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Trump's Fed pick Stephen Moore in trouble. TRANSCRIPT: 4/23/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Mazie Hirono, Vicky Ward, Laurence Tribe, Letitia James

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Ari. 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening, Steve.  It`s been a busy day.  Do you think we`re headed towards impeachment hearings at some point or not?  You are an expert on Congress. 

KORNACKI:  Yes.  One of our guests said this hour there`s no precedent for anything right now although it looks like Democratic leaders don`t want to go there, so I`d bet no. 

MELBER:  You`re betting no and we got - look, a clear answer from Steve Kornacki, so rare. 

KORNACKI:  Hold it against me when I`m wrong. 

MELBER:  So rare in Washington.  Steve, thank you. 


MELBER:  As always, we have a lot of stories on THE BEAT tonight.  There are these growing calls from some Democrats to move towards impeach hearings for President Trump.  All of it based on the voluminous evidence in the Mueller report. 

Let me tell you this, Constitutional scholar, Laurence Tribe, who wrote a book on impeachment is here exclusively tonight and I`ll tell you what he has to say is pretty interesting.  That`s later in the show. 

Also, Democrats are considering holding a former Trump staff member in content of Congress, that`s a big deal, all because of the alleged refusal to comply at all in any way with a lawful subpoena.  And the Trump administration now defending a controversial policy today in the Supreme Court. 

For the first time on THE BEAT, I can tell you, the Attorney General of New York who is in that courtroom in the Supreme Court today joins me on THE BEAT, so I`m excited about that later this hour. 

We begin with what Steve and I were just discussing, and that is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving her first on camera comments about what to do about the Mueller report. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you believe the President committed obstruction of justice?  Do you believe that in addition to being unethical, the President`s behavior was criminal? 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  That remains to be seen when we see the rest of the report.  This is about being a totally free from passion, from prejudice, from politics.  It`s about the presentation of the facts and when we have the facts, we`ll have a better idea of how we go forward. 


MELBER:  That is Pelosi, obviously, walking the line, because according to many legal experts before you even get to the politics, we do have a lot of the facts.  Indeed we have them over 400 pages of them right here.  Now, Speaker Pelosi says though that doesn`t mean that she`s ruling anything out, but she`s certainly not endorsing impeachment proceedings today. 


PELOSI:  I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive forces, paths that we could go down to in our country but if the fact finding takes us there, we have no choice but we`re not there yet. 


MELBER:  We`re not there yet.  That`s significant because we are listening to the most important and most powerful person with a D next to her name in Washington and she`s obviously walking this line and she is the one who sooner or later decides do you bring that kind of hearing forward?  Do you bring that kind of vote to the floor or not? 

But as Pelosi knows and anyone who watches her knows this is an interactive process and there are other Democrats in this early stage, it hasn`t even been a week since the redacted report dropped who are pushing for impeachment hearings.  Look at 2020 contender Kamala Harris now joining the call from a fellow 2020 contender, both of them lawyers, by the way, Elizabeth Warren. 


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If any other human being in this country had done what`s documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail.  I believe that every person in the Senate and the House ought to have to vote. 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This President and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice.  I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment. 


MELBER:  The sound of that applause is part of the undertow in that audience and certainly in part of the Democratic Party, but it`s not just the Democratic Party.  Look at this, Donald Trump`s approval here.  You may have heard it never moves.  No, it does move and here it is at a low point last associated with his remarks after Charlottesville. 

That was of course when he said there were good people on both sides of a Neo-Nazi rally and we, again, are still within one week of the Mueller report coming out.  Now, as for Donald Trump`s team, they`re sending some mixed signals about all of this.  Politico reporting that White House aides are basically saying they can ignore this, the strategy being that they`re so unconcerned they don`t need a formal response to what you just saw, which is democrats talking about impeachment proceedings. 

So that`s one piece of spin but so often is the case and as I`m about to discuss with the one and only Lawrence O`Donnell.  Sometimes what you hear from the White House in spin is contradicted by another credible source of White House information to some degree anyway and that`s Donald Trump who undercut that, "Hey, we`re chilling strategy," by saying the only way to protect himself from impeachment is not only to attack Bob Mueller who, of course, he`s attacked before but also who we now know to be Mueller`s star witness, Donald Trump`s own lawyer, former White House Counsel Don McGahn. 

And Giuliani says they have no choice but to attack because the Democrats say there is, quote, impeachable material here.  We`re going to get into all this in a moment with Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono who serves on the Judiciary Committee, but I begin with the one and only Lawrence O`Donnell, my colleague and the host of THE LAST WORD.  Good early evening to you, Lawrence. 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD:  These are my vocal exercises for 10:00 pm.  It`ll start right now. 

