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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 10/22/21

Guests: Ezekiel Emanuel, Timothy Snyder


The road to authoritarianism is examined. Musician George Clinton speaks out. COVID cases continue to drop in the United States, as disinformation persists. New developments occur in the Matt Gaetz sex crimes probe. How close are Democrats to reaching an infrastructure deal? A former Giuliani ally is found guilty of campaign finance crimes.



Hi, Ari. Happy Friday.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Friday. Thank you, Nicolle.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And our top story tonight involves good news. COVID is dropping across America, down 24 percent in the last two weeks across the United States. You see the green arrow down. You see the drop. It`s a big deal.

I can also tell you that, in America, deaths from COVID-related causes are now down about 15 percent. That`s an improvement even for areas where Delta continues to wreak havoc.

There are many factors here, but experts and the data we have find that the main thing driving COVID down is vaccines, which work very well here. And we have a lot of data on that, a lot of people involved.

And the other factor is the mandates, which surge the use of vaccines. American courts are upholding these mandates. That was at one point, an early point of controversy. Of course, vaccine mandates have been upheld before for 100 years. They`re common in schools and the U.S. military.

Also a piece of good news, given what works, vaccine usage for children under 11, from about 5 to 11 years old, is expected to be approved and thus begin in a matter of weeks.

But we`re about a year-and-a-half into this pandemic. And we all know there have been other moments of progress that were later canceled out. There were other moments like this. If you`re watching me on television thinking, OK, in the news, they`re saying things are getting better, does that mean they will stay better, I will tell you, the answer is, we don`t know.

Tonight`s improving picture reflects recent history. It`s no guarantee of what happens next. Now, why is that? Well, partly, you never know what happens next, believe me. But, partly, it`s also related to the tougher news. And we have to deal with this together as well, the disinformation, the partisan opposition that continues to slow and hobble proven scientific methods to crush COVID.

And that`s our top story. And we`re going to do it rationally, as we try to do around here. So let`s start with some data.

This map continues to tell the story in America today. It is the number one public health and thus economic and school story -- it`s our lives -- because this map is going to tell us where we`re headed. The bright green, in essence, is higher vaccination rate areas, and you will see there lower hospitalization. That means people in those places are not being rushed to the hospital, which is good.

Purple is still where fewer people are getting vaccinated. And there -- again, this is data. This is not an opinion. This is not an extrapolation. This is what`s happening. Even if you don`t look at every little part of this map, the basic gist is, in those areas where people are less vaccinated, way more sick people are being rushed to the hospital with COVID-related problems.

So we are still living through a major geographic and political divide. And that`s part of what I want to talk to you about right now, because, if you look at this together rationally, what we`re dealing with is not the debate we had about masks, not the debate we have had about how to do this in school policy.

What we`re dealing with is a debate about whether science works. Whether science works is not a policy debate. And I emphasize that with you tonight before we begin our experts, because people who really want this to end or the debates we`re having sometimes mash all this stuff together.

The truth is, there are plenty of valid policy debates and tradeoffs. I have emphasized that in our coverage because that`s important, for example, how schools reopen, what you do with areas where vaccination has cleared out a lot of the risk and how much you require the people who choose not to be vaccinated to be excluded from things.

Those are policy debates. And we can have them. We should have them, as adult, rational debates in democracy. What`s not a debate and the only thing you need to keep in mind scientifically is that the vaccines do work. They work. They make it so you won`t die of COVID. I`m speaking as clearly and simply as possible.

And so, when I show you the map that people who don`t get vaccinated are more likely to die, that`s the situation we`re in right now. That`s the part that`s different than policy, because people are being lied to. You look at the map and you can say, well, if you live in one of those places, you`re more likely to get sick and die, and a lot of people are making decisions based on lies.

Take Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, who appointed someone as a state medical leader who claims there`s not enough knowledge yet about how vaccines work.



DR. JOSEPH LADAPO, FLORIDA SURGEON GENERAL: I mean, you hear these stories, people telling you what`s been happening in their lives, nurses, pregnant woman who are being forced to sort of put something in their bodies that we don`t know all there is to know about yet, no matter what people on TV tell you.


MELBER: I guess this is the part where someone on TV tells you something, but what you heard right there is vagueness masquerading as advice.

And if people believe that -- remember, if someone`s living in Florida, and they believe what their surgeon general tells them, they might think they`re following scientific advice. That`s why this propaganda is so dangerous and broken.

Now, I don`t think we should go out and attack and impugn everyone who`s just misinformed. The facts are, the CDC does know enough about vaccines to approve them. They`re one of the most widely used and safely used medical breakthroughs of this decade.

