Dems Subpoena FMR. Trump Aide. TRANSCRIPT: 8/26/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: John Flannery, Mara Gay, Richard Stengel, Margaret Carlson, KirstenGillibrand, Alanah Odoms Hebert

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: "I hear the folks who say I should wait my turn but with due respect - I`m not sure this is a moment for waiting. Our system has been letting down a lot of people for a long time and we can`t fix it if we don`t challenge it. I`ve got some ideas on how to do that and I don`t think our Democratic process promises anyone a turn." That is all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. And "THE BEAT" starts right now. Ayman Mohyeldin is in for Ari.

Good evening, Ayman.

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: Hey, good evening Steve. Thank you very much. Hello there, everyone. I am Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. We have a lot to get to tonight. President Trump promoting his golf courses at the G7 summit in France.

Plus Democrats subpoena another Trump staffer as the impeachment continues to grow and I`m going to talk to a Democratic Presidential candidate ahead of this week`s big debate deadline but we want to begin with a series of setbacks and embarrassments as Trump heads back from confusing our allies overseas at a major world summit.

When Trump lands in DC later tonight, he`s going to face a new challenge from the right in the GOP primary. He`s also dealing with an embarrassing report that he suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting the U.S., a report that he is now denying.

And he`ll face fallout from his extended promotion of using his own golf course in Florida as the setting for next year`s G7 summit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doral happens to be within Miami. It`s a city, it`s a wonderful place. It`s very, very successful area of Florida. It`s very importantly only 5 minutes from the airport. By the way my people looked at 12 sites, all good, but some were two hours from an airport, some were four hours. I mean, they`re so far away. It`s not about me. It`s about getting the right location.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Actually it sort of does sound like it is about him and this push comes after a series of troubling stories about the Doral property. In fact the Washington Post reporting earlier this year, business at Doral has sharply declined. Members who quit the club, they`re still waiting years to get refunded and revelations that Trump hired undocumented workers to do construction projects there.

Well, today Trump sounded more like one of his company`s promotional videos than a world leader working on diplomacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Doral happens to be within Miami. It`s a city. It`s a wonderful place.

The city of Doral, you know, a lot of people don`t realize, one of the most successful cities in the world.

Each country can have their own villa or their own bungalow.

We`ve built ten villas, all magnificent.

They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views.

That we have a location that nobody has.

I think it`s just a great place to be.

It`s going to be a very exciting time. We have an Orlander.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: And as Trump is trying to sell his golf courses, allies back here at home, well, they`re trying to sell his trying to trade policy by saying, we just have to "accept the pain."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The Democrats for years have been claiming that China should be stood up to. Now Trump has and we just got to accept the pain that comes with standing up to China. How do you get a China without creating some pain on them and us? I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: All right, Mara Gay is a member of the New York Times Editorial Board, Rick Stengel was an Undersecretary of State in the Obama administration and former managing editor of Time magazine and Michael Steele is the former chairman of the RNC.

All of them are going to help us break down all of that we just discussed here. We`re going to start off by talking about whether or not Rick, is there anything wrong with the President of the United States trying to sweeten the deal a little bit, you know saying that you know, Doral is a great place. He`s going to include wifi and free satellite TV for world leaders when they stay there.

Joking aside though, why is this so bizarre that you have a world leader, the leader of the free world pitching his real estate property as a venue for a G7 summit?

RICHARD STENGEL, FMR UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE IN OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, there`s something called the emoluments clause of the constitution which the framers created so that Presidents of the United States could not benefit monetarily from the decisions and actions that they`re taking.

I mean in fact it - but it`s so bizarre because everything Trump has done on the world stage has always been partly about kind of feathering his own nest literally and figuratively. I mean every single thing has been about in part what can what can benefit his business.

And the fact that he was up there today at a G7 kind of doing this shilling for his resort is just kind of unheard of in the history and annals of diplomacy.

MOHYELDIN: I mean Michael Steele, you`ve been around politics quite a long time. Walk me through what you`re thinking about this. Because this is one of the more bizarre moments I think when we - when we think of you know, an American present on the world stage, we generally don`t think of him trying to pitch is real estate venue as a as site of a G7 summit.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR RNC CHAIRMAN: No, you don`t but we`re not in that space anymore you know. Dorothy may have clicked her heels but we`re still in Oz baby. We are we are not where we thought we were and here`s the rub, why the President sees no problem with any of this.

Tell me what the consequences have been from actions that he`s taken in the past that have benefited him personally or his family. There have been none. Yes, there may be threats of lawsuits in the courts that you don`t have standing in all of this. So as far as Trump is concerned you can have that battle.

