IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/10/22

Guests: Charlie Sykes, Sarah Kendzior, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Chris Van Hollen, Kurt Bardella, Zander Moricz, John Quinn


GOP fears chaos of potential Trump Twitter return after Elon Musk took over Twitter. There are trigger laws in certain states should the Supreme Court pushed through with overturning Roe v. Wade. Kurt Bardella joins THE BEAT to talk about the January 6 Committee that may release videotaped interviews in the public hearings. Zander Moricz and John Quinn join THE BEAT to talk about the school`s threatening to cut Moricz`s graduation speech amid the Don`t Say Gay debate.


WALLACE: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes on this Tuesday. We are grateful. THE BEAT with Jason Johnson, in for Ari Melber, starts right now.

Hi, Jason.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much. Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Jason Johnson in for Ari Melber.

We start a political development that could throw midterms into chaos, rattle Republican candidates and put new heat on the MAGA movement. Elon Musk today saying when his purchase of Twitter is finalized, he will reinstate Donald Trump`s account. Trump was permanently banned from the platform after the January 6th insurrection for inciting violence. Musk said this earlier.


ELON MUSK, TESLA CEO: I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake. Because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice. I would reverse the permanent ban. I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme.


JOHNSON: Yes, so a few things. First, Musk`s purchase is expected to go through some time this year. He doesn`t take over the platform until then, but it`s unclear if that will be before or after the midterms. Second, Donald Trump claims he won`t rejoin Twitter, but nobody believes what Donald Trump says anyway.

And third, this is unfortunately a big deal. Trump has been starved of that online narcotic since getting banned on major platforms. And while it`d be nice to think he spent the last year in attention rehab, I`d say no, no, no.

Republican insiders are reportedly worried that Trump returning to Twitter would damage the party. Trump would go on a revenge tour against anyone who wasn`t loyal to him during his Twitter hiatus and they`d be stuck having to answer for him again on a daily basis.

Bigger picture, landscape is changing fast. It`s rapidly dawning on conservatives that they`re wildly unpopular attacks on women`s rights and the likely overturning of Roe could hurt the GOP in the midterms. FOX`s Hannity trying to spin it, but you can pretty much read between the lines here.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: Democrats need a good distraction for the midterms, a way to drive out turnout and excite their base, and their radical base is lapping it up, and I fear this can go from bad to worse.


JOHNSON: Yes, he stumbled through that one. Republicans know most Americans do not support this extreme anti-abortion agenda, but the MAGA base does, and the GOP can`t control its most extreme elements on this or any front. Think about the big lie. Trump-endorsed election deniers are running in Nebraska and West Virginia primaries tonight.

President Biden eyeing an opportunity for Democrats to take back four seats in the Senate, but Democrats have work to do, at least on the Senate side. They`re still unwilling to break through McConnell`s obstruction by using the filibuster. Tomorrow they`ll hold a Senate vote to protect abortion rights. That vote will fail. Speaker Pelosi is blaming the Republicans.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I want the Republican Party to take back the party, take it back to where you were, where you cared about a woman`s right to choose, you cared about the environment, and all --


PELOSI: Here I am Nancy Pelosi saying this country needs a strong Republican Party, and we do, not a cult, but a strong Republican Party.



JOHNSON: Seems pretty strong that a minority party can overthrow popular will. That`s where we start tonight. Speaker Pelosi talking about the GOP`s cult as the cult leader looks to regain his megaphone.

Joining me now is editor-at-large for "The Bulwark," Charlie Sykes. Also with us journalist and host of the podcast, "Gaslit Nation," you should be listening, Sarah Kendzior, and political scientist and dean of the Clinton School of Public Service and my former classmate, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.

Really excited about this group tonight. I`m going to start with this. I have to mention, Donald Trump getting back on Twitter doesn`t immediately concern me because ultimately I think it`s up to the press to not give him as much attention as he desperately needs, but, Charlie, I got to ask you, if Trump gets back on Twitter before the midterms, let`s say August, right? You know, Elon`s in charge, Trump gets back on, what do you think that potentially does to the Republican Party if anything?

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: Well, there`s a reason why Republicans are nervous because they spent years pretending that they didn`t read Donald Trump`s tweets. Remember all of that? Because in fact when he tweets something out they will be asked about it, as they should be asked about it. So this is something that they don`t necessarily want.


But, you know, I mean, I have mixed feelings about this. I think it was -- I disagree with you on Musk. I think it was a morally correct decision to kick him off when he was fomenting violence. On the other hand, look, if he`s running for president in 2024 and he may be the frontrunner to get back into office, we need pay attention, we need to watch him, we need to have a spotlight on him.

