U.S. Majority backs action on Climate Change. TRANSCRIPT: 8/12/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Mara Gay, Nancy Santiago, M. Lucero Ortiz, Jaimie Nawaday

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC HOST: That`s all for us tonight. We`re going to be back tomorrow with much more MEET THE PRESS DAILY and you can catch me every weekend on "KASIE D.C." Do join me Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

Good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Kasie, thank you so much, and thanks to you at home for joining us we have a lot planned tonight.

Donald Trump under fire again. In the case of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein we have new details on how Trump administration policy they`ve actually increased this risk that this notorious prisoner has just died in custody.

And why Congress could be closer to acting on both climate change and gun control, the story you might not hear anywhere else. I have a special report on that tonight.

But we begin with a new Trump administration crackdown on immigrants, this time even legal residents of United States. White House launching a new rule today forcing people to basically potentially pick between food and their working status, because this new rule punishes people who get government food support or health care with a tougher road to legal work, like a green card or citizenship.

So think about it like this, unlike the battles over people who broke a law to be here now, we`re in a place where legal immigrants who are allowed to use these programs are basically being threatened with punishment. A rule designed to make the path to citizenship or legal status here in the United States more dependent on class and wealth.

That sounds a little funny like - wait is that what this whole project is about, obviously many critics tonight saying that approach undercuts the long-standing tradition in the U.S. immigration system that people come here for a better life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that sentiment, "give us your tired, your poor", still operative in the United States, or should those words come down? Should plaque come down off the Statue of Liberty?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Well, I`m certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: All righty then. Now that is on the legal side. As for the undocumented Trump officials are back on defense over those large raids, which came literally days after, what we all remember, what we all lived through here, one of the most horrific acts of anti-Latino violence in U.S. history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Given the emotions of the country right now, in hindsight, do you wish this raid didn`t happen this week?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The timing was unfortunate.

(VIDEO PLAYING)

TODD: Unfortunate. Well, speaking of unfortunate, we now have the picture of Donald Trump`s top border official confronted with this video. You may have seen it. We played it more than once here. A young girl scared and upset as she was stranded and separated from her father.

MARK MORGAN, ACTING COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: It`s not just a victimless crime that`s going on here. First of all they are here illegally and then a lot of times there`s additional fraud that goes with this for them to try to get these jobs in these companies. So I understand that the girl is upset, and I get that. But her father committed a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: References to crimes with victims usually refer to violence or some sort of major financial harm, hence the other victims. Not a single person taking a low-paying job in concert with an American company. Now the reference there to fraud is true as far as it goes, but that again, would apply to these American companies who also fraudulently employ the undocumented, and they do it over and over. This is a market economy.

These are companies with accountants and lawyers and executives who usually know better and who are also very rarely charged, let alone convicted. This would include the President`s own company which faces brand new allegations of employing - yes, undocumented workers.

Now there are about 8 million undocumented workers in the United States. That`s about 5% of the U.S. workforce, with many companies going back and back and back to engage in this kind of commerce, this kind of employment law.

Now in the last year, I can tell you, we checked this tonight. The feds prosecuted 11 people for hiring undocumented workers and they didn`t prosecute on a wholesale basis any entire corporations. That is quite a contrast. So keep that in mind as you watch Trump officials who don`t really have firm answers to this line of factual questioning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It seems like you guys are turning a blind eye to this crime being committed by the President`s own companies.

MORGAN: I take offense to say anybody`s turning a blind eye to someone that is violating the law.

TAPPER: There`s never been a raid, there`s never been any sort of law enforcement investigation that we can discern.

MORGAN: Well - so, you really can`t say that for sure, because their investigations going on all the time that you`re unaware of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m doing Mara Gay, a "New York Times" editorial board, Nancy Santiago, former Obama administration official and Vice President of Hispanics in Philanthropy and immigration attorney, Lucero Ortiz, who`s Director of the Legal Services for the Central American Resource Center. Good to have all of you with us here as experts on these issues.

I want to start with you Nancy on that contrast. What do you think of the Trump officials defense that, while there`s very few corporations charged, maybe there`s some secret investigation we don`t know about?

NANCY SANTIAGO, FORMER OBAMA ADMIN OFFICIAL: Unless the secret investigation is including the Trump companies, then maybe that`s why it`s so secret, but the reality is, that at the end of the day, it`s the employer.

