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Rep. Al Green pushes impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 03/12/2019, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: Jim Walden, William Wachtel, Al Green, Chuck D

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: March 12, 2019 Guest: Jim Walden, William Wachtel, Al Green, Chuck D

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Associated with blowing out candles on a birthday cake. And I quote, "Blowing out the candles over the icing surface resulted in 1,400 percent more bacteria compared to icing not blown on." You can`t argue with science, people. So thank you, Senator Romney for standing up to the critics because when it comes to preventing cake-borne pathogens, you truly have shown us the light. And happy birthday.

That`s all we have for tonight.

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

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I had a different take, Chuck.

TODD: Yes.

MELBER: Isn`t everyone, in their own way, a little bit weird and sooner or later, if you expose your authentic self, your weirdness will come out? And people you think you`ve met -- only hard time for not sharing enough, this is just part of who he is.

TODD: Once again, Ari, you and I prove this, every single day, to everybody that loves us.

MELBER: Or just thinks we`re weird. I mean --

TODD: Yes, exactly.

MELBER: So yes, maybe being on camera or exposed gives you more sympathy. But I mean it does look a little germophobic but it is just like who he is inside.

TODD: You have to be who you are. I`m with you there. I`m with the Ho-Ho guy. Mine would have been Ho Hos by the way, in case you want to hear, not Twinkies.

MELBER: Twinkies are good and they never go bad is the thing.

TODD: They`re the right height. They are the right height.

MELBER: Well, I`m glad we had a chance to discuss this.

TODD: Yes, I do.

MELBER: Important news. Chuck Todd, as always, good to see you.

Tonight, we have a big slow. The congressman who`s actually leading the charge to still impeach Donald Trump regardless of what other Democrats want to do joins me on THE BEAT, pushing back against how some at least have interpreted what Speaker Pelosi was saying in raising the bar for what it would take to impeach.

Also, the Al Capone theory gaining ground. Investigations might get Trump on a tax violation all relating back to his hush money payments.

But we begin tonight though with a new investigation swirling around Trump`s bird again by leads from Michael Cohen`s House testimony. NBC News reporting that New York State`s attorney general issued subpoenas just last night to Deutsche Bank, an investor`s bank. This is part of the probe into Trump Organization projects, their funding and Trump`s effort to try to buy the NFL`s Buffalo Bills back in 2014.

The subpoena asking Deutsche Bank for its records on loan applications, mortgages, lines of credit, and other transactions, all of this coming out of what Cohen has said under oath, that Trump lied about his assets to none other than Deutsche Bank.


REP. LACY CLAY (D), MISSOURI: Did the president ever provide inflated assets to a bank in order to help him obtain a loan?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: These documents and others were provided to Deutsche Bank on one occasion where I was with him in our attempt to obtain money so that we can put a bid on the Buffalo Bills.


MELBER: The Bills. Meanwhile, as that probe goes on, they House Russia investigators are arguing that there may be enough evidence to indict Trump. Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff says if New York federal prosecutors can charge Cohen for making those hush payments which were at Trump`s direction, well, why not charge the president too?


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It`s very difficult to make the argument that the person who was directed and was coordinated should go to jail but the person who did the directing and did the coordinating should not. I think that militates very strongly in favor of indicting the president when he`s out of office. If the Southern District of New York has the evidence to prove the case against Individual- 1 that Michael Cohen identified as the president, it certainly appears there`s no shortage of evidence.


MELBER: I`m joined tonight by former Federal Prosecutor Jim Walden who`s represented a witness in the Mueller probe and dealt with that team. Maya Wiley, former counsel to the Mayor of New York City and civil prosecutor in the very hot Southern District of New York which she had the experience there and they have pursued the Cohen case among others. And Politics Editor for "Theroot", Jason Johnson.

Jim, what does it mean for investigators to grab this bank stuff? And I think a lot of people might wonder what were they waiting for.

JIM WALDEN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s really a cook the books investigation, right, that you`ve got assets that the Trump Organization owns and those assets should have values that are the same if you`re putting them on your taxes or you`re putting them on an insurance policy or you`re borrowing against them.

And what Cohen`s testimony is, assuming that he`s being truthful, is that they had two sets of valuations. They would give a lower set to the tax authorities so that they pay lower taxes and then they would pump up the values in filings with the banks or the insurance company.

MELBER: I think what you`re referring to is lying and stealing.

WALDEN: That would be another way to put it.

MELBER: Right? If you under pay your taxes, you`re stealing from other taxpayers. So Paul Manafort didn`t just defraud the United States. He defrauded a lot of the rest of us who are paying taxes honestly. And then that`s the stealing. The lying is, as you describe, to all these other regulators.

