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Cohen lawyer points finger at President Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 4/2/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Jerrold Nadler; David Corn; Angus King


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  I`m doing great.  We have a big show.  Nice to see you as always.

TODD:  You got it.  Enjoy the show.

MELBER:  Thank you.

Tonight, Donald Trump`s attorney general William Barr has blown past the key deadline House Democrat set for releasing the full Mueller report.  This tees up a major fight with the very top lawmaker on this issue, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

And we begin THE BEAT tonight with the very legislator overseeing the DOJ and leading this fight, Chairman Nadler.  Given all the news, I want to get right to it.  Thank you for coming on THE BEAT, sir.


MELBER:  You run the Judiciary Committee.  Attorney General Barr has missed your deadline.  How will you respond?

NADLER:  Well, we noticed the markup.  We are having a markup tomorrow morning in which we will vote to authorize the chair to issue subpoenas, subpoenas for the Mueller report and the underlying materials and to various documents of five other people.

MELBER:  So you are going right to it.  You have this vote tomorrow.  If you win that vote as chair, I think you expect to.


MELBER:  When might you then actually issue the subpoena for the report or for those individuals?

NADLER:  Well, we will -- for the individuals, we`ll probably issue them right away.  But for the report and the underlying materials, we`ll work with the attorney general for a short period of time to get the report.

Now, he has said he will release it within by the middle of the month, which is two weeks so that`s not really the issue.  The real issue is we want to see the entire report, not a redacted version and all the underlying materials.

MELBER:  So I understand you right, tomorrow, you immediately move forward on issuing the actual subpoenas for those five people that your committee has identified?

NADLER:  Well, shortly, shortly.

MELBER:  Well, shortly thereafter.  Whereas the other subpoena, the report subpoena, you sort of use that as your -- that`s the planned leverage to see what he does with the redactions?

NADLER:  Well, it`s to authorize us to negotiate with him and to -- not to negotiate with him, to work with him and to minimize the redactions and we`ll use the subpoenas as necessary to make sure we get the whole report and all the underlying documents.

MELBER:  Understood.  So that sounds like some legal muscle.  I want to get into the redaction details with you because it seems to be where, according to you and some other experts, this whole fight is heading.

Before we do, I want to give you the benefit of responding to what I know you are aware of.  The president today claiming this isn`t about the substance of the report but a kind of an old beef between the two of you.  Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Nothing you give them, whether it`s shifty Schiff or Jerry Nadler, who I have known, he has been fighting me for half of my life in Manhattan and I was very successful, thank you.  But Nadler has been fighting me for years and years in Manhattan.  It`s a 400-page report, right?  We could give them 800 pages and it wouldn`t be enough.


MELBER:  Mr. Chairman, have you been fighting with Mr. Trump for years?  What is your response to the core accusation that this is about that and not the substance?

NADLER:  That`s absurd.  The president is very small minded.  Yes, we had clashes about some developments in the west side of Manhattan, many years ago.  But so what?

What`s relevant now is that I`m the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.  And we have a job to do, which is to protect the rule of law against that obstruction of justice and abuses of power and personal enrichment and we have to do that job.

And the fact is, there was an investigation for 22 months.  And now, the attorney general in four days, an attorney general who auditioned or his job by writing essentially that the investigation was wrong in itself and that a president could never commit obstruction of justice, which is an extreme view.

And so he`s not the proper person to oversee this or to decide what gets public.  And we have to see all the material and the underlying -- to see the report and the underlying documents to protect the public and to protect the rule of law.

Remember, the -- however, the president may characterize the Mueller report, the Mueller report, according to what Barr said, because we haven`t seen the report found wrongdoing and that we don`t even know what that is, not public and found a lot of very serious things.

And the special prosecutor said that he couldn`t rule in or out.  He couldn`t exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.  So Barr took it upon himself to do that.

MELBER:  Right.

NADLER:  But that`s not the job of the attorney general, who is after all a political appointee of the president.  That`s -- and the Justice Department cannot hold the president accountable, both because of their doctrine that you can never indict a sitting president and because of Barr`s memo that said that the president cannot commit obstruction of justice.

So Congress must hold the president accountable.  And to do that, we need all this information.

MELBER:  Yes.  So Mr. Chairman, you`re for all the information.  This seems to be where the fight is going.  As you say, many in America waiting to find out what Mueller found.

You posed a question that Senator Feinstein read at Mr. Barr`s confirmation hearing about transparency.  Let`s take a look because it`s so central now at that brief exchange.


SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN:  I have two questions from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  Will you commit to making any report Mueller produces at the conclusion of his investigation available to Congress and to the public?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  As I said in my statement, I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations that are part of the special counsel regulations.


