CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: I was just going to say he made me a comedian. But he walked that tight rope far too well. Anyway, Carol, Evelyn, Larry, Jeremy, thank you guys for bringing some explanations to what we are trying to deal with here.
That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now. And we will continue sort of debriefing this whistleblower report, Mr. Melber.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I have ton in here -- political, legal, national security. Chuck, as always, thank you very much, sir.
TODD: All right.
MELBER: We get right to the breaking news stunning Washington. Today, for the first time ever, the Congress and America has now processed and heard what exactly has just upended American politics and government as we know it.
The whistleblower complaint about President Trump`s plot and call with the President Ukraine. This is damning stuff. It lays out in detail allegations that the President quote "abused his power for his own personal gain and re-election", pressing a foreign government Ukraine to go after his domestic rivals, Joe Biden and his family.
Let`s get right into the facts quote "I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials. The President is using his power of office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election." What you`re seeing here for the first time in public is the complaint that has upended everything in the White House and the Trump`s own officials deemed credible.
Then to the cover-up quote, "I learned from multiple U.S. officials senior White House officials that intervened to lock down all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript." All of this coming is the acting DNI official testified and faced a whole range of questions before the House today.
The President also adding to the fire tonight making chilling comments and this was in private, but now obtained by the "LA Times" about the whistleblower and the officials who talked to the whistleblower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whoever the hell it is, they`re almost a spy. I want to know who`s the person who gave the whistleblower - who is the person that gave the whistleblower the information? Because that`s close to a spy.
You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right? The spies and the treason. We used to handle it little differently than we do now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We have a lot of reporting and experts. In a moment we`ll be joined by one of the highest ranking Democrats in Congress. But I begin now with Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights on these constitutional questions; conservative Bill Kristol, who directs the group Defending Democracy Together; and Berit Berger a former federal prosecutor and illegal analyst for us. Good day to each of you.
Vince, I begin with you. Is this whistleblower complaint deemed credible and with a lot of details the type of evidence that adds to the constitutional case for impeachment in your view?
VINCE WARREN, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Oh, I think it certainly does. They`re almost all of the elements there. There`s the initial crime, the misconduct of the - having the henchmen of the President go out and start conversations.
Actually long before this phone call even started, Rudy Giuliani was in touch with the former prosecutor in January, connecting them to - then - there`s the information where the money is stopped. There`s the ask and the demand that you need to do something about this. That was all laid out.
And I think also - what`s also very important is the fact that this information was then put on lockdown. Clearly, somebody knew within the White House that the information there was not just a lovely phone call. There are real problems there. And that lockdown, I think, is going to be really key in terms of the upcoming investigations.
MELBER: Yes. It`s all very straightforward, Bill. And what we have here explains why the White House released such damning evidence in the Ukraine call notes. Everyone saw that and said boy, why would you tell on yourself like that.
And part of the answer is the constitutional, congressional and legal pressure is so great that if this was going to come anyway, this is even worse than what America saw last night. Your view.
BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yes. I agree with that. And I think - I mean, the big advantage of this from the point of view - if considering impeachment is - it`s a very discrete set of events that you can really discover, I think, a lot of the facts about, you can get the documents you need to get, you can get the witnesses you need to get. You have to take the position.
I think if you`re the House Intelligence Committee or the House Judiciary Committee that you are not going to let yourself be stonewalled. That if the White House instructs witnesses not to testify, that itself would be an obstruction and an impeachable act.
But I think in a month we could know a ton about what`s happened. I think we probably know the outlines already. And for me the tale today is the Republicans on the Hill who have been - to me and we`ve discussed this before, a huge disappointment, and not exactly profiles in courage.
I wouldn`t say there wasn`t courage today. The Republican Senators did not say nothing to it ridiculous witch-hunt. Republican Senators have enough time to read the whistleblower complaint yet want to get the fact.
Well, but yes, we can laugh a little bit at the heaven that time to read it. But that implies that if you read it and there`s stuff in it, you`re going to take it seriously. Chairman Burr of the Senate Intelligence Committee just said apparently that he had useful meetings today with the Director of National Intelligence and the IG - the National Intelligence Inspector General.
And that he - he makes it sound like he`d say - I mean, he put out a statement that doesn`t make sense unless you think he thinks there`s something serious there.
MELBER: Right. And let me--
KRISTOL: That`s what strikes me the both.
MELBER: Let me invite you to--
KRISTOL: --no one can say this is just nonsense.
MELBER: Let me invite you to build on that before we go to you on the law again, because you`re talking about how Congress looks at its duties here. And we have gone in a shift, people say, well what`s really changed? Well, as we`ve been reporting on the facts, one thing that`s changed is 80 more people in the House back impeachment as a probe which creates a majority.
Another thing is - that`s changes months in the making bill. And that is the President went from no collusion to if there is collusion it`s not a crime, to now, pro-collusion. How does that change things in Washington? How many people in the Senate want to cosign that?
