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AOC vs. Zuckerberg. TRANSCRIPT: 10/23/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Juanita Tolliver, Matthew Miller, Nick Akerman, Shelby Holliday,Anthony Brown

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  I`m pretty excited about this quartet. It`s a good one and you can of course watch that debate right here on MSNBC and if it`s Wednesday there is a new Chuck ToddCast ready to download. Get it now wherever you get your podcast. Go Nats, go get them Strauss.

That`s all we got tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. It`s Ari Melber time and "THE BEAT." Hello Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hello, Chuck. Thank you very much and good evening to you at home. After a day of major clashes in this impeachment probe on Capitol Hill tensions rising after what can only be described as this blockbuster testimony from a diplomat detailing the Trump bribery plot with Ukraine.

Bill Taylor, a name now echoing around the nation, served Presidents in both parties, and he went to Congress and he drew this direct line between Trump and the scheme to deny military aid to Ukraine in exchange for a probe of Donald Trump`s rivals. The reverberations are continuing mounting evidence teeing up quote "a very dark moment for the Trump White House."

That`s the view not from Democrats or critics, but rather a source close to Mitch McConnell. Now, how dark is this storm rolling in after that testimony and as this evidence accrues? Well here`s a rule of thumb in Washington. If you think the news helps you, you lean into it. If you think it hurts a little bit, but is fundamentally debatable, well you debate it. I mean, they`re all politicians, right?

But if you find that there`s no real way to debate it or to rebut it or to spin it out loud then run.


REPORTER: Any reaction to Bill Taylor`s testimony yesterday. Do you think it`s damaging for the President?

REPORTER: Any reaction to Bill Taylor`s testimony yesterday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I am almost late for my own hearing.

REPORTER: But the opening statement

REPORTER: Any reaction to Bill Taylor`s testimony yesterday?



MELBER: There you have it today. That`s how some Republican Senators greeted just straightforward questions about Ambassador Taylor`s testimony. Note, they didn`t say he was wrong or he`s part of a smear campaign or anything the White House is saying, they just let it be.

And that may have actually been prudent, because when the news is rough, the only other thing we tend to see in politics - the other thing that people do besides just silently running away and letting it sit well is try to shut down the whole process.

And that`s the other headline. You`re looking at a whole group organized of House Republicans who went to do something pretty unusual. They basically tried to protest or shut down or break the rules or do a direct action whatever you want to call it. And that will be debated too. But they join together to crash and stop the fact finding deposition of a top Pentagon official.


REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): By golly, if they`re going to do it, do it in public. We demand open proceedings. The American people deserve nothing less.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We`re going to go and see if we can get inside. Let`s see if we can get in.


MELBER: Let`s see if we can get it. I mean, we work here. We know the rules. But let`s see what happens when we break our own rules. And the Trump allies that you see there from Congress tried to storm the hearing and they actually used force effectively to overwhelm what is a secure location.

As you probably know if you watch the news, this is done in a very particular way when it involves intelligence. It`s a closed door meeting in a classified protected room. And what you got today was basically Republicans trying to block their own branch of government`s work momentarily to try to block the gathering of evidence.

Now under the rules only the members of the actual relevant committees are allowed in. Now those other Republican officials you saw they barged in anyway and some broke a wholly additional security rule because they brought in their phones, which you can`t do, others tried to make a mockery of their own House by ordering pizza and Chick-fil-A sandwiches.

This is how we live now. But this is of course a momentary maneuver. It`s a desperate gasp of a day. It doesn`t change or stop the obvious lawful impeachment probe. Now I do want to mention something, because we always try to get all of it in here all the facts.

There are Republicans who argue that the hearings should be open and there may be merits to that argument. But they don`t get to make that call in the current Congress, because United States House is run by the party that won more seats and many sensitive topics we should mention are also covered in closed hearings.

And the Republicans doing this stunt today, most of them know that, because when they ran these similar Committees when they were in charge they also had secure private hearings. Now what did these same members say about the substance of Ambassador Taylor`s testimony, that`s clearly upended so much that led to this direct action, if you want to call it that.

Well here was one of the very Republican protest leaders today who led this whole thing actually confronted by reporters asking about the testimony.


REPORTER: But Mr. Brooks did the opening statement says very clearly this is not--

BROOKS: The opening statement--

REPORTER: Hold on. Let me - let me finish what I`m saying. Let me finish my question. He says very clearly--

BROOKS: You should not be relying on it.

REPORTER: I`m asking you about - I`m asking what the substance of what he said. He had

BROOKS: That didn`t make any difference. We don`t know whether what he said is true or not.


