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How comedians led Trump resistance in 2017 Transcript 12/27/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests: Frank Figliuzzi; Aisha Moodie-Mills; Joyce Vance; Bill Kristol

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: December 27, 2017 Guest: Frank Figliuzzi; Aisha Moodie-Mills; Joyce Vance; Bill Kristol

Ari, have you been to Jerusalem?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I have been there several times. Some call it the Promised Land. And from your reporting, Katie, it sounds like there have been some promises made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don`t see them excavating a tunnel underneath the old city. It would be an archaeological dig.

MELBER: I mean, they have done a lot of archaeological things in the old city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to try the word again?

MELBER: No. But I appreciate your invitation.


MELBER: Good night, Katie. Never comes too soon on this toss, but I do love Katie tour.

Now, it might be a holiday week, but there are actually three major developments breaking tonight. We have a pretty special show for you.

Number one, Donald Trump`s legal team now making it official. There are reports that preparing for a public fight with their once trusted adviser, Mike Flynn. Obviously, a potential significant development because the strategy suggests someone is worried about something. And it goes back to a question so many people are asking that only Bob Mueller knows.

The question? What does Mike Flynn know?

Here is "the Washington Post" reports story. Trump`s team planning to attack Flynn`s credibility portray him as quote "liar, seeking only to protect himself."

Another person who a sensibly helped with his strategy is telling the Post, he said it himself. He is a liar. That being a reference, of course, to him pleading guilty in this probe.

Now everyone knows Flynn flipped. That means that he stopped sharing any information about his preparations with the White House team. He has agreed to work with Mueller. That`s what`s going on. We knew that. What makes this so intriguing right now is that even after there was the firing of Flynn, Trump held back on criticizing him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This man has served for many years. He is a general. He is, in my opinion, a very good person.


MELBER: That was story number one.

Then you may remember story number two. Tried out through Trump`s aides and spokespersons and lawyers saying they weren`t concerned. And then after Mike Flynn even signed this agreement which put it on notice. He is cooperating fully. There was to public attack at that time. So this is a change. This "Washington Post" report tells us something.

Meanwhile, another Trump ally calling for Mueller to get out of town. This is Republican congressman Andy Briggs who is not resting on the holiday week and said maybe he knows something because he has used this is the night to put in "USA Today" that Bob Mueller has been careening far beyond the scope of his original charge. And he wants Bob Mueller to recuse himself because he is concerned deeply about the investigation. And then for good measure, to tell you where he stands, he uses Donald Trump`s favorite term, the witch hunt must end.

All that with the new signs that the Russia probe not ending. Mueller`s prosecutors are reportedly questioning RNC staff about the digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign. The report here says they are looking the see if the joint RNC Trump effort was at all related to the Russian trolls and bots aiming to influence the electorate. Now, that is significant.

To be fair, those are questions, not answers. We don`t know whether there was any coordination. But for those at the White House saying this is all wrapping up or finished by Christmas or finished by January, no. There were the two guilty pleas. There were the two indictments. And here you have Bob Mueller propping into a whole new avenue, were the bots colluding with the Trumps.

I`m joined now Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor. Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant FBI director and Aisha Moodie-Mills, a Democratic strategist.

Frank, I start with you as an investigator. Your reaction to that trio of developing stories I just cited.

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: Well, first, as a counter intelligence professional, I`m fascinated by the possibility of overlay go the known Russian government bots and trolls in the social media world with the targeting of certain zip codes and states by the RNC and Trump campaign with their social media and email campaigns, and seeing if there`s a match. Now, that could just be a coincidence if there is a match. That the Russian government is targeting the same states and zip codes as the RNC and Trump campaign, but it could mean some Malaware was inserted somewhere with the thumb drive and either the RNC or the Trump campaign or far more nefariously, that there was some actual coordination.

MELBER: Joyce?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So this is an interesting trio of stories. As a prosecutor, one of the most interesting developments to me is this effort to rebrand Flynn as a liar by the Trump insiders. And one of my favorite arguments, one of the things I most like to explain to a jury in a trial was that as a prosecutor, I never picked the witnesses. The witnesses were selected by the defendant. It was simply my job as a prosecutor to present them. So if in fact General Flynn turns out to be a liar, he is a liar who was selected by this President to play a key role in his campaign. And that`s the witness that this President has brought to bob Mueller. I think that puts all of that in a very different light.

