Trump claims economy is "phenomenal." TRANSCRIPT: 8/15/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Marc Ginsberg, Bill Kristol, Paola Ramos, Victoria DefrancescoSoto, Jack O`Donnell, Dahlia Lithwick

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I love a good Icarus reference Chuck.

TODD: There you go.

MELBER: Does that make Donald Trump, the son or Daedalus?

TODD: Well, there you go and yes, well, if you fly too close to Trump, you burn but if - I don`t know - we could do this Icarus metaphor all day.

MELBER: I love good metaphors and I always love listening to MEET THE PRESS DAILY. Good to see, Chuck.

TODD: Thanks Ari.

MELBER: Yes Sir and we have a lot in tonight`s show. A couple of different things I`m going to tell you off the top. Donald Trump pushing a foreign government to take sides in a feud with domestic rivals, an important story. Later, Trump`s allies worrying I should say that new market jitters could undercut his re-election strategies.

I`m also going to be joined by a former Trump casino executive about Trump`s gambling approach to business and how it shows how he`s gambling in these trade wars and as if that wasn`t enough, the great Dahlia Lithwick is here live tonight on justice in the Trump era.

Now to our top story. Donald Trump asking a foreign government to undercut Democratic opponents at home. And this isn`t a story about Russia if your listening or story about Trump admitting he`s open to foreign help in the 2020 campaign. Those are two times that Trump has faced bipartisan rebukes for welcoming help from Russia.

Well, tonight it`s President Trump seeking help from Israel to retaliate against two Democratic politicians, the first two women who are Muslim women in Congress and before I even get to these details right now, I want to present you with some pieces of context.

First, Donald Trump tonight right now having done this is totally isolated. He is facing rebukes we can report from Democrats and Republicans, from national security experts and civil libertarians, from liberal Jewish groups and for more conservative U.S. Israel groups like AIPAC.

So there`s a lot of blowback already on this brand new news. And second, before I present you with the facts and we will, please, please understand this does not appear to be a story about foreign policy or national security. It`s a story about a long running partisan feud with the squad.

In fact it was just about a month ago that Trump told the recently elected women of color they should "go back" to the crime infested places they allegedly came from. Well, tonight, he has a foreign government that will now deny them entry by publicly bullying Israel`s administration to reverse itself because right here you see just last month, Israel specifically said the Congresswomen were allowed to visit and that was out of respect for the U.S. Congress.

Now President Trump urging Israel to bar Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and alleged their policy views amount to basically a disgraceful hatred of Israel so within hours of Trump posting that, the Israeli government reverses itself and gave in, blocking their visit.

Now as a technical diplomatic matter, countries may decide who enters. Israel has a law that actually authorizes the possible denial of entry to people who support boycotts of Israel and Omar and Tlaib do but foreign policy experts and Middle East experts say that`s not what this is about at all tonight.

In fact, they know that because Israel was planning to admit them and had said so on the record and an Israeli journalist is now reporting the reason is really Prime Minister Netanyahu made this reversal was because of "the pressure from Donald Trump." Which is why so many top American Jewish organizations and AIPAC as mentioned opposed this Trump tactic.

So there`s a lot going on, kind of a lot even inside the story. Let`s just take this in. You have these groups and experts who work on these foreign policy issues for a living. Some of them as you probably know are critical of these very congresswomen. And these groups don`t think this story is about foreign policy.

They think it`s something else and they think it`s dangerous and they want it to stop. They think it`s President Trump exploiting their work to double down on his long running attacks on these women of color who lead the liberal resistance to Trump. As you know he told them last month to go back where they came from.

That very attack on them earning Trump his historic rebuke by the U.S. House, the first such vote in over 100 years that declared a sitting President advanced "racism." The same attack that his own supporters repeated back to him in that ugly chant that he basked in at a rally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: When that footage went around the country, when it was on the internet, when it was on TV, all that next day, there were people who asked if Donald Trump condoned those lines. That is way too gentle a question. Donald Trump wrote those lines. He brought up that discriminatory frame. He stoked the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim fervor. And then it was yelled back.

And we know that discriminatory motivation because he ran on it, telling similar MAGA crowds back in 2016 that he was running on doing something unconstitutional. He wanted to ban an entire religion for migrating to America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is there a link from running for President on banning Muslim travel, to governing as President by engineering the ban of travel by the President`s most prominent Muslim political opponent. Is a MAGA hat red?

Tonight Congresswoman Omar notes Trump has gotten another country to implement a version of Trump`s Muslim ban noting this time against two duly elected members of Congress. This is not a drill. This retaliation is not being done in secret where there might be some alleged debate about the cause and motives. The cause is clear.

