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Democrats build 12% edge. TRANSCRIPT: 10/16/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Donna Brazile, Leah Wright Rigueur, Robert Torricelli, Liz Plank, Ari Berman, Mark Burford, Alice Walker

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 16, 2018 Guest: Donna Brazile, Leah Wright Rigueur, Robert Torricelli, Liz Plank, Ari Berman, Mark Burford, Alice Walker

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Entitled "Russian Gothic." Fascinating isn`t it? Don`t you think they`ll be putting this one up anytime soon? Anyway, we thought we`ll have a little fun with that. But who knew that a souvenir from Disney World could make it on to the wall of the west wing?

That`s all for tonight. Be sure to join us tomorrow live from Phoenix. You get to see us, so be there. The big. We`re going to be there.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER: Thank you very much, Chuck Todd. We`ll see you live tomorrow as well.

If there is a lot going on, well, let me tell you what we`re going to get to a little later on THE BEAT. There are new leads in the Russia probe. Michael Cohen talking to feds for over 50 hours.

Then I`m going to do a fact check on Trump`s money promise blowing up in his phase and why deficit double-talk could actually hurt him and the Republicans in the midterms.

And later, a very special guest tonight, the iconic Alice Walker, the novelist and civil rights advocate who says there is a role for artists and activists who work together on the Trump resistance. She joins me tonight. I am very excited about that. That`s later in the hour.

Our top story, though, is yes, the countdown to the midterms and negative signs for Trump. The House races were always going to be tougher for him than 2016, because, you may have heard about this, there`s no electoral college to override the popular vote, this time around in November. So a large popular margin for the Dems would probably put more Dems in office.

And that`s why, tonight, we can show you, there are new indicators that have Republicans nervous. And I`m not just talking polls. There are concrete signs new voters are registering and they lean Democratic. Twenty-five million people, I can tell you tonight, have now registered to vote or updated their registrations. Now, that`s nationwide since the last election.

Democrats have a 12 percent edge in those registrations for new voters. If that were the actual turnout model, it would be huge for House races. Now, that`s the top line. The breakdown is clear. Forty percent Dem versus 28 percent Republican. And then a third you see there in purple for the Independents.

Now, that`s similar to the trends in 2016, which is notable, because in 2016, more voters went for Clinton than Trump, but in the wrong places. If new registrations and polls hold up for the Dems in the right House districts, the results could be different than 2016. Now, another indicator for at least elite support and enthusiasm is money. Donors giving Dems money. A lot of it, for the edge in the top nine Senate races, as well as dozens of the closest House races.

Now, Republicans hitting back at the local level, there are Republican attempts to move from talking all about Trump to doing other things that might work, like hammering the specter of Nancy Pelosi taking charge again. Virginia`s Dave Brat naming her 25 times in this debate last night. Other Republicans softening their domestic stances that have proved unpopular.

Here`s an Arizona Senate candidate who voted to repeal Obamacare last year with a different tune last night.


MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: I voted to protect people with pre-existing conditions. We cannot go back to where we were before Obamacare, where people were one diagnosis away from going bankrupt.


MELBER: We can`t go back. But with that kind of moderation is a new tactic, Donald Trump didn`t get the memo. Here on THE BEAT, we don`t usually treat Donald Trump`s tweets as a top story on just about anything. But this turns out to be a little more than a tweet.

Trump making news and drawing even Republican criticism with the sexist attack on Stormy Daniels` appearance, a woman who, of course, he`s paid to keep quiet about their own history. And the attack comes while Trump`s Republican party trails 22 percent among women voters and another 33 percent among Independent women. Numbers that Trump ally Lindsey Graham may have had in mind when he broke with Trump over this Twitter attack.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He`s a street fighter, but he`s also the president. And I just don`t think this elevates him. I don`t think it does anything good for the country.


MELBER: I am joined by DNC Chair Donna Brazile. Her new book is, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics." As well as Leah Wright Rigueur, a professor at Harvard. Thanks to both of you for starting off our coverage tonight.


MELBER: Donna --


MELBER: Thank you. That`s three thank yous.

Donna, when you see this type of attack, as I mentioned, we didn`t even put the actual tweet up. I don`t care about the tweet, but the politics of it here going into the midterms with that women deficit for the president and even Lindsey Graham trying to say don`t do that. What do you think this means?

BRAZILE: Well, it`s another instance of the president attacking women. Whether it`s Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters. I mean, the list can go on and on and on. We don`t have enough time to discuss all of the women, all of the virulent attacks that he has shown over the years, the decades, and of course, as the president of the United States.

Look, this is going to fuel women to put a check on this presidency. President Trump is unable to really govern in such a way that provide not just balance, but also respect for women. We are the majority of voters. We`re the majority of consumers. We are the majority of college graduates. It`s time that the president respect us or we will elect women and men of valor, who will support women.

MELBER: Leah, take a listen to my colleague, Nicole Wallace, going through the litany on this.


NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: This is the kind of language that has come to define Trump`s presidency and his party, which elected and continues to support and cheer a man whose public insults of women have included "Miss Piggy," "Miss Housekeeping," "Degenerate," "Flab," "Pig," "Bleeding very badly from a facelift," "Not my first choice," "Low IQ," "Whacky," and of course, "Look at that face, would anyone vote for that?"


MELBER: Professor?

RIGUEUR: Yes. So these are the kinds of things that we already know women of color really don`t like. We know that white women with college can degrees really don`t like this. We know that women who are independents don`t like this. So, you know, these tactics that really are about both Trump`s ego and about appealing to the base really do not work with anybody else in the country.

And increasingly, what we`re seeing is that some of these violent checks, of particularly, say, the attacks around, say Miss Piggy or the attacks around Mika in "Morning Joe" and the facelift comments, that all audiences across all denominations, across all ideological backgrounds really, really hate when Donald Trump does this.

So if you`re a Republican and you`re running for office right now, this is what you do not want Trump doing. You want him to stay away from this because it really, in the end, hurt you because it`s not just Donald Trump who has to be held accountable for these kinds of comments. It`s also the Republican party and Republican candidates.

MELBER: Right. So, you know, I think we`ve covered it. It`s wrong, it`s probably also ineffective and could blow up in his face.

BRAZILE: But remember what he did just recently in Mississippi, where he mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. That was shameful. That was unbecoming of a president of the United States, but this is part of his playbook. He really believes that this helps him with men voters. I think men voters, especially millennial men, will reject this type of sexism and misogyny.

MELBER: When you look, Donna, at the registrations, which I want to get you on, because you`ve been in the field in a way that many other people haven`t. Take a look at the 25 million there. That`s November 2016, going here to 40 million. You basically have an influx of people registering, and as I mentioned at the top of this show, leaning Dem, but it`s leaned Dem before.

BRAZILE: Correct.

MELBER: Why do you think this time, in midterms, the Democrats are more confident?

BRAZILE: Well, when you take a look at these new registrations or these changes or updates in registration, they not only exist in the traditional blue states, but also in the purple states and in the suburbs. This gives Democrats an opportunity to expand the electorate, to bring about what I believe, a sea change, and the way in which we can bring in more candidates from areas of the country that Democrats have had a problem.

The other thing, Ari that`s important to state is that we now have Democrats running in rural areas, and they have a chance of winning this fall. And we have Democrats who are able to put together a coalition with Independents and soft-leaning Republicans.

MELBER: Mm-hmm. Donna, I want you to stay with me because I`m going to come back to you later on the show about another aspect of this class and turnout.

Professor Rigueur, as always, thank you very much.

BRAZILE: Thank you, Leah.

RIGUEUR: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: I want to bring now in U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli who served in New Jersey, along with Havoc of Mobb Deep. You guys have appeared together. And Liz Plank, a senior producer journalist with Vox Media. Nice to see you both.

I want to show something we`re seeing in the House races. One of the things that happens here in the news is we do cover the shiny objects sometimes. At the House level, we showed a little bit of this in the lead. The messages are shifting among Republicans. It suggests they`re either on the defense, they want to change.

One way they`re doing that is sounding warmer towards Obamacare than they did in the vote. Another is just doing what everyone in both camps does, which is try to scare people with the other guy. So if your president`s less popular, well, he`s still more popular in a lot of these districts than Nancy Pelosi, for incumbent Republicans. Take a look at some of these ads.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we know the truth. Amy McGrath is a Nancy Pelosi liberal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Washington, Brindisi would vote with Pelosi to give amnesty to illegal immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: O`Connor supports a Pelosi-backed plan.


LIZ PLANK, SENIOR PRODUCER JOURNALIST, VOX MEDIA: This strategy feels desperate, it feels vintage, and it feels very sexist to me. The GOP has been obsessing with Nancy Pelosi. You know, since 2003, they have been attacking her repeatedly, ever since she became the speaker.

They`ve been obsessed with Hillary Clinton since the `90s. A lot of ads also mention Hillary Clinton, which is pretty remarkable. And this is just part of the trope that the GOP sort of uses, this narrative, to go after women, to go after powerful women who are doing their jobs.

MELBER: You think -- let me get clear on this, you think they make a bigger deal out of, say, Nancy Pelosi than Chuck Schumer --

PLANK: Absolutely.

MELBER: -- who would be the equivalent bogeyman --

PLANK: Right.

MELBER: -- or bogeyperson, or bogeywoman.

PLANK: Exactly, bogeywoman. Thank you for using the proper --

MELBER: I got there. It took me a minute, but I got there.

PLANK: Sure. But I mean look, there`s a district in Pennsylvania, 58 percent of the ads from the GOP side were anti-Pelosi ads. Like, they`re very obsessed with her. Why are they so obsessed with her? Why aren`t they talking about Chuck Schumer? Why aren`t they talking about other people other than her, for the last 10 years?