[18:05:02] MELBER: Well. And in court, there is what you say and there`s what you know. And Mike Flynn is a liar. I mean, I will give the Trump team credit. They are saying they want to expand this and accuse him of lying about everything. He is a liar about at least one thing which is he, by his own admission and by the FBI investigation, lied to the FBI about his efforts to undermine sanctions, and the underlying question being why was he so quick to want to undermine sanctions against Russia? Was it part of the quit-pro quo? Why did he want to hide that from authorities?

Walk us through, Joyce, how that compares to what he knows, right. Because if he knows things about other people that create a trail or can be proven, it doesn`t matter so much if he is a liar if he knows where the money is or where the bots are or who might have had exposure to them.

VANCE: Sure. That`s exactly right. The key phrase is can be proven. You know, Flynn was brought to heal by Mueller because they could prove the original lie. Now for everything that he talks about, his testimony or information he gives the investigators going forward, they will have to match it up against documentary proof. But if he knows where the money is, if he knows dates and places that people met and discuss certain issues, investigators will then be able to back that up with a paper trail. Whether it is cell phone, whether it is check stubs. But they will be able to buttress his testimony. And so yes, he will be a liar. He will be convicted of lying. That doesn`t mean he can`t be believe when there`s documentary evidence to support a chain of events he can detail.

MELBER: And so much of this, Aisha, goes back to Mike Flynn. We don`t know everything that Barack Obama and he Donald Trump talked about in their oval office meeting. If you had a tape of that, I would listen to it more than once. I would love to hear the two of them quietly talking.

But if you think about New Year`s resolutions. If Donald Trump wants to have less criminal exposure, his first new year`s resolution would have to be, listen to Barack more. Because while Barack may have said - President Obama may have said many things, the one that leaked out was don`t hire Mike Flynn and put him in power. It is bad for America, but it will also be bad for you. Let`s think that through. And I want you add as context after listening to Sally Yates, acting attorney general saying the biggest scandal she had to deal with and march to the White House and make very unusual intervention was over mike Flynn`s underlying conduct.


SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The first thing we did was to explain to Mr. Gahn the underlying conduct that general Flynn had engaged in was problematic in of itself. I remember that Mr, Gahn asked me whether or not General Flynn should be fired and I told him that that really wasn`t our call. That was up to them but that we were giving them this information so that they could take action.


AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, A DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And the President completely brush that had off for some time. It took about 18 days or so, was it, before Mike Flynn actually resigned.

I want to go back to something that was just said, though. Like isn`t this Trump being the pot that calls the kettle black? Like he is a known and proven liar. And we can`t forget the fact that he is trying to have this, you know, defense strategy right now, which is just a public PR swirl, attacking the man who he said was such a good man. This person who he actually wanted the FBI director Comey to not investigate and to ease up on. Someone who he has trusted, who he brought him into the White House against Sally Yates, President Obama, everybody else saying this is a bad move. And all of a sudden we are supposed to believe that he is just this liar and this horrible person?

I think that, you know, this is another opportunity for us to be reminded of who the President is and who he surrounds himself with and who his choice of character is. And for that to be direct reflection on him that we need over constantly be talking about.

MELBER: And Joyce, then you see, again, there so much noise. And I got to say, sometimes, you know, when we do shows over the holiday break, it can be slower. That`s not what it feels like tonight. I have a bunch more stories later in the hour to get to. But the other big part of this with all this noise, for whatever reason is happening right now, Mike Flynn`s brother could have asked for a pardon two weeks ago, could have asked for a pardon before Christmas. For whatever reason, the news breaking today.

I will read, Mr. President, I personally believe pardon is due to General Flynn given the apparent and obvious illegitimacy of the manner of the so- called crimes, who pleaded guilty to where extracted from him. I ask for quick action on this. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Joyce, you will note, of course, the Trumpian exclamation point there. Always out of place, always bizarre. But putting aside the punctuation, what do you make of Mike Flynn`s family choosing this moment to go ask publicly for a pardon?

VANCE: This is a pretty bizarre development. And we know just how bizarre it was because the tweet was quickly removed. One assumes that General Flynn`s lawyers reached out to the brother and said take that down immediately. It has all sorts of red flags.

[18:10:04] MELBER: Frank, final thought.

FIGLIUZZI: Final thought, I will choose Mike Flynn. Look, we had as a national security adviser a foreign agent. Just let that sink in. So, you know, that was Trump`s selection. He was warned about it. As we used to say I the FBI, you don`t get Sunday school teachers as informance.

