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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/20/22

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, David Corn, Kevin Liles, D-Nice, Gayle King


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas` wife Ginni Thomas in an e- mail plotted voter fraud for Trump in 2020. Ditching platform and policy, the GOP focusing on conflict and content will hold its annual CPAC in Budapest, Hungary. The deadliest shooting of 2022 puts a spotlight on the influx of guns in the U.S. GOP representative oppose the big oil crackdown while blaming Joe Biden for the gas prices. Big Oil Executives on record profits used to reward the investors by not lowering the gas prices.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: We are grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much. Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

We`re covering new revelations right now about Republican activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She lobbied state lawmakers to overturn then President-elect Biden`s victory. And there are receipts tonight.

Thomas pushing Republican lawmakers in Arizona to cancel their own state`s votes for Biden, arguing officials should just override all of those votes for Biden and replace them with a, quote, "clean slate of electors," as she saw it, according to e-mails obtained by the "Washington Post." Thomas was pushing this on November 9th. That`s within days of Trump`s loss, urging what would have become a coup which she cast in a subject as a constitutional duty.

Thomas was caught pushing massive voter fraud. Arizona was a state Trump needed if he was going to hold onto the White House. That was the big issue when we were covering it going into election night. And it was a huge deal when Biden won Arizona.


BRETT BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Arizona. are you 100 percent sure of that call and when you made it and why did you make it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. We`ve made it after basically a half hour of debating it. We finally called it right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, FORMER NBC NEWS ANCHOR: NBC News is projecting that when every last vote is counted in the state of Arizona, Joe Biden will be awarded 11 electoral votes. Joe Biden, your projected winner in the state of Arizona.


MELBER: Trump and his allies were enraged over exactly that call, especially the FOX News call to Arizona. It was seen as kind of the nail in the coffin as a state that the Trump folks would need to win or somehow continue to cast as too close to call, which might have fed these plots that you`re hearing about.

Indeed FOX later fired the staffer who accurately called Arizona for Biden. And it was close. They were separated by about 10,000 votes. Biden won with 1.6 million votes in that state. Miss Thomas wanted to cancel out 1.6 million votes to commit what would have been, if she pulled it off with the help of lawmakers in the state -- well, it would have been the greatest voter fraud ever known of in America.

All of this happening as she and Giuliani and then President Trump were falsely accusing others of voter fraud. They were the ones plotting it. This was a highly orchestrated plot. We`ve heard Trump lawyers admit the scheme on this very program, to toss the votes for Biden and then install fraudulent electors who would act to try to create some sort of cover for that project.

The new "Washington Post" story reports on this as, "Thomas`s role in an extraordinary scheme to keep Trump in office by substituting the will of legislatures for the will of the voters," end quote. It`s an important story, and it`s worse than how the "Post" puts it right there because even before the violence of the insurrection, this was planned as a coup through voter fraud. To say anything less, to talk about the will of the legislatures, to talk about this as if it`s a procedural act, is to minimize the very real plot that was in the works.

And if they tried it once and are not severely held accountable, why wouldn`t they try it again? With this big news and this crisis facing the Supreme Court, we`re joined now by "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg and former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance.

Michelle, we keep learning more and more about this. It`s a drip, drip but when you take it together it looks like a very orchestrated plot that they just happened to fail at.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, it`s looked like that for some time. And I think that one reason why each new, you know -- each new shocking revelation fails to astonish and sort of life trudges on as normal is because the outlines of this plot and at this point the details of this plot are well-known.

The only question is whether there`s going to be any repercussions. And that`s a question really for the voters but also for the Justice Department as well as for, you know, a grand jury in Georgia. We just don`t know yet. And so more and more evidence of what we already know keeps coming out and keeps pointing to, again, not just the severity of the kind of treasonous act that various people tried to commit in 2020, but the plan that`s staring us all in the face of what they`re going to do in 2024, one of the two people that Ginni Thomas e-mailed hoping that she would cooperate is someone who objected to -- you know, who wanted Arizona to overturn the will of the voters and who`s now running for secretary of state and so would potentially be in a position to help make that happen.

And I think we see that in state after state after state. If you look at Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania.


There is no way that he would allow a Democratic slate of electors to go forward in 2024 without doing everything in his power to substitute his politics for the voters.

