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Democrats take formal steps on impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 9/9/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Elie Mystal, Brittney Cooper, Eric Swalwell, Tim O`Brien, MattWelch, Tara Dowdell, Nan Whaley

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: She was of the day including criminal justice reform, climate change, immigration and racial and gender equality to go to nbcnews.com/mtpfilm and you can get your tickets. We hope to see you there. That is all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY and "THE BEAT" starts right now.

Yasmin Vossoughian is in for Ari, good evening Yasmin.

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Steve. Good seeing you. I`m Yasmin Vossoughian everybody in for Ari with a lot happening tonight. New reporting raising alarms over military stopovers at a Trump golf resort.

Also the right wing revolt is growing with now a third primary challenger to Trump and outrage after over 100 Bahamians fleeing the destruction were forced off of a rescue boat but we start tonight with an escalation in the Democrats in peach man investigation for the first time ever today.

Democrats taking formal steps towards impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee laying out specific procedures, governing hearing moving forward, the House Judiciary Committee expected to vote on Thursday, calling it the "next step."

The resolution outlining four key changes to committee hearing as one, it would allow Chairman Nadler to designate Full Committee or Subcommittee hearings as part of the impeachment probe. Two, it would allow staff to question witnesses for an additional hour.

Three, it would allow for secret grand jury material - material to be reviewed in closed executive session. Finally, it would allow Trump`s counsel to respond to information and testimony presented in committee in writing.

Now Nadler is using the same outlined the committee used in 1974 during the Nixon impeachment proceedings and he says today it is the next step in the impeachment probe. This news coming as Democrats expand the investigation beyond Mueller, now investigating the hush money payments.

Reports Trump dangled pardons to officials willing to break the law to implement his immigration policies and whether his resort properties illegally profited from government business. Also today three House committees announcing they are now investigating reports, Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressured Ukraine`s government to assist Trump`s re- election campaign.

All of this as Congress returns to work in DC after a summer of a growing chorus of pro impeachment Democrats. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel we can no longer wait.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I feel compelled to call for an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not come to this decision lightly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American people deserve the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A majority of House Democrats are now on record publicly supporting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That brings the number of House lawmakers backing impeachment to 135.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, joining me is Elie Mystal, Executive Editor of Above The Law and a contributor at The Nation. Brittney Cooper, Professor at Rutgers and Nick Confessore, political reporter for The New York Times. Elie, I`m going to start with you.

ELIE MYSTAL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW & CONTRIBUTOR, THE NATION: Whoo. It`s happening. It`s happening. Look, I understand people were just like go to the Democrats.

VOSSOUGHIAN: I didn`t even ask a question Mystal and you`re already launching into it but go ahead.

MYSTAL: I understand that people are all like, oh, the Democrats never do anything. I`m taking the Sam Seaborn approach. Let`s ignore the fact that Democrats were late to the party and embrace the fact that they showed up at all. What we`re seeing is the direct result of the people out there who pigeon holed their congressmen, who called, who demanded accountability.

And now they`ve come back to work and they`re starting to do something. The other person that you really have to give a lot of credit for today is Donald Trump himself because his idiot strategy of completely unprecedented level of obstruction in terms of not allowing, not accepting the power of the House Oversight Committee, it is what has forced Congress` hand.

They are doing this not so much for the public, they`re doing this for the courts, they`re doing this because only under only cloth in the power of impeachment, do they have the strength to force people like Don McGahn and Corey Lewandowski and all these people to get - to give subpoenas.

So it`s really the kind of fight club situation where Donald Trump has spent the summer telling Democrats, I want you to hit me as hard as you can and all that he`s accomplished is hitting his own self in the mouth.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Let`s not mince words, Elie Mystal. Brittney, give me your take on this because we did hear from a lot of Congress people say, OK, during this recess I`m going to go home, I`m going to go home to my state, I`m going to talk to my constituents. I`m going to figure out what they feel about this impeachment proceeding and then I`m going to tell you whether or not I`m going to move forward on it.

So Elie here is making the argument that in fact they did just that and here we are, come September back to work and they`re moving forward, taking the next step as now they said today.

BRITTNEY COOPER< PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Yes, look, I think that that`s right. I think my biggest concern is whether we can get to 218, whether these Congress folks who are in battleground states, who are in red, who are red state Democrats, what that`s going to mean in terms of how they will vote.

Because the one thing that we can`t risk here is look like if we`re going to go for an impeachment inquiry, we have to go all the way, we have to win, we have to decide that we`re going to impeach or else this becomes the aftermath of the Mueller report where everybody`s all ginned up and then there feels like it`s anticlimactic.

So that - that`s one of the concerns but look, I`ve said for a long time, the Democrats have to get into the political theater of this. Donald Trump is beating up at every level simply because he controls the theater of it. We have got to look like we`re fighting back.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So are you calling this political theater?

