Barr drops third letter on Mueller. TRANSCRIPT: 3/29/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Glenn Kirschner, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Howard Fineman, Daniel Alonso,Carter Page, Michael Caputo, Just Blaze

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Katy, thank you very much.  We begin tonight`s show with breaking news.  Friday and we have another Friday letter, brand new on Mueller for Attorney General Bill Barr.

Bill Barr making news late on a Friday announcing officially we have it that he will release, he says in writing the redacted Mueller report by mid-April and he will testify before Congress on May 1st and he will not send the Mueller report to President Trump in advance for privilege review or at least he has no plans to.  Those are the headlines.

And we know them tonight because Attorney General Barr just dropped his third letter in a week.  I have -- for analysis with our experts, I have all of them.  In a departure from the first two letters, this one directly rebuts the criticism that he`s heard, that you may have heard on what Barr tonight calls media reports about his initial letters, quotes from the Mueller report.

As the reality has sunk in about what Barr released and what he didn`t release starting on Sunday night, you probably heard, legal experts, commentators and legislators who started blasting Barr`s approach including the kind of experts that attorneys general care about, criticism from past attorneys general.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think he`s wrong.  I mean I think he is taking on to himself a role that has not typically been used by people in the position that Bob Barr has had.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  It has too much of the odor of political expediency to help the man who appointed him, President Trump.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We don`t need you interpreting for us.  It was condescending, it was Arrogant, and it wasn`t the right thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Barr is basically rebutting some of that directly writing in the new letter that he says he did not summarize the Mueller report adding "I do not believe it would in the public`s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in a serial or piecemeal fashion."

But that is exactly what critics have said Barr did, including rushing out those now infamous partial quotes, A.K.A. a piecemeal review or release, which also appeared in part to benefit his boss President Trump.

And even in this new letter, we have to tell you that Barr refers to his own earlier letter as a "summary" of Mueller`s principal conclusions.  So to translate this, so you understand clearly what we`re talking about, Attorney General Barr admits to summarizing tonight.  He is just claiming or emphasizing that he summarized Mueller`s conclusions, not that he summarized the whole Mueller report.

Bottom line, Donald Trump`s new attorney general is on defense tonight.  He`s ending the week explaining his speedy process with his first letter out last Friday that said Mueller was done and his second letter on Sunday night with those four partial quotes.  That made a lot of waves all week.

Then you have tonight`s letter where he appears to give ground on releasing a redacted version of the report and testifying and confirming for the first time ever in his own words that Mueller`s report is nearly 400 pages long.  That is information which if you watched our coverage you would note Sunday night we emphasized that Barr confusingly refused to share that.

And then you have this.  Barr saying that he does not have plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review.  That wording could become critical later because plans can change.

Barr goes on in this brand new letter to go and say even beyond the legal requirements and name check Bob Mueller writing that he is assisting the special counsel, assisting in the process of the redactions to get it all out.

So what do we make of all this?  You don`t have to be an expert in the process to know this has been a controversial process.  The attorney general giving ground partly response to pressure from Democrats who remain pretty powerful with subpoenas in the House.

And tonight, Judiciary Chair Nadler says that this new third letter still has too much wiggle room in his view.  He`s demanding the full report with nothing taken out by the original Tuesday deadline that Democrats set and Nadler pointing the past president when an independent judge has worked with other prosecutors on getting a legally valid release of even that special secret grand jury material.

That`s the headlines and the facts tonight.  Now, we turn to our experts.  Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor.  Aisha Moodie-Mills at Harvard Institute Politics right now.  And Howard Fineman, an MSNBC news analyst.

Glenn, bottom line, what does it mean to you that there is a now third Friday letter from the attorney general going farther than he had?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  So Ari, what it means to me, we can quibble with the attorney general`s decision to use the word summary in his first letter and then in his second letter saying I`d never tried to summarize anything, but let`s set the semantics aside.

What he did was he tried to set out some of Bob Mueller`s conclusions.  But he went so far beyond that because what he did, Ari, is he put his thumb on the scale and he said you know what, Bob Mueller cannot exonerate the president.  He can`t clear him from having committed obstruction of justice.  So let me go ahead and do that myself.  I`m going to say there wasn`t enough evidence to charge obstruction.

MELBER:  And let me ask you for your analysis.  The first letter previewed a second letter.  So we knew that part.

The third letter arrives out of the blue today.  It`s not required by the special counsel rules.  So this new letter on the right side of the screen for viewers looks like giving ground to the Democrats and in its own language acknowledges public criticism.

The best thing you can say about that is he`s being transparent about that motivation or those facts.  The worst thing you could say as we reported from Sunday night on is that he`s now coughed up information like the nearly 400-page length that could have been available from the start.

KIRSCHNER:  Yes.  And you know what?  It`s good if he`s going to be strong to be transparent and he`s trying to answer the criticism.  It`s also good I think my favorite part of that letter is he said Bob Mueller himself, the special counsel, will continue to be involved in the redactions.

