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Trump picks fight with U.S. Ally. TRANSCRIPT: 8/21/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Paola Ramos, Jason Johnson, Victoria Defrancesco Soto, SteveIsrael, Tyah Roberts, Barbara Res, Steve Madden

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: You get everything you need to know about recessions and then some but of you liked a little bit of horse in the hospital day, you`re going to love the podcast. Download it now wherever you get your podcast. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Chuck. Thank you very much. We have a lot going on tonight. Donald Trump picking fights with a U.S. ally, another Twitter spat on the ground while Trump is trying to seize new powers.

Donald Trump also caving to the NRA over background checks. One of the student leaders from Parkland is here and Democrats say whistleblowers warning about improper influence in Donald Trump`s infamous tax audit.

We begin tonight with what you could call the ridiculous obscuring and extreme Trump power grab which may fail in the courts. You know, there`s a lot of news this week that could be from the onion. Denmark punking Trump over his musings about buying Greenland which wasn`t even for sale.

Trump now canceling a visit to the U.S. ally. The ongoing feud with a former top aide right out of a reality show plot line and of course the story that has everyone asking to define the word star. Sean Spicer seeking celebrity redemption on a dance show. These are spicy stories.

Some are purely madcap like Spicer, some are spats that reveal something larger as U.S. foreign policy can turn on Trump`s frenemy issues. But our top story tonight is about the Trump administration`s actions that are as a matter of facts in history reaching extreme degrees.

So if you haven`t heard much about this top story tonight. Note that Donald Trump isn`t tweeting much about it, it doesn`t involve trolling or reality shows. It is about a President seizing new powers to detain people indefinitely.

Let me repeat. Indefinite detention. That sounds ominous because it is. The U.S. constitution, most democracies severely limit the government`s power to detain people. People not just adults, not just citizens, not just legal residents but all people because protections for human rights apply to all humans. Keep that in mind as you take in the Trump administration`s new federal rule seizing detention powers and attempting to abolish the current court approved limit on how long migrant families are detained.

Trump pushing to end the 20 day limit and claim the power to hold them for as long as it takes for their cases to get decided. Some officials say that could be months. But there`s no formal limit. No limit means no limit, indefinite. Some people could still be released before 20 days are up. Sure. Others might not be released for months or years.

Trump`s own officials are struggling to defend this today.



REPORTER: What would the maximum be?

ALBENCE: There is no maximum. The maximum amount of time is that is what`s required to complete the case but I should also note that these individuals want - let me--

REPORTER: If there`s no maximum it equals indefinitely.

ALBENCE: No, it`s not.


MELBER: That`s a huge deal. It has been in the works but the formal rule is now being released in these waning days of summer after months of immigration controversies. So what do you need to know? First this is an attempted power grab but Trump doesn`t get the last word because this would change a court agreement the Presidents in both parties have followed.

A federal judge must still approve this plan. The agreement it would alter is from a court settlement known as the Flores agreement. Why is it there that agreement? Well, here`s a part of the story that goes well beyond Trump, it predates it.

Many Presidents in both parties have been reined in by the courts over mistreating migrants and trying to lean towards indefinite detention when it happens in fact back in 1980s migrant kids fleeing violence in El Salvador were kept in atrocious conditions held behind a barricade of razor wire surrounding an old motel in Pasadena.

Migrants were locked in overcrowded rooms, children and adults jammed in together. The New York Times reporting, those kids didn`t get any school, recreation doctors or visits with relatives. And they endured body cavity searches.

It took migrant advocates going to court and judges rebuking the administration to stop that problem and now to give you the context we dug up how that lawsuit from that court battle was reported at the time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 14-year old Alma Ginera Cruz has been held in this Pasadena detention center for a month and a half since she was caught trying to enter the country. Under immigration and naturalization service policy she can be released only to a parent.

But her mother is afraid to pick her up for fear they will both be deported. Lawyers from the centers for use law and immigrants` rights charged the children are being used as bait to catch the parents. They filed a lawsuit challenging the policy and the conditions under which youngsters are held.


MELBER: That was a huge deal. They won a part of that battle setting these rules which were ultimately finalized by courts in the Clinton administration. Those rules are part of the framework for most of these battles today, from Obama`s handling of a Central American migrants search to Donald Trump`s crackdowns.

Now Trump officials say they had to split up families partly as a way to combat these very rules. They claim that doing that was so they wouldn`t be accused of holding kids pass the 20 day mark. And now at a time when Stephen Miller`s consolidated more power over the entire immigration system, we see this whole stale attack on these human rights rules.

Now judges could reject this just like they recently rejected the Trump administration`s attack on rules to provide toothpaste and soap to detained kids. But let`s look at this all together. As a matter of ethics, I want you to know. These rules set a minimum threshold for human rights and human dignity.

