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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 4/8/22

Guests: Angie Martinez


Radio talk show host Angie Martinez speaks out. A deadly rocket attack kills innocent Ukrainian civilians at a train station. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is formally introduced at the White House as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court. New reporting emerges about the nature of the plot to steal the election and just how early it began. One of the Proud Boys leaders flips and is now expected to testify on the planning that went into the violence on January 6.



Hi, Ari. Happy Friday.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Friday, Nicolle. Have a great weekend.

WALLACE: You too.

MELBER: Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber.

And we are tracking several stories, including the big one ripping across America, the emotional speech from Judge Jackson today at the White House after that historic Supreme Court confirmation.

Also, new reporting showing texts about the nature of the plot to steal the election and just how early it began. The investigations are clearly working, as they uncover more and more evidence. We`re going to bring you context on that controversy in tonight`s program, as well as some new lessons that Democrats are eying from Barack Obama.

So, we have a lot to get to, including, as I often say around here, a lot of news in America.

But we begin abroad, given the new Russian atrocities uncovered in Ukraine that continue to shock the world. And I will tell you up top, although there`s a lot more other stories coming up in the hour, this is important. And as we go through this right now, some of what you are about to see, the reality of this war, is graphic and disturbing.

With that warning said, we will begin to show you the reporting, Russia bombing a train station that was full of civilians, that is to say, innocent people, noncombatants who were evacuating, 50 people killed in that new bombing alone. And that includes five children that we know of; 100-plus more were injured, some missing arms and legs in that brutally effective attack.

Then, in the city of Kramatorsk in Eastern Ukraine, officials say Russia used short-range ballistic missiles. And one of the missiles featured writing on the side that said -- quote -- "For the Children." Consider that a kind of a heartless and disgusting reference to intentional war crimes and the controversy that Russia is in, as all of this has been played out on the world stage.

I should note that, for its part, Russia simply denies it`s behind this attack.

Here`s reporting on the scene from Sky News.


JOHN SPARKS, SKY NEWS REPORTER: You can see some of the damage here. So, explosives from that missile have dropped here. They have -- now, just remember that there will have been hundreds of people queuing up to get inside the train station. We have seen it. And they will -- well, they would have been killed, a lot of them.

Terrible damage here. You can see some of the windows have been -- some of the windows have been broken. There are shrapnel holes in the walls, powerful, powerful blast. And it must have been absolutely terrifying.

I mean, there will have been thousands of people at the station. This will have significantly set back the evacuation efforts going on here. And they were in full swing. They have been in full swing for the whole week.


MELBER: This is a war that is operating on multiple fronts, because, as Ukrainians continue to fight to defend their country, across the entire nation, we also have prosecutors gathering what they say is evidence of war crimes for any later potential international justice.

Officials also exhuming bodies from mass graves to account for what they call these Putin-backed war crimes.

I`m joined now by Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Welcome back.

This has been the week with more reported alleged war crimes than any other stage in the conflict. What does that tell you, both about Russia`s problems achieving so-called military objectives and Putin`s willingness to resort to a kind of barbarism that we have seen at times in history, but that is not, by any means, the automatic action of countries at war?

Many countries go through very long war periods without these kinds of allegations and evidence.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, NBC NEWS INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Ari, I honestly don`t know what to say. I had not seen that missile that you just showed until just this very moment.

(SPEAKING RUSSIAN) is what it says, "For children." I speak Russian. Just - - I can`t think of the right adjectives, horrific, barbaric, criminal, terrorist act. That`s the way we need to describe this.


And we should stop using the word war. This is not war. This is terrorism. Putin is trying to kill innocent people to force President Zelenskyy to negotiate. That`s his strategy. He`s using this strategy, of course, because his original military strategy, normal military behavior, by the way, to try to take the major cities of Ukraine, he failed at, right?

He failed to take Kyiv. He failed to take every city. He even has failed to take Mariupol so far, right? So, instead, he has to destroy these places, and destroy the people that live there. And it is not war. It is something else.