And in the meantime, I`m going to pitch Doral and we will be at Doral next year for this summit for the G7 which will be the G7 plus one because Putin will be there too. Again, there are no consequences so where there are no consequences, he is free to act.

MOHYELDIN: And the crazy thing about this Mara is that - I want to play you this sound bite because the President in all over this still pitches himself as the victim. He`ll come out and say I`m losing money by being President of the United States as if somehow that is a reason why people should feel sympathetic to him, watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Probably it`ll cost me anywhere from $3 billion to $5 billion to be President, couldn`t care less. Otherwise I wouldn`t have done it. People have asked me what do you think it costs and between opportunity not doing today. I used to get a lot of money to make speeches. Now I give speeches all the time. And you know what I get? Zippo and that`s good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Zippo. We`re living in a bit of a bizarre world when again, the President is standing on the world stage and complaining that he is losing money by being President of the United States and somehow expects the American people to care about that.

MARA GAY, NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: Right, it`s a huge sacrifice he`s making.

MOHYELDIN: Right.

GAY: You know part of - all jokes aside though, part of Trump`s power, I believe is this narrative that he`s spun really out of a bunch of lies that he`s this extremely successful businessman and his pitch to some of the voters in his base, I believe, it`s kind of akin to hey, you can be rich too.

This is what it looks like to be successful in America and it`s really a powerful narrative that Democrats are up against because really what I see as a journalist and as an American, when I look at that behavior, is a public official using his public office to enrich himself?

And I guess the question is it just depends on the eye of the beholder and I really think that the Democrats in particular need to kind of start to chip away at that narrative and really start talking about the ways in which this President instead of serving the American people, has used the American people to serve himself.

MOHYELDIN: Rick I want to ask you a little bit and something that Michael Steele brought up and that is potentially next year having a Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a G7 summit, not to get too bogged down into why he was initially pushed out of it for the annexation of Crimea, that is considered illegal.

But what if and we talked a lot about this during the Mueller probe, people in Syria asking what is President Trump trying to do that benefits Russia? Well, what if it is trying to bring Russia into the fold once again? What if that is the objective here?

STENGEL: Yes, I mean it could be a gigantic quid pro quo. That is - that is the thing that Putin would have wanted more than anything else to kind of normalize himself on the world stage. As you said, he was kicked out of the G7 for violating the boundaries of a - of a country that was not theirs, by annexing a country illegally, really for the first time since World War II.

It was a gigantic thing and it meant a huge amount to Europe. Ukraine is a country the size of France and in Europe and so all of the help that the Russians gave Trump, I mean the recompense and the reward would be Trump saying, hey, yes, you guys are back in the family of nations again and you know let`s all - let`s move past us.

MOHYELDIN: One of the things that Michael Steele, that Donald Trump talked about today about Russia saying in his meetings at the G7 so many of these issues that were constantly brought up involved Russia. He said it should have been Russia in that room to try to solve some of these problems.

The part that he left out is that Russia was partly responsible for a lot of those problems in the first place.

STEELE: Right, right, kind of - that`s - yes, you kind of missed the big picture there Sir. The reason everyone`s talking about Russia is because they are the problem. But Donald Trump to Rick`s point, doesn`t see Russia as the problem. Donald Trump as been told and recounted by his own family members has a financial tie to Russia that has mattered to him.

And so he`s for whatever reasons beyond that, he`s not looking to upset that. So when the G7 partners get to around the table and they have these conversations about you know, what`s happened in Europe and what Russia is doing in places like Crimea and Ukraine, Donald Trump has a deaf ear to that.

And so I think what you`re going to see is more action unilaterally if you will, by those other partners without the U.S. because after all, this is on their turf. And in the past they could rely on the U.S. to support them and they can`t any longer.

MOHYELDIN: And Michael, let me switch gears for a moment to get your thoughts on Lindsey Graham coming out in defense of the President`s China trade policy. He seems to understand it better than others because he`s essentially saying, we have to accept the pain of Trump`s trade war.

And I`m curios to get your thoughts as a former member of the RNC, when you got the White House on one hand signaling, hey consumers are not - American consumers to be specific are not being hurt by this, we`re very optimistic where things are going, the pain is on the Chinese side and then you got one of the most loyal senators to the President saying, no, Americans just got to take this pain right now.

What kind of re-election message is that?

STEELE: So which is it? Are we in pain or are we not in pain?

MOHYELDIN: Right.

STEELE: Is the administration right when it says the economy is great, no one`s in pain, the farmers are wonderful. Yes, corporate farms are but what about mom and pop farms and when Lindsey Graham says well, you know you`ve just got to accept the pain, OK, I`ll take the pain but tell me there`s a plan.

