KRISTEN WELKER, MSNBC HOST: Don`t miss Chuck on MEET THE PRESS this Sunday. He`ll have Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker and Steve bullock and President Trump`s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.
Good evening Ari. Happy Friday.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Kristen. Happy Friday to you. It`s been a busy summer Friday when it comes to the news - news tonight for example, more than half the House Democrats backing impeachment. Disturbing video breaking up violence right outside Donald Trump`s rally and Congress may be on vacation but facts, they don`t take vacations and it is reporting and facts have just late today sunk Trump`s latest national security pick.
So we`re going to get to all that but we begin tonight with the headline that few probably expected when Bob Mueller first testified which was just last week but feels like longer than maybe you`ve been busy like we have but tonight for the first time ever, we can report a majority of House Democrats back impeachment. A 118 members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: If a majority of your caucus wants to go forward with an impeachment inquiry. Would you go forward.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It`s not - it`s not even close in our caucus.
REPORTER: But eventually.
PELOSI: But - you know what, why we are speculating on hypothetical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Not even close. Hypotheticals. Those talking points just died. So while Speaker Pelosi is certainly working during this recess, visiting Ghana on a congressional trip along with other members including one of the Congresswoman the Donald Trump personally attacked, Ilhan Omar.
This is pressure clearly building on her, on Speaker Pelosi and the rest of her party`s leadership for when they do return to Washington. Chairman Nadler who voted to impeach back when 40 percent of the caucus was for it asserts that essentially this is already moving in a way even without what Speaker Pelosi is saying because he and others have said that the impeachment investigation has begun.
So there`s a major shift here. And while Washington is obviously always abided by party we know, there`s also signs that I want to point out tonight, that these pressures against Trump are hitting both parties.
More Republicans facing the strains that come with trying to live within this party of Trump. Look at it like this. It was just under a year ago that remember the blue wave which evicted so many Republicans in Congress, it also added gender and racial diversity of the House.
That`s part of what Donald Trump`s been attacking lately and it also removed some of the Republican party`s only minority members like Congresswoman Mia Love. She was the party`s only black woman in Congress. Well, today the news is that the only black Congressman the GOP had left after that, Congressman Will Hurd is retiring rather than running again.
As Democrats count up the ranks for impeachment, the GOP is counting up these retirements. Hurd is the 6 Republican in just the last two weeks and he has been blunder than most about the Trump era, saying Republicans need to learn. "Don`t be in a-hole, don`t be a racist, don`t be a misogynist, right? Don`t be a homophobe, these are real basic things we all should learn when we were in kindergarten."
I`ve been reading from yes a sitting Republican member of Congress. If it sounds like something you`re not used to hearing, well, this tells you something about Mr. Hurd. Now is he calling out Trump specifically?
Yes. He was one of only four Republicans who voted to condemn Donald Trump`s `racist attacks` on those four House freshmen. And with Congress now in recess, that means we actually now know something. We know one of Hurd`s last acts before announcing his retirement was to vote for a resolution which condemned and I want us to remember tonight as the context.
It condemned "President Trump`s racist comments that have legitimized hatred of new Americans and people of color" and which stated that "the U. S. House believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger and that the United States must be open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression."
Maybe Mr. Hurd knew then as he voted for that rare rebuke of a sitting President, that he would no longer be serving in this Republican Party. It appears he`s certainly already decided all that by just this week when another Democrat running to replace Trump used his spotlight on debate stage to call the Republicans in Congress to consider how what they do now could define their careers forever.
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MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you are watching this at home and you are a Republican member of Congress, consider the fact that when the sun sets on your career and they are writing your story of all the good and bad things you did in your life, the thing you will be remembered for is whether in this moment with this President, you found the courage to stand up to him or you continue to put party over--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now New York Times columnist, Michelle Goldberg and Eleanor Clift, Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast. Eleanor, do you see all these trends running together?
ELEANOR CLIFT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE DAILY BEAST": I see a lot of pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. More than 50 percent of the Democratic caucus is not a winning number in the full House. I think she still is at a point where she wants to protect the democratic members who were holding Republican districts that were represented by Trump Republicans very recently.
So I think she`s doing the right thing and we`ve got now this period of time when everybody is off in their districts and I think the pro- impeachment people are putting a lot of pressure on members who have gone home. So I think that the Judiciary Committee has Pelosi`s blessing to continue as though impeachment were authorized.