COOPER: I mean, I don`t think it`s only political theater but it`s just like when the Republicans kept on repealing Obamacare, even when they didn`t have the votes to actually pass the repeal. They kept doing it as a way to say to their base, we`re fighting for you and part of what Democrats need is for our Congress people to say, we see that this man is corrupt.

You elected us in 2018, gave us the blue wave no one said we could get because we`re fighting for you.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So Nick, Brittney brings up a good point and tell me if I`m sort of not hearing you correctly but there is this idea of being on the right side of history and various views that I`ve had about whether or not people feel like they want to proceed with the impeachment proceedings, obviously legislators in Congress, often times I`ve heard there that.

You know, I want to be on the right side of history. That`s why I`m doing this. Do you think that is part of this calculus here with these Democrats moving forward?

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right now, this is an awkward time for the Democrats. Their base and their members think the case is already closed on impeachment. That there`s enough evidence and facts and examples to impeach the President.

But leadership doesn`t want it and the public at large is not quite convinced that`s merited so I think what`s happening here is in substance, this move speeds up the process, it creates a framework and a process, it allows a to spread the work of the committee among subcommittees, spread witnesses around, bring staff in the discussion.

So it is a way to move forward more quickly and I think - I think that they hope that the politics will take care of itself.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Let`s talk Pelosi here though because as we are having this conversation, Elie, Nancy Pelosi is still very much Speaker of the House, still very much does not support moving forward with impeachment proceedings, despite the fact that she feels as if the President is guilty and many of the things that he is being accused of by the House Judiciary Committee, she still doesn`t really support moving forward with it.

MYSTAL: Yes, yes. That`s going to look-

VOSSOUGHIAN: Really? Nothing to say?

MYSTAL: That`s going to her problem ultimately, right? Like that`s going to be her cross to bear because the base of the party is leaving this barn without her and if she wants to be the person standing at the end of animal house saying, nothing to see here, all is well, like she can be that person, right?

She can - she can put her finger on--

VOSSOUGHIAN: Do you think that`s the message she`s trying to send though? Nothing to see here, all is well? I mean, that`s not necessarily the message that I`m hearing from Nancy Pelosi.

MYSTAL: No, no, go ahead. But I don`t think that Pelosi wants to get out in front of this but the party has left the barn.

COOPER: I think her calculation is wrong. I think she`s using the Clinton model and I think it`s closer to the Nixon model so she - the thing about Clinton was that the country watched that and said you know, back in a - you know, in an era before me too, there was no real sort of moral framework for pushing Clinton out of office because he had an affair, right?

So there wasn`t a lot of actual political sort of impetus behind that. So it seemed like a clear calculated move on the Republican side whereas here, everyone even Republicans are looking at this President and going it`s a train wreck, it`s a train wreck we need to be saved from it.

Trump`s support is not going up, his base has stayed the same and so part of what the party has to do, the Democratic Party is energize its voters. Pelosi keeps using a sort of old political model and it`s wonderful when she can do it in terms of like keeping him from giving a State of the Union address but I actually think that she is not in line with where the party is moving.

VOSSOUGHIAN: OK, so Brittney is talking about energizing the voters, energizing the democratic base but what about the argument about wanting to protect certain people that could help win this election, come 2020, making sure they don`t alienate certain voters come 2020.

CONFESSORE: It`s a good argument. First of all, the base is motivated.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Right.

CONFESSORE: You cannot find a Democratic prime voters who is not super excited to go out and vote against Donald Trump so I think her calculation is will impeachment help or hinder the effort to get him out of office? I suspect she would rather have him beaten at the ballot box than have an impeachment vote that succeeds and fails in the Senate and gives him some juice.

I`m not sure if she`s right or wrong there but that`s her calculation, I believe.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Before we go to Eric Swalwell, quickly Elie, I just want to go to you on this simple question. How significant legally is this step in the impeachment proceedings? It`s huge for two reasons and very quickly, one as I already said, the Democrats are right now in the process of suing in the federal courts to make Donald Trump`s people testify, something that Donald Trump has unprecedentedly refused when that happened.

When they clothe themselves in the power of an impeachment enquiry, that gives them more strength to go with the courts, that`s huge number one. Number two huge things is as we saw in these rules, he`s going to have now 30 minutes - these witnesses are going to have 30 minutes of being questioned, not by congress people but by actual lawyers and actual attorneys and that`s going to put their feet to the fire in a whole different way than we`ve seen before.

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, joining me now Congressman Eric Swalwell who sits on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Congressman, you have heard this very animated conversation to say the least.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): I`ve enjoyed it. I`ve enjoyed it.

VOSSOUGHIAN: I`m sure you did. Come Thursday`s vote, what are you expecting to happen?

SWALWELL: We`re going to have more tools to move forward and holding this President accountable and just you know, I enjoyed the conversation. I`ll just add this analysis. I believe one, there`s only been three impeachment proceedings ever in the history of the country. This would be the fourth one.

