IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

John Esienberg, testifying Monday. TRANSCRIPT: 11/1/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Tiffany Cross, Paul Butler, Liz Harrington, John Flannery, ErinBanco, Al Sharpton, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, David Rothkopf

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, thank you so much. Today is the first day of the rest of Donald Trump`s life as a President now facing an impeachment probe that is barreling at him.

Tonight, we have reporting on four more witnesses who will face investigators Monday as Democrats set the stage to say they`re not only going to gather facts, but determine which witnesses they think are right for this next round of public hearings, all eyes on diplomat Bill Taylor; "Hawk," John Bolton and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. These are the kind of witnesses the Democrats they bring credibility and could move Americans, and that may include of course Republicans.

Because tonight, I`m going to tell you right now, they`re actually new reports on the growing support for impeachment and even trouble among some Republican voters. Take a look at Donald Trump`s GOP support in the summer. This is right before the Ukraine scandal broke and it was at a healthy 87 percent. And look at it now in these new numbers. It has dropped 13 points to 74 percent.

Now that`s not just an unusual drop in this era. It is actually - let`s put it back up, I`m going to show you again. It is actually - just put the chart up - all-time low here. When you look at that 74 percent, that`s basically one out of four Republicans out the door for Donald Trump and it`s coming of course right at this moment where we`re in this scandal, hitting fever pitch.

Now, I`ll tell you, this is the part of the story where we are reporting on what the other side is. After one of the largest votes of Trump`s presidency and as he braces for a Senate trial, what our top and elected Republicans saying on the first workday back since this big vote.

Well for some the answer is literally nothing. I`m going to show you here a remarkable display of Republican lawmakers today ducking questions. Take a close look especially at the end.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think it`s OK for the President to pressure foreign governments to interfere in our elections?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Congressman? Congressman, do you think it`s OK, is that acceptable action?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Congressman, it`s a simple yes or no question --


MELBER: Yes. You just saw a veteran Republican Congressman Don Young, who`s been in the House over 40 years, resorting to that move. We don`t usually see head-butting a camera after ducking the questions.

So consider this contrast here when we take in all the politics, yesterday Republicans United to take this partisan stand against the impeachment probe, facing political threats from the vaunted political machine on the right.

Today, the first day of a new order in Washington and few of them wanted to explain why to defend their vote, let alone defend their party`s President. We`re going to get into all of it with some special guests.

I begin with two former federal prosecutor Paul Butler and Tiffany Cross, Co-Founder and Managing Editor The Beat DC. Good evening to both of you.



MELBER: Tiffany what do you make of this display. The fairest and most positive thing you can say to the Republican Party is they kept their caucus together on that tough vote yesterday. But then you have what you saw today.

CROSS: It`s utterly ridiculous. And I think this is really an opportunity for Democratic members to tell a story to their constituents, because when you hear Republicans come out and say, listen, the American people don`t want this. We have to put that in context.

First of all, they don`t represent the American people. The people who oppose this impeachment inquiry, not only do they not represent a majority of America, they don`t even represent a majority of the American electorate.

And so you remember when Congress is in recess, members are going across having those town halls. And some people stood up and say hey we don`t like this, this is the chance for Democrats to say let me tell you a story.

Not everybody sits around and watches MSNBC all day. Not everybody watches C-SPAN to see the inquiry happening, not everybody reads papers every morning. So you have to give them - package this in a way that makes sense and combat some of the ridiculous utterances coming from the Republican Party.

MELBER: And Paul, while this is going on of course, the public hearings are going to come and the Republicans are going to presumably participate in those. They are going to make arguments out loud eventually.

Congressman Schiff who`s been put in the driver`s seat talked about this to Rachel last night. Take a look.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You will see extensive periods of questioning by the staff council, both majority and minority. That`s the practice we`ve used in the depositions. It`s been very effective to bring out the facts. I think the public will be impressed with just how professional the questioning is. I`m just hoping that we can avoid some of the circus tactics before the questioning begins--


MELBER: Walk us through that Paul.

BUTLER: It`s going to be all about the circus, because the President does not have a defense. So I think Tiffany is right that people will be tuned in, but what is it that the Republicans need to know that would shift them.

We already know that the President tried to shake down Ukraine using public tax dollars for a political favor. We know that he`s engaged in an unprecedented abuse of power by obstructing Congress.

There are other Presidents who have been subject to impeachment, including Johnson and Nixon and Clinton. They had a semblance of respect for the process and what Trump is doing when he says to his officials don`t comply with the subpoenas, don`t show up even when Congress subpoenas you, he`s not just dissing the Democrats, he`s dissing the institution of Congress, he`s dissing the Constitution.

And if the Republicans can`t bring themselves to be critical of that, to make a strong stand in favor of the Constitution of the United States, what should we expect of them?

MELBER: And Tiffany I wonder what you think is someone who keeps a close eye on all of these issues in Washington about the evolution with Speaker Pelosi. Folks will remember when the Democrats won in the midterms that it was some of the highest turnout in a midterm in in 80 years. There was a debate over was this the time to change leadership. They were critics of the Speaker.