And so when he`s back on Twitter, where there`s going to be a spotlight on him, which is why Republicans are so upset about this because he says, you know, bat crap crazy stuff all the time, and it`s not getting the kind of attention that it used to get. Now it`s going to be out there front and center and they`re going to have to answer to it and talk about it, which they don`t want to do.

JOHNSON: Victoria, I want to play you some sound from Musk himself. This is his sort of tortured logic on free speech. I want your thoughts about this and how it`s being used by the far right in America right after we play this clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even after he egged on the crowds who went to the U.S. Capitol, some of them carrying nooses, you still think it was a mistake to remove him?

MUSK: I think the -- if there are tweets that are wrong, they should -- and bad, those should be either deleted or made invisible. And a suspension -- a temporary suspension is appropriate, but not a permanent ban.


JOHNSON: So he`s a free speech absolutist, but the bad speeches, the bad tweets should be deleted, I mean, this kind of word salad, I guess you can do that when you`re the richest person on the planet, but, Vickie, from like a consistency standpoint, what does this say about what Twitter might look like under sort of the Elon Musk regime?

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, DEAN, CLINTON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC SERVICE: There`s zero consistency, Jason, right, and there`s a big question mark in terms of what that regime is going to look like. But I`ve got to take a step back and nerd out a little bit because I know that an area that`s near and dear to you is media literacy. And I think to me, you know, Donald Trump coming back on Twitter, is that worrisome? Yes.

Are we going to see falsehoods propagated? Yes. But how is it that we can`t separate fact from fiction? And that we`ve seen over the last number of years, you know, study after study showing that more and more Americans get their news from social media, which is fine, but that the ones that only rely on it are the least knowledgeable, that our young folks are the ones that most rely on social media.

So we have this complete lack of media literacy which doesn`t allow us to stick through what people are saying, right? Free speech. Say what you want to say, even if it`s crazy, even if it`s a lie. But there`s no base for us to understand this, and for me, this is what worries me tremendously.

JOHNSON: So want to switch gears slightly. Sarah, who is one of my favorite follows on Twitter, I`m going put a larger context of how we`re looking at these next couple of months, Twitter, the midterm elections. As of right now, we have the Republicans last week. They got the Supreme Court they wanted. It looks like they`re about to strip abortion rights, and we have the White House pretty much releasing a statement saying, hey, people, you can protest at Kavanaugh`s house, but don`t be too aggressive about it.

You have the Democrats already saying, look, we`re not going to be able to do anything about this in the Senate. You have James Clyburn going down and campaigning for the lone pro-life Democrat in the House of Representatives right now. I`m looking at this and thinking, is it unreasonable to think that the Democratic Party, at least its leadership, maybe they`re not as passionate about this as the voters want them to be?

Maybe they are really a centrist party and not a left-wing party because I don`t see nearly as much passion and concern about abortion rights as I hear from the regular people on the streets. What`s your thought on that?

SARAH KENDZIOR, CO-HOST, ``GASLIT NATION" PODCAST: I think that`s true, and it follows their lack of concern about the attempted overthrow of the country in January, the lack of follow through on that. I think we have a party of out-of-touch elites, septuagenarians, octogenarians, they don`t know how ordinary people live, and they don`t care how ordinary people die.

And I`m sorry to put it in such stark terms, and I certainly don`t think it applies to everyone in the Democratic Party, but it is true of the leadership. You know, people are scared. Women are scared. People in states like mine, Missouri, which will have a trigger law that will outlaw abortion and then possibly outlaw contraception immediately are very frightened, and they`re not responding to that.

They`re placing more emphasis on protecting people like Brett Kavanaugh from completely peaceful protests started by his own neighbors than they are on protecting the immediate threat to women, a threat that`s already been going on all year to women in Texas and it`s just going to expand nationwide.

JOHNSON: Yes, that`s what`s interesting. I don`t think people realized this is partially Brett Kavanaugh`s neighbors. Nobody likes him.


OK. Even if your neighbors are setting up protests, I cannot wait to find out what their next homeowner`s association meeting is like.

Charlie, you know, you`re in a state where, you know, it`s an important potential pickup for the Democratic Party. It seems like it`s close, but it seems like the frontrunner on the Democratic side is Mandela Barnes. You`ve got Ron Johnson, who`s one of the most unpopular and flame throwing Republican senators that you have. Is this kind of thing? Is a Trump return and is eliminating abortion rights the kind of thing that would drag Ron Johnson down nationally and drag him down at home, or do you think the MAGA support in that state and for a lot of Republicans it will be enough to withstand the national headwinds?

