Trump vows pardons for aides. TRANSCRIPT: 8/28/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Danielle Belton, Nicholas Confessore, Juanita Tolliver, BillKristol, Richard Painter, Neal Katyal, Ronnie Millar, David Corn

MATT BRADLEY, MSNBC REPORTER:  And that`s the date that the Britain charges out of the EU. So that`s not going to help anybody, especially not the opposition.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Well, Matt, I have a no deal exit strategy here which is the end of my show. Matt Bradley in the London bureau for us, Matt thanks very much. That`s all I got for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. And if it`s Wednesday we`ve got a new Chuck ToddCast, Mike Memoli and Shannon Pettypiece and Guy Cecil of Priorities USA. Get it wherever you get your podcast.

THE BEAT with starts right now Ayman Mohyeldin, is in for Ari.

Good evening, Ayman.

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: Chuck I was going to say. If you get the queen to give you few extra minutes, you can have all the minutes you want my friends. So you just got to get her permission.

TODD: I will tell you. It`s quite the investment. The Russians got the Queen now involved in Brexit. It`s something else. All right, brother.

TODD: Incredible. All right. Thanks Chuck.

Hello there everyone, I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari. We have a lot to get to tonight, including multiple reports that Donald trump is pushing staffers to disregard regulations and seize private lands to build his border wall, while promising to pardon them if, in fact, they break the law. Former Solicitor General Neal Katyal will be here on that and much more.

Plus, a new Trump rule would deport undocumented immigrants receiving life- saving medical care. I have an exclusive guest on that. And the impeachment caucus gets a little bigger tonight as another Democrat announces that he is in favor of an impeachment inquiry.

It is a busy night that just saw a 2020 Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand drop out of the race.

But we start with the new explosive reports about Trump`s extraordinary efforts to bypass procedures, defy regulations and even break laws as he tries to build his long-promised border wall. "The Washington Post" first reporting Trump has quote "Directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules".

Telling them to quote "take the land" and then assuring worried aides quote "don`t worry, I will pardon you." A White House official telling "The Post", Trump is joking when he makes these remarks, but today "The New York Times" matching "The Posts" reporting. "The Post" also reporting that Trump has told aides that a "failure to deliver on the promise of his 2016 campaign would be a letdown to his supporters and an embarrassing defeat."

And one thing is true, not a single mile of new border wall has been built since Trump took office. Even while Trump publically touts progress on the wall, it has yet to happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to have the wall. We`ve already starting building it. We have a 1.6 billion. We`ve started building it. We`ve started building our wall, I`m so proud of it. We`ve started. We have 1.6 billion, and we`ve already started. We`re building a lot of wall. We`re going to show you a section and a lot of things are happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: All right, joining me now is Danielle Belton Editor-in-Chief of "The Route"; Nicholas Confessore, Political Reporter for "The New York Times"; Juanita Tolliver, Director of campaigns at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Great to have all of you with us.

Danielle, let me begin with you, first of all. Is this a joking matter? I mean the President - the aides are coming out and dismissing this as a joking matter. But when you look at the surface of what the President of the United States is apparently ordering his subordinates to do - break the law, seize the land, get this wall done by any means necessary.

DANIELLE BELTON, THE ROOT, EDITOR IN CHIEF: I know, I would always make a joke to tell my staff to commit crimes. Yes, that`s a hilarious joke. It`s terrible. That`s not good at all. This is an increasingly unserious President in increasingly serious time. It`s extremely disturbing.

That someone who`s supposed to help uphold the law, be an example of the law, enforce the law as President of United States, would make a joke - I don`t think he was joking. I mean, if you want to be honest. But if he was joking how is that appropriate? Clearly, he just wants this wall built, just to appease his base, which is disgusting.

MOHYELDIN: Nick give me your thoughts on this. Trump telling his own aides to break the law, as we outlined there, and then aides coming out trying to spin this as a joking matter.

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, look, the Trump wall is a classic Trump project, right? He`s oversold it. He`s marketed the heck out of it. But he hasn`t actually built it yet and he can`t find the money for it yet. And so he`s in a pinch. Everyone`s watching what he`ll do.

I think when I hear him say, "I`m just joking." It sounds like the kind of joke that isn`t really joking. Where you make the joke and see what we`ll actually do with the joke and then you can say, "I wasn`t joking, really go do it."

MOHYELDIN: Yes, with a wink and a nod.

CONFESSORE: Yes. And look, like his history on pardons - it puts us in a place to not give him the benefit of the doubt that he is joking on this.

MOHYELDIN: Yes.

CONFESSORE: He has always viewed pardons as a purely political instrument. He`s had them in the past and I`m not surprised if it happens again in the future.

