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Trump's top border official out. TRANSCRIPT: 6/25/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Howard Dean, Adriano Espaillat, John Sandweg, Rob Reiner, CarlCameron

GOV. HOWARD DEAN (D-VT): These things are not just about bashing Trump. We have to have a message that talks about health care, economic and equality education. Not just Trump.


DEAN: Trump will remind us why we don`t like him every day. We need not pile on, or we`ll lose.

TODD: Governor Howard Dean, always a pleasure to talk with you.

DEAN: Thanks, Chuck.

TODD: Thanks for coming on and sharing your views and your wisdom with the rest of the field. That`s all we have for the night. We`ll be back tomorrow with more Meet the Press Daily. Beat with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, ANCHOR MSNBC: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you so much. We have a lot to get to tonight. And we`re on the eve of this first Democratic debate. And one of the issues is obviously a rolling crisis at the border. One of Trump`s top border officials now is out saying he`ll step down today amid this furor over the treatment of, among other people, the children in detention.

Also today, Democrats moving much closer, publicly saying they have a road to subpoenaing Bob Mueller. Rob Reiner is here on where he and De Niro fit into all that later in the hour. And - this is interesting - a former Fox News reporter blasting his old network and Trump. He`s here live tonight as well.

But we begin with this top story, the ongoing chaos and crisis at the border. Donald Trump`s Acting Border Protection Commissioner says he`s leaving his post. This comes as the outcry builds over these conditions that detained migrant children are facing, including at one specific facility in Texas where there was reportedly no access to showers, toothbrushes and even basic food.

Today, over 100 children who had been removed from that center were then returned there. "New York Times" reporting tonight "no additional resources had been provided to the children who were sent back." Today Donald Trump responded to reports of these conditions by name-checking his predecessor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you personally concerned about the conditions of these border facilities--?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I am. I`m very concerned. And they`re much better than they were under President Obama by far.


MELBER: That`s simply not what we`re hearing from reporters on the ground or experts. In fact, in a moment, I will get reaction to all of that from the person who literally ran ICE under the Obama administration. So we can talk to people who know things about these claims.

But I want to give you a little more context before we get there. This fight is also exploding in Congress. There are protests outside of lawmakers` offices all day today. Later tonight, the House moving towards a vote on a bill that would address the conditions for some of these children. Immigration attorneys who visited that same Texas facility describe it as "appalling."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of the children who I met with haven`t had any opportunity to bathe or shower since crossing the border.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the things that we hear a lot is just about the stench.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diseases are spreading. There`s also a lice infestation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ll talk about how hungry they are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are the most appalling conditions I have seen in my 12 years of representing children and families who are detained.


MELBER: That`s an eye witness account. I`m joined now by New York Times Columnist Michelle Goldberg who was just on the campaign trail in South Carolina; Jason Johnson, Politics Editor for The Root, and Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York and a member of the Hispanic caucus.

Good evening to each of you.


REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D-NY): Good evening, Ari.


MELBER: Congressman, on the news, your view of Donald Trump`s claims and what you`re seeing in your own House. Is there going to be a successful vote tonight?

ESPAILLAT: I think we will have a successful vote. This crisis has a label, and the label says "Made by Trump." We can no longer wait around and not bring immediate help to the children there. While not perfect, this supplemental bill will get the resources necessary to help the children out at the border.

Many figures are being thrown around, but the only number that really matters to me and many of us is the number seven. That`s the number of children that have died at the border. And we must not allow one more child to die at the border.

MELBER: Michelle, I want to get your views of where we are. It is Donald Trump`s panic button to hit Obama. He does a lot of things, as we`ve reported, where he wants to draw the contrast -- Obama made the wrong deal, so he unmade it. But when he`s really in trouble and he knows it - on this issue that was supposed to be his strength, he seems to say, wait, anything you don`t like, it was the other guy.

GOLDBERG: Right. And in this case, it`s just blatantly false. I mean, it`s certainly true that Obama did things that people on the left and immigration advocates didn`t like. He had family detention as opposed to child separation. There were a few cases of child separation, but they were sort of - it wasn`t a - it was never a policy. It was cases where, for example, the parent was being taken into custody for some other sort of crime or where the parent was a provable danger to the child. Yes. He always sort of wants to blame other people for these crises of his own making.

And to be clear, I`m not saying that he made - that the creation of this flow of migrants is his own crisis. But you see this with everything that Donald Trump has to manage or handle. Right? It`s just a logistical catastrophe, in the same way that rebuilding Puerto Rico was a logistical nightmare. Right? It`s the job of these people to do simple things like making sure that there are adequate supplies at these facilities where they`re going to be holding children.

MELBER: Yes. You say that - and it`s so important, Jason, I wonder about that aspect of it. There`s a humanitarian and ideological part, which we`ve been covering and we`ll continue to do so. But what Michelle is raising is also something that has to do with whether you take governance seriously and whether your goal is X number of migrants into the country or Y number and those shift, and Obama did do some crackdowns but nothing like this in its chaos or its treatment of children. But X or Y is different from whether you actually have an organized system.

