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Chris Matthews at tonight's debate. TRANSCRIPT: 7/30/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Marc Morial, Joel Berg, Danielle Moodie-Mills, Ibraheem Samirah,Barbara Res>

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Anyway, the challenges of these stories that`s for sure. Courtney Kube at the Pentagon for us, thank you.


TODD: That`s all I have tonight up against the clock. We`ll be back tomorrow. More MEET THE PRESS DAILY, little post-night one on the debate. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you so much. Tonight, we have a fact check on president Trump`s race-baiting plus his actual policies. The lawmaker who took on Trump`s speech today joins us.

Also, let me tell you something, little MSNBC housekeeping, hardball comes early tonight because, Chris Matthews joins us live from Detroit to preview this debate within this hour. I don`t think you should miss it.

And then this other story, that we`ve been talking about all day, new trouble for Trump`s latest national security pick.

But we begin tonight right now with some facts. First, Donald Trump is very unpopular with black voters. That is a fact. Second, that unpopularity and the lack of supporting evidence from the White House, makes Mr. Trump`s latest defense of his attacks on a prominent black lawmaker very unlikely to be true. Trump claiming he`s actually getting support for his race baiting.

Third, fact before we broadcast any new claims from the President tonight, let`s look at policy facts about his administration, because it is currently pushing right now a new rule that would deny food assistance and food stamps to 3 million Americans.

The same rule would also operate to potentially kick 500,000 low-income children off of programs that provide either free or reduced-price school lunches. And that is a huge deal for low-income Americans, white or black, rural or urban.

And it`s precisely the kind of domestic policy that civil rights leaders and leaders of, yes, communities of color, and yes, leaders like Congressman Cummings have been criticizing, have been advocating against. This is the policy meat on the rhetorical bone of Donald Trump`s hateful politics of 2019.

It`s not just what he says it`s what his federal government under his administration is doing. And because this is THE BEAT we have a few more facts. In March, the Trump Administration pushed to slash funding for affordable housing programs in America, as well as pushing cuts to the education department, curtailing key after-school programs, ending teacher training programs and curtailing grants for supplemental school programs.

Those are government operations that are designed explicitly to lift up, to provide opportunity wherever in America from Omaha to, yes, Baltimore. And this we want to present to you in this news broadcast is the policy context for Donald Trump now defending and repeating his tirade against Congressman Cummings.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: --we have a large African- American population and they really appreciate what I`m doing and they`ve let me know. They`re so happy that I pointed out that corrupt politics of Baltimore, it`s filthy dirty, it`s so horrible and they are happy as hell.

What I`ve done for African-American in two-and-a-half years, no President has been able to do anything like it - unemployment at the lowest level in the history of our country for African-American. The ones that like the best what I`m doing are African-American voters.


MELBER: I`m joined now by Marc Morial, President, CEO of the civil rights organization, The National Urban League; Joel Berg, CEO of the group Hunger Free America, which has a lot of work that directly addresses what we were talking about in cities as well as poor parts of rural America; and Danielle Moodie-Mills, host of the SiriusXM Radio show #WokeAF. Thanks to all of you for being here.


MELBER: I have a few more facts I`m going to run through. But I wanted to bring each of you in first down the line on what we just pointed out where the rhetoric meets the policy.

MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE, PRESIDENT & CEO: So Donald Trump is engaging in a weapon of mass distraction. He`s using race to take the focus off racial conversations, hateful conversation, to take the focus, Ari, off of what you just told us.

And that is that there is no comprehensive urban policy. That there`s been an assault in Donald Trump`s budget proposals on education program, housing programs, an assault on the fair housing rule at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, work requirements for Medicaid. Draconian policy measure.

Now they align with his rhetoric, but because we`re talking about his rhetoric and his untoward attacks, these things are going to some extent unnoticed. But we notice them. We`re pushing back on them and we`re fighting that.

And the other thing, Ari, if African-Americans are calling a White House then I guess there are rhinoceroses, buffaloes and elephants roosting on the roof of the White House.

MELBER: Fair. Joel, you might not look scary to our viewers and this is your first time on THE BEAT. But what you know and what you do might be scary to Donald Trump, because he seems to want to talk about some of these problems, which I mentioned are in cities, as well as in other parts of the country, as a political foil, as something to use to incite or to demean. Rather than, I believe, the way you are working on them, which is we are a rich nation with a lot of people struggling to even get fed.

BERG: Well, there`s no question Trump and Republicans, frankly for decades before him, wanted to give the nation the false impression that everyone getting SNAP, the new name for food stamps, was non-white, when the largest number of Americans getting SNAP food stamps are white.

MELBER: Let`s pause right there.

BERG: Yes.

MELBER: So he is trying to cut the food support for, as you mentioned, something that clearly goes to - and I`m not saying we should divide up this way, but this is what the President`s trying to bait us into, a program that helps kids eat, you`re saying, the majority of whom are white and some of whom are black and the main thing that unites them is they`re hungry.

