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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 1/19/22

Guests: Nick Akerman, Emily Bazelon


President Biden holds a press conference. The Supreme Court refuses to block the National Archives from turning over Trump documents to Congress.



And I have to say to everyone, with a couple of exceptions in the room, it`s hard to ask questions, to stand on your feet and ask a president questions. So respect to those journalists doing their jobs, again, with a couple of showboating examples I would exclude from the compliment.

But there is this -- and I think, if you`re in the room, maybe you don`t see it as starkly as if you`re on the outside. The current Republican Party did not after the election results were determined, I think after seven days -- it was Saturday when we run the air finally declaring the election had on Tuesday for president-elect Joe Biden.

There are people that he still calls his friend who did not acknowledge his victory. And there was question after question after question about his fiery voting rights speech in Georgia, where he said, you will either make decisions and take votes that put you on the side of history of King or Bull Connor, of protectors of our civil rights or of George Wallace.

And he got several questions about whether that made it impossible for him to work with these creatures called Republicans. These creatures called Republicans cannot all as a party acknowledged that he`s the legitimate president of the United States. There is still a double standard held to this president, as though, because he still believes in an old world where you could get things done, he should live by rules that no Republicans would ever entertain living by.

It`s just a fascinating duality.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It`s also -- I mean, honestly, it`s just this - - it`s a double standard that Republicans seem to -- seek to impose on the opposing party...


MADDOW: ... which is that they can say anything they want go to any rhetorical lengths, or even practical lengths, to deny even the legitimacy of the existence of their opponents.

But Democrats better not fight back hard, because, if you fight back hard, that`s mean, and that`s not Democratic. And you said you Democrats wouldn`t be mean, or you wouldn`t be tough, or you wouldn`t be disunifying, or whatever the critique is.

It`s an effort to try to unilaterally disarm one side of the debate and say that Democrats can`t push back hard, even when fighting against incredible extremism on the part of their opponents.

And so, I mean, I don`t think that President Biden sort of falls for that. I don`t -- I mean, you saw that he was pugnacious in the way that he responded to those repeated questions about that.

And, listen, if you`re going -- I mean, while the Senate tonight is dealing with the voting rights bill and Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema siding with the Republicans so that there can`t be federal voting rights protections, Republicans are going to be meeting tonight in Lincoln County, Georgia, to take a vote on closing six of the seven voting sites in that county, right?

Like, it`s real. It`s happening.


WALLACE: And getting rid of the drop -- more drop boxes, right?

MADDOW: They`re dropping the drop boxes in Wisconsin. In Texas, they literally said today, sorry, we don`t have enough paper to send out voter registration cards. We have run out of paper. And also you can`t use the old ones, because we changed the form. And if you send in the old ones, we won`t process your application.

I mean, this stuff is real. And to say, like, Democrats ought not use such harsh language while criticizing us on this matter, or we won`t side with you, you know what, you`re not going to side with us.


MADDOW: It`s a -- I think it`s a -- it`s an effort at sort of rhetorical policing that the president sees through.

WALLACE: I want to ask you about his -- you have done a lot of reporting on your show, setting the standard for all of us, on the real economy, what is actually happening.

All of the questions that this president got were about something that is real, and that`s inflation. It struck me that he didn`t broaden out every opportunity he had. I mean, he really tried to feel the pain that people are feeling when they`re shopping for groceries or paying their rent, but there are -- there is a bigger picture. And I was actually surprised that he didn`t paint that broader picture in some of those exchanges.

MADDOW: You mean in terms of the economic success of his first year?

WALLACE: In terms of the jobs, in terms of how much money people have saved up, and in terms of -- I mean, there are other statistics.

And I think he was trying to really go where people are, and people are scared about inflation, and they`re mad about it. And they know they have to deal with this politically, but they do have a lot of good economic news to tout.

And I was -- this gets to a structural problem that I think Democrats have. They often have public opinion their side, good facts on their side, and they end up apologizing for what they haven`t achieved yet. Republicans rarely have either, and they pound their chest and make stuff up and keep their base happy.

MADDOW: I mean, nominally sober Republican elected officials today will tell you that the beginning of the Trump presidency was the best economy that America has ever known.


Really? Because GDP growth under Joe Biden in his first year is the greatest GDP growth that we have seen in nearly 40 years. And there were six million jobs created. And, I mean, the -- even if you look at the stupid measures on economic growth that the former guy, that the previous president liked to brag about, I mean, look at the stock market today vs. the stock market when Joe Biden was sworn in a year ago today.


MADDOW: I mean, the way that Republicans talked about the comparatively modest economic achievements under the one term of the Trump administration, compared to the legit economic achievements of this presidency, where you`re right, Democrats are sort of -- they almost are simpering about it.

Yes, we have done some, but we could do so much more. We don`t want to let -- their modesty about their own achievements, when the GDP alone and the unemployment rate alone and the job creation alone and rising wages alone and all those things, any one of those things would be the basis for insufferable chest pounding were it a Republican president who was credibly claiming or incredibly claiming credit for it.

And Democrats are just -- aren`t wired to do it. I mean, I just -- it takes a sort of political personality to do it. And I think President Biden had those notes today for him to try to do that kind of bragging. But he`s more of an empathizer than he is a braggart.

