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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 9/5/22



The January 6 Committee investigation is examined.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hello. I`m Ari Melber.

And this is a BEAT Special Report, "Inside Trump`s Election Plot," on the effort to steal a race and stage a coup with new evidence tonight, showing this is far broader than even prosecutors first thought.

We`re breaking down the path to a criminal conspiracy and why experts now think the most serious charges may be yet to come.

Why are we doing this now? The House insurrection hearing showed the nation that January 6 was more organized than many realized. The committee devoted to investigating that day has revealed truths about that day. And yet, the House probe has also underscored something new to many. Trump`s plot to overthrow the election was far broader than one day or prepping a one-day crime spree.

It was an illegal coup conspiracy starting before the election and lasting months, with criminal plots that had nothing to do with even January 6 and illegal orders by Trump that were resisted. So we`re going to show this to you tonight. How it began with things that are perfectly legal like filing lawsuits to challenge the results, but quickly morphed into something much more broader, a conspiracy that involves crimes.

The January 6 insurrection that we know about, but a whole set of other criminal plots. This is vital than any potential set of indictments and we`re going to get to all that tonight through the evidence to show you exactly what is new and what matters.

Now, if any of that sounds familiar, remember, that`s not the theory the Justice Department used when it first opened this probe. It wasn`t even the original view of Congress, hence the name January 6 Committee.

So was this just a riot that got out of control? Was it ultimately a Trump ploy that Mike Pence heroically stopped?

Those are common explanations we have heard over time. They are wrong. The evidence available now enables us to report tonight something we could not go to air with, say, in January 2021. This was a full coup conspiracy. American democracy may turn on whether enough people know that fact.

And this evidence that we`re going to go through tonight, it cuts through the heart of accountability for that coup conspiracy, for its leader and its premeditated plotters and enablers, most of whom never did take a physical step into storming the Capitol that day, which brings us back to the difference between an attack on one day, January 6, and a wider coup attempt.

More than 850 people have been indicted for the Capitol violence with more than 320 convictions and counting. Those people at the Capitol, the criminal muscle pursuing just one of these plots we`re going to go through tonight, let`s be clear.

Trump treated them like pawns. The rest of the players on the board, Donald Trump`s coup plotters, and operatives, and lawyers, none of them have been indicted for the evidence of a more intricate secret, high-level set of plots to illegally overthrow then president-elect Biden.

Now, if it was a one-day riot, then that might be the proper legal outcome. But if it was a coup conspiracy, and the most powerful people, the ones in White House meetings, guarded by federal agents with guns paid by your tax dollars, willing the power of prosecution force, even the military, if they ultimately get away with their attempted coup, well, what does that do?

The writer Doug Porter put it simply: "If Trump`s coup attempt goes unpunished, it will become a training exercise."

That`s where we are right now. The understanding of what happened and what we do about it determines whether this becomes an aberration or a training exercise.

Those are some of the stakes and the evidence that we`re going to show you tonight. So, we begin where this began, before Election Day.

Most candidates throw everything at winning. Trump had a different plan, to either win or steal the race as soon as it looked like he was losing, which he telegraphed in September, while his 2016 campaign chair, Steve Bannon, previewed a very similar declare victory plan.



QUESTION: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we`re going to have to see what happens.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: What Trump is going to do is declare victory. That doesn`t mean he`s the winner. He`s just going to say he`s the winner.

CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified? President Trump, you go first.

TRUMP: I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully.


MELBER: There it was. That was the plan. That`s evidence of illicit intent.

And then Trump lied and purported to claim victory late on election night. That itself is unprecedented in American history. It was way late into the night or the early morning, and we were fact checking his claims that he would be the one to decide the results of the election he was running in.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Trump is losing right now in both the popular vote and the electoral vote.

TRUMP: Frankly, we did win this election.

This is a major fraud on our nation. So we`ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.

MELBER: The election and the counting and the processing of ballots is not controlled legally by the president.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": The president would not have to do that if he thought he was going to win the election.


MELBER: Everyone saw that in real time. And as the House committee probe showed, here is what Trump`s aides were urging then behind the scenes.


BILL STEPIEN, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN MANAGER: My recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted.

JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I was saying that we should not go and declare victory.

IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The results were still being counted.


