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Trump loses factual fights over tariffs. TRANSCRIPT: 6/11/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Jerry Nadler, Margaret Carlson, Paul Rieckhoff, John Malcolm, JohnFlannery

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  It is all happening, June 26th, June 27th. You can watch it all on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. That is all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY, and "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Steve thank you very much. We have a big show on THE BEAT planned tonight.

In one moment I will be joined live by House Judiciary Chair, Jerry Nadler, discussing why the House is not holding Attorney General Bill Barr and Former White House Counsel Don McGahn in criminal contempt and why they say they have some breakthroughs and they`re going to vote to make it easier to go to court and enforce these subpoenas for key evidence.

The party`s leaders meanwhile insisting today all of this will help hold the administration formally accountable.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): When a Congressional Committee issues a subpoena compliance is not optional.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): The Trump administration is engaged in one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who does he think he is? A dictator?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We must follow the facts and uncover the truth for the American people.


MELBER: As promised, right now live, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler joining us for an exclusive interview. His first since the Mueller report hearing. Good day to you Chairman. We`ll get to that vote, but first on that hearing you led yesterday, what in your view did it accomplish? What did it show the American public?

NADLER: Well, what it accomplished was to start going through the evidence in the Mueller report and we had not only John Dean, a former White House counsel and the former Chief Republican Counsel for the Judiciary Committee, interestingly enough.

But two veteran U.S. attorneys - veteran U.S. prosecutors whom you know from MSNBC, Barbara McQuade and Joyce Vance, who went through the instances of obstruction of justice in detail that are laid out in the Mueller report.

And who said why and in many of the cases, they would - the evidence was in the report by itself was very sufficient to establish the criminal case of obstruction of justice against the President. And why if they were still U.S. attorneys and were presented with that evidence, they would have prosecuted and prosecuted successfully.

And that was, obviously, very important to show the American people that no person is above the law and that we have to start getting this information now. The fact is that it would have been better, obviously, had we had the fact witnesses, Don McGahn, the former counsel to the President who could have spoken about what he`s reported to have said in the Mueller report.

But the administration has down the line opposed our subpoenas and not complied with congressional subpoenas, which is why what we did today, the House of passing a resolution enforcing - a contempt resolution giving us the power to enforce our subpoenas in court was so important.

MELBER: So you mentioned that there you voted today on this contempt move. These officials - especially, lawyers, but really anyone responsible doesn`t want to be held in contempt. It`s a serious step you`ve taken.

But you`ve also stopped short of criminal contempt for attorney General Barr. And as you said, and we`ve been reporting that`s because you say there`s a breakthrough and in providing evidence to you. Why did you stop short of criminal contempt for Mr. McGahn?

NADLER: We did not stop short of contempt for Mr. McGahn--

MELBER: Criminal content.

NADLER: Well, the resolution empowers contempt period - civil or criminal frankly. If Mr. McGahn does not comply with our subpoena promptly, we will go to court to force his compliance and we`ll use the contempt power.

That is the whole point of the resolution. And we will use it on Mr. McGahn, we`ll use it on any other witness, for instance, Hope Hicks or Annie Donaldson if they don`t comply with our subpoenas and testify and give us the information and the documents that we have requested.

Now with respect to Attorney General Barr, we - our subpoena asked him a couple months ago for the redacted portions of the Mueller report and for underlying evidence in it. They refused to give it to us, which is why we cited him for contempt of the Committee.

But we`ve gotten - as of as of yesterday or day before yesterday we got - yesterday morning actually, we have an agreement with the Justice Department that they will give us access to the redacted portions of the Mueller report except for the grand jury evidence. We will go to court to get the grand jury evidence.

And they have agreed to give us in priority, order with us establishing the priority, the underlying evidence under the Mueller report. If they do that in good faith then there`s no point to holding - to going forward with a contempt proceeding against Attorney General Barr.

If they don`t do what they`ve agreed to do in good faith, then we will proceed with the content proceeding against the Attorney General.

MELBER: So that - that`s a breakthrough. I mean, people ask whether the pressure works. What you`re saying is, if they hold up to what they`ve now told you in writing they`ll do, then your pressure and the contempt strategy did work.

Does that material include getting for example the FBI interview - the so- called 302 with McGahn?

NADLER: Yes. Well, it includes the 302s that we asked for under the Mueller report and that would include 302s from McGahn--

MELBER: Which is big. I mean, there`s been this whole discussion that McGahn is the most cited witness in the Mueller probe. That he appeared to outline things that Donald Trump secretly did, that he thought would stay secret. That formed what Mueller viewed as criminal evidence against the sitting President.

What do you want to learn? What should our viewers care about in that interview that you say you`re going to obtain?

NADLER: Well, we want to know exactly what the President said and what he said. And we and we should hear the - and the American people should hear the first-person accounts of what is recounted in the Mueller report and maybe some things that aren`t.

