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Impeachment calls grow. TRANSCRIPT: 6/4/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Jacob Weisberg, David Cicilline, Leah WrightRigueur, Niall Stanage, Elie Mystal, John Flannery, Amy Klobuchar

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR:  I`m trying to remember the last time where we they may have even -- the decision may have already been written and now they have to decide whether this new evidence should undo all of that.  Dale Ho, thank you for coming on and sharing your views.  I appreciate it.

DALE HO, DIRECTOR, ACLU`S VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT:  Thank you so much for having me.

TODD:  That`s all we have for tonight.  I want to thank my friends here in Dallas for being terrific hosts here, an amazing affiliate.  We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.  "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.  Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening.  Shout out to Dallas.  Thank you, Chuck.  And we have a lot to get to tonight.  Later this hour, we`re going to have some international news about the protests against President Trump, including the return of the baby blimp.  More on that later.

Meanwhile, a new prison assignment for convicted Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, he could be headed to Rikers Island.  And a first on THE BEAT tonight, I`m thrilled to tell you I`ll be joined by 2020 candidate Amy Klobuchar for her first interview with us since jumping in the race.  So that`s a lot this hour, I hope you`ll stick around.

We begin right now with Democrats firing back against the new stonewalling from the Trump White House.  Today, directing two more former White House aides, including loyalist and person in every room, Hope Hicks, to defy congressional subpoenas.

Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler says he`s not having it and he says today, "The President has no lawful basis for preventing these witnesses from complying with our request," telling reporters Hicks should show up for her hearing later this month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sir, do you expect Annie Donaldson and Hope Hicks to appear for these hearings?

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY):  Well, they`re due to appear.  Let`s see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you satisfied with Hicks` response, sir?


MELBER:  That`s the kind of interview that lasts as long as it takes to catch tell elevator, but you got the headline and it`s not the only thing the Democrats are planning right now.  Speaker Pelosi`s top deputy saying the House should go ahead, this is new and something everyone has been thinking about since Wednesday, go ahead and issue a subpoena, force Bob Mueller to testify since he`s made it clear he doesn`t want to speak in public voluntarily.

And then you get to someone who did finally come around to speaking in public.  Richard Nixon`s Watergate star witness, John Dean, will come back for his turn on the Hill.  The very next day, the full House will vote on contempt for both Attorney General Bill Barr who Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff dubbed today, the second most dangerous man in America.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  The attorney general who really is the President`s defense lawyer and spokesperson, and who is quite good at it, and has the veneer of respectability to camouflage what he`s doing.  I think he`s the second most dangerous man in the country.


MELBER:  Second most dangerous, the implication being the President.  And then as I mentioned before we set up Mr. Schiff`s point, you also have contempt coming for Don McGahn.  So there is a sort of a building in pieces or little pieces, if you want to call that, from the Democrats.

All this pressure, though, has Pelosi wondering whether she needs to do more, because people are saying, is this died impeachment, is it impeachment-like?  Is it time for an actual impeachment probe?

58 House Democrats and one Republican say it is that time.  Half of the Democrats publicly on the Judiciary Committee, we`ve been told right here on THE BEAT that there may be more privately, and now a new push for more than two dozen joined liberal groups saying it is time.

Now, one of the most high profile Democrats to call for impeachment, freshman progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it`s time to get on board.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY):  I think that the tide is turning with the public and seeing exactly what is going on with the President advising witnesses to ignore legally finding subpoenas.  I think that at this point it is getting to become so overwhelming that we need to uphold to rule of law and the constitution of the United States.


MELBER:  We are joined by "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg.  She has been writing about what`s going on out in the country, Democratic voters do want impeachment as the House dawdles.  And journalist Jacob Weisberg, former editor-in-chief at "Slate" and co-founder and CEO of the podcast company, Pushkin Industries.  I get that right?


MELBER:  Cool.  Nice to have you both here.  Let`s get into it.  Is it time?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST:  Well, I think it`s been time for a while, right?  But I think that one of the things that`s really starting to change is that there is much more of a public ground swell than there was in the past, you know.

So, it used to be that Democratic leaders would say, and they`ve said it to me and you hear them say it in interviews that if you go into the country, people aren`t talking about this stuff, right?  There are only people in the beltway are obsessed with Mueller and with the repercussions of the Mueller report and that has really, really changed.

You`ve seen it in interviews on this network, you know, the other day.  Bennie Thompson was on Chris Hayes` show and he was saying that he --

MELBER:  We have that.  Let`s take a look at that.



REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS):  I`ve talked to a lot of people.  And to the person, everybody says, what are you all going to do about President Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There`s been a shift in the conversation in my community, in my district.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  The report lays out 11 instances of possible obstruction of justice by the President of the United States.  I told you this was like coming home for me.


GOLDBERG:  So, again, I`ve kind of heard the same thing talking to people, right, that they say that at their town halls for the first time, you know, as much as people want to ask about prescription drug prices, they want to say what are you doing to hold this lawless President to account?