MELBER:  It seems that with your coordination with Senator Feinstein, you got him under oath on record on a standard.  And So I want to get into this with you tonight.  I think our viewers are interested with this, Mr. Chairman, whether or not, as we put up on the screen this four redaction material categories that he`s proposed, do this fit his standard?

He says, as you know in his letter back to you, that he`s now made it four, grand jury intelligence, open investigations, and what he calls matters that impact the privacy or reputation of "peripheral third parties".

In your view, has he gone now and partly failed the standard that he committed to under oath, which was the rules or do you think the rules do require these four categories of redactions?

NADLER:  First of all, the rules are regulations of the department, itself, which he can change at his whim.  But second of all and more important, it`s a meaningless statement.

He said he would release to the public everything he could but he reserves to himself the right to make those judgments.  He put into the letter to me these four categories.  All four categories, there is ample precedent, ample court -- another precedent for releasing all this information of all these categories to Congress and that`s what we`re asking.

We have to see this information to protect the American people and it has to be the congressional judgment.  For example, the Congress knows how to handle classified information.  The Congress can very well handle and has handled 6(e) information.

MELBER:  The grand jury, yes.

NADLER:  In fact, in every previous condition -- in every previous analogous situation, whether it was Jaworski in the Nixon area or Ken Starr or various others, the Iran-Contra, Congress has received all this kind of information.

MELBER:  So is he --

NADLER:  We`re simply asking for the same thing.

MELBER:  Let me ask you this.  Do you think at some sense he is sort of hiding behind the rules for wider redactions that he may want to make?

NADLER:  Absolutely.  He`s hiding behind the rules and the redactions.  Listen, he auditioned for this job.  Remember, the president got rid of Sessions as attorney general because he wouldn`t protect him.  He fired Comey because he wouldn`t protect him and give him the loyalty he wanted.

He tried to fire Mueller.  He clearly wanted and he said he wanted an attorney general who would be his right Cohen, who would protect him personally.  Barr auditioned for the job, writing that 19-page memo in which he basically said that a president could never be guilty of obstruction of justice, because the president -- period, couldn`t be no matter what he did.

MELBER:  Right.

NADLER:  And so he was chosen.  He is the president`s agent.  And he is not in a position to make independent judgments that the public can trust.

MELBER:  So let me ask you, Mr. Chairman, since you make the historical comparison, I earlier played you a rather non-substantive argument from the sitting president and you rebutted it.

I want to play for you the more substantive argument which doesn`t come from President Trump but from his lawyer and his chief of staff where they say basically you might be right that that`s the way it used to be.  But the rules have changed and they do give the A.G. more power.

And I know being the constitutional expert you are, you`re familiar with this.  For everyone, I`m going to play the response for your rebuttal.  Take a look.


JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP:  The special counsel reports to the attorney general of the United States.  That`s different.  And then there is a specific regulation that governs what confidential report is delivered not to the United States Congress but a report that first goes from the special counsel to the attorney general.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Mr. Barr gets to handles this.  That`s how the law works.


MELBER:  Are they wrong?

NADLER:  They are right and they are wrong.  That`s how the regulations work.  But Congress still has the constitutional responsibility of protecting the rule of law of protecting against abuses of power on the part of the executive and the part of the president, protecting against the obstruction of justice, not necessarily criminal obstruction of justice but obstruction of justice in the normal sense of the word.

And for that, we need this information and we have a -- and Congress has a right to get this information in order to protect the American public and to do our job.  Now, we should make as much of that as possible public, but we know how to handle.

Congress knows how to handle classified information, knows how to handle other information.  And, for example, his largest category probably is information that might be deleterious or --

MELBER:  To reputations, yes.

NADLER:  To third parties.  Well, that`s a consideration.  But a bigger consideration is the protection of the public in an issue of such public interests and importance.

MELBER:  And you spoke to the attorney general --

NADLER:  -- and courts have ruled in that way.

MELBER:  When you spoke to him last week, did he define what peripheral third parties means?

NADLER:  No, he didn`t -- we got that letter shortly after that conversation.  He did not define that.  And he cannot be allowed to define it for himself.

Congress has to see all this information.  And we can make those determinations, that`s our job.  Remember, the Department of Justice both because of its doctrine, its opinion that a president can never be indicted and frankly because of the attorney general`s memo that says a president can`t commit obstruction of justice by definition cannot hold the president accountable.

MELBER:  Right.

NADLER:  The only institution that can hold the president accountable is Congress.  And we have a constitutional responsibility to do that and the constitution and the public depend on to us do that.

And that`s why it is important for the public welfare that all this information be shared with Congress as it has been in every previous instance.

