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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 10/4/22

Guests: Maya Wiley, Ezinma


GOP on defense after Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker allegedly paid for a woman`s abortion despite backing anti-abortion ban in the campaign. This as women`s rights dominating many midterm campaigns. Leadership Conference President and CEO Maya Wiley joins Ari Melber to talk about Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson schooling Alabama officials on Voting Rights Act. Donald Trump`s lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to get involved in this Mar-a-Lago case.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: For letting us into your homes during these extraordinary times. We are grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber. It is good to be back with you. And we`re tracking several stories this hour.

Donald Trump has just made his unusual appeal to the Supreme Court in the classified documents probe. I also have some important civil rights developments for you later tonight.

Our top story right now is how women`s rights and abortion continue to upend these midterms. It`s a story that in politics tonight has two lanes. First, the growing mobilization of women and women`s rights supporters eyeing the midterms as we have an election here that they say will be the chief way in the nation to oppose the overturning a Roe, a dynamic that you see on display here that already registered in the traditionally Republican state of Kansas.

It`s also an issue in many races around the nation. We are 35 days out from these midterms, and right now the scandal engulfing Republican Herschel Walker is in one race, but it tells a similar story as he faces this bombshell "Daily Beast" report which states that he has backed abortion in his own personal live, specifically funding an abortion for a woman in 2009, that was before the Supreme Court recently allowed states to ban abortions outright.

And it is that personal act that is exactly what Walker also claims to be running against. The "Beast," as you see here documents what he allegedly did to support abortion in his personal life, including an account from the woman involved and another source while he publicly claims the opposite and wants to take away that right from others. It is running -- he is running on this plan to ban abortion while he has been allegedly caught supporting it.

And so in its own personal scandalous way, it is an echo of the larger questions about who makes these decisions, whether this is really about what they say, religion and life, or whether this is something else entirely, a hypocritical effort to control other people`s bodies and not live by the same rules.

Now we showed you "The Beast" reporting. I have to tell you NBC has not independently verified that reporting, though "The Daily Beast" stands by their sources, while Walker is out denying the whole thing as a, quote, "lie."


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you know the woman that is making this allegation?

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have idea, but it is a flat-out lie, and now you know how important this seat is. This seat is very important that they`ll do anything to win this seat, lie, because they want to make it about everything else except what the true problems that we have in this country is. I can tell you right now, I never asked anyone to get an abortion, I never paid for an abortion, and it`s a lie.

HANNITY: What about the $700 check? Is there anybody you can remember sending that much money to?

WALKER: Well, I send money to a lot of people, and that`s what`s so funny.


MELBER: Now that`s his denial. Another source backing up some overlapping accounts is one of Walkers` own sons. He had actually stayed out of discussing this race until this story broke. Now he is releasing videos alleging misconduct by his father and calling him a liar. Walker`s campaign appears somewhat rattled. Some Georgia Republicans seeking distance from him.

It looks like the abortion issue is hurting Walker both for his personal hypocrisy. This is a scandalous type of story for someone running on his platform but also it just connects with what I`m telling you, the wider opposition to Republicans who are running on platforms to ban abortion. So this may favor Walker`s opponent, Raphael Warnock, who won his Senate seat in the 2020 special election in Georgia after Trump lost.

The evidence suggests the issue is much broader than one candidate`s personal scandal and that it cuts against Republicans well outside of moderate or so-called purple states. Women`s rights are upending a lot of premises right now about an election that we were told initially was supposed to favor Republicans. Today is actually 100 days since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade as many people continue to fight back.









UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Reproductive and trans rights.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: One struggle, one fight.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Reproductive and trans rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not one of us. You want to control women`s bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. Leave women alone. It`s my body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people across this state who died, who died because they don`t have access to reproductive health care.


MELBER: Those are people that we are listening to, that we are reporting on for you as you make up your own mind if you`re going vote in the midterms because it always must come back to people.


The Walker story may be important for the voters in his state to assess his consistency, his integrity, his truthfulness. The wider question, though, as I`m telling you tonight is playing out on all these different states, even with people who don`t necessarily have Mr. Walker`s bundle of alleged problems.

Let`s be clear, and I`ve mentioned this before, we are right now -- you are living through the first election in 50 years where total abortion bans are literally on the ballot in the United States. The scope of this backlash is becoming clearer because, again, I`ve gone out of my way to mention when we cover this issue, there are good faith differences of opinion in America. There are people who have strong views about life and religion and conception, and when does it all start? How do you make those decisions?

No one is saying that it is super easy, black and white, but the Supreme Court, backed by this version, this modern Republican Party, is making it so black and white that they are losing in states like Kansas over this issue because there are a lot of people of varying backgrounds, including people who might have the religious beliefs of lacking what is sometimes called a pro-life view that don`t think this should begin and end with the state with a bunch of politicians telling you what your rights are.

So maybe you get to make those decisions yourself. Or not. That`s what`s on the ballot. Now, the politics are suffused with all of this. The law is a function of politics in a functioning democracy. And there are Republicans in all kinds of states that seem to get this is a loser right now as we`re 35 days out. Take the Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, a fairly conservative state, scrubbing his Web site of what was described as, quote, "extreme anti-abortion stances."

That trend we`ve seen in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina, where folks are scrubbing the facts about the Republican Party`s opposition to abortion as they face this particular general electorate. But, boy, it gets harder to scrub the facts when bombshells are dropping on the major new school Republican candidates who are somehow supposed to help turn the page.

It appears the problem for the Republicans right now is that the page is open to that part of their platform that can`t be easily scrubbed. It`s the part that says abortion should be banned in all 50 states.

I`m joined now by "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg and Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist who has done polling for major candidates and former President Obama.

Michelle, your thoughts of what`s happening here?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, look, I think that Herschel Walker is so emblematic of what the Republican Party has become under Trump. You know, he`s not the only Republican who has either been accused or been shown to have paid for an abortion and remained in office. We know that Donald Trump refused to answer a question about whether or not he`d ever paid for an abortion. And so I think that what it`s changed is that, you know, with Donald Trump, when some of his scandals emerged during his first presidential campaign in 2016, the party was still capable of shame and still capable of believing that its base voters could be swayed by these sorts of things.

You remember you saw people running away from him after the "Access Hollywood" tape. That`s gone in the Republican Party, right. I mean, we all -- we saw Herschel Walker`s son turn on him, and Herschel Walker`s son, we should be clear, is a right-wing influencer. You know, he`s not kind of opposed to his dad`s politics. He`s opposed to his dad`s conduct. But he was, you know, pretty much alone.

A lot of the rest of the party has closed ranks around the candidate. I believe he had a record fundraising day. And so I think it shows a couple of things. It shows the rank hypocrisy. It also shows that this is not a party that actually believes that abortion is murder because even though -- you know, I think if you believe, if you truly believe that abortion is murder, you might be capable of making a pragmatic decision,

I`m going to vote for Herschel Walker because I want Mitch McConnell to be Senate majority leader. But people are completely unfazed. You know, they truly don`t care. If it owns the libs, they`re all for it.

MELBER: Hmm. Do you think then that the Republican Party has a Herschel Walker problem in these other states where he`s not running but, as you say, this is a pattern with, I guess, male politicians?

GOLDBERG: I think -- look, I think clearly the evidence is not just from the Kansas referendum, but there`s been a couple of special elections in which Democrats have outperformed and abortion has been at the forefront. I think it is just so galling to women, you know? And women of all sorts, but I think especially if you`ve been pregnant, if you sort of know what some of these milestones mean, if you know the kind of how thin the line sometimes is between a healthy pregnancy and some kind of, you know, disastrous outcome, to see these men, you know, Dr. Oz, Herschel Walker, Blake Masters.


The audacity of them thinking that they can make these decisions for women who they truly don`t care about, right. I mean, just the cynicism and the cruelty of it I think hits a lot of women even if they were never super attuned to electoral politics in other ways.

MELBER: Cornell, I hope people are hearing the clarity of Michelle`s analysis because it intersects with the policy question. Do you want the big government run by the politicians, who in many of these states are overwhelmingly male, making these decisions for other people? Or do you want the pre-Roe balance where there certainly was some regulation, but people could exercise largely over the time that they had, these decisions for themselves?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, listen, I hope that it`s that clear cut, but it`s often more variables at play in elections than that. I think, you know, I think progressives and a lot of women would like to make it simply about their freedom and reproductive freedom. But let`s be clear, Herschel Walker does in fact encapsulate all that as the Republican Party and Donald Trump right now. In fact, he in many ways is just like Donald Trump.

But I will remind you, Ari, that Donald Trump got 49.2 million votes in Georgia. He came awfully close to winning that state. So at some point, you know, the corruption, the immoral behavior, the lack of ethics, it all takes a backseat to larger questions of tribalism. And as long as Herschel Walker still is in their eyes their tribal warrior, going to be for their tribe, and is going vote in line for their tribe, for their larger tribal issues, he is going to get the vast majority if not over 90 percent of all those Donald Trump voters.

MELBER: Well, sure. Let me push you as an analyst --


MELBER: Let me push you and say, is he weaker today than he was last week?

BELCHER: No. Why is he weaker?

MELBER: Not at all? You don`t think?

BELCHER: He`s weaker to us, but again, how many votes did Donald Trump get in Georgia? And all these things that you lay at the feet of Herschel Walker, look, the anti-intellectualism, the lack of curiosity about policy, the abuse of women, all these things that we really want to matter to these voters, and in the end you got 49.2 million votes in Georgia and almost won.


BELCHER: So what`s going to be the difference? I think the difference is, do more of these young women who have not been involved in the process get more involved in the process. And I am still weary of that because right now, you know, Herschel Walker is tied, depending on the poll. Herschel Walker is either tied or up a point and it all depends on what the electorate is. And here`s the fundamental issue is when you look at non- college nonwhite women in Georgia, guess who they`re still backing more -- guess who`s the candidate they`re still backing? Right?

So it`s a real challenge. We`re going to answer this question in this election. Right. How strong is gender politics? Is gender politics able today to compete in Trump tribal politics? To me, that is a dividing line, particularly in Georgia, but also nationally.

MELBER: Yes. Well, and I know what you mean. I mean, the numbers are part of the reality, so we want people to understand that, and it`s a state that`s been red for a while and then took that turn. But when we say gender politics or human rights politics, a lot of social change in this country has come when people identify human rights as universal, not as oh, does this only affect you this time, and do you actually care about that or not? Does small government means small government or not?

I mean, those are big questions. So we`re only scratching the surface, but did want to hear from both of you on our lead story, Michelle Goldberg and Cornell Belcher. Thanks to both of you.

Coming up in the program, I have my breakdown on something that broke late in the day. Donald Trump trying to go to the Supreme Court. He thinks they may be able to help him with his classified documents problem. That`s new filing. We have that for you.

But coming up, investigators accused Donald Trump`s coup lawyer, Mr. Eastman, of hiding documents. We`re back in one minute.



MELBER: There will be a big January 6th Committee hearing next week. It could be the final hearing. And that means that there are some strands that are being pulled by this investigation as it gets closer to wrapping up, including one of the key coup architects, John Eastman, a former Trump lawyer who had his phone seized by the feds this summer. That was a sign that a lot of folks involved in these probes were looking at him as someone who at least potentially had criminal evidence on his phone, on his person.

Now the committee wants a judge to review over 500 documents that have not been produced saying that basically Eastman owed them from months ago. The committee is citing a batch of e-mails that Eastman had basically shielded, basically saying well, that`s the proof that he`s been improperly shielding other documents. That is just one person who worked directly for Trump.

Then you have these allies or enablers. Take Republican Senator Ron Johnson. You may recall that he has changed his story as the pressure mounted, which is a reminder that these investigations matter, that the facts do sometimes change what politicians do. It was this committee investigation that showed that Johnson`s top staffer was texting an aide to Mike Pence on January 6th trying to still get involved and somehow furnish materials that might have helped stage another element of the plan to overthrow the election.

This was the fake or fraudulent electors, and the idea was that there would be a go between, that Johnson would somehow give that to Pence. Now today we`re learning he was texting Trump`s attorney before and after the contact with the aide. Johnson tells NBC, well, the involvement there was just an hour, which is his way of reducing it. Of course an hour on January 6th matters a lot, and that is many, many more times that something he said a few months ago when he said it was just a few seconds.

If this is all ringing a little bit of bells, that`s because sometimes these reporters we show you who have that job of just kind of tracking people down while they`re also writing their stories and working sources, they`re onsite, and sometimes when they get up to someone on site, well, that creates more pressure. Mr. Johnson has tried to spin this many ways, but he found himself confronted by a journalist, and this happened.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How much did you know about what your chief of staff was doing with the alternate slates of electors?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I`m on the phone right now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: No, you`re not. I can see your phone. I can see your screen. Can you explain what your chief of staff was doing? Does your chief of staff still work for you, Senator?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you explain what happened there? Why was your chief of staff even offering this to the vice president?

JOHNSON: That`s a complete nonstory. We`ve issued a statement, and it`s a complete nonstory. I don`t know what you`re even concern about here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, you said that your chief of staff is saying that you offered -- you wanted to provide --

JOHNSON: No, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- an alternate electors of Michigan and Wisconsin to Vice President Mike Pence.

JOHNSON: This was a staff-to-staff exchange, and I was basically unaware of it, and the chief of staff contacted the vice president`s staff, said, do you want this? He said no, and we didn`t deliver, and that`s the end of story.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But why was he even asking for that?

JOHNSON: Because somebody delivered this to our office and asked to deliver that to the vice president.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you support his efforts to try to get those slates to the vice president?

JOHNSON: No, I had no knowledge of this. I had no knowledge of this. I had no knowledge of this.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who`s the person that delivered --

JOHNSON: You know, I had no involvement in an alternate slate of electors. I had no idea this would even be delivered to us. Got delivered staff to staff. My chief of staff did the right thing. Contacted the vice president`s staff. They said they didn`t want it, so we didn`t deliver it. That`s the end of story.


MELBER: Well, that`s not the end of the story. We wanted to show you that entire exchange, including shout-out to the reporter, because Mr. Johnson has changed his story. Meaning, if he`s telling the truth now, he wasn`t then.


Then he was claiming he had no knowledge of this. That it was all staff stuff, that he wasn`t involved. But the investigation has shown that he was intimately involved before and after, and not just talking to another random staffer, but the coup lawyer who we showed you had his phone searched.

Now it may be either Mr. Johnson never broke any laws and is just trying to duck and run from something he knows was bad, publicly, politically, or otherwise. But the facts do matter, and the lie -- and this is strange -- sometimes the lie helps reveal the truth. The truth is this was so bad that even in the MAGA-fied Republican Party, this year Ron Johnson wanted to run from this. He didn`t want credit for being the last guy doing the last failed part of the coup. And that`s why he claimed then that he had no knowledge of it.

And tonight the news is he had knowledge of it. He himself was, not staff to staff, but he was personally talking to Eastman about it, and if there`s more to this story, well, we`ll see if he keeps denying it because it would appear that he was one of the most involved senators in the thing that Georgia prosecutors now say they`re indicting people for, which is elector fraud, which, if you do it completely, is still a crime in United States of America.

We will keep on doggedly looking at the receipts and bringing them to you as they come together.

I wanted to give you that report. And let me tell you what else is coming up. Donald Trump going to the Supreme Court. New late today, the Mar-a-Lago case. Is this a great new legal move for him or something that could backfire? We`ve got that story for you coming up. And Justice Jackson`s powerful argument on a story that we`ve hit before. It is now back before the Supreme Court. What is left of America`s Voting Rights Act? It matters. Maya Wiley is here. That`s next.