MELBER: I feel you. I have to interject. That`s not proven. I mean, you are asserting that. He hasn`t copped to that.

FIGLIUZZI: No. Yes - no. But he has agreed. He has pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his foreign, his registration form.

MELBER: Right. And he said that he disclosed after the fact that he was working as a foreign agent previously. But I think if I understood you right, are you saying he was a foreign agent while he was national security adviser?

FIGLIUZZI: I`m saying that he is the Trump selected as his national security adviser, someone who was a foreign agent and then has pled guilty to lying about it.

MELBER: Which in itself as we say in court, bonkers. Go on.

FIGLIUZZI: So my point is, there`s no ideal witness but he is telling what he knows. And as has been said earlier, everything will be verified that Flynn provides to Mueller. And that will win the day. Everyone is going to be painted as a liar that`s accusing Trump of anything, including the deputy director of the FBI, the Mueller team, and over a dozen women who are claiming that he sexually harassed them. So that`s the strategy. And that`s what we are going to see moving forward.

MELBER: I appreciate all the expertise, Frank.

And Aisha, Joyce, I want to ask you about Ken Starr in all this so stay with me ahead.

This other piece of evidence on why the GOP attacks on Mueller are coordinated. Yes, we are going to dig into what Ken Starr is up to.

And former President Obama speaking out. This is his first big interview since leaving the White House with comments that can only be applied to Donald Trump.

And then, as I mentioned, something important, I have a Special Report tonight on Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and how he has let authoritarians use and abuse his platform.

That`s not all, though. We will have some fun later. New reporting on what Dave Chappell was going through when he gave that iconic address right after the election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I didn`t know that Donald Trump was going to win the election. I did suspect it. It seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls, and yet, I know the whites.



[18:15:37] MELBER: And now back with the developing news on these very different and new messages we are hearing as critics come out of the wood work tonight.

Take Ken Starr. He was a Republican independent counsel who led the whitewater probe into Bill Clinton which he expanded from a financial probe down many other avenues which led to a narrow partisan vote that everyone remembers on impeachment.

Starr was famous for his very partisan record. A constant extreme of leaks out of his office which ultimately led to his own aide being indicted. A lot of criticism for that in contrast to the tight-lip Bob Mueller investigation. And then Ken Starr was remembered for publicly lashing out at critics.


KEN STARR, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I have chosen until now not to reply. But I think the code of silence at sometimes in terms of basic fairness that comes to an end.

These are career civil servants. And it is not right and it`s not fair to attack and hound the career civil servants. For my part, I`ve learned that it goes with the independent counsel territory.


MELBER: It`s not right and it`s NOT fair. That was Ken Starr defending the DOJ and FBI civil servants on his case.

Well, tonight I can tell you, Ken Starr is reversing himself. He is attacking Bob Mueller`s investigation, including those same career servants. This is a move that is so blatantly partisan and so obviously hypocritical on the facts and the record, it is a wonder Ken Starr thinks anyone will believe him. It is also especially hard because the timing seems to report on some allies in the White House now being concerned about where this probe is headed. But Ken Starr very recently undermined what he`s saying today with this praise for Bob Mueller.


STARR: Bob Mueller is a great man and a terrific lawyer. Honest as the day is long. Bob Mueller has the integrity and the ability to make judgments to call them as he sees them. He will be a very fair umpire.


MELBER: That was July. Now Ken Starr again, during this week where everyone seems to be coming out to attack Bob Mueller, Ken Starr is in on it. He writes in the "Washington Post" that there are quote "cascading revelations of anti-Trump bias there on the investigation, including at career DOJ" and he argues says honor needs to be restored which to him means, get this, a reset where Bob Mueller will stop working. And instead, Congress will have a committee investigation and write a report.

I want to be clear about the facts here. What Ken Starr is saying, what he is advocating, is an end to the criminal investigation of what happened and what Russia did. And instead, he is suggesting that something no serious prosecutor would ever suggest. That Congress should do what prosecutors do. They are very different branches.

The big question I ask, the reason why we are reporting this on "the Beat," is what does Ken Starr know and why did he just reverse himself in such a public and arguably and embarrassing way?

For that I go to federal prosecutor Joyce Vance and bringing Bill Kristol, editor at-large at the "Weekly Standard."

I`m not here to give Ken Starr a hard time, Joyce. His record, his public statements, his unexplained contradiction does that all by himself. I`m curious in reporting and exposing this, what you think is really going on.