That gives me comfort, because I`ve got to tell you, Ari, I don`t think Bob Mueller will stand for ultimately an incomplete or misleading version of this report to come out.  I think he will want to make sure the American people and the Congress get it all.

MELBER:  Aisha?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think that that`s an interesting point.  Bob Mueller did spend many, many, many months of his life with this investigation.  So I would hope that he would speak out if it was either being misrepresented or not fully represented.

I got to just say something for a moment, Ari.  I was hoping that you led with Aaliyah`s four-page letter because all I keep seeing in my head is like I`m dropping this four-page letter and enclosing it with a kiss.

MELBER:  We touched on that reference earlier this week.  So we`re -- minds are melded here.

MOODIE-MILLS:  You know, great minds.  It`s always the great minds.  But yes, it`s obvious that Barr was trying to tip the scales and really tell the American people what they should believe about this report and how they should interpret it.  And that is inappropriate, unfair.

And so I am thankful that the Democrats are holding him to the fire to produce all of it.  Because look, here`s the other piece of it, is that there are -- there`s so many kind of background pieces with regards to the investigation that would give some insight as to the scope and the nature of what we are learning about Donald Trump.

Whether or not it`s directly related to Russia isn`t really the question moving forward.  So I think it`s important that we get access to that and that he drops it all.

MELBER:  Howard, what a difference a week makes.  We are exactly a week out from --

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC NEWS ANALYST:  It seems like a million years ago.

MELBER:  Right.  we`re literally a week and one hour out from the ending of the Mueller probe.  And I want to put on the screen something very basic that`s very important.  Seventy-three words on the screen are all we have from the Mueller report.  That hasn`t changed in the week.

We have these 73 words out of what we now know to be nearly 400 pages.  What do you think as a student of Washington and the interbranch relations here about what Barr is doing?

FINEMAN:  All right.  Well, since this is Friday and we`re in the middle of March madness, let me use a basketball analogy if you don`t mind.  You know how toward the end of a game when one team thinks it`s ahead and they spread the floor and they start tossing the ball around to keep from getting fouled to stop the clock?  That`s my interpretation here.

Because first of all, Barr is saying that the president is not going to decide on any kind of executive privilege claims.  My plan, Barr says, is to do that myself on his behalf.  OK, that`s number one.

Number two, my interpretation of having Mueller involved is a little different here.  Mueller`s an institutionalist.  He`s going to want to protect other prosecutions that are going on.

I`m not sure he`s necessarily going to be for totally putting everything on the table.  That remains to be seen.  And I`m backtiming this from the congressional hearings that are going to take place when Barr and maybe Mueller and other people are going to be up there and members of Congress are going to be questioning them about what happened here and why more of this report wasn`t released.  OK?  And why so much was redacted which is what I think is going to happen.

And they`re going to blame each other.  Barr`s going to blame Mueller.  Mueller is going to blame Barr.  Trump is going to blame Barr.  And it`s going to be a stall toward the end of what the White House thinks is the game here.

MELBER:  Go ahead, Aisha.

MOODIE-MILLS:  I was just going to add that I think it`s fair for the American people to get what`s appropriate to be moved around in the public, but I do believe that we should make sure that Congress has access to the full file, because Congress still has an investigation and a job to do.

And I don`t want to conflate and confuse the two.  Sure, there might be some information about an ongoing investigation that perhaps shouldn`t be smacked all over the front page of every newspaper but that doesn`t mean Congress shouldn`t have access to it.

MELBER:  Glenn, let`s take a look again at what I summarized to use the word of the day from this letter.  Because Barr says, look, I`m aware of these media reports and statements which he says "mischaracterize" his original letter as a "summary".  And we could put this up on the screen.  Then he says it was not and did not purport to be an exhaustive recounting, but a summary of its principal conclusions.

To the normal person in the world waiting on a nearly 400-page report, what are we to read into Barr`s fixation, concern, obsession with how he`s been quoted or covered this week?  I mean that is kind of funny if nothing else.

KIRSCHNER:  Yes, it`s such a minor point and it seems to suggest that maybe Attorney General Barr has had some thin skin.  But this sort of semantic debate over what the meaning of summary is, it just doesn`t matter.

And the other thing, Ari, if I can say when Barr put his thumb on the scale and said you know what, I`m going to short circuit this and say that the evidence doesn`t support an obstruction charge, the way I see, that, I see that as an opening statement, right.

It`s not evidence.  It`s just somebody`s opinion.  And you know what we tell juries when we`re trying cases?  Opening statements are not evidence.

MELBER:  Disregard the opening statement.

KIRSCHNER:  Not to disregard, but they`re not evidence.  And you know what is evidence?  The evidence.  That`s why we need to see the Mueller report.  We need to reach our own conclusions about the evidence, not Attorney General Barr`s opening statement.

MELBER:  And so that goes to my final question to Howard here moving beyond the law and into the debate.  The attorney general has every right to wage a public debate within his, of course, ethical and legal obligations.

