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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 1/21/21

Guests: Frank Rich, Michael Moore, Libby Casey, Daniella Gibbs Leger

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER, who had a very late night, starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: How did you know about that, Nicolle? Weren`t you asleep?

WALLACE: I can`t hear you, but I`m glad to see you upright.

I know you had a longer...

MELBER: Oh, no.


WALLACE: ... than me. So, nice to see you, my friend.

MELBER: Nice to see Nicolle. Thank you very much.

Sometimes, we have those audio issues. I was joking with her because she worked a very long day.

WALLACE: I got it. I hear you now. I hear you now. You sound great.


WALLACE: They get their money`s worth out of all of us.

MELBER: I was just saying, Nicolle, I was saying, I don`t know how you knew, because I hope and trust you were asleep by then.

WALLACE: Well I keep an eye on my -- especially my time slot neighbors. I know. I`m watching you.


MELBER: Nothing escapes you. Well, it was an interesting, newsworthy time, to be sure.

WALLACE: Sure was.


MELBER: So, good to be with you. I will see you soon, Nicolle.

I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

I`m joining you on January 21, 2021, a day that marks President Biden`s first full day in office and exactly one year since the first coronavirus case hit the U.S., which defines President Biden`s focus today. He is bringing the full powers of the federal government to finish the fight against COVID, rather than sidelining science or experts.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will make sure that science and public experts -- scientists and public health experts will speak directly to you. That`s why you`re going to be hearing a lot more from Dr. Fauci again, not from the president, but from the real genuine experts and scientists.


MELBER: That is a direct statement. It`s obviously a contrast. And Dr. Fauci spoke himself quite bluntly about what he views as a welcome contrast in this new Biden era.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is, and know that`s it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling.


MELBER: A liberating feeling, says the doctor who has served so many presidents.

This new administration is now doing effectively a standing jump on the COVID issues because the prior administration left no vaccine distribution plan whatsoever.

That`s according to a new CNN report. The president countering that with immediate executive actions, 10 separate orders that tackle COVID policy, which include fast-tracking the vaccine rollout.

Another contrast today comes at the intersection of COVID safety and immigration, President Biden deploying his power over immigration in order to do something. He is immediately ending one of the previous president`s most controversial policies, an immigration rule that was initially sold as a ban on Muslims, which morphed into a sweeping ban on migrants from several countries with high Muslim populations, which drew immediate and huge protests, you may recall, in 2017.

And it did not make America safer over four years, according to many security experts.

Well, President Biden not only ended that, but he is now replacing it with something the prior administration did not bother to do, deploying federal powers to protect Americans from the spread of COVID by now requiring visitors from other nations, not just in one region either, but all nations, have to prove they recently tested negative for COVID in order to get into the U.S. in the first place.

Now, experts stress America has much work left to contain COVID. But even some of these seemingly basic steps, like restricting visits from people who are COVID-positive, will help speed a mission that was often hobbled at the highest levels.

We begin now with Dr. Natalie Azar, rheumatologist with NYU Langone Hospital, Daniella Gibbs Leger from the center for American progress and co-host of "The Tent" podcast and "Washington Post" reporter Libby Casey.

Good evening to all of you.

Doctor, there is much to get into, starting with the notion of confirming that people don`t test positive, that they`re not basically having COVID or symptomatic as they come to the U.S. Where does that fit in to this entire new COVID plan?

And as well, I`m sure we`re all interested in your thoughts on what Dr. Fauci said.

DR. NATALIE AZAR, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think the travel thing is just one piece of a very complicated puzzle. It`s not foolproof. As you all know by now, you can test negative and then be exposed.

But I think it`s just one in a series of different defenses that are being triggered by the Biden administration. You know, I think that some themes that have emerged are transparency, accountability, certainly equity, and that is making sure that communities of color and more disenfranchised folks or people living in rural areas will have access to the vaccine.

You know, I think the overarching message is that this is really going to be a cross-governmental, cross-sectoral approach. That is, you`re going to have federal resources, in conjunction with industry and commercial resources, such as commercial pharmacies, really on all-hands-on-deck approach in order to bring the pandemic to an end.

And Fauci?

AZAR: Specifically, on how -- now that he has been unshackled, if you will, and is now our spokesperson? Yes, well, that`s it.


