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Mueller's tight-lipped approach. TRANSCRIPT: 7/8/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Richard Stengel, State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, Christina Jimenez

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: And that`s all for tonight, we`ll be back tomorrow with more `Meet the Press Daily` and `The Beat` with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Steve, thank you so much. We have a lot in tonight`s show including this little nugget. Attorney General Bill Barr just came out and publicly knocked Bob Mueller`s upcoming testimony.

We have a special report tonight with some clues on what Bob Mueller will do when he faces Congress next week. We have reporting in there that I can tell you, you won`t see anywhere else, that`s later tonight. Also Neal Katyal is going to join us and what can only be described I think, at this point as increasingly bizarre battle within an inside the Trump administration over how to deal with the census after that Supreme court rebuke.

And a reversal over the holidays if you haven`t heard about that yet. So we have a lot but we begin with the substantive crisis that continues to consume the Trump administration. This is one that involves facts matter in. New reporting on appalling conditions for migrant children in a facility in Clint, Texas which has humanitarians concerned and Donald Trump on defense.

The New York Times reporting outbreaks of shingles and chickenpox. Evidence of a lice infestation at this Clint, Texas site. Now some of these details would normally not even be available to the public. The Trump administration strictly limiting access to these now very controversial facilities.

One eyewitness though recounting 351 children crammed into what was cast as a prison like environment. Tonight, we`re joined by a lawmaker who just toured this very facility for a fact check of Donald Trump`s attempts to dismiss this entire exhaustive investigative account from The New York Times, take a look.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The New York Times story is a hoax. I went to my people and they said sir, it`s not true. We told them about a crisis. They said it was manufactured.


MELBER: Manufactured, now there are plenty of Americans who by now maybe basically accustomed to what you just on your screen. The President of United States taking a false and odd effort to simply ignore and blasts through facts and stories that undercut him and in this case undercut United States` treatment of people from primarily, other countries.

So how does this impact our stand and the U.S. standing in the whole rest of the world? Well, that brings us to another part of our lead story tonight because you had the holidays, America celebrated independence and all that and then people go back to work.

And much of official Washington returned to work today, feasting on something of a diplomatic rarity. A British paper`s expose on secret cables from their top diplomat in America, privately telling his government, Trump is inept, his administration is incompetent and that he radiates insecurity.

The paper headlining part of their report and this might be pretty sweet for people who are a little tired of the way Donald Trump uses this term but this is the Daily Mail, telling your President, "Sorry Mr. President, here`s proof, it`s not fake news." And they quote the secret cables as I mentioned.

All of this about how the other diplomats around the world privately view Donald Trump. They add here for good measure "For a man who has risen to the highest office on the planet, President Trump radiates insecurity." On all of the above, I`m joined by Richard Stengel who knows a thing or two about diplomatic cables. He was a top diplomat in the Obama administration and is the former managing editor of Time magazine.

Christina Jimenez, an immigration activists who leads the group, United WE dream, should mention she came to the U.S. from Ecuador at the age of 13 as an undocumented immigrant and Democratic State Representative Mary Gonzalez who represents a district in the Texas house that deals with Clint as we mentioned the big part of this exhaustive report and has recently visited the facilities, good day to all of you.


MELBER: Absolutely. Rick, I want to start big picture and then burrow in, partly because as a very sad fact of the news, we do know about the nature of some of these facilities and we continue to report on what we learn about each of them. What we don`t always know is what diplomats  secretly think of this President. Your view of that and I don`t think it`s too big a leap, its connection to the management of this border crisis.

RICHARD STENGEL, FMR UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, I mean, I think by the way, starting with the border crisis, people around the world look at this as ineptitude by the United States in general that no civilized country should treat people like this, even undocumented migrants.

And particularly if you transpose the United States and think about this happening in some other country, it would be human rights crisis. You would be protesting that government so  the British ambassador, Mr. Darroch or Sir Darroch was speaking for everybody pretty much. He`s speaking for the entire diplomatic corp. You know as they say in Washington, the scandal is what`s true, not what`s untrue. He spoke the truth. It`s indisputable that Trump is in secure, that the administration is incompetent and inept.

He`s, I don`t approve of a leak of a classified cable, I think that`s an awful thing but it`s indisputable, what he says is true and it is universally regarded as the truth among the entire diplomatic corp.

MELBER: Right, I mean for you`re speaking about the way diplomacy works, if you`re not allowed to have some space to privately say oh well, the emperor has no clothes because the Daily Mail and tells everyone that you said the emperor is naked then cables probably get less true and more euphemistic, right?