And I`m going to show this very briefly, but the most watched host on FOX News, who a lot of people also think is informing them, goes much further, falsely claiming that infections do not vary after vaccinations.

Now, a fact-check before you even hear this misinformation. The vaccinated are significantly less contagious. And the truth is, your chances of even catching COVID after vaccination are one in 5,000 or less.

What you`re about to see is false.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: The vaccinated spread COVID just like the unvaccinated. There`s no difference, actually. Look at the science.


MELBER: As you saw in the science, it says the opposite. Vaccinations work. They save lives. And there is a huge difference in the infection rate.

Now, science is only one part of the story. There`s also human beings. Take a family where both parents died about two weeks ago -- two weeks apart, I should say. They died from COVID. They left behind 5 children who are orphaned. Now, neither of those parents, tragically, were vaccinated and their surviving relatives are speaking out.


DON MITCHEM, FATHER OF COVID VICTIM: His last words were: "Dad, I`m scared to death."

If that don`t wake people, nothing will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His last words were a rebuttal to him not getting the vaccine. It was regret. I mean, you could hear the regret in his voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said: "Mom, I love you. And I wish I would have got the shot."


MELBER: "Mom, I love you, and I wish I would have got the shot."

Take that in. We can get so numb to this that we forget about all the real people involved. We can get so politicized that you start attacking and blaming people who -- those people who are now dead, they have our sympathy, were misinformed. And as they learn more and learn through experience, which is a tough and bad way to learn about life-threatening disease or illness, as they learn, they change their minds, which people have a right to do.

For them, it was too late. And they`re speaking out. And their family, their relatives or speaking out to say, if that doesn`t wake you up, what will? How do you even counter that?

Well, I`m sorry to say, but you need to know this, the counter is very tragic. Those same relatives I just showed you are also sharing that some people are now telling them those deaths, their dead family members, are itself -- quote -- "fake news."

I don`t use this word very often in my role as a journalist, but that`s disgusting. It`s sick. This misinformation is wrong. It`s also damaging. It puts propaganda and partisan crusades above life itself.

This cycle of propaganda tries to disappear the dead, including the dead that, sadly, there were listening to this propaganda until recently. It tries to disappear their cause of death, which continues the cycle of misinformation that we`re living through and misinformed decision.

And then we all face a greater risk, and people who listen to this stuff face a greater risk of death.

Now, as I showed you, things are getting better nationally. COVID is dropping. That is still the statistical trend line. But the trend line doesn`t have to be this slow. The ups and downs don`t have to last this long. We can do better if we learn the truth.

I`m joined now by Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who knows these issues well. He was an Obama White House health policy adviser. He`s vice provost of global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. And Katty Kay, a longtime Washington observer from the BBC and an MSNBC analyst.

Doctor, I`m doing my level best here, which may not be good enough. We`re all trying to go through this long-term problem with facts and empathy. I`m curious what you think. Should we all have empathy for these people who were misinformed, who were, I believe, often tricked into poor decisions for themselves?

What do you see here on the horizon of a story that is obviously taking too long, but requires our vigilance?


DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Yes, it is tragic that someone has to learn the truth and have misinformation dispelled on their deathbed. That is the worst, because you can`t do anything, you can`t revive them, and then they have leave five orphans.

It is also true that, as we have learned, mandates work. They get people who are sort of on the fence, hesitant, to actually get vaccinated. And that makes a big difference to the country. And it makes a big difference to actually getting the vaccine rate up.

But we have a long way to go, a really long way to go. If we`re going to get 85 percent of the population vaccinated, at the current rate, it`s going to take us into July 2022. If we want to get those masks off, really get back to normal, we got to get to 85 percent faster.

And the best I can see, the only way to do that is to get mandates, to get the prevalence, the amount of COVID circulating down. It won`t go to zero. And I think it`s correct we`re not just going to get rid of this. It`s not going to disappear like Zika. It is going to persist. We are going to have deaths, but we don`t have to have the level of deaths we`re having, still over 1,000 cases a day, 1,000 tragedies a day.

And we don`t -- we seem to become a little too numb to that.

MELBER: Katty, this disinformation is literally dangerous.


The kind of thing that Tucker Carlson is saying, with the platform that he has and the number of people he reaches every night, could literally kill people, if people decide to use that as another excuse in their kind of range of weaponry for the reasons that they are not getting vaccinated.

Oxford University did a very big study at the beginning of October that showed that, if you have been vaccinated, you are 30 to 65 percent less likely to transmit COVID to somebody else than if you have not been vaccinated. The range there is because different vaccines work at different degrees. But everybody who has been vaccinated, according to that very comprehensive study, is less likely to transmit COVID.

