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Dems won more House seats this week. TRANSCRIPT: 11/9/2018

Guests: Shelby Holliday; Tony Schwartz; John Flannery; Tom Steyer; Carole King, George Clinton, Harry Smith

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 9, 2018 Guest: Shelby Holliday; Tony Schwartz; John Flannery; Tom Steyer; Carole King, George Clinton, Harry Smith

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: "The Beat" with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening Ari, and I think you missed the handoff I had at the top of my show? Didn`t you?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Not only did we not miss it, we were debating whether to run it back. I was honored by the shout out. I think we have it in the control room. It`s an important conversation.

TODD: I figured it would be would be to you.

MELBER: Here it is. Take a -- take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enter 36th Chamber by Wu Tang Clan and Mid-Knight Marauders by a tribe called Quest. Which of those you like better?

TODD: Wu Tang Clan, baby.


TODD: Come on, you don`t like that answer did you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Chuck Todd ain`t nothing to mess with.

TODD: All right, yes, yes. You know what, you need to hand this off, Melber is going to have a much stronger opinion on this than I will.


TODD: Well?

MELBER: You were right. I would go Wu Tang.

TODD: Thank you.

MELBER: And Wu Tang said something about our electoral system at a non- partisan level that I think you might agree with, which is cash rules everything around me, green. That`s a problem I think in the system.

TODD: Green is everything, you are absolutely right, it ain`t red and blue, it`s all about the green.

MELBER: All about the green, Chuck, we`ll be watching this weekend as always. Thank you for the handoff. We are covering several developing stories right now. Florida is heading it looks like for a recount. We will have the latest live from Steve Kornacki on "The Beat" tonight. That should be interesting. The elections and their fallout continue. And the indisputable blue wave. You know who else is here? The one and only Lawrence O`Donnell, my friend and colleague and he`s going to discuss what it means that the democrats literally picked up more seats than they have in 40 years.

Then a special fallback, I was talking Wu Tang with Chuck Todd. Tonight on this show I have George Clinton from Funkadelic, Carole King, and Harry Smith for a very special fallback Friday so a lot that I hope you`ll stick around with us for. But we begin with two stories that are intersecting and involve Donald Trump`s 2016 campaign and increasing legal pressure.

The first, the "Wall Street Journal" tonight with new details on Trump`s central role in payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that includes an personal ask he made to a tabloid executive. Donald Trump meeting with David Pecker in Trump Tower, this is while he was a presidential candidate and guess what he did? He said he needed help, not just any help, but help for the campaign. And Pecker said in response that they could use "The National Enquirer" to buy the silence of women who had made accusations against Trump. These details emerge as Trump`s guilty former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who of course arranged those deals is cooperating with Bob Mueller. Meanwhile what you see on your screen are the efforts to protect Mueller from Donald Trump`s new pick at the DOJ, Matthew Whitaker.

Thousands marching, this is in cities all over the country last night, a big story you may not have heard about; newly empowered democrats promising to hold Donald Trump accountable.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: He should recuse himself. To be frank with you, I`m shocked that he has not already recused himself. He is the absolute wrong person to have in this position.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D) CALIFORNIA: This person does not -- should not be there because of the statements he`s made already.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there is any effort to obstruct or subvert justice here, we will find out about it.


MELBER: Trump today down playing any reports that he picked Whitaker because of his past criticism of the Mueller probe.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Matt Whitaker, I don`t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whittaker worked for Jeff Sessions and he was always extremely highly thought of and he still is. But I didn`t know Matt Whitaker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you talk with Matt Whitaker at all about the Mueller probe?

TRUMP: I didn`t speak to Matt Whitaker about it. I don`t know Matt Whitaker.


MELBER: The president says he doesn`t know Matt Whitaker, which if you think about it isn`t even a good way to explain why you picked someone. And we`ve shown you reports this week that Trump saw Whitaker as a proven loyalist on these Russia issues, he wouldn`t recuse himself from the Russia probe. But let`s let someone else do some of the fact checking.


TRUMP: Well, Matt Whitaker, I don`t know Matt Whitaker.

I can tell you Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.


MELBER: I mean I know Matt Whitaker. Some other people that know Matt Whitaker and are covering the story join me right now. Shelby Holliday reporting for "The Wall Street Journal," the publication that`s been all over this story; Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project and co-author of "The Art of the Deal" and "The Way We`re Working Isn`t Working"; and former Federal Prosecutor, John Flannery. Good evening to all of you; we have a lot going on. I`m going do it like this. Shelby, what are we learn something? John what are the legal implications? And, then Tony, what is going through Trump`s mind, a mind you know well?

