CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.
"THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much. We have a big show and exclusive guest tonight.
Rudy Giuliani`s name appearing hundreds of times in impeachment testimony as he hires three new lawyers, we`ll get into that later. A Mueller witness makes her first-ever appearance on THE BEAT tonight. This comes as witnesses take the stand in the trial of Donald Trump`s longest-serving adviser, Roger Stone, what Chuck was just discussing with his panelists. We have an exclusive on that tonight.
And later, new reports about Trump`s plans for leaving the White House, they involve television. So we`ll get to that.
But we begin with new cracks in Trump`s defense to impeachment, as an aide to Vice President Pence knocks the infamous Ukraine call, and John Bolton is ready to defy Trump and talk to the impeachment probe that is trying to end Trump`s presidency.
The new testimony coming in tonight from a top State Department official, George Kent, recounting Trump`s specific demands that Ukraine carry out the political investigations he wanted. Recounting how another now-famous witness, Ambassador Sondland, said Trump wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to and say investigations Biden and Clinton.
Kent also telling Congress that the facts showed the entire effort was to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law. Now was the Zelensky going to step up to the mic and announce that? "New York Times" is now reporting he was two days away from doing it on TV and then the U.S. aid money started flowing and they canceled the interview.
Today a key aide to Mike Pence also testifying behind closed doors. This is the person who would have been responsible for ensuring Pence knew what happened on the calls, "The Washington Post" reports, and the aide says the call was not political and not a normal. I should say was political and was not a normal diplomatic call.
Now while those witnesses are notable more for what they say than who they are, there is another key witness in the middle of all of this - this impeachment Venn diagram. John Bolton, a famous hawk with credentials that range from Fox News to the Bush White House to yes the Trump White House.
And he is a potentially devastating impeachment witness given these credentials and a reportedly devastating objection to the Ukraine bribery plot that he issued in real time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former National Security Adviser John Bolton characterized the attempt to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden as a "drug deal."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bolton described Rudy Giuliani as a quote "Hand Grenade." Who`s going to blow everybody up--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: --did not face the investigators today. But this is what`s rattling Trump World, reports that show he is now willing to defy Trump and testify as long as it "Court clears the way."
With a lot in the show tonight, I want to begin on this piece of the breaking news with The Daily Beast Margaret Carlson and Jason Johnson from the Root.com. Good evening to both of you good.
JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM POLITICS EDITOR: Good evening Ari.
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Good evening.
MELBER: Margaret, your view of what we have here in the layer cake. I would argue some cake that is not fully famous, so whether people know and believe Mr. Kent is a matter of some debate rising all the way up to the John Bolton frosting, someone that is a bright red bushy and Fox Newsy and Trumpy and frosting. What does it mean if he publicly turns on Trump in this probe?
CARLSON: Right. So you have this delicious cake over here which is composed of the deep state. The radical unelected bureaucrats as Trump refers to them who work for Trump change, nobody ever thanks them. They don`t they don`t look for gratitude and it`s good, because they`re never going to get it until now when they come forward.
And one of the pictures I like re is the one in which the Capitol Hill police act as an honor guard as some of them have walked into the Capitol, the ones who were deposed. These are unimpeachable witnesses. They only have a stake in representing the country, not in representing Trump - not as Trump represented himself. But just in the country.
And there - I mean, don`t you find like discovering their resumes how what they`ve done with their lives. It`s enough to make you - you want to you want to do something to say thank you, but you really can`t. And then you have - you do have the shiny objects over here - the frosting as you say.
And the idea of Bolton has now joined with his assistant Charles Kupperman in the lawsuit - not the lawsuit, but asking the court to decide we have to do. And you know Bolton will be a mixed bag. I mean, nobody - neither Republicans or Democrats quite know what he will say, because he`s a political appointee and they go however the wind blows--
MELBER: Yes, I mean to that--
CARLSON: --in some ways. I mean, he`ll truth, but the truth will be as he sees it.
MELBER: As he sees it. And to Margaret`s point, Jason, Bolton is someone who is a star witness in the traditional sense of the word, because he`s one of the more known individuals as I mentioned. Whether he is a star witness for what Adam Schiff and the Democrats want to illustrate is unknown.
Because Mr. Bolton could ultimately turn and say I warned them against the drug deal. I said this was terrible - yada yada, but he might actually still land on where some other establishment conservatives have landed, which is criticizing and then arguing ultimately against the radical - with constitutionally radical remedy of impeachment, conviction and removal.
JOHNSON: You got Sondland, you got Taylor, you got Bolton - cake, cake, cake. It`s not even Nancy Pelosi`s birthday, right. But this is the perfect list of sort of witnesses to come forward for the Democratic Party.
