Rudy Giuliani comments on federal authorities raiding his law office. Why is Mitch McConnell finding repeated failure in challenging President Biden? The sex crime probe into Congressman Matt Gaetz intensifies. Senator Lindsey Graham faces heat for statements made on January 6. Dr. Fauci fact-checks Rand Paul. Republicans prepare to purge Liz Cheney from leadership.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.
And we are tracking a lot of news for you right now.
Brand-new comments from Rudy Giuliani on the feds raiding his law office.
Later, our special report on why Mitch McConnell`s finding repeated failure just by using one of his classic moves for the Biden era.
We begin right now, though, with an escalation in the intensifying sex crime probe into MAGA Congressman Matt Gaetz. He is under investigation for possible sex trafficking and possible sex with a minor.
He denies all allegations and has not been charged with the crime.
And here`s what`s new tonight right now. Here`s why this is the top story.
There are brand-new reported signs that investigators are reaching a critical point, with news that they`re pressing for cooperation from two key witnesses. And one of them includes Gaetz`s ex-girlfriend who interned on Capitol Hill, according to a story first broke by CNN and confirmed by NBC News.
A source with knowledge of the matter tells CNN that she traveled with Gaetz to that Bahamas trip in 2018 and that she was involved in some of the financial transactions, which, reportedly, the FBI has now obtained and is scouring for evidence of crimes.
Another source saying the feds are -- quote -- "nearly finished collecting evidence."
Now, that goes to what they`re learning and who they`re learning from. Investigators are also waiting to hear more from Gaetz`s indicted associate, Joel Greenberg, who has until Saturday to make a plea deal, if he`s to make one.
I want to get right into this right now with Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor from the famed SDNY, and Juanita Tolliver, Democratic strategist.
And we have a lot more on another big criminal case, Rudy Giuliani, as mentioned, coming up.
But when you look at all this, Danya, what do you see here in this phase with evidence and reports that they`re going towards something?
DANYA PERRY, FORMER SDNY PROSECUTOR: Yes, it looks like, as the report suggests, that they are nearing the end of the line here.
They -- we will see very soon if they provide Mr. Greenberg with a cooperation agreement. If they do, we will know that charges will be following from that Gaetz. They only will cooperate up. They don`t seek smaller targets. So that will be the reason for them providing him with a cooperation agreement.
So, even though it may take some more time to develop additional evidence, including perhaps this ex-girlfriend that you just spoke about, and time for public integrity DOJ officials to sign off on it, it will be a very clear sign that that is where they`re heading.
And the development that you mentioned, with the ex-girlfriend possibly cooperating, is also significant, because Mr. Greenberg will not be enough. As we have seen, there`s that gift-wrapped, bow-tied bonanza of evidence that includes this detailed confession by Joel Greenberg, it sounds like actual receipts from Venmo and other cash apps and witness after witness.
But it will be very useful to have someone like this ex-girlfriend who was on the scene, who will likely be sympathetic. She was a college age student, I believe, at the time, and will likely have supportive and corroborative information, which will be very helpful, because no one`s going to want to just take the say-so of Joel Greenberg.
And we`re at a reckoning here for the Republican Party. We have more on that later tonight, Juanita. But I don`t know that, on January 7 or 8, people would have expected the party to be where it is, which is going much more towards the Gaetzes and the Trump fans and booting the Cheneys.
Gaetz looked downright victorious, at least has a posture, if not a reality. We have some sound of him this on this tour he did with Marjorie Taylor Greene in Florida. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): The reason they were repeating these lies and propagandizing my life is because I`m effective, because I stand in the way of an agenda that will hurt my fellow Americans.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GAETZ: They will not silence me. We will not back down and the truth will prevail!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The fact that Gaetz is out here on tour with conspiracy theorists is wild to me, Ari.
He`s acting as though he`s not under investigation. He`s acting like there`s no evidence tying him to Greenberg and as though he`s going to emerge out of this unscathed, right? Like, I think it says a lot about the party.
But to your previous point, Ari, about people being surprised about the direction party -- of the GOP, I`m not surprised. This is the same party that`s spouted Trump`s lies well before the election, protected him in his lies in the four years he was president, and continues to give him footing and give his base the attention that they require in order to, in their mind, be successful in the midterms.
But it`s -- I`m really surprised to see Gaetz acting as though he`s completely unfazed by this, especially if this is the same ex-girlfriend who previously it was reported that she didn`t want to cooperate with federal investigators. But now she is. If he`s not shaking in his boots about this and all the evidence coming at him, I don`t know what`s going through his mind.
MELBER: Yes. And a lot of the headlines in the allegations are bad. Whether they are criminally chargeable goes to the evidence.