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER FOR "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well today the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that President Trump was at the center of these two hush money payments we`ve known about for a while, thanks to my colleagues at "The Journal." But he personally directed not just the hush money payment to Carol McDougal by calling his buddy David Pecker who runs "The National Enquirer" and saying, "Hey I need you to take care of this." But he also directed Michael Cohen to pay Stormy Daniels, and that`s a new detail because Cohen, for a very long time, said, "I did this personally. I`m Trump`s fixer. I do things for him and he didn`t even know about it." Now we know President Trump in October of 2016, weeks before the election said, "Get it done Michael," and Michael wired Stormy Daniels` lawyer the $130,000.

Also alongside this story, we have this big video and it shows you what Trump was doing privately while things were playing out on his campaign. So in August when he was saying that Megyn Kelly has blood coming out of her wherever, he is meeting privately with Pecker to silence women. When allegations start surfacing that he had sexual misconduct and beauty queens started accusing him, he actually asked David Pecker to pay off Karen McDougal. So it was just a fascinating timeline to see what he was doing in public, doubling down on his treatment of women, doubling down on his comments while privately he was working very hard to silence these women.


JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s going to be very hard for Mr. Trump to compromise the southern district investigation. It`s not under the guise of the special counsel investigation. But a good friend of mine on the Hill, we discussed this and we agreed that Gotti couldn`t choose his own DA, but why does Trump get to do so? I mean he has a better organized crime setup than Gotti ever had and that`s what he`s doing. He does what common criminals do. I don`t know that guy that`s going to help me. I don`t know that prosecutor. It doesn`t matter he`s incompetent.

MELBER: Let me push you on that and I`ll let you keep going. Donald Trump has displayed a kind of gangster mentality in trying to be above the law by corrupting the law. Having said that, we`re on the news here, you`re making a good comparison. John Gotti was credibly accused of having people murdered. That`s not on the table here.

FLANNERY: No, we`re not accusing him of murder. We`re only accusing him of subverting the sense of America`s sense of fair play and justice and law and order. To the few thugs that Gotti destroyed, what he`s doing is so much more significant to the country. To those of us who believed that the words that we`re all equal and this is a diverse population and that law matters and that we have an orderly set of three departments, one of which is not even recognized according to the acting AG. In the sense that from the moment of Marbury against Madison, a federalist chief justice has served for 35 years. That the court would decide what was Constitutional or not and this acting AG says that he wouldn`t follow that; he doesn`t believe Marbury against Madison is right.

How would he ever instruct the Solicitor General? How would he decide cases to follow? And this is without going into his conflicts expressing opinions about an investigation that presumably he has no access to because his boss, the outgoing AG, was supposed to stay away from that.

MELBER: Right. But before we go to Tony on the Trump reaction, you bring this up. A lot of viewers will remember during the Bush Administration, there was a lot of talk about the so called "theories of the unitary executive" or the idea that a president on their own can somehow make law, override law, that there`s a law against torture but then George W. Bush could somehow order people tortured. Let me read from again, this new acting AG`s own writings and statements John. He said, "Well the court is supposed to be the inferior branch of our three branches of government." I got to tell you, notwithstanding Russia and everything else, it is wild to see a lawyer now leading the Justice Department even on an acting basis who says that when we all know - everyone knows the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch which also has the last word on what the law means.

FLANNERY: Right. And the significant advances as we perfected the union from the original promise of equality to include women and to include blacks and to free salves and to give the vote to people has all been as a result of amendments and being interpreted by the Supreme Court and the Constitution. In recent times, as recent as 1954 when we did Brown against Board of Education and said separate wasn`t equal was revolutionary to advance that perfection. And we have a person in the West Wing who is biased and racist and bigoted and he can`t stand women and he can`t basically stand anybody but a white male who wants to have a gun and wants to speak out and discriminate against these groups.

MELBER: But John how do you.

FLANNERY: That`s not America and that`s not republican.

MELBER: How do you - how do you feel about Donald Trump?

FLANNERY: I`m not one of those people that believe there is redemption for Mr. Trump. I think redemption for America is to rid us of Mr. Trump. That`s what I think.

MELBER: There you have it. Tony Schwartz, John Flannery speaking clearly.

TONY SCHWARTZ, AUTHOR AND CEO OF THE ENERGY PROJECT: I don`t know how to upstage that.

MELBER: I don`t know you can but we are standing here tonight watching these two stories, these two types of pressure crash on Donald Trump; the electoral pressure of a blue wave which we have been covering and we`re going to explain further in our hour tonight and then the legal pressure. What`s going through his mind? What are we going to see?

SCHWARTZ: Well I think you saw what he was feeling in real time during his news conference earlier in the week. When you saw that he just feels overwhelmed by what`s going on and he couldn`t contain his anger. They wrote in a statement, he read a few sentences of it and blew up and what he said essentially was, come after me and I`m going to war.