A foreign government buckling to Trump who wields the power and the might of the United States in the world. The motive is same as it ever was. It`s become somewhat normal to note the President`s words and deeds are not normal which is more of a problem than a paradox if you think about it.

It`s become common to hear the objections that Trump violates traditions. Well, tonight the experts and the neutral referees are quite clear. The Associated Press reporting Trump`s move is completely unprecedented The Washington Post reporting on an extraordinary intervention by Trump to seek for retaliation against these domestic opponents.

While Trump`s critics at the New York Times editorial board say this is new territory even for Donald Trump. I`m joined by Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco and a Presidential adviser on the Middle East. Conservative journalist Bill Kristol, Director of the group, Defending Democracy Together and civil rights attorney and former prosecutor Maya Wiley.

Good evening to each of you. Maya, is this on the level?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO NYC MAYOR: Nope. It`s not on the level and you know, Ari, you already laid it out quite clearly and if we just go back even in terms of history, right? You know we have a long history in this country of members of Congress going to foreign countries in order to understand what they think the policy positions of the United States should be and that`s actually something that the constitution of the United States sanctions.

So here, you know, where you had a Dennis Hastert who went abroad even though the White House was upset about it but the White House never went and called you know, Colombia and said don`t let him in. You have Nancy Pelosi in 07` when she went to Syria. You had all kinds - Ronald Reagan didn`t like it when then Speaker of the House Jim Wright went and started negotiating peace agreement with the Sandinistas, thanks to you know President - former President Arias.

You know, long history frankly in some of those instances even the congressional members overstepped their hand. Newt Gingrich did it when he went to Mainland China and said oh yes, don`t come for Taiwan or we`ll come for you and that was actually not the law of the land in the United States when he said it.

Nobody prevented them from traveling. They were all allowed and even when those White Houses didn`t like what they were doing, Democrats and Republican, no one stopped them. This is exactly as you said Donald Trump actually put out a tweet that said, they`re Democrats and they hate Israel. Why would we ever let them you know, - why should anyone let them in?

And it undermines exactly what we want a diverse Congress to be able to do. Represent multiple, different experiences and positions. AIPAC did the right thing and the principal thing by saying, we don`t agree with them, that`s not the point here. We want them to go see and understand what`s happening in Israel.

That`s what we should all want.

MELBER: Ambassador, you hear Maya lay out the history. Have you ever seen anything like this?

MARC GINSBERG, FMR U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO: No and I used to as Ambassador host codels and congressmen but I have to put this into some context, Ari. I mean this is all about politics as local. Benjamin Netanyahu was under enormous pressure to permit these two congresswomen to come even though just a few days before their arrival, there was a bipartisan delegation of congressmen led by Steny Hoyer and these two congresswomen refused to be part of that.

I`m no fan of the squad. I believe they were basically going to stir up a lot of mischief during this trip. However, the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu was prepared to let Israel turn into a vassal state for Donald Trump particularly at a time when Netanyahu only cares about one thing which is his ability to form a new government.

If he`s obtains the mandate that he needs in the September 17 election. All politics is local in Israel and in Israel, Trump is the most popular person in Israel.

MELBER: Well, you mention that trip, we have some footage there of the top, Republican speaking about what you`re referencing so let`s see that for context.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Had I wished that she would have joined, they would have joined all of us? Yes. Join the other freshmen as well and that we see it together and when we work on these issues as one body, we have the same experiences that we`re looking through but I think it`s healthy that all members come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And staying as you - as you said there may be good faith or strong disagreements about the underlying policy but there`s something you don`t see every day which is Kevin McCarthy saying, yes, of course, the squad can still come, whether or not down Donald Trump has beef with them.

Today now it`s all been inverted and so Bill Kristol, is this a story about foreign policy or is this a story about Donald Trump?

BILL KRISTOL, CONSERVATIVE JOURNALIST & DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: I mean I think it`s very unfortunate that the Prime Minister of Israel buckled to Donald Trump. It`s ridiculous, they`re Muslim members obviously. The Israeli can - lot of their views are not that different honestly from those of these American representatives. In any case they are representatives of our Congress and Israel has a long tradition of welcoming such people when they don`t agree with particular policies or even somewhat hostile to the state as a whole.

And I`m not saying whether these people are or not but so it`s a very unfortunate thing for Israel. It`s unfortunate for the U.S. - Israel relationship. I think Netanyahu in my opinion, shouldn`t have buckled but the instant question why did he. Ron Dermer is the Ambassador of Israel to Washington.

