KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more -- more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber. Do we get a new host at 6:00 o`clock? Who is this Ari Melber guy?
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It`s me. Same host. We missed you Katy. You know what I have to ask you now that you are back.
TUR: Go ahead.
MELBER: Did you miss the silences?
TUR: I had 99 problems during maternity leave, Ari, but you weren`t one.
MELBER: Very good. You know what, we`re going to leave it there.
TUR: It`s a good one.
MELBER: When you win, you win. Are you going to drop the mic off your lapel? Mic drop. Katy Tur, we`re glad you`re back. Mazel Tov Too! to you and your whole family.
TUR: Bye. Thank you.
MELBER: Bye, bye. Let`s do it again sometime. Now as for our show tonight other than being thrilled about the return of our colleagues, we have a lot of very significant news.
President Trump looking to Saudi Arabia to figure out how the U.S. should respond to an attack on their oil fields, an important story, and we have a special expert on that appear for the first time on this show, Obama`s UN Ambassador Samantha Power. I`m excited for her "BEAT" debut and hear what she has to say tonight.
Also, top Democrats calling for new accountability for Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, we have that story later in our hour.
But our top story right now involves the criminal evidence against a sitting President of United States, a newly aggressive push by the top Democrat in charge of this probe, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. Democrats returned from their recess pursuing several different avenues for the potential impeachment of Donald Trump.
And while party leaders continue to stress that they are investigating before reaching final decisions, today, the man in charge who what Democrats call now an impeachment probe says this, "Donald Trump ought to be impeached."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): We are concentrating our resources on determining whether to impeach the President. Personally, I think the President ought to be impeached. In my - now I`m talking in my personal opinion. My personal opinion, impeachment is imperative, not because he`s going to be removed from office. The Senate will do that.
But because we have to vindicate the constitution and we have to make sure that the next President or the one after him or her, knows is a very - there`s a real penalty to be paid. That`s why we - the impeachment is necessary, even if we cannot get a vote in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What you`re hearing is significant. You`re hearing the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee - second only to the House Speaker on this issue, saying publicly and unequivocally, Donald Trump should be impeached.
So now the person running this impeachment probe, who can call the vote which sets up ever bringing potential articles of impeachment to the floor, is saying that`s exactly what should happen. And let`s be clear, because context matters. This is not how Chairman Nadler always spoke. He used to say, "Impeachment was basically a maybe."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Why haven`t you opened an impeachment inquiry or in fairness is that what you`re doing right now?
NADLER: I don`t think we`re doing that. We may get to that we may not.
I don`t want to make it sound as if we`re heading for impeachment. Probably we`re not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So as recently as May, Chairman Nadler was telling everyone, we probably were not heading for impeachment and that recent historical context is what makes this new public statement pretty striking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: And personally I think the President ought to be impeached.
We have our hands full with impeaching the President right now.
we have to vindicate the Constitution.
-- leading the President`s become more and more of a tyrant cannot be tolerated - that`s why we - the impeachment is necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Tyrant, impeachment, we`re doing it, this is necessary, this is what you`re hearing from the person running this. This is why, although, Donald Trump has ideas about what should be in the news. And, frankly, they`re all politicians, sometimes speaker Pelosi has ideas about moving some of this off or away or delayed.
Chairman Nadler is out here telling you this. And other investigators are also jumping in right now. News tonight, the top prosecutor in New York, the Manhattan DA subpoenaing eight years of Donald Trump`s his tax returns. An investigator inside the Trump administration is now flagging a whistleblower complaint that Trump`s Intel chief is allegedly hiding.
We only know about this tonight, because of an urgent warning from Intel Chairman Adam Schiff, stating that Trump`s top intelligence official is refusing to follow the law. That requires, he shared this credible whistleblower warning, which was deemed an urgent concern by their own inspector general.
Basically that`s their internal watchdog. Schiff is now dialing it up, issuing a new subpoena to get the complaint and stating the alleged misconduct appears to involve Trump and/or other senior White House or administration officials.
This is not normal push and pull stuff in government. This isn`t normal at all when you take it together, a local prosecutor trying to pry loose the President`s long hidden tax returns. The Judiciary Chair saying it`s time to impeach the sitting President after long saying he wasn`t there yet. The Intel Chair saying Trump`s Intel Chief is hiding a whistleblower complaint contrary to the law.