And the other problem, and I think that Nancy Pelosi is moving to address this, is that her alternative has always been, "No, we`re going to run these hearings and see where they lead."  But until maybe today, they haven`t really been leading anywhere because the White House has been took at stonewalling them.

WEISBERG:  Ari, I really think Donald Trump is trying to provoke the Democrats into impeaching him.  And Democrats naturally have the reaction, "Well, if he wants us to do it, it must be bad for us politically."

But I think there are a couple problems with that assumption.  One, it`s fighting the last war.  It`s assuming that because impeachment back fired in the case of Bill Clinton, that it would back fire in the case of Donald Trump.  I think that presumes a lot, we don`t know.  But I think in a way, the bigger problem is trivializing impeachment and politicizing it to that extent.

Impeachment is a solemn thing in our democracy.  It`s happened twice in our history.  I think there`s a strong case for it with Donald Trump, but I don`t think Democrats can approach it from the point of view of how is this going to play in the election.  This isn`t a filibuster.  This isn`t the next roll call.  This is impeachment.

MELBER:  There`s also a sort of procedure-itis that you notice in the way that this is discussed by at least some public officials.  Joe Biden declares himself an arbiter of frank talk.  But he`s falling into it as well, using the I-word to sort of suggest to voters that he`s open to this while really saying, oh, well, who knows someday this may happen.  It`s sort of like, aren`t you all in charge of things?  So take a look at the former vice president.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If they get stonewalled and can`t make any progress in any of that, then I think they have no alternative but to move to an impeachment proceeding.


MELBER:  If then no alternative, then they will.  I mean, if you want to be the leader of the party, the nominee, let alone the President, wouldn`t this be around the time where you have to tell the voters you`re for this or not?  And if not, maybe you make a strong case and explain why.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  And I think that you`re seeing, you know, candidates like Elizabeth Warren who have been on this upward trajectory that really started in some sense when she kind of came out strongly for impeachment in the immediate aftermath of the Mueller report.  In full disclosure, my husband has been consulting for Elizabeth Warren.

But, I do think that there is this hunger because what`s happening right now is that I think the people who have politicized it the most are the people who are opposed to it, right, the people who are -- the Democrats were opposed to impeachment, they`re not making the argument that it`s not warranted for the most part and they`re certainly not making that argument privately.

MELBER:  Is that politically unfeasible for them?

GOLDBERG:  Right.  The argument that they`re making consistently is that it will hurt us in 2020, it will hurt us in these front line districts.

MELBER:  What I`m asking you is that politically unfeasible for them then?

GOLDBERG:  I think --

MELBER:  They`re caught between saying to the base, well, of course, you think there`s a legitimate case for impeachment so I`m not going to make the substantive case against it, I`m going to make this future bank shot that Jacob is going to assess (ph).

GOLDBERG:  I think it`s not -- I think that the argument that they`ve been making that basically he`s a criminal.  He has clearly committed impeachable offenses, but we`re not going to move to impeachment unless we know that we have the Republican votes to convict in the Senate.  I think it makes them look like they`re failing to lead and they`re sort of, you know, putting their fingers to the political win.

MELBER:  It`s wild.  I mean -- and also you have people who are kind of getting into that a little bit of that collusion truther space where there -- you have some Democrats still arguing that maybe there was something very nefarious or criminal at the level of Russian conspiracy.

GOLDBERG:  But that`s not truther.  I mean, I think that the -- I mean, the report has over 100 pages on contacts between various Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

MELBER:  Is that Bob Mueller didn`t find a rose to a criminal conspiracy, which is to say --

GOLDBERG:  Right, but doesn`t use the framework of collusion there was obviously collusion.

MELBER:  Well, what I`m saying is you have people who point of all you want and try to make it sound what I`m arguing is worse that it is and then they`re still against impeachment.  And I guess my question then would be, how bad is it if you think volume one is really bad and volume two is super bad, why are you against impeachment?

Hang with me.  I want to bring in Congressman David Cicilline who serves under Judiciary Committee and is advocating impeachment hearings.  I know you`re running around.  Thanks for getting to us.  (INAUDIBLE) choice on any of the above that you`ve been hearing that you want to weighted on you or in the body we are just talking about it.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  Well, I think your guest that was speaking about the solemn responsibility that we have really hits the mark.  Michelle Goldberg`s piece last week was superb.  This is about our responsibility to uphold the rule of law to defend the constitution of the United States.

I have been advocating for the opening of an impeachment inquiry, which is a formal process for considering whether to move forward with articles of impeachment.  I think we have seen substantial evidence in the Mueller report, you know, 10 specific instances of obstruction of justice that include asking witnesses to create false documents to be untruthful in their testimony, to fire the special counsel and on and on.

We now have seen the President, since the Mueller report has been released, engaging in an ongoing cover-up and trying to prevent us and the American people from seeing the full truth and behaving as if he`s above the law.  No one in this country, including the President of the United States is above the law.