So you`re talking about the purpose of that but what does it mean for the foreign relations here for the President to know that at the highest levels of this allied government which just was giving him, the big salute, they think he`s basically and I use that term loosely but a hot mess.

STENGEL: Well and by the way, his reaction completely confirmed everything that the British ambassador said, it was intemperate, it was chaotic, it was refuting a member of the diplomatic corp. I think it just confirmed everything the ambassador said.

MELBER: Yes, so Representative Gonzalez, take towards what you saw these facilities and whether the President is right to claim that all of this is a hoax or whether he is wrong to claim that?

STATE REP. MARY GONZALEZ (D-TX): Not only is he wrong, it`s insulting to my community and the people of which it is dehumanizing. So first off, I saw children in these facilities who don`t belong in detention centers, then I saw grandparents, a 70 year old grandmother who had traveled from El Salvador.

This is insulting that he feels that this is a hoax because my community has been at the forefront of this for a whole year. A year ago, we built the Tornillo tent city which is only 10 miles away from the Clint facility where we house thousands of immigrant children. This situation is demoralising to not only the kids and the families that are in these centers but the communities outside of them.

Even if he wants to say this, it`s insulting to his own border patrol men who have a higher rate of suicide than ever before.

MELBER: Cristina, take a listen to Ken Cuccinelli, Trump`s immigrations czar on all of this.


KEN CUCCINELLI, DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES OFFICE: Congress refuses, especially the House refuses to take the steps necessary to fix these loopholes that you can drive a truck through. Ultimately, they`re complaining about the numbers that they`re attracting here. It`s the height of hypocrisy. They just want to politicize it. They don`t actually want to solve the problem.


JIMENEZ: What I can say is all of us agree that this crisis since is just getting worse by the day. And in fact what we`ve seen is the administration asking for more and more money to help people that are in these camps. And just about a week ago Democratic leadership and Republicans gave a blank check to this administration.

Billions of dollars to address the situation that is happening right now with no restrictions but what in reality this means is that Democrats fell for this trap of this administration that has already a pattern of creating crisis, like we don`t have to have children and adults in cages and children dying in these camps, that`s the reality.

But this administration has chosen to go that route and pressure Congress for more resources. The money has been given to this administration and the resources are not being used to improve conditions so the Democratic leadership has fallen into the trap of providing more resources that ultimately leading to one, more kids in cages, more camps and more of the horrific images and reporting that we`re hearing from--

MELBER: Well, you`re calling it a trap, I suppose that what we hear a lot from the House is that they have to do something in a budgetary way to deal with a Republican Senate because obviously, what else are you also going to do?

Shut down the government over this? I mean, it`s the state of play, isn`t it?

JIMENEZ: Well, you heard many members of Congress that said, can we at least have a debate. If we were to really wrestle with this, have a conversation, talk about how these resources will be used. How can we know that this administration is really using resources to improve conditions in these camps. I mean, you know, besides the point, we should not have children in camps, no matter what.

But this administration has shown after time and after time that we cannot trust them and Congress did not even have a conversation about how resources will be used, what restrictions will be there to ensure that resources will be used.

The matter of the fact is this administration is and this agency is the most resourced agency in the entire U.S. government. If they want to use resources to improve conditions, they could do it right now, even without the extra money that Democrats and Republicans already gave this administration.

MELBER: And Representative Gonzalez, excuse me, Gonzalez, I wanted to also bring you in on the point that the President is may you know, they really struggled other than what I mentioned which is sort is calling it all a hoax, they`ve struggle to the land on any good ground rhetorically and I think that may speak to the weakness of the position.

So they make a big - there`s been a big show of bluster but there have been as you know a lot of changes on what they`re actually saying and what they`re actually claiming to do. Moving people out of facilities when they get criticized for it then moving them back in for one example.

The President now has a new talking point that I want to play for you where he says, well maybe folks are just better off than the horrors they were trying to escape, take a look.


TRUMP: In all cases, if you look - people that came from unbelievable poverty - that had no water, that had no anything where they came from. Those are people that are very happy with what`s going on because, relatively speaking, they`re in much better shape right now.


MELBER: Your response to that.

GONZALEZ: I mean again, just complete insult. I`m very insulted by those statements. The children like we should be cherishing children, we should not be keeping them in detention centers in which we are not giving them the resources to have basic rights and basic dignity taken care of.