KRISTOL: Right. And the Senators realize now - I`ve talked to a couple of Republican senators this weekend. They may well have to vote on this. And it`s one thing if their charge is floating around - you don`t have to do anything, you`re not a profile in courage, you don`t stand up say, "Hey this is an appropriate what the President said. Hey, I want to have a hearing on this." You just keep quiet.
But if the House votes out an article or articles of impeachment, the Senators have to either let it go - decide this action by the President that you were describing is lawful, no problem at all or not enough of a problem, or they have to vote. Yes, so I think Republican Senators have suddenly gotten much more serious.
Republican House members in a way less so, because all they can just complain and the Democrats can vote for it out an article or articles impeachment. But I would say the House Intelligence Committee, though, it`s been partisan at times, obviously over the last couple of years, especially Devin Nunes, a key Republican.
If you looked down at the list of Republican members, it has four or five members who were serious people and who I think will try to do the right thing. And I think that Committee has more of a chance of agreeing in - to some degree in a bipartisan way that "Hey, we can`t just dismiss this."
MELBER: Yes, the other--
KRISTOL: Let`s look at the documents, let`s look at the what other witnesses testify.
MELBER: The other difference Bill - the difference that you alluding to comes in the nature of this as Americans refresh on why we have impeachment work the way we do, whether they get there or not. House members are up every two years, Senators are not. So as you refer to it, these are people who might not be up this cycle, but are up four years later.
The founders didn`t get everything right. But shout out to some of the founders, a longer term pendency for your Senate seat actually allows you to think four or five years ahead. And if you don`t think you like where Donald Trump is going, if you don`t think he`s getting better, and you think your own seat might be a little different - and looking different in four years. That could change--
KRISTOL: One point--
MELBER: Well, let me - I will come back to you. No, let me come back to you. I have to moderate.
KRISTOL: 20 seconds.
MELBER: I will come - you are here. I will come back to you.
KRISTOL: I want to hear you.
MELBER: You know, he`s - this is what he is like. You could tell that he was - you could what he is at a heart. He is a political person. I will come back. But I want to bring Berit in on the law.
I`m going to read to you one passage from this new complaint. I`m curious what you think. Quote "The President pressed Mr. Zelensky to initiate an investigation of the activities of Biden." If the President orders a domestic attorney general or prosecutor do that - is that even legal?
BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No. I mean there is a clear delineation here of what is the official channels. Right? So the U.S. often goes to foreign governments for assistance in our domestic investigations. But there are official channels to do that. There are MLAT treaties. There are ways that are established for doing that. They are not done with a wink and a nod or in a phone call like this.
But exactly as you said, if the President was to call the U.S. Attorney in a given statement say, "Hey, I have this guy. He happens to be running for President against me. Could you look into him and bring some charges." That would be equally as inappropriate.
KRISTOL: That was worth going to. That was much better than anything I would have said. So I - my only point is this. The - when there was a Mueller investigation, it allowed members of the House and the Senate actually to avoid their responsibilities. "Well, the special counsel will look into it. Let`s just wait to hear what he has to say."
In a funny way the disappearance of the Mueller investigation has forced the House, I think, to be serious about this.
MELBER: That is so interesting. Build on that, because our viewers have heard about this. Our viewers know and we follow this stuff pretty closely for a long time. It was wait for Mueller, wait for Mueller. Then he details all this stuff. And suddenly a bunch of members of the House said, well, we need more whatever. You`re saying they can`t do that this time?
KRISTOL: Well, because the President did this - whatever he did with respect to Ukraine, with respect to sending Giuliani over and so forth. Either the House is going to hold them accountable or not. No one else is going to. The Justice Department is not going to, it`s not going to get to the courts in a timely fashion.
So either the House of Representative says this is really unacceptable. We cannot be inviting foreign interference in our elections from the Oval Office in real-time, with letting it go - would let this go for the next year presumably, the President can keep on doing it. So the House really has to choose yea or nay. The House can`t say, "that`s very interesting, very complicated. I look forward to reading the report in the six months."
MELBER: So it`s striking when you when you put it that way. All of you stay. I want to bring in a little more facts for your analysis on this when we get into what did we learn today. We mentioned senior White House officials had intervened. Take a look at this. They locked down, according to whistleblower, the records of the call.
And this all happened more than once. Quote, "This was not the first time under the Trump administration a Presidential transcript was placed into a code word level system for the purpose of protecting this politically sensitive, rather than national security sensitive information." The outlines of a cover-up. Take a listen to Speaker Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): A complaint reports a quote "Repeated abuse of an electronic record system designed to store classified, sensitive, national security information, which the White House used to hide information of a political nature." This is a cover-up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And the complaint goes on to say the President`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is a central figure in the effort, Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well. And that a quote "meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelensky of Ukraine would depend on whether he showed willingness to quote "play ball" on this plot on the issues aired by Giuliani himself."