MELBER: Joyce?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: What fascinates me about this new news is that it`s very specific. This is information that says that Ginni Thomas was pushing this notion that the real slates of electors should be replaced with fake slates of electors in key states. That`s not really something that`s cropped up before in American presidential elections and it would be an enormous coincidence if she was pushing that and independently her husband`s former law clerk, John Eastman, was also pushing that precise same strategy.

So what this makes one think of if one is prosecutorially minded, and I tend to be that way, is that it`s not a coincidence. And the other option is a conspiracy. And so there is a lot of smoke here. We don`t know what Ginni Thomas was doing, but she should be questioned about that, someone with the ability to compel answers with a grand jury subpoena if she won`t do it voluntarily, need to have a conversation with her about where she got this idea, who educated her about it, who all was involved.

It`s not that she necessarily was involved in anything criminal. She may not have been. Appearances can be misleading. But because this is very similar to this key scheme that Eastman was pulling, getting her testimony is just critical.

MELBER: So where would that proper criminal investigation be, Joyce, given that this touches on Arizona, she`s in D.C., there`s an investigation in Georgia, there`s main Justice? Where would that be, and then what does Chief Justice -- excuse me, what does Chief Justice Roberts have to do here because there is not a great playbook or precedent for this partly because for all of America`s other historical problems, it hasn`t in public had these kind of problems with members of the court and their spouses before?

VANCE: It would be horribly sensitive politically to try to subpoena Supreme Court justice`s wife. Really the best outcome would be for her to voluntarily sit down and talk to a couple of agents about what she knows. But, you know, the problem or perhaps the beauty of our system is, you`re not insulated from accountability because of who you`re married to. And so if she has knowledge that any other person who possessed it, DOJ would reach out to get it, then she needs to be questioned, too.

You raised an interesting question about jurisdiction and where the investigation should be situated. You know, we`ve now heard starting with January 5 and Merrick Garland`s speech on that day, repeated assurances from high-ranking people at DOJ. Lisa Monaco, the deputy attorney general, repeated it just a couple of days ago. They are looking at this situation, that they are focused on prosecuting crimes, not people, and they will follow the evidence wherever it goes.

That would seem to imply that there is a little bit of central investigation going on in D.C. although of course we still don`t have clear confirmation. It seems increasingly that that`s the case.

MELBER: And, Michelle, you mentioned the type of officials that are gaining power who are on board with this stuff. That may be why some of the Trump lawyers seem to be just so blatant, lawyers and aides, about all this. Here was Boris Epshteyn on this related elector fraud plot on THE BEAT.


BORIS EPSHTEYN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: That`s so funny. Not fraudulent electors, Ari. It`s alternate electors. Because of the process again that`s laid out in the Constitution under the 12th Amendment, everything that was done was done legally by the Trump legal team, by -- according to the rules and under the leadership of Rudy Giuliani. We fought for the truth.


MELBER: Michelle?

GOLDBERG: Well, look, I actually think that he is correct or at least under some state laws, you know, the Constitution gives states the power to determine slates of selectors. And, you know, within modern history that has been the job of the voters. But we don`t know what would happen if states decided -- the state legislatures decided that they could substitute their own will for that of the voters and it`s a question of various state constitutions, and there`s other kind of legal questions there.

But they are telling us not just what they tried to do in 2020 but what they believe that they can do next time around. And the thing that stopped it in the past was that you had, for the most part, state officials who, whatever their fealty to the Republican party also had some basic fealty to democracy. And those people are being systematically replaced.

MELBER: Right. And then backstop for all of that and our system, which did work under strain in 2020, is the courts and ultimately the Supreme Court.


And Joyce, unlike Bush v. Gore or other valid controversies, the Supreme Court never even entertained the type of claims that were being offered that would have tried to cancel out Biden victories in multiple states. Do you view that as kind of a baseline that will hold, or not necessarily? That the sort of off-the-wall theories that Michelle alludes to, that might not be technically criminal because they just put forth a new way to apportion a state`s voting power, that some of those could be embraced by a conservative Supreme Court?

VANCE: Michelle makes an incredibly important point here, which is that the laws are changing. We`ve seen states, for instance, Georgia, that have adopted new laws that would let them bypass this sort of apparently outdated in the Republican Party notion of one man, one vote. Right? That we get to pick our elected officials. They don`t get to pick their voters. And so increasingly, this is problematic.