And I hope it should send a strong signal to everybody who lives in the free world and every leader who lives in the free democratic world and can see these scenes that we have to do everything we can to stop this war.

And for that to happen, it means two things, to me, to give the Ukrainians the weapons they need to stop Putin`s killing machine, and to put more pressure through economic sanctions on Russia, so that they will stop this horrendous, heinous killing.

MELBER: Yes, you mentioned terrorism, which is decried under international law and among most Western -- most of Western society, because of its very barbarism, because it is understood to be attacks on the innocent civilians, men, women and children, to terrorize, hence the name, that that is its goal.

And when we think of the laws of war and militaries fighting, which also comes with great tragedy and horror, it is still done under what has been kind of the modern system for several centuries now have laws of war.

When you put it that way, what do you see in Vladimir Putin, this man that you have dealt with and studied? Because he does understand propaganda. He does understand how to get his point out there. And it would seem that he is using these tools that are associated with the weak.

I mean, most terrorist nationalist liberation groups don`t have nuclear weapons.

MCFAUL: Right.

MELBER: And then there`s whole debates about what they do with less power to achieve objectives and all that.

We don`t see as much terrorism from nuclear powers. What does it tell you that he wants, in a way, the world to be shocked and focused on this? Because it really does distract from what military experts have been telling us for weeks now and what you just ran through, that they can`t -- forget all of Ukraine, a much smaller, less powerful country. They can`t take over cities, and that that is Putin`s weakness on the world stage, slightly obscured by his very deliberate and, as we saw, barbarically tattooed messaging?

MCFAUL: Well, a couple of things.

I wrote my first piece about Vladimir Putin, warning of his autocratic ways, in March of 2000, literally 22 years ago. And I just did a survey of my C.V., and the word Putin appears in articles and books I have read in 60 different things. So I followed his career for a long time. And we talked before.

I met him in `91. And for five years serving in the Obama administration, I sat in the room with him when he was meeting with our top government officials, President Obama, Vice President Biden, secretaries of state.

And I want to be honest with you, Ari. I -- even me, with that kind of background, even me, one of the first Americans sanctioned by Putin back in 2014, I am shocked that he would be so barbaric, so criminal, terroristic in his behavior.

And I`m not an international lawyer. You`re a lawyer. I`m not. You know a lot more about the law than I do. But I don`t see the difference between when airplanes are used to blow up buildings and kill innocent civilians -- that happened in our country on September 11 in 2001 -- and what you just showed on television right now.

I don`t understand what the difference is. They`re exactly the same thing. The only difference is one is a non-state actor and one is a state actor, but it`s the same method. It`s the same method of terrorizing civilians to achieve a political objective. That`s what he`s doing.

I don`t think it`ll work, by the way. I don`t think it`ll have the intended effect on President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people. But we should call it for what it is.

And, number two, I want to point out, he doesn`t care about humans, period. He`s killing ethnic Russians. He`s killing people that he claims that he`s liberating. And he doesn`t seem to care about his own people too and his own soldiers. If you think about how many have died through just horrible tactics, it is clear that he even doesn`t care about the own soldiers that he`s just throwing to be killed in Ukraine.


I mean, literally, when I talk to experts -- and when I talk to a Ukrainian government officials, including just two hours ago, that`s the other horrific thing that he`s showing. He doesn`t even care about his own citizens.

MELBER: And that brings us to the final query I had for you, given how this is going and what`s out there.

Any other measurements, indications of cracks within his government or inside Russia?

MCFAUL: People that follow these things closely, they talk about the FSB guys, Mr. Bortnikov being -- blaming the generals for what happened.

That -- there`s little tea leaves of that if you follow some very specialized literature. My guess, as somebody who`s read this and knows all these players, by the way -- I know, these people, Mr. Patrushev and Bortnikov off and Putin. I used to know them. There`s no doubt in my mind that there`s a blame game, right?

In Russia is called kto vinovat, who`s to blame. They`re blaming each other. That doesn`t mean that they will turn on each other. And the broader circles, so far, I`m sure that every oligarch that`s ever made money in Russia doesn`t support this war.

