The Omicron variant is detected in more states. Police shoot a 61- year-old man in a wheelchair. Are Republicans plotting to try to steal elections they would otherwise lose? Raekwon speaks out. New developments emerge in the Steve Bannon case.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle.
And real quick, there`s no player without -- no games without the players. There`s no "DEADLINE" without Nicolle Wallace.
MELBER: So, we`re happy that you`re on the starting lineup every day.
WALLACE: And I owe you 18 seconds. I took them from you. They are owed to you. And I will pay them back. I will be 18 seconds early tomorrow.
MELBER: You can have them back any time.
I will see you, Nicolle.
Welcome, everyone, to THE BEAT. We have a lot going on.
We begin with the breaking news on the pandemic.
This Omicron variant of COVID first hit the United States officially and confirmed yesterday. Well, today, we can tell you it is spreading. It now has been formally confirmed and found in three states, California, Colorado, and Minnesota.
What do doctors make of this new variant? Well, we will ask the doctor who treated the very first Oregon case in the United States. He joins us in a moment.
As for those three states with the variant, experts view this as a floor. They expect more spread on the way. Indeed, the person who has it in Minnesota had traveled recently to New York City for a large anime convention in late November.
And, as it happens, we have some footage here. About 50,000 people in total were there, celebrating, discussing, learning, doing all the anime things. And given that crowded and what is known about variants, the mayor of New York says they are now operating as if there is already community spread of the variant in New York City.
Now, many have been on higher alert about the variant. That`s in the United States. Then, separate from that, you have COVID cases breaking records in Europe. So this is what is going on right now, a lot of concern, but also a lot that we know internationally about how to deal with these things, including mutating variants.
So, with all of that in mind, President Biden today formally rolled out the updated United States COVID plan for winter, which includes newest safety protocols. He spoke at the National Institute of Health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I`m back to announce our action plan to battle COVID-19 this winter. It doesn`t include shutdowns or lockdowns, but widespread vaccinations and boosters and testing and a lot more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: One thing that popped out that everyone heard there who is following this is the president reiterating what he said, that this will not include lockdowns or closing schools.
That`s a break with some of the current approaches in parts of Europe and with some of the first wave responses to COVID last year, .
This is one of those times that may feel like deja vu. But the problem with deja vu is thinking that we are living through the same thing again. In a very real sense, we are not, both because there are things we don`t yet know about a mutated version of this variant. We will get into that with our experts, but also because there are things we do know that we didn`t know two years ago.
Indeed, one of the things that was worse, besides the obvious pain and death of the original first wave of COVID, was how little we knew about what to do. One thing the president said today that is fact-check true is there is much more that is known, that is provable about how to protect yourself and your family and your community as we go through what may be the third year of the COVID era.
I want to bring in and begin with a doctor and policy-maker, former governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean. He will be joined, as mentioned, by another doctor shortly.
Governor and Dr. Dean, when the president lays this all out, he is trying to walk the line. There`s things, as mentioned, that can be done, vaccination at the top of the list. Boosters are part of it. And then there`s things that we don`t know yet, we will have to figure out. But he`s still trying to give people expectations.
What did you think of that line he walked today?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think he`s doing a very, very good job. And I don`t say that just to be a shill for the Democrats.
The trick in something like this is to amass as much evidence as you can. And that`s very hard to do early on. I think a lot of the mistakes that have been made by reasonable and reputable news organizations is to have people on who make definitive statements.
We don`t know. That`s the only, honestly, thing we can say is, we don`t know. Now, there are clues. There was a South African study that showed -- recently, like today -- that showed that the new variant may be up to three times more infectious than Delta, which is also much more infectious already than the original virus.
So that`s worrisome. What we don`t know and there hasn`t been any indication is, do you get sicker with this variation? We don`t know the answer to that.
I think, from the information you just presented tonight, which is new for me, this business about the Javits Convention Center, that shows something that Fauci said a couple of days ago. If it`s in San Francisco, it`s already here. So we`re going to get a huge wave of this. And I think it`s fair to predict that the people who are going to be hurt the most, regardless of is how infectious it is, are those who did not get vaccinated.
And that`s why, as I mentioned, this is ongoing. People`s choices and the risk calculation can evolve over time.
MELBER: There may be individuals who, for whatever reason, looked at it as a delay, or didn`t get it, or thought, well, it seems to be fading. Maybe they live in a place where they have decided, oh, it doesn`t seem to be a big deal.
Well, you got to think anew sometimes. Again, my job is to put out the information. They can make their own decisions. But the information is that if new variants continue to spread, the risk greater. This thing continues to exist, it can even work around other safety measures.
And that`s why experts say vaccination remains the single best way to protect yourself and your family. Before I bring in the other doctor, who has primary experience on this, I wanted to mix your doctor hat with the DNC, the guy who`s been a politician and run the party, because there`s still a hangover of everything we`re learning about how the Trump administration handled this.
And some of that`s quite serious. It affects policy. Some of it is just the usual shenanigans of that time. And so, given that there were reports from Trump`s own people now knew that he tested positive and still insisted on going forward and secretly doing the presidential debate with Biden, hiding that very important piece of information...
MELBER: ... here`s how some of that played on "Late Night."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": According to Mark Meadows, in the fall of 2020, the former president tested positive for COVID a few days before his first debate with Joe Biden.
COLBERT: OK, that is totally irresponsible. That`s almost as reckless as when Walter Mondale debated Reagan wearing his pet cobra.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Meadows wrote that when he informed Trump he tested positive Trump replied, "oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You have got to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) be kidding me."
KIMMEL: Which is what most of us said when he was elected president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Go ahead.
DEAN: Oh, great stuff. Great stuff.
Look, Trump was the most amoral and irresponsible president in the history of the country. He may or may not have been the worst president, although he`s certainly in contention. But he was certainly the one with the fewest morals, scruples, and certainly the craziest in terms of psychiatric illness.
So, OK, we`re used to this kind of stuff. I`m not shocked. I`m disgusted, but I`m not shocked. But that really has no effect on what we`re doing now. And what we`re doing now, we need a measured response to this.
There was another survey today which was really disturbing; 41 percent of the Republicans today said they wouldn`t get the shot. But 24 percent of them said they would never get the shot ever. If the Republicans are a little less than half of the country, that means an eighth of the country intends never to be vaccinated, which means we`re never going to get rid of this virus.
There will always be a reservoir of this virus in the American population until we can get up over 90, 95 percent vaccination. That is irresponsible. And that is disgusting.
MELBER: Yes, when you put it like that, it goes to people`s collective choices.
I want you to stay with me, Dr. Dean.
As promised, we bring in another doctor making his first appearance on THE BEAT.
Dr. Charles Chiu is professor of laboratory medicine with the University of California, San Francisco. He sequenced the first Omicron genome here in the United States.
What did you learn in dealing with this?
DR. CHARLES CHIU, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO: Well, what we learned is, I don`t think it was unexpected that Omicron is in the United States.
It had already been reported in multiple countries. We know that, in countries such as South Africa, that it had been spreading. There have many more cases. And so I agree with everyone else, that it was really only a matter of time before we would eventually detected.
I am a little surprised that we did detect it in San Francisco. And I do think that part of the reason is that, in San Francisco and in California, we have a consortium called COVID-NET. And this is a statewide consortium of a number of different laboratories and public health organizations.
And the goal -- and companies as well, the diagnostic companies that test for the virus. And the goal of this is to provide an infrastructure where we could very rapidly identify potential cases. And the goal of COVID-NET was to identify these variants or potential new variants as early as possible, which was the case with Omicron.
MELBER: What did you learn about it?
CHIU: Well, one thing is, we learned about -- so, we identified the first case.
And it has the -- just like the original genomes that have been described in South Africa, it is a very unusual variant. It has an unusual number of mutations. And so what`s worrisome about this particular variant, it has 50 mutations in total. It has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.
And this is much more than the mutations that are found in other variants, such as Delta. And as a result, one thing we`re worried about is...
MELBER: Yes, let me just slow you down. We`re still going to take doctor`s orders. I just want to slow you down here.
You`re saying there`s more mutations, and some of them are in the spikes. Explain to us what that means for whether that`s good or bad as compared to what we have already done to deal with other variants or the original COVID-19.
Yes, so there are some mutations that are president in the spike protein. And because it has more mutations, what that means is -- I should also mention that the mutations that it has, it has some mutations in common with some of the earlier variants, which we know are -- such as Delta, which we know are more infectious.
So, as a result of having these more mutations, there is a suspicion that this virus may be more transmissible, may be more infectious. There`s also a possibility that this virus may be -- may have -- may affect the effectiveness of vaccines, may affect our ability -- the protection that you get from vaccination.
So these are critical questions that need to be answered. And right now, we -- up until now, we really haven`t had the opportunity to answer these questions. Part of the reason is, we simply haven`t had a case. So we don`t have the virus.
For us to do the laboratory studies...
So, when you and other experts then do this, how do you look at those mutations to figure out whether they`re adapting in a way that is more dangerous or are just different; they have somehow mutated, but for our purposes as humans who don`t want to get it or don`t want it to spread, they may not be as concerning?
How do you figure that out?
CHIU: Yes, so those are studies that need to be done in the laboratory initially.
There are two ways to answer the question. One way would be to study the virus in the laboratory. And this is why, as we`re identifying cases, it`s really important that we culture, we grow the virus, we actually be able to grow the virus, so that we can study it.
Several of these -- a lot of this information, we can get from doing studies in the laboratory. But, in addition to that, we can get some information based on epidemiology, based on the number of infections and where the infections are occurring, and being able to see how the virus is being passed or transmitted from person to person.
So, those are public health studies that can also be done to sort of answer these questions. But the immediate information, the information that we can get within, say, four to six weeks, would be these laboratory studies.
And the first step in doing this would be to get a sample of the virus, which we now have.
MELBER: Dr. Dean, what do you think of all the above, as you hear Dr. Chiu, who`s really been in the field here with this, walking us through it?
DEAN: It`s been a long time since I have been in the laboratory. So I`m going to have to agree with everything he says.
No, it makes sense. And this is the -- his approach is exactly the -- I think the approach we need from a public health point of view, which is, let`s talk about what we know and be clear about what it is that we don`t know.
And, right now, there`s a lot we don`t know. And I agree with President Biden. We should be concerned, and this is not the time to panic, because there`s no indication that we do need to panic, except for maybe those 24 percent of Republicans that are going to refuse to get their vaccinations, which I think is insanity.
MELBER: Dr. Dean with us here on a couple of topics, appreciate it.
Dr. Chiu, first time on THE BEAT. I hope you will come back. Thank you for the work you`re doing.
CHIU: Thank you.
DEAN: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate it.
We have a lot more in the program, including what the DOJ is saying about Steve Bannon. Maya Wiley back on THE BEAT.
And a story you may not have heard about yet, a disturbing new police shooting of a 61-year-old man who was in a wheelchair. Police shot him nine times. We will bring you the facts on that.
And it is "Chai Day." Chai Komanduri is here on Republican plots to try to steal elections that he says otherwise they would just lose.
All that, and, if it wasn`t enough, you have heard it. You may know it. Wu- Tang is for the children. Well, Raekwon is here for all ages. He`s on THE BEAT tonight. I can`t wait.
Stay with us.
MELBER: Turning to a story that might sound like it`s about the recent past, but is actually about the future of democracy in America.
We have been covering various ways that a MAGA assault on elections and right-wing fear of losing power are crystallizing in tangible ways right now. Now, there are many reminders of this, and some people would rather move on, but the attacks on our democratic institutions are real.
Just today, two Georgia election workers targeted by Trump allege they have been facing attacks, harassment threats, possibly illegal conduct. They are suing a right-wing Web site for defamation and for contributing to that climate. Across the nation, Trump allies have been trying to put people in key election posts, so that they might secure the sloppy coup that failed last time.
Then there`s ongoing redistricting, which both parties have used, but is particularly acute in several red states, according to "The Washington Post," and then, of course, the ongoing wild lies that, even though Joe Biden won, which is the fact, there`s a lot of talk online and on the right about other things that I`m not going to repeat, because this is the news and they`re false.
Then you have, numerically, the most influential, most watched right-wing voice on television, Tucker Carlson. He`s now under fire from his own colleagues, to say nothing of all the fact-checkers, for lying about who carried out the insurrection.
I`m not going to go into the lies in depth, because, again, this is the news, but he has a whole special report they`re pushing that darkly insinuates it was some kind of false flag operation, which it wasn`t.
But think about this. Tucker Carlson`s lie is also a guilty kind of tell, because even the most hardcore MAGA defenders are finding it is politically and logically easier to blame that criminal insurrection on someone else or insinuate it with someone else, rather than defend the MAGA faithful who carried it out, because it was that bad, because it looks that bad, even with all of the partisanship around it.
We are witnessing the mainlining of the 1/6 truthers. Let me repeat that. You may recall the 9/11 truthers, who were far more fringe. We now have 1/6 truthers. And they are pushing themselves up the media chain and into the mainstream of the Republican Party.
And then consider why this matters beyond just propaganda or one more post- Trump apocalyptic QAnon conspiracy. It`s notable because the new lie is cover for a broader lie that tries to justify what is an increasingly minority party`s attempt to strong-arm or even steal elections.
Now, they can read the writing on the wall in the Republican Party. When you look at the national races, not local, you see it right here, American voters usually back the Democrat for the White House. They have done it in seven of the last eight elections across a wide variety of choices, personalities, platforms, ideologies.
The fact is, only in 2004 did more Americans actually choose the Republican candidate. In other words, in this recent era, over decades, Republicans tend to lose national races when people vote.
Now, consider this statement about all of this -- quote -- "There were levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again."
Just think about that statement. Republicans can`t win when people vote. And that`s not someone criticizing. That`s not some anti-Republican claim. That was, of course, as you see here, Donald Trump admitting how it works. He understood exactly why the policy, and, in his case, what is now under investigation as a criminal plot, the scheme, was to stay in power, while losing the election, without getting the votes.
Now, voter suppression tactics are hardly new across America.
Obama campaign veteran and friend of THE BEAT Chai Komanduri says, you go back to the founding of the country, of course, it was only white male landowners who were envisioned as voting. Then you had Jim Crow and a lot of other racism. You only had women`s suffrage in the modern era.
But what we see now is different from just enfranchisement and a debate over that. It is a party that hasn`t adjusted to actually winning elections on a regular basis in the national sphere. Komanduri writes that Republicans are convinced they need something akin to those kind of earlier limitations to win elections.
Now, there are plenty of times when Republicans do win races. And, again, we`re talking about the big enchilada, the White House, the power. At the local level, there are Republicans who obviously have fair-and-square victories, or you had a recent election statewide in Virginia. You have a South that has a lot of Republicans. You just don`t have the national support.
In fact, Virginia, to be fair, because I always want to show you everything, they had access to the polls that NPR called unprecedented in that race that Republicans won.
But now we are seeing the right-wing truther brigade really mesh with elected and leading Republicans. They are embracing the MAGA playbook, which is the Trump playbook, which openly talked about a coup.
Take Ted Cruz, who recently got fact-checked while pushing these similar election lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Democrats and a lot of the press decided to just engage in incendiary rhetoric, rather than acknowledge voter fraud is real, it is a problem.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS: Well, do you have -- I want to...
CRUZ: And the allegations of voter fraud needed to be examined on the merits.
BRENNAN: OK, Senator, there is no evidence of fraud that would have really drawn the outcome of the election into doubt. You know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He does know that.
But just as the lying as a political defense of January 6, these lies about voter fraud are also a shield for even uglier efforts that may ultimately prove criminal, like that voter suppression or installing people to potentially steal elections.
The headlines on your screen are what`s happening now for future elections. And it`s not because of voter fraud.
What do you do about it? Obama campaign veteran Chai Komanduri, who I just quoted, is here when we`re back in just 60 seconds.
MELBER: As Republicans try to install new loyalists in the positions that oversee future elections, we have our deep dive conversation night.
It`s a special day here on THE BEAT. If you have seen the program, you may know it`s called, simply and logically, "Chai Day." We believe in truth in advertising. And the truth is, Chai is really here, political strategist Chai Komanduri, a veteran of three presidential campaigns, including the Obama campaign.
Welcome back, sir.
CHAI KOMANDURI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to be back, Ari.
MELBER: It would be understandable and even easy for people who even slightly follow politics and news over the last few years to say, OK, Chai, there`s a lot of lies, and maybe there`s more lies on the right. But isn`t that an issue of rhetoric?
Why do you argue, as I just walked through, that this is about something much more fundamental?
KOMANDURI: Oh, this is really about overturning our democracy, and engaging in a program of democratic backsliding that we have seen in many other countries. We have seen this in Turkey. We have seen this in Russia, very obviously. We have seen this in Hungary. We have seen this in Poland. We have seen this in India, et cetera.
And the first thing I think we should say at the outset is that Republicans, contrary to what Trump said, don`t actually need to do any of these things to win. In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin won with historic turnout and liberal Democratic voter laws.
In Virginia, they don`t have a voter I.D. law. They repealed that. In Virginia, they have -- Election Day is a state holiday. In Virginia, they have under -- they have no-excuse -- I mean, you don`t need an excuse to get an absentee ballot.
In Virginia, you get -- they have Motor Voter, so automatic voter registration with a driver`s license. Glenn Youngkin still won that. However, Glenn Youngkin isn`t good enough for today`s GOP. Their goal is to get Trumpists and ultimately Trump himself elected and into power.
Glenn Youngkin, even though he played footsie with Trump, I think engaged in some real demagoguery on the CRT issue, but his moderate persona, his Mitt Romney guise isn`t enough for today`s GOP. They need to make sure the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world and Matt Gaetzes of the world can win.
And, ultimately, they need to make sure that Donald Trump wins in 2024, or, if necessary, that they can overturn a lawful election to get him elected.
So I think those are some of the things that are really going on. But I also think, very importantly, there is a cultural stream here in the GOP that is worth paying attention to, which is that Republicans are increasingly comfortable with the idea of winning by being a minority.
They are comfortable with minority rule. And that goes very deep into our country`s history. Obviously, with the Electoral College, the way the Senate is set up, the way the House is set up, you can win with a minority of the popular vote. Obviously, you can win with a minority of the popular vote. Why can`t you just win with a minority the popular vote in, say, Georgia? It`s kind of a logical thing.
You look at something like Jim Crow, the historic -- a history of voter suppression that is a big part of our history. And then you also look at the fact that Republicans feel that they are the real America, even though they`re a minority, the white Christian male rural voter is the authentic American, and somebody like Barack Obama is really an impostor. He`s a foreigner, which is what Donald Trump, of course, claimed and came to power with.
So this is something, I think, that goes very strong and is very strongly rooted in GOP culture.
MELBER: Yes, your deconstruction of that is quite rigorous. And it speaks to some of the legal and structural ways that power has been justified over the course of American history, drawing in part on what is sometimes called Critical Race Theory, to look at what the limits of electoral power were allowed to be, what were considered valid losses and what, in the Reconstruction, the Post-14th Amendment and other examples, Jim Crow, were not.
And, by the way, Chai, I don`t know if this, but, in the news, Critical Race Theory is not banned. So you may draw on it or criticize it, because it`s the news.
That`s a deep cut political joke that most people, even though I can`t hear the audience, Chai, most people are not laughing.
MELBER: That`s just my gut sense.
But, in all seriousness, when you look at that structural analysis, what does that leave for the opposition to do? Because, as you know -- you worked on so many campaigns -- when one side says, the other side`s being unfair, we have to put our people in, whether that`s in the election, secretary of state office I just mentioned, or otherwise, the less attuned voter might go, OK, well, it just sounds like another one of those partisan fights, even though you just told us why it`s not.
KOMANDURI: Well, I mean, if you think about the way that Critical Race Theory was used in the election, the reason Glenn Youngkin used it was he wanted to make clear that Terry McAuliffe and the Democrats were linked in the minds of voters with African-Americans, that the Democratic Party was the party of African-Americans.
That was very much the racist dog whistle that he was sending with that issue. And that linkage, I think, was very, very powerful, because a lot of Republicans, a lot of voters really feel that what should really -- that the rights that should that we should pay attention to are those of white voters. White voters are considered to be the real Americans, the authentic Americans.
And you see this kind of in every single country where there has been democratic backsliding. There`s this idea of the authentic Polish people, the authentic Hungarian people, et cetera, that is constantly used by demagogues.
And what they say is, the things that you don`t like, those foreign influences, they don`t belong. Those people who don`t look like you, don`t speak like you, do not pray like you, they don`t belong.
And that`s kind of how democratic backsliding gets its start. It gets its start by playing on those sorts of cultural sort of hot button issues.
What Democrats have done effectively in the past, what Barack Obama, for example, did very effectively, is, he appealed to American patriotism. He said that he represents a new kind of America and a new kind of American in the 21st century. He very much linked himself, for example, with the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
You might remember, in 2008, the chants of "USA, USA" that were constantly a part of Obama rallies, this idea that Barack Obama is showing America the potential of what it is and what it can be, that was very powerful. And I think that really helped very strongly to push back on this cultural Trumpist narrative that the GOP has always been pushing in one form or another.
MELBER: I think it`s a great point.
I mean, viewers will know, as you were introduced, you worked with the Obama campaign. So you come from that perspective, but I think you make a fair point, particularly about that appeal, not necessarily to that warmed- over nostalgia of make America great again, but still America as a central feature in the appeal of the how great it can be.
And, really, there`s a lot of this that is both, as you diagnose racial, but also looks to the arc of history. And are you looking forward and figuring out how to do it together, or are you trying to restore some earlier period and deal with earlier grievances?
And the cycle of that combined with racism, religious, animus, as you say, and other things that we have seen in Europe is not necessarily something that most civilized people want to replicate.
We always think a little extra, so appreciate another "Chai Day," sir. Thanks for coming on.
KOMANDURI: Thank you.
Coming up here, I just was told in my ear we have new details about where Omicron has spread. It is wider than it was when we took over the hour. We will explain after the break.
Also, the heat on Steve Bannon. Maya Wiley is here right after this.
MELBER: News breaking on the Democratic variant this hour.
Just moments ago, officials have now announced five confirmed cases in New York state. That means that this variant is in more states now than it was when we first came on the air, four states across the U.S., if you`re counting -- you see them here -- New York just added.
This comes after officials said a person who tested positive for Omicron had attended an anime convention in New York City. We showed you some of that footage at the top of our broadcast. This was a large gathering with tens of thousands of people. And now we know this new variant was there and may have spread.
We will keep you updated on everything we learn about this, including further updates if we get news on the variant this hour.
Now, the other story we turn to and what I told you Maya Wiley is standing by for is the Justice Department hitting back on indicted Trump ally Steve Bannon.
The DOJ says he`s basically trying to turn the entire case, which is a criminal proceeding and ultimately leads to a trial, into some sort of media spectacle. And they`re pushing back on efforts to release documents related to the investigation. Prosecutors say that, basically, what they`re concerned about is that Bannon could, by pushing out selective material, do witness tampering.
Now, Bannon is still out there doing what got him investigated in the first place, including making false election claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: There`s, I think, big corruption, I think, in Pima.
people are looking and saying, hey, you`re almost going to go back now into sessions. So you`re beyond a special session. And it looks like the Senate is not going to move to decertify this. So aren`t they going to lose -- are aren`t people going to lose faith that, even after you do a forensic audit, that there`s no ability to actually write the wrong?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re joined now by former SDNY civil prosecutor Maya Wiley.
Bannon clearly has goals outside the courtroom. How do you think this all plays inside the courtroom?
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Ari, it was really interesting reading the government`s brief to the court, because what I read was something that may really anger the judge, which is not the thing you want to do if you`re sitting in Steve Bannon`s shoes, because what they`re saying is, hey, Judge, if you remember, we just had a conference with you.
We had already given Bannon`s attorneys a couple of chances to tell us what they thought a fair protective order would look like. Didn`t do it. We gave them a second chance, kept saying and said to you, court, that they thought we`d be able to work something out. Next thing we know, this is where we are.
I mean, that does not suggest a good-faith effort to come to a reasonable agreement. So, it does sound like something that may backfire on them with the judge. I don`t know the judge. And each judge is different.
But it`s not a good look if it`s true. And given the brief, it sounds true because they`re pointing to actual transcripts and a record of a pretrial conference.
WILEY: So, it`s very hard for me to read that document and those facts.
Now, what a judge absolutely could say is, look, I`m not going to give you this protective order in the way that you want it, but I`m also not going to allow any inappropriate material to be made public.
So I think we have to wait and see, because I don`t know how the judge is going to respond. But I just want people to understand the government`s brief has some really important strong points in it.
And before I lose you tonight, the other development is, the House looks close to going after another Trump official the way they went after Bannon for defiance. If there is a contempt vote there, do you think the DOJ will indict the way they did with Bannon? Or is it trickier because that official was at DOJ as well?
WILEY: Well, it`s not trickier because he was at DOJ, per se, because he was not a direct adviser to the president. There`s not a strong executive privilege claim here.
But if he asserts the Fifth -- and I think what we heard Congressman Bennie Thompson say is, we`re going to have him come in on Saturday. We`re going to let him assert the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, if that`s what he wants to do, question by question.
So the question is, is he asserting it and in a reasonable way to try to -- not to incriminate himself? Or is it just a blanket effort to create a new way to delay the proceeding? If that`s the case, then they will have a record they can take to the Department of Justice and ask for...
Maya Wiley on both aspects on that, thank you very much.
Let me tell folks what we have coming up, because it is going to be a Wu- Tang kind of day on THE BEAT, a special guest on Obama, justice, and hip- hop.
But, first, the disturbing video you see on your screen, this is an important story about a police officer fatally shooting a man in a wheelchair nine times. We have that for you coming up.
MELBER: Turning to a disturbing story out of Arizona.
A police officer shot a man in a wheelchair nine times, killing him. This was caught on tape. Arizona police say they intend to fire Officer Ryan Remington, who shot the man in the wheelchair in the back and on the side. This was Monday night, the victim, 61-year-old Richard Lee Richards.
Police say that he was suspected of stealing a toolbox from Walmart and then flashing a knife when confronted by employees there. Now, the officer`s bodycam footage shows some of the shooting. The captions are what was added, we should note, by police.
And a warning. The excerpt is disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to stop.
He`s got his knife in his other hand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not go to the store, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop now. You need to...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The footage is legally suspect because it seems to show such a quick escalation of force.
And while we note the police say the individual was armed, it`s not clear where the lethal threat would be. Prosecutors now launching an investigation, the mayor saying already it is flat-out -- quote -- "indefensible."
As for the officer`s perspective, Remington`s attorney has said that his client in that situation had -- quote -- "no non-lethal options. Remington did have a Taser, but he couldn`t use it because he didn`t feel he had the proper spread to deploy it with the wheelchair between him and Richards," says the lawyer.
Now, experts say and common sense dictates that an individual in a wheelchair does not create, as the lawyer argues, an additional reason to use deadly force.
It remains under investigation. And we will keep you updated on the story.
Now, still to comment is something I mentioned earlier in the hour, and it`s something we`re excited about, a very special guest. We`re talking Obama, culture, police reform and much more.
MELBER: Welcome back.
You can gauge a society by its wealth or equality or its politics, but also by its culture. That`s why so many people care about which cultural figures get celebrated. Take the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which just aired on HBO and had new inductees like Tina Turner, Carole King, and Jay-Z, who was introduced by Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have turned to Jay- Z`s words that different points in my life, whether I was brushing dirt off my shoulder on the campaign trail or sampling his lyrics on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Today, Jay-Z is one of the most renowned artists in history and an embodiment of the American dream, a dream he has helped make real for other young people like him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Obama`s hip-hop link, by the way, was mutual. While Bill Clinton went "Arsenio," that was outreach. But, for Obama, many artists stepped up for him before he had power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY-Z, MUSICIAN: Obama`s running, so we all can fly.
SNOOP DOGG, MUSICIAN: I`m voting for Barack Obama.
WILL SMITH, ACTOR: My wife and I support Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Wu-Tang Clan`s Raekwon backed Obama in 2008, citing his links to the community and change.
Raekwon is back in the news now, as Wu-Tang`s debut album hits an anniversary. The Staten Island rap group sold over 40 million albums worldwide and he was integral to it from the start, plus many solo projects, including the platinum classic "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx," which debuted at number four on the Billboard charts. It`s also on "Rolling Stone"`s list of the greatest albums of all time.
And as these lists and Hall of Fame moments pile up, it is a reminder that a once young art form is now at a different stage, with time for reflection. And that`s what Raekwon is doing in his new memoir, "From Staircase to Stage: The Story of Raekwon and Wu-Tang Clan."
MELBER: And now, if I may, say live as a red Jag, a Louis bag, our special guest is Raekwon.
Honored to have you, sir.
RAEKWON, MUSICIAN: Thanks for having me, Ari. How you doing?
MELBER: One of your New York contemporaries, Jay-Z, going into the Hall of Fame with Obama having his back, what does that mean to you as you reflect on just how far hip-hop`s come?
RAEKWON: Oh, man, it`s a beautiful thing, man. I`m so proud of Jay-Z and everything that he`s been doing.
I tell people all the time this was a dream for all of us to be able to use our voice and what we learned and experiences of being in the streets to just doing what we love to do and making it -- making a statement out of it.
So I`m proud to see one of my brothers, my peers inside the game reach that pinnacle, because we always felt that we had it in us, but we needed to just find our lane. And I think that hip-hop itself is that lane for us to really express ourselves and look what`s going on.
Now we have accomplished what we always wanted to.
MELBER: That`s such a great word, Raekwon, pinnacle, and what it takes to get there.
What Wu-Tang documented is a society that is imperfect in so many ways and where people started with less and then still, as you say, got to the pinnacle.
I want to read briefly about from the book how you write about the collaboration, you, RZA, who, of course, was a big visionary for this group and others.
And you write your goals and motivations evolved as you got older. But the camaraderie, you say, was always present. "It was always based in hip-hop. It was freestyling in the staircases of the project buildings or out front on the street. Now I was writing rhymes and dropping bars with purpose, which was a whole new world."
Tell us about that, as you document in the book, going from something that was almost just natural, because it was community, and then evolving into saying, whoa, you got a microphone here, you got a following.
I mean, I tell people all the time hip-hop was always fun. It was always about expression, style, charisma, cadence, energy on the mic. And we started in the staircase, of course, just having fun, and just wanting to emulate some of the great singers of our times.
And, as we reflected on what they were going through, we wanted to -- we wanted to figure out a way to put our music in that same category. So that`s what I wanted to do with this book is just kind of take people down memory lane to be able to make them understand, yes, you hear the rhymes? Now see how the resemblance of the lifestyle reflects it.
And that`s what we were doing.
RAEKWON: That`s the type of picture we was trying to paint.
MELBER: I want to play a little bit of something we have, and I aired this on THE BEAT once. But this is the first time you have been on here with us. So that`s exciting.
We looked at how hip-hop, Wu-Tang and other groups were telling America about what police were doing and what the experience was, personally as reality and in song, and for so long, people didn`t want to hear it or even didn`t believe that truth.
So for your reaction the other side -- and you have a whole book looking at this history -- here`s some of that musical factual history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next thing I know, I look back. I see like three cop cars. They`re radioing in for backup. They got shotguns and stuff pointed at us.
They got us on the concrete with our faces down on this hot concrete.
RZA, MUSICIAN: And made us realize that all that gold record and all that whatever, whatever, it don`t really save you from the brutality or from the subjects you got to go through out here. You know what I`m saying?
CHERRY JONES, MOTHER OF RUSSELL JONES: I gave him a cell phone for Christmas, and they thought it was a gun.
QUESTION: What`s it like as a mother and see all this?
JONES: Well, I`m used to it. I`m used to it by now.
And all I do is, I pray.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was your bandmates talking about police treatment, and ODB, of course, may he rest in peace there with his mother, when he was falsely accused and arrested in charges that were cleared, as you know. Viewers may not.
What do you see as important here in the stories you were able to tell, and now maybe some of America finally catching up to the fact that there is a police brutality problem in this country?
RAEKWON: You have to say to yourself, the poor parts is always going to be dealt with a certain kind of way.
So we have been dealing with it for so long that, is it fair? No, it`s not fair. It`s like judging a book by its cover. And that`s just what we deal with in these urban communities.
The best thing I can say is that we just have to be able to communicate with the justice system and our communities a little bit better.
MELBER: I want to thank Raekwon for your first debut on THE BEAT. And I`m going to put it up on the screen, so people see, the new memoir, "From Staircase to Stage: The Story of Raekwon and Wu-Tang Clan." Get it wherever you get your books.
Thank you, sir.
RAEKWON: Thank you, Ari. Thank you. Appreciate it.
MELBER: And we appreciate Raekwon.
You can also find all of this online @AriMelber, where we have posted more about the Wu-Tang interview.
Now, I want to say one more thing here. This period from Thanksgiving to the new year can be quite a special time. Many Americans share recipes or traditions on social media or even TikTok.
And after some delay, tonight, we can report for you THE BEAT is joining the TikTok craze, including the new video you see on your screen. This is fresh from my family`s Thanksgiving, where my brother and I mused on the cappuccino skills that we got from our dad.
The key is keeping it dry, or you end up with a latte. And my dad, who just turned 78, by the way -- happy birthday, dad -- did a very brief cameo.
Now, despite working in the news, I don`t have any TikTok followers, to be honest. Like, I`m hurting out here. So, if you guys want to join in the craze, because people and families are doing it, you can find me on TikTok @AriMelberAnchorman.
Again, it`s the real Ari. It`s the real BEAT. It`s @AriMelberAnchorman. You can remember that because it`s my name and I`m an anchorman. And if you follow me, I promise I will not post dance videos. I will share some fun stuff, some items on news or civil rights.
You can come for the family coffee tips and stay for the unpredictable TikTok experiments @AriMelberAnchorman.
That does it for me. Long live TikTok and the news.
"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" starts right now.