BERG: That`s correct. The states that have the highest level of SNAP food stamps participation per capita are southern states that voted for Trump. His supporters are going to learn the hard way that racism doesn`t put food on the table.

Not only are they taking SNAP away from 3 million Americans, most of whom are working, the rest are children, senior citizens, working people, people with disabilities, veterans, but they`re taking food away from 500,000 kids in school meals. Because when you lose SNAP eligibility, you also lose school meals eligibility. It is all lose, lose and his race-baiting isn`t going to change that.

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, SIRIUSXM HOST, WOKEAF: I mean, the reality is this, is that we`ve always known that Donald Trump is a racist. That his policies were going to be racist. But these people that you`re talking about, the ones that have benefited from government programs, they don`t care.

Because what LBJ said many, many years ago, if you can teach the poorest white man that he is better than the best black men then you can pick his pockets, and Donald Trump is that used-car salesman that has been going around and picking the pockets of poor working-class people.

And he`s going around and he`s saying you know what, I know that you`re racist deep down, and I`m just as racist as you are, if not more. And it doesn`t matter that I`ve started a trade war and you know a new farmer are no longer able to toil your land. It doesn`t matter if I`ve closed the factories, it doesn`t matter that I myself has benefited from putting my ties and my clothing lines into China as opposed to American factories. None of that matters.

What matters is that your whiteness supersedes everything else and you should be celebrated for that and that is what Donald Trump is doing on a day-in and day-out basis.

MELBER: And you put it that starkly. And the question then becomes is Donald Trump on to something? Because he would argue he made his narrow electoral path in the Electoral College in 2016 on this kind of race baiting, and he`s saying today it`s working.

MORIAL: Two things that are--

MELBER: And let me - for you, let me put up the next fact I promised which is, you have Donald Trump saying, "Well African-American unemployment has actually dropped", that`s a piece of this. Of course, that began here as you see, if you want to go through the history, most starkly in the turnaround after the financial crisis under Barack Obama, 9 percent after that recession.

And then I want to mention the politics. Donald Trump claiming that African-American voters are happy with those attacks on Cummings, we discussed. Let`s look at this national poll which is out, new tonight, this is where America`s at. Pollsters - we didn`t write the question, but pollsters asking Americans whether Donald Trump is a "Racist", 51 percent, over half the country, reporting back, "Yes".

After - and nearly every group of voters you find a majority, including independents, Democrats, independents, women, whites with a college degree, blacks, Hispanics, younger Americans, older Americans, just about every group until you sort, Marc, by partisan ideology.

MORIAL: So I`d say this that Donald Trump is 2016 election was predicated on lower African-American turnout and the presence of a third party candidate on the Left. Those circumstances are not going to be present in 2020.

I predict there`s going to be massive turnout, because as Donald Trump stimulates his base, he stimulates the anti-Trump base equally, the anti- Trump race, those who want a different America and want a President who unites.

The other thing, Donald Trump can`t own 4% unemployment on his watch and not on the rats in Baltimore. Mr. President, the rats are yours, the rodents are yours, the gun violence is yours, the opioid crisis is yours. The failure to get a deal in Korea and China and Mexico are yours--

MELBER: Given you are in the cities and you look at what it takes to be a mayor, which is all about accountability. You just said it, you got to own the roads, you got on the potholes, you might have to own the rats.

And you have a President here who really acts like a pundit who, if you believe him on his best day, who just woke up and noticed these things. He`s the President, doesn`t he have more power than anyone to address anything of this?

MORIAL: He has more power than anyone he shirked his responsibility and he`s acting as though he`s President of only part of America. He wants a handpick the counties, the neighborhoods, and the communities that he`s going to lead.

MELBER: And let`s bring in--

MORIAL: He is the President of all of America--

MELBER: Let me bring Danielle in on - let`s talk about the burbs for a second, OK. There`s a lot of--

MOODIE-MILLS: Where I`m from, so let`s not all pretend that only white people live in the burbs.

MELBER: OK. There you have it. We`re crushing a lot of misleading tropes tonight. The burbs, we`re told, actually don`t like this at all. I want to read some quotes from suburban women. Quote "I don`t like the way he talks about other people. I`m just ashamed to be an American right now. Of all the people of the disrespect and the lies and the stuff, it`s too much for me. And the way he treats people it`s, horrible."

MOODIE-MILLS: Yes, well, I`m glad that these women that asked their opinions on Donald Trump and his rhetoric that are now speaking out and saying, "Oh, my goodness, I had one - there was one woman in that in that report that said sometimes you just need a strong businessman and this is how this is how business is done".

