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Trump loyalist Hope Hicks to face Congress. TRANSCRIPT: 6/12/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Aisha Moodie Mills, Daniella Gibbs Leger, Barbara Res, Matt Welch,E.J. Dionne, Brittney Cooper, John Flannery, Michael McFaul

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: There`s a new ChuckToddcast. My guest from the windy city this week. The Chicago Tribune`s Kim Geiger, And WGN Radio Steve Cochran. Download it now wherever you get your podcast. That`s all I got for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.

Till then, stick around for "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber, because it starts right now.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Chuck. The Democratic pressure on Trump World is working I can tell you because of a major new crack. This news is breaking right now. Trump loyalist and long-time aide, you`ve certainly heard of her, Hope Hicks, will - will testify under oath before the House Judiciary Committee.

Hicks will become the first former Trump aide to testify in this whole period where everyone`s wondering what the Democrats are up to. Now moments ago, there was also this new contempt vote for Attorney General Bill Barr and Donald Trump`s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Plus the Republican war against the one Republican congressman who is now calling for Trump`s impeachment and a big push today to explain democratic socialism to American voters.

We have all of that in the show. I begin though with what is by any standard, breaking news. Long time and loyal Trump aide Hope Hicks announcing tonight she will testify a week from today before the house Judiciary Committee.

She`ll be the first woman Trump aide to appear before the committee that is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice. This interview will be behind closed doors. A transcript will be released to the public and while the White House does not appear to have explicitly tried to block her testimony, they did tell Hicks and other aides to defy subpoenas and other witnesses who have not of course showed for hearings.

That includes the star witness the one quoted more by more than anyone else, White House Counsel Don McGahn. So this appearance even if in private which is part of the thing they negotiate over is the Democrats say, a clear win tonight, a win for getting the facts and also politically they say a win for the strategy, they`ve been using to dial up pressure with these contempt votes, with these negotiations and with the looming threat of what Speaker Pelosi says is all options on the table.

All of this comes right after the House Oversight Committee voted for Bill Barr and Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents about why the Trump administration is trying to add a question on citizenship to the census.

Now that vote comes as Speaker Pelosi tries to rally her Democrats amidst what we`ve been reporting on here, what we`ve had and lively debates on THE BEAT about which is the well-known question of if Donald Trump is an existential threat, if he is a criminal, if he is as Speaker Pelosi said and as we observe was quite a reach.

Someone who belongs in prison, then why isn`t he someone that should be impeached soon. Pelosi telling Democrats in a private meeting this morning to focus on three things, legislate, investigate and litigate.

And today House Democrats are investigating. They`re holding their second hearing on the Mueller report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Of all the questions that Mueller helped resolve, he left many critical questions unanswered. Were there other forms of compromise like money laundering left out uninvestigated or for it to other officers and are there individuals still operating in the administration that leave America vulnerable. We are determined to find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff later saying he may subpoena the FBI director directly to get these answers. Now all of this is building on something that we have been reporting on here meticulously and getting some new information on, that`s the pressure to hear from Bob Mueller himself.

So here was Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler on THE BEAT, last night about when it could happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): We`re carrying 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: I would think it would be way before that.

MELBER: Way before that, by the end of June?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: To some people that sounded like maybe July. I`m joined by Democratic strategist, Aisha Moodie Mills; Maya Wiley, former counsel of New York city, a civil prosecutor at STNY and Daniella Gibbs Leger from the Center For American progress. Good to see all of you.

Daniella, you we`re in the city where it`s happening. Your view of the breakthrough with Hope Hicks. Does it matter that it`s in private? Do you think it`s a sign that the Democratic strategy is starting to bear fruit?

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Absolutely. I think it is - it`s really good for her personally that she agreed to do this. She probably look at the long game and realized that she didn`t want to face that a court battle or anything like that and yes, it`s in private but I`m sure they`ll release transcript.

So this is definitely I think the first crack in the dam that the Trump administration has been trying to withhold for the past several weeks.

MELBER: Yes and putting that context in it Maya, I want to remind folks of course we hear so much because there`s more than one fight going on about the so called stonewalling. Hicks is part of the White House effort to hold back these documents.

We can put this up on the screen, this NBC news reporting that White House directed her and Annie Donaldson to simply ignore or someone said defy these subpoenas.

Just walk us through in plain English what it means when you have someone now complying with some things while also still having that exactly privilege say.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO NYC MAYOR: Well, you know if you have an executive privilege. As we know executive privilege, very weak privilege relatively speaking qualified, she will be able to say anything she wants to, she no longer works for the White House.

She will choose all right to stick to whatever the White House has said, it is going to allow to be public. I think that the question here is, how much she will share about what topics because remember, in the Mueller report, she`s the one running to Donald Trump saying, hey, there`s going to be a story on these emails about Don Junior in that Trump Tower meeting and it looks really bad and he`s kind of going, don`t talk to me, don`t talk to me, don`t talk to me.

And kind of shutting everyone and then he`s saying, oh wait a minute like here`s what we`re going to write and say about it.

MELBER: Yes, and to your point she was also the one that their own spokesperson Mark Corallo, legal spokesperson who ultimately quit later told Mueller that she said well, if you read the Mueller report, they have all these extra tidbits, this isn`t a crime by the way, it`s just incredibly stupid.

