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Senator Kamala Harris on The Beat. TRANSCRIPT: 5/20/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Richard Stengel; Mara Gay; Al Sharpton; Neal Katyal; Kamala Harris

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Sotomayor, Jordan Jackson, Gary Grumbach, Deepa Shivaram, and Ben Pu all MEET THE PRESS and MTP DAILY alums now going out to cover the campaign first-hand.  That is all for us tonight.  We will be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.

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

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Steve.  Enjoy watching the congressman make a little news on your show, which I think we`re going to touch on.   Always good to see you.

KORNACKI:  Thank you.  Thank you.

MELBER:  Senator and 2020 candidate Kamala Harris is here tonight.  We`re going to speak live about investigating Trump, about her new plan to close the gender pay gap, and why she says she`s going to make Wall Street do a lot more if elected.

Also tonight, I want to tell you, Neal Katyal is back for Opening Arguments.  Barack Obama`s former solicitor general who argued over three dozen cases before the Supreme Court is going to tell you what you really need to know about this Roe V. Wade fight.  Again, he`s been in that courtroom.  He is the perfect person.  So we`re excited to have him on the show later tonight.

But I begin with a blizzard of breaking news.  Today, a federal judge ruling against Donald Trump`s accounting firm and ordering them to hand over years of financial records to House Democrats.

Then separately, the White House announcing it is directing former White House Counsel Don McGahn not to testify, that is to say, they`re telling him to skip the subpoena ordering him to testify tomorrow in Congress.

And then moments ago, we just learned that Donald Trump`s former lawyer Michael Cohen is pointing fingers at Donald Trump`s current lawyer.  He is accusing Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, of something quite serious, of instructing him to lie to Congress, a felony, about those infamous negotiations and when exactly they ended over trying to build a Trump Tower Moscow.

Take a look at this.  Sekulow blasting back moments ago saying this is more of the same from Cohen.  Although he did not directly deny the substance of these new allegations that`s leaking from Cohen`s testimony under oath to the House Intelligence Committee.

So with all this breaking news, I`m going to go right to our panel.  Reverend Al Sharpton, host of "POLITICSNATION" here at MSNBC.  Richard Stengel who served in the Obama administration as a diplomat.  He`s also, of course, a longtime Washington watcher.  He was managing editor of "Time Magazine".  And "New York Times" editorial board member Mara Gay.

Good to have each of you here.  With so much going on, I wanted to get your first reactions to this news, including the Democrats having laid out a strategy to appeal to the courts for help if they say they`re stonewalling.  What does it mean that they have a judge ordering the accounting firm to hand over this material?

RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE:  That`s Judge Mehta in his 41-page decision, having an extraordinary statement saying that it is not fathomable that the Constitution allows Congress to investigate a president for malfeasance but not allow Congress to investigate him for that criminal conduct.  It encapsulates it in one beautiful phrase.

And I think this is what we`ve been looking at all along, Ari.  This is the checks and balances between these two areas of the law, of the judiciary branch and Congress.  And the judiciary branch has come in favor of the Constitution.

MELBER:  And, Mara, what does it mean when you say to an accounting firm, I guess you could try to disobey this.  You would soon be in contempt of court and unlike Mr. Barr and Mr. Trump who have special jobs, if an accountant wants to do, they would be in jail on contempt day of.

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Absolutely.  I think it shouldn`t take such an extraordinary measure but it`s important especially given the political polarization that we`re living in right now because to have a second branch of government weigh in and say actually, yes, this is the right thing to do, people see -- Americans see the judiciary branch as less politicized although that`s not always the case.

But I do think it`s important, it lends credence to Congress at a time when Americans` faith in government is really breaking down along whether they are a Democrat or Republican.  That`s unfortunate but I think it`s an important step.

MELBER:  And, Rev, this comes as I was just mentioning to Steve Kornacki that you had Congressman Cicilline on "MEET THE PRESS DAILY" saying look, he wasn`t necessarily at the impeachment point but if there`s total stonewalling, if they blow through this subpoena from McGahn again tomorrow, then he thinks it is time to step forward on impeachment.  Do you see that as an outlier or something that some House Democrats want to do as the next step?

AL SHARPTON, HOST, POLITICSNATION:  I think that they are certainly moving very quickly in that direction.  And I think that when you look at the fact this judge hit the core problem, that I think many are missing, this is beyond partisan politics now which side of the aisle.  We`re talking about the basic construct of what the government of the United States was founded on, checks and balances.

And he reminded people of that in his decision that Congress has the right, they`re co-equals, and he spoke to the core of that.  I think that`s going to also overlap in other areas because congressmen and women are now going to have to say, wait a minute, am I now going against the fundamentals of checks and balances here which changes the whole tenor now.

