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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 12/3

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Libby Casey, Rochelle Walensky, John Flannery, Roy Wood Junior


New variant reviving debates over safety measures as U.S. strengthening calls for boosters in response to Omicron. The CDC director on COVID in the United States and on monitoring the new variant that`s spreading in the U.S. The Republican Senate minority leader on telling fellow Republicans they can go negative in the midterms without own agenda. Riot investigators said former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has no executive privilege.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes during these extraordinary times. We`re so grateful. Hug your loved ones extra tight after the week that was. OK?

THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts now. Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Have a great weekend and thank you very much.

WALLACE: Thank you. You too.

MELBER: Welcome to THE BEAT. Absolutely. I am Ari Melber and we are tracking a lot of serious stories with some major guests coming up.

Let me tell you first, Trump`s chief of staff has a huge problem with claims for privilege in the riot probe. Why is Matt Gaetz hanging out with Steve Bannon? Is it because they both have plenty of legal strategy to hash out? We have that story later in the hour.

But we begin with the top story, the coronavirus pandemic, Delta surging across America and an Omicron variant now spreading in multiple American states. The variant has been confirmed in a total of six states. You see them here. Health officials view community spread as inevitable in many dense places. And today the president urges patience plus resilience to defeat another round of this virus.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we`ve got to beat it back before we shut it down. Look, it`s going to take time worldwide. In order to beat COVID, we have to shut it down worldwide.


MELBER: Worldwide means, well, at least 40 countries and counting. You can see on this map just how fast this thing is spreading. And the first scientific data is coming out of South Africa that shows Omicron spreads twice as quickly as the Delta variant. It is not yet the main problem in the United States, but boy, does it spread quickly in places that it`s hit. Preliminary studies show it`s three times more likely to cause reinfection.

And I want to tell you, this is the "Washington Post" headline about the study, this is some of the preliminary information, but at the scientific level this has not been peer-reviewed yet, and we do not know where vaccines fit into all of this. Dr. Fauci is discussing the timeline for when the scientific community will know more.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: OK, quickly, final question here, I know we don`t know enough about Omicron to say anything definitive in one way or another. We need more data. What is the timeline for knowing?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: My estimate, Chris, is that it`s probably going to be about two weeks, three weeks at the most, probably two weeks.


MELBER: Another quick race to more information. And momentarily we`re joined by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, live on THE BEAT to discuss all of this. But first, we begin our coverage tonight with Eugene Robinson of the "Washington Post," where he is a columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Libby Casey, political reporter for the "Washington Post."

Welcome to both of you. Libby, when we look at the president today as well as these officials, and I`m about to be joined by one, there`s a real emphasis here on taking this variant seriously while reminding people of the fact that it is not yet found to be deadly here in the U.S. and it is not everywhere yet. Does that policy message work, do you think, right now?

LIBBY CASEY, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, yesterday, 2.2 million shots were administered, Ari, including more than a million boosters. About half of those boosters. That`s the highest single day since May. So Omicron may be causing alarm for people but it also may be waking them up.

Now the message that you`ll hear in a moment from Dr. Walensky I`m sure as well as over here, and generally from the Biden administration is, fight Omicron, get vaccinated and boosted. But they`re focusing also on what Delta does. I mean, we have a lot of questions about Omicron but we have a lot of answers about the Delta variant. And so, you know, we`re hearing a message from officials saying, look, if we look at the data, we can access it from September, unvaccinated people in the United States had almost a 6 percent increased risk of getting COVID and 11 percent increased risk of hospitalization, and a 14 times risk of dying.

And so those are the statistics that the Biden administration is emphasizing, because that is information that we can all use to make decisions about getting a booster, getting those initial shots, and making the decision to get our kids vaccinated.

MELBER: Libby Casey, no surprise to longtime viewers, your data to sentence ratio is high, which provides facts in evidence for people to take this in, both in the very important and serious numbers about those threats that you just said, as well as, Eugene, Libby making the point here that yes, no one`s trying to reverse engineer fear in the populace, we`ve had enough over the last few years, but the in-your-face reality of another possible variant driving, as we were just told, the boosters to that level, is itself a separate concomitant benefit.


EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I mean, if it is indeed driving people to get boosters, and it seems to be. I was helping one of my sons, you know, arrange for his booster shot today. And, you know, a few weeks ago, there were appointments all over the place, you could just basically walk in, and now, you know, I got one for next Wednesday, but, I mean, it`s a few days.

