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Dems now two votes away from impeach. majority. TRANSCRIPT: 9/25/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Nick Akerman, Eleanor Clift, Joaquin Castro, Ralph Peters

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Michael McFaul, Matthew Continetti, Neera Tanden, Ben Wittes, so many others from NBC news today, including Garrett Haake and Kristen Welker, and Jay Inslee, quite a day. And guess what, there is more tomorrow. We`ll see some testimony tomorrow.

So that`s all we have for tonight. We`ve got that more tomorrow on MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you so much. We come on the air tonight learning brand new details for the first time ever of what Democrats say is President Trump`s impeachable conduct. We`re going to get into this story from every angle tonight.

What the notes from this call, now newly released, mean about what the President asked from Ukraine. The new contagion that is still spilling very much this hour about how other members the Trump administration were pulled into, what Democrats say is, now impeachable and potentially illegal conduct as well. Impeachable for the President, illegal by others.

Tonight, I also have something for you we`ve been working on. It`s a special report on what makes conduct by the President impeachable with the new reporting of what it means when that evidence comes directly from the White House forced to release these incriminating call notes we have them and they are, I can tell you having studied them today, they are something else.

We also have a look at why Donald Trump is dispatching his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to do all of this. We`re going to get to all of that tonight. I wanted to know where we`re headed.

But I begin with what has been such another wild news day with so much going on. Consider the noticeably subdued at times even beleaguered President Trump holding this first press conference since Nancy Pelosi came out for impeachment and since the House has gotten so much closer to backing an impeachment probe.

216 Democrats is our count right now and Donald Trump`s almost surreal meeting, yes, of all days today in the United States with the President of Ukraine. You`re looking at the man that we now know Donald Trump secretly pressured on a phone call to do something that attorneys general have resigned over. That is the kind of thing that`s not allowed the United States to investigate a political rival Joe Biden. And that is what the notes from the call reveal.

Throughout tonight`s broadcast I am going to stay on the facts of the law. But when I say certain things that sound like there are criticism of the President, I will remind you, we are reporting the news of the facts that have emerged about the President.

So when I say he`s doing something that would be illegal for most people to do inside the United States, sounds bad, it`s actually just what is in these notes - highly incriminating. They reveal a President asking for what he calls a quote "favor", an investigation into Joe Biden who at the time of this call in July was one that looked like they might be the opponent to Donald Trump in the general election. At least he may have thought so, and that the President was willing to strike a deal together.

It shows immediately after the Ukrainian President discussed this defense money that was so vital, Donald Trump says he would like you to do us a favor. And then asks about, what appears to be a reference to Clinton`s e- mails that alone would just sound strange. But then the Ukrainian President goes on - this is from the brand-new notes we have to say something very specific.

He spoke with Rudy Giuliani recently and plans to meet with him again. Donald Trump then brings up Biden, saying, it would be great if the Ukrainians would work with Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate Biden. The President responds that he has a new prosecutor in Ukraine and that will be a 100 percent his person who will look into the situation.

You`re seeing the deal being formed and then Donald Trump says he`ll have Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr follow up on all of this. It`s all here in black and white. This is what has come out just today - the President demanding a foreign prosecutor to investigate his domestic political rival.

This is one of the gravest examples of an abuse of government power. It doesn`t matter if that prosecutor that is being pressured to do a political probe to take out a arrival or Joe Biden. It doesn`t matter whether they`re here in the U.S. or overseas.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): What those notes reflect is a classic mafia like shakedown of a foreign leader. This is how a mafia boss talks. What have you done for us? We`ve done so much for you, but there`s not much reciprocity. I have a favor I want to ask you. What is that favor? Of course, the favor is to investigate his political rival, to investigate the Bidens.


MELBER: Chairmanship Schiff mincing words there. In his response he also said these notes were even worse and more shocking than he might have expected. Now this conduct is bad, what`s detailed here to put it plainly and this is, of course, and this is important before I bring in our experts that you know this tonight, everything I`ve just told you is just what is public tonight. It`s what the White House has been forced and compelled, including with bipartisan pressure in the Senate to reveal.

What is not in public tonight, but what we are already getting vibes and energy and mood about is, the entire whistleblower complaint that blew the lid on all of this. And I can tell you, in just the last few hours that was privately, that is to say under the classified rules, turned over to the intelligence committees in Congress.

Now they are dealing with the complaint in private, so I don`t have those details for you. But the Democrats who have reviewed it are already saying it`s troubling.


SCHIFF: --had the opportunity as have members of the committee to read the whistleblower complaint. I found the allegations deeply disturbing. I also found them very credible. I can understand why the Inspector General found them credible, even without the benefit yet of the Inspector General`s full analysis.


MELBER: That`s a reference to the Trump appointed official in the Intelligence Committee, this Inspector General, who under the law deemed this urgent incredible that got us to this point.