Did the President ask him to fire Mueller - asked McGahn to fire Mueller because he wanted to stop the investigation? Did the President - or asked McGahn after he refused to do so, to create a false record stating that he`d never been asked to that. That would be - that is total, complete evidence of obstruction of justice, violation of the criminal law. Those are some of the things we want to ask him.

MELBER: And if you--

NADLER: And it`s laid out in the Mueller report, but we want to hear that from him firsthand.

MELBER: And Mr. Chairman if you have that - do you view that as education for the American public to hear that from again a loyal Trump aide. This is not some critic. This is Donald Trump`s aide and innermost advisor in the White House, saying these things that sound really bad.

Or is that for your colleagues to try to push others who maybe have not been as concerned about this as you have or at least aren`t moving towards contempt votes and impeachment?

NADLER: It`s for our colleagues. It`s also for the American people. The American people have a right to know what happened. Remember, the Mueller report came out and said what it said.

And then the Attorney General came out and lied what was in - about what was in the in the Mueller report. And for five or six weeks all you had out there was the Attorney General misrepresenting was in the Mueller report, and saying no collusion, no obstruction. The President echoing that, and that`s the dominant ethos that was established.

Now the Mueller report doesn`t say that. It doesn`t say no collusion. It says not enough evidence to go to convict beyond reasonable doubt the crime of criminal conspiracy. It does show massive evidence of cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

The Trump campaign knowing that the Russians we`re trying to help them and welcoming that help - that - that`s what I normally call - would call collusion. It shows that - it shows considerable evidence, substantial evidence in the words of the Mueller report of criminal obstruction of justice.

And the purpose - one purpose of the hearings is not just for people to read the report. The people are not going to read a 448 page report. But it`s important that the witnesses who give us this information, the person who heard from the President illegal instructions, were to testify to that.

MELBER: And, yes - well, I would say some people read the report. I know you the report, your staff, many people who follow this. But I take your point in terms of how the information gets out there.

Now you mentioned earlier, and I want to circle back to make sure we`re understanding this. You said, "Well, contempt is contempt". The history, as you know, was the Republicans held Attorney General Holder in criminal contempt. And the Democrats, when dealing with the Bush administration, will put up, so folks remember with White House officials Bolton and Miers, they were held in both criminal and civil contempt.

When people hear reports that McGahn is only civil contempt, is that less, is that a difference or what is your response to that?

NADLER: No, no, the resolution gives us the power to - for civil or criminal contempt and I think that`s why that threat is probably why the Department of Justice have to stonewalling us since March, finally made this agreement, which hopefully they will in good faith carry out.

MELBER: Understood. Another thing we want to get you on the record for, because it`s always interesting when we have you on THE BEAT, is Mr. Chairman these reports - I`m sure you`ve seen in Politico. They say quote, "Chairman Nadler has twice urged Speaker Pelosi in private to open a formal impeachment inquiry". Is that true?

NADLER: Well, I agree with Nancy Pelosi 100 percent that all options must be on the table. And what we are doing now and what we will continue to do is to get out the information through the resolution, through the lawsuits that we`re going to bring to enforce our subpoenas, through the hearings that we`re conducting.

Yesterday was the very first hearing on this whole subject. We will conduct more hearings. We will get the fact witnesses and we`ll have to see where it goes and all options are certainly on the table.

And it`s very important by the way for us to go to court as this resolution we adopted today enables us to do to get the witnesses, to get the information and to get the grand jury material, which we will do - which we have to do also.

MELBER: But when people say, "Oh, Chairman Nadler is pushing Pelosi on this", that`s basically true or basically not true?

NADLER: Well, Nancy is - Nancy Pelosi has said that all options are on the table. They are on the table. And when we get more information as this since - as this process continues, we`ll have to make decisions down the road.

MELBER: You`ve also been negotiating with now former Special Counsel Mueller. Has he agreed to come in voluntarily? Is there a date by which if he does not, you would subpoena him?

NADLER: Well, we`re carry on conversations with him, and he will come in. And if we have to subpoena him, we will.

MELBER: Would that be, say, by the end of the summer if he doesn`t come in?

NADLER: Oh, I would think it will be way before that.

MELBER: Way before that. By the end of June?

NADLER: I`m not going to comment. I don`t know.

MELBER: Understand. And my job is to ask the questions, but I respect that you have a process going. When you say this is the beginning, I wonder what else in your view, before I let you go Mr. Chairman, is important for the Congress to probe from the Mueller report.

We`ve talked a little bit about some of the issues in Volume 2 McGahn and those obstruction issues. Are there other things that concern you, especially given what`s happening now with Attorney General Barr when we read the reports about the way the President demanded things - personal loyalties and other things from law enforcement?

