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New heat on Attorney General Barr. TRANSCRIPT: 6/4/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Neal Katyal, Gene Rossi, Vicky Ward, Christina Greer

KORNACKI:  Thank you all for watching tonight.  That is it for our show.  Chuck 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 ANCHOR:  Good evening, Steve.  Thank you very much. 

There is a lot going down right now.  President Trump landing in London, hurling insults as massive protests loom while his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, speaks out in this rare interview that you actually have to hear because he defends birtherism as well as the worst meeting of his life.  One news outlet already dubbing it a, quote, "clown show." 

And later, Neal Katyal is here for our "Opening Argument" segment.  He says he has the receipts that show Bill Barr has contradicted himself in an important way. 

But we begin with this developing news from Congress.  Is there a path between impeaching Trump and doing nothing?  That debate, as you probably know, has been riling up Democrats in Congress as well as around the country ever since the Mueller report came out, and especially since he spoke. 

Well, now as the week begins we are seeing the outlines of an apparent middle road.  Another House chairman driving towards a vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt.  This is new and would be the second committee vote to do so, and tee up a potential floor vote. 

While at the same time Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler formally convening a series of obstruction hearings on President Trump`s, quote, "alleged crimes," probing Trump`s most overt acts of obstruction outlined in the Mueller report and considering targeted legislative oversight and constitutional remedies in response to Mueller`s findings. 

So let`s stop right here and just take a look at what`s happening.  What is Nadler saying?  He`s making this move as other House members who call for impeachment have been growing their ranks.  It`s now up to 58 members from just 50 when we were talking about this last week.  So these hearings may just be for fact-finding and to inform legislation, but they do also hold out the prospect of more because of what he is saying. 

In fact, let`s put that announcement back up.  OK.  Right here, where Chairman Nadler refers to constitutional remedies.  That is an important set of two words because it doesn`t mean legislation.  Constitutional remedies is a diplomatic reference to, yes, impeachment.  It is the Constitution`s remedy and process other than the criminal justice system that accuses the president of wrongdoing. 

Now if that language sounds a little familiar, did you hear like a little echo?  It may be because the former special counsel used that exact language when he gave his resignation address imploring Congress to read the report and do its job. 


ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL:  The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. 


MELBER:  Nadler`s hearing may not have some Trump aides involved because, as you know, they`re defying subpoenas.  But the Democrats are doing other things to try to get this going.  For example, they have announced today they are going to have the Watergate star witness John Dean to testify as one of the experts.  He certainly knows his way around these issues.  Along with former federal prosecutors who say they will conclude what Mueller would not, that they have looked at the evidence as prosecutors, and they think there is criminal obstruction of justice. 

And there may be some kind of tiny crack in the Democratic leadership as well.  Because while Pelosi and her deputy Steny Hoyer are not for impeachment, their deputy, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn ,who is also the most senior ranking minority in the House or Senate, he is now all of the sudden he is saying impeachment proceedings will begin at some point. 


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "STATE OF THE UNION":  You think that the president will be impeached or at least proceedings will begin in the House at some point, but just not right now? 

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP:  Yes, that`s exactly what I feel.  I think we`ve already begun it. 


MELBER:  That`s new.  Now is that a new plan teeing up an actual road to impeachment proceedings, or is it -- and you have to always hold out the alternatives when you`re dealing with politicians -- is it some kind of political speak for later which may ultimately turn into never? 

Now Clyburn is not all on the actual impeachment caucus list yet.  That`s important to know for context.  As I mentioned, you`ve got 57 Democrats and one Republican, and now it is also including some moderates like Congressman Tim Ryan.  You may recall him.  He`s challenged Pelosi from the center right for leader, and he says that he has now changed to backing impeachment explicitly because of Mueller`s new statement. 


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH):  Given me this amazing opportunity -- I read the Mueller report and I believe he obstructed on multiple locations.  We have a responsibility.  I take no joy in this at all, but I have a duty and a responsibility, and that duty and responsibility has led me to think we have to do this. 


MELBER:  I`m joined now by Congressman John Yarmuth and former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi to get into it. 

Congressman, has the impeachment process effectively begun under another name or are your colleagues not there yet? 

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D-KY):  Well, I think it has, Ari.  And I`ve said this for months now, that what the Judiciary Committee is doing right now and what actually the Oversight Committee is assisting with are exactly the things you would do when you would be initiating an investigation prior to impeachment, whether you call it an impeachment inquiry or just an investigation. 

Looking for the same type of information, whether or not, for instance, the president on how many occasions violated the emoluments clause, how many foreign entanglements are there, whether it`s -- not just with Russia but with Saudi Arabia and possibly other countries.  So these are things that the Congress has been trying to get at.  We`ll continue to try and get at, and I think this is what Speaker Pelosi means when she said you have to have a compelling case. 

Because if you just rely on obstruction of justice, there are those -- because of the narrative that Attorney General Barr has been able to create, there are those who aren`t going to be convinced. 


MELBER:  But you support -- 

YARMUTH:  But if there -- if there`s (INAUDIBLE) after now -- 

MELBER:  Sir, you support impeaching President Trump? 