VANCE: It rings a little bit hollow, this op-ed piece that Ken Starr has written. When you think that he is a Republican, investigated a Democratic President for I believe some 1,490 days before his investigation are came to an end. Now he is criticizing a Republican-led investigation into a Republican President, calling it politically motivated.

So we know that that is not his real concern. What it might be, whether he has concerns about this President`s ongoing survival, we don`t really know for certain. But it is very interesting, Ari, to float that memo that has been discussed a lot, that came out of the justice department and indicated it might be possible to indict a sitting President, not just refer him to the hill for impeachment. That that memo talking about that legal theory of indictment for a President was authored during Ken Starr`s tenure and came out under his signature.

[18:20:04] MELBER: Yes, I remember that. A lot of people do. It was a highly debated legal point.

Bill, what`s good for the goose is good for the gander. You are a Washington expert. You have seen people contradict themselves. I want to play for you another leader at the time, a Republican leader who was calling the dogs off these type of attacks of career prosecutors at the time.


NEWT GINGRICH, FOR SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There is something profoundly demeaning and destructive to have the White House systematically undermine an officer of the department of justice.



BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I was on a panel with Ken Starr before a conservative audience I think it is in June of this past year. That just month before with that clip you showed from "Good Morning America." And Ken Starr, to his credit, surprised many of the audience by defending Robert Mueller, by defending the whole process, by explaining the justice department and the FBI were to be trusted, you know, for as much as any human institution can be trusted to do a good job. There will be accountability. And things will be reviewed. Of course, we will ultimately see the product of this and we would be able to catch it ourselves. And if it went to a court, a jury, a judge and jury would judge it. And I remember some on the audience, mostly republican conservative audience were little surprised that Starr was quite defending Bob Mueller against Donald Trump.

MELBER: So what gives?

KRISTOL: So I don`t know. I will say I like Ken Starr. I have known him a long time. I mean, it is not convincing. What he would have to do to explain his reversal I suppose intellectually don`t you think, would be to say, I have learned a, b, c and d since I said what I said in June and July. And it has convinced me that this are investigation can`t go forward fairly. But he specifies almost nothing.

MELBER: He specifies nothing.


MELBER: And it is possible, lawyer to lawyer here, it is possible that he was trying to lay a foundation earlier to build back his credibility on all this. When it seems that we are back to the original Ken Starr who has always proven to be a highly conservative Republican force. It is possible the earlier Mueller comments were just that.

KRISTOL: Possibly. I don`t want to get into his motives. But you know what is striking, you mentioned also congressmen now coming out suddenly over the Christmas break, asking if Mueller be dismissed or he should go. It is a total (INAUDIBLE) two first-term congressmen. They have been there a year Congressman Biggs I think from Arizona and Congressman (INAUDIBLE) from Florida. One of them on the Judiciary Committee. One of them on no committee of jurisdiction. Neither of them I think is fair to say has any particular knowledge of the internal workings of the FBI or the justice department. And they are attacking personally career people, based on second or third or fourth-hand press accounts of things they did, didn`t say or whether if -- I have no idea whether any individual FBI agent is or isn`t stellar agent, where the things may have been messed up some.

But again, presumably, I mean, so that`s what is striking to me. I mean, it does -- I`m not saying Ken Starr coordinated with them but the degree with which house Republicans now are in a coordinated assault to delegitimize the Mueller investigation and FBI and the entire department of justice. And it is genuinely alarming.

MELBER: Very alarming and Bill, I think you put it well and you put it fairly and measured. You are not trying to read Ken Starr`s mind but you know that he doesn`t have the evidence. I will make a programming and I don`t always do this. But we had invited Ken Starr on earlier, months ago because he is an interesting voice on this just like we had Robert Wray, the former Republican independent counsel who took his place. We will re- up and publicly say if Ken Starr wants to come on and face a public discussion, he is welcome to further provided evidence. Because he hasn`t done so today and it looks fishy.

Joyce Vance and Bill Kristol, thank you both.

Trump, meanwhile, back on his swing today as colleagues doing the damage control though.

And next, as promised, my Special Report on Mark Zuckerberg and why autocrats are still getting away with abusing Facebook.