WALLACE: The other piece of advice that I know he`s received, because they are very public about it, is to stop treating the pandemic like a problem he has to solve, to say it`s endemic, we`re going to live with it. And he still wants to fix it, he wants to end it.

And I spoke to a senior official today who said sure, we can make it an asset that we beat back this latest surge, but, first, we have to beat back the latest surge. I mean, they are -- there`s an earnestness with which they approach their own benchmarks for success.

And you heard some of that, talking about the lack of a vaccine for kids under 5, which just about every parent is now deeply anxious about with Omicron seemingly coming out of the fence. It feels like it`s everywhere.

He talked about how he`s going to continue to listen to his scientists on masks. I mean, there is a loyalty to the process that you wonder listening to him if he ever loses his patience with that behind the scenes.

MADDOW: And it`s interesting, you heard the sort of -- the press corps questions today, you heard the sort of the effort to put COVID in a typical policy box, meaning, Mr. President, you`re acknowledging things that haven`t gone as well as you wanted them to, benchmarks that you haven`t hit, things that you sort of claim credit for and said would be done by now that aren`t done now. Why aren`t you firing people?

Why aren`t -- how can you say that you`re happy with your team, given the way this has gone? And the thing about COVID is that it is technically a novel coronavirus. And the science is evolving as quickly -- or actually not as quickly as the virus is evolving itself.

And the measures that we have to take, whether it`s the susceptibility of vaccinated people to infection and the prevalence of breakthrough infections, or the quality of masks, or the effectiveness of social distancing protocols, and the proportion of populations that are boosted and whether -- or -- sorry -- that are vaccinated, and whether that includes being boosted, I mean, all of those things are evolving scientifically.

And, therefore, policies are evolving. Following the science -- if you are committed to following the science as a principle, which is the only rational way to approach it, your policies will have to evolve as we learn more. And that is -- that`s not easily mapped onto political accountability.

WALLACE: Right, or news cycles, yes.

MADDOW: It is easier to -- yes.

And it`s easy -- I think it is easy and fair to ding any political leader who doesn`t follow the science and makes dumb moves that make this COVID situation worse because they`re defying science, ignoring it or misunderstanding it. If you are following the best science and making your best efforts, it doesn`t mean that it`s going to be a linear policy response.

It does mean that there are going to be things that you wish you had done differently as the scientific understanding grows. And that`s -- it`s just a nuanced, gray area thing, if you`re willing to do it right. And that`s dissatisfying to the press corps, which is why I think you got so many questions that sounded exactly the same on that exact point.

WALLACE: Right. That didn`t really succeed in getting him to break from the view that he holds, which is what you just described.


WALLACE: Rachel, I know how hard it is for you to do anything other than prepare for your show at this time.


WALLACE: So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for spending some time with us today. It`s great to see you, my friend.

MADDOW: It`s great to see you all.

I will tell you in advance tonight`s show is just going to be me taking calls on gardening questions and (OFF-MIKE) techniques.


MADDOW: So, it`s going to be easy.


WALLACE: You look for me on the switchboard. I will be there.

MADDOW: Bye. Thank you.

WALLACE: Thank you, friend.

Former Senator Claire McCaskill has also been watching along with us, as has former RNC Chairman Michael Steele and our friend John Heilemann, hosts of the "Hell & High Water" podcast, executive editor of The Recount.

Let`s start where Rachel and I started, Ukraine, Russia. I know other networks have some reaction from Ukraine already, and we are pursuing some on our own, but to say that he expects Putin to test the U.S. and NATO and invade Ukraine, and when pressed on whether a minor incursion would put into motion a full military response, the president seemed to really be very conscious of how his words were being interpreted around the world, rightfully so.

But I wonder your reaction to that, John Heilemann?

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, my reaction to that, Nicolle -- good to see you -- was that you made the list of headlines coming out of earlier when you first start talking with Rachel, when the press conference ended.

It certainly, I think, in terms of global consequences, and potentially even in terms of political consequence, the situation of what is about to happen in Ukraine or not about to happen and how the U.S. and allies are going to react to it is maybe not just the headline of the press conference, but could become the most paramount thing that comes out of this day.

And I do think the question wasn`t just whether there would be a military response. But the question -- his initial suggestion seemed to be that we`re going to be with sanctions if there is a serious incursion, but there might be something less than sanctions if there`s not a serious incursion.

We had follow-ups on that, thank God, over the course of this long press conference. He sort of tried to clarify that. But he also leaned into this notion that there`s not unanimity among NATO allies about how to handle this situation.

I was a little surprised that he was that -- I`m interested in trying to figure out what the strategy involved in that is. It was a thing that you don`t normally hear a president say in these situations, which is to kind of hint at the notion that there`s dissent or dissension among allies on an issue like this.

So, I mean, I`m eager to hear what the other networks and our network and others -- what will follow from this, because I think it`s enormously consequential. And I don`t just think it`s enormously consequential across the world. I actually think you could also be enormously consequential, as we saw with the Afghanistan withdrawal, which turned out to have a huge political component for Joe Biden.

This too, heading into a midterm election, could have a big political component also, because it will go to some issues related to the president`s leadership, to his competence, and to America`s standing in the world.

WALLACE: John Heilemann, you`re here because you can do everything.

And in the spirit of doing everything, NBC News is reporting now that the Supreme Court will not block the National Archives from turning over Trump documents. For all the news that was made, it will be felt around the world, but that is the other big headline tonight.

