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Trump profiting off Presidency TRANSCRIPT: The Beat W/ Ari Melber, 2/17/20

Guests: Tara Dowdell, David Rohde, Zach Everson, John Flannery, Christina Greer, Vince Warren, Carol Lam

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST:  "THE BEAT" with Ari -- I`m sorry, not Ari Melber -- Ayman Mohyeldin right now, in for Ari.

And they told me it was you. And it just rolls off my tongue, "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER."

So, I`m sorry. It`s my bad.

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST:  It`s a Monday night tradition. So, I totally get it. I`m actually the look-alike. So, they bring me out whenever they want somebody who look likes Ari to fill in for him.

TUR:  I don`t know. I think you got a lot on Ari.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, well, hopefully, he`s not watching.

All right, Katy Tur, thank you so much. Always a pleasure, my friend. Good to speak to you.

Hello there, everyone. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin, in for Ari Melber.

Tonight, a stunning rebuke to Trump`s attorney general from 2,000 DOJ veterans.

Also, new questions for Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg ahead of the next primary battle.

And new signs of activity in the criminal probe into Rudy Giuliani.

But we begin this hour with that backlash against Attorney General Bill Barr after he intervened in the case against Trump associate Roger Stone. More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials are now demanding he resign.

In a signed letter, the former federal prosecutors and other top-ranking DOJ officials write that no one should be -- quote -- "given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the president" and warning, "Governments that use -- excuse me -- that use their power to punish enemies or reward their allies are autocracies."

Now, inside the department, career prosecutors growing increasingly worried about all of this. "The New York Times" reporting that many wondering -- quote -- "whether Trump was undermining the department`s treasured reputation for upholding the law and whether Barr was able or willing to protect it."

Now, as House Democrats grapple with whether to launch new investigations into Trump over his alleged abuse of power, the White House is playing defense.


MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:  I don`t think that it`s impossible to do his job. In fact, I think that Attorney General Barr is doing a great job. I think he has a lot of confidence inside the White House.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT:  The president of the United States has not asked or directed his attorney general privately to do anything in any criminal matter, including Roger Stone.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY":  Policy is different than criminal cases.


MOHYELDIN:  Now, meanwhile, other Trump defenders are trying to say the program -- excuse me -- the problem isn`t with the substance of Trump`s actions; it`s just his use of social media.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Does the president have a right to tweet about a case? Of course. Just because you can sing, though, doesn`t mean you should sing. This is a case where tweeting less would not cause brain damage.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, so, late this afternoon, former Vice President Joe Biden telling my colleague Nicolle Wallace that Barr helped facilitate the greatest abuse of power he has ever seen.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This has been the most -- the greatest abuse of power I have ever seen at the hands of this president, who has no -- no sense of decency or understanding of the Constitution.

And Barr`s facilitating it is beyond my comprehension. No president has ever intimidated a general -- attorney general into abusing power as much as this man has.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, so let`s start with two people who have signed that letter, former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade and former federal prosecutor John Flannery.

Let me begin with you, if I can, Barbara.

First of all, why was it important for you to lend your name to this letter?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, first, I wanted to show support for the four career prosecutors who were involved in this case, filed their sentencing memo recommending sentencing guidelines, and then were overruled the next day by the Department of Justice.

Three of them withdrew from the case. One resigned from the Justice Department. I wanted to show support for them for doing their jobs.

I also wanted to just ask William Barr to step up and be a leader, to lead the department. He has famously said he`s not so concerned about his own reputation, because everybody dies.

Well, he also has a duty to represent the reputation of the Department of Justice. And we hope that, even though everybody dies, the reputation of the Justice Department will endure.

MOHYELDIN:  And, John, same question to you. Why did you feel it was important for you to sign this letter as well?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, I think there`s so many data points on how Barr is not interested in just us, except for Mr. Trump, and that he is his consigliere.

And so I am somewhat less charitable that we could ever hope Barr to reform his ways. I`m not sure we will ever have criminal justice while Barr`s the head of the Department of Justice, because he will do the bidding of the president.

And in this particular case, the one that they`re concerned about is a mirror of what he was just impeached for, because the underlying charge that isn`t discussed enough is the interference in our election by Stone. And the second part is obstructing the investigation by the Intelligence Committee of this interference, and coercing and threatening witnesses, and lying, such that they never got to the answers that the -- we were able to find afterwards.

So this is -- it seems like the president wants to do that in this case and in Flynn to evaporate the allegations of his misconduct by using his power to silence and diminish and perhaps eliminate these allegations.

And I think that the letter was critical, not just to give courage to those in the Justice Department who must emulate the actions of these four prosecutors who resisted the effort to interfere in this sentencing procedure, but in the other ones that will come up.

I mean, what`s going to happen in the Flynn case? What`s going to happen in New York? What`s going to happen in Pittsburgh? This is a critical time.

