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Bob Barnett on The Beat. TRANSCRIPT: 10/15/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Caroline Polisi, Brittney Cooper, Gene Rossi, Robert Reich, MiriamBaer, Bob Barnett, David Corn

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: in favor of the President and it sort of dismissed it. And now the plaintiffs get to argue their case before the full appeals court. We`ll see if that changes more minds.

That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, chuck. Thank you very much.

We are covering breaking news tonight in this Trump impeachment investigation. At this very moment, I can tell you the entire House Democratic caucus is having a closed-door meeting. This is the first time they`ve met in weeks. They`re returning, of course, to work, and they are discussing explicitly the next steps in the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Not only that, but we`ve just been briefed, what you`re seeing on your screen, is that within this hour Speaker Pelosi will come out and speak. We`re going to show you that. Bring you that. It will be newsworthy given everything that`s going on. Her first remarks here from the Congress in two weeks.

Also breaking, Rudy Giuliani revealing he will defy a House subpoena for Ukraine documents today. And as he ignores that subpoena, and reportedly faces this new criminal scrutiny from federal prosecutors in New York, Giuliani has also revealed that at this point in time he does not have a lawyer of his own. Asked by "Political" about it he said simply, no one is representing him.

The legal stakes clearly rising for this lawyer and former prosecutor at the center of the Ukraine scandal. Giuliani has faced a devastating series of revelations from other impeachment witnesses, some of who were the people he was trying to strong-arm for this alleged shadow foreign policy.

Today, a diplomat named George Kent testifying be fined closed doors, reportedly revealing that he also raised concerns about Giuliani`s Ukrainian pressure scheme months ago. This new testimony adds another block here. It adds more incriminating information about what Giuliani was doing.

And it comes, of course, just one day after another impeachment witness, another Trump aide in this administration testified about the pushback from ousted national security advisor John Bolton.

Now he, whatever you think of all of his ideology, he is according to these other impeachment witnesses, on record, as trying to get in front and oppose what he viewed as Giuliani`s criminal plot.

I want to read this and I want you to let this sink in. This is the new testimony that Bolton apparently said "I`m not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up." This is not "Breaking Bad". This is real-life.

Mr. Bolton, a very accomplished lawyer in addition to his other training, knew what was going on. He had a view of it. He wanted to warn the White House in no uncertain terms he viewed this as criminal. And as a lawyer speaking to lawyers and non-lawyers, he called it a drug deal, so he couldn`t be misinterpreted, couldn`t be misheard.

And that`s not all, we`re learning from this new witness that Mr. Bolton also warned "Giuliani is a hand-grenade who`s going to blow everybody up." Bolton reportedly told the witness to report her concerns to, not just anybody, but to a top lawyer at the National Security Council which she reportedly did.

What do you have here taken together, it is a very incriminating picture of people who are actively working for Donald Trump, who are most days showing up to work, trying to get his agenda enacted, supporting him, getting paid by the government.

They`re inside the Trump administration, they`re inside the White House, and they`re the ones blowing the whistle. They are the ones in various ways, we`re learning, trying to say Giuliani is pursuing a "Drug deal." Giuliani is a "walking hand grenade." This is not normal stuff. This is not normal testimony.

And I could tell you something else. By the end of the week, a half a dozen people will have stepped up and testified in this impeachment probe. Democrats saying they`re getting critical evidence.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We are learning new and important information in the impeachment inquiry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you heard evidence to this point that would support articles of impeachment against this President?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Yes, Jim, we have--

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Solicitation alone is a criminal act. That`s what the President did. It is shown right there in the transcript. It`s not just a smoking gun. It`s the actual bullet.


MELBER: That is what we`re hearing, and then you have this. What you see on your screen is live news. It`s going to happen during this hour. Speaker Pelosi in a late in the day announcement that she is coming forward after her meeting with her own caucus about impeaching Trump and where the road is from here.

And she`s going to say something from the podium. you`re looking at it, and we will bring it to you. A lot of people interested, some people afraid.

I`m joined now by federal prosecutor, Gene Rossi. He served many years at Department of Justice; And criminal defense attorney Caroline Polisi who represented Mr. Papadopoulos in the Mueller probe and knows her way around some of these national security and legal issues; and Rutgers Professor, Brittney Cooper. Good evening everyone.





MELBER: Hand grenade, drug deal, cooking, not your typical congressional testimony, not even your typical testimony in trials that try to prove drug deals. What did you make of the stark language from Mr. Bolton, an Ivy League educated lawyer, among other things.

ROSSI: He nailed that really well. July 10 is going to be almost as important as July 25th, Ari. Because John Bolton who`s views, I don`t always agree with, he had the innate sense to understand that something rotten was occurring in Denmark. And we make fun at it`s a drug deal, it wasn`t a drug deal.

It was a deal involving the President putting his personal interests and his electoral chances over the welfare of the United States of America--

MELBER: Right. And just to be clear, Gene - and I will go back to you. I think - and I`m curious of your analysis. But I think what Mr. Bolton was trying to do in no uncertain terms in a world where every time the President asked for foreign collusion, it`s later dismissed as a joke, was not have a high-level legal discussion about whether this may or may not violate any technical federal law.

But say, look, this is over the line. This is a plot. This is a conspiracy and drug deal is something anyone can understand is in the White House, gosh, get away from the drug deal they`re cooking.

