tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC April 27, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
>> we begin tonight with breaking news. the breaking news on this friday evening, a new mueller related story and this calls into question the performance of rod rosenstein. a new story hot off the presses of the "washington post." it accounts for a time when mr. rosenstein was trying to save his job. you may remember "the new york times" account about him wearing a wire. you see the headline in the post. i can land the plane. how he tried to mollify trump and protect mueller and save his job. the "post" is reporting is that rosenstein tried to resign with
dignity. he began by one account, getting teary eyed as he had a call with president trump. right before that, you'll see it here. he had a meeting with trump's chief of staff and he tried to diffuse the volatile situation that he may have talked about wiretapping the president. he told the president, look, i'm on your team. this is something that we should know bob mueller never did. it is something that jeff sessions never did. the post reporting that rosenstein used his access to trump to try to mount his own career survival. with trump's legal liability. saying it would be resolved and he told the president, he would make sure that trump would be treat fairly. the "post" quoting sources who describe this, and i'm reading here from the account, he said -- rosenstein said i give the investigation credibility, quote, and this is the quote people are talking about, i can land the plane. the bottom line is, donald trump
according to the washington post left that meeting telling folks that he felt that donald trump felt, that rod rosenstein was on his team. now, this story tonight is more than palace intrigue. this is a story about how the entire mueller probe was wrapped up. about whether rod rosenstein was the right person for the job, or according to another person who is quoted in this story, someone you may have heard of, matt miller says he was too tweak stand up to trump. one more point before the breaking news, rod rosenstein according to the account, rod rosenstein tried to assure trump near the end of the road that he was not a quote, target, of the probe. if you've heard about the mueller report, it deeply investigates and probes the criminal evidence against donald trump on a range obstruction cases, meaning as a normal citizen, he would be considered something in the area of a potential target. rosenstein does deny aspects of the story. he said in a new statement, that's how you know it is a big story.
rosenstein is speaking on the record. rosenstein said in a new statement, that he just told trump what he tells everyone. he would try to resolve this probe fairly and expeditiously. but telling people who are the subject of the probe that you are not a target would seem to go beyond what mueller had done and what he wants. it also raises fresh questions about the big mysteries in the case. maybe donald trump wasn't feeling that much heat to sit down for an interview with mueller if he thought rod rosenstein was his employee and on his team. let met get to our guest, i'm joining by jean rossi and katie kay from the bbc, and matt miller who is not only a doj official under the holder obama administration, what does it all mean? >> i think there is no way to look at the action by the deputy attorney general other than
inappropriate and not ethical. i don't know how many times we've talked in this network about how the fundamental rule at doj, when it comes to investigations involving the white house, you do not talk with the president or anyone involved with the president. anyone who works for him about, the investigations. there's a bright line. here you have the attorney general not only talking about the investigation but giving the president assurances about the investigation. what makes it so much worse is that he is giving them in the context of a time where he is pleading and begging for his job. trying to hang on to his job. if you're the president, you know you have the deputy attorney general at your mercy. the deputy attorney general is making assurances. i have the story you were referring to. i think he's been a weak deputy attorney general all along. and there are times many our history this would be fine. >> weak? weak, matt? you say weak, do you mean weak as a view? some people are strong, some are weak? or do you mean being inappropriate in his oversight of the probe? >> weak in that he allows the
president first and then allowing bill barr to push him into doing things he should not do. i'll give you examples. obviously writing the comey memo. he knew the president was firing comey for other reasons. letting himself be used as the pretext inappropriately to fire jim comey. when he should have stood up for the department. he was weak when he asked the inspector general to investigate a trumped up charge by the president that there was no evidence to substantiate, adding fuel to the claims that republicans on the hill, the president were making about some conspiracy and coup at doj. and he was weak when he allowed his name to be used with the attorney general in that letter the attorney general sent. and in that press conference. to mislead the american public about the results of the mueller report. we need him to be strong. yes, he protected it to some extent. he was always making these little compromises. i'll take these little steps.