YARMUTH:  I do.  I actually co-sponsored an impeachment resolution in the last Congress. 

MELBER:  And so let me ask you this about your party, given that framework for our viewers.  If that`s a good idea, why are the leaders of the Democratic Party afraid to call for it?  Why does it have to be impeachment by another name in your view? 

YARMUTH:  Well, I don`t think it will end up being impeachment by another name.  I agree totally with Jim Clyburn that once these investigations have run their course over the next couple of months, we`ll have the entire case that we would then bring -- draft Articles of Impeachment which then the Judiciary Committee would hold hearings on. 

MELBER:  OK.  Let me get your view on some other reporting that we`re hearing because we always like to go to the source. 

YARMUTH:  Right. 

MELBER:  Chairman Nadler reportedly privately pushing Pelosi for impeachment, telling her to let -- telling Pelosi let him begin an inquiry, an investigation on what if any articles they would draft to vote on.  Does that sound accurate to you? 

YARMUTH:  I don`t have any first-hand knowledge of that, but it does sound accurate to me.  And let me say this. 

MELBER:  Interesting.  So the idea that we have Pelosi out here with her reasons.  But the chairs pushing her privately respectfully, but trying to get her closer to impeachment.  To you that reads as right tonight? 

YARMUTH:  I think that sounds right.  And you know, the one reason I think that is because Speaker Pelosi has never said a word to me or to anybody else that I know who has come out for impeachment to cool it, calm it down, cool it, hold your powder.  She`s never made any of those comments. 


MELBER:  Well, but she -- 

YARMUTH:  So I think she is willing to let people do -- 

MELBER:  She tries to get you all away from the using the I word, doesn`t she?  But that`s where we started tonight. 

YARMUTH:  Right.  I think she doesn`t want the country to focus -- have the focus on the House be on impeachment, that she`d rather have people focus on the legislative agenda that we are trying to implement, and much of which we passed already so I understand where she is going.  I fully agree with her strategy.  But again, I think impeachment is inevitable.  I always have.  And I think the American people -- if we don`t impeach, bring proceedings against this president. 

MELBER:  Well, sir -- 

YARMUTH:  Then impeachment means nothing. 

MELBER:  Sir, you just -- you just doubled down on your I word.  You went from impeachment to inevitable.  That`s farther than we`ve heard from others.  Stay with me. 

Gene, as a prosecutor, what do you think hearing all this? 

GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  It`s music to my ears.  A rose by any other name still smells as sweet.  And you can call it impeachment.  You can call it an investigation, you can call it anything you want but I agree with the congressman.  We have now started the process of removing the president of the United States. 

MELBER:  Take a listen to Speaker Pelosi and how she was received on the point you raise, which is, are we on that road or not?  And what is her party want.  This was at a big -- very big California gathering that a lot of politicians spoke at.  Take a look. 


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER:  The president`s campaign welcomed Russian interference in the election, and the report lays out 11 instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president of the United States.  I told you this is like coming home for me. 


MELBER:  You know, Gene -- 

ROSSI:  Yes. 

MELBER:  It is like coming home.  But obviously coming home to a crowd that wants her to be somewhere else than she is at this moment. 

ROSSI:  Right.  Well, Ari, I`m from Virginia, and there are two congressional districts, the 7th with Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, and the 2nd congressional district with Elaine Gloria.  I know both of them.  And they`re in tough districts.  They won by a small margin.  So Speaker Pelosi, who I think is absolutely brilliant, she understands that there are some members of Congress that can`t use that I word as aggressively as other people with the utmost respect to the congressman, because we have to go through this thoughtfully and deliberately, patience and time. 

But at the end of the day, whether it`s two months or into next year, I think it will be at the point where people will have read the Mueller report. 

MELBER:  Well -- 

ROSSI:  Not -- and will conclude that he needs to be removed. 

MELBER:  You said next year.  I mean, this is the issue, Congressman, because I can`t see the future.  I`m not in these private meetings you`re in with your colleagues.  But I do have a calendar.  And the Iowa caucus and the other primaries begin in the start of next year.  And it`s hard to imagine if your party doesn`t move by the end of summer, early fall, that then the trigger would be right in the middle of all that. 

And part of what you may need as well is this question of who else is going to be a compliant witness as opposed to those who are in defiance.  It would stand to reason that Bob Mueller, if he got a subpoena, would testify in public.  I don`t think he is the type to defy, although he made his views, his preference clear. 

Here was your colleague, Congressman Schiff, on what you should do about it.  Take a look. 


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  I hope that Bob Mueller will understand as painful as it may be, and as much as it may subject him to further abuse by the White House, he has a final duty here to perform, like any other witness. 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABS NEWS ANCHOR:  And if he doesn`t, subpoena? 

SCHIFF:  Well, it will be my recommendation, yes. 


MELBER:  Do you agree? 