And that this has never happened before. And this national security whistleblower - again this is not some scandal emanating from Congress seeking investigations. To paraphrase "Billy Joel", Adam Schiff didn`t start this fire. It was already burning when he found the Intel Director trying to hide it potentially illegally. And that leads us to Schiff`s ringing this big alarm bell about how high this could go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The Director has said essentially that he is answering to a higher authority and refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint. I think it`s fair to assume this involves either the President or people around him or both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: If that`s true and that`s why the administration is hiding what it`s supposed to fork over, that would be huge. Now if this potentially explosive claim sounds vague, I want to be clear that`s because it is. No one has the underlying complaint. We don`t have it in our newsroom, Chairman Schiff doesn`t have it. So no one knows if the complaint does involve the top officials or the President or if its allegations are verifiable.
Now as Democratic Chairs are beating all these drums, how are Republicans on the Hill reacting? Well, not very calmly tonight. In fact, over the weekend, a member of Republican leadership sought this moment, as Nadler moves towards impeachment as the administration has this other national security allegation, potentially a scandal.
Uses this moment to claim that the FBI almost staged a coup against Trump and the FBI official who led the Russia probe should be indicted and jailed. It`s that same old call to investigate the investigators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We came the closest ever to this country having a coup and now we need accountability.
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Andrew McCabe, they are recommending charging and indictments here. Will we see an indictment?
MCCARTHY: We will see an indictment. In the end, I do not believe Jim Comey will get off. Anyone that has had any association with trying to create this coup should be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We begin with former DNC Chair, Vermont Governor, and Dr. Howard Dean; and Rutgers University Professor, Brittney Cooper. Good to see both of you. Governor Dean how do you see it all in context and that rather ferocious pushback?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: This is actually fascinating, because you and I had an argument about this about six months ago on this show. And at the time, I was very much in Pelosi`s corner.
The facts I - and I said we need the facts. We still need facts. But the preponderance of the evidence is this President is a crook. The - and we didn`t talk about the Air Force scandal. Using the Air Force to funnel money through - to Donald Trump through his resort in Scotland on his air - and expect puffing up the air base in Scotland that will benefit his resort.
Hiding intelligence information from the people who were trusted - entrusted in the Constitution to get it. And not to mention, all the chicanery that`s been going on for a long time.
So my view on this is, the evidence is just building so that you have to bring this stuff out in the open. And if the impeachment inquiry is the only thing you can do to do it, it has to be done. This administration is a cesspool. This is the most corrupt President we have had in the history of the United States. And that`s saying something, if you go back to Warren Harding.
So we have no choice, but to find out what the facts are. The President has stonewalled at every turn. The only way to do this, I think, is through an impeachment proceeding.
MELBER: What does it tell you that the person in charge of the impeachment probe says - I mean, this is not just everyday stuff, says, "It`s time to impeach the tyrant in the Oval Office."
BRITTNEY COOPER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Yes. I think that there are two things going on. The first is there is no coup and we shouldn`t be must - sort of misdirected by all of the hysteria on the Right. But also part of what Nadler, I think, is finally getting on board with this is that there is something to being accountable to the American people.
And so, we have an election coming up next year. The American people put a Blue Wave in office in order to make sure that this President would be held accountable. He has broken every norm. He breaks laws all the time. He was sharing confidential Intel on Twitter just two weeks ago.
There is literally nothing that this man won`t do in service of his own interests, including putting people, our service folks, our Congress people, everyone who cares about American democracy at risk.
And because of that, I think that Nadler is saying, I want you to know that I have resolved this, because that then creates the context for other people to get on board. Because it means that he has looked at some of the evidence, if not all. He sees the larger picture and he is trying to now lead us in that vein and we`re long overdue for that leadership.
Frankly, they`re behind the step of the American people and so now it`s time to get out front and lead the charge.
MELBER: What do you think of what Adam Schiff is trying to do here?
DEAN: Look, Adam Schiff is a really smart, well-educated lawyer. He knows exactly what he`s doing. The administration is illegally concealing information from his Committee, which is an incredibly important Committee. It`s in responsible to the security the United States of America.
MELBER: Yes. And let me press you on that, because this is important. People say to do the guardrails work? And this is one of those guardrails that is supposed to work. According to Schiff this has literally never been violated before. That if someone has a complaint in Intel, where the things are supposed to be classified, they can go to the IG - the internal watchdog.
And this watchdog deems it credible and that`s how Congress is alerted. And then the administration steps in and says, "No, no one can know about what is credibly accused."
DEAN: I remember Hillary Clinton spending 11 hours in front of this Committee when it was run by some guy from South Carolina who`s a Republican and had a Republican majority. If we can investigate e-mails which turned out to be nothing for 11 hours of Hillary Clinton`s time, we can damn well hear, from this President, who again the most corrupt President in the history of the United States of America.