The United States Supreme Court will not block the National Archives from turning over Trump documents. Your thoughts.

HEILEMANN: Huge news.

I think it gives -- we have been talking on the show Nicolle and elsewhere about the momentum that`s been gathering on the 1/6 Committee over the course of the last, I would say, month-and-a-half after seeming to many of us like it was a little -- moving slowly and was sort of stalled.

It`s now been on fire and rolling across with subpoenas, with requests for cooperation. And this was one of the things that maybe had the most consequence in the long run, because a lot of these people, as we know, whether it`s the Rudy Giulianis of the world and the other legal -- I hate to use the word legal in the context of those clowns, but the clown show that tried to help Trump steal the election the legal front outside the White House, all of these other folks, they may or may not end up testifying.

They may or may not end up getting subpoenas. They may or may not take the Fifth. But what we know is that the records will speak. And so, in the end, the fact that the final -- it looks like the final potential legal roadblock to this committee and ultimately the public seeing the documentary evidence about what was going on in terms of White House communications, that is enormously consequential for history, enormously consequential potentially politically, as we saw Joe Biden today talk about Republican -- not just Republican intransigence in the press conference, Nicolle.

He talked about -- and this is, I think, key to part of the midterm election strategy that he wants to pursue and Democrats will pursue -- Republicans are not just intransigent. It`s not just that they don`t have a positive agenda. They`re under the thumb of Donald Trump. They`re intimidated by Donald Trump.

And that`s where the lines cross here between what 1/6 Committee is doing and what Democratic politics and politicians are going to be doing all the way through to November and maybe beyond.

WALLACE: My colleague Ari Melber will have much, much more on this blockbuster decision from the Supreme Court in just a couple of minutes when he picks up his program.


But to this Mitch McConnell, Republican point that John Heilemann is making, Michael Steele, I believe Mitch McConnell was asked today, if he were to be the majority leader again, what would he be for? And he said, good question. I`m going to get back to you on that.

The last time the RNC had a platform, it was to put both arms and both legs -- sorry for the visual -- around Donald J. Trump. The Republican Party right now doesn`t stand for anything. And I thought President Biden`s most effective reframing and this White House has described today as a reframing of his public posture about his agenda and its progress, some of the most effective time was spent describing what this Republican is -- Republican Party is.


There`s no surprise, I mean, about what Republicans aren`t going to do or what they stand for. And that`s been very clear for five years now. We cut taxes. Oh, repeal and replace. Infrastructure week. Yes. So there`s no surprise there.

The question becomes, I think, more narratively how the president goes out and convinces the country of that, right, and convinces the country of that in the context of what they actually know and see happening around them.


STEELE: The decision by the Supreme Court, it`s going to be -- it`s a big deal.

To John`s point, it`s a big deal, because now you`re going to have stuff coming out of the Trump administration for the public to see that shows the three things that John pointed out about a party and its leadership that don`t have a strategy, they`re intransigent, and, quite frankly, they`re so far up Trump`s behind, they have no clue where they are, all right?

So, that`s going to be narratively an opportunity for this administration, and specifically Joe Biden. So, yes, it`s good to hear him say I want to go out and be with the public and talk to the public. I thought the questioning, right -- the very first question out of the box spoke to this underlying problem of the narrative of this administration, that they have failed, that the country is a mess.

I mean, I listened to you and Rachel. Rachel`s ticking all this stuff about GDP and economy and boom, boom, and I`m sitting there thinking, well, nobody knows that, or at least they don`t feel it.

And so, narratively, what does this administration do?

WALLACE: Well, and the president didn`t say it.

That was -- Michael, that was my question to Rachel. I mean, I watch her program. And I, frankly, have heard -- report the good news about -- and, look, this is not all the White House`s fault.


WALLACE: It is difficult to cut through the noise. I`m not blaming them.

But to what you`re saying, because I hear the but, and so I want to pull it out to you. But it feels like what you`re saying is this president did not -- where he may have made some progress in putting the spotlight on the Republicans for their sins, he did not adequately reframe the question of inflation in a broader economic picture that`s going to get people off of their inflation angst and rage.

STEELE: No, he didn`t.

And I think that`s something that`s -- maybe that comes with the in person, on the street, in the neighborhood kind of context. But in this presser, I thought, OK, first of all, bro, you should have ended this an hour ago, because the reality of it is...

WALLACE: It was long.

STEELE: It wasn`t -- but it wasn`t the length. It was where it was going and what it was doing, dragging down again, at the end -- you started -- you ended as you started, about the failure of this administration.

When the reporter gets up and talks about people look at you and they think you`re doddering, you`re teetering, you`re mentally incompetent, and I`m sitting there going, OK, if I`m the press staff, I`m going, OK, we clearly have set the president into a bad room, into a bad position.

So, in some case, in some respects, the politics of positioning the president inside this White House is out of sync with the politics of what`s going on out in the country.

And I just think, from a political standpoint, to create the momentum with his base, to create the momentum with the members of his party in the House and the Senate, he`s got to fix that alignment, in my view.

And there were aspects of this that were good. But then when you say minor incursion into Ukraine is OK, here we go again, and that`s where things get a little bit squirrelly.