He is very close to the Prime Minister. He was his Chief of Staff for the fact for about 4 or 5 years, then he was sent here, this obviously by far the most sensitive diplomatic post for an Israeli to occupy. Ron Dermer said, it was a week or two ago, you showed the quote, right?

That look, we`re going to welcome them, they`re members of Congress. It`s very important for us to do that. What happened? What happened? I don`t think it was just a tweet. I mean, Netanyahu is a very tough and savvy politician. If he watches - try - watches Trump, he`s gotten along well with Trump, too well in my opinion.

It`s hurt her the sense of support for Israel here by you know being excessively solicited to Trump but you understand, he`s a Prime Minister of a small country that depends on the U.S. -Israel relationship. He can see a tweet, he can see Trump trying to capitalize on this but he can also say you know what, my hands are tied.

We have a legal system here, we have a long tradition. I disapprove of these. I`m not going to meet them personally as Prime Minister but of course they can come like anyone else can come to Israel unless they`re you know, going to cause actual violence and damage which there`s no evidence was going to be the case this time.

So why - why didn`t he do it? What arm - how much arm twisting was there by Trump by Trump`s Ambassador to Israel? That`s my question. Netanyahu is not a weakling you know, and I don`t think he would just do it.

MELBER: No, I don`t think that is true and I have a the part of the answer which is something that the three of us - the three of you and the four of us have to covered which is when you look at the attempted alleged obstruction by Donald Trump, Twitter was a tool in it but it was almost rarely used alone as a template.

We know from the exhaustive account of the Mueller report, and other good journalism that it would figure into a much larger pattern. Legally that`s generally considered bad because it speaks to someone`s malicious intent. Here everyone is saying this is bad but people can judge that for themselves but it`s certainly speaks to a larger drum beat and to Bill`s point, I want to show some of the - some of the reporting out of Israel.

Netanyahu`s national security adviser who had asked different government agencies for their opinion on whether Omar and Tlaib should enter. That request was deemed strange because relevant government agencies already said last week they supported letting them in. The reporting being that this had been going on for at least two days at the highest levels of the Israeli government against what is supposed to be Bill, their nonpartisan policy.

Would suggest that the U.S. pressure began privately by Trump before the tweet.

KRISTOL: It`s something Congress should look into I think. To John Bolton Colter, other Trump operatives, either political ones or government ones but did Mike Pompeo say about this? I mean, this is a major problem I think for our relationship with a very close ally and that`s going to damage that relationship.

It`s going to make one of the two major political parties, the Democrats feel that Israel is not treating Democratic members of Congress with proper respect and with some justice unfortunately.

GINSBERG: Ari--

KRISTOL: And so how did this happen? What happened here? I think that`s really from the U.S. government point of view.

MELBER: Let me go to the Ambassador then Maya. Yes.

GINSBERG: I just want to add here is that you know, you have a U.S. ambassador that`s more of an agent for Israel in the United States that is Friedman, the ambassador of United States in Israel. Now he put out in the most incredible statement defending what essentially was the effort to bar these congresswomen. I guess - it`s just unbelievable that Friedman is permitted to in effect be the behind the scenes lobbyist for Trump and the White House.

I guarantee you that Friedman had a lot to do with convincing the Israeli government to bar these two members of Congress.

WILEY: I think at the end of day, these are the right questions and the right concerns except what it really comes down to is Donald Trump is willing to use every lever of government for his own personal interests and advancement and that`s not why we elect Presidents.

MELBER: Maya Wiley, Bill Kristol, Marc Ginsberg on the big story. Thank you, each of you. Coming up, Donald Trump`s own supporters warning that mishandling the economy could cost re-election. Later, an exclusive interviews with the former from casino exec who some of these bad bets back in the day first-hand.

And later tonight Bernie Sanders sits down and takes the questions from none other than Cardi B. And Trump`s former campaign manager getting subpoenaed in the House impeachment probe plus a judge rebuking the Trump administration`s treatment of immigrant children.

Paola Ramos is here on that one when we`re back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: The Trump administration`s immigration raids are driving a surge in the number of migrants being held in the southern United States. A new figure has shown they`ve quadrupled. NBC`s Morgan Radford has new reporting on how different states are turning to private companies and new facilities to manage the influx.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN RADFORD, HOST, NBC: This is Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi. A private prison now contracted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It`s one of more than a dozen such facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi now holding more than 8000 ICE detainees according to new data shared by ICE with NBC news.

