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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/2/22

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Melissa Murray, Michael J. Moore, Don Winslow


GOP preparing plan to limit abortion opposed to most Americans ahead of the midterm elections. Facing inflation, war and COVID hangover, with Biden`s approval at 42 percent Democrats wanted to make midterms about Trumpism. Michael J. Moore and Melissa Murray join Melber to talk about Donald Trump facing the heat in the Georgia probe as the grand jury selected. Don Winslow joins Melber and talks about how rhetoric and culture shape politics.


WALLACE: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes on this Monday. We are grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari. Happy Monday.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Monday, Nicolle. Nice to see you.

Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber. And we begin tonight with breaking news on a very important story.

Right now we have new reporting, new signs and new evidence that right-wing conservatives across the America are moving much closer to a very long held and controversial goal. The policy objective is a nationwide and total ban on abortion, on women`s rights in that area. The Supreme Court is very close to a ruling that, according to a lot of available evidence, could open the door to that option.

In other words, the Supreme Court can make it easier for states to decide how to regulate or ban or limit abortion, and if they do that, essentially what many see would be gutting Roe v. Wade. If they do that. Well, I`m about to show you the evidence that conservatives are moving towards trying to make abortion something that people don`t have access to in many or most parts of the country. This is something top Republicans have been planning.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: As we stand here today, we may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe vs. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs.


MELBER: That was Mike Pence`s view referring to the case I mentioned in the news right now is that there is a conservative blueprint now being basically worked on and explored so that they can hit go as soon as the Supreme Court rules in this case and gives what many expect, and clearly what these conservative operatives expect to be a green light to this kind of limits.

The idea is to make access to abortion basically functionally impossible in most places, and it`s the ground work to get to what has long been a goal of the right-wing movement on everything from how people are selected for the courts and the Supreme Court, to who is allowed to run on the Republican ticket. A nationwide abortion ban. Anti-abortion groups and their allies in Congress, are, quote, "meeting behind the scenes."

That is to say, currently meeting in secret, working on this national plan for a strict nationwide ban on abortion, according to new reporting from "The Washington Post." There are two Republican senators who are clearly on board, including Joni Ernst, the Iowa senator who would introduce a bill according to this reporting. There are activists as well in Texas, where Republicans have paid no apparent political price for banning abortion there either.

Now, that may not be true in many other states, but it shows you how serious this effort is even before the Supreme Court has ruled. Republicans eyeing a fight that would clearly ignite a political firestorm. It would mobilize their base, according to everything we know, but it would also galvanize not only opponents of this type of regulation, not only people in the pro-choice community or other people who just think this goes too far, but a lot of other Americans, including some, who according to the data, were open to Trumpism and voted for Trump. Because depending on how to ask the question, about 60 percent of Americans oppose this kind of widespread abortion bans but it`s something the right keeps pushing.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can`t just pass abortion bans, but we`ve got to maintain Godly leadership.

PENCE: As we stand here today, we may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe vs. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs.


MELBER: This is a kind of story that is both old and new. Old because it has been such a long running effort but new because there is such a clear and potential breakthrough here among these groups.

I`m joined by "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg and a former Obama pollster Cornell Belcher who`s an MSNBC analyst.

Michelle, how seriously should people take this before the Supreme Court decision comes down?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: I mean, I think they should take it extremely seriously. It`s always obviously been the goal. Look, I would be shocked if Roe vs. Wade still exists by the end of this summer. You know, I think initially when the Supreme Court accepted this case, this Dobbs case, the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, there was some debate about whether they were just going to sort of gut Roe vs. Wade or overturn it outright.

Their abortion jurisprudence since then particularly with regard to the Texas bounty law, I think makes it seem more likely that they`re not that concerned about public perception and are willing to just scrap it entirely.


And obviously the people who`ve been going around saying that abortion is murder, some of whom believe it, some of whom are just being cynical, are not going to be happy with murder just happening in some states, right? Their goal has always been to treat this like a crime. And so I think that, look, we`re not going to see, we`re obviously not going to see a federal abortion ban as long as Joe Biden is president.

If and when there`s a Republican president or a Republican trifecta, of course they`re going to try to do this, and I wouldn`t be surprised if they get rid of the filibuster in order to pass something like this through the Senate.