Because I think what has been going on so far, the Trump team has tried to make this partisan.  This judge has been able to, in many ways, raise it above that and say, wait a minute, they have the right to investigate in order to see if there`s a necessity of checks.  And I think that that is a very significant step.

MELBER:  Well, and when you put it like that, it would be easy to forget partly because I think we have a president who tweets his way into wanting everyone to forget, that we are in the very early period of divided government.  Before this, there wasn`t a Republican House that was demanding much of everything.

And although Reverend Sharpton doesn`t always echo Republicans and vice versa, what you`re saying is similar to what some Republicans were saying here in this "Politico" article out today basically saying, look, we have oversight authority over the administration.

There is such a thing as congressional oversight, that Republicans have become increasingly concerned in this period where they don`t know if they`re two years out from -- under two years out from a Trump re-elect or going back to a different world and saying is this going to be an era that define Congress out of the entire governing process?

SHARPTON:  That is exactly right.  And where President Trump and his team has done is really render oversight to undercut.  And I think this judge began turning the dial back the other way and I think that this may be very perilous for the president along with turning over the financial records if there`s something there.  And clearly, one would suspect he had a reason for resisting this.

MELBER:  I don`t even know if he did.

SHARPTON:  Well --

MELBER:  Because here is the thing, this is -- and this is why I try to keep an open mind.  There were times in the Russia part of the Mueller investigation where you thought they`re lying so blatantly it must be bad.

And I say in all fairness, although lying is bad, sometimes they were lying out of the habit or out of the stonewalling or out of just a desire to potentially obstruct, which is not OK, but did not mean that there was the underlying offense, at least in a provable way.

And so I press you on that and all three of you.  Take a listen to, as I mentioned, Congressman Cicilline putting this in the starker terms.  This was just within the last hour on MSNBC.  Take a look.


REP. CICILLINE:  If Don McGahn doesn`t testify, it is time to open an impeachment inquiry.  The president has engaged in an ongoing effort to impede our ability to find the truth, to collect evidence to do our work.  And this is preventing us really from ultimately finding the facts.


STENGEL:  So I would say what we`re seeing is the institutional privilege asserting itself, right.  The congressman is saying this is against my branch.

And what I would say, also, about Don McGahn is he`s a private citizen.  For years, White House aides have resisted and said there`s immunity for testifying but he`s not a White House aide anymore.  He`s a private citizen.

And I would also ask, Ari, Jones Day, his employer, the well-regarded Washington law firm.

MELBER:  Top law firm, sure.

STENGEL:  Would they like one of their partners to resist a congressional subpoena?  Subpoena as you know means under penalty.  He will be penalized if he resisted as well as the law firm.

MELBER:  And what is he afraid of at this point?

STENGEL:  Well, I don`t know what he`s afraid of.  We know what Donald Trump is afraid of.  Donald Trump is afraid of the truth.

Donald Trump is afraid of him saying, yes, I got a call at home from the president of the United States asking me to fire the special counsel.  If that`s not grounds for impeachment, I don`t know what is.

MELBER:  And I don`t want to go Mehta here on television talking to you about the power of televised hearings, but it would seem for those of us who have given careful reading and reporting of the Mueller report, which we`ve tried to do, that I don`t believe that Mueller did such an incomplete job interviewing McGahn, his most cited witness, that there`s a bunch of stuff that McGahn would say that is factually new.

It appears that the Trump folks, maybe McGahn, I can`t say because we have to wait to hear from him, are worried that it would be the act of having that John Dean-style moment, of saying to the committee, of every one hearing it and seeing it and playing around America that that might undo some of what perhaps Barr did in mischaracterizing the report.

GAY:  Oh, that`s exactly right.  If you compare what my parents say happened during Watergate in those hearings and you contrast that with the release of the Mueller report, which most Americans, let`s be honest, are not going to sit there and read the 400-page report, you can really get -- you see the difference between the kind of power political or otherwise that that exercise holds.

And I think also, just for modern-day example, the Kavanaugh hearings.  The entire nation was held captive for a week, a day essentially, watching this, talking about it, and you didn`t see that in the Mueller report.  And so the Democrats have an opportunity.

And I think, more importantly, Congress has an opportunity and obligation to show the American people what the Mueller report has found.  And beyond that, what those who testify can tell the American people about what happened here.

MELBER:  Because, Rev, on the, say, the elements of obstruction, there are two types of questions when you look at the allegation.  Number one is the facts.  Did Trump try to improperly fire or oust Mueller, right?

Then there`s, what are you going to do about it?  And quite frankly, I`ll hold both parties accountable.  So far, both parties in Congress have basically said it doesn`t look like we`re going to do anything about it.  And that`s their elective representatives.  They can decide that.