MELBER: Are you saying we`re going to party like it`s your birthday Jason?
JOHNSON: We`re going to party like it`s your birthday.
CARLSON: Like there is no tomorrow.
CARLSON: So - but here`s the thing, and this is really important for I think the public to understand here. The list of people who are coming out, even with John Bolton who everyone knows is going to be a bit volatile, this is a set up. The Democrats have laid out a group of people who they know are going to be a fire line up for the public to see.
They know that these people sound like they`re really responsible. They know that these people don`t sound particular partisan. So at that point, let`s say, John Bolton comes in at the end, if he sounds like a crazy flame thrower, if he sounds like Corey Lewandowski. He`s going to end up looking like the outlier, because everybody else is going to have these sober responsible ways of telling the story. So this is this is fantastic for the Democratic Party right now.
MELBER: And then Margaret I want to give credence here or at least coverage to what we`re seeing every trial has two sides, every case has two sides. The Republican side, we`ve reported, has often been really vague really confused. You do - you go full Mulvaney then you walk it back. Fox News, Steve Doocy reported last night said, well if there was proof that the money was conditioned on the probe. That would be off the rails wrong. Then he reversed himself.
But we are seeing an evolution in the fence. I want to show it Chairman Grassley, who was a longtime Republican is saying, well, look the Obama administration - we have to look into whether they took any policy decisions related to Ukraine and Burisma, the Biden company, were they improperly influenced by the financial interests of those Biden family members.
That seems to be a way to kind of go in the Wayback Machine, change the subject to the past administration, Margaret?
CARLSON: Well, there`s so many diversions, Ari, you just can`t keep up with them. You know, Lindsey Graham being one of the worst lately, which is to say you know like a toddler - but I`m not going to - I`m not listening to anything. I don`t want to hear anything you have to say.
Now, if he said that because he`s a juror in the Senate that might be one thing. But he`s saying it because there`s nothing that that Trump will tolerate from Lindsey Graham. When Lindsey Graham complained about what was happening to the Kurds, he quickly found a reason to back off that. Trump calls him scares him, puts the fear of God into him and then he backs off. And this is what they all do - Steve Doocy.
There is something about Trump that makes grown men quake in their boots. And Senator--
MELBER: Grown people - adults in general.
CARLSON: Grown up - and then they do the toddler thing in order to comply with Trump`s wishes.
And what Senator Kennedy said last night about Nancy Pelosi, which I`m not going to repeat. Senator Kennedy can sometimes be you know like a normal percy folksy, you kind of like him. But that was something he said because Trump was there, and he had to play by Trump`s rules.
MELBER: Right. And you`re really talking about if it gets to the Senate how do those Senators feel caught between this President, his tactics, a looming election and their constituents. The two-thirds of the Senate won`t be facing this cycle.
MELBER: But in two or four years what does history do. I want to tell everyone the rules of the road here, because we`ve got so much news in just this first segment, I`m going to keep moving.
Margaret Carlson, thank you as always. I appreciate you being here. Jason stay with me for breaking news from 2020.
A spokesperson for Michael Bloomberg tonight, as we`re coming on the air, saying Mike Bloomberg is now planning to file for the Alabama 2020 Presidential primary, sending staffers to Alabama to get the requisite signatures to qualify for that primary. This is significant, because it has a Friday deadline for the candidates to get on the ballot to be able to enter the race.
Jason this is a real thing. Sometimes in politics there is the press conference, there is the leak, there is all of the theater. This is the opposite. This is a campaign, we have just learned tonight, really in a more clear way than ever before has meticulously been counting every deadline and has decided in this seemingly random state of Alabama with the first deadline, Mike Bloomberg actually is seriously considering getting in and he could run against Democratic candidates, your view
JOHNSON: I don`t know where these people are getting the idea that they should run. Where is the clamor across the United States of America for a Mike Bloomberg candidacy? And this is a problem that I think the Democrats are going to have to figure out.
They need to figure out the difference between the money donors who are in New York or in DC who may be in Chicago, and what the party is actually saying. If you combine Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, which I know lots of people on Twitter will be mad about.
But if you Bernie Sanders and Warren together, about 40% of the primary population want someone who is progressive, want someone who is dynamic. If you look at Cory Booker and who Julian Castro, these guys were five minutes from being out of the campaign and raised $2 million over a 10-day period, because people wanted to hear their progressive voices.
No one`s calling for Mike Bloomberg at all. He can show up in Alabama, he can show up in California.