Danya, walk us through for viewers what`s coming up in the next several days, because you have worked in the famed SDNY office. You`re someone who`s been on the inside of these situations, when most people are on the outside. If it`s a close case, or they`re trying to do their level best -- they`re not supposed to be out to get anyone for any reason. They`re supposed to see whether they have sufficient evidence to charge crimes.
In this case, some of the possible crimes are quite serious. But they also have a duty, of course, not to go beyond what the evidence shows. What would the next few days look like, as they try to firm up what we`re told is the end of that investigative process and the witnesses and the defendant mentioned?
Right now, Joel Greenberg is meeting day after day, no doubt, hour after hour, with the federal prosecutors doing what`s called a proffer or a queen for a day, where he`s immunized, in part. But he is providing them with a full-throated, no-holds-barred account of everything he`s ever done, everything that he`s accused of in the superseding indictments that`s already been filed against him, and everything else in his past.
And if the prosecutors are satisfied that he has provided full and complete disclosure, and if they believe that he can help them support allegations against Congressman Gaetz, then they will finalize his cooperation agreement. They have a deadline of May 15. And so that is no doubt what they`re doing, while it seems, at the same time, pursuing other witnesses and trying to firm up the information that they`re getting from Mr. Greenberg.
So that`s the next few days. And then, as I said, if we see that cooperation agreement, if he pleads guilty pursuant to that form of agreement, then, almost certainly, charges will follow. Things can, of course, go belly up. It could be that he lies or commits another crime in the aftermath, or something else falls through.
But that will be their intention, if, in fact, they enter into a cooperation agreement with Mr. Joel -- Mr. Greenberg this week.
And that goes to why, legally, it`s a big week.
Both of our guests stay. As mentioned, we turn to the other big case here that`s also in Trump`s orbit, Rudy Giuliani dealing with the feds going through those phones and computers. Only he and maybe his client, Donald Trump, know what`s on there, Giuliani back at it. He is doing what is becoming a kind of baroque theater of radio show defense talking about this case.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don`t know why they`re searching my house. I have no idea. What they allege I supposedly did, act as an agent for some Ukrainian, it`s just totally untrue. I don`t know what they base it on, either their own supposition or supplier.
But I can prove that I wasn`t. I have offered to come there and prove it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: Giuliani there is basically saying that he doesn`t see himself as a foreign agent. That`s one of the issues at the case.
Now, they`re also discussing whether he would go in and talk. He reportedly, though, had conditions attached that he didn`t mention on the radio, that he would only show up if given topics ahead of time. U.S. attorney and their investigators said no.
Giuliani also going after the feds for how they raided his law office.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Instead, they wanted to break into my house and, worst of all, break into my law office, for which they should be really penalized. I mean, the case -- the thing should be suppressed.
You should not be allowed to break into a lawyer`s office on a charge of one alleged failure to file as a foreign agent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Danya, as I reminded viewers, you worked in the same office he used to run, the Southern District.
I will say, as a student of the Rudy Giuliani public defense -- I didn`t know that my life would bring me to this role, but I have been studying him now for some time -- today`s radio comments strike me as more rational, more rooted in the actual legal fact pattern than a bunch of the other baloney he said.
And so I`m happy to get some actual legal content for you to analyze. What do you think of the contention there that he says, if you`re only accused of what he views, in his opinion, as a smaller felony -- and one could make the argument that, obviously, the foreign lobbying violation is different than more serious felonies, like murder or something very serious -- his view is, if it`s a small felony, maybe you don`t have to be searched at all.
Is that legally sound?
PERRY: That`s not legally sound.
The prosecutors, as long as they have probable cause for a federal offense and can get a judge to sign off on it, in this case, as well to get senior DOJ officials to sign off on it, they can get a search warrant. Doesn`t matter if it`s for fire events or for premeditated murder.
In point of fact, though, as a practical matter, it may be the case that, for a simple technical paperwork violation, they would not go to these lengths. So -- but he`s wrong as a matter of law. And he may have other legal defenses, including whether or not there was, in fact, probable cause, whether or not an agent testified improperly in getting the search warrant sworn out.
Those may all be legal defenses. But, yes, some of the defenses we have seen, the line prosecutors are jealous, or he`s being framed, or the whataboutism with Hunter Biden, neither of these -- I don`t know about you, Ari, but he also does not seem to be a student of either history or the law, because those are, of course, not real legal defenses.
MELBER: Yes, and that seems to be a problem for him, or it`s coming out of his emotion.
And, again, in maximum fairness, he may be speaking more as a frustrated subject of a probe, not as a lawyer. There`s a reason why lawyers sometimes need lawyers, because you can`t really lawyer for yourself. So, his passion is coming through. He has every right to mount his defense.