And we have a -- I think a constitutional crisis, because who would a prosecutor go to above him to correct this? Not Shea, who was Barr`s person, not Barr, not Trump. So they have no recourse, except to resign and call them out on it. So I think that`s the problem right now.

MOHYELDIN:  Barbara, let me get your thoughts on something here, which is, as we have been reporting on this, the four prosecutors involved in the Roger Stone case essentially resigned en masse after this came out that the Department of Justice was withdrawing their sentence recommendation to the court.

Do you get a sense -- and I`m sure you`re probably still in touch with a lot of your former colleagues -- but you have a pulse on the morale within the Department of Justice. Do you think we are at a tipping point for the Department of Justice and its employees under Attorney General Bill Barr?

MCQUADE:  Yes, it`s hard to know. It`s a huge department, 11,000 employees. It`s hard to know what they all feel.

But it reminds me a little bit of what was going on in the George W. Bush administration just before Alberto Gonzales resigned. You may recall that was in relation to the firing of the U.S. attorneys. And you heard a lot of grumbling within and outside the Department of Justice.

And I believe what finally caused Alberto Gonzales to resign was that he felt he could no longer lead effectively. He had lost the confidence of the people within the Justice Department. And so I think that this letter and that kind of dynamic could be something that causes William Barr to resign.

MOHYELDIN:  John, the letter calls for Department of Justice employees to be prepared to report future abuses, refuse to carry out directives inconsistent with their oaths of office and withdraw or publicly resign if necessary.

What message are you trying to send? Do you think that those employees the -- not necessarily all 11,000, but certainly some of the key federal prosecutors at the very highest level of it, would heed that call?

FLANNERY:  I would hope so.

And the kind of person who becomes a prosecutor or goes to the Justice Department really does believe in the law. And there`s nothing like the crises of today to understand that lesson.

And the fact that these four stood up is another example of the patriots that we have in our government who are prepared to take risks and to risk the income to do the right thing. And so I think that this is a message throughout the department.

I think that Barr will sit there planted in his seat as long as Trump wants him there. And I believe their recent Kabuki theater of him finding it impossible to work if Trump is going to tell the world what misconduct they`re perpetrating on the American people was just that, theater, bed theater, reality TV, but of the worst kind, because it`s in defiance of the rule of law and the Constitution and treating all people equally in our justice system, none of which happens with these guys when it comes close to getting reelected, to pursuing their power into the next administration, if they can pull it off.

MOHYELDIN:  All right, Barbara McQuade, thank you very much.

John, we`re going to see you again a little bit later on in the show.


MOHYELDIN:  Let`s bring you in now, Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University.

Great to have both of you with us.

So, I`m curious to get your thoughts, Christina, first of all. When you kind of look at this two-step dance that Donald Trump and William Barr doing together, one hand, William Barr saying like, hey, you know what, I can`t be influenced. That`s what he said during his confirmation here. He takes a great pride in trying to be or project independence from the White House, but at the same time saying, hey, the president`s tweets, they`re making it possible for me to do my job.

What do you think they`re trying -- what`s the message they`re trying to send here?

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  Well, I think the message that the president is sending is that I own everyone, right? I own the Senate, I own the DOJ, and I own the Supreme Court.

We have to remember two things. One, when Senator Kamala Harris was interviewing William Barr during the Senate confirmation hearings, he did a lot of what my grandmother would call obdobbing (ph), right, when she has some very direct questions, and he couldn`t give her a straight answer as to whether or not anyone inside the White House had ever instructed him...

MOHYELDIN:  I believe he said, I`m grappling with your word of suggesting, like not -- missing the point completely.

GREER:  Exactly. Or are you missing the point?


GREER:  And then the second is that the president pushed out Jeff Sessions because he wasn`t enough of a lackey. And we didn`t know that the bar could go any lower -- B-A-R -- and now we`re seeing with this new attorney general that he has essentially pledged his loyalty to the president.

And he has no control over his department. But he is -- as Jeff said, he will not leave until the president is done with him. And we know that the president sort of uses people and then he decides that he`s done with them.

So the whole theater of, oh, I wish I could do my job, but the tweeting, we know that this president uses social media at his own will, and everyone else has to adjust to all the illegal things that he likes to say on social media.

MOHYELDIN:  OK, so to that point about social media, do you buy this argument that people like Kellyanne Conway and Senator Kennedy, some of the president`s defenders, come out and saying, like, hey, he has a right to tweet, he`s tweeting, he`s not -- in her exact words is, the president didn`t say anything to William Barr privately.

And she emphasized that word privately a little bit to kind of say, you know what, if he`s reading the tweets, that`s up to him. That`s not up to the president.


And what`s really interesting is that if you really -- if you listen to how much people are now talking in the administration, they`re talking about rights, the president`s right to do -- he`s tweeting about his right to do whatever the heck he wants, and he`s got a right to tweet.