YARMUTH:  I agree totally with Adam.  We have to have Bob Mueller testify.  We have to have him go through some of the most important points that he made in the report.  For instance, on the issue of collusion, he had to mention in a statement the other day that he said evidence was destroyed, documents were overseas they couldn`t get.  Witnesses took the Fifth Amendment, some witnesses lied. 

I mean, there are a lot of reasons why they couldn`t come up with a convincing case of conspiracy.  So I think that`s the kind of valuable testimony that Bob Mueller would give that he didn`t give the other day. 

MELBER:  Congressman Yarmuth, laying out your views and your statement that impeachment could be inevitable at this point, and Gene Rossi, thanks to both of you. 

YARMUTH:  Thank you. 

MELBER:  I`m fitting in a break because I have so much in tonight`s show.  Chris Matthews is here live talking 2020 on THE BEAT, as well as previewing his big interview with Mayor Pete tonight. 

And later, Jared Kushner, boy, was this an interview.  We`re going fact- check it with his biographer and a couple of other experts, including getting into Russia and Trump`s birtherism. 


JONATHAN SWAN, "AXIOS ON HBO":  Was birtherism racist? 

JARED KUSHNER, PRESIDENT`S SON-IN-LAW:  Look, I wasn`t really involved in that. 

SWAN:  I know you weren`t.  Was it racist? 

KUSHNER:  Like I said, I wasn`t involved in that. 


MELBER:  And later, Neal Katyal is here with the receipts on Bill Barr.  And we`re going preview tomorrow`s London protest against Donald Trump`s visit.  The British already projecting his low polling numbers on the Tower of London itself.  A big return is expected as well for this little guy, or should I say big guy?  I`m talking about the Trump baby blimp. 

All that ahead.  Stay with us. 


MELBER:  2020 Democrats assembled in San Francisco this weekend for that big California convention, pitching themselves to voters in the state which has moved way earlier in the primary calendar, which means it`s going to have even more influence.  Candidates touting their plans on health care, reproductive rights, gun reform and the environment. 


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The time for small ideas is over. 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Health care is a human right. 

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Stand together and take a fight to the NRA. 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have got to fight those who would deny women a right to choose what to do with their own body. 

BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Never again will we put another child in another cage. 

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Immigrants don`t diminish America.  They are America. 

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We need to re-imagine our justice system. 

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We are here to break the Republican monopoly on the language of freedom. 


MELBER:  The language of freedom, the big talk you heard there is from Mayor Pete Buttigieg who is actually going to be at a special town hall event in less than an hour.  You`re looking at live pictures in Fresno, California.  Very exciting.  And it will be led and moderated by of course by own Chris Matthews, host of "HARDBALL," colleague of mine, here with me live now. 

Thanks for making time.  I know you have a huge busy night, but we were thrilled to get you on THE BEAT.  First big picture.  Where are we in this 2020 primary?  Why are they all being so nice right now? 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, MSNBC`S "HARDBALL":  Well, they`re not getting nice this weekend.  You know, the California Democratic Party, I mean the people that show up for meetings like this weekend in San Francisco are on the serious left.  And this has been the case going back -- I remember back to as a kid, a very young kid watching the Adlai Stevenson crowd out here opposed Jack Kennedy.  So always been on the hard left.  This past cycle they opposed Dianne Feinstein for re-nomination for the Senate. 

So it is not entirely reflective, but it does show the -- I should say the anger, the emotion on the left, the success of Elizabeth Warren this week and apparently in the headlines she was the big winner.  I think it`s very important to know that these people will be voting heavily, starting I bet from the day of the Iowa caucuses.  So they`re not going to start immediately, but they`re going to watch these voters in California. 

What happens in Iowa in the caucuses?  What happens a week later in San Francisco?  I`m sorry, New Hampshire.  And so it`s a very interesting dynamic.  The biggest state in the union will be voting as the small states like Iowa and New Hampshire are voting.  So they`ll be watching to see who can win.  And if Kamala can win, perhaps, she is from California, she might get a real boost out of a strong showing in those early two states.  And then of course in South Carolina, she could do very well down there with African-American women especially. 

There is a lot of back and forth, Ari.  It`s going to be so interesting to watch.  Not like in the old days of linear OK, Iowa, then New Hampshire. 

MELBER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Then South Carolina.  It`s all going to be happening at the same time.  The biggest state in the union is deciding how to go. 

MELBER:  And then that brings us right into what you`re doing tonight, Chris.  Because you just mentioned some of the candidates who have higher positions.  They`ve held statewide office.  They`re more seasoned.  And yet we have Mayor Pete here in this.  What do you think he needs to do to be viable?  What are you going to be looking for him -- from him tonight? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think you`ve got two conferences just like in the NBA last night.  There is one conference, you might say the left conference, the hard left, the serious left.  And that`s where -- Bernie had been the leader of that.  Now we all know the same numbers.  Elizabeth is charging - - Elizabeth Warren, the senator, is coming very strong at him right now, with Kamala also challenging him.  I think they`re still fighting in the same conference.  You can call it the left conference. 