She held the caucus together then and as she did yesterday, and she certainly looks to have the wind at her back. I can tell you I`ve heard from Republicans who disagree vehemently with her ideology and thinks she`s played her hand well and played the time well.

Take a look at her doing something of you - could call it a victory lap with Stephen Colbert on his program, which has become a real clearinghouse for a lot of criticism of Donald Trump. Take a look.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): No one is above the law, not the President of United States.

What we are defending is our democracy. This isn`t about his personality, his policies, his--

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDY CENTRAL HOST: When do public hearings start?

PELOSI: They`ll be soon.

COLBERT: Could you be vaguer?


MELBER: Tiffany?

CROSS: Well, I think it says something, Ari, about where we are in America that this has become commonplace for the Colbert show that she`s on there. And, listen, I know we cannot overstate the power of the Speaker. But listen it`s not unilateral. I mean she too got her caucus in line. There were two sole dissidents from the vote yesterday, but she still got her caucus in line.

And I still think it`s a big tent party. Certainly there`s an evolution of Nancy Pelosi and she has survived. She`s learned how to take a punch. She definitely knows how to throw one. But I would also echo the thoughts of a Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress when that debate was happening about voting for Pelosi.

And she said, look, I didn`t come here to ask for anybody`s permission to lead. I`m going to vote for you. But I`m still going to pursue my own agenda. So we have to remember that the work of the people is still getting done. This is not solely focused on impeachment. But this is a huge deal for the country.

And I just want to add, Ari, as the next steps begin. It`s really important to know that Adam Schiff counterpart, Congressman Devin Nunes, we can`t forget the role that he played during the Russia investigations when he was really a Congressman turned spy for the White House and running back and forth there.

And so when we look at how these impeachment proceedings play out, we have to keep a close eye on what the Republican Party is doing as it relates to leaking information back to the Trump administration.

MELBER: Well, I appreciate both do you. I have a couple more guests in this segment. So I`m going to move to them. Paul, if it`s a little bit like - I don`t know if you ever used to watch wrestling, if we can tag you out for another prosecutor, John Flannery. Are you are you OK with that tag?

BUTLER: I`m totally cool, but John has to come up with a wrestler name.

MELBER: OK. I will pass that on to him. I know he`s listening. Paul Butler, Tiffany Cross, thanks to both you. Have a great Friday night.

As mentioned, I want to turn to these next guests. You know, a lot of House Republicans have been ducking these interview requests today. And frankly, from a reporting perspective, that actually makes it harder to find out, given the new vote, what Donald Trump`s impeachment defense is at this point.

But now we are joined by someone leading that very charge. The Republican Party`s National Spokesperson Liz Harrington from the RNC, and a legal expert, who as you know, if you watch this program has previously advocated for the legal case for the impeachment of Donald Trump, former prosecutor John Flannery. Thanks to both you for being here.



MELBER: Liz, I will start with the straightforward question. Are the Republicans still asking for foreign help to get Trump reelected?

HARRINGTON: I would ask the Democrats, because we spent two and a half years debating that very question. I was all about Democrat paid for dossier.

MELBER: Well, I`ll tell what, I will make you a deal. You ever host THE BEAT you can invite guests on and ask them questions. But I`m asking you. Because you are President, right, went out in public and said, yes, of course, I asked Ukraine for help. So is that still the way you want to win reelection?

HARRINGTON: Is Nancy Pelosi still praying and taking this very solemnly when she`s going on late-night TV and yucking it up about taking away our votes in 2016, because that`s what this has happened - this is what exactly what`s happening.

I want to go back to the chart you put up at the top of the show, because that`s what gives away the Democrats play right here.

MELBER: We`ll put it up for you. You want to bring evidence? Then John gets his turn, but go ahead. Walk us through--

HARRINGTON: Talk about--

MELBER: Let me lead you to the chart and then I will give you another turn. What`s fascinating here is one out of four Republicans now going elsewhere disapproving of Donald Trump.

HARRINGTON: Let`s talk about what the real election meddling is, trying to drive down the President`s poll numbers, a popular economy -- look at the economy numbers we had today. The robust economy that the President Trump is ushered in, going into a reelection and what are Democrats trying to do? No bipartisan support for this witch-hunt. They`re going in, trying to drive down his poll numbers. That`s exactly what you see right there.

MELBER: You will get your time and turn. I`m going to bring in John Flannery. I am going to note for the record, you didn`t really answer that - the question put to you twice.


MELBER: But you did use --

MELBER: He didn`t ask for help. He asked for help in looking into the Justice Department legitimate investigation into the election meddling in 2016, that`s what the favor was.

MELBER: OK. There`s your position, your answer. John Flannery your turn.

FLANNERY: Well, to go to the point, he was saying if you want the missiles to protect your entire nation-state you better give me some lies on Biden who`s going up in the polls.