and that is not what you are supposed to do. you say mr. president, this is wrong. if you want to fire me, you can fire me and you'll pay the political consequences for it. >> gene, are you concerned as matt. >> matt miller hit the nail on the head. the sad thing is there is a huge cloud over the department of justice and the rule of law is now tainted. here's my main complaint against rod rosenstein. and i was very complimentary of him when he was appointed and i worked with him when he was a u.s. attorney. he is telling a potential target, not just a subject, a potential target, because the president is an unindicted conspirator in new york. he's telling the president he's going to land the plane for him. this goes back to what michael cohen said. they talk in code. was rod rosenstein basically
telling the president, i've got your back? by saying that, and you hit a key issue. by telling the president that, did that embolden the president of the united states to basically give his finger to robert mueller and give 37 i do not recalls on written answers and say i'm not going to testify under oath? >> do you see those as linked? we want to be clear here. >> yes, mr. rosenstein has every right in his capacity as mueller's boss to state his views or to disagree with mueller on investigative calls. that would be on the record. if they ever disagreed, as folks may recall on the reporting on the rules, congress would be notified about that. do you view this as more inappropriate because it has the appearance, not of a good faith disagreement about the probe but a private, what lawyers would call a side bar
between the guy running the probe and the guy who is the potential target of the probe which undercuts mueller's actual litigation positions. >> what i'm saying is it is highly inappropriate for the head of the department of justice to meet with the president and to discuss the progress of an investigation, essentially, did he that. and talk about the president's status. can you imagine if president barack obama were in the same shoes as donald trump and loretta lynch or her deputy got on a plane and basically begged for their job back? the republicans would have impeachment hearings for god's sakes. >> landing the plane tonight is a pretty controversial phrase. take a listen to someone else who used the same phrase as he auditioned for his job.
>> has anyone in the white house seen any of the report? >> i'm not going to, i'm landing the plane right now. and i've been willing to discuss my letters and the process going forward. >> yeah. did it make you wonder whether there was a memo going around doj, the way to satisfy the president is to use this phrase, landing the plane. i have a lot of stories. one is why rod rosenstein is so desperate to keep his job? he comes across in this story as almost groveling to try to keep his position as deputy attorney general. and questions congress had want to ask. what do you mean by phrase, landing the plane? especially in the context you're in a conversation that you have said you're on the president's team. and why are you having this conversation six months before mueller actually submits his report? does that suggest that you had already formed your conclusions
about the report? that you could have that report be favorable to the president? that question is very worth asking rosenstein. and it is so ironic there we have rosenstein last night in new york, slamming the obama administration and praising president trump for the rule of law when we know about president trump asked him to change his version of what happened over the firing of jim comey. >> like the good reporter you are, you have all of the details. this was rod rosenstein making other waves last night. >> some of the nonsense that passes for breaking news today would not be worth the paper it was printed on if anybody brothered to print news these days. these days. one set of questions i get from reporters is, is it true that you got angry and emotional a few times over the past two years? heck, yes. didn't you some critical
decisions about that russia administration were made before i got there. they chose to not publicize the full story about hackers and social media trolls and how they relate to russia's strategy to undermine america. >> yeah. it was a news worthy speech because there was rod rosenstein being so defiant and in several instances, a little bit doing what we're hearing him having done in this post report. which is speaking in a way that he knows he will curry, talking about in the rules of evidence the rules don't apply. that's rich considering they have accounted for several thousand incidents of the president not actually telling the truth. it happens in trump's world that people seem desperate to curry
favor with him. almost to the degree they seem afraid of him and the impact he can have on their lives. >> i wonder if you can walk us through this. when i talk to viewers sometimes, people say why is everyone so desperate to hold on to these jobs for a little while longer? i've dwelt the legal details. but others are sort of juicy. rosenstein allegedly telling other white house staff, not the president. look, i'll resign if i need to over the alleged wire. but i don't want to be fired by a tweet. i don't want to go out with a tweet. you may regular, rosenstein, a big fan of cypress hill saying, basically, i ain't going out like that. why would someone care whether they go out with a tweet.