And I`m saying that`s how patriarchy is done. That`s this idea that you`re allowed to be a jerk. That you`re allowed to talk down to people and to demoralize them, because that`s what it takes to get the job done so. That is them being steeped in patriarchy.

And the other thing is that, many of these women are the same - they`re the 53% that voted for Donald Trump in the first place, and now they`re surprised that he`s actually who he said he was going to be.

So I`m glad that they are waking up. But should they be applauded for it? I don`t think so.

MELBER: Understood.

MOODIE-MILLS: --and nor did - do - you need a poll to tell you that Donald Trump is a racist.

MELBER: Right.

MOODIE-MILLS: I think it`s great, because pollsters need jobs, but all you need are eyes and ears and to be able to read Twitter, so - then you would know that he`s a racist. So I think that America has to decide - and white America, in particular, has to decide how they want to show up and who they want to be and how they want to model their families, their children and their future after this President.

MELBER: Danielle, did you know we appreciate you as a guest, because you could do more than one thing. So you bring the moral clarity and the shout out to the suburbs, and a little shade for the pollsters, and that`s fine.

Now I want all you to stay with me on the panel, because one of the other big questions that comes up is who`s going to step up to Trump in person and tonight`s debate is really somewhat about who looks the part for that, whatever that means to voters.

Well, we`re going to show you something, you haven`t seen it yet, you got to, Donald Trump having to deal directly with a protester calling them out for all of this. Virginia state lawmaker basically gets proverbially in Trump`s face protesting at this speech in Jamestown.


TRUMP: Right here in Virginia your predecessors--

DEL. IBRAHEEM SAMIRAH, (D) VIRGINIA, INTERRUPTED TRUMP`S SPEECH: Mr. President, you can`t send us back. Virginia is our home. Mr. President, you can`t send us back. Virginia is our home.

MELBER: You hear the delegate there saying and we`re watching in this footage. Pretty powerful, "You can`t send us back". The sign you see there it says "Deport Hate". The person here that we`re about to hear from ultimately escorted out of event. But not escorted off THE BEAT.


MELBER: I`m happy to welcome delegate Ibraheem Samirah to THE BEAT. How are you?

SAMIRAH: Excellent. How are you? Thank you for having me, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely, we just saw that footage I want to understand and our viewers to understand, why was it important to you being a lawmaker, being able to be in that room to use your freedom of speech that way.

SAMIRAH: It was an extremely tough decision to go into it. This is a monumental celebration for Virginia - 400th Anniversary of democracy, not just in Virginia, but in the entirety of the Western Hemisphere.

And here we have a President coming in and espousing all sorts of xenophobic rhetoric, all sorts of hate. And we have here - Jamestown, Virginia that stands for essentially immigrants coming to the Americas in pursuit of a better life and in the body that which they created was supposed to be representative and democratic and upholding the values of Virginia that which we have in our seal - anti-tyrannical.

MELBER: When you when you decide to do this, you`re taking a risk. The President might come after you, which he did, I`m going to show that in a moment. Before I show that, did you factor that in? Did you think that you could achieve something by going at him directly?

And we talk about civil rights. We all know there`s a rich history of direct action in this country. The idea that sometimes doing things in the same room or in front of the building or in front of the protest is different and more powerful than wherever else we may say them. Could you could you give us some of your thinking about that.

SAMIRAH: Absolutely. I mean, something that sticks in my head is some of my mentors were telling me for every - for Martin Luther King - for one Martin Luther King there was a 100 Martin Luther King`s that came before him that struggled, that failed.

And, look, I`ve worked hard in my own life. My parents have sacrificed a lot. My family has sacrificed and faced poor immigration policies. My father, in particular, a victim of poor immigration policies in United States as federal government.

Look, the risk is unbearable to think of, what would happen if we allow Trump to just come and energize his base here in Virginia when we have an election in 2019. We`re looking to win we`re looking to flip the legislators blue.

MELBER: Right. So you wanted to--

SAMIRAH: --make sure--

MELBER: --counter him - you`re really talking about a dramatic President, you wanted to counter him with your own message that would be seen and heard. It was heard. Now let`s --as promised look at the President about you. Take a look.


TRUMP: The only problem, John, you gave the protester a 100 percent of the time and it`s - I don`t care about coverage. The last thing I need is coverage. But, listen, hey John, 100 percent not one word of the speech and we were there about the speech. The protester didn`t look so good to me. I`m going to be very nice. But you gave 100 percent--


MELBER: Your response.

SAMIRAH: Look, the President of the United States has done this time and time again where he wants to shut down media. He acts like he`s in a tyranny here. We are not progressing towards that direction. We`re going to make it loud and clear that our constituents here on the ground, as Democratic representatives, myself included, of Herndon, Virginia, that they are a diverse community that respects equity.

That wants to enable more people on the margins to uplift them, to give them good policy, to fight against aesthetic discriminations of all kinds. This is what every Democrat in the country is hopefully fighting for and this is what this is our pathway to victory in 2019 in Virginia and in 2020 all across United States.