ROSSI: Absolutely. He saw conspiracy and a conspiracy allegedly existed among the President Giuliani, these two other people Lev and Igor. They sound like characters in "Doctor Zhivago". I got to tell you this case reeks of an impeachable offense.

And that Congresswoman who just said solicitation is the crime. A quid pro quo, you only two quid, and he held up $400 million to Ukraine, 10 percent of their defense budget. And they were pleading with us for help against the Russians and Trump tried to use it like a carrot.

MELBER: Brittney, we have sat at this table before and talked about the things Donald Trump does.


MELBER: --and he`s criticized for many. I would observe that Donald Trump merits the criticism for many things.


MELBER: But merits impeachment for very few, and I think that`s what the founders intended. Many terrible things that politicians can do are not what the founders defined as impeachable.

Here we are bumping up against one that the Congress says may indeed be impeachable. That it is not only reprehensible or objectionable or derogatory or discriminatory, but that it is the kind of abuse of power or as Gene was discussing, bribe, one of the enumerated constitutional offenses for impeachment.

And thinking about that, I want to play for you Rex Tillerson, who`s been around the block, running an oil company. It`s been up to the line, let`s be real. But he said he was getting all kinds of orders to go over the line. Take a look.


REX TILLERSON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: When the President said, well, here`s what I want to do, and here`s how I want to do it. And I`d have to say to him, well, Mr. President I understand what you want to do, but you can`t do it that way. It violates the law, it violates the treaty. He got really frustrated--


MELBER: He didn`t just get frustrated, he oust people who don`t go along. And what does that say to you about the testimony today which quotes Mr. Bolton, who also was out.

COOPER: Yes, look, what I`m really sitting here thinking is Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the king`s horses and all the king`s men couldn`t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

MELBER: You know, Britney, bars - nursery bar.

COOPER: Look, I`ve been tight, since I was a kid. So - but the other point of this is that it`s quite basic. We tell children don`t lie. We tell children don`t cheat. And we have a President who doesn`t have the morality of a five-year-old and who thinks that it`s fine to sort of engage in a shakedown and to basically use the White House and the power of the U.S. presidency to run a crime syndicate.

And then to essentially try to strong-arm anyone who doesn`t want to go along. What is more shocking is that most of the men around the President are a cast of shady characters. And at the point that the shady characters start to say this is too far. Then all of us should recognize that our hair is literally on fire at this point and that he has to go.

What I appreciate that the Democrats have done in this moment is they have seized on what is a simple narrative. You cannot use foreign interference to win an election. Now, why we didn`t know that in 2015, 2016, 2017, is the thing that I`m inclined not to be generous about.

MELBER: Well, let me--

COOPER: --he playing from the same play book, because--

MELBER: Let me press you on that though.


MELBER: One difference with 2016 is, the evidence we have, and I read the Mueller report twice, and your client was in it. You know the Mueller report well. The evidence suggested that Russia was coming into the U.S., that they were starting it. Doesn`t mean you could get their help, but that`s where it started.


MELBER: And one difference that these Democrats are pointing to is now it`s the sitting President and the plot is not coming from Russia, the plot is coming from inside the White House.

COOPER: Look, I think it`s a distinction without a difference.

MELBER: You do.

COOPER: Yes. But we`ll take it right. Right. This is a man who stood at a podium and said bring me the e-mails, hack the e-mails and bring them to me. This is - he was inviting them and to interfere, and we gave him a pass. Now we have seen him be entirely consistent with what he said.

He didn`t have the U.S.` best interests at heart when he ran for the presidency, he has continued to ruin our foreign interest around the globe. He`s totally engaged right now in a realignment of power that we haven`t seen since World War II and we`re going to be paying the price for that for generations.

But the thing that I want to say is that the thing we keep learning in this country is that you cannot get in bed with white supremacy without it having global repercussions. The U.S. had to learn this lesson in the 19th Century. We had to learn in the 20th. And apparently we`re terrible students. And white folks - I wouldn`t even say people of color, but white folks are having to learn it again in the 21st Century.

MELBER: Very interesting everything you lay out there, including Humpty. We`re not talking Humpty dance.

COOPER: No. The chance to do the home (ph) always.


MELBER: Shock gee, Caroline. Look, here`s the deal. This looks pretty serious. As someone who dealt with the Mueller probe, do you see the underlying allegations, not asking us to resolve them.

POLISI: Right.

MELBER: But do you see the underlying allegations here as more serious than that?

POLISI: Well, I think - and picking up on some of the stuff that Brittney just said. I think one of the lessons we can learn from sort of having been through the Mueller probe at this point is that, we, perhaps, are looking at this too much in a legal lens if we`re thinking about impeachment.

But the Mueller probe we were so quick to see if it met the statutory elements of whatever crime that we were trying to figure out.

MELBER: So let me direct you then. So if not a legal lens, meaning, not each element.

POLISI: Right.

MELBER: Then what is the right lens?

POLISI: Well the impeachment lens is inherently political. Right? So we can`t sit here and say, does it meet the elements to get to whatever two- thirds of the Senate is going to qualify for removal. So - there`s a famous quote that, "Impeachment and impeachable offense is really just whatever the Congress thinks it is at that moment in history."

MELBER: Yes. But I`ll - I`ll maybe push back on you respectfully. That quote could also be said as conviction is whatever 12 jurors think it is. It`s a description of a process. But any Congress that takes this seriously, and in history the Congress has have taken it seriously, partly explaining why the Senate has never actually removed someone from office under conviction - a high bar, but also agonizingly searching over it.