And so you know the President created this situation. We can talk about Congress but his policies are the reasons that we have children in detention centers, his policies are the reasons we`re keeping a 70 year old grandmother behind bars in a crowded room with not enough space.

Here`s what I did hear on the ground from my own agents in my district but they have been signaling up the ladder that they have been in a crisis for months and that those conversations have not been heard higher up. It`s really hard for me as a legislator to not understand - to not see the intentionality in this creation of a crisis.

We heard the President say I want to make it bad for immigrants and I feel that`s really what he`s doing in this situation and deflecting by calling it a hoax.

MELBER: Representative. Gonzalez, Cristina Jimenez and Richard Stengel, thanks to each of you. We have a lot to get to which is why I want to fit in a break. Bill Barr back at it saying that his old employee Bob Mueller is gearing up for a "spectacle" at this very important hearing.

We have a special report on what to expect. Also later Jeffrey Epstein pleading not guilty in this blockbuster horrific sex trafficking case, renewing scrutiny as well of a top Trump official who once decided to play down Epstein`s prosecution.

Also knew Neal Katyal is here tonight on Donald Trump`s new shift in response to a Supreme Court rebuke on the census which apparently blindsided some of his own lawyers and later, U.S. women`s soccer team returning home today after winning the World Cup and igniting this change.


CROWD: Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay.


MELBER: Sounds pretty good. We have a lot in the show. I`m Ari Melber. We`ll be right back.


MELBER: Former Special Counsel Bob Mueller will testify publicly before Congress, next week. Today, Attorney General Bill Barr re-emerged to undercut that looming hearing.


BILL BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don`t know if I`ll be watching in real time but I`m sure what he says will get to me somehow. I said all along that I had - I would not object to Bob going up to testify but after I said that, he indicated he was not interested in testifying so I was disappointed to see him subpoenaed because I don`t think that serves an important purpose dragging Bob Mueller up if he in fact, is going to stick to the report.

It seems to me the only reason for doing that is to create some kind of public spectacle. And if Bob decides that he doesn`t want to be subject to that, then the Department of Justice would certainly back him.


MELBER: That is what shade looks like between a supervisor and his old employee but that`s the Barr side. The more important piece is what we can learn from Mueller next week. Well, in 30 seconds we have an exclusive report on the clues, new clues about Mueller`s testimony when we`re back in thirty.



ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Mr President, on behalf of every one of the employees you see here before you and around the world, it is my privilege to welcome you to the FBI. We are not above using this occasion for recruiting purposes but you are a wee bit past our age limit.

However, it is not too early for Sasha and Malia to start thinking about joining the FBI. And so we would like to send you home with two official bureau teddy bears for them as well as t-shirts.


MELBER: Teddy bears in the air. That was FBI Director, Bob Mueller, a decade ago of course speaking there with the first family and Barack Obama, welcoming the new President on what was his first official visit to the FBI and handing those two teddy bears over as gifts for the President`s daughters.

And that`s about as warm and unscripted as Mueller ever gets in public, smiling, leaning into ceremonial event, honoring a President and the bureau. But you won`t find much footage of Mueller ever showing more personality than that two teddy bear day.

You can scour the archives, we did. That`s about as far as it goes. The rest of the time, most of the time Bob Mueller is more tight lipped and taciturn. Next week, he testifies before Congress about his probe, an events that is literally the most anticipated hearing of the Trump era.

Only Mueller knows what he intends to say but right now, we have a special report for you on Mueller under oath with some clues on his approach and some reporting and how Bob Mueller testifies at hearings because despite his secretive reputation, Mueller`s long career means he`s testified many times.

In fact you see right here some of them. We scoured decades of hearings, over 60 appearances before Congress from his service with the FBI and DOJ. And we studied how he deals with the sort of questioning, how he avoids certain things within his obligations and how he lives up to a longstanding rep as the ultimate rule follower.

Now we found many similar responses from Mueller, going back to his first FBI director confirmation hearing. This was 2001 and he sparred with the U.S. senator about a controversial memo that was related to a previous investigation.


MUELLER: The short answer, Senator is yes and I think it would depend on the circumstance. I`m not certain what I would do in that circumstance but I cannot tell you today that I absolutely would.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): Are you now saying Mr. Mueller that you would in fact have turned over this memo of December 9, 1996 on your own to the Senate Oversight Committee?

MUELLER: I can`t say with definitiveness now at this time, I would. I cannot put myself without all the facts back into the position of the decision maker--

SPECTER: If this committee, if those two men, the Chairman and the ranking member can have access to this memorandum, I don`t think Senate Oversight is worth a tinker`s name.

