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Dems ramp up impeachment probe. TRANSCRIPT: 8/23/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Christina Fialho, Carl Cameron, Michael Eric Dyson, Chris Brancato,John Flannery; Maya Wiley; Mark Takano; Basil Smikle; Zerlina Maxwell

CHUCK TODD, HOST, MSNBC: The Beat with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, HOST, MSNBC: Chuck, good evening, Chuck. Do you have time for a quick joke?

TODD: Sure, OK.

MELBER: You are hereby ordered to have a great weekend.

TODD: I appreciate that. I will - if you add the hereby, it does make it official.

MELBER: It sounds more official. I learn as I go but that`s what I`m hearing.

TODD: If you use hereby, it`s much - I hereby declare this 6:00 hour, the hour of Ari.

MELBER: Amen and have a great weekend for real. Chuck Todd, always good to see you.

TODD: Thanks.

MELBER: We have a lot of planned in this show tonight and if that joke didn`t make sense, I will explain it. It doesn`t mean it`ll get funnier but it will explain something the President is up to. As to what`s going on tonight, well, this impeachment caucus you`ve heard about it`s actually growing we have the newest member on The Beat.

Also Donald Trump in this downward spiral about the economy. Stocks now shaking, plummeting within his lashing out of China and his own Fed Chief, a serious story with some `hereby` elements and later, ICE shutting down a hotline for detained immigrants because it was featured apparently with a shout out on a Netflix show. We`ll explain.

But we begin tonight with these steadily growing calls as I mentioned from House Democrats demanding for real accountability for what they say are crimes by the President of the United States for obstruction of justice. 132 Democrats in the House now and one independent are backing impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Now let`s be clear about what happened because a lot of other things have been happening but take it together and now as the summer draws to a close, you have more than 55 percent of the entire Democratic caucus backing impeachment probes. Judiciary Chair Nadler ramping up his efforts asking four other House committees investigating Trump to share what they have uncovered as his committee tries to decide whether they actually file the formal articles of impeachment.

Now we all know and if you watch the news, I think you know the support for this has grown slowly in fits and starts, almost now like a sleeper summer hit because while members went back to their districts and spent time with constituents and in the time since Bob Mueller testified a month ago, it`s now 39 more members of Congress publicly coming out for impeachment.

This is our NBC tally and that includes if you`ve been counting 7 just this week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to finish the work that Mueller didn`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me start by saying this. No one, no person is above the law and that includes the President of the United States. And--

REP. MARK TAKANO (D-CA): I`m announcing my support for formally launching impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Essentially the impeachment inquiry has already begun and I support that investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe we should begin an impeachment inquiry.


MELBER: All of that plus the fourth ranking House Democrat coming out this week as well, that`s basically one of the top people who actually is on Pelosi`s team. Now she`s still opposing in this week. She was actually facing protesters at an event honoring her about this in San Francisco.


PROTESTER: I need you to lead for my community.

PROTESTER: Lead for her community.

PROTESTER: I am undocumented.

REPORTER: So the lifetime achievement award ceremony is quickly interrupted with people holding impeach now signs.

PROTESTER: Impeach now.

PROTESTER: Impeach now.

REPORTER: Police escorted shouting protesters out of the room.


MELBER: This is part of what democracy looks like. In a moment I`m going to be joined by one of the members who just came out for impeachment. Congressman Mark Takano. We begin on the law with Maya Wiley, former counsel to Mayor of New York and former federal prosecutor John Flannery. Good to see both of you.

Viewers would be forgiven for questioning why now, what`s going on, shouldn`t the Democrats have come out earlier and yet John, whatever the timing is, I think in Congress as well as in life substance still can matter a lot more than timing. And they are showing up. What does that say to you?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think it tells us that Trump will be impeached. I think it`s a question now of when Pelosi not withstanding and I think the combination of the 5 committees pulling together their resources, not just for the legal reason but to make sure they have the strongest amount of evidence to go forward with that so they can sell it to the public.

And I think if they have decent witnesses on September 17, we`ll see another bump like we did with the Mueller appearance before the Judiciary Committee.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Yes, I certainly agree with John that this really is a bump because the public is being given more information and as opposed to a William Barr`s spin on what the Mueller report said. Let`s be honest way, the William Barr spin was very successful and I think also that Democrats, remember these are Democratic representatives coming out in favor.

Democrats are saying - it`s 72 percent are saying that they want to see impeachment inquiry and really what that means for Democrats is, are you going to demonstrate that you`re putting the principles above the politics and the principles here are if not this President, then what President.

