Barr’s false claims TRANSCRIPT: 3/6/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Jamil Smith, Christina Bellantoni, Dan Abrams, Joyce Vance, Meyer, Jadakiss, Eric Garcetti


the crew on the Grand Princess was exposed on two different – two

different outings.


And we know the coronavirus manifested among the previous passengers.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We have been listening here to that briefing, and

we will bring you more of it as we need to, if there are news developments

out of it.


You are watching the THE BEAT with Ari Melber.


And let me tell you some of the stories we`re tracking on this Friday



Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders gearing up for another multistate primary



Then, the news we were just listening to, people on board that very cruise

ship, which is right here in California, testing positive for the

coronavirus, as mentioned, more on that later in the show.


President Trump, meanwhile, comparing his government response to

coronavirus to the Ukraine plot that got him impeached. Did not expect that

common to happen. We have more on that later.


Also, a federal judge rebuking Attorney General Barr for distorting an

investigation that resulted in convictions for multiple Trump aides. That

is a huge development. We`re going to get into that as well.


But, right now, we begin with the big story.


The Democratic nomination for who will take on President Trump really hangs

in the balance now. Today is the first full day this has been a two-person

race. It`s also the last Friday before another primary day that could

potentially fortify Joe Biden`s lead as he tries to consolidate the party.


As always around here, we start with these numbers, Biden now leading with

over 620 delegates to Sanders` 553, which means they`re just about 70

delegates apart. Now, when that is the margin, a coming day, call it a

mini-Tuesday, that awards 352 delegates is by any measure a very big deal.


In fact, what`s coming on Tuesday, when everyone in politics has their eye

on tonight could hammer home Joe Biden`s lead or it could disrupt things

again and make them even closer.


Voters in six different states will weigh in Tuesday. Now, Sanders had won

four of them in 2016. But there are clues that Biden`s momentum is

continuing their.


Take Michigan. Sanders` win over Clinton, there was a defining moment in

2016. She also went on to lose that state in the general election. But

let`s be clear. If Bernie Sanders argument is that he can do better against

Trump in a state like Michigan, well, that argument may be running into

some turbulence.


Some state polls show Sanders now trailing Biden by six points there, as

“The New York Times” report Sanders has far failed to match his 2016

strength across the – quote – “white working-class northern part of the

state this year,” which may have also impacted him, those kind of

shortcomings, on Super Tuesday, when so much changed in just a few days.


But there was a time when everyone agreed Bernie Sanders was the front-

runner and the attacks were coming at him. That was really within the last

two weeks. Right now, things are changing and he`s the one going after

Biden`s record.





long time. So have I. And I think people would want to take a look at those





MELBER: Take a look at the records. Sanders is arguing that this narrow

race now is the time for Democrats to pause, to listen, to dig into policy

substance and not rush to just anoint the latest candidate who has



And let me tell you, we always try to call it straight here. Let me tell

you exactly what the strategy is. One, Sanders knows parts of this

Democratic Party are coalescing around Biden, for the perception and the

history of him being a uniting leader.


Anything that is too negative or too nasty by Sanders may only reinforce

calls to keep the unity going and get Sanders pushed out.


But, second, in all fairness, Bernie Sanders knows what really many

Democrats know. There was a reason so many people in the party spent so

many months searching for, yes, alternatives to the most famous candidate

in the race, Joe Biden, looking at Mayor Pete, looking at Senators

Klobuchar and Warren, eying Michael Bloomberg for a hot minute.


Sanders is trying to remind voters, especially we think younger ones, that

it`s Joe Biden`s records, his policies, his history, his leadership that is

part of why there was all of that time looking, that not everyone in this

party is in line with Joe Biden.




SANDERS: Joe Biden and I have very strong different positions in terms of

how we reacted to NAFTA. I vigorously opposed these agreements. Joe Biden

supported those agreements.


I have consistently led the effort to protect Social Security. Biden has

been on the floor of the Senate in years past calling for cuts to Social



I have a lifetime of voting record in support of a woman`s right to control

her own body. On this issue, Joe Biden repeatedly voted for the Hyde



Today, thank God, it is relatively easy to be a champion of gay rights. But

that was not the case 25 years ago. Joe Biden was not one of them.




MELBER: Sanders also holding a rally tonight in Detroit trying to drive all

those points home.


Meanwhile, Biden tapping some of his newest high-profile supporters, former

rival Amy Klobuchar, to make her Midwestern appeal part of a campaign stop

in Michigan. That`s today.


Now, the other difference Tuesday is a race without Bloomberg or Warren.

And even if that`s, say, one out of 10 voters, that can make all the

difference, given how close this delegate fight is right now.


Warren not immediately endorsing, like some rivals who have left the race,

but in her first post-campaign interview with Rachel last night, she was

often even-handed and fair about these candidates, but, at times, she went

out of her way to tout Joe Biden`s character, which is notable considering

that they don`t agree on her signature economic policies.




SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): He is exactly – at least this is my view. He

is exactly who he says he is. He`s a decent guy.


And I mean that in the good of decency. My whole life has been about

working families, and more about how government should be there to be on

their side. I believe that the vice president has the same goal. We may

have come at this from different directions and may continue to come at it

from different directions.


But I don`t have any doubt about the sincerity of the goals.




MELBER: Let`s get right to it.


Former Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is here, and Los Angeles

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is supporting Joe Biden.


Thanks to both of you.




MELBER: Because we have a strong surrogate, we`re going to get to you here

in Los Angeles.


But before I turn it over, Michael, as a big picture person looking at this

primary without any dog in the fight…


STEELE: Right.


MELBER: … what do you think of this line Sanders is walking, hey, there`s

still time to fight, and I promise it`ll be on substance?


STEELE: No, there is always still time to fight. But the substance part , I

think, is where he`s missing the point.


Look, my observation, Ari – and you and I have chatted about this before -

- in looking at this campaign for the past year, the base Democratic voter,

the folks who are now coalescing around Biden, have always been about one

thing. Who can defeat Trump?


Even when they were, as you noted earlier, straying eyes over at Buttigieg

and others, that was the central thing. Who can beat Trump?


And this idea of policy and ideology and philosophy, they`re not up for

that fight. They don`t want that fight. The vast majority of voters don`t

want that fight.


What they want to do is, get me off crazy. Who can get me off crazy and

move the country back into a workable space, so we can then have those

fights? And that`s what this is about.




MELBER: Are you saying that Joe and Bernie are both – they`re going to

class on campus, and Bernie thinks it`s philosophy class, and Joe thinks

it`s political science, and you think he`s going to have the higher



STEELE: I absolutely do. I absolutely do.


I think Joe has tapped into that, which is what`s made it so much easier

for people to gravitate to him. You just heard Elizabeth Warren talking

about what will be an idea for voters, his character, because they see the

character of the guy he`s running against.


That wasn`t a conversation about the nuances of health care or public

policy. That was about how this man`s character is going to be one of many

irons in the fire to help defeat Donald Trump.


So, I get the policy angle. And I know Bernie Sanders wants to go back and

talk about the records and stuff. But voters are past records. They don`t

care about records right now.


They want to know, can you move me off of this spot right now, because this

is not a happy spot for me?


MELBER: Yes, it makes a lot of sense, straight-up politics.


Let me bring in the mayor, who`s here with me in Los Angeles.


Great to be in your city, sir.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-CA): Great to have you here. Thanks.


MELBER: We try to talk to everyone and let viewers and voters make up their

own minds. I know it`s old-fashioned.






GARCETTI: … on that.




MELBER: You`re here for Biden in the top of our show.


We have had Michael Moore on, who`s been here for Warren. Take a listen to

Michael Moore`s pitch, which is not only for Sanders, but a little bit

against your candidate, so I can get the virtue of your response.




MELBER: Let`s take a listen.




MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: They`re not thinking tonight about

who can stop Donald Trump.


They`re thinking about who could stop Bernie Sanders. And it`s sad to see

that. And it`s sad for anybody to be thinking about voting for Biden

because they`re afraid.


They`re – voting out of fear – if you`re afraid of Trump now…


MELBER: Right.


MOORE: … if that`s what really is behind this, that if you go – if you

vote for a candidate, that we take fear into the general election, running

on fear, we will lose to Trump if we will vote on fear.




MELBER: The political allegation there is that people in the party don`t

actually love Joe Biden, he alleges. That`s why they were looking for

something else, and they`re rushing to him from fear.


Your response?


GARCETTI: Couldn`t disagree more.


Anybody who has ever met Joe, I don`t think he scares people. He makes

people feel great. This is about his inherent goodness and his

effectiveness. People have seen that delivered. I bear testament to that

here in this city. He helped us raise the minimum wage, make community

college free, was out there on climate agreements before Paris.


And this is a man who knows how to deliver, and he is all about hope. He is

all about goodness. And character is on the ballot. It`s going to be the

most important thing.


We like presidents. We don`t just look at what they`re going to do. In

fact, we look at that at the beginning. But at the end, we vote on who they

are and how they make us feel.


Joe is clear. He is loved. Nobody has a heart like him. And people backed

him for that reason.


MELBER: Does it trouble you that Bernie Sanders has spent so long outside

the party, and, we have heard from some people, working, they feel, against

the party?


GARCETTI: No, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Senator Sanders. I

love what he`s doing. We`re going to need his voters and Joe`s voters to

come together in the fall.


There`s no question about that. And the progressive policies that both of

them embody are going to be critical, as well as Senator Warren and the

rest of the field. But Senator Warren is right. I mean, this is a man who

people know and who is good.


And, at the end of the day, that`s what America is looking for, as well as

somebody who can relate to those firefighters and those carpenters and

people who felt the sting of this economic system right now.