MELBER:  Well, it`s interesting to hear you put it that way because when we had the president`s lawyer, Mr. Sekulow, on, we had that exchange.  And he talked about that other law sunset.

But we went back and forth on the question well, the constitution didn`t sunset.  I want to read another thing to you and I`ll let you continue.  Mr. Chair, we read your letters with great interest and we observe that in one that you wrote to the DOJ before the Mueller report come out, you referred to basically the declination decisions, you referred to the idea that basically there is a question about whether Mueller tells Barr, who he charged and didn`t charge and then do you guys learn about that.

So I want to get on the record tonight having you here, in your view, has Barr satisfied that as he relayed that to you?  Should he, a list of people who were not charged?

NADLER:  Well, he certainly hasn`t relayed that to us.  And yes, that is a part of the regulation, as part of the minimal thing that he has to tell Congress.  He can tell Congress a lot more, obviously.

But again, remember the key issue here.  The key issue is that the Mueller investigation took 22 months.  Barr summarized it or issued his outline of it after four days.

He is an interested party.  He`s a political appointee of the president.  And we cannot trust the disinterestedness of his analysis.

And to protect the public and to protect the rule of law, we must have this information.  We must have the entire Mueller report and the underlying documents.

MELBER:  Right.

NADLER:  It`s as simple as that.

MELBER:  And lastly, before I let you go, I want to play a little bit into our way back machine.  We talk a lot about the history and what does it teach.  This is something we found where you were talking about a situation in the Starr example where they had shipped over, as you are demanding now, all of the evidence.

And then there was a debate over the timing over what Congress might redact.  Let`s take a look.


NADLER:  This was a rush over the weekend and what was the rush?  There was certainly not enough time even to discuss adequately the proposed redactions.  For example, the Democratic staff proposed 27 redactions that the Republican staff didn`t agree to.


MELBER:  In your view, what is important about that example?  That was a debate about both timing, you used the word rushed, and who makes the redactions in that instance, Congress?

NADLER:  No, it`s a more fundamental debate.  It`s being used hypocritically by the White House now to say, hey, haven`t you changed your mind?  And in those days you wanted redactions, now you don`t.

Then the entire 445-page Starr report had been shipped over to Congress, with all the supporting documentation.  Congress had everything.  And the question was, how much of that was going to be made public and what had to be redacted to protect individuals or whatever in terms of the public.

But Congress had everything.  And Congress was going to make that decision.  We are demanding the same thing.  We are demanding that Congress get all this material and Congress can decide --

MELBER:  Right.

NADLER:  -- if any of it has to be withheld.

MELBER:  Well, when you put it like that --

NADLER:  That had already been done so it wasn`t the equivalent discussion.

MELBER:  Right.  When you put it like that, Mr. Chairman, it makes it sound like, OK, Congress can make that decision again.  And if the report is so good for the president, why are his appointees fighting so hard to redact it?

NADLER:  Well, that`s exactly right.  If the report is -- if you want to be very cynical about it, if the report is very good for the president, they`ll release it.  They`ll release it to Congress and they`ll release it publicly.

If the report is very bad for the president, they won`t do that.  They will try to hide it.  And we know that there are things that -- we know because Barr said so, that there were negative actions, criminal actions that the public doesn`t know about cited in Mueller`s report.

We know that Mueller did not make a recommendation as to whether the obstruction of justice rose to a criminal level or not.  Barr made that.  And that`s not his decision to make.

But again, 20 years ago, all the entire report and all the material was given to Congress.  That`s what we are asking for now.

MELBER:  Chairman Nadler, as you prepare to embark on the rest of this legal sparring and issuing as you say, the vote to authorize subpoenas tomorrow, I really appreciate you coming on THE BEAT to share your views tonight.

NADLER:  Well, thank you for having me.

MELBER:  Thank you, sir.

We turn now for reaction to Washington Bureau Chief of "Mother Jones", David Corn.  David, what jumps out to you about both what the arguments the chairman makes and what it means to have the Democrats moving forward on a subpoena tomorrow?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Well, I think the subpoena issue will probably work itself out in some way over the course of the next few weeks.  I mean if they have to rely on the subpoena, it could end up going to the court system, all the way up to the Supreme Court if the White House and Bill Barr just say no and refuse it.

To me, some -- an interesting point here is whether or not there are redactions, whether Barr tries to redact portions of this either for legitimate or illegitimate reasons.  The argument that Congress should see all of it so they can evaluate the redactions is, to me, really important.

And that -- you know you talk about checks and balances and the vetting process here.  And making sure that Barr`s not doing anything under the table.  Because there is a lot of reasons to be suspicious of his role in all this.

Being able to get eyes on the full report and look at the grand jury material, look at the classified material, even if in some sort of classified setting, I think is key if there are significant redactions.

