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Trump impeachment probe TRANSCRIPT: 10/21/2019, The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: John Flannery, David Frum, Tim O`Brien, Matt Welch, Elise Jordan, Nicholas Confessore

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 21, 2019


KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: You keep doing it.

MOHYELDIN: You nailed it. Well done.

TUR: You nailed. You knew what I was going to do.

MOHYELDIN: All right. Thank you very much Katy. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. We have a lot of ground to cover this hour.

Tonight exclusive new details on how Democrats plan to impeach Donald Trump. Also, new revelation about Rudy Giuliani`s indicted associates and Trump`s legal team. And Trump attacks the U.S. Constitution after giving up plans for a world summit at his golf course. We`re going to get to all of it.

But we want to begin with Donald Trump conceding that his impeachment looks increasingly likely.


REPORTER: Do you believe it`s foregone conclusion that the House will impeach?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think they want to - any Democrat wants to, because they`re not going to beat me in the election. So, of course, they want on impeach. Why wouldn`t they want to page me? It`s so illegitimate. It cannot be the way the founders - our great founders meant this to be. They`ve got nothing. All they have is a phone call that was perfect.


MOHYELDIN: Now, of course, the call wasn`t perfect by a stretch of the imagination and the founding father specifically said that impeachment was a remedy if a President tried to give foreign election help.

Now the truth is this. The pressure is on Trump and it is growing by the day and his top aides are struggling to defend him. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went on Fox News to try to clean up his mess or his admission, if you will, that he held up or that the administration held up aid to Ukraine to try and pressure them to investigate Democrats.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: You were asked specifically by Jonathan Karl was investigating Democrats one of the conditions for holding up the aid, was that part of the quid pro quo. And you said it happens all the time.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Go back and watch what I said before.

WALLACE: But, Mick, you know I hate to go through this. But you said what you said.

MULVANEY: There is not a quid pro quo.

WALLACE: You were asked by Jonathan Karl is that you described a quid pro quo? And you said that happens all the time.

MULVANEY: Well - and again, reporters will use their language all the time. So my language never said quid pro quo--


MOHYELDIN: All right, Mulvaney struggles, also they`re creating problems for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Would it be appropriate to condition--

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: George, I`m not going to get into hypotheticals and secondary things--

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it`s not hypothetical. We saw the Chief of Staff - the acting Chief of Staff--

POMPEO: It is George. You just said if - George you just said if this happened that is by definition a hypothetical.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Chief of Staff said he did.

POMPEO: George you just if this happened. It`s a hypothetical--


MOHYELDIN: That was an awkward pause. Usually when it takes that long to think of an answer that`s not a good sign. And tomorrow Democrats may learn more to build the impeachment case. They`re going to interview the State Department official who warned that those smoking gun text messages that it was in fact crazy to hold off aid.

Also breaking tonight, we`re learning more about Speaker Pelosi`s impeachment strategy. NBC`s Heidi Przybyla reporting that Democrats are zeroing in on a framework for the impeachment case, focusing on Trump`s abuse of power with his actions related to Ukraine.

With me now NBC News Correspondent, Heidi Przybyla; former federal prosecutor, John Flannery and David Frum, a former economic speech writer for George W. Bush and now Senior Editor for "The Atlantic".

Heidi let`s begin with you, with your reporting on how Democrats are thinking about trying to frame these articles of impeachment. What did you learn?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ayman. This is according to multiple individuals who are involved in this process that they are making a very narrow case here on Ukraine and on abuse of power.

That they believe that everything that happened regarding this President and whether it is the phone call with President Zelensky or it is the quid pro quo on military aid or pushing out the ambassador in order to install his own three amigos or political confidants to pressure the Ukrainian government. That it all falls under this abuse of power umbrella.

Now the Speaker`s aides cautioned me that they have not drawn even - started to draw up an article at this point that they are still collecting evidence. But I am told by legal experts close to the process, Ayman, that this very obviously could be the legal vehicle for the House to impeach the President under abuse of power.

That if you look at precedent with President Nixon, for instance, there were three charges contempt of Congress, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. That this is the broad framework and that the debate right now really is not over that, but it`s over how do you craft the obstruction, contempt of Congress portion of this given that the Ukrainian case they believe is very solid, because you have an October 8th letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone very clearly stating we are not going to comply.

That shows intent to obstruct. Whereas with the Mueller investigation they never got the star witness in the obstruction charges Don McGahn to ever testify so there`s a lot of debate right now over that. There`s also pushback from some other committee chairs, committee members who want to see additional articles, for instance, when it comes to emoluments.

But I am told, Ayman, by very good sources that at this point anything beyond Ukraine, as well as obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress at this point is unlikely.