WALLACE: Claire, the White House has put out some clarification. This is from the White House national security spokeswoman, Emily Horne, who says: "The president clarified this. He was referring to the difference between the military and non-military, paramilitary cyber action by the Russian. Such actions would be met with a reciprocal response, in coordination with allies and partners."


To Michael Steele`s point, was it a mistake to leave him out there for two hours?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t know. I thought he did pretty well.

It didn`t look like to me he was having cognitive difficulties. I think only -- the only thing -- first of all, let`s just take a moment and compare and contrast. Donald Trump did one solo press conference his first year.

And if you remember, it was Looney Tunes. he spent the whole time attacking people personally, bragging about himself, refusing to acknowledge that he could ever do anything wrong. Look at the difference with this guy, going out of his way to say, I won`t publicly criticize people or attack them, going out of his way to acknowledge that there`s some things he`d like to do differently.

I think he kind of oozed relatability and being a good guy. And so I think they should do this more often, maybe not two hours, maybe keep it to an hour. But I think they should do it more often.

And let me say this also. I wish that every answer to every question, he would have tied in the economic success of his administration and the infrastructure bill. And this is what`s driving me crazy about my former friends on Capitol Hill. We have the most jobs ever in history created in the first year of this presidency.

We have record growth. We have millions, hundreds of millions of people that have got the vaccine, and we have got an infrastructure bill that is finally going to fix lead pipes and bridges and highways. This is what they should be talking about from the moment the sun comes up until the sun comes down.

I know right now everyone`s pushing on the voting rights. And that`s important. But, for 2022, if Democrats don`t come back to that on every question, in every speech, if they don`t remind America what this guy has gotten done, they`re going to deserve what they get next November, if Mitch McConnell takes over.

WALLACE: John, there was an interesting moment at the end where I think the president was fielding a question about schools staying open. And he forcefully knocked down the notion that there are more than just sort of local closures dealing with local situations and crises and infections and surges.


WALLACE: And it`s pretty remarkable, frankly, that 95 percent of schools are open in this country, as Omicron just rages all throughout just about every corner of our country.

Again, it ended up in response to a question. If this was sort of a message I was framing, that seems like another thing you can tout right now as COVID is -- numbers are as high as they have been; 95 percent of all schools are open. And just about every kid in America and definitely every parent is thrilled about that.

But in response to a question about that, he tried really cautiously to make a point, I think, about information bubbles. And he got into cable channels. He named-checked MSNBC. He accurately pointed out that FOX`s ratings are fine, as they are. They`re soaring, frankly.

And he got that right. But this is a White House that has to navigate sort of information bubbles and the truth-adverse on other networks. But this is the first time I heard him really talk about it publicly. What did you think about that?

HEILEMANN: Well, it`s very hard to talk about it.

I will say this just before we get to that topic. To Claire`s point, I think probably -- I think most people`s reaction to the press conference was it was too long, just as a viewer for a lot of people. It just goes on too long. And it`s obviously a dangerous place for a president to be.

But, to Claire`s point, you stand out there. And I think, Nicolle, you made this point to Rachel too. It is really hard to stand in front of a bunch of hostile jerks -- that`s all of us in the press -- who are trying to make you -- who are trying to make you screw up, who are trying to make news, who are trying to drive you into a dumb sound bite, who are trying to just -- to make get face time on national television.

That`s what the press corps mostly is doing, not all, but a lot. And to go for an hour and 50 minutes, hour and 45 minutes, and not screw up, really, demonstrably, not screw up really at all, really hard to do that.

And I got to say, the best answer to that real jerk who put thought that you could make news by asking the president of the United States, hey, are you senile, which I don`t care what the polling says, just as a journalist, you`re never going to get an interesting answer to the question, buddy. You`re not going to make news on that.

And the president did the right thing, which was just to say, I don`t know what you`re talking about. Let`s move on.


But the best answer was, hey, if you think I`m senile, and I`m doctoring, you get up here and try to do an hour and 45 minutes in front of you and your colleagues and not screw up.

He didn`t. I thought it was the best demonstration of the fact that the president`s mind is perfectly fine. And he did really -- I thought he was he gave us a testament to the notion he would take questions from critics.


HEILEMANN: He took questions from friendly networks. He took questions from hostile networks. He took questions from non-networks like Newsmax, OK?

So I thought the president did great in that respect. And I think that that answer, in some sense, Nicolle, is part of -- goes to your first -- your own question, which is I think that, in taking questions from FOX News, in taking questions from Newsmax, in taking questions from some outlets that we all have justified disdain for because they are peddlers of lies and conspiracy theory and propaganda, and the president`s attitude is, you know what, I`m going to show that I can answer your questions.

And I`m going to be respectful. And I`m going to be amiable. And I`m going to try to reach across that chasm a little bit. It`s a limited way I can do it here. I`m not going to be able to solve the Facebook conspiracy theory problem up here. But I`m going to try to reach across the chasm a little bit.

And how you deal with the different sets of facts and the different convictions and the different reality bubbles that people live in, that is a much harder problem. But I think Joe Biden at least demonstrated today that he understands that it is a problem.

And if you`re going to address it over the course of the next year into the midterms and the next three years of his presidency, noticing that it`s an issue, and that it really is a profound issue in our democracy and our politics, is a good place to start.


Claire, there will be discussion about whether it was long -- that`s a fact -- whether it was too long. But I like what -- where John is heading here, that one of the few forums to pierce through the very hermetically sealed information bubbles is in a room where they`re all sitting side by side.