MELBER: I turn now to my Maya Wiley, former counsel to Mayor of New York City and a prosecutor at SDNY; and Matt Miller who served at DOJ; and Juanita Tolliver from the Campaign Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Good evening everybody. I`m going to start with Matt, because you`ve dealt with some of these committees under both parties control. What do you think is the significance of a Ambassador Taylor setting off something so lethal yesterday that we showed the senators not wanting to address it at all. The President is distracting with his racial incendiary remarks, which we covered briefly on the show last night and this spectacle today.

MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER CHIEF DOJ SPOKESMAN: Look, I think what happened today was a direct reaction to Ambassador Taylor`s testimony yesterday. The testimony that he came and gave is the kind of testimony that ultimately can be fatal to the President. It was the last piece of the puzzle.

We`ve already seen direct evidence of the abuse of power pressuring the Ukrainian government. We`d already seen direct evidence of the cover up. This was the final piece - direct evidence that that the President had withheld security assistance to get these investigations launched into his campaign.

And I think that`s why you saw the reaction you saw today from the House. They knew they couldn`t have - they couldn`t really handle another day like yesterday. They couldn`t have another witness come up and give testimony potentially locking the President into abusive use of power--

MELBER: Are you saying they can`t handle the truth, Matt?


MELBER: I felt like you got very close to saying that.

MILLER: Basically. I`m not I`m not going to rip off a movie. But that`s the point. So - no, look, I think that they had two goals today. One, they were trying to shut down the witness who was coming to testify, an official from the Department of Defense who was there to testify about the security assistance being withheld or whether she knew why that happened.

And two, they need a distraction for the media. They don`t really care what`s reported on MSNBC. They don`t care what`s reported on other networks. But they need to throw some red meat out to Fox News, so Fox has something to cover. Because otherwise what do they have to talk about? They can`t really cover Taylor`s testimony. There`s nothing good there.

And so they needed a little bit of a distraction, because what`s really happening in the Republican Party is not - what`s happening in the House is not what`s important, what you showed in the Senate is the real problem for the President right now. A lot of Senators who saw what happened yesterday and are very, very concerned and aren`t willing to go out and defended the way the members in the House are.

MELBER: Yes. And as we showed and we`ll show any comments we get, Juanita, but several of those Republican senators facing Mr. Taylor - military guy, West Point grad, lifelong public servant, both parties, yada, yada. They didn`t really have the appetite to say even not sure if I believe him. I believe my President over the Ambassador. That`s a position one could take. They didn`t even say that Juanita?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Because he is a dedicated public servant who clearly works above the board. Everything in his opening statement was probably based on meticulous notes. He laid out receipts. He named names. He listed dates and he methodically walked through a process in which Trump and his administration work to essentially extort Ukraine in order to investigate his political opponents for his own personal gain.

I think the other thing of note here in the display we saw on the House today by those GOP members was the fact that they are also performing for Trump. This is something that Trump was looking for. He wanted to make sure he had a strong showing of members of his party going out and prioritizing him over the needs of Americans, over the needs of our democracy, over the needs of our country.

And so they were playing to Trump more than anybody else here. Even though tomorrow we`re still going to be talking about Taylor and we`re still going to be talking about the damning messages that are coming from this testimony that cannot be explained away by any member of the GOP.

MELBER: Right. And Maya a lot of this is moving fast. I don`t think that Democrats have settled on one clear and single impeachment rationale. And I actually have something on that later this show.

But the Republicans clearly struggling to decide what do they want to make this about. Do they want to concede that some shady stuff happened but it`s not impeachable. That was Mulvaney whose first response. Mulvaney 1.0 which turned into Mulvaney 2.0. Pay no attention to Mulvaney from earlier in the day.

Do they want to do this process attack, which of course lawyers and people do, you have process. Or do they want to say something substantively about the underlying facts? And I want to point to you to the former attorney general United States whose job isn`t really supposed to be about defending the President, but here`s the claim he`s trotting out on Fox News. Take a look.


MATT WHITAKER, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m a former prosecutor and what I know is this is a perfect time for preliminary hearing where you would say show us your evidence. What evidence of a crime you have. I mean the constitution - sort of abuse of power is not a crime.


MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Well, I don`t even know where to start. Because first of all the Constitution and the impeachment process is also not about crime, meaning of course, you can be impeached for abuse of your power. That`s one of the things that the Founders explicitly discussed.

In fact, when they took high crimes and misdemeanors from the law of the Crown it was clearly understood that you would impeach someone for abuse of power or just not doing their job. You could actually impeach in the U.K. under that scenario.

But I think more importantly here is the suggestion which is similar to the process claims we were seeing in the civil disobedience, if we want to call it that today in Congress.

