CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: And if it`s Wednesday, you know what that means, it`s a new Chuck ToddCast ready to download. Get it now wherever you get your podcast. You get a big preview of fascinating new book by my buddy, Carl Halls (ph), but also Carrie Dann is on there as well. It`s a good listen. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow. More MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much. We have a lot tonight, including this new ad that Donald Trump might actually see because it`s running on Fox News. Republican prosecutors alleging Donald Trump committed crimes.
Later, I`ll be joined by a conservative who actually left the GOP over Donald Trump. George Will is here for a very special conversation. And then we go live to Indiana where Elizabeth Warren is campaigning right in Trump country. MSNBC`s Chris Hayes is on THE BEAT for that later tonight.
But we begin with the long shadow of Bob Mueller, a public servant with such a sterling reputation, such integrity, such influence, which many people say was earned the old-fashioned way with decades of studious public service.
A prosecutor who is so respected that when he walked out to that lectern one week ago today and announced that he didn`t want to speak about his probe again after that, many people initially responded deferentially, like, "Well, I guess that`s it. He doesn`t want to speak again and he`s Bob Mueller, isn`t he usually right?"
That was really honestly how a lot of people reacted, including some very important people in Congress. But that understandable reaction is not any kind of legal rule, it`s more like a feeling, little Bob Mueller feeling right here.
And you might say you understand that feeling. This guy works hard, maybe he knows best. But I want to be clear about the facts that explain some of what I`m about to tell you that`s happening on the news tonight. Legally, this is not up to Mueller or Barr or certainly Donald Trump.
Congress decides who is subpoenaed and the signs coming from the few people in Congress who make that decision tonight, the speaker and a very small number of relevant shares. Tonight, they seem to be coming around to the public position that they will make Mueller testify regardless of his stated reticence.
Here is House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Let`s just say that I`m confident he`ll come in soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you need to subpoena him to make that happen?
NADLER: We may. We will if we have to.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much longer will you wait to subpoena him?
NADLER: I`m not going to comment, not too much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The people with the subpoena power, they don`t have to negotiate much in public. But what you just heard there does sure sound like a sign that Democrats are now willing to compel Mueller. They`re saying so.
And it`s not the only area also where we should note they are grinding forward. Now, they`re also today previewing his obstruction hearings about the President blasting the Department of Justice for asking to delay the Barr contempt vote, rejecting DOJ`s tactics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: We`ve seen this movie before where they negotiate in bad faith, they make ridiculous offers. They waste time. We negotiate in good faith. And the night before -- and then shortly before the hearing, or whatever it is, they say, well, we`re breaking up -- they suddenly say, well, to continue negotiations, cancel the subpoena for McGahn or call off the hearing. We`re not going to do that. We`re not fools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So there is the Mueller testimony on one track, obstruction hearings on another track, and then the question of whether any of these roads would build the pressure or a march towards actual impeachment. Half of the Democrats on that was own Judiciary Committee support that kind of inquiry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: I don`t know about inevitable, but it`s quite, it`s quite possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if it did happen, how soon would it have to happen? I mean, you wouldn`t want to bleed into election year. What would be at?
NADLER: I don`t know, that`s a judgment call. I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by Berit Berger, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, Brittney Cooper, professor of Rutgers University, and former federal prosecutor, Joyce Vance. Great to have each of you here.
Berit, when you see this discussion with Mueller, do you understand why so many people felt like, gosh, he doesn`t want to do it. Don`t make him. And yet do you think that it looks like Democrats might make it?
BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right, you understand why people thought that. I mean, here you have him come out. The first time we really hear his voice and one of the few things that he uses these precious minutes to say is, basically, please don`t make me come back here guys.
Coupled together with the fact that he has this 400 plus page document that includes all of his findings and him saying this would be my testimony. So you could see why a lot of people would say, well, look, he has this thing document. He doesn`t want to do it. Let`s give the guy a pass.
That being said, as I think many people have pointed out, there`s a huge difference between hearing a live witness testify about something and reading a report. Hearing Mueller testify even if honestly it is just him detailing things that are already in that report would be so much of a better way for people to actually digest what`s in the report, would be a much better way to get that information out there.
So, I think there is still value of him testifying even if it`s just simply reading that report.
MELBER: So as a prosecutor I know you respect him. You think, yes, his feelings here just don`t care the day.
BERGER: Yes. I mean, you don`t always get what you want in the situation. So, he can say he doesn`t want to come. I think he ultimately will come if asked. He certainly would come if subpoenaed. So, I understand why he doesn`t want to. Nobody wants to testify if they don`t have to. But I think ultimately if Congress decides they want to hear from him, he`ll certainly make himself available.