In the reports we`re seeing, there was a headline out of the New Yorker late today saying ICE agents are frustrated with how chaotic it is. There`s a part of this that has to do with how unprepared the administration looks to be in charge of this federal system.

JOHNSON: Well, Ari, this goes back to Steve Bannon. Right? The idea of making government chaotic in order to make it easier to eventually tear it all down. This is that classic phrase of "It`s not a bug, it`s a feature."

This is not because the Trump administration doesn`t have enough smart people to figure out how to do this. This is because they thrive in chaos. The more chaotic, the more dangerous, the more problematic this entire system seems, they believe that, number one, ultimately would allow them to engage in all sorts of illegal and unethical behavior behind the scenes that we`re not paying attention to.

For example, at the end of last year where they gave ICE the ability to eliminate any and all complaints against them within six weeks so that no one else can investigate or possibly now moving some of the immigrant families into DOD facilities so that reporters can`t get there, they can do all of these things under the cover of chaos.

So that`s what the point of this is. They don`t want to know how to do this better because it`s working the way they want it to.

MELBER: Congressman, do you agree with that?

ESPAILLAT: I agree, Ari. He is - we saw how the border - the Border Patrol Chief resigned today and total chaos. And this is not helping matters. This is putting children in peril; this is putting children in danger. And that`s why passing this bill tonight would allocate the funding to bring about supplies to the border to ensure that they adhere to the Flores decree.

All of these things that are important, the mechanical pieces on how these children are received and treated will be addressed by funding. And he has not been able to do that. There continues to be chaos at the border because he is not providing a humane treatment to these children. As a result, we`ve seen seven of them die.

MELBER: Yes. You mentioned the deaths. You mentioned the reports of the treatment - mistreatment. I want to play one of your colleagues, a member of Congress, because a lot of this seems to really revolve around facts. The facts that are getting out, the accounts that we`re getting from people who are close to it, from advocates as well as independent reporters as well as what Jason mentions, which is even a hobbled whistleblower system. But we`re getting a lot of facts about what it looks like. It doesn`t look good.

Here`s how one of your colleagues put it though, counter the facts making a rather bizarre claim that these kids could leave anytime. Take a look.


REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R-TX): I`ve been to Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas. Yes, it`s a restored Walmart. You know what? There is not a lock on the door. Any child is free to leave at any time, but they don`t. And you know why? Because they`re well taken care of--


MELBER: Is that true?

ESPAILLAT: Unreal. Unreal. I`ve been down to the border myself. I`ve seen the mothers sleeping on the floor with their children, packed like sardines, inhumane. I saw the room where Jakelin Caal was treated before she died. A flat table, a supply cabinet with bandages and gauze, no real equipment or medical services available for her--

MELBER: And that`s--

ESPAILLAT: --in that time of crisis. So, unheard of.

MELBER: That`s what you saw. So, is your Republican colleague, in your view, uninformed or lying?

ESPAILLAT: Look, I`m - look, it`s certainly not what`s going on down there. I`ve been down there. He`s misrepresenting what`s going down there. Seven children have died. We want to prevent one more death. And that`s why we`re passing this bill. The president is going ahead and saying that he`s not going to support this bill.

The American people, the vast majority of the American people in poll numbers show that immigration is their top concern. And the vast majority of them feel that children should not be separated from their families. The Dreamers should be given a share to stay in the country and that these children should not be kept under these conditions. The American public has a big heart. The President is not seeing that, and obviously this person down at the border, my colleague, isn`t either.

MELBER: Congressman, appreciate getting your perspective. I know you have the vote tonight.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you so much.

MELBER: Thank you for coming on THE BEAT, sir.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely. Our coverage continues. Our panel stays. And I want to bring in John Sandweg, who served as Acting Director of ICE under the Obama administration. This was in the period around 2013, 2014. Thanks for joining me.


MELBER: Let`s get to the facts here. Number one, why are these problems getting worse, including the treatment of children, that you see under this administration?

SANDWEG: The big part of this is the management of this crisis that the administration has undertaken. We have them cutting off aid to Central America, which is a critical component to stop the flow. And we have been continuing to apply this deterrence-based approach where we`re going to tough our way out of this.

When the fact is we cannot make conditions tougher on this side of the border than they are with the people they`re facing in Central America. We are looking at the highest murder rates and governments - no economic opportunity and governments are incapable of keeping their people safe. So- -

MELBER: And your view, just to pause at that point, is that they are deliberately trying to make it harsh or painful here?