And they`re doing everything that they were supposed to do and they could dislodge some testimony from various figures in the Mueller investigation so whether they finally give the go ahead, it will be in September or October and I think it could well happen but I don`t think there`s anything wrong with keeping it as on a slow burner at this point and letting the Democratic candidates also work this out as the Democrats try to figure out who their nominee is going to be.
MELBER: Michelle, take a listen to the Congressman Hurd on all of this.
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REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): I think those tweets are racist and xenophobic. Look, I`m the only black Republican in the House of Representatives. I go into communities that most Republicans don`t show up in order to take a conservative message and when you have this being the debate, that activity becomes even harder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, yeah I mean obviously the parties are now increasingly polarized around race, right? The reason that most African-Americans are Democrats is not because African-Americans are more liberal than white people necessarily but it`s because one party is a racist party.
One party is headed by a President who throws racial slurs around that is specifically devoted to purging people of color from voter rolls that has you know, it`s kind of taking aim at the basic civic compact so that this country has tried to forage with all of its citizens since the civil rights movement, right?
Since we actually became a representative democracy. You have a President who is single-handedly devoted to rolling that back, to creating America as a state for only some of its citizens instead of all of them and so of course people who aren`t in that kind of Herrenvolk community are not going to be attracted to that project.
MELBER: Yes and Michelle when you when you say not attracted to all right, we`re speaking diplomatically, I mean we talk a lot about ideological sorting the country`s bend to racial sorting before and it`s not obviously permanent partisanship.
The Democratic Party was highly associated with racism and segregationists and LBJ shifted that and you had this resorting. The Republican Party is here as you just both mentioned in a different standing and yet what do you think Michelle, it means to have Mia Love`s departure from a blue wave.
Mr Hurd`s departure here and be left with an actual represented body. I mean this is their entire national House caucus and it will become literally all white.
GOLDBERG: Right and plus they have you know, one African-American in the Senate, none in governorships, it is overwhelmingly the party of white men and I think before Trump you had a party that recognized that as a problem.
I mean, I remember reading Ralph Reed, the head of the Christian coalition`s book about how the Christian Right needed to repent for the sin of racism, right? Repent for being on the wrong side of the civil rights movement in many cases.
You saw you know Ryan Priebus` famous autopsy, right? Where he talked about the party needed to conduct some sort outreach to communities of color and then Trump came along and showed that you could win with a straight up xenophobic nationalist appeal and the party really gave up on that.
But it`s still not clear that just because Trump did this one with this extremely flukish victory in the electoral college that it is - that just kind of pure racism is a recipe for long term success.
MELBER: Yes and that`s such an important point you raise because flukish is one way to put it, another more mathematically is he got fewer votes, not more votes than the other person so I think the coalition was--
GOLDBERG: But I think the party - the Republican party at this point only survives in its current form if it can maintain minority rule so minority rule, the rule of a minority of white people over a kind of increasingly diverse majority is now the explicit project of this party.
MELBER: Yes and that one, that`s the debate, right? I mean that`s the sorting that Trump is doing and if the people who oppose that, you said explicit project, if people in the Republican party oppose that are so sanctioned that they have to depart over it, right? That actually further polarize it although I would point out whether you want to call those people objectors or whatever, they also exist.
They were Republicans at least at one point in time. I want to say two things, one I`m going to be discussing it further with Jamil Smith who joins us as part of our special coverage today. Second, I want to bring in California congresswoman, I should say Congressman Ted Liu. He serves in the Judiciary committee, was one of the very first Democrats who actually backed an impeachment probe.
And he`s now been joined by a majority of his caucus and given that we`re really talking about two pressures tonight. The departing pressure and the downward pressure on what is the Republican Party and Trump and then the countervailing pressures that you now are backed by a majority of your colleagues.
How do you look at that? Are you here saying what took them so long? Are you saying finally? Are you saying this is going to move Speaker Pelosi or you`re not there yet?
REP. TED LIEU (D-A): So anyone who watched Special Counsel Mueller`s testimony before Congress or read the Mueller report, there are three conclusions that are inescapable. First that the Russians attacked us and the systematic and sweeping matter in 2016.
Second that the Trump campaign embraced that attack, gave them internal polling data and planned their campaign strategy around the attack and third, that the President engaged in numerous acts of obstruction to stop the investigation into Russian interference.
So what the American people and other members of Congress do with those facts, we`ll know next few months and Speaker Pelosi is going to make a decision with the Democratic caucus. She`s an amazing leader, whatever she decides, I will support.
