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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 1/4/22

Guests: Eric Boehlert, Peter Navarro

Summary

Former White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro discusses his plans to overturn the presidential election. The January 6 Committee requests an interview with FOX anchor Sean Hannity. The wealth gap and possible solutions are discussed.

Transcript

[18:00:45]

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And we`re tracking some big breaking news and a special guest tonight we have a live interview with a potential crucial witness in this January 6 probe.

But we begin with the breaking news, the January 6 Committee making news in a big way that bridges the Trump White House and the FOX News universe. This is brand-new, and we`re going to get into it for you.

It is setting its sights on FOX anchor Sean Hannity, late in the day here the committee formally asking for his voluntary cooperation with the probe. And that`s not all. Pursuant to this legal request, the panel has a new letter which is public, so we know exactly what they`re saying to Hannity, that -- quote -- "You had advanced knowledge regarding President Trump and his legal teams planning for January 6."

The panel also releasing a trove of selected texts, which, according to our sources here, which, to be clear, is this bipartisan congressional panel, this material from them says that Hannity was privately lobbying and warning top Trump officials and reportedly talking to Trump himself about what Hannity viewed as the problem coming straight to America and the Trump administration on January 6.

If that sounds different than what Sean Hannity sometimes has said in public, that`s because it is.

Now, this is brand-new stuff. In fact, as we do sometimes around here, we like the documents. We have them. They`re interesting. Let me give you some highlights before I bring in our experts.

On the eve of the insurrection, Hannity wrote: "I`m very worried about the next 48 hours," this to a top Trump White House official as he was trying to get to Trump. The question is, why was Hannity so worried?

The panel also revealing new conversations that Hannity reportedly had with then-President Trump himself, because Hannity texted Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan -- this is a week before Trump left office -- saying: "Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in nine days. He," presumably Donald Trump, "can`t mention the election again ever. I did not have a good call with him today."

So what we`re seeing here is basically two things at once. Let me explain to you exactly what we think is happening. One, we have a letter that formally asks for Sean Hannity`s cooperation. Now, it says voluntary because he is a member of an organization that defines itself as a news organization.

And it is very tricky to try to get compulsory cooperation from anyone inside any news organization. So they have said voluntary. They talk about the First Amendment in here. And we can get to that.

But, number two -- that might be the law over here. The news over here is, in making this request, you have Congress basically blowing the whistle and revealing the type of texts you almost never see, certainly not in real time, between someone who claims to be a journalist, but also gives a lot of advice, as you can see from the texts.

He seems to be acting like a kind of a shadow quarterback, lobbying top officials, talking to the president, telling him what to do. And what`s interesting about that and goes towards a problem for Trump is, it seems that Sean Hannity thought that all the talk of overthrowing the election or staging any type of viral rally was a bad thing.

This is a remarkable development. And it`s a few weeks after one of the top officials on the committee, Liz Cheney, first revealed that Hannity and other FOX anchors were sending these kinds of texts to the White House before and during the riot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Multiple FOX News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately. They texted Mr. Meadows, and he has turned over those texts.

"Can he made a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol," Sean Hannity urged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That, we are now learning for the first time tonight, was just part of the trove.

And what`s in here is important as evidence. Evidence doesn`t have an opinion. Evidence doesn`t have a bias. Evidence is the actual reliable information in an investigation that, taken together with other information, can help fact-finders, in this case Congress or in other cases the prosecutors, try to figure out what the hell went down.

[18:05:08]

And what this evidence appears to suggest is that the people who supported Donald Trump the most and the most vocally and the most in public were privately very worried, because they thought he was being fed a pack of lies and pushed towards illegal activities, including a potential insurrection, which we know is what occurred.

I want to bring in our experts on a breaking story, because we`re all trying to make sense of it together. We`re doing this together.

I have "The New York Times"` Michelle Goldberg. I have Eric Boehlert, who follows FOX News very closely and is the editor of PressRun.media, and former Obama poster Cornell Belcher.

Michelle, I understand the kind of jump in the media and on the Internet to always say, well, didn`t we know some of this and, OK, so what? I`m curious, though, with an eye on the evidence, what you think about the fact that the Congress has found more receipts that suggest more people around Trump who were loyal to him, who agreed with his politics, thought he was headed towards doing very bad things on the 6th?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, something I think that I would really like to know specifically is, in one of those texts, Sean Hannity says something along the lines of, we can`t lose the entire White House Counsel`s Office.

He`s hinting, I think, there that Trump is going to ask the White House Counsel`s Office to do something that is going to cause them all to resign. And so just knowing what those plans are specifically is really important.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Michelle, let me just read that for your analysis. We have it up on the screen, so people can see the evidence, again, brand-new tonight -- quote -- "We can`t lose the entire White House Counsel`s Office," Hannity writes.

