State Dept. IG holds "Urgent" briefing on Cap Hill. TRANSCRIPT: 10/2/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Glenn Kirschner, Mark Thompson, Kelly Magsamen,Natasha Bertrand, David Frum, John Flannery

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  And another interesting aspect of the conversation, I said to him how would you be with the idea of the White House releasing rough transcripts of your conversations with President Trump.

And he said, look, I`ll be relaxed about that and even suggested that the Kremlin had offered to help the White House to release transcripts of the conversations in Helsinki. So we`ll see if that happens.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, we shall see. Keir Simmons, great work in Moscow. Thank you for getting up so early in the morning, let alone late.

That`s all we have for tonight. We will be back with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY tomorrow. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts 17 seconds late.

Ari, my apologies.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: All good. Interesting stuff. Thank you, Chuck. And we begin "THE BEAT" with breaking news.

The Trump administration under fire on many fronts tonight. House Democrats just marched out of this unusual briefing by Trump officials, blasting his propaganda aimed at diverting this impeachment probe.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Pompeo, now openly admits he was on Trump`s collusion call. And while Congress is technically on recess today showed more starkly than ever how things are changing with this scene.

Speaker Pelosi, you see here, walking out to the lectern, showing she`s in this fight. She`s in the lead. And she`s making clear who the Democrats are positioning as the top prosecutor in any case against Trump. Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff as his Committee that did with so many other Democrats and Trump critics have not to date, and it was Schiff who joined Pelosi in this unified front today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We do place ourselves in a time of urgency on the threat to the Constitution.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Any effort by the Secretary, by the President or anyone else to interfere will be considered as evidence of obstruction.

PELOSI: We see the actions of this President being an assault on the Constitution. We had no choice but to go forward.

SCHIFF: we`re not fooling around here--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: A stark warning to a President who`s long claimed he welcomes impeachment that it would help him politically. Well, today, the President did not seem to be celebrating the march towards this as some kind of political boost. He wasn`t taunting House Democrats to finish the job, which is what someone would say if they wanted to be impeached.

No, the President personally attacked Chairman Schiff and advocated - and I say this explicitly, he advocated two separate potential crimes in his remarks today; the advocacy of exposing the whistleblower against federal law and the advocacy of a treason investigation of a member of the opposition party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don`t call him "Shifty Schiff" for nothing. He`s a shifty, dishonest guy. He made up my conversation. He actually made it up. It should be criminal. It should be treasonous. Frankly, they should look at him for treason.

This country has to find out who that person was, because that person is a spy. But you people should be ashamed of yourself.

Okay, I think I`ve answered most of your questions. What do you think? Yes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He did not answer most the questions. In fact, at a press conference today, a wire reporter in the room confronted the President over ducking the core question of whether Donald Trump sought illegal help to target Joe Biden.

More evidence of the fact that we`ve noted on this show since this whole story broke open. The President has gone from two years of no collusion to being in public pro-collusion, admitting that was the request on Ukraine call and declining basic opportunities to deny it. Today, he trashed Biden without denying that he requested that collusion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Look, Biden and his son are stone cold crooked and you know it--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Welcome to 2020. Trump insists, I guess, anyone running against him is crooked. While Speaker Pelosi says the real news here is that Donald Trump is scared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: I think the President knows the argument that can be made against him and he`s scared and so he`s trying to divert attention from that to we`re standing in the way of legislation--

(END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Now, that`s just some of the top news on this huge story right now. And we haven`t even gotten to Joe Biden`s new response or the pressure on Giuliani to say whether he even is Donald Trump`s lawyer or to some Trump cabinet officials like Rick Perry who say they will be more cooperative with Congress than other parts of Trump`s government.

Those are stories breaking today, as well as this "New York Times" report crossing the wire. With new details on the lengths the whistleblower went to get incriminating information to Congress. So let`s take a moment to mark where we are in this story right now.

Ukraine scandal has clearly upended the Trump administration unlike anything we`ve seen since the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The Democrats are now marching towards something that Pelosi had long resisted. And I got to tell you, as we try to make sense of all this, just watching her today, it is clear now a vote on impeaching Trump looks more likely.

Pelosi is narrowing the options of any kind of DC off-ramp when she publicly names the President an urgent threat to the Constitution, and when her caucus is prepping these new impeachment subpoenas from count`em three different committees today and setting new deadlines for the end of this week.

And then there is the President`s response. You need to know this he`s not denying the core evidence that he sought foreign help to try to criminally take out a domestic rival. He stands accused of abusing his power to target domestic opponents, and responds by threatening to target his domestic opponents.

