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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 10/28/21

Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Tim Miller, Elie Mystal, Nancy Erika Smith


President Biden touting historic economic deal on a framework which the Progressive Caucus have endorsed on principle only and conservative Democratic holdouts dodging the new Biden plan. Virginia Democrats trying to tie Republican Glenn Youngkin to Trump, while the GOP candidate eludes the former president on the trail, while endorsing his key policies. Ahead of new election, GOP installing big lie believers in key voting jobs while purging officials unwilling to overturn elections. Former New York governor charged with misdemeanors sex crime, but continued to deny past allegations.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It is hard to tell.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: It`s really hard to tell. You know, there are very few edicts from my time in politics that still hold, but I think this one does. If the Democrats can make sure that they don`t let perfect become the enemy of pretty damned good, then they move the ball. If they can`t do that, if you`re going to see them on frankly our network and other places complaining about what they didn`t get then they`ll not have moved the ball at all, and they will have also done a lot of harm to Biden`s presidency.


WALLACE: So it`s all in their hands and I think we should always be sure not to just cover disagreements within the Democratic Party but to always broaden it to the fact that Republicans are totally freaking AWOL, e- mailing, lying president`s lying letter to the editor around amongst themselves, and talking in bars according to "Politico Playbook" about how they can vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt because then the crazies would get them in primaries.

They`ve been revealed and we should always, not for their benefit but for accuracy and for context show both parties.

MELBER: Yes. That`s very fair point about again spending as it`s trying to deal with the recession and everything that people are going through hard times. You know, we do our reporting, we do our reading around here but some days I`m like, I just got to phone a friend.


WALLACE: You can always call me. You know where to find me.

MELBER: Nice to see you, Nicolle, as always.

WALLACE: You too.

MELBER: I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber and we have more on the news or developments that Nicolle and I were just talking about that we`re trying to kind of trying to interpret around here because President Biden did formally delay this planned morning departure to Europe for the G20 that was today which seems like a sign that`s spending negotiations are getting close, maybe.

Because today was at times just a policy rollercoaster. Progressives and this group of holdout Democrats made what could be the final moves in the march to pass this giant spending package that is so crucial to Biden`s opening plans for his administration and according to the president crucial for America.

Now what is the president telling us? Why is this like I said to be just honest and transparent with you? A little hard to interpret. Well, he comes out and he combines sort of the victorious language of historic, with the well-worn Washington caveat of a framework implying no final written legislation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After months of tough and thoughtful negotiations, I think we have an historic, I know we have historic economic framework. No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that`s what compromise is. That`s consensus and that`s what I ran on.


MELBER: No one got everything they wanted, Biden almost dipping into past tense implying that this is ending because he`s won and there are signs -- this is what I want to show you -- of a spending consensus of sorts. There`s new funding in this framework for universal pre-care for child tax credit, some kind of provisions. It`s a $1.75 trillion plan, which is far lower than where Biden started because it also cuts out paid leave, Medicare expansion and funding college tuition. Liberal leaders are generally receptive.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Everyone in the room enthusiastically endorsed a resolution that approves in principle the framework that the president laid out today.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He said he`s confident he can get the votes.

JAYAPAL: It wasn`t I think -- it wasn`t clear whether the two centers have committed to vote for it. So, you know, look, I think it`s a bit of a leap of faith in the president.


MELBER: Faith is fair as a descriptive because even with all the movement we`re showing you mostly by Democrats who want a more ambitious package, they`ve been moving down, the holdout senators of 2021 are, tonight, now get this, wait until you hear this, they`re still kind of holding out. Even on this new caveat and framework that headlines here that Manchin and Sinema are warming to this new deal but refusing to state explicit support.

And while Manchin had privately lobbied for a cap of $1.5 trillion tonight he said on record he can support $1.75 which is the Biden counteroffer. So that make him kind of the more specific holdout in the Senate, giving Democrats some confidence that they may now tonight have about 49 votes, maybe 50.

Speaker Pelosi says the current package is now still transformational and there`s evidence for that. You know, experts on the human mind have documented the anchoring effect if you hear about a car selling for $30,000 and then you see it priced at $20,000, it registers as low in your mind, low, period. Totally apart from the car`s actual value.

Now Biden has been pushing for a much larger package than any modern Democratic president, citing the pandemic and inequality, and tonight`s compromise framework still does register as smaller to anyone who`s been following the details. The Democrats are insisting that is still a momentary mood, and that it`s not even really rooted in facts and policy history.


