AG Barr moves to shield Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 8/20/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Brittney Cooper, Mark Thompson, Liz Plank, Jamie Harrison, HakeemJeffries, Chuck Nice

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: And that`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with More MEET THE PRESS DAILY. And "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Steve. Thank you and a very happy summer to everyone out there. We have a big show tonight including a special report we have been working on about how a man who called Trump a terrible human being is now a top White House aide. Beyond the hypocrisy, we think there are important lessons here for today`s politics and counteracting some of this stuff and that`s later tonight.

There`s also no summer vacation for hard hitting law suits enforcing subpoenas against Trump aides. Attorney General Bill Barr trying to shield Trump personally, is that the right role for the Attorney General? Well, one of the congressional leaders in this battle, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries joins me live later in this show.

And that`s not all. Chris Christie making some news. You may know him from his tirades and his traffic revenge but you won`t believe his new mission and we`re tackling that story tonight with the seriousness that it merits. Comedian Chuck Nice is here on Chris Christie at the end of the hour.

But we begin with our top story. New signs that Trump resistance is getting larger, more fortified and not only from the left though the signs here tonight do include movement among Democrats, including on the key issue of impeachment.

You know many saw impeaching Trump as a push that seemed to be running out of gas. They were DC pundits you may remember, assessing that Mueller hearing as a theater, not as a presentation of evidence and then crediting Pelosi for seeming to tamp down her liberal members push for impeachment hearings and potentially impeachment.

But the funny thing is actually going down as this summer draws toward a close. The impeachment caucus swelling while Congress is in recess tonight, it now includes the highest ranking Democrat yet, congressman Ben Ray Lujan who serves on Pelosi`s leadership team as Assistant House Speaker now backing impeachment and knocking Trump for abdicating his responsibility to defend our nation from Russian attacks.

Which means that now 126 Democrats back an impeachment inquiry. That`s the majority of the caucus. Meanwhile a Republican leader, Jennifer Horn resigning her post with the LGBTQ group, Log Cabin Republicans protesting its endorsement of Trump`s re-election and she says, look at this, she wouldn`t be able to look for children in the eye and back Trump given what he`s done which we know included banning trans members in the military, noting Trump is contrary to everything I`ve ever taught them about what it means to be a good decent principled member of society.

Now other top Republicans are using this summer break to try to basically organize a new resistance coalition. Today Anthony Scaramucci made a public appeal in the Washington Post asking fellow Republicans to help him get rid of Trump for the good of the nation.

Saying it now a question of whether we want to start cleaning up the mess or continue papering over the cracks. And all this comes amidst reports the Donald Trump is worried, a recession could and his political career suggesting that he knows how precarious things are.

Now Donald Trump`s approval continues to hover in the low forties. That number as you may know because you watch the news, that number doesn`t move much. Why not? Well, he already lost the other 10 percent or more of Americans who typically give the President a chance regardless of party. Now how do we even know that?

It`s simple. We do so much day to day around here, don`t forget the larger history because in the entire history of Presidential polling since 1938 from Gallop at this point in their term, Presidents average about 53 percent approval which is a metric that shows that in both parties Presidents tend to get some approval from people who did not vote for them.

Trump though is down stock at 41 percent over the same period, that`s lower than the average of all Presidents and ominously for him it`s lower than the 46 percent of voters who once backed him in 2016. Let`s get right out to our panel tonight.

I`m joined by Brittney Cooper, Professor at Rutgers, Mark Thompson, host of Make it Plain and Liz Plank, host of Vox`s Consider it. What do you think?

BRITTNEY COOPER, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: It`s about the time. Welcome to the party. He`s a terrible President. We all know it. He has any sort of moral gravity that Republicans have had is trying to be the party of family values. He has systematically and frankly brazenly eroded their ability to claim that moral high ground.

And so I`m not particularly optimistic that this will work in the sense that part of what I see Trump doing is look, we`re having gun threats every day. He`s still backing off of sort of key pieces of legislation and part of what he`s doing is whipping up his base, almost it seems to incite them that if this election doesn`t go his way that they should be violent in the aftermath of it and that is very scary to me.

So the Republicans need to do a lot of work and they need to do it very swiftly and part of what they need to do is begin to speak to the fears of their constituency because what Trump is doing is he`s pulling on their fear about demographic shift really hard in this moment and he`s not backing off.

MELBER: Mark.

MARK THOMPSON, HOST OF MAKE IT PLAIN: Well, I would agree. Also this is a real test sociologically even because up to this point he has been able to employ or implement racism and race baiting. But when it comes to these elections, even amongst some in his base, the bottom line is the economy and we know the economy has always determined at the end of the day.

So we`ll have to see just how committed this base is when it comes to an economy. Now everybody is saying that there is a recession looming. He`s been in denial about it. Now today it would seem, or the past 24 hours it would seem now they`re ready to acknowledge it.