That`s the fact. The reason that you have courts across the country, judges across this country appointed by Republicans and Democrats throwing out lawsuits against vaccine mandates is because vaccines are there for a public health benefit. It`s not just for you and me, Ari, or for Dr. Emanuel. It`s for everybody else.

That`s why you get vaccinated, because you don`t transmit to the same degree. And so you protect the vulnerable. We have to do a massive factual campaign to counter all the disinformation out there, because the disinformation is going to kill people.

MELBER: Right. And that`s what`s so critical.

I mean, Doctor, there`s got to be a difference, ethically and medically, between someone having a well-informed conscientious objection, which may mean they also have to sacrifice other rights and privileges, right, but they may have that knowledgeably. And that`s got to be different than someone who`s told, X will kill you. OK, that I don`t want X.

I feel for that person, Doctor. I mean, that`s a that`s a logical interpretation of a lie. And so when you find out, oh, X won`t kill you, not only that, X might save your life, well, the same logic could lead you to a different outcome.

I know I`m sort of belaboring it, but it`s that simple.

And, Doctor, we`re up against things like -- I`m going to show you this headline in Nashville. This coming weekend, they`re holding a big conference, getting everybody together to have an anti-vaccine conference, where activists get together. This Tennessee couple, the Bollingers, they have actually been labeled by groups that are concerned about this as some of the biggest spreaders of vaccine misinformation, so-called super- spreaders. They say they`re super-spreaders of truth.

Doctor, does anything else in your adult life, which is, as mentioned, has been dealing with medical policy at the highest levels of the White House, bent up against this kind of organized propaganda, medically?

EMANUEL: Well, it`s interesting.

In addition, I`m an oncologist, and I treat cancer patients. And these Bollingers have been propagating false treatments for cancer, arguing against chemotherapy that cure people of their cancer. They are all full of suspicion and conspiracy with no evidence.

And what I really worry about is, they`re going to bring a lot of people together, exploit them, charging huge amounts of money, almost $1,000, give them lots of false information about cancer, about COVID, and then send them back out. This -- that`s clearly very dangerous.

We do have a lot of people who aren`t into this the way we are, haven`t gone to the depths, and are -- easily can believe that the safest vaccines we have produced in a long, long time, maybe ever, are somehow dangerous for you.


They`re -- every intervention will have some danger, but if you compare the danger of getting COVID to the danger of a vaccine, COVID is much better on an any measure you want to get.


EMANUEL: And if you`re older -- especially if you`re older, your chance of being sick and dying from -- with a vaccine are 11 times less than if you`re unvaccinated.



Well, and, Doctor, there`s only two -- there`s only two ways to get information, right?


EMANUEL: Ari, I don`t know we`re going to convince everyone by rational talk, laying out the science, et cetera.

That`s why I think we have gone over to -- we have to go over to mandates and getting people who we can get there.

MELBER: No, I hear you.

EMANUEL: The other thing I would say is that freedom to do what you want with yourself, we all agree to that. But when you -- what you do begins to threaten other people`s health, other people`s lives, other people`s situation, that`s not freedom.

You`re encroaching on me. And that`s the problem.


No, let me jump in and make the point here, Doctor. You talk about rational. And we have had other experts to talk about how people get information. Well, there`s two ways to get information, right?


MELBER: You can get it from knowledge. That`s what you have as a doctor. That`s why we have you on. You can get it from experience. That`s why we played the tragic testimony of those now dead parents with five orphaned children.

So I get that people -- and you know this from politics. It`s not all a rational chart. We start with Dr. Emanuel. We will take to Dr. Emanuels. There are people -- I hate to belabor this point, Doctor. There are people, including your mother, who say that being a doctor is better than being an agent.

But, again, that`s -- I don`t have time to get into that tonight. But we take doctors here because we do the news.

You can also take the experience, Katty.

And I want to play one thing from the president. We`re running over on time, I`m told, but, Katty, take a listen to how the president was rebutting this liberty argument.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The two things that concern me, one are those who just try to make this a political issue, freedom. I have the freedom to kill you with my COVID.


BIDEN: No. I mean, come on. Freedom, number one.

Number two, the second one is that the gross misinformation that`s out there.


MELBER: Katty, the president there at the town hall in Baltimore.

I give you the final word on this topic tonight.

KAY: Look, understandably frustrated. We have heard it from President Biden before.

And we are heading into winter. They are having a COVID surge in the U.K. at the moment. They are at a vaccination rate of 70 percent. It`s above ours. It`s just a word of warning to people. This is not over. And if people do not get vaccinated, you could go back to the kind of mask-wearing and isolation and potentially crowded hospitals that we had before.

