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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 3/18/21

Guests: Daniella Gibbs Leger, Grace Meng


Congresswoman Grace Meng speaks out. An explosive exchange in Congress with a Republican congressman talking about lynching sets off a firestorm. What challenges does Generation Pandemic face? Donald Trump`s legal troubles grow.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Good to see you. Hope to see you soon. And hope everything is good in your world, considering.

WALLACE: Thank you, my friend.


MELBER: All right. Thank you.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

We`re following several big stories tonight, including an explosive exchange in Congress with a Republican congressman talking about lynching, setting off a firestorm.

Later tonight, we also have a special report we have been working on about the pandemic, America, and the road ahead.

And new details in these Trump probes, prosecutors going after finances. So, plenty to get to.

We begin with explosive remarks today during a heated hearing on anti-Asian hate crimes. This is two days after that deadly shooting in Atlanta amidst a rising wave of anti-Asian attacks that have been documented.

Now, it was the first hearing on anti-Asian hate crimes, we should note, in roughly 30 years. And that`s the context for Republican Chip Roy`s remarks. Now, he said he wants justice for the victims in Atlanta. He said he also worries about policing free speech, and then invoked lynching, which drew a fiery rebuke from the Democrat testifying.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): There`s old sayings in Texas about find the all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.

My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric.

REP. GRACE MENG (D-NY): Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don`t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids.

This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.


MELBER: It was clearly heated.

Now, afterward, that congressman said that he -- quote -- "meant" what he said and had no apologies.

The response coming from Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng there. Now, later, she joins us, I should mention, on THE BEAT tonight. So, we will be hearing more about all of this in the context.

Tomorrow, meanwhile, President Biden and Vice President Harris head to Atlanta to meet with Asian American leaders, among others, as they deal with the horrific events of this week.

We begin tonight with Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post," and Daniella Gibbs Leger with the Center for American Progress.

Eugene, your thoughts on where Congress fit into something that is still, of course, under investigation, but with tempers obviously high.


It sounds as if the congressional intervention was not helpful in seeking answers to this problem. What happened in Atlanta was horrific. And it comes after this swelling wave of attacks against Asian Americans that has been boosted -- and let`s be honest -- by right-wing rhetoric about the coronavirus, right-wing rhetoric about China, which some associate with Asians and Asian Americans.

And people are being accosted in the street in a way that`s just not acceptable, not acceptable in this country. And if Congress is going to give them help, then fine. If we`re going to have nonsense like we heard from Congressman Roy today, then they should just -- should butt out and shut up.

MELBER: Daniella?

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, it`s hard for me to be surprised by the offensive things that sometimes comes out of Republican mouths, but I was horrified by what he said today.

And, of course, he doesn`t back down, because why would he? Look, this country has an unfortunate, very long history of anti-Asian racism specifically. And we need to call that out, and we need to talk about it.

And there is a role for Congress to play. And if Republicans can`t come to the table in good faith, then Democrats need to lead. They control both chambers. Then they need to take up the mantle of protecting this community that, as Eugene said, has seen an increased amount of attacks in the last year.

MELBER: And, Gene, what do you think about the challenge here that policymakers have, which is they can speak very forcefully about what the record is? We have been documenting the rise in these types of hate crimes and others, and then this specific context of these attacks on the Asian American community and some of the fallout from Donald Trump and how he dealt with the virus, while, on the ground, the president and vice president go into an active investigation area tomorrow, where all the facts have not been gathered yet.

And the president and vice president both happen to be lawyers, and the vice president a former prosecutor, who understands that on day two or day three the case may ultimately look different than day 50.

ROBINSON: That`s right.

But what we know is that we have had this really, really dramatic and concerning increase in violence against Asian Americans, unprovoked violence. And so what authorities can do across the country, what prosecutors can do, is they can prosecute these cases, and they can use all the tools that they have in their arsenal, including hate crime statutes, and others to bring accountability...