I mean, what he`s saying doesn`t wash. It`s not legally sound.
You mentioned history, which brings me to the thing I wanted to put to Juanita on the political side.
There are all sorts of cases one could draw on to say that perhaps one is on the wrong end of an investigation. I would say Richard Nixon, in the pile of imagination, would be one of the last you would go for as the only person driven from the White House under forcible legal and congressional pressure.
And yet here we have it, Juanita. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I`m not a crook. Never been a crook.
And I know everybody says it, but I didn`t do it. And these people are framing me. And they`re framing me because, very simple reason, I got the goods on Joe Biden.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I`m not a crook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Juanita, we often turned you on political communication.
Where do you rate this political strategy of consciously or subconsciously aligning himself with one of Richard Nixon`s most ignominious statements ever?
TOLLIVER: I believe he did it consciously. And it`s still asinine, Ari. Like, we all know how it turned out for Richard Nixon.
But he doesn`t see himself as going that same path. It`s striking to me that he would invoke Nixon`s words, saying, "I`m not a crook,` when the record show -- it`s likely to show that, when Fed starts to probe through all of the evidence that they took, that there is going to be some potential audio, some communication of him committing crimes.
And so it`s just really striking to me that he decided to choose that route. I`m not surprised that it was immediately followed by other ridiculous statements, because I feel like Giuliani is fully in a scramble mode right now.
And I don`t know if this is a plea for help to Trump that`s coded, like, hey, come save me, come help me, which we know Trump hasn`t been there for him at all. But, as we know that his attorneys are likely to file motions to prevent investigators from reviewing all that information, is -- I`m going to be keeping an eye on for whether or not Trump signs on to those motions, because that could be seen as some self-preservation on the part of Trump, but also a glimmer of support for Giuliani, which we know he has not gotten any of to date.
MELBER: You make a great point that`s both the legal and the political, and whether this is one of the people in the Trump orbit that`s going to be discarded, like Michael Cohen, who was, of course, the previous lawyer, or whether there may be a bear hug.
I mean, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump had a bigger falling out than Giuliani. And, in the end, he did get the support. So, it is, again, one of these parlor tricks that we will have to follow.
Danya and Juanita, thanks to both of you.
I want to give everyone a legal update in that tragic Atlanta area spa killings that we all remember uncovered back in March. Georgia prosecutors announcing they will seek the death penalty, as well as hate crimes charges, against the man accused of killing eight. Six of them were Asian women.
Now, in a court filing, the prosecutors right that suspect, a white man, targeted them because of their -- quote -- "actual or perceived race, national origin, sex and gender."
It was a story, including the hate crimes aspect, that many debated at the time. This is the legal development that shows the government does view it and will charge it, among other things, as hate.
Now, we have our shortest break tonight, just 30 seconds.
When we return: how Lindsey Graham is getting in trouble for his own statements on January 6. We have the tape and a fact-check.
We`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Donald Trump lost the election. But the number of Republicans who know that continues to drop, as more Republican officials side with lying for Trump over continuing our democracy itself.
Now, unlike some political scandals, we actually know and can prove the top leaders of this Republican Party know Trump lost. Not only that. We can show you that they thought the best way to address that violent MAGA insurrection was to explicitly reject its demands to overthrow the results -- that`s what they wanted -- the results that showed Trump`s loss or the kind of weak tea plan B, which you may recall that day was also demanding that, if anything, they would at least delay, the Congress should delay locking in the results on that night of January 6.
Now, we know this because even Trump loyalists like Lindsey Graham said so on the Senate floor just hours after it had been illegally and violently ransacked by MAGA fans demanding Republican officials be hanged and murdered.
Many of those people now await their criminal trials. So, this is the context for the same Republicans now trying to purge Liz Cheney. Apparently, if you take it all together, in their weird, distorted view, her sin is consistently holding those views that they once held, rather than backing down, like Graham and others did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The most popular Republican in America, it`s not Lindsey Graham, it`s not Liz Cheney. It`s Donald Trump.
To try to erase Donald Trump from the Republican Party is insane. And the people who try to erase him are going to wind up getting erased.
It`s a uniquely bad idea to delay this election. From my point of view, he`s been a consequential president. All I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How about that?
All of this on display, and here we are heading into a vote to oust Cheney from Republican leadership.
Now, embracing Trump also means at this point for these Republicans embracing a lie about the election. It also means continuing attacks on people`s right to vote.
Now, today, at a hearing on a Democratic bill to try to fortify the right to vote, Ted Cruz said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): This legislation is profoundly dangerous.