There`s a reason why I`m taking the pain because there is no coherent policy here other than we`re just going to have a trade war and then we`ll back off a little bit when the market starts to get a little rollish and then we`ll go back into it. So you`re causing the pain but to what end and I think for a lot of American farmers in particular, that question is becoming more and more pronounced as time goes on.

And we get to first quarter next year and the number start to look even more shaky than they do today, I think that pain is going to result in some loud screaming around the country.

MOHYELDIN: Mara, let me get your thoughts on that because I know that Lindsey Graham, Senator Lindsey Graham and President Trump, they`re golfing buddies. What do you think that conversation is going to be like the next time those two are out on the on the golf links together.

GAY: Oh my gosh. I mean, you have to be a fly on the wall for those conversations between two of them. I really just think, it`s really disturbing to me that the base has been so willing to put up with this President including in Congress, that they`re essentially willing to say - I mean it reminds me actually the story about the protester. There was a Trump rally couple of weeks ago and there were some protesters at the rally and all of a sudden there was someone who the President started making fun of because he thought he was one of the protesters.

MOHYELDIN: This is when he called them away.

GAY: And it turned out that he wasn`t a protester. He was a Trump supporter and then the news crews went to that individual and said are you upset that the President made fun of you on national TV and the man said no, it`s OK, I love Donald Trump and it just I mean--

MOHYELDIN: He`s totally co-opted the Republican Party and the Republican--

GAY: He`s co-opted them but also--

MOHYELDIN: In his vision.

GAY: In his vision but also in values. I mean, we`re asking Americans to just take the pain. From what to what end.

MOHYELDIN: Rick, I want to get to your thoughts on that.

STENGEL: Yes, the question is who can take pain more? Donald Trump or Xi Jinping? Donald Trump has an election 18 months ago. Xi Jinping has an election never. He`s not running--

MOHYELDIN: Leader for life.

STENGEL: - for anything ever again. He is President for life. He can take pain for as - I mean way longer than Donald Trump will even be on the world stage so and by the way, you know they have only recently come out of desperate poverty. I mean, U.S. is not--

MOHYELDIN: Progressive country, yes.

STENGEL: used to suffering so I think Trump will actually welch on this.

GAY: It`s not a winning electoral message.

MOHYELDIN: Yes.

GAY: Especially in the Midwest.

MOHYELDIN: Yes, I was going to - it`s going to be itching to see how like that conversation plays out between those two but let me get your thoughts on this because this is actually a real story as well but it`s kind of also a funny one. It reports that the President wants to nuke hurricanes.

Michael Steele, you`re up first. What do you make of that?

STEELE: Why did you come to me first on this one?

MOHYELDIN: You want to pass, you want to photo frame?

STEELE: No, no, I`ll take it. You know, I`ll take hurricanes for 20, Alex. Let`s see. No. Where do you go from here? So the President is briefed about the storms and about a whole lot of things and in the course of those briefings you know, he`s given some data points, historic data points and yes, the 1950s, this is something Eisenhower looked at the scientist and went, what are you crazy?

And no one ever talked about it again until now because if someone brought it up to the President and he thought it was "a good idea."

MOHYELDIN: Why - why does he have a fascination with nuclear weapons and he`s always trying to find ways to bring it into the conversation whether it`s bombing Afghanistan, Rick or if it`s bombing hurricanes or if it`s--

STENGEL: Well, he`s scientifically illiterate, right? The same guy who questions climate science doesn`t really understand that if you set off a nuclear bomb in a hurricane, it would spread radioactive material. It will make Chernobyl look like a rain storm. I mean it`s kind of a crazy thing. I mean in fact the thing I don`t get is where does he even get these conspiracy theories.

Like used to insulate a President so that you can`t really see this kind of stuff that`s going on.

MOHYELDIN: Saturday morning when he`s on Twitter with a lot of free time on his hands.

STENGEL: He`s insulated from the memos.

GAY: It like a response of a six-year old boy, you know just blow it up.

MOHYELDIN: Instinctively.

STEELE: But - but--

MOHYELDIN: Michael.

STEELE: Can I just real quick.

MOHYELDIN: Go ahead. Go ahead Michael.

STEELE: One thing, you asked the question about why this fixation on nuclear weapons? Remember, what we`re talking about. We`re talking about of a man who grew up in the fifties. He grew up in that time so he sees these weapons a lot differently than we do today and he`s kind of stuck in that space about a lot of things.

Trade, wars for example and how you can use nuclear - the nuclear arsenal which you know, we worked out with a lot of our partners and adversaries over the last 70 years.