ROBINSON: ... and as a potential deterrent. One hopes it`s a deterrent when people start going to jail.

Beyond that, we combat speech with nontoxic speech with non-toxic speech. And Congress and others should speak out with what`s happening, which is just atrocious, atrocious. It`s not fair.

We -- it`s true of Black Lives Matter. It`s true of all communities that are being persecuted. I mean, no justice, no peace should be the way we think about this going forward.

MELBER: Yes, and that there`s a -- as tragic as it is, there`s an opportunity here to be the right side of history, to be in a multiracial, open-minded coalition, to see some of that interconnectivity, although it`s very sad to have it at the barrel of a gun.

Both our panelists here stay, because we are tracking some other news on the vaccine, Dr. Fauci in the middle of what looks like a partisan fight, while the president touts 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days since taking office. That`s the good news. Health officials warn the risk is not over.

Indeed, take a look at this, cases rising, over 10 percent in 14 states, and Dr. Fauci testifying. This was today and then ending up clashing with Republican Senator Paul over masks.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): You have had the vaccine, and you`re wearing two masks. Isn`t that theater?


Let`s get down to the facts. When you talk about reinfection, and you don`t keep in the concept of variants, that`s an entirely different ball game. That`s a good reason for a mask.

Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective.


MELBER: Daniella, I would point out that was doctor on doctor. And there`s an area of some debate about how you apply any public health medical rules in the aggregate.

But it didn`t feel like Senator Dr. Paul was channeling his doctor side, but more of his politician side, the way he sounded and that that`s what he wanted to focus on with Fauci.

GIBBS LEGER: Right, the theater that was happening there was completely political theater on the part of Rand Paul, which is what he does.

He doesn`t want to wear a mask. He thinks that people like Dr. Fauci are overreacting. He wants everything to open up. He doesn`t believe in the science. And it just goes to show you can be a doctor, you can even be good at your doctoring, but you`re not a virologist, and you`re not someone like Dr. Fauci who has studied these types of things for decades.

And it`s really -- it`s tiresome to have to listen to him just sit there and bloviate over Dr. Fauci, who knows what he`s talking about. It`s really, really aggravating. And it causes harm, because there are people who listen to him and say, oh, well, I don`t have to wear a mask.

And they`re putting other people`s lives in danger.

MELBER: And if it feels like we`re running through a bunch of different things, it`s because we are. There was a lot of different sort of news coming out of the government today.

Gene, I did want to spotlight on the House floor. Lawmakers are working their way through two different immigration bills sponsored by Democrats in the majority, votes expected tonight, building on the agenda.

Now, yesterday, House Democrats also renewed the Violence Against Women Act. Earlier this month, the House did pass these sweeping voting rights reforms. They`re not law yet. This is the House trying to also push the Senate, where Republicans are expected to obstruct just about anything they can, unless the Senate rules change, an issue we have also been covering.

Now, here`s Republican Lindsey Graham on how hard he would fight to stop those voting reforms I mentioned. Those were what Speaker Pelosi declared the top priority, H.R.1.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you go to the talking filibuster, we will take the floor to stop H.R.1. I would talk until I fell over.



ROBINSON: Well, I think his bluff should be called and the bluff of Mitch McConnell should be called.

And it looks as if the Democratic Caucus in the Senate is not yet ready to get rid of the filibuster entirely. So if the step they can be persuaded to take is to go to a talking filibuster, then they should do it and they should force them to stand on the floor and talk for hours and hours and hours and hours.

And one thing they might want to consider in H.R.1 is to take the voting rights parts of H.R.1 and present them, and force Republicans to just go on record, purely voting against the voting rights of Americans.

And here are other provisions in the bill which I think are good law or would be good law if enacted. But if they want to put Republicans on record, put them on record as being against, purely against the voting rights of Americans.