Do you think though, at a certain level, some of the New York folks should have been on this earlier? I mean you have to understand that people will look at this say, well, the Trump Org has been widely known to be shady for a long time, what were you waiting for? And if you`re only doing it because he`s president now, is that itself suspicious?

WALDEN: So I think that there`s certainly going to be people that cry political foul over this but what didn`t the prosecutors have before they issued the subpoena? They didn`t have Michael Cohen`s public testimony. I mean that was an airing of information that no one had yet. So I don`t really think that it raises red flags that prosecutors are now --

MELBER: You`re saying it`s actually flipped that when you have an insider basically spilling the goods, you have much more support to do it willy- nilly out of suspicion or without that might actually be the more political version.

WALDEN: I agree with you wholeheartedly. So if they had issued these subpoenas without any real basis, in fact, they`d be accused of overreaching.

MELBER: Maya, take a listen to Adam Schiff talking about some of the reasons that Donald Trump wants to run for re-election. This might not seem like something for a legal analyst and yet according to Schiff, it is. Take a look.


SCHIFF: I`m sure that it has occurred to the president that there is a prospect that he may be indicted when he leaves office and the longer he stays in office. And if he`s able to avoid the statute of limitations by remaining in office that that is a consideration that has not escaped him.


MELBER: Is that a fair point or are the Democrats sort of girding for the idea that Mueller may not have the goods based on the rumors we`re hearing and the way they`re raising the bar in impeachment? And now they`re just saying things like that to kind of take a shot at him?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER CIVIL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, the way I hear that is, first of all, it literally could be true. So if you have a policy where the Department of Justice says we will not indict a sitting president, if you have the House majority leader saying we won`t institute a process of impeachment unless we know we essentially can get the conviction out of the Senate, that he is essentially saying if these things are all true, then the net result would be he could simply game the system. He could literally run for re-election and avoid, potentially, prosecution if he`s in office long enough.

And so the way I hear that is an actual public discussion we need to have about how we go about in such historic times. I mean we really have not had a president under this level of scrutiny for this number of potential crimes which he has not been proven guilty of but that`s the point, right.

How does the public have an accounting? An election is one way if the public re-elects him and his intention was to avoid prosecution, what does that mean for the country? And I think that`s actually an important conversation for a politician to raise because it`s a national one.

MELBER: Jason, important but also kind of profoundly dispiriting.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Well, yes, because especially if the president is running for re-election, Ari, and does so, and successfully gets re-elected with the assistance of the very people he`s been investigated as to whether or not he`s working with. See, that`s the real question.

The idea of Trump running again with the possibility that he has conspired with foreign entities or even domestic entities in order to ensure or put the thumb on the scale of his chances to be re-elected is one of the things that brings his whole running for re-election into question.

But I`ll also say this and this is really key. And I don`t think this can be understated. Donald Trump probably does get re-elected because most incumbent presidents do. And so I think a lot of the Democrats are wisely saying, look, there`s a good chance this guy could stay in office so we can sit back --

MELBER: And you`re saying that -- people listening to this, you`re not saying what you`re rooting for, you`re saying --

JOHNSON: Oh, no.

MELBER: -- Jason Johnson, here we are, it`s early. A lot could change. What you`re saying, the historical trends, the nature of incumbency in the economy, Trump or not, you`re saying you see him as on a path to --

JOHNSON: Re-election, yes. The vast majority of sitting incumbent presidents get re-elected. Look, Donald Trump has some weak fundamentals but I think the Democrats would be foolish to be banking either on impeachment or Mueller or anything else and assume, well, he`s going to be out of office next year so let`s hold our powder.

No, this guy is likely to be re-elected to be president in 2020 unless something miraculous happens. And Democrats needs to be prepared for constantly investigating him and holding him accountable because to think that the American people would be a very foolish gamble.

WILEY: Well, look, I`m going to disagree with that in the sense that we don`t know what`s going to happen. But this is unprecedented times. We simply -- if he`s up for re-election, we`ve just never seen the American people presented with this set of questions and we don`t know what will be public by then because the House does have oversight authority and will be conducting that.

And there`s one thing we should not forget. Roger Stone is going to trial. And what that means is that`s public. So I mean I`m not disagreeing with the fact that we don`t know what`s going to happen but the Democrats should not be engaging in oversight in order to do anything other than try to bring forward the facts so that the American public can evaluate them.

MELBER: Right. I think that`s important.

WILEY: That`s the bottom line.

