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North Carolina holds a special election. TRANSCRIPT: 9/10/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Richard Stengel, Berit Berger, Michael Eric Dyson, Liz Plank

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  And I`m going to be cutting you off here in a second. But go.

FORMER GOV. MARK SANFORD (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK. What I would say is I`m an ideal guy and I`m going to vote for the person that is ultimately closest to be on deficit in government spending.

TODD: All right. Well, it will be interesting then to ask you the question if it ends up Trump and Biden, versus Trump or Warren. Mark Sanford, thank you, sir. Stay safe on the trail.

And that`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. We have election results. If it`s Wednesday, we love those. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Election Day. Good evening to you, Chuck.

TODD: Yes..

MELBER: We have a lot in THE BEAT tonight. White House disarray with the President ousting his is top National Security Advisor via tweet and reports Trump is already lying about the dispute.

Also tonight, House Democrats starting to subpoena the Pentagon after officers used U.S. tax dollars to stay at a Trump resort, a story that keeps picking up legs.

And Republicans facing this do over election, which I just mentioned with Chuck, after getting busted for election fraud, which has Trump on defense.

But we begin with the breaking news out of Washington. A chaotic day at the White House as President Trump outs his third National Security Advisor, John Bolton, with a tweet. The move, clearly a surprise to some White House staff who still had Bolton slated to appear at a White House event today.

Now, why did Donald Trump remove Bolton, a foreign policy figure widely known for his hawkish views? Well, Trump posted that he told Bolton last night he was out because he strongly disagreed with those views.

If you take Donald Trump`s word, he apparently suddenly discovered on the job what Bolton thinks, as if the former Fox analyst`s views were not clear when he was hired.

You know who doesn`t take the President`s word, John Bolton himself, who flatly accused Trump of lying by offering a different account. Saying, he was offering to leave last night and then Trump said quote "According to Bolton let`s talk about it tomorrow." And then telling NBC, "I offered to resign last night. He never asked for it, directly or indirectly. I slept on it and resigned this morning."

Whatever one thinks of John Bolton`s ideology, there wouldn`t seem to be a ton of incentive for him to pick a random fight with his old boss based on a lie. And his allies at Fox News were quick to report Bolton`s version of events to Trump`s base.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: John Bolton just texted me, just now he`s watching.


KILMEADE: Yes, he said "Let`s be clear. I resigned. And I said, "Do you mind if I say that while you were talking? And he wrote "Yes". So John Bolton just told me - texted me to say I resigned.


MELBER: If the Fox clip there gives you any sense of d‚j… vu tonight, there might be a reason. The last time Donald Trump fired a National Security Adviser, removing H.R. McMaster last spring and hiring Bolton, the whole thing became official has Bolton went on Fox News about 45 minutes later.


MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST: Here now former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, former Fox News Contributor. Good to have you here this evening, sir. Your reaction to your new job.


MACCALLUM: No, you`re apparently.

BOLTON: Well, I didn`t - well, I haven`t started there yet. So, that demonstrates I think the sort of limbo that I`m in, because I didn`t really expect that announcement this afternoon.


MELBER: Didn`t expect the announcement for one of the most important national security jobs in America. You might say tonight that Bolton`s tenure kind of ended the way it began, surprise announcements, apparent disorganization and of course a live feed of all the drama on Fox News.

But I want to be clear with you tonight as well, this isn`t just about drama. This is about national security policy in the Trump era with Bolton "The Hawk" arguing, he had to be the voice of reason. Opposing Trump`s longshot plan to bring Taliban leaders to Camp David around 9/11, what could go wrong, two officials say that that objection - which by the way was shared by people in both parties to the Donald Trump`s idea, was for him quote "the last straw" when it leaked.

Bolton reportedly opposing Trump in a high-stakes meeting about that in the Situation Room and in a cabinet that let`s remember often features obsequious and ridiculous praise for Donald Trump. Well, it`s clear Bolton was reportedly willing to stand up to what he saw as bad or dangerous foreign policy ideas.

He had that type of backbone, whether you agree with his alternative ideas. Not maybe something he has in common with his predecessor, because Trump has now actually had three National Security Advisors, the third one announcing he was out in the tweet.

But before that, of course Bolton, before him there H.R. McMaster who rankled Trump so much he was regularly doing quote "derogatory impressions of him in his absence." But tonight there are actually new reports that when things got sour with Bolton, Trump started calling on McMaster, asking him for his advice, and saying he even missed his prior National Security Advisor.

And if you go back a little further, before McMaster, of course, you have Trump`s first and briefest National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who was fired like the other two and who actually happens to be back in court today, receiving a new sentencing date after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Mueller probe.

