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Trump aide caught lying on The Beat. TRANSCRIPT: 9/23/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Richard Painter, Walter Shaub, Brittney Cooper, Neal Katyal, JohnFlannery, David Rothkopf

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m a big believer in clean air and clean water and all countries should get together and do that, and they should do it for themselves. Very, very important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: You know what, that sounds like a great idea. It also sounds a lot like the Paris Climate Agreement, maybe - maybe we should start by sticking to that.

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

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you so much, great to have you back.

TUR: Thank you.

MELBER: Donald Trump has been admitting to attempted collusion. Secretly demanding a foreign government undercut his domestic opponent. That is our lead story tonight.

I also want to tell you, later Neal Katyal will be here explaining his new argument that this actually builds on the formal case for impeachment.

Later, Corey Lewandowski lying again, and I have a new fact check on that in the hour.

But we begin tonight right now with new fallout to an international scandal, consuming the Trump White House. Tonight Washington is reeling over a story unlike anything that we have actually seen in modern political history, and I realize that`s saying something.

But the President is admitting, open now to begin the week, that he sought election help from a foreign government, pressing Ukraine to go after a potential rival Joe Biden. Now, we`re tracking several responses right now.

Congress dialing up the pressure with new calls for impeachment, including from some unlikely places, and some Republican rivals you see right here against Donald Trump going on "Morning Joe" together to argue this time today is different.

And in some ways it is clearly different. The President admitted a key and incriminating part of this story that he was pressing Ukraine and may continue to do so to investigate Joe Biden`s family, which stokes questions about what else the President stands accused of and what else is this White House hiding.

Now before we go any further into the details tonight, and we have new details for you. I want to be clear about the stakes. We`re talking about the abuse of government power to shape or steal an election, which means we are talking about allegations of one of the gravest types of threats to democracy.

Now our founders focused on that very risk and tried to erect long term systems to prevent it from ever working. And I don`t have to tell you, lesser democracies in the United States have slid away from democracy and elections through the abuse of government power to hold power.

Now put Donald Trump to this side, because part of what I`m talking about is much broader than one person. Consider just the basic elements that have emerged here. Imagine Barack Obama pressing for a foreign probe of Mitt Romney in 2011 to help Obama hold power or bush against Kerry in 2003.

If that is hard for people even across the spectrum to even imagine tonight, maybe the reason it`s hard to imagine because it`s not normal. It is not within the push and pull of even ugly bare-knuckled modern politics, and that any other President would probably, if that alone was with defined a moment in their presidency, face pretty bipartisan immediate outrage over it.

So keep that in mind as you listen to President Trump talking about his view of what he did, this new scandal engulfing his presidency and his phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption - all of the corruption taking place. Was largely the fact that we don`t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the - a corruption already in the Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: This is not a drill. This is not normal. And if it feels like it has been partly normalized, it may be because the alleged bad acts are occurring in the open. Consider the comparison of the requests Donald Trump initially made, which at the time, was head spinning to the point that people didn`t know what to make of it.

Asking, during the middle of the campaign for a foreign adversary Russia to go after his then opponent, Hillary Clinton, her e-mails. Now he`s the President and he`s asking a foreign leader with the powers of the presidency to help go after another famous major rival with the weight of this government behind him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

Conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption - all of the corruption taking place. Was largely the fact that we don`t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the - a corruption already in the Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Two things jump out there and I want you to really think about as this unfolds. One, the President admitting to a key part of this that you would expect anyone to want to deny, because it sounds so bad. And two, in the Russia context, Trump was a candidate, so he had to give that directive order in public if he was going to get anywhere with it.

Now he`s the President, so you don`t hear the same direct language demanding Ukraine do it, because at least according to what are now accounts in multiple publications, that part did in private, urging them eight times to go after his rival.

And the larger context is, of course, that Donald Trump publicly said he`s welcoming offers of foreign dirt for 2020, told George Stephanopoulos that. He`s also confiscated his own government interpreter`s notes to hide details of conversations, not with every leader as far as we know, but with Putin.

And so we`re in the territory of raising the question what else is Donald Trump asking foreign leaders to secretly do to keep his grip on political power?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Did the President threaten to cut off aid to the Ukraine?

RUDY GIULIANI: , PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: No. No, that was a full story.

BARTIROMO: 100 percent?

GIULIANI: Well, I can`t tell you all of its 100 percent.

BARTIROMO: Because we know--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: All of this is reverberating, as I say, it`s a big story tonight in Washington with new pressure on Democrats over what are you going to do about this if everything up to now wasn`t bad enough according to the pressure they`re seeing.