MELBER: And that`s the difference of a congressional oversight investigation to the narrower approach of a criminal probe during, as you say, really remarkably historic times. When you look at the financial piece, one of the reasons you talk to witnesses is because they were there. So they literally know more than most other people.

Doesn`t mean they are always truthful. Doesn`t mean you always agree with them. Doesn`t always mean they`re great people but you`ve got to talk to witnesses. I remember I interviewed a witness in the Mueller probe who worked in a higher level at the White House, a guy named Steve Bannon.

A lot of people don`t like Steve Bannon. But Steve Bannon is a key witness. And so I interviewed him really for the same reason Mueller did. And I want to revisit something he said that is pretty interesting with new subpoenas against Deutsche Bank.

He said this back in the day. It`s all about money laundering. Their path to effing Trump, that`s how he talks, goes right through Manafort, Don Junior and Kushner. It`s as plain as the hair on your face. It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner expletive. Was he onto something?

WALDEN: I think based on what we know and again, we don`t know a lot, but there`s a lot of -- there`s a whiff of corruption around all of this. And so the old prosecutor adage is follow the money. And that`s exactly what they`re going to do in this case.

MELBER: Well, and I think it`s more than a whiff. It is very specifically Michael Cohen, as the fixer and the lawyer, name-checking Deutsche Bank on the Buffalo Bills. I mean it`s quite specific. And then it`s Steve Bannon who is a Trump ally saying they can get him on money laundering. He is worried about it because he thinks they can do it, not that it would be an overshot.

And that you add to that, Maya, the fact that Deutsche Bank happens to be a bank that`s already been found by regulators to do Russian money laundering.

WILEY: Yes. And with the Trumps being very explicit years ago about the fact that Russians are their primary source of financing. So when you start to pair all of this together, this is one of the reasons why so many people want to see as much of the evidence as possible in the American public.

So putting aside which mechanism, whether it`s House Oversight, whether it`s the Roger Stone trial, I think what is critically important here is that there is public accounting. Michael Cohen has made it clear that from his vantage point within the Trump Organization, this was business as usual.

MELBER: Before I let you go, Jason, I want to show something that Ted Lieu paid in response to some news we broke on the show last night which was in this "Fox News" case about covering Stormy Daniels, the lawyer for a former "Fox News" employee told us, look, if Congress subpoenas our client, that would override the hush NDA agreement she has with "Fox News".

Now, Congressman Lieu basically posted. Sometimes the shorter the tweet, the more clear. He said, "Oh, do you think this is an avenue that it makes sense for Congressional Democrats to look at or notwithstanding our interest in the story is getting out into subpoenaing "Fox News" employees a little farther than where they need to focus."

JOHNSON: Well, look, remember, it would make perfect sense to possibly subpoena somebody like Sean Hannity. I mean he had a business relationship with Michael Cohen. There`s lots of different people that "Fox News" who might make sense for congressional oversight to be in conversation with.

And I think in the case of Stormy Daniels, look, we can`t pretend -- we can`t sort of clutch our pearls at this point and say well, this might be true, this might be unnecessary. The president seems to be engaging in a criminal empire that expands from the Southern District of New York possibly to Stalingrad.

So there should be no area that members of Congress are afraid of looking into, whether that`s an adult film star or whether that`s somebody who works at "Fox News" or whether that`s somebody who`s in this administration, his own children. Everybody is fair game at this point if we want the truth.

MELBER: And I appreciate your view of that as a journalist. It is, of course, you mentioned, criminal enterprise. You used that language. It is alleged and this is a president who has never been indicted on anything unlike some of his aides. So I want to be clear about that, factually.

Jason Johnson and Jim Walden, thanks to both you. Maya, stay with me. I want to get you on another story, how a tax scheme that is now public could actually lead the feds to Donald Trump. A first time guest on THE BEAT joins me next.

Also, my special report tonight on Senator McConnell`s refusal to do a very simple thing that could actually increase public safety in America. Why it matters and it`s news tonight. I`m going to get into that later.

We go live with a Democratic lawmaker who`s bucking Speaker Pelosi and saying yes, we have to get into the I word now.


REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: I do not believe that an unfit president should be allowed to stay in office.


MELBER: And then later, I`m joined by the one and only Chuck D, a former colleague of Rachel Maddow in Air America. We`re going to talk all sorts of things, Trump, politics, Spike Lee. That`s later in the hour.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: We`ve all heard about following the money. What about following the taxes? We have Donald Trump signed checks, revealed by Michael Cohen, for hush money payments that he confessed were crimes. We have the House Oversight chairman saying they need testimony now from Trump attorneys about some of those payments.