TORRICELLI: And what it shows to me, some Democrats are ceding the point. I`ve known Nancy Pelosi all my life. Here`s the truth to this, if you like the fact that healthcare protects pre-existing illnesses, that`s Nancy Pelosi. If you really believe in the protection of civil liberties, that`s Nancy Pelosi. If you like the fact that women are getting appointed to a high office in America, that`s Nancy Pelosi.

You can`t separate the work from the woman. I don`t know how they`ve demonized her, but the Nancy Pelosi I know has done nothing but give her entire life to social justice, helping equality for women, and working people, period. I don`t understand it.

MELBER: You know, whenever you`re on this show, you talk about how you know Donald Trump, you know Nancy Pelosi --

TORRICELLI: I`ve been around for a while.

MELBER: I would say you`re a name dropper, but you`re actually just an experienced --

TORRICELLI: I`ve been around.

MELBER: -- person who knows everybody. Do you know Mike Bloomberg?

TORRICELLI: I do. Yes, I like Mike Bloomberg.

MELBER: Well, then here we go. Donald Trump weighing in on this 2020 conversation. Democrats, obviously, are on the hunt for who is the right person to go up against Donald Trump. Here was his comments on the Bloomberg 2020 idea as a Democrat.


TRUMP: I think he would be so easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you think he would do --

TRUMP: I don`t think -- well, I don`t think he`ll get through the Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In other words, he wouldn`t be able to do anything in the primaries, because of where the party`s going?

TRUMP: I don`t think he -- I think the Democrats will eat him up. You know you have a lot of people running. I`m hearing names that are shockingly bad, but they`re nasty.


TORRICELLI: So I don`t know if Mike Bloomberg can get nominated but I`ll tell you this. If Mike Bloomberg after he`s elected went to the U.N. and said, "I`ve been the most successful American president in history in my first six months," it might be true. I can imagine who will be better.

MELBER: Do you know Mike Bloomberg the way the Senator does?

PLANK: I don`t think so. I think I crossed paths with them once in Bloomberg.

TORRICELLI: I`m not going to admit to knowing anyone again.

MELBER: You also know Brian Williams?


MELBER: Were you -- you know about that?

PLANK: I don`t know about that.

MELBER: Tell her.

TORRICELLI: I made the enormous faux pas of coming on the program and quoting Brian Williams on this program, something for which I will never be forgiven.

MELBER: No, I love Brian, I look up to Brian. I asked a question on THE BEAT and he said, "You know who asks a better question than that? Brian Williams."

TORRICELLI: Yes. I was --

MELBER: And then I`m going to answer that. And I said, that makes sense because Brian does ask good questions. He`s been doing this longer. He has more experience.

When you look at what Trump is doing there, dissing Bloomberg, saying all the 2020 people are going to be nasty, terrible, this and that, you know. He doesn`t really have it in his gut to campaign for other people.

PLANK: Right.

MELBER: You know what I mean? Like, it`s October, you need to hold the House, and he can`t help himself, but do these attacks that might undermine the women`s vote, and then do these other things that are not about the House Republicans.

PLANK: Right. He can`t help himself. I mean, and the narcissism and the self-interest is really his most consistent ideology, I guess. And again, coming back to, you know, the GOP, they`re obsessed with talking about Nancy Pelosi because -- and Hillary Clinton, and whoever, because they don`t have anything else to talk about, right?

What are they going to talk about? They were running on repealing Obamacare. They have control of all three branches of government. Have they been able to do it? No. And, in fact, to your point, it`s actually pretty popular right now. Can they talk about their Tax Bill and the fact that it was the biggest transfer of wealth from the working class to their buddies in, you know, corporate America? They probably don`t want to talk about that.

And so they`re using this negative messaging. And of course, both parties fall into that. But the Republican party is using it much more this election cycle than the Democrats are because they don`t -- they`re using feelings rather than facts because there`s not a lot of good facts to point to.

MELBER: And wasn`t it Paul Ryan who said, "Let`s give them something to talk about"?


MELBER: Tax cuts for the one percent and exploding deficit.

PLANK: There you go.

PLANK: A catchy tune.

TORRICELLI: Having said all of that, well, I think as you`ve cracked this by the day, the Democratic members in the House have gotten stronger and stronger. Since Donald Trump doesn`t really care about the Republican party, what he cares about is the survival of Donald Trump. He wanted bragging rights out of the election.

MELBER: Right.

TORRICELLI: His position in the Senate has strengthened in the last few days.

MELBER: Well, and that`s the split --

TORRICELLI: So I think the House is probably gone for the Republican party.

MELBER: Right. And the Senate, like 2016, isn`t a popular vote natural referenda. It is more Republican seats, basically, in the right position.

TORRICELLI: The Senate election is the electoral college all over again.


MELBER: Right, which is something that -- you can reminisce to election night 2016 if you`re into that sort of thing.

PLANK: Oh, fun. Yes.

