Sean Hannity`s leaked texts to the White House stir reaction. Former Trump aide Peter Navarro has laid out the January 6 plot. How severe is the Omicron variant compared to previous versions of the disease? Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speaks out.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much.
Welcome to THE BEAT, everyone. I am Ari Melber.
And we have a big show for you today. Trump aide Peter Navarro has admitted that January 6 plot. It was just last night on this program. And we have two lawyers to break down some of the implications of that later tonight.
There`s also been a lot of news and reaction, so we will update you on all of it.
Also, Sean Hannity`s leaked texts to the White House causing all kinds of ripples, we will get into that and exactly what he and his team are saying about it, which is pretty interesting.
But we begin where America is right now, hours away from the anniversary of that stain on our democracy, the insurrection. A year later, the fact- finding and the push for accountability continues on two tracks. There is a congressional committee that can look at basically everything, including how to prevent anyone who would stage another coup, something we were just covering last night, and then the prosecutions in the federal Department of Justice.
Right now, a former Trump press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, who has plenty of knowledge about the propaganda, the lies, the claims, the electioneering, the talk of fraud that didn`t exist, all of that was going on -- all of what was going on inside the White House, including up to January 6, she is actually meeting with the committee investigators right now, a reminder how much goes on whether there`s an anniversary or not, because there have been interviews with over 350 witnesses.
There has been a review of over 35,000 records, 52 subpoenas, and at least two criminal referrals. That`s two that we know about, Mark Meadows and Steve Bannon, in their own criminal legal jeopardy. Bannon, who was part of the coup plot that was discussed on this program last night, is fighting his case.
He is legally presumed innocent, but he is facing the prospect of jail time for defying this probe. And then, as I mentioned the other track, the prosecutions, Attorney General Garland, well, he has been leading one of the most complex federal investigations here that he inherited clearly from day one on the job.
But he`s also facing outside criticism from legal experts and others about how far to go, who to prosecute and punish, how aggressive to be, not only with the people who obviously were caught red-handed on tape at the site of the insurrection, but those who may have committed other crimes pursuant to organizing it, to encouraging it, to inciting it.
Now, today, here, on the eve of this anniversary, Garland was the one speaking about the facts and what he says his office will do without partisanship, fear or favor to hold all -- quote -- "perpetrators" accountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.
We will follow the facts wherever they lead. But, most important, we follow the facts, not an agenda or an assumption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No agenda, just the facts and prosecutions where warranted. That`s the word going out to U.S. attorney`s office around the nation.
And we`re joined now by one of our legal experts who was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Civil Division in the Southern District of New York, Maya Wiley, and a former mayoral candidate in that city.
Thanks for coming back.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me, Ari. And good job last night.
MELBER: Well, thank you.
We`re obviously going to get to that at some point in the program, but it`s all related. Last night, we heard from a Trump aide who under questioning talked about a specific plan to steal the election. Just there, we heard new today from the attorney general about pursuing this without fear or favor.
Let`s start with the law and the evidence. How does that work when he says this a year later, with open probes in these federal offices?
WILEY: Well, let`s start with the first thing that everyone should understand, because I think it is completely understandable that there`s so much frustration that things don`t appear to be moving fast and furious against some of the top aides that have been participating and organizing what -- part of what you helped uncover last night.
But here`s the thing. If you are sitting in the Department of Justice, whether you`re Merrick Garland as the attorney general or any other attorney, you are not going to talk about what is happening in that investigation.
So, the truth is, we don`t know how much has or has not happened. And it is important to recognize that because, when Merrick Garland says, we will follow the facts, that is the job, and that does require keeping that in- house, not talking about that publicly.
But I think this is part of the frustration, right, because we have even heard Liz Cheney, a Republican sitting on the January 6 Committee, suggesting rightly, from all that they started to reveal in the contempt proceedings against Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, that the evidence is pointing to Donald Trump directly engaged in both getting excited about, allowing and having discussions that suggests that he understands exactly what he is doing, which is why people are saying, how much more do we need?
And the truth is, we need it all, right? Any prosecutor is going to say, we want to know not only what we know from e-mails, not only what we know from witnesses. We want to try to ascertain what they will say in their defense before we bring a case.
