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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 2/11/2021

Guest: John Flannery, Melissa Murray, Libby Casey, Emily Bazelon, Jeff Merkley


Senator Jeff Merkley discusses the impeachment trial of President

Trump. Democrats conclude their arguments in the impeachment trial of

President Trump.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Ari Melber continues our coverage now on THE


Hi, Ari.


And thank you so much for another day of long anchoring. We will see you


N. WALLACE: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: I want to wish everyone a good evening. I am Ari Melber.

Our special coverage of this trial continues right now.

House impeachment managers have just formally rested their case. Now, if

yesterday was about the tape, the damning and clearly disturbing evidence

of the MAGA insurrection, today, well, the managers made it about the

ringleader, showing evidence that Donald Trump was in on the attack before,

during, and after.

Let me repeat that, because, if you don`t remember anything else from

today, remember that. They showed the evidence to make the argument that

then President Trump was in on this the whole time. It`s the kind of

evidence that can, as a constitutional matter, cut against any defense that

maybe things just got out of hand, or Donald Trump would oppose and regret

what his fans did.

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin capping a dramatic day with an appeal

for facts and common sense.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I have talked a lot about common sense in this

trial, because I think, I believe that`s all you need to arrive at the

right answer here.

Let`s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers` theories here.

Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.


MELBER: Exercise your common sense.

At a time of incredible division, where politics and ideology, which a

system under rule of law ought to be able to debate, and debate peacefully,

when those conversations and debates have turned into lies -- we`re all

living through it. It was part of the recent political era.

But it`s clearly part of the action of the insurrection that you can see

with your own two eyes that the senators ran from, that the congressmen ran

from, that the vice president ran from. We have been covering this.

And just as an observer and a reporter, I thought it was so striking that

this lead manager, Raskin, ended by reminding everyone it`s not about some

arcane legal theory, which we may hear about tomorrow. And we will cover

it, of course.

But it`s not about whether people can find words and exceptions and clauses

in the Constitution to debate whether or not this is the exact right

calendar point to hold a trial.

It`s about the people who were killed. It`s about the other people who were

almost killed. It`s about the vice president running. It`s about the new

video we saw for the first time this week of now Democratic Leader Schumer

running one way with his security detail guns drawn and then doubling back

and running the other way, because, even though they had their guns out,

they thought better to retreat.

It`s about all of that, what happened and who, if anyone, is responsible

for it.

As for Donald Trump`s defense team, they will begin their case tomorrow,

and they say they only need one day to make it.

Our special coverage continues now.

We are joined by our panel of experts chosen for this big news night, Emily

Bazelon from "The New York Times Magazine," NYU Law Professor Melissa

Murray, and former federal prosecutor John Flannery.

Professor Murray, I begin with you on that basic close from Raskin that I

don`t think you need to be a lawyer to hear. I don`t think you need to have

followed every minute-by-minute piece. What did you think of the way he

chose to close and what he was saying to both those Senate jurors and to

the audience beyond?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: I think he closed with a strong as

finish as he started.

He wove a complete story that began with this president over the course of

many months stoking a narrative that the election was about to be stolen

from him, the election was stolen from him, and then, on January 6, that he

needed these patriots to step in and to claim the election for him, and

that it related in this conflagration at the Capitol.

And so he made that very clear. And then he made a very moving appeal to

the senators themselves. Like, if this is allowed to go unaccounted for,

what will we see in the future? What is going happen in the future? How can

we ensure that our democracy is in fact secure going forward?

MELBER: Professor, you mentioned that other part of it, which we also

pulled because it was striking.

Emily, for your reaction, listen to Raskin on drawing the line.


RASKIN: If we don`t draw the line here, what`s next? What makes you think

the nightmare with Donald Trump and his lawmaking and violent mobs is over?

If we let him get away with it and then it comes to your state capitol or

it comes back here again, what are we going to say?


MELBER: Emily?


important here is Congress, or at least the House managers asserting

Congress` rule as a co-equal branch, right?

This was an incursion by a mob that the House managers think was led and

incited by the president, and they are sticking up for their institution.

And I think the second part of this is to remind people that so often

during President Trump`s term, people defended him by saying he was going

to change, don`t worry, it`s all going to be OK. And that didn`t happen.

And so I think Jamie Raskin is saying, you know what? If you let this go

unaddressed, you are welcoming it back?

You are inviting a repeat play.

MELBER: John Flannery, as a skilled prosecutor yourself, what did you think

of the way, today, the managers said, you know what happened? We now have

all seen that. Look at how he reacted, that if you even wanted to give

Donald Trump the best-case benign interpretation, they then used the

evidence to show how he reacted during and in those critical hours after.

What was, in your view, the constitutional import of that?


constitutional import was, they used the term that he didn`t show remorse,

but I would have put it the other way.

The other way is his intent. He wasn`t going to show remorse because what

was happening was exactly what he wanted to have happen, and that he was

resisting in every way this charge that he should lay back.

He wasn`t going to do that. And that`s why he had Rudy Giuliani call to

say, whatever you do, delay the certification of Biden as the president-

elect. So, I thought the counterpoint to that is, we hear a lot of

expressions about the Republicans acting in good faith as jurors.

But they intend a disinformation defense to conceal the fact that they have

no good faith in the terms we mean. They have adapted and embraced this

Trumpian approach to our republic, and they are not retreating from it. And

we can see that. Hawley and Cruz and others and then the House members,

they`re there.

And they are -- unless they`re -- you put their hand in the fire, they`re

going to resist it. And so where do we go with that? And I think where we

go with that is, we have an argument in the midterms. But we also have to

brace ourselves against these kind of movements with and without Trump...


FLANNERY: ... offending us going forward in our national dialogue.

MELBER: Well, to pinpoint that, and the way John puts it, Emily, the

president had a very specific goal. It wasn`t that it could have been

January 5 or 10 or 21.

The fact that he was sloppy and at times ignorant about how this would all

ultimately work, whether the presiding officer can overturn an election or

not -- it`s actually not an easy thing to do. If it were, obviously, it

might have come up earlier in the history, right, if it were just one

person in the incumbent party could do that.

But the fact he was sloppy with it doesn`t change the culpability,

according to the managers.

And so I want to play a little bit more of Congressman Neguse on this

point. Take a listen.


REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): The president had incited the crowd. He had to call

it off because he was the only one who could.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): Mr. President, you have got to stop this. You

are the only person who can call this off.

FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ): The president caused this protest to

occur. He`s the only one who can make it stop.

REP. JOHN KATKO (R-NY): The president`s role in the insurrection is



MELBER: Emily, how did you view that substantively? Because this point, at

times, has gotten lost, I think, in the public discussion, that we actually

know a great deal about what was going on in those few hours. It`s pretty


And we know now the president personally and his top lawyer, who had

requested trial by combat, looked at this as a positive, that they could

through physical violence and overtaking the Congress delay that night that

which otherwise would legally occur, that this was -- whether or not you

can say -- and I want to be as fair as possible -- that they wanted people

to die, right?

Evidentiarily, you need to be really careful with that. But the new

evidence, even through these last few weeks, is, they wanted this to be

delayed past that night, because they thought it would help them steal the


BAZELON: I think what`s really important about the clips you just showed is

that they are in that period of time after the violence is unfolding in

which President Trump had a choice.

He was the person who could have called it off, as Representative Gallagher

was begging him to do. That, what the House managers would, I think, call

dereliction of duty is really different from calling the people to the

Capitol on January 6, right?

When he is making those calls, you can imagine he thought there was a

protest that was going to happen and that people thought they were coming

to protest. Once the protest turns into a violent mob, that rationale, that

imagining of what`s happening is gone.

And that is the moment when the fact that he didn`t act becomes, I think,

much more a problem for him in terms of his culpability for incitement, a

definition of incitement that Congress can come up with, because Congress

gets to decide what a high crime and misdemeanor is.


FLANNERY: Well, the definition here, which is striking to me, it`s not

about a dereliction of duty.

The entire history of Trump is a 2016 election which was interfered with by

him. And then we have -- the next thing that we have is him deciding that

his worst opponent for the presidential election is Biden, and he

interferes in Ukraine.

Then he must have at some point decided that he couldn`t get the vote,

because he was forecasting it all along they`re going to steal this from

me, they`re going to steal this from me. And then, when he loses it, he

goes into this full mode.

This man`s intent is so clear. And their defense is going to be that he was

innocent in intent. And the prior facts that rebut that are in the normal

court of law what you can use to show that that`s nonsense, that his intent

is, oh, I was surprised, that I didn`t know.

I mean, he had the Three Stooges, in my opinion, Don, Don Jr., and Rudy, on

the day, all reinforcing each other to go charge the Hill. The three people

they pardoned, the same thing. We had Stone and we had Flynn. And these

guys were cementing this entire January 6 rally.

And they sent them buses out there and everything. So, if anything, going

thin, like this was a one-buy drug case, is one way a prosecutor could

approach it. But there is so much more stuff out there. And I think they

did -- and made a sufficient case that this is not a dereliction of duty.

This is a clear intent, a clear intent to overthrow our government, and

that that`s acceptable in America.

And that they were going to take out the line of succession is certainly a

fair implication. And, in a regular crime, if you commit a murder in the

course of the crime, you`re responsible for felony murder. And these people

were all agreeing and talking to each other in such a fashion that the only

way you can read this is, it was an effort to overthrow our government, so

he could become our first, whatever, autocrat, dictator, king, monarch,

whatever he thought he was.

MELBER: I mean, this is why we have Flannery here. He lays it out.

I mean, I`m going to ask Professor Murray to be the judge to the two cases

we have just heard, Flannery being the most aggressive prosecutorial case.

Felony murder both happens -- and there is plenty of people in jail for

felony murder. On the other hand, it`s controversial because it`s an

aggressive approach.

But if we call that the most aggressive, Professor Murray -- and what Emily

was educating us on was the other legal analysis that, separate from the

narrow question of incitement, the constitutional dimension of any abuse of

power or betrayal of office is also impeachable and convictable.


MELBER: That is to say, people who don`t do the job -- he abandoned his

post. He did not defend the Capitol. He not defend his vice president.


MELBER: If you imagine a hypothetical where the vice president was pursued

by people who didn`t happen to be Trump fans, but were just other thuggish

criminals trying to hang him in the front yard of the Congress -- I mean,

all the words we use, Melissa, they sound stark -- then what happened?

They wanted to have a public hanging of the vice president.


MELBER: If any president doesn`t respond to that, that is an arguable

potential impeachment dereliction, as Emily was pointing out, which is

separate from I think what John argues, which is, there is also larger


So, Judge Murray, we give you the final word of this segment, as a judge.


MURRAY: Well, let me say this.

I think John`s point would be very fair in an actual court of law. This

isn`t an actual court of law. This isn`t an ordinary criminal proceeding.

It has elements of the political to it. And I think Emily`s points speak to


What the managers were doing in trying to raise this dereliction of duty

defense is basically a prebuttal for what is going to follow tomorrow,

where Trump`s defense is going to say that he was fiery, he was rhetorical,

but he did not intend anyone to go and lay siege to the Capitol.

And they`re offering a defense that says, yes, that may have been the case.

Maybe it wasn`t, as John suggests. But even if it was the case, he knew

that he was the only one who could call it off, and he waited and he waited

and he waited, and then he embraced them as good people whom he loved, and

he sent them on their way to be peaceful.

But he didn`t actually intervene in a way that was meaningful or that could

have stopped the violence that was unfolding in such dramatic fashion.

So, I`m going give this one to my law school classmate Emily Bazelon.

And, John, I appreciated the fervor.


MELBER: Well, here`s how it works.

FLANNERY: I thought it was very judicial.


MELBER: John, I don`t know if you know how this works. But in the same

sense that the Senate impeachment trial is only a quasi-like court, so is

this segment.


MELBER: And in this quasi-court, Judge Murray`s rulings are not appealable.

They`re final. And you lose, even though we love you, John.

FLANNERY: Well, I appreciate it. It`s nice to be loved.


MELBER: We`re done.

FLANNERY: Yes, we`re done. Good.

MELBER: But I will say, even though we can mix in a little bonhomie within

serious times, we do feel more educated, having listened to our kickoff

experts here.

Emily, Melissa and John, my thanks to each of you.

We do have our shortest break and special coverage now. It`s just 30


When we`re back, you will hear from U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. We`re back

in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Our special coverage continues.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, who is, of course, a juror

in this impeachment trial.

What do you think the managers got across today?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Well, I think they laid out that, when you think

about incitement, you can think about three basic things.

The first is, did a person lay out a cause? And, of course, that`s the --

Trump saying, that election has been stolen. Did they essentially stoke the

fuel, the anger of the mob over that? And, certainly, they laid out how

Trump had done that even before the election, when he said there`s only two

possibilities. Either I`m elected or the election is corrupt.

And then he did it after the election in all kinds of ways.

And then the third part of incitement is, did you take that anger and did

you focus it on a particular event? Did you incite an event? And, of

course, what we learned was that he rescheduled what was supposed to happen

after the installation of the new president to January 6, timed it so the

speeches could, again, gear people up, invited people to it who had been

violent in the past, and aimed them at the Capitol.

And then, when they proceeded to beat up police officers, he remained

silent. And, in fact, we now hear he was delighted, he was pleased and

wondered why other people weren`t as pleased as he was. So that was a very,

very powerful case.

MELBER: That`s the case.

And we have been tracking how it`s been playing. NBC`s sketch artist

actually was is in the gallery showing this sketch. A third of the

Republican seats were empty at least during the House manager presentation

as of 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

In the terms of reporting, can you fortify our understanding of today and

overall? How often have the seats been largely full or not?

MERKLEY: Well, I thought they were largely full.

I multiple times looked over to study my colleagues, and there would be

four or five seats empty, but not a third. At 1:00 p.m., I`m surprised

that`s only an hour in. Later, people get up, they stretch, stand at the

back, go to the bathroom, grab some water.

But I did feel, as the day wore on, and they were hearing arguments that

had largely been touched on before, that a number of them seemed to be

checking out somewhat more.

MELBER: And, Senator Merkley, those who follow this closely saw a little

bit of the small controversy or what you might call a nontroversy with your

colleague Mike Lee last night.

What was striking, putting parliamentary procedure aside, was something

very basic that had happened and been documented about Donald Trump

basically, as I was mentioning to guests earlier tonight, just during the

darn insurrection and during the violence and the threats, was still

calling in, trying to delay the thing.

He was exploiting it. And there were voice-mails that have been confirmed.

Senator Lee`s office confirmed the calls that went into him that were also

designed for another senator. And then we had that whole thing on the floor

last night.

I know you all try to be respectful of each other, and every senator does

have certain procedural rights, which I know, of course, from working in

the Senate.

But can you shed any light on that? Because it looked both petty and



So, the senators are not very aware of the rules that we agreed to. My

understanding is that he could have submitted an objection in writing and

had it brought up by the defense lawyers. But not knowing all that, he

stood up. He made an objection he was very forceful about: Hey, this was

said about me, and I want to say that it`s not true.

And the response was initially formalistic, but you couldn`t hear our

presiding officer, Patrick Leahy. We couldn`t hear because his microphone

wasn`t working right.

Any way, it was a bit of a kerfuffle. But it kind of draws attention to

that very point. What was that all about? That was about Trump trying to

reach Tommy Tuberville to, even at late moments, try to create more delay,

more interference from preventing the votes from being finally certified

and accepted.

And so we see, from the night of the election, Trump is working to

interrupt a valid election in every possible means.


MELBER: Right.

And specifically, Senator, Mike Lee`s office, as of January 7, was saying,

yes, this happened, the implication being it`s bad for Trump.

At that point in time, they were willing to share that fact. What has

changed between then and now that Mike Lee is afraid of what his own office


MERKLEY: I know. I`m -- we`re all wondering the same thing. We`re not sure

if there was some nuance that wasn`t accurate or he just is trying to get

his name officially struck from the record.

He wasn`t forthcoming with us about why he jumped into that. He didn`t want

to explain what was accurate and what wasn`t accurate. Certainly, it was

clarified by the floor managers they were reporting a magazine article or a

published article.

So, they were not inventing some fact. And, as you point out, his office

had confirmed it.

But,to our sense, it was an effort either driven by his desire not to have

his name in the record in that fashion, or simply to create a ruckus in the

middle of this powerful -- or, at the end of the day, but before the next

session -- of this powerful presentation.

You would think every Republican right now is going, we know that if it

wasn`t our base being so dedicated to Trump because they live inside the

Trump media bubble, we would absolutely be voting to convict, because this

is overwhelming insurrection. We haven`t seen the Capitol stormed in 200


The president clearly was involved in every aspect of its planning and

conduct. He wasn`t apologetic. He knew that violence was very likely, given

the people he had invited to come, and because of the violent response

because of his other actions, such as in Michigan.

And if he didn`t know those things and was just being naive or forgetful,

the moment that the police officers were attacked, he had a responsibility,

under his oath of office, to intervene. And he didn`t intervene, and he was

happy about it.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

MERKLEY: So, they are struggling with the fact they know in their heart

they should be voting to convict.

MELBER: Senator Merkley, appreciate you joining us after a long day there

in this trial. Thank you very much.

MERKLEY: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up here on our program, how some are seeing or avoiding this


But, first, Neal Katyal and Michelle Goldberg on the specific case against

Trump -- when we come back.


MELBER: Now to our special report on this trial.

Did Donald Trump incite a riot of his supporters to help his failed plot to

steal the election? That`s the question. House impeachment managers say


And after two days of forceful and sometimes emotional arguments, they did

today what prosecutors do. They rested their case. They presented evidence

that they insist is damning to Donald Trump, like how, even after the

violent riot occurred, he was not remorseful, because they say what

happened was what he wanted to happen, what he intended to happen.

It`s a point several managers made.


REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): When you or I make a mistake, and something very bad

happens, we would show remorse. We would accept responsibility. President

Trump didn`t do any of that.

Why not? Because he intended what happened on January 6. And how do we know

that? He told us.

NEGUSE: Look at what President Trump did that day after the rally. It`s

important. He did virtually nothing. He reacted exactly the way someone

would react if they were delighted.


MELBER: And the managers implored these Senate jurors to act now to prevent

any of this from ever going down again.


REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D-CO): What unfathomable horrors await us if we do not

stand up now and say, no, this is not America? And we will not just express

condolences and denunciations. We won`t just close the book and try to move

on. We will act to make sure this never happens again.


MELBER: Today`s evidence stretched beyond the core of this case, that

Trump`s rally and the attack were impeachable.

It stretched into things we have been reporting tonight to wider issues

that also may speak to those attackers` intent and their inspiration.

Indeed, they themselves confessed they were on this crime skree -- I should

say, crime spree, because they were responding to Donald Trump.


DEGETTE: As one man explained on a livestream he taped from inside the

Capitol -- quote -- "Our president wants us here. We wait and take orders

from our president."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he not realize President Trump called us to siege

the place?

RIOTER: Let`s call Trump, yes!

Dude. Dude, let`s tell Trump what`s up.

RIOTER: Trump would be very upset right now.

RIOTER: Yes, he would be like, no, just say we love him.

We love you, bro.

No, he will be happy. What do you mean? We`re fighting for Trump.


MELBER: Now, in a contrast with a traditional trial, these managers also

reached out into what people saw, what the evidence showed, and emphasized,

because there is politics infused here, that those people happen to include

some Republicans, who did call out Trump`s obvious role in the political

violence, how, in the clarity of January 7 and those first fateful and

scary days after this siege, this attack, this insurrection, there were

calls for accountability.

It`s only been a few weeks, but Democrats seem to be referencing how other

Republicans have already backed off criticizing Trump for the insurrection,

apparently in response to where they think their base is, a tendency that

was on display in the Senate with Mike Lee, as we were just discussing with

a guest, but the archive still stands.


GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): People are to be held accountable. And, yes, that

includes the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His remarks during and after the attacks on the Capitol

were disgraceful.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): President Trump`s continued refusal to accept the

election results, without producing credible evidence of a rigged election,

that started to fire that`s threatened to burn down our democracy.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): It`s clear to me that President Trump has

abandoned his sacred oath.

GOV. PHIL SCOTT (R-VT): The fact that these flames of hate of insurrection

were lit by the president of the United States will be remembered as one of

the darkest chapters in our nation`s history.


MELBER: Or will it? That`s what some Republicans said then. Some of those

voices have gotten quieter.

History is being written now and in these coming days in the Senate and in

these coming months and years in America.

Now, whether people can clearly denounce violence and insurrectionists and

attempts to overthrow the government and the Capitol and the democracy for

what was designed as a Trump dictatorship, all of these lines will be


The managers citing evidence to show that Donald Trump is on the wrong side

of history. That`s what they`re arguing, that he declared January 6 --

never forget this -- a day to remember. He declared it like some sort of

open public terrorist sympathizer on the losing side of what was emerging

as a sloppy, failed coup.

The managers also imploring senators in the wild world to get this history


Trump`s celebration of those special rioters that he loved on that day to

remember, that`s some of the most incriminating evidence that lead

impeachment manager Raskin invoked, arguing it will be the Senate`s own

fault if they cannot stop Donald Trump now, when, under the law, right now,

they have the chance.


RASKIN: President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So, if he

gets back into office and it happens again, we will have no one to blame

but ourselves.


MELBER: We`re joined now by "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg

and Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general.

Michelle, your thoughts on the right side of history at this moment?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that their argument was

pitched to these Republican senators who are in a strange position, because

they are at once victims of this failed coup, right?

They were kind of cowering from the mob like everyone else. They`re also

accomplices to this failed coup, because they have enabled Trump and didn`t

remove him when they had the chance the last time he was impeached. And

they`re jurors.

So, it`s a very peculiar situation. And you -- a lot of this argument was

sort of saying to Republicans, Trump targeted Republicans, too, over and

over again. They brought up this mob chanting, "Destroy the GOP." They

really focused on the victimization of Mike Pence, "Hang Mike Pence."

They kept saying to the Republicans, Trump is different than you.

And so if Republicans wanted to get on the right side of history, if they

wanted to make a break from the last four years, Democrats were really

giving them a gift. They were saying, you can reap all the benefits of four

years of Trump, collect your tax cuts, enjoy your judges, and then, once

it`s all over, wash your hands of it.

But Republicans can`t accept this gift, because their base won`t let them,

because so much of their base is still on the side of the insurrectionists.


NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I agree with all that.

Like, I certainly don`t want the hear another word about blue lives matter

or law and order from this party. If they can`t stand up against this, I`m

not sure what they can stand up for.

The other thing I`d say, I thought that was a devastating point made by Ted

Lieu today. A lot of people say, oh, you`re trying to impeach Donald Trump

because you`re worried he`s going to win again. And Lieu`s point is, no,

we`re not worried about that. Trump can`t win. He can`t win an election to

be dogcatcher again. He is a loser through and through.

The worry is, he might lose again and do this again when he loses. And so,

when we think about it from the eyes of history, we think about it from

just a pragmatic standpoint, like, the conviction is really important, just

as it was last year, because, last year, Ari, you and I had this


We said, if he is not convicted, we`re going to be back in some sort of

situation like this, and, lo and behold, we are.

MELBER: You mentioned that real breakout and concise point from Ted Lieu.

Let`s take a look.


LIEU: I`m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I`m

afraid he`s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.


MELBER: And, Neal, that`s the connective tissue, in that Donald Trump was

impeached twice for the same plot, which was to stop Joe Biden from beating

him and taking his job.

And because we still have a democracy under the rule of law, even with all

this, despite the enormous powers of the presidency and nominal control of

the military, unless he did something totally beyond, he failed.

A lot of wreckage, but he failed both times to involve another country in

going after the Bidens in a way that might ding him enough, and he failed

here. And that`s to say nothing of the fact that the Mueller report and

other investigations showed that, in the initial election, although

Mueller, in fairness, didn`t find a criminal conspiracy, he openly welcomed

and intended to profit off and win off foreign help as well in a democracy,


KATYAL: Yes, exactly.

It is striking to me that the system held. It`s great. It shows really our

institutions at their strength. But, at the same time, when you watched the

debate today and watch these Republicans put their feet up on the chair and

not -- whatever, and not listen and the like, you have got to wonder, where

is the rule of law in all of this?

Ari, you and I are trained as lawyers. The first thing you learn on the

first day of law school is, switch the identity of the parties, would you

think the same way? And so I`d ask the Democrats to say, if this were a

Democratic president acting this way, would you vote to convict?

And I`d ask the Republicans the same thing. And there was a congressman

back in 2008 who said -- quote -- "The business of high crimes and

misdemeanors goes to the question of whether the person serving as

president puts their own interests, their personal interests, ahead of

public service."

That`s what the standard is. It`s not, did you commit a crime or not? That

congressman`s name was Mike Pence.

MELBER: Michelle?

GOLDBERG: You know, I think that there is something so tragic about what

the House impeachment managers were doing, because they were giving this

impassioned, good-faith case, sort of impeccably argued, with the facts all

on their side, to a jury, half of which really doesn`t care, half of which

kind of holds the entire process in contempt.

And it`s not just about Donald Trump coming back, because, although the

House impeachment managers, for their own rhetorical reasons, had to try to

separate Donald Trump from the Republican Party, it`s the entire Republican

Party that has become hostile to democracy and really convinced of its

right to rule.

And so we don`t just have to worry about more violence and more

insurrection if Trump makes another run at the presidency in four years.

It`s almost any Republican I think that`s being normalized that kind of

Republican election losses are somehow illegitimate.

MELBER: Right. And that`s the toxic brew between part of this that is

racist and that imagines a kind of apartheid style anti-democratic rule,

some of which is -- might be technically lawful and some of which isn`t,

and then the blatant autocratic plans, where you have Hawley and Cruz are

clearly lining up to what they perceive as, I`m not going to call it the

right of Trump.

I would just call it at or beneath Trumpism as an attack on elections

themselves. The irony and hypocrisy that Neal mentions with Pence is, of

course, in spades with Cruz, who actually did win a lawful Iowa caucus

against Trump in `16, and saw that Trump wouldn`t concede or acknowledge

that, and then went through a total defenestration, and now carries Trump`s

water all the way through the administration.

It is, Michelle, pathetic.

I got to fit in a break, so I`m going to pause it there.

Michelle and Neal, thanks to both of you, as always, for your expertise.

Up ahead: Donald Trump`s defense team under fire from some of its largest

traditional supporters, even Hannity. We will get into that. We haven`t had

time to yet, but it`s pretty interesting how there`s some fallout.

Also, impeachment managers like Stacey Plaskett, well, they went to some

big insights to make their case, something very special we`re going show

you tonight before THE BEAT is out.


MELBER: This impeachment trial has been dominating TV coverage, from news

to entertainment, especially a contrast between the effective prosecution

from House managers and increasingly negative feedback for the Trump

defense team.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": I thought it was a very powerful


N. WALLACE: A relentless crush of firsthand evidence.

ROSS GARBER, ATTORNEY: What we just saw was a master class in advocacy.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This was very emotional, and it

was incredibly powerful.


with you. We thought that the House managers` presentation was well-done.

I worked in this building 40 years ago. I got lost then, and I still do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the worst opening statement I have ever heard.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: A little meandering, a little free-associative.


HANNITY: Let`s just say -- go ahead.

INGRAHAM: It was terrible.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Day two of Trump`s impeachment

trial, and it went a lot better for Trump than day one, mostly because his

lawyers didn`t have to speak today.



MELBER: That`s some of how it`s playing.

We`re joined by "Washington Post" political reporter Libby Casey.

Good to see you again.

LIBBY CASEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good to see you as well.

MELBER: What do you think about that aspect of it? We have spent most of

our day on MSNBC and most of THE BEAT tonight on the trial arguments, the

evidence, but how is this playing more widely and how at all, if at all,

does that matter?

CASEY: The impeachment managers are making their arguments to two

audiences, Ari, the American public, but also the jurors, the senators.

And the fundamental challenge here is that a lot of these senators are not

impartial jurors. If you paid close attention, just after the proceedings

wrapped today, a handful of Republican senators -- and these are important

names, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee -- headed into the room where

Trump`s lawyers are preparing.

And so there is coordination there. Now, let`s remember that last year,

when Trump was on trial before the Senate, Mitch McConnell was very open

about the fact that he was coordinating with the White House.

Very few of these Republicans are coming at this with an open mind. We did

hear from one tonight. Senator Bill Cassidy stopped and talked to reporters

after the proceedings. And he said he has a couple of questions he does

want to hear answers to from these lawyers tomorrow.

Now, let`s see if they get the job done. Here is what he wants to know,

Ari. He wants to know, what was President Trump doing and thinking in those

hours after the attack? Why wasn`t he coming out and condemning brutal

attacks on police officers, and was instead, as Bill Cassidy says, still

trying to get senators like Tommy Tuberville to overturn the election



CASEY: The other thing he wants to hear about is, why has President Trump

continued to deny the results of the election, something that Cassidy said

is still a real problem back in his home state.

MELBER: And you mentioned what`s going on back in people`s home states.

Do you read at all about whether the combined force of the presentation,

including some of the evidence, and the problems that Trump lawyers have

had thus far -- we will see if they improve tomorrow -- and that sort of

wider sentiment that we just showed, where it`s sort of become a premise or

a bit of a joke line, that this has been a mismatch?

CASEY: The impeachment managers have tried to show that legislators are

people too, right?

We saw some very powerful moments, as they were describing their own very

scary experiences. They also showed images of Speaker Pelosi`s staffers

having to hide for their -- run for their lives, and Mitt Romney having to

do the same thing. And they have also tried to put a real face and personal

portrait on the police officers whose lives were endangered or even lost.

So they`re trying to show the American public that this has had a true

impact. And so there is that emotional mismatch.

The question is, just what arguments will this defense team hit at

tomorrow? If they want to focus on the constitutionality, as I have heard

you talk about, Ari, that`s already been settled. That got settled earlier

this week. And so that may be sort of a red herring tomorrow that we hear



Libby Casey, as always, good to have your reporting and perspective. Thank


We`re fitting in a break, but, up ahead: Impeachment manager Stacey

Plaskett has been emerging as one of the stars of the party and the case,

and now she is following the tradition of Hakeem Jeffries to do something

pretty special.

We`re going show this here for the first time with the tape. That`s next.


MELBER: Democratic House managers made a strong, crisp and passionate case

in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, fortified by stark

evidence and a far more direct set of facts than the last impeachment

trial, when managers had to wade through European foreign policy and back

just to make the case.

It got so weedsy that Donald Trump`s defenders were able to question why we

were even here back then, a line that drew an instantly famous rebuttal

from Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We are here, sir, because President Trump

corruptly abused his power, and then he tried to cover it up.

That is why we are here, Mr. Sekulow. And if you don`t know, now you know.


MELBER: Jeffries was paraphrasing an icon from his Brooklyn district, the

late rapper Notorious B.I.G.

And while this second impeachment was different in so many ways, it turns

out another manager carried out and carried on this tradition, Delegate

Stacey Plaskett recounting the evidence and facts, showing the violence by

Trump supporters was planned and organized, despite recent efforts to

obscure that truth.

To emphasize the point, she invoked a very political group, Run the Jewels,

which has some lines about, yes, there is a they. Any time a man say there

is not, then you know that he lost the plot, and truth`s truth, when denied

or not.

Here she was.


DEL. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): The truth is usually seen and rarely heard.

Truth is truth, whether denied or not.

And the truth is, President Trump had spent months calling his supporters

to a march on a specific day, at a specific time, in specific places, to

stop the certification.


MELBER: Facts.

Trump`s on trial for lying about the election, trying to steal the

election, and exploiting those lies to incite an insurrection to steal that


Plaskett is using her power to urge the Senate and the nation to face those

truths and hear them. And in something of this trial remix, she actually,

we should note, combines two different artists.

Take a listen again.


PLASKETT: The truth is usually seen and rarely heard. Truth is truth,

whether denied or not.


MELBER: The other line`s actually from Wu-Tang rapper GZA.

And sadly, several lines from that same song may apply here, because he

also says -- quote -- "The truth is usually seen and rarely heard. What`s

more dangerous than hatred is the word, as the wrong words can destroy the


That song also has some wisdom about accountability that we might reflect

on tonight, at the congresswoman`s urging.

The song notes it is actually good for us to check our own faults -- quote

-- "To check fault in oneself is pure loveliness. You break the mirror that

remind you of your ugliness."

Well, when the mirror shows our national ugliness, maybe we`d sooner break

it than face it.

That may explain why so many Republican senators reportedly looked away

from some of the harrowing video evidence at this trial, rather than face


But this is what Trump`s most hard-core supporters did. This is their

America. This is part of MAGA America. This ugliness was a criminal

culmination of Trumpism. And like other criminal trials, it is hard to

relive, but necessary for any accountability, which is why Congresswoman

Plaskett`s presentation ranged from law to facts to some poetic oratory, so

that we might learn from the past wisdom and face this.


MELBER: Impeachment managers rested their case today.

And, as part of the closing arguments, we want to show you one more point

from impeachment manager and Congressman Neguse.


NEGUSE: Did he encourage the violence?

Remember what he said on January 6.


election was stolen from you, from me, and from the country.

To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will

stop the steal.

You have to get your people to fight, because you will never take back our

country with weakness.

We fight like hell. And if you don`t fight like hell, you`re not going to

have a country anymore.


MELBER: Incriminating evidence from the man on trial himself.

Tomorrow, our special coverage continues, including Trump`s lawyers`

rebuttals to what you just saw there.

You can always find me online @AriMelber on social media. Indeed, I have

been live-tweeting parts of this very trial.





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