He kind of hinted at it by delaying the tariffs. Now he`s talking about a tax cut so he must even have some indication and he must have gotten you know on his own because you don`t have any staff in the White House doing the work.

MELBER: While you mention that, let`s take a look at that work because you have against that backdrop as you mentioned, the Trump administration first pushing back on this criticism that they have no plan for a recession. Emergency tax cuts is now something they`re offering or maybe rolling back Trump`s tariffs.

And these reports if nothing else they can see that there could be a downturn as Mark was saying. Meanwhile this is important, Trump`s allies in the press have found some bizarre ways to spin these jitters claiming that it`s just rich coastal elites who want to lose money in a recession.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s pretty obvious these establishment, Trump hating hysterics, all of them of course living comfortable coastal lives actually want a recession because they think that`s the best way to get rid of Trump.

CHARLES PAYNE, HOST, FBN: To a degree the media almost did that in December and I think some people do it deliberately.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They do not want him to win again and they don`t like that the economy is doing well apparently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Mark, you are obviously all over this story because you mentioned it but it`s my job here to press the hard questions.

THOMPSON: OK.

MELBER: Are you a coastal elite? Do you want to lose money? Do you want to lose money? Do you want a recession in order to defeat someone so that you may oppose Donald Trump. I`ll let you respond, Sir.

THOMPSON: As if you know, no, I`m not coastal elite obviously but definitely not rich but as if we are in encouraging it or others are encouraging it just by talking about it. The fact that matter is, is that it is real. We need to be concerned about it. Some on his base, farmers for example are being hit hard by these crazy tariffs.

So you know this is going to be a real test for him to see if he can sustain it by using the second amendment, sustain his base by using a second amendment and racism and everything else. But I think he`s in serious trouble and it`s time that everybody acknowledge it and the rest was cheer it.

LIZ PLANK, HOST, VOX`S CONSIDER IT: And while this is happening, he`s talking about green - buying Greenland and Anthony is kind of - right? So he`s clearly using his best sort of weapon which is distraction and he`s acting like a reality show you know star that`s about to maybe not get her second season renewed and so she`s just picking fights with her friends, she`s picking fights with her enemies and it`s really - it`s basic, basic, basic.

But at the same time, I`m also not interested in this sort of like Bachelor in Paradise like morality edition of the Republican Party of some members realizing suddenly that they want to be a good person and that they have a moral conscience two years after the President called neo-Nazis fine people, right?

Two years after have had Heather Heyer was killed, months and weeks after children have been you know or almost a year actually that children have been separated by their parents so what`s going on here?

I mean you can say hey, I`m calling the you know, the firemen and the firewoman but you gave him the matches and so what are you going to do now? How are going to fix it? It`s not about you it`s about all of the people who have been harmed in this administration.

COOPER: There are two major problems. One is, Trump is literally trying to undermine our confidence in the 2020 election. This is all of the tweeting about you know what happened in 2016, even trying to undermine Google search results to create this base of skepticism so that no one can determine what the truth is.

MELBER: Or does Google also want a recession?

COOPER: Absolutely, of course they do because--

PLANK: Google is a coastal elite, you know that.

COOPER: That`s exactly right but the other thing that he`s been doing is he`s banking on a strategy that has always worked for conservatives which is that if you appeal to people`s tribalism which is the term racism, right? They will actually very often vote against their own economic interests in terms of racism.

I mean that`s the only reason Trump is in office. Suddenly his policies were never going to help the working class - white men who voted for him. Now they`re seeing those chickens come home to roost but he`s using a strategy that worked before but this is about whether you get to be among - classed among the haves or the have nots, whether you get to be classed among those who are from S-hole countries or those who are from the great land of America.

So he`s playing on that tribalism and that`s actually really powerful and so if Republicans don`t speak to the fear that drives it, they`re going to lose even whatever moral high ground that they`re trying to get to.

PLANK: Right.

THOMPSON: He`s a failed businessman. And now he`s a failure as a President with this economy being what it is and to your point about stoking fears about the election, remember in 2016, he was saying the other side was going to cheat. They`re going to cheat, they`re going to steal it up and then he was the one who did it so what`s he doing now? By doing that again is he not projecting what he plans to do. He has no choice but to fear monger and cheat.

MELBER: And both of you mention this. I think it`s worth probing a little bit whether or not the economy falters. I for one am not rooting for recession. Just want to put that on record. But there is a bit of a connective tissue here, right? When you look at the way that we`re talking about what Donald Trump gets away with and what the powers that be which is the - a raid, forces we have in democracy.

It includes a free press. What do we say about lies? What do we say about racism? It includes a Democratic party which was doing a dance that again I think if Democrat`s position is, there was not impeachable conduct, then that`s fine, that`s your substantive position but for a while a lot of Democrats had to position it well, it was impeachable and maybe he should even allegedly "go to prison" someday.

