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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/6/22

Guests: Zoe Lofgren, Lindsay Owens


Following the leaked SCOTUS draft on the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Louisiana GOP pushing bill to punish abortion as homicide. January 6th Committee warned the former Trump lawyer of using enforcement if he would not testify about his role on efforts to overturn Capitol insurrection. Representative Zoe Lofgren joins THE BEAT with Ari Melber to talk about Rudy Giuliani agreeing to testify in the January 6 Committee. Lindsay Owens joins THE BEAT to talk about some company CEOs who boast the amount of pricing power.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes for another week of shows. We`re so grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much. Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber. And boy, do we have a lot of news and a big show here on this Friday.

Rudy Giuliani now faces this possible contempt in the riot probe. That`s striking because remember, he was going to cooperate. We`re going to get into the details of that, in fact, a member of the January 6th Committee joins me tonight.

And we get into inflation. It`s a real thing. I bet you`re living with it. And some of it is unavoidable but some of it may be corporate greed. Indeed some executives now caught on tape saying on tape saying they can drive up prices and blame it on inflation. We`re going to get into that.

But we begin right now with a political story that also affects your life, maybe your safety. As the Republican slide into extremism which ranges from the outright cartoonish to the very serious and grave.

Now it has been a long week, and this is THE BEAT, so we will begin on the cartoonish side. Republican senators are pushing what they call warning labels that they want to go up on TV in case you might see, run into or meet, say, a gay character or an LGBTQ character. Now normally you may recall what this kind of warnings have been used for -- violence, swearing, nudity that wouldn`t be appropriate to show on TV below a certain age.

But now they`re saying that if somebody has a certain identity, that requires a warning for kids. And they point to shows like Netflix, "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" or "Danger Force" on Nickelodeon, which do, by the way, and I`m not going to give you a warning, I`m just going to mention they do have some LGBTQ characters or themes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sword has chosen you. The time has come for your destiny.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oops, let`s try that --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my cool face.


MELBER: Now, you decide whether that is the kind of thing that you have to get a warning about up front. Of course, you also have to figure out when you look at stories like this and this kind of politics whether this is serious or just a descent into further trolling and triggering. Republicans want this warning. But who`s next? Will there be warnings about characters that don`t fit the MAGA dream of getting things back to when America was great again? And who was really important that are on TV then?

What about characters who admit Donald Trump lost? You need a warning for that, a kind of a truth warning? Someone is about to tell the truth about who is the loser of the last election? So that`s the cartoonish and maybe it`s not meant to be taken that seriously. Then on the other end there is the continuing grave policy fallout of a Supreme Court that according to a confirmed draft is about to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Look at what`s happening in Louisiana. This is about actual legislation, not labels. Days after that leak, Republicans there are pushing a formal bill, they want it to become law, that would make abortion treated under the law like homicide.


STATE REP. DANNY MCCORMICK (R), LOUISIANA: We cannot wait on the Supreme Court to confirm that babies have a right to life in Louisiana. The active abortion ends the life of a human being. The taking of a life is murder and it is illegal.


MELBER: That is a direct line from overturning Roe to people, in this case, what you just heard from, men in government, in power saying they will treat fertilization as life and treat the end of that fertilization or anything in that process as murder. And you go down the road from there, and you`re way past "The Handmaid`s Tale." You got a lot of innocent women, potentially doctors and others, or someone who sells birth control under this type of bill, going on trial for murder, for homicide.

I want to bring in two guests who understand both the ridiculousness that we started with and the very seriousness we end with. Symone Sanders who is known for many things including right now the new host "SYMONE" which debuts tomorrow on MSNBC and Peacock. She`s also a longtime Democratic operative, adviser, strategist. She most recently worked for Vice President Harris. And the presidential historian and author, Michael Beschloss.

Welcome to both of you.


MELBER: Symone, we go from the ridiculous to the gravely serious. Your response to all of it?

SYMONE SANDERS, MSNBC HOST, "SYMONE": Absolutely, Ari. I am so glad that you talked about that Louisiana bill.


I have been saying for the last week ever since the leaked draft that this is about the criminalization of women, of people who aid those women in getting the health care that they need that is the form of an abortion, the doctors that administer that.