And is there any way that do you think that affects patrolling the oversight role what`s happening now?

NADLER: Those all go to questions of obstruction of justice, which goes really - it`s fundamental - it`s not a process question. Obstruction of justice is fundamental system of justice and to making sure that the President is not a king. That he is not above the law. That he has to follow the law and that he can`t escape the law and assume powers of a king against the congressional powers. Those are some of the key issues.

We also have to obviously look into all the questions about the collusion of the Trump campaign with the Russians - the Russian - remember what this is about. This is not about a private sexual affair as the last impeachment inquiry was the 20 years ago.

This is about an attack on our country, an attack on our democracy by the Russian government. And about the fact that many people in the Trump campaign clearly cooperated - certainly they knew about it, they - the report says they welcomed that attack. They welcomed the help. They cooperated - some people in campaign clearly cooperated in various ways and that`s clear collusion.

We have to look into this into where the laws are broken. But just as important is that, how the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to attack our campaign and what we can do to make sure to hold the people involved accountable.

But also to make sure that kind of thing can never happen again, which I noticed, that both - I think it was Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani saw nothing wrong with getting foreign assistance in the next campaign. And that is beyond belief.

MELBER: Well, Chairman Nadler on the day of these votes and right after the hearing, fascinating to hear where you`re headed and some of the news you just made. And thanks for joining us on THE BEAT with your first interview since that hearing, sir.

NADLER: Well, thank you Ari.

MELBER: I appreciate it, Mr. Chairman. And now for reaction, we go to Eugene Robinson, Columnist for The Washington Post and Margaret Carlson columnist for The Daily Beast.

That was obviously the man of the hour on a day when Democrats say they have a breakthrough, Eugene, in getting things from Barr that he initially wasn`t going to give, your top-line reaction what we heard from the Chairman.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, I`m a little confused. Does the resolution that was just passed say, you Don McGahn and/or you William Barr, are hereby held in contempt of Congress, you are charged with contempt of Congress?

Or does it use as some inherent contempt power to allow Committee Chairman to then go to court in order to enforce the subpoenas or somewhere in between? You probably understand the legal more than I do.

MELBER: Well, I will give you a little reaction to your--

ROBINSON: --to contradiction.

MELBER: I will give you a little reaction to your reaction and then hand you the ball back. I mean, what the Chairman is trying to argue is that the civil contempt process, in their view, is contempt, because it gets them out of Congress where there`s letters exchanged and into court where if the DOJ loses there`s a court orders to hand stuff over.

But as I noted, in fact, I think we`ll play a little sound for you and then toss it back to both of you. There have been times where the Congress explicitly said criminal contempt. That was certainly the case--

ROBINSON: That`s what I thought.

MELBER: --in Eric Holder, let`s look at the flashback to that.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Eric Holder today became the first United States Attorney General ever to be held in contempt of Congress.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): I don`t take this matter lightly, and I would frankly hoped it would never come to this.


MELBER: Back to you Eugene.

ROBINSON: Well, maybe it`s a distinction without a difference. It sounds like a difference to me. But the other question I have, from what the Chairman said is. He had a hearing yesterday. Barbara McQuade, Joyce Vance established basically a prima facie case for obstruction of justice, which would seem to me to be a predicate for an impeachment inquiry, which would give Congress - would put Congress at the height of its power, its ability to compel testimony and documents.

So what`s missing in that - in the step from yesterday to today - if it lives it`s so clear-cut, why not take the next step?

MELBER: Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, first of all criminal contempt has a way of getting someone`s attention more than civil contempt, so there is a difference in that way.

And I don`t have answers to Eugene`s questions. I wish I did. Ari, you`re the better lawyer. But I actually have another question, which is given what the Democrats got today, the vote to enforce the subpoenas with civil or criminal contempt down the road. What superpowers does impeachment give Chairman Nadler or the Democrats that they don`t have now?

MELBER: Are you both - now, just as the point of order, are you both conducting a reverse interview?

ROBINSON: Well, we kind of are. But I can kind of answer - I can partially answer that question, because--

MELBER: All right. Look, Margaret is in the middle of the screen anyway. Margaret, you tee that up to Eugene.

CARLSON: OK. Eugene, go.

ROBINSON: Well, I believe that it does - it takes off the table one of the arguments that the White House is making, which is that there`s no legitimate legislative intent for watering all this information. You`re not going to use this information to make laws, that`s what you do, you`re supposed to make laws, and you don`t need the President`s tax returns or anything like that to make laws.

Well, you certainly need that and everything you can get if you`re in the middle of an inquiry to see if the President should be impeached, if the President committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

So it seem to me that Congress has power to compel testimony, to compel documents, whatever it wants whatever it needs would be at its very height in an impeachment inquiry.