Consider the last time a Democratic administration was spending anything like this, it was in the emergency mode right when Obama came into office after the historic market crash and that Obama-Biden stimulus was roughly $800 billion in 2009 dollars.

Today`s compromise is still after these cuts roughly double that, an investment that is huge and unusual, even if the process has included this shrinking top line and frankly, a lot of boring Washington negotiation.

Let`s go to our analyst tonight, we have "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg, an MSNBC contributor Katty Kay, and out on the Hill NBC News senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake who has been all over this, and I know you`ve been tracking this and may have developing news for us now.

Go ahead, sir.

GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS SENIOR CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ari, there`s not going to be a vote tonight on the hard infrastructure bill. The president had wanted it, Speaker Pelosi had called for it explicitly in the meeting this morning with Democrats and the president but given Progressive House Democrats saying they will not vote for that hard infrastructure bill until the broader Build Back Better Bill is ready to go and can be voted on simultaneously.

Tonight House leaders have announced they`re going to vote on another surface transportation bill, basically a little extension. They`re going to kick the can a little bit further down the road, and try to get that bill across the finish line, potentially next week when perhaps the framework that was announced today could also be ready to go as real-life legislation.

MELBER: Michelle?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: You know, yes, when I`ve spoken to Pramila Jayapal, the head of the House Progressive Caucus, and other people involved in this negotiation. And I think they`ve been really clear that they need to be sure that there`s going to be -- you know, that they`re not going to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill only to see the deal that they think that they have agreed to turned into something unrecognizable in this Senate.

I really understand the people who are kind of anxious and frustrated watching this play out. It does make you wonder, you know, kind of this country is still governable. And I`ve even spoken to members of the Progressive Caucus who are uncomfortable with this level of brinksmanship because they just understand how important all of this is for Joe Biden`s presidency and how important the success of Joe Biden`s presidency is for the survival of American democracy.

But I think from the point of view of a lot of progressives, if you have to hold out for another week to make sure that thing really is as transformational as it looks to be, even in its truncated form, then that`s worth it.

MELBER: Yes, and Katty, I mean, this is still math. Either you have 50 or you don`t, and I think folks have followed this enough to see that if you do something without the 50, and they`re saying in public they`re not explicitly with you, then they may end up against you.

KATTY KAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, that`s what you`re hearing from progressives tonight that even if Joe Manchin were to come out and say, yes, I support this framework, which he`s been kind of oddly coy about, saying even though he`s been asked about it by every reporter up on Capitol Hill, Garrett included, and he`s just backed away from giving his whole- hearted endorsement of this.

But then you`ve got people like Congresswoman Bush who`s saying, look, I -- it`s a vote that we need, it`s a vote in the Senate we need. We don`t just want to hear their language and hear what they have to say. We actually have to see what they`re going to vote on. And the lack of trust in the Democratic Party is astonishing at the moment.

Look, if all of this gets passed, Democrats are right. Democrats I hear from in the White House and on Capitol Hill are right, nobody`s going to care. If this gets passed eventually no one is going to care that it`s taking an extra week and progressives will think it`s right to hold out for that extra week. The question is if it gets passed.

MELBER: Yes, exactly, which goes back to those two holdouts, Katty Kay name-checking Garrett, and Garrett, I`m sure you`ve seen the (INAUDIBLE) live bits, there`ve been memes, I mean, two individuals that may not have been household names last year control the keys to the economy, to the Biden agenda, and as Michelle Goldberg reminded folks politically also what a lot of the party thinks is essential to prove they can govern in this post-Trump era against sort of this authoritarianism on the far right.

You have been there, and even though you didn`t know we`re doing this, we`re going to do it right now a little tour through the fact-finding you`ve been doing as all of America wonders where these two are headed. Take a look.


HAAKE: You signed that letter back in July. Why have you not been more clear about your priorities publicly?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I was trying to honor my agreement.

HAAKE: Top line number on the reconciliation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You -- I think you the statement we put out last week --

HAAKE: I did. Senator, I`m just wondering why feel that you don`t have to say literally anything about this publicly.

Senator, the president keeps asking you for a number, for a price tag. Can you give him one today?


MANCHIN: I don`t think that`s what the meeting is about. I think we`re just talking about the overall, the overall bill.


MELBER: What have you gleaned about these two? What do they want as of tonight?

HAAKE: Well, the challenges they want different things and they`ve gone about it in different ways, but in some frustrating ways, they`re the exact same. Joe Manchin is very uncomfortable with anything that he sees as big spending that could change the way Americans live their lives. Progressives would say these are good improvements, these are things we want to change the way that people live their lives.