She said this stuff will never come out and you`re reading about that in the Mueller report.

WILEY: Right and so she`s not going to be able to say, oh, I won`t speak to what`s in the Mueller report that I told Mueller that is now public.

MELBER: Right.

WILEY: That everyone has seen in the Mueller report but I think that one of her wins here is that she is not testifying in public and what I mean by win there, is it is good that we will have a transcript.

But for the American people there is an issue about credibility and the way you assess that is by seeing the person.

MELBER: Right and so you`re saying that`s unfortunate.

WILEY: That`s unfortunate.

MELBER: Yes, , the larger backdrop as I mentioned is who`s winning this fight and sometimes in Washington you don`t know right away. Speaker Pelosi has her hands full and the larger question is whether this is enough meaning if Democrats can argue, they`re getting the docs, they may get Mueller himself, they get Hope Hicks.

And they say, now we do work with that or is that itself build more urgent calls for impeachment. Now one of the interesting things about speaking to these politicians directly is you can press them on questions. I can`t make them say anything but I can ask them questions.

I twice gave Jerry Nadler, the chance to address these reports in Politico and else, where that he`s been privately lobbying Pelosi for impeachment. Here`s what we heard last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: 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 on the table. They are on the table and when we get more information, as this process continues, we`ll have to make decisions down the road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Where do you see all this playing out with the push for impeachment?

AISHA MOODIE MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, here`s the thing. I feel like there`s a lot of process that`s happening right now. There`s so much and so much process that Pelosi is perhaps not hiding behind because as you mentioned in the beginning, it is strategic.

The Democrats have a plan. They are trying to investigate and legislate and you know whatever they`re trying to do with the law but I don`t know that that is resonating in America in a political context so it may feel great that we`re getting Hope Hicks to go on the record or whatever it might be.

But the average voter who`s thinking about 2020, who`s thinking about you know even the primaries, with regard to Democrats isn`t necessarily seeing all the nuances so what I`m wondering is through all this backdrop and process if the Democrats are going to - Pelosi`s team is going to be able to come out and message a little stronger about the political implications of this.

Because it does feel too many who want impeachment like there`s a lot of hiding behind process as opposed to really playing political hardball and actually making dings with Trump that he can`t then turn around and say, oh, ha ha ha, look at me and spin it and then play the victim where he still looks like he`s winning.

So I don`t really know that--

MELBER: You know we got to do to, we got to do, well, you`re hitting the Washington insiders who might agree with you on some progressive values and policy but you`re hitting them on the strategy. Daniella, Washington insider on my screen.

No shade but you are a little bit. You know a lot of important people, yes and you work with a lot of them and so what`s your response to what Aisha lays out which is the conversation that has been happening both in and out of the Congress and in a lot of debates across America.

She`s saying, well, look, what does it get you if it doesn`t speak to what voters especially the Democratic voters really, really expect here.

LEGER: So I agree with you Aisha for the most part. I think that what voters want to see some action and I think it`s great for us insiders to see that Hope Hicks is coming to testify and to hear that Mueller will eventually testified.

But I think once they actually start doing it, once you see Mueller up there, I think that`s when you know the public opinion will start to change and Democratic voters will be like, okay, now we`re getting to the meat of things.

So I think right now, yes, it is a little bit about process but once these people actually start coming in, I think you`ll see a change.

WILEY: Well, it`s only about process because the Trump administration has been obstructing Congress and so it has required a process and we should remember that and I do think that has a bearing particularly for independent voters and those who aren`t so sure about what to believe here because even if they`re not sure about impeachment, obviously the Democratic base seems very strongly behind impeachment, they do - they are concerned about whether Congress is doing its job and whether the White House is preventing Congress from doing its job.

And I think if the Democrats do this better, part of what they`re doing is showing, we`re going to fight like hell to do our job and that that`s part of what Democratic base wants to see and I think part of what`s so important about these investigations are and I think Nancy plus exactly right about investigate.

That is part of the impeachment process quite frankly. You have to develop evidence, you have to show the American public as well as all of your members of Congress and the Senate. If I were her, I`d be putting a lot more attention on the Senate about what they`re not doing to understand what laws Congress should be considering and how we should be fixing our problems.

MILLS: And we actually want to see it. I mean, if we can do this in a way that - that they can do this in a way that it is actually out there for all to see where everybody`s coming in, sitting in front of Congress, being asked the hard questions, testifying and then all of those videotapes go viral, I think that that`s how they start to win the political and the PR game on this.

Because it does matter that this plays out in a way that the public can certainly trust the process and believe that the Democrats are doing all they can but also be able to bear witness to it and I don`t know that we`re feeling that so much yet that we can actually see all this you know trial if he will play out in a way that you can tell who`s lying and you can tell who`s evading and you can tell who`s asked and was not answering questions.

So I`m hopeful that they get to a point where they literally can bring those folks out. Now look, this is going to take some time though so we also are looking at like a window of time right now where we`ve got about 15 months and how much of this can actually get done, given that Trump is stalling so much and telling his people not to participate, leading up to before if you will, the election that`s going to come next November.