And I`m going to walk you through some of it. Speaker Pelosi saying the administration must turn over the whistleblower complaint that sparked this controversy. She didn`t use impeachment her new statement. But she says if the Trump administration keeps hiding it, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness, which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.

Well, what does that mean? Others are pushing and saying impeachment must be put on the table. Freshman Congressman Dean Phillips from Minnesota comes out today. That makes the number now 135 House Democrats calling for impeachment probe. Former Virginia Governor and DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe says, the Democrats now, because of this, he tells "The New York Times" today quote "have to take a second look and impeachment."

And another centrist Democrat James Carville in the same story is quoted saying "he had previously opposed impeachment." But thinks now with all this together, it`s time for Democrats to move quick and clean on it.

r take someone who has been surging in the Democratic field, Elizabeth Warren saying, Congress will become complicit in Donald Trump`s actions if they don`t impeach him. That is as direct a shot across the bow as you get to Speaker Pelosi.

And Donald Trump, talking to the Ukrainian President one day after Mueller`s historic testimony to Congress, that may be a hint of something that Donald Trump`s potential or apparent take away from the ending of that two-year probe was not foreign interference is something to avoid, but maybe it`s something he just needs to get better at pursuing.

I want to begin tonight with two experts on government ethics Richard Painter, who was Chief White House Ethics Lawyer in the Bush administration; Walter Shaub who actually served inside as a - a bit of Ombudsman of sorts in the Trump administration, Director of something called the Office of Government Ethics, a nonpartisan position. He stepped down in July 2017 and now is Senior Advisor at CREW; and Rutgers Professor, Brittney Cooper also with us.

Richard Painter what is your view of these reports of Donald Trump`s attempted collusion with Ukraine to go after Biden? If this alone were the only thing on the table, would you view it as an abuse of power, as potentially impeachable on its own?

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, first, there`s actually no evidence that Vice President Biden and his son have contributed to the corruption in the Ukraine. What the President said was just false.

Second, this is an impeachable offense. Turning the powers of a far government against a candidate in the United States who is a political rival of Donald Trump, this in and of itself is impeachable. This President has committed multiple high crimes and misdemeanors. And what is happening when the House refuses to impeach him is that he continues to do more and more of it and that is what is happening.

He is emboldened to continue to violate the Constitution, whether it`s the unconstitutional emoluments, whether it`s using foreign governments against his political opponents, ignoring House subpoenas, showing the middle finger to the United States Congress, the abuses at the border, the list goes on and on and on. And if Speaker Pelosi doesn`t have the courage to impeach him, he`s going to keep on doing it.

And the other thing he`s going to do is stand up in the election in 2020, look at his opponent and say, look, I didn`t do anything wrong. It`s not illegal. If it were illegal, a democratically controlled House of Representatives would have impeached me. He is getting a pass from this Congress.

It`s critically important that the House, not only start impeachment investigations formally, but that they vote out articles of impeachment. All the evidence is already there. We don`t need more to impeach this President and if they don`t do it, I think the Democrats are going to lose in 2020 and probably deserve to lose.

MELBER: Wow. That`s fierce. Walter, Donald Trump`s appointees have been out acting like this is just another normal day on the Sunday shows, including his Secretary of State, who`s obviously sort of caught in the middle of all of this. Take a look.

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MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: If there was election interference that took place by the Vice President, I think the American people deserve to know.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR If, for instance, President Obama had pressured a foreign leader Putin or the President of Ukraine, anyone, said I want you to look into Donald Trump Jr. or I want you to look into Eric Trump, international businessman both of them, would you not find that inappropriate?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Again, I`m not going to speculate on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Walter?

WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: Yes, I mean, the words coming out of their mouths are worthless. These are partisan actors who are just trying to make noise to distract. The bottom line is, this is to my mind, the defining moment for what`s going to become of our country. And my question is where`s the Senate?

Are the Republican Senators truly willing to say that from now on it`s fine for any President to use his high office or her high office to solicit an attack on our elections? And that it`s not even appropriate to investigate that or demand a transcript and a whistleblower complaint that is legally required to be turned over and it`s being withheld.

So I think we`re at the moment of crisis and if they don`t act, and sadly I`m not sure they will, we`re looking at a future where anything goes for Presidential abuses of power.

MELBER: And that`s starkly put. And I know you, as I mentioned, worked within this administration, dealing with their response to standard ethics requirements. Brittney Cooper here in New York, I want to broaden out with you as we think about how it is that something like this is even moving forward in - according to some in a semi normalized way, because we`re not dealing with a traditional occupant of the White House.

