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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 1/11/22

Guests: John Flannery


President Biden calls for voting rights. Rudy Giuliani faces new legal headaches. The heart of justice, confronting pandemic billionaires, and the fate of the Biden presidency are examined. The DOJ forms a new unit on domestic terrorism.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And, as the coup plotting goes public, tonight, we`re tracking a new legal headache for Rudy Giuliani,.

Also, a new special report on one of the most pressing issues facing America. It`s something we have all been working on here on THE BEAT to bring you. It`s one of our most detailed reports tonight. So that is coming up.

But we begin now right here with the president making news tonight by pushing a solution that he has long held back on, but which he says is now crucial for our democracy itself, Joe Biden, a defender of so many Senate traditions, saying the anti-majority obstruction against voting rights must end now.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today I`m making it clear: To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed...


BIDEN: ... to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.


BIDEN: When it comes to protecting majority rule in America, the majority should rule in the United States Senate.


MELBER: That might look like just another address.

But this White House says it was much more, the president putting this on moral terms as well, laying a wreath at Martin Luther King`s grave. You see that there, dramatic moment today from this president, and linking all of this to the ongoing crackdown on voting rights, including those new laws in 19 different states just in the last year.

Biden also visiting the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was minister, arguing that ending the current GOP filibuster against voting rights is not just about procedure or one more Washington skirmish, but, rather, it connects with today`s test of our democracy itself.


BIDEN: Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadows, justice over injustice?

I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend the right to vote, our democracy against all enemies, foreign and, yes, domestic.

Do you want to be the -- on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?


MELBER: That`s really something.

Let`s take this seriously. Those are three striking historical examples from the president. And while reasonable people may honestly disagree about where the Senate`s voting rights bill ranks in comparison to those very grave points in history, here`s what`s not in doubt, using the examples he gave us.

Both Lincoln and Davis made claims about what was justice under the law, as did both John Lewis and Bull Connor. Connor was an Alabama safety commissioner and a public official. And he shrouded his racist attacks on democracy in the language of law, as did George Wallace before him.

There are people pushing voter suppression and coup plots today who do that too. They talk up voter fraud and electoral certification as a cover for authoritarianism. There`s nothing new about these kinds of ploys. And this shouldn`t be partisan either.

Again, thinking about those examples we heard, Connor and Wallace were virulent racists. They also spent many years in the Democratic Party at the time, as Joe Biden knows when he cited them today. The point is how this goes beyond party or debatable invocations of law.

The president insisting that allowing a small group of politicians to veto the actual right to vote unfettered and the Senate`s ability to even consider majority votes among the representatives elected in this most recent election, that is no longer tenable, not now.

So, Biden is rallying the public tonight to try to get all the Senate Democrats on board to end one part of an obstruction tactic that has, he says, long outlived whatever purpose it was one supposed to have, and is, as a matter of historical fact, again being used to thwart civil rights in this nation, even when now a majority of voters have come around to supporting the party that says it wants to have this up-or-down vote on your civil and voting rights.

It`s an important story.


And we begin with a guest in the thick of it. I`m joined by Reverend Al Sharpton. He`s, of course, an MSNBC colleague as host of "POLITICS NATION." He speaks to us today on the road, really also in his role as a civil rights leader as president of the National Action Network.

And I understand, Rev, folks were just telling me you just spoke with both the president and the vice president moments ago. We have that photo there.

And I`m also joined by professor Melissa Murray with NYU Law School.

Welcome to both of you.

Rev, your thoughts on what matters today, given all of this? And if you have any reflections or anything to tell us from your meeting with both the president, the vice president, your discussions with them, let us know as well.

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Well, I think today was a very important day, particularly for those of us that are engaged in voting rights and civil rights, because we have been saying for months we wanted the president to speak up.

I was in Philadelphia when he made his speech on voting rights. And I said to him after, the one thing you didn`t mention was filibuster. You did a very good speech, but you didn`t mention filibuster.