This is extreme. Not even people who don`t personally believe in abortion think that this is OK. And that is exactly what we should be exposing and what we should be discussing. It`s not just Louisiana. There are trigger laws currently on the books right now that would jail women and doctors and people who aid them, who would fine them if Roe is overturned. I`m talking Wisconsin, Idaho, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana. The list goes on.

MELBER: Michael, when you look at 49 years of history in a row, and we just got back from being in front of the court for a couple of days, seeing the reactions pouring out.


MELBER: What do you see in history unfolding in what many people we heard from in front of the court felt was us going backwards? And then the line to Louisiana, the draft hasn`t even come down yet. We`ll see what the final ruling is. But you already have this rush to treat women as murderers for something they may do within their own body.

BESCHLOSS: You know, they`re telling us in advance -- and could I start by saying welcome, Symone, so thrilled to have you at NBC and MSNBC.

SANDERS: Thank you.

BESCHLOSS: Peacock. Can`t wait to watch everyone beginning at 4:00 tomorrow Eastern, right, on MSNBC?

SANDERS: Yes, Michael. Thank you.

BESCHLOSS: A great interview with Dr. Biden.


BESCHLOSS: My pleasure. Having said something that`s a happy comment, you know, much of American history has been an effort to marginalize everyone who is not white and male and protestant and straight, and it looks as if it`s going back that way again. Oftentimes we`ve got repressive periods in American history and we don`t have warnings. You know, what you just showed us, Ari, every American should take a warning of the way things are going to be unless we act.

It reminds me so much of that speech that Ted Kennedy gave in 1987 when Ronald Reagan had nominated Robert Bourque to the Supreme Court, a nomination that failed in part because Kennedy said, as we remember, if Robert Bourque is confirmed, America will be full of back-alley abortions by butchers, and it will be a country in which people are not allowed to learn about evolution and writers are told what to write, and there will be a rogue police going wild.

Kenndy was considered to be really extreme at that time, but shockingly and distressingly it looks as if his predictions are coming to pass unless we act.

MELBER: Yes. I hear all of that. And Symone, I want to play bit more of what`s coming out of Louisiana. Here`s a health administration warning about what`s coming up.


KATHALEEN PITTMAN, HOPE MEDICAL GROUP CLINIC ADMINISTRATOR: This is a state that`s poor. This is a state that has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, or very close to it. I don`t see how anyone could call themselves pro-life and yet put women in this predicament.


MELBER: Symone?

SANDERS: She cited the maternal mortality rates for Louisiana. I promise you if you look at the numbers for black women in Louisiana, Latina women, Native American women, the numbers are even worse. The numbers nationally in this country. In a country -- I`ve seen this tweet a couples times and it`s true. In a country with the abysmal maternal mortality rates with no paid medical leave, with a country where people are still struggling to put enough money in their pockets, put food on the table, this is what we`d like to do? I really think people should read the draft opinion by Justice Alito.

They say it`s 90 pages, Ari. It`s really more like 65, OK? The rest is an appendix. Because in that -- this is, as I`d like to say, a gateway drug to taking away other rights. President Biden actually, we`ve heard him make this argument and other folks across the country this year.

This is bigger than abortion. And first they`re coming for women`s ability to make decisions about their own body. Privacy, civil rights, other things are next.

MELBER: Well, Symone, I mentioned your government experience which invariably means you spent a lot of time around lawyers, and you make an astute legal point maybe because you picked up by osmosis some of the building blocks of the law. But as you say, and I would echo it for viewers what Symone is saying, you can`t just pull out one block and then claim everything else is fine.

If there isn`t a right to privacy, if there isn`t a right to what the court sometimes called in a clumsy phrase intimate sexual decision-making, then you go back to bans on interracial marriage, bans on who can marry, which was seen by many as a form of progress in this country which, by the way, included some Republican appointees.

You pulled that all out and you go back to states saying, if they want to treat fertilization as life, and women as murderers, what makes anyone think that some places they don`t want to go back, take them literally, to those other precedence?


And that`s what the country is up against. That`s what people have to decide in the voting booth as well when they go in November.

Now, Michael, turning back to you. There`s another story coming out of the courts. It is a ruling in favor from Marjorie Taylor Greene. I told viewers when we were covering this initially it was going to be a very high bar to kick someone off a ballot, but this is a judge down there, Beaudrot, who found that the challengers who argued that she committed insurrection failed to prove their case with the preponderance, that is to say most of, majority of the evidence, and specifically, Michael, this doesn`t resolve what happened on the Capitol on January 6th.

But it does clear her to be on the ballot and it`s a finding by the judge - - I just want to make sure so folks know the news, it came out late today. It`s a finding by the judge that the evidence did not prove that she was active enough in an insurrection to be kicked off under constitutional requirement.

Walk us through your reaction, what this means. I should say, by the way if you`re a candidate for office and they have to adjudicate whether or not you tried to violently overthrow the government, that itself is bad. But it is a legal victory for her, Michael.

BESCHLOSS: It is for her and our system goes all sorts of ways. You know, that`s the way the process operates. You, Ari, are the last person I need to mention that to. But here`s a situation where, you know, it`s like 1865. Did you want people who conspired against the government of the United States, join the Confederacy, made war against the North, made the even participated and plans to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and others? Did you want those people running for office and sitting in the Congress, and being active in political life?

We had to make a decision. We have to make a decision the same way in 2022, and at least ask the question, as was asked of Marjorie Taylor Greene, is this someone who may have assisted or conspired or been involved in a coup d`etat, an insurrection against the government of the United States, which is prohibited by the Constitution?

MELBER: Yes. Understood. And we wanted to get that update in there so folks know because we`ve been covering that case.

BESCHLOSS: And it`s important.

MELBER: Yes, sir.

I want to thank Michael Beschloss and Symone Sanders. And we`re going to put up on the screen, Symone, not to embarrass you but just to make sure people know where to find you. "SYMONE" debuts tomorrow, 4:00 p.m. Eastern with none other than an exclusive interview with the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden. We recommend it, everyone. Go check it out.

Let me tell folks what`s coming up in the rest of tonight`s show because we are busy. Corporate executives caught on tape bragging about exploiting inflation. We have that at the end of the hour. But first, why Giuliani is facing contempt? And this dramatic moment of someone stepping up on the mike in front of everybody and speaking truth in power. In this case to Senator Graham. We`ll show you that. Stay with us.



MELBER: Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani facing possible contempt charges. That`s new, and a drastic shift from his claimed initial cooperation with Congress. But he`s now bailed on an interview with the January 6th Committee, was scheduled to happen today. So this is last-minute. In fact just hours out, Giuliani making an unusual cancellation, and he picked a fight over a desire to tape the interview. Now that`s something that was never agreed to so it looks like a last-minute effort to just find an excuse to bail.

The committee standing strong, saying if he refuses to comply, they`ll consider all enforcement options. Giuliani, a central figure in the plot to try to overturn or fraudulently steal the election. The committee states that Giuliani was actively promoting claims of election fraud on behalf of Trump and was in contact with him about how to overturn the election. Everyone remembers some of the unhinged and false claims that he made.

But what`s easy to forget is that at the time it looked like a joke. I mean, very few people were taking seriously those press conferences. They didn`t seem directed, for example, at the courts. Well, we`ve now learned, and this is important, is they weren`t really directed at the courts. They were already losing there. They were only directed at an extra legal or possibly criminal effort to overturn the elections, to try to get Republicans in the House and Senate on board, not the courts, which makes it all sound a little different.

As for the idea that you could just overturn the election by sending in your own electors, which is dumb, if that were true, right, anyone could just do that at any time. But that was one of the things on the table. And over time as we`ve reported on it and tried to hear from everyone involved, we learned from another lawyer for Trump who reported directly to Giuliani, Boris Epshteyn, that Giuliani did indeed lead the plot to install fraudulent electors.


BORIS EPSHTEYN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Everything that was done was done illegally by the Trump legal team according to the rules and under the leadership of Rudy Giuliani. We fought for the truth.


MELBER: There you have it. Giuliani also worked with another lawyer, John Eastman, and they were seen together at the infamous rally on June 6th. That`s when Rudy Giuliani said this.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Over the next 10 days we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent. And if we`re wrong we will be made fools of.


But if we`re right, a lot of them will go to jail.


GIULIANI: So let`s have trial by combat.


MELBER: There you have an individual talking about sending their opponents to jail if they hold on to power that we now know they were trying to illegally hold on to power. They wanted to stage a coup and he talks up combat to a group of people who took him literally and went and staged combat against police, and calling for the assassination of Mike Pence and others.

Trump`s reported reception to all this and the voting machine conspiracy theories is well documented. Now Giuliani has found a reason at the last minute to bail today. Instead of this witness testifying, well, he`s been busy, of course, maintaining his desire to get on TV any which way. That includes taping these online cameo videos like this.


GIULIANI: This is Rudy Giuliani, and the message you want me to deliver to the employees and the field staff of (INAUDIBLE) Associates want to thank you for your honesty and devotion, that you have fought for them for years, and that you`re very, very exceptionally dedicated.


MELBER: All righty, then. The committee also could try other more ingenious ways to get him involved, for example, if they converted this to the type of reality shows that are so popular in Trump world, maybe Giuliani would be more likely to participate if they made one of those primetime hearing something more akin to "The Masked Singer."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my goodness, former associate attorney general, former mayor of New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that Robert Duvall?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that`s Robert Duvall.




MELBER: Former associate attorney general. It just rolls off the tongue. But it`s not a joke. What is Giuliani doing? If he had no fear of this committee and how the law works, which he does know well, he`s a former prosecutor, he could just walk off. He took this battle all the way up to today. He wants it on record that he was trying to cooperate. He wants an excuse other than defiance in this tape thing that we`ll get into.

And that`s a reminder that even as he defies, he knows the law may not be on his side. Is he worried about being held in contempt? Does this complicates other investigations into the former lawyer for Donald Trump?

We have a member of the January 6th Committee, Zoe Lofgren, here when we`re back in one minute.


SETH MEYERS, LATE-NIGHT HOST: It doesn`t even look like an actual human body. It looks like one of Jeff Dunham`s puppets. It`s like a wind-up toy you get in a giveaway bag at a monster`s funeral. Why does he just placidly swinging the club back and forth like wet pool noodle.



MELBER: We`re tracking several stories here on THE BEAT tonight. And I mentioned Congresswoman Lofgren is supposed to join us. We`re having mild technical difficulties just with the internet to get her shot up, so we`re hoping she`s still be able to join us a little later in the hour. I mentioned just moments ago all the intrigue around Rudy Giuliani cancelling. So we hope to still have more on that for you coming up.

Meanwhile, I want to turn to another story I promised you which is Senator Lindsey Graham getting lit up at his own hearing on Capitol Hill. You may remember the labor union president over at Amazon who has been pushing to unionize there. He was out in front of factory, he won, first time that Goliath Amazon has ever lost to kind of a David labor organizing effort. He was on THE BEAT once.


Well, now he`s facing the Senate. And Senator Graham went right after committee chair, Senator Bernie Sanders, and said the entire hearing was dangerous. Then this individual I`m telling you about, Mr. Smalls, went all the way in. Take a look.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You`re singling out a single company because of your political agenda to socialize this country.

CHRISTIAN SMALLS, AMAZON LABOR UNION PRESIDENT: I think it`s in your best interest to realize that it`s not a left or right thing. It`s not a Democrat or Republican thing. It`s a workers thing. It`s a workers issue. And we are the ones that are suffering and you should listen because we do represent your constituents as well. So just take that into consideration that the people are the ones that make these corporations go, it`s not the other way around.


MELBER: That`s fair. It`s actually rare that you see an exchange like that. The senator says well, this is all just politics, and that may be the premise of so many people in Washington and politics. And then a person, a citizen, with no title, no great reason to be heard from this way, but someone who by the force of the support of other citizens gets to address the senator, and thus the nation, if you`re hearing from him watching TV, and tells you, hey, this actually isn`t one of those blue-red things anyway.

This is about people`s right to a fair workplace, one where they can self- organize, one where they can get paid and treated fairly. Now Smalls led that union drive. I mentioned he was here and this is some of what he told us about the working conditions.


SMALLS: You have to change your whole lifestyle when you work for this company. You lose family time, you lose sleep. We`re so disconnected from society all we know was Amazon. And, you know, when customer support this company, they`ve got to understand our voices matter, too.


MELBER: Now on that issue, we give Mr. Smalls the last word tonight.

Want to fit in a break, and as mentioned, we`ve got a lot more coming up from how Bill Kristol got his nickname to we hope an update on this Giuliani standoff at the committee. Stay with us.



MELBER: I`m joined now by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, member of the January 6 committee, which was going to interview Rudy Giuliani today according to the schedule, and then he backed out. So, on that story, please tell us what happened?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA) JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: Well, as you know, Ari we don`t ordinarily comment on witnesses. But it`s my understanding that Mr. Giuliani`s lawyers announced this, so I guess I`m not going to avoid discussing it. He had agreed to come in and without going into the details agreement was reached on the scope of the questioning. He`s obliged to come in. And it`s not at all acceptable, that he bailed at the last minute.

MELBER: Yes, as you mentioned, there`s the protocol. And then there`s his side talking. He -- basically according to his lawyer, Mr. Costello, says Giuliani is, quote, willing to talk about anything that is not privileged. The sticking point was recording the interview. And he asserts that tells me they`re more interested in keeping things secret than getting to the so- called truth. Given that they argue this is a sticking point. Can you speak to that at all our witnesses generally allowed to make their own recordings, do you take them at their word?

LOFGREN: That`s just completely bogus. And it`s a smokescreen for -- I don`t know what he thinks he`s trying to prove. I mean, as you know, the president`s own daughter came in, his son came in, his son-in-law came in, Mr. Giuliani had agreed to come in and we had agreed to the scope of the questioning.

And I don`t know whether what he`s afraid of. It`s not obviously, the committee has not yet had a chance to meet to discuss this. So, I -- I`m not able to tell you what we will do. But I will say that it is not -- in keeping with his obligation. We all know that Mr. Giuliani isn`t in trouble in terms of the bar association danger of losing his law license permanently. Maybe it`s connected with that. I don`t know. But it`s not acceptable.

MELBER: Copy. The committee has talked about holding these public hearings in the summer in June. What can you tell us about the purpose of that? Will there be a written report or reports coming out? What ultimately, is the committee going to release to the public having gathered all this information?

LOFGREN: Well, we`re, as you`ve mentioned, the Chairman has announced set of hearings in June. And we will go through what we found today. In public hearings with the evidence that we`ve compiled, and we hope a coherent story about what happened and what the continuing risk might be. We won`t have a written report in June because honestly, we`re still doing interviews, and we`re still gathering facts, but we`ve got enough put together to have these hearings and share with the public. What we found so far, and it`s not a pretty picture. We may have an interim report or final report. We don`t know yet.


Towards the fall because as I`m sure you`re aware and you`ve covered. We`ve dealt with a very litigious group and we`re in court even, even now with some of these individuals who`ve resisted subpoenas and the like. So, you know, we`re not going to say, well, because it`s June, we`re not going to get any more information. I mean, we will work up to the last minute and then provide a full report, we hope when we are through.

MELBER: I`ve got about 30 seconds left. And one of the big questions is, was it a rally that got out of control? Or was it a coup orchestrated out of the government out of the White House? Do you think that by the end of the hearings, the answer will be clear to the public?

LOFGREN: Yes, and it was obviously not just a rally that got out of control.

MELBER: All right. Well, we will be watching. Congresswoman Lofgren. Thank you.

LOFGREN: You bet.

MELBER: Absolutely. We have a lot more coming up in the program, including something I`m excited to share with you by the end of the hour, something special, something fun, and something that draws on expertise from everyone from Michael Steele to Willie Geist. But first CEOs boasting about how they can exploit inflation for profits, damning audio will explain next.



MELBER: There have been huge market jitters all across the week, stocks were down today. They actually gained and then lost 10s of billions of dollars in value, partly a response to the fed signaling it will raise interest rates to deal with mounting inflation. Now economists say many companies are merely responding to inflation when you see these rising prices that some of it is sort of natural or automatic in the economic cycle. Then there are others that appear to be seizing on inflation for profiteering. And there are receipts. Some companies are reasoning that because prices are up everywhere, the people will just be willing to pay more no matter what.

Now there are real factors driving inflation. We recently discussed them with an economist, but some corporations are basically using them as a smokescreen, and some are even talking about it. And buried in the talk about various profit strategies. We hear about them basically bragging about the ability to raise prices, this is an earnings call. And that`s where they`re talking and sometimes to investors and they don`t think consumers or you might hear. Take a listen.


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

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

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

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


MELBER: get used to it, we will take as much as we can. That`s pretty clear. That`s pretty blunt. You heard one of those folks saying when the prices go up, it helps. Well doesn`t help you. It`s not very fair, if you`re being pushed to pay more for something that is the same value, it`s the same product. And if it`s not because of inflation. Well, that`s not very responsible leadership. They`re talking about earnings calls. And some of these companies are publicly traded, which means they have public responsibilities. One of those people I quoted is the CEO of Hostess, who`s making about five mil.

So, you can see how this helps them. Corporate profits are reaching record levels across 2021. At a time when many Americans have been struggling. This is an important story. And I`m joined now by Lindsay Owens, Executive Director of Groundwork Collaborative. Their group was the first one to report on some of those earnings calls. The New York Times article she wrote is, I listened in on big business. It`s profiting from inflation, and you are paying for it. Tell us about what you`re getting at here. And your response to people who say, well, gosh, if most prices are up, this is just the natural unavoidable thing.

LINDSAY OWENS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GROUNDWORK COLLABORATIVE: Yes, thanks for having me. So, my team at the Groundwork Collaborative, we listened to hundreds of these quarterly earnings calls. This is where CEOs tell shareholders, you know, how they`re doing, how their sales are doing, how their profits are doing, and what they can expect to see, you know, in the weeks and months ahead. And what we heard is a lot about the economic fundamentals.

A lot about supply chain issues, a lot about product shortages, a lot about profits, of course, they`re talking about profits, these are publicly traded companies, talking to shareholders. But what we also heard is some plain old profiteering. And you know, these companies weren`t stopping it passing along rising costs. They`re going for more. They`re building the Lilly. And that`s what`s driving these record profits. We`ve got profit margins that we haven`t seen in 70 years.

MELBER: Yes, well, you lay it out, and you did the homework, so to speak. And this is the stuff where, you know, it`s easy to try to score political points, I posted a tweet. You guys actually, as mentioned went in here. Let`s listen a little bit more to some of the ways the CEOs and other executives are talking.


CHIP BERGH, CEO, LEVI STRAUSS: We`re still chasing demand. So, we haven`t seen a lot of resistance to the price increases. And given the inflationary trends that we`re seeing, we`ve been successful passing on pricing over the last six months.

STEVE CAHILLANE, CEO, KELLOGG: If you look at our performance last year, you saw a very, very strong performance on price mix, mostly driven by price.

BRIAN NICCOL, CEO, CHIPOTLE: We`re pretty fortunate with the pricing power that we have. We have more room to take price as we need to.

DARA KHOSROWSHAHI, CEO, UBER: Generally, I tell you, there`s a lot of pricing power out there and I think they`ll continue to be significant pricing power going forward. We do have a significant amount of pricing power.



MELBER: Can you decode what they`re saying? I`m not a CEO or an economist. And is there anything that can or should be done in a -- say in a capitalist system not talking about socialism, but in America`s current system to address what you`re calling profiteering?

OWENS: Yes, I mean, you get a lot of euphemisms on these calls, there are a bevy of different ways to say, you know, really just raking consumers over the coals with the highest prices they can possibly take in this moment. And I`m really, you know, I`m really sorry to report we`ve been listening to the Q1 calls, you know, just in the last few weeks, and we haven`t seen any signs of this letting up. And in fact, some of the CEOs are saying, look, actually, some of our costs are down, we saw a major paint company, CEOs say materials costs are down for them. But they have no plans to drop prices in the future.

They`re going to stick with these new higher prices. So, Congress and the administration really have a role to play, and taking on this profiteering and price gouging, I think there are two big things we can do. The first is tax, we can impose an excess profits tax. That says you pay the regular amount of tax on your sort of normal run-of-the-mill profits. And you pay more tax on the really excessive pricing that`s coming from exploiting the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and supply shortages. We had attacks like this in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and as recently as 1980 for gas.

We can also impose a federal price gouging statute. There`s no federal price gouging statute on the books. It`s overdue. Let`s give DOJ, Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission, the power to really go after these guys. In this moment, I think, you know, in some ways, this is a dress rehearsal for what`s to come. Climate change is bearing down on us. We`re going to see more supply shortages, more supply chain disruptions. We need a law on the books that protects American consumers from this really just rabid corporate greed.

MELBER: Yes, well, it`s really tangible, the way you`re engaging it. And you guys have shown your work so people can make up their own minds about these companies and what`s happening. And people are feeling and we`ve talked about what a hidden or not so hidden actual costs, taxes is on people who are working just as hard and went through what everyone went through over the last few years. So that`s why we wanted to hand you the mic, Lindsay Owens. Thank you.

OWENS: Yes, thanks for having me. You know, consumers are really being squeezed here. And this is accounting for about 54 percent of the price increases we`re seeing in the non-financial sector. So, 54 percent profiteering, the other piece coming from, you know, increased labor costs. That`s a good thing. We want wages to go up. And, you know, the rising cost of materials as well.

MELBER: Yes. All right. Well, thank you. I wish you a good weekend. And I`m going to tell everyone what we have coming up. I mentioned something special, something a little different. It will also by the time we get to it explain what some of this madness was all about.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A defining moment in that space that crystallizes or crystals is for the electorate counted out.




MELBER: The news has been relentless lately and sometimes we do like to take a look at different stories to end the week with you and that brings us right now to champagne. And a type of progress in an ancient industry known for more classic brands like Moet or Cristal. The legendary champagne brand, which I have to actually tell you at one point was the source for a kind of a joking nickname for our friend Bill Kristol, which came up once when I stopped by Morning Joe.


WILLIE GEIST, HOST, NBC NEWS: The only man who can forge a friendship between Bill Kristol and Fat Joe.

MELBER: We`re calling him Bill Cristal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m still just picturing Bill Cristal and Fat Joe in a stretch navigator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A defining moment in that space that crystallizes or Cristal`s for the electorate counted out.

GEIST: To Jay-Z ever lift the boycott on Kristol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was talking about a boycott of Bill Kristol.


MELBER: It was Lloyd Banks who famously said the ice on my neck keeps the crystal cold. Also, a Bill Kristol reference, it`s just now being --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic, Ari Melber.


MELBER: The Kristol references, you know, they pile up. Now, that was mostly goofing around, but it actually relates to something real because there was as referenced there an effort to boycott Cristal Champagne. Why? Well, its chief at the time said that he would prefer it if American black entertainers did not mention or associate with Kristol. This is really true. Asked about it because he was getting shoutouts and songs. He said quote, what can we do? We can`t forbid people from buying it. I`m sure Dom Perignon on Krug would be delighted to have their business.

Can`t forbid black people from buying your French champagne? Get out of here as they would say. And that was back then. Today more artists and entrepreneurs are actually building their own brands and companies instead of coveting French champagne. It`s a list that includes Diddy, Rihanna, and a host of rappers who partner or work with sovereign brands. In fact, they`ve worked with Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and many more. That brings us to an unusual figure to end the week here. Someone in business and culture the company`s CEO Brett Berish, when Jay-Z moved beyond boycotting Cristal as mentioned here on Morning Joe and elsewhere to competing it with his own brand.


Well, Jay worked with Berish on Ace of Spades champagne. And Mr. Berish is not really a typical executive, he looks more like a cross between Ram Dass and Jerry Garcia than some luxury company CEO. But he`s forged these bonds with artists half his age, tapping into what is a rising interest in branding and ownership online and a youth culture. And we just sat down with him for his BEAT debut on our Summit Series trying to learn a bit more about his tipsy iconoclasm.


MELBER: What did you do that was different say than that old school European model?

BRETT BERISH, CEO, SOVEREIGN BRANDS: Let the brand be part of somebody`s culture, part of their personality, or part of their lifestyle, part of their association. And it works. And I just think you can`t over-manage brands, they`re there like -- I treat them like children, they`re kids.

MELBER: Some of those other groups are almost trying to just have a level of control that doesn`t work, or that isn`t realistic. And you look at it more like if different new folks, whoever they are want to play in the sandbox, you welcome it.

BERISH: 100 percent. So, whether it`s currency, or, Whiz or, or Lil Wayne, or Khaled, you know, these guys, they`re all different. Don`t run away from when people approach you. You got to embrace the crap out of them because that`s a fan.

MELBER: So, that`s a lot of the culture side. Let`s talk about the business side. How do you come into a space like that? That is as old as old can get.

BERISH: The hardest part is not listening to everybody. Because in a normal course, your industry -- whatever industry you`re in, someone`s going to tell you don`t do it. And for me, it was Jesus, you`re launching Rose first. If this was Ari, Brett, why are you doing Rose? Everyone`s drinking brewed? Oh, I want to build a name in Rose first, you put it in a black bottle. Why did you do that? I want to be different.

MELBER: Let`s pause on that. So, what type of people were telling you, no don`t start with Rose.

BERISH: Everybody. Everybody in our -- in my industry. The trades, the distributors, the retailers.

MELBER: Most people if they hear from the people with experience and the people with expertise, and the people who -- again this is business who`ve made money, if they all agree and say don`t do it that way. Most people say OK, what is it about this that made you do something different?

BERISH: It`s -- if you ask -- I`ll put differently, my first six years are complete hell, and it`s because I listened to everybody. I listened. I listened to everybody tell me exactly what to do. And I think it`s important for anybody starting a business if you`re going to go do something, you`re doing it for your reason, you`re going to trust your instincts because it sucks if you make that decision based on somebody else and why did you do it, to begin with? Why did you get involved?


MELBER: This is part of our Summit Series, where we spend more time in these lengthy interviews more in-depth really talking to people who`ve reached the summit in their field. Brett also told us about the pandemic, being authentic, is use on legalizing marijuana, and some of the artists he`s worked with. Before we go tonight to end the week. Here`s some final sizzle highlights.


BERISH: Normal doesn`t live here.

MELBER: You`ve also said don`t think too big. What do you mean by that?

BERISH: I couldn`t step into a multibillion-dollar, you know, giant company, but I can build one. From the ground up. Having a plan can be the worst possible thing because if you stick to it, you`re screwed if you`re wrong, if you pivot constantly, you can be successful. If I run out of ideas, I`ll stop.

MELBER: One word to describe Jay-Z.


MELBER: Post Malone.

BERISH: I crushed him it at the beer pong.

MELBER: Lil Wayne.

BERISH: He`s just so cool. No one in Lafayette knows who`s the hell is Lil Wayne is.

MELBER: I have a drink bar for you. 3:00 a.m. in Germany can`t believe that they hurt me.

BERISH: I wish I could hit you back with another bar. It`s not about money. There`s no quick way to get there. Just do what you love. Be passionate about it.


MELBER: Do what you love. Tap your passion and don`t think too big. There`s a lot of interesting stuff in here. I got to tell you. You`ve never heard of Brett Berish. Well, you heard of him now. You can go to @TheBeatwithAri our Twitter page to get that full interview. It runs over half an hour in the Summit Series or you just go to YouTube. It`s up now. And you can search Melber and Berish. You see his name there on YouTube and watch the whole in-depth interview. We got into a lot of different stuff.

And it`s been a week so I`m going to end, as we sometimes do with a question for you. You can find me @AriMelber on any social media platform you choose. And the question is this. What drink do you need to end the week? We just talked to someone in the spirits industry. What drink would you have after a week like this? I will tell you mine. It`s only fair a bourbon on the rocks. You can go visit me @AriMelber or at and let me know what drink you might want going into this weekend. All right that does it for us. Thanks for spending time with me as always. "THE REIDOUT" starts now.