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Singer Annie Lennox on Global Feminism. TRANSCRIPT: 9/17/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: John Flannery, Annie Lennox

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of he is his own worst enemy in some ways.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Right now he is doing Warren`s work for.


TODD: No, that`s - the best thing Warren has is that. The question is who is going to do Biden`s work for him on Warren? Thank you all. That`s all we have for tonight.

We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Ari, it`s good to have you back. It`s good to be throwing to you buddy.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Great to have you, and what a big day in Washington, sir.

TODD: Yes, man.

MELBER: We`re going to get into it.

TODD: All right, buddy.

MELBER: Talk to you soon, Chuck.

TODD: You got it.

MELBER: We begin tonight with the fallout from the Democrats. First impeachment probe hearing with a trump witness.

House Democrats calling their first official witness in this impeachment probe of potential obstruction of justice by the President of United States Donald Trump, marking today is a kind of inflection point in the battle over accountability for what democrats say are Trump`s crimes in office.

There were fireworks as witness number one, Trump`s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski seized on this star turned today to battle filibuster and at times openly taught House Democrats at this hearing. They say Lewandowski`s evasions and brazen tactics make him look disrespectful, even guilty.

But, remember, this is also an adversarial process and at times Lewandowski was, make no mistake, effective at delaying the process and even ruffling his questioners.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Is it correct that as reported in the Mueller report On June 19, 2017 you met alone in the Oval Office with the President?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Is there a book and page number you can reference me to please? I don`t have a copy of the report in front of me.

NADLER: Volume 2, Page 90.

LEWANDOWSKI: Could you read the exact language of the report, sir. I don`t have it available to me.

NADLER: I don`t think I need to do that. I have a limited time.

LEWANDOWSKI: I`d like you to refresh my memory by providing a copy of the report, so I can follow along.

NADLER: Page - you don`t have a copy with you.

LEWANDOWSKI: I don`t have a copy of the report Congressman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman, I requested that the clock be stopped while this charade is sorted out.


MELBER: It was clear right there from that opening gavel that Lewandowski strategy was to stonewall, to dodge, to even play the kind of games that, frankly, would appeal more to Donald Trump and his allies than win over any neutral observers.


NADLER: How many times has the President asked you to meet him in the White House?

LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed not disclose the substance of any discussions--

NADLER: How many times did you meet with the President alone in the White House in 2017?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don`t know the answer to that.

NADLER: How many times did he direct you to deliver a message to a member of his cabinet?

LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed not disclosed the substance of any discussions with the President.


MELBER: Here are the facts. Lewandowski never worked for the sitting President in office. He was never a government official. He was subpoenaed and put under oath to answer questions, some of which he answered already in the Mueller report.

So right there this requests from the government to hide information or duck questions is just that. There`s no legal component to it. It is the equivalent of saying, the people under investigation don`t want me to tell you the truth about them.

It`s not a legally valid answer, which is why it didn`t work, remember, when Lewandowski tried anything like that with Bob Mueller who made Lewandowski admit in an incriminating interview that Trump asked Lewandowski to try to get the Attorney General to curb -- yes, the Mueller probe to limit its jurisdiction.

Mueller categorized all of that as part of the efforts to curtail the Mueller investigation -- the special counsel`s investigation. So right here you take a step back from Lewandowski`s bluster and you see the outlines of the hiding. Hide the stories in public. Delay as long as possible.

In Lewandowski`s case, to be fair, ultimately tell Mueller the truth -- of course, that`s probably to avoid having to go to jail, but then come back and hide it again when asked about it under oath today.


LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed not -- I not disclose the substance of any discussions with the President or his advisors to protect executive branch confidentiality.

The White House`s has directed not disclose the substance of any discussions--

NADLER: How many times did you--

LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed not disclose--

The White House has directed not disclose the substance of any discussions with--

I will not disclose any conversations I`ve had with the President--

I am respecting the executive branch privilege of confidentiality.


MELBER: If you find the highlights repetitive, just imagine being in that hearing room or covering it all day as our team has been doing, tracking it. But in all seriousness the privilege that might be sort of in the back of your mind there -- well, I`ve heard all the White House privilege. It does not apply to people who don`t work in the White House nor, by the way, to hiding potential crimes.

But the guardians of that privilege were flanking Lewandowski today. You can see here as he leans back and gets that advice, Donald Trump`s White House lawyers providing government paid legal services to this very important red tided citizen.

Now at time some members of Congress did narrow things, I want to show you, to the point that Lewandowski was forced to acknowledge certain facts. Here`s a brief exchange with Congressman Hank Johnson.


LEWANDOWSKI: I believe he asked me to deliver a message for Jeff to consider delivering himself.

REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): He wanted you to deliver to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, correct?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe that`s an accurate representation.

JOHNSON: And he wanted you to deliver it to Jeff so that Jeff could say it to the people, right?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe so.


MELBER: That was a rare admission today. Lewandowski`s wrangling and evading in a hearing that continues was so thick that even some independent experts suggesting today he may have failed to do the bare minimum of cooperating with the congressional probe, which means Congress could technically hold him in contempt for that. That`s what one Congressman was asking for and today Chairman Nadler reportedly is still considering all the options.

So you take this together, and here`s what we have. The Democrats held an obstruction of justice hearing to get facts about potential obstruction and the key trump witness looked more like he was covering up the facts then providing them. That`s bad by any measure.

Democrats say that itself looks like an element of the crime of obstruction. And Trump`s allies, though, they stress Lewandowski was never charged with anything during this long probe, let alone convicted, and that he did cooperate with Mueller.

Take it all together, and even amidst the chaos of some of what Lewandowski did and was able to uncork. We showed you just some of the madness in these excerpts. A lot of this doesn`t look that good for Donald Trump on the substance.

But I want to be clear, because we always try to give you the full picture here. Lewandowski also did prove a wily and effective hostile witness at times. He just seized on this first hearing with a Trump witness by these Democrats in the House and also of course the first major hearing since Bob Mueller himself testified.

And Lewandowski used it to face down House investigators, to call into question the Democrats approach thus far and perhaps most ominously for those rooting for progress in the road to impeachment, Lewandowski called into question there results.

For more analysis I want to bring in two of our ace legal eagles, Maya Wiley, former counsel to Mayor of New York; former Civil Prosecutor in Southern District of New York; and John Flannery, former federal prosecutor.

Good evening to you both. Lot to get into and I have a few more excerpts I want to play for viewers. John, I put that question to you. Obviously, we see the substance and the problems and what Lewandowski did, and I`ve covered that. But what do you say at this point that he was wily and effective as a hostile witness.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I don`t think he was wily and effective. And I thought he wore down toward the end and that several of the members got elements of the crime of conspiracy. And what people forget is that you don`t have to succeed in a conspiracy.

And we have Trump asking him, basically, to kill the investigation by converting Sessions to their side. And he`s told this, but he doesn`t stop there. He does overt acts. He writes down what the President wants Sessions to hear. He makes an appointment with Sessions. Sessions doesn`t show up. We don`t know if there`s any side conversation.

He puts the document in a safe and then he arranges for someone else to give it to Sessions. Then he has another meeting with Trump. So there are all these overt acts. And then a conspiracy, if you don`t withdraw, you are exposed. So - and it only takes two to tango in a conspiracy.

So you have Trump and you have this guy. And he just didn`t carry the day. And I know that people watching it are uncomfortable, because they like a smooth operation. And I don`t I`m not being facetious. Those of us who do trial work know that when you do a deposition it`s a food fight sometimes.

And the thing that you have in the deposition is you can call a judge and have something happen. That said, I think that we got stuff from Nadler who is stronger and several Congressmen who pinned the elements of the conspiracy and identified the overt acts, particularly Congressman Sicilia.

I thought if you just took his five minutes you had a summary of the case against our boy, Corey, and I don`t know how he gets out of it. He should have taken the Fifth Amendment, and he`s trapped. And if I was running against him, boy, this stuff will be out there all the time.

MELBER: Maya take a look at this key exchange.


REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Didn`t you think it was little strange that the President would sit down with you one-on-one and ask you to do something that you knew was against the law?

LEWANDOWSKI: I didn`t think the President asked me to do anything illegal.

COHEN: You didn`t think it would have been illegal for you to ask Mr. Sessions to drop the investigation and to just go on to future presidents and omit everything with this President and go "Olly Olly In Free" we`re going to start with the next one of that colluding with Russia? You didn`t think that was illegal, to obstruct justice?

LEWANDOWSKI: Congressman, the President didn`t ask me anything illegal.


MAYA WILEY, FORMER CIVIL PROSECUTOR SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Well, Lewandowski is rather or die. So that`s I think what we got today.

MELBER: That`s clear, yes.

WILEY: That`s clear. And I actually agree with what you said earlier, which is Lewandowski, wily, maybe not, but what he did effectively was essentially stick to his position, which is I was not told to do anything illegal.

Now what John`s absolutely right about is, tons of evidence that, yes, frankly Robert Mueller found obstructive act. That it was connected to the grand jury investigation and that there was substantial evidence of intent to obstruct. That`s what the section of the Mueller report says regarding what Corey Lewandowski agreed to do for Donald Trump.

I think the problem here is, they were not - Democrats were not able to get out a coherent story for those of us who are not lawyers.