[18:26:49] MELBER: Now we turn to special report on Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and the Philippines. A long and winding road and it`s important. This all begins with something Donald Trump is maybe ashamed of. He was the biggest beneficiary of fake news in 2016 so he has been using that term, of course, against others. Remember he got this term from work by his own supporters who relentlessly pushed fake news stories like the false claim he was endorsed by the Pope.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year we saw more made-up stories. Things were literally spun out of thin air, put on the internet. Usually Facebook but they`re certainly all over the web and Google searches. And it is not true. Crazy things like the Pope endorsed Donald Trump.


MELBER: The Pope did not endorse Donald Trump. But that fake news stories was one of the most viewed items on Facebook in the general election. It would have been easy to fact check it or at least taken out of the news feed. But Mark Zuckerberg`s company didn`t do that.

And while Trump benefited from fake news, while using against others as slur, now "the New York Times" reporting authoritarian figures around the world are using the same trick. And the tricks works for many different reasons.

But one of them is how it is still pretty easy to spread fake news on Facebook which makes money from clicks and shares regardless of whether the contents are true. Yes, undermining democracy can be profitable. Although Mark Zuckerberg says this is not what he wants.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: I don`t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. That`s not what we stand for. The integrity of our selections fundamental to democracy around the world.


MELBER: That part is true. So let`s put American politics to the side for a moment and dig into Facebook in the Philippines. This is where President Duterte is deploying a Putin playbook. Now, he is accused of human rights abuses and targeting journalists and killing them more than any other country, although Trump and Duterte hit it off at their November meeting.


TRUMP: We have a great relationship. This has been very successful. On behalf of everybody, I want to thank you and I want to thank the Philippines. Thank you very much.


MELBER: Duterte under fire for having reporters killed. Trump chuckled though reportedly when he called journalists spies and Duterte recently blamed his opposition critics for fake news.


RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT: The political oppositions. The guys who cannot accept defeat. They have been invite - they invented the fake news.


MELBER: Duterte has actually been busted for pushing his own fake news and all kinds of fake accounts on Facebook during their election. And so we are reporting this tonight because it reveals two very important things.

One, authoritarians, of course, will adapt any technology. It could be guns or it could be social media. And they will be authoritarian about it. We have known that a long time although it is worth remembering when you think about whether these platforms are good or not.

But there`s a secretary thing. The now infamous Mark Zuckerberg defense that he and his company only really learned about all of these problems after the U.S. election. That doesn`t look very true. Because Facebook is a global company and it was ground zero for this Putin-Duterte playbook long before Zuckerberg is playing naive about fake news after November and repeating their mantra they`re just neutral. In fact, there was a whole scandal in that country, the Philippines, over fake news and bots in their election which was, wait for it, held in May 2016, long before ours. And as Mark knows, a lot of this actually goes back to 2015. That is when Facebook first partnered with the Filipino government over a project that Facebook had called It`s Zuckerberg`s plan to try to connect everyone in the world and that includes poor countries so they can be online.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FACEBOOK: Our goal with is to help everyone connect. is a partnership between governments, mobile operators, local entrepreneurs and companies like Facebook. Everyone is welcome to join. We`ll work anyone who wants to join us.


MELBER: He`s not kidding. They will work anyone. And I`ll explain. After their initial launch, the 2016 Philippine Presidential election was around the corner and there were all kinds of candidates that wanted help from Facebook about using the platform and Facebook did what it`s done a lot. It sent three employees there to train candidates and that includes Duterte. Now, Facebook has a government team that does global work. It includes a former Republican operative Katie Harbath and includes Democrats and they train campaigns they say from all sides just like they offered Trump and Clinton training last year.

But giving tips to a few campaign in a constitutional democracy can be different than giving tips to this authoritarian, Duterte. And Facebook learned that quickly. In fact, after his team got that Facebook briefing, his allies went into overdrive pushing fake news and accounts along with his other wider campaigns. And that brings us back to -- guess who? Well, it`s the Pope. He was named in a big fake news story in that country, endorsing Duterte. That`s false. And this is basically a kind of a sign, if you get a Pope endorsement, you are the fake news candidate.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Did you know that back in July, the Pope endorsed Donald Trump? The only thing is, it`s not true. The Web site Snopes debunked a fake Pope Francis endorsement. The original fake Pope Trump Endorsement got well over 800,000 shares.


MELBER: Apparently that happens in a lot of different countries. Now, there are many factors in every election, we know that but in part with the domination of social media there, in May of 2016, Duterte won that election and his reliance on Facebook -- this is interesting for other countries -- it grew stronger. He also has less limits, constitutional or otherwise than we have in the United States. So he started doing things like banning journalists from covering his events and inauguration and streaming them instead on Facebook. So would anyone stand up to this? Yes. There was a journalist who decided, enough is enough. She started speaking out against the way Facebook was being used. Her name was Maria Ressa. She actually spent almost two decades on air in places like CNN.