The other thing we know is that no two so far has ever been alike. I would describe this as a bottom up impeachment investigation, meaning that it is unlike the Clinton impeachment where it was top down led by Newt Gingrich. This is being led by the members of the committee and impeachment is one of the remedies for a lawless President and it is something that could be recommended to the rest of the House.

But I don`t think you can look at prior impeachments to inform us on this one. No two are alike and we at least know that.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So there is this concern, Congressman that by moving forward with these impeachment proceedings, you are ignoring some of the kitchen table issues that matter to voters right now. Gun reform and healthcare being top of mind, especially in the lead up to 2020, can Congress walk into gum at the same time?

SWALWELL: Yes, my wife would be a lot easier if we were ignoring those other responsibilities and I can tell you tomorrow we are going to have hearings on the Judiciary Committee on getting rid of forced arbitration clauses.

We`re going to have legislation on gun violence and then two days later we`re going to have a hearing on this impeachment resolution so we`re doing a lot. We recognize that this is not the only issue people care about but also that unless you hold this President accountable, two things will happen, one, he will get worse as we see and two, future Presidents will see the standard of conduct on which they will be judged for impeachment will have been lower.

VOSSOUGHIAN: It`s interesting Brittney, because you brought up the question of how do you get to the number of 218.

COOPER: Yes.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Right? So Congressman, I pose that question to you, what is your plan to get to 218?

SWALWELL: Well, you`ve seen courageous colleagues of mine like Lauren Underwood and Katie Porter and if they were just you know political weathervanes, they would cautiously you know avoid holding the President accountable but I think they sense that how can you not support having an impeachment inquiry with this President.

If you don`t do it with him, who would you ever do it with? And so I think they are models for others who are still considering it and again, I don`t think the number of people supporting impeachment will go down, it`s only going to continue to go up.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So what`s the timeline here though Congressman, because we are approaching primary season very quickly and at one point, the focus will have to be very much so on the 2020 election. Will there come a point where you say OK, we have to put this aside?

SWALWELL: So next week, we`ll have Corey Lewandowski before the Judiciary Committee and what you will hear from his testimony is that the President asked him to go to Attorney General Sessions and essentially end the Russia investigation.

So I think seeing is believing and having these witnesses not just you know, reading what they said in the Mueller report but having them up front and personal for the American people to see will continue to build support and let the reality set in for the American people that this is a lawless President and it`s just not how we do business in the United States and there has to be accountability for lawlessness.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Congressman, you heard Elie Mystal saying he doesn`t necessarily agree with Speaker Pelosi and her position with regards to impeachment. Have you spoken to Speaker Pelosi on this next move on this Thursday vote and where does she stand on this as right now.

SWALWELL: So I`m headed right now to a meeting, a leadership meeting among the leadership team and I expect this will come up but again, she said earlier today that--

VOSSOUGHIAN: What do you expect to hear from her? Yes.

SWALWELL: I think she - I think she believes that impeachment is one of the remedies for the President`s conduct. She wants to see the public support build. Again it`s like a Catch 22, the only way to build public support is to have hearings. We`re going to have hearings.

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right Congressman Eric Swalwell, Britnney Cooper, Nick Confessore, thank you. Elie Mystal, you`re sticking around.

Coming up, new reports that a cabinet member threatened firings after staffers fact check Trump on Hurricane Dorian. Also outrage over Trump`s response to storm survivors trying to flee the Bahamas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Want to allow people that weren`t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come in to the United States including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: And new details about military flights that seem to pad the profits of Trump golf resorts. Also that plus all that excuse me, plus a new primary challenge in the GOP presidential race and John Yang living his best life, crowd surfing, Andrew Yang, excuse me, crowd surfing on the campaign trail.

I`m Yasmin Vossoughian in for Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Welcome back. Now to two developing stories both opening new questions about Donald Trump`s corrosive effect on the federal government. Late today, the New York Times reporting Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top employees at NOAA after employees at the Birmingham office contradicted Trump`s claim that hurricane Dorian might strike Alabama.

The Commerce department calling the story about Ross, "false." It builds on reporting from this morning that NOAA`s chief scientist is investigating why the agency backed Trump over its own experts. All of this reviving so called Sharpiegate where Trump displayed a doctored map of Dorian`s path.

The other story we`re following is about Trump`s Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. Politico reporting today that Air force crewmembers stayed there last fall. Now that`s in addition to an overnight stop at Turnberry they made this spring, a trip revealed on Friday.

Politico reporting the military as also spent $11 million on fuel at a small commercial airport nearby helping to keep the airport in business. Joining me now is Tim O`Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg View and author of Trump Nation. His new piece is on Trump Sharpiegate, Turnberry, the Taliban and chaos.

