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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 10/19/21

Guests: Nick Akerman, Michelle Goldberg, Jamie Raskin, David Plouffe, Libby Casey, Steve Schmidt


Congress voting on whether to hold former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in contempt after defying a subpoena to appear before the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. After House vote, the Department of Justice might face decision on prosecuting Bannon. Democratic congressman and member of the January 6th Committee on voting to demand Steve Bannon comply with subpoena or face jailtime. Critics saying the West Virginia Democratic senator putting donors above constituents by being a holdout in Biden`s social spending bill, as Democratic leaders calling on the party to come to an agreement to pass the bill. Former Republican strategist on GOP warning to insurrection as Steve Bannon facing jailtime for defying congressional subpoena. Data showing vaccine works and the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die of COVID.


WALLACE: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes during these extraordinary times. We`re grateful.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

Hi, Ari.


Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber. And I want to tell everyone what we`re tracking right now. It is a big story. The news coming out of Capitol Hill as the preparations are underway for this vote tonight, this is in the next two hours, to hold Trump aide and MAGA leader Steve Bannon with contempt of Congress. We`re looking at a stake out there in the hallway outside the committee room.

And here is what we know. Tonight`s vote is the first time the January 6 Committee is using these powers to enforce its mandate. Now reporting has suggested the committee has the votes to hold Steve Bannon in contempt which clears the way for a vote in the House floor that Speaker Pelosi also, reporting suggests, would be on track to win.

Now if that happens and Congress hands this criminal referral of Bannon to Attorney General Garland who can then make a call on whether or not to prosecute Bannon. A conviction would land him in jail for over or about a year.

The entire clash is not what Democrats are aiming for. They pushed for Bannon`s cooperation to gather facts about the insurrection. He is the one escalating this with the total defiance we`ve seen. He`s following Donald Trump`s calls to duck the committee`s lawful request as it probes how so many people came to Washington with such aggressive tactics and plans to storm the Capitol which they did.

It`s also eyeing statements like this from Bannon to the MAGA faithful before the riot. A dark warning this was on the eve of the gathering and the same day he reportedly met with Trump`s steam.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF STRATEGIST: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It`s going to be moving. It`s going to be quick.


MELBER: The committee wants evidence and testimony from Bannon on what he knew and why he was talking like that, and what kind of hell he was rooting for or plotting about. It`s also released a new report about this case for contempt which draws on evidence suggesting that Bannon played a multifaceted role in the events of January 6th, including speaking with Trump directly regarding plans for the day.

And as for his pledges of hell breaking loose on January 5th, well, that was actually the same day that these investigators in Congress, according to what they`ve found in the research they`ve already on, that they say he joined a, quote, "war room meeting with Trump lawyers organized at the Willard Hotel."

Well, security failures and attacks on the United States are just about always met with investigations. It`s literally part of Congress`s job. After the Kennedy assassination or after 9/11 few would dare suggest that such probes be entirely blocked or defied or not cooperated with, let alone would you expect that from a former White House official in any party, but here we are. And this matters tonight.

The vote Congress will hold first in that committee room that we`re keeping an eye on, our cameras there in the hallways to see if there`s any news that we get before they begin, well, the vote in that room is to compel cooperation, to gather facts. That`s its tactical purpose. But before we bring in our experts, I want to be clear about something else tonight with you because we go through these news events together and boy, the last five years, a lot has happened, but this is also tonight about something broader.

It`s about showing that the rule of law still matters, still functions in this country, against not only the formal insurrection that occurred on a single day were prosecutions do continue against many of those individuals, but also dealing with a rolling ongoing attack on democracy and the rule of law in America, which is now in front of all of our faces very much a feature of right-wing politics where no democratic tradition in that view and what they`re pushing for would be sacred, not the building that houses the actual elected representatives, not in its rules or demands, and apparently not the premise of democracy itself that the peaceful transition of power be honored because it is more significant than who wins or loses any given election.

That`s what tonight is about. January 6th Committee member, Congressman Jamie Raskin has agreed to join us. He stands by and will join me live in just a few moments. First, we want to bring in with our legal and journalistic experts, "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg, and former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman.

Nick, your view of the stakes in this kind of clash, a field you know well.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, I think the stakes are extremely high and what`s really important here is not only asserting the rule of law but also Congress asserting itself as a separate independent branch of our government.


You mentioned before that this would be going to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. But if you look at this resolution it is not limited to just criminal contempt. Basically the speaker of the House is allowed to take whatever action is necessary to enforce these subpoenas which would include civil contempt, which in a way is counterintuitive because civil contempt actually has (INAUDIBLE) criminal contempt.