MOHYELDIN: So to that point, Heidi, does that change or at all alter the timeframe that they`re working with. If they`ve got one set of articles of impeachment particularly focused on the Ukrainian case, which seems to be pretty straight forward as they continue to gather more evidence, does that make the timeline more likely to be accelerated or will it likely take longer?

PRZYBYLA: The timeline is really anybody`s guess at this point. Because you talked to the House Democrats they want everything done by Thanksgiving, Christmas. You talk to other individuals who say look this could drag out if it`s a long fight among these committee members.

So I don`t think that this in particular is going to affect the timeline as much as it`s going to affect the ability of House Democrats by their own calculation to get more Republicans on board. If you already have noticed, you`ve seen statements coming out of both the House and the Senate, from some members saying, whoa, this doesn`t look good. Members like Ben Sasse, Mit Romney. In the House, Francis Rooney over the weekend.

Moderate Democrats who may be retiring as well saying, look, if we have evidence of a quid pro quo, for me that crosses the line. These were all interviews and statements that have come out since Mick Mulvaney essentially admitted to the quid pro quo last week.

MULVANEY: So let`s try to frame this a little bit between the legal versus the political debate here. John, first let me get your take on this. Which is, if you were to try to make a legal argument, is it better to have a narrow focus where you`re kind of narrowing in on the issue of the Ukraine phone call and all the subsequent violations as the cornerstone of the impeachment articles?

Or would you, as a prosecutor, rather have the three potential crimes, including the obstruction of justice or pots to leave in the emoluments issue. And, again, maybe crimes is not the right word, because it`s not about necessarily crimes. It`s about high crimes and misdemeanors. is it legally speaking better to have a narrow focus or a broader one?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, there are theories about how you try a case that`s effective. In this case, if you try the Ukraine case, what you have is you have a very narrow focus, but you have admissions and you have something that happened recently and you have a mass of witnesses coming forward that hasn`t happened with regard to the earlier misconduct by the President because there was such a lag of time before anybody started to investigate it.

So the question here is, we focus on Ukraine and then what do we do? And I think the leadership, when they`re talking in a colloquial language about shakedown and so forth, that`s fine. But I hope the articles of impeachment will reflect the corresponding crimes. That is to say for instance bribery, to say a violation of the campaign Practices Act, to say emoluments, perhaps narrowed to the Ukraine incident, to talk about obstruction because we have it here.

And these things I think are critical and they`re understandable to the public and they will put pressure on Republicans who would like to do the right thing, but need to be pushed by the facts and by the constituencies they represent.

MULVANEY: All right so--

FLANNERY: And as for timing, I still think these - they should be going for Halloween and I don`t mean just because it`s that holiday, there`s stuff to be done. And if they do this right we can be having the trial in December or January and that`s what we should be doing in the Senate by that time.

MOHYELDIN: Well, we`ll talk about that in just a moment about the timeline of all this, John. But I wanted to get David`s thoughts on the political calculation of this.

If you`ve got the Ukraine impeachment as the sole issue or the sole article of impeachment to deal with Ukraine, does that put Republicans in a tougher bind that they don`t have any wiggle room that they can`t possibly say, you know what, I think emoluments is a little bit more of a misdemeanor or a crime here or I think that perhaps emoluments is even worse and you`ve got the obstruction of justice as another factor?

Do you narrow the political room and the political space for some Republican senators to maneuver if you just keep it about Ukraine?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR THE ATLANTIC: Right. Well, that`s a very important question, because to date this discussion is very, very House focused and it`s not going to - you can muscle it through the House, but you need a strategy for how do you make sure that this thing doesn`t turn into a big fizzle in the Senate. And I wonder if anyone is really thinking very hard about that.

Back in the 1990s in the Clinton impeachment, five Democratic senators which crossed the line to vote for the second of the two articles of impeachment against President Clinton, they had to do so for home state reasons.

In this case very few Republicans will be under that kind of pressure. The question for them is, can there be a larger national consensus so they have to step up.

MOHYELDIN: And John, Bill Taylor is testifying tomorrow. He`s the one who said I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. Let`s talk a little bit about how significant he is in all of this and what role his testimony will play in a possible impeachment?

FLANNERY: Well, I think he`s critical, because he is the conscience, if you will, of the misconduct that`s going on all around him. Rudy Giuliani and his pals, Volker and so forth doing what they did. Even though, Volker, some people think that he`s above this. He`s not - he said that he was facilitating and it was going on. And we have Sondland saying let`s take it off the record.

And that conversation that had presumably when he said let`s not do it on - in text messages and e-mails I think that`s kind of critical of what happened. And I think Taylor`s a truth-teller and he`ll be credible because of it and he has a record of experience that will hold up his credibility, whereas the others are all suspects.

MOHYELDIN: Let me play for you all Mike Pompeo in a new interview and what he had to say about foreign pressure. Kind of echoes what Mick Mulvaney said on Thursday saying hey get over it, we do this all the time. But watch Mike Pompeo.