What President crosses constitutional boundaries and demonstrates that they are not upholding the laws of the land and that they have in this case and if a substantial body of evidence that also raising clear questions around counterintelligence event which remember, when we`re talking about impeachment proceedings, we`re not talking about criminal proceedings.

We`re talking about a removal from office, not going to jail.

MELBER: Yes and you make that point, Maya and John, this also really revolves around how ideas get formalized in Washington which is a very hard process and so Al Green`s been pushing this. Now he is a critic of Trump. He has been a very straight forward that he thinks Trump does not deserve the office and is illegitimate and should be removed notwithstanding the other obstruction analysis.

So he sort of is already out there whether you call that super pro- impeachment or more left or whatever but he`s been leading this and it seems that the rest of the party now is coming along. Take a look at Congressman Green.


REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): Things start with a spark and sometimes the spark is ignored. Other times the spark can cause others to become consumed with the righteousness of a cause and participate in the cause itself.


MELBER: John Flannery, do you agree with that analysis at a time - to paraphrase Mr. Green - it`s a time to spark one up here.

FLANNERY: You know, some of the greatest speeches that we`ve had including Bobby Kennedy`s parallel to that about drips of water, rivulets becoming a wave that can`t be resisted. In politics the instruction is often that the shortest distance between two points is almost never a straight line in politics.

But what we`ve seen is exactly this reaction and sometime ago you asked me, will the truth will out and I think this is an example of the truth willing out. The accumulation of the public in these town meetings after Mueller`s pronouncements and of course, the number of members that are now shifting within the caucus and Pelosi`s looking like the odd person out and I don`t know how she comes back to lead this.

MELBER: Well, that`s what you really put your finger on Maya and you`ve advised you know, Mayor De Blasio who is also running for President, folks now and this is a question about how Democrats hash this stuff out. Take Conor Lamb who won in a Trump district, it was this example. It was March Trump country. This was a question about where do those folks come in.

And they`re having this public debate too. Again, some of this stuff has not always been on the news every night, especially with the way Donald Trump`s been causing market problems, we`re obviously going to cover that, but here was Lamb in an actual one of these town halls, take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I`m asking you is whether you will join with your 127 colleagues in the House of Representatives and support an impeachment inquiry. One that is already going on. It`s happening.

REP. CONOR LAMB (D-PA 17TH): I think we owe it to every American to find out what happened and make a judgment at the time but it is an extremely high bar.


MELBER: That`s what this looks like in the summer recesses Maya and part of the question I guess is, do you call that a Trump district because Trump won in the past or do Democrats start to look at that as a blue district because Mr. lamb won it and he`s also facing a different kind of pressure which is are you going to step up.

WILEY: Well, I - you know this is exactly the conundrum that Democrats are facing politically and I think one of the things that`s so important about Rep. Underwood coming forward a few days ago and saying she was going to support the inquiry because she is also representing one of those districts Trump won, traditional Republican district.

I think she unseated a four-term Republican, also Rep. Casten and also similar situation, six-term Republican, he also came out in favor of the inquiry. I think part of what they`re doing here is saying we know that we have to be Democrats because we were elected as Democrats.

Although we have these very complicated districts but part of it is because our constituents have to be served by leadership and sometimes leading means doing the right thing and using your leadership to explain your constituents why you think it`s right.

MELBER: And build support for that way.

WILEY: And build support.

MELBER: Stay with me. I`m going to bring it as promised, California Congressman Mark Takano who just announced his support for impeachment proceedings. Thanks for coming on The Beat tonight.

TAKANO: My pleasure Ari.

MELBER: Did you reach this position because you think, President Trump committed a crime?

TAKANO: I did reach this decision. I struggled with this and I`m - I kept on coming back to the obstruction of justice, being a very serious crime and that I could not give him a pass on, on obstructing justice and that no person is above the law, especially - not especially but even - even the person who holds the highest office in the land.

MELBER: So you`re - and this is where it`s very interesting with what we`ve been discussing here. Now you`re someone who actually has a vote in the matter. You think he committed a crime and you think leaving that unaddressed by the House, regardless of what the Senate may do.

I imagine you`re not going to tell me tonight that you have a secret plan to convince Mitch McConnell to remove the President from office and so who knows what would happen but you think that the House should do that. Your speaker Pelosi has said she also thinks he committed crimes that he should be - she`s even said reportedly according to Washington Post, he should be jailed.

So is there something here where you and she agree on that but disagree on going forward and how do you see this going? Or do you want to convince her otherwise?

TAKANO: Well, look this is - this is not a matter of my substituting my judgment for Speaker Pelosi`s. I have tremendous amount of respect for Speaker Pelosi. This is about me representing my district, the 41st district California.