But they`re not going to hold impeachment because of political reasons and so I say that context and sort of how do you confront racism if you think it`s racist and crime, if you think it`s crime and lunacy, if you think it`s lunacy because some of these lines are moving and that creates I think some of the barriers that then Trump has to deal with.

And we struggle about these things in our newsroom because we don`t assume everything that is false is a lie. First you figure out whether it`s false, then you have to do an investigation of does someone know they`re lying and Donald Trump does lie, sometimes he says things are false or he may not know or care that is false and that`s different.

I say that with regard to Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene Robinson Washington Post basically calling it out today and viewers know Eugene, he`s a great writer if you haven`t seen this yet. "The astonishing thing is the President of United States is, let`s face it, raving like a lunatic and everyone just shrugs. The truth is we don`t have an actual presidency right now. We have a tiresome reality show whose ratings have begun to slide and whose fading star sees cancellation on the way."

I say to you Mark and viewers know this, Eugene is a very careful writer.

THOMPSON: Yes.

MELBER: I`m not sure he`ll come on some day and tell me if I`m wrong, I`m not sure he would have written is on day one of the Trump administration because the Washington Post says well, there`s a new President. Respect the President but what a place that where people are just saying, this is a lunacy.

THOMPSON: Yes and it`s very significant for Eugene to write that and for the Washington Post to publish it and to go on record. Those are some very, very strong words that you can`t walk back and even to say them now when there`s a possibility he might do something else even crazier and then you would have you know, fired that gun already.

So I think that we`re in a place now where he has been enabled too much. He has been normalized too much honestly by some of our institutions in media. You know, I say that respectfully. No one here of course. But that`s what needs to change. When we look at scrutiny that`s given to the other candidates and other politicians, they don`t get that kind of -and we don`t expect it that they should.

MELBER: Sometimes it`s like is this person likeable? What are we talking about? I want to get you in on one more piece of policy that I want report that I make sure people know. Donald Trump may actually hope some people don`t notice this summer story but there`s a new administration rule limiting health care access for 4 million women in America.

Planned Parenthood saying it`s basically got to withdraw from federal funding because of this rule, it restricts money for clinics the provide or refer abortion services which as a factual matter is a constitutionally protected right. Here`s new Planned Parenthood leader speaking out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, ACTING PRESIDENT AND CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Trump and the Trump administration are essentially bullies. They are forcing us out of a program by endorsing and enforcing this unethical gag rule. We`re just not going to engage in providing substandard care for low income Americans. This is a fight that we`re going to continue to engage in and we`re you know, we need Congress to step in and act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLANK: Yes, I mean, if I was buying into - if I was saying what Donald Trump wants me to say right now, I would say this is a war on women, abortion is a right that all women in this country should have access to because I don`t want to do that, I`m not going to say that it`s a war on women.

It`s actually a war on people. It`s a war on Americans because reproductive rights is about freedom and everyone who is pregnant, definitely have a guy involved somehow in some capacity and so men also benefit from reproductive rights and reproductive justice, they benefit from the Planned Parenthood clinics that are going to be shutting down or not going to be able to give SDI screenings, cancer screenings, those are things that are very important for all Americans.

It`s also a war on poor people. 75 percent of clinics, Planned Parenthood, not 75% of the clinics, 75% of the people who use the clinics are people who are either on the poverty line or below the poverty line and so it comes back to our entire conversation. They want us to make it about identity.

They want us to make it about feminism about and scare away those voters. It`s not about that it`s about poor people in this country, many of them who are voting for Donald Trump, who are voting against their best interest.

MELBER: And so Brittney, I wondered if you could as we say around here, bring it all home for us because as Liz says these are constitutional rights, these are gender issues, there is a feminist component but there`s also the fact that this is an administration that over just the past few months has taken this rule which targets as you say, many people who benefit from these services but also disproportionately the poor. They`re going after snap, food assistance. They`re going after school lunches.

We did a report on this show. Some viewers may remember. Majority of school lunch recipients happen to be poor white Americans in rural areas. Of course, the question of whether we want a government that provides food to hungry ten-year olds regardless of where they live is the question and these stories sometimes get pushed aside by all of the noise.

COOPER: That`s right. There is no moral compass on the right, right now. Trump is no beacon of anything but darkness and part of what he is doing is using the law and weaponizing it against the poor, against women, against people who can get pregnant, against people of color.

And the thing we have to remember is that all these forms of tribalism and division, they go together. You don`t get a racist President without also getting a President who is deeply sexist and not actually is moral call to women. Most white women voters voted for Donald Trump in the last election.

Now that you`re dealing with the consequences of having this man assault their right and as a by-product of that you see trans people who also need reproductive care services being assaulted and you see poor black women. I needed reduced lunches as a kid growing up with a single mom in a poor southern state.

And so I wouldn`t be here today without those kinds of governmental services and that Trump`s point. He doesn`t want to create a world where Liz, Mark and I are sitting at the table hoping to drive the discussion and that is the thing that must change.

MELBER: Thanks to each of you. I think we learned a lot here and a lot of important points at a time when there is other noise. Brittney Cooper, Mark Thompson, Liz Plank, thank you guys.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you.

MELBER: And have a nice summer. Coming up, we`re going to fit in a break I have a special report on one of Donald Trump`s key enablers Mick Mulvaney and why he might be called in effect the anti-Mooch. Breaking news, tonight House Democrats going to court and saying Bill Barr`s DOJ is trying to undermine the law to protect Trump.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is here. Also Chris Christie wants to push yes, civility. We have the break down. I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Now to our special report on Trump critics turned sycophants. This week Politicos focused on another reality show style twist. Anthony Scaramucci turning on his boss. At normal times White House officials don`t lash out like that but consider a wider shift inside the GOP with policy consequences.

Think of it is, the reverse Mooch. Republicans turning from scolds to supporters. There`s one prominent example you surely seen Lindsey Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think he`s a kook. I think he`s crazy. I think he`s unfit for office.

I am like the happiest dude in America right now. We`ve got a President and a national security team that I`ve been dreaming of. I am all in. Keep it up Donald.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That doesn`t add up. You can`t be happy about a "crazy kook" being President and Graham works with Trump a lot these days but other Republicans have gone further from running against Trump to working for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump`s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean spiritedness. And nonsense.

My hats off to you for taking that stand and presenting a clear message around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Then there`s the former Trump critic at the white hot center of this White House, occupying a hub of Trump chaos, the same position filled and vacated by Ryan Priebus and then John Kelly except his title is lower than theirs. I`m talking about Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITES STATES: Yes, I`m supporting Donald Trump. I`m doing so as enthusiastically as I can, given that I think he`s a terrible human being but the choice on the other side is just as bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There`s kinds of stuff going on but it`s pretty wild that this is the state of federal staffing and it`s like the twelfth most prominent story to even think about. This is not normal. And it`s telling. Donald Trump is not known to forgive grudges or overlook these kind of things but he`s so desperate for bodies that in an administration with record breaking turnover.

He`s hired or teamed up with people who call him a kook and crazy, unfit for office, a cancer on conservatism, a terrible human being. They also say he`s not a very good person or they don`t particularly like him and he said disgusting, indefensible things and let`s see what else he`s actually the most flawed human being running for President in history. This is a lot of very clear character rejection. It`s not policy disagreement, it`s a podium for who Donald Trump is.

Now all those last quotes that I just read that you see up here are all from Mick Mulvaney who now is best known for defending Trump on the Sunday shows about everything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: He pushes back, he fights back when he feels like he`s attacked. It has absolutely zero to do with race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: TO be clear, you believe Democrats will never see the President`s tax returns?

MULVANEY: No, never. Nor should they.

Mr. Mueller found no collusion and no--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, not a quote but what about the ethics or morality of those things?

MULVANEY: Again, the issue here is not whether it`s ethical.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you understand that that is offensive to the Americans who do live there?

MULVANEY: I understand that everything that Donald Trump says is offensive to some people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Mulvaney has had to turn on his opposition to Trump but a lot of other conservatives have too. Now they say you got to hold your nose to get policy out of this White House. Evangelicals say they supported him because of the Supreme court and they got two justices.

But for Mulvaney this is different. Everyone knows Donald Trump is exploding the deficit this month. It`s reaching close to $1 trillion. Mulvaney`s entire policy agenda in Congress was cutting the deficit. Even when that meant going after other Republicans.

He rose to the GOP budget in 2015 saying, there`s no on its way to justify it. Whatever you think about that deficit talk, it was Mulvaney`s thing from his very first days in office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: I`m Mick Mulvaney from South Carolina and as a member of the freshman class I can`t tell you how I excited I am about these proposals. I think that anybody who`s up to speed on budget issues should be scared to death by what`s happening with the debt and deficit in this country.

If you`re not losing sleep over it then you`re simply not paying attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So pay attention and cutting spending was so important to him in 2013, he tried to kill emergency relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy demanding it had to be immediately offset by budget cuts. I mean, we`re talking about emergency funds here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: It`s the future of all aid after a natural disaster now contingent in your view on corresponding cuts?

MULVANEY: Well, I think it is until we get our fiscal house in order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Get that house in order. Now did any of this change when he was hired to run Trump`s debt busting government? Not officially even in his confirmation hearing under oath Mulvaney claimed he was still trying to address the debt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: I believe as a matter of principle that debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So how does he justify working for a President who`s been spending money on things he can`t pay for including these tax cuts which may or may not affect the recession? Well, when Trump was prepping the State of Union, Mulvaney was asked if the deficit would be mentioned and he said, nobody cares.

Does Mick Mulvaney have low self-esteem? Mick, I`m here to tell you you`re not nobody, you`re somebody. You spent years caring or pretending to care along with Paul Ryan and the Tea party, all about the deficit. Was it a lie? Is it hypocrisy?

And the times when this question`s been raising, Mulvaney says no, it`s not hypocrisy, this is just adjusting to the beltway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: It`s not hypocritical. It`s simply adjusting to the Washington DC that we live in. I will always be a deficit hawk. I am today, I was yesterday and I will be tomorrow because I do think that spending a bunch of money that we don`t have is wrong. I`m just telling you that this is the cards that we`ve been dealt as an administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The cards we`ve been dealt. When something happens to you out of your control, those are the cards and you know make do with what you can`t control. Well, Mick Mulvaney wasn`t dealt these cards. He wasn`t forced to work for Trump. He ran for office, won a seat, resigned it to take this job.

So when you get into this level of depth and this stuff is super important to where we`re headed, remember you can`t understand the story just by listening to Mulvaney`s analogies. You have dig deeper.

So look at this, according to someone who`s really studied this, to understand Mick Mulvaney, you actually have to understand Mike Tyson`s famous face tattoo. Journalist Tim Alberta wrote that after the election day Mulvaney realized after bashing Trump he had to cosy up to him because he was obsessed with power.

Alberta writes, he wore his ambition as subtly as a Mike Tyson face tattoo. On coming to Congress in 2011, he made few doubt he was the smartest man there and was destined for more.

So the values, the deficit, the pledges, Alberta writes that Mulvaney just chucked out the window and began sucking up. Watching Trump, reading the art of the deal, studying his relationships, Mulvaney developed a theory of how to ingratiate himself. He would do what Paul Ryan had done, sell Trump on the value he brought to the team.

It worked. Trump named him Budget Director with a month and noticed the words that were used there, sell to Trump which for Mulvaney meant selling himself, selling off his past skills, proving to Trump if you didn`t believe what he said, not about deficits, not about the GOP, not about Trump.

In other word selling out. Now some people might look down on a job applicant willing to do that. Trump clearly likes it. Maybe because it shows ultimate fealty. It reinforces Trump`s world view that maybe nobody really believes anything. Mulvaney sold out. Or as the rapper Cash Out explains on his song cashing out, "I`m cashing out. Skate on my ice just like you playing hockey. Grab your camcorder. Press record and go and watch me."

Well, you know we expect entrepreneurs to cash out more than public servants. Mulvaney is clearly fine cashing out his beliefs for the currency of power. So to paraphrase Cash Out one more time. Let`s press record and watch him because he sure doesn`t sound like he used to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: Think that anybody who`s up to speed on budget issues should be scared to death by what`s happening with the debt and deficit in this country. If you`re not losing sleep over it, then you`re simply not paying attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Jamie Harrison is actually running for Senate in Mulvaney`s home state of South Carolina. He`s right here and joins me when we`re back in 30. Good to see you Sir.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  Welcome back to THE BEAT.  Jamie Harrison is here right now.  He is challenging Senator Lindsey Graham and he is quite familiar with Mick Mulvaney`s record.  He`s the former Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.  I couldn`t think of a more locally sourced guest than you.  Thanks for being here.

JAMIE HARRISON FORMER CHAIR, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY:  Thank you for having me, Ari.

MELBER:  What happened there with Mick Mulvaney?  Was it real?  Was it always a lie?

HARRISON:  Listen, it was always a lie.  The word hypocrite is too good for Mick Mulvaney and Lindsey Graham.  These are folks who don`t have moral convictions or values or spines.  In essence, they`ve been playing a game on the people in South Carolina and now the people across this country for a long time.

And it`s all about political power.  It`s all about gaming the system and becoming what Lindsey Graham said so plainly is becoming relevant.  And Donald Trump gives them relevancy because it means they can go on T.V. every night, they can -- they can fly on Air Force One.  And in the end, it`s working people across this country, in particular, the folks in South Carolina, they`re at the losing end of their political game,

MELBER:  Didn`t Mick Mulvaney run around South Carolina and tell everyone he had these economic principles and they would help the people there.  You could debate whether they would or not, but isn`t it a bigger indictment that I think as the record shows he`s just chucked them all.

HARRISON:  Oh, he has.  You know, Mick beat John Spratt who arguably probably is one of the smartest members of Congress I`ve ever come across.  But Mick likes to be the smartest guy in the room.  He wants to be the focus of the attention.  But this is a guy who again has no core.

He talked about well, I don`t see the data that says why Meals on Wheels and the school lunch program and in all these programs for the working- class people, for the poor, and for children why they have any relevance.

But at the same time when it came to this trillion-dollar tax cut, he talked about the deficits and he said well you know, we need new deficits in order to justify this.  Again, this is a person with no moral compass, no moral conviction.

MELBER:  Senator Graham who you`re running against used to talk about Donald Trump the way you do.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.  He doesn`t represent my party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you think that he is a racist?

GRAHAM:  Absolutely not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Is that a focus of your campaign or are you about moving beyond Trump?

HARRISON:  It is a focus -- it`s not about Trump that`s the focus of our campaign, it`s the hypocrisy of the leadership that we have in South Carolina.  So there are 24 other or 25 other at this point Democrats we were running against Donald Trump.  I`m running against Lindsey Graham because he does not represent the state of South Carolina anymore.

When you take a look at it -- and again the hypocrisy of both Graham and Mulvaney, take a look at the automobile industry $700 million in terms of revenue that comes to the state of South Carolina, 70,000 jobs in the state and it`s getting hit hard by these tariffs.

Tariffs are so bad that even the price of Bibles which is a you know, big thing in South Carolina it is rising.

MELBER:  Is that right?

HARRISON:  Yes.

MELBER:  You`re saying that Donald Trump`s trade policy is making it more expensive to pray?

HARRISON:  Yes, it is.

MELBER:  Depending on who you pray to?

HARRISON:  And listen, you got to pray more with this Trump presidency and having Lindsey.  And then Lindsay comes back to the state and he says, well, you guys, it`s just a hiccup in the economy.  We`re all going to experience a little pain and we really have to do this.

Now, this guy -- I`ll give you a quote.  He said this back in January 27.  He said talking about tariffs and this was to Mexico.  He said tariffs, no.  Mexico is a third-largest trading partner to the U.S.  Any tariff we can levy they can levy, a huge barrier to economic growth.  And he said that in January 2017.  Well, China is our number one trade partner.

MELBER:  And that goes again to whether you`re representing the economic interest.  You brought -- I didn`t know you`re going to bring receipts.

HARRISON:  No, I have receipts.

MELBER:  You brought receipts.  I got a fitting a break.  We`ll be keeping an eye on your campaign. Jamie Harrison.  As always, we like to mention, Mr. Mulvaney and Senator Graham were both invited on here as well and I`m sure you`d appear with them.

HARRISON:  Yes, and they can -- and folks can go to JimmyHarrison.com.

MELBER:  Everybody gets it in.  You know everybody`s got to get it in.  My thanks to Jamie.  Up ahead, Chris Christie going from Trump surrogate to a new gig that`s all about civility.  We`ll explain.  But first Mr. Four Page Summary back added a new move.  Attorney General Bill Barr you got to know about.  Hakeem Jeffries is here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  Breaking news tonight.  House Democrats accusing Bill Barr`s Justice Department of trying to rewrite history in a bid to personally protect Trump.  This is a response to Justice Department`s somewhat unusual step.  They`re asking the court to block an otherwise lawful subpoena to get Trump`s financial records.

House Democrats say this request has "no grounding in history of law and that the arguments here represent what the department wishes the law were but they are not the law."  Now, Barr`s attorneys here have been arguing the court that the banks and other entities shouldn`t have to comply with these as I say, otherwise lawful subpoenas claiming the probes could "distract Donald Trump from the energetic performance of his constitutional duties."

Now one question is how energetic is he.  We have charted his daily schedules before.  But more broadly, look at this, 2o -- I should say 221 days on golf properties, unprecedented amount of executive time, tweeting, watching television.

So that goes to the factual side.  What about the legal side?  The argument that no matter who`s president, no matter how they keep their schedule, you would be too distracted to deal with the courts with these otherwise lawful requests.

Well, President Clinton did argue at one point that if he complied with every investigation, he would be distracted away from his duties.  And here`s what Supreme Court Justice Scalia said about why they ruled against him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIN SCALIA, FORMER ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATE:  President is you know, it`s a full-time job and he`s -- and any intrusion upon his time is intruding -- I must say I don`t find that terribly persuasive.  We see presidents riding horseback, chopping firewood, fishing for stick fish, playing golf, and so forth and so on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  I`m joined by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries who is on the Judiciary Committee and a member of Democratic leadership.  Thanks for being here.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  Good to see you.

MELBER:  Great to see you.  As you know, that was a slightly different context with Justice Scalia was speaking for part of why the court ruled ultimately that being president is not a get out of subpoena free card.

JEFFRIES:  Well that`s correct.  You know, Donald Trump is not a part-time school board member, with all due respect to hard-working school board members, he`s the President of the United States of America, the leader of the free world, the most powerful individual on the global stage.

He has a responsibility in the context of our constitutional Democratic Republic to recognize that the House and the Senate were designed to be separate and co-equal branches of government for the people.  We don`t work for Donald Trump.  We work for everyday Americans.

And so we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch.  We are undertaking our lawful constitutional legislative oversight responsibilities.  Bill Barr is rewriting the Constitution claiming we have no legitimate purpose.  The Constitution is our legitimate purpose.

MELBER:  And that lays out sort of the battle in the courts.  Then you have the specific issue of Mr. Bill Barr.  Dahlia Lithwick who I`m sure you know as a legal scholar, she`s an independent expert, she`s not a part of you know, Democratic team, but she has argued here in THE BEAT that really there is a problem with how Mr. Barr is carrying out his role.  To take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE:  It feels like Barr 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Win or lose, I mean the courts are ultimately going to decide and it could go to the Supreme Court which we just heard from in a different context about what the President has to -- has to deal with.  Are you at all concerned that Mr. Barr though has interceded in cases that seem more personal than public in nature?

JEFFRIES:  Definitely.  And you know, the so-called attorney general has since flushed his personal integrity down the toilet.  That`s a shame.  And so many members of the Trump cabinet have done that over the last three years or so.  And I expected that will continue because the president surrounds himself with sycophants.

But look at what is at stake.  We want those Deutsche Bank records because we believe that they could show potential evidence of criminality.  The Deutsche Bank employees on the ground recommended that suspicious activity reports be filed as it relates to Donald Trump`s business activities and transactions in 2016 and 2017.

Higher-ups at Deutsche Bank vetoed that recommendation and squelched it.  We want to know what Donald Trump is potentially hiding as part of our oversight responsibilities so we can share that information with the American people.

MELBER:  Now, the last thing I want to ask you about because that -- I understand we coming from on that is impeachment.  You remember those old - - those old toothpaste ads that would say like nine out of ten dentists prefer this toothpaste.  Can nine out of ten dentists be wrong?

JEFFRIES:  That`s right.

MELBER:  OK.  Well, can 126 Democrats in your caucus, and I know you`re part of leadership, that`s the majority of your caucus that you work with them, like toothpaste, sir, I ask you, can 126 Democrats be wrong?

JEFFRIES:  They definitely can`t be wrong but there are different perspectives.  And what we`ve decided to do is to make sure that every member has an opportunity over the next couple of weeks during this district work period in August to talk to their constituents and then follow their conscience.

MELBER:  Follow their conscience, but you and Speaker Pelosi still disagree with them that you should move forward on impeaching Trump.

JEFFRIES:  No, what my view is that Jerry Nadler is in the midst of an impeachment investigation.  I`m part of that impeachment investigation.

MELBER:  You`re on the Judiciary Committee, but you -- every time we`ve talked about -- you check me if I am getting the history wrong.  Every time we talk about it, you`re defending the speaker.

JEFFRIES:  Well, because I believe the speaker has the correct perspective in terms of making sure that we follow the facts, apply to law be guided by the Constitution.  Come together after the August recess in September, we`re going to have to make some decisions.

But in order for us to proceed with any form of accountability inquiry including an impeachment inquiry, we need fact witnesses and we need documents.  That`s why we`re fighting before the Second Circuit fighting, before the D.C. Circuit, eventually, we`re going to have to fight before the Supreme Court so we can get the information to them present to the American people.

MELBER:  Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, very interesting getting you on multiple items.

JEFFRIES:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Thanks for coming on THE BEAT, sir.

JEFFRIES:  Good to see you, Ari.

MELBER:  Good to have you back.  Up ahead, we fit in a break and then Chris Christie has wrote from viral tirades to newfound civility advocate.  Comedian Chuck Nice, you know what it is, he`s here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  Now we turn to some news that could be an onion headline.  Are you ready?  Chris Christie, the famously short-tempered and sometimes verbally abusive New Jersey Governor has decided on his next project.  He`s launching a think tank to advance civility.

The goal is to address what he calls today`s ugly and divisive politics because people aren`t having civilized conversations.  So the governor who used town halls to yell of his own constituents and whose aides were convicted for carrying out traffic vendettas is anointing himself a stability cop today.

Obviously, this had us thinking this is like rain on your wedding day or 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, isn`t it ironic as Alanis Morissette would say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was wondering why you think it`s fair to be cutting school funding to public schools?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY:  What`s her name?

Hey Gail, you know what, first off it`s none of your business.  I don`t ask you where you`re sending your kids to school.  Don`t bother me about where I send mine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And you`re not compensating me for my education and you`re not compensating me for my experience.  That`s --

CHRISTIE:  Well, you know what, then you don`t have to do it.

If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk, well then I have no interest in answering your question.

Let me tell you something.  After you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in the courtroom, your rear end is going to get thrown in jail, idiot.

Did I say on topic, are you -- are you stupid?  On topic, on topic, next question.  Good.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you all very much and I`m sorry for the idiot over there.