I say that not as a political or ideological observation, but with the total disregard for how the government works. And so in a normal situation, a lot of other things are we working better to make this feel like the 10 car alarm fire that many experts say it is. But those things have been whittled away.

I wrote down just us a couple examples to discuss with you. One is the number of vacancies and acting officials reduces the power of the experts, the so-called adults, to even have leverage within their given agency to last a month, but to push back.

The FEC, which explicitly deals with this kind of potential election interference--

BRITTNEY COOPER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Yes.

MELBER: --doesn`t have enough officials for a quorum, because the Trump administration refused to fill those spots.

COOPER: Yes.

MELBER: Press conferences, which whatever one thinks of the factual problems at the White House, if there were press conference today, I think everyone in that room would be battering the press secretary in a way we would, at least, test what is their best responses. We don`t have that. Why?

That`s the last piece I want to land with you on and play them, basically some people gloating about this on Fox News about why they don`t even meet with the press for these briefings anymore. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that it`s so important that the spokesperson for the President can adequately speak to his policies and get his message out there. And I think the President saw that that`s not what was happening. It had become, again, theater and they weren`t being good to his people. And he doesn`t like that. He`s very loyal to his people. And he put us up to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The taxpayer-funded White House communication staff they`re saying we don`t do those public meetings at the press, because the press wasn`t being good to Trump.

COOPER: Sure.

MELBER: How much of that hollowing out creates the context for something like this week to happen and not feel as big as it might otherwise?

COOPER: Sure. Look, there are a few things going on. I think that we need to call this President what he is. He`s a fascist, he`s an autocrat, he`s a dictator. He has no respect for the rule of law. This is all about Trump maintaining power. But part of the way he does is exactly what he did today.

He just comes out and admits his crimes. He admitted his intention to do this this way in that interview with George Stephanopoulos. But because there is no pushback against him in any formal sense, because Democrats have said, we`re afraid that we will lose in 2020, he is being normalized as a guy who - essentially a lot of his base is saying, well, if it were really that bad he wouldn`t admit to it.

But this is also a man who said he could shoot someone in the middle of Times Square and nobody would do anything then. So he`s literally a habitual line stepper. He`s just pushing and pushing and pushing to see what he can get away with.

And also, I mean, I think we should talk about the logic of a man who has the American public obsessed with him building basically a big fence around the barnyard, while he`s inviting the fox into the henhouse.

Like, what kind of logic is that that you would invite a foreign power to intervene in and ruin the integrity of the U.S. elections, but have the American people feeling like the problem is that all of these other foreign actors want to come in and take America way. It`s completely insane.

MELBER: Right. To your point on just the rhetoric, it`s America first unless you need someone to do dirty work, in which case it`s Ukraine first.

COOPER: Or any other country that`s willing to do his bidding, which says that this is not a President who was ideologically driven necessarily. He is driven by one thing and that`s the protection of Donald Trump.

MELBER: Yes. Richards since came on the air in the last few moments, I just received breaking news out of Washington and the House, while we`re talking about tracking the impeachment caucus. There is a new member, Congresswoman Craig who says that she is now, because of the joining the ranks. That raises the number from when we started on the air at 135 to now 136.

I`m reading from - in addition to her tweet there her prepared statement. She says basically quote "The current investigations of the corruption must continue and when there`s an abuse of power of this magnitude," Richard she says, quote "it`s our responsibility to stand up for what`s right. That`s why I`m calling to open impeachment proceedings immediately."

What does it tell you Richard that it was this incident that put that person over the edge, one more Congress person joining the caucus there.

PAINTER: That`s Angie Craig, that`s my Congresswoman. I have talked to her about this repeatedly over the past few months and I`m glad to say right now that I will strongly support her reelection in the 2nd Congressional District of Minnesota. Angie Craig has made the right decision, as has apparently Dean Phillips from the 3rd Congressional District in Minnesota. I congratulate Congresswoman Craig.

When the impeachment occurs it will go to the Senate and yes the Senate may decide to acquit Donald Trump that will not strengthen Donald Trump. That impeachment acquittal by Mitch McConnell and his cronies in the Senate will be no better than it acquittal in 1965 of a Klansman by an all-white jury in Mississippi.

Everybody knows what`s going to happen in this Senate. That is no justification for refusing to impeach. It is time for Speaker Pelosi to demand an impeachment articles be voted out of the House and start the trial in the Senate now.