I don`t think this is - my initial reaction was the same as the Speaker. So let`s not go off half-cocked, let`s not go too far. We now know the evidence. If we`re having impeachment hearings at the time of the election it displays the corruption of the Trump family and the Republican Party`s enabling of that, right, so people can vote a vote on it. And let them vote on whether they think Trump is corrupt and they want somebody who`s corrupt in the White House.
MELBER: So let me take it to you on the political science of it then, which is, we just had a debate where we heard from many of the top Democrats running for President.
MELBER: They didn`t use those platforms to speak about the "I" word they didn`t press Pelosi. They were going in a different direction. Does that surprise you? Because on the Right, on the Republican side, talking about criminalization or strong mechanisms, whatever they may be, is pretty popular. It seems that the Dems aren`t doing that out on the trail.
COOPER: Yes. Because I think that they have bought into this idea that people don`t want this, that they don`t want Americans to be divisive. But this is a man who has us on the brink of a war with Iran. We`ve spent a couple of years being on the brink of a war with North Korea.
Part of what we elect Congress people to do is to hold to - to protect the integrity of the Constitution and to provide leadership. They have access to information the American public does not have. And in prior impeachment enquiries, the public was never on board--
COOPER: --I think maybe not for a good reason. But they have to build the kind of consensus that we need in order to go forward with this.
MELBER: Yes, I`m going to turn to another one of our experts. I want to thank both you Brittney Cooper and Governor Howard Dean for kicking this off.
DEAN: Thank you.
MELBER: And turn out to the man who`s been in the corner of your screen in the little preview boxes is now in the middle of your screen, opening arguments with former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who has argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court.
I have a lot I want to get into with you. But first, big picture, your view of where Chairman Nadler is taking this?
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, I think, my question for him is what took you so long? I mean, we have known this for a long time. And we thought Governor Dean is talking about corruption and crookery, that`s separate. The constitutional impeachment remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors is about a President who abuses the public trust.
And if you just look at the Mueller report, you can open up to like any page, basically, and you will see an example of the President doing that. And for someone like me who reveres the Constitution, as so many Americans do, as a document to bring us together, as a document that says the President has to quote "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
You`ve got a guy who`s trampling on all that, and it`s a grave constitutional wound, and that`s what impeachment is for. It`s a process, it`s not an outcome. So all these Dems who are like, "Well, we might not have the votes in the Senate." That should be irrelevant. Your job is - your first job in Congress is to protect our Constitution, vote accordingly. And so I`m glad to see Chairman Nadler finally getting the show on the road.
MELBER: It`s interesting to get your response, as if I may an institutionalist, looking at that. I also want to ask you about this so called effort to investigate the investigators. And Neal, one thing I could tell viewers is I will never ask Neal Katyal to read my fortune and I`ll never ask you to predict what`s going on inside a secret grand jury room, because both are equally impossible.
But I am curious what we think what you make of the public maneuvering around it, which is, the man who used to at one point being charge of the Trump-Russia of probe, Andrew McCabe, who took over for James Comey, releasing this - I think, we all agree, unusual letter.
Asking bill Barr to fess up about what`s going on, reports that they were considering or trying to indict him, reports from "The Washington Post" that the grand jury did meet. We don`t know what went on inside the room.
And for everyone`s context - and I want to read from that letter. We heard rumors from reporters, grand jury considering charges against McCabe, declined to vote to indict. We don`t know if that`s true. But McCabe`s lawyers is saying it`s clear no indictment has been returned. That`s their view. It could be, of course, sealed or it could be something else.
But the context, of course, Neal, is the pressure that has been brought to bear on the DOJ to investigate investigators, something that Bill Barr was less than forthcoming about in this exchange. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? "Yes" or "no", please sir.
WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The President or anybody else?
HARRIS: Seems you would remember something like that, be able to tell us?
BARR: Yes, but I`m trying to grapple with the word "suggest". I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open a investigation. But--
HARRIS: Perhaps they`ve suggested.
BARR: I don`t know. I wouldn`t say suggested.
BARR: I don`t know.
HARRIS: Inferred? You don`t know, OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATYAL: Yes, outrageous. You know, I`ve had the privilege of serving in two different administrations and I can tell you that there is a iron wall that protects the Justice Department from the White House in terms of who should be prosecuted and who shouldn`t. Those are Justice Department decisions, Ari, they`re not decisions for the President for all sorts of good reasons, because the prosecution power is immense and can turn anyone`s life upside down.
And so the whole idea is the Justice Department makes these on a non- political basis. And here you`ve got Trump pardoning his friends like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Dinesh D`Souza. And really, effectively, it looks like throwing the book at other people, including his political enemies.