But there`s no question -- and Liz Cheney has said it herself -- that we have Donald Trump, minimum, both having knowledge in advance that there was fear of violence. We have actually Bob Costa and Bob Woodward, Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, in their book "Peril" saying they have people close to the facts who said Donald Trump was engaged in conversations and knew and was pushing Pence hard, including if there was more violence happening at the Capitol before it happened, wouldn`t that be great?
We have Pence saying in that reporting, no, it wouldn`t.
And we also have the fact that Donald Trump had a television, understood exactly what was happening at the Capitol, had Republicans pleading with him to do something, and not doing anything for three hours.
All of those really point to a mind-set that is intentional around conspiracy of sedition. And that is why people are understandably getting a bit frustrated.
But I say let`s follow the facts. Let`s let the committee and let the Department of Justice do what they do.
MELBER: Well, and you make such an astute point there about how we gather facts, the investigative aspect, which is totally different from what anyone thinks, opinions, judgment of people who`ve acted very irresponsibly. That`s sort of for the public square.
But, as you mentioned, people who might be criticizing Pence for many other things he`s done in, say, politics or government are learning from the investigation that it was precisely someone like him, a fact witness in the room pushing back on things, including the plot we were discussing last night, which was asking him to do potentially illegal things that he rejected, that gives us, the public, and these investigators, who know more than we do at this point, more of a concrete sense of where those lines were developed.
Which actually brings us to the next story I have tonight for you. So, Maya Wiley stays with us. We`re going to bring in another expert.
But here`s the story. It has to do with the evidence we`re getting, the heat on Sean Hannity over those new explosive texts released by this January 6 probe. He`s also someone that many people feel has been an aider and abettor of Trump to the very end.
And yet it is from this investigation -- I can`t underscore this enough -- that we learned new things. It shows a different Hannity in private than his public Trump defense, with texts, again, that just broke last night, where he was privately urging Chief of Staff Meadows: "I do not see January 6 happening the way Trump is being told."
And then the day before the insurrection -- that was literally one year ago tonight -- "I`m very worried about the next 48 hours."
And then days later, when it had all already gone down, he was still pleading with Trump to drop the big lie, asking him through Meadows and others to literally just never mention the election again, ever.
So what does Hannity say now, tonight, as this has all burst into public view? Does he explain, for example, to his FOX audience why he did sound so different in private than on air? Does he argue that, in his view, maybe the texts show that he was the reasonable person in the room?
Whatever else he`s ever said, when the riot was actually coming, he could argue he was the one urging Donald Trump to stop the violence, worried about the next 48 hours, not cheering it on.
Well, my answer for you is none of the above, because this man, who`s made his career, fortune and really a quite powerful perch out of talking, has gone personally silent on the matter.
We took a look at Hannity`s show last night. There was coverage of Washington and Afghanistan, but he never mentioned his own newsworthy request from this committee or his own texts, which are front-page news and were the top political item trending on Twitter.
This might seem like an odd time and topic for Hannity to go silent on, but legal considerations could be at play. In fact, the only formal response from team Hannity was from his lawyer, a lawyer he shares, by the way, with Donald Trump.
I`m talking about former Trump impeachment defense counsel Jay Sekulow, who says even a voluntary request here from Congress raises First Amendment concerns.
Fact-check, true. As we reported last night, there is strong law and precedent that protects members of the media from many types of investigative tools that could compel really cooperation from almost anyone else. That`s one of the things about First Amendment law.
And yet this issue is also broader than a legal seminar. It goes to who warned Trump about what was coming. It goes to who fanned the flames, while evidence shows they knew better in real time, and whether some of the loudest voices backing Trumpism to its very ugly end in that first term in public, whether they actually also feared how real an authoritarian coup could brew in private.
So, here`s sort of how Hannity has sounded in public. On the eve of January 6 -- again, that`s one year ago tonight -- he was publicly touting leaders of the effort to stop Trump`s loss, now sometimes called a Green Bay Sweep, like Ted Cruz, and he was later floating, Hannity, the false idea that the insurrection might have been led by someone other than Trump fans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Tomorrow, Senator Ted Cruz and about a dozen other Republicans, they are promising to vote against certification. They`re demanding audits of the 2020 election.
We also knew that there`s always bad actors that will infringe infiltrate large crowds. I don`t care if they`re radical left, radical right.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz joins us.