MELBER:  Take a listen to what Donald Trump said outlining his defense on all this today.


TRUMP:  Well, I think it`s ridiculous.  And the attorney general now and the deputy attorney general ruled no obstruction.  They said no obstruction.

And so there is no collusion.  There is no obstruction.  And now we`re going to start this process all over again, I think it`s a disgrace.


MELBER:  Do you see any tells there in the way he`s outlining his legal defense?

CORN:  Everything with Trump is a tell in a way.  I mean he said not too long ago that he thought the report should just be released.

And now he`s not in favor of that.  Why?  You know, does he know what`s in it?  Does he -- or is he just scared about what`s in it?

The bottom line here is that whether there was collusion or not, he engaged in very suspicious activity during the campaign.

MELBER:  There was not chargeable conspiracy.

CORN:  Right, whether there was a conspiracy or criminal conspiracy or not, direct collusion, whatever you want to call it, he still engaged in very suspicious activity and denying a Russian attack was underway when it was underway, and having key people in the campaign interacting with Russians while the attack was underway.

So that`s really -- if there is no direct conspiracy, those are the things that presumably Mueller investigated, if not, Congress still should do that because that`s what the American public deserves more answers than Trump has been willing to provide.

MELBER:  Well, we had the judiciary chairman driving this fight and then breaking some news tonight and David Corn with expert reaction.  Thank you as always, sir.

CORN:  Sure thing, Ari.

MELBER:  Appreciate it.  Now, coming up, Donald Trump retreating on a key policy issue of Obamacare which, of course, tees it up for the next presidential election.  Senator Angus King on THE BEAT tonight.

And Democrats authorizing subpoenas separately into the White House security clearance saga, Jared Kushner also making a rare public appearance on "Fox News".


LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS:  Do you pose a grave national security concern to the country, Jared Kushner?


MELBER:  We`ll bring you that answer and a lot more.  Michael Cohen`s lawyer is also speaking out tonight on THE BEAT.  His first T.V. interview since the Mueller probe ended.  We`re going to get into a lot of it.

And then later, some developments that will show you where 2020 is headed.  We have the metrics that may be the key to the race.  All that ahead.

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


MELBER:  A story impacting millions of Americans tonight.  President Trump is backpedaling on Obamacare and even pulling out the rug beneath his own advisers.

The president says he actually won`t push for a vote that would scrap Obamacare until after 2020 which, of course, guarantees healthcare will be a big issue in the election just like it was in 2018 when it was perceived to help Democrats.

All of this comes days after Trump had signaled that he did want to get rid of Obamacare soon.  And he set out his advisors to defend a broad legal attack on this law.


Can you guarantee that if you succeed in court that all of those tens of millions of people will have health coverage guaranteed because of Obamacare will not lose their coverage?



MELBER:  That quick yes, it turns out to be impossible to guarantee.  Because the Trump administration has not even introduced a plan, which is what you need under any kind of guarantee.

Now, as for the legal attack, two Republican state attorneys general also breaking with the president saying that as a legal matter, the courts Should preserve the current law.

I am joined now by Maine`s Independent Senator, Angus King, who serves also on the Intelligence Committee which is much in the news these days.  Thanks for joining me.

What do you make of the president changing gears on Obamacare?

ANGUS KING (I), MAINE, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Well, it`s political and policy malpractice, Ari.  Number one, he`s talking about well, he`s not going to give us a plan, but the Department of Justice is still in court asking the judicial system to declare the whole law unconstitutional and throw the whole thing out.

So that`s the play right now is they want to eliminate the Affordable Care Act entirely and the admission today is we don`t have a plan for what to do.

And what really bothers me about this, this isn`t a political issue.  This is a people issue.  I`ve got 70,000 people in Maine on the Obamacare exchanges.  I got another 70,000 who are about to become eligible for Medicaid expansion.  That`s a lot of people in my state.

These are real lives at stake.  And for them to, for him to now say, well, we`re going to have this beautiful, wonderful plan, it`s going to lower premiums and lower deductibles, but I will tell you what it is after the election.

Ari, I`m old enough to remember Richard Nixon`s secret plan to end the Vietnam War.  The Vietnam War ended seven years after his election.  I don`t buy this secret invisible plan.  I don`t see it now.

MELBER:  Senator, I`m old enough to remember studying Richard Nixon in school.

KING:  Yes.  Well, thank you for that.

MELBER:  But I take your point about this kind of kick the can down the road promises.  You said this affects real people.  We don`t usually bring up people`s medical conditions but since you brought it up on behalf of the law, I thought that was quite interesting.

And I want to share this in case you want to expand upon.  I am reading from something you wrote where you said if it weren`t for insurance and the ACA and a great team of doctors, I`m not sure I`d have this story to tell, speaking about your battle with cancer.