SANDWEG: That`s certainly part of the strategy. Right? It`s a detention- based approach. Listen, you`ve got 300 kids sitting in a facility that was built for adult males and, candidly, built only to detain adult males for a very short period of time. Kids have no business there. Why are they there? In large part because the administration is engaged in a quasi form of family separation where if a child is coming across with someone who`s other than their parent - it could be an aunt, it could be an older brother - they are separating them ostensibly out of fear of - that there`ve been traffic. But in large part, this is an effort to defeat what they believe is an effort by smugglers to game the system by creating fake families.

All of this is compounding the problem. None of it, most importantly, is solving the problem, which can only be solved with more resources surging into HHS and more immigration judges to quickly process these asylum claims so people who don`t have good claims can go home.

MELBER: Do you think the Trump administration is wrong about their view of what the smugglers are doing regarding bringing children in and families in?

SANDWEG: There`s certainly some of that for sure. Absolutely. And listen, that`s something you have to be very sensitive to and very attentive to try to detect that. The problem here is you have families that - in situations where it is families, it`s just not an immediate family member, and so you have two choices. You either, one, let them - basically release them through the normal process, screen them, check them for criminal histories, do all of your investigations, make sure they don`t pose a health risk, and then put them into deportation proceedings where they can go see a judge.

MELBER: Right.

SANDWEG: Typically they will reunite with their family.


MELBER: Well, you`re talking about - just to slow you - you`re running through it so fast, I want to slow you down.


MELBER: But what you`re - no, don`t be sorry. I`m just saying what you`re talking about is, again, whether or not the dial is up or down, a responsible process that honors - tries to honor the human right, in the due process, rights of these individuals because you and the Obama administration took criticism from some for your deportations, your (inaudible).

We are describing that seems to be a big difference what we`ve reported is whether that`s done through the due process system or against it. And so I want to give you as well the benefit, the President took a shot, as I mentioned, repeatedly at the Obama administration, which really isn`t you. You were in charge for ICE for part of this. Take a look.


TRUMP: We`ve ended separation. You know, under President Obama, you had separation. I was the one that ended it. Now I said one thing. When I ended it, I said here`s what`s going to happen. More families are going to come up. And that`s what`s happened. But they`re really coming up for the economics. But once you ended the separation - but I ended separation. I inherited separation from President Obama.


MELBER: He`s talking about your department that you ran. Is that true or not?

SANDWEG: Ari, that`s categorically false. There was no family separation under the Obama administration. In fact, the policy was the exact opposite. Do everything we can to keep families together to the point where we have been paroled back into the United States parents so they could reclaim their children. I don`t know why he keeps saying that. It is categorically false.

MELBER: Jason, I want to play for you, as well, another ICE leader. This is what`s in the news now. It`s who`s in charge of ICE and how do they talk. This is the incoming one in DHS that I think it`s very fair to say has been just ripped up by chaos at the leadership level on the use of these acting directors, the real lack of a plan, as we`ve been reporting throughout tonight. Here`s one of the new ones serving Donald Trump making the case. Take a look.


MARK MORGAN, ACTING ICE DIRECTOR: A judge has given them a final order of removal, which they are not complying with. I`ve asked them to come to ICE. I don`t want to send ICE agents to their home or work, but they refuse. They won`t come to us and work with us to - in a humane compassionate way to remove them to their country. We have no choice to get them.


MELBER: That`s the ICE Director. And Jason, I try to be as careful, fair as I can here. But it seems to me that he`s going on Fox News today and he`s blaming migrants for what he refers to as they won`t work with us in a humane compassionate way. So we have to act like this. He seems to be blaming them for what he elliptically acknowledges is a lack of compassion.

JOHNSON: Right. Ari, this is evil. It`s just plain evil. It is a human rights violation at every single level, and it`s masquerading as administrative failure. The fact of the matter is, ICE, if they actually kept their paperwork together, they would be able to communicate with these families on a regular basis. But they don`t.

They either catch and release, separate the families, or leave people in absolute limbo so they don`t even know who to communicate with. So to turn around later and say, well, I have no choice but to kick down a door waving a four-four and drag your whole family out is an indicator of the lack of empathy on the part of this administration.

And anyone working, whether they`re working in ICE or a member of Congress or even locals or legislators down there, that justify these human rights abuses and the deaths, we have an administration that is arguing against giving toothpaste to children. Anyone who advocates this kind of behavior is evil as well. It is an absolute blithe on the history of this country.

MELBER: Michelle, Jason, putting it unsparingly, and I want to talk about the reporting. As I mentioned about what is happening - this is from Vox just walking us through where we`ve got to, which Former ICE Director John Sandweg was just referring to. "The problem is not this very controversial Texas facility. It`s this hastily-cobbled-together system of facilities the Trump administration has thrown together in the last several months, as the unprecedented number of families and children coming to the U.S. without papers has overwhelmed the system designed to swiftly deport single adults." The point that Mr. Sandweg made about why you shouldn`t put kids in those facilities in the first place.

GOLDBERG: Right. And just to make a quick point that - the man we just saw speaking on Fox is now the one who is going to take over the system--

MELBER: Right.