MELBER: Let me get you one more point on that and then I`m going to turn back to other news on impeachment central. So we got a lot happening right now. I think the argument here and the reason why this is big news tonight, viewers of this show will know, we don`t jump at just any little random political 2020 development.
It is significant that someone with this much money who has one in a blue state, who is one against the odds before, who weighted, which means Mike Bloomberg whatever his polling, whatever his apparatus is, he wasn`t out in the beginning just throwing his money around, Jason.
He clearly has a team that had surveyed this field that has watched, I think, it`s fair to say a growing concern over Joe Biden. Bloomberg fitting more into that lane than as you say a Bernie-Warren lane. And is not necessarily yet thinking that anyone else, either couple months out from Iowa has a lock.
JOHNSON: Not much of a difference between Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, and Steyer has been out there longer. I mean, I know these guys grew up saying when I grew up, you know what I want to be - the President of United States. Well, that`s wonderful.
But it doesn`t mean that you actually have grassroots support. You can hire all the best consultants that you want. But it doesn`t mean that you actually fit in with what the public is voted for.
And I think the Democratic Party as a whole has got to figure out this lesson. They`ve got to figure out what the public actually wants, not just what they think their money class is calling for. Bloomberg--
MELBER: And is - and to your point, is Mike Bloomberg, a long-standing Democrat, not recently?
JOHNSON: No. No, not recently. And plus, look, he`s coming out of New York. He`s got a sort of media empire that goes with him. In theory, on paper that sounds like someone great to run against Donald Trump. But if you don`t have the sort of grassroots support that you need, if you haven`t been out there even the way Tom Styer has been in Florida, in Georgia and other places, you`re not going to be able to galvanize the important constituencies that you need.
MELBER: I think you make important points there about thinking through the entire holistic grassroots perspective of the Democratic Party. As a piece of news it is - I could just say it is a huge deal that someone with Bloomberg`s background and war chest is now looking at getting in. And what does that do to scramble potentially the Democratic race.
Jason Johnson appreciate your view on those two different stories.
JOHNSON: Thank you. We keep barreling along here. Back to impeachment, this is another thing we want to get to and I have two special guests that we`re about to turn to.
Consider this news. The man that Donald Trump has repeatedly turned to in these investigations into his presidency is Attorney General Bill Barr. News breaking in "Washington Post" that Trump asked him to hold a press conference at the President`s potentially improper request to clear Donald Trump in the middle of the Ukraine scandal.
Barr, "ultimately declined to do so," according to this new report in "The Washington Post." That is a break from other times when Mr. Barr has the chance to publicly defend his boss, Mr. Trump, using the credibility of the independent Justice Department in ways many legal experts condemned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction of justice offense.
The President was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency--
The bottom line was that Bob Mueller identified some episodes. He did not reach a conclusion. He wasn`t exonerating the President, but he wasn`t finding a crime either.
It was my prerogative his attorney general to make that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A big story and we turn to two experts, former Federal Prosecutor John Flannery and Matt Miller who worked at the Justice Department under Eric Holder. Good evening folks.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Good evening.
MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER CHIEF DOJ SPOKESMAN: Good evening.
MELBER: Mr. Flannery what does this story mean to you?
FLANNERY: Well, I guess, Trump`s of the view that, hey twice this guy`s taking care of me, killed the Mueller report and then he`s investigating the investigation. But what he should have studied was that great American philosopher Clint Eastwood said, "A man ought to know his limitations."
And I think Barr looks at this and he says, that Stonewall, it seems like it`s crumbling and falling down like the walls of Jericho, and maybe I don`t want to do any more of this. And so he`s standing back.
I mean some people would like to believe he`s such an ethical presence that he wouldn`t do this improper thing. But the people who come within the ambit of Trump all do improper things at some time or other and Barr is no angel, as evidenced by both the clip you showed and what he`s been doing since.
And for all we know we have 93 U.S. attorneys all of whom are toadies to whatever he wants to have happen to protect the President while he`s the Attorney General. So I think this is a show of the weakness of the President that the air is going out. That people are coming forward who, we consider properly, as Patriots, who are telling us the truth about this corrupt deal of bribery and misconduct and all at the expense of the Ukraine--
MELBER: Very interesting, Matt I have a short question with a follow-up for you. OK.
MELBER: In your time in the Justice Department, when you were of course on day to day speaking terms with the Attorney General Eric Holder, and you were involved in all sorts of things. Did you ever get a request like this from President Obama on any topic?
MILLER: No, that`ll be fair. You know President Obama was never the subject of multiple criminal investigations, so it`s a little apples to oranges.