MUELLER: I am making a distinction, Senator if I might and I`m saying in the case where there`s been a request for this memorandum, I would expect that the request of the committee to get this memorandum would be accommodated.

SPECTER: Well Mr. Mueller, that doesn`t answer the question at all.


MELBER: That doesn`t answer the question at all which may have been Mueller`s goal. Observe the rules, tell the truth but just don`t answer certain questions. He hasn`t changed, not even his outfits, the dark jacket, the white shirt, the red checkered tie. And that brings me to a classic Bob Mueller riddle to keep in mind for next week.

What`s the difference between Bob Mueller and a bottle of wine. Wine changes, Mueller doesn`t. We checked these tapes and here`s how he`s swathes away hypotheticals and questions every time he doesn`t want to answer.


MUELLER: I hesitate to speculate because I am just as a piece of the puzzle also.

I would have to check to make absolutely certain.

In every investigation there - and particularly fast moving investigation, there are steps are taken that may or may not work out.

And it`s very difficult to generalize or to reach some sort of understanding or to make progress with that generalization.


MELBER: Those all sound like basically true statements but they stopped short of what the congressional questioners want to know. The point here isn`t that Mueller`s past hearing suggests he`s trying to only be evasive or protect anyone.

But rather that even when he`s sitting on blockbuster evidence or dramatic story, which you`re about to see, his style is almost always just the facts. And that brings me as I mentioned, to a key part of this report tonight on Mueller under oath.

A huge legal scandal where you actually can get an apples to apples comparison of how Bob Mueller testifies about it compared to a pear. Consider secret scandal that rocked the Bush administration and at one point boiled down to what Mueller and one other official knew about pressure that was applied potentially, illicitly to the Attorney General while he was lying in his hospital bed and how these two officials who - Spoiler, have both served as FBI directors.

How they ultimately addresses scandal when later questioned by Congress under oath so this is like perfect Muellerology. It all started out with a scene that could have been out of Bourne Identity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounding like a movie plot, it happened three years ago in this Washington DC hospital, lying in bed there, the Attorney General John Ashcroft. They wanted him to approve an extension of the secret NSA warrantless, eavesdropping program over strong Justice Department objections even though Ashcroft was seriously ill.

Even though this all happened a few years ago, the details revealed just today could spell new trouble for the current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.


MELBER: The scandal was Gonzalez trying to strong arm the Attorney General to approve a program that Comey and Mueller though might be illegal. When the story finally came out, James Comey gave a dramatic rendering of it to a rapt congressional hearing.


JAMES COMEY, THEN-DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I raced to the hospital room, entered and Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed and Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was dark and Director Mueller instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances. And I went back in the room. Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me.


MELBER: Stunned me. Comey goes beyond what happened, the facts of the confrontation, adding his reaction, he was stunned by what happened next and Comey wants his listeners to be stunned too because well, we know this by now, he`s a vivid storyteller.

So at that hearing Comey then recounts the Attorney General`s next move.


COMEY: He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact which stunned me drawn from the hour long meeting, we had a week earlier and in very strong terms expressed himself and then laid his head back on the pillow, seemed spent and said to them but that doesn`t matter because I`m not the Attorney General.


MELBER: The last line showed Ashcroft`s commitment to the rules, the Acting Attorney General in charge that matters for who`s going to approve that program or who appoints a Special Counsel, it matters a lot.

Now, Comey`s testimony was accurate and grip but if you had to rely on Mueller`s testimony to learn about that same event, Mueller being the other official who knew what went down, you get a pretty different picture. Here was Mueller`s testimony about that interaction in that hospital room and this Q&A is like pulling teeth with Mueller intent on saying as little as possible.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you surprised when you received the phone call from Mr. Comey indicating there was going to be this visit to Mr. Ashcroft by Gonzalez.

MUELLER: I think it was out of the ordinary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re the FBI Director, a senior official calls you and says, make sure that I`m not evicted from the room and I`m sure that must have struck you as being unusual request, didn`t it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you take notes from or memorialize your conversation with Mr. Comey at that point?

MUELLER: I don`t know. At that point, I did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point, did you memorialize your conversations regarding this visit with Mr. Comey.

MUELLER: I may have. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you still have those notes?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And are they available to the committee if the committee were to ask for them.

MUELLER: I would have to get back to you on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me why you decided to make notes of your conversation with Mr. Ashcroft.

MUELLER: It was out of the ordinary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was out of the ordinary Mr. Mueller?