Senator, thank you for being with us. Big day tomorrow.
I don`t know who they are. They`re not people I would support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "Big day tomorrow." He was talking one year ago tonight. It was a big day.
But, privately, he was worried it was going to be a terrible day. Rarely do you see these kind of high-level contacts between this type of powerful person in the press and chief of staff and the president, and the texts also refer to calls with the president.
Whether or not this committee will ever legally hear from Hannity, all of this goes to what the committee letter spells out. This should not be about politics or any particular program. It`s about who knew what going into what would become this fateful American insurrection.
Maya Wiley wily is still here, and we are joined on the political side of this political media story by Juanita Tolliver.
Juanita, your thoughts on the Sean Hannity of it all?
JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I appreciate you running the footage from last night, because, in his mind, if he doesn`t say it on air, then it`s not true. I think that`s the tone that he approached your story with. I think that`s the tone he approaches his own text messages with.
Because when dislikes committee is saying, hey, we know what you said to whom and when you said it, tell us why you said it, he`s going to back away like we have heard seen, every other Trump ally do.
Expect him to go the court route, because what he has to be grimacing about right now, when reading that letter, is that little footnote, Ari, that footnote that says documents on file with the select committee, because while they`re saying, these are your text messages, these are the questions you were asked, these are the concerns you were raising while you were lying to the public, while you were lying to your audience, we know even more.
And that`s what is, I think, going to make him feel right now backed into a corner, because, as you said at the top of the show, Ari, the select committee has talked to 350 other witnesses, I`m sure some of whom can corroborate what Sean Hannity knew and when.
And when we zoom out a little bit from the frame of questions that the select committee included in their letter, my mind also goes into how they`re going to use anything around Hannity and his conversations with Trump to try to fill in some of the gaps that they have around Trump`s state of mind, Trump`s frame of reference, what he was thinking, what he was considering doing, what he didn`t do in those hours where he was silent, and paint that picture.
And that`s critical, especially as they come up to the more public phase of their hearings in the next coming months.
WILEY: And I just want to point one thing out very specifically that we have seen in the requests for Sean Hannity, which is, we have reason believe you talked directly to Donald Trump in advance of January 6.
We`re not talking about -- I think the letter makes very clear they`re not asking Sean Hannity, tell us what your sources told you. Tell us who your sources are, the types of things that typically protect journalists from these kinds of investigations. This is not that.
This is Sean Hannity as a fact witness, not behaving as a reporter, but behaving as someone who was part of the team. He`s saying, look, you all, I`m here on the team. I`m worried. What are we doing? Here`s my advice to you.
This is the exact same kind of thing that got Chris Cuomo off the air on CNN, when he was helping his brother, governor of New York at the time, Cuomo, with his legal troubles.
So just remember that. This is not an instance, in terms of how the committee has framed its requests of Sean Hannity, that is implicating him as a journalist. It`s implicating him as a fact witness.
MELBER: Right. That`s an incisive legal point, as we have come to expect from Maya.
And then, Juanita, I turn that piece of toast over, because I think she`s fully toasted that side of it, for you to hit the media political side, which is, one of the great problems we have in society is the normalizing of the bad decline of so many things and institutions.
And I respect -- I just said I talked about the First Amendment rights over at that program. And I respect their rights to say and believe whatever they want. I think that`s a great part of America.
But speak to the political and media expectations, Juanita, that Maya just diagnosed, which is the texts suggest an individual over there who is lobbying, quarterbacking and running government policy for Donald Trump from his perch.
TOLLIVER: And it was no secret that Trump would call Hannity regularly, because what we know is that Trump wants to make sure that his appeal to the masses is firm. He wants to make sure he stays in their good graces. So he would call Hannity for advice throughout his presidency.
And it just so happens that this last series of calls, the most recent series of calls around January 6, is what is ultimately going to be damning for Hannity to have played a role in helping to essentially facilitate a coup, to some degree, try to back it down.
But the reality is that we`re likely to see this continue in the future. I think we have seen all the calls across the Internet saying that we shouldn`t call that channel even news, considering that they don`t actually do reporting. As Hannity said, he`s not a reporter. He`s not a journalist.
But in this role, what they`re unveiling is this direct line, not only to the White House in the Trump presidency, but to other elected officials...
