CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Fortunately, everyone is fine after the incident at O`Hare, will the rest of us be able to say.
That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back Monday with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. If its Sunday its "MEET THE PRESS" on NBC. We`re going to take another deep dive into President Trump`s pressuring of Ukraine and what Congress` response may say about our democracy going forward. Among by guests, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
"THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you. It is Friday night in the middle of this impeachment clash and we are tracking a whirlwind of breaking news.
President Trump under fire as Democrats are drafting impeachment subpoenas tonight, amidst a breaking story about another Trump administration insider flagging a potential crime, which spells new trouble tonight for Bill Barr`s DOJ.
If that wasn`t enough, there our smoking gun text messages, some calling for them - some are calling them the Nixon tapes for our encrypted age. You take this all together, the headline in Washington tonight is the evidence against the President is mounting and there are signs that it`s getting to him. I`m going to show you that in a moment.
But here`s the context. Democrats pressuring the White House over evidence requests and warning that refusal will itself become evidence of obstruction; Donald Trump State Department defying a deadline to turn over documents to impeachment investigations; and tonight, the first formal move against Mike Pence. Three House Committees demanding documents for him.
There are signs President Trump doesn`t think he`s found a winning defense, because he keeps changing his defense. Consider that we now can count at least four different conflicting responses which include the President`s latest today.
He`s literally gone from hiding and denying this foreign collusion against Biden to admitting it, to asking other countries to get in on it, as some kind of bizarro super confession mind game. So that`s three different stories up until today when this news has clobbered the White House and led to a fourth.
The news, facts first, are Donald Trump`s own diplomats writing out their evidence of this incriminating secret plot at the center of the impeachment probe, texting about how the Ukraine President needed to convince Trump he would investigate along Trump`s line of requests.
And then another Trump insider rebuking this very plot, writing, "are we now saying that security assistance and this White House meeting are conditioned on investigations." So there was some internal push back for this extortion plot. And perhaps sensing it could all go public someday, another Trump official in these now released texts writes out, "I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
These rebukes have brought out Donald Trump`s fourth storyline. Today, he`s backing off that normalization attempt to ask China to help with the collusion. And instead, falsely claiming those texts are somehow helpful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats - unfortunately, they have the votes. They could vote very easily. Even though most of them - many of them don`t believe they should do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Trump playing down the explosive stuff, while admitting that Democrats have him on the run. So take it all together here, and let me explain what else you need to know. Diplomats involved in this scandal knew or suspected that Donald Trump was abusing the power of his office for political gain.
And we have this literal image of how it`s playing for Donald Trump from the White House. NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell snaps a photo of the President`s hand here. The stiff arm to the press, as he tried to get away from a question on a day, when clearly he could barely handle that public appearance.
I begin with a diplomat we have come to know and rely on in these times, Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Good evening, sir.
AMB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U. S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Thanks for having me, Ari.
MELBER: Absolutely. These texts from the diplomats, as I`m emphasizing in our context of reporting here, have changed the President`s response. I don`t report on everything he`s saying, obviously, strictly to take at face value for its accuracy. But what does it mean to you that he does feel the need to deny these?
MCFAUL: Because those texts are just so damning, Ari. I mean, it just spells out in lots of detail what the play was. If we just have the text of the call - right - the transcript. You might say, "Well, that`s just Donald Trump. He`s always saying crazy things. Giuliani probably called him right before then no big deal."
What these texts show from people that are appointees of the Trump administration, by the way, is that they were plotting this play. They were, before the call, after the call flying to Ukraine, jamming the Ukrainians to try to get them to put it on the record. It shows that there was a quid pro quo and these were the operatives trying to make that transaction happen.
MELBER: Take a listen to another important point here the way the President really doesn`t have any mastery, any sense of how he wants to handle basic questions. This was on, of course the targeting, which is, according to Democrats impeachable. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that don`t involve your political opponents --?
TRUMP: You know, we would have to look--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We would have to look, Ambassador--
MELBER: It seems to make it worse each day and this is sort of closing the second news week where we`ve obviously seen him - and I don`t just mean news, but in Washington, in government seen him really on the run.
MCFAUL: Well, I watched that interview. I guess that`s what it`s called, the press conference. I don`t know what we call it anymore. He just kept looping and looping. I am fighting corruption all over the world. This is not about politics. When in fact there`s no evidence to support that claim.
He`s never been interested in fighting corruption in Ukraine or any other country. And when you just single out the son of your opponent - a relative of your electoral opponent, that is not an anti-corruption campaign. In fact, Ari, that reminds me of what Putin did to his main political opponent, a guy named Alexei Navalny.