As a matter of ideology, honest conservatives and civil libertarians support these protections, both as human rights and as a limit on government power. You remember all the arguments about stemming the federal government`s power. Some of that looks empty as a Republican President tries to seize these new powers of indefinite detention.

And one more thing. If this term rings a vague bell if it sounds concerning, recall the last time the Supreme Court limited the government`s power to hold foreigners an indefinite detention. It was in a case where the arguments for it are the strongest possible, indefinitely holding suspected terrorists and enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay.

Now there were some strong security arguments there, some of those people look terrible. But that didn`t mean a President could overrule Congress and the courts to claim those unilateral detention powers even regarding foreigners, even regarding suspected terrorists.

Some of those claims to indefinite detention without trial were rejected by conservative leaning Supreme Court and ruled unconstitutional. This history is the context for this power grab today that Donald Trump`s not tweeting about. It`s the context from Flores to Gitmo to Steven Miller and this is a time to keep your eye on the ball.

I`m joined now by Jason Johnson from The Root, Victoria Defrancesco Soto from the University of Texas and Paola Ramos, a former campaign aide to Hillary Clinton and now hosts of Vice`s LatinX. Your thoughts.

PAOLA RAMOS, FORMER CAMPAIGN AIDE TO HILLARY CLINTON & HOST, VICE`S LATINX: So I think you framed it perfectly I think this goes way beyond immigration policy. This goes way beyond any sort of deterrence tactics. This is then very deliberately, very strategically trying to reframe and rewrite who in this country is entitled to basic human rights. I mean that is a big deal.

So my question always is instead of brown kids in these detention centers, instead of them if we had American kids, if we had white kids, European kids, would they be pushing for this so hard, right? Because knowing what we know, right? We know that they don`t have toothpaste in there. We know that there are kids sleeping in cages. We know that seven children died under their watch.

We know that they don`t have access to vaccines, to basic shots, knowing all of this again, why - why are they doing this?

MELBER: Right and why right now?

RAMOS: Why right now and I go back to one thing that I heard this week repeatedly which is as Donald Trump was pushing this anti-abortion effort, right? He was using his words he kept saying every child is the gift of God. He said those words. Every child is a sacred gift of God. Are those children also? Does he view them the same way?

MELBER: I think that`s very important because we`re now in the space. We`re talking about what the government can do to whom and to human beings. You talking about the value of life in that language, children. Jason, viewers know you`re not a big fan of the President.

I think it`s important that we look at this story tonight much broader than Trump which is why we reported it out with some of the context. Regardless of your views of the President, what do you think and would you support it? Indefinite detention powers for any President?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT: No Ari and the really dangerous part about this is you know in the military, they call it mission creep but the same thing can happen with policy. If you basically say I can separate children from their parents until some legal issue is determined, right?

At this point they`re just saying well, until someone`s immigration status is determined. Well, what happens in the instances where information over to determine a child immigration status is based on information they would have to get from their parents. There are 3-year olds, 5-year olds, 7-year olds. They don`t know what their address is. They don`t know the entire circumstances.

They were brought here by a parent who was fleeing violence or danger or some other issue, one way or another, it is an excuse to basically hold people indefinitely and if that can be done to people who are legally seeking the right to come to this country and seek refuge, that same sort of policy could eventually be used on American citizen and Ari, I think this is really key and one of the reasons that this is a very good report.

No matter how many times we say that this is a terrible administration and I love my country more than any particular presidency, the greatest fear that we have to have is any administration using a power that can subsequently be used by someone worse down the road.

And as bad as we think Donald Trump is, imagine this sort of behavior, imagine this sort of policy in the hands of the President who is actually slightly more sophisticated, they could use it for all sorts of excuses, all sorts of terrorism, gang members could be defined as terrorism held indefinitely. That is the danger of these kinds of policies at the border. What they could become down the road.

MELBER: Victoria, here was the President on this.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the things that`s happening when they see you can`t get into the United States or when they see if they do get into the United States, they will be brought back to their countries and it won`t matter if they get in or not because we`re doing that. They won`t come.


MELBER: There`s a lot in there including a theory about how information will travel back and whether indefinite detention notwithstanding what I just laid out as what`s wrong with it. Will still be considered worse than what people may be fleeing.

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: So the Trump administration, Stephen Miller particular has argued that having families, family protections, protections for children, basically the Flores settlement is an incentive for folks from Central America to come. It`s their get out of free jail card but the truth of the matter is that these people are coming here because they are fleeing violence.

The Central American countries in the northern triangle are the ones with some of the highest homicide rates. The other piece to this Ari is that we also see some of the highest femicide rates. The massive gang culture that is taken place in El Salvador and some of these other countries are targeting women in particular and you`re not going to leave your child.