And rights are not really what`s that issue here. What we`re talking about is, what is appropriate behavior, so that the system can be at least viewed -- pass the laugh test.

Everybody knows that whether or not Barr got a direct message from Donald Trump, he got the message, just like Christina said, before he even got that job. Now, you could not take that job unless you were doing the president`s bidding.

And he did -- he`s pledged fealty to the president, over the United States, over the Department of Justice, over the rule of law. That is 100 percent clear. And there`s no tweeting or mea culpas or crying in your soup on ABC that`s going to change that.

Plus, and it is extraordinary that prosecutors have now called for the current prosecutors to resist. That does not happen. I know a lot of the people that are on that list. These are people who believe in the rule of law, that they understand what makes government work.

And for them to be calling for folks to, yes, if you see something, say something, if you resist, and don`t move forward anything that you think is inconsistent with your duties, and if you can`t do any of those things, then resign, that tells you a lot about what the legal establishment thinks about what this administration is doing to the rule of law.

MOHYELDIN:  You can`t help but wonder if Attorney General Bill Barr is looking at what happened to Jeff Sessions and saying, I don`t want anything -- I don`t want my career, my reputation to...


GREER:  Everyone has their time in the woodshed with this president.


GREER:  Right? Like, we saw how Jeff Sessions couldn`t abdicate fast enough to be at the feet of the president.


GREER:  And we see everyone who`s surrounded by this president is either in prison, going to prison, on trial, or something has gone awry, because the president uses you and then throws you away once he`s gotten what he needs.

MOHYELDIN:  Let me play you guys this clip from "60 Minutes" that kind of debunked a little bit of the conspiracy theories that the president and many of his allies have been essentially propagating for sometime now.

Watch this.


QUESTION:  Are there any links, to your knowledge, between CrowdStrike and anyone in Ukraine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION:  Did CrowdStrike ever send any of the DNC`s computer hardware to Ukraine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. That is -- that is insane. And that is not within the realm of reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Russians are very good at that. It`s these fake stories that they have propagated. And that`s what they do. They do it pretty well. We have to be on guard against them.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, so those are the types of fake stories that Rudy Giuliani is trying to feed to the Department of Justice.

And you think that the attorney general would be like, hey, we`re not going to have any of this. We`re going to stick to the facts.

No, he`s saying, we have an intake process for any information Rudy Giuliani gathers for us in the field to take on board. I mean, why do you think William Barr is even entertaining these conspiracy theories?

GREER:  Because the president of the United States is telling him to do so. That is his friend, and that`s someone who he still thinks can get information on his adversaries.

We know that he is highly paranoid. We know that he doesn`t trust many people. So this is something that he is telling Barr to follow through, whatever scent it is, no matter how ridiculous.

And we know that we have -- we have observed this president for several decades now in the media. So we know his tells, when he repeats things, when he just says, some people say. We know that he can make things up literally out of thin air, but make himself believe it.

So that`s what -- that`s Barr`s charge. And the sad thing is, you have, as Vince was saying, faithful employees who have dedicated themselves to the United States Constitution and the United States public, who then have to work under a man who`s following the bread crumbs of a president and his sort of paranoid fantasies.

MOHYELDIN:  And, Vince, speaking of people who are supposed to be loyal to the Constitution, there are reports that the president is trying to -- or a top aide to the president`s trying to reveal the name of the person who wrote that anonymous op-ed that warned against the president, in the same way that many of the president`s allies have tried to oust or out the whistle-blower in all of the impeachment -- the Ukraine impeachment stuff.

Do you think President Trump is just going through a list of names that he considers are his enemies and going after them?

WARREN:  Yes, I do.


MOHYELDIN:  And what should be done about that?

WARREN:  Well, it`s a -- and it`s a big, long list. And it changes and evolves every day.

If something happens on Twitter or somebody says something the wrong way, he goes after them. And Nixon did that as well. I mean, he was a little bit more stealthy about it than Trump.

Here`s -- here`s, I think, what we need to think. Number one is that any time that we`re in a situation where there is no protection for a whistle- blower that is calling out really bad, problematic, illegal activity, we are in trouble as a democracy.

Any time that we have an attorney general and an establishment that would rather put people`s stuff on blast and prosecute them than to protect them, we`re in trouble.

The other -- any time we have an attorney general that now is reinvestigating a range of things that the Department of Justice had already done, we are an enormous trouble within this country. And it does all come from President Trump`s wishes.

Otherwise, a person with integrity in Barr`s position would have -- would have never taken that job to begin with, and, once confronted with these things, would publicly and ceremoniously resign and say, I totally don`t stand for this.

MOHYELDIN:  All right, Vince Warren, thank you so much.

Christina Greer, we`re going to talk to again in just a little bit. Don`t go too far away. Stick around.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, coming up, federal prosecutors seeking new witnesses as they investigate Rudy Giuliani.

Plus, Michael Bloomberg getting called out by his Democratic rivals for trying to hide behind his TV ads and his money.