We repeat that because we are in grave territory. One of the most consequential things the President is now doing is that he faces potential impeachment for criminally targeting a top domestic rival Joe Biden and he is responding right now today by threatening to criminally target another domestic rival Adam Schiff, who was of course, leading one of the probes into Trump targeting Biden.

This is not a drill. This is a test in real-time right now of our constitutional system of government. And remember, many thought the test would come during the Mueller probe, because Trump ousted two FBI directors and attempted to obstruct the probe.

But here`s the thing about why that went down differently. It`s something that you know as a news viewer about Bob Mueller. He sticks to the book. He doesn`t lean into testing our system of government. He didn`t demand a President sit for an interview and he didn`t recommend impeachment as other prosecutors investigating Presidents have done. And so that test, it never came.

And legal experts say that was a mark of fairness and restraint by Mueller. But the Ukraine call notes showed Donald Trump didn`t see it that way. We know from his own White House he told the Ukraine prime minister the day after Mueller testified that Mueller gave a "incompetent and poor performance."

Trump didn`t wait a week or a month. It was the very next day that he hatched this new collusion plot. And unlike Mueller, whatever you think of Donald Trump, whether you like him or not, and he has his fans many of them across the country, something we know about him that people agree on Donald Trump does lean into testing this system of government. He`s doing it right now and that makes what comes next very, very significant.

I turn now to Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner and Mark Thompson, host of the "Make it Plane" podcast.

Congresswoman, when you see the President blatantly respond to accusations that he targeted domestic rivals, with the targeting of other domestic rivals, including your colleague Adam Schiff, do you see this as approaching a constitutional crisis?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL): Not only that, but I actually worry when the President targets somebody that Adam Schiff has gotten death threats. He puts people in danger, including potentially the whistleblower, who he certainly wants to disclose and disclaim.

So it`s - on many fronts it is really dangerous and serious. But - all right, when you were going through it, it`s not only trying to undercut a--

MELBER: Let me - I`m going to let you continue. But just on the news of that reference you made. Is that something you learned from Congressman Schiff or his staff themselves?

SCHAKOWSKY: I heard - I absolutely heard it from - yes, not from Adam directly. But I know that that is actually a fact that there - he has received death threats. This isn`t the first time when the President has targeted people that that`s the outcome.

MELBER: I ask you that, because as you know, we`re dealing with very serious matters. The Congressman made reference to it as well. So for your response take a listen to how he put this, what he viewed as the President`s incitement of violence today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: Let`s not make any mistake here. The President wants to make this all about the whistleblower and suggest people that come forward with evidence of his wrongdoing are somehow treasonous and should be treated as traitors and spies. This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses. It`s an incitement of violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Congressman?

SCHAKOWSKY: Yes. I mean, the President does that. He doesn`t hesitate to do that. The kind of tweets that he put out time after time today, they were - I don`t know if there were quite a dozen of them, but it seemed like that, just degrading and using profane language and going after people.

And my hope is that the American people look at that and say this is the way the President of the United States talks and this is the kind of activity that he would encourage going after people? And I think it is right to say that he incites violence. After all he`s said that it could be a civil war if he were impeached.

What is he talking about? And traitors, and spies, that you know what happens to them? Clearly, he was talking about capital murder.

MELBER: Glenn?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, Ari, I loved your opening segment, because you hit the nail right on the head and you called out what`s going on here. The President being accused of criminally targeting opponents is defending himself by criminally targeting opponents. And if I can riff on that for a minute--

MELBER: Sure.

KIRSCHNER: He is also, I believe, not just normalizing crime, but he`s trying to convert confessions to exculpation. When he in the first instance commits, I think, what we all recognize as the mother of all campaign finance violations by holding hostage congressionally appropriated funds that are designed and destined to go to Ukraine to protect Ukraine from unlawful Russian aggression.

He wrongfully uses it as a bargaining chip and says, "Oh, I know this money`s supposed to go to you. I know you to buy more Javelin Missiles to protect yourself and your people. But I have a favor I need though." And then he goes on TV, Ari, and he brags about how that confession is a perfect conversation and a beautiful conversation.

Let me just finish up by saying. It really is to take his hypothetical as if he goes out on the 5th Avenue shoot somebody and then brags that, whoa this was a perfect shooting, got him right through the heart, didn`t even suffer. This was a perfect beautiful shooting on 5th Avenue. He`s turned everything on its head.

MELBER: You both laid out in the seriousness of it, and I want to play a moment here, Mark, for you when you think about what is being done through what is left of the President`s exposure to an investigative questioning. I mentioned Mueller didn`t question him. They`ve shut down a lot of the briefings. He only does certain types of media. But there is still a system.