So whatever questions Newsmax or FOX News had, ostensibly they will showcase them on their networks. So, the opportunity the president had to feel what were in some instances pretty rude questions -- and all I could think of when Mr. Rosen was posing his question was the ex-president doing his tomato, tomato, woman, man, camera, dog, talking about how he had taken the MoCA test.


WALLACE: No one had asked him if he had early onset cognitive decline, but he had gotten proactive, I suppose, in his P.R. campaign to suggest he didn`t and started talking to, I believe it was a FOX News reporter about the results of his MoCA test.

He went on and on and said. Then I did it again, tamale, MoCA, camera, woman. This was a president who had goodwill, it would have appeared, toward everybody asking questions in the room. And there are -- there`s the audience watching. There`s those of us sort of dissecting it and trying to understand it and analyze it.

And then there`s the actual people in the room who got to ask her questions of the president today, Claire.

MCCASKILL: So let me break some news here.

If the people that are around the president are full well aware of his cognitive abilities, I can assure you that if Joe Biden had cognitive issues, they never would have let him call on Newsmax or FOX News. They would have said ahead of time, avoid these two people.

And, by the way, they both are stupid questions. And I was so glad that Biden had an opportunity to say, hey, I`m mainstream. I like Bernie Sanders, but I`m not Bernie Sanders. That`s an important thing for him to say for the midterms.

It`s an important thing for him to say for the suburbs. And I actually think the other -- only other thing we really haven`t talked about here, and I think this is something that needs to be developed over the coming weeks when we see what Putin is up to, is, can Joe Biden keep NATO together in a unified force?

If he can, checkmate to Putin. But know what Putin is doing here. Putin`s goal here is to try to reelect Donald Trump. He wants Donald Trump back in the White House. He`s never had a bestie like Trump. He`s never had an American president that wanted to French-kiss him.

I mean, this is really a guy that is leaving a country that wants nothing more than to make Biden look bad. He and Mitch McConnell have that in common. Putin and Mitch McConnell`s number one goal is to make Biden look bad.

WALLACE: Claire McCaskill, Michael Steele, John Heilemann, thank you for staying with me for this long.

We should tell our viewers you have been sitting here with me since 4:00 Eastern. Thank you so much.

We are now joined by the regular occupant of this time slot, my friend and colleague Ari Melber.

So, Ari, you have probably had more time than I have to digest the other bombshell that has come down. And that is the Supreme Court refusing to block the release of Donald Trump`s documents.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Yes, big news, Nicolle.

I hope you`re willing to extend your marathon coverage another minute here with us.


WALLACE: Of course.

MELBER: I was watching Rachel, you, your great panel.

And this was one of those news days in Washington. I was really listening to how you guys broke down what the president said about Ukraine, about those tough questions he got, some of which seemed out of bounds, as well as the voting rights, the spending.

And then we get this decision here, overwhelming for the Supreme Court. It looks like about an 8-1. We talk a lot about things being divided. But this is the Supreme Court saying no to Donald Trump, you are not a king, you are not still president.

And, interestingly, even if you were still president, the chief justice wrote in this brief opinion -- he went out of the way to say, even if you were still president, we would reject your attempt to hide this kind of evidence on a matter of this import.


MELBER: So, bottom-line translation, anything that Donald Trump wanted to block for whatever his reasons were related to January 6 and this investigation is cleared to go from the archives to the investigation. Nicolle.

WALLACE: Ari, do you have an understanding of how quickly that happens? I mean, I know the documents have been identified. They have been vetted by this White House counsel, President Biden`s White House counsel.

Do you have any sense of how quickly they can be transmitted to the committee?

MELBER: I would say I don`t. The opinion itself does not speak to the timeline in any way. So that then becomes, as you know from your government service, one of those things between the Archives and the Congress.

I think the Congress` view, as you alluded to, is that they know what they want, they have identified, it exists, they`re ready for it. I mean, that`s already been litigated. But whether the Archives has a process or a way that they need a certain amount of time, I don`t have that in front of me.

I do think it`s interesting to again emphasize that there are presidential questions that are close calls, difficult cases the Supreme Court hears. This opinion shows this court, on a really basis of most of the court, Republican and Democratic appointees, they didn`t find this a close question. They think Donald Trump was wrong and the loser of this kind of claim.

WALLACE: It`s amazing.

Don`t say anything too great until I have time to take off my microphone and run down to my office and listen to the rest of your program.


WALLACE: Thank you for sharing your on-air real estate with me.

Have a great show tonight, Ari.

MELBER: And, likewise, we have been watching.

So thank you, Nicolle, and thanks for the marathon coverage with everyone.

And we`re going to keep on the breaking news right here. You`re watching on MSNBC`s special coverage, as it continues, a big Supreme Court case, a big loss for Donald Trump.

I want to bring in Emily Bazelon, Emily basil on staff writer on legal issues with "The New York Times" magazine, who has jumped into a breaking news mode with us.

Emily, I will say that we`re fortunate here the decision is pretty clear and pretty short. Tell us how you read it, what it means.

EMILY BAZELON, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I mean, I think that this was a pretty weak legal claim, given that past presidential records are owned by the American public. That`s the law we have, the post-Watergate law from the 1970s.