And lawmakers demanding answers over taxpayer money going straight into Donald Trump`s pocket.

I`m Ayman Mohyeldin, in for Ari Melber.

And you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, new signs of legal trouble for Rudy Giuliani, because, even as Trump`s DOJ admits it`s taking Rudy`s dirt on Biden, new report suggests the investigation into Rudy himself is now heating up, with "The Washington Post" reporting that federal prosecutors here in New York have been contacting witnesses and looking for additional documents in the Rudy probe since the impeachment trial began wrapping up, including interviewing one witness just last week.

That story came as CNN reports that prosecutors are considering new charges against Giuliani`s associate Lev Parnas relating to a company that paid Rudy half-a-million dollars, not sure for what exactly, all of it setting up a strange dynamic, Trump`s DOJ looking into Rudy`s activities, even though, as his attorney general confirmed last week, the DOJ is also evaluating tips that Rudy is submitting about the Bidens.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE:  The DOJ has the obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant.

We had established an intake process in the field, so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the department. That is true for all information that comes to the department relating to the Ukraine, including anything Mr. Giuliani might provide.


MOHYELDIN:  With me now, former U.S. attorney Carol Lam. And back with us is former federal prosecutor John Fal -- Flannery -- excuse me -- who used to work with Rudy Giuliani.

Carol, let me begin with you.

Do you believe there is new life to the investigation into Rudy? And as that sound bite just suggested there, you had the attorney general saying, hey, we`re willing to take information from Rudy Giuliani, though he does not comment on the fact that he is also part of an investigation.

CAROL LAM, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes, I don`t know that it`s necessarily new life to the investigation. I think Southern District of New York`s U.S. attorney`s office has been doing what they should do.

I think we knew back in October that Rudy Giuliani had gotten $500,000 from the company that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman ran, ironically enough, called Fraud Guarantee.


LAM:  But I think the much more interesting question to me is, why does Bill Barr have to set up -- have to set up this separate intake unit out of the district -- the Western District of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh?

Because although there are times when attorney generals will say, we`re going to use a U.S. attorney`s office to look into something because we don`t want people think there`s a conflict of interest here at main Justice -- John Durham in Connecticut is looking into a lot of the FBI`s activities, for example -- here, you already have a district, the Southern District of New York, that is really looking into these activities in Ukraine, and Parnas and Fruman and Giuliani.

And why move part of this intake information to Pittsburgh? It`s some -- that`s a little troubling to me. And I think a question for Bill Barr would be, why aren`t -- why don`t you have faith in the Southern District of New York to take on both investigations?

MOHYELDIN:  John, "The Washington Post" suggesting that prosecutors took new steps as the impeachment probe was winding down.

Do you think -- or would they have scaled things back during the trial at all?

FLANNERY:  I don`t know why they have been comatose, based on the public reports this period of time.

Those of us who do trial work wonder why, when Rudy waved his hand and said, in this telephone, I have everything that anybody could ever want to know about this, and he came back on or about, I think, December the 8th, and there was a "New York Magazine" article describing him coming back, and he had several phones with him, why aren`t those phones being investigated?

Why haven`t they been seized with a search warrant or whatever was necessary? The problem here is, the Justice Department has an identity crisis. On the one hand, in a battleground state, they set up a transfer of the information that perhaps is the investigation they couldn`t get Zelensky to do in Ukraine, and they`re going to do it here in Pittsburgh.

And at the same time, the fellow that they`re taking this information, who is not just like anybody off the street, is supposedly under investigation in the Southern District of New York, where Rudy Giuliani`s partner is the current U.S. attorney.

And this guy is the lawyer for the president. We have to wonder if Igor and Lev are not going to be the ones end up in the catbird seat when additional charges are brought. And what will happen with Rudy?

And I don`t know that we have any protection against the overweening ambition of the president and Barr to secure reelection. So, we have to watch and see.

Now, I`m a veteran of the Southern District of New York, called the sovereign district of New York, with a history of independence. And I don`t think we know enough to know whether or not they`re under the thumb of Barr, and that this division isn`t a calculation to credit Giuliani for now disclosing what terrible things happened with the Bidens and offsetting whatever prosecution or investigation there might be in New York.

MOHYELDIN:  Let me, Carol, play for you what Trump had to say about Giuliani just last week.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS:  Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine, your personal lawyer? Are you sorry you did that?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Not at all. Rudy was a great crime fighter. You know that maybe better than anybody.

RIVERA: Of course, yes.


MOHYELDIN:  So, how could prosecutors use this information that Trump now admits Rudy was working on his behalf?



Carol, go ahead.

LAM:  Well,  this is just another -- oh, I`m sorry.


MOHYELDIN:  Carol, go ahead.

FLANNERY:  Carol, yes.

LAM:  Yes, this is just another example of how the president doesn`t understand -- I mean, he just doesn`t understand the lines between what people do in their capacity as government employees engaged in public service and what they do for the president personally.