MOHYELDIN: Juanita, to that point, given what Nick just said. How important this wall is - has been to the President`s entire campaign? I can`t think of any other rally cry, if you`ll, besides "Lock her up" and "build the wall" that define the Trump presidency. What is that risk for President Trump in 2020 if he does not get this wall started and constructed?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: I mean, everything is at risk for Trump if he does not get this wall. This is honestly the one campaign promise that he`s really pushing for now and he`s extremely desperate to deliver on it. Because what you have juxtaposed to this is an economy that is trending negatively.

You have his trade war that is exacerbating the economic issues that Americans are facing right now, and so this is what he`s leaning on. So not only is this illegal, but it reeks some desperation, because he has nothing but a laundry list of broken promises.

And now with his back against the wall, he knows he has to do something to show voters, show Americans that he has delivered on any one of his bad promises.

MOHYELDIN: I want to play for you guys what senior Trump campaign official, Marc Lotter told Ari on THE BEAT just this summer. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC LOTTER, SENIOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Mexico is paying a lot for our southern security and that I would - I would call it a virtual wall.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s your closing argument. They`re paying for a virtual wall--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: They are paying for a virtual wall. I`m not even sure what that means. Let me start with you Danielle, is that a legitimate argument? Can you have what Marc Lotter was saying there, a virtual wall that Mexico is paying for?

BELTON: No. Because Mexico is not paying for wall. There is no wall--

MOHYELDIN: A, Mexico is not paying for it. B, I don`t know what a virtual wall is.

BELTON: What is that?

MOHYELDIN: What is the virtual wall?

BELTON: Is it invisible? I mean, I just - everything about this wall is preposterous that comes out of Trump`s month. Like the fact that they want to spend another 70 to 133 million to paint it black, because black absorbs heat, and would make the wall hot, which will make it harder to climb.

Why don`t we build a moat too and put sharks in it with lasers on their heads that shoot bees off their mouths. It`s like what are we talking about right now.

MOHYELDIN: It seems somewhat absurd. But Nick when you hear the administration come out, and they know what`s at risk, because this was such a cornerstone of the President`s political campaign in 2016.

Marc Lotter and others - the President is - I mean, he`s either lying about the fact that the law has been constructed or he`s simply misstating the truth that nothing has been about it. But then you go - you have Marc Lotter going on, saying this is a virtual wall.

CONFESSORE: Well, what`s striking about it is the dissonance between the private panic we have to get it built, we have to get it built, and the public message. Their campaign is already saying promise kept, built the wall. Here`s a clip, right? So I`m not sure what they`re actually afraid of. He`s obviously going to run on the promise being kept, regardless of how many new walls are built or kind of miles are build.

I do think the virtual wall is not a totally absurd argument, which referring to there obviously is surveillance challenge, technology, other things. But, look--

MOHYELDIN: Like a smart border, which is what Democrats--

CONFESSORE: --which we already have.

MOHYELDIN: Yes.

CONFESSORE: And by the way, what makes us all so strange, we had a wall, we still have a wall. So he campaigned on claiming there wasn`t a wall. And now he`s campaigning on building a wall that he hasn`t built, even though one is already actually there. It just messes my mind little bit.

MOHYELDIN: How - when you think about this, Juanita, for a moment that the Republican Party is the party - or at least this President - I should be clear. This President is the one making the argument into seizing land from American landowners to build this wall. That`s certainly not something that you would expect would be part of a Republican platform, but he wants to make it.

TOLLIVER: I mean, it`s incredulous. First and foremost you have the President of the country saying, like just commit a crime. And then let`s be real about how triggering that just seize the land language is considering the just horrific treatment of Native Americans and tribal communities in our country.

So it`s - it just harkens back to language and rhetoric that he is driving home. But repeating that there is a wall is not a ridiculous point in this case, because let`s be real, some different voters will probably accept that there was something done here.

Even though the 16 miles of wall that have been modified during the two and a half years of Trump`s presidency are just reinforcing existing structures. But he hasn`t done anything. Not a single mile of wall has been built here.

MOHYELDIN: Let me dig into that a little bit deeper, the suggestion that Trump is telling his aides that they should seize private land. It is the idea of Eminent Domain, the government taking property from private landowners for a project and paying out some money in return.

Trump`s primary opponents hit him for taking that approach in business. In fact, he famously tried to do it in Atlantic City and lost to this woman who actually got to keep her home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VERA COKING, RETIRED HOMEOWNER: Heart? He doesn`t have no heart, that man. The only thing he has is what he worry about himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: All right, I want to bring in Bill Kristol, conservative journalist and former Republican White House aide, now Director of the group "Defending Democracy Together". Bill, good to have you on with us this evening. First of all give me your response to Trump telling aides to take the land.