MELBER: Part of what you`re saying is what is - what did the Mueller hearing do to move people who might not have known as much about it and most of the reaction was from people, political civic media, whatever, who knew a lot about it.
And so there was this - this kind of fixation on the performative aspect on the fact that Mr. Mueller who some of us have known and calling for a long time, he did look considerably older, he did not react all the questions the way he has before. I think for some people that was also just a shock and a reportable fact.
And yet what you`re saying is it may be that some of your colleagues actually have constituents who despite all that are closer to the underlying facts in the Mueller report which do make the President look pretty bad. I report that is a fact. What to do about it is your job. Here was your colleague, fellow Democrat Castro making the case at the debate. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks are making a mistake by not pursuing impeachment and what`s going to happen in the fall of next year of 2020, if they don`t impeach him, it`s easier to say you see, you see, the Democrats didn`t go after me on impeachment and you know why?
Because I didn`t do anything wrong. Conversely if Mitch McConnell is the one that lets him off the hook, we`re going to be able to say, well sure, they impeached - but his friend Mitch McConnell let him off the hook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: In your view, is that the best argument against this talking point that well, if the Senate`s not going to do anything, what`s the point of this exercise.
LIEU: So Ari, you`re absolutely correct about Special Counsel Mueller`s testimony. He`s not going to get an Emmy award for what he did but he did say yes and true and generally accurate to a truckload of very devastating facts about the President.
And I think anyone watching it, that`s substantively what they got and again, we`re going to see what members of Congress, American people do with those facts. Those facts are incredibly damning.
MELBER: Stay with me. I want to bring this to Eleanor and Eleanor, I want to play a little bit from the Speaker and also I want to do that awkward thing we do where I talk about a member of Congress who is also in the segment but that`s what we do when we welcome politicians to journalists.
Congressman Lieu sounds in his very respectful way like he`s not one of these people who`s going to publicly put the heat on the Speaker, you could disagree with that after I play this but I wonder what the actual realities here are in your view as a long time student of both Washington and the Democratic Party and its decision making style which sometimes seems a little different than the iron rule of some of the Republicans like McConnell because Pelosi has been saying she`s open and doing the meetings but really continuously pushing this down the road to the point where the calendar could beat her out. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We won`t proceed when we have what we need to proceed, not one day sooner and everybody has the liberty and the luxury to espouse their own position. I`m willing to take whatever heat there is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLIFT: That means she`s not going to whip the vote, that it`s a matter of conscience. She`s not going to say we`re going to all go for this or we`re going to object so I think she wants to be sure she has the caucus with her. I don`t know if you meant to conflate the President`s racist comments with impeachment.
I think actually those are two separate things. I mean what he says and he`s doing is despicable but there`s a long history of racial remarks made by Presidents and Lyndon Johnson - I want to paraphrase Lyndon Johnson said you can take the most broken down white man and you give him somebody to look down on, you can pick his pocket and he wouldn`t even notice.
Lyndon Johnson was a great civil rights President so there are some realities here about the way race is being used that are not necessarily impeachable.
MELBER: I`ll go back to you Eleanor but - I`ll go back to you but I think the point is that the Democrats, whether you call it combined, link or conflated, the Democrats have held and impede their first impeachment vote since they came in office led by Al Green in response to what they deemed racist in that rebuke which then is one avenue. The second avenue, they`ve said is this potential obstruction related impeachment.
So I would argue, I think that what they`ve been doing but go ahead Eleanor.
CLIFT: And it failed when Al Green brought it up so yes, I think Pelosi is a vote counter and if impeachment goes to the floor, she will have the votes for it to pay us and whether it succeeds or not in the Senate may be a peripheral thought because it could take a long time to wind its way through the House.
And we`ve got all those Democrats who are going to be battling it out so it could get to the Senate next year, which you know that may be perfect timing actually.
MELBER: Yes and Congressman, we`re out of time but this is not a Presidential debate but your name was referenced so you can have a final word if you want.
LIEU: Again, the facts are very damning about the President, basically we walked Special Counsel Mueller through obstruction of justice. There was three elements, at least five instances laid out in his report. He indicated there`s substantial evidence to all three elements.
The best analogy I have is he gives you a slice of bread, he puts a ham on it, puts another slice of bread on it and says to us, well, what is it? And we go, that`s a ham sandwich and we ask him, do you agree? And he says well, I didn`t make the determination because the Department of Justice guidelines saying I can`t call it that.