Steve Bannon has been through the criminal process before. He`s been indicted. He knows that if he can stick around, he can go through discovery, it can take time before anything happens. But with civil contempt all they need to do is get the sergeant-at-arms to go out with handcuffs, take Steve Bannon in, arrest him, bring him right into the committee room, sit him down and have him questioned.

If he refuses to testify he goes straight to jail. And he can come out of jail if in fact he decides he wants to testify. This is not an unusual power. I mean, I did this as an assistant U.S. attorney. I had a mob witness who is a (INAUDIBLE) in a major crime family. I asked him one question. Do you know Frank Sinatra? He refused to answer on the grounds that a truthful answer would incriminate him.

I then showed him an order that basically gave him use immunity, forcing him to testify. I asked him again. Do you know Frank Sinatra? He refused to answer that question and spent the next 18 months in prison (INAUDIBLE) for the grand jury. Now that`s the same thing that they could do with Steve Bannon. They can give him use immunity. Now keep in mind, the major strategy here on Trump`s behalf is to run the clock.


AKERMAN: He wants to get everybody going for months on end in courts and tied up. Certainly the civil contempt doesn`t do that but it certainly, with either criminal or civil, he`s still going to try and run the clock. But it`s a lot harder to run the clock when you`re sitting in prison.

MELBER: Right. I mean, then the clock and the leverage kind of goes the other way.

I mean, Michelle, Nick is reminding folks with stuff we`ve been covering here. There`s more than one type of contempt that has been used in the past as a power. Some people have actually been jailed under it, although the congressional version of that happens a little less often than others, than the prosecutorial, but Nick is absolutely right, Michelle, that this is part of what they are looking at.

We have from the actual contempt report here, which is what they`ll be voting on tonight, the possibility of civil. It says, "Bannon`s failure to respond to the subpoena could result in a referral to DOJ." That`s one way to get him. "As well as the possibility of a civil action against Bannon personally to enforce the subpoena."

So he`s up against a lot, Michelle. What do you see here tonight?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, look, I would love to see Congress kind of asserting its prerogative. That was something that Jamie Raskin talked about a lot when the Trump administration was stonewalling all of these subpoenas that Congress has these powers, that it hasn`t exercised. In some ways I think that would be much more of an escalation than just referring this to the Justice Department for possible prosecution and my guess is that that`s what -- excuse me.

My guess is that that`s what ends up happening. The question then is whether Merrick Garland who in some cases has been a little bit reticent to, you know, sort of -- you know, Merrick Garland, a kind of the anti-Bill Barr, and there`s a lot to admirers in taking that stance, but it also means that, you know, in terms of sort of vindicating the rule of law with regard to January 6th and the rule of law with regard to whether or not congressional subpoenas are going to be optional.

You know, at least you want someone I think who`s going to be a bit more of a bulldog and we`ll see if he steps up.

MELBER: Yes, and let`s take a little listen to how Bannon is playing this today on his sort of "War Room" podcast. Take a look.


BANNON: What actions, it`s going to be actions that convince the deplorables their vote is going to count. So what actions are the RNC and Youngkin can take in to make sure that if you come out, this is going to count because we want everybody to say, hey, your vote counts. I want to go now to Captain Seth (INAUDIBLE) has made a name for himself going around the country preaching the gospel through November in this stolen election.


MELBER: You almost see that the tension there, Michelle, of someone who`s discussing voter turnout and Republicans and firing up the base which is standard, and both parties do that, but against the backdrop of constantly having to echo Trump`s claims that everything stolen when they don`t win.

GOLDBERG: Look it tell us so much that Youngkin goes on Steve Bannon`s show in the first place, right? I mean, that`s sort of what you have to do to turn that Republican voters and that`s, you know, that`s what hangs over the entire Republican Party because Trump`s demand of all of them is that they continue to echo and reify this big lie, and the threat that he has living over them.


If that -- if they don`t do that, he will discourage people from voting the way he discouraged people from voting in the Georgia Senate election that, you know, ended up flipping the Senate for Democrats.


AKERMAN: Yes. No, look, I think they`ve got to be tough. They`ve got to play hardball. They can`t just sit back and let the Trump people try and beat the clock. If you look at this resolution that they`re voting on tonight, I mean if you take this and you compare it to the Supreme Court case, the McGrain case, that came down by the Supreme Court as result of the Teapot Dome scandal, which was the Harding administration scandal, which was considered the presidential scandal until Watergate came along.