Walk us through why as a politician that you wanted to share that, what that means to you?

KING:  Well, because insurance saves lives.  And I`ve actually had two brushes with cancer in my life.  The first one was about 40 years ago.  And because I had insurance that happened to have as a part of it, a free check-up.

I went in for my free check-up.  They discovered I had something called malignant melanoma.  I had surgery and here I am, 44 years later.

A very similar thing happened on a routine check-up and discovered that I had prostate cancer.  If I hadn`t had those check-ups -- which by the way, free check-ups are part of the Affordable Care Act.  If I hadn`t had those check-ups, I wouldn`t be here.

I mean cancer is a treatable disease but only if it`s caught in time.  And there are numerous studies and statistics that show that the more people who have insurance, you cut premature mortality.  And this is very real to me and it`s real to my people in Maine.

MELBER:  Yes.  And you are keeping it real.  I mean this is very important for us to remember what goes on in that building where you are, where you exert this national legislative power affects people`s lives as you say it, if in your view, the president is basically being political about Obamacare or healthcare, ACA, whatever you want to call it, that is long ways from the obligation to look after people`s public health and safety.

While I have you, as I mentioned on intelligence, I did want to get your response on another big issue.  Take a listen to Jared Kushner here who has been right in the bullseye of a nepotistic national security clearance scandal that now has widened over two dozen Trump aides.  Take a listen.


JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We got a lot of crazy accusations like that we colluded with Russia.  I complied with all the different investigations, whether it be the Senate, the House, the special counsel.  I`ve sat for nearly 20 hours of interviews with them.


MELBER:  What is your view of the security clearance issue, do you see it as over with regard to him?  He makes the point that he did cooperate lawfully.  The probe ended without any charge against him or his family or anything like that.  Go ahead.

KING:  Well, that`s apples and oranges.  The problem with his security clearance as I understand it was contact with foreign governments.  It may not have had anything to do with Russia.

The same thing -- here`s the problem, Ari.  We`re not looking -- when you do a security clearance, it`s very unlikely that you`re going to find somebody who is a spy.

What you are looking for is something in their personal life, a great deal of debt, a marital infidelity, something that can be used or contact with foreign governments or officials.  Any of which can be used to blackmail the person and turn them into an agent.

That`s what the security process looks at.  And we have learned over the weekend that from a career professional that 25 people in this White House basically they overrode the recommendations of the professionals, gave out the security clearances anyway.

And listen, I met with a group of bankers today.  Banks all over the country are being -- they try -- they`re being attacked all the time by hackers and the White House is, you know, the central place to try to attack our country.

There was just someone arrested at Mar-a-Lago with malware on a thumb drive.  So this is not an insignificant concern.  And I heard this morning, somebody said, well, it was a custodian.  A custodian might find things in the trash can or see something on the desk that they take a picture of.

The point is this is the highest level of national security in our country at the White House.  And it`s not something to be just blown by because you like the person or they`re nice guys, or they worked in your campaign. 

ARI MELBER, ANCHOR, MSNBC:  Right.  Well you lay out the stakes pretty well and I know that`s a big issue on the Intelligence Committee.  Senator Angus King, thanks for coming on "The Beat" tonight, sir. 

KING:  Thanks, Ari. Always good to be with you. 

MELBER:  Appreciate it. We have a lot more in the show, including what Michael Cohen plans to do about this Mueller report.  His legal adviser, Lanny Davis, is here tonight. 

But first, Jared and Ivanka have some big problems including, according to the numbers, likeability, when we`re back in 30 seconds. 


MELBER:  The House Oversight Committee has voting for subpoenas to get more information on this White House security clearance debacle.  Chairman Cummings may even subpoena Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. 

Kushner has been breaking his silence.  You may know he`s rarely heard from but he went on Fox News to address the worries about this White House whistleblower and concerns about his security clearance calling some of the objections "crazy." 

He was of course tapped by his own father in law as a senior White House aide, his responsibilities range.  This goes well beyond the intelligence stuff.  There`s Mideast peace, there`s solving the opioid epidemic, there is fixing the way a federal government works. 

Kushner, though, does most of these things outside of the media spotlight.  We do know that he has spoken with Miller`s team.  We don`t know if he or his wife are named anywhere in the Mueller report, as I was just discussing with the senator.  They maybe in the clear on any of that stuff.  But now there are reports about how they fair, these big family members in the White House, in public opinion. 

The New York Times obtained something called "E-score" polling with numbers on both of them and it measures basically features of likeability to figure out which personalities appeal to different audiences and which do not, "The Times" writes.  And 12% of people say Ivanka has strong positive appeal.  Jared, falling to a low 6% is strong, positive, 36% say strong negative. 