MELBER: Well - let me take a bit let me take Richard, who as you remind us is in Minnesotan, let me take this to Walter on the larger question. Richard making the argument that Democrats have - at least Pelosi in the leadership have framed this strong way in saying, well, if you impeach and nothing happens in the senator has not removed than that does that make sense?

And he`s flipping it and saying, if you don`t impeach then then the House leaders, starting with Speaker Pelosi would appear complicit. That`s the language we`re seeing now from Senator Warren as well, whereas if you do, it`s McConnell and others that appear complicit.

With that in mind, I want to play Joe Biden who`s obviously in the thicket of this, but who is not exactly with Richard and you I think on the constitutional remedies. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is violating every basic norm of a President. You should be asking him the questions why is he on the phone with a foreign leader, trying to intimidate a foreign leader, if that`s what happened. Trump`s doing this, because he knows I`ll beat him like a drum, and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Walter can he beat anyone like a drum if there is enough interference to call in to question the propriety of the election and does that mean that - in your view Joe Biden is wrong to not go further?

SHAUB: Yes, I don`t know. I don`t tend to think in political terms and those are the words of the candidate. And even with regard to strategy for the impeachment, that`s not how I`m wired to think. I`m focused more on the fact that we`re facing a crisis moment in America where a President of the United States has solicited an attack on our election.

MELBER: Yes.

SHAUB: And we get bogged down sometimes in either thinking of it from the political perspective or from a criminal law perspective where we are looking at technical elements of a crime.

I think the basic question for the American people and for every member of Congress on both sides of the aisle is can we tolerate a President of the United States using his high office to ask a foreign country to attack our election, because an election is the only thing that makes us a republic.

COOPER: Right.

MELBER: It`s really well said. I`m out of time. Quickly, Brittney, please. The thing here is Pelosi has to do something about this. If she doesn`t, she could be accused of following the same logic of Donald Trump, which is, that in order to hold on to political power, I will sublimate the rule of law.

MELBER: Yes, and that`s really strong coming from you. I mean, we`ve heard a lot of views tonight, but I think we`re landing with several of the panelists talking about the higher and really not part of some questions of how do you resolve this, regardless of the whatever the short-term politics may be for whichever party.

Richard Painter, and Walter Shaub, and Brittney Cooper, I feel smarter and concerned - more concerned having listened to each of you at the top of our show. Thank you.

Coming up, Neal Katyal all is here on THE BEAT" talking about the evidence for Donald Trump`s wrongdoing and what to do about it. Also the legal peril that could face some of Trump`s aides now that he has put them and everyone on notice about what his intentions are, and breaking some of the silence from Republicans in Congress.

All that plus, I have a new fact check tonight on the one and only Corey Lewandowski. I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT" on MSNBC.

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MELBER: President Trump admitting, asking the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden. There`s new pressure to impeach Donald Trump given all of this. Obama`s former top DOJ official Neal Katyal is here live and he`s making waves with this new piece on how to address Trump`s actions.

Arguing, if this whistleblower complaint involves Trump withholding military aid from Ukraine, in order to get them to investigate Biden it would be quote "the ultimate impeachable act" and noting Democrats waiting are effectively emboldening Trump, something we were just discussing at the top of the hour with some of our experts.

Katyal is not alone here either in arguing that we are at an inflection point. One of the most discussed articles across the whole internet today is this one. A "New York Times" piece detailing 40 constitutional fronts by Trump, from urging a foreign country to intervene back in 2016 to divulging classified Intel of the foreign officials, to now inviting corruption by pushing foreign leaders to stay at his hotels. Two, Donald Trump, basically being according to this "Times" piece quote "a threat to virtually everything the U.S. should stand for."

And now to our "Opening Arguments" series with former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, good evening to you sir.

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Good evening.

MELBER: You make this case, why?

KATYAL: Well, I think, what Donald Trump has done here and you know the facts are still coming out. But if they`re - the ones that were reading about in the newspaper, it`s about as grave an offense as you can imagine.

I mean, even Richard Nixon, when he ordered the Watergate break-in, didn`t have the imagination to outsource it to a foreign government or a foreign intelligence service. Here Donald Trump is doing exactly that.

And you know these are funds that were appropriated by Congress - $250 million that was supposed to go to Ukraine, and according to these allegations the President, held that up not because of some foreign policy interest of the United States, but because of his personal interest, because he--

MELBER: I`ve been dying to--

KATYAL: --he wanted the Ukrainians to go after his political opponent.