The center conference which is Biden owns it.  You know why?  Because Mike Bloomberg doesn`t -- didn`t run because Sherrod Brown didn`t run.  Terry McAuliffe didn`t run.  So he`s had all those breaks.  But I expect perhaps starting tonight, you`re going to see Buttigieg running in that column, the more center Democratic, not the hard left, but somewhere toward -- more toward the center.  But he may disagree with us tonight.  But I think he may offer himself up as a younger version of Biden.  So I think that`s going to really be -- he`s going to be chipping away at Biden.  That`s my hunch. 

MELBER:  Well, respectfully, most candidates could argue they`re a younger Biden in the sense that they`re younger than Biden.  Mayor Pete is super young, though. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MELBER:  I mean, if he were any younger, he wouldn`t be constitutionally eligible.  Do you press him on that?  I mean, do you say to him -- 

MATTHEWS:  That`s right. 

MELBER:  Why should you be in charge?  Or is that not your style?  You want -- 

MATTHEWS:  We`ll get to that. 

MELBER:  Just let him talk to the voters?  Go ahead. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don`t know.  I ran for Congress when I was 28 so I`m not going to knock --  MELBER:  You`re not the guy? 

MATTHEWS:  I think -- I`m not the one to attack youth.  I think -- I think we`ll see.  I do think that the world leaders of the younger age like Justin Trudeau up in Ottawa and of course Macron in Paris are not doing so great.  You want to get into that age thing, I`m not sure it works either way.  But Biden is definitely older than we`ve ever had before and this guy is younger than we`ve had anything before. 

We`ve got a pretty wide stretch of candidates in terms of age.  I mean, the one who`s sort of in the perfect slot is Kamala in terms of age, because early 50s is sort of like the sweet spot, age wise I would say, if you get into age. 

MELBER:  Yes.  And you`re certainly government wise you`re in your career prime there, typically, at least traditionally.  Of course a lot of traditions are breaking. 

I have some news here that I want to ask you about, Chris, that I`m sure will come up sooner or later in your interview with Mayor Pete, which we just got.  You know how it is around here.  This is official now.  The full House of Representatives will vote on June 11th to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, as you know, and I think our viewers have heard. 

If this goes forward as expected with the Democrats in control, he would be only the second attorney general in American history to be held in contempt.  It comes on a day -- 


MELBER:  As you know, that other committees are also bearing down on him and Wilbur Ross, as part of this new agenda. 


MELBER:  A, walk us through what this news means to you politically that the Democrats are still trying to get their pound of flesh from Barr. 


MELBER:  And B, how will you approach Mayor Pete about it? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think it`s a surrogate situation.  We know that.  They`re going after him, and he deserves it, of course, for his behavior.  But they`re going after him.  I don`t think they`re going to go after the president.  I don`t think impeachment is going to happen this summer.  And if it doesn`t happen this summer, I don`t think it`s going to happen.  I think delay is a reality but I think it`s basically a tactic.  They`re not going to do it.  That`s not in their blood right now. 

The fact that you`ve got only 38 members of the House out there now really championing impeachment, 200 sticking with the speaker.  I think they`ve decided that this is not the show that they want to put on the next year. 

MELBER:  Well, you put it like that. 

MATTHEWS:  I`m surprised, but I think it`s what`s happening.  They`re not going to do it. 

MELBER:  We started with the calendar we all live by which is how old are you until you expire and we ended on the shorter calendar, Chris, which is, as you put it, the narrow window that they have until 2020 really heats up.  I`m told that your time is tight.  So thank you so much for joining us.  We`ll be watching tonight.  Chris Matthews in less than an hour. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey, thank you. 

MELBER:  Yes, sir.  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Big night tonight, Ari.  Thank you for the buildup.  Thank you. 

MELBER:  Hey, I`m excited.  And our viewers can see it on the screen. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, you should be sure. 

MELBER:  "HARDBALL," Pete Buttigieg town hall special live event 7:00 Eastern tonight.  So that is big. 

Meanwhile, there is protest and trolling going on as Donald Trump is in the U.K. for the state visit.  Jared Kushner`s new interview being dubbed a, quote, "clown show."  You`re going see what he says about birtherism and a lot more when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER:  Jared Kushner rarely speaks, and a new interview suggests partly why that may be the case.  Kushner sitting down for an interview with Axios for the season premiere of their interview series on HBO.  And he faced some pretty straightforward journalistic questions about his Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, the administration`s approach to Saudi Arabia`s murder of a journalist, and then of course questions about whether Donald Trump is bigoted. 


SWAN:  Have you ever seen him say or do anything that you would describe as racist or bigoted? 

KUSHNER:  So the answer is no, absolutely not.  You can`t not be a racist for 69 years then run for president and be a racist.  And what I`ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they`re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country. 

SWAN:  Was birtherism racist? 

KUSHNER:  Um, look, I wasn`t really involved in that. 

SWAN:  I know you weren`t.  Was it racist? 

KUSHNER:  Like I said, I wasn`t involved in that. 

SWAN:  I know you weren`t.  Was it racist? 

KUSHNER:  Look, I know who the president is, and I have not seen anything in him that is racist.  So again, I was not involved in that. 

