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New Biden video addresses his critics. TRANSCRIPT: 4/3/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Natasha Bertrand, Christina Greer, Hakeem Jeffries, Eleanor Clift,Leah Wright Rigueur

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  So subscribe to The Chuck ToddCast from MEET THE PRESS wherever you get your podcast.  For steps, it's already up so hurry up and get it.

That's all for tonight.  We'll be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

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

ARI MELBER., MSNBC HOST:  I have it on.

TODD:  -- you were in my morning meeting.  First of all, thank you on that.

MELBER:  Wait.  Before we go to the morning meeting.

TODD:  Yes.

MELBER:  I have the Chuck Toddcast up on.  I have it up right now.  The Chuck Toddcast, a portman to a podcast.  And you can subscribe right here.  Hit the button.

TODD:  Now, there it is.  It's that easy.  Ari, right here


TODD:  So I had this whole idea, I said we should do a parody of the president and Shaggy and it wasn't me.  And everybody said, "Ari does that on, too.  All the time."  I'm like, thank you, Ari.  It wasn't me.  There's always room for more Shaggy.

MELBER:  I love Shaggy working with Sting.  And I would love Shaggy working with you.

TODD:  I mean if you think about it.  Hey, the economy, it's wasn't me, it's the fed.  Hey, health care, wasn't me, it's McConnell.  Hey, you know.  Shaggy should be his chief political advisor these days, I think.

MELBER:  I don't know if he follows either of us on Twitter, but I will try to reach out to Shaggy and see if we can get this collabo done by the end of the week.  It will be very 2019, Chuck.

TIDD:  I have a feeling he now knows that we're talking about him.

MELBER:  And we're going to follow the Toddcast as well.  Thank you, Chuck Todd.

Let me tell everyone what we have in tonight's show because there are a lot of different things going on.   First of all, a brand new video that everyone is talking about in politics.

Joe Biden, the former vice president, speaking out on the criticism he's received this week and he is now announcing in his own words, that he says he'll be "more careful of personal space with women criticizing encounters that they said made them feel uncomfortable."  We're going to get into that and show you the video and other views and criticism of him later in the show.

Also, something we've been waiting to do tonight, we're going to do it.  A BEAT special report on what history teaches about this Mueller report and whether or not there are legal precedents to make it public.

It might be the biggest fight in Washington this month if not this year.  So I'm going to lay in all of that so you'll understand where we think we're headed.

But we begin the with the escalation in the related fight with Democrats pushing forward to get the Mueller report.  They have now voted formally to subpoena it if Attorney General Bill Barr doesn't hand it over.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  I will give him time to change his mind, but if we cannot reach an accommodation, then we will have no choice but to issue subpoenas for these materials.


MELBER:  Judiciary Chair Nadler who we spoke with on this broadcast last night, saying today that basically, he wants to work on this in a negotiated way.  So he's providing time to the attorney general before they make good on what they did today.

So they have the authority, the power to move forward on the subpoena.  They just haven't issued it yet.  Nadler also insisting he doesn't see a middle ground on this.  He needs, the Congress needs the full report, no redactions, or they will take this to court.


REPORTER:  Are you willing to negotiate on any middle ground in terms of redactions --


REPORTER:  -- of the Mueller -- you're not?

NADLER:  No.  The committee must see everything.  Obviously, some material will have to be redacted before it's released to the public to protect privacy, to protect the various rights.  But the committee is entitled and must see all the material.


MELBER:  That's not all.  The chairman of the Judiciary Committee moving forward on subpoenas for the people you see right here, including people who are known to be close to Trump at critical moments like Hope Hicks and Steve Bannon.

So with this report currently hidden both from Congress and the public, we are also seeing a shift in how people view what Mueller has done.  Now, I want to be clear, this is an online poll from "Lawfare", not NBC polling.

But it is interesting, they looked at what the views were before Mueller's report was out, where 19 percent of Republicans said they had confidence in Mueller's fairness and objectivity.  More than 60 percent of Democrats said they did have that kind of confidence.

And now with the reports of what's in the report, although we haven't seen it yet, look at this shift.  Fifty-five percent of Republicans now have confidence in Mueller apparently buoyed by Barr's description of what he found and Democrats dropping off a little bit.

I will note the swing is larger among Republicans than Democrats.  It's not clear what everyone will think when we actually see the findings in the full report.  House Democrats are turning up the heat, though, and they're moving ahead with related investigations, including Trump's inaugural committee which spent famously more than most others, $100 million.

The House Intel Committee now looking to interview an inaugural organizer named Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.  She also was an advisor to the first lady.

Now, she's been subpoenaed relatedly in a federal grand jury case in Manhattan and has also spoken with the feds in New York since last fall.  All of this, of course, tees off the investigation into Michael Cohen.

In a moment, we will be joined by New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries who serves on the Judiciary Committee and works with Nancy Pelosi in leadership so a lot to get to.

But I want to begin with our panelist Jason Johnson, politics editor for "Theroot".  Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham.  And Natasha Bertrand, staffer writer for "The Atlantic" and an MSNBC contributor who also is joining, we should note, "Politico" as a national security correspondent.  Congratulations.


MELBER:  You'll get the first question along with your apparent promotion.  What does it mean that Chairman Nadler is not trying to preserve any perception of waiting or going slow or negotiating in that way?  He's clearly trying to show the DOJ he means business.

BERTRAND:  Yes.  I think that it's very typical Nadler, right.  He's never been one to kind of beat around the bush on this.  He's very straightforward.  He wants answers.  He wants to see the full Mueller report.

