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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 9/13/22

Guests: Bill Gates


South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham urged national abortion despite saying last month states should handle it. New details revealed Justice Department had repeated requests to recover the classified documents. Chief Justice Roberts says the legitimacy of the Supreme Court has been called into question with Roe being overturned after so many members of this court pledge that`s exactly what they wouldn`t do. Former federal prosecutor Ken Starr died at 76 years old due to complications from surgery.


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

Hi, Ari. Happy Tuesday.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Happy Tuesday. Thanks, Nicolle.

Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber. And we are tracking more than one story and a big interview.

There`s new reporting about that story that broke late yesterday, 40 subpoenas going all the way up the line to what the "New York Times" call some of the top people in Trump`s orbit. And it ain`t about classified documents. It`s all about coup and the insurrection. We have more on that.

Also something I told you about yesterday, Bill Gates is on THE BEAT tonight in depth. Climate change, inflation, public health, AI, the metaverse. What he says we the West owe Africa, not a conversation that frankly we have every night on American news. As well as a discussion about how Mr. Gates ultimately got somewhat involved in talking to Joe Manchin about what he says are good ideas by Joe Biden.

So we`re going to get into all of that. But we begin with Republicans and the push to roll back women`s rights at a time when Democrats say it`s wrong on policy and human rights and that they have a political answer that they think could help win the midterms.

Here`s Lindsey Graham introducing a bill today -- this is news right now, not a drill -- that he says would ban abortion nationwide.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): And I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand, and that should be where America`s at. States have the ability to do it at the state level, and we have the ability in Washington to speak on this issue if we choose. I have chosen to speak.


MELBER: Senator Graham says he`s chosen to speak. Many people say he is trying to speak for them. Big government in their doctor`s office, in their body, whatever language you want to use. And a couple quick points here, one, you`ll notice that Senator Graham, this leading Republican is directly contradicting what was the promise all along, leave it up to the states, send it back to the states. Leave it up to the states.

That`s what Republicans promised all along to minimize what the abortion ruling would do. That`s what Justice Alito claimed his ruling will do, and all of a sudden cat`s out of the bag. That was either not true or deliberate lie. Tonight you`ll hear the news. And if you live in one of those states where your officials have said they will defend these rights, Lindsey Graham is putting you on notice that if they get power back they will override that.

They will try to ban abortion in New York and California and literally everywhere inside. The power boundaries of the U.S. congress, the whole nation. This is a departure from what not only as I mentioned many Republicans had claimed and what the Supreme Court claimed but also -- and this is more predictable given that Lindsey Graham has been on every which side of every issue including Donald Trump, here`s what he said last month.


GRAHAM: The point I`m trying to make is I`ve been consistent. I think states should decide the issue of marriage and states should decide the issue of abortion.


MELBER: He`s been consistent. OK. Now, what is also striking here -- I mentioned policy and human rights first. We tried to cover the facts and the law for you, but this is also fused with politics. And what is law if not just the function of old politics? So many Democrats say they will use this. They have the passion. 59 percent of Democrats say choice and women`s rights is a top issue compared to just 33 percent of Republicans.

We turn now to someone you often see with a painting behind him operating from his headquarters in California. But he`s with me in person today, Chai Komanduri, a veteran of several presidential campaigns, including Obama`s.

Welcome, sir.


MELBER: It`s not a surprise or big news that Lindsey Graham contradicted his own recent claims.


MELBER: It is more striking to see a leading Republican push this right now, not inflation or other issues, when it would seem the polling is against them. What do you see happening here?

KOMANDURI: Yes, the Senate Republicans see -- and Lindsey Graham sees everything that we`re seeing. They`re seeing women`s voter registration surging. "The New York Times" said across 10 states it has gone up about 35 percent. And what Lindsey Graham is saying is let`s get turnout going on our side. Let`s get turnout going on the anti-choice side, so he`s put forward a national abortion ban, which is what this bill is.

MELBER: Right.

KOMANDURI: To try to get conservative turnout because basically he is saying, forget about swing voters, forget about independent voters.


We`ve lost them already. This is now a turnout battle. Their side is turning out. We must get our side to turn out.

MELBER: So your view is the contradiction is itself a kind of a tell.


MELBER: That they feel they`re already owning the negative as they view it of women turning out more and this is a way to try to buck up a base that otherwise might say, well, they got their ruling, they`re maybe not as energized.

KOMANDURI: Exactly, and one of the most interesting things was you immediately saw people like John Cornyn distance themselves from Lindsey Graham`s effort.


KOMANDURI: They know this is a bad strategic move. However, what is occurring here is that Lindsey Graham can`t see past his own arrogance. He believes this is a good strategy, and part of the reason he believes it`s a good strategy is that the anti-choice side has been enormously successful in this country over 48 years. Success breeds arrogance, and that`s exactly what we`re seeing right now.

You know, what Ralph Reed, one of the founders of the Christian coalition, said was, is that the religious rights` strategy in this country is to paint their face and travel by night. You won`t know they`re dead until you`re in the body bag. And what they didn`t count on is now the pro-choice side is out of the body bag and ready to vote.


KOMANDURI: This is something they have no preparation for.

MELBER: Right. And you`re definitely seeing enthusiasm. Lindsey Graham also talking about other pocketbook issues in Social Security. Take a listen.


GRAHAM: I am 66, soon will be 67. I have a good salary. I have a military retirement. I have a congressional pension plan. If you asked me to take a little less to save Social Security for people who need it more than I do, count me in. And it`s going to take that kind of commitment from all of us. The wealthier people are going to have to take a little less in benefits. Younger people are living longer, so we`re going to have to adjust the age once again.


MELBER: It has a kind of a whiff of asserted populism. Is it actually populist?

KOMANDURI: No, it`s actually an attempt to raise money from rich donors who do not want to contribute tax money to pay for Social Security. That is what Lindsey Graham is doing, that is what Rick Scott is doing when they talk about cuts to Social Security. The Republicans in addition to seeing the polls going down for them have also seen major problems with their fundraising.

There`s a whole discussion as to what has happened to national Republican fundraising in this cycle while Democrats have seen enormous surges in grassroots donations. So Lindsey Graham is guising in populism, but that`s actually a plea to rich donors, hey, give us money, you know, we`re going to protect your tax dollars from going to Social Security. That`s exactly what -- that`s always been a popular position among rich people in this country, and that`s exactly why they`re appealing to that.

MELBER: So you`re pointing to a couple of things that could work for the Democrats in the midterms. I told viewers you worked for the Obama-Biden campaign. But we rely on you because we find you -- and this is a faint praise, but we find you slightly less predictably partisan than the typical beltway pundit. How about that? That`s a nice thing to say.

KOMANDURI: That is a very nice thing to say.

MELBER: Slightly less. So I`m looking for your honesty and candor here about something that would be tough for any incumbent administration, in this case Biden, which is, yes, gas is stabilizing but the prices are still out of control, and that hits a lot of people really week to week. You could black out the news, you could stop paying attention to whatever. You can`t ignore that everything costs more than it did last year. Here`s the headline, inflation stubbornly high. Wages not keeping pace with these fast rising prices which they know is also an uncomfortable truth for a president who promised to make real wage gains a centerpiece of his economic program.

I ask you, what can Democrats possibly do about this other than change the subject? Because you can`t claim that this is a great environment for the incumbent White House.

KOMANDURI: Well, the thing is that we actually have passed legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act. That is something that Joe Biden had talked about today. And he had made it very clear that battling inflation is a long-term prospect. However, we, the Democratic Party, has done things to lower health care costs, lower energy costs, lower prescription drug prices, things that will help in the long term to reduce inflation.

The thing you also have to ask is, what are Republicans going to do about inflation? I mean they have not had -- there`s no plan on their part.

MELBER: I`ll tell you what they`re going to do. They`re willing to talk about it.

KOMANDURI: Are they?

MELBER: They`ll talk about it on Sunday shows. Yes. They`ll talk about it, blaming Biden for it, yes.

KOMANDURI: Well, I hear them talking about defending Trump in the Mar-a- Lago raid. I hear them talking as Lindsey Graham did about abortion. I hear them talking about cuts to Social Security. I hear a lot of things other than discussion about inflation, the economy, and the GOP plan.

MELBER: So you don`t think basically they`ve found any way to connect on what their alternative would be. I mean, usually as you know, if you have a big enough incumbent problem, stagflation for Carter, what have you.



MELBER: You don`t have to have an alternative. You just say, look how bad this person`s messing up.

KOMANDURI: Right, but usually the way voters think about midterms is they are angry at the party in power, the party that is making changes to American life that they disapprove of. What has happened with the Dobbs decision is that the party in power for many voters is the Republican Supreme Court. They are the ones who have done the most radical, far- reaching change in American life that we`ve seen in a very long time was the Dobbs decision, and that is exactly why you`re seeing this energy among Democrats. You`re seeing grassroots fundraising take off. You`re seeing voter registrations among women take off.

MELBER: It`s interesting when you tie it all together that way, makes one wonder whether you might be good at this. This thing you`re doing.

I`m going to fit in our shortest break which is one minute. As I mention often you`re on remote with that painting. Who`s it by?


MELBER: But not an original apparently.

KOMANDURI: No. I unfortunately cannot afford that. Yes.

MELBER: But the bonus here is since we`re together, you will be on cam even in our one minute break. We`ll see you leaving. So I just -- now you know, the viewers know. Let me tell everyone what I`m excited about.

We got Bill Gates on THE BEAT tonight. AI, climate change, and why he says the West owes Africa more than we`re doing right now.

There`s also breaking news out of the Trump probes on Jan 6th and the classified docs, as I mentioned when we`re back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: We are tracking this news story, including new information now. Redactions removed. You can see some, but there`s new information that we have from those Mar-a-Lago search warrant materials. The judge has allowed the Justice Department to basically release even more information, and it shows something that`s bad for Trump, that the Justice Department had repeated requests to recover the classified documents.

Subpoena also asked for surveillance video from January 10th through about August, and that counsel for Trump at one point told the FBI he was advised all records that came from the White House were stored in one location room within Mar-a-Lago called the storage room. Now it doesn`t say according to the new material who advised that lawyer that apparently false information.

Also it`s revealed that Trump`s lawyer further stated he was not advised there were any records in any private office space or their locations. Now that is known to be false. Classified docs were blatantly found in Donald Trump`s office. You`ve seen the photos. You`ve seen the attestation to that. The case appears to be moving forward with some agreement here between both parties.

The Justice Department says it will accept one of Trump`s candidates to do this extra review, the special master review of the seized documents. So that`s one probe.

Then you have January 6th, DOJ issuing 40 subpoenas in a week, what "The New York Times" has called the most significant escalation to date, also seizing the phones of top Trump advisers. Today Trump`s legal team is on the attack saying that Biden is somehow secretly pulling the strings. They don`t offer any evidence for that but they`re saying that he`s now weaponized the DOJ.

You`ll note that is exactly what Donald Trump faced credible accusations of, including by his own FBI director, people at the DOJ, and most recently, his former handpicked U.S. attorney for the Southern District. So many people say that looks like projection without evidence.

Cameras also caught up with the committee chairman Bennie Thompson about when we`re going to see this famed report that`s supposed to come out of the committee. We`ll have more about that on THE BEAT this week. Right now there`s just a lot of different clues that suggest the committee is gearing back up.

Now we have a very special guest here. I can tell you he just walked in. He`ll be on set with me. I bet you know who he is. Famed Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman is here with me on THE BEAT right after this break.



MELBER: We are back on this breaking news with Nick Akerman, former Watergate prosecutor, and this is one of those days where some of the documents tell the story. Obviously some of this stays redacted, but a few new clues here. One headline we`ve seen, I`m curious your reaction, is there was lying, or you could use more fancy words, but what appears to be lying, but they`re currently at the DOJ not locating it at Trump`s level. They`re saying it`s his lawyer.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, I think that`s right. I mean, we know that with the affidavit that was submitted in response to the grand jury subpoena.


The lawyer basically represented that a very thorough search had been made of the entire premises basically and that this is all there was, which was false.


AKERMAN: You`ve also --

MELBER: And just pause there.


MELBER: If that were true, Mr. Trump would have never had his home searched, right? I mean there`s this --

AKERMAN: That`s right, if that were true.

MELBER: If that were true, there would have been months where he`d probably had things they shouldn`t have, but they went out of their way to accommodate him, and they wouldn`t have had the search.

AKERMAN: That would have been the end of it.

MELBER: So what do we learn now from this?

AKERMAN: What we learned now is that the lawyers were doing all kinds of things representing that he was -- there was nothing else there, and so either the lawyers were lied to by Donald Trump or the lawyers are in cahoots are Donald Trump. It`s one or the other. And you`ve got another lawyer who is also present there in May of this past year doing a search of his office with respect to the order that came from the New York state court on Trump`s taxes.

And she claimed in her declaration that she had gone through all of his desks, that she had gone through his office, and didn`t find anything in the tax case. But there`s no way she wouldn`t have seen items that were marked classified with those different colored papers. She`d have had to be color blind not to see it. So either she`s going to have to say that she didn`t see anything and it wasn`t there, which means that Trump moved the stuff in there afterwards in response to the subpoena, to hide it, or he just kept it there for reasons that we don`t know.

MELBER: So you have that against Bill Barr saying, what is it, technical case here where you could technically indict Trump, but in fairness, unlike, say, the coup, where there`s a lot of stuff tied directly to him, we`ve still got -- it`s a lot of space. It`s a lot of lawyer conversations between -- of layers between DOJ before you get to Trump.

So do you see this as, at this juncture, not as strong a case compared to, say, Georgia or the federal coup case?

AKERMAN: Well, I think that`s correct, at least as too far as what we know at this point. But certainly the government has got witnesses. There`s material that was found in Donald Trump`s office, and we just don`t know what else is in there. I mean, look, the Espionage Act can go from anywhere from actually possessing the records to selling the records to a foreign government, or somewhere in between.

MELBER: Yes, and that -- no one`s going there yet with evidence.

AKERMAN: Right. Exactly. No one`s going there. But the fact of the matter is we just don`t know what they`re saying, and even if you had the affidavit that was submitted here, that wouldn`t necessarily tell you everything that the government knows, because --

MELBER: Of course.

AKERMAN: They would have gone in with their strongest piece. That is that he possessed the classified information.

MELBER: Right, and we still, to your point, there`s still other stuff we don`t know, and in my experience, sometimes the stuff, when they go round and round and you get a couple revelations and then this stuff`s still redacted, that`s the really good stuff. Right?

AKERMAN: Of course. That`s what the witnesses are saying, right?

MELBER: People know -- our loyal viewers know you as Watergate. You also were SDNY, right?

AKERMAN: That`s correct.

MELBER: And that`s a powerhouse office. I think we have Jeff Berman. We want to talk about that. Is that all right with you?

AKERMAN: Sure, absolutely.

MELBER: All right. So Mr. Berman served in that office. He is speaking out more now. I think we have some of that. Let`s take a listen to Jeff Berman.


GEOFFREY BERMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SDNY: It was an extraordinary revelation from the Department of Justice that Donald Trump and those around Donald Trump are being investigated not merely for the mishandling of classified information but for obstruction of the subpoena that required the production of that classified information. That is a very, very serious charge.


MELBER: Now he`s one of Trump`s handpicked prosecutors, although he didn`t go the way maybe Trump wanted. His view is that what we were just discussing, the lawyers lying or probably lying if you want to be as charitable as possible.


MELBER: Could become criminal obstruction. Not good for a lawyer to do.


MELBER: And two, he has been speaking out with a book of what he says were Donald Trump`s demands to do political prosecutions out of SDNY.


MELBER: Given your experience, your views on all of that.

AKERMAN: Well, first of all, I mean, what he was asked to do is absolutely outrageous. I mean, he was asked to create a case on this fellow Craig Greg who was in the Obama administration. Basically investigated it and found -- basically concluded the guy was innocent. And then what did Donald Trump do and his Justice Department do? They took it down to the District of Columbia, D.C. U.S. attorney`s office, and they indicted on it, and of course what happened was just as Jeff Berman had decided, this guy was acquitted, you know, in a few hours.

I mean, there was no case there. I mean, all of it, I mean, if you had to compare it to anything in Watergate, it was like how the Nixon administration tried to use the Internal Revenue Service to go after its enemies after Larry O`Brien, who was the Democratic chairman, a bunch of other prominent Democrats.


And kind of like Geoffrey Berman, what was interesting is, it was the people there, the civil servants, the people who had the ability to say, no, I`m not going to do it or they somehow avoided doing it, just like Jeff Berman describes how he did it.


AKERMAN: That they were able to basically put it off.

MELBER: Right, and so there`s -- you know, it`s bittersweet. It`s a lot of problems how much Trump pushed, and it tells you the plan if they got back in office as far as lawyers are concerned and DOJ, but it also shows you some people who stood up to it.

Nick Akerman, good to see you, sir.

AKERMAN: Good to see you. Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate you.

Coming up tonight, Bill Gates, our special guest on THE BEAT. I`m excited about that. Stay with us. We also have an update on Chief Justice Roberts. He spoke out and now Justice Kagan is apparently clapping back, next.



MELBER: Turning to a dissent of a different kind. Justice Elena Kagan is dissenting, but it`s not in an opinion. This is her apparent rebuttal. The Chief Justice, Roberts, says the legitimacy of the Supreme Court has been called into question for all the reasons, you know, we`ve covered on with Roe being overturned after so many members of this court pledge that`s exactly what they wouldn`t do. The court has the lowest ever approval ratings that have been registered. It has that decision I mentioned and Justice Roberts, Chief Justice had made his statement about the court. And in a way, he seemed to really fuzzier conflate the issues and blame others.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Lately, the criticism is phrased in terms of, you know, because of these opinions it calls into question the legitimacy of the court. You don`t want the political branches telling you what the law is. And you don`t want public opinion to be the guide of what the appropriate decision is. But simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.


MELBER: Chief Justice Roberts suggesting that people are only going off their personal opinions. And it is true. A personal disagreement with a ruling is not a great way to judge the court. But that`s not accurate. People are holding the court to its own standards of precedent which it broke. And that brings us to Kagan who now says "I think judges create legitimacy problems for themselves, undermine their legitimacy, when they don`t act so much like courts and when they don`t do things that are recognizably law or lawful." She says if one judge dies or leaves the court and another judge comes in and all of a sudden the law changes on you, what does that say?

Ever the diplomat, Justice Kagan, and in fairness, Justice Roberts as well are both sorts of putting it up here. They could walk away from it. They`re not directly saying it to each other but we do think and we try to keep it real with you, they`re talking to each other about the most controversial decision in a generation. Meanwhile, only 27 percent of Americans have high confidence in the court, down 12 points.

And in other legal news this evening, former federal prosecutor Ken Starr has died at 76 years old. The reasoning -- the reason I should say was citing complications from surgery. He proved to be both a widely known lawyer and a controversial one when he delved into political investigations. He led the whitewater probe into President Clinton ultimately then switching sides to serve on an impeachment defense team for Donald Trump. We also have had him right here at this desk on THE BEAT.

And so tonight, we mark the passing of Ken Starr. I wanted to share that with you. I also want to tell you what we have coming up, a very special guest and in-depth interview, Bill Gates on global poverty, climate change, what he`s doing with the Biden administration agenda from time to time, why he thinks the best tech out there could actually help farmers in Africa and what we owe Africa. That`s next.



MELBER: Inflation is a big issue in many parts of the world, Americans are hopeful it may have reached its peak after skyrocketing. It`s one of several issues where we see the post-pandemic realities have many aftershocks from COVID. Consumer credit also soaring, businesses have been hit with COVID unemployment debt. The global economy continues to slow and the heat waves this summer are also some of the worst ever recorded which makes you buy more AC and spend more money as costs go up. These are intertwined problems. And they actually are facing an attempted effort to combat many of the ways that they connect by an expert on Business Technology, Health, and philanthropy, Bill Gates.


BILL GATES, CO-FOUNDER, MICROSOFT: If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it`s most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war. We`ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic.


MELBER: Fact check, true. That was 2015. And whatever you think, of all the different things Mr. Gates has done, he has clearly distinguished himself as someone who sees around corners. We`re in this billionaire era and he stands out as someone who has emerged at the forefront of several fields warning us, not as just Americans or taxpayers, but as global citizens to be prepared for what we`d likely face. And he has put his credibility and his money on focusing on certain issues that he says are the most important for global wellbeing, including public health, and tackling these issues through a nonprofit that works with leaders around the globe and tries to convince governments to do what he says is not only the right thing but often the most cost-effective way to save lives.


Joining me now is Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, which he started in 1975 when he was 19, co-founder of the Gates Foundation, now the largest philanthropic organization in the world. They spend billions on global health with a data-driven approach. The annual Goalkeepers report is out now tracking progress towards the foundation`s sustainable development goals around the world. Mr. Gates, thank you for being here.

GATES: Great to talk to you.

MELBER: Absolutely. The Goalkeepers report I mentioned it tracks progress towards inequality, poverty, climate change. In the poverty department, world hunger was decreasing, recently spiking again. Your report here out now says what`s better than donating food aid is making deeper changes to fix food access, how?

GATES: The productivity of African agriculture is only one-quarter that of American agriculture. And so by working with those farmers to get them seeds that are better adapted to the weather where they live and improving the crops that are typical there that are often very different from ritual crops, getting them advice, we can raise that productivity. And so Africa`s not a gigantic food importer and they`re able to deal with the challenges of population growth and climate change.

MELBER: Yes. That was an interesting part of your report. You write about the hybrid corn or magic seeds. How does that work?

GATES: Well, the seeds that we have can be improved dramatically. And in fact, in the U.S., the corn seeds are constantly being improved. There`s a gigantic market there in the 1970s, what was called the Green Revolution, more than doubled the productivity of rice, wheat, and corn. And yet, we never did the right work on the seeds to make that increase available in Africa. And so clearly, it can be done. They`re having a drought now, you know, the pandemic disrupted their food systems, and so they end up with malnourishment and even starvation. And so, we need to care both about the acute crisis there, but also about a long-term plan to make them an exporter, you know which if we are generous over the next 15 years, that`s an achievable goal.

MELBER: And you`re working here on climate change with your money, with business, with the philanthropy. That is an investment in the future. Then, of course, there`s governments. I want to show you Senator Manchin explaining why he once opposed a package related to the climate reform.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D-WV): This is a mammoth piece of legislation. And I had my reservations from the beginning. When I heard about it five and a half months ago, the inflation that I was concerned about, it`s not transitory, it`s real, it`s harming every West Virginia, so making it almost difficult for them to continue. I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can`t.


MELBER: You hear him there, Mr. Gates. Our viewers have heard it.

GATES: I`ve heard that. Yes.

MELBER: And then for a range of reasons there was this progress, they got the climate bill passed. For folks who don`t know, you were personally lobbying some of these legislators. And so I`m curious if you could tell us more about that. Why of all the things in the world you were engaged on this, and how did you or others move Senator Manchin?

GATES: Well, Senator Manchin`s concern about inflation is very well placed. And you know, the size of this bill in its beginning was absolutely gigantic in terms of the deficit spending involved and you know not funding programs for the full 10 years. What eventually emerged is a much more targeted bill, a lot smaller. And the reason I was involved is that I see the opportunity here for American innovation to do climate-related products. And you know, that can create jobs, both new jobs, and jobs to replace the ones that as hydrocarbon production is going down, that you want to shift into these new industries and you want America to lead the way.


And so it`s got tax credits for innovative work in the areas of climate change where we don`t currently have economic solutions. And so, you know, I put a lot of money into that. And so I`m you know always glad to talk with politicians or other people. You know, I`m not taking any credit for the bill. You know, people like Senator Schumer, Senator Manchin, worked hard. And I do think the bill is a great achievement to solve climate change and build new American industries.

MELBER: You`re in a different -- kind of a different position than some, I think you would agree. And you`ve proven yourself to be good at both tech innovation as well as business. So in reading that, I was just curious, Mr. Gates, if we`re going to get the kind of leaps that you need in agricultural R&D, do you think that fundamentally has to come out of something other than the global capitalism business model and that`s part of what you`re working on, or can it be both? Is it philanthropy and businesses finding ways to do this?

GATES: Yes. The basic understanding is very market-driven. So the seed markets in the rich countries you know work very well. We do need, you know, some government money and philanthropic money to take those advances and make sure that the poorest in the world have access to them, you know. The market systems were great. But then when it comes to making sure that the Africans who are suffering massively because of climate change, which they did nothing to cause and all of that comes up from the emissions from rich countries, and so at the very least, you know, to try to make sure they`re not going backwards and that they can feed their children and avoid malnutrition. I`ve been to this goal of 2 billion a year of public domain seed innovation. We owe that to them, you know so that they can thrive, be stable and eventually be completely self-sufficient.

MELBER: You know it`s very interesting when you put it that way because you`re using a long-term timeline to figure out what could work. You know, in politics, they talk about that kind of stuff as a debt or reparations. You`re talking about people in places that are living under the problems created by the richer parts of the world. So it`s very interesting to hear you put it that way.

Related, you write that the largest problem in food access since the invention of agriculture, which goes back away is this climate change, this climate crisis. One, do people understand, that our climate crisis, according to the research, and the people you`re working with is a food crisis? And two, how do you fix that in a way that`s equitable, as you say, that doesn`t lean on the countries that didn`t contribute to the problem?

GATES: Well, the amount of resources to make these better seeds is not gigantic, you know, it can fit inside the few percent of the government budget that is the aid budget. And we`re committed to help. It`s called climate adaptation, helping these countries avoid the big negative effects. The closer you are to the equator, of course, as it gets warmer, you get to temperatures where the crops aren`t going as well and sometimes farmers can`t even work outside. And so getting seeds to deal with that temperature, we have the science, we know that it can be done but it`s a -- it`s a need of these poor countries that couldn`t afford that themselves.

MELBER: On the climate side, you`ve also become one of the largest landowners in United States, over 18 states soybeans, potatoes, a lot of different things going on there. Do you apply sort of the Goalkeepers climate policies and requirements to all that land that you and sort of your companies own?

GATES: You know, my investment group is investing in those farms raising their productivity. But, you know, you wouldn`t -- it`s not similar to a farm in Africa. A farm in Africa has no tractor, you know, they have a tough time getting credit, so pretty different set of problems.

MELBER: I guess -- yes, I`m just curious. For example, we looked at one environmentalist, John Quarterman says, well, you have all that land. True different geologically. But that you could try more techniques there, to reduce ecological damage from big farming, right? Or some of the potatoes sold to McDonald`s or that kind of stuff.


And so because you have more than one role, you know, is there -- is there a place to do that kind of work or environmentalism, to change the status quo in those properties or you see that as business and as you say, there`s sort of running the way they run?

GATES: Well, there`s -- there are -- you know, all these areas, there`s -- they evolve, you know, they understand how to say, use less fertilizer, which is both good economically and good environmentally. But if you looked at what the state of the art is on a U.S. farm versus an African farm, the issues would be utterly different. I mean, they don`t have any mechanization whatsoever, and their typical farm would be about a thousand the size of an American farm. And, you know, they`re basically growing food for themselves, you know. So when they have a bad year, they face malnutrition. And you know, fortunately, that`s not the case in the United States.

MELBER: While we have you, I was curious about one of the other innovations, this new toilet. Some of the headlines call it sort of a special environmental poop toilet. I don`t know the best thing to call it. But it seems to be a potentially positive breakthrough. Can you explain?

GATES: Yes. So the way that sewage is handled in rich countries issue, you know, have the sewer system in a central processing facility, there`s a lot of places either because that`s too expensive, or for environmental reasons, where you can`t do that and so that the sewage today is not being processed in poor countries. So what we`re trying to do is make it inexpensive to literally build into the toilet that processing so you burn up the waste, and you make sure that it`s not causing disease, it`s not -- there`s not bad smells escaping. And so it`s a reinvention of the toilet. You know, the key is to make it inexpensive. It clearly works but we`re doing a lot to drive the price down and make that available even in urban Africa.

MELBER: Really interesting. I also wanted to tap your mind a little bit about the Metaverse. I presume that you would -- you would say, Mr. Gates, that you can`t see the future, right? Would you say?

GATES: Not -- we all try, but we`re none of us are reliable soothsayers.

MELBER: Yes, so we try. I think it is a demonstrated fact that you have been able to see around corners or make projections about the future that have proved more accurate than many. It certainly happened in tech. Then it happened again in pandemic and COVID preparation. We spoke about that the last time you were on THE BEAT, you made the point that you were working off data about the past and present to be prepared. So we dug up something we think is a little interesting, you, facing skepticism at the time from David Letterman about this new internet thing. Take a look.


DAVID LETTERMAN, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: What about this internet thing? Do you -- do you know anything about that?

GATES: Sure.

LETTERMAN: What the hell is that exactly?

GATES: Well, it`s become a place where people are publishing information.


GATES: So everybody can have their own homepage, companies are there, the latest information. It`s wild what`s going on. You can send electronic mail to people. It is the big new thing.

LETTERMAN: Yes. I can remember. A couple of months ago, there was like a big breakthrough announcement that on the internet or on some computer deal, they were going to broadcast a baseball game. You could listen to a baseball game on your computer. And I just thought to myself, does radio ring a bell?


MELBER: I think you had it maybe a little more accurate than him. It`s proven larger than radio, kind of. As we -- as we wrap up our conversation about the world and the future, Mr. Gates, this Metaverse, so-called Web 3.0, do you see it as being a place where more life society, and commerce will function? Will it be a big part of the economy? How do you advise people to look at that?

GATES: Well, I think the immersive experience where you`re in a 3d world, and that`s been used in gaming, used in some simulation, that is a fine thing. The thing that`s really dramatic though, is that the intelligence behind the software for things like drug discovery or optimizing manufacturing processes, you know it see -- I would say the AI is where I`m excited about software getting a lot better, will have some immersive interface. But compared to the Web 31 things, I think AI is far, far more important and they`re great advances taking place there.

MELBER: Final question. And your sort of advising us to think of Metaverse as a little more like a cyber place -- a video game, but the AI backbone and the AI applications in the real world could be far more profound.

GATES: Absolutely.

MELBER: Yes. Mr. Bill Gates, thank you for making time.

GATES: Thank you, great to talk to you.

MELBER: Appreciate it. And to see this entire interview with Bill Gates, you can go online right now. You can go to my Twitter at @AriMelber. You can go to YouTube and put in Gates-Melber or We should note as well. The Gates Foundation added that his lobbying to Congress was done on behalf of himself and his personal capacity with his views on those policies, not formally on behalf of the Foundation.