But everyone knows it`s a ham sandwich.
MELBER: But you know - you know, how easy it is to indict a ham sandwich.
CLIFT: I think once he`s waiting for the mustard.
MELBER: Well, we have to find out who has the mustard. A Friday night question for everyone. Really appreciate the reporting analysis. Congressman Ted Lieu, Michelle Goldberg, Eleanor Clift. As I mentioned, we have a lot more coming up. Trump`s response to the attempted burglary as Chairman Cumming`s house hours after launching another smear against America`s urban cities.
Trump also withdrawing his pick to be the country`s next by Spy Chief, mocking Mueller`s warning about Putin`s next attack on the election. A former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, Jamil Smith coming up on Trump and race as I mentioned and then later a special Fall back Friday with fashion icon Dapper Dan and our very own Craig Melvin who we think is pretty dapper himself.
I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching The Beat on MSNBC.
MELBER: Donald Trump out today with a sarcastic tweet calling out Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings basically for being the potential victim of a burglary, saying too bad and saying he was being a wise guy, context is everything because Donald Trump has been blasting Cummings, Baltimore and Democrats at his rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rage filled Democrat party is trying to tear America apart. The homicide rate in Baltimore is significantly higher than in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Does political rhetoric have consequences? Take a look at the scene outside the rally.
MELBER: I`m joined now for special discussion with Rolling Stone`s Jamil Smith. His recent article is called Trump`s racism is a national emergency. He`s been reporting and documenting a lot of these issues for a long time. What do you see is coming to a head here?
JAMIL SMITH, SENIOR WRITER, ROLLING STONE: Well, I see that that Trumps rhetoric is manifesting itself obviously you see in violence but also we see his rhetoric manifesting itself in this kind of mob mentality and I think that`s what`s really dangerous.
We`re seeing it you know continuing to spread throughout the country and really it`s going to manifest itself, not just in this kind of that you know, one off violence maybe outside of his rallies but also I think what you`re going to see outside of potential voting sites is like voter intimidation.
We`ve seemed to encourage this kind of behavior before and I think what you saw there with him talking about Afghanistan and Baltimore`s violent statistics, we see him belittling African-American and other communities of color really simply for the sake of getting votes.
We see him using our communities really for electoral fodder and there were about, I believe 309 homicides in Baltimore last year and some of which were as young as 5 months old and I think that those lives need to be valued and the President needs to value that he`s the President of Baltimore too.
MELBER: He is - you put it like that and it`s true. He`s President of all Americans whether or not he has tried to be a different type of President, his job, his oath is that as you say and then you look at what his own folks acknowledge which is, it`s nothing new, you`ve read about it and talked about it.
A lot of people know about it which is the history of anti-Black violence and terrorism in this country and then look at FBI director Chris Ray talking about this. This is Trump`s appointee on where is the violence coming from? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: A majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we`ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call, white supremacist violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: In a country where white supremacist violence is amongst the top terroristic threats, it`s really, really dangerous to have a white nationalist President. It`s untenable. So I think that when you have a President who`s not only committed crimes that we can recognize, OK?
We got obstruction of justice amongst the other crimes which have been alleged or even proven. And now we also know that he`s a white nationalist and a country where white supremacist violence is amongst the top terroristic threats, how can you stand idle and say that we`re just going to wait for the voters to take him out in 2020?
How can you stand idle and think that we`re going to have a fair election at all? You think that the Russians or whatever countries that he`s enlisting to help him are going to stand idle and say, hey, we`re just going to let elections take place and everything`s going to be fair and equal.
MELBER: And last thing I want to ask you about is the way that he uses culture to communicate. You watched the contrast with so many of the Democrats running for President and many of whom are upholding values that are quite contrary to Donald Trump.
But then you look at the heat and the entertainment value, the way he mixes this stuff and which also operates as a political shield for him to say well, maybe this or that was a joke but you take it all together, we`re going to show you some of it, show the viewers some of this in 2016.
Doesn`t look like a joke, the more you learn, the more you see. Take a look at Trump at the rallies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you seriously. You know what they used to do to guys like that, when they were in a place like this? They`d be carried out in stretcher folks. Like to punch him in the face, I`ll tell you.
Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I`ll defend you in court, don`t worry about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: And a lot of the stuff is played for laughs. I think this is where the role of the press comes in. People have to stop playing this stuff live. We got to stop playing this stuff as if it`s a joke and people have to contextualize these kinds of comments as if they are dangerous, as if they are threats.