Here is the Acting DNI Chief today about something very important which is should you believe the motivations of this whistleblower. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You don`t believe the whistleblower is a political hack, do you director?
JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE (DNI): I believe that - as I said before Mr. Chairman, I believe the whistleblower is operating in good faith.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: As promised, we bring in Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from the Judiciary Committee and the fifth ranking member of the House. Good evening to you on a busy night. Thank you for being here. I`ll be judicious with your time sir. #1, what changed today in your view?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, the release of the whistleblower complaint just confirmed the troubling nature of the allegations that have been unfolding over the last few days. It`s clear as they - that Donald Trump betrayed his oath of office, betrayed the American people and has engaged in serious acts of wrongdoing.
he very act of pressuring a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain is in and of itself outrageous. Now it appears that the White House has engaged in a cover-up, understanding the nature of the behavior and trying to hide it both from Congress and the American people.
MELBER: Let`s dig into that sir. The cover-up, as alleged and as deemed credible by Trump officials, includes a bunch of people we`re going to put up here, from the President and the Vice President to the Attorney General to Rudy Giuliani to other officials who are less known but still have important jobs, the Ambassador - former ambassador to Ukraine, people at the State Department. How many of these people do you think the Congress should subpoena to hear from?
JEFFRIES: Well, that`s a matter for Chairman Adam Schiff in the Intelligence Committee to determine. We have great confidence in what they are going to do in terms of uncovering the truth for the American people. They`re going to follow the facts, they`re going to apply to law, they`re going to be guided by the United States Constitution.
This is a serious matter. This is a question of our national security. It`s an issue of the integrity of our elections. This is about patriotism and we have to get to the bottom of it. Let me clear--
MELBER: I hear you. Let me ask you this. I hear you deferring to congressman Schiff. He has clearly handled this in a manner that has worked in the sense of inter branch conflict. In short order, he combined with, I guess, the colleagues and some would argue some of the pressure in the Senate as well, have pried out of the administration these important and many argue incriminating materials faster than some other investigations.
As you know there are reports that the Speaker is going to direct things a little bit away from the Judiciary Committee on which you serve and towards the Intelligence Committee. Do you think that is right? Do you think if there are articles of impeachment they will focus solely on this Ukraine issue?
JEFFRIES: Well that remains to be seen. But we`re going to keep the focus for the time being on this national security issue and the Ukraine scandal. The Speaker has made clear and she`s provided tremendous leadership over the last few days, as she has throughout her entire career, that we are operating under a impeachment umbrella with six Committees of jurisdiction.
But because of the nature - the urgent nature of the Ukraine scandal, the lead in terms of investigative fact-finding, will be the Intel Committee. But at the end of the process--
MELBER: And you`re part of the Speaker`s leadership, have you or the Speaker talked to chairman Nadler about that. Is everyone on one page here?
JEFFRIES: Everybody`s on the same page. In fact, I participated in the Judiciary Committee meeting led by Chairman Nadler yesterday where we all understand that the Intelligence Committee is taking a step forward.
But on the end of the process, the Intel Committee and the other Committees of jurisdiction, including the Oversight Committee and the Financial Services Committee, will make recommendations to the Judiciary Committee as to how to proceed. And then we`ll--
MELBER: Let`s - yes, let`s get into that.
JEFFRIES: --consider potential articles of impeachment.
MELBER: We`re talking about the whole enchilada here. We`re talking about the existential question of what the House does with the President. You`re saying the way it would work then is, this is confirmed that the Intel is taking the lead. Whatever they find here, they then send ultimately to Chairman Nadler and your Judiciary Committee.
And if you decide to move forward on articles of impeachment, they go from Intel the Judiciary to the House floor?
JEFFRIES: Yes. That would be regular order. And that`s consistent with the fact that the Intel Committee has jurisdiction over this issue. It involve a conversation between the President and a foreign leader as well as the attempted use of taxpayer dollars in terms of the hundreds of millions of dollars that had been allocated by the Congress to Ukraine and withheld.
This is a country that is under attack from Russia at this very moment. The President clearly wanted to use that aid in the sensitive position that Ukraine was in, in order to extract an investigation targeting Joe Biden and the Biden family for political gain. That all falls within the jurisdiction of the Intel Committee and that`s why the Intel Committee will be taking the lead because of this subject matter.
MELBER: Understood, and all very interesting, including you telling us a little bit about the meetings and the considerations. I have a tougher a question for you, sir. A lot of people are impressed with what you and the Speaker and Chairmanship Schiff are doing this week.
And you just laid out the urgent national security case, and yet the House is going to - then go on recess tomorrow. Do you really think that is consistent with the claim that this is a national security emergency? Is that a good idea? Should you and the Speaker rethink that stay at work on all this?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think two things are going to happen. One, that it`s important given the solemn and serious nature of what we have to do as it relates to the impeachment inquiry. That everyone should have an opportunity to go back home and talk to their constituents on the ground, in person in an intimate way to communicate the approach that we`ve taken.