rather than doing right thing and judging whether they do it or not. >> i thought when rod rosenstein was being pressured by the white house, first comey firing, then all the times the president was attacking the investigation, when he's talked to them about it privately. he should have that, i am not going to do that. we don't conduct spying operations here. we're conducting lawfully predicated investigations. if the president wanted to fire him, that would improve rosenstein's reputation. he would have been shown like elliott richardson like if watergate, that did he the right
thing and stood up to a president. and i think his legacy will be better because of it. >> i think you put it very intelligent. >> we've reported on some of that. i don't think most reasonable law enforcement experts, legal experts, and people who follow the news, frankly, blame jim comey for the way trump fired him. a man who had security because he walked around serving his country. whatever they think of mr. comey's tenure, viewed that as a reflection of trump will not comey. why would that apply to the excellent summation? >> right. the twitter argument. that he clearly was referring in this reporting to jim comey and the way he was fired. the whole way through, this
keeping trump happy and yet at the same time acting to try to protect the special counsel and the investigation and not have to fire bob mueller. a lot of us thought there were points before and against the handling of the affair. between last night and today's reporting in the "washington post," i think it gives a slightly different interpretation. and matt suggesting that he's picked up on this all the way along. >> which is what? >> the way he handled himself. he was desperate to keep donald trump happy above all. to the extent he puts himself in what must be a certainly precarious position saying i'm on your team. and having a conversation that he should not have been having if he was an independent deputy attorney general with the president, talking about him being a subject. having the conversation he had,
is clearly inappropriate. >> very well put. i want to land the plane of this conversation with you. if you will. i don't mean it in the obstruction sense of the word. i want to close with the part of this that seems so unnecessary. we've been very careful to point out in our coverage, while part one of the mueller report shows great problems in our system and terrible judgment, it doesn't show according to mueller, chargeable criminal offenses. and part two is ultimately, if you follow the constitution, congress's judgment to make. so far, six days out, the mueller report, excuse me, eight days out of the mueller report, they're not exactly racing to immediately remove the president. given all that, can you explain, gene, why with that arguably good news for the white house, there was all these other efforts to put the thumb on the scale to overdo it? to mischaracterize, from barr to
rosenstein, why do all that when as i just fairly reported, this is a reasonable case why it was not that bad to begin with. to say nothing with what they've so eloquently stated. >> i can say that very easily. if donald trump's last name were smith, and he was a private citizen, based on the conduct alleged in volume ii of that report, he would have been indicted on campaign violations and also, obstruction of justice. and i agree volume i doesn't have conspiracy. volume 2 is a statement about the conduct of the president of the united states. i've said this before. volume ii is like the movie script for godfather four.
>> god father four. yet to be produced in your view. >> yes. >> as a film. >> yes. >> do you have a, what is the best version of a godfather movie in england? >> i think we just have to throw brexit in at some point. we have our own dramas going on. i think the critical thing is where this goes with democrats, with congress, how they manage the process of subpoenaing the white house and whether the white house is in some way going to cooperate and america gets to hear more of what was behind this investigation. and the big issue, the russian medding is still going on. that's the overriding concern. >> right. and whether over time, the doj is a place that looks more like 2.0.
one was trying to defend the president's firing, which he later admitted was false. rod 2.0 was appointing mueller. then rod 3.0 was saying we're not going to be extorted. we're up to 4 or 5.0. unlike apple products, rod's later iterations get worse, not better. what does barr look like with a president who thinks he's getting away with these things? thank you for being on "the beat" this friday evening. >> thank you. appreciate it. now, let me tell what you we have coming up. we speak live to a member of the judiciary and landing the plane as well as what happens if donald trump's aides continue to defy congress. and then i hope you'll stay with me, chambers, six members on beat beat talking about the
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mueller probe, was privately secretly back chaneling to trump assuring him he was not a target of the probe and leaving him with the impression with rosenstein was on trump's team. what will congress do about this information? i'm joined right now by a member of the judiciary committee. thank you for joining me. your reaction to this news? >> this is obviously very explosive reporting. rod rosenstein, a lot of us wondered why he didn't recuse himself initially, because he was a witness in the jim comey firing. they thought it was odd that he didn't. now i think we have a better understanding. here is someone trying to please the pre, trying to reassure the subject, if not the target, the subject of an investigation. completely inappropriate and i think it is an example again of the power of the president to really corrupt these department of justice officials who take an over. we saw what happened when he refused to save could that. i think matt moou is right.