MOHYELDIN: All right, Michael Steele, stick with me. Mara Gay, Rick Stengel, thank you both very much for joining us this hour. And coming up, a new former Trump subpoenaed as another lawmaker comes out in favor of impeachment.

Also why the new primary challenge could be a big problem for Trump`s re- election bid? Plus a new lawsuit says police illegally kept a U.S. citizen in jail because they thought he was an illegal immigrant. All that plus my live interview with Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand and RBG`s first appearance since coming out of cancer treatment. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT right here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MOHYELDIN: The House Judiciary committee subpoenas a new former Trump aide as the impeachment inquiry continues to heat up. Rob Porter is a key Mueller witness in the obstruction case against Trump. He was the White House staff secretary controlling every piece of official paper the President saw resulting in a near constant presence around Mr Trump.

Well, the Mueller report details how Trump asked Porter to reach out to DOJ official about taking over this Special Counsel investigation. Porter refused to do so because he didn`t want to be involved with an effort to end the probe or even fire Mueller in other words he knew instinctively that it was wrong.

The White House now likely to try to invoke executive privilege as they have for other subpoenaed aides. All this amid growing calls for impeachment. In fact NBC`s count now up to 133 Democrats openly calling for impeachment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi feeling the pressure even in her own district.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: But 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: All right, with me now is former federal prosecutor John Flannery and Margaret Carlson of The Daily Beast, great to have both of you with us this hour. Let`s start with you Margaret, if I can. Why is it important for Rob Porter to testify?

MARGARET CARLSON, THE DAILY BEAST: Rob Porter knows absolutely everything. There is no room he wasn`t in when the door closed. He`s - Staff secretary under describes what he did because every piece of paper passed through his hands. He especially knew everything about Don McGahn and what he was doing and he knew what Donald Trump did to try to get rid of him.

These are crucial elements in oversight hearings. You can however hear Donald Trump saying what he said about Don McGahn. Only we now know he`s going to say I hereby order you not to appear. He will fight that tooth and nail as he has fought the others.

MOHYELDIN: So to that point John, I`m curious to get your thoughts and to kind of play devil`s advocate here for a moment. You can almost hear that the White House is going to say look, this has already been adjudicated with the Mueller report. This is over. Stop wasting your time. What do you say to that potential response coming out of the White House?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s been adjudicated against the White House for one thing because Trump apparently had this mantra of Sessions unrecuse yourself - unrecuse yourself and that`s why he was trying to reach out for Rachel Brand to become the new AG and she could control the Special Counsel.

And twice with Porter present in the room, he - that is Trump said to Sessions you know, I`d like to kill this investigation of me and I`d like you to go look at Hillary again and on top of that, what you have is Rob Porter making notes and he had two interviews with the Special Counsel and you can`t forget the fact that he was allowed to do that earlier and it was in the report and we have you know chapter and verse.

So I think that what the White House likes to do is to delay no matter how frivolous is the question and I think that the Judiciary Committee should step up and use its internal powers to directly require Mr. Porter to testify and not go to court to use their inherent powers, even to put him in a comfortable room in the basement of the Congress because we have such a historic crisis here that we can`t allow this evil Benny Hill to obstruct the processes of Congress.

MOHYELDIN: So do you think as a former federal prosecutor that the charge or the defense against the charge of executive privilege will hold up when the White House says, hey, you know what? Exactly privilege, don`t talk to him.

FLANNERY: No, I don`t think it will. Executive privilege first of all is nowhere in the constitution and has been narrowly defined and I don`t see how it applies here and the notion of a privilege is it always takes flight in the face of misconduct and we have misconduct here because if you look at Mueller`s report he says, a, we have an event that is obstructive.

It has a connection to two different grand juries and finally we have the intent of Mr. Trump as exemplified by the notes of Porter and the conduct you had with Sessions was also interviewed that same section of the report about page 109 in the second part of the report.

So it`s frivolous, it`s obstructive, it`s transparent and hopefully the Judiciary Committee will show some teeth and the people I think, if given them if you will a spinal transplant to those members of the Democratic caucus that didn`t get it while others did.

MOHYELDIN: So Margaret, to that point, politically speaking, will testimony from Trump aides like Porter potentially affect the debate surrounding impeachment one way or the other?

CARLSON: Well, what the public doesn`t know and what John will disagree with me on is how much going to articles of impeachment as opposed to an impeachment inquiry makes a difference in what you`re going to get from these from the White House.

In other words how hard is the White House going to fight the subpoena, whether it`s article - whether it`s the impeachment inquiry that Nadler`s announced or whether articles of impeachment are drawn up.

On Porter, you know he maybe even someone at the White House feels even more strongly about because remember he was protected even after the information came out about why he was initially denied the security clearance that he had abused - physically abused both wives.