Pompeo: As recently as yesterday, I had a foreign leader call me seeking to apply pressure to the United States to get us to act in a way that was consistent with what they were trying to do. It`s the nature of politics, of power, of foreign interactions.


MOHYELDIN: I mean, there`s so many there`s so many issues with that statement. Besides the fact that you know he doesn`t even mention whether or not that a foreign government was trying to get the United States to interfere in a domestic election or try to interfere on behalf of a political opponent of that foreign country.

Is the game here David that they are trying to normalize this behavior with what Mulvaney said and now with what Mike Pompeo is saying?

FRUM: Philip Marlowe, the private detective, has a line in one of the Raymond Chandler`s stories, don`t go stupid on me. That is what it`s going to be happening here. That Mike Pompeo knows perfectly well the difference between foreign interlocutor asking for a reasonable thing that countries ask between each other and a private official in what - in a country stopping the formal relationship in order to get a private benefit for that person himself.

MOHYELDIN: Heidi, I wanted to get your sense from your sources and from those that you are speaking to on the Hill. Is the House side of this trying to put forth the best case that has a chance not only of, obviously, passing the House because of the numbers, but making its way to the Senate.

Are they designing these articles in a broad way that perhaps gives Republicans a chance to look at this and say I see there`s potential wrongdoing here? Or they narrowly focus on just the initial stage of bringing those charges to out of the House and into the Senate?

PRZYBYLA: Well, I think, they`re one in the same Ayman. I do think that there`s a big calculus about bringing along Republicans writ large. They`re concerned about Republicans in the House and in the Senate, because the end goal here is for this to be successful and not fizzle in the Senate.

And that is why this abuse of power narrative, they believe, is so powerful because they say that the President was abusing his authority and hurting the national security interests of the nation by withholding that military aid in order to benefit himself politically.

That is kind of the homerun argument that you have to make to Republicans in both chambers. Because I do think that they`re making a calculus that they`re going to have to make it hard for Republicans who have gone on the record, like Lindsey Graham himself, who just days ago said if there were evidence of a quid pro quo on military aid, that would really change the calculus.

Bill Taylor, to your previous point, is going to be very critical in giving us the answer to that, because he`s one of he`s one of the first witnesses who`s able to tell us not only about the pressure campaign that was coming from the President directly and his aides

But about what the Ukrainians were doing to receive that and scramble and the panic that ensued and the effect that that may have had if military aid had been withheld or what how the Ukrainians were responding to this.

MOHYELDIN: John, what do you make of - and NBC is reporting this. But what do you make of Bill Barr expanding his review of how the Russia probes started. What are they trying to do here by going after the investigators? The so-called investigate the investigator tactic.

FLANNERY: Well, I think what they`re trying to do is to get dirt on them to use in the impeachment proceeding or to try to chill them from talking about what they know. Trying to do that with Brennan, I think, it`s quite an quite a crazy idea.

But in the normal case, you would get a referral say from the FBI or DEA or some agency that had jurisdiction over the basic crimes. Here they didn`t get what they wanted from the IG and the Justice Department so they`re looking for a way to cover what they`re doing which is misconduct overseen by Barr who himself is the subject of the Ukraine investigation, if you will, because he`s mentioned as one of the people who`s going to facilitate it. He and Rudy Giuliani are going to meet with the President of Ukraine.

So we have basically a stew here that just gets worse and worse. And while Durham has made himself a part of this, gives you an idea how we have 93 U.S. attorneys who are all now toady`s to a guy who`s trying to work this problem for the President and not for justice.

MOHYELDIN: All right, John Flannery, Heidi Przybyla, David Frum, thank you guys all for joining us this hour.

And coming up, new evidence of how Rudy Giuliani brought his now indicted associates into the Trump orbit. We have an exclusive response from Trump`s legal team.

Also new signs that trunk may be worried about losing some GOP support on the topic of impeachment.

Plus Trump calls part of the U.S. Constitution quote "phony" and he gives up on his plans for a global summit at his own Golf Resort.


MULVANEY: He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback. At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be a - in the hospitality business.


I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in Ari Melber, you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MOHYELDIN: All right. So Rudy Giuliani is under federal criminal investigation tied to Ukraine. His legal woes just got worse believe it or not, leaving more questions for President Trump.

A bombshell report from "The Wall Street Journal" unearthing private Instagram photos from Giuliani`s indicted Ukrainian linked associate, revealing deep and long-standing ties and access to Giuliani and Trump.

Here is one from 2015, posing with Trump`s ex-wife Ivana and another at a campaign event with Trump himself, this is in July of 2018. Now this photo has him with Donald Trump Jr. Trump sent him this note posted in August of 2018, thanking him for his quote "friendship and dedication" to his cause.