i think rosenstein turns out to be a weak person. he wasn't able to stand up to the president, if this reporting is true. that's very disappointing. it raises lots of questions about the decisions he made. first to stand with the attorney general at a press conference. where he observed him. misrepresenting facts to the american people with the report. he added his name to the letter, the four-page summary, which misled the american beam the special counsel's conclusions. so it raises a lot of questions about what was shared with the president. what promises were made to the president. what did he say to convince the president he was on the president's team. i wish he had, i'll on the team of the people of this country. i cannot discuss an ongoing investigation with you. he didn't do that. you have to wonder why was he so desperate to keep his job rather than to stand up to the president and maintain the independence of his position and the department of justice. >> i think we can put up on the
screen for a demonstration what you mentioned. it was just eight days ago. it may feel like ancient history. the press conference there between barr and rosenstein was a presentation to the american public. and we're looking here on our screen at rosenstein during the presser. there was a lot of commentary about this being his final chapter. some saying he looked pain, like a hostage. he spoke about this last night and addressed it and has said what was he supposed to do? do you think it is important to your congressional issues in the house to get to the bottom of how mueller was overseen? whether there was undue pressure? or do you view this as ancillary or in the rear view of your probes? >> oh, no. this isn't ancillary at all. this goes to the central
question of whether or not the department of justice supervision by rod rosenstein in particular, in any way, shaped this investigation. shaped the conclusions that mr. mueller drew or shaped the collection of any evidence. i think as a result of this reporting, we have more questions, not less. and it gets back to the central issue. congress has a responsibility to follow the facts wherever they lead us. to get the full report for mr. mueller. to hear from all the witnesses who contributed to evidence contained in that report so we can make an informed decision about the next steps. for the president to block or ill teed congressional oversight, we'll have to litigate some of this but the committee is determined to get to the facts. no one in this country is above the law including the president. we'll do whatever is necessary to get testimony under oath from witnesses so we can make decisions fully informed. >> as you mentioned, there was this account of being
desperation. that rosenstein was trying to clean up what had been reported out in the "new york times," as you mentioned, the prospect of the 25th amendment and the prospect of wearing a wire, which he did not do. there is no report that he did that. it turned out from our reporting, he is not the only longstanding official who thought donald trump's attempts to cultivate when i am so appropriate, that he considered defying him and not even talking to him. or wiretapping or taping or recording him in some way. preet bharara who was ultimately dismissed confirmed that to me in his own separate case. take a look. >> we actually considered, and it sounds not as crazy as it did back then, now we know about michael cohen, according to the president, and omarosa. we considered it. and we have competing -- >> you considered what? >> taping the president. >> you considered recording the president, if you had called him
back? >> yeah. their what does it tell that you so many sceniced and i should say nonpartisan officials were considering those measures? >> well, it reveals the president was directing people to do things they knew were either unethical, improper or maybe illegal. he was fortunate most of the time they didn't do it and that's how he was saved. the idea that they felt a need to record him says something about what they believed about the president's instructions. that they weren't appropriate. we need people to stand up in those moments and defend the rule of law. defend the independence of the department of justice. if it's true that reporting is incredibly disappointing. >> and do you view as a time question, yes or no, the likelihood the house will have impeachment hearings? yes, it's likely or no, the unlikely? >> we'll have hearings immediately that will help us
answer the question about whether or not we should consider impeachment. we'll have a series of hearings and bring in witnesses. interestingly, they're not 12 angry democrats. most of the evidence contained in that special counsel report comes from the president's own administration officials or former officials. so i think it is important we their context of the testimony, under oath. >> well, sir, not to make light of it but you read the footnotes of the mueller report and it is like a cross between a maga rally and a cpac panel. >> if it weren't so serious and the consequences weren't so grave, if it weren't such an attack on the rule of law and our constitution, it would be funny but it's not. we'll approach it in a very serious way. we have a lot of evidence collection to do. we need to see the full report. we need to see all the supporting materials and ander to from these witnesses so the
american people can understand exactly what happened of the. >> understood. the way you approach it. damming evidence is not third hand accounts. it is that people who were in the room with him and largely politically with him, thanks so much for joining us tonight. >> my pleasure. thank you for having me. >> definitely. appreciate that. we have a lot more in this show, including the great jennifer ruben from the "washington post" explaining her column that's making waves and why she says there are still important methods to held to trump administration accountable. and end this i keep mentioning it, a group that has sold 40 million albums worldwide. wu-tang clan on the roof of 30 rock on the roof with me when we come back later this hour. our.t.