Flynn was one of the very first in a long line of Trump staffers who are out the door. Record breaking turnover he may not be the last. But on his way out, John Bolton is doing something, as I mentioned, different than some other people in and outside the administration.

He worked for Donald Trump. He tried to serve him. He may agree with him about certain stuff, but he is tonight essentially calling Donald Trump, the President, a liar and he`s promising to say more soon. Telling "The Washington Post" Robert Costa, quote "I will have my say in due course. But I have given you the facts on the resignation."

I`m joined right now by Rick Stengel, former Undersecretary in the Obama administration, former editing Managing Editor of TIME Magazine; Michelle Goldberg from The New York Times and MSNBC Terror Analyst Malcolm Nance, the author of "The Plot to Destroy Democracy."

Good evening everyone. I start with you. What does it tell you that Mr. Bolton, who I think I know from your diplomacy, is not someone you agree with on everything, is deciding to call it as he sees it and accuses his boss - his old boss here of lying.

RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, bully for John Bolton for doing that, I would say. And while I don`t agree with John Bolton about everything, I absolutely certainly agree that was an absolutely crazy idea to have the leaders of the Taliban come to Camp David.

These are people who are killing Americans, have killed thousands of Americans, who harbored Osama bin Laden. They don`t allow music in Afghanistan. They won`t allow women to go to school. Donald Trump is going to embrace these people at Camp David. Not a good idea.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, I don`t want to fall into the trap of lionizing John Bolton just because he`s now conflicting with this terrible President, right. I mean, I think that every single person in this country is safer tonight now that John Bolton is no longer there pushing for more with Iran, pushing for a war with North Korea.

The day he became National Security Advisor, I was genuinely terrified for the future of this country, for the safety of my family. It is a relief. He had no business ever having that job in the first place.

That said, I would agree that he has shown more integrity than some of the other people in this administration. In that he has - we`ve talked about this before right? Ideologues, people who are true believers in some sense are less likely to go along to get along, because they get truly outraged when - and truly disillusioned when they see their ideals being contradicted. So in that sense he has - he has the courage of his very terrible convictions.

MELBER: And that courage, as you say, goes to this being a story about ideas. Donald Trump`s ideas are, among other things, at times Phantasmagorical when it comes to saying, you know what, well, we ought to mark 9/11 is with a high level Camp David summit for the Taliban. I mean, you can`t even - I don`t even know where the idea comes from other than sheer pageantry.

But to your point Michelle, reading from the NBC reporting on this there were these reports that it was not just Bolton, but Vice President Pence that were against the Camp David plan meeting with Taliban leaders. The last straw - at Monday Pence tweeting these stories were fake. But, again, to your point about credibility, Bolton did not knock down those stories.

GOLDBERG: Right. And apparently Trump was angry that Bolton planted the stories about Pence to begin with. I mean, I think that Donald Trump and John Bolton agree with kind of disregarding all of our alliances, acting unilaterally.

Where they disagree is that Donald Trump then wants to make these - it`s kind of ridiculous. He has this natural affinity for our enemies. Right? So John Bolton, although he`s perfectly willing to go along with Trump, ripping up the Iran deal, kind of disregarding any notion of human rights in American foreign policy.

The great irony here is that John Bolton is one of the most hawkish figures in American foreign policy in recent history. His legacy is now going to be kind of the bosom friendship between the United States and North Korea.

MELBER: Yes, which is why Malcolm Nance, your thoughts on all of the above.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well Michelle is absolutely right. You know, Michael Bolton - I mean, I`m sorry. John Bolton - would have been much more better if it was Michael Bolton.

But John Bolton speaking out and being this friend to this President of the United States who - with his entire career as the number one war hawk for Iran, the number one war hawk for North Korea. Suddenly being chained and kept on a little perch, if you could imagine that image.

But Trump wanted that image, because he was very well known. He was he was lauded in the Republican Party sphere. He was known as a sharp "Hawk". And by bringing him onto his team he could use him as essentially as a cudgel in both ways towards Iran by thinking that he was going to unleash this mustachioed war hawk.

And then on the other side the Republican Party, by believing that they brought - he brought on board there war - the guy who really, really wanted to have that sharp edge to the U.S. foreign policy.

That being said, Trump wanted neither of those things. And so he loves, as you say Ari, the pageantry of the President of the United States doing amazing things like having this you know Jimmy Carter moment where he was going to bring you know Sadat and Begin to Camp David.

And he was going to do it with the Taliban of all people, the week of 9/11, which shows not - the fact that he has no ability to understand the optics. That he doesn`t care. He doesn`t care what the American people would think. And so John Bolton by showing the slightest honor amongst thieves finds out that there is no honor amongst thieves. He gets pushed to the curb.