You look at that opinion and you go through this resolution and they have done a very good job of basically covering all the bases that the Supreme Court says ought to be covered if the Congress is going to invoke its power of civil contempt. They particularize all of the reasons why they think Steve Bannon has information, who he has information about, where he was at the Willard Hotel for the headquarters of this group of people that were overseeing the insurrection that day.

I talked about Roger Stone who is a key player here, talked about Rudy Giuliani and the other lawyer who is involved. It goes through all of this. And basically this document if it came to it and Steve Bannon was arrested and brought into Congress, this document would be exhibit A before any court where Steve Bannon would try to contest his arrest by Congress. And that`s what they should do.

MELBER: Yes. Right.

AKERMAN: They should --


MELBER: Well, let me take it --

AKERMAN: This is serious stuff.

MELBER: Let me take it to Jamie Raskin who has the vote in the matter. I want to thank Nick and Michelle for kicking us off, and bring in January 6th Committee member.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you. Congressman Jamie Raskin, what is the purpose of tonight`s vote, and based on your knowledge on the committee which has operated in somewhat bipartisan fashion? Do you expect it to pass unanimously?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): It`s operated in totally bipartisan fashion and it`s actually the best committee I`ve ever been on in terms of people actually being focused on substance and not in a lot of, you know, polemics and rhetorical fire on the dais.

Look, what we`re receiving a report on the possibility of referring Steve Bannon for a criminal contempt prosecution for not showing up. You don`t have a right in the United States of America if you get a subpoena from a court or from the United States Congress just to blow it off and not show up. And that`s precisely what he did. If he is guilty of something, and he`s afraid he`s going to implicate himself, he`s got a right to show up and then invoke the Fifth Amendment and the privilege against self- incrimination.

At that point, we have the right to offer him use immunity. In fact, we have the right to offer him use immunity in advance to confer that upon him in advance. But you don`t have a right to blow off a subpoena and I know that there is a sense of entitlement and privilege among Donald Trump and his coterie of advisers that doesn`t apply, for example, to the hundreds of people who are being prosecuted now for breaking into the building, smashing windows, beating up cops.

Those people at least are facing the rule of law and Steve Bannon and Donald Trump of course want to skip merrily away and we`re not going to have it.

MELBER: So if this passes the committee tonight in the House floor, what is the likelihood that Steve Bannon ends up in jail?

RASKIN: Well, if he were to end up in jail on under just a criminal contempt citation, it would be for the fact that he didn`t show up and that`s going to require a U.S. attorney to go to a grand jury, for the grand jury to be convinced, for them to issue an indictment and then for them to bring the charges against him. But as your guests were just pointing out helpfully, there`s also the possibility of civil contempt as well, which is, he could be facing civil contempt charges.

And that`s the kind of contempt where the common law says you hold the key to your own freedom because you get essentially thrown in jail and here is the key. You can come out as soon as you decide to come and testify. So that`s another possibility. And there`s another possibility of inherent contempt charges being hold before the U.S. House of Representatives itself.

The Supreme Court has said that each House of Congress in the aforementioned McGrain case, each House of Congress has the authority to bring civil contempt proceedings against people who are acting contempt of the American people and act in contempt of U.S. Congress, and also each House of Congress has the exact same authority that a court would to enforce its own order, so we`re exploring every option.


The full panoply of sanctions we have to see that everybody follows the rule of law and we get the information we need in order to deliver a complete report to the American people about this attack on Congress.

MELBER: When you lay that out, your answer sounds procedural. You`re saying you have door number one inherent, Congress do it itself, but yes, the Congress hasn`t done that, either parties since the `30s. You have civil which takes longer and as you said a moment the person agrees to comply they can get out of prison. And that will be a civil suit filed by your committee under the offices of speaker or the DOJ.

So I guess what I`m asking you is, if we take all of those options together, is it above or below 50 percent odds that Steve Bannon winds up in jail because a lot of people are watching this and say, OK, complex history lessons, is he going to pay or not?

RASKIN: I think he`ll back down before he goes to jail. I know he loves the attention. He relishes it in some sense that`s why I`m a little disappointed he`s getting so much attention out of this, but we`re going to be going after anybody who doesn`t comply with this, not just Steve Bannon. On door number two, by the way, it is not remotely a foregone conclusion, that it takes longer under civil contempt than criminal contempt. I disagree with that conclusion strongly. Civil contempt is --

MELBER: Understood. But let me -- but to get to your point, you`re saying, Congressman, your framework is you think he will blink. You think you guys are putting on the pressure, this is a significant vote tonight, but your expectation, anything can happen, is that when he actually sees that in door number two or three leading to a real chance of jail, you think he`ll blink and in some way try to cooperate with this investigation.