MELBER: Senator Robert Torricelli and Liz Plank, as always, thanks for coming on THE BEAT. I appreciate both of you.

Coming up, Michael Cohen talking to different investigators for over 50 hours. Congressman Eric Swalwell is here. And a new report that shows what the Trump tax cut is doing to America. Let`s give him something to talk about.

Also, we`re getting into the voter suppression efforts in the midterms. What you need to know and why there`s a push to make an election day in America a national holiday.

And later, as promised, something I`m excited about, Alice Walker, the artist who wrote this famous scene in "The Color Purple."


SOPHIA: All my life I had to fight. I loves Harpo. God knows I do. But I`ll kill him dead before I let him beat me.


MELBER: Alice Walker is our special guest on THE BEAT tonight, talking art and justice.

I`m Ari Melber and we will be right back.


MELBER: No better expert on law enforcement than 50 Cent told me once that Michael Cohen was going to sing even better than everybody on the charts. And it appears that`s happening. Michael Cohen, of course, Trump`s former lawyer, spending over 50 hours talking to investigators who work with Bob Mueller. This is with the formal cooperation agreement.

"Vanity Fair" reports Cohen willingly assisted with information for multiple ongoing investigations. And "Friends" saying that he regrets ever working for Trump and wants to make it right. It`s not just Cohen, either. Guilty Trump campaign aide Rick Gates` singing. Mueller must like what he`s hearing because now with Mueller`s support, a judge just today ending the GPS monitoring and curfew for Gates.

And then you have Paul Manafort who flipped and wants to get out of his prison jumpsuit for all future hearings, which was in a motion from his lawyers today. It says that Manafort should be allowed to dress in a suit for a hearing this week, as well as all other court appearances.

I`m joined now by Congressman Eric Swalwell, who serves on the intelligence and judiciary committees.

What does it tell you that while Mueller stays largely out of the big headlines, as we get up to the election, there seems to be a lot of activity and cooperation behind the scenes?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-C), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Ari. It tells me that Bob Mueller continues to work, despite, you know, this midterm election that`s approaching. I think, you know, beneath the surface, they are conducting witness interviews. They`re bringing people before the grand jury. They`re subpoenaing important documents.

And as it relates to Michael Cohen, I think the pattern here is that any person that tries to stare down Bob Mueller always ends up blinking. And it looks like Mr. Cohen is blinking and cooperating. And what is striking about his cooperation is that it appears to be completely voluntary, which means that he`s not doing it for any other reason than he wants to do the right thing. And I think that should very much concern Donald Trump.

MELBER: You really believe that his only motivation is "the right thing." Do you think that`s consistent with Michael Cohen`s public life, career, and legal practice, as it has been exposed through this process?

SWALWELL: He`s told a lot of lies in the past, Ari. But I`ve seen as a former prosecutor, it`s never too light -- it`s never too late to ask a witness to, you know, come to terms with the truth and start telling it. And, you know, if they can corroborate what Michael Cohen is saying, it doesn`t matter what his motivation is. But he was, in many cases, the only witness around.

There was the Trump Tower deal that was going on during the primary campaign, where Cohen`s friend and Donald Trump`s business associate, Felix Sater, was proposing to put a Trump Tower in Moscow and suggested that he could connect Trump to Putin and engineer the election in Trump`s favor. Only Cohen would know if that information was passed along to Donald Trump. And that, you know, with many other instances, would be key information for the Mueller team.

MELBER: Right. And we were just looking at that web, all the different people who are speaking to Mueller, what do they know about Trump. You see he is there on the right side. Those are cooperators. You have the other people who have pled out and worked for or around Trump.

And I wonder, then, what the 50 hours mean to you. You had a front row seat to a lot of this. Bob Mueller and his investigators don`t seem to take endless meetings for no reason. If they think someone`s worth 10 hours, they do 10 hours. What does it tell you that we`re up to 50 hours here with Cohen? I mean, what does that mean?

SWALWELL: That`s a workweek with overtime. I spent about 10 hours with Michael Cohen. And he was largely unhelpful and didn`t recall a lot of what was asked of him. But we still learned a lot in just 10 hours, where he was not cooperative. So I can only imagine what the Mueller team has learned with 50 hours of full cooperation.

MELBER: And just to put a point on that, you`re suggesting, you believe that he`s far more forthright with Mueller than he was originally when he was fighting with you guys?

SWALWELL: Yes. Like many of the Trump witnesses, you know, they had all learned the phrase, "I don`t recall," and they tried to distance themselves as far away from Donald Trump as possible. You think that they were all just, you know, pen pals and rarely interacted with each other from Donald Trump`s body guy to his personal secretary, to Michael Cohen. But I imagine that 50 hours is, you know, coloring in a lot of the gaps that we weren`t able to find and we weren`t able to press on, because Republicans wouldn`t use the subpoena power in our investigation.

MELBER: Right. A lot going on behind the scenes.