The Congress is supposed to look to the text the Constitution and say not a political disagreement, not a criticism of the of the morality of the individual, but rather a high crime misdemeanor, treason or bribery.

POLISI: Right. And actually if you look at what the quintessential founding fathers - what they thought quintessentially would constitute a high crime and misdemeanor, this certainly falls way more within that spectrum than any of the other sort of impeachments we`ve seen in history, which is obviously putting personal political interest above the interest of a party.

But I think what we`re seeing here is a mosaic really. We`re seeing the whistleblower is almost - you don`t need the whistleblower anymore at this point, because we`ve got so much here putting together the pieces of this puzzle.

MELBER: Well, let me bring in - that`s such a great point. Let me bring in Gene back--


MELBER: And then to the back to the New York panel - to the panel here on set. But Gene, you look at Caroline who knows her way around these probes is talking about the role the whistle blow.

The original whistleblower, because it`s anonymous, because there`s much intrigue as this sort of excitement, but I feel like today if you imagine there wasn`t an original whistleblower and we just learned that John Bolton, who is aligned with Donald Trump, saw this all as a criminal drug deal, being perpetuated by a freelancing wannabe Secretary of State, who he called a - basically a walking hand grenade. I think that would be even bigger than the original whistleblower description.

ROSSI: I think you`re absolutely right. John Bolton would be the classic canary in a coal mine. But I want to address something that Caroline said. I agree, it is a political decision to impeach and then to try someone in the Senate, especially the President of United States.

But this is a double-barrel shotgun. You have all the elements beyond the reasonable doubt, in fact, the target the President has confessed to bribery, extortion, foreign corrupt practices act, it`s all there. And Exhibit 1 would be the transcript of this call. Exhibit 2 would be his own admission in front of the White House. So it is a political decision. But here you have--

MELBER: Yes, let me make a suggestion. When we use this word political, I just think that word has so many meanings. Right? It`s like saying bad meaning bad or bad meaning good, and at a certain point it collapses under its own weight.

The reference that I think Ms. Polisi, was making is that - that Gerald Ford famously said, "Yes, it`s whatever the Senate agrees on." I think what you`re both referring to is unlike a jury it is a political body, it is the Congress that will vote on this. So it`s - you can it`s a political decision, but you could also say it`s the Senate decision.

You could also just say legislators will look to their constituents, as they usually do, as they consider this process. But I don`t think it`s political in the sense of electoral politics. Indeed, there was great antipathy towards George W. Bush politically. He was not ever impeached.

COOPER: Ari, I think that there`s actually a really important point here too, though. That part of what they mean when they`re saying that it`s political, as I understand it, is that it`s going to be perceived as partisan bias. Right?

And that the way that we get out of some of that or the way that we have to think about it is, what kind of story do you tell so that in this highly polarized political moment folks understand that the stake - the - that our democracy is at stake here. That this is not actually about the Democrats going after their sort of enemy number one.

And I don`t think that we`ve done a good job of narrativizing that. But I also don`t know that in this moment--

MELBER: Who? Who are you talking about the Democrats?

COOPER: The Democrats, yes. I mean, I don`t think that the country trusts politicians in general and I think that the country is deeply polarized. And so the one thing that we do have to do, and I see them trying to say it`s not political and it`s legal, because when you use that language and what it means is, this is objective.

MELBER: Right.

COOPER: Objectively this person stood at the on the White House lawn and said I did these things, and so this is the battle about whether or not this is going to be perceived as political or legal. And what we need to say is the truth is the thing that has to stand here. Facts have to lead our decision making.

MELBER: Right.

COOPER: And we know he did these things. He told us he did them. He has left us no other recourse.

MELBER: Well, that`s - and I think Caroline what`s so interesting, again having your expertise from representing people in the Mueller probe. The Mueller probe had a lot of different people politically rooting for impeachment. But I think it is a testament to the system, however much people disagree, that it is facts that have moved us closer to impeachment as a country right now.

And now some argued well there were enough facts to begin with. But whatever you think happened, I don`t think that the resistance dislikes Donald Trump more today than it did a year ago. Right?

COOPER: Hopefully we don`t--

MELBER: It`s addition of facts--

COOPER: I mean, hopefully, what we don`t decide is that we need criminals to confess to their crimes in the public to the to the media in order to think that we can enact these political--

MELBER: And I`m making--

COOPER: --I think that`s a terrible bar.

MELBER: But I`m making a procedural point.


MELBER: which is, whatever one thinks, so people might disagree about getting there.


MELBER: The process has been a process of the addition of facts, not the addition of antipathy towards a politician.

COOPER: You`re right about that.

MELBER: That`s one thing. Let me play Adam Schiff speaking of facts, saying that they`re getting a lot of evidence in these closed sessions. Take a look.


SCHIFF: We`re doing these initial hearings in closed session and it makes a lot of sense to do that when you`re conducting an investigation, because I`m sure, the White House would like nothing more than to be able to get their story straight by hearing what these witnesses have to say.

And there are good and important investigative reasons not to let one witness know what another witness has said.


POLISI: That`s exactly right. I mean, it`s prosecution one on one. Right? You want to separate the witnesses so that they can`t get their story straight.

I think that Fiona Hills testimony, obviously, corroborated everything that we`ve been hearing about, especially I think what Gene was referring to the Igor Fruman and the Lev Parnas indictments recently. Part of that indictment said that they were working with Giuliani in this sort of shadow or rogue diplomacy to get Yovanovitch out of that position as Ambassador to the Ukraine.