RASKIN: I don`t know exactly at what point in the process it will happen, but Steve Bannon is going to have to accept the fact that he`s a U.S. citizen like everybody else and he`s subject to the law, and that doesn`t just mean like ripping off Donald Trump supporters and enjoying all the benefits that life in America has, including federal employment until you get fired. Being an American citizen means that you have to follow the law and in this case there was a massive attack which he knew a lot about on the democracy in an attempt to overthrow our election.

He promised that all hell was going to break loose. Donald Trump proceeded to say you`ve got fight like hell or you`re not going to have a country anymore. They were clearly involved in both an attempted political coup against Vice President Pence and the Congress, and a violent insurrection which they -- which Donald Trump incited as robust bipartisan bicameral majorities determined at his impeachment trial back in February.

MELBER: Yes. Well, it`s a big night and I know the vote is coming up so I appreciate you making time for us, Congressman Raskin. Thank you.

RASKIN: Pleasure is all mine, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely. Appreciate it.

The Congress can clearly do more than one thing at a time. There`s this big vote, but also ongoing negotiations. But we have a look tonight at how the concern of holdout here. Joe Manchin has mansion for Biden that might actually hurt some of his own constituents in West Virginia.

And later a fact check as we look at vaccine disinformation from police to Colin Powell. I want to tell you there`s also good news tonight on COVID dropping and then by the end of the hour we welcome Steve Schmidt back to THE BEAT on the contempt vote, the rule of law and much more.

Stay with us.



MELBER: President Biden continued to press his economic agenda trying to hammer out a deal that at this point is all about what he can do within his own party. Biden meeting with different groups of Democratic progressives as well as moderates. The president also met with the Senate holdouts, Manchin and Sinema. And Manchin spoke to reporters today.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At what point does the talking actually amount to action?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We got a lot of action going on.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you saying you oppose a climate tax or that you just aren`t talking about it right now?



MANCHIN: Yes -- no, we`re not -- we`re not -- carbon tax is not on the board at all right now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the child tax credit, is $60,000 the right cap?

MANCHIN: We`re talking, we`re negotiating and talking about everything.


MELBER: Talking about everything but some things aren`t on the table. This is Manchin doing Manchin and he is clearly trying to make sure some things aren`t in the package while saying everything can be discussed.

Now there`s also a growing critique here that is not just arguing that Manchin should somehow be more liberal because the party`s liberal or people in other parts the country are liberal, but rather evidence that some of what he`s fighting to get out of this bill would actually be good for his constituents, that stripping it might hurt them. For example, Manchin demands that the child tax credit include this work requirement, but the Nobel Prize winning economist and "New York Times" writer Paul Krugman notes, that`s an especially bad idea for West Virginia where jobs are still hard to find.

Manchin also trying to limit that tax credit to families that earn less than 60K but there is evidence showing that up to 190,000 children in West Virginia would thus lose out on this otherwise available benefit, which again comes in the federal government so it would be help going into that state.

Then there is climate change and this is a biggie because he has been very clear about trying to support business as usual in coal in West Virginia. But there`s data that shows that West Virginia is suffering more than almost anywhere from extreme weather. "Times" noting West Virginia more exposed to worsening floods than literally anywhere else in the country.

Now that is just the "New York Times." It`s not liberal activist per se. It is just data and evidence about what`s going on in his state. And it raises the larger question with a razor thin majority in the Senate of whether there`s any room left for Democratic leaders to push Manchin on what`s good for his constituents in his state while also keeping this thing alive to get to the finish line before or near Halloween which was one of the deadlines.

We`re going to get into it with someone who knows these issues well from inside the White House, David Plouffe, and someone else who knows them from outside, an independent journalist, Libby Casey, when we`re back in 60 seconds.



MELBER: Biden agenda in the Manchin of it all, I`m joined by David Plouffe, former senior adviser to President Obama and the "Washington Post`s" Libby Casey.

David, we`ll get to Manchin, the overall Democratic vibe here has been sort of a twist on agree to disagree. It`s going to Schumer today, agreed to agree, agree that we have to agree without saying what the agreement is yet. Take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We had a very spirited discussion at our lunch, passionate, strong, and there was universal, universal agreement in that room that we have to come to an agreement.