Congressman Swalwell, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: There are new allegations of voter suppression in key midterm races, as well as a campaign to fix some of our problems. I have both of those stories when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: The other top story tonight, critics blasting Republican policies that they say suppress votes in top races. This story drawing intense scrutiny all over the place because it`s not in one or two states, but more of a trend. Crackdowns that disparately impact minorities who tend to vote Democratic.

In Georgia, early voting underway with Republican Brian Kemp leading Stacy Abrams by about two points. But he`s not just a candidate for governor. He`s using his post as Secretary of State to hold up tens of thousands of voter registrations, 70 percent of them, African-American voters.

Or in Texas where Ted Cruz debates Beto O`Rourke tonight, the state attorney general prosecuting about three dozen people on charges of voter fraud. Now, that is more than the previous five years combined. Critics say it may intimidate many lawful voters.

And then there`s a big story that my colleague, Rachel Maddow, has been reporting on. Heidi Heitkamp fighting in a red state where Republicans should have a big edge anyway, but where they are taking extreme measures that critics say would suppress the votes of native Americans.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: What they specifically were working to get rid of in that state was your ability to vote if your I.D. doesn`t have a street address on it. Native Americans in North Dakota, at double the rate of everybody else, don`t have street addresses on their I.Ds. If the Republicans can turn off the Native American vote, if they can end that, they can run the table. They don`t have to worry about there being any U.S. Senators from the Democratic party.


MELBER: I am joined by Donna Brazile, back at the table. And Ari Berman, a senior reporter for "Mother Jones", the author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America" and a journalist who`s been tracking this for a long time, before it was really in the national spotlight.

Donna, when you look at this, is this targeting black voters and minorities and native Americans, as you see there?

BRAZILE: Yes. Sadly, it is. It`s the grace down (ph) of our democracy. Not only in Georgia, the purging of people in the State of Indiana, the failure to process voter registration cards in Miami-Dade, the failure to understand that some of the voter registration forms. As you know, today is the deadline to register to vote in several states, including Maryland, where there`s an important gubernatorial race.

Yes, this is systemic. It has been going on for decades but it`s getting worse. Everybody should vote, but we should not have to, not only protect people`s right to vote, at the same time we`re asking people to vote. Because it really sends a message that, why bother?

MELBER: Well, and in Georgia, Ari, you`ve seen this laid out in a way where if you were a Martian and you landed in America, and you said, "Wait, the person in charge of the election and its fairness is also running in it? It makes no sense." That`s before you get to what Brian Kemp is accused of. I want to play both candidates in that race, both sides, if you will, of that story and then get your analysis. Let`s take a look.


STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA, GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: So the challenge is twofold. One is that we know this is a flawed system that has a disproportionate effect on people of color. But it also has the ability to erode trust in our system.

BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA, GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: That`s a smoke screen trying to hide her radical views. Those folks that are on the pending list, all they have to do is go to the polls, show their photo I.D., and they can vote. Again, this is just a distraction.


ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES: Well, Georgia`s really the epicenter of voter suppression right now, Ari, at every level. I mean they were the first state to pass a Voter I.D. Law in 2005, so it really kicked off this movement to make it harder to vote. They have closed 214 polling places. You know the second largest county in Georgia was just sued today for rejecting 1 in 10 absentee ballots.

The disproportionate impact is enormous. You have 14 percent of Asian- Americans, 8 percent of African-Americans, 4 percent of Hispanics are having ballots rejected, compared to only 2.5 percent of whites. Then you have the Secretary of State, who is also running for governor, as you mentioned, blocking 53,000 people from registering to vote and it`s a very confusing process for them.

But this is bigger than Georgia. Twenty-four states have passed new restrictions on voting since the 2010 election. We just got out of an election that was the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, because the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, where black turnout dropped dramatically.

And instead of fixing that problem, instead of trying to get black turnout up, and Latino turnout up, and Asian-American turnout up, and young turnout up, we`ve done the opposite, which is states from Georgia to Texas to North Dakota and Wisconsin are now making it harder to vote, in an election that`s going to be razor thin in places like Georgia and Florida and North Dakota.

MELBER: You`re saying -- what you`re reporting is suppression efforts could actually make the margin?

BERMAN: Absolutely. You look at North Dakota which Rachel Maddow has been covering. Heidi Heitkamp won her first election to the Senate by 3,000 votes. She got 80 percent support from native Americans there. Now, you have a voter I.D. that could disenfranchise 5,000 native American voters, 20 percent of whom don`t have the right IDs because they wrote the law such a way for no reason to exclude tribal IDs from being accepted.

So that`s one race alone but in Georgia and North Dakota, in Florida and other key states, suppression could make the difference in this election.

BRAZILE: And also in states like Texas, remember, Rachel has also been reporting on what`s going on at Prairie View. And what worries me also is that hurricane Florence, hurricane Michael, they`re impacted areas in both South Carolina, North Carolina, also in Florida and Georgia where the precincts are in minority communities and will they be open. Will the voters in those areas be told where to go to vote?