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and we caught them. we caught them. >> trump also slamming his own lawyer accident don mcgahn. democrats demanding far more records. it corroborated that donald trump according to his own aides and evidence at the time, asked his counsel don mcgahn to oust bob mueller. >> i never told don mcgahn to fire mueller. if i wanted to fire mueller, i would have done it myself. it is very simple. we had 18 people that were trump haters. that includes mr. mueller. he was a trump hater. >> mueller did not actually say that. what he reported was that mcgahn said it under oath. now, these attacks are part of the wider strategy. two trump associates telling "new york times," donald trump thinks the only way to protect himself from impeachment is to attack and undermine not only
mueller but his own white house counsel don mcgahn. i am pleased to bring back jennifer, a conservative columnist for the "washington post." she's writing, trump is cynically defying the law by refusing to work with congress to get to the truthful which he claims exonerates him. let's start there. >> well, it was only, what? a year ago. no. it was last week that donald trump was saying, he's been exonerated. completely exonerate. now of course, he's claiming there is a coup. we went from him saying mueller has done a fine job and he accepted the report to this. the problem with this is that the context of that second volume of the mueller report makes out a very clear case, in my view, of obstruction. unlike the barr/rosenstein spin, mueller didn't say he was refraining from making that call because there was insufficient evidence. he very clearly said, he was
refraining from making that call because it was congress' job to do. and this is why the president is now freaking out. this is why he is trying to prevent mcgahn from testifying. this is why in another context, he is having his treasury secretary defy congress's right to get his tax returns and they are stone walling, stone walling, stone walling. you sat in the watergate hearings and you know that was one of the basis for which richard nixon would be impeached before resigned. his noncooperation with congress. a president has the right like any other citizen to raise legitimate legal defenses and objections. for what trump is doing, there is no legitimate argument. don mcgahn spend over 30 hours with the special counsel on mr. mueller. so whatever executive privilege they had was waived. more than 30 hours ago. likewise, the president keeps talking about the conversation. that again waived the privilege.
so there is no basis by which he can legitimately keep mcgahn from testifying. and frankly, i don't think mcgahn should listen. he doesn't work for him anymore. he can go into congress and testify to whatever he likes. and he should. because otherwise, he is in trouble. this is one of the difficulties we're running into. trump still gets people to do his bidding. to not tell the truthful he is still getting his treasury secretary to not turn over tax returns when the statute clearly says they shall provide it to the ways and means committee. so i think congress will have to put on their collective thinking caps and look at this obstructionist behavior in order to preserve the legitimacy of congress as a co-equal branch, the legitimacy of the doj itself.
i think we are now in uncharted territory. we'll see if congress is able to get a contempt proceeding. we are now coming a real face-off. >> you lay it out there so well. as you said, they will take contempt power seriously. some of the battles are ahead and they're not just about mueller. thank you for joining me on a friday night. up ahead, if "the beat," it is the wu-tang clan. we're talking about the new project, the future of hip hop and some politics. up ahead.
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time for a special takeover edition of fallback. joining me now, six members of the legendary wu-tang clan. you've heard of them because they've sold over 40 million albums worldwide, and recently had a district named after them in the home town of staten island. the new project is a documentary of mikes and men. it looks at their old stomping ground around the city. ♪ i grew up on the crime side ♪ the black, red, yellow, brown, white all rocking with us ♪ >> they're also back on tour right now celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut album. one of my favorite albums of all
time in any genre. enter the wu-tang 36 chambers. which of course went platinum. why are they called wu-tang clan? >> the name of the group. where did that come from? >> it represents a style of rhyming. and clan means family. >> let me say, i will so excited to welcome all of you here. thank you for being here, wu-tang clan. we're going to get to some of your fallbacks. gladys knight. let's talk about the good old days. she said it. you said it. what does this project mean to you and your colleagues? >> to look back on our past and see where we are today. this documentary is very nostalgic, very reflective.
i think it is a great tribute. a lot of people don't get a chance to be talked about, documented until after they die. we're living and we get a chance to see it and our children get to learn about the struggles we went through and the music we created that took us out of that struggle. >> when you look around, what do they need to fall back on? >> it is this food is messed up. all the gmo food. like, they making it, like everything is cloned nowadays. so i don't know what to eat. i'm looking at the watermelons. don't eat the seeds. no black seeds. banana was like this big. i ain't never seen bananas like that. >> i like to fallback is this gun violence stuff. this gun stuff is out of control. you know, senseless people. black men in the hood, we are getting shot in record numbers right now. so if i want to say something about that.