MELBER: Universal agreement, we have to come to an agreement, David. No one envies his job, but, you know, come on. Where are we here?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Ari, you and I have talked about this. I believe it`s always this is where we`re heading, which is what Schumer said, which is they`re going to get something done and something historic done. And I think that what needs to happen now, when you`re engaged in all the back-and-forth, the sausage making, it`s not a pretty picture. But I think that Democrats across the board, from members of Congress, governors, mayors, need to be out there talking about all the things we agree on.

Because I think that`s being lost, which is historic investments in preschool, in childcare, in eldercare, in making our tax system much more fair. Huge investments in work that the Republicans have universally blocked. So as Democrats are trying to build our economy, the only thing the Republicans seem interested in doing is tearing down our democracy.

So, yes, this is never fun when you`re going through the details. But the big picture here is this is not just a significant piece of legislation potentially. These are two historic pieces of legislations that are going to help our economy and working families for decades. So, yes, the only thing worse in people not getting their individual preferences is not getting anything at all. There is no guarantees. The Democrats will stay in the majority.

I hope they will, so you better take a big swing now and that`s where we`re headed. And again, I`d like to see the Democrats focus a lot more publicly anyway on what they agree on and who`s going to be helped by this legislation.

MELBER: Yes, and Libby, Mitch McConnell is out there arguing well, if this, as what David calls the sausage making this process plays out, it may be a drag on the Democrats. Take a look.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The difficulty our Democratic friends are having getting everybody in place on this reckless tax-and-spend proposal. The longer this lays out there the more unpopular it becomes.


MELBER: Libby?

LIBBY CASEY, THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: So what he`s focused on there are these divisions within the Democratic Party. He`s not talking about some of those things that will actually be in the bill that are very popular when you lay them out to Americans. Things that David just talked about a few moments ago.

You know, when Republicans talk about this, they talk about the bottom line and how much it`s going to cost. And there hasn`t been a nuanced in the discussion really about there are a lot of pay-fors in here. And part of the process that the Democrats are trying to work out is just how these things would be paid for.

The more the Republicans can point to Democrats fighting, you know, the most they can focus on that. But you didn`t just hear that Chuck Schumer coming out today and trying to sound a note of positivity, you also heard progressives coming out of the meeting with Joe Biden, saying that they are feeling optimistic essentially. And so you are sort of seeing flanks close a little bit and there`s an attempt to get a message of we are moving forward, we are getting somewhere, and we`re going to see President Biden trying to sell this on the road.

The clock is ticking, Ari. You know there are so many arbitrary deadlines in Washington. But there is some very substantive deadlines coming up including at the end of this month like President Biden even going on a global stage, to talk about the threats of climate change and if he can`t go to Glasgow, Scotland with something to talk about that America is doing, it`s going to tough for leadership. And that`s one of the messages that President Biden is trying to give to Democrats this week.

MELBER: And David, how about these reports and the criticism that some of what Manchin is trying to get out of the bill, strip out of the bill, would be good for working people and lower economic households in his home state?

PLOUFFE: Well, Ari, there`s no question, I think that pretty much everything in this package is going to be good for people in every state. There may be some specific things like on climate where West Virginia would even be helped in an outsized way. But Manchin is where he is.


Maybe he`ll move a little bit. It sounds like maybe the ultimate price tags is going to be a little north of what his redline was. But I think we have to get to the declaring victory stage of this debate and then go out and sell this. Not just president on the road which will help, every member of Congress needs to be doing multiple events a week for the next 52 weeks. They need to be running campaign ads on this. You know, we can very sophisticated with data these days so we know who benefited.

And Libby`s point is right. The way this is paid for is actually more popular than all the programs. You know, basically providing help to people taking care of aging parents, giving workers` assistance and childcare and paying for that by taxing the wealthiest in this country. You know, that is enormously powerful politics that the Democrats just need to sell, but they also need to then make the case that the Republican stood in opposition and if they gain power up they`re going to basically restore those tax cuts for the wealthy and give working people the shaft.

MELBER: David, if we took this conversation and turn it into one of those, you know, government transcripts, and then we read between the lines of what you`re saying, it sounds like between the lines, you`re saying the Democrats and your friends in the White House could be doing a better job on how to robustly push this right now than they are doing, although the skilled communicator that you are, you would never actually say that.

PLOUFFE: Well, listen, when you`re in the middle of these negotiations that`s all that tends to be covered. So, you know, you`re kind of shouting into a category five hurricane. But I do think -- that`s in Washington. I do think out in the country and some members have done this. Almost to ignore what`s happening in the negotiations and you just go out there and do events and messaging around within the bill.

