his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. We hear that term a lot, but what does it really mean? What`s its definition? It doesn`t have one. It`s what we think. And as much as what we think what we feel, and what we feel.
MELBER: Nick, how did he do?
AKERMAN: I thought he did pretty well. I mean, it was good. I mean, I -- the next trial I have you`re going to do my summation. I thought that was great. Now, I`m surprised the judge didn`t intervene because what`d you say there`s no definition of beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge gives a very specific charge on that. So this is like kind of a typical television or movie type portrayal.
MELBER: Oh my God. John --
TURTURRO: You have to take the liberty, you know.
MELBER: Leave it to Nick Akerman.
TURTURRO: I disagree with him.
MELBER: Yes, go ahead. Why?
TURTURRO: No, he`s right. He knows what he`s talking about.
MELBER: Nick Akerman to say, there would be an objection.
AKERMAN: Of course.
MELBER: Yes, of course, there would, but what did you think of the feeling and the --
AKERMAN: No, but he was looking at the jury. He was being honest, he was coming -- he was basically connecting with people. And I think that`s what make a summation and a great trial.
MELBER: You felt so raw and real in that role. How did you get to that place?
TURTURRO: I spent a lot of time with a lot of lawyers who were very helpful to me. Every life is valuable so I don`t know how I would feel if I had someone`s life in my hands, you know. So that was the idea.
MELBER: There`s something very like gentle about you.
TURTURRO: Me? Well, I think gentleness is underrated. I think Abraham Lincoln said there`s nothing stronger than gentleness and I think that`s something in our society that there`s a great lack of. And -- because usually the wisest people, you know, it comes from a quiet place, not a loud place.
People who can hold your attention and take space and dominate the scene will be elected, but they may be the worst leaders and it`s -- you know, history has proved that many times over, may I add. But you know, I guess if it wasn`t for my business, probably, and a writer`s strike in the `90s, maybe reality television would have never happened.
And because of reality television, someone was able to hone a persona and bring him all the way up into the most powerful position in the country. And that is an essential thing because you learn like basic craft elements of how to keep someone`s attention. And people were convinced this was the character and it`s actually a fabrication of who the person actually was. And so you`ve seen this over and over you know, again.
MELBER: I think it`s a great reminder and a toast to gentility.
MELBER: John Turturro --
TURTURRO: Thank you.
MELBER: Nick Akerman, thanks to both of you. And we will be right back. John`s film, I should mention, Gloria Bell in theaters now.
MELBER: What a week. We are out of time. I`ll be back next week, Monday, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We`re going to cover those hearings for Paul Manafort and Roger Stone and a whole lot more. I`ll see you then. Have a great weekend.
HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END