He`s attempted to obstruct congressional investigation of these matters and I think we need to signal to him and all those around him that we are proceeding to the next step to open a formal inquiry to make a determination so that we can gather the evidence appropriate to make this decision.

But, you know, this is about -- not just this President, this is about future presidents, about how people will look at the responsibility of honoring the constitution, honoring our oath of office and this is a moment where Democrats have to stand up and defend the constitution and --


MELBER:  And so you lay that all out.  Then on the hearings themselves, are the Democrats wrong to put John Dean`s, you know, greatest hits back in the day testimony ahead of say, Bob Mueller?

CICILLINE:  No.  Look, we`re continuing to bring and to do what we have to do to get the witnesses before the committee.  The conversations with Mr. Mueller continue.  We`re going to bring contempt proceedings against two witnesses that defy something with this (ph).

MELBER:  Let me press you on the Mueller side.  The contempt is important.  We`ve been covering that here.  But on the Mueller side, wouldn`t you want to hear from Mueller before John Dean?  And hasn`t Mueller made clear what his position is?  He told you last week publicly, and Jerry Nadler says they`ve been negotiating privately, but he told the world he`s only coming if he`s subpoenaed.

CICILLINE:  Yes.  I think there is no question that Robert Mueller made it clear to the committee and to the American people that he would prefer not to testify.  But in my view, it is his duty to testify.  If he doesn`t -- if he`s not willing to do it voluntarily, then we absolutely must subpoena him before the committee.

MELBER:  And I`m only pressing you because you just said if.  But he said - - I mean, tell me if I`m missing something.  He said Wednesday in lawyerly words, you`d have to subpoena me to come.  When would that subpoena come if you are for it?

CICILLINE:  Well, you know, I would advocate for that subpoena immediately.  Obviously the chairman of --

MELBER:  Immediately.

CICILLINE:  Yes.  The chairman of the committee is continuing and the staff of the committee to talk to the Mueller team to see if they can reach an accommodation that`s obviously better if he comes on his own.  But, he has to come before the committee.  That report --

MELBER:  Now, you had me and now you just lost me, Congressman.  He ain`t coming.  He ain`t coming.

CICILLINE:  No, no.  I`m saying --

MELBER:  He ain`t coming voluntarily, right?

CICILLINE:  No, no.  I`m saying if he doesn`t come voluntarily, if that`s the final determination he makes, then I have every confidence the chairman of the committee will issue the subpoena that will compel his attendance and that he`ll comply with that subpoena.

This is a duty he owes to the country.  He did extraordinary work on behalf of the American people when he conducted this investigation.  He now has the responsibility to walk the American people and the committee through the Mueller report, to the decisions he made, the determinations he made, the judgment he`s made.

This wasn`t a report that was created because of an attack on American democracy on our presidential elections.  That was the reason this began and it`s absolutely essential that he come before the committee and explain the concept (ph) of that report.

If, you know, I think people want to give him every benefit of every doubt as they negotiate.  But if and when he ultimately says, I will not come unless you subpoena me, then we ought to subpoena him immediately.


MELBER:  I`m going to leave that topic there, because that`s what I think he said.  Jacob, final thought?

WEISBERG:  Well, we`re very focused on the Mueller report and obstruction of justice is almost certainly the first article of impeachment.  But I don`t think it`s the only one and we`re tending to forget some of the others.  Remember, high crimes and misdemeanors is fundamentally about the abuse of power.  Not all crimes are impeachable offenses and not all impeachable offenses are crimes.

I think Donald Trump pointed at another impeachable offense yesterday when he called for a boycott of AT&T on Twitter, more or less to punish CNN.  I think that`s an abuse of presidential authority.  I think there`s an article of impeachment related to corruption, the way he and his family have enriched themselves through office.

I think these things have to be aired.  I think they have to be further investigated.  I`m not certain exactly what the articles of impeachment are, but it`s not just the Mueller report, it`s not just obstruction.

MELBER:  Well, and that goes I think to what the congressman was arguing earlier and why he`s been advocating, which is, yes, those hearings then become a place to do that in a formal and in a serious way stipulating if it goes that direction that there is a process that people have to abide by, not because of the politics but because and if it`s what the Congress wants to do.

Or as I`ve said on the show, if not, then Congress will let us know and we`ll move forward on the other stories.  The speaker seems to be holding out maybe possibly someday.  Very interesting stuff.  Congressman Cicilline, Michelle Goldberg, and Jacob Weisberg, thanks to each of you.

GOLDBERG:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Really appreciate it.  Coming up, thousands flooding the streets to protest Donald Trump`s visits to London as he makes this claim.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Say it loud.  Say it clear.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison):  Donald Trump`s not welcome here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Say it loud.  Say it clear.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison):  Donald Trump`s not welcome here.


MELBER:  Plus, Bob Mueller spokesman telling me he`s not going to comment on some explosive and controversial reports in a new book.  We`re going to get into what it means when they won`t comment on leaks from Mueller`s office.

