CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): The fact is that asking a foreign power to help us is wrong.
CARDIN: And we have to be clear about that. But we also need to get the facts out.
CARDIN: And reserve judgment until the House has acted.
TODD: Excellent. Fair point there. Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat from Maryland, on the Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for coming on sharing your views.
And thank you to everybody who watched us tonight. Really appreciate you tuning in. We`ll see you tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.
"THE BEAT" with my friend, Ari Melber, starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much.
We begin with a new twist in this impeachment probe into Donald Trump. Several key witnesses arrested today. And these are business and political associates of Rudy Giuliani who were already on the radar for House Democrats, and are linked to not only Ukraine, but to Giuliani`s plot to shape Ukraine policy for President Trump.
And that`s not all. The Feds indicting these people for, among other things, allegedly illegal donations to a Trump PAC. So, right there you have a lot. Let`s take a few of these facts individually because this is quite a development for this whole story tonight.
Before you get into any details, consider that these are pretty dramatic arrests of two key witnesses in the Trump impeachment probe, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They have been working with Rudy Giuliani, partly because of their strong ties to Ukraine.
So, right there tonight, before we get any further, the basic storyline of this arrest is out of a spy movie. They were headed to board a one-way flight out of the country when the FBI apprehended them last night.
Now, House Democrats had been demanding they appear before Congressional investigators on the impeachment probe today, and tomorrow.
Now, while the Feds are not saying these men were necessarily fleeing arrest, the timeline we already have, and this is all brand-new, shows they were leaving without testifying to the key details that were desired about Giuliani and Ukraine, in an investigation that is actually larger than a criminal probe because, as you know, it`s a probe into whether the President committed high crimes, and should be kicked out of office.
And Congress thinks these men knew things that could address whether to impeach President Trump, like how Giuliani plotted with foreign governments, and how he tried to run a shadow foreign policy, which could ultimately be ruled a criminal foreign policy, which, as you know, was designed to target Joe Biden and help Trump`s re-election.
So, what we have today is a new indictment from the Feds that touches on some of this. It`s not the only reason they`re charged. But it does note these are the men who helped Rudy Giuliani get meetings with Ukraine heavyweights.
We already know Giuliani and Trump wanted Ukraine to go after the Bidens. So, a lot of this is coming in at a plain view. Now, let me show you a couple more facts.
Another reason why this matters, prosecutors say they have evidence to convict these men. Now, if prosecutors believe they know anything that could implicate other people in crimes, any other people, which could, in fairness, not include Rudy Giuliani, or theoretically, it could include Rudy Giuliani, what we know what the Feds are going to do tonight, and in the coming days.
They will press these men for any information about any other people. And, as you may recall, that`s what this very same New York prosecution office did to Mr. Michael Cohen.
Another reason this matters, well, and I haven`t even hit this in much detail yet, because this has got a couple pieces.
But if you stop right here, and said, "OK, Ari, that`s a lot of different stuff. I`m not sure I got it all," think about this one fact in this indictment, blatant links to Donald Trump, not only through Giuliani, obviously, but also by following the money.
The Feds are saying tonight both these men broke the law with illegal donations to a Trump PAC, and tried to funnel money to a Russian national who wanted to get funds to Trump.
So, you take this all together right now, and what you have is any one of these things, quite damning, not only for these individuals who, as we always mention, are presumed innocent legally, but who are facing a written indictment and a paper trail, but also damning for Mr. Rudy Giuliani because the best-case scenario for him now tonight is that all this stuff is documented but he is not charged or hit with anything, and that`s a possibility.
But even that is really bad because these are the people who were carrying out the Ukraine plot, which is why they were such key impeachment witnesses.
And the worst case scenario is that, like other people who`ve gotten caught up in the New York Feds, in these kind of criminal probes, they do know things about other people, and they start to provide them, they start to bargain them.
So, that`s the backdrop for this scene today as the men appeared in court in Virginia. This was hours after they were also subpoenaed in the House impeachment inquiry.
And this is that meeting, of course, with other Trump associates.
Now, the top prosecutor in New York who leads the office, once run by Rudy Giuliani, says something today that may haunt the White House. He says this new indictment, this aggressive approach is all about stopping election crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEOFFREY BERMAN, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Protecting the integrity of our elections, and protecting our elections from unlawful foreign influence, are core functions of our campaign finance laws. And as this office has made clear, we will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "The integrity of our political process."
I`m joined by The Wall Street Journal`s Shelby Holliday and Julia Ioffe from GQ, both have been covering many aspects of this Ukraine scandal, as well as other related international criminal enterprises.
Good evening to both of you.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: Good evening.
JULIA IOFFE, GQ MAGAZINE CORRESPONDENT: Hi.
MELBER: Julia, what does it mean that this has so many tentacles? But, as we just laid out for viewers, if you even kind of digest one or two of them, there`s a lot of smoke.
IOFFE: OK. I`ll just start with two tentacles. First tentacle is the Rudy tentacle.