So it seems to be OK to go after the workers in these places, because they are performing illegally. But it seems not to be OK to go after the companies themselves for fraudulent and illegal behavior of themselves. So it seems to be again back to the idea of class and economics basically.

And the big concern that I have in all of this as we talk about the illegality of it, and the reality is that when the raids happened, they didn`t happen in places where illegal activity happens. They`re happening at workplaces. It tells you something about the immigrants that they are picking up and what they`re here for.

So that`s the concern that I have. Unless they are willing to go deep into the pockets of some of the companies that are very much the Trump supporters, which I doubt they`re going to do, maybe that`s why it`s so secret. But until now 11 prosecutions don`t tell me that they`re doing any real work in that space.

MELBER: Mara take a listen on that point too, so Mr. Morgan sort of on this same issue. That seems to be a trouble spot for them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Are there any charges against the companies or the business owners?

MORGAN: It`s a pending investigation right now.

TAPPER: In the last year zero companies prosecuted, only 11 individuals prosecuted. I mean, if you focused on the companies, wouldn`t that have more of a deterring effect then going after these individuals who are desperate?

MORGAN: So, Jake, again this little third time, that was the intent of the investigation.

TAPPER: But I`m talking in the last year only zero companies and 11 individuals for the last year?

MORGAN: I can`t speak to the Department of Justice, how many cases they have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARA GAY, THE NEW YORK TIMES, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Yes. I think it`s a little bit painful for me to talk about policy here because I think this is about politics. And it is absolutely not - these are not policies being driven by reason. They`re being driven, I believe, by the need and desire to throw red meat to Donald Trump`s base.

Who, unfortunately, like they forgot what their mother taught them and they are responding to hatred against black and brown people. And I think we have a long history in this country of criminalizing African-Americans and Latino people. And I think that that`s what the administration is playing upon, and it`s really it`s bad. I`m embarrassed as an American.

And these are real conversation to have, absolutely, about policies at the border. And I think the Democrats actually allow the Trump administration far too much space to operate on hate and fear when they don`t offer an alternative vision for the country that is comprehensive.

And so if they are not telling the story to the American people about how we can have safe secure and fair borders humanely, and with respect and human dignity, then they are allowing Donald Trump to fill that void with hate mongering and fear-mongering at a time when hate crimes are on the rise and an election is on the horizon.

And I think people really need to start talking about human rights and human dignity and where that fits into this conversation.

MELBER: Lucero how about you?

M. LUCERO ORTIZ, CARECEN DC DIRECTOR Of LEGAL SERVICES: Yes. I think one thing that`s really important to remember is that the immigrant community has been recruited to very dangerous sectors like the construction sector and the poultry industry, where jobs are - they`re often exploited and jobs are very dangerous.

This is not by accident. This is very intentional. And one thing that`s important to really take into account in Mississippi, in particular and Louisiana, Central American communities and Asian immigrants rebuilt those areas after Katrina. And, again, there was a very specific recruitment of immigrants where employers - many were able to employ these individuals and we are not being prosecuted.

So, again, it really is about accountability and it is about our economy as a whole that benefits on the backs of these individuals. Unfortunately, the only ones that carry the burden are the immigrants. And at this time it is really important that we really look at all of the incidents that have happened in the last week in a much more historical lens.

For the past 30 years we have not had comprehensive immigration reform. Since 1986, we`ve seen the number of undocumented workers grow and the exploitation and fear in these communities grow as well. And so you see that the Latino community is often vilified and scapegoated in this arena and again through this historical lens.

And so when we`re seeing these attacks, the rates in Mississippi, the shootings in El Paso, these all have a thorough lens that we need to look at them through, because again. This is inaction by Congress over 30 years and now we have really the spark in the prairie fire which is this President who is stoking the flames of hatred and really anti-immigrant sentiment that has led to what we`ve seen over the last week.

MELBER: And what do you say to people who hear about this or hear about it at distance and say, "Well, OK, a lot of people are suffering, a lot of poor people are in America, a lot of people are born here and they have very little access to anything. And they ask why should those public benefits be going to people who come here?

ORTIZ: One thing that`s important is (inaudible) DC was one of 200,000 individuals who submitted public comments related to today`s announcement of The Final Rule on public charge. And one thing that`s very important is that immigrants are the economic engine of this country in many ways, and have been producing economically for generations. And so it is - it`s lopsided to say that immigrants are not contributing to the economy.