"I do, "all caps, "NOT see January 6 happening the way he`s being told."

Go ahead and walk us through your analysis.

GOLDBERG: Well, I was just going to say, first of all, what -- I mean, we have some idea of what he`s being told, right? We have seen the memo from John Eastman. We have seen the memos from other people who had this kind of quasi-legal or at least bureaucratic strategy to go along with the insurrectionary strategy, right?

They thought that, if they could delay the counting of the vote, there was something that they were going to accomplish with regards to the actual counting of the votes and certification of it.

But he`s clearly worried that Trump is going to ask the White House Counsel`s Office to do something that is going to cause them all to resign. And so what is that? That`s something we need to know.

At another point, as you mentioned, he says: I`m very worried about the next 48 hours.

Why? What does he think is going to happen,right? This isn`t just that he was appalled by the insurrection -- privately appalled by the insurrection, even though he doesn`t say publicly -- he`s never blame Trump for it publicly. It`s that he had some intimation that something menacing was coming down the pike.

MELBER: Very well put, and I appreciate your take on it, because, as I said, we`re making sense of it as we got it.

Eric, you watch more FOX News and have monitored Sean Hannity`s work and impact more than most people, including his loyal viewers. What do you see specifically here in the relationship between someone who obviously has the benefit of a media TV career, but is texting with the bravado and the quarterback power to rival almost anyone I have seen in any White House?

Cornell could speak to this, because he`s worked around government officials. But this guy doesn`t sound like a reporter. He doesn`t sound like a random donor. He sounds like he works every lever and knows exactly what Michelle just said, that, if they go too far breaking the law, they could have another Nixon-style mass resignation.

ERIC BOEHLERT, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, PRESSRUN.MEDIA: Yes.

Yes, the beauty, I think -- what I love is the, January 6 Commission is going to drag FOX News at every opportunity it has. I hope it happens all year, because it`s very revealing.

And, to your point, look, there was an old tradition, if you go back to FDR and JFK, of Washington columnists had the ear of the president off the record. They kind of worked as ad hoc advisers.

What is Hannity is doing is much different. When you get entangled in a criminal enterprise, which is what the Trump White House was engaged in, in terms of trying to stop Congress from certifying a legal election, then all bets are off.

And the joke was that Sean Hannity was really Trump`s fifth chief of staff over the years, and he did that just through television. Trump is so obsessed with watching cable TV, that he would much rather take his daily advice from someone at 9:00 at night or 8:00 at night or whatever.

In terms of Hannity being a journalist and he gets protections, I suppose he does. It is kind of a joke. I mean, he`s a journalist the way Alex Jones is a journalist, the way Rush Limbaugh was a journalist. Just because you get behind a microphone and spread lies, it doesn`t -- shouldn`t give you any protection.

But this is embarrassing for FOX News, not that they have any shame.

MELBER: Let me cut in.

[18:10:00]

BOEHLERT: But this puts them right in the middle of everything. And they - - and it`s embarrassing, because they`re a propaganda arm.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Eric, let me cut in on that. I will let you continue.

But I just -- again, I like to give everyone all the facts. And this is new stuff.

BOEHLERT: Sure.

MELBER: Again, the letter came out moments before we came on air.

Your view is, he`s not much of a journalist. I understand where you`re coming from.

As for what the Congress is doing, they`re not taking that position, just to be clear. They are saying that they have -- quote -- "immense respect" - - I`m just going to read this, so viewers can hear them, as well as you.

The Congress says, in this committee they have "immense respect for the First Amendment freedom of the press, and the rights of Americans to express their political opinions openly." And they say: "For that reason, we don`t intend to seek information from you regarding your broadcasts or radio or TV or your public reporting or your political views."

And then they go on to say they have an investigation to find the -- obligation to find the facts. And so my point here for viewers to understand -- then you could continue, including you`re welcome to criticize wherever you want -- free speech goes both ways -- but the Congress isn`t saying Hannity is a lesser reporter, and thus has to comply.

They`re saying that they believe he has information that`s germane, and they want him to voluntarily provide it.

BOEHLERT: Yes.

And I think it`s a smart move, because if they tried to subpoena him, it`s a dead end. Everybody knows a dead end. You`re not going to subpoena a journalist, and he would hide under that umbrella.

I think it was a very smart P.R. move, say, hey, just come forward, and we`re just going to spill all this information via the texts. I said, when the first text came out a couple of weeks ago, anyone who thinks these three texts from Hannity, Ingraham and the others of FOX News -- there were many.

And the back-and-forth was nonstop. And now we get a better view. Yes, we kind of knew FOX News was a propaganda arm. But, wow, it`s -- Hannity is literally planning or warning about the insurrection in real time.

MELBER: Cornell?

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, for me, Ari, it`s how is this going to land with the voters, right?

There`s a lot of information out here, and we keep getting breaking news, and a lot of different -- a lot of smoking -- a lot of smoke, right, and for voters to sort of piece this together. And it was a lot of polling out there which shows that it`s a real partisan split on what happened on January 6.

My question is, does more and more of this come out that, quite frankly, implicates so many different people, not only in the White House, but in the media, knew that there was a plan, and they were all in on a plan around January 6, they were all in on a plan, quite frankly, to try to overthrow a lawful election?

Does this begin to have more weight among voters? Because, right now, it seems that many voters are like, eh, I don`t know what`s happening here.

But I think, as more and more of this evidence comes out, and as more and more people are implicated, do Americans really start paying more attention? And do Americans really weigh this in their consideration in -- for voting in the next round of the midterms?

MELBER: Michelle, the other thing I`m curious about your interpretation is when Hannity says, again, in these newly leaked texts from the government - - quote -- "Trump can`t mention the election again ever," what`s he getting at there?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think he`s getting it that he wants Trump to stop talking about a stolen election and leave -- he wants some sort of a -- when he talks about landing the plane, he`s talking about a peaceful transition of power.

I think, at that point, they were a little bit worried about him getting either impeached or removed by the 25th Amendment. Again, what I think it shows is that, despite what Hannity says on television, he understood that the election was legitimate and that Trump lost it, right?

If he really believed that the election was stolen from Trump, he certainly wouldn`t be telling him to never speak of it again. And what`s so interesting here is that, although I think we all know that Sean Hannity, although he certainly should be protected by the First Amendment, in my view, is a propagandist.

But there`s still something so striking about the gap between what he says privately and what he says publicly, and just the journalistic failure of having that kind of scoop of understanding that the president of the United States is preparing to do something illegal to subvert the election, and not telling your audience about it, it`s such a sort of betrayal of his role, even if it`s a role that we all believe he doesn`t take very seriously.

MELBER: That`s such an incisive point you make, and it dovetails with -- again, it`s one of these nights where we`re getting a lot of news.

I`m just totally in my ear in the MSNBC Newsroom here, our producers, that Donald Trump was planning this big news conference at Mar-a-Lago on January 6, trying to seize attention or time or whatever.

The news breaking just now as we`re on the air that he is canceling that. An ex-president and politician who has sought many ways to seek attention, from his blogs, to his press appearances, backing down apparently or canceling that, that`s brand-new.

[18:15:03]

Before we go, I do want to play one piece of sound that speaks to exactly the point Michelle Goldberg was just reminding us, that, on the one hand, Sean Hannity appears to be the -- quote -- "concerned" or worried person in the room about the next 48 hours. That`s what he said. And the committee investigating this views that credibly.

At night and on air, he kept trying to distance what happened at the Capitol from Trump and from the Trump movement, even as his texts showed he was very much aware that it was what Donald Trump appeared to want. That`s what he seemed to be -- quote -- "worried about."

If he adds more detail on that, of course, we will report it. Here`s a little bit of Sean Hannity on air.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: People who acted violently today, they don`t represent the millions of law-abiding, hardworking, taxpaying citizens, responsible American patriots that are worried about election integrity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The text on the screen shows he was actually asking the very person who he thought could call the shots, Donald Trump, to get those people, those Trump supporters summoned by Trump to stop the violence.

That`s perhaps a coda on this story that will keep going.

I want to thank Michelle and Eric for kicking us off.

Cornell comes back.

Later tonight, we actually have -- and we didn`t plan it this way because we didn`t know this news was breaking, but I have an interview with a potential key witness in that probe who knows a lot about the Trump era.

And COVID breaking new records. President Biden says they have more they can do and there is a way out.

We also have an Obama insider tonight on Joe Biden`s hopes for the new power play against McConnell, apparently, liberals winning, this tactical question as Schumer wants to end part of the filibuster.

Big show. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:20:19]

MELBER: Congress is back at work. Our top story tonight was news coming out of the Democratic investigations out of that bipartisan committee that Nancy Pelosi organized.

But the other big story today is what the Democrats are trying to do legislatively now in formal action on voting rights. Now, Mitch McConnell has his obstruction strategy, denying basically what everyone can see, Trump loyalists trying to get control over election posts at the state level. That`s a big issue when it comes to the next election.

On January 6, which we have discussed, you had Republicans in Congress voting against certifying the election and trying to somehow use that to seize power.

Now, today, the reason I`m mentioning this is that, as Chuck Schumer talks about potentially taking away Mitch McConnell`s obstruction filibuster powers, McConnell responds by denying this is all happening. And that`s the reason he says you don`t need reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Why would any legislator, any legislature in America want to overturn the counting of votes?

The notion that some state legislature would be crazy enough to say to their own voters, we`re not going to honor the results of the outcome of the election is ridiculous on its face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What do you do with that? I guess, if you just apply it to recent history, then the Republican Party`s entire reaction to 2020 was -- quote - - "ridiculous," again, according to the Republican leader.

Democrats view McConnell as someone who can`t be trusted anyway. Liberals have been urging the Democratic leaders to play more hardball. And, again, up through the end of last year, Schumer and others were not willing to do that. They talked about the idea.

But what`s different this week, what`s new tonight is that Schumer is pushing a plan this month to gut some of the filibuster rules that give McConnell his obstruction powers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Let`s be really clear. Our democracy is imperiled. And time is running out.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): If Republicans continue to hijack the rules of the chamber to prevent action on something as critical as protecting our democracy, then the Senate will debate and consider changes to the rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: On or before MLK Day. That`s within two weeks.

And the connection is deliberate. Dr. Martin Luther King was never in Congress. He was not what we call a lawmaker. And yet he was, as a matter of factual and legal history, one of the most influential maker of laws in the modern era.

It was his work that led to the original Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and, after his passing, the Housing Rights Act that he advocated later passed. That`s a lot of laws.

You could actually see MLK with LBJ, we just had that up there, because the president recognized him as, well, one of the people who was a lawmaker, in that sense.

So, all of this comes together. It is not coincidence. It`s not symbolism. It`s the reality of Democrats deciding they are going to actually force the hand and try to change these Senate rules.

Now, they need all 50 senators. The holdouts on most issues, Sinema and Manchin, have not yet embraced this. But as one former senator told us recently on this program, Schumer wouldn`t go this far unless he had some kind of plan. So, does he? Where does he go next?

Our special guest, an Obama veteran, in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:25:02]

MELBER: Obama pollster Cornell Belcher is back.

Nice to see you again, sir.

BELCHER: Happy new year.

MELBER: Happy new year.

We had you at the top of the show on that breaking news. This is another big story that I will say at least in this broadcast would be the top story, if not for that, if you changed these Senate rules.

I mentioned that Martin Luther King was a lawmaker in the most literal sense of the term. That`s why LBJ had him up there. That`s why Chuck Schumer makes this connection to voting rights, something that MLK helped get into federal law.

Your views of where this issue heads with changing the filibuster?

BELCHER: Well, I think it`s -- I think it`s a critical issue. I think it`s critical on a couple of different fronts.

One is, Ari, I have been really frustrated over the last couple of months, because I think there`s a -- there`s still a cohort of Democratic strategists who have not seen voting rights as necessarily a broadly sort of out in front, winning issue broadly for Democrats going into the midterms.

And I thought -- I have sort of been arguing that I think that`s problematic. If you look at the new "USA Today" polling out today that shows that 80 percent of Americans, over 80 percent of Americans are actually worried about democracy, Senator Warnock is right that democracy is in peril.

And Americans are -- overwhelmingly feel worried about democracy. So I think there is -- there is now some political traction there sort of broadly, but also when you talk about sort of base mobilization.

And, look, Ari, we have talked about this before. Those young people that Democrats need to turn out who turned out in 2020 and flipped states for Democrats -- we have talked about this before, Ari -- they`re not marching for bridges and roads, right? They`re marching for justice and equality.

And voting rights is absolutely a mobilizing issue for them. So, I think Democrats have -- to a certain extent, I like what Schumer is doing. They`re coming to their senses and they`re pivoting to not only an issue that Democrats can use to mobilize younger voters and voters of color, who they desperately need to turn out in the midterm elections, but also, more importantly, Ari, I think that if Democrats message this right, I think they can connect this to the middle of the electorate as well as a bigger issue, right.

Go bigger and more values-based issue around, quite frankly, the health and well-being of our democracy at stake, and put Democrats on one side of that, Republicans on the other.

MELBER: Yes.

Let me play you -- and let me play your Manchin today. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): It`s very, very difficult. It`s a heavy lift.

Any time there`s a carve-out, you eat the whole turkey. There`s nothing left.

QUESTION: You have said, and it seems like you`re saying this again, you would not be open to changing the rules without Republican buy-in, in some way, shape or form.

MANCHIN: That`s my absolute preference.

QUESTION: OK. Preference is different than red line, but it seems like...

MANCHIN: That`s my preference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Translation, preference is not no. Chuck Schumer has got to get him to yes by MLK Day.

BELCHER: Well, I think not only does Chuck Schumer have to, but I think this is also an opportunity where, if you look at -- get inside the president`s numbers again, look at the "USA Today" poll, a lot of what sort of the wet blanket hanging over Biden`s overall approval numbers has to do with them seeing him being -- taking action and being a strong leader.

I think you will see a full-court press from the president and the vice president...

MELBER: Yes.

BELCHER: ... here on the next -- and over the next couple of days next week or so about getting this done.

I think it`s going to be really hard for Manchin and others, especially with the ideal that Manchin put together, his own compromise plan, and put it before Republicans. And, of course, Republicans, as you knew, Mitch McConnell is going to reject it.

So I think they have sort of boxed themselves in here. But I also think it`s an opportunity for the president to -- president and vice president to put strong pressure on Senate Democrats, but also barnstorm the country and start talking about this and putting pressure on a local level...

MELBER: Yes. Right.

BELCHER: ... and an important key in battleground states and congressional districts, about the importance of this issue and having sort of an inside- outside game.

MELBER: Right.

Cornell Belcher on the two-for-one special tonight, we appreciate you on both stories. Good to see you.

Coming up tonight, we also still have a special interview that I don`t think you will see anywhere else.

Meanwhile, tech titans making headlines for the way they`re spending during the pandemic crunch, and there`s soaring poverty. Our accountability on the wealth gap and solutions -- coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:33:15]

MELBER: The new year has featured some wild parties from the world`s billionaires.

Amazon`s Jeff Bezos ended 2021 with a -- quote -- "crazy disco party" on a yacht in St. Barts. We have pictures courtesy of him right there.

Elon Musk started the year with $32 billion in wealth growth in a day. The billionaires are literally blasting into space, but context matters; 37 million Americans are starting this year in poverty.

The wealthiest country in the world does not always do the basics for them, even when they are prescribed under law. For example, there`s a report showing that many states are sitting on over $5 billion in welfare funds that go unspent, despite a pandemic emergency that stretched for years and poverty.

It comes after a lot of Republican rhetoric attacking the government and insisting it should not help even when it might be able to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I`m from the government and I`m here to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I`m joined by NYU law professor and our friend Melissa Murray.

What do you see here in a situation where it would appear some of these funds are legally available, they have been mandated, and they`re being denied to people during these tough times?

MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, first of all, we can trace a lot of this back to the welfare reforms of the 1990s.

In 1996, Bill Clinton, a Democrat president, ushered in the welfare reforms to change welfare as we knew it. Part of that reform effort involved tightening up requirements for welfare, making sure that those who are in receipt have public assistance, also maintain jobs, so tagging well there are benefits to employment.

[18:35:01]

And we also gave states broader latitude to decide what they could use their federal block grants for. So they have much more discretion in how they can disburse those funds. So some of it can go to welfare, but quite a lot of it has gone in the last couple of years to other things, so abstinence prevention or abstinence programs for sex education or crisis pregnancy centers in some states.

So a lot of this has been shifted on the local level to reflect local and state level concerns, as opposed to the broader effort to address the broader concern of poverty within some of these states.

MELBER: Isn`t this something that would upset voters if they knew about it?

MURRAY: I think it would depend.

I mean, again, the whole idea of public assistance and welfare has gotten a pretty bad rap. A lot of it began in the Reagan administration, as your package noted. But, again, I think the idea that here we are in a pandemic where so many people have been without health insurance, so many people have been without assistance, have lost their jobs, have lost their homes, the idea that many of these states are running a surplus with federal funds, I think, would strike some as being an incredible misuse of taxpayer funds.

MELBER: Yes.

And in preparing this story, we saw in one of the states that has done a big crackdown, which is pretty red, Texas, over 90 percent of these welfare applications are rejected. As you point out, it is mixed because, in some places, that might be where the political winds are, although, when we look at the reaction to the stimulus and pandemic spending, there certainly was interest in government assistance for the needy.

Whether you call it the W-word or something else, as you say, may also impact people.

We wanted to get this on the air tonight, even with a lot of other stuff going on, because it`s important. And we wanted to get it on with somebody who`s a good expert for us.

So, Professor, thanks for doing that.

MURRAY: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Thank you.

Coming up, the January 6 investigators going after Sean Hannity for the first time. We go inside the probe on that breaking news with a very special guest live on THE BEAT. You won`t want to miss this. That`s my recommendation.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:41:07]

MELBER: Welcome back.

Our next guest is someone close to former President Trump. An economist and Harvard alumni, Peter Navarro served as a senior Trump administration official, including as assistant to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White House trade and senior economic adviser Peter Navarro.

STUART VARNEY, FOX NEWS: Joining me now is Peter Navarro.

MELBER: Trump vet Peter Navarro is leaking their own January 6 plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The assistant to the president and director of the office of trade and manufacturing policy, Peter Navarro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, Peter Navarro just admitted out loud what 100 lawmakers were willing to do on January 6.

WALLACE: Former White House trade guy Peter Navarro.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: As you can tell, a man often in the news.

Peter Navarro is our guest tonight. And his new book, "In Trump Time," is out now.

Thanks for being here.

PETER NAVARRO, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Ari, great to be with you.

I guess I am the trade guy. But, tonight, I think that I`m the January 6 guy.

The "In Trump Time" book shows unequivocally that both Stephen K. Bannon and President Trump should be exonerated of any violence on Capitol Hill on January 6. And what I show the "In Trump Time" book is this plan we had called the Green Bay Sweep, clearly between constitutional and legal lines, to basically have only legal votes counted in the election.

MELBER: Yes. You mentioned that...

NAVARRO: And we had recruited -- yes.

MELBER: We prepared for that. So let`s take a look.

You mentioned this plan.

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: Here`s Steve Bannon talking about it on January 6.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: That`s why I keep saying the mantra. You called the play. Now run the play, right? It`s like the old Green Bay power sweep. It`s very simple, very -- just one thing leads to another, very logical, and the -- a victory is affirmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So, go ahead and tell us in your own words, what was the plan, and who was in on it besides you, Bannon and Trump?

NAVARRO: Sure.

The backstory is, while I was in the administration, after the election, beginning on Thanksgiving, I produced what would be an exhaustive three- volume report. I went over tens of thousands of pages of documents and proved that the election was, in all likelihood, stolen through fraud and election irregularities. That`s the back -- background.

On January 6, the Green Bay Sweep plan...

MELBER: That`s false. That`s false.

But I -- the question for the start of the interview...

NAVARRO: You can say that`s false. That`s fine.

MELBER: Yes, it is fine.

NAVARRO: We will disagree about that, but that`s the presumption I had.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: But the question for the start of the interview is -- I just want to -- I just want to make sure here that we`re kind of going by rules of the road.

NAVARRO: Yes, I know you got to -- I know you got to say that.

MELBER: The question is -- and you will get time to talk.

NAVARRO: And what I`m saying is that that was our presumption.

MELBER: I don`t have to say anything, sir. I`m asking you.

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: The question is, what was the plan itself, and who was in on it?

NAVARRO: Exactly. And I`m going to tell you that.

The plan was simply this. We had over 100 congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill ready to implement the sweep. The sweep was simply that. We were going to challenge the results of the election in the six battleground states. They were Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada.

And, basically, these were the places where we believed that, if the votes were sent back to those battleground states and looked at again, that there would be enough concern amongst the legislatures that most or all of those states would decertify the election. That would throw the election to the House of Representatives.

And I would say to you here, Ari, that all of this, again, it was in -- in the lanes legally. It was prescribed by the Constitution. There is a provision to go, rather than through the Electoral College, to the House of Representatives. And all this required was peace and calm on Capitol Hill.

And at 1:00 p.m., Ted Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz, and Gosar, a representative, started the Green Bay Sweep beautifully, challenging the results of Arizona.

[18:45:09]

And here`s the most important thing I can tell you about this. The thing that we were trying to deal with was a media which refused to acknowledge any kind of possible fraud or irregularities.

MELBER: Right.

NAVARRO: And by implementing...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Well, let`s get into it.

I have given you -- Peter, I have given you -- I have given you some time here. And I think you have explained that. And I`m going to follow up here. And I want us to have a back-and-forth. But that involves both of us.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: You just described a way -- yes.

You just described this plan as a way to take an election where the outcome was established by independent secretaries of state, by the voters of those states, and legal remedies have been exhausted, with the Supreme Court never even taking, let alone siding with any of the claims that you just referred to. So, legally, they went nowhere.

And then you`re describing a way that the incumbent...

NAVARRO: I would object to that.

MELBER: Hold on. Hold on. You will get your turn. I just let you go for a while. Let`s go this back and forth, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: That`s good.

MELBER: Then you will use the incumbent losing party`s power -- that was the Republican Party that was losing power -- to overtake and reverse that outcome.

Do you realize you`re describing a coup?

NAVARRO: No, I totally reject many of your premises there.

First of all, the election was still in doubt, and would be until it was certified.

Second, the idea that secretaries of state, particularly in Michigan and Pennsylvania, were, like, innocent parties, I mean, Jocelyn Benson and Kathy Boockvar, the secretaries of state in Michigan and Pennsylvania, they were put in power by George Soros for the express purpose of shifting the playing field to the Democrats. They were found in both states to have broken the law.

The point here is, Ari, is that we were following the Constitution and rules of the Senate to simply get a recount of what the votes were. And we were looking for these battleground states to basically review whether there were any...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: So, Peter, let me press on this, because people don`t always...

NAVARRO: That`s by the book. That`s by the book.

MELBER: People don`t always hear -- yes, Peter, people don`t always hear directly from the folks involved.

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: Steve Bannon, as you know, is risking going to jail, rather than just provide testimony about it. You, by contrast, are describing in your book some of the same stuff, so I don`t know what he`s afraid of the clearly you`re not.

But when you describe a system where, after all of the legal remedies are exhausted, the people who lost just make noise and then say that they won and seize power, don`t you understand -- I mean, that`s my question for you because I get to talk to you directly here.

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: Don`t you understand that, if that actually were the system, it would be dumb and dangerous?

If the people who lost could just get up there and say, well, we want to do our own county, not the state law recount, not what the Supreme Court provides for -- everyone remembers Bush v. Gore -- there are situations where they get involved.

But just people in the Trump administration decide, well, we disagree, don`t you understand why people see your -- whatever you want to call it -- you don`t want to call it a coup -- your thing where, when you lose, you stay in power, they see that as really dangerous?

NAVARRO: Your presumption is, the remedies were exhausted.

My presumption is, the remedies weren`t exhausted at all. The remedy was for Vice President Pence, as the quarterback in the Green Bay Sweep, to remand those votes back to the six battleground states for 10 days for a look to see if there were any election irregularities or fraud.

MELBER: OK.

NAVARRO: Now, that was party of the remedy.

MELBER: Let`s get into that in your book. I`m going to read from your book. I`m going to read from your book.

NAVARRO: Yes, sure.

MELBER: And then I`m going to go back to you.

Quickly, you said I`m taking that contention. I don`t have any contention.

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: I quoted the facts, that the Supreme Court did not take the case.

NAVARRO: Well, you said it was -- you said the remedies were exhausted.

MELBER: Yes, the -- in the courts. And that`s true.

NAVARRO: They weren`t exhausted. We had two more remedies.

MELBER: Look, we can live in a world where you say -- we can live in a world where you say the Supreme Court is in Canada. You can say that. You have the right to say that.

NAVARRO: Huh? What? Huh? That is a non sequitur.

MELBER: But the Supreme Court`s in D.C., and the Supreme Court did not take -- did not take these cases.

Now, let`s read from your book with regard to your contention about the vice president.

You say -- quote -- "Pence refused to take my repeated phone calls about election irregularities, despite a direct request from President Trump to do so."

What was your vision, that you would get Pence to do that which Trump couldn`t get him to do?

NAVARRO: No, my only reason to talk to Vice President Mike Pence was to explain to him, as I documented in my three-volume report, that, in all likelihood, there was significant election fraud and irregularities across the six battleground states.

I mean, these were ubiquitous, six dimensions of fraud. I simply wanted to brief Mike on what I had found. I had what we call the receipts. And that`s all the conversation needed to be. I was not going to...

MELBER: Why wouldn`t he listen to you, do you think? Why wouldn`t he listen to you?

NAVARRO: Well, I talk about in the "In Trump Time" book.

His chief of staff, Marc Short, who is a Koch network conservative, meaning that -- and he`s a never-Trumper -- basically walled off Vice President Pence from the day Marc took -- took chief of staff`s duties back in 2018.

[18:50:10]

And it was a sad story. Mike was always good to me, until that day.

The thing about Mike`s betrayal of President Trump, which is really interesting, is, he never shared the legal analysis of his general counsel, Greg Jacob...

MELBER: Right.

NAVARRO: ... and Marc Short, with Pat Cipollone.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: But, again, that really -- Peter, that brings us back...

NAVARRO: That was bad process betrayal right there.

MELBER: But that brings us back to the same point.

NAVARRO: Yes.

MELBER: And this may be -- this may be relevant, sir, in future elections, which is...

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: ... don`t you think somebody would have thought of this?

If the incumbent administration, through the president or the vice president, could just cancel the election outcome because he goes down to the Senate, well, then a lot of people would try to stay in power.

We have an entire system designed to thwart -- and I want to say this respectfully, but it`s the truth...

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: ... people like you, to stop people like you, who think that you can anoint yourself the reviewers of the voters, of the American people, of what they lawfully did, that you trump the Supreme Court, no pun intended.

People like you are what the Constitution are designed to stop. And it worked. And it did stop you, which I guess brings us to this idea of the goals that you talk about in the book, because, again, you`re out here.

NAVARRO: Can I respond to that, though?

MELBER: You worked for the president.

I`m going to let you respond.

NAVARRO: Yes. Sure.

MELBER: But, in the book, you say: "The goal is not to get the election overturned today."

NAVARRO: Right.

MELBER: "The goal is to subject the ballots to careful scrutiny and investigation."

NAVARRO: Correct, yes.

MELBER: What do you say to the system doing that not through partisans like you, but, in the next time, if we hear about this in the next midterms, the next election, that`s what the states and the courts already do?

NAVARRO: Well, they didn`t. They didn`t do their duty.

I mean, this was a failure of the judicial branch. You keep saying that the courts rejected the claims.

MELBER: They did.

NAVARRO: But everything that went to the courts was rejected on process, not fact. There was no evidentiary hearings, including the Supreme Court.

MELBER: Yes, you -- that`s bad for your side.

NAVARRO: I mean, there were three justices on the Supreme Court who wanted to look at the case. But they didn`t.

MELBER: You`re describing something that`s -- you`re describing something that`s very bad for your side, which is, the cases were so weak, they didn`t reach the merits.

NAVARRO: I reject the idea that we were trying to cancel the election.

And you yourself just read from my book.

MELBER: I did.

NAVARRO: All we wanted was to look at what I found.

Look, Ari, the difference between me and virtually everybody else in this debate is, I did the homework. I`m the guy who looked at thousands of pages of documents, did the analysis. I went in with an idea, just trying to figure out what happened.

MELBER: Yes.

NAVARRO: And what happened was a very elaborate steal.

And if you look at the "TIME" magazine Molly Ball cover story, if you read that...

MELBER: Yes.

NAVARRO: ... they admit they stole it. I mean, come on, Ari.

So...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Well, Peter, again, we don`t -- I can`t fact-check everything in real time and also do the interview. But some of what you said is false. Folks can stay informed.

I do want to turn to COVID before I lose you...

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: ... because you`re newsworthy on more than one topic.

There are experts who say that, when you were inside the administration, before COVID shut down the U.S. -- this was back in January 2020 -- some of your warnings proved correct.

NAVARRO: Yes.

MELBER: You wrote a memo about the risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario and how it should not be overlooked.

You were inside government at the time.

NAVARRO: Yes.

MELBER: Why weren`t you listened to more then inside the government?

NAVARRO: Well, interestingly, Tony Fauci was one of the key people who wouldn`t listen to a word I had to say.

I think that I had the benefit of knowing communist China, of basically writing a book back in 2006 that predicted there might be a pandemic from communist China.

"In Trump Time" talks about all the people in the West Wing who were really tone-deaf to the crisis. I can`t explain why they thought that way. I do know that there were three people in the White House who were taking it seriously. It was Robert O`Brien, the national security adviser, myself, and, yes, President Trump.

And that`s why he did the travel ban in January. That`s why he had me write a series of significant memos, one on February 9, which got Operation Warp Speed started and got us these vaccines much quicker than -- than I think any other president could have delivered.

But, Ari, I can`t tell you how frustrated I was in February, in March having...

MELBER: Yes.

NAVARRO: ... to fight people in the West Wing who weren`t taking it seriously.

MELBER: Well, look, it is -- I want to show one more thing, Peter.

NAVARRO: Sure.

MELBER: I want to show one more thing, Peter.

But we did show "The New York Times"` headline there. And it is interesting how you warned then. People are well familiar with the COVID issues and what the president did and didn`t do at what times. But that was interesting.

Since it`s your first time on THE BEAT, I was curious about that.

Last thing, you mentioned, Fauci. I thought you might.

When we spoke to him, he had some choice words for you. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The people who weaponize lies are killing people.

So, the only question I have is that, when you show Tucker Carlson and Peter Navarro criticizing me, I consider that a badge of honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Peter, that`s the final question on a big issue, as COVID continues to proliferate.

[18:55:01]

NAVARRO: Well, yes.

MELBER: He -- let me get the question out, sir.

He served with you. He served with many people. He says the very act of you, Peter Navarro -- again, I`m just quoting him -- criticizing him is a badge of honor, the suggestion being that, while you did hold these posts, that you`re not credible at all.

I wanted to give you the benefit of responding to Dr. Fauci.

NAVARRO: Every time I confronted Fauci, going back to the first time I met him, didn`t know who he was, I was right and he was wrong. That`s weird.

I`m the economist. He`s supposed to be the health care professional.

Let`s be honest, Ari. Throughout this pandemic, Fauci has been an uncertain trumpet about just about everything. The biggest thing that I think he said was this noble lie when he -- when he lied about masks because he thought there might be a shortage.

I mean, that, I think revealed his character. Fast-forward to the latest thing he said: Hey, we`re going to keep people off airplanes, so we can force them to vaccinate.

I`m one of the guys who got that vaccination thing going. And we did a great job doing it.

But I can tell you, Ari, it`s only meant for people who are senior citizens, who are -- and people with comorbidities. It`s not something we should be putting in children.

We can argue about that.

MELBER: Yes.

NAVARRO: But Fauci is -- has blood on his hands.

MELBER: I`m out of time. We saved a lot of time.

NAVARRO: And don`t forget, that thing came from a Wuhan lab that Fauci funded.

Rand Paul...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Sir -- we saved a lot of time, Peter.

NAVARRO: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: So I hope you appreciate that we did give a back-and-forth.

NAVARRO: I really appreciate...

MELBER: I appreciate you taking the questions.

NAVARRO: I greatly appreciate being on tonight, yes, sir. Any time.

MELBER: Some of what you said was false. And we will do our updates on the program.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: But I appreciate you coming on, Peter Navarro.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Thanks for spending time with us here on THE BEAT, as always.

"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" starts right now.