And Hill corroborated that, and she was a fierce advocate for Yovanovitch, saying that she stood up and said that this isn`t right. That she did not like what she was seeing and it`s all consistent with the narrative that we`ve been - that we`ve heard about. And so I think that Schiff is right that this is going quite well for that.

MELBER: And you say that, again, as someone who`s represented Trump advisers, which is interesting.

POLISI: Yes, it is interesting.

MELBER: What I`m going to do is, because we`re waiting on Pelosi, is some of our guests are going to return. We`re going to fit in a break. Again, as always, my thanks to an expert panel kicking this off, Gene, Caroline and Brittney.

ROSSI: Thank you.

MELBER: Speaker Pelosi coming out any moment to hold this press conference on impeachment. This comes after a meeting with House Democrats. You`re looking at the podium. We`re going to bring it to you live and with breaking analysis coming out of it.

Also, moments ago, a new subpoena in the federal probe into Giuliani - this just landed, hit the news. We`re going to explain that when we come back from the break.

And later, former cabinet official Robert Rice discusses Giuliani`s attempts at creating his own shadow diplomacy. I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching special coverage on THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Breaking news crossing the wires right now. The feds are subpoenaing Former Congressman Pete Sessions all over interactions with Rudy Giuliani and has indicted associates, this coming from "The Wall Street Journal" moments ago.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports it is part of the broader federal criminal probe that now includes Rudy Giuliani. They`re seeking documents from Sessions related to the business dealings that Giuliani had with these individuals connected to Ukraine, as well as specifically efforts to oust the U.S. ambassador, and interactions between Sessions, Giuliani, and four of Giuliani`s associates, who were of course indicted.

This news comes as right now Democrats are meeting behind closed doors in the Congress about what they`re going to do in potentially impeaching Donald Trump. And that`s not all, Donald Trump`s personal lawyer, Giuliani, under criminal investigation over Ukraine.

Today he`s getting hear from all sides, damning new reporting about his criminal liability and how is weakening Donald Trump`s hand in the broader impeachment probe.

That`s not all. Confirmation from Giuliani himself that he received $0.5 million just last year to consult for Ukrainian company, which was co- founded by, yes, one of these indicted Ukrainian linked associates who was, of course, in the middle of this issue that is also being probed by the Congressional impeachment investigators.

So right there, that`s a lot. The timing of the payments suggest that Giuliani was earning this money around the very same time that he was working with these men who`ve now been arrested in this pursuit, among other things, to try to get a foreign government to go after Joe Biden.

The feds scouring any links to Giuliani had and what the business was all about and the prosecutor`s office that he once ran, the Southern District, also examining his personal finances, according to "Wall Street Journal back."

Back in Washington, a flood of damaging information about Giuliani emerging, a diplomat, testifying that he warned colleagues in March about Giuliani`s role in a separate disinformation campaign that was trying to help oust the Ambassador.

Another adviser revealing she raised concerns directly with White House lawyers at the direction of ousted National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who of course, made some waves today calling Giuliani a "walking hand grenade."

So you have the heat bearing down on the person who`s supposed to deflect the heat from Donald Trump as more and more impeachment witnesses are clearly rejecting Donald Trump`s attempt to create a stonewall and they are starting to spill the tea.

Giuliani is not talking lately. We, of course, have seen him on Fox News. But he`s saying he`s not going to go under oath right now. Take a listen to him talking to ABC talking about a congressional subpoena.

I should mention also there`s an official working on the impeachment inquiry that tells NBC News that Giuliani will ultimately have to be forced to consider whether what he does in stonewalling will become evidence of obstruction against, yes, Donald Trump, the man he`s trying to defend.

So what happens now? Where does the investigation go? And who might turn on who? We have some very special guests on the Giuliani of it all and how it connects to impeachment and the cabinet, a former SDNY prosecutor and a cabinet official when I`m back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: New subpoenas in the Giuliani probe, new heat on Giuliani. As promised, we were back with a former SDNY Prosecutor Miriam Baer and Robert Reich, a former Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration and the author of "The Common Good." Nice to see you both.

MIRIAM BEAR: Good to see you.

MELBER: Robert Rice, what do you see in the foreign policy of this? How unusual is it? And how potentially criminal is it to have someone basically trying to pass themselves off as their own Secretary of State?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: Well, Ari, the issue here is that, Presidents have secretaries of state who go through a process to get not only nominated and confirmed to the Senate, but also take an oath of office to the people of the United States. Not to the President, but people of United States.

This Secretary of State role is extremely important. And Donald Trump has essentially appointed Rudy Giuliani has his own shadow Secretary of State. Giuliani has been going all around the world, making all kinds of deals. We are beginning to find out what kind of deals they are.

We know that in Ukraine, Giuliani has been involved in trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. This is not necessarily something new. I mean, we know that Donald Trump--

MELBER: OK. But I`m going to--

REICH: --has directly done that.

MELBER: --I`m not asking you if it`s new. I`m saying, given your work inside a cabinet, is this normal, is it abnormal?

REICH: Oh, It`s completely abnormal. No, that`s completely abnormal and it may be criminal.

MELBER: Miriam Baer?

MIRIAM BAER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So the world for Mr. Giuliani has changed remarkably in even just a week. It`s one thing to say well you were acting as a shadow Secretary of State, which I assume, there would be various people within the Trump administration who would say, no, he really wasn`t, and that`s one set of facts.