GOLDBERG: --of sort of baby jails basically that they`re using because they can`t process people out into the HHS system fast enough. So, just today, the head of - the acting head of Customs and Border Patrol resigned. That guy is moving over to take the job. You see this huge amount of turnover even in the midst of this crisis. But indeed, the problem is that none of these - you`re not supposed to be under the tenets of the Flores agreement, which was this--


GOLDBERG: --settlement in - about kind of how long you can hold children. None of these kids are supposed to be in detention for more than 72 hours. They`re supposed to be moved very quickly into HHS, into the Office of Refugee Resettlement. And the fact that there is a lot of people coming at the border is just not an excuse for failing to do that. Right? I mean, the reason--

MELBER: Right.

GOLDBERG: A President - any President has crises and is tested by unexpected events. And your failure to rise to the occasion can`t be justified by the fact that those events were unexpected. So I think it`s - I don`t know that we - I think it`s probably a combination of malice and incompetence, but - and I think it`s also important to note that we know about this particular facility because it was being investigated for its compliance with the Flores agreement. We have no idea how many other facilities out there that are--

MELBER: Oh, absolutely. I`m glad--

GOLDBERG: --are like that that are--


GOLDBERG: --kind of where--

MELBER: Exactly.

GOLDBERG: --children are being held in similar (inaudible).

MELBER: No, and that`s why we`re zeroing in on what we can learn and what we have factually. And also to your point, Michelle, we only know about them denying soap and blankets as a legal claim because they`ve been fighting to not have a monitor oversee a certain facility. So this is sadly - I think for those who care about the treatment issues, this is just a slice of the picture.

Michelle, Jason and John, thanks to each of you for this important conversation.

I`m going to fit in a break, but we have a lot of other topics, including why Democrats are saying they`re ready to hit Mueller with two subpoenas to force him to testify. We`re also going to show you how the polls may change as soon as these debates kick in. And a political reporter, who actually was there for the launch of Fox News, now sounding off on Trump and the way his colleagues do business.


CARL CAMERON, FORMER FOX NEWS REPORTER: Over the years, the right wing hosts drowned out straight journalism with partisan misinformation. Trump is a con man. He did collude and coordinate with Russia to get elected. He said he`d accept their help again because he sees nothing wrong with it.


MELBER: Carl Cameron made getaways and he`s here for an exclusive tonight on THE BEAT, and that`s not all. Highlights from a star-studded - what? - re-enactment of the Mueller report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call Rod. Tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can`t be the special counsel. Mueller has to go. Call me back when you do it.


MELBER: If the table-read every nerd has been waiting for, Rob Reiner is here, and I`m genuinely looking forward to talk to him about all of it. So we have a lot in the show. Stay with us. We`ll be right back.


MELBER: News tonight. Democrats say they will force Bob Mueller to testify about his evidence on Trump with the leaders of key committees now teaming up. Intel Chair Adam Schiff announcing a plan to ensure one way or another Mueller will testify, with the Intel Committee linking arms with the Judiciary Committee on the request to press Mueller`s hand. It has now been 27 days since Mueller made his position plain. He views his report as his testimony, and he will not say more in public.


ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL FOR THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony.


MELBER: Ever since that day, it`s been clear the only way Mueller would speak is not voluntarily but to get a subpoena, and Democrats haven`t done that yet. And there can be sound reasons to negotiate, to take time, but it`s been quite clear a Mueller hearing is going to probably require a subpoena prompting many Trump critics to question when House Democrats would act and whether some Democrats are letting Trump off the hook like Republicans are accused of.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler recently broke the news they would press Mueller to testify by the end of the summer here on THE BEAT.


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: Oh, I would think it`d 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: Since then a few more members of the House are backing an impeachment probe. The number now up to 76 Democrats and one Republican.


REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): The time has come, Mr. Speaker, for the House of Representatives to begin an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.


MELBER: That was Congressman Himes just yesterday making that case. Well, privately, other Democratic leaders say, look, they need more public support before members in swing districts can really get on board. An activist group is now trying to build that support by bringing the Mueller report to life, with Kevin Kline as Mueller and John Lithgow as Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you can see your way to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He`s a good guy. I hope you can let this go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comey agreed that Flynn is a good guy but did not commit to ending the investigation of Flynn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Russia thing is far from over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut-job. I faced great pressure of Russia. That`s taken off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the press asks him, he would tell the truth so that the Comey firing was not his idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Sessions told the President that a special counsel had been Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I`m (bleep). How can you let this happen, Jeff?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hicks said that she had only seen the President like that one other time, when the Access Hollywood tape came out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bannon recalled telling the President that the purported conflicts were ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call Rod. Tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can`t be the Special Counsel. Mueller has to go. Call me back when you do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That evening, McGahn called both Priebus and Bannon and told them that he intended to resign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McGahn said that the President had asked him to do crazy (bleep) -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, he`s the President of the United States. He retains his pardon power. Nobody has taken that away from him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cohen said he wanted to protect the President and be loyal to him by not contradicting anything the President had said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.