I`m sure that the woman who runs the Russian Central Bank, I know her. I used to know her well. She doesn`t support this war. There`s no way. Herman Gref, the head of SberBank that just was sanctioned, there`s no way he supports this war.

Elites in Moscow -- yes, the babushkas in Siberia that live in the Putin bubble, yes, they support the war. But the elites that have VPNs and follow news, there`s no way any of them support this war. They`re just afraid.

And, so far, there`s only been one senior figure that I know of. His name is Anatoly Chubais. By the way, the -- when he used to be Yeltsin`s chief of staff, he`s the person that resurrected Vladimir`s -- Putin`s career in the 1990s. He then ran a state-owned enterprise for many, many years.

He`s the only one that I know that has left the country because he did not want to endorse this war. I think he`s somewhere abroad. But that`s only one person, tragically. My guess is, hundreds more, maybe thousands more are thinking like him, but they haven`t done what he`s done, at least not yet.

MELBER: Really, really interesting breakdown amidst all of the horror.

Ambassador McFaul, we do appreciate your analysis and your expertise on this. Thank you, sir.

MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Absolutely.

That`s an important story. And that`s why it led our broadcast.

But, as I have mentioned, we`re tracking stories abroad and at home. And that`s where we turn next, an emotional moment at the White House, as America`s next Supreme Court justice discussed this claim to history.


JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.



MELBER: We will get into that and these new reports of the evidence against the Trump family on the coup plotting.

Stay with us.



MELBER: Celebrating history at the White House.

Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first ever black woman who will sit on the Supreme Court. The president and vice president hosted her and her family to mark this important moment today.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today is, indeed, a wonderful day...


HARRIS: ... as we gather to celebrate the confirmation of the next justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.


HARRIS: Judge Jackson, you will inspire generations of leaders.


MELBER: It`s a win for the Biden administration, but it`s also a mark for history.

And when you look just at the visual up here, while these are two branches of government represented, you have this president flanked by two black women who have both broken barriers, the first as vice president, the first black woman on the High Court, one position tenured for life, which means this very much will be a mark for a very long time and one that, depending on what happens, may be the first of many.

Well, as he praised Judge Jackson`s poise and composure in this confirmation, the president also made reference to some of the attacks from the right.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all saw the kind of justice she will be.

There was verbal abuse, the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile, baseless assertions and accusations.

In the face of it all, Judge Jackson showed the incredible character and integrity she possesses, perseverance and even joy, even joy.



MELBER: And then, when it comes to the passing of this judicial baton, we also heard -- I should mention, we also had Justice Breyer, who will be retiring later this year speaking about what it takes to get to this point. She references that.

And I should mention, it`s more of a coincidence than anything else that she clerked for Breyer, but it`s an interesting coda to all of this, that these different people from different generations have a work bond, a work history, and then she will now do the very job she once helped him do.

This was the context for some of which he spoke about in her professional and personal history, an address full of emotion.



JACKSON: It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.


JACKSON: But we`ve made it.

We have come a long way toward perfecting our union.

In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.



MELBER: You can feel the power and the emotion there. Many Americans are taking this in today and going into the weekend, where it will be discussed, including discussed around tables that have never had a breakthrough like this to discuss in various communities.

In other words, what might look like just another government development to some is a first and an inspiration to others.

At her old high school in Miami, students held a pep rally in her honor. You can see that there. We`re also watching some artwork circulating that suggests a nickname. I mentioned the other day on the program it will be the Internet, and not the senators, who decide on nicknames. Well, this is one that taps into the legacy of Brooklyn`s Biggie Smalls and, of course, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, crowning her Notorious KBJ.

Then there`s Jenifer Lewis, who whipped up in her own style an original song to honor the moment today.


JENIFER LEWIS, ACTRESS (singing): We came here to celebrate...

SINGERS (singing): Justice Brown Jackson.

LEWIS (singing): A black woman on the Supreme Court.

SINGERS (singing): Justice Brown Jackson.

LEWIS (singing): A beautiful, intelligent woman.

SINGERS (singing): Justice Brown Jackson.

LEWIS (singing): Justice.



MELBER: Now, what you may not know is, at the end of the song, Professor Melissa Murray did a freestyle rap that really brought down the room.

Is that true? What else does she have to say? We will get into it we`re back in one minute.


MELBER: And we are back with NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray.

She also, we should mention, in full disclosure, was listed by "The New York Times" among the short list of qualified candidates for this very post.

Welcome back.


MELBER: Did you want to do a fact-check on -- in TV, sometimes, it`s called a tease when you talk about who`s coming up. But I was joking about your participation in that particular song.

MURRAY: Or were you? Unclear.

MELBER: Or was I? Unclear.

We heard from so many folks. And it was really something today, and I mentioned why it might mean more to people for whom this resonates than for other people who might take it as, oh, government stuff.

And I want to play again, because there`s been so much stuff I haven`t yet played, Senator Warnock. It meant something to him and his family, too. Let`s listen to that.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): I`m the father of a young black girl. I know how much it means for Judge Jackson to have navigated the double jeopardy of racism and sexism to now stand in the glory of this moment in all of her excellence.

Seeing Judge Jackson ascend to the Supreme Court reflects the promise of progress on which our democracy rests.


MELBER: Professor, your thoughts and reaction to this history?

MURRAY: I think Senator Warnock is exactly right. I mean, this is a monumental event for the country, the first black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

I was teaching constitutional law yesterday when the vote came in. And, ironically enough, I was teaching about gender discrimination. And we were talking about the court`s struggle to think about sex-based classifications in the context of equal protection, where the paradigm had always been race.


But what could you do about those who were both victims of gender and race discrimination? There`s no answer for that in our current equal protection doctrine. And here we were on the precipice of having the first black woman appointed to the Supreme Court.

So, again, there are so many ways in which this appointment is historic. And the enthusiasm and ebullience that so many people are feeling right now makes clear how important this milestone is, this glass ceiling for so many black women.


And the representation matters in so many ways. And I -- Judge Jackson`s interesting, because, although there was plenty of venom, and we could talk about that, there was also something really uplifting, in that she`s not a famous person outside of legal circles.

So she was introduced to America, and I have emphasized our coverage, we reported, the vast majority of people rejected the attacks. They heard about the hearings. I mean, it`s wall-to-wall TV coverage. So even if you don`t watch all the news, they got a little sense of her and how she conducted herself, the intellect, the sobriety, the measured way that she thought through, discussed and reacted.

I mean, those are things that you can only fake so far. It`s different, of course, than reading through all her opinions or something. But people found her to be an impressive and qualified nominee. The overwhelming number of people rejected those attacks, including many Trump voters, interestingly. And she`s more popular than recent nominees, including those put forward by the former President Donald Trump.

I think that`s striking. There`s something perhaps substantively hopeful there, which is distinct from how polarized we are in other ways.

And so thinking about representation, I want to read to viewers into you for your reaction with Oprah wrote.

She says: "Through the confirmation hearings, especially when I saw young Leila Jackson looking at her mom with such pride, I found myself thinking about parents, parents of black girls." She sees this as a thrilling example, living proof of what is possible, "a new chance to turn to your child and say, you are possible. So, thank you, Justice-to-be Jackson. Your accomplishment is cause for joy" -- from Oprah, who so many Americans know and like.

And while I`m not here to make gigantic Oprah-Jackson comparisons, I would note these are two people who, when they`re just heard from, when there`s not some crazy other type of filter or other structural racism, it turns out a lot of Americans go, oh, yes, great, wonderful.

What do you think about that, what I call a slightly hopeful edge to this?

MURRAY: I think Judge Jackson embodied a lot of things for a lot of people. And, again, that difference can be generational.

I think, for someone like me, the fact of this historic nomination is truly impressive. But when she said today that, in just one generation, her family had gone from segregation to the Supreme Court, it reminded me of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who always said, how do you go from a bookkeeper to the Supreme Court in just one generation, of the same kind of promise of America that really speaks to, I think, many of us.

But for our daughters, I`m thinking particularly of my own daughter, the idea that someone under such pressure and attack truly, truly disrespectful attacks, could remain unflappable, composed, respectful, I mean, it really was a model. She shouldn`t have had to, but she did.

And you could not tamper her joy. She -- at the end of all of this, she still was incredibly joyful about her mission. And her mission is the rule of law. And she made that clear throughout the confirmation hearings.

MELBER: Yes. Wonderful.

Professor Melissa Murray, always good to see you. And say hi to all those students for us.

MURRAY: Will do.

MELBER: OK. Have a good weekend.

MURRAY: You too.

MELBER: When we come back: There`s new evidence that has Don Jr. in the soup, because he was texting about stealing the election with the White House chief of staff. These are brand-new texts.

And the leader of the Proud Boys admitting the plan to storm the Capitol and flipping. We will explain. That`s next.



MELBER: When did the steal start? When did the talk of a coup really begin? These are the kinds of interesting questions that we don`t have all the answers to yet.

But these investigations that are going forward are helping give clues. Like, now we`re learning Donald Trump Jr. had some kind of plan to steal the election for his father. Text messages from Jr. to Chief of Staff Meadows reveal the plot. And the timing, well, this is interesting. It began as early as the day after the election.

CNN reports there are texts that show a scheme that MAGA supporters wanted to pull off and that the committee investigating this has them. I should note, this is a CNN report, and NBC has not confirmed this as of right now.

But, according to that report, the text show Don Jr. writing on November 5 -- quote -- "It`s very simple. We have multiple paths. We control them all."

As for them and the details and the thinking, well, that`s why people have to testify. Again, remember, other family, like Jared and Ivanka, already have. Don Jr. then says Congress can just overthrow the results -- quote -- "We have operational control, total leverage," he says. "Moral high ground. POTUS must start second term now."

This is interesting. It`s potentially culpable for Don Jr. And it`s also, I have to mention, ridiculous. You don`t just get to start a second term that you never won.

Now, we`re talking about the inner circle, Donald Trump`s son. And that goes to culpability, because, obviously, the question becomes, if your closest aides, like your chief of staff and your son, are doing this, then how much is it at your direction? What is your intent, the hardest thing to prove in criminal cases?


This was, of course, just hours after polls closed. Trump Jr. was also pushing on the fake electors plot. We have reported about that quite a bit. A Trump aided admitted part of that plan to push fraudulent electors on this broadcast, which is context for a text that we have just now, of course, learned about.

Trump Jr. again writing to the chief of staff they should have Republican controlled state assemblies step in, and then they could commit widespread election fraud for a coup. Well, he doesn`t call it that. He just refers to -- quote -- "Trump electors," adding: "Republicans control PA, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina. We get Trump electors."

What you see on your screen in text, in writing is coup talk. We lost the race. We know we lost it. That`s why we need to overthrow the real electors, put in fraudulent ones, commit massive voter fraud, which anyone can go to jail for, and then stage a coup. That`s what`s on your screen. This is real stuff.

Meanwhile, today, the criminal cases are showing their own type of progress. The DOJ, which at times has been criticized for not being aggressive enough, well, boy, they`re scoring a win right now. They have the right-wing group Proud Boys. Their leader had pled not guilty, but now has cracked, pleading guilty to conspiracy to obstruct Congress on the 6th.

Charles Donohoe, who led a North Carolina branch, admits the planning and is flipping. He says his goal was stopping the government from carrying out the transfer of presidential power. That`s the civilian side of a coup, with violence attached. Donohoe could be key to the evidence here, especially if he fully flips and testifies and implicates others.

I`m joined now by a former federal prosecutor who`s run a U.S. attorney`s office in exactly these kinds of complex, witness-based cases, Joyce Vance.

Welcome back.



We could start on either big story. But let`s start with the cooperation here, because that is real stuff. What does it mean that he can drop a dime on other people?

VANCE: It`s incredibly important.

Look, this is -- and you and I have discussed this so many times. This is how prosecutors work conspiracy cases. You start with the least culpable people, and you work your way up the chain, until you can find cooperating witnesses who can help you identify and find evidence against the most culpable players. And it looks like we`re getting there.