Him and the rest of the committee are very perplexed as to why Bill Barr would have come out and written this four-page summary before even releasing the report itself to Congress.  He thinks that that gave Trump administration an unnecessary head start and has allowed them to shape the narrative here.

And so they are also pointing to the president, I think, and this is I think where Nadler is drawing a bit of inspiration, that Republicans sat during the 115th Congress in which they demanded documents about the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, about the ongoing Russia investigation from the Justice Department.  And in many cases actually got those documents.

So Nadler now is playing the same kind of hardball with the DOJ that the Republicans played last year and before, and he believes and the House Intelligence Committee believes this, too, that they are entitled to a similar, if not greater level of transparency given the urgency of this report that the Republicans were with regard to the origins of the Russia investigation.

MELBER:  Jason?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOTS.COM:  Look, I'm just glad that the Democrats are showing some backbone.  I mean it seemed for a long time we were getting this sort of like, all right, we need it by tomorrow, well, maybe not tomorrow, maybe later, well, maybe when you show up.

And so it's good that they finally sort of pulled out the sort of Damocles.  If you don't do this, we're going to send a subpoena.  But let's the be honest, the subpoena, unless there is something added to it about timeliness, you can still issue a subpoena and Barr can still say, "It's going to take me weeks, it's going to take me a couple of days."

So there needs to be a push above and beyond just the subpoena on how fast you want this to come across.  And also, I think this is a reflection of another communication screw up by the Trump administration.

If they were smart, they could have taken the Mueller report and put it in a room like TPP, and said, look everybody can go see it.  We're just not going to release the public.  You can go in there.  Don't take pictures, don't take notes.

So it is mismanagement.  There is a public good to this, but I hope this moves quickly because a subpoena will not be enough to get this out.

CHRISTINA GREER, LAW PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  Well, I mean here's the thing.  I think that if nothing else the committee, the Judiciary Committee, must see the full report.

I wrote a book that was roughly 200 pages.  If someone tried to summarize my book in four pages, it would be grossly inadequate and clearly not hit the point.

And so I think that is the crux of the argument.  I do believe that there should be some timeliness.  But I mean Mueller took his dear sweet time.  I think the American public, the Democrats and Republicans actually want to move forward in some capacity.

Trump obviously says this is the Democrats constantly picking at me.  The Democrats are saying you're more corrupt than anyone we've ever seen so we constantly have to go after you.

But if we can have respected, elected officials from a particular committee, not all 538 members of Congress looking at the report necessarily right now, but if we could have the members of the committee looking at the full report and making their assessment, I think the American public on both sides of the aisle would feel a lot more comfortable.

MELBER:  Natasha, on that point, the chairman has been making a lot of news with his stance.  We spoke with him last night.  Take a listen to Jerry Nadler on THE BEAT last night.


NADLER:  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 that he wanted.  He tried to fire Mueller.  He clearly wanted -- and he said he wanted an attorney general who would be his Roy Cohn who would protect him personally.


MELBER:  Natasha, briefly on that, what is the point the Democrats are trying to make on Barr?

BERTRAND:  That he's been conflicted from the beginning, which I think most people who are -- most Democrats anyway would definitely agree with Nadler there, the 20-page, 19-page memo that he wrote last July that was completely unsolicited was all about the obstruction inquiry, right.

So it's not necessarily surprising that he would have come to this conclusion in the two-day period that he had to read over Mueller's report.  But I think another person that's kind of escaped scrutiny here is Rod Rosenstein.

Rod Rosenstein apparently consulted with Barr to determine whether or not the president obstructed justice when Rod Rosenstein actually wrote the memo that was used to justify Jim Comey's firing.  And so that obstruction -- clearing the president of obstruction of justice can also be a little self-serving for Rod Rosenstein because he is a witness in that aspect of this inquiry.

And so you have two highly conflicted people here who are making a very serious judgment based on findings from an investigation that was supposed to be apolitical, but it went to two political appointees to make this -- to draw this decision.

MELBER:  I'm asking the panel to stay with me.  We're going to Hakeem Jeffries in general.  We also have breaking news.  It's just been handed to me.

The Democratic Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee is now issuing a formal request, and I've just got it here in our newsroom moments ago, for six years of Donald Trump's tax returns.  This is a written request to the IRS commissioner.  It is a formal request going to the Treasury Department.

And it uses a law that doesn't require the Senate or Republicans or remaining vote.  This is something that has been discussed for a long time because it is a power vested in the House and it appears tonight that the Democrats have decided to pick this fight, even as everything else is going on, breaking news.

I'm thrilled that we have a member of leadership, New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus who serves on the Judiciary Committee.

What does it mean, Congressman, that the Democrats are moving forward with this tonight?  Is this the first you're hearing about it or is this something you guys have been planning to unroll today?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS:  Well, this has been within the bailiwick of Chairman Richey Neal.  And so this is something that has long been anticipated.  And it is part of our oversight responsibilities.

You know the House is a separate and co-equal branch of government.  We don't work for Donald Trump.  We work for the American people.

And so we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out of control executive branch.  We're going to take those oversight responsibilities seriously.

It's been a tradition in this country that every president since Richard Nixon has disclosed his taxes to the American people.  There's no reason why Donald Trump shouldn't do the same.  He's refused.  We are now taking this step to make sure that we have disclosure and transparency.

MELBER:  Did you know this was coming tonight?

JEFFRIES:  I didn't realize it was coming tonight.  I knew it was coming sooner rather than later.