MELBER: Well, and that`s the point.

WILEY: That`s the--

MELBER: Because if this is about an impeachment probe, which they say it is, then the American public is looking at a pretrial story which would set up, are you ever going to go out and do articles of impeachment, do the rest.

Whether or not you are, you need to lay that foundation. And at times it felt like Lewandowski, in style more than substance, was hostile, punched some holes and then you got out on these diversions.

Here`s another moment to take a look at which revolved around the safe, and was on the one hand suspicious, but I don`t think goes to the larger substantive question of whether Donald Trump is going to be proved to have committed crimes at office, that`s what they`re hunting. Take a look.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Have you ever put any words that the President asked you to write down before in a safe or was this the first time you`ve done that?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe it`s my standard operating procedure when taking notes Congressman.

SWALWELL: So every note that you take of the President, you put in a safe?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don`t - it`s a big safe, Congressman, there`s a lot of guns in there.

SWALWELL: Is this the first time you ever put a message that the President asked you to deliver to someone else in the safe?

LEWANDOWSKI: Not to the best of my recollection.


WILEY: Yes, that was an important moment, I think, in the sense that it demonstrate that Corey Lewandowski, despite saying he doesn`t believe the President asked him to do anything wrong, that there was something very sensitive there to him.

And you know Karen Bass - Representative Bass also got to this point, I thought, very effectively in her questioning about the fact that Corey Lewandowski did not want to go to the Department of Justice to meet with Jeff Sessions, because he didn`t want his name in the visitor`s log. So if you`re not doing something that you believe to be a little fishy then why are you doing those two things?

MELBER: Yes, and this is something, John, that has come up before and that is important in the process for people to understand. I mean we did a whole report here where Corey Lewandowski came on this show, because we will interview people who are germane to the facts. He lied to us about the requests regarding interference.

And then later when it was in the Mueller report, we did a follow-up, so viewers could see, hey, he lied. I also called him. He declined to come back on the show and discuss it, because I extended that invite.

So as Maya says, there are ways that Mr. Lewandowski has shown a great deal of knowledge about the things that are important that go in the safe, that are lied about on TV, but then are told the truth to Mueller to not commit a crime. But then are hidden in the hearing today.

At what point, though, does that create enough fog that the Democrats are struggling to break out of it with a clear message to America? In other words, what was the takeaway for Americans about the President`s conduct today in your view?

FLANNERY: Well, what I found is that, when we have a hearing like this, which is fairly controversial and particularly my experience with the earlier impeachment hearing of President Clinton, there`s like two days before you know the reaction.

And my bet is the reaction will be that the synthesis of what they observe was Democrats asked questions and we`re interfered and Republicans talked about everything else. So the synthesis will be, this guy`s a big guy. I think that`s a likely outcome. And so there will be movement along those lines.

The other thing that I think we should keep in mind, which is about the criminal law, is that if you - Corey participate in a conspiracy, and you have reason to believe there are others in the conspiracy, you`re implicated in the whole conspiracy. So there was kind of electricity between Corey and Trump and everybody else who was doing this.

MELBER: Yes. Well that`s important what you`re saying, which John I want you to analyze this other moment - the what are you hiding moment. Because- -


MELBER: --what they didn`t do was unleash someone to say I worked on the campaign. I`ll tell you the whole story. Did we show up at dub meetings? Sure. But Bob Mueller didn`t charge us for that. Were we sloppy? Sure. But that`s not a crime. Let me tell you this story, because we are confident in what we did in our innocence. Instead, you have the evasions, and so that`s the flip side.

While I gave him some points, by which I mean what I think was effective from an adversarial legal context. One of the points that I thought was a shortcoming was the constant hiding obviously. Take a look.

FLANNERY: All right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think American people want to know and are frustrated today, what in fact are you hiding? The President is named as "Individual 1" in a criminal case by his former personal attorney. You`re asking us to believe that you never discussed with the President this fact in all of your thousands of hours of conversations?

LEWANDOWSKI: Again, Congressman, to the best of my knowledge I don`t recall ever having a conversation with candidate Trump about any interaction with Russia.


FLANNERY: Well, the best of his knowledge - when he was testifying at the beginning with Nadler, he didn`t even remember if he met with the President twice and had to be shown the page and paragraph in order to agree to that. We all see that, we all say he knows he was with the President.

And the other aspect is this is consciousness of guilt - what is going on. He tells us he makes no notes and then he makes this note that he`s supposed to - speech really - that he`s going to give to sessions. That`s a contradiction.