We also had another tentacle off that tentacle today, which was revelations that Rudy was using the Oval Office to pressure Trump, and then Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to get one of his clients, a Turkish banker who was violating Iran sanctions by trading oil for gold, instead of money.
He was using his connections to Trump to try to get this man released from jail actually in New York as well. So, I`m wondering how long it takes for Donald Trump to say he doesn`t know Rudy Giuliani.
The second tentacle again is the Russian interference. The fact that, you know, we - we had been looking for the - the two years of the Mueller investigation for a smoking gun.
And now, we have yet another one of the many smoking guns now on the rack, over the fireplace, to mix metaphors, which is Russian foreign national one, who is funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars through these two Soviet immigrants into Trump PACs, and two Republican candidates, in violation of election law.
And if that isn`t Russian Election interference, even if it wasn`t directly mandated by Putin, you know, who pressed the red button that said election interference, it`s election interference.
MELBER: Wow! And when you lay it out like that, how do you put that in the context of what Mr. Berman said, who of course, as I`ve emphasized, he holds the office Rudy Giuliani used to lead, and he was out there today, saying, "We are not going to tolerate election crimes on our watch."
IOFFE: Well it was - it`s funny that you mentioned that that was the office Rudy Giuliani used to lead.
It was also the office that Preet Bharara used to lead that the Trump White House got rid of, hoping that they could, you know, decapitate that office, which has been very aggressive toward the Trump Administration throughout. And, you know, turns out it`s - Preet`s all the way down.
MELBER: Well Preet`s all the way down. Is that a Stephen Hawking`s "Turtles All the Way Down" reference?
Shelby, what do you see as important here? You`ve been tracing a lot of these stories.
HOLLIDAY: Well I think two things jumped out to me in this indictment. One was the funneling of the Russian money. But the other thing was that these two men, Parnas and Fruman, were working to advance political interests of a Ukrainian government official, allegedly.
We did a big timeline video at The Wall Street Journal this week, and we laid out all of the twists and turns, particularly with respect to Rudy Giuliani, and his role, in pushing for these two investigations, the Biden investigation, and the 2016 Russia investigation.
When you look at this timeline, and you look at him, you know, flying to Paris and Madrid, and meeting some of the Ukrainian officials that he met with, he also spoke to the prosecutor - former Prosecutor General that Vice President Biden helped push out, I mean he`s been very involved for a year in trying to bring these investigations and the - the dirt that he claims to have to the surface.
Well now we know more about the two men who were giving him that dirt, who were setting up the meetings, and they were working, allegedly, on behalf of a Ukrainian government official.
MELBER: Do you see it--
HOLLIDAY: So, there`s a big question tonight. Who is that official? What are their interests and--
MELBER: Do you see it as bad news for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani who`ve said there`s no crimes involved in everything they`re doing with Ukraine, to have these Ukrainian-American-linked officials and businessmen charged today?
HOLLIDAY: Well it`s bad news that they`re charged. It`s also bad news for their political agenda because they want everybody to be talking about Biden`s corruption. They want everybody to be talking about Hunter Biden making money in Ukraine.
And when you look at this trail, and you look at who Rudy Giuliani was working with, nobody seems to be talking so much about Joe Biden tonight.
MELBER: Julia, having - having really reported a lot of this stuff, including the way that - look, business is done in different ways, in different parts of the world, and what is considered normal in some places, is illegal here in the United States.
Indeed there`s laws like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which basically say "They may want bribes over there. But it`s illegal for Americans and American companies to engage in that abroad, let alone here."
How much of this is a situation where even if these individuals can all - can make a kind of an argument, "We - we weren`t informed. We didn`t know everything," to the extent that Giuliani was in the loop on any of this, doesn`t he know better?
IOFFE: Yes. But if you look at the indictment, and the number of steps they took to disguise what they were doing, you know, the shell company, this gas thing that had no gas products whatsoever, they knew what they were doing was wrong.
Otherwise, they wouldn`t be hiding it, you know, and donating money in somebody else`s name, which is also illegal.
MELBER: Do you see them having--
IOFFE: They knew what they were doing was wrong.
MELBER: --any way to beat this other than flipping?
IOFFE: Oh, I don`t know. I - I`m not a lawyer. You play one on TV. But I`m not.
The other thing - the other thing I wanted to say though, which is - is another tentacle of this is that Donald Trump, since the time he was a candidate, for the last three years, has been openly inviting foreign election interference, and help from anybody who wants to offer him help, right?
And because now his Justice Department has been deputized to pursue all kinds of, I`m sorry, witch-hunts, and conspiracy theories that - that are useful to him, and his ego, it`s now left, ironically, to the states with Democratic political leadership, even though it`s Republicans who have always harped on States` rights.
It`s now left to States to fight election interference as well as things like climate change, etcetera. So--
MELBER: I think that`s a fair--
IOFFE: --it`s an interesting turn.