But what we`re starting here now is that the Southern District of New York is investigating a whole bunch of other contacts that he had with a bunch of people in the Ukraine. And those behaviors are not going to be easily talked away or spun away--

MELBER: Because there`s financial evidence?

BAER: Exactly. I mean - and not only that, the evidence is held by third parties. You can stone all you want - stonewall all you want, if you`re Mr. Giuliani. But as you can see from what you were talking about earlier, you can get the documents from somewhere else.

MELBER: Yes. Let`s - I mean you make such interesting point, because so many political battles are debates over who says what. And you`re saying the evidence is more powerful than anyone self-interested defense or stonewalling.

This story, which just crossed the wire from "The Journal" says "Giuliani" is the "primary focus" of the new subpoena against its former Congressman. Giuliani has "denied" wrongdoing and said he has no indication that he`s being investigated.

It doesn`t seem to matter whether he knows, it appears that other people know if confirmed by multiple folks. What does it tell you, the office that you used to work, SDNY, is subpoenaing former Congressman Sessions to get at Giuliani.

BAER: I think they`re acting slowly and deliberately, which is exactly the way you would expect them to act. Right? Which is to say, OK, we`re going to look at the whole universe of potential crimes. We`re not looking at anything one particular narrative.

And the minute we find something of interest, we`re going to follow that path, we`re going to follow multiple paths. There`s no reason to believe that Mr. Sessions is the only person who has received a subpoena. We just heard about that right now.

We would expect - I would expect the Southern District of New York to have served basically basics a grand jury to have serve bank - subpoenas on multiple banks. You wouldn`t expect them to stop with just one bank. And from there, it`s sort of like a web, right? And it sort of expands.

And one thing to keep mind, and this is different from the impeachment inquiry. Impeachment, there is a benefit to the House that we get this drip, drip, drip, nice drip of information that we hear about and it moves quickly.

A criminal investigation is different, right, particularly when it`s before the grand jury. It`s secret. Right? Now, obviously, things come out. But the most part it`s secret, and that`s really beneficial to the government, because it`s that secrecy that protects your evidence.

That protects against despoliation of evidence. And at least, protects potentially against obstruction, because if nobody knows where the government`s going, right, where those subpoenas are going, it`s harder to destroy evidence.

MELBER: So how do you explain - and it`s something that`s a lot of people have been exploring. You worked at SDNY, tough prosecutors?

BAER: Definitely.

MELBER: Usually win their cases?

BAER: Yes.

MELBER: Statistically they do, yes.

BAER: Right.

MELBER: How do you explain Giuliani putting himself in a position where the office that he knows so well, and he knows how tough they are, and he knows how much they succeed, is under that glare? I mean, how does he get out from under this, and how do you make that mistake?

BAER: So there`s this remarkable amount of psychology out there that asks why do people in high places to really dumb things. And there`s a lot of work out there that suggests it`s not something that comes all at once. Right? It`s something you make a little bit of it - it`s called ethical fading. Right?

You tell yourself maybe 10 years ago, 20 years ago, I`m just making a little move here. I`m just doing something that`s a little unethical, a little wrongful. And then you convince yourself after you`ve moved the line that you can make another move that`s a little unethical, a little more wrongful.

MELBER: And you think he`s on the wrong side of the line now?

BAER: I think we`re likely to find out - I`d like to wait and see everything that comes out. Certainly, what I`ve seen horrifies me. But I think we`re going to see a lot more.

MELBER: Yes. Let me bring let me bring Robert Reich back in. You`ve been patiently a part of this. But listening to Miriam`s very interesting analysis, including the lawyerly statement that she`d like to wait for all the evidence, but she`s also horrified by the available evidence.

Walk us through the larger part of this in the administration, Robert. Because when we hear that John Bolton was moved to this degree, to go to the lawyers of National Security Council, tell his aide to do that. To go say this is a drug deal. What does that tell you about the level of concern before any of this was public?

REICH: Well, not only - I mean, John Bolton, let`s be clear. John Bolton is not a hero of the Democrats or liberals. I mean, John Bolton is about as conservative as they come. But conservative liberal is not really the issue here. Neither is Republican, Democrat.

The issue is what`s going to happen to a President that is freelancing with a rogue Secretary of State and everybody is beginning to ask follow the money. This is what we heard in the Nixon - Watergate era.

MELBER: So, I guess, I`m curious about your view of the Bolton thing now.

REICH: And Bolton, - well, Bolton is somebody who is close to the President. The President hired. And for Bolton to say this is going to be a hand grenade that could blow up, be careful, that is very, very significant, because Bolton has seen exactly what`s going on.

Bolton also has named other people inside the White House. The Chief of Staff is part of what might be a conspiracy. Bolton names him as part of something that`s going on that could blow up in everybody`s face.

Ari, I think just stepping back from all of this. My only concern here honestly is that there was already evidence. We already know that the President of the United States and there is a transcript showing that he tried to get dirt on a potential opponent from a foreign power and we also know that that is impeachable. That`s an impeachable offense.

The more complex this becomes, the more we go into Rudolph Giuliani and John Bolton and have all these other characters, it builds up a case potentially for impeachment. But you already have an impeachment case. You don`t want to confuse it. You don`t want to confuse the public.

If you want to get have any prayer of getting 20 Republican Senators to back impeachment, that`s the number you need if every Democratic Senator goes along with it. You`ve got to have a public that understands exactly what happened.