MELBER:  That's interesting in and of itself for those of us who follow the news because it speaks to that it's truly breaking news.  And as you say, Congressman Neal, Chairman Neal has this authority.

We reported on election night the sources in the House saying this was something they wanted to do in a deliberate way.  They intended to do it but as you just said, Congressman, we didn't know when.

We just got the letter literally moments ago here after we started our broadcast.  I want to read from this.  For your analysis, you say this is the oversight power.  There are Republicans and other allies of the president who will say, well, tonight you're asking for more than just his personal tax returns, which is what candidates traditionally reveal.

Reading from the letter from your colleague, it's demanding six years of federal income tax returns for not only Donald J. Trump, but his revocable trust, DJT Holdings, DJT Holdings Management Member LLC, DTM Operations, don't even know what that is, LFB Acquisition Member Corp., LFB Acquisition LLC, Lamington Farm Club, Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

Walk us through the Democrats' argument here that this law, which as I mentioned, has always existed, not new to the Trump era, should be justified for you to look as members of Congress at all of that material?

JEFFRIES:  Well, we're going to travel down a two-lane highway on behalf of the American people.  In one lane, we're going to continue to deal with kicks and table pocketbook issues, like lowering health care costs, strengthening the Affordable Care Act, and protecting people with pre- existing conditions, particularly given the assault on the Affordable Care Act that's taking place right now coming out of the Trump Justice Department.

In the second lane, we have a responsibility to make sure that we deal with waste, fraud, abuse, and the possible culture of corruption that is running rampant within the Trump administration coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as well.

And so all of these related entities could likely deal with Trump's personal tax returns and could be ways in which he has managed his taxes.  Some of this information has been brought to bear based on prior testimony that we've seen this year and in prior years and we'll see where this leads us.

MELBER:  I'm also curious before I bring back in the panel on what is clearly a hot story tonight, Congressman, do you believe that Speaker Pelosi is prepared to back up Chairman Neal if the Treasury, as they have indicated they may, if they refuse?

The law says very clearly that the chairman has this power for requesting the presidential or citizen tax returns and they're supposed to go over it in a private process.  Obviously, if you guys and Speaker Pelosi pushed forward on this and they say no, are you prepared to go to court and battle this out?  Are you prepared to be basically in court over both the Mueller report subpoena, which was issued today and this today?

JEFFRIES:  Well, that would be a decision that the speaker will make in consultation with Chairman Neal.  But we want to make sure the president and this administration does is comply with the law.

As you indicated, Ari, the law is very clear in this particular instance.  We are operating within those constructs, and we hope that the president and the administration will comply.  If they don't, that's why the Article 3 federal court system exists.

MELBER:  Congressman, stay with me.  I'm going to bring back in the whole panel.  Let's play what we just pulled on this breaking news which was the last statement we've seen was under oath to Congress of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin when pressed on this.  Let's take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (0:00:15):  Have you received any instruction or guidance of any kind about how to handle congressional requests for President Trump's tax returns?

STEVE MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY:  Based upon the request, we'll examine it and we will follow the law.  We will protect the president as we would protect any individual taxpayer.


MELBER:  Following the law would generally, Jason, mean handing it over.  The reference to protection made a lot of people think Mnuchin was laying down a flag, a marker.

JOHNSON:  Look, the committee has a right to say how many dollars you got.  They can ask that question.  They can ask it of the president and they should be able to get the information.

What I think is going to be key here is, remember, a lot of us also assumed that Mueller already have this information and it may have actually been in the Mueller report.  So this is also indicative of the Democrats thinking holistically.

Look, if you don't give us this report, we will pull apart every single strand of your life and your administration until we get what we need.  It might have been a lot easier if Barr had put this information out to the Democrats two and a half or five days ago, whenever the Mueller report came out.  Maybe this request doesn't come through.

MELBER:  Well, you're making the point that I was just discussing with the congressman that in a way, this may be linked to court battles.  You are already going to court to have a big fight over the underlying material in the Mueller report and whether the Congress as in its constitutional role to look at it.  So why not get it all done even if they're going to be -- they would probably be separate pieces of litigation.

JOHNSON:  Right.  And that's a smart idea.  And plus, it makes the Trump administration basically have to fight on two fronts, right.  You have to - - you can claim this is executive privilege.  You're saying this is presidential privilege especially when the committee has this right.

They have not shown that they are necessarily swift enough to engage in those battles on multiple levels.  And at some point, I think somebody in this administration is just going to fold and they're going to say, "Look, just take this because I actually think that the Trump administration will be more concerned about this president's taxes becoming public than the Mueller report."

MELBER:  But that's interesting when you put it that way.  Congressman, I want to read from something you recently wrote on the Internet that seems related.  You were addressing Donald Trump and you wrote, "Billionaire, but no tax returns.  Stable genius, but no grades.  Exonerated, but no #MuellerReport.  Party of health care, but no plan."  "The American people are being hustled", you wrote, "straight out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  #FACTS."

How much of this is about potentially embarrassing the president for not being as wealthy as he claims versus the more serious oversight of inspecting whether he has other debts, liabilities that matter to the government of the United States?

JEFFRIES:  Well, the most important thing, of course, is to figure out whether there is compromising information that would suggest that the president's interests are not solely related to what's best for the American people, but there are financial dealings that would present a conflict.

That's the reason why tax returns have traditionally been disclosed by president after president after president across the ideological spectrum, including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

So that fundamentally is what we need to see here.  The question, of course, that I was getting at is what is the president hiding on issue after issue after issue.  He says one thing, and then there's no underlying information to confirm it.