And one way to have waged this debate would have been to say on Friday Mueller finished without charging a conspiracy.  There`s no chargeable conspiracy.  That is the biggest, most important demolishment of the expectation that there may have been a chargeable conspiracy.

And everything else in the report will wait on and fairly deal with, communicate with Congress, go through a valid process, and turn it over.  He didn`t do that.  He felt the need or decided to go farther and say I`m going to give you my opinion on obstruction.

And if you`ve been following the news, you might know, I don`t really think a president can easily obstruct justice and a whole bunch of other stuff.  Why not, in your view, just focus on no chargeable conspiracy?

FINEMAN:  Well, because I think Bob Barr is part of the team.  I think that`s clear.  You showed the three documents that we all are familiar with.  A fourth document, of course, is the memo he wrote in June of 2018 basically saying that this can`t be done.

And that`s sort of where he came down.  He came down where he said he was going to come down long before he ever became attorney general.  I think they`re working with the White House attorneys, whether it`s Emmet Flood or others who have been in there.

I think that Mueller and Barr who have respect for each other feel that they have to get the facts out but they also have to protect the institutions here.  They think they`re doing the constitutions work.

And I think they`re going to all work together.  And as I said before, pass the ball around when they`re quizzed both about what`s redacted and what isn`t and what conclusions were drawn by Bob Barr.

MELBER:  Very interesting stuff with developments we didn`t know we were going to get this late into a Friday evening.  Howard Fineman, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Glenn Kirschner, thanks to each of you.

I want to share a programming note.  House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, he`s going to weigh in tonight.  Rachel Maddow interview, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.  You may not want to miss that one.

Coming up, we dig deeper into the Mueller report and what you, the public, will be allowed to see.  We`re learning a lot tonight.

Also, I have some witnesses from our memorable Mueller panel back to talk about the end of the probe and what they think is in a report that their words contributed to.

Later, Obama`s attorney general squaring off the vice president of the United States responding to Holder`s interview on this very show.  You might want to see that.  We`re going to show it to you.

And then if it`s Friday, it`s Just Blaze and Ayman Mohyeldin in a Fallback Friday for the ages.  I`m excited about it.

All that, coming up ahead.  I`m Ari Melber.  You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  We are back.  Attorney General Bill Barr making news late today with this letter addressing the release of Mueller`s final report.  We are looking at, and I can show it to you, a third letter that`s giving more insight into how many pages Mueller`s report will be, close to 400, as well as Barr`s strategy here.  Two questions that were unanswered from Sunday`s letter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  What do you take from the first, the facts, before we get beyond that.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, I wonder why we don`t even know the number of pages in the report.

MELBER:  If Barr who have told us today, Mueller wrote a report that was 50 pages or 200 or 500, that alone would be a great piece of context for these four.  Are you suggesting that the longer the report and the underlying evidence, the worse Barr might look for having tried to pull this off by Sunday night?

FLANNERY:  Yes, absolutely.  Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Barr writing today that we`ll get the answers first from his report in mid-April and we`ll get the answers from Barr himself when he goes under oath on May 1st.

I`m joined now by Daniel Alonso, a former federal prosecutor, a former chief assistant district attorney for Manhattan where there is an open case against Paul Manafort.  Thanks for being here.

DANIEL ALONSO, FORMER CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, MANHATTAN:  Thanks for having me.

MELBER:  Big question here.  This letter, had it come out on Friday or Sunday, might have made Bill Barr`s rushed two-day release of conclusions look worse, not better, because everyone would have known that he reached those conclusions on a 400-page report which no matter how talented a lawyer, you can only read so fast?

ALONSO:  You know that`s politics.  I get it.  I get why people want to criticize him for that.  But he`s now sent a letter that says he`s going to do something which, before today, there had been no definitive statement.

So I think it`s a pretty significant letter that he sent.  Sure, it would have been great to have it earlier but I think it`s pretty good that he sent this today.

MELBER:  I think you make a fair point that the pledge he makes now is a giant step forward for transparency.  But is it not our jobs to try to understand when and why he`s releasing information?  It would seem that he withheld the length of the report to make his review look more valid in those two days.

I mean, at a certain point -- 300 pages, 400, hundreds more with evidence.  At a certain point, no human being could reasonably reach many conclusions in that what was a 46-hour time window.

ALONSO:  Well, let me pushback a little bit.  I mean you and I talked last week about how I thought the report would be very very long.

MELBER:  And you were right.

ALONSO:  That`s not shocking.  This is what lawyers do.  We do digest long reports and we boil them down.

Now, do I think that the attorney general was keeping his options open about maybe not releasing the report ultimately?  Possibly.  He certainly didn`t make the pledge a week ago that he made today.

So certainly today is very significant.  A week ago, could well have been keeping his options open but we are where we are.

MELBER:  Understood and appreciate the pushback.  As a prosecutor, what do you think of when we put up on the screen so everyone understands a week later, everyone is still working off just these 73 words from the Mueller report?  What does that context tell us about what we don`t know?