MELBER: Yes. And Brittney, I don`t want to get too high minded over here, but giving press conferences and writing reports where you control everything is different than being questioned. Lawyers and prosecutors and journalists know that better than some. We tend on ask a lot of questions.
BRITTNEY COOPER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Yes.
MELBER: And so part of what Mueller is saying, I defined it this way and that`s where I want to leave it. And I would say for the Congress, which is a different role --
MELBER: -- it`s very different. And I say that not only for maybe some who are critical of Trump and want to explore things that weren`t pursued more aggressively, but also obviously for the Republicans on the committee who want to finally press him on the things they thought were overreached.
COOPER: Yes. You know, I think there`s two things here that really matter. One of the things the Republicans have prevailed in on -- in the last 10 years is the political theater of it all. So this was the repealing of Obamacare over and over and over again even every time that it failed it gave their base a sense that they were doing something, that they were fighting.
Democrats have got to get into the political theater of this and they have got to communicate that they fighting, that they are turning over every stone, they are making sure that there is deep integrity to this process. The base needs it because we had a blue wave in November because we wanted to see real change.
The other thing is, my friend, Dr. Toby Sanders (ph), made a really important point about Mueller. He talks about the fact that Mueller is -- has a deep sense of integrity, right? He respects the rule of law. He`s conservative. He wants to tow the line. But integrity is not the same thing as courage.
Now, we need some political courage and that means that Mueller needs to speak up. What Donald Trump has done is helped through a series of terrible practices to erode Democratic norms. Mueller is trying to restore the integrity of those norms by following the law to the teeth and not conceding anything and not wanting to violate anything.
But at some point, you`ve got to say, we -- someone has to come in and save the day. He is the man with all of the information. Who else is going to do it?
MELBER: Well, let me -- let`s dig in on that a little bit --
MELBER: -- if you would.
MELBER: How do you distinguish between integrity and courage in this context? Is courage being willing to take actions that are necessary but might cut against your own standing, your reputation?
COOPER: Yes. Courage is the willingness to risk something for the thing that you say that you love and you care about. Right now, Mueller is playing it safe. He wants -- he punted to Barr, a man who he knows has no integrity. He is sort of using restraint as the way to sort of shore up his notion of objectivity. Mueller wants to be seen as guy who is objective and who is divorced from any political investments. That`s not what we need anymore.
Now, we need folks to say, what about the sake of the republic? What about the fact that we have very credible evidence that we got? We have a man basically running a criminal enterprise from the White House and everyone is using the law as a reason to be cowards. We can`t have it anymore.
And if Mueller would step out of his comfort zone well within the bounds of the law and say, I think that these men are making a mockery of our justice system and so I feel compelled to testify, I think that that`s what American courage dictates.
MELBER: Joyce, Brittney lays it out. I mean, it`s one of those things when you hear a really good argument in court and you start like feeling really strong. That`s got to be right. When she says it like that, it makes me think, yes, that`s got to be right and he`s got to testify and you got to have an open hearing under oath where people say, I know you say you were not confident he didn`t commit a crime.
But when he said people who comply with your probe are rats, did he sound like a mob boss? Was that a dereliction of duty? Was he blowing the oath of office?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So I agree with Brittney`s conclusion that Bob Mueller needs to testify and he will one way or the other either as Representative Nadler pointed out tonight, voluntarily or pursuant to a subpoena. As a rule of law kind of guy, Mueller will not as many of these folks from the Trump administration have, he will not scorn a subpoena. He will show up and testify if he in fact receives one.
But I wouldn`t be so quick to make assumptions about what Bob Mueller believes. We don`t know. And as a prosecutor, he has two north stars. One is the law and the other one is the facts. And I suspect that he would be very hesitant to render a personal opinion on any of these issues.
We might get him to discuss a little bit more under questioning some of the process he followed. But, you know, prosecutors are very hesitant to put themselves forward. And they often remind each other that they should never inject their personal views into the public arena. We leave that to juries or in this case to Congress.
MELBER: But isn`t that --
VANCE: So I`m not --
MELBER: That`s the part I`m going to press you on that`s so tricky, because all of that would apply to normal investigation of citizens. But when Mueller comes out as he did, it was only seven days ago and the Trump, you know, time is a flat circle, but it was just seven days ago.
He came out and he said this isn`t for the criminal justice system to resolve, a direct reference to what he explain a more depth as you know in the report that this is for Congress.
So then you get to say, well, if it`s for Congress and the people who were accused of obstructing the probe, some of them indicted, some of them convicted, some of them, like Mr. Stone, still presumed innocent, those people over here are doing and the President has been outlined of what Mueller said was "substantial evidence of obstruction" in the report, and now you need to walk Congress through it.