SYKES: It`s hard to know. I mean, at this point with the stock market down, interest rates going up, inflation, those things may drown this out. But this is the one thing that I think might spur Democratic turnout, and in Wisconsin, that`s crucial. We have a governor who I think is very, very vulnerable. But the governor`s race now becomes a referendum. It becomes very much a binary choice.

Like in Missouri we have a trigger law that was written in the 1840s that ban all abortions that might go into effect if Republicans are elected. So this clearly changes the political dynamic dramatically in Wisconsin.

But could I just weigh in on all of this? Because I think I`m going disagree with some of you here. What Democrats have to do if they are genuinely concerned about abortion rights is they have to win elections, and by the way, focusing on protests at the homes of Supreme Court justices is not the way to win hearts and minds. It may scratch an ideological itch, but in fact is not going to persuade. It`s more likely to alienate.

And I also disagree with Sarah that the Democrats don`t care about this because they passed security measures saying that we, you know, should protect members of the Supreme Court. That seems basic. I think that my criticism of Chuck Schumer would be, why don`t you go after the Republicans on their most vulnerable points? Why not have a vote tomorrow in the United States Senate on questions like, should there be exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother?

How about saying that there can be no bans on abortions for ectopic pregnancies? Make the Republicans go on record supporting some of these no- exception laws that exist in places like Missouri and Wisconsin. That would be -- if it`s a messaging law, if it`s a messaging bill, then why not have a message that highlights the real vulnerabilities as opposed to going through this ritual, which will just be futile and will frustrate activists in the Democratic base?

JOHNSON: Sarah, I want to give you a chance to respond to Charlie but I want to also want to add something here. This idea that the Democrats actually care about it, in my mind and in the minds I think of a lot of voters out there, it looks like the Democrats in the Senate were very quick to act on defending members of the Supreme Court who just snatched away the rights of hundreds of thousands of people, but they`re not nearly as aggressive in defending the rights of the men and women who put them in office.

Sarah, I`ll give you a chance to respond to Charlie.

KENDZIOR: Yes, exactly. It`s a matter of urgency, it`s a matter of what they think is important, and you see the same lack of concern and urgency on issues like voting rights, you know, which we need. Doesn`t matter how good your campaigns are, it doesn`t matter how good your candidates are. If we don`t have voting rights then you`re going to be unable to get the people in office to reverse policies like that.

And they haven`t moved on that either. I mean, they haven`t even restored the Postal Service. So they`ve acted with a lack of urgency on a number of issues. I think this one is particularly resonant in the fact that they did manage to get together like some kind of centrist Voltron and assemble a little bill to protect the protect who are taking away our rights. Yes, that`s not going to sit well with Democratic voters. I don`t think it`s going to sit well with Americans in general.

SYKES: It will. Wrong. No.

JOHNSON: Victoria, I want to mention this. One second, Charlie. I`m going to get to Victoria. I`ll get right back to you.

Victoria, I also want to add this, and your thoughts on this. Both of us, we`ve all been sort of talking about this idea of turning out in persuasion one way or the other. Political scientists, I don`t really think anyone is getting persuaded anymore. I think this is an issue of turnout.

Do you think that abortion is the kind of issue that will persuade mythical Republican women to vote Democratic? Or do you think it`s more likely to just turn out what is occasionally a sluggish base of Democrats during the midterms?

SOTO: I think it`s both. Right. I think that there is the base. We know that in midterms, typically, low propensity voters don`t come out. But I think that the issue now that we`re seeing is going to push those folks most affected by these restrictions, by these abortion restrictions, namely black and brown women to turn out where they may not have otherwise turn out. So I think that`s one piece of it.

And I do think that there can be some persuasion, but a lot of it is going to depend on the Democratic Party, on Democratic operatives, of how they package it, right, because it`s going to be different on how you relate to an independent woman, in the suburbs to a country club Republican woman.


So there`s going to have to also be a lot of skill involved. You can`t just be like, OK, there`s overreach. Look at how crazy this is. There has to be the work put in. If it is, I do think there is the potential to see the needle move toward the Democratic Party. And perhaps help them maintain the house or at the very least not be the losses that they were expecting.

JOHNSON: Charlie, I`ll give you the final word. I know you were chopping at the bit.

SYKES: You know, that, you know, tactics, you know, should be smart. You know, try to actually win elections. If you`re against mob violence when it`s the other guy, then you shouldn`t encourage any sort of mobs when it is your side. Also, in all the security of -- I guess part of this is the whataboutism. That it is important to say that, you know, we are going to have a vigorous, vigorous debate about this issue, but some things are off the table.

We don`t go to the homes where you have justices and their families and their children. I think that offends a lot of Americans. That is not a winning issue. We should not be talking about that. FOX News wants to talk all the time about this issue about the protests. We, if you are concerned about this, if you want to win this issue, talk about the overreach, the extreme legislation in places like Louisiana.

Talk about what they`re trying to do about the abortion bill, about Plan B, about women who have been raped or the victims of incest. Those are the issues that in fact, Jason, I do think will persuade people, will turn people off. But embracing any sort of culture of threats may make you feel good, but it is not an effective strategy if you really want in the end to make a difference.

JOHNSON: I don`t know. If you`re trying to galvanize people under 25, the idea of Susan Collins calling the cops on people for putting a chalk outline outside her house, I mean, I don`t know, that`s the kind of thing that kids get excited about and vote for.

Charlie Sykes, Sarah Kendzior and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, thank you all so much for starting us off on the show today.

SYKES: Thank you.

KENDZIOR: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Coming up, Democrats are dropping a new mix tape. New reports that the January 6th Committee has been making videos of witness testimony, and those could soon be made public. Plus, a dramatic new twist in the fight over Florida`s "Don`t Say Gay" law.

Our exclusive interview with a high schooler president who says his graduation speech is being censored by the principal. And why Republicans are suddenly running away from their plan to raise taxes on the poor and Sunset Medicare. Senator Chris van Hollen is next.

All that, plus a tan suit edition of who wore it better? Stay with us on THE BEAT.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How well are we going to sleep at night knowing that every five years, MAGA Republicans, if they`re still Republican, as I said, this is not your father`s Republican Party, if we`re going to vote on whether you will have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?


JOHNSON: Prices are up. Everyone knows it. Today President Biden warning, quote, "ultra MAGA Republicans will make the problem worse." Biden singling out Republican Senator Rick Scott. He`s proposing to raise taxes on more than half of Americans while ending Social Security and Medicare. It`s an absolute political loser. The "Times" reporting Mitch McConnell has repeatedly told Scott to pipe down about the plan, and FOX News has fact- checked Scott to his face.


JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS HOST: So that would raise taxes on half of Americans and potentially sunset programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Why would you propose something like that in an election year?

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Sure. Well, John, that`s of course the Democrat talking points. It`s a --

ROBERTS: No, no, it`s in the plan. It`s in the plan.

SCOTT: Well, but --


JOHNSON: Look, when FOX is that incredulous you`ve really stepped in the it. Biden trying to make Republicans own Scott`s plan while saying he`s taking steps on the supply chain, affordable housing, taxing the wealthy, and price gouging.

Inflation is a huge midterms factor. Today we`re seeing how Biden wants to frame it, spotlighting the, quote, "ultra-MAGA threat to the safety net," while saying he`s on top of the issue.


BIDEN: I want every American to know that I`m taking inflation very seriously, and it`s my top domestic priority.


JOHNSON: Joining me now is Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from Maryland who sits on the Senate Banking and Appropriations Committee amongst others.

Senator, it`s great to speak with you. I`m going to start with this. When I think of inflation, when I think of where gas prices have gone, when I think of the price of -- the shortages in formula and everything else like that, it seems to me that there have got to be multiple bad guys out there, right?

As a senator and sitting on the committee that looks at these kinds of issues, what is the number one cause for the inflation that we`re facing right now? Just the case, not the blame, but the cause.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, Jason, it`s good to be with you. The cause is what I call the four P`s, and one is Putin`s war. I mean, that`s driving up oil prices, it`s driving up the price of food and wheat. Second are pandemic supply chain issues. Third is price gouging. Big corporations taking advantage of the moment to try to gouge consumers. Fourth is politics.

And that`s why it was important that the president lays out exactly what he wants to do to reduce prices on everything from prescription drugs to child care and point out that Republicans are opposing that, and as you indicated, actually have their own plan that would raise taxes on lower and middle-income Americans and terminate Medicare and Social Security through a grandfather clause. So you know campaigns are about choices.


VAN HOLLEN: And Joe Biden is fond of saying, don`t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative. So he`s laying out his plan versus theirs.

JOHNSON: So, you know, when I think of Rick Scott`s tax plan, it reminds me of like Paul Ryan 10 years ago when he had a tax plan. Republican were like, no, no, it`s just theory. Back in the envelope, don`t really look at that over there.