MELBER: Well, it is or isn`t. There were people that I`m sure the President may have had a personal view. That is to say, over eight years Barack Obama, like Donald Trump, as a human being might have thought gosh, I`d like this or that to go away. Or gosh I`m running for re-election. But you`re telling me that you`re not aware of that call ever being requested?
MILLER: No I mean we - the White House and the Justice Department both during the Obama administration respected the traditional boundaries between the two buildings, between the two entities. And that is you don`t talk about criminal investigations and that rule is kind of times of multiple when it`s a criminal investigation involving someone in White House.
MILLER: I think that`s the important thing--
MELBER: Well that goes to - so let me draw you out on that. That goes to point one, which is the very request from the sitting President in this manner is out of the ordinary and many experts would say flat improper to ask for it.
Then we get to number two, Matt, what do you think is such - you`re so steeped in these things that a lot of people don`t think about, which is OK, what does the AG and the DOJ, what do they do when they get pressure? How do they deal with it? How they document it? People now know from Comey, what he tried to do.
What is your view of how we`re learning about this and what it means that Bill Barr, who as John said, would go over other lines, won`t go over this one.
MILLER: Well, I think there are two possibilities and it`s hard to know which one. One is the theory that John advanced, which is - look, Bill Barr has put his reputation on the line and taken a hit for the President before and this was just a bridge too far.
That this load was too heavy to carry and he`s not willing to damage his reputation again by doing this for the President. But then I have - there`s another explanation which is that - there is something that the Justice Department is worried about.
I go back to the fact that they decided not to open a full investigation of this phone call. And you they made that decision not in a vacuum, but they made that decision went with the fact that there were already conducting investigation into Rudy Giuliani and his two colleagues for their activities in Ukraine.
You didn`t get this phone call where the President is telling the President of Ukraine to talk to Rudy Giuliani. In the normal course of events you wouldn`t just close it based on a narrow legal view, which is what they did. You would take a full look at all that.
And so I think, the other possibility is it`s not just that Barr didn`t want to take a hit for the President, but that they are worried about the decision they made. And that if the President was talking to him about this press conference. That the President or someone else in the White House was talking to the Attorney General about the underlying criminal investigation itself, and they are worried about having to defend that, and that becoming public.
MELBER: That`s fascinating. And John you raised what Mr. Barr has done in the past on multiple issues, including calling lawful investigations and surveillance techniques, calling them spying, using other methods. Take a quick look at some of that, John.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation.
We shouldn`t be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale. We have to look at that.
I think there was a spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLANNERY: Well, you know, the thing about this is the conflict that we haven`t discussed, which is that Barr is at the center of the conversations involving Ukraine and he has an investigation that some of us looked at as trying to prepare the President for the Presidential race by saying, oh that first investigation didn`t work.
And he`s in the middle of the second investigation. He was supposed to go and meet with the Ukrainians - he and Rudy Giuliani and the more ever evidence that we get. And so he may be staying back not only because the White House doesn`t have the power and oomph, even within the Republican Party that it had, particularly after Kentucky and Virginia the other night.
But he also has this problem himself personally. And why in how he could possibly be in a position to clear the President on an offense which he is implicated in by the very telephone conversations in the readout is beyond me--
MELBER: Yes. Well--
FLANNERY: --it`s a corrupt den.
MELBER: Both of you have made points that would necessitate in any normal time a special counsel to deal precisely with the situation where the President name checks the Attorney General in a potentially criminal international plot to help steal the next election. I know it sounds bad when I say it out loud like that, but that`s literally what`s under investigation.
Flannery and Miller reporting for duty. Thanks to both of you.
FLANNERY: Thank you.
MILLER: Thank you.
MELBER: We appreciate you. We have a lot more in this show. The new revelations about Giuliani`s role as he lawyers up with three new members of his team, a key witness testifying about Trump collusion and Russia and WikiLeaks, we have an exclusive interview on that, on the Roger Stone trial. And Donald Trump thinking about what he might do after the White House and it includes a new TV show, all that.
Plus I have a special announcement later in the show. I`m Ari Melber you are the watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Tonight Rudy Giuliani facing even more heat as newly released testimony puts him at the center of this Ukraine scandal, people slamming his campaign of lies and incorrect information. Testimony that it was clear Giuliani had influence on the President about Ukraine.
All this comes as Giuliani faces a criminal investigation and is lawyering up adding three new members to his team, including Robert Costello, who at one time was his intern at the SDNY. So lot of heat.
Giuliani is at the center now, of course, of two probes. Here`s a simple way to measure the pressure on the impeachment side of the probe. Only a minority of depositions have been released thus far and Giuliani`s already cited over 430 times. It`s a lot. How is he responding? Well he`s claimed everything that he did was to defend his client Donald Trump. A line he was using on TV back when he did TV interviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLF GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S PERSONAL LAWYER: Why am I doing it, Laura? Can`t you figure it out? I`m his defense lawyer.