And then she has started a database to track these problems. It was called shark tank and she logged in over 12 million accounts that she thought were pushing pro Duterte messages or fake news, many allegedly fake. She even traveled to Facebook`s F8 Conference and met with Zuckerberg and kept trying to sound the alarm about how Facebook was being used. She also spoke with over 50 high ranking officers and employees at Facebook, she says, including Sheryl Sandberg. She says the only action she`s seen after all of this is some paltry media literacy training which party puts it on consumers.

Now, Facebook always says when these problems arise, they try to deal with them. Now, we -- here at THE BEAT, we (INAUDIBLE) at a Facebook official and they tell us that any issue that Ressa has previously alerted them to has been promptly reviewed and taken action. And when they saw violations of their standards, they would deal with them. They did not respond to some of our follow-up questions asking for details. Sheryl Sandberg, of course, made a similar claim after the U.S. election was undermined by Russia.


SHERYL SANDBERG, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FACEBOOK: We spend a lot of time on what content can run on our platform. We are doing everything we can to follow up on every lead. We were looking at this, you know, certainly not as early as we would have liked to because we wish we had found it before it ever happened. The first line of defense is going after fake accounts.


MELBER: We wish we`d found it before it happened. That`s a defense that sounds reasonable and true in the U.S. but doesn`t make sense when you realize how long this has been going on in these other countries. Now, Ressa tells us, she actually is still an advocate of Facebook as a good platform for news and discussion but adds Facebook needs to moderate its greed, clean up the toxic waste and be accountability for its role as this new gatekeeper to information. Duterte meanwhile has made the Philippines a very good place for business for Facebook. Towards the end of the election, Facebook even opened their first office in the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Philippines has over 49 million monthly active users, representing 91 percent of internet users. Filipinos also have 60 percent more Facebook friends than the global average.


MELBER: This is a good place for Facebook`s business interests. I don`t say that as a big criticism and yet you`ll notice in our reporting on Facebook, we keep coming back to Mark Zuckerberg making this claim that all of these initiatives, that Facebook business strategy and connecting the world is not about money.


ZUCKERBERG: You know, if we were just focused on making money, the first billion people that we`ve connected have way more money than the rest of the next 6 billion combined. It`s not fair but it`s the way that it is.

Our secondary goal is to make it so that this a profitable thing for the whole international operator community because -- I mean, that`s how you make it sustainable.


MELBER: The argument there is that Facebook`s primary business strategy is not about business. Please. And let me report this for you. After 18 months of discussion and planning that began mostly after Duterte`s election, Facebook and the Filipino government revealed a plan to build a very pivotal submarine cable system which will bring ultra-high-speed broadband service to that country and the region. It`s a multi-billion dollar plan and they say it is key to expanding access to Facebook for new customers.

Facebook also teaming up with Amazon and a Japanese telco company to build an infrastructure of underwater cables to connect the entire Asia Pacific region. The whole business connection here goes back to 2014. Facebook then was touting its success in the Philippines and its success working with a Filipino telecom company which offered Facebook access to users at zero data charges. You take this all together, what you see is a whole lot of executives saying we were surprised and it is not about the money. And then you look at the facts and it is about the money and it`s not neutral. And in many cases, working with anyone and everyone to make money is not good for democracy.


MELBER: Now to a new report that could be the key to the Democrats midterm hopes (INAUDIBLE) people who do they most admire this year? And they found among all people serving in America, Hillary Clinton, the most admired woman. Barack Obama, the most admired man. I want to go out to our panel tonight. James Peterson, Professor at Lehigh University and Republican Strategist and former Chair of the Nevada State GOP Amy Tarkanian. James, what do these numbers say to you and is Obama and by extension, his turnout model, key to the Democrats in 2018?

JAMES PETERSON, PROFESSOR, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: I mean, I think it is not surprising that Obama and Clinton are at the top of this list, given the amount of votes they`ve gotten in the last couple of elections, winning the popular vote for the last Presidential cycles. But I think going forward, the Democratic Party has got to be looking towards the future Ari. And unfortunately, Obama`s popularity does not necessarily translate into electoral wins. I`m sure he`ll get out -- he`ll be out on the road, he`ll be supporting candidates as has been already. It`s unclear as to whether or not Hillary Clinton will do the same but the DNC has got to be looking to the future, looking to future people who can persuade the base and think more critically about what the future of the Democratic Party has to be.