It looks like there is now evidence being developed that several of these groups worked together on January 6. The question is, how high up will that evidence lead?

MELBER: Yes, how high? Right. And that`s really significant.

With Don Jr. here, it`s just one more person involved. What does that tell you about how this plan was hatched to try to steal the election?

VANCE: So, the text messages, which were sent, by the way, on November 5 - - votes are still being counted for the election. Trump Jr. is already apparently making plans to deal with a loss in the election, which is very interesting, right?

He seems to be acknowledging that loss. So you might want to know, where did his information come from? Who was he discussing that with? Did his father believe at that point in time that he had already lost the election?

But, ultimately, you know and I know that Don Trump Jr., who does not have a law degree, did not come up with this design that he lays out in the text message. His lawyers have said that he just forwarded some texts that he received after the election.

But it`s not that simple. And to send it on to Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, with these very detailed plans makes you want to ask the most important question about this text message. When Trump Jr. says we, we control everything, who`s we? Who`s part of this conspiracy?

And what can each of those people tell you about what they knew? Because something that I know to be true in conspiracy cases is, once you find a smoking gun, there is someone who wants to cooperate, someone who understands that the defendant who cuts the first deal does the best.

We`re not there yet. This is a text message that the January 6 Committee has in its possession. There is no indication that DOJ is looking at this in the criminal sense, although one believes that they will get there.

And this is also not, Ari, the conspiracy to engage in a coup or sedition on January 6. This isn`t even the conspiracy to interfere with certifying the Electoral College. But this is perhaps an earlier conspiracy. And it`s possible that you could have multiple conspiracies here with multiple players. This might be a standard 371 conspiracy.

The statute is 18 U.S. Code 371. And the conspiracy would be to defraud the government by interfering with the legitimate results of the election.


MELBER: Right.

VANCE: This gives me a lot of sympathy for DOJ once you start talking about multiple conspiracies, with multiple players to be identified, and specific evidence needed for each one.


And, as you say, they have to pull at all those threads. But it`s really striking.

Joyce Vance, always good to see you. Thank you.

Joyce is one of our trusted colleagues and legal analysts. And she`s not the only one, because you may know Katie Phang. Well, tomorrow, she actually joins the weekend lineup.

So, you can go catch her Saturdays and Sundays 7:00 a.m. Eastern on MSNBC for "THE KATIE PHANG SHOW," with plenty of legal insights on the news. I wanted to give that shout-out, so you know about that if you`re up early on the weekends.

Now, when we come back, we are eying this big week at the White House, where Obama made his return and Democrats say there are lessons here.

And a fact-check on FOX`s Tucker Carlson. Both of those stories coming up.



MELBER: Turning to a fact-check, there are COVID cases still all over the country.

Now, generally, it`s been declining nationwide. And we have been on that decline for months. But there is a wave in D.C. You may have heard about some of the high-profile officials who`ve contracted COVID. And, somehow, rather than concern or education, that`s led to new bouts of misinformation on FOX News.

Now, here`s some of the people you may have heard tested positive recently, Pelosi, Schiff, Garland, Senator Warnock and Senator Susan Collins.

Now, they all do have full vaccinations. They have all shared this information with the public, as they are in public life, and none say they have serious symptoms. So that`s how vaccines work. It`s possible, as I bet you have heard, to still contract COVID after getting vaccinated, but you are far more protected.

Indeed, A, you`re more protected from transmission, because, if you don`t get vaccinated, you`re still not just double, but almost triple, three times as likely to get COVID. And, overall, when you`re fully vaccinated, you`re 94 percent -- likely to end up on a ventilator and even less likely to ever face death. Vaccinations work.

Keep that in mind when you think about the way this is being pushed recently on FOX News.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And you tell us the vaccine works, but then you stop talking about it. And everybody who is testing positive for it, like Jen Psaki, four shots.


KILMEADE: So, you wonder why people are having doubts about this whole two-year torture.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Nancy Pelosi has taken innumerable shots of the corona vax, because she`s a good person, unlike you.