And by my way of thinking, defying our policy about helping Ukraine against a Russian aggressor, who is the puppet master for our President, and saying that I want you to give me dirt because I can`t otherwise win this election. And I`ve been working on this since last November with my mouthpiece Rudy Giuliani, I think that`s a little different than minimizing what the Democrats are doing.

But my concern about the Democrats is more like MacArthur Park. In fact, the remark by Pelosi about when are we going to hold the hearings maybe think about it. And I`m concerned that Schiff will leave that cake out in the rain and I don`t think I can take. It looks so long to bake it.

MELBER: You`re worried that democrats are delaying to long?

FLANNERY: Yes, absolutely. Malingerers, why are they taking off next week? Why aren`t we holding hearings now? Now, right now.

HARRINGTON: Let`s talk about --

FLANNERY: I don`t understand that.

HARRINGTON: Let`s talk about helping Ukraine with lethal aid.

FLANNERY: Please, yes.

HARRINGTON: You know who did that, President Trump, three times. You know who didn`t do that, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. When Joe Biden --

FLANNERY: And you know who withheld the money when they needed it against Russian aggression?


MELBER: We`re going to do it -- hold on. Everybody hold on. You guys know how it works -- both of you. We are going one at a time. Flannery, I will bring back -- bring you back in and Liz I will sit with you here on set with me. When there is an impeachment proceeding in to Barack Obama you can come back and we`ll do that.

But on this show we don`t do historical, hypotheticals --

HARRINGTON: They haven`t authorized that impeachment yet, so there is no real impeachment --

MELBER: You are here to offer your views on behalf of the RNC and the President as to what the impeachment defense is. I guess the other question to you on all of this is, is Donald Trump going to say what Mick Mulvaney said? Which is, basically we do this all the time. There was a conditional bribery plot.

And let me play a little bit of that for you to refresh everyone`s memory, because no offense, but he`s one of the top-ranked officials. I mean you`re at the RNC. He`s number one the White House, true? True? Right?

HARRINGTON: He is the Acting Chief of Staff.

MELBER: Acting Chief of Staff, and here`s what he said in public in a room like this, him on TV to reporters. Take a look.


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.

REPORTER: To be clear you just described is a quid pro quo.

MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy. That`s it. That`s why we held up the money --


HARRINGTON: That was very chopped up there. But he`s talking about very generally. And I would ask why are Democrats so not -- why don`t they want to get in the way of a legitimate Justice Department investigation into election meddling?

MELBER: Well, look, I think you are great at asking questions. I have to do my job.

HARRINGTON: We spent two years --

MELBER: Let me give you one more chance to answer.

HARRINGTON: We spent two and half years --

MELBER: Let me give you one more chance to answer before I go back to John Flannery. You said it was chopped up--

HARRINGTON: And then we can`t get to the bottom of Ukraine.

MELBER: Mick Mulvaney -- just to be clear -- just to be clear, "what you described is a quid pro quo." Mick Mulvaney, "We do it all the time with foreign policy, that`s why we held up the money." Was he wrong when he admitted that?

HARRINGTON: He said we held up the money because it`s on the transcript. We can all read it for yourselves. We wanted Europe to do more, our allies -- why weren`t they doing more for -- to help Ukraine? And we wanted cooperation in the legitimate Justice Department investigation into Ukraine election meddling in the 2016 election.

We know a Ukrainian Court has ruled that they did in fact meddle in the 2016 against President Trump. POLITICO reported this in January 2017 before --

MELBER: So you are telling -- are you going --


MELBER: I just want to get you on the record, because --

HARRINGTON: You didn`t know that --

MELBER: Hold on. Let`s take turns and then --

HARRINGTON: -- is that --

MELBER: Hold on, hold on. If you ever want to come back on this show we have to take turns. I just -- rules of the road. You`re kind of doing a double Mulvaney. You`re saying, yes, this was part of it. Yes, that`s what you needed from Ukraine?

HARRINGTON: It had nothing to do with Biden. Listen to what Kurt Volker testified. He said Biden wasn`t even a topic of conversation. And if you`re having a conversation, which if you can read the transcript, we all can.

And you`re talking about corruption President Zelensky brings, up draining the swamp. You`re talking about corruption, you`re talking about Ukraine, how does Joe Biden not get mentioned when you think he was the point person --


HARRINGTON: -- on corruption.

MELBER: Let me -- so I got -- I gave you your time. John, I`m told we have some other news as well, so what I want to do is to close this out. Make sure I give you a response to Liz`s position there. What Liz is partly saying is, partly, no, we didn`t do it. And to the extent we did it, we were just looking for corruption.

FLANNERY: Well of the times that the President has withheld money it was to get this favor. And if you want to do something, you want to read the transcript -- read the incomplete transcript that says precisely the give and take, which is, in exchange for Javelins I want you to me to do a favor though and it`s Biden and Biden`s name is in there.

HARRINGTON: It`s not Biden.

FLANNERY: And the -- yes, it is.