Furthermore, immigrants - as The Final Rule suggests immigrants are not using public benefits. Oftentimes, they are not eligible for those benefits.

And so again, this campaign and this Final Rule is really about stoking fear and really creating this otherness and fear of the other, so that voters and other individuals who may not have enough information or who are really going to look at the politics as opposed to the policy issues, will look to their immigrant neighbors and their immigrant brothers and sisters as the other, as competition in an economic environment.

When, again, these individuals are working in industries that are dangerous, that are often underpaid and that do need to be regulated. And again, being an immigrants in the United States does not allow them to take advantage of any of these public benefits.

MELBER: Lucero Ortiz, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it. I turn back to the panel here in New York. And I wonder if we could build on that conversation, though, because I do think there`s a lot of misunderstanding about it, Nancy.

I mean, it seems that if you were here legally - right, there is a legal and illegal line or undocumented. If you hear legally, right, then in theory, we want the whole thing to work together. If you start going down the road of having a blatantly two-tiered, two-class system, right, this is a Steven Miller idea.

That says, "Oh, well, we`re going to let people live. Oh, they are here legally. Whatever their race --", although obviously I think panelists are right to say it much of these targets Latinos. But whatever it is, "Oh now, OK, you can be here but you have to be higher class to stay or we`re going to punish you otherwise".

You`re really going back to something that we haven`t seen at least since the 65 Immigration Act under the written law which is a two-tiered system.

SANTIAGO: That`s right. And it`s still about classism, right. This is still about how we know that the folks that are coming through, that are immigrants that don`t need benefits and they`re here legally look a certain way, let`s be clear about what that is.

And so this is yet another way they were losing the argument about illegal immigrants, and they knew they were losing it. And most of Americans fear that closing the doors to a path to legal immigration of our folks is a mistake.

So more and more of the American public was looking for that opportunity, to a path towards immigration reform. As they start to lose that battle, they need to find something else to kind of stoke the flames--

MELBER: Right.

SANTIAGO: And this is it. Now it`s like, "You`re not going to get public benefits"--

MELBER: And before--

SANTIAGO: But they don`t ask for them.

MELBER: And before we go Mara, I dint want to point out that there are reports in the "Washington Post" that the President is upset about aspects of what`s been happening. Namely, he doesn`t like it when people call him racist. President Trump considers himself quote a "Branding Wizard", but he`s vexed by a quote "Branding crisis of his own how to shed the label of racist".

And "The Post" rights, he recoils from being called the R word, even though some of his actions and words have been quote "plainly racist".

GAY: Well, a racist is, as the racist does I mean. I mean, I don`t know how else to say it. He has routinely deployed racist language, racist practices, since long before he was President United States. He seems more concerned about being called something that is offensive. But is accurate than he does about actually doing something about racism.

So I would - if I were sitting here in front of him, I would suggest that he take a long hard look in the mirror.

MELBER: Yes. And I`ve got to go. But I will just add that, while the standards are low these days, treating a fundamental moral crisis as a branding crisis--

GAY: Yes.

MELBER: --always a bad sign. Mara and Nancy thanks to both of your for expertise, for you coming up for show tonight.

We have a lot more coming up, including Donald Trump`s Justice Department now under fire for their contributions to the conditions that may have led to the suicide death of Jeffrey Epstein.

Also Gene Robinson is here on Trump`s embrace of an Epstein conspiracy theory and why we`re debunking it without spreading it. We`ll explain.

Later, Roger Stone has a new feud in his Mueller case with the feds over - yes, "The Godfather". And our special report on how Washington has not caught up to new views and new moves for reform on climate change and guns and a whole lot more.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Our next story tonight concerns one of the greatest U.S. law enforcement failures in a long time. How the Trump administration managed to allow one of the most notorious prisoners in its custody, Jeff Epstein, to die in an apparent suicide.

Despite recent reports of a prior attempted suicide, the Trump DOJ removed him from suicide watch and violated policy by failing to replace a cellmate who`d recently been removed and failing to administer required checkups twice an hour.

Attorney General Barr now claims he`s appalled by what happened. But ignores the fact that he and Donald Trump are responsible for the DOJ`s prison system, and the Epstein case provides a lens for how this all runs in the Trump era.