But on part one, right, what even happened?  You had Bill Barr going "Fox News" and try to say -- and I thought this was astounding and we covered it, that it didn`t happen, that he didn`t really try to fire Mueller, that he really was interested in doing a conflicts check and that didn`t really happen.

And, you know, Don McGahn packing up his bags and calling his criminal defense lawyer because he was worried he was going to go to jail if he didn`t stop this thing.  None of that happened.  And that`s the sitting attorney general of the United States.

SHARPTON:  And the fact that they were saying that it didn`t happen and it did leaves all the more reason why Congress has to now aggressively deal with looking at the financial records and as well as looking at what has been said here.  And I wouldn`t rush too far into saying that because Mueller had done these 30 hours of interviews with McGahn and others that we know everything because if, in fact, there was obstruction, we don`t know what we don`t know.

Don`t forget, as you reported, Michael Cohen just said that the president`s attorney told him to lie. Well, who else went in there and was instructed to lie?

MELBER:  You`re telling me not to forget that.  How can I not forget it if I don`t know it, Rev?

SHARPTON:  But that`s my point.  We don`t know if someone was instructed or for whatever reason didn`t tell the whole truth or told a whole lie and that was based on the obstruction.  So you`ve got to deal with the obstruction to really find out if we know everything we should know about the collusion.

MELBER:  I think you put that well.  And that brings us to Congressman Justin Amash, who is a Libertarian Republican, member of the Republican Party.  I want to read to you a little bit of what he laid out this weekend.

He said, "After really studying this Mueller report, there are multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice.  Undoubtedly, any person who is not the president would be indicted based on such evidence."  He goes on to say, "Impeachment, a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause."

I think this is so important for where we`re headed because the reverse engineering of this question has been used by, again, Republicans to say, "We don`t care, we`ll do whatever we want.  He`s fine in the Senate."

But it`s also been used by many Democratic leaders to say, "What`s the point?"  And so speaking to you in your role both as a journalist and a former diplomat dealing with the credibility of the government, doesn`t it matter -- wouldn`t it be better for the Congress to deal with the finding of whether or not these obstructive acts occurred even if we don`t know or we stipulate perhaps he would not be removed over it?

STENGEL:  Absolutely.  That`s their investigative function.  And I think what`s interesting about Amash is this.  He`s a Conservative Republican.  Frederick Coyett is his idol when it comes to economics.

The fact is what Trump has done in terms of obstructing justice and executive overreach is exactly the sort of thing that traditional Conservative Republicans are against.  And they have gone along with it all along.  He is, might be the tip of the iceberg, because he`s objecting to it on not just ideological grounds but on the grounds of executive overreach which Conservatives object to.

MELBER:  Rich Stengel, Mara Gay, and Reverend Al Sharpton, thanks to each of you for a very hot panel.  You can also catch the Rev on POLITICSNATION weekends, 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Now, coming up, I am joined live by Presidential Candidate and Senator Kamala Harris.  She`s unveiled a sweeping plan to close what she calls the gender pay gap across America.

We`re going to get into that, as well as all the breaking news, the Trump subpoenas and whether these tax records are going to be forked over.  We`re also hours away from these nationwide protests against abortion bills targeting women`s rights.

What does the Supreme Court actually do if they get jammed by some of the state legislators?  Well, Neal Katyal is here for another edition of Opening Arguments and all the answers for you.

Later, what a billionaire surprise for college graduates may reveal about where the country is headed on forgiving student loan debt.

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


MELBER:  Thousands of protesters marching in Alabama to protest the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country.  Joining the total of eight states that passed such laws just this year alone.

Now, the Republican sponsors say their explicit goal is to put this abortion bans before the Supreme Court to narrower end Roe V. Wade.  This is about abortion and women`s rights but it`s also obviously about politics.

Take a look at "Politico" reporting that Trump`s campaign team thinks his re-election could turn on the courts while Democratic candidates vow to protect Roe.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  They`re trying to overturn Roe Vs. Wade.  That`s wrong and we will fight back.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The idea that women in this country should not be able to control their own bodies is beyond belief.  They have that constitutional right.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Women`s access to reproductive health care is under attack and we will not stand for it?


MELBER:  So how does the U.S. Supreme Court approach bills that are designed to draw the court into election year controversies?  Can the justices find a way to punt if the lower courts are actually putting pressure on them to act?

Well, we turn now to an expert on these matters.  With me for an edition of Opening Arguments is former Solicitor General Neal Katyal.  He argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court as a private attorney as well as President Obama`s acting solicitor general.  Good day to you.

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL:  Good day to you.  I`ve missed you, Ari.

MELBER:  Well, we miss each other.  When you look at what`s happening here, explain to us what does the Supreme Court do when it balances its obligation to obviously deal with certain cases, particularly if they have to resolve something from the lower courts, but also something you`ve taught us about before which is that Chief Justice Roberts and other members of the court are keenly aware of the risk of being drawn in to election controversies by politicians.

