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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/19/22

Guests: Howard Dean, Christina Greer


Republicans fuming over Trump-influenced Pennsylvania primary leading the state`s Republican Party chair calling it "cockamamie." FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch dodged on race controversy engulfing Tucker Carlson. Joe Biden dubs Vladimir Putin a war criminal, but the Biden administration opposes the war crimes in court because it could come after the Americans. NBC Justice Correspondent Pete Williams announces he will retire.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes during these extraordinary times. We`re grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thanks so much. Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone.

We begin with the latest earthquakes that continue to come out of those primaries we`ve been covering. Republicans in Pennsylvania are now upset with Trump, slamming his influence in the primary where votes of course are still being counted. The Trump endorsed TV doctor, Oz, still neck and neck with McCormick in that Senate primary race. A far-right election denier Mastriano is now the candidate for governor of this once sort of centrist state. The Republican chair there says it is, quote, "The most cockamamie election I`ve ever seen in my life."

Also some bad news hitting Trump in Georgia. He is under criminal investigation there. And a poll from FOX shows Brian Kemp holding a large lead over David Perdue.

We got more than one topic to get to, but I want to bring in Howard Dean right now. Former DNC chair and Vermont governor.

This is one of those weeks were if you watch MSNBC you`ve seen Steve at the big board. We had his great company last night. Votes are still being tallied but a lot of the story that you see in the numbers in Pennsylvania is really a tale of two states, two primaries, a real question of who will actually turn out in November. And the question to you, are Republicans hurting themselves with this slate in that key state?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: I think Republicans are hurting themselves already all over the place. First of all, this is the Republican court that did this. But 68 percent of the people in this country believe that Roe versus Wade should not be overturned. That`s going to create some really serious headwinds in places like Georgia, where there are a lot of moderate voters who might lean Republican but couldn`t do it the last time, which is how Warnock and Ossoff got it, and it`s how Warnock is going to get on in this time.

Pennsylvania is a perfect example of that. This guy Mastriano, I think he`s nuts. Denying that the election was fair. How do you think all of those Pennsylvania voters are going to go to the ballot, go to the voting booth believing that they want somebody like that to appoint their secretary of state? So, you know, I don`t think Trump is doing the Republicans any favors.

MELBER: Yes. And you laid that out, it reminds people of course why is Chuck Schumer leading the Senate? Why are certain votes being held? Why was the Supreme Court nominee just confirmed? And, as you say, part of what happened out of Georgia and it`s not taking anything away from some of the campaigns those Democrats ran to know that the extremism clearly was rejected by voters in that state.

Speaking of that and the environment we`re in, I did want to speak to you about something that we`ve talked about before, which is, of course, the gun problem in this country, the hate problem in this country, and where it all ties back to the uproar over the replacement theory and the hate and the racism which was cited by the Buffalo shooting suspect is putting corporate pressure.

The governor stays, but take a look at the pressure on Lachlan Murdoch who is the CEO of FOX now dodging when asked about primetime content and the, quote, "advertiser hesitancy" over some of it and the accusations of racism on Carlson`s program.

Now we have a quote for you. Quote, "We`re not only in the news business," he says. "And when you talk to our fans in middle America people are heavy FOX News viewers they don`t see us as a news business either. They see us as an American media brand."

Governor, I`m also going to play a little bit of Tucker in a moment that we put together. But your response to that. On the one hand it shows there is some pressure. The company seems to need something. They seem to feel the need to acknowledge that this is not, quote, "news." Another way of perhaps saying it`s not true. What do you see there?

DEAN: I see the brand of FOX being hate, anger, dishonesty and now murder.

MELBER: Go on, if you want.

DEAN: That`s the brand. That`s the branch that the Murdochs have chosen to be their flagship communication. And I agree with Biden. Murdoch has harmed this country more than any other human being in my lifetime and he should never have been given citizenship.

One thing I`d change about our immigration policy is to send them back to Australia and keep them there, with the whole family.