MELBER:  Well, we`ll be watching them but I`m thrilled to get you here, loyal viewers of THE BEAT know I don`t get you that often so I love it when I do.  When you look at both Donald Trump contradicting that messaging, does this tell you there is a concern about impeachment there at the White House or not? 

O`DONNELL:  Here`s how big the concern is.  The White House now is fighting every subpoena that has come their way.  The White House is now within the last hour fighting the McGahn subpoena.  They don`t want Don McGahn to be allowed to testify in response to this Judiciary Committee subpoena. 

That will actually put more pressure toward the impeachment process, because if they`re trying to say that there`s no legitimate inquiry that the Judiciary Committee has with Don McGahn who`s now a private citizen whose behavior is not controlled by the White House, then they are putting more pressure on the Judiciary Committee to go into official impeachment proceedings in order to have their subpoenas responded to and very quickly enforced by courts. 

MELBER:  And what you`re referring to is that that stuff presumably scares them or matters because testimony still matters and you made this point Thursday when this thing first dropped.  And you made the point then that I don`t think everyone in Washington has gotten yet.  I wonder if you`d build on it for us here on THE BEAT. 

You said, we don`t know how the public will process this information over time.  It`s not necessarily our job to predict it and the great claims of how it went down for Clinton have been overly learned by the political class.  What did you mean? 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  Well, the Clinton lesson which was the one that has controlled Nancy Pelosi`s behavior for over a year now.  Speaker Pelosi absolutely does not want impeachment in any form.  She hasn`t for more than a year.  She`s made that very clear privately to all of her membership, she continues to do that. 

But she now has to balance, do this public balancing act against these increasing demands for impeachment based on the Mueller report.  If you kept going with what she said today, she went into an extensive recitation of the polling, public polling on impeachment as it stands today, and using that as a reason not to go forward with it. 

But the truth about impeachment polling is it changes over the course of the impeachment process, it always has.  And it changed for Richard Nixon over the course of the process.  What the Democrats think they learned from the Clinton impeachment was the Clinton impeachment was bad for Republicans, but the mistake they`re making is the polling information they`re using to say it was bad for the Republicans is that Bill Clinton, a second term president who could not run for election, his personal favorability ratings went up during impeachment.  The only person involved who could not run for reelection, OK? 

MELBER:  Right. 

O`DONNELL:  So what happened then in the next election?  In the next election, the Republicans who in the House of Representatives impeach Bill Clinton won the House of Representatives.  That`s what happened in the next election.  What happened -- 

MELBER:  You`re saying in 2000. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  What happened in the next election for the Senate, the Republicans won the Senate.  What happens in the next election for the presidency, the Republicans won the presidency.  The Republicans did not pay any price whatsoever for impeaching Bill Clinton.  They did what their constituents wanted them to do. 

And the vote in the Senate was not some overwhelming send Bill Clinton out the door with a clean bill of health.  You have to get the two thirds vote, so that`s a very hard threshold to get to.  But when you have basically half the Senate, half the Senate voted to remove the President of the United States in the Clinton proceeding, when you go to the Nixon thing you watch the polling change over time, the longer the hearings go on. 

So it`s hard to say what would happen to the polling and that`s the challenge that Speaker Pelosi has in trying to hold off impeachment.  She`s had a couple of tools to do it.  The biggest tool has been, we must wait for the Mueller report which was never true and certainly was not the way it was done in the next -- 

MELBER:  Well, and as you and I have discussed previously, I hope it`s not true because the Mueller report was an accident of Rod Rosenstein owning himself and not knowing how to deal with Donald Trump`s pressure to write a fake memo and getting so personally embarrassed.  And I know this sounds like I`m criticizing Rosenstein, but this is actually just what happened. 

O`DONNELL:  Right. 

MELBER:  That he felt the need to appoint a special counsel to clean it up.  Had there been no special counsel, Donald Trump would have presumably acted the way he acts and the Congress has to decide what to do about it to your point.  Stay with me.  I want you to join me in discussing and questioning Senator Hirono, excuse me, who I mentioned serves in the Judiciary Committee. 

First of all, thank you for joining us tonight. 


MELBER:  Senator, when you read the Mueller report now that you`ve had a few days, do you feel that it provides substantial evidence that Donald Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice or not? 

HIRONO:  I`d say that there`s quite a lot of evidence that he did engage in obstruction of justice and at the same time though, this could be a lead up to an impeachment proceeding.  And I`ve said at the very beginning that impeachment should be on the table.  But let`s face it, the Trump Organization has engaged in all kinds of nefarious doings, so I would like an impeachment proceeding to be underlay by all of those - that kind of information, company spending violations, possibly tax insurance and real estate fraud, not to mention violation of the emoluments clause. 