Well, you need to do a lot of research for that one, Tim O`Brien, I imagine. Packed a lot of heat into one title and back with me is Elie Mystal. First, I`m going to go with you Tim, on this one. Give me your take on the U.S. military adding to Trump, shall we say bottom line here with stays at Turnberry.

TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG VIEW & AUTHOR, TRUMP NATION: No, it`s not only that they`re adding to his bottom line, they`re clearly doing that, it`s that members of the federal government, whether the Attorney General, the Vice President or the Air Force are consciously, it would appear going out of their way to patronize Trump properties.

And at a minimum by lining the President`s wallet either it`s Doonbeg golf course, the Washington hotel or Turnberry in Scotland, they`re showing that these institutions that are meant to be in place and be independent are essentially cow towing to court favor with the President. That`s at just a basic level.

The larger issue that emerges here are financial conflicts of interest that have dogged Trump since he was inaugurated since he began campaigning and the possibility of corruption, instead of paid to play in any of this and it - I think the unfortunate thing in all of this is in some of these instances, it appears that people willingly went to those properties without Trump pushing them along, that they got the message themselves.

That if you`re in this administration at this time, it behooves you to patronize the President`s properties.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So if in fact that is the case, what Tim just spelled out, that maybe it`s not necessarily a direct message from the President, hey, stop over this airport, why not stay at my hotel but instead an indirect message, we get the message, we`ll do this. What are the legal implications of that?

MYSTAL: Unfortunately very not - very much nothing at all. The courts have done for the past really during the Robert`s court, they`ve done a lot to weaken our public corruption laws as they are. I mean, there`s a reason why Chris Christie never got charged with Bridgegate, right?

So they`ve weakened our public and corruption laws as they are. Trump is violating every kind of norm in standard decency but he`s not violating the letter of the law because there is no letter of the law and I do think that Democrats should maybe, I don`t know, think about that, while they hold power in Congress and certainly if the Democrat wins the presidency to strengthen our public corruption laws to stop exactly this kind of stuff from happening.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So here`s what I think is interesting with all this is the historical precedent. If we were to look back and see, OK, has the Airforce actually stayed at this Trump resorts before Donald Trump was President of the United States? That in fact would then say OK, maybe this has nothing to do with the fact that Donald Trump is now President of United States.

O`BRIEN: I don`t think though - I don`t think they--

VOSSOUGHIAN: But you don`t think it`s accurate.

O`BRIEN: No, no, they used Ramstein and other Airforce bases for stopovers.

VOSSOUGHIAN: But let`s talk about this airport and this refueling station. In 2015, they had 95 stops, 2016 145 and it went up from there 2018, 257. By this year 2019, 259 stopovers refueling at this airport.

O`BRIEN: And patronizing a hotel that for most members of the military is way beyond their ability to pay for that, for accommodations, they are all on per deems. This doesn`t fall into their budget so it and it appears from what The New York Times is reporting that they were giving cut rates to stay there.

It`s important remember that Turnberry is a money losing golf course. The president needs as much help as he can get to keep that a float and so the other issue that gets raised here are the wheels of the federal government and taxpayer dollars being used to prop up a private business controlled by the President?

MYSTAL: He`s just - Trump is just wetting his beak, right? Like that`s how corruption works, right? He`s not - there`s not a secret envelope with a stack of cash in it, right? He`s taking something that kind of already happens and he`s like OK, do it a lot more because I`ll make more money that way.

It`s shady, it`s wrong, is it a illegal? No, but that`s - again, that`s a problem with our laws and that`s a problem that we can fix if Congress and- -

VOSSOUGHIAN: Not easily.

MYSTAL: I mean, it`s in the constitution, the emoluments clause, a big fat- -

VOSSOUGHIAN: But some could argue that this is not a violation of the emoluments clause, right? The argument can be made for against the violation of the emoluments clause.

O`BRIEN: But the emoluments clause exists to make sure that no one can bribe the President of the United States in order to get policy favors. Those can be domestic or foreign entities and the constitution envisioned the possibility of this. What they didn`t envision was someone with as deep financial holdings as Trump is as becoming President.

MYSTAL: And they didn`t envision one party and the country completely abdicating its responsibilities. Like they`re supposed to be a public check on public corruption but the Republicans refused to do their job, publicly checking the President and so he can kind of run amok within the letter if not the spirit of the law.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So Halie Jackson had the opportunity to ask the President about this today. Let`s take a listen to his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When a plane stops at a massive International Airport and gets fueled, I don`t own the airport. I own a lot of different places. Soon you`ll find that out when I - because I`ll be at some point prior to the election, I`m going to be giving out a financial report of me. And it will be extremely complete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: It`ll be extremely complete Tim O`Brien. You know full well what finance reports of the President look like.

O`BRIEN: Donald Trump is never going to willingly give out a complete financial report about his businesses and finances for a number of reasons. It`ll show that is business isn`t as big as he`s always claimed. It`ll show that he`s not as generous to charities as he`s always claimed.

He also doesn`t want to get at the possibility that his business is funded from foreign sources and that`s the big thing looming over all these questions about his tax returns and his financial dealings are is - the issue is has the President of the United States beholden to any foreign entities who have business or policy or diplomacy in front of the federal government.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So quickly while I have the two of you, I just want to get to this last thing and that is Sharpiegate, that is a new news surrounding NOAA and of course, Wilbur Ross and threatening to fire some folks for defying the President with regards to Sharpie gate and all that is Alabama and hurricane.

You wrote in this piece for Bloomberg, you said Sharpiegate is also magnetic because it exposes the President as the misfit he`s always been: juvenile, ill-informed, narcissistic, unapologetic, unhinged.

You said but it has wandered into more serious territory beyond on himself that should prick up everyone`s ears regardless of their political persuasion. Tim O`Brien, why?

O`BRIEN: Because he`s taking this sort of nonsensical debate with the media about whether he was right about the path of hurricane, which he could have disposed off by simply saying, I was wrong, let`s move on and he started to force scientists and data analysts in the federal government to change their story, back him up, cover him up, essentially to lie.

And I think this gets to the same thing we`re speaking about of the U.S. Air Force using his hotels. Donald Trump is corrupting the wheels of the federal government to serve his private interests or his reputational concerns.

MYSTAL: The only difference here is that this actually is illegal, lying about the weather is illegal because--

O`BRIEN: Not if you`re President.

MYSTAL: Because when people do not trust the weather, they die. It is a one-to-one correlation here. If people cannot trust the hurricane reports, then they will not leave when there`s a hurricane coming and some of them will die. So this is a clear illegal activity.

VOSSOUGHIAN: And we have to wrap with that. Tim O`Brien, Elie Mystal, thank you both guys. As Congress comes back, Democrats ratchet up pressure to act on gun control but first Trump has another primary challenger. We`ll be back in 30 seconds. Don`t go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Make that three Republicans trying to take down Donald Trump in the GOP primary and it`s caught his attention. Today Trump lashing out as former South Carolina governor and Congressman Mark Sanford jumps in. Trump calling Stanford, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh, "the three stooges."

You might find their campaigns ridiculous but that`s not stopping their attacks. Each of them blasting Trump right here on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WELD (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This President knows almost nothing. I think he`s hopelessly over his head. He had no preparation for this job and it shows.

MARK SANFORD (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s in essence led the Republican Party off to the sidelines. The problem is he always had his Daddy to bail him out when he got into trouble. We do not have that luxury as Americans.

JOE WALSH (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he`s unfit to be President. Virtually every time he opens his mouth, he tells a lie. I don`t believe he`s capable literally of thinking about anyone but himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right so what are actually going to do about it. Matt Welch is the Editor-at-large for Reason magazine and Tara Dowdell is a Democratic strategist. Matt, I`m going to start with you on this one. What do you make of Sanford jumping in into the race here?

MATT WELCH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, REASON MAGAZINE: I think it`s a heroic quest to be a bug on a windshield and I wish him Godspeed. Mark Sanford`s polling - they polled him in South Carolina where his home state, his home state in which he couldn`t even win a Republican primary as an incumbent congressman as recently as 2018.

It was polling with Donald Trump at like 4 percent so he`s not doing well in his home state. It`s very interesting to me that all three of these men you know, in a way are kind of the ghost of the remnants of what once was the Tea Party movement, the interesting part of the Tea Party movement.

Which is to say the part were Mark Sanford especially foregrounds debt and deficits as being a pressing national problems that conservatism should be about fundamentally. Joe Walsh is more to the right of this and making more of a character kind of question but Bill Weld, they`re all hitting those same notes.

The notes but Donald Trump has now run the party away from and also in terms of international trade so the question to me is that is this sort of the remnants of something that`s still going to exist or is this a last flicker before it gets extinguished entirely in the Trumpian GOP?

VOSSOUGHIAN: Each of these three candidates, Tara, had said that other Republicans have secretly expressed the fact that they do not like the president, period, at their sentence, but they are scared of him. Are you buying it?

TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think some people probably said that to them. I mean, we hear that time and time again. But the point is, it doesn`t matter if they`re saying behind closed doors, they don`t like the president. They`re going to support the president. They support the president publicly and they`re out there on a limb. Most of them doing whatever the president asks.

So I think it`s just -- to me, I`m tired of hearing all of these people say, oh well, behind closed doors Republicans don`t support the president, but they`ve allowed him to be completely unaccountable. So it doesn`t matter in practice.

VOSSOUGHIAN: You know, I think it`s interesting, Matt, is that when Mark Stamper was asked, I believe it was on "MORNING JOE" this morning, he has been asked this before, who he would vote for, if he were to lose, he did not categorically say he would not vote for Donald Trump --

WELCH: Right.

VOSSOUGHIAN: -- in his re-election bid. He said he`s an ideas guy. He said he would vote for the person who is most in line with his ideas, which you would naturally assume -- let`s say, for instance, in a general election it were Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Joe Biden up against Donald Trump. Donald Trump would be more in line with Mark Sanford`s ideas than those other three candidates that I just named. What does that say.

WELCH: It says that he`s running in the Republican primary, right? The difference between him and Justin Amash. Justin Amash is no longer in the Republican Party.

VOSSOUGHIAN: But you`re making a stance.  Shouldn`t you also categorically say you would not be voting for Donald Trump if he were to lose to Donald Trump?

WELCH: If you make that a second person. Question to me. Yes, but I`m not a Republican. He`s running in a Republican primary, right? So he`s not going to rule that out. Mark Sanford is not going to vote for Donald Trump.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Right.

WELCH: Let`s be clear about this. He`s either not going to vote, or he`s going to vote for a libertarian, or maybe he`s going to, depending on how things are going in South Carolina, he would vote for a Democrat, but I doubt that. But he`s running in a Republican primary, so he`s not going to say, I`m going to vote for President Warren. It`s just not how you`re going to even get four or five --

VOSSOUGHIAN: Not great optics for him there. Yeah. Could this chip away at the president`s base with these three guys jumping into primary him.

DOWDELL: No, I don`t think so. If you look at Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh, in particular, they`re basically versions of Trump, right? So Joe Walsh had said many of the same racist things that Donald Trump said. Joe Walsh has a history of saying many of the same things, we`ve lowered the bar by electing Barack Obama, our first black president. The only reason that he got elected was because he was black. He said a lot of hateful, divisive rhetoric.

He`s actually, in many ways, his rhetoric and that of other Republicans have paved the way for Donald Trump, because Donald Trump came out and said, I`m just going to take this to a whole nother level. Mark Sanford, a lot and the same character issues as Donald Trump. These guys want to be back on the stage if you ask me, just like Donald Trump, the stage.

WELCH: But in fairness to Joe Walsh, she does run on saying he`s apologetic for that. This is an act of contrition saying, leading with the fact that he helped pave the way for Donald Trump in that sense, and Mark Sanford, I think, is a fundamentally decent person in a way that I would never be caught dead describing the president that`s --

VOSSOUGHIAN: Let`s talk about these maps guys. These four states basically saying they`re going to cancel their GOP primary. Kansas, South Carolina, Mark Sanford state, Nevada and Arizona. Matt Welch, this is not out of the ordinary.

WELCH: It is and it is not.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Go.

WELCH: So, you know, you will have -- there is 10 states I think in 2004, that into the Republican primaries that didn`t didn`t get held. But we haven`t seen this type of top down coordination. The Trump organization has been pressuring the state GOPs to do this. South Carolina and Nevada, that`s third and fourth in the primary. Mark Sanford is from South Carolina. Those are important early primary states. And this is under direct pressure from the Trump administration, because they have no confidence in themselves.

They`re showing a total insecurity that we didn`t see, for example, by Barack Obama or Bill Clinton in 96 and 2012. So this is the first time we`ve seen that type of thing happen since 1992 when George H.W. Bush put pressure on Iowa and South Dakota to not include Pat Buchanan, which helped spark the revolt that Pat Buchanan then got in New Hampshire.

All right. Matt Welch, Tara Dowdell, thank you guys both. Appreciate it guys. Still ahead a top Republican says Trump needs to step up on gun reform. I`m going to talk to the mayor of Dayton, Ohio who joined Democrats today calling for action. Plus shock and confusion as evacuees fleeing the Bahamas are forced off of a boat heading to the United States. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Tonight, growing pressure on Trump and Republicans to act on gun reform. Trump today praising the courage of police officers who responded to the recent shootings in Dayton and El Paso, but offering no plan to prevent future attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: In the darkest moments of danger and despair, God calls the bravest to action. These 11 individuals answered the call to every one of the heroes we recognize today. Thank you and God bless you all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: This coming as Trump again flip flops on his gun reform stance, retreating from an earlier pledge to act on background checks following lobbying by the NRA and other pro-gun groups. Meanwhile, top Democrats in Congress today joined by the mayor of Dayton, calling on Trump and McConnell to act on background checks. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Two people in Washington can make sure the background checks bill passes, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

NAN WHALEY, MAYOR OF DAYTON, OHIO: I`m here on behalf of the citizens of Dayton who called us that night to do something. This is something that can be done, can be fast and will save lives.

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: If this bill is not passed, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate and the president will have hell to pay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: In a moment, I`ll be joined by Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, Ohio, who you just heard from. But first, it is not just Democrats upping the heat on Trump. Missouri Senator, Roy Blunt, a Republican, telling NBC`s Chuck Todd it is time for the president to, quote, "step up."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROY BLUNT, (R)-MISSOURI: We`re not going to vote on bills on the Senate floor that the president`s not willing to sign. The president needs to step up here and set some guidelines for what he would do. If the president will let us know what he`d sign if he got on his desk, we could - - we`d be much more likely to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right. With me now is Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, Ohio. Mayor Whaley, thank you so much for joining us today. Really appreciate on this very important topic, as you well know very personally, to say the least. Why did you decide to go to Washington today?

WHALEY: Well, thank you, Yasmine, for having me on this evening. I think the thing that my community had said on the night of August 4th, the next evening after nine people were killed in our historic organ district, was to do something. And so, I came to D.C. to share that message. And to call what 270-some mayors have signed bipartisanly on a letter to say we need to pass into the Senate an up or down vote on H.R.8.

It`s very easy. We want an up or down vote on background checks, which 90 percent of Americans agree with. Eighty seven percent of gun owners in Ohio agree we need universal background checks and the time is now. We don`t want another city to be like Dayton.

VOSSOUGHIAN: You heard Senator Schumer there, as I just played, saying this is on two people. This is on President Trump. This is on Mitch McConnell. You said this can be done. It can be done quickly and it can save lives. How optimistic are you, mayor, that something can actually be done, that there can be gun reform?

WHALEY: Well, look, as a mayor, you have to stay optimistic. You`re optimistic for the future of your community and optimistic for the future of the country. So we as mayors are hoping that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell follow what nine out of 10 Americans agree with. I don`t even know anything that is more popular and just have the vote. We aren`t going to stop mayors across the country. We know that if they don`t, we`ll continue to see senseless gun violence in our communities. And so, there will be another city, and another city, and another city. And we`ll be back here calling for background checks and common sense gun legislation.

VOSSOUGHIAN: I just played this sound from Roy Blunt, basically saying it`s time for the president to step up. You talked about that poll, which I actually want to bring up once again. Eighty nine percent of all Americans overwhelmingly supporting expanded gun background checks. You think about the shooting most recently in Odessa, Texas, which in fact, if there were extensive background checks in place, it would have prevented that shooter from actually obtaining those guns that killed all those people between Midland and Odessa, Texas. Why aren`t GOP leaders here, mayor, stepping up?

WHALEY: Well, I can only assume that it`s that they care more about what gun makers think and protecting gun makers than protecting innocent American lives. And that saddens me. But I know there are profiles in courage in that Senate. And if McConnell will just let an up or down vote happen, we could put this all to bed and the president could sign it.

I mean, this isn`t very hard. This is popular and it`s unpopular in places where Republicans win as well. So this isn`t just a place like an urban communities where it matters. We`re seeing it matter in suburban areas, because we know these massacres can hit anywhere, you know, from synagogues, and mosques, and churches to shopping malls, and movie theaters to great trendy neighborhoods like the district. Nobody is safe if we don`t start moving on common sense gun legislation.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Mayor, quickly, are you worried that the momentum around surrounding gun reform legislation will slow with the election just around the corner?

WHALEY: Look, unfortunately, Yasmin, I don`t think it will ever slow, because we`ve seen so many mass shootings this year. Dayton was number 250. I think we were August 4th. Now it`s September 8th or 9th, right? And we`re, like, at number 289. So the number of mass shootings just keeps piling up and piling up, so much that you can`t even cover them all nationally. You only hear of the really large ones that are really outlandish.

VOSSOUGHIAN: True.

WHALEY: But we have mass shootings every day in this country. So that means in another community and another community, this is hitting. So there is no slowing up of this issue. And the sooner the Senate can do something, and Washington can do something, and act on something that is not partisan in any other part of the country except on cap Capitol Hill, I think Americans would reward that sort of leadership.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yeah, it is completely true, the number of mass shootings in this country on a daily basis. It is completely astounding and we cannot keep up with this cycle of them. I appreciate your passion, your dedication to this issue. Mayor Nan Whaley, thank you so much.

WHALEY: Thank you, Yasmin.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Ahead, fleeing the complete devastation in the Bahamas and outrage after more than 100 people fleeing Bahamas were forced off a rescue boat for not having U.S. visas. And later, some pre debate prep for Andrew Yang. We`ll explain, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Welcome back. It is being called sick, inhumane and the height of cruelty. Over 100 Bahamians fleeing the complete and total destruction of their island from Hurricane Dorian, boarding a ferry to Florida, only to be turned away, forced off of the rescue boat from not having U.S. visas. A local reporter in South Florida was able to capture the moments after they were turned away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What do you think about this?

HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: I think this is terrible. I think they should allow everyone to come into the U.S. They originally said that they could come without a police record and live without a visa. And now, they`re taking that back. That`s really ridiculous. That`s awful.

REPORTER: How many people do you think tried to get off? Did you see?

HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: They said 130 people had to come off, 130 people had to come off the ship tonight.

REPORTER: And (INAUDIBLE).

HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: And now they`re leaving them. It`s only like 200 people on a boat now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: After being through so much and losing so much. One man was with his baby and was told that he could leave with a Bahamian passport, only to be forced off. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: They just got a call from CBP and CBP told them that everyone that doesn`t have a U.S. visa, and who is traveling on police record has to come back.

REPORTER: Normally you can travel, right, on police record?

HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: Yeah, normally you can use police record by way of airplane at least.

REPORTER: So you have to take your baby off.

HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: Yes, I have to take her off. Yeah.

REPORTER: I mean, how do you feel?

HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: At the last minute like this, you know, it`s kind of disappointing, it`s hurtful, because I`m watching my daughters cry. But yeah, it is what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: So Acting CBP Commissioner, Mark Morgan, was pressed on this today, blaming the ferry company.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK MORGAN, ACTING CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL COMMISSIONER: We are not working and telling the cruise line that you cannot allow anyone without documents. That`s just not being done. Okay, so there`s just some confusion there. We will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that needs to come here. We`re going to process them expeditedly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

  VOSSOUGHIAN: And moments ago, President Trump said the U.S. needed to be, quote, "Very careful with who was actually allowed in."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But we have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation, because, look, the Bahamas has some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren`t supposed to be there. I don`t want to allow people that weren`t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come in to the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right. MSNBC`s Ali Velshi is in Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas for us. Ali, there has been complete loss of everything there. Generational.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Just generations of people wiped out, really.

VELSHI: Oh, yeah.

VOSSOUGHIAN: The death toll is rising. Complete destruction. People needing help. What are you hearing on the ground?

VELSHI: Yep. Well, I mean, the destruction is something I haven`t seen before. All over this island. We`re on Abaco Island. We`re in Marsh Harbor right now, you know, the people that the president was talking about, who he said weren`t supposed to be in the Bahamas, he`s largely talking about Haitians who came here after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. And there`s a settlement of them less than half a mile away from here, where they were believed to be 7,000 of them living.

We have watched bodies come out of there today. So while the official death toll has not increased commensurate to what we`ve been watching, there are bodies. And as you and I discussed earlier today, the smell of decomposition is very strong here. There are people over on this side at the dock who are still trying to get out.

I spoke to two parents and their son, an autistic child, and they have been trying to get out. They are both government employees. And he said, I`m just waiting for my check, so that I can leave. But they get paid at the end of the month in the Bahamas. So he was prepared to wait until September 30. He`s sleeping outside, probably a quarter mile from me right now with his wife and his autistic child. And he`s got two dogs and they`re waiting.

There`s no bank. There`s nothing operating. There`s virtually no fuel here. Most of the cars are wrecked. All of the buildings are wrecked. Some of them reduced to to just lumber. Some of them are damaged and still standing. But there`s nothing intact here. There`s no work. There`s nothing going on here. There`s no running water.

So there`s a disconnect between what`s being done, the death toll, and what people`s expectations are. We did see the Bahamian military here giving out some food and some water to people who were coming in to get help. But this does not look like the large scale operation that you would expect it to be, given this island being virtually wiped out. Yasmin.

VOSSOUGHIAN: It`s just interesting, because I feel like at this point in the conversation after a hurricane, we wouldn`t be talking about when people can get in to rebuild. And that is not the conversation that we are having, because there is just such destruction there. It doesn`t seem like rebuilding can be happening at any time. But quickly, Ali, what is being done to get these people out, to help them, to get them to safety, and get them somewhere where they can get food and water?

VELSHI: So depending on where you are in the Bahamas, you`re looking to get to a major center. Nassau is the goal for most people around here. And then, some people want to get to America. A lot of people that, you know, the connection between America and the Bahamas is very, very strong. Most people here are actually descendants of American loyalists from the Revolutionary War and their slaves.

That said, if you are undocumented in Bahamas, it`s been made very clear there`s really no point in making an effort to get to the United States. And NASA is a place that`s based on a tourist economy. It does not have the ability to absorb all of this. So this is a multi, multi-level problem. But I will tell you, Yasmin, as you and I have discussed today, they are still finding bodies. We`re not anywhere close to recovery and rebuilding yet. We`re still looking for for bodies here.

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right. Ali Velshi, thank you so much. Appreciate it my friend. We`ll be back with one more thing.

Welcome back. Nobody seems to be having as much fun on the campaign trail as Andrew Yang. Here he is last night crowd surfing at a forum in California. Literally riding a wave of his gang supporters after speaking.

That is some trust in your fans. It`s like a trust fall at its best. And Andrew Yang is known to have these lighter moments on the trail as well. Watch a little of this.

I mean, he can rap.  He can dance.  He can kick.  What more do you want?  You wonder what he`s going to do in the debate stage this week.

I`m going to see you back here tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m. Eastern for "MORNING JOE FIRST LOOK."  But, first, "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is next.

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