I was seeking in the best tradition of being a lawyer, a defense lawyer, to vindicate my client.
It`s in the best interests of my client to unravel the corruption in the Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`ll get into all this with a former prosecutor when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: We`re back with former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner. You know you`re scratching your head, and a lot of people are scratching their head in America. Right?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You caught me there, Ari.
MELBER: Well, that`s good. I will tell you what we`re doing. It`s a metaphor for how we try to understand what the heck is going on with Mr. Giuliani. As I reported, he went from saying he doesn`t need a lawyer to tiring three and being cited constantly in this impeachment probe. What`s happening?
KIRSCHNER: You know, it really seems like Giuliani has got so much criminal exposure potentially when you see the Parnas` and the Frumans of the world getting locked up. you know, those are charges that had to be approved or at least not stopped by AG Barr. So that tells me Barr may be willing to go so far in helping the President, but maybe not all the way.
So when we heard reported that Ari, Parnas is now saying he is inclined to talk with some of the House committees, that to me sure looks like a step on the road to possible cooperation. I have to say that if Rudy Giuliani is not charged, it`s sure going to smell like Barr putting his thumb on the scales and we`ll have to see how far Barr is willing to go.
MELBER: Yes. Well, and I would say - we just don`t know if we`re there yet. We have to see all the evidence and what happens. I would note that U.S. attorney in New York here, Mr. Berman has really been aggressive in every case he`s come up against, even those with pressure, whether you look at the Michael Cohen case or Jeffrey Epstein.
People remember it for the suspicious death in custody, which was under the Federal Bureau of Prisons. But that case was brought even with whatever headache for the Trump administration, Mr. Avenatti and now the investigation into Giuliani ongoing.
I want to ask you about something that`s not specific to Giuliani, but relates, which is that, do you find that lawyers make for good clients or difficult clients?
KIRSCHNER: So I was a prosecutor for 30 years. I never had a client other than the community and the American people. But I have to believe lawyers make lousy clients.
MELBER: They do.
KIRSCHNER: They are going to want a second guess--
MELBER: I think lawyers to make tough clients. Doctors notoriously make difficult patients. And so that`s not just Giuliani, on top of the reasons why I think viewers know he might make an extra difficult client.
Really do you from his reporting on his search for attorneys spent weeks, even though he knows all the lawyers in New York at his level, finding a lawyer would represent Giuliani four prominent attorneys reportedly declining for various reasons. Lawyers concerned Giuliani known to have difficulty delegating, would try to manage his own case. Glenn?
KIRSCHNER: Yes. That end I wonder how much money Rudy Giuliani has in reserve to pay his lawyers. Because let me tell you, the kind of lawyers who are going to contemplate taking on Rudy Giuliani as a client are not going to do it on the cheap. So that maybe some of the behind-the-scenes concerns that some of these lawyers have before wading into the sort of defense of Rudy Giuliani.
MELBER: Yes and that goes to something else, which is, if Giuliani`s defense is even partially true and he took these actions on behalf of Donald Trump or Donald Trump`s personal interest. Giuliani`s not a government attorney. Then he did a lot of pro bono work for Trump, that`s now costing him a lot of money.
KIRSCHNER: Yes. Sorry I`m losing you here a little bit.
MELBER: Yes. You know what, what I said wasn`t that important.
KIRSCHNER: Now here is the thing. I heard most of what you said Ari.
MELBER: I know how it is with audio, that`s on us. You give us your final thought - big picture.
KIRSCHNER: Final thoughts are, if Rudy Giuliani is charged, there`s nowhere to go but up. And I have to believe rather than running the risk of ending up in the Federal Bureau of Prisons where he put so many people when he was the U.S. Attorney, he`s going to sing.
MELBER: Fascinating. And a lot riding on that investigation. Glenn Kirschner thanks for putting up with us. Thanks for joining THE BEAT tonight, sir.
KIRSCHNER: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate you. Coming up, Donald Trump is already exploring post White House plans, including a potential new reality show, can`t make it up. But first we have a lot more serious news, including major developments in this in this trial of Roger Stone, a longtime trump advisor.
We have a very special guest coming up who has testified before Mueller and now for the first time will face THE BEAT exclusive next.
MELBER: Today the sitting President`s longest-serving advisor is on trial for several felonies, for allegations relating to how these President was elected. This is the legal finale that began with that dramatic 2018 arrest when Trump advisor Roger Stone became the last known Trump associate ever arrested in the Mueller probe.