And so that tells me that people are responding, as they should. That`s the best way to protect yourself, number one, against the Delta surge that`s still going on. Delta is incredibly transmissible, and we know how dangerous it is. And then Omicron, we don`t know whether it causes more severe illness, but it does seem, from an early, to be more transmissible. Those two things in combination may not be such an awful thing, but the bottom line is, if you`re vaccinated and boosted, you`re much, much safer than if you`re not.

MELBER: Yes. You lay that out, and that`s exactly what we`re going to get into with the CDC chief within this segment, in just a few moments, including what the CDC can tell us about Omicron as well as the primacy of Delta here.

Eugene, I also want to ask you about, you know, something that relates to Frank Sinatra. Hear me out. Gay Talese, the longtime magazine writer, "Esquire," "New York Times," had an iconic piece that many writers know, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold." Fact check true, he did have a cold during the writing of that article. And Joe Biden has a cold, and none other than FOX News White House correspondent went out of their way to say, are you OK?

And everybody who`s ever had, you know, certain kind of auld acquaintances knows, are you OK can be earnest, and mean, are you OK, and then there`s people who say, are you OK, and they`re kind of messing with you. Viewers here, they`ll make up their own minds about what FOX was getting at here but here was the moment in the room.


PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: First of all, Mr. President, your voice sounds a little different, are you OK?

BIDEN: I`m OK, I have a test every day, a COVID test, they check for all the strains. What I have is a 1 1/2-year-old grandson who had a cold who likes to kiss his pop. And he`s been kissing -- anyway, so, but it`s just a cold.


MELBER: Are you OK? He says he`s OK and has a cold. Your thoughts on this very pandemic era moment, where a highly protected individual, we wish everyone health and safety including the president, but someone who has a little extra protection, testing, doctors, et cetera, having a cold, though, which is more noticeable now than it would have been four years ago.

ROBINSON: Look, we notice when anybody has a cold, right? You get on an elevator and somebody sneezes and you notice. So -- and it`s always legitimate to be concerned about the health of the president of the United States, especially our oldest president. That said, this was pretty clearly a sort of messing-with-you variety of are you OK, because I suspect the reporter had already been told that yes, the president has a cold, the president doesn`t have COVID. And so he probably already knew the answer to that question but put it very publicly in a messing-with-you way.

MELBER: Libby, what did you think of that moment?

CASEY: Well, you know, there are a lot of questions being asked right now about President Trump, former President Trump`s case of COVID a year ago, and so, you know, it just -- you build a track record, and you build a track record and a rapport with the press, and you build some reliability. So what we`re hearing from the White House is that this is a cold, that he`s tested regularly.

And I can`t help but compare it to sort of the obfuscation and confusion of a year ago, and what we`re learning about, you know, how former President Trump may have put multiple people in danger, including Joe Biden, due to his timeline of questionable COVID action. And as we heard from President Biden this week, he sort of pushed that aside and said he doesn`t think that much, you know, he doesn`t spend time basically thinking about President Trump, but you can`t help compare the two, Ari.

MELBER: Yes, I think that`s fair, and credibility is built over the record. And that interplay with the press and the public at large in an era now where more citizens can use some of the tools of the press, publishing and reacting. If someone is constantly misleading and lying to you, that may catch up with you over time.

Finally, Gene, what we have seen over the course of it this week is just a reinforcement that whatever happens, because we don`t do predictions, the pandemic era and the COVID era is not about to end immediately. So where do you see that going in our politics and going into the midterms where it seems that both the pandemic and related economic effects could really be defining issues?


ROBINSON: Right. And a lot of the -- look, the future success of the Biden administration, they`ve already had a lot of success, but the future success will depend largely on the situation with COVID and how people perceive the situation with COVID. And so, you know, my guess is that the Omicron wave, unless, and we can`t predict, unless it turns out to be deadlier in addition to being more transmissible, we might have learned something over the last couple of years about dealing and living with this virus.

And this could be the point at which we sort of realize that we`re going to be living with it and we`re going to have to adapt our ways of doing things in order to live with this virus. But that that`s possible. And again, hoping Omicron let`s that be possible. But I think that`s kind of where we`re headed. But, you know, ask me again in three months, and we`ll see where we are.

MELBER: I`ll tell you what, in three months, Eugene, I`ll ask you, are you OK, but I`ll mean it. And I`ll also ask you both. Go ahead.

ROBINSON: I`m OK, you`re OK.

MELBER: Hey. And I`ll ask you both where we are in three months. As you say, open minds, let the facts roll in. Great way to kick off a Friday night show, with, again, a lot coming up which is why now I say thank you, Eugene Robinson and Libby Casey, thank you both.