And I think we have some catch-up to do there and we`ve got time. I think McConnell is going to say what McConnell is going -- I always love it when he says my Democratic friends in his ghoulish way, but there is plenty of time to go out there and storytelling. And a lot of these benefits, unlike the Affordable Care Act, are going to be happening right away. You don`t have to wait years for people to realize those benefits and there are a lot.

MELBER: And briefly, Libby, if this thing is on the road to passage in whatever shorter form, are there any Republicans who want to come along to be able to say, well, they supported some of the spending or some of the infrastructure?

CASEY: Infrastructure, that`s a different topic. Right? But we`re talking about the president`s Build Back Better agenda. This is going to have to be all Democrats and that`s why it is essential to try to work with Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin. You know, we are watching the Virginia governor`s race because we are sensing frustration from Terry McAuliffe, as he tries to sell this exact plan and what Democrats can be doing from Washington.

I mean, that`s another area where Democrats would love to see a win before November 2nd, although Virginians are already going to the polls. So there are some deadlines coming up that are putting the pressure on everyone. You know, including Joe Manchin to try to see something happen to sort of salvage the messaging Democrats can do.

You know, Bernie Sanders is writing an op-ed in West Virginia trying to communicate directly with West Virginians to try to sell the agenda to them. Of course no one likes it when another senator comes into their home state but Senator Sanders is saying look, we`re talking about the pharmaceutical industry, we`re talking about helping children, we`re talking about making your medication cheaper.

And so Democrats are trying to find ways to get that message to constituents. The question is, can they get on the same page and pass something in the next couple of weeks, heading into maybe the end of this year?

MELBER: Yes. David and Libby, thank you both very much.

When we come back we go where the "Daily Show" is going, including inside the mind of some MAGA fans.


JORDAN KLEPPER, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Wasn`t Q`s whole thing that Trump would be reinstated as president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s never left. There`s no doubt in my mind. A hundred fifty thousand percent.


MELBER: And as Steve Bannon takes his cues from Trump, there`s no pardon that can save him this time. We are tracking that contempt vote which is happening tonight in the committee room. Steve Schmidt is here on all of it. Next.



MELBER: We`re looking at this live picture outside the room of the committee here where a vote is expected to begin soon in the next hour. The January 6th Committee is going to hold this vote. We were just discussing it with one of their members tonight. To hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt. That opens several doors they could use to try to have him jailed for defying these subpoenas unless of course he backed down.

I`m joined now by Steve Schmidt, a veteran political strategist, who advised the Bush campaign, led McCains 2012 campaign, but has now left the Republican Party.

Good to see you and have you back, sir.


MELBER: I`m good. We heard from Congressman Raskin earlier tonight about the committee`s prerogatives, the several options. His working theory, though, that he shared with us is that he thinks Bannon will ultimately blink if there is credible threat of jail. Your view of that comment from him and the import of tonight`s vote.

SCHMIDT: I think the vote is very important. I think that the committee has to show real steel here and cannot tolerate obstruction, whitewashing innovations around getting to matters of fact around an insurrection that ended this country`s history of a peaceful transition of power. And so this is a nation, at least for a little while longer, that remains a nation of the rule of law. The Congress is acted lawfully. The subpoena is lawful.

He is required and compelled to respond to it as a citizen of the United States. Should he seek not to do so then he will face justice, and I think that that`s the message from the committee. Now whether he blinks or not I have no idea. I`m not a psychologist. I don`t know if Steve Bannon is trying to martyr himself. I don`t know if Steve Bannon thinks that 12 months in the pokey is time to get in good shape and begin the next chapter of his career and write a book like others have done from the fascist movement.

But in the end what Congress needs to do is to send the signal to all the witnesses, as you will comply with these lawful subpoenas and we will use the full weight, the full power of this committee under the Constitution of the United States to enforce them. Full stop.


MELBER: Yes. And Donald Trump is out here urging defiance. It`s one thing for people who are cosplaying and fan fiction and writing things online to react to that, it`s another for those who, as you say, could end up in the slammer and have their life affected that way. It`s also a long way to where Bannon claimed to be because they did have a falling out. When I interviewed him once in his townhouse where he does some of his media and other political work, I pressed him on this point.

I`m curious your reaction because apparently it`s really shifted. This was back when he was saying he didn`t care much of what Trump even thought of him. Take a look.


MELBER: What`s your current relationship with President Trump?