You know, he hasn`t had to be in a war because he`s controlled all the troops up until now. Now the war is about to begin and it`s a civil war. I mean it`s a here we are 150 years later and we`re back in a civil war. I mean it`s the red against the blue; it`s the south against the north; it`s Trump against the democrats, and we`re going to see, I think, war footing and I think the democrats feel as if they have no choice but to do that. I wouldn`t necessarily disagree with that. But I also think that there`s kind of got to be a balance between fighting that war and creating a narrative that is not simply pulling every single Trump Administration figure before a committee even though I know that`s going to happen.

MELBER: Let me push you on what we saw this week based on your knowledge of Trump. How much of what he did since the election results came in and for all his lying and for all of his spin and his efforts to distract. The distraction efforts, themselves, tell you that he knows it was bad because he`s trying to get away from it.

So there is that thing where people say, is he confused? He`s into conspiracies? No, Donald Trump knows how exactly big the blue wave is because he pays attention. It makes him look unpopular again. He doesn`t like that and he`s throwing around everything he can do from a long press conference to the Sessions thing. With your knowledge of him, was that all pre planned?

SCHWARTZ: Was his reaction, you know all the things he did, including on calling on Jim Acosta in the press conference so he can use him as a whipping boy, which, of course, seems to have backfired. I do believe it was -- I certainly believe he was prepared for it. I think now what you will see is he is going to, as he always does.

MELBER: You`re good.

SCHWARTZ: There you go. I think as he always does, he`s going to -- he`s going to double down and you are going to see -- you are going to see much, much more anger and much more impulsiveness and it`s going to be an ugly period.

MELBER: When this type of story comes back in the news Shelby, and your paper is reporting says quite simply, Donald Trump was lying from the jump. That`s what your reporting in your paper says?

HOLLIDAY: Payments, yes.

MELBER: This brings back another character back into the news, you know who I`m talking about.

HOLLIDAY: Michael Cohen?

MELBER: Close, his opponent.

HOLLIDAY: Hillary Clinton, Bob Mueller, I mean it brings back a lot of these guys.

MELBER: Colder, you`re getting colder. The other person on the other side of the table of Michael Cohen, the other lawyer in these cases?

SCHWARTZ? Avenotti.

HOLLIDAY: The other lawyer, Michael Avenotti.

MELBER: Avenotti.

HOLLIDAY: Oh, it didn`t even dawn on me.

MELBER: Queue it up let`s take a look, this is today.


MICHAEL AVENATTI: I don`t think that that argument passes the smell test in this case, because according to "Wall Street Journal" report, Michael Cohen and Donald Trump had communication along with others for the specific intent of covering up this payment so it could not be traced back to Donald Trump. That is not legal. That is illegal under campaign finance law. There is no question that Donald Trump conspired with Michael Cohen to commit a felony.


HOLLIDAY: So there are a lot of legal questions here but one of them is, were these payments illegal. Some say yes, Michael Cohen has already pleaded guilty to them and he said he made these payments at the direction of his boss, therefore, implicating President Trump in a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. But other people say no, you know, step back look at the John Edwards case. Maybe President Trump has a legitimate reason for paying off these women that wasn`t related to his campaign. But if you look at the details in "The Journal" story today, it does seem very clear that these payments were made to help his campaign. And that, as you pointed out, that`s the reason why he met with Pecker in 2015 in the first place. What can you do to help my campaign?

I would also point out that when my colleague, Rebecca(ph), asked him at the White House recently, did you know about these payments, did you direct them. President Trump says, nobody cares. That`s his reaction now.

MELBER: Tony Schwartz, my final question is you looking at Donald Trump as someone who may not know a lot about a lot but definitely digs in deep when it affects him. How is he going to, in your view, approach democrats who have real subpoena power in a system that he doesn`t fully yet understand?

SCHWARTZ: I think notwithstanding the gesture that he made to Nancy Pelosi, who we can sense he has considerable fear about, I think he`s going to be angry, aggressive and unrelenting.

MELBER: Tony Schwartz, Shelby Holliday, and John Flannery. My thanks to each of you. Coming up, midterms, lawsuits and what it could mean for another Florida recount, officials still counting ballots. Steve Kornacki is here. Trump got it wrong on election night; the blue wave actually getting bluer and its historic. Lawrence O`Donnell here to talk about how the democrats could win even more seats and we`re rolling out the tape that`s going to show Lindsey Graham owning himself and his epic flip flop on Trump firing Jeff Sessions. And then what I told you about at the top of the show, "Living Legends" edition of Fall Back Friday with George Clinton, Carole King, and our own Harry Smith. I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching "The Beat" on MSNBC.