Joining me now is Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It`s a busy time. Thank you for joining us.


MELBER: Great to have you. Omicron here is in officially six states. Is it the CDC`s view that it is likely to go across the nation or it might still be contained and not end up everywhere?

WALENSKY: Good question. Yes, we have a new variant that is with us now in six states. The first thing I want to do is actually to back up and say that while we are watching Omicron carefully right now, that we have 86,000 cases a day right now in the United States and 99.99 percent of those are the Delta variant. So we already have a problem here right now with Delta. And we have all of the tools that we know about to attack Delta, and that includes vaccines, that includes boosters, masking in indoor settings.

But we are watching Omicron very carefully. As you noted, we`ve seen it in about six states. We have the tools to monitor for this. We may very well see more Omicron in more states in the days ahead. And we will be following the science as those data emerge from those states.

MELBER: Understood. Dr. Fauci is saying it`s too early to rule out certain policies. The president, though, is saying no lockdowns. Take a look.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Should we expect to be seeing more lockdowns again, new lockdowns, more mandates?

FAUCI: You know, I don`t know, George. It`s really too early to say. We just really need to -- as I`ve said so often, prepare for the worst.

BIDEN: Today I`m back to announce our action plan to battle COVID-19 this winter. It doesn`t include shutdowns or lockdowns.


MELBER: Can the CDC say with confidence that the president is right and there won`t be lockdowns?

WALENSKY: You know, here`s what I can tell you. We know that the current challenge that we have right now as we`re following what is occurring with the Omicron variant is the Delta variant. And we know that if we scale up our vaccinations and scale up our boosters, we can tackle the Delta variant. We know that about 80 percent of our counties have substantial or high transmission, and the CDC has been recommending indoor masking in public spaces in all of those counties.

So we have these recommendations to tackle the Delta variant where we are right now. And we would encourage following those recommendations and policies at the local level to do so, to tackle the biggest challenge we have in the moment.

MELBER: And the reporting is that early indications show Omicron is spreading twice as fast as Delta. Is that the CDC`s view? Is that right? And are you comfortable sort of being in this policy holding pattern for two weeks or more while we learn more?

WALENSKY: You know, I think we have to do all of the prevention activities that we know have worked for all of the SARS-Cov-2 variants that we`ve had to date and we have to follow the science. And it`s going to take some time for that science to emerge. And we are going to be prepared. We continue to be prepared. We have seen mutations in the Omicron variant that suggest that it is more transmissible. We have seen a rapid rise of cases in areas that have had more Omicron, that is, South Africa.


And so we are preparing for a virus that might be more transmissible. And that includes all of the activities that we`ve just talked about, including all the prevention measures, vaccines and boosting.

MELBER: And you have repeatedly emphasized Delta, and the facts do bear out that that`s the main thing getting people sick and killing people, especially the unvaccinated. Given the rate of vaccination in the United States, and the indications that there are large groups holding out, delaying or choosing not to get vaccinated, is the CDC`s view and is its level of planning right now that this will not really be eradicated, that we will have to deal with COVID and its mutations over really the multi- year-long term?

WALENSKY: You know, I think that we have seen now that this is likely to become an endemic disease here in the United States, and really around the world. We have many diseases that are endemic. Influenza being one of them. That cause us minor challenges year after year, and that we can handle and tackle. And that may very well be what happens with COVID. But I think you raise a really important point.

We still now know, even our most recent data, that you are six times more likely to get infected, 11 times more likely to get hospitalized, and 14 times more likely to die of COVID if you are unvaccinated. And so as public health official for the country, one of the things I really want to do is optimize America`s health. And I do that by getting more and more people vaccinated.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, I think, as you say, the data bears it out, people will make up their own minds about what to do with their lives and bodies but a great way to mistake alive and not die, according to the data, is to get vaccinated.

So I appreciate your focus on all of that. I did want to ask you about how the CDC`s guidance has changed or some people say, really backtracked over time. I`ll let you put it in your own words. But let`s look over recent history here. In May, the CDC, which you run, said the vaccinated population does not need to wear a mask or do physical distancing indoors because the vaccines were proving effective at reducing severe illness.

In July, that changed to saying the vaccinated actually should wear masks to prevent Delta. I guess the question to you is, did the facts change from May? Or how do you account for those shifts? And in the spirit of the scientific method, could the CDC be doing or communicating this better?

WALENSKY: Yes, you know what, Ari, I`m really glad you asked this question, because in fact the facts did change and the science did change. The predominant variant that we had in May was the Alpha variant. And that was a variant that we saw when there was vaccine breakthrough, if there was vaccine breakthrough, that it was not transmissible. Remember, the Alpha variant was a much less transmissible variant.

So fast forward to what we were seeing at the end of June, early July, the beginning of the Delta surge. And data were just emerging that demonstrated with Delta a much more transmissible variant, that those vaccine breakthroughs were turning out to be able to transmit to other people. It was absolutely new science, and it was important for us, you rely on us to follow that science and change our guidance in response to that science, and that is exactly what we did.

MELBER: As you know, the agency which you run has come under criticism for that, people saying, oh, they changed around, they went backwards. To boil down your response, which I understand is nuanced and scientific, are you saying the guidance didn`t really change, it was the nature of COVID in the United States that changed?

WALENSKY: And the nature of the variant. That is absolutely true. We were dealing with a different variant that had different characteristics. And we needed to change our guidance to update it to the science that was available at the time.

MELBER: Understood. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, on a very busy week, walking us through both what we`ve learned about the variant but also as you emphasized the data showing that COVID, the Delta COVID is still really what is the biggest threat right now numerically.

Thank you for being here.

WALENSKY: So glad to be with you, thanks for having me.

MELBER: And we have a lot more coming up. Mitch McConnell admits Republicans are not even going to run on ideas. That`s what they`re saying. We`ll explain.

And a large problem for Trump`s top aide on executive privilege claims.

Plus later tonight, we end the week in style. Hallie Jackson is here along with the "Daily Show`s" Roy Wood, Jr. Stay with us.



MELBER: In 2020, voters ejected Republicans from most federal positions of power, booting Donald Trump, booting Mitch McConnell in a special election when that was really the focus, and of course keeping the House in Democratic control. Republicans think they might have a better shot in these midterms. But now they`re saying they want to come back to power without telling people what they stand for. And I don`t mean that rhetorically. I`m reporting literally on news out of Washington.

Mitch McConnell says they won`t release a legislative agenda going into the midterms. There are Republican donors and operators arguing the party should release a positive proactive governing outline Axios reports but McConnell adamantly rejects this idea. He is rejecting the idea of having ideas or, if you want to be technical, of telling people what their ideas are.

Now just a year ago, under Trump, the Republicans broke with a long- standing tradition in all recent American politics across both parties which was to just not even put out a party platform at the convention. In fact when they checked, that hadn`t happened in over 150 years. The mood then was it was whatever Trump wanted. But Trump`s not going to be on the ballot in the midterms.

Indeed, sometimes it`s Republicans and conservatives who say that some in the Democratic Party are fixating on Trump and trying to make it all about him and they want to run on their own version of Republicanism. Now they won`t say what it is. Now it used to be said as well in Congress that some Republicans were focused on policy.


They would insist in the Trump era that they had their own agenda and they weren`t going to be distracted by something other than their policies like Donald Trump`s scandals or tweets.


SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): If you`re focused on the tweets and not focused on actually accomplishing what people are looking to have happened for them and their family, you know, I think you are getting out of touch with the American people.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): There are a lot more important issues in front of the United States Congress and the American people than who tweets what to whom.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): I`m more worried about the country itself than I do about what President Trump tweets.


MELBER: What does it mean when a political party literally won`t say what it stands for, and when that party has also been spending more time trolling and telling you, hey, we need to focus on the issues not Trump`s tweets, then Trump and his tweets goes away, I mean, he was banned on Twitter, and they say, we`re not going to tell you where we stand on the issues, that`s our midterms plan.

What choice does that leave voters? Well, we`re going to get into it with Liz Plank after our shortest break. We`re back in just 60 seconds.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration. 100 percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration.


MELBER: Mitch McConnell laying out how his entire, he said 100 percent, focus is just opposite day of whatever Biden is doing. Now the report is, officially even bucking what some Republicans are asking him. No legislative agenda as they go into the midterms. I`m joined by MSNBC columnist, author, and co-host of the "Man Enough" podcast, Liz Plank.

Happy Friday, Liz.

LIZ PLANK, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Thank you, you too, Ari.

MELBER: I don`t like to caricature things. There`s more gray and nuance in the world. Caricatures aren`t always right. It sounds like a caricature to say Mitch McConnell won`t present any ideas and his whole message will be he`s against whatever Biden`s for. But in this case, that`s not the caricature, that`s what they plan to run on.

PLANK: Yes, it`s pretty astounding. But you know what they say, you can`t really break a promise if you never made it in the first place, right? So you can`t break the agenda if you didn`t make it, or really set it. So it might be a very smart strategy on their part. And as you mentioned -- I mean, smart, diabolical and maniacal as well, but as you mentioned, you know, in 2020, the platform, the Republican -- the plank that they presented was what they presented in 2016.

And this actually angered even conservatives. There were social conservatives, people who are more moderate, who wanted changes to the language around gender or the language around abortion and what they were, you know, confounded with is a party that didn`t want to even, you know, make any kind of amendments. Right?

So it is surprising, but it`s consistent with this party. What did Donald Trump run on in 2016 or even 2020? I remember being with you after the RNC and trying to piece together what the Republican National Convention was really about.

MELBER: What`s it about?

PLANK: Yes, it was pretty chaotic. It was about maybe like being super spreaders or pretending COVID didn`t exist, right, some rants that were really hard to decipher. So it`s kind of not surprising. I mean, it didn`t work in 2020. But this is what Mitch McConnell thinks is going to work for the midterms.

MELBER: Yes, you said they don`t have a plank. No pun intended, I assume.

PLANK: I have nothing to do with the Republican Party, yes.

MELBER: It`s not related to you. It`s like when they say "no relation," you know.


MELBER: But no plank, no platform. Again, there was a big question. And I want to be as fair as question. There was a question during the Trump era of the party over whether that was overtaking the party in ways that obscured other things.


As we emphasized here, the facts now are, this will be the first race without him on the ballot. It is a chance to put out the ideas they claim they were for. And so it is a tell that there is not even a pretense of doing this. It`s not like McConnell said, look, maybe not right now but we`re going to give some issues. He`s just saying no, according to Axios on the issues. Then there goes to -- then there`s the issue of the environment we`re in, because Joe Biden is presiding over an economic rebound in some ways.

The jobs growth is better, the stimulus spending is out there. But there are a lot of problems, including inflation, including what I was just discussing with the CDC chief about the risks with COVID. And so it may be that America looks like it`s in a rough place going into next fall, I think that`s entirely possible. And that goes to what some Republicans have been caught saying not on the record, which is just maybe root for chaos and do nothing.

Here is Republican congressman -- this was a leaked video. Take a listen.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I don`t vote for anything in the House of Representatives right now. 18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done, that`s what we want.


MELBER: Chaos, that`s what they want.

PLANK: Yes, and it`s always been a party that is very focused on what they`re against but not really what they`re for. And we`re seeing it even encapsulated in the abortion debate that we`re seeing unfold, obviously front and center this week, where it`s like, we`re against abortion. OK. So are you for preventing pregnancies? Are you for sex education? Are you for expansion of birth control? No. OK. Are you for -- if you want more mothers, are you for more parental leave and expansion of those programs so that more women can be mothers? No. Are you for extensions of child care if you want more children, right? No.

So it`s a party that`s very focused, again, on creating that chaos, right? Being very, very clear and deliberate about the image that`s being created that`s bad, but the mystical Republican dystopia, right, where there`s no abortion and that everything is great without any actual changes and solutions doesn`t exist.

MELBER: Yes, yes, I think a lot of that is on display and it`s sort of then out there for people to make up their minds about. But some of it is becoming just more and more front and center.

Liz Plank, always good to see you, thank you.

PLANK: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Coming up, we have reporting on the MAGA riot probe and why Trump`s top aide may have blown his own case.

Later, two MAGA allies team up while they`re both in considerable legal peril, one of them indicted. We will get into, yes, the Bannon-Gaetz show with a fact check and some sound you might want to hear.

And because it`s Friday, we try to bring you everything that`s going on. I want you to know, if you haven`t heard last night at the White House Christmas tree ceremony, you had a bunch of folks, the vice president, her husband there, and LL Cool J, including a quick, fun moment that we found on none other than Vice President Harris and on TikTok.


LL COOL J, RAPPER: What did Mama say?




MELBER: It didn`t look staged. It looks like she might know the words. That`s "Mama Said Knock You Out," shoutout to LL. Don`t call it a comeback and we are on TikTok now, too. This is social media news. THE BEAT on TikTok. Follow me at Arimelberanchorman. And we will be right back.



MELBER: The MAGA riot committee, the congressional probe, is taking on Trump`s number one aide during the insurrection, Mark Meadows. The chief of staff will have an initial deposition. Investigators saying his idea about invoking Trump`s executive privilege is going nowhere. One of the top investigators, Adam Schiff, says discussing the events of January 6th in his own book waives the privilege. The committee has interviewed now we`re learning over 250 people in witnesses. And that could become 251. Guiliani ally Bernie Kerik, investigators believe he was at insurrection headquarters.

That`s what the Willard Hotel became on January 5th. Well, according to scheduling we know that he was supposed to sit down with them today. I`m joined now by former federal prosecutor John Flannery, no stranger to the Giuliani world and congressional probes.

Happy Friday, thanks for being here.


MELBER: Executive privilege is a real thing.


MELBER: It can protect some information and be litigated. Here, as with so many other things, it has been expanded beyond a sort of a silly breaking point. And I`ll just show you Politico reporting on this, where Schiff and the investigators are saying, look, it`s very difficult for Mr. Meadows, having served in the White House, to maintain, quote, I can`t speak about events to you, but I can speak about them in my book, which by the way, of course, he profits off of. Your view of this.

FLANNERY: Well, my view is, I`m not concerned about his notion of executive privilege as much as I find that I agree almost uniformly with Representative Schiff. It`s not his privilege to assert. But worse than that, it`s not a privilege at all because it runs to the incumbent president, not to a former president. We have a court case that says that. I don`t remember if it`s 150 pages or something like that, but it was pretty, pretty thorough.

What I see, though, is the other things that Representative Schiff has mentioned. You know, when he`s getting paid he tells a story but he can`t talk to the congressional committee. I think he has no defense this way in talking about privilege. And what he wrote in his book, though, was to support the president. So I`m not sure where we can believe that, given contradictions in documents and information we have about what he did do and who he did contact and what happened to his cellphone during that period of time on January 6th.

I think what we have is, we have a -- the president`s defense is coming apart. It`s a mishigas that nobody has really got a defense. We have three -- it`s sort of like Caesar, all goal is divided in three parts. We have three ways here. You can go to jail. Bannon`s choice. And we`ll see what happens in the court.


FLANNERY: Two, you can say executive privilege or I want it public, that`s the second way. And the third way is, Eastman and Clark saying, I`m going to take the Fifth.

MELBER: Yes. Well, let`s get in --


FLANNERY: Well, that`s the most legitimate. Yes.

MELBER: I want to ask you about the Fifth. And I appreciate that you went from Yiddish, mishigas to Caesar and back. You know, you`re the original. Hey.



FLANNERY: I`m a New Yorker. I`m a New Yorker.

MELBER: Yes. New York changes everything. But the third door is my final question for you. You got two people pleading the Fifth. Everyone knows from movies and "Law and Order," Fifth Amendment, OK. What do you think that says, and what -- you`ve done these kind of probes for Congress, what is the requirement incumbent upon them to justify that they actually may have been that close to a crime, because even if they have that right, and everyone does with certain limitations, that would mean, would it not, John, that people could infer that they think they or someone close to them did commit a crime during the insurrection?

FLANNERY: I think that`s the best formulation I`ve heard. Others have said, well, you know, they wouldn`t do that if they were innocent. I think what you have is a duel between Trump saying I want you to do A and good lawyers telling these two that I think you really should invoke the Fifth Amendment because you have reason to think, as Birnbaum said on behalf of Eastman I think in a letter he wrote yesterday, he says, you know, they`re talking about referrals to the Department of Justice. That`s prosecution.

And if we look at Sidney, I don`t want to get ahead of whatever you have in mind, but Sidney Powell is now under investigation in Texas and DC. And the local prosecutors prosecuting the Bannon case, Molly Gaston, she issued the subpoena in relation to what Sidney Powell was doing with the funds and so forth of this Defend America group that she had. And in Texas, apparently, they`re very upset that she`s made misrepresentations about who is on the board. She says there`s three people, and there`s only one, and they`re concerned about what they`ve done with the funds.

So we have the Bannon investigation. We have this other subpoena involving Sidney Powell. We have a Texas investigation. And it seems to me now it`s drifting toward a real prosecution. And that`s a significant change.


FLANNERY: And that`s why if I had a client.


FLANNERY: I`d be talking about the Fifth Amendment, not this other nonsense, not the mishigas.

MELBER: You know, John Flannery, not the mishigas, we consider you the jurist prudential and legal equivalent of a bowl of granola. Because there`s so much packed in there, it`s dense, it`s intellectually nutritious, and I feel like in two answers we learned a lot from you.

Good to see you, I wish you a good weekend, sir.

FLANNERY: You too, nice visiting with you. Take care.

MELBER: Yes, sir.

Coming up, the video I promised you. Matt Gaetz. Steve Bannon. Why? We`ll get into it. And later, you want to stay here, we`re having a special conversation getting into vaccines and truth. Hallie Jackson, our friend, is here, along with "The Daily Show`s" Roy Wood Jr.



MELBER: Two major MAGA figures with legal problems, well, they found some comfort today in each other`s company and then spent their time attacking fellow Republicans. Congressman Matt Gaetz, who has been fending off his involvement in a sex crimes probe, which already indicted a former ally, and then Trump White House veteran Steve Bannon who is currently under indictment and could face prison time, all related to stonewalling the insurrection probe.

Well, they met up on Bannon`s internet show where they actually blasted the GOP and people folding. Take a look.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: OK. We apologize for a little bit of technical problem, but thanks God we`ve got Congressman Matt Gaetz here to bail us out on Capitol Hill, the orgy spending continues, the Republicans folded last night. Want to go to Matt Gaetz.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We have to get to what happened last night and the Republicans folding.

BANNON: Why is it Mitch McConnell that bails out, every time bails out Joe Biden?

GAETZ: You always think that the Senate Republicans are going to stand and fight but isn`t it sad how few of them there are who actually will? I`m worried that if we took back the majority, we might not be worthy of it.


MELBER: He is worried. So many rhetorical questions, so little time. And actually what you`re looking at is angry, somewhat spurned Trump figures, they don`t get on FOX News that often anymore, making up their own media to attack Republicans. Also the kind of infighting that might affect some Republicans, particularly on the right, in the months to come.

We have an update on another story we want to bring you. And it is a legality that is a first of its kind. A criminal charge today relating to the parents of that 15-year-old suspect accused of fatally shooting four people at a Michigan high school this week. Now they are charged with involuntary manslaughter for giving their son the gun that was allegedly used to shoot and kill these innocent people.

Authorities this afternoon say the parents had gone missing and are considered fugitives. Their lawyers, however, say that they have not fled, that they left town simply for their own safety, thus arguing they`re not legal fugitives and they will return for arraignment.

This is a huge development at a time when many issues involving guns and violence are under legal scrutiny. The prosecutor today blaming the two parents for not doing what they viewed as possible to potentially stop that killing.


KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I expect parents and everyone to have humanity and to step in and stop a potential tragedy.


MELBER: The shooting was a tragedy. The legal case here is complex. We will keep you posted on where it goes and whether they track down the parents. According to what the lawyer said, that should happen soon.

We`re going to fit in a break. It has been a long week in so many ways but boy, do we have something special we want to share with you. A conversation on the larger issues we`re going through, on truth in the vaccine era, with our friend Hallie Jackson and "The Daily Show`s" Roy Wood Jr.



MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know that means it`s time to "Fall Back." You know what it is. We have a pair of amazing special guests. Comedian Roy Wood Jr., correspondent from the Emmy-winning "Daily Show with Trevor Noah." He has a new comedy special "Imperfect Messenger." It`s out on Comedy Central`s streaming platform. Some calling it the funniest comedy special of 2021, and that`s from none other than "The New Yorker," a pretty high brow.

And then we have our friend and colleague NBC senior Washington correspondent and anchor Hallie Jackson. She`s done that reporting you`ve seen on presidential campaigns and hosts her own show right here on MSNBC. You know what it is. 3:00 p.m. She also has a new show on our sister platform "News Now Weekdays" at 5:00 p.m.

Really a lot of real news and funny news from both of you. Thanks for doing this together.


HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: It`s the honor of a lifetime. Thank you.

MELBER: Hallie, I saw your news hands. You know how we do it on news. This is -- Roy, this is how you know it`s a serious point one or both hands in the camera.

JACKSON: This is how you know it`s a serious point. It`s called the -- it`s this one. That`s the local news vibe right there. Hot tip.

MELBER: Not to be confused with this one. OK? I don`t know if anybody knows what that is. We`ll get into that later.

WOOD: Yes. Yes.

MELBER: I`m going to start with Roy because he`s new. We`re going to get into your "Fall Backs." But first, how do you feel being on the news when usually you guys to great effect skewer it?

WOOD: This is nice. This is nice to be here and not have to wear a blazer. As you know "The Daily Show" is a very pro-blazer operation.


And so any time I`m able to come and just wear a regular sweater, I invite that opportunity. Like, this is the chance of a lifetime to come on a news show and not talk about anything serious. I`m glad that you called me on that before I got here.

JACKSON: Can I just --

MELBER: We did. Go ahead, Hallie.

JACKSON: Well, I have to fact check, Roy. Roy, that`s not a regular sweater. That`s a festive sweater. You look fabulous. You look ready for the holidays. I really love it.

WOOD: Yes --

JACKSON: It`s green.

WOOD: My girlfriend styles me, OK? It`s fine. I will accept the compliment.

MELBER: I got to say, I`m out of my lane but Hallie`s sartorial fact check feels right to me because even from here what I can see, I see a level of glimmer and sheen that suggests fancy sweater. With all that said, what`s on your "Fall Back" list, Roy?

WOOD: So I was out with the boy today and we`re running a coupler errands in the Midtown. And I want to, and speaking of festive, I want to be as respectful as possible when I say this, but do we still need real Christmas trees? And I know that you`re over there 30 Rock and you`re right beside the tree that we had to go and look at today and there is cardboard trees now. Like there are companies that are making like regular -- that`s what we need.

We need regular fake trees. And I`m not even -- I`m pro-environment, but even if you weren`t, justify just cutting a tree to decorate it and then throw it out on the curb next week. You can`t defend it.

MELBER: I think -- look, now I`m out of my lane again, Hallie, trying to talk Christmas. That`s not really my thing. But I hear the point that with all the breakthroughs we`ve had, could you have a joyous tree that looks green but is green because you`re not wasting tree.


WOOD: We have impossible burger meat.


MELBER: Hallie?

JACKSON: Here is the thing. I`m going to be a little vulnerable here. I`m going to unzip my skin and let you into my home because we`re a split decision in my household. Because I hear you. Roy, I hear what you`re saying. Ari, I hear what you`re saying. Those that I love dearest in my life feel strongly in a different way and I`ll just say. Listen, you know, the art of compromise. You have to work on that.

So point being, we do have a real Christmas tree this year, cut down, the whole nine yards, you know.

MELBER: Real tree. There it is.

JACKSON: I also, I will say, I don`t hate the cardboard tree. Come at me for that but I don`t hate it.

MELBER: Respect. Respect. All right, and Hallie, what`s on your list?

JACKSON: There is this guy in Italy who went to go get his first vaccine shot because, you know, Italy has this new green pass thing like you have to get the shot. You have to be vaccinated to go to bars and clubs and this, and this guy used a fake arm and here is why I feel personally offended by this because like, how dumb do you think the doctors and the nurses are? Like did you think they were just not going to notice? Right?

And this, and I say this and I mean this in a respectful way and truly objective. This, like, idiot person, right? Posted about it on Amazon and said I wonder if they`ll notice, I`m going to go do it and of course, you know, this poor nurse or doctor that gave it to him, said I`m insulted. Like I`m professionally insulted that you thought I wasn`t going to notice, that you had no veins in your silicon arm. Because he didn`t want to actually get the shot but he wanted to be able to go out.

So, by the way, it wasn`t cheap. Apparently there is reporting out there that NBC News has not confirmed that this fake arm might have cost him hundreds of euros. Like come on.

MELBER: Wow. Roy? Roy?

WOOD: I`m just shocked that this wasn`t how some of the NFL players have been skirting the vaccine mandate. Like when I read this, when I heard the story, I didn`t even know it was overseas. They said guy with fake arm and I`m like all right, let me guess the state. Let me --

JACKSON: I mean, listen --

WOOD: And I`m an Alabama native and I was like that sounds like us. I was relieved that it was overseas.

JACKSON: I feel like we are, you know, we`re talking about fake arms, it`s not -- Roy, to your point it`s not too far away from these accusations of fake vaccination cards as you know, you know, which is big news in the NFL right now.

MELBER: That`s big in the NFL.

WOOD: I will say this, I respect someone`s conviction to try so hard to not get something for free, for free, it`s not like they`re skirting a $10,000 injection charge. They just decided that no, I`m going to get a fake arm, I`m going to get a fake passport, I`m going to get a fake name, I`m going to take a picture of your thing and doctor it up. Like the level of dedication to just not listen to science is astounding to me.

MELBER: There you go. And Roy is a clear communicator. There the punch lines are serious. At least that one was. And we`ll give you the last word on it this week. I hope you come back, Roy Wood Jr. Hallie, all I`m going to say to you is thank you for being here.

JACKSON: I appreciate you. Thank you.

WOOD: This was an enjoyable segment, indeed.



MELBER: I feel like it`s not real but it is real.

That does it for THE BEAT. I wish everyone a greet weekend. "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid is on right now. So keep it locked right here on MSNBC. Hi, Joy.