MELBER: Will it work? This group is hoping people will learn more about what`s in the Mueller report from this effort, which has sparked its own debate over whether this kind of legal table read is the way to take on a President who dominates the media with his televised Twitter strategies.

There`s also a similar effort from Director Rob Reiner of tapping Robert De Niro and other big names to drill home their interpretation of what the Mueller report means. They see it as a slam dunk case Trump committed the crime of obstruction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All throughout the investigation, he repeatedly tried to stop it and cover up his wrongdoing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a legal term for that, and it`s a crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s called obstruction of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obstruction of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obstruction of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Mueller report is filled with Trump obstructing justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump, if you`re listening, on behalf of the American people, we will hold you accountable.


MELBER: Will you? Well, Rob Reiner is here to explain the plan and whether there`s momentum for impeaching Trump when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Rob Reiner is here. How are you doing, buddy?


MELBER: I`m great. I always love seeing you. You`ve got an interesting project here. First, before we get to yours, what did you think of the table-read.

REINER: It`s all good. I mean, everything that`s designed to get information to the public is good. People that haven`t read the report, they don`t know what`s in it. And it has more evidence of criminality than any President in history. So anything that can help educate the public is good.

MELBER: What is the plot here?

REINER: The plot? Well, I mean, we have - last week, we put out a piece about collusion, which is the first volume of the report, and there`s tons of evidence of collusion, contrary to the fact that the President keeps saying no-collusion. There`s tons of evidence of collusion in the first volume.

The second volume, which is the video out today, outlines much of the obstruction of justice. And so these are crimes. I mean, whether they rise to high crimes and misdemeanors, that`s up to the Congress to decide.

MELBER: Well, obstruction--

REINER: And Mueller - yes.

MELBER: The obstruction, there`s the evidence of a crime in volume two. I don`t think you say you want people to know what`s in the report. I don`t think volume one gets to the evidence of a criminal level, the way Mueller wrote it.

REINER: No. No. It`s not - collusion, as you know, is not set out in statute. But a high crime and misdemeanor is not necessarily a crime. The obstruction, yes, is a crime. But I would argue that coordinating efforts with a hostile foreign power to win an election might rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

MELBER: What did you think - and then we`ll look a little more at the new video. What did you think when Trump, after saying no-collusion for years, landed on, well, but I would do it in 2020 if I had to or I wanted to?

REINER: Well, well, first of all, by virtue of saying that, he admitted to the fact that he did collude. So he said, yes, I did it, and I would do it again. So - I mean, what - the weird thing about Trump is that he basically tells you the crimes that he`s committed in plain sight. And because of that, we all go, "Well, I guess it`s OK." How is it OK?  How is it OK?

MELBER:  Would he be -- would he be a believable president in a movie?

REINER:  No, no.  As a matter of fact, if you pitched this idea to a studio head to say you know, we`ve got this -- it`s a story about a reality, a failed businessman who is a reality television star who becomes president you`d say well, it`s must be a satire, it must be -- it can`t happen.  It`s not believable.

MELBER:  It`s wild, yes, or if you had a movie where Rick Perry was the character who said he wanted to eliminate a department and then later Trump wins and puts him in charge of that department, right, every little too much.

REINER:  Yes.  You have -- you have thousands of those kinds of things all throughout the Trump administration, that`s -- it`s like rights itself but it`s too obvious.

MELBER:  It`s too obvious.  Let`s take a look at a little more of the case you`re making on obstruction.  Here we go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Unfortunately though, very few people have read the report.

REINER:  And before the report was even released, Trump`s Attorney General William Barr lied about its contents.

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR:  And told the American people that the president had done nothing wrong

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That is simply not true and Trump knows it.


MELBER:  Now, let me mix the good with the criticism, OK.

REINER:  OK.  Let`s go.

MELBER:  The good is speaking someone who loves movies and film, I love all the people you have up there so it`s great and I think it`s cool you got them all involved and excited to do this.  The criticism is does this really work and are you sort of giving in to the Trump`s media Twitter, everything becoming a kind of an entertainment thing or is this really part of just one more way people obviously can read the reports, one more way to get people who might otherwise not learn any of this.

REINER:  Well, that`s the idea.  It`s basically to raise awareness of what`s actually in the report.  I mean, the first -- the first video, we did have well over five million views so somebody is seeing this --

MELBER:  You said it was how much?

REINER:  Over five million.

MELBER:  That`s a lot. 

REINER:  Yes, yes, it`s a lot.  And --

MELBER:  You know -- you know what they`d say on Instagram about that, Rob?

REINER:  What`s that?

MELBER:  They`d say you have clout.

REINER:  Really?


REINER:  Is that what they say?  OK.  I should -- I should go into Instagram then.