KATYAL:  Yes. So it`s often said that the Supreme Court and American law, in general, is built on the idea of precedent.  It goes by the Latin phrase stare decisis.  And the notion here is that basically, the Supreme Court follows what predecessor courts have done.  It`s kind of a burke and notion of like there`s wisdom and how our past generations have dealt with something or past decisions.

And so they`re really reluctant to overrule things.  Sometimes they will but they will so only rarely.  So I think the best example of this is Roe V. Wade.  I think many people think it wasn`t the best-executed decision in terms of its legal reasoning but the Supreme Court in 1992 in an opinion joined by three Republican appointees, Reagan appointees and Bush appointees, Justices Kennedy, Sutter and O`Connor all said Roe V. Wade, just the precedent behind it should be upheld.

And so even if we have some problems with the decision, social expectations have crystallized around Roe V. Wade and it would destroy the court`s legitimacy to overrule it.  And so that`s the general way the court approaches these things, which is to say we follow our past precedent.

This court, there`s a question about that, though, a big question mark, are they going to do it?

MELBER:  You saw Justice Breyer make some comments through a ruling that were quite restraint and broad.  But he says, "It`s dangerous to overrule a decision only because five members of a later court come to agree with the earlier dissenters on a difficult legal question."

And then he says, "Today`s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the court will overrule next."  What do you view is the significance of that?

KATYAL:  Huge significance.  So that case itself was about a relatively minor issue, nothing like abortion.  This is the franchise tax board case the court decided last week.

But Justice Breyer who is a very, very moderate justice was signaling his concern that the more Conservative members of the court are not going to follow this rule of precedent, not going to follow stare decisis.  And the number one example of where the rubber meets the road is abortion.  Are they going to follow that 1992 decision or not?

And what`s going on in Alabama, it`s all about literally this, Ari.  So I mean our Alabama legislators are saying we think the Conservatives on the Supreme Court will overturn Roe V. Wade.  And, of course, President Trump promised to only put justices on who are pro-life justices.

MELBER:  Let me ask you, do you think -- and this is where the public politics and strategy meet the law.  Do you think that was smart of them or does that actually make it harder for some of the votes they would need to get on the court?

KATYAL:  Right.  I mean so Thurgood Marshall really pioneered modern Supreme Court litigation by saying, "Look, I have this ultimate goal, desegregation of our society but I can`t just go in and do it all at once.  If I go in and do it all at once, the courts aren`t going to buy it."

And here, Alabama has tried to go in and do it all at once.  I mean this is a very extreme bill that bans abortion at any stage including for rape and incest so it doesn`t even meet the Ronald Reagan test for an abortion law.

So I do think that there`s a risk that if this was the case that went up, the Supreme Court could say, well, that goes too far and leave for another day the question of whether Roe V. Wade will be overturned.  But make no mistake, there are these laws in other states that are being considered, these so-called Heartbeat Laws in Georgia and other places.

And all of them are the more moderate strategy, get a case to the Supreme Court after the election, not before, and that they think they have the votes to overturn Roe V. Wade.  And there`s certainly a possibility that that is going to come to fruition --

MELBER:  Right.

KATYAL:  -- absent a change in the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court.

MELBER:  I also want to get --

KATYAL:  That`s what the meaning of the Kavanaugh thing was about last year.

MELBER:  Right.  I also want to get you on some Constitutional fireworks.  Republican Congressman Amash saying that what Trump did is impeachable, brand new response from the president.  Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He`s been against Trump from the beginning.  He probably wants to run for some other office.  I don`t think he`ll do very well.

He`s been a loser for a long time.  Rarely votes for Republicans.  And personally, I think he`s not much.


MELBER:  Not a very substantive response to what Amash said.  I wonder if you agree with his points that the underlying conduct would be indictable if anyone else did it.

KATYAL:  Yes.  So I have been at a conference so I haven`t seen that clip.  But I think that basically --

MELBER:  Brand new.

KATYAL:  Yes.  So I think that -- I mean you can just tell from Trump there`s no legal reasoning in there whatsoever.  And by contrast, there`s now been a letter signed by almost a thousand former federal prosecutors and there aren`t that many former federal prosecutors around.  That`s a small number in general and a thousand is a very large number of people coming forward and saying this would be indicted if it were anyone but the president.

So this whole idea of the president says the Mueller report clears him and this and that is to use the technical legal term poppycock.  And if the president thinks this is right that he`s been cleared, fine, let`s have a trial and let`s prove it up the way it would be for you or me if I were accused of this obstruction of justice grounds.

MELBER:  Neal Katyal, always great to get your insights.  I want to remind everyone, you can go to to see this and other segments.  It is like free law school right here on THE BEAT.