MELBER: Cornell?

CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER OBAMA POLLSTER: Yes, I mean, the key thing here for politically speaking, electorally speaking is in fact that fear point of what happens if Republicans are in charge? Sure to your point, Ari, they can fire up their base around this.

Ari, the base of voters who quite frankly don`t want Roe v. Wade overturned is a lot bigger than their base of voters who do want it overturned. And the key question sort of puzzling Democrats going into the midterm, as you`ve seen it all in the polls, is that this enthusiasm gap where, you know, sort of, you know, Democratic or left-leaning voters, the majority of voters, that large majority of Biden`s coalition, certain segments of them just aren`t enthusiastic and mobilized.

This to me is classic Republican overreach. They are giving Democrats an opportunity to energize and mobilize women all across this country. And look, you know, there was -- Republicans lost college-educated white women by three points last election. It was something that Obama didn`t win college educated white women, Hillary didn`t win college educated white women.

This move by Trump and this radical sort of movement and attack on women`s rights and moving women steadily away, they can`t win the midterms if these women in the suburbs are energized and mobilized around this single issue. We`ve seen single issue voting on the right. It would be really interesting if they strip away women`s rights and we start seeing that single issue voting going into the midterm around with women voters.

But also men voters because, Ari, it`s not just women who don`t want Roe v. Wade to go away. It`s also an awful lot of men who also don`t want Roe v. Wade to go away.

MELBER: Well, and you`re both speaking to those issues. I mean, on the 60 percent, there`s clearly people in there who whatever their reasons are did support Trump, but don`t support this. And as Cornell says, that may be a wedge. That doesn`t deal with the short-term and sweeping human rights impact.

Michelle mentioned what would happen if Republicans take back both Houses of Congress. And there are signs that they are on their way with some momentum depending what happens in November, which has the Biden White House here, according to some reporting, trying to make the midterms more about Trump. They want to have a dominant emphasis on the Republican Party`s fixation with the big lie, sort of looking backward. Politico reporting that that might make it less of a referendum on Biden.

I want to mention before I bring our guests back that Democrats did try a version of this last year in Virginia which didn`t work. They argued that the Republican candidate there, Youngkin, was a kind of a mini-Trump, but Youngkin found a few ways to show that -- he argued he wasn`t a carbon copy. Voters there seemed to buy the distinction.

Now we have Republicans, though, running, who do look more Trumpy, especially as mentioned on this obsession with the race that Trump lost. 13 election deniers now running for the top prosecutor job in 13 states, attorney general. 23 more running for secretary of state across 19 states. 53 election deniers are also on the ballot for governor.

This is an obsession. Among the examples, Kari Lake in Arizona.


KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to take orders, though, from an illegitimate president like Joe Biden. Arizona is going to do things the Arizona way.


MELBER: Cornell, I don`t imagine you can defend the entire record in Virginia last year for the Democrats because it didn`t quite land. Just one state. There`s other factors. We`ve discussed them. But when you read a Politico article like this, give it to us in plain English to the viewers. Is this what the White House might really be thinking? Can this work? Is this overstated?

BELCHER: Well, it`s complicated. And look, when you look at Virginia, and I`m a Virginian from real part of Virginia, Norfolk, downtown water. There`s a couple of things that you`ve got to keep in mind and it is sort of pattern that you see in problematic off years for Democrats, where Terry McAuliffe got more votes than Northam, which is surprising.

But Youngkin got even conservatively more votes than the last Republican there did, in which we saw a surge of Republican and miniature surge of Democrats but not the same sort of surge of Democrats that you saw Republican.


That`s the classic setup for midterms where you have in midterms you have 8 percent or 9 percent turnout difference between presidential on year and presidential off year. And guess who are pulling back, Ari? They`re younger voters, they`re unmarried women, they`re minority voters. So we need to engage and energize, and energize these voters.

I do think that Democrats have to make this a referendum, not a referendum on Biden, which Republicans wanted to make it, but a choice. A choice between Democrats and Republicans, a choice between -- and again, whatever Republicans have to offer. Right? What are in fact Republicans` answers to any of these problems? What are Republicans trying to do? You know attacking --

MELBER: I`m going to jump in. Cornell, does that mean Trumpifying everything or not, in your view?