MELBER: And Aisha, you just said something that goes to the larger fight which is what makes you a strategist, you`re talking about what goes viral, you`re talking about what people are going to learn about, right?

And that`s something that this President understands. The Hicks testimony as Maya mentioned is private, McGahn is holding back and Mueller wanted to be in private and so there is this other tension which is not a black and white thing.

It`s not like all private testimony is wrong, there`s certainly a bunch of Intel and other stuff that should be private so it`s not like a white but there`s this debate about what we`re really going to learn.

We`re not even done with the first segment a show and I will say in my personal opinion, this was quite a power panel. Aisha Moodie Mills, Maya Wiley and Daniella Gibbs Leger, thanks to each of you.

LEGER: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it. Now I turned directly to one of our other favorite guest, Barbara Res, a long time Trump organization executive and author of `All Alone On The 68th Floor.` Take a listen to Donald Trump Junior today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP`S SON: The reality is there was nothing to change. If there needed to be clarification because Michael Cohen who let`s not forget is serving time right now for lying to these very investigative bodies, I`m happy to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, are you worried about perjury?

TRUMP JUNIOR: Not at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Donald Trump Junior testifying. He is of course the son and the Trump org executive which is where you worked. Hope Hicks is former trouble executive also involved in the campaign in the White House, now having left.

How does a man you know and worked with Donald Trump react to seeing these people go in and testify?

BARBARA RES, FORMER TRUMP EXECUTIVE: You know, certainly he can virtually guarantee in is mind at least what his son is going to say. I mean, you know, they probably rehearsed that many times as they did what he said about the Trump tower meeting.

And with Hope Hicks, I`m curious, she left two days after she said, she was telling white lies for Donald. And so is there any connection between her leaving and that that remark, I don`t know.

MELBER: We have that - we have the quote. I`ll just say, she insisted in court she had not lied about matters material, very lawyerly word, material investigations into Russian interference but she admitted sometimes telling white lies for Trump.

RES: Yes, well, and that was it probably bothered him tremendously. I mean, you know, somebody like Hope who was a kid and you know who he imagined could sort of control 100% saying something like that.

MELBER: Well Barbara, in his mind what`s the point of lying if you`re going to admit it.

RES: Well, absolutely. No question but with Don Junior, I stay firm, there is no possible way that that that he held that meeting, that he went to that meeting, that he even arranged for that without his father knowing.

It`s just impossible.

MELBER: And so when he looks out, he obviously, when you dealt with him, you guys had litigation around, right?

RES: Yes.

MELBER: Was he ever not being sued?

RES: You know, mostly, he was suing mostly.

MELBER: He was doing a lot of suing.

RES: Yes.

MELBER: Well, you know, sue or be sued, right? Isn`t that old expression? No, it`s not a real expression or not one that I know.

RES: His expression was I got to be the plaintiff, the plaintiff always wins. You know, so if there was a hint that there might be a potential lawsuit, if he had really sued someone or someone`s going to come in, he`ll sue them first.

MELBER: I would observe the plaintiff does not always win. In the Trump University litigation, he was the defendant and he lost $50 million. But that`s a story for another day.

RES: That`s right.

MELBER: I want to talk to you about how he feels watching the strategy at least have a crack, the best thing you can say about the Mueller report is that volume one obviously cleared up some of the confusion around the potential conspiracy and would seem to be on balance, good news for Donald Trump.

Volume 2 had a lot of bad news and Bill Barr and others misled about that but he didn`t look at those things very factually, right?

I want to play for you for your analysis, how loyalty is often the prison that he looks at with witnesses etcetera, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m so loyal to people, maybe I`m loyal to a fault but I`m so loyal to people that when somebody`s slightly disloyal to me, I look upon it as a great act of horror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Well, that`s you know, he`s so loyal to people is the most nonsensical thing. Well, he says so many nonsensical things but no, he`s not loyal. He`s loyal when he needs you. As far as him hating people not being in his perception, whatever that is, loyal to him, oh, it`s an outrage to him, absolute outrage.

MELBER: The last thing I want to ask, it`s been on my mind and I love you know, part of the job, I get to talk to people like you who have special insights. How does Donald Trump deal with someone who`s new to his circle and excites him or does what he thinks other people are failing at?

I mean, he`s famously hard on his team, we`ve seen that because the New York Times had a big piece this week about how Bill Barr has become perhaps a Dick Cheney of this administration. Is doing for trouble all the things other people said that he "they couldn`t do."

What does Donald Trump in your view do with a new a new figure like Barr, does he trust him completely or how does he do it?

RES: Oh, I don`t know that he trusts him so much. I think he feels that he`s got you know, the person that`s going to roam with his banner and he gets all excited, he builds that person up. I remember going through this for every new person that came.

They were the number one, they were the best guy.

MELBER: So he often likes the new person?

RES: Oh absolutely.

MELBER: And then what happens?

RES: And then you know, it depends on how the new person holds up over time. I mean, you know, there`s going to be another new person and there will be a mistake, one way or another.

MELBER: Do you think from what you`ve seen in public that Bill Barr understands Donald Trump?

RES: No.

MELBER: No?