At the same time the Intel Committee is going to proceed with hearings and investigative matters over that recess to continue to uncover the truth, to follow the facts, to present the evidence to the American people.
MELBER: So you don`t think you`re going to lose, shall we call it a momentum here?
JEFFRIES: Well the Intel Committee is going full steam ahead and I think that`s going to be most important. At the same time, we`ll be communicating in our districts to the American people why this is so important, why this is a national security concern, while we have taken this important step forward.
MELBER: Congressman Jeffries, always appreciate you taking the question sir.
JEFFRIES: Thank you very much Ari.
MELBER: Thank you. I want to turn briefly to the panel here. Rapid, one or two sentences, anything you thought based on what Jeffries said and where they`re headed.
BERGER: Yes. I mean, I think the importance of being laser focused in this inquiry cannot be overstated. I mean, they - you could potentially call 100 witnesses to try to shed light on all of the events here, and I just don`t think they have the benefit of that time.
KRISTOL: I don`t think they call - take a dozen or so who would know a lot. I mean, John Bolton and Dan Coats and Mike Pompeo--
MELBER: But leave Mueller report out of this?
KRISTOL: Yes. I think Ukraine is focus.
MELBER: Vince final word.
WARREN: Two things, if the UK Supreme Court justice Lady Hale were here she might tell Congress to go back to work. The second thing - the second thing, most importantly, is the - one of the key reasons why this is different than the Mueller. Is that we have a live document that is actually - that - and we haven`t even seen the unredacted transcript.
This is going to be something that the committees and the American people can look at and can see it, no matter what the spin is, no matter how it plays out. If the government comes forward and says, "Yes, we`ll turn over that information." Everybody`s going to see and judge. If they say no, and they allow for privilege, it`s going to raise an inference that there`s something to hide here. Either way, I think it`s a much more powerful subject matter.
MELBER: Vince Warren, Bill Kristol, and Berit Berger, experts, all of you thank you for your unique perspectives on this. Let me fit in a quick break.
We have so much tonight. The Republican response to the whistleblower complaint and what it means; A deeper dive into the apparent and alleged cover-up; And what legal exposure might face these Trump aides name checked in this new complaint. Also, revelations about how officials inside the government secretly ringing the alarm bells about this. I`m Ari Melber, and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Our continuing coverage of today`s explosive news. Now the whistleblower inside the Trump administration at the highest level, detailing what they call a pattern of behavior of abuse of office by both Donald Trump and a bunch of other top officials witnessing him, encourage foreign collusion in the next election in 2020.
Today members of the Intelligence Committee grilling the Acting Director about all of this, why the whistleblowers complaint wasn`t shared with Congress in the first place, which is required under the law. Now Republicans on that Committee were focused on another issue altogether. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Their latest information warfare operation against the President and their extraordinary ability to once again enlist the mainstream media in their campaign.
REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R-OH): Many innocent Americans are going to turn on their TV and the media is only going to show that section of what the Chairman had to say. Much like the Steele dossier, the allegations in the whistleblowers complaints are based on third hand mainstream media sources.
NUNES: Congratulations for surviving legal word-challenge charade today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Some of that is true. There are secondhand sources in here and some of that is not true, because we have the call notes that confirm parts the whistleblower complaint.
You also have some Republicans saying Trump`s conduct is troubling, while stopping short of much more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILL HURD (R-TEX): Let`s turn over every rock. Let`s investigate every lead. Would I have approached those conversations that way? Absolutely not.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Clearly, what we`ve seen from the transcript itself is deeply troubling--
REP. BEN SASSE (R-NE): Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there`s no there there. When there`s obviously lots that`s very troubling there. The administration ought not be attacking the whistleblower, as some talking points suggest they plan to do--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There is nuance within the congressional Republican leadership, but there are also many top Republicans who you`re going to see here flat-out denying any wrongdoing in what is a blinking red collusion plot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): And I don`t mind the President bring up the idea - maybe the guy was fired because of a conflict of interest.
REPORTER: But how was it not inappropriate that the President asked the President of another country to look into a political rival who`s running for election, possibly against if he wins primary next year?
GRAHAM: I don`t know what you looked at. I think it`s very appropriate for the President of the United States suggests that you got a corruption problem--
MCCARTHY: they`re talking about impeaching a sitting President that they have no crime for--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: At this stage no one knows whether this probe will lead to any charges or convictions. Impeachment, though, is a congressional decision. It does not require the trigger of a crime.
Now these new documents show that Trump and officials have been involved in things that, as our experts have been saying, could raise criminal exposure. And we have a legal expert as well as a Republican insider right here to get into it when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: The calls are coming from inside the House, inside the White House and inside the Trump administration, because it is a whistleblower who is a trump administration insider that has now fueled the impeachment push - 223 members of the House Democratic caucus now backing impeachment action.
