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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 6/17/22

Guests: John Flannery, Lance Reddick, Lawrence Gilliard Jr.

Summary

New evidence showed Proud Boys deliberately instigated violence at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. In a final phone call between former President Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, Trump relentlessly pushing for a coup laid out by the January 6th Committee. Former federal prosecutor John Flannery joins Ari Melber to talk about former President Donald Trump's lawyer that pushed an illegal plot, wrote it was illegal, and then requested a pardon for it. Lance Reddick and Lawrence Gilliard Jr., cast members of the iconic show The Wire, joins THE BEAT with Ari Melber to talk about Donald Trump's own aides testifying to the January 6 House Committee hearing about his gangster tactic, and Mr. Obama cited a lesson and warning from the show.

Transcript

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: All right, and thank you for being with us on this Friday. Nicolle will be back Monday, and I hope you'll join me this weekend, Saturday, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Sunday at 9:00 p.m. as well. "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

Hey, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ayman. Good to see you.

Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber. Tonight we have this visual evidence of the Proud Boys' conspiracy to storm the Capitol.

Also tonight, a hit dog will holler. Trump speaking out lamenting how his own family is testifying against him, making him look terrible.

And tonight as we end the week, I'm going to share you my legal breakdown on the worst smoking gun evidence that's emerged against Trump this week. We've been going through this together. You've probably been watching the hearings as we have and we've done our live reactions, but tonight, a little later, I'm going to walk through what I think is the most damning thing we learned this week. So stay with us for that if you are interested.

But the top story right now is vital evidence not only from the committee but from independent investigations about how the Proud Boys' violence was more planned and methodical than initially known. This is new from a "New York Times" investigation out today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Recruits are told to meet at the Washington Monument the morning of the 6th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Proud Boys.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Many worked as teams. Like this group in tactical gear. Within two minutes of Biggs' arrival over a dozen Proud Boys are now trained on that entrance. And they attacked the police.

They're also communicating with each other at this time. On Telegram, a fellow Proud Boy tells the group to push inside the Capitol. One of the leaders responds, we are trying. It's further evidence of their collective intent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just stole a riot shield?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At this point the Proud Boys have been critical players in five major advances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You can see from the aerial shot the blueprints that they apparently were trying to use and plan. Well, some of it worked in a way that's different than just a bunch of random, angry people, quote-unquote, "mob" storming a doorway. This same "New York Times" video investigation also shows how these individuals acted as the tip of the spear on the 6th, getting the mob to find ways to effectively attack and breach the Capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time myself and other leadership had decided we were going to go incognito. We're going to be blending. We went in and out.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Proud Boy leaders crafted a chain of command specifically for January 6th, heading for the east side.

Well, for hours, hundreds of protesters have remained behind the barricades. Within minutes of these Proud Boys arriving, the police will be overrun. One of work's team antagonizes officers at the front, while another clears away a barricade, they instigated critical breakthroughs around the Capitol. By repeating the same tactics, target and access point, rile up the crowd, join the violence, and reassess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You could see in this breakdown here and the "Washington Post" has reported on the indictments that come out of exactly what you just saw there, a lot of the talk minimizing and downplaying this which, before these hearings, may have spread more widely than it should have in America as a kind of a false narrative really doesn't fit what has happened. If anything, it is far worse than even the accurate and initial factual representations of it because you saw how they basically are breaching and planning and doing tactical and military style maneuvers.

There is a world where not all those things would have been breached if not for, as is shown here, the people who intended to, who were there casing it out in the morning, who had a premeditated sedition plan. The video reinforces, though, in addition to what the committee has found, its drawn on many Trump aides and other evidence that this was not a protest that got out of hand, but rather a planned attack that ran alongside Donald Trump's publicly promoted coup plot.

Again, if it weren't so serious, it would sound like an obvious part of a movie that putting January 6th the speech together with January 6th the attack isn't that hard in the first place. The people were there because Trump asked them to be. He knew his plot was illegal. Indeed everyone told him. That came through in the hearings. His own coup lawyer who backed the coup, Mr. Eastman -- I have more on him later -- also admitted in writing it was illegal.

Then what else did we learn as take in all the hearings at the end of the week? Trump was told that, knew that and directed the plot to go ahead anyway, repeatedly issuing an illegal order.

[18:05:06]

Remember, he's the president at the time. Lawfully still. He issued an order. It was illegal. And yet the vice president and the Justice Department, those types orders were, as best we understand, largely resisted. And then finally Trump sent everyone to the Capitol, told them he would march with them. If they believed his lies about the election, they probably believed that statement which at least did not prove true because the Secret Service was concerned he didn't go there.

And when they got there, aided by the organization you just saw documented in this new video, they tried to kill lawmakers and Donald Trump's own vice president.

I want to bring in to our coverage now, Maya Wiley, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance.

Welcome to both of you. Joyce, I go to you first. With the portfolio of a federal prosecutor, what do you see in that video evidence and who is it bad for legally?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: We're seeing with the evidence that's developing exactly what you would expect at this point, Ari. As DOJ prosecutes more cases, develops more cooperating witnesses, more evidence comes to light. People give up what's on their phones, we're seeing more videotape, we're learning more about how groups like the Proud Boys operated internally.

This evidence is very compelling. This is evidence that DOJ will use against both members of the Proud Boys who are pictured and others who were in contact with them because it's possible to be a member of a conspiracy even if you're not physically present on a given day. Of course the real question is whether cooperating witnesses developed inside of the Proud Boys gives DOJ the ability to go further up the chain, getting closer to the Oval Office in terms of command and control on these operations.

MELBER: Understood. And on breaching the Capitol, Maya, let's look at another piece of this brand new "Times" video investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When rioters already inside the Capitol helped open these doors, (INAUDIBLE) is one of the first to spill inside. Bigg's group is right behind him. By now it's mayhem. The peaceful transfer of power has been stalled. Hundreds of rioters are milling around inside the Capitol. And at the heart of it all are the Proud Boys leaders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Maya?

MAYA WILEY, INCOMING PRESIDENT AND CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Yes, you know, one of the things that's so important to understand about not just what happened on January 6th, but of Donald Trump's relationships and who have been his foot soldiers, right? This is the Donald Trump who, during the campaign and the debate, told the Proud Boys to stand by.

You know, it was kind of clear messaging, and then later denied he even knew who the Proud Boys were. But the evidence that we know from the indictment, from the Department of Justice indictment, had already said sedition. We've got evidence of sedition, and I think Joyce is exactly right when she says what we're seeing as evidence through these hearings and through the additional information and evidence is coming forward is these were foot soldiers.

They were behaving as soldiers, they were intentionally incognito, we know that. And we know that they were inciting others who were not part of their group, other people who came to the rally, inciting them to violence. And what that tells us is our democracy is in trouble both because there was a president unwilling to allow the peaceful transition of power with knowledge and information that he did not win the election, but that also he has relationships, particularly through Roger Stone, certainly we know that, but with extremists.

This is a gateway organization to white supremacy. This is connected to violence we're seeing around the country and other forms that is not the Genie going back in the bottle simply because we have hearings and it is why we must have criminal prosecutions.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, you both lay that out and it's sort of vital that people see it, especially as I mentioned in our introduction tonight that there has been different narratives out there and people can disagree about what they see after they see it, that the hearings have broken through and some of the daytime hearings were now covered on FOX as well where more people are going to have to reckon with what that was. And as you say, Donald Trump named checking the Proud Boys himself.

There's something else important here, too. Again, we're trying to kind of remind everyone what the key stuff is and with some of the new reporting as well as we end the week.

So, Maya and Joyce, stay with me as we turn to some of the testimony on the phone call between Trump and Pence. Notable for not only its vulgarity, but also because the committee is suggesting this final call between those two shows Trump's relentless attempt to issue the illegal order to carry out that Eastman-Navarro coup plot.

[18:10:15]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So then you said at some point there is a telephone conversation between the president and the vice president? Is that correct?

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Yes. And that became heated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember what she said? Her father called him --

JULIE RADFORD, IVANKA TRUMP'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: The P word.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The phone call between President Trump and Mike Pence, it turned out there was a huge audience in the Oval Office for this thing.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: The seriousness of the moment appears to be very, very grave. It appears to be from the vice president's side just serious as a heart attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The testimony about that call is now evidence against Trump. It shows his intensity pushing the coup, and that may be why the committee included that word Trump used about Pence. A reminder that Trump can sound like a profane gangster. He could have been rapping a 21 Savage song at Pence and it would have sounded similar. But it's also important that Trump was angry because everyone was actually turning his coup.

His own vice president, all the top government lawyers, soon his own family, and aides who've been testifying in a probe that's already led to many indictments. And Trump might ask, how many people doubted you? A lot. Left you out to rot? A lot. When your own people leave you out to rot, the answers also get tougher as 21 teaches. How many problems you got? A lot. How many lawyers you got? A lot.

And Trump has a lot of lawyers right now. We just learned his top coup lawyer was told to get his own criminal defense lawyer.

Maya, I go to you first because the profanity jumped out. I think people heard that around the nation, and that makes the president -- the outgoing president sound churlish, profane, juvenile, thuggish. And yet the larger point that the committee wanted to point to, the reason that he has a lot of lawyers, is that he was enraged that his orders were no longer being followed because those individuals, according to testimony, refused the unlawful order to interfere with or try to illegally overthrow the vote.

WILEY: Yes, this is one of the, I mean, truly impactful parts of the hearings from an evidentiary standpoint because what we're hearing not just that they're lawyers, but they're Trump loyalists. There are people who are completely on his side, in his camp, did everything they could for him to win election and stay in office except violate the law, right? And they're telling him repeatedly and from every quarter, whether it's Department of Justice, whether it's his own White House counsel and of course the vice president's counsel, like no, you can't do this.

But Trump is a bully. And we know this, I say that as a statement of fact, because we've seen bullying behavior from him in all different kinds of contexts. We have heard from his own mouth the incitement to violence in his 2015-2016 presidential campaign.

MELBER: Yes.

WILEY: We heard it on videotape when he talked about sexually assaulting women. This is not really knew, and we've always known that he demands full loyalty, and in mob boss tradition, communicates it in that way.

MELBER: Yes, you just laid it all out. Joyce, one more layer of this is sometimes some people refer to this as pressuring Pence. They're putting pressure on him, putting heat on him. "A campaign," quote-unquote. And I understand. I mean, we can all quibble with word choices. I'm sure people can find things I've said on air as a journalist, and say there's a better to say it. But this seems so important. Legally I wanted to get your view on that because it would seem, according to now the evidence we have, that that understates the issue.

You could lobby or pressure someone and then let them make their own decision. Politicians sometimes say, oh, we're pressuring Congress to pass gun reform. This, based on what we heard, your analysis, please, sounds more like a direct and repeated illegal order. It didn't happen, so it's kind of confusing, we expect the president's orders to be followed unless they're illegal, but was it a pressure campaign or was it legally potentially something more?

VANCE: There are a lot of different words you might potentially want to apply here, Ari. It reminds me a little bit of the president's conduct of his phone call with the Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he ultimately threatened and cajoled him. You know, this might be solicitation, come along and do this with me, solicitation to commit a crime.

[18:15:04]

It could be conspiracy. Let's enter into an agreement to do this together so we can hold on to power. There could be bribery. There could be threats. As you say, there could be a direct order to do something illegal. One of the issues that we still have here is that we don't know precisely how to characterize the president's interactions with Mike Pence.

MELBER: Well, let me --

VANCE: Because Mike Pence did not testify.

MELBER: Yes. Let me draw you out on that.

VANCE: Did not talk to the committee.

MELBER: Let me draw you out on that. A very important point you just raised about the testimony would be, you likened it to some other interactions which as you say may have criminal exposure but just to be precise here, with Mr. Raffensperger and others, that crime, as you said, would have been potential conspiracy or trying to draw him in, but in the organization of our system, under federalism, those state officials are separate with their own authority and they don't report in to the president.

With Vice President Pence and anyone in that chain -- let me just give an example. If he ordered Vice President Pence to go deal with something with the National Guard or go deal with something with foreign policy, I order you to go to this meeting with a Canadian foreign minister, you follow that order. I mean, you don't have a reason not to and you're in the chain of command in the United States federal government. That's why I wonder whether this is somehow different. Your analysis.

VANCE: Sure, it absolutely could be an order. Again, if you're a prosecutor looking at the case, you've got to know the details. You've got to know the precise language that was used with Pence, and that's why at this point we see so many different possibilities, all of them criminal. There's not really an exculpatory option here. We don't know exactly what the choice would be, and that's part of being a prosecutor and exercising your discretion.

It's picking the right statute, the right crime that you believe you can prove was committed. I think your pick here, Ari, issuing an ordered to do something that's illegal is an awfully good choice and the facts may ultimately bear that one out.

MELBER: I appreciate your precision there, and part of what you're reminding us is while that, as you said may be an option, there could be a fact pattern when all the evidence is in where a more benign reading, if Mr. Pence, for example, try a testimony saying, well, in seven different ways he wanted me to do it, but he's a careful mob boss, to quote Maya Wiley from five minutes ago, and he didn't directly order me or I didn't perceive it that way, as you say, there's some nuance there, which is important. We're trying to be as careful as possible. This is heavy stuff.

Joyce and Maya, I want to thank you for kicking us off. I know you've been busy this week so we thank you for all of that, and I hope you have a good weekend.

VANCE: You, too, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

WILEY: You, too, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you.

Coming up, the pardon list. Pleading the Fifth. Why Trump's coup lawyer is in legal jeopardy. That's my report on the biggest smoking gun, if you take one thing from all three of these hearings, that breakdown is coming up.

We also have, because we're trying to understand everything we've seen in context, some of the most explosive moments from all three hearings. Do you ever feel like each night we're just kind of doing the most recent ones? I mean, that's called news, but I'm going to show you what our team has put together about all of the hearings thus far. We think that is worthwhile.

And by the end of the hour, we have two of what might be your favorite stars from the iconic show "The Wire." It's their 20th anniversary, Lance Reddick and Lawrence Gilliard Jr. are here tonight, live. I can't wait but I will. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:22:49]

MELBER: These first three insurrection hearings have released lots of new evidence. And we've been watching together, reporting, analyzing. Now as promised with you, I'm going to turn to the smoking gun evidence that felt big when it happened for sure, but I don't know about you I'm not sure that in the entire sort of community of people paying attention to this, which now numbers in the tens of millions, that it has broken through as quite as significant as it should. But there is time yet and that's why we're focusing on it.

I'm talking Nixon Watergate level stuff. I can report for you tonight this is one of the largest new smoking guns. New evidence showing coup plotter and Trump lawyer John Eastman knew and even admitted in writing in secret the whole plan was illegal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Dr. Eastman e-mailed Rudy Giuliani and requested that he be included on a list of potential recipients of a presidential pardon. Dr. Eastman's e-mail stated, quote, "I've decided that I should be on the pardon list if that is still in the works." Dr. Eastman did not receive his presidential pardon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Eastman and Trump knew this was all illegal, which is why he wanted a pardon, and that's the smoking gun. Eastman seeking a pardon for himself, for his apparent crime with Trump as the apparent co-conspirator. This is Trump's own lawyer.

So I want to show you exactly what this is. We showed it in the committee hearing but here's the independent evidence. The thing about these hearings is we learn stuff and we can put it in our own context. He's writing Giuliani and Eastman says he wants to be on the pardon list.

Now that is damning. That is a sign that he not only knows what he did was potentially illegal or illegal, but that he could be indicted for it. And let me be clear, because I want to be as clear as possible with you. If he thinks that about himself, all of that applies to Donald Trump. There is no separate Eastman criminal plan. He's not embezzling money on the side from the IRS. He's not planning something else on January 21st. This implicates Trump from his own apparently incompetent lawyer.

[18:25:03]

Now, that's my best effort to explain to you why I think it matters. Let me show you some other sources in case you say, OK, but that's just one journalist's view. Here's the Supreme Court of the United States. "A pardon carries the imputation of guilt and acceptance of a confession of it."

I'm going to read that to you again. The Supreme Court, this is the law in America. You may not know it if you don't keep track of this stuff or you haven't committed crimes, but lawyers know this. When you seek and accept a pardon, you are confessing legally. Now that's the high court of the land.

Let me give you one more source because we try to report this stuff out directly. That means talking to everybody. It might mean talking to people you don't want to hear from, and obviously you have free will, you can always change the channel. But just last night, we were joined by a Trump lawyer who defended then President Trump in the first impeachment, Robert Ray. He also succeeded Ken Starr in the investigation into President Clinton.

This is an individual with right-wing legal credentials. And while we went back and forth on certain points, he did acknowledged that this lawyer Eastman is in trouble and asking for that pardon is not good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT RAY, FORMER TRUMP DEFENSE LAWYER: As a lawyer, you try to navigate along the lines of never doing anything that would get you disbarred, never have to take the Fifth Amendment, and I think probably the parallel in something like this is never do anything for which you would have to seek a pardon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Never means never. That's Trump's defense lawyer basically saying Eastman is in a bad spot. Never do what he did.

Now broaden out, let me just put it like this before we bring in an expert that I think you all know and that we rely on. Richard Nixon sought a pardon in his term's notorious final days because he knew what they had done, and thus Nixon knew he had criminal exposure. Period. Undisputed.

Now let me bring you up to date to what we're discussing because this is why it's Watergate level. John Eastman sought a pardon in Trump's final days because he knew what they did, and he knew they had criminal exposure. Eastman wanted a pardon to protect him from federal indictment for what he did with and for outgoing President Trump.

This sounds bad. It may even sound like I am belaboring the point, although I'm belaboring it because it is important. This is a legal heart attack. Everything I've said that sounds terrible for Mr. Eastman and Mr. Trump relates to what Mr. Eastman thinks, not what I think. He thinks he needs a pardon. He thinks that he is in a situation where it can be at least reasonably argued or proven that he committed to thwart the lawful election a crime that then President Trump would be in on.

Now do you feel like I've just been going on and on? I wanted to make sure to make that point clearly but I want to put an explanation point on it so with the help of our BEAT team here, we want to widen out, and remind you this is not high-level lawyering stuff, this is straightforward. This is like, if you plead the Fifth, as we know from a lot of pop culture and other references which Eastman did over and over, well, you're already not in the best spot.

I want to be clear, I said this before. Legally it does not justify discrimination against whoever pleads the Fifth. But boy, do we all know it's not great.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pleading the Fifth until I speak to my lawyer.

JOHN EASTMAN, LAWYER: I assert my Fifth Amendment right against being compelled to be a witness against myself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the advice of counsel, I must respectfully decline to answer your question based on my rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that statement in this memo true?

EASTMAN: Fifth. Fifth. Fifth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I plead the Fifth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he tell you where he was on the day McAllister was murdered?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I plead the Fifth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And that's what it looks like when people plead the Fifth. This is important. And we have a special guest who has been both a federal prosecutor and a counselor to these type of House probes.

John Flannery is here when we're back in just one minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:32]

MELBER: We are back with former federal prosecutor John Flannery, we walked through it, your response, your view of the weight of that evidence?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I thought it's very interesting. Normally, when somebody evokes the Fifth Amendment, I am like you, cherry (PH) of criticizing it because a person has a right not to be a witness against him or herself, or itself. And in this case, though, we have two pieces of information and we take the information, we have a man taking the indication of remaining silent, at the same time, within a realm of weeks days, he's asking for a pardon from the president.

Those two things together suggest more strongly than in isolation, that he's concerned and he has a right to be concerned. I mean, he may not be always a -- oh, it's a Kevin Bacon, you know, so many degrees of separation. In order to write his pardon, they would have to describe his crime. And he has like one degree of separation from the president from the chief of staff for the president, Meadows, for -- you know, all of these people.

Can you imagine what he'd have to write to protect himself from the prosecution? And I think that's one of the reasons why we did not see pardons for some of the key players because they didn't want to give a roadmap to the world for what had not yet been disclosed.

MELBER: Well, you just -- let me pause you there because you move so fast. You make an -- a very important point that we didn't get to in the setup. We walked through why lawyers know a pardon imputes guilt, you walk through the process, which has to say what you're pardoned for. Even in a Trumpian error, if he's leaving office and you want to wave that around in court. It's not a get-out-of-jail-free card for everything ever or the future. It has to be for something.

And so, you're saying that while people might wonder, well, if Trump made other controversial pardons, including for Roger Stone in the life, why didn't he do this here? And you're raising that point that you think it would have been dangerous for Trump to do it. That might be a reason he held back.

FLANNERY: Right, including the point that you made in your setup, which was including Trump. I was conferring with Trump. And I'm afraid what we did was a scheme to obstruct Congress's full business and overthrow the government with a factually baseless, unlawful alteration of the Constitution and the act that provides for how we count electors.

I mean, how do you write that? And not reveal that you believe in pointing the finger at the then-president of the United States and the same goes for all (INAUDIBLE) the people.

MELBER: You're doing -- it's like that Spider-Man meme if you've ever seen but you're -- there's a lot of pointing, but legally, you're going to be pointing at Trump -- hey, the crime I did for you. I need a pardon for -- I did it for you because we talked about a planned it together. And everyone heard you talk about it will up to and including the 6th. So, John, on that point, respond to this. Here is someone we haven't heard from as much lately, Donald Trump talking future pardons.

FLANNERY: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if I become president, someday, if I decide to do it, I will be looking at them very, very seriously for pardons, very, very seriously. They'll take nine hours' worth the depositions, destroying people, trying to destroy them. And after the nine hours, they'll put up a five-second clip where they got a little tired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Your response, John, and what is he doing there in the midst of all this? Basically, trying to imply to people who could end up testifying further against him in a criminal context or even people in the sedition case is saying, yes, you could get a 20-year sentence. But if he were to come back into office, a pardon would let you out and become a two-year sentence.

FLANNERY: What he does best is obstruct justice in every way, shape, or form. You got to wonder why up and down east coast is not a single prosecutor that's going forward. Why? Why is there not one prosecute in Georgia, D.C., New York anywhere with the evidence they have, including a tape recording out of Georgia not acted.

The prosecutor in Georgia has summoned a grand jury that cannot indict anyone. It's like she's buying time. And so, -- and look at our own Justice Department, they are begging to borrow the homework from the committee that did a real investigation for what they have failed to do.

MELBER: That might be --

FLANNERY: What they're going to do --

MELBER: Everyone gets their turn on this program -- or you'll stand by -- that might be a little far but you get your turn just like Mr. Ray got his last night. I got to keep --

FLANNERY: I'll come on and apologize. I'll be glad to apologize for this any action of the sleepy Department of Justice.

MELBER: No, I didn't say -- I didn't say Mr. Flannery you need to apologize. I just put on record it might be a little far but you get your turn like everyone else. I got to keep it moving because of this special stuff coming up. Good to see you have a good weekend, John.

[18:35:00]

FLANNERY: Thank you. Nice being with you, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely. When we come back, our special that we've been putting together all week. On everything that you need to know how to these hearings, just the sizzle highlights.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: These hearings have been explosive. Are people getting the message, learning the facts, well, we have some information. Millions have been watching around the globe. Foreign newspapers also reporting how Trump lit the fuse for the assault on the Capitol, detained the coup attempt, and the conspiracy that ended in violence.

[18:40:00]

And so, from around the world to in so many households, 30 million-plus, this evidence is getting through. People will make up their own minds. Right now, we've put together some of the key highlights from all three hearings. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), JANUARY 6 HOUSE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol will be in order.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), JANUARY 6 HOUSE COMMITTEE: These false claims of election fraud --

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), JANUARY 6 HOUSE COMMITTEE VICE-CHAIRMAN: The massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information.

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: The stuff that these people were shuttling out to the public was bull --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said dead people are voting --

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: As a combination of Italians, Germans of Hugo Chavez, and of Venezuelans. Something in the Philippines --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indians are getting paid to vote.

HERSCHMANN: Are you out of your effing mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was not true --

BARR: He's become detached from reality, crazy stuff.

HERSCHMANN: What they were proposing, I thought was nuts.

BARR: There were idiotic plans --

HERSCHMANN: Completely nuts --

BILL STEPIEN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Votes are still being counted. It's too early to tell, too early to call the race.

JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: We should not go and declare victory until we had a better sense of the numbers.

BARR: I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president it was bull --

IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: I respected Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he sent was saying --

LOFGREN: After the election, what were the chances of President Trump winning the election?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FORMER POLITICS EDITOR, FOX NEWS: None.

MILLER: He delivered to the president pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.

GREG JACOB, FORMER COUNSEL TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We would lose nine to nothing in the Supreme Court.

STEPIEN: President's mind was made up --

LOFGREN: Rather than accept the results of the election. He tried to convince the American people the election had been stolen.

MICHAEL LUTTIG FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Constitutional mischief --

HERSCHMANN: I don't want to hear any other effing words coming out of your mouth no matter what. Other than orderly transition --

CHENEY: President Trump summoned a violent mob and directed them illegally to march on the United States Capitol.

NICK QUESTED, FILMMAKER: For anyone who didn't understand how violent that event was. I saw it, I documented it, and I experienced it. The crowd turned from protesters to rioters to insurrectionists. The anger and the profanity.

CROWD: Bring Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

JACOB: The vice president had refused to get into the car. And the vice president had said something to the effect of you're not the one behind the wheel.

CHENEY: Aware of the rioters' chants to hang Mike Pence, the president responded, Mike Pence quote, deserves it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mayor was definitely intoxicated.

STEPIEN: I didn't mind being characterized as being part of team normal --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Defer to say that election defense fund was another marketing tactic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LOFGREN: A big lie was also a big rip-off.

THOMPSON: He lied to his supporters and the country --

CHENEY: Corruptly pressured state legislators and election officials to change election results.

THOMPSON: He lost. But he betrayed the trust of American people. The people had voted him out. And the courts upheld the will of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That's the committee's opening argument here for three hearings. The Trump folks knew it was illegal. They knew he lost and he and some aides staged a coup. It can happen here and the committee warns without consequences. It may yet happen again.

We're going to fit in a break and when we come back, we get into some of the other evidence that points to criminal liability and why people are talking about thug life. Right now, with special guests.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:47:48]

MELBER: Welcome back. I don't know about you. But if you follow the news like we do, what a week. All these revelations. All of the evidence against Donald Trump as a criminal gangster mastermind operating in a White House that he was about to vacate. Is the culmination of what has been said by people close to Trump. Indeed, Maya Wiley referred to this.

Earlier today on the show when she didn't know we were planning this segment, but others have said it, Michael Cohen has said it, people around Trump have said it, that he acts and operates and talks like a gangster, like a mob boss. This is real life, but it interacts with, of course, wherever he's learning about what he thinks mobsters and gangsters do.

And that has drawn comparisons to all kinds of films and shows from The Godfather to The Wire, which happens to be celebrating its 20th anniversary right now. And the show is one of my all-time favorites because it deals with all of the difficult human aspects of our criminal justice system, of our cities, of the tough choices people have to make, of bureaucracy, and how we deal with gangsters in their codes. Some of these themes foreshadowing the kind of president we had for four years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE GILLIARD JR., ACTOR: Pawns, man, in the game, they get capped quick. They be out the game early.

IDRIS ELBA, ACTOR: Is you taking notes full of criminal (BLEEP) conspiracy? What the (BLEEP) is your thinking man?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: President Trump had a habit of ripping up documents. A former senior Trump official said of Trump quote, he didn't want a record of anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it was a lie then we fight on that lie.

WENDELL PIERCE, ACTOR: The bigger the lie, the more they believe.

ELBA: No more pagers, nobody's going to use these cell phones except for you and Bodie.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: Federal investigators yesterday seized cell phones and other electronic devices from the Manhattan home and office of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

PIERCE: A man must have a code.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no doubt.

MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS, ACTOR: A man got to have a code.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has no interest in what President Roosevelt called the presidency as a place of pre-eminently, a place of moral leadership.

ELBA: Uncle and me we think you've got a snitch up in the shop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An extremely angry president describing his former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen as vermin, specifically a rat.

[18:50:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Become a decay you best not miss.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Snitches in rats, snitches and rats. Now we turn to something very special, two beloved cast members from that iconic show. Lance Reddick, who played the Baltimore officers Cedric Daniels and Lawrence Gilliard Jr., who played none other than, D'Angelo Barksdale, one of the lieutenants in that gang and drug operation. Welcome to both of you.

GILLIARD: Thank you.

LANCE REDDICK, ACTOR: Thanks, it's pleasure to meet.

MELBER: Lance, what did you think of The Wire echoing in Trump's thuggishness?

REDDICK: Wow. (INAUDIBLE) in some ways, it actually remind me a little -- believe it or not, it remind me a little more of The Sopranos. When I look at that clip, I'm reminded of actually within the organizations. How much integrity there was with the criminals, but I definitely think you know, the line that really struck me was Bunk's line, the bigger the lie, the more they believe. And I feel like Trump has proven that in a scary way.

MELBER: Very well put. Very important. And how do you defend a lie, with more lies? You can't -- you can't defend it with the truth. And Lawrence, the code. This was a show that, as I mentioned, touch many people, and it had a humanity about both people who made hard choices. It's like Andre 3000, said selling is a sin.

But don't tell young men selling is a sin without giving them new ways to win. And I also want to be clear, there was a humanity to the officers portrayed. Your thoughts on all of that, as well as the sound we just heard?

GILLIARD: Well, yes, I mean, absolutely. Well, the soundbite that just made me laugh, you know, that actually kind of reminded me a little bit of the chest, like I would never -- before the chest scene, I never thought to equate the chest with the game.

But so, I feel to kind of say, like, I never thought that they go, you know, Donald Trump, although -- of course, that's what he is. That's how he acts. That's what he purchased this gangster mentality. You know what I mean? But I just never -- I just never thought to put it together. But it's straight up like he's a gangster, right? Um --

MELBER: And also, the question, Lawrence, I'm sure you know, that Tupac asked, is there a heaven for a gangster?

GILLIARD: Is there heaven for a gangster? Well, I think there's levels. There's levels to -- there's levels to heaven. But there's also levels to - - you know, to being a gangster and what you do as a gangster. Some things I believe, are forgivable. He might -- you might get in. You might make it to a certain level. Some things you might not, you know what I mean? There's levels of being a gangster, there's different types of gangsters, so.

MELBER: Respect. I mean -- and that the code -- that the discussion of the code and the way The Wire shows all that has so many fans. Including former President Obama, I mean, we don't do a ton of 20-year anniversaries of other T.V. shows on the news. But I think of folks who know, know.

And if those are wondering, what are we talking about, we're talking about art, that had tremendous cultural and socio-economic, and political impact. So, here's a little more The Wire, I want to get you guys to respond and also respond to one of your fans. President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm a huge fan of The Wire --

CLARKE PETERS, ACTOR: Which is start to follow the money. And you don't know where the (BLEEP) it's going to take you. The handcuffs go click and is over.

OBAMA: I think it's one of greatest -- not just television shows, but pieces of art in the last couple of decades and --

REDDICK: You show them some other kind of game then that's the game they'll play.

OBAMA: Omar's by the way, my favorite character.

WILLIAMS: The game is out there. And it's either play or get play.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Lance?

REDDICK: Wow. Ah. Wow. Um. I'm speechless. First of all, I'm just so honored that he -- I mean, I've seen that clip before. But one of the things it comes to my mind is how -- and just in terms of on the police side, just how much of the show showed -- how intimately the police department and the political structure interface and that -- and how much the drug war was a function of politics.

Actually, trying to solve crime. And the other thing that I was reminded of is something Simon said --- I think was the third season premiere, that he spoke right before the screening. And he said, I'm happy, people are entertained by The Wire, but it's not meant as entertainment. It's actually meant as a socio-political debate. And so, (INAUDIBLE) so, I think that that's brings true today.

MELBER: Lawrence?

GILLIARD: I mean, he -- you know, for me, it's -- of course, I'm honored that President Obama love the show so much. It's a great compliment coming from him. I mean, he's the person who knows you know -- he -- he's a person who is in the mix -- the political mix. So, he knows, you know. The thing that you know it's always an honor for me is when a politician or a police officer or someone rose up on me and they're like, it was so real, it was so true.

[18:55:00]

You guys got it right. You know? That's why I do what I do to try to tell stories and try to you know, tell these people's stories so that they can, you know, relate on some level and somebody -- and people can -- we can educate people in some way and they can learn and grow in some kind of way to be better people, you know what I mean? So, the fact that he pointed that out, he thought it was his favorite show. That means just the world to me.

MELBER: Amazing. And what David --

GILLIARD: I only wish he said his favorite camp -- his favorite character would be D'Angelo, that's the only thing he could have changed in that.

MELBER: Well, David now I'm going to pass to Joy. But --

REDDICK: I'm sorry I didn't hear you. Did you say, Mr. Daniels? Mr. Daniels, right?

GILLIARD: But we both began with the D. But my favorite character was Omar too. So, I can --

MELBER: I got to pass it to Joy. So, I'm only wrapping us but as you say, David made the art you guys brought it to life, and seeing humanity, the humanity of both sides of that. The police as humans. The people get wrapped up in the drug paid is humans. And as you say the politics around it was important. So, Lance and Lawrence, thank you.

That does it for me here. I'm usually on at 6:00 but tonight we turn the 6:00 upside down. It's a 9:00 now. And I'll be anchoring at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. If you want to join me there with new guests, a new live coverage. "THE REIDOUT" is up next now.

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