MELBER: Florida, Florida, Florida, that was Tim Russert`s iconic WhiteBoard moment that many remember from the 2000 election, well we`re going for another version of that tonight because the contentious Senate race between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Governor Rick Scott could be heading to a recount in that key state. Scott suing the election supervisor send law enforcement that he oversees he says to investigate them.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R) FLORIDA SENATE NOMINEE: Every day since the election the left wing activists if Broward County have been coming up with more and more ballots out of nowhere. I will not sit idly by while the unethical liberals try to steal this election from Florida.


MELBER: That`s one big state, then in Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams prepping her legal fight. There could be a runoff there, and then in Arizona tonight, Democrat Krysten Sinema, taking the lead; GOP leaders now asking a court to intervene and stop the counting of early ballots. Make you feel like election day is still going because it is still going and who better than our own Steve Kornacki, of course MSNBC`s national political correspondent and if I may Steve, a nerd heartthrob across the land on Tuesday night. Tell us everything we need to know tonight.

STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes it is, election night really is still going on, Ari. Start in Florida here, so look the governor`s race, Andrew Gillum did concede on election night but that margin you see, 0.4 percent, automatic machine recount now because it`s under 0.5 percent. There are some provisional ballots that will be counted the next day. We expect that gap will narrow a little though again, he`s still more than 30,000 votes behind. But where it really does start to get interesting is the Senate race because you see the margin there. Bill Nelson is only 15,000 behind Scott and with the provisionals, again I think that could get closer. You are close enough now. It`s not a recount, it`s going to be a manual recount.

They take the ballots out; they inspect them by hand. In the Senate race in Florida, there`s also this issue out there in Broward County, the big democratic bastion here where Nelson is winning more than two-to-one. It looks like the design of the ballot in Broward County may have put the Senate race off in a corner potentially costing Nelson a couple of thousand votes. That could be crucial statewide when you just look at the result there. Also Georgia in the governor`s race you mention here. There are still about 20,000 provisional ballots to be counted. There is an unknown number of absentee ballots that are out there too.

The Abrams campaign is optimistic about those. They need to get Kemp under 50 percent. That would force this race into a runoff. There are also as you mention, there are all sorts of legal issues popping up there as well. And then in Arizona, I`ll tell you what. Here`s where things stand. Sinema got the lead last night as some of these votes were counted and added in. Still though, there are like 450,000 outstanding votes in Arizona yet to be tabulated. We expect tonight we`re going to get a few more of those reported in. The vote that`s coming in tonight we expect is likely to favor Sinema. The question is can she build up enough of a lead that when the final votes that were delivered on election day are counted and expected to be more favorable to McSally, can she withstand that comeback from McSally?

MELBER: Steve Kornacki with the numbers and a lot of races yet to be decided. Thank you. We`ll be turning to you continuously. Now we go to a man who played a big role in these midterms. You may have heard of him progressive billionaire Tom Steyer, a big donor to the democrats. In fact, he contributed at least $51 million to democrats and related causes this cycle, outspending other people you see there and he was the second biggest donor among both parties after Sheldon Adelson. That makes you a pretty big player.

TOM STEYER, BILLIONAIRE DEMOCRATIC SUPPORTER: Well Ari, we aren`t really a donor. What we do is we try to organize young people - voters between 18 and 35 to extend the democracy to get the broadest possible democracy and to get the right answers from the most Americans.

MELBER: Look, I feel you on that and far be it from me to argue too much with a billionaire; you know what you`re talking about but what we mean by that is you, Sheldon, you guys are some of the people who have a lot of money that impacts these elections, let`s start there. Did you get a good return on investment? Do you think your money is part of this blue wave?

STEYER: Well what we`re trying to do as I was saying Ari, is to make sure that we extended the electorate, that more people, particularly young people who voted at half the rate of other American citizens and overlooked communities participated. So on that basis let`s say two things, there was a record turnout by people between the ages of 18 and 29 ever. That age group voted at a higher rate than it has ever since 18 year olds were allowed to vote in 1971 and if you look nationwide at all of the votes, democrats versus republicans, in the House of Representatives. So every congress person was up for election, 435. So that`s the purest popular vote in the United States.

MELBER: Sure. We were covering that last night.

STEYER: Democrats beat republicans by more than 7 percent. So if this was a referendum on Donald Trump and his administration, he got creamed.

MELBER: I think that`s - I think that`s what the numbers show. You mention young people turning out. It was also overall the highest mid-term turnout in 50 years. Do you see that as a reaction to Trump? You just talked about a rejection of Trump or do you see that as a wider liberal coalition that`s being built?

STEYER: Well I think it`s both, Ari. Because I think there is no doubt that this president was on the ballot. He said, literally, pretend I`m on the ballot and I think for everybody going to the polls, they knew that at some level they were casting a judgment on what I think is this radical right wing group that has taken over Washington, D.C., so that`s unquestionable true.