Starved, like many other federal programs, it has been running, while missing roughly one-third of the needed staff. And while that explains part of why the ground-level enforcement was so strained, Trump is also given this short shrift at the top.

His laxed approach to federal agencies, like keeping four cabinet-level officials having only temporary acting heads, well, that approach also in play at the DOJ is Prison Bureau, which has only an Acting Director, the number two position totally empty. These are the kind of staffing holes Trump has tried to claim are some kind of positive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I sort of like acting. It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that? I like acting. So we have a few that are acting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That approach to the federal prisons does not look strong or flexible now, and this is a fitting time to note the broader problem. Of the 700 plus major roles the Trump can appoint, he`s still have the 141 with no nominee. The buck is supposed to stop with the person in charge of a department.

And if their boss leaves those posts open, than the buck presumably have to stop with the people who left those posts open - Bill Bar and Donald Trump.

I`m joined now by a former prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, Jaimie Nawaday. Nice to see you.

JAIMIE NAWADAY, FORMER SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK PROSECUTOR: Nice to see you.

MELBER: This looks like a huge blunder for Mr. Barr.

NAWADAY: It is a huge blunder. His comments about it were bizarre, to say the least. We know that there are two investigations currently going on in the wake of Epstein`s death. There`s an FBI investigation, which of course, is looking into whether there was any criminal conduct in connection with Epstein`s death.

There`s also a DOJ Inspector General investigation going on, which is sort of the watchdog for DOJ, and is looking at the failure of - to follow processes and protocols that were put in place here.

MELBER: Yes. I don`t want to put too far in a point on it. But you`re saying that on Monday, today, they`ve assigned a whole lot of new people within the DOJ to look into how the DOJ messed this up over the weekend when they didn`t have enough people working on this.

NAWADAY: Right. And, I mean, so for that reason Barr shouldn`t be commenting at all, while these investigations are pending. But to the extent that he is commenting. He should of course be taking responsibility for this.

MELBER: Well, he actually has a bit of the - I`m surprised there`s - shocked any gambling going on here and he`s in charge of everything. Take a listen as you say to what he`s been saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was, and frankly, angry, to learn of the MCCs failure to adequately secure this prisoner. We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He is the MCC. He is responsible for the Acting Director. He is responsible for the vacant #2. Do you think if there had been fewer funding and staffing shortages, they might have had a better chance to keep this prisoner alive?

NAWADAY: That`s certainly a possibility. I mean, prison staff is never the area that you should be cutting costs in. When you cut cost among prison staff, you`re putting - you`re just creating a dangerous situation all the way around. You`re putting inmates at risk, either risk of harming themselves, as happened here, risk from other inmates. The staffer put much more at risk. And this is part of the reason a lot of people think private prisons have been such a failed social experiment.

MELBER: Yes. So this has been deemed an apparent suicide at this point. If it was a suicide, why did Jeffrey Epstein commit suicide?

NAWADAY: Well, it`s not that surprising that he would have maybe had suicidal thoughts, given the lifestyle that he was living before he was arrested. He`s suddenly in a cell now contemplating the rest of his life in prison. It`s a very unpleasant place to be, a sense of hopelessness would not have been surprising at all.

So we have the prior suicide attempt here. He`s on suicide watch. He comes off suicide watch. And maybe that by itself is not so unusual. People typically don`t stay on suicide watch for very long within the BOP. But all of these other failures as well, the shortage of staff which meant that you just didn`t have enough people to be watching him.

The best way to prevent a suicide is to have this particular inmate under continuous observation. That was simply impossible for the MCC to do.

MELBER: Jaimie Nawaday, who`s worked in this very department in SDNY that was handling the case, thank you so much for your expertise. Next we turn to how to debunk conspiracy theories without repeating them. Gene Robinson is here, and we`re back in 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Taking a wider lens of the story we`ve been covering. Right now Donald Trump is on defense again over his approach to indicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. And it`s not just over his apparent suicide, this is actually at least the third time that Trump finds himself under fire over Epstein.

The prosecutor who gave up seen that lenient deal was ousted from Trump`s cabinet exactly one month ago. Footage of Trump`s own past socializing with Epstein has leaked, which casts a shadow over their relationship.