The highest ratings come on things that are subjective, but again, this is polling the matters in politics.  People finding him to be in their view, insincere, creepy, and even, this is a weird one -- overexposed because he doesn`t do a lot of interviews.  Someone may have missed the whole report though. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We got there with flying colors because he believes that a lot of other people believe both conservative and liberal and those in the middle Jared Kushner - Jared.

  He did not want me to do that because I saw this beautiful line and he didn`t want it but other people did.  They insisted that I do it and it was really. 


MELBER:  I am joined by Jackie Alemany, author of "The Washington Post`s" "Power Up newsletter, and Vicky Ward, investigative reporter and the author of the right book for this discussion. "Kushner Inc." all about both of them.  Nice to see both you. 



MELBER:  Absolutely. Vicky, does it surprise you to see such a negative set of associations that the public has with these two? 

WARD:  Well, I think it`s sort of the beginning of the unmasking, right, of this couple.  When they went into the administration.  I think the perception of them was very different, right?  Everyone hope that they were going to be a moderating influence and sort of moral center. 

But what`s interesting about these figures, and by the way, the President will really pay attention to this, but I know because I`ve been in private meetings with him before he went into office.  He really pays attention to things like these. 

MELBER:  This kind of stuff? 

WARD:  Yes, he really does. 

MELBER:  This kind of stuff he follows? 

WARD:  He used to brag about his key ratings all the time.  Absolutely.  So I think what`s really interesting, and the central theme of my book is about how they`re not what they seem, they`re in disguise and that`s what`s made them so dangerous.  And it seems like the disguise is coming off, right? 

MELBER:  The mask is falling. 

WARD:  The mask is falling. 

MELBER:  Why? 

WARD:  Well, Exhibit A was last night, if ever -- when Jared gave the interview to Laura Ingraham, she did the country unintentionally, I think a great public service with that interview.  The idea that he would call a 400-page the mother report nonsense, the idea that he would laugh about the idea that that all our security agencies do not think that he should have a security clearance because of his conflicts of interest and because of his debts. 

MELBER:  Do think this -- to use a somewhat British term, this reasonable approach to the interview questions.  Is the mask falling because it`s not a good look? 

WARD:  I think it`s a terrible look.  I mean, I think whoever had five him to go and do that interview on the same day that Congress was saying that they were going to issue subpoenas into his security clearance should be fired. 

And that is a good -- a classic example of Jared`s appalling judgment. 

MELBER:  So Jackie, you hear Vicky saying that this is about the mask falling.  Or to paraphrase, you know, the rapper future who`s very knowledgeable about Trump and White House issues -- mask off. 

The references made to the laughter in the interview, let`s play it.  So everyone`s on the same page here was the Jared Kushner clip. 


JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP:  I can`t comment for the White House`s process.  I`ve been accused of all different types of things and all of those things have turned out to be false.  When I came to Washington, I had a very successful business career. 

LAURA INGRAHAM, TELEVISION AND RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Do you pose a grave national security concern to the country Jared Kushner? 

KUSHNER:  Because of the President`s leadership, the world is safer today. 


MELBER:  What is your assessment of that and the argument that putting aside style, these individuals have not been wrapped up in problems in the Mueller report, as far as we know this far.  They haven`t been charged, as I say, and that they`re trying to get back on a different footing. 

ALEMANY:  Well, I think Vicky is exactly right.  Jared`s  response to Laura Ingraham who might as well be an extension of the White House, in terms of providing a defense for a lot of members of the administration was really telling, the laughing and response to, you know, serving a potentially acting as a national security threat is a response, I think that indicates this idea that Jared and Ivanka, you know, view themselves in a different light. 

That they, you know, they do not have to adhere to the same standards as the rest of the administration and the rest of the America, quite frankly.  And I think what you saw Jared Kushner doing is utilizing bars summary of the Mueller report in an exploitative way that`s similar to the way that the President has been using it.  Which is, using it as a blanket excuse to exonerate himself from a lot of different issues that cropped up before the Mueller report, and was even in the conversation, right? 

And national -- you know, the issue of security clearances has been written about since 2017. And it again, exemplary of how Jared and Ivanka are, you know, have a different set of standards that the President treats them by and that they, you know, treat themselves by in this White House. 

MELBER:  Now, Vicky, I heard you wanted to go through a few more of the of the "E-score" polling?  Is that right? 

WARD:  Do it right, give me. 

MELBER:`  Your book is out, well -- on the rating of Kushner as "exciting" 1%, "glamorous" 1%, "emotional," all human beings have emotions, but only 1% there.  What does that tell you? 