MELBER:  They say that.  And if you don`t have, they say you`re a clout chaser.  That`s like people who want to get millions of views and don`t get them, but you`re on -- you`re on the better side of that.  So you`re saying when you say --

REINER:  So am I an influencer?  Am I an influencer?  I want to be an influencer.

MELBER:  You are -- you are an influencer.  I don`t know what kind of paid ads you would -- you would rile up but I don`t think you`re in a place in your life where you need them.


MELBER:  But let`s put it like this on the politics and I happen to know you a little bit so I actually know you know a lot of politics, which makes sense because you know storytelling, you know plots.  When you say you`re reaching five million people, what does that mean for the impeachment push?  Do you think there`s any potential momentum left or do you look at this as a last ditch effort where Pelosi has basically shut it down.

REINER:  Well, no, I don`t think she shut it down but I do think time is running out.  I don`t think you can slide into the 2020 election cycle you know, into that year and launch impeachment proceedings.  I think that has to start now.

MELBER:  So last question --

REINDER:  It has to start now.  And this whole idea is to push the leadership, push Nancy Pelosi to not do this.

MELBER:  And that goes to how hard -- how hard folks are playing.  You`re a Democrat, right?


MELBER:  But you sound like you`ve had it up to here.  Let me read what you wrote most recently.  We`re up to 78 House members calling for an impeachment inquiry.  At this rate, the most lawless president in history may never be held accountable for his crimes.  I gave up on the GOP cult long ago, I hate to say it.  I`m starting to feel that way about the ineffectual Dems.

Are you speaking to Pelosi and what are you staying here, and would you consider leaving the Democratic Party over this?

REINER:  No, I`m not going to leave the Democratic Party, but what I`m trying to say is that read the report.  Every member should read this report.  If you read this report as you just had Jim Himes you know announcing on the floor of the House yesterday that he is you know, in favor of an impeachment inquiry.

If you read the report it`s impossible not to say you want to at least start impeachment inquiry.  And by the way, if you do that, it triggers the ability to get documents, to compel testimony, much more expeditiously.

MELBER:  Rob Reiner call it like you see it.  I appreciate you come on.  I always like chatting with you, sir.

REINER:  Thanks, Ari.

MELBER:  Thank you, Rob.  When we come back, someone who`s basically just like Rob Reiner, someone who worked at Fox News for two decades.  Later in the show he`s now saying that he`s concerned about misinformation and says Donald Trump`s a con man.  It`s a BEAT exclusive.

But before we get to that, I`m going to show you everything you need to know not only about this Democratic debate but why debates matter more than polls.  My special explanation next.




BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am feeling really happy to be in the debate.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`m going to figure out what it`s like to only be able to talk for 60 seconds.


MELBER:  Candidates are pumped.  Tonight we can report the stage is now literally set.  You`re looking at live pictures from Miami here with the first Democratic primary debate kicks off of course tomorrow night.

Now, these debates could be especially pivotal as over 60 percent of Democratic voters freely say they only know a little bit about this race.  That`s a poll out today.  Only one out of five say they already think they know a lot.

So basically four out of five people who catch these debates will be getting their first real look at the candidates.  And boy, do people watch?  Whether it`s live when the debates are broadcast on several channels tomorrow night including this one or in clips on other channels.

We know last cycle 24 million people watched that first primary debate and people also hear about it in the gusher of clips and memes that of course spread online.  Who can forget Mitt Romney`s binders or Rick Perry famously forgetting which agency he wanted to eliminate?  So what happens in these debates spreads.

Now, we don`t know what`s going to go down or what voters will make of them.  And let me be clear, those of us in the media, we are not in good shape if we try to predict.  But we can look at history and we know that voters historically often shift their views after debates especially after the early ones.

Consider Bush who was leading at this point in 2015, he went on to drop to the bottom.  Jeb basically was no longer a front-runner just like another famous name Giuliani on the road to 2008.  It`s a pattern we actually see in both parties.  At this point in `o7, Clinton was leading among Dems.  Many people had not heard much from Obama directly.

The same pattern in `03 when Joe Lieberman was the famous name in that cycle early on.  but after the debates in primaries in 2004, well, Lieberman faded.  And some of the Democrats primary debates in that same year featured lesser-known candidates at that time who used the debates to find their own ways to stand out including Al Sharpton joking about his chances of winning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All of you are pledged to support the winner of this forum.

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST:  What forum?  I will travel --


SHARPTON:  I will travel all over this country to bid for Al Sharpton president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And stay in the best hotels.

SHARPTON:  The better hotels.


MELBER:  If you think the race is set in stone, of course, you got to wait and see what happens.  There`s huge opportunities for the candidates to separate themselves so before we go I want to show you something pretty interesting.  We have been digging through our archives and we found some more stuff we haven`t showed before which is Warren and Bernie Sanders back in the day as they were sharpening their debate chops.


WARREN:  It`s about working families.  I will work with anyone Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Vegetarian if they will work for America`s families.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:  The richest one person in America has more wealth from the bottom 100 million Americans.  So the economy is working really well for the people on top, not for the middle class, not for the working families.