MELBER: Right. That Sadat and Begin was carefully coalescing something that had been laid in an actual groundwork of diplomacy a treaty of soft power. Whereas this feels a little bit more like desperately seeking a theme party. "Oh, well let`s pick this anniversary day. Let`s get the right decorations." This is not a joke.

Now you mentioned as well, Malcolm, you said must mustachioed. How do you pronounce it?

NANCE: Mustachioed.

MELBER: Mustachioed warmonger. So you want to get into the mustache, I take it.

NANCE: Well, I mean, this guy - he`s always been caricature it is Yosemite Sam.

MELBER: Right, which might be--

NANCE: --and that would actually be a very accurate caricature.

MELBER: --unfair to Yosemite Sam. He is known to deal more in soft power. But the President himself was concerned about the mustache.

Steve Bannon and other at times disgruntled ex-aide leaking about this or speaking about it to reporters saying, "He was pushing Bolton, the hawkish diplomat for the job." But initially quote "Bolton`s mustache is a problem", Bannon said. "Trump doesn`t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste."

I mean, how much of this is a sort of a story in reverse? That Donald Trump`s initial concerns about Bolton related to quote unquote "casting an appearance" and then by the end he appears to have been drag to actual policy debates in the Situation Room?

NANCE: I think it has some measure to it. You know how Trump is. If you don`t come from central casting he doesn`t particularly like you. And I think right now, I think, it will be fascinating to see who he`s going to bring on board.

You know he`s probably going to go out and try to find the most disgraced General that he could find at this point, probably General Boykin or somebody who was fired from their job, and say "OK, I`ve got a general that`s more like me in this position."

But the real problem here is, Bolton resigned and he made it very clear to Fox News he resigned.


NANCE: But he - and everyone who`s worked this job who has been fired will not come to the American people and tell us this President is unfit. And maybe this is part of that national security in class of classified information problem we keep having with President Trump. Maybe he doesn`t want a National Security Advisor, because tearing down U.S. national security seems to be his full time job.

MELBER: Well let me take that to Rick Stengel as a diplomat. When you look at what is now a clip of averaging about National Security Advisor a year which is a little faster than normal. Plus the highest turnover record compared to the last four Presidents running when we counted up.

How does that relate to the wider problems the administration has when you look at these stories out of Russia, when you look at the security issues, when you look at the way North Korea and the Taliban are both bandied about as though maybe we will, maybe we won`t.

STENGEL: Well, the larger issue is that we don`t have a national security strategy. I mean, you mentioned before it`s about ideas. I mean for Donald Trump he doesn`t have an idea. He just has reactions. He just has feelings.

And the problem with replacing Bolton, and I`ve been saying this for a long time is that when someone leaves in the Trump administration they`re never replaced by a better actor. The Golden Age of the Trump administration will be exactly when it started. And every job every person and every job will go down, because who actually wants to serve in the administration of an unfit President? That`s what you have.

So Bolton - I mean, not to praise Bolton and Bolton was as incredibly hawkish and he always made us closer to war, but he was within the normative window of what people actually think about foreign policy. He may be replaced by someone who is not.

MELBER: And both of you, at least, have been very careful to say you`re not praising Bolton. While in little ways you have gestured at lightly praising Bolton, so I just observe that. Final, quickly.

GOLDBERG: I would say only that to say that somebody has kind of more integrity than some of the other disgraced figures in the Trump administration is the faintest praise imaginable.

MELBER: I see what you`re saying there. It is somewhat faint. It`s like saying to use a Grateful Dead reference that hardcore Deadheads will know, a very organized drums and space sequence is still a drums and space sequence. Anyone? No. No. Malcolm? Malcolm anything?

NANCE: Ari, let me just. Can I just say one last thing about--


NANCE: The person Donald Trump will be looking for next can be encapsulated in the character from the movie - General Jack D. Ripper, right? The guy who believes in conspiracy theories and will go along with whatever Donald Trump says.

MELBER: A chilling final note. We were going to end on a slightly lighter note, but you took us to a much darker and depressing place about the future of national security in America. But you know that`s you`re right as our expert. Malcolm Nance, Michelle Goldberg and Rick Stengel, appreciate each of you tonight. Thank you.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

MELBER: When we come back in just 30 seconds Democrats expanding the scope of their impeachment probe with a historic vote this week; details coming out now about military personnel staying at a Trump Resort. And this new voter fraud claim that we`re going to fact check with Michael Eric Dyson tonight.

Plus, Michael Flynn sentencing, news on that. He was in court today as I mentioned. And that`s not all tonight, a very special interview with the acclaimed Oscar winning director Lee Daniels. It`s part of my "Mavericks" series everything coming up in 30 seconds.