MELBER: Right. Right.
TOLLIVER: ... that we know they`re leveraging and abusing a mass media outlet in order to communicate lies and communicate to a base that will eat it up. They eat it up every single day.
And we also know that base will act on it, and act on it violently, as we saw on January 6.
MELBER: Right. And that goes to normalizing that. It matters to society for the reasons you both have so expertly stated. And it also matters, by the way, to people who rely on Mr. Hannity for information and news.
He`s in the news. And the one place you can`t find out about it as of last night is on Mr. Hannity`s program.
Juanita and Maya, thanks to both of you, a lot of food for thought.
Coming up, what Maya mentioned at the top of the broadcast. Later, we will get into the fallout from a Trump ally basically admitting the coup prep on live TV.
Also, there`s some good news on what science is saying about aspects of Omicron. Dr. Howard Dean is here live.
Stay with us.
MELBER: COVID is bad, but, sometimes, there is good news about COVID.
Omicron continues to spread rapidly. And that`s not a good thing, in and of itself. The testing delays and frustrations are mounting. We`re in the third year of pandemic life. That`s been a consensus.
"The Times" put it today, Omicron, though, is milder. That is one simple way to understand. It`s something you don`t want to get. But it`s better than worse things that you have gotten before.
Look at this graph, cases compared to last winter. You see the huge burst. That`s why so many people have this right now or have had it recently, 540,000 daily cases in America.
But look at this. People who have to go to the hospital, a sign of obviously tough symptoms or deaths, way below last year`s peak. This chart right here on your screen tells the story. Nothing in here tells you what to do. This is not an argument for just dropping safety rules or precautions. But it is science. And this particular piece of science shows why this variant is not as damaging. Also, relatedly shows why vaccination has been so helpful.
Now, Omicron is just less severe. As for the vaccines I mentioned, well, that`s not the whole story. Many, many people millions, in fact, remain unvaccinated. There are top Republican senators who continue, even at this time when we have this science, we have what I`m calling this sliver of good news, and it relates to the vaccines, but we have people saying maybe vaccines are no good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): The one thing we know is that if you get this mild variant, the Omicron, it actually is going to protect you against the more serious variants. This is basically nature`s vaccine that is running through the community.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You know, it`s way above my pay grade, but I guess that question, if you pose it that way, would be to shut down all hospitals and modern science.
All I can tell you about Senator Johnson is, he doesn`t avoid all hospitals. He doesn`t avoid all vaccines. That`s why some of this is crap.
Senator Johnson himself, well, he took issue with God`s natural remedies when he recommended mouthwash to treat COVID. So, that was his idea of a solution. And that goes to the point that this stuff is not consistent. It may cosplay as some kind of logical or scientific discussion.
But it`s actually brute force politics that can endanger your life, which is why we go to someone at the intersection of medicine, a doctor who also is known in the world of politics.
Dr. Dean is here when we`re back in 60 seconds.
MELBER: We`re joined now by Dr. Howard Dean. He was governor of Vermont, chair of the DNC and a presidential candidate.
Thanks for coming back, sir.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on, Ari.
MELBER: I gave my generalist fact-based review of what we just heard there from the senator, among others, but you are the doctor who also understands how politics can corrupt.
What do you see here?
DEAN: I see two people who have no idea what they`re talking about. In fact, they`re malevolent. They`re really doing things that harm people, and neither one of them deserves to be in the United States Senate, along with a number of other people who are spreading these kind of lies.
It`s harming their constituents, and it`s harming the country. So let`s be truthful about this. We are much better off because a lot of us have been vaccinated. The idea of -- quote, unquote -- "natural immunity" and avoiding vaccinations just belies what`s going on.
What`s going on is, if you`re vaccinated, your chances of dying from this are pretty good, if you`re -- if you`re -- excuse me -- if you`re not vaccinated.
MELBER: Pretty low, yes.
DEAN: If you`re vaccinated, then you`re in pretty good shape, except there are a class of people that are not allowed to get vaccinated right now. And that`s a mistake, I think, and that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. And that`s kids under 5.
They are not permitted to have vaccinations. Now, the Pfizer tests, where vaccination was postponed because they gave two doses, and they didn`t have that much of an effect, but they did, as far as I know, pass the safety testing.