At a certain point, that`s where that process goes, which is different than a traditional prosecutor. And so, I want your views on that, Joyce, as well as your assessment of what Chairman Nadler says about Mueller`s duty also today. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: He has said and -- I mean, he has said he`s willing to come and testify and make an opening statement and then testify only behind closed doors. We`re not willing to do that. We want him to testify openly. I think the American people need that. I think, frankly, it`s his duty to the American people and we`ll make that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANCE: You know, the problem is that none of this is normal. It`s unprecedented. And so for above Bob Mueller who`s used to operating under a certain set of rules, the real problem is he feels the pull of those rules. But like the rest of us, he has to wonder if they still work and whether we`ll see him compromise and perhaps lead Congress through parts of the report. But I have to tell you, Ari, I very much doubt that we`ll see him go out on a ledge in that direction.
BERGER: No, I absolutely agree with Joyce on that. I think, you know, the other thing to not lose sight of is Mueller is sort of the big fish here, right? He`s the one that they`re focusing all their attention on, but there very well may be value in going after other witnesses who may actually be more willing to give more information, right?
So we know if Mueller is subpoenaed or if he`s asked, he will show up. He will testify. However, they possibly can get the same information, if not more, from other witnesses. Whether is that they`re able to get Don McGahn back in there, whether they`re able to get Corey Lewandowski, whether they`re able to get other witnesses who are part of this obstruction piece of the Mueller report in there, they could possibly provide the same, if not more information that Mueller ultimately would.
COOPER: The thing is that the Trump administration is floating their credibility on what Mueller does or does not say and he knows that. So if Mueller says we didn`t charge him because it wasn`t in our purview, they interpret that to the American people as no collusion, no obstruction.
This man has to come before the American public, Mueller. He needs to help shape this narrative. This is why I`m saying that he`s got to stop being constrained by the rules. As Joyce pointed out, the rules have changed. The Trump administration keeps changing the rules. They`re not playing by any set of rules that any of us know. And then people assuming that the rules are going to save the day.
MELBER: And to your point, we`ve shown this in our reporting, there were other prosecutors operating in similar situations, White House investigations, who did speak much more directly. I mean, Ken Starr thought it was in his purview to go to Congress, testify publicly, sent his spokesman on "Nightline," by the way --
MELBER: -- and then say at every turn when the President had a choice, he lied. Now, by the way, as we all know, I think viewers know, because we`ve been talking about it, lying in public is not a crime.
This President, "The Washington Post" has said he`s made false, misleading or lying statements over 10,000 times more than any president. So Ken Starr was saying something broader than criminal analysis. He was saying, "Your president is a liar. America, you should know that."
COOPER: Absolutely. And look, I`m tired of everyone saying, you elected us to power, then we chose someone to run this investigation but none of us have any power to do anything about this man. This is when you begin to see the erosion of a republic.
When we are so constrained by our performance of norms and standards that we cannot, in fact, use that as a guiding star to actually get to the truth, what is the point of rules and standards if they don`t actually help us do the work of justice?
MELBER: And wasn`t it Thomas Jefferson who said no one man should have all that power?
COOPER: Absolutely. He definitely shouldn`t.
MELBER: It`s actually a Kanye quote.
COOPER: Look --
MELBER: I don`t even know if I`m allowed to quote Kanye.
COOPER: -- he shouldn`t even have the power that he has, let alone Jefferson.
MELBER: I really enjoyed this and learned something. Brittney and Berit, my thanks to both of you. And Joyce, please stick around on THE BEAT tonight. We have, as I mentioned, a lot more.
Elizabeth Warren going right into Trump country for this town hall right here on MSNBC tonight. Chris Hayes is anchoring it and he joins us live, next. Hey, Chris. Also, we will speak to a Reagan DOJ official who says Donald Trump did obstruct justice and now that ad is playing on Fox News.
Plus, indications Donald Trump could be losing Republicans with his new tariff war. George Will is here to break it down. And that`s not all, a new legal challenge to the Trump administration that`s playing out in federal court today. You may not have heard about it, but we have that new story tonight on THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber and we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need big structural change in this country. I`m Elizabeth Warren. I`m running for president because I`ve got a plan for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`ve got a plan for that. Senator Elizabeth Warren famously came to politics late in her career. The Harvard professor turned Obama appointee, then turned U.S. senator, is now leaning into her roots as a policy planner, including this campaign merge touting her ability to crack a plan for just about anything.