Well, he did today. And he said, what we have been urging him to say. Martin Luther King III and National Action Network and I have been working on this. We have marched on it. And I was glad to hear him say it, even though I would wish he had said it earlier. He said it strongly today.

But I think the context of him sitting here in Martin Luther King`s hometown, visiting his grave and his church, and standing there with people, including the vice president and Senator Warnock, that would not even be in office if it had not been for the Voting Rights Act of `65 that Dr. King and John Lewis helped to bring through.

And I think that he put it in where it should be. The Voting Rights Act was one with a moral movement, saying the country must live up to what the country professes. The question now is, will the Democrats, namely, Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema and others, that have appeared reluctant, are they willing to go down in history saying they chose George Wallace`s side over Dr. King, Bull Connor`s over John Lewis, and they did it on Dr. Martin Luther King weekend?

I don`t know that they have the kind of moral strength to really say that they can turn around and -- on this weekend that we celebrate Dr. King and say that they`re on the other side. I would hope that they would, in many ways, hear the appeal of the president. It was very strong.

I said to the president, that you said what we have been urging you to say. You said it in the strongest language. And I said to the vice president that I think that you fulfill the mission.

The question is whether all the Democrats will stand up and say to a Democratic president and a Democratic vice president, we`re not only not on your side. We`re on the side of those that oppose Dr. King and John Lewis and others.

MELBER: Really striking. And thank you. And stay with us, Rev. I know that you`re traveling and doing your work while also making time for us.

Professor, the rev said several things. I will pick up on one of them, which is that he and other civil rights leaders and progressive leaders have been pushing Biden to get where he is today. This is not where he publicly was last year, let alone five years ago, let alone when he was a senator.

And so, just as Dr. King and others who make history in the very literal sense of not watching it or predicting it, but adding pressure, adding direct action movements, doing the things that may affect how lawmakers and others act is part of this process, I`m curious what you see here, and what you think of the president`s point, as a law professor, that this has been a tool of voter suppression.

MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it`s very clear that President Biden, who during his career as a senator was very much known as an institutionalist, was skeptical the prospect of filibuster reform for quite a long time.

But I imagine his experience as vice president in the Obama administration and watching executive branch nominees and judicial nominees go down waiting for votes helped to turn his mind. And, certainly, the increasing polarization in Washington makes clear that, with a supermajority rule like the filibuster, very little is going to get done with his domestic agenda if the filibuster remains in place.

Now, to be clear, his speech today was not advocating for wholesale removal of the filibuster. It was removing the filibuster for purposes of voting rights legislation. So even this is a more narrow kind of view than what many progressives would want.

But, again, I think the president is worried about the prospect of the -- quote, unquote -- "nuclear option," eliminating the filibuster in total and the prospect in later years that another party, maybe with different agenda items, would be willing to use a simple majority to advance its own ends, and its own ends might not be compatible with some of what we are thinking today.


But, again, it`s a major evolution his part. And he`s right. The filibuster has been used in ways that have obstructed civil rights throughout this history. A political scientist at the Brookings Institution has shown that between 1917 and 1994, of the legislation that was filibustered, roughly half of it was civil rights legislation.

So these were really important bills that didn`t even make it to the Senate floor for a vote.

MELBER: Yes, you both make such great points.

We have some of that, just briefly, to reinforce. The professor`s talking about just how often segregationists and others over the history used this. It`s the weapon of choice. We have also counted 10 different years where it`s been used to stop, for example, anti-lynching and discrimination bills, as well as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which overcame itself a 60-day filibuster led by Southern senators.

We have some of that historical record there. You see, when they finally did prevail, the late Martin Luther King there with President Johnson.

And, Rev, as I mentioned earlier, I will mention it again, because, as a journalist and, frankly, as a citizen, I see this as really something above the typical politics. A lot of the people who were abusing it back then, as well as some of the segregationists, were Democrats, Democratic politicians. Who cares?

