Federal authorities raid the home and office of Rudy Giuliani. President Biden is set to address a joint session of Congress for the first time.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Nicolle. We will be watching. And see you soon.
Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber reporting breaking news on Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani just saw his home and office raided early this morning by the feds, a major escalation in a criminal probe of the prominent Trump lawyer by the legal office he used to lead as a prosecutor.
This is a major story. We`re going to walk you through what it means tonight right now. It`s definitely bad news for Giuliani. And it may prove to be bad news for Donald Trump. Now, we`re learning a lot about what Giuliani faces. The feds executed a lawful search warrant, which means a judge determined there is reason to believe that Giuliani has evidence of a crime.
Investigators seizing his phone and other electronics, including his laptop and his iPad. A source telling CNBC that the building doorman escorted the feds into Giuliani`s New York City apartment. We know the probe includes alleged crimes regarding the first election plot that got Donald Trump impeached way back in the day, that O.G. impeachment.
It was a sordid and ultimately failed effort to try to get Ukraine, a foreign country, to meddle in our election by ginning up a fake investigation to attack the Bidens. Now, the feds are probing a key propaganda channel that relates to that plot, Giuliani`s talks with a conservative writer who pushed that Ukraine dirt, according to "The Wall Street Journal."
Now, we did a special report on that effort a while back. It probed Giuliani`s odd and sometimes bizarre attempts to hype specifically that writer who now figures into this probe for pushing Ukraine conspiracy theories about Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Ukrainians brought me substantial evidence of Ukrainian collusion with Hillary Clinton, the DNC, George Soros.
John Solomon, who should get a Pulitzer Prize, by the way, put them all on tape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, throughout the Trump era, former prosecutor Giuliani acted in ways that seemed bizarre, reckless, or like he really thought he was legally bulletproof.
That includes the public Ukraine trip with right-wing media outlet OAN, where he admitted what he was up to, plotting against the Bidens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America`s mayor stepped foot in Ukraine for the first time in two years.
GIULIANI: There`s evidence in the Ukraine of collusion. Biden is involved in it. I can prove somebody else committed the crime. And that`s why I started it.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: So, you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?
GIULIANI: Of course I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Of course he did.
But more evidence is emerging tonight about why Giuliani appeared to act with such impunity. "The New York Times" reports the suspicious development that these independent prosecutors up in New York had been trying to search Giuliani since last year and reports that they thought they had the goods for this, this raid they did today, back then.
But top Trump officials repeatedly blocked their legal request for a warrant to search Giuliani`s home. First, there was the citation to the upcoming election, then Trump officials blocking it again after the election. Indeed, this "New York Times" bombshell about today`s raid ends with a passage that reinforces something important and something I want you to keep in mind tonight.
It reinforces how much of the damage to law enforcement by Donald Trump in that now ended era still hangs over the government today. "The Times" reports political appointees in Trump`s Justice Department sought once more to block the warrant.
And after the election, Trump was still contesting election results in several states, a legal effort being led by Mr. Giuliani.
Let`s be clear about what that means. Donald Trump tried several different plots to cheat in the election and to go after Biden. He tried to cheat against Biden before there was any voting, with Giuliani pushing this Ukraine probe that`s now under investigation.
And Trump tried to cheat after the vote, after the vote that beat Donald Trump, with the same lawyer, Giuliani, going around the country trying to find people to help change vote tallies, and find votes in Georgia and stop the electors, ultimately leading to the violent and failed insurrection to stop those electors on the last possible day, on that formal certification day of January 6.
You remember it. We remember it. The president is going to speak about it at some point tonight, we`re told. We all lived through it.
But, today, with this legal news, we are learning that, during much of that time, prosecutors were originally pushing to get live evidence from Giuliani, who was protected, reportedly, by Trump`s aides as Giuliani fought to keep Trump in power illegally.
They tried to end American democracy and overthrow the election.
Even today, if I sit here and say that fact to you on the news, it sounds sort of extreme to say, but it`s what they tried. It was extreme. Trump remains under criminal investigation for that plot in Georgia right now. And Giuliani is under increasing, heavier pressure right now.
And then if you factor in and recall that increasingly desperate, baroque and unhinged set of performances by Giuliani as those legal lines to contest the race, closed up in December and January.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Those are the ballots that were stuck in the machine eight times, nine times, 10 times.
All the networks. Wow. All the networks.
I don`t know what the vote in Michigan is.
Our vote is owned by two Venezuelans who are allies of Chavez.
Let`s have a trial by combat.
Did you all watch "My Cousin Vinny"? You know the movie?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Did you all watch?
It looked downright bonkers at times. It would have been absurdly funny, if it wasn`t so serious.
But, as bonkers as it was, it also now makes a tad more sense tonight, from Giuliani`s perspective, because the desperate lawyer knew that, with his prize client out of the White House, he would lose his legal bulletproof vest. His client could no longer pardon him for anything that only he knows whether he did or not.
And Giuliani already had reason then to worry, because his own indicted associates in the Ukraine problems had already flipped and were speaking out against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump know exactly what was going on. I wouldn`t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.
GIULIANI: The president of the United States, I can tell you this, is asking for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The president`s asking for it, his lawyer is pursuing it, and the feds are looking at it.
Now, Giuliani denies any wrongdoing tonight. And we have more of his response coming up.
But he is the second Trump lawyer to find the feds raiding his home. This is the second time Donald Trump has found his top lawyer needs a criminal defense lawyer.
This time, Donald Trump has no federal power, no privileges, no immunities to speak of.
Want to bring in our special guests on this big breaking story.
Joining me now is John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor, you can see here once worked directly with Rudy Giuliani in the famed Southern District of New York, and Joan Walsh from "The Nation" magazine, who has covered many of these stories throughout the Trump era and beyond.
Good to have you both here.
John, how bad is it and how much trouble is Giuliani in, based on this news?
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think he`s saying to himself, geez, I wish I`d asked for that pardon. I really could use that now.
I think he`s in a lot of trouble. And I think that the combination of Lev and Igor, what they were doing has always implicated Rudy, because it made no sense to give those funds, according to the first indictment, except to affect what was going on in Ukraine.
Let me explain. Rudy wanted to get rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch. She was in the way. And the first indictment against Lev and Igor and company involved these Ukrainians, and had a section devoted to Pete Sessions` role as one of the people who received contributions and that he was going to write to the secretary of state, Pompeo, and urge him to get rid of Yovanovitch.
Now, what people haven`t paid attention to is, there was a superseding indictment. And that superseding indictment came down in September of 2020. And the references to Ukraine and the references to Peter Sessions and so forth are all muted.
Now let`s go back a little bit. I don`t know when they squelched the first effort to get a search warrant during the Trump administration when Barr was in charge. But you may remember, in June, I think it was June the 20th of 2020, the U.S. attorney, Berman, was kicked out the door.
MELBER: Yes. We covered it.
FLANNERY: And then three months later, we have the superseding indictment.
So, we have a lot of things going on here. We have a target. And I believe he`s at least the subject of investigation. Target technically means we have enough to indict him. So, we have a subject of investigation. We have him saying on camera: Right here in my cell phone, I have all the information about everything that happened in Ukraine right here. It`s all here.
Well, the question is that what they got on the search today? And if not, because he`s been investigated for a long time, with the aid of a former assistant, whom I know well, Bob Costello, did he destroy what was on that phone, which is another offense?
FLANNERY: He`s in trouble.
MELBER: Let me jump in, John.
MELBER: Whether or not he tried to destroy it, if it`s digital communications, they have a lot of different measures to try to claw that back.
MELBER: Before I bring Joan in, you did mention, John, the talk of both the squelching of warrants, the protection that he may have gotten from what was the Trump/Barr DOJ, and then his public claims, oh, he didn`t even want a pardon.
MELBER: Here`s briefly what he said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What is your response to claims that you`re seeking a pardon?
GIULIANI: I`m not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He denied that then.
FLANNERY: Not so funny now.
MELBER: Well, John, when you say he`s a subject and potentially a target, and you look at all this piling up, is there, in your view, a secondary scandal...
MELBER: ... that the Justice Department may have crossed the line in trying to protect him? Or do you think it`s possible that they made a good- faith decision to block the war and this new Garland Justice Department just came down on a different side?
FLANNERY: Well, given the history of Barr, as a spokesperson and foil for Trump in every situation, and given that this was the friend, the lawyer, the advocate, that is, Rudy Giuliani, it makes sense that they thought they would try to protect him.
So, my starting point, my hypothetical that I would test as an investigation was, who in the department was involved in the decision not to approve that search warrant, what the correspondence was, and what they did.
FLANNERY: That is an investigation that has to happen.
MELBER: Yes. And that would be...
FLANNERY: And the Southern district, we have to look again at the firing, yes.
And when you look at also the firing in that same district, that`s definitely ripe for the inspector general and Congress to look at. Again, I don`t think we can prejudge it.
MELBER: "The Times" just explains why it`s -- quote -- "suspicious."
MELBER: Joan, you have followed the Giuliani of it all for so long, the second lawyer for Donald Trump who now needs a lawyer.
Your views on all this?
JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION": Well, today is like the legal equivalent for Rudy of the Total Seasons Landscaping meltdown, where he had the hair dye dripping.
He`s -- we haven`t seen him yet today, Ari, but somewhere he`s sweating. He knows he`s in trouble. And you guys have the legal issues covered so well. I just want to stick to the politics for a minute and, even beyond politics, what this says about our democracy and the assault on our democracy that we have endured, that we endured under the Trump administration.
I mean, it really is striking that Rudy is at the heart of, first of all, taking -- perhaps taking foreign money to get foreign dirt on Joe Biden, Trump`s likely opponent, doing whatever he could, again, anti-democracy, not anti-Democrat, anti-democracy, leads to the first impeachment. Congratulations, Rudy.
And then he`s involved, he`s at the heart of the second impeachment, and then the second and third assault on democracy, leading the charge to get various election results overturned. It`s laughable. We laugh. We show him shoving in the ballots, and this is what they did. And there`s the hair dye and all that, that we saw.
But, as you said, it`s really not funny. And then there`s the third contribution, which is, as you showed, he went and incited violence on the day that five people were killed in a riot, in the first kind of insurrection of its kind.
So it would be funny, except it`s really dangerous.
And I just want to add one more thing about Bill Barr. You guys have the legal side covered. But that`s what jumped out at me. We don`t know why. We could try to give him the benefit of the doubt that there were really good reasons to turn down these warrants, something was fishy.
I don`t believe that for a second. I don`t think you do either.
But I also found myself thinking about, why did it take 49 days for the Republicans to confirm Merrick Garland? I mean, I don`t know that there`s anything there. But I looked it up. It took 19 days to confirm Jeff Sessions, who was a much more controversial choice, honestly.
And so you saw this bizarre stonewalling. First, they won`t let the man on the Supreme Court. Then it looks like maybe they`re not going to let -- give him a confirmation hearing on this. They finally did. He was confirmed, but it was day 49.
And I find that fascinating, too, because once Merrick Garland gets in there, a lot of things happen fast.
MELBER: Yes, and, Joan, you mentioned the politics of it is also simply the democracy of it, which is trying to cheat in an election is a huge deal, whether or not prosecutors later find that it was at such a high bar that it`s worth going forward with indicting people like a lawyer, which has extra clearance processes, for good reasons.
There`s reasons why it`s harder to even execute this search, although they cleared that bar, clearly, today. And whether or not you indict a politician or former president, right, those can be debatable legal questions.
But on the democracy front, Joan, walk us through what it means that everyone bear witness to just how dirty and reckless and brazen this multiweek effort was after the votes were in to steal the race.
WALSH: Well, it was brazen, and it was hilarious, and it was defeated. And even some Republicans in the states -- there were more Republicans in the states, Ari, that stood up to Trump, that stood up to Giuliani, that said, no, we have audited, we audited, we audited, we have looked at this, we`d love to find it -- that it turned out different, but it didn`t, than Republicans in the House or Senate, for sure.
And the fact that Rudy Giuliani was at the heart of it periodically made it more ridiculous, right? We laughed at certain things. But it was so brazen. And it was so thuggish. It`s just -- it`s a thuggish way of operating that we heard all along during the Trump administration, but Giuliani was just - - he thought he was unstoppable.
And I will also say, when he laughs about the pardon, that`s the tell to me he wanted a pardon. And I don`t know why he didn`t get one. But he wanted a pardon. And now he didn`t get one, and here we are.
MELBER: Well, here we are. And there were other people like Steve Bannon and others involved in clashes with the president who still ultimately got their legal salvation. He didn`t, which is really striking.
John Flannery and Joan Walsh, thank you both for kicking us off here.
FLANNERY: Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up tonight, my special report from inside the White House, an exclusive, with aides giving us a preview of tonight`s speech and a lot more.
But, first, James Carville is here live -- when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: The big Biden speech is tonight.
And we`re back with someone who knows his way around high-stakes presidential speeches, former strategist to Bill Clinton, the great James Carville.
Good to have you, sir.
JAMES CARVILLE, MSNBC ELECTION ANALYST: Why, thank you, Ari. Always good to be here.
James, I will share with you what I mentioned to viewers last night. I was just at the White House, where aides believe this night can be crucial to Biden`s next spending package.
MELBER: And that report is coming up shortly in this hour of THE BEAT.
But I want to share right now for your analysis this early leak of the speech, which is a bit of a tradition, where Biden, we`re told, will say tonight: "Wall Street didn`t build this country. The middle class built this country and unions built the middle class."
Walk us through what we`re learning here, James, about where this speech is headed.
CARVILLE: But this is a revolutionary presidency. It just -- he`s a very modest guy, and people kind of like that.
But, I mean, he`s really trying to change the equation of power in this country. The union power has been just -- along with wage in this country, has gone through the floor for most people. And he`s actually trying to do things through the tax code, through other things, to really change the power dynamic in the United States.
And it needs to be changed. I mean, inequality was just off the charts. And everybody knew it, and no one wanted to do anything about it. And so he just stepped in. And he says, I`m going to use the power of the federal government to try to change the power dynamic in the United States to give ordinary people more power than they had, because it was -- the power was declining since the `50s and 60s.
So I think he`s addressing a real problem in modern America. And that is a very few people have almost all the power in this country.
MELBER: Yes, you say a few people have all the power. And that`s both true at the economic level. There`s also a great rift growing within the Republican Party that Biden in these early days seems to be able to exploit, which is voters in the Republican ranks have welcomed parts of the domestic spending, the stimulus checks, the first COVID package, while their elected officials don`t.
And I want to air now for the first time -- as mentioned, we were at the White House. And I asked the White House communications director about this in the context of who may be standing or sitting through this speech. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Are we going to continue to see this split, where President Biden can outline a spending or a support program and see that support in the country, but somehow not from any Republicans in Congress?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You know, I think this is an interesting question, because I think this is one for -- in many ways for Republicans on Capitol Hill to answer.
A lot of Republicans across the country, in fact, in many cases, a majority of Republican voters, say they support the plans that President Biden`s putting forward. I think they will have to go home and explain to their constituents why they`re opposing it.
So I think it`s in many ways a question for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: James, your view on the sheer politics here of what the White House communications office is pressing here, and whether we`re going to hear that from the president tonight, put Republican officials on their heels because he has some of their voters?
CARVILLE: Yes, I agree.
I think if he just forges here and talks about empowering middle-class and lower-middle-class people, talks about -- a lot of people, Republicans, support these higher taxes on the wealthy. Most of their voters have really struggled and have really suffered as a result of the inequality and the declining wages that we have out there.
So I think he just needs to talk to Republican voters tonight, not to Republican legislators. Republican voters will, in the end, speak to Republican legislators.
Look, I would go right to -- and all -- if you get 10, 15 percent of the Republican voters behind you, then you change sea level. The little results produce big things. And he is addressing what strikes me and most people, inequality and climate -- I know there`s a third problem that the United States has, but those two seem to dwarf everything else, in my mind and I think a lot of voters` minds.
MELBER: You know, James, we come to you because of what you know, but we also come to you because of what you have lived through.
I was always raised to respect the elders, especially the ones who have done the work.
MELBER: And so I`m thinking about that because here we are at a time of tremendous disruption. We all know life has changed a lot this past year and this past decade, and technology and everything.
And yet Americans did lean in, first in the primary and then in the general, to someone who had done the work. Joe Biden has been around. He did support Obama. He did work in the Senate. He really did play by these rules.
And so, with that in mind, on this big historic night, we want to draw on your experience.
Take a look at just something we pulled, kind of interesting, all the way back to the Reagan era, 1983, a younger Joe Biden with the Democratic response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can criticize the Republicans. And we will. We think, frankly, though, it`s time we put up or shut up.
A very positive and hopeful Democratic view, a vision of America that says we can rebuild to a stronger economy, we can create better and more secure jobs, and we can really put this country back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What do you see there, James?
CARVILLE: Well, I see a guy that`s not even two years older than me.
CARVILLE: So, I`m kind of in a time warp here.
Look, I think remarkably enough, and I have several times been cornered by then Senator Biden on the Metroliner going from Washington, and he would be going up to Wilmington.
And I haven`t talked to President Biden in some time. It`s the same guy that I used to see on the Metroliner in the `80s. I mean, he`s really a -- he`s just -- there`s no surprises with him.
We had Evan Osnos on my podcast, who really covers him has hard as anybody. And people ask me about him, and I say, you`re kind of -- what you see is what you get, and you have been getting the same thing for 40 years.
I mean, I`m sure he`s changed some positions and sort of evolved in his thinking on the big issues of climate and inequality and that kind of stuff. But I think the President Biden you`re going to see tonight is not a whole lot different than the Senator Biden that you saw him these videos that you showed me from a long time ago.
CARVILLE: And I think people sort of like that.
They`re comfortable with that right now.
MELBER: You`re reminding me of, sometimes, I look to wisdom in the poetry of lyrics, James.
And you reminded me of Lecrae, who is an interesting, kind of Christian- themed rapper. And he says, the reason why I sound the same is the truth don`t change.
MELBER: And some of what Biden was saying about the middle class then is true now, or maybe truer than ever.
James, always good to see you, sir.
CARVILLE: Thank you, sir. You bet.
MELBER: Thank you.
Up ahead, we go inside the Biden White House, as promised, looking exclusively at the prep for tonight`s speech.
And I have an exclusive interview later tonight on the Giuliani raid. We will be joined by the former head of the Southern District of New York, which is now investigating and executing search warrants on Rudy Giuliani.
MELBER: Now we turn to our exclusive special report airing for the first time right now, reporting from my visit inside the White House as President Biden and his team prepped his first address to Congress.
MELBER (voice-over): President Biden is about to deliver his first speech to Congress, and final preparations are under way at the White House, where we got a rare chance to report from behind the scenes of this address, with key staff prepping in the West Wing during the pandemic, as others work remotely.
BEDINGFIELD: There`s a huge amount of energy around tonight around the building. Because of the pandemic, of course, we don`t have the full staff on site that we would normally have in a normal year, but we have grown accustomed to -- like everybody in the country who is doing office jobs, we have grown accustomed to working by Zoom.
MELBER: Communications Director Kate Bedingfield and Press Secretary Jen Psaki anticipate a speech that`s historic, for several reasons, including a nearly empty House chamber.
BEDINGFIELD: The empty room is about responsibility. Interacting with people is -- for him, I think is a huge part of how he draws energy.
So it is a challenge.
MELBER (on camera): How do you convey energy through a speech like this to a room that is mostly empty because of safety protocol?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, we have never experienced anything like this before. Neither have you, right? None of us have.
He`s going to do the walk down the aisle. He will be wearing a mask. He will take it off when he`s speaking. There will, of course, be about 200 people in the audience.
But it`s not going to be the same size. And he knows he`s speaking to the audience of millions of people watching at home too.
MELBER (voice-over): Psaki is a familiar presence behind the podium. And she`s been working on the big speech.
(on camera): How many drafts would you say have been through this computer of this speech?
PSAKI: A couple of new every day.
MELBER: Several times a day?
PSAKI: Sometimes, yes.
MELBER (voice-over): As the top spokesperson, Psaki has tapped into a familiar theme for anyone working with this president: Make it clear.
PSAKI: It takes an enormous amount of prep, an enormous amount of grappling through, is this the right language? A lot of it is listening to him talk. Does this sit with how he would talk about this, or is this how he would think about this?
MELBER (on camera): How do you know when he likes a line? How does he engage with the process?
BEDINGFIELD: I can tell you how you know when he doesn`t like a line.
MELBER: The type of thing that he`s most likely to strike is what?
BEDINGFIELD: An acronym. Don`t give him an acronym. He does not want to see an acronym.
PSAKI: There will be no acronyms, I think we confirm, in this speech.
BEDINGFIELD: See, I told you.
MELBER (voice-over): And aides told us that kind of clarity takes time.
BEDINGFIELD: He started on a draft probably two weeks ago. He`s been working on it almost every day with Mike Donilon.
PSAKI: Then he starts to go through drafts, line editing, asking for clarification, wanting more information.
BEDINGFIELD: He`s more of a night owl. He really likes to work in the afternoon and the evening on speeches.
PSAKI: He`s a details guy. And, sometimes, he wants to bring in a policy person and ask more questions about what more he can put in the speech. So that`s the process. It speeds up on the way up to the speech.
MELBER: All those edits aim for more than an eloquent address. This night is the centerpiece of an effort to pass another $2 trillion in spending.
That`s where Biden`s economic team comes in, from Janet Yellen to progressive economist Heather Boushey on the president`s Council of Economic Advisers, which sets the policy behind the address.
(on camera): What is the economic question that the president wants to answer here for the country?
HEATHER BOUSHEY, White House Council of Economic Advisers: President Biden`s focus from the campaign to governing has been, how is it that we can grow and support America`s middle class?
We also have a lot of room to raise taxes, and really make sure that firms can`t just hide their profits overseas, that everybody has to pay their fair share.
MELBER (voice-over): The speechwriters` strategy is to turn that economic plan into a crisp choice for a nation still battling the many costs of the pandemic.
(on camera): How can America afford the next round?
PSAKI: How could we not afford it is how we answer it. The president looks at the country and he sees 10 million people still out of work. He sees the fact that we still have people dying every day of COVID.
We have made a lot of progress. But part of what this speech is going to focus on is all the work we have ahead.
MELBER (voice-over): And Biden has seen his share of these addresses.
PSAKI: He served 36 years in the Senate. He`s attended this speech as vice president for eight years. Of anyone, he knows exactly what this opportunity is.
MELBER: But this time, he`s moving a few feet forward to center stage. And those two spots behind the president, the top officials in the line of succession, will be filled for the first time ever by two women, a historic moment that aides say Biden will formally mark on the big night.
(on camera): This speech is the first time that we will see both those seats behind the president, which are the line of succession, filled by women. What does that mean?
PSAKI: It`s about frigging time, isn`t it?
PSAKI: Amazing. I think the president will certainly note that in his speech, as everyone watching at home will note as well.
And you have a female speaker of the House. You have a female vice president. These are two of the most powerful people in our country. I have a daughter. I hope she will look at that and see, wow, look at those two women behind the president sitting there. They`re playing important roles.
And, hopefully, it sends that message too.
MELBER (voice-over): It`s a reminder that, pandemic or not, these nights matter because the nation is watching, the stakes are high, and, while the speech itself may finally be done, how America rebounds from this tough time and its future are yet to be written.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, the president of the United States!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MELBER: That`s our special report.
And for more perspective, we turn to political veterans who plan nights like this, pollster Cornell Belcher, who worked for the Obama/Biden campaign, and a writer who`s worked directly with Joe Biden on many big addresses. Matt Teper was chief speechwriter to Joe Biden when he was vice president.
Good evening to both of you on the big night.
CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening.
MATT TEPER, FORMER CHIEF SPEECHWRITER FOR VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Good to be here.
MELBER: Cornell, what did you think of what we heard from this new Biden team there in our report? And maybe it brought back memories for you.
BELCHER: Well, it did bring back memories.
And I think it brought -- but it brought back memories in a larger --in a much more sort of larger American way, because I think these first speeches out are important for presidents, because it`s usually the president`s big pitch to Americans.
And if you go back to Jimmy Carter, it`s sort of a time of crisis. Carter`s first big pitch out was around energy, which -- understandable. And Reagan and even -- and Clinton sort of focused on budget and the economy.
And so the guy I worked for, Ari, his first big pitch -- and Matt probably knows this better than I do -- was talking about rebuilding America, and America`s going to come out of this better and stronger than we were before, because, again, we were coming out of this economic crisis.
So I think it`s a really important moment for Biden to pitch his ideals about sort of how we`re going to build America back better. And he`s apparently going to be focused on rebuilding America, the middle class, which I think it`s really important, who has seen a crisis in the last couple of months due to COVID.
So he`s going to focus on the middle class and those aspiring to be middle class. But I think it`s a moment to galvanize and talk about sort of his big pitch for Americans, and, on the political side, Ari, to put Republicans on the defensive, because they`re not for any of these things that I guarantee you have been well-polled-tested and the vast majority of Americans are for.
MELBER: Matt, what did you learn working so intimately with Joe Biden on his speeches?
TEPER: Well, I think number one is that this is a man who cares deeply about what he says. And I think that that`s because he authentically cares about the story he`s telling the American people.
And I think that`s an important thing now, and when -- what he`s doing is - - like, the empathy that people see from him is real. And he is -- he has spent these 100 days helping out a lot of people. And I think there`s going to be -- there should be a bit of what people are calling a victory lap tonight, just saying like, look, this is what we have already done. We know there`s a ton more to do. People needed help.
It`s an important part of who he is to, like, genuinely believe that he can help people through -- sorry -- through government. And I think he`s going to lay that out today. He`s already -- he`s laid it out with his funding plans. But the way he works on these speeches, I mean, it was really, like, sort of funny, I guess, here from the outside, hearing how others -- how the aides were speaking about it, and because...
MELBER: Why? What was funny about it?
TEPER: Well, I mean, like, the idea of -- sorry -- you know when he likes something, you know when he doesn`t like something.
I picture his eyes lighting up a little bit when he likes something. I remember that vividly. But then...
TEPER: Yes, sorry.
MELBER: No, let me press you on that.
MELBER: Because it`s -- he is known -- and James Carville was talking about this earlier tonight -- he is known to be this sort of friendly, jovial, relatable presence.
And so what did you think of the idea that what does irk him, in a professional way, but in terms of trying to get the point across, is when people bring in the alphabet soup of D.C. acronyms and other stuff, where it`s like, what are we even talking about?
TEPER: Yes, I mean, that`s -- he was the best at calling out that sort of B.S., right, where it`s like the number one thing I remember him saying to me over and over again was, speak English, speak English...
TEPER: ... which it`s not even really language-specific, but it`s speak human. Like, these are humans. We`re all humans.
He`s built a very, like, approachable brand and relatable brand.
TEPER: And all the policy-speak jargon and acronyms, like, nobody knows what that is, so...
MELBER: Although, Matt, B.S. itself is an acronym.
TEPER: Yes. That is true. I did -- I did...
MELBER: But this is a family show. We`re fine with that.
TEPER: I did that for your benefit. He would use the real word. He would use the real word. That`s true.
MELBER: And so I want to take that to one quote here.
We get these little leaks. It`s a bit of a tradition -- I think viewers know it, because we all follow politics together -- on these big nights, Cornell.
And so we have another quote here. "You feel left behind," the president, we`re told, will tell the nation tonight in his first big address Congress, "and forgotten in an economy that`s rapidly changing. Let me speak directly to you."
Now, being a good communication strategist, we don`t have what he`s going to say after that "you." You have to watch for it.
But what does that tell you a little bit, again, as a strategist who`s worked on the Obama/Biden team, Cornell, that he wants to say, and make sure people understand this talk of rebound and things getting a little better, that`s fine, but there`s a lot of work to be done, and there is a lot of people in this country who aren`t doing fine, who aren`t watching the markets?
They`re watching -- they`re watching rent, and they`re watching jobless claims, and they`re still dealing with what has been a punishing year and, according to economists, one of the most unequal recessions in the modern era.
BELCHER: Yes. Yes.
Look, one of the most important things, and I think sort of in communication and messaging, is to understand and feel the anxiousness and concerns and understand the values of the broader voters.
Voters, we -- you can put forth a 10-point plan that goes into crazy detail about every little thing that you`re going to do, but we know, in reality, voters aren`t going to read or follow that 10-point plan.
What they really want to see and understand is that is the person who`s in charge of the person who is making the speech understands them and gets them. And I think that is a line that`s a head -- it`s what I call a head- nodding line. And you can see it in research when you test things and you see the people in the focus groups, they just start nodding their head, right?
They start -- it`s a head-nodding moment, right, for -- and I think that is the gold in any speech, is when Americans sit around, and they don`t have to say anything. They just not their head with it, right?
And that -- sort of the speaking to the anxiousness that middle-class families are feeling and that sort of economic cross-pressure that they`re feeling, by the way, that we -- that a lot of us argued Trump spoke to in the Midwest, to a certain extent, to -- him sort of speaking directly to that, I think, is critical. And it`s critical for not only the success of his presidency, but for long-term success of Democrats.
Because, look, Ari, Democrats -- I mean, Joe Biden won a lot of votes in 2020 that had not necessarily been Democratic votes. And Democrats did a lot better in suburbs with middle-class families than they did under -- certainly under Obama or under -- in Clinton`s run.
Speaking to the anxiousness and the angst of those middle-class voters and those voters striving to be middle class are critical to his presidency and they`re critical to Democrats long term.
All really interesting, as mentioned, from insiders Cornell and Matt.
I think you have given us a great way to think about tonight. Thank you.
I have to fit in a break, but coming up, we have more on the breaking news with Giuliani raided by the feds. He`s in trouble. We know that.
And we have a special guest who ran the office doing the probe, the former chief of the Southern District of New York -- after this.
MELBER: Breaking news today, as federal investigators raided Rudy Giuliani`s apartment and office in a criminal probe on his dealings with Ukraine.
The feds have seized several electronic devices, including his phone. Giuliani`s attorney is now speaking out and criticizing the search warrant and noting, in his view, he believes it involves one indication of an alleged incident of a failure to register as a foreign agent.
That`s the lawyer`s view of trying to narrow what`s at stake.
Now, that`s Giuliani`s lawyer. We don`t have all the information about what this criminal probe is looking at, Giuliani raided, of course, by the very same office that he once ran as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, a famed, prestigious and independent office that was also led by our next guest, attorney David Kelley. He is an exclusive guest tonight, and I should also notice, in full disclosure, my former legal boss.
Good to see you, sir.
DAVID KELLEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Good to see you too, Ari.
MELBER: You`re here not because I know you, but because you know this office.
What does it mean when the Southern District goes this far to raid and get evidence from a lawyer, especially a lawyer to the former president?
KELLEY: So, look, you don`t get a search warrant unless you can show probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that evidence of that crime is in the place where you want to search. Probable cause means it`s more likely than not.
When you`re dealing with an attorney search warrant, all of that is really heightened. I mean, a prosecutor can go and get a search warrant anytime they want. If they want to do it for a lawyer, it goes up through the ranks of the Department of Justice.
Interesting thing here, too, is reports that this was something that was tried months ago under the Trump administration, went up through the ranks. And one report I read was that it was not undertaken because they didn`t want to interfere or disturb it at all the election electoral process, and then subsequently that the Trump appointees did not want them to do it.
What`s interesting about that, among other things, is the fact that we have gone now several months later. So there`s a thing called staleness. Staleness means that it may have happened a long time ago, but is there still evidence there? And in order to overcome the staleness, the prosecutors would have to go to the judge and say, look, we knew this back in November, but we since have learned X, Y, and Z to show us that that evidence is still likely to be there.
And so that`s -- I think that`s an interesting element here.
MELBER: You`re zeroing in on something really interesting.
We mentioned that "New York Times" reporting earlier in the program about the timing, but we didn`t go into the depth that you just did.
And so what you`re explaining also, David, that I think is important is, this isn`t some situation where you`re on a fishing expedition, you`re looking at everybody, and you hope to find things.
MELBER: You`re saying that these prosecutors need to prove to a judge, more likely than not, the evidence of a crime is in Giuliani`s home and office today.
KELLEY: That`s right.
But what`s also interesting, too, is reported comments by either Giuliani or his lawyer which said they had been working with the prosecutors and giving them information.
Well, if that were true, and they had instilled in the prosecutors confidence in those conversations, then they would not have likely gone to get a search warrant, and likely would not have been granted a search warrant had those conversations been, like I say, fruitful and instill the confidence in the prosecutors that they were getting told the right story and receiving the information they believe to be there.
From the publicly available information, do you see any warning signs here legally for Donald Trump? And does he maintain his attorney-client privilege confidentiality, even as they review his lawyer`s conduct?
KELLEY: I think it`s too early to tell. We don`t know enough information to do much more than read the tea leaves.
But I will say this. I mentioned a moment ago about the heightened level of scrutiny one gets in the Justice Department before an attorney`s office is searched. And what that means, among other things, is that, once they seize the evidence, there will be a process in place where people will review the evidence, separate and apart.
They will have a wall between the people who review the evidence that initially is seized and the prosecutors who are handling the case, so that the prosecutors handling the case do not receive any information that they ought not because of, for example, attorney-client privilege or maybe even perhaps, in this instance, executive privilege.
MELBER: All great points, and you make them clearly, and it speaks to what a spectacular legal and political situation it is the former president and now seeing his second lawyer raided.
And, as you say, there will be very careful protections taken for his legal privacy, and yet a lot of questions remain about Rudy Giuliani.
David Kelley, thank you, as always, sir.
KELLEY: Thank you. Nice to see you.
MELBER: Appreciate it. Absolutely.
We`re going to fit in a break.
When we come back: What did Rudy Giuliani say about Donald Trump turning on him, and why that newly matters with this breaking news of a raid of Giuliani?
Also, a quick TV note I wanted to share. I will be on "Late Night With Seth Meyers" tonight with plenty to talk about. That is on our sister channel NBC at 12:30 a.m. Eastern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I have seen things written like, he`s going to throw me under the bus.
GIULIANI: When they say that, I say, he isn`t, but I have insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "I have insurance" -- Rudy Giuliani.
That was 2019, making that sort of claim against his own client, Donald Trump. And then, later, he tried to walk back, as so many people did so many times in that Trump era. It was just a joke.
Well, it might look a little different tonight, as we are just hours away from the FBI raiding Giuliani`s home and office. We don`t have any real specific comment from the former president on Giuliani`s legal troubles, a person who went around the country as his lawyer and as his election warrior.
Now, the two did have a public falling out in January, which may also prove more relevant, given what`s going on. Trump told his aides to stop paying Giuliani`s legal fees, because he -- quote -- "did not appreciate a demand from Giuliani for $20,000 a day."
Trump earlier saying this after Giuliani admitted on TV that Trump had paid those hush money payments to Stormy Daniels:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you this. When Rudy made the statements -- Rudy is great -- but Rudy had just started, and he wasn`t totally familiar with every -- with everything.
And, Rudy -- we love Rudy. He`s a special guy. What he really understands is that this is a witch-hunt. He understands that probably better than anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You always got to be careful when Donald Trump starts saying that he loves you and you`re special.
It was those payments that also were tied up in the feds raiding Donald Trump`s other then key lawyer, Michael Cohen, who actually eventually went to prison for an array of crimes, including election crimes on behalf of Donald Trump.
Remember, these two lawyers were all caught up in Donald Trump cheating in elections. The president himself famously, publicly threw Cohen right under the bus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you will have to ask Michael Cohen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What is it like when this happens? What does it mean for what`s coming straight at Rudy Giuliani potentially?
You heard Donald Trump: "You have to ask Michael."
Well, let me tell you this. Tomorrow, we will. Michael Cohen will be here on THE BEAT live for an interview at this newsworthy time with his insights into Donald Trump and the investigation into his fellow Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Whether either of them end this, of course, on Trump`s side, well, that`s what we`re going to see, 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on THE BEAT.
That does it for me. Thank you, as always, for joining us.
And don`t miss MSNBC`s special coverage. It continues with "THE REIDOUT" and then on to pre-coverage of this address at 8:00 p.m.
Keep it right here on MSNBC.