And I think the Supreme Court made it clear that they did not agree with President -- former President Trump`s argument that the documents be kept secret, and I would expect them to be turned over fairly quickly, because the Supreme Court is the end of the road.

MELBER: Yes. Yes. There`s no other option here for the former president here. He had his reasons, as I mentioned, of why he wanted to block this, why he doesn`t think that this would be, to put it in legal terms, exculpatory, that there might be something in here that he doesn`t want out there.

And I want you to stay with us. This is one of those breaking news days.

I`m told Nick Akerman is in place and is going to join our coverage, a former Watergate prosecutor, a counselor versed in these kinds of issues.

Nick, welcome. I will let you get situated here.

My follow-up question to Emily is something I was just discussing with Nicolle Wallace. I want your take as well. This is kind of legal -- legal breaking news, so I don`t know what you thought of this line.


MELBER: But -- I`m going to go to Emily and then Nick on this.

They say, Emily, in the opinion here, which was written here, I want to say -- yes, chief justice writing it: "The privilege claim here would not succeed even under the Nixon and Senate select committee tests."

And they go on to say, even if Donald Trump were the incumbent, which is to say if he were still president, they agree with the lower courts that had said, Emily, his claims were so weak, he would not be able to hold back this evidence. Your response or analysis of that?

BAZELON: Well, I think the Nixon history is important here, because the reason we have this law from 1978 about the public owning of presidential records was concern that Congress had about the level of secrecy that President Nixon was trying to maintain when he was in office related to the Watergate break-in and ensuing scandal.

And the 1970s are really the moment, post-Nixon, where we get a lot of these access laws, this idea that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we`re going to let the public in on what people in government are doing and saying.


And so I think what you see here is Trump trying to protect his past records and the Supreme Court saying, you know what, even if you were still the president, you wouldn`t be able to assert this privilege. And you certainly can`t do so now that you`re out of office.

MELBER: Same question to you as we talk Watergate, our former Watergate prosecutor, Nick.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, I think what they`re saying here is that executive privilege just does not apply.

You can`t take executive privilege, other than what the Supreme Court said in 1974 in U.S. vs. Nixon, unless it relates to diplomatic affairs, national security, military affairs. It certainly doesn`t cover an insurrection and effort to overthrow the government, and the first branch of government being the Congress.

So, what they`re saying is, even if Trump were still president now, they would still order this to be turned over, because executive privilege does not apply under any interpretation of that privilege. That`s what`s going on here.

And what`s amazing is, they came down with this without any oral argument, without further briefing. I mean, the district court -- the District of Columbia circuit court decision was very detailed. I mean, Trump came back with zero facts in terms of justifying executive privilege here.

And I think the Supreme Court, as I had predicted, really wouldn`t take this case, because there was nothing more to say. Everything had been covered by the district court and the District of Columbia.

And I think, from the standpoint of the January 6 Committee, this is a resounding victory. This is going to give them information that goes to Donald Trump`s intent. And the question is, the big question is, is he guilty, should he be indicted for obstructing Congress?

And there`s going to be evidence in here. For example, he took a number of different takes on that message that he gave to his supporters to leave the Capitol. There are at least two other takes that were done on that. And for whatever reason, the people in the White House didn`t think those were good enough.

So the question is...


AKERMAN: ... what did he say, and why did they not go ahead with what he said earlier?

MELBER: And, Nick...

AKERMAN: My guess is, none of that is going to help him.

MELBER: And, nick, I`m curious what you think. Again, this is breaking news. We just got this coming out of the president`s press conference, the Supreme Court rejecting Donald Trump`s request to hide this January 6 evidence on an 8-1 decision.

And, Nick, that means that most members of the court rejected Trump. That includes most of the Republican-appointed members. It includes several justices that he himself appointed.

What does that say to you, Nick, at a time where the president was just talking about how polarized we are and how Republicans in the Senate, they won`t do anything with him? He says it`s worse obstruction than the Obama era, the public well aware of that polarization, a lot of cynicism about all kinds of institutions, including the court.

What does it say to you that this was an 8-1 ruling, and is there anything good in there about the rule of law?

AKERMAN: Yes, of course there is.

I mean, this is exactly what happened to Watergate. This is deja vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra. Everybody, before that tapes decision, was saying, oh, my God, Nixon`s got his own appointees in there. There`s no way we`re going to get the tapes. It`s going to go down partisan lines.

It didn`t. That was an 8-1 decision. One justice wound up recusing himself. Here, you got eight votes again. But it really says a lot about the rule of law and the way our system of government works, why we have an independent judiciary, where Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, can`t be removed for any reason.

They can -- Trump, in his mind, I`m sure, believed that the appointees that he put on there are beholden to him, that they owe him something. In his mind, that`s what he thought. But that is not the way our system works. And this proved that, again, the same thing that happened in Watergate. This is the same thing, that the Supreme Court upheld the rule of law with respect to executive privilege.

MELBER: Emily?

BAZELON: This is a very conservative, ardently conservative court, and it is going to change the law and move it to the right in important, dramatic ways this year and in the years to come.

However, as Nick points out, they`re not loyal to the person who appointed them. They are a separate branch. And so, when Trump comes in with very weak legal arguments, the justices are going to take the opportunity to prove their independence.

And I think that`s what you`re seeing here. You`re seeing them assert themselves as a separate branch of government.