This now includes, this case, a former Mueller prosecutor pushing evidence this week, arguing President Trump basically misled Bob Mueller, a potential crime. Obviously, this would normally be the top story in the nation - everything I just listed off. But these are not normal times. And thus, only now do we turn in this broadcast to the trial of Roger Stone.
It started with a bang, allegations that Roger Stone talked to Donald Trump twice during the campaign, which is contrary to Trump`s testimony to Mueller. And it continued today with prosecutors laying out evidence and texts designed to show that Stone tampered with a witness.
The text range from potential jokes to potential threats, to references to the press and even "THE BEAT." And the man Stone claimed as his back- channel to WikiLeaks at one point, Randy Credico took the stand, testifying under oath that he was not the back-channel to WikiLeaks.
If any of that sounds familiar, it may be because Credico made that claim right here on "THE BEAT." One of several interviews we have done with Mueller witnesses. And we`ve heard from both potential back channels to WikiLeaks at this point, both Credico and Jerome Corsi. We`ve heard from other Mueller witnesses like Michael Caputo and Steve Bannon and Carter Page, Sam Nunberg.
We hear from these individuals as fact witnesses, as Mueller wanted to speak with them for what they saw, what they experienced, what they knew and so do we, which brings us to our exclusive guest tonight, making her first ever appearance on THE BEAT Mueller witness, Kristin Davis, a longtime associate and friend of Roger Stone and remains in touch with him during this trial.
In her Mueller testimony she identified Stone`s WikiLeaks intermediary as Randy Credico, and she`s here for an exclusive interview, her first since the start of this trial. Thank you for coming on THE BEAT.
KRISTIN DAVIS, MUELLER WITNESS, FRIEND OF ROGER STONE: Thanks for the opportunity to be here.
MELBER: I appreciate it. What do you see as important with your friend and ally Roger Stone, a couple days into this, as the government makes the case that he lied to Congress, that he tampered with a witness, that he basically did a lot of lying about access to WikiLeaks in order to protect Donald Trump.
DAVIS: I think there`s a lot of things to be concerned about from the start of the investigation which was led by Hillary Clinton`s personal attorney. Roger wrote a book, " The Clintons` War on Women." They`ve been at a political warfare for many years. So I think that was unfair and she`s probably not capable of conducting an investigation fairly.
Secondarily, the judge has denied his line of defense of being able to argue that there was no corrupt intent for the obstruction of justice charge. I think it`s important to note that the Mueller report itself identified three tenants of an obstruction of justice charge. The third being corrupt intent and Roger was investigated and arrested by the Mueller team and he`s not being held to the same standards as identified by them.
I think it`s also important to note that he was asked 600 times about WikiLeaks, Assange. And after 600 times I think five times of error is a fairly reasonable percentage.
MELBER: Your argument being you don`t think he was maliciously intending to commit the crime and that the errors that he may have made weren`t deliberate, and I understand that as a defense. So we want to hear your side.
The context with Credico, which are admittedly baroque, and involve pets. I want to put up on the screen, because these were - some of these were ready in trial today. Stone saying in these texts "Stonewalling, plead the Fifth, do The Godfather Dodge, prepare to die, and then that he would take that dog away from Mr. Credico."
Do you believe that it is fair that the prosecutors are introducing those texts as evidence that Roger Stone wanted to intimidate Mr. Credico or harm him or his pet.
DAVIS: I don`t believe that Roger Stone was trying to intimidate him. I think you`re only seeing one side of those texts. The two of them have had a horribly abusive frenemy relationship for a couple of decades. I`ve seen- -
MELBER: And you`ve been a personal witness to that?
DAVIS: I`ve been a personal witness. In 2010 at my gubernatorial campaign event Randy Credico started heckling me and they got into a fistfight. I`ve taken phone calls from Randy high at 3 o`clock in the morning, screaming at me about Roger Stone. He`s going to testify against him in some unknown investigation.
I think at this point from what we`ve seen from Randy Credico today it`s pretty evident that he just pulled a very serious dirty trick on Roger Stone. He admitted on the stand that he accepted a message to pass along to Assange. So the whole time he`s pretending to be a back-channel and playing Roger and embellishing his role with Assange--
MELBER: Let`s dig into that. This is a very important point. It relates to the charges against Stone and also the public understanding of whether or not, as the Mueller team investigated, there really was some sort of nefarious plot to get inside Intel from WikiLeaks.
Mr. Credico spoke about that, you say today at trial. We also asked him about that here, because as you know, one of the mistakes that Roger appears to have made was to publicly brag that he had a WikiLeaks back- channel.
He brought some of that on himself. This was what Randy told us about that when we pressed. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Do you ever carry messages from Julian Assange about what he might plan to do or the nature of his work to other people anywhere else in the world?
RANDY CREDICO, RADIO HOST: No, absolutely not. I totally deny. Was I the back-channel? No, I was not the back-channel--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He says he was not the back-channel. Your defense on behalf of Roger Stone is that Randy Credico tricked Roger Stone?
DAVIS: Well, first off, my defense is I heard Randy Credico admit to it in my own apartment.
MELBER: What did he say?
DAVIS: In 2017 he told myself and a film producer named David Lugo that he was the back channel. So, I mean by his own accord he was, in a time where it wasn`t as heated as an environment, he was taking credit for it.
MELBER: Do you have any records of that?
DAVIS: I mean David Lugo has gone on the record. He`s potential witness in the case.
MELBER: So you both attest to that. Which again goes to whether beyond a shadow of a doubt - reasonable doubt, whether Mr. Stone is going to face this jury or go to jail potentially, you`re saying that at one point they agreed on this story and that story itself wasn`t true, because he wasn`t really a back-channel of WikiLeaks?
DAVIS: Well, I don`t know that they agreed to the story. Because I think Roger really thought he was talking to maybe or at least trying to contact him. Then nothing ever came from that. But I think that Randy was embellishing his relationship with Assange.
Also evident in this fake picture - this real picture outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy, so you just did that and sent that to Stone to further this story that he`s keeping - I mean, why would Roger have thought that was a serious picture.
MELBER: Do you think that some of this trial relates to people bluffing and aggrandizing themselves into a story and now the story has turned dark?
DAVIS: I think you know in Roger`s defense, I think that you have to understand that he`s a showman. He`s an illusionist. And sometimes when you buy a ticket for the show, you don`t necessarily think that the illusionist sawed a woman in half, you are happy with the show and the performance.
And in the beginning he said he had spoken to Assange. And then he quickly realized that that was an embellishment--
MELBER: So let me press you on that--
DAVIS: --the story hasn`t changed.
MELBER: The final point. You`re saying something that we`ve reported here, which is you have to look at the entire context of Roger Stone`s career as a dirty trickster to try to understand where he fits into all of this. But don`t you think that he still had a legal obligation to end the show when he was speaking to the authorities in Congress to not obstruct?
DAVIS: I think he did. He went there voluntarily. He wasn`t subpoenaed. I think his state of mind was to clear his name. And I don`t think if you`ve been tricked into saying that`s correct or no after 600 questions I don`t think that`s fair.
MELBER: Under stood. I really appreciate you making the time for us and appearing here on THE BEAT as part of this week of the trial. And as I would wish everyone, I wish all of you the best.
DAVIS: Thank you.
MELBER: Thank you, Kristin Davis on "THE BEAT." Coming up, we have a lot more than the show. Donald Trump making plans for the post White House TV show extravaganza, we`ll explain.
MELBER: Do you ever think about life after Donald Trump leaves the White House. Well, apparently so does he.
"The Daily Beast" reports Donald Trump talking to former reality show producer Mark Burnett about a version of the Trump branded "Apprentice" that would come out titled "The Apprentice: White House," filming after he leaves office. It would be politics themed and take advantage of Trump`s status as the former President and a Republican kingmaker.
Of course, when you look back on his entire reality show career there`s plenty of foreshadowing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You think there may be some sabotage from within, find the people that are doing this to you, and get rid of them ruthlessly, viciously? I don`t care how you have to get rid of them, but get rid of them fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by a reality TV guru and innovator, Michael Hirschorn. He created the concept of celebrity reality TV at VH1, thank you. With hits like, "Flavor of Love," "I love the 80s" and "Celebrity Rehab." He is now President and CEO of Ish Entertainment, rights for the Atlantic. And has been critical of aspects of President Trump, fair to say.
MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, ISH ENTERTAINMENT PRESIDENT & CEO: Fair to say. Understatement.
MELBER: What do you make of this plan? The involvement of Burnett makes it sound real.
HIRSCHORN: For sure. Well, I think, I wonder what it could be, because we`re already living through "The Apprentice: White House" reality show. We`re all sort of prisoners in this big reality show experiment that`s happening right now. But I think it`s entirely plausible that they would take a shot at it.
MELBER: You`re saying some people thought that the combination of prison and reality shows was lock-up, but it`s actually 2019.
HIRSCHORN: It`s actually Big Brother 2019. We`re right we`re in the middle of it, we can`t get off the island, we`re stuck here.