You are fleeing for your life and you`re not just going to leave your kids there and say well, I`m going to go over here to safety. That`s why we have the family units coming over. It`s not an incentive so instead of attacking the victims of this violence, why don`t we give economic aid, help with the economic development of these places.

Ari, it costs $3.5 million a day to fund detention centers here in the United States. If we took that money and use it for economic development, we would not be in the mess and the humanitarian crisis that we are right now.

MELBER: Yes and the reason I mentioned some of the history that this agreement was struck under the Clinton administration to rein them in, the Obama administration had high deportation rates and also struggled with the Flores agreement Jason, is to make sure people understand that while there are ways that Trump according to the evidence and the facts which we`ve shown is far more harsh and has more human rights abuses.

The system here is about whether the executive in our American system will actually be held accountable or not and that`s why when you hear indefinite detention, you got to perk up and it happens if there`s a Republican administration right now and it happens that they`re more extreme according to the rulings and the evidence we`ve got.

But as we`ve been discussing, it`s broader than that. Now here are some of the Democrats in Congress today speaking out where it does get back to the political side of it, not just the structural, take a look.


REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s actually what the administration proposes to do today to detain these frightened families who are at wits end, who are at their most desperate and vulnerable, indefinitely going forward. This cannot be allowed to stand.

JULIAN CASTRO, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is another example of this administration`s cruelty.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everything about immigration he`s done to try to scare people.


MELBER: Jason, some of those former members of Congress, many of them recognizable as aspirants for the White House but when you look at that, what do you see as important here because when the Democrats come in it is at the micro level, right? Which is individual cases, their stories are powerful and we`ve certainly covered that.

But it seems that today is a marker where we`re at the macro level. Steven Miller was not kidding when he came out and said the President`s power shall not be questioned.

JOHNSON: Right and that`s the thing Ari. If this goes back, you don`t have to go see Miller, this goes back to Steve Bannon and Bannon`s theory that the best way to sort of overtake this country was to tear down the state, to make the state so dysfunctional that you will lead to circumstances where people will leave, self deport and that allows some of these right wing forces to go forward.

You know, to be perfectly honest if this administration had not pulled so much funding away from immigration courts, this may not be as much of a problem. The issue if you have pulled funding away from immigration courts, people`s cases are sitting there in stacking up and they`re trapped here for months and months and months and now you`re saying you can hold them forever.

This is a solution to a problem that this administration created so that they can continue with their white nationalist policies. That is the structural danger here that the Trump administration consistently creates problems, they create family separation and use that to push through these kinds of dangers.

That is what I think many candidates should be paying attention to because the political thing is fine but the structural mess will have to be solved by one these people if they somehow end up being President next year.

RAMOS: And I think he said it perfectly fine. It is - they will not be able to solve this problem. They don`t even know what this means logistically. They have no idea. What we do know is that this is part of their white supremacist manifesto. It reads like it, it feels like it and it is what is happening in front of our eyes every single day.

MELBER: Paola Ramos very well put. Victoria Defrancesco Soto, and Jason Johnson, thanks to each of you. Donald Trump meanwhile in a whole another issue caving on background checks after NRA pressure. We have that story, a Parkland student joining me.

And Trump`s diplomatic chaos, a self-created problem, the Greenland talk, we`re going to get into it with Barbara Res and behind closed doors, what is Trump`s top aide actually telling Republican donors about the recession. Later Sean Spicer. He knows the SNL treatment now. He`s signing up for more. We`ll explain all that when we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: Another top story tonight is the push for gun safety in America and it comes in two parts. First, the progress that gun safety groups are making. A spike in gun safety laws at the state level where most criminal law is actually made. A growing pressure on lawmakers in those do something rallies that we`ve seen since these recent shootings.

But then there`s part two, after supporting background checks Donald Trump is now formally caving to NRA pressure which included a lengthy phone call with an NRA Chief Wayne Lapierre that got results. Donald Trump backing down from his recent talk that he did support, he claimed a meaningful background checks.

The shift comes as lawmakers are in recess and the gun violence crisis in this country continues week in and week out. Remember we hear more about the shootings that tragically do happen than the close calls. Consider that there have been three attempted mass shooters apprehended since he`s these El Paso and Dayton shootings alone.

And a man in New Jersey who had 17 guns, a grenade launcher was found with incriminating Nazi paraphernalia. I`m joined now by Tyah Roberts, a Parkland student and co-founder the gun safety group `March for our Lives` and former Congressman Steve Israel, the author of this book, `Big Guns.`

Good evening to both of you on a tough topic. Congressman, do you see more hope in the part one that I mentioned which is all this pressure that seems to be building or more in your view, disappointment as the NRA has popped back up with this news tonight.

FMR REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D-NY): Well, in my 16 years in Congress, there were 52 mass shootings and I lost hope. I became very frustrated and I`m hoping that Tyah can make a fundamental difference. I`m hoping that the Parkland kids can change the dynamics.