But I think the courts held in 2020, we were worried about that, and then we saw in case after case and state cases and federal cases, the courts held -- there seemed to be something so fundamental about elections that courts viewed them as matters of principle not as matters of pure politics.

Does that change in 2024? That`s something that we don`t know the outcome of yet. But one thing that that suggests that the political party should do is encourage voters to turn out in record numbers because one thing that insulates against fraud, and it worked in 2020, is having voters turn out in such large numbers that there is no room to fudge the gray edges, which is what Trump tried to do in multiple states here.

MELBER: Right. And that goes back full circle to why Arizona was so key because it really was, according to the count, 11,000 votes. If they could have gotten that to be seen as 5,000, or 3,000 or 1,000, call it a jump ball, that`s sort of what they wanted the perception to be so then they might do something with it.

At the time it wasn`t as obvious why it would help you to say, oh, maybe it`s less. Now you can see they wanted it to be close enough, blurry enough, to get away with stealing the state. That`s really what the "Post" story shows.

Joyce and Michelle, thanks to both of you and I wish you both a good weekend.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

MELBER: Absolutely. Let me tell you what`s coming up. Why is CPAC being held abroad this year and why are they calling for Tucker 24/7? Meanwhile, a shocking report on guns in America. New changes just in the last decade or two that are affecting everyone including your safety. We have an accountability check.

And looking at the big oil price gouging, I should say. What`s Congress trying to do about it? There are receipts. We have a lot coming up in a very special edition of THE BEAT on this Friday. Stay with me.



MELBER: Turning to politics. U.S. conservatives have long touted a view of American exceptionalism that argues America is itself uniquely special. But that`s actually giving a way to a new kind of foreign exceptionalism. A far cry from the Reagan era where now today`s conservatives tout foreign countries, some of them, as a model and foreign strongmen like Putin and Viktor Orban, who`s a white ethnonationalist authoritarian who`s close to Putin.

And that`s part of what led the most influential conservative gathering on the right, CPAC, to now hold its first ever event in Budapest, Hungary, piping in an American media figure who`s done some fawning interviews with Orban.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX HOST: Hey, it`s Tucker Carlson. Greetings to Hungarian CPAC. I can`t believe you`re in Budapest and I am not. What a wonderful country. And you know why you can tell it`s a wonderful country? Because the people who have turned our country into a much less good place are hysterical when you point it out. The last thing they want is any kind of signpost to a better way.


MELBER: A conservative so concerned about America`s pluralistic democracy, they are openly nodding to some authoritarian regimes and leaders. Now that`s kind of a tick the last president has mainlined. He also sent in a video greeting like Tucker. And Donald Trump`s crush on Putin was a far cry from, as mentioned, how a Reagan or a Bush would approach authoritarians on the global stage.

And while this whole CPAC gathering has shifted a lot, it`s important to note this is something that used to focus more on actual conservative policy, which previous speakers would emphasize.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I spent 25 years balancing budgets.

PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: We must promote upward mobility.

ROMNEY: Keeping as far away from government as humanly possible.

RYAN: The solutions that speak to our broken education system, broken immigration policy.


MELBER: That`s about policy, whether you agree or not. And political movements across ideological spectrums can flourish when there are places to discuss and incubate policies and ideas. In a democracy that`s a good thing even by definition no one is going to agree with all of the ideas. But right now we are seeing something that is unusual. The American right largely and openly abandoning policy.

They refuse to even run on a policy platform in 2020. The first time that happened in over a century. And CPAC, well, it`s a place that you can see all of this in a very vivid way because we showed you some of the old policy talk. Lately, CPAC is a place where you see the movement`s obsession with entertainment and trolling on display.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Darling, is the wind blowing today? I`d like to watch television, darling.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I`ve got to say, Orlando is awesome. It`s not as nice as Cancun.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I`m a banned man in the state of New Jersey.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Now I really believe had Florida not led the way, this country could look like Canada.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then they became radicalized and they figured out that they could take over the government.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Didn`t anybody tell you you`re supposed to be canceled?


MELBER: Should you care about where CPAC is and what`s going on there? David Corn will answer all of that when we`re back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: We are back with "Mother Jones`" David Corn.

Happy Friday, sir. How are you?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Pretty good. Happy Friday to you, too.

MELBER: I hope you have your passport ready in case you need to run over to Hungary. I`m curious what you think about --

CORN: Did you know that they are not letting press into this conference? A lot of outlets have tried to get press passes and they said you can watch it online which has never happened before with CPAC.

MELBER: That`s an important point you raised. And you hold something in Hungary, you`re going to run into more of those kind of rules. As you and I know years past, CPAC is a place typically on the Eastern Seaboard where everybody comes in and there`s all sorts of things to be discussed.

I went out of our way in the setup for you, David, to note that plenty of people might disagree with what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had to say but they were saying proposals about policy, and I think it`s great to have those open discussions in an open society.

As you mentioned, they`ve gone to a closed society this year to have a much more narrow discussion about trolling and ethnonationalism. What do you make of it all?

CORN: Well, it basically is a celebration of authoritarianism. And what we see is after the big lie in January 6th, the Republican Party and the entire conservative movement are not ashamed or even rethinking. They have been emboldened. They want to you pursue the path of having a society where there is either a strongman leader or anti-democratic norms established.

You look what happened with the Republican gubernatorial primary a couple of days ago. A big lie conspiracist, Doug Mastriano, who also happens to be a QAnon fan, at least he was in the past, won. He got 43 percent. Almost half of all Republican voters want a big lie proponent, you know, running the state of Pennsylvania.

So we see with Orban there`s always been this affinity for him and for Vladimir Putin. Before the, you know, invasion of Ukraine, Tucker Carlson was openly saying literally I am rooting for Vladimir Putin and the night before the invasion, Steve Bannon, who is a big Orban booster, on his podcast was saying that he was rooting for Putin, too, because he ain`t woke. They like Orban because he`s authoritarian, he`s autocratic, and he opposes equal rights for LBGTQ community.

He banned same-sex marriages. He is restricting Muslim immigration. All those things they`d like to do here, what we call the culture wars, he`s doing there. So you`re right, it`s not about policy. It`s about here is an ally, a soul mate. He is their soul mate not just running but winning a lot of the culture wars that they want to have here in the United States.

MELBER: Right. And I know that -- well, you use the word winning loosely because winning in a society where one person controls the rules and the outcome, right, which is what he is doing or what Putin is doing, is attractive to people who don`t believe in federal rules to begin with. But it`s certainly not a way to self-govern.


The Tucker-Orban thing is interesting. People might have missed it because it seemed initially kind of random. I mean, there`s plenty of places you can go abroad if you just talking to foreign leaders. Here`s a little bit of their exchange.


CARLSON: So in 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants appear on your southern border. They appeared all over Europe, they streamed into Germany. The rest of the E.U. says welcome, please come, we can handle it, we`re strong enough. Hungary stands alone in saying no. Why? Why did you take a different position on migration from other European countries?

PRES. VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARY: That was the only reasonable behavior. If somebody without getting any permission on behalf of the Hungarian state cross your border, you have to defend your country and to say, guys, stop. And if you would like to cross or you would like to come, there is a legal procedure. We have to do it.


MELBER: David?

CORN: Well, you know, Orban gave a speech a couple of nights ago before he gave his speech to CPAC today in which he decried -- I`m going to look this up to make sure I get it right -- the European population replacement program. So he has been out there advocating this great replacement theory, which of course we`ve seen come from Tucker Carlson. We`ve seen it tragically referred to in the Buffalo shooting.

And so that is another overlap. And that was what they were discussing right there. And also what has Orban done, he has made George Soros this, you know, tremendous beast that he keeps opposing and demonizing and what some would argue as an anti-Semitic fashion. And we`ve seen that happening here in the United States, too. Whether it`s from Trump, Matt Gaetz, FOX News, again and again, pointing to Soros.

So there are all these real interesting intersections and just (INAUDIBLE) we`ll just call that, and points of overlap between their enemies and also their goals.


CORN: And, you know, when you say whether he`s winning or not, Orban has won four straight elections in Hungary. So they`re looking. They`re right him. They`re looking at him and say, huh, this is a model that we want to replicate.

MELBER: Right. And as you say, it`s a model that explicitly appeals to ethnonationalism. There is one Beastie Boys song that comes to mind, David. I don`t know if that`s in your wheel house, your era or not.

CORN: Well, you`ve got to fight for your right, to cite a Beastie Boys song. Go ahead.

MELBER: Appreciate the "Fight for Your Right to Party" reference. I was going to go with no sleep until Budapest.

CORN: You know, I was looking for Hungary songs. I was thinking of the Clash "Safe European Home." But perhaps they should rewrite "Back in the USSR" for Hungary.

MELBER: All decent references. We expect nothing less. Serious times, a little levity on a Friday. I`ll take it. Good to see you, David.

CORN: Good to see you, Ari. Have a good weekend

MELBER: You, too.

We`ve got a lot more coming up, including a look at what Obama has called for on rebuilding American cities and how that applies now as we have the pandemic, we have a bear market in the stocks. We`ve got inflation. We`re going to show you exactly what Obama said coming up, why it`s relevant, with some very special guests. That`s later in the hour.

Meanwhile, some Republicans busted on hypocrisy over the oil price gouging. And new revelations about gun violence in America. Something important I want to share with you. Stay with us.



MELBER: A lot of stories in our news and in our political life involve guns in America. And that brings us to some facts I want to share with you right now. There`s a gun-buying boom going on. A new report from the government shows that gun production in America has tripled in the last 20 years and it was already high.

The gun numbers are quite striking, even for a gun-friendly country like America. And I don`t have to tell you the context we just lived through in the last weekend. The deadliest mass shooting of the year. 10 people gunned down in a racist massacre in one day in Buffalo. Lawmakers are pushing for action in the wake of the killings.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to refuse to live in a country where black people going about a weekly grocery shopping, can be gunned down by weapons of war.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): Does anybody think this is a gun? Our laws don`t.

BYRON BROWN, MAYOR, BUFFALO: There must be gun control in this country. This is a uniquely American phenomenon.


MELBER: Fact check, true. Violence is as old as society and people and the records we have of how people treat each other. But the kind of violence we have in this country, the sheer amount of injuries, of terrible, terrible things that happen. People paralyzed, people injured, and the death rate is uniquely American because of the availability of guns. Now just take homicides 79 percent are gun-related. That is a big reason why when you look at these other places, although they have people who are violent just like we do, and they have unfortunate situations and they have conflicts.

Not all of those things are immediately escalated the way they are in a country where there are so many guns so easily obtainable. It`s down to just 13 percent in countries like Australia, four percent in the U.K. The New York Times reports Americans make up less than five percent of the world. They own 42 percent of the world`s guns. That`s an absolutely striking statistic. So, there`s more gun ownership, which creates more or opportunities for the use of guns and not just for self-defense which you know is legal but for the illegal use of guns like the murder of other people.


There are other factors, but studies continuously show it is gun availability that drives things to the situation that we`re in. Then there`s CDC data that shows gun deaths surged 35 percent, just last year -- you see the surge there. It`s the highest number ever recorded in American history. If you feel like things are getting worse right now, that`s because they are. There`s a difference between what makes news or what might get in your social feed, or what you hear about geographically, we hear about local news more than stuff that`s far away.

But the data tells the story. And this is disproportionately affecting certain communities, the firearm homicide rate among young black men was over 20 times as high as for young white men. And the idea that some level of control should be used, I just showed you, the governor noting that some ghost guns aren`t even categorized as guns, which is an exception that most countries don`t use, or that bullets and certain types of heavy machinery could be regulated.

These are quite widespread policies. I mean, many countries go much further than that. But nine out of 10 Americans are in favor of some type of gun safety rules when you look at it. This summer, there was a Supreme Court decision on gun rights that could unravel those laws across the nation that even are currently on the books. There`s also debates over whether states like New York and have restrictions on who carries a gun in public. If you have more guns in public, that means people see guns, people who have guns, see other people with guns, it creates an escalated public environment, which contributes to the data I just showed you.

There times is reporting that after the Supreme Court arguments, it was unlikely that such gun control laws would even survive, they got a skeptical reception from the high court. So, we don`t know how the court will rule in that case, but it has serious implications around the nation at a time when we have legislators who are looking at the situation, looking at that surging data, looking at a gun buying boom and saying let`s have more of it. And that would mean statistically, the odds of more and more gun violence.

It`s something we all have to be aware of and the facts are the place to start. Wanted to give you that update. I`m going to fin in a break. When we come back, as promised, you`re going to hear tonight on Obama`s ideas for rebuilding America at a time when markets are jittery, inflation is up, and crime is also up as we just discussed. But first, Republicans trying to protect big oil even amidst price gouging. We have the receipts. Stay with us.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know it`s Joe Biden`s policies, anti-American energy policies that have led to this skyrocketing sticker shock at the pump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Its Biden and the Democrat policies against American produced oil and gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Biden should consider his own culpability for higher energy prices.


MELBER: Fact check. It`s complicated. There is a price inflation and gas problem in America. But what you`re seeing there are Republicans saying it`s all basically President Biden`s fault. And that`s a fair point of policy debate. There`s certainly a lot of different inputs. What you need to know tonight is that when there was a chance to do something about this, those same Republicans you just saw, didn`t act.

Every Republican we just showed you on your screen. And every Republican member of Congress just voted against a bill that would actually limit price gouging by the oil and gas industry. And let`s be clear, that would not take care of all of the pricing issues because there`s major inflation, but it certainly would proponents say do something as big oil profits are actually at a seven-year high. And there are signs as we`ve been showing in a repeated set of coverage here on the show. That some companies are abusing this situation.

They think you`re stupid or not paying attention, or they think they`ll get away with it. And they`re trying to gouge prices. Indeed, some of these companies have cash that they could use to cushion prices or boost production, but instead, well, they`re trying to give money back to investors. That`s what they say on those earnings calls we`ve been reporting on, it`s what they admit when they`re trying to sell their business acumen to their shareholders.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We expect to generate over 15 -- over $10.5 billion of operating cash flow, which will be a record for the company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not going to change our growth rate. We think it`s important to return cash back to the shareholders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s being valued by our investors is a shareholder return program. And no one wants to see that shareholder return program, you know, put at risk with volume growth. Now we`ve got a little bit of sunshine in us where we can return that capital to our investors.


MELBER: We see you. This is something that affects every American. It does not have to be about politics. Congress is trying to take those companies that are so proud of their billions and make sure they don`t stick you any harder at the pump. I want you to know that update on an important story that affects everyone`s lives. When we come back. I mentioned it, you`re going to see it. Barack Obama on how you rebuild America and two very special guests to end the week.



MELBER: It`s official, today the stock market entering bear territory, it`s down 20 percent now. Interest rates and inflation continue to affect Americans, people paying these rising prices, and in many parts of the nation. Crime is also up after the disruption of the pandemic and the economy and all kinds of hardship. Now look, there are a lot of different aspects to these challenges. We do know though one key driver of improvement is investment opportunity and jobs, especially in cities that are sometimes left behind. It`s a point many leaders have made amidst rising inequality.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t afford to lose the generation of tomorrow`s doctors and scientists and teachers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can give tax breaks to billionaires and fight a war, we should never have fought. We can rebuild in a city, America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to be stimulated, you have to know that there`s other options and that`s what this program is about. It`s about showing them that the world is much bigger than the inner city.


MELBER: So, how do you go from some of that rhetoric to reality? Well brings us to two people working right now on an Opportunity Project in Baltimore tied to the Preakness horse race. It`s a culinary art and music festival. To renew investment in Baltimore and extend the horse race`s benefits to a wider grouping of the surrounding community that makes Baltimore what it is. Which brings us to who you see right here, Club Quarantine founding D.J. D-Nice.


Celebrated artists who most importantly to our viewers. Has deejayed for the Obamas, facts, and music mogul Kevin Liles, the entrepreneur, who co- founded 300 Entertainment, which was recently sold for reported $400 million, suggesting he may know something about money. And former president of Def Jam, he`s worked with Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Megan Thee Stallion, and much more. And that`s only a partial, partial introduction, given how much you guys are up to. Thanks for being here. Appreciate it. How you guys doing?


D-NICE, DJ, CLUB QUARANTINE: You know, I love you, man. Thanks for having us here.

MELBER: Great to have you both here. I want to get into what you`re doing in Baltimore, why you`re both sitting there in that beautiful spot. But it is Friday, we got time for both. So, with "FALLBACK." D-Nice anything out there that you saw in your mind or you think needs to fall back?

D-NICE: Let me think about that. As much as I thrive during the pandemic. We don`t need another pandemic. So, we need monkeypox to fall back.

MELBER: Yes, we`ve heard about this. And it`s weird, right? I mean, the stories go around, and you immediately think are we in for this all over again.

D-NICE: No, we definitely need that to fall back. We don`t need another sort of pandemic.

MELBER: Kevin, you can be an iconoclast, but I imagine you`re also anti- pandemic rather than pro pandemic. But what else is on your list?

LILES: Man, you know, my heart is still heavy with what happened with the shootings in Buffalo and I need white supremacy (INAUDIBLE). I need people to understand that next week we`re celebrating George Floyd`s anniversary. It was said we were going to make a difference. We said we`re going to make a change to come together as a country. So, I need that to happen. So, racism, white supremacy, sexism, genderism, whatever you want to call it. I need all that to fall back.

MELBER: D-Nice, how do you feel about that point? I mean, so much of what both of you do, and you both been on this program before so viewers may remember but especially with Club Quarantine. You know you bring people together. You do joy, you do energy and yet we`re in a time where there`s this rising hate is real. Tonight`s show, Kevin brings it up, we`ve covered violence, access to guns, hate, and replacement theory. And people in America going abroad and saying, oh, maybe that we should do it like the Ethnonationalists, which is a long ways from where we want to be most of us.

D-NICE: Absolutely. The way that I feel about what`s going on now, it`s sometimes it means it -- not even want to say sometimes it is heartbreaking. You know, because during the pandemic, it felt like we were all surrounding each other with love, you know, we`re all supporting and uplifting one another. And as the world opens up, more likely, the violence is increasingly. If you said racism is spying, like it`s, you know, we need all that to fall back and just spit chips and loves. That`s why we`re here in Baltimore right now, you know, like to show love to the people. And you know -- how do you feel about it?

LILES: Yes, I think one of the great things I love about my heart is that first, people who actually go into Preakness, they said we want the soul of Baltimore. So, you can`t have so without D-Nice who bring the cup born to hear Megan Thee Stallion and Lauryn Hill and a girl Brittney Spencer, a one was satisfied some friends out we want to hang out have a good time. Preakness -- we have another friend too, Ari.


MELBER: How are you doing, Gayle?

KING: (INAUDIBLE) Preakness and I`m here because of Kevin Liles. I just heard you say something about fallback and kindness because I too, spent a whole week thinking about Buffalo. You know, doesn`t make sense to me that we cannot get baby formula in this country, but we can get guns. That just don`t make any sense. So, we`re here today kindness counts. Everybody feels united. The spirit is really great.

Let me just say this, Ari. This is your kind of party. This is your kind of party. It`s good music. It`s good people. I don`t know how you feel about horses. But at the vibe is really great. And I (INAUDIBLE) when I walked in, I saw these two sitting here and I said, what are you guys doing this? We`re waiting for Ari -- I want to say hi to Ari. Ari, I know you love me, I got to go. Send some love.

MELBER: Could she hear me or she doesn`t have the earpiece? I don`t even know.

D-NICE: Yes, she hears you.

KING: I don`t have an earpiece but I hear you.

MELBER: I love you crashing interview. You can crash the interviews any time.

KING: Hey, Ari, don`t tell CBS.

MELBER: I don`t know. Kevin, do you think CBS can find out we are on live T.V.? I don`t know.

LILES: I think they`ll find out but we`re talking about Gayle King. Gayle (INAUDIBLE) number one morning show. Gayle King`s my girl. All the blessed.

MELBER: Shout out. shout out and some -- oh, she`s --

KING: (INAUDIBLE) might lose a job. I say nice to another`s. I`m very, very good girl and very, very kind. I`ll see -- I`ll see you back home.

MELBER: I love it. See you in New York. Wow. I didn`t know (INAUDIBLE) -- I`ll tell you some things -- some things are more important than all of the who works where. So, I love her coming out just as we love the NBC morning show. We love Gayle. Before I turn to other things Kevin just one more point on what you`re doing. What is it mean in this community?


Someone like you, who`s I mentioned your success, but I`ve gotten to know you, your success is not just financial, you got people who you work with, and you keep up those relationships for years. What does it mean, what you`re trying to do in Baltimore, so that these things that happen, right? Where there is some money being sprinkled around, there are some fancy people, whatever, actually get out into the community for jobs and what former President Obama was talking about there.

LILES: This is 147th race. And I can only tell you that the soul of Baltimore hasn`t been present, because they didn`t really know what it was. We thought we have Park Heights. You know, this is one of those communities that`s in a renaissance right now and for what the first group has done, putting so much into it, for what the community has done, a Park Heights. For what the whole city you know, Mayor Scott has done -- they laid it out and they said, hey, let`s have one Baltimore.

Let`s make this first experience. And we give it back to charities. We got 500 kids who don`t even know anything about horse racing, we invite them to the race, you know, we`re breaking the cycle. We`re going to add enough opportunity for people in Baltimore -- people from Baltimore to participate in the Preakness. So, I`m glad that everybody`s coming out.

MELBER: Absolutely. Well, that`s why we wanted to tap in on that. There`s one other item that`s quite serious, but I got to get your reaction on it. Let me catch up viewers. On Atlanta prosecutor just indicted over 20 people sweeping indictment, including artists that are on Kevin`s label, Young Thug and Gunna. It`s an unusually large 56 count indictment and alleges violations of racketeering law.

Both these individuals who are quite prominent you may have seen them, Gunna there at the Met Gala recently, are currently being held incarcerated despite being legally presumed innocent. The case is controversial. It`s quite serious. You know, both these men well, and Kevin, since you`re on the news this week, I did want to get your response to the case. What can you tell us? What`s your reaction?

LILES: Why cell is not a game? Why is music on trial? Why is lyrics or child? Why it`s black? Why are we not protecting black art? Why is it any other art form? You can make movies. You can do anything else. But when it comes to us with lyrics and would have put us on trial? You know, I think it`s unfair, friends and blessings to them. We`re working very hard. Again, why cell is not a game. Want to shout out little kid and otherwise a member who unfortunately passed away on Friday. This is tragic and to the Thug and Gunna to the members of YSL. I wish you. We love you and we look forward you getting home.

MELBER: And Kevin, are you working with the label, are you working with their lawyers? What is their sort of outlook to the extent you can discuss it on the case?

LILES: I care to discuss too much. But I can tell you it`s all hands on deck. And we`re working closely with their teams. I`m actually working closely with the officials also, because I clearly think this is a witch hunt around -- a lyrics and again, I want to protect records.

MELBER: And D-Nice more broadly again, I`m not suggesting you have knowledge of the case the way Kevin might but since you`re here at the table, he raises the point about art on trial. In reporting on this I looked at the indictment. I can tell you this -- when you see an actor indicted for their conduct, you don`t see their movies in the indictment. There -- I looked at it. There are over a dozen references to lyrics to music videos at one point there`s a reference as a legal quote overt act to a bandana worn in a music video. I`m just curious writ large at artistic point to you. D-Nice.

D-NICE: It`s insane. I do love that New York just nan allowing people to use --

LILES: They pass the bill. They pass the bill.

D-NICE: I think that bill is important. And that`s the way like every state should kind of follow. You can`t use someone`s theories. They just said if you`re -- you know, if Arnold Schwarzenegger was on trial, they wouldn`t use the terminator. You know, like you can`t use it. You got to protect black lives.

MELBER: Yes, Kevin, it`s been a long week. You get the final word here with about 20-30 seconds left on the weekend the segment.

LILES: But listen, it`s a blessing. I`m glad we got the chance to fall back on to say in racism. Let`s come together in unity. Baltimore we`re here. The Preakness (INAUDIBLE) first group. Thank you so much for the winner of the amazing event. Tomorrow we`re going to have a race and with (INAUDIBLE) Lauryn Hill and Megan tonight. God bless you.

MELBER: Hey, shout out to all of it. Appreciate the work you guys are doing. And I never thought I`d say this. But it`s quite possible the best person in this segment wasn`t even booked for it.

LILES: But she -- Gayle is always the best person to segment.

MELBER: No shade, just facts. Good luck. Again, appreciate what you`re doing out there. Cover more than one issue here as we tried to do around here. Kevin Liles, D.J. D-Nice, and yes, the great Gayle King on announced. Thanks to all of you. That does it for us after a long week but keep it locked right here. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" starts now.