MELBER: Yes, I would echo that also Margaret and then we`ll figure out who asks the next question. But I think as Eugene says, part of what we`re talking about - the reason why these things get into this weird inter- branch place is, we`re talking about what will convince judges on the D.C., District and Circuit Court of Appeals - and if they rule it stands, unless the Supreme Court wants to get involved.

We know John Roberts and others are hoping a sidestep Mueller related stuff. They`ve made it this far. Whether those judges think that certain arguments are stronger or weaker based on what Congress is looking for?

And historically the notion of potential high crimes and misdemeanors, whether they`re seen as valid or not, is kind of higher then, "Oh, we need this information to help us legislate or hold another funding hearing" and so I think that`s broadly true, but it doesn`t necessarily tell you who`s automatically going to win.

We`re in that sort of gray zone, Margaret of the question of when you go to the court and they say, "Well, the AG has some good arguments for keeping stuff private and the Congress has some good arguments for what they need". What are the things that break that tie, so to speak?

CARLSON: Right. But only in the tax question, is the legislative purpose legitimate or salient. And when Mnuchin responds or his attorney does, that without a legislative purpose why is Chairman Neal asking for these tax returns.

The court doesn`t have to accept that and they`re - I mean there`s a massive number of legislative purposes you can have.

And on these other matters, oversight committees and judiciary, Congress has a lot of power to ask for anything and have it come to them it`s the third branch of government.

MELBER: Yes. And I think I think the Treasurer was - as you get into that was throwing all sorts of stuff at the law. I mean, there is a rule, it`s somewhat arcane, but it makes sense, called a Bill of Attainder.

Congress is not allowed to pass a bill, for example, that says Nancy Pelosi`s taxes are lower than everyone else`s, and everyone going to say, why that`s a fair restriction on their power.

Well, likewise, if the President is trying to do things that would only benefit or largely benefit him or his companies, Congress can argue, they need to know some factual predicate for that to guard against that as a legislative purpose, right. And so there`s all sorts of interesting - you know we`re getting into the fog.

Before I let you go, real quick, what did both are you think in a sentence or two about Chairman Nadler`s apparent confidence breaking a little news tidbit tonight that`s saying, he would have a resolution on Mueller testifying way before the end of summer.

ROBINSON: I think that was news to me, because that didn`t seem to be going anywhere - or more much of anywhere and it brushed off the question of whether or not he would have to be subpoenaed. So it looks like they - looks like it might happen.

CARLSON: Well, and he - but he did brush off end of June question Ari that you followed up with. So not the end of summer, but I don`t think before the end of June, so--

MELBER: Right, you said--

CARLSON: So maybe we`re in July.

MELBER: It`s just like planning a party. You set the wide window, then you try to narrow in, is everyone free next week? No.

CARLSON: OK. Ari, you made news. It`s July.

MELBER: Well, you said it, not me. We`ll keep our eye on it. Really interesting to hear from the Chairman, we appreciate his time and from two ace Washington journalists Eugene Robinson and Margaret Carlson, thanks to both of you for helping us understand it.

Coming up, new critiques of Donald Trump`s national security and military record - this is a big one. We`re going to get into it later. Donald Trump refuses to let anyone see what he claims is now that secret deal in his pocket. We have a fact check and my special report tonight, something we`ve been working on Trump, truth and journalism today.

All that, and before we go, by the end of tonight, by the end of this show, we`re going to show you some emotional testimony from Jon Stewart. Many people are saying was a moving rebuke of Congress and taking care of the people who gave up the most on 9/11. I`m Ari Melber, and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Today Donald Trump used a lengthy and sometimes rambling appearance to defend why he folded on those tariffs and to insult Joe Biden, stoking all kinds of reaction about Trump versus Biden, which maybe exactly what Trump wants. A focus on the Democrat he`s attacking in the contours of their beef.

But that`s not our top 2020 story tonight, which is actually about some of the candidates Trump isn`t talking about, including one of the few veterans in the race, Pete Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan and made waves accusing Trump of faking a disability to duck Vietnam. Now he`s saying this.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While the current administration lacks a coherent policy, it does show a pattern - a troubling one, when it comes to its conduct abroad.

This administration has embraced and emboldened autocrats, while alienating democracies and allies around the globe. It has undermined America`s alliances, partnerships and treaties. The pattern is that decisions are made impulsively, erratically, emotionally and politically, often delivered by means of early morning tweet.


MELBER: Buttigieg is basically ignoring Trump`s attempt to frame this race and turning the attention to one of Trump`s contradictions. He talks a big game, but avoided service. He actually has high approval on national security, even as he attacks his own military leaders and Gold Star families.

Trump has an obsession with the imagery and myth-making of the military from his own high school stint - that you see here at a military-style academy to his Trumpian treatment of the military as a kind of a branding exercise.