BANNON: You can see it every day on TV. I mean, it`s exactly what people report. You know, President Trump is doing his thing, I`m doing my thing. Remember, I didn`t really know President Trump that well before I stepped in and took in as CEO of the campaign.

MELBER: He said a lot about you when you had a public parting.


MELBER: Do you think he still believes those things about you?

BANNON: I don`t -- I don`t know and I don`t care.


MELBER: Steve?

SCHMIDT: I don`t care either. And I don`t think any of it matters. Donald Trump doesn`t have friends. Donald Trump doesn`t have relationships. Everyone needs to understand that. He has transactions. And he`s in a transactional relationship with Steve Bannon. Does it mean anything when Steve Bannon assembles a couple of hundred alumni of Republican administrations and prepares them for when they take power again to enter executive offices, and rapidly deconstructing tear down the institutions.

That just happened. That has meaning. The meaning to me is that he presumes that he will once again be in power. If you look at the state of the election right now you consider the fact that there has been three occasions in 120 years where the incumbent president`s party has picked up seats in the first midterm. When you look at Democratic losses that will surely occur from redistricting, you look at how far and how hard the Republican Party has radicalized around the big lie.

You look at the parody and fundraising, the lack of consequences. Republicans are feeling very good about taking control of Congress and at that point being able to zero in and to destroy the Biden administration`s agenda completely. All the while Trump is planning to run for president and remains the frontrunner for the party. I mean that`s what`s going on in the country.


SCHMIDT: There`s nothing to do with any of these people`s relationships.

MELBER: Yes. And then you have of course a schizophrenic defense of January 6th, Bannon and these folks are saying it was fine in essence. Then you`ve got other folks saying well, maybe it was bad but it wasn`t caused by Trump MAGA people, which is a type of liar propaganda that matters. We mentioned the "Daily Show" was sort of satirizing this but with real people. Take a look at this view of January 6th out there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, people say, oh, Trump, it`s a cult following. But I feel like cult is such a negative word. We are not a cult. We are a group of Americans that love our country and we want it back.


KLEPPER: Are there any old hits or things you hope he goes back to?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, gosh. I feel like whatever he spews out of his mouth, I just love it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People like me and people like you see over there in that crowd that did it.

KLEPPER: Who was behind --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI, CIA, Antifa were used. Other groups like that.

KLEPPER: It seemed like a lot of them were going into the Capitol to attack Nancy Pelosi and perhaps hang --


KLEPPER: What`s that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which one? The one with the bull horns? He`s not a Trump supporter.


MELBER: Steve?

SCHMIDT: Well, we have a large segment of the country that has opted out of reality and the number is too high and we have to deal with the problem to get as many of them back to the reality side of the line over time. But right now a majority of the country is in fact not insane and we watch the play out. We watch Trump incited, we watched Trump lie about the results of the election.

We watched Republicans after it condemned it before they forgot it and before they became complicit in the whitewashing. I mean, what you saw was a fascist mob replete with extremist groups, storm and murder in the capital of the United States, defecating in the hallways of the temples of democracy, urinating on the walls, carrying the Confederate flag through the rotunda ending the peaceful transition of power.

We now know that there was a plan. There is a memo. There were meetings in the Oval Office around that memo. American president to deny the result of the freest and fairest election in American history.



SCHMIDT: And try to become a dictator.


SCHMIDT: That`s what happened. It couldn`t be more serious.


SCHMIDT: And so I think that for two things. It`s, one, you can`t fix people who have opted out of reality. Two, we need to understand the causes of their opting out of reality, which is partly Trump`s lying but also a vast propaganda network that imprisons them to some degree.


SCHMIDT: Algorithmically.

MELBER: Right.

SCHMIDT: With all of these BS.

MELBER: Yes. And that`s I think is a very important point.

Steve Schmidt, with perspective on the big vote tonight. Thank you.

When we come back, we have good news on COVID and a fact check on Tucker Carlson.



MELBER: Turning to the good news. Just about everyone knows about COVID and people get their information about it from different sources which then inform these ongoing debates about how COVID is going or what we should do about it.


Though medical and journalistic sources are not infallible, but they tend to offer more reliable information and random chatter from friends or Facebook posts from who knows what it`s about. But I will tell you the press has a different issue. Our approach and tone about COVID does have its own shortcomings, one being we cover it more when things are bad and less when things are good, which is where this COVID story is heading lately. The good news is that after that Delta search COVID cases are now dropping across America, down 20 percent in the last two weeks alone and down by even more if you date back to the Delta highs.