And you can`t conflate those two roles, right? People who are in public service have a duty to something above and beyond the president`s own personal interests. That is just something that the president does not understand.

But that does not excuse his conduct. And where those two conflate, there are going to be problems. So, Bill Barr, his responsibility is to look at those two things separately. He has not persuaded people that he`s he`s able to do that.

MOHYELDIN:  All right, Carol Lam, John Flannery, thank you both for joining us this hour.

FLANNERY:  Thank you.

MOHYELDIN:  Still ahead:  Democrats go on the attack against Michael Bloomberg. Are they scared of his surge?

That when we are back in 30 seconds.



BIDEN:  Michael Bloomberg, with $62 billion, can buy every ad he wants, but he can`t, in fact, wipe away his record on everything from dealing with stop and frisk to his foreign policy assertions and the like.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, so was Joe Biden slamming Michael Bloomberg`s record in an interview with Nicolle Wallace earlier today.

Bloomberg`s Democratic rivals are on -- all sharpening, really, their attacks as he continues to rise in national polls.


BIDEN:  Sixty billion dollars can buy you a lot of advertising. But it can your record.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Bloomberg or anybody else spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to buy an election.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Anyone who defends bank discrimination, and then blames the victims is not someone who should be representing our party.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He needs to go on shows like this, which he hasn`t done. He just can`t hide behind the airwaves. He has to answer questions.


MOHYELDIN:  And now Bloomberg is on the verge of qualifying for Wednesday`s debate. It would be his first. And he will have a lot of questions to answer for.

"The Washington Post" reporting on several lawsuits filed over the years alleging that women were discriminated against at Bloomberg`s company and unearthed comments from 2016 saying that he could "teach anybody, even people in this room -- no offense intended -- to be a farmer."

But we have never seen a spending spree like what Bloomberg is doing with his own money, now surpassing $400 million in ad spending alone, his latest ad, an attack on Bernie Sanders and his supporters, which is going viral today.

All right, joining me now are Democratic strategist and former "Apprentice" contestant Tara Dowdell, and Christina Greer is back with us.

Christina, let me begin with you.

Joe Biden, just one of the few sound bites that we played there for you, Bernie Sanders a little bit, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar.

Does the fact that they are going on the attack against Mike Bloomberg suggest anything to you? If so, what is that?     GREER:  Yes, that they are all worried and scared. Michael Bloomberg got roughly over 4,600 write-in votes in New Hampshire.

We know that he`s not on the ballot in South Carolina, and he`s not part of the caucus debates in Nevada. However, they know that he`s surged. He`s now number two among African-American voters, was a poll that came out last week. And he`s third sort of nationwide of, just in general, voters.

They are worried because he has an infinite amount of money to spend. And those of us who are in New York, first 2001, 2005 and 2009 campaigns, knows that he knows how to craft a message specifically for you, right?

And, so, so many people are trying to do well in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, so that they can raise money so that they can get to Super Tuesday. Michael Bloomberg has already been in Super Tuesday states. He`s already been showing ads to all the different sort of very specific Democratic voters, based on race, age, ethnicity, occupation.

He has he -- unlike the president, he actually has hired some of the best people, and he`s been slowly, but surely getting endorsements of black elites. Whether or not that translates and trickles down to the masses remains to be seen. But he has $62 billion to burn. And so I think that there are a lot of the Democratic candidates who are in the field who`ve been working very hard to try and raise money and get their message out.

And Bloomberg has a severe advantage. That doesn`t mean that he will win the nomination. But we will see if money can beat time in this particular instance.

MOHYELDIN:  Let me ask you really quickly about one of his more controversial policies here in New York, stop and frisk.

He has been able, for at least now, although he`s drawn criticism for it, as Christina was saying, get a bit of a spike in the African-American community, particularly in South Carolina.

How do you explain that? How do you explain it from one vantage point that the African-American community in South Carolina views him in one light, but certainly here in New York, a different light?

TARA DOWDELL, POLITICAL CONSULTANT:  Well, it`s complicated...


DOWDELL:  ... because the African-American community, black community, as has been said by many others, is not a monolith.

We are very different. We`re different depending on what region we`re in. But, also, I attribute a lot this to -- to people who are loosely paying attention. And I don`t mean that as a criticism. I mean, there are people, especially in the black community, who are working two jobs, three jobs, people who are going to school.

So if you weren`t in New York at that time, it was not as acute for you. You might have heard about it, but you probably heard about it loosely, right, because you`re not paying attention. If you`re in South Carolina, if you`re in any of these states, you`re not paying attention to what`s going on in New York.

You`re paying attention to those things that are challenges for you in your own state, right? So, there`s that dynamic, I think, of people not being as familiar with his record. But now this is coming out, and people will get more familiar with this part of his record.