Adam Schiff, basically saying that while he`s not yet able to reveal the details of what`s in this complaint, we have some of the mood music from the White House notes, and he`s waiting to get more from the people blowing the whistle inside the Trump administration.

Now those members of Congress got this whistleblower complaint right around the same time that Donald Trump stepped out there and tried to keep all eyes on him at this press conference. And we cover a lot of these. I`m only going to show you parts of it that we deem newsworthy or that are relevant to fact-checking.

But it was not a typical Trump press conference. He seemed at times meandering, as I mentioned earlier, a little beleaguered. But he did in his own way defend everything about what even some Republicans are saying is incriminating in the notes of this call.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: --which was a very innocent call - a very, very innocent, very nice call. In fact, Lindsey Graham said to me when he read it, it very interesting.

He is a good man, he`s a smart man. He said I can`t believe it. I never knew you could be this - really nice to a person. I didn`t think you had that in you to be so nice. I was nice. I`m nice to a lot of people. People don`t understand that. But I was--


MELBER: I`m joined tonight for our special coverage by Maya Wiley, a former civil prosecutor from the Southern District of New York and a former counsel to the Mayor of New York; Nick Akerman, who was a Watergate special prosecutor and Eleanor Clift, reporting for us from Washington where she is a correspondent for "The Daily Beast".

Good evening to everyone. Maya, what is the significance of the White House notes that have now come to the public eye?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO MAYOR OF NEW YORK: These call notes, I think, as you already stated Ari, make it very clear that Donald Trump spent most of a call - almost all of the notes focused specifically on asking the Ukrainian President to reopen an investigation on Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and to essentially do it as he is dangling.

We`ve been good to you. As President Zelensky says, "Oh yes" and I need to come to you to buy more defense weapons. And that`s when he says, "We`ve been good to you, you haven`t been so good to us." So when you put all that together, and when almost everything that Donald Trump wants to focus on, is the what they can do, what Ukraine can do for him.

And then says he`s going to send his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his attorney general, it`s pretty staggering. It`s kind of like the mob boss who says "I`ve been good to you. Right? I`ve been real good to you. You haven`t been good to me."

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I used to prosecute mob bosses. This, if he gave this to me, I`d say it`s a typical transcript of what I get that I would have put into evidence in the course of a mob boss trial. I mean, it is right out of Don Corleone.

He goes through this and talks about how the Europeans have not been good to him. And then he goes on to say, look, but the United States is very, very good to Ukraine. How would say that? It`s reciprocal, necessarily because things are happening that are not good, but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.

MELBER: Right. And that he wants--

AKERMAN: I want a favor.

MELBER: --what he wants that what he calls a favor.

AKERMAN: Right, exactly.

MELBER: And the favor is doing something, just so we stay on this for everyone watching, because there`s been so many things happening. The favor is something that if you were ordered to do it, it would be an unlawful order in the United States. Is that correct?

AKERMAN: That`s correct.

MELBER: If you had a boss when you were a DOJ and they said I want an investigation of my political rival, go do it ,that`s an unlawful order.

AKERMAN: That is totally. So what happens when Donald Trump makes that order and tries to execute it through a AG Barr, he claims in here - mentioned five times abroad. Well, it`s just a - still crime. I mean the crime is committed here in the United States. It doesn`t make it any less a crime.

And in fact, this impeachment inquiry shouldn`t be just looking at President Trump, it should also be looking at AG Barr.

MELBER: Do you think people who - and we`re not there yet, because we`re investigating. If U.S. officials tried to carry this out, do they have criminal liability?

AKERMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely.


WILEY: I think they would have to be worried. And all we have to do is remember when William Barr testified, when in his confirmation hearing and Senator Kamala Harris said were you ever directed to open an investigation by the President in your conversations about getting this job? And he becomes bizarrely unable to understand the word suggest. Right?

He - and thus he pauses and says I`m having trouble answering the question, because I don`t know what you mean by suggest. And we all sat there and go, well, I think it`s a pretty simple word and she couldn`t get him to answer the question. This seems to suggest that we know why.

MELBER: That`s a great point and something that was pressed on him under oath by Kamala, prosecutor like yourself.

I want to put this in the context of what Donald Trump said he would do. In other words, a lot of the best evidence are things that he said in public and some people didn`t take him seriously. And now things that have come out that he said in private. People say, "Oh, some of his allies tonight are making the argument while it`s out there, so bad can it be."

Well, no, you fought tooth and nail to keep it from coming out. You kept this part a secret, because it`s executed on the things they used to claim were jokes or hyperbole or political rhetoric in that context is let`s look at Donald Trump back when the American public was assessing him.

This is October 2016 and he said - this is his playbook. If I win I`ll get a political investigation of my political opponent, something that is as Nick said, he believes, this would be illegal to carry out. Take a look.