But Manchin is kind of a throw-back and he is a conservative Democrat, and he`s just not comfortable with a lot of these programs. Paid family leave is a great example. He`s being lobbied constantly on that issue by his Democratic colleagues who see that as a transformational thing that government can provide to the American people and he`s just like not there, and he`s very comfortable talking about the process that he goes through to get there and he`s comfortable talking to his colleagues about it and he talks to the press, although he doesn`t often say a lot that directs you into his thinking but he`s willing to kind of think out loud.

Sinema is the other way. She has chosen to be a complete black box when it comes to her thinking on issues. She doesn`t talk about them to the press. She talks about them to a very narrow degree to her colleagues. Sometimes she talks about them back home in Arizona, and the thing that`s been really flummoxing to all of us is her stance on taxes, which has been really difficult to penetrate beyond. She doesn`t want to raise rates at all.

Today they were the same in that both of them have been so locked in with the White House, they have both made the point that the White House knows exactly what they think on every issue and today given so many opportunities, neither one of them would come out and just directly say this framework, there was negotiated with me is something that I am committed to supporting.

And that was the most striking thing today. They know more about what`s in this framework and have demanded more things be in or out of it, than any other two lawmakers up here on Capitol Hill. And they were the two today who had the least to say about their commitment to it.

MELBER: Well, just briefly to tease out the point you`re raising then, if the president comes out and says we`re basically done, as I noted, slipping into past tense, and they were in the meetings, do you believe that they really have a meeting of the minds with the two senators or just -- this is their style, the sort of the very, you know, oracle style or is it possible that there`s some daylight?

HAAKE: I think it`s possible that there is still some daylight here. Look, Manchin, because he says so much and has been so public on this, I think would have a harder time walking away from this package entirely. He`s pot committed and his colleagues have been working him so hard. Sinema, I have much less of a read on, if I`m completely honest with you. She is an enigma. She behaves differently than she did even when she was a House member.


HAAKE: It is much more challenging to read what her level of commitment is or isn`t to doing any of these things.

MELBER: And Garrett, I would say, be completely honest.

HAAKE: I`m trying.

MELBER: Michelle, your thoughts?

GOLDBERG: And look, it`s hard for me to imagine the White House coming out with this framework if they didn`t have some sense that they were going to be able to get Manchin and Sinema on board because, you know, as Garrett said, Sinema, she doesn`t talk to the press. She often treats her constituents with kind of withering contempt when they dare to approach her to ask her about her positions, but, by all accounts, she is in constant dialogue with the White House, so the White House does know where she stands.

I think part of it is that so much of this bill even though there`s this broad framework has been laid out, so many of the details still have to be hammered out. There are still things that have been taken out, that progressives are hoping to get back in. And so, you know, in a way, kind of -- you know, we`ve heard Joe Manchin say that he is comfortable with the $1.75 trillion number and so in that sense we have an agreement, right? Sort of everybody right now is sort of OK with that figure, but what programs go into that figure I think is still a matter of really intense negotiation.

MELBER: Yes. And Katty, take a listen to Senator Rubio today, I was discussing with our colleague Nicolle where the Democrats are, and she also said, you know, let`s not forget there`s a whole other party here, and a lot of the things that are in this package you ran on, you`re supposed to care about. I mean, are you really against every single aspect of this, including health care for seniors and other things that people used to pretend to be for?

Here`s what Senator Rubio was saying.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I don`t call it the reconciliation package. I mean, look, this is a build back socialist plan and it doesn`t matter $3.5 trillion or $1.75 trillion.


MELBER: Katty?

KAY: It drives me kind of crazy when you hear the word socialism bandied about in the context of America. It`s never going to happen. This is not socialism. There is nothing socialist about this bill expanding education from 12 years to 14 years, most people would say it`s a good thing.


Most Republicans would have said the expansion to 12 years was a very good thing, I imagine many of them would support expanding it to 14 years. They have kids of their own. Is this Sweden or Norway? No. This is not European style even social democracy, which is much more accurate term for it. It doesn`t get that far because it doesn`t even have paid family leave. And America is still going to be the outlier amongst developed countries.

Most countries in the world are not guaranteeing any paid family leave as it goes through like it is but for Republicans this is going to be the language that they will use to batter Democrats with. They`re going to keep saying this is too big, this is a deficit exploder, and then the onus is on Democrats to make sure that there is enough in the package that overrides those criticism and is popular with people.