MELBER:  What you see there is experienced in sharpening a message that they both have that overlaps about taking on the wealthy and they argue their consistency is a strength.  Now, then as I mentioned, there`s the lesser-known candidates.  We can`t assume they will stay lesser-known or lesser like.  The whole point is to wait and listen to the voters.

Bill De Blasio, I could tell you, here in New York was underestimated when he first ran.  He was not the front-runner in the hard-edged New York media market but he did basically excel including with many stops along the local debate stage.


DE BLASIO:  This election is about the future of New York City.  It`s about are we going to have a strong democracy where no one powerful person can dominate the will of the people.  I want to work with whoever`s mayor when they`re right, but when they`re wrong, when they`re ignoring the will of the people, I want to take that mayor on and I want to organize people for change.


MELBER:  All right, I want to wish you luck and hope to see you tomorrow night on these debate stages.  We will be right back.


MELBER:  There is a long and symbiotic relationship between Trump and Fox News.  In fact, there are reports about Fox pushing Donald Trump`s presidential ambitions way back in the day during Obama`s very first term.  Trump was doing those weekly interviews on Fox and Friends and the banners asked very blatantly what would President Trump do?

That same year Hannity was airing graphics promoting a Trump 2012 idea and bragging about their relationship.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  I talked to Donald Trump at length today and he`s considering and I -- by the way, I`m wearing my Donald Trump tie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Looking good there --

HANNITY:  He actually gave me a gift.


MELBER:  Now only one is welcome to make jokes about their red tie but this goes deeper now that Donald Trump is the President of the United States, because he uses Fox as something of a kitchen cabinet.  And there are acres there who say they report on him during the day and then shape policy.

Consider this report at a New York Magazine that Trump and Hannity talk basically nightly.  Washington Post says Hannity has a desk in the White House.  The Daily Beast reports Tucker Carlson was advising Trump on Iran moving into a dovish position.

Many people may welcome that but it is coming not from the Pentagon, it`s coming apparently from Fox while Fox and Friends host have been lobbying Trump on pardons.  And then there`s a praise of Donald Trump on air which he then returns in his own rallies.


TRUMP:  Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do.  Laura has been great, Laura Ingraham.  Tucker Carlson has been great.


MELBER:  This is unusual and it`s important.  It`s part of how Trump policy is being made these days.  And we have an exclusive guest tonight with unique insights into all of this because he was there.  Carl Cameron spent 22 years at Fox News helping launch the network.  And of course, he`s known to many people across the country as Campaign Carl.


CARL CAMERON, FORMER CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  Bush wraps up his camping day in Delaware then flies to South Carolina.

We`re on bus without (INAUDIBLE)

Ted Danson and Vice President Gore.

Do not look up for Sarah Palin to fade off into Alaska for us.

Only for Fox News can the candidates come over and talk to us this quickly.  Mister Romney, what do you expect tomorrow night real quick.

Sooner or later Trump will begin to falter.  That has not happened.


MELBER:  Carl has been out in the field doing a lot of work, knows this world, and now he`s launching a new media project.  I`ll let him explain.


CAMERON:  I was one of Fox`s first hires.  The idea of fair and balanced news appealed to me.  But over the years, the right wing hosts drowned out straight journalism with partisan misinformation.  I left.  Trump is a con man.  He did collude and coordinate with Russia to get elected.

And recently he said he`d accept their help again because he sees nothing wrong with it.  And yes he is still helping Russia by refusing to take strong actions to protect us from a future cyber attack.


MELBER:  Carl Cameron taking his story to THE BEAT tonight.  Thanks for being here.

CAMERON:  Hi, Ari.  Thanks for being here.  Thanks for letting me.

MELBER:  I`m happy to have you here.  Now, look, I`m going to get to your project.  Before we do, I`m curious about your view, strong words for the president, when you say he`s a con man, do you think that he knows what he`s doing, that he`s lying, and that people at Fox News are secretly concerned about that or they`re along for the whole ride as you put it?

CAMERON:  Well, look, as for President Trump, his origin story in the 2016 campaign was that he was never a politician, he`d never run for office.  That was patently false.  It`s frankly garbage.  He ran in 1988, went up to New Hampshire, did an exploratory committee, held a big event where there were hundreds of people who gave a speech to did a news conference and gave interviews to reporters including me.

And in 2000, Trump did an exploratory committee and ran on the reform party ticket and actually went to the California Convention and got delegates.  So when he said I`ve never been a politician, I`d never run for office, that origins story about what made him different was a lie.

And he said he was a fantastic businessman, and now we know that he wrote down billions of dollars in losses and it puts him in a club where he`s not such a great businessman after all.  So yes, there`s a con there going.

MELBER:  What does it tell you that he listens so much as we just mentioned to your colleagues there at Fox News.