Now we`re seeing more Republicans lined up. Do you think the president can make headway, as he tried to do today, in getting the rest of America to care about this not as one more -- quote, unquote -- "partisan issue," but really a question of whether there will be these rights for all?

SHARPTON: I think that it was a very serious attempt by him. And I think it certainly puts those senators on the spot.

You must remember that, in `65, Lyndon Johnson didn`t lead the voting rights movement. He was one that was influenced by it. He at first had told Dr. King he couldn`t get the voting rights bill. And it was because of the Selma March, Hosea Williams, and Ms. Boynton, Amelia Boynton, and John Lewis that turned the public around.

I think if the public heard what the president said, what they have been hearing many of us say with the marches and rallies, the public is saying, we cannot have something as fundamental as the right to vote be impeded from citizens being able to vote.

When the president talked about, how can you stop people from getting water and food on a line that they`re standing for hours to vote, how can you do that, and he quoted the Bible, that is where the argument needs to be made.

I, for one, want to see the filibuster go, period, but, clearly, it needs to be carved out in terms of voting. And for those that say, well, if they do it now, the Republicans will use it, is there really any doubt in anyone`s mind that Mitch McConnell is going to go around the filibuster if they get back in the majority?

He did it for judicial nominations for Donald Trump. He will do it again. There`s no honor in Mitch McConnell saying, you guys didn`t do it to me, I`m not going to do it to you. Of course he`s going to do it.

And if we are going to deal with it and do it at all, we need to do it around the fundamental protection of voting rights, when 19 states have already put in state laws that would impede and obstruct people`s ability to vote.

MELBER: All really important points, the rev speaking to us here, as mentioned, just after meeting with the president and vice president, speaking to them amidst this push.

I want to thank Melissa Murray, the professor, for joining us, kicking off our coverage, and Reverend Sharpton.

By the way read, Rev`s book "Righteous Troublemakers: Untold Stories of the Social Justice Movement in America," is out now.

Coming up, we have a lot more. As I mentioned, there`s some breaking news in the January 6 probe, and it`s not good for Rudy Giuliani.

And then our special report looking at pandemic billionaires and a fight for justice. That`s also tonight.

Stay with us.



MELBER: The House January 6 Committee getting closer to Trump, saying today they want to talk to his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): He is an integral part of whatever happens. And he`s on a list of a people we will be talking to.

QUESTION: So you do want to talk to him at some point?

THOMPSON: At some point.


QUESTION: Do you think it`s a matter of time before you do a subpoena to Mr. Mayor Giuliani?

THOMPSON: Well, you know, we`re working through the process.


MELBER: Giuliani was part of that war room team at the Willard Hotel.

The committee also issued three new subpoenas today to people around Donald Trump Jr., some of his so-called advisers, as well as a former Trump official who wrote part of Trump`s January 6 speech.

Now, as this probe gets closer to Trump`s inner circle, there`s also the criminal probe in Georgia looking at Trump`s effort to overturn the results specifically in that state, the DA they`re saying: "I think that, in the first half of 2022, decisions will be made."

Our colleague Rachel Maddow reporting exclusively last night that Trump`s attorneys met with Georgia prosecutors in December.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": We can report exclusively tonight that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County district attorney`s office in Georgia.


MELBER: I`m joined now by former federal prosecutor John Flannery, who once worked directly with Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District of New York and has been an adviser as counselor to several congressional probes.

Welcome back, sir.

Your thoughts on what this all means?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Rudy should be seeking my advice now perhaps.

The thing about Rudy is, if you remember election night, he is reportedly the one who decided, having had a few drinks, he went to Trump, got him alone, and he said four words: "Just say we won."

And that defines what became the plan that they circulated, what Eastman, the lawyer, said. It put them in the hotel putting everything together. So he`s the guy that can pull it all together, one of several, I assume. Bannon is another. Stone is another.


And the other day, you had on another assistant, Navarro. And Navarro was present in that conversation in Georgia, present in the sense they were all on the phone, in which Raffensperger, who is the secretary of state for Georgia, is threatened by Trump and said, you and your lawyer better watch out.