And now, yes, Donald Trump`s DOJ faces allegations that mishandled Epstein as a prisoner, enabling the conditions for his suicide, while Trump has left those key vacancies at the bureau.

Now as we just mentioned that`s a lot of Epstein problems for Donald Trump, and he`s trying to deflect from this crisis by now spreading conspiracy theories about this apparent suicide, which as I know, many believe Donald Trump`s DOJ might have done more to help prevent.

Now on this newscast tonight we`re not going to show the tweets about those unfounded conspiracies. I`m not going to summarize them. I`m not even going to mention Donald Trump`s targets, because that`s precisely the goal of this kind of propaganda to get the lies and innuendo, somehow in the information stream. Get people talking about it, get the lies repeated even if for the purposes of fact-checking.

You should know, however, that over 60 million online accounts have now been exposed to what Trump posted and he may not be a student of history. But historians have tracked the dangers of this kind of propaganda featuring heated exaggeration and conspiratorial fantasy for a long time.

"The villains of the modern right are much more vivid than those of their paranoid predecessors, much better known because of mass media." Reading the words of historian Richard Hofstadter who wrote that in 1964, today some of the symptoms are similar, may be recognizable to you.

The media of course is faster, more intense and usually can`t be turned off. Now, there is no equivalence between a sitting President`s actions and those of random or less powerful citizens. But I also want to note tonight that some Trump critics are echoing his very tactic. They`re taking to the Internet.

This was happening yesterday and today with posts that accused Trump of that same conspiracy theory, but trying to apply it to him. As "The New York Times" notes it`s a cycle of conspiracies showing how our information system is increasingly poisoned.

I`m joined now by Gene Robinson Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post". Good to see you sir.

Good to be here, Ari.

MELBER: I want to deal with this carefully, as I know a serious journalist like you does. So we`re very careful about what we`re mentioning and what we`re diagnosing. #1, what does it mean that the President jumps towards that deflection. And #2, without equivalence, but with observation does it concern you that some of the President`s fiercest critics then say, "OK, well, I know you are you know" and throw it back at him.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, number one, this is a President - this is a person who has a long been enamored of conspiracy theories, going way back to his - to his time long before he got into politics when he was just Donald Trump, the character.

He loved conspiracy theories. And is it appropriate for someone even seeking high office, let alone, occupying the office of President the United States to get into this sort of thing? Of course not. Does Donald Trump care, and at least what`s appropriate, no. Does he want to deflect attention from the fact perhaps that the Jeffrey Epstein was effectively in his custody and mistakes were made, maybe he does. I don`t know what his motive is.

But that`s deeply concerning. And it is also concerning that there would be sort of tit-for-tat conspiracy theories aimed at him. Conspiracy theories are 99.9 percent nuts to begin with. These are all made up out of whole cloth. There are investigations that have to take place and that should be taking place now. And so let`s find out what happened and how it happened and why it happened.

MELBER: Yes, and what do you think - I mean, as I mentioned, he may not be a master strategist. We don`t have any reason to believe he`s read Mr. Hofstadter`s study of the paranoid style. But he certainly has a knack for it.

I mean, as you say - you just put your finger on it Gene. It is Donald Trump and Bill Barr that left the vacancies open, that cut the funding that were on notice that the person in their custody was a suicide risk, as we were just covering, and they`re the ones with egg on their face.

And he doesn`t even think, he doesn`t hold a strategy meeting.  He knows immediately to try to get at least his base and as we mentioned, some of his loudest critics basically stirring in the same pot getting away from the fact.  The fact is they are in charge of this prisoner.  They own the mistake.

ROBINSON:  They own the mistake, right.  And so for -- not just for the president to come out the way he did, but for Barr to say well, I`m angry about this and this -- does anyone in this administration know how to say I`m sorry, know how to express regret for an obvious mistake.  This was a prisoner in your custody and he apparently committed suicide.  You say it`s an apparent suicide and that shouldn`t have happened.

So you should I think acknowledge that, and acknowledge that this was a -- this was a big screw-up on the part of your department.  And can no one in this administration be bothered to staff the federal bureaucracy at any level with competent people who see the holes in the system, who see deficiencies in the system, who are smart enough and experienced enough to know when you don`t have say, enough correctional guards on duty at the MCC or when you get mad as a problem there or whatever the problem happens to be.