MELBER: It is a very fair point. And - and you add an interesting footnote to the story, although we would be remiss if we didn`t note. Of course, as we - you discussed earlier, all the way down, it`s also a sign of the system working, if Mr. Berman in the Trump Administration can still bring these cases. But - and--
IOFFE: Well it`s - it`s one part of the system working, right? It`s - it`s the system in one state. But the federal system, the federal Justice Department, you know, we have the--
MELBER: Well Berman`s Federal, that`s what I`m saying.
IOFFE: Oh right. But we also have, you know, the Assistant General of the United States flying around the world, and trying to impress other Intel - Foreign Intelligence Services into shoring up this wild conspiracy theory to help his boss.
MELBER: You`re talking about Attorney General Barr.
And Shelby, Mr. Barr figures into all of this in very interesting ways, some Democrats calling for his recusal, name-checked by Trump on the incriminated call, reportedly meeting with Rupert Murdoch, in addition to his international dalliance, as Julia just mentioned, do you see any of this putting more heat on him?
HOLLIDAY: It might put more heat on him but we have seen no sign that he actually will recuse himself or that there would be a Special Counsel again. He`s - he`s shown to be very loyal to President Trump, at least for now.
I think another piece of this that - that jumps out is a lot of people were talking about how he shouldn`t, you know, a lot of Trump defenders were saying "He shouldn`t be associated with Rudy Giuliani, what they`re doing is two very different things. Giuliani is working on this Biden piece. Barr is working on the 2016 Russia probe. And maybe Giuliani is going a little bit rogue."
This indictment shows that Giuliani wasn`t going rogue because some of the things they were advocating for, for example, the ouster of the diplomat, Yovanovitch, Giuliani was behind that effort. He has admitted to Wall Street Journal--
HOLLIDAY: --for being--
HOLLIDAY: --behind that effort. And it was very successful.
MELBER: As you mentioned, you and your--
IOFFE: And Trump was behind that effort.
MELBER: Yes. And just to credit Shelby, you and your colleagues at the Journal have been reporting that out. And, as you say, a lot of that reporting looks at - at the links here, which are now, some of which are in the indictment that makes it--
MELBER: --much harder for the White House to cast Rudy aside, although they have cast lawyers aside, including lawyers indicted in this district, as I mentioned.
HOLLIDAY: They could - they may - they may try. We`ll see.
MELBER: Shelby and Julia, I want to thank you. Julia made the apt point that we didn`t have a lawyer on this panel. But we have one on the next panel.
Nick Akerman, how you doing?
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Great.
MELBER: Glad to have you. He is one of 17 former Watergate Special Prosecutors, who`s out today with a new op-ed joint in the Washington Post calling for Trump`s impeachment on the facts.
Federal Prosecutor for the Southern District of New York today out with those new charges against people connected to Trump. And this really can`t be underscored enough, as you try to follow the different avenues.
These charges involve contact with a man who formerly held the same post as the man you`re looking at right now. That`s Geoff Berman, the current Chief Prosecutor in New York, and the old one was Rudy Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I am tired of being asked over and over again, "Which type of crime is more dangerous, violent crime or white-collar crime?" All are dangerous and destructive of our society.
BERMAN: As this office has made clear, we will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Former Watergate Special Prosecutor, Nick Akerman. Hello?
AKERMAN: Hello, how are you doing?
MELBER: I`m all right. You wake up each day, you don`t know what the news is going to bring. We certainly didn`t know that wanted witnesses in this impeachment probe on Ukraine would be arrested, would be more unavailable than otherwise, because they`re now defendants.
When you look at the contrast we just saw of Rudy, the prosecutor, and today`s prosecutor--
MELBER: --and this indictment, what do you see?
AKERMAN: Oh, I see somebody who is totally different. I served with Rudy Giuliani for about six months of his career as U.S. Attorney. I was an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He is completely unhinged compared to what he was back then.
I mean there is no way he is the same person. Why he has ingratiated himself with Donald Trump, why he has been able to be set up by these two individuals that were arrested today, I mean it just shows you that if enough money is thrown at the Trumps, whether it`s Giuliani, or any of the Trumps, that they are easy marks.
Even if you take them at kind of the - the best-case scenario that they weren`t out to do anything bad in the first place, you`ve got some Russian out there, who`s got over a million dollars that`s funneling it in to these two guys that were arrested today that put this through phony-baloney companies to try and make it look like legitimate campaign contributions.
And they`ve put themselves right into the center of Trump World, and have basically ingratiated themselves with Rudy, to get him to meet various people in - in Ukraine, to follow up on these crazy conspiracy theories that make absolutely no sense, the idea that somehow it was Ukraine that was behind the break-in to the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
MELBER: Well yes, we`re not even getting into that.
MELBER: I mean let me show you this Wall Street Journal headline just about what we`ve known. These folks, as I`ve reported, were arrested last night.
Yesterday - yesterday, take a look at this, the two had lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, on Wednesday, which turned out to be their day of - of arrest.
Does that tell you that Giuliani had no idea this was coming?