And the reason it suppresses millions of votes, is by allowing millions of people to vote illegally, it dilutes the legal votes of American citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Trump may be gone. He may never run for office again, but this is where the Republican Party is and is going to be, apparently, for some time.
Fact-check: What Mr. Cruz said there about that particular bill is false. It`s also an accusation coming from Ted Cruz.
On January 6, of course, he was the one voting with the Republican masses to dilute the votes of other people, dilute being the word he used. We would call it cancel the votes of other people by making up a lie that they wanted to perpetuate, amidst and heading into the insurrection that might somehow, some way overthrow the results of the election.
These are facts.
And for a few more, we`re joined now by political reporter Eugene Daniels, a White House correspondent, also an MSNBC contributor.
Good to have you, sir. How you doing?
EUGENE DANIELS, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I`m doing well. Thanks for having me.
That was a lot you just ran through it.
MELBER: Well, there it is. The tape tells the story. We deal in facts.
Your thoughts on all that?
DANIELS: Yes, I think, if you start from Graham, right, and this idea that they have to erase -- anyone that wants to erase Trump from the GOP would end up getting erased, it`s interesting because the Republican Party has been calling itself a big tent party, saying they`re growing.
The tent is only big enough for people who do what Donald Trump says or try to guess what Donald Trump would do or say, and get in line with that, right? He`s not behind the scenes barking orders at people. They are kind of guesstimating what he would say and do on a lot of these situations.
And there are these moments, like you just showed, on January 6 and a few days, where Republicans really seemed poised to move away from Donald Trump. You have Lindsey Graham saying: I`m done. I`m thrilled he was consequential, but I`m off the Trump train.
And the speed at which they switched that up has been kind of baffling. And I think how this ends up playing out and the way that history looks at Republicans in this time, we don`t know. And I think a lot of that has to do with the midterms in 2020 (sic). Obviously, 2024, we will know how much Donald Trump has a hold on this party.
But it isn`t -- you talk about Liz Cheney. She`s as conservative as it`s going to get, really.
DANIELS: This is not about whether or not she`s conservative enough for the Republican Party.
This is about whether or not she will do and spread lies that Donald Trump wants the rest of the Republicans to spread. And I think that part of it`s really interesting. Her possible replacement, Elise Stefanik, only voted with Trump 77.7 percent of the time when he was in office.
And you have Cheney with a 93 percent vote -- voting record with Trump. So it`s not about conservatism. It is not about whether or not she can do the job. It`s not even really about her impeachment vote. It`s that she wouldn`t stop talking about it and, when asked, that she would tell the truth and say that she doesn`t think Donald Trump should be a part of this party.
And if they think Elise Stefanik is not going to get those exact same questions at every single press conference at every step of the way as she steps into this leadership role, she`s going to have to do the exact same thing. And she will probably spread some of the lies that she`s been spreading on podcasts and such.
MELBER: So we did the fact-check. That`s the facts. There`s the ethics, if you take an oath to uphold the Constitution in a constitutional democracy, and you violate that.
On the pure politics, which you also are an expert on in Washington, what is the political benefit to riling up your own side and lying to them about the election you lost if you`re out of power? And if you rerun that play, and it keeps happening, where does the political boost come of, oh, you keep complaining? You can build a fake World Series trophy. You can have a fake parade.
But you didn`t win the World Series. And, thank goodness, a good chunk of the world`s still going to be on the side of the reality of what occurred, not your fantasy baseball.
DANIELS: Yes, I mean, all of this goes back to Donald Trump, all of it, right, the whole thing.
On the day of the Iowa caucuses in 2016, when Ted Cruz beat him, he said, Ted Cruz only won because of illegal votes. Donald Trump won the 2016 election, became president and said the only reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote was because of three million illegal votes in California.
He does this, and this is the -- this is who he is. And the fact that Republicans are now -- and, for him, it`s not a political calculation, right? It is about Trumpism, which is, I am strong, I am big, I am better than you.
DANIELS: And that is something Republicans now are part of. Trumpism is in the party. And I don`t see a way for them to get out of it.
DANIELS: So, they spent all this time, four or five years, saying just humor him on some of the things that, looking back, they probably shouldn`t have humored him on.
MELBER: But -- and electorally -- electorally, he`s not big. He`s small. He got fewer votes than Clinton. He got fewer votes than Biden. He didn`t win Georgia. He didn`t win the Senate. He`s electorally small.
Before I lose you, Gene, can we talk blog real quick?
MELBER: Can we party like it`s 1999 and talk about the blogosphere?
Tale of the tape. Trump`s blog is not lighting up the Internet. Social media data independently reviewed by NBC finds little engaging with the posts. Trump`s online footprint is dependent on returning to those platforms that shut him down for, among other things, misinformation, hey, and, according to Twitter, encouraging violence on January 6.