MELBER: One of the pinnacles of the Civil Rights Movement in America came with the passing of the original Voting Rights Act, and it`s actually been renewed several times by both political parties in Congress. You look at Congress today, it may seem hard to believe, but it`s true. So, how did it get gutted? Well, for that it took the courts. Indeed, it was Chief Justice John Roberts leading the Supreme Court in 2013 who narrowed Martin Luther King`s seminal law in our history books.

Now, that same law is back before the Supreme Court today, which is why, as I mentioned, Maya Wiley is here. So it is worth knowing how that last round went when the court made it basically easier for governments to crack down on voting.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, FORMER MSNBC ANCHOR: As one reporter put it today, the U.S. Supreme Court has driven a stake through the heart of the most important civil rights law ever enacted, the Voting Rights Act.

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: The cornerstone of American civil rights law. I am deeply disappointed, deeply disappointed with the court`s decision.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: With the reigns off, Republican governors and state legislatures are already today -- the day of the ruling -- rolling out a new round of ways to make voter harder.

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On the surface it may appear neutral, have the effect of discouraging people from voting.

SEN. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): We`ve come too far, made too much progress to go back.


MELBER: That ruling did set voting rights back. And now today a Supreme Court with more Republican appointees is -- scrutinizing, I should say, how state officials, Republican politicians have drawn or distorted the voting districts in the very red state of Alabama. They basically are accused of artificially cornering most of the state`s black voters into just one of seven total districts under this redistricting.

Now that is not proportionate considering the black voters comprise about a third of what would be those states` districts. Alabama Republicans insist that the map is simply neutral. That was their defense in court today.

The Voting Rights Act was passed to try to stop the suppression of black voters, just as earlier constitutional amendments try to redress some of America`s well-known racist history. So it was interesting today, the first black woman to ever serve on this Supreme Court, Justice Jackson, questioned this basic Alabama defense that those earlier amendment were somehow neutral on race.

She noted the historical record shows that the reason those very amendments were passed was because the U.S. had been denying black people the same civil rights of white citizens at the time, as she explained today.


JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I don`t think that the historical record establishes that the founders believed that race neutrality or race blindness was required, right? They drafted the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which specifically stated that citizens would have the same civil rights as enjoyed by white citizens. That`s the point of that act, to make sure that the other citizens, the black citizens, would have the same as the white citizens, so they recognized that there was unequal treatment.


MELBER: We have really one of the most renowned guests you could get for this exact discussion, Maya Wiley is an attorney. She ran for mayor of New York and she is the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Thanks for being here.


MELBER: Important case, what should we glean even for people watching who are not lawyers and not studying every aspect of oral argument from that exchange from the justice?

WILEY: You know, first of all, I just want to say, as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson`s first argument, she demonstrated exactly why she was a highly qualified candidate, deserved that nomination, and how important it was to have someone like her on the bench. Because what is at stake, fundamentally, is whether we acknowledge that Congress and our constitution has said, we got to make this a fair country for everyone in it.

And unless we ensure folks a fair opportunity to vote for leaders who will represent their interests, their concerns, their priorities, we all have a functioning democracy and black people, people of color in this country have been denied that for generations. The Voting Rights Act at stake here was a -- it`s as one of the most important pieces of legislation to protect democracy and assure voice for people of color for black people.

And what she did is went straight to the heart of what we`re debating and what we`re hearing debated on the Supreme Court, which is whether looking at black communities, Latino communities, communities of color and say, hey, there are communities of interest here that won`t be able to get someone elected that actually serves and represents their interest, if we`re not paying attention to whether or not they`re actually getting that opportunity to elect that person.

And what the conservatives are saying is, you know, you can discriminate by saying you`re not discriminating. That`s essentially the argument. If the state of Alabama says, we just will won`t look at race, we will just not see black people and say it`s neutral, because we didn`t take race into effect, that`s constitutional.

She just did a masterclass on saying exactly why our laws were developed intentionally, to look at race, because we can ensure that people of color get included, have power, if we ignore all the ways we`ve denied them power. And if we do that by saying, oh, we just don`t, what, black people? I don`t see any. You see any? I don`t.

MELBER: Yes, you lay it out, I thought it was really interesting part of the exchange, we showed the history of what`s happened when this law has been up before the court. And look, there`s a big difference between how you might teach your ideal preschool class and say, hey, let`s all just be people. And that might be a really nice way to start.

That`s very different from when you have federal law that`s still on the books that says politicians who are -- as I`ve said, cornering people, where it`s quite obviously for political benefit, and then say, oh, we`re colorblind. That`s it, that`s very different. And so, the sort of idealized dream of total neutrality, right, that someday, communities may reach. Great, good luck.

Is very different from the redress that actually is linked to whether we ever get there. So that`s why I want to hear from you on that. But you know, this is THE BEAT Maya, and you know, we do more than one thing around here, right? So --

WILEY: We did.

MELBER: And Maya has agreed to be a part of now, a bit of a goofy turn, that`s still about important stuff in the law. There`s no better way to make the turn than someone that we love on THE BEAT, who actually doesn`t love THE BEAT as much as THE BEAT loves him.

Because he`s always making fun of me. But that`s OK. I will turn to the intersection of -- believe it or not the Supreme Court and comedy and police accountability as we get into a little humor.


SHORTY DAVIS, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Those police need to be held accountable the same way that you go hold me accountable if I broke the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whenever they mess up, whenever they commit a crime, whenever something goes wrong, and I`m talking about serious stuff like murder, and whatnot. These guys never get prosecuted.

JOHN OLIVER, HOST, HBO: Now, those are valid frustrations, although, as a quick side note, murder and whatnot, would be an amazing CSI spin-off.


MELBER: A shout out to John Oliver, making jokes there even about serious stuff. But he was using satire. And this is something that we`ve asked Maya to stick around for because satire is actually protected under the first amendment. And that brings us to this Supreme Court case involving a young man named Anthony Novak.

Now he created a satirical Facebook page, he was kind of trying to criticize or spoof the local police department. So, it looked a little bit like the real page. It had a satirical slogan that was quite clearly not the real slogan where it said, quote, we know crime. Now, Maya is here to get into why this is before the Supreme Court.

That individual actually was targeted by the police. They jailed him for four days over the jokes. He beat the case, so he was not guilty of anything then he turned around and sued them and that`s going before the Supreme Court. And that brings us to something I don`t know if you`ve seen this you`ve litigated, I`ve never seen this, this satirical site, The Onion has submitted unusual briefs on his behalf.


So, to help us analyze this, Maya is here, and I will warn everyone, we will be using this sound effect during the story -- when we need it. Because you know, it`s news otherwise, it`s confusing. People are going to say, Maya, think like wait was Ari for real? No. This is tongue-in-cheek. So, The Onion is basically saying, this individual should have every right to do satire.

And when they identify themselves, which is a kind of technical thing you have to do in a brief. The Onion explains the Supreme Court, they are the single most powerful organization in human history. Now, Maya, I`m curious what you think, whether the jokes are amazing or not. I`ve never seen a fully satirical brief and what do you think they`re trying to tell the court with this?

WILEY: I got to just tell you. They need to get honorary law degrees. That`s all I`m going to say. It was brilliant, hysterical, history-making because what they do is use satire to make fully legitimate critical legal points about exactly why this was covered by the first amendment.

You know, just remember, it`s not actually that funny because for The Onion, if this guy, if Novak could actually be -- go through the process that he went through because he did satire, so could the Onion. And this is the point, he -- if this were allowed to stand, it would be an extremely dangerous precedent for the first amendment for parody.

And in a case where you`re being very clear that you are parroting. I mean, obviously, you could have situations where, you know, someone could claim parody when they`re really doing something dangerous. That`s not the case here. And actually, you`d have to meet a very, very, very, very high bar to prove that you were somehow inciting violence.

And I think it`s very hard for anyone to read this Onion brief and not think that what they were doing was making this point brilliantly by saying, we are so credible, we`re even trusted by Iran and China. That`s hysterical. I hope everybody --

MELBER: Yes. I have 30 seconds left. So just -- how do you think justices respond to this because they`ve dealt with cases where they`re asked about the boundaries of art, or literature, but they`re not known to be the funniest bunch. And I felt like what the Onion did was say, hey, everybody, there`s got to be room to tell jokes, especially about the powerful.

WILEY: (INAUDIBLE) I hope I read it seriously. Because it`s making the point about parody playing an important first amendment role and so read it and laugh, but also laugh at the double joke, because it`s also about don`t make this illegal because then you really don`t have a sense of humor, but you`re also doing real damage to the consequences.

MELBER: Yes, it`s fascinating for advocacy. Great to have you on more than one issue. Maya Wiley, good to see you. When we come back. We`ll get that update on the Mar-a-Lago case which is more Supreme Court news. Stay with us.



MELBER: Breaking news, Donald Trump`s lawyers are asking the Supreme Court itself to get involved in this Mar-a-Lago case. It`s the first time anyone`s tried to go to the Supreme Court. The request comes after an appeals court granted a DOJ request to keep about 100 classified documents separate under this review of what was seized from Trump`s Mar-a-Lago residents.

The filing basically tries to get the Supreme Court to overrule and reverse that and argues that there was a jurisdictional problem with the review of a special master order. This is a largely technical matter, but you have the Trump lawyers arguing that any limit on reviewing those materials seized would somehow erode public confidence in the system of justice.

Now, this is not the time where the Supreme Court would normally get involved at all, but this is not a normal case. And this is some high- stakes poker that the president`s lawyers are playing. They could get shut down early by the Supreme Court or they might crack the door in to even more review. That`s what we know at this hour. But we will keep you posted on any signs of action from the Supreme Court.

Coming up, a story we have promised you we will stay on, accountability for Alex Jones. Stay with us.



MELBER: Turning to accountability for political lives, there was some emotional testimony in the Connecticut court in the fourth week of Alex Jones` now second jury trial about what additional damages he will be forced to pay these victims and families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

You may recall the Texas trial which resulted in a nearly $50 million fee punishment for Mr. Jones. Today because the process plays out and this is how it works. You had more parents taking the stand, one describing her surviving daughter`s crippling fear because of what Jones says and does. And his followers have been terrorizing these families, including sometimes children.


JACKIE BARDEN, SANDY HOOK VICTIM`S PARENT: She`s home by herself, she`s really, really stressed. She won`t, like -- would never take a shower if she was the only person in the house because she`s very afraid of being home alone. She`ll say I feel better when I`m at a friend`s house because nobody knows who I am but when I`m home, I feel like I`m a target.


MELBER: These are real people living with the real-world consequences of what Jones has whipped up throughout the country, what his followers do. In trials that have shown that Mr. Jones knew he was wrong, knew he was lying, and continued even after warned of the consequences to do all this while he makes millions of dollars doing it.

It may be sad that the families have to participate in this testimony, but it is also what they`ve chosen to do to get some recourse of justice. Mr. Jones is expected to take the stand tomorrow. When we come back, we turn to a story of true uplift. How to take on hate and how one community effectively did it with love. Stay with us.



MELBER: There are many forces driving extremist violence. The FBI director has been warning the largest source of domestic terror now is right wing and white supremacist violence. Hate comes in many forms and is driving these spikes in violence but there`s also hope.

Consider veteran Richard McKinney who intended to what -- one-time stage a terror attack against Muslims in Indiana and then reversed course after a kind of intervention and embraced by that community. A story told them the documentary Stranger at the Gate.


RICHARD MCKINNEY, MILITARY VETERAN: Living in Muncie now, I was being forced to see people that I considered an enemy every time I went out the door. This is my country, my city. Got to the point to where I just wanted to do harm to them.



MELBER: The film explores themes that, frankly, are sometimes neglected in our politics, our news, or our digital lives, patience, forgiveness, and our capacity to change even if people sometimes make big mistakes or have done bad things. So, we`re kind of talking about truth, and art here.

The film though, is scored by renowned violinist Ezinma, who`s upending many traditions of her own performing with classic icons like Yo-Yo Ma and Stevie Wonder and bending genres with famed artists like Kendrick Lamar. Her classic takes on current hits are really widely embraced. Take the rendition of Mask Off, which went viral in 2017. And that was, by the way before everyone was wearing masks for COVID.

She also had the main stage at Coachella performing with Beyonce, and one of the most renowned live performances of the last decade, which is now also a Netflix special. Violinist and composer Ezinma is our special guest on THE BEAT.

Her debut E.P. Classical Bae, and she`s bringing classical music to frankly, a whole new generation. She`s also launched the strings by heart education foundation. And this is her in-person debut on THE BEAT. Thanks for being here.

EZINMA, VIOLINIST: Thank you so much, Ari, I`m so happy to be here.

MELBER: Yes, a lot going on. Before we get to the film, tell me about this album and who it`s connecting with.

EZINMA: Yes, definitely. You know, Ari, I am a classically trained violinist. But I`m also somebody who doesn`t look like the typical classical violinist, right? You know, I think for a lot of younger audiences, they don`t really see people who really, they feel they can identify with and classical music.

And as somebody who didn`t always fit in, I just sort of felt it my mission to really bring classical music in a really accessible way to the younger generation, toward people of color, to more diverse audiences. That`s really what it`s about, you know, I like to joke with some of my students that I work with that.

You know, if you take Ed Sheeran, or Beyonce, or Drake, these are the equivalents of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, right? Like, at the time, this was people`s popular music, so why not bring it back? Why not, like, let`s talk to it, let`s have fun with it? So that`s really a huge part of what I do. It`s really about making the archaic and old feel more modern and relevant.

MELBER: Scoring this film, how did that come about, what does this film mean to you?

EZINMA: Yes, so one of my mentors, she was like, hey, I`m working on this other film, can you step in and compose this for me. And I checked out the film, I watched it and was so moved by the story. It actually made me cry the first time I watched it just because of, you know, the way you introed this, in terms of through the disintegration of so much of our political discourse, the level of hate, how everybody is so divided and seeing this man change.

You know, he was going to bomb the Muslim center in Indiana and Muncie, Indiana, and had such a change of hearts that he converted to Islam. And I think for me, scoring that to you know, orchestra was something where I just wanted to bring so much humanity into the music. Sort of breathe life into the story further, it was already an incredible story. But it was really an honor to be a part of that.

MELBER: Amazing. Let`s take a look at some of what you do.



TRAVIS SCOTT, RAPPER: Out like a light, yes. Like a light, yes. Like a light. Slept through the flight, knocked for the night.


MELBER: Slept through the flight, yes. When you do that kind of work. The familiar connects with people but the echo is the payoff. We know Picasso said, oh, everybody knows Velazquez, here`s my take on it. And you could kind of see both. How do you play with that in the way you actually make the music because obviously there`s a whole -- there`s a whole generation score, oh, that`s that Drake.

EZINMA: Yes, you know, I think I sort of do it just from the inverse. I mean, I practice classical violin every morning. I do my scales, I do Bach, I do Mozart, I study a sonata, maybe Brahms. Just something from the canon of these pieces that I`ve just grown up with.

And usually, I`ll be playing something, and I`ll get to a part and I`m like, wait, this is super cool. This is like a really interesting sell that maybe I could expand upon or maybe, oh, wait that little baby beat. Maybe there`s something there and it just sort of happens really organically.

But I think it starts from the daily practice of what I do, and always having a bit of a fresh lens, even though it`s such a -- I`ve been doing like my whole life, the violin, right? I think it`s always bringing a fresh perspective to that daily practice and then you ping up into what happens.

MELBER: Awesome. Thank you for joining us.

EZINMA: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

EZINMA: Thanks so much.

MELBER: And our question for you which you can hit me @AriMelber on any platform is, who was your favorite classical artist? Mozart, Bach, somebody else. As we were just told they were the pop stars of their era. That`s @AriMelber or, where you can connect with me. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.