And yet -- and this is kind of a bewildering fact for those of us who believe in science -- Pelosi now says that she`s tested positive for rona anyway. How does that work?


MELBER: How does that work?

Well, here`s one way it works. About a third of people who won`t get vaccinated are Republicans. That`s higher than any other group. Many of them watch FOX News, and many of them are being fed that kind of misinformation.

And I should note we`re not saying that they`re lying. We`re saying that they`re putting out words that give people the wrong impression. Yes, Pelosi and others got COVID. And, yes, vaccination makes it less likely overall that you will get COVID and almost impossible that you would die from it if you don`t have any other conditions or problems.

So, vaccines work. And FOX News, well, it doesn`t work quite as well if you just want to know the facts.

We wanted to get that out there since it`s been swirling around.

I`m going to fit in a break, but, when we come back, we think about what we have been marking here in breakthroughs in America, Barack Obama back at the White House, and why Democrats have their eye on how to be strong, fun and cool the Obama way.

A special guest coming up.



MELBER: Barack Obama was back at the White House this week recalling a bygone era when many Democrats felt like they had the young, cool and hip card covered.

Obama often seemed as at home with senators as he did with artists, just like he did when he vibed with our next guest, whom he called the voice of New York, Grammy-winning radio Hall of Famer Angie Martinez.


MELBER: She is that rare interviewer in the game, in the industry who seems like family even when she`s around music royalty, for example, the backstage hangout session at the Super Bowl with the power combo Snoop, Mary J. Blige, and Jay-Z.

Looks like you made it.

Thanks for being here, Angie.

ANGIE MARTINEZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I got to tell you -- first, well, hi, Ari. Thank you for having me.


MARTINEZ: I`m so happy to be here.

That picture and that moment was -- was it was as special as it looks.

MELBER: So, Angie, I don`t want to embarrass you, but it is your debut on THE BEAT.


MELBER: We`re going to take a look at our power reel of Angie Martinez.


MARTINEZ: Are you banging on the table? Are you...


MARTINEZ: Are you about to kick a little freestyle? We`re going to start the show like that?

One of my favorite people in the whole entire planet, Mary J. Blige, is in the building today.

I read somewhere that you said that you don`t have time to be married and to be in this business.

TUPAC SHAKUR, MUSICIAN: I don`t, to be a good husband. I want to be a good husband and I want to be a good father.

MARTINEZ: Are you aware? Are you feeling this energy around you right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m very humbled by it. I feel very blessed. And, yes, I`m never going to let it set in. I just want to keep working, to be honest with you.

MARTINEZ: Never in a million years would I dream I would be invited to the White House. And during your administration, I was invited, I don`t know, five times a day.



MARTINEZ: That`s pretty good.

MELBER: It`s pretty good.

So you see people on the come-up. A lot of them keep up with you. Why is that? What do you bring to these relationships that you clearly have?

MARTINEZ: So, I started in New York radio at the age of 18 in an era where hip-hop was kind of just beginning to come of age. And so there`s a young Mary J. Blige running around the New York streets. There`s a young Jay-Z. There`s a young Nas and Wu-Tang.

I really started my career at the same time that a lot of these legends did, and with just a deep, sincere love for it. So, a lot of our conversations, over the years, I have interviewed Jay probably at every phase of his career, and Mary and a lot of those artists, and then some of the newer artists that would come along that would hear those interviews, then would look forward to sitting in that seat and having those type of conversations.

MELBER: Why do you think hip-hop has had such a role in political leadership? There are a lot of folks who get information from hip-hop, and trust it more than the news. I`m speaking from a newsroom, but that`s true.

MARTINEZ: Well, because it`s a voice of a whole generation, and multiple generations at this point.

I mean, there are people that have been overlooked, disenfranchised, and didn`t have a voice for a really long time. And I think hip-hop gave a lot of people a voice. And so -- and so the leaders of the pack, the ones who really stood up for us passionately and sincerely, will always matter to us.


I think there are a lot of artists that do that for people, that teach people and lead. And I think it will -- and hip-hop in general, as a culture, just we -- you understand that, Ari. We ride or die for it.