ALONSO:  It certainly tells us we want to know a lot more.  So I`m dying to see what`s in the actual report.  So those 73 words are significant as the attorney general says as a summary of the principal conclusions of the special counsel, but they`re going to be irrelevant in mid-April.

MELBER:  Do you view this as a situation where the pressure on Barr has worked or has been irrelevant?

ALONSO:  I think probably it worked.  And we kind of knew that was going to happen, right.  This report was going to see the light of day in some way, in some fashion given that the regulation puts it on his shoulders to decide what`s in the public interest.

MELBER:  Former Federal Prosecutor Daniel Alonso with some context tonight.  Thanks for being here.

ALONSO:  Thanks for having me.

MELBER:  Now, we`re about to turn to hear directly from two Mueller witnesses on this news today and a whole lot more when we`re back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  High stakes battles over the Mueller report continuing tonight.  Attorney General Barr pledging this redacted version by mid-April.  Dems demanding an unredacted version sooner.

This is all, when you think about it though, a remarkable part of a process where Washington is transfixed on a report that most people haven`t seen, including the president and the congressional leaders.

The only people who have much of an idea about what`s in this nearly 400- page report are first, DOJ officials obviously like Mueller and his supervisors, Rosenstein, and Barr.  And second, the people in Trump`s orbit like the Mueller witnesses who we`ve talked to provide information about key parts of the probe.

We`ve been gathering their views and testimony directly for that very reason.  They were in Mueller`s office.  They provided information that will inform the report.

So keep in mind that long before Trump won the election or Bob Mueller was ever appointed, there was this fact that the probe began with the FBI scrutinizing four people linked to Trump, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and George Papadopoulos.

And now, we have more information.  The probe is over.  What are the results?

Well, when you look at those people who were involved here in this probe into Trump aides, Paul Manafort convicted on a range of charges.  Mike Flynn convicted for lying to the FBI.  George Papadopoulos convicted for lying.

And then the last man standing, Carter Page not charged let alone convicted on anything through the conclusion of this probe.  So it is with great interest that we welcome back to THE BEAT Carter Page, one of the first four, as well as Michael Caputo, a former Trump adviser who has given us his views and insights throughout.

I really appreciate both of you coming back on THE BEAT.

CARTER PAGE, FORMER FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP:  Great to be with you, Ari.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER:  Thanks for the invitation.

MELBER:  Absolutely.  Carter, how do you feel as the one out of the four who ended without charges?

PAGE:  I feel bad for everything that`s happened over the last several years, but what we saw on Monday -- or sorry, on Sunday was basically stating the reality that I`ve been trying to say, you know, going back to my many conversations with Chris Hayes and, you know, countless discussions in the media.  This is -- it was almost a no brainer.

And I think what we see now is a turning point where there are much bigger investigations which are now on the horizon.  I think we saw some discussion about that in the House Intel Committee yesterday so.

MELBER:  Is your message to everyone that there were crimes but none by you?

PAGE:  I think go back to those -- the initial letter on Sunday, right?  Those -- there really was nothing, you know, conspiracy related.

MELBER:  No chargeable election conspiracy.

PAGE:  Absolutely.  Yes.  So, and that`s -- I mean that`s the whole point of it.  But actually, you and I, we had the first conversation, the first time I ever talked about it on T.V. about my May 2017 series of e-mails that I sent to Mr. Mueller and Mr. Rosenstein.

And as I told you, Ari, those -- all the -- everything that Mr. Mueller was doing I think was on the up and up but as per those new investigations were starting, I think there`s some big questions on Mr. Rosenstein and the FISA warrants.

MELBER:  With regards to you, you thought Mueller was fair in what he found about you?

PAGE:  Absolutely.

MELBER:  Let me turn to you, Michael.  We`ve had these discussions.  You told us that it was clear from the questions they were looking hard at collusion or believed in it.  Let`s take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPUTO:  In May of 2018, they believe that there was still -- they still believed in Russian collusion.  It was very obvious to me a lot of the questions they asked me showed it very clearly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  What is your response to them finding no chargeable collusion?  Does that mean in your view they honestly found the facts?

CAPUTO:  I believe they dug deeper than anyone even suspected they would.  And say what you will about these fellows, this men and women in the Mueller team, I don`t like a lot of what they did.  I don`t like what they did to Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, et cetera, but they`re a strong team.

And they`re very thorough.  And probably the strongest investigatory team we put together our federal government has in decades.  And if they found no collusion, no evidence of anyone conspiring to collusion --

MELBER:  No chargeable collusion.

CAPUTO:  Right.  I mean -- but at the same time, I believe that they were never going to find it.  But -- and I think it`s important to note that they were still interviewing people two weeks ago with questions about potential Russian collusion.

MELBER:  What does that tell you?

CAPUTO:  It tells me that they were crossing all the die -- crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is in this report which turns out to be a pretty substantial report.