And that started, obviously, with the campaign and "Lock her up," I guess that wasn`t successful, but some of the other ones appear to be starting to gain some traction.
MELBER: And briefly - do you think the DOJ can say whether or not this case is over?
KATYAL: So the McCabe one is very interesting. So on Thursday what was revealed that the Justice Department rejected McCabe`s request not to be indicted, but then he wasn`t indicted. And so everyone was like, "What is going on?"
And right now it`s impossible to know, as you say, from your fortune cookie thing. But at least one very likely explanation and getting increasingly likely or with every moment is that the grand jury, Ari, has refused to render an indictment of Andrew McCabe, and that`s really significant.
The grand jury is part of our Fifth Amendment. It was written in for the most profound of historical reasons. It was the trial of John Peter Zenger in 1734, who was this guy who basically wrote all of this anti-Crown, anti- New York colonial governor newspaper screeds.
And the king tried to - and the governor tried to have him arrested and two different grand juries said uh, uh you`re not indicted that guy, and that`s what led to our Fifth Amendment. And indeed actually our First Amendment and Fourth all come from that trial as well.
So this is a critical safeguard on the abuse of the prosecution power and it`s a really rare thing to see a grand jury ever saying no when you want to seek an indictment. The kind of standard phrase from the New York Court of Appeals High Judge was a "Grand jury will indict a ham sandwich".
But, here again, we don`t know. We`re just looking at this. But at least one explanation is looking increasingly likely, which is the grand jury took the incredibly rare step of protecting individual liberty and siding against government abuse in the prosecution.
MELBER: Right. And if that`s what`s happened, that would be a fascinating example, something we were covering earlier in the hour in guardrails. Living history elucidated by counselor Katyal, which is a pleasure to hear and learn from. Thank you, sir.
KATYAL: Thank you.
MELBER: I want to remind viewers, you can always go to msnbc.com/opening arguments and see videos of all of our reports with Neal Katyal and these breakdowns.
Now, coming up, new questions about allegations against Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, some calling for his impeachment tonight. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who actually grilled him during the confirmation hearings, joins me live later.
Critics named Trump taking his cues from Saudi Arabia about whether to use our military. My special guest Samantha Power, Obama`s former UN Ambassador.
I`m Ari Melber, you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: New scrutiny on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, leading to calls for impeachment from some 2020 Democratic candidates. The story tonight was set off by a new forthcoming book " The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation" by two New York Times reporters. And they dealt with Kavanaugh`s history and controversial confirmation process.
Now this weekend, "The New York Times" ran an essay by those reporters, detailing alleged sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, while he was a student at Yale. Where a classmate told reporters he saw Kavanaugh with quote "His pants down at a drunken dorm party." And the FBI did not investigate even though the student contacted them.
In the books account of that incident the writers note that this woman reportedly involved did not make that accusation to them, did not agree to an interview. And that her friends told the reporters she didn`t recall the incident. And that detail was not included in "Times" initial essay, leading to an editor`s note published later to update the essay.
This book also adds to reporting about a claim that did surface during that confirmation battle, former student Deborah Ramirez accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The writers report that seven people, including her mother, heard about this incident long before all of these judicial confirmation battles.
And other reports, including "The Los Angeles Times" also note that the FBI did not interview those people either. Now, remember, Kavanaugh categorically denied allegations of sexual misconduct under oath at his confirmation, including the Ramirez allegation.
He also added that if something like that happened, he said, everyone would have been talking about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Ms. Ramirez`s allegations about you true?
BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those are not. She - no - no - none of the witnesses in the room support that. The - if that - that had happened, that would have been the talk of campus in our freshman dorm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This new reporting states that former classmates say they were talking about it back then. And that many of those people, they say, they were also ready to then tell the FBI about the recollections. Now that detail matters, because as you know, if you follow the news, misleading the FBI is a crime.
So those are at least some Yale alumni who were suggesting they were ready to take on personal liability, personal risk to tell their stories, their accounts. And this book is already having huge political repercussions, 6 2020 Presidential candidates now calling for Kavanaugh`s impeachment.
While, Kavanaugh`s defenders, including the President, who appointed him, not only say these allegations have been denied, but are criticizing how parts of this book`s reporting were released by "The New York Times."
I want to turn now to two experts in this field Nancy Erika Smith is a leading civil rights lawyer who has represented women in sexual harassment suits, including Gretchen Carlson`s well-covered suit at Fox News; and Jaimie Nawaday, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. Thanks to both of you for joining me.
NANCY ERIKA SMITH, ATTORNEY FOR FOXNEWS REPORTER REPORTEDLY BLOCKED FROM DANIELS STORY: Thank you.