Coming up, Senator and 2020 Candidate Kamala Harris is here live.


HARRIS:  Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?



MELBER:  Questioning Bill Barr, holding the Trump White House to account, and a new plan to get equal pay.  We`re going to get into all of it.  That`s next.


MELBER:  Presidential Candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris launching a new plan to close the gender wage gap.


HARRIS:  People are working.  They`re working two and three jobs to put food on the table.  In our America, nobody should have to work more than one job to put food on the table and have a roof over their head.


MELBER:  And these proposals making headlines tonight for its get-tough approach.  Harris would force corporations to prove they`re paying equally across genders or face public shaming and strict fines from the federal government.

I`m joined now by 2020 candidate Senator Kamala Harris.  Thank you.

HARRIS:  Good to be with you.

MELBER:  Thanks for being here.  Absolutely.

HARRIS:  Hi, Ari.

MELBER:  Hi.  Let`s start with this.  What does your plan do to combat the gender pay gap?

HARRIS:  Well, first of all, it is just a fact, right?  So the reality of this is that we don`t have to debate the point which is that on average women make $0.80 on the dollar to men.  If you`re talking about African- American women, that`s $0.61.  If it`s Latinas, it`s $0.53.

So there`s an obvious issue that we have around not only around disparities but fairness and equal pay for equal work.  So let`s get beyond that because it`s not a debatable point.  The question becomes what are we going to do about it?

And I think the goal we would all agree should be that people should be paid equally for equal work.  But we haven`t yet reached that point.  We`re going to have to create incentives to get there.

So what I am proposing is that we shift the burden away from that working woman and instead on to that corporation to prove that they`re paying people equally.

Because here`s the reality of it, Ari, every day in America there are women who are you know, hanging out at the water cooler with one of their colleagues who works in the cubicle right next to them, does the same work they`re doing, and then they might start talking about what they got their kids for Christmas or what`s you know, what the new car is or the new washing machine they brought, and it becomes clear to that woman they`re not getting paid of the same amount.

So then what does she do?  She`ll go to the supervisor are we getting paid the same amount and the supervisor is likely to tell her we can`t disclose salaries of other people.  So then what is she supposed to do?  Well, she can go and complain to the EEOC.  She can try and do her own work to investigate the salaries.  She might you know, take it as far as litigation to sue.

But why should she and have the burden on her to figure out that she is not being paid at the same amount?  That would be the business of the leaders of these corporations.

MELBER:  Well, let me -- let me dig in on that exact point because you call that the burden.  And this was something that President Obama was working on with Congress.  Let`s take a look at that when they pass the Ledbetter Act.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on.  She could have decided that it wasn`t worth the hassle and the harassment, that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved.  But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake something worth fighting for.


MELBER:  I thought it was interesting reading your plan today.  You say that`s a fine little start but it shouldn`t take as you say years for the burden to be on individuals to sue.  Why is it important you have the government step in here?

HARRIS:  Well, first of all, I applaud the Obama administration President Obama and Lilly Ledbetter herself who I`ve met for the extraordinary leadership that she and they provided on the issue, but it is time to take it to the next step which is to shift the burden away from that woman to prove that she`s not being paid the same amount, and instead put the onus on the corporations to prove that if they`re a good business they`re doing the right thing which is to pay people equally for equal work.

So that`s what we`re requiring.  And what will it end up happening is that you called it a shaming.  I don`t think of it that way but what we will require is that they do --

MELBER:  Well, but you don`t think it`s a good thing.  You`ve got this plan here where you`re going to make them put up in public what they`re doing or if they`re failing.  Is it -- wouldn`t that be a shame if they were failing?

HARRIS:  Of course it would, but I think of it as creating positive incentives and --


HARRIS:  But I`m going to -- I`m going to tell you why, Ari.  I`m going to tell you.  Because listen, when they know that they`re going to have to start reporting publicly you know, there may be some that have not looked into this.

MELBER:  Sure.

HARRIS:  But there are some who have.  I mean, you look, Salesforce is doing a great job.  Microsoft has been doing a great job.  (INAUDIBLE) is doing a great job.  So there are corporations --

MELBER:  Well, then, let me push you on an example -- have you been in some of these cities like New York where they`ll put up the A or the B or the C for the food?

HARRIS:  I have and I keep walking -- just walk right by anything with it less than A and that`s exactly right. 

MELBER:  If you get -- if you get too far down the grading, that is -- there is a bit of a shame in that whether that`s something important --

HARRIS:  Well, and there will be consequence.  But there should be a consequence, Ari.  There should be a consequence to the corporation if they`re not paying people equally for equal work.  Women deserve to be paid as much as men, and they are not.  And this has not changed over decades. 

And so we`re going to have to change the way that we`re approaching the issue.  And the way that I`m proposing we change it is that the corporations have to make it their business to investigate and do an analysis of how they`re paying people and then they have to report that information.