That number has almost quadrupled in just over a year, making it the largest population of ICE detainees now outside of Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, this is a fight the administration wants to have. Top officials as you may have heard, claiming the Statue of Liberty poem should be re-written and that it only referred to Europeans. Meanwhile, advocates fighting back. 13 states now suing Trump over this new rule targeting immigration by poor people and those suits can matter.

Trump has seen several immigration plans narrowed or blocked in the course when the first travel ban, the sanctuary cities policy, to this new rebuke. Today, a federal court ruling the basics like soap and sleep are indeed necessary for migrant safety and that Trump officials were wrong to claim otherwise.

I`m joined now by Paola Ramos, a former campaign aide to Clinton and host of Vices LatinX and Victoria Defrancesco Soto, Professor at the University of Texas. Good to see you both. Paola, what do you think is key here in the new rulings and the exploding population?

PAOLA RAMOS, HOST, VICE`S LATINX: More than anything I think that we need to understand that this is happening constantly, right? What we saw today in Louisiana, what we`re seeing in Mississippi, that`s happening everywhere, right?

This is happening in our backyard. What`s important that everyone understands is that after the story, the humanitarian crisis is no longer just a U.S. Mexico border crisis, it`s no longer just a Texas crisis, it`s no longer just Arizona crisis. This is happening everywhere. Every single state in this country has at least two facilities where ICE is detaining immigrants.

So this isn`t just a them crisis, this is our crisis so this is just something that we have to internalize as we continue to report on these stories.

MELBER: Professor.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: What we`re seeing in the South is an explosion detention forces. Giving a little bit of a background here Ari, the south is seeing the fastest population growth of Latinos in the last decade, growing over 33 percent.

So what we`re seeing is the public in the south reacting very negatively to it, this is where we see some of the most strident anti-immigrant rhetoric, anti-immigrant sentiment and then we see the follow through of these detention centers and where this is particularly dangerous and what worries me is that even though we see almost as many detention facilities, private detention facilities as we do in a Texas.

At least in Texas we have organizations that have been around for decades, that are advocating for the rights of immigrants, for human rights that have established contacts, from RAICES to the Grassroots leadership network and they can help folks. I mean, the need is very great but we at least have those resources.

When you`re Mississippis, you`re Louisianas, you don`t have that so it is very scary that these folks are essentially in black holes in these places in the Deep South and we need to figure out a way, how do we get to these folks and give them the human rights protections that they need and are legally entitled to.

MELBER: Yes and Paola, take a listen to Morgan Radford talking to some of these folks. We just mentioned how do you get these folks who we`re hearing from some of them as you have these larger discussions about what does it even mean. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RADFORD: You came looking for liberty because supposedly this is supposed to be the country of freedom.

If you had a message for your brother, what would it be? That you`re fighting for him and you`re going to keep fighting for him until he`s able to stay here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAMOS: So what we just saw is perfect because it exposes the hypocrisy that we`re living. Why? Because she`s talking about a Cuban doctor who came to this country seeking asylum and instead of being in this country is right has been almost 10 months in a detention facility.

Now, on paper that man that that woman just described is the perfect immigrant the Donald Trump wants. Why? Because he`s a doctor. He`s self- sufficient. He`s someone - he`s a prominent figure on paper. In reality he`s a black man. He`s an Afro-Cuban and that is why under this administration, under our watch, he`s currently in a black hole completely forgotten and can no longer be a doctor.

So that is why that image was so important because that is the perfect hypocrisy of what we`re seeing right now. That unless you are white, they do not care about you.

MELBER: Right and that there are so many Victoria, there are so many clues, proofs, evidence of what that is and it wasn`t until this week that you could say at least formally on paper that that the Trump administration was also doing economic discrimination. I mean, you could alleged but now you have this rule that`s going to be debated in the courts.

I`m reading from one of these new lawsuits that basically said, it`s a totally radical overhaul, it transforms the system that was supposed to promote economic mobility among immigrants and really frankly among everyone into one that advantages immigrants with wealth.

How much of a shift is that and do you think it will survive court challenge?

DEFRANCESCO SOTO: It is a huge shift, Ari. I`m not a legal scholar. I will defer to my colleagues over the law school for that but we do know that that bureaucratic administrative role was put into place about a year and a half ago. There was the review session. The comments section.

So they did follow the steps that are necessary for these rule changes. We`ll see if it holds up in court but in terms of political strategy I mean, this was Machiavellian genius. The Trump administration has been wanting to do away with family based immigration. They can`t get it done through Congress.

They can`t really get it down to executive order but they can chip away at family based immigration with these rule changes so that is going to have a massive effect but at the end of the day, it hurts us as a country not just hurts us in terms of who we`re as a country, what the Statue of Liberty says but we need these workers.