So I would urge the FDA and urge Pfizer to apply for emergency action use right away and get that done quickly, so under-5s can be vaccinated. That`s the real -- there are -- the number of kids in hospital care is going up dramatically. There`s an article in "The Guardian" today that`s a really good one showing all this.
And I -- and the deaths are almost all unvaccinated kids, and most of them are between 5 and 12 and whose parents, for whatever reason, didn`t get them vaccinated. But I think it to eliminate a class of people, which is under-5s, from vaccination I think it`s unwarranted at this time.
DEAN: Because I think the safety aspects of the tests have been passed. And that`s the most important part.
MELBER: I want to ask you a public health question for people watching, Doctor and Governor.
If somebody says, OK, if it`s true that this variant is milder, and variants may continue to get milder, and they for whatever reason have not gotten boosted or fully vaccinated or maybe not gotten any shots at all, and they say, if it`s all getting milder, maybe I don`t need it, what do you say to them?
DEAN: It`s just ridiculous.
It`s like saying, if the mumps got milder, you wouldn`t need the mumps. Look, I grew up when there was no mumps vaccine. I knew plenty of people who got mumps. But once the vaccine was out there, everybody got it, partly because it was required and partly because it avoids things like male sterility later in life.
There are fatality rates to all of this, and there going to be fatality rates to Omicron, even in adults. And there are. There have been 1,000 children who died already because of the virus. Most of it`s Delta and it`s kids that weren`t vaccinated for the wrong reasons.
But this is still a serious problem. And to say that Omicron is milder than Delta means, OK, maybe the death rate will be 100,000 people, instead of 800,000 people. That is a ridiculous argument.
MELBER: When will this be over?
DEAN: Probably never.
I think what`s going to happen is, ultimately, this will be like the flu. The disease will be a little milder once everybody gets vaccinated. And there will be probably new variants every winter. And we`re going to have to take some sort of a shot against the coronavirus every winter, as we do in the flu shots.
I can remember, when I was first in medicine, flu shots were not routine. Nobody over 65 got them. Over 65 got them because they`re obviously more vulnerable. Now most adults and I think some kids get flu shots in the winter. And probably we`re going to end up with that situation.
I don`t think this is ever going to go away, but it need not be the kind of dangerous pandemic that kills over nearly 800,000 Americans, as it is today.
MELBER: We always appreciate your clarity, your bluntness and your science.
Doctor, Governor Dean, thank you sir.
DEAN: Thanks very much.
MELBER: We`re going to fit in a break, but I am urging you to stay with us, because I`m going to explain to you why so many people are talking about this today, not just because it happened to occur here, a top Trump aide who served in the White House detailing on live TV that they really did plan to steal the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Do you realize you`re describing a coup?
PETER NAVARRO, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: John Flannery on the implications, legally and otherwise -- next.
MELBER: As America faces the anniversary of January 6 tomorrow, the insurrection remains under investigation.
Some facts are clear. People violently tried to overthrow the government. Some are still under review. How much did top White House officials know about exactly what was coming?
A benign explanation would be that some officials talked tough, but fully expected everyone to leave on January 20, and then that gathering turned violent.
A more incriminating theory of the case is that top people did try and intend to stay in power, ending democracy and stealing the election from the current lawful president today, Joe Biden. Canceling an election to stay in power is called a coup, a word in the news right now after a top Trump White House aide admitted a group plot to indeed hold onto power past the inauguration.
You can see here in many big outlets those headlines are about what Trump White House veteran Peter Navarro said under questioning here on THE BEAT last night when asked about his plans with Steve Bannon and Trump and what the intent and the goal was.
He openly described the plot to try to steal the election from Biden. That admission matters, because, one, he`s confirming the illicit goal of overturning the election, and, two, this is exactly what`s under investigation right now, and, three, it`s a playbook top Republicans want to use again in future elections.
So catching it and understanding it is key.
Now, when someone admits wrongdoing, it is tempting to question what they`re even up to. Why confess to a failed plot to overturn the election from the past? Could be a bid to try to normalize this power grab. Could be a kind of a deflection from the violence at the Capitol. It could also just be poor judgment.
Shawn Carter as described this condition, advising, please don`t talk about plots you ain`t never going to use. You all always tell on yourself. I am just so confused.
And it can look confusing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAVARRO: 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.
MELBER: 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: I know you got to say that. And what I`m saying is that that was our presumption.
MELBER: I don`t have to say anything, sir. I`m asking you.
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 were going to challenge the results of the election in six battleground states. We believe that if the votes were sent back to those battleground states, that most or all of those states would decertify the election. That would throw the election to the House of Representatives.
The election was still in doubt. 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.
MELBER: Do you realize you`re describing a coup?
The secretaries of state in Michigan and Pennsylvania, they were put in power by George Soros.
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...
MELBER: Don`t you understand that, if that actually were the system, it would be dumb and dangerous?
We have an entire system designed to thwart -- and I want to say this respectfully, but it`s the truth...
MELBER: ... people like you, to stop people like you.
People like you are what the Constitution are designed to stop. And it worked. And it did stop you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joined by former prosecutor and counsel to congressional investigative committees John Flannery.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Good to be with you.
MELBER: Your thoughts on what we learned -- good to see you -- what we learned from Peter Navarro under that questioning in the interview?
FLANNERY: Well, you should be on a police show. That was excellent, what you did last night, I very much enjoyed that.
Getting at the truth is always a challenge. And you got to -- I have always said, as a prosecutor or even as a lawyer, that you don`t catch the geniuses. And this guy is no genius.
But the other part of it may be the arrogance. We pardon people, we do things, nobody does anything. So I think Garland should use your interview as a model for the FBI to go out right now. I mean, any prosecutor, that`s what they would be doing.
So what do I see here? I see a case for seditious conspiracy. It`s a section of the code. It`s a crime. It`s serious. They conspire. Question, do they try to overthrow the government? Yes. Do they try to prevent a law from being passed? Yes.
Now, is there deceit and fraud in their plan? Yes, both facts and law. The facts where they`re wrong is, they say, oh, there are problems with all the elections. There`s not a single fact that supports them, not the audits of the election, not the court cases, nothing, as you said last night.
But they do another thing. All of them do. When I say all of them, I mean, those Trumpeteers and lackeys for Trump in this corrupt bargain to try to remain in office when he lost the election. They say, I believed it. Like, you could believe it even if it was a delusional belief.
You said people can say anything. It`s true. You`re free to say it, but, in this case, not so, because you`re using it for some other reason.
And their rhetorical pirouette, which I think is interesting, is, he says, we thought there were six states that would, given a chance, which...
FLANNERY: Well, two of them were bogus. Arizona, even recently, we had still audits upon audits and they didn`t change the result.
FLANNERY: But the ironic one is Georgia, in which we had the president trying to change it. And we have heard the tape recording in which the secretary of state, pound sand.
FLANNERY: And the...
MELBER: Well, John, let`s put some of that -- we`re going to put some of that on the screen because we have some of those maps as the fact-check.
And on the one hand, as you say, we got information out of, in this case, Mr. Navarro, a fact witness or more. And we also fact-checked him some at the time. But we have these maps we can put up that show, basically, some of the states he was talking about.
And you will see those, that the audits and the results did not waver. You had Biden winning these states outright. And there are independent rules for potential recounts under state law and a process. We were at the end of that process that was nonpartisan, and you have him lying about it, and then saying that they would use lies about that to create doubt which otherwise wouldn`t exist and then try to steal the election.
That`s a coup, whether it`s bloodless or not.
I will tell you, in the follow-up, this made news. I mentioned it was in headlines. Steve Bannon is a big part of this, because Navarro`s telling on him and thus, as I mentioned, telling on themselves, Bannon also defying the committee, so he`s risking going to jail over it. But they still talk about it.
We have -- I`m just going to show this briefly. Navarro went on Bannon`s show today, where they did their own review of the interview. And Bannon went on to sort of chide him, but also say, hey, they`re not reasonable. They want to put out that this is the way they`re going to do things. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I couldn`t play enough of this.
The whole time they`re teeing this up...
NAVARRO: But wait. Hang on.
BANNON: Stop. Hold it.
NAVARRO: No, I`m not taking any crap from you today.
BANNON: Ari Melber is a trial lawyer, right? That`s why he`s -- that`s why have got to go back and refute -- every time he makes a statement, you have got to get up in his face and refute it.