MELBER: And I`ve been dying to ask you about this. Is there, in your view, at a constitutional level, we`re talking about abuse of power. Is there major distinction between the President misusing millions of dollars or misusing physical armaments or weaponry?

I mean, at this point there is something that still sounds sort of vague about the slush funds whereas if Donald Trump had had basically moved you know weapons around one way or the other to get this pay back to Biden it might feel bigger, but is it just as bad?

KATYAL: It`s just as bad. I mean, you know, Ari, one of the kind of core powers the President has is the execution of the United States as foreign policy and here the Congress of the United States decided on this aid package to Ukraine, which after all is of course fighting Russia. And instead what the President has done is held that up because of his personal gain.

And this isn`t just like some whistleblower that they call from the Deep State or something. I mean, this is Trump`s own Inspector General--

MELBER: Yes.

KATYAL: Who had to find that this was urgent and under the law that there is a quote "substantial and specific danger" to the public safety. And so this is you know very, very grave stuff.

MELBER: Yes, you mentioned Watergate--

KATYAL: And this occurs while--

MELBER: I want to just get this in while I have you. Take a listen to Carl Bernstein who knows a thing or two about Watergate, thinking along the same lines as you. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL BERNSTEIN, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I keep getting asked are there echoes of Watergate in this. And there are in the following ways. Watergate was very much an attempt by Richard Nixon to undermine the Democratic electoral process--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Your view on that Neal?

KATYAL: Yes, exactly. So I think kind of the core idea about impeachment is when a President says - that - when a President puts his personal interest over the public`s and breaks that fiduciary trust.

The difference here is that this involves a foreign actor. So it`s not just law breaking or something like that, it`s going and trying to use a foreign government to do your political bidding.

And the reason that`s bad is, obviously, it`s on its face bad. But also nobody`s made this point yet, Ari, but think about the blackmail potential. The President is committing this grave offense with the Ukrainians and just putting my old national security hat on, I can`t imagine something more dangerous, because now the Ukrainians know the President has done something terribly wrong and can hold that over him.

And so that`s one of many reasons why I think Congress is going to have to investigate right away. That transcript of the call has to come out, but not just the call, all the facts around the whistleblower complaint. And Congress should not rest until every stone is unturned on this, because this is as serious as it gets.

This is a President who is outsourcing and putting nation`s interest, subordinating them to his own personal campaign ones and sending Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, out there. Even if you think Biden did something wrong, the Justice Department has all sorts of protocols for dealing with that. You send the prosecutors out there. You don`t send the President`s private attorney out there.

MELBER: Well--

KATYAL: This thing stinks to high heaven and I think - yes, go ahead.

MELBER: Yes, well, as you put it. If you think somebody did something wrong, you wouldn`t ask - act the way Donald Trump does, which is to go do a dirty ops foreign operation and try to extort or bully your way into it.

If there was actually there there, you wouldn`t need to go to those links, among other things, to say nothing of, as you`ve laid out, why it could be an abuse of power, really fascinating and a stark warning. Neal Katyal thank you.

KATYAL: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate you sir. And I want to remind everyone, you can always go to MSNBC.com/opening arguments to see this and other segments of Neal Katyal, the legal insight, so relevant these days.

We`re going to fit in a very short break. Speaker Pelosi arguing Trump broke the law, and what do you do about it? We`re back in 30 seconds.

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MELBER: If you`ve been following this story or our coverage tonight you know that a lot of it builds up to what does Congress and the Democratic House do, now that the President has admitted to trying to get a foreign power to dig up dirt on a rival. Well there`s more than one option, I want to dig into this with you right now.

The first is what we`ve been covering tonight, including a new member of Congress jumping on board impeachment. Speaker Pelosi has largely been against that. The Ukraine revelations have shifted some views among Democrats. You can see here one describing a quote "seismic change in the mood." But that`s not the only option in this situation.

There is another, you could do what Congress is in the past have done for a range of pressing issues. You establish it urgently, perhaps immediately, a select investigative committee with subpoena power to deal with just this issue and the threat to 2020.

Now the President`s run the gamut. There are things like Watergate and 9/11 that got their own committees to much more political operations like the famous Benghazi committees, indeed there was more than one.

A third option is something that, obviously is sitting here staring everyone in the face, it is the Bob Mueller precedent. It is that you appoint a new special counsel to deal explicitly with Donald Trump, publicly admitting he`s seeking for an interference, potential collusion in 2020.

And by the way, for anyone who says, "Well, he`s not going to do that." Remember, it was a Trump appointee who succumbed to the pressure and appointed Mueller. His name was Rod Rosenstein. Whether Mr. Barr or if he should be recused someone else, ultimately has to deal with that, is and should be in our system a substantive decision, not a political one.