MELBER:  Right.  And we expect our inference being some of what you provided them will be in the report.  Some of that goes to why they didn`t find an election conspiracy.  These are legal developments that people have to take in factually.

They also found, they say, obstruction, not by either of you, but they say they found it.  When I sat with four of the witnesses, two of them including you, there was a discussion about who was questioned the most about whom.

And Stone`s name kept coming up.  And you and Mr. Dunberg had an exchange about that.  As we watch this back, let`s recall that two days later, the feds came to Stone`s home to arrest him on the indictment.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM NUNBERG:  Roger`s not Donald Trump, OK.  He`s not going to get away with witness tampering.  He should shut up.

CAPUTO:  Well, how is he witness tampering?

NUNBERG:  When he goes around and lies and says that he was -- I was the only person, he told as a joke, that met with Julian Assange, give me a break.  That was wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Mr. Nunberg was right about where it was headed.  Days later, Stone indicted on witness tampering and obstruction crimes.  Why did Stone do what he did providing evidence of obstruction if there was no chargeable conspiracy?

CAPUTO:  You know, I`m not the expert on that but I can tell you a lot of what he`s been charged with, the idea for example on your show, Randy Credico saying that he gave no information to Roger Stone, patently false, Roger has all the text messages and e-mails to prove that and he`ll prove that in court.

Credico pushing off saying it was all Corsi, it was all Corsi.  Patently false and Roger`s going to be able to prove that as well.  I think he`s shown those e-mails publicly.  And --

MELBER:  And I pressed Mr. Credico about that on this show last night.  So helps us understand then what did that mean that there was this discussion about WikiLeaks, it wasn`t chargeable?  Why did Roger appear to mislead about it?

CAPUTO:  Well, I don`t think he did.  I think when he sat in these hearings to testify that he gave his best responses to his recollection.  You remember some of the things he`s being criticized for is to how he was conversing with people.

They asked him, "Did you do e-mails and texts?"  And he said, "I think I did texts and no e-mails" and somehow it`s a lie that he was actually doing e-mails.  Why would Roger Stone do that?  Why would he lie about if he`s texting and e-mailing?  Why would he lie?  He just didn`t remember.

MELBER:  Well, Mueller says that he repeatedly tried to prevent Randy Credico from testifying.  The president has tried to do that very publicly.  It`s quite obvious but he`s the president.

Now, the point on the show was whether Stone would get away with it.  Why was Stone, in your view, trying to prevent people from testifying?

CAPUTO:  I don`t think that he was preventing people from testifying.  And the idea in the Mueller probe that somehow taking away his dog was a threat of some kind, Roger Stone has been threatening to take away his dog for years.

Roger Stone`s -- I mean he`s got a house full of one-legged dogs.  He doesn`t like the way that Credico treats his dog.

MELBER: So is this -- is this just a bizarre defense, just bizarre banter?

CAPUTO:  Well, here`s the interesting thing, Ari.  After two years of this driving you know, countless people out of their jobs causing all kinds of havoc in people`s homes and mere witnesses, the Mueller team finds himself at the end of the hallway at the end of this entire game and they`re staring at Jerry Corsi who believes the most wild conspiracies in the world, Roger Stone and Randy Credico who wears women`s -- wears women`s underwear.  That`s where they find themselves.

MELBER:  Well, I don`t know why you`re getting into that.

CAPUTO:  I`m getting into that because you know, dozens of years of Yale law school education and they end at the freak show tent.

MELBER:  Well, look, you`re -- we try to treat people with respect here.  You`re calling various people cling something on the panel with you freaks.  I want to keep it on point.  Let`s look at the Mueller indictment of Stone on the substance of what you say which is that Stone according to Mueller directed Corsi not Credico to contact the head of WikiLeaks.

Again though -- and Carter, this goes to a lot of the other folks, you do understand why people around the country are looking at all this and saying, if this is all it was what Mr. Caputo just outlined and nothing more, why were there so many lies.

Because the president did lie and he did dictate a misleading statement about Trump Tower, and he did call people rats, and he did try to get Mueller fired according to his own White House Counsel and his own legal spokesman.  Mark Corallo resigned over those concerns about obstruction crimes.  Do you have a view having been so inside this of why?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN:  Listen.  I think you want to talk about lies, let`s talk about the obstruction of justice in the FISA Court, right.

MELBER:  Well, I know you`re hot on the FISA but I`ll give you a deal.  You answer me my question and then you can add on about FISA.  How about that?

CAPUTO:  Fair enough.

PAGE:  Listen.  You know, I think if we`re -- I`m focused on sort of the macro picture of collusion with the Russians right and the whole FISA premise was based on Russian sources which was then used to mislead a court right?  So most of those people that you`re alluding, to I`ve never had any relationship with.  It`s hard for me to opine.  And you know, I just -- I think it`s a real shame in general just -- I think I think there`s a lot that needs to be done from a policy perspective for our country and it`s just too bad we get focused on these things to -- so long.