Adam Schiff saying Trump has acted like a mafia, like shakedown. Trump`s inner circle also could be ensnared. We go now to our panelists tonight. As mentioned, I have John Flannery and Republican insider Mike Murphy, he`s advised Bush, Romney and McCain.
Mike good to see you, I haven`t seen you in a minute. I wonder what you think the right conservative position is here.
MIKE MURPHY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The President`s unfit. He`s clearly abused his office and broken his oath. And I think an impeachment investigation is totally appropriate.
Now, I can say that because I`m a conservative and that`s what I believe. But I`m not on the ballot, so I don`t wake up the middle of the night worried about Republican primary voters firing me, which has been the gag in the lot of the Republican of politicians` mouths.
Now, privately if you talk to Republicans about what they really believe there`s tremendous frustration with the President, both over what he`s done and also over the tough political situation they`re being put in here.
MELBER: Do you think there are Republicans on The hill who think his basically endorsement of a type of collusion for 2020 could hurt them? Mike?
MURPHY: Oh, yes. No, I think particularly in the Senate side most of these House guys are in safe districts were a bag of cement will win, if it`s got an hour of deal in it. We don`t really do a lot of swing congressional districts anymore.
But over on the Senate side, there`s a lot of concern. Now there are some dead-enders who are going to be with Trump till the end of time. But I would say several dozen members are quite concerned about where this will go, and that that`s the thing about impeachment.
Should it happen with legitimacy and facts behind it, which is how it looks now, we`re going to learn more. But it looks pretty bad and pretty legit. Then the Senators can`t answer the Trump question with an essay question. Well, I don`t like the tweets, but I like the judges. They got to vote up, no and up, down and go home. So it`s kind of a mark to market moment for them. And of course, they are politically extremely uncomfortable with it.
MELBER: John, we started the week with the White House fighting tooth and nail to keep all of this out of public view.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right.
MELBER: We hit - we`re not at the end of the week yet, and a bunch of its in public view. The notes showed Donald Trump asking for collusion help in a call. The whistleblower complaint is much broader. It has multiple points in time action and people. Do you see a conspiracy theory there or is it premature for that?
FLANNERY: Yes, it`s sort of like, I don`t know, witch caught, hunt over. I heard--
MELBER: Witch caught, hunt over, got it.
FLANNERY: I think that you`ve heard Rudy Giuliani say things like, "Oh, it`s just full of hearsay." Well, the hearsay that`s critical are the words out of the President`s mouth admitting to ding the act. Previously, in the Comey firing, he couldn`t prevent himself from saying that I wanted to fire him to stop the investigation.
So we always have him as the worst witness against himself. And combined with Rudy Giuliani statements it`s a powerful indictment of obstruction - we`re going to hide the telephone conversation. Then it`s obstruction of the report to Congress with, I don`t think the Director of National Intelligence really did so well. And I thought today we saw him basically trying to shift and so forth.
But he on the one hand, had conversations with the White House he shouldn`t hadn`t had and then with the Justice Department where Barr has been implicated in this and is apparently not recusing himself.
MELBER: We`re going to leave up on the screen, as you`re speaking, some of the people that Donald Trump himself implicated. Everyone remembers when he said to ask Michael Cohen and he ended up in jail. We`re not there yet. I`m very careful with the viewers about what we don`t know. But what is the significance, as we look at this, of the lawyers with Giuliani and the lawyer for the United States, Attorney General Barr.
FLANNERY: Well, in the case of Watergate there were lawyers on two sides. There were the straight investigators and there were the ones that were the defendants. And I think that Rudy`s been bidding to be in the latter category for some time. ` And it appears that we`re going to be wanting to see what Durham, the U.S. attorney - former U.S. attorney has been doing, going over to Europe as an arm of the Attorney General Barr who says, I haven`t had anything to do with this.
Well that`s not true, because he announced this investigation into the investigation--
FLANNERY: --which apparently is the very subject matter of the conversation.
MELBER: And he did that - I appreciate you reminding us that he did that and we`re coming off a couple weeks where the guy who took over for Comey, Mike, Andrew McCabe has his lawyers telling us in the public and the press they believed that he was targeted for prosecution. They think the grand jury met. They`ve been asked in DOJ to confirm or deny whether their attempt to indict him failed at the grand jury?
And the President today, Mike, is caught on tape saying, while whistleblowers not only could be illegally fired, which is why there`s a Whistleblower Protection Act, but maybe in the old days it was better when they - when much worse things happened to them.
FLANNERY: Yes. What we have learned - yes, I think the President--
MELBER: Let me go to John, that`s the Mike and then back to you John. Sorry.
MURPHY: Yes, President is cracking under the strain a little bit. I think the next chapter of this, which is going to drive an even crazier, is it`s clear from the whistleblowers complaint that we all got to read today that there was tremendous consternation among White House staffers in the national security area, that`s where the whistleblower heard about all this.