It`s about my neighbors, my voters and you know, being back in the district has been an opportunity for me to get in touch with where - take a pulse on where people are and there is a responsibility of a representative to not just represent their interests but also - to be the conscience.

Here, I think the two are emerging. My conscience as a representative and what they`re telling me they want and I am - I am very - I`ve come around to feeling and believing that you know, the heart of the matter is that the Mueller report did not exonerate President Trump.

That it laid out very serious, serious evidence about the President`s interference with an investigation and it was not a trivial investigation. It was - it was not about private conduct. It was about - about Russian interference in our elections and elections are the foundation of our democracy.

And he must be held accountable and I go back to you know to when I was a 13 year old boy and I watched gavel to gavel, the hearings, the impeachment hearings led by Peter Rodino and showcasing those hearings was a new member of Congress Barbara Jordan of Houston, Texas and she captured my imagination as a 13 year old boy and she actually inspired me to think about a future in politics.

It was so important for me, a minority 13-year boy whose grandfather sat behind me, he sat behind me smoking his pipe, reading his Japanese pulp fiction. And you know, he had lost his wife`s property during World War 2 because they were in turned in internment camps and their five green houses in Bellevue, Washington were casualty of that great injustice.

So the constitution had failed him but I saw before me a woman who declared that her face in the constitution was whole, it was complete and she really comes my imagination and at stake here was a lesson, a civics lesson for all 13-year olds, 12-year olds. I have a - I just got an email from someone who congratulated me for coming out and taking the stand.

She watched - she was 10-years old when she watched those hearings and so at stake today is a lesson for all young people that no person is above the law, that obstruction of justice is a serious crime, especially when it`s about obstructing an investigation of great national importance.

MELBER: And that`s what`s interesting to hear sort of you really laid out and give us your thought process as Americans are wondering whether this is over or not. What`s going to greet Speaker Pelosi when she comes back? That is the decision maker for the floor of the House. Congressman Takano, thank you so much. John Flannery, Washington, thank you.

TAKANO: My pleasure.

MELBER: Maya Wiley is here with me in New York. Yes Sir, thank you. I did want to also get you on Corey Lewandowski because we - that`s the other piece of this when you talk about what Mueller did and if you listen to the DC day trading, there was a lot of criticism and it was I think, if we`re going to report it accurately, it was jarring for some to see a different Bob Mueller.

He did look older and he was quite concise and he made it clear that he was not going to play a lot of ball, he had worn them from the start so that was the day off but as we`ve reported tonight, you have now dozens more joining this and then you`re going to come back in September and Corey Lewandowski apparently if it doesn`t change, is going to be publicly questioned under oath about things that Mueller said were substantial evidence of obstruction.

Do you think that will matter next month?

WILEY: I think it`s going to matter tremendously because I think the piece that has been missing here for the American public is exactly what these witnesses said to Robert Mueller because the report is so dense and because Mueller was just going to stick to read my report.

So when people hear what these witnesses like Corey Lewandowski who were essentially directed to lie or obstruct by Donald Trump, I do think that`s going to matter and I think the mistake and I say mistake lightly because you know it`s - there`s a difficult decision and position to be in if you`re Rep.

Nadler is not forcing witnesses to testify publicly because the issue here in an inquiry isn`t just what the Congress members know, it`s what the American public knows.

MELBER: Right. Very interesting Maya Wiley. Thank you as well. I want to button up that last point. We`re going to do a quick 30 second break and then I`ll be right back on Trump`s meltdown on the economy and ordering around these companies about how they deal with China.

We`re going to show you the moment when Trump`s China hypocrisy was exposed on late night TV and the Trump administration also shutting down this hotline after a Netflix shout out. We`re going to talk to a lawyer behind it, who is fighting back and later tonight, a fall back Friday with Michael Eric Dyson and a man behind shows like the Godfather of Harlem. All that a lot more but we`ll be right back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: Here are two words you don`t always hear when Republicans talk about American companies. `Hereby ordered.` President Trump claiming he is hereby ordering U.S. companies who can do whatever they want under our laws to stop business with China because the President of United States said so, the same President who`s company does business with China wanting to order these companies around.

And all this is because he has been apparently in trade parlance getting punked by China, slapped now with $75 billion of new tariffs which have made the market nervous. Trump also basically throwing his own hand-picked Fed Chief under the bus right now. He`s asking who the bigger enemy is? His Fed Chair who he appointed or the leader of China.

That Chair Powell says Trump`s trade and tariffs might affect the economy and might affect the slowdown. Want to turn to all of this with Basil Smikle, Former Executive Director of the New York state Democratic Party.

Zerlina Maxwell, political strategist and director of Progressive Programming for SeriusXM. Nice to see you both.