TRUMP: My Attorney General, I will ask to appoint a special prosecutor. We have to investigate Hillary Clinton and we have to investigate the investigation.


MELBER: When you look at this as a prosecutor Nick, and as the Congress is barrel and close to impeachment and there`s a political - congressional part of that and there is a constitutional legal part of that. Does that go against Trump that he has basically long sought these kind of potentially illegal probes?

AKERMAN: No, all of these public statements he has made go against him. I mean, in fact, even his statements with respect to this whole conversation. I mean, first he said, oh there was just the reason the money`s didn`t go to the Ukraine was because there was an intra-agency dispute.

Then he said, Oh, it was all about corruption. I mean, just his false, exculpatory statements that he`s given almost make the case. I mean, if you even take this conversation right from the beginning, I mean, this was a setup call. He did it just in order to get this request to the Ukraine President.

He called up congratulating him on his election. He had done that three months before in April. The President of Ukraine had to point that out to him that he only won a parliamentary election, not his Presidential election. I mean, Trump had no clue about what was--

MELBER: Right. This was on his mind and it was coming right after the Mueller testimony. Maya, you mentioned that exchange with AG Barr who`s mentioned five times in this, and that`s another piece of news we`re going to get to a little later in the show, which is how DOJ is handling. This here was that important exchange you referenced.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no please, sir.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The President or anybody else?

HARRIS: Seems you would remember something like that and tell us.

BARR: Yes, but I`m trying to grapple with the word "suggest". There have been discussions of matters out there- that they have not asked me to open an investigation.

HARRIS: Perhaps they`ve suggested?

BARR: I wouldn`t say suggest.

HARRIS: Hinted?

BARR: I don`t know.

HARRIS: Inferred? You don`t know. OK.


WILEY: So her question was very clear. It was unambiguous. He understood the question. He didn`t want to answer it. And I think what he`s accurate about, if this is what he was referring to, if Donald Trump actually made the ask. What he could say is, well, yes, he didn`t ask me to open an investigation. He asked me to go talk to a foreign government about what it could do for us.

And the only other thing I want to add is Rudy Giuliani last night on Fox.

MELBER: But let me go to Barr before you go to Rudy


MELBER: --and I`ll get you back into Rudy. But just to finish the point, because I want viewers to understand what we`ve got here. To your point on AG Barr, I`m reading now more from these notes.

This is the kind of thing that you would reveal in the in show moment of a trial of someone. I mean, that`s how damning some of these notes are. Congress will decide what to do, if anything, I`m just here to tell you my honest view about having analyzed that this is bad.

The President quote "I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I`m also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it." And we know from the Mueller report that when Donald Trump has these kind of plots, he follows up on them.

DOJ tonight saying, no, Barr never talked about it. Is there liability for the Justice Department and should Attorney General Barr, before we get to Rudy who was out of government. Should Attorney General Barr recused from any related matters here?

MELBER: Well, I think Attorney General Barr should absolutely recuse. We know that recusal has come in the past around Attorney General Barr and he has not. He will probably seek an ethics decision from the Department of Justice, Office of Ethics and we`ll see what happens there. But just for appearance of fairness and justice he should recuse himself.

But the other thing I will add is, putting aside, we need a lot more facts to determine whether he has any liability. But what we`re talking about with impeachment doesn`t require a crime.


WILEY: So the extent that there`s a defense--

MELBER: And that`s great point.

WILEY: We didn`t - I didn`t actually - President Zelensky said, I didn`t feel threatened. That`s not relevant for these purposes. These purposes, the questions what did Donald Trump try to do. It was clearly for himself. And his Nick pointed out, not for any of the reasons for the American public he was talking to President Zelensky.

MELBER: As always, we get great legal nuance from you. The Presidential part is what will Congress do or not about Donald Trump`s alleged conduct and some of it proven according to their dealing with his side of the story. His side of the story makes him look.

The liability question goes to what we learned in the Mueller report, which is people like Mr. McGahn and Mr. Lewandowski sometimes talk to lawyers and didn`t do things, because Donald Trump`s orders would have put them in jail, not unlike his lawyer Michael Cohen and other people who were awaiting trial or facing that exposure.

Rudy Giuliani - both of you stay. Eleanor Clift, looking at the Congress, I want to play for you briefly Mitt Romney`s reaction today. Take a listen.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I did read the transcript. It remains troubling in the extreme. It`s deeply troubling.


MELBER: The reason we are here is partly because the Washington response has not been to treat all of this as quote-unquote "another Trump affront." Is this time different and if so how in your view?

ELEANOR CLIFT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE DAILY BEAST": I would like to think it`s different and I think what Senator Romney said is appropriate. But he said these things before and he doesn`t follow up on them.

But the fact that the Senate passed a resolution saying that the report - whistleblower`s report had to be turned over to the Congress and Mitch McConnell allowed that to the floor and all the Republicans publicans voted for it, it gives me some hope.