MELBER: Yes. I mean -- yes, I mean, to your...

AZAR: It is such a relief.

As I was listening to him talk, I was thinking to myself, yes, we always do want to lead with science. Of course, we do. And even within science, it`s OK to have a conversation and disagreements and discourse, but at least let it be at the level of the experts and the scientists judging the merits of a study, rather than just making things up.

MELBER: Yes, it was striking coming from him. He has the credibility.

It`s no disrespect to the new president, Daniella, to note that Dr. Fauci has higher public trust than both the new president, who has a higher bipartisan trust in the numbers we get, and then the previous president, who was very low.

Dr. Fauci has to feel pretty liberated in order to even say he is liberated.



I pleaded that he looks at least 10 years younger today. It was striking how freeing he was up there. And it was wonderful to just hear him speak and know that he wasn`t being muzzled and know that he felt like he could just actually tell the truth and tell the American people what`s going on with COVID.

I know we`re only one full day into the Biden presidency, but already the change has just been absolutely remarkable. And it`s a stark reminder that what we went through the last four years was not normal, in terms of what we saw from that podium, the lies, the mistruths, the hiding, the not having any briefings from the COVID Task Force as the pandemic raged out of control. That`s not normal.

What we`re going to be seeing over the next couple of weeks and months is normal.

MELBER: Libby, you are a reporter who has covered more than one administration, more than one transition. Your thoughts on all of the above, as well as what is today this first full day of a new Biden era?

LIBBY CASEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I mean, seeing Dr. Fauci up there was so striking for its normalcy.

And the fact that we hadn`t seen a briefing on this COVID crisis since November by the Trump administration is not surprising, but it is shocking. And just seeing the federal coordination and the Biden administration getting ready to use FEMA, right?

This is like a no-brainer, something that people have been talking about doing for months, to try and get these vaccination centers really set up, working closely with the pharmacies as they`re ready to transition from servicing the long-term care facilities, getting HHS really involved to get more people able to get out the vaccines, right, figuring out what the best plan is.

If you`re getting people out of retirement, if you`re -- how are you mobilizing the military, these very basic tools that it is astounding to realize they haven`t been part of the portfolio that the Trump administration was using.

And so, in one sense, if you were just plopped down into this, you would think, well, this is a very reasonable, perhaps even modest game plan. But when you contrast it with what`s come before, it is such a departure from what we have seen.

Now, we did see President Biden pressed a little bit and Jen Psaki pressed on this question of, are you setting too modest of a goal when it comes to getting these 100 million vaccines out there? And they`re begging off on that a little bit and trying to contrast themselves with what the Trump administration was able to do.

The question is, can they do more, but is it better to set modest expectations and then exceed those expectations, rather than looking like you`re falling short?

Just the scattershot approach to what has been happening across the states is shocking. And I`m sure we can all speak from the personal experience of knowing some people in some states that have had success qualifying and other people in other states who haven`t.

And this is not a full federal takeover, which made some governors nervous and some Republicans nervous. This is just trying to get more of the tools on the table, the federal tools on the table employed in this moment.

MELBER: Yes, all important points.

Dr. Azar, as always, thank you for giving us the scientific perspective off the top.

Our other two experts stay.

And we bring into the mix professor from Morgan State University Jason Johnson.

Now, Jason, I just heard Libby say it`s not a full federal takeover, but, in a political sense, you could also argue the break`s over, and it is a takeover, because the Democrats...


MELBER: ... have pressed on here through the House, the Senate and the White House. Your thoughts.

JOHNSON: Yes, don`t call it a comeback. They have been competent for years. They just couldn`t do it when you had Donald Trump running the country.

Ari, the most amazing thing today was not just the last of scandals but seeing functional government again. I spent part of the afternoon watching members of Congress debate the waiver to allow Lloyd Austin to be the secretary of defense.

No one screamed. No one accused someone else of not being an American citizen. It`s how government works. It`s Joe Biden coming in and firing the general counsel of the Labor Relations Board because he really wasn`t in favor of labor.

This is how a functioning government is supposed to look. It`s not boring. It`s not less sexy. It`s comforting. It`s competent. And I think, for all the promises that Joe Biden made about how he was going bring back the good years of this government, today is a real indicator that he knows what he`s doing by both addressing crisis and long-term domestic things that we`re concerned about.


And for Jason and the entire panel, most Americans who are watching the news today probably saw a good bit of the inauguration as it happened.

I think there are many reasons why Ms. Gorman was such a standout moment, how much she packed into what was actually just five minutes out of the whole day and how it echoes. We have been tracking metrics in a number of ways. Her books have shot to the top of the entire Amazon national bestseller list, even though poetry books are rarely in the top 20.

And so, I did want to play a bit of that for everyone as we reflect on this today. Take a look.


AMANDA GORMAN, FIRST NATIONAL YOUTH POET LAUREATE: Somehow, we have weathered and witnessed a nation that isn`t broken, but simply unfinished.

While democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.


MELBER: Starting with Jason, what did it mean to you, and why did it resonate so immediately with so many?

JOHNSON: I love that she said that democracy is unfinished, right?

It`s the idea that you can try to have a restorative administration, but the promise of this country to provide equal opportunity for all the citizens here has not just been accomplished. I thought it was amazing.

And, also, I will say this. The first inauguration I ever went to was Maya Angelou in `92. I was a kid. We had school off. We were all able to go and Washington, D.C.

And to see another African American woman who was wearing a brooch that she was given by Oprah which had a caged bird from Maya Angelou delivering a speech, it was almost sort of a full circle of restorative presidencies after right-wingers.

And that was Bill Clinton in 1992. As much as people may criticize him, it was still restorative after Bush. And to see this with Biden, it was a fantastic speech symbolically and substantively.

MELBER: Well, was it not Maya Angelou who said, I know why the caged bird sings, but I don`t know why Lady Gaga`s bird is so oversized?


JOHNSON: It was pure...


MELBER: I don`t if anybody saw. It was...

JOHNSON: That`s pretty much what it was.


MELBER: OK, the Lady Gaga bird -- I`m not an expert on fashion, but it was -- what do they call it, a brooch? Is it a brooch? Anybody know?

JOHNSON: I thought it was mockingjay.


MELBER: Brooch for 100? A pin? A pin?


MELBER: Whatever it was, it was a huge bird.


MELBER: Is it? OK.

JOHNSON: It was a lot, yes.


MELBER: Daniella, you don`t have to trifle with my dad jokes on a day as important as today, but your thoughts on all of the above.


GIBBS LEGER: Lady Gaga does nothing in small measure, and we should all know that by now, OK?



GIBBS LEGER: I thought that poem -- that poem was so amazing.

And it just -- again, it reminded me of everything that we have been through for the last four years and how cathartic it was to see Joe Biden and Kamala Harris become president, and a reminder, like Jason said, that democracy isn`t finished.

And I questioned many times over the last four years whether the bones of our democracy were strong enough to withstand the weight of Donald Trump. And the jury is still out. We will see. But I left that inauguration with her poem feeling more hope and joy and optimism than I had felt in years. She`s just phenomenal.

MELBER: Libby, your thoughts on what it meant and why it was important and clearly a deliberate part of what the Biden administration wanted to do in this ceremony to hear from this young woman at a time where it`s 2021, it`s the first time we have ever had a woman in this high of a line to become president?

And in party politics, if you`re a vice president in good standing, you are generally the heir apparent to run when it`s your turn, so, really, the first time one can credibly argue that there is a real path for a woman all the way to the top in the context of that poem.

Your thoughts.

CASEY: Yes, just seeing this 22-year-old strong, beautiful, artistic, brilliant young woman delivering this poem, an African-American 22-year-old on this day when we were seeing the first black Asian woman vice president sworn in, it was just like that moment when we saw Kamala Harris give that fist bump to former President Obama and have a moment with Michelle Obama, this acknowledgment of history in the making, a history that for a lot of Americans feels long overdue, but is finally here.

Amanda Gorman, she acknowledged pain and the difficult past of America, but she did talk of optimism. This line, she was saying, there is always light, if only we`re brave enough to see it.

And what we saw in the Trump administration was, at the very end, with the 1776 Commission they had, essentially a denial of history and a desire to paper over America`s complicated and very painful past.

MELBER: Right.

CASEY: And so we`re turning a page to acknowledgment of what America`s been through, in the past two weeks, even, in the past four years, but also in the past 400 years.

MELBER: Right. Yes.

All very important context.

I have a little bit of something else for you, Jason. It`s hard to go from a high-arcing poet to something a little more petty, and who knows why I picked you to respond to it. Maybe it`s just random. Maybe it was just your turn. No one really knows.


JOHNSON: I`m ready for it.

MELBER: Take a look at a different type of poetry from a well-known Trump critic, of course, Stephen Colbert.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Take him away. We here at "The Late Show" have been counting down to this day for four long years.

Tonight, the number on the dome has counted down to one.



MELBER: Jason?


JOHNSON: Look, the level of joy that this country has that -- I won`t even say his name -- that the previous president and his entire family is basically gone and gone into exile into Florida is a joy that people will be experiencing for years.

Stephen Colbert is not going to be the last one. Like, there is just -- there is -- it`s a scene out of "The Wiz," just brand-new day, people just dancing in the streets, that we not just have a new president, but that the old one is gone.

And you hear that sound? It`s nothing. Nothing on Twitter. It`s just peace. And Colbert is all of us in this particular moment.

MELBER: A great and interesting way to kick off tonight`s special edition of THE BEAT.

Jason, Daniella, and Libby, thank you.

We have our shortest break, just 30 seconds.

On tonight`s program, we have Michael Moore, Biden`s 100-day list, and why the Democratic majority may be larger than you know.

But, first, Frank Rich -- in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Of the many observations that are relevant right now with Washington changing, there is one that`s quite simple, but is somehow often forgotten.

In many elections, America is far more blue than red for a very long time. More Americans voted for the candidate running against Donald Trump than for him twice, and some of the mood, the euphoria -- and we heard it from even some of our guests a moment ago, and we saw it in the streets the moment this all went down that Saturday when the race was called -- that elation, not just on the left, but in many parts of the country, is a piece of that.

It was a long uphill fight. But, for many structural reasons, Republicans have benefited politically from an electoral advantage that is larger than their actual numbers. Think about the total vote in, say, the past eight presidential elections.

The Republican candidate got more votes in 2004. OK, you see that. But then the Democrat got more votes in 2020 with Biden, but also in 2016 and in 2012, plus 2008, also back in 2000, or 1996, or also 1992.

It`s quite a list when you look at recent elections. In seven of the last eight, Democratic candidates have won more votes from Americans. And that`s come in times good and bad, recession or not, foreign policy crisis or not.

It`s a reminder that Joe Biden is riding a larger crest of what is often a very blue country, even if structural reasons sometimes make that hard to see.

For a special conversation now on this first full day of the Biden era, we turn to the Emmy Award-winning writer and journalist Frank Rich, writer at large with "New York Magazine," executive producer of HBO`s "Veep," currently executive producer of HBO`s "Succession," which I rewatched in quarantine, and, of course, a longtime writer for "The New York Times" back in the day.

We wanted something special here on this first day, and you obliged. Thank you for making time, Frank.

FRANK RICH, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": Well, thank you, Ari.

That put a lot of pressure on me. I don`t have a poem, for instance.

But I am -- I have to say, I share completely in the previous guests` enthusiasm about the inauguration. I thought it was the only one, I think, in my lifetime that I have seen as a cognizant person that really spoke to me and really moved me. And I say this even though at the center of it is Joe Biden, who is not particularly poetic or someone that people get emotional about.

He is a kind of nuts-and-bolts legislator and politician. But it`s an incredible opportunity now before him to -- I hate to use the word historic, but he has this kind of FDR moment, where he can prove the Democratic theory that government can work and actually benefit people, and at a time of enormous crises that we don`t have to reiterate, but starting, obviously, with the pandemic and the economic distress that`s going on right now.

MELBER: Do you think it`s important that Democrats really lean into the mandate I mentioned, that there are all sorts of complexities to elections in the United States, but the overwhelming sweep has been this blue direction?

RICH: Yes, I think they should lean into it.

I think that one of the things that I liked about what Biden did in the inauguration, and, frankly, since the election is project confidence and actual belief in core principles of his party, at a time when they`re really needed and at a time, of course, also when democracy has been so betrayed by the previous administration.

And I think they have to lean in. I think the Democrats should lean into it, not only as a political matter, but also as a patriotic matter, because the fact is, there is a terrorist white supremacist movement in this country. It has a hold in the other political party.

It actually has representatives on the floor of Congress. And so it`s an urgent matter that they lean in, just as you said.

MELBER: I`m curious to get your views as well on how we`re already seeing this new era play out, with such high stakes that you just alluded to.

It`s revealing to see how Republicans are dealing. Take a look at Senator Ted Cruz.

Everyone knows, on January 6, after the insurrection, he was leading the charge to overthrow the election, objecting to Pennsylvania`s electors, which, among other things, would disenfranchise that state`s voters.

Now Cruz is attacking a reason to reenter a climate agreement, saying it shows Joe Biden cares more about, guess what, Paris than Pittsburgh, although it was Cruz trying to disenfranchise Pittsburgh and then some in PA.

Or House Leader McCarthy. He also voted to overthrow the race, trying to eliminate Biden`s electors. Here he is today calling Biden divisive.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Those executive orders he are sign -- is signing are partisan. That`s dividing. And I`m afraid that, looking at this administration, if this is the start, what more is there to come?


MELBER: Frank?

RICH: These guys are seditionists. They tried to overthrow a fair and honest democratic election.

For them now to talk about division, political division, or to call for unity, another track they have been on since January 6, it`s so bogus on its face, and it`s also noise that I think should be tuned out and I think is being tuned out by the Biden administration.

If McCarthy and Cruz and Josh Hawley are in a sort of death march to take over the Trump base of the Republican Party, I think that`s the Republican Party`s problem, not the Democrats` problem, as they actually try to govern. And just let these people -- because the Republican Party, it`s quite divided.

And they have got a problem. And they have got a problem with some of their donors, which is important to them. And they have got ideological divisions, as much as they want to talk about Democrat ideological divisions, which have been, at least for the moment, somewhat papered over.

So, I would say just ignore them and full speed ahead on 100 days of some kind of neo-New Deal, if you will, for the Biden government.

MELBER: And given how much writing you have done as a journalist about truth and power, and then what`s also so interesting to people who are -- who like your other work, the work you have contributed to on "Veep" and "Succession," and just how sort of propaganda and oratory works or bends or breaks human psyches, if you will, your thought on how direct the current government, the new administration should try to embrace what it can do as being more trustworthy?

Not that we give any fealty to the word of the government automatically. That`s not really the Constitution`s vision, with a muscular fourth estate, but that there should be common facts.

How important is that do you think in this project? Because it`s something Biden and his new press secretary have clearly emphasized yesterday and today.

RICH: Yes, they have emphasized it. I think that`s great. I hope they keep to it.

I don`t think there has ever been a president of the United States who`s not -- who`s incapable of spin. There will be times when they won`t be completely truthful, I suspect. But I think, on the things that matter, they have to be, and particularly things like science and our relationship with Russia, across the board.

And they`re fortunate, in that they`re taking over from the most dishonest, almost Stalinist propaganda machine in the history at least of modern American government. There has been nothing like it. And I include things like the incredible Bush WMD push and the mission accomplished. Those were brilliant propaganda moves.

But they were pikers compared to the Trump people. And I get the sense the Biden people want to be honest, they want to deal in facts. I`m sure they will sway occasionally, and we have to call them out on it. But I`m hoping that that remains the goal. And they -- and I don`t see any reason to believe that they don`t want to fulfill it.

MELBER: All really interesting perspective, which is why we wanted to come to you on this truly big day.

Frank Rich, nice to see you. Thank you, sir.

RICH: Good to see you, Ari. Thank you.

MELBER: Thanks, Frank.

Coming up: accountability. The FBI now arresting new key figures regarding the Capitol insurrection.

While Democrats want to go big as Biden takes power, we have another special guest on this first full day of a new era.


MELBER: Tonight, the FBI making new arrests in the insurrection, an ever- widening and sometimes eclectic array of suspects.

A leader of the Proud Boys group now arrested in Florida. The feds note he and others were -- quote -- "wearing a earpiece" or some other communication device, suggesting a very high level of criminal conspiracy.

Also, a doctor who is part of a fringe group pushing false COVID claims arrested. She also met with Vice President Pence in July. Today, a federal judge also releasing a woman suspected of stealing Pelosi`s laptop. She has been sent home to be with her mother.

House Democrats, meanwhile, asking the FBI to probe whether and how right- wing social media apps like Parler have been involved.

The speaker gave this warning as well to any lawmakers who may have crossed the line:


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): There is no question that there were members in this body who gave aid and comfort to those with the idea that they were embracing a lie, a lie perpetrated by the president of the United States.

We will have an after-action review. There will be prosecution if they aided and abetted an insurrection in which people died.


MELBER: This is an ongoing and important process, one that we have reported on and informed you will take a long time to do right.

We just showed you a little bit of the updates on the law enforcement arrests, as well as the tricky question of what to do if -- if -- there is evidence that supports the idea that people in the government committed any potential crime or coordination.

There is also a reckoning for the much larger group of individuals who may sympathize with lies, but, of course, we`re not suggesting automatically have done any crime by virtue of their beliefs.

There are new signs today of shock, disillusionment, and even despair that Donald Trump is not president today, because, apparently, people believed him when he said he would be.

A Trump supporter showing up at what he thought would be a major protest at the New York state Capitol, as you can see here, finding himself essentially alone. Members of the fringe conspiracy group QAnon saying online -- quote -- "It`s obvious now we have been had. No plan, no Q, nothing."

It is a different type of reckoning, a factual one.

I`m going fit in a break.

But we have a lot more in the program, including why Senator Sanders went viral for some very funny reasons at the inaugural, memes we think you do need to see tonight, and what some are calling a stunning return to normalcy of the Biden administration, and how progressives are gearing up to do things that could help your family pocketbook.

Michael Moore is back live on THE BEAT next.



BIDEN: Our national strategy is comprehensive. It`s based on science, not politics. It`s based on truth, not denial, and it`s detailed.

Our goal of administering 100 million shots in our first 100 days in office. We`re on day one. I`m committed to getting it done.


MELBER: President Biden speaking about his priorities in these 100 days to kick off the administration, including dealing with the pandemic and the economy.

I`m joined now by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker and well-known political activist Michael Moore. He is the host of the podcast "Rumble with Michael Moore" and was an ardent supporter of Joe Biden once he won the nomination.

Good to see you, sir.


And thank you so much for having me on to take a look back at the Biden years and how it went so far. It`s...



MELBER: Are you making -- are you doing chronological humor, Michael?

MOORE: No. No.


MOORE: But wouldn`t that be great?

I like -- I was communicating with Bill Maher last night, and I wrote to him. I said: "Man, it`s been 12 hours and no comedy."


MOORE: It`s just like, we`re going to have to get used to this. I`d rather have it without the comedy, frankly. So, don`t get me wrong.

MELBER: That`s fair.

MOORE: But, no, I think that...


MELBER: Yes, there may be many things that have to be traded.

Let me -- Michael, let me ask it this way, though.

MOORE: Yes. Yes, yes.

MELBER: When you look at what the president just said there, and the twin crucibles of the pandemic and the recession and so many issues you have worked on, what`s on your mind on those policies and the challenge?

MOORE: Well, I`m going download and print out the 198-page book that he was holding up there, the one with the blue cover.

I`m going to figure out -- I`m low on blue ink, frankly, in my printer. So, like, that`s really going to take up most of the blue.

But I want to read -- seriously I want to read this. This is the first thing he has do. If he succeeds at this, if he succeeds in getting everybody vaccinated, as Dr. Fauci hoped for, as he said today, by the end of the summer, and if we have mandated masks and social distancing -- now, I know he says it`s only on federal properties.

But the number one employer in the United States of America is the federal government. And when you count all federal employees, plus postal employees, plus the military, you have got something like 25 million people.

That`s a lot. If just that is done, if just 25 million have to wear masks, and if you enter the federal buildings, you`re on federal property, you to wear masks, that`s a great thing.

We will have a fighting chance to be done with this pandemic this year if he is able to -- and I mean he really has to sort of FDR, General Patton this thing to pull this off, because this is what New Zealand did. This is what -- the countries that got rid of the problem for the most part, this is how they had to handle it.

And we`re going to have to all join in together, all of us. That`s the unity he is talking about, all of us. We want to stop the dying.

MELBER: And let me -- let me -- that`s very interesting points you make, particularly what that muscular leadership can do.

Let me take to it another issue you care about in the context of how less potential chaos in the federal government allows, in many tangible ways, more focus on what people are going through. And, boy, have people been through the ringer.

MOORE: That`s right.

MELBER: You have been advocating for different types of debt relief for people who followed the rules, went to school, and now are going through a pandemic, where the arguments for something fair are even stronger.

Let`s take a brief look at that for your reaction, as Biden talks up the issue. Take a look.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The pandemic has also increased the hardship on millions of Americans who owe federal student loans.

In response, the president asks the Department of Education to extend the pause on student loan payments and interest.


MELBER: You see on one side of the screen the pause is a start.


MELBER: On the other, there are many both nonpartisan experts, as well as liberals, if you want to talk politics, saying to do even more for these individuals.

Your thoughts on all of that?

MOORE: So, you`re going to drag me into talking about politics. OK, fine.


MELBER: It happens.

MOORE: I have to say, I have felt so good these last 24 hours. It`s -- am I on some pink cloud, some kind of high?

I mean, look, remember, I supported Bernie, and I traveled. A year ago this week, I was on the road with Bernie.

MELBER: Wait. Wait a minute.


MOORE: And then we all got behind Joe.

MELBER: Michael, real quick.


MELBER: Michael.


MELBER: Do people who watch MSNBC know this about you? Or are you making news? Is this a known thing?

MOORE: Well, you brought up politics, and I`m thinking, well, OK, maybe I should just...


MOORE: I -- first of all, the woman who stole Nancy Pelosi`s laptop, or allegedly stole it, what does she think is on there?

Trust me, the only thing that`s on Pelosi`s laptop is -- she`s the one that probably started the memes on Bernie with the mittens and everything. That`s about -- that`s all I`m going to give her on that, but...

MELBER: Well, it`s a great meme.

Let me focus you.

MOORE: It`s a -- yes.

MELBER: I`m going give you the mic back, but let me focus you.

You said it`s politics. And everything`s got to get done through a political world. But, really, I`m asking you about people. Biden says he cares about these people and helping student debt. I have no reason to disbelieve him.

MOORE: Yes, I believe he does. Yes.

MELBER: And then Schumer -- and Schumer and Warren are pushing further.

But it`s about what should be done for people who, especially through no fault of their own in this pandemic, have crippling debt.

MOORE: Nobody should be evicted. Nobody should be foreclosed on during this time.

They should receive help from the federal government. We need to -- we have -- we learned -- one thing we learned at the beginning of the pandemic is that we have the money to do whatever we want to do, and we should be doing it to help people.

And if it were me, I would forgive these student loans and get out of the student loan business. He`s already said that he supports public colleges being -- of tuition being free. So, let`s push toward that.

Let`s have a health care system. Everybody should be covered. We`re in a pandemic. Announce universal health care. We will sort out how we`re going continue it when we get through this pandemic.

But, for now, nobody should worry about going to the doctor or being in huge trouble. I saw this one hospital chain that is suing people who have been in the hospital for COVID? No, wrong message.

And that`s not who we are. So, yes, we should be doing all these things right now, fighting for these things. And I honestly believe this about Biden. You know, my parents were like him. They went to mass every morning.

And it`s something I -- of course, I never did. But people like that, I know him. I don`t know him personally, but I know that he wants to start his day in a place of moral fortitude, where he will live that day doing what he believes is the right and just thing.

This is a good thing for the rest of us. And it`s why I believe that -- OK, so let`s say he doesn`t support Medicare for all or whatever, which they shouldn`t call it that anymore anyways. It should be called Canadian health care or what would Jesus do health care or something like that.

But any bill that comes across his desk that`s going to help people, that`s going to improve their wages, get them their jobs back, any of this stuff, he`s going to sign it.

So, Schumer and Nancy need to do their job to get these things through, and we have to eliminate the filibuster. The filibuster does not exist in any country that calls itself a democracy. That has to stop.

It`s -- there is a vote, and the winner is 50 percent plus one. That`s a democracy. They have to get rid of that, and they cannot let the Republicans stop any of this.

Everything Frank Rich said, I agree. And these are seditionists. They have a sedition caucus. They have to be brought up, and they have to answer for what they did. But they have got to start right now by taking the head off the snake. And that was Donald J. Trump.

He has to answer for his actions, or we will see more insurrections in the years to come, because they will say, well, look at what happened. Nothing. Nothing happened.


MOORE: Something has to happen to all the Republicans who participated in this.


MOORE: And I just -- I think that, if the Democrats will be strong, and if this -- their idea of reaching across the aisle, the only reaching -- we`re the victims of Trump, this whole -- our whole society.

The only thing that should be done is by the Republicans reaching across. If they want unity, here is a way to have unity.

MELBER: Well, that`s a point to pause on.

MOORE: Seventeen Republicans join with the Democrats and convict Donald Trump.

MELBER: That`s a point to pause on, Michael, because I have got to -- and I -- and, boy, did I -- I listened.

But I have to cut in, because they`re telling me we have got other time before we will go to Joy Reid.


Yes. No, no, I`m so grateful you had me on here on this first day-and-a- half.

MELBER: It`s a big day.

MOORE: It`s a big day. And it`s a great moment for all of us.

And let`s build on it. Build back better.


And it`s interesting hearing you both speaking to what you see as the moral fiber of President Biden, who you supported, as well, as you put it, unity with strength, which is being open to unity, but if you know you`re right, telling people to come join you, if you have the votes to back it up.

Michael Moore, we will be seeing you again. Thanks for being here today.

MOORE: Thank you. Thanks so much, Ari.

MELBER: We heard Michael mention -- thank you.

We heard Michael mention how Bernie Sanders and the mittens went viral. This is one you got to see to believe. We have that and another important political update coming up.


MELBER: Now it`s time. It is time.

Let`s talk about it, Bernie Sanders absolutely breaking the Internet with his drip, his inauguration chic, his fashion look.

Now, here`s how it started. Sanders was spotted at the inauguration rocking these very understandably cozy mittens -- it`s cold -- and a big winter coat. And he was just hanging out, beautiful mittens, sitting there amidst a sea of dark suits.

So, while many people would go unnoticed, something about this and the whole physical distancing made people take notice and even made the rounds on late night.


COLBERT: The Vermont is strong with this one, in a parka and giant woolen mittens.

But notice the one part of his body that`s not covered? Bernie, what are you thinking? Don`t you know that 99 percent of your body heat escapes out the top 1 percent?

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": It looks like he`s about to scatter bread at a bunch of pigeons at the park.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": He showed up holding a manila envelope, as if he had an appointment at the DMV.

Sadly, Senator Sanders had to duck out early when his neighbor Larry called to say he found his hat.



MELBER: All right, I don`t always see these in advance. Some of the things, I look at in advance. But that`s really funny.

Now, the picture of Sanders just sitting there -- I mean, really. I get it. He was minding his own. But it took off online. Everyone`s been having fun with it.

And because the Internet`s creative, people went to town, reimagining Bernie in different situations, first channeling how some feel when office meetings could have literally been an e-mail. Now, that`s just the straight-up picture.

Then, someone poked fun at Bernie`s busy schedule, joking that Joe`s inauguration was a stop on his way to the post office with, of course, that envelope.

And then people took it farther, Bernie in the iconic photograph of lunch atop a skyscraper. You see him there. He`s warm enough. He`s chilling.

Bernie hitting the road with Guy Fieri. "Not me. Us."

Maybe, if you like to get a little more religious, Bernie with a fellow Jew at the Last Supper.

Or -- it had to happen -- Bernie all the way out in space. "One small meme for man, one giant leap for memekind." We love a good pun around here.

Or, if you`re more GOT, he stopped right into Winterfell. "Undefeated."

What might be one of our favorites here at THE BEAT, Bernie as Patrick Swayze in "Ghost" making pottery with Demi.

So, what does Bernie Sanders think about all this hubbub?


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): In Vermont, we dress warm. We know something about the cold. And we`re not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm.

And that`s what I did today.


MELBER: Not so concerned with good fashion.

I mean, the jokes write themselves, because the late-night -- the late- night satire of this is literally what Senator Sanders said. He is nothing if not on brand.

There were more memes that we even had time to show you tonight, so you can always find us online @AriMelber across social media. We will be sharing more of our favorites, including a bar mitzvah one.

We will be right back.



FALLON: ... you just lost 280 pounds?


COLBERT: Today felt like a return to normalcy.

KIMMEL: I don`t know about America yet, but I feel great again.

FALLON: It feels like the country is back.

Sure, the GPS took us on some crazy backroads for the last four years, but now we`re back on Main Street. And we can tell people we were lost.



MELBER: Tonight, the comics get the last word.

As always, thanks for spending time with us here on THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER. I will see you tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.