They don`t want to kind of forfeit, you know, what`s popular in this bill and get hammered by being called, saying it`s socialist and too big because that could lose them sort of everything, political gain and economic gain.

MELBER: Yes. And that`s what we`re all watching, Katty, Michelle and Garrett, on the Hill. Thank you all for kicking us off.

Coming up, we look at Democrats paying for an that actually showcases Trump`s endorsement of the Republican in Virginia. Why? We`re going to explain, it has to do with their confidence about next week`s election.

And new outrage after a governor is blocking federal aid for schools all over masks and also tonight we are going to look at how a key elections job in a swing state is being cornered by big lie propagandists.

The final candidate came down, the final set of them came down to a big lie-pusher, a Giuliani witness, and a MyPillow fan who was at the insurrection. It`s a mix of nutty and scary and we have an accountability check on that later tonight.



MELBER: Virginia holds the first major elections since 2020 next week and the race for governor there looking very tight. Democrat Terry McAuliffe running for his old job against Republican Glenn Youngkin who is in a race that tests the Republican Party`s appeal as its base remains highly conservative, very pro-Trump. The former president matters in GOP primaries, we`ve seen that, but he may not help in this general election.

Take this flyer hitting many voters` mailboxes right now. The Republican Youngkin in that red hat, touting an endorsement from Trump and the thrust of that message is accurate. But this is not a mailer from Youngkin targeting die-hard Trump fans or those kind of households. Closer look here you see shows Democrats are sending this out to households that they think are repelled by Trump-style Republicans and there are many of them in Virginia.

Now some Republicans obviously do fine. But Trump`s not one of them. He lost the state badly in 2020 by 10 points. So politically it`s Democrats who are doing everything to bring Trump into this race right now in the home stretch which sheds light on a recent kind of bumbling outing last night where Trump had suggested that he would touch down in Virginia in the final days, a claim that was quickly walked back.

And while many Republican candidates do talk like Trump there`s new reporting that says Youngkin`s headquarters was caught off guard and scrambling to shoot down any idea that Trump was going to show up and be part of their closing argument. Today Youngkin didn`t even bother dodging the questions. He said flatly Trump`s not coming and they haven`t spoken.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you rally with Donald Trump if he came to Virginia this week?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you spoke within him?

YOUNGKIN: No, I haven`t. I haven`t spoken with him. This is about Virginia.


MELBER: That`s their closing argument? We always hear all politics is local. "The Washington Post" notes that Youngkin has also tried to position himself sometimes as a Trump wannabe going right and other times as a sensible businessman claiming the center.

So which is it? I mean, it could be a little bit of both. Plenty of politicians are known to shapeshift. Or it could be that Virginia is now assessing someone who campaigns from the center but would govern from the world of MAGA.

A longtime Republican operative who worked for Governor Jeb Bush captured that combo recently while talking with our colleague, Brian Williams.


TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK WRITER-AT-LARGE: They`re looking right now in Virginia at the Glenn Youngkin strategy, you know, of being Donald Trump in the sheets and Mitt Romney in the streets, and seeing that Glenn can kind of ignite the -- two tribes together.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Hang on. I`m still writing, Donald Trump in the sheets -- well, I can finish that later.


MELBER: And that moderate poet is our guest right now. Former Bush and RNC official Tim Miller, who writes for the "Bullhorn."

Thanks for being here.

MILLER: Thanks, Ari, not quite Kendrick but pretty good.

MELBER: Not quite, K. Dot. You said it, explain it on your view of what we just went through on the ground?

MILLER: Well, look, I was mocking it a couple of weeks ago, but as we look at these polls in closing, I think this is working for Glenn Youngkin right now and I think this needs to be a warning sign for Democrats. What Glenn Youngkin is not doing is he`s not doing enough to anger the Trump base. Right? I think the Democrats got this gift in Georgia where a lot of the Trump base was so upset over the election, you know, stealing stuff that they didn`t show up.

We`re not necessarily seeing that in the polls right now in Virginia. We`ll see. So he`s managing to not anger the Trump base by -- whereas in northern Virginia and the Richmond suburbs, he`s coming off as moderate, and now here`s the thing. Like, I worked for a lot of moderates. I worked for Jon Huntsman and Romney and Jeb.

I don`t know that Glenn Youngkin is moderate but he seems moderate compared to Trump. Right? Like, he`s he not going crazy anti-vax or he`s not going election thief. He`s not -- you know, he seems sensible and so he`s doing this Romney-Trump two-step where the people in, you know, kind of rural Virginia who are upset at the Democrats, upset about critical race theory and yada-yada-yada are going with him and the people in northern Virginia who may be used to be Republicans who crossed over and voted for Joe Biden, and are desperate for this sort of, you know, return to normalcy are grabbing onto him.

And so like the Democrats need to drive that wedge and I think that`s what you see, you know, the mailer and things like that. But I think it`s unclear whether or not it`s working.

MELBER: That mailer, if it`s targeted right, it can really look at people who are not sporadic, people who would be voting in this off-year election and might be conservative or ex-Republican. That would be the targeting. Do you think that moves people? Do you think that works?


MILLER: Look, I think it worked in 2020. You know, but look, does that work in 2021? People have a lot of other problems. Right? I think that there`s a lot of illegitimate complaints about the Virginia schools, right? The critical race theory and all that stuff. But I think there are legitimate complaints, you know, with teachers unions and folks being out of class. You know, I think people had real grievances about that, something that`s unfair but they`re real. Prices going up.

And so you get this mailer. You know, like I hate Donald Trump but I`m hoping he goes away. You know, a lot of these voters are not as obsessed with politics as we are. Like for me anybody who is for Donald Trump that`s disqualifying. There`s a lot of voters, you know, in particularly in northern Virginia, former Republicans who aren`t that adamant about that. Right? And so the question is, does this work? And if it doesn`t work for Terry McAuliffe that needs to be a big wake-up call to the Democrats.


MELBER: Yes, and that --

MILLER: And Trump scaremongering isn`t going to be enough.

MELBER: You put your finger on that. That`s a big question here and Terry McAuliffe is not an unknown, his name familiar to many, started with the Clintons, ran the party, has been the governor there, so he has that potential distinction as just not a, quote-unquote, "generic Democrat," and yet he`s still struggling to your point which is the other side of this race, headline here, Biden easily won Virginia, notes the AP. Why is McAuliffe struggling? Concern that his experience works against him in a political environment that continues to favor outsiders. Your view?

MILLER: Yes, look, and I think Virginia has a long history of this. Right? It`s the first election, it`s this weird off year, to be kind of a check, right, you know, any time a president one party goes in, you know, there`s always this unhappiness. You remember this with Obama in `08, and the -- you know, Obamacare and the stimulus, right? They swerved the other way. And then with Trump they swerved towards Northam.

So there`s this tradition, I think, of voters, you know, these sort of, you know, less partisan swing voters deciding that they want to give the other party a shot. I think that is what is hurting McAuliffe right now. The question is, can he run on he as a successful governorship? Can he run on a successful governorship and then wedging Youngkin with Trump in northern Virginia and by, you know, telling the voters out states that he`s not Trumpy enough for them? Can that work for him?

You know, I felt pretty good about that six weeks ago but then the numbers are really turning towards Youngkin and I think that this is going to be an important test case that will teach Democrats a lot for next (INAUDIBLE).

MELBER: And do you think that Democrats get anywhere raising the alarm about democracy in America or does that play as process even if that`s not true? I mean, there`s a real concern. But politically does it play as process when people have kitchen table problems right now?

MILLER: Yes, look, I want to say yes, Ari, but I`m putting on my analyst hat here. Tim Miller, us at "Bulwark," we`re scared as hell about democracy. Right? And we`re -- you know, we`re rave raising the flag about that, we have a bipartisan letter we ran in it yesterday. I think it`s the most urgent issue. But not every voter is engaged like that.


MILLER: And particularly in the midterm. I think it`s different in a presidential year. And so I think that it`s good to raise the alarm about it but Democrats need to get back to the kitchen table issues and need to turn Trump into the extremist. I think the Republicans have been much better about kind of branding the far left of the Democratic Party than the Democrats have been doing in reverse, and I think that branding the Republicans as extremist in their own right outside of the auspices of Trump, and focusing on these kitchen table issues are going to be their best bet.


MILLER: You know, and I think that`s why Virginia is a coin flip right now.

MELBER: That`s why we have you on as for your candor not just who you`re rooting for which you can also of course share. We`re running out of time. Will there be any more Tim Miller poetry before Virginia Election Day or have you said what you`re going to say?

MILLER: I think I`m tapped out on the rhymes. Sorry, Ari.


MILLER: I guess that rhymes.

MELBER: "Sorry, Ari" does rhyme when I used to do summer camp work, the 10- year-olds noticed that as well. So here we are.



MELBER: Tim, good to see you.

MILLER: Same, man.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

We have our shortest break on THE BEAT right now. It`s just 60 seconds. So when we come back, Republicans trying to take over elections. It`s bizarre but also serious. Stay with us.



MELBER: Efforts to kneecap American democracy continue tonight and this is not about the former president. It`s about new candidates trying to take power over the people`s election machinery. A Michigan Republican Party installing big lie pushers in election rolls and purging other Republicans who their operatives have deemed insufficiently willingly to attack election results. If this is how democracy dies, consider this a warning shot.

Now in 2020 there were local Republicans in that same place who were making outlandish and probably illegal attempts to go forward on tossing certain votes. They failed. One effort was trying to undercount votes in and around Detroit, an area with many Democratic voters and many black voters. Here is some of that clash.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will be open for a motion to decertify communities other than the city of Detroit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to certify this election the way we`re supposed to and not playing games and picking off the people who vote. That`s not going to happen.


MELBER: And it didn`t happen. That`s what it looks like in an otherwise obscure local voting process where you just certify the actual true numbers and you have that talk of well, a Republican saying they might be open to just tossing some of those votes. They probably wouldn`t have gotten away with that then and they didn`t go far.

Here`s what you need to know tonight. And I hope you`re listening. One, back then that was happening amidst a pretty clumsy and tardy effort responding to Trump`s disorganized post-election plot. Two, now Republicans are plotting years ahead in what is clearly a far more organized effort to benefit any potential Republican nominee so it`s really not about the blogger guy. It could really work as a plot for any candidate, and three, the first Republican official that I just showed you there who was open to tossing votes, she`s out because even that effort saying they might toss Detroit votes that wasn`t far enough for where this Republican Party is headed.

Because she ultimately did do the normal thing of certifying the results, which drew angry pushback, including people telling her never show your face again. So who could go farther than that? Let me repeat myself. You need to know this tonight. The people vying to replace her include someone who testified right alongside Rudy Giuliani with claims like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people think all Indians look alike. I think all Chinese look alike. So how would you tell? If some child shows up you can be anybody and you can vote.


MELBER: That`s door number one. Door number two, to run the election is a person who posted Facebook photos with the MyPillow guy Mike Lindell as well as at the January 6th event, and the third one, and this is the one who got the job, consider the first two I told you about are just runner, candidates running for it, has already said, again if you`re on fascism watch, and I don`t use that word lightly, this is a person that is going to have power, has already said he opposed certifying the election results that would have counted the votes in Detroit where there are a lot of Democrats and black Americans.

It`s not just a Michigan problem. I also want to draw your attention before I bring in our expert to one more thing. We talk about rising hate and militias, and who went into the Capitol, we have an Oath Keeper just out there running for office in New Jersey, that election, folks, is this Tuesday.

I`m joined right now by Elie Mystal, justice correspondent with "The Nation.`

Thanks for being here.


MELBER: Is this a perfecting an improvement of what was a futile and tardy and flawed coup to actually try to pull one off next time?

MYSTAL: Of course. People have to understand that after January 6th, once the push failed, once the coup was pushed back, the only people who still kept trying to do the coup were Donald Trump and his like immediate cronies. Right? The rest of the Republican Party moved on from trying to reinstall Donald Trump as president to steal the next election and the election after that. So the focus of the Republican Party after January 6th moved from November 3rd, 2020, to November 2022 and November 2024, and we are seeing the fruits of their labor.


They understood. You know, one of the analogies that I`ve used, it`s like the raptors testing the fencing in "Jurassic Park," right? And they`re testing the fences and they`re trying to see what`s weak and lo and behold they went for a fence and they found that it was weaker than they thought. It didn`t break, but they found it was weaker, they found that it wasn`t electrified. What`s the raptor going to do next?

It`s going to keep pushing that weak point until it breaks through and devours our democratic election. The raptors are Republicans, by the way, in this analogy in case that wasn`t clear.

MELBER: I always appreciate you keeping your analogies clear, Elie, and to your point, the problems that can destabilize an entire society don`t always start out as big emergencies. They might start out with a drop of dinosaur blood in a mosquito trapped in amber. I think you know the story that I`m quoting, it`s "Jurassic Park."

Let me play you and then they can get big and dangerous. And this did start in its own way so clumsy that it`s understandable that people dismissed it, particularly before January 6th, and that -- but that doesn`t mean that it doesn`t stay that clumsy.

Tim Snyder, the expert on tyranny, joined us recently, and he made an important point about what it means when someone who is running to have these powers says in public that they support the previous big lie. Take a look.


TIMOTHY SNYDER, YALE HISTORIAN: What we`re looking at is people who believe and are 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: Elie, that seems important because there`s certainly a hierarchy of propaganda right now. There are things people write on Facebook that might be dangerous to your health. I`m not minimizing that problem but that`s a random person and then your choice to how you deal with the propaganda. These are people who are propagandists and they are running to control election machinery. And Tim`s view, I`m curious for your analysis, is by making this public claim, they are both pledging and building public support for the next attack.

MYSTAL: Yes, Republicans are running right now on the platform that Democrats are illegitimate, that any Democratic rule is illegitimate. That votes for Democrats are by their nature illegitimate. So if you`re not voting for who the Republicans want to you vote for, they are assuming a priori that your vote shouldn`t counted, that it shouldn`t matter, that it should be discounted, that it doesn`t even have to be registered and that is how they are justifying putting their people, their conspiracy theorists, their cronies in positions of power.

But I want your viewers to understand, so understand that`s what the Republicans are doing and then take a step back, tell me what the Democrats are doing. Tell me what the Democrats are doing to strengthen these guardrails that have been so consistently attacked by Republicans every day since last November 3rd.

MELBER: Yes. I think --

MYSTAL: You know, I --

MELBER: That`s important because that goes to what is to be done. We`re actually working on reporting about that. The last question I have to ask you, Elie, is, how much of this is about a party just desperate to hold power which exists in many societies, to a certain degree, and how much of it is about a party that is increasingly white and aging in a society that is increasingly diverse? How much of this is about race?

MYSTAL: The Republicans don`t really have a strategy to win elections legitimately. They don`t have a strategy to expand their base. They don`t have a strategy to convince people to vote for them. There are a small kind of a rump of a kind of white pride, white supremacist party that has no real offer to anybody beyond that white supremacist rump and so their strategy -- this is really important for Republicans to suppress the vote and to discount votes of people they don`t like because they`ve got no other plan.

You know, say what you will about the Democratic Party but at least it`s an ethos. Like at least there is a kind of -- there is a plan of what we are offering people. You can have some health care and you could have a bridge.

MELBER: Yes, was that --

MYSTAL: We`ve got some stuff.

MELBER: Did you sneak in a Lebowski quote as well?

MYSTAL: Sneak? What`s sneaky about --

MELBER: Fair point. I take the linguistic correction. But you went from "Jurassic Park" to Lebowski with, I should say with some serious stuff along the way. I hope people are listening. We`ll have you back, Elie. Thank you, sir

MYSTAL: Thank you for having me.

MELBER: We have a lot more in the program. News involving former governor Cuomo, up next. Ron DeSantis trying to again people say abuse power to have a COVID politics clash.


We have that important story, that`s next.


MELBER: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is escalating his attacks on government approved CDC COVID protocols, trying to block money for schools all to dig in even deeper on his mask and COVID political clashes. The Florida Department of Education taking federal aid money from two local school boards as some kind of political retribution because they locally talk about liberty wanted to use masks to protect students.

This follows through on those many threats from Governor DeSantis.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-), FLORIDA: These school districts are saying no, you have to wear a mask even if your parent doesn`t want that. If these entities are going to violate state law and take away parents` rights, obviously there are, you know, it`s the way it works, there`s consequences for that, there will continue to be more.


MELBER: Is it the way it works? The Biden administration has taken up a different view. It states as a matter of law and policy that what DeSantis is doing violates federal law. Now there is a fight here and some of this has obviously moved its way through the courts. DeSantis wants to embolden effectively a tax on masking and other safety protocols, and I`m sorry, but weirdly wants to make schools the place where you have these clashes which really isn`t fair to students who don`t need to be in the middle of legal and public battles over how to stay safe.


Now there have been these incidents of harassment and intimidation, one was outlined by a school board member just earlier this month.


JENNIFER JENKINS, FLORIDA SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: I reject them saying that they`re coming for me, that I need to beg for mercy. They`re also going behind my home and brandishing their weapons to my neighbors, that they`re making false DCF claims against me to my daughter, that I have to take a DCF investigator to her playdate to go underneath her clothing and check for burn marks.


MELBER: DeSantis is digging into this fight. It raises two questions. One, is this the right and safe policy to people of Florida? We`ll continue to debate that. And two, is this even legal? In his fight with the president the administration is saying no. We will keep you posted on the story.

Now coming up as mentioned some major news today involving former New York Governor Cuomo. We`ll tell you all about it with a special guest next.



MELBER: Developing news tonight. Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo charged with a misdemeanor. One count of forcible touching, a criminal complaint stating today Cuomo put his hand, quote, "under the blouse, shirt of the victim," and on to her intimate body part. The complaint continues, quote, "The victim`s left breast, for purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires," end quote.

The allegation is one of several accounts of harassment and physical touching by multiple women against Cuomo, allegations that led to his resignation. In a new statement, the former governor denies this and all allegations. An independent report by the New York attorney general found several different allegations by women including those who worked directly with the governor to be credible. A conviction on this count could carry up to one year in jail. The news tonight, Cuomo now set to appear in court regarding this on November 17th.

We turn now to an expert in this field who has covered many of these stories with us, civil rights attorney, Nancy Erika Smith. Among many cases, she also represented former FOX News anchor Gretchen Carlson in a workplace harassment suit against Roger Ailes.

Thanks for being here.


MELBER: Walk us through what this complaint says and what it means legally thinking.

SMITH: This complaint basically patterns the allegations made by Brittany Commisso, although we haven`t -- she hasn`t acknowledged that this is her complaint and she said she was going to file a complaint, but we`re in the city of Albany. The sheriff investigated this complaint and filed it in the city court in Albany. It`s not going to a grand jury because the evidence is already being put in front of a judge.

So there will be a probable cause hearing. And Governor Cuomo, former Governor Cuomo will appear on November 17th, and he can demand a hearing or the judge can say I already have enough evidence, or he can say, you know, take me to trial. You know, this seems to have come out before everybody was settled in and before the victim was properly notified. So we`re a little unsure about what`s going happen next. But some of the reporting is it`s going to go to a grand jury. It`s not. It`s a misdemeanor, and in city court in Albany.

MELBER: A former aide to Cuomo, which you just alluded to, made this public allegation. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He gets up and he goes to give me a hug, and I could tell immediately when he hugged me, it was in a probably the most sexually aggressive manner. And that`s when he put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra. It happened so quick. He didn`t say anything when I stopped it. He just pulled away and walked away.


MELBER: That is one of the allegations and testimony that was investigated by the New York attorney general and found to be credible. As you said, and we want to be as precise as possible, neither the new criminal complaint which we have, nor anything that is available publicly from that individual confirms these yet. So what we have is public information. That statement and then a complaint that does not name anymore.

SMITH: Right.

MELBER: When people see that this is both a misdemeanor, so it`s one count, it could carry up to a year, how would this normally be processed? And how typical or unusual is it to have someone charged with this in New York?

SMITH: It`s not an unusual charge. Well, law enforcement has not taken women`s complaints of forcible touching or rape or sexual assault seriously in this country as we saw recently in the hearing by the gymnasts, for centuries. But I think that journalism and the Me Too Movement and the attention that has brought on this has maybe changed things. It`s not usual for men to be charged with this.

This is like a subway crime, a subway groping crime. And powerful men have been doing this forever and getting away with it. And that`s why I think it`s so hard for Cuomo. He`s never accepted responsibility. He says 11 women are lying. He says a Democratic AG is biased against him. Two independent investigators are biased against him.

MELBER: And he also says, for your reaction, my final question, his new statement tonight from a lawyer says he`s never assaulted anyone and, quote, "Sheriff Apple`s motives are patently improper. This is politics." Your response?

SMITH: He and Trump are a lot alike like this. They both have this hubris, this arrogance, this refusal to accept any responsibility. And it`s particularly hard because of sexism, which is so evident in the report about Cuomo`s governorship.


It`s so hard because of sexism for them to believe that a woman, a woman subordinate no less, can have this effect on their lives, can have any effect on their lives. It`s really, really hard for him to accept, and he will take no responsibility. I predict he`ll never take responsibility. You can even see that day, that woman who was just on the air was sort of looking for, she pulled away and he could have said, oh, my god, I`m sorry.

But that would never happen because he is entitled. It`s all about his power. It`s all about his ability to do that and Trump bragged about it, too. There is a certain kind of man that power makes them mixed with sexism, abuse women all the time. They feel above it.

MELBER: Nancy Erika Smith, both a legal expert on this and someone who has been a trial advocate for many people, I appreciate your perspective and walking us through it tonight.

SMITH: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you, Nancy.

We will be right back.



MELBER: Thanks for watching THE BEAT. "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid is up next.

Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How you doing, Ari? Have a great evening.

MELBER: You too.

REID: Cheers.