And look at this one a photo he describes as a celebration dinner, snapped with Giuliani and Trump`s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, posted one day after Attorney General Barr`s infamous for Paige Mueller reports summary.

THE BEAT reached out to Sekulow with questions about the photo, he says, he has quote "no concerns on any exposure," but declined to elaborate any further. But all of this placing new heat on Giuliani tonight as the Justice Department distances itself from him, claiming DOJ officials were not aware of any investigation into Giuliani`s associates and impeachment investigators in Congress on both sides are now calling for Giuliani to testify.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really think it`s important to talk to Rudy Giuliani.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you`d like him to come before the committee and answer questions.

REP. WILL HURD (R-TEX): For sure. I think having Rudy - Mayor Giuliani come and testify is important.


MOHYELDIN: All right with me to get into all of this, Bloomberg`s Tim O`Brien and "The New York Times`" Mara Gay. Tim, let`s begin with you, if I may. What do you make of the revelation of these photos?

TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, it shows that that Giuliani and Trump have been at best is ingenious and most likely lying about the depth and the extent of their relationship with these guys.

Remember Trump said when some of these photos first surfaced that I get my photos taken with a lot of people.


O`BRIEN: I don`t know these guys. And it`s relevant, because there was a conspiracy at least to violate campaign finance laws. There might be more involving bribery and extortion in Ukraine. So it`s not just a matter of them having friends of ill repute. It`s a matter of whether they had friends who did criminal acts and did Giuliani know about it. And maybe not even just knew about it, did he help orchestrate it?

MOHYELDIN: Let me play for you Mara really quickly how Trump described these associates. Watch this.


TRUMP: I don`t know those gentlemen. Now it`s possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody. 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 that Rudy. You`d have to ask Rudy. I just don`t know.


MOHYELDIN: So it`s one thing to look at these pictures, it`s another thing to see that the President actually thanked him - or good thanked them for coming and being part of celebrating his cause, so to speak. It really - these revelations narrow that distance from the President. He`s no longer at arm`s length.

MARA GAY: , THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Oh no. I think you`re going to see a lot of President Trump disowning or trying to distance himself from not just those folks, but also potentially from Mayor Rudy Giuliani. And that`s what happens here.

I mean, the President really doesn`t have that many options left. And I think the walls are closing in especially on Rudy Giuliani. And the kind of defense that one can offer becomes more and more fantastical as we have irrefutable evidence. And we actually have White House advisors who are coming out and admitting to some of the conduct of the administration has been accused of.

O`BRIEN: Like the Acting Chief of Staff.

GAY: Like the Acting Chief of Staff. The photos don`t lie. So I think it`s going to be a harder and harder case to make at least to the majority of the population that isn`t in Trump`s die-hard base that maybe unpersuadable--

MOHYELDIN: What do you make of the fact that even Jay Sekulow, the President`s personal attorney in all this, who has somewhat remained above the fray of the personal inner workings of the President. He`s no Rudy Giuliani. He`s always seemed to have been a loyal foot soldier - legal foot soldier if you want for the President. But now he`s picked with these guys and he`s saying he`s not worried about any exposure.

GAY: I mean--

MOHYELDIN: Shouldn`t be absolutely be worried about exposure.

GAY: I mean I`m not an attorney. But if I were him I would get one.

O`BRIEN: I mean, anybody who is either tangentially or directly related and this is probably going to be put under oath right. At a minimum they`re going to have to answer investigators questions, so they`re all exposed, and the smart ones aren`t going to throw themselves under the bus to protect someone else.

So, I think, that`s one of the other phenomena you`re going to see in this is unlike the Mueller probe, there`s lots of really ample reasons here for people to start turning on each other pretty quickly.


GAY: But I would also just say that the behavior that we`re seeing right now is defiance is really just kind of putting that test to Congress and they are essentially Congress not to hold them accountable.

MOHYELDIN: One of the things that I find interesting in all this is how everyone kind of tries to say, "Oh, it`s not me its Rudy." He said you`re going to have that Rudy about that. And Jay Sekulow - even Ari asked Jay Sekulow about this.

Let me play you what he said about Rudy Giuliani, about the whole Ukraine stuff. Watch.


That was out of my jurisdiction. It wasn`t anything I was engaged in.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: But when did you learn that Rudy Giuliani was asking these foreign governments to investigate Joe Biden?

SEKULOW: I learned when, I guess, when you did, because I was not involve - that was not in my jurisdiction and was focusing on what I did, so--

MELBER: Well, you don`t know when I did. So I`m asking you when you did. You don`t know when I learned it.

SEKULOW: Well, I didn`t know anything about until all this got really public. I mean, I didn`t know anything of this Joe Biden and Ukraine--

MELBER: You learnt about it when it spilled into the public reporting?