MELBER:  What does it tell you that Corsi was very assertively warned about a potential indictment and then the probe ended without him getting indicted?

CAPUTO:  I think he could be the luckiest man in the world.  I think he should buy a lottery ticket or ten.  I`m surprised.  I also believe that it indicates that Corsi gave them information they were looking for, probably on Roger Stone.  We`ll probably see him brought in as a witness at Roger Stone`s trial.

MELBER:  So you would expect -- you would expect this and this Mueller report which you guys have provided information you`ve been deemed cooperative is going to have more of the clues or explanation to what Corsi and maybe Credico and these others gave up about Stone`s attempts to according to Michael Cohen, brief Donald Trump about getting advanced warning our WikiLeaks.

CAPUTO:  No doubt.  I`m not quite sure how much of that`ll be revealed because we have a trial coming up with Roger in November, and that might present some kinds of issues.  But you know, back to your question about why did people lie, I`ve been wrestling with that myself.  You know, so I think a lot of things that have been labeled lies were not lies.

But in addition, I think when we look back at how this all started, how Hillary Clinton`s campaign tried to create the Russian collusion narrative in order to discredit the President`s election, the president oftentimes would you know, talk about you know, Russian interference in our election and Russian collusion.  And you know, he wouldn`t make the distinction between the two.

MELBER:  But are you saying that people were overly defensive and political?

CAPUTO:  I believe that there are a lot of people around the President including myself --

MELBER:  If Donald Trump hadn`t fired James Comey and talked about Russia, none of you might have been in this.

CAPUTO:  Well, but as you know, at that time Donald Trump thought he was doing the bidding of the Democrats.  In fact, on Stephen Colbert that night when they announced Comey was fired, everybody stood up and cheered.

MELBER:  Well, do you -- do you think that that was the worst advice he ever got?

CAPUTO:  Well, I think it was among the worst advice he ever got.

MELBER:  Carter?

PAGE:  Well, I think when we get what senator -- Chairman Graham has been asking for with this second special counsel looking into the -- all these questions as to what exactly Mr. Comey was doing throughout the 2016 election and the early months of the new administration I think we`ll have a much better sense.

MELBER:  And lightning around yes or no.  You expect there to be pardons yes or no?

CAPUTO:  Yes.

PAGE:  No idea.  I`ve no real relation -- no relationship with the -- with the White House.

MELBER:  And you expect the Mueller report to add to good news on obstruction or subtract from it for Trump?

CAPUTO:  I think it`ll be a mixed bag.  There`ll be something to have things in there too.

PAGE:  I think generally good.

MELBER:  I really appreciate that we`ve been able to draw on your primary experience both throughout this process which I think informed our understanding and now afterward and you`re both in a position to tell your stories and you are one out of four.

PAGE:  Thanks, Ari.

MELBER:  One out of four.  The other three were charged.  Carter Page, on THE BEAT, Michael Caputo, great to have you both back.

CAPUTO:  Thanks a lot.

MELBER:  I appreciate it.  Coming up, Vice President Mike Pence criticizing Attorney General Holder for comments he first expressed right here on THE BEAT this week about democracy, voting rights, and his view of American greatness.  Holder has a new answer to Pence.  We`re going to bring you up to speed in all that.  And then later, the legendary Just Blaze a name and Ayman Mohyeldin for a special "FALLBACK FRIDAY."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  Vice President Mike Pence calling out Attorney General Eric Holder for criticizing the Trump-Pence campaign slogan make America great again.  Pence quoting what Holder said right here on THE BEAT this week as we discussed how America can be a leader as a democracy when so many people in this nation weren`t allowed to vote throughout history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  -- as a "democracy" in the 1800`s when women and African Americans couldn`t vote, what kind of democracy is that?

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  Well that`s exactly right.  That`s what I hear these things about let`s make America great again.  I think to myself exactly when did you think America was great?  It certainly wasn`t when people were enslaved.  It certainly wasn`t when women didn`t have the right to vote.  It certainly wasn`t when the LGBT community here was denied the rights to which he was entitled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Holder critiquing the idea that you have to go back in time to recapture American greatness and he said America has done great things but that progress comes by looking ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER:  It takes us back to I think an American past and never in fact really existed in this notion of greatness.  You know, America`s been superb things, has done great things, and it has been a leader in you know a whole range of things but we`re always a work in process.  And you know, looking back to make America great again is inconsistent with who we are as Americans at our best where we look at the uncertain future, embrace it, and make it our own.

MELBER:  So that`s what Holder told us.  Now many headlines about this interview rush to a binary takedown where Pence seized on that.  He tweeted images of great moments in history from George Washington, to World War Two, to basically troll Holder, a kind of a straw man argument that maybe Eric Holder is against those things.

Now he posted a reply saying, "America is great.  Make America great again means you think America is not great.  And he said backward-looking, America is at its best when we look forward."  Holder is seeking to have a broader conversation about greatness more than a four-word slogan might encapsulate.  And this we think is still a nuanced discussion worth having.

I`m joined by Rich Benjamin, a Political Analyst, and Critic and the author of Whitopia where you spent a lot of time in some of the quote whitest communities in America trying to have these conversations.

RICH BENJAMIN, POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, Ari.  And while I was there you`d hear the phrase let`s take our country back.  I want to take my country back.  And the question arose to get back from a what?  And I think that`s what Trump`s make America great again was signalizing as though he could take it back in terms of race, in terms of gender, in terms of a dirty energy economy, and all of it.

MELBER:  What does it mean to you that Vice President Pence who is presumably busy wanted to jump on this conversation, whether he saw the interview live on THE BEAT or saw the discussion the headlines I showed, he wanted to lean into this but not necessarily to reckon with the voting rights point that Holder was making that a democracy defined by everyone having the right to vote makes this a young democracy indeed.

BENJAMIN:  He just wants to double down on the symbolism of it.  It reminded me of the time Trump went to the CPAC conference, hugged the flag and said I will protect you.  So for me, I think it`s symbolic trolling that the Vice President is doing without any policy substance of addressing what Eric Holder said.

MELBER:  I want to play President Obama who obviously was Holder`s boss and threaded some of these needles in a way that seemed to build bridges, something we desperately might be lacking right now.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What greater form of patriotism is that than the belief that America is not yet finished.  Their endeavors gave the entire self the chance to rise again not by reasserting the past but by transcending the past.

That`s what America is, not stocked photos or airbrushed history.  We respect past but we don`t pine for the past.  We don`t fear the future.  We grab for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  It`s interesting that there`s a reference to airbrush photos there because that`s a little bit of what exactly was happening in the Twitter troll.

BENJAMIN:  It`s a lot of what was happening in the Twitter trolling.

MELBER:  And by a little bit, I mean a lot of it.

BENJAMIN:  A lot of it -- a lot of it.  You know, I wish Obama had given that speech sooner than later.  But in fairness to him, the context was the 50th anniversary of Selma, but it really came so late and it was really prescient and we couldn`t foresaw Trump`s election when he gave that speech.

MELBER:  Is it -- is it unhidden like -- sorry, not unhidden.  Is it hidden or unseen rule of American politics that you have to constantly speak about reform as an appeal to greatness rather than just acknowledging some of these things might not work well, we need to fix them?

BENJAMIN:  Yes.  I think it is in a -- two things.  One is you appeal to the past and you appeal to how you`ve come up.  I was born in a log cabin and I will make things great and I identify with you.  That`s very nostalgic and backward-looking.  Versus I see the future.  America`s economy is not a zero-sum game where we`re fighting each other like Game of Thrones but like we can make this better for all of us.

MELBER:  Interesting.  You`ve given a lot of thought to these issues including how to break through on them and not just have the trolling so Rich Benjamin, thanks for being on THE BEAT tonight.

BENJAMIN:  Yes.  Thank you.

MELBER:  I appreciate it.  Now, who needs to fall back?  After a week like this, we have a producer behind Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay-z`s hits.  Just Blaze here tonight right now along with Ayman Mohyeldin, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER:  It`s Friday on THE BEAT after quite a week so you know it`s time to fall back.  I am joined by hip-hop producer and DJ extraordinaire Just Blaze who`s produced top hits for artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, 17 Billboard top 100 hits to his credit, seven Grammy nominations.  He`s also featured as a character in a video game NBA Street Volume Two, goals.

And we`re also joined by MSNBC`s own Ayman Mohyeldin who is on the ground covering the revolution in Egypt.  He`s one of the first Western journalists to cover the trial of Saddam Hussein from inside Iraq.  He now of course anchors "MORNING JOE`S FIRST LOOK" each weekday and "THE BREAKDOWN" 4:00 p.m. on Sundays.  You guys are busy people.

JUST BLAZE, RECORD PRODUCER:  Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER:  Just Blaze, who needs to fall back?

JUST BLAZE:  Oh man, you know what, Big Game Sport hunters.  Not a fan of honey in general but there was a an incident of an executive from Illinois earlier this week --

MELBER:  Right here.

JUST BLAZE:  You know, this clown hat guy.  Shot in line while he was sleeping and the video just surfaced.  I think it`s corny, I think it`s very cowardly.  There`s no sport involved in that to me.  If you`re hunting to eat, that`s one thing.  If you`re hunting just to hunt and just to kill animal hangs its head on the wall, I don`t respect that.

MELBER:  And to hunt a sleeping beast.

JUST BLAZE:  Yes.  And you know, it`s -- there`s no sport involved in that.  The way I look at it, you want to impress me, go fight that line with your bare hands, knuckles, teeth, and then come back and insult me.  And in the words of my good friend L.P. hunting is no fun when your prey doesn`t move.

MELBER:  Truth.

JUST BLAZE:  Indeed. 

MELBER:  Truth.

JUST BLAZE:  It`s corny, it`s cowardly.

MELBER:  Ayman Mohyeldin who needs to fall back?