And then New York prosecutors saying the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the payments as "legal expenses". Cohen famously arranged the payment from Donald Trump to Stormy Daniels for $130,000. Trump`s company reimbursing him with a series of payments.

Now, that may not be a crime on its own but could be evidence in a wider case against President Trump. In fact, last night on THE BEAT, a former Senate Watergate lawyer was making the case.


DAVID DORSEN, FORMER ASSISTANT CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE WATERGATE COMMITTEE: The Southern District of New York may be sitting there with Trump`s income tax returns. And what`s going -- when Trump paid Cohen to reimburse him for the payments in Stormy Daniels, he listed that as a retainer and presumably deducted those payments.

MELBER: But is this like -- are you basically imagining an Al Capone situation where after everything that`s happened, he gets in trouble for tax deductions?

DORSEN: Perhaps.


MELBER: Perhaps or as they say court, per snaps. Al Capone was jailed for tax fraud. We know Donald Trump knows all about Al Capone. In fact, that`s who he compared Paul Manafort to.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With Paul Manafort, who really is a nice man, you look at what`s going on with him. It`s like Al Capone.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: 2005 tax case.

TRUMP: Or the case -- I guess it`s very -- it`s just a sad thing. It`s a very sad thing for our country to see this.


MELBER: It`s like Al Capone. It`s like my campaign manager is like a convicted gangster. This is the defense. And you can know that type of sympathy from the president quickly became a punch line.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, LATE NIGHT WITH STEPHEN COLBERT: Trump does have sympathy for Manafort because he also tweeted, "Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, a legendary mob boss, killer, and public enemy number one or Paul Manafort?"

Wow. Well, Trump really knows how to make you seem sympathetic. Compare you to America`s sweetheart, Al Capone.


MELBER: I`m joined now by William Wachtel, a New York attorney who heads litigation at the Wachtel Missry, public sector experience as a former aide to Senator Pat Leahy. He`s also co-founder of the Civil Rights Group, the Drum Major Institute. Maya Wiley, MSNBC analyst, and former SDNY prosecutor, also back with us.

You have been hot on this as a theory of prosecution. Explain.

WILLIAM WACHTEL, CO-FOUNDER, DRUM MAJOR INSTITUTE: Sure. And I`m only hot because it`s simple. As opposed to following the money and following the documents, tax cases are simple. That`s why Al Capone got 11 years in 1931 because they couldn`t get him on anything else so they went after the simple fact that tax returns are required.

In this case, let`s go through the three different pieces. Number one, the payments that Manafort aggregated $420,000.

MELBER: Cohen.

WACHTEL: Oh, sorry. The payments to Michael Cohen aggregated $420,000 and required the filing of a 1099. That`s simple. It is required. It`s absolute. And the failure to file 1099 brings with it a sentence of one year, a crime. It is a misdemeanor.

Now, we don`t know whether he filed 1099 or not but it`s very easy for others, including the prosecution of Southern District to determine it. They just look at the tax return.

MELBER: So when you say Southern District, that`s something that may not have meant much to people five years ago but means a lot now. People are thinking of the aggressive prosecutors who threw the book at Cohen or going at the "National Enquirer" who really don`t take kindly to people fussing around. And you`re saying they would be the ones that would look at whether this is a tax case?

WACHTEL: The overwhelming like it is that they would look at it because the tax activity occurred when Donald Trump was filing returns in New York. But let`s go to the second piece. So the first is a failure to file a 1099 but he may have filed one.

In fact, if he filed one, it would be further evidence that he regarded this as a business expense, an ordinary and necessary business expense and would have shown up on his tax return. Now, it wasn`t an ordinary and necessary business expense, it was a payment of hush money. So the return, if it reflected $420,000 of the payments would be a false return.

MELBER: It`s interesting to hear you speak with such clarity. And I know you, like Maya, to be a talented lawyer so it doesn`t surprise me.

What you`re speaking to is the binary. So much of this has been was Cohen telling the truth and what happened here and was Manafort related to collusion. You`re talking about either they did it the right way that`s in there or they didn`t.

Now, Alan Dershowitz, also a talented lawyer, controversial but smart. He`s been invoking Al Capone to defend these folks. And I wonder what it means that someone like you saying this could hurt Trump but someone like him is also saying it could help Trump. I find that an intriguing potential paradox. Take a listen.


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Look, the biggest crime you can commit in America today is to have been associated with Donald Trump. If you`re associated with Donald Trump, they`re going to Manafort you, they`re going to Cohen you. They`re going to do all of these things to you. They usually do it with the mafia. It`s the Al Capone approach. If we can`t get him on the grounds that we`d really like to get him on, let`s go after him on taxes, let`s go after him on business.