AKERMAN: I think he had no idea. I mean what`s amazing is that this was brought by the Southern District of New York. You have to wonder if this case bubbled up inside main justice, whether or not the Attorney General would have put the axe to this case.
I mean I think that he was between a rock and a hard place here because the Southern District is very independent.
MELBER: Yes. And we - we`re reminded of that again and again. Giuliani was asked today about whether these individuals might have information on him. As I stress, in fairness, they may not. But if--
AKERMAN: No. They--
MELBER: --if they have information, it could come out. Here`s what`s - his response. He didn`t say--
MELBER: --you know, I`m all good or the facts will - will support me. This is what he said. We`ll put this up.
"When I asked Rudy about the prospect of the FBI flipping these individuals, Parnas and Fruman to get to him," Gab Sherman wrote today, a Reporter, "he replied, "Good luck."
AKERMAN: Well I - I don`t think - I mean he`s trying to put off anything he can. We don`t know whether he was just some kind of a dupe with these two guys, or he was basically inviting them into this conspiracy, to get the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son.
MELBER: So, let`s widen out because you have the unique experience as both a prosecutor and dealing with the special situation of these Presidential probes. I see you have the homework, Sir. I see--
AKERMAN: I always have my homework, yes. I have--
MELBER: --as always. You have the indictment.
AKERMAN: --I have - I have the indictment. Yes.
MELBER: And so, my question to you is you look at this new indictment, is what I`m holding in my hand restricted to the case of these individuals? Does it strengthen the Democrats` impeachment probe? Or is it, in your view, too early to tell?
AKERMAN: I think it does strengthen the Democrats` impeachment probe.
I mean it has elements in there that have to do with the firing of our Ambassador to Ukraine, who is a - a Foreign Service Career person that was pushed out, for no good reason, other than to make it easier for them to get to the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.
It`s got information in there about monies that go to various high-level politicians, including Donald Trump, to ingratiate themselves in the - in the Trump campaign, and in Trump World.
I mean there are little pieces in here that raise lots of questions about how did this happen, who knew about it, who was behind it, who is this Russian that is putting in over a million dollars that`s not named in here.
Is this another attempt by Vladimir Putin to insert himself in the 2020 election? I kind of think so.
MELBER: Right. And all we know is that the Feds say this is a crime. And they say their investigation is open. And these are two impeachment witnesses who have bigger problems even than Congressional subpoenas.
What a story! And we haven`t even covered all of it. But we`ve gotten through a little bit of it with your help. Nick Akerman, always good to see you, Sir.
AKERMAN: Good to see you.
MELBER: Appreciate you.
Coming up, the new subpoenas for, guess who, Rick Perry, as White House aides are sheltering in place?
News also that Trump`s Attorney General meeting, as I mentioned earlier, with Rupert Murdoch, more on what that could mean tonight.
And new video of a Senate Republican who won`t answer a straightforward question about things that are basically against the law.
Later, we have a special guest who actually met with one of these newly- indicted Giuliani associates arrested today. So, a lot more angles on this wild story.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT, on MSNBC.
MELBER: Key impeachment witnesses arrested today, Giuliani under a microscope, and now, a majority of Americans say they do support Donald Trump both impeached, and removed from office. The President now reportedly on edge and looking to Mitch McConnell for help.
All of this comes as Trump`s Republican allies have pushed back on certain things, like this decision on Syria, calling it a disaster, a betrayal, and a mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This impulsive decision by the President has undone all the gains we`ve made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. And if I`m an ISIS fighter, I`ve got a second lease on life.
SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I disagree with the policy as has been laid out.
We are very focused on making certain that we stand with the Kurds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is some Republican pushback. That`s what it looks like right now. And, on its own, it`s about foreign policy.
But what if it is read by this famously-mercurial President as something more, as a sign of weakness, or cracks, or something that could turn into a full-blown revolt, on his Senate trial, if it comes to that?
Well new reports of a type of panic, Trump now calling Mitch - Mr. McConnell up to three times a day, saying he`ll amplify attacks on Republicans, who do criticize him, and he`s also even turned on Fox News.
A new poll there says 51 percent want Trump impeached and removed. Trump`s response "They suck."
Meanwhile, The Drudge Report, leading with that Fox poll, showing that, to millions of Americans, who catch headlines from there, including many Conservative Americans, other conservative lawyers meanwhile, and these are people who we should mention are not just political or partisan folks.
They`ve served in GOP Administrations. They understand how these scandals play out, some of them banding together to speak out. Take a look at this.
16 calling for an expeditious impeachment probe, another saying, "There comes a tipping point where you look at this and say my country first, the party comes second."
This is part of what Donald Trump is facing right now on a story that I don`t have to tell you. If you watch the news, a story that keeps taking twists and turns that no one saw coming, not Rudy Giuliani yesterday, sitting in the Trump Hotel with people who are now arrested, and not Donald Trump watching Senate Republicans throw shade.
He`s throwing shade back to be sure. That`s what he does.