And then George Conway tweeted this afternoon that he`s convinced that Republicans will, if the impeachment comes to the Senate, they will vote to convict. Now he`s married to Kellyanne Conway and I don`t pretend to understand how they can live under the same roof with such--

MELBER: Well, let me ask you a follow-up.


MELBER: I don`t know how to predict anything and I try to avoid predictions in our reporting. But if you look at just the past few days a lot has suddenly changed. Look at this number that I think is still sinking in around the country - 79 new impeachment backers in Congress.

Whatever they thought before wasn`t enough. Something this week changed. That number you see on your screen 216 that is a White House heartburn number, because 218 is a majority of the House backing impeachment.

CLIFT: Right? Are there any Republicans in that number?

MELBER: One former Republican, but it`s all you need--

CLIFT: One former Republican.

MELBER: --all you need is - and then that number - that`s the count of Dems, so it`ll be 217. Go ahead Eleanor.

CLIFT: Yes, I hear you. And there are echoes of Watergate here and the Republicans held on Watergate until finally the "Saturday Night Massacre" and the tapes. So they held until suddenly they didn`t. And I think--

MELBER: Do you think we`re looking at tape - is this like a tape, what I`m looking.

CLIFT: I think this is a definitive moment in the Trump obstruction of justice scenario. I mean, there are so many instances you can cite where he has abused his power. But I think Nancy Pelosi went ahead with this one, because it it`s different, it`s clear. It`s a clear abuse. It`s understandable and I think it may shift public opinion and it may shift opinion in Capitol Hill.

The Republicans in the Senate, they`re on committees, they understand how you deal with foreign leaders. They`re not complete toadies. At least I don`t think so. And this has got to give them pause. And so I think you know we might be seeing the beginning of some slippage.

MELBER: Eleanor Clift, always appreciate your insights from Washington. Maya and Nick, thank you. We may come back to you, depends what happens as this is a breaking story.

Still to come, the contagion of Ukraine and how other members of Trump`s inner circle are roped in. What should Bill Barr do? Should there be a special counsel. And then tonight, as promised, I have a special report on impeachment and whether demanding a prosecutor to investigate the rival actually strengthens the Democrats` hands in brand new ways?

And later Pelosi strategy as the House Intel Chief says Donald Trump has betrayed America. And then of course later in the hour, a little bit of Rudy letting loose.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Insider saying, you mucked this. Your response.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: Man, I really did. And you know, who I did it at the request of? The state department.


MELBER: Rudy going to Rudy. But THE BEAT going to "BEAT", so stay tuned we`ll be back in a moment.


MELBER: Welcome back to special coverage on THE BEAT. I want to welcome Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro. He`s vice Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is on the Intelligence Committee.

And I know sir you`re just rushed into a camera. I`ll mention to our viewers that we`re following a very unusual day that touches on your committees, which includes the really unusual release of notes taken of a White House phone call. That appeared on their face reveal potential abuses of power by the President, and his attempt to involve Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr in that plot.

As well as what your committee, I believe just received, which is the, as I understand it, non-public whistleblower complaint. And this comes on a night when the number of people packing impeachment of the House is within a vote or two of a majority.

With all that said, what do you think is the most important thing that has been learned today? And what can you tell us, if anything, about the nature of the process here on that whistleblower complaint your committee has.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, the first thing is you`re right. I just took about 36 votes in one committee and then came over to the House floor to vote here. So as soon as I`m done here, I`m going to go into the skiff, the Intelligence Committee and read over the whistleblower complaint.

But what`s been most remarkable so far publicly today is that transcript or semi transcript or memorandum of transcript, whatever it was, that was released by the White House that shows a President abusing his power, trying to pressure the Ukrainian President to dig up dirt on a political rival.

But also in doing and releasing it implicating Rudy Giuliani, he basically confirmed all of the nefarious things that have been reported about Rudy Giuliani and his conduct. And also implicating, I think the State Department and the Secretary of State, as well as the Attorney General.

The Attorney General, I never believed that he should have been put into that position. But he should recuse himself and he also has to be called, I believe, as a witness in this matter. So there are there are so many different things that have gone on today - very significant things that I think add up to an abuse of power by this President.

MELBER: What would you ask Bill Barr and how soon do Democrats intend to make him speak?

CASTRO: Well, we`re obviously discussing that right now. But the Speaker said very clearly that she wanted this process to move expeditiously and so I expect that that will probably be in the next few weeks.

MELBER: Do you think that you`re now at a point where the President is openly orchestrating international collusion to go after Democrats. And if so, who`s to believe that it would stop only with Joe Biden? Do you think others are in danger? What is the level of risk to democracy in your view tonight, now that unlike yesterday, we`ve actually seen the darn notes and they`re pretty serious?

CASTRO: Right. Well, this is the first time that we`ve seen notes or a partial transcript. So we don`t even know that this is the first time. This is the first time that we`re actually getting something in writing on paper.