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  All right, so you know journalists is kind of like an unspoken rule you don`t want to try to criticize other journalists but this week in Toledo, Ohio a group of news anchors we`re trying to kind of be cool, be millennial, and they were trying to speak to their viewers in what some thought was a condescending way.

MELBER:  When trying to be cool goes wrong in the news, all right let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Good morning TPS students.  It is testing week and it`s time to slay all day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Stake woke beyond fleek and get that Gucci breakfast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Goals say, bye Felisha to that testing stress.  Weather is going to be turned, right Chris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Toledo weather is going to be the lit during testing week, a hundo pee chance of success.  You`ve got these kids.  Steve, how about that traffic?  We look at -- better than -- we`re talking turn won`t be an issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JUST BLAZE:  How did I miss that?  Oh my god.  I know we`re talking about this earlier but didn`t expect it to be that cringe-worthy.

MOHYELDIN:  That`s exactly what it was. 

MELBER:  And by the way, I`m pro-cringe, that might get too much even for us at THE BEAT.

MOHYELDIN:  Honestly, I just can`t.  I mean, I watched that -- I watched that and it`s too painful to watch and you don`t know whether to laugh --

JUST BLAZE:  Cry --

MOHYELDIN:  I mean --

MELBER:  can You help us Just Blaze?  I mean, you`re pretty cool and you hang out work with a lot of cool people.  What`s the secret to not ending up like that?

JUST BLAZE:  Just stay in your lane.

MELBER:  Right.

JUST BLAZE:  You know what I mean.  Ultimately you know, like I was -- I`ve always -- my contemporaries you know, I`m not like most of them, you what I mean?  In the sense that my interests are different, you know, my hobbies are different, my everyday life.

MELBER:  He works with Kanye but you`re not living Kanye`s life.

JUST BLAZE:  Exactly.  You know what I mean.  But there`s no love lost in that.  We both -- our differences are what makes us special and what makes our collaborative efforts work.  That, I don`t know what to call that.  It`s just -- you know, people, when you try to identify with millennial or just another generation period, it`s just -- it really ends well.  And that`s the reason -- that`s a perfect example of why.  You don`t want anything to feel forced.

When I`m with these guys, I play my role, they play their role, nobody`s looking at each other sideways.  We just -- thought we are who we are right. 

MELBER:  Right.

JUST BLAZE:  And the respect is mutual.

MELBER:  And that`s true -- 

MOHYELDIN:  And I think there`s --

MELBER:  -- when you`re with Beyonce.

JUST BLAZE:  Yes.  You know.

MELBER:  Because you don`t try to be Beyonce when you might be producing for her.

JUST BLAZE:  Exactly.  No.  She come to me and says, I have something you need to do or I could rehearse it.  I have something I reckon that you need to say.  You know, we play our roles respectively and that`s that.  I`m not up there and you know, doing bootylicious dance on stage.  That`s not my role.

MOHYELDIN:  I think there`s a way to speak to your audience without being condescending.

JUST BLAZE:  Exactly.

MOHYELDIN:  And I totally agree with that.  I think there`s a way you know, you can connect with young viewers and get the message across but not be patronizing and condescending.

JUST BLAZE:  Like who do they think -- here what I`m trying to figure out.  There`s always a meeting that happens before these things have, right?  So somebody in this meeting ran through the script --

MELBER:  And cosigned it.

JUST BLAZE:  Yes.

MELBER: That`s how it works.  Well, this was something that I didn`t know about until you brought it to us.  We`ve talked about why you shouldn`t hunt animals that are asleep and you probably shouldn`t do that whatever that was.  Ayman Mohyeldin, Just Blaze, Thanks for being on THE BEAT. 

You can always catch Ayman on "MORNING JOE`S FIRST LOOK" weekdays 5:00 a.m. and the "BREAKDOWN" Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER:  And we have one more thing when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  That wraps THE BEAT for tonight.  I will be back Monday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern where we will be launching a new series on legal and justice issues in the United States with Neal Katyal.  You may know him for writing the rules of the special counsel or for being Acting Solicitor General for the United States under Obama arguing cases for the Supreme Court, or for a lot of the other things he`s done.  He was a senior DOJ official as well.

So we want to welcome his expertise to MSNBC writ and large and specifically THE BEAT where we`re going to be tackling some important issues in the weeks ahead.  I also wanted to tell you that in a couple of weeks for those of you who might be in New York, I`m going to be hosting a panel with the New Yorker`s Jeffrey Toobin, a legal expert and The View`s Sunny Hostin, a federal prosecutor and others.

If you look on your screen, if you`re in or coming to New York, you can find out more about it at the 92nd Street Y.  We`d love to see you there, April 8th.  If you`re in town, you can always go and get more information at 92y.org.

And what else do you need know?  Well, tonight on MSNBC, Chris Hayes has a very important town hall with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the Green New Deal, domestic policy and much more.  A lot going on. So keep it locked right here, including right now because "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