MOHYELDIN: It`s quite fascinating to see that exchange, because it reveals a lot about Jay Sekulow`s mindset. And like I said, you go back to what the President says it`s not me ask Rudy. Rudy`s like, oh, it`s not me. I was doing this on behalf of the State Department and Mike Pompeo. Mike Pompeo is like, I don`t know what he`s talking about.

And now you got Jay Sekulow saying the same thing. I only found out about this in the media. What do you make of this chaos?

GAY: I think there`s a lot of attempts at distraction and trying to control a narrative when the evidence suggests that where there`s smoke, there`s a of fire. And I also - I really - I think there`s something so sleazy you know the whole affair.

And I can`t help, but almost get emotional sometimes thinking about some of these people out there supposedly representing the interests of the United States, but actually kind of selling us to the highest bidder and our allies to the highest bidder. And that`s - if that`s really what happened that`s pretty disgusting.

MOHYELDIN: And what do you make of the way everyone`s been kind of thrown in the other - ?

O`BRIEN: Well, I mean look at look at Sekulow. He did not look comfortable.


O`BRIEN: Looked nervous. I don`t think anybody wants to be associated with us, because they know at a minimum there was an impeachable act. But the other - there`s money involved in this. We can`t lose sight of the fact that while they were trying to manipulate the government of Ukraine, they also were trying to get control of the biggest gas company in Ukraine.


O`BRIEN: And there`s a lot we still don`t know about that piece of it and it adds a whole another range of incentives and problems everything that occurred in that event.

GAY: Especially with the recalling of the ambassador.

O`BRIEN: Right.

MOHYELDIN: Always follow the money.

O`BRIEN: Follow the money.

MOHYELDIN: Tim O`Brien, Mara Gay, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Up next, the stunning report on Republican and impeachment, that`s when we are back in just 30 seconds.



TRUMP: The Republicans have to get tougher and fight. We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight, because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election.


MOHYELDIN: Donald Trump they`re calling on his own party to fight tougher against the impeachment process. It comes after Trump was forced to retreat on issues like Syria and the G7, following GOP push back.

And after one House Republican became the first to say that he`s open to impeaching Trump, Fox News host Chris Wallace revealing rumblings on Capitol Hill against the President.


WALLACE: I talked to a very well-connected Republican in Washington this week, somebody whose name you wouldn`t know well, who says that if the House votes to impeach and it gets to a trial in the Senate. There is now a 20% chance, he believes, obviously, it`s just an estimate. Now a 20% chance enough Republicans will vote with the Democrats to remove the President.


MOHYELDIN: All right. Betting markets have in fact increased the odds since the Ukraine scandal exploded recently. In fact, skeptics might say reality is closer to this scene from dumb and dumber. Watch.


LLOYD CHRISTMAS: What do you think the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me ending up together?

MARY SWANSON: I`d say more like one out of a million.

CHRISTMAS: So you`re telling me there`s a chance. YES!


MOHYELDIN: So there is a chance guys. Joining me now Matt Welch, Editor-at- Large for "Reason Magazine" and Elise Jordan, former aide in the Bush White House, now an MSNBC Political Analyst. Great to have both of you here on set.

Matt let me to begin with you. There is the chance, because the President is calling on Republicans to get tougher. So if you`re reading that messaging coming out of the White House it means he`s not happy with the response so far.

MATT WELCH, REASON MAGAZINE, EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I mean, he retreated from the G7 thing in a hurry. He didn`t do that because he was getting beat up on MSNBC. He did that because he needs people to hold the line.

And this this plus the Syrian action, are both cases where there was a loud amount of grumbling on Capitol Hill. Problem for him is that we forget now, but in 2016 when he`s running the general election against Hillary Clinton, more than 10 GOP senators never endorsed him.

They don`t like him. We tend to think because, "oh, he has such strong rapport support among Republicans and among lawmakers where people sit on their hands, where they even defend him that it`s out of affection. It`s not. It`s out of fear. It`s out of fear that their districts like him--

MOHYELDIN: It`s a political calculation, not about liking Trump.

WELCH: So when you have it - this Ukraine deal make being a lot more - it`s pulling a lot of worse for Donald Trump than the Mueller report stuff ever did that begins to change that calculation, so we start to see that support start to drool (ph).

MOHYELDIN: You`d think the President, if you had any kind of political savvy would be like this is not the week I should do something in Syria, it`s certainly not the week I should try to do something that is controversial like announce the G7 summit.

He lost support within his own party, because of these two. That has got to be a political misstep.

ELISE JORDAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Donald Trump can`t control his impulsivity and we what we have seen in all of these recent actions, he just goes with what he wants in the moment, whether it is telling an outright lie like saying that he`s born in Germany, like he did that once. Or it`s deciding to capitulate to the Turkish dictator.