JAIMIE NAWADAY, FORMER SDNY PROSECUTOR: Thank you.
MELBER: What do you see as important about what has been added to this story?
SMITH: What I see this important is that, what we thought was happening was real. It was a sham FBI investigation. It was too limited by the White House. This set the Republican Senators went along with it.
I mean - I think the vote was 48 to 52 in this case this - the narrowest vote for a Supreme Court justice ever. And I wonder why when we only have nine lifetime appointments on the United States Supreme Court, we would fight over such a flawed appointment. And I believe the reason is because Trump is going to go to the wire for this man.
Trump himself has been accused of rape credibly by two women. One of them is ex-wife, and credibly been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 17 others. He seems to want to take on this idea that women should be free from sexual abuse. And some of his base seemed to rally around. Such a - any other President would be distancing himself from a man credibly accused of so much sexual misconduct.
And here we have the President threatening that the women themselves should be investigated and "The New York Times" should be invested. What a red herring that is, people with nothing to gain have come forward and said what they saw.
And let me say this, I represented many rape victims, especially victims who were intoxicated or given date rape drugs they don`t remember what happened. But an eyewitness, that`s incredible, incredible evidence. Several eyewitnesses - slam dunk evidence.
NAWADAY: I agree that what this shows is that - to go back to the process, the process was incredibly flawed. And that`s what this is highlighting, that`s what the calls for impeachment are highlighting that this was a rushed process. There were numerous witnesses who were not interviewed by the FBI who should have been interviewed.
And what the public`s expects is that when there`s a rushed process, it`s a result driven process, it`s a rigged process and so all of these old wounds are being reopened now, because there was no confidence and the integrity of this process.
And so now we need to go back - and, of course, people are going to ask questions that these interviews be conducted. And these are not complicated or lengthy interviews to be conducted. This wouldn`t have to drag on for months. These are basically tell me what happened kinds of interviews.
MELBER: Right. And when he is testified under oath, he has an obligation to tell the truth about everything. Or in that process, he can try to decline to answer things, if that`s his preference.
MELBER: There are questions of a personal nature that don`t involve misconduct about, say, someone`s dealings with their own wife that they may say I`m not going to answer that question - right, there are traps. But he did go ahead and answer things which also are called into question by some of these witness accounts. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: You`re asking about blackout - I don`t know, have you?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s not happened, is that your answer?
KAVANAUGH: Yes, and I`m curious if you have. Passed out would be no, but I`ve gone to sleep. But I`ve never blacked out.
KLOBUCHAR: Whether you`ve ever gotten aggressive while drinking?
KAVANAUGH: The answer to that is basically no.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Never had foggy recollection about what happened, is that correct sir, "Yes" or "No".
KAVANAUGH: That`s what I said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Did he, in your view. fail to tell the truth based on what is publicly known or that still needs to be investigated?
NAWADAY: I think it - I think it`s a very questionable what he said. I think it was questionable at the time, given what everybody was saying about his conduct in college, in particular that he had never been drinking to the point of excess that caused him to pass out or blackout.
And it sounds as though, people at the time we`re disputing that when he was testifying to that. So I think it does need to be investigated. It`s a very difficult to prove that somebody has lied in that type of context, when they`re saying - because, he can always say I just don`t remember. I was testifying to the best of my recollection. But it`s a very questionable statement.
MELBER: How do you think the press should best handle this? As I reported, there`s been criticism of aspects of the way this reporting came out in the essay.
SMITH: I think the press has to leave no stone unturned. There`s nothing more important than the Supreme Court. And the Republicans understand that the courts actually make more law than Congress. And they have packed the courts with political operatives, sexist, racist. Their writings and their own behavior has indicated this.
And it takes - it`s going to take drastic action. He should be impeached and the press should vigorously speak to these witnesses and tell their accounts. Because it`s important that we know who sits on the highest court in the land that`s going to decide gerrymandering, voter suppression. If there`s ever another Gore - Bush vs. Gore.
Politicizing the courts is incredibly damaging to our democracy. The Republicans have done that. They denied Obama his constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court justice. They`ve shoved the Brett Kavanaugh down our throats in a very questionable way and a very questionable investigation. And the press needs to step up, but the Democrats need to step up too.
We can`t just sit back and say, "Oh, well we can`t do anything about it." We have to impeach him and then we have to consider adding judges and justices to the Supreme Court to balance the fact that they`ve been packed by the Republicans.