He puts it in the safe. Why? Because he doesn`t want to follow anybody else`s hands. But he takes it out and he gives it to someone else to finish his mission, and he doesn`t recant. He doesn`t withdraw from the conspiracy. In fact, you could argue that today in the House he continued to be a coconspirator and--

MELBER: Well, on that point - given your history of advising these kind of committees, take a look at this big windup from Nadler. Take a look.

FLANNERY: OK. Go ahead.


NADLER: Mr. Lewandowski when you refuse to answer these questions, you are obstructing the work of our Committee. You are also proving our point for the American people to see. The President is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction.

Now, I remind you that Article III of the impeachment against President Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress. You are instructed to answer the question.


MELBER: A lightning round, in a sentence or two from both of you. Your thoughts on that or in summation. John?

FLANNERY: Nailed it. That`s exactly what`s going on here. And he did it before the nation or however many people watched it. I think in the next two days we`ll see how it pays for you.


WILEY: I agree. And I would add that what`s happening right now with Barry Berke pointing out that Lewandowski was having conversations about asserting the Fifth Amendment, are things that I wonder if the American people are really hearing and if they`re going to do a good job of getting at what is really going on here, as John said.

MELBER: Well, we`re going to keep reporting on it, including making sense of some of those moments today. John and Maya, thanks to both of you. I`m going to fit in a literally a 30 second break.

When we come back, lawmakers planning to make amends with this hostile witness. The United States government going to court with a new suit against Snowden, Brian Williams is here on his interview. And our new "Mavericks" is with Annie Lennox. I`m going to show you exclusively some of that later in the show tonight when we`re back in 30 seconds.


ANNIE LENNOX, SINGER-SONGWRITER: It was powerful to wear a man`s - I mean, I didn`t always wear a man`s suit. I wore all kinds of costumes. If I broke rules they were very restrictive.



MELBER: We are back with this ongoing obstruction hearing that devolve the times into total chaos. Members of Congress clashing with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was under oath, this is a very big deal, dealing with questions over Donald Trump`s alleged crimes in office. At least according to Democrats` interpretation of the Mueller report.

A key moment came when Congressman David Cicilline had this flash point. He asked Chairman Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt. Take a look.


REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Did you tell the President you were going to deliver the message?

LEWANDOWSKI: I can`t comment on private conversation. Its President`s reserved executive privilege

CICILLINE: I`m sorry.

LEWANDOWSKI: I can read you the exact statement again if you`d like me to. I`ve said the White House`s has directed that I not disclose the substance of any discussion with the President--

CICILLINE: Mr. Lewandowski when you are in the Oval Office--

LEWANDOWSKI: --or his advisers to protect executive--

CICILLINE: Mr. Lewandowski you are claiming my time.

LEWANDOWSKI: --branch confidentiality.

CICILLINE: You`re not going to stonewall me in my questioning.

CICILLINE: Mr. Chairman, this witness continues to obstruct the work of this Committee by refusing to answer questions. He`s been ordered to do so by you. I ask that you would judge him in contempt in these proceedings.


MELBER: I`m joined now by former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance. We should note she also testified before the same Judiciary Committee this summer on a hearing called "Lessons from the Mueller Report on Presidential Obstruction". You were deemed a fitting witness by the government. We see you as a fitting expert. Thanks for being here on this big night, Joyce.


MELBER: Glad to have you. I have a lot of new stuff to get to, including something that just happened in the hearing. But first, right now your view of that piece of it. We went through it our first coverage at the top of this show about what we learned and didn`t from Lewandowski. This argument from some on the Committee that he passed the line at which it would be valid to hold him in contempt, your view.

VANCE: You know, he is - I have to say this is a legal term of art. One of the smarmiest witnesses I`ve ever seen on the stand. If this was a trial setting with a jury, the jury, I think, would - he would not be their favorite witness at this point. He`s doing very little, I think, to try to participate in good faith in the proceedings.

Whether it`s contempt is a very close call judgment that has to do with litigating this issue of the proper scope of executive privilege. And I the President has stretched this beyond any possible understanding of what it`s really meant to cover.

It`s not as Ron Klain said earlier today meant to be a President Bagman privilege. It`s really meant to cover legitimate executive branch decision- making. The President is abusing it, and I think it`s time to call his bluff.

MELBER: Really striking to hear your view on that. The hearing not even over and it is obviously unusual to have people say in a serious way, not just sort of shooting off, but people on the Committee and we`re hearing from experts saying, well, maybe what you do with someone who conducts himself this way is ultimately hold him in contempt for that.

I want to ask you about something that I referenced earlier which goes to the fact-finding, but also to the potential deliberate nature of how people covered up or mislead allegedly in this matter. Because we interviewed Corey Lewandowski and we carefully prepared and asked him questions about whether he received any of these requests or pressure to interfere. That was a big part of the obstruction piece.