But today, when you look at those arrests, when you look at those mug shots, do you think "Who are these people? Should they be siphoned off and protected from Donald Trump? Or do they reflect something deeper in the way he`s doing business?"
Well I could tell you we have the perfect guest to talk about these two individuals, former Republican Congressman, Carlos Curbelo.
Good to see you.
And guess what? He actually met with one of these Ukrainian businessmen, and he`s here to get into that when we`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Former Republican Congressman, Carlos Curbelo, joins me now. He met with the two arrested Ukrainian businessmen, and has spoken out against Donald Trump in many ways.
We`re looking at the photo there. Now, walk us through what - what we see in this photo, Sir.
CARLOS CURBELO, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE OF FLORIDA: So, Ari, these gentlemen were up on the Hill in the spring of last year, and they were lobbying on cannabis policy, were trying to build relationships with Members, and they came to my office.
They stood out a little bit. They had an air of flamboyance to them. But I had no reason to believe that they were up to anything nefarious. They didn`t give any clues as to any of this that`s we`re now discovering.
However, they did make it a point to say, a few times, that they had very good relationships with the White House, that they were frequent guests at Mar-a-Lago and that they--
MELBER: Did they mention Giuliani?
CURBELO: They did mention that they had a close friendship with - with Mayor Giuliani.
MELBER: What did they say about Giuliani?
CURBELO: No. I think they were just trying to show off their relationships, and also what legislators know that perhaps they could be helpful in trying to advance legislative priorities through their contacts.
MELBER: Did they strike you as motivated most by money, personal enrichment, or some sort of international geopolitics?
CURBELO: Yes. What I gathered, and they didn`t get into their personal businesses, but what I gathered is that they were looking for opportunities to make money, to use their influence in politics to - to get deals, to get legislation passed. That`s - that`s kind of what I gathered.
But again, I - I didn`t - I`d be dishonest if I was saying that I suspected that they were up to any wrongdoing because they - they didn`t really get into any of these details that we`re learning now.
MELBER: Right. We`re - we`re not saying you`re Sherlock Holmes and that you dialed it in. But we`ll put the photo up again.
I mean, as America learns about these individuals, as Rudy Giuliani explains them, here you are with them, do you see them as a type of people that will fight this to the end, or did you get any sense that if they`re in over their head, they might cooperate with the Feds, as most people do?
CURBELO: From what I can tell, I mean it`s obvious that there was some type of serious campaign violation here. I know it`s an allegation, but everything certainly points in that direction.
And if I had to guess, and having interacted briefly with these gentlemen, for some time, I think that they`re going to want to cooperate as much as possible--
MELBER: You do?
CURBELO: --to protect themselves.
MELBER: Very interesting given that you`ve taken a measure of them. I want to play something else for you that is so striking as an echo. You know Donald Trump, and you guys worked together in the sense of you being a Republican in the Congress who had issues with him, and sometimes disagreements.
You also know how he treats his staff, even his most loyal staff. You might think well he`d never turn on Rudy Giuliani. I mean they`re really in this Ukraine thing together. But that`s how people used to think about Michael Cohen.
I want to show you new Donald Trump, on his lawyer Rudy, and old Donald Trump, on his now-incarcerated lawyer, Michael Cohen. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don`t know them. I don`t know about them. I don`t know what they do. But I don`t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You`d have to ask Rudy. I just don`t know.
You`ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is my attorney. And you`ll have to ask Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What does it mean when Donald Trump says you`ll have to ask one of these lawyers when they`re in hot water?
CURBELO: There`s a cautionary tale here for Congressional Republicans. And Ari, we know up to now, most Republicans are standing by the President.
There is an undercurrent. It`s still not audible or visible. But I think there`s undercurrent, an undercurrent of concern and consternation among Republicans, still not obvious to the naked eye, but there`s a lesson here for them.
The President, when it comes down to it, will look out for himself. Look at what the President did to our Kurdish allies. He cut them loose because they weren`t needed anymore.
So, as the temperature goes up, I think we can see more and more of this. And I think Congressional Republicans should start looking out for themselves but, more importantly, for the country--
MELBER: When you think about--
CURBELO: --for the Constitution--
MELBER: --about your colleagues--
CURBELO: --for our institutions.
MELBER: --do you think any of your Republican colleagues in Congress see the Ukraine meddling, now that he`s admitted to it, as - as worse and different?
CURBELO: There`s no question. This is different than the Russia inquiry. Members of Congress, especially Republicans, were insulated in the sense that this buck stopped with Robert - Robert Mueller.
This case is different. Congress is the protagonist. Everything is out there for everyone to see. The President is personally involved. We don`t know how this ends. But we know this is different.
And we know, I know, that Republicans are taking it a lot more seriously, even if they`re not yet speaking out, at least not most of them, some are.
MELBER: We`d like to go to the source, former Republican Congressman, Curbelo, thank you so much.
CURBELO: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: This has been really enlightening. Appreciate your candor.
CURBELO: Glad to be with you.