But there`s a lot of investigation that has to go in to this incident that may bring up other occasions where the President, for all we know, has done the same thing before.

MELBER: Yes. Congressman--

CASTRO: --also disturbing.

MELBER: --as you mentioned, I appreciate you spend time with us. Before you go into secure facility, and you have an invite to come back on this program and tell us what you can as these proceeds. Thank you for fitting us in.

CASTRO: Thank you.

MELBER: I want to continue with Maya and Nick and give a little more context on this contagion that we`re just discussing with the Congressman. Because consider what is being spread across Trump officials, just from what we`ve learned tonight.

The White House notes show Trump urging Ukrainian President to work with, as mentioned, Barr to try to get this corruption investigation going against Biden. In fact, Barr`s name is mentioned you see here five times.

Now that`s just what the White House meant to release. They also have a kind of a defense, and often any White House would. But their defense was supposed to be sent to allies as talking points. They accidentally leaked that in the whatever hubbub in pressure is of today. So take a look at this.

The President releasing these talking points to Capitol Hill press staff on his side Republicans and it says. And this is their defense that they were privately circulating quote "the President wanted allegations of corruption involving an American official to be investigated."

I read that accident on a leak to both of my panelists Nick, because isn`t that an admission of the scandal?

AKERMAN: Of course, it is. I mean, he`s admitted it right from the beginning, almost. I mean as things were coming out he knew he had to get ahead of the story. So he keeps putting out other pieces of this. But he is so clueless. I mean, he just doesn`t appreciate the fact that what he is doing is a total abuse of power.

It is not within a President`s power to go out and get foreign governments to help them in his election. That government of Ukraine is not like the local men`s club where you go in and people support you for President. I mean he just doesn`t get it.

And he told ABC News that he had no problem asking a foreign power to get involved in his campaign, and he certainly had no problem asking Russia to help in his last campaign. So I think we`ve got a President here who just doesn`t abide by the rules, doesn`t understand the rules, and doesn`t deserve to be President of United States.

And so, Maya, briefly are you, in your mind, witnessing a White House that actually on this one is reacting is reacting, is not driving this through controversy and tweets and all the other things. But seems time and time again, from calling Pelosi yesterday under pressure, to releasing the notes, to then releasing the whistleblower complaint, they seem really off balance.

WILEY: I think this is a White House that knows it`s in trouble. One of the things we were hearing in some reports which seemed to explain, and this is consistent with the Mueller report as well as, so many White House staff trying to rein Donald Trump in from violating the law. That was part of the Mueller report on obstruction--

AKERMAN: Which is a great point actually, because the press reports are saying that National Security people didn`t want him to make this call here, because he was going to do exactly what he wound up doing.

WILEY: And he got rid of his seasoned national intelligence personnel and so it sounds like he was free to do what he wanted to do.

MELBER: Maya and Nick, thank you so. I`m going to fit in the shortest break you can imagine, because as we get into why Donald Trump is doing what he did with the Ukraine, question is, is this more impeachable than other allegations? I have that when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Now we turn to our special report. And it begins with the context. Let`s just take a breath and consider where we are. Tonight, for the first time in the Trump era, a approaching bare majority of Democrats are backing an impeachment probe. They are by various counts a vote or two away.

This jump comes because just this week as we`ve been mentioning, 79 more Democrats got on board since the news broke of just this new incident, Trump`s call with Ukraine, which Democrats say is now a clear impeachable abuse of power. And they`re falling of course the lead of Speaker Pelosi, who had held back until, now to back this formal impeachment inquiry.

So amidst all these developments I want to get into at this point in the hour, if you`ve heard some of the breaking news, and some of the incriminating news, the facts and legal framework for what could lead to the ultimate remedy in the Constitution, which as you know, it provides for removing a President from office by impeachment for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

SAMUEL JACKSON, AMERICAN ACTOR: And when a long train of abuses and usurpations--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has obstructed the administration of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: --shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.


MELBER: We all know the words the text, because Congress handles this process. Congress ultimately decides what that text high crimes means. But many also do look to what the founders meant.

And tonight Democrats are saying it is the evidence in Trump`s own White House records - these call notes that reveal a high crime. They say applauding to use government power to go after a rival, violating the core trust that a President has to use powers on behalf of the nation, of you, of the public, not himself.

In fact, that`s how Alexander Hamilton defined an impeachable crime. That it would involve the abuse for violation of some public trust. In Federalist paper No. 65 he wrote that and wrote that the Constitution aims to make it as difficult as possible to combine any interest opposite to that of the public good.

Now, apply some of that to the context of the new evidence that`s out tonight, and this Congress that`s considering going forward - a voter to away from a majority for the impeachment probe, what Trump`s own White House has documented him leaning on foreign prosecutors, his own lawyer Giuliani and the sitting attorney general of the United States not, as stated in these records, for the public good but to try to take out a political rival. The end goal being 2020.