First, for context, this is what he said in that interview on THE BEAT.


MELBER: --do you think it`s problematic that "The New York Times" has sources there for the story reporting that Donald Trump called you and asked you to help out Jeff Sessions in the middle of this probe?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I think this. You know, I think that we have seen time and time again mainstream media outlets getting stories wrong. I don`t ever remember the President ever asking me to get involved with Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way shape or form ever.



MELBER: Any shape way or form. Corey Lewandowski, we know that statement made originally here on MSNBC was a lie according to Corey Lewandowski, because in his interview with Mueller he said so and recounted these interactions regarding Sessions.

As we were coming on the air I was told this very issue came up in the hearing and we have a short excerpt from that where he was actually asked about that lie on MSNBC`s THE BEAT, take a look.



LEWANDOWSKI: I have no obligation to be honest to the media, just - because they are just as dishonest as anybody else.


MELBER: Your response.

VANCE: You know, this is incredible. We`ve shifted over now from the members questioning Lewandowski to the Committee staff. That was Barry Berke, an experienced criminal defense lawyer. And in the first few minutes of his questioning it became clear that this was an entirely new hearing.

Lewandowski was forced to admit that he`d been untruthful earlier in the day when he said he had always testified voluntarily when requested to Berke seeming to make the point that he had only testified truthfully to Mueller after he was given immunity.

And that that statement that he made on your show, Ari, was before he received immunity, while he was still trying to protect himself and the President. From what I could see of that questioning it`s only going to go downhill for Lewandowski.

MELBER: Well, you mentioned that. We`re looking at live pictures here of Mr. Berke still interviewing - questioning Mr. Lewandowski under oath. And we`ll continue to bring folks excerpts and highlights as the newsworthy parts come out, and that`s a fitting place for you to continue your analysis.

What is going on here? This is now that one of the first times we`ve seen these new rules applied for the obstruction probe. 6:30 p.m., some people may go home on the East Coast from work by then, this hearing going strong. And what does it mean to have that Committee counsel involved?

VANCE: I think what we`re hearing now with committee counsel is something completely different from what we hear with the members, and I mean them no respect. In many regards they did an excellent job. But Berke is a trained lawyer. He`s used to cutting through the smarminess and the failure to answer questions.

Lewandowski took a moment where he tried to plug his own book sort of making a joke of one of Berke`s questions and Berke was all business continuing to grill him on whether or not he had made a series of false statements regarding what in essence was the President`s effort to obstruct justice.

What this is all about is the President directing Lewandowski, who was not a government employee, to go to Sessions and tell Sessions essentially to end the Mueller investigation and to limit it only to future investigations. So now Berke is unpacking that systematically. It`ll be I think riveting testimony to watch from start to finish. He gets 30 minutes, unlike the members who only get 5 minutes apiece.

MELBER: Yes. And will absolutely stay on it. And really striking to see under oath someone admit to their lying and then explain the reason is their disrespect, as stated for the press. I would only add and I - full disclosure was a participant and part of this.

But I would only add that whatever ones view of the press or the interviewer, Mr. Lewandowski would seem to want to also have an obligation to his own supporters, to the public, to the citizenry of this country who he could tell the truth about what he did for Trump or not. He lied in public about it and then had to take it back, which is, as you say, just one of the things we`ve learned from the second round of questioning.

Joyce Vance, really appreciate your time tonight.

VANCE: Thanks Ari.

MELBER: Thank you. I`m going to fit in a quick break and up ahead another setback on Trump`s border wall coming from the Pentagon. Also the Trump Justice Department has a new suit against Edward Snowden/ NBC`s Brian Williams, who just interviewed Snowden, will join me live tonight.

And on the Senate floor Democrats now beginning a new push and a series of speeches, demanding action on guns. More on that. We`re keeping an eye, of course, on the Lewandowski hearing. All of that tonight on THE BEAT.


MELBER: Breaking news right now. You`re looking at live pictures from the floor of the United States Senate. Democrats now making a special push - this is all about demanding the President Trump and Mitch McConnell take action on gun reform. Democrats say they`re going to continue this effort that you`re seeing, beginning right now all night if they have to, in order to draw attention and put pressure on the Senate to do something.

President Trump has not come out and said would he support and Mitch McConnell has basically said he won`t do anything till he gets clearance from Trump, calling all of this theatrics.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Gun violence is an epidemic in America. It affects communities, large and small. I`ve met countless people who`ve lost loved ones or have been traumatized by gun violence. Millions of Americans now live in fear that when they send their kids or grandkids off to school, when they go to a movie theater, a concert, church, even when they sit on the front porch, they could be shot. This is unacceptable.