WACHTEL: Sure. So let me give you the third piece of the puzzle because I gave you the failure to file, I gave you false return. False return is a three-year felony. We call it a baby felony.

But the big felony is the tax evasion. So if the $420,000 was, in fact, treated as a business expense and as a result, reduced the amount of taxable income to Donald Trump, that becomes a two tax evasion. That`s a five-year count.

And the simple fact is, Ari, if you gave me the tax returns for the relevant period, it would probably take me about 15 minutes to tell you, for sure, that a crime has been committed.

MELBER: But you`re kind of intense because other people would take 20, 25 minutes.

WACHTEL: You know, maybe.


WILEY: So it could also be -- depending on what the evidence might show, you could also find a conspiracy to defraud the United States as an additional set count given how and what evidence there is of agreement on how to avoid those taxes.

So there are additional liabilities that could be there. But, you know, the thing that people should also remember is when federal prosecutors -- and I was on the civil side, not the criminal. But one of the things that federal prosecutors typically do is use the tax returns to try to understand whether there have been bank frauds, to understand whether there`s been insurance fraud, to understand whether or not there are other criminal violations like money laundering.

So to go back to your earlier point about Steve Bannon and your interview with him, Ari, there are a lot of things that prosecutors may uncover as a result of looking at the tax returns.

MELBER: Right. So it really becomes that clue and wasn`t it Sean Carter who said, "My accountant`s so good, I`m practically living tax-free."

WACHTEL: Indeed.

MELBER: But you don`t want to be so tax-free that you`re Al Capone.

WACHTEL: Correct.

MELBER: I`m glad we had this talk.

WACHTEL: Well, good luck.

MELBER: What do you think? He`s pretty good.

WILEY: He`s good.

WACHTEL: We`re off?

MELBER: It`s over. The show is not over.

WACHTEL: Feels like a colonoscopy. You wake up and it`s over.

MELBER: Well, people on this very set have likened the Mueller interviews to a colonoscopy. I hope it wasn`t that probing. Bill Wachtel, Maya Wiley.

When I come back in 30 seconds, I have a Democratic congressman coming up breaking with Nancy Pelosi over impeachment. That`s in the show.

But first, as promised, my special report on hypocrisy to Mitch McConnell that relates to your safety. That`s next.


MELBER: There are all kinds of Trump scandals that consume Washington. But one of the most impactful coming out of D.C. right now is a potential breakthrough on gun safety. The House recently passing two bills strengthening background checks, closing the loophole relating to that infamous mass murder at a Black church in Charleston.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s something all members of Congress should have the courage to change.

REP. LUCY MCBATH (D), GEORGIA: In the days after the Emanuel shooting, I was there in the community dealing with their pain and loss and America deserves better than this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this vote, the yays are 228 and the nays are 198. The bill is passed.


MELBER: Those 228 votes would close this loophole that many say paved the way for convicted felon Dylann Roof to buy a gun that he used for that mass murder which scarred America.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gunman opens fire in a church killing nine people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Among the victims was the Church`s pastor.

SYLVIA JOHNSON, COUSIN OF PASTOR CLEMENTA PINCKNEY: He re-loaded five different times. He just said I have to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city is in mourning. The state is in mourning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one in this community will ever forget this night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still in a state of shock, trying to seek and find understanding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The heart and soul of South Carolina was broken.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace.


MELBER: And soon, the ritual processing of another shooting turned to the gathering of the stark facts at that time, about how easy it can be to pull one off. And Americans soon learned how Dylann Roof, a convicted felon, got his gun in the first place.

The answer is as illogical as it is maddening. Roof`s background check would have barred that gun store from selling him one. But under a very lax loophole, when the FBI results do not come back within three business days on the background checks, felons who could not buy guns under the law are automatically cleared to buy a gun.

In other words, even though Congress already agreed on barring felons from buying those guns, they can still buy them if there`s a delay in their background check. Now, that`s what Roof did when his background check didn`t arrive in time, a gun he used to murder nine innocent people at the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina.

Now, members of Congress then offered their ritual grief in compassion. But they were speaking in dual roles, which is what I want to talk to you about tonight. They were speaking as representatives who sure grieve with their community but also as lawmakers, I mean people who make laws. The laws that allow the convicted felon like Dylann Roof to buy a gun that Congress already said on record, no debate, he should never legally get to buy.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, at the time, said he was praying for the victims.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For what did you pray, may I ask?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: For comfort and healing and understanding and to those who have suffered in a way that most of us can never imagine. I don`t know how they get through this but if we all love them, they will.