And so you see in these questions and answers that he will not even deny, what is according to Democrats, a potentially impeachable offense. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: The question, sir, was what did you want President Zelensky to do about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter?

TRUMP: Are you talking to me?

REPORTER: Yes, it was just a follow-up of what I just asked you, sir.

TRUMP: Listen, you ready? We have the President of Finland, ask him a question. I`ve given you a long answer. Ask question this gentleman a question. Don`t be rude.

REPORTER: No sir, I don`t want to be rude. I just wanted you to have a chance to answer the question that I asked you.

TRUMP: I`ve answered everything. It`s a whole hoax and you know who`s playing into the hoax? People like you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: As mentioned, he used to say no collusion, what does it tell you that this time for his strategy? He`s not going that far.

REV. MARK THOMPSON, HOST, "MAKE IT PLAIN": No. And, unfortunately, I think he felt vindicated by Mueller and got some notion that what he did, which many of us still think was some form of collusion, was OK, so he can do the same thing in this Ukraine scenario.

He is looking more and more like Richard Nixon. But at least Nixon`s excuse was - was that he was drunk a lot of the times. Trump didn`t drink.

The other thing he said in that press conference today is very important. What we got was a readout or shall we say a summary of the call, which he has admitted to. But today he said, the great stenographer is word-for- word, comma for comma. So is there a verbatim transcript or recording of this call or others?

Now, he`s admitted to this collusion. But if you cop to a crime like this one there - and Glenn prosecute criminals so he knows this better than me. If you cop to one thing, what you are coping to might be something even worse.

So is he admitting that there`s a transcript or audio of this full call, if not other calls, where he`s carrying out some of the same behavior or worse? And that further makes - it exposes him in any ongoing investigation. Sure he`s scared.

And I`ll say one other things, I`ll go out on a limb and say while it may not look like Republican elected officials will do, as they did with Nixon and turn on him. Let`s be clear, this is a man who took over a party - and many of them resented him at first. He wasn`t the person that was chosen to be their nominee.

He took over the party, ran down all of their - dozen or more candidates and has been running it ever since. Some of these Republican elected officials, including Senators, have their own political ambition, Ari. So if it gets too tight, they may back away from themselves.

MELBER: Yes. And that goes to why we`re in a different place than we were two weeks ago. And I don`t know that - I wouldn`t have predicted this. I`m not in that business. I don`t know that any of our expert panelists would have known, because the facts evolve.

And so what the Senate may or may not do later, I think, is up to the Senate. Congresswoman, we began the broadcast talking about the test of the system. You mentioned that you know on good authority, your assertion that Congressman Schiff has faced death threats.

My question to you on the larger questions facing this President - and Speaker Pelosi was out at work today, while you are all are technically in recess is, do you see anything that Donald Trump is doing now as a potential for additional articles of impeachment? If he is threatening, as you say, members of Congress with prosecution, if he is contributing, as congressman Schiff says, to inciting violence? Could that itself add to the list?

SCHAKOWSKY: It could. But don`t you, Ari, want to know what are the other conversations in that secret - were they were hidden on a server? Conversations he probably had with Vladimir Putin, maybe other foreign leaders where he was trying to make similar deals. Clearly, this conversation was one that worried the - his - the people around him enough that they wanted to squirrel away. They wanted to hide. They wanted to cover up this conversation.

We think that this server has a lot of others and I think we need to see them and this will just reinforce the notion that Donald Trump will sacrifice our national security in order to go after an opponent and that he will threaten any opponent who questions him. And I think all of those are impeachable offenses.

MELBER: Congresswoman Schakowsky, thank you. Glenn and Mark, thanks for joining me. We have a lot more on this show, including news that has just crossed the wire since I came on the air, "The Washington Post" with a story about Donald Trump directly involving Mike Pence in the Ukraine scandal. Pence`s aides pushing back. Was he planning for impeachment?

Mike Pompeo admitting he was on the Ukraine call. We have a special guest who actually classified these calls for two different Presidents. And signs of pressure getting to Trump with all kinds of attacks. Plus, a lot of you reacted to that interview we had with Michael Moore and some of his provocative statements about 2020.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOORE: Joe Biden is this year`s Hillary. Joe Biden is not going to excite the base to get out there and vote--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Joe Biden making news with his own with his own new comments, we`ll show you that as well later tonight. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Breaking news from "The Washington Post". President Trump used - that`s the word in "The Post" article, Vice President Pence in the Ukraine plot. Now, aides to Pence are pushing back within this story saying, it wasn`t in on the incriminating part. But here`s the reporting.