SWAN:  Did you wish he didn`t do that? 

KUSHNER:  Like I said, I was not involved in that.  That was a long time ago. 


MELBER:  "That was a long time ago," end quote.  Slate magazine is already dubbing this interview a, quote, "clown show."  I want to bring in some guests and there is a lot more from the interview that`s worth seeing. 

Vicky Ward is the author of "Kushner Inc.: Greed, Ambition, Corruption, the Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump," Christina Greer, political science professor, and Mara Gay, a member of "The New York Times" editorial board. 

First on the elliptical, I`ll call it defense, but elliptical defense of birtherism. 

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, first of all, the entire interview, there is a saying in journalism, we often will say show, don`t tell.  In other words, don`t tell me that something is indefensible.  Show me.  And I think this entire interview from birtherism to Israeli-Palestinian relations and so on was a vivid example of that. 

Jared Kushner was unwilling, first of all, to defend birtherism, which I thought was very interesting.  Trying to do some damage control for himself and his own brand, perhaps.  And maybe has some kind of a moral compass that guides him at some point.  But also just to have someone like Jared Kushner whose sole purpose was to defend the president and his father-in- law, and to have him be so unable to do that just tells you if Kushner can`t properly defend the president, then he is indefensible. 

CHRISTINA GREER, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  So I have a list.  There was Central Park Five, that $85,000 ad that he took out in "The New York Times."  There is birtherism.  There`s the S-hole countries that were the African nations that he talked about.  We have the Muslim ban.  Remember he talked about President Obama constantly playing basketball all day and watching television.  I mean, we have a list.  I wish the interviewer would have gone specifically with Jared Kushner. 

We know that Jared Kushner is not qualified for the job that he has, and he`s not qualified to defend his father-in-law because the proof is there, just as Mara said.  So, I mean, this is -- what is so frustrating is that we know we have the facts.  We know that the president feels a certain way about various groups of people whether it`s transgender or it`s LGBTQ community, whether it`s African-Americans, whether it`s Jewish Americans, you can go on and on. 

And so the problem is, let`s talk about the policies that he and his party are implementing to further sort of solidify I think his racist leanings and tendencies that he and his own father, Fred Trump, have had in New York City and across the country for many, many years.  Even how they have treated people at their various country clubs across the country. 

MELBER:  Very useful food for thought and receipts.  Then you get to a person who has been a biographer and dealt with him. 


MELBER:  And the parsing.  When he says he was not involve involved. 


MELBER:  As a journalist, he was very involved.  Jared Kushner by his own estimation played a big role. 

WARD:  Right. 

MELBER:  In the launching of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. 

WARD:  Right. 

MELBER:  Which rose on birtherism and nativism, and then doubled down. 

WARD:  Right. 

MELBER:  And then in the general election, if we want to talk about bigotry, had an explicit policy advocating the banning of individuals from entering this country based on their religion. 

WARD:  Right. 

MELBER:  He was I would say very involved. 

WARD:  He was.  One of the central themes of "Kushner Inc.," my book, is about, you know, how focused Jared and Ivanka Trump, his wife are, on messaging.  And you know one of the key instances where this was particularly true was about the Muslim travel ban.  Jared and Ivanka actually agreed with Trump`s policy on that.  He didn`t -- he wasn`t against it, until it turned into a bad meme involving them on the Internet when there was chaos in the airports and so forth. 

MELBER:  As opposed to a meme off the Internet. 

WARD:  As opposed to -- 


WARD:  Thank you, Ari. 

MELBER:  Thank you. 

WARD:  The -- but the other obviously big moment in my book was Charlottesville.  And again -- 

MELBER:  Right. 

WARD:  You saw Jared and Ivanka being completely complicit with Donald Trump said about being very fine people on both sides. 

MELBER:  Well, I want to say -- 

WARD:  Jared wasn`t disagreeing with Donald Trump. 

MELBER:  I want to say this carefully, because the whole point of dealing with civil rights and equality is not only caring about it if it comes home to your door.  Having said that, what did your reporting tell us about the way they dealt with Charlottesville when people were chanting, quote, "Jews will not replace us," and they are a Jewish household, Jared and Ivanka? 

WARD: Yes.  So, I say that they were actually.  They went -- they went on holiday right after that.  But when they came back and Gary Cohn went to see them on his way to resign because he was so appalled --

MELBER:  Or his way to not resign.

WARD:  Not resign as it -- as it --

MELBER:  Sorry, I`m a stickler.

WARD:  Yes -- no, no, fair enough.  But he was -- he was planning to.  You know, Jared rather typically said nothing and Ivanka said no, no my father never said that.  You`re mistaken, Gary Cohn.

MELBER:  Never said what?

WARD:  Never said there were very fine people on both sides.

MELBER:  Well, as we say in the newsroom, OK.  There`s much more in interview that I want to get to.  Thank you for that reporting.  Take a listen to -- having it all been said and done, and I have reported in fairness, on this broadcast repeatedly that the Mueller investigation did not find the Trump Tower meeting to be a criminal act.