MELBER: We`ll keep an eye on that, busy Senate action all night. Still to come, the first look at our sit-down with legendary singer Annie Lennox - this is from the "Mavericks" series. We`re going to show you new her on politics, feminism and what she calls breaking boundaries and activism in music.

Also tonight, Donald Trump`s Justice Department with new pressure on Edward Snowden. Our friend and colleague Brian Williams, one of the few American journalists to ever interview Snowden is here next.



EDWARD SNOWDEN, FORMER NSA CONTRACTOR: They can read your e-mail, they can collect every document, they can look at your contact book, they can turn the location services on. They can see anything that is on that phone instantly and send it back home to the mothership.


MELBER: Edward Snowden, the man who famously leaked U.S. government secrets to show U.S. surveillance was far broader than the government claimed, now speaking out in a new interview with Brian Williams and in a book. Now Snowden has been debated as everything from a whistleblower to a leaker, to a traitor.

Tonight, he`s also a defendant in a brand-new U.S. government lawsuit over his new book. The feds say, among other things, the book violates his past agreements with the government. Now this new suit is separate from the larger criminal case against Snowden. He was indicted during the Obama administration. He remains in exile in Russia.

Tonight Brian Williams joins us with some extra special insights. Williams traveled on a reporting trip to Moscow in 2014 for Snowden`s first ever American television interview. Williams also interviewed him again in this special on the "11th Hour". Let`s look at both of these newsworthy interviews.


SNOWDEN: I`m not supported by the Russian government. I`m not taking money from the Russian government. I`m not a spy. It was never my intention to end up in Russia. If the United States government is so concerned about Russia, right, shouldn`t they be happy for me to leave?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Do you see yourself as a patriot?

SNOWDEN: I do. When my government wants me to help. I will be there. I`m a human being. I could make mistakes. I could make the wrong call. But the reality is, the situation determined that this needed to be told to the public.

Things have changed and I would do it again. When people say why don`t you go home and face the music? I say you have to understand that the music is not an open court and a fair trial.

WILLIAMS: Do you predict you will at some point live out your life and die in the United States?

SNOWDEN: I think I will return.


MELBER: Brian Williams is here, NBC friend and colleague, first time on THE BEAT. Great to have you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for having me. It`s great to be here.

MELBER: What do you learn from the interview and is he the same guy?

WILLIAMS: First of all - and what that was the first time I had seen that specific matchup. It`s been a long five years. And yesterday I just thought I`d take a flier and say, as part of a punishment package, what if we gave you a laptop and put you to work, hardening our elections against your current hosts, the Russians, which he agreed to.

He is older, wiser, may be cagey on some fronts. All the security professionals we have talked to say don`t kid yourselves. The Russians know when he`s brushing his teeth, when he`s showering. They know what he`s eating, what he`s doing, who he`s talking to. There`s no way to beat them at this game.

MELBER: Well, you mentioned that and that goes to some of his technological fortitude, which you discussed, let`s look at that.



SNOWDEN: I actually open it up before I use it. I perform a kind of surgery on it to physically desolder or sort of melt the metal connections that hold the microphone on the phone, and I physically take this off. I remove the camera for the phone and then I close it back up I seal it up.

And then if I need to make a phone call I will attach an external microphone on, and this is just so - if the phone is sitting there and I`m not making a call, it cannot hear me.


MELBER: You`re not really paranoid if they`re after you?

WILLIAMS: Wow. I, for one, have never opened a phone and desoldered either the microphone or the camera. I made the point in the interview that most of us have freely given up some civil liberties and freedoms, because if you`re innocent, CCTV cameras in all our major cities can be your friend.

If you`re innocent, perhaps, they can catch a crime being committed against you. Though, I get the point that we have given up freedom steadily, especially since 9/11.

MELBER: He also made the case in this interview to you, he makes it in his book, that he had impact. Because while there`s a significant debate over what he did and the consequences for it, it is true that after his revelations Congress stepped up and did something that we all know they almost never do, which is, out of the blue, pass a new law to curtail government power - the USA Freedom Act.

What did you think about that argument in your interview and the book, that he`s saying, hey, even Congress reacted to me?

WILLIAMS: He, I guess, is justifiably proud of that. You could argue that the impact it had is greater than the sheer number of people who read what he did and what he released. This was the start of our drowning era in data and media and very few people went back and said, OK, what is this bulk data program? And read the particulars of it.

It`s a bad look for him right now. It`s - of all the places to live on this planet, what a bad look to live where he`s living, and yet he is not ready to undergo the punishment phase should he step on U.S. soil again.

MELBER: Well, you make such an important point, because this was back then pre-Assange in public`s understanding of how Russia was weaponizing information. We`re talking tonight, at a time, where I`m sure in your broadcast you may touch on this, the Senate is staying open late tonight to deal with guns.