MELBER: Right. You are speaking about the challenge posed to you - your Democratic Party and to what Pelosi does and we`re going to hear from her when she steps out on this podium within the hour we`re told by the House.

Of course, that`s a different project. And the project we`re doing here which is gathering all the evidence. So the evidence on Giuliani, what happens in this probe, whether ultimately it exculpate s or incriminates is something we`re doing. Although I understand it`s different than the project of Democrats trying to tell the simplest story.

MELBER: I`m going to fit in a break Miriam. The final question I have, though, on where we go from here is. Based on your knowledge of SDNY, and why and the type of case this isn`t Giuliani, are we talking weeks, months, years - some cases are complex. I would note the Cohen case SDNY moved very swiftly on.

BAER: So I wouldn`t expect years. I think the difference between weeks and months might be a case of what do you find, what additionally do you find. Right? The more you find, the more you`re going to want to make sure that you get all your ducks in a row.

MELBER: But if you say not years, based on this being a case about things Giuliani`s discuss publicly, financial documents around these individuals, several them already indicted. Ballpark, I`m not going to hold you to it. But ballpark you`re talking about under six months they either move or don`t move on other subjects in the probe?

BAER: With some caveats, because you might want to see if there really was a chance that the President would be removed under impeachment. You might say, I`m going to put this on hold and wait for that ball to sort of resolve.

But that being said, right, because you might be worried about something like pardons, right. So putting that aside. OK, putting that aside--

MELBER: Well who`s bringing up pardons? Now, you`re so careful, you bringing up pardons.

BAER: No, but I`m telling is. If that`s what you are worried about, if you`re thinking I want to preserve my case--


BAER: I don`t have to worry about my statute of limitations, because this all took place within what--

MELBER: Well, you know, it`s funny you mention that, and you have so much knowledge about this. Donald Trump hasn`t pardoned almost anybody directly in these issues - Arpaio and others, but not anyone in any of this. You think the first conflicted, sort of, potentially appealable type pardon would be Giuliani?

BAER: No, and I wouldn`t in any way suggest it. But to him - but that being said--

MELBER: You wouldn`t recommend it.

BAER: No, I would never recommend it. But I would be worried about it. I`m saying if I am--

MELBER: --from an investigative--

BAER: --you are asking me, what do the prosecutors do. And if I`m a prosecutor and I have all my ducks in a row, I still might think, I should wait and see where all this goes for a little bit.

MELBER: It`s fascinating to hear you lay that out, and having served in SDNY and to listen to both of you, Robert and Miriam, given your extensive experience on the night when we`re waiting on the Speaker of the House to discuss the potential impeachment of the President. And we`re hearing former members of Congress have been subpoenaed in the Giuliani probe. And Mr. Giuliani says he`s going to, of course, fight these subpoenas.

My special thanks to Miriam and Robert. And what you see here is a seven minutes into the call time. You see the assembled press. We`re going to bring this to you on the other side when Speaker Pelosi comes out. I`ll be right back.


MELBER: We are following breaking news. As you see right here, I think, we`ll put this in full, because I want to show you the room. Let`s take a look at - yes, here we go. This is sometimes what happens in Washington.

I`ve been promising you the Pelosi presser. You`ve got the reporters assembled, but she is still at this hour huddling with her Democratic colleagues. Why? Why the delay, why the intrigue? Well, we`ll bring it to you when Speaker Pelosi comes out to give this impeachment press conference, we will show it to you.

But now as that delay, is we have another story. Democratic candidates gearing up for tonight`s debate - the fourth democratic debate and the biggest one ever. 12 candidates taking the stage. The first debate since Ukraine`s scandal exploded, and the first since Bernie Sanders` heart attack.

  Joining me now is Robert Barnett, Partner, Williams & Connolly, and one of the foremost debate experts alive. He`s advised ten presidential campaigns and played a key role in debate prep in 10 of the last 11 cycles, including playing the role of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Bernie Sanders` in practice debates, the perfect person to have. How you`re doing?

BOB BARNETT, DEBATE EXPERT: I`m glad to be here.

MELBER: I`m really glad to have you Bob with your experience. What`s key at this stage with these candidates in the debate?

BARNETT: Well there`ll be 12 on this stage, obviously, and that`s a lot of people. And the managing of that will itself be interesting. I think, it`s fair to say there are three in the top tier right now and each one of them has their own mission, their own goals, their own worries, take them one at a time.

I think that Joe Biden has well answered the criticisms that have come totally unfairly in my view from the White House. Here`s a chance, 90 seconds which doesn`t seem like a lot, but it is a lot, to actually answer that with a viewership of maybe 15 or however many million--

MELBER: To nail that--


MELBER: What about Warren at a time when many are looking at her at the higher level of weight if she could be President?

BARNETT: She`s now the front-runner, and so she has to debate like a front- runner. I think the things that will come at her, either from the hosts or from the others, will be the whole losing the job, from pregnancy issue that`s been filtering around. And also of course the ruminating that`s going on about how she pays for her plans, particularly in the context of health care. I`m sure she`ll be ready. She got great people--

MELBER: And who is your number three?

BARNETT: I think you say still, Senator Sanders is number three. And given the unfortunate health problems that he`s had over the last couple of weeks, I think he will have to put that to rest.

MELBER: Other candidates have run into this. I mean Senator Sanders is known for his work ethic for getting around the country. I mean, these are big rallies. He keeps a busy schedule. He had this health challenge. Here`s how one famous, famous candidate dealt with this in an exchange. Look at this.