HARRINGTON: It`s DNC. Its DNC server.

FLANNERY: If you actually can read --

HARRINGTON: I can read.

FLANNERY: I guess, you think you are on Fox News, right? You can`t possibly wait until somebody finishes talking. Your objective is to interfere with any truth that said by anyone else but yourself, and what you say is not true. It`s a lie.

HARRINGTON: That`s not what the transcript says and I would again ask you - -

FLANNERY: That is what the transcript says.

HARRINGTON: -- we should all be asking what Joe Biden and Barack Obama --


HARRINGTON: -- why they never approved lethal --

FLANNERY: When they are President the --


MELBER: I got other news. I would do this forever. But I have other news. And Liz I want to say, as mentioned it, as we do on this show, we`re looking to get everybody`s views. And I appreciate you coming on THE BEAT.

HARRINGTON: I really appreciate you having me.

MELBER: Absolutely, great to have you here on set. John Flannery, I`m not just saying it. I actually have breaking news. I want to get your response on it, broke since you sat in the chair.

FLANNERY: I will be glad.

MELBER: So it`s only slightly unfair to you as an attorney. But here`s the headline, "Washington Post" go crossing the wire right now.


MELBER: Quote "White House official who heard Trump`s call with Ukraine leader testified," he was, quote "told to keep quiet." "The Post" reporting it several days after that infamous phone call, top White House lawyer instructed the national security official not to discuss what they`d report as a quote "grave concern" about that conversation with anyone outside the White House.

"The Post," John, sourcing this to three different people about Alexander Vindman. It`s another Friday night testimonial bombshell. What do you view is the significance here. "The Post," obviously, seeing it as a big story that Vindman, who folks will remember is the army officer who gave this damning testimony is according to three sources being told by the White House to cover it up.

FLANNERY: It makes sense. If you consider the fact that we first knew that there was a whistleblower and that person only came forward in like August the 12th or something like that. So the conversation is on the 25th and it took somebody of the 12 people who were on the phone to tell a second person who was the whistleblower, who then told us about it.

So a cover-up makes sense, including what Eisenberg did with the recording that is the readout rather than the recording and they put it in a place where it wasn`t accessible and you have to wonder whose advice, if any, he took from say Justice Department before he did that.

It is a rat`s nest of -- like a criminal rat`s nest that they`re running there. And it`s hard to believe, we`re only talking about the President when we`re talking about how do we clean this up. Our government is in dire straits. This is a constitutional crisis unprecedented in American history.

We have a bunch of criminals in the White House violating our policy and doing it in a criminal fashion and using external sources. It`s amazing.

MELBER: And what`s striking in this new "Post," again crossing the wire Friday night, is it does sketch according to "The Post" and according to their sources, a view of a White House whose lawyers who are supposed to say to the rest of the folks, "Hey push hard, be aggressive but here`s where the line is." That`s where the White House nationally credited (ph) lawyers are supposed to be.

I mean, these folks also sign off on drone strikes and other serious stuff and they say where the line is. But what the report in "The Post" here and reading again from it says, it is "an expanding list of moves by senior White House officials to conceal evidence of Trump`s attempt to pressure Zelensky and Ukraine to provide the information. The instruction is to stay quiet came after White House officials had discussed moving the transcript into that server -- the classified server."

So quite a quite an interesting story from "The Post," John I`d love for you to stick around for our coverage tonight a little later in the show.

FLANNERY: Be glad to.

MELBER: Thanks to you.

FLANNERY: And for Paul --

MELBER: And for Paul you think about your wrestling name. That was his request, not mine. Big Red, call me Big Red.

MELBER: Big Red, all right. I`m going to fit in a break as I need to from time to time. But coming up new reporting on Giuliani`s shadow diplomacy in Ukraine. Donald Trump saying he`s done with New York for real. He`s legally moving to Florida. And tonight, other breaking news, Beto O`Rourke dropping out of the Presidential race. I have that Reverend Al Sharpton on that and a lot more.

Plus yes, REM, on the beat tonight, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills, it`s a busy Friday. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: For all the action in Washington right now -- and we just had some breaking news on the show. Donald Trump`s also facing another impeachment related problem in New York where federal prosecutors were back in court today arguing with one of the indicted Associates of Rudy Giuliani who was trying to claim he`s not a flight risk.

The judge decided to keep him on House arrest. This is the case and the famously independent Southern District of New York that convicted Trump`s other lawyer Michael Cohen and is also investigating Giuliani, who is now reportedly in advanced discussions to hire a veteran of that office as his defense attorney.

And that`s not the only legal head ache for Giuliani that could also echo in Trump`s Washington, because in a very different suit, Giuliani`s private communications on Ukraine are about to be released, a judge ordering that Trump State Department to basically unveil Rudy`s text messages and e-mails to a watchdog group.

No one else knows exactly what that will reveal, but it could add two other leads we`re seeing like this one. "The Daily Beast" reporting that Giuliani`s politicking in Ukraine extended to meeting with the Ukraine President`s rival and discussing military aid, which is of course, an issue at the center of the plot that`s brought Trump so close to impeachment.