So there are many ways that you could talk about that invoking that while also acknowledging that it was a terrible idea and how many Republicans and other experts said it was a bad idea.  You know, there`s a way to do that.  That`s not the road he took.  Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My question to you is why didn`t you pick up the phone and call the FBI?  It was an e-mail that said Russia -- that said the Russian government was trying to help, but why didn`t you do that?

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT:  Jonathan, we`re in a place now where people are playing Monday morning quarterback and they`re being so self-righteous.  Had there been something that actually was nefarious at that meeting that came up, maybe we would have done something different.  But the reality is that the meeting was a total waste of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But you`d tell the FBI if it happened again?

KUSHNER:  I don`t know.  It`s hard to do hypotheticals but the reality is that we were not given anything that was salacious.


MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  In some quarters people would call someone who behaves like that a traitor, but I guess you know, that`s not -- they get away.  This family gets away with everything.  The president, his family they get away with everything.  And I just I find it so important that their self-interest would extend so far that this family and this White House has is more interested in just holding on to power than in looking out for the interests of the United States.  If not America first right, it`s Trump first.

MELBER:  Well, and you can talk about the interest of the United States, and this goes to another important passage here which is the security clearances.  There are cynics who say we don`t need to hear from anyone.  You know, just to come up with all your opinions.

In fact, it`s very valuable to hear from the principals, to hear them press.  This is an individual whose strategy has been to avoid ever answering any questions.  And so that really comes through here when he does sit down with a reporter and his presence on security clearance is where the Congress and other investigation suggests the kind of abuse that might actually endanger people in the field.

This is real stuff.  And here`s his answer which is I`m not talking about that take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you -- did you discuss your security clearance with the president?

KUSHNER:  I`m not going to go into security clearance related issues.  What I do know again is that at this point after two years, I`ve probably been more vetted than anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I understand.  Your wife Ivanka said no.  Can you say no?

KUSHNER:  Yes, I have not discussed it with him.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Categorically.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You never discussed it.

KUSHNER:  I have not discussed it.


CHRISTINA GREER, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  OK.  So what we have here is someone who is fundamentally unqualified to be in the position that he`s in.  He`s only there because he is the president`s son- in-law.  And I put this solely at the feet of the members of Congress.  They need to start subpoenaing people and really punishing people for not upholding the U.S. Constitution.

This is a family where they are out for themselves and to make money.  We saw this today with the great reporting about a Chao and Mitch McConnell.  So we know that so many people are using this opportunity to enrich themselves.  Jared Kushner, though is equivocating over sort of minor details in the interview.  But the problem is the President has already framed the FBI is an enemy to his administration and to the family personally.

So we`re no longer even talking about the FBI is this sort of separate, isolated entity that is there to uphold the U.S. Constitution as well.

MELBER:  Right.  And doesn`t this go, Vicky to whether or not it has been a net positive for the country and the Trump administration to have the family so intimately involved.  To paraphrase the ten crack commandments, was it a mistake for Trump to violate one of them and not keep his family and business completely separated?

WARD:  It certainly was, Ari.  I mean, you know, I have to tell you that I went back to some of my sources for Kushner Inc. this afternoon to ask what they thought of Jared`s interview and the line that they think will come back to haunt him is the flat-out denial about not talking to his father and nor about the security clearance.

MELBER:  Because --

WARD:  Because it`s not possible.  Jared Kushner is the --

MELBER:  Which makes it a --

WARD:  -- a lie.  He is the -- the nickname is the secretary of everything, the story about hidden -- not having a security clearance was front page news for weeks and weeks and weeks in 2018 as we know.  He only got a security clearance because the president intervened.  The chance that they did not discuss that according to my sources who were right that is nil.

MELBER:  Well, that`s -- it`s very striking especially given your reporting.  I want to thank Mara, and Vicky.  And Cristina, I want you to stick around for some of the breaking news we have.  Still ahead, Donald Trump`s Attorney General Bill Barr in new hot water Democrat setting this date for a full House vote to hold him in contempt.  And Neal Katyal is here with a very special set of receipts when we come back.


MELBER:  Breaking news right now.  The full House of Representatives will hold a formal vote to hold Donald Trump Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress and they have a date, it`s next Tuesday, June 11th.

The Judiciary Committee you may recall had held a committee vote on this last month. recommending that he be held in contempt after refusing to turn over the full unredacted Mueller report.  Political Scientist Christina Greer is back with me.

For viewers have heard the word contempt a lot, it kicks around.  There`s even news today about Wilbur Ross getting a committee contempt vote.  But this appears different because as of next week, if the Democrats hold together as they`re expected, Mr. Barr will be the first Attorney General in American history to be held in contempt this early in his term.

GREER:  Right and as he should be, right?  I mean keep in mind -- why not, right?  I mean, we have been talking about the Mueller report except for the fact that none of us who have been talking about it have read the full report that`s not redacted.

So we`re talking about most of it but there`s still some very important items in there where I don`t necessarily need to have it.  Fine, I`m a political science professor.  But my elected officials in Congress need to have everything that was said that Robert Mueller put together.