WARD:  Yes, well, I mean, he`s famous for that, right, for having this very calm -- I think Michael Cohen in  my book is quoted as saying, "He is flatter than an EKG," you know, flat line.  You know, but in a way, that`s all a mask.  I mean, what I show in the book that there are certain things that Jared can get really worked up about.  I mean, one of them was -- Trump needed to fire James Comey when it was convenient for Jared. 

MELBER:  Do you think there will be evidence of that in the Mueller report based on your reporting? 

WARD:  I think there should be. 

MELBER:  You said there should be. 

WARD:  Whether there will be. 

MELBER:  But I guess the question is whether Mueller`s investigators could report as well as you if you have it. 

WARD:  Exactly, correct. 

MELBER:  But we don`t know.  And we always like to say around here, Jackie and Vicki, what we don`t, we don`t know.  My thanks to both of you for being in this discussion. 

WARD:  Thank you. 

ALEMANY:  Thanks, Ari. 

MELBER:  Thank you.  Now up ahead, as promised Michael Cohen is, I can tell you tonight, still working with the New York Feds.  What does Cohen think about a Mueller report and the findings that have been discussed all week.  And what about possible redactions from Attorney General Barr that could affect Cohen. 

I can tell you, Michael Cohen`s legal adviser, Lanny Davis here to answer all next. 


MELBER:  Michael Cohen has not spoken publicly since the end of the Mueller probe and his legal team has been quite tight lipped.  His adviser Lanny Davis, no stranger to the camera, when warranted, has yet to give a single television interview, until tonight.  I`m happy to say, Mr. Lanny Davis is with me exclusively.  His client, Michael Cohen could be central to Mueller`s final report. 

Think about it like this.  We now know Cohen was the next to last person to be charged in the entire probe back in November for lying to Congress.  It was two months later that Roger Stone was the last person charged in the probe.  We also know Cohen`s involvement with Trump Tower Moscow -- that deal during the campaign did not ultimately trigger any conspiracy charges by Mueller.  We do not know if any other leads provided by Cohen could lead to charges in other open cases.  Lanny Davis is my guest tonight.  Thanks for being here. 


MELBER:  When you look at the end of this probe, was your client Michael Cohen?  And were you surprised that Mueller finished without finding a chargeable conspiracy? 

DAVIS:  A bit surprised that he allowed Mr. Barr to misstate his report without his getting -- his own characterizations at first.  That`s what I would have advised him.  The misstatement of Mr. Barr, which is most disappointing for a lawyer with a good reputation, is no, there was no exoneration.  Indeed, the exact sentence quoted by Mr. bar was that, "There was no exoneration on obstruction." 

MELBER:  On obstruction. 

DAVIS:  And we don`t know what the level of proof necessary to at least accuse the President of United States of the crime of colluding with a foreign government. 

MELBER:  Well, let me push you on that. 

DAVIS:  And that is a high standard, so we don`t exactly know exactly know... 

MELBER:  It`s certainly a high standard, but let me push you on that for our learning.  You`ve been very close to this and we`ve relied on your legal expertise.  If a conspiracy involve multiple individuals by definition. 

DAVIS:  Correct. 

MELBER:  .it would be possible had Mueller found chargeable evidence for conspiracy, to charge other multiple people without the sitting President. 

DAVIS:  Well, we`re going to have to wait for me to answer your question, Ari, as much as you know, I hate to do this.  I believe Michael Cohen has a story to tell about what he told Mr. Mueller that leads to strong inferences of knowledge about the Trump Tower meeting, which was by definition, collusion. 

MELBER:  Does Mr. Cohen Look at all this, as I mentioned him and Mr. Stone being the last people charged.  Does he feel like with all the other information that`s come out about other individuals, that in a sense, he`s holding the short stick here? 

DAVIS:  Yes.  And let me give you three quick answers.  One, it`s very rare that somebody volunteers to testify before Congress, laying out documentary evidence of crimes by the President of the United States.  The writing of the $35,000 check signed by Donald Trump is evidence of a crime of conspiracy to violate, the very crime that the federal prosecutors said was directed by President Trump. 

Second, the book that was just published about that testimony.  He lays out the documentation behind Mr. Cohen`s testimony of crimes by the President of United States before and after his presidency. 

And finally his son, along with Mr. Weisselberg, the Chief Accounting Officer -- Chief Financial Officer, excuse me, signed a check in March of 2017.  Mr. Trump signed it eight months into his presidency for $35,000.00.  A payment for a hush money under a criminal conspiracy.  Donald Jr. is not President. 

Now there was Mr. Weisselberg.  Why have they not been indicted?  They signed the check that was a part of. 

MELBER:  Do you think those are still. 

DAVIS:  .implementation with a criminal conspiracy. 