So here`s Giuliani in real new trouble? Is he putting his most famous client in extra danger right now? We`ve got the perfect guest on that, the reporter who broke that Giuliani story and our former federal prosecutor, who in case you forgot, also worked with him, when we`re back in 30.


We are back with "Daily Beast" reporter, Erin Banco, who broke this story on Giuliani meeting with Ukraine`s Prime Minister; as well as a friend of "THE BEAT" and former federal prosecutor, John Flannery, who we should mention, as we turn to this story, once worked as a prosecutor with Rudy Giuliani. Thanks to both of you.

FLANNERY: Thank you.


MELBER: What is the significance of the revelations in your story?

BANCO: So basically what we -- my colleague in Sam Stein and I found out is that Rudy Giuliani met with Yulia Tymoshenko back December 5th, 2018. Now the timing of that meeting is pretty significant. We know that Mr. Giuliani has said publicly that his "political interest" in Ukraine started somewhere around November 2018.

We know he held business contracts in the country before that. But, again remember, this is right around the time when Giuliani is starting to dig up dirt and find information about the origins of the FBI investigation into the 2016 election and is starting to ask political questions with people like Tymoshenko.

So, obviously, this raised questions for us about what exactly was discussed. And we do know that the two discussed things like military aid, future U.S.-Ukraine relations. And we`ve been told that Mr. Giuliani approached Tymoshenko about the meeting.

MELBER: Yes. And you say he approached her and you`d show how far back this goes. And that would seem to at least contradict some of the way or the suggestions that Rudy has made about what he`s doing and why he`s doing it. Take a look.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: I never talked to Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to do it and then I reported every conversation back to them. And, Laura, I`m a pretty good lawyer, just a country lawyer. But it`s all here right here. Right here. The first call from the State Department, the debriefing of the State Department.



MELBER: Does your reporting and timeline suggest that that wasn`t the whole truth?

BANCO: Exactly. It definitely raises additional questions about exactly what Mr. Giuliani was up to at the time. We did talk to one source very familiar with the conversation between Giuliani and Tymoshenko who said that Giuliani was "trolling for business," but also you know had an interest in talking politics with Tymoshenko.

And at this time, you have to remember that Tymoshenko was up in the polls. Everyone thought she would win the Presidential election. Now she`s in the U.S. during this time period and she`s meeting with a lot of different people, including sort of lower level officials like Kurt Volker, who we know about, State Department official George Kent.

And then thrown in the mix is Rudy Giuliani. And so this definitely raises additional questions and sort of points to the fact that Giuliani has perhaps talked about politics with Ukrainian officials, things like aid, which we, of course know, is central to the impeachment probe far earlier than he mentioned previously.

REPORTER: John what do you see as important here?

FLANNERY: Well, it`s a powerful story with dramatic disclosures. And what I see is they`re covering their bases. Who maybe come leader of Ukraine they want to put them in this position -- the squeeze play that ultimately requires a call from no less than Trump himself, set up by his mouthpiece Rudy Giuliani.

And it will be interesting to see when the State Department material is released how far back is their date. And what we may find is we may find that Pompeo, who appears to have been very comfortable with the request that Yovanovitch, the Ambassador to Ukraine, be removed at the request of Rudy and Livingstone and there is another one from Texas -- another member of Congress who`s involved in the freaking (ph) frack conspiracy.

The -- all of these people come together and --

MELBER: You could lose you track of them at a certain point, right?

FLANNERY: You could lose, yes, and I have a little bit. But the significant juncture is where is Pompeo in this formula of early goings on? And it looks like it would be a directive from Trump to do this. We don`t have that answer yet.

MELBER: If I`m understanding you right, John, you`re saying that one theory of the case would be Rudy basically lied about who was running this and how far back it went. That he`s holding up his phone and claiming, oh, I was doing it all at the behest of State Department. Where in fact other officials have said, no, you came in and tried to hijack this.

The other possibility is that those officials who felt hijacked, who were mid to senior, didn`t know -- you`re saying a second theory to the case would be that maybe really at a higher, higher level, Trump and whatnot, there was an agreement very early on to have him do some of this stuff, earlier than we`ve known.

FLANNERY: Well, we know Pompeo is involved by May of 2019, because that`s when he receives the material on his desk and it receives phone calls about Yovanovitch to get rid of her, because she`s considered an obstruction to this rogue plan that Rudy Giuliani and others had.

MELBER: Erin, what are the final questions you have unanswered here?

BANCO: So I think what`s also really interesting about this story is that we know a former Congressman from Ohio, Bob McEwen, set up this meeting between Tymoshenko and Rudy Giuliani, and I think that`s pretty important. Here`s why.

We know that Bob McEwen is actually relatively close with Vice President Mike Pence, has been pictured alongside President Trump and at several events at the White House. He`s also close with Robert Livingston, who was mentioned in a story, I believe, by "The New York Times" the other day, who was sort of central and integral to the ousting of Yovanovitch.