We only have about 30 seconds left. What does it mean that nobody wants to read his blog?
DANIELS: A lot of it has to deal with the fact that people in the media aren`t amplifying it, right?
Most Americans would never have seen Donald Trump`s tweets if they at the very beginning had been on every single news channel, if we hadn`t retweeted them ourselves as reporters.
And I think now reporters are being more -- are being smarter about engaging in that kind of stuff and sharing it, especially after January 6. And I think that, unless we share it, most people won`t see. And I think that probably has a huge reason why that`s not happening for him right now.
MELBER: Very nuanced.
I would expect nothing less from you, Eugene. But you`re also a writer. Is it also possible that the blog, so far, as a matter of written material, is boring and that maybe it sucks?
DANIELS: I think people just -- they know exactly what he would say. It doesn`t -- he`s not giving anything new. It`s exactly what we have expected and seen from him for a long time.
It also doesn`t tell you anything about how he`s really thinking about the party. There`s no policy .There`s none of that in it. And so that`s what I think even Republicans are like, OK, well give us something new. And that`s where he`s finding himself, that the old tricks may not be working on Republicans anymore.
MELBER: All fair points. I will say this.
MELBER: Oh, I didn`t hear you. Say again?
DANIELS: I said, on the blog, at least.
MELBER: On the blog.
Well, I will just say this, as someone who spent years writing and blogging. You really have to stay at it. So I don`t know if the former president watching. But I would tell him, don`t be discouraged by some bad metadata in the first couple of weeks. Keep at it. Keep blogging. It takes time.
Eugene Daniels, always good to see you, sir.
DANIELS: Thank you so much for having me.
MELBER: Thank you.
We have a lot more in the program, Dr. Fauci going right at senator Paul. We`re going to show you how he does a fact-check in the senators`s house.
But, first, news tonight on why Mitch McConnell`s playbook is suddenly failing against Biden. We have the tape. We have the special report. And we have the Chai, because it`s "Chai Day," When we come back.
MELBER: Let`s talk about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was famous for that sky hook. The shot worked, so he kept taking it. And that makes strategic sense. If you`re doing something that works, you might keep doing it.
Now we see Mitch McConnell trying his version of this, going back to his old playbook. These are the plays that we all remember he ran against Obama. So, he`s trying to run the same plays against Biden, basically trying to obstruct and justify that by painting him as a radical.
Now, does the old play work? Over on FOX News, they have been hitting Biden with these similar McConnell-style attacks on Obama, trying to get this radical puppet thing to stick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: So what`s really going on here? Who`s in charge? And, by the way, should we be concerned?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden`s absent and he`s wrong. Kamala Harris is front and center. Who`s really in charge? We don`t know.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Joe Biden, whatever his merits as a human being, has no active role in running the U.S. government.
And so, henceforth, we will refer to it as the administration, the White House, the Kamala Harris administration, the third and far more radical Obama administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Boy, they are straining.
And you can see, if the problem for them is that Joe Biden is somehow more popular, you have to say, it`s not Biden, there`s someone behind him, and that person creates this radical Biden administration agenda.
But this McConnell/FOX play, according to the evidence, not my view, but just what we`re seeing from you, the American public, is that it`s not working anymore, Biden`s job approval at a 60 percent high, higher than Trump ever got. Voters also don`t think he`s -- quote -- "radical."
Around 100 days, Biden was widely viewed as more moderate than many, including the president he served, Barack Obama. And that`s interesting, because, of course, Biden has been already pushing $6 trillion in new big government spending, and Biden`s moderate rating with 42 percent of voters isn`t just higher than Obama`s; it`s higher than any recent incoming first- term president.
We checked. Look at all those moderate ratings.
Now, what`s going on here? Political strategist Chai Komanduri says there`s about five factors, and many are simple. Race is, of course, one, how people view something coming from Biden vs. Obama.
But there are also others, like the vaccine rollout. The best vaccine rollout the world, Komanduri argues, is not going to be overseen by a -- quote -- "senile old puppet."
He also points to Biden`s senatorial reputation, years of the public seeing him as a moderate, his avoidance of culture war traps. He doesn`t get into the right-wing debates over Mr. Potato Head. Biden also does look open- minded. He`s been taking these meetings with Republicans. Again, that Senate record showed he tried to do that. We have showed old clips of him trying to work with Reagan and others.
But he also was taking heat from some in the progressive and BLM side for not going farther, which resets the entire game.
And McConnell is out here often running this same play. But it appears the game done changed.