MELBER: And that love is certainly welcome. But public safety is never limited to just expressions of love or thoughts or prayers. We know that. So what do some of these senators say when it comes to implementing the law that they did pass that`s supposed to bar felons from buying these very guns?

Well, let me show you. There was an opportunity to close that very loophole. GOP leaders blocked a floor vote on that issue. So I want us all as we learn from what`s happened to keep that contrast in mind. As you recall, these senators denouncing the murderer. While knowing, they then went on to block the very vote that would have prevented that murderer, that felon from getting his hands on an instrument of murder.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The hateful and racist actions of one deranged man have changed nine families forever.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Our hearts go out to the families who`ve been affected by this awful tragedy.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We should pray for the families who lost loved ones.


MELBER: Public safety laws are to prevent that deranged man from getting his hands on a gun and it was within two years of those prayers that these same senators blocked a vote on the bill to close this Charleston loophole. So when you go back to when there was a floor vote on another background check bill, this was back in 2013, take a look at those same senators you just saw voting it down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Scott, no. Mr. Graham, no. Mr. McConnell, no. Senators voting in the negative, Cruz --


MELBER: Most gun owners actually support these checks but the NRA opposes them and these senators A-ratings depend on picking the gun lobby over its members. The fact is those are the votes that make it easier for felons to get guns which have led to the shootings we`ve seen in churches and movie theaters or Navy yard`s. Many of which would be less likely with stricter background checks which is all part of this larger trend we`re living through where gun violence is killing more people per capita in the United States than any place on earth, more than 36,000 of us a year.

So is this the same old story? Is anything different tonight? Yes. In this new Congress, there`s a majority in the House to tighten up these gun background checks. And the last time there was a vote, we can tell you there was a majority in the Senate to do the same thing. If that sounds surprising, if you`re used to hearing the opposite, if you hear these cynical pronouncements to say gun reform, it`s impossible or it`s not supported in this Congress.

Well, stop and think about it. Maybe that`s what the NRA wants people to think or maybe that`s because some of the narrators have normalized D.C. obstruction. Look at this. When a majority of senators voted to pass these tougher background checks, some of the headlines said the Senate rejected background checks.

But actually, the news was that a majority in the Senate succeeded in a coalition to pass faster background checks with 54 votes that Republicans filibustered. So that`s not a story about gun reform failing to get a majority. It`s a story about a majority blocked by Senate rules and a leader who deploys them with an iron grip who recently explained why bills with lots of support still don`t get floor votes.


MCCONNELL: Because I get to decide what we vote on.


MELBER: He gets to decide. And tonight we asked Senator McConnell`s office whether he will decide to hold a vote on that bill that I`ve been reporting on that the House sent over on the background checks. And tonight his office says they don`t have any announcements beyond this week`s schedule. No vote yet.

But McConnell is facing a Congress that is increasingly united against him on these background checks, and a caucus of senators who however genuinely they may feel compassion for victims of the shootings are voting down the most basic bills to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons who carry out these shootings.

Now, in D.C. this is not considered one of the top stories right now. But given the House vote and given the rate of mass murder and the preventable part that could be played if we had these background checks enforced, maybe this should be one of the top stories in Washington right now.


GRAHAM: I don`t know how they get through this but if we all love them, they will.


MCCONNELL: Our hearts go out to the families.


CRUZ: And we should pray for the families who lost loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senators voting in the negative, Cruz.



MELBER: Speaker Pelosi making waves and Democratic Congressman Al Green making waves right back. He has broken with her about setting the standard for impeachment. Here you were sir on the House floor today. Let`s watch.


REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: I believe that my country is worth liberty and justice for all. I believe it is worth government of the people by the people for the people. Our country is worth it. And because our country is worth making real these great and noble American ideals, I do not believe that an unfit president should be allowed to stay in office.


MELBER: Congressman, thanks for being here. What is your argument against Speaker Pelosi who said the standards should be high and require Republicans regardless of the Mueller findings to move forward on any consideration of impeaching President Trump?

GREEN: Well, thank you for having me. And just a brief comment. I appreciate greatly the last story that you presented. It was still very touching and thank you for presenting that.

MELBER: Thank you, Congressman. Did you did you have a view on that? I mean, your caucus you sent that bill over to the Senate. What should they do and then we could turn to the Pelosi discussion.

GREEN: Well, the Senate should do the righteous thing. This is an opportunity to deal with that loophole that we call the Charleston loophole. It should be closed. Sir, I was at that church at that funeral. This is the funeral where President Obama spoke. And the thing that I remember most vividly was some of the persons who were harmed and their expressions of forgiveness, I will never forget the haunting voice of the lady who said I forgive you.