MELBER: What do you think on the politics here, people know Donald Trump`s done two things for the economy since he came into office. Tax cut for the wealthy and a trade war with China. It seems that even Trump is worried about how this trade war is going.

BASIL SMIKLE, FMR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NY STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Absolutely because he was at a period of time taking credit for Obama era policies that actually got the economy spurred quite substantially but he owns this because we all are talking about it but the fact is he`s been so boastful about the tariffs and the sanctions and what have use that have actually called real pain for small businesses and caused real pain for farmers.

I remember Bill Clinton saying 20 years ago that the United States is only 4 percent of the world population so there`s only so much we can make and sell to each other. Think about that today where the spokesman for the National Retail Association said 95 percent of the world`s consumers live outside of our borders.

So what the President is doing is shutting down markets for our businesses and that is something that Presidents do not do so all of the blame is going to be squarely on his shoulders.

MELBER: Right and Zerlina, this is where facts can matter. You say America first but you say we`re going to clean up this or that, we`re going to drain the swamp. Those are slogans and by the way people in both parties use slogans. Then you go what is this actually mean and is America first?

Is it helping America if the markets are down, economies in jitters and companies in America often run by conservatives by the way if you look at the donation records are saying, yes, we need to do this and he`s now trying to order companies around like this is like left wing imagination.

MAXWELL: It`s a really bizarre time because you have the President who essentially ran on a lie that he was a successful businessman and we - I don`t know if we ignored the fact that he`s filed for bankruptcy many, many times or the fact that he seemed to run many of the businesses that he was running into the ground.

We ignored that and we thought that he would be good on the economy and as Basil said, he inherited the uptick that Obama worked so hard to get.

MELBER: Look, can I say something?


MELBER: To be fair to Donald Trump, I know that`s not popular but he has a lot of experience inheriting other people`s stuff.

MAXWELL: That is a fact, Ari, that is a fact so I think that you know, I think the con eventually is going to be revealed and I think that he is going to essentially trying to brainwash his supporters and it may work because it`s worked to this point that the economy is fine, even if the economic indicators continue to freak investors out and to indicate that there is a looming recession.

So I think that you know, I think that the fact that he lies about everything is going to catch up with him eventually because again, we`re talking about such a small margin of victory and so there are enough Americans that are going to be able to see through that propaganda.

MELBER: And this is what`s different about the economy to other issues because people will follow this closely. You can say well, Donald Trump is wrong about a lot of things but not everyone is going to follow it and catch up with the fact check. To your point in Washington Post, we have this reporting about the shadow that`s fallen on the economy and it says Trump`s telling his own aides, he thinks he can convince America`s economy`s vibrant, unrattled with a public messaging campaign, "Everyone is nervous, everyone."

Which shows he`s aware of the problem and to Zerlina`s point, he wants to smooth it over but isn`t it different if people actually can see that their 401K is smaller or if there is a recession, what that looks like?

SMIKLE: No, that`s absolutely right. I mean, people do feel it and I think it`s incumbent upon Democrats to find a way to talk about this. Actually thought Cory Booker in the last debate had some good language around this.

If you do this riff off of the old Reagan are you better off now than you were four years ago, there`s a riff of that that you can do which is what have you lost since Donald Trump has been President and people will say 401 K.

They will talk about affordability just broadly that they just can`t afford things so even if you get back some money in this payroll tax which by the way his economic adviser Larry Kudlow at one point said during the Obama administration, they didn`t work but they`re talking about it now.

Even if you get money back in your check as a result of that, the question is what can you now afford even with this money back? And the answer is not a whole heck of a lot particularly if you look at what`s happening in Michigan and the U.S. Steel laid off about 200 workers.

So when you start to hear things like that happening over and over again, you start to point fingers at someone and I think it`s incumbent upon Democrats and I know - I believe strongly that they will do this, find a way to focus that message on Donald Trump.

MELBER: Well and this goes to something larger Zerlina, I want to play some sound from one of Trump`s trade advisors who`s backing off. I don`t know how you feel but I`ve noticed that sometimes there can be a difference between talking about fighting and actually fighting. I don`t if you ever heard the expression, hold me back.

MAXWELL: I have heard that.

MELBER: Have you heard that?


MELBER: And sometimes people say hold me back quite honestly, genuinely which is I want to engage in the appearance of wanting to fight but please hold me back, I don`t want to fight. I really to that. I don`t want to fight.

MAXWELL: I don`t want to fight.

MELBER: But Donald Trump claims to want to do a lot of fighting and he claimed to want to do a lot of war.