RES: I don`t think very many people understand him.

MELBER: Because they`re cut from such a different cloth.

RES: Not only that, I mean you know, you have to observe him over time. Then you look at what he`s doing now but you got to think in terms of what he did and I wanted to know that he believes his lies for instance, you got to know him, you know watch him, observe him.

And - and you know, I can`t tell you.

MELBER: That he believes his lies.

RES: Yes, many of his--

MELBER: Which is as you know, that`s the Costanza defense.

RES: Is that? Right.

MELBER: Remember Seinfeld?

RES: I wasn`t a fan, I have to admit it.

MELBER: I don`t want to profile you but I would have thought you of all people might be a fan of Seinfeld in New York in a diner.

RES: No Soup for You, that`s my favorite.

MELBER: `No soup for you.` Look, we don`t have time to get it all of it but George Costanza echoed a point you just raised about Donald Trump which is what do you what do you actually think of a person`s mind set if they believe, truly believe their own lies.

RES: Yes, they`re not lying then, they think, they`re not lying. I mean, it`s a curious thing and it`s not every single thing but I look at it and I say, does he believe that one or is that does he know that`s purely BS.

And you know I`m not sure but I have a feeling for it.

MELBER: Yes, well, Bob Marley used to say, experience teaches wisdom. I think you have both. I love it when you come on the show, Barbara.

RES: Thank you so much.

MELBER: Great to see you, thank you so much. We have a lot more, the inside story of this contempt vote against Wilbur Ross. It involves allegations of racial profiling and a dead man`s laptop, I`m not kidding, later.

Trump is trying to trying to public punish the one Republican for impeachment and then Senator Sanders explaining what Democratic socialism means and why it might be key to him winning the nomination and before we go tonight, an update on a story we brought you last night that has been talked about across the land.

Jon Stewart`s emotion, his passion actually getting results today in Congress, we have that story later in the hour. I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Another major story tonight. House Democrats absolutely polarizing the Trump administration over damning evidence about trying to rig the census.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I want to know about the racism and the very disturbing history that we`re seeing here. Stonewalling, we`re getting obstruction, we`re getting a lack of answers because of the Secretary and because of the Attorney General`s refusal to cooperate with a co-equal branch of government, we have no choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: House Oversight Committee willing to take on the Trump official that AOC was discussing there. Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross held in contempt. And this battle is all about Ross hiding evidence that might show whether Republicans changed the 2020 census to discriminate and help their own party, the GOP.

This is the first time Democrats have ever held a contempt vote for Ross who dodged questions about why the citizenship question was added in the first place and whether it could be an illegal plot to scare undocumented immigrants from ever being counted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Why are we violating the law to include any question whatsoever in the 2020 census.

SECRETARY WILBUR ROSS: I don`t believe she--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you please do answer the question.

ROSS: I don`t have any need to respond to her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: No need to respond. Now this is a high stakes fight because the census results can actually tip who controls Congress for years and all of this as you may or may not remember, it does come against a wider backdrop of the case that is pending right now before the Supreme Court, which could also strike down this Trump administration plan.

The key issue is whether those justices think the census was changed fairly or whether these challenges can prove, it was some sort of Republican plot. Now long after the evidence was supposed to be in, we`ve just learned and this is for real about new evidence that undercuts Trump.

And it`s from a Republican operative who died but left some bread crumbs on his laptop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: What is the evidence, it`s from a dead man`s hard drive believe or not and it shows that the idea for the question and the early draft of the Department of Justice`s letter was crafted by Republican operative who is widely considered to be the mastermind at gerrymandering these days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So the very man who pushed the Trump camp, the Trump administration I should say for this change in the census who is this gerrymandering mastermind? Well, he basically gave away the game in files that he presumably thought would never be public. You can tell he thought they were secret because if you want to rig the census to help say Republicans, well you don`t just confess that.

But in these now public files from his computer we see this pursuit of a policy that was supposed to be, "this advantage to the Democrats and advantageous to the Republicans." Now that is a partisan motive. Not good. Mr. Ross who is facing as I mentioned, his contempt vote today, well he claims a different motive.

That they wanted to change the census for a simple goal, one that he says is what the Trump administration is all about, helping protect black and brown people`s rights to vote under the Voting Rights Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSS: DOJ thought census block level citizenship data for use in Voting Rights Act enforcement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Voting Rights Act enforcement. You don`t need to be a political or historical scholar remember the Republicans actually cheered the Supreme Court limiting the voting Rights Act and I say this just observing Wilbur Ross is not known as a champion of the Voting Rights Act.

Now the Republicans are saying take Ross at his word. This change is about defending civil rights and the administration they say should have to turn over any more evidence to support his claim and they feel so strongly about that, they`re resisting all this in the face of tonight`s contempt vote.

This is important. Democrats have the counter argument. They say Ross`s civil rights defense made no sense on its face and looks even worse when he insists on hiding documents about this issue. They say if he`s telling the truth, the document should support him and they say it looks worse still when you add in the incriminating evidence from the dead guy`s computer.