But our point always was, that more than half of American citizens don`t normally vote in a mid-term. So what we were trying to do was to go to those people, the people that don`t think the system works for them, the people who don`t think that political parties tell the truth and try and encourage them to participate, to show their power, to vote so that we get a better answer and we really think that happened on Tuesday.

MELBER: And you`ve been using your power to advocate that democrats should impeach this president. What is the high crime in your view that would justify that?

STEYER: Oh my gosh, Ari. I think the two most obvious. We asked Constitutional scholars and they came up with nine but I`ll give you the two that are the most obvious. One is just corruption. It says in the Constitution that the president can never take a payment from a foreign country and this president takes payments from a foreign countries every single day. He`s for sale; they know it and they`re buying. That`s the so called Emoluments Clause and it`s obviously true on a daily basis.

The second is obstruction of justice and if you look at the last three days, just the last three days. It`s happened since he got into office but in t he last three days, he`s fired the Attorney General and put in an acting Attorney General who has publically written an op-ed saying the Mueller investigation should be reigned in that it`s out of control, that it is in effect the witch hunt.

MELBER: Right.

STEYER: . that Mr. Trump said and he also said, Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that if the House of Representatives performs it`s Constitutional function of oversight of this president, that if the democrats do what the Constitution orders them to do as their job, that he will adopt a quote, "war-like stance towards them."

MELBER: Right and he`s going to investigate that McCarthy style. Look, Tom, you`ve been a great guest on our program. I think on the legal questions around impeachment, I don`t think we know whether you`re right because we have to see what Mueller finds and what the full report shows. On the blue wave, I think the facts back you up this week and your victory lap because we`ve seen that happen. I got to fit in a break. Tom Steyer, thank you very much.

STEYER: OK, Ari, thank you for having me.

MELBER: In 30 seconds Lawrence O`Donnell joins me on that very blue wave.


MELBER: Democrats roared this week crushing Donald Trump with the blue wave. They netted more than 40 years worth of House seats, the higest in 40 years and it`s been taking days to count all the votes. Tonight we see this edge is actually growing backing democrats by over 6 million votes, Americans did with a 6 percent margin; a wave election proving some predictions wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, there was some hope that the democrats would have a wave election, it`s not going to be a wave election.


MELBER: But it was going to be a wave election, a fact which is about to reshape Washington as we`ve been reporting on this show this week.


MELBER: Take a look at dem results in the past 40 years. This is the number of seats they won in every race when they won any seats, and right here, this is what they just won this week. You are looking at a projected 35 seats, the largest gain for democrats in four decades; more than any other election since the democratic wave against Nixon who was historically unpopular because of his criminal presidency.


MELBER: If these facts we have been reporting depart from what you hear elsewhere this week, that`s because Donald Trump and his allies have been down playing and lying about the results.


TRUMP: We won a lot of elections last night. We did very well last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was not the blue wave that a lot of people predicted.

REP. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: This is probably a rare opportunity to see McConnell smile. It is indeed a good morning for Senate Republicans.


MELBER: A lot of that is spin, as Bob Dillon once explains, Once a falsehood is out there the newspapers all go along for the ride.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d have to say when you look at what`s going on here tonight, this is not a blue wave. This is not a wave that is knocking out all sorts of republican incumbents.


MELBER: That was on election night. Did we hear that right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a blue wave. This is not a wave that is knocking out all sorts of republican incumbents.

(END VIDEO) MELBER: The point here is, not which particular people missed the wave or hyped early predictions instead of waiting to see what the voters actually said. You could see the headlines, some of the best outlets in the press did that, including "The Washington Post," and we rely on their reporting all the time.

All of this matters because some in the media still don`t get it. The media mistake of 2016 was not predicting the race in the wrong direction, it was trying to predict the outcome at all. And now if pundits think their mistake was underestimating Trump in their predictions and they`re correcting that by underestimating the blue wave in their predictions, guess what, they`re all still predicting instead of listening. But when we listen to the voters who we only get to hear from every two or four years, we can hear them rejecting Trump and choosing Democrats in every Presidential race here in the past 26 years except one and choosing Democrats and rejecting Trumpism roundly this week.

I now turn to Lawrence O`Donnell, Host of "THE LAST WORD." Thanks for joining me. When you see the Blue Wave this large and some people watching as you know thinking gosh that wasn`t what it sounded like we were hearing Tuesday and Wednesday, why is that?

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: It`s because, Are, we have this whole new sensation about what it feels like when the House of Representatives changes power. The first time in my lifetime, in my lifetime that that happened where I watched the House of Representative change power was in -- the 1994 election. For 40 years, 40 years before that, the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and there was every reason to think they were going to control the House of Representatives forever.

Ever since 1994 we`ve seen the House now go back and forth and in relatively short spans of time compared to the older pattern and so people have started to get the idea that it is easy in the House of Representative. It is the hardest thing you can do in politics by far especially when the party in power is capable of the kind of gerrymandering we`ve seen.

MELBER: Right.

O`DONNELL: This is really 21st-century gerrymandering. Remember, when they were trying to do -- when Democrats are trying to gerrymander the House as they were in areas where they were in control of in the in the 20th century, they didn`t have computer modeling, they didn`t have all of the assets and all of the incredible microdata about the individual voters who live in the different neighborhoods as they were carving those things up. So these are -- the Republicans, the 21st century Republicans are the best gerrymanderers in history and the Democrats had to run against that and somehow pull out a win.

And the other thing we`ve seen is even where they didn`t pull out wins, they made every Republican in the country suddenly feel insecure. If you can`t feel secure and safe as a Republican Senator in Texas, then you are not safe anywhere. You`re not supposed to squeak one out in Texas if you`re -- if you`re the Republican Senator. You`re not supposed to you know, be in any kind of tight race as a Republican running statewide in Georgia. That`s not supposed to be an erection in any of that. And so these are massive changes and you know, people -- Republicans who used to win with 20-point margins are not worried about in their next reelection. Am I going to -- you have a two-point margin. That`s a real life change for Republicans.

MELBER: And so you just laid out those fundamentals including the gerrymandering, the computer modeling, the things that obviously the Founders had no idea it could be abused by politicians so they could pick the voters, even against that you get a forty year record pick up. Then what about the other fundamentals because you and I know on these election nights there`s so much swirling around that you`re kind of in deep in the weeds. When you pull back on the fundamentals this week, what do you think about the fact that the Democrats delivered this against a reasonably good economy, a reasonably low unemployment rate and in an environment where in many states there were very credible efforts at Republican voter suppression?

O`DONNELL: Well, that -- the economy is kind of the biggest ignored component of this whole thing. James Carville who we saw in your clips there, is very famous, created that line now that just lives in an iconic space in politics. It`s the economy stupid. That was what he had written in the so-called war room of the Clinton campaign in 1992, the winning campaign, stay on the economy, a presidential campaign is all about the economy, in effect politics is all about the economy. Well, not now because you couldn`t have better economic statistics.

So what were those voters voting against? What was it that these voters were rising up against? It wasn`t the economy, it was Donald Trump. It was Trumpism. It was the party that used to call itself the Republican Party that is now the Trump party. It was a resistance to all of that.

MELBER: Before I let you go, Michelle Obama doesn`t get political or specific all that often. She does other broader things. But in her new book, she says directly that Trump`s xenophobic birther attacks which you and many others have confronted his racist attacks is something she will simply never forgive him for.

O`DONNELL: And she should never forgive him and the press should never forgive itself for the way it allowed it to go on. The second Donald Trump started talking about Barack Obama`s birth certificate on my program, I called him a liar and I said what he was doing was lying and that word, that word that I was using lie and liar was not acceptable in the American news media. The New York Times never said, never said that Donald Trump was lying about that and 99 percent of the news media never said he was lying about that, and Donald Trump learned the lesson.

He could lie, he could get away with it, and the news media would not even call it a lie. They were afraid to call it a lie. And so Barack Obama and his family were left to deal with this versus the crazy Trump machine and it was the -- it was the lie that ignited the entire raging madness of Trumpism that we live with now. And I blame the news media for failing to confront the foundational lie of Trumpism about that birth certificate.

MELBER: Well, look, you`ve served in government, you`ve embedded into the media obviously, but I think it`s useful for us to consider as we look at these problems, one of the themes across everything we just discussed is what happens that the media gets pulled along or becomes an agent of intolerance or lies because that is a problem then for civil society. Lawrence O`Donnell, thank you for making time for me. We`ll be watching you tonight 10:00 p.m. on "THE LAST WORD" as always. And coming up, "FALLBACK FRIDAY" with Carole King, George Clinton, and Harry Smith, but first we have very special look at Lindsey Graham confronted on Fox News with his own words about Jeff Sessions straight ahead.


MELBER: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham does a lot of interviews and that means he has to confront his own lengthy interview record.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If Jeff Session is fired, there will be Holy Hill to pay. Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.


MELBER: Holy hell, the beginning of the end, but look at Lindsey Graham just last night on Fox News when confronted with that very clip.


MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Given where we are now, what do you say now?

GRAHAM: So when was that? What year?

MACCALLUM: July of 2017. Things have changed.

GRAHAM: So I think Mr. Whitaker was a good pick. I think he`s going to be as fair as impartial as Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were. The bottom line is this is a hysteria more than it is anything else.


MELBER: Graham trying to laugh that off but it`s not funny to most people and in terms of Graham`s views on Trump, let`s be clear, he has abandoned his own publicly stated repeated convictions in exchange for what looks like now a certain proximity to being with Trump.


GRAHAM: I didn`t use a kook. I think he`s crazy. I think he`s unfit for office.

And listen, attempt to label the guy`s some kind of kook, not fit to be President --

I don`t believe he`s a Republican. His policies are really bad for the country.

Number one, I agree with him mostly.

He`s a jackass.

I like the President. I want to help him.

Trump`s foreign policies that complete disaster.

What President Trump has done is historic. It deserves a Nobel Peace Prize and then some.


MELBER: And then some. I want to be clear. There are many Americans who generally support Donald Trump and there are plenty of reasons for them to feel that way and for all of us to try to debate politics civilly. But what we`re seeing here is important because as Senator Lindsey Graham descends deeper into pure self-caricature of craven political hypocrisy, he has come to personify the hollowing out of a significant portion of the leadership of the Republican Party.


GRAHAM: He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.

No I don`t think he`s a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot as president.



MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and that means it`s time to "FALLBACK." We have a very special "FALLBACK" combo tonight. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Winner, the one and only George Clinton. He led the bands Parliament and Funkadelic, Rolling Stone named his work to one of the best albums list of all time. Clinton has also collaborated across genres Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tupac, and you`ve been sampled in literally hundreds of modern songs. Another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Carole King, a four-time Grammy Winner, a Kennedy Center Honoree, over 25 million albums sold, amazing, amazing career. And we have another Award winner at the table.


MELBER: NBC`s Harry Smith is an Emmy Award-Winning Reporter. He`s interviewed Barack Obama and Margaret Thatcher and reported from all over the world and he`s my colleague. Thanks to all of you. George, who needs to fall back?

GEORGE CLINTON, SINGER: Oh, I want a fall back on whoever supposed to pay teachers. I think teachers work harder than you do no matter what you do, and for some reason did not treat it like lawyers or doctors. I think they should be that important. That`s always been my "FALLBACK." I think it`s just as good as the Defense Department. You know, teachers making sure that we are taught to make decisions, to understand what we`re getting ourselves into.

MELBER: They used to have that poster that said maybe the Pentagon should hold more bake sales and teachers should get enough money from the government.


MELBER: Now Carole, you`re also a legend, you`re also Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, although on the street we would -- we would recognize George Clinton first as a clearly the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. She was one of the first that I knew of when I started writing songs with the Shirelles in Passaic, New Jersey when they used to rehearse, my mama told me -- mama --

CAROLE KING, SINGER: Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

CLINTON: Yes, Will You Love Me Tomorrow. Yes.

KING: Yes.

MELBER: I like that. There`s going to be a collabo right here.

CLINTON: We used to go to the Apollo and sit there all day and watch her song. And then when Tapestry came out it stayed on the charts forever.

KING: George, can I take you on the road with me.


MELBER: I guess we`re going to talk a little music before we get to your "FALLBACK." Tapestry is one of those albums that people never stop buying and never stop listening to.

CLINTON: Forever.

MELBER: Forever ever?

CLINTON: Forever ever. (INAUDIBLE) in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Chili Peppers who was one of mine.

KING: Well, I groove -- I groove to George so you know, when I`m on vacuum or something like that, I put on a little bit of --

SMITH: We got the funk.

CLINTON: That`s so simple.

MELBER: Carole, who needs to fall back?

KING: Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior needs to fall back. And I want to say that like with all these bells and whistles going on coming out of the administration, no one`s paying that much attention to the environment but Ryan Zinke has this thought that he`s putting in for permission. Normally departments have to give all their records to the National Archives and Ryan Zinke wants to have permission to destroy records so he definitely needs to fall back. I`m bringing this up because people can comment, the public nationally can comment until November 26 because you can, you should.

MELBER: Harry, who needs to fall back in your view?


MELBER: Good one.

SMITH: But, this is -- honestly -- no, no every time you go someplace and people say have you seen this thing, have you seen -- have you seen the streaming of this and the streaming of that and HBO, and Hulu, and Netflix, and whatever and it`s like too much. It`s like too much. So I did an interview with Julia Roberts a week or two ago which is this amazing show called Homecoming. It`s really, really, really terrific. But I`m not sure I would have gotten to it had I not been out to interview her, right? And so -- but everybody talks -- and the -- just like it`s too much.

CLINTON: I watch you guys like streaming.

KING: I was going to say --

CLINTON: All day long.

MELBER: Streaming.

CLINTON: Yes, I stream on my phone or home on T.V. I`m looking at you guys all the time.

MELBER: Well, a lot of people don`t know when you said put a glide in your stride and come onto the mother ship, you were talking about MSNBC the mother ship.

CLINTON: As a matter of fact, here you go. I know he was going to have a glide in your stride.

MELBER: Funk power --

CLINTON: P-Funk Power.