MELBER: Well, people often talk about where does Donald Trump get his slogans in his talking points and the answer is he plagiarizes them from other people, from other Republicans. The make America great he`s literally Ronald Reagan`s re-election slogan. It wasn`t obscure, it was literally the slogan. And so I don`t recall Donald Trump in the 90s or the 2000s talking a lot about voter fraud. He picked this up like so many other things because he learned what the modern Republican Party is doing. Take a look at Trump playing up this issue.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But they even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths and voter fraud is all too common and then they criticize us for saying that.

Oh that voter fraud, you know these politicians are brutal. They`re brutal. There is the issue of voter fraud. Is it amazing the way they say there`s no voter fraud?


BERMAN: Voter fraud is the new dog whistle. It`s the new welfare queens in Cadillacs. It`s used as an excuse to then push policies that suppress the vote. And you know who Donald Trump got it from, he got it from Republican Secretaries of State like Kris Kobach in Kansas, like Brian Kemp in Georgia who are now running for governor to be the chief officials in their state so this is really, really serious. These guys who gave Trump this massive lie are on the ballot in 2018.

MELBER: Right. And so a lot of this is what affects the turnout even though it`s one step behind what people know. I want you both to stay with me. We want to broaden this out a little bit. We`re talking about disenfranchisement. There`s these other practices that are totally legal and have an impact. Consider this simple fact the U.S. is one of the only countries where Election Day is on a workday which means if you`re a normal work -- full time working person, maybe you have some kids, it`s very hard to get to the polls. And companies now are stepping up where the U.S. government hasn`t. We want a spotlight one.

The Blue Point Brewing Company actually has this effort to make Election Day a national holiday. They`ve put the petition right on their cans of beer and they give their own workers a day off. To broaden this conversation to class, I want to bring in the Co-Founder of the Brewing Company behind this effort Mark Burford thanks for being here.

MARK BURFORD, CO-FOUNDER, BLUE POINT BREWING COMPANY: Thank you for having me. You want to make sure it`s easy for your employees to vote regardless of who they vote for.

BURFORD: Absolutely. At Blue Point, we believe you should be able to get to the polls. We created a company-wide holiday, we created the beer with the petition on it and we want people to be able to vote every day or every time.

MELBER: And it is your view from being a business owner or some would call it a job creator, it an old Romney quote, as a job creator and a business owner that this is something that working people that your employees were having a harder time doing?

BURFORD: Well, yes. I mean, I know personally my parents both work full time. They commuted four hours a day to work and they made to the polls every time but it wasn`t easy. It should never be that hard to vote. You should be able to vote. Election day should be a national holiday. It`ll help the country.

MELBER: What do you think about this Donna because you know, so often we`re in -- we`re in the nitty-gritty of it? You take a step back and remember when you do phone banking you call people and some of them say yes, I would want to vote. I got the kind of job and the kind of childcare in the kind of situation where I can`t get an hour out.

BRAZILE: First of all I`m getting a six-pack.

BURFORD: There you go. You`ll need one, after this one.

BRAZILE: And I`m not -- my name is Donna, I`m getting a six pack. But election season as you well know begins now. People are voting early. They`re voting -- they`re able to vote on weekends but in many states, they`re now restricting that because of the great turnout efforts we`ve had. I remember a couple years ago we were celebrating the fact that you can vote on Sunday. You can go to church and then we call it all souls to the polls. They`re trying to get rid of that so this is a great idea. But we also need a Constitutional Amendment to vote. We have 50 states with 50 different rules and regulations and that`s why voting has become so difficult --

MELBER: And Berman, I want to -- I want to get into something you know, sometimes when you want to make plans with someone and they don`t want to hang out with you, they just claim they`re too busy, so it doesn`t always mean everything --

BERMAN: That never happens with us. That`s for other people.

MELBER: But when you look at this, the polling not about who you vote for but whether you vote at all shows this. This is Pew Research Center for last year. One out of the seven Americans, 14 percent, we can put this up, say they were basically too busy to vote in 2016. 14 percent. That also is a margin.

BERMAN: I think that`s true. And you know, the whole concept of Election Day is totally antiquated. The reason why we vote on the Tuesday in November is because that`s when farmers used to bring their crops to the market in the 1800s. So I think every state not only should have voting be a national holiday but we should have two weeks of early voting minimum.

I think in every state in the country we should be able to have -- you could get an absentee ballot anywhere you live. We should have Election Day voter registration so that if people miss the registration deadlines in all of these states, they can still show up at the polls and register to vote. If we did all of that, if we had early voting, election day registration, a national holiday so everyone could vote, we would have much higher voter turnout that we have now.

MELBER: It`s fascinating. It`s a story you`ve been reporting in a lot. You know it from the inside and you`re a different kind of voice here coming out of a company trying to make time for your own employees which we wanted to spotlight for a second because it`s pretty interesting. My thanks to Donna, Ari, and Mark.