BELCHER: I don`t think -- I think the whole Republican Party is now MAGA. If you look at the hate, it`s everything from attacking LGBTQ rights, attacking women`s rights, doubling down on racial -- on racial dog whistles, banning books. None of this is mainstream middle of America politics. And that`s got to be the choice, whether or not you want more hate or you actually want compromise and bringing people together.

Whether you want to attack young gay children or you want to -- you know, all children to get the same sort of equal access and education that prepare them to win the future. It has to be a choice. And Democrats have to disqualify Republicans.

MELBER: Yes. Michelle, I want to ask you about the flipside of this, which is in real households, in states red and blue, people are paying higher prices for everything than they`ve ever paid before. It`s a real issue. They`re going to blame the incumbent. That`s what we`ve seen in the past. This was a topical punch line over the weekend when Trevor Noah was going at Joe Biden at the White House dinner. Take a look.


TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: These people have been so hard on you, which I don`t get. I really don`t. And I think ever since you`ve come into office things are really looking up. You know, gas is up, rent is up, food is up, everything.


MELBER: Fact check, true. Several tossup seats in the Senate, though, are currently held by Democrats, which put him on defensive. Parties here when you look at these generic polls are about tied. But the average of polls has shown Republicans leading. That`s the average you see there, which puts pressure on Democrats to figure out, Michelle, how to change at least some of the momentum. But the economy is not helping them do that. Your thought on both the punch line and the truth of it?

GOLDBERG: Well, yes, I mean, that`s the limit of any of these discussions about messaging and tactics, right? Some of this is just baked into the fundamentals, both of the economy, which are not good, you know, which are not good by many different measures, and then, you know, the sort of typical pattern of midterm elections.

And then I think there`s a sort of cyclical effect, which is that the more Democrats feel like they`re staring down, you know, doom and staring down two more years -- two years of paralysis and, you know, sort of pointless investigations, the more they want to disengage. And so I think it`s very difficult under these circumstances to get people motivated and to get people to really engage in the way that they were when Donald Trump was president.

So there`s a little bit of desperation in hoping that Donald Trump`s return to Twitter will spur people to turn out. I think it`s more likely maybe that the end of Roe vs. Wade will light a fire on to some of the people who have pulled back their activism since Joe Biden was elected. Right, but some of this is just not about messaging. Some of this is about material realities.

MELBER: Yes, material realities. And Cornell, as an adviser to presidents like Obama, what do you say to that? Because inflation is now and tomorrow, whatever spending bills were passed, whatever progress may have been made on COVID, to many people feels like the past.

BELCHER: Look, I do think you have to tell your story, and to that point broadly that you were just making, it is -- look, Democrats got to tell their story, and Democrats got to buck up here. Right? It is, you know, Joe Biden`s out there fighting and he`s moving, you know, bipartisan legislation. He`s fighting -- you know, he`s holding out a coalition, a global coalition against Russia.

You know, he`s managing COVID. And his numbers -- sort of approval numbers from COVID are coming back above water. I mean, it`s like a Jay-Z line, you know, no love in the heart of the city, sensitive thugs, you all need hugs, right?


Democrats, you got do better. Right? You sensitive thugs you all need hugs. Look, we got fight here and we got a guy with a pretty darn good track record, and by the way, you`ve moved some really powerful legislation out of the House. A lot of these guys are stuck in the Senate, but you`ve got to make the case for that. Again, like Senator Murphy said, like we`re fighting for drug companies for lower insulin prices for kids. They`re fighting Disney to make Disney hate on kids. Right? I think there`s a clear pathway here for a powerful choice. Democrats, they`ve got to buck up and got to start fighting.

MELBER: Ain`t no love in the heart of the beltway, Cornell, I feel you. I feel you.

BELCHER: Ain`t no love.

MELBER: On that accurate, perhaps accurate but downcast note, we do fit in a break. I want to thank Cornell and Michelle for talking us through several stories including some really important stuff.

Let me tell folks what`s coming up because there`s news coming out of the January 6th Committee. Three Republican lawmakers under heat. Why did some of them think what they were doing was criminal? We have the evidence. And going into this primary tomorrow, the Ohio primary, we`re going to bring you coverage of that. And we have some news on that front.

And then by the end of the hour, I am joined for the first time by best- selling novelist Don Winslow. We talk culture, we talk rhetoric, but also why he says Republican attacks on democracy are making him turn full-time to politics. He`ll explain, tonight.



MELBER: Here`s some news you don`t typically see. Indeed this is a rarity across most of American history. Congress now putting the pressure to hear from its own members, specifically the January 6th Committee wants three Republican members with links to Trump to testify. Congressman Ronny Jackson, Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks. Several of them linked in the many ways to the January 6th rally and beyond.

There are new letters, which includes evidence of what the committee already has and it points to Republican lawmakers at times fearing that their own election plot was criminal. Let me repeat. The Republicans who are being asked to tell their side of the story, and maybe they have good defenses or arguments to offer, but they were the ones, according to evidence, who thought their own plot might be criminal. These lawmakers thus are showing their own awareness of culpability in plans to try to overturn the election.

With that in mind, let me tell you exactly what we learned because in this new letter to Congressman Biggs, for example, the committee states they`ve already identified that he was a participant in an effort by House Republicans after January 6th to seek a presidential pardon for activities taken in connection with those efforts to overturn election results for Trump.

Now this is not some random analysis. This is not saying that law professors or commentators thought this was illegal. It`s saying they, these Republican members of Congress, were seeking pardons. Well, a pardon is an admission of guilt. Pardons are for criminals. And if you are a lawmaker, one who writes laws, you probably know a lot more than the random average person about what the line of the law is when you may or may not be over it, and if you are the type of person who`s so tight with the president that you think you could get one then you might know when you need a pardon.

If they thought everything was legal, on the other hand, well, they wouldn`t be privately seeking pardons. They`d just be saying, we said what we said and we did what we did. So that alone is interesting. And as I`m telling you, this is pretty new.

Then the panel talks about how some House Republicans, plural, so that would suggest that there`s some other evidence they may have or this may involve other people that hasn`t been revealed yet. As we`ve reported there are these public hearings planned and ultimately report from this committee so there may be other ways that we learn more about who those people might be.

And then there`s the evidence about why this shows consciousness of guilt. The letter to Biggs asked for specific planning details, for example, dating as far back as before Christmas 2020. On December 21st specifically there was a discussion about trying to get a plan for Pence, where he would just refuse to count certain states` electoral votes.

If that sounds familiar, it certainly overlaps with or may entail the so- called Green Bay sweep and other plans we`ve reported on here that tried to just get Pence to not count the states that voted for Biden. So you have that plotting between these members of Congress and the White House. It now is looking like it was earlier and more formal than many people knew at the time.

Remember what was going on December 21st. This group was trying to make sure they knew what Pence`s view of the requirements were so they could comply with them. Trump aide Peter Navarro, months later, admitted on this very program that they had this plot. He seemed to think it was legal. That might be different than them, and he said they had 100 people ready to go.


PETER NAVARRO, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: We had over 100 congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill ready to implement the sweep. We were going to challenge the results of the election in the six battleground states.


MELBER: That was a big admission. He said at the time and has insisted that he thought what he was planning was legal, and he has every right to say what he says and have his view of it. Of course Mr. Navarro was later held in contempt because he refused to speak to the committee, which is a related issue.


But tonight what I`m telling you is, we are learning that what Mr. Navarro insisted was legal, it would appears some of the other people on the other end of that sweep, the ones who are actually going to put their necks on the line and do it, some of them were worried that that or something around that was illegal.

So you have these questions for Congressman Jackson that are also about other potential illegal coordination. So was it that they were worried that they would break the law on the floor of Congress or were they worried about their contact with others who were trespassing on the floors of Congress? Like the Oath Keepers. Some of its members have been charged. Some have already pled guilty to seditious conspiracy.

And now we`re learning there were encrypted tests that the group exchanged on January 6th mentioning that particular congressman, saying he was on the move, that he needed protection, that he had critical data they believed that must be predicted. Then there`s Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keeper leader who had replied, give him my cell.

So that is a lot for this committee to chew on. As for Mo Brooks who showed up in body armor on the 6th at the rally, the committee wants answers on what he was revealing on TV about what Trump was secretly saying.


REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): The president has asked me to rescind the election of 2020. That`s --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said that`s illegal. You can`t do that. What did he ask and what did you tell him?

BROOKS: Well, he always brings up, we`ve got rescind the election. We`ve got take Joe Biden out and put me in now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He still says that.



MELBER: Put me in coach, I`m ready to play. If you get the reference. But that was 16 months after 2020`s election. This committee is telling Brooks that the comments suggest there`s additional evidence of Trump`s intent to, quote, "restore himself to power through unlawful means."

The committee here is serious about pulling on all these threats. They`re also giving these members an opportunity because there`s a good chance that when all this stuff comes out in the end, when there are public hearings starting the June and when there`s a report, some of these members may say in response that their views weren`t taken into consideration or there was a more noxious version of the story.

And by the way, if the committee is serious and it`s a journalist`s job, as well, you try to get that information to get the whole story, but that would involve in this case these members talking to this committee that so far they have not agreed to do so.

And that comes from the top. Kevin McCarthy, who has been on every which way, every side of this insurrection is not complying. Same with Jim Jordan and Scott Perry. Jackson today says he won`t comply despite these issues raised, and Biggs has said the same. Mo Brooks has not officially answered.

Meanwhile, there`s pressure in Georgia. A grand jury was seated today on that interference probe which involves Donald Trump and his culpability. I`m going to get into all of the above. I have the former U.S. attorney from Georgia, Michael J. Moore, and NYU Law professor Melissa Murray. They`re here when we`re back in 60 seconds.


MELBER: We`re back with NYU Law professor Melissa Murray and former U.S. attorney for Georgia, Michael J. Moore. We`ve been walking through some of these new revelations coming out of the January 6th probe.

And Professor Murray, what does it tell you that several members of Congress reportedly were interested in getting pardons for themselves?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, duh. This was a coup. Of course it was criminal activity, and they clearly knew that there was at least something afoot that would require a pardon. So the fact that you`re requesting a pardon suggests, as you said, that you`ve done something that requires a pardon, and so the idea that this was ordinary lawmaking, the ordinary course of these individuals` roles as representatives of their constituents, they know that this wasn`t the case. If you`re asking for a pardon, you`ve done something that`s gone beyond the pale.


MELBER: Yes, and Michael, this may seem very lawyerly that three lawyers here on the screen are discussing the mental state. But as anyone who`s watched Law and Order or My Cousin Vinny knows, what`s in your mind or what you intend matters, and yes, if you have a criminal mindset, you might try to lie about it and cover it up. But that`s what trials do they try to get to it. A car accident is very different than trying to murder someone with your car. But both involve some of the same physicality.

And so, it seems rather important here, both in Georgia where you`re an expert and in the committee`s work, which overlaps with the DOJ probe, that people thought this way. And so, I go to exhibit B. Mr. Moore, what you can speak on both the members of Congress and the other person who thought a pardon might be needed, which was Kevin McCarthy, who took it as a given in secret that Donald Trump would be surging for a pardon because he was such an obvious election criminal. Take a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Now, I haven`t had a discussion with the Dems, that if he did resign, would that happen? Now, this is one personal fear I have. I do not want to get into any conversation about Pence pardoning.


MELBER: What does all this tell you as a prosecutor and investigator, Mr. Moore, about the mindset of those members of the Republican House. Who are again, I want to emphasize, we`re sympathetic to the goal of keeping Trump in office and sympathetic to Donald Trump, but who privately thought there was a lot of crime going on?

MICHAEL J. MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, GEORGIA: Well, I think your analysis is exactly right, and that they knew what they were doing was wrong. And they just took the position that the end justifies the means. And so, they would seek a pardon, or they would discuss a foreigner that would try to figure out how to do it as long as they can somehow preserve Trump in office. I -- you know, what, this is just another tape from McCarthy. I mean, you probably have something elsewhere he said something totally opposite. You know, he`ll change his story on that. So, you really can`t put much stock in his position on the part.

But it does tell something about his state of mind. And, you know, we talked -- you mentioned the idea of intent, we have to prove intent, the criminal case, you have to have this mens rea, they call it from the non- lawyers out there that they do stuff that grew you only in your first-year law school. And what it says is, you look at somebody`s state of mind and decided they actually tend to do what they`ve been charged with, do it. And if you want to make it sort of a simple analogy, think about the difference between somebody who may be killed somebody in a fight and the idea that it was premeditated.

That somebody actually have the consciousness to think about it and to plan it and to scope out the location. And to do those things, at least text and the discussion we`ve been having sort of indicate that that`s exactly what happened. They knew that this was wrong, they knew that it was going to be a violation of law, so much so that they discussed ways to sort of clean up the mess they were going to make, as long as they could keep their king on the throne.

MELBER: Professor?

MELISSA MURRAY, PROFESSOR, NYU LAW: I think that`s exactly right. You know, the real question here for any crime is what`s the mental state of the individual at the time that they`re undertaking the activity? And here, it seems, not only was this premeditated. Not only did they have some understanding that what they were doing was beyond the pale, will constitute a coup under any other circumstances. They tried to make provisions to ensure that they would not be on the hook afterwards.

MELBER: Mr. Moore, turning to Georgia where I mentioned, they`ve been paneled this grand jury, if somebody`s watching, and they say, well, I feel like I`ve heard this one before. There`s another probe into something Donald Trump did. There`s a lot of noise about following the facts and the law. We in New York, that had a couple D.A. candidates who all said pretty similar stuff. And then they went through forward with that probe and shut it down. They do have open cases against other people, high people in the Trump board, but not Donald Trump.

What do you say to someone who looks at this and says, why should they even follow this, or is this going anywhere? Do you see the impaneling of this grand jury combined with the audiotape and the blatant effort to steal the votes of Georgia citizens to sort of cancel out 11,000 of them kind of a massive voter fraud if it hadn`t been achieved? You see this as somehow something that could lead to trouble for Donald Trump?

MOORE: You know, I think this has taken an extraordinarily long time, and there was a fairly clean case and a very targeted case, it could be made with the idea that you charge the former president based on the phone call alone. And so now we`ve gotten into this sort of this morass of we`ve got the primaries coming up in Georgia, there`s going to have to be a delay in witness testimony. So, the investigators does not look too political. And if at the end of the day, if you`re looking at this and you`re wondering what`s going to happen.

I`ll tell you this is just the -- this is the start gun at the beginning of the race because there`s nothing that`s going to be decided by this investigative grand jury.


All these folks are going to do is hear some evidence they`ll be able to subpoena, some witnesses, look at some documents, and at the end of the day, make a report, they cannot issue an indictment. If they make a report in favor of an indictment, they don`t, at some point, the district attorney will make a decision whether or not she wants to move forward.

Even then, and I think really probably coming into this month when we start seeing witnesses and the issue of subpoenas coming out. I think you`re likely to see some of the same defense tactics that we`ve seen in other cases around the country involving Trump and the organization, you`ll see people asserting executive privilege, you`ll see people asserting presidential immunity, whether or not there ought to be service as a subpoena, whether or not they have to honor the subpoena in Georgia.

And at the end of the day, you also may see an effort to transfer the case to the federal court or remove the case, as we call it to the federal court because he was a film officer.

MELBER: So, I`m running, I`m running right up against our time limit. But sounds like although we`re not doing predictions here, sounds like you don`t think they`re taking the most aggressive or assertive stance they could down there.

MOORE: Yes, I mean, I don`t like to second guess the prosecutor. I think she`s doing the best job she thinks she ought to be doing. And she may have evidence that I`ve not seen clearly. But --

MELBER: Well, you don`t like to do it. But you -- you don`t like to do it. But you`re low-key doing it.

MOORE: Well, I like to have -- I think this could have been something that was done as a very targeted approach. I think that would have brought this matter to the head fairly quickly. And we could move on. This tells me that she`s looking at expanding the investigation. Maybe she`s not just trying to catch the spider but she`s trying to look for other people, she can get the web. And so, we`ll see what happens after the investigative grand jury whether or not there`s an indictment, but this is just the beginning of the story. We`re nowhere near the end of this thing.

MELBER: I feel like there`s a Charlotte`s Web reference lurking somewhere here, but I haven`t read it recently enough to do it.

MURRAY: Some pig, Ari, there`s some pig.

MELBER: There you go. That`s why we book you guys. Finish it up. Professor Murray, Michael J. Moore, both of you. Rock in the kind of bookshelves we would expect of such learned individuals. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

MOORE: It`s a real pleasure (INAUDIBLE).

MURRAY: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate you. Coming up. Donald Trump makes a blunder that may actually hurt. The never Trumper who`s now pro-Trump who just got Trump`s endorsement in Ohio. It may sound like a lot but we`re going to break it down. And Barack Obama`s disinformation warnings and the attacks on American democracy, as mentioned a very special guest tonight the best- selling novelist Don Winslow, who is now so politically as outspoken we`ll get into why. Coming up.



MELBER: And now we turn to a very special guest. The best-selling novelist Don Winslow has made a career about writing about many things and especially crime. The author of 22 novels, several you may have read or know about from being adapted into films, like savages with John Travolta and Benicio del Toro.


JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: Lado, you come to my house, you threatened my daughter`s, you will see I`m the kind of guy that doesn`t have cameras all over the place.

BENICIO DEL TORO, ACTOR, PUERTO RICAN: And don`t matter to me. After I work you and your daughters is on pronounced (PH) now.


MELBER: Winslow tells stories but he`s gone from this focus on gangsters and corrupt institutions throughout across American history, to what he sees as corrupt today, including Donald Trump`s hauled over the Republican Party. And he`s kind of advanced something of a parallel career online, applying his expertise on so many matters, including storytelling to politics, also producing some videos that have gone viral featuring Springsteen and Jeff Daniels.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot sustain this for another four years.

JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR: I`m Jeff Daniels. I grew up in Michigan. Lived here most of my life. Still do. I voted for Joe Biden.


MELBER: Now, Mr. Winslow says that he is going to focus more on politics than fiction, a semi-retirement or maybe just to change of gears. We`ll get into all of it because as mentioned, he is my special guest right now. Best-selling novelist Don Winslow, the new book City On Fire, out now. Thanks for joining me.

DON WINSLOW, BESTSELLING AUTHOR: Thanks for having me, Ari. I appreciate it.

MELBER: What does it mean when you say with all of your followers and background that you`re focusing on politics, is this a retirement interest or is this a new job?

WINSLOW: Neither. It`s a passion. It`s something I felt that I had to do. You know, I think the country`s in an existential moment. I think American democracy is that an existential moment. It was in 2016. It was in 2020. I`m afraid it`s going to be in 2024, it certainly is now. And so, I thought, you know, I`m going to use whatever talents that I have to fight this fight.

MELBER: Well, one of your talents is making those airplane rides go by faster. Who among us hasn`t swiped?

WINSLOW: Yes, appreciate that.

MELBER: Swiped one of those books in the -- you know, on the way in, and that`s where people might know your name, which means they like something about the way you see the world, explain the world, tell stories, right? We all make sense of things through stories. And so, let`s look at someone else who you`ll tell me what you think. But I noticed before he was President Barack Obama is a darn good writer among other things. Here he was talking about what you and him both have done from time to time write up stories. Take a look.



AL ROKER, HOST, NBC: What do you think is going to happen in this midterm election?

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it`s too early to say I think the Biden administration has overcome some extraordinary circumstances. But the underlying economy, there`s a good story to tell. Democrats have to go out there and tell the story. But ultimately, the voters decide on this thing.


MELBER: Tell the story. Do you agree with him that that`s important and do you think the Democrats are doing it well or not?

WINSLOW: Absolutely, it`s important, I completely agree with him. I think some of the Democrats are telling the story well, and I see more of a growing appetite now to tell the story in plain language, and sometimes tough words, and to really fight back against the story that the Republicans are telling.

You know, the Republicans will say anything, they`ll call people child molesters. That`s as low as it gets. And so, we need to find ways of telling stories to the American people, telling them the truth, and doing it in plain simple language. And yes, sometimes with the use of images, images that are meant to relate to people and not manipulate people.

MELBER: What makes a good story?

WINSLOW: What makes a good story is it touches the human soul, touches the human mind, touches the human heart. What makes a good story is it touches real human needs, real human desires. The other thing I think that makes a good story is that it touches human values. I think that`s what we`re missing. I think we have seated patriotism. To the other side, we have ceded the story of American values to people who would trot a confederate flag through the Capitol as they violently assaulted.

Have we seated patriotism to people who would have Donald Trump`s image in blazoned on an American flag, as they assault our capital and our democracy, we can`t do that. We have to say we have basic American values, too. They mean something, and they`re good for the country.

MELBER: When you look at the long-term fascination with crime, with the mafia, gangs, way more people consume this stuff than act on it. Clearly there, there can be art, where you watch The Godfather and you put it away, or you listen to an album that deals with topics or violence, but you don`t do it. And yet, Donald Trump appealed to the idea that maybe you can get away with more. We see more open, kind of candid appeals to might makes right, to bullying, violence, as you just mentioned, and more sort of blatant support for that than we have in other recent eras.

Although you can go through history. What do you think he`s tapping into? Do you think that it exists more on one side than the other? And how do you step on that? Because to paraphrase Ice Cube, who you may know of, he said in 2016, Donald Trump is acting like a boss and a gangster, it may be phony, but people love that kind of talk and bravado.

WINSLOW: He`s certainly acting like a boss and like a gangster. And I think that that`s some of his inspiration. The problem is he`s getting away with it. The insurrection was, what 16 months ago? Has Donald Trump been subpoenaed? Has Eric Trump been subpoenaed? Have any of the Republicans who were in my opinion accomplices before, during, and after the fact. Been subpoenaed, much less indicted for treason that we all saw. We saw Donald Trump acting like a mob boss on a telephone call to Georgia. I know this because I saw it on your show. We all saw it. We saw Donald Trump acting like a mob boss when he sent a mob to the Capitol.

MELBER: Don Winslow, good to have you on here. Learn about what you`re up to. And I`ll remind folks the new book is City On Fire. And as for these Trump-backed candidates with voting tomorrow and key primaries, we`ll watch what happens when Trump can`t even remember who we endorse.



MELBER: We`ve been eyeing the road to the midterms and tomorrow is a key day because in Ohio and Indiana there will be voting for those states` primaries. Those are important states. And it`s seen as a test of where the Republican Party is headed and Donald Trump`s hand in all this. He just endorsed a former never Trumper J.D. Vance in Ohio, and then appeared to mix up Vance with his main opponent there, Josh Mandel.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve endorsed J.P., right? J.D. Mandel and he`s doing great. They`re all doing good.


MELBER: There is no J.D. Mandel but there is a J.D. Vance who is running for senator in Ohio. His opponent, Josh Mandel, J.D. Mandel. Well, that would be some sort of mystery portmanteau of these two people that are vying for Trump`s love. Now Trump ought to have known a bit about Vance, he`s been on T.V. a lot and he famously claimed to be a permanent never Trumper, hence the word never, and then completely reversed himself. Take a look.



J. D. VANCE (R-OH), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: There`s somebody who doesn`t like Trump, myself. The elites were right about Donald Trump, right? I`m a never-Trump guy. I never liked him.

He`s the best president of my lifetime. And he revealed that corruption in this country like nobody else.

I can`t stomach Trump. I think that he`s noxious and is leading the white working class to a very dark place.

I think that he was a good president. I think he made a lot of good decisions for people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you`re not a Trump supporter, from what I`ve read. Am I right? Is that a fair assessment?

VANCE: Yes, I didn`t vote for Trump.

All around, he was a great president. I`m 37 years old, certainly, the best president of my lifetime.


MELBER: Maybe Trump got confused trying to talk about a candidate whose entire existence and political platform is itself a self-contradictory ball of confusion. We will be following tomorrow`s primaries on THE BEAT and across MSNBC and we will be right back.


MELBER: Thanks for spending some time with us here in THE BEAT with Ari Melber, you can always find me online @arimelber on social media. We went from Charlotte`s Web to Bobby Blue Bland. And little Jay-Z reference you can always tell us what you think we need to add to the show on our social media. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.