That`s an important story you need to know about when we come back in 30 seconds, the Republican who supports Trump`s impeachment on why he`s making new ways right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: There are about 62 lawmakers when you count supporting impeachment of Donald Trump. And they`re all Democrats except for one. And now that one Congressman Justin Amash is facing the wrath of his own party. He formally resigned from the Conservative Freedom Caucus which he helped cofound and now Donald Trump reportedly tells aides, he wants to back a primary challenge for Amash as revenge.

This is sort of what happens I guess if you challenge Donald Trump, you become a pariah in your own party. The top Republican in the House Kevin McCarthy scoffing at the mention of this new Republican critic of Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your reaction to the news that Justin Amash is leaving the freedom caucus and should he also leave the GOP caucus?

Justin Amash, I guess decided to leave the Freedom Caucus. Justin Amash can determine his own future. But I think in a philosophical basis, he`s probably in a different place in the majority of all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Philosophy that is the one place that has not come up as a difference at least in voting. Take a look at Amash getting the perfect scores from various conservative groups, Club For Growth, National Right To Life. Amash is a traditional libertarian conservative in the sense that he overlaps with Republicans on a host of policy issues and we`re he`s broken is as far as we can tell not about philosophy of government but on something apparently unforgivable today`s Republican leadership in Congress, confronting Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): I think it`s really important that we do our job as a Congress, that we not allow misconduct to go undeterred, that we not just say someone can violate the public trust and that there are no consequences to it.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The applause you hear there is in Amash`s district which again is reasonably conservative and then tonight Amash breaking with Republicans voting to hold to count Trump cabin officials in contempt so that they are forced to cooperate with Congress.

I`m joined now by Washington Post columnist, E. J. Dionne and Editor at large for the libertarian `Reason` Magazine, Matt Welch. Matt, is there an argument that he is being conservative and Republicans are against that.

MATT WELCH, EDITOR AT LARGE, REASON MAGAZINE: Sure, I mean there`s the argument that he was a conservative back when Republicans were in the opposition to a President. Freedom caucus was founded in large part or in some parts as being a check on Barack Obama`s executive privilege, and his executive overreaching authority and that was something that Republicans cared about when they didn`t have the White House.  They stopped caring about that largely including in the freedom caucus once they had a Republican in the White House.

He being more philosophically tethered than most people being more principled than most people in Congress didn`t change just because the personnel changed and so always that`s out of favor in Washington.  People tend to be pretty opportunistic when it comes to their principles.

MELBER:  And E.J., for all the people saying where are the Republicans who will stand up, shouldn`t they be backing or praising this Republican who`s standing up and apparently taking a lot of heat for it?

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, they should.  And the problem is that for -- if Justin Amash faces a primary, a lot of the Republicans who would back him up are no longer Republicans.  If you look at what`s happened to the Republican Party even before Trump but especially under Trump, they`ve become a much older party, much more somewhat more male party in a much wider party than -- certainly than they were thirty years ago but even to some degree since they were up ten years ago.

And that`s why people like Mark Sanford who was also something of a real libertarian, the way Matt is, the way Justin Amash is, why he lost that Republican primary.  But it`s notable that he lost the primary and then the seat went Democratic.

And I think one of the facts about the 2018 election that`s so important, there`s a lot of people who used to be willing to vote for or moderate Republicans or libertarian Republicans and stop voting Republican on your Trump and that`s why Republicans think they can win that seat.

MELBER:  It`s a chicken or the egg there and that if they`re gone then that`s not part of the coalition anymore.  E.J., what else do we learn from Donald Trump`s anger here because the White House has tried to argue he welcomes impeachment.  He seems to be undercutting that spin when he fixates obsesses and attacks the, one Republican backing impeachment.

DIONNE:  Right.  Well, the post had a really good story -- the Washington Post had a good story today where there`s there seem to be division and ambivalence inside the administration that there was some Trump folks who say impeachment will rile up the base.  They`ll look really political.

But on the other side, you know, impeachment is not -- being impeached is not a good look for a president.

MELBER:  Well, I`m asking specifically whether Donald Trump just exposed himself because he`s the president, they`re claiming he welcomes it.  If he welcomed it, he`d say water`s warm, bring me a few more Amashes.  I`d love to have this fight.

DIONNE:  Ari, I can`t believe you`re expecting any philosophical consistency from Donald Trump.  Yes, I mean, he of course, he doesn`t -- he doesn`t like anybody who`s against him on anything.  And Justin Amash spoke out really strongly and because he`s a Republican, it`s probably a more threat.  He`s a more threatening voice than anybody else.

MELBER:  Yes, exactly.  He`s got that credibility even if they`re trying to undercut it.  Matt, I wonder why now beyond Trump and talk about the freedom caucus.  At this point, given that you`re credible you know, analysts here of all these issues, is this a real thing anymore or does this become really looking like an adjunct of the Republican Party and not standing for independent values.

Because what I mean is they`re welcome to have their views.  But if their views are wholly and completely in line with the GOP, then they don`t really need a caucus do they?

WELCH:  I mean, they issued a statement condemning Justin Amash after he came out with his pro-impeachment talk and happened in the same week that basically lawmakers were conspiring with one another to eliminate the debt ceiling, just wave it away.  That`s what they used to care about is the debt ceiling, and spending and surveillance.