MELBER: I don`t know that I do. I just threw that as an option.

WILEY: I don`t either. I`m just - I`m being kind.

MELBER: Can you civilly disobey when you`re in charge of the civil process.

WILEY: Well, are you civilly disobeying when in a process about national security you actually undermine the national security of the country.

MELBER: These are

WILEY: --not something we typically do.

MELBER: This is somewhere where political strategies meeting like an M.C. Escher painting. But please go on.

WILEY: Well, at root in in both of these arguments is - because let`s take it to its logical extension. We`re not at preliminary hearing stage, because preliminary hearing stage means you`ve gathered enough evidence that you can start to talk about what you`re going to prove.

What the Democrats have been saying all along, which I think is the right. Is it true on the process is, we`re inquiring right now.

You don`t get to go to the FBI when they`re investigating a crime and say I get to sit in on all your witness interviews and I get to cross-examine your witnesses while you`re interviewing them before you`ve even decided whether you`re charging them with anything. And that`s essentially what`s happening.

MELBER: It`s a great point and reminding us of something that is good to keep in mind as we follow this process, which is, under the Constitution if there is a potential high crime, abuse of power, bribery, treason, it is the House that investigates and charges in the Senate that tries.

And what you`re referring to is the fact that the House is doing that investigation side. And Matt, as we as we explore the range of defenses, I also want to play someone who is very influential in the White House. You mentioned ginning some of this up for different audiences. Here`s Sean Hannity on a potential defense for President Trump.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: And the President said, I`d like you to do us a favor. OK. Well it`s a favor? OK. There were no strings attached. Zero quid pro quo. And let`s be clear, the term do us a favor. Well, we all have go to phrases. You know - I say you know a lot. The President uses them all the time. Kind of a verbal aside.

So to recap, the term do me a favor, that`s a phrase the President uses. We`ve identified hundreds of times.


MILLER: These are the guys that they`re supposed to be helping him. I mean, really? It is amazing to watch the arguments they`re rolling out. Before I talk about him, I mean, I want to say something about Matt Whitaker first.

It is it is incredible to me as it probably is to Maya as a veteran of the Justice Department to still - for it still to be true that that man was the attorney general the United States, held the job that was once held by giants like Robert Kennedy and Elliot Richardson. It just - it blows my mind still to this day.

But, look, I think you see these arguments from you know from Matt Whitaker and from Sean Hannity because they really are left with nothing else. I mean, you`ve seen them have to retreat from every argument. They started with the idea that "look, there was no pressure at all" and they`ve had to retreat from that.

And they moved to was "there was no quid pro quo," and then they had to retreat there - or I think are going to have to retreat from that. They`re still trying to pretend like there wasn`t, but that that`s not going to hold up for very long.

So they`re left kind of attacking the process and left with these ideas that you know it`s not a quid pro quo, if you don`t use the magic words. Like if I came up to you Ari and said, "I don`t want to buy any drugs, but you know here`s a bag of cash and give me that cocaine." That`s not a drug deal, because I said I`m not doing it. They`re just kind of falling back on nonsense over and over again.

And I think it does get to the problem they`re going to have. They can get through the House with this, because a lot of the members of the House are silly people, and they can get through as silly arguments.

But when they get to the Senate those members are going to have to vote, and they`re going to have to decide whether they`re going to take these nonsense arguments from the White House and defend propositions that are really indefensible to the American public or whether they are going to come back - whether the White House is going to give them something else to work with, something factual.

Or I think ultimately the only thing - the only defense is the one that you laid out the beginning, which was, yes, it was bad the President did this. But it`s not impeachable. But they`re not there yet.

MELBER: They`re not there and they have the shadow chief of staff according to some reporting. Sean Hannity, disagreeing with the actual chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, because they`re on the opposite sides of whether this was conditioned on the probe, so it`s a lot of a mess.

I`ve got to find a break as we have so much time. My special thanks to Matt, Juanita and Maya Wiley.

Coming up, one of Rudy Giuliani`s indicted associates back in court today and linking the case back to Trump. We`ll explain that news. And tonight coming up next my special report on what might be the strongest case for impeachment and one you may not have heard of. I`ll explain that after the break.

Later, Donald Trump`s lawyers arguing he cannot be investigated or indicted even if he were to kill someone on 5th Avenue - he might say it, but why are they saying it now in court? I`m Ari Melber and you are THE BEAT.


MELBER: Tonight there are clear signs, the Congress is edging closer to impeaching President Trump. Why? The precise answer really does matter and it`s the subject of our special report right now.