I understand why the president is getting frustrated.


Katty Kay, MSNBC analyst, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, thanks to both of you on this important story.

I want to tell everyone what we have coming up, because there`s a lot of other stuff, including politics, where a MAGA plot to undermine the next election is getting exposed.

A verdict in that criminal trial against a former Giuliani associate who was in on that Ukraine-Biden plot. It`s a chance to look at how consequences matter.

And, later tonight, we end the week in style with funk legend George Clinton. He`s here with our friend Ayman Mohyeldin by the end of the hour, so stay with us.




CUBA GOODING JR., ACTOR: Show me the money.

Jerry, you better yell.

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Show me the money! Show me the money!


MELBER: Show me the money. It`s a movie classic, "Jerry Maguire," of course.

Tom Cruise is a sports agent. And he`s reassuring his client there that this deal will finally eventually get done, the money will come in. And that`s sort of maybe where some in the Democratic Party are getting to, because it has been a lot of negotiating and a lot of talking about the money and the trillions.

And, tonight, top Democrats are now trying to say the money will be shown. They`re telling liberals the deal is coming on this spending plan. It could be as soon as next week. At least, that`s what people in the House are saying, and the speaker making it clear. Take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We had a very positive meeting this morning. I`m very optimistic about where we go from here.

QUESTION: But you feel like a deal is close?

PELOSI: I think it`s very possible.


MELBER: President Biden, meanwhile, is trying to sort of manage the expectations, right?

They control, the Democratic Party, both branches here. And yet the standoff has really drawn attention to the fact that there is a lot of gap between the Biden sort of progressive preference of higher spending and where Manchin and others are.

And so now you have Biden basically dancing a little bit closer to Manchin and trying to cede the ground, telling liberals that maybe they won`t get everything on their collective wish list. Of course, Biden`s a moderate, but he`s made a big point of including a lot of this stuff in his opening bid. And he`s saying that`s only a this time kind of thing, that he will remember the goals and keep working on them.


BIDEN: I`m prepared to do the things that can get done now that can begin to change the lives of ordinary Americans to give them a fighting chance and come back and try to get others later.


MELBER: Take it all together, and you might have the vision going into the weekend that Biden, the speaker, they`re close. They`re talking about compromising, which would conceivably help you get to the win. And that means, when they say as soon as next week, maybe that`s going to happen.

But it doesn`t end there, because you need the 50 votes, which means any single senator, and especially those more likely to hold out, like Joe Manchin, well, they have the vote on this, which means they have the veto.

And Manchin is saying -- quote -- "Next week is unlikely." And then you have Senator Sinema, who, like the oracle, doesn`t say much.

A top Democrat, meanwhile, in the House, had a closed-door meeting with her and relayed that she`s ready to deal and does get that, for Democrats, the Biden plan in some form is a must-pass.


So are we farther along? Has the story changed? I`m not going to try to put a conclusion on it. I`m just telling you that`s what we`re hearing. Some Democrats say they`re close to a deal soon, others saying, well, not next week.

And many liberals, who want the trillions for things that will help in this unequal pandemic recession, well, many liberals are still telling Biden, show us the money.

We`re going to fit in our shortest break, just 60 seconds, but when we come back, an update, with the feds making a move in that Matt Gaetz sex crimes probe.

And we have the perfect guest. It`s Friday, and Maya Wiley back on THE BEAT in one minute.


MELBER: New signs of problems for MAGA Congressman Matt Gaetz.

He has been under investigation for the sex trafficking and sex with a minor probe. He denies all allegations. But the Justice Department did make some news here, hiring two brand-new prosecutors who specialize in child exploitation and public corruption to work on this very case.

Is the case near the end, or in the middle? What does it all mean?

Well, we have, we think, a great expert to get into the news. Maya Wiley was a civil prosecutor in the famed SDNY. She also ran for mayor of New York.



MELBER: Good to have you.

This is a very interesting piece of news. We have been monitoring this case. I have always said, if it ends with no charges, declination, we will report. That would be good news for Mr. Gaetz. If it ends differently, we will cover that. It`s a big deal.

Given that you have worked in these kind of federal offices, what is your interpretation of this news that they have added these prosecutors?

WILEY: Well, there`s no question that adding these prosecutors means the case is growing.

What we have heard is the prosecutors they`re adding are seasoned prosecutors on public corruption and sex crimes. So that also suggests the direction in which the case is expanding. And that`s really one that Matt Gaetz has to worry about, because that`s related to the things that he apparently is being investigated for, that he himself has publicly said he`s being investigated for, right?