So I think this sort of raises some questions about how involved some of these other characters were in Giuliani`s efforts to make connections with Ukrainian officials, including Mr. Tymoshenko.

MELBER: It`s really fascinating, especially given that we`re talking about who were the people that are supposed to be in charge and actually in charge of U.S. foreign policy, of military money, of the power that the Congress has lately said may have been abused by the President.

Erin Banco, with the reporting, John Flannery, as always with the law, thanks to both of you.

FLANNERY: Thank you.

BANCO: Thank you.

MELBER: We`ve got a lot more in tonight`s show. The heat on impeachment and Trump and how Trump`s reacting. Rev. Al is here, the one and only. Plus I`ve got some other interesting questions to get with him on tech and civil rights.

Also Donald Trump says he`s moving to Florida, but why is he really?


MELBER: Here`s an unusual announcement from someone who was always boasted about living in a skyscraper with his name on it on Fifth Avenue. All of a sudden Donald Trump is leaving New York. Weird timing, right?

Well, he`s officially announced all of a sudden, as we say, out of the blue that of his many homes or whatever, he`s going to make Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach Florida his permanent legal residence. And New York Governor Cuomo thinks there is a real strategy here.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It`s a desperate legal move where he`s now going to argue, well, the state should have no right to my taxes, because I moved out. I`m a Florida resident. Just because you move out, doesn`t mean you`re not liable for what you said in those taxes when you filed them in the State of New York--


MELBER: That`s, of course, not the reason that Donald Trump has offered for the move, but it`s pretty interesting for someone who`s tangled with him so much, who knows so much, the Governor of New York, to make this allegation.

The Trump`s basically hightailing it to Florida as one more way to try to avoid and get out from legal pressure to have to cough up his tax returns. Governor Cuomo is the person who, of course, signed the New York law that allows the state to send the President`s tax returns when requested to the U.S. Congress.

And a federal court, you may recall, recently got New York`s back and said, yes, you got a handover eight years of tax returns to at least the authorities, in this case the Manhattan DA. So this lifelong New Yorker who made his brand, of course, you know the pictures you know "The Apprentice," all about New York.

Well, he says he`s leaving, because he doesn`t like the way politicians have treated him. No word on whether it`s to hide the fact that he doesn`t want everyone to know how much money he actually has.

Coming up on the show we have a lot more I`m excited about. Rock legends from R.E.M. are in the House tonight. But first, this Trump impeachment probe and 2020 echoes, a person who knows all about it, including Trump as a New Yorker, look who it is. Live on the TV the Rev. Al. Thanks for being here. We`ll be right back.



MELBER: Breaking news, Beto O`Rourke is dropping out of the Democratic Presidential race on this Friday night. The former Texas Congressman had a couple breakout moments and major fundraising initially, but he lost steam. That`s according to him.

His campaign announcing, he quote "doesn`t have the means to continue on." How new and live is this story? We`re looking at live pictures right now, having made the announcement late Friday, Beto O`Rourke addressing his supporters, talking about the campaign, where he goes from here. We`ll bring you any highlights that come out of that are newsworthy.

But this is a significant shift. Now Mr. O`Rourke leaves a field that has some of the strongest performances right now being conducted by U.S. Senators like Senator Warren and Sanders. If the House does impeach Donald Trump, those senators may find themselves in an unusual position, participating in a Senate trial of the President at the height of their Presidential primary coming in the New Year.

All told there are six senators who could face the dilemma between campaigning in early states and showing up at a trial that Mitch McConnell says could run 6 days a week. Well, I`m joined now by a man who seems to work eight days a week, Al Sharpton, a host here, a former Presidential candidate. Great to have you this Friday evening.

SHARPTON: Glad to be with you this Friday evening.

MELBER: Couple things to get to with you, but let`s start with both. What it means as you see Beto O`Rourke coming up short and the predicament. If you were a candidate, would you want to have to do an impeachment trial weeks out of Iowa?

SHARPTON: No, I think that that`s a real fear for any candidate, because especially, Iowa, it`s a touch and feel and hug kind of state --

MELBER: Retail.

SHARPTON: Retail -- all retail just about. And the fear of that they would be gone six days a week from Iowa gives an advantage to non-Senate candidates. The problem is, the dilemma is, do you choose to be absent from the trial which really gives you a serious negative with national voters in Democrat primary or absent from Iowa, which means that other people can make all the stops in the living room --

MELBER: Well, it`s really --

SHARPTON: I`d hate to have to make that decision.

MELBER: Yes, it`s interesting to hear your candor on that. We have Democratic politicians who try to spin it as, "No, everything`s going to be fine." You`re saying it`s a challenge.

SHARPTON: That`s a problem.

MELBER: On the other hand, of course, you trust Mitch McConnell not to abuse the situation or extend it out. I mean, you trust Mitch McConnell a 100 percent.