Donald Trump repeatedly involved and used Pence to exert pressure, told Pence not to attend the inauguration of the new Ukrainian President. So this is raising a ton of questions, not only for Pence, but also whether Donald Trump was planning ahead to try to spread around the guilt if you`d look at the story that way.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Pompeo has been denying that he knew anything about the collusion call with Ukraine. Well, now a different story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: What do you know about those conversations?

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: So you just gave me a report about an I.C. whistle-blower complaint, none of which I`ve seen--

REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, do you have any comment on reports you were on the July 25th call with President Zelensky?

POMPEO: As for was I on the phone call? I was on the phone call. The phone call was in the context of, now, I guess, I`ve been the Secretary of State for coming on a year and a half--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Three stories on three different days. And then there`s this new Reuters reporting, the State Department employees were contacted directly by lawmakers or their staff and basically told not to talk to their own State Department Council. House Democrats are warning Pompeo to "stop intimidating witnesses" to "protect Trump" and any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress, they say is illegal, and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Joining me on all of this right now is Natasha Bertrand, National Security Correspondent for POLITICO; and Kelly Magsamen, who served on the National Security Council staff for two Presidents, coordinating U.S. policy on Iran and is writing about how you classify calls for two Presidents, saying the way the White House is doing it under Trump is alarming. Good evening to both of you.

Natasha, a lot of stories breaking right now. I wonder what you think of "The Washington Post" detailing what looks like a deliberate and long-term effort by President Trump to involve Mike Pence in this plot. At one point this story, which we just got it, broken our hour, it literally says the President quote "used Pence" to tell Ukraine Prime Minister that U.S. aid was being withheld, while demanding more aggressive action.

NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICO, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ari, it was always pretty unbelievable to think that the Vice President would have no knowledge of what was going on internally. And now what we`re learning from "The Washington Post" is that one of his top aides was actually on that July 25th call, as well as the Secretary of State, of course, Mike Pompeo.

When Mike Pence went to Poland last - in August I believe it was, and met with Zelensky, he - obviously, at that moment we - we already had reported that the aid was being withheld from Ukraine. It was already reported first by POLITICO actually that the President had told his national security team to essentially hold up this $250 million security assistance aid to Ukraine.

We didn`t know exactly why at that moment that it was happening. But it was certainly the backdrop of Pence`s meeting with Zelensky. And the big question, of course, that everyone had was, well, is Mike Pence going to bring this up with Zelensky, is this because of you know what had been on in the background up until that point, which was all of Giuliani`s efforts to dig up dirt on Biden.

And we never really got a full comprehensive readout of their meeting together except for the press conference that Mike Pence gave with Zelensky in which he said we fully support Ukraine, et cetera, et cetera. So--

MELBER: What would be Donald Trump`s motivation to try to get Pence directly involved in this? Yes, it`s a good question. It`s possible that he wanted to make it seem like it wasn`t just him, like it wasn`t just his initiative, his own desire to essentially blackmail the Ukrainians into giving him this dirt on a political rival.

But it`s also just, I think, a matter of process that Mike Pence was - his aides would be on this call and potentially he just got sucked into this like so many other officials in the White House.

MELBER: Kelly, do you see this as believable that Mike Pence`s aides were on a call that apparently set off alarm bells in the White House and led to a view of the security system, as you as you`ve written about? That there was a White House counsel involved, that Rudy Giuliani was popping up in "The New York Times" and elsewhere talking about Ukraine. And Mike Pence was just laser-focused and out of the loop on everything?

KELLY MAGSAMEN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL STAFF: Well, it`s not unusual for various National Security Council staff and Office of the Vice President`s staff to participate and listening in on these phone calls, so that`s not an unusual.

What is unusual is how this call was handled, how the records of this call were handled and that is very abnormal from what is normal. And I`m--

MELBER: Yes. I mean, I guess, what I`m asking you is do you think it`s believable that Mike Pence didn`t know anything about it? Why have your aide on the call and "The Post" article says in the next day`s daily briefing he would have a readout of the call. And Rudy Giuliani is running around town and Mike Pence doesn`t know anything.

MAGSAMEN: It`s very unlikely that if he hadn`t aide on the call that the Vice President was not aware of the content of the call.

MELBER: Spoken with precision. Let me give you a chance to tell us a little bit about what you`ve been writing about. This Pence story is blowing up, it`s fascinating and especially in the context of impeachment. But you`ve been giving us a little bit of a broader look at how this stuff works and how you say it`s not working in the Trump administration, explain.

MAGSAMEN: Yes. So I think it`s really important for the American people to understand that the rules of classification and the systems to protect that classification serve only to protect the national security interests of the United States. They are not there to protect the President from embarrassing information - politically embarrassing information. And certainly, they are not there to protect criminal wrongdoing.

So the way this call was handled, to me it was raising a ton of alarm bells. First of all, these calls are normally classified at levels no more than secret. I think is really - most - what most foreign calls are classified at, and certainly not at the code word top-secret level, which is a system and level of classification for our most secret intelligence programs.

So it tells me that there`s some - it was clear that the National Security Council or the National Security Adviser, maybe the White House lawyers, decided that this call`s content was sensitive enough and they didn`t want to get out, that they tried to bury it on this separate server.

MELBER: You`re basically saying they were using the normal rules and that`s what makes more evidence of a cover-up?

MAGSAMEN: Yes, I mean, there`s ways to restrict Presidential phone calls. They`re actually not widely distributed in the first place. The National Security Adviser could have restricted the - where it was sent to, whether the State Department got copies et cetera, et cetera. There was no national security reason that I can come up with to put it on this very, very secure separate server.

MELBER: It`s really interesting to get your expertise on this as someone who`s been there and done it and giving us your straight nonpartisan take.

Before we go, Natasha, we did that - we did the breaking news on Mike Pence. Do you have time to discuss Vladimir Putin`s chilling stand-up act? Do you have that time for us?

BERTRAND: I do.

MELBER: All right, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMMONS: is Russia, as Robert Mueller alleged, attempting to influence the 2020 elections in the United States?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: I`ll tell you in a secret: Yes, we will definitely intervene. It`s a secret, so that everybody can laugh and so we`ll go big. But don`t tell anyone, please. Please don`t tell anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It`s real. Your thoughts Natasha?

BERTRAND: I mean, at least he`s honest. Right? This is completely Putin`s ammo. He`s a master troll and I think that`s part of the reason why he gets along with our President so well. Neither of them takes anything that the U.S. intelligence community says seriously. And especially when it comes to Russia`s interference in the 2016 election, it doesn`t seem as though Putin has gotten any kind of real message from President Trump to deter him from doing it again in 2020 and beyond.

MELBER: And these are stories that you have been crossing both from Russia to Ukraine to Mueller to Putin responding to all of that. So it`s great to get your expertise as well. Natasha Bertrand, Kelly Magsamen, thank you both.

MAGSAMEN: OK.

BERTRAND: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: I`m going to fit in our shortest break on THE BEAT, 30 seconds, and then we come back with this breaking news rocking the White House and why Mike Pence`s aides are suddenly talking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Breaking news this hour right now from "The Washington Post", and it looks like an impeachment related blockbuster. An apparent effort by President Trump to directly involve and to quote The Post "Use Vice President Mike Pence" in this now exposed plot to pressure Ukraine to target Joe Biden.

Now the reporting includes Pence`s aides saying they didn`t know what Trump was up to. But that there were instructions to Pence to inform Ukraine that this key military aid at the center of the impeachment probe was being withheld and calling for tougher anti-corruption measures.

Now, to what Pence aides have been telling, they say, well, he didn`t know Trump was pursuing dirt on Joe Biden. But as I was just discussing on this breaking story with our experts, a Pence aide was also on the infamous Ukraine call where all of that was made clear.

Donald Trump`s language, meanwhile in the past day, has turned quite menacing, calling the impeachment inquiry a coup, a reference to military takeovers. Using profanity that I`m not going to say and accusing Adam Schiff of maybe treason.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I saw Schiff trying to go 15 - you know, we call him "Shifty Schiff." We don`t call him "Shifty Schiff" for nothing. He`s a shifty, dishonest guy.

There`s an expression: He couldn`t carry his blank strap. I won`t say it because they`ll say it was so terrible to say. But that guy couldn`t carry his blank strap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined now by a former speechwriter in the George W. Bush White House, David Frum, who dealt with foreign policy issues and has a keen eye on the Trump White House. His book "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic."

David, thanks for joining me. This is the kind of news cycle where I want to hear what you`re thinking. I assume you`ve had a chance to take a look at this "Washington Post" report. Your read on what it means.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR THE ATLANTIC: Well, two things. First, it`s so weird that Vice President Pence did not know that Donald Trump was seeking dirt on the Biden`s with Rudy Giuliani`s aid, because people who read "The New York Times" have known that story since March.

What we`ve learned in the last sort of - is the final and most terrible smoking gun clue. But the basic outline of the story has been known for months. So it`s kind of amazing that Mike Pence didn`t know it.

And indeed, Donald Trump is not so reckless as to let his Vice President remain clean. It`s going to be very important to President Trump in this harrowing circumstance facing him, to make sure that the Vice President is as dirty as possible, to make sure that their interests are aligned, as they say in the--

MELBER: So, look, let`s let you build on that point, because viewers know - I`ve had Marc Lotter from the Trump campaign on last week. We had Trump officials back on. They will say you`re being unfair and getting ahead of the facts.

I ask you what facts and evidence do you have for the view that Donald Trump may have had knowledge that what he was doing was wrong. And to the extent that if anyone might say it disqualifies him, he wanted to spread it around to disqualify others.

FRUM: Well, you know, one of the things that happens with Trump administration that where none of us are quite used to is the complete absence of subterfuge. There is nothing furtive about this.

Normally, when people take bribes in government, they meet in underground parking lots, they look around, they move the envelope, the money back and forth. They make sure the police aren`t looking.

When Donald Trump wants to bribe he opens a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, rolls a red carpet down to the street, puts his name in big brass on the front door and welcomes the world. We, who are used to people doing wrong things with some twinge of guilt are unready to deal with someone who does it so flagrantly.

So when Donald Trump has been pressing Ukraine to give him assistance to pursue this crazy theory he has that Seth Rich was the real hacker and not the Russian state, he`s been doing that in public. He`s been doing that for two years. So what we didn`t know was he directly asked the President of Ukraine to do this.

We know that because of a transcript or a summary from his own White House. We have the confession.

MELBER: Yes.

FRUM: People are now saying - people around Trump are now saying, well, gee we don`t know that the protocol for obtaining the confession met every single regulatory rule that we would like to impose, but the confession is there.

MELBER: Yes. You lay that out pretty clearly. I appreciate that. And David I wonder what you think of whether we are seeing the beginning of a new, what we`re familiar, especially with papers like "The Post" and "The Times", the way they`ve reported out things, the Friday night, the late stories.

I wonder whether we`re getting into a new chapter, which is, reporting that relates to people in high places in Washington discussing the prospect of a Senate trial of the President, because this to me reads like an impeachment style story. Not just a foreign policy story or a Mueller probe story, it reads like that.

And to your point, I pressed you a little bit to back yourself up. Now I actually have some evidence that we just pulled in our archive that does agree with part of your theory, which is the President, before this story broke in this hour, before people were talking about well does Pence have the same Ukraine problem the President has? President blatantly, publicly urging reporters go ask Pence about what he did. Take a look.

FRUM: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think you should ask for VP Pence`s conversation, because he had a couple of conversations also. I could save you a lot of time. They were all perfect--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: How does that look given this "Post" story tonight?

FRUM: Well, that that looks like Donald Trump knows he`s in trouble. Historical contrast, in the last days of Watergate when President Nixon was in trouble, Vice President Ford who came - and remember was not Nixon`s running-mate in `68 or `72. He stepped in when Spiro Agnew was forced to resign because of accusations of proven criminality and bribe-taking.

Gerald Ford got on a plane and spent those - his time as Vice President fundraising for Republicans as far away from Washington as possible. He had a clean record in Congress and he kept his record clean as Vice President. But something else happened that was important.

Which is, Republicans and Democrats alike, knew that Ford`s integrity was an important resource for the nation. And that it was a good thing for everybody that Ford being well away from Washington, so that when Nixon did go there was someone untainted who could step in to Nixon`s place. And that was a real mercy in the last time we had a completed impeachment crisis.

This time the problem we`re going to have is we don`t have a clean - when the Vice President would step into the President shoes, should he be removed? But we don`t have someone who`s untainted who can command the confidence--

MELBER: And you argue that`s deliberately Trump`s plan?

FRUM: Well, I think that`s just a confluence of events. I mean, Vice President Pence early - he ran with Trump, which Ford did not do with Nixon.

MELBER: Yes.

FRUM: And Pence also saw his path to influence within the administration and sticking as close to - as possible to the President.

MELBER: And final thing before I fit in a break. David, I got asked the other news intrigue here. When you read this story, does it feel like people around Pence are trying to burnish him better, a little different than Ford, but trying to do that? Are we there yet or is this just "The Post" doggedly getting information?

FRUM: They have to be thinking about the future, not just impeachment, what if for some reason Donald health`s - Donald Trump`s health were to deteriorate between now and 2020 and Donald Trump would discover that he couldn`t run for some reason.

Pence has to be thinking do what - we want to make a small change, because he`s threatened with the possibility that nervous Republicans may say let`s sweep the whole ticket and run someone entirely new.

MELBER: And I can only imagine how this is playing inside the White House. David, as the President reads, the person that he thinks he gave his national political career to, Mike Pence, has people who are identified as Pence aides telling "The Washington Post" hey we`re not involved in whatever this Ukraine thing is. I mean, this is quite a story.

David, thank you so much sir.

FRUM: Thank you.

MELBER: We have a lot coming up, including a key lawyer from the Clinton impeachment defense who says there is a way to tell when you hit an impeachment tipping point. And later Joe Biden, speaking out, reaction to Michael Moore. A whole lot of stuff we going to show you later in the hour right here on "THE BEAT."

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think you should ask for VP Pence`s conversation, because he had a couple of conversations also. I could save you a lot of time. They were all perfect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Donald Trump had publicly roped Mike Pence into this Ukraine scandal. Tonight "The Washington Post" with a blockbuster reporting, Trump involved pence in these efforts to pressure Ukraine and Pence`s aides saying he was unaware, had anything to do with dirt on Bidens.

I`m joined now by federal prosecutor John Flannery, who I should mention assisted Democrats during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, a lot of experience here. Good evening to you sir.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Good evening.

MELBER: I want to get to several things with you, starting with the breaking news. What does it tell you that "The Washington Post" is reporting this out tonight?

FLANNERY: What it tells us is that the corruption in the West Wing extends from the President perhaps to the Vice President. The denial, denial we get from everybody is discouraging. It can`t be given much weight. And how could you not know doing the things he was doing, that he didn`t know what it was about.

He quite understood and there were conversations apparently in the White House and I assume he`s sitting in some corner of the room in some of those meetings, and they`re talking about why they want Zelensky to help them out with the Presidential election the next year. And Pence can`t claim to be disinterested. He wanted to be the Vice President again.

MELBER: Yes, you lay it out, and that`s big. And it comes as we`re seeing, what by my estimation as just one student of the current era, is a much faster accelerated timetable for people to start turning in public.

Off the top of my head, John, the Attorney General is now suddenly angry about all this. Mike Pence is suddenly out of the loop about all this. Rick Perry is suddenly cooperating with Congress. He will cooperate, he says, on the impeachment probe unlike others. Rudy Giuliani, obviously, has been Rudy Giuliani - to save time, I`ll leave it at that.

You take it together, and what took in the Mueller probe months and sometimes over a year, by my count, in two weeks we`re seeing people go a lot of different directions. My question to you as an experienced congressional investigator, why?

FLANNERY: What I think we`re having is the rats are leaving the ship. And you overlook Pompeo, who`s--

MELBER: Now you and Donald Trump are both calling people rats.

FLANNERY: Well, there were mice in the press room at the White House. Even they were - even they were smarter to get out of the way--

MELBER: Solid reference for folks who didn`t hear there was a mouse who apparently dropped. Go ahead sir.

FLANNERY: Yes. Well, what I think you see is that they`re beginning to see that this is different than any other earlier disclosure. You have the President saying don`t worry what it says. But what it basically says is, notwithstanding what some say, there is a quid pro quo.

I`m holding back - suppose $491 million that you need for your defense against Russia, but I have a precondition before we`re going to give it to you so you can buy the Javelins you need. And what that condition is, is I want you open an investigation on my Presidential opponent in the next election. So how can anybody deny they know about that? And the interesting thing about the state IG today that I thought was fascinating was, he comes up and everybody saying what is he doing?

One of the requirements in the subpoena to Rudy Giuliani is what information do you have on Ivanovic whom he made a campaign to get rid of to clear the way for him to do what he wanted to do with the incoming President of Ukraine.

MELBER: You`re talking about the people over there that they wanted to go after Biden?

FLANNERY: Exactly, exactly.

MELBER: Yes. Well, look, let me let me ask you as we broaden out, because we came on the air tonight before the Pence story broke, speaking to a member of Congress who told us solemnly - Jan Schakowsky that she knows Adam Schiff has been facing death threats. That they view it is caused by President Trump.

Adam Schiff talked and citing violence. Speaker Pelosi says we are facing a threat to the Constitution. And the wider context is, whether the President of United States is abusing his office to criminally target rivals? Something we have seen in other countries, in Ukraine among other places, in Russia, which Putin does.

We`ve had dissidents from Russia on this show who did a hard time because they dared run against Putin. And the question is how literal do we take it? And I say that, because it`s my job to follow the facts and not getting ahead of it.

And yet, how literally do we take it, is not only was the request from Ukraine there and not only is Adam Schiff being threatened with a treason investigation. The only question is if Donald Trump can find someone to do it.

But I want to put up on the screen the other context here, which is the FBI director who replaced Comey and after being fired for what was reportedly insufficient loyalty. That former acting FBI director is awaiting any decision over whether DOJ is indicting him right here in America, and the judge is pushing back.

For your analysis I want to read this. This is a judge saying, "The government`s going to have to make a call." That`s a reference for the Trump administration. "If it doesn`t", he says, "I`m going to start ordering the release of information. In our society, our public has a right to know what`s going on."

Unusual judicial pushback for a very controversial case where the argument is that Bill Barr`s Justice Department is doing what Trump was asking Ukraine to do. What does that all mean? how does that figure into this?

FLANNERY: Well the short form is, are you prosecuting an innocent man for political purposes? And the - one of the requests in the Justice Department is the question, isn`t it a fact that you presented this to a grand jury and they wouldn`t indict. Now that`s very unusual, runaway grand jury.

I know of one case in which a Senator once went before the grand jury and they did not indict. And there appears to be a similar thing here. What the judge is saying is, I`m going to release this investor this information because there is no investigation. If you don`t by November the 15th either form an indictment or not, and if you`re not, I`m going to release the information. That`s critical.

And then we`ll then we`ll have a good idea whether these prosecutors were making crime for political purposes against McCabe.

MELBER: It is a it is a potential scandal in plain sight against the backdrop of all this. We`re going to stay on that story. We`re to do with John Flannery and I think we`ll be seeing a lot of you on THE BEAT during these times. Thank you, sir.

FLANNERY: Thank you, sir.

MELBER: I want to tell viewers Hillary Clinton is live tonight on Rachel Maddow 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up on THE BEAT, progressives debating how do you attack Donald Trump`s collusion claims when he`s now admitting to it. Michael Moore has advice for the Democrats. He did predict Donald Trump`s win, and he has comments about Joe Biden that relates to Biden`s response today. We`re going to show all that to you, up next.

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MELBER: Joe Biden making news today with new comments about the Ukraine scandal and I`m going to show you that in this segment. But, first, I want to give you some other context to something I`ve heard a lot about from you guys.

Michael Moore making waves on THE BEAT and talking about Democrats and impeachment.

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MOORE: And any time the Democrats make a decision because it`s right to do it, it`s morally right to do it, they will find millions of people flocking to the polls to support that.

Not only do so many Americans now - so many millions want the committee to investigate. Their - the higher number is for impeach and remove.

When that question is asked, Trump is on the run. They need to chase him down.

He was trying to affect the election next year.

MELBER: Right.

MOORE: There is no greater sin - other than actually attacking our country - how could anyone stand for this? This is - this must - they must act and act quickly.

We are in a dangerous situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Moore is one of the few people in public space who ever predicted Trump would win in 2016. And he had his own take on Biden last night.

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MOORE: Joe Biden is this year`s Hillary. Joe Biden is not going to excite the base to get out there and vote. He`s afraid to be out there.

MELBER: This, as you say, baseless attack by Trump has still works - has worked in a way on Joe Biden?

MOORE: It`s worked a little bit in the sense that it`s kept him from being fighting Joe.

When they attack your family and you`re all trying to be all Kumbaya about this, you`ve got to put the gloves on and you`ve got to go after him. And Biden should be out there every single day on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And Democrats have indeed debating who is best positioned to put those gloves on. Well, Joe Biden was speaking to NBC`s Craig Melvin today about a lot of this. Take a look at how he`s handling it. New remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is way beyond anything that I quite frankly thought he would do. I think we should just focus on, he`s the issue. Nobody has ever asserted that I did anything wrong except he, and what`s that fellow`s name, "Rudy Hoody"?

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MELBER: You know what Donald Trump sounds like these days? That`s one of the people running to replace him, and that`s the current nature of the rebuttal.

Now when we come back we have one more thing I want to tell you in this crazy wild week.

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MELBER: I want to share one more thing from my interview with musician Swizz Beatz. He took me inside his creative process, including the way Jay- Z comes up with lyrics without ever writing them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SWIZZ BEATZ, AMERICAN HIP-HOP ARTIST: I`ve never seen him - I`ve recently just seen a pen in Jay`s hand, and it wasn`t a write a lyric.

MELBER: So when Jay does his double and triple entendres, that`s all stored up there as well?

BEATZ: By the time he come in the studio, he is already like 10 steps ahead. Even if you play a beat - I think he has like a library in his head, I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You can learn more about that song writing process in the interview at msnbc.com/mavericks. That`s msnbc.com/mavericks.

Thanks as always, for watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber.  "HARDBALL" is up next. 

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