MELBER: It`s funny you put it that way. And I don`t have a position on individual level of immigration. But you`re free to --

DEAN: If you cause that much trouble, and you spread lies and hate and anger and tear the United States apart with your crappy TV shows simply to make money, you do not belong, you do not deserve American citizenship. Period.

MELBER: Well, it`s interesting when you put it that way. Because a lot of this hate is being ginned up against random unnamed groups of minority immigrants. The replacement theory which we`ve been covering also has a strain that traffics anti-Semitism. And then Tucker Carlson this week is trying to have it both ways and say he doesn`t even understand what this is all about. We put together here, so people could see how he covers this and what his viewers are hearing.


How he`s responded to different types of violence, including murder, all depending on race. He is the one accusing everyone else of all this stuff, and yet take a look at the differing treatment from him.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX HOST: What he wrote does not add up to a manifesto. It is not a blueprint for a new extremist political movement.

A black nationalist and BLM supporter drove an SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was a slaughter.

Because a mentally ill teenager murders strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views.

And if indiscriminately murdering women and children at a Christmas parade isn`t terrorism, then what exactly is it?

There`s no obvious ideological lesson to draw from all this. Yet that hasn`t stopped the usual power-hungry morons from trying to leverage human pain for political advantage.

It`s still interesting to know a lot more about the man who apparently committed this crime. Frank James posted black supremacist rants on his YouTube channel.

The only thing that could make what happened in Charlottesville worse would be if we allowed a small number of people in power to make America less tolerant and less free in its aftermath.

Maybe if the entire news media tells you every day of your life that America hates you because of your skin color, why wouldn`t we see more crimes like this?


MELBER: Howard?

DEAN: You know, the guy is nuts. I mean really, you`re going to take this seriously in any way? But he`s dangerous because he`s got a lot of people who believe in this nonsense. I actually think he`s crazy. But he`s malevolently crazy and he`s a danger to the United States of America. And since we can`t take him off the air, we ought to boycott FOX. And I`ve had nothing to do with FOX for many, many years.

I won`t buy a product that`s advertised on FOX. But unfortunately, since I never watch FOX, I don`t know what`s advertising or not. But these people mean to harm the United States of America. And they are far worse than either what -- even what Carlson was saying there. It goes to anti-Semitism with the attacks on the synagogue in Pittsburgh. It goes to murders in Buffalo this week. But it also goes to supporting Vladimir Putin and his murder of hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine and driving people out.

This is a bad guy. And FOX is a bad company. And they ought to be treated accordingly. They are the enemy of the United States of America.

MELBER: Strongly put. But when you look at the way, especially trafficking in that condoning and even at times fomenting violence, it is really striking.

I mentioned more than one topic which we`ve got you on here. I want to turn to an update coming out of a January 6th probe that again relates to what links there can be between some of what we`ve talked about, lawless criminal behavior, violence and elites, whether they`re in media or government.

The January 6th probe -- the governor stays with me -- is looking at Republican Congressman Loudermilk. And they want to question him about a tour he led on insurrection even through parts of the Capitol on January 5th. The letter shows they`re actually looking at whether these members of Congress may, may have been trying to help do reconnaissance on the storming of their own building for the overthrow of their own government.

Another Democratic congressperson making news here, publicly discussing it back then. That was in January. They asked Capitol police to also look into it and she told Rachel here on MSNBC last year she saw these groups inside the Capitol and grew suspicious.


REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): I was really shocked when I got into the House office building and saw these groups inside. There would be no tours allowed, even tours given by members. And so the only reason you`d have a visitor is on official business. So to see these groups around the Capitol complex was really striking. And given what we know the next day of what happened it`s really shocking that those ties were made.


MELBER: That`s some of the reporting, Governor, now what we have is an investigation going forward. It comes in the same week that DOJ is asking for more of this evidence from the Congress to develop their leads.

I`m curious what you think about this. I`ll say to viewers as a journalist, in the investigative side, they`re looking at this. Whether there are benign explanations depends on how people cooperate and there may be. But that`s more than one source really questioning whether there was help from the inside.