We`ll have to understand what this President is doing and why he`s doing it.
MELBER: Yes, Jamil Smith, thank you so much for being here. Good to see you.
SMITH: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate it. Another Trump nominee is out after investigative reporting sunk him. We`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Now we turn to a story where facts beat spit where expertise mattered more than partisanship, a story where Donald Trump just lost. You know they say life comes at you fast. Well, sort of the facts because just days after Donald Trump nominated a Republican for a top Intel post, he`s out.
Investigative reporting basically dug into his qualifications and hyping his resume, many outlets reporting there`s no evidence Ratcliffe ever prosecuted terrorism case despite claiming to as well as concerns about his broader qualifications and whether a Die Hard conservative should take up these nonpartisan duties.
So security experts and Trump critics are welcoming the quick death of this nomination tonight and Trump`s stumbles here are part of a larger pattern. While some nominees do withdraw in any administration, Donald Trump is doing worse than his predecessors on this score. Twice as bad as Obama for example.
Trump has 63 nominees that have been ousted before their nominations could even be confirmed or finalized, double Obama`s rate. This is a failure of Donald Trump`s first instinct on who to hire, it`s a victory for facts and for reporting.
You know, while the press doesn`t vet candidates in order to give them a red or green light, these stories do really turn on the credibility of investigative reporting. And when the President won`t even do basic vetting, the press`s role becomes more important.
OK, so is what I just said, does it sound like the kind of an advertising for a free press which is coming from someone in the press? Sure. But on this point what I`ve just said is actually a paraphrase of something Donald Trump ended up saying while on defense today.
Sometimes the truth about Donald Trump`s own failures can come from the strangest of places.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The vetting process for the White House is very good but you`re part of the vetting process you know. I give out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul who knows his way around vetting and national security. Thanks for being here.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Sure, thanks for having me.
MELBER: I wonder what you think of Donald Trump`s perhaps stumbling into a point that undercuts his years-long crusade against the press. You just heard him acknowledged that the press` mastery of information of facts of investigations is deciding who goes in and out of government. He may be saying it as a taunt but as he -- as he actually revealed something.
MCFAUL: Well, he`s right. And I also -- again, I wanted three cheers for the Free Press too, Ari, for me. It`s a vital part of our democracy. It has been for a couple hundred years now, and this is another instance of it. But it`s also a failure of the interagency process and the Trump administration. Let`s be clear about that as well.
You know, there should be a proper vetting process. There should be a proper discussion with his top national security officials over who replaces people at you know, one of the most important jobs in the U.S. government and a job as you rightly said, that has to be nonpartisan.
You cannot politicize intelligence. We know what happens when we go down that path. And it`s just obvious that they don`t do that and the Trump administration and this is an instance of what happens when you don`t do that.
MELBER: Who do you think was most concerned about this? In other words, you have the process of the vetting and the facts and then you have where the guardrails are. And to the extent they seem to exist in Trump`s Washington, a lot of times they`re behind closed doors.
So we`re told the Republicans were basically still afraid of crossing Trump in public are privately saying either this is a terrible idea or in the case of the Senate. We might actually vote this person down and they`ll embarrass you.
MCFAUL: Well, obviously I don`t know you know, what happens behind the scenes but there is a pattern I think which is there are very few people around the president today who will tell him that`s a bad idea Mr. President.
Remember, a couple years ago, there was a different kind of team in place or a different people on the national security staff both in the White House and in prominent positions both at state and intelligence and the Defense Department that would push back, name who that is. Who`s going to say? He`s watching T.V. saying man, this guy sounds pretty good. I like what he`s saying about the Russian hoax. Let`s nominate him to be the head of DNI.
Who in the Trump inner circle is saying Mr. President I think that`s a bad idea or Mr. President I think we should go a little more slowly and look into this. I don`t know who that person is today and that leads to these kinds of bad outcomes.
MELBER: Yes, or to paraphrase you, someone who has the ability to say Mr. President that`s not an idea. You`re just saying you like the way someone talked in the Mueller hearing, fine. That`s them talking which is different than doing this job.
I want to broaden out with you while I have you to the way that our government national security and beyond is being governed right now because we have six acting cabinet members. These are people who haven`t been confirmed by the Senate, who thus don`t have the full authority or the legal standing, who are basically weaker and more at risk for Donald Trump`s pressures.