Under our Constitution you don`t impeach a President based on a list of bad things they`ve done. You only impeach if those bad things amount to a clearly impeachable offense. And for all the evidence coming out, and all the criticism of Trump, congressional Democrats if you think about it, they have not yet outlined a focused case on what the clearest impeachable offense is.

Some talk about betraying the oath or abusing power or obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice--


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): --the President`s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are so many different things that have gone on today - very significant things that I think add up to an abuse of power by this President.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The more that they fight to try to prevent and obstruct the lawful functions of Congress, the more they`re going to make a case for impeachment on obstruction of justice--


MELBER: So those are several different arguments for impeachment. And historically Congress has used more than one argument to impeach. Congress voted on 11 articles against President Johnson and four against President Clinton, but those Presidents also bogged down in debates over all the different articles.

It only takes one for the Senate to convict. And debates over which were the clearest impeachable offense. For example, for Clinton, there was a debate over whether perjury should be an impeachable high crime.


REP. JIM SENSENBRENNER (R-WI): The Constitution specifically names bribery as an impeachable offense perjury and making false statements under oath, which is a form of perjury, be considered among the high crimes and misdemeanors the Framers intended to be grounds for impeachment.

FMR. REP. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Lying about an extra marital affair even under oath does not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors as spelled out in the Constitution--

FMR. REP. HENRY HYDE (R-IL): Perjury and obstruction of justice cannot be reconciled with the Office of the President of the United States.


MELBER: Those were just some of the debates back and forth about things that weren`t listed as a feature on the Constitution like perjury and whether they were a high crime. And so for all the talk now of abuse of power or obstruction, the clearest legal case for an impeachment offence in the Ukraine scandal is one that few Democrats have been making yet, and it`s staring them in the face right in the Constitution`s impeachment clause.

The pivotal section of the Constitution on that is short. It says the President shall be impeached for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. So if you look at that plainly it lists just two specifically defined offenses and one of them is bribery.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t - I don`t know you and I don`t know what that is, but it`s weird, you understand.


MELBER: What is this? Well a briefcase of cash is of course the bribe and the politician can say they`ll do something in return for it, which is why bribes are often referred to as quid pro quo, which is just a Latin legal term that means thing for thing.

And that`s why legal experts say there`s already such a strong amount of evidence that Trump demanded a bribe from Ukraine in exchange for Trump releasing money to Ukraine or for a meeting with the President of Ukraine. That would be the action in return.

So here is the simple case. Trump wants the Biden probe - the favor, that`s the valuable bribe, corruptly demanded by the official. And as that definition of bribery says, that`s directly demanding something of value. And unlike some harder cases, here Trump`s already admitted his goal.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would think that if they were honest about it, they`d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It`s a very simple answer--


MELBER: Very simple. And now Trump`s own Ukraine Ambassador Mr. Taylor testifying about that same action sought in return, releasing money to Ukraine contingent on the Biden probe. And not only that, remember, an official can actually be guilty of bribery by merely agreeing to do something. That is enough. They don`t have to actually do it.

So if you pledged a quid pro quo and you don`t even follow through, you`re still on the hook. The Supreme Court ruled that unanimously in a recent case. So unlike those debates over a high crime or what`s an abuse of power and what are those terms mean, now with this evidence the case for bribery is straightforward.

And everyone knows bribery is impeachable, because the Constitution says it is. Now, I want to be clear as we report this out for you tonight. President Trump still has defenses to this kind of case, which he and his lawyers will continue to make.

One is that, well, even if the Biden probe would benefit Donald Trump`s re- election, he can argue he generally thought it was in the U.S. interest and not a bribe and Trump has been insisting he had that kind of duty to fight corruption.


TRUMP: I have an obligation to do it, probably a duty to do it: corruption. We are looking for corruption.


MELBER: Another defense is about the presidency itself, not whatever one thinks of Donald Trump. It`s the argument that even if the Ukraine plot was a terrible, unethical, no-good scheme that should have been stopped, the argument is the Congress should not set a precedent that a President can be removed for what his defenders basically say is verbal hardball in foreign policy.

And the U.S. has an interest in supporting a strong President in these foreign negotiations not worrying that a single phone call might become impeachable. But you know what - and you might be thinking of this already, there is a problem with those defenses. And it`s that they, even as defenses admit the actions at the heart of Donald Trump`s Ukraine scandal.

And then they sort of argue that impeachment is just too strong a punishment, which isn`t the greatest defense. And there are a few other options in a White House. There aren`t many other options in a White House where you have scenes like this. Mick Mulvaney walks out, basically admits what could be crimes on live TV before trying to take it all back.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Did he also mentioned to me and past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that`s it and that`s why we held up the money.