AMY TARKANIAN, FORMER CHAIR, NEVADA STATE GOP: Well, I definitely was not involved in that polling. I think if you have someone like President Obama go out and stump for the future of Democrats, you`ll probably be safer. If you have someone like Hillary Clinton, I wouldn`t think that would be wise. You know, if you want to look toward the future as a Democrat, I would start looking -- this is my suggestion -- at other folks like Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii. She`s extremely impressive. Now I may not agree with her politics but I`m very impressed with her feistiness and the way she`s able to take on the establishment and speak so well.

MELBER: Amy, let me ask you as a -- from a Republican perspective, are you concerned that Republicans are lagging in the generic ballot or you feel like it`s too early and the base is happy?

TARKANIAN: No, I`m not worried at all. In fact, here in the state of Nevada, in off elections, Republicans do extremely well. So I`m feeling very confident about how Republican will do overall. But you know, you can go back to 2012, go back to President Obama real quickly. You know, his numbers weren`t always on the up and up either and they weren`t always as high as they ended up being toward the end. And he still ended up pulling it often and end up winning. So there`s plenty of time. In the political world, everything changes so quickly every hour.

MELBER: And James -- that`s true. James, final word on what is the Democratic message next year?

PETERSON: Well, the message has got to be about the traditional sort of Democratic platform which is income equality, access to health care, equal rights and equity for all and inclusive sort of big tent kind of party. You know, thinking about pushing back against Wall Street and the concerns of big business interests in government, ending citizens united. There`s a range of issues, that a traditional DNC issues that if they get back to basics. And (INAUDIBLE) if they center women and especially women of color, the Democratic Party will realize its future.

MELBER: Well, that was so key in Alabama. I will say this James and Amy, we have to cut it short because the next thing we`re doing on THE BEAT involves Dave Chappelle and he needs his time. I think that`s something on this holiday season we can all agree on.

PETERSON: Shout out to Dave Chappelle, yes.

MELBER: OK, James and Amy, thank you. We`ll have you back in THE BEAT. And up next, why this year was a breakthrough for late night comedy?


MELBER: -- when a joke became our political reality. A man who once served as the literal punch line of the President`s joke about how hard it is to run the country, that man won the presidency in a scene that left many Americans in a daze, including the comedians who tuck us in at night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened last night? I went to bed early. I did have the strangest dream though.


MELBER: That dream continues. And tonight on THE BEAT, we have some of the best moments from comedians this is year. And fitting the Trump era, they are not all funny. Because several comics broke from the tradition of late night neutrality to take sides using their influence to challenge Trump`s legitimacy.


STEPHEN COLBERT, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: We have to accept that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. No, no! I just want to keep saying it until I can say it without throwing up in my mouth a little bit.

SAMANTHA BEE, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: What we did was the Democratic equivalent of installing an above ground pool. Even if we`re lucky and it doesn`t seep into our foundations, the neighbors will never look at us the same way again.


MELBER: Those reactions were from the nights after the election. Over the coming days, America culture convulsed over how to handle President Trump. One of the most influential comedy shows Saturday Night Live was writing up its first episodes since the election. The host, Dave Chappelle a Comic famous for his incisive takes in race and class in an apt choice for a national address on that new Trump Presidency. That choice may have been no accident which was not publicly known at the time. But in a new NPR interview, Chappelle says SNL boss Lorne Michaels thought Trump would win and so he adamantly wanted Chappelle to be SNL`s voice in response just four nights after the election.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: Lorne Michaels put a heavy pitch on me and I ended up doing it. I was pretty sure Trump was going to win. In hindsight, I imagine that Lorne knew that Trump was going to win because he was real adamant about me doing the first slot after the election.


MELBER: Chappelle details how as Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams anchored election coverage on the third floor of Rockefeller Plaza. He sat with SNL writers on the eighth floor of the same building. And as those states were called on the iconic Rockefeller Ice Rink, the mood shifted.


CHAPPELLE: And they were doing this thing where they were calling the state`s ice at Rockefeller so every few minutes you`d here, hooray, or oh. And as the night went on, there was of like oh, oh, oh, no. And then, what the -- and then everyone stopped writing.


MELBER: And then Chappelle recalls a contrast that ultimately became a skit that Saturday, how some progressives were surprised by Trump`s win.