MELBER:  So are they --

WELCH:  No.  They are an attack dog element for Donald Trump.  Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, in particular, have been running interference for him.  And this is a huge shift from March and April of 2017 when the freedom caucus was rightly seen as the biggest obstacle in Trump`s path to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

MELBER:  So you --

WELCH:  He was calling out Mark Meadows and Justin Amash by name back then and it worked.  He brought the freedom caucus to heel.  The freedom caucus as an ideological philosophically based thing does not exist.  It is an attack dog for Donald Trump.  He domesticated that block.

MELBER:  Well, it`s fascinating to hear you say that.  You have the credibility to say it.  And it goes to how we understand these things.  Since the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus where Obama era cutouts as an excuse to be partisan and nothing more if that`s what they ultimately are exposed for, that`s important.  And credit to Mr. Amash if he is trying to fight for something different than that.

Matt and E.J., thank you so much.  Up ahead, there`s an important --

DIONNE:  Good to be with you.

MELBER:  Good to have you.  An important story you may not have heard about.  What`s Congress doing to actually check Donald Trump`s war powers, speaking of conservative principles.  We`re going to get into that with people actually driving it.  And later you don`t want to miss Jon Stewart`s emotional 9/11 speech because it`s gotten real results already today.  We have that story.  And Senator Sanders with a fiery defense of Democratic socialism.  All that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  Well, President Trump tries to make the Democratic race all about him and maybe a little bit of Biden.  There are candidates out in the field pursuing a lot of other topics, jobs, criminal justice, taking on Wall Street.  That`s something Bernie Sanders raised in a major address today explaining Democratic Socialism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  They may hate Democratic Socialism because it benefits working people, but they absolutely love corporate socialism that enriches Trump and other billionaire`s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  One reason candidates give speeches like this early in the race is to try to lay out a marker.  As we come on here tonight, I can tell you Sanders is already drawing some desire to headlines for this speech.  Now, as for what he said, he argued that this is all about specifics of his economic vision.  Rights to a living wage, health care, and other benefits that Democrat FDR backed but didn`t get Congress to ever enact.

In fact, Sanders name checks the New Deal president as well as MLK today, clearly attempts to present these values in some sort of broader idea of a liberal mainstream.  And history offers some interesting lessons there.  There are certainly reformers who were widely reviled in their day then later celebrated.  Civil rights leaders and labor leaders come to mind.

And there`s an echo here of that theme because Sanders quotes one of FDR`s most famous lines from his last campaign speech this was just days before the 36 election during the Depression with controversies over the New Deal.  And FDR noted that the elites and bankers didn`t just oppose him, they hated him and he was proud of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today.  They are unanimous is their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Today Bernie Sanders made a point of quoting the very same line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS:  For in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today.  They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  I`m joined by Professor Brittney Cooper, author of the book Eloquent Rage.  Thanks for being here.

BRITTNEY COOPER, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY:  I`m glad to be here.

MELBER:  What does it mean to have a top-tier Democratic candidate explaining Democratic Socialism today?

COOPER:  Look, this was a huge and important speech and I think really central to where we`re trying to move on the Democratic Left.  And so essentially Bernie Sanders says we`re not going to cede conceptual territory to the right.  We`re not going to allow them to define the terms.  We`re not going to allow them to tell the American people what socialism is.  We`re going to take that back.

And that moment where he says I welcome your hate is actually a really smart rhetorical move and it`s from the Trump playbook.  Trump feeds on rhetorical hate from the American populace.  And so Bernie Sanders is essentially matching him one-for-one in saying I`ll take the hate that the right gives and I`ll use it to power this campaign.  I think that`s a really smart, sophisticated campaigning.

MELBER:  You make an interesting point about the echo of the Trump rhetorical style for very different goals.

COOPER:  Yes.

MELBER:  When Trump was accused of nationalism, he sort of shrugged off and said, well, maybe nationalism is a good thing.

COOPER:  That`s right.

MELBER:  And Democratic Socialism is distinct as we point out from traditional socialism and communism, but what Sanders is pushing back against is what other Democrats are currently obviously not as comfortable with.  Take a look at the way these labels are already cropping up in the debate.

COOPER:  Absolutely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`m a capitalist.  Come on, I believe in markets.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I support capitalism.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am not a socialist.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Well, you`ve got people in the party who are.

BOOKER:  I am a Democrat.  I believe in fundamental Democratic principles.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  What do you think of the other Democratic candidates veering into Socialism, Bernie is obviously trying to say wait, no, we`re talking about Democratic Socialism FDR type stuff?

COOPER:  That`s right.  Look, I actually think that Bernie Sanders is right on this point.  Part of what he is arguing is that we need a real robust left.  We have to have a critique of economics.  Now look, I think that there`s actually an identity politics piece to this because you notice that the female candidates, the candidates of color are -- can`t sort of claim socialism.

So you look at Elizabeth Warren on policy, much of what she`s doing is in line with the sort of radical left move of Bernie Sanders but she can`t claim socialism and be taken seriously as a woman.  I don`t believe that women can run that far to the left and win.  But this is also why Bernie Sanders is so important.