MUELLER: Being asked to go to the hospital and be present at that time.


MELBER: This is incredible. I mean, let`s have a real talk. When a constitutional crisis goes down in a hospital room and people with guns have to protect the Acting Attorney General from the President`s counsel, yes, it`s out of the ordinary.

It`s a pretty understated way to put it. And you can see this contrast in how Comey describes the fallout from that incident and these other officials who were basically prepping a Saturday night style massacre of sorts for Bush.


COMEY: I prepared a letter of resignation, intending to resign. The next day Friday, March 12.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You believed that others were also prepared to resign, not just you. Is that correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, do you - was one of those director Mueller?

COMEY: I believe so, you`d have to ask him but I believe so.


MELBER: Comey is touting his readiness to resign there. Bush ultimately change the program under that kind of pressure and Mueller found a way to avoid even confirming this directly. He quoted Comey and then waived off requests to interpret this episode.


MUELLER: I don`t dispute what Mr. Comey says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What do you make of that whole episode?

MUELLER: I`m - I`m - Unfortunately, Congressman, I don`t think it`s appropriate to speculate. I can - I can answer questions as to what happened to the extent that I`m able to. Beyond that, I`d be happy to answer any further questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you -  can you confirm that you and some of your agents were prepared to resign because of leading up to this controversy.

MUELLER: Again, I`m uncomfortable getting into conversations I had with individuals because I do believe that individuals are entitled to my unfettered thoughts.


MELBER: Now then the tricky lawyer in kicks in because a Congressman presses Mueller on whether he did prepare to resign over this and Mueller evades it by emphasizing well, Comey`s testimony said, you`d have to ask Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he correct? Or better yet were you that person?

MUELLER: Well, I was that person to whom he refers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And were you considering to resigning? You don`t have to relate a conversation, this is just your own mind.

MUELLER: I understand - I understand why I cannot say that I do not dispute what Mr. Comey says because Mr. Comey says ask Mr. Mueller. I will tell you that I don`t believe it`s appropriate for me to get into conversations that I`ve had with principles on that issue.


MELBER: There was a central question. Mueller slices it into pieces, dances around it and says, hey I`m not going to tell you, I don`t think it`s appropriate. And this is really important for next week and the criminal evidence against the President.

Congress never got a fuller answer on that issue there so you can contrast now these two top officials discussing the same incident as a preview for next week.


COMEY: I raced to the hospital room and Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was dark and -

MUELLER: I think it was out of the ordinary.

COMEY: I prepared a letter of resignation, intending to resign.

MUELLER: I don`t believe that it`s appropriate for me to get into conversations I`ve had with principles on that issue.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Mueller will have even more rationales next week for why some answers aren`t appropriate.  Grand jury law, DOJ rules, the credible consideration that people Mueller indicted are still awaiting trial from the Russians at large to Roger Stone. 

Those rationals are legit but we also know Mueller airs on the side of less comment regardless.  Past special counsels have spoken freely, Mueller steam never did.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  If you`re the spokesman for the Special Counsel`s Office your job is to never say anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No comment from the Special Counsel`s Office.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  The Special Counsel`s Office basically never says anything ever about any story ever.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  The Special Counsel`s Office declined to comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The spokesman for the special counsel`s office has declined to comment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Special Counsel`s Office declined to comment.

MADDOW:  The Special Counsel`s Office almost never makes public comments.


MELBER:  That`s just a choice.  We know that because other prosecutors would speak out far more starkly.  Here`s a prosecutor who probed a Democratic White House and told America his own conclusions.


KEN STARR, INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, WHITEWATER:  The President repeatedly tried to thwart the legal process.  The President chose deception.


MELBER:  Here`s a prosecutor who probe the Republican White House and told America his own conclusions.


LAWRENCE WALSH, INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, IRAN-CONTRA:  The Iran-Contra cover-up has continued for more than six years.  They`re part of a disturbing pattern of deception and obstruction that permeated the highest levels of the Reagan and Bush administrations.


MELBER:  It can be done.  You can hit the president with a two-by-four after you investigate him if you want rhetorically, but Bob Mueller doesn`t do that.  And that brings me to the other thing you need to know if you want to understand the predicate and the facts for next week`s blockbuster hearing.  I`m talking about beef.

How do people who wield the greatest power to investigate, to detain, to execute, how do they act when they surrender those powers and they have disagreements, rivalries, beef with the new folks who come into office?