There`s a fourth option. There are ways that Congress can use its powers to penalize and pressure and basically deter anyone helping Donald Trump do what, if he`s President he might otherwise get away with.

And none of these options are obviously mutually exclusive. If you think about what is available within our system of government, constitutionally illegally. Well the Congress could pursue most of these and one of the executive branch pursues as special counsel often is something that gets decided in the interplay of pressure with the public and the Congress.

I want to bring it in former federal prosecutor John Flannery to walk through some of these different doors. Good to see you sir.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Good to be here.

MELBER: I wanted to bring you into this part, because if folks have been watching THE BEAT" tonight we`ve gone through our level best on the facts and on some of the immediate legal issues, which is, is it a constitutional abuse of power?

Now we widen across those multiple options. What do you see as important and is Trump winning the cynicism war if the democrats and other concerned individuals aren`t even talking about a special counsel when it would seem this cries out for one.

FLANNERY: I think you`re absolutely right. My dad was a carpenter, electrician and a plumber. And he always said that a bad workman always blames his tools. We got a bunch of people in the Congress that aren`t using the tools available. You enumerated them, each of them have been used and can be used with effect. But it requires intent, it requires commitment, it requires a unified action to go after a President.

The - there was a candidate in New York once running against the City Council and he said that he was running against them, he says, "but they weren`t a rubber stamp, because even a rubber stamp leaves an impression." And this Congress is impression is passivity, is running away, is cowardice it`s not acting.

MELBER: When you say this Congress, are you speaking about Speaker Pelosi?

FLANNERY: I`m talking about Pelosi, yes, absolutely. And these formulas that you have are absolutely correct. I mean, the inherent powers that the Judiciary Committee has when one member says hold that person in contempt and Nadler does not and he should have. When we have subpoena powers that we could go into court and ask for expedited schedules, we don`t.

We could have had a Select Committee, sure it takes time, but we haven`t done that.

MELBER: And let`s dig into that. On the Select Committee front it is harder for current officials, up and down the bureaucracy, to resist congressional subpoenas than former officials. And administrative officials who`ve never walked into the White House, say, you get the number three or the number four at state to talk about what other countries are being asked to help subvert our election.

There is no White House privilege for people that are down that that row. You have advised, I remind our viewers of this, that you have advised as counsel multiple congressional committees, so you know your way around this stuff. Is it in your view a lack of will or that there`s not the expertise to figure out, yes, this is something worth doing.

FLANNERY: Well, I said that as the Congress - as the Democratic caucus has gone toward impeachment, one form or other, and Pelosi has resisted them wanting to leak things like I`m still against impeachment, she`s created a barrier.

And we have talked like, "Oh, we`re going to look into something more." If you punch somebody in the face we`d be investigating whether they`ve been punched in the face. It`s it so ridiculous--

MELBER: And you know what else is--

FLANNERY: And even Schiff is--

MELBER: --ridiculous on that. I want to - before I let you go, take a look at something our folks put together here - are our staff, our researchers, when you see Donald Trump throughout this debate - this set of issues, some of which Democrats say are abuses of power. Take a look.

FLANNERY: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: But regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey. I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It`s an excuse.

If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I`d want to hear that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It`s not an interference. They have information. I think I`d take it.

It`s very important to talk about corruption. If you don`t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: How do you deal with someone who not only talks like that, but the takeaway for him is he`s gotten away with a lot of it.

FLANNERY: This is the kind of person that only understands the 2x4 to the forehead, that`s the metaphor for impeaching him, having special committees chasing after his people, particularly those out of government that don`t have an armed force with them using the internal powers.

And if they don`t do that, they`ve failed the nation. And you know there are Democrats across the country talking about running in primaries against uncommitted Democrats, because they`ve failed them, and whether it takes one or two cycles. if we`re going to rebuild the country, because they`re not doing it, not defending it, not preventing this, the people are going to do.

And on some level, they get it, because some of these people have opponents, including the Chair of the Judiciary Committee. They have primary opponents that are challenging, because they`re not strong enough.

MELBER: And you`re talking about the environment, what is the environment that pushes things when there`s so much pressure in the other direction. John Flannery, thank you sir.

FLANNERY: Thank you. Good to be with you.

