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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 11/19/21

Guests: Brittney Cooper, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, John Stanton, Gina Schock, Howard Dean, Emily Bazelon


As Steve Bannon tries to fight off a prosecution that could land him in jail, are Republicans plotting an election takeover? Musician Gina Schock speaks out. The jury finds Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts. House Democrats pass the Build Back Better Act.



Hi, Ari. Happy Friday.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Friday. Always good to see you, Nicolle. Thank you.

We`re tracking breaking news in the murder trial for Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two protesters at a BLM rally.

The breaking news, after over 24 hours of cumulative deliberations, the jury finding Rittenhouse not guilty. It`s a controversial ruling in a closely watched case that was testing the limits of lethal and deadly vigilantism.

Now, I can tell you, as a legal matter, this case was also about more than murder. The prosecutors made this specific case that Rittenhouse was a murderer. They also gave the jury evidence of other lesser crimes, meaning the jury had the option to find a kind of a middle ground. They had the option to rule, for example, that there may have not been a first-degree murder, but there were crimes of, say, endangering the public by bringing that illegally obtained gun to the rally and shooting three people, and killing two of them.

So, here`s what this means legally as you digest this news tonight. The jury actually weighed five total charges. That includes first-degree murder, what they call homicide in that state, and options on other violence and charges about reckless endangerment of safety.

So, the jury could have found guilty for some and not for others. But, as you see in this news, this jury cleared the defendant of everything, unanimously finding not guilty on all five charges.

So, keep that legal context in mind as you hear the necessarily lengthy jury verdict from today. It took this long because there were so many crimes charged and found not guilty.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state of Wisconsin vs. Kyle Rittenhouse, as to the first count of the information, Joseph Rosenbaum, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.

As to the second count of the information, Richard McGinniss, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.

As to the third count of the information, unknown male, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty. As to the fourth count of the information, Anthony Huber, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.

As to the fifth count of the information, Gaige Grosskreutz, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.

JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Members of the jury, are these your unanimous verdicts. Is there anyone who does not agree with the verdicts as read?

Would you wish the jury polled?



MELBER: The 18-year-old Rittenhouse there seen collapsing in apparent emotion amidst the verdict.

The man who killed two BLM protesters in Wisconsin and injured a third, the man who brought an illegally obtained rifle to the protest, the news and the legal outcome today is, he walks.

Now, no one knows that this hour exactly what the jury discussed in those private deliberations. We do know the evidence they saw. We know they saw emotional testimony by Rittenhouse taking the stand, which is a legal rarity. And, apparently, it didn`t hurt him, may have helped him, because he got off.

And we know they saw the video evidence, the killing on tape. They were presented with the evidence that Rittenhouse essentially lied about pretending to be an EMT at that rally that night. And they saw his own statements, claiming he needed the gun for protection and then saying under oath he didn`t think he would have to protect himself.


THOMAS BINGER, KENOSHA COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: When you decided to bring your AR-15 loaded with 30 rounds down to the 63rd Street Source -- Car Source location, what did you think you needed protection against?

KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: I didn`t really think I was going to have to protect myself.

BINGER: You told us just now you brought it along for protection.

RITTENHOUSE: I did. But I didn`t think I was going to need to protect myself.

BINGER: You brought along for protection, but you didn`t think you needed protection?


MELBER: That was an inconsistency there, but it clearly did not move the jury towards any guilty verdicts.

The protests where Rittenhouse killed two were a response to a different controversial shooting, when Wisconsin police shot Jake Blake in the back. Today, his uncle reacted to this verdict and noted that, in his view, the judge seemed to side often with the prosecution.



JUSTIN BLAKE, UNCLE OF JACOB BLAKE: When you have the guy who`s presiding over the whole thing puts his hands on the scale and allows this young man literally to walk out of -- he gave him a pass. He didn`t allow evidence in.

If somebody is in before that shows the Proud Boys sign, then goes into a bar at 17 and throws it up again, you know his ideology.

It was no self-defense. Self-defense is when you`re protecting your home, you`re protecting your family. He, in a very bastardly and dastardly way, used the law that worked for him. There was absolutely no self-defense.


MELBER: His view, no self-defense there.

And I should clarify, his concern was that the judge was against the prosecution. And we have shown in our reporting some of the flare-ups in the trial.

Blake`s family basically arguing there that this defendant had a view of self-defense that`s now been endorsed by the jury that can be treated as a license to murder.

Now, the verdict tonight across America is very controversial. It is also the law. And under the rule of law, juries are respected not based on whether you agree with the individual outcome, but based on a process being fair and valid.

As a journalist and a lawyer, I`m not here to undermine the legitimacy of the civic and, by the way, nonviolent jury process that we use to deal with these kinds of disputes. This outcome, though, is controversial for a reason.

Let`s be clear and honest about it here. The reason is the evidence. The reason is the facts. And the reason is the wider context of racism in America.

This trial is another chapter in a much longer book. And I can`t go back to the beginning right now with you in the middle of a newscast, but I will go back a few more chapters to the summer of 2020, when you had police killing George Floyd on tape, which the jury process ultimately ruled was a murder.

But before that jury process, it led to waves of largely nonviolent protests, trying to call out and stop police brutality and violence. And those were met, let`s remember, in many different parts of the country. The calls to stop police brutality were met with more police brutality on tape against people who did not look violent. It didn`t look like justified use of force.

We covered those stories at the time. If you want to keep track, if you care about it that way, it was against young and old, against black and white. It was against anyone who stood up for black lives. This is footage in Philadelphia of an officer striking a protester.

In New York City, officers in a police car were documented plowing towards groups of protesters. In Buffalo -- I mentioned age because officers sometimes make the argument that a certain group of people, young people, might pose a larger threat. Well, two officers were caught pushing a 75- year-old man to the ground.

Other brutality incidents occurred as well that were separate from just protests, the Jacob Blake shooting, as reported, that sparked the protests against this kind of violence.

That is the recent historical context, because, when there are protests, which is people exercising their constitutional rights, they`re also met with violence, like these two that were gunned down in Kenosha, killed.

So today`s acquittal would appear to many to cosign that use of force or violence. Two people dead from Rittenhouse`s rifle, they`re not coming back. Their victims` families are speaking out today. They`re upset with the verdict.

And it`s a new test tonight going forward with this ruling that allows this kind of vigilantism and these two killings. The courts are one place that these dilemmas are tested by juries of our peers, we`re told, and there`s a legal process to try to ensure that. And we respect juries decisions and the rule of law.

They`re not the only place to test this. We have been living through a reassessment of recent history, with some people saying it`s always been this way and it`s time to change, other people saying, it`s OK, there`s nothing wrong, and a kind of a middle group that we saw through data and other indications during at least the BLM summer protests saying, oh, maybe it`s worse than they thought, or look at the facts, or it`s time for listening and learning.

But listening and learning only takes us so far. People are living through these consequences at a time where extremism and political violence and racism is very much more out in the open, always been here, but way more out in the open.

The jury verdict is respected under the law. The rest of us, though, have a lot of work to do.


To dig into this tonight, we joined by two experts who know the field, Rutgers records Professor Brittney Cooper, and Brittany Packnett Cunningham, an activist and former member of President Obama`s Police Task Force.

To Ms. Packnett Cunningham first.

Your thoughts on what it means for a jury to cosign this and the point I raise about what the rest of us have left to do.

BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, goodness. I mean, where to begin, to be honest.

The cosigning of the idea that this was self-defense is really by design, right? We watched the judge really set this up from the very beginning. And, of course, that argument of self-defense was both to protect Kyle Rittenhouse, but it was also to give his supporters and people who think like him a lot of cover.

I have been seeing today a lot of people using that cover to say, well, self-defense is not white supremacy. You`re right. Self-defense, on its face, is not white supremacy. But traveling across state lines with an AR- 15 to intimidate people is absolutely white supremacy.

We know what this is. He traveled to a place where black people and our allies were protesting for the dignity of black life. And because he took issue with that, he decided to grab an assault rifle, and now two people are dead and one is permanently disabled.

Let`s be clear. That`s not property damage. That`s death and dismemberment. Black people and anybody who knows American history in this country know what white domestic terrorism looks like. Its function is to intimidate. When Ku Klux Klanners burned crosses, it wasn`t to keep warm. It was to intimidate everyone who saw the flame from miles away.

When white armed men went and marched in Charlottesville, it was not a family reunion. It was to strike fear in the hearts of anybody who would not bend to their dominance. So, make no mistake about what Kyle Rittenhouse was doing there. He was the aggressor.

Make no mistake about what the officers who let him walk by with that AR-15 visible wanted to communicate to the rest of us. And make no mistake about what this cosigning of self-defense means. Make no mistake about what this judge was saying when he thumbed his nose at any sense of fairness or lack of bias in that courtroom.

This is about making sure that white supremacy maintains its cover to terrorize and intimidate the rest of us.

MELBER: Professor?

BRITTNEY COOPER, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: The depths of my rage today are almost uncontainable. I don`t know how much brazen hypocrisy we are supposed to take in the name of the law.

We live in a country that said that slavery was legal, that said that lynching was legal, that said that segregation was legal. And, today, we`re being asked to say that it is legal and to respect the rule of law because a white boy deputized himself and went out and terrorized people who were actually using their constitutional right to protest.

But there`s another thing to say about this. This is also white America`s reckoning with, which version of whiteness is it going to choose? Is it going to choose to be in the legacy of the Confederacy that is about oppressing people, or is it going to choose the whiteness that is in the legacy of the Union, which is about saying that there are principles greater than the idea that we get to subjugate people?

And so when folks say, this can`t be about racism because the victims are white, no. There have always been white victims of white supremacy, white ally Viola Liuzzo, right, Andrew Goodman. Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. Michael Chaney was a black man, but the other two men were white. They were killed in the 1960s as allies against this white supremacist assault on black life.

And so this is a way to discipline white allies and to say that, as the right and as the folks that they`re allowing to deputize themselves in the streets brazenly flout anything that appears to look like justice run amok, that we will kill anybody who gets in our way. And, in that way, race doesn`t matter.

If you are on the side of black life, on the side of people of color, on the side of a narrative of American progress and more inclusive democracy, then your life is expendable.

And we should be very concerned as a country because our legal system right now is being asked in all of these cases, in the Ahmaud Arbery trial, in this trial, right, in the Ahmaud Arbery -- the trial of his killers, in this case, right, in the case of Julius Jones, we are in a national reckoning. And we need to pay attention to what we`re being asked to decide.

And, today, what we were told was that white self-defense trumps everybody else`s sense of safety and protection in the streets, even when white folks are the folks carrying the gun and they are under no threat at all, as Kyle Rittenhouse admitted himself. He was not threatened. He didn`t think there was a threat. He came there to intimidate. And he was allowed to do so.

And let me say this last thing, Ari. And then all of us are treated to his sense of relief as the verdict is being read. And the rest of us get no relief, right? The rest of us tonight, our souls feel heavy. We`re on heightened alert about our own protection and safety.


But the law says that white relief is the thing that we should take away from this. So he gets to go home and sleep in his bed tonight. And the rest of us get to think about whether it`s safe for us to go out and exercise our right to peacefully protest.

PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: And the two people who lost their lives...


PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: ... do not get to go rest.

COOPER: That`s right.

MELBER: Yes, go ahead, Ms. Packnett Cunningham. Go ahead.

PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: I mean, I just think that what Dr. Cooper is saying is so critically important, because all of us are being subjugated to the defense of white supremacy and Kyle Rittenhouse`s feelings.

We have talked about his tears ad nauseum. We will talk about the tears that he displayed today even more. Why? Because this country is much more concerned with the feelings of a white man who went out with an AR-15 than they are the rest of us who were meant to be intimidated, not only by that direct action, but by the people who continuously defend him, who fund him and apparently Matt Gaetz, who may even want to hire him.

So, I think that it`s -- I think that the point that Dr. Cooper is making cannot be understated. And I will say, frankly, that I`m deeply disappointed in the commentary of the president today.

For him to stand up in this moment, fail to read the room, and then say that the jury system works, my question is, Mr. President, for whom? There are mountains upon mountains of research that have shown us just how disproportionately black, indigenous and other people of color are convicted in these courtrooms, how much more we are sent to death row -- hello, Julius Jones -- how much more we are convicted of the same crime, when white people are able to walk free.

So this desire to prove American exceptionalism, when the evidence is to the country, is staring us right in the face. It is going to be the literal and moral death of us. It is going to also be a great challenge to the Democratic Party, because I will tell you what my text messages look like today.

For all of those friends who had to be convinced to vote because they didn`t necessarily believe in this system, and I understand why, they`re saying, why did I show up? Why should I do this again?

This desire to appease white parts of the population that haven`t voted for the Democratic Party for decades, at the expense of supporting and speaking to the pain of the black folks who put you in office, it`s, frankly, insulting, and it`s going to do serious damage to the Democratic Party`s political desires.

And I don`t mean to get political, but I do think that it`s important that the leader -- that we recognize that the leader of that party said something today that was deeply insulting and added insult to the injury that Dr. Cooper so clearly spoke to.

MELBER: Yes, I appreciate both of your points.

And, for viewers, I always underscore context. Ms. Packnett Cunningham is speaking as someone who`s also worked on the inside, because you worked in the Obama/Biden administration.

But you`re criticizing President Biden substantively, based on the values that you have and what he said.

I`m going to just read off two things, in the context. I mentioned the families. And Professor Cooper talked about the history there, from Goldman being killed in the Freedom Summer, along with black and white activists, and this pattern here.

And the Huber family reacting today, saying -- quote -- And we can put this up -- "We`re heartbroken and angry that Rittenhouse was acquitted in the criminal trial for the murder of our son, Anthony Huber. There was no justice today for Anthony or for Mr. Rittenhouse`s other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz."

And you see the face there of a young man who was exercising constitutional rights, as mentioned, who was showing up at a BLM rally. That`s what he was doing.

With regard to Biden, so folks know, he said -- quote -- "I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works. We have to abide by it," while saying many are angry, and he is among them.

This is an important conversation. We have two guests here that we have had on before.

I appreciated you leading off our coverage tonight, Brittney and Brittany, in this case, thanks to both of you.

COOPER: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

There`s a lot of other developing news. We`re fitting in our first break of the hour, but Steve Bannon back in trouble, losing to the judge, awaiting potentially a jail sentence if he loses this case. We have an update with a special guest.

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi touting a big win that has people calling her the GOAT.

Stay with us.



MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.

We were tracking breaking legal news at the top of the hour. But there`s also huge breaking news out of Washington, where House Democrats are touting their new passage of a key centerpiece of the Biden agenda. This is that part two on the spending that we have been hearing so much about, the social spending bill, Pelosi touting a transformative effect on the lives of Americans.

And here`s how the vote happened.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): On this vote, the yeas are 220, the nays are 213. The Build Back Better bill is passed.



MELBER: It`s not every day that you see the House floor popping like that, people literally jumping up and down like it could have been, you know, a concert.

Speaker Pelosi argued that what they have done is truly historic.


PELOSI: This bill is monumental. It`s historic. It`s transformative. It`s bigger than anything we have ever done.


MELBER: Democrats are ecstatic. They say the substance matters. They say it`ll help America. And they think it`s a big win for Joe Biden.

Ilhan Omar literally dancing with a life-size mockup of the bill. It looks like she met a bill on Capitol Hill, if you will.

AOC, meanwhile, outlining the details.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Universal pre-K and child care and reducing U.S. climate emissions, and we`re reducing insulin down to 35 bucks, and so on, so forth. We did it.


MELBER: It`s a jubilant mood.

And it`s over $2 trillion, as mentioned there, just some of the highlights you see on the screen, from the climate, to housing, to health care. And a lot of B`s add up to, well, trillions.


Republicans pushed back the vote. They had something that isn`t as common in the House, because, generally, the thing about the House is, the speaker really calls the shots and the calendar.

But the Republican leader, whoever`s in the minority, can talk on the floor, not a full filibuster, but they can run out time. Kevin McCarthy tried to basically go as long as he could, breaking a kind of a record with eight hours that delayed what was inevitable.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Just a few weeks ago, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger said, nobody elected Joe Biden to be FDR.



MELBER: That`s just a little bit of the back-and-forth.

So what happens now? And if you feel like deja vu, well, that`s partly true and partly not. The deja vu may be, gosh, a lot of times, we hear about spending in the House and then the Senate, but then the House again and in the Senate.

The part that is new and not deja vu is, a lot of that was about whether there would be two bills at once, or the infrastructure bill, which ultimately passed. What`s new now is, this is the social safety net bill at a compromise number that Biden wants that will really go to the Senate.

So, if the Democrats can hold together there, it would be the second big win here at the end of the year for the Biden agenda.

What happens next?

The man who used to run the party himself, Howard Dean, is here when we`re back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: Democrats have the wind at their backs with this big spending bill hitting the Senate.

And Howard Dean is here, the former presidential candidate, governor, doctor, and chair of the DNC.

Thanks for coming back, sir.


MELBER: Absolutely.

There`s a lot of layers to this. One thing people say about Howard Dean is, they say he always agrees with David Brooks...


DEAN: Yeah, right.

MELBER: ... that day late, dollar short centrism.


MELBER: Well, I introduced it that way on purpose, because, in the old days, they used to say even "The New Republic." It`s Friday.

I`m going to say, even David Brooks may be on the same page with Pelosi, AOC, Howard Dean, and Biden, because he notes the politics. There`s a lot going on in the economy and elsewhere that`s got people worried, for good reason. And yet he says, look, whether or not Biden`s approval is sagging, the administration will ultimately be judged by whether it reduces inequality, spreads opportunity and creates the material basis for greater national unity.

And under the headline "Joe Biden Is Succeeding," Mr. Brooks says it is doing that.

Do you agree, Howard?

DEAN: I do think so.

I was thinking about this on -- in prepping for the show. Actually, the Trump voters are going to actually benefit enormously from this bill. They are, for the most part, not entirely, working-class people who struggle with the same issues everybody does, which is how do you hold down a job and have decent child care at the same time? Their medical costs are very, very high, particularly drug prices.

And this does something about all those bills. The other thing about this bill which I think is terrific is, it`s mostly paid for. It does not and particularly increase the deficit all that much. And it does, in fact, start to collect taxes from all the people who got the Republican tax breaks, which are people making more than $400,000 a year.

And I think that`s about time.


And as someone who`s just been in and out of politics, so you know how it really works, how much of this -- headwinds that Biden`s facing are about his governing, which could be, oh, some people have a bit of a buyer`s remorse about going in on the Biden/Harris agenda, because they obviously won the election, and how much of it is about the fact that, as mentioned, between COVID lasting, the supply chain, the inflation, and a lot of leftover anxiety from the tough two years, things may be getting better, but not fast enough?


DEAN: I think the latter is right.

And don`t forget the vociferous right-wing propaganda campaign. It`s just extraordinary. I mean, Youngkin may govern from the center, and I think he probably will, but his campaign was based on fear of race, with Critical Race Theory, which nobody can explain and isn`t taught in any high school in the country, or certainly not an elementary school.

But the Republicans just raised the race issue. So they raise all these issues to scare the hell out of people. And they have an audience and people who feel like they`re left behind.

So the last sentence in sort of your intro was that this will give Biden the material ability to start to bring the country together again. That is, this makes it easy for working people -- easier for working people to deal with the things that matter the most.

And this, combined with the agreement with the Chinese president to start taking money out of both...


DEAN: I mean, oil out of both strategic petroleum reserves should make a big difference in the middle class and the working class.


And then the last headline, Governor, here is clearing the way for these options of taking a COVID booster shot, FDA clearing that for all adults. And since it`s Friday, I just want to get your view as a doctor and a policy-maker of where, obviously, the vaccine decisions meet the great rapper Drake.

He said, I want a long life, a legendary one. I want this drink, and another one.


MELBER: And who among us hasn`t wanted the drink you`re having and the next one?

Should we look at booster shots that way? Should most adults get that booster?

DEAN: Yes, I think this is going to end up being more like the flu, and not in terms of his deadliness, because it`s obviously much more deadly than the flu.

But given the how fast the antibodies disappear after the first two shots, I wouldn`t be terribly surprised to have a new variant of COVID every winter, and have to take booster shots from it, as we do flu shots if you`re over 65. And even if you`re under 65, people are now representing -- recommending flu shots for most adults.

And I think you`re going to see kids routinely get COVID shots. Again, the DeSantises and the guy from Texas are trying to get elected president on fearmongering. But the truth is, we all take our measles shots and so forth. And we`re going to do that pretty routinely in the future.

This is -- we`re learning more about this virus every day. We do need to protect people against it.


DEAN: Unfortunately, the greatest advocates for vaccines are those who have gotten really serious ill -- seriously ill and died.

MELBER: Right.

DEAN: And their last message is in -- for God`s sakes, please take the vaccine.

MELBER: Yes, all facts and fairly put.

Doctor and Governor Dean, thanks a lot. Have a great weekend.

DEAN: Thanks, Ari. Happy Thanksgiving.

MELBER: Absolutely. Happy Thanksgiving.

Steve Bannon has been in trouble, losing some of the fights in his court battle. Now he`s plotting an election takeover with other Republicans.

A special fact-check and guest coming up.



MELBER: Steve Bannon is fighting off a prosecution that could land him in jail, but he`s also trying to fanned the flames of potentially more insurrections or coups.

Bannon under a lot of legal stress because he openly defied these subpoenas to the investigation of the insurrection, Congress interested in his role in fomenting the riot and now, of course, in covering it up.

Now, hours after surrendering to the feds on Monday, Bannon went back on his Internet show, which we have been keeping an eye on for you, and boasted that he was actually, he says, recording from the same hotel suite where so many Trump supporters were scheming together before January 6.



Since you`re doing scoops, we will give this to (INAUDIBLE) first.

I`m actually in the suite. So they can suck on that also.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The espresso machines are on point.


MELBER: Yes, he is facing jail time if he loses, but talking about how everyone can -- quote -- "suck" on the fact that he`s broadcasting from the hotel suite, and then, of course, the insider dish about the espresso machines.

Our point here is not only that this is petty and stupid, which, fact- check, it is, but that there seems to be in the legal reaction here a problem for Bannon between the public bravado and the actual case. He also spoke to Marjorie Taylor Greene, and they discussed violence.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Our freedoms are so precious, Steve, that we do not want to lose them. And the only way you get freedom back after you have lost it was -- is with the price of blood.

And no one wants a civil war in America.


MELBER: So, you have these figures in Trump world riling up supporters, while also trying to dismantle election systems.

"The Times" reporting on how some local Republicans are planning an all-out assault on Wisconsin`s systems, and eying potential jail time, they say, that they could subject state election commission members to, pressing to get full control over voting in the state.

I`m joined now by Emily Bazelon, who writes for "The New York Times" and has covered many of these issues.

How you doing?

EMILY BAZELON, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Pretty good. How are you?

MELBER: I`m fine.

I`m not going to ask you about the quality of the espresso machines at the Willard or any such silliness. But I will ask you about the reporting here in your publication and the wider ways that this is really being operationalized. Your view?

BAZELON: I mean, this is quite a story by my colleague Reid Epstein.

It has a few different dimensions in it. Part of it is about a Republican push to dismantle the Wisconsin Election Commission, which is a six-member board. It has three Democrats and three Republicans. I should say that it was created several years ago because Republicans didn`t like the previous statewide election commission because it had investigative powers.

And so this was kind of watered-down bipartisan version. Now Republicans in the state government in Wisconsin don`t like it either, and, in fact, have threatened criminal charges against five of the six members for just basically trying to make it easier to vote in nursing homes before the election.

And then we also have Senator Ron Johnson talking about unilateral control of elections in Wisconsin through the state legislature, despite a veto by the governor, even though that is clearly not a allowed, based on previous court decisions.


So this is very aggressive.


And it`s really where you can take Trump off Twitter, and you can do these other things. But people need to understand, whether that`s nonpartisan, civic-minded Americans, and, obviously, people who have any stake in the system, the courts that can be backstop, and Democratic officials who may push back.

This isn`t going away. This isn`t ending just whether or not Trump`s influence or otherwise political role ends. This has become, best we can tell, what the Republican Party`s leadership is going to make as its operating procedure.

And I want to play just some of, again, the way Bannon and others openly mix their plans to do this with their plans to regain power.


BANNON: They`re in the absolute freefall. You`re going to run the House with 40, 50, 60 seats. I say 100 seats if we get focused. The death rattle of this Marxist regime, this illegitimate regime.

MCCARTHY: We only need five more seats to be in the majority. Then we have the subpoena power to bring these individuals in. We have the ability to stop what President Biden is doing. We have the ability to fire Nancy Pelosi.


MELBER: And so, Emily, I think the toughest question becomes, how do people fight against this without being drawn into the perception or putative endless partisan clash?

Because when one group is trying to be partisan in abusing power, stopping that isn`t just what`s good for the goose is good for the gander. And yet, to some of the country, there`s a risk of underestimating how authoritarian this is and just going, well, there they go again, always fighting about voting rights and democracy at stake.


I mean, what you`re talking about is the difference between a partisan clash over a policy choice, like should we have Medicare for all or whatever, and these structural questions about democracy.

And Wisconsin has had a history in the last decade of really extreme gerrymandering. So, even when Democrats win more than 50 percent of the votes, they do not get that kind of representation in the state legislature. And then that translates into control of the congressional redistricting map.

And so that`s why you have Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, talking about, well, we only need five more seats in the House and the idea that Wisconsin could be a source of those increased seats. And so the principle that I think I come back to in this area is minority rule, right?

I mean, key to democracy is the idea that if you win more votes, then you win the election, and you have more representation. And that is not what we get when we start to have people messing around with the election systems. We start to have minority rule, and you can see that unfolding in Wisconsin.


And as you -- I think you put it clearly, and if you mix minority rule with these underlying racial issues that we have been covering in more than one dimension tonight, you have a real problem on your hands.

Emily Bazelon, thank you. And I hope you have a good weekend thinking about something other than this.

BAZELON: You too.

MELBER: Thank you very much. I`m not quite done, though. I will begin that at 7:00.

Stick around, though, because the Pelosi factor is big. From AOC all the way to the Biden White House, they are really giving her credit and wiping away those old criticisms that maybe she should have been replaced. People used to talk about that.

And then later, we have a very special guest for a very special "Fallback."

Stay with us.




CONGRESS MEMBERS: Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!


MELBER: Democrats absolutely hailing Speaker Pelosi after passing this Biden spending bill.

The chief of staff tweets, she is the greatest of all time, or, as they say, the GOAT in sports music and many other fields. It`s a common term. And Pelosi has also had her whole posture summarized in a GIF which was getting shared a lot today, just putting on the glasses and making things happen.

Democrats are praising her ability to basically move even challenging bills across the finish line, standing up to Donald Trump as well over those difficult four years for the party. And supporters say her strength is how she continues to rally a very diverse caucus, indeed, an increasingly diverse one when you look at the Democratic side of the aisle.

And it goes back a ways. She muscled through Obamacare. Here she was three months before that ultimate victory telling skeptical reporters how she would ultimately get it done.


PELOSI: We go through the gate. If the gate is closed, we will go over the fence. The fence is too high, we will pole vault in. If that doesn`t work, we will parachute in. But we`re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.


MELBER: It`s a spirit. It`s an attitude. And it`s more impressive when it works.

I mentioned this earlier in the show. There was a time when people were saying, should she still be speaker? Should someone else get a turn? And she had too much experience. No one`s talking like that today.

Indeed, longtime conservative Jennifer Rubin says the new vote confirms only one political rule. Never bet against the speaker.

Up ahead, we have a special conversation digging into vaccines, some of these culture war issues, and one of our favorite ways to end the week in style.

Stay tuned.



MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT, so you know it is time to fall back.

And we have "The Beat" on THE BEAT tonight with two amazing guests, singer musician Gina Schock, drummer for the all-woman band The Go-Go`s, Grammy nominated, over seven million world -- I should say, records worldwide. The debut album, "Beauty and the Beat," hey, hey, topped the Billboard charts, broke barriers, with classics you know, like "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got The Beat."

She also has a new book, "Made In Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go`s. The Go-Go`s also entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That star-studded ceremony airs on HBO tomorrow. And award-winning journalist John Stanton, editor of The Gambit, formerly of BuzzFeed, he`s the co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, which deals with journalism in these modern times.

Welcome to both you. How you guys doing?


GINA SCHOCK, MUSICIAN: Really great to see you.

And I am happy to be here to try to lighten up this day. It`s been a rough one. It`s been a rough one, you guys.

MELBER: It`s -- a lot of news days are like that, this one for sure.

But life has more than one mood, we believe. And, obviously, we got the beat from you. So there`s that.

John, how are you doing?

STANTON: Not too bad. Not too bad. We got some cool weather finally come in. So it feels a bit like fall. Other than the day being a terrible day, yes, looking forward to Christmas jams starting next week, so, yes.

MELBER: There you go. All right.

Well, John`s been here before.

We will let you go first. What`s on your "Fallback" list, sir?

STANTON: Well, I think the first thing I got is, there`s actually a story out of Tampa, speaking of Christmas.

The Moffa family has been fined by their homeowners association for putting up their Christmas lights too early. And I feel like, first of all, Florida is kind of a rotten place to begin with, but, like, Christmas is something -- Christmas lights are great. They`re fun. They`re light. Kids like them.

I think, of all the things you could possibly fine somebody over, Christmas lights is really the craziest thing I could imagine. So, boo to those people.


MELBER: Yes, it`s wild.

I mean, I`m more of a Festivus person than Christmas, also maybe a dash of Hanukkah. But I really think, if you want to celebrate something, go ahead and celebrate it. And maybe the community could let you do that.

What about you, Gina? What`s on your list?

SCHOCK: I can`t believe this story just now about the Christmas lights. That blows my mind. Like, there`s a lot more things we need to be focusing than that kind of crap.

Anyway, my "Fallback" thing is sort of -- it`s not the biggest thing in the world, but it`s about getting more women involved, and getting -- in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing, which we had sort of given up on, but it actually happened to us. And it took many years for them to recognize us in this way.

And we need to open the doors. We already have our list of women that need to be inducted, and we`re going to work hard on that. And, I mean, come on, guys. It`s about time.

You know I`m the only second female drummer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Moe Tucker was first. And then Kathy, the bass player in the band, she`s only the second. Now, there is something really wrong with that picture. I know, this is not like big ass news for the world, but, in my life, this is kind of important, and for women all around and do what I do.

Come on, guys.

MELBER: Hey, I appreciate that one, especially coming from your leadership and authority.

And I happen to like a lot of the music stuff. I like going to the events when they do invite me. But I will just say, as Jay-Z said, this might offend my political connects. And I will say maybe I`m offending some of them. But I`m with you on your side telling the judges at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and some of these other award shows to fall back, because it`s wild to look at these creative fields that have had such diverse artistry, and then see the judgments.

Yes, go ahead.

SCHOCK: Well, Jay-Z was in the front row there at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And that`s on tomorrow night.

I`m kind of blown away by the whole thing, I have to say. At first, I didn`t really care about it because they had neglected us. And I thought we should have been in a long time ago. Whatever. It`s really kind of an -- it`s a beautiful thing when it happens, because you get to be among all your peers, and there`s crazy respect and love going around.

But Jay-Z happened to be right in the front table there. And while we were playing, he was, like, doing this kind of thing. And I thought, all right, babe, that`s really nice to see. We`re all one. We are one big family. That`s the way we should be. That`s where this whole world should be.

But we`re working on it, Ari.

MELBER: I love that.

Well, I love that. And one of your fellow Hall of Famers, which is kind of still a cool thing to say, even with the things that need to change, was Carole King. And she sent us here -- she`s been on THE BEAT, great, great artist, also an environmentalist.

She sent us a picture of her and Jay together. And it`s -- yes, I mean, John, I know you love music too. I know you have been at Jazz Fest, John Stanton. I mean, these artists can really coexist.

STANTON: Yes, I mean, it`s crazy that The Go-Go`s aren`t in.

I mean, I wouldn`t be who I am without having been listening to The Go-Go`s in the `80s. I mean, it was a huge part of my life. It was a huge part of everyone`s life.

And I think there`s been multiple generations -- I guess we`re getting that old now -- of people that have been born who are musicians now who were directly influenced by musicians like you all. And yet, like, we just pretend like it doesn`t really matter.

And I think it`s just -- it`s crazy. It`s good that you guys and other women artists are starting to get recognized, but a lot more needs to be done, for sure.


SCHOCK: That blows my mind. I`m sorry to interrupt.

MELBER: Oh, go ahead. Go ahead.

SCHOCK: I love, like, just what he said. I -- when I hear something like that, I really -- it`s hard to believe that we have had that sort of reach and influence on other people, because we`re just this group of five girls that have just had this magical ride, love what we do.

And it`s just been incredible. And then I hear someone like Johnny saying, oh, it influenced him. I`m hearing that a lot these days. And it is -- it never gets old. I`m always so blown away when I hear it.

I`m sorry, Ari. I could go on forever about this. But it`s just been such a wonderful time for the band and for myself right now. And there`s a lot of crap going on in this country, but time and place, we`re going to all address everything when it -- when we can.

MELBER: Yes. And don`t be sorry. This is why we invited you.

I got 15 seconds left.

SCHOCK: Thank you.

MELBER: For any parents...


MELBER: For any parents watching with kids who want to be drummers, best advice for young drummers?

SCHOCK: Do what you love to do, babies. Do what you love to do. And you may hear no many, many times, but it only takes one yes.

That`s the way it worked for me.



SCHOCK: And...

MELBER: Hey, good.

SCHOCK: Determination, focus, it`s possible.

Hey, John, thank you, baby.

MELBER: Love it.

SCHOCK: Hey, thank you.

MELBER: Hall of Famer Gina Schock, John Stanton, thanks to both of you.

That does it for THE BEAT tonight.

It`s Joy Reid`s time now. Let me pass it on.