MELBER: Well, with that in mind, take a look at a few moments from the reality showization of politics with Trump. Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Mr. President we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you`ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people--
TRUMP: I told you before. I`m very disappointed with the Attorney General. But we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we be worried? Don`t say that.
TRUMP: Otherwise, I`ll say, Tom, you`re fired!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HIRSCHORN: Yes, it`s - it`s sort of terrifying. And as somebody who was a deep in the reality show swamps, I get this kind of prickly feeling in my skin every time I see this that we were part of creating this kind of uncanny merger between reality and reality, and now we`re being forced to live through it. So a lot of us are feeling kind of certain amount of guilt about it.
MELBER: Right. And I could understand that. And many people - Tony Schwartz, a guest in this show as well, who helped create the Trump brand is now dealing with that, although a mind is a great thing to be able to change.
I wonder, though, whether sometimes we take too narrow historical view. It is easy to be distant and smug about whatever is new and not see the larger historical sweep that there was a time when candidates communicated in person and other technologies adjusted them, and other cultures adjusted them.
And for a lot of Americans, reality shows across the spectrum, without ideology are a type of communication. And that`s why so many people are dismissive of Trump`s leadership style, if you want to call it that.
Reading from Omarosa`s book "Unhinged," she says his orbit is populated by people like him, entertainer who say things to get reaction. He cultivate these people, encouraged them to exaggerate that unique part of themselves. Take Donald Trump`s allegedly toxic brand identity out of it, and that description applies to a lot of young people growing up in a social mediated world.
HIRSCHORN: Correct. I think the part that`s scary is when we lose the distinctions between actually occurring reality and the kind of mediated reality that reality shows have propagated. And I think you can see with Ukraine scandal, that when the two kind of smash into each other, really bad things can start to happen.
MELBER: What is the reality dimension of the Ukraine scandal?
HIRSCHORN: Reality show dimension of the Ukraine scandal is that much of it was setup just so the Ukrainian President have a press conference to say what Trump needed him to say so that trump could then turn around and call everything a witch hunt.
MELBER: It didn`t matter whether there was any there, as long as they had enough programming to support the conspiracy theory.
HIRSCHORN: That`s right. And if you can create enough noise - I think you can also see it in the mode of discourse, right? That kind of weird feeling when you are watching discussions like on "The View" today with Donald Trump Jr., one ever answers the question. There`s no conversation. There`s only attack. There`s only someone walking in and going, I didn`t come here to make friends.
MELBER: Well, we`re out of time. But is this real?
HIRSCHORN: I think is deeply heartfelt and I think you know what`s going to happen at the break.
MELBER: Someone gets kicked off the island?
HIRSCHORN: Very possibly.
MELBER: I hope it`s the right person. Michael Hirschorn, classic "BEAT" ending to a discussion.
I want to tell you all something else. There is so much impeachment news lately, we often have more news than there are nights of the week. To paraphrase "The Beetles," "five days a week is not enough to show we care."
So we are back this Sunday night with a new impeachment special with some very special guests. All that will be Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern available to every viewer around the nation if you`re interested.
Now, if you happen to be in New York, we`re announcing right now for the first time that we`re hosting a special event in Manhattan to dive deeper into this historic story. Tickets available now at msnbc.com/impeachmentny of this special event, "The Impeachment of President Trump: A National Debate."
I`ll interview the person in charge of drafting any article of impeachment, Judiciary Chair Nadler, newsworthy discussion that`s two weeks from tonight the evening of November 21sgt with our friends at Cooper Union Downtown - also joined by John Malcolm, who testified as a GOP witness before the same committee and an all-star panel of our legal experts.
If it`s anything like our past events, tickets will go soon, so go right now to msnbc.com/impeachmentny for yours. We`ll be right back.
MELBER: We are back with that 2020 newsbreak late tonight. Michael Bloomberg`s campaign confirming that effectively they will be filing for the Democratic primary race in Alabama. Sending staffers there to get signatures to qualify, there is Friday deadline, one of the very first in the whole primary process in the country.
If Michael Bloomberg jumps I this, it could scramble a lot. In fact, we are getting new reaction tonight from Senator Elizabeth Warren who says, "Welcome to the race Mike Bloomberg. If you`re looking for policy plans, that will make a huge difference for working people policy and which are very popular, start here. And she has a calculator for billionaires.
Bernie Sanders also getting in on it, saying, "The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared." Now there has been a lot of talk about why and when Bloomberg might get in and a speculation whether this reflects a weakness from other potential frontrunners in his lane. Like Joe Biden. He also trashed and attacked Donald Trump vociferously in a much noted speech at the democratic convention.
We`re going to keep an eye on this as well as impeachment and a lot of other stories when I come back tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. But don`t go anywhere "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END