MELBER: New pressure on Republicans as well to take a stand. We`ve been talking about Speaker Pelosi, but what about Republicans co-signing what Trump`s doing and what about what the few anti-Trump Republicans are saying?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WELD (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election - that is treason. It`s treason pure and simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And Corey Lewandowski was caught in a lie that he committed on this show. He now has a new defense on Fox News. We`re going to fact-check it, so you know all the facts when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Donald Trump`s 2016 campaign manager is coming off a pretty rough week, given that congressional grilling, but he just hit the Sunday show circuit with a new defense for getting caught in a lie on MSNBC on THE BEAT" as it happens.

Now Lewandowski had been arguing he can lie to the media, because he thinks the media is unfair and untruthful. But maybe that defense isn`t playing so well, because on Sunday you see here, he made a new argument on Fox News that actually his lie was designed to respect the Mueller probe but that is false.

And this all started with Lewandowski lying on THE BEAT" by denying what he`d already admitted to Mueller that Trump asked him to pressure and oust Jeff Sessions over the Russia probe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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. 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--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Ever. So asked about the Sessions report, Lewandowski categorically denies Trump asked him to get involved with sessions or DOJ. Lewandowski then later admitted that was false, that`s what he admitted under oath last week.

But now on Fox News, yesterday, Lewandowski incorrectly claims the question was not about Sessions. Here`s the full clip, in fairness, so you can see for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: Lewandowski told prosecutors he never acted on President Trump`s request that he push Jeff Sessions to fire Bob Mueller, but the panel played video of Lewandowski saying something very different to MSNBC`s Ari Melber.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWANDOWSKI: 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.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: OK. So.

BARRY BERKE, MEMBER HOUSE JUDICIARY STAFF: That wasn`t true, was it, sir?

LEWANDOWSKI: I heard that.

BERKE: And that was not trues, was it?

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I spoke earlier with the president`s former campaign manager from New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Corey Lewandowski, welcome.

LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you, Howie, thanks for having me.

KURTZ: Let`s start with your declaration at the hearing, I have no obligation to be honest with the media because you consider them to be dishonest. Why should anybody who are watching on the airways from now on say well, maybe this time he`s decided not to tell the truth?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Howie, as you know and what your listeners saw, that day was they took an eight-second video clip of me, completely out of context and they put it up on the screen and said, is this truthful? And what the video clip was of was me answering a question that I hadn`t met with the special counsel yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: False. I was asking about Sessions. Lewandowski denied it and that the hearing, as you just saw, he referenced THE BEAT" interview, so we do know he knew it was that exchange.

Now at the hearing Lewandowski was also asked about his false claim that he hadn`t met with Mueller. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Have you met with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. I know you`ve testified before the Senate and the House Intel investigations. What about the special counsel?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I have said very candidly, I`ll be happy to speak with the special counsel if they`d like to do that. I`ve been very open about - I volunteered to testify for 12 hours in front of the House Committee, I`ve testified in front of the Senate Committee, and I`ll make myself available, because I was there at the very beginning of the campaign--

TODD: Have they asked for you yet though?

LEWANDOWSKI: --there was no collusion.

TODD: Have they asked for you--

LEWANDOWSKI: Not yet. No. They haven`t yet, Chuck.

TODD: You have nothing subpoenaed - nothing? OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was false, because they had. Lewandowski using the Fox interview to falsely suggest that`s the whole dispute, and that this was out of respect for Mueller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWANDOWSKI: And the reason I said that, Howie, is because my two times in front of the special counsel were shrouded in secrecy. I thought that it was only fair that I didn`t disclose information that they didn`t want publicly available.

I regret the fact that I should have explained it better and specifically as it related to my tenure in front of the special counsel, but I did that out of respect for the special counsel--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Respect. This is what political spin looks like. Facing blowback for claiming he can lie all the time, Lewandowski is claiming this was maybe like a little fib to help Mueller. So tonight`s fact check has two key points.

One, that argument is bankrupt. Any witness who wants to respect the special counsel can just say no comment when asked about its work, you know like the special counsel always did. And second, Lewandowski is slipping into the pathological territory once diagnosed by another expert on the code of rule breakers.

To quote "LL Cool J" who famously warned against people who lie about the lies they lied about, the kind of person who lies so habitually. To quote LL, "you`re the largest liar that was ever created. You and Pinocchio are probably related. Full of crisscross fits. You lie all the time. Your tongue should be embarrassed. You`re a threat to mankind."

There may be little evidence Mr. Lewandowski is embarrassed. But his new falsehoods show he thinks getting away with another lie might be a better message than admitting he just lies to the press all the time as he claimed last week.

Now we`re not exactly going to count that as progress, but it may show some limits to political cynicism even in 2019.