MELBER: With all of the implications of economic war, trade war, China - China - China and this is new and I want our viewers to see it. Suddenly there`s a crack and his own people are saying no, no, it`s not a trade war as it starts to cost money. Take a look.


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: This is not a trade war. Trade war is when two countries are fighting over lowering their tariffs. What we`re fighting about with China is to have them stop stealing our intellectual property, taking our technology, dumping products into our markets, manipulating their currency and having their state owned enterprises run rampant around the world in massive substance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that`s completely fair and you`re getting credit.


MELBER: That`s a Trump advisor Navarro. He`s saying it`s not a trade war, are we in the `hold me back` phase of regret for this trade war?

MAXWELL: Yes, I think that`s where we are but you remember that Donald Trump said don`t believe what you see and what you hear and so I think that we have to remember that he said that because I think he meant that. You know, he says a lot of things but this he meant.

When you`re talking about loss, I was thinking I lost my sanity on the last few years of Donald Trump because of just the chaos and the lack of organization in terms of just being able to govern the country, making consumers and American voters feel comfortable that he has everything taken care of, that he is governing the country in a methodical way and thinking through policy decisions.

He`s not doing any of that and part of the problem is that he can see the chaos because we see the tweets and to your point, to your point, there`s the politics of people saying what they think of him. We`re in a different place now because the markets are looking--

MAXWELL: Exactly.

MELBER: He`s saying I got this and the markets are saying no, you don`t.

MAXWELL: Right and that`s the problem because now you`re dealing with people`s pocketbooks, their retirements, their ability to take care of their families and I think that those folks in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Michigan, they should be thinking long and hard about whether or not they`re going to support this President again or go with somebody different because he is not followed through on his economic promises.

MELBER: Zerlina and Basil, thanks to both of you. Always great seeing you. Up ahead, Donald Trump going to this global summit with world leaders and is still picking fights with NATO allies and Trump`s Immigration Chief is claiming that the new indefinite detention rule is actually for children`s protection and later what `Orange is the New Black` has to do with this controversy over detained immigrant hotline. I have a very special guest, a lot more coming up.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Trump`s immigration agenda has led to some very interesting problems.  Consider the Venn diagram that we are in right now.  Legal advice and a hit Netflix show, meet.  Now, this was a few weeks ago.

There was an episode of Orange is the New Black, that features inmates talking about an actual thing that exists in the real world.  A help line offered by a group, giving legal advice to immigrants.


SELENIS LEYVA, ACTRESS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK:  I found this group online, it`s called Freedom for Immigrants and they want to help people in here.

JACKIE CRUZ, ACTRESS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK:  And I called them, and I told them all about you, how cute and fly you are and you`re basically like the next Kylie Jenner and they have to save you.  So, they have this number to call, so you can get a lawyer, a free lawyer to come talk to you.

LEYVA:  But you have to be careful, though, OK?  Apparently, they figure out that you`re using the hotline, Big Brother shuts it down.


MELBER:  Before they shut it down and, well, that`s what they were talking about in the show.  But tonight, many people say, unfortunately, we have life imitating art.

We have a warning from a show that`s pressing it because within two weeks after that episode aired, ICE went ahead and got this help line shut down without telling the group that had actually been operating with that number since 2013, that it would need special approval to do so.

I`m joined by Christina Fialho, co-founder and executive director for Freedom for Immigrants, the group behind the help line.  Thanks for being here.


MELBER:  Good evening to you.  It`s a little bit of an odd story.  So, first of all, walk us through what this -- what this means, what has happened here?

FIALHO:  So, Freedom for Immigrants is a national nonprofit that visits and monitors immigration detention facilities across the country.  We have been running this national detention hotline since 2013, offering people and immigration detention a free connection to the outside world, to outside resource that they don`t have inside.

But, since our involvement in Orange is the New Black, ICE has completely shut down our hotline, nationwide.

MELBER:  And so, how does that work?  If someone is watching, thinking, well, how do they have that call?

FIALHO:  So, we have been working with the producers and writers of Orange is in New Black and we`ve taken them on visits to immigration detention facilities.  And as you mentioned, Freedom for Immigrants and our national hotline was featured in this season of Orange is the New Black.

And within two weeks of the premier, the hotline was completely shut down.  ICE blocked it in each of its detention facilities.  And I --

MELBER:  So, yes, I guess what I`m getting at as you  --  as you walk us through with this, this is their authority over these facilities, is what allows them to basically short circuit this?

FIALHO:  Correct.  ICE has a contract with a company called Talton Telecommunications and it allows for exorbitantly priced phone calls for people in immigration detention.  But we had a hotline that was offered to us, for free, and this allowed us to ensure that people in immigration detention had a connection to the outside world.