SHARPTON: About as much as I can lift this building 30 Rockefeller --

MELBER: It`s good. You`re like a breath of fresh air on Friday. I want to turn to something else that`s really important, where you are in the news. People know you as someone who works here and you have your show. But you`re also someone that`s called on as a civil rights leader.

And if folks don`t know, this news broke Facebook has been really under fire. You were going on Monday with several civil rights leaders to meet with Mark Zuckerberg, the top.


MELBER: And one of the issues that you`re pushing on is about the difference between, OK do these platforms want to say whether a statement is true or not -- a lot of them want to stay out of that. They talk about censorship. But what AOC and other leaders have said is a different problem, which is providing information that could actually undermine civil rights. What are you working on?

SHARPTON: Our issue is civil rights voter suppression. When you allow people to buy ads and use your site that are using actual factual information for the purposes of suppressing people from coming out to vote, then you`re violating voting rights and civil rights. This is not about regulating free speech.

And I think that what we are going to say -- the group that is -- has asked for this meeting and that Zukerman has agreed to meet with--

MELBER: Mark Zuckerberg, yes.

SHARPTON: Yes, Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with, is that, we`re not talking about a limiting free speech. This is not a free speech issue. This is a voter suppression issue.

And when you look at the fact that is now established that the Russians hacked in certain social media, that there are all kinds of ways to try and circumvent people of color, black people from voting, for you to now say openly you`re doing no fact-checking in all if political ads, even though now Twitter said they will. You will be putting yourself in a position where you are aiding-and-abetting potential breaches of those that would engage in voter suppression.

MELBER: Well, and this is such an important issue, and many people in the press we feel strongly about the First Amendment.


MELBER: So you could say all kinds of things. You could say things that are even quite offensive.


MELBER: But you can`t go and say to someone don`t vote on Tuesday, the elections actually on Saturday.


MELBER: Here`s a false flyer about that. That`s actually a felony.

SHARPTON: Exactly right, and you can`t become one that says I will accommodate that in the name of free speech. We actually have seen where people have put out public notices giving the voting date -- the wrong date, of voting sites the wrong sites and which is in effect suppressing the vote with a methodical and strategic end in mind.

And I think that he`s got to be confronted with that and know that this is what he`s doing. And I think that is what we have responsibility to do leading national civil rights groups.

MELBER: Well, I appreciate the work you`re doing on it and educating us about it. A little bit before you go, I`d love to have you back in here, and how it goes on Monday.

SHARPTON: I definitely would love to come back and inform people. It`s an important issue.

MELBER: All right. Reverend Al Sharpton, as always, you can catch the Rev at 5 p.m. Eastern every Saturday and Sunday on "PoliticsNation" on MSNBC.

Now coming up next something very special, a little political, a little cultural R.E.M. is Michael Stipe and Mike Mills on THE BEAT here we go.


MELBER: It`s time to fall back. It`s the end of the world as we know it, because Michael Stipe and Mike Mills are on THE BEAT and we are feeling fine. They are of course the Grammy-winning founding members of the band " R.E.M.." These Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have sold over 85 million records worldwide. They`re cited by many musicians as Trailblazers for independent music.

Now R.E.M. is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their enigmatic album "Monster" with a re-mastered version of the album as part of the forthcoming box set. And who do you call on when graced by rock royalty, foreign policy expert David Rothkopf, of course.

Yes, of course, the Carnegie scholar and former Clinton official has edited "Foreign Policy" magazine, written for hosts of publications and is the author of "National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear." What in honor to have all of you here.

Thank you.

MELBER: I love it.


MELBER: David, you`re the repeat customer here. So I`m going to start with you, what`s on your fallback list?

ROTHKOPF: Well I think maybe we could start with having PG&E and the government of California fall back, because you think California is the fifth largest state -- fifth largest economy in the world and maybe they could learn how to generate electricity for everybody and do so without burning the state down you would think.

And, you know if you`re going to have fires that destroyed communities every couple of months, maybe the state could do more about it, because this is starting to be a regular thing.


ROTHKOPF: And it seems in a civilized, rich country we shouldn`t have cities burning down all the time.

MELBER: Michael what or who on your list needs to fall back?

MICHAEL STIPE, AMERICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER: I feel like I`m standing on top of a bunch of teetering boxes when I say media, in general.


STIPE: Specifically social media. I read that Jaron Lanier book, "Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Now," and it confirmed for me how destructive social media has become, and I would like to see that fall back.

MELBER: It`s a great one.

STIPE: -- especially only Facebook, it`s a good week for that.


STIPE: Particularly Twitter, I feel like we would be living in a very different universe today had Jack Dorsey at Twitter told Donald J. Trump two and a half years ago that what you`re putting on our platform is hate speech, and you`re off. I wonder where we would be now.

MELBER: In a better place.

STIPE: I think we need to really focus on the people who have allowed him to have this platform and have allowed him to stay in office and be able to bark out the kind of crap that he barks out on the daily basis and you guys cover and we all talk about and ramble and yammer on about. But --

MELBER: Well it`s -- (CROSSTALK) also sensing some --

STIPE: There`s no aggression there.