And he was protected by John Kelly after that was known because Rob Porter has the keys to the kingdom. He knows so much. Trump will go to great lengths to keep him from testifying whether it`s a full-fledged impeachment - articles of impeachment or an impeachment hearing.

MOHYELDIN: So speaking of impeachment for a moment, I want to play you guys how Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Nadler, the Judiciary committee were talking about impeachment just earlier this summer. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If everyone from the majority of the caucus wants to go forward with an impeachment inquiry, would you go for it?

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF UNITED STATES: That`s not - it`s not even close in our caucus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But eventually--

PELOSI: But you know what, why are we speculating on hypotheticals?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Nancy Pelosi has said that all options are on the table. They are on the table and when we get more information as this process continues, we`ll have to make decisions down the road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: All right, John and by our count it`s a 133. Has the impeachment debate shifted since the Mueller hearings and--

FLANNERY: Absolutely.

MOHYELDIN: - these developments. So you think that number is going to continue to grow?

FLANNERY: Oh yes, I think so and I think that the time back in the districts has made a big difference to anyone who had any doubts that they had support. I mean, 72 percent of Democrats according to polls support going forward with an impeachment.

That`s the bread and butter of all these elected officials and that`s I don`t know floating around, 45 million persons care about this. How can you ignore them and I think that Pelosi`s challenge is how does she lead a group that is leading her now at least in terms of numbers.

And I don`t know how she gets back to lead this group but I think the group is going to out run her and I think we`re going to have an impeachment and I think, we will have it by hollowing appropriately.

MOHYELDIN: All right, John Flannery with the prediction there. Margaret Carlson, thank you very much. Appreciate both your times this evening, guys.

Up next, Michael Steele is back on THE BEAT talking about this new primary challenge to Trump from a controversial figure even more right than President Trump, believe it or not. We`re back in 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MOHYELDIN: All right, make that two primary challenges to Donald Trump and it could spell trouble for him, believe it or not. Former GOP Governor Bill Weld is already running. Now former congressman Joe Walsh is jumping in. Yes, you heard that correctly.

That Joe Wallace. The birther Joe Walsh who claimed Obama was a Muslim Joe Walsh. He`s apologizing for those views and slamming Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE WALSH, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I`m running against a guy who lies every time he opens his mouth. He`s a narcissist like we`ve never seen. He`s a sexual predator. All he cares about is himself. He`s cruel. He`s wakes up every morning and sends a tweet out insulting average Americans. I mean this is above the issues and it`s above me. He`s unfit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: And it could still get more. Republican Mark Sanford is also considering a challenge and here`s the problem for Trump. Even if he still wins the nomination which he is likely to do and be his first three points out, every modern President who`s received a credible or even semi-credible primary challenge, Ford, Carter, Bush 41 has gone on to lose re-election.

Back with me is former RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Michael, good to have you with us. Let me tell you just a quick mash up of some of the other Republicans including Justin Amash, you know Scaramucci and Joe Walsh. Watch this.

STEELE: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN AMASH, FOR U.S. REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE: So there are lots of Republicans out there who are saying these things privately but they`re not saying it publicly and I think that`s a problem for our - for our country.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FMR WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The guy`s unstable. Everyone inside knows it. Everyone outside knows it.

WALSH: I`ll tell you what George, everybody believes in the Republican Party, everybody believes that he`s unfit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Michael Steele, you`re plugged into the RNC, the Republican Party at large. What do you make of that assessment from some of your colleagues?

STEELE: Well, I think the key note, or takeaway from that sound bite is the fact that what these gentlemen are saying is something that all of us here every day, in some form or another. So now to have folks, sort of, come out and begin to put a light on some of that is revealing.

And what it reveals is a couple of things. One, self-interest for some people who may be trying to position themselves for other things, but it also, I think, shows some cracks within the party itself. The numbers have begun to soften a little bit.

Yes, the hard base -- don`t get it too construed the wrong way -- the hard base is still there. But that`s not the entire Republican Party. And you had a lot of Republicans, particularly Republican women, who supported this president in the last election, who`ve now softened.

And the problem that we have with the female vote, the women`s vote, the problem that we have with other minority constituencies, which the RNC is down, you know, doubling down on the effort to reach out and, sort of, bring those voters back. It speaks to that softening that`s there.

And so, yes, these gentlemen have decided to, sort of, break loose. We`ll see where it goes. But I think the broader point is, do you want to be president, or is your effort really to undermine, and keep Trump from winning re-election?