MELBER: And, Daniella, you have watched this play out. You have worked, I know, with institutionalist Democrats, if we want to call them that, who aren`t sure this is yet the next step.

And I know you plenty of progressive reformers in Washington who say, what are we waiting for? And we had an interesting colloquy last night on the program between people who have similar views on the import of human rights, voting rights, civil rights, but disagreed on this filibuster issue.

Biden, for example, hasn`t come all the way out either. It`s a little tricky.

What do you think is possible here for a caucus that would need 50 votes, plus Harris, to do any change on the rules?

GIBBS LEGER: It seems like we`re headed in the direction that Gene said, that we`re going to take baby steps, but I feel like eventually we are going to have to get rid of the filibuster.

But we will see what happens. We will see if they do this talking filibuster. But, to me, if you`re a member of the Democratic Caucus, and you say you support voting rights, you say you support democratic reforms, you say you support all of these things, and it is only the filibuster that stands in your way of getting it done, then I don`t see how you still support this outdated mechanism.

And let`s remember why the filibuster was put in place in the first place. I just don`t see how you support it, if it`s eventually going to stop all of these wonderful reforms and bills that you claim to support.

MELBER: Well, you just -- you put it so clearly just then. I mean, if you`re not a Senate buff, and you have a bunch of people in a room, and they say, oh, if we could turn on this light switch, all these things would have, the light would come on and be great, and someone says, what do you need to turn it on, and you`re like, well, we just need to agree to turn it on, like, if you`re not into politics, you`re like, wait, the Senate can do this. It just hasn`t yet.

I mean, that`s what it comes down to. I imagine what we be returning to this story more than once.

Gene Robinson and Daniella Gibbs Leger kicking us off tonight, I want to thank you.

Coming up after this short break, you may have noticed it up on the screen, our teaser for what we`re excited to share with you, our special report on COVID`s effect on a generation of Americans who have been hit hard by wars, recessions, debt, and, of course, the Trump presidency.

If the old solutions don`t work, what do we need to learn across all generations? We dig in deep. I hope you will stay with us for our special report, Generation P, next.


MELBER: A year into the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. has seen over 541,000 dead, the vast majority seniors.

Now, COVID can kill anyone, but, statistically, under 3 percent of all COVID deaths were people under age 45, who usually survive an infection and can also spread the virus.

Now, among the many COVID issues, we have seen an age gap in responding to the virus, and some of this generational clash and definitely the media coverage about it has been dramatizing it. Many young people have followed safety rules, while those who flouted them have gotten a lot of attention, coverage and even ridicule.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have probably seen the spring breakers who act as if they are immune to the coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just turned 21 this year, so I`m here to party, then trying to get drunk before everything closes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her friends ignored city leaders` call for social distancing, hanging out privately and publicly. She caught the virus from a friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day. I`m not going to let it stop me from partying.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": One college student taking a cheap flight to New York told reporters: "I feel like, if the coronavirus would get even more serious and like wipe out a large amount of people, I might as well be somewhere having fun."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re hearing reports of young people out in the streets and still doing the normal gathering. And don`t do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Millennials are the key to spreading this, Jon.


MELBER: Now, in demography, we hear about generations being declared by age and title.

So, what they call Generation Z includes people under 24 right now. Millennials are the next group over 25 years old. And that`s one way to think about any generation or cohort.

Another is to look at what people go through, what they live through during a formative time, the huge altering events that research shows have a larger impact on people of a certain formative age, be it the Great Depression, or the Cold War, racing against Russia with the moon landing, or 9/11.

And American leaders often try to summon the people up against that, those very generations, to act.


FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ask you to demonstrate, to demonstrate again your faith in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): She`s making history, working for victory, Rosie the Riveter.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We choose to go to the moon in this decade not because they are easy, but because they are hard.


MELBER: And for everyone going up against this national crisis, though, America obviously did not have the those kinds of leaders in charge. That certainly didn`t help.

But, over time, other parts of our society have been stepping up, well beyond government, from medical professionals, to scientific innovators, to all the resilience and ingenuity on display, to what is now, despite all the tragic deaths, the fastest march to effective vaccines ever.

And, as these vaccines begin our road to renewal, we, of course, started by prioritizing the older generation, seniors. And that makes sense. But it`s also worth taking stock of how this has affected what might come to be known as the pandemic generation.

Now, this is not a competition. Everyone knows certain groups did not pay the most with their lives if they were under -- as I said earlier, under about 60.

But, as a demographic fact, this crisis is hitting young people in their particularly formative years, upending not only, of course, their socialize, as those media reports emphasized, but a key period for learning and developing and deciding on life and career goals that may shape decades ahead in their lives.

And while older Americans are more likely to be in long-term relationships or family units, many people under 25 are likely to have braved a lot of this more alone, while being told to avoid people, which right out the gate raises a particular challenge for these young people`s outlook and health and mental health.


JORDYN BLACKBURN, YOUNG PERSON: The stress kind of just kept piling on.

DYLLAN BLACKBURN, YOUNG PERSON: I was kind of upset and depressed in the middle of quarantine.

MARLA FREZZA, FORMER BARTENDER: What I`m experienced to do no longer pertains to the world that we`re living in right now.

TRACI NEAL, FORMER PRE-KINDERGARTEN AIDE: The opportunities are not there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isolation, depression, anxiety, mental health crises, courtesy of a college experience stripped almost entirely of campus life, tradition and structure, on top of a pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do know three people that have taken their life the past few months just because of this situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s crippling, so I`m going through this quarantine alone.


MELBER: For America to rebound, this pandemic generation needs to rebound after not only the upheaval of a once-in-a-century-type challenge, but also, it turns out, after some larger systemic problems that were already hitting young people in America more than past generations.

So, this is pretty important when you widen out. If you`re hearing this and thinking, yes, but, Ari, in the pandemic, many of us were going through something similar. This was hard on all of us. Sure, that is fair.

But the demographic point here, which matters for recovery, is actually broader, which is why this is our special report now.

This generation is gearing up to return to work facing many of the same problems it also faced before lockdown, when they were one of the first generations in the modern era to face an economy that was measurably tougher on them in key respects than their parents` generation, the one that came before.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Eighty -- 95 percent of baby boomers did better than their parents. It`s now just a coin toss for millennials. We have a real crises in our country.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): A ticking time bomb for our economy.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): At a time when the middle class is disappearing.

DAVE RAMSEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, THE LAMPO GROUP, INC.: Thirty-three percent, one in three, 25-to-29-year-olds live with their parents or grandparents.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Fewer millennials are entering the middle class than previous generations.


MELBER: Things are actually getting worse.

And it may not sound obviously true to everyone, partly because some of these youth challenges get less attention, because young people have fewer voices and advocates in national politics or media, and for another reason. And here it is.

Math is hard. And multidecade inflation math is really hard.

Look, I went into law and journalism for a reason. But even before we get into the politics are some bad faith arguments, some people in older generations might casually think, well, we faced a tough job market and I remember low wages and student debt as well. And we did at whatever generation, 40s, 50s, 60s.

But some of those were not as bad as they are for young people today right now as a mathematical fact. Consider the same math mistake that Republican Senator John Thune recently made. He, as a young person, earned today`s equivalent of a $20 minimum wage back when he was younger, but he remembers it for an arbitrary number then, $6, which had literally $20 worth of today`s buying power, which led him to this misleading claim based on innumeracy.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I worked for less than the minimum wage. I work for the minimum wage. I started busing tables at $1 an hour, and then I finally made it to cook, which was big time. That was six bucks an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator John Thune said he opposed the $15 minimum wage because he used to give by on six bucks an hour as a young man.

But that was like 40 years ago, when rent was like $1.



MELBER: Basically true.

And you don`t have to be a Republican opposing that wage to slip into this kind of thinking. There`s a fair amount of lecturing of young people these days by often older people telling them to work hard and pay off your debts, like we did.

But some of that ignores that today`s students, if they want to do what past generations did, like pay for their college, facts, they actually have to work twice as hard, because college costs over double what it used to. It has doubled its price from about 30 years ago. And this was a spike before the pandemic.

Or, in just the last 10 years, America`s debt has gone up by $3 trillion, largely carried by graduating students. Student debt is the second biggest driver. It actually eclipses credit card debt or car loans.

And the job market has also shifted long term from more reliably stable careers, where even blue-collar workers could be with an employer reasonably for eight or 10 or 12 years or more, to higher job mobility and a gig economy that really makes it hard to achieve a stable income, let alone plan for 10- and 20-year financial goals.

This is not about whether these younger people work hard. This is about what work is available. So, generation pandemic already had this uphill battle before the pandemic, which also hit these young people harder.

Younger people are more likely to work at in person jobs, which, of course, have been hit. At one point, up to a quarter of them were unemployed. That is a rate of job loss that at its peak was worse than older workers, people under 25 twice as likely to be without work because of COVID than every other adult group.

And it`s not like the first weeks of reopening the economy will immediately wipe out challenges like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young people 18-to-34 years old are disproportionately losing their jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gen Z and millennials maybe the worst-hit so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The businesses you have seen around you closed down, restaurants, bars, hospitality. And a lot of those employ 18-to-35-year-old crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santiago was laid off from a movie theater, Mauricio furloughed from his job as a chef.


MELBER: This is a huge problem. It`s hard to even get our minds about -- around about it.

I mean, everyone remembers the 2008 financial crash, which felt huge. Then, about 15 percent of younger workers lost their jobs. But it`s worse today. And for people in their 30s, that`s a one-two punch.

They were set back by that huge crash, which some economists called a lost decade of wealth-building for millennials. Well, now they`re hit again, if they are in this problem, and the 20-somethings are now facing something that`s measurably worse than that original crash, which looked so horrific.

Now, if those 30-somethings did manage to buy a home, great. Then that wealth will build for them, because it`s been rising. But for those that didn`t, well, they`re still in this trap and in the American real estate market of facing rising rents. You can see, even in a pandemic recession, rent is going up, which hits the young and poor harder.

The majority of young Americans report regular feelings of anxiety about all of this financial stuff, younger people more vulnerable to housing instability. And over one out of 10 adults have lost homes, one out of five falling behind on rent or mortgage payments among the young.

Now, older Americans have some other benefits of time, of investments, of interest. We checked. Their rate of foreclosure and late payments is much lower right now, closer to 2 percent.

This is a tough picture. Facing a virus that mostly kills the elderly, it is still logical that many policies put them first. But, again, tonight, we`re looking at the whole picture. At times, seniors have been prioritized so dramatically for this past year that there`s even a new "South Park" vaccine special which jokes about how the elderly have kind of become the coolest people as far as public policy is concerned.

While others wait in line, seniors are the first to be admitted behind the velvet rope on their way into Club Walgreens.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Come on, man, it`s ridiculous that people can`t get in.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You`re not getting in. You`re wasting your time.

Oh, hello, ma`am. Right this way.





MELBER: That`s great.

And the point there, I think, is not to bash any particular age group, but look at policy, look at what`s happening.

And nobody here -- at least I`m not suggesting that seniors shouldn`t go first in the vaccine line. But we do, as a society, in a democracy have to look at how everyone`s affected for this rebound.

Because young people are so resistant to the virus` effects that, yes, they are more likely to spread it unknowingly, because they may not even feel the symptoms, as the WHO reports.

But we all need to be accurate and fair before turning that scientific fact into a punitive narrative. Spreading it by accident is different than reckless spring breaking. Older adults can do it too.

And another reason that we have seen this spreading relates to the economic issues I have just been discussing. Many privileged people do want to stay home if they can. Many other people in America can`t even afford to this past year.

So, on an economic basis, the richest Americans stay home half the time since COVID hit, while the poorest only a third of the time. This is a picture of a class divide that matches the income divide. Young people have far less net worth with less time in the job market.

And they comprise most or about half of in person jobs, for example, in retail and hospitality and one-third of health and education jobs, which can help in a pandemic.

That`s why reports note that millennials and Gen Z are basically partly conscripted into spreading the virus, because they have the jobs with the brunt of the transmission risk that comes with keeping the economy going.

So, remember how we began this report tonight, showing all that attention and criticism on the spring breakers? And those incidents have happened in some places. But anecdotes are not data. Beyond those millions of young people doing essential work, where guidelines are followed, young people mostly follow the rules, if you look overall. Most young people report, for example, always wearing a mask outside.

Now, you take this together, and it`s a lot. What do we make of it, beyond trying to make sure we`re fair when we talk about different generations? How do we apply these facts as everyone of all ages prepares to rebound?

Well, that brings us to the conclusion of this report when we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: Now to the conclusion of our special report on Generation Pandemic.

If you take all these facts we just walked through, if you put aside any effort at any grievance Olympics, it`s clear there`s just a lot of evidence that it is hard out here for a millennial, or a Gen Z, or a Gen P or whatever we call this cohort.

And while that "South Park" set of punchlines are just goofy and funny, the point, again, is not that seniors should be anything but the priority in the medical policies for a virus that is more deadly to them than anyone else.

Yet, even before COVID, we are dealing with systems that are not totally fair when it comes to age. For all the talk about diversifying Congress, which has begun to happen in several ways, let`s keep in mind it is a remarkably old institution. The median American is 38. The median member of Congress is 60.

Both branches of government are now run by seniors aged 70, 78 and 80. Out in the courts, well, half the justices on the Supreme Court are 66 or older, seniors.

And I want to be very clear tonight this is about representation. I am not trafficking in any hint of ageism. Some of my favorite people are a little bit older, like my parents.

But we do, as a matter of policy, live in a gerontocracy, which is literally defined as a state governed by old people. And that`s just not the case in all democracies today. And while the new COVID relief bill does do a lot for everyone -- we have reported on that -- and it has money for all age groups and for vaccines and for schools, amidst all $2 trillion of that dollars, the bill did not resolve some of those key items mentioned that impact young people, like no big change in the minimum wage, no relief for student debt.

Now, some Democrats are saying they hope that one tax shift in that bill could help cut student debt in the future, and those fights go on. But Congress didn`t zero in on every generation equally.

As these fights continue, of course, it`s also interesting to note there are intergenerational alliances pushing for young people.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: It is unjust, and it is a burden that no generation before had to encounter to the scale and the level that ours has.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): You will be helped by seeing student loan debt canceled.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Forgive all student loan debt.

SANDERS: This is an incredible burden on millions and millions of young people.


MELBER: Now, that`s just one of the policy choices ahead in what we reported, how much harder it is to pay for your own college today than it used to be.

But, beyond policy, if this year has taught us anything, it`s much deeper. This virus was a stress test of our government, our politics, our society, our collaboration, our collective empathy. We needed a majority to prize empathy and safety for a virus that primarily killed seniors, which means, if you weren`t a senior, you had to do things empathetically for other people.

But now as we turn towards renewal in the years ahead, we also need empathy for a situation that, as you have seen tonight, is measurably harder in some ways on young people, who had less than in the bank to handle this, who may take longer to rebound it from mid-career people with homes and savings.

And yet, we need young people to continue this grand experiment. In fact, it goes even broader than that. Many are taught to respect our elders because of their experience and their earned station in life, which is good counsel.

But we should also remember to listen to younger people, if for no other reason than that they are the ones with the ability to see anew, because experience is good, but it also brings us limits in what we are able to see.

And that`s got to be true for building this world ahead of us, with so many things changing.

It`s a point that`s actually been made throughout our history by some of our younger presidents, who reflected on some of their even younger supporters. And it might be easy to forget now, but, back then, when he was a first-term senator, Barack Obama trailed his rival by a lot when he made his first bid to run for president.

At the time, it was well-documented many older voters initially thought Obama could not win, or it wasn`t his time yet. And then that began to shift with who? With young voters. They immediately saw something that many of the rest of us didn`t. And then they did more. They prodded their parents and others to join them.

How do we know? Well, that was polling, there were stories, there was reporting. But it was a big enough deal that it is something the newly elected President Barack Obama reflected on publicly when he trotted out on inauguration night, on that big night, to what was then called the Youth Ball to share how he knew that and what it meant for the future.

So, on this journey tonight, thinking about this set of generations and the youth, he gets the last word.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Young people everywhere are in the process of imagining something different than what has come before.


OBAMA: Where they imagine bigotry, they imagine togetherness.

Where there`s disease, they imagine a public health system. I can`t tell you how many people have come up to Michelle and myself and said: I was kind of skeptical. But then my daughter, she -- she wouldn`t budge. She just told me I needed to vote for Obama.


OBAMA: And so a new generation inspired previous generations. And that`s how change happens in America.




MELBER: Returning with more news on a story that began our broadcast tonight.

This explosive confrontation in Congress today during this hearing on anti- Asian hate crimes comes in the wake of the deadly shooting in Atlanta, Republican Congressman Roy expressing a concern about what he dubbed freedom of speech protections, and then invoking lynching.

His remarks met with a strong response from Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng, who was also a formal witness in the hearing. She`s about to join me.

For context, here`s the exchange.


ROY: Right. There`s old sayings in Texas about find the all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.

My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric.

MENG: Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don`t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids.

This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.


MELBER: Congressman Roy has said he has no apologies, not backing down today.

We`re joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng of New York.

Thank you for being here.

I`d like to just start with two questions. One, your thoughts on the exchange and what people need to know, the benefit of dealing with that, and, then, two, what do you want to impart for viewers who may have been at work or not seen the whole hearing about what is subsequently important to convey, particularly at this time?

MENG: First of all, thank you, Ari, for having me. And thanks for covering this topic.

And, by the way, I don`t need his apology.

I just thought that Mr. Roy was so insensitive and completely missed the point of today`s hearing. This Judiciary Subcommittee hearing, which had bipartisan formal witnesses, by the way, Congress members from both the Republican and the Democratic side, and he completely missed the point.

And I just didn`t want him to take away from the focus of the hearing.

MELBER: And please continue.

So, that sort of dovetails with the second question of, what should viewers, American citizens know about the focus of the hearing?

MENG: Well, today`s hearing -- and I`m really thankful for it -- our Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, under Chairwoman Chu, pushed for this hearing.

We wanted to hear the stories about what was going on around this country, hatred. And these types of incidents towards Asian Americans, it`s not necessarily a new phenomenon, but the number of incidents have skyrocketed during this past year.

And a lot of it is as a result of the rhetoric from the former president of the United States. And so we want to make sure that we are talking about this issue. We want to make sure that we`re looking for solutions. We`re pushing legislation, two bills that are directed towards hopefully making it easier for people to report these crimes, and also to help fund, better fund our community organizations, who are literally on the ground dealing with these issues.

MELBER: Understood.

I also wanted to get your views to weigh in on the law enforcement response. I suppose it`s very sad to say this, but in many areas where we see discrimination or racism, there is a kind of a template, a kind of a double standard. We have reported on it quite extensively on THE BEAT.

And one of the hallmarks is a -- rather than everything being, say, strict to everyone -- you can debate whether a policy should be strict, but it`s strict across the board -- it`s enforced selectively, as you know and I think viewers know.

And here we saw this pattern again with regard to the sheriff`s office basically talking about whether this person indicted for killing was just having a -- quote -- "bad day."

So, first of all, here`s them trying to explain that. Take a look.


JAY BAKER, CHEROKEE COUNTY, GEORGIA, SHERIFF: He understood the gravity of it, and he was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope. And yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.


MELBER: So that that`s the -- quote, unquote -- bad day.

They have now tried to distance themselves from that or call it a problem of word choice. But, again, for folks to understand, and then we want to hear you, I just want to put on the factual record, but this is also an officer that then has -- had engaged publicly in basically anti-Asian sentiment before.

And so I mentioned the sad echo of other groups that have run up against this, where it doesn`t seem like, even in the face of a documented killing, that the police are being as strict at all or as fair at all.

Your thoughts on all of that?

MENG: Sure.

Well, first, our hearts really go out to the families and the loved ones of the victims who died in Atlanta, eight victims, six who were Asian American women.

And, of course, I was upset to hear language like that coming from the Cherokee County sheriff`s mouth about having a bad day. And we have seen already his previous Facebook posts, where he apparently likes to use the same type of language that the former president and the Republican Party like to use, words that lead to the emboldening of these types of hateful incidents.

And so I`m thankful hearing from Atlanta P.D. today that they are still looking into it. I believe they said that the investigation is not over.

And that`s another reason why we are pushing these two pieces of legislation. We want to give the Department of Justice, we want to have them give more resources to the community and more guidelines to local law enforcement as to how, maybe, how to better investigate these hate incidents.

MELBER: Understood.

Congresswoman Meng, I want to thank you for making time. I know it was a busy day and, in some ways, quite a day.

Thank you very much.

Up ahead here on THE BEAT: Trump`s legal pressure as a citizen growing, the New York case, and a big witness you might remember speaking again to the feds.


MELBER: There`s a lot going on, but we also wanted to give you this update, new developments tonight in New York`s criminal case against citizen Donald Trump.

Tomorrow, his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen speaking to Manhattan DA`s investigators. This is actually the eighth time that that kind of conversation is going on for what must be, sounds like, a complex probe into Donald Trump`s finances.

The DA also hiring a mafia prosecutor who brought down mob boss John Gotti once known as also the Teflon Don, a nickname shared by Trump and the rapper Rick Ross. That label, though, was political for Trump. We will see if it holds up legally now that he`s lost so much of the protections of being president.

And the pressure is mounting in all sorts of ways, "The Washington Post" also reporting Donald Trump faces at least six investigations and 29 lawsuits, which include legal cases against Trump for what he just got off of in the impeachment case, his actions on January 6.

But that doesn`t mean it`s the end, because some of that same evidence is coming back to haunt him in those civil cases.

Also, the FBI releasing never-before-seen videos of rioters attacking law enforcement. This was part of the search for suspects.

A warning: The videos are graphic.

This is the Justice Department now overseen by President Biden, but, as you saw there, the FBI using its normal protocol,, seeking information the on faces of those individuals wanted potentially for major crimes at the Capitol.

We will keep you updated on all of these stories.

And, tonight, we`re back with one more thing.


MELBER: Finally tonight, President Biden announcing the U.S. hitting a major milestone in the push to get everyone vaccinated.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we took office, there was a lot that had to be done. Needed more vaccines, more vaccinators, more places for people to get vaccinated. And we needed a whole-of-government approach.

And I`m proud to announce that, tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met my goal of administering 100 million shots to our fellow Americans.

We`re going to beat this. We`re way ahead of schedule. But we have got a long way to go.


MELBER: Facts.

As America hits these milestones, younger people will start to be more eligible for vaccines, which dovetails with our special report tonight.

If you have thoughts about this generational challenge ahead, you can always reach out to me @AriMelber on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, @AriMelber, and we can talk through what the generations can do together.