Well, some use their position to blast their foes in a new administration.  And with Trump shattering norms, we`ve seen some veterans of public service go after him as basically a liar who`s "worse than Watergate" and even guilty of "treasonous conduct."


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA:  When I use the term, this is nothing short of treasonous.  I`ve equated through the betrayal of one`s nation basically aiding and abetting, giving comfort to an enemy.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:  Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we`re confronting now.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI:  Those were lies plain and simple.

I`m about to talk to him about allegations that he was involved with prostitutes in Moscow and that the Russians taped it.


MELBER:  That`s one way to do it.  Our reporting though tonight is after reviewing Mueller`s 60 different times he testified before Congress, that`s not Mueller`s way which gives you two implications for the hearing next week.  The first may really disappoint those who want some kind of barrage against Trump that goes beyond the evidence in the report.

Mueller`s testimony typically does not opine, it doesn`t traffic in the rhetoric of lies, or treason, or unverified stories about Russian prostitutes.  The second implication is Mueller`s testimony is the antidote to today`s televised tweeted political fights.

He`s not just the anti-Trump in a way, Mueller is also the anti-Comey, and the anti-Brennan, and really while we`re at the anti-media.  Trump is a reality T.V. president.  He`s adept at that part.  Mueller is a facts prosecutor.  He`s adept at that part.

The Mueller Report is about facts, what they found, what the evidence shows, what the provable facts are.  That is why remember, so many people have already been charged and convicted from the Mueller probe.  It`s why Donald Trump broke the record for most advisors convicted this early in his presidency, what you see on your screen, not a record most presidents want to win.

A useful hearing here could focus on the facts on the Mueller report.  Now, be ready for critics who then say well, this hearing is just another round of the same old thing.  President Trump recently tried out a version of that talking point, it`s old news.

But the point next week will not be about the age of the evidence against Trump, it will be about the truth.  Now, I don`t know if Bob Mueller has ever listened to the rapper Lecrae but he does have some bars that apply exactly.  People say I talk about the same old thing, the reason why I sound the same is because the truth don`t change.

The truth is the Mueller Report lists substantial evidence that the president obstructed justice several times in office.  Next week Americans will hear Bob Mueller present his findings under oath for the first time, the truth as his investigation determined so that people can assess what those findings mean.

Should Congress do anything about them?  Should they impact whether this President is reelected?  Those are open questions that according to our research Bob Mueller will not answer.  It`ll be just the facts.  The rest is up to everyone else.

Up ahead, we have a lot more in our show including billionaire Jeffrey Epstein facing very serious sex trafficking charges, renewing scrutiny on the Trump official who went easy on him, and first the Trump administration ignoring a key Supreme Court ruling, undercutting the rule of law, say many critics.  Former Obama counsel and a Supreme Court lawyer Neal Katyal joins me for opening arguments next.


MELBER:  The Trump Administration was recently rebuked by the Supreme Court over the census controversy.  It`s said he was backing down and then reversed itself saying that it would still try to get the citizenship question on the census.  And that`s not all.  The news tonight is fallout over the DOJ replacing the lawyers working on this issue.

Now, the Supreme Court ruled against the administration.  The context is they basically said there weren`t good enough reasons to add the citizenship question to the census which of course controls everything, politics, resources in America.

Now, a lot of people have pointed to this story and the evidence presented and say part of the illicit goal of the administration was to basically depress participation in the census from democratic areas.  Now, the Trump administration had initially as I mentioned accepted defeat.

The Census Bureau said we won`t put in any citizenship question anymore.  But this is the Trump administration it doesn`t look all that organized because then Donald Trump overruled his own employees and said we`re absolutely moving forward.

DOJ lawyers appeared caught off guard.  One told a judge quote the tweet was the first I`d heard of the president`s position and I`m doing my absolute best to figure out what`s going on.  This weekend Trump insists it`s full speed ahead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We can do a memorandum.  We can do an executive order.  We`re looking at different things.  I believe our attorney general, fantastic man, and I think he`s got it very well under control.


MELBER:  So what does it mean when you have this much zigging and zagging and the replacement of lawyers at the DOJ?  Well, let`s learn a little bit from someone who`s held some of the most senior positions there including arguing Obama`s Supreme Court cases, former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal who also we should mention represented the House and Speaker Pelosi side in the census case.  Thanks for being here.


MELBER:  As some loyal BEAT viewers may know, you and I have this regular date which we enjoy but you were --

KATYAL:  It`s the best date of my week.