You see they`re stamping the MAGA slogan on camouflage hats, pictures are powerful and Trump has been supplying them. Mayor Pete, though, is now a veteran hitting Trump back with a rebuttal for this image driven age and hitting him with some wisdom that the musician Big Sean once dropped on anyone living a lie through the pictures they post. I`m an original, you`re just a reenactment. I live that picture-perfect life you lie about in your captions.

And to break all this down, including the puffery, we are joined by Paul Rieckhoff Army First Lieutenant Iraq who founded the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, thanks for being here.


MELBER: Your view of all this?

RIECKHOFF: Well the quote De La Soul, "Stakes is High". This is the highest stakes we could possibly imagine, right, war and international conflict, nukes. And I think that over all that the Democrats have a stronger hand than they`ve had maybe since John Kerry.

It`s not just Mayor Pete, but they`ve also got Tulsi Gabbard and they`ve got Seth Moulton all post-911 combat vets - and I`m talking about all new vets, new vets who`ve been overseas post 9/11, who are I think now really just kind of waging the first frontal assault.

And this is a military conflict. This was kind of the opening salvo from Mayor Pete and I think the difference here was timing and tone. Mayor Pete went first, right. He said I`m going to take on national security, defense- -

MELBER: He didn`t wait to respond on this.

RIECKHOFF: He didn`t wait and he knows this is a strong hand for him. I think, especially, I`m an independent. Many people in the veterans community are independents. They`re looking for that kind of signaling to hear that he will prioritize national security and defense. I think it`s a strong hand for him and I wouldn`t be surprised if Moulton and Tulsi Gabbard follow-on.

And then you start to open up that front on Trump, which I think is a real vulnerability, especially after the attacks on McCain, after the attacks in the Khan (ph) family. I think Trump thinks he has a stronger hand here than he does.

MELBER: You do a lot of work and thinking in civil military relations, which is complicated. One of the things that a lot of people felt before Trump took office was, maybe we try to leave more of those debates over who served what, when and how, and focus on policy who`s going to do right by veterans and have a good safe policy.

I wonder whether you think that might be antiquated for critics of Trump given that he picks beef with everyone over personal stuff, nicknames and the rest, and yet he`s getting away with Mayor Buttigieg argues, his bone spur defense.

RIECKHOFF: You can`t have both ways and you can`t separate the two. War is the extension of politics by other means and I think that Trump`s been playing with fire. I mean, the 4th of July parade is a great example. I mean that could go really wrong for him politically. But I think for in terms of our democracy, I think it`s going to go very wrong.

You don`t want to politicize the military. You don`t want to overuse them. And I think you`re on soft ground if you dodge the draft and didn`t serve yourself. So this is going to be an attack they`re going to keep up.

And there`s another part of this. Today every New York politician has supported the extension of the 9/11 health support. There`s one who`s silent President Trump. OK. He`s from New York. He says he supports us.

That includes the people - 9/11 was an act of war, right. My friends are down in Washington, I was with many of them in Long Island last night, raising money for the fight for fund. This is the extension of war and he`s leaving them hanging out to dry. So any minute he could--

MELBER: You think he doesn`t care about that--

RIECKHOFF: It doesn`t look like he cares. He`s tweeting about a lot of other things, but he`s not tweeting about 9/11 first responder. My friend Rob Sarah (ph) is an FDNY hero. He was there on 9/11. He`s in Washington now.

He has a hashtag My Friends Are Dying, that`s what`s happening. Our friends are dying. Congress can end this today. The President can step in and big- foot it today. That`s what Jon Stewart has - have been issued a clarion call to America.

This is a conscience calling moment and I hope Buttigieg and all the other candidates are respond. But Trump, clock is ticking, America is looking at you.

MELBER: Well, I appreciate you bringing that as well at the table and we actually have a little more on what Jon Stewart said that was so moving later in the show. Paul Rieckhoff, always good to have your expertise here and your passion.

And before I let you go, I`ll remind everyone, Paul has a new podcast, Angry Americans.  You can find it wherever you get your podcast.  Check that out because it is worthwhile.

Up ahead, an obstruction probe witness blaming Mueller.  You won`t believe why.  That joins -- that person joins me tonight.  We`re going to get into it.  But in 30 seconds, new fault lines on the battle between Trump and truth, a special report when we come back.


MELBER:  Another special report tonight in the battle between truth and Trump, the free press and a president whose survival in politics increasing depends on convincing supporters to ignore the facts, to detest journalists, and to even deny what you see with your own eyes.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We are fighting the fake news.  It`s fake, phony, fake.  They are the enemy of the people.

Just stick with us.  Don`t believe that crap you see from these people, the fake news.

And just remember, what you`re seeing and what you`re reading is not what`s happening.