MELBER: We`re going to fit in a break. But when we come up, this impeachment exposure spreading with a new subpoena to another official, this one, Rick Perry.
We also have a former White House Counsel from the Clinton impeachment saga about how the pressure builds, and how it could even reach Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS JOURNALIST: Were you ever aware?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What - I never discussed the issue of - of - the issue of the Bidens with President Zelensky.
HILLYARD: But within the Administration, were you ever aware within the Administration?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: New pressure on Donald Trump`s subordinates, signaling the impeachment investigation of Ukraine is clearly escalating. Top Committee Chair subpoenaing Rick Perry, who Trump has tried to, at times, blame for all of this.
It comes as two key impeachment witnesses linked to Giuliani arrested today, a story we`ve been covering, and the new report revealing White House aides are doing a sort of a disappearing act to avoid any questions, dodging reporters, leaving town. They don`t want to be on the record.
And then there are the questions facing Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLYARD: But were you ever aware, Mr. Vice President, that interest in the Bidens, the interest in investigating the Bidens, was at least in part of the reason for aid to Ukraine being held up?
PENCE: I - what--
HILLYARD: Were you ever aware?
PENCE: I never discussed the issue of - of - the issue of the Bidens with President Zelensky and--
HILLYARD: But within the Administration, were you ever aware within the Administration?
PENCE: What I - what I can tell you is that all of our discussions internally, between the President and our team, and our contacts in my office, with Ukraine, were entirely focused on the broader issues of the lack of European support and corruption.
HILLYARD: But you were - you were aware of the interest in the Bidens being investigated and--
PENCE: I was--
HILLYARD: --that being tied to aid to Ukraine being held up?
PENCE: What - that`s your question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Adam Goldberg is a former Special Associate White House Counsel to President Clinton, during the impeachment probe.
ADAM GOLDBERG, FORMER SPECIAL ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good evening. Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Sure. What do you see as important here?
GOLDBERG: So, for me, I think, you know, we have two cabinet officials and the Vice President who are also at risk of being impeached, and not just convicted and removed from office, but also disqualified from future office.
And, right now, people are talking about the magic number of 20, the number of Republicans needed to get to 67, and remove President Trump from office.
But, for me, the magic number, most immediately, is four, is if we can get four Republican Senators, then we might have enough Senators to a majority to disqualify President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perry, and Vice President Pence from future - holding future office.
MELBER: When you look at Pence, does he have exposure?
GOLDBERG: He certainly has exposure. His National Security Adviser was on the - the fated phone call with - between President Trump and the President of Ukraine. He got a read-out of that call.
And then, it`s been reported that in his conversations with President Zelensky, he talked about the importance of them fighting corruption. Those were clear code words based on the earlier conversations that he knew about.
MELBER: And in your argument, when they say corruption, that`s code for "Be corrupt with us?"
GOLDBERG: That`s right because President Trump, on that phone call, with the President of Ukraine, made very clear that corruption - he was investigating Joe Biden and his son, and he was investigating this crazy conspiracy about Ukraine interfering in our elections, instead of Russia.
MELBER: We have talked a lot in the press, and in Washington, and political circles, about the idea that Donald Trump does seem to get away with more things than other Presidents. Do you think in some sense that maybe the - the problem or the hubris that undid him here because he has really been making this up as he goes along?
And as - as we just reported, a lot of the people around him appear to think this one is different. They`re going dark. They`re quiet. They - they see themselves as having exposure.
And in your role, as a Counsel in a White House, do you think that`s the right strategy for them?
GOLDBERG: So, their strategy is clearly just to lie and continue lying, about what they did, and hoping that enough, you know, people believe the lie, and come to believe the lie.
When I was in the Clinton White House, that was not our strategy. We - we - we countered and said what the President did was not impeachable, and it wasn`t something that subjected him to remove from office.
But we went to work every day resolute that the President should not be removed from office. The--
MELBER: Did you cooperate with the Congress?
GOLDBERG: We sure did. We - we - we provided witnesses. We testified before them during the House impeachment hearings themselves, absolutely.
MELBER: It`s very interesting given your knowledge and your - your personal experience, Adam Goldberg. I hope you`ll come back on THE BEAT because these topics may not be going away, Sir.
GOLDBERG: Yes, thanks for having me.
MELBER: Thank you.
Up ahead, we have, on this program, a Senator and Presidential Candidate to discuss not only Giuliani, but why the Senate might get testimony from him, and whether today complicates that.
And I`m also going to dive into Giuliani`s record at SDNY, including what it means when the people who used to bust crime are now caught up at least in their associates being indicted.
MELBER: Today`s surprise indictment of several Giuliani associates isn`t just national news. It also marks quite the turnaround for Giuliani, a top prosecutor who led the probe. Geoff Berman holds the same job Giuliani did, as New York`s top prosecutor.
Giuliani, now on the other side of the office, he led with a tough-on-crime agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Let me tell you that I know about the crime that you have to deal with. I understand the fear that you have.