MELBER: I`m about out of time, but the last thing I noticed is, you basically confronted him over your view and your criticism that he has been discriminatory and racist. And what seemed according to his own words, to bother him was that you took some of his media time.

SAMIRAH: Well, you know, his media time is so valuable to him as somebody who`s from Hollywood, I completely understand that to his perspective. But in reality, look, this is the time for Americans to rise of all kinds, of all types, of all backgrounds. We`re here to uplift people on the margins for the betterment of everybody across the board. Their health care, their pharmaceutical costs, their public health overall, their education. We`re here to talk about real policy initiatives that will advance America forward for the next 100 years.

MELBER: Yes. Which is - which I appreciate you mentioning is something we`ve been we`ve been discussing throughout the top of our show tonight on the day that, again, like other days, has been stressful for the body politic. Delegate Samirah, thank you so much. My thanks to Marc Morial, Joel Berg.

SAMIRAH: Thank you so much Air.

MELBER: And Danielle Moodie-Mills, all here in New York with me. We have a lot more.

Up next, Chris Matthews is here live from Detroit. You`re going to see him. And then later a BEAT special report on why the conventional wisdom about a large field for the Democrats might be wrong. It might actually help beat Trump.

Later, new revelations about this pick for spy chief overhyping his counterterror credentials in court and my exclusive interview tonight with a former Trump org executive on the President, 9/11, and why of all times that`s a time he chose to lie. I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Round two for the Democrats tonight, ten candidates taking this debate stage in Detroit, key battleground State of Michigan, of course. We`ll see Elizabeth Warren faceoff with Bernie Sanders for the first time on the same stage this year.

And I`m joined now by my esteemed colleague political expert, and of course the Host of Hardball with Chris Matthews, the one and only Chris Matthews live in Detroit. Tell us what needs to go down tonight, Chris? What are you watching for?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, you`re looking at the polls, everybody watching this show has been looking at the polls. And it`s already winnow down to about five candidates - Buttigieg at the bottom, Biden at the top, who were really separating themselves from the pack.

I would say, starting now August through the fall, with all the holidays this month off them, and then of course that Christmas holidays - the holidays then, it`s not a lot of time he`s been down February 3rd really when it comes down to it.

I think we`re going to see further winnowing from five candidates down to three. Most people would say there`s going to be three tickets coming out of Iowa. So tonight, the two people that are probably the most in jeopardy of not making that three would be Buttigieg and I think Sanders.

Sanders has been fading. Warren has been rising at his cost, at his expense right along. Biden is holding up there in the 30s. I think the future is probably Harris, because she looks very good once you get minority voters. You don`t get minority voters in Iowa. But you`re going to get them later on in South Carolina and the big Super Tuesday States a month later.

So, I think - in fact, you start voting in California on February 3rd. So I think it`s about three. I think the fight is where - can Sanders stay in this fight tonight.

MELBER: Yes. And you mentioned Sanders, I mean, one of the big questions for Democrats who care a lot about policy, and Michigan as you know, a big labor state, is whether Warren has sort of taken out some of the things that used to define him or they used to be more his turf. Let`s take a look at the two of them.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in a Democratic Socialism that works for the working families of this country. The American people deserve freedom - true freedom.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie has to speak to what Democratic Socialism is--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you are not one.

WARREN: And - I`m not. All I can tell you is what I believe, and that is, there`s an enormous amount to be gained from markets.


MELBER: So many people think of her as, obviously, progressive. What are we to make of the way she`s coming in on him on that issue and will we see that tonight?

MATTHEWS: Well, I think is pretty simple. The markets create the wealth. The government plays a role in terms of the safety net in distributing some of that wealth. Government is not going to create the wealth.

Name me a government that runs a successful economy anywhere. Even the Scandinavian states that Bernie talks about, they are free market states. They have a good welfare system. They have a good safety net. They take care of people we need to have be taken care of. But they have free markets.

Bernie`s a Socialist. He believes that government should run the economy. Listen to him that`s what he believes in. And I think that`s a hard sell for most older Democrats who`ve been through the Cold War, been through all these fights. They don`t like what they see in Communism or Socialism.

So, I think, I would say she`s - by the way about a year and a half ago, she took me to lunch - Senator Warren and she said two things to me that I think are telling right now. She said, first of all, I`m a Democrat. I`m not as Socialist. Number two, I believe in free markets. I`m not a Socialist. So ideologically and in terms of partisan identification, she`s very different from Bernie and wants you to know it.

MELBER: You said you guys were at lunch together, I`m reminded of one of the old Democratic primary Burns, "Where`s the beef?" I think that could be asked about some of the newer faces who have to go through this long process, which you`ve covered these races. Sometimes the people who look good at the beginning don`t fare as well.

Take a listen to Beto O`Rourke acknowledging sort of his own troubles thus far in the debates.


BETO O`ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I realized that I wasn`t totally seeing everything that was happening, because you`re just so tunnel vision focused on the question and your response, was so focused on my answers. So widening that focus to see the larger picture, I think, is going to be helpful to me.


MELBER: Is it harder than it looks for the rookies and is that going to help narrow the field as well?

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think, we`re going through a new face now. The face for the last year or so has been - you might call it the Hagan Dodge face. Everybody`s got their own flavor. "Oh, you know, I love Buttigieg this week or I loved Beto this week.

And now it`s winnowing. You can`t have a new flavor every week. And all these guys and women down around 1% are stuck there, because I really do think that voters have begun to side the 5 they`re watching.

They`re watching Biden, because he`s the old guy that`s been there. He`s the steady as she goes. There`s Bernie, because he looked really good last time. He won basically split Iowa with Hillary last time. The two people that are coming on, of course, are Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

I think women are showing their stuff this year. I think it - you know, we all know what`s going on. Young people, people of color, are demanding their say in this party. The days where the white guys are going to run the politics are over. Biden`s got to fight for his seat just like all the rest of them, which is plans.

But I really do think it`s winnowing now. From now till the end of the fight in Iowa, we`re going to go from 5 candidates to 3 candidates. Coming out of Iowa, I would bet on Biden still being there. I would bet on Kamala living there and I think Elizabeth too. So I think Bernie will be out by then. But I`m not going to count him out.

But just look at the projections.


MATTHEWS: You can go every week and say Elizabeth is coming. Well, you`ve seen the numbers Ari. Every week she comes up, he goes down. There`s a pattern there. If you project Elizabeth the way she`s been going, if you look at their projections and follow them all the way through, early February she`s right up there with Biden.


MATTHEWS: So I think - and I just think - I think Kamala has been the hot ticket in the campaign so far. She`s shown her stuff. She says she knows how to campaign. We`ll see. I don`t want to write anybody out, yet. But I see it - I see a pattern here.

MELBER: Well, as you say, it shows how closely the voters listen. We know they watched the last debates. We`re going to be seeing a lot of these candidates tonight. And God willing here at MSNBC, we`re going to be seeing a lot of Chris Matthews` Hardball at 7:00 p.m., debate coverage special tonight--

MATTHEWS: Thanks Ari.

MELBER: --and tomorrow night. We`ll see you sir. All right. There you have it 7:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. Do not miss this edition of Hardball. And my big shout out to everyone in Michigan, including my alma mater University of Michigan, and when we`re back in 30 seconds, a special report on the sizes Democratic field and why this conventional wisdom could be wrong.


MELBER: When Democrats step on stage tonight and tomorrow in Detroit, we know one thing will be similar to their last debate in Miami, the sheer size of this field, 20 candidates up on these stages. 23 total running.

It`s a pretty glaring feature of the early race that people know about, which makes it both a news item and a punchline.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A flood of Democratic candidates, all trying to pull ahead of the pack.

TREVOR NOAH, SOUTH AFRICAN COMEDIAN: There`s an old African saying. If you keep quiet for long enough, you can hear a new democrat joining the presidential race.


MELBER: Now this big field is not just sighted as a fact. Pundits, often suggest a large field as some kind of negative, because it`s confusing. Leaving, basically, many struggling to decide or Democrats are even quoting quote "Disaster".

Or there`s this challenge for the party`s donors, parts of the race that feel like competition within one pot. On the donations, for example, 23 Democrats have raised a combined total that`s less than Clinton and Obama combined at this point in their primary.

So as we head into tonight`s crowded debate, here are a few facts to keep in mind but the common conventional wisdom that maybe the Democrats have too many candidates.  First, it is true our brains like choices but not too many.

Cognitive experts call this choice overload and it`s actually been documented in research.  There`s whole books about the psychological challenges of getting hit with too many choices.  There`s one study that suggests we basically struggle to identify any big important differences after about six choices.

That`s why Politico has this story.  Too many Democrats are running in 2020 according to science.  And why Malcolm Gladwell the author of several best- selling books about these kinds of issues recently told us the fields too large for most people to make sense of.


MALCOLM GLADWELL, AUTHOR:  If you -- if you`re thinking about this from a purely rational perspective and you would legitimately like to know who is the best candidate or who is the candidate who most -- who best matches your own sense of where the country ought to be going, it is all but impossible with the field this large.


MELBER:  So 23 candidates isn`t the ideal number for our minds individually, but is it a good number for a party hosting a large primary.

Republican today famously large field last cycle 17.  They went on to win the Electoral College.  2008 boasted pretty large fields in both parties.  It`s quite an open race because there was no VP or top official running from the incumbent Bush administration.

Now, Obama`s path to the White House wasn`t ruined by running against seven pretty famous Dems including Biden, his later VP, or Clinton his later Secretary of State.  And while that field was not as large as this year, the competition did make for a very long calendar.

Clinton insisted on running until the last state even after Obama had enough delegates.  And back then there were pundits who said well, Clinton`s staying in would hurt Obama as the nominee.  Just like today, people worry about the large field.

The competitive primaries in those often forgotten states didn`t hurt Obama.  It might have helped which brings us to the third and final point here tonight.  The political question for a party is not whether a large primary field initially makes the decision more complicated for voters.  It does.  More choices take time.  The political question though is different.  It`s how a large primary shapes the party`s standing.

Consider a race when Democrats were desperate to win back the White House after a Republican is sullied with high crimes.  I`m talking post-Nixon, post-Watergate when 16 candidates were running in `76.  It was a highly competitive time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The race is believed to be so unpredictable than a relative handful of votes may decide the outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The closest presidential primary ever held in New Hampshire is over and Mr. Ford`s squeak to victory by a margin of 1,300 votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For the first time, the NBC News poll showed Carter making a very strong showing as a contender.


MELBER:  Few experts thought that a Georgia peanut farmer would come out on top.  Large primaries helped Carter prove he could stand out.  The abundance of choice may have helped provide more time for voters to learn about him.

So it`s not just whether there are more candidates running, it`s also what the candidates are doing.  In another year when Democrats go on to lose, `84, Jesse Jackson ran on a platform many called extreme at the time but it actually sounds mainstream now, free Community College, single-payer health care, and a rainbow coalition -- a rainbow coalition of human rights for all.


JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  A mission to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to house the homeless, to teach the illiterate, to provide jobs for the jobless, and to choose the human race over the nuclear race.


MELBER:  And Jackson proved he wasn`t politically fringe.  That year, Jesse Jackson won one out of every five votes in the primary.  He won five primaries outright and registered millions of new voters as Democrats who were tuning in partly for him.  Familiar?

Well, the dynamic is back in play right now.  This large Democratic field basically generating a large amount of interest.  33 million people watched the first debates.  We`ll see if that continues tonight and tomorrow.

You take it all together and the trends are pretty clear.  More choices are hard they can be mentally exhausting.  But that exhaustion comes from working out which is the thing that makes you stronger.  And building up a political movement can be like building a muscle.  You have to work it.  And wasn`t it the great M.C. Missy Elliott who asked, is it worth it?  Let me work it.

You know, Trump won the Electoral College after a long large primary.  If Democrats want to flip that and reverse it, they may need to get through a long large primary of their own.  Now up next, Donald Trump`s Intel Chief pick is hitting all kinds of turbulence.  We`ll explain.


MELBER:  One of the Republicans who posed some searching questions for Bob Mueller and that big hearing is now on deck to enter the Trump administration.  If you can get past headlines like this, Intel officials unloading on Congressman John Ratcliffe as the least qualified person ever nominated to this post.

Fellow Republicans are concerned and they wanted to prove he can move beyond diehard conservative persona that he`s had to protect Intel`s independence.  Ratcliffe meanwhile, burnishing his national security cred touting how he put terrorists in prison as a prosecutor, starting his work on a specific terror case, but it turns out his name doesn`t even appear in any of the trial records for that very case.

Meanwhile, NBC reporting no evidence he ever prosecuted any terror cases.  It`s a somewhat rough start for a Senate vetting for a big post.  And even in GOP hands, not every Republican pick gets through with Trump.  His last two names voted for the Fed failed to get through the Senate after new reporting sunk their nominations.

I`m joined now by former Federal Prosecutor Joyce Vance.  Nice to see you.


MELBER:  On this bit about him claiming he was involved in cases that he wasn`t, how big a deal is that for someone in this track with this track record?

VANCE:  You know, it seems to me that it`s a very significant over-claim to say that you put terrorists in jail when you didn`t.  I suspected that when the record is finally reviewed, it will reflect that as an assistant United States attorney with responsibilities for terrorism and national security he did oversee investigations.  And the fact that they didn`t go to trial might be important, it might not be.

But the reality is that even as a prosecutor, if he had been doing serious terrorism cases, let`s say he actually had been the lead prosecutor on the Holyland Case which it`s clear that he was not, that alone doesn`t qualify you to be the DNI.  Those skill sets are very different, diplomacy and prosecution.

MELBER:  Right.  You`re suggesting that he`s hyping a thing that he didn`t do which even if he did it might not be enough, which again goes to the wobbly start of this.  I was in the room with him and Mr. Mueller during that hearing.

I watched him and I thought -- I actually thought and I reported that some of his questioning was very effective in substantively reckoning with Mueller`s approach to the report even if people disagree.  It was not strictly the kind of name-calling that we`ve seen from the president.  Take a look at one moment from that hearing.


REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX):  Americans need to know this as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle.  Volume two of this report was not authorized under the law to be written.  I agree with the Chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law.  He`s not.  But he damn sure shouldn`t be below the law which is where volume two of this report puts him.


MELBER:  As I emphasize, he has every right in that role as a politician on the committee to make that case really against the Mueller report and to some degree against Mueller.  How does that experience which I think we could argue is pretty recent, right Joyce?  I remember interviewing you bout that hearing recently.

How does that political posture differ from what he would be called on to do and what would the core of his job be in this -- in this new post if confirmed?

VANCE:  You know, those comments made for good theater, Ari, but they weren`t truthful.  It was disingenuous.  He was twisting the law.  And I suspect that he knew that if he was as good of a prosecutor as he claims to be.  And that has nothing to do with the sort of independence that we expect from the DNI.

This is someone who for instance with Coats` DNI, when the president came out and said Russia wasn`t responsible for election interference, Coats was quick to say no, we`ve got direct evidence.  And that`s what the Intelligence Community needs, because the DNI is the person who leads the Intelligence Community.

That mission was created after 9/11 and this is sort of the person who replaced the director of the CIA as the individual who leads the combined intelligence agencies.  What we don`t need is for Donald Trump to place a Bill Barr at the head of the Intelligence Community.

MELBER:  All very important food for thought.  former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, thank you so much.

VANCE:  Thanks, Ari.

MELBER:  Absolutely.  We`re going to fit in a break, and then we turn to a BEAT exclusive.  Former Trump exec Barbara Res on these false statements about 9/11.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I was down there also and I`m not considering myself a first responder, but I was down there.  I spent a lot of time down there with you.



MELBER:  Congress finally acted to guarantee health care for 9/11 victims and firefighters.  This is a fight led by many public servants from New York as well as Jon Stewart who spoke tirelessly about the bravery of those first responders.

Now at the ceremony signing this bill into law, Donald Trump got in on the action and he said that while he doesn`t consider himself a first responder, he was down there.


TRUMP:  Many of those affected were firefighters police officers and other first responders.  And I was down there also, but I`m not considering myself a first responder, but I was down there.  I spent a lot of time down there with you.


MELBER:  Fact-check false and former top Trump Org Exec Barbara Res is here to break this down.  She worked at the real estate company that Donald Trump also plugged when he called into a local TV news station to discuss those horrific attacks.


TRUMP:  40 Wall Street actually was the second tallest building in downtown Manhattan and it was actually before the World Trade Center was the tallest.  And then when they built the World Trade Center, became known as the second tallest and now it`s the tallest.


MELBER:  Barbara, good to see you again.


MELBER:  I played that clip not because it`s a lie and it was not that tall, but because of the portrait of the mind that on 9/11 is still plugging things on the radio.  Donald Trump can`t help himself when it comes to 9/11, a signal event for New Yorkers, Americans in the world.  But he does really manage to overreach here.  Why is that?

RES:  You know, he`s the tremendous opportunist, and 9/11 is something that you can run with any and he has won with before and it keeps running with.  So I think he`s taking advantage of the fact that he can get his name in the paper -- well, he`s obviously on all the paper, but it`s getting you know, more momentum, bring up some stories good thing -- you know, talking about Trump was there at 9/11.

Imagine him saying I don`t consider myself a first responder.  How would anyone ever consider him a first responder?  That`s stupid statement and yet you know, he`s -- that`s how much involved I was.  I was almost a first responder.

MELBER:  Yes.  Have you ever heard of this term "humblebrag?"  Humblebrag his when --

RES:  Oh, humble bragging.

MELBER:  Humblebrag, yes.

RES:  Sure.

MELBER:  So you`re bragging and then you add something in to deflect it.  This is the closest Trump would come to pretending to be humble because in saying, I don`t consider myself a first responder, he`s injecting the ridiculous false pageantry claim that someone anywhere might have thought he was doing first responding when he was plugging his building that day.

RES:  Yes, absolutely.  And you know, I`ll tell you -- I`m going to tell you a little story.  You had a second?

MELBER:  You know what, Barbara.

RES:  Yes.

MELBER:  Tell us the story.

MELBER:  OK.  You know, we had a tragedy in the Trump Organization.  Well, there were three people, two top executives of the Atlantic City Casinos and one very high up gentleman.  And they came to New York to -- for press conferences at the Plaza.  They will plugging a fight, and then they went back to Atlantic City, and the helicopter crash and they all died.  And it was a horror.  I mean, it was a horror for everybody.

MELBER:  He writes about this in one of the books.

RES:  Well, you know, I haven`t read his book, I confess, but I will tell you this.  It wasn`t very long after that, that he was putting out the word that he was supposed to be on that plane or that helicopter and he was -- and he didn`t at the last minute.  He got pulled off the plane otherwise, he`d be dead now.  That`s a total, total lie.