MELBER: P-Funk Power and the (INAUDIBLE) these are beautiful.

CLINTON: I just make sure you got them.

MELBER: Let me -- so what do we got. What`s the dog, Parliament- Funkadelic?

CLINTON: That`s Medicaid Fraud Dogg.

MELBER: Medicaid Fraud Dogg.

CLINTON: He`s the -- that was going to be my second "FALLBACK" but --

MELBER: Go ahead. Tell -- hold on. Tell me about the Medicaid Fraud Dogg.

CLINTON: Pharmaceutical companies, the government, and insurance companies are in cahoots together. Educate yourself on the connection between meds, you know, ObamaCare insurance companies and lobbyists, they run the -- they`ve run this country. It`s one nation under sedation. And the only thing people know about drugs is street drugs, but they just -- they just put out another opioid yesterday that`s stronger than the other one than the other one. And they have they are the dope dealers of today but they doing it in a legal way that most of us are sedated some kind of weight legally, illegally and nobody pays any attention to it. So the dope dog, he`s sniffing up the money that you know, they make on the drugs.

MELBER: I think you could get more people paying attention the Medicaid issue. We talk about health care was on the big issue --

CLINTON: That`s the biggest issue.

MELBER: -- when people went out to vote. After all this other drama, I have another question for you for real which is how do you stay funky? You are like an ageless cool.

CLINTON: Watch your kids. The music they get on your nerves, that`s the new funk, that`s always the music, the music that you hate. You give yourself a minute and learn to like it, you in the game again.

MELBER: And how did -- you said in the game, how did you feel when you were doing these collaborations, you were being sampled so much, your work at a second life in a third life with all these other artists.

CLINTON: Well, that was only way I can stay around to make sure that I`m around to be able to collect sooner or later. You will never get paid for that money.

MELBER: Did you -- would you say you made more off the samples than the original tours?

CLINTON: I haven`t made anything off the samples but I`m --

MELBER: This is what you were talking to Rev Sharpton about.

CLINTON: Right. I`m alive now so I have a chance to reinvent myself to figure a way to get paid, but up until now --

SMITH: So can I ask the question because I always wondered about that right, because you see the sampling, everybody is always kind of sampled, and creativity is all about -- there`s a no original idea you steal -- you steal -- Picasso said, if you`re going to steal, steal from the best.

CLINTON: It`s not stealing, they`re actually do -- the artists, actually I`m friends with them. They take the money from the artists but they still never give it to you.

SMITH: So that`s my question. If I hear that from you.

MELBER: The original --

SMITH: Do you ever get a dime of that?

CLINTON: For the most part myself no. Lots of people do, but you have to figure out a way because you don`t have enough money to fight the big companies.

MELBER: Any fan of yours would say that`s so messed up. Last question for each of you is you were in a period of a real civil rights women`s movement, cultural musical awakening. And then it felt like there was the 80s, there was greed, there was a lot of artists who sort of wanted to stay out of politics. Are we seeing re-emergence when you look at Taylor Swift and Beyonce and all these artists now talking about voting. Do you think it`s coming back to the way you guys started it out?

CLINTON: I do. I think it`s coming back and I`m glad to see it coming back because they actually took us backwards after the fights in the 60s. It went back to the two cars in a swimming pool, you know what I`m saying? And everybody forgot about voting. It was like I do it. They can see why I do it now, all you got to do is look at the government now. You can see why you should have done it.

KING: Never been a time like this, never. I mean it was bad -- we thought it was bad the Vietnam war and we women were fighting for our rights and African-Americans were fighting -- you know, everybody was fighting for their rights, but now everybody is you know, except --

MELBER: You think it`s worse the Vietnam? There a lot of kids who are being drafted off to get killed in Vietnam.

KING: I do think it`s worse than Vietnam because I think there`s a malevolence to it that I have never seen before.

MELBER: And what do you tell people who are worried that America is never going to be the same and we`re going in the wrong direction?

CLINTON: It`s going to change. It always change. The pendulum swings back and forth all the time.

SMITH: Exactly. It`s a cycle.

CLINTON: It`s going to change, but for right now it`s really bad.

KING: But all these people are getting a hurt while it`s waiting to change. That`s what`s killing me.

CLINTON: Oh yes. That`s the -- suffer, people will suffer. And it`s going to suffer more if you don`t think you have anything to do with it, or that you can`t change it. Because you know, somebody`s got to be a winner, and if the bad guys going to be the winner because you didn`t participate, that`s part of your fault. You know, because you can participate.

MELBER: Well, on that note, George Clinton, Carole King, Harry Smith, for a very funky "FALLBACK FRIDAY," my special thanks to each of you.

SMITH: Sorry, I wish I could have been more funky.

CLINTON: You are funky enough.




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