And, Paul Manafort maybe heading to Rikers.  What message could that send to Roger Stone?  And then later as mentioned, Amy Klobuchar is here for her first media interview as a candidate.  I`m Ari Melber and we`ll be right back


MELBER:  Protesters taking on President Trump in London today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Say it loud.  Say it clear.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison):  Donald Trump`s not welcome here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Say it loud.  Say it clear.  Say it loud.  Say it clear.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison):  Donald Trump`s not welcome here.


MELBER:  That was just a mile away from Trump`s press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May.  And there was so much more, including something you have heard about, this little guy or big guy, depending on how you look at it, a somewhat notorious 20-foot diaper clad inflatable Trump baby clutching his own little inflatable cell phone.

There was also a "Game of Thrones" reference, a sign reading, "We`d rather have a visit from the knight king."  And then outside Buckingham Palace, signs reading, "Trump for prison," and "The queen loathes you."  Fact check, not publicly true based on their cordial greeting.

Now, the protest range throughout Trump`s press conference and he did what he does, not rise above it, not engage in diplomacy with special ally, no.  He broke ground by going to this country and attacking the mayor of London for a poor job.  Then talked up his tariff threat to Mexico, then claimed the protests you see here with your own eyes in the country that he was visiting where he is a visitor, well, he said that it`s not even real.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Even coming over today, there were thousands of people cheering.  And then I heard that there were protesters.  I said, "Where are the protests?"  I don`t see any protest.  I did see a small protest today when I came, very small.  So a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say.  And I didn`t see the protesters until just a little while ago and it was a very, very small group of people put in for political reasons.  So, it was fake news.


MELBER:  I`m joined by Harvard Professor Leah Wright Rigueur and the White House columnist for "The Hill," Niall Stanage.  Niall, what does it all mean?

NIALL STANAGE, THE HILL COLUMNIST:  Well, I mean, what it means for a start is that President Trump continues to believe that the statement of facts is in some way a smear against him.  I mean, there were protesters there.  It`s not fake news.  It`s the evidence of our own eyes.

And the other thing I would say, Ari, is that this visit reminds me high expectations for the President have been lowered internationally as well as domestically.  The mere fact that he didn`t, as he has done in the past, retweet quasi-fascists or didn`t declare as he has done in the past that areas of London are no go areas is seen as some kind of victory.

The fact that Donald Trump did not create a major international incident is calls for to us all to shout hooray and breakout the gin and tonics.  I mean, it`s a very peculiar environment that we`re in, I think.

MELBER:  Well, we`re fact checking, take a listen to how this -- some of this was covered on Fox News.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And here comes Ivanka.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And some security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The National Security Adviser Ivanka Trump walking across together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It just sounds like some booing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, it does.  And it`s not for Ivanka, it`s for John Bolton and he loves it.


MELBER:  You know, are there special sort of -- like eyeglasses you can get so you know who the boos are for when you`re covering a live event?

STANAGE:  It`s a special British form of all the scale or genius that you can work out, that you can mind read the boo-ers and see who they`re booing or hear who they`re booing.  I mean, this sort of thing is absurd to try to protect the President by engaging in propaganda abroad as well as at home.

MELBER:  Leah?

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR:  Yes.  So we know that the Trump administration and the Trump family and Donald Trump have a creative and casual relationship with the truth and with fact and that`s on full display here.  So there is an alternative reality happening within this world.

With that that said, the Brits absolutely know how to troll the President.  They know how to get under his skin and they did it with, you know, with style, with spectacle.  They took the day off from work.  They spent a lot of money and effort and put a lot of creativity into this.  We also saw the royal family troll in their own little way.

But the other thing to remember, Ari, too, is that protests matters and protest is important.  So, we saw protests during the 2003, you know, after the announcement about the invasion of Iraq, global protests.  We saw protests during Donald Trump`s inauguration all over the world, millions of people.

And once again, we`re seeing on a national stage, on a global stage that we really are isolating ourselves.  The United States is isolating ourselves and that global powers and people that we`ve considered allies, people that we have been in coalition with are rejecting the nation and that does matter.

MELBER:  Yes.  And, Leah, I wonder what you think as a professor thinking about the history.  Donald Trump is certainly not the first president to delight in certain foreign clashes, both as an attitude and then playing it back home.  Of course, they dislike me there because I fight for us.  So, I certainly don`t mean to suggest there`s nothing unique about that nationalism.

But, when you see the British leader, Corbyn, going out, breaking tradition today to march with the protesters of a visiting U.S. president, you do start to wonder if that term we used to hear about, soft power, is also eroding under this President in a way where we just don`t have our allies in our corner or do you think that`s overstated, Leah?

RIGUEUR:  You know, yes.  So, you know -- I mean, we`ve heard this a couple of -- we heard this from the beginning of Trump`s presidency where a number of foreign powers, people that we had considered allies, you know, had been engaged in good diplomatic relations with, had said we can`t count on the United States anymore.