We have a declining birth rate for American whites. Who is going to take care of us? Who is going to take care and pay into social security when we`re older?

MELBER: Victoria and Paola, my thanks to both of you. Up ahead, there is news on Jeffrey Epstein`s autopsy raising more questions about the Trump administration. Dahlia Lithwick is here and first, Donald Trump`s gamble on the economy and gambling on failed casinos.

I actually have an exclusive interview coming up next with this man, a former Trump casino executive when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Tonight the market`s rebounding from its worst day of the year so far with Rupert Murdoch on Wall Street journal still reporting, there are warning signs that point to a larger global slowdown and fears of recession. Now a slowdown usually had several factors.

Economists though say one of them right now could be Trump barrelling forward with this China trade war, threatening, deploying tariffs, sometimes backing off the tariffs. It`s a kind of gamblous approach to international trade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think they`re right now hurting, the tariffs, they`re killing them. In the meantime they`re paying us billions and billions of dollars of tariffs which is fine with me.

And we put tariffs on China, very big tariffs on China.

A lot of companies are leaving China because they don`t want to pay the tariffs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now even some of Trump`s closest ally sounding alarms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huge problem. If the economy goes into recession, Donald Trump`s going to have a hard time being re-elected. People, Trump supporters got to pay attention to this, President I know, I know is all over it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: One source close to Trump saying a lot of us are concerned. Without the narrative on the economy, he can`t win. I`m about to be joined by Jack O`Donnell, former President of Trump`s Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic city. He knows all about the gambles Trump has taken including his own business practices some of which led Donald Trump hotels and casinos into the famed bankruptcies.

Trump no longer technically running those businesses but he`s running, he says the U.S. economy which impacts everyone and his words and his approach to how to solve these problems, well, could be more important than even any gambling at one of those casinos.

Now here`s Jack O`Donnell, the author of Trumped: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump. How you doing?

JACK O`DONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT, TRUMP`S PLAZA HOTEL AND CASINO: I`m doing great, Ari. Thanks for having me on tonight.

MELBER: Great to have you. You`ve been there, done that. You`re an insider. Number one, how strong is his long term business planning because this is about more than day trading and number 2, do you recognize any echoes of the gambling in the way he`s just kind of improvising these trade wars?

O`DONNELL: Well, I think you have to understand first off, there really is no strategy and I think one of the cons Ari, when we elected a businessman as the President is that he would bring some discipline and perhaps some real strategy to the government and obviously how we operate internationally.

Well, Trump really has never had that capability. He wasn`t strategic in his business. He was -- people are now calling a transactional.  It was really just the thought of the day.  He did things on the spur of the moment.  He bought the Taj Mahal because it was the biggest.  He bought an airline because he always wanted to own an airline.

He didn`t bring any economic discipline to how he operated the business and he had no strategy to really grow the business.  So it`s pretty -- it`s pretty obvious at this point that he`s operating today, the government, in the exact same manner.  He just has an idea and he implements it.

Ideas like I`m just going to reduce taxes for the rich so he does it, thinking that that`s going to be -- solve all the problems.  He wants to get out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership just because he never really liked it.  It`s not part of a strategy.  It`s just things that Donald Trump wants to do.

MELBER:  You know, a lot of this uses different frames and the frames we have in our mind, of course, influence a lot.  He famously talked about it in the deals as you know.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`ve watched the politicians, I`ve dealt with them all my life.  If you can`t make a good deal with a politician then there`s something wrong with you.  You`re certainly not very good.  I want to make great deals, that`s what it is for the people.

Everybody wants me to negotiate.  That`s what I`m known, as this is negotiator.

We like to win.  We know how to close deals.  I close.  I`m a closer.  Even in sports, I`ve always been a closer.  I win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Famous for his ninth-inning fastball as you know, but is the approach to a multi-prong, multi-country trade and tariff war analogous to a deal?  I mean, that would involve presumably China coming to the table or changing its practices in a way that benefits the U.S.

  What we have recently is Trump blinking as Stephanie Ruhle was pointing out on this program this week, him blinking and walking away from threat, and some threat in tariffs, and China looking like they might wait this out through the election.

O`DONNELL:  Well, I think he didn`t think this through.  That`s part of not having a strategic plan.  But he`s never been particularly good at negotiating you know, particularly when the heat is on.  And he tended in his business to always overpay, and he was willing to back down almost immediately.

And so I think we`re seeing with the China tariff situation is that it really wasn`t well thought out.  He didn`t understand how tariffs work.  That was very clear.  And now he knows he`s dealing with a government that has no incentive to back down just for the way they rule their people.  And he just going to have to blink here.

MELBER:  Yes, when you were -- when you were working for him, what did you think at the time the odds were that he would become president?

O`DONNELL:  I didn`t think.  I mean, he talked about it back then, Ari.  And --

MELBER:  You said what, he talked about it?

O`DONNELL:  Yes, he talked about running back then but we just never took him serious.  And you know, when it happened this time, listen, I`ll be the first to say, I did not think the man could be elected.  I was wrong.

MELBER:  Does it look like the same guy to you now?  I mean, when you see him leaning in as we were covering tonight his you know, his attacks on the squad, the alleged abuses of power, the bigotry, was that visible to you then?

O`DONNELL:  Oh, the bigotry was always visible, Ari, and I think it`s going to be something that he`s always going to go back to.  You even saw in this news cycle in the last 24 hours the economy became the story.  He immediately went back to race.  That is going to be a fundamental foundation of his campaign because that will always keep the base with him.

The question of course as you know, is the base going to be enough this time.  And hopefully, it won`t be.

MELBER:  Jack O`Donnell, telling us all the -- all the old war stories.  Thank you for being here.

O`DONNELL:  Ari, thanks for having me.  It`s my pleasure.

MELBER:  Yes, sir.  We have a lot more in the show including this new heat on Donald Trump`s Justice Department.  Dahlia Lithwick my guest live.  And later top Democrat subpoenaed Donald Trump`s former campaign manager.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  More questions about Jeffery Epstein`s apparent suicide.  The autopsy results found broken bones in his neck, no indication yet of foul play.  Attorney general Barr has said he`s going to investigate his own prison, his own administration with all these questions piling up.  There are also calls for him to recuse.

And now there`s a brand new suit against Epstein this week and it is not because of his death.  It is because New York just passed a brand new law that allows victims of sexual abuse to sue their abusers enabling a quest for justice that had actually been barred by the deadlines that had previously existed in the law.

Now, we just heard from the attorney whose client filed the first suit against Epstein.  She says that it is a big deal and a new law provides these new options for alleged victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMBERLY LERNER, ATTORNEY FOR JENNIFER ARAOZ:  Her claim has been tied time-barred for many, many years there are 365 days where anybody of any age can sue their abusers and that`s a big deal, that that creates a mechanism for redress and it hopefully will help the healing process for those people suffering in silence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  I am now joined by renowned Legal Journalist Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor at Slate who covers the Supreme Court, hosts of the Legal Affairs podcast and is held visiting positions at the University of Georgia and University of Virginia Law Schools.  We also want to mention she`s a recipient of the Hillman Prize which said you were the nation`s best legal commentator.  I`m thrilled to have you on THE BEAT.

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE:  Did my mother write you?

MELBER:  No.  Shout out to Dahlia Lithwick`s mom too while we`re at it.  Hi mom!  Great to see you.

LITHWICK:  Good to be here.

MELBER:  -- with a lot of obviously serious stuff going on.  I wanted to start a big picture on what it means.  You know, there`s so many things in the law that just are written the way they are and they stick around for hundreds of years, and this movement that actually advocates say is positive that there`s these new suits including Epstein who happens to be in the news because they`ve given victims more options.

LITHWICK:  Yes.  I mean, I think Ari, as long as you think of these crimes particularly against children, particularly sex crimes where we know overwhelmingly that victims don`t come forward and they certainly don`t come forward as children.  And they come forward reluctantly and they come forward only when they`re very, very confident that the system is going to protect them.

This is essentially a way of saying that even though is a formal legal matter it`s too late, it`s not too late.  And I think that in an era of Me Too when people are coming forward and saying something happened to me 37 years ago, that I never told anybody it happened because of the shame and the power, disparity, and the stigma, I think it`s important to be able to empower women who up until now have been sort of litigating through hashtag, to be able to actually effectuate real legal change.

MELBER:  Yes.  And in a lot of the cases statistically it`s women, it`s young women and girls, and it`s boys in the -- in the case of the Vatican.  The New York Times reports today on a story, it`s an alleged story, but in one of the new suits by this man Mr. Green.  And he told Pope John Paul about the abuse when he had a private audience and his legal team seeking to depose Vatican officials.

Now what a lawyers say, we always say allegedly, but allegedly he says that in that private audience with the Pope, the Pope prayed for him and they moved on.  They didn`t do anything.  And he was talking about a current priest.