MELBER:  You are also literally the most qualified person to explain all this.  Before we get to the debate part on the census, meaning the contents, the substance of it, I`m really curious if you can explain to us in plain English what it means when the Justice Department swaps out lawyers midstream.  Does that usually happen?  What`s going on?

KATYAL:  It never happens, Ari.  And I think that`s -- the census decision already was a big deal for the Chief Justice and four of his colleagues to rule that President Trump`s rationale for the census wasn`t just not good enough which is what you said before, but also he said it was "contrived" made up.  And so that`s a big deal.

You know, we almost never here the Supreme Court saying that about any government official let alone the President of the United States.  But now it`s getting way bigger.  It`s not just about the census, it`s about the Department of Justice and President Trump`s credibility in the Supreme Court of the United States.

And the reason for that is just to take you through the backstory, 11 days ago, the Supreme Court issued this ruling saying that we have won, that the census question was illegal.  Then you know, we read the decision.  We knew we won.  Secretary Ross who administers the census read the decision said we won.  The Justice Department`s own lawyers went into court and said we won.

Only Donald Trump, the one guy who doesn`t read all that well came to a contrary conclusion and said oh no, we can still do it anyway.  And the real problem here and why these lawyers are leaving and all that has to do with the fact that the government`s top lawyer, the Solicitor General of the United States, the position I held in the Obama administration has gone to the Supreme Court five different times in January and said we have to have this all decided by June 30th.

And in an extraordinary request said, we want to skip the Court of Appeals Supreme Court.  We need you to decide this by June 30th.  Even 11 days ago, the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court that and said there was no appropriations money past June 30th.

Now all of a sudden it`s July 8th and President Trump wants to do something else.  And if he can do this then when will the Trump administration ever have any credibility whatsoever in the Supreme Court.

MELBER:  And just on that point and I`ll let you continue, the point you`re making is when lawyers go to the Supreme Court on behalf of the United States government and make a claim, they both are bound by all the obvious ongoing oath and perjury laws but they`re also speaking for the United States.  And so you`re saying Donald Trump has put these lawyers in a position where if they simply continued along this road, they would effectively be caught in a lie in court on behalf of the United States?

KATYAL:  You`ve got it 100 percent, Ari.  And so you know, the Solicitor General, I think when you hold that office the most important thing you do is preserve and protect the credibility of the Justice Department before the Supreme Court.  Every predecessor does that.

And I know there are a lot of cynical viewers out there who think our government does this or that, every Solicitor General goes to the Supreme Court for example and says, hey Supreme Court we`ve won this case in the lower courts, we`re actually wrong.  We should have lost it.

The interest of Justice require us to -- require you to rule against us.  That`s the kind of credibility I`m talking about which has been built since 1870 over generations.  And the President is just literally torching that right now and saying all of these representations that were made even the very fact the Supreme Court heard the case because of this June 30th deadline, all that no just disregard that.

And that`s why I think you see all these lawyers from the Justice Department -- and I`ve gotten calls all day from Justice Department lawyers who are saying this is horrible, please you know, help us.  You know, that`s a pretty sad state.

MELBER:  You heard from -- you`ve heard from multiple career Justice Department lawyers currently serving the Trump administration calling this you said, "horrible?"

KATYAL:  Yes.  I mean, I don`t remember the exact words but the effect of it is horrible and you know and unprecedented and lawless.  I heard the word lawless at least by two different people.

MELBER:  Right.  I mean, first of all, thank you for your reporting.  Neal Katyal, he does more than one thing.  But it is true reporting because we often talk to folks and as we all know most folks in the administration at any level, that`s a fireable offense if they said that on the record so they say it to people they trust.

Sometimes those are colleagues, former colleagues, sometimes they`re reporters.  So that right there is interesting reporting.  Then I want to as promised get more into the meat of it.  Take a listen to the current Attorney General Bill Barr on this issue.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  Yes, you know, we`ve been considering all the options and I`ve been in constant discussions with the president ever since the Supreme Court decision came down.  And I think over the next day or two you`ll see what approach were taking.  I think it does provide a pathway for getting the question on the census.


MELBER:  What would that pathway look like and since you`ve already stated some of your views, why is he wrong that there was a lawful way to shoehorn this back in.

KATYAL:  Yes.  Well, first of all, I don`t think that was quite a ringing endorsement by Barr even.  You know, when you`re the Attorney General and going to defend the President on something, I don`t think you say well, we might provide a pathway to do something.

That already shows the lack of faith in this and you know, there`s a lot of reporting in all the newspapers today that says that all of the Justice Department`s top lawyers think that this is going nowhere.  And that is of course what the Justice Department concluded last Wednesday before the President`s tweet.