MELBER:  And what we`re seeing here with Speaker Pelosi and Nadler is they are now moving forward more aggressively.  We reported on this earlier while they were in recess and the question was if you wait too long, do you undercut your arguments in court that you need expeditious resolution of these other subpoenas that are being allegedly defied or do they have executive privilege, that`s a debate.

GREER:  Right.

MELBER:  And so what does it mean to you as a student of inter-branch relations that Barr`s sort of defiance, contempt, anger, whatever you want to call it.  He`s been pretty rough with the Congress is being met this way tonight.

GREER:  Well, because Barr has already presented himself as one who works for the executive branch and that is not what his job is.  So when the framers put together the equilateral branches of government, and keep in mind they put Congress first.  Article One of the Constitution is the legislative branch.  Article Two is the executive, and then we go to the third article in the judicial.

So, Barr, he`s presented himself as an employee of Donald Trump not an employee of the United States people, and definitely not someone who follows the U.S. Constitution.

MELBER:  And let me --

GREER:  The two-page summary was definitely --

MELBER:  Four -- the four-page summary.

GREER:  Four-page -- I`m sorry four-page letter.

MELBER:  Let me put this in the -- in the political backdrop which is the Democrats trying to walk the line of building support for impeachment while not using the I-word that much.  We had a congressman earlier in the show about that.  Here`s this video that`s also out now making the case with former federal prosecutors.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This administration in my view has an absolute disregard for the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Mueller report makes a very strong case on obstruction of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where the president, anybody other than the president, he would have been subject to the indictment.  I realized that the Barr summary was not a fair and accurate summary of what the Mueller report contained.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I did not think that it was even a close prosecutorial call as to whether the president obstructed justice.


MELBER:  All former Republican appointees prosecutors making this case.  But is this a good persuasion campaign against this contempt vote next week if it`s still asking the public to learn a lot about what these things mean?

GREER:  Well, I think we need to do a better job as folks who speak to the public every evening in their living rooms to help them fundamentally understand.  Barr, keep in mind has jumped out in the court of public opinion and gave his four-page summary and then gave his press conference and so many outlets that have picked up on his analysis.

We then had Robert Mueller who came out and said well that`s actually not what I said.  He also said that quite a few weeks after this four-page letter.  So I think unfortunately with this administration it`s just been a constant barrage of illegalities --

MELBER:  A barrage.

GREER:  A barrage lies, of cheating, and stealing ever since the inauguration.

MELBER:  Are you frustrated with Mueller now?

GREER:  Well, you know, I`m still -- I`m still holding out hope for a Mueller but I --

MELBER:  Hope for what?

GREER:  Hope that the high esteem that I hold for him and his respect for the Constitution and his job remains.  I don`t agree with certain critics that say --

MELBER:  No, I don`t think anyone is challenging his good faith.

GREER:  Right, but this -- we are also not in normal times either.  This is -- we are in dangerous times and we in times where we are seeing grown man completely throw out the will of law, women too, shout out to Alabama governor, right. but we`re seeing grown people disrespect the will of law and go and work for solely the president, someone who`s never had a board of directors, someone who`s never answered to anyone but his father and this is quite troublesome to me.

MELBER:  Professor Greer on the breaking news, thank you very much.  We`ll fit in a quick break, and then I will be joined by former Solicitor General Neal Katyal who literally wrote the special counsel rules for opening arguments.  He`s here next.


MELBER:  One of Speaker Pelosi`s top deputies is now publicly arguing Congress will hold impeachment proceedings eventually.  58 members of Congress now back impeachment.  But critics say it is time for Congress to just move on and not relitigate all of this which raises the question of all the things Congress has looked into in its history, would this be the thing to move on from.

Take a point from a former Obama DOJ official, a Congress that spent years investigating Benghazi surely should spend an equivalent amount of time and energy investigating potential wrongdoing by the president.  That very official joins me now, former Solicitor General Neal Katyal who has argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court and leads our opening arguments series.

Great to see you, Neal.  You argued this is both important for Congress to tackle and that Barr has contradicted himself.  How?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Yes.  So as I started to think about what happened last week, those to press moments one with Robert Mueller and having a press conference, the other William Barr talking to CBS News.  I started to realize I think actually those two conferences are going to set the tone for the next year and determine what happens.

And Mueller went on the cameras and said basically look, I couldn`t indict a sitting president.  I was bound by DOJ opinions and therefore I also couldn`t label Trump a criminal.  That would be unfair to label someone a criminal and not give him the legal process to clear his name.  So that`s Mueller.

Then Barr the next day tells CBS News, oh no, actually Mueller could have labeled Trump a criminal.  There was nothing prohibiting him for doing that.  And I started to think about that and thought you know, I was covering for -- with Brian Williams for your network, the confirmation hearings of Barr and I thought, I don`t think that`s what Barr said to his confirmation hearings.  And so I think you`ve got a clip about that so let`s hear the clip.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  I personally felt he could have reached the decision.  The opinion says you cannot indict a president while he`s in office but he could have reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity, but he had his reasons for not doing it which he explained.