MELBER:  Well, isn't that -- I mean to point it, you said facts.  Isn't it just kind of straightforward -- it's the same issue that doubles back to the Mueller report, the breaking news tonight is Democrats for the first time and your party are using this new law to demand six years of the president's tax returns.

That's a big development for folks just turning on their T.V. coming home from work, at least on the East Coast.  But then you get to the more basic point that overlaps tax returns and the Mueller report, Congressman which is if you have nothing to hide, why are you hiding?

JEFFRIES:  Well, that's exactly right.  We got a four-page summary from a political appointee of Donald Trump when there is a 400-page report that the American people deserve to see.

And the subpoenas were authorized today because, at minimum, members of Congress who have the highest security clearance on behalf of the people that we serve, should be able to see the entirety of the report.

In part, because we need to figure out not just what happened, but why it happened, and how do we present this type of situation from happening moving forward in the best interest of avoiding another attack on our democracy.

MELBER:  Christina Greer, this would be a significant development tonight at any time with any president.  Most modern presidents, as we've noted, have released their individual tax returns.

GREER:  Or sold their grandfather's peanut farms just so it didn't look improper.

MELBER:  Because of the peanut conflict.  Well, look, this may not be popular to say.  Big peanut does have too much power.  Big peanut, the peanut farming lobby.

So you make a bipartisan point there.  I want to play for you the extra part because we can normalize and degrade down or we can remind ourselves of standards.  For any politician, I would hold any politician to their remarks.  We do it on this show.

Here is, over time, Donald Trump proclaiming that it would never come to this, that the House would never have to use this law because he was eventually going to release the returns.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Maybe I'm going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate.

If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely.


TRUMP:  It's none of your business.  You'll see it when I release.

You don't release your returns until the audit is complete.  When the audit is complete, I'll do it.  I will release my tax returns against my lawyer's wishes when she releases her 33,000 e-mails.

I mean I became president.  No, I don't think they care at all.


GREER:  So we know that Donald Trump has no plans of releasing his tax returns.  We know he's definitely afraid of whatever is in there.

We also have to break the American people into a few groups.  There's the base.  They don't care what's in the tax returns.  They don't care if he's been stealing from the American public.  They don't care if he's asking us for hundreds of billions of dollars to build a wall to nowhere.

Then there are some people who are in the middle of the road who are curious to just see how this does connect to the Mueller report.  I think what Congressman Jeffries laid out was really important, though.  The Democrats have to do two things at once.

On the one hand, they do have to fight this and they've already thrown down the gauntlet saying, yes, we are going to actually go the legal route through the House, which we can, to demand these tax returns.  Because there is something else going on that's making the American people -- half of the American people feel somewhat uncomfortable.

On the other hand, Democrats are going to town halls.  They're talking to their constituents and they do recognize that people care about health care.  They care about the economy.  They care about their jobs, whether or not they're going to be able to pay for their children's college fees.

So the two lanes that he talked about are very specific.  And I think the Democrats have to thread a very fine needle because the news every evening, the breaking news, cannot be just about Mueller and just about tax returns, just about Trump.

MELBER:  Right.  And just about oversight, even though they've only been in office here for three months with this power.

GREER:  Exactly.  I mean they just celebrated their first 100 days.  I have no doubt that Nancy Pelosi has a lot planned for the next 100 days and the next term.

However, they need to make sure that breaking news every night on THE BEAT is that the Democrats have fought legislatively for the American people on pocketbook issues as well.

MELBER:  Well, and this is the week -- it's interesting you say this.  This is the week where health care was also front and center and the president was in retreat on that.

Neal at this Ways and Means Committee has been under pressure to do a number of things.  I've spoken with his team.  They're big on they want to do infrastructure.  They want to do jobs.

As you say, it's about pocketbook issues or as the former president used to say, peanut book issues.  All about them peanuts.

GREER:  Poor Jimmy Carter.  You know, his grandfather worked so hard for that peanut farm.

MELBER:  I'm not criticizing Jimmy Carter.

GREER:  I think this is going back to a larger conversation about morals, decency, and respect, right.  We had a president who didn't want to seem improper.  Even Nixon didn't want to seem improper.

So we had presidents who backed away from personal businesses.  We now have a president who is actually making more money every time dignitaries and Secret Service members and press have to stay at Mar-a-Lago across -- either in Florida or New Jersey or in New York or Washington, D.C.  The president and his family are pocketing that money.

And so this is a larger conversation I think with the tax returns and also with the Mueller report.

MELBER:  Let me bring in, as you mention the Mueller report, Natasha who has been standing by.  My thanks to Hakeem Jeffries, Congressman from New York, who had to depart to go back to work.  Obviously, a busy night on the Hill.

Natasha, take a listen to one of Congressman Jeffries' colleagues, Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez cross-examining Michael Cohen on a related issue.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK:  Mr. Cohen, I want to ask you about your assertion that the president may have improperly devalued his assets to avoid paying taxes.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER TO DONALD TRUMP:  It's identical to what he did at Trump National Golf Club at Briarcliff Manor.

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?

COHEN:  Yes.


MELBER:  Natasha, it was the Mueller probe that started the shift in Michael Cohen's allegiance to Donald Trump and ultimately the furnishing of evidence, financial and otherwise, the checks, et cetera.  We don't have any belief that he had the tax returns in his role as counsel at Trump Org.

He certainly didn't fork those over in public.  But walk us through how that case which relates to other potential financial matters in New York and has been handed off and is open as far as we know in New York, relates to all of this to what the Democrats are doing tonight.