And that brings us now to our deep-dive political conversations, a very special day here on THE BEAT. We call it "Chai Day," because these segments are informed by political strategist Chai Komanduri, who worked on three presidential campaigns.
Good to see you, sir.
CHAI KOMANDURI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to see you. How are you, Ari?
MELBER: I`m great.
Walk us through what you mean and what you see here in numbers that some of us hadn`t even noticed, that he, Biden, is seen as more moderate than most presidents at this point, and that he`s getting more done, sometimes regardless of policies that might be called big spend, big government?
KOMANDURI: Yes, I think the reason the Biden is viewed as more moderate really says more about us as Americans than it does about anything to do with the Biden presidency.
It says a lot about us that, because of Obama`s race, the GOP was able to use those racial dynamics to cast him as a radical in a way where they were able to fuse racism and xenophobia into a cocktail that Trump was able to really use to get himself to the White House.
It also says that the way we view ideology in America, liberal, conservative, moderate, is primarily along cultural lines. We don`t view economic issues or being economically liberal as making you liberal.
Biden is most certainly economically left. He`s spending more money than any president since the Great -- since the New Deal and the Great Society. He`s spending an overwhelmingly on working-class voters. He is clearly an economic liberal. We have talked about it before how much Bernie Sanders` rhetoric, style and policies seem to now inform Biden.
But he is viewed by the American people as being moderate because he`s stayed away from those cultural hot button issues that the GOP is constantly beating him with. He isn`t talking about Dr. Seuss. He isn`t talking about Snow White. He isn`t talking about Mr. Potato Head.
They would love for him to do that. If you remember Tim Scott, in his response to Biden`s speech, was really responding speech that Biden simply did not give. Biden is not a cultural warrior. He is an economic warrior who is trying to redistribute wealth and increase wealth for working-class Americans.
MELBER: And, by the way, shout out to Mr. Potato Head. Fun for the whole family.
MELBER: I think, when you mentioned the spending, I mean, yes, Joe Biden is spending like either he just signed his first record deal, or he`s been holding Bitcoin for five years. I mean, he`s spending like he`s feeling flush.
And, as you say, suddenly, that`s different than even what was now the lesser of more moderate spending by Obama. Obama obviously gets this. Indeed, he`s written quite beautifully about it, almost diplomatically.
I mean, he writes -- he doesn`t write like a normal politician. He writes almost at a distance and a more -- kind of a more benign view of the public. And maybe that`s because of -- he wants to be nice. But he`s talked about this, too, as you know. You worked for that campaign, among others.
Here was Barack Obama discussing this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My policies are so mainstream that, if I had said the same policies that I have back in the 1980s, I`d be considered a moderate Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOMANDURI: Yes, I mean, I think that`s 100 percent accurate. He would have been considered a moderate Republican, like Lowell Weicker in the 1980s. He would have fit in very well with a certain branch of Republican thinking.
I think we used to call them Rockefeller Republicans. He clearly was very much a centrist, center-left politician. However, it didn`t matter because of his skin color, his skin color and the fact that his father was a Kenyan immigrant to the United States who later went back to Kenya, I believe. He had an immigrant story.
So that created the Achilles` heel, if you want to call it that. It`s unfortunate that we think along those terms, but it certainly was for Obama, the way that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others were able to cast him as a radical.
And the American people, I, unfortunately, believe bought it. I think that, if you look at the polling about how many of them viewed him as a liberal, even though his policies were clearly very much center, center-left, they really did buy into, on some level, the fact that he was more to the left on the ideological spectrum.
KOMANDURI: Biden has had none of those problems.
I think part of it is an accident of his own birth and his body. He is a white man. And he`s someone that we have known in American politics for 40 years. And so they have gone into this area of calling him a senile old puppet.
The problem is that the vaccine rollout has been spectacular. It is world- class. It is probably the best thing the U.S. government has done in many, many decades.
KOMANDURI: I mean, you talk about how politics doesn`t work and how government doesn`t work. Boy, this really worked.
KOMANDURI: And if you look at the European Union, they just copied what Biden did, to now increasing success.
MELBER: All good points. And you`re speaking to the fact that there are still real-world events that cabin things.
We have seen, as you point out, a total shift among independents and some Republicans towards Biden as he governs. And, yes, if that`s puppetry, then get Dr. Fauci a spot full-time on "The Muppets," and bring on the puppets and the Muppets, and let`s get safe and vaccinated.
MELBER: Chai Komanduri, you always bring great points here. And you`re quite clear and blunt about it, because I appreciate the points you make about racism and culture, which suffuse all of this. We need clarity these days.
So, Chai, thank you very much, sir.
Want to fit in a break, but why is the Republican Party pledging allegiance to the loser of the election? Why back a lie about that loss? We have a very special guest on this for some TV we don`t think you`re going to see anywhere else tonight. That`s coming up.
But, first, well, from puppet to Muppet to Dr. Fauci absolutely taking on Senator Rand Paul with facts. We`re going to show you the sound and the context next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect, that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s how it works, Dr. Fauci there confronting Senator Paul today with facts. That shows one way to deal with someone repeating misinformation.
This could work at your local barbecue or family dinner, if you have the patience, Fauci calmly schooling Paul that repetition of a lie does not make it any more true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: You`re fooling with Mother Nature here. You`re allowing super viruses to be created with a 15 percent mortality.
FAUCI: We have not funded gain of function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
No matter how times you say it, it didn`t happen.
PAUL: You`re parsing words. You`re parsing words. There was research.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No matter how many times you say it, it`s not true.
Now, we should note, these two have a history of beef. And as the old saying goes, what`s beef? Well, Fauci tends to settle his beef with cold facts and experience. To paraphrase his fellow Brooklynite Christopher Wallace, Fauci has drawn on his experience to rebut Paul many times, basically saying, Senator, you all was grimy in the early `90s, far behind me. When it comes to the facts, it ain`t hard to find me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: You have had the vaccine and you`re wearing two masks. Isn`t that theater?
FAUCI: No, it not. Here we go again with the theater. Let`s get down to the facts.
When you talk about reinfection, and you don`t keep in the concept of variants, that`s an entirely different ball game. That`s a good reason for a mask.
Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s how Fauci does it. The beef may continue, but, tonight, on that, he gets the last word.
Now, we are hours away from Republicans trying to purge Liz Cheney, despite Trump`s unpopularity throughout the country.
We have a key fact-check with a special guest you won`t see anywhere else next.
MELBER: On the eve of House Republicans holding a vote to purge Liz Cheney from leadership after she beat back a previous such effort, a big moment for the Republican Party.
And I`m joined by Matt Schlapp, the influential chairman of the American Conservative Union.
Thanks for coming back.
MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Thanks for having me on, Ari.
This is a big story. When you look at House Republican leadership posts, do you generally think they should be held by people with higher conservative ratings from your group or lower ratings?
SCHLAPP: We like conservatives to be in leadership, Ari.
MELBER: And who are you supporting?
SCHLAPP: We haven`t made an endorsement in this race.
SCHLAPP: But what?
MELBER: But do you have a preference?
SCHLAPP: Me, if I was voting in the House Conference, I`m a little bit torn, because both of these women are longtime friends. I served in the Bush administration with them.
But, in all candor, I think, when I talk to members -- and I tweeted this out today -- when I talk to members in the Republican Conference, I think the criticism of Liz Cheney is that, as conference chair, her job is to coordinate the message.
And they want the message to be fighting Joe Biden`s radical socialist agenda. They think that they`re on the cusp of taking these majorities back. I think the House is in very good shape for the Republicans to take back. They want to talk about that. They don`t want to talk about animosity with President Trump.
And so you`re referring to the idea that, while she has not changed her positions -- Liz Cheney has been consistent. She beat back the last effort, there`s a lot of...
SCHLAPP: She has, yes.
There`s a lot of suggestion that she could be purged tomorrow for that. But she hasn`t said anything about Donald Trump losing the election that`s false, has she, in your view?
SCHLAPP: I don`t know everything she said.
I would simply say most Republicans want to stay focused on the reasons why the majority should be given back to the House of Representatives, to the Republicans in the House of Representatives, because they want to have energy independence, they want to keep tax rates low, they want to open up churches and schools, they want to get this economy humming again, and they want to stand strong overseas.
And much of that, Liz Cheney agrees with. And I agree with you. She`s been fairly consistent. With us, she has a rating in the high 70s out of 100. It`s not perfect, but it`s very strong. It is higher than Elise Stefanik`s, although Elise Stefanik started out at a 33 percent with our group, and in the last year is getting closer to 60 percent.
I have talked to her. We seem to be mostly aligned on the big questions. And I think, from her point of view, having a moderate Republican in House leadership should be a good thing. I don`t know why you would be opposed to that.
MELBER: Didn`t say I was. But I appreciate the dialogue.
SCHLAPP: That`s fair.
MELBER: I mean, what`s interesting here is, you`re getting exactly why we wanted to talk to you about it.
You mentioned the numbers.
MELBER: We checked on your site.
What we have here -- we will put them up, so viewers know you`re referring to -- is a pretty big gap in their conservatisms. Stefanik, according to the purple rating we saw on your site, was around 43, 44. Cheney, we will reveal, as you mentioned, high 70s.