LITHWICK:  I think maybe lesson for me though as a legal matter of Me Too is that Me Too was journalism rushing in to correct for legal unfairness.  So systems that broke down where law should have afforded people some kind of protection and didn`t journalism came in and did it.

I think what we`re learning now is that that`s a pretty good stopgap but it`s not everything.  Journalism can`t actually make people whole again.  What can do that is the law.  And so I think in a sense this is in conversation with the Me Too work of journalists to saying good, now all these people have come forward.  Thank god these Epstein accusers have come forward.  How do we make them whole.

And I think attempts to stay it`s not indefinite but for a year you can seek redress.  I think that`s immensely important given what we know now about these vulnerable victims.

MELBER:  Well, and you make that point speaking at the intersection of law and journalism.  And journalism also can expose which is something that has in common with the law.  But it does not proportionately deter and it doesn`t claim to.  Whereas a legal system that actually investigates and uniformly charges made to deter in a way that other things don`t.

So that is important.  Also, you walked in here -- I`m going to -- I`m going to you know, let viewers in behind the veil here.  You walked in here and you said I am itching a talk about Bill Barr getting involved in something that he probably shouldn`t have anything to do it.  And I said, OK, we can get to that too.  What do you want to talk about?

LITHWICK:  You`re a good man.  I think I put this in the bucket of reasons that Bill Barr is Donald Trump`s lawyer, and there are lots of those, right, and you`ve talked about them.  And this starts with the Mueller report where Barr gives the summary that is not really a summary because it`s, in fact, his opinion exculpating Trump using Trump`s own language.

So we have a long line of Barr weighing in on things that the Justice Department actually has no role in.  And the one that I want to think about as we have this conversation about whether Barr should be the guy who`s investigating you know the buck stops with him on Epstein.

MELBER:  Obstruction Epstein anything else, yes.

LITHWICK:  Anything else who gets to you know, claim immunity, who gets to claim executive privilege.  There`s nothing that this Justice Department won`t do seemingly to protect the president.  And the thing I wanted to bring attention to, Mark Sturn at Slate wrote about this last week.  It was an extraordinary brief, friend-of-the-court brief that was filed in a lawsuit that is going on right now in Washington D.C.

The House Oversight Committee is trying to get hold of Trump`s financial records from the past eight years from an accounting firm, a District Courts judge said absolutely, no reason that they can`t see it.  This is part of oversight.  It went up to the Federal Appeals Court the district -- the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel heard it over, they`re making a decision.

And here`s Bill Bart coming in with a Justice Department friend of the court brief saying oh no, they have no business getting these financial records.  This is not a suit that implicates any federal statutes or laws.  There`s no interest that the Justice Department --

MELBER:  You`re saying out of order and he doesn`t care about the looks.  I mean, you probably have seen the great, great film Wedding Crashers?

LITHWICK:  Yes.

MELBER:  This is Bill Barr as a litigation crasher.  No one invited you.  You don`t have a role here, and you`re only here to personally defend Donald Trump from having to do the thing.  He said he was going to do which was released his tax returns years ago.

LITHWICK:  And using the argument that this is a witch-hunt, using all the locution and language that this is an attempt by the House to harass the president and to make him look bad, no this is the house doing oversight, and you know, they have -- you know, HR1, these issues are material for them.

And so it feels like Barr is sort of leaping in front of the president yet again and saying first and foremost my interest is not the Justice Department or the United States people, it`s protecting this president.  And I think that when you have the conversation about Barr`s responsibility in this Epstein probe, one of the things that you have to ask yourself is not is Barr protecting the president, that`s secondary.  Is there the appearance that he keeps protecting the president.  That matters.

MELBER:  It matters a lot.  And as you say, it matters in cases that tie this all together which is oversight, justice, accountability.  Everyone isn`t interested in that.  That`s not a red-blue thing.  Dahlia Lithwick, it`s so great to have you THE BEAT.

LITHWICK:  Thank you to have -- for having me.

MELBER:  Thank you for being haved.  Up ahead, Bernie Sanders with Cardi B in an in-depth policy interview.  We`ll give you some highlights.  And news on this subpoena for Trump`s former campaign manager.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  Some other news on a very different topic.  House Democrats today subpoenaing Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager, and former aide Richard Dearborn demanding they publicly testify and soon, next month, about alleged obstruction.

Chairman Nadler saying both aides were part of those efforts to force the Attorney General to try to undercut the Mueller probe.  And we know from the Mueller report that in 2017 Trump turned to Lewandowski who wasn`t in government, wasn`t on the federal payroll, didn`t have any role in any of this, and asked him deliver a message to sessions and press him into sort of a speech that would declare that Trump shouldn`t have a special prosecutor and thus Sessions with limit Mueller`s jurisdiction.