GARCETTI: I think Joe actually embodies that as much as anybody.


MELBER: Makes sense. And I appreciate your perspective on that.


Michael, I want to show the map real quick, because, as you look ahead,

this is where it all goes. It`s about delegates and which states are going

to weigh in first.


Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, these were mostly Clinton. And we can see

that as you go to March 17. Does it matter that the numbers are uniform,

but the reactions are not? By which I mean – and you know this was the

case in other primaries as well – if Joe Biden were down 100 delegates,

there`d be a lot of people saying, play it out. Let`s see what happens.


STEELE: Right?


MELBER: If Sanders drops behind 100, 125, 150 delegates, I don`t think the

party is going to give him the same reception.


STEELE: They`re not, because there`s still this whole what Sanders brings

to the table conversation.


It`s like, OK, socialism, Democratic socialism, how do we deal with that?

Everyone`s thinking down ballot. Some would like to see the Senate be in

play. So those are variables there. But the numbers are the numbers.


The campaigns both have to ask themselves, where do we win next? When you

look at the map you just showed, the question for Bernie Sanders is, where

do you win? Florida, Michigan, Arizona? And that`s the challenge. And

that`s going to be the problem as this consolidation has begun.


The South is off the board. You`re not winning Alabama. You`re not winning

Mississippi. That`s off the board. So where do you go from there? The black

vote is consolidated, and that African-American vote around the country is



And that`s a significant part of your base vote. So it becomes a real

numbers game, for sure. And it favors Joe Biden right now.


MELBER: Really striking hearing that from you. And that`s why we always

watch and follow the numbers, because nothing else is going to get you an

understanding of the race.


Thank you, Michael.


STEELE: You got it, buddy.


MELBER: I want to bring in Jamil Smith, a senior writer for “Rolling

Stone,” writing today about Elizabeth Warren`s impact on the race and

pushing the remaining candidates to back some of their plans, and Christina

Bellantoni, a professor at USC`s Annenberg School for Communications,

former editor for “The Los Angeles Times.”


And let me play – last night, on “Rachel Maddow,” we heard Elizabeth

Warren, and she discussed specifically the calls, the interest we have seen

from so many about gender diversity in the White House. Take a listen.




RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”: I think there`s a there`s a

feeling that your campaign ending is very specific to you. And it also

feels a little bit like a death knell in terms of the prospects of having a

woman for president in our lifetimes.


WARREN: Oh, God, please, no, that can`t be right. It`s just going to be a

little longer before we`re able to have a woman in the White House.


And – but it doesn`t mean it`s not going to happen. It doesn`t mean it`s

not going to happen soon. We will know that we can have a woman in the

White House when we finally elect a woman to the White House.




MELBER: Let`s start there, Christina, and how that hangs over the battle

between these two people.


CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, USC ANNENBERG: It does hang over the battle.


I mean, there are a lot of people who are grieving right now, seeing Warren

be the last strong contender for this race. You had that delegate graphic

that did show Tulsi Gabbard has two delegates.


MELBER: She does.




BELLANTONI: … have to point that out, but not a serious contender and not

going to be in the next Democratic debate.


So that`s a moment. And it was always kind of hard to understand why she

wasn`t doing better and how that wasn`t about her gender.


Just from now, I`m an observer of politics and of media, far more than a

participant, since I`m not reporting on it actively, and I`m teaching

college students about this.


And this is one of the questions they ask all the time. Why wasn`t she

included in certain polls? Why aren`t her speeches carried live when she`s

saying something, yet you go to Bloomberg, who, for all purposes, didn`t

actually have any more chance than she did?


MELBER: You have been writing about this. What do you think is important

understand, both Warren and – again, playing it forward, she has a role to

play if she wants in this two-person contest.


JAMIL SMITH, “ROLLING STONE”: Well, playing it forward, I think it`s

important that we obsess a little bit less about who she endorses and think

about how her plans, her very voluminous plans, are used going forward,

both by Biden and Sanders.


I think that there are a lot of holes to fill in both campaigns. I think

that certainly Biden can improve his climate plan by looking at hers. I

think Sanders could improve his rhetoric on gun violence by looking at how

she spoken about it.


I think both men could certainly improve how they speak about marginalized

communities by look at how – that she`s done it. She advocated getting rid

of the filibuster. Neither of them do. I think that that`s essential if the

Democrats hope to get anything done with – either of them are elected



There are a lot of things that Elizabeth Warren has suggested and done that

I think that they should potentially think about adopting. And I think it`s

more important, fundamentally, if we hope to actually have a woman be in

the White House, men who get elected to that White House have to

essentially prepare the country to accept female leadership.


It`s on us to make sure that the country gets ready for that.


BELLANTONI: I totally agree with that.


I will also say it miffs me a little bit that there`s all this pressure on

Senator Warren, when there`s a lot of people who have dropped out of this

race and haven`t endorsed. You don`t see Cory Booker under the same

pressure, Kamala Harris really not under the same pressure.


People are asking, but it`s not – just because she recently dropped out

doesn`t mean she has to make a decision. And I think she`s been really

clear out on the campaign trail that she believes Biden does not represent

the kind of fundamental change she was talking about.


MELBER: Is it a testament to her influence and power that people are more

interested in her endorsement than Cory Booker? Now we`re talking politics,

so I appreciate you`re making the crosscutting point about pressures.


But we are hearing in our reporting that a lot more people around both of

the remaining candidates are thinking about if and what Warren would stand

for in an endorsement than, say, Cory Booker. No shade.


BELLANTONI: And also many millions of people have cast votes for her. So

that`s a little different, more tangible than somebody who dropped out

before. Both things are correct.


But she will play a big role in this party going forward, whether she`s

just a strong Democrat in the Senate, whether they`re in the majority or

minority, or whether she is actually in somebody`s administration.


And we know that, whatever it is, she`s going to say what she thinks and



MELBER: Looming over this is who can fight Trump, speaking of fighting.


Take a listen briefly here to Sanders and Trump on, how do you actually

take care of people? How do you deal with public benefits and so-called

entitlements for the elderly?


Take a listen.




SANDERS: Donald Trump, in his budget, called for massive cuts to Medicaid,

Medicare, and cuts to Social Security.


MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS: But if you – if you don`t cut something in

entitlements, you will never really deal with the debt.



we`re also going to have growth like you have never had before.




SMITH: Well, I mean, just baseline, I don`t think you really you can

believe anything Donald Trump says.


But if you are talking about cutting, Medicare or Social Security, I mean,

that`s something that fundamentally has just never worked and been popular

in America.


So – and, of course, you have his staff, Kellyanne Conway, walking that

back today, saying that he actually didn`t say it. We actually could hear

it. And he did say it.


I think it`s good politics for both Sanders and Biden to start attacking

Trump and less attacking each other. I think we need to see how they`re

going to actually go after Trump.


If you`re talking about, hey, Trump being the priority, how are you going

to actually beat him?


MELBER: And that goes to the mood of the remaining Democratic voters.


At the start is very different from when people feel like too left, and how

are you doing this in a way that is consistent with voters` ambition and

the Democratic side, obviously, to beat Trump?


We`re running over on time. I want to thank both Jamil and Christina. Nice

to see you both in person.


Coming up, this other big story of federal judge rebuking Bill Barr and

demanding to see the unredacted Mueller report before making another big

decision that could affect the DOJ.


Donald Trump, meanwhile, comparing his government`s coronavirus response to

the Ukraine plot that got him impeached. We have that bizarre story.


And we`re going to speak to the reporter who has just broken a very

important piece of investigative journalism about alleged failures in

testing for this virus.


We also have a very special announcement about a series with voters who are

talking to us about the race ahead. We have had a lot of fun talking out in

the streets with people. We`re going continue to that. So, I have more on

that tonight.


And, as if that wasn`t enough, “Fallback Friday.”


Stay with us on THE BEAT.




MELBER: Not to fallout over the Trump administration`s efforts to stop Bob

Mueller`s findings about Donald Trump and his aides from really ever fully

reaching the public.


A federal judge rebuking Trump Attorney General Bill Barr for distorting

the facts and misleading the public in how he handled the Mueller report.

The DOJ just responding moments ago, saying this court`s assertions were,

they believe, contrary to the facts, and DOJ stands by the work that they

have done.


But this was a huge deal. Remember, when Mueller finished the Russia probe,

it was one of the most effective special counsel investigations in modern

history. It indicted U.S. adversaries in Russia and it ferreted out

criminals in the highest level of Donald Trump`s orbit.


That probe, of course, is why Donald Trump`s campaign manager and one of

his longest serving lawyers are still in prison right now. And yet the

leader of the very Justice Department which won those victories infamously

rushed out misleading information at the end of the probe, before the

Mueller report came out.


You probably remember the moment.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A major victory for President Trump.


The summary now from the attorney general, who said Mueller and his team

found no collusion, no conspiracy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The summary of the Mueller report was released. The

report no collusion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Concluding that investigators found no evidence that

President Trump or his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia.




MELBER: That was some of the initial reporting about Barr`s letter, not the

actual Mueller report.


It was, in a way, exactly what Barr wanted, but not everyone took his word

for that day. In fact, we were rushing to our newsroom that very weekend to

report specifically on the facts and the difference between what Barr was

asserting in his letter and what one could actually find if and when we got

the underlying Mueller report.




CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: There are so many legitimate questions about the

attorney general`s summary of Mueller`s report, including whether or not

Barr`s account amounts to something of a bit of a whitewash.


MELBER: This is four pages. There`s not a single full sentence in here

that`s quoted the Mueller report.


The House is sort of getting muscled out in an attempt by the new attorney

general to say, I`m going to issue my own conclusion on that. And he`s

doing that with these four partial sentences.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: No one outside of the Justice Department or

the special counsel team has seen Mueller`s report, so we`re relying on the

Barr summary for all of our information.




MELBER: That was our journalistic reporting about the facts.


And now these facts are catching up with Bill Barr, because his DOJ is

actually fighting to keep some parts of the Mueller report still secret,

those redacted parts.


And let`s be clear. In normal times, judges give deference to a government

request like this. But in the new order we`re reporting on for you tonight,

a federal judge ruling the Barr`s own conduct and deception has burned up a

lot of that usual deference.


Again, reading from this judge`s ruling that there is an obvious – quote -

- “lack of candor” and inconsistencies in Barr`s handling of the Mueller

report that, frankly, puts his – quote – “credibility” in doubt, also

finding the Barr had the fundamentally illicit intent to undermine his own

Justice Department`s work and push a Trump-friendly one-sided narrative, at

odds with the Mueller report and what so many DOJ staff found in their work

inside that probe.


This is a legal battle over getting the rest of the facts. The judge is

saying that he may ultimately force more facts out because of this

suspicion that Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse

to favor Trump.


It says the idea that if you spin the facts in advance before the public

ever saw Mueller`s conclusions, maybe they wouldn`t matter that much when

they actually come out.


So what`s next? Well, first, this is part of the system working. You need

to know that right now. However slowly, it shows that even a very powerful

attorney general can be held accountable in public by independent courts.


Second, this judge is demanding the DOJ turn over the full unredacted copy

of the report for his review, which could lead to another ruling against

potentially the Trump Justice Department.


So where do we go from here?


Well, we`re going to get into all of it when we`re back in just 30 seconds

with Dan Abrams and Joyce Vance.




MELBER: We`re back with the big story of a judge rebuking Attorney General

Barr, who has long been accused of acting more like a personal lawyer to

the president than the attorney general.


This has gone on even after the Mueller report, which is what`s in the news

tonight. Remember the alleged meddling in Roger Stone`s case, which four

prosecutors resigned over and 2,000 former DOJ officials blatantly calling

for Barr to step down over these issues.


We bring in now Dan Abrams, who is chief legal analyst at ABC. He has a new

book entitled “John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father`s Fight for

Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial.” And former federal prosecutor

Joyce Vance.


Great to see both you.


Joyce, we walked through both the day one reaction to Barr`s letter, as

well as this new ruling from a judge, to remind everyone just how

potentially significant that was.


Your reaction?


JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I remember, Ari, sitting in the studio

that weekend reading the attorney general`s four-page characterization of

the Mueller report. And even as we read just that raw summary, we began to

realize that something wasn`t quite right.


And over time, we learned what it was. We learned that the attorney general

had woven in a safety net of half-truths and outright lies in an effort to

protect the president, because the Mueller report, when we finally saw the

redacted version, didn`t give the president exoneration.


Instead, it concluded that there were multiple instances of obstruction of

justice. And the Mueller report, I think, specifically, and it`s worth

remembering, said that if more evidence had been available, if it had not

been hidden from investigators, that they might have viewed this

substantive allegations in a different light.


So this is so egregious, that now we have a federal judge saying that he

cannot trust the attorney general, the American people cannot trust the

attorney general, to be truthful in this regard in a court case.


MELBER: Really striking.


I want to go to Dan Abrams with something that I know you know how to do,

which is be a legal correspondent. Can you just walk us through the legal

reasons that it is actually quite rare for any administration to end up in

this position, because the type of material redacted often does get

deference by judges?




I mean, we`re talking about a Freedom of Information Act request here.

They`re basically saying, members of the media and others saying, we have a

right to see the unredacted Mueller report as a matter of law.


But what makes this so striking, as you`re discussing, is that the judge

isn`t just saying, look, I want to review this and I want to decide. The

judge is saying, I don`t trust the attorney general, because of what we

have seen so far.


And, as a result, I`m going to need to review even the things you have told

me there are reasons you have redacted. But I don`t trust you, so I`m going

to have to review it myself.


Now, to be clear, this is a judge appointed by President Bush, before that,

to a position by President Reagan, and, after that, the first President

Bush. This is not a Democratically appointed judge. I hate doing that

stuff, with the Republican- vs. the Democrat-appointed judge.


MELBER: No, I feel you.


ABRAMS: But it`s an important point to say, this is not someone who`s in

the tank for Democrats. And he`s furious. He`s furious.


We see a lot of times prosecutors get rebuked by judges, right? They say,

this should have been turned over to the defense or you guys messed up

here. But to say you simply cannot trust the attorney general of the United

States – and there`s a line that you didn`t have before – “grave concerns

about the objectivity of the process.”




ABRAMS: Basically saying….


MELBER: I think we have that.


ABRAMS: Yes. Oh, you did. All right.


So, that I…




MELBER: We will put it up right here, go ahead, and read it again.


ABRAMS: Oh, yes.


MELBER: You were saying: “grave concerns about the objectivity. The core

conclusion must conduct this private review of the unredacted Mueller



Go ahead, Dan.




No, I mean, he is saying, the judge is saying, I`m concerned you

politicized the process.


There is nothing more insulting to the attorney general of the United

States, not to say you`re wrong, not to say I`m not sure I can trust you,

but you know what? I think you may have politicized the process. That`s



MELBER: Joyce?


VANCE: I agree with Dan.


And it`s important to note that DOJ engaged isn`t a lot of litigation about

turning over information that it claims is protected by FOIA, the Freedom

of Information Act. And, routinely, what happens is, the government

provides the court with an affidavit. It`s called a Vaughn list. It lists

all of the information that`s been redacted.


And it explains what the legal basis is for those redactions. And,

typically, there`s a presumption that the government is entitled to do

that. And judges don`t look behind it.


It`s very unusual for a judge to say, government, show me the original



And so what you and Dan have been talking about, this notion that the court

concluded that the attorney general lacks candor, that is just so

startling. It does so much to denigrate, not just Bill Barr, but the entire

Justice Department.


It`s unfair to the line lawyers in the – the line lawyers in the

department, who work every day on these cases, but it is where Bill Barr

has brought us very deliberately with his efforts to protect the president.




MELBER: Go ahead, Dan.


ABRAMS: Yes, just real quick, now let`s see what`s behind the blackened-out

words, right?


Because there`s going to be an answer to this question. We`re going to

know. One way or another, I think we`re going to find out what was blacked

out, what was redacted? And if it was done to protect the president, that

is going to be a big deal.




And we`re saying all this in the context of Bill Barr having pretty much a

total condemnation of his conduct by ex-officials, as well as people

resigning over what they see as his meddling. So, how much more can he



The facts matter. The courts matter. It`s why it`s great having two experts

like yourselves with us to understand it.


Joyce, as always, I thank you.


Dan Abrams, you have a new book. Jadakiss has a new album. And we`re going

to get into how those two connect later in the show. So thank you as well,



ABRAMS: Thank you.


MELBER: Up ahead – yes, sir.


THE BEAT is hearing from new voters on the Sanders vs. Biden debate. We`re

going to get into that.


But, first, this coronavirus, threat and critics of how Trump – Donald

Trump is handling it, we have a special guest on that.


Stay with us.




MELBER: Turn to the latest on the coronavirus outbreak, bombshell reporting

revealing a – quote – “shockingly sluggish response” from this Trump

administration, 14 recorded deaths in the U.S., 260 total cases estimated.


And, more, we`re learning officials airlifting tests to 3,500 people who

are aboard a cruise ship right off the coast here in California, 21 people

testing positive for the virus.


Days ago, Trump official said there were – quote – “around a million

tests” that will be performed by the end of this week, presumably tonight,

but we`re learning that didn`t happen.


New reporting from “The Atlantic” showing the U.S. is only tested about –

wait for it – 1,900 people or so. That is actually under 1 percent of what

was pledged by the Trump administration, the 1,900 figure substantially

lower than – let`s be clear – many other developed nations.


Donald Trump today did visit CDC headquarters, but then used that

appearance to make misleading claims about how testing kits are available

in the total number, and then brought up his own impeachment.





have a test. They`re all set. They have them out there.


In addition to that, they`re making millions of more as we speak. As of

right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test – that`s the important

thing – and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect.




MELBER: I`m joined now by Robinson Meyer, who is the author of that

investigative piece in “The Atlantic,” “The Strongest Evidence Yet That

America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing.”


Thank you for being here, a busy time for a lot of people close to this,

including investigative writers like yourself.


What did you find? What do people need to know?


ROBINSON MEYER, “THE ATLANTIC”: Well, hey. Thank you for having me, Ari.


Yes, so what we found is that we could verify only about 1,900 Americans,

patients across the United States, who`ve been tested for coronavirus.

That`s roughly total. Of course, we don`t think our count has fully caught

everyone. But we don`t think the number is many, many more than that, or we

think it`s very unlikely that the number is many, many more than that.


The thing here that is, as you mentioned, is much, much lower than the

Trump administration said they were going to target. They said they would

have a million or a million-a-half tests out by the end of the week. They

have only had about 2,000, despite having weeks to prepare for this



And I think the other thing is that, right now, states can`t – are not at

the place where they could rapidly scale up to a million tests either. So

instead of being able to test 10,000 people a day or 100,000 people a day,

right now, the kind of total national capacity across all these state

public health labs, which the Trump administration says are going to be –

who`s testing for this virus, is like a couple thousand tests.


So it`s not even 10,000 tests.




MELBER: Why does the U.S. lag behind other countries?


MEYER: It`s a complicated question. I don`t think we fully know the answer.


Basically, other countries have accepted the test made by the World Health

Organization. They just accepted it. The U.S. through the FDA and the CDC

tried to make its own test. It distributed that test a few weeks ago. It

realized about two weeks before COVID kind of came up in the news in the

U.S. that those tests were faulty.


It then withdrew them. And now it has redistributed these new tests, but it

started doing that kind of at the tail end of last week. And so only

through this week that they start kind of reaching these state public

health labs, which are now in charge of testing.


MELBER: And do you recommend and do you find the experts you talk to say,

if people feel anything, they should stay home from work? They should go

get tested?


MEYER: I should say I`m not a public health expert. I would say, right now,

the issue is that if you go to your doctor, they probably can`t test you

for the virus.


MELBER: Right.


MEYER: Doctors, like, do not have it in the repertoire. They`re not enough

tests out there to do it.


Right now, they can`t even test all, like, front-line health workers who

are reporting symptoms. But, yes, I mean, right now, the CDC is saying that

if you have symptoms and you think you might have been in contact, a dry

cough, a fever, then you should start to self-isolate.


MELBER: Not enough good answers, but asking the questions is obviously a

part of this and a part of holding government accountable.


So, Robinson Meyer, appreciate joining us – you joining us and the work

you`re doing.


MEYER: Thank you.


MELBER: Another reporter on our side of the fence, Richard Engel, has this

special, “On Assignment: “Outbreak.” That`s Sunday 10:00 p.m. Eastern on

MSNBC. We should mention that as another place to get informed.


Coming up, we dig into new criticism over the Donald Trump campaign`s legal

tactics with Dan Abrams and the one and only Jadakiss.




MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT, and it`s time to fall back.


Joining me from New York, journalist Dan Abrams, and multiplatinum rapper

Jadakiss, who is known for hits like “It`s All About the Benjamins,” “We

Gonna Make it.” He`s collaborated with Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Diddy,

The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Common, Eminem, Kanye West, and was a

founding member of The Lox, with Sheek Louch and Styles P.


Jadakiss has joined us as his new album drops today, “Ignatius.” It`s his

fifth and features stars like John Legend, Pusha T, Rick Ross.


We are also joined by ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams, who also

hosts A&E`s “Live P.D.,” and is, of course, a veteran of MSNBC and Court

TV. And he has a project dropping as well, the new book “John Adams Under



Great to have both you on THE BEAT.


ABRAMS: Good to be here.


JADAKISS, RAPPER: Thanks for having me, yes.


MELBER: I love it.


And, Dan, I will start with you, very familiar, of course, to so many news



Who OR what needs to fall back?


ABRAMS: Frivolous lawsuits against the media.


I`m tired of reading them. I`m tired of rolling my eyes at them, everything

from Devin Nunes to President Trump filing lawsuit now after lawsuit,

President Trump`S team filing another lawsuit today.


And these are mostly frivolous, because, as you know, first, you have to be

able to show it was false. And then, even if it`s false, then you have to

be able to show that they knew or basically should have known it was false.


And I don`t even know that, in the vast majority of these lawsuits, that

they can demonstrate that the things they`re suing over were false in the

first place.


And you know what else? Donald Trump`s never going to testify. And so any

case brought by the Donald J. Trump for President or whatever the

organization is, he`s not going to testify. These cases are not going to

move forward.


And I still have to read through them and talk about them on TV.




MELBER: That`s – yes, that`s one of the journalistic taxes here.


I mean, briefly, Dan, what does it tell you about Donald Trump that he so

relentlessly attacks the justice system, judges, even jurors recently,

which we called out here on the show, and then resorts to the courts as

well, that he wants them to still help him in cases that you`re telling us,

in your expertise, are meritless?


ABRAMS: It`s a political strategy. These are political lawsuits. If you

actually read through the details of them, they`re political statements.


He doesn`t like “The New York Times.” He doesn`t like “The Washington

Post.” He doesn`t like CNN. We know that. And then sort of as proof that

the statements are false, very often, they will cite, well, the president

has said that`s not true, or we have denied that, as if that – oh, oh, if

we`d only known. Then it would have changed everything.


MELBER: Yes. Yes.


ABRAMS: So, you know, I got to say, look, it is – particularly with regard

to Devin Nunes, these are these are expensive lawsuits, right?


Yes, the media organizations, the big ones, can suck it up.




ABRAMS: I wonder where his funding is coming from. Is he doing another

contingency fee basis with these lawyers? I don`t know.


But it is – this is getting a little bit ridiculous, the number of cases

that are being filed. And you know what I say…


MELBER: Yes. I think that`s fair.


ABRAMS: … to the lawyers who are filing some of the most frivolous ones?

Shame on you.


MELBER: Well, there you go.


Jadakiss, I`m curious what`s on your fallback list. Also, as I have asked

other musicians who`ve been around New York, if you have any Trump

memories, you can share them. I know that he used to try to hang out to be

cool in hip-hop.


So, anything on that add your fallback.


JADAKISS: I only bumped into him a few times at the Garden, actually at the

same entrance where they just denied Spike from going in at.


So that`s my only encounter with the Donald, you know?


MELBER: Yes. That`s when you would see him.


JADAKISS: But my fallback is definitely how they`re comparing – how

they`re blaming the coronavirus on the decline of the sale of Corona beers.


I mean, I think that`s crazy.




JADAKISS: It has nothing to with one – it`s apples and oranges.


It just shows you how, when people said it – say something or put some

negativity out there, sometimes it can get hurt something it has nothing to

do with.


MELBER: Yes, that`s a wild story you`re flagging.


I mean, Dan, it speaks to the power of words and branding, I guess.


ABRAMS: Yes. I mean, I will take two viruses to go.


I mean, like I don`t get it. Like, is that when people are fearing, that

somehow there`s actually a virus inside the beer, because it`s called





MELBER: It`s wild, yes.


The numbers, as we showed there, the 38 percent of beer drinkers avoiding

Corona. And then the question, does it hit lime sales as well, Dan?




ABRAMS: Exactly.


Look, it seems like liquor is suffering a lot, right? Because also there`s

this question about whether vodka, people are now talking about using it…




ABRAMS: But it doesn`t work, because it`s only got like 40 percent alcohol.

You can drink it and get drunk and forget about the coronavirus.


JADAKISS: It can`t cleanse your hands.


ABRAMS: But it`s not going to cleanse your hands and prevent you – it`s

not going to work.




MELBER: Dan Abrams making a key point. Enough alcohol to get abbreviated

may not be enough alcohol to sanitize.


ABRAMS: Right.


MELBER: Jadakiss, while I have you here with a new album, a lot of us

remember a lot of your music, songs like “Why,” where you went through all

these big questions, why they got to read your mail, why they stopped

letting people get degrees in jail, why you got to do 85 percent of your

time, why do rappers lie in 85 percent of – go ahead – 85 percent of

their rhymes, right?






MELBER: So, I want to get from you, what were you saying in those lyrics,

and what can we expect from you in this new album?


JADAKISS: Well, with the lyrics from “Why,” it`s just I thought I would ask

the world a bunch of questions that individuals have in common in different

parts of the world. And it seemed to really work.


But this new album, “Ignatius” that is out now on all platforms is a

dedication to my homey, my partner, friend that I lost from colon cancer.

He was a big – very influential in my career.


So I just wanted to do something dedicated to him. And it`s out now. It`s

called “Ignatius.” It`s a great body of work. Check it out.


MELBER: Appreciate that.


We will shout out both works from two people who know their way around New

York and New York media, Jadakiss with the new album, Dan Abrams. Again,

the book is “John Adams Under Fire.” “Ignatius” is out there.


Pick them up, both, and listen to them together. Audio books work too.

There`s the album.




MELBER: Thanks to both of you for being here.


ABRAMS: So many people are going to go hand in hand with those two, for

sure. It`s going to a big thing, listening to his music and reading about

John Adams defending the British soldiers, yes.






MELBER: Hey, if it worked for “Hamilton,” Dan.


JADAKISS: You never know.




MELBER: Thanks to both of you.


JADAKISS: Thank you.


MELBER: All right.


Right, all right, get them both.


And up ahead, we have a very special announcement, what we`re going to do

here on THE BEAT to hear more from you and actual voters – when we come





MELBER: A word about voting before we go tonight.


We have been broadcasting this week from California. This is one of the

states we have come to where there`s been voting, the third, actually. And

we have been able to talk to a lot of you, a lot of viewers and voters,

about this race.


Just think how, a week ago, nobody knew it was going to be where it is now,

two people left, Joe Biden in the lead. And you only get that, you only

have a sense of where people are headed by listening to them, something we

have tried to do a lot this cycle.


And that brings me to something special we want to tell you about that`s

coming up on the show next week.


As mentioned, when you think about what we have learned from voters in New

Hampshire and South Carolina, where we had people say basically, they still

really liked Joe Biden – that was before the voting – we have learned a



Next week, we want to go back in the field to do more of this and speak to

voters, including those considering this new choice between Democratic

socialism advocated by Sanders and the kind of unity centrism that Joe

Biden has been running on.


We`re going to hear from people about some of these big policies and what`s

affecting their lives in the primary. It`s a way to step away from some of

the pundits and go right to the voters.


So, you can see this special on Wednesday.


But I also want you to know, if you`re a BEAT viewer, if you don`t know

where you will be and whether you`re going to be near a TV Wednesday,

please, just go and DVR THE BEAT right now on your remote. Press the home

page, search Melber or THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER, and press DVR this show.


You will get that special that`s coming up and THE BEAT every night you

want to tune in.


That does it for us. Keep it right here on MSNBC.







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