And then that woman or even man and anybody when their applying to work --

MELBER:  Right, it`s gender so whatever is unfair.

HARRIS:  -- but what whoever is applying for a job with that business or might be a consumer of the products of that business, they can look up the rating of that corporation and make a decision about whether they want to encourage good or bad behavior.

MELBER:  Now, one more thing on the details if you don`t mind me nerding out deep into the written plan.

HARRIS:  Yes, let`s get into it, please.  Yes.

MELBER:  You have a one-for-one thing where you say, OK one percent off, if you`re one percent off gender parity, you`re going to give up one percent of your profits.

HARRIS:  That`s exactly right.  Now, I want to get your answer on the record.  You know, people say things about you as a candidate.  And one of the things sometimes they say is oh, well, is she "bold enough."


MELBER:  Now, I don`t know what that really means --

HARRIS:  I don`t either.

MELBER:  But I looked at one for one and I thought that`s really bold.  I mean, it might read that if a company has a 15 percent pay gap which some do as you just were telling us, they`re going to give up 15 percent of their profits?

HARRIS:  They will be fined 15 percent of their profits from that previous year, yes.

MELBER:  So that`s a lot.  I mean, are you hearing about that from your donors from Wall Street?  Are you -- is that for real, I guess is what I`m asking?

HARRIS:  It is for real because look, Ari, it`s for real that that woman is getting paid 80 cents on the dollar.  It`s for real that that other woman is getting paid 61 cents on the dollar.  It`s for real that that other woman is getting paid 53 cents on the dollar.  And she`s sitting at her kitchen table in the middle of the night trying to figure out how she can pay her bills.  When she wakes up at the same time the next morning is the guy who was working in the cubicle next to her, she performs the same work but she`s not getting paid the same amount.  That`s for real too.

MELBER:  Very, very strongly put and very interesting.  I want to get you on some of the other breaking news.


MELBER:  You have Michael Cohen telling Congress that the President`s lawyer told him to lie to Congress.  Do you believe that and if so what do you want to do about it?

HARRIS:  I think it is something that we should investigate.  I think that folks need to respond to subpoenas and show up before the United States Congress so that we in our capacity of oversight can figure out what`s going on.

I have been very clear.  I think that there`s no question that the Mueller report outlined what are -- and could have been indictable offences but they were not -- and there was no indictment returned because I believe there was that they leaned on the Office of Legal Counsel`s memo and there`s a lot of work to be done to let the American public know what really happened.

MELBER:  Did the president commit -- did the president commit obstruction?

HARRIS:  Well, there`s -- certainly when you look at the outline of what`s in the Mueller report there`s good reason to believe that he did and we need to let Congress do its job to be on the course of figuring it out and then responding to the American public.

HAYES:  I want to get you on several other breaking items.  Attorney General Bill Barr who you`ve tangled with just gave a new interview to The Wall Street Journal, follows up on his Fox News interview.

To the Journal, he says there`s a reason he`s doing all this even if it looks very protective of Trump.  He says, "I felt the rules were being changed to hurt Trump and I thought it was damaging for the presidency.  And here, moments ago was Donald Trump coming out from the White House making a very similar claim on why they`re stonewalling Congress.  Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, as I understand it, they`re doing that for the office of the presidency for future presidents.  I think it`s a very important precedent.  And the attorneys say that they`re not doing that for me, they`re doing that for the office of the president.


MELBER:  Is this for the office of the presidency in your view?

HARRIS:  I believe that Attorney General Barr has proven himself to believe his first duty is to this president and not to the American public.  And I believe and I think there`s clear proof that he is making decisions with that priority and not with the priority of being the people`s lawyer, not with the priority of running the United States Department of Justice which should fight for justice for all people and not justice for the president to the exclusion of the American public.

MELBER:  I wonder what you thought of his Fox News interview which had several remarkable claims.  Let`s play a few for your reaction.  Take a look.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  We should be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale.  And so I`m not saying that happened but I`m saying that we have to look at that, to have opposition research like that especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes.  They use that to get to conduct counterintelligence against the American political campaign as a strange -- would be a strange development.  If you were the president, I think he would view it as a witch-hunt and a hoax.


MELBER:  Your response.

HARRIS:  I think that we all know that there has been an obstruction of justice clearly, that there is good reason to believe that this administration has not been forthcoming with the United States Congress or with the American people.  I believe that it is also clear that this Attorney General is not equipped to speak about what is biased or unbiased behavior when he has clearly demonstrated his bias in favor of the President and not in favor of justice.