Under the rubric allegedly of fighting corruption he put Alexei Navalny`s brother in jail. We all know what that was. That was not the rule of law. That was an autocratic way to squelch his opponent. This is exactly what President Trump is doing. And I find it absurd. Who believes that when he just yells and yells and yells, well, I`m fighting corruption and I don`t care about politics. I think the American people are smarter than that.
MELBER: Yes. And I would say to your point, even his own supporters would consider him politically shrewd, politically obsessed, constantly engaging in politicking from the White House. So it is almost a trollish type of rebuttal. That isn`t really designed to appeal to anyone on the on the substance.
Stay with me I want to bring in for more on our legal perspective, our friend and legal eagle, Maya Wiley who worked as a civil prosecutor in the SDNY, former counsel to Mayor New York. I want to play for you - and we - as we look at all the witnesses, some are fact witnesses that`s just like in the Mueller probe. They were around things and they have to decide when and if they`ll tell the truth.
And others aren`t just people who worked for Donald Trump, who have to decide whether they want to get in on cover-ups or not, which as you know, may have legal consequences. I have a update on another story on that with Bill Barr coming up in this hour.
Here is one of what I`m calling that latter group. Someone who is deciding you want to be on this cover-up or not. Take a look at a former guest on THE BEAT and economic advisor the President, Larry Kudlow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: You have to ask President about the issue of China looking at other corruption matters. I can`t speak to that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you could assure us, Larry, that that won`t be part of the discussions next week.
KUDLOW: Well, Jonathan, in some sense I can`t assure you of anything--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That might be his best answer, but he surely didn`t give the kind of defense that the President prefers from his televised aides.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Yes, because it`s getting hot up in there and that`s my legal version. Is - you know, if you have some of what we have seen in the news off late, which are clear indications, not just of the President doing things that our campaign finance crimes and putting the national security at risk.
But conversations between envoys of the President that indicate their understanding that he`s doing - he`s engaged in a quid pro quo, say with Ukraine, you have to be thinking about what conversations have I had in the past, what text messages might exist. Let me be careful about my answers. Let me also be careful, because I don`t know what the President is going to say to me tonight or tomorrow or what my instructions are going to be.
So I`m finding it astounding that he simply didn`t say, I will be acquitting the job I was assigned in accordance with the law and the rules and that`s my commitment. And then doing that--
WILEY: --in fact, doing that. And to your point, Ari, in any instance in which she was asked to do something that might be part of either a cover-up or something that was untoward, then he should make the right decision that any Americans should make.
MELBER: And ambassador McFaul, on the on the way the diplomats have been roped into this, I want to read more from these texts. This is a after Ukraine is basically being pressed and then they`re wanting a White House visit and we have this written text.
"Once we have a date, we`ll call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of U.S. Ukraine relationship, including Burisma and election meddling in investigations." And the Trump official, who since left the administration, Volker says "Sounds great."
Walk us through in your experience how abnormal that is? And how many people privy to this plot inside the government would know you`re not supposed to do that and indeed you might be roped into a criminal conspiracy if you keep doing that?
MCFAUL: Well, first, that particular text just saddens me, because I know Mr. Volker. I know Ambassador Volker. I know Ambassador Taylor. I don`t know Ambassador Sondland, but he`s the person that just gave money to Trump and got his job as a result of that. He`s the other one involved here.
With respect to that text, I`ve never seen anything like it. Of course, this is extraordinary, wrong, disappointing. I understand that Kurt was in charge of trying to bring peace to the Donbas and he knows that he needs the Zelensky-Trump meeting to release military assistance, which is a good foreign policy objective, which I support.
But he crossed a line in doing this and underscores - I mean, he - maybe helped us to underscore - I was going to use the word "conspiracy", but that`s not a good word. You guys are the legal experts, I`m not. He unmasked that this was a big play.
There is a hero here, and I want to make sure we also underscore that, that`s Ambassador Taylor. He gets called out to do temporary duty, so he`s out in Kiev after they fired the previous Ambassador, remember that.
By the way, appointed by President Bush, when he originally served in Kiev and he is in these texts saying "Hey, wait a minute guys this is wrong." And at one point he says, "If we`re doing this transaction, I`m leaving. I quit." We should celebrate him. But his position underscores just how wrong the other two ambassadors were to be involved in this scam.