MELBER: Now one internal debate over messaging does not make for a crime. Candidates can legally lie or refuse to ever concede. But here`s what`s different, Donald Trump Jr. was secretly telling Trump`s top aide, Chief of Staff Meadows -- quote -- "We have multiple paths. We control them all."

Was that bluster or an admission? Well, our report is going to track exactly how that was the plot, several paths to overturn the results or steal the race. We count at least eight distinct plans, some were legal, we mark them in green. Some are legally debatable, marked in yellow. But most of them you will see tonight turned either unconstitutional or criminally illegal.

These are the big, bad red plots to steal the race, to stage an illegal coup. And we will show you they span weeks and sometimes months. And after all the documents and testimony, it can be hard to see the entire alleged criminal conspiracy without seeing these plots on this actual timeline. So let`s focus right now on those first two, lawsuits and installing Trump electors in Biden states.

Now initial preparation for electors is generally legal and lawsuits are legal. Trump began with these legal longshots, but they quickly failed. Over 50 of the campaign`s 57 lawsuits ending within a month. None ever made it to the Supreme Court for a hearing, let alone a victory. Now with Biden declared the winner, the cases seemed like kind of a sideshow platform for Rudy Giuliani`s press conferences.

At the time, few saw them as a real path to holding power.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It`s a fraud, an absolute fraud. I mean, you can`t just submit these ballots and not have them check. They are highly suspect ballots. That could have been Mickey Mouse. That could have been a dead person. I`d fire everybody that was involved in this election.


MELBER: But the voters fired Trump. And the judges rejected those cases. That`s a reality that matters because as that door closed, Trump`s staff increasingly turned more focused on stalling Trump electors in states that Biden had won.

This was a kind of Hail Mary alternative to court where they were losing. As early as November, around the election date, Cabinet veteran, Rick Perry secretly lobbied the White House on what he called an aggressive strategy to have Republican officials just send their own electors in for Trump and that fraud would somehow in their view override what the actual voters did in those states, which Biden won.

Well, that started early. And Trump lawyers rolled it up into a formal plan within 11 days of Biden`s win. The goal, to get electors pledged to Trump to meet on December 14 and lie and claim they represented voters in states that went for Biden, not Trump. But the electoral college formalized Biden`s win on that day, December 14, as headlines show.

That is why some of the people lying for Trump, pretending they were electors in states that Trump loss, that is why they may end up indicted or in prison.


They continued on with that electoral fraud after that date. So they can`t claim they were just alternate electors just in case a court ruling changed the result in their state or something. No. They kept on with their fraud to overturn what was the completed and final electoral college votes. That`s a key point.

Now those are individual, random people that are kind of just pretending to be electors. You can think of them, albeit with their fraud, as randos.

But another overlapping plot was pushed by Trump lawyer John Eastman, the former Clarence Thomas clerk, who Republican senators touted for his really interesting research where he pushed beyond those randos and he was pitching entire state legislators toss the voting results for Biden and just steal their entire state for Trump.

One memo pitching this is a state getting to -- quote -- "choose" who won and saying that Trump would win and they would name the electors. They also sometimes called it a -- quote -- "legislative override" of the whole election.

And we now know another Republican was texting Trump`s top aide also in November encouraging the state legislators to do that plot. And then Mark Meadows, that top chief of staff to Trump at the time, said -- quote -- "I love it."

Now, at the time, Giuliani`s long lining briefings to state legislators did seem to many like just another desperate misdirection or it was reduced as P.R. The memos weren`t public then. Now it looks different. Now it`s clearly a part of an organized, written coup conspiracy, getting local Republicans to go toss the votes.

And as the other paths narrowed by December 7, the White House itself was working on a coup through this elector fraud with e-mails about a -- quote -- "path" to stealing the election through these legislatures and Meadows, not only saying he liked it or loved it, no, now he says -- quote -- he was "working on that as of yesterday."

Now, Mr. Meadows thought that would stay secret. But he ends up marking this plot`s birth date, if crimes have birth dates, a judge later finding that elicit goal of that plot was -- quote -- "fully formed" by December 7, which is the date that the coup lawyer I mentioned, Eastman, was also circulating.

This is the workings of this coup conspiracy. Well, that would be wrong and according to many experts, completely illegal even if there never was an insurrection on the 6th. And we checked the records, and some of the unlawful details have leaked out at the time, but again, this is what`s so important tonight.

They may have seemed a bit more like delusion and P.R. at the time than what they look like now, which is an indictable criminal conspiracy.

Tonight, we can report, this was a very real attempt to launder and normalize in public what I`m about to show you, in public at the time what we now know were conspiring about in private. Elector fraud and states just stealing the vote.


STEPHEN MILLER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Today, an alternate state of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we`re going to send those results up to Congress.

BANNON: Something that Rudy and the team have worked on, the Trump`s slate of electors are showing up today in the state capitols.

MESHAWN MADDOCK, MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY CO-CHAIR: We fought to see the electors, the Trump campaign asked us to do that.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There has been an alternate state of electors voted upon that Congress will decide in January.

BORIS EPSHTEYN, FORMER TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN STRATEGIC ADVISER: Yes, I was a part of the process to make sure there were alternate electors.

GREG JACOB, FORMER COUNSEL TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Both of Mr. Eastman`s proposals would violate several provisions of the Electoral Count Act. Mr. Eastman acknowledged that that was the case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the undersigned, being the duly elected and qualified electors hereby certify the following for President Donald J. Trump of the state of Florida, number of votes, 11.


MELBER: Those last two pieces of evidence that you can hear and see, they are about the Trump lawyer, Eastman, knowing the plots were illegal, admitting that to others in private, and then those Trump officials committing what looks like elector fraud.

And that brings us to the smoking gun, showing how many of these people knew they were breaking the law in this coup conspiracy when our report continues in just 60 seconds.



MELBER: This is a special report on Trump`s coup plot and how it looks worse when you view all the evidence together with the plotters aware their plan was illegal, and by the time this all ended they were seeking pardons, which are for criminals and pleading the Fifth.


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.

JOHN EASTMAN, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I assert my Fifth Amendment right against being compelled to be a witness against myself. Fifth. Fifth.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Did Rudy Giuliani ever suggest that he was interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6?


Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon.


MELBER: Key point, many of those people wanted pardons, totally separate from the January 6 violence.

And that is important as we look at a different plot, Trump`s effort to get a coup planner who would go farther than Giuliani, his lawyer, Sidney Powell. She would go even farther. So, the plan was to take her off the campaign team and try to install her inside the government to get the military to seize voting machines, an illegal order that several lawyers warned could land them, and even Trump, in prison.

So, here Trump turned to the more standard approach to a coup that we see in so many parts of world history, try to abuse the military.

Now, military leaders have said and veterans have said, the generals would refuse this kind of order to get soldiers to seize voting machines, just like they`d refuse an order to say bomb the opposing party`s headquarters, a point that was also made in a White House meeting described as a nutty screaming mess.


ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: What they were proposing I thought was nuts.

DEREK LYONS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STAFF SECRETARY: Sidney Powell was fighting. Mike Flynn was fighting.

HERSCHMANN: Flynn screamed at me that I was a quitter.


MELBER: Trump did back down on that very bad, red, illegal plan.

And, by the way, quitting an illegal coup would be a good thing. But this was the military plot. Another conspiracy`s prong that hits a dead end. And this is key because facing that dead end late that same night of December 18, Trump turned to the other plot pushed by Eastman and Navarro, hosting what is a now infamous tweet that announces the January 6 rally.

Beginning -- quote -- "Peter Navarro releases 36-page report alleging election fraud more than sufficient to swing victory to Trump."

That was the lie Trump needed to build on and then he summons the people to D.C. for the first time -- quote -- "Big protest in D.C. on January 6. Will be wild."

Now, that`s the first time Trump ever told supporters there was a place to come join this fight. And none of this happened in isolation. The evidence of Trump`s criminal intent is worse when all the facts are shown about the plot.

So let`s take a look. Trump began the public operation to sabotage January 6 as a certified vote which was criminal, only after hitting this dead end in the failed plot to have the military help a coup.

Now, his lawyers warned him of the criminal issues here. The criminal intent and actions of that military plot, and he still moved continuously from that conspiracy to this one. Now, that`s damning evidence, if prosecutors are indicting a broader conspiracy. And the White House aide connecting both plots is Navarro, who`s aide helped sneak in the military plotters there, then he`s a part of Trump`s January 6 announcement.

It begins with a Navarro plan. And it`s notable Navarro has fought so hard to hide his own evidence and testimony while trying to spin his own role. Even he began denying any involvement in the plot about the military seizing voting machines which he actually used to push in public.


MELBER: And was it a bad idea or wrong to pursue the military to seize American voting machines?

PETER NAVARRO, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: That`s -- that I would like to get more to the bottom of. That`s not something that I would have put forward by any stretch of the imagination.

I think we need a special counsel that we put in place before inauguration day to get to the bottom of this. I think we need to seize a lot of those voting machines.



MELBER: Special counsel Powell, seize voting machines through the military, he was pushing that in public.

Now, as Trump moved from that voting machines idea, which did hit another brick wall, to this emphasis on January 6, you get to that other plot to get the Mike Pence plan going. And this intensified, lawyers arguing that Mike Pence could have used his ceremonial role not just to open the votes on the 6th but -- quote -- "to count them."

They argued Pence would be the ultimate arbiter, a point that Trump advocated in public and that the evidence suggests would be discussed when he then held a meeting with Republican lawmakers on December 21 for hours about what they would do.

Those plots are the context for Trump seeking DOJ interference with what I will say was an absurd, kind of last-ditch conspiracy where a more junior DOJ official, Mr. Clark, who`s had his home searched, was then demanding that, well, they just get the whole DOJ to tell Georgia legislators, come back into session and toss their own voters` decision backing Biden.

Now very few people think that would have worked, but the reason it failed was because the DOJ resisted.


STEVEN ENGEL, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL: Pat Cipollone said: "Yeah, this is a murder-suicide pact."


The president immediately turned to Mr. Engel and said: Steve, you wouldn`t resign, would you?"

And he said: "Absolutely I would, Mr. President. You could have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire Justice Department, and Clark would be left leading a graveyard."


MELBER: So DOJ interference, a bust, another plot running out of steam, which matters for how you approach the whole conspiracy.

Trump thought DOJ would somehow help strong-arm the states. But even without them, he pressed on with this brazen, authoritarian plan, where he actually talked to hundreds of state legislators on January 2, desperately proclaiming they would be the real power and they could cancel their own citizens` votes.

If that`s familiar, it relates to something else under investigation, but that might make more sense together than separate because he demanded Georgia`s top election official join him in a kind of voter fraud. This, remember all the arrows? This is on the same day as the call in state legislators.


TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.


MELBER: So that was trying to get states to overturn.

So, you have these seven plots we`ve mentioned in the report, and then you have the U.S. Congress. States rejected Trump`s demands. We do know that, even very red states. Trump was left then pushing what was operationally an incomplete conspiracy, but a conspiracy nonetheless, because as the states found, the Congress would be faced with the same sort of menu that wasn`t really public evidence or even a decent political pretext for just rejecting their own citizens` votes.

But the plan here was hoping that Congress or Pence would do what others wouldn`t, where other plots failed. And they would just come in and falsely lie, or claim Biden lost.

This is the coup or the so-called sweep that some plotters assert was completely distinct from any violence on January 6.


NAVARRO: The plan was simply this. We had over 100 congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill ready to implement the sweep.

GIULIANI: Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz were always stepping forward. We`re briefing them. We`re going to have a session today.

BANNON: You`ve got Ted Cruz, you`ve got Lindsey Graham, you`ve got Tom Cotton from Harvard Law School. You`ve got some heavies over in the Senate.

GIULIANI: I`m sorry, we`re missing Mark Meadows. I told him, can you go back and ask a couple of colleagues.

NAVARRO: The remedy was for Vice President Pence as the quarterback in the Green Bay sweep to remand those votes back to the six battleground states.

EPSHTEYN: The vice president has got a lot of power, and that`s very important to recognize.

BANNON: Are we to assume that this is going to be a climactic battle that`s going to take place this week about the very question of the constitutionality of the Electoral Count Act of 1877?

EASTMAN: I think a lot of that depends on the courage and the spine of the individuals involved.

BANNON: Vice President Mike Pence?


MELBER: Do you realize you are describing a coup?



MELBER: And that`s where these three plots actually go hand in hand.

Trump intended any of them to hopefully work in his mind, but, ideally, they would work together. Get the states or Congress or Pence to lie and declare that they are overthrowing the vote.


Now, under the rules, there actually is a way this could have gone much farther or even to a standoff with two dueling president elects.

This is not a movie. This is not fan fiction. It`s vital to understand for preventing it from happening in the future.

I will explain how and why after this break.



MELBER: Welcome back to our special report, "Inside Trump`s Election Plot."

And now we turn to something absolutely harrowing that is actually discussed less. You know, for all the information about January 6, it is rare to hear what the actual ending was supposed to look like, according to the people trying to steal the election.

Coup plotters like Navarro and Eastman planned more than chaos. We have the evidence on that. The goal was to claim to prevent a standard certification, and then get to a rare, but actually possible measure where a contested presidential race would be resolved by a congressional vote.

Now, if you`re thinking, well, Democrats won the House, so why would they want that, they actually plotted this out. And they knew something that is very relevant to the future of American democracy. When you get this very unlikely, but possible measure to resolve a contested election, that congressional vote can be measured by state, where Republicans actually have the edge.

So, had they succeeded, Republicans then would have had the chance to claim, at least make the argument, that Trump had won by a House vote, because even in a Democratically controlled House, they would, as of January 21, have the advantage when you count by state.

Political scientist Clarence Lusane wrote about this in the Washington Post, Republicans have more votes because the vote is done with one vote per state, not districts.

Now, whether all of that is immediately digestible on first constitutional explanation or not, is I think an open question. But my point to you is, and this sometimes is obscured, if you look at all the plots together, there was a mechanism where they would potentially win particularly if the Supreme Court allowed it.

They never got to that point, which goes to what did go down on January 6. All those failed plots, all that desperation leading to Donald Trump`s fixation on one of the last red arrows, getting Mike Pence to attempt a coup.


TRUMP: If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do.


MELBER: And Trump kept pushing Pence on this as late as January 4. And those other unlawful plots were reemerging as a kind of pretext, even though as you`ve seen, they didn`t all work.

Indeed, Senate Republicans were trying to get that fraudulent electrode material to Pence on that very day with Pence aide pushing back, don`t give him that, that`s the electoral fraud stuff.

This was, as you see on your screen, within roughly 20 minutes of Mike Pence arriving. And over 130 Republicans did vote to object to the certification, including eight Republican senators.

So, these different, disparate plots are not disparate. They all congeal.

And then you have Trump sending what he knew were armed people to the Capitol at a point where he knew he needed something more than all of those other seven thwarted plots he tried.


HUTCHINSON: I overheard the president say something to the effect of: "I don`t effing care that they have weapons. They`re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in."

TRUMP: We`re going to walk down. And I will be there with you. We`re going to walk down to the Capitol, because you`ll never take back our country with weakness.


MELBER: The Capitol was breached at 2:00 p.m.

The committee probe has shown this last plot was working. I repeat, it was literally working. The plot was to sabotage the certification by prevention or delay. It was delayed. In fact, law enforcement predicted it would take days more delay before Congress could even certify the vote.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We need you to get the building cleared, give us the OK, so we can go back in session and finish up the people`s business.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Some people here in the Capitol Police believe it would take us several days to secure the building. Do you agree with that analysis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not on the ground, but I do not agree with that analysis.


MELBER: Days, that`s how close it came.

Now, Congress did not certify this current president, Biden, on January 6 as provided in the Constitution. It was 3:40 a.m. the next day. But people did wake up with that finality.

What if it took longer? What if the nation woke up on January 7 with no certified winner? What if an operational attack did achieve the goal that Trump apparently had to make that last days?


And then President Trump at the time would be able to say there really was an open question, even according to the constitutional process, about who won because it hadn`t been certified. And what if the Supreme Court then did take one of the Trump cases that it had previously rejected?

These are real questions. Our report`s conclusion is next.



MELBER: Welcome back to the conclusion of our report on the Trump coup conspiracy.

We have gone through a lot of evidence in our special for you. And I just want to make sure we`re clear on what we`ve learned, what we found, because all of this starts here with lawsuits. That`s the right of any candidate to file even if they are frivolous.

And this electoral plot starts in green, because ultimately, people do have the ability to set up these electors, right? It became criminal later, and we`ll get into that.

But, as you watch this go over time, what you see here is everything that was brainstormed as possibly may be somehow legal gives way to the elicit intent, Congress overturning votes, states overturning votes, Pence overturning votes. Any one of those things has the making of a coup if it cancels an election. It almost sounds obvious.

But they are worse, taken together.

The military seizing voting machines, this key point, this is something that Rudy Giuliani said would land them all in prison. Rudy Giuliani, he`s already lost his law license. We`ll see what else happens to him.

But that is the context as we show tonight, that when that fails is the first time, the same night, that Donald Trump comes in and says, all right: I can`t abuse military power. I`m even being told by my most aggressive, lawless lawyers, the kinds that he apparently prefers, that that`s not going to work. So that`s when I bring muscle to January 6.

But we have had in this country in our minds and, apparently, at the Justice Department, as we reported tonight, a fixation on only looking here, on basically the 6th the lead up to the 6th or a few days out. And that`s understandable given what we live through. We`re human beings and the 6th was one of the worst attacks and the worst national security crises America has ever faced from a domestic threat, let alone an incumbent outgoing president.

The point tonight, which we`ve built on evidence, not anything but evidence, is that when you actually go all the way back, when you actually understand how this started and how many different plots were pursued, thwarted, warned about, and then desperately doubled down upon, that goes to the criminal intent.

Let me put it simply. Taken separately, some of these plots can be viewed like a gray area, clumsy plans that didn`t occur or the insurrection that exploded but also ended within one day.

I will tell you something. The law makes it hard to pin an insurrection on one speech, as it should. But taken together, you have the evidence of this wider criminal conspiracy with criminal intent running across weeks, if not more.

Remember, in court, prosecutors have to prove criminal intent in a moment, just that you meant to do it. This is weeks of that with lawyers warning these were crimes, especially after the legal doors closed in mid-December when the Electoral College voted. Everything after that when it comes to overturning votes and installing fraud and electors, that`s that illegal red zone. That`s where you see the evidence of several crimes.

And taken together, well, this evidence suggests the question is no longer whether there are any indictable election offenses here, but how prosecutors would explain a failure to indict and enforce the law, and how that does risk letting the close call of this documented and attempted multipronged coup conspiracy turned into a training exercise that American democracy may not survive.

We have some expert legal analysis to get into what the Justice Department and other prosecutors are doing when our special concludes after this short break.




REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): We will have at least one public hearing in September.

My guess is -- this isn`t a formal announcement -- that it`s going to be very tough to get the entire report done by the end of October. But we will have some key findings.


MELBER: The committee there gearing up.

That was new statements there by Zoe Lofgren.

And we`re joined now by John Flannery.

Happy Labor Day. Good to see you, sir.


MELBER: As I mentioned to viewers, we have been in live coverage today with a lot of new information since we started at 6:00 p.m.

We have also drawn on some of the past reporting we have done. We are here with you live now on Labor Day, having gone through what we have learned about what led up to that day from this evidence.

Your thoughts about some of what we just took in?

FLANNERY: Well, I think it`s a devastating indictment, in an informal sense, of what went wrong and how the desire to win what one lost overcame all lawful, constitutional, legal, and other normal barriers, so that they could replace themselves in an election that they lost.

And I think that what you show is, with that original intent, as they`re moving forward even through the legal cases, there`s a pattern of conduct there that tells us from the very beginning, we just say we won, even though we didn`t.

So you go into court and claim there`s been misconduct, and there`s not, claim there`s fraud, and there`s not, and you accumulate 50 cases. And then you use the fact that you lost to try to get electors. And then we move into your zone, where -- where it becomes, without question, a crime. And you walk it up the ladder from that.


So, could you take your charts and turn them into an indictment? Yes, you could. It would look something -- it could be a single conspiracy. That is to say that all these people were connected and all knew what was going to happen and all planned what was going to happen. They had various means to do it, and their objective was to overturn the election.

And they tried...


MELBER: So, John, we -- we have it up on the screen for your analysis.


MELBER: We endeavor to accurately show this over time. This is our original reporting, as you see.



MELBER: You`re saying, as an additional thought, that some of that factual evidence on the screen could be a conspiracy indictment.

Explain, as we look at the arrows.

FLANNERY: Sure. I`d be glad to do it. I enjoy doing this with you.

First of all, the lawsuits you have is green, because people can bring lawsuits. However, you can`t bring a lawsuit based on a false fact or on a frivolous cause of action. Now, if you did in one case, that would be one thing. But when you have so many cases, you have a pattern of conduct that rebuts an innocent intent.

Now, what happens next? The electors are persuaded by the lawsuits that are fraud that we need alternative electors, so that we can overturn the election, as if the lawsuits were real and genuine. And they were not. And we do know that the Justice Department is investigating the electors.

And so I don`t have your screen in front of me, but going on from that, there is, if you will...


MELBER: Well, let me -- we will put it back up for you, John.

And I`m only assisting you as we go through it. We will put it back up. Then you go to states, Congress, and Pence overturning the votes.


MELBER: Go ahead.

FLANNERY: Well, with the states and Congress and Pence, that`s the mother lode, because you`re at a point where, to take the theory that they can vote on what the electors did or didn`t do, first of all, one, that wasn`t the law.

Second of all, the facts that they`re relying on are themselves also fraudulent. So, they made the same pitch to the states -- see Giuliani and company doing that. They made the same pitch to Congress. And we have Meadows and Navarro and others dealing with that. We have Pence. We have Trump himself trying to persuade Pence to do the dirty deed.

And then, just before the final chapter, you have DOJ coming in to give it an extra push in Georgia and elsewhere to prosecute this crazy meshuggenah theory of the law to overturn an election illegally. It`s a cuckoo coup, I suppose.

And I think that -- I think it all holds up. And I think we have enough public evidence to know this. And these people always do it with several people present. So it`s not going to be hard to charge. And the shame is that some of these people haven`t been in the grand jury, but others have recently.

MELBER: Right.

And then, when you get to the end of the timeline, you have the information that has been hit the hardest. And it`s what played out in public.

Lower -- the lower red arrows people are looking at, from our reporting, is the military plot, which failed. He tried to get them, as we showed, involved. He did back off.

And I want you to speak to this order, John. So, when the military plot ends, that arrow goes right into sabotage Jan. 6, which included more than one way to do it, the violent way, which is illegal and people already going to jail for that we know more about.

Final question to you, as we take this in, John.


MELBER: Is it better or worse for the people involved in that attempt to sabotage that it grew out of the very same night that a separate unconstitutional, probably criminal plot was severely pushed and explored, but ultimately abandoned?

FLANNERY: Well, I hear you, but I don`t know that you can isolate it.

Conspiracies are innovative, and things that happen in one that people did not foresee because they participated in the agreement and never withdrew are responsible even as these things have an audible on the ground and change how they`re going to approach it.

So I think that the opportunities for anybody to say, oh, but I didn`t do - - I don`t know it`d be these 20 things, and then this last thing happened because of those 20 things, you know...


Well, could you -- and now I have got a minute. I always like to give you the heads-up.


MELBER: But could you liken it to someone who says, hey, they asked me to help rob the bank, and I said, no, I wouldn`t go in there and shoot anyone -- OK -- but I waited outside in the getaway car while other armed people robbed the bank?



MELBER: Simple question, but I ask simple questions, John.

Is that person in the clear?


MELBER: Or are they involved in a conspiracy?

FLANNERY: No, they`re in a conspiracy too.

And here`s the other problem. They`re in a conspiracy, is checking outside, not doing anything to stop it. And then, if somebody was in fact murdered inside, the felony murder rule would apply, and they`d be exposed to that greater crime that he sought to avoid by not going in the bank, because he didn`t want to kill anybody.

I -- this is worse, though, because these guys are so arrogant, they never retreat from the bad act. There`s no evidence at any time that they said, oh, my God...

MELBER: Right.

FLANNERY: ... I`m not going to do that.

They do it.

MELBER: Well, that`s why -- and that`s why -- a fitting point to end on. The damning evidence is, they did not retreat.


MELBER: They reassembled. They reorganized. But the criminal mind-set and intent did not abate.

I mean, that`s what the evidence shows.


MELBER: We`re just reporting on it. People will deal with the facts in this country.

We have an obligation to share them best we understand them, which is why, after looking at the evidence, we turn to you live on Labor Day.

Good to see you, sir, John Flannery.

FLANNERY: Good to see you. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Absolutely. Thank you.

We have covered more than one topic tonight. I have enjoyed spending some time with you and our guests.

I will be back live in the chair on THE BEAT tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We have some special stuff planned.

As for right now, happy Labor Day, and keep it locked on MSNBC.