We have to go it on our own.  We have to look to other powers.  We have to look towards other alliances.  And we also know that Donald Trump and the Trump administration seem to feel very comfortable with authoritarian governments with, you know, dictatorships, with really questionable, problematic, troubling governments that have really alarming relationships to human rights, to ethics and that kind of thing.

So, really what we`re seeing is -- I mean, a realignment.  And, you know, like you said, Ari, we`ve seen presidents before who have had, you know, tense negotiations with other presidents.  I don`t know that we have seen something of this magnitude in the current, you know, in the current moment and that should be cause for alarm.

MELBER:  Yes.  I`m almost out of time here now, but I did want to hear your accent one more time.

STANAGE:  Well, all I can say with Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) is there ain`t no love in the heart of the city.

MELBER:  Wow.  Ain`t no love in the heart of the city.  Ain`t no love in the heart of town.  A Jay-Z remix of, who was the original, I`m not sure.

STANAGE:  It will -- oh, the name is escaping me now.  It was a soul singer of the `70s.

MELBER:  A soul singer of the `70s.  Can I phone a friend?

STANAGE:  It`s not coming back to me, so you`ll have to.

MELBER:  The control room is telling me, not only can I not phone a friend, but I`m out of time, which I did preview.  I love the reference.  Do we have it?  No.  No, we don`t have it.  The news is fast, but not that fast.

If you are watching this and you have Twitter, please tweet at TheBeatWithAri, tell us the answer.  There are reports coming in that it may be Bobby Bland.  We need a second source, but that`s what we`re hearing.  Thanks to both of you.

STANAGE:  Thanks, Ari.

RIGUEUR:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Appreciated you guys.  When we come back in 30 seconds, a developing story on Paul Manafort, but first, these critical reports of leaked Mueller memos.  They would be the first, but they are controversial and contested.  I`ll explain when we come back.


MELBER:  Now, we`ve been discussing top Democrats debating right now whether to start impeachment proceedings.  But one thing that many agree on is whatever you called these hearings, there`s a growing clamor for Mueller to testify publicly to get his insights and thought process on things that aren`t just in the report, which would include potentially his clashes with Barr, the team`s internal deliberations, his reasoning behind decisions, including the controversial ones like not forcing Trump to testify.  Mueller is famously tight-lipped.

Hearing from him, Democrats and many other experts say could inform our understanding of all of this and whether the House wants to impeach or not.  And that`s the context for something that I`m going to tell you right now that you may not have heard about because it is brands new, an alleged peek deep inside Mueller`s operation.

Now, this comes from Michael Wolff`s new book, "Siege: Trump Under Fire."  Wolff claims that he obtained parts of several written memos from inside Mueller`s office for the first time.

Now, we`ve read them, which is why I`m talking to you about it.  These quotes from these memos explore the heart of Mueller`s legal powers.  These memos explore what Mueller and his team might do in doomsday scenarios, including the big one, what if Trump fired Mueller or issued blanket pardons to effectively end the whole probe.

So, whatever you think of all these Trump books that come out and how accurate are they, this is big stuff with long quotes allegedly from inside Mueller`s office.  So, we did what we do around here.  I personally asked the Justice Department and Mueller`s former spokesman, now former because he quit, of course, resigned, whether these quotes from the memos were accurate and this is all I can tell you.  The DOJ declined to comment on it at all or, and this is important, or to object to the veracity of these memos on the record.  If they objected, I would tell you that.

Now, what do we have here?  Mueller`s team basically discussing what would they do if Trump fired Mueller and they were discussing this in a very real way.  "The New York Times" and others reporting Trump was trying to do that.

Now, Wolff said Mueller`s team did what lawyers do.  They got a team together.  They researched the law.  They looked in a fair way, not to just defend themselves but to try to understand, could Donald Trump as president fire the special counsel?

And Wolff says in his book, quoting the memos that they determined Trump could order Jeff Sessions to basically fire Mueller, fire the special counsel directly, or revoke the rules that would prohibit that.

Now, let me read to you exactly what the DOJ said because that`s an important part when you have these kinds of stories.  This is what the DOJ tells me today.  We can only refer you to the report and Mr. Mueller`s statement last week.

Now, as you may know, sometimes the Justice Department and other agencies that have secrecy like the CIA even, they will sometimes say we`re not going to comment but on background they`ll wave you off.  They`ll say look, Ari, this really is not real stuff.  They didn`t do that here.

Now, I want to bring in our experts to get through a couple of these items.  Elie Mystal, Executive Editor of Above the Law and Former Federal Prosecutor John Flannery.  John, when you look at the quote we just read which Wolff says is from written analysis that the Mueller folks did, and it shows that they basically came to a legal view that Trump could end the probe by firing him.  How do you think that might affect their deliberations and their decisions?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, I think they were very concerned that in September they were going to have to be renewed in terms of funding, and if not they were over.  And I think that was an intimidation for a bureaucratic oriented special counsel.  But this happened in March of 2018, and that`s significant because they proposed three things in that memo, 56-page memo.

One the three articles -- three rather charges against the president, secondly that they had the legal opinion that you could indict a sitting president, and the third thing was whether or not they could fire Mueller.  And they decided that the special counsel regs that they had.  If the -- if the Attorney General were to say they were not effective, then the President could fire Mueller.  They also asked whether or not the president --

MELBER:  So on that -- just on that point, right.  So again, DOJ is not saying tonight that that`s not the case.  They have disputed other things as we know.


MELBER:  If that`s the -- if that`s what the Mueller folks thought, does that in your mind explain a little bit of why maybe Mueller held back on pushing hard for the interview?

FLANNERY:  Well, it say something worse.  It says that his report is a lie in the sense that he has publicly said we`ve never considered indicting, and he says that he couldn`t.  And here`s an intervening event.  March of 2018, they have this 56-page memo.  Well, it`s June of 2018 when we have an unsolicited opinion by Barr that goes to Rosenstein and goes to the White House Counsel saying that you can`t prosecute obstruction which were the object crimes in the draft memo.

MELBER:  And let me play a little bit -- Wolff is been weighing in on some of this.  Let`s play some of that take a look.


MICHAEL WOLFF, WRITER:  The conclusion is yes, the president could fire Robert Mueller.  What happens to the work product, they ask if they are fired?  Well, the chance is that that it could be the possibility is it could be completely destroyed.  Robert Mueller looked at this and said you know, this guy Donald Trump, couldn`t bring the house down, could bring the temple down.


MELBER:  Elie?

ELIE MYSTAL, EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW:  The temple down.  I mean, like as everybody`s football coach probably told them at some point, stop worrying about what they`re going to do to you and start worrying about what you`re going to do to them.  Mueller clearly -- and we don`t even need Michael Wolff for this.  Mueller clearly played this game not to lose.  That was his main focus, right?

And we already know before all of this stuff for Michael Wolff`s book, right?  We already know that Mueller didn`t go as hard as he could have to get an actual sit-down interview with Donald Trump.  We already know that - -

MELBER:  And slow down now.  I`m just going to -- I`m going to move you a little bit.  I see you`ve got a bunch of these, but on the memo part, man, what I`m asking though, do you think that this means that they -- that Trump got in their head in a way?

MYSTAL:  Yes.  That`s -- I think exactly that happened.  I think they were -- I think it was the -- it`s like the old Mike Tyson thing where like he would win the fight before he got into the ring because people were scared of them.

Mueller, I think -- and this goes to this institutionalist aspect of Mueller`s investigation.  He was more concerned with his own institution, with his own part of the store then he was with the rest of the house burning down.

MELBER:  Which is -- which you say as someone who cares a lot, I know from tying you before, about the underlying allegations, the issues with Donald Trump, right.  So people hear that and say, I heard so many good things about Mueller.  Well, there are many good things about Mueller, particularly his non-partisanship in his integrity.

But you`re both gesturing towards I think what`s so fascinating about these reports.  And sometimes when investigations end, we learn more stuff is what was going on inside if they were concerned about this stuff.

I want to do pardons as well.  The book says Mueller`s team considered the idea that Trump could just pardon everybody.  Flynn, family members, and this was their conclusion, John.  "According to Wolff, this is quoting what he says was Mueller`s office.  The President can pardon his family members or close associates even for the purpose of impeding investigations."  Your view, John.

FLANNERY:  Well, I don`t believe you can.  I do believe that they thought they were unitary executive and they sort of had the Nixon corollary.  If the President says it`s the law so it is because the president said it.  And I think that the people around him and in Justice Department both Rosenstein and Barr, they all believe that.

But the fact of the matter is, it`s an old statement and the Department of Justice had this ruling that you can`t be a judge in your own -- in your own matter.  So you can`t give yourself a pardon.  You can`t give your family members a pardon.  You can`t do any of these things.  And that -- if that were tested in court, that would be found to be failure.

MELBER:  Now, let me ask you to toughest question which is the one I`m really wondering.  And I don`t have the answer.  I`m really wondering, John.  If Wolff is on the right track.  If these quotes are substantially in the ballpark of what was being internally discussed.  Why would this be coming out do you think?

FLANNERY:  Well, I think it`s coming out because one of the author of the March publication Andrew Weissmann.  He`s the one who wrote this report.  He was the strongest prosecutor by public and private accounts of the entire team.  He was a junkyard dog.  And if it came from --

MELBER:  Let me give the same question to Elie.

MYSTAL:  Yes, I mean, I think because there are slightly embarrassed about what`s happening to them right now, right.  Like the -- like the Mueller team with all of their honor, with all of their integrity, people are starting to see that they did not go as far as they could have.

And I think that if this is really leaking to Michael Wolff, part of the reason why they`re linking is like oh, well we were -- he could have pardoned this guy.  He would have destroyed evidence.

MELBER:  Right.  Which is what you`re saying, I think you`re right on to it.  Again, I`m not confirming that -- no one here is confirming who leaked what if this is -- if this is the memo.  But the reason that some lawyers might be talking later now that Mueller has resigned as you say is to explain and make themselves look better right as they sit around and try to explain everyone after all this, why did it end like that which is -- which is an interesting theory.

Again, I want to repeat my thanks to Elie and John.  John, I want you to stay with me and I want to repeat my caveats which is we reached out the DOJ for comment.  We`ll update further if we get more and Mr. Wolff`s reporting has been I think he would acknowledge as well, publicly attacked by a lot of folks about credibility.  But this is certainly interesting quotes if DOJ is not telling us they`re not real.

Now, still to come, Donald Trump`s campaign chair could be headed to Rikers Island.  And she`s running for president, she`s qualified for the debate stage, and she`s here on THE BEAT tonight, Amy Klobuchar.


MELBER:  New York Times is reporting tonight, Donald Trump`s former campaign manager Paul Manafort could be headed to the infamous Rikers Island jail.  The Times reporting Manafort would be held at Rikers while waiting for his trial on these state charges.  This could come in the next few weeks.

Also, we can tell you he would be held in protective custody, that means by himself.  NBC news reporting any decision of Manafort`s detention though has not been finalized.  Prosecutor John Flannery is here to explain many parts of the Manafort process, the legal process involved, allegations of special and favorable treatment.  If he is sent to Rikers, this would be just like anybody else awaiting trial.

FLANNERY:  Well, not in his case but it would be in some sense.

MELBER:  I mean, Rikers being a place where a lot of people are stabbed.

FLANNERY:  Absolutely, and under very terrible conditions.  Some people who`ve read Bonfire of the Vanities, although this is not that location, would imagine the terrible conditions of being in prison there.  He`s going to be in a special facility.  But isolation is no fun for anyone.  And he spent some time already either in a camp or a federal prison awaiting this transfer for this prosecution in Manhattan.

MELBER:  As you and I know and I think viewers have definitely heard about, you`re not supposed to use these assignments to scare people but do you think this could as a practical matter have any effect on Roger Stone?

FLANNERY:  Well, I always wonder what the organized crime part of this does to influence his decisions.  Meaning, the Russians that he knew that were an organized crime and what American cousins were involved.  But it would tighten anybody`s sphincter muscles to consider what they should do under these circumstances facing perhaps a lifetime of custody between the federal and now the state prosecution.

MELBER:  Yes.  And it is a reminder of all the interconnectedness here.  We were just talking about the hypothetical idea of federal pardons with you.  This is a reminder that totally apart from what Mueller, did the legal process grinds on in other places in the state is going to have its turn at Paul Manafort who as I always mention is presumed innocent on those charges in New York as a defendant.

FLANNERY:  And he can`t be -- the pardon won`t operate on this prosecution.

MELBER:  Exactly.

FLANNERY:  There`ll be a contest about it perhaps, but that`s -- this is a dire circumstance for him. 

MELBER:  A heavy stuff.  John Flannery, thanks for being a part of multiple segments.  Up next, we turn to Senator Amy Klobuchar on THE BEAT.


MELBER:  House Democrats are pushing towards formally punishing Attorney General Bill Barr.  The full House is voting next week to hold him in contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas and refusing to hand over the entire unredacted Mueller report.  And Democrats have questions.  They say they want answers.  Take this exchange in the Senate.  Senator Amy Klobuchar talking to Barr about the Mueller report.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And are the President`s actions detailed in this report consistent with his oath of office and the requirement in the Constitution that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed?

BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  Is what consistent with that?

KLOBUCHAR:  I said, are the President`s actions detailed in the report consistent with his oath of office and the requirement in the Constitution that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed?

BARR:  Well, the evidence in the report is conflicting and there`s different evidence and they don`t --  they don`t come to a determination as to how they`re coming down on it.


MELBER:  And I`m joined right now by that lawmaker who faces off with Barr, Minnesota Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar.  Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, thanks, Ari, and happy 19th Amendment today.

MELBER:  Amen.

KLOBUCHAR:  It`s the 100th anniversary and all the women senators are wearing yellow roses.

MELBER:  That`s the yellow rose.  Well, now we know.

KLOBUCHAR:  Yes, exactly.

MELBER:  A happy one to you as well.  We see you there tustling a little bit with Attorney General Barr.  Should Bob Mueller be forced to publicly testify by Speaker Pelosi?

KLOBUCHAR:  I think that he should go before the House.  I`m sure first they will ask and they could also use a subpoena.  I think it is really important that he appear before the House and this investigation be allowed to continue.

Remember, I also asked Attorney General Barr whether or not the Mueller team had looked at Trump`s taxes and financial documents and I don`t know if you know what he said.  He said, well you`ll have to ask him.

MELBER:  Ask Mueller.

KLOBUCHAR:  And I said well, OK, but then he has to come before us to be able to do that.  And that is the problem.  So he`s not only not come before the Senate, he`s not come before the House.  We did have the press conference but I think it is really important that there be accountability this investigation continues.  And that means both Barr testified before the House, not just the Senate, as well as of course Bob Mueller appearing before both bodies.  But the House has the power to subpoena him.

MELBER:  And in your exchange with him there, we saw you pressing him and him basically trying to dodge around the idea that the reported had conflicting evidence.  Although we also know that he resolved the questions publicly.

I was looking at some of your evidence here and the statement you put out after Mueller spoke saying he should testify, saying that the basically an expanded investigation or impeachment hearings are one way to investigate this.  And then you talked about your legislation for paper ballots and online ads.

At this point should we take that as sort of your ending view of the matter or do you think there should be potentially impeachment and if so when?

KLOBUCHAR:  Of course, I think there could potentially be impeachment.  In fact, if they keep stonewalling, that is what one way you can proceed.  But I do think right now this investigation can`t be stopped.  They must continue.

And the other piece of this that you note in my statement is one of the major reasons it has to continue is that we need the American public to understand what Russia did because of the fact that we have been unable to get the Republicans to pass the bill pushing the states for backup paper ballots.  That`s a secure elections act.  That`s my bipartisan bill.

They also have refused to pass legislation that would require the social media companies to do just what like your T.V. does.  And that is say where ads are coming from, what they are and how they`re paid for.  And yet we`re going to see $3 to $4 billion in ads, many of them dirty ads over on the Internet.  And I find this just outrageous.  This is the underpinning of our democracy that we have fair elections.

MELBER:  Right.  Well, and you mentioned that`s regulation which is something else I want to ask you about writ large.  Your campaign has talked about beefing up antitrust.  A lot of Americans are concerned about consolidated economic power and some of these companies tech and elsewhere.  A, how does that work for you in plain English, and B, do you find voters care about this when you`re out there or not so much?

KLOBUCHAR:  You know, I remember being in a cafe and I heard someone say hey, I saw you on T.V.  And I said, oh was it about Russia because I just went on and she said no, it was about the things are too big.  Things are too big and that`s right.  So I would start with that.

We have a situation right now where we have a record number of mega- mergers.  We have many industries even in addition to tech where we`ve seen these big mergers in agriculture, in places like pharma, in railroads.  There`s only four major class one railroads right now which is the exact number on the monopoly board.

And so that is why I`ve introduced legislation which says let`s look at the new reality we`re in right now, make sure that our agencies have enough resources to be as sophisticated as these big companies that are controlling so much market power, that are monopolizing certain industries, and tech is a good example of that.

And then if there are mergers that come before us, let`s be able to look at them in different ways.  Monopsony is where they -- now there you go, tech- like but they control the customers under them or the fact that when you have a mega-merger maybe the burden should be on those companies to show that it doesn`t hurt competition.

Those are things that might bill does.  And again it is common sense and you should also be able to look back at some of these purchases.  Like Facebook`s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp so that you`re able to look at this to make sure we have a competitive market.

MELBER:  Right.  And --

KLOBUCHAR:  I think it is a major price issue for consumers and an innovation issue for small businesses and startups if they can`t get in the market.

MELBER:  Yes.  And in so many cases, as you say, it`s consumer choice.  It`s what people can afford.  It`s also the pipeline of information and democracy.  My last closing question for you in a sentence or two, what makes you and your view the best candidate out of the Democrats right now.

KLOBUCHAR:  I am someone that has a track record of getting things done.  I`m from the heartland of this country, and I have won many, many red congressional districts.  In fact, every single one three times in a row because they go not just where it`s comfortable but where it`s uncomfortable.

And I believe you need a president that is a proven progressive.  And to me that means you`ve been able to prove you make progress.  That`s what I`ve done.  That`s what I`m bringing out to the voters.  And that`s why we`re increasing our lead and our numbers at least in places in the early states.

Because we know I have an ability to get out there, I know my state is smaller and I`m not as well known, but when I have an ability to get out there, I can connect with people and talk about the issues that matter to them, mental health, infrastructure, bringing down farmer prices, doing something when it comes to these big companies, and making sure that we have a fair shake out there for the people of this country.

I`ve got their backs and I`m going to continue bringing that message across the country.  That`s how I`ve won every ways that I`ve ever taken on and let`s all win this one.

MELBER:  Well, Senator Amy Klobuchar, I know you have a tight schedule today.  I appreciate you making time for THE BEAT.  I hope we can have you back.

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Thank you.


MELBER:  Before we go, one programming note.  Tomorrow we have a first-time guest on THE BEAT, the former general counsel to the FBI Jim Baker who was in the room for so many things, Comey controversies, the Russia probe, he`s on THE BEAT tomorrow.  I`m excited to get into with him.

I`m also be joined by George Will who has a new book all about what it really means to be Conservative right now.  And we will hear from a Reagan DOJ official who says Donald Trump obstructed justice.  All of that in THE BEAT Tomorrow.

But don`t go anywhere right now, because right now, it`s "HARDBALL."