MELBER:  There is news on this front tonight and here`s the context for the battle.  The facts keep winning not every time but a lot.  Now, I don`t mean winning in the Trumpian sense about power, I mean information reported out by journalists still matters and people are processing it as facts.  And those facts have consequences.

An example, in the news right now is Trump holding on tariffs.  The facts about that policy reported, those facts do reaction in the markets in Congress.  And now Trump`s effort to lie, lie about it are also running into a wall of facts that clearly is upsetting him.

Another example is when the most important economic posts the president fills at the Fed.  Both of Trump`s favorite candidates were just stopped in their tracks because of journalistic reporting about their actual views.

Or take the issue of opioids.  Trump ran on it.  He`s talked it up as a priority.  But did you know that when there was actually time to appoint someone to tackle it, Trump tapped the Congressman who literally pushed the law weakening the DEA`s enforcement

Now, real quick, how do we know that.  Because of investigative reporting by the Washington Post in 60 Minutes which reported those facts and poof, that drug czar nominee was gone within two days.  Facts.

If this sounds like counterintuitive good news, if it sounds less cynical than the conventional wisdom these days, that is also because Trump`s political messaging is about trying to distract from the facts and their impact to get you excited about the next clash and to breathe cynicism about yes, the press including us along the way.

But why are we doing a special report right now about this?  Because the challenges facing the press are also broader than this president.  That brings us to a hearing in Congress just today.  A kind of hearing that doesn`t get much attention.  A House subcommittee probing how big tech may undercut a free and diverse press and warnings of a crisis.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  This journalism crisis is also a democracy crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A small number of companies now exercise an extreme level of control over the news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Together, Facebook and Google have bought 150 companies in just the last six years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The very fabric of our civic society is at risk.


MELBER:  Now, this is tricky terrain.  Our Constitution is skeptical politicians getting near press regulation.  And while tech companies mistakes are stoking calls for more regulation, it`s not like everyone thinks well, Congress should call the shots instead of say, independent entrepreneurs.

But as journalists especially print journalists do the work that holds the powerful accountable, look at how their employers across the nation are getting decimated.  One of the four reporters now gone, hundreds of newsrooms wiped out in the last decade alone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Today the Dallas Morning News laid off four percent of its staff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At the Denver Post, 30 journalists are being laid off there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The cuts affected between 16 and 20 editorial staff in the nearly 70 person newsroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The move was part of their focus to become a subscriber first digital organization.


MELBER:  These hits to journalism are not at all equally distributed.  They`re really hard on local papers out in the nation which undercuts reporting in some of the poorer areas of the country both red and blue, costing those communities in all sorts of ways from representation to participation in civic life.

So where do we go from here on this?  Well, today`s hearing implicates two forces that are squeezing the press right now.  I`m going to say it.  Up here a truther president pushing the press from above, but down here an internet business model that doesn`t always work for the press.

Debates over whether these rich tech platforms are good or bad for the press rage on.  And of course, many news organizations deal with these issues just like you do.  The platforms, Facebook, Google, whatever they offer, distribution, speed, and impact, but they`re not free.  They take something from you in exchange.  From you, they take your privacy.  From the news, well, sometimes they take the labor that makes a headline worth clicking on.

Now, that`s a single way to measure it but tech companies draw over 70 percent of digital ads.  Google`s -- Google makes billions off news features that it doesn`t usually pay for and the tech companies insist hey, this is what we`re supposed to do, exploit perfectly legal opportunities.

And their platforms, to be clear, have made many news outlets and reporters, more read, more known, more influential than they ever were in the analog era.  So these tech allies argue if other information companies were good enough to do that, they would do it.  It`s basically what Mark Zuckerberg character famously said in The Social Network.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you see any of your code on Facebook?  Did I use any of your code?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You stole our whole goddamn ideas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can I continue with my deposition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know, you really don`t need a forensics team to get to the bottom of this.  If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you`d have invented Facebook.


MELBER:  You`d have invented Facebook.  He did have a point or at least the character who said that, but not the whole point.  Congress has set all sorts of limits on industries that impact the public interest from medicine, to driving, to information, to communications.  That`s why there`s a whole Federal Communications Commission which was created long before the internet, 1934 actually.

Today`s hearing was just one maybe obscure start to a deeper debate that affects you in an era where the head of the federal government serves as a reminder of why we`re skeptical of any government intrusion in the press.

Think about it like this.  Do you want Donald Trump having more sway over what`s on Google?  A lot of people say no which is the argument against too much reg.  But do you want these business developments to undercut the press as we know it all over the country if that is an avoidable thing?

It`s about more than headlines.  It`s about the free press and free information.  And I think in a democracy, that really does mean freedom.  Well, what is freedom?  Janis Joplin and Kris Kristofferson tell us it`s just another word for nothing left to lose.  But when those local papers had nothing left to lose, they weren`t free, they were broke, and gone.