MELBER:  So you`re supporting proceeding to impeachment hearings? 

HIRONO:  Well, I`ll say that there is an indication that Mueller report is like an underpinning for a lead up to an impeachment proceeding, but I`d like the impeachment proceeding to have as much ammunition behind it as possible and so that`s all of the investigations that are continuing.  There were 12 or so referrals by the Mueller team to other law enforcement agencies, other attorney, U.S. attorney`s offices.  I don`t know what those are for but I would say that it would involve some of the things that I just mentioned. 

MELBER:  Lawrence, do you want to get in? 

O`DONNELL:  Senator, it seems like the calendar is a big factor here and Speaker Pelosi was saying for almost two years we have to wait for the Mueller report.  Now, the new line from House leadership is we have to wait for the full unredacted Mueller report. 

It seems there is - for anyone who wants to initiate impeachment proceedings more than enough in the redacted Mueller report to initiate impeachment proceedings, do you do you see that any real validity to the idea that you cannot make any forward steps on the impeachment process without getting the unredacted report? 

HIRONO:  As I said, I think there are underpinnings that would lead to impeachment proceedings, but I like to have a lot more because these are not what I would call normal times.  Under any kind of normal circumstance, any other president who engaged in this kind of behavior, there`s no question in my mind that Republicans, if they were in control of the House and Senate, would lead and if it were done by a Democratic president, they would proceed with impeachment. 

These are not normal times and so you have an Attorney General who is acting like the attorney for the President and not an attorney for the people of our country and he`s done this twice.  As I`ve said, he`s given the President two gifts, the first was that four-page, I don`t even call it a summary, that four pager that wherein he said that there were no grounds for obstruction of justice.  That was a huge gift. 

It allowed the President to run around saying that I have been totally exonerated, not true.  And then, of course, the second gift to the President was that when he had the press conference before the release of the Mueller report, where again he starts talking about there was no collusion.  And we all know the collusion is not the crime, but the conspiracy is.  And again he reiterates all of the things that are supportive of the President. 

What I found very astounding about that press conference, Ari, was that here we have very clearly laid out in the report that a foreign government, Russia, not our friend, engaged an extensive efforts to interfere with our elections to support Donald Trump. 

But you don`t hear the Attorney General except for a passing reference to that of saying, "This is still ongoing and as Attorney General for the people of our country, I will do everything I can to prevent this foreign power from doing what they did in 2016."  Nothing about that.  All he could talk about was setting the stage to support the President. 

See, if he wants to be the President`s attorney he should go do that.  He is not the Attorney General for the people of our country. 

MELBER:  Right.  You`re saying if he wanted to be at the law firm of Giuliani and Barr, that position is presumably open and it`s not the position of the United States` Attorney General.  I think a fair point. 

HIRONO:  Definitely not, yes. 

MELBER:  Senator Hirono, thank you as always for joining us. 

HIRONO:  Thank you. 

MELBER:  Thank you.  Lawrence stays, but I want to turn to something else that we`ve been hearing a lot about that`s dead wrong and you deserve to know a little more of the truth and that is that the idea that, well, the report is out, let`s move on, that`s how Senator McConnell put it at one point, is actually being rebutted not by politicians but by you, by citizens.  Take a look at this. 

There are book versions of the Mueller report that right now are at number one and other spots from three to five on the bestseller list.  You see it right here.  This is from today.  Meanwhile, other people around the country are learning about this report from articles and summaries which obviously quote a lot of what Mueller found.  Take a look at these headlines from The New York Times or take a look at another metric, 11 million people watching coverage of Attorney General Barr`s press conference when you release the report. 

I covered DOJ and I can tell you we don`t usually take those pressers live about anything, let alone to get numbers like that.  The point here really echo something that Lawrence just said, I didn`t know he was going to say it but then he just said which is, this is a process.  You can`t predict what people will think about something they haven`t read yet and then what they do with that information. 

Politics is obviously about you guys and what are you going to do with what you learn about the Mueller report.  For all of this I want to bring in someone who knows the Democratic side of this and has worked directly with Speaker Pelosi and leadership, that`s former New York Congressman Joe Crowley.  Thank you for being here tonight. 

FORMER REP. JOE CROWLEY (D-NY):  Thank you, Ari.  Good to be with you. 

MELBER:  I want to read to you what is on the screen right now without going to the matter, but it`s all the news that`s happening tonight that we haven`t even fully gotten to after I just spoke with Lawrence and the Senator. 

Donald Trump attacks his own lawyer, McGahn, Democrats subpoena McGahn.  Trump`s approval dropping to Charlottesville levels, Dems now talking impeachment a serious Matter.  Kushner downplaying Russian interference, a quote I`ll play later in the show.  That`s why the headline on the screen is so smushed, because all of that is happening right now and then you add the point I wanted to begin with you on which is what is your view of the import or the fact that so many Americans are reading the Mueller report themselves? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I think it`s beyond fascinating that they are still interested in this issue.  We`ve been told that they want to move on.  And in fact they are very interested in terms of what the facts are and what is really embedded in this report. 