We look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate--

REPORTER: Withholding the funding?


REPORTER: You just described is a quid pro quo.

MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy--

REPORTER: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly?

TRUMP: Well, I would think that if they were honest about, they`d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It`s a very simple answer--


MELBER: What do you do with all that evidence, but we just asked the prosecutor who actually ran the SDNY office. That`s the same office run by Preet Bharara, Rudy Giuliani, which is of course now investigating Giuliani, and he said something interesting that I want to show you. He said, given all this testimony from Trump to Mulvaney to Ambassador Taylor, normally this kind of case wouldn`t even go to trial.


DAVID KELLEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I doubt that this is a case that would really go to trial. When confronted with all the evidence a reasonable defendant would likely take a plea.

MELBER: You`re saying some of defendant with this evidence--

KELLEY: It`s pretty - it`s pretty damning evidence.


MELBER: Damning evidence for a plea instead of a trial. But there`s no pleading out for a President when it comes to impeachment. You either resign, like Nixon did, or you stay in fight like Johnson and Clinton.

Well if the House does impeach, the Senate is preparing to hear all that evidence at a trial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does happen in the Senate if the House does gets through with this inquiry and decide that they are going to impeach President Trump?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well under the Senate rules we`re required to take it up if the House does go down that path and we`ll follow the Senate rules.


MELBER: The rules require the Senate to take up this trial if the House impeaches. And this brings us back to what they impeach on, because impeaching specifically for bribery would focus on lots of the evidence that could make Trump look guilty.

To cite another former defendant who confessed to questionable acts before an indictment, Rick Ross once said "Federal sentences, federal sentences, let`s go to trial we`re guilty till proven innocent." Ross was defiantly welcoming a trial that he felt was stacked against him.

And Donald Trump has long complained about a rigged system, but most of the rigging has been for Donald Trump and in his direction. Which is why on this evidence, most other people would have pled guilty by now as that prosecutor told us. So when it comes to a defiant defendant it may be worth ensuring for the Congress that the case is as specific and airtight as possible.

Now that we`ve laid it out, we`re going to get into all of this, plus the news of Rudy Giuliani`s associates back in court today when we`re back with our special guest in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT. We`ve been talking about the evidence against Trump, but there`s also evidence against Rudy Giuliani, a case that`s getting hotter. Take a look at the scene outside the federal court in Manhattan.

Two indicted Ukrainian linked Giuliani associates were there today, one tying the case back to trump with a lawyer who said that some of the evidence gathered might be covered by executive privilege, which implies there`s an executive involved, putting more pressure on that executives lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

A diplomat for Ukraine, meanwhile, testified that Giuliani was driving the entire quid pro quo bribery plot and there`s new reporting that reveals the investigation into Giuliani`s associates is widening while Trump has continued to distance himself with echoes of what he did to another lawyer, Michael Cohen.


TRUMP: 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 have to ask Rudy. I just don`t know.

You`ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is my attorney. You`ll have to ask Michael.


MELBER: Well, we`ll have to ask Nick and Shelby, prosecutor at "Wall Street Journal", friends of THE BEAT, where do we go from here?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, I think where we`re going to go is we`re going to see these people being squeezed to cooperate in this case. Both of those people who are Giuliani associates - I mean, their only way of avoiding a major jail sentence here is to cooperate with the government.

And that means who do they have to sing about? There`s only one person that`s really of interest to the prosecutors here and that would be Rudy Giuliani.

MELBER: When you look at the things we`re now learning about this probe, and I sometimes I`m a broken record. But if there wasn`t a red-hot impeachment probe into the President this stuff would be huge, it`d be the top story. Multiple premises searched we`ve learned about this Giuliani probe, dozens of separate telephone numbers, 50 bank accounts subpoenaed. What does that tell you?

AKERMAN: Well, I mean, it tells me that first of all we know that both of these guys were involved in some way in this whole business with Ukraine. I mean, they`re both from Ukraine.

They both talked to people and introduced through Rudy to people that were involved in his so-called investigation are relating to the Bidens and what happened in terms of the Ukrainian involvement - so-called involvement in the 2016 election, which is non-existent.

I mean both of these people know something about that. What you have here is a major conspiracy with the top kahuna here being none other than Donald Trump. All of these people, everything they`re doing, they`re acting in some way as agents for Donald Trump.

All of this would be admissible in a major conspiracy trial, because each one of these people in some way is a conspirator in the ultimate goal of this bribery case that you so eloquently laid out. So it seems to me that what they`re going to--

MELBER: Was I eloquent or was Rick Ross eloquent?