You have been covering these stories for so long in really America`s living room. We wanted to ask you about that, and particularly because you`ve covered so many heartbreaking mass shootings. So let`s take a look at that. I want to ask you about on the other side.



WILLIAMS: Today was the largest single mass shooting in United States history that it in a school.

Good evening from the campus of Virginia Tech. This is easily the saddest place in our nation tonight.

-- killed 20 small children and several adults.

Shots started - were fired inside a club called Pulse.

Florida mourns and Washington fails to act.

The staggering cruelty and the staggering toll of the dead and wounded in Las Vegas--


MELBER: What do you take from it? And as an as an American anchor going out over and over, how do you keep yourself together when you`re dealing with so much tragedy, so many parents burying their children.

WILLIAMS: We`ve said this on the air. You`re fighting the sameness of coverage. Even though, obviously, no two losses or venues or tragedies are alike. When you fly into these places - and often, because we have resources, we are on a plane in minutes.

I landed in Aurora, Colorado, the scene there was still very fresh - Virginia Tech, up in Connecticut at Sandy Hook. These are, for that moment in time, the saddest places in our country.

And the notion of a life being able to change like that, every person you meet, every story they tell, I was just talking to her. I just sent him or her off to school. There`s nothing like it. There`s no corollary anywhere in the world. There`s no comparison anywhere in the world. This is purely ours.

MELBER: Yes, and it`s striking when you think this is just something that is - and people can debate it and figure it out, but it is how we live now and it is just a drumbeat.

WILLIAMS: It is how we live now. Let`s see what the U.S. Senate does, if anything. I can`t believe you didn`t ask me what my favorite Annie Lennox song is.

MELBER: Well, I always like to turn to something positive. What do you have here?

WILLIAMS: There it is, "Why".

MELBER: "Why", Annie Lennox. You are an Annie Lennox fan.

WILLIAMS: Achingly beautiful song. Yes, she`s a terrific talent.

MELBER: Well, I appreciate your interest in everything. You do pay attention.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for having me.

MELBER: Brian, great to have you here on THE BEAT. We`ll be watching you tonight at the "11th Hour".

WILLIAMS: Longtime viewer, first-time call.

MELBER: Every night. 11 p.m. Eastern. And as Brian Williams just told you, Annie Lennox is opening up about music and feminism. We`re going to air this interview for the very first time up next on THE BEAT.


MELBER: The newest member of Congress right now is Republican Dan Bishop. He narrowly won that special election in North Carolina. And Bishop may not be a household name. But he did make himself sort of Right-Wing famous by writing his state`s transgender bathroom law, which of course, sparked those boycotts and blowback for the state. But it also propelled Bishop`s promotion.

A sign of how today`s pitch political battles over equality and gender identity continue to basically stir up all kinds of issues. And they also echo, we should note, a much older culture war.

Consider how a century ago in the U.S. women wearing what was considered men`s clothing faced formal police harassment. Magistrate then telling a woman she was a quote "Moral Pervert". No girl would dress in men`s clothing unless she`s twisted in her moral viewpoint.

Or fast-forward to the controversy in 1983 when Scottish singer Annie Lennox wore men`s clothing while touring with you Eurythmics. Lennox appending expectations and drawing questions about what her clothes meant about her being a woman or about her own sexual orientation.

Dressing and performing to push boundaries was obviously even more rebellious in earlier eras. It`s another reminder of how Annie Lennox`s work continues to be so politically relevant now, which we discussed in this new interview.

I want to play for you an excerpt airing right now for the first time on THE BEAT.


MELBER: When you were coming up in Eurythmics, the reaction around the world was, "Wow, how can she dress like that or does that mean she`s gay or what does that say about gender?" And you said at the time, you weren`t trying to be a gender bender. So what were you trying?

LENNOX: I wanted to be a powerful performer and I wanted to resonate with people in a certain way. And I definitely - by the time Dave and I formed Eurythmics, I definitely had the sense of who I was and what I wanted to do. And it was in partnership with Dave, who`s a man, and the sense of being equals - we`re almost like twins on the stage. Like, we were each other`s muse, if you like.

It was powerful to wear a man`s - I mean, I didn`t almost man`s suit. I wore all kinds of costumes. I mean, you know, that was one way to perform that made people think and had a very, very strong, powerful image if you like.


MELBER: Those powerful images and those boundaries, they kept giving away Lennox`s unique sound, took her around the whole world. You may remember, she`s told over 80 million records with hits like "Sweet Dreams" and "Here Comes The Rain Again" and kept pushing.

She folded HIV and AIDS activism into her work at a time when politicians were often ducking the issue. Lennox took to wearing her message.