So we have some pretty devilish information there. And I`d say that the January 6 commission is at ramming speed, if you will. They`re really cleaning up.

And the question, when they come to Rudy and some of these others, you have to look over your shoulder and say, what is the Justice Department doing with Meadows? We don`t have -- we still don`t have a subpoena for the simple act of him not complying with the congressional committee. We have asked them to hold him in contempt, to prosecute for contempt, and they haven`t done it.

And I think the committee would be well served. And I think the facts justify it, because the Justice Department can`t get its act together, that they should consider inherent subpoena power when it comes to the next round, that, if they comply...


MELBER: On the point you`re making, do you think -- you think then that Attorney General Garland, who`s the final call here, is not being tough enough on Meadows and these type of calls?


FLANNERY: Tough enough. Not tough at all. You have heard me say before that Bobby Kennedy said, when the going is tough, the tough get going. Not this attorney general.

And we introduce a unit in which were concerned about terrorism in America, and we`re still chasing rioters. And we can`t even get a subpoena -- we can`t even get a prosecution for Meadows on a simple misdemeanor.

And you had Navarro on, who is in the middle of this. And I cannot imagine for the life of me as a prosecutor not wanting to pick up the phone and saying, do we have to subpoena you, or will you come by? And we want to talk to you in a grand jury.

It is impossible for me to believe that anything is happening at Justice, despite the language they give us. It`s all talk and no action. And the time is going past. If there wasn`t so much visible paper, recordings, admissions, you would say that they wasted all that time, and the case is cold, but it`s not cold.

And, in fact, between the books that these arrogant people write admitting what they did, it`s a very hot investigation. And the Justice Department is saying, what is America concerned about? Shouldn`t we be concerned about terrorism?

The key to controlling terrorism, domestic terrorism, is that they have to believe they will be prosecuted for their bad acts. And that`s not the case. You give misdemeanors to the rioters themselves. You don`t look at the principals who basically put together the plan, circulated it to the Republicans on the Hill, came up to the Hill, had this entire fraudulent fact and legal approach to how they would change the vote of the Electoral College.

Come on. It`s -- if you were to write this and send it to somebody up in your in your neck of the woods in New York and say, I want you to publish, ah, it`s implausible. It could never happen.

But it has. And that`s the failure. We have to stop talking and start doing. That`s what we have to do.

MELBER: Yes. No, I appreciate your clarity, your reaction on more than one legal issue here. And people know where you stand. And you have been inside the DOJ. So when you talk about what they`re not doing, it comes from that knowledge.

John Flannery, always good to see you, sir.

FLANNERY: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

MELBER: Thank you.

Now, our special report begins when we come back in 60 seconds. We`re dealing with a rare challenge that cuts to the heart of justice, confronting pandemic billionaires, and the fate of the Biden presidency. It may sound like I`m exaggerating, but I am not.

I will tell you why when we`re back in one minute.


MELBER: Now to our special report tonight about a challenge that impacts all of us that many of us thought we might be getting past, but is getting worse than ever.


I`m not talking about COVID. I am talking about how prices are rapidly going up in record-breaking inflation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inflation soared in November, rising to its highest level in nearly four decades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inflation is hitting Americans hard.

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: Costs skyrocketing for rent, food, gas, cars, clothing, and so much more.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": North American beef prices are soaring. We`re all going to have to switch to something without meat, like Taco Bell.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gas prices have soared more than $1, reaching levels we haven`t seen since 2014.

MATT EGAN, CNN: The latest numbers suggests that inflation may get worse before it gets better.


MELBER: America is getting absolutely rocked by inflation, some of the worst price spikes in over three decades, gas prices alone up over 50 percent in the past year.

So what is inflation? This issue can actually get lost in economic jargon. The bottom line, inflation is a rise in prices. When many prices start going up, the real value of your salary, your money drops. So you`re working just as hard, you`re getting the same salary, but suddenly it doesn`t go as far because what you could afford yesterday, you can`t afford today.

Inflation is now surging to a 40-year high. You can think of this is a literal version of Fat Joe`s iconic phrase, yesterday`s price is not today`s price, which caught on last year.


FAT JOE, RAPPER: Yesterday`s price is not today`s price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Fat Joe would say, yesterday`s price is not today`s price.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s remember that yesterday`s price is yesterday`s price is not today`s price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Yesterday`s price is not today`s price.

FAT JOE: Yesterday`s price is not today`s price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday`s price is not today`s price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday`s price...

FAT JOE: ... is not today`s price.



MELBER: Joe was explaining how one great concert can raise a performer`s fee. Price went up.

Yet, these days, most prices are up across the board. This may sound like a macroeconomic story or a household budgeting item. It actually cuts much deeper than that, which is what I want to talk to you about tonight.

This is about fairness, economic justice, and power. When you see both who bears the risk in our version of capitalism and how this one dynamic can shape who wins elections or stays in power, when it gets bad, inflation has helped determine who`s president and heads of state in many, many countries.

Right now, top Democrats are working overtime to try to prevent President Biden from following President Carter`s fate, a Democrat who was elected to clean up after a period of corruption and criminality, finding voters consumed by the rotting effects of inflation wiping out any gains and rocking their livelihood.

It may be easy to forget now, but Jimmy Carter found his first and only term saddled with inflation.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Inflation hurts us all in every part of the country, whether we have a job, or whether we are looking for a job. We must race just to keep up with a constant rise in prices.


MELBER: And that inflation wasn`t a partisan or Democratic problem. Republican Gerald Ford, who first replaced Richard Nixon after his resignation, had declared inflation public enemy number one. It was topping 12 percent.

And his own advisers ultimately concluded that Ford`s Republican policies to thwart it were basic stupidity and didn`t work. But voters were nonetheless angry. And many felt that new president, Jimmy Carter, was weak in his response. Americans getting crushed by rising gas and heat prices then found a president sporting a cardigan, offering thrifty tips like turn down your thermostat to save gas.


CARTER: All of us must learn to waste less energy. Simply by keeping our thermostats for instance, at 65 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night, we could save half the current shortage of natural gas.


MELBER: Carter lost reelection. The U.S. spent years battling inflation before getting it under control.

Now, the U.S. has a strong monetary policy and a pretty resilient economy. But in some other countries, hyperinflation does more than impact an election. It can topple entire systems of government. Hyperinflation was a precursor to Hitler`s rise to power in Germany. More recently, in 2018, a range of problems drove inflation so high in Venezuela that money became almost worthless, topping 800,000 percent.


Imagine living in a place where your rent is doubled five times in a row, and the whole thing is collapsing around you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The situation in Venezuela.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy tanked when oil prices fell.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The currency is so devalued, some shopkeepers weigh the money, rather than waste time counting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conditions there have grown increasingly dire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: the prices have been almost doubling every month for the past nine months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cost of food and medicine has risen so dramatically, many are forced to choose between them.


MELBER: That was all driven by inflation, as devastating to people as a depression or a series of hurricanes, basic goods ultimately costing millions and millions of bolivars.

So, the stakes can get high. Now, economists do not project anything like that happening here. Price surges do not mean the entire economy of the United States goes into ruins. And here we have some different factors, because it`s the ongoing pandemic that`s been disrupting everything from supply chains to shipping delays to shipping price spikes.

The pandemic also affects who goes to work in person or at all, plus wider labor shortages, from the first layoffs to 2020 to the more recent Great Resignation. Plus, you have shifting consumer demand as people then return to some type of economic life after those quarantines.

And so we see these prices surging for everything from cars to gas to eggs to beef; 40 percent of adults say price jumps are greatly impacting their finances, the share even higher for families who make under $50,000 a year.

And that`s where all of this goes back to what kind of capitalism we`re living with. The median individual income in America is $44,000 a year, or about $3,600 a month. So, it`s not a burden here that shared equally when it comes to inflation.

The top 20 percent or so may not think about it much at all. But there`s a very broad group of people who work hard, pay taxes, stick to their budgets, and are now finding, when prices go up a few hundred dollars, it`s the difference between a balanced budget and going in debt or going hungry.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know a lot of people are struggling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gas prices are bananas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s really up to me to do some serious planning to make sure that we can afford groceries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t have enough money to pay for gas every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to go with the fresh meats and things, but they -- like I said, they`re expensive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who can afford to fill up 15, 20 gallons of gasoline?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything`s more expensive, everything across the board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prices has gone up dramatically. It`s just not in our budget to even go out and do anything.


MELBER: This is what so many people are dealing with day in and day out right now. This is important. This is national news.

And this is also where the economic justice comes in, because, while, in some areas, it may be harder to see, the truth is that inflation is America`s secret tax that dashes even the supposed raises that workers get.

Over many decades, America`s even supposedly rising wages have rarely matched or handled mounting inflation and the cost of living. Pew found many workers actually have the same purchasing power as 40 years ago, despite their supposed raises.

So, to see the full reality, you have to keep that fact in mind. As some companies have begun lately coughing up some raises and then touting their labor policies, these wage hikes are currently evaporating in real time by this inflation.

And let`s be clear. These companies aren`t acting out of some idea of generosity. They`re the first to admit it. They tell shareholders they`re only paying workers the minimum they have to in order to get these workers. Companies like Target, Chipotle and CVS brought their minimum pay up to $15 per hour. There`s been a 12 percent wage increase across the entire hospitality sector, as more workers have quit and balked at returning to tough jobs amidst all this.

One outlet recently argued that wages and inflation remained in combat, with inflation winning, while rallying labor power might eventually help wages strike back or win this war.

So, this does run a lot deeper than gas prices going up. This is about the wider system that operates in American capitalism to hit the working poor the hardest. And that means many of the same people who`ve been doing all of that in person essential work, from nursing, to food deliveries, to stocking the grocery shelves.

There can also be -- real talk -- a classism at play here. We reported on some of this when the news was first breaking in 2020, when all the elite talk of just staying home or closing all the schools was still functionally operating on the backs of the people who weren`t staying home because they had to deliver groceries and toilet paper and hot meals to, well, sometimes a lot of other folks who could stay home.

So, if you find someone in conversation these days who sounds cavalier about inflation or these labor spasms, there`s a good bet they`re not worried about inflation driving them into debt or into homelessness.


The richest Americans are doing great amidst inflation and the pandemic. Billionaires are doing even better, with a pandemic windfall estimated around $2 trillion. And they are not exactly sweating gas prices as they use rocket fuel to go to space.

So, this whole unequal inflation crisis is the context for a challenge that faces the Biden administration.


BIDEN: Everything from a gallon of gas to a loaf of bread cost more, and it`s worrisome.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people will say costs actually reduced around some of the most essential services that they need.

BIDEN: We`re tracking these issues and trying to figure out how to tackle them head on.


MELBER: The administration says that`s what they have been doing for months, no matter what`s in the headlines, investing a new billion dollars in a program for the meat industry to deal specifically with rising prices, ordering the largest release of crude oil in American history ever to cool down those prices.

In 2021, Biden authorized those stimulus payments, trying to help low- income families through all of this, plus that historic child tax credit that we covered at the time. That lifted about three million children out of poverty in its first month alone, and was a key protection for families dealing with some of what I just showed you.

That`s what politicians can do. The Federal Reserve, though, has the most direct power over this. Now, it`s supposed to be independent and nonpartisan. Its officials are signaling a hike in interest rates to combat inflation as soon as March. Financial experts project the Fed may also do that three times this year, which does raise tradeoffs, like whether that leads to higher interest payments on credit cards and mortgages.

Some liberal voices are urging caution about not overreacting to inflation for that reason.

All of this, though, runs deeper than monetary policy to the interlocking trends that hold workers back, as billionaires take up more wealth than any other time ever in world history. That`s the context, as workers` ability to even pay what it costs to live is literally stuck for decades, thanks to inflation and these other issues.

So, like I told you, we are talking about way more than prices. We are talking about how this current price emergency, a crisis for so many working families, is interwoven with the cruelties of American capitalism that have long turned on the deeper questions about how we choose in a democracy to deal with economics, American power, and our politics.


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: America has given the Negro people a bad check, marked insufficient funds.

RICHARD TRUMKA, FORMER PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Inequality is not inevitable. Inequality is a choice.

KING: America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as far our citizens of color are concerned.


MELBER: Martin Luther King, who was in the news for other reasons earlier tonight on civil and voting rights, actually put this economic struggle on par, he said, with civil rights. It was what he was working on in interracial labor organizing when he was murdered.

It`s also what labor unions have demanded for decades and what Occupy Wall Street was protesting about after your tax dollars were spent so lavishly bailing out banks after their financial crisis. It`s what`s brewing now as 4.5 million workers roughly decline to go back to work after the pandemic at all.

This Great Resignation we keep hearing about has to do with a system so tough on labor, on workers, on people, that many, having assessed the risk and faced it down, say it is not worth going back right now, not like this.

It is what the singer and civil rights icon Bob Marley declared now 50 years ago, linking inflationary costs with wider inequality, when he said cost of living gets so high, rich and the poor, they start to cry, then belly full, but we hungry. A hungry mob is an angry mob.

Well, many, many Americans were hungry during this pandemic. We saw those lines for food banks. Our cameras caught them overhead. They stretched for miles and miles, people hungry and out of work, through no fault of their own, we all know that, from living through a pandemic where the government told people they couldn`t leave the house, in a wider long-term system that offers so few backstops and safety nets.

So, confronting all this is about more than today`s anti-inflation measures. It means a deeper reckoning with our rules for capitalism, especially as capitalism evolves in this digital economy with all these billionaires flying around, with rules that benefit the rich at the cost of everyone else, that tax workers and now, as I mentioned, some of these ex- workers who were in those lines, they literally were paying higher taxes than billionaires whose income arrives in the form of stock.


Now, some states are dealing with this by trying to hike minimum wages at a statutory level to require corporations to pay living wages, which otherwise they won`t. There are pockets of progress you see on that issue there.

It`s also why many populists demand a more fundamental reform, a right to health care separate from employment, since we have all just experienced how quickly you can lose your employment and thus your employer health care in the middle of a health crisis and a pandemic, or a fuller overhaul of the tax system, taxing wealth to fund a real durable safety net for labor, for the people who make the economy run, to reforming the Wall Street rules that literally ban companies from ever prizing labor and humanitarian goals on par with profits, a whole debate about fiduciary duty and a bunch of other stuff.

So I went on for a while here because I want you to know this is really important, and it`s about so much more than inflation, although inflation is revealing for us right now. It`s deeper than prices.

And when you take it all together, yes, you can see why a change in the price can make people feel so strongly.


FAT JOE: Yesterday`s price is not today`s price. Yesterday`s price is not today`s price.





MATTHEW OLSEN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DOJ NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION: We face an elevated threat from domestic violent extremists.

We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti- authority ideologies.


MELBER: Digging into our accountability watch, that`s an official you don`t usually hear from, at least not on national news.

But it`s the assistant attorney general laying out the elevated threat of domestic terror, and the DOJ forming a new unit on domestic terrorism to deal with the investigations into these threats, which have more than doubled since 2020 alone, after a period when hate crimes and other types of offenses were already on the rise.

I`m joined by NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray.

And, Professor, on behalf of the news, I`m sorry we`re not going to you on happier, sunnier topics. But we do find you to be an expert on the law. And this is legal.

What do you think when you see the DOJ here dealing with the shifting reality that there is a political context to this? They`re not saying, to be to be clear, that they have causality with every single aspect of political movements, but previous reports have drawn a link to the rhetoric and the racism and the authoritarianism that is apparently on the rise in America.

Your analysis.

MURRAY: Well, I think it`s important to understand that the DOJ has always had a counterterrorism unit that has handled both international terrorism and domestic terrorism.

But it has also been subject to criticism, mainly from civil rights groups, that they have not dealt with the threat of domestic terrorism as seriously as they have the prospect of international terrorism. So the fact of this new unit within the counterterrorism group is really a real move forward to address domestic terrorism threats with the same kind of vigor that we have previously allowed for international terrorism.

And, again, some might argue that this was needed not just in the wake of January 6, but maybe even as early as 2016, with that Harney County rancher standoff in Oregon, which was another effort by anti-government extremists to take a stand on particular issues.

So this is a really interesting move forward. It may be the most significant thing to come out of the aftermath of January 6. And that, of course, all depends on what will happen with the January 6 subcommittee and all of these pending civil lawsuits against those involved in the insurrection.

MELBER: Where does this dovetail with the point raised by another lawyer earlier tonight about a lack of punishment and deterrence of this stuff, and the sort of scandal in plain sight we have been covering several nights in the lenient sentencing of those January 6 convicts who have been sentenced thus far, about half evading jail time entirely?

MURRAY: Well, again, there has been a lot of criticism. And there was recently a sentencing in the courtroom of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, where the individual did not receive jail time, but rather received probation.

Again, these are difficult cases, but many people believe, rightly, I think, that there should be some kind of very public accountability for what happened on January 6. And so the idea that there isn`t something like jail time for what is essentially an attempted coup of the government strikes some as being too little and too late, given everything that has happened.

So the idea that the DOJ is taking a more forceful response to these threats before they can even materialize into the kind of events that we saw on January 6 may be a step in the right direction, given everything else that has unfolded.

MELBER: Right.

I appreciate your point there, because that speaks to the levels of this. I think, some of the concern about the injustices and disparities of the past we have covered, today is an example that would appear to be about righting at least some of that going forward, treating this on the so-called 9/11 or terror footing that so many others have been targeted with.

But, again -- and viewers know this by now -- we will be tracking the real numbers, the real results, not just the press conference.

Professor Murray on more than one topic tonight, thank you.

MURRAY: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Absolutely.

Coming up, the politics of COVID or the COVID of politics, Dr. Fauci going at Rand Paul. We will show you that.

And an incredible moment of police saving a life, in all likelihood. It`s remarkable video. We will show it to you. That`s coming up.



MELBER: Turning to quite the scene in Los Angeles. A pilot got stuck in their own cockpit. This was after making a crash landing that happened to be, of all places, on train tracks. Can you imagine?

So, Los Angeles police ultimately had about four seconds to try to save him before a train that wouldn`t stop was coming barreling through. Now, police body camera footage captured this heroism in real time. You could just see how intense that was, how last-minute it was, like some sort of storyline, but it`s reality, and how that train was not stopping.

A miraculous rescue. The pilot is in stable condition, thanks to that police work. It`s a moment of reality we wanted to share with you.


Up ahead, as promised, you will see Dr. Fauci absolutely uncorking on Rand Paul.


MELBER: Dr. Fauci was back on the Hill today, clashing with Republican Rand Paul.

Biden`s chief medical adviser went after Paul for what he says are these repeated false claims that Fauci says has even led to death threats against the long-serving government doctor.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: You keep distorting the truth. It is stunning.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Did you -- did you talk...

FAUCI: What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue is that, all of a sudden, that kindles the crazies out there, and I have life -- threats upon my life, harassment of my family, and my children with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me.

You are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.


MELBER: Laying it out there and sharing under oath what he says he`s going through.

Dr. Fauci in the news for many reasons.

A programming note. He`s on "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC.

And to get to that, well, we urge you to keep it locked right here on MSNBC, because "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.