I think, again, to that point about loosely paying attention, I think a lot of people aren`t watching and reading as vociferously as those of us sitting here are. And so I think to sort of assume that people are educated on this issue, when he has blanketed the airwaves, as you stated, with all the positive things that he`s done, when he`s spent so much time highlighting the good parts of his record, he`s not spending all that money highlighting the negative parts of his record, for sure.


MOHYELDIN:  For sure.

DOWDELL:  So, I think that is -- that dynamic too is another issue.

And I think it`s complicated. Look, at the end of the day, all of the candidates running have some explaining to do when it comes to black voters. And so I think a lot of the candidates are harping on Bloomberg, and rightfully so.

But let`s be clear. Amy Klobuchar has some explaining to do. Bernie Sanders, who voted for the 1994 crime bill, has some explaining to do. Joe Biden has some explaining to do. Pete Buttigieg has some explaining to do.

And I don`t think any of them have effectively explained why they made the choices that they made, and properly really talked about how they`re going to rectify that. And they have policies, but how they`re going to concretely, with the courts controlled how they are, with the possibility of Mitch McConnell holding the Senate, what are they going to do to get past those hurdles and to make things right systemically for the African- American community?

GREER:  And I think, going to Tara`s point, because the black community isn`t a monolith, there is no single-issue voter, right?

So, we care about climate change and immigration, education and jobs, et cetera.

However, in the piece that I wrote for The Daily Beast about why I thought black voters were going towards Bloomberg, it`s because it seems as though the one single issue in 2020 for black -- for many black voters, not all, but for many black voters, is to get Donald Trump out of the office.

And so, in a head-to-head matchup, when you ask people, because all of the candidates have somewhat of a problematic record with race relations and black Americans in particular, when you ask, OK, Bloomberg over Pete, people are like, well, I don`t really know Pete, and he seems kind of young.


GREER:  Bloomberg. Bloomberg over Amy. Who is she? We just know something about her time as a prosecutor. Bloomberg.

Bloomberg over Biden. Biden seems like he`s failing. What`s going on?

So, in a head-to-head, it seems like Bloomberg, because he`s flooding the airwaves with just positives, people know about stop and frisk to a certain extent, maybe not the real travesties that happened to New Yorkers. He`s able to frame himself in a way where he`s like, I can beat Trump.

And I think that`s of great import to...


MOHYELDIN:  All right, so let me widen out a little bit and not just focusing on black voters and how they view this.

But there is this question as to whether or not Bloomberg resonates with an average American. He is worth $62 billion. He`s had some disparaging comments, as he just said there, about farmers and others. And there`s all kinds of stuff that`s popping up. There`s all this stuff now involving some of the ways he`s treated women.

Let me play you guys this sound bite from 2016 and what Bloomberg said.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I could teach anybody, even people in this room, so no offense intended, to be a farmer.

You -- it`s a process. So, you dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.

Now comes the information economy. You have to have a different skill set. You have to have a lot more gray matter.


MOHYELDIN:  With everything that has happened in this country over the last couple of years, with the Occupy Wall Street protests, with farm bankruptcies skyrocketing, with all the economic struggles that we have gone through, with the redlining issue, not just African-Americans, but communities -- disenfranchised communities, is Michael Bloomberg struggling to connect at a time where voters want to feel their leaders are fighting for them and not lecturing them?

DOWDELL:  I think it depends, because the Democrat -- just as I said the African-American community isn`t monolithic, neither is the Democratic Party.

In fact, we are extraordinarily heterogeneous. I think that`s what -- you are seeing some of those tensions at play right now. So I think it depends, right?

If you are someone who is struggling, then, yes, you probably would be -- Michael Bloomberg would be less relatable. But if you work for a corporation, and you`re starting to see yourself move up the ladder, then maybe he would be a little bit more relatable.

I mean, I think it really depends on where you fall within the economic spectrum.

GREER:  I think Trump has lowered the bar so much, you can always explain away certain things.

And we always have to remember that Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire not because he sells widgets, but because he understands the media, and he can frame it in a way that I think he can move past this. It`s a news cycle. And I think if he can weather the storm and sort of put out some ads to explain it, he`s fine.

MOHYELDIN:  And we will see what happens on the debate stage as well.

Tara Dowdell, Christina Greer, thank you both very much for joining us this hour.

Ahead, an unexpected phone hearing tomorrow in the Roger Stone case could be linked to his sentencing.

Also, new conflicts of interest emerging for Trump on a wedding he went to and charging the Secret Service.

And a very special guest on the new calls for Attorney General Barr to resign, including his former colleague.


MOHYELDIN:  We`re back with that unprecedented call for Attorney General William Barr to resign, more than 2,000 former DOJ staffers signing a letter on Barr to essentially resign from his post, writing: "His actions in doing the president`s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. Those actions require Mr. Barr to resign."

And now allies of the attorney general are also speaking out. Donald Ayer, a former Barr colleague and deputy attorney general under George H.W. Bush, writes, "Barr must resign," adding; "Given his attacks on the rule of law, it is not too strong to say that Bill Barr is un-American."