MELBER: Nancy Erika Smith, and Jamie Nawaday, on the law and the facts, I appreciate you both joining me. What we`re going to do now is bring in a U.S. Senator on this who questioned Judge Kavanaugh when he was a judge, when we`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: We`re back, delving into this reporting about Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And I want to turn now to U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. He`s on the Judiciary Committee. He questioned Kavanaugh last year. Right in the center of these new controversies, thanks for joining us tonight.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Good to be with you, Ari.
MELBER: Your reaction to what is new in these accounts and what should be done.
WHITEHOUSE: I think it heightens the urgency of an investigation of the Kavanaugh investigation. I think that after Dr. Blasey Ford`s allegations were public, the second FBI investigation that followed was a bogus investigation.
You see Chris Wray trying to walk away from it and ascribe it to the White House. You see people like Max Stier being told that their evidence isn`t welcome at the FBI, which is exactly the opposite of the way investigative agencies ordinarily behave with information.
MELBER: Let`s jump on that point. You`re mentioning one of the students who was named - former student in this reporting. There was this 2019 August letter which you were a part of saying, "In our experience it`s not the practice of the FBI to decline, to pursue credible leads in an investigation or fail to interview accuser and the accused."
Is there a mechanism then in your view given those details to go in and have someone interview those individuals? Should that be the FBI or should it be the House where Democrats are in control if the Senate`s not going to approve it?
WHITEHOUSE: If I were to do this in logical order, the first thing I do is to have the House Judiciary Committee investigate the FBI investigation and find out what they did. You could take the FBI investigation and compare it to a real FBI investigation, and you`d be able to see multiple discrepancies between the way the FBI ordinary ordinarily investigates when they`re doing a legitimate criminal investigation and this thing that they did at the White House`s behest.
And if I were looking at that, the first thing I`d look at is the so-called tip line. As people who are coming to us, on the Judiciary Committee saying I`ve got evidence, I`ve got a friend who has evidence, I have a client who has evidence, where do we take it to the FBI? And so when we ask the FBI where should this evidence come to? They kept saying not me, not this, no, not here.
MELBER: And Senator you`re not yet backing impeachment of him, is that correct?
WHITEHOUSE: I think you`ve got it investigate first. There are some steps you go through.
WHITEHOUSE: I`m a prosecutor.
MELBER: I know.
WHITEHOUSE: --before you ask for the verdict.
MELBER: And your office told us you`re tight on time. So I appreciate you making time. My follow-up question then is, given your position, do you think that some of your colleagues in the Democratic Party have moved too quickly to backing impeachment if this is about the Judiciary Committee and the process going forward with due process for all? Do you disagree with those Democratic candidates?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, I have my view, which is that we need to get these investigations underway, so that we can go forward and on evidence make a determination about what the next step should be and whether that should include impeachment.
But the first step, obviously, is to expose what actually took place with this supposed FBI investigation once the allegations were out.
MELBER: And then finally my last question - sorry my last question for you sir--
WHITEHOUSE: No, go ahead.
MELBER: --is if Justice Kavanaugh ultimately is found to have perjured himself before your Committee, what happens? I mean Americans are trying to understand what does it mean if he both was confirmed. That was a vote counting thing. But then also in this process if it is found later by fact- finders that he perjured himself, then what?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, we get to make a decision about whether that`s a high crime and misdemeanor?
MELBER: Understood. On a busy night, Senator, I appreciate your making time. We`ll have you back. I appreciate it.
WHITEHOUSE: Good to be with you.
MELBER: Yes, sir. Still ahead, there are these rising tension with Iran. We have a leading diplomat who worked under Obama, former Ambassador Samantha Power live on THE BEAT coming up with a whole lot more when we come back.
MELBER: New jitters really across the world tonight about what the United States might do to respond to this major attack in Saudi Arabia. In a moment will turn into a very special expert on this topic, President Obama`s UN Ambassador Samantha Power who also served in the National Security Council.
And all of it ran pretty differently under the prior administration. Today`s NSC is often forced to make policy on the fly in response to tweets. Like President Trump`s announcement today, that the U.S. is quote "locked and loaded for a strike." And he says it`s quote "looking like Iran is responsible for hitting one of the world`s biggest oil facilities in Saudi Arabia."
U.S. Intel has confirmed the attack was they believe launched from Iran. Iran still denies any involvement. Larger questions here are classic dilemmas. How do you make policy with imperfect information? When must America act to save lives and try to prevent the next atrocity without making things worse?
Well, long before Samantha Power was tackling those issues in the Obama administration, I want to give you the context. She was actually exploring them reporting from Bosnia as a foreign correspondent and then charting the failure of governments to prevent genocide in her Pulitzer prize-winning book, "The Problem from Hell."
In fact, it was that work that drew her into Obama`s orbit originally when he was entering the U.S. Senate. And she made the journey from idealist on the outside to a public servant on the inside, taking up the post of America`s top diplomat at the UN.
That is, of course, an arena for some of the great foreign policy performances in our post-war era from Fidel Castro`s four-hour speech in 1960 to Colin Powell`s misleading case for starting the Iraq war in 2003.
And you know who a President sends to UN actually can reveal their whole policy towards the world, consider a controversial diplomat who you know, because he just left the Trump administration, John Bolton. He was actually President George W. Bush`s recess appointment to the UN - quite a contrast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR OF THE UNITED STATES: There is you know United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that`s the United States, when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along.
SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Make no mistake, the engagement of women in peace and security does not reflect a desire for disengagement by men. The principle that guides us is respect for the rights and dignity of all. Just as all benefit from peace, so all must help to create peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And now we`ll hear from our expert, our next guest making our debut and THE BEAT, Samantha Power. The new book is "The Education of an Idealist". Thank you for joining us.
POWER: Great to be here.
MELBER: Let`s start with the book and then we can get to Iran and all the other Trump stuff. You detail a certain approach to these often life-and- death questions. And it`s - the way you detail it is your journey and what you learnt, but also following the lead of this President.
So reading briefly from your book you say, "Obama, at times would seem restless and unsatisfied as he heard from his key advisers. But also gave little hint of the course of action he favored. If he laid out his thinking, those who disagreed might silence themselves, or what he said could also land in the press." What was important about that?
POWER: Well, President Obama famously said he wanted to create a kind of team of rivals and initially that meant bringing his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton into the cabinet. But throughout his presidency it meant ensuring that he heard the full range of viewpoints from people who worked on national security.
And, for instance, one of the stories I tell in the book is, if I came into a meeting and I was on the back bench in the first four years as his Human Rights adviser, I would think that I was bearing a poker face and not indicating one view - one way or the other given that I wasn`t at the table.
And he`d say, "I see Samantha frowning over there. What`s on your mind?" Welcoming something that was critical of what was being said in order to for somebody else to respond to that in order to try to land in the best place, all things considered. And God knows the press considering - or at least back then was considering all things.
So - and then, of course, he didn`t want to make policy or announce policy publicly until we brought our allies on board, until we`d build coalitions that would enable us never to be going alone, but to be catalyzing coalitions and being the best position we could be to succeed.
MELBER: Yes. And you focus a lot on the role of idealism. There are all kinds of criticisms of obviously American foreign policy in the projection of power, all the hypocrisies. And yet, you seem to write about a time when it was at least understood that there was value in reaching for idealism, even when we do fall short.
And so with that in mind we put together a little bit of recent Presidents talking about diversity and inclusion on the global stage. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD U.S. PRESIDENT: America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I`ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. One based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How important was that messaging and that leadership in your work and where do you see it lacking in today`s administration?
POWER: Where to start? I think, you start trying to build trust, partly for its own sake. It`s just generally a good idea to be trusted in the world, to have the respect of other people, to not be alienating people, which can even be a source of radicalization in some quarters.
But trust is also money in the bank. It`s when you then go to build a coalition to end the Ebola epidemic as Obama did back in 2014-2015. There are countries willing to take your call, believe your evidence, because you`re not lying to the world and to the American people as our current President does.
And that`s what enables you to go to China in advance of the Paris climate negotiations in order to get China to commit to doing something that it had no intention of doing, because China feels we got to develop, we got to industrialize. And then we turn around and we say, hey, but you`ve got to stop halfway and do it our way, because now we`ve decided that the planet matters.
But when you have built up that political capital it makes it much easier to build those coalitions. And I worry - I mean, the case that we deal with today, when the President has no credibility, when there isn`t the kind of process that I`ve just described for you where alternative viewpoints are heard, where expertise is valued.
When we don`t even have a Director of National Intelligence, which is the position created in order to ensure that the different intelligence community points, because there are - there`s a range of viewpoints even within the intelligence community, usually on most hard issues. But that sort of synthesis and that`s streamlining.
We don`t even have a person in that job or in the deputy job. You really worry that the - you know, it`s hard enough in the world. And we can see in the Obama administration how difficult it was to achieve our objectives even with good process.
But when that goes out the window, it`s extremely hard to build the coalitions we need to deal with transnational threats, which is the essence of what we will face today and will continue to face going forward.
MELBER: Right. So - and you`re talking credibility. That it seems to be another difference that`s not Left, Right, but sort of pre and post Trump, because there are detractors of your boss who would say he promised that you could keep your health care plan and that wasn`t true for everyone.