And you`re talking about the U.N., you talking about obviously the chief of staff, budget, labor, and Department Homeland Security. I mean this is not small fish stuff. And so you know, part of my job sometimes, sir, is and I apologize for it is to rehash the obvious.
But this is a person Donald Trump who came into Americans minds chiefly for the entertainment project of pretending to vet and hire people. And that I think was part of the mystique, particularly for those who are perhaps less policy, wanted and political than folks who follow the news every day and folks who keep track of this stuff for just the general population.
Well, we know that he does that thing where he vets and hires and then fires. Is it -- is it just the ultimate kind of -- the ultimate failure of all of this that that one thing that he pretended to do in entertainment he clearly is failing to do throughout now the second half of his first term?
MCFAUL: Well, it`s tragic, of course, that people had that idea that if you did this on T.V. you could do it running the US government, the President of the United States of America, one of the hardest jobs in the world. So that was just a misconception about those two different worlds.
I worked at the White House for three years for President Obama, it`s a big management job. It`s huge management job and it means you have to delegate authority to people to help you fill these jobs. And my sense is that the president doesn`t like to do that and he doesn`t really seem to care.
That`s the other part, right? He doesn`t really seem to care that the government functions. You know, he said very famously several months ago that he didn`t need anybody at the State Department because he was going to do all the diplomacy and that`s just a very, you know, to put a diplomatic lay, that`s a naA_ve interpretation about how diplomacy works, something I know well, and I would say that`s naive about how the U.S. government as a whole works.
MELBER: You said to put it diplomatically, don`t you always?
MCFAUL: Well, I have a little training in diplomacy.
MELBER: Because your diplomat.
MCFAUL: Yes, I`m a former diplomat.
MELBER: You got -- you got the joke.
MCFAUL: I got it. I got it.
MELBER: It wasn`t a good joke but you got it.
MCFAUL: I got it. Hey, and congratulations on two years, Ari, by the way. I just --
MELBER: That`s very nice of you to say.
MCFAUL: That`s fantastic.
MELBER: Thank you, Ambassador. And I will say, for THE BEAT on MSNBC writ and large, when we think about diplomacy, Putin, all these issues two years and beyond, we`ve all been relying on you, so thank you, to put it diplomatically.
MCFAUL: Great to be here.
MELBER: Good evening. All right, we`ve got a lot more in this show. I won`t be -- I promise I won`t be telling any more jokes like that. But speaking of Putin, Donald Trump making some bizarre comments. Natasha Bertrand is here on that.
And later, it is still Friday and boy do we have a special "FALLBACK." The fashion icon and best-selling author now Dapper Dan along with our own Craig Melvin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rober Mueller said last week that Russia is interfering in U.S. elections right now. Did you raise that with Vladimir Putin yesterday?
TRUMP: You don`t really believe this. Do you believe this now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said it last week. Did you raise that with President Putin?
TRUMP: OK, bye. We didn`t talk about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We didn`t talk about it. I`m joined now by National Security Correspondent for Politico Natasha Bertrand who will be talking about it. This is making some waves. Explain.
NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I wish I could, Ari. I mean, it`s really baffling as to why the President after all of his national security officials have been sounding the alarm on this for the last you know, three years still refuses to acknowledge that the Russians are interfering in the elections and actually plan to come back even stronger in 2020.
I mean, Chris Wray just said that in testimony recently, Robert Mueller, of course, said it and the President kind of retorted by saying oh well, you know, Robert Mueller didn`t seem to know what he was talking about which of course stands in contrast to everything that officials have been saying.
So it`s it raises obvious questions, right, about whether or not the president you know, has ulterior motives here and what is actually prompting him to be this sympathetic to the Russians after you know, this lengthy investigation that did confirm the intelligence community assessment from 2017 that said look the Russians did this and they`re not going to stop.
But for now, what we`re not seeing is a whole government approach to combating the interference. It`s going to happen not just from the Russians but also from the Iranians and the Chinese in 2020 because Trump really has yet to oversee a detailed meeting on this and the White House you know, cybersecurity coordinator job was actually eliminated so there are a lot of gaps to be filled.
MELBER: Yes. And the people are reportedly afraid to bring it up. This is all coming in the context of the other story today which is his Intel pick going down in flames, and that was someone who sparred with Mueller over many things. But take a look at that same day when Mueller did lay out his strongest warning on Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HURD: Is this -- in your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election or did you find evidence to suggest they`ll try to do this again?
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: Oh it wasn`t a single attempt. They`re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERTRAND: Yes. And one of the biggest concerns that folks at the NSA for example have is that the Russians are going to start figuring out and actually they already have started to figure out how to operate within networks in the United States. And of course, that creates a blind spot for these you know, intelligence officials who are not -- especially in the NSA who are not legally allowed to monitor that kind of activity within the United States.
That was one of the problems actually last year when Microsoft identified certain attacks on midterm candidates and Senate -- senators who were running for the midterms by Russians, but what was happening was that they were operating -- pretending to operate within the United States so this couldn`t be caught by the domestic U.S. Intelligence Community.
So we are facing a big challenge here in terms of coordination. And going into 2020, you know, DHS is doing all that it can but another big problem is that a lot of the states just don`t have the money that is necessary to buy new voting equipment to update their voter registration systems.
And one of the big reasons for that, of course, is because the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just recently blocked a bill that would have provided more money to the states for that purpose.
MELBER: Great point and something that has concerned a lot of people as well. Natasha Bertrand, nice to see you as always. Thank you.
BERTRAND: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: We want to get an update to you on a story that we have been covering a lot here on THE BEAT. Today an NYPD judge has now recommended the police officer who used that illegal chokehold in the killing of Eric Garner should be fired.
This is the first time that`s happened. The decision comes after Donald Trump`s Justice Department cleared this officer of any potential federal prosecution. And if you`re keeping score as we`ve been, this is five years after the video of that killing on tape became public.
Today, Officer Pantaleo has been suspended by the NYPD. His response, he says, this decision he views this "disappointing." Attorneys representing the officer and the prosecutors will meet with the judge to discuss all of this and ultimately we want to be clear it will be up to the New York Police Commissioner to make any final call about any firing. We will stay on this story as we have.
Now, up ahead and we come back, there is a new twist in Donald Trump`s very strange celebrity-driven diplomacy and claims of a hostage situation.
MELBER: An unusual case, rapper ASAP Rocky was just released from a Swedish prison today. This case has been controversial because the musician had posted a video saying he didn`t want any problems, afterward there was an altercation with a Swedish citizen who had been following his entourage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go down there! Go man!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, we don`t want no drama. Go down that way, bro. Go down that way, bro.
ASAP ROCKY, RAPPER: Look, just for the cameras, we don`t want no problem with these boys. They keep following. Look at that. They keep following us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: President Trump made an unusual intervention in this international matter after a request from Kim Kardashian. And today he`s hailing the release with this pun. "It was a Rocky Week, get home ASAP, ASAP."
Now Trump was very involved, they even sent a diplomat that normally deals with hostages to this trial. And Trump`s position in the outcome may have been on the right track. This did look like a weak case and he wanted to support bringing an American home which other presidents have done.
But let`s be clear, we know that this approach was celebrity-driven and quite arbitrary. New York Times even reporting the Trump viewed it as a ploy to get praise from traditional critics and news outlets.
ASAP Rocky, a longtime critic of Trump like on the song distorted records, he refers to this very president is something we can`t say on air. As for the case, Rocky maintains that he acted in self-defense along with his bodyguard. He pleaded not guilty. The verdict expected in mid-August. We will stay on this fairly unusual Trump-era story.
But don`t go anywhere because Craig Melvin, Dapper Dan, "FALLBACK FRIDAY" when we come back.
MELBER: It`s Friday and you know what that means, it`s time to "FALLBACK." And today we have a very special "FALLBACK FRIDAY." I am joined by the legendary fashion business icon, the one and only Dapper Dan from Harlem working now with Gucci, a man who is famous as much for his personal style as for his business acumen. I`m thrilled to have you here. And matching up with another fashion icon --
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m not getting that intro.
MELBER: MSNBC and NBC NEWS host Craig Melvin, who has interviewed everyone from Steph Curry to President Bill Clinton. It is an honor to have both of you here together at this table.
MELVIN: When you said Dapper Dan was going to be here, that was all I needed to hear. And look, on brand too. Like those sunglasses, neither one of us, neither one of us.
MELBER: Dan, we may have --
DAPPER DAN, FASHION DESIGNER: I`ve got to be on message wherever I go.
MELVIN: Mission accomplished.
MELBER: We may have to talk a little style. I would love for you to review Craig`s outfit at some point. But since Craig has done this before, I asked you first Craig Melvin, who needs to fall back?