It`s not - there`s not much of a chess game going on. And I think that that`s part of the bigger picture that so often that this grand design is ascribed to his - what he`s doing in a given moment and it`s just not there. And you see just how self-destructive he is at the end of the day.

MOHYELDIN: And let me play for you guys the spectrum of responses. You got Mitt Romney on one end, you got Senator Lindsey Graham on the other. Watch their takes.


JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS MEDIA, U.S. POLITICAL REPORTER: Are you open minded if more comes out that you could support impeachment?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Sure. I mean, show me something that is a crime. If you could show me that Trump actually was engaging a quid pro quo outside the phone call that would be very disturbing.

SWAN: And saying China, will you investigate my political opponent is wrong. We certainly can`t have Presidents asking foreign countries to provide something of political value that is after all against the law--


MOHYELDIN: what do you make of Lindsey Graham`s response there? I mean, he`s taking a narrow definition. He`s qualifying it by saying, outside the phone call. Almost tacitly saying like, oh, well it happened in the phone call, but let`s - outside the phone call that something else happened.

And secondly, saying, you have to show me a crime. That`s not what the Constitution says. There is the bar of high crimes and misdemeanors.

WELCH: Sure. And there`s also the treasure trove of tapes from Lindsey Graham in 1998 for things about impeachment. But I think it`s actually significant that he seems to be wobbling a little bit in this case. It shows that there`s a possible weakness of support.

But I want to just rush in here. I`ve seen now for two and a half years those people in the media and a lot of Democrats had this sort of wish fulfillment syndrome when it comes. They - everyone wants to get to the end state of this and the rushing forward towards it.

There`s been a lot of kind of magical thinking on there. If you`ve been betting on Republicans to stand up to Trump you have lost so many bets up until now. So, yes, it could happen, but there has to be I think a really sober set of--

MOHYELDIN: Is that one in a million like in Dumb & Dumber?

JORDAN: I think you`re making an important point. You look at though how all of the preconditions are really coming into place. This was a bad summer for Donald Trump. I called that his racist recession summer. He`s tweeting and then the Dow drops by 2.5 percent.

Then you go into September and then it`s the Ukrainian debacle. Then now it`s the Syria debacle. Donald Trump has had such a litany of missteps over the past just two months. And particularly with Republicans who are concerned about foreign policy, you finally have Mitch McConnell writing an op ed. Granted he talks more about Obama than Trump. But clearly Republicans are unnerved by the recent wreck.

WELCH: And I think it shows the limitations of the "get over it" defense. At some point that makes it untenable for Republicans to wake up and look at themselves in the mirror.

MOHYELDIN: Let me get your thoughts on this. You`ve got a little bit of groundswell growing in terms of the polls. GOP support saying that impeachment is growing at least a little bit, but the inquiry phase, not necessarily the trial phase.

A "New York Times" column says "Americans should take to the streets on impeachment." I`m curious to get your thoughts. Do you think that a street protest, street demonstrations, camped out in front of the White House could add any - that didn`t necessarily in the White House, but even back in some of these Republican districts four senators that maybe up in 2020?

WELCH: God, no. No, no, no, street protests - were you here in 2004? Do you remember the Republican National Convention there were 200,000 people in the streets - anti-war demonstration. Did that move the needle?

I mean, I was happy to see people protesting the war. There should be more people doing that on that kind of principle. But street protesters, very, very rarely have anything to do with anything except for the way that it makes the protesters themselves feel. I don`t think that that`s going to take a swing state Republicans that you know what, I`m going to do it this time.

MOHYELDIN: Nobody likes to response to some mob pressure, I guess, certainly not here. What do you think?

JORDAN: What they - what Congressmen and Senators do respond to, keep calling their phone line over and over and over--

MOHYELDIN: Shown at those town halls--

JORDAN: Show up at those town halls, pressure them to do town halls. Pressure them to get out there. It is just incredible to me how many Republican Congressmen and women in the Trump era do not actually show up for town halls and it`s the contrast with someone like just Justin Amash who actually does go out and explain his thinking. It`s just very stark.

MOHYELDIN: I think some of those town halls may have been the reason why they were able to save, to some extent, Obamacare early in the in the Republican-controlled House when they put that pressure on them from voting against it. Matt Welch, Elise Jordan, thank you guys. So much appreciate it.

Ahead, a ruling in the Roger Stone case involving the movie "The Godfather." Also the new comments from Mick Mulvaney sparking questions about Trump profiting off of the presidency.

But first a rare surrender from Trump holding on that global summit at his own resort, is this a turning point in his presidency, that`s next.


MOHYELDIN: It is a stunning reversal. A rare surrender from Donald Trump, folding on hosting the G7 global summit at his own Florida resort, and today calling part of the Constitution "phony".