MELBER:  And so do you think that ultimately Speaker Pelosi who you work so closely with will be factoring that in?  Meaning, are we watching a Pelosi who`s made up her mind and is defending a no impeachment position or are we watching a Pelosi who is always practical and landed on that position but is going to see what else happens? 

CROWLEY:  I think what Nancy`s about is seeking the truth and I think she`s directing her colleagues, in this case, Jerry Nadler and others to do their job and that is to seek the truth, to issue those subpoenas, to bring the relevant parties in before the House and ask those questions that need to be asked to fully vet this report and fully get to the bottom of this. 

MELBER:  You know I love you, so it`s with love that I note that you`re not answering the question and you`re not even in Congress anymore, so you can answer the question.  So Speaker, who I know you respect a lot, is she possibly going to move towards impeachment in your view or is this closed in her mind? 

CROWLEY:  I think as she said it will leave where it will lead and I think if it pans out that there are impeachable offenses, which I personally believe there are, that it may very well lead towards that.  But this is a process, I think even Lawrence knows, it won`t happen just tomorrow. 

There will have to be hearings and evidence that will be brought to the Congress as well in very long time.  This won`t happen overnight.  It`s going to take quite some time.  And by the way, what I do know Nancy Pelosi believes in, I think Lawrence knows this as well, she believes in elections that they have consequences, and that the best way to beat Donald Trump is to beat him in the next election as well.  The American people have to own responsibility for this President as well. 

O`DONNELL:  And the Speaker like all speakers sees her number one job as maintaining the majority, reelecting the majority, increasing the majority, and Joe that brings us to that calendar even if you started impeachment next week.  You wouldn`t get to a vote of the full House on impeachment until sometime in the fall, sending that to the Senate. 

And at that point, you`re really crowding into the presidential campaign.  How much is the presidential campaign timing a factor for the speaker in this? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I don`t want to read her mind but I do think that she believes that this is divisive.  And Lawrence I think you`ll remember back during the `06 when Nancy and Democrats took back the House, there was a great outcry to impeach then President Bush over the Iraq war.  And Nancy to her credit, I think, putting politics aside said that she wouldn`t put the American people through that it was so divisive and eventually we did win the presidency in the next election cycle. 

So I do think that there`s no question that the calendar itself is going to be very congested and if we actually started impeachment proceedings in the House, it would take a very long period of time, and then we`re going to the Senate.  And therein lies the crux because we know there aren`t votes in the Senate today to actually impeach the President. 

MELBER:  Yes, and yet I think the constitutional obligation of your former colleagues is to figure out what they want to do regardless of that.  I mean they were the ones giving these lectures about Senate Republicans to stand up to Donald Trump on Charlottesville or on Russia or on sanctions.  And that the answer to that was not, "Oh, it`s not good for us politically," or, "Politically, it won`t work," or even on the veto, "Oh, Trump will veto it anyway." 

There are things and this would seem to be one where - and I`m not saying how to come down, but there are things where the way you want to come down ought to be the oath to office and not the predictions of politics, it would seem.  Congressman Joe Crowley -- 

CROWLEY:  I think we all know her very well.  She believes in the Constitution.  She believes in the process and she`s seeking the truth.  And I think in the end, that`s what will set us all free as we say. 

MELBER:  The truth will set us free. 

CROWLEY:  Maybe not Donald Trump. 

MELBER:  Did you know that, Lawrence? 

O`DONNELL:  Absolutely. 

MELBER:  And maybe we`re in the right business.  Congressman Joe Crowley, always appreciate you stopping by. 

CROWLEY:  Thank you both. 

MELBER:  Lawrence O`Donnell, a part of three different discussions tonight here in the top of our show and don`t miss him, 10:00 pm Eastern.  It is as it always is THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell. 

Coming up, one of the country`s leading constitutional scholars who wrote the book on impeachment is here exclusively.  Laurence Tribe later.  Democrats now saying they may hold a White House staffer in contempt all over that security clearance nepotism probe.  And New York Attorney General Letitia James was at the Supreme Court today and she`s talking about pardons and how to fight them if they come from Donald Trump. 

We`re going to get to a lot of that later in the show.  I`m Ari Melber.  You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC. 


[18:24:42] MELBER:  In other news tonight, the Trump White House defying subpoenas over its nepotism scandal regarding security clearances.  Chairman Cummings warning he may use his power to hold the Trump aide in contempt over a problem that goes all the way back to Jared Kushner who`s taking a victory lap today about the Mueller probe, claiming the investigation was worse for democracy than Russia`s actually online interference. 