Here`s what Ayer said right here on THE BEAT last week.


DONALD AYER, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I don`t think he`s fit for the office, because I think what he`s done is to undertake a campaign essentially to undermine the Department of Justice as it was reformed and as we have all lived with it for the last 45 years.

And it reformed following Watergate.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, joining me now is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and executive editor of, David Rohde, who is writing about William Barr, Trump`s sword and shield, with a focus on critics now wondering if Barr is paving the way for autocracy.

David, great to have you with us here.

So, let me begin by asking you that.

Do you believe, from what you have gathered as a reporter, that everything William Barr has done is undermining our democracy and pushing us towards an autocracy?


I want to think that this interview this week was sort of a cry from Bill Barr that the president was out of control. But it`s not clear yet. And Bill Barr needs to make a more decisive statement about which direction he`s going to go in.

MOHYELDIN:  And why do you think that interview was a cry for help?

ROHDE:  I think to say the president`s tweets are making it impossible for me to do my job, the president`s tweets are making me, Bill Barr, look personally corrupt, is a brave thing for a member...

MOHYELDIN:  So, you thought it was a genuine thought? Yes.

ROHDE:  I know that there`s deeply divided opinion. And I want to give Bill Barr the benefit of the doubt here.

I mean, there`s no way that that interview helped him with Donald Trump. And we have seen how he treats people who defy him. So I think there was a strategy here. Many people say it was just words, and it doesn`t mean much, and he was essentially saying, hey, President Trump, let me do these corrupt things and help your friends. Just don`t make it so public by tweeting about it.

MOHYELDIN:  But it seems, though, he`s still getting involved in the cases in ways that people are saying are troubling, Roger Stone, and even now Michael Flynn, who has admitted to the crimes, he has confessed to the crimes that he was accused of doing.

And now William Barr -- William Barr -- excuse me -- is saying, let`s review this.

ROHDE:  Yes.

And that`s what`s so troubling, is that he`s bringing all these outside prosecutors to review these cases. And it goes back to a decades-old sort of theory that Barr has had -- it`s a very extreme one -- that the president can be in charge of all prosecutions. He can essentially send his enemies to jail and go easy on his friends.

And this is this view of an all-powerful president, and, basically, there`s only two ways to hold a president and check. One is to impeach him, as Congress just did. The other is an election. And that`s it. It`s his executive branch. The president does whatever he wants.

MOHYELDIN:  Let me get your thoughts really quickly on this letter, in terms of how it is being received within the Department of Justice.

Have you gotten any indication as to how it`s being received, whether other current serving members are saying, we needed this?

ROHDE:  I think it puts Barr on edge, because it`s telling people to speak out and resign if more things are happening.

So, Barr feels whatever he`s doing is being watched very closely by people in the department. And as the signatures grow, that`s another troubling sign for the administration and for...


MOHYELDIN:  Let me play you this sound bite from the attorney general back in 1991. Watch what he said back then.

ROHDE:  Yes.


BARR:  The attorney general has very special obligations, unique obligations. He holds in trust the fair and impartial administration of justice.

It`s the attorney general`s responsibility to enforce the law evenhandedly and with integrity.


MOHYELDIN:  It`s almost hard to imagine that is the same guy serving today as the attorney general. Do you think he is no longer a respected nonpartisan attorney general?

ROHDE:  I think that`s what`s happening. And there`s tremendous damage to his personal reputation.

The difference is, he was attorney general under George H.W. Bush. George Bush believed that the presidency had lost power after Watergate and wanted to bring it back, but he would never do the things Donald Trump has done.

And I wonder if Bill Barr, who had this theory about presidents having all this power, is he questioning that theory working for Donald Trump? Seeing how this president handles all this power, is it making Donald (sic) Barr think, hang on a second, there should be some checks and balances here?

MOHYELDIN:  And, with a Republican-controlled Senate, I feel a lot of people feel that our system of checks and balances is probably being tested in a way that we haven`t seen in a long time.

ROHDE:  It`s extraordinary.


David Rohde, thank you so much. Always a pleasure.

ROHDE:  Thank you, Ayman.

MOHYELDIN:  Still ahead, why there`s new talk tonight about profits being steered towards Trump`s D.C. hotel.

Plus, a new twist in the Roger Stone case just days before sentencing.

Stay with us.


MOHYELDIN:  Trying to please the boss, there is one surefire method, book an event at one of his properties.

Last night, senior adviser Stephen Miller got married at Trump`s hotel in D.C. Trump himself attended. Last year, Bill Barr scheduled a party at that very same hotel. Republicans have held multiple fund-raisers at Trump properties as well.

"The Washington Post" recently reported that Trump has been charging Secret Service agents as much as $650 a night, with the agency paying at least $471,000 to Trump`s companies. And the total amount is likely a lot more than that.