"The New York Times" reporting, he was not prepared for the blowback from Republicans and saw this scathing rebuke on Fox News of all places.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT-AT-LARGE: Why in the world he wants to host at Doral National Golf Club in Miami? Why does the President want to host the G7 there? It`s just--

STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS HOST: It`s going to be very hot.

RIVERA: It just flies in the face of the Constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is beyond my imagination why this administration thought that, number one, to do it at all.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: This is about as direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create.


MOHYELDIN: All right. You heard a very direct violation of the Constitution. Republican lawmakers huddled at Camp David were clear he should reverse himself. And Trump backed down. He - is his power and leverage now fading in - as a result of this? Is this a turning point?

Joining me now is Richard Painter, Chief White House Ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration. Richard, great to have you with us. I want you to watch Trump speaking about this today.


TRUMP: I don`t think you people with this phoney emoluments clause. And by the way I would say that it`s cost me anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be President, and that`s OK. Between what I lose and what I could have made, I would have made a fortune if I just ran my business. I was doing it really well. I have a great business. I have the best properties--

(END VIDEO CLIP) MOHYELDIN: Phony emoluments clause. Richard what is your reaction to that?

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: What other parts of the Constitution are phony? The First Amendment freedom of the press, the impeachment Clause of the Constitution? He`s going to find out about that one soon. The 25th Amendment, is that phony? The 25th Amendment that empowers the cabinet and the Congress to remove a President who is psychologically unstable, unfit for office?

He wants to say the Constitution is phony. He has no business being President of the United States. He needs to be impeached and removed from office now. The emoluments clause is a critically important part of the Constitution. That was inserted in there by the founders, because they did not want foreign governments being able to influence the United States government officials.

This is the reason why I am behalf of CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit on President Trump`s first day in office under the emoluments clause, asking that he be enjoined from violating it.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has just upheld that lawsuit, brought by our co-plaintiffs who are restaurant owners and hoteliers who compete with Donald Trump. There are two other lawsuits pending. Two federal courts admitted very clear that Donald Trump`s understanding the emoluments clause is wrong.

And that this type of payment is unconstitutional. It is not a phony Constitution. We are not a phony country. We have a constitution and we don`t want a phony President. He needs to get out of there if he can`t play by the rules.

MOHYELDIN: Let me play you Mick Mulvaney defending President Trump yesterday about his decision. Watch.


MULVANEY: He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback. At the end of the day, you know, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.

WALLACE: I just have to pick you say he considers himself in the hospitality business--


MULVANEY: He`s the President of the United States.

MULVANEY: Yes. But that`s his background. He wanted to put on a show. He wanted to take care of folks that`s the business - he`s in the hotel business--


MOHYELDIN: Your thoughts on that, Mick Mulvaney saying at the end of the day he`s still in the hotel business.

PAINTER: Well that`s directly contrary to what President Trump told us what he won the election. He said he was going to leave the businesses to his sons and he was going to be President of United States and there would be a separation between the businesses and the presidency, and that has not happened.

This President has used his office to promote his business. He wants to be in the hotel business, that`s just fine. He needs to be impeached by the House, convicted by the Senate and they could send him back to New York and he could try to be in the hotel business. But he has no business doing this.

MOHYELDIN: All right. Richard Painter always a pleasure. Thanks for your insights.

PAINTER: Thank you.

MOHYELDIN: I had a new twist in the Roger Stone trial involving "The Godfather." And Facebook`s Mark Zuckerberg under fire for a false Trump ad and foreign influence in the U.S. elections. Lester Holt`s say exclusive interview with Zuckerberg is surprising. We`ll tell you about that next.


MOHYELDIN: All right. The breaking news from NBC tonight. The Democrats will focus its impeachment probe on abuse of powers as the Ukraine quid pro quo investigation intensifies.

Back in 2016, it was Russia working to help Trump mainly through Facebook posts. Today Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it is happening all over again, revealing they caught Russia and Iran trying to interfere in the 2020 elections.

The company announcing new plans to fight election interference from state- owned media and vowing even more transparency. And what are they doing for the politicians, though, that are spreading disinformation right here at home? Like refusing to remove a Trump attack ad with clearly false information about Joe Biden?

He was clear with NBC`s Lester Holt about it, Facebook will not be fact- checking political ads placed by the candidates.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you feel like you`re giving a green light to politicians that--


HOLT: --lie, lie, lie.

ZUCKERBERG: I believe that that it is important for people to be able to hear and see what politicians are saying. I think that when they do that that speech will be heavily scrutinized by other journalists, by other people--


MOHYELDIN: Zuckerberg also responding to his critics who say that he isn`t doing enough.


ZUCKERBERG: I get a lot of people are angry at us. A part of growing up for me has just been realizing that it is more important to be understood than it is to be liked, and I believe it very strongly. And I do think that people can make up their own minds about me or the work that we`re doing. But this is who I am.