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Look, I mean, we should take this seriously. It`s really about more than the wall. It`s about more than lying about the wall. Politicians are entitled to lie. I mean, they should be called on it. But this is ordering subordinates, apparently, to break the law or at least to consider breaking the law or to do things that might well be unlawful.

I mean, that is really - almost a definition of an impeachable offense. The superior officer orders a subordinate officer to knowingly and consciously do something that that`s against the law. So for me this is about the rule of law much more than about the wall.

And the pardons, of course, makes that makes it even worse. If the President wants to put this to bed, here`s one thing you could do. He could say he`s not going to pardon anyone who`s worked in his White House and take that issue off the table. Say that publicly.

Reassure people that we`re not in a situation where he`s ordering people to do something unlawful, which again is, if you look at Richard Nixon`s impeachment articles. One of the articles, I think it`s Section 5 of Article II, is he knowingly ordered people - his subordinates to break the law. So that`s really what this is about.

And I think it`s a mistake in a way to get too distracted. You know the wall is silly and he`s misleading people about how many miles there are and all that. But that`s in a way politics. That`s normal politics. He`s President of the United States and he now seems to be using the combination of bullying his subordinates and promise of pardons to do - to get the U.S. government - to use government authority to unlawful acts.

MOHYELDIN: So are you expecting at this point, given what has transpired in terms of the news reports about this. That you`re going to see fellow colleagues of yours from the GOP stand up and draw a red line for the President about the pardons, about breaking law, about the Eminent Domain? What do you expect their reaction to be and should there be investigations into this account?

KRISTOL: Yes, I think it`s perfectly legitimate to look into their congressional committees. I don`t expect much of the Republicans, but I hope the House really - under Democratic leadership, really looks closely into this and calls officials from the relevant agencies and say has the President ordered you directly or indirectly to break the law? Justify what you`re doing here when you`re building this wall or using Eminent Domain.

Eminent Domain is something the Conservatives, a lot of liberals don`t like much either, but there are ways to legally use Eminent Domain. Governments do it all the time. There are restrictions, there procedures you have to go through. If he`s short cutting those procedures knowingly, again violating existing rules, regulations and laws, that`s something to look into.

Having said all that, yes, I don`t have great confidence that the Republican Party and Congress is going to stand up. It`s really pathetic. I have seen that some of the challengers to Trump in the Republican primary, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld, have you know denounced this. And said the hope - the core of how our system works is, the President has to faithfully exceed (ph) the laws or faithfully execute it.

MOHYELDIN: The lists of investigations into this presidency continues. Danielle, do you think this should be added on there? That this President should be investigated for possibly telling his subordinates, "break the law, seize the land?"

BELTON: Yes, most definitely. I mean, the fact that he would even say this and give an implication of his level of power, because of who he is in the office that he holds to sit there and make with his aides are trying to pass off as a joke about essentially ordering them to break the law or to build a wall as part of his campaign promise, it`s unconscionable.

MOHYELDIN: And to that point, Juanita, the investigations that we`re talking about here, they continue to grow by the day. But realistically speaking, as Bill was saying, the GOP is going to probably be pretty silent on this.

TOLLIVER: Yes, of course. I think, they are following in line behind Trump and honestly taking this vow of silence against anything this President does throughout the 2020 election. I`m not expecting anything from the GOP. But I do think it is upon Congress to ask the question, do a little digging here, try to get to the truth.

MOHYELDIN: Yes, let me play you guys a matchup of some Republicans talking about Eminent Domain. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eminent Domain, a fancy term for politicians seizing private property to enrich the fat cats who bankroll them like Trump.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): He supports taking private property through Eminent Domain from small property owners and giving it to big corporations. I don`t know of one conservative in America who supports that abuse of Eminent Domain.

JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: What Donald Trump did was use Eminent Domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: So Nick when you look at that - and this was all from the 2016 campaign. You look at what the President is doing today, the silence of the GOP. It is safe to say he has totally redefined the Republican Party, not just on this issue, but so many others.

CONFESSORE: Look, you saw how powerful that argument was in 2016. It wasn`t powerful at all.

MOHYELDIN: Right.

CONFESSORE: Nobody cared in that primary. He won the election. But, look, I think what we see here over and over again is that, people in his party will wait and try to wait as long as they can for their worst things to actually come to fruition. And lot of them are going to say look, this is something he said, it hasn`t actually happened yet. And people just want to wait out the problem as long as they can.

MOHYELDIN: So Bill to that point, in 2020, if in fact President Trump fails to build a single mile of new wall how damaging will it be to him politically or is he just going to stand up there and lie about it to the cameras and say it`s actually being built and people - and his followers are just going to believe it?

MOHYELDIN: Yes. I think you can say it`s being built or you can say that he`s being stopped by Nancy Pelosi or the courts or the fake news media or anything like that. Actually that`s what`s so funny about this. I mean, I don`t know that there`s much evidence that votes move one way or the other on how much of the wall is being built he`s obsessed with it.

But, again, it seems to me if I were a Democrat, but also the Republicans are challenging Trump, and if there were any Republican elected officials who wanted to stand up for the principle of the rule of law. This is the moment to say, "Hey look, we all have policy goals. We all have campaign promises. Presidents have that. but that you cannot order subordinates knowingly to violate the law."

MOHYELDIN: Yes, I have a feeling that we`re probably not going to hear a lot about it from other GOP members this week. Danielle Belton, Nicholas Confessore, Bill Kristol, thank you very much. Juanita Tolliver, please stay with me, we`re going to talk to you again in just a little bit.

And breaking news, Democrats demanding an investigation into Trump`s push to hold a world summit at his own Florida resort, we`ll have that details along with the former White House ethics lawyer under Bush who is blasting Trump about that.

Plus what a Democratic Senator is calling for a new low for the Trump administration, deporting kids with cancer and cystic fibrosis.

And former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal is here on Trump`s promise to pardon aides who do his dirty work. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MOHYELDIN: We are back with breaking news this hour. The House Judiciary Committee announcing tonight that they will investigate Donald Trump`s push to host next year`s G7 summit at his own Doral Resort in Florida. Saying quote "The President`s personal financial interests are clearly shaping decisions about official U.S. government activities" And calling it only "the latest in a troubling pattern of corruption and self-dealing by the President."

This, just days after the President used the international stage to pitch his property.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Doral happens to be within Miami. It`s a city. It`s a wonderful place. It`s a very, very successful area of Florida. It`s very importantly only five 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 were so far away. It`s not about me, it`s about getting the right location--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: The Committee says that they will hold a hearing on this in September. Joining me now is Richard Painter, former Chief White House Ethics Lawyer under President George W. Bush. Mr. Painter, great to have you with us this evening, first your reaction to the House Judiciary Committee`s investigation.

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it`s about time. They should be investigating all of the illegal, unconstitutional, emoluments as profits and benefits that this President is receiving from foreign governments.

He`s been receiving them through the Trump business empire ever since he became President in January of 2017. He`s been in violation of the Constitution. And now he is so brazen that he`s going out and soliciting emoluments, profits and benefits, unconstitutional, illegal from the other members of the G7 - that after you actually walked out of the climate change discussion.

So he has no real interest in anything goes on at the G7 other than collecting unconstitutional emoluments and profits and benefits for his hotel. He should be impeached for that. So this investigation should have happened a long time ago. And if they do not proceed with impeachment, he`s just going to keep breaking the law.

We just heard that he`s telling his subordinates to go ahead and break the law and building the wall and he`ll give them a pardon. That in itself should lead to his impeachment, his conviction and putting him in jail, if he actually did that. It`s just going to go on and on if he isn`t shut down by the House of Representatives in an impeachment proceeding.

MOHYELDIN: All right. So the President tried to make his pitch for that property, saying it`s close to an airport, you got beautiful bungalows, everyone can stay there. But from the investigation standpoint, from the Committee`s investigation standpoint, what are they going to be looking for in a case like this?

PAINTER: Well these are foreign governments. They`re going to be paying for those bungalows a lots of money. So unless Donald Trump wants to comp everything, the bungalows, the golf, the food, the booze, the entertainment, whatever that is, unless he wants to comp everything, he is in violation of the Constitution.

He is soliciting unconstitutional, illegal, profits and benefits emoluments. So that right there is a serious violation would amount to high crimes and misdemeanors that would justify impeachment alone, never mind everything else he`s done. So this is a serious matter to investigate.

He`s also, of course, using the presidency to get other business, even it`s not from foreign governments, into his properties. Whether it`s lobbyists or now we Bill Barr, his own Attorney General wants to blow $30,000 or something like that at the Trump Hotel for a party. Well, that`s also illegal.

You`re not allowed to give any gift to your superiors in the federal government worth more than $10. And I guarantee you, the profit margin on that party Bill Barr wants to throw at the Trump hotels, is a lot more than $10. That`s not allowed. You got an Attorney General that has no respect for the law. This goes on and on and on until he gets impeached.

MOHYELDIN: All right. Let me play you the soundbite from President Trump at the G7 presser, essentially saying he doesn`t want to make any money off of this. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In my opinion, I`m not going to make any money. I don`t want to make money. I don`t care about making money. If I want to make money, I wouldn`t worry about 3 billion to 5 billion. I think it`s just a great place to be--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Your response to that Mr. Painter.

PAINTER: Well, is he comping everything? Is he going to invite everyone to come in for free? If he`s not, he`s making money on it. It`s emoluments, its profits and benefits, it`s unconstitutional, it`s illegal. Two Federal District Courts have already interpreted the emoluments clause to prohibit profits and benefits of this nature going to the President of the United States.

I know that there`s some disagreement about who has standing to sue the President over this. But it is illegal, it`s unconstitutional unless he wants to pay for everything and everybody just comes for free at his expense. And that`s not what he`s saying.

MOHYELDIN: I was going to say. given all the G7 summits that have been held in the U.S. in the past with the same security considerations, same logistics considerations, I`ve never heard an American President make the case for his own property the way this President has.

Would you say that what you have seen so far from this President on this subject alone, just the G7, Doral resort, is grounds for impeachment or at least part of the impeachment inquiry - to be put part of the impeachment inquiry?

PAINTER: Yes. He has not said that he`s going to be comping this. He has said that he wants to use his resort, that`s a for-profit resort. He knows that foreign governments would be paying for that.

So what he is doing, is he is soliciting illegal, unconstitutional, profits and benefits, emoluments from not only one or two foreign governments, but the six largest leading free-market economies in the world. And he is asking them to pay him in order to host this meeting - to pay him personally.

It is illegal, it`s unconstitutional. It could also amount to bribery. This is unacceptable. He should be impeached and removed from office.

MOHYELDIN: All right, Richard Painter. It`s always a pleasure, thank you.

PAINTER: Thank all.

MOHYELDIN: All right. One more thing about Trump`s Doral resort, we`re learning new details about the conditions there. "The Washington Post" reporting that in 2015 health inspectors closed the main kitchen after they found 20 to 30 live small flying insects. They found food in the buffet served at temperatures more than 20 degrees, too warm. Live roaches were found near the dishwasher and behind the main stove.

After an earlier inspection, where regulators found rodent droppings, but of course this is much bigger than any health code violations. Critics say, this push to host the world summit at his Golf Resort proves Trump is using his office for personal gain, as we just heard there from Richard Painter. And now House Democrats are investigating it.

Ahead, new reports, Donald Trump promised to dole out pardons to aides who broke the law, Obama Supreme Court lawyer Neal Katyal is here on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MOHYELDIN: Donald Trump facing new allegations of abusive power today with reports that he is preemptively offering aides pardons if they break the law. "The Washington Post" first broke this story, reporting that when aides warned that some of Trump`s demands to build a border wall may be illegal or unworkable, he tells them to do it anyway. Saying, don`t worry I`ll pardon you.

In meetings about the wall Trump today denied this story. But when the White House was pressed about Trump pushing aides to break the law, they didn`t actually deny it. Instead, they said he was just joking.

We want to take a look at the legal and constitutional implications of this story and we have the perfect guest to do it. Here for "THE BEAT`s Opening Argument" series, his former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal who`s argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court.

Neal great to have you with us this evening. First I want to get your thoughts on, is just kidding a legal excuse? Is that a plausible defense that could hold up in court?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, it`s not. So first, let`s just set the context here. So before talking about the pardons, think about what this is about. This is about the wall. This is about Donald Trump in 2016 campaigning on this and saying Mexico is going to pay for it, and then of course Mexico didn`t pay for it.

And then he tried to shut down the government for 35 days to try and coerce Congress to pay for it. They didn`t pay for it. And then he said, well, I`m going to go ahead and do it anyway. And then - and that`s what this "Washington Post" story is about is about. It is about the do it anyway.

And his all aides are saying, hey you know, you got to have an appropriation from Congress. You can`t just take this property without Eminent Domain, you have restrictions and the like, and he is just saying go ahead, do it anyway and I will pardon you afterwards. And the idea that that, "Oh, he`s just joking around."

I mean, we don`t have Presidents who joke around about deeply unconstitutional things. It will be one thing if it was a President who was known for scrupulous adherence to the rule of law. But I think any day of the Trump administration, you see Trump defying the law. And so it`s entirely believable that he wasn`t just joking around that this was actually a serious thing.

And, yes, it`s true on TV shows like "24" Jack Bauer gets a pre-emptive pardon from the President. But in the American system - that`s the real American system as opposed to the fictional one that never happens.

MOHYELDIN: So to that point, Neal, what kinds of legal issues does the - does this raise really if Trump is pressuring aids to take actions that they think are illegal. I mean, immediately it comes to mind when you think of somebody in the battlefield being told by commanding officer to do something. Their defense tends to be, I was told by my superior. Would that hold up in a situation like this?

KATYAL: Well, I certainly think that the individual officers under the President, who are carrying out his orders, I think it`s very hard to say that they themselves should be personally liable for acting illegally.

But the President, himself, I think, does face consequences for this. I mean, one obvious one is the House of Representatives. It`s no secret he`s considering impeachment of the president for abuse of power. There is no more textbook example of abuse of power than a president who says to his subordinates break the law just to help me and I`ll give you a pardon to get out of jail free card afterwards. So I think that`s the first thing.

And then, there could be any number of legal ramifications as well. There are already lawsuits to try and stop Trump from, you know, building his wall on his own without authorization from Congress. And stories like yesterday, I think, we`ll get fuel to those lawsuits and indeed maybe the subject of live testimony in these cases.

MOHYELDIN: Neil, let me shift gears for a moment and get your thoughts on something else Trump has talked about, in specific immigration recently, that is the topic of birthright citizenship. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Are you going to do an executive order on birthright citizenship -- ?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We`re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby in our land, you walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen. We`re looking at that very, very seriously. We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously. It`s frankly ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Does the president, Neil, have any right to do anything through executive action or executive order on the topic of birthright citizenship?

KATYAL: Zero, none. Trump only talks about this when his poll numbers are going down and when he`s scared. And then, he resuscitates it. He did it last year. He`s done in the last week. Nobody, any serious constitutional scholar, thinks there`s any ability to do this, and it`s because of a very simple thing. The language of the 14th Amendment, right after the Civil War, done precisely to overturn prior rules that said that you could deny citizenship to people. You know, if you`re born in America, you are a citizen. That is the plain text of the Constitution.

And it`s striking to me that conservatives who claim fidelity to the plain text of the Constitution ignore it here. I mean, it is as clear as day. And, I mean, honestly my left shoe could walk into court and bring that lawsuit against the executive order and win. You know, it requires nothing except to just the words, read the text of the 14th amendment, read the Supreme Court case in 1896, Wong Kim Ark.

MOHYELDIN: All right. So let me get your thoughts on one last thing that is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She made her first public appearance this week since getting treated for cancer. Here`s a part of what she had to say. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become "The Notorious R.B.G".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: Your reaction to that Neil. That she is joking, RBG joking there about being notorious.

KATYAL: Yes. I mean, look, there are some women, and older women, like my mom is one, Justice Ginsburg another, who are tough as nails and nothing stops them. They take a licking and they keep on ticking. And, you know, I read a bunch of stuff this weekend about Justice Ginsburg`s cancer scare. I mean, there is no one who`s tougher and who`s going to be around -- I mean, who can fight this more than her.

So, you know, she has been one of the most momentous justices to ever serve on the court. Just from joining the court, right away she authored the VMI opinion, which eliminated the single sex Virginia Military Institute. And so many other things that she has done. And so, I look forward to seeing her on the bench this fall and her giving me and all the other advocates a really hard time, because she is fabulous at that.

MOHYELDIN: I think a lot of people would echo your sentiments. Neal Katyal always a pleasure. Thank you very much. Of course you can go to MSNBC.com/opening arguments for videos of all of THE BEAT segments with Neal and his expert analysis.

A lot more to come including a new Trump policy to deport undocumented migrants receiving lifesaving medical care. It`s got some kids fearing for their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN SANCHEZ, MIGRANT CHILD ON LOSING AMERICAN HEALTH CARE: If they deny the Program, then I need to go back to my country, and I`ll probably die, because in my country, there`s no treatment for CF.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: I`m going to talk to someone directly involved in this ongoing fight.

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MOHYELDIN: A gut-wrenching new report on the Trump administration`s immigration policy, according to "The Boston Globe", several severely ill immigrants, including children with cancer and cystic fibrosis are now facing deportation as the Trump administration ends an Obama era protection that lets immigrants stay in the country while they or their relatives receive lifesaving treatments.

While it is not exactly clear how many people would be affected. Some advocates estimate it to be in the thousands. One mother, whose seven year old has epilepsy, says they`re facing deportation in the spring. And she says that she feels like I`m signing my son`s death warrant. And a teenager with cystic fibrosis is also speaking out, saying he fears he`ll die if he`s deported.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN SANCHEZ, MIGRANT CHILD ON LOSING AMERICAN HEALTH CARE: If they deny the Program, then I need to go back to my country, and I`ll probably die, because in my country, there`s no treatment for CF. Doctors don`t even know what`s the disease. The only ones who can help me are here in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: All right. Joining me now is Ronnie Millar. He is the Executive Director of the Irish International Immigration Center, which represents Jonathan Sanchez, who you just heard from in that heartbreaking clip. Ronnie, explain this to us and to all of our viewers out there. What does this mean for your clients like Jonathan Sanchez?

RONNIE MILLAR, IRISH INTERNATIONAL IMMIGRATION CENTER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, good evening. Just when we thought that the administration couldn`t sink to any lower depths, they find a new way to torture immigrant children and families. This ending of this Medical Deferred Action Program is really cruel and unjust.

Families like the Sanchez family are receiving letters to say that they have 33 days to leave the United States or they face deportation. Many of these children are receiving treatment for cancer, for other life- threatening illnesses. And they`re actually receiving these letters in the hospitals, in the hospital bedrooms, telling them that they have to leave the United States. So it`s just horrific. The families are devastated and really traumatized by this.

MOHYELDIN: What can you tell us about Jonathan`s particular case? I mean, how is he holding up since he obviously came forward with his story? And what is his current status right now?

MILLAR: Well, Jonathan and his mom and dad are just so courageous and so brave for speaking out on this situation. Jonathan is just a tremendous young man who is so brave. He`s being treated for cystic fibrosis. He has anxiety attacks. You know, the family are really, sort of, speaking out about this, because they want to help other families. They want to see that this program can be restored again.

They did receive a letter to say that they need to leave the country in 33 days. So they`re very traumatized about this,  and anxious. We`re really counseling them. Our attorneys are really counseling on coming alongside them.

MOHYELDIN: Yes. What is your plan of action now that they have received this letter? What are you attempting to do to try to either stop this policy and more specifically, try to keep Jonathan in the country to receive his treatment?

MILLAR: Well, there`s been a tremendous response from the community. We`re working with medical professionals, community partners, ACLU, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, all came together as a community on Monday to talk about this. We`re exploring all legal options with ACLU. We`re going to really challenge this and fight this. This is incredibly unjust. We`re going to try to stop this deportation machine and fight this all the way.

MOHYELDIN: Ronnie, stay with me for a second. I`d like to bring in Juanita Tolliver. She is from the Center for American Progress. Juanita, good to have you back with us. I`d like to first get your reaction to this that we just heard there from Ronnie about Jonathan`s case, but also about this rule that is now in place.

JUANITA TOLLIVER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: It`s flat out disgusting. At this point, it falls in line with the inhumane and just depraved tactics that Trump and his administration have leveraged against immigrant communities since day one in taking office, from separating families, from putting kids in cages to not giving them soap and clean clothes.

Now he`s going after the most vulnerable segment of immigrant communities who come to the country and seek lifesaving medical care, oftentimes not available elsewhere. And it`s just another sign of the depravity associated with the administration. For what? Targeting the most vulnerable communities here. These are children and families who need this care to survive. And honestly, the mother who said it`s like signing the death sentence for her child, this is a reality that they`re facing. And this is impacting this community in a tragic way.

MOHYELDIN: There is no doubt, Juanita, that the Trump administration is trying to make it harder for poor immigrants to become citizens. They want indefinite detention centers. They`re denying flu vaccines in those detention centers. Why is this administration, from your perspective, so adamant about trying to make it hard for immigrants in this country?

TOLLIVER: It`s another one of the disgusting promises that Trump made. He said, "I`m going to crack down." And he is targeting the most vulnerable segments of the immigrant community to do just that. And what`s also ridiculous about all of this is these are families who have followed the rules. They have applied for the program. They have applied for renewals.

And what`s also come to light through "The Boston Globe" piece is that the Trump administration stopped offering renewals on August 7. And for them to now say that this program is not over. They`re just pausing it, is a little incredulous.

So they`re doing this to appeal to his base and for him to be able to stand on the campaign stage and say, "Look, I lowered the numbers of immigrants in this community." But his activities are inhumane and ultimately depraved.

MOHYELDIN: Ronnie, you talked about the coalition of organizations helping you. I`m curious to get your thoughts, if there are any on Capitol Hill, who you are working with to try and stop or even reverse this, whether or not senators, or members of Congress have come forward to try and help your organization and try to reverse this.

MILLAR: Yes. Senator Markey and Senator Warren have already spoken out about this. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and others, the whole Congressional delegation is outraged about this. And we are working with the delegation to try to reverse this policy decision. So there`s a tremendous support and they have been contacted by other Congressional offices across the country. So there seems to be a real movement here to try to reverse this decision.

MOHYELDIN: All right. Ronnie Millar, Juanita Tolliver, thank you both very much for joining us this hour.

TOLLIVER: Thank you.

MOHYELDIN: Ahead. The impeachment caucus grows with a new Democrat announcing he backs an impeachment inquiry. David Corn will be here on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MOHYELDIN: Tonight, the impeachment caucus growing again. Democratic Congressman, Bill Foster, announcing his support for an impeachment inquiry, citing issues of obstruction outlined in the Mueller report. That brings the number of House lawmakers backing impeachment to 135, including 57 percent of the entire Democratic caucus.

It comes amid a flurry of new Trump controversies, including pulling millions from emergency management to fund his immigration agenda. Trump`s Attorney General planning a $30,000 holiday party at Trump property. And Trump reportedly promising pardons to aides who break the law to build his border wall.

Nancy Pelosi has criticized Trump`s plan to raid FEMA money. And Democrats say they plan to investigate Trump`s idea of using his Miami property for the G7 Summit. But NBC`s "First Read" points out, Democrats don`t seem to have a single overarching strategy to deal with these stories, noting the lack of a coordinated Democratic response.

With me now is "Mother Jones`s" Washington Bureau Chief, David Corn. David, good to have you with me. Let`s talk a little bit about the impeachment dam, so to speak. Is the dam breaking on impeachment as the number of Democrats calling for an inquiry ticks up every day?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: The number you put on the screen there, 135 Democrats calling for impeachment is an important number. The more important number is 218, which is a far distance from 135. Why is 218 important? That`s the number of votes you need to impeach a president.

Now, how many Democrats are there in the House? 235. So that means that Nancy Pelosi can only lose 18 Democrats. And right now, there are a couple dozen Democrats, more moderate, or new Democrats, some who come from Trump districts where Trump won, you know, in 2016, who are not eager, or who have said they don`t want to, or won`t vote for impeachment.

So what`s the worst scenario for Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats? Perhaps bringing impeachment and not winning the vote, because you don`t have 218 Democrats. So the number is getting closer, but there still is a ways to go. Which brings me, if I could keep going on this --

MOHYELDIN: Yes, go.

CORN: -- to what you just raised, and that is, impeachment and no impeachment, there are a number of key issues that the Democrats in the House, where they control things, should be having high-profile hearings. You don`t have to call them impeachment hearings.

But you mentioned a few, emoluments, money flowing into the Trump hotels from foreign sources. We still have Trump`s Russian business connections. We have Deutsche Bank, which has been the news lately, of $2.1 billion loaned to Donald Trump. And we don`t have a good explanation about his relationship with that bank.

We have the Trump Inauguration Committee. Millions of dollars unaccounted for. Foreign money coming into that as well. You have several Cabinet members with dicey financial dealings, including Wilbur Ross. And you know what? What "First Read" said this morning was correct.

MOHYELDIN: Right.

CORN: There is no overarching story or narrative coming from that.

MOHYELDIN: Yes. So I want to pick up on that point for just a moment here, because as you outlined all these cases, you would think that the Democrats would have a clear strategy in terms of the communication, in terms of the investigations, and all the probes. Do you get a sense, in fact, that that is what the Democrats are doing, or is it, kind of, an ad hoc committee by committee, individual reaction at a time, not a coordinated party-wide strategy?

CORN: My impression is the latter there. And if there`s anyone from Nancy Pelosi`s office or other people on the Hill who want to talk to me, please do so. My questioning of people on the Hill has led me to believe that it`s basically every committee for itself with the committees themselves going over some turf issues. Who gets to do what?

And that there`s no war room, there`s no overarching strategy. What links all this together? Corruption, Trump and corruption, nepotism, everything else that`s going on. And telling that story might be as important or more important than rushing ahead with impeachment.

MOHYELDIN: All right, David Corn, live in Washington, D.C. for us this evening. Thanks, David.

CORN: Thanks, Ayman.

MOHYELDIN: Ahead. Yes, it is time we will reconsider the Obama tan suit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MOHYELDIN: We talk a lot about scandals in Washington. But five years ago today, this was treated like a scandal by many on the right. President Obama holding a press conference in a tan suit. In fact, here`s a recap put together from "NowThis News".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE DOOCEY, FOX NEWS HOST: One of the ugliest suits in the history of America.

LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: I think it was shocking to a lot of people.

FOX NEWS: Look at that, that horrible light tan suit.

FOX NEWS: An impeachable offense right there.

DOBBS: Whoever talked him into going into a tan suit? They`re so desperate because of these low poll numbers, they`re willing to do anything.

FOX NEWS: A serious businessman wears dark blue or black to important meetings. I think it`s a sign to enemies that he`s a wimp.

FOX NEWS: This confirms he`s a Marxist.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: There`s no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday. For him to walk out -- I`m not trying to be trivial here -- but, in a light suit. He looked like he was on his way to a party at the Hamptons. It did not show the seriousness of purpose that you need from a commander-in-chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN: The seriousness of purpose that you need from a president. That was then. Fast forward five years. Donald Trump has reportedly floated the idea of nuking hurricanes, detaining migrant children indefinitely, offering pardons to aides who break the law, and hosting a world summit at his own resort. And that`s just in the last week alone. But today, we look back at the tan suit and how President Obama responded, joking about it at his final press conference as president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  I was sorely tempted to wear a tan suit today for my last press conference, but Michelle, whose fashion is a little better than mine, tells me that`s not appropriate in January.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOHYELDIN:  All right, the good old days.

All right, that does it for me.  You can catch me every morning on "MORNING JOE 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