DEAN: I think that`s right. And this -- your clip is particularly valuable because this is a former officer of the United States Armed Forces who served her country, which is more than I can say for most of the Republicans who ran around through the Capitol building wrecking the place. The truth is that there are despicable congresspeople on the right. It`s not because they`re conservatives, there are plenty of conservatives who I actually like and respect. It`s because they hate America and they hate the people of America.


When you consider that something like two-thirds of the Republican delegation in the House of Representatives voted to overthrow the election, these people hate America. And they are so consumed by their own hate, that they spread to their constituents. And I actually think their constituents are getting a little sick of it. And my hope is, as I`ve said before in this show, the real fix here is not electing more Democrats. It is voters coming to their senses and stop electing hate filled people who want violence and will do anything necessary to get their way.

MELBER: Yes, you make an important point there and you`re also drawing the difference between what people sometimes see in the partisan lens of all this that we`ve heard so many politicians say every election is the most important. I think that that does tire people because they`re like, well, can everything be that important?

And yet to your point, it`s only a part from one`s party preference. This is a time for choosing in America when you look at the pressures over choices between hate and racism, or just trying to have an equal pluralistic society. And are we going to have a democracy or not? We got people, for example, the new nominee in Pennsylvania who`s saying not. And people have to hear that clearly.

Governor Dean, always good to see you on more than one topic, sir.

DEAN: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely. Appreciate it.

Later tonight we have one of our special reports that we have been working on. It`s about accountability, it`s a walk through legal history, it`s going to share things that I don`t think you`re going to see anywhere else tonight. It also deals with a road to punishment for Putin.

That`s coming up tonight. And we`re also going to get into the Nuremberg trial. So stay with me on that.

But coming up next, why are so many Republicans actually trying to stop much needed emergency help for parents to get baby formula? And why are we going to get into the great, great late George Carlin? We`ll explain coming up on THE BEAT.



MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT. We were just talking to Governor Howard Dean and he mentioned the anticipation of what the Supreme Court is going to do about Roe v. Wade, which is a huge issue for many people`s lives and of course affect policy and politics. And that brings us to this story right now. What many see is the hypocrisy on the far right about life.

Consider that 192 House Republicans are voting against funding for baby formula, even amidst a nationwide shortage that many have said is the problem. Democrats got that passed anyway, but without all that Republican support.

Over in Delaware there`s a state-level plan for paid family leave. With all the economic problem it`s something that a lot of families say is helpful, every Republican there voted against it. And in Maryland, it was Democratic votes that also passed family leave this year. Enough to overcome one vote from the man you see on your screen, a Republican governor, who was trying to stop parents from getting this kind of help.

In Colorado, universal pre-K is the law. Most Republicans there try to prevent that. Those young children getting a little education as they get ready for kindergarten. Over in Louisiana, Republicans blocking efforts to raise the minimum wage which is among the lowest in the country and affects how parents and the working poor can take care of their kids.

So that is the Republican agenda. We mentioned the state level stuff on purpose because in the states, a lot of these decisions are going down and sometimes with less national scrutiny or awareness.

In Oklahoma, meanwhile, Republican-led legislature passing the strictest abortion ban in the country now, prohibits all abortions starting at, quote, "fertilization." That`s the agenda. That`s what`s happening. And that`s before we even get a final opinion on Roe. The leaked draft showed Republican appointees on the court trying to completely overturn that 50- year precedent.

Now Republicans say doing that, rolling back Roe is key to valuing life. Indeed this is a movement that spent decades declaring itself the true defenders of human life in America. And young human life and children and what they call the unborn children. But look at each of those Republican policies that are being enacted right now, or are trying to be enacted against Democrat votes.

It sounds like a criticism, but it`s literally just the policy that Republicans are voting to stop help for parents to feed their children or spend time with them while claiming to be for young life. It is a logical tension that is yes, so old in America, the late great George Carlin memorably put it on blast over 20 years ago.


GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN: Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren`t they? They`re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you`re born you`re on your own.


CARLIN: Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don`t want to know about you. They don`t want to hear from you. No nothing, no neonatal care, no daycare, no Head Start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you`re pre-born you`re fine. If you`re preschool, you`re (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You`re (EXPLETIVE DELETED). They`re not pro-life. You know what they are? They`re anti-woman. Simple as it gets. Anti-woman. They don`t like them.


MELBER: Comedy or truth? You can decide. Then there`s the "Daily Show" veteran Samantha Bee who hosts "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" and she also talks about this language about life.



SAMANTHA BEE, HOST, "FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE": Self-appointed soldiers of God have visited abortion providers with 185 incidents of arson, 42 bombings, 100 acid attacks, 26 attempted murders and 11 actual murders. You know, pro-life stuff.


MELBER: Pro-life stuff. Christina Greer is here when we`re back on all of this in one minute.




REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA): President Biden and the FDA must do more. This is a matter of life or death.

REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): The Biden administration has made every aspect of family life more difficult.

REP. STEPHANIE BICE (R-OK): All too often Republicans are called pro-birth or we`re told that we only care about children before they are born. This is simply not true.

REP. JOHN ROSE (R-TN): Parents want answers to what this president is doing.


MELBER: Republicans this month going after Joe Biden trying to hold him somehow responsible for the baby formula shortage, and yet each of the people you just saw on your screen have voted against the new emergency spending bill to try to deal with that shortage that`s affecting many American families.

On that and on life as we`ve been discussing I want to bring in political science professor Christina Greer.

Welcome back. Your thoughts from that to Samantha Bee to what we showed from George Carlin.

CHRISTIAN GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Well, Ari, we`ve been talking about this for years where the Republican Party is just against the American people. We know that, you know, they`ve tried to structure this as a pro-life pro-choice debate. We know that it`s pro-choice and anti-choice. They do not want women to have the ability to choose any part of their lives. Not just they`re doing it in pregnancies, but even afterwards.

So the fact that you saw what 192 Republicans and one Democrat, and Ari, I think it`s really important that we notice the Democrat who voted with Republicans, Lee Zeldin of New York. And so this is not some Southern Democrat, this is someone who`s running for the governorship of New York. And so we also have to look at these key states of Republicans who are in the north. We oftentimes try and put a lot of this on, you know, Southern Republicans behaving badly.

But it`s an infection that has eroded the entire party where we have just essentially a party that is against, not just women, but the health and wealth of this nation. And it`s quite frightening. Not just about overturning election or saying that Joe Biden isn`t the rightful president of this nation, it`s really structured so that they do not want to put any money towards taking care of American citizens and American children. And that is what`s really frightening about where we are right now.

MELBER: Yes, and against the backdrop of the attacks on what is still, as of today, the law of the land, a constitutional right for women to choose, here`s Congresswoman McBath.


REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): Millions of women in America, women in this room, women at your home and women you love and cherish have suffered a miscarriage. And so I ask, on behalf of these women, after which failed pregnancy should I have been imprisoned?


MELBER: Again that`s not rhetoric. The draft leaked opinion quotes approvingly an ancient treatise from an era before the United States was founded when women were considered property or chattel legally that imprisoned a woman over that very instance. And then Oklahoma, as I mentioned in our lead here, has a bill subjecting abortion providers and anyone who aids or abets an abortion to civil suits. It`s modeled after the Texas law. It would ban almost all abortions.

As a political science professor I asked you the question, is the road to imprisoning women and doctors far away?

GREER: Absolutely not, Ari. We`re not being histrionic. And I think it`s really important that you brought up the importance of states. Ever since this nation was found we`ve had this tension between a shared federalism. We had the federalist and anti- federalist. People who wanted everything in the national government versus people who wanted things with the states.


We remember state`s rights and how the civil rights movement had to try and move to the federal level to actually move legislation forward for not just African-Americans but for all Americans. And so when we think about states like Texas, five states total, where a woman can`t get a divorce if she`s pregnant. You know, those laws are still on the books on so many state- level elections. And when we look at that abysmal participation rates for state senators and state legislature races, when we look at how Republicans are making it so difficult for people to participate in their elections especially local and state elections, to say nothing of presidential elections.

We focus a lot on presidential elections but we know that they`re making it harder for us to participate even getting people in statehouses. And we know that that`s a road to Congress for many individuals.

It is a systematic ploy by the Republican Party, where they`ve been working very diligently from 1973, and a lot earlier than that, to make sure they disenfranchise so many Americans so that they can essentially have their will. And as I`ve said before, you know, in the words of Bell Hooks, to maintain a white nationalist, anti-black, patriarchal capitalist society. And we see that train is moving out of the station.

And as Malcolm X said, anything south of the Canadian border is the U.S. south. Oftentimes northern Democrats don`t pay attention too much and we put a lot of ire on, you know, those southern folks that are backwards. We need to pay attention because a lot of these laws are moving in Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Ohio and New York that are really just rolling the clock back in a lot of dangerous ways.

MELBER: Christina Greer with the facts and a little bit of the X.

GREER: It is his birthday. Happy Birthday Malcolm X.

MELBER: There you have it. We learned so much from our experts and professors.

Thank you for being here and for I know issues that you care about, speaking out on them and really helping us walk through it.

Let me tell folks what`s coming up because the special report I mentioned, our team has been working on this for a minute now. We`re going to talk about what accountability could look like for Vladimir Putin and what legal experts say can be learned from putting Nazis on trial. War crimes in Ukraine, a big investigation. Our special report next.



MELBER: Many Americans are focused on the range of challenges here at home. But meanwhile, the war in Ukraine is grinding through its 84th day. And our special report right now explores the path through any measure of accountability or justice. As Putin`s invasion has bombed these civilian targets, we`ve seen including homes, a maternity hospital for pregnant women were killed. A theater housing children where over 600 people died. And then those mass graves that show the toll and the horror. That`s just what is no, there are also reports of Russian mobile cremation units used to burn bodies and hide all kinds of evidence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The civilized world is reacting with horror to graphic evidence of massacres in Bucha.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People who survived described Russian soldiers indiscriminately shooting civilians.

ANTONY BLINKIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: War crimes have been committed in Ukraine. Personally, I agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier today, President Zelenskyy toured the carnage and Bucha for himself, saying it will be recognized by the world as genocide.


MELBER: These kinds of Russian attacks and alleged war crimes began as soon as the war began, indeed, just four days in a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian was shot in the head by a Russian soldier. Is there any way to pursue accountability for that kind of brutal attack on a defenseless civilian? Yes, indeed, there`s news tonight on this. The soldier accused of that attack I just mentioned was actually captured by Ukrainian forces and now convicted of a war crime, pleading guilty. And two other Russian soldiers are going on trial today in Ukraine for other offenses.

You can see some of that process here. It`s a reminder that Ukraine while under attack is still right now a state legally and otherwise with an army and a justice system and these measures of accountability. So, under Ukrainian law, those convictions make those soldiers who are criminals. But what about the man who gave them orders? You know, President Biden challenged usual decorum and tradition, to publicly declare already Vladimir Putin a war criminal.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the truth of the matter, you show what happened to Bucha. This warrants him -- he is a war criminal. Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be Ukrainian.


MELBER: That was a major rhetorical escalation by the president. And think about it like all recent presidents, he deals directly with Putin and foreign policy in negotiation as appear not some kind of war criminal outlaw. And raising even the prospect, even the idea in people`s minds, of a head of state being a war criminal conjures up the framework of deposing them and putting them on trial. Like the classic and grave example of how western allies put Nazis on trial after defeating Hitler.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nuremberg Germany once the shrine city of the Nazis ravaged by the war Hitler launched on the world. Ironically, the scene of the final chapter of his partners in conquest, American units were on security guard outside the Palace of Justice during his most momentous trial. No chances were taken on any escape plots.



MELBER: History`s most momentous trial. Certainly, true then. And at the time, those Nuremberg trials of Nazis were considered legally novel, and also quite essential to reckon with the mass slaughter and murder of millions in the Holocaust. And many hope to provide a type of future deterrent, that even in if there were to be more wars, or even existential wars, that seeing these trials and things punishments might dissuade some leaders from committing atrocities out of fear of later international accountability.

Many consider Nuremberg a kind of an example for post-war justice, about 161 defendants were convicted, three were acquitted, which also showed what the rule of law could do that it could separate between the ethical evil of these defeated Nazis and the legal requirements of evidence in a fair trial for war crimes.

Indeed, there was an Oscar-winning film that captured some of the global interest in all of this for its depiction of those trials dramatically and how those trials were really doing something. Above and beyond what had been this horrific world war. They were publicly reasserting the rules and notions of justice of western civilization itself after they were so fully attacked and shredded by the Nazis` horrific global brutality.


RICHARD WIDMARK, ACTOR: The prosecution is calling them to account for murder, brutalities, torture, atrocities. They share with all of leaders of the Third Reich. Responsibility for the most malignant, the most calculated, the most devastating crimes in the history of all mankind.


MELBER: And no drama, no speech, no piece of art could ever reach the sheer magnitude of what the Nazis did. And what Nuremberg in the west tried to do afterward. So that`s one model. It was built to handle that specific set of defendants after the World War.

Countries also have their own internal justice systems, like we mentioned the Ukraine prosecutions going on against some Russian soldiers now, or after the U.S. invasion, the Iraqi government put their former leader Saddam Hussein on trial and executed him or without any foreign war. Relatively recently, Egypt deposed its one-time authoritarian leader and put him on trial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s what everyone had been waiting to see. Pictures of Hosni Mubarak, the man who ruled his country for decades, incited defendants cage in an Egyptian courtroom. It was the first time a modern Arab leader has been put on trial fully by his own people. The ailing 83- year-old is charged with murder and attempted murder over the protesters killed during the uprising that overthrew him.


MELBER: In some countries that was considered shocking or impossible, and yet the notion that law governs people means no person can be above the law, even the most powerful. Finding a way to put Vladimir Putin on trial internationally, would be different. Over half a century after the World War II example I mentioned, there was a new war crimes tribunal set up around 2003.

The International Criminal Court at the Hague in the Netherlands, which has been discussed much lately. Now it is designed to try war crimes and genocide. It has convicted once-powerful heads of state, including the former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor, he was actually the first former head of state convicted this way since all the way back to Nuremberg.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, Charles Taylor was a striking figure in his trademark white suit and cane. Its allegations of murder, rape, torture, and forcing children to become soldiers. The rebels were infamous for chopping off the limbs of civilians, a signature act of the 11-year civil war.


MELBER: Taylor is currently serving his 50-year prison sentence that he got from that proceeding. The court also has held a trial of a sitting head of state, Milosevic. The Hague even featured a truly remarkable incident when a Bosnian general on trial drink poison in the court. In open court, trying to avoid what justice he might face.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The International Criminal Tribunal --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, in international court is a crime scene after this former general shocked the judges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Praljak, you may be seated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Saying he was not a war criminal rejecting their verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop please, please sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then drinking a bottle of mysterious liquid. In the courtroom, confusion. The interpreter translating, the bottle contained poison.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have taken poison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We suspend. Please, the curtains.


MELBER: Now, that shows you this thing can matter. I mean the Hague has its jurisdiction, it`s held trials, is exercised legal authority. So many series that main avenue investigate these Russian actions and allegations in Ukraine. So, it might be ready to even possibly put Vladimir Putin on trial. If that becomes practicable in the future, which is a major if no ICC officials are already on the ground in Ukraine from this court.

The Biden administration says that it supports some types of help, including gathering evidence. But here`s the thing now that you have the history and you see what the court does, and you see some of the trials is held. Here`s the thing. The Biden administration is against joining this court, the ICC, just like the last administration, and the one before that. In fact, both parties in the U.S. have generally opposed courts that could put U.S. officials on trial or even funding and cooperating with the ICC.

And the reasoning is largely admitted, it is a self-interested kind of double standard logic that asserts maybe only other countries could possibly commit war crimes. That`s kind of the logic President Bush sided and opposing anything that he said, might drag Americans before that court.


GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the International Criminal Court is troubling to the United States, as the United States works to bring peace around the world. Our diplomats and our soldiers can be dragged into this court. And that`s a very troubling --


MELBER: Very troubling to him and he has a point about that process. Indeed, he could have been talking about himself because years later, in 2012, a different court abroad found Bush guilty of war crimes in Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The five-panel tribunal unanimously decided that Bush and Blair committed genocide and crimes against peace and humanity when they invaded Iraq in 2003, in blatant violation of international law.


MELBER: And just as that example of a foreign prosecutor went after Bush for a ground war in Iraq. Another could conceivably pursue Obama for his drone air war, which has killed civilians. This is not just hypothetical stuff. The Guardian, a respected British publication, ran a human rights scholar`s piece asserting Obama likely violated international law and as you see on the screen, quote, may be guilty of war crimes.

Now, Bill Clinton took a technical step that involved the ICC back in 1988 but really had the same view as Bush saying he oppose any jurisdiction over U.S. personnel or ratifying the treaty. He also recommended that same stance for the next president. That does this war and these atrocities that I`ve shown you here a little bit, and I`m sure you`ve seen over the last several months.

Does it change any of that for the U.S.? Well, I asked Biden official in Pentagon spokesperson, John Kirby, and he reiterated that despite the president`s comments about Putin being a war criminal, the Biden administration opposes the ICC for this same stated reason.


JOHN KIRBY, PRESS SECRETARY, PENTAGON: I think that I would just speak to the concerns we`ve had in the past about the court and the possibility of possible prosecutions of American troops in war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that`s been a long-standing concern of the United States Department of Defense.


MELBER: Long-standing concern from what Clinton said to Bush, to Trump administration, which was very publicly anti ICC to Biden`s position. That`s the current legal and foreign policy bind for the U.S. if you want to look at this in-depth and seriously. The bottom line is what Kirby said there is they oppose the main avenue for international accountability for alleged war crimes by Russian soldiers or even Putin himself.

And let`s be clear, this is hard stuff. Many experts who`ve worked in this field for years agree that there are real complexities and drawbacks to the way the ICC runs from its limited powers to the fact that countries like Russia and U.S. will join it anyway. To its lack of enforcement body. To the practical dynamics that it really does, as one call to the victor`s justice. It does reflect the geopolitical reality of who wins wars, it doesn`t have its own army.

It`s not some independent ethical baseline for determining war crimes. It works with the winners, the victors. So, while the ICC is taking these concrete actions now, even without the U.S., as I`ve shown you. And these tribunals may deter some leaders out there. This is one of those stories where I just have to tell you the facts as they stack up. And the reality for Ukraine is as grim on this score as it is in so many other aspects of the war.


Putin`s alleged activities do not suggest from the intelligence we have in the public accounts that he is worried about going on trial. And Russia`s nuclear arsenal is a hard fact of international life. It`s a nuclear arsenal that allows Russia and whoever`s in charge of it, to defy truly much of the western world order. So, the Ukrainian people have gotten some help along the way, but clearly not enough on this score, or on the ground.

So, there are not many good options. That`s just the situation. That the rest of the world decides that it does want to do more to stop Putin through international legal jurisdiction, or economic measures, or other ways to try to hold him accountable or deter what he might do next. Well, like so much else in this brutal war, it is going to require a lot more collective sacrifice.



MELBER: Turning to some news of a retirement at NBC that`s actually so externally significant. It`s been marked and stories today in the Washington Post, and a host of national publications. NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams announcing he`ll retire after 29 years on the job.

He`s brought his reporting, experience, and stature to the busy project of covering the FBI and the DOJ, and the Supreme Court. If you`ve followed any major legal story in the last three decades, at one point or another, or throughout all of it, you have probably relied on Mr. Williams reporting on some of the most consequential legal stories of our time.


PETE WILLIAMS, HOST, NBC NEWS: The Supreme Court`s order which allowed for the manual recount is wiped off the books.

KATIE COURIC, FORMER HOST, NBC NEWS: NBC`s Pete Williams is at the Supreme Court as usual.

WILLIAMS: A very unusual late-night ruling from the United States Supreme Court 09:52 p.m.

The bottom line here is the Supreme Court has upheld the health care case. Now I haven`t had any chance to read what the vote breakdown is here.

We only know for certain Brian at this point of two explosive devices, the two that went off that have been causing all the injuries.

Soon same-sex couples will be able to marry across the country as this ruling becomes the law of the land.

It`s really brings together the three loves of Ruth Bader Ginsburg`s life, her family, the law -- excuse me, and opera. Kind of a tough day here.

He would step down at the end of this contentious term, which of course will be dominated by the issue of abortion.


MELBER: Pete Williams has been honored today by all the leaders of our company in our newsroom. I join them in cheering. This remarkable career. And Pete, we wish you plenty of well-deserved fun in a long and active retirement.



MELBER: Before we go, I got two things for you. One is serious, one will be fun. That`s going to come second. The serious thing relates to something we`ve been covering today. And all this week since that horrific shooting, which is accountability, and seriousness about the hateful rhetoric in our country and what it means when a mass murderer who committed the deadliest murder of the year is citing stuff that elected officials and public figures are saying.

What do we want to do about that? Protecting free speech, but having some thoughtful accountability within our country. So, something we haven`t had time to show you yet. I want to show you right now, Congresswoman Plaskett on the House floor, calling out her own colleagues about this hateful replacement theory cited by the Buffalo shooter.


REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-U.S.): This false ignorant race-baiting theory, called the great replacement has been used in multiple race-based domestic terrorist acts. There are a number of my Republican colleagues who spew this vile and venomous rhetoric, the silence of Republican leadership and their ranks, and condemning this rhetoric that is not just ripping our country apart but contributing to the death of Americans. That is -- that shows that they are no longer the party of Lincoln or even the party of Ronald Reagan.


MELBER: We wanted to hear what Plaskett said. And I`ll just add one more thought. We all lived through the protests in the pandemic about Black Lives Matter. We all remember that time. Do you remember how many people on the right were calling for condemnations of looting of property crimes of other things that did occur? Although they weren`t the main thing, we`ve done breakdowns of that. Where are those voices now on the deadliest murder spree of the year?

That`s a serious question. And that`s the serious part, as mentioned. Well, before we go, I got one more thing to show you which is I always like to tell people you know, we do the show, but we also put our time and effort into a lot of other stuff online sometimes fun stuff. Take a look at some of what doesn`t make THE BEAT at 06:00 eastern but we will share with you online if you join us.


MELBER: Oh my god, what time is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time to do the interview, Ari, put your phone down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a moment. It`s a mood. It`s a vibe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s part of the Trump M.O.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s desperate man.

MELBER: Michael and Ari.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like Roger and me.


MELBER: What do you got?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m at the Emmys. I`m on waiting to hear (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we need most is not etiology. It`s evidence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are you going to call me?

MELBER: This week.




MELBER: OK. And if Dr. Ruth says it, it`s got to be real. So, I mentioned that because everything you just saw is not T.V. interviews. It`s stuff that we share, that we sometimes produce for you on our social and digital properties. So come follow me @AriMelber on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, if you like or join me at You can sign up. You can keep in touch with me if that stuff interests you.

And if you doesn`t, well, then just keep meeting up with us here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 3:00 p.m. Pacific for THE BEAT. Your choice, your call. Thanks for spending time with us. I`m going to hand it off to my friend Joy Reid. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID," is up next.