I want to play this clip of Senator Scott and get your thoughts about this. What would his tax plan really mean to the American people? Let`s play that clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You lead your party`s GOP Senate fundraising, so is it the platform or not?

SCOTT: Well, clearly it`s not the platform for the Republican Party. I put out my ideas. I hope everybody will give me their ideas. We`re going to continue to make changes.


JOHNSON: I mean, it`s not the plan but it`s the main one we`re talking about.

Senator, what would this plan do? Like, if this plan gets implemented, Republicans take over the Senate next year, what does this plan do to your average person`s pocketbook right here, right now, living in Largo, Maryland?

VAN HOLLEN: So, Jason, Rick Scott and Republicans think that big corporations and wealthy Americans pay too much in taxes. They don`t want to close those loopholes. They think lower and middle-income Americans don`t pay enough. And so what their plan would do is very straight forward. It would raise taxes on lower and middle-income Americans, and at the same time that it would raise their taxes it would take away their retirement security and their medical security if they were on Social Security or Medicare.

That`s exactly what it does. That`s why Mitch McConnell is saying, shh, don`t tell anybody, Senator Scott, about the plan but of course Mitch McConnell is not telling anybody what they would do. We`re leaving it to Senator Scott and his colleagues to do that, although I will say, Jason, as we heard, Mitch McConnell did leave very much open the prospect that they would have a national ban on abortion if they were in charge.

JOHNSON: Right. So the other bad guy that I see in inflation is the businesses, who are charging. They`re not forced to charge. They charge what they want to charge. I want to play this audio that we have from the show last week. A bunch of CEOs talking about how this price gouging has worked for them and get your thoughts on that, too.


MONISH PATOLAWALA, 3M CFO: The team has done a marvelous job in driving price.

DONNIE KING, TYSON FOODS PRESIDENT AND CEO: Our sales gains were largely driven by higher average sales price. Average sales price trends reflect successful pricing strategies during the ongoing inflationary environment.

ANDY CALLAHAN, HOSTESS BRANDS PRESIDENT AND CEO: Consumers get used to it. When all prices go up, it helps.

GARTH HANKINSON, CONSTELLATION BRANDS CFO: We`re not leaving any pricing on the table. We want to take as much as we can.


JOHNSON: They`re just gouging people. They`re not saying, hey, we have to do this to make up for losses. They`re using the environment we`re in now to gouge regular men and women who have to go to work every day.

Senator, what is Joe Biden going to do about this? Because when I hear these kinds of voices, I am outraged for the men and women out there who are still suffering in the middle of this COVID recovery with prices that they don`t need to be getting charged right now.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, you`re exactly right as to what`s happening. That`s price gouging pure and simple and they`re taking those profits and they`re not reinvesting them in workers or raising wages. They`re doing stock buybacks for their shareholders. So we are pushing the Federal Trade Commission to use all the tools at its disposal to go after price gouging, and they are doing everything in their power right now, I think, to do it.

Now, one of the things Republicans have done is they prevented us from putting in place a full contingent of members on the FTC, right? So they`re using their powers of obstruction to try to prevent the FTC from having a full contingent so that they can help protect consumers. So we`re going to be working to make sure we get that nomination in place. Those are the kind of things that the president is working to do.

He of course did release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a million barrels a day. They are using these tools, but if we had any cooperation from Republicans, and I`m not under any illusion that we will.


VAN HOLLEN: We would be able to better address some of these things. But when you have blanket political opposition for purely, you know, purposes of trying to deny the country, you know, an opportunity to get out of this price situation, that`s what November`s all about. And that`s why it is important we tell the voters what`s happening.


JOHNSON: Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you so very much for joining us tonight.

HOLLEN: Great to be with a fellow Marylander. Good to see you.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Coming up in just 60 seconds, MAGA Senator Josh Hawley seen here auditioning for an Axe body spray head and also fist-pumping insurrectionists is now attacking Disney for opposing Don`t Say Gay -- for the opposing Don`t Say Gay law. We see you and we have a fact check for you. But first, the January 6 testimony is on tape. And there`s much more to this storm. Well, we`re back in just 60 seconds.


JOHNSON: Already there are tapes. The MAGA right committee has receipts, not just testimony and documents. But those videotapes. The plan for the tapes is not currently clear, but they may become public. One anonymous source telling Politico you`d have to be woefully naive. If you don`t think they`re going to use some of the videos at the hearings. Those public hearings, at least eight of them are slated to start next month, set your DVRs. One video that won`t be at the hearings, an interview with Trump ally, Rudy Giuliani, you bailed on the scheduled interview last week after the committee refused to let him have his own aid, tape the interview.


RUDY GUILIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: I had my guy already to do my video, they were going to do their video. All I wanted was my own version of the tape. I would not use it. Unless they lied about me. If they lied about me, I was going to use it to take the heads off. They called yesterday and said they didn`t want me to have a tape -- they would do one for me.


JOHNSON: Joining me now is Kurt Bardella, adviser to the DNC and the DCCC and the king of country music, as far as I know. Kurt, so I have a bunch of questions for you. Whenever we talk, you`re always the voice of people saying hey, the Democrats should be doing this, Hey, this is what the Republicans will be doing. This is, you know, we know that. But I`m going to ask you upfront knowing that these hearings with these tapes are starting next month, I want you to operate like a producer, you are a movie producer. How would you layout next month`s hearings? Who`s your star? Who`s -- what`s the big climax you`re going to have? What`s the scene that`s going to have everybody crying at the end? As producer Kurt of next month`s hearings? How would you lay it out?

KURT BARDELLA, ADVISOR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, Jason, I think that really the most effective way to talk about this in the course of a congressional hearing is chronologically. You take everybody through, literally minute by minute, what was going on, what they were doing, what people in the White House were doing, we know that this committee has garnered an amazing array of testimony from people who were there, who were in the room. I`m not talking about the Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows. I`m talking about the people that they rely on the aides, the assistants, the people who got directives.

We all know that people like Mark Meadows and Steve Bannon, and anyone in the upper echelon of the White House, they need this whole cast of what they would call minions to get things done. That`s who they rely on. That`s who they trust. And that`s who`s been talking to this committee. That`s how this committee has been able to construct a minute-by-minute accounting of what`s happened because they`ve gotten it from those people.

They don`t need Steve Bannon. They don`t need Mark Meadows per se. And so, I think the most effective way to convey to American people what happened is to do it chronologically. And take them literally minute by minute, use footage, use emails, use testimony, use all the tools that you have at your disposal to tell that story.

JOHNSON: So, I`m also thinking and we talk about this all the time, I see your tweets, I see other people tweeting about this. There`s some terrible moment both the Republicans and our immediate reactions like, oh my gosh, that should be an ad. Oh my gosh, that`s the only commercials you`re going to need. Should the Democratic Party and I know you`re talking to the DCCC on a regular basis, should they have a rapid response team right there during the entire hearings cutting clips the moment they come out and sending them online for vulnerable Democrats or should they sit around and wait for people to take it to a studio and produce it afterwards. Because I`m thinking there should be rapid response videos being sent out after every single night at a hearing.


BARDELLA: Jason, I think that every single person in democratic politics that has the means and knowledge and ability to do so should be putting together rapid response in real-time, because that`s, frankly, what the Republicans would do. And yet we`ll talk earlier as he introduced this segment, me being a former Republican talking about this is what Republicans would do the Democrats, if the situation were reversed, well, they would have a rapid response tsunami that would blink it everything highlighting every single minute, every single testimony, every single soundbite every single piece of evidence. And I think Democrats would be wise to replicate that as well.

JOHNSON: So, going forward, you know, there are certain kinds of Republicans that I think are just kind of true believers, you`ve got your Marjorie Taylor greens, you`ve got your Madison Cawthorn. And then you have the other kind of Republicans who I always believe actually know better. And they`re just kind of weasels who lie because they have no political spine. I`m going to play a clip from one of those, I`m going to get your thoughts about this particular individual, and the role he might play after I play it.


GUILIANI: You got a bunch of people on that committee to try to frame the sitting president of the United States, and I`m going to trust them. I have a tape of every deposition I`ve ever taken with very, very honest lawyer. I`m sorry, I`m not dealing with very honest people.


JOHNSON: Kurt, are any of these people, we`re dealing with honest people, your thoughts?

BARDELLA: That`s a trick question. Right, Jason? No, of course, they`re not they are known, serial liars. And I`ll tell you one of the things that`s going to be very unique about these proceedings, that`s going to be very -- even from the Mueller proceedings, different from impeachment. There`s not going to be the Jim Jordan`s, the Matt Gaetz`s, the Louie Gohmert`s, the Steve King`s, the clown show, they`re not a part of this hearing, because Kevin McCarthy made the ingenious decision not to put anybody forward that could actually defend the president.

So, this hearing, these proceedings is going to be wall-to-wall message discipline -- wall-to-wall well controlled by people who believe in the purpose of this committee, there`s not going to be any filibustering of witnesses. There`s not going to be any random redirects, talking about things that have nothing to do with the topic like child pornography. It`s not going to be a repeat of what we saw during the confirmation hearings.

It`s going to be straightforward. It`s going to be direct. It`s going to be on message and Republicans will have no way to disrupt it. And I believe that as Donald Trump is watching that, he`s going to lose his mind, wondering why isn`t anybody out there defending me? It was a huge tactical mistake by Kevin McCarthy.

JOHNSON: Thank goodness he`s not going to be back on Twitter by then. Kurt Bardella, as usual, thank you so much. Ahead, MAGA, Senator Josh Hawley goes from fist-pumping insurrectionists to feuding with Mickey Mouse. I will explain. But first, I`ll talk to the high school students suing over Ron DeSantis Don`t Say Gay law.



JOHNSON: Turning now to a brave and incredible student who was taking on Florida`s so-called Don`t Say Gay law. Zander Moricz is the first openly gay class president at his Sarasota High School. He`s also the youngest public plaintiff and a federal lawsuit against Florida to strike down the law. The Harvard-bound Sr. has been a vocal critic of Don`t Say Gay even organizing a school walkout that hundreds of students attended. Here he is testifying against the bill at the State Senate.


ZANDER MORICZ, CLASS PRESIDENT, PINE VIEW SCHOOL: If you`re doing this for Florida, or the United States, or for freedom, you`re a false patriot and we can tell. My name is Zander. I`m a student. I`m an activist. I`m a brother and a son. I`m a queer man, and all of me is threatened by this legislation.


JOHNSON: Tonight, and a stunning escalation. Moricz claims that he is being censored by his high school after his principal warned him not to mention his activism or the lawsuit in his upcoming graduation speech. He says that doing so would force the school to cut his microphone and halt the ceremony. But more it`s his fighting back and speaking out, organizing a say gay initiative that aims to send 10,000 stickers to seniors across the state to where as they walk across the graduation stage.

Just moments ago, we got a statement from the school district saying quote, all material is reviewed and approved by school personnel to be sure it`s appropriate. Also, quote, school`s administrators review students` speeches for appropriateness prior to graduation in a manner that is consistent with existing law, including the First Amendment. I don`t know what that means. But I know that these people will. Zander Moricz is my special guest tonight, along with one of his attorneys in the suit, John Quinn.

Zander, first off, I just want to say I`m incredibly impressed with what you`re trying to do with what you`re standing up for. And you are a role model for kids in and out of school and adults as well. So, I`m very honored to speak to you tonight. I want to start with this. You were told by your principal that they may cut your microphone. Did the principles specifically say, you know, some kind of activism is good or bad, or did he specifically say if you mentioned anything about your queer identity that they`re going to cut them like, what were the parameters that he laid out to you or that your principal laid out to you when they sort of put out this threat?

MORICZ: So, the parameters are very vague as the language of the bill is and as everything involving this LGBTQ censorship is -- I came into the meeting and the room just felt disgusting. It`s like when a jury is going to send someone to death and they don`t make eye contact, and everything`s choppy and weird. And then they let me know that the reason it was problematic is because the activism is controversial. And that was heartbreaking and made me tremendously angry because I was told that my human rights are controversial. And I was told to go over there.


JOHNSON: So, John, I want to ask you this, because this is sort of the legal question. the Don`t Say Gay law specifies that teachers and public schools cannot talk about sexual identity, queer identity, or anything else like that. When it comes to instruction in the classroom. Would that apply to a graduation speech? Is that still considered an instructional environment? I mean, how does the Don`t Say Gay law have any impact on what Zander was trying to do?

JOHN QUINN, PARTNER, KAPLAN HECKER AND FINK: Well, Jason, the question you`ve asked highlights and underscores the vagueness of this law, which is one of its quintessential problems. It prohibits classroom instruction and undefined term by teachers or third parties. School personnel, or third parties. One of the questions we`ve raised is does that mean students? What happens when students speak in school about their own identities, their own families?

This is highlighting exactly the kind of vagueness that invites discrimination and censorship. And what`s so critical here. This law isn`t even in effect yet. The message from Florida`s legislature and Florida`s governor has already been heard by school districts, this is all going to get much worse as the bill actually takes effect in July, unless it`s stopped, which is what we`re trying to do.

JOHNSON: Zander there are stories like this all over the country of young people being censored or being told that their very identity is a problem. I want to take this back to just in your school walking around the hallway. What are other high school students saying to you, I mean, when you walk down the hallway are people like hey Zander, this is really cool. I`m with you. Are the other students afraid of you? Are they being told by their parents don`t be around Zander Moricz? What`s it like going to school every day being an activist in an environment where the entire state is trying to cancel your existence.

MORICZ: So, this just blew up. But I`ve been working on the activism and organizing that I`ve done around my rights and human rights for several years. And when it really first started, it was pretty polarizing in school. But I would say that my community has been excellent. And the majority of my peers, I`ve always had my back, I have a team there. If I have to run out for a call or do a meeting, I always have someone who will take notes. And everyone has been amazing.

It`s really the community outside of school. That`s a problem. I`ve had people come into my parents` offices screaming about me looking for me. And it`s really outside of school where that communities a problem. But my peers, the people that are in my generation with me have had my back. And I`m just so grateful for it. Because I don`t know if I could do without them.

JOHNSON: John, so you`re suing in order for Zander to give this speech and not be censored one way or another. But this is also going to be happening around the country. If there are parents out there watching right now, what would you want to tell them that they should be doing for their young people because this kind of censorship, it does happen all the time, whether student wants to talk about their sexual identity, whether student wants to talk about their Black Lives Matter activism, whether student wants to talk about their environmental activism, what would you advise a parent do if their son or daughter comes home and says, hey, the principal told me I can`t talk about X.? What should be the next step?

QUINN: Well, first, Jason, that clarify our lawsuit seeks to block implementation of this law throughout Florida. So not just for Zander, within the whole state of Florida, we`re seeking to block this unconstitutional law. As for what I`d suggest for parents elsewhere, you know, of course, I advise everyone to create a loving and supportive environment for their children to create supportive families and, you know, to engage with their communities and try to ensure that their communities and their schools, you know, abide by the requirements of the constitution and uphold the rights and the equal dignity of all of our citizens.

JOHNSON: Zander Moricz and John Quinn, thank you. You are American heroes. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

MORICZ: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Senator fist pump, Josh Hawley is the latest Disney villain. He`s worse than Jaffar. Will explain next.



JOHNSON: Republicans love picking fights with children`s characters. In the 90s Teletubbies were grooming your kids. In the early aughts, it was Mitt Romney where it was going to fire Big Bird. Now Republicans are picking a fight with Mickey Mouse. Senator Josh Hawley seen here waving his hands in the air like he just doesn`t care about encouraging January 6 terrorists. Is now going after Disney for opposing mini-Trump`s Don`t Say Gay law in Florida. Hawley was so proud of that fist pump. He sold the photo on campaign beer koozies and mugs with the quote, show me strong. Here`s what`s not strong, attacking iconic Disney characters and saying things like this.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): There were irregularities in the selection that there was fraud. Nobody disputes that. I just want to know is this a person who`s going to protect our kids or who is going to protect child sex predators. Ellipse attack on America leads directly to an attack on men. I think the liberal attack, the left-wing attack on manhood says to men your part of the problem. The left, they hate this country but they also, they don`t believe in gender.


JOHNSON: So, senator the roof is on fire, is now pushing this bill. To resend Disney`s special copyright protection. Saying it`s time to take away Disney`s special privileges. Hawley joining DeSantis as the latest Disney villain.


DAVID OGDEN STIERS, ACTOR: They don`t want us to take it from them. Whether who. I`ll just have to take it by force.


JEREMY IRONS, ACTOR: And you shall never see the light of another day.

LUKE EVANS, ACTOR: It`s not right for a woman to read. Soon when she starts getting ideas and thinking.

JONATHAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Finally, you will bow to me.


JOHNSON: I literally think that guy from the Beauty and Beast was quoting him. Hawley is attacking the so-called Mickey Mouse Protection Act. The senator says quote, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists. It`s time to take away Disney`s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation. This isn`t pandering.

It`s a company standing up for LGBTQ rights, rights that have overwhelming nationwide support. And wasn`t the GOP the party of big business? Now they want to attack major corporations. Governor DeSantis is facing lawsuits and public outrage. Maybe senator YMCA should pick a better fight. Ahead, Obama, McConnell, and the return of the tan suit. We get back on THE BEAT.


JOHNSON: Finally, tonight, we couldn`t help but notice that Mitch McConnell donned a tan suit as the weather turned nice here in D.C. Reminding us of course that Barack Obama once wore a tan suit which the right turned into one of the biggest faux scandals of his presidency. Here on THE BEAT, we stand up for a bipartisan right to go tan. So, you decide who wore it best, Obama or McConnell. That does it for me tonight. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" with all of her fashion sense is up next.