WILEY: He said it on "Tucker Carlson" back in the spring, and sort of talked about people alleging that there were photographs with him and young women.

So I don`t think there`s any question he has something to be concerned about. We should be very clear, though, we don`t know the direction of the investigation. Mr. Greenberg`s attorney, however, when Mr. Greenberg, Mr. Gaetz`s friend, said he was going to start cooperating, his attorney said, Matt Gaetz will not be happy.

MELBER: Yes, and that goes to what we don`t know. And I appreciate your precision there.

We don`t know where the case is headed, which means we don`t know who it might target, a legal term of art, if they have one or more targets. But your view is that you don`t add prosecutors like this just to deal with the leftovers of Mr. Greenberg`s case, because he`s already pled. You would add prosecutors because you might be charging others. Who, we don`t know.

WILEY: Correct. The case is growing. So they`re growing the team. It`s that simple.

You don`t go to the finals, if you`re in the NBA, without your first -- without your best players. And that`s what`s happening here. And that suggests that this case is growing. And given the nature of the case -- remember, this is a sex trafficking allegation, and it includes public officials.

So that`s why I`m not surprised to see expertise into public integrity, public corruption, as well as sex crimes.


Maya, always good to get your precise analysis. Thank you, and wishing you a good weekend.

I want to tell them what`s coming up.

From the big lie to the upcoming elections, the MAGA effort is bearing fruit because they have specific plots. We are talking about how that`s being exposed with an expert who understands authoritarianism.


Also, a former Giuliani ally found guilty, convicted on campaign finance crimes. What does that mean?

All that ahead.


MELBER: Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were busted for their Ukraine plot against Joe Biden. Trump got impeached for it.

But many of asked, would any of these folks face other consequences? Well, there`s related news on that right now, Rudy Giuliani`s former business associate convicted today. It took a jury all of one day to find Lev Parnas guilty on six counts of campaign finance violations. It`s not the exact Ukraine plot, but plenty related issues, including illegally funneling foreign cash to help Republicans in the midterms, as well as trying to enrich himself and advance business interest.

Parnas would face technically decades in prison, potentially, and he spoke outside court with his lawyer after this verdict.


LEV PARNAS, INDICTED GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: Obviously, I`m upset. At this time, I just want to get home to my wife and kids.

QUESTION: Are you going to file an appeal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to start by filing post-verdict motions. That`s our -- that`s scheduled.

PARNAS: But it`s not the end of the story. The story is still to come.


MELBER: Parnas closely tied to both Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump.


He worked with Giuliani, as mentioned, to try to dirty up the Bidens with these plots in Ukraine during the 2020 election. Now, according to our court system, he also is guilty of illegally engaging in other elections in America.

Giuliani is still under criminal investigation by the feds. This week, he`s busy doing other things. He sent out a video where he says he`s impersonating Abraham Lincoln. All of this is, he says, related to the Virginia governor`s race.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Virginia, vote against the man who dishonored our past by selling my bedroom hundreds and hundreds of times to scoundrels.


MELBER: Now that you have seen that, you cannot unsee it, but we did keep it brief.

We have a lot coming up in the program. We`re looking at authoritarianism with an expert. And it`s basically how we have an eye on the way Republicans are trying to install people to potentially steal the next election, but also what can be done about it.

Stay with us.



MELBER: We`re tracking new signals on how some Republicans are trying to undermine the next election.

Donald Trump feverishly endorsing certain candidates for otherwise obscure posts, but they oversee the elections in three key swing states that he lost last time, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan. These are candidates who previously supported the big lie.

One of them actually was steps away from the Capitol during the insurrection riot. He claims he never went inside, but you can see. He`s that one there, circled in red, I should say, in the larger photo.

Another joined Trump on stage last month, pushing election lies and so- called election integrity.


TRUMP: Jody is running against one of the worst secretary of states in America, RINO Brad Raffensperger, who is trying to turn the tables on me because I`m fighting for election integrity.

REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): Nobody understands the disaster of the lack of election integrity like the people of Georgia. And now is hour to take it back.


MELBER: The third spoke at a big lie rally last week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our legislators have no choice but to do a forensic audit. People mocking the audit are really ignorant.


MELBER: She`s also attending a QAnon conference in Las Vegas. This is a person who is trying to oversee the facts of an election.

So, if Trump gets his way and many Republicans in the current party, these are the individuals who then would supervise voting in these battleground states. They would have power during the voting and afterward and counting it.

Meanwhile, just yesterday -- we`re tracking this for you because it matters -- one of the Trump lawyers who tried to overturn the election last time is now the acting secretary of state in Texas.

You know, when we look at authoritarian governments abroad, it can be easy to forget that some of them used to be democracies.

And that brings us to an important conversation. Our next guest is an expert on the shift to authoritarianism. Historian Tim Snyder wrote an influential "New York Times" piece about the riot in the days after and why it could happen again.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": We have booked here on the show a man named Timothy Snyder. He wrote something at the very beginning of the Trump administration that has proven to be a real anchor for these times.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN: One of the world`s foremost experts on authoritarianism.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Quote: "History can familiarize and it can warn" -- end quote.

That is a prescient quote from the book "On Tyranny."


MELBER: Yale history professor Timothy Snyder is our special guest.

I should mention the graphic edition of the book "On Tyranny" is out now.

And we have some Snyder trivia here. It is Friday, so it can`t all be fascism.

I heard that you speak five languages and can read about 10.

TIMOTHY SNYDER, PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: Yes, that`s correct. And in current circumstances, as you already suggested, it`s pretty helpful.


MELBER: There you go. Well, shout-out to that. That`s wild.

As for your expertise, when you see this effort to put this much pressure on installing partisan officials who have embraced lies, and tried to overturn elections, in these official positions for next election, how concerned should we be? What, if any, foreign analogs do you see?

SNYDER: Well, as someone who follows contemporary Russia, there is a Russian phrase that comes to mind, which is the administrative resource.

And what the administrative resource means in Russian is that, sure, you have an election, but the people who are running the election are going to determine how the election turns out.

What the Republicans are going for is precisely that thing, the administrative resource. Historically speaking, what we know about a big lie is that it`s -- because of its very scale, it`s not about truth or not truth. It`s about living in a kind of alternative reality.

And what we`re looking at is people who believe in or pretend to believe in this big lie actually carrying out our elections. And the problem with this, or one of them, is that since these people have already claimed that the other side cheated, that basically legitimates their cheating.

In other words, if you talk about the big lie now, you`re basically promising to cheat the next time around. And that`s very concerning.

MELBER: How worried are you that the United States could face a situation where coordinated efforts by these kinds of officials could actually swing an election?

SNYDER: Oh, we don`t need the could face. It`s -- I mean, I would say we should be thinking about this as what is happening, and then ask ourselves what we can do to prevent it.


I mean, it`s very clear that some combination of people who talk about the big lie being in important administrative posts, along with non-legal or extralegal reviews of the election, perhaps along with the states claiming for themselves the right to allocate electoral votes, against the wishes of their own people, some combination of that is clearly in the works, alongside voter suppression, which has a long and dark history in our country.

The scenario for 2024 for most influential people around Donald Trump, which unfortunately means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election. That`s very consistent with everything Mr. Trump has ever said in 2016, 2020, and now.

So I don`t think it`s something that could happen. I think it`s something that`s under way. And the question is, can we accept this reality and time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?

MELBER: You know, you have a very somber, measured speaking style for something that a lot of people would be screaming about. I guess that`s your nature, which we respect.

But you`re saying, wake up, this is on, it`s happening, and it`s designed to end democracy as we know in America, which, again, is chilling coming from you, because, as emphasized, you`re an expert on this. You`re not saying this because of your personal feelings about Donald Trump. You`re telling us how this stuff works.

I guess the remaining question then is, a skeptic might say, well, was Donald Trump just late? I mean, he had a lot of power as an incumbent president. Why didn`t he get involved in secretary of state offices earlier? It almost seems like we watched someone lumber towards this type of chicanery.

SNYDER: First of all, thanks for staying I look calm. That`s actually one of the lessons of "On Tyranny," be calm when the unthinkable arrives. You`re not allowed to panic. If you panic, you lose.

When it comes to Mr. Trump and his coup style, I mean, what we know historically is that a failed coup is a trial run for a successful coup. Usually, when you when you fail in a coup, something happens to you. And Mr. Trump, nothing has happened to him.

So we`re now looking at a situation where, instead of just a person who makes the kind of disorganized attempt, relying on personal charisma and signals to his followers, a few people in the Justice Department and hope, we now have that person, plus a whole bunch of institutional machinery, plus a whole lot of time to plan.

So that`s the scenario. The reason why I`d be more worried about 2024 than about 2020 is that you have the person, plus the lie, which is new, plus the institutions, which are getting worse.

MELBER: You lay it out clearly. I hope people are listening.

We showed in the introduction, where you have been right before. If you`re right, again, it`s a serious warning.

And, Professor Snyder, I hope you will come back.

SNYDER: It depends on us.

Thank you very much.

MELBER: Yes, sir. The book is "On Tyranny," out now if you want to learn more.