MELBER:  Yes, and you say -- you say that you know, Barr uses the word "angry."  That is an aggressive emotion.  That would be something that you were angry at someone else for their actions presumably.  The word that he should seek is ashamed because his actions, it`s his BOP while he`s been busy doing all these other things.

I mean, he works weekends when he needs to write letter summaries, but who`s working this past weekend and why is the deputy position vacant, and why wouldn`t they doing more?  I mean, these are the serious questions.

ROBINSON:  Right.  I was -- I was always taught that leadership involves taking responsibility.  Taking responsibility for the bad as well as the good and then pointing the way forward.  And -- but until you take responsibility, you really can`t effectively lead.

MELBER:  Gene, I want to get you one other thing before I let you go which is different topic.  Today marks the two-year anniversary, if we`re going to call it that, of Charlottesville, and it comes after the horrors of last week.  I think many of our viewers would just be curious of your thoughts as we reflect on this period.

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, Charlottesville was a defining moment in this -- in this presidency, and unfortunately defined a whole lot of what`s come -- what`s come afterwards.  But you know, one interesting thing now as you look back -- look at the anniversary two years ago, we are now at a point where major news organizations such as mine are just flat-out describing many of the president`s statements and actions as racist, just sort of not pulling punches.

And it was not that it was pulling punches, it was just that we`re not accustomed to using that language, not accustomed to drawing that conclusion.  But the accretion of evidence and incident was such that it`s unavoidable.  And so this is now part of the discussion.

And I think you know, two years after that that seminal moment, I think that`s a healthy thing.  Let`s call it what it is and see if we can move on from here.

MELBER:  That`s very interesting coming you know, from your -- from your credentials in your perch and how that fits into what the police thing is how people think about what`s been exposed in front of our own eyes and how do we want to deal with it.  Eugene Robinson, as always, great to see you.  I appreciate your time, sir.

ROBINSON:  Great to be here, Ari.

MELBER:  Thank you.  Coming up, we have some other topics including from gun control to climate change issues that are popular with the public might actually be breaking through.  We`ll explain.  But first, why the Roger Stone trial may turn on evidence from yes, The Godfather.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  OK, let`s talk about the Godfather Part two.  As you know, it is widely viewed as one of the greatest movies of all time, certainly, one of the greatest sequels ever made.  And right now it is at the center of a very strange legal feud between Trump advisor Roger Stone and the prosecutors who took over the Mueller indictment of Stone.

The feds accused stone of witness tampering, basically that he tried to bully a witness whose name you might recognize if you follow this stuff closely Randy Credico.  Now, Mueller`s team alleged that Stone told Credico to pull a "Frank Pentangeli" for the House Intelligence Committee which is a reference of lying to Congress hiding what you knew.

Frank, of course, is the character from The Godfather Part two who played a mobster who was going to be a big witness but then in dramatic fashion recanted right when he was supposed to talk to Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was in the olive oil business with his father, but that was a long time ago.  That`s all.

And I kept saying, Michael Corleone did this, and Michael Corleone did that.  So I said, yes sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  This, that, Frank has come to embody witness tampering at least on screen.  And the feds saw that as key to evidence that goes against yes, something that is serious, the obstruction case against one of Donald Trump`s longest-serving advisers.

Now, here`s what`s new.  The feds want to show that very clip you just saw up to this jury for context.  In a new filing though, Roger Stone`s lawyers are pushing back.  They argue that showing that clip which of course is a topic Stone brought up in his text might create the impression that Stone is somehow similar to a murderous mafioso and could inflame the jury with threatening mafia references.

A couple of things here.  One, Roger Stone started the Mafia reference thing.  Two, there is other kind of mitigation because Stone claims that he was not really trying to refer to the movie and saying don`t talk but rather referring to Mr. Credico`s own habit of doing all kinds of impressions.

And as you know, what everyone thinks of Trump`s obstruction issues and these aides to him and Roger Stone, we try to be fair here and Mr. Stone may have a point because Mr. Credico does do impressions including from The Godfather.  He`s even done some when we were interviewing him on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY CREDICO, RADIO HOST:  You`re going to do a Tricky Dick, Richard Nixon on me.

MELBER:  That was a lie?

CREDICO:  He`s a trickster.  Roger Stone is a shady character, OK.  I know Roger Stone and I`m doing my Reagan right now.

MELBER:  And it`s not a bad --

CREDICO:  Well, you know he worked for Nixon.

MELBER:  He did work for Nixon.  He also worked for Donald Trump, and he has a strange argument saying no one`s allowed to talk about the Godfather references that he made.  Whether the impression defense holds a trial, well, we`ll be watching.

Now, when we come back, I have a special report breaking down some of the biggest myths about gridlock in Washington from guns to yes climate change.

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MELBER:  Now, we turn to a breakdown debunking a pretty common myth, the idea that political gridlock in Washington means nothing can get done on the big issues.  You hear this a lot from powerful interests that want to stop reform.

And honestly, we`ve been hearing it about two of the most high-stakes public health crises of our time gun violence which we`ve been thinking about since last weekend climate change.  But there`s actually mounting evidence that large majorities want to tackle both these issues even as Congress keeps sitting on the sidelines.

So let`s start with some scientific facts.  It`s getting hot in here.  And we`ve known that for some time.  Here`s a 1958 Frank Capra film warning about the climate getting warmer.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Our atmosphere seems to be getting warmer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, it`s been calculated a few degrees rise in the earth`s temperature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It would melt the polar ice caps and Inland Sea would fill a good portion of the Mississippi Valley.  Tourists and glass-bottom boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami through 150 feet of tropical water.

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MELBER:  That looks pretty prescient.  And this isn`t just a concern for scientists or liberals.  We may be a 50-50 country on so many issues, but 62 percent of Americans now say the government is doing too little to protect the environment.  That`s the highest in 12 years.

An overwhelming majority also backs a shift towards renewable energy.  Some Republicans are now urging action on climate change driven by shifting sentiment among yes, Republican voters.  And the party strategies have begun to warn this could be an electoral time bomb.

If politics is fractured and people can find their own political ideas reinforced especially online, where are these majorities coming from?  Planet Earth, from the facts and the lived experiences of these mounting heatwaves, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, the food devastation.

There is a parallel here.  I`m not saying it`s the same, but there`s a parallel to the realities of the gun epidemic.  It`s a hot button issue that can`t just be suppressed with lies or kooky conspiracy theories. 

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Harvey`s rains keep coming.  The waters keep rising.  The city is now facing an unprecedented flood event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was not flooding nearly to the extent and with the frequency that it does now

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Macpherson Bayou has been spilling over and creeping closer to her front door every year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When we have a rain event, we`re not getting an inch, we`re getting two and three and four inches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This year, many of his soybeans are too soggy to harvest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The temperature is shattering records reaching 97 degrees Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And we`re seeing homes completely destroyed, completely burnt to the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  That`s reality.  That is the reality that some politicians still deny when they try to convince the public, you, that there`s nothing wrong at all, nothing is changed, and the people trying to save the earth are the real flat earthers.

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SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX):  Global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat earthers.  They don`t like to look at the actual facts and the data.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK):  When you say this science is settled and the overwhelming scientific analysis comes to that conclusion, frankly, that is just not correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I have not seen proven -- you know, proof that it is entirely man-made.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL):  Humans are not responsible for climate change.

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MELBER:  It`s harder to claim that stuff.  The climate, the extreme weather, it`s all part of our zeitgeist now.  People are afraid of this stuff, so afraid it even makes for fictional summer blockbusters.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What you`re seeing are two actual tornadoes striking Los Angeles International Airport.  Wait, wait, it looks like they`re trying to form into one large tornado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh my God.

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MELBER:  Now, we`re not there yet.  But one house of Congress is using its power to start convening action on the climate issue.

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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  We`ve had two hearings.  It`s really the first in eight years on climate changes now that the Democrats are in the majority.

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MELBER:  Now, it`s hard to see what this kind of shift as it happens if there is a shift but this could be a rare issue where there`s some consensus about the problem out there.  There`s some interest in solutions and that`s partly because the problem, it can`t really credibly be denied anymore.

And that brings us to the other public health crisis I mentioned which has been consuming the nation last week but is really like this is a reality every week in America.  The sad number on your screen, 9,000 people dead from guns just this year.  It`s an epidemic.

Now, we don`t know if climate change would coalesce into a supermajority but we do know that certain gun safety measures already have.  You could easily lose sight of this fact that Congress isn`t the only place for reform.