AKERMAN: I thought you were extremely eloquent, including your article in the "The Washington Post" which laid out this--

MELBER: Wow. He`s a close reader. It is interesting and I want to bring Shelby on both of those points. One, what you`ve been finding on the Giuliani front with your reporting. And then two, what both of you think about that as promised, the bribery piece of this in Washington, but starting with Rudy.

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: Well we respected Rudy we just published a story about Lev Parnas` activities. We reviewed some of the photos on his private Instagram account.

And it shows, when you look at these photos, that he spent a lot of time with Rudy Giuliani, leading up to the midterms and after the midterms and this included flights on private jets, traveling across the country, going to different political events, going to baseball games, smoking cigars in Warsaw. I could go on and on.

But what`s interesting is that while they are spending so much time together, Parnas and Fruman are also allegedly funneling Russian money into U.S. campaigns, making illegal campaign contributions and setting up these meetings for Giuliani with Ukrainian officials and former officials to try to help him get these investigations into Burisma and 2016 Russia probe.

MELBER: And based on what you`re finding in the photos and the reporting you`re doing suggest that Giuliani making an out of the loop defense might be more difficult. It`d be difficult. I also think when you look at the evidence, including phone records and possible monitoring of these men that may be a problem for Giuliani based on how much time they spent together.

But I also want to go back to that sound but you played of President Trump. He said I don`t know these guys. I don`t know what they do. You`ll have to ask Rudy. There are numerous photos of these men with President Trump dating all the way back to 2015.

So the claim of executive privilege, the fact that the lawyer even brought that up today makes it pretty clear that they think President Trump does know these men and may have some sort of defense to shield evidence. But President Trump going out and saying that he doesn`t know them is not going to help that case.

MELBER: Yes. And so on the on the bribery front and the evidence against Trump, I want to play for you a little more of what we played and what some viewers saw, which is David Kelley holds that same job that Giuliani had, that these other top officials had. And he went farther than usual on this very program. Take a look.

KELLEY: --in the evidence lots of cases don`t go to trial in a criminal case because the evidence is overwhelming or sufficient enough to have a conviction. So I doubt that this is a case that would really go to trial. When confronted with all the evidence a reasonable defendant would likely take a plea.

MELBER: You`re saying some of defendant with this evidence--


KELLEY: It`s pretty - it`s pretty damning evidence.

MELBER: Damning slam dunk evidence.



AKERMAN: Yes. I would totally agree with that. But don`t forget, we`re not in a criminal trial. This is an impeachment process. And it`s - as a result, it`s also a political process, which means that it`s incumbent upon the House to bring the public up to speed on what this evidence is.

I mean, it`s really important that after they do all these depositions if they put together a very powerful presentation of all of these different witnesses live on television so they can put this all together, it is so important to get the public involved in this, because the key here is putting together a solid case and it`s pretty good right now from what we can see.

but this case is not just about one phone call. It`s about--

MELBER: Why don`t they talk more about bribery in your view?

AKERMAN: Oh, I think they will.

MELBER: You think they will, but they haven`t.

AKERMAN: They haven`t, but there`s no reason why they won`t. I mean the evidence is coming out that way - at least what we got from Taylor yesterday. Even that transcript that we got pretty much shows that what we have here is classic bribery and that`s how the mob bosses carryout bribery. You don`t come over and say, "Oh, I`m going to give you a bribe."

I mean, you do exactly what Trump did on that particular conversation. But when you`ve got other people filling in the blanks like Taylor, which clearly show this is a bribe and when you go back prior to April, before the first phone call and what else they were doing in the Ukraine, I think you`re going to find that the evidence here is going to be overwhelming. But that`s what they need.

HOLLIDAY: That`s why these two men could be very important - Parnas and Fruman. They spent a lot of time with Giuliani and they also accompanied him to these meetings with former and current - then current Ukrainian officials. So they know - they likely know what was said in these meetings and what the message was that Giuliani was sending.

MELBER: Yes it`s really striking and you`ve been reporting on it and you`ve been analyzing it is the district you also served in. Nick Ackerman and Shelby Holliday, thanks to both of you.

Still to come, Republicans storming that secure room to interfere with the hearings. Well, we`ll be joined tonight live by a Democratic congressman Speaking out and saying, their work, in fact, finding will continue.

Also Trump`s lawyers in court today making an distinct and astonishing legal claim about shooting someone. We`ll explain.



TRUMP: They say I have the most loyal people, did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn`t lose any voters, OK? It`s like incredible.


MELBER: Is that incredible? That was Donald Trump as a candidate, making a preposterous post, and that`s campaign talk.

Tonight the news is that it has become a actual part of a legal fight over whether Donald Trump`s accountants have to comply with a law that they have to furnish his taxes to Congress.