MELBER:  And so when you lay it out like that and I think many people were struck by your very precise lawyerly questioning of Mr. Barr and his inability to give straight answers to some of that under oath.  Why is it in your view that we have not seen Mr. Mueller come and speak before say your Senate Judiciary Committee?  What is going on there and is that at the end of the day something that it really falls to the Democrats or is Mr. Barr lying when he says he`s not preventing that testimony?

HARRIS:  I honestly don`t know, Ari.  But I strongly believe and have said continuously that Bob Mueller should be able to come before the United States Congress and tell us why he concluded his investigation the way he did.  I think those of us who have been prosecutors, those of us who can -- have read the OLC, the Office of Legal Counsel advisory opinion are pretty clear the almost 1,000 former employees of the United States Department of Justice pretty clear that these were indictable offenses and but for the Office of Legal Counsel`s opinion they would have been charged.

So we need to have Bob Mueller come and clear that up for the American public.  But even if he doesn`t, Ari, I think everyone`s pretty clear about this.  I really do.  When you look at that letter and you look at a bipartisan group of almost 1,000 former prosecutors who worked as professional lawyers doing the work of Justice with the United States Department of Justice and they have said openly and quite courageously that these were indictable offenses, I think we should take them at their word.

MELBER:  You`ve also been speaking out about abortion and women`s rights --


MELBER:  -- as of your -- as of your other candidates here in this race.  Do you see that as an issue where there`s any difference in the field?  For example, Senator Joe Biden also served in the district committee in which you`re on.  He voted to confirm Scalia to the court.  Was he wrong to do that?  Would you do that?  Is there a difference there or are you all basically the same on those Roe v Wade issues.

HARRIS:  I mean, I haven`t done a full analysis of where the various candidates are, but I`ll tell you that what happened in Alabama, what might be happening in Missouri in Georgia, there was a full-on attack, full-on attack on women and their access to reproductive healthcare, and we are going to have to be vigilant and we`re going to have to fight.

And I`m traveling the country as you know, and women and men are outraged and concerned and in fear about the consequences of these laws that are being passed that are unconstitutional, but also are clearly designed with the spirit of taking away a woman`s right to make decisions about her own body.

You`ll recall -- you`d want to talk about hearings, you`ll recall the Kavanaugh hearing when I asked him, are there any laws that tell a man what he should do with his body.  There are so many fundamental issues at play right now and we`re going to all have to be vigilant.

I`ve been proud to do what we can to encourage people to support the folks on the ground in Alabama around getting resources for the women who are there and getting resources for the advocates who are there to support them.  This is a critical issue.

MELBER:  And I`m thinking about the arc here.  We started with some of your plans on gender parity in economics, now we`re talking gender parity in rights in medical decisions.  I want to fit in a very quick 30-second break as we do on THE BEAT and come back with more including our lightning round with Senator Harris in 30.



MELBER:  Back with me is U.S. Senator and 2020 candidate Kamala Harris.  Thanks for waiting for the 30 along with I hope most of the viewers listening to you.  Before the lightning round, one more topic that you`ve worked a lot on but there`s a big debate on which is what`s the best way to deal with police shootings and alleged police brutality?  And you`ve been very clear as a prosecutor about wanting to stand up and deal with that, but you`ve also taken at times a different view than some.

I want to read something you said when there was reform proposals to have independent investigations.  And you said, "I don`t think it would be good public policy to take the discretion from elected DA`s.  Where there are abuses, we`ve designed the system to address them."

As you know, in the wake of many of these incidents, the view is by some that the independent probes are better, they let the D.A. investigate the cops they work with daily.  Have you changed your mind about that or what is the best approach?

HARRIS:  i believe the best approach is to have independent investigations.  There`s no question

MELBER:  So what -- I wonder what moved you to change your mind.  Was it some of these cases you saw?

HARRIS:  Well, if you have the time, Ari, I can explain.  When I was District Attorney of San Francisco, I had a case where I refused to seek the death penalty, and there were people who didn`t agree with my decision and wanted to take the case from me.

And so I had a very real personal experience where I had to fight to keep my case.  And my argument was that I was elected to exercise my discretion and no one`s going to take my case from me.  And that frankly, it was that personal experience that informed my principle which is that these cases shouldn`t be taken from the person who was elected to exercise their discretion.  But on the issue --

MELBER:  But you feel that`s different.

HARRIS:  Yes, on -- but I feel -- but this is a different issue.

MELBER:  Right.

HARRIS:  This is an issue that is about what we need to do when it comes to these shootings and I think we are all very clear that there`s got to be an independent investigation conducted from the first moments of the incident so that we can be certain and sure that there has been a thorough investigation that is not informed by bias and so that there will be justice for all of the people concerned.  So I am absolutely --

MELBER:  Copy.  And I know a lot of -- a lot experience on this.  I want to do a lightning round with you which we do in all fairness to all candidates.  So we go --

HARRIS:  OK, but can I go back to one thing and then I`ll do the lightning round?

MELBER:  I just dropped my lightning -- we`ve got so excited.  Yes, of course, one more thing before --

HARRIS:  On the earlier point.  I just want to -- I want to emphasize also that the pay equity issue, the issue about woman`s right to choose, it`s about women`s value.  It`s about the value of women.  That`s the -- you know, if you want to find a line of symmetry, it`s about the giving women their value which is about their ability to make decisions about their own body, it`s about their right to be paid equally for equal work.  OK, lightning round.  I`m ready.

MELBER:  All right, she said lightning round.  Here it is.  If you could have anyone living or dead as your perfect running mate, who would it be?

HARRIS:  Mohammed Ali.

MELBER:  Mohammed Ali.

HARRIS:  How do you like that?

MELBER:  I like it.  We did read you like to cook.  What`s the thing that you want to cook when you need to relax or chill?

HARRIS:  Roasted chicken.  No question.  I just -- I have some herbs in my garden, chop them up, and chop up some garlic, kind of put it in there, let it sit for a day, roast that up, you know, put a lemon inside and it`s the best dinner and comfort food.

MELBER:  All across America, I can -- I can feel people at least on the East Coast saying maybe that`s what we will cook for dinner.  Favorite album?

HARRIS:  Favorite album, I think Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder.

MELBER:  Stevie Wonder, beautiful album.  Do you remember which reggae star you quoted in your announcement speech?

HARRIS:  Bob Marley.

MELBER:  Why did you quote it get up stand up in that speech?

HARRIS:  Because it was all about saying we got to stand up for our rights.  Shall I sing?

MELBER:  Yes, do you want.

HARRIS:  No, I`m not going to do that.  I was joking.  I don`t want to do that to your viewers.

HAYES:  That`s fine.  You know, Joe Biden said he asked Obama not to endorse him.  Is there anyone you`re asking not to endorse you like Oprah, or Taylor Swift, or George Clooney?

HARRIS:  You know, I`ll take -- no, I`m not going to reject those endorsements if they`re offering.

MELBER:  You`ll take your Obama endorsement if you could get it.

HARRIS:  Of course, I will.

MELBER:  Interesting.  We covered I think a lot of ground.  You`re working a lot of policy but also having a little fun with us at the end which we appreciate.

HARRIS:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Senator Harris, I hope you`ll come back on THE BEAT.

HARRIS:  For sure.  Thank you, Ari.

MELBER:  Thank you.  And we will be right back.



OBAMA:  So don`t try to shut folks out.  Don`t try to shut them down no matter how much you might disagree with them.

OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN EXECUTIVE:  You want to be in the driver`s seat of your own life because if you`re not, life will drive you.

ELLEN DEGENERES, COMEDIAN:  I didn`t go to college at all, any college.  And I`m not saying you wasted your time or money but look at me.  I`m a huge celebrity.


MELBER:  Great moments from commencement speeches and it is that season.  Another star was addressing one Morehouse College students this weekend, billionaire Robert Smith, and he went beyond wisdom or jokes, pledging to pay off the student loans of every senior there.


ROBERT SMITH, CHAIRMAN, VISTA EQUITY PARTNERS:  We`re going to put a little fuel in your bus.  Now, I`ve got the alumni over there.  This is the challenge to you, alumni.  This is my class, 2019, and my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.


MELBER:  In the crowd, surprised students and relatives celebrated.  Now, there`s nothing new about expensive college but it is now a crisis.  Consider this.  U.S. student loan debt is at its highest point ever, over a trillion, surpassing debt on cards and credit cards.  Now, many are celebrating Smith`s generosity, but his contribution is also highlighting a key problem that faces young people.

They`re taking on so much debt with a system that has no path for forgiveness.  And so, some are wondering whether this is something to not only celebrate but consider in policy.  Now, coming up, a Republican lawmaker says Trump is engaged in impeachable conduct.  We`ll show you how that`s reverberating, next.



REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  If Don McGahn doesn`t testify, it is time to open an impeachment inquiry.  The President has engaged in an ongoing effort to impede our ability to find the truth, to collect evidence to do our work.  And this is preventing us really from ultimately finding the facts.


MELBER:  You just heard a member of the committee that has the power to launch impeachment proceedings saying it is time.  This comes after billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer was running this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is a message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  For leaders of the Democratic Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  For over two years, this President has broken the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And nothing happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You told us to wait for the Mueller investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And when he showed obstruction of justice --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nothing happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Now you tell us to wait for the next election?





MELBER:  Really?  It`s not Jerry Seinfeld but it is Tom Steyer and he is on THE BEAT tomorrow to lay out why he is spending so furiously trying to what he says, is calcify the democratic backbone in Congress.  Tune in tomorrow.

That does it for me.  "HARDBALL starts now.