This is pretty substantive branding reminding voters that Warren is more specific than many other candidates about what she`s going to do on health care, taxes, education. And all this makes the Warren campaign feel like more than a single data point on the Democratic ideological spectrum.
In an era of tweets and memes and emojis of politics by burn and clot back, Warren is offering more of a throwback asking voters to dig in and assess candidates on what they would do, not just on how they might sound or how they might seem online.
So how is this playing out on the trail? Let`s find out with some original reporting from Fort Wayne, Indiana where MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes is on the ground and gearing up for tonight. Thanks for doing this, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: My great pleasure. Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Absolutely, man. I know you were very busy. I want to start here. Obama won Indiana in 2008 by a point or less. Trump then won it, the same state you`re in, by 19 points. Do you have a sense of whether, those voters that are clearly moving back and forth, could they go Dem and how does that fit into what Warren is trying to do tonight?
HAYES: So I think -- I mean, I think the odds of Indiana as a swing state or being won by a Democratic nominee are rather slim. In fact, I think a state like Texas is certainly going to be more competitive than Indiana.
But I think the reason that Warren is here, we`re here in Fort Wayne and she`s been here throughout the greater industrial Midwest, is that she wants to communicate two things. One, she want to communicate to voters that might be disaffected from Trump, or are Democrats in the Midwest and want to be rallied and want to think about what an industrial policy for the future of America would look like and reviving some areas that have fallen on hard economic times.
And the second thing where I think it`s very interesting is that it`s a kind of meta-messaging to Democratic primary voters everywhere that she can go anywhere in the country and talk to anyone. And that I think is a very explicit intent of hers to allay possible concerns or fears about her being caricatured as a Harvard liberal from Massachusetts or having electability problems more broadly.
MELBER: So that`s -- it`s so interesting when you put it like that because I think a lot of folks watching are familiar, as we mentioned, with Warren on policy, with her being an unapologetic progressive rather than one who is sort of, you know, hemming and hawing.
And then here, she is -- she`s also for impeachment. But as you say, she`s measuring all that against being out in the states. Take a look at her impeachment. I`m wondering how this will play where you are. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: It seems to me this is way beyond politics. This is about the constitutional oath that we took. And it`s a constitutional oath that no one is above the law and that includes the President of the United States. I believe that impeachment proceeding should start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You`re there. How does that play out in Indiana?
HAYES: You know, I`m very curious actually. We get the folks in here tonight to talk to them where they`re at. I mean, I think that it`s really hard to generalize about where voters are at impeachment.
Here`s one thing that I will say. You know, there`s an old saying, and I think you might have been at Carville or someone else that, you know, it`s not what the candidates says about the policies, it`s what the policies say about the candidate.
One of the things that I think Warren has done in addition to providing tremendous details and substance from rigor in her policy agenda is also just clarity, right? I mean, she was out front on impeachment. You kind of do know where she stands.
There`s lots of people I think who are going to disagree with where she`s stands, but she hasn`t done a lot of hedging, a lot of needle threading, a lot of, you know, sort of half measures on things like the Hyde Amendment on impeachment. You ask her a question, she has a position.
And I think that`s part of what she`s counting on is her appeal, which is that she`s not going to obfuscate, she`s not going to shade and there`s others who may worry that that`s precisely the kind of thing that may make it more difficult for her to win over voters in the general.
MELBER: And the last thing I want to ask you about, and I don`t mean to do a double plug. We`re plugging your town hall and now I`m going to briefly plug your book, because it is relevant.
You wrote a lot about the way Americans across the spectrum looked at "Wall Street," looked at elite institutions and said this isn`t working for me. And obviously both parties, because of fundraising and a lot of other stuff we all know about, have struggled to deal with that.
Trump came out and a lot of people think he basically pretended to be against those interests. Warren seems to be, I wonder what you think, more explicitly critical of corporations by name, Goldman Sachs, Facebook, Amazon, than I think any candidate in either party right now. How does that figure into what she`s doing and what you`re doing tonight?
HAYES: I think that`s true. I mean, I think Bernie Sanders similarly you could sort of debate between the two. I think that it is absolutely clear that she`s very outspoken on that and I think part of that has to do with the fact that she was someone who was a professor, who comes from a working class background, put herself through college and then got into her area, which is bankruptcy law, and kind of discovered through the process of scholarship just how bad it was, right?
She has her own kind of political coming of age and awakening story that I think is genuine. I mean, she really wasn`t a political crusader before she sort of became immersed in the data and I think that`s part of what makes her story saleable to folks is that she is speaking that not from a kind of doctrinaire position, but in someone who herself has made the discovery about how rig the game can be.