Now when we come back where are the Republicans on all this alleged new attempted collusion? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WELD: Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election - that is treason. It`s treason pure and simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That is the sound of a Republican and a Republican primary challenger specifically, against Donald Trump, Governor Bill Weld making those provocative statements, issuing a basically constitutional conclusion about what it means that Donald Trump has admitted, at least, to part of this plot to get Ukraine to go after Joe Biden.

I`m bringing it now David Rothkopf. He`s national security expert. We`ve used him for many stories and he seems to, in part, agree with Mr. Weld with his book "Traitor: The Case Against Donald J. Trump." Is Governor Weld right or do we need to know more?

DAVID ROTHKOPF, FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT: He`s not right technically. I mean, the Constitution has a very specific definition of treason which involves providing - aiding and abetting or providing comfort to an enemy and the courts have ruled that that means somebody - that we`ve declared war against. And so this would not meet the technical definition of treason.

Is it a betrayal? Yes. Is it traitorous? Yes. Is it a crime? Probably. Is the crime extortion or bribery? Yes, it`s probably something like that.

MELBER: Is it abusing the powers of the Commander-in-Chief to try to hold on to political power?

ROTHKOPF: Absolutely. It`s trying to abuse the powers of the Commander-in- Chief and offer a deal where he`s essentially renting out the powers of the presidency in order to serve himself, to get himself re-elected, that`s by the way, exactly what he did the first place to get him elected.

MELBER: We have been tracking here the response. Since we came on the air, a new member of Congress came out for impeachment. There are nonpartisan experts and sort of whatever you want to call the political Democratic centrists who are edging towards impeachment.

We don`t have a lot of prominent Republicans, so it is at this point that we`re only flagging some, those who are running against Trump obviously are positioned differently. Mitt Romney is not currently running against Donald Trump. He`s in the Republican Senate. I want to read you what did say in fairness of the full context.

He says, "if Trump asked or pressured Ukraine`s President to investigate his political rival, either directly or through Rudy, it would be troubling in the extreme critical for the facts to come out." Is that enough?

ROTHKOPF: No. For minute it shows a little bit more spine than we`re used to seeing. But the reality is, of course, the President admitted he did it. He admitted he had the conversation. He admitted he brought up the Biden thing. So we`re kind of past where Mitt is. He`s kind of getting in two, three, four days ago.

We`re at a point where a lot of the facts are now on the record and the question is what are we going to do about them?

MELBER: Based on what is known. is your working theory that Russia and Ukraine are the only countries that Donald Trump has enlisted for help?

ROTHKOPF: No I don`t think that would be our theory at all. The reality is when, I talk to intelligence officials, for example. Very senior intelligence officials would say, who do you expect to intervene in the 2020 election.

They say, well China might intervene, Iran might intervene North Korea might intervene. And of course, some of those folks have an interest in helping the President get reelected, because they think they`re going to get a better deal out of it.

MELBER: And you think he`s emboldening now?

ROTHKOPF: Well, of course, he is emboldening. And what`s emboldening Donald Trump is every single crime he`s committed, whether it`s rape or sexual abuse or obstruction of justice, working with the Russians, colluding with the Russians, there`s a long, long list.

Every single one of those, he`s gotten away with. And every time he gets away with it, he gets a little more bold about doing it and so--

MELBER: Yes, you paint a chilling picture. It`s my job here in the news anchor chair to say you know Donald Trump has never been indicted, let along convicted a felony in or out of office. But what you paint, particularly with what your foreign intelligence sources are saying is striking.

I got to fit in a break. I love learning from you, David Rothkopf.

ROTHKOPF: My pleasure.

MELBER: Thank you, sir. What we`re going to do is fit in a break and then turn to something different. Wouldn`t it be nice to talk about something different for a moment? Well, Annie Lennox, the global superstar is here. I`m going to play something new. We`ve never aired before from our discussion on "Mavericks."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We want to show you one more moment from my "Mavericks" interview with musician Annie Lennox.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: --some people you`ve worked with in in a word or a sentence, David Bowie.

ANNIE LENNOX, SINGER-SONGWRITER: A master, a master.

MELBER: Madonna?

LENNOX: Quite exceptional actually. Quite except - driven.

MELBER: Sting?

LENNOX: Another master in a completely different way.

MELBER: Herbie Hancock?

LENNOX: He`s like honey. I adore Herbie and he is genius.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Like Honey.  You can check out the entire interview, msnbc.com/mavericks.  That`s msnbc.com/mavericks.  We hope you`ll take a look.

"HARDBALL" is up next.

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