Or what in the founding era involved not, of course direct elections, but the electoral college electors. And Democrats are looking tonight two founding father George Mason who talks of impeachment as a way to deal with a President who tries to get appointed, aka, today elected, by corrupting his quote "electors."

Top Democrats, and by the way a lot of legal experts, are arguing at the President pressing a foreign power to ask them to meddle in the coming election is in the middle of the strike zone of that.

Or consider another founding father, Edmund Randolph, saying impeachment is also there to address a President who abuses his power through military force or public money, which is why we are hearing these reports that people around Speaker Pelosi, who were skeptical until this week of impeachment, find this news different.

Because think about that reference there to money in executing impeachment, and then think about the news Donald Trump withholding money - your money - taxpayer money from Ukraine. And now you have Congress considering potential articles of impeachment on this very thing, separate from even anything in the Mueller probe.

And then there`s the alleged misuse of intelligence. Consider Federalist James Iredell, who seemed to speak to this scenario writing quote "It`s the President`s duty to impart to the Senate every material intelligence he receives. If it should appear he hasn`t given them full information and his concealed intelligence, which he ought to have communicated, that also could be the kind of abuse of power you impeach on."

Now what we do know about this whistleblower complaint is that it, as intelligence against federal law, almost never made it to the Senate, because of the Trump orders. And now today, as I was just discussing with the Congressman, well now it`s gone to the Senate and the House.

One more thing to consider as Congress gears up for what could be a true constitutional question. James Madison said it like this in 1787, "The President could be impeached if he might betray his trust to foreign powers." That`s what`s so different here.

Whatever you think about Russian collusion, there`s a lot of debates about that and I`ve reported here that Bob Mueller never found crimes related to an election conspiracy. Everything in 2016 was about someone who wasn`t President yet, and remember, whose campaign was on the receiving end, according to our intelligence agencies, of a Russian influence operation.

This week, on the facts is at least different, because it reveals the plot to collude beginning not in another country, not in Russia, but in the White House with a President, who Democrats say, has already betrayed the trust of the American people and betrayed his oath of office.

As I always say around here, we`re just reporting this out. What Congress will do, whether they do anything? Whether those words or other words apply? Well, we will see. But it is the constitutional basis for impeachment, which the founders said was there to remove people abusing power.

And something that Rachel Maddow said just last night about this, this is pretty interesting. That only two Presidents, remember, have ever been impeached, Johnson and Clinton, by the House, but they were never removed by the Senate. Take a look.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: --there are only two instances in American history in which a U.S. President has been impeached.

One process that constitution gives Congress to remove a President from office for high crimes and misdemeanors, that process has been used twice to impeach a president. Neither of those guys got removed from office, though. The one guy who did basically get removed from office because of the threat of that process, he technically was never impeached.


MELBER: That`s right. President Nixon, obviously, resigned, because it came before the Senate or House actually had to act. although they were going that direction.

Nixon`s example, though, may apply also on the facts. Because Democrats say, when you look at the articles of impeachment against him, it was abuses of power while Nixon was present not a campaign, not 2016 to consider the current examples that we had in the Mueller report.

And consider in that era how Congresswoman Barbara Jordan laid out the case. This was in her famous opening remarks before - something that Nancy Pelosi now supports in this new context - a House Judiciary Committee considering impeachment against a sitting President.


FMR. REP. BARBARA JORDAN (D-TX): I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men. And that`s what we`re talking about. In other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.

If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that 18th-century Constitution should be abandoned to a 20th-century paper shredder!


MELBER: The argument there was clear. She saw impeachable offenses and said if you don`t see that laid out in the grounds in the Constitution, maybe you need a new constitution.

Tonight Speaker Pelosi and others are suggesting that it is actually the Constitution and those Federalist papers I just quoted, that basically explain why Ukraine is different, because Donald Trump has publicly admitted and provided the evidence of what they see as a violation of the public trust to quote the founders, to betray the nation, to abuse the power for political gain.

Pelosi is declaring that the Democrats are now involved in something that she was not supporting as of two days ago, and that has tipped the number of people in the Capitol who are approaching a majority for impeachment.

What are the grounds for that and will they ultimately introduce articles and vote on it? Well, that is up to them. We wanted to give you that breakdown. We have a lot more in the show. Up ahead a top Democrat on what should be done next, a retired lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters with the military expertise.

Than later Giuliani`s spin is starting to look like this.


GIULIANI: by the way, do you have any idea the State Department--

CHRIS HAHN, FORMER AIDE TO SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: So then you know the libel laws?

GIULIANI: Shut up, moron, shut up.


MELBER: Today the House Intel Chair accusing President Trump of betraying the nation and sacrificing the country`s national security for his personal gain.