MELVIN: Internet trolls. We`ll start with the internet trolls. I don`t know if you saw the story, Dan, but last week there`s a big story -- this week actually is big story. A young lady named Halle Bailey, she was cast to play Ariel and the Little Mermaid coming out. The original little mermaid was played by a young lady that looks like Ari. And --
MELBER: People always say Ariel looks like me.
MELBER: And Halle looks like us. And so there are a lot of folks on the internet who are up in arms. They`re like, how could they cast a black girl as the Little Mermaid, not realizing that the Little Mermaid is a fictional character, and it`s based in the Caribbean where by and large, you know --
MELBER: Well, I don`t mean to fact check you on this but mermaids do have a color. It`s a sort of a grayish blue.
MELVIN: I don`t know if that`s true.
MELBER: Yes, they`re like a bluish -- they`re like -- mermaids are like a sea creature. I think it`s weird to import human skin color onto the mermaid in the first place. The mermaid is a different animal.
DAN: A big -- a big issue is who created the mermaid?
MELVIN: That`s true.
DAN: That`s the bigger issue.
MELVIN: And I know for a fact that the mermaid itself was created by black men.
DAN: Yes. So that is a lot of substance to the story that just worth to tell.
MELVIN: I just -- also said something that may not be true. I don`t know that for a fact.
MELBER: Let me put it like this. Why is the mermaid got to be so little?
MELVIN: Like a big mermaid?
MELBER: Why is it always the little mermaid? What about the medium mermaid? I mean, I think Dapper Dan might agree, everything comes in all sizes.
DAN: Yes, everything comes in all sizes.
MELVIN: Do you dress like oversized people?
DAN: I dress -- I would address an elephant or an ant.
MELBER: So Dan, now, I put it to you. What in this world right now in your mind, what needs to fall back?
DAN: Ill form advocates. That`s a big problem today. When you see people, especially when I`m -- when I`m dealing with problems that I`m dealing with now, people who go on the internet is opening up a whole world of misinformation.
And these ill form advocates create more problems than they profess to solve. You know, case in point, the Gucci, the Gucci incident. You know, everybody`s under the impression that Gucci intentionally made a black face, but they don`t get all the information.
They don`t know -- I had to deal with this being a person in the middle, right, on the black -- on between the company and, and the community. So I have to look at issues from a more objective. But the sooner they see the black face, they go online, the advocates go online and said, "F" Gucci.
MELBER: Right? You`re talking about this sweater they release.
DAN: Yes, yes.
MELBER: It was very controversial. And you`re saying that some folks on the internet, even if they may have a genuine reaction of that looks terrible, I don`t like that, you`re saying that to solve a problem takes more homework, more information.
DAN: More information. And I think that this is more detrimental to the problem than it would be in trying to approach it if people would just get the information, if they would just be more open about it. If you advocate, show the positive and negative sides of what this issue is. And I think that`s --
MELVIN: You`d be a good journalist Dapper Dan.
DAN: You think so?
MELVIN: I think so. You`ve got an appreciation for truth.
MELBER: Before we go, my "FALLBACK FRIDAY." My "FALLBACK."
MELBER: This suit short. I think it needs to fall back because I think it`s trying too hard. If you want to wear shorts, it doesn`t need to be in a suit. Am I wrong, Dan?
DAN: Yes, you`re wrong. I don`t know where he`s wearing it, you know. That`s the coolest thing you could possibly be for every place but on T.V.
MELBER: So that could be cool with your shorts, with the -- is that cool?
MELVIN: I couldn`t -- I mean, I couldn`t pull it off as you know. I mean, you could pull it off, but I don`t like the business up top, party on the bottom thing.
DAN: If it wasn`t for the flower, I think he was trying to do something else. But that flower is saying, I want to be the coolest guy there, and that`s nice.
MELBER: And for flowers nice, leather can be good too.
DAN: Yes, that`s it there. That`s cool.
MELVIN: That`s from like circa 71.
DAN: That that would be like -- that`s my second -- that`s my third store. So that would have to be close to 88-89, 1989.
MELBER: Well, Craig Melvin, thank you for coming back on THE BEAT.
MELVIN: Dapper Dan.
MELBER: Dapper Dan and Craig Melvin --
DAN: I can`t -- yes.
MELBER: I thought The Breakfast Club was going to be like -- I thought the sharks was going to eat me up there. I ran -- I ran into the great whites.
MELBER: You know, we started -- we started with the Little Mermaid and we ended with the great white shark.
"HARDBALL" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END