MELBER: And my I also want to play Senator Marco Rubio who was one of the people who we know claimed to have issues with Trump, because he criticized him so much, and here he was making again. We`re getting to phantasmagorical places in some of the attempts at a defense. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you think it`s OK for President Trump to ask China to launch an investigation of Joe Biden and Hunter Biden?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I don`t know that that`s a real request or him just needling the press, knowing that you guys are going to get outraged by it. He plays it like a violin and everyone falls right into, that`s not a real request.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It`s not real. What you`re seeing is not real. It`s not happening.
WILEY: Sounded pretty real to me, unless all of us are suffering from some form of national hallucination. Because we saw what we saw, we heard what we heard. That is what I call spin.
WILEY: That is simply spin. That is the kind of narrative you try to wrap around something, because you think you have a hook that`s plausible, rather than looking at what the law is and what the law says.
MELBER: And briefly a Senator can say what they want. Does that type of defense carry the day of people are in testimony situations?
WILEY: No anyone who is being asked to testify about whatever conversations were happening with China - we`ve had some news reporting that there was a June phone call with China where Trump did not just mention Biden, but even started talking about the prospects of Elizabeth Warren to a foreign leader.
So those two things put together, makes Marco Rubio`s statement less credible, if that`s what happens. But the point is, anyone who has knowledge--
WILEY: --who`s asked to testify, which probably not Marco Rubio himself, but there are people who have knowledge. And they have to be making a calculation right now, to your point, about what side of history and what side of the law are they going to sit on.
MELBER: Yes. And we`re going to stay on those facts, because the text messages and the other contemporaneous materials suggest how real this was. And this is on a day where, as we`re going to report more in this hour, Ukraine is announcing investigations that follow what the Trump administration wanted.
If you`re worried about the foreign meddling and the investigation of rivals in 2020, it`s here, it`s now, it`s real, as serious as a heart attack.
Ambassador McFaul, thank you as always. Maya, stay with me, because I want to bring you in on another story.
Coming up a whole new report we haven`t hit yet. The CIA`s own lawyer, under the Trump administration, making what`s reported as a criminal referral on the Ukraine plot to Bill Barr`s Justice Department, which of course, curiously announced they didn`t see any crime here. We`re tracing that down tonight.
And Ukraine appears to obey Trump`s wishes. As mentioned, now they`re opening a review that gets right into the heart of this Biden probe that Trump wanted.
And later, no matter what happens, there is an election coming. What do candidates do? And specifically right now the Democrats who are being targeted, running against an incumbent President who is already trying to make sure it`s not a level playing field.
Then a new investigation tonight sparked by another whistleblower inside the administration. If it sounds like we have a lot of had, that is because we do. We`ll be back right after this break. I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news. The CIA`s top lawyer made a criminal referral on this Ukraine plot to the Justice Department, which has curiously announced, they didn`t see any crime here, without even beginning an investigation.
This is NBC news exclusive. The CIA`s general counsel, a Trump appointee, making what she considered this criminal referral in a phone call about this matter to the Department of Justice that means that she was concerned a potential crime had been committed and would need investigation.
AG Barr also in the loop and aware of the conversation according to NBC`s reporting, but the Justice Department already has decided in the middle of all of this to close that case without going forward on what you do often in a referral, which is investigate the facts.
I`m joined now on this story by David Rothkopf, a national security expert and former editor of "Foreign Policy" magazine. He`s the author of "Traitor: The Case against Donald J. Trump"; and back with us attorney Maya Wiley.
David, this seems like a big story for several reasons. One off the top of my head, which you don`t need to be a lawyer to know, is the CIA does a lot of stuff that`s near the line, off the books. They don`t do a lot of calling to DOJ about the day to day. So when the CIA, of all places says, this is so concerning, potentially over the line, that it should be investigated as a crime. What does that tell you?
DAVID ROTHKOPF, FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT: Well, it tells you it`s a serious case. And of course, it`s not just a serious case. The CIA knew it was a case that involved the President. And so when the top lawyer at the CIA picks up the phone and calls up the Justice Department and says we think a crime has taken place there. The least they would expect is that it would be taken seriously.
But, of course, in this Justice Department, which views itself, thanks to the arrival of Attorney General Barr, as the President`s attorneys rather than the Department of Justice to serve the laws and people of the United States. What they try to do is they bury these things.
And I think one of the most serious aspects of this is that it`s part of a pattern. It`s part of a pattern of cases against the President or those close to him disappearing. Cases that we heard about during the Mueller investigation, for example, that we thought were pending and have evaporated. This Justice Department is not pursuing justice, it`s protecting the President.
MELBER: Maya, your view when we already had something else that was unusual, which was in the very early stages of this before any fact-finding had been done. The DOJ rushed out this sort of conclusion that was backwards. There could have been no crime, so we`re not going to start investigating, not really usually how they start appro.