We`re still nearly 18 months out from the Democratic primary -- I mean from the election.  And so we need a robust left.  We need a debate.  And Bernie Sanders set a new conceptual territory and said economic rights are human rights.  These are very reasonable sorts of concerns that the Democratic Left should be debating.

And him resetting that territory actually matters whether you support Sanders or not because he is sort of infusing a robust conceptual ground into the debate.

MELBER:  And just briefly because we have a bunch of other breaking news we`re going to turn to.  What does it mean when Democrats say instead of worrying about being popular, they try to strike this mode of saying actually, I welcome your hatred.  Bankers shouldn`t like me.  That`s not what we always hear.

COOPER:  Look, they`re saying bring it.  They`re saying we`re ready for the fight.  And as I keep saying, Democrats got to show up and fight and stop acting like the moral -- they got I could stop conceding the moral high ground to Republicans and say look, 48 percent of Millennials actually support socialism and socialists leaning candidates.  And so they`re playing to the Democratic base in this moment.  It`s a good move.

MELBER:  It`s interesting hearing you say that.  Thank you for this conversation, Brittney.  Still to come, this big news I mentioned after Jon Stewart got emotional and confronted Congress over 911.  But this breaking news I just mentioned, Donald Trump says he will take information from foreign powers if he needs in this 2020 race.  All that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  Breaking news right now.  President Donald Trump just asked by a reporter if he would take information from foreign powers on his opponents in the 2020 race.  Here`s his new answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS:  The campaign this time around foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:   I think maybe you did both.  I think you might want to listen.  I don`t -- there`s nothing wrong with listening.  If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent.  Oh I think I`d want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP:  It`s not an interference.  They have information.  I think I`d take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Quite the story.  I`m joined right now by phone on this breaking story by former Federal Prosecutor John Flannery who`s assessed many issues relating to Trump investigations and professor Brittney Cooper back with me.  John, your reaction to the President`s assertion here breaking this hour.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  If there was any question of his intent before, he confers it every day.  It`s so amazing that out in the open he`s telling us he would take information from a foreign government which we could suspect tried to influence us.  And if the information is passed from one country to the other to sanitize its acceptance, say Norway as he chose, instead of what, Russia, instead of Venezuela?

What kind of practice is this when past presidential candidates and other candidates have been very careful not to take such information, not to rely on it, and not to move.  And so I think that that`s the -- that`s the real problem here.  And it is astonishing to me that we hear these kinds of things from the White House and we can`t even get ourselves to an impeachment resolution to investigate it formally.

MELBER:  Right.  And you`re speaking -- you`re speaking to the wider context of this as you often do.  John, stay with me.

FLANNERY:  Yes, sir.

MELBER:  Brittney, John points out that this comes against the backdrop of the open investigations of these contempt votes of Hope Hicks agreeing tonight to testify but others fighting it.  And this boils down to Donald Trump and his aides Rudy Giuliani has been big on this basically saying yes, I`d do it again.

COOPER:  Absolutely.  This is a president who has no integrity and frankly has a pretty -- a pretty terrible knowledge of American civics.  And so he doesn`t think that there`s any problem with the ways in which he is acting in the ways in which interference from foreign powers is fundamentally an interference with the American rule of law and with Democratic institutions.

The issue though is that he keeps on saying this to the American people like it`s reasonable and so there`s a redefining of American norms such that people actually think that it`s fine to just accept information from foreign governments.

That`s the thing that we really need to be focused on is how do we make the compelling case that the American government needs to do something to put this president in check when he has half of the populace believing that it`s OK to just accept information all willy-nilly from foreign governments.

MELBER:  And John, I`m getting here -- this is breaking as I say in a very interesting interview with ABC News George Stephanopoulos that has not even aired fully yet on television.  But John, building on what Brittney was just saying, I have new parts of the transcript that I want to read to you.  We don`t yet have the full tape but there`s another serious claim in here and I`m reading.

Stephanopoulos makes a very important historical point and says, when Al Gore received a stolen briefing book and a different campaign, presidential, he called the FBI.  And the president says in this new interview.  "Well that`s a different stolen briefing book.  This is somebody that said we have information on your opponent.  Let me call the FBI.  Give me a break.  Life doesn`t work that way."

And Stephanopoulos presses, John, and says -- this is breaking news.  Stephanopoulos asking the president just now says, well, the FBI director says that`s what you have to do and the president according to ABC News responds "The FBI director is wrong, John.

FLANNERY:  Well, this is part of the monarchical presidency that we`ve been dealing with, the tendency toward despotism, toward whatever I say is the law no matter what the law is.  This is a man, the immoral man without standards by law, by Constitution, by tradition, by common sense, by decorum, and that`s what we`re up against.

The nation has this constitutional crisis because we have a man in the White House who has no idea what this nation is about or stands for.

MELBER:  I think we`re going to play this sound.  Again, for folks just joining us 6:53 p.m. on the East Coast and it`s one of those -- one of those days in the news the president obviously deciding to lean into controversy in a controversial interview with ABC News George Stephanopoulos.