Lewandowski did not meet with Sessions and then Trump pressed him in another private meeting a month later saying, well, sessions didn`t meet with him.  Lewandowski should tell him if he won`t meet with him he`s fired.  That was shady to say the least.  Random people outside of government don`t just go around firing key members of the cabinet.

And Lewandowski clearly had some idea it was shady as well because he then basically tried to pass the buck to Rick Dearborn Deputy Chief Of Staff who also had some idea that it was shady because he wouldn`t do it either and he did work for the president at the time.

Now, all of this was so shady that when we had Lewandowski on this show, we pressed him about whether specifically Trump ever asked him to get involved with that Attorney General Sessions, the DOJ probe, and he denied it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN:  I don`t ever remember the president ever asking me to get involved with Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way shape or form ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  OK.  So he didn`t remember it speaking on T.V.  We know he was lying.  We know he remembered it because under penalty of perjury, he contradicted that public interview and told Mueller about the story that Trump asked him to get involved with Sessions in so much detail that ten months earlier, as I mentioned, he was telling it all, spilling if you will, spilling all the tea.

Now, that`s part of the story that we`ve been reporting out for months.  So if you watch this show, you may know about it.  You may know Lewandowski was hiding the ball.  But Chairman Nadler now wants to put that all out in the public record under oath in front of Congress and pushing forward with what he`s now calling formal impeachment proceedings.

We`ll stay on the story.  And when we come back, Bernie Sanders sitting down with none other than Cardi B.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  There`s been a lot of buzz about the relationship between Bernie Sanders the candidate, and Cardi B the very popular rapper.  She`s made her interest in politics, well-known for a long time.  In fact, on the 2016 election night, she was doing political coverage with Desus and Mero.

She also spoke out against Donald Trump for this year`s government shutdown rallying her fans saying they should care about it just like she said they should get civically engaged and care about the debates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDI B, RAPPER:  If you want to have a chance to ask one of these Democratic candidates a question, what would your question be?  Ask those questions down in my comments and we are going to try to get them questions answered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  And now she is getting some of those questions answered.  Cardi B you should know has one of the most followed online profiles of anyone in the country.  49 million on Instagram alone.  That`s larger than NASA`s following which has about 47 million, and she`s just behind LeBron James at 51 million people.

So when she post, she actually reaches more people than most T.V. channels.  And that`s why her new interview which puts some of those questions to Bernie Sanders isn`t just kind of a cultural moment, although it is that, it`s also really a political and media event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDI B:  What are we going to do about wages in America?  When I was not famous, I just felt like no matter how many jobs I get, I wasn`t able to make any means.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That is an excellent and important question.  Can you imagine somebody today earning $9 an hour?

CARDI B:  It don`t make no sense.

SANDERS:  No, it doesn`t.  How do you pay your rent?  How do you pay for food?  How do you pay for transportation.

CARDI B:  Right.

SANDERS:  You can`t pay it.

CARDI B:  You know, certain people like to brag that there is more jobs now in America, but it`s like, yes, there is an increase of jobs given, but what are they paying in these jobs?  They`re practically paying nothing.

SANDERS:  You got it.  That is exactly the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We know you have a mutual respect for FDR.

CARDI B:  I have a couple of reasons why I love FDR.  He became a president when America was in one of its worst times.  And not only are you going through a depression, but you`re also going to World War II.  I mean, come on, now.  He did the new deal.  Like that`s the reason we have social security.  God damn, I love him.  He is my favorite.

SANDERS:  Well, I want to be your favorite after I`m elected, but we`ll see.

CARDI B:  Thank you so much, Bernie.

SANDERS:  Thank you so much.

CARDI B:  Let`s feel Bern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Feel the Bern.  This is part of where politics is headed.  Lose track of it at your own peril.  We should note that was recorded at a nail salon in the important primary state of Michigan.  And when it comes to your vote, Cardi B might tell you be careful with it.  That`s not a threat.  It`s a warning.

Now, before we go, I want you to know tomorrow we`re going to get into this news.  July was officially the hottest month ever recorded.  It`s another sign that climate change is real.  Are we going to do anything about it?  Well, I`ll put that question on THE BEAT tomorrow with none other than Bill Nye The Science Guy to explain what`s happening, what are the facts, and how should policymakers deal with the facts.

I can`t wait to have Bill Nye on tomorrow.  That does it for THE BEAT tonight, though.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

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