>> to the atf on that. >> pharmaceutical markets. which don't specialize in health and healing people. only keeping you sedated and drugged up. which leads to your demise in the end anyway. >> i personally that, there is a little war going on in the hip hop culture. like a young head, old head type of thing. i think the young heads should fall back with the old head business. one day you're going to be right here, bro. >> if you're lucky, you get to be an old head. >> you might be an old head. we've got to coin that term and make more, it got to mean more now. like old head is an objective to make it to now. >> do you think what you are calling your young heads, do you think they're coming into success too quick? and they don't necessarily have all the leg work and time reflect that maybe you had coming up?
>> sort of. >> we don't know the road they took to get there. i think right now -- >> they're coming in 16 and 17. they're coming in when the money was created. >> yes. they have the easy platform. we was in 15 passenger vans. doing the leg work. going to the radio, doing colleges. really, really on it. then it was like, you can say whatever. >> i think that islam phobia, better fall back on that. people, if you pay attention, the word islam means peace. how do you have a phobia against peace? if you go back and you look at the synagogues. that's where the people come to pray and worship. how do you shoot up a place like that where the people are most vulnerable? you look at these churches down in sri lanka. this is a place where a tsunami hit and many people, from all
forms of life, now this is a place of worship. i don't care if you build yourself, you know, a straw hut for worship. it is then destroy that and destroy the people inside. you need to fall back on that. >> let's take a look at something you said on election day 2016. >> i'm not going to, you know, hire a painter to cook my dinner. you know what i mean? i'm going to hire a chef. even though he knows -- to me, hillary is the chef for our country. >> we had about two years of the donald trump presidency. were you right? what do you think? >> america is a country that's about freedom, justice, equality for the people.
if there was a country that wants us to grow and to be the best that we can and every man to have and we pledge allegiance to the flag -- if this is that kind of country, right? hillary clinton would have been a president for us during that time, during that election. if america is a corporation and just a big company, yeah, then donald trump is a good guy to run it. >> exactly. he's a business man. >> do we want our society to be wrong like a for profit corporation or something that includes everyone. >> for the long time it's better that it includes everybody. when food is genetically modified, there is no chance for -- no chance for that wild
flower to grow something new. that becomes even more prosperous. it's cookie cut. it's now every day. it's so controlled, right? it's so controlled that the option of randomism doesn't happen. if you don't have a random, why focus on yourself as a random? think about that for a minute. >> you don't know what the y chromosome is. the point is that we, it's a real country for the people. i took a pledge when i was a kid. you took it and he took it, he took it. our president had to take it. it was part of our schooling. it said that this is one nation under god, indivisible. that means we can't be divided. you can't call him latin american or asian american.
it's indivisible. if you are dealing way company and corporation, we have departments and everything that divides everybody. that's the hustle. i don't care who is the president. my community has not changed much. >> that's right. >> chicago has not changed much in our communities. no matter who is the president, bro. there is still violence and drugs and poverty. it's still the same promise that it's going to be something different and it has not changed. >> exactly. >> for us, we have to do what we have to do on our own. you know what i mean? these were excellent fall backs. i'm not just saying that as a fan. i want to give tanks to wu-tang clan. >> we're not done.
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thanks for joining me on a show we were especially excited about. i'm ari melber. >> how do you feel that so many people think that steven avery is innocent? >> it's emotional. they made him look like he was a nice person. >> what's happening is wrong. >> the evidence is beyond overwhelming. steven avery is guilty. >> i'm innocent. >> the story gripped the nation, in the series, "making a murderer." >> so many americans have heard about it. >> it's being heard around the world. >> steven avery and his nephew convicted of murder in the