MARTINEZ: Like, it is not just because we like a little beat or melody. It is a culture. We take it seriously. We take the people who lead it seriously.

MELBER: If I told someone that young people were going to get really into poetry, and they were going to start writing poetry and memorizing it and trading it around, and they`re going to have books and poems, and they were going to be doing it in the middle of the street, in the back of the community center, that`s something people, a lot of the certain type of right-thinking, self-anointed elites would say, well, that`s very good, Ari.

And yet it`s not seen like that, and it`s not treated like that. I would argue, even to this day, why is that?

MARTINEZ: Well, because people are not as evolved as they should be. And they get stopped in their tracks by maybe a different dialect or what they deem as a lower class, or racism, or any of those things that stop you from being open-hearted and open-minded to art and to new ideas and different ways of thinking.

All the things that do that to people is the reason why, and racism also.

MELBER: Racism, yes, often the answer.

MARTINEZ: We can say all the code-wording for that as much as we want, but it`s a big part of why it took so long for us to get here.

MELBER: Let`s do a little bit of music lightning round stuff before I lose you.


MELBER: Not to put you on the spot.

MARTINEZ: Of course you`re putting me on the spot.


MELBER: Your favorite political artist, voice or song?

MARTINEZ: Oh, gosh, OK.

I think Pac is the easy answer.

MELBER: The most underappreciated woman in hip-hop.

MARTINEZ: I think there`s a lot of women behind the scenes. There`s so many women creators, from stylists, from people like Misa Hylton or June Ambrose, who are responsible for creating the fashion and the look.

There`s artist management. There`s women like Sylvia Rhone, who put so many female artists out there. If we`re talking about underappreciated, it`s the women in business IN hip-hop, where there are so many of them, Chaka Pilgrim, Dream Hampton, just all types of women who have been in this business for so many decades, who have supported artists.

And so do a little Google search, guys. Learn about a new woman that you don`t even know how much she did for the culture.

MELBER: Did Jay-Z not say, type it in, Google is your friend, bro?


MARTINEZ: Yes. Again, sometimes, it`s not all the way right, but...


MELBER: ... anonymous.

Best advice you ever got.

MARTINEZ: I saw something on Instagram recently that said, procrastination is the arrogance that -- is the arrogance to think that you`re entitled to God giving you more time.

MELBER: Ooh, that`s good. That`s solid.

MARTINEZ: Yes. That was a bar. And it really was like the arrogance to think you have all this time, to assume -- the arrogance to assume I will do it tomorrow.


And my last question to you is the secret to your success in the game?


Being somebody that people can trust and being true and making sure my intentions are always good, and consistency, I think, and having a genuine love for the culture, for hip-hop, and for what I do.

MELBER: Well, that comes through. It`s your first time on THE BEAT. I hope it`s not the last.

Angie Martinez, thank you so much.

MARTINEZ: I love it.


MELBER: Again, our big thanks to Angie, an icon.

And I want to invite you to a New York music event with another icon, Clive Davis. He is the music label executive and producer behind everyone from Whitney to the Grateful Dead to Janis Joplin.

You could actually scan this Q.R. code right now to get ticket info. We will be together April 21 at the 92nd Street Y here in New York. So you can go to their Web site, and you see the tickets there on the screen. You can use the Q.R. code or dial in on your computer,, and you can sign up for tickets or to stream it live.

We`re trying this Q.R. code thing, so we will see if you guys like it. You use your phone on it like a menu. But at the event, we`re going to talk music, culture, and how Mr. Davis has been marking his 90th birthday this week. There aren`t a ton of seats left, if you`re a New Yorker, so go there to get seats, or to stream it online if you`re somewhere else in the country.

I wanted to share that with you because we always love to try to do things even beyond THE BEAT, "Clive Davis: The Man Behind the Music," Thursday, April 21, in New York or wherever you stream your music programming.

Thanks, as always, for spending time with us on THE BEAT. What a week it`s been.

And I can tell you, keep it locked on MSNBC. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.