The Mayor, Mayor, really we`ve had a (ph) tough Mayor on crime. The Mayor opposes the death penalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Giuliani waging a very public campaign against crime in New York, paving his path to America`s most famous Mayor.
But as America reassesses our criminal justice system, I want to tell you, it`s important to remember many Democrats echoed a similar tough-on-crime agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People who commit crimes should be caught, convicted, and punished.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: They are often the kinds of kids that are called Super-Predators, no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tens of thousands of them, born out of wedlock, without parents, without supervision, without any structure, without any conscience developing.
We must take back the streets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "Take back the streets." "Super-Predators."
And crime had been up in many places, but so was this backlash, which included a harsh `94 Crime Bill, signed by Clinton that cut education for inmates, added boot camps for minors, and other rules that grew the prison population.
It was out of that dynamic, crime and backlash in Urban America that Christopher Wallace emerged from Brooklyn.
You may also know him, as The Notorious B.I.G., a then 21-year-old musician who revitalized hip hop music on the East Coast with lines that reverberate to this day, narrating his everyday struggle, addressing his teachers and neighbors, and pleading with America to listen to the truth he was writing, and not to revert to as he put it, stereotypes of a Black male misunderstood.
Well this fall marks the 25th anniversary of Wallace`s debut album, a work so iconic, it`s been honored on the floor of Congress by Hakeem Jeffries, who represents Wallace`s district in Brooklyn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): "It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! Magazine." Those were the words of the late, great Notorious B.I.G.
But his words live on forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Wallace`s debut album was called Ready to Die, and detailed how he felt many Black men had to grow up ready for that fate, and how the system and the city held them down.
Wallace rapped about seeing, "Body after body and I know Mayor Giuliani ain`t trying to see a Black man turn to John Gotti."
You know, as Wallace achieved success, he also advocated a better life on the right side of the law. Many remember that infamous feud between West and East Coast, and how it turned deadly.
But remember, Wallace made a public appeal for peace. Take this 1997 interview in California, after the murder of Tupac Shakur, Wallace saying, he was working to avoid feeding into the violence. He said with Tupac`s demise he had a special obligation to try to squash the violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER GEORGE LATORE WALLACE, THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G., RAPPER: Don`t feed into it. If you feed into it, it`s going to do nothing but escalate.
Untimely demise or whatever--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WALLACE: --I got to be the one to flip it, and take my - my power and flip it like Yo, they got to be dead, you know what I`m saying, because he can`t do that, you know what I`m saying? He can`t be the one to be like Yo, I want to squash it because he`s gone, so I got to take the weight on both sides. That`s why I`m here (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s why he was out there, a public call to stop the violence, and that was part of the evolution America was witnessing of that then 24- year-old.
But weeks later, he was also murdered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gangster rap world has been shaken again, this time by the violent death of the performer known as Notorious B.I.G.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Across the nation, and especially in New York, mourners paid tribute to that young man, cut down, so far before his time, remembering the musician, his work, his words.
And, you know, we can`t know how he would have grown up. But his music did grapple with the possibility of death.
You know, the last song in that first album had Mr. Wallace imagining if he did die young. And in the song, he addressed his mom from beyond the grave, saying "I wonder, if I died, would tears even come to her eyes?"
And then he addressed her saying, "Forgive me for my disrespect, forgive me for my lies."
The tragedy was that, of course, the art was soon echoed by reality, a young man trying to share with his mom, and his friends, and the whole world his fears, and his regrets, something we can all think about when you look at how music and culture affects our lives, and makes it all - makes its way all the way to the House floor.
So, I want to tell you to mark this 25th Anniversary. We just had some of the people that that album touched, including yes, the Congressman you just heard from, Hakeem Jeffries, and musical leaders who knew Biggie, Lord Finesse, Kim Osorio, Havoc, and Ebro, for this cultural music discussion. We did it right here in Brooklyn.
But you can listen to it too, if you want, and I wanted to tell you that. It is up on our podcast, the whole conversation. You can go right now, for free, to msnbc.com/Biggie. That`s msnbc.com/Biggie, or wherever you get your podcast. We think it`s a discussion worth having.
So, I wanted to share that with you. But we have a lot more in the show. I have a live interview, next, with a 2020 Presidential Candidate and Senator, about Trump impeachment, and a whole lot more.
MELBER: I`m joined now by Senate Judiciary Committee Member, and 2020 Presidential Candidate, Amy Klobuchar.
Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Ari. Great to be on again.
MELBER: Great to have you back. I want to begin with some news you`re making.
You`ve written this new letter to the Justice Department, calling for an investigation into who is financing Giuliani - Giuliani`s efforts, and also determine whether he violated a law by soliciting foreign assistance in U.S. elections.
Strong words! What are you - what are you going after here?
KLOBUCHAR: Well I`m going after the fact. First of all, I`m - serve on the Judiciary Committee. But I`m also the Ranking Member, the highest Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, and we have jurisdiction over elections, Federal Election Commission.
And my concern here is these people are business associates of him. And they were clearly up to incredibly shady things, illegal things, getting money, funneling foreign money.
And you pair that with the fact that they worked with him, and that he was out trying to get dirt on a political opponent of the President of the United States, and this leads us right to where the whistleblower is.
So, under the election laws, it is a violation, of course, to take foreign money. But it`s also a violation to get something of value from a foreign government, which could include digging up dirt, and getting that information.
And so, that`s why I think it`s really important to look at what Giuliani`s role was, and if he violated the law himself, and urging them to look at it. Remember--
KLOBUCHAR: --when the whistleblower complaint came over, they said it wasn`t criminal, Barr`s Justice Department, and then they didn`t even send it over to the Federal Election Commission, which they`re supposed to do.
MELBER: Yes. It`s a very fair question. Indeed viewers that have been watching our reporting over the course of this - of this program will know that there`s a lot of open criminal questions left that pertain to Giuliani.
And, as you say, Mr. Barr seemed to try to immediately say "There`d be no probe whatsoever of any of these issues." Maybe SDNY didn`t - didn`t get the memo.
And yet, even given that logic, you know I have to press you, and ask something else, which is some of your critics are going to look at this, and say, "Well, wait a minute. If it`s wrong for Donald Trump to talk about investigations into Clinton, "Lock her up," or Biden, are you going down a similar path in - in calling," as I read your letter, "for a criminal probe of Mr. Giuliani, who`s very aligned with the President."
KLOBUCHAR: This is an impeachment proceeding that`s going on in the House. And you have even had Republican Governors say that it should proceed.
You have had Chuck Grassley, who was once the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, make it very clear that the whistleblower has rights, and should be protected.
And you have people like the former Presidential - Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney, say something`s wrong here.
So, look at what this is. This is - this is a very clear path where the President of the United States, there is a phone call with a record--
KLOBUCHAR: --was trying to put his own political, partisan, business interests, you name it, in front of our country`s.
And if he is looking of something of value, that is a violation. And it is a narrow focus in the House on this subject, not re-litigating the past, as so many of these other matters have done. They`re looking at ongoing conduct.
KLOBUCHAR: Right now.
MELBER: I have to ask you about breaking news out of the Washington Post, and I want to warn, in fairness, you may not have read this article, but you`re well-versed--
MELBER: --on the issues.
But in the last 10 minutes from the Washington Post, a really blockbuster story that says officials, up to four different National Security officials raised alarms about the Ukraine policy issues, before, and directly after Donald Trump`s now infamous call with Ukrainian President.
I`m going to read a little bit of this lead, for the benefit of our viewers, and - and see what you think. I know you`ve been--
KLOBUCHAR: OK. Oh, I`d love to hear it.
MELBER: --working on these issues.
MELBER: Washington Post says at least four national security officials were, quote, so alarmed by the Trump Administration`s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes, they raised concerns with the White House lawyers, Senator, quote, both before and, quote, immediately after the call, according to U.S. officials.
The nature and timing of these previously undisclosed discussions with NSC Legal Adviser, John Eisenberg, indicates the officials were delivering warnings through, and this I think is striking, quote, official White House channels earlier than was previously known.
Senator, the implication here being that far from one or two whistleblowers, all sorts of senior people viewed this as a red siren event, again, with the caveat, in fairness, we try to be fair to all our guests that you haven`t read the whole story.
KLOBUCHAR: No, it`s fine.
MELBER: Anything you want to say about it?
KLOBUCHAR: I`m a former prosecutor, and I`ve been predicting this, because these were, of course, as reported, at least it`s that the whistleblower is a CIA agent, and you can imagine there were a lot of people with knowledge of this, including high-level people that are no longer in the White House that may well know about details related to this.
There was one document that started this, one whistleblower. But then I think it`s opened a dam of information because we have Ukraine.
And I went there with John McCain and Lindsey Graham, stood there on the frontline with them, where we had Russian troops on the other side, saw what a fledgling democracy it is, how much they depend on America`s credibility, and America`s aid.
Trump freezes part of that aid, and then makes the call, and says, "I need a favor." This just smells to high heaven that this was not about putting our country first.
And it`s that simple, and it doesn`t surprise me at all, when you have Patriots, and other people, who are trying to protect the interests of our country, and not Russia, are coming forward when we have long-standing support for Ukraine and Ukraine`s independence, and this just puts everything on its head and continues to in our work we must be doing with Ukraine and the other Baltic nations.
MELBER: Really laid out there, a lot of food for thought, given the scandals, and the levels.
Senator Klobuchar, thanks for coming back on THE BEAT.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, thanks. Watch, President Trump will be in my state, claiming he can win it tonight, which he can`t. I will not let that happen. But that`s where he is tonight and it`s his first rally since this investigation opened.
MELBER: Amy Klobuchar sort of anti-plugging the Trump rally.
KLOBUCHAR: Anti-plugging, that is exactly right.
MELBER: Senator, I`ve got to go to "HARDBALL." Thank you again.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
MELBER: "HARDBALL" is up right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END