MELBER: Is this, in your view, a good trade? Because it`s pretty extraordinary to see the potential demotion of someone who`s considered not only much more conservative, but who actually voted with Trump more, to swap her out for someone who didn`t, because of what you`re calling political messaging concerns, and what some see as there`s the need to be loyal to Trump no matter what, even when he`s lying?
SCHLAPP: Two reasons -- I don`t think Trump is lying.
The two reasons. I think Liz Cheney`s rating is better, but we don`t consider it stellar. It`s the high 70s out of a scale of 100. Elise Stefanik, started out as a 33, and has already moved up into almost like the 60 category.
And I think what I see is the right kind of trend with her. Now, I don`t get a vote in this, Ari. I`m not an elected member of the House of Representatives. But I have talked to a lot of members, the Republican members in the House.
And what I hear is not so much that they believe that Liz Cheney isn`t aligned with President Trump. It`s more that they want her to stay focused on what their agenda is. That`s why I think we will see a shift in the leadership.
Now, Liz Cheney, if she loses this race -- and it looks like she will.
MELBER: Let me just jump in.
MELBER: For clarity, though, you`re referring to the fact that you are very plugged in. You`re -- I`m getting like a mildly modest Schlapp today, for whatever reason.
But you run CPAC. People know...
SCHLAPP: Better not. It couldn`t be.
MELBER: Yes, exactly. It couldn`t be.
But you`re very plugged in to all these folks. You`re seeing that you think Cheney is going to lose tomorrow, I`m taking from reason -- reading between the lines.
MELBER: You have Donald Trump and others come to your conference. You`re right in the center of all of this.
MELBER: So you have insights into it.
But you`re also -- you`re also suggesting that this is all messaging.
I do want to play for you -- and then I will let you finish your point -- for everyone to remember, because I`m really struck by it -- you and I agreed earlier that Cheney has been consistent.
MELBER: All that`s happened is, McCarthy and others seem to be walking away from what went down January 6. And it would seem to be the better and more responsible thing for the party to say, whoever stormed the Capitol and committed crimes is wrong, anyone who was giving voice that was seen as supporting that is wrong, and move forward.
McCarthy seemed to try to do that, along with Cheney. He`s changed. She hasn`t. Let me show it to you for your response. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Matt, didn`t they agree, but McCarthy`s walked away from that?
SCHLAPP: I don`t think this race has anything to do with January 6.
This is the media focus on the race, that it`s all about January 6 and all about Donald Trump. All I can tell you is that you`re right. I do know a lot of these members of Congress, and I talk to them frequently.
And I think they were OK with the diversity of opinions on January 6, that Liz Cheney had an opinion that was much tougher on President Trump than other people in the conference wanted, but they were OK with that. And she survived her first test.
Since then, they feel like she has focused too much on those questions, and she`s not breaking through and helping them break through on the policy differences we have with Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.
We are on the cusp of a huge Republican boom and takeover of the House of Representatives. Now, we could screw it up, as we have before, by focusing on things that will not help us pick up seats. I got no problem with people in the Republican Conference have a diversity of opinion, including their opinions on Donald Trump.
And a lot of them share them with me.
MELBER: Yes. Yes.
SCHLAPP: We will take back the House of Representatives if we stay focused on what the American people want to see done from a policy standpoint.
SCHLAPP: They miss these Trump policies.
SCHLAPP: They miss them terribly.
MELBER: And I`m running up against the break.
As mentioned, a big Republican decision tomorrow, so interesting to hear from a top Republican.
Matt Schlapp, thanks for coming back on THE BEAT.
SCHLAPP: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Yes, sir.
Up ahead: Bill Gates and the world`s youngest woman billionaire -- when we come back.
MELBER: Finally tonight, something new from our brand-new "Summit Series," where we talk to all kinds of leaders.
We launched with Bill Gates, and then we turned to Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder of the dating app Bumble.
Here is airing for the first time a bit from our lightning round.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITNEY WOLFE HERD, FOUNDER AND CEO, BUMBLE: Command the virtual room. Be confident.
MELBER: Worst way to begin a conversation online?
WOLFE HERD: "Hi!"
MELBER: Finish the sentence. A canned pickup line is OK if...
WOLFE HERD: If that`s what you`re in the mood for.
MELBER: The most important advice you followed?
WOLFE HERD: Be kind to others and stay true to yourself.
MELBER: And the most important type of advice or feedback that you rejected?
WOLFE HERD: Don`t be so hard on yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We invite you to watch the full interview. It`s up now. Go to THEBEATWITHARI on Twitter, @THEBEATWITHARI, and you can find a link to the entire digital exclusive.
As always, thanks for watching THE BEAT.
"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" starts now.