MELBER: No, no, I`m sensing some traditional media criticism in addition to social media.

STIPE: Absolutely.

MELBER: So you`re here know, let`s have it.

STIPE: Well it`s embarrassing what`s happened to "The New York Times," a paper that I grew up with and that I loved deeply. And it`s kind of interesting what`s happened to the "Washington Post," a paper that is owned by someone who I do not like.

But there`s a lot of great people -- there`s a lot of great people working at "The New York Times." I just don`t think that they have the platform that they might have had under a different leadership.

MELBER: And you`re talking -- also you`re saying you`re worried or concerned about the sort of the level of corporate control of the papers industry, yes.

STIPE: Yes. And all the -- every--

MELBER: All this.

STIPE: I think it could be addressed in a much different way.

MELBER: Mike what else is on your mind?

MIKE MILLS, AMERICAN MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST: Well, you sort of leapt on mine little bit. I think science denial has to fall back. Because you -- science teaches us everything we know. And if you continue to deny science, you`re going to go backwards and people got to die.

And it`s literally killing people to continue to pretend that science does not trump just about everything else. I think it`s just crazy that people are getting away with -- as you say firing scientist, defunding government research organizations. It`s a crime and people are suffering from it.

ROTHKOPF: I would be interested in your reactions. One of the things that strikes me is that we have the problems with Trump. We have the problems with the denying science. We have the problems with rampant corruption. We`ve got a lot of problems right now.

What we don`t have is a lot of arts activism. I don`t see you know. I don`t see the protest songs. I don`t see the parody movies. I don`t see a lot of the criticism that you would think would be happening right now because this is an outrageous time.

STIPE: I just put out a protest song my first solo single ever. You can go to the and download it.

ROTHKOPF: I didn`t I don`t know.

STIPE: That`s OK.


STIPE: David I`d appreciate. But all the proceeds from the first year -- all every single penny of profit goes to Extinction Rebellion a group that I`m very proud to be a member of.

MELBER: And I think that`s wonderful, though. I think David speaking to the point and we don`t want to just do the generational thing. But it does seem sometimes like when you want the big advancement of equality, social civil rights movements that was more of that it felt like--

STIPE: Definitely--

MELBER: --earlier that now with today`s music.

MILLS: There`s not. It`s just everyone seems interested in building their brand. And I don`t know if that`s just the greed that seems to have filtered all through society and culture in general. But it`s a real shame that more people aren`t speaking out. I guess, they`re just afraid because things like Twitter armies will come after them or social media will tear them down if they start to take a stand in a controversial position. But I think that`s exactly what artists should do.

MELBER: We didn`t know what would happen when we brought you guys together. But I`ve thoroughly enjoyed it. And it`s given us a lot to think about.

STIPE: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you.

MILLS: Thank you.

ROTHKOPF: Thank you. Appreciate it.

MELBER: David, Mike, Michael.

STIPE: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: A lot to think about. Great conversation as we head into this weekend looking out over New York City here. I also want to tell you about one more thing before. We go we do extra stuff. Some of you have told us you like the extra deeper, longer interviews. We did an additional thing with Michael Stipe and Mike Mills that we taped. We got to the music R.E.M., the 20th anniversary of the quadruple platinum album "Monster," which is now out as a re-mastered box set. Take a look.


STIPE: Part of "Monster" and part of the reason that we responded to the two albums that we had put out prior to that one which had sold more tens of millions of records and we had ever sold before, was a way to retain, I think, that credibility amongst a younger group of people who were inspired by the way that we had forged their way through a very difficult industry and done so without losing our sense of respect for ourselves.

MILLS: To know what you don`t want to do and to forge on with that regardless of whether they tell you you`re not going to make it, you can`t do it that way. You have to do it this way and we rejected that and we were still successful. And I think that gave an inspiration to a lot of people.

We were told we had to open for really big bands, which we rejected for the most part. We were told we had to get some kind of identifying hairstyle or clothing style or some kind of gimmick that people would associate with us- -

MELBER: Like matching?

MILLS: Yes, like matching and you know --

MELBER: That doesn`t feeling -- I mean, does it feel very R.E.M. for you guys to all come out --

MILLS: I kind of wish we`d done it at least once.


MELBER: There`s no matching outfits but there is a whole music interview about culture branding, as you said, politics you can find it on our YouTube page. Search "THE BEAT", R.E.M. or go to and you can find some of those extra interviews we do.

As I`ve heard from you guys, I mentioned some people like those. We do them digitally. They run longer. And in the interview we talk lyrics. Of course, we also talk about their relationship with Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder. So there`s something in there for everybody.

I hope to join you Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, because I will be back with a brand new special, our first since those impeachment vote rules came out. Well that`s this Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern, "Impeachment: White House in Crisis" with yours truly. I`ll see you there. "Hardball" starts now.