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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 11/29/21

Guests: Kathleen Belew


A new legal rebuke is delivered for Trump vet Steve Bannon in his criminal case. Democrats eye a December breakthrough for President Biden. A new COVID variant called Omicron causes concern. The relationship between anti-Semitism, racism, and the civil rights movement is examined.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We have reports tonight on a new legal rebuke for Trump vet Steve Bannon in his criminal case.

Plus, Democrats eying a December breakthrough for President Biden.

While our top story right now is about COVID-19 and about new evidence there`s reason to prepare for COVID `22, a third year of a pandemic rebooted with a new variant called Omicron, which was tracked hitting North America overnight in Canada. Experts say the strain has been identified in over 15 countries.

It`s expected to reach the U.S. It had been, for example, almost a month since the president gave formal remarks about COVID. And the new variant, however, has pushed this White House back to tackle the subject once again, today Biden emphasizing he does not see -- and Fauci agrees with him -- a need for new shutdowns.




FAUCI: It`s not the time to panic.

BIDEN: We`re going to fight COVID this winter, not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more.

FAUCI: Our concern should spur us to do the things that we know work.


MELBER: The things that experts know work starts with vaccines. Almost 60 percent of Americans now are vaccinated. That is still, though, a figure that experts say must rise.

Safety measures also work, but they continue to tax public patience after these two years of sacrifice. The WHO says this variant is right now at a very high global risk. It has been identified in a range of countries, including South Africa, the Biden administration banning incoming travel from eight nations in the region as a precaution, while other countries are going farther, responding with drastic and quite costly measures.

Israel, Morocco and Japan doing full bans, barring virtually any visitor from abroad as their initial emergency response right now to start the week. So, is this another blip in the COVID story, which will mostly impact the unvaccinated, or is this some kind of turning point here that could send us all, including the vaccinated, way, way backwards?

Experts don`t know all the details. But even if this variant is more serious, scientists think they also already know enough that they could tweak current effective vaccines to address the new variant if needed. Indeed, Pfizer says it could adjust its existing vaccine within 100 days.


DR. ALBERT BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: We have made multiple times clear that we will be able to have a vaccine in less than 100 days. In fact, we have already two vaccines built in less than 100 days. We built one for Delta, but we didn`t know use because the current vaccine is very effective against Delta.

And we built one for Beta, which also we didn`t have to use. So we will be one at least right now for Omicron. But it will be used only case we need it, if we see that the current one doesn`t work.


MELBER: That is straight from the leader of Pfizer. So it`s interesting for all the reasons you can imagine.

I`m joined by Dr. Azar from NYU Langone, and Katty Kay, a Washington expert for us.

I will start with you, Doctor.

What is understood about this variant? Why is it being treated suddenly as so much more concerning than some of the other ones we have heard about?


So, Ari, just to review for everybody, there`s three main concerns with variants, right? One is, will it become more dangerous, more virulent? The second is, will it evade immune protection from either vaccination or natural immunity? And the third is whether or not it`s more contagious.

And just to be very blunt about it, it`s not just the presence of mutations that is a concern, but rather the profile, the amount, the combination. And, in this instance, this variant, Omicron, does appear to be more significant than its predecessor Delta, with about double the number of mutations at that very critical spike protein, which, as we know, is the targets of the vaccines, and also areas of the spike that attach to the human cell, hence, increasing or triggering the concern for increased transmissibility.

We don`t have any data yet on virulence. It`s anecdotal right now out of South Africa that it does not appear to be a more -- causing more severe disease. And I should just add that there`s no evolutionary advantage to a virus to become more severe, because it will die off with the host it infects.


So, what I suspect we are going to hear in a matter of weeks is that it is more contagious -- to what degree, I don`t know -- and probably evades immune protection from vaccination, again, partially. To what degree, we don`t know.

But I want to reiterate and remind everybody out there, if you will indulge me for a second, the way the immune system works is that, yes, if there is a blunted antibody response, if you have been vaccinated, if you come into contact with this variant, you might get -- you might have a greater chance of becoming infected. That could lead to mild or moderate illness.

But the other parts of your immune system that are there, the B-Cells and the T-cells, are ready and waiting to protect you from severe disease. That hasn`t changed. There`s nothing about the variant that is suggesting that your immune system would not behave in a more -- in a predictable manner in that regard, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate all of that. That`s why we started with you on the briefing.

Katty and I will now handle the less scientific part. Not everyone can be a doctor around here.

And, Katty, that is the policy part and the politics. Here is a president who has talked a lot about science leading. But, if we`re being honest, he really came quickly to assure everyone there won`t be severe lockdowns and measures. Of course, he and no one really knows everything yet about this. It does seem to suggest that we`re in a different place going into `22 than we were, say, a year ago, and what even policy-makers think the public would even tolerate.

KATTY KAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it seems that our tolerance for risk when it comes for COVID has increased, along with our impatience to get this done.

I mean, we -- I`m sure you hear it, Ari, all the time. I hear people saying: I`m done with COVID.

The problem is, COVID isn`t done with us. And it`s -- I thought it was interesting to hear Jeff Zients at the White House, Jen Psaki at the White House and today Joe Biden at the White House all say that no, no, no, we`re not going back into lockdowns, even shying away from saying, we`re going to try, to the extent that they have the legal authority to do so, to reintroduce mask mandates or vaccine mandates around the country, backing away from those kinds of measures, at the same time introducing travel bans from Southern Africa.

And there`s an inconsistency. You have got travel bans from Southern Africa, as you pointed out, no travel bans at the moment from the U.K., Canada, Denmark, other European countries where they have already recorded cases of Omicron.

So there is an inconsistency there. And I think it reflects an awareness in the White House that there just isn`t the political appetite in the country to do this, even though the science might suggest, listen, if you`re going to have a travel ban that is inconsistent, in and of itself, for some countries, but not for other countries, you probably, scientifically, would do more to protect the nation by saying, right, everybody wears a mask indoors, which has just been reintroduced in the U.K., and you have to have vaccine mandates if you want to go into places of work or public places where there are other people.

That would be following the science.

MELBER: Yes, I think that`s fair. And I think that`s what speaks to why this is difficult for almost any government.

We could get very narrow-minded in America thinking about the recent choices. But there are many countries with many different governments across the political spectrum that have seriously struggled with this in many ways.

Doctor, just to put a clear point on it, since folks are coming out of the holiday weekend and catching up on this, is there anything different anyone should actually do right now, based on what we know?

AZAR: I think if you have been -- if you have been -- well, certainly, if you have been reluctant to get vaccinated, now would be a really good time to do your primary series.

And if you have been waiting to get the booster, now would be a really good time. There was some differing opinions out there. I have yet to fully dissect the piece. I`m not going to name names, but I think, for the most part, the consensus is, is that boosting is important now, and that you shouldn`t wait for the potential variant-specific booster, which, as the CEO, I think, was it Pfizer or Moderna, said could be available in 100 days.

And the reason is that if you boost now, you`re going to ramp up those protective neutralizing antibodies, but you`re also broadening the repertoire of those antibodies. And just by sheer number, that could compensate a little bit for a potential mismatch, right, with the variants.

So, listen, coming out of the holiday weekend, now`s the time. Get your booster. You will be protected again in two weeks. You have that extra layer of armor. And don`t forget all the other behaviors, as Katty was saying, masking, ventilated spaces, all of that stuff.

It still applies. It still works, right?


AZAR: I mean, even if the vaccine isn`t going to be quite as much of a match and not as effective, the masks are still very, very effective.


MELBER: Yes, understood.

I want to thank Dr. Azar and Katty Kay for kicking us off.

I have David Corn standing by for one other piece of all this. We turn to these other COVID concerns. Now, this is a life-and-death issue. But there`s also, as always, the politics.

"Washington Post" reporting on this new variant and noting any resurgence of COVID worries could further drag down Biden`s popularity and undercut his promise to restore the country to normalcy.

Now, the clear political point is that COVID is bad politics for the incumbent. That was certainly true for Donald Trump, whose own pollsters found COVID hurt him as president and helped cost him the election.

It`s also true for Biden, as long as people think COVID is worse than it should be. That`s the story. Some stories are simple. COVID is bad politics.

Now, keep that in mind as you hear a particularly dumb new conspiracy theory on the right, which argues Biden and the Democrats are somehow trying to bring on the new variant because they want COVID around for the elections.


STEPHEN MILLER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: If President Trump was still in office, by the way, we`d already have modified vaccines to deal with the new variants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s always a new variant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can always -- count on a variant about every October every two years.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I think it`s going to -- yes, you`re probably writing. However, they could speed up. The variants can come more quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to need a new variant here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Former White House doctor turned MAGA Congressman Ronny Jackson tweeted -- quote -- "Here comes the MEV, the midterm election variant. They need a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to cheat during an election, but we`re not going to let them."


MELBER: That last tweet there is, as mentioned, from Trump doctor turned Republican Congressman Jackson.

He has clearly reached the -- I don`t know, the word salad stage of conspiracy theories, where you just say variant, mail ballots, and cheat, and then hope no one even thinks about what you`re actually claiming.

As promised, we bring in David Corn Washington bureau chief with "Mother Jones."

David, pay no attention to the fact that we have released the doctor and brought you in for a very dumb story, OK, because we think highly of you. But the stupid is everywhere. And we`re shining a light on it to make sure folks understand that, if this is going to be the next big conspiracy theory, it doesn`t make sense. It`s also playing with fire, because, as dumb as it is, it`s a disservice to any conservatives or Republicans who aren`t going to take the variants seriously because their leaders aren`t.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it goes back to the very beginning of the pandemic, when Donald Trump and others started politicizing it, saying -- and downplaying it, dismissing it, it`s just the flu.

And people who want to believe in what that tribal leader is saying then don`t listen to the public health experts. Dr. Fauci. Dr. Azar was just on your show telling people they need to get boosted, they need to get vaccines. If people listen to Ronny Jackson, who is an elected member of Congress, one of 435 such members, and thus a leader of this nation, dismissing this variant as just a political hoax, well, if you believe that, you`re not going to listen to the doctor and get boosted or vaccinated.

So it`s -- the politics are stupid, but stupid kills.


CORN: And if you listen to him, and you listen to other Republicans and other people on FOX, mainly on FOX, pooh-poohing this, your chances go up of contracting the disease and having a severe case of it and perhaps even perishing.

And, worse for us -- I mean, people can say, OK, people making choices, it`s their life. The more the disease, the more that the virus can travel and get other bodies, to their -- can get the disease and pass it on, it obviously puts a strain on our health care system, but the more chances that mutations beyond the mutations we have seen, more variants, until finally there may be one that we really, truly have to worry about.

We don`t know about Omicron at this point in time. It seems like some people are optimistic. The head of Pfizer seems to be. But, again, the more the virus can live within us and pass and spread and we don`t smother it either with masking and social distancing and vaccinations, then we are all at greater risk.


CORN: So it is stupid, but it is really important to call out the ignorance the -- it`s not even ignorance. I guess it`s purposeful, right?

MELBER: Very purposeful.

CORN: I mean, these -- he`s a doctor. He`s saying this on purpose.

MELBER: Well, let me ask you this, David.


MELBER: Yes, let me ask you this, because you have studied how this stuff works.

There are other types of deceptions that have an internal logic, but they come up short. Here, we`re entering this third level where you have to really not be paying attention to believe a conspiracy theory that says a politician wants more COVID to help get reelected.


CORN: Yes, I mean, if you look at the polls, that`s certainly not going to help -- won`t help Joe Biden. I think what they`re saying is, this theory is, they can use it then to be repressive, to lock things down and use mail-in ballots, which they claim are the source of tremendous fraud.

You remember, it was July 2020 when Ted Cruz came out and said, I guarantee you that, a week after the election, no will talk about COVID.

Again, this is a guy who went to some prestigious colleges. He`s not an idiot. He went to law school. He is one of 100 leaders of the Senate. And he`s out there saying -- I almost cursed there -- saying the dumbest things imaginable.

And yet there are people who will listen and believe this and basically make decisions based on this, right?

MELBER: Right.

Now, What -- now, David...

CORN: And so it puts Joe Biden in a tough decision -- in a tough position, because he can`t ignore the politics. And he`s fighting a big headwind from right 30, 40 percent of the population.

MELBER: Right.

Now everyone`s wondering, David, what curse word you came close to using on TV, but don`t -- please don`t tell us. It`s the afternoon on the West Coast.

CORN: You`re not going to trap me...


MELBER: I wouldn`t...


CORN: ... get so upset when there`s such tremendous stupidity, I mean, because, listen, we could have been dealing with this so much better over the last year-and-a-half.

According to one UCLA study, there were 400,000 preventable deaths. People were going to die from this, but 400,000 preventable deaths because we did not implement the right measures quickly enough, testing, masking, social distancing.


CORN: And so why a large part of the population still are willing to listen to the -- to the denialists, because that`s what they are, the denialists, it`s quite -- is a challenge for all of us, and it`s a challenge for Biden, because you`re right.

People want this to be over, and they`re going to blame him if it`s not over, even if one reason it`s not over is because 30 percent of the public refuses to get vaccinated and do the smart thing.

MELBER: Well, and that`s where the politics come back to the behavioral data that we have, that there`s things people can do. The experts have told us that.

David, thank you for breaking that one down with us here.

I have a lot more coming up on tonight`s show. The legal rebuke I mentioned for Steve Bannon, we have that with Neal Katyal.

And, later, Biden has, he says, a plan to win by the end of the year, all that and our accountability check on something really important that relates to Charlottesville and civil rights.

Stay with us.



MELBER: The House insurrection probe gearing up for another major move, preparing to hold former Trump administration official Jeffrey Clark in criminal contempt.

Now, that is big. Clark was a senior Justice Department official trying to help Trump overturn election results, refusing to answer the committee`s most pressing questions, claiming a type of executive privilege.

Well, he`s at DOJ. He`s not a lawyer for the president. The committee`s view is, he has no right to that. Congressman Schiff says soon they will make decisions about contempt charges for that individual, Clark, as well as Trump`s number one official, former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.


DANA BASH, CNN: Two weeks ago, you said that the January 6 Committee would move very quickly to refer former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for criminal contempt charges after he defied a subpoena. Is that still likely going to happen? And, if so, when?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think we will probably make a decision this week.

We are moving with alacrity with anyone who obstructs the committee, and that was certainly the case with Mr. Bannon. It will be the case with Mr. Meadows, Mr. Clark or any others.


MELBER: Schiff`s reference there shows that he means business, because the committee has exercised its powers to a degree that has upended Steve Bannon`s life.

It was, of course, the Garland DOJ that indicted Bannon for stonewalling this entire probe. The Justice Department this weekend accuses Bannon of making frivolous claims now and that basically because he`s losing in court he wants to try the case through the press.

We`re going to get into exactly what that means with Neal Katyal when we`re back in 60 seconds.


MELBER: Now joined by former Obama acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal.

Good to see you again.

We have been tracking some of these developments, including how the Bannon case affects other potential witnesses who may face potential contempt. Your thoughts on all the above?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so the Justice Department today, those prosecutors called Steve Bannon`s filing frivolous.

So, Bannon claimed that he wanted to make certain documents public and the Justice Department wasn`t letting him. And the Justice Department`s response today was to call it frivolous and basically say, oh, no, you didn`t.

They point out that Bannon never even asked the Justice Department to try and make these documents public. And so this dispute is not going to go well for Bannon. Judges are -- they don`t like it when parties can`t work out stuff among themselves and they run into court.


And that`s particularly true here, given Bannon`s specific claim. I mean, he`s basically saying: I can`t -- he`s complaining that he can`t publicly discuss the contents of certain documents.

And I have a very easy suggestion for him, if he`s worried about that, and he wants to be public. Testify.


KATYAL: This guy`s afraid to go and tell the truth about what happened under oath. And that`s what all of these legal skirmishes are about.

And that`s the part that`s frivolous. So, I think he`s going to lose these claims. And I think it`s going to embolden the House investigators.


I mean, legally, the only question for Bannon is whether he has any right to defy. He hasn`t provided any great legal argument there. When you get to the logic of it, you point out another big hole here, which is this isn`t exactly Justice Souter hiding out in a cabin because he doesn`t like press.

This is someone who`s hosting his own media channel every day sounding off, which, by the way, is his First Amendment right. Have at it, but then not participating with a lawful probe.

When you look at the other DOJ official I mentioned, who may have played a significant role, certainly worth investigating, but is not the same household name as Bannon, does that case also matter? And what do you make of his claim, a veteran of the same vaunted department you worked in, that what he was doing within DOJ might have afforded him presidential executive privilege?

KATYAL: I think it`s huge.

And, yes, Americans don`t right now know the name of Jeffrey Clark, but I think they soon will. It looks like the evidence suggests that he, Mr. Clark, used his Justice Department position to try and launch a coup. And he angled to even replace the acting attorney general.

Clark was a low-level -- relatively low-level person, but he tried to angle with Trump to replace and run the Justice Department, and, indeed, so much so that it said that the entire senior leadership of the Justice Department threatened en masse to resign because of Clark and what he was trying to do and try to steal the election.

And so when you look at like Madison in Federalist Paper 51, when he talks about how men aren`t angels, and ambition is needed to counteract ambition, there`s a picture of Jeff Clark there. I mean, this is someone who`s really got to go and tell the truth about what happened, because his role looks really, really serious, and certainly not something protected by executive privilege.

MELBER: And then there`s the structural questions. Do you see anything coming out from all this that suggests there should be some more concrete reform, so that the DOJ is not as contactable, persuadable, et cetera, from a would-be tyrant who wants to use it for what you called an attempted coup?

KATYAL: Well, there is a structural set of rules.

And, indeed, one of my first jobs at the Justice Department was to draft those rules. And they require basically only the deputy attorney general or the attorney general to communicate with the White House on any serious matter. And, obviously, that was blown apart by the Trump administration.

But, as I understand it, Merrick Garland has resumed that contacts policy. So I think that`s necessary.

But, more generally, Ari, you look investigation after investigation, they have taken so long. We`re almost a year after January 6. We have also got the New York investigations going on into Trump and his inflation of assets. You have got Georgia and so on.

I mean, I feel like I need a spreadsheet just to keep track of which office is doing what investigation over Donald Trump`s misconduct. I mean, it`s getting harder to keep up with than Pete Davidson dating rumors at this point.

But I think that, taken together, we see law enforcement trying to have a response, but it wasn`t really geared for someone like Trump, who would just stymie at every turn, say no, refuse to tell the truth in order his hench-people to refuse to tell the truth under oath as well.

MELBER: Neal Katyal, if we had more time, we would try to find out if you have a spreadsheet that also tracks Pete Davidson`s life, because we didn`t know Neal Katyal keeps track of all these things.

But we`re out of time. So we will make that for next time.

And let me remind everyone, in addition to thanking Neal, you can always go to That`s Neal`s special legal segment where we post these updates and primers, some of them definitely worth taking in again, if you`re interested.

Later tonight, I have an important story about the world of culture and fashion. I`m going to tell you all about that.

Coming up, we also have the political breakthrough that Democrats say will change everything. President Biden thinks he can actually get the other spending victory by Christmas.

But, first, anti-Semitism, racism, the civil rights movement, these stories are in the news all the time. We have two special guests, including Maya Wiley, to talk about what accountability actually looks like.



MELBER: Turning to our accountability report, those white supremacists behind the deadly 2017 Charlottesville rally did not originate much of the hate that they espouse.

Even their infamous chant is actually imported from some European hate movements.


MARCHERS: Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!


MELBER: Scholars have tracked how European anti-Semitism and racism have been mixed and exported to a range of supremacist movements around the world, including right here in America.

One scholar has explained that the animus is of racism and anti-Semitism actually come together in a concept of -- quote -- "white replacement, where the Jews` accomplices are seen as an array of people of color" -- end quote.

The scholar is Deborah Lipstadt, who studies anti-Semitism and its roots in resurgence around the world. Now, you may wonder, what`s the point of only tracking or studying all this stuff, especially if we feel we know about it?

Well, beyond the pursuit of knowledge itself, I`m getting into this with you tonight because some of her work has actually been applied in a real- world fight for justice and accountability against violent white supremacists in America, including the people chanting in Charlottesville.

Lawyers took those hate groups to court in an effort to find or bankrupt them over their actions. And they even called the scholar I just mentioned to you, Lipstadt, to the stand. She testified about the history of this type of hate, how it made it all the way to Charlottesville.


And in a report that was also used in this trial of those individuals, she wrote about the chant, an explicit invocation of the white genocide replacement theory, positing Jews have a plan to replace a type of -- quote -- "white European culture."

Keep in mind, of course, that we have American extremists who talk about American exceptionalism who are then importing what is a basically European set of ideas, albeit hateful, into the U.S.

"The New York Times" reports this is permeating more far right circles. Some experts also point to the laundering by FOX News` Tucker Carlson, who has now claimed that the left has a goal of -- quote -- "changing the racial mix of the country," a framework that echoes this replacement theory.

Now, none of this is a drill or idle intellectual observation. We`re talking about what has been learned and gleaned by the experts on this type of European hate and its terrible historical lessons in Europe, who now warn us, the stuff is here, and it`s spreading in America.

There are also ways to lawfully fight back. I mentioned that case against that very hate group -- set of hate groups in Charlottesville. Well, it just ended with them losing. Those groups now have to literally pay millions, not only for what they did, but for what they believed, why they did it.

So the white supremacist groups may have been proudly and publicly racist, but, when it came to court, that made them all the more obviously guilty.

Now that that trial is over, and we mentioned that context, I want to bring in for a special discussion Maya Wiley, a legal analyst for us and former civil prosecutor, and Kathleen Belew, history professor at the University of Chicago, the author of "A Field Guide to White Supremacy."

Welcome to both of you.

Professor, I want to start with you, given your specific work. And I mentioned some of your fellow scholars of this kind of stuff, which is tough and often tragic history, but history we might learn from.

What does it mean that this scholarship and some of this deeper understanding of the links of anti-Semitism and racism was used to effect in this trial?

KATHLEEN BELEW, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: So, understanding the anti-Semitic roots of the great replacement theory and its connections to genocide in the Holocaust and to other acts of atrocity is incredibly important.

But it is equally important to know that this is an American movement. This is American hate. And, in fact, the American white power movement is exporting to a lot of these other places now.

So I think that, although we certainly can look to European roots for some of the ideological currents, it`s very important to know that this is a movement that has been organizing incredibly effectively in the United States at least since the late 1970s.

We are decades, if not generations into this, as an American movement. And I`m talking here about the militant white power movement that has brought together neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and others, who we saw come together in Charlottesville.

Now, that movement usually operates both in public-facing ways, as we saw in the Unite the Right Rally, and in a militarized underground that is interested in direct attacks on civilians and on our institutions. We don`t usually see that underground unfolding in real time, but we can see it in a historical archive.

And this is where the history of this movement can really help us to understand the threat that we`re confronting.


MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that`s such an important point.

And I think, as someone who`s black and raised in a civil rights household with civil rights activist parents, this notion of this relationship between the Jewish community and the black community is real and deep in the civil rights movement as well because of the shared experience of hate, racism, segregation.

We forget that, in this country, black codes in the South, Jim Crow South, often said, if you were Semitic, if you were Italian, if you were Irish, you were also excluded because they weren`t considered white, weren`t white Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

And if you fast-forward that, Ari, I think you so rightly pointed out how important the Charlottesville trial was for exposing how this is operating, the part that has been underground, how it operates, but also how it`s been allowed to come into the light of day and be explicit, and the basically care and protection that, unfortunately, so many, including Trumpism and the protection of the GOP now that I think is quite explicit in the form that we`re starting to see in the January 6 Committee in terms of who has been subpoenaed.


It`s very explicitly now going to the white supremacist, neo-Nazi roots of the violence on January 6 and some of Donald Trump`s closest advisers who have been subpoenaed, like an Alex Jones, like a Steve Bannon, like these folks. Roger Stone, as we remember, was photographed with the Proud Boys in 2018 at an Oregon Republican club flashing a white supremacist symbol, and was kicked off of Facebook because he was connected to so many fake accounts with the Proud Boys, who are also now being subpoenaed by the January 6 Committee.

So I think we have to see these things together, both the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, but also the way Trumpism has created this way to mainstream what really is deeply troubling hate that, unfortunately, excludes far too many of us from democracy.


And, Maya, to build on your point, this is where some of this type of hateful ideology involves a projection, because its adherents see the world in these categories. They only see, for example, Judaism, or, for example, American blackness as anti-other things. It`s designed to replace or take over Christianity or the white power structure as they see it.

And yet, Maya, the truth is exactly the opposite. You`re talking about groups here in Europe, in terms of the scholarship that was cited in the trial, or in the American experience, groups that, in a very real way, have mostly been trying to survive and avoid state and other efforts to wipe them out or subjugate them.

And yet that gets turned around.

To you and then the professor, how is that important with this sort of white grievance culture that we`re seeing in some right-wing politics?

WILEY: Well, it`s extremely important because, first of all, what we have to recognize is, we have to become a pluralistic democracy to be a successful one.

We all do better when we all band together and work on solving our shared problems. And the truth is, whether it`s child care, whether it`s affordable housing, whether it`s the environment, these are shared problems.

But what this kind of becomes -- and one of the scariest things for me coming out of the violence of Charlottesville was a poll that was conducted afterwards, where 31 percent of those polled said that they believed that white European culture and identity needed to be protected and preserved, 31 percent.

While that is not a majority, it is far too many people. And a lot of that becomes the ability to pit people against each other as who`s to blame for our problems? Why are we in trouble, rather than to say, there`s actually way for us to fix this together? We`re certainly not going to fix it apart.

MELBER: Professor?

BELEW: That`s absolutely right.

And I think one way to think about this through the tools we have from learning about our own shared history is that we have this set of radical promises about life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. That was never meant for all of us. That was not meant for the people who are on this panel right now. That was meant for free, white, property-owning men, full stop.

And through work and solidarity and joining together and advocating, that promise has been expanded and expanded and expanded over time to include more and more people, people of color, women, immigrants. On and on we go.

But that is work that is still very much under construction. We need look no further than attacks on the franchise to see that. All of the attacks on voting rights and access to the polls show us that this is an incomplete project. But the real contest is about the speed of whether we can outpace the expansion of those promises, whether those promises can outpace the work to undermine our democratic process.

We`re talking about a society now where 28 elected officials have ties or affiliations with the Oath Keepers, which is a private army, a private militia group. We`re talking about eight people being elected from the January 6 crowd into Republican office.

We`re talking about a lot of terrifying numbers in relation to how many people say that they would support the use of force to return Trump to the White House. This is no longer a fringe position. And we don`t have to look only at what someone is saying on FOX News to know that.

This is all through our measures.


BELEW: This is all through our politics.


BELEW: And the question is really about, can democracy handle this threat?

MELBER: Right.

And part of that, of course, is shining the light on it so people understand what we`re dealing with in a thorough manner.


I want to thank Maya and Kathleen for joining us, an important subject. We`re going to stay on it.

When we come back, I have got a story tonight about why Democrats say President Biden is going to beat Mitch McConnell one more time before Christmas.


MELBER: Now we turn to a story in the world of culture about a young iconic designer who has been upending fashion, Virgil Abloh


VIRGIL ABLOH, FASHION DESIGNER: I did not ever think that I could be a designer with a capital D, because no one looked like me.

Like you say the music, you can think of a look. And so, as I started thinking about clothing, I was always, like, drawn to what my initial interest was. And that was T-shirts.

What I would challenge you in your work no matter what is go back. Go back to when you were like -- that -- your earliest memories or the way that you thought to organize something.

To me, I -- the 17-year-old version of myself didn`t think that this was possible. So, every day that I`m able to sort of like make an idea and see it come out, that`s enough fulfillment.



MELBER: That voice you hear is Abloh, heralded as the voice of an entire generation, challenging global culture.

He created the renowned brand Off-White and rose to the top of a very closed fashion world as artistic director for Louis Vuitton, the first black person in that role ever, working across its 75 brands.

The son of Ghanaian immigrants, his mother was a seamstress. Ablow not only breaking barriers, but proving the interest and demand that was out there for broader, deeper experiments with design and streetwear and contemporary fashion, including expanding the very definition of luxury.

The news is that Virgil Abloh has now died after a two-year battle with cancer at the age of 41.

"The New York Times" writes, he was an endlessly creative fashion theorist who inspired comparisons to artists from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons. Now, the designer`s death at this young age came as a shock to many. He did not disclose his cancer diagnosis publicly.

And in a statement released after his passing, his representatives explained that Abloh chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helping several significant institutions that spanned fashion, art and culture. They added, his curiosity and optimism never wavered.

Tributes have been pouring in since the news broke this weekend from Abloh`s peers, admirers and friends. It is a testament to how many worlds he touched, ranging from Donatella Versace and Drake to his longtime fashion collaborator Ye.

Now, Abloh is survived by his wife, two children, his sister, and his parents.

Now, four years ago -- this was before the diagnosis and before this whole pandemic we have been living through -- Abloh spoke to design students at Harvard about the industry they were entering, about tapping one`s own creativity and about the world they stood to inherit.

And like other influential artists, his ideas really resonate even if you don`t happen to be focused on his particular passion, because, in his voice, you can sense that spark of creation, of making something, of embracing whatever moment you happen to be in when you`re alive, which is a very human feeling.

Art comes from that place and can help us return there.

So, as we mark his life, it is a sentiment worth pausing to take in and taking it in from someone who clearly intensely appreciated living life while he had it every step of the way.


ABLOH: You guys are born at a very awesome, distinct time.

Like, I think that this is the renaissance. Don`t get sort of trapped into like this everything sucks, the world is, like, coming to an end. You can, like, wake up every day and come up with excuses.

But it`s exactly the opposite. You`re intrigued enough to come hear this rambling of a bunch of random projects, but I know you guys. If you`re interested in this, you guys are interested in tackling something that isn`t on -- that isn`t seen yet.

So, with that, I`m done.





MELBER: Finally tonight, that update on the president`s agenda that I mentioned.

President Biden says he can end this year with action, the White House having Biden tout his infrastructure spending in Minnesota -- that`s tomorrow -- and eying one more very big potential legislative victory.

Congress returns this week here from recess, and the Senate might just pass Biden`s other big spending plan. Now, the economy has been surging in some ways, record-breaking jobs numbers, and yet also struggling with this ongoing inflation.

The president today says all of this comes down to economic recovery.


BIDEN: Four-point-five million more Americans than last year had the dignity of a job.

What it also means is that as we`re looking toward the holiday season. We feel a lot more like the ones we had in the past. Consumer spending has recovered to where it was headed before the pandemic.


MELBER: In essence, the president is saying the people are spending this holiday season, and the government should join them. They are looking for that Senate vote before Congress adjourns for the holidays.

Now, one final thing I want to tell you that we sometimes remind you. We have our TV show here for you at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, but, sometimes, there`s more than just what`s on TV.

We continue the conversation online. Take a look.


MELBER: Oh, my God, what time is it?

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": It`s time to do the interview, Ari. Put your phone is a moment. Come on, buddy.

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s a moment. It`s a mood. It`s a vibe.

KATYAL: It`s part of the Trump M.O.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s a desperate man.

MELBER: Michael and Ari. It`s like "Roger & Me."

JEFF GARLIN, ACTOR: Dig this. You ready?

MELBER: What do you got?

GARLIN: I`m at the Emmys. I`m waiting to hear if "Curb" wins or not.

WILEY: What we need most is not ideology. It`s evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Fish, and that`s Chips.

DR. RUTH WESTHEIMER, SEX THERAPIST: When are you going to call me?

MELBER: This week.






Everything you just saw was a digital exclusive. You would have to join us on the Internet. If you`re interested, you can find me at or across social media @AriMelber on any platform. You could see Dr. Ruth and the pets.

And if you pass, that`s fine. Just keep it locked on THE BEAT and "THE REIDOUT" and "ALL IN." That`s fine too. It`s really your call.

I`m out of time.

"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next, lucky for you.

And here is Joy.

How you doing?

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How you doing, Ari? You have to promise to introduce me to Dr. Ruth one day.