MELBER:  Inserting himself in the story of people he knew, you say, and you`re sure that he knew this, he knew he wasn`t going to be on the plane.  They died and he inserted himself.

RES:  Yes.  He said look, I was supposed to be on that helicopter.  And look, you know, I`m just lucky.  And he`s making news, making himself part of the story, a very important story, and undermining the fact that people died just like he`s undermining what happened at 9/11 by exploiting it.

MELBER:  And that brings us to the other piece of this because this is such a pattern as you say.  I mean, this is not just him saying something stupid without anyone connected.  We`re literally showing that story we`ve been covering here for weeks which is whether there was going to be funding for these people who did to the valor on 9/11.

He also has claimed and I`m going to play this for you.  He says he predict Osama bin Laden.  Now, you worked at him.  Was he big and was he reading a lot of foreign affairs and doing counter-intel type research?  Did you see a lot of that?

RES:  No.

MELBER:  Did you see him with like maps of the Middle East and like hold on, I`m busy, Barbara.  I`m looking at Afghanistan.  Well, take a listen.


TRUMP:  I was down there and I watch our police and our fireman down on 7- Eleven down the World Trade Center right after it comes down, everyone who helped clear the rubble.  And I was there, and I watched, and I helped a little bit.

You know, Trump predicted Osama bin Laden, which actually is true, and then two years later, a year and a half later, he knocked down the World Trade Center.

I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down.  And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering.


MELBER:  Let me go ahead and ask you an impossible question.  Was it worse that he referred to it as 7-Eleven in that clip or that he said that Trump predicted Osama bin Laden?

RES:  That`s a tough one.

MELBER:  That`s a tough one.

RES:  I think the 7-Eleven is probably the most ridiculous, because we`ve come to know Trump and we can understand that he might predict -- that he predicted, he say he predicted Osama bin Laden, but 7-Eleven, that`s pretty bad.

But -- and again, this is seizing the moment and, you know, jumping on this is -- look, I was part of this.  This is first responder.  And now it all comes up.  It`s in Congress.  It`s a big deal.  It`s in all the papers.  Everyone is talking about it, so he jumps on it.  Oh, I was a first responder.  Of course, I`m you know, supporting this.  And you know, the fact that it went through, you know, look at me, I`m a first responder, this is great.  I really appreciate what these guys are doing and I`m part of it.

MELBER:  Yes.  It`s ridiculous mixed with offensive.  I always love you coming by.

RES:  Thanks.

MELBER:  Can I tell you something funny?

RES:  Sure.

MELBER:  We keep -- we can keep it real here.

RES:  Yes.

MELBER:  The times that I feel least like I`m on T.V. is when you`re here.

RES:  Thank you.  That`s very nice.

MELBER:  You know, because I feel like we`re just talking.

RES:  Right.

MELBER:  I hope other people feel that way but it`s like we could grab a bagel and coffee and just talk about this crazy world.

RES:  It`s a crazy world.

MELBER:  Barbara Res, I hope you come back.

RES:  Thanks.  I will.  I will for sure.

MELBER:  Fantastic.  We`re going take a little break, and then a little news.  California Governor Gavin Newsom has a new law that could actually make Trump either release his taxes or get kicked off a ballot.  We`ll hear from him next.


MELBER:  We`ve got a couple of other debate things to tell you.  One is that I`ll actually be back as part of our special debate coverage, 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight along with a lot of other folks.  I`m going to have an interview with California Governor Newsom who`s fighting to try to get Donald Trump`s tax returns or kick him off the ballot.

There is a new bill that would basically force five years of returns out.  This is brand-new news.  So we`re going to show you some of that when I talk to him later tonight.  Also, we have an interview that we are looking forward to, 11-year-old Jaden Jefferson who`s going a little viral after joining the Elizabeth Warren press pool.


JADEN JEFFERSON, 11-YEAR-OLD KID WHO INTERVIEWED ELIZABETH WARREN:  What separates you from the other candidates?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I can only tell you about why I`m in this fight.

JEFFERSON:  As an outspoken critic of the president, what do you think is the worst policy he initiated?

WARREN:  I guess it`s probably taking children away from their families.

JEFFERSON:  Thank you for joining us, Senator Warren.

WARREN:  Thank you for having me.

JEFFERSON:  And stay with us for continuing coverage of tomorrow`s debates, and we`re going have the latest from the Fox Theater.  Jaden Jefferson, Eyewitness News.


MELBER:  Incredible.  Shot out of the Fox Theater.  So we`re going get into that and a whole lot more, 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, Decision 2020 with Jaden as I mentioned and Governor Newsom, followed by Brian Williams and our whole team doing our special debate coverage.

Don`t go anywhere because one of our guests from earlier this hour is now in the hot seat.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.