As I mentioned to viewers, this hasn`t even aired in full.  We`re getting pieces of it.  And I want to play this very significant part that ABC News has released.  Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS:  The campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on upon it should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP:  I think maybe you do both.  I think you might want to listen.  I don`t -- there`s nothing wrong with listening.  If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent.  Oh, I think I`d want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Do you want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP:  It`s not an interference.  They have information.  I think I`d take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  It`s a striking assertion from a president whose investigations still facing for these very issues, whose son Don Junior -- Donald Trump Jr. was in the Congress today trying to explain away some of that very behavior that Donald Trump just spoke to.  And I`m joined by phone by John Flannery as mentioned and Maya Wiley an attorney who knows these issues well and a former civil prosecutor.

And before I go to you, Maya, take a listen to another part that we`re now airing for the first time.  This part has not aired yet but it`s a fuller piece of this brand-new interview.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that e-mail?

TRUMP:  OK, let`s put yourself in a position.  You`re a congressman.  Somebody comes up and says hey I have information on your opponent.  You call the FBI?

STEPHANOPOULOS:  If it`s coming from the Russia, you do.

TRUMP:  I don`t think -- I tell you what.  I`ve seen a lot of things over in my life.  I don`t think in my whole life I`ve ever called the FBI.  In my whole life, I don`t -- you don`t call the FBI.  You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever --

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Al Gore got a stolen briefing book.  He called the FBI.

TRUMP:  Well, that`s different, a stolen briefing book.  This isn`t a stolen -- this is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Oh, let me call the FBI.  Give me a break.  Life doesn`t work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  The FBI Director says that`s what should happen.

TRUMP:  The FBI Director is wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  The FBI Director is wrong.  Maya Wiley, there`s been much talk in these investigations about the President`s authorities and whether they were abused as described at the volume two of the Mueller report.  Is it his call in your view to overrule the FBI`s statement of current law regarding that obligation?

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  He`s not qualified to override the FBI statement of law.  He`s not an attorney.  But I think more importantly -- first of all, Ari, I can`t leave you alone for a minute can I?

MELBER:  No, apparently.  News.

WILEY:  Apparently not.  I think what`s so astounding here is it`s both that he as someone who does not have a legal background, as someone who lacks foreign policy and counterintelligence experience, is once again refusing to listen to his experts in government is one thing and it`s bad.

But remember that what he`s essentially saying is it`s a foreign government like Russia or China that we actually have beef with, we have concerns about, we have national security concerns about which this president has said regularly.

If they offer me as a candidate for a -- for a -- in a U.S. Presidential Election information on opponent.  I`m not even going to stop and consider what their motives are.  I am not going to stop and consider whether or not there is a national security concern.  And I am not going to consider contacting counterintelligence official of the United States government.

MELBER:  Right.  And Maya -- and Maya, the construction here sounds like reporting in to a separate entity of the FBI which for any normal, independent candidate, it would be.  What does it tell you that the sitting president who controls the executive branch is speaking to that level of distrust?

I mean, I would think that any jump-ball that could go in the president`s favor within, law within reason, the FBI would be happy to keep confidential and just give some input on.  And yet he seems to show a blatant distrust of his own FBI director here.

WILEY:  Well, and he`s -- this is -- this is a pattern.  I mean, he undermines the morale of the FBI, he`s asked his attorney general to open and investigation into the FBI.  He`s acted as if the FBI is less trustworthy than Putin himself.  And that should be a deep concern to most Americans.

Let`s also remember that what he is saying in a statement is I will put my self-interest ahead of the country`s.

MELBER:  Right.  And above the legal obligations as defined by the sitting FBI director on record.  I`m thrilled to add it`s a breaking story but a former ambassador in the Obama administration to Russia, Michael McFaul joins us.  Your reaction, sir.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA:  Just frustration, disappointment.  Again, he obviously does not understand how foreign governments use this information to try to disrupt what happens here internally.

I mean, just -- let`s just go through these.  Number one, it`s wrong in my view.  Whether it`s legal or not is -- we can talk about it.  It is wrong to obtain and seek information from a foreign government to help you win an election here in America.

Number two, he is leaving out the fact that he doesn`t understand the motivations of the countries.  What if the information is incorrect, President Trump?  Oh, Mr. President Trump, haven`t you have that problem with the Steele Dossier?  Haven`t you guys been talking about that maybe they were fed disinformation about you during that time, and now you want to say freely, you want to take that information?

It`s just -- it`s just wrong and I think it`s dangerous.  And he`s not thinking about the second and third order of consequences of what he just said.

MELBER:  It`s incredibly striking.  6:59 p.m. on the East Coast as we wrap up this edition of THE BEAT with breaking news, and reading the president`s quote in full.  "I think maybe you do both when offered foreign help.  You might want to listen, there is nothing wrong with listening.  If somebody called from a country say Norway, we have information on your opponent, I`d want to hear it," said the sitting president against the backdrop of the investigation into the potentially improper use of foreign information by his own campaign that remains a hot issue in the Congress.

Quite a story.  My special thanks to the folk who jumped on the phone and stuck around with us.  John Flannery, Maya Wiley, the Ambassador, and Brittney Cooper.  Thanks to each of you.  You have been watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber here on MSNBC.  I`ll see you again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.  But don`t go anywhere because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews and a lot of breaking news is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump`s Perry Mason moment.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END