MELBER: It`s hard to believe how many different stories we`re tracking tonight, because we are now just days away from a historic impeachment probe vote, Democrats eyeing new avenues, including possible corruption.

The reports here are about how Trump is using the presidency to line his own pockets with your money, from Vice President Pence`s very odd stay at Trump`s island resort, to AG Barr dropping 30 k at a Trump hotel, and now it`s reporting that military personnel have been staying at Trump properties, raising eyebrows.

Now the powerful Democratic House Oversight Committee is pushing the Pentagon, threatening a new subpoena to get into the details of what was going on these stays.

This comes after POLITICO`s Natasha Bertrand reported that Air Force crews stayed at Trump`s Turnberry resort at least four times since 2018. Meanwhile, a nearby airport was arranging for transportation to the resort and packing lunches for crew members. All of this factors into the impeachment probe vote. This week.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): That`s a President who is profiting, has turn the White House into a profit making machine, directing people to stay at his resorts. And I think we have to do what the Framers gave us the power to do. And if we don`t, we actually are undermining the Constitution.


MELBER: The Trump`s allies say whatever the appearance is here, nothing has broken the law. They claim, some might say this also appears at times like small ball. You have a couple thousand dollars in some of these accounting.

But look at it like this. Not only is this your money, which you might care how it`s spent, but the appearance of impropriety can be quite a bad look, particularly when you recall the larger context. It was Donald Trump`s campaign manager brought down on corruption charges garden variety pocket lining. And as these questions are circling Trump has promised answers.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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`ll be extremely complete.


MELBER: We turn now to Berit Berger, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC Legal Analyst. Nice to see you.


MELBER: How about the point that, while nobody wants taxpayer dollars misspent, there is a question of is this the right thing for Democrats to focus on in scale. Or does it actually echo the history of a lot of corruption cases, which is sometimes it starts small?

BERGER: Yes. I think it`s the latter. I mean, this really is sort of garden variety corruption. I mean, what we have here is essentially a violation of the Constitution`s Emoluments Clause, which is very legalistic way of saying that the founders of the Constitution wanted to protect situations of undue influence on the President, but also from the president profiting from holding public office. Right?

So that means the President is not allowed to accept any money. He`s not allowed to profit in any way other than his set salary, not a penny over. So whether some people say, "Oh this is really de minimis. It`s only a few thousand dollars here or there. That really doesn`t make a difference when you look at the heart of it."

The President is simply not allowed while holding public office, under our Constitution, to profit from this office. And what we`ve seen is really a pattern of various emoluments violations, really starting from the minute he took office.

MELBER: And even if someone is inclined to say well I want to give my President the benefit of the doubt, isn`t the whole problem with a conflict is that it doesn`t assume you are ethically challenged. You may be. It assumes that we don`t want people in positions of authority where they`re deciding on an execution or a bombing or anything else to choose between their self-interest and the public interest?

BERGER: Yes, that`s exactly right. You`re sort of saying we`re not even going to put you in a position where you could make the wrong decision its appearance of impropriety. We want to make sure that we`re guarding against that.

I mean, I think the root of the issue here though is because you have a President who really historically did not divest himself from his businesses, that`s really the root of a lot of these problems here when you look at sort of these emoluments violations.

Because he still has these conflicts, exactly like you said, he didn`t take himself away. He didn`t put it in a blind trust. He still has access to these businesses. So you have these conflicts that are really just ripe for saying that there is something fishy going on.

MELBER: My last question for you is the hardest. Federal prosecutors, as you know, love to stack up their counts. You know supersize it, and then maybe you`re going to deal back. Is that how the Democrats if they want to go on impeachment should approach this or do you think they need to focus?

BERGER: I think they need to focus really for a matter of timeliness here. I mean, if they want to look at every possible instance of wrongdoing, every obstructive act, every emoluments violation, every potential act of - that was improper, they`re going to be doing this for the next five years. So I think they really have to focus on what they can get done in a short period of time and really try to play their best hand first.

MELBER: Berit Berger, always interesting learning from you. Thank you for being here.

BERGER: Of course.

MELBER: Really appreciate it. Up ahead, we have an award winning director Lee Daniels here for my "Mavericks" interview airing for the first time, dishing on a lot, including his meeting with Donald Trump. But first tonight, North Carolina special election, Republicans busted for voter fraud. Michael Eric Dyson is here with a fact check.


MELBER: Election Day and Republicans right now on defense over this special election that was actually called, if you remember, to address voter fraud by Republican operatives. This is a twist in a story that often actually has Republicans hyping the threat of potential voter fraud as a reason to increase voter I.D. requirements.

