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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 2/2/21

Guest: Juanita Tolliver, Adam Schiff, Erika Andiola, Jon Bon Jovi�


The Biden administration targets moves on immigration. Legendary rocker Jon Bon Jovi speaks out. Congressman Adam Schiff discusses the upcoming second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Republican infighting escalates, as Mitch McConnell has a warning for his own party. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reveals new and harrowing details about what she experienced inside the Capitol riot.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thanks so much.

And welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And we`re reporting on several developments tonight, President Biden issuing new orders on immigration, House Democrats filing their first brief in this looming Senate impeachment trial, making the case Trump betrayed the U.S. And impeachment veteran Adam Schiff joins us shortly.

And by the end of this hour, I can tell you, Jon Bon Jovi makes his THE BEAT debut. We will get into that. So, we have a lot tonight.

But we begin with breaking news out of the White House, President Biden using his executive power for three new big orders on immigration, showing he will do what he can alone, while pushing new reform in Congress as well.

The centerpiece today is reversing Donald Trump`s approach to immigration, launching a process for reuniting around 600 migrant children in the U.S. who remain separated from their parents under Donald Trump`s hard-line policies.

Biden ordering the federal government to do a top-to-bottom breakdown of immigration policies and finding ways to root out measures that Biden`s team says under Trump were cruel, inhumane, or just not working.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not making new law. I`m eliminating bad policy. What I`m doing is taking on the issues that -- 99 percent of them, that the president, the last president of the United States, issued executive orders I thought were very counterproductive to our security, counterproductive to who we are as a country.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We want to put in place an immigration process here that can -- that is humane, that is moral. That`s going to take some time. It`s not going to happen overnight.


MELBER: A moral policy, they say, pursuing an ethical approach to immigration with a timeline.

Now, the administration says it`s stopping the border wall. It`s canceling that Middle Eastern travel ban. We knew about that. It`s also trying to repair this damage they say has been done to families by the previous administration, including the treatment of children that many experts view as an ongoing human rights abuse done in the name of the United States.

Now, these are first steps. They also struggle against a harsh reality, that immigration is still one of the most complex areas of law and policy. Every move impacts people and foreign policy of multiple countries. And it`s hard to do anything cohesive without the Congress.

Take one large problem that has faced administrations in both parties, and, by the way, is not just about Trumpism. I`m talking about the handling of asylum seekers from Central America. This goes back to multiple administrations. It`s a tough problem. You can blame the countries that make it so hard for these people to live there, which is why they seek asylum, but blaming only gets you so far.

President Bush says that the goal here in these new policies that I`m off for you, one of the goals is to curb the extremes in approach that mandated some of those migrants wait in squalid camps in Mexico as they seek asylum, leaving their home countries in Central America.

But look at this tonight, "The New York Times" reporting the Biden order sets up a review that -- quote -- "will not immediately address the reality that many of those migrants, including children, have been waiting for months in dangerous conditions already."

That is just a tough part of the problem. And even apart from those humanitarian cases, let`s remember, as it`s immigration day in the Biden White House today, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States right now that are awaiting some kind of plan, when congressional Republicans have largely blocked efforts at comprehensive immigration reform.

That goes back as far as when President Bush was calling for it, which we will get into in a few minutes.

But these hurdles are a reminder that ending a construction of a failed, largely politically symbolic wall, or ending the use of immigration policy as a tool of alleged child abuse, while those are obviously steps, they don`t really address in a measurable way what is the majority of the people affected by the ongoing failure to have immigration comprehensive policy reform in the United States.

Now, to be fair, President Bush and his team are acknowledging many of the facts that I just reported to you. That`s why they`re also pushing a wider legislative plan. We have coverage on that momentarily. And they`re also touting change starting at the top, including something -- not only do you not see this every day, you have never seen it before -- the first Latino and first immigrant to run DHS and border enforcement to be sworn in today.

Joining us now is Erika Andiola from the immigration advocacy group RAICES, also a veteran, we should mention, of the Sanders 2016 campaign and a DACA recipient herself, and Juanita Tolliver, a Democratic strategist and analyst for us here on THE BEAT.

Good to be with both of you tonight kicking us off.

We will get to the legislative piece.