SCHIFF: The President United States has betrayed his oath of office and sacrificed our national security in doing so, is quince essentially what the framers thought was the sum and substance of what might warrant a President`s removal from office.


MELBER: We turn now to Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer, author and friend of THE BEAT. Sir we`ve covered much of this including illegal and constitutional issues in the Congress. Zeroing in on national security, your view of what the call notes reveal.

LT. COL. RALPH PETERS (RET.), STRATEGIC ANALYST AND AUTHOR: Oh, it`s disaster so many levels. One, it says, you can`t trust the United States as an ally, we`re going to extort all we can from you. And it`s not just Ukraine. So many of our allies, especially those in Eastern Europe - Poland, the Baltic States, they`re watching this and worrying can they trust us.

MELBER: Have you ever seen a President conduct himself in that way or request that kind of quote-unquote "favor" to quote the President in his own notes?

PETERS: No. I mean, we`ve seen Presidents do foolish things. But nothing quite like this. And Ari, we make this all about us - everything`s about us. But this is also about Ukraine. Ukraine, a newly independent state, struggling to fight corruption, now they`re caught up in American corruption. They`ve never asked us for military - direct military support, just defensive weapons.

Putin has just remember their country invaded it. The Ukrainians have put up a heroic struggle. And Trump just turns it into this this grotesquerie. I mean, Ari, I`ve heard people on your show and many others comparing Trump to mob boss. He is a cartoon of a mob boss. This isn`t the godfather that`s married to the mob without Michelle Pfeiffer.

MELBER: Noticeably different than some of the ways we`ve seen mafia movies play out. There`s also some notion of hiding inculpability. Now one difference here as you know is how much of this is burst into the open, the President touting it and some of members of Congress also minimizing it.

Take a look at some of the Republican reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see no smoking gun. I see no quid pro quo.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): There is no quid pro quo. There is no improper leverage and the overall tone of this transcript is that it is mutually laudatory.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): To impeach any President over a phone call like this would be insane.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): A never-ending impeachment parade in search of a rationale--

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Speaker owes an apology to this nation and I think it`s even questionable why she should stay in her job. We are done with this.


MELBER: In closing, sir, your assessment of the merits of those arguments.

PETERS: The Republicans of the Senate have disgraced not only themselves and their once great party, they disgraced our country. If Donald Trump gave Vladimir Putin our nuclear codes, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham would describe it as a breakthrough for peace.

We have sunk very, very low. And god knows these men have abandoned their oath to the Constitution and they`re essentially abandoning their country.

MELBER: And you say that on a night when, if someone were tuning in right now, and that`s the first thing they heard, they might think that sounds harsh. It sounds like rhetoric. And yet we`re dealing with, as I remind viewers, these call notes that I have.

I`m grabbing them ,which detail a President asking a foreign government to do an investigation so controversial, so illegal, so disavowed in the United States, he couldn`t even in this environment get away with it.

Lieutenant - Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, thank you, as always sir.


MELBER: Appreciate it. I have told you tonight that we`re also going to get into another piece of this. It is not the first piece. It`s not the second piece. But it is a piece of it. Maya Wiley is back and I`m going to have her look at the ruddiness of the ruddiness. Rudy going to Rudy, we`ve said it before.

Well Giuliani comes up six times in these newly released White House call notes, which means whatever you think of him and his television persona, the President is inserting Rudy Guiliani into this plot. And that Rudy says, well, he`s going to go do it.

He appears to be acting on this evidence, which is direction from Trump and that could undermine the television persona I mentioned. The type of defense we usually hear from Rudy Guiliani.


INGRAHAM: Insider saying you mucked this up. Your response?

GIULIANI: Man, I really did. And you know who I did it at the request of? The State Department. Laura, I`m a pretty good lawyer, just a country lawyer. But it`s all here, right here. The first call from the State Department, the debriefing of the State`s attorney.

INGRAHAM: So why are they--


MELBER: Maya, Rudy Giuliani is a former U.S. Attorney. He tracked and prosecuted mob cases, political corruption. He just held up his phone. Is he begging for a subpoena?

WILEY: Oh, yes. He just flat-out asked for one. And frankly, he should have been getting one even if he hadn`t held his phone up. Based on what we know from the call notes, that he made visits. We know from President Zelensky in the call notes that he had already spoken to an assistant of the President of Ukraine.

And remember what else he says in that interview with Laura Ingraham. She says, OK, so Rudy, well, why you? If the State Department asked you, why not someone from the State Department, why not an FBI agent? Excellent question. Rudy`s response? I`m Donald Trump`s defense lawyer.


WILEY: In other words, I am appearing to - in the Ukraine on behalf of the - not the President of the United States at the direction of the State Department--

MELBER: Right, as part of a political plotter. Which goes to--

WILEY: Exactly.

MELBER: --the co-mingling that so many people in the Congress are starting to say makes this worse and more impeachable. I want to show you something else. We have all of this scuttlebutt and there`s new reporting even that have come on the air about Trump insiders really about Rudy and where this is heading and what exposure he`s given to the White House.

There`s another official says quote "The expletive show that we`re in now is because of Rudy and the damage control tour isn`t going well.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?

GUILIANI: Of course, I did.

CUOMO: You just said you didn`t.

INGRAHAM: But why is Rudy running the show on that? Why isn`t it FBI and the main Justice?

GIULIANI: That`s a very good question, because the FBI`s performance of this entire investigation, including up to this moment, is flawed.

-- by the way, do you have any idea the State Department--

HAHN: So then you know the libel laws?

GIULIANI: Shut up, moron, shut up. Shut up.

INGRAHAM: Let Rudy. OK, hold on, hold on. Chris, Chris.

GIULIANI: You don`t know what you`re talking about. You don`t know what you`re talking about, idiot.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEW HOST: Did you read the transcript? >>

GUILIANI: Let`s say it was read to me.

KILMEADE: It was read to you, the whole thing?



MELBER: Is he digging deeper?

WILEY: It`s an astounding performance from any measure. It`s just astounding. He, as Donald Trump has done himself - the only thing I`ll disagree with is Donald Trump has done a pretty good job digging his own grave with his own inconsistent statements and his own admissions.

Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, as a lot more direct exposure potentially for campaign finance crimes, for example, going to a foreign country, to a foreign government and seeking things of value as the statute says in order to benefit a Donald Trump re-election campaign.

MELBER: And you think that Rudy Giuliani knows or doesn`t know how bad it`s gotten for him briefly?

WILEY: I think - you know, I think it`s impossible to know. But I think based on that performance last night he seemed very flustered. He seemed all over the map. It wasn`t just Donald Trump that was subdued today. It was Rudy Giuliani on a tear yesterday - this morning.

MELBER: Yes, I leave the body language expertise to others. But you`re saying something that does come up in law enforcement and juries and in these processes, we do look at how people seem. Rudy Giuliani and the President, who had some much bluster, they both have looked really off their game and beleaguered in the last 24 hours.

And you add to that, the facts, which is what we follow the facts here are really troubling for both of them to say the least. Maya, you`ve been a special part of our coverage. Really in this whole era, and on the night like tonight, I`m really glad to have you here.

WILEY: That`s really good to be with you, Ari.

MELBER: I appreciate it. Let me tell you what we`re going to do, because we`ve been following so much news out of Washington and I`m going to give you an update on where the Democrats stand on everything before I hand-off to "Hardball".

But I also want to ask you something else, because we do more than one thing when we cover stuff here on "THE BEAT." What do Mayor Ed Koch and Any Warhol, John Michael - Jean-Michel Basquiat have in common?

Well, they were driving a lot of what happened in New York and was cutting edge in the `80s, from battles over crime and affordable housing, to artistic inspiration, to social revolutions, which also was a foundation for shifts in politics and music.

And we explore all of that in the newest installment of "Mavericks" with two moguls who actually came up in that time period, Kevin Liles and Lyor Cohen.


KEVIN LILES, AMERICAN RECORD EXECUTIVE: I believe rap music took on something from early rock n roll that said there`s a lot that we have to say. Remember, rap music was introduced on a corner and then maybe one hour every Friday night for a show.

LYOR COHEN, MUSIC EXECUTIVE: What was happening here in New York in the early 80s is fashion, art, and rap music was bumping, colliding together. And the spirit of it was underpinned by affordable housing. So the whole SoHo, where we are right now, was full of artists.


MELBER: Why was affordable housing so key? Why did art and hip hop engage with so many marginalized people more than the rest of society? We get into all of that. I`d love you to check it out Liles and Cohen tackle these questions.

It`s our first "Maverick" interview with the moguls who cultivate and sometimes clash with artists. It`s up right now at -

And I have one more thing that`s relevant to some people. If you`re in New York I am hosting an event with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a member of Democratic leadership in Brooklyn.

It`s for the 25th anniversary of the Notorious BIG`s game changing album "Ready to Die" and you can get tickets at It`s Sunday October 6. Congressman Jeffries and some other musical theater leaders,, please go visit there and come join us if you happen to be in New York.

Now when we come back one more thing on the impeachment probe and what is going down in the House tomorrow.


MELBER: This week is not going as planned. And buckle up, because tomorrow on Capitol Hill, the person at the center of much this, the Acting Intelligence Chief Joseph Maguire, who hid that whistle-blower complaint, that Pelosi says shows Trump basically abuse his power. He faces Congress for the first time in all of this before the Intelligence Committee. You can get all of that on MSNBC throughout the day and on THE BEAT at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, including some special guests.

Thank you, as always, for spending some of your time with us. I will see you back here at 6:00 Eastern. And I wouldn`t go anywhere right now, because you know what time it is. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.