So fast forward today, Donald Trump`s lawyers in federal court claiming he can`t even be investigated, while in office. A skeptical judge push back the President`s claim that he could get away with the shooting came up and here we go.


JUDGE: What`s your view on the 5th Avenue example? Local authorities couldn`t investigate they couldn`t do anything about it.

TRUMP LAWYER: I think once the President is removed from office, any local authorities, this is not a permanent immunity.

JUDGE: Well, I`m talking about while in office.


JUDGE: That`s the hypo - nothing could be done. That`s your position.

TRUMP LAWYER: That is correct. That is correct.


MELBER: I`m joined by Jason Johnson from "The Root". Sir, sometimes we go to lawyers for the big legal things, but we didn`t need a lawyer for this one, because it`s not a serious legal argument but it was seriously posited in court. Trump`s lawyer, in at least private practice, saying their view is he could murder someone.

JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM POLITICS EDITOR: Yes. Ari, I ain`t passed the Bar, but I know a little bit, the President can`t get away with that sort of thing. And that you could make the augment--

MELBER: Wait, that sort of thing doesn`t rhyme with it.

JOHNSON: No, it doesn`t.

MELBER: I appreciate you.

JOHNSON: I think people picked it up we`re with. But the idea that - this is I think honestly are one of the most telling moments of all of the controversies, legal and otherwise, about this presidency. They get absolutely apoplectic at the very notion that they have to be held accountable.

But at its core, it`s what his lawyer argued. We just don`t think Donald Trump can be held responsible for anything. And he did sort of mention later on, well, you can sort of collect information for a long-term investigation. But at the end of the day, justice delayed is justice denied. And these people seem to believe that if they can stall long enough and Donald trump can get reelected, that no one would be able to pursue these cases five, six, seven years from now.

MELBER: Yes. And I think it - on the one hand could just be some extreme thing that`s thrown out. On the other hand we talked about not letting things become normalized. This is being submitted not in a campaign ad or what is sometimes called rhetoric - political rhetoric and jokes, this is in court.

And it tracks with Donald Trump`s view. You came out here with a with the Jay-Z quote about the law. I`m reminded of a more obscure 50 Cent song where he says, I don`t want to talk about it and lifts off a bunch of things that he`s bragging about, while saying I don`t want to talk about it. And maybe that`s the only thing that 50 and Trump have in common at a rhetorical level.

But the President claims he doesn`t want to talk about the fact that he thinks there`s a part of the Constitution that makes him like a dictator. Take a look.


TRUMP: Can I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as President, but I don`t even talk about that--


MELBER: Is that right?

JOHNSON: No, it`s funny. This - but this is the sort of typical constitutional flex that Donald Trump likes to do. We know the guy doesn`t read. Right? It`s not like the President`s reading on a regular basis.

So when he says, well, I`m - I can sort of get away with these sorts of things, but I`m not really going to talk about it. It is him sending the message, not just to his supporters, but to all the people who enable him in Congress, in the administration, in the Justice Department, that I`m going to act with impunity and it`s your job to write protect me no matter what it is that I do.

And the danger of this is, you see it in what happened with Congress. You`ve got members of Congress trying to go into a skiff and going into private meeting--

MELBER: With the lawlessness--

JOHNSON: --he emboldens other people to--

MELBER: And that`s--

JOHNSON: --normal law.

MELBER: That`s the last thing I want to ask you. Some people might look at this and say there`s a lot going on, how big a deal is this? And so I ask you as a political analyst, if lawyers for President Obama went into a courtroom and said that he could kill people and it couldn`t be dealt with her investigated. Do you think that would be considered at the time a big deal?

JOHNSON: Yes, it would. I mean, President Obama wearing a tan suit was a big deal, President Obama`s birth certificate was a big deal. And I - Ari, I`m very happy that you mention this. We can`t normalize this. We can`t normalize the idea that a President and the people who work for him say that he can operate with immunity.

One day Donald Trump will not be in office and what we have to remember is that the precedent is he`s setting now, whether he serves one term or two, will be followed by other people. Perhaps people who are more sophisticated and more dangerous and we have to call these things out now and hold the people who helped him in addition to the President accountable.

MELBER: Jason Johnson, not a lawyer but making a lot of legal sense, which we prize. Thanks for joining me tonight, sir.

JOHNSON: Thanks Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate you.

We have a lot more in the show, because House Republicans, as just mentioned did this storming gambit. What is the response as the impeachment probe enters a critical fact-finding phase. We have a player, an insider coming up live.


MELBER: Facts matter and Ambassador Bill Taylor`s explosive listing of what he said were provable facts, reinforce many other provable pieces of evidence that have accrued in the impeachment probe already.