MELBER: Yes. And as you put it there, I mean, sharing it that way it`s like if her learning, or as you put it, political coming of age is something she`s sharing, right, that`s super interesting too. It`s not, oh, I had this all figured out from go.
MELBER: You know, I went and I lived it.
HAYES: She was --
MELBER: Go ahead.
HAYES: She was a Republican well into her, I think, 40s, her adulthood.
MELBER: But not a MAGA Republican.
HAYES: That`s right. That`s true.
MELBER: Chris, we will be watching. Thank you for making time. Chris Hayes is going to get out there and talk to some Indianans and, of course, to the person you see on your screen, Senator Elizabeth Warren, 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, a big night on MSBC so keep it locked.
Now, coming up, I`m going to speak to a former top deputy for Rudy Giuliani who guess what, says Rudy is dead wrong about what the Mueller report means. But first, Pulitzer winner, George Will, on the Republican identity crisis when we`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Trump officials are just out of a meeting with the Mexican delegation and the news, no deal reached that would avoid these new tariffs the President is talking about launching.
Now, Republicans say they may defy the plan but is that even real? Take Majority Leader McConnell, he is now urging Trump to delay Mexico tariffs. But critics are asking, is that classic McConnell, tell the administration officials one thing behind closed doors while remaining quite loyal, silently loyal in public.
Or take Senator Graham who`s become one of Donald Trump`s biggest attack dogs and defenders, seemingly supporting Donald Trump while also warning colleagues don`t ever undercut him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If I were the Republican senators, I would give the President a chance to see if he can get better action out of Mexico before I undercut him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can do that by Monday?
GRAHAM: I don`t know, probably not. It`s just going to take a while.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Give Trump a chance, the message there from the man who used to criticize him in the most vehement terms. Now, the President says he`s going to move ahead on all of this regardless of this push back that you see that may come from the party.
But here`s a question, of all of the norms and basically traditions that Donald Trump has attacked, American traditions, conservative ones, why is this the one that Republicans are suddenly saying they may stand up on? It may be because of "Wall Street." It may be because the tariffs hit home in a way that is hard to hide.
But it also raises a fundamental question that we`re getting into right now as promised. What does the conservative movement stand for in the Trump era? Let me read something to you on that.
The ideals that Republicans are considering is something that George Will takes head on in his new book and he poses the question as such. "The proper question for conservatives is what do you seek to conserve? The proper answer is concise but deceptively simple, we seek to conserve the American founding."
Joining us now is George Will, Pulitzer Prize winning conservative columnist for "Washington Post," author of this new book, "The Conservative Sensibility," and a noted conservative critic of President Trump, fair to say.
GEORGE WILL, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Very fair.
MELBER: Very fair. This book has a lot of the answers in it because it`s thick.
WILL: All the answers.
MELBER: All of the answers.
WILL: The greatest publishing event since Guttenberg invented movable type.
MELBER: That`s an overstatement. When you look at these fights, what is left in your view of congressional Republicans, conservatism in the face of Trump?
WILL: Well, the opposite of conservatism is called protectionism. You get bossy government. It doesn`t get any bossier than what tells Americans what they can buy at what price and then what quantity. Protectionism doesn`t open the door to crony capitalism. It is in its genesis crony capitalism.
Now, there is today a faint pulse in Congress, a flicker of intelligent life where they`re saying, for 80 years now, senses (ph) to Congress, for 80 years Congress under both parties has been spinning off power, giving its powers away in vast grants of discretion to presidents of both parties.
And they are beginning to see that perhaps it`s time to call them back because tariffs are taxes paid by Americans, collected at the border, and the idea that presidents have the power unilaterally to raise taxes.
Furthermore, the law says you can`t send more planes and equipment to Saudi Arabia except in an emergency, so he declares an emergency. They say, well, you can`t repurpose funds appropriated for X to spend it on Y unless it`s an emergency, so he declares an emergency. And they have consistently failed to successfully contest his declarations of emergency.
MELBER: So you just listed off three very important things. You say the tariff plan is effectively Donald Trump trying to raise taxes without Congress involved. The Saudi dispute is an example of abusing emergency powers, doing and running foreign policy. And then, of course, everyone remembers, trying to seize money for the wall. What do you think conservative think should do about it all?
WILL: I think conservatives should stand to thwart Trump yelling halt. They should say that this is not the Madisonian balance that we exist to defend that is, a separation of powers, rivalrous institutions. The Senate would have its own opinion and it`s on institutional dignity and resist -- would resist this president. They resisted Barack Obama.