Up ahead, a civil rights pioneer who`s leading parts of the Trump resistance. The visionary activist known as Alice Walker has been talking about how to combat Trump since literally day one. I am thrilled to have her on THE BEAT for the first time tonight. But first, a Republican talking point is exploding the ballooning deficit. That`s our special report next.


MELBER: Now we turn to one of the most important economic developments of the Trump era and the President is not tweeting about it, Paul Ryan is not discussing it in interviews, but it could be key both in the Midterms and even the next election. I`m talking tonight about our deficit. You know, from Paul Ryan to Mitch McConnell, to the Tea Party, to MAGA, the GOP has long claimed that it is fiscally conservative and anti-deficit.

In fact, you may remember when Obama was president, GOP leaders blasted the existence of any deficit as a fiscal and moral crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are in denial. They`re in denial about the debt $14.3 trillion. They`re in denial about the deficit. They want to see a nation in debt. They want us to pay our bills in our time.

JOHN BOEHNER, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes this level of debt is unsustainable but it is also immoral.


MELBER: Immoral. Keep that word in mind. That was of course Speaker John Boehner. He was ousted by a Tea Party movement that clamored about runaway spending. And the members of that movement may have cared a lot about it. We`re talking tonight about what Republican leaders did about it considered that that deficit obsession was also embraced by Boehner`s replacement Paul Ryan and the current Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: So the only reason the unemployment extension hasn`t passed is because our friends on the other side simply refused to pass a bill that does not add to the debt. That`s it.

What`s reckless, Bob, is the $1.6 trillion deficit we`re running this year.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He doubles the debt after his term in office and triples it by the end of his budget. He sends our debt on an upward trajectory that is completely unsustainable.


MELBER: Paul Ryan talking about a president, the last one sending us on an unsustainable deficit explosion. Now, the new president Donald Trump also echoed Paul Ryan when he said he wouldn`t let that happen during his run for president.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack Obama has doubled during his fairly short period of years. He`s doubled our national debt, doubled it.


MELBER: So that`s the record. It`s all out in public. Republican politicians insisting they`d address this deficit problem if they got power and here`s what happened. New numbers out today show the budget deficit exploded to $779 billion in 2018 under Trump. That is a six-year high. What you see on your screen gives lie to every promise you just heard on your screen. So what do they say about it? Well, Mitch McConnell was pressed and he claims the real problem now is something else, not the new tax cuts but the way we have a long-running safety net.


MCCONNELL: It`s very disturbing and it`s driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular, Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid.


MELBER: So that`s the new message from Mitch McConnell and presumably the other Republican politicians. Don`t worry about the fact that this is exactly what they said they wouldn`t do, blame something else. Now, take a look. The big driver, the newest thing happening here is, of course, the Trump tax cut. And you can see under Obama the annual deficit even with the social safety net was going down. The blue is the deficit going down and 2017 and 2018 especially is it going back up under a red Republican president with big tax cuts. It`s not until this year as the Trump tax cut takes effect that you see the real spike. And the problem is deeper than that.

Republicans they said these tax cuts would be for everyone, that it was a kind of an economic stimulus. Donald Trump even talked about that. But then look at the facts. When you see what Donald Trump promised right after the tax could actually win through, right after signing it, right after signing it, we`ll put this up on the screen. There he was signing a lot of bills and then he addressed his supporters at Mar-a-Lago and said you all just got richer.

That was a moment of honesty from Donald Trump. They got richer, the people who spent a hundreds of thousands of dollars to be Mar-a-Lago members. That is why the tax cuts are pretty controversial. That`s why they`re not being talked about as much in the Midterm races and that`s why everything you just saw tonight, Republican politicians telling everyone that deficits were bad under Obama have been revealed. They are paying for this by giving money out to the richest people in America and reversing what they very well promised this whole time that they would address deficits under a Republican president.

Now it`s out for everyone to see and people can decide what if anything to do about it. Now, up ahead on THE BEAT tonight, I go one-on-one with celebrated novelist Alice Walker discussing her poetry, her artwork, her artists vision, and what she said the resistance can do against Donald Trump.


MELBER: We`re living in a political era that has many people feeling despair, raising questions that are deeper than politics like is our society going backwards. If civil society is broken, are we better off just focusing on our own happiness or the big one what`s the point of life. Many turn to the arts for insights, from the Handmaidens Tale, the Black Mirror, the arts can offer salvation a deeper thought. And celebrated novelist Alice Walker is weighing in on the Trump era in her art. She says history shows you cannot regret misfortune because it actually can lead us somewhere better. Walker joins me on THE BEAT tonight. Viewers may recognize her name from over 35 books of fiction and poetry or her Pulitzer Prize for the novel The Color Purple which was adapted into a Steven Spielberg movie that features the film debuts of two black women Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey and a tale confronting the ravages of slavery and sexual abuse.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy, I had to fight my uncles, I had to fight my brothers. A girl child isn`t safe in a family of men, but I never thought I had to fight in my own house.