Democrats in Congress are now demanding details about how much Trump has charged the Secret Service for staying at his properties. All of this reporting contradicts Eric Trump`s claim that government officials stay at Trump properties practically for free.


ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION:  Any time the government comes and -- if my father travels, people -- they stay at our properties for free.

So everywhere that he goes, if he stays at one of his places, the government actually spends -- meaning it saves a fortune, because if they were to go to a hotel across the street, they`d be charging 500 bucks a night, whereas we charge them like 50 bucks.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, so, as we now know, that is not true.

Joining me now is the journalist Zach Everson, who runs the newsletter "1100 Pennsylvania," which reports on the Trump Hotel in D.C.

Great to have you with us.

Let me first get your thoughts.

Do Trump supporters know that booking at his hotel is a way to curry favor? Do you think that point out there among Republican circles also is known among many of his supporters?

ZACH EVERSON, "1100 PENNSYLVANIA":  Well, they know it can`t hurt. It`s debatable whether or not the president sees a list of who`s going to the hotel, knows which staffers are getting married there.

But there`s there`s no harm in spending some money there.

MOHYELDIN: "The Washington Post" says that the Secret Service charged about $17,000 a month for a cottage at a Trump property.

Do you know if that is standard, by any chance?

EVERSON:  That`s supposedly pretty high for that part of the -- that area, real estate area.

But he only goes to his own properties for his vacations. He goes to Mar-a- Lago. He goes to Bedminster. Here in D.C., if he`s going golfing, it`s his Sterling, Virginia, course.

The only restaurant that we have known that he`s eaten at in D.C. as president has been the steakhouse in his D.C. hotel. So every time he does something for leisure, there`s a possibility that he`s profiting.

MOHYELDIN:  That`s interesting.

This is what Trump said before taking office about how he would keep his businesses separate. Watch this.


TRUMP:  Turning over complete and total control. My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner.

They`re not going to discuss it with me.


MOHYELDIN:  What`s your take on that promise? Do you think the president has fulfilled that and, more importantly, that second bit of, they`re not going to be district messing it with me?

EVERSON:  Not at all. Not at all. And they have basically said as much.

Shortly after -- or shortly before the president was inaugurated, they changed the terms of his trust. It is revocable. It is not blind. He can withdraw money from it at any time. For all we know, he may have just taken 20 bucks out of it right now while we`re chatting.

And Eric has said in interviews, I believe it was down in Uruguay, that, while he doesn`t talk the ins and outs of daily business with his dad, he might bring up their property in Uruguay just because his dad might know a guy down there.

MOHYELDIN:  That`s interesting. Yes, certainly, he talked a lot about some of the other properties as well.

I know that your report that Trump`s D.C. hotel has been supported by 32 GOP senators and government officials from 31 countries, I believe even the government of Kuwait held an event there, a holiday party there at one point.

Isn`t this the kind of swamp draining that Trump said he wanted to execute as president?


I mean, one would imagine that, when you talk about draining the swamp, you`re not setting up a vehicle to allow officials from 31 foreign countries to go ahead and pay you. And we`re not just talking, like, a drink here there for some of these people.

For Kuwait, it was actually newsworthy this week that we found out the embassy was not celebrating its national day at the Trump Hotel. The previous three years, it had celebrated its anniversary there.

And members of Trump`s Cabinet went there to celebrate it with them.

MOHYELDIN:  What was the reason? Did they give a reason why this year they decided not to do it there?

EVERSON:  They didn`t. They`re just having it at the embassy this year.

MOHYELDIN:  All right, Zach Everson, always a pleasure. Thank you very much for joining us.

EVERSON:  Thanks.

MOHYELDIN:  All right, straight ahead, an unusual hearing just called in the Roger Stone case.

And breaking news, brand-new comments just moments ago from former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Stay with us.


MOHYELDIN:  All right, Trump`s former National Security Adviser John Bolton just broke his silence, his first public speech since Trump`s impeachment at Duke University.

Bolton confirmed Ukraine is part of his book and -- quote -- "We will have to see what comes out of the censorship on not testifying." He said the White House went further with him than other officials in telling him that he could not testify.

Bolton criticized Trump for not being tough enough on Iran and Russia. On the infamous Trump-Putin Helinsk -- Helsinki meeting -- excuse me, Bolton said he was willing to put up with a lot. Asked if he was concerned about the attacks on Ambassador Yovanovitch and Colonel Vindman, Bolton said, "I think it`s legitimate to worry about it."

And, tomorrow, a new twist in the Roger Stone case, the judge ordering an unusual telephone hearing, after all four prosecutors withdrew from the case last week in an apparent protest over Bill Barr`s intervention in the case. As of now, Stone`s sentencing is set for Thursday.

That does it for me. You can find me always on "FIRST LOOK" at 5:00 a.m. Eastern.

Ari is back tomorrow night here at 6:00 p.m.