Now those are controversial, because many experts say they just discriminate against the elderly, the poor and minorities. Well, Professor Michael Eric Dyson is here tonight on this story to fact check the way Trump is lashing out with his party on defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: This whole thing with sanctuary cities. And you go to California which has so many sanctuary cities. They don`t know what`s happening out there. You have people that want to get rid of those sanctuary cities. They just aren`t able to do it with the people that get elected - a lot of illegal voting going on out there by the way - a lot of illegal voting.


MELBER: Authorities actually found enough illegal voting by North Carolina Republican operatives who were working for candidate Mark Harris. That the entire results - this was rare - but the entire results of a 2018 midterm House race were tossed.

Harris, ultimately dropping out of contention, which is why Republican Dan Bishop took his place against the same original Democratic challenger Dan McCready. And this is the race tonight. Polls actually close in just over an hour. And I bring in Professor Dyson. Good to see you sir.


MELBER: What is the truth here and what do you see is the President doing in the very state where this rarity occurred and it occurred on the Republican side, an election result tossed for fraud.

DYSON: Well this is SOS, the same old shenanigans. And we know that this president is given to mendacity to lying to outright manipulation, disinformation and misinformation. So the combination is a lethal cocktail.

The Republicans were caught red-handed. They were forced to have another election in light of the rare instance of a judiciary finding fault, so much so that the results had to be tossed out. The Republican candidate dropped out. Another one had to be filled. And now we have this special election.

This all suggests that something is smelly, rotten in Denmark. And Denmark in this case is the Republican Party and its refusal on the one hand to acknowledge its own malfeasance, and on the other hand to continue to tell the lie about the manipulation of the polls by Democrats, and it`s all an ugly game.

MELBER: And to vote or not to vote, that`s always the question on a night like today. Of course, the few in North Carolina we always say get involved, be civic and vote. I want to show a little bit more for your fact checking, professor, of the President in the way he was campaigning. Take a look.


TRUMP: What`s your neighborhood? Where do you live?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Unintelligible Response)

TRUMP: Rutherford County. OK. So how do you feel about having them release hardened, horrible, criminals into Rutherford County? I don`t think so.


MELBER: Professor?

DYSON: This is astonishing. I mean the kind of xenophobia, the kind of hatred of the other, the kind of painting with a broad brush against the canvas of political destiny or at least a racial group in suggesting that, again, the dark people, the brown people they are the threat - the immigrant, they are the fault here, the people seeking relief from horror.

I`m not sure that people seeking relief from a Category 5 hurricane had time to collect their passports along the way to make certain that they could meet the stringent demands of an American government to give them aid and relief from their horror.

This again is yet another mark to suggest this President is not only incompetent, but he folds that incompetence into a kind of hatred of the other that has been unfortunately contagious in this culture.

MELBER: Yes, you mentioned the refugees from the storm. Here was the President on that as well.


TRUMP: 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. So we are going to be very, very strong


MELBER: And professor it would be easy for those who follow the news, people watching you explain it all right now to say, well, isn`t this consistent drumbeat and what`s going to happen? And yet we`re in a period where, A, the system seemed to work. That`s why there`s a new election tonight in terms of busting the malfeasance and the President going on and on like this is not just sitting in and baking and it`s normal.

Look at the drop in the approval here just in this summer. He`s down six from July, heading into a fall where there might be, as soon as this week escalation and impeachment, I wonder what you say to people who feel sometimes like it`s always the same and yet the data suggests in some ways he`s slipping.

DYSON: Yes, well look, there`s no question that both have to be held in suspension. On the one hand Trump either talking about those bad people from another county trying to steal your votes and come in and vote inappropriately in North Carolina or those people from the Bahamas.

Now what we`re seeing, yes, the system is working. But the tragedy is, the guy who operates the bully pulpit who`s supposed to reinforce the good instincts that support democracy, instead is doing a thing that is eroding the possibility of democracy.

Will some of those things be caught by the system? Yes. Will his ratings go down in the polls as a result of his persistent inability to tell the truth? Yes. But there`s always that percentage point of people who don`t get it. Who don`t - it doesn`t matter to them. So even though he may fall in the polls he will rise in the estimation of some of these people.

And let us not forget, this is the same man it was predicted would lose miserably. So Donald Trump has a history of outperforming polls that don`t really capture what his true status is.

MELBER: Professor Dyson with an intellectual curveball at the end and a fair word of caution. I always appreciate you coming around to fact check, sir.

DYSON: My friend, I appreciate that Jim Palmer or Mark Fidrych. I appreciate it.

MELBER: I appreciate it. We`ll see you again.

DYSON: All right.