And they literally had to create a new secret file to put the notes of the phone call into, because they know the President broke the law and violated his oath of office. So this means there are people in White House to talk to--
MELBER: Yes, Mike, let`s pause on that.
MURPHY: --maybe more will come forward.
MELBER: Michael, explain what you`re--
MURPHY: fight that--
MELBER: Explain what you`re getting at, because again we just got this narrative today. So it`s still sinking in for folks. You`re referring - and I will remind folks. You worked for McCain and Romney, you are referring to the fact that we`re not talking about resistance, critics, whatever. You`re referring to the fact that the people who work for Trump, who signed onto his agenda in the room were so worried that what --?
MURPHY: That there was apparently conversations along the lines of what the hell did he just say on this call that they elevated the security clearance beyond what was necessary purely to protect the President from the act he committed, that captured in the notes from the call with the Ukrainian President.
There is even an implication in the whistleblowers` complaint that this had happened with other conversations. They have this procedure - this kind of clean up procedure, that`s the alleged cover-up. But there are people in the White House - and let me make a distinction.
The national security people working in the White House - and I know some of them, they are as patriots first, Trump agenda second, many of them. And it`s a highly professional world. They all know each other and clearly there`s tremendous consternation about this, which led to the whistleblower.
MURPHY: Which means two things, one, Congress is going to get a can opener and start trying to talk to those people. And second, Trump`s going to go on an internal witch-hunt against his own staff to find out who talked.
MELBER: John, we`re out of time, but you get a quick last word sir.
FLANNERY: Well, I think we should treat this like a one buy junk case. Meaning, a hand-to-hand transaction, a very short and brief. We have the evidence, we have good stuff, we have a timeline to worry about impeachment, we should get on it and we should close the whole thing down by Halloween and be trying this guy in in December.
MELBER: That reminds me - I`ve got to ask what will you be for Halloween, John?
FLANNERY: I thought I`d deal witch?
MURPHY: Not sure yet. I`m not sure yet.
MELBER: A safe political answer sir. Take a stand, I`m kidding.
MURPHY: I am a Republican. Thank you.
MELBER: John and Mike, thank you both. We`ll keep an eye on this and really interesting to get some of your insights, especially given the first-hand experience.
Fit in a quick break. Then the whistleblower revealing how far alleged corruption has spreading and contagion about Bill Barr. A former Trump insider who worked at the White House says work for a criminal and you become one.
MELBER: I want to go deeper now and tell you how this whistleblower complaint actually does something that almost never happens in real time. Usually you have to wait years for history books to take you inside the White House moment-by-moment in this kind of call.
With senior aides deeply concerned about what Trump was doing, others joining into what could be an alleged cover-up. A key piece of the puzzle could be these other witnesses. Look at how the whistleblower says more than half a dozen officials agreed Trump was colluding with the Ukrainian President to investigate a political rival, that`s part of the plot.
And that multiple officials recounted fact patterns consistent with one another - with each other. There are other staffers who were allegedly complicit. Senior White House officials trying to quote "lock down" the evidence of the call putting the transcript on a separate server-- sound familiar - to store classified information, meaning using the levers of security power to cover up this potential alleged crime.
From the White House official turn Trump critic Scaramucci saying, work for a criminal like Trump on this story and quote "you become one", which brings us to Bill Barr. You remember the four-page summary?
He`s also the person who`s not investigating this complaint when it first came into the DOJ, which he runs, and the whistleblower may give context to why, alleging that Barr "Appears to be involved as well".
Meanwhile, today, Acting DNI Chief Maguire talked about how that complaint got to DOJ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAGUIRE: I have consulted with the White House Counsel and eventually we also consulted with the Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel.
SCHIFF: Do you think it`s appropriate that you go to a department run by someone who`s the subject of the complaint to get advice - or who is a subject of the complaint or implicated in the complaint - for advice as to whether you should provide that complaint to Congress?
MAGUIRE: Sir, I have to work with what I`ve got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I have to work with what I`ve got. What he`s got is a President who hollowed out the leadership of the FBI over a different collusion probe, which is why that short answer may be one of the most revealing parts of days hearing.
Now, when we come back, I`m going to do something pretty special for. You we`re going to go inside what it means to be on a Trump 2020 reelection campaign with this collusion crisis circling around. My cross-exam when we come back.
MELBER: Welcome back, the Trump 2020 campaign has certainly been in news this week and now I`m joined by Marc Lotter, who has served in top roles at the Trump White House in the last campaign and his Communications Director for Trump 2020. Thanks for joining me.
MARC LOTTER, SENIOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL: It`s good to be back, Ari.
MELBER: Let`s get something squared away off the top. Corey Lewandowski, who ran the 2016 campaign has admitted, as you know he lies to the press, and has - he says no obligation to be honest in these kind of interviews. "Yes" or "No" do you share that position tonight?
LOTTER: I`m a former journalist Ari. I started my career in journalism and I`m going to do my best to provide the facts that as I know them to you.