RONALD REAGAN, 40TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponents` youth and inexperience.


BARNETT: That was one of the all-time great lines, sadly at the expense of my dear friend Walter Mondale.

Bernie is not known as a humorist, so it will be hard for him to I think pull off something like that. But I think--

MELBER: How do you address it then if it`s on the mind--

BARNETT: I think he probably has to address it directly.

MELBER: The recent debates have had discussions of some candidate`s age and they`ve had other moments where we`ve seen people really try to break out and say they were different kind of Democrat in a year when people are looking at a very different kind of presidential incumbent to run against. Take a look at some of those recent moments.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They do not have to buy in.

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You just said that. You just said that two minutes ago. You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in.

Biden: --If you qualify for Medicaid, you`d automatically be .

Castro: You said they would have to buy in. Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I remember President Trump scoffed and said he`d like to see me making a deal with Xi Jinping. I`d like to see him making a deal with Xi Jinping.

BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hell, yes, we`re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We`re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore--


MELBER: You say it`s 12. It`s a big stage. But how much does it matter for the other candidates to get moments without looking phony?

BARNETT: Well, let me answer that in two ways. First of all, I hope we will not spend the two-three hours with my friends attacking each other. There`s plenty to talk about with respect to the incumbent President.

Now to answer your question directly. It`s particularly important for the people below that first tier to try to do those breakout moments, and you can do them, and they`ve been done. But as that clip you just showed proved, it doesn`t work if you do it against one of your fellow the candidates.

I think innerves to your detriment. I think Castro learned that the hard way, I think Kamala Harris, after getting a temporary bump, probably didn`t do well by her school busing comments.

I think you`re better off arguing for yourself, attacking the people you`re going to be running against, and certainly talking policy and differentiating your plans and your programs and your pay-fors. But going against each other, I don`t think it`s going to be a breakout moment for whoever does that.

MELBER: Bob Barnett always a pleasure to have you here.

BARNETT: Thank you for getting me in here today.

MELBER: Absolutely. Busy news times. Bob Barnett our special guest--

And as mentioned, we are still keeping an eye on this 6:45 p.m. and Speaker Pelosi has not come out to the podium yet. But as promised, I`ll always update you. We will show it live as she comes out. Meanwhile, we have a lot more on the impeachment push when we come back.


MELBER: We`re following breaking news right now. Speaker Pelosi has just adjourned this caucus meeting. You`re looking at brand-new video of some of the members leaving. You see Elijah Cummings walking right there. Here that meeting let out at least 20 minutes late. Here we have a few more members.

So this is - excuse me, I have John Lewis. This is - seeing this as we go. This is basically what happens on a breaking news night. There`s been a lot going on. Speaker Pelosi during this meeting and waiting along with all the press you see gathered here, and I showed this earlier tonight, a lot of the Capitol reporters waiting here.

Well into heading into 7 p.m. in Washington for that press conference. And this is not a normal press conference, to state sort of the obvious, as we report this out. What we`re looking at - what we`re going to see is Speaker Pelosi coming out of a meeting. Well, we do know according to reporting, one of the items of debate was how to proceed in what is an escalating impeachment probe, and should there be a House floor vote.

I can tell you NBC News has reporting that suggest Speaker Pelosi is not expected to announce that tonight. You may recall President Trump had kind of taunted the Democrats and said they should hold a vote before anything else happens.

I also want to read from reporting by "POLITICO" that we haven`t firmed up yet. But they use the terminology quote "no consensus" inside the caucus meeting about whether or not to hold that floor vote.

So we have a lot here that is very interesting. As I promised you, when Speaker Pelosi does take the podium you`ll see it right here on MSNBC. And we`ll keep an eye on any of these members of Congress who are filing out in real time from that high-stakes meeting.

I want to bring back in our experts right now starting. with Professor Brittney Cooper, nice to see you again.

COOPER: Good to see you.

MELBER: One of those nights right?

COOPER: I know it.

MELBER: Now you know people think sometimes, oh the media, we`re hyping. No, we got a 6:30 time for the Speaker.

COOPER: Look, it`s not your fault. I mean this is the wheels of democracy turning and they always turn much more slowly than we want.

MELBER: Well, there you go. I think - I like that you - that`s a higher- level kind of way you put it. Now, let us think about democracy.

I will tell you that as this means literally - while they were in there. As this meeting was going on--


MELBER: Wall Street Journal had another scoop. There`s all these scoops that we`ve been discussing that uh there`s new subpoenas targeting Rudy Giuliani and his dealings with a former member of Congress. That comes after these arrests.

Donald Trump made a point of having this public embrace weekend lunch meeting with Giuliani. But he has also done these other things to distance lawyers. Take a look at just some of that language.


MELBER: Do we have that? We may have it. If not, let me show you--


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Are you going to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee?

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: That is a question that has a lot of, lot of implication. I wouldn`t cooperate what Adam Schiff. I think Adam Schiff should be removed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that`s your answer, you`re not going to cooperate.

GIULIANI: I didn`t say that. I said I will consider it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you wouldn`t do it. GIULIANI: I said--

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said, you would not cooperate with that--

GIULIANI: I said, I will consider it--


MELBER: That`s, as sometimes happens, not the one I was thinking of. But he has said, oh ask Michael Cohen, and then last week he said ask Rudy Giuliani. He said, he wasn`t sure if he`s his lawyer. And then moves back. What do you see there and how does that relate to the impeachment probe?

COOPER: Yes, I mean, look, these men don`t have any respect for the rule of law. They`re entirely lawless and renegade. At this point they`re all you know sort of operating under the CYA principle. Everyone is trying to protect, cover your - everyone is trying to protect their neck.

MELBER: Protect your neck.

COOPER: Look, I`m--

MELBER: You started with Humpty, now you`re bringing Wu-Tang - maybe I`m happy this presser was delayed. I do have it. We`re a little delayed. Take a look at the other time this came up. Take a look.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know them. I don`t know about them. I don`t know what they do. But - I don`t know, maybe there 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 will have to ask Michael--


COOPER: These men are obstructionist. They don`t have any respect for the rule of law and the thing that is more disturbing is that they actually think it`s OK to lie to the American people. How do you have the sort of chief enforcer of the law, of the rule of law essentially every day skirting that law inviting other people to not cooperate?

When they say we won`t cooperate, let`s actually use the right language, they`re saying they`re going to obstruct justice. They`re saying they`re going to undermine our own legal process.

MELBER: I think that`s such an important point you make, because it actually gets obscured.


MELBER: If you want to debate it out and, say hey this subpoena was too broad, and my lawyer has a reasonable argument to narrow it. That happens all the time.


MELBER: When they say before anything I`m defying it as you say, they`re just saying they won`t cooperate with law enforcement if it`s the feds.

COOPER: They`re saying that that you can become too powerful in this country to be compelled by the law. And to the extent that we have anything like a social contract in this country, the idea that men just get to opt out, because power and money allow them to is something that should disturb all of us.

MELBER: Very important as we`re tracking Pelosi, I`ve got David Corn who phoned in, following this. David, you know that the caucus meeting just adjourned. We`re waiting on speaker Pelosi.

This does feel like with Congress returning something of the - at least if you look at the next month or two, the do-or-die time. You get out past December and you`re into 2020. What do you see coming out of this caucus meeting from your reporting in Washington, sir?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF (via telephone): Well, I`ve talked to a few people and it seems like there is - as NBC News has already confirmed, no consensus on whether to have this vote that Trump is demanding an impeachment inquiry vote.

Rudy Giuliani and Trump`s some lawyers are claiming that the impeachment inquiry is not legitimate because there wasn`t a vote overall in the House floor to proceed with this. And there`s still some House Democrats - even those who`ve said publicly that they supported inquiry, who seem to be a little bit reluctant to vote for it an impeachment inquiry.

Which they will - I guess, here will be portrayed as them voting for the impeachment of Donald Trump, rather than for what`s going on now which is an investigation, to determine whether there should be articles of impeachment which will have to brought before the House floor for them to pass and go on to the Senate.

So it`s a little bit of a somewhat of a technicality here. But it is something that`s turning you know the house Democratic caucus into knots over this. I think in some way you know Pelosi may just need to sort of force members to swallow hearty and vote for this so they can just take this off the off the the debate stage and move ahead.

Because, you`re right, there`s not a lot of time. You know what`s going to happen if this moves on until next year and they don`t pass any articles of impeachment to January, February, March or April, what is the Senate going to say? The Republican Senate, we have an election coming up let`s just leave it at that--

MELBER: Exactly. And you just as you often do David, put your finger on an important point in the calendar, which is Pelosi getting ready to take the stage, the viewers are looking at right now, while Democratic candidates are getting ready to take the stage in a couple hours. She may be trying to give the latest update so they know what the House is really going to do, which is her Providence.

Before we pass this off to hardball which will continue our special coverage of this of this breaking story David, I want you to take a listen to Hunter Biden speaking out for the first time since he was dragged into this whole Ukraine plot today. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never thought this might not look right.

HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You know what, I`m a human. And you know what, did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yes. But did I make a mistake based upon some on ethical lapse? Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you`re a distraction right now to your father`s campaign?

BIDEN: No, personally, myself I`m not as necessarily a distraction to his campaign.


MELBER: David joining us by phone. Did hunter Biden make a mistake by joining that board and would he have been on that board if his last name wasn`t Biden?

CORN (VIA TELEPHONE): Of course it was a mistake. This happens all the time. It`s not necessarily illegal. It`s not even necessary unethical. But it is part of the swamp that Donald Trump has railed against.

And we see it all the time we see it with--

MELBER: So David Corn, I just want to be clear - David Corn from Mother Jones, your view tonight - you`re reporting - your view is a Hunter Biden is part of Donald Trump`s swamp?

CORN (VIA TELEPHONE): He is part of the overall swamp of Washington where nepotism and connections often determine actions and it`s wrong with whatever side does it it`s not illegal and it`s not necessarily unethical. But it is a distraction. It should not have happened. And you can pick this out you know the same thing going on in Trump`s White House at a hyper speed--

MELBER: Yes, David Corn joining us by phone. I`m jumping in the Speaker, as promised, has taken the lectern. Let`s listen.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): --we`ll be joined by our distinguished Chairman as soon as he finished voting. I will begin by talking about how pleased I am with the work that our members did during the break.

As I say all the time, we are legislating, we are investigating and we are litigating. On the legislative front we had very great drumbeat across America for HR 3. Our legislation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs now. Members had town meetings, press conferences and the rest to listen to peoples` concerns, to share what we intended to do.

And now we`re back this week, two Committees, Education and Labor under Bobby Scott`s leadership will be marking HR 3. Energy and Commerce under Frank - Chairman Frank Pallone will be marking up HR 3.