MELBER: In this photo, it`s a shirt she were outside Nelson Mandela`s prison cell in 2003. Or there was the fundraising concert for AIDS research in South Africa. She has another shirt, which she performed in, and you see here. It says "HIV POSITIVE" and that is now among her artifacts.

In a new art exhibit about her work at the Mass MoCA Museum. It`s called "Now I let You Go". And Lennox just gave us a personal behind-the-scenes look as part of this new interview.


MELBER: Many people remember you wearing this "HIV POSITIVE" shirt.

LENNOX: I hope people remember me and I hope that that message did spread. As an advocate for HIV and AIDS I wore that t-shirt or t-shirts like that with the messaging on the front and at the back it would say "Fighting HIV and AIDS".

We all have things, baggage. We`ve all got experiences. We`ve got all got memories. A lot of them we need to let go of as well, and we go through those phases. I`m in this kind of older phase of my life where I`m reflecting a lot back. A lot of things are memory for me. So I kind of recreated them in this dreamscape which is "Now I Let You Go."


MELBER: And while Lennox is leaving many objects behind, she continues to do work and activism on global poverty and feminism.


LENNOX: I`m a mother. So I think it`s the fact that I am a woman and I`m mother and have been a young girl, and I identify with women everywhere. For me my interpretation of feminism goes right around the globe. Because beyond the unseen boundaries of our Western bubble lie the biggest challenges for girls and women around the globe.

That there - those are the places where we need feminism, female empowerment more than anywhere else. There is just such a huge gap that needs to be addressed. We need to understand from feminism on a global basis.

I come from a working-class background in Scotland. I thought I understood what poverty was. There was poverty around. When I went to visit these countries, when I saw what was happening. You see children in rags, you see children that cannot go to school, you see children that cannot eat and that`s a population level because of poverty.

You don`t - you realize that "oh, my god, I didn`t know what poverty meant." When you understand the scale it, it is very, very life changing.


MELBER: And so it was life changing experience as Lennox told us later to start the nonprofit, "The Circle" which advocates for marginalized women and girls around the globe. The push living wages for government - I should say garment workers in India. They fight human trafficking. And they are trying to support victims of violence in South Africa.

So Lennox talks to us about that work, about politics, about her evolution from being a self-described dark soul to what you just see here, a very, very bright person. It was a thrill to situation down with her and I`d love for you to check out more of the conversation.

It`s part of our newest installment of this digital series, "Mavericks with Ari Melber". You can see the entire interview at That`s Right now along with the rest of the series.


MELBER: Two more stories for you tonight. The Pentagon canceling work on three separate parts of Donald Trump`s border wall. That money was supposed to come from an anti-drug fund. But it turns out, wasn`t enough to cover the actual cost of these projects.

NBC News has obtained an Air Force report that says, using military money for the wall would also undercut national security. The Air Force saying that this "Trump plan could drain funds from 51 military projects", including things like a program that would increase U.S. military presence in Europe to deter - guess what, Russian aggression. All of that, a far cry from Donald Trump`s now discredited promise that you wouldn`t pay for the wall, the military wouldn`t pay for the wall, because Mexico would.

And we also have a final note tonight if you`re keeping up with the news. In the Corey Lewandowski hearing, which just wrapped up during our hour, moments ago, there was an interesting point when Democrats were trying to show that Lewandowski knew what he was doing was wrong, because he lied about it. And they ended up playing excerpts of interviews he`s done making misleading statements, including one from THE BEAT. Here`s that interview.


MELBER: Do you think it`s problematic that the New York Times has sources there for this story reporting that Donald Trump called you and asked you to help out Jeff Sessions in the middle of this probe?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well I think this. I think that we have seen time and time again mainstream media outlets getting stories wrong. I don`t ever remember the President ever asking me to get involved with Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way shape or form ever--

MELBER: OK. So, so--


MELBER: That was a categorical denial. And as we`ve previously reported, based on the information we have, it was a categorical lie. Lewandowski, ultimately, decided that while he had lied in public, and that may have been embarrassing to some degree, he would tell Mueller the opposite of what you just heard. He would tell him the truth.

In today`s hearing, which is of course a huge deal, it`s the obstruction hearing to deal with the President`s campaign manager, Lewandowski was asked about that. They played part of that interview clip and then he was confronted. Take a look at his short answer.


BERKE: That was not true was it?

LEWANDOWSKI: I have no obligation to be honest to the media, just - because they are just as dishonest as anybody else.


MELBER: That is what it sounds like when someone admits under oath that they were lying. What does everyone want to do about it? Well, that`s up to you.

That does it for THE BEAT. Thanks for watching. We`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.