Coming up, we have a special conversation. Ayman Mohyeldin drops by. We`re talking politics and accountability. That`s next.



MELBER: And now we turn to something I`m super excited about, a very special edition of "Fallback."

I`m joined by the master of P-Funk, himself, the originator, the innovator, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Grammy winner George Clinton, who famously led the bands Parliament and Funkadelic, and is still at it.

He`s collaborated across genres, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Kendrick Lamar. He`s been sampled in hundreds of songs you know, and is soon to be immortalized, finally, I would say overdue, on the Walk of Fame. It`s also been announced that rapper Wiz Khalifa is going to play him in a new film.

Also with us, our friend and colleague Ayman Mohyeldin, who was on the ground covering some of the largest international stories of our time, from the Egyptian revolution, to the migrant crisis across Central America, also one of the first Western journalists to cover the trial of Saddam Hussein from inside Iraq.

He now, of course, hosts "AYMAN MOHYELDIN REPORTS" weekday afternoons right here on MSNBC.

And by the end of this segment, he may get even a little bit funkier.



CLINTON: ... hang out.


AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: ... cool. I can`t be -- I can`t get as funk as this.

CLINTON: Oh, yes, you can.

He was funking last night. He was funking.


MELBER: I was a guest.


MELBER: But I learned as I went.

CLINTON: Oh, you was getting it on.


MELBER: Well, we will get into all the funk.

I`m going to have home court advantage. What`s on your "Fallback" list?

MOHYELDIN: So, I like to keep my eyes on things happening internationally.

And, this week, since the theme is a little bit to do with music, Kim Jong- un, the dictator of North Korea, he is really pissed off about K-pop. He thinks K-pop is going to ruin North Korea, that it is, as you see there, somehow corrupting the minds of young North Koreans.

If you don`t know, K-pop is South Korean music.


MOHYELDIN: It has taken the world by storm, even folks here in the U.S. starting to get into it. The music is amazing.

But now it is a national security threat for the North Korean dictator.

MELBER: I appreciate you shining a light on something going on over there that looks very authoritarian.

And yet we can also learn from that looking within, because we have seen artists throughout American history who`ve had this government go against them.

CLINTON: Yes, too much funk in it. The K-pop kids, they have been shaking it. They be doing their thing.

MELBER: Why do you think that threatens sometimes the establishment?

CLINTON: I don`t know. It`s like the TikTok thing too.

The kids have something to say. It`s their version of reality. It`s their version of the world. And you can`t treat them like you treat grownups. So he would be scared that the kids are learning and...

MELBER: Thinking for themselves.

CLINTON: Thinking for themselves.


CLINTON: And when you`re dancing and funking around, you`re thinking for yourself. You know what I`m saying?

So, I can imagine them being -- and I like the music. I actually like K- pop.

MELBER: Oh, yes, it`s got a real -- I mean, it`s fast. It`s got a real energy.


CLINTON: ... dancing. Whenever you dance and shaking your booty, I`m down. I don`t care who is doing it.


MELBER: Don`t get where it is or what it is.

CLINTON: I don`t know who it is.

MELBER: I love that.

MOHYELDIN: Music is universal.

MELBER: George, what`s on your "Fallback" list?

CLINTON: Well, my "Fallback" list is going to be whoever`s in charge of bringing charges against those insurrectionist people at the January 6 thing.

They get to fall back on these lenient charges they`re bringing, because that put the interpretation on how seriously it is. If you give them a light charge, it don`t seem to be like it`s all that serious.

Those people were trying to overthrow the country. They were trying to overthrow the whole entire country. And that`s not something you take lightly.


I mean, I know the privilege thing is in effect, but I don`t think you really want to be in that much in effect, because if you don`t get charged for it right, they`re going to do it again.

MELBER: What you just said, they`re going to do it again, I mean, Ayman, we have talked about this in our coverage.

There was a writer who said, an attempted coup, without punishment, becomes a training exercise.

CLINTON: Yes. Yes. That`s a good one. I like that.

MOHYELDIN: And to George`s point, when you`re looking at it, I think, from a legal point of view, some of the prosecution of these cases is -- and you know this better than I do -- it`s, oh, they trespassed, or they violated, or they were somewhere that they shouldn`t have been, or they stole something out of an office.

But the reality is, to George`s point, what was the collective doing? What were they trying to do collectively?


MOHYELDIN: And what is the charge? What is the actual decision to punish for trying to subvert democracy?


And both of you are speaking to, what do we want to do about this as a society? Because, yes, trespassing because you were lost, right, or because you were looking for the funk, right, but you didn`t want to hurt anybody, you might have trespassed, is really different than trespassing to help other people violently overthrow the government.


I mean, and privilege will lead you to do that. If you think you have got a right to do that, that it ain`t no big thing, I mean, you just take it for granted that you can do it. That`s why a lot of them don`t think they actually did anything wrong.

MELBER: Yes. No, I think you put it well.

CLINTON: You know?

But that`s what actually got them in trouble. They should actually get punished for it, because -- I hate to keep saying it, but if anybody else had done that, people of color, I hate to even think of what the possibilities would have happened there.

MELBER: I hear you on that 100 percent.

Because, in "Fallback," we do like to jump around, I heard you also had something tobacco-related on your fallback list.

CLINTON: Oh, the other one was the commercials. I mean, they should not -- you don`t need commercials for any cigarettes or any tobacco, any drugs, really, as far as I`m concerned.

You really shouldn`t have commercials for it. But for cigarettes and aim -- and tobacco -- and aiming them at kids to get them to do it because it`s cool and because it`s hip.

MELBER: Yes, they`re trying to make vaping the next cool thing.

CLINTON: Yes, that`s not fair. That`s not -- I mean, they should fall back on that. They should just stop that. That`s not right at all.

MOHYELDIN: Yes, no doubt about it.

I mean, trying to go after young kids that are impressionable with advertisements and flavors, I think, is very dangerous. And I think, as a society, if we don`t collectively put an end to this now, we may find ourselves with trying -- with what happened with tobacco in the `60s, `70s and `80s, when it was part of the culture.

CLINTON: Yes, cool Joe.

MOHYELDIN: Exactly. And then...


MELBER: Joe the camel.

CLINTON: Joe the camel. I thought he was cool myself. I didn`t even smoke, and I thought he was cool.

MELBER: And, by the way, shout-out to Joe the camel. It is not about him, but the people who drew him for kids.


MELBER: If Joe the camel walked in here...

CLINTON: He would be cool.


MELBER: ... if he got off the mother ship, I`d be happy to give him a chair.


MELBER: But when you say, this is a product for adults, why are we selling it with a children`s cartoon?


CLINTON: Yes, that`s the point I`m talking about.


MOHYELDIN: The irony of it is that it`s -- you have to be a certain age to buy stuff, but they`re targeting it for people...


CLINTON: And it`s actually hip for kids when they can do something that you don`t want them to do.

MOHYELDIN: Yes, exactly.

MELBER: Right. Sure.

CLINTON: No is the greatest aphrodisiac there ever was. No is a turn-on.

You tell especially a kid, don`t do that, oh, don`t do that, don`t touch that, you mean -- I mean, little babies know that.



CLINTON: They know they get your attention by doing that.

MELBER: Facts, yes.

MOHYELDIN: I got a 2-year-old. I can confirm that`s true.

MELBER: There you go.


MELBER: So, before we go here, Ayman has been all around the world.

So, like you, he`s had all these experiences. But different than you, that`s in his mind and soul. But day to day, he looks so straight-edge.


MELBER: If you wanted to funkify him a little bit, what would you do?


CLINTON: Well, no, I have been watching him a long time, so I always thought he was cool anyway.

MELBER: Oh, he`s cool.

CLINTON: He`s cool.

MELBER: But he looks straight, straight-edge.

CLINTON: Oh, no, he can be funky like that, he just whipped his shirt up and...


MELBER: Would you tell him loosen the tie?

CLINTON: Loosen the tie.

MOHYELDIN: Let`s do it. Why not?

CLINTON: Yes. Yes.

Like I said, you was on it last night, so...


MELBER: Now he looks like he`s making it through the show. We love that.

I love both of you being here together.

CLINTON: Thank you.

MELBER: Let me make sure you guys dap it out. Boom.

MOHYELDIN: It`s a pleasure.

MELBER: Two legends coexisting.


MELBER: George Clinton, thank you for coming back. Ayman Mohyeldin.

MOHYELDIN: Always a pleasure.

MELBER: Sometimes, you got to loosen the tie.

And I want to tell you, you can find a full interview I did with George Clinton 80 years old and going strong one-on-one. You can check it out on my social media @AriMelber. Or just go on YouTube. As we tell people, search "George Clinton and Melber" on YouTube, "George Clinton and Melber."

He told me about the time he saw a UFO with his own eyes, he says, and his tips for staying funky through the years. So, that`s another 15 minutes we did. When we get legends in here, we do extra stuff with them. That`s online. You can always find me @AriMelber.

I will see you Monday.

We`re going to go to "THE REIDOUT," where Tiffany Cross, my friend, is in for my friend Joy.