BERTRAND:  Yes.  Look, if we are to believe Michael Cohen, then the real shift came when he saw Trump standing up there in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin, siding with Putin over his own intelligence agencies.

And it was at that moment that Cohen, again, if we are to believe him thought, hey, where do the president's allegiances lie here?  Do they lie to the highest bidder or the interests of the American people?  And I think that is really at the heart of questions about where his money comes from and why Mueller, I think -- we don't -- we can't be so sure that he was able to look into these questions in-depth, because he was still somewhat constricted in what he could investigate.

And whether or not he went in-depth into Trump's financial history and to his businesses really is unclear.  Again, because we haven't seen the report.  But the investigation being done by the Southern District of New York into the Trump Organization is an area, according to reporting, that Trump is very concerned about.

It is something that he's always been more concerned about, especially with Michael Cohen's cooperation, than the Mueller investigation.  We'll see whether or not that's justified.  But for now, it remains an open question.

MELBER:  And that open question, as you so expertly detail, Natasha, includes whether the obstruction section of the still-secret Mueller report involves attempts to interfere with other investigations or matters in New York which have been reported on the press but we don't know what Mueller found about that.

And Don McGahn, who was subpoenaed today by Chairman Nadler, was in the drivers' seat on a lot of Donald Trump's requests.  Some of them not acted on because they were deemed potentially illegal, unconstitutional, or impeachable.

Is someone who can speak now to the Congress potentially under subpoena as well as whatever he gave Mueller.  And I say all that in addition to the news tonight for folks joining us where the Democrats are writing one of the most boring statements with the most significant repercussions potentially in Trump's Washington.

I write to request under the authority and the IRS code 6013(f), each of the tax years from 2013 to 2018 and on to all of these tax returns.  Again, a law that is different than most of the powers in Washington because it vests this authority for tax returns in only the chairman who happens to be a Democrat now in the House Side.  Doesn't require the Senate, doesn't require a law, can't formally be vetoed.  That breaking news tonight.

I'd love to ask Jason and Christina to stick around for more breaking news coverage.  Natasha, thank you.  I know you have to go back to work.

We have a lot more in this show, including the breaking news that happened late this afternoon.  You're looking at a brand new video Joe Biden released to address criticisms in his behavior and conduct with women.  We're going to show you what people are saying, some of the criticism as well as his entire video, and discuss what happens next.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Protecting personal space can be reset and I get it.  I get it.  I hear what they're saying and I understand it.  And I'll be much more mindful.  That's my responsibility.


MELBER:  And later, as I mention, a special report on what history tells us about the fight over getting a full Mueller report and the underlying evidence.

I'm Ari Melber.  And you're watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER:  In other news tonight, late today, former Vice President Joe Biden, released a new video that for the first time addresses statements from several critics, mostly women, that basically say he has had physical contact with them that made them uncomfortable and they wanted to speak out. 

Biden had previously released written statements over the course of several days.  There was one in response to former Nevada Assembly Woman, Lucy Flores, who wrote that in 2014, Biden, she's said, touched her from behind and kissed her on the back of the head. 

Since then, three more women have come forward D.J. Hill, saying that Biden made her uncomfortable when they took photos at a fundraiser together in 2012. 


D.J. HILL, WRITER:  Mr. Biden's hand went from my shoulder and started to descend down my back.  And it was one of those things where I'm going, "Oh, okay, this is making me feel uncomfortable." 


MELBER:  In another story, "The New York Times" quotes, a sexual assault survivor, who says that when she was 19, she was meeting with Biden at a sexual-assault event that was held in the University of Nevada, and that Biden touched her thigh and hugged her, and she found it, "lasting just a little bit too long." 

We are going to turn to a special panel to discuss all the aspects of this.  But first, for context, we want to share with you Joe Biden's full response video.  This is what he posted online today, the entire discussion from Joe Biden is about two minutes long. 


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Folks, in the coming month I'm expecting to be talking to you about a whole lot of issues, and I'll always be direct with you.  But today I want to talk about just as a support and encouragement that I've made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable. And I'm always trying to be, in my career, I've always tried to make a human connection. That's my responsibility, I think. 

I shake hands, I hug people, I grab men and women by the shoulders and say, "You can do this," and whether they're women, men, young, old -- and it's the way I've always been.  It's the way I've tried to show I care about them and I'm listening. 

And over the years, knowing what I've been through, the things that I've faced, I found that scores, if not hundreds of people come up to me and reached out for solace and comfort.  Something -- anything that may help them get through the tragedy they're going through.  And so -- it is just who I am. 

And I've never thought of politics as cold and it is septic.  I've always thought about connecting with people.  And I said, shaking hands, hands on the shoulder, a hug, encouragement.  And now, it's all about taking selfies together.  You know, our social norms have begun to change, they have shifted.  And the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset.  And I get it, I get it.  I hear what they're saying.  I understand it. 

And I'll be much more mindful.  That's my responsibility -- my responsibility and I'll meet it.  But I always believe governing, quite frankly, life for that matter is about connecting -- connecting with people.  That will change.  But I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space.  And that's a good thing.  That's a good thing. 

I worked my whole life to empower women.  I've worked my whole life to prevent abuse.  I've written -- so the idea that I can adjust to the fact that personal space is important, more important than it's ever been.  It is it's just unthinkable.  I will, I will. 


MELBER:  For this story we're joined by Eleanor Clift, Washington correspondent for "The Daily Beast" and Leah Wright Rigueur a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.  Good evening to both of you. 



Hi.  Good evening. 

MELBER:  This is a political story but it's more than that.  Before we get into the politics, Professor, I'm curious your view of both the nature of the allegations against Vice President Biden, and now tonight, his response. 

RIGUEUR:  So part of what we have to deal with are -- and part of what we're dealing with here now is kind of the tension that exists within the Democratic Party - the modern Democratic Party, which is this idea, believe all women, right, which is one that came up again, and again.  It came up in the Kavanaugh hearings, it came up again with the Virginia spectacle and debacle a couple of months ago, with Fairfax, and now it's reasserting itself, so believe our women, but also, looking at the response of candidates. 

So in this case, Biden's apology -- a very public apology, and then looking at the nature of the accusations.  Including the several women who argue that they do not see this as part of me too, but instead as part of kind of an environment where they felt uncomfortable, and they wanted to be very public about it, given the changing norms, and the changing culture of the modern Democratic Party. 

We know this wouldn't have flown, you know, 20 years -- that this would have been okay, 20 years ago.  But now in 2019, this is just, you know, there's no space for this kind of behavior.  But we're also looking to see what how candidates respond when they are faced with these kinds of accusations. 

MELBER:  Eleanor. 

CLIFT:  Well, this kind of behavior was okay, just a few years ago.  Joe Biden was the Vice President of the country for eight years and was meeting with lots of audiences.  And the touchy-feely politician basically was the politician that we admired.  He was warm, kissing the babies, hugging people on the rope line.  But I think the bigger problem for Joe Biden is that he's kind of caught in a time warp.  And this is kind of symbolic of the fact that he's older, that he's different generation, that he might be out of touch. 

So he has to deal with a whole host of issues -- a number of votes, his treatment of Anita Hill, his signing or pushing a crime bill that is now seen as way to punitive.  I think the statement that he made was correct.  Most important words where, "I get it, I get it." 

I think Speaker Pelosi came out and basically also said that it's not so much about what he intended, it's how people receive it.  And I think he understands that as well. 

I don't think there's a problem about believing the women.  I believe the women and they've been very careful to say what this is and what this isn't.  And it is really the changing mores and the changing culture.  And Joe Biden, if he's going to be a candidate, boy, to make this kind of video was pretty close to announcing.  I think he's going to take these accusations if you want to call them that as an assault on his character, and he's going to want to come out and defend his character. And he has a long period of public service and a lot of explaining to do. 

But I think he can turn that into an opportunity.  And so, I think, we've got another candidate who is about ready to get in the field. 

MELBER:  Yes and you mentioned that's the political part, you're observing and analyzing that the nature of his response also speaks to the likelihood that he seems to be gearing up to get in. 

You mentioned Speaker Pelosi, who's the most powerful person in the Democratic Party right now.  Let's listen to Speaker Pelosi who was addressing this as well. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is it disqualifying?  What is your reaction to that? 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:  I don't think it's disqualifying because I don't -- I think it's disqualifying -- what your intention is.  He has to understand in the world that we're in now that people's space is important to them.  And what's important is how they receive it, not necessarily how you intended it. 


MELBER:  Professor, your view of both the merits of what she's articulating there and leading her party and frankly, beyond politics, leading people in this discussion, as well as the line she's walking, if there are, again, multiple potential candidates here? 

RIGUEUR:  Well, I think Nancy Pelosi's entire point is that they don't want to rush into anything or, you know, create a kind of frenzy, or make any decisions - harsh decisions that later on the Democratic Party politically, will or even morally, will regret. 

And so part of that means treating this issue with sensitivity with the sensitivity that it deserves, both for the women who have made statements, but also for Joe Biden and sorting through that. 

And I think also too, Nancy Pelosi is thinking politically about the candidate race and wanting to have a really strong and robust candidate race and have people come out, come forward, and not, you know, cut people off at the kneecaps before they've even been started.  I mean, Joe Biden, I think, you know, has a rough road ahead of him.  He's incredibly popular with the Democratic Party base.  But he is also entering into a race that is really being noted for, you know, the candidates, push on progressive issues, progressive policy issues, the candidates ability to connect with various audiences, including the base of the Democratic Party, including people of color, and women. 

But then also, a Democratic Party that is young, that is vibrant and is on the cutting edge of a lot of progressive programs and initiatives.  And so that's where Joe Biden is coming in.  And that's what Nancy Pelosi is concerned about.  And she really wants to make sure that, you know, she's putting together a strong slate of candidates, but also guiding the party on the kind of decisions that they should be making and how they address issues like this. 

MELBER:  Yes, I think that makes a lot of sense.  Eleanor, on the stories, we mentioned this in our introduction, and I want to continue to quote some of the stories.  And both of you have referred to the fact that the stories have been offered up quite precisely and carefully and then there's more than one. 

In "The New York Times" article, which quotes on the record Caitlyn Caruso saying that Mr. Biden rested his hand on her thigh.  She says she's squirmed to try to show her discomfort, but he hugged her too long.  And then it notes context, this was particularly uncomfortable in her view, because she shared her own story, a sexual assault, and had expected Mr. Biden to understand the importance of physical boundaries. 

"The Times" illustrated it with another -- somewhat famous political photo of, of Joe Biden close with some people he was gathering within a campaign stop, contrast that to Stephanie Carter, who talked about something she was perfectly supportive of.  This photograph illustrating when her husband Ash Carter was being sworn in as Defense Secretary serving alongside the Vice President. 

And it says after the swearing in she writes, Biden leaned in to tell me, "Thank you for letting him do this," and kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support.  And she writes, this is her view, the Joe Biden in my pictures is a close friend helping someone get through a big day for which I will always be grateful. 

Eleanor, your view of those is, again, we don't have time to read every story, but those are two stories. 

CLIFT:  Yes, different women received his hugs and his shoulder squeezes differently.  And I think many women were pleased that a politician was paying that kind of attention to them.  And other women found it kind of odd.  So that's okay. 

I think he gets it, as he said, and I think we shouldn't confuse, you know, the Twitter universe and how it's responding and maybe even the cable universe and how it's responding.  With the voters out there, every poll that's taken shows the voters 18 to 39 and Democratic voters think that Joe Biden has the best chance to beat Donald Trump.  And that, I think is still Democrats need to keep their eye on the on the prize.  And his age and his ideology that he's to centrist doesn't seem to be a negative. 

Now, if he gets in, we'll find out if that all melts away or if he can continue to maintain the stature that he has in the Democratic Party.  And I do think he understands the world has changed and his over enthusiasm when he meets people needs to be curbed.  But nobody is saying that he's a sexual predator.  So, we shouldn't confuse that with what our President has demonstrated in his past.  And Democrats really do have to be careful, they don't, you know, devour each other in trying to see who can be the most progressive to star among the newest voters in the democratic field. 

It's a big world out there.  And it's going to be fascinating to watch these candidates compete.  I don't know who's going to succeed.  But I trust that the Democrats will keep their eyes focused on the fact that defeating this President is really what it's all about. 

MELBER:  Professor Rigueur and Eleanor Clift, interesting to learn from both of you.  Thank you very much.  And Eleanor, we may check back with you later this hour. 

CLIFT:  Thank you. 

MELBER:  Up ahead we turn to history and why it's so important right now.  In 30 seconds my special report on where the fight over the Mueller report is headed and why.  Democrats have a Nixon President.  And then later in the show, more on this new call for Trump's tax returns.  We'll be back in 30. 


MELBER:  Tonight, Democrats are showing exactly what subpoena power looks like.  A vote to force Attorney General Barr to hand over the entire Mueller report and supporting evidence Mueller gathered.  Chairman Adler saying this is about Congress's independent power to see all that evidence. 


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  The committee must see everything, as was done in every prior instance.  To committee is entitled and must see all the material and make judgments as to what can be redacted for the public release.  We're not willing to let the Attorney General who after all is a political appointee of the President to substitute his judgment for ours. 


MELBER:  Notice what the chairman is arguing there.  This is not only about what's in the report, but who evaluates what's in the report.  He's arguing the constitution and recent history show it should be Congress.  The White House arguing that the very rules that were written under a Democratic Justice Department give the executive key powers here. 

So tonight, right now, our special report digs into this history that we have been hearing so much about and we think it's pretty interesting.  All the way back when Chairman Nadler was Congressman Nadler, it was certainly the United States House of Representative in the driver's seat. 

In fact, it was then Congressman Nadler speaking about receiving Ken Starr's independent counsel report in full.  This was back in September 1998. 


NADLER:  We did get the report, which is now in the hands of the Sergeant at Arms, chairman and ranking minority members of the Judiciary Committee is going to have to go over this material.  At least the 400 or 500 pages in the report to determine what is fit for release. 


MELBER:  What is fit?  And as he said there, was true, Congress was deciding what was fit to release.  Starr also discussing how that arrangement left him in the dark about what Congress would reveal to the public with or without redactions. 


KEN STARR, FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL:  We did not know whether the house would publicly release both the report and the backup materials or to release portions of one or both would release redacted versions of the report and backup documents, or would simply keep the referral and the backup materials.  Under seal just a special prosecutor Leon Jaworski's submission in 1974 remained under seal. 


MELBER:  Starr is saying that it was the Congress that is going to decide whether it went public or stayed under seal.  And as everyone knows, Republicans led a house vote to release the entire report swiftly.  Americans began taking in everything Starr found leading to controversies about President Clinton's conduct as well as Starr's tactics and how many other people were exposed in the process. 

Now, here's an important distinction is we all think through these historical examples.  Just because the government did something like release the full Starr report, it doesn't mean that's the only way to do it.  In court cases, people refer to precedent as an example that should usually be followed the next time. 

But in fights between the Congress and the executive branch, precedent can just be one option on the table.  And that is illustrated in another report and probed into a White House.  When prosecutor Leon Jaworski laid out findings against Nixon including evidence of obstruction. 

And like Starr Jaworski was operating under fairly independent rules, but different from Starr, his Watergate report was not released immediately, nor was it released within that year.  Nor was it released even after Nixon resigned under pressure from Congress after what Jaworski's report found.  In fact, the famous Watergate report was released just last year after saying secret under seal for a whopping 44 years. 

So two reports, one went public immediately, the other did not.  And that shows this can still go down in several different ways.  As for whether such reports can be kept from Congress entirely, meaning not just kept from the public, but from Congress. Well, that does involve a court precedent. 

It's worth noting, Nixon's former chief of staff tried to block that same Watergate report from ever going to the house at all.  And he cited grand jury secrecy rules, which can be a barrier Trump's AG, also citing them for potential redactions in his latest letter.  So Nixon's former staffer, lost that fight in court. The finding stayed secret, but the judge ordered the report to go to Congress. 


JOHN CHANCELLOR, ANCHOR, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Judge John Sirica said today, he will send a secret grand jury report on President Nixon and the Watergate cover up to impeachment investigators in the House of Representatives. 


MELBER:  And when you dig through this history, and some of the coverage at the time, you may hear another echo because while many remember that the grand jury did name President Nixon, an unindicted co-conspirator, the prosecutors report, you can think of that as Mueller provided information about Nixon for Congress to consider but not in an accusatory way. 

Why is that familiar?  Well, if you watch the news, you probably know that is what Trump's New AG Barr says Mueller did with his obstruction evidence.  Now you could decide for yourself if the coverage at that time has kind of an eerily similar echo to what Barr says Mueller just did. 


CHANCELLOR:  The judge described the report as a compilation of information and said it contained no formal charges.  It  was not accusatory, but said it is obligatory that the information on the President be given to the Judiciary Committee. 


MELBER:  The judge ruling that when the House Judiciary Committee gets information on the President, it's Congress that deals with it.  Now, as for the secrecy on the grand jury part, the judge ruled Congress could see it because, "The grand jury had ended its work," writing, "there's no need to protect grand jury deliberations to safeguard unexcused or innocent persons with secrecy." 

The ruling also shows how words matter because even when a President might use them to try to have it both ways, something that Nixon and Trump have been accused of, it was Nixon's former chief of staff who sued to block the report while President Nixon seemed to try to stay above the fray. And the judge found that also hurt President Nixon noting, "The person on whom the report focuses, the President has not objected to its release to this House Committee." 

They say be careful what you wish for, or also be careful what you might bluff for.  Because while Bill Barr talks about redacting many parts of this Mueller report.  Trump claims he supports it all coming out. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you think the public has a right to see the Mueller report? 

TRUMP:  I don't mind let it come out. let people see it. 


MELBER:  Let it come out.  If there is a court battle over the redacted parts of this report, the quote you just heard, could end up in court.  Now, in the Watergate example, you had basically a big fight over what Congress saw without it going public.  There are other examples that went wider.  There was an independent counsel named Walsh, who was in the Iran/Contra case.  And he said that when a court ruled on the Iran/Contra affair, that is important to go the public. 


LAWRENCE WALSH, INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, IRAN/CONTRA INVESTIGATION:  Where any Attorney General is advising the President and feels a space a protective sense toward him.  It's difficult for that person to turn around and be the prosecutorial officer. 


MELBER:  Again, you can put your history hat on.  What you would be hearing there is someone in the Mueller position criticizing someone in the Barr position.  And that's what Chairman Nadler and others have been saying today. 

So what if -- take it all together, there is a court battle?  Well, remember, the White House does have an argument here, as we've pointed out on this show, that Mueller is operating under different rules than the prosecutors you saw.  But Congress has an argument that whatever those little rules are, which by the way can change under any justice department, the constitutional issues come in play. 

It was ultimately those issues, transparency, congressional accountability for potentially criminal Presidential acts, and animated, the famous ruling on the Nixon tape subpoena, which only took three months to reach this resolution. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good morning, the Supreme Court is just ruled on the tape's controversy and his calls turned, who has that ruling? 

CARL STERN, NEWS CORRESPONDENT, NBC:  It is the unanimous decision, Doug, eight to zero.  Justice Rehnquist took no part in the decision ordering the President of the United States to turn over the tapes. 


MELBER:`  Turn over the tapes.  I mentioned the distinctions about precedent.  No one's saying that is apples to apples.  Those were tapes, not a congressional desired report.  But as we just showed, when it comes to predicting how fast and how strong the Supreme Court might intervene in a case like this, well, history shows if they think there are secrets being kept from Congress, they go to Congress's core powers where they might uncork those secrets in a very big way. 

And that's our report on that story. But that's not the end of the news tonight.  I can tell you the President has just responded for the first time on camera to something that his aide say they were fearing a formal legal request for his tax returns by the House, we'll show you that when we come back. 



TRUMP:  Usually it's 10, so I guess they're giving up.  Now, we're under audit, despite what people said, and we're working that out as -- I'm always under audit, it seems.  But I've been under audit for many years because the numbers are big and I guess, when you have a name, you're audited.  But until such time as I'm not under audit, I would not be inclined to do that.  Thank you. 


MELBER:  President Trump addressing the Breaking News.  The Democrats and a letter that came out literally during our hour, using a law to demand six years of his tax returns from the Treasury in the IRS.  Eleanor Clift, back with me. 

The President's response is an oldie but goodie, your view. 

CLIFT:  Right.  I feel like the tax returns are the Rosetta Stone of this investigation that they hold the key to what this President is about.  He has so fiercely guarded them.  At points during the campaign.  He said -- Oh, he would be releasing them.  He promised to release them at various times.  Then he basically said, "No way." 

And the fact that the Congressman Neal who's an institutionalist Democrat and the chairman of that committee is going about this finally in this very, you know, sober, sensible way.  I am so looking forward to these returns.  I thought Robert Mueller had them and maybe he did and maybe they're part of the underlying documents that we will see as part of the Mueller report, but maybe not. 

MELBER:  Right. 

CLIFT:  But I think they're going to explain a lot about who this President is and why he has behaved so oddly. 

MELBER:  It's one of the few things that everyone in Washington seems to agree on.  They're important enough to try to get or to hide, depending on which side you're on.  Eleanor Clift, thanks for all your coverage tonight. 

One note before I go.  I'll tell you, if you're in New York, we have a special panel with the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin, The View's Sunny Hostin and republican impeachment lawyer Ross Garber.  You can find out more information at 92Y.  That's 92nd in New York,

That does it for us.

"HARDBALL" is up next.