You`re trying to give Harvard faculty lounge pivot and reasonable men can disagree.
No, we`re not reasonable men. We`re unreasonable. Unreasonable men are who change history. We`re unreasonable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLANNERY: Oh, I agree with that.
MELBER: Some might be tempted not to take that seriously. And it has a certain style to it.
But the man talking was indicted once and pardoned by the federal powers of the person he helped elect, Donald Trump. Now he`s indicted again.
MELBER: And they`re saying in public, John, that their goals are to normalize this, to make this a prerequisite for being a Republican Party leader that you will do what they say, unreasonable man who change history.
What should be the legal and public response to that very serious challenge in the elections ahead, John?
FLANNERY: Well, if I had a staff, we`d have an FBI agent in the office, and I`d come along. And if we got enough for a warrant, we would administer it immediately.
These guys are talking about committing high crimes and misdemeanors, and in the context of the seditious conspiracy, which is plainly one of the clearest sections of the code that we could use to prosecute them.
But I talked about the facts. The law where they go wrong is, they say, oh, it`s in the Constitution. Well, Article 12 of the Constitution only provides that the vice president counts the vote. That is when there are no challenges, no alternate. So that`s a lie.
And what is their explanation of that? The vice president wouldn`t violate the Constitution and let it happen. That is affecting the law, the constitutional law by which we succeed after a duly appointed and conducted election.
So it seems to be they have no place to hide. And I don`t know if it Shakespeare`s quote, guilt spills itself for fear of being spilt. Well, these guys don`t seem to have any fear about talking about the most intimate criminal, corrupt conduct, including saying, what better insult is there to a person, I`m totally unreasonable?
Oh, yes, well sign up. I`d like to hire you. That`s the person who is attacking the government, a totally unreasonable one. And his line was, you call the play, you run the play. And that`s what they did.
But what happened is, on the way that success story, they failed. They had to succeed to get away with this, and they didn`t.
MELBER: Right. They were thwarted.
FLANNERY: And they should go to jail.
MELBER: And that`s important.
MELBER: Well, that -- and that`s not for me to say. But you`re a guest. You can say it.
But they were thwarted. And they didn`t just spill the tactics. They spilled the people they say were in on it. Navarro cites Trump as it on it. That`s big, obviously, the president who would benefit from the coup. He also cites Ted Cruz, a one-time presidential candidate who might run again.
This person announcing the coup plot is telling America Ted Cruz was in on it. People have to factor this in and figure out what kind of democracy we want to maintain, which is why it matters, even though I admit some of it does look zany.
John Flannery, good to see you, as always.
FLANNERY: OK. Good to be with you.
MELBER: Go ahead, briefly, sir, yes, 20 seconds. Go ahead.
FLANNERY: OK, 20 seconds is -- well, 20 seconds is, why did these guys do what they did?
They wanted the power. And now we`re in a position in which we have an attorney general who says everybody is accessible. You have to do it now, a year afterwards, to prove that you mean it, to prove to people there is going to be a reckoning and an accounting.
FLANNERY: At the least, there should be an interview...
FLANNERY: ... and before a grand jury, so they can`t run away from it.
FLANNERY: And that`s the failure of the system. Too many people are critical of our attorney general for doing nothing on this matter.
MELBER: And counselor John Flannery does get the last word there.
Up next, we have a key member of the Judiciary Committee who will be here to get into some of this and more.
Stay with us.
MELBER: Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking on this eve of the January 6 anniversary, but top Democrats, including people like Adam Schiff with a lot of investigative credibility, have been calling on the DOJ to do more.
Garland discussed the hundreds of arrests already made, which is true, and he didn`t discuss any specifics about the future, which is appropriate. But he also broadly said there`s more to come just.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARLAND: The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators at any level accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.
The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But a year in, many results are available, and some say it`s not enough.
I am joined by Democratic Senator from Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse, a key member of the Judiciary Committee.
Welcome back, sir.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Thanks, Ari. Good to be with you.
MELBER: Absolutely. This is an important time.
You have just put out a new statement. I will read it. You say, with regard to this DOJ probe -- quote -- "Sweeping up low-level players, while ignoring the kingpins upstream, isn`t a full investigation" -- end quote.
Why do you say the DOJ investigation at this point is not full? And what should it look like?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, Merrick Garland would agree with me that it`s not fully. He said so in his own speech, that they are going to continue.