CHAPPELLE: And then everyone was just staring at the television and then there was like sobbing. As a black American, how emotional do you get about the political landscape? There wasn`t an Obama in this cycle. You know, it was just a battle -- you know, I not -- I shouldn`t say it, but you know, it was like a battle of the whites.


MELBER: And that night Chappelle walked out on stage evincing the double consciousness that WEB Du Bois outlined all the way back in 1903 living the experience of a minority and the consciousness of the white majority. What Du Bois called constantly looking at one`s self through the eyes of others. Over a year later his monolog passes the test of time because when you watch it now you see it`s not only about red and blue, it`s about a society so divided we often don`t see the same reality and Chappelle didn`t focus on the obvious attack on Trump. He began by roasting people who were so surprised America elected Trump.


CHAPPELLE: Whites were furious. I never seen anything like it. I haven`t seen white people this mad since the O.J.`s verdict. (INAUDIBLE) white people on both sides. I watched a white riot in Portland, Oregon, on television the other night. News said they did a million dollars` worth of damage. Every black person was watching there like, amateurs.


MELBER: Then Chappelle turned to Trump`s supporters.


CHAPPELLE: You know, I didn`t know that Donald Trump was going to win the election. I did suspect it. Seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls and yet I know the whites, America`s done it. We`ve actually -- we`ve actually elected an internet troll as our president.


MELBER: And he could have left it there. A couple jokes for both sides, but Chappelle went further recounting a diverse party at the Obama White House where he said black cultural leaders and Bradley Cooper all gathered and Chappelle then appealed to something larger.


CHAPPELLE: And I saw how happy everybody was, these people who had been historically disenfranchised and it made me feel hopeful and it made me feel proud to be an American and it made me very happy about the prospects of our country. So in that spirit, I`m wishing Donald Trump luck, and I`m going to give him a chance and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too.


MELBER: That`s powerful. Comedy doesn`t just make us laugh, it makes us think and here are some more great moments in late night from this year.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have done an outstanding job this semester I`m saying all A`s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I have my desk back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course, Mr. President. I`ll go sit at my desk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In her new book Hillary Clinton calls Donald Trump, this is true, a creep who made her skin crawl. When he heard this, Trump smiled and said, I still got it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And number three -- and number four --

SEAN SPICER, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: This was the largest audience to ever witness in an inauguration, period.

JIMMY KIMMEL, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: That poor bastard doesn`t even know where the coffee machine is yet. He`s already having to yell at everybody.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only people making decisions regarding the Trump organization are Eric and myself.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This meeting never happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn`t going to remember it anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Covfefe. What`s covfefe precious?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last (INAUDIBLE) with Trump Presidency, it`s a now news when you`re pretty sure the teacher doesn`t understand the material.


MELBER: And then as promised, there were also comedians who drew a line this year from civil rights to economics, to health care.

JIMMY FALLON, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: Even though the Tonight Show isn`t a political show, it`s my responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being. What happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, was just disgusting.

KIMMEL: I`ve had enough of this. I don`t know what can be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children.

Our current plan protects Americans from these caps and prevents insurance providers from jacking up the rates for people who have pre-existing conditions of all types.

Congress about 72 days ago failed to approve funding for CHIP. This is literally a life and death program for American kids.


MELBER: Those late night moments arrived before last week when Congress passed a bill cutting taxes for the rich, gutting ObamaCare and they left town without providing CHIP funding for children. And over this past holiday weekend, President Trump admitted he was conning people like claiming the tax bill hurt rich people like him. CBS reporting he then told wealthy supporters at Mar-a-Lago, "you all just got a lot richer." It doesn`t stop. So tonight it is fitting to give the last word back to Dave Chappelle. He is, of course, a millionaire. And in his new special he has a line about working-class Trump supporters who think the tax bill will help them. Chappelle says something any comedian can understand. The joke is on you.


CHAPPELLE: And I stood there and listened to him. I listen to him and say naive poor white people things. Man, Donald Trump is going to go to Washington and he`s going to fight for us. I`m standing there thinking, my man, you dumb (BLEEP). You are poor. He`s fighting for me.



MELBER: I`ve got to say one more thing tonight. It has been a year, right? I`m not alone in that. And tomorrow, I have my concluding 2017 comment on the year that`s been, and it`s about Humphrey Bogart. That`s our show. "HARDBALL" is up next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plan of attack. Let`s play HARDBALL.



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