MELBER: Yes, a really interesting ruling. Again, as I mentioned to two viewers, it came here within the last half-hour. We just got it printed out.

And really great to have Emily and Nick give us some insights into it. So I appreciate both of you.

This is MSNBC`s special coverage that has continued out of the president`s press conference, a busy news day.


And when we come back, James Carville is here, one-on-one exclusive on THE BEAT.

We`re going to get into all of it next.


MELBER: Welcome back to our special coverage, as President Biden held his longest press conference, speaking for one hour, 52 minutes.

And now we have James Carville standing by to get into that and a whole lot more.

Always a good day when it`s a Carville day.


MELBER: Now, let me just give viewers a little context, because Biden is marking one year in office, and Americans do view him differently than a year ago.

His 54 percent approval last January, for example, was higher than Trump ever got in four years. But check in now, at the year mark, and it`s dropped to lower, in the low 40s. That is Trump territory. And it`s cutting into enthusiasm for the broader Democratic Party.

More Americans are still leaning Democratic than leaning Republican by about 3 percent, according to new Gallup numbers. But they also note this. Recent Democratic gains have evaporated as Biden`s job approval declined.


And that is the picture. It`s a trend that concerns party leaders after a year where Biden did pass the big infrastructure bill, did slashed child poverty, and hit that milestone of 75 percent of adults being vaccinated in America.

Biden says he will get the word out about what Democrats have achieved.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to make clear to the American people what we are for. We`ve passed a lot.


MELBER: That is the task ahead.

To paraphrase another North American leader who often feels misunderstood, Aubrey Drake Graham -- quote -- "I`m trying to relay what I see through my own eyes. And nothing tell the truth like the eyes will. Managed to moonwalk straight through a mine field."

Well, now we turn, as promised, to a legendary strategist whom president`s call on to avoid land mines, James Carville.

Good to see you, James. Thanks for hanging with us, because all -- the whole schedule has been all over the place.


MELBER: But you heard me quote it there. Drake says, you got to see your truth, relay it and repeat it.

Does that apply, in your view, to anything the Democrats have to do here?

CARVILLE: I thought today was a very good day.

The best time to plant an oak tree was 25 years ago. The second best time is right now. I think President Biden planted an oak tree, all right?

And he decided that hey, look, our political situation has deteriorated here, and I`m going to personally take charge of it. And it is not a minor feat to stand out for an hour and 50 minutes on your feet, answering every kind of question that comes your way on every kind -- different kinds of policy.

So my hat`s off to the president. It really is. He`s taking matters into his own hands. And that`s what -- and you can`t avoid land mines. No president can avoid land mines. You can try to figure out where they are, and try to get around some of them. But they are going to blow up on you.

And I think he realized this. And I think he showed an element of toughness today that was encouraging if you`re a Democrat.

MELBER: A couple things here.

One, I can say this because we`re friendly. I didn`t even know you were bald until you took the hat off.


MELBER: So, you learn something new every day.


CARVILLE: Yes, I am bald.


MELBER: Two...

CARVILLE: Been that way for a while.

MELBER: Been that way for a minute.

Two, you are offering some intellectual heft behind disagreeing with something that somebody said earlier on our air. Heilemann was saying, well, maybe he went on too long, and this and that. And you`re saying that it was actually a visualization and an execution of a certain kind of stamina and fortitude, along with literally thinking on his feet.

To that end, we actually put together some of those moments that jumped out that were strong. Let`s watch them back with James.

This was just from the president`s press conference today.


BIDEN: Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they`re, unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken, for fear of being defeated in a primary?

What are Republicans for? What are they for? What`s Mitch for?

Unconstitutional efforts on the part of the Republicans to stack the election.

The American people overwhelmingly agree with me. Can you think of any other president who has done as much in one year?


MELBER: James?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, John is a good friend. He and 10 other people watched the whole one hour and 52 minutes of it, all right?

And I think that was a larger message contained in that. Like, all right, come on, dude, take your best shot at me. You`re on a street corner in Scranton, and Biden is 11 years old. Let`s have a scuffle and decide this thing. Let`s hit the pavement.

And I think that was larger of what he was saying today. And I think it laid down a marker. You`re right. It was extraordinarily long. Very few people, only people in the news business that have to would watch the whole hour and 52 minutes, all right?

But he laid down markers. People talk about the Democratic base. Boy, if you don`t care that child poverty has been reduced by 40 percent, or you don`t care that hourly workers have more leverage than they have ever had in memory, then you`re not really a Democrat.

I mean, that`s what being a Democrat is really -- at the end of the day, what you can`t stand is the thought of children being hungry or cold. And you tend to favor hourly workers over people that pay hourly wages.

Well, if that`s the case, we should be motivated, because it`s been an extraordinary year. And I think he pointed that out, and pointed it out quite effectively.

The other thing he`s right about, I said on Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, all I know that they`re for is relitigating the 2020 election and getting back at Jamie Raskin. I can`t figure out one other thing that the Republican Party stands for. I really can`t.


MELBER: Yes, I mean, that comes through...


MELBER: ... because the president was very effective at saying, yes, there is obstruction. Yes, there are rules that are unfair. Yes, we`re trying to change it.