He also said in his speech that you ordinarily, in an investigation, begin with the smaller -- say, this was a drug ring -- street level dealers, and then work your way up to the leaders and the kingpins. And he used that analogy about starting with the smaller cases and working up.
And the clip you used, I think, is the most important one, whether physically present that day or otherwise criminally accountable. And I think it`s going to be that otherwise criminally accountable segment that we`re going to be looking to.
So far, it has been a very large array of trespassing and glorified trespassing prosecutions of people actually broke into the building. But it has not gone into the various rings that might have supported that or into the key fund-raisers and ringleaders behind the whole thing.
So, TBD. As you said, it`s totally appropriate for us not to know of their investigative steps, particularly with the grand jury work. But at the moment, all that they have shown us so far has been basically street dealer prosecutions.
MELBER: Does the available evidence suggests that there should be criminal liability for people around Donald Trump in government or his political operation?
WHITEHOUSE: It certainly provides what a prosecutor would call predication for instigating an investigation, looking into it and trying to drill down whether you can and should make a case.
And there was a very good comment by Jamie Raskin in a piece that just came out from Elizabeth Drew, who has been watching these things in Washington for a long time, is a very wise observer.
And Raskin said, look, basically, there are three circles here. There`s the outer ring of all the crazies who bashed into the building, who the Department of Justice has been focusing on so far. Then they`re the rings themselves, the QAnon groups, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers. And to the extent they broke into the building, the DOJ has been looking at them as well.
But then there`s the inner circle that Raskin talked about that that committee is looking at. And I hope that, between that committees work and the DOJ`s work, the kingpins on the ringleaders get their due.
MELBER: And while I have you as a top senator on all things legal, which includes voting rights and the Senate rules, Chuck Schumer promises a vote on something -- we don`t know exactly -- what by MLK Day.
Does that mean that, to your knowledge, senator Schumer must have 50 votes for something with regard to stopping types of McConnell filibuster obstruction?
WHITEHOUSE: No, I think, at this point, what it means is that we can no longer go in an indefinite mode of waiting to find what will please our recalcitrant senators.
There has to be a closure -- some form of closure. And perhaps with that form of closure, a decision will finally be made, and I hope very much will be to our benefit, will pull us together as a 50-person Democratic Caucus.
MELBER: Senator -- Senator, it almost sounds like you`re getting emotional with your caucus` relationship with your friend Joe Manchin.
What does closure with Joe Manchin look like, sir?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, at some point, when people are negotiating things, they need to put forward their position, something that they actually will agree to.
In a negotiation, I don`t think it`s appropriate just to keep saying, no, no, no, no, no. You have got to -- if you`re dealing with your own colleagues in good faith, you have got to say, no, this is what I want, not just no, but, no, this is what I want. This is what I need.
And that`s where we haven`t gotten yet, and that`s where I think Chuck`s move takes us.
I also think it`s going to be important for us to focus a lot harder on the dark money corruption part...
WHITEHOUSE: ... of the so-called voting rights bill, because that`s the real pain point for the Republicans.
WHITEHOUSE: That`s the thing that really hurts them. That`s the thing that Mitch McConnell`s minions and the Koch brothers` minions were talking about as the Kryptonite issue that they couldn`t twist or contort.
And they`re so scared of the dark money issue that they`re actually falsely accusing us of being the defenders of dark money, when they are, another signal that this is their pain point.
And I think, if we apply a lot more pressure on that pain point, we might be able to garner some forward motion here.
MELBER: Yes, you have worked on that issue a long time. One of the first bills Speaker Pelosi passed on the House side is the For the People Act, which deals with some of the finance -- campaign finance issues.
And, as you say, that`s one more thing that`s held up by the filibuster.
I don`t know if it`d be helpful, but here, on behalf of THE BEAT, Senator, if you want to bring Joe Manchin here to have a public discussion, we could call it anything. We could call it an interview. We could call it a group therapy for closure of whatever that is. We`d be interested in all of the answers, sir.
WHITEHOUSE: When we have something to tell you, I will be the happiest senator.
MELBER: All right, fair enough. That`s how the news is sometimes.
Senator Whitehouse, thank you.
We will be right back.
WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.