WILEY: Especially when there`s a statute that says this whistleblower complaint should be shared with Congress and you as the Department of Justice prevent that from happening.
My position is quite clear, and I`ve written about it. I think William Barr has earned himself an impeachment inquiry. He has become a fact witness at minimum, which means he shouldn`t be able to have any decision-making authority over anything that`s happening around any of these issues within the department.
He has created the perception that he will not serve the people of the country. He will instead be the defense attorney for the President. And this is really significant, because now we have to Trump appointed attorneys, who thankfully, are doing exactly what their jobs are. They are looking at facts. Looking at them in relationship to the law and making independent judgments about whether or not they should be taken seriously and investigated.
Where that has come now twice to a sharp and screeching halt is in the halls of the Department of Justice. And from what we know, William bar has been, at minimum, aware and in at least in one instance since potentially actively involved.
So when I say impeachment inquiry, I do mean inquiry. But to me, just like in our earlier conversation, William Barr has created the impression that he has crossed the line.
MELBER: I think, it`s all - a quite severe. Both my panelists stay on a lot of these stories which involves technical security intricacy. We try to add in all the best experts we can.
And I`m thrilled to tell you, by phone, on this late-breaking story Robert Deitz. He is a former senior counselor to the CIA Director, also in a similar role that I was describing as this lawyer at CIA, he was general counsel to the National Security Agency. Thanks for jumping on the line.
ROBERT DEITZ, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE NSA (via telephone): Sure. No, absolutely, it`s a pleasure.
MELBER: What does it mean to you that the CIA lawyer viewed this as a criminal referral and the DOJ responded at the way it did?
DEITZ (via telephone): Well, it`s really surprising. The general counsel of CIA is a very senior, experienced lawyer who read some facts and did the exactly correct thing. She referred it to the Department of Justice.
It`s kind of interesting. The Department of Justice apparently took a very narrow, kind of pinched view of the complaint, and looked at it in a very narrow way and said "Nope, no, problem here" and dismissed it. That`s not the way proper prosecution works.
What you do is start with the facts. And OK maybe the crime isn`t - doesn`t involve this particular statute, it may involve some other statute. But you don`t sort of look at it through - in this very narrow way and move on.
MELBER: Yes. In your tenure, ballpark, how many criminal referrals did you make?
DEITZ (via telephone): Not that many - probably three or four and the fact is, they went to DOJ, they were investigated. And often they would call back to me and say "We`ve seen this, what about that." So in other words there would be communication--
MELBER: So three or four - I mean, just to slow down, because all my panelists - you all know so much, let`s just slowdown from the fire hose. The thing that the CIA phoned in on the Ukraine plot is the kind of thing that you`re saying very rarely ever happens--
DEITZ (via telephone): Correct.
MELBER: And that`s the thing that the DOJ, you`re saying, in a very unusual manner - even though it was super rare according to this reporting, just didn`t look into it all.
DEITZ (via telephone): No, I mean, it almost seems as though DOJ were like a bar exam examiner who says to the applicant, "No you cited the wrong statute." I mean, that`s nonsense. That`s not the way investigations take place.
MELBER: Robert Deitz, there`s a breaking story, and we were thrilled to get you to jump on the phone, and I think we`ll be calling you again. So try to pick up on the first ring the way these stories are coming ahead us. Thank you, sir. The panel stays.
DEITZ (via telephone): I appreciate.
MELBER: We have more breaking news. It was just handed to me. You are looking at a Friday night subpoena, Speaker Pelosi, clearly showing that they are working on this recess. Maya, this is something that was threatened. It is addressed to Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff. It is - I`ll just read, as we just got it.
"Pursuant to the House of Representatives` impeachment inquiry, we are transmitting a subpoena compelling you to produce the documents set forth in this accompanying schedule, tight deadline of October 18th."
When you look at this and when you look at what is happening, it is clear that whatever Donald Trump and other Republicans are trying to do to say we`re going to taunt you. You need to hold another - whole floor vote. You need to do other things. That`s being rejected. They`re moving full steam ahead. What happens next?
WILEY: Well, what happens next is we see whether the White House and whether this administration is going to continue to obstruct Congress. What we have also heard and what we know is if they continue to, what the House will do is consider that additional article of impeachment, because obstruction of Congress is impeachable in and of itself.
This administration has taken a position that is almost it is unheard of, which is - literally suggests that the Congress has virtually no oversight authority on anything, and that`s a very, very dangerous precedent to set. Normally that would be negotiated.
I think what part of what we`re hearing from the House is, you`ve demonstrated to us that you are not going to cooperate or pay attention to the Constitution, so we will play hardball right on back. We will not give you a lot of time. And if you continue to obstruct we`ll consider just adding articles, we may not go to court.
MELBER: Yes, it`s striking to see this here on a Friday night. We already knew there`s a lot going on. Panel stays with me. I want to bring in Rick Wilson, who has served as a Republican strategist, worked on several campaigns, including for Georgia H. W. Bush and was a Presidential appointee to the Defense Department. So comes at this from a lot of different angles.
And has spoken out on record, in contrast to some of your GOP colleagues over the years, people you know quite well, about your view of this President. Bringing you into this conversation let`s walk through what`s happening at this very moment.
I`m going to hold up again the brand-new subpoena here has - it will go here. It has the signatures here of the three your three key committee members, Schiff, Cummings and Engel. This is the foreign policy piece.
As you know what we`re seeing here is the Democrats making good on a threat that the Cummings and others made earlier this week, if we don`t get the stuff, you get hit with a subpoena. They`re moving fast.
And it`s basically the Foreign Policy and Oversight Committees, Rick, doing this. And then eventually if they do the impeachment thing they`ll hand it back to Nadler, Judiciary. What does it tell you that the Democrats are moving with such alacrity?
RICK WILSON, GOP POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It tells me the Democrats aren`t watching the Fox News version of this story. They are focused on the legal merits of what has happened here. They`re focused on the actual underpinnings of an impeachment investigation. They`re taking it seriously. They`ve got the pedal to the metal right now.
And I think that it means a lot that they`re not playing Donald Trump`s game. They`re calling his bluff on this thing. And I think they`re putting themselves in a frame where they`re going to be able to use inherent contempt to start compelling some of this testimony. They`re not going to let Trump run out the clock by going to court on every single thing.
They should be pursuing both parallels - both tracks in parallel, but they`re not playing the game here that Trump wants them to play on this. And they recognize that they`ve got a lot of smoking gun sitting here and they`re going to pursue them.
MELBER: Do you think they are approaching this White House in a fundamentally different way than they have over the last two years?
WILSON: It feels a lot different, Ari. We`re going to see how - we`re going to see if they actually will start holding people to account, and start causing some pain. Because the Lewandowski thing - Lewandowski hearing, I think, gave the White House a false sense of confidence. But that came of course just before the Ukraine news started to break. And I think we`re in a very different political landscape right now and one that advantages the Democrats in this equation.
ROTHKOPF: Well, I think that this is a different situation. I think, you now have polls showing that something like - today`s poll showed 50 percent of Americans support impeachment versus 39 who don`t. That`s extraordinary. That`s almost three times what Nixon saw before his impeachment trial started. It`s roughly at the level Nixon was at a few weeks before he resigned from office.
So what we`ve got here is a situation where the mood in the country is dramatically different from what it was just a couple of weeks ago. And I think the Congress essentially has the political wind at its back at the moment, but also an avalanche of facts.
And even if the White House doesn`t cooperate, you have in these text messages and the transcript the White House gave, and a host of other areas, very clear evidence of a crime. And so they will be able to move on that with or without the cooperation of the White House.
MELBER: And, Rick, I`m curious about the role of logic in all this. I hate to be all journalists, lawyer about it. I know we have a lot of speeches and a lot of cynical talk about how nothing matters. This seems to be another area a lot of things do matter.
The facts, as assembled, and credibly presented mattered when the whistleblower submitted them. The CIA lawyer looked at information and it mattered and made this criminal referral to DOJ. That may have been mishandled. It`s too early to judge. I`ve reported on what was different and suspicious about it and our experts have weighed in. But that information is coming out, it seems to matter.
And so my question to you, to sound naive is, is it hurting the White House that they`ve ended this week in a completely illogical contradiction of the President admitting collusion, saying there`s nothing to see here, asking other governments to get in on it, while also stonewalling so much on the basic details that they`re hit with this new subpoena tonight. Do you think in some way that logical contradiction can hurt them?
WILSON: I do, Ari. I mean, look, Ari, remember five years ago on Monday when the whistleblower was fake news. It didn`t exist. It was a lie or second or third-hand news. And then the President has gone out almost every day since then and repeated the same request that the whistleblower said he made about using American political power to extort foreign governments in order to do political favors for him.
And today, expanding it further and further and bringing China into the mix, and using all the levers and tools of the White House in open view, in broad daylight, daring the Congress not to exercise their constitutional prerogative at this point to go ahead and hold him to account.
So I think that their idea that they can live in a bubble where only that particular audience that loves Donald Trump exists is mistaken. And eventually the law - the wheel grinds long, but fine and - when it comes to these sort of things. And I think they`ve bought a lot of trouble for themselves this week.
MELBER: And what`s that like a farm ref - what`s the wheel - what is the wheel grinding, grain?
WILSON: The wheel grinds grain. It grinds long, but fine.
MELBER: Long but fine. And does that--
WILSON: I was going to throw a rap reference, Ari--
MELBER: No, I`m good with faming. I just - when I hear something, I want to make sure I`m understanding it, so that`s like a - and that makes for a better a better loaf of bread.
MELBER: David? Are you hungry?
ROTHKOPF: Yes. Yes it makes for better loaf of bread, Ari. You got that exactly right.
MELBER: David speaking to me like a mildly disappointed uncle, which is fair, that`s totally fair. Maya?
WILEY: I just think we need Rick Wilson`s lyric--
MELBER: Well, don`t put Rick on the spot. He could play how he wants to play.
WILEY: Rick put it in evidence.
WILSON: Is that 99 problems and Ukraine is one.
MELBER: Fair. Maya, I want to tie it all together here in all seriousness, which is, the obstruction as the Democrats put it - the resistance as the White House puts it. What Rick says about theologic, and the heat and getting out of the bubble, there is a reference that I`m going to make, not just because Rick went to the grain.
But there is one of the crack commandments that applies, never get high on your own supply.
WILSON: On your own supply.
MELBER: On your own supply. Right?
MELBER: Yes. And what Rick is actually saying is very real, which is, if your supply has become a political bubble of propaganda, which really starts with some of what Rudy Giuliani was saying that Trump`s own appointees and officials said this is conspiracy, we got to stop it. And goes all the way out to thinking how everything`s going to play well. It`s not playing well.
Is there an actual cognitive error above and beyond what Democrats say are impeachable criminal errors?
MELBER: Rick, briefly - final word?
WILSON: Oh, sorry, sorry, I thought you were talking - well, I think that the errors and the and the fundamental problems that they`re facing, they`re going to keep accreting, they`re going to keep building up one on the other. And so you`re not going to end up in a situation where they can just BS their way out of it every day. And say, well, Sean Hannity says it`s not true.
WILEY: And they should remember, so when Bill Clinton was being in an impeachment process, his approval ratings went sky-high. Donald Trump, we`ve seen a 2 percent drop just in the past two weeks. So it`s - even if he can hold his base, which we should assume he can, he is not seeing the jump in approval that would come if he thought his oxygen were breathable.
MELBER: Right. You`re not seeing that rallying and the impeachment numbers shifted about 10 points, which was striking as well. Not that this is, of course, a vote--
WILSON: Almost all of independent voters.
MELBER: Right. Now I really have to fit in break, as we`ve been tracking so many stories. Rick Wilson, David Rothkopf, Maya Wiley, thank you so much. We`re going to follow this breaking news and I have another thing I want to tell you about right after this short break.
MELBER: We are backtracking this breaking news on a Friday night. House Democrats serving the Trump White House with new subpoenas for key documents, all part of the impeachment inquiry into the Ukraine plot.
The subpoenas come from three different Democratic committees together. And Democrats, of course, has been taking Trump to task all week long, not only for his actions, but also the way that they say he is dangerously dialing up tensions and even inciting violence. There was him sending out a supporter`s ominous warning that if he`s impeached it would trigger a quote "civil war".
I`m joined now by Jelani Cobb from "The New Yorker", who`s an astute observer of many of these issues, including the tropes the president leans on. I`ve been planning to have you on all week here. There`s a lot going on and we`re going to keep our viewers it well up to date on these new subpoenas and all the other implications. But widening out with you, as we sometimes do, what do you see here?
JELANI COBB, THE NEW YORKER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER: Well, I mean I think it`s Trump`s grandiosity. And you know this. People who have observed him long before he entered political life knew this about him, his narcissism and kind of unbounded self-regard.
But he`s imagined himself on a scale of kind of great consequential national actions and saying that he - like his removal - potential removal from office would create a fissure - the lights of the civil war, that`s not true.
As a matter of fact, I`m not sure, how much he actually knows about the Civil War. But the Civil War was a culmination of processes that began in 1776. It wasn`t just simply that something that`s sprung out of a Lincoln`s election in 1860.
MELBER: It wasn`t about a single person--
COBB: It wasn`t about a single person, it wasn`t about a single election. It wasn`t about any kind of singular thing. It was like these huge questions that the country had failed to grapple with centering around slavery. That failed to grapple with legislatively over the course of nearly a century before the country ever wound up in war.
But what does disturb me about this and what makes me worry is that a person who is given to those kinds of flights of grandiosity is also prone to thinking of themselves as being persecuted on a similar scale.
And so, one of the things that we`ve seen about Trump is his reluctance to use the military or his aversion to military engagements - first agreeing to and then calling off the strike on Iran, for example, ridiculing John Bolton for his hawkishness throughout the time his tenure in the administration.
What happens when that person is feeling aggrieved? When that person is feeling like what with me, when the person is feeling like maybe I should just burn it all down around me. And I think that this makes us - have to consider that we`re entering possibly the most dangerous phase of the already very dangerous Trump presidency.
MELBER: Right. And I think you say that responsibly. It is it is not to make overly causal links, especially the further out you get into the mindset of individuals who do pursue violence and they might respond to all sorts of things.
And yet what you`re speaking about is a record of a President who has not stepped up when there has been other violence, when there has been mass shootings, when there has been race-based violence, when there has been an increase in hate crimes.
And so the context - and we pick our examples carefully here, and I`m picking one again, I`m not saying causal. But are malicious--
MELBER: --reporting this week among the people who follow this stuff online. According to Lawfare they have militia groups that are enthusiastic about what Trump portended, while, "no violence has yet resulted from the President`s tweet", as I emphasized Lawfare writes. "It will be foolish to underestimate the power of Donald Trump`s comments to call rogue militias to action."
COBB: Sure. So let`s say we can`t make a causal connection, isn`t it significant enough that he may or may not - we can argue about whether he`s encouraging these kinds of actions. But it`s significant enough that there are people who will believe that he is encouraging them toward these kinds of actions.
When we looked at Caesar Sayoc, and when - not very long ago, because we have this kind of blur effect of all the insanity that`s happened - if this were normal a normal time it would still be in the front of our minds that somebody had sent pipe bombs to various members of the media and to various members of Congress in the name of defending Donald Trump.
Like, does that not actually ring a bell? The fact that we saw these right- wing militias and mercenary groups taking great pleasure in the fact that Trump had been elected and believing that Trump has been a voice for their concerns or a sympathetic ear for their concerns, throughout his entire tenure in public life. These things are all really dangerous.
And I should also say that, bear in mind, I`m talking about kind of national military action. Like, I don`t know what this person would do if he`s facing impeachment. We saw--
MELBER: Well, let`s be clear, he is facing impeachment for a plot involving the alleged abuse of power of military aid materials ---
MELBER: Because of the break news I have to fill in a break, Jelani Cobb from "The New Yorker", thank you as always.
COBB: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate you. Coming up, I actually have a message for Tucker Carlson, stay tuned.
MELBER: Breaking news on an important story. 2020 candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders is leaving in Nevada hospital after two and a half days, and his doctor is now confirming that he suffered a myocardial infarction, which medical experts described as a heart attack. Sanders thanking the hospital staff and says, "He`s feeling well now and looking forward to getting back to work." We wanted to bring you that update.
And now turn to another part of Donald Trump`s Ukraine scandal that I haven`t hit yet tonight. Not all conservatives are saying what Trump did was OK. Some say it`s not OK, but it`s still not impeachable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: They may not like what Trump said, but it`s hard to see how it`s a crime - certainly it`s hard to see how it`s an impeachable offense. I mean, all of a sudden everybody in DC nodding sagely in unison thinks it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s Tucker Carlson and he`s actually co-authored a new piece out today that directly rebukes Trump saying quote, "Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his opponent, Joe Biden. There`s no way to spin this as a good idea." Continuing, "Once those in control of our government use it to advance their political goals, we become just another of the world`s many corrupt countries."
So Tucker there in that discussion of corruption is arguing that Trump`s call is bad, but does not rise the level of an impeachable offense. And that is a legitimate argument in this debate, because under our Constitution many bad things that a President may do are not generally defined as impeachable - from holding abhorrent views, to making bad decisions, to starting unnecessary wars.
And if Congress is fair about this impeachment probe, the decision should not turn on any opinions about this President in general, but on the narrower, harder question of whether Donald Trump committed the high crime of abusing his office. If the House impeaches that sets up a Senate trial.
And one thing I can tell you about covering trials, you have to hear the prosecution and the defense to make any sense of them. And this is the other thing I`ll tell you. We`re going to try to do exactly that this Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern, because I`m anchoring a live special here on MSNBC, Trump & Ukraine: The Impeachment Crisis.
And we`re going to go beyond these sometimes overwhelming days, including this one, of breaking news, to take a step back and explore these larger questions, including a debate with two of the nation`s legal experts on both sides. And if you want to hear a pitch only for impeachment this Sunday may not be the program for you.
But if you are interested in doing what we do here trying to tackle hard questions on all sides of any potential trial of President Trump, and I hope you`ll join me and Melissa Murray and Maya Wiley of John Flannery and David Rivkin and Pulitzer Prize winners Jon Meacham and Eugene Robinson. That is this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
MELBER: Time for a very special edition of "Fallback". I`m joined today by producer, director and music industry legend, the one and only Irv Gotti--
IRV GOTTI, AMERICAN RECORD EXECUTIVE: There I am, counting three--
MELBER: --Co-founder of music Murder Inc. Records, the music label that brought you the stars you know Ja Rule, Ashanti. He`s produced hits for people you also know like JLO, Aaliyah, DMX and Eve. And he`s the creator of the BET series "Tales", which just wrapped its second season.
GOTTI: Her I am with judge, there you are.
MELBER: Also with us someone who knows his way around this news room comedian and political commentator Sam Seder, and host of "The Majority Report", the nationally syndicated "Ring of Fire" radio show and a political analyst right here on THE BEAT. Great to have you both here.
SAM SEDER, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: Thank you. Next to be here.
GOTTI: That was great intro man.
MELBER: Together we love you both.
GOTTI: You look so serious in person and there was you - was here like joking around.
SEDER: I can actually occasionally joke around.
GOTTI: I love it. Let`s go let`s joke around.
MELBER: Well, you know, Irv, you know people have layers. You know this.
GOTTI: Yes, I am too a layered guy.
MELBER: I think so. Sam who needs to fallback?
SEDER: Each week we get more and more stuff that is impeachable, I think, and certainly we see more and more opportunity for the Trump administration to say, like, we`re just not going to show up. We`re just not going to give you - we`re not going to give you the statutorily mandated oversight powers that you have.
MELBER: Right. They push, even while they`re supposed to be explaining themselves. Do you think the Democrats should be tougher on Trump here?
GOTTI: You know, guys like me, we have interesting views on politics. I don`t know if ready for--
MELBER: Well, let me put it like this.
MELBER: Let me put it like this, because you political--
MELBER: You build a business, you worked with a lot of different people and you were known to be, tell me if I`m wrong, aggressive.
GOTTI: A very.
MELBER: Do you think that Donald Trump is getting away with too much and the Democrats should be more aggressive with him?
GOTTI: I`m going to give you my political view, and most - and it`s really the view of most guys, and it`s not good, and it`s not cool and kids don`t listen to me. But I never believed in the presidency anyway. I never voted until Obama, because I just thought it would be cool to see a black man being President.
Not a political guy, I don`t think whoever`s President is for me. They don`t want me to win. So I`d never think about it, where other people think the President`s going to help our way of living. I never think about that.
MELBER: You never felt.
GOTTI: I`m going to help my way of living.
MELBER: Irv, I`ve heard your fallback list, as we were getting ready, you were talking LaVar Ball.
GOTTI: LaVar Ball is leased to fall all the way back. He`s like the AAU dad who is screaming at rest and screaming at everybody. But LaVar Ball, let me look into camera three. If you see this LaVar, your son is a grown man, just love him, you know - just love him.
I didn`t like it when he said - he called him damaged goods or whatever. That`s your son, you know, and like he was trying to downplay the changing of the name. But your son is not 8 years old anymore. Your son is 22-23. He is a professional basketball player - or 21 - whatever - however old he is. Let him - just love him.
MELBER: And you see this a lot, whether it`s at the LaVar Ball level on TV or just in local communities when people have--
GOTTI: Well, I was a dad--
MELBER: --little league and basketball--
GOTTI: I was an AAU dad.
MELBER: What does it say to you when the parents are a little too involved in the sidelines?
GOTTI: Well, first of all, the parents is super involved. OK? Is super, super involved. If you`re AAU kid and you`re 16 years old in every college across the country is getting at you. If you come from a low-income house they want a bag. I don`t know if I was supposed to say that. But absolutely they want a bag. Right? So they involve.
What I`m saying to LaVar is, it`s clear you love your boys, it`s clear you love your sons, just love them.
MELBER: Irv, I hope you come back. Thanks for being on THE BEAT.
GOTTI: No, anytime. Anytime.
MELBER: Fantastic. Irv Gotti and Sam Seder--
GOTTI: How about the same time - this is great time.
MELBER: JUST love them. That`s a message we could all take home. And don`t forget to come back Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern live, our very special program "Trump & Ukraine: Impeachment Crisis." We`re going to get into everything. Mark your calendar. I hope you join us this Sunday.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END