Taylor making waves, saying, that he could expand on the infamous smoking gun text that said at the time it was crazy to condition money for Ukraine on this benefit to trump - a Biden probe.

And that gives new meaning to Ambassador Volker`s text that said a meeting with the Ukrainian leader would require that Ukraine investigate/get to the bottom of things. It also adds new light to Donald Trump`s request for a quote "favor" in the same context.

The Ambassador also bolstered other allegations that we first learned about in that anonymous whistleblower report and it reinforced is something that Trump`s own chief of staff said before walking it back - walking back and forth to that podium in a manner that has added to the impeachment evidence.

I turn now to Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is an Army veteran and personally knows Ambassador Taylor. Good evening. I wanted to ask you about. But before we get into today`s fireworks, as someone who knows the ambassador, what do you think of what he asserted and his credibility?

REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): Ari, first of all thanks for having me on.

MELBER: Yes sir.

BROWN: Bill Taylor, I served with him in Iraq. He was Director of the Reconstruction Management Office and I was assigned there. He`s the consummate professional and you know as far back is West Point and having served in Vietnam.

But you know over the course of his career he served four Democratic administrations, Republican administrations. So when Bill Taylor says he`s got concerns, we should all be concerned. His interest is only that of the United States, the people the country. So what he says I think we ought to credit greatly.

MELBER: And we`ve heard that sentiment from a lot of folks who know him, as those people who were involved in the fact-finding. Then I want to play for you something that we touched on earlier in the show, which is your colleagues, who seem touched off more by the Taylor testimony than anything else thus far, leading to this this sort of protest, shout down, shutdown freak out. Take a look.

This is Congressman Gaetz saying, we`re going to see if we can get in there and then they got in there and started shutting down the hearing. In accordance with some of the security protocols we`re only showing certain parts of this.

My question to you is what is your view of what happened there and what is the Democratic response?

BROWN: Right. So clearly inappropriate going in to skiff, especially since they brought electronic devices, but that`s just a distraction that they intended to make focusing on these erroneous claims that the process is somehow faulty.

What we`re not hearing from Republicans are reasoned arguments that would support, justify, that would back up the President`s abuse of power, because they can`t. Yesterday`s testimony from a Bill Taylor was explosive. But, remember, it really always comes back to that transcript summary of the July 25th call--

MELBER: Yes. But I`m going to press you, because people at home and people around the country who watch this are wondering, OK does an impeachment probe, does Congress` work just get shut down by who brings more bodies? I mean do you guys need more bouncers outside the room?

BROWN: No, that`s definitely not the case and that would distract from the important work that has to be done. Again, that`s what they`re trying to do. 25 percent of the Republican Conference has access - legitimate access to those hearings, that`s unprecedented.

There are no restrictions placed on Republicans that aren`t placed on Democrats, their staff--

MELBER: So how do you get this testimony if we didn`t - if the country didn`t get it to today?

BROWN: Well, look we`re going to - you know Chairman Schiff will continue to schedule meetings. He`ll ensure there are protocols and practices in place so that witnesses can appear, that we can control access.

Look, I don`t think anyone expected this was going to happen today. But if this was going to be a regular course of business, Chairman Schiff has at his disposal tools to prevent this from happening. If their effort is to delay and deter, I don`t think that necessarily helps their cause.

MELBER: Congressman Brown, we wanted to get you in given your knowledge of the issues as well as the ambassador. And I appreciate you making time for us tonight.

BROWN: Thanks Ari.

MELBER: Up ahead we turn to a completely different story. Facebook`s CEO Mark Zuckerberg getting a grilling today from AOC.


MELBER: In other news today Mark Zuckerberg grilled on Capitol Hill for what many say are tensions or outright contradictions in the way that Facebook tries to police discrimination and facts.

Take a look at this exchange with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Could I pay to target predominantly black zip codes and advertise them the incorrect election date?


OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you will - there is some threshold where you`ll fact check political advertisements, is that what you`re telling me?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, Congresswoman, yes and for specific things like that.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primary saying they voted for the Green New Deal?

ZUCKERBERG: I don`t know the answer to that off the top of my head.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you won`t take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that`s a pretty simple yes or no.


MELBER: Some trouble there. Credit to Zuckerberg for speaking for Congress. We`ve advocated for that on this show so people can get the facts. And the premise of the question raises a lot more questions like who do you want to decide what`s true in politics and what is the minimum line. We wanted to show you that because it was an interesting start to a much longer conversation.

Thanks as always for watching THE BEAT. I`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern if you want to join me. And don`t go anywhere now because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.