CAMERON:  Well, I`ll make a real distinction about Fox News.  You have a lot of opinion hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and some of the folks that you mentioned, and then you have a news division and there`s folks there like Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace, and Shepard Smith, and Jay Wallace the news president.  They worked their butts off to try to be fair.  And it`s no secret that there has occasionally been some disagreements between the news division and the entertainment vision.

I have a lot of friends who are in the news division.  They work really hard to get it straight.  The opinion hosts are just that and it`s not fact-based.  That`s what front page live is about.  It`s a progressive organization.  There`s enough a lot of liberal folks that we`re trying to appeal to but this is fact-based information.

MELBER:  And if it`s a progressive --

CAMERON:  And Donald Trump is --

MELBER:  Let me ask you this.


MELBER:  If it`s a progressive outlet and you`re leading it, does that mean you were progressive that whole time those 22 years?

CAMERON:  No.  I mean, my first vote was for -- was for an independent back in the 79 and 80, and I voted for Independent for president, I voted for Republicans, and Democrats.  At Fox, I shot straight.  I made mistakes.  Sure, everybody does.  If the Washington Post has an article that we decided to focus on and they have a retraction or a correction, we`ll point out that there was a retraction and correction.  Journalists do make mistakes.

MELBER:  Sure.  I`m curious you mentioned some of those folks and I`m going to play some of them for you.  I`m curious whether you felt that that worked or whether there was a countervailing pressure.  Hold on one sec.  Let me show -- let me show it, some of your folks now who in the Trump era also are pushing back which is consistent with the point you make.  Let`s take a look.


ANDREW NAPOLITANO, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  The President of the United States of America is prepared to commit a felony to get reelected.

SHEPARD SMITH, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  The President has offered no evidence to support what he has said.

NAPOLITANO:  There`s ample evidence.  This doesn`t require too much analysis to indict the president.

SMITH:  That`s incorrect.  He`s been saying it for a while now but it`s simply not true.

NAPOLITANO:  The behavior of the President is immoral, deceptive and repellent.

SMITH:  Fox News knows of no evidence to support the President`s claim.


MELBER:  Go ahead.

CAMERON:  Access is a problem for journalists all over the place.  And when any organization gets too close to the President of the United States or politicians, that`s a problem.  It happened with the New York Times when Judy Miller was taking the word of Dick Cheney as supposed to everybody else when it came to the Iraqis having nuclear weapons.

It happened in the Lyndon Johnson administration all the time.  He used to have reporters come over and he talked to them all the time.  There is nothing wrong with access if it`s used right.  The question is whether or not you are pushing the agenda or you`re informing the -- you`re informing the electorate.

MELBER:  Do you think the Fox News evening or some of the evening in your view has become basically a direct alliance, a sort of a kitchen cabinet in providing basically media services for Donald Trump?

CAMERON:  Well, I`m glad the president -- I think -- I think when a president or when a politician gives a smack to a reporter for getting under their skin, that`s a good thing.  When they`re getting atta boys and pats on the back, something is wrong.  Our job is to make people know what`s going on.

MELBER:  All right, I got to call you on that.  I got to call you on that since you said that.  I`m going to play Donald Trump on Carl Cameron.  Take a look.


TRUMP:  Carl Cameron who`s a nice guy, he said, no, they only have 1,500 people here.  Start counting them up, Carl because you got a lot of people here, Carl.


MELBER:  Your response and whether you think he`s going to continue to like you under your new project?

CAMERON:  My response is I was right that day.  He didn`t have a big, huge crowd.  And I`m right today, telling the truth is more important than trying to be popular.

MELBER:  Well put and a fitting end.  And I think you know, you have done a lot of work for a long time.  There are folks who might know about you, only from your news organization and not from your own work.  But I`m happy --

CAMERON:, check it out.  It`s going to be great.

MELBER:  There you go.

CAMERON:  This is -- this is going to be the viralized news we`ve -- it`s only been up for a day-and-a-half and we`re astounded at the response and it`s accurate.  It`s the kind of stuff that really matters.  And with the 2020 election and the debates is tomorrow, check us out,

MELBER:  I recognize the hustle that come again in (INAUDIBLE) in multiple times.  And Carl, you`ve worked on this for a long time.  We like having different views on the show.  I appreciate you coming on.

CAMERON:  Thanks, man.

MELBER:  We`ll be back with one more thing.


MELBER:  Here`s a live scene right now at the site of the first Democratic debate at the Knight Concert Hall in Miami, Florida tomorrow.  I will be reporting live from the debate site Wednesday and Thursday 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

And then I will be talking to Brian Williams, and Nicole Wallace and more handling the pre-debate coverage which begins at 7:00 p.m. and then the debate itself is 9:00 p.m. Eastern moderated by MSNBC and NBC colleagues.  You don`t want to miss that.  THE BEAT will tee it up and then now take it home.  So see you tomorrow at 6:00 P.M. Eastern.  "HARDBALL" starts now.