Ari, let me just take you inside the dynamic in Congress. In every one of these 52 shootings, they all resembled, the response resembled, every response before it. What happened was tragic shooting and members of Congress would tweet their condolences and there`d be moments of silence and flags would be lowered.

And my colleagues would say now we`re going to do something. This time it will be different. And it wasn`t much different. They basically waited out the American public. They thought that maybe American voters would have short memories and then there was a lot of waffling. Tyah, I hope that as I said before, the Parkland kids will make a difference because the House and Senate are coming back. There is one person on Capitol Hill who will decide whether the bill that the House Democrats pass for strengthened background checks gets a vote in the Senate and his name is Mitch McConnell.

Everything is on Mitch McConnell now and we`ve got to focus on him.

MELBER: Well, we have a former member of Congress here, Tyah, shouting you out and what you guys are trying to do so walk us through it.

TYAH ROBERTS, CO-FOUNDER, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Yes, thank you so much for having me. With this peace plan for a safer America, `March for our Lives` is really trying to change the conversation around gun violence and gun violence prevention legislation.

We`ve allowed the gun lobby to have their opinion on it and have that be pushed on a federal and state level for far too long and with this Peace Plan, we`re taking back the narrative and we`re not only pushing the needle. We are changing everything about this conversation from what we site as the main sources of this problem, down to the way that we approach solving it.

It`s not just about mass shootings, this is about every day shooting that happen in communities across the country and this is about suicides that happen in rural and suburban communities. This is not just something that we can solve in a day but it`s not something that we can ignore.

So we have brought this plan forward to say this is where you take action. You can agree with us or you can come up with something better but we can`t state where we`ve been because children will continue to die.

MELBER: And you lay it out there. We think about what happened at school that you attend in Parkland and Congressman, the pattern here with Donald Trump is quite clear in the open, which goes to the debate about how credulously do you treat someone who contradicts himself and lies so habitually.

We want to show because a few days ago, there was the news of him claiming he would spur back on checks this time. He sounded a similar empty line after Parkland, take a look.


TRUMP: We`re going to be very strong on background checks. We do endorse the background checks. We have to keep guns out of the hands of those that pose the threat. And this really includes background checks.


MELBER: But it hasn`t included background checks not as the Washington Post reports when the NRA tells him that`s enough, you can talk for a week now, you have to be quiet and I guess the President, one of the most powerful government official in the country says, OK, NRA, I guess, they`ll call that.

ISRAEL: Well, that`s exactly right, Ari and look, the whole problem is just raw politics. The gun manufacturing industry controls the NRA. The NRA controls even the President of the United States and members of Congress. I can`t tell you how many of my former colleagues, Republicans would say to me after they voted against something like strengthen background checks supported by 85 percent of their own constituents in the members only elevator which was private, they say you know, I know I voted against that. I wish I could have voted for it.

And I`d say, well, why didn`t you vote for it and the answer was I will get a Republican primary and I can`t afford it. When members of Congress are more concerned about Tyah and her school mates and their safety in classrooms, more concerned about them than they are about losing a primary, maybe we`ll see some action.

MELBER: Well stated and Tyah, because your sort of this activism leading how do we deal with this. I`m curious what you`re moving is doing and what your organization thinks about the fact that the NRA is not just an organization that is it revolved around hunters or lawful sporting or you know, self defense in the home.

There`s a lot of good arguments that relate to why people in United States have long held certain guns but take a look just at their spending for example. When you look at what a political behemoth they`ve become and the controversies, you have Wayne Lapierre billing group for accused of self- dealing.

We can put this up on the screen. $39,000 for Beverly hills shopping sprees. I think we have this $18000 here for a car and driver in Europe. 13,800 in rent for an intern, that`s a pretty good deal according to newly revealed NRA internal documents. Does it matter to your group that the NRA seems to be doing things other than representing lawful gun owners.

ROBERTS: Of course it matters and it should matter to the entire American population and everyone who previously thought that the NRA was helping responsible gun owners. The only people that the NRA is helping are gun manufactures just trying to put blood money in their pockets.

MELBER: Tyah Roberts and Congressman Israel, an important story. I`m going to stay on and really interesting having the conversation between both of you. I appreciate it.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

ISRAEL: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you. Up ahead, there`s news on Trump impeachment, the caucus growing again today in the summer. Also what`s Trump`s Acting Chief of staff is saying about fears of a recession behind closed doors and after Donald Trump dumps Denmark over the Greenland drama, there`s a deeper question about blind loyalties.

Guess who`s here? Former Trump organization Barbara Res live on THE BEAT when we come back.


MELBER: Tonight Donald Trump`s brainstorming ideas and his internet trolling, it`s all blowing up in his face on the world stage. It started with this, Trump musing about a so-called real estate deal where he might try to buy Greenland and then trolling everyone about it by posting this photoshopped picture captioned, "I promise not to do this to Greenland."