If you`re not going to indict someone then you don`t stand up there and unload negative information about the person.  That`s not the way the Department of Justice does business.


MELBER:  Walk us through it.

KATYAL:  So you know, I was looking through all the confirmation hearing testimony and I saw that and I thought boy, you know, that is just a flat contradiction Barr three months ago to get his job saying one thing and now saying something absolutely different.  It`s an attorney general.

And remember the Attorney General is our highest legal officer in the land.  The person is supposed to events you know, just the utmost respect for a law in principle.  And you have an attorney general who`s literally careening from position to position whatever suits him on a given day in order to clear his boss, the president.

And I think, Ari, this has real implications because Mueller is saying, I can`t answer the question of whether the president obstructed justice.  I`m not allowed to give you an answer.  Barr then grabs it and says oh no, I`ll give you an answer, the president did nothing wrong.

But Barr`s answer is not worth the paper it`s printed on.  This is a cheaters answer.  This isn`t a real answer.  And there`s now only one at least federal entity that can give us a real answer and that`s Congress.  And that`s why the set up to this the whole piece was Congress and impeachment and I think there isn`t any doubt now that there has to be an official inquiry into what the president did.

MELBER  Well, you lay it out so clearly and I`m so glad you brought those receipts because one of the things that Barr does is he misleads in very careful complex ways so it actually takes you know, if I may, a Neal Katyal level amount of research to go wait, right, that doesn`t actually square.  In the service of being clear, I want to quote a very much a non-lawyer who put the question so crisply in the New York Times which is Maureen Dowd who folks remember has written about many in Washington issues.  And she says it very straightforward.

She says, look, Mueller`s argument is he report on what his facts mean because the president has immunity from prosecution but that doesn`t follow.  If you believe Trump committed a crime, even if you can`t indict him now, why not say so?  Neal?

KATYAL:  So look, I think that if Barr didn`t say what he said at his confirmation hearings, you could imagine Mueller in March taking a very different view and answering the question of whether the president obstructed justice.  But remember, Mueller`s ultimate boss, his supervisor is William Barr and he was following what Barr told him to do at his confirmation hearings which is don`t go and attack someone and tear their reputation down if you don`t give them legal process.

MELBER:  And that -- and that brings to the other thing I want to ask you about.  In the rules that you wrote which have this trigger for serious disagreements go to the Congress, and the good news of for the Trump Justice Department, Barr and its predecessors, was under the rules you wrote, there was nothing at that level of disagreement.

And yet it does seem now that we take it all together, there have been other sub -- smaller, more implicit disagreements that didn`t rise to that level.  It seems to me right now you`re gesturing at one which may be that that Barr sort of pushed Mueller in a certain direction and he took the order.

KATYAL:  Well, it`s possible.  I mean, it seems like actually, Barr was playing a little bit of what I think could be termed a bait and switch.  I mean, he`s meeting with Mueller and early March.  Mueller tells him hey, I`m not going to reach a decision and presumably Mueller thought so because that`s exactly what you told me to do at your confirmation hearing.  And then later --

MELBER:  Right.  The quote -- just to be clear, so he says we don`t unload on people.

KATYAL:  Exactly.

MELBER:  Mueller comes back and says in plain English, so I`m not going to unload on him with you know, not indict him in and then unload, and then go ahead.

KATYAL:  And then Mueller does exactly that.  He turns in his report without unloading on Trump and then Bill Barr goes and says oh well now I get to clear the president.  And how come Mueller didn`t do this you know, and acts so surprised and so on when that`s of course exactly the path that he laid down at his confirmation hearings.

And again, you know, it`s just so troubling Ari that this is the Attorney General of the United States.  I mean, and this isn`t a five or ten-year- old kid who you know, lies on Monday in order to make Tuesday better or something like that.  These are really fundamental serious issues.

And what this demonstrates is that anyone out there who thinks that Barr cleared Trump has to rethink that position because this is a man who literally right now is doing things and saying things just for the service of clearing the president.  I mean, he`s betraying had the own principles that he himself laid out at his confirmation hearing.

MELBER:  Well, you lay it out there and I know you`re quite careful responsible and these are colleagues of yours really in an institution that you care a lot about.  So it means a lot and it`s striking,  Neal Katyal, thank you.

KATYAL:  Than you.  If you want to see this segment including the receipts Neal brought and our past discussions many of which are relevant right now, go to  You can get all of it.

Now, coming up, we`ll be back with one more thing on Mayor Pete.



PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My generation, it is a matter of life and death, whether we deal with climate change and school shootings and reduced life expectancy.  We`re taking the long view because we have to.


MELBER:  Mayor Pete on the campaign trail.  And in moments he will be at a special town hall event right here on MSNBC.  It`s moderated by "HARDBALL`S" Chris Matthews.  We were speaking about it earlier tonight.  They have a lot to get to, including this breaking news out of the House that they are going to hold a vote to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt next Tuesday.

So keep it locked right here.  A "HARDBALL" town hall in Fresno, California.