On the orders and the diagnosis I shared, Erika, your thoughts on all of the above?


I was expecting -- at the organization that I work with, RAICES, we were expecting there was going to be a lot more announced today. As far as the task force, look, that`s a great first step. We need to make sure that this passport is not just reunifying the families who were separated. We know there is more than 600 of them that we know of, but that they are reunited in the United States, right, that we`re not expecting for people to be back in the country that they left seeking asylum in the United States.

And also that we are ensuring that the families who remain separated because of deportations in the United States are also being taken care of, and that we have some ability for people who were separated because of zero tolerance to be in the United States with some sort of protection from deportation.

And at RAICES right now, we have a case of a young man right now who is in detention, was separated from his 9-year-old child. He was actually 6 years old in 2018. They were separated for two months, and his dad is now back in detention. And so -- and he is about to be deported again.

So, to us, it`s important that we look at this beyond just the reunification of the families that were mentioned. And that is a much bigger effort, also to end MPP and to end all of the Trump policies that right now have people waiting in Mexico and all the others being deported and detained.

MELBER: Juanita?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I think Erika hit the nail on the head, and by saying that this is a start.

But I think where the White House is falling short for advocates is really around the fact that there is no response or stopgap measures available to all the people who still need that comprehensive reform.

We saw in the proposal that Biden shared with Congress on Inauguration Day, it was sweeping reform that had a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented individuals. But what we don`t see in this moment is, OK, how are we providing restitution for the families who are separated?

How are we meeting the needs of the individuals who are waiting at the border right now for their asylum and refugee applications? How are we meeting their needs in real time? Because what we`re hearing out of the White House is those needs won`t be met until this review is done, which is months from now.

So, I think those assurances that advocates require right now are completely valid. I think the concerns are completely valid, and what they`re communicating to the White House in this moment is, you remember that proposal you send? Keep that same energy. We want sweeping proposals. We want sweeping responses and solutions to an overall system that needs to be overhauled.

MELBER: Right.

And I think anything that involves a federal review, you say, oh, that`s six months, that`s 12 months to then get action. Then you`re a year out from the midterms. There is an understandable desire to do a lot right away.

Our panel stays as we turn to the other thing I promised everyone, because the details do matter. A lot of lives hang in the balance, wider reforms that they`re pushing here legislatively.

The Biden administration has this new bill. And we just mentioned part of it. It would create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. And while this would be far more than the current limbo that they`re in, the proposal is not exactly easy. The path takes longer than most grad school, five years to get a green card to work, another three for them to become citizens.

It would also enable more visitors who are here and graduate from U.S. universities to stay. The new Biden bill tries to address some of this foreign crisis I mentioned, what makes this such a difficult issue no matter who is running the United States.

It would add some aid to countries in Central America where the local issues with poverty and violence are part of what drives people to flee, no matter how high the risks may look on the road through Mexico to the United States.

The bill doesn`t say exactly how much should be spent on new Border Patrol initiatives. It would also explore how DHS technology can do border enforcement.

Now, while the Trump administration has made many moves through executive power on this issue, it didn`t even try to pass any kind of immigration bill. That`s one of the many examples where the hard work involved apparently was a barrier that administration.

It`s a contrast, we should note, to the previous two administrations before Trump in both parties, where presidents tried to get a deal through Congress, although neither did.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a nation that values immigration and depends on immigration, we should have immigration laws that work and make us proud.

Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people, and Congress` failure to act on it is a disappointment.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s why I`m committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform as president of the United States.


OBAMA: Both parties wrote this legislation, but Republicans blocked it. The bill hasn`t really changed. The only thing that has changed apparently was the politics.


MELBER: Erika, you`re such an expert on this.

And we put that together to give everyone clarity that, while looking through our national politics at Washington in the Trump era was often like looking through a smashed window, and so you could see all these problems, you take that away, right, and you still have a recent history, for those who have lived through it, where Congress has basically said no to both parties.

Your view of why that is important for the Biden folks to find some other way, if they want to get breakthrough, because I will tell you, from a legal perspective, you can`t leave this kind of limbo, the 11 million and other things, for decades on end and expect anything good to come of it.

And I say that as a sort of nonideological observation.


No, you`re completely right. We have been promised by both parties for decades now, Ari, for decades, that there is going to be some sort of path to citizenship for people like myself, like my family, and many others in this country. And what is important for us is not just the details of the bill, but also how are they going to get it done, right?

And in this moment, to me, the fact that they`re trying to do all this bipartisan work with Republicans just tells me that there is going to be more -- honestly, a lot more delays on what can happen on immigration.

And so we`re really asking Democrats at this moment to keep that promise, right, and that Democrats can do it on their own. There is many ways for this to happen. And one of them is the reconciliation process, as an example, that we still have a lot to go through, right?

And we know that Senator Sanders is going to be the new Budget chair committee -- the chair of the committee. And him and many others in the leadership of the Democratic Party have the ability to ensure that there is protections for immigrants in these bills that can be passed without Republicans, right?

And so they need to keep their promise, and not just -- again, it`s not just about the details of the bill, which is the bill is very -- there is a lot of really great things in the bill that was sent to Congress, but also we need to see something actually happen and not just the promise again.

MELBER: All such important points.

I have got Congressman Adam Schiff standing by. So, I have to keep moving on one of these -- it`s that kind of news night.

But I want to thank Erika Andiola and Juanita Tolliver for kicking us off.

Let me tell everyone where we`re headed on the other big story, because the Trump trial prosecutors are now for the first time revealing what they say is the evidence that should merit the conviction of Donald Trump, and thus barring him from ever holding office again.

This is a brand-new brief. It states that Trump has responsibility for the January 6 insurrection, that it was -- quote -- "unmistakable and a betrayal of historic proportions."

It argues his actions threatened the lives of senior government officials. Some of those are, of course, Senate jurors. The impeachment managers add, the evidence is overwhelming. They say Trump is -- quote -- "responsible for inciting the riot, that he aimed a loaded cannon" -- quote, unquote -- at the Capitol.

Trump`s defense is leaving the door open to go back maybe to the big election lie. But there is also a procedural argument here. And you`re going hear more about this in the days ahead. You got hear both sides, as we always say, to understand a case.

Well, maybe because Trump`s lawyers don`t want to spend much time on what he said in those hours leading up to the violent attack, they instead want to talk about history and constitutional process. And they have every right to mount this kind of defense.

They are claiming the Senate cannot -- quote -- "remove from office a man who does not hold office."

This is false and misleading, given the way that impeachment has always worked. Indeed, you only bar people after they have been convicted and are out of office. House impeachment managers say -- quote -- "There is no January exception to impeachment" as a rebuttal to that procedural point.

The larger argument here is that Donald Trump was president, was commander in chief. The buck stops there, and that what he said or did or didn`t say or didn`t do, because it`s a trial, and he is entitled to his defense, but all of that matters. It doesn`t just stop because he was close to leaving office.

Impeachment managers are also previewing -- and we`re learning about this in little bits in dribs and drabs -- that they want to really use emotion to speak both to the senators and to a nation that may want to move on from some of this.

They have video planned, perhaps witnesses. And the prosecutors argue, again, in this new brief that just came out tonight: "If provoking a riot is not impeachable, it`s hard to imagine what would be."

It`s a big question, and we have a very experienced guest to get into all it.

As I mentioned, tonight, on THE BEAT, we have Congressman Adam Schiff. He was famously the lead impeachment manager at Donald Trump`s first trial. We`re going get into all of this right after our shortest break in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: And joining me now is seasoned prosecutor and Congressman Adam Schiff. He was, of course, the lead impeachment manager in Donald Trump`s first impeachment trial.

Thanks for being here tonight.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you. Good to be with you.

MELBER: Great to have you.

We can get into a lot of these legal arguments, what the Constitution says and means. I trust you and I will do that.

But I want to begin with something more basic, a question that is on the mind of many Americans. Why would this time be any different than last?

SCHIFF: Well, look, this is a very different presidential abuse.

And, in this case, you don`t need the imagination of senators to wonder what it would be like to be on the Ukraine front lines with Russia and have military aid withheld in order to help the president of the United States cheat in an election.

These senators were there. They were on the front lines as that mob was tearing through the Capitol. They`re firsthand witnesses, in addition to everything else. And the core of what the president did, in trying to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power, as the House manager brief says, if that`s not impeachable, to incite an insurrection against that peaceful transfer, then nothing would be.

This is clearly what the founders had in mind when they provided that remedy.

MELBER: Do you think that Donald Trump acted in ways that make it a national security priority to prevent him from ever lawfully being president again, which is one of the remedies if there is a conviction?

SCHIFF: Absolutely.

You know, it was very apparent after the first trial that, if he were left in office, that he would seek to cheat again, that he would do great damage to the country. It is equally plain now that, if he is not disqualified from running for office again, then we can expect that, if he runs in four years, he will put the country through the same hell, through the same lies about the election, through the same false claims of fraud if he loses, through the same incendiary rhetoric and incitement to violence.

And that is a very direct threat to our country`s security. And, of course, it does immeasurable damage to our reputation abroad and the health of our democracy.

MELBER: How important is it, in your view, that the trial speak to the rest of the country?

Because the attack of the 6th was an insurrection. It was violent. There will be memorials tonight for one of the Capitol officers who died, among five total people. It was a trauma. And yet there is so much going on, and people are, as you know, living through a recession and COVID and all this other stuff in 2021, that there has been a little bit of a mood of, OK, that was terrible, maybe we move right on.

And yet, next week, by virtue of this process, everyone is going to be slowing down and hearing this again. What is important, in your mind, to tell the nation through this process next week, for those who say well, yes, it was terrible, we lived through it, we want to move on?

SCHIFF: Well, Ari, that`s a very important question, because the managers try this case not just to the senators, but perhaps more even importantly to the American people.

And you don`t start from the presumption that everyone knows all the facts. Indeed, we didn`t start from the presumption that all the senators knew the facts in the last trial.

One of the things that the managers` brief lays out so well today is the entire chronology, the narrative arc of this terrible tragedy, with the president saying before the election that he wouldn`t accept it if he lost the election, with him making claims in advance that there was going to be massive fraud, with him challenging the election immediately, even when he understood, as we all did, that the first returns would not necessarily be indicative of who would win that state.

His efforts to try to force local elections officials and then statewide elections officials, his efforts in the courts all turned down, finally culminating in what he viewed as the last chance to stop the peaceful transfer of power, that is, bring this mob into D.C., lighting the fuse and setting this tragedy in motion.

So, that story needs to be told, with the kind of clarity that you can in a trial, number one, because the senators need to do their constitutional duty and disqualify him, but, number two, if they don`t, the American people need to have a basis to hold their senators accountable, but, also, they need to know the danger of this man going forward, should he ever try the run again.

MELBER: Yes, and that really goes to, as you say, what he did.

He publicly summoned people to come on January 6, not a random day, not a rally day, no, to come and try to pressure what would ultimately be an illegal and violent pressure on that final step in certifying his loss there in the Senate, as I think we all remember. We lived through it.

I want to play for you something that may or may not come up in evidence, but it`s certainly damning, which is those people explaining why they were there. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our president, President Donald Trump, asked us to good to the march on the 6th, and he said be there. And so I went, and I answered the call of my president.

I felt like my presence on the state Capitol steps, on those ivory steps, was more important to me than my very life.


MELBER: How does that fit into the argument that Donald Trump intentionally, deliberately incited the resurrection?

SCHIFF: Well, it will be up to the managers to decide of the volume of the evidence which they want to present.

But statements like that, that people that participated understood exactly what the president was telling them to do and, perhaps even more powerfully, the video of people during the insurrection yelling out that they were there because the president told them they could or should, that`s very powerful evidence that, in fact, the president incited them to this insurrection.

So, I think it is very relevant, important evidence. Now, some of the lawyers watching might say, well, can you introduce that, or is that hearsay? It`s up to the senators to decide what evidence they will accept and what way to give that evidence, but all of this is certainly relevant to the abuse of the president`s power.


And the final question I want to ask you, I`m not making light of this, Congressman, but you have tangled with Donald Trump. And I think you have seen he has a penchant for being often his own worst advocate. That`s why he was banned from Twitter over this same incident, and yet it may help him in the long run, because we won`t hear as many incriminating things as quickly, necessarily.

And so I`m curious. Apart from the defenses that he and his team have started to raise, many of which are really weak, what about the more serious argument that people in office, you, Donald Trump, future presidents, they need a very wide latitude to speak, and that, while this is not a traditional First Amendment case, and there are nuances to that, we have historically said that they can say all kinds of things, and that you really don`t want to set too much of a precedent where words alone can convict, remove, or bar an official?

Your response to that?

SCHIFF: Well, people need to understand that there is not a First Amendment defense to inciting an insurrection or to abusing the power of your office.

MELBER: Certainly.

SCHIFF: If a president says to a foreign power secretly that I will do anything you want because I want to build a tower in Moscow, that`s not protected by the First Amendment simply because he vocalizes his corrupt intent.

If the president were to engage in bribery and did so through vocalization of the terms of the bribe, that`s not protected by the First Amendment. And if you incite people to attack the Capitol, that`s not protected either.

So, it`s a false argument. You know, I think it has a superficial kind of appeal to people who don`t necessarily understand what is the role of the First Amendment in an impeachment proceeding, but the long and the short of it, there is no First Amendment defense to ignoring and violating your constitutional duty.

And even if there were, there is no First Amendment protected ability to incite an attack on the Capitol.

MELBER: Plainly put, and important to get all of the sides, as everyone`s got digest this, because, lord knows, it`s important, and lives were lost, and the accountability part is not over.

Congressman Schiff, thank you, sir.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

We have a lot more in the program, including going from Adam Schiff to Jon Bon Jovi. That`s how we do it on THE BEAT. This is his debut on the program. We`re excited for that later this hour.

But coming up, Michael Steele on the Republican infighting that has Mitch McConnell warning, one of his own members of his new party is causing a cancer.

And charges for Capitol rioters, as AOC reveals new and harrowing details about what she experienced inside that building.


MELBER: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is set to meet behind closed doors with a very controversial brand-new freshman congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene.

This is supposed to happen as soon, as early as tonight. The Republican Party has a problem here, pressure to punish or sanction her in some way for what we`re about to show you, as well as there are wider calls to remove her from committees, like the Education and Budget committees, or, even more, some talk about what else could be done when you have a known promoter of really vile conspiracy theory, some of them dangerous.

She suggested that school shootings and the Parkland shooting were just staged, which is widely viewed as not only false, but highly disrespectful to the many lives lost. There are other inflammatory and conspiratorial comments as well.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): If the resource officer at Parkland had done his job, then Nikolas Cruz wouldn`t have killed anybody in your high school.

There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now.

We had witnessed 9/11, right? We had witnessed 9/11, the terrorist attack. It`s odd there is never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon. But, anyways, I won`t -- I`m not going dive into the 9/11 conspiracy.


MELBER: Now, the pressure on Republican Leader McCarthy has been ratcheting up, including from within the Republican Party.

Take Mitch McConnell, who is rebuking her now. He didn`t name the congresswoman, but he denounced QAnon conspiracies as -- quote -- "loony lies." Senator McConnell says, "This is a cancer for the Republican Party and our country."

McConnell also, in a sign of what is going on between different Republican leaders, is supporting Liz Cheney, who was one of the only members of Republican leadership who formally voted to impeach Donald Trump.

He notes that she is still "a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them."

It`s tension within the Republican Party. It relates to Trump and Trumpism, but it goes well beyond. Some are supporting Taylor Greene. Some want to remove Cheney from House leadership for that vote I mentioned. Democrats now say Greene should at least be banned from committee positions, and that would be a lawful remedy.

Indeed, remember, we have seen people from both parties stripped of committee assignments based on their conduct in the past.

We`re joined now by the former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who endorsed Joe Biden for president.

Thanks for being here.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s good to be back with you, man.

MELBER: You know, this is much bigger than Trump, although he may have been the gasoline and then some.

But he sought of office. She`s not. And the embrace of lies on the one hand and hate, vile racism, anti-Semitism, 9/11 didn`t happen, all that kind of congeals together.

How big do you think this is in the current Republican Party, and what do you think of the different leaders` approaches?

STEELE: It`s a very big deal.

And anyone who tries to diminish it and say that oh, well, it`s just an intraparty thing, and it will just be pushed aside, they`re full of it. They`re missing what`s happening in this moment.

What will define it is how -- and we have already seen part of it with McConnell, where he couldn`t even call the woman`s name, Marjorie Taylor Greene, right? He can say Lynne Cheney -- he can say Liz Cheney, rather, but he can`t say Marjorie Taylor Greene.

So, OK, just call the thing what it is. Use the name and call her out. So, you have that in the Senate.

On the House side, you`re going to have this meeting, which, OK, you`re going have it privately, but what matters is what is said after the meeting and what punishment -- and there should be punishment -- that`s given to this congresswoman for her actions and her words.

And the reality of it is, I suspect you`re not going get a lot out of this. This is not going to be that dramatic, and that`s because they don`t want it to. They are still looking over their shoulders at that base and that portion of the base that is particularly still very much aligned and locked in with Donald Trump.

So, as McConnell could not say Marjorie Taylor Greene`s name, I do not see McCarthy doing much better than that.

MELBER: That bothered you, Michael.

STEELE: Very much so. Call it out. You don`t get past this, Ari, unless you admit what the problem staring you in the face is.

You cannot turn a blind eye it to and pretend it`s not there and that Marjorie Taylor Greene just is going to go slink back into their district when it`s time to go for the weekend and we`re all going to be kumbaya.

She clearly stalked a teenager who was involved in a horrific shooting and accused him of being weak, then, of course, all the other stuff that was now coming out about what she was saying before she got to Congress. Call it what it is.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

STEELE: Put the name on it. And clean yourself from it. Don`t sit there and say that this is some kind of cancer on the party and then do nothing about it.

MELBER: Yes. Right, and not give people...

STEELE: Who has cancer and goes, you know what, I don`t want any treatment? It`s crazy.

MELBER: Right.

Well, and that -- as you say, the method has to match. So, you say, well, who are you addressing? What do you want to do about it.

You know who partly disagrees with you, Michael?


MELBER: Tucker.

STEELE: Yes, well...

MELBER: Now, we don`t just air just anything around here, but he makes a point about proportion, and whatever your views of him or others` views of him, is a piece of this.

So I want to resuscitate the fair part, not the other part, and that is, how do we deal -- and you and I have discussed this before...

STEELE: Right.

MELBER: ... with condemning without giving too much oxygen to one person or one theory? So, take a little look at Tucker.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Just how dangerous is this three-named congresswoman you probably have never heard of?

Well, so dangerous that, in the name of democracy, she must be expelled tonight from the Congress. Why? Simple. Donald Trump is gone now. That`s very bad news for the many people who made a living yelling at Donald Trump.


MELBER: He is partly calling out the press and others, what he calls this Trump grievance industry.

But there is a sliver of a question here that I`d love you to give us your final thought on. How do you do this right without getting it overtake everything? Because I think we could agree, condemn specifically, but also this is not the only thing going on in America.

STEELE: Right.

It`s not the only thing going on in America, absolutely true. But, look, you have a pattern of behavior. You have someone who is on the record perpetuating lies and conspiracies about our government, about elected members.

She has clearly, when she campaigned for the office, did a poster which I know, I absolutely know folks on my side would take as threatening if a Democrat had a poster of an AR-15 with three Republican members` faces on it. Oh, I know they absolutely would be outraged from it.

So, we know what her pattern of behavior is. We know who her constituents are, in terms of the QAnon community. We know where she is aligned.

So, yes, you have to deal with that truth in that reality. And then when you layer that along with what happened on January 6, we still don`t know what she may have said or done. We know that people are concerned about what some members in the Republican Party may have done during that time period in terms of texting locations.


STEELE: We don`t know. So there is a lot more here.


STEELE: But you got deal with what`s right in front of you at the moment.


STEELE: And that`s all I think the American are people are asking Republicans to do.

MELBER: All key points. I`m only wrapping you, because I have got Bon Jovi coming up.

STEELE: I know. Dude, give my best to Jon Bon Jovi, and I will step aside.


MELBER: Michael Steele, always really important clarity. I appreciate you, sir.

Up ahead, the rock legend, the one and only Jon Bon Jovi. And why? George Floyd inspired one of these new songs on his 2020 album "American Reckoning."

And new arrests at the Capitol riot, Trump, of course, facing a trial for that, but, first, AOC getting emotional and personal on why she feared for her life.

All that ahead. Stay with us.



REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I`m hiding in this bathroom, hearing these yells of these men -- or just a man, just one man, going: "Where is she? Where is she?"


MELBER: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sharing her most extensive account of how she was personally targeted during this Capitol Hill riot.

There are new criminal charges that also highlight the very threat that she is recounting and that other lawmakers, of course, faced in both parties. Federal prosecutors have now charged two women for storming the Capitol, one who bragged: "We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the brain, but we didn`t find her" -- end quote.

The feds charged a rioter shown in a photo with Donald Trump who was all the way inside the Oval Office, arrested over a week after the riot back near the Capitol and armed with a gun at the time.

Meanwhile, "The New Yorker" has identified the writer known as the bullhorn lady who broke into the Capitol, helping coordinate movements during the ongoing criminal conspiracy in and around the building. She even told "The New Yorker" she was inspired by watching Trump allies after the election, saying -- quote -- "That was motivating to me. I learned a lot from Giuliani and people`s testimonies."

That rioter is actually still at large, wanted by the FBI while speaking out. We are going to continue to track the accountability and the evidence in all of this.

Now coming up, as promised, we have something very special, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and icon Jon Bon Jovi makes his BEAT debut.

That`s next.



CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST: You hear him actually cry out for his mother. I did not realize that his mom had actually passed away two years ago.

When you saw that, when you heard that, what did you think?

STEPHEN JACKSON, FRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: It hurt, man. It hurt, because I knew that was a cry for help.

I`m a black man, and I`m a strong black man. And I know Floyd. That`s a cry for help.

We don`t scream our mother`s name like that unless we know something is wrong and our life is in jeopardy.


MELBER: George Floyd`s friend Stephen Jackson, a former NBA player, was reflecting there on the final moments as police killed Floyd. That`s from an emotional interview on "The Today Show."

And while police violence is a long-running issue in America, that Floyd killing did break through during the pandemic. It sparked those national protests and continued to elevate the BLM and police reform movement.

Many people remember where they were when they saw the news or saw Floyd`s friends and family reacting in that heartbreaking public grieving.

And that also includes Jon Bon Jovi, whose 2020 album includes a searing song about Floyd`s killing called "American Reckoning."

And he says that moment with Jackson that you just saw a piece of was actually a turning point for Jon Bon Jovi for him to right write this song. And he talks about this in our new interview.

So, we will start there. Here is a bit of that exchange airing right now for the first time.


MELBER: I just want to read from "American Reckoning" and hear from you about what you`re telling us.

You say: "(EXPLETIVE DELETED) damn those eight long minutes, lying face- down in cuffs on the ground. Bystanders pleaded for mercy, as one cop shoved a kid in the crowd. When did a judge and a jury become a badge and a knee?"

Tell us that song.

JON BON JOVI, MUSICIAN: You know, Ari, I had to take a position on this record.

I wanted it to be that I were in your shoes, or anyone else who is reporting news. So, I said to myself I am a witness to history. And much like anyone else who had the opportunity to watch the television or read the newspaper, we were all witness to history.

And in the case of the death of George Floyd, there I was, a captive audience watching the television, and was so taken by the moment and the graphic nature of the moment, both visually and the audio recordings.

And the best way for me to express what I saw was through the songs. And "American Reckoning" took shape.

MELBER: It`s really powerful. You`re recounting it something that so many people shared in America and really around the world. How soon from seeing it, as we all did, did you know you were going to do a song?

BON JOVI: I watched as his friend, the basketball player, was recounting to Craig Melvin on "The Today Show" that, in his last words, he was calling for his mom.

And I -- my eyes just welled up with tears. And it was that morning I just turned around. So, this is a day or two later. And I went to my office and closed the door, and I just started writing.

When you`re a songwriter, you can rhyme, moon, June and spoon. You have light easy moments about nothing and make people happy and make them dance.

When you`re a witness to history and you`re talking about something that happened in the day and age in which you`re living, you better get it right.

But it is America`s reckoning. This time, the Black Lives Matter movement has really taken a whole around the globe. You saw the reaction in the streets worldwide.


MELBER: Jon Bon Jovi has tackled many topics as a singer/songwriter, from rock `n` roll party tracks, to those working class anthems that so many people love and remember.

He`s deeply involved in news and civic life and philanthropy. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also performed at Joe Biden`s inauguration, singing The Beatles song "Here Comes the Sun."

And in this brand-new interview, we also touched on some of his new lyrics that actually dig into the problems of Russian election interference and online bots that try to undercut our democracy.


MELBER: Quote: "I`m no cable news reporter. They got nothing new to say. I`m the voice of the new order, the star of anarchy today. I`m the comments you keep reading at the bottom of the page. I`m real power. I`m a patriot. I`m a Russian hack by trade."


BON JOVI: I think we`re all fearful that its bots and interference from foreign countries who are trying to influence the psyche of America. And that was the first song I wrote for the record.

So, it`s technically August of `18 when I wrote that song. And I wrote it being critical of the last administration. And right in the first line, it says, "A storm is coming."

It was a reference to Stormy Daniels. But, as time went on, it went from being Manafort to Barr to Giuliani to Cohen is referenced in there, and then it becomes Giuliani. And it`s like it didn`t matter at what point. There was always blood in the water.

There`s still blood in the water circling the previous administration. It just seems that, no matter what they said or did, that people were gunning for them, and as we can see why.

MELBER: Are you following the news a lot more than other periods in your life, or have you always been this into it, we`re just learning about it now?

BON JOVI: I think I have always been a news junkie.

My closer friends are all in news than they are in entertainment, believe it or not. I`m friends with a lot of your peers. And I try to be a student of current affairs, as well as history.

So, I did pay attention. But I think that we, America, Americans have really been sucked into the vortex of second-by-second news, whether it`s the Internet or television. You know, we spend far too much time turning on the tube and watching the Internet go by with every little tidbit, and not all of it is even verified news. And it becomes hearsay. And that becomes truth in the eyes of those who want to believe it.


MELBER: How about that?

I think plenty of news consumers and citizens can relate to what he`s saying there.

Now, this interview is part of our "Mavericks" series, where we get to go deep with some artists and cultural icons.

So, we also had plenty of fun discussing classic Bon Jovi songs, from "It`s My Life" to "Livin` on a Prayer," plus his philosophy on embracing aging, embracing fads, and the true measure of success.

Here are a few more quick highlights.


BON JOVI: Do not succumb to fads and fashions. Unless you`re true to who you are, it`s not going to resonate.

After a while, you don`t measure success in album sales and number one thises and thats. Find your way. It can be done.

I knocked on the door of a brand-new radio station that was so new, it didn`t have a receptionist.

MELBER: Do you imagine people playing that decades from now, wondering, gosh, what was that like when we lived through it?

BON JOVI: When you`re a songwriter and you`re talking about something that happened in the day and age in which you`re living, you better get it right.

And then my ultimate argument was, I`m the one that has to sing it. Argument was over. I will never be 50 and painting my finger nails black. I`m near 60. Like Frankie said, I did it my way.

And JBJ said, I did it my way too.


MELBER: I believe we can all take some inspiration from that, an American rock icon.

That`s just a sampling. I encourage you to go ahead and check out the entire interview. It`s long-form, so we could really listen to what Jon Bon Jovi had to say.

Go to That`s for the full conversation, as well as other recent installments of our exclusive digital series "Mavericks With Ari Melber."

We will be right back.


MELBER: Thanks for spending time with us on THE BEAT tonight and in general.

I don`t know about you. I feel like we`re at least halfway there, right? So, our thanks again to Jon Bon Jovi for making his BEAT debut as part of our "Mavericks" series.

Again, you can go see the full interview at

I always like to tell you guys, one of the reasons we do this is, it gives us more time. So, the majority of the interview didn`t air tonight. We showed you our highlights, but we get into a lot more on politics, on music, on songwriting, on doing it my way, if you go visit that link for the full interview.

I will see you back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.

For one more music footnote, though, before I go, if you`re on Instagram, you can follow me @AriMelber. Tonight, we`re doing an I.G. Live with D.J. Drama. So, you can go on Instagram @AriMelber. We will be taking your questions. It`s way more interactive than this TV thing, if you want to tune in.

Otherwise, don`t go anywhere right now. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" starts now.