She -- this person had lost a loved one, but she said I forgive you. And that means something to me that people would have that kind of love in their hearts. So thank you for the story. I do apologize for usurping your time.

MELBER: Well, you know, not to make light, because it`s very important what you`re mentioning. But you can reclaim your time as they say in the House anytime. You wanted to mention that policy and it is the story we`re going to keep on.

Turning to why you`re in the news on the House floor today. Walk us through what why you`re breaking with your own speaker.

GREEN: Well, thank you. This has been the position that I`ve held now for some time, many, many weeks. I went to the floor much earlier and I explained that I thought the president should be impeached. A good many people agree, a good many do not. Those who differ with me, I understand.

But I love my country, sir. And because I love my country I believe that we must not allow political expediency to trump the moral imperative to do the right thing. I don`t think that we should allow an unfit president to remain in office. Many people will talk about his own fitness will even go so far as I say he should be impeached but then not want to take that final step forward.

MELBER: Right.

GREEN: The Constitution allows it, and it is something that it demands.

MELBER: That`s what -- that`s what I want to ask you because we heard the other side of the case from leadership Hakeem Jeffries who works with Speaker Pelosi. He`s one of your leaders as you know. But let me put up on the screen the public support here has been slightly rising for impeachment here in March up to 42 percent which of course it`s not a snap poll that you determine this.

But I wonder what you think of Speaker Pelosi`s argument which was endorsed I think basically by Congressman Schiff today that you shouldn`t go forward unless you have the Senate Republicans ready to join you. And I wonder you think that`s backwards and if there is a case or depending on Mueller finds, it would be up to the House as the indicting body under the Constitution to lead and present the evidence that then the rest of the country and the Senate would ultimately adjudicate. Do you think in a way the Speaker has it backwards?

GREEN: Well, thank you. Here`s what I think. I`ve looked at some polls recently and the indication is that Republicans would not vote to impeach the President by some 60 plus percent, would not vote to impeach the President if there was obstruction proven, or if Mr. Mueller should find that there was some sort of collusion. They would not support it.

I don`t think that we should wait for help that is not coming. I believe that we have a large majority for a reason. People expect us to do that which is right for the country. And the right thing for a country that has a president who is causing harm to society is to remove him from office. This is what the framers of the Constitution intended. Read Federalist 65. It validates what I say.

MELBER: And before I let you go, briefly, have you spoken with the Speaker about it this week?

GREEN: I have not spoken with the Speaker about it this week. I intend before presenting articles of impeachment to send a communique out to all of the members, of course the Speaker would be included. They will then of course have an opportunity to make decisions.

I don`t whip people. I simply say to people vote your conscience. I think that this is something that is so important that we all ought to make that personal decision as to how we proceed. I will vote my conscience.

MELBER: Congressman Al Green with a different perspective than we had last night, thank you for joining us.

GREEN: Thank you, sir. Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up on the rest of the program, what is next for Paul Manafort? He actually faces a sentencing that could deliver more prison than he got last week. And then later, the great Chuck D from Public Enemy talking Trump and how to combat lies from politicians, policing in American, and a lot more. That`s later in the program.


MELBER: We are back with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, five-time Grammy nominee and someone I`m a big fan of Public Enemies, Chuck D. Thanks for being on THE BEAT.

CHUCK D, RAPPER: Man, I`m finally here with you, you know, two of my favorites on this network, Rachel of course, and Joy-Ann, so hey I am with you. That`s a trifecta right?

MELBER: There`s a trifecta. We`ll find Rachel and Joy for you hopefully before you`re through here. You mentioned her. Let`s take a listen to you and Rachel Maddow when you were working together doing talk radio.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to Unfiltered here on Air America Radio. I`m Rachel Maddow. I`m here with Chuck D and a national party that was totally in the red. So Bill Clinton did a lot for the party and he`s continuing with that.

CHUCK D: Would you say he was a president of mass distraction?

MADDOW: He was the President -- he was the Clinton presidency. I mean, it was for him and he`s trying to make it for Hillary now.


MELBER: You were a big political analyst with the following in addition to everything else you`ve done. What do you think has changed from then when you were critical of both right-wing Republicans but also what you saw is what was wrong with the Democratic Party, and now where Trump has upended everything.

CHUCK D: I deferred all the time to the hardest-working person ever in news and that`s Rachel Maddow all the time especially early in the morning at those Air America shows. We could not have even foreseen any of the lunacy that we see today. I mean, it was wildly when we work together 2004. This would have been unpredictable. It`d have been out of a genie lamp of distortion.

I think human beings around the planet you know, they clamor for truth and tired of the trickery and tired of -- tired of the lies.

MELBER: When do the right thing and fight the power --

CHUCK D: That`s 30 years ago, Ari. 30 years ago. This is the 30th year.

MELBER: 30th year?


MELBER: It said, look, things are so bad in these communities, we could have race riots, and then afterward we had one. When you have Spike Lee looking at David Duke and white supremacy, he was doing that reporting in that movie making before Charlottesville.

CHUCK D: Of course.

MELBER: What is it about the sad truth that sometimes the culture comes to these things before the rest of us?

CHUCK D: When I did fight the power, understand there was a fight to power done by the Isley Brothers just 15 years prior talking about the same conditions. You know, it might be a long time in culture and music, but 15 years, 25 years, 30 years is not a long time in regular real-time life. And so people come and go but the idea is destroyed, the stench or the stigma and that`s laced inside institutions.

MELBER: There is something that lawyers and Public Enemy fans have in common.

CHUCK D: Very few lawyers. Oh my God. Yes, OK, go ahead.

MELBER: Any honest lawyer will tell you at least --

CHUCK D: And how many -- how many are those?

MELBER: Fair. But behind the scenes, even if they don`t always admit it, they will tell you, oh yes, I`ve been to court. White people and black people are treated completely differently in this country. And people know -- I know very Conservative Republican lawyers who will tell you, oh yes, well, of course, we see that and we have the data.

Last year there were two white officers convicted of murdering people who for the first time in over a decade. Do you view that as a shift in this progress that there is more accountability however slowly it`s moving?

CHUCK D: Fly in the buttermilk but technology has helped since you know, (INAUDIBLE) the Rodney King situation beginning point. It was technology that kind of led into that and unveiling the truth about the one-sidedness of the justice.

MELBER: Technology being people couldn`t deny on video?

CHUCK D: Right. This video, now everybody has you know, camera on their phones. They`re locked into it. The little screen versus a big screen versus the bigger screen. So everybody is kind of web together for more reasons than one. And truth will prevail out of some of these situations.

MELBER: Do you think Trump will be reelected?

CHUCK D: I didn`t think he`d make it past two years so it`s the climate of the United States of America you know, it breeds itself upon confusion.

MELBER: My last question to you. George Soros who knows money -- you said the difference between a business and a profession is in a business the only goal is money, but in a profession like medicine or journalism, they`re supposed to be other values that actually can trump the profit motive.

CHUCK D: Character has --

MELBER: Music, culture --

CHUCK D: Character has a lot to do with it, I heard.

MELBER: Do you worry that the music business today, the news business which you were talking about don`t have enough of those professional values that are just pursuing profit and cliques?

CHUCK D: It`s always a fight. There`s a fight that kind of balances it out. What makes a fisherman fish? Does the fisherman fish just to eat, then why is that person sitting in a boat that caught no fish is going to go to that boat tomorrow because it presents a whole bunch of different intangibles.

And I think people seriously in the news business want to deliver news that enlighten people are forward to progress. I think people also want to adhere themselves with some kind of character and the character of being that you can have character to enhance other people beside yourself instead of being a character to just enhance yourself as an individual.

And that`s probably what the President is always a forced to indulge himself in creating the biggest character out of himself instead of having character that enhance others.

MELBER: That makes a lot of sense.

CHUCK D: I tried to.

MELBER: Chuck D --

CHUCK D: I get on T.V. often not do I want to but being in front of Ari after just the trifecta Rachel, Joy-Ann, and now you.

MELBER: Thank you. That`s good company and Chuck D is a good company. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

CHUCK D: Thanks for letting me wear my shades.


MELBER: You can wear those anytime. I can`t top that, but when we come back, one more thing you need to know about this big Mueller week and Mike Flynn.


MELBER: If it felt that last week was Manafort week in the Mueller probe, this week could be Manafort week in the Mueller probe. Consider that tomorrow we have some key developments. Manafort faces his second sentencing in a federal courthouse in Washington whereas you may have heard, he faces separate counts to up to ten years in prison.

Not only that, but Mueller`s team has to file a status report for Donald Trump`s former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. That could reveal how the cooperation is going whether they`re finished or have more work to do which is at least a small clue in where the Mueller investigation is headed.

I can tell you on THE BEAT we`ll have David Corn, Colonel Ralph Peters, and Mike Lupica all weighing in on what it looks to be a very busy day. Now, that`s our show for tonight. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.