MELBER:  Do you think from your cooperation those are open issues in SDNY? 

DAVIS:  There is no question that they are open issues.  Mr. Cohen is fully cooperating with the Southern District of New York and is offering more information that he`s now discovered when he`s retrieved back his cell phones and other documents from the Southern District.  Working with Congress. 

MELBER:  Are you suggesting that additional evidence beyond what he laid out in his congressional testimony? 

DAVIS:  That is correct and he`s also have additional information for the Southern District involving criminal behavior that needs to be looked into. 

MELBER:  Very interesting.  Lanny, let me also. 

DAVIS:  So we`ll just have to see. 

MELBER:  Let me get you on Mr. Barr, a fellow member of the Bar like yourself in Washington, a rarefied group.  I know you all know each other to some degree.  He has language that many people are intrigued by in the latest letter about what he`d hold back. 

He says he would hold back information impacting peripheral third parties in the Mueller report.  Lanny, number one, do you think that could include Michael Cohen? And number two, if so, would you or your clients say that you want to waive any attempt by Mr. Barr to redact things involved in Mr. Cohen in the final report by Mueller? 

DAVIS:  I have to consult with my client to answer your question about my legal advice to Mr. Cohen.  But I would say that since Mr. Cohen has pled guilty to a crime that prosecutor says was directed and controlled by the now President of United States, who just wrote a hush money payment, and on national television, we saw his signature from his personal account.  I would say that Mr. Barr has a question he should answer. 

Why hasn`t Mr. Trump`s son and his Chief Financial Officer been indicted for writing those hush money payments and the cover up scheme that had Michael Cohen writing the check for hush money for Miss Daniels rather than Mr. Trump. 

MELBER:  Well, you raised such a big question and like a good lawyer, I suppose that`s what you`re good at, right?  The question you raised is really burning here, which is, given the financial documented evidence that you mentioned, if it was a crime, as Mr. Cohen confessed an SDNY charge.  What was the difference at all between Donald Trump Junior`s role and Mr. Cohen`s role? 

They both would be seeming to be misleading about the funds for the beneficiary than candidate Trump. 

Davis:  Well, that is a question that mystifies me that the American mainstream media isn`t asking.  We put up a check.  A President of United States committing a crime, while President and not one Republican during the hearing of Michael Cohen asked about that check. 

Now Don Jr., who`s not President, no problem indicting him.  Mr. Weisselberg was given immunity while Mr. Cohen was forced to plead guilty for doing what Donald Trump told him to do with Mr. Weisselberg.  Is that a disparity of justice here? 

We are working with the Southern District.  We hope that they will move as aggressively in uncovering these crimes that Michael Cohen is presenting them with evidence of, so that at least the American people get to know the truth about the President of the United States who not only committed fraud and other crimes before he became President. 

But again, I keep repeating with total mystification.  He wrote a check while he was President implementing a criminal hush money scheme involving an affair with an adult film star.  And the government, the prosecutor said he ordered Michael Cohen to pay that money to Miss Daniels, and it was part of a cover up because he would make the payment not Trump, three days before the election.  There`s no question there was political motivation, making it a crime. 

MELBER:  Well, and as you say, the money ran through the Trump Organization as mis-described corporate funds, the jurisdictions in New York, we will keep reporting on that.  That`s why we try to go back to the sources on both sides of these things.  Lanny Davis, thank you.  I will also mention this in your legal work, you are the author of the book, "The Unmaking of the President 2016."  Our thanks to Lanny and we will be right back. 


MELBER:  Some Democratic presidential candidates are revealing for the first time the amount of money they have raised over the first few months of the year of the first quarter.  And these are big clues into where we`re headed.  Senator Sanders topping the list with 18 million.  Kamala Harris showing she is seen by many as a front runner with 12 million.  And Mayor Pete Buttigieg stacking seven M`s, as they say in the primary season. 

I will note that other democratic campaigns have yet to release the results so we don`t have them.  When we get them we`ll show them to you.  The President meanwhile, has not revealed his fundraising hall but we can tell you by the end of 2018, his reelection campaign had spent nearly half of the money he raised, including $6 million on, maybe not a surprise, legal fees. 

I also want to tell you why you followed 2020 that`s several contenders are back on MSNBC tonight.  Kirsten Gillibrand on "Hardball" and Julian Castro with Rachel Maddow later tonight, so don`t miss that.  And we`ll be back with one more thing. 


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  We heard directly from Chairman Jerry Nadler, tomorrow, we`ll be watching the big vote on his Committee`s potential subpoenas for the full Mueller report, all that up ahead.

But don`t go anywhere.  Right now, HARDBALL is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The democrats` big weapon.  Let`s play HARDBALL.