MOHYELDIN: Joining me now is "New York Times" investigative journalist Nick Confessore, who has reported extensively on Facebook. Nick great to have you with us. No better person to talk about this.

Let`s first start with your reaction to what Mark Zuckerberg says that he does not want to be in the business of fact-checking political ads.

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, POLITICAL REPORTER: Of course, he doesn`t. It`s expensive and it`s bad for business. We`ve seen from Facebook and Zuckerberg, from his speech last week in his interviews, he is trying to put a good face on their business imperative.

So they say we believe in free speech. You can`t put porn on Facebook. But a politician can spread lies with impunity. You know you can`t be a foreign government, an engineer campaign like this. But you can do it if you`re the President of the United States.

And the reason these policies are incoherent is because they are meant to protect the company for more regulation and to make money, that`s the bottom line.

MOHYELDIN: Speaking of regulation, he`s going to be on Capitol Hill next week for some important testimony. What is the most important question or set of questions that members of Congress should be asking Mark Zuckerberg now?

CONFESSORE: Look I think after the colossal failure of the March 2018 hearing with him, which was embarrassing for everybody concerned. I think people now understand more of the issues.

Look, the critical question I think for Facebook is monopoly and power. Pull it all aside, there their goal is not to create connections or connect peoples, it`s to become an advertising monopoly or duopoly and make a ton of money. That`s what they exist for. They are publically traded company, that`s why they are there.

He wants to protect that. So he wants to roll out a new currency so they can make more money, create more market share, sell more products. He wants to protect that. What they fear most of all is being broken up. Right? And so everything they do--

MOHYELDIN: Something that woman or a Co-Founder of Facebook has lobbied for - Chris Hughes, I believe, yes.

CONFESSORE: And I believe they are laser focused on heading off the political threat. They are not going to sit there and tell the President of the U.S. that he can`t lie on Facebook. It`s not a fight they want. But it`s helpful to see in their announcements that they`re cracking down on the Russia campaign or China.

They actually can do this stuff and if it`s a foreign actor, an obvious bad guy, they`re happy to do it and happy to trumpet it. But they do not want to get in the crosshairs with the President or Democrats.

MOHYELDIN: Let me play you the soundbite of the former cybersecurity head of Facebook on MSNBC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is that Mark is probably just too powerful. To have one person be the controlling shareholder, the Chairman, the CEO and effectively the Chief Product Officer of a 2 billion person social network, is too much responsibility to put on one person. And these decisions need to be by a diverse set of thinkers in a transparent and open manner.


MOHYELDIN: Is he right? Does Mark Zuckerberg have too much power, too much control to make these types of decision without the necessary oversight or responsibility?

CONFESSORE: It`s a values question. but here are the facts. He does not have an independent Board of Directors. He controls the company. He can`t be removed. He decides what policies are allowed on the platform ultimately. He decides how easy it is for genocide people to spread lies about Muslims right in Asia. He decides how easy it is for a politician in the U.S. to spread lies.

It`s up to him. He has that power. I`m not sure any private individual has had quite that kind of power at that level in human history.

MOHYELDIN: And really quickly, do you know of any other media companies - and it`s still unclear if Facebook is a media publishing company or social media company. But is there any other media individual who has that kind of control?

CONFESSORE: No there are other individuals who have power--


CONFESSORE: --but not that vast power over so many people.

MOHYELDIN: Nick Confessore, always a pleasure thanks for your insights.

CONFESSORE: Thank you.

MOHYELDIN: Appreciate it. I still had a new ruling on playing "The Godfather II" at Roger stones trial. We`ll tell you about that next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you serve under Caporegime Peter Clemenza, under Vito Corleone - also known as "The Godfather?"

PENTANGELI: I - I never know no Godfather.


MOHYELDIN: All right. That`s the scene from "Godfather Part II" at the center of the legal fight in the federal trial of Trump associate Roger Stone. Prosecutors had wanted to play the clip for jurors. They say Stone urged the witness to quote, "Do a Pentageli." In other words, lie to Congress just as the character does in that movie clip.

Ari actually talked about this with "The Godfather" director, Francis Ford Coppola.


MELBER: Do you think the prosecutors are right? They should be able to play your film in this case?

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, FILM DIRECTOR: If it`s relevant to the case, and I mean, "Godfather" has become part of the culture - from my point of view anyone who would take a stuff from a fictional gangster picture and put it in real life, that`s not behavior. The behavior "The Godfather" is not behavior I recommend.


MOHYELDIN: All right. But today a judge ruled that jurors will not get to see the movie clip. They`ll have to settle for a transcript instead.

That does it for me.  Ari is back tomorrow.  And catch weekdays at 5:00 A.M. Eastern on "MORNING JOE FIRST LOOK."  HARDBALL is up next.