Now, why is that?  Because the Justice -- because the Supreme Court -- there were two reasons.  One is the Supreme Court said the rationale that was being used was contrived and the rationale back then before, whatever they meant for the new one to be was we`re trying to enforce the voting rights act, something I`m not sure the Trump administration even knew existed before but you know, I think the Chief Justice saw right through that and said, there`s no way this -- that is a mismatch with what you`re actually doing on the census.

For them to come up with something new now is to basically admit that the game was rigged all along.  They`ve been saying over and over again, there`s only one rationale for this, the Voting Rights Act, now there`s all of a sudden a magic new rationale?

MELBER:  Right.

KATYAL:  So that`s one problem.  And then the other problem is the timing problem that they told the Supreme Court in solemn filings June 30th, June 30th, June 30th.  And now they want to do something else when they`ve told the Supreme Court they don`t have the appropriations funding.  You can`t do it. 

MELBER:  Right.  You lay it out so clearly and as you know better than most, there are many Supreme Court cases that are fundamentally close calls that`s why they`re at the court.  Hearing you break it down at this stage maybe not into the inception but at this stage with what`s going on and how they`ve really owned their own rationale, it doesn`t look like a closed case anymore.

John Roberts would never put it this way but DJ Khaled might tell the Trump lawyers here you played yourself and it`s game over.  Neal, always good to see you.

KATYAL:  Great to see you.

MELBER:  Thank you, sir.  And if you want to see this or other Neal Katyal Supreme Court breakdowns,, it`s our dedicated page and there`s a lot of stuff in there including stuff that is very relevant including some of Mueller preview stuff that Neal also gave us so you can check that out online.

Now up ahead, we have a lot to get to including something that is roiling the Trump administration because they are tied to hedge fund kingpin Jeffrey Epstein who stands accused today on charges of sex trafficking.


MELBER:  And another important story.  Hedge fund kingpin Jeffrey Epstein pleading not guilty today to new charges in New York.  He`s facing sex trafficking of minors accusations.  The indictment states that Epstein is accused of exploiting a "vast network of young girls down to age 14, paying hundreds of dollars in cash for what ultimately amounted to illegal sex acts."

Prosecutors also say they found an extraordinary volume of photographs in the New York home that will add to the evidence.  The head soft Southern District of New York saying this.


GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SDNY:  Beginning of at least 2002 and continuing to 2005, Epstein is alleged to have abused dozens of victims by causing them to engage in sex acts with him at his mansion in New York and at his estate in Palm Beach, Florida.


MELBER:  The embattled multimillionaire facing now 45 years of potential prison time.  And what we can report from the case is he will remain in prison for at least a week because the bail decision is being considered.

Now, Epstein was a rich person with a lot of high-profile friends, which include as publicly documented him and President Bill Clinton and the current president Donald Trump.  Donald Trump in 2002 told New York Magazine that Epstein was a "terrific guy" and then "he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."  That was back in 2002.

The case putting scrutiny, though, on something much more recent, a very top cabinet official in the Trump administration.  You may have heard of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.  But before he was in this job, he had the key post as the top prosecutor in Southern Florida which is where Epstein last faced these kinds of charges.  And there was an unusual 2008 non-prosecution agreement reached with Epstein.

Earlier this year, a federal judge actually ruled that Epstein`s accusers should have been legally consulted and informed of that agreement before it was made.  That alone making it controversial, among other reasons.

Now, I should note that NBC has requested for comment from Acosta.  He hasn`t given it to our network tonight.  We`ll bring it to you if he does.  But we should note that when he defended the deal at an April hearing, he emphasized Epstein did serve a partial sentence of 13 months.  We will stay on this story.  We`ll be right back.


MELBER:  One more story, America uniting in celebration of the World Cup championship Team USA Women`s Soccer victory.  There`s new video of the world champs landing right back here in the U.S. today.  They`ll be honored into a ticker-tape parade Wednesday down the canyon of heroes in New York.

The USA Women winners of a record four World Cups still make less than men.  Here are chants that rang out after this win.


CROWD:  Equal pay!  Equal pay!  Equal pay!


MELBER:  Millions more viewers tuned into the women`s world cup final than the men`s final in 2018.  Did you know that?  And the U.S. women`s game actually generates more revenue than the those higher-paid men`s games.

This was clearly a special moment and we at THE BEAT want to wish everyone congratulations.  That does it for us.