Very funny Donald but you`re President so it`s different than when other people post jokes online and it merited a response from the prime minister of Denmark, a longstanding U.S. ally who shot Trump down and said Greenland`s not for sale and added, "I strongly hope this is not meant seriously."

Now the idea may not sound serious, given Trump`s photoshopped diplomacy but he is now taking the response seriously and taking the rejection like a snow flake. Canceling a planned bilateral visit to Denmark.


TRUMP: The Prime Minister`s statement that it was absurd - that it was an absurd idea was nasty. Don`t say what an absurd idea that is. They can`t treat the United States with a statement, how absurd. When they say it was absurd and it was said in a very nasty, very sarcastic way.


MELBER: OK. Let`s just deal with this real quick. We know it`s how he operates. Attack, troll, mock, bully and then indignantly complain other people are being sarcastic or bullying him be it the Danish Prime Minister or the media or his own former aides from Michael Cohen to Omarosa to Scaramucci who recently shared this New Yorker cartoon online to capture the 5 stages of employment at the Trump White House.

From walking in, excited right there in that MAGA hat on your head, to Trump tweeting at you as he brandishes his knife, to the final stage here, a knife stabbed in your back and it all unfolds in public so the new employees they know what they`re in for.

But folks as the old saying goes, this is bigger than Greenland. OK, that`s not a staying but this is I think about more than Greenland and more than petty feuds. This is now a challenge to our civics and our culture when the President of United States wants to make all of this stuff our new normal.

And even the most measured observers among us have had enough. Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene Robinson now writing, "We must face the truth that our President is raving like a lunatic."

So we turn to someone to help us calm down, Barbara Res, Former Executive Vice President of Trump organization. Author of "All alone on the 68th floor" and a knowledgeable expert in all things Donald Trump. Not the only thing you`ve done in your life but it is relevant.

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Well, it became very important for some reason.

MELBER: How`s your summer going?

RES:  Good.

MELBER:  Good?

RES:  Yes.

MELBER:  It`s nice to see you.  It`s bigger than Greenland though, right?  It`s also about anything can become the most important thing to him if it - - if it hurts him, if it wounds him.  Is he a snowflake?

RES:  Oh absolutely, absolutely.  I mean, he does the worst things and then when somebody just does a little thing, how dare they.  This is the United States they`re insulting.  It`s ridiculous.

MELBER:  And then there`s the thing where everyone around him -- and it`s not just his employees because OK, you have to leave if you`re not going to support your boss in that world of Trump.  But even outside, media allies who could let it go or leave it up, they feel the need in this Trumpified Republican media machine to say no, everything is a good idea.  Everything is a serious idea.  Take a look at the way this Greenland thing was treated.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL:  The president who knows a thing or two about buying real estate wants to take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don`t understand why people are dismissing this like it`s some sort of a crazy idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think this is going to happen.  Anybody who`s in denial, it doesn`t -- it`s going to happen.  Manifest destiny Greenland is going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you don`t like this, you`re not truly an American patriot.


RES:  It`s funny.

MELBER:  Yes.  Funny ha, ha or funny the Republic isn`t slowly dying.

RES:  It`s funny ha, ha to be honest with you, but I`m happy to see that this slowly dying.  They`re committing (INAUDIBLE) I think.

MELBER:  You think that the political movement is slowly dying.

RES:  Yes, absolutely.  I guess maybe that`s wishful thinking but absolutely.

MELBER:  When you look at the number of people who worked for him not only in the old days like you but recently, and then as we showed they are publicly feuding with him, you keep it classy.  You`re the a more like the Michelle Obama go high type, but you obviously have disagreements with him.  You`ve laid those out and on a substantive grounds.  Him and Scaramucci are fighting like dogs.  And we`re told according the reporting that`s not a strategy.

This is from Politico, not much strategy behind Trump`s name-calling, when presented with the possibility of the attacks, have given Scaramucci`s critiques more oxygen.  White House official responded, with -- they don`t give an "S."

RES:  You know, I was on a show with Scaramucci recently, Donny Deutsch, and you know, he was like old gung-ho for Trump.  I don`t know what the hell --

MELBER:  Recently?

RES:  Yes.  All of a sudden he changed.  But you know, I don`t mean to question his credibility, it`s just -- but you know, he just turned.  He was pushing Trump.  He`s going to win, he`s you know, he`s the right thing and you know -- I don`t know.

MELBER:  What happens though?  I mean, obviously, these people at some point before their last day on the job go oh wait, this isn`t working out, I want out, and then I have to reposition on the outside.  I mean, it must be -- I don`t know how you felt when you first left the Trump Organization in New York where he had plenty of enemies.