So why are things getting a bit better right now? Evidence shows the answer is vaccines and vaccine policy, by which I mean vaccines cut the caseload related deaths, over 99 percent of covert deaths among the unvaccinated, and recent vaccine mandates by which I refer to vaccine policy are increasing the number of people getting vaccinated, which helps with all this.

Take a look at the trends on this map. Bright green shows higher vaccination rates and lower hospitalization rates. A good fit. Then the purple was where fewer people are getting vaccinated, and that leads to more people who are so sick they need to go to the hospital.

The map tells the story, and it`s all real data.

After months of asking people to get vaccinated, federal policy is pushing towards largely requiring either vaccination or testing, for most employees, for example, which is spurring a shift. And other types of mandates are already enforced which we know is juicing vaccination rates. So that means we have the facts to show mandates work. They make people safer where they`re enforced. That`s all about medical facts.

Now, there`s still can be valid debates over the trade-offs. So first, you discuss if this works. It does. And second you say at what costs. People can debate the cost of personal liberty and by the way no ideology has a monopoly on these objections. There`s concerns about acquiring vaccinations on the right and the left, among MAGA activists and union leaders, among sports leaders and police groups.

The public health facts are clear. Take this police example that`s in the news this week. Police officers have been dying more from COVID than anything else even in a job where they put their life on the line. Over 460 officers dying. The most common cause of duty-related deaths is COVID, the "New York Times" notes.

So that`s not debatable. The debate is over how employers and the government balance these risks, and how to choose whether you are going to comply with the rule or you want to object to it. Of course your own risk of COVID can also affect those around you.

Then there are people intent on misleading for their own agenda. Take the news this week with Colin Powell dying. His immune system had been weakened by his fight with cancer most likely. That`s a known factor in the COVID related death there. But Tucker Carlson jumped on Mr. Powell`s death to imply there was some kind of deceit that maybe the vaccination failed and then the claim that others are lying, and then by the end of last night`s Tucker broadcast on FOX, he had to issue a rare correction to his own claims.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Colin Powell was fully vaccinated against COVID and yet according to his family and doctors, Colin Powell died of COVID. Of course, that fact does not make his death any less sad nor is it unusual. Many thousands of vaccinated Americans have died of COVID. What does that tell you exactly? Well, it tells you you`ve been lied to. People who`ve been fully vaccinated can still get the virus. They can still transmit the virus to others. And they can still die from COVID. Colin Powell is hardly the only example of that.

But initially we told you about Colin Powell, we left out that Colin Powell was suffering from a number of different health problems. But of course that`s the point.


MELBER: No. It`s not. Leaving out those other contributing causes of death was very misleading. It was not the point Carlson was trying to make. The vaccines work, and if you want to look at the numbers, the death rate among fully vaccinated people related to COVID is so small it`s under .01 percent out of over 180 million Americans who`ve been fully vaccinated.

Now over in Florida you have the governor there banning vaccine mandates and the mother of a teacher who just died of COVID is speaking out.


LYDIA DORSEY, MOTHER OF TEACHER WHO DIED OF COVID: You can say I don`t trust it. I don`t want to wear a mask. I don`t want to get vaccinated. But the day you watch them, you watch them rush into your sons room as he goes, you will regret everything in that moment. It will change your life.


MELBER: That`s someone who really lived through it.


We begin with the premise that all life has value and all people are equal, but that doesn`t mean that all people`s knowledge is equal or that all people`s experience is equal. That`s someone who lived through it. And that`s different than people who may not have studied up on it or live through it and are kind of act going what they`re hearing from misleading sources or media, or a general know-nothing move.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just decided I`m not going to do it. I`m a Guinea pig if that`s the case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It also hasn`t been proven to be effective.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not going to just jump on a bandwagon with something that has not been tested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t trust it right now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You`re entitled to your own opinion, but these are facts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they, though? Are they facts?


MELBER: Yes. They are facts. And as I emphasize, and I go out of my way to say it, respectfully, there is a trade-off debate. There is a policy debate. But the fact part is factual. The data is in. The vaccine is in widespread use around the world, and the good news I began the segment with, the COVID rate falling in America is because of vaccines and vaccine mandates.

What`s that? Facts.


MELBER: Here`s a live shot outside the room where the January 6th committee will hold a vote on whether to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress facing possible jail time.


I want you to know tomorrow we`ll have reaction from a key member of the committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. He`ll be on THE BEAT tomorrow 6:00 pm Eastern. Join me for that, and our special coverage of this historic night continues, "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up right now.

Hi, Joy.