The problem is as has been well said of them, if they didn`t have situational ethics, they`d have no ethics at all. Because now the things that used to horrify them are now standard operating procedure. But this goes back to what they said they won`t defend the American Founding. The American Founding insists on the separation of powers.
The great argument in American politics for 100 years now has been the progressives remarkably explicit and forthright rejection of the Founders, the separation of powers, and all of that. The doctrine of natural rights Woodrow Wilson said don`t even read the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It`s 4th of July rhetoric.
Wilson was the first president ever to criticize the American Founding which he did root and branch saying the Constitution is no longer suitable for the country. It`s an anachronism and we must yield to presidential government.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: But in your view, the way you`re stating it, is there any concern left for federalism in the Congressional Republican Party --
WILL: No, the press is little. And I would think progressives would want to take seriously the argument in this book because it says the following. In 1964, 70 percent of Americans said they trusted the federal government to do the right thing all the time are almost all the right time. Today that number is below 20 percent.
MELBER: Which responds a cynicism and that`s the other thing I want to ask you about. You`ve been around a lot of politics I wonder if you`ve ever seen anything quite like this which is the public shifts we`ve seen from Senator Graham on the President. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn`t represent my party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that he`s a racist?
GRAHAM: Absolutely not.
I think he`s a cook. I think he`s crazy. I think he`s unfit for office. And I`m a Republican and he`s not.
The president did a fabulous job of talking about this problem. He did it in a smart way, in a compassionate way and I was proud of my president yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is this politics as usual, people move around or is this something different?
WILL: This is different in degree to the point that it`s different in kind. Yes, I mean, remember he was -- he, Lindsey Graham was the Lindsey Graham people thought was funny and interesting as long as John McCain was around to keep him on the right leash. McCain is gone and the leash is gone. And this I`m afraid is the real Lindsey Graham.
MELBER: You think this is the real Lindsey Graham and McCain just tempered him?
WILL: Until the atmosphere changes yet again.
MELBER: Which is a little depressing.
MELBER: May I say, sir, we quote all kinds of wisdom here on the show. I believe you`ve quoted Buckley and Wilson and given us some food for thought. George Will, always good to see you. I appreciate it.
WILL: I appreciate it.
MELBER: I grew up watching you and I love having you on. The book again, The Conservative Sensibility, and Mr. Will says should be of interest to many people including progressives. Check it out. Now, coming up Rudy Giuliani`s former top deputy criticizing Trump and Rudy himself and doing it on Fox News. We`ll explain how.
And then later, a top Democrat on THE BEAT who is in court fighting Trump today on a case you may not have heard about yet. All that coming up.
MELBER: The Trump White House is fighting hard to keep many of Bob Mueller`s key witnesses out of Congress and thus off the air, people like Don McGahn and hope Hicks. But a new campaign, is cutting against that by featuring some pretty credible Republican voices including Reagan Republicans and GOP appointed prosecutors who declare that Donald Trump committed crimes and they`re running this ad on Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 indictment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the President asked Don McGahn to put a false document in the file saying that the president never ordered him to fire Bob Mueller.
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MELBER: The goal is to pierce the conservative media echo chamber. And while some cynics may wonder can that even work in today`s polarized media, think about this. There`s a new interview that actually went viral which suggests that this kind of thing can work.
Here`s what an American citizen in a Republican district said after attending one Town Hall with the lone Republican to say that Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses. This was the takeaway from this individual at the Justin Amash town hall.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn`t heard that before and I mainly listen to conservative news and I haven`t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump had been exonerated.
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HAYES: I hadn`t heard that before. But the negative information was clearly heard there and processed. And all of this undercuts some lawyers that are clearly on Fox a lot like Rudy Giuliani. And there`s a key prosecutor in this new ad, Jeffrey Harris, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District and a former aide to yes, Rudy Giuliani at the Justice Department.
He is on THE BEAT for this special discussion when we come back next.
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JEFFREY HARRIS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: This administration in my view has an absolute disregard for the law.
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MELBER: Joining me now, the former Republican prosecutor from that clip from the ad we were just describing. It`s going on Fox News as we speak, Jeffrey Harris, former Deputy Associate general -- attorney general under Ronald Reagan, former assistant to Rudy Giuliani at the DOJ, and another former Federal Prosecutor U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, also back with us. Good to have you both here.
HARRIS: Nice to be here.
MELBER: Why are you speaking out, Jeffrey?
HARRIS: Well, I`m speaking out because I care about the rule of law which I believe is the foundation for our democracy. And you know, every federal official takes an oath of office that says that you take the office without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
And I think what we`re seeing in the administration today is a purpose of evading the law and this country can`t exist if that`s what goes on.
MELBER: Let`s take a look at what your old boss Rudy is saying about all this.
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RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: There was no injury, by the way. We`re talking about an inchoate crime. We`re talking about something that didn`t happen. There was no obstruction. There was no obstruction. They don`t point to a single obstruction in their investigation.
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MELBER: Is that true?
HARRIS: You know, it`s hard for me to listen to that and that`s not the person that I knew. Of course, there was obstruction. The clearest example and that`s the easiest to understand is what Mueller says that the president instructed Don McGahn to put a false statement in the file saying that he wasn`t ordered to fire Bob Mueller. That is the completed crime of obstruction of justice right there, nothing more.
And if Rudy is saying which he knows not to be true that if there`s no underlying crime that is eventually charged, you can`t obstruct justice during the investigation, that`s just blatantly false. You know, what happens all the time in white collar cases where there`s an investigation and perhaps the person doesn`t eventually get charged with what the investigators are looking into, but along the way he tries to tamper with a witness or conduct to that effect, and that`s a completed crime for which he can get -- can and does get prosecuted very often. And Rudy knows that.
MELBER: You say Rudy knows that. He was known to be pretty tough when he was running SDNY. What do you think he would do if he had a subject of a probe who instructed people to as you just described, to lie to investigators who some of aides were convicted of lying and then as you say tried to falsify evidence to cover up tampering with the probe?
HARRIS: Ari, I don`t have to tell you what I would think because I know the answer to that question. He would go after him hammer and tong, no question about it.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think that that`s absolutely right. This was not in many ways a closed case. And so prosecutors, it doesn`t really matter if you`re Republican or Democratic, we`re looking at the facts and the law here. And when you see someone committing an act that`s clearly designed to interfere with law enforcement, finding out the truth of the matter, you`re instantly thinking obstruction.
And when you see it being done with the corrupt purpose to impede an investigation, prosecutors will sit down, in this case, we`ll get indicted including Rudy Giuliani`s prosecutors as we`ve just heard so forcefully.
MELBER: Joyce, you know your way around the legal television world now, is that fair to say?
MELBER: Yes. Do you think that what we have here running on Fox News and hearing from these colleagues of yours, just your colleagues who did serve in Republican administrations, do you think it`ll have an impact?
VANCE: I think that this is both a smart but a disappointing strategy. It`s smart because I suspect it will find it smart. That clip that you played from Justin Amash`s town hall meeting was I thought very instructive. There are some folks who have an exclusive diet of conservative news who haven`t really been exposed to what`s in the Mueller report.
It`s also disappointing though, Ari, because we`re a country that used to run on a shared set of fats. We could disagree about what they meant, but we agreed about those undeniable facts. And now we`ve been split into almost tribal nations where you have to hear it from your own people in order to believe it.
So I`m delighted that this is happening but I think we need leadership in this country that helps us return to shared narratives.
MELBER: Jeffrey, did you know before you came on THE BEAT today that you would leave Joyce in a disappointed state about the way our country processes information?
HARRIS: Well, you know, I mean I`m disappointed as well. You know, I`m reminded of the person who was interviewed who said you know, I don`t want the federal government messing around with my Medicare. There are some people who just no matter what the facts are, are unwilling to listen, to learn and to accept them.
And one of the reasons we made this short video was because very often seeing it on television or YouTube or wherever else it may run is better than expecting people to read say the Mueller report which is quite lengthy, quite dense.
HARRIS: And you know, the movie always gets more attention than the book.
MELBER: Do you think the president will see what you said.
HARRIS: He may and you know, I really do not believe that there`s anything I can say which would change the way President Trump thinks about things or conducts himself. But I`m hoping that there is a segment of the public who is interested in finding out that there are responsible people who respect the rule of law that are disturbed by what`s going on.
MELBER: Well, you say the movie gets more attention than the book. What movie would this era be if it were a movie?
HARRIS: Well, you know, that`s yet -- there will be a movie, there`s no question about it, not yet. But what I`m saying is that a visual presentation often --
MELBER: Joyce, do you have a movie?
VANCE: You know, I think that there are so many tempting choices but 1984, if there`s a movie version of that book, that`s what we`re living through right now.
MELBER: And Jeff, I`ll give you time. If you think of one, you could come back with it.
HARRIS: All the President`s Men.
MELBER: Well, that`s a big one. That`s a big one. I guess Rudy would tell you there was an underlying crime in there and I guess you would tell him that the tapes showed Nixon doing arguably less direct meddling than what the Mueller reporter already sticks Trump with.
I got to fit in a break so to be continued. But I give the segment two thumbs up. That`s a (INAUDIBLE) reference. Jeffery and Joyce, thank you as always. I appreciate it. We`re going to fit in a break as I mention. And then we`re going to have a very special story you may not have heard about. There`s a top Democrat who`s actually doing something that brought the Trump administration to court today. That`s next.
MELBER: A new report from a top cybersecurity firm tonight said that the Russian trolls who interfere in the 2016 election also made money on ads while helping Trump. Now, there is a new fight over "dark money in campaigns."
And I`m thrilled to tell you that the man behind it, leading it is here, Montana governor and 2020 Democratic candidate Steve Bullock and he`s not just talking. He has a new lawsuit that`s in court today taking the Trump administration there for eliminating an IRS rule that provides transparency regarding foreign election money.
Also, sir, I know you are announcing this new plan right now on THE BEAT about tackling this issue. So thanks for making this the place to talk policy. What does your plan do?
GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s great to be on with you, Ari. I mean, we are seeing dark, undisclosed money really flooding our elections. Since Citizens United, there`s been about $1 billion in spending. The Trump Administration -- actually the same day that Trump was with Putin in Helsinki, he got rid of this rule that said the IRS has to collect all the major donor`s names to these 501C4, these dark money groups.
So literally, now, a Russian could give to the NRA and no one would ever know they are spending that money to influence our elections. So in federal court today, suing him on that rule. That has been around since 1971. Richard Nixon wasn`t exactly the model of transparency for sure --
MELBER: Now, I`m going to ask you on that. Are you the only Democrat suing Trump right now? I mean, how does this work if you become the nominee or president? You guys are going to be fighting in court?
BULLOCK: Well, I think we`re going to win this lawsuit and make sure that at least the IRS is collecting those names. So that will be long before the election because this is a rule that both states and the federal governments counted on. We also --
MELBER: Now, let`s talk a little -- I want to keep you moving just because of the time. Health care is something you let on in a red state. Let`s take a look at how you said ObamaCare had to be fought for even though it was not so popular where you were. Take a look.
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BULLOCK: By 2015, 30 states had expanded Medicaid. In Montana, the word ObamaCare was about as popular as a word like root canal. My legislature is two-thirds Republican-controlled yet it was important for Montana to ultimately get Medicaid passed. We are the only state since 2014 to get Medicaid expansion through a state legislature.
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MELBER: How did you do it? Is it part of your appeal as a -- as a candidate now for president?
BULLOCK: Yes, look, I`m I think the only Democrat in the field that actually won in a Trump state. When Trump was on the ballot, he took Montana by 20 in 2016, I won by four. We have to win back some of those places that we lost if we`re actually going to win this election.
I`ve also been able to as you know, govern in a divided area. The way I got that done wasn`t just by talking to legislators, but also listening to constituents, recognizing that if we lost rural hospitals, let them tell me from the perspective. If you lose a rural hospital, you`ve lost that community. So we got to pass really at the height of anti-ObamaCare.
And the way I win and the way I governed, I show up not just the blue places. I listen and I fundamentally believe that most folks have the same values of wanting decent health care, wanting a decent job, a roof over their head, believing you can do better for the next generation than even yourself.
MELBER: Candidates like Elizabeth Warren who I mention is on air as well later tonight are for impeaching Donald Trump now. Are you?
BULLOCK: I`m for making sure that Congress can actually do its full investigatory function, that oversight authority. And what we are seeing time and time again now, and you saw it again today, that the Trump administration is completely stonewalling, even allowing investigations.
So I want Congress to be able to do its oversight. We have to see where it goes from that perspective. And if he completely stonewalls, then an inquiry should be opened. But I tell you that --
MELBER: So you`re open to that later?
MELBER: Yes, I heard that one. And last one, guns. Do you support banning the type of assault rifles that we see in these -- in these mass shootings, and how does that play in your home state?
BULLOCK: I do support banning assault weapons for sure. And I think we should close sort of the gun show loopholes, our universal background checks. If we ever looked at this as a public health issue and not necessarily just as a political issue, I think we can make a lot more progress for sure.
Look, I just lowered the flags again. A fourth of the times I have been asked to lower the flags under President Trump and Obama has been for mass shootings. Our kids expect better.
MELBER: Yes, you put it that way and I know governors who deal with law enforcement and deal with those issues. You see it up close, you see what`s happening in the -- in the communities. So I appreciate your point on that. I appreciate you announcing the dark money proposal tonight.
We`ll be reporting on this race going forward. I hope you`ll come back.
BULLOCK: Thanks again for having me today, Ari.
MELBER: Absolutely. Thanks to Governor Bullock. That`s this episode of THE BEAT. "HARDBALL" With Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END