MELBER: So you disagree with Corey Lewandowski`s claim there?
LOTTER: I can`t speak for Corey. I can just tell you how I feel and that I`m going to make sure that I can give you the best information that I have.
MELBER: Right. So he`s a Trump official as well, he made that claim under oath. You`re saying you`re doing it a different way. I just want to know our viewers should know do you agree with Lewandowski or you`re trying to be honest tonight?
LOTTER: I`m going to be - I`m going to give you the facts as I know them regardless of what Corey said, that`s what I go into every interview and try to do.
MELBER: Got you. I wanted to get that squared away. Take a listen to the President caught on tape today in what was described as a private setting, speaking about this whistleblower. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Whoever the hell it is, they`re almost a spy. I want to know who`s the person who gave the whistleblower - who is the person that gave the whistleblower the information? Because that`s close to a spy.
You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right? The spies and the treason. We used to handle it little differently than we do now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: is the President referencing executing a whistleblower as a traitor there?
LOTTER: Yes, I think he`s probably referring to having the criminal justice system play itself out, because as we know, even someone who is accused of spying or something has the right to going through the justice system and we would let them ferret that out and decide whatever--
MELBER: But as you know--
LOTTER: --going to be appropriate.
MELBER: As you know the justice system actually requires that the whistleblower complaint be turned over, they be anonymous and protected. So what do you think in a sentence or two, he`s saying there?
LOTTER: I think he`s saying that he`s tired of having the so-called Deep State leaking information about confidential phone calls between the President of the United States and a foreign leader, and we have seen this happen over and over again. And they have taken steps to address it.
MELBER: But this is not a leak, you do acknowledge this was under the law - the proscribed way you provide a concern and Trump`s own officials then provided it to Congress. Or you`re saying they shouldn`t have provided it today?
LOTTER: What I`m saying is that that whistleblower protection act that we`re referring to doesn`t involve the President of the United States. And even this whistleblower, I think it`s more of a gossip column.
When you look at the entire report it`s all I heard, I was told, I overheard, other people told me. There are no first-hand accounts of anything in that report, including the fact that we`ve now got the transcript to be able to compare it through.
MELBER: So you disagree. I mean, McGuire under oath today - the Intel Chief said the person was acting a good-faith. You`re calling it gossip.
LOTTER: When you read that report, you find no first-hand information. It`s all second, third hand information about what other people may have overheard and transmitted to other people. I don`t find anything that`s actually in there that is first-hand knowledge.
And while the law will protect this person as a whistleblower, I`m not saying that we still shouldn`t call out someone who is leaking confidential information in order to embarrass the President of United States.
MELBER: Well, they`re not leaking, because they sent it within the administration to the intelligence agencies, that`s not a leak. That stays in administration, as you know, who sent it to Congress is the Trump administration. So to the extent that you`re arguing it`s a leak, that is a leak of Trump officials at the highest levels - McGuire and others who turned it over.
But this brings us to the heart of it. You`re working on Trump 2020. There`s a lot of people in America who support Donald Trump and a lot of people, as you know, who oppose Donald Trump.
Can you help us understand, as people get ready for this race, why after years of no collusion claims your campaign now has the White House basically admitting Donald Trump colluded with Ukraine to go after Biden? I wonder is the President now basically running from no collusion - is he now running on pro-collusion?
LOTTER: No I actually think he`s branding against corruption. What we`ve seen in - that was happening in the Ukraine was they meddled in the 2016 election. We`ve also seen actions by a sitting Vice President of the United States - the former vice President United States with his son receiving $50,000 a month from a Ukrainian company--
MELBER: Let me--
LOTTER: --when he had no experience--
MELBER: Let me hang it up there, because I know we want to stick to the question at hand. If you think there is anything worth investigating, why are you asking a corrupt - in the words of Donald Trump, a corrupt foreign government to do it?
LOTTER: Well, this is an administration - a new administration that was elected on a platform of getting rid of the corruption. So what I think you heard in that transcript or read in that transcript was the President of the United States talking about making sure they stick with their investigations into corruption.
MELBER: But if it`s important why not--
LOTTER: You saw him refer to their meddling--
MELBER: --handle it in America? I mean, this is something a lot of people are wondering. If it`s so important, why not handle it in America?
LOTTER: Well, the corruption and the meddling in the 2016 election, which Ukraine did happened in Ukraine. So--
MELBER: Right, but America we--
LOTTER: --to root that out.
MELBER: The President has a Justice Department, why not order it here? I mean, I`ll give you one reason. I`ll let you give us your view. One reason is that Donald Trump has learned that if he asked people at the DOJ to do that, that itself would be illegal.
LOTTER: I think what we have to do is get to the bottom, not only of the Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election, but also if there was any impropriety by the former Vice President and his son getting paid by a Ukrainian company with no experience, getting a $1.5 billion investment--
MELBER: Look, I`m not going to do - we`re not going to expend our time doing that. I`m asking you and you haven`t answered, why if this is important, the President`s not ordering it here in America. I gave one reason for it. I gave you a chance the answer it.
The other thing I want to ask you about since you`re on Trump 2020. Have you dealt with any foreign governments and would you take help from a foreign government, sir?
LOTTER: I have not dealt with any foreign governments, while I`ve been in this role. And what I would tell you is that what we need to do is find out whether there was election meddling in 2016. It needs to stop as a relates to Ukraine and others, the President has talked about--
MELBER: So if a foreign government came in offered you help or money, would you refuse it?
LOTTER: That is not something that under the law can be allowed to happen.
MELBER: Is that an answer?
LOTTER: It`s against the law for foreign - for a United States campaign to work with a with a foreign government.
MELBER: And so would you do that?
LOTTER: I would not violate the law, no.
MELBER: So how does it work for you when you have your President that you`re seeking reelection, he is seeking to do that. So you`re telling me today you`re not looking for foreign help, but the Ukraine call notes - even before you get to the whistleblower, have the President saying do me a favor go after a domestic rival Joe Biden.
LOTTER: That is not what the transcript says and you know better than that Ari. He says do me a favor, look into corruption, look into the incidents that were detailed in the 2016 election meddling, which I know many on this network have said we`ve got to do more--
MELBER: Let me read to you again and it`s important that we deal with the facts. Let me read to you from the administration of Donald Trump describing what this is quote "The President wanted allegations of corruption involving an American official - that`s Biden - to be investigated by Ukraine. Do me a favor investigate Biden."
Why are you denying that, when we all can see out here in the light of day - I know we started interview with you saying - unlike Lewandowski you said you weren`t going to lie in this interview. I`m reading to you from what the White House put out this week currently.
LOTTER: And I`ll reiterate to you what the actual phone call said. It talked about looking into Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election and it also talked about investigating the former Vice President of the United States--
MELBER: Right, investigating Joe Biden as a rival, so that is the position- -
LOTTER: --the President of the United States.
MELBER: You have a President running for re-election who has now admitted he`s basically open to collusion, seeking it. But you`re telling me tonight, you`re not going to do that, because you disagree with it its collusion.
LOTTER: --against the law.
MELBER: Let me play for you before I let you go.
LOTTER: Are you saying the former elected official was running
MELBER: --the President`s multiple statements, which you`re familiar with, inviting foreign help, that`s now such an issue on your 2020 campaign. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Russia if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e- mails that are missing.
If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I`d want to hear it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump says I would like you to do us a favor, though, asking for Ukraine to investigate matters involving the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s inquiry. Later the President also asks Zelensky to look into Joe Biden and his son Hunter--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I give you the final word sir. How do you run for re-election with a President who`s gone from, as asked, no collusion to what we just saw with their own eyes, welcoming the help and collusion of multiple foreign governments on the record now.
LOTTER: I think it`s absolutely important that as it relates to Ukraine that just because the former Vice President is running for President, his actions as Vice President deserve to be investigated. If there was any impropriety in his son receiving money. It should be fully explored.
MELBER: So the President ran on investigating Hillary last time and you`re admitting here tonight, you`re running on investigating Biden this time.
LOTTER: I think any actions by a former office holder in their official capacity, if it there is some allegation of impropriety, it would need to be explored.
MELBER: Marc Lotter from Trump 2020, always appreciate you taking the questions sir.
LOTTER: Thank you.
MELBER: We have a lot more. We`ll be right back.
MELBER: Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff is saying he will bring in witnesses next week even while the House is on recess. Meanwhile, a democrat in the Judiciary Committee Hakeem Jeffries made a little bit of news of his own right here on THE BEAT tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Do you think if there are articles of impeachment they will focus solely on this Ukraine issue?
JEFFRIES: Well that remains to be seen. Because of the nature - the urgent nature of the Ukraine scandal, the lead in terms of investigative fact- finding, will be the Intel Committee.
MELBER: And if you decide to move forward on articles of impeachment, they go from Intel the Judiciary to the House floor?
JEFFRIES: Yes. That would be regular order. And that`s consistent with the fact that the Intel Committee has jurisdiction over this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: As the impeachment caucus heats up, a lot of talk about who`s in the lead and there you see Intel busy.
One more programming note before I get out of here. We`re excited what`s going to happen this Saturday in Central Park. It`s the Annual Global Citizen Festival with performances live by Queen and Adam Lambert, Pharrell, the great Alicia Keys, the rock band OneRepublic, singer and songwriter H.E.R. and the legendary Carole King.
I will be co-hosting along with our colleagues, Joy Reid and Stephanie Ruhle. It starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern for MSNBC`s special live coverage. Also I should mention, I`m going to talk to Adam Lambert, we may be able to show some of that right here on THE BEAT tomorrow night as well.
So that does it for us. A lot of news, "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END