MOHYELDIN: All right. So from your sources, and from the power players in D.C., and the lobbyists, and everyone that you`re plugged in with, are these challenges a troubling sign for the Trump campaign, or is it just about seeing President Trump get punched a little bit from members of his own party?

STEELE: No, it`s a troubling sign. They don`t like it. I mean, folks may, sort of, you know, slough it off and, you know, and say it`s not a big deal, but they don`t like it.

There`s a reason why last year that the Trump campaign pulled the RNC, the Republican National Committee, into its orbit, making it literally an arm of the campaign, not a standalone entity, which is going to be a problem, quite honestly, because these candidates, as they announce and start their campaigns, they`re going to look to that RNC for the same resources and information they`re providing to Donald Trump, who is no different. Once he`s formally declared his re-election bid, no different than any other candidate running for the seat.

Yes, he`s the incumbent, but he`s still a candidate. And so, that`s going to create some real interesting tension points down the stretch, particularly if any of these campaigns -- if Sanford gets in, and with Weld there, and now, Joe -- that combination creates enough energy around the idea of a primary that even Republicans have for -- who always, you know, like to brag, "We like to have the challenge in the primary."

MOHYELDIN: Right.

STEELE: Suddenly have to say, "Maybe this could be a bit more of a problem."

MOHYELDIN: So let me get your thoughts on this, because there`s two potential ideological competitors to Trump. You got to Mark Sanford, who`s like --

STEELE: Right.

MOHYELDIN: -- I want to, kind of, run on the deficit, the budget, the economy. And you got the ideological guy like Joe Walsh, who went out there today, over there over the past couple of days, accusing the president of his character, called him a sexual predator, a liar, a thief. All those things. If the economy worsens. Which one are you likely to see have a better success going after the president?

STEELE: I think that`s advantage Sanford. I mean, because he`s been a consistent fiscal conservative on these issues. He`s been principled in his arguments about the spending during the Bush years, the spending during the Obama years, the spending now, during the Trump years. So I think as the economy begins to take some additional hits that weaken it due to trade wars and everything else, yes, Sanford is going to be in the better position to make the case on a consistent basis why Republicans need to rethink their current support, because that, he will say, is not conservative, nor is it Republican.

MOHYELDIN: All right. Michael Steele, always a pleasure, my friend.

STEELE: All right, buddy.

MOHYELDIN: Thank you.

Still ahead, a man accused of being an illegal immigrant and held in jail even though he proved he was an American citizen. Also, a landmark ruling against drug makers in the opioid crisis. And my live interview with presidential candidate, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, coming up next.

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MOHYELDIN: The 2020 Democratic field is starting to come into focus and getting a bit smaller. Three candidates dropping out in the past two weeks. At the same time, others appearing to pick up steam. Elizabeth Warren drawing an estimated 15,000 people to rally in Seattle this week. And Bernie Sanders grabbing headlines with sharp attacks on Mitch McConnell while Sanders campaigned in Kentucky. And in two days, a big test for everyone. Wednesday is the deadline for candidates trying to qualify for the next debate. More than half of the field still hasn`t qualified.

My next guest is fighting to make the debate stage next month in Houston. 2020 presidential candidate and senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator, thank you very much for joining us. Let me begin with your thoughts about how concerned you won`t make that debate cut off in the next two days.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I will make that debate stage. I intend to do so. And I hope that your viewers go to kirstengillibrand.com and send a dollar, so that I can qualify. But I`m really excited about our campaign, because I felt like we`ve led the debate on reproductive freedom, going to the frontlines of Georgia, Missouri on gay rights in this country, and on getting money out of politics, all issues that we need to be debated on the next stage, which is why I intend to get there.

MOHYELDIN: And fair point, but there aren`t any specific polls between now and then to suggest that you will perhaps make that debate stage. You need to meet both of those, the donor threshold and three more qualifying polls. Do you have an update as to where you stand on both of those today?

GILLIBRAND: We just had a qualifying poll out of Iowa and we`re hoping there`s more local polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, states where I`ve spent a lot of time. I`ve been there almost a dozen times each. And it makes a difference to talk to first in the nation, primary voters and caucus goers about your vision, about why you`re running, and why you believe you`re the best person to take on Trump. And that`s exactly what I`ve done.

MOHYELDIN: Senator, let me get your thoughts on the G7 and turning to some of the big issues affecting the world today. Trump suggested hosting the next G7 at his Doral resort in Florida. What is your reaction to that?

GILLIBRAND: I think it`s entirely unacceptable and sounds like he`s lining his own pockets. It is inappropriate on every level. And I think President Trump really harmed America`s economy and future in how he handled the G7 meetings. I think six of the participants are working together to get things done and America is really on the sidelines.

MOHYELDIN: Let me actually play you this sound bite first and I`ll get your reaction. So this is President Trump talking about Russia rejoining the G7.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it would be better to have Russia inside the tent than outside the tent. Do we live either way? Yes, we live either way. Is it politically popular for me to say that? Possibly not. I think a lot of people would agree with me, frankly. But possibly not. I do nothing for politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Senator, what is your reaction to that statement about Russia and the fact that the president saying he does nothing for politics? Does that surprise you?

GILLIBRAND: President Trump is an embarrassment on the world stage. He`s unwilling to stand up to Putin. And the reason why Russia is not included is because of their behavior, because of their efforts to annex another country, to actually try to undermine another country`s sovereignty. That is why they were excluded, because of their behavior. And President Trump is unwilling to stand up to strong men, unwilling to stand up to Putin. And we`ve seen it. We`ve seen it from his performance at Helsinki and his performance just recently.

MOHYELDIN: One of the more telling moments of the G7 Summit was President Trump skipping the climate meeting. Was it a mistake also for the DNC to reject holding a climate change debate specifically about this topic? If you if you`re trying to encourage voters, or people in America, to take climate change seriously, you have a climate deniers president not attending G7 meetings about it, and the DNC not holding debates about it, what do you make of that?

GILLIBRAND: I will make attacking global climate change a cornerstone of my presidency. If you have a threat as grave as global climate change to humanity, you need a solution that`s as bold and as big as the problem you`re trying to face. And I can pass a Green New Deal. I know how to get things done. I can reach across the aisle and have investments in infrastructure, and green jobs, and clean air, clean water.

I will put a price on carbon and I`ll make sure the polluters pay. I`ve put forward a robust policy of public-private partnerships as well as state investments into attacking global climate change aggressively, because I think we should get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

I think we should have net zero carbon emissions for electricity in the next 10 years. It`s an aspirational goal that will be a measure of our competitiveness and how great our engineers and scientists are. I will not only resign onto our global climate accords, but I will lead a worldwide conversation about what we can do more. I will not start a space race with Russia.

MOHYELDIN: Right.

GILLIBRAND: I will start a green energy race with China. And that`s how you get it done.

MOHYELDIN: Let me get your final thoughts on a debate that is taking place among the Democratic Party. Last week, Jill Biden said that her husband, Joe, is the most electable, even if he is not the Democratic voters favorite. I`m curious to get your thoughts. Is electability simply enough of an argument for voters to go out and choose a candidate? Is it enough to just say, "Can you beat Donald Trump or should you represent something bigger than that?"

GILLIBRAND: I think the issues we face are bigger than that. But I do think you have to beat Donald Trump. And I believe that I have the most electable experience than anyone. Not only did I run in a two-to-one Republican district twice and won by 24 points, but I just won back 18 counties that went to Trump.

And I`ve brought together my state with the highest vote threshold in its history. Higher than Obama, higher than Hillary, higher than Trump, higher than anyone who`s run for Senate or governor ever. And I not only perform electorally, but I bring people together and get things done. I just passed 18 bills in the last Congress, all of which President Trump signed into law. He does not know he signed my bills, but he did. And that`s because I can bring this country together.

So you do need to beat Trump, number one. And number two, you need to restore this nation and bring it back together again. Heal the wounds that have been created, the divides created by President Trump, and move us forward, and restore our moral leadership on the world stage. That`s why I`m running and that`s why I believe I`m the best candidate to beat Trump.

MOHYELDIN: All right. We`ll wait and see if you do, in fact, make it to that final debate threshold in the next couple of days. Senator and 2020 candidate, Kirsten Gillibrand, thank you very much for your time this afternoon, Senator.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.

MOHYELDIN: Ahead, troubling new details of a U.S. citizen who says he was kept in jail, because police thought he looked undocumented. Plus, an important update on RBG after news last week of her cancer treatment.

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MOHYELDIN: Tonight, growing outrage over the arrest and lockup of an American citizen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The ACLU suing a Louisiana sheriff and several others in that parish on behalf of Ramon Torres, a U.S. citizen originally from Honduras.

The lawsuit alleging Torres was jailed on suspicion of a DUI. A federal judge ordered him released the next day, but jail authorities actually refused that order. They suspected he was undocumented, even though he had a valid driver`s license on him when he was arrested.

And even after a friend quickly sent in copies of his Social Security card and American passport, Torres was locked up for four days. The sheriff saying it`s their policy to contact ICE whenever they suspect someone is undocumented.

Another sheriff`s employee allegedly saying they do that for all Latinos who are arrested. If true, then these police are changing how they treat people based on their ethnicity or how they look. And that echoes language we heard last month from the Acting Director of ICE. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW ALBENCE, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: ICE does not have the lawful authority to say anybody is or is not a citizen. What we do is, when we are provided with probative evidence that an individual in our custody looks to be a citizen, we will release that individual from custody.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D), CALIFORNIA: You advance it when they look to be a citizen. It just strikes me that all of these individuals are Latinos and that you`re talking about how someone looks. So can you talk to me a little bit about this?

ALBENCE: I was not referring to anybody`s appearance, and that was clear, if anybody listen to the context of what I`m saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

All right. With me now is Alanah Odoms Hebert, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, the group behind this lawsuit. Great to have you with us this evening. Let`s start with the lawsuit itself. Why did you, or why did the ACLU file this lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Torres?

ALANAH ODOMS HEBERT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU OF LOUISIANA: The ACLU of Louisiana filed this lawsuit, because we believe it is unconscionable for a person, a U.S. citizen to be detained and incarcerated based on their looks, based on their race or based on ethnicity. It is a violation of Mr. Torres`s constitutional rights, both his fourth and 14th Amendment constitutional rights. And the ACLU wants to be on the frontlines of this battle against President Trump`s mass deportation agenda here in Louisiana.

MOHYELDIN: Do you have any evidence, or do you believe that authorities have now at least admitted that ethnicity, or his ethnicity to be specific, was a factor in his detention?

HEBERT: Well I can tell you this, Mr. Torres had a valid Social Security card. He had a valid Louisiana driver`s license, which you cannot obtain unless you provide proof of citizenship. He had a passport and his family members and co-workers provided additional proof that he was a U.S. citizen.

And so, once the sheriff`s office received that information, and decided to continue to hold Mr. Torres, even despite a judge`s orders, what else can a reasonable person think other than the sheriff was holding Mr. Torres based upon his ethnicity, and suspicion that he was in this country as an undocumented person?

MOHYELDIN: How was Mr. Torres`s time in jail? How was he treated while he was there despite the fact that he tried to prove his citizenship?

HEBERT: Mr. Torres recounts that there were many other individuals who were not represented, who were similarly situated, whose rights were likely being violated as well. And so, we know that this is not an isolated case.

And we also know that many of the facilities that are being used to house folks in Louisiana are facilities that are essentially, were deemed very violent places, very brutal places. And so, this is certainly not a place that any citizen would want to end up and certainly not in the circumstances that we found Mr. Torres in.

MOHYELDIN: So let me juxtapose your answer that you just said there for us with how the Trump administration, and border officials within that administration, have described immigration detention facilities. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALBENCE: Don`t you think (INAUDIBLE) as a college dormitory. That`s what the rooms look like.

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: They`re campus-like settings with appropriate medical, educational, recreational, dining and private housing facilities.

ALBENCE: I think the best way to describe them is to be more like a summer camp.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Your reaction to that.

HEBERT: I`m appalled and I think every citizen in this country should be appalled. We have more detention facilities opening every day in Louisiana than any other place in the country. And that is because Louisiana is a place where the immigration judges are more stringent than other places in the country.

These detention facilities are in remote locations where lawyers cannot access their clients. And we`ve already seen stories of folks being tear gassed for exercising their First Amendment rights when they do hunger protests and things of this nature.

They`ve been beaten they`ve been tear gassed. It is unconscionable that someone would describe these circumstances as a summer camp. I would not allow my child to be in those facilities. All of us as Americans should be outraged that this is being characterized in this way.

It`s not as only a mischaracterization. It`s insulting and it`s unconstitutional.

MOHYELDIN: Alanah Odoms Hebert from the ACLU, thank you very much for joining us this evening.

HEBERT: Thanks for having me.

MOHYELDIN: When we`re back, an important update on Justice Ginsburg`s health. Stay with us.

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MOHYELDIN: A big update on the health of Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Today, the 86-year-old made her first public appearance since completing radiation therapy for a cancerous tumor. Ginsburg gave a speech at the University of Buffalo and flashed her famed humor when asked about the nickname a law student gave her, the notorious RBG.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: She took the announcement of my dissent that I read from the bench and she created a Tumblr. She called it, "The Notorious R.B.G." after The Notorious B.I.G.

AVIVA ABRAMOVSKY, DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF BUFFALO SCHOOL OF LAW: Yes.

GINSBURG: And she said it was altogether fitting and proper, because after all, we had one important thing in common. We were both born and bred in Brooklyn, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Ginsburg will be returning to the bench in October for the next Supreme Court session.

That does it for me.  You can catch me every morning on "FIRST LOOK" right here on MNSBC at 5:00 a.m. Eastern.  "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

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