There`s been a surge in state gun control laws.  And while the debate has long been stuck in a kind of a binary split about gun rights, the growing public demand for action on this is clear.  93 percent of Americans now on board with implementing those background checks.

Gun owners support background checks along with the majority of Republicans.  And some of our brightest political minds are stressing that the good part of the gun defense which is self-defense, saving lives, can apply to this issue if a gun can save a life most non-pacifists would agree, well that`s the good part.

But the problem is in all guns, it`s the guns that maybe were never designed for self-defense and aren`t being used for self-defense.  At least that`s the argument catching hold from this influential voice.

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TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN:  The Second Amendment fundamentally, fundamentally, if you think about it, is about protecting human beings.  That`s what it was written, it was about protecting human beings.  What is the good of writing a law that now protects the guns as opposed to the human being?

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MELBER:  The public opinion and policy on guns seem to have been misaligned for a long time.  Major support for gun control hasn`t always moved the needle.  We know that.  Republicans have been insulated and funded by a gun lobby.  And that divided caste among party lines between for and against has really hobbled this issue.

So take a look at this as we think about changes.  For the first time in decades, in the 2018 midterms, you had gun control groups outspending the NRA itself.  And just as with that reality that I mentioned of climate change actually happening in a way that people can`t deny and even costing people their livelihoods or lives which is hard to ignore, well in this case, the sad steady march of mass shootings has more people chanting do something which politicians ignore at their peril.

There`s the change we saw in Ohio and we covered that last week that Donald Trump talking up background checks.  There`s now Republican lawmakers and even the self-declared Grim Reaper himself.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  No matter what happens, I`m never going to stop standing up for the Constitution and that means standing up for your Second Amendment rights.  This Kentuckian will continue to fight for your right to bear arms.

Senator Graham and Sarah Blumenthal, a Republican and Democrat are developing a red flag piece of legislation.  There`s also been some discussion about background checks.  That`s an issue that`s been around for a while.  Those are two items that for sure will be front and center as we see what we can come together on and pass.

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MELBER:  That sounds like a shift.  And the point here is not to automatically believe politicians before they act, but we are seeing some movement.  In some of these gun safety bills, the debate has suddenly shifted from a traditional pro and con to what you might call people who back these measures versus people who pretend they do.

And that tells you something about where they think their constituents are and the limits of any political position that is built on denying reality even in our propaganda filled time.  There are some fact checks that require a lot of work, research, reason, informed discourse.  And that does really demand more people in our political process.

There are other fact checks though like seeing that these public health crises are real which only require you going outside with your eyes opened.  I wanted to share that with you tonight.  When we come back, there is a stunning moment you got to see from one of the world`s greatest living athletes.

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MELBER:  Turning to a huge first in the world of sports, Olympic Gold Gymnast Simone Biles becomes the first woman -- check this out -- to ever land a move that`s known as the triple-double in a competition.  It`s two flips, three full twist in the air, you got to see it to believe it.

Money.  Secures her sixth title to us championships, she explained that`s the hardest move in the world.  Others saying she broke gymnastics and is on the road to of course goat status.  Now, if it wasn`t impressive enough, check how it looks in slow motion.  Simone Biles making history here.

I`m not a sportscaster but I will tell you it looks incredible.  We have one more note we wanted to share.  If you caught any of our show Friday, you may have seen something that many of you are calling your favorite "FALLBACK" ever, our friend historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and the rapper Da Brat.  They had good chemistry on and off.  Here are a few fun moments airing for the first time from after the show.

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DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  I feel like 40 yours younger.  I feel like I`m part of modern culture.

DA BRAT, RAPPER:  She`s great.  It was so much fun.

MELBER:  You taught Doris a word today.

DA BRAT:  I did, shade.  Yes, she was like --

GOODWIN:  It`s so embarrassing.

DA BRAT:  No, it`s OK.  I`ll be happy to teach you all kinds of words and you can teach me stuff.  We can learn from each other.  It`s a deal.

MELBER:  Amen.

MELBER:  No shade.  I love the high five.  You can check out more of those kinds of behind the scenes videos at our Instagram @TheBeatwithAri for the whole Doris, Da Brat discussion.  Check it out.  That does it for us.  Be back at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow. But don`t go anywhere.  "HARDBALL" starts now.

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