I worked the cones actually.  I`m not -- unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there.  I was in overalls and a hat so I wasn`t -- but I actually was the guy working the cones.

I appreciate that.

CHRISTIE:  Do you want to have the conversation later, I`m happy to have it, buddy.  But until that time, sit down and shut up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Isn`t it ironic?  That song actually hits Christie in two places, the irony of this civility quest and in another line that could apply to his Bridgegate scandal, a traffic jam when you`re already late.  It is hard to take this story seriously which is why we turn to comedian Chuck Nice.

CHUCK NICE, COMEDIAN:  I like the reference.

MELBER:  Chris Christie fighting for civility.

NICE:  See, here`s what you don`t understand though, Ari, is that sit down and shut up, that was said in love, OK.  That`s the deal.

MELBER:  OK.  I didn`t know about that.

NICE:  There`s loving way to tell somebody to go to hell, or sit down and shut up, or you die.  There`s a loving way -- and Chris Christie has perfected that.  Everything that we saw there --

MELBER:  You`re talking about like when someone is being really funny and someone says stop, right, and they mean like --

NICE:  Yes, just please go on.  See, what people don`t understand and I think what you are really trying to let the public know is that Chris Christie now sees himself as a bridge, a bridge to bring about communication between those who might otherwise be --

MELBER:  A bridge?

NICE:  A bridge.

MELBER:  A bridge.

NICE:  Chris Christie bridge.

MELBER:  A traffic laden bridge.  Let me ask you this.  Do you know that we had for this segment that -- we take this seriously, that`s why you`re here.

NICE:  Yes, that`s why I`m here.

MELBER:  We didn`t even get all the hypocrisy into that setup.

NICE:  No, you can`t.

MELBER:  Because who is Chris Christie`s biggest political ally and mentor right now?

NICE:  Ally?  It would have to be -- I don`t know.

MELBER:  He`s in the White House.

NICE:  Maybe Donald Trump.

MELBER:  Donald Trump.

NICE:  Perhaps.

MELBER:  I mean, he chaired the transition.  He was the first endorser in the Republican field of competitors.  And look at this.  He was asked about this because he`s got the civility project and he said no conflict there.  "The negative tone of our politics existed long before Trump.  You`re never going to agree with anyone 100 percent."

NICE:  And guess what, and if you remember last week, Trump said this.  Everything I say is love.   We do love as well, love.  And so I mean, listen, these are two pieces in the pot that belong together.  I like what they`re doing here.  They`re bringing the country together by showing us what it is to be a part, OK.

MELBER:  Do you think -- and this is my final question because you are actually -- this is the most apt question for you.

NICE:  OK.

MELBER:  This is what you know.

NICE:  All right.

MELBER:  Do you think Chris Christie is pulling a giant prank on us with this?

NICE:  Wow, that`s a very good question.

MELBER:  Like in a month, does he come out and be like I can`t believe you guys even -- this isn`t really a civility think tank, I`m Chris Christie.

NICE:  I think -- oh my God.   Right now I just see Chris Christie as Dave Chappelle.  Right now, the way he`s -- I`m Chris Christie.  That`s it.  I`m Chris Christie.  I`m Chris Christie.

MELBER:  Watch it.

NICE:  What did you expect?  That`s what I`m saying.  Like what did you expect, civility, civility?

MELBER:  Can I count up in my thank you to you because I always love talking to you.  You make -- you make a good news day easier.  You did your impression of Donald Trump --

NICE:  Right.

MELBER:  And you did a Chappelle Christie portmanteau.

NICE:  There you go.  Hey, right on.

MELBER:  Right on.  Chuck Nice, always making things a little bit nice.

NICE:  Love, people.

MELBER:  We`re going to fit in a break, and then I`m going to ask you, can you name all the candidates running in one minute?  We`ll explain next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  This is when political trivia meets your memory test.  Des Moines Register has just done something kind of interesting.  This was at the Iowa State Fair.  They asked people there who may or may not know a ton about what`s going on, in politics to name as many of the Democratic Presidential candidates as possible in a minute and they tested some of the candidates themselves.  Andrew Yang did the best.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O`Rourke, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Kirsten Gillibrand, Seth Moulton, John Delaney, Wayne Messam, Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, Bill de Blasio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  The guy has got a serious memory.  He did eventually falter and couldn`t quite come up with every last name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Seven seconds.  Five, four, time!  Julian Castro.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  So close.  Castro came in technically after the bell.  Steve Bullock was never mentioned.  Now, what does this all have to do with anything?  Well, Castro did make it in before the deadline for something very real, the next debate along with Yang.  That means there are ten candidates that will be on that more elite stage for the next debate in September.

That`s your news fix update.  Thanks for watching THE BEAT. We`ll be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.  And "HARDBALL" is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump`s religious test.  Let`s play HARDBALL.

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