MELBER: Walker is now confronting the Trump era head-on. She writes Americans distraught at Trumpism, should channel anger into a wider awakening. And her new book of poetry grapples with race police brutality and the immigration crisis. Alice Walker, an honor to have you here.

ALICE WALKER, AMERICAN NOVELIST: I`m so happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

MELBER: Absolutely. What are you saying with your poems and do you think of them as a message about democracy and politics?

WALKER: I think of them as a way to talk to people about tending to their own hurt and their own wounds instead of just screaming at the person who hurts you. Because way in which if we don`t heal ourselves, we can never heal the world and that is the locus, the central point of this book.

MELBER: That seems to be a distinction between how do you have catharsis or progress versus the search for justice or what can be getting even because we`re also having a conversation here about what people get away with right now in America.

WALKER: Yes, and also part of what we -- what happens if you try to get away with something that`s terrible is that you cannot. And in this poem about the police what I`m saying is that the white cops will kill our children, they can only expect to be healed by sitting with the mothers of the children they have killed. And this could be a beginning of their healing and the healing of our society.

MELBER: That poem in the new book here to the police, I know we have it right there if you`d read it to us.

WALKER: OK, and this is about the people who own the police. This is not directly to the police because there are people who actually own them and often they`re not aware that they`re owned by something more than themselves. Though usually devoid of feeling, they are experiencing a sensation they almost enjoy. They get to witness by twisted enchantment, dozens of strong black mothers weeping. They planned and nurtured your hatred and fear speaking of the police, and focused the kill shot.

MELBER: Who do you hope reads that?

WALKER: Well, I hope whoever`s interested in freeing their own heart and spirit. You know, I`m not interested in writing actually political things exactly, but I want to change people the way they interact with each other and the way they see reality and the way they see our history. You have a Pulitzer Prize. Kendrick Lamar is a young musician, the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize ever this past year and I want to play for you something from one of his songs in a video that echoes your work. Take a look.


KENDRICK LAMAR, RAPPER: Alls my life I has to fight. Alls my life I hard times like God, bad trips like God.


MELBER: Have you -- have you heard him quote you before?


MELBER: You never seen that?


MELBER: And he`s big. He`s not Alice Walker big but he`s big.

WALKER: I`m happy for him.

MELBER: What do you think about the way he`s using your work, alls my life I had to fight.

WALKER: Well, I think he`s understanding that that is the truth of it especially for poor people and for people of color in this country. We`ve had to fight all of our lives. And it`s a good thing that we can talk to each other across generations.

MELBER: Prizes are a funny thing. I don`t imagine you focused on them but there are people who criticize as Nobel, the Pulitzer for handing them out to musicians. Do you think it should only go to traditional novelists and poets or musicians as well?

WALKER: I -- I`m not crazy about prizes you knows, so whoever wants them should have them and people who could do without them should do without them.

MELBER: We talked about the Color Purple to think that there was two talented people who happen to be black women Oprah and Whoopee who`d never been cast in a film before they adapted your films. Is that part of it matter to you?

WALKER: That did. That was very good and I was very happy about that. But I`m just saying that the real joy comes from doing the work, it doesn`t really come from the prize.

MELBER: That`s something I think that`s inspiring about you, and it comes through very much sitting across the table from you. It is obvious to observe but I will observe it that that`s something that you and the president do not have in common. He tends to brag a lot. But he does claim to be smart and educated. This is the only a quoting of the president were going to do but I`ll play you one clip of President Trump.


TRUMP: I went to an Ivy League school, I`m very highly educated. I know words, I had the best words.


MELBER: What does it tell you that it`s important to him to be perceived as so smart.

WALKER: It tells me that he knows he probably is not and he has an inferiority complex and that`s very sad. But it`s even sadder that we elected him to lead. We definitely need a very different kind of leader. And in fact we actually made to lead ourselves. And until we do we probably won`t get very far.

MELBER: You say inferiority, I mean does it -- does the feeling of inferiority or a lack of self=-affirmation or love, does that in your view make people more dangerous when they come in contact with power or money?

WALKER: Yes because their luck -- there`s always envy. I mean, there`s always the feeling of need to measure up, you know. And I mean, you can see that between him and Barack Obama. I think that Envy there was just so blatant.

MELBER: That Donald Trump envied Barack Obama even though he started out with much more than Barack Obama.

WALKER: Of course, that`s part of the problem that he had everything and Barack as a black man was supposed to have nothing and said look what happened? He`s you know, all of those things that this President isn`t. And it`s very hard to take. But the answer is not to make us all suffer, it`s to go and improve yourself.

MELBER: Alice Walker, for me it`s an honor to have you here so I really appreciate you coming by.

WALKER: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you.

WALKER: Bless you.

MELBER: The book is "Taking The Arrow Out of the Heart."


MELBER: That does it for THE BEAT tonight. Thanks as always for watching. We`ll be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. Don`t go anywhere, though. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.



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