Now, other organizations have similar four-digit extensions that ICE provided them.  That includes the American Bar Association, the UNHCR, various other nonprofits providing support to people in immigration detention.

But ICE has singled us out by shutting down just our hotline, which we believe and know, is a response to our work on Orange is the New Black.

And let`s remember, ICE`s decision to shut down our hotline isn`t just an attack on people in immigration detention.  It`s an attack on our rights to free speech and transparent government.  And we are demanding that ICE restore our hotline or we will see them in court.

MELBER:  Well, very interesting to see that you put it that way and that you`re prepared to go to court about it, and it really  --  it touches on something that`s larger than just the hotline.

Although, I know you`re behind it and it`s important, which is something we`ve been discussing throughout these stories, which is the human rights that people have, even if they might be undocumented and legal status might be up in the air, what legal rights do they have under the U.S. constitution, under the way our laws are supposed to work.

And this, I think, puts a spotlight on some of that.  Christina Fialho, very interesting to learn all that from you.  Thanks for being on the show.

FIALHO:  Thank you so much.

MELBER:  Absolutely.  Appreciate it.  We`ll fit in a break.  But up ahead, there is this Mueller case against Roger Stone and prosecutors are planning to play the godfather at trial.  We`re going to get into that with Michael Eric Dyson.  And the G7 summit in France bracing for Trump`s arrival after that gaffe-filled trip overseas.  And, of course, "FALLBACK," all that coming up.



MELBER:  Tonight, Trump heads to the G7 summit in France.  Now, he`s meeting with leaders of Britain, Canada, France, of course, Germany, Italy and Japan.  They`re bracing for his arrival after picking fights with NATO allies, and the past year`s debacles on the world stage.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He is causing a major drama with some of the United States` closest allies.  The tirade against the Canadian prime minister, to say to the guy, who leads the nation, one of our allies, Australia, this is the most unpleasant call all day, he called Trudeau, meek, mild, dishonest and weak.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III, but if we`re attacked, Japan doesn`t have to help us at all.  They can watch it on a Sony television, the attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It`s the moment going viral, as President Trump shoves his way to the front of the line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Pushing aside the leader of Montenegro in order to get into the front there.

TRUMP:  Germany is totally controlled by Russia.  Germany is a captive of Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He took two Starburst candies out, threw them on the table, and said to Merkel, here, Angela, don`t say I never give you anything.

TRUMP:  We`ve been very good to our allies, we work with our allies, we take care of our allies.


MELBER:  I don`t say I never give you anything.  I forgot that Starburst story.  Donald Trump enters this summit after a lot more of that kind of stuff, some of it petty, some of it honestly funny, and some of it, deadly serious.  We have the aides telling reporters, apparently, because they want somebody to know.

They`re worried about his `erratic` behavior, the flip-flops, the policy shifts, the head scratching statements, it`s all a lot and it`s adding up.  Consider someone who has covered these stories very closely and spent time out in the country, including around (INAUDIBLE)

Former FOX News reporter Carl Cameron has had an absolutely awful August, noting his use of racist, anti-Semitics, sexist rhetoric, to bully a member of Congress or back to foreign country.

Well, guess who`s here?  Campaign Carl.  Good evening, sir.


MELBER:  Good to see you.  I know you try to call him like you see them, some of our viewers might be surprised to hear someone who`s been, as I mentioned, out there, covering the stuff for FOX News, seize this blinking red for Donald Trump.

What do you see as his problems here?

CAMERON:  Oh, there are just so many, I mean, you don`t have enough time in the day to make that list.  But this particular August has been a particularly pointed one.  When Trump`s Congress, when the Republicans and the democrats left Washington, D.C., the talk of impeachment kind of faded away, and we had a whole bunch of horrible things.

We had two very, very serious shooting massacres.  The president said we need strong background checks.  And this is not the first time that he has made that sort of statement, and completely reversed himself.  The business of going after Greenland in over attempt by a businessman of some suspicious note, and it`s essentially making an enemy of Denmark, which makes no sense at all.

And by the way, while the president is over at the G7, he has been advocating for the last week that, well, maybe we should get Russia back to the G8.  And the reason Russia, of course, was removed from the G8, is because of all the hostile things that`s been doing to the west and the free world.

The president seems to be supporting that.  And it`s gotten to the point where, thank goodness, August is soon to be over and Congress comes back to Washington.

You don`t usually hear political reporters say that sort of thing, but this time around, it will resume the conversation that is really the most important other than the election, and that was -- that is whether or not they`re going to impeach the president for the obstruction of justice.

MELBER:  You lay it all out.  I know you`re used to covering more than one thing, and that`s, sort of, what we do, because the long-term post-Mueller period is a pattern.  It`s a pattern that moved from a minority of House Democrats supporting impeachment to now, a majority.

And Pelosi`s face  --  now, we`re covering that earlier in the show, and then you have the backdrop of Donald Trump.  How does he act in this period?  Does he feel, for some reason, unbridled, even facing that and these economic jitters?

And I don`t know what you want to call them, bridled, erratic, everyone`s got their thesaurus.  But, take a look from this week, and just some of the things he`s been up to.


TRUMP:  Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Isn`t that anti-Semitic?

TRUMP:  No, no, it`s only in your head.  It`s only anti-Semitic in your head.

So, we`re talking about indexing.

I`m not looking to do indexing.

I`ve been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time.

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

We can bring up background checks like we`ve never had before.

We have very, very strong back ground checks right now.

The prime minister`s statement that it was absurd, that wasn`t  --  it wasn`t absurd.  The idea was nasty.  You don`t talk to the United States that way, at least, under me.  Excuse me, somebody had to do it.  I am the chosen one.


MELBER:  How does that play  --  how does that play out in the world you`ve been in and FOX News folks some of whom still defend every last one of those things we just saw.

CAMERON:  Well, I think that there are evangelical conservatives who are going to have problems with the human being calling himself the chosen one.  But, let`s take a look at the kind of things that he is actually threatens to do this in the  --  in the course of this August without Congress around.

He has threatened birthright citizenship, saying he`s going to effectively take on the constitution and the Fourth Amendment, and say that those who are born in this country will not necessarily  --  will no longer be American citizens, or at least he`s going to try it again.

These are not new things.  Everything we`ve been talking about are reruns, are repeats of the kind of lies and the kind of very unstable thinking and speaking that the president of the United States does.  And we have to think about our national reputation worldwide now, with the president at the G7 meeting in France, how the rest of the world is looking at the U.S.

We like to think of ourselves as world leaders.  The president is not leading.  So, what are we?  The United States of America`s reputation is at stake because its president is being irresponsible and violating our values and our traditions.

MELBER:  You lay it all out there, straight up, and some of it sounds pretty concerning.  Carl Cameron, thanks for joining THE BEAT tonight.

CAMERON:  Thanks, Ari.

MELBER:  Appreciate it, sir.  We`re going to fit in a break.  When we come back, Donald Trump ordering people to stop doing business with China.  We`re going to show you some of the most embarrassing tape on Donald Trump, maybe ever, when we come back.


MELBER:  All right.  We`re turning back to Donald Trump, claiming he can order companies to stop doing business with China.  In fact, today, he said he "hereby orders it."  We`ve been discussing that a little bit, because he doesn`t have that power and we have a different question.

It`s not the one he wants everyone focused on.  It`s something he`d rather you didn`t see, and we`re about to show it to you.  Remember this?


TRUMP:  He has a stance on China, which is a country that`s just ripping our heart out.  I mean, we just do nothing to protect ourselves.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN AND T.V. HOST:  These are beautiful ties.

TRUMP:  They are great ties.

LETTERMAN:  The ties are made in where, China?  The ties are made in China.


MELBER:  Rarely do you see Donald Trump caught without something to say.  Silence.  To paraphrase Springsteen, to face the ties that bind, you can`t break the ties that bind.  And Donald Trump is tied up with an order he can`t enforce against other companies, an order he never bothered to apply to his company.

When we come back, a very special Fallback. Friday with Michael Eric Dyson and the great Chris Brancato.


MELBER:  And it`s time to Fallback.  Joining me now is television writer, producer, all-around creative mastermind, Chris Brancato.  He`s written episodes of hit shows you know like Beverly Hills 90210 and Law and Order.  He also created an executive produced the entire Netflix series, Narcos.

He`s co-creator for a show that`s now getting new buzz, the upcoming Godfather of Harlem, premiering on Epix in September.

And we are also joined by Professor Michael Eric Dyson who has written more than 20 books, count them up, on civil rights leaders, like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and great artists like Nas and Tupac.

And his latest book hits close to home here on THE BEAT, Jay-Z, describing the music, the hustle, and the creativity.  He`s currently a professor of sociology at Georgetown University.  Great to see you both.



MELBER:  Let`s get into it.  What`s on your fallback list?

DYSON:  I mean, people are online telling me that Scarface is better than either Godfather and certainly better than Godfather I, and I`m ballistic about the fallback with that noise.

MELBER:  The Scarface fans.

DYSON:  I mean, the Scarface, I love you.  Say hello to my little friend.  That`s good.  Pacino with the second rate Latinix, you know, accent, no disrespect to the don, but, I mean, are you serious?  Are you going to put that above  --  oh, God, I massacred (INAUDIBLE) I don`t want to see him  - -  I don`t want to see him like this.

I mean, you spend time with your family because a man who never spends time with his family can never be a man.  Come on, he`s dropping more wisdom than Aristotle, more science than Einstein.  I mean, Marlon Brando, the history of immigration, the politics and crime of American culture, no disrespect to Scarface, fallback with that.

MELBER:  You`re in this field.  Do you go Scarface or Godfather?

BRANCATO:  Well, I would choose Godfather, of course, but I think you have to make a classic distinction.  Godfather on the one hand, Goodfellas on the other.  Goodfellas, highly journalistic, realistic depiction of the mob.  The Godfather, hyperreal, based on codes of honor that don`t actually exist, a mythologized view.  They`re both incredible movies.

MELBER:  What`s on your fallback list?

BRANCATO:  My fallback list is Robocalls.  If there`s anything that will insight me to murder faster than having my car stolen or my house broken into, it`s getting a call 16 times a day.  My favorite, of course, is the one that tells me I have four felony warrants in Ohio.


BRANCATO:  That you don`t  -- 


BRANCATO:  Yes, I got in the IRS.

MELBER:  I get some in a foreign language.

BRANCATO:  Do you?

DYSON:  I got one.

MELBER:  You get that?

DYSON:  I did.  I did.  I was like, I`m global now.

MELBER:  So, it`s audio spam.  On my fallback list, is scientists telling us that this whole thing might be a simulation, and this is real scientists in real news.  Here`s some articles, pointing out why we might be living in a computer simulation  And then, another one saying are we living in a computer simulation?  Let`s not find out.

And this is by a scholar who says if our universe has been created by an advanced civilization for research purposes, it`s crucial that we don`t find out.  If we knew we did live inside a simulation, this could cause our creators, our, sort of, future generations that are studying us as primitive ancestors, to terminate this simulation, to destroy our world.

DYSON:  Wow.

BRANCATO:  Red pill, blue pill.

MELBER:  Red pill, blue pill, I know you`re a deep thinker.  Is it possible that this is all a simulation?  And if so, and determining that truth, risk ending it, would you rather not know?

DYSON:  Of course, I would rather not know.  But here`s the interesting part about that, to project the possibility that this is a simulation, simulacra, I think both (INAUDIBLE) spoke about that.  It`s quite interesting.  And how do we know?  It`s like logical positivism.

You know, don`t believe anything, right?  When you talk about it.  Only things you can scrutinize and see that are certainly true without a kind of variability can be proven to be true, but how do you know that statement is true?  So, the thing is, you keep backing yourself up.

MELBER:  Let me ask you this, zero to ten the likelihood that this is a thing, because this is in real newspapers, real scientists talking about this, but it sounds fanciful.  I can imagine viewers saying, Ari, what are we even talking about?  Zero to ten.

DYSON:  It`s up five.

BRANCATO:  Well, I would say, five, because it`s anyone`s guess as to whether what we`re sitting in is reality or not.

MELBER:  Five seems high.

BRANCATO:  To you?


BRANCATO:  Well, reality is in the eye of the beholder.

DYSON:  Well, yes, and he`ll be holding it.

BRANCATO:  Who will be holding it?  I don`t know.  Where are you going?

DYSON:  He`ll be  --  he`ll be holding that.  It determines how we see it.

MELBER:  Are you suggesting that perhaps focusing on whether this is potentially a computer simulation is a kind of a high-class problem?

DYSON:  You know what?  People who are on the front line, who have to get up every day, tend to try to survive.  Those who have the luxury of misery and cynicism, tend to consult other forms of extraterrestrial engagement to try to explain the misery we got.

You know, some of us just get some ripple and get some weed and figure out what can we can do.  I mean, weed whacker.  Young people, do not go get marijuana.  So, the reality is that, yes, I think that it is the kind of -- the kind of fanciful engagement, the phantasmagoria of those who are the upper end.  Those that are at the bottom end, is going like, bro, whatever this is, real or not, I`ve got to pay my bills.  They don`t make a difference at the end of the day.

MELBER:  -- Amen.  I don`t about the simulations.  But if they do get up on this cloning, I hope we can clone the professor and we`ll clone some of your work, and we`ll keep an eye on where all the godfathers, past, present and future are headed.

My special thanks to Chris Bracanto and Michael Eric Dyson.  Thank you.

BRANCATO:  Thank you.

MELBER:  You know it`s not a simulation.  HARDBALL, next.

That does it for us tonight.  Thanks for watching The Beat.  HARDBALL is up next.