JARED KUSHNER, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP`S SON-IN-LAW:  You look at what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads and trying to sow dissent and do it.  And it`s a terrible thing, but I think the investigations and all of the speculation that`s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads. 


MELBER:  Than a couple of Facebook ads.  I`m joined by Vicky Ward, author of Kushner, Inc.: Greed.  Ambition.  Corruption.  The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.  Tell us how you really feel? 

VICKY WARD, AUTHOR, KUSHNER, INC.:  So, look, I think what you saw this morning was a master class by Jared Kushner.  He is an incredibly plausible liar. 

MELBER:  A plausible liar. 

WARD:  I mean you have to separate style from substance.  His style was smooth, polished, this is what makes him so dangerous.  You listen to what he says and it`s terrifying, right? 

MELBER:  Well, what did you think of - he`s still on the talking points of undermining Russian interference.  What does that tell you about the whole Kushner enterprise that you`ve reported on because the better argument for them and in fairness, they have a good argument, it`s that Russia did a bad thing and Mueller found the Trump folks didn`t help. 

WARD:  Yes. 

MELBER:  Why is he saying that? 

WARD:  Well, I think what`s so interesting about what Jared said this morning and there are echoes of what Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday sort of dismissing any communications with Russia.  Well, Giuliani said something on Sunday, "Well, what`s the problem?"  I mean I`m paraphrasing.  If we talk to a couple of Russians which give us information. 

MELBER:  It can be difficult.  It can be difficult to paraphrase Rudy Giuliani. 

WARD:  Right.  And here you have Jared Kushner basically saying, the whole thing just boils down to a couple of Facebook ads, but it doesn`t. 

MELBER:  So do you know why?  I mean you spent so much time reporting on this, I`m curious.  Is that because of a stubbornness or an inability to update? 

WARD:  Well, I think that my whole book is about the fact that Jared Kushner has a disdain that I think there were traces that came through, a disdain for rules.  You had him saying this morning, he`d been perfect was the word he used when it comes to complying with ethics requirements.  Well, I don`t think that if you look at checked history, that`s actually not true.  He also said he -- 

MELBER:  You`re saying he doesn`t like the rules. 

WARD:  Well, look at what happened, he didn`t fill out his security clearance. 

MELBER:  Yes.  Well that reminds of - I don`t know if you`ve heard the G- Easy track, 1942, do you know that song? 

WARD:  No, come on.  Hit me. 

MELBER:  The chorus is I don`t follow rules and they don`t like that. 

WARD:  Really? 

MELBER:  Right, but if you`re a rock star, it`s kind of more OK than if you`re responsible for a America`s National Security. 

WARD:  Right, bingo. 

MELBER:  The other person that`s echoing you is a Fox News anchor who was really quite clear about his views of what Kushner has said today.  Take a look. 


SHEP SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Jared Kushner`s diminishment of Russian interference is both disingenuous and deceptive.  The attack on our democracy involved much more than the purchase of a few Facebook ads.  From the Mueller report we now know Russians made contact with multiple members of the Trump campaign, including Jared Kushner, attempting to change American policies ... 


WARD:  Good for Shep Smith.  I mean he called it right.  You can`t argue with that.  But I would say for Jared Kushner it`s probably not great when you lose Fox News, right? 

MELBER:  Yes. 

WARD:  Because you kind of reached the end of the line.  But I think one of the most interesting things that he said today, Ari, was about his security clearance.  He said there are known problems he have been completely vetted.  Well, that`s interesting because according to all of the reports I`ve read Jared Kushner couldn`t get a TSA pre check at this point, let alone a proper White House (inaudible) unless his father -- 

MELBER:  Vicky, I think that was what is known as a sick burn. 

WARD:  Yes.  But I but I think coming back - I mean it is a really serious point.  Jared Kushner comes out, he talks to the TIME 100 audience.  In this really is, as Shep Smith said, actually disingenuous and deceptive.  And at the same time, we have this really serious issue going on where the White House is stopping the guy, Carl Klein, the guy who is involved in giving Jared the security clearance process. 

The White House is stopping him testify. 

MELBER:  Right, and this is important. 

WARD:  This is kind of like Mafia behavior. 

MELBER:  Well, this is the part that all my bad jokes aside, this is not a joke. 

WARD:  No. 

MELBER:  And this is National Security and this is nepotism in the White House and it`s all the parts of it that may not be criminal and so we report that accurately, but the go-to - who`s in charge of the federal government right now and as you put it, and Shep put it whether they have a disdain for the actual rules that are there to protect our safety.  Vicky Ward, always good seeing you. 

WARD:  Thank you, Ari. 

MELBER:  Thanks for coming by THE BEAT.  Up ahead, New York Attorney General Letitia James talking about a way around Trump pardons.  Her first appearance on THE BEAT but first leading constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe who literally wrote a book on impeachment is here when we`re back in 30 seconds. 


MELBER:  Welcome back.  Let me start with some clarity.  The entire Mueller report which I`ve read and as we`ve reported earlier, a lot of you are reading actually boils down legally to two findings.  One, there was not enough evidence to conclude that Trump committed the crime of election conspiracy.  Good news for the president.  And two, there was substantial evidence that Trump did commit the crime of obstruction, bad news for the president.

Now, given these legal findings, the remaining question is what may constitutionally be done about that second door, the evidence of Trump`s criminal intent and actions.  And that decision is up to Congress.  It`s always been up to Congress.

Now we`ve reported that fact on this show and we reported that fact as soon as Trump Attorney General Bill Barr implied otherwise in his now infamous letter attempting to muddy the debate.  The fact that it is Congress` called does not -- I repeat, does not mean that impeachment is something to rush into or be taken lightly or that it is justified tonight.  I`m not here to tell you that.

In fact, look at this.  Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe who wrote a scholarly book on the impeachment power was warning back in March of this year that going through impeachment proceedings heading into 2020 election could be pointless and that the nation had become "too impeachment obsessed."

Tribe joins me right now exclusively.  And I should mention he not only wrote that book on impeachment but actually wrote the book on the entire Constitution.  His American constitutional law textbook is the most cited legal text of the past half-century.  Professor, thank you so much for being here.


MELBER:  Let`s begin with a look at how some prominent Democrats are tackling this prospect of impeachment as the Mueller finding sink in including both 2020 candidates who are also some attorneys.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Do you think this is impeachable?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Yes, I do.  I do think that this -- if proven, if proven which hasn`t been proven yet some of this -- if proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes.


MELBER:  Given your past stated caution, what is your view tonight?  Do you think those officials are on the right track?

TRIBE:  Well, I think they`re on the right track and my caution is not abated.  I still think impeachment is an extremely delicate process that one doesn`t engage in lightly.  But I underscore the word process.  It`s not an outcome, not a verdict, it`s a process.  It is, in fact, the process that Jerry Nadler House Judiciary Committee is going through in calling witnesses like Don McGahn.

They don`t want to call it impeachment but that`s an impeachment process.  That`s what it looks like.  That`s what happened with Nixon.  And it was only when John Dean who was basically Richard Nixon`s Don McGahn, when John Dean spilled some beans on national television that opinion began shifting.

Right now we are moving toward possible impeachment.  But if they stonewall, if they make it impossible for McGahn to testify, they`ve got no legal basis to do it, but they can drag it out in the courts for a while.

MELBER:  Do you think --

TRIBE:  Then we have no choice but to move ahead more rapidly not less.

MELBER:  Do you think the evidence of obstruction and criminal intent that Mueller lays out against Trump is legally impeachable?

TRIBE:  I think there`s no doubt that it is overwhelming evidence of an endeavor to undermine an important legal inquiry into what the Russians did to our democracy and what role the Trump people had in it.  That`s impeachable if anything is.  But even more, I want to stress that volume one of the report which does as you report not conclude that there was conspiracy makes an overwhelming case that there was collusion, that there was an attempt by Trump and his minions to ask a hostile foreign nation to help him win.

Some of it was out in the open.  Russia if you have the e-mails we want to see them.  He was asking them to hack into our computer systems.  They did.  He asked for help, they gave it.  He used it through WikiLeaks which he mentioned hundreds of times on the trail.  That is collusion and that`s what George Mason, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison used as a critical paradigmatic example after the business with Britain and France of when we would have to remove a president when he looked like he might be in the payroll control of a foreign adversary.


TRIBE:  That`s what we have here.  And I think that the impeachment process has to go forward.  But I don`t blame people for saying, don`t call it that.

MELBER:  Right.  I appreciate your -- right, I appreciate your distinction on the actual utility of that legal fact-finding whether or not it`s slap at the I-word at the beginning or in the middle and what comes out of it, and also the very clear leverage the Congress may need in dealing with this kind of precedent.

One of the thrills I get from having you on the show is you know, I used to read your textbooks in law school.  We love learning from you.  And so I want to do a little old-school tribe if you`re game because being such a --

TRIBE:  I`m game but was that what we use to fall asleep or what we`d be doing if --

MELBER:  No.  I would -- at times I fall asleep in the law library.  But the thing about law school is then you -- it`s a nap.  You wake back up and you keep reading.  And so -- and so in the old school of the Clinton example which has come up so often in politics, in law, and in media, it was a very different example.

So precedents, of course, I have limited utility when the underlying facts are so different, as something you`ve spoken to in your writings.  But let`s play a little old-school tribe when you were arguing that the nature of the allegations against President Clinton we`re different and not impeachable in your view in total.  Take a look.


TRIBE:  Impeachment decision by the House of Representatives that essentially represents the view of one political party is just not going to be accepted by the nation.

Then history will view it rather negatively just as history views negatively the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.


MELBER:  I think many viewers would agree with what you said at the time because --

TRIBE:  I would too.

MELBER:  -- the Johnson and Clinton impeachment precedents are generally considered negative.  Before I let you go, I give you the opportunity tonight to make the case of why this could be different.

TRIBE:  Well, it`s very different because lying about a sex act which does not threaten the national security and trying to get in the way of uncovering how a foreign adversary is undermining our democracy and going on to do it continuously couldn`t possibly be more different.  It`s night and day. 

The Clinton case was not a high crime against the nation by any stretch.  It was a purely partisan effort to take down a president.  They didn`t even have hearings in the House.  They just went straight to a vote.  Nothing could be more different.

MELBER:  It`s very well stated.  And a reminder no hearings and the rush that they were at that time having gotten the report and the grand jury material a lot of it as well.  Professor Tribe, thank you so much for coming on THE BEAT tonight.

TRIBE:  Thank you, Ari.

MELBER:  A lot of other news tonight including the state of New York leading 18 other states mostly blue taking Donald Trump`s immigration policies and their implications all the way to the Supreme Court.  The New York Attorney General who was inside that court and part of the arguments in her office joins me coming up when we come back on THE BEAT.


MELBER:  Americans have been processing the Mueller report but meanwhile President Trump faces a range of investigations following his debts and his money.  Here in Manhattan, New York Attorney General Letitia James has jurisdiction over Trump Tower, the Trump Organization, and the now hobbled Trump Foundation.  She won an office recently just last year campaigning on the message that nobody is above the law.


LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW YORK:  He built his wealth off the backs of New Yorkers.

We need to focus on Donald Trump and his abuses.  We need to follow his money.  We need to find out where he`s laundered money.  All of those transactions have happened here in New York City.  Tell this president and every other individual that no one is above the law.


MELBER:  And there are signs that this newly powerful prosecutor is doing exactly that, suing the Trump Foundation saying Trump causes charity to effectively break the law while stepping up the legal fight against what remains of Donald Trump`s travel ban, also investigating real estate deals in subpoenaing Trump`s financial records from Deutsche Bank and looking at hiring practices that range all the way out to Trump`s Westchester County Golf Club.

James was continuing her work today in Washington but at the Supreme Court hearing arguments on a different battle, the Trump administration`s attempt to add a new citizenship question to the all-important census.

And she is part of an effort leading 18 states including New York to sue the Census Bureau arguing that this entire effort is effectively a way that the Trump administration would put a thumb on the scale and even suppress political participation for immigrants which of course could affect the funding for generations, long after Trump might be out of office.

Here was the scene right outside the Supreme Court today with protesters and others concerned about this citizenship issue.  NBC reporting the Supreme Court asked questions that suggest it might be open to accepting Trump`s position that this does need to be a question on the census.  But we still don`t know until the court rules.

I`m joined now by New York Attorney General Letitia James who also was inside the courtroom.  Thanks so much for being here on a day like today.

JAMES:  Thank you, Ari, for having me.

MELBER:  Before I get to what you think about it, I`m just curious from a news perspective what you see in the courtroom, where were the justices headed.

JAMES:  A number of thoughtful questions but it was clear that there were some members of the court who wanted to prioritize citizenship over an accurate census count in our country and it would fundamentally undermine the census.

And the enumeration clause of our Constitution talks about counting population.  It doesn`t talk about pop -- just counting citizens but counting all Americans and all individuals in our country which is really critically important Because it goes to the apportionment, it goes to the individuals who will represent us in Congress.  And two, it goes to the distribution of funds from the federal government.

And if in fact the count is undermined, that it will result in a reduction of funds to New York State, the state that I represent, to countless other states that were represented here today.  This is really a quite a question about state`s rights and about standing up for accurate count and ensuring that the Supreme Court -- that the Supreme Court of the United States of America has a role in deciding whether or not this question should be on the census form.

MELBER:  Yes, you lay that out and I think factually that`s what`s so important.  This is the blueprint once a decade that decides everything in federal funding and so many others you put it rights of citizens.  As a state that obviously does have a view here, you`ve been advocating against the Trump administration, what do you think was the argument that did best at the court, that fared best in trying to appeal to those justices today that this is fundamentally potentially unfair?

JAMES:  That the secretary decided to do this basically I believe it was Justice Sotomayor who put it best and she said this was a solution in search of a problem and there has not been a problem.  And the reality is that the enumeration clause talks about making sure that we have an accurate count, and it talks about our population.

And it`s really critically important that New York State be protected since we have a significant number of individuals who are undocumented and a large Latino community.

MELBER:  Look, can I ask you the --- I want to ask you the non-legal question even though we`re both lawyers.  For just anyone tuning into this and saying wow, the Supreme Court is hearing this today.  The Trump administration is well-known, agree or disagree, they are known for a very hard line stance against immigrants including immigrants who are in this country.

 Isn`t it unfair to push a question that forces people to choose between volunteering for their own risk or safety or telling the truth?  I mean just before we get to the law, doesn`t that seem like an unfair fix?

JAMES:  Particularly given the environment that we`re in today and across this country, there are a countless number of immigrants right now who are hiding in the shadow afraid of government, and that should not be the case.

And clearly, if in fact, we had the citizenship question on the census, it would have result in a suppression of the count and it would severely have an impact on New York and other states across this country which I have a significant number of immigrants undocumented individuals and individuals in the Hispanic community in particular.

And we do not want that to happen and that`s why this citizenship question has not been on the census since 1950.  And experts within the Department of Justice and in the Census Bureau basically argued against the secretary from putting this question on the census.

And so we stand with those professionals, those individuals who have been a part of the Department of Justice and the Census Bureau for a very long time.  And we should not politicize the census because it is key, it is key to apportionment and it is a key to federal funds.  And I have a duty and an obligation and responsibility to defend the rights of New Yorkers.

And that`s why I was in Washington D.C. to stand up and defend New York State against a citizenship question which would undermine our count and significantly reduce the amount of federal funds that we receive each and every year.

MELBER:  New York represent, I know that`s part of your job as you say, and you take your oath of office seriously.  And before I let you go, I also want to ask you, we showed on your introduction how forthright and strong you were when you`re running for office.  You spoke directly about a famous constituent of yours President Donald Trump.

Now that the Mueller probe has finished -- although there are these other criminal referrals, do you view your efforts to try to make it clearer or easier for New York to prosecute cases if they get a federal pardon?  Do you view them as less important now?  Do you think it`s unlikely that the president will pardon anyone at this point in the Mueller probe?

JAMES:  Ari, all that I can say is that we are working with the New York state legislature to address the pardon loophole, and two, we are continuing with our investigation.  That`s all I can say at this point in time.

MELBER:  I think that people around the country who`ve learned about prosecutorial techniques including Bob Mueller`s famous no comments know what you`re doing, and the journalists among that`s always look for longer answers but I get you.  And I know that this issue on the census you`ve been working on for a long time, so I appreciate you telling us about it on THE BEAT tonight.

JAMES:  Thank you, Ari.  I really appreciate it.  It`s really critical and important that the United States Supreme Court get this right.  And I hope that they would agree with our -- with our arguments.  And I want to thank our Solicitor General Barbara Underwood for doing an excellent job in arguing the case today.

MELBER:  Well, it`s fascinating to watch, and as I say, you`ve had a front- row seat, a driver`s seat really.  We`ll see what they do.  We`ll be covering it.  New York Attorney General Letitia James, thank you so much.

JAMES:  Thank you.

MELBER:  And up ahead, from 999 to apparently 99 problems with some of Donald Trump`s fed picks when we come back.


MELBER:  Donald Trump has floated some big economic picks who are now imploding or on thin ice.  Herman Cain out of the running for the Fed.  We had reported on this show about serious problems that had faced his candidacy.

Now, Trump`s other pick, Stephen Moore, under scrutiny for this 2002 statement about female referees among other things.  He wrote a piece referencing "gender equity" and asked, is there no area in life where men can take a vacation from women.  And continued to say, "no more refs, no more women announcers, no more women beer vendors, no more women anything."

And then said there is an exception to this rule adding "The exception was for Bonnie Bernstein and the fact that she knows nothing about basketball.  What she was writing about is irrelevant."  He added that she should appear in the court halter top.

Now Moore is now on defense and he says these were basically "jokes" based on his "sense of humor."  Bernstein also punching back saying that he should try listening to actual reporting.  Now, Moore has also drawn fire for suggesting the Fed where he`s now nominated to serve should actually be eliminated.  He`s also flirted with the gold standard.

The larger question is how Donald Trump does his vetting for a job that could control the future of the U.S. economy.  We`ll be right back with one more thing.


MELBER:  One more thing.  I want to tell you that tomorrow we have 2020 Presidential candidate Congressman Eric Swalwell and Robert Reich who has served in the Ford, Carter, and Clinton administrations and as an economic guru.  We`re looking forward to that.  But don`t go anywhere right now because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.