I think we need a Free Press which does have something to lose because anything less will be chilling for our democracy.



NADLER:  We have an agreement with the Justice Department that they will give us access to the redacted portions of the Mueller report.  And they have agreed to give us in priority order with us establishing the priority the underlying evidence under the Mueller report.


MELBER:  Judiciary Chairman Nadler moments ago breaking a little bit of news on his new deal with the Attorney General to get more Mueller evidence.  Barr though, the Attorney General under fire for the way he handled the Trump obstruction case.  Democrats are vowing much more aggressive efforts.

Now Republicans to view their own witness at that very Nadler hearing we were discussing, former Prosecutor John Malcolm.


JOHN MALCOLM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  By not making a traditional prosecutorial judgment with respect to the obstruction of justice allegations, Mr. Mueller failed to fulfill that duty.  By not doing so, the Special Counsel put the Attorney General in the difficult situation of having to make that decision.


MELBER:  And that very witness John Malcolm joins me now.  Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

MALCOLM:  It`s my pleasure.  Good to be with you.

MELBER:  Did you have a good time?

MALCOLM:  Well, I was largely ignored.  I mean, John Dean got an awful lot of attention from the Republicans and the Democrats and I didn`t get asked a single question by a single Democrat.  It seems that they wanted to hear what the other two prosecutors had to say in what John Dean had to say but not what I had to say.

MELBER:  Well, as a Republican witness, we`re interested and we`ve been hearing from people on all sides of this.  Let me play one of the more interesting but really disturbing in some ways claims that you made.  Take a look.


MALCOLM:  It is almost invariably the case that someone attempting to obstruct an investigation also engages in other nefarious activities such as destroying evidence, suborning perjury, bribing witnesses, or threatening them with bodily harm.


MELBER:  I thought you laid out the law quite clearly there, but you were implying that the president never did any of that.  As you know, it`s incontrovertible that he did that.  Some of which is according to his own aides quoted in the Mueller report, and some of which everyone remembers publicly like telling people not to cooperate, calling people rats, the raising the specter of threats to people`s family about what could happen to them.  Why did you choose to go that route when you know the president has done some of those things?

MALCOLM:  Well, let me begin by saying that I`m not here to defend the president`s conduct.  I am here to defend the rule of law.  And I think that your characterization of the facts in the Mueller report with all due respect is somewhat hyperbolic.

I mean, saying that somebody is a rat or somebody ought to cooperate or not cooperate, that`s really no different for instance than what Bill Clinton did with respect to --


MELBER:  OK, but I`m not doing a news program about the Clinton impeachment.

MALCOLM:  Oh, no, I understand that.  But --

MELBER:  If you want to do that, some time we can do that.  And I appreciate your --

MALCOLM:  No, but there are --

MELBER:  Sir, sir, I`m hanging you up for a second.  And I appreciate you depicting the media as hyperbolic, but I didn`t invite you on for media criticism.  Let`s go to the quote and I`ll let you respond.  Since you use the H-word, here is the Mueller report depicting the President telling Mr. McGahn to basically falsify records.

The press reported that the President directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed.  Trump reacts by directing White House officials, "tell McGahn to dispute the story, create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the special counsel removed."  Is that not evidence of Donald Trump trying to tamper with the evidence the special counsel was getting.

MALCOLM:  No.  He didn`t tell Don McGahn to go to the special counsel and lie and change something to the press to get him to defend himself is not telling him to lie.  Don McGahn said that`s not my recollection.  I`m not going to do it.  The President didn`t like it but in fire Don McGahn.  There were no repercussions for that.

When he went and spoke to the Special Counsel, he never told Don McGahn, now, whatever it is you do, Don, you know, don`t tell him about the conversation that we had about Jeff Sessions.  So no.  Trying to you know, get a subordinate to go out and publicly defend him about --

MELBER:  So you`re making a legal distinction.  You`re saying that lying to the public is different than lying to prosecutors.  I think that`s a fair point.  But when you hear the reference to falsifying records, would that not be records that would be provided potentially to law enforcement?

MALCOLM:  He wasn`t tampering with the record.  He was asking him to create a record.  And when he said, I`m not going to do it because that doesn`t jive with my recollection of things, the president didn`t like it but there were no repercussions from that.

MELBER:  Well, create a false record, yes sir?

MALCOLM:  He asked him to write what the president believed to be, and so McGahn said I`m not going to do it because I don`t believe it so.  The president didn`t like it, but he lumped it.  He took it.

MELBER:  OK.  And I appreciate you making your case.  Let me also ask you about the other piece which was affecting witnesses.  And this doesn`t -- you have to rely on the Mueller report.  Americans have now become accustomed to the way the president talks about potential witnesses.  Take a listen for example to him discussing his former lawyer Michael Cohen`s father-in-law.


TRUMP:  He should give information may be on his father in law because that`s the one that people want to look at.  Because where does that money -- that`s the money in the family.  And I guess he didn`t want to talk about his father in law.


MELBER:  Don`t those kinds of public comments also go to the President`s state of mind and intent to impact witnesses in your view?

MALCOLM:  Michael Cohen was already cooperating so it`s hard to see how that statement could impact on anything.  Again, I`m not defending the President`s conduct.  The President does stuff all the time that is uncivil, intemperate, and impulsive, and stuff that I wouldn`t do.  But there`s a difference between doing stuff it`s impulsive and uncivil and doing something that`s criminal.

MELBER:  Right.  And I appreciate the distinction and your candor about what you say is some perhaps mistakes or uncivil comments as you put it.  Stay with me.


MELBER:  I want to bring in another former federal prosecutor like yourself John Flannery.  John, your views.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  My views are that we have another mouthpiece for Trump.  And the reason is I believe based on his writings, your writings, John, is that you believe the president can do anything and that he should be insulated from the Congress and that he can`t obstruct justice as John Dowd said.  You pretty much said in your memo and your statement yesterday before the Congress.

I wish I`d been there to ask you questions about your belief that our president should basically be a monarch.  You incited Alexander Hamilton in your address who in that particular publication number 70 of the Federalist Papers spoke about how wonderful dictators are and we shouldn`t get in their way because there are things that they have to do for us.

MELBER:  Let me let John --

FLANNERY:  And you saying that about this president.

MELBER:  I lover getting constitutional, John.  You cited Hamilton though for the argument that a president shouldn`t always have to worry that his government actions could wind him up in court.  Your response.

MALCOLM:  That is of course correct.  I mean, you know, with all due --

FLANNERY:  Well, then, what about --


MELBER:  Wait, I`m going to Malcolm.  I`m going to Malcolm.  Let him respond.

MALCOLM:  With all due respect, I don`t work for the Trump administration.  I haven`t worked for the Trump administration.  And I was in the Department of Justice for ten years and I have never said anything along the lines of the characterizations that were just given by this other person.  Alexander Hamilton --

FLANNERY:  Well, just read your own statement.  Read your own statement.

MALCOLM:  I would invite you please to put out on MSNBC`s Web site my statement for others to read.  Please do that.


MALCOLM:  Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Number 70 talked about the need to have a president who can act with alacrity and dispatch and verve.  And the reason I cited that is because you should not have a prosecutor second- guessing a president when a president is acting within his core powers Under Article two such as appointing and removing officials and considering pardons.

MELBER:  Briefly, John Flannery.  Briefly and civilly since we`re being civil.

FLANNERY:  Yes, sir.  Yes, sir, civilly.  What that particular provision said was the republic said Hamilton was obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man under the formidable title of dictator.  That is the provision you cited.

Now, as for faithfully executing the law a president abuses his power when he goes and pardons those who investigate him, those who would talk against him.  He threatens them and exchanges pardons like his conversation that he authorized John Dowd, no doubt, to have with Flynn.

MELBER:  Right.  And Flannery and I have discussed some of that.  Those are important points.  Mr. Malcolm, you said you didn`t get questions or at least a lot of them yesterday.  You got some here.  You`re welcome to come back.  Again, I have to fit in a break.  I appreciate you taking the questions.  Former federal prosecutors John Malcolm and John Flannery, my thanks to both of you.

FLANNERY:  Thank you.

MALCOLM:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Up ahead, as promised, we explained -- we would get into what Jon Stewart said about holding Congress accountable in an angry speech over helping 911 victims.  Stay with us.


MELBER:  Now, an important story we told you we would cover tonight.  Jon Stewart getting emotional today in testimony to it is United States Congress on an issue he worked tirelessly on for a long time as you may know.  This is all about the compensation fund for 9/11 first responders.


JON STEWART, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS ADVOCATE:  A filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me a nearly empty Congress.  Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.  It`s shameful.


Now, what does nearly empty mean?  There were lawmakers who argued that that hearing was for a subcommittee so the turn out actually matched the scheduled number of people that were supposed to be there.  But Jon Stewart may be arguing a larger sense, the Congress is turning up empty on its mission, its obligation in his view to extend this fund.


STEWART:  They responded in five seconds.  They did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility.  18 years later, do yours!  Thank you.


MELBER:  Jon Stewart cares a lot about this and as you know, he doesn`t lack for opportunities to speak on television.  We know that he turns many of them down.  This is a place where he wants to deploy his platform.  And many of us also remember his first show after the 9/11 attacks.


STEWART:  Any fool can destroy, but to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen and people from all over the country literally with buckets, rebuilding, that -- that is -- that`s extraordinary.



MELBER:  That does it for THE BEAT.  "HARDBALL" starts now.