Or he said it wasn`t a tax and the Supreme Court ruled it was a tax. And Bush was accused of lying about all kinds of things. And yet, those domestic political disputes seem different from the credibility you bring on the world stage of are you just - are you just out of any cred when you deal with these complex problems?
And so with that let`s turn to Iran. Let`s look at what Donald Trump has been saying on this for your analysis. We don`t have it. I`ll read it.
I think we have Donald Trump saying - let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to me.
REPORTER: Do you have preconditions for that meeting?
TRUMP: No preconditions, no. No preconditions. If they want to me, I will meet.
TODD: Is it one-on-one talks you any Ayatollah, or you and the President?
TRUMP: It doesn`t matter to me. Here`s what I want. Anything that gets you to the result--
TODD: No preconditions?
TRUMP: --for the next three years. Not as far as I`m concerned. No pre- conditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What do you see is the cost of his bluster or his lack of credibility and where should we go on these issues with Saudi and Iran tonight?
POWER: I`ll just note the journey we`ve been on with President Trump over the course of the last month to six weeks. So, first, we were minutes away, it seemed, apparently from a military strike - a military strike brought about by the U.S. decision to withdraw from an agreement of had peacefully ended Iran`s nuclear program.
Trump called it off in the last minute, which is a good thing. Trump has succeeded in uniting the world with Iran in opposition to the U.S., given that we are widely seen to be the ones to have unraveled the nuclear deal.
Then you play the clip of him wanting to have a face-to-face with no clear sense of what he seeks to achieve through such a face-to-face. We in the Obama administration were very supportive of engaging unsavory regimes. That`s the best way to try to change behavior is actually to sit down and do the hard diplomacy.
But there`s been no articulation of what the objective of the Trump administration is vis-…-vis Iran other than punishment for punishment sake. So that was how many days ago was the summit tweets?
And now we`re in a world where, again, we`re locked and loaded and about potentially to bomb Iran on the basis of intelligence that virtually nobody has been briefed on, so - or alleged intelligence that nobody has been briefed on.
And this happens, Ari, of course also in the context of Trump`s previous attacks on our own intelligence community. Remember, when the intelligence community came to the President and said I`m sorry Mr. President. I you want to get out of the deal, but Iran - and, yes, you to say that Iran`s not complying with the deal. But they`re actually complying with the deal.
And what do you do? He then tweets the intelligence community needs to go back to school - ridiculing these professionals who were trying just to bring facts and expertise to bear. So that`s the context in which all of this happens.
And imagine if you`re trying to keep track of where America is, and even if you`d like to stand with the United States against Iran`s destabilizing actions whether in Yemen or if they are in fact responsible for this destructive action, you don`t know what to do. You don`t know if you`re with us on a Monday what will come out of Trump`s thumbs on a Tuesday.
POWER: It`s extremely complex to build the coalitions, again you need, in order to isolate rogue behavior.
MELBER: Samantha Power, a perfect guest on a night like tonight. It again so folks can find it and read in themselves, the book, "The Education of an Idealist." Thank you so much.
POWER: Thank you Ari.
MELBER: Up ahead, I want to show everyone something really interesting on civil rights that Lee Daniels said about making change. That`s up next.
MELBER: Welcome back. I want to share a point on civil rights that comes from director and producer, Lee Daniels. Now we just interviewed him. I sat down with him for our "Mavericks" series. And this is something we`re going to end right now on television for the very first time.
And this is about something that really we learned and explored during the interview. Daniels started out - not the way we know today, as a famous director, but he was actually managing actors, including he says "many black actors." And he found there really were virtually no serious roles available to them.
And that`s what compelled him to change his whole career and move into producing and directing, partly to create roles that didn`t exist for artists who he believed were far more talented than the opportunities Hollywood afforded them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE DANIELS, AMERICAN FILM WRITER: Hollywood, for the most part, has underestimated the intelligence of the - of us.
Literally, I can`t believe I`m saying this in my lifetime. And they were just pimps. They were just prostitutes. They were drug addicts. And those were the opportunities that were available to us, as people of color - the only opportunities. I knew that I would not look at racism. I knew that I had to change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is just part of what Daniels was telling us about. He also opened up about a meeting he had with Donald Trump. And what he says it will take to beat the President`s potential re-election next year. You can catch all of that in the full episode, as well as my other interviews. It`s up right now on msnbc.com/mavericks.
MELBER: And that does it for me. We`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. One more thing before we go, you should know Brian Williams has an interview with the controversial former NSA employee, Edward Snowden on "THE 11TH HOUR" tonight.
You can catch that right here on MSNBC. Don`t go anywhere right now because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END