I mean, you had all the racial strife, you had the Central Park Five, you had him denying according to the Department of Justice minorities of being able to stay in the places.  Did you feel you had to do some sort of reset with New York because now it`s so super-sized?  I mean one explanation for Scaramucci is he looked around and said, I got to get further distance from this.

RES:  I think that`s right.  I think he probably do.  I think he thought that he was getting into dangerous ground with himself.  And there`s no gain for him, actually.  Although I don`t know.  They may have been lost by coming out.

As for me, I sort of had my own reputation.  And you know, I like to say that no contractor was ever cheated on any job I worked on. 

MELBER:  You were overseeing, yes.

RES:  Yes.  So I wasn`t so -- I didn`t really have to make up -- and he wasn`t that bad then.  You know, people start to think he was a little bit of a joke, but more -- later on when he started getting involved with the models and buying you know the Trump vice and the wine and all that stuff and then you know, The Apprentice.  I mean, that to me -- and many people was -- he`s like cartoon at that point.

MELBER:  Yes.  I guess the last question before I let you go as a former Trump aid is are you considering going on Dancing with the Stars?

RES:  Absolutely, and I`d be great.

MELBER:  Yes, what`s your best dance move.

RES:  I think maybe the Tango.

MELBER:  The Tango is classic.  Barbara, we always appreciate having you here.  You`ve been there, you`ve done it, you know him, and you give us extra insight so thank you for coming through.

RES:  My pleasure.

MELBER:  Our segment continues because I want to get into something with another special guest.  You`ve heard all about these jitters, the markets, the Trump recession talk, economists concerned.  There`s no stable leadership from the White House with these growing signs of a potential recession and Trump is flip-flopping one day to the next on his own plans of what to do about it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Payroll taxes, I`ve been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time.  Whether or not we do it now or not is -- it`s not being done because of recession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are we going to see a payroll tax cut which is aimed at the middle class?

TRUMP:  I`m not looking at a tax cut now.  We don`t need it.


MELBER:  OK.  Tuesday, yes, Wednesday, no.  He did the same thing on an issue that would benefit mostly no one other than the very rich which is something they call indexing of the capital gains tax.


TRUMP:  So we`re talking about indexing and we`re always looking at the capital gains tax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You said that you have the executive authority to index capital gains.

TRUMP:  I`m not looking to do indexing.  I don`t want to do that now.


MELBER:  Why so much contradiction out in the open?  Well, there are reports that Trump is privately telling people he`s concerned, even rattled about this potential recession which might affect his thinking as he jumps back and forth about what he might do and worried that he could lose the election over it, but then in public, he denies it all.


TRUMP:  The fake news of which many of you are members is trying to convince the public to have a recession.  Let`s have a recession.  The United States is doing phenomenally well.


MELBER:  We always look for new and interesting voices.  A first-time guest on THE BEAT is someone you have certainly heard of, a businessman, an entrepreneur, a fashion designer Steve Madden, Founder and former CEO of the company that bears his name.  Nice to see you.


MELBER:  You were following one of the rules in tech which is the more successful you are, the less you have to dress up.

MADDEN:  I like it, yes.  Well, if Trump would give me a job in his administration, I`d work in the Economics Department, I might take off my hat.

MELBER:  You would take off your hat for that public service.

MADDEN:  Yes, and I could help him.

MELBER:  Well, let`s start right there.

MADDEN:  He needs my -- he needs a little help.

MELBER:  He claims to be a deal maker.  You are actually known to be a deal maker.  Assess him on what we just saw.  Does that back in forth matter to the economy?  Does it hurt anything?  Does it help when he just goes oh we might do this, we might do that?

MADDEN:  So I think that he got himself in over his head with China.  And you know, he`s negotiating against the guy that`s president for life and Trump is only president for another two years.  So he`s got not as much leverage as the other guy.

And I think the Chinese thing is hurting the economy.  The tariffs are hurting the economy.  They`re forcing prices up, people are going to lose their jobs.  It`s just -- it`s just terrible for the economy.

MELBER:  Well, and Steve, as you know, that`s where the economics meet the politics because what are the two things that people know that Trump did -- I`m not talking about the tweets and the talk, what has he done regarding the economy?  Everybody knows there was a big tax cut but it went mostly to the top and there`s a trade war on.  And you`re saying the trade war doesn`t help Americans.

MADDEN:  The trade war -- the trade war is hurting Americans.  It really is.  So much of what we have from our iPhone to our Steve Madden shoes comes from China.  And not all my goods come from China but it`s just -- it`s just going to force prices up.  It`s going to squeeze margins, cost jobs, it`s a terrible thing.  It disrupts supply chain --

MELBER:  Now, we never know -- Steve, we never know when you mention your name whether you`re self-promoting or plugging your business.  We can`t tell the difference.