But it all reveals, as he -- an argument he made that you just made, it reveals a Republican Party that`s out of ideas, vindictive, and literally, by its own membership -- he quoted the guy who didn`t want to run for Senate saying, why would I, as a Republican, want to join the do-nothing caucus to sit around and do nothing and bide our time, as if that`s a worthwhile thing, when we`re up against these big problems?

I want to play another part for you, James, as we kind of get your breakdown, and now knowing you didn`t watch the whole thing, because what you`re really saying is...


MELBER: ... you`re not a news nerd. You`re not a news nerd. You hang out with us.


MELBER: But you won`t go the full two hours. That`s fine.

CARVILLE: I got you all to tell me what he says, so why do I go to the trouble?


MELBER: That`s fair.

And, by the way, a bunch of BEAT producers worked together. We did monitor the whole thing, and we are showing the newsworthy parts. So, that`s fair. That`s our job.

This was a really interesting point where, if anything, people would love for Joe Biden to spill the beans. He`s definitely trying to be strategic, and not just embarrass people. So he`s referring to private conversations. He knows these Republican senators. He served with many of them for such a long time.

He says, on his honor, five secretly said: I`d love to vote with you. I do agree with what you want to do for America. But I am afraid of being primaried and losing my job. Take a look.


BIDEN: I have had five Republican senators talk to me, "bump into me" -- quote, unquote -- or sit with me who have told me that they agree with whatever I`m talking about for them to do. "But, Joe, if I do it, I`m going to get defeated in the primary."

We have got to break that. It`s got to change.

QUESTION: Those five Republican senators are?

BIDEN: Sure.

No, are you kidding me?


BIDEN: I maintain confidentiality.


MELBER: James?

CARVILLE: Well, there`s one thing that everybody`s forgetting here. It`s a four-year term, all right? This is not a parliamentary thing where you can have a vote of no confidence.

And we have a favorable Senate map coming up in 2022. So, as opposed to Manchin and Senator -- Senator Manchin and Sinema do what they`re going to do. Why don`t we try to have 53 Democratic senators, which is eminently possible, all right, and try to hold onto the House, instead of thinking that everything ends with this Congress?

And, at some point, we`re going to have to do that. I mean, there is going to be an election. I`m not in favor of throwing in the towel on it. We got some -- we got a favorable map. It is not so favorable in 2024. And you can get a lot done. I`m not -- I`m not willing to give up on the election.

And I don`t think that -- President Biden demonstrated today he`s not willing to give up on it. And if we start setting -- laying these markers down and talking about the things we got, as opposed to moaning about, whining about the stuff we didn`t get there, then we will do a lot better.


CARVILLE: And a lot of smart people think you could have 3 percent unemployment come November. Well, if that`s the case, I will go to post with that.


And I`m not going to replay it. This is one we chose not to replay. But I did want to get you on the record. There was a kind of a little bit of a cowardly, scurrilous individual affiliated with Newsmax who got up to the mic because it went so long, and clearly they were taking all questions.

And he tried to impugn the president`s mental abilities in a question. I was just curious your response to all of that?

CARVILLE: How -- I can`t -- I`m 77. I couldn`t do an hour-and-50-minute interview with you, all right?


CARVILLE: I wouldn`t have the stamina, all right? And you are I are kind of friends, all right?

I sit there and listen to these idiots pontificating in the White House?


CARVILLE: It`s just -- it`s stunning.

But I think the president made the point by sitting there and just sort of doing it. And it -- he looks ludicrous. And, sometimes, you got to let -- you got to give your opponent some rope, and the guy took the rope, and he`s hanging from the tree right now. He made an idiot of himself.

And that`s fine. I don`t have any problem with that. But, again, it was a - - I thought remarkable -- like, every Democrat is saying, does Biden get out there, and I`m so nervous. I don`t know what he`s going to say.

Well, watch all hour and 52 minutes. And he was -- he was very, very to the point. And I just saw -- I saw somebody saying, OK, I`m going to take this damn thing over.

MELBER: Right. Yes.

CARVILLE: And that`s -- I saw like a quarterback coming in and saying, all right, let`s get in the huddle. This is what we`re going to do. You run a post route. You run a hook route. You do this. And let`s get going and stop debating.


And I thought that was very, very encouraging going forward for -- for President Biden and the Democrats. I hope he stays with it. I hope he stays engaged and in charge like he was today. And I think it`s -- like I say, he planted an oak tree.


CARVILLE: Let`s water it and help him and get this thing to grow.

MELBER: James Carville breaking it all down.

I will use tonight to make the special announcement that James and I will be going around the country. We`re going to do these hour-and-52-minute live town hall events.


MELBER: Right, James? You`re ready for that?

CARVILLE: I`m ready for it. I got to get something to keep me up. That`s a long time.

MELBER: Yes. There will be coffee on the stage.


MELBER: I`m kidding.

Sometimes, on TV, people don`t know when I`m kidding. That was a joke. It`s not a real announcement.

CARVILLE: No, I know you. Yes, he`s kidding.

MELBER: No, I know you now.



MELBER: James Carville, on a big news night, always good to see you. Thanks for your wit, your insights, your patience.

And we will be right back.


MELBER: A long and detailed presidential press conference, international news, domestic spending debates, a new Supreme Court ruling, a lot going on right now.

So, thanks for spending some time with us on THE BEAT for it.

And it`s a lot of news that I bet will be dealt with effectively on "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID."