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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/10/21

Guests: Tara Setmayer, Dave Aronberg, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Christina Greer


Top Republicans prepare to silence any anti-Trump dissent. Rudy Giuliani faces mounting problems. The FDA authorizes the COVID vaccine for teenagers. Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd speaks out.



Hi, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

And we have a busy program.

Top Republicans trying to silence any anti-Trump dissent, even if it`s factual. And we`re seeing leaks about the party heading for its own iceberg.

Now, in a moment, I want to tell you something special. Neal Katyal is here live on Rudy Giuliani`s mounting problems. Today, Mr. Giuliani said, like Nixon -- quote -- he`s "not a crook." Neal joins us in literally a few moments.

Also tonight, news on the FDA authorizing the COVID vaccine for teenagers. That may be relevant in your household.

So, we have all that ahead, including Neil in this segment.

But we begin with these top Republicans who want to quiet Trump critics in the party. And they`re also inadvertently triggering a backlash. For the first time, the top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, is publicly saying what so many had already surmised, that he wants to purge his fellow Republican leadership of one Liz Cheney, because she told the truth that Trump lost the election.

And he wants to replace her with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who has been parroting many of Trump`s election lies.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We will have a vote next week. And we want to be united in looking, moving forward. And I think that`s what will take place.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: Do you support Elise Stefanik for that job?

MCCARTHY: Yes, I do.


MELBER: That`s how it goes down, official there. He`s also now just put out a letter we just got ahold of to House Republicans, but, of course, to the nation, because everyone will be able to read it and see it, that urges them to formally remove Cheney.

The vote is set for Wednesday.

Now, if all this sounds familiar and it seems like Republicans are making it hard on themselves, that`s because it is familiar. The Republican House Caucus already held this very vote on this issue this year. Liz Cheney won that time. And although it`s a bit of inside baseball, you don`t typically have parties, at least healthy parties, keep re-upping their House votes on who their leaders are every few months.

Typically, it`s done once in the beginning of the session. They want to revote because that didn`t like the outcome they got. Now, let`s be clear. That`s where the Republican Party is going. That`s where McCarthy is going. He`s number one in the House among Republicans.

But not everyone in the party thinks this is a good idea.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): We`re like in this -- in the middle of this slow sea.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): It`s sort of a circular firing squad, where we`re just attacking members of our own party, instead of focusing on solving problems.

KINZINGER: Donald Trump`s running around trying to find women`s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.

HOGAN: It just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the dear leader, or you get kicked out of the party.


MELBER: That`s what the opposition looks like.

But we`re increasingly seeing the signs that that`s a minority opposition. And Republican leaders are so scared of Donald Trump that they`re not just lying in public, lying to their own constituents, lying about how democracy works, and what the results the election are. All of that is a big deal.

There`s also reporting that Republican leaders were hiding how unpopular Trump is from their own members. So, they had a rank-and-file meeting with polling that showed, in core battleground states, more voters strongly opposed Trump than favored him.

And "The Washington Post" finds that they just hid that in an internal briefing. This is a Republican Party so committed to some kind of warped alternative reality of what happened in November, that they got thumped, that they lost the White House and the Senate, but they still can`t seem to face the fact that that truth won`t go away, even if you lie to yourself and your own teammates.

I`m joined now by national affairs correspondent for "The Nation," MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh, and associate professor of political science at Fordham Christina Greer.

Joan, I mention the truth, because, while lying to your own teammates doesn`t excuse lying to anybody else, it does seem to suggest, according to the "Post" reporting, just how deep the problem goes for at least House Republicans.

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, they`re lying to everyone. And it`s not going to go well for them, ultimately.

I think the thing that we have to focus on here, Ari, is it this is not just Liz Cheney vs. Elise Stefanik or Liz Cheney vs. Trump, but it`s really about, can the Republican Party accept people in their leadership who believe that the election was fought fairly and that Joe Biden won?

It was audited many times. It was certified by many Republican elected officials. And yet this woman who I have never been close to, and we have had our clashes, is being driven out of leadership, not out of the party, but who knows where her election will go, because that is the one thing that she will not support.

And I think it`s great that Adam Kinzinger is kind of backing her, but that`s about it. So, it`s become -- people are like, oh, it`s cowardly. They need to support Trump. But it`s more like they need to support the idea that Trump has brought to them, that he was defeated, that Democrats can`t win legitimately.

And it`s also behind all of their horrible voter suppression pitches as well. So, it`s very deep, and it`s going to continue to be very interesting.


And I don`t know if the saying, Christina. In Wyoming, they say, on policy and ideology, how red is Liz Cheney? Redder than Christina Greer`s glasses, because she is a full-blown right-winger. You don`t get into House leadership in this era without being a right-winger.

And I`m not here to tell anybody that Liz Cheney is less of a right-winger today than she was a year ago. She`s a right-winger. The only thing that`s happened is this cultism, that we have to call it for what it is, in the party.

And so, with that in mind, I want to play a little bit of what our own reporters, Cal Perry, found out in Wyoming, how this is playing out for her, again, with her being from a family legacy of right-wingers. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re not supposed to go vote your conscience to represent Wyoming. You`re supposed to represent Wyoming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She basically stabbed us in her in the back with she felt it was the right thing to do. Well, I didn`t vote for her for her feelings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s a traitor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, she`s a Republican, and then she votes against the Republican president? She`s a traitor.


MELBER: Professor?

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: I mean, first of all, we need to look at Wyoming as a state. So, these folks that were interviewed pretty much represent a large swathe of the conservative ideology of Wyoming.

But, Ari, you made a really interesting point that I think it`s really necessary, which bolsters Joan`s point. Liz Cheney is from a longstanding, hardcore, right-wing Dem -- or Republican family. They represent sort of the Bush-Cheney era, not just from Bush 41, but sort of the Reagan-H.W. Bush era as well.

And now we see the Republican Party has moved so far away from that foundation. I mean, these are people who are willing to let go of their representatives because they don`t believe that bamboo traces are found in ballots in Arizona. I mean, they`re willing to believe in these wide conspiracy theories just to hold up lies that Donald Trump, who`s not even in office, is just permeating through the party on a daily basis.

And he`s essentially holding them hostage until 2024. We will see how it works out in 2022. I mean, the Republican faction that believes that the election was stolen from Donald Trump, that believe in conspiracy theories, that believe that January 6 was just peaceful protesters, and we`re just making a tempest in a teapot, those are folks that are very loud, but I don`t think they represent the majority of the Republican Party.

They may represent the majority of primary voters across the country. And that`s what Kevin McCarthy and his supporters are really thinking about, their own protection during many of these sort of very Republican primary districts, where they know that those supporters who believe in election lies and definitely support Donald Trump are going to be the ones who turn out during a primary.

And that`s who they`re constantly thinking about, not the larger party, not the future of the party, and definitely not the American people.

MELBER: Well, I appreciate you saying that, Professor, because this is where, Joan, it is as serious as a heart attack, with everything we lived through January 6, and a country that had its share of political violence and domestic terrorism, and domestic terrorism against often marginalized groups.

So it`s not a joke to run around with under the color of law and the political legitimacy that is traditionally afforded elected officials and say things you know to be false that will have dire consequences.

Congressman Kinzinger, who we just showed earlier also being one of the few Republicans speaking out, he spoke about this because there is a culpability if what you are doing is knowingly false, and you really know that.

And his view from inside the caucus is, many of his colleagues, he believes, know better. And by saying they -- he they know better, he`s impugning them, saying it makes it all the worse what they`re doing. Take a look.


KINZINGER: I truly, truly, Emily, believe that maybe 10 of my fellow colleagues in the House believe that the election was stolen, maybe 10.

And I say that because I`m putting room in there for there probably just some people that are not really all that high-I.Q.-ish on some things.


MELBER: So, let`s put those 10 aside, Joan, because -- again, in his formulation, let`s put those 10 aside.

What he`s saying is, the other 90-plus percent know better and are saying things that already did lead to the reaction January 6. And now they`re doubling down on it.

WALSH: Well, that`s why it`s just -- it`s so divorced from politics and morality, Ari.

I don`t know what these people believe they don`t. They don`t necessarily believe that. And yet they`re playing with fire. We have already had this horrible insurrection that killed five people. We have more people threatening all the time.

And, when you go back and you look at Elise Stefanik, what kills me is, she was the personification, back when Reince Priebus did that ridiculous autopsy after Mitt Romney lost, and we have got to be more moderate, we have got to attract women, we have got to attract immigrant people, she was -- she ran in 2014. She won.

She was that person. She opposed the Trump tax cuts. She supported climate change legislation and some kind of immigration softening or decency. But, all of a sudden, her district gets Trumpier and she`s moving toward Trump, and she`s supporting this idea that the election was stolen, which, in turn, foments violence.

And it`s Liz Cheney who`s holding the line on that. I mean, I never -- I would not have called this. This one was beyond my powers of prediction a couple years ago, I got to say.

MELBER: Yes, I would love to do one of those tricks where we could have Joan Walsh opposing the Iraq War in `02 talk to Joan Walsh today about where the Cheney brand is.

But it is unpredictable, and some of it in a bad way, because we`re seeing the floor get moved lower underground.

I would go on with this, but Neal Katyal waiting in the wings, as promised, for the big Giuliani developments.

So I`m going to thank Joan and Christina.

Everyone, stay with us right now, because we`re not taking a break. We`re going right into this update on the Giuliani probe, the feds scouring his phones. They, of course, raided his apartment. And he`s still taking on new legal risk today. He was back out on his radio show quoting none other than Richard Nixon.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I`m not a crook. And they`re framing me, because -- very simple reason. I got the goods on Joe Biden.

I`m the guy, unfortunately, who individually exposed Joe Biden, first with regard to his crookedness in Ukraine, and then with regard to the hard drive that shows that he`s been a criminal for 30 years, and that his son`s been feeding him the money for 30 years.


MELBER: Rudy Giuliani knows his way around public and politics and history.

He`s got to know what happened to Richard Nixon in the years after he claimed he was not a crook. Giuliani is under legal pressure. He`s got an evidence-free attack here that he`s accusing the feds of committing a new crime of framing him. Of course, he hasn`t substantiated that in any way.

And it seems like the pressure may be getting to him as he continues to talk on the radio and other airwaves.

And I`m joined now, as promised, Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general.

Neal, I always try to keep it real with viewers. I try to explain, if we`re several days into a story, why are we here again? And, sometimes, there`s big new developments. And, sometimes, there`s just the way people act.

And Mr. Giuliani can`t stop talking. What I just played is brand-new. And so he`s feeding this story and he seems to be feeding a narrative legally where he wants to say that his outside activities against the Bidens -- and he has every right to oppose the election, but his outside activities somehow made him a target, that, otherwise, he wouldn`t be in this trouble.

Your response, both to the Nixon claim, which is just wow, and that type of defense he`s offering?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so here`s why it`s important, Ari, for your viewers -- for our viewers.

First, it says a lot about Rudy and Rudy`s trajectory. I mean, this is a guy who`s gone from being the top prosecutor in New York to being treated by a -- treated as a common criminal and investigated by the very office he used to run.

And his defense is, "I`m not a crook," quoting Nixon? That`s not particularly good. The FBI has seized 10 of his devices, pursuant to a warrant, pursuant to a federal judge`s order. The judge had to certify that probable cause existed to believe a crime had been committed.

So, that`s number one. And, look, based on the fact that Giuliani blurted out on national TV that Trump was paying off Stormy Daniels, I`m pretty sure prosecutors would be happy with any one of the 10 devices, let alone all 10. That`s number one. What does it say about Rudy?

But the second and more, I think, interesting question is, what does it say about the Trump investigation? Because there`s a lot of people out there who are wondering like Trump looks like he might get away with the Stormy Daniels stuff, with other financial improprieties, with January 6, with what happened in Georgia in terms of election pressure, and Ukraine as well.

And here now you have got the government investigators with a close confidant of the president and who -- and potentially very serious crimes that Rudy Giuliani has committed. And Rudy isn`t exactly the most loyal person.

So, I think, if you`re Donald Trump, you`re worried right now about what Giuliani knows and what he`s going to say in exchange for a deal.

MELBER: Yes. I think that all makes sense.

And whether Giuliani is using the airwaves -- and he has his regular radio show. Of course, he can discuss what he wants on it. Whether he`s using that and other interviews to signal something to Donald Trump -- and they remain fighting over allegedly legal fees and other things -- is also a possibility.

We have certainly seen other people in the Trump orbit do that. It apparently works better than calling him directly. So we have been told.

With that in mind, though, Giuliani wasn`t making, I would say, great linear sense in this next passage I`m going to play. Again, this is airing on MSNBC for the first time. It`s brand-new from the radio show, as Giuliani discusses how the feds want to get him and a lot of different things come up.

See if you can follow this, Neal.


GIULIANI: Are we a stupid people? Can you -- why would the Chinese communist government invest over a billion dollars in an investment fund with Whitey Bulger`s nephew, Hunter Biden and John Kerry`s stepson?

Does it take that much to figure it out? And can you now figure out why they`re trying put me in jail? Because I`m the only one willing to say that.



KATYAL: Well, I don`t have a degree in Rudy-ese or whatever that language is. I can`t make too much heads or tails about it.

But tell you one thing about that, Ari. If I`m Donald Trump, the last thing I want Giuliani to mention is Whitey Bulger. Whitey Bulger was an FBI informant who turned on the mob. That mention can`t be good comfort for Trump right now.

And Giuliani mentioned it, I think, because he`s saying Hunter Biden worked at a firm with Bulger`s nephew or something like that. And if I`m Rudy Giuliani, the last game I want to be playing right now is guilt by association, since Rudy has encountered more criminals in the last four years than I think he has in his entire prosecutorial career.

But I think all of this, Ari, is getting bundled into this whole question. Giuliani -- and I think this is why he`s doing these interviews on TV and radio, is, he`s trying to get Donald Trump to pay his legal bills.

And call me a skeptic, with all due deference to America`s mayor here. Donald Trump doesn`t pay his own legal bills. You think he`s really going to pay someone else`s?


MELBER: Right.

KATYAL: As they say, crime doesn`t pay, and apparently neither do criminals.

And given the quality of Rudy`s work product, from Four Seasons Landscaping, to what he did with Stormy Daniels, to his election filings over the fall in court, I wouldn`t be surprised if Donald Trump actually releases a statement demanding payment from Giuliani.


MELBER: Well, this is a fair point. And this isn`t even Supreme Court Katyal. This is just commonsense Katyal, which is, if you watch someone dine and dash and skip out on their own dinner bill a bunch of times, that`s not the person that`s going to take you out for dinner and actually pay the bill.

I think that`s fair. We will call that commonsense Katyal.

Before I lose you, there`s one other wrinkle here that I wanted to raise about the case. We have got this information that, since October 19, the feds have been looking at whatever Giuliani was trying to do on behalf of these potentially foreign nationals or foreign governments.

And the Daily Beast reports this ex-Ukrainian official needed a visa. Now, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says, from visas or beyond, he sees Giuliani flipping.


QUESTION: You think Rudy Giuliani will turn on Trump?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: A hundred percent, yes. My friend Michael Cohen said he would take a bullet for the president.

QUESTION: Right. Right.

SCARAMUCCI: But, when push came to shove and it was about his family, and he`s got a priority to that. And I think that the mayor has said it. Look, I have got insurance.


MELBER: It is true the mayor made that reference to insurance, then sort of walked it back. Everything in that landscape sometimes is a joke.

But, Neal, I`m curious what you think specifically the reporting on the visa, because there are those -- again, we have talked about a lot that`s bad for Giuliani. There are those who say that, if the case turns on or is primarily about a citizen`s need for a visa, that may somehow provide a legal help or defense for him, if he`s not working directly on behalf of, for example, the government of Ukraine, writ large.


So, so far, I haven`t seen the defense, I think, story. And I don`t think what Rudy has said is much of a defense. There`s nothing wrong if you`re a U.S. citizen with working for a foreign government. You just have to disclose it. And that`s an important thing. That`s part of a very important law that`s enacted to prevent basically foreign influence in our government.

And the idea that this guy who wanted the visa, Shokin, who was a prosecutor, is acting independently of the government and so on, I guess that might be possible. But, at least according to the reporting, it sounded like there was more governmental, Ukrainian government interest in this official visit in the United States.

It wasn`t just the guy coming to bring his kids to Disney or something like that. And so I think that there is a real concern here. It looks like Giuliani was so eager to please this guy Shokin because, well, frankly, he was widely viewed as an effective advocate for a corrupt regime.

And so that`s why the ambassador to the -- our U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch tried to prevent that visa. And, unfortunately, she was fired, all part of a really nefarious thing, which the feds will investigate and get to the bottom of now.

MELBER: Well, and, as you explain, a visa could sound small, if it`s a work visa, marriage visa over here, or it could be something very big if, as you say, there`s a whole country behind it that has got other foreign policy interests with the U.S.

So, visa as a term might be misleading here. Of course, if there are charges, that`s the kind of thing I would expect to be litigated out.

Neal Katyal, always great to have you here at the top of our broadcast.

KATYAL: Thank you.

MELBER: And I will remind everyone you can go to for this and other segments with our solicitor friend.

Now, when we`re back in 30 seconds: a critical week for Matt Gaetz.

We`re back in 30.


MELBER: The federal sex crime probe involving Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz is in what looks to be a pivotal period, Gaetz investigated by the feds for possible sex trafficking and possible sex with a minor.

He denies all allegations and has not been charged with any crime.

Gaetz`s indicted ally, Joel Greenberg, has until this Saturday to strike a plea deal with prosecutors. If that`s familiar to you, we have reported on that from the inception that this week is important legally.

Greenberg faces 33 federal charges, the official deadline, May 15. Now, a deal could come before that time. It would mean potentially new complications for Gaetz, depending on the evidence at Greenberg`s disposal.

Now, the Daily Beast has reported on this alleged confession letter that Greenberg wrote, which said, allegedly -- quote -- "Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, as well as a girl who was 17 at the time" -- end quote.

As we mention every time we cite this story, NBC News has not been able to obtain or verify that letter.

Now, as the clock ticks, Gaetz has been speaking out in public, and he went to this big and controversial Florida rally with QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I`m a marked man in Congress. I`m a canceled man in some corners of the Internet. I might be a wanted man by the deep state. But I am a Florida man. And it is good to be home!


GAETZ: We will not wave the flag of surrender in the face of the Democrats, the socialists, the deep state. The deep state is real.


MELBER: From a canceled man to a wanted man, that`s how Gaetz puts it.

We`re joined by Dave Aronberg, Florida state attorney for Palm Beach County.

Sir, you say this week is important. Why?


It is important, because May 15 is the deadline for federal prosecutors to reach a plea deal with Joel Greenberg. And we will know, I think, shortly thereafter whether or not the feds intend to charge Matt Gaetz with child sex trafficking.

That`s the big whammy here, punishable by up to life in prison. They need Joel Greenberg to be the key witness to be able to charge Matt Gaetz, in my mind, with child sex trafficking. And if they don`t reach a deal with Joel Greenberg, because, after all, Joel Greenberg has no credibility. His words mean nothing -- he`s got to have corroboration, or else there will be no deal.

If they don`t need to deal with him, it doesn`t mean they`re not going to charge Gaetz. It just means it`s less likely they will charge him with child sex trafficking. They could, depending on the evidence, charge Gaetz with other crimes, like campaign finance violations or aggravated identity theft. That`s one of the charges that Greenberg himself is facing.

But we will see pretty soon. And you will know, based on the deal that Greenberg gets, because Greenberg wants a deal in the worst way. I think that he`s the one who leaked that alleged confession, because he wanted to pressure federal prosecutors to come -- a better deal than the one that perhaps is currently on the table.

MELBER: All very interesting.

We just showed Gaetz there. And, again, he`s denied all of this. He also seems to be downright, I want to say, disdainful. He seems confident, but that, like any performer or politician, could be an act. But take a look at him joking around about some of this.


GAETZ: So today is my birthday.


GAETZ: And I already know how CNN is going to report it. Matt Gaetz has wild party surrounded by beautiful women in The Villages.


GAETZ: So, just get ready for it.


MELBER: Does he look to you like someone who is bracing to be charged this week or bracing for a victory lap?

ARONBERG: I think he`s just following the Trump playbook.

It`s just leaning in to the us-vs.-them mentality. Let`s blame the deep state. Blame the swamp. Blame everyone else for your problems. And he`s on stage with Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Now, keep in mind where he was, in The Villages, is not in Matt Gaetz`s district. It`s certainly not in Marjorie Taylor Greene`s district. That was the worst revival tour ever. I`d rather be forced to watch Nickelback in concert and have "Photograph" played on a loop than be forced to endure that.

But that`s what plays in MAGA world. The problem, though, for Matt Gaetz is, what plays in the court of public opinion isn`t necessarily what is going to work in a court of law. They`re not going to allow any of this extraneous stuff in.

And it is telling that, when he hired lawyers, he hired lawyers who used to work for said deep state, former prosecutors from DOJ. It shows you, when MAGA people are in trouble, they tell the world one thing and they tell judges something else.

MELBER: You make a great point that he didn`t go out and just get independent people. He got people who worked for the exact DOJ that he claims to be at war with, because they do have the experience.

On the musical front, Dave, you said something that could really offend Nickelback fans. On the other hand, there are none. So, you`re probably in the clear.


ARONBERG: Hey, I`m a fan of Canadian music, Ari. I have seen Rush 31 times. It`s just that Nickelback doesn`t deserve to be in the same conversation as the holy trinity.

MELBER: A lot of great music out of Canada.

Dave Aronberg, as always, thank you for the legal expertise and the extra stuff you do, whatever that`s called. Appreciate you coming on the program.

We got to find a break, but coming up, the FDA making big news on a vaccine announcement that could affect your family. We have the breakdown.

And Trump`s losing again. What President Biden did that just beats another period of time that Trump had in office.

But first: Republicans seems to be in a memory hole, Kevin McCarthy, as we have been discussing, called out now by a Republican for walking back the very serious issue of whether you condemn the violence on January 6 or not.



KINZINGER: Cheney is saying exactly what Kevin McCarthy said the day of the insurrection. She`s just consistently been saying it.

And a few weeks later, Kevin McCarthy changed to attacking other people.


MELBER: Republican Congressman Kinzinger there.

He makes a key and simple point about Republicans` shift on the January 6 violent insurrection, because some leaders, including McCarthy, were initially quite clear about denouncing the violence and Donald Trump`s incitement.

This was before they realized just how low their base would go. Watch.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Somebody who has provoked an attack on the United States Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral votes, which resulted in five people dying, who refused to stand up immediately when he was asked and stop the violence.

MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.


MELBER: Maybe that needs to be played for the entire Republican House Caucus or people in Wyoming that we showed earlier tonight or the whole country, because the facts haven`t changed since the days after January 6.

Kevin McCarthy did. And Liz Cheney, whatever you think of her and her right-wing policies, she`s consistently said the same thing he said, until he didn`t.

The need by modern Republicans to now accept and promulgate the big lie, even after all this, has created a huge problem for the future of the Republican Party. These stories may seem like they`re about the past, but they`re not. Look at this; 70 percent of Republicans now don`t think Biden legitimately won the presidency, a number that has been growing long after November.

I`m joined now by Tara Setmayer, a former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill and resident scholar at the UVA Center for Politics.

Thanks for joining me.


MELBER: What does it mean for the future the Republican Party to be this obsessed with lying about the results of last year`s election?

SETMAYER: You know, this is an example of how democracies are dismantled.

I actually narrated a documentary for UVA called "Dismantling Democracy," where we talk about the importance of the fundamentals of free and fair elections. And when you decide, when you make a decision as a party to no longer be a party of liberal Western-style democracy, there is really no future for you in the American experiment.

This is the beginning of the end of the once great Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, the party of a -- one of the greatest presidents who talked about the birth of freedom, the freedom of a nation, so that it`s a government formed by the people`s shall not perish from the earth, and they fought the Civil War.

This is the same party that is now going against what the fundamentals of our Constitution say? Liz Cheney is the apostate? There`s something fundamentally wrong about this, when Liz Cheney is not the one that`s being ousted from leadership.

Democracy is being ousted from the Republican Party`s platform, in favor of conspiracy theories and kooks like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and others, who decided that we`re going to go along with an insurrection and claim that there`s bamboo fibers on ballots to try to perpetuate this big lie, a Nazi-level propaganda lie that is undermining one of the most fundamental aspects of what this great experiment is about, democracy in America.

MELBER: You worked for House Republicans. So, for those listening closely, this is coming from inside the caucus that you would support many of the other things, but for, as you put it, this deceitful attack on democracy.

What happens to someone like Kevin McCarthy when, as we just showed, he sounded that way? What moves him back this far?

SETMAYER: You know, it`s unbelievable.

When I was up in Congress, that`s when Kevin McCarthy was still an up-and- comer. You had the young guns. You had Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, John Boehner. These guys were moderate Republicans that were pragmatists that would try to get things done.

To watch Kevin McCarthy go down this road ,when he knows better -- we all know that he knows better. And you saw what he said that day on the floor of the House shortly after the insurrection, because he was also the one that was begging for his life, pleading with the president of the United States to do something that day when the violent mob that Trump incited was threatening the lives of all the members of Congress, including McCarthy.

But then he realized that his political future hinged on Donald Trump`s approval. And, instead, he decided to be obsequious and kiss the ring and cast aside the oath that he took.

In the infamous words of Mobb Deep, he was scared to death, he was shook, and there ain`t no thing as halfway crooks. Well, there ain`t no such thing as a halfway Trump supporter in Trump`s world.

So, Kevin McCarthy had to step up and make a decision, and he chose Trump over the Constitution, over America, over democracy.

MELBER: Did you guys quote "Shook Ones" a lot when you worked in the House GOP on the Hill?


SETMAYER: Listen, I`m from Jersey, so I quoted Mobb Deep a time or two, yes, I did.


MELBER: Good for you.

SETMAYER: That`s all right.

MELBER: Well, shout-out to Jersey. Shout out to Queensbridge. Shout-out to Havoc, who`s been here.


MELBER: And rest in peace, Prodigy.

SETMAYER: And rest in peace, Prodigy.

MELBER: Yes. Yes, ma`am.

And good to have you on.

Oh, and a shout-out to democracy, while we`re at it.

SETMAYER: That`s right.

MELBER: Tara, I hope you will come back. Thank you.

SETMAYER: Thank you for having me.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Coming up tonight, something very special, our interview with the world`s youngest self-made female billionaire. If you haven`t heard of her, you will tonight. She`s got quite a story. Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd is here exclusively tonight.

But, first, new facts about why Joe Biden has such growing support and the problem for Mitch McConnell, who is increasingly cornered.

Plus, as promised, an update on the news from the FDA about wider vaccinations -- when we come back.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re moving in the right direction.

So, let`s be clear. Our economic plan is working. I never said -- and no serious analyst ever suggested -- that climbing out of the deep, deep hole our economy was in would be simple, easy, immediate, or perfectly steady.


MELBER: President Biden today with basically straight talk, addressing the country like adults and saying this U.S. economic recovery is working, but more help is needed, including his pricey infrastructure bill.

Now, how`s this all playing? Well, this is an update we have been bringing you that`s getting to be pretty consistent, Biden approval taking up to 63 percent for the overall job; 71 percent back his handling of the pandemic. That includes, as you see there, about half of Republicans, which is quite a coalition that once divisive issue.

The new poll numbers come as the FDA makes this news today. They have issued an emergency authorization to provide for Pfizer`s COVID vaccine now to 12-to-15-year-old adolescents. That is a change. It`s news tonight, and it means that people in your family of that age are cleared for that Pfizer vaccine.

It`s a key development, as Biden is pushing the vaccine across the board and wants to get kids back to school and edge up those overall vaccination rates.

Now, that`s our update there.

We have something very special coming up, though, that I have been telling you, and that`s been on the screen, if you have noticed, the youngest self- made woman billionaire in the world. How did she do it? And what`s she going to do next?

An exclusive, Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd on breaking barriers, Kamala Harris and much more -- next.


MELBER: This pandemic recession has seen huge windfalls for billionaires and tech companies, as people stay at home and spend more time online.

Jeff Bezos is worth roughly $90 billion more than when COVID first hit, most of the money adding wealth to an already wealthy group of predominantly white men.

There are some exceptions, like the woman who founded a popular dating app, Whitney Wolfe Herd now the youngest woman CEO of a publicly traded company, taking her app Bumble to the stock exchange in February, where she rang the opening bell. That surging stock swiftly made her the youngest woman to earn a billion dollars in the world, which also makes her a fascinating person to check in with right now.

We recently launched our "Summit Series" talking with Bill Gates. And right now, we turned to another leader at the summit of her industry, Herd, who founded the dating app Bumble as a tech platform, to intentionally empower women first and try to reform the culture around gender through taking action.

Now, we get to many topics in our new exclusive interview airing right now for the first time, including her somewhat rare position as a woman leader in the Fortune 500.


MELBER: You have got 8 percent of the Fortune 500 led by women CEOs, and only three women of color in total.

When you see that, what do you say to young women or girls who look up and say, OK, it works for some, but it just doesn`t seem viable? What do you say to them?

WHITNEY WOLFE HERD, FOUNDER AND CEO, BUMBLE: I think that this has been a historic turning point with -- with RVP and with so many women breaking barriers.

There have been so many incredible first movers, that we`re just getting started, and that young girls can do anything they put their mind to, and they do not need to fit into a box or a mold, that you need to fit your own mold. And you can be whatever you want to be, and you don`t have to fall into this expected category.

And that even is as simple as starting a relationship. You do not have to wait around to be told your place.


MELBER: Before Bumble, Herd left her job at a different dating app in her early 20s, amidst a high-profile lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and harassment.

And while a legal settlement prevents discussing some of the corporate details, she`s very clear on how she wants to lead now and how her entire premise with this Bumble app is to challenge ancient norms, because when people match on this app, on Bumble, it only allows women to make the first move towards talking or a date.


MELBER: Do you view Bumble`s success right now as a product of great technology? You`re in the tech space. A lot of people cheer technology.

Or fundamentally a conceptual breakthrough, that you and your team had this idea that you could actually upend really generations of antiquated rules about how dating and gender work?

WOLFE HERD: What really has been the driving force for us is that this -- it can be perceived as a small change, but this small shift in behavior has driven not only our company, our success, but has driven well over a billion first moves made by women.

If you think back throughout the course of relationship history, from the beginning of time, women have really been told to wait and been told their place in relationships. Women have taken positions of power in boardrooms or in politics, but time has stood still in relationships.

This antiquated idea that a woman should wait for a man in a heterosexual relationship to approach her has still plagued society. We were basically engineering rejection all day every day. This stream of reaching out to people, to only be ignored, was creating rejection, which was fueling obsession and aggression, which then led to toxicity, harassment, abuse, so on and so forth.

I thought, well, why? Why not do it a different way? Why can`t we flip this on its head? Why can`t we reduce harassment, toxicity, bad behavior and rejection, in fact, making it better for men by just putting women in control?

And so that was really what led to, let`s put women in control. Let`s have women make the first move. It`s understated how important it is to shift the paradigm of relationships, because, if you have a disempowered couple, or boyfriend or girlfriend or whatever, and then husband and wife, or whatever you want to call it traditionally, there`s no way the woman can feel equal elsewhere, right?

Like, the importance of being equal in your relationship is actually a lot more profound than people recognize, that it sets the table for -- that every other category of life, career and otherwise.


MELBER: Herd says she`s already seeing how these changes and how women relate to relationships can spark wide reform, a theme she probably lived herself in the male-dominated tech culture that seemed like it didn`t want to change.


MELBER: That was even further exacerbated by the fact that you were literally saying to a lot of Western male-dominated heteronormative culture, backed by certain other norms, religious norms, and otherwise, actually, the way you guys are doing it is at least low-key sexist, if not worse.

So you`re telling them they`re wrong, and they don`t like that. How do you perceive what was threatening to them?

WOLFE HERD: There were a lot of challenges.

Let`s start with where I was in 2014. I had come out of -- I don`t know how you characterize something as low profile/high-profile -- a very widely reported on legal situation, and was essentially pegged with the scarlet letter of sorts, you have to remember, pre-Time`s Up, pre-MeToo. This is 2014.

Here I was, a 24-year-old young woman, just trying to navigate my professional life. You had people both really judging me on a personal level, but then also judging what we were trying to do, saying, of course, she`s trying to put women in charge. This is an anti-man campaign. And this isn`t how it works. Women shouldn`t make the first move. Stop messing with what should be.

Don`t tell -- don`t tell men how it should go.


MELBER: That`s how Herd says many reacted. She`s won this battle, though, in several measurable ways. Millions of people use the app, a sign of popular support.

Financially, the IPO is a hit that made her over, as mentioned, $1.3 billion.

Now, in our new interview, we also discussed the way that people are just dating now. This is part of her expertise, from pandemic life to politics. In the polarized Trump era, about half of Republican daters say they don`t want to date someone who voted for Clinton, a figure that`s even higher for Democrats; 71 percent say they wouldn`t date a Trump voter at all.

Now, Bumble is at the center of how people meet and date in this entire climate.


WOLFE HERD: What we have seen more than anything during this time is, people are very intentional about who they`re willing to meet, and when they`re willing to meet them and how, in terms of the pandemic, meaning people are being explicit about having the vaccine or not being fully vaccinated yet, or saying, I`m really only willing to meet up socially distanced.

And so that, to us, is hyper-fascinating to see how people are being incredibly intentional about how and who they want to meet in this incredibly novel and bizarre time.

MELBER: How do you think people should verify that?

WOLFE HERD: Oh, so this is fascinating. We`re seeing people actually take photos of their vaccination card and upload them as one of their profile photos.


MELBER: That`s just a few moments from this new interview with Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, part of the "Summit Series," in-depth interviews with leaders of the summer of their fields.

You can go tonight @THEBEATWITHARI on Twitter, and we will pin the entire interview there. Go on @THEBEATWITHARI, or you can search it on YouTube tonight.

And if you guys have any ideas for other leaders or people we should interview -- this is a brand-new series -- you can send them to us @THEBEATWITHARI or @AriMelber across any social media platform.

We will be right back.


MELBER: Shots, shots, shots. You may recall that song. Of course, it`s about real liquor shots.

But people are increasingly applying this kind of talk to COVID vaccination shots.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You get a shot in your arm, you get a shot in your glass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was really convenient, and it was -- and it was really nice that they are doing this for the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having to go be in line for an hour and all that kind of stuff, yes, when I heard they were doing this over here, I was like yes.

MATT HUTTER, VACCINATED: I have had both shots, and I like beer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The convenience is what spoke to me most today, the fact that it`s literally five feet away from me.

ALEX BAKER, VACCINATED: Like, this is kind of my passport to a hopefully fun summer, hopefully coming back to school next year.


MELBER: Programs in bars incentivizing getting your shot for a shot.

And, if free beer gets you going, go for it.

On a somewhat, sort of related note, President Biden sits down with our own colleague Lawrence O`Donnell with a special town hall, "Vaccinating America," Wednesday 10:00 p.m. Eastern. We encourage you to check it out right here on MSNBC.

That does it for me.

"THE REIDOUT" is up next.