MADDEN:  You know, I`m doing all of it.

MELBER:  Because it`s all one and the same.


MELBER:  What about the pushback that someone would say is oh, OK, Ari is talking to rich Steve Madden who`s got a business interest in China.  And of course, Steve Madden doesn`t like the tariff war.  And gosh, if we really beat China, if Trump wins, his aides and his economic guys, and Larry Kudlow would say, we`re going to beat China, and in the long run we`re going to get more shoes made here instead of Steve Madden shoes made elsewhere.  What do you say to that?

MADDEN:  We`re not going to make any shoes in America but we have other jobs in America.  We have design jobs.  We have marketing jobs.  We have retail jobs, creative jobs.  So it shifted.  We just don`t have the hands that make the shoes now.  They`re made offshore.

MELBER:  And you`re saying -- I just want to be very clear.  You`re saying that even if you envision a fanfiction videogame MAGA universe where Trump beat China, whatever that means, you`re saying those shoes wouldn`t come back to America.  They`d be made in a different country.

MADDEN:  No, we`re just going to move production to Mexico or to Vietnam.

MELBER:  Got it.

MADDEN:  You know, to Africa, things like that.

MELBER:  You`re a boss.  Are you familiar with the term boss?


MELBER:  You know --

MADDEN:  Sometimes, yes.

MELBER:  You know, yes.

MADDEN:  Yes.  Yes.

MELBER:  Bosses have to be held accountable sometimes.

MADDEN:  Yes, yes.

MELBER:  When you look at the polling on some of this stuff, it`s always polarized, it`s always you know, red and blue, but there is an overwhelming majority of people -- we`re going to put this up here that say, if there is a recession and Trump`s worried about it, 69 percent of people say they would hold Trump accountable.  Is that what you think would happen?

MADDEN:  Of course, he`d you know -- he`s in charge so he`s going to be held accountable and I think it`ll hurt him.  And I -- if he`s watching, I implore him to end these tariffs.  It`s just -- it`s just -- it`s really hurtful and it`s causing so much chaos, disrupting supply chains.  It`s going to cause a recession.

MELBER:  Is China outsmarting him or they just have more runway?  Because they just as you alluded to, they just have more time.  I mean, we are on a political calendar.  You`re dealing with -- whatever you would want to call it, an autocratic county.

MADDEN:  Yes, he`s different.  He`s --

MELBER:  They don`t have a time limit to fight him out.

MADDEN:  Yes.  He`s got -- he`s trying to do something, he`s trying to help, the president is trying to do something, OK.  But negotiating with the Chinese like he`s negotiating with someone from Brooklyn is not going to work.  It`s just not going to work.

MELBER:  Barbara Res sounds like someone from Brooklyn.

MADDEN:  Yes, maybe.

MELBER:  All right, now, we`ll talk about the predictions.  Nobody knows what`s going to happen but you know better than some.  Everywhere -- the market is all over the place.  Mick Mulvaney is privately telling the sort of Republican donor class, well, look, be ready for a "moderate and short recession."  Is that what you`re bracing for?

MADDEN:  I`m good at predicting heel heights.  You know, I just hope there`s not a recession, you know.  And I don`t want to see a recession just so -- because it hurts the president.  We don`t want that.  But some of the things that he`s doing could be creating a recession.

MELBER:  Like -- other than the trade war?

MADDEN:  Like the tariffs, like the deficit is just out of control, it`s crazy.  And the tweets, the tweets are hurting.  The flip-flopping and the tweets are hurting too.  The tweets are really hurting because it undermines sort of confidence and things.  And I know he knows better and I hope he`s watching and hope he stops doing it.

MELBER:  You say you hope he`s watching.  What do you know about him?  Have you ever spent time with him?

MADDEN:  I have met him a couple of times.  I don`t know him.  I was a judge on the beauty pageant like ten years ago or something.  And you know, I think he means well.  I just think he`s misguided and he really needs help.  He needs to get some smart guys around him.

MELBER:  He means well on what?  I mean, a lot of people don`t feel he means well in Charlottesville or means well on children in cages.

MADDEN:  He`s -- you know, he`s made some mistakes.  I`m not defending him.  I`m just saying that I think when he wakes up he means to do well but I just think he`s misguided.  And I think -- and I think that he just needs smart people around him.

MELBER:  You know how you talk -- you`re talking about him the way a lot of people talk about him in Washington D.C. including when we talk to Republicans on background sometimes which is they talk about him like he`s 12, like means well but needs guidance.

MADDEN:  Well --

MELBER:  He`s the President of the United States.

MADDEN:  Just -- we had the smartest people in the world in America, the head of Goldman Sachs, the head of -- get some of those financial guys and surround yourself with them and try to -- and try to make a good deal.

MELBER:  I got a final question for you off politics just because you`re here.


MELBER:  Last question.


MELBER:  What`s the biggest advice you give someone watching about personal finance, personal planning, how to live your life responsibly?

MADDEN:  So you know, I would say -- the most important thing I would say that`s just not an answer to your question is --

MELBER:  I love it.

MADDEN:  To young people, I want to say, when you go to work, try to do something you love doing.  Don`t do it for the money.  Do it because you love doing it.

MELBER:  Don`t do it for the paper.

MADDEN:  Don`t do it for the money.  Do it because you love doing it and the money will follow.

MELBER:  Interesting and concise.  Steve Madden, first time on THE BEAT, I hope you come back.

  MADDEN:  Yes, great to be here.

MELBER:  Nice hat.  Go Yankees.


MELBER:  I`m going to fit in a break and then there`s a bombshell new lawsuit, a whistleblower now alleging the IRS might be doing funny business with Trump`s tax audit.


MELBER:  A new development in the escalating fight to get Trump`s tax returns, and this comes from new court filing with Democrats on that key committee the House Ways and Means Committee.  They`re now revealing that a whistleblower contacted them over allegations of potential misconduct and inappropriate efforts to influence the IRS`s mandatory audit of the president.

It sounds like a mystery.  We don`t know who`s allegedly interfering or what the evidence for that is, what it entails.  But this is probably a surprise to many people that Trump`s tax or really every president taxes are audited under law.

It dates back to the Watergate era when Nixon`s vice president Spiro Agnew was forced to resign not for all that Watergate stuff but for garden- variety tax evasion.  President Nixon himself handing over his taxes to Congress in `73, and that was the same day lawmakers demanded them in the middle of all the Watergate problems.

There was a reporter`s question about unpaid income taxes, again, separate from Watergate, which actually prompted this now-famous iconic Nixon moment.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.  Well, I`m not a crook.  I`ve earned everything I`ve got.


MELBER:  The actual statute says the IRS does "mandatory examinations of both the president and vice president`s taxes."  In fact, take a look at how specific it is.  The taxes under audit have to be kept in an "orange folder at all times and locked in a secure drawer or cabinet."

That is newly relevant as House Democrats say the whistleblower`s allegations strengthen this larger court battle which again, could go all the way to the Supreme Court over their demands that the IRS ultimately hand over what they`re demanding, something we`ve been reporting on, six years of Donald Trump`s taxes.

Now, the new court filing is part of the attempt to enforce this.  You may recall Trump`s Treasury Secretary has just said he won`t comply with the otherwise lawful subpoenas for these taxes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you received any instruction or guidance of any kind about how to handle congressional requests for President Trump`s tax returns?

STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF TREASURY, UNITED STATES:  Based upon the request, we`ll examine it and we will follow the law.

We will protect the President as we would protect any individual taxpayer.


MELBER:  The argument there is they`re doing what they do for any individual taxpayer under the law.  But as you just saw tonight, the law treats the president like a different taxpayer and the Congress is saying the law means they should get those taxes.

The courts may have the last word.  And when we come back, Sean Spicer, remember him?  Well, he goes from Donald Trump`s reality show to casting out on a reality show of his own.


MELBER:  Donald Trump`s former press secretary Sean Spicer is trying to step back into the spotlight.  He is known for misleading the public and even defending Trump`s conspiracy theories.


SEAN SPICER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE:  This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.

He went overwhelming with 306 electoral votes, the most since any Republican since Reagan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, first of all, it`s not a travel ban.

SPICER:  He is using the words that the media is using.  But at the end of the day, it can`t -- hold on, hold on, hold on.

We talked about wiretapping.  He meant surveillance.


MELBER:  Wow, some of those words just don`t mean what you thought they did.  Well, since that performance, he has kept a pretty low profile, gone on Fox News a couple of times.  But now he`s going for an early castoff on Trump`s reality show according to the New York Post, to the cast of Dancing with the Stars.

We should note, he did turn down the same offer two years ago saying he would be to too busy at the time.  Casting Spicer is drawing all kinds of criticism today.  The New York Times says it whitewashes the seriousness of his lies for Trump.  We should note he is not the first Trump supporter to hit the dance floor.

You know, Sean Spicer did a lot of different things with words, here in THE BEAT, we`ll just tell you there are no words.  Up ahead, the calls for a Trump impeachment probe are getting louder with new support.  We`ll explain.


MELBER:  An update on a story we`ve been tracking, this slow burn of impeachment continuing amongst some Democrats in the House.  127 now back impeachment proceedings against Trump.  The latest comes from Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin now publicly writing up his support today.

We will see what Speaker Pelosi does when all this comes together when Congress comes back from summer recess.  That does it for THE BEAT.  Thanks for watching.  We have a big show tomorrow night at 6 p.m. Eastern.  So hope to see you then.  But right now, it`s "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews.