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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 2/3/21

Guest: Malcolm Kenyatta, Paul Krugman, Jeff Merkley, Kurt Andersen, Margaret Carlson


Senator Jeff Merkley speaks out. "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman discusses the state of the economy and stimulus. The racial injustice in the enforcement of the Capitol Building riot and insurrection investigations is examined.



Hi, Ari.

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

And welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

And, tonight, Washington the nation are honoring Capitol Hill Police

Officer Brian Sicknick, laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery after

dying defending the Capitol, and many say democracy itself. Lying in the

Capitol Rotunda is an honor usually reserved for former officials. He`s

only the fifth private citizen to be honored this way, joining people like

Rosa Parks.

Now, against the backdrop of these solemn ceremonies is the fallout over

the lies and conspiracy theories that powered the insurrection. And that

continues, Republicans bowing to sustain pressure and holding a meeting to

discuss potential sanctions or condemnation for a newly elected

congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who`s trafficked in hate, lies,

anti-Semitism, and appeals to violence before she entered Congress.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): The so-called plane that crashed into

the Pentagon. It`s odd there is never any evidence shown for a plane in the


Barack Obama`s presidency. OK, but let`s keep going. Let`s keep talking

about whatever happened. Yes, I do believe he is a Muslim.

And once it`s gone, freedom doesn`t come back by itself. The only way you

get your freedoms back is, it`s -- it`s earned with the price of blood.


MELBER: What`s new here is Republicans holding a private meeting with her,

with Congresswoman Greene. And, afterwards, leader Kevin McCarthy put out a

statement saying -- quote -- "I condemn those comments unequivocally."

He also went on to blame Democrats for what he sees as taking an

unprecedented step to further their -- quote -- "partisan power grab"

regarding the committee assignments of the other party.

Speaker Pelosi speaking out and basically stating that, at this point, she

doesn`t view that condemnation, under pressure, as enough, and she sees

there basically being no real Republican reckoning by House Leader


Indeed, she is out with a blistering statement tonight that`s somewhat

unusual. I will show it to you here. She argues that he`s now more the

leader of the party of QAnon than the Republican Party. And she underscores

that here in this statement you see on your screen, which, if you look at

the highlighted part, it literally identifies McCarthy, not by the

traditional R of California for Republican, but, in her telling, as Q of


Now, that`s a piece of political pressure and rhetoric, since, on paper,

McCarthy is a registered Republican, not a registered QAnon. But the point

shows just how seriously Pelosi and others want to take this right now,

especially after the insurrection at the Capitol and the ongoing security

issues that are, even DHS says, intensified by political lies.

Now, the Democrats run the House, and they`re prioritizing a floor vote

tomorrow that would go further and strip Taylor Greene of her committee

assignments, a measure that has been used against members of both parties

who have gone way over the line.


REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): This is truly sick stuff. If this is not the

bottom, I don`t know what the hell is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I find Congresswoman Greene`s comments deeply


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not here to defend Representative Greene. I`m

here to defend the process of the House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican leadership isn`t holding her accountable for

her abhorrent statements and -- and incitement. They`re sending a signal

that they will tolerate this conduct.


MELBER: Now, after four years of a certain president, many in Congress in

America do want to move on, especially from what they associate as the

antics of the last president.

But this Greene controversy does show that, while some things did end on

January 20, others run far deeper in America right now. In fact, the

dangerous brew of conspiracy theories, political fantasy and outright hate

is something the author Kurt Andersen wrote a whole book about. And he

joins us in a moment for that broader historical perspective.

We kick off the broadcast, though, with two guests who`ve also confronted

these issues head on.

Here to represent facts, if you will, we have veteran journalist Margaret

Carlson. And in the growing battles over truth in civic life, I`m joined

again by Representative Malcolm Kenyatta. He`s a Democrat who`s tangled

with mounting conspiracy theories about voting in Pennsylvania.

In fact, I will remind viewers he previously joined us in December, when we

spoke with him as a Biden delegate, and a counterpart who would have been a

Trump delegate. Kenyatta was accurate about the results of that race, while

the Trump surrogate falsely claimed the election was not resolved.

Representative, we will start there. I`m sure you remember that. It was a

moment that, in isolation, may have seemed just bizarre, but, by January 6,

it was quite serious. And, today, the speaker of the House, one of the most

visible members of your party, says there`s got to be consequences.

Your view?

STATE REP. MALCOLM KENYATTA (D-PA): Yes, I think one of the lasting things

that we see from the former president is this idea that accountability to

these folks feels like another reason for them to be victims, at least in

their own minds.

The fact that there is a debate about whether or not to hold accountable a

sitting member of Congress, who has called for the death of Democratic

members with whom she serves, the fact that that is a debate within the

Republican Caucus shows exactly who they are.

And I think that, as we move forward, we do need to heal. The way we heal

is that we hold people accountable. The way we heal is that we speak the

truth in the face of all these lies. The way we heal is by not allowing

people to get away scot-free with rhetoric and also with policy that has

driven us to this moment and led to an attempted coup at the Capitol less

than a month ago.

MELBER: Margaret?


a feeling first, if you can tolerate that.

And after all of the videos of what took place at the Capitol, the

brutality of it, and then to see the lying in state or lying in honor of a

police Officer Sicknick, was to see the real wages of what happened is that

there`s this police officer who went to work that morning and never came


And there you see his brother and sister, his girlfriend. What`s worse than

the parents burying their son? His bike. And that`s what Trump refusing to

accept that he lost an election, that`s a straight line from that to that


And it struck me just so much harder than those videos. And yet even the

enormity of that doesn`t affect Republicans, who have obviously put first

Trump and his voters and their voters. They think they`re their voters, and

they can`t win without them. And this is where we are.

Last night on FOX, Mitch McConnell was called a foolish old fraud. And all

Mitch McConnell has done is speak the truth. I`m amazed at Mitch McConnell,

actually. I wonder, what`s happened to him, that he`s got an open mind that

he accused Trump of lying and causing the mob, and that it was impeachable


And then he goes after Marjorie Taylor Greene and supports Liz Cheney, as

he should, but which his whole party is not doing. It`s Mitch McConnell


But, for that -- all he did was that, and now he`s a foolish old fraud.

It`s amazing to me, because you keep looking for the line. Where`s the line

beneath which Republicans worried about the next election and not the next

generation won`t sink? We haven`t found it yet.

MELBER: What do you say, Margaret, to some Republicans who say tonight

there is a difference from yesterday, that McCarthy needed to meet with

this new member? She just joined the Congress.

It`s not like they personally have a history. They have a political

alliance that he`s been criticized for, but that he met with her and now

he`s spoken out specifically and condemned it. What do you say to

Republicans who say, that is one of the steps tonight?

CARLSON: Well, that`s a step, but not the step, which is, do you condone

that without some kind of punishment? I mean, even a child gets punished,

because you can`t let the conduct stand.

Are we just going to let that be that she just in your clip, Ari, said can

have blood on our hands -- the only way to get our country back is blood on

our hands and the only way to get the election back?

So, as I said, what they have done all along is to get us to this moment

because of going along with Donald Trump. And now they`re reading the polls

and are going to keep going along with him.

I think McCarthy is splitting the baby by not taking away Liz Cheney`s

leadership post, but leaving Greene with her -- with her committee

assignments. So, McCarthy said some words, sticks and stones, so -- but

nothing`s really happened to her, Ari.

I mean, the I thought it was good that McCarthy said something, but we only

think it`s good because McCarthy usually doesn`t say anything.


And the piece consistent with your point would be, he said something after

all this outrage. He had to be brought just to this point.

Our panel stays.

And, as promised, we bring in, for the historical context, the author and

journalist Kurt Andersen. His book is "Fantasyland: How America Went

Haywire." He also wrote "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent

History" and, by the way, co-founded the satirical magazine "Spy," which

tangled with then New York citizen Donald Trump for a long time.

Thanks for joining us, Kurt.


be here.

MELBER: One of the things that you explore in your work -- and you have

been thinking about this before it maybe hit Congress -- is that you can

take any individual politician out of the mix, and you still have an

enduring, recurring, atavistic feature of American political life.


ANDERSEN: Well, you have -- Americans from the get-go have been unusually

attracted to exciting falsehoods and exciting and entertaining fiction that

they take to be fact.

That has been a thing in America more than the rest of the civilized,

developed, rich world for centuries. It became more of a thing on the

political right over the left, certainly in the McCarthy era.

And for years, for decades, the Republican Party did a fairly good job of

making those nuts, the conspiracy theorists on the right, the -- what we

used to call the Birchers, pariahs and keeping them out.

Then, in the `90s, more or less, they stopped. The madness and the nonsense

and the false beliefs of various kinds, conspiratorial and others, became

part of the Republican mainstream. The denial of climate change is the

large one. But then we had birtherism, Donald Trump`s entry into politics,

which, of course, was based on a big conspiracy.

We had the conspiracy that the Muslim Brotherhood was governing America in

some way, on and on and on, which became more and more of just central to

Republican orthodoxy. So -- and then Donald Trump came along, and now

Marjorie Taylor Greene came along.

So, it`s not, oh, my God, this is something new. It`s, oh, my God, it never

stopped and reached this acute, pathological, dangerous point.


And so how much of that relates to what we would call political factors,

like whether the leaders want to deal with this, which our two experts

tonight were just speaking on, and how much of that relates to other

tectonic shifts? Because the Internet has certainly made it easier to push

this crap, and thus made it harder on -- perhaps on politicians or

platforms or all the rest -- we have covered all of -- this to play Whac-A-


And I will let you cogitate on that. In fact, you could write a whole

`nother book if you want.


ANDERSEN: But we will give you -- give you 20 seconds to think about it

while I play what is relevant, because, wherever the critics and the facts

are here on Taylor, and then McCarthy`s here being dragged to criticize it,

people should keep my where she is.

What is her response to all this? Take a look.


GREENE: I don`t think I have anything to apologize for, for refusing to

blame Trump Russian collusion conspiracy guys` theories, and looking them

up on -- looking things up on the Internet and asking questions about it on

Facebook. Big deal.



ANDERSEN: Well, there you go.

I mean, as -- "Fantasyland" -- I published "Fantasyland" just as Donald

Trump was being elected president. I was writing it for years before that.

So, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene were there, were becoming more and

more prominent in the Republican Party locally.

And then we elected a president, the conspiracy theorist in chief, to

legitimize this nonsense of various kinds. And looking up things on the

Internet, as though that`s a credentialed form of research, became

absolutely part of the party. And now there is no putting it back.

In the latest poll I saw today, a quarter, only a quarter of Republicans

say they approve of Congresswoman Greene, but that`s a quarter of them. And

so people like Kevin McCarthy look at that and go, wow, a quarter of them,

of us are that.

And that, of course, is with a poll in which 50 percent, more than 50

percent of Republicans said, well, we don`t know enough to make a judgment.

So, that party has become the fantasy party, and has for a long time. And

now there is no going back for it. And the Liz Cheneys and the Mitch

McConnells of the world are making a stand. For whatever set of pure,

impure reasons, they are making a stand and saying, no, we are in the

rational part of this far right party.

MELBER: Right.


MELBER: And that`s where the fact-checking -- I`m just jumping in to say,

that`s an important point. That`s where the fact-checking meets the

political strategy, which is I where to bring the representative back in.

You have been dealing with this on the ground in Pennsylvania. I think Kurt

is right, they have drawn that line. But they waited until QAnon got a seat

in Congress, an unapologetic seat, that you draw that line a little

earlier, as political strategy, you might have been better off.

How much do you see this happening on the ground, Representative Kenyatta?

And how much of this is -- and I raised this point last night, and we`re

going to try to be self-reflective and constructive about it -- how much of

this becomes too much national attention on one of many members of


KENYATTA: I think, Ari, the second point you just made is what`s


It`s easy to say, well, Donald Trump has lost an election, he`s gone, let`s

blame him for all the things that we have put up with and supported for

four years. Well, Marjorie Taylor Greene is getting a lot of attention, and

so let`s hold her out as a scapegoat.

We have to deal with what`s really rotten at the core of the Republican

Party. They couldn`t quickly condemn her because, just a couple of weeks

ago, 100-plus members of the Republican House Caucus voted to invalidate

the votes of millions of Pennsylvania, millions of people around the


And so, yes, let`s hold Marjorie Taylor Greene accountable, but let`s also

hold this entire party accountable for allowing this to fester and take

form in her and in other members of their caucus. There is something really

rotten at the core of the Republican Party that they`re going to need to

excise if they are ever going to be actual governing, hopefully, partners,

because President Biden is focused on his actual plans to help Americans

right now.

And they are focused on whether or not they should condemn somebody who is

literally calling for people to be murdered. And so this is not just

Marjorie Taylor Greene. This is not just Donald Trump. This is laid at the

feet of Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and all the others.

And so I`m just sick of us holding up one Republican, saying, this is the

bad person of the week, and not dealing with the ideology. Their party

platform that they approved in 2020 was, we are for whatever Donald Trump

is for. Donald Trump has been for everything Marjorie Taylor Greene has

been saying for four years and beyond.

And the only reason they are repudiating it is because Donald Trump loss

and because Mitch McConnell is now the minority leader. That is the only

reason they`re repudiating it. If it had worked, they would be celebrating


MELBER: State Representative Kenyatta giving...

CARLSON: You know, Ari...

MELBER: I`m really over on time, so just briefly, Margaret.

CARLSON: I was going to say, McCarthy doesn`t believe it, but he`s in a

party that tolerates it and seems to feel they have no choice but to

tolerate it.

It`s not a belief system of most of them, but that -- that quarter that

Kurt talks about -- Kurt, what a great book. You should be really proud.

ANDERSEN: Thank you. Thank you.

CARLSON: That quarter scares them, and so they can`t do the right thing,

when people have died.

It`s kind of -- I`m still shocked. I lost some of my ability to be shocked

from -- by Donald Trump. But now that he`s gone, I`m more shocked that

they`re still doing exactly as Donald Trump wants them to, or they`re going

to be primaried.


KENYATTA: Can I just say, Ari, quickly, I don`t know what they believe in

their heart.


MELBER: I got to go. We`re stealing from Joy Reid at this point, because I

got Paul Krugman booked, another senator.

So, I have to fit it in the break. That`s part of my job. My apologies.

State Representative and Kurt and Margaret, thanks to each of you.

We have a break that`s just 30 seconds.

When we come back, we have a show with special reporting on the racial

injustice at the foot of the enforcement of the riot and insurrection


Later, a big move Obama`s making that we`re going to tell you about.

And Joe Biden and Senate Democrats hammering out a plan to go big and go it

alone, if need be.

As mentioned, Nobel winner Paul Krugman -- when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Turning to the most important story for your health and pocketbook

tonight, the Senate working on a path to a faster COVID bill today,

President Biden meeting with top Democrats to rally around his almost $2

trillion stimulus plan, with reports that this is where Biden is pressing

his party to go big.

Now, on this one, the Democratic Party looks unified.


QUESTION: Is there a risk in going it alone without Republican support,


What were you saying? You will get Republican support?



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We want to do it bipartisan, but we must be

strong. We cannot dawdle, we cannot delay, we cannot dilute. We are united

as one for a big, bold package, working with our Republican friends when we



MELBER: That`s what the action there outside the White House looks like.

And some experts say this is actually where the politics and the policy

could work together for President Biden.

Many Democrats want to begin this new chapter in Washington with a big,

clear victory, while many leading economic experts say this is no time to

slash the stimulus and spending that the nation needs.

Joining us now is Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, the

longtime "New York Times" columnist, the author of the book "Arguing with

Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future."

Truly no better guest on exactly this issue.

Thank you so much for being here, sir.


MELBER: Walk us through why it would be important to do the stimulus right

now. And does the size matter, when you hear some Republicans claim, well,

you could do some of; it doesn`t have to be $2 trillion.

KRUGMAN: I think it`s important to say that this is not really stimulus. I

mean, it`s a shorthand people use, but this is not trying to goose the

economy to pump up spending.

This is about helping people survive until the pandemic has faded away.

It`s getting us through to the point where we have widespread vaccination,

and we can start to return to normal life.

And it`s about the benefits to the unemployed, keeping businesses afloat,

keeping state and local governments from being in fiscal crisis. Those are

the main elements. And then there are some general checks to the public as

well on top of it.

But that`s actually -- the core of this is, this is disaster relief, not

stimulus. And when you look at the magnitude of the disaster, it has to be

about as big as what Biden is proposing. They -- the Republican

counteroffer was really an insult.

It would have cut off -- for example, it would cut off aid to the

unemployed in June. There`s not a chance that we will be able -- we will be

back to normal employment by June. The pandemic will still be very much

with us.

So, you have to have a program that is going to get us through until this

thing is really over, which means it has to be really big. It has to be

really bold.

MELBER: That makes sense.

The other argument we`re hearing in public from Republicans is not just

they don`t want to do this, but the United States can`t afford it. Take a



SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): That is a huge warning sign on the horizon, the

fact that we have an ever-growing deficit.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): We have historic levels of deficits now and as a

percent of our GDP not seen since World War II, which is frightening.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Once interest rates start ticking up, in some

ways, it`s too late because you have so much debt that`s there.


MELBER: Now, Professor Krugman, you have written extensively about this.

Is this one of the zombies? Is it back to life? How do you kill it again at

a policy level?

KRUGMAN: Yes, I mean, it helps that they`re such obvious hypocrites.

I mean, these are the same people who didn`t care a bit. They went on and

on about debt under Obama, suddenly stopped caring about it under Trump,

and now they`re back to it. So, it`s kind of easy to say, look, they --

that this is not serious. This is just an attempt to sabotage a Democratic

president, just as it was last time.

And it happens that, if you look at the preponderance of serious economic

analysis, it says this is not a major problem. Interest rates are low.

There`s no indication that at the current levels is going to be a problem.

Lots of countries have had debt higher than this, Britain, Japan, without

having serious problems. And when you have the International Monetary Fund

saying, don`t worry about debt, when you have the Federal Reserve saying,

don`t worry about that, I`m supposed to believe warnings from a bunch of

Republican senators?

Come on. Let`s ask, what is their motivation, not should we take them



The last thing I`m really just curious, in a topic turn, is the, GameStop,

Reddit activity has gotten a lot of press and a lot of reaction. What do

you make of it? And do you think there`s anything meaningful that comes out

of it? Or do you look at it more as an aberration?

KRUGMAN: Well, I think this was -- this was a kind of a combination of two

old-fashioned things.

There was clearly a pump-and-dump scheme, where some people buy some stock,

and then start spreading rumors about how great it is, and then leave a

bunch of suckers holding the bag, which is what`s happening now. But lots

of people complain, my life savings were just wiped out, because they

bought into it.

And then there`s also a bit of predatory finance, which is where you attack

something not because you have got a better idea of the valuation, but

because you think that people are going to run out of money. And it has a -

- there`s a funny thing here, which is that they -- the victims of

predation were hedge funds, who are short sellers, who are not lovable


So you don`t think of them as the -- it`s hard to think of them as prey.

And it`s hard to think of a bunch of small investors on Reddit as

predators. But the logic of it says that this was actually -- normally,

it`s hedge funds doing this to other people. Now this was a bunch of people

doing it to hedge funds, which doesn`t make it right.

It`s still actually driving the markets far away from where they should be.

So, this is crazy stuff. But it`s also trivial.

The price of a video game store is not something that`s going to drive the

economy. And now that so many people have been burned by discovering, hey,

you can`t push up price without limits, I think this is probably a one-time


MELBER: Well, now you`re revealing yourself, Professor, that perhaps

you`re not a video game fan?

KRUGMAN: Well, look, I mean, this is a physical -- I mean, this is almost

like Blockbuster, right? This is -- it`s video games, but it`s kind of a


As -- people are missing the big thing. The difference between this and

Bitcoin is that there`s an actual business here, which turns out to be a

real vulnerability, because there`s some notion of what the thing might

really be worth, whereas something like Bitcoin, nobody has any idea what

it`s worth, so the price -- there`s no limit on the price.

I mean, this was just -- I mean, this was basically just theft. Somebody

realized that the hedge funds who were short selling were vulnerable when

attacked. But the fundamentals of this is just silly.


Professor Paul Krugman, thank you, as always.

When we come back, we have an important special report on racism and

justice in America, with a response to the riots.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Welcome back.

And we turn now to a special report.

Investigations and charges are continuing that stem from the insurrection,

about 180 arrests and counting. But a double standard that was really quite

glaring from the very first hours of this incident is now playing out on a

systemic level that`s so familiar in our U.S. justice system.

Now, this was a major part of the initial response to the attacks. We

should note there was much police work being done. There were strong and

heroic patrols by some officers, but also a level of restraint and, at

times, warmth, including selfies, that`s just not extended to other, far

more peaceful situations, which was called out by many at the time.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Guarantee you, if that was a Black Lives Matter

protest in D.C., there would already be people shackled, arrested or dead.


protesters storming the Capitol of the United States, I think that there

may have been hundreds of people killed.

MELBER: This is America. This is the double standard that many would

rather not face, on the left, the police rendering aid to people in a crowd

while they were still actively breaking the law, on the right, police

treating black and brown people and other BLM supporters.

MICHAEL RAPAPORT, ACTOR: If this was black people, there would be -- there

would be dead bodies.


MELBER: Now, while some of the federal response in the moments and the

hours of that Capitol insurrection did stem from the political agenda of

the president in charge at the time, I want to tell you, tonight`s news

includes an ongoing double standard that persists, even though, as everyone

knows, there`s a new president and administration in charge.

And the reason is important. If you hear nothing else tonight, hear this.

The reason has to do with the very substantive point pressed by so many

Black Lives Matter protesters over this last year and so many other legal


If the problem we`re dealing with is truly systemic, then only deep changes

to the underlying system will make true improvements, not the election or

changing of a single person, even one as important as the president.

Now, look at the examples that continue to come out as news tonight,

examples that relate to double standards in the law and how prosecutors and

judges apply it.

And these are not things one president can change overnight. That`s not my

point. But you have to understand what`s happening to then decide in a

democracy if you want to change it. And reforming federal laws could help.

Consider first, as a comparison, the BLM protests in Washington this

summer, last year, when, of course, no one ever trespassed into a Capitol.

There were not dead officers, but D.C. police arrested 289 people there in

one day of BLM protests, 427 over four days, while they made just 41

arrests on the day of the insurrection amidst a national security breach

that the U.S. hadn`t seen since 1812.

Even if you take the larger count of arrests outside the Capitol, it would

hit 68, but 41 at that Capitol violent attack itself. Now you can update

the number 181 arrests, still relatively low when you look at the thousands

involved on tape, and one-third of those are out on supervised release.

They`re walking free.

If you take a broader look, there are many well-documented racial

disparities that persist now in use of force, black people more likely to

be shot by police than their -- quote -- "white peers," the kind of fact

driving the outcry at a racial double standard of the Capitol Police in the


And laws that can be written as general rules are being enforced now since

January 6 to discriminate. An example is a Florida town that has been

patrolling dueling BLM and Proud Boys protests, but -- quote -- "Police

started enforcing a rarely used noise ordinance only for Black Lives Matter

protesters, not conservative protesters at the very same site."

In that story, I want to show you something tonight. This is since the

insurrection. And here is the mayor they`re admitting the racial disparity.


QUESTION: We talked with New Port Richey`S mayor. Here`s who he`s putting

the onus on.


people Ratcheted up the volume, and it attracted some of the people from

the other extreme of the spectrum.


MELBER: What you have there is a journalist explaining, these are mostly

peaceful protests, and the mayor explaining that, after he saw that there

were basically Black Lives Matter protesters, and then counterprotesters,

that`s his defense for, as "The Post" reports, only arresting the BLM


Now, I should note those charges were actually later dropped. Apparently,

they didn`t have much merit. But many other areas are now pushing more and

new laws to patrol protests in ways that would actually increase the

systemic injustices that I`m reporting on for you.

Now, take another case stemming from January 6, Jenny Cudd. She was in the

Capitol during the insurrection, so she was on tape breaking federal law.

She was arrested and charged for violent entry and disorderly conduct. She

was released after that. So she`s walking free.

And now she`s planning a trip to Mexico, asking a judge to do so. She calls

it a work-related bonding trip. And she was on tape bragging about that

alleged federal felony.


JENNY CUDD, ALLEGED RIOTER: We did break down the -- Nancy Pelosi`s office

door. And somebody stole her gavel and took a picture sitting in the chair

flipping off the camera.

I`m proud of everything that I was a part of today. And I will be proud of

everything that I`m a part of at the next one.


MELBER: That`s a confession of breaking and entry and a conspiracy to

steal. And she`s proud, but she wants to go somewhere like this and travel

abroad in Mexico while she awaits trial.

This is what she publicly thinks she is owed in our legal system, time for

a -- quote -- "bonding trip" -- her words -- in Mexico. And she expects to

go because she is already out walking free on bond. That already happened.

Contrast that to a story you may remember, Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland was a

28-year-old woman, black woman. She was pulled over for a routine traffic

stop in 2015 in Texas. Why? Well, the allegation was, she failed to signal

for a lane change. That was literally why she was pulled over.

Unlike some of these people indicted for the Capitol insurrection, she

didn`t get to walk free. She was arrested that day. She was taken into

custody. She was jailed after that traffic stop. And she was held there for

three days on the traffic stop. She later was found dead in her cell, under

what many thought were suspicious circumstances.

And the officer involved in that stopped, by the way, was fired. No one was

convicted of wrongdoing.

But this side-by-side contrast is crucial. It`s happening now in America.

It continues to happen. It is the context for something that is so much

more systemic than one election or one bit of outrage or the stories people

share sometimes about anecdotes.

It`s a system that continues to press unequal justice based on race, among

other issues. And there`s the rest of us to decide if we`re ever going to

do something about it.

That`s our report tonight.

And for more perspective, we are now joined by Brittany Packnett

Cunningham. She`s an activist and an MSNBC contributor. She served on

President Obama`s 21st Century Policing Task Force. She has been working

and thinking through these issues for a long time.

Thanks for being here tonight.


having me.

MELBER: What do you think of that contrast?

PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: I mean, for starters, we should be fair. White

supremacy is probably very exhausting. And so she needs her vacation, so

she can carry her supremacy and her exposure to COVID-19 to a country full

of Latinx folks that she probably wouldn`t actually want to vacation, let

alone immigrate to her country.

But that being said, we have always known that there are two systems in

this country. That is not new. You showed many clips of many people calling

out this hypocrisy. We have seen this over multiple generations. You can

ask the descendants of Emmett Till, who are still dealing with the

defacement of his memorial every single year in the 21st century, just how

long we have known that these two systems exist.

To your point, the question is ultimately, what are we going to do about it

systemically? Are we going to continue to fund and expand the budgets of

the institutions that perpetuate those two systems, or are we going to keep

looking the other way?

I would say that we should actually start with rooting out this hypocrisy

at the very top. Let`s look at the United States Congress, because, in my

opinion, one of the greatest examples of that hypocrisy are the 147

Republicans who incited that very riot who are walking around the Capitol

Complex right now as if nothing happened, as if those people were not there

to do harm to their black and brown colleagues and there to upend democracy


We have many opportunities to show exactly how we feel about this hypocrisy

and, to your point, really do something about it.

MELBER: When you see someone who expects to break that law, go away -- go

in there -- excuse me -- confess to it on camera, and then go to Mexico,

what do you see as the level of systems and life experience that makes

those expectations that are backed by the reality that there is disparate

treatment, and a lot of people don`t ever think they`re going to be held in

jail unfairly before a trial when you`re presumed innocent?

And, again, as many have emphasized, if that is applied fairly to all, OK.

But if Ms. Bland was held there for a traffic stop, and someone else is on

a violent -- a violent charge, then obviously something is awry.


I mean, we are all the product of our lived experiences and of our own

environments. Black children grow up knowing the risks that can come with a

single police encounter. We look at the young woman in Rochester, 9 years

old, arrested, handcuffed, and pepper-sprayed by those same police that

killed Daniel Prude not just a few months ago.

So, these are the kinds of experiences that we grow up with. And those

experiences become internalized. We learn those lessons very quickly.

Similarly, the white supremacists who rioted on the Capitol Complex on

January 6, they watched Dylann Roof get a burger. They watched him be taken

peacefully after executing parishioners in that Charleston church.

They watched the folks generations ago declare that the people who killed

Emmett Till were innocent and proven not guilty, in their opinion.

So, when you learn that over time, you carry with you the idea that what

you can do will not actually be punishable by a system that was built for

your very survival. So, not only do these folks expect to be let out; they

don`t expect to be arrested in the first place. That`s why they`re taking

videos and livestreaming, walking around with no masks and nothing

shielding their faces, their identity, because they don`t actually believe

that punishment or accountability will come.


PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: This is an old tale.

Again, what are we going to do about it? That change has to be

fundamentally systemic. And reform is not going to be enough.

MELBER: Brittany, I really appreciate this dialogue with you. And we`re

going to continue it, but, again, with an emphasis on spotlighting and


So, thank you, as always, for joining us on THE BEAT.


MELBER: When we come back, we have a very special guest who has a say in

the upcoming Senate trial of Donald Trump, while prosecutors preview what

they call an airtight case.

Stay with us.



BIDEN: It has to move forward. Otherwise, it would come off as farcical,

what this was all about.

I`m not looking for any retribution, but I think it`s important that there

be certain basic standards, that people at least are able to see what

happened and make their own judgments.


MELBER: President Biden speaking about the looming Trump trial.

And one of the people making those judgments will be Senator Jeff Merkley,

a Democrat from Oregon.

Thank you for joining us.

What are you looking to figure out or learn in this trial? Or do you feel

like most of the facts are clear now?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Well, I think the main witness is going to be

the tapes of President Trump himself, what he said, and both verbally and,

in the context of video, of how he was doing it.

This is about, did he incite an insurrection, and the connections between

everything he said and urged and the context of everything else he did to

try to promote this mega-lie, the stolen election, that is going to keep

reverberating as a challenge for America for a long time to come.

MELBER: Do you think there must be witnesses in this trial?

MERKLEY: Well, that is where I think the president`s own words are the key


In terms of the impact it had on those who stormed the Capitol, maybe some

of those would be a good witness to remind us that they were inspired by

Trump. This was not a false flag operation. This was not an Antifa

operation. This was core and solid MAGA Trump supporters following what

they thought the president was commanding them to do.

MELBER: Oh, they were certainly MAGA.

But let me press you on that, in fairness to something which is as high a

constitutional bar as this is, which I know you care about. Do you need to

be reasonably certain that the president intended to incite the

insurrection, rather than what you just said that I think most reasonable

observers already know, which is these Trump fans came to Washington at his

request and did what they thought he wanted them to do?

Do you need to know he wanted them to do it?

MERKLEY: Well, I think that -- I`m speaking as a non-lawyer. And, of

course, we`re going to be briefed by the lawyers on the points of the law,

although, in essence, an impeachment trial is a bit about the political

framework, as well as -- it`s not a criminal trial. Let me put it that way.


MERKLEY: And what we know is that he deliberately sought to create a

tremendous reaction to his claim that the election was stolen.

He tried to change the outcome in individual states by getting state

legislators to change who they allocated the votes to. He called up folks,

secretaries of states, and said, find me the -- find me the votes. He

pursued every possible avenue in this big lie of the election was stolen.

And here`s what we know from the last couple of days. His defense team

resigned, his lawyers resigned because Trump said: I want you to keep

promoting the big lie that the election was stolen and I`m the rightful

president of the United States.

MELBER: Yes, I think you just drew us to a really important point.

And if the trial is constructive for the country, maybe this will be

discussed and explored next week, which is, there`s what happened on the

6th, a true tragedy, but there`s also the wider plot of a president trying

to become a dictator.

He was thwarted. But what, if anything, does the country and the Senate do

about that? Because he told us and he`s on tape trying to become a


Senator Merkley, thank you. We will be keeping an eye, of course, on you on

a busy week next week. Appreciate your time.

And we will be right back.


MELBER: Barack Obama`s Presidential Center will formally break ground this

year in Chicago`s South Side, Obama making that announcement today.



Michelle and I knew there was only one place for the Obama Presidential

Center, the South Side of Chicago.

It`s where I met Michelle, just a couple of miles from where she grew up,

where Sasha and Malia were born, where I became a community organizer and

won my first election.


MELBER: The center is designed to be living history and also revitalize

this Jackson Park area, with estimated up to $3 billion of interest and

income from visitors around the world.

One more thing before we go, and something we are pretty excited about.

Take a look first at this NBC News video of a supermarket in Naples,

Florida. You can see a lot of people, including the at-risk population,

just really pressed together, maskless, despite the ongoing risks of COVID.

Maybe some of those people have been vaccinated, are in the clear, but

others may not be.

And that brings us to what we`re excited about, which is making sure we all

learn from experts. Let`s put the politics aside and welcome back to THE

BEAT none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci himself.

We will talk about the virus, misinformation and what you can do to protect

yourself and your family. We hope it will be public service programming in

the best sense, Fauci, THE BEAT, tomorrow. DVR it if you need.

Up next, it`s Joy Reid.




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