MELBER: Professor Michael Eric Dyson on THE BEAT. Going to fill in a break and then we have news, Michael Flynn has gotten a sentencing date, he was back in court today and new heat on him from Democrats, we`ll explain.

And then tonight, something we`re very excited about my interview with acclaimed Oscar winning director Lee Daniels were you would hear what he says. It`s all part of our "Mavericks" series. Getting Real about stereotypes in the movies, fighting racism and his famous reaction to a very famous moment. We`ll explain. Coming up.


MELBER: You couldn`t write it like this if you tried when you think about connections in the news tonight. Donald Trump`s National Security Advisor being removed tonight and his former - Trump`s former National Security Advisor, who pled guilty of lying to the FBI, also back in the spotlight as he left a court status hearing.

Michael Flynn, you see here leaving the courthouse after a federal judge officially sent his sentencing hearing. We now have the date. It will be December 10th. All of this comes after Flynn`s new lawyer, a big Mueller critic, filed a special brief trying to have the whole case tossed.

He alleged quote "egregious misconduct" by the government and Mueller`s team, saying, "They basically suppressed evidence which destroyed the credibility of their witness" and also saying, "They were basically unfair to Flynn."

Now as he braces for sentencing, there`s also heat from Congress tonight with House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff commanding Flynn to come before that Committee by September 25th, saying that there`s been a failure to comply with a subpoena or cooperate.

Flynn subpoenaed by that Intelligence Committee all the way back in June and hasn`t complied with previous deadlines about documents. Now at the Republican National Convention back when Donald Trump was accepting the nomination you may remember Michael Flynn with that "Lock her up" chant and this famous statement.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: And you know why. And you know why. You know why we`re saying that? We`re saying that because if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth - a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.


MELBER: Is that true? Well, with this sentence hearing scheduled we`ll find out in December. Going to fit in a break and then coming up award winning - Oscar winning director Lee Daniels is here. I`m going to show you some of our brand new interview airing for the first time.


MELBER: Donald Trump is reviled in much of Hollywood, which I just discussed with Lee Daniels, the award winning director of "The Butler", "Precious", "Monster`s Ball" and the hit show "Empire". And that score appears to bother Trump who spent years trying to get even the smallest cameo parts in movies and personally sought out none other than Lee Daniels in the early 2000s to see if he would direct a Lifetime movie about Trump`s life story. Daniels explains he did not always loathe Trump.


LEE DANIELS, AMERICAN FILM WRITER: You know what? Can I tell you something? I have met him. I met him--


DANIELS: I interviewed for him to do a biopic of him for Lifetime.

MELBER: Get out of here.

DANIELS: I swear to God. Sat in his office, was mesmerized by him.

MELBER: Who`s interviewing who?

DANIELS: We were both interviewing each other. And then I sort of - OK I`m going to get in trouble for this, but I sort of - I was sort of impressed by him. He was so charismatic in the meeting.

MELBER: What did he want out of you in the meeting?

DANIELS: Clearly, not for me to direct his movie, because I kept prodding with questions and he - but he had - he - I was sort of taken aback by his charisma. Then--

MELBER: What was the most charismatic thing he did in the meeting that you remember?

DANIELS: I`m obsessed with your work. He went fawned over me - just fawned over me. And I was just like - I was in him, and I was like wow.

MELBER: Was it knowledgeable fawning?



DANIELS: He had done his homework or someone done it for him. But then I saw how he was acting on "The Apprentice" and I said, I don`t think I liked this guy so much.


MELBER: Just goes on to admit that Trump did initially trick him. But for a Trump critic that`s pretty interesting, because rather than just criticizing Trump supporters for getting conned, Daniels implies he has something in common with them, but then says he thinks America is on to the Con.


MELBER: And what do you think of him now?

DANIELS: I loathe him. Is that a bad thing to say? But I loathe him more than he tricked me. I`m pretty good for being a mind reader and knowing what people are like.

MELBER: Do you think he`s tricking other people now?

DANIELS: I think he thinks he`s tricking other people. Everybody`s onto him.

MELBER: And you think he`ll win again?

DANIELS: If we don`t do something, yes I do. Radical. We are at war with ourselves. This is a time that I didn`t ever see - I didn`t foresee in my life that I would be I think going to be a part of. But I think that we`re at - we`re at a civil war in our country.


MELBER: That political war is something Daniels` work has charted for a long time. Probing legal racism in "Monster`s Ball" and stereotypes in "Precious" and running into barriers within Hollywood, while trying to tell those very stories, which Daniels also recounts in our new interview.

This is from our series "MAVERICKS WITH ARI MELBER". We go in-depth with artists, musicians and cultural icons. And Daniels says some of the things that he`s celebrated for now were actually blasted at the time, noting his portrayal of race and sex in "Monster`s Ball" offended many people.


DANIELS: I assume you`re going to be offended by my work. If it`s not offensive to you then I`m not doing my job. If I`m not making you think about what`s inside your head, I`m not doing my job. So I don`t care about that.

And I really don`t care about the critical acclaim. If you go out and you start to make a movie for an Oscar, you are (bleep) freak. That`s just - it doesn`t it doesn`t work like that. You do it from what`s inside of here. You do it what`s inside of here and here and your experience in life.


MELBER: You don`t make a movie for an Oscar, but of course Daniels film `Monster`s Ball" not only won an Oscar, it was the first time a black woman ever won an Oscar for a leading role.

And Daniels tells me he hadn`t even gone back and ever watched that very moment when Halle Berry won since the night it occurred in 2002. And he wasn`t in the room at the awards show to savor that Oscar that night. Daniels says he was watching on TV at a hotel while doing drugs.


MELBER: Where were you when Halle Berry was the first black woman to win an Oscar for a lead role in that movie?

DANIELS: I was in a hotel. You`ve clearly done your homework. Have you?

MELBER: Do some homework around. Yes.

DANIELS: Yes. I was in a hotel, inebriated.

MELBER: Not expecting to win then or inebriated regardless?

DANIELS: Not expecting to win at all. I`m invited, but not - I didn`t intend on - I didn`t feel like I deserved to be there.

MELBER: Why not? You were a part of the movie?

DANIELS: I don`t know. Because when Hollywood tells you do not deserve it, you sort of believe that.

MELBER: What hotel?

DANIELS: The Chateau Marmont.

MELBER: Naturally, but little on the nose, Lee.

DANIELS: Well, yes, sort of. But I didn`t think I was deserved being at the table, so I didn`t - I didn`t go there.

MELBER: So that`s something people who think of you as this successful culture creating star, frankly, might be surprised that even at that point in your career, even on Oscar night you weren`t in the room. You were, as you put it, inebriated in a hotel and then this happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Oscar goes to Halle Berry, Monster`s Ball.


HALLE BERRY, AMERICAN ACTRESS: I want to thank, Lee Daniels, our producer and thank you for giving me this chance, for believing that I could do it. And now tonight I have this.

DANIELS: That`s nice. I didn`t see that forever. I hadn`t - I think I saw it since that time and since the - since the Chateau Marmont.

MELBER: This is the first time you`ve seen it since then?

DANIELS: Mm-hmm.

MELBER: How does it look now?

DANIELS: It looks great. It makes me feel like I was just na‹ve and stupid for not going. Yes.

MELBER: What brings the tears?

DANIELS: It was hard fight. It was really hard fight.

MELBER: And when--

DANIELS: And she deserved it. Yes, she deserved it. It was a - that`s the first time I`ve seen that.

MELBER: She deserved it. But you didn`t think--

DANIELS: I deserved it. No, I don`t think I deserved. Yes, I was just doing another day - I`m trying to think about where my next gig is at. Where is my next gig is coming from and how I could change the world with the next piece of work that I could do. Something that was unexpected.

So she`s there. I`m in the bed with a crack pipe and thinking, OK, so what`s next for me? What - how do I how do I change the world with the next piece of work that I want to create.

MELBER: How do you feel remembering that she thought you did deserve it? And she thanks you from that stage.

DANIELS: You just don`t have time to take it in. You don`t have time. You know life is so short that you just say, OK thank you, and you don`t really stop and take it in. And this time I took it in. That`s why I became emotional. You`ll never see me cry on television again. That`s for sure.


DANIELS: Uh-huh.


MELBER: Maybe we can all take something from that to sometime stop and take it in, and as Mr. Daniels says, to find that it`s possible to both admit mistakes and still believe in your own value. That conversation, we`re just airing tonight here for the first time, is part of a longer and we think deeper discussion with Daniels.

We`re dropping it tonight on I hope you`ll visit the site and check out the entire interview in context and the other episodes from this digital series are posted there too, again

And up ahead, we want to share a provocative new take on some very major divisions in America and how it relates to the gun safety battle.


MELBER: As Congress returns to work, there is pressure mounting on Leader Mitch McConnell to do something about gun safety bills. Democrats demanding he hold a vote on background checks in February. McConnell has been pushing back.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Senator McConnell refuses to do his part to save lives.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): To make a law you have to have a presidential signature.

PELOSI: Thousands of people, thousands of children have died since Senator McConnell first refused to take up our bills.

MCCONNELL: They are working on coming up with a proposal that the president will sign. Until that happens, all of this is theatrics.


MELBER: Doesn`t look like theatrics though to many of the activists. There have been, of course, multiple mass shootings last month alone - majority of the country calling for some kind of action. And it`s increasingly clear the debate doesn`t focus only on guns.

There are many problems intersecting in this crisis and some of them may run culturally deeper than we typically acknowledge. Consider a study that shows the majority of mass shooters are young and middle aged white men.

"The New York Times" reporting this common thread that quote "A history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends, female family members or sharing misogynistic views online." And it goes to broader questions about of course the culture of what is often called masculinity in America.

These are some topics my next guests address is in a brand new book out today, Liz Plank is of course host of Vox`s "Consider It" and her brand new book is called "For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity" out today. I was happy to give it a blurb and happy you`re here to tell us about it.

LIZ PLANK, AUTHOR, "FOR THE LOVE OF MEN": Thank you so much for having me.

MELBER: Nice to see you.

PLANK: I appreciate it.

MELBER: Let`s start with the gender dynamics of this mass shooting epidemic. What does it tell you and what did you find in your work that this is a problem in many ways, but it`s also often a male driven problem?

PLANK: Yes. Look, it`s impossible to talk about guns without talking about masculinity in America. I also think that the way that we talk about it is wrong though. So the mass majority - the vast majority of gun violence in America isn`t necessarily white men who are going out and committing mass shootings. It`s white men actually killing themselves.

So there is a gun problem. It is - it does lead to a lot of violence. What we`re seeing is that the vast majority of men who are in this country, who have guns, who end up doing something bad with that gun. Most of them are turning it against themselves.

And it`s no surprise when you look at the data. Right? So for a lot of men in America it`s actually easier to get a gun than to get a therapist, especially if you go to rural areas. I went to Montana, for example, who has the second highest rate of suicide in America right after Wyoming.

Two-thirds of county - of rural counties in America don`t have a single psychiatrist. And so when you mix that mental health issue and a mental health issue that we really don`t address with men, right.

Men don`t tend to have the same kind of space to be able to talk about their feelings and be as vulnerable as women. Far less men actually seek therapy than women do. Again, this is all data that`s out there. And yet, we don`t really have this conversation intersect with the problem with gun violence in America.

And I wonder how it would look like if we were to have more of a compassionate conversation when it comes to masculinity. Instead of always coming at it as masculinity being the problem. What if masculinity was a solution? What if we could give a different model and just have a curiosity around masculinity to open up this conversation.

MELBER: Well, and part of what you`re saying that`s important here is that it`s not a choice between the hard data and the sometimes softer cultural analysis, because they are linked, because you`re talking about a culture that tells boys to lean into that.

I want to read here from the book you write that we are, as an American culture today, more comfortable with the image of a boy playing with a toy gun rather than a boy playing with a toy doll. Because we`re more comfortable seeing a boy hold something that kills rather than something that cries. And you`re saying in that reaching sometimes it`s inward violence, because they then turn the gun on themselves.

PLANK: I spoke to men who had Easy-Bake Ovens, who had dolls, who had even just puppies that were - like toy puppies taken away from them or ripped away from them and they were told you cannot play with this.

Some of these, now adult men, remember their parents whispering about the fact that they like to use cooking tools that they like to play with them. God forbid men would love to cook and enjoy cooking and that we`d help develop those skills. I think a lot of women who are probably watching would really love men to be able to contribute more in their households and learn these skills.

But exactly to your point, and yet those parents might not be surprised or as shocked to see their boy playing with a toy gun. And so we are much more comfortable when men are in a position of aggression, of violence.

And the brain is unisex organ. The heart is a unisex organ. We are actually a one human species. I`m sure there are gender differences, but so many of them are actually fabricated, because we just do not raise boys and girls the same way.

And we`ve had a big conversation about the way that we raise girls. We`ve had a lot of changes. We encourage girls to act more like boys. But we don`t encourage boys to act more like girls.

MELBER: If your book had a campaign slogan as it`s going to go out to the country be read today, what would it be?

PLANK: "Make masculinity compassionate again". I feel like some people might be upset already that I said that. You know, just - I think like Marie Kondo (ph) your gender. Let`s just all approach our gender - all of us, whether we`re women, men or gender non-binary and look at the things that we`ve taken.

Things are in the back of the closet that we might not want any more or need and think, do I want to hold on to this or do I want to - ?


PLANK: --or do I want to go?

MELBER: Yes, de-clutter.

PLANK: De-clutter your gender. Yes, I love that.

MELBER: And expand our gender.

PLANK: Yes, I love that.

MELBER: Liz Plank, always good to have you on the show. Congratulations on the book.

PLANK: Thank you so much. Thank you.

MELBER: The book is "For the Love of Men."  Get it on Amazon right now.

That does it for us.  We`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.  "HARDBALL" is up next.