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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/17/21

Guests: Helene Cooper, Melissa Murray, Diane von Furstenberg, Erin Gloria Ryan


Republican official and Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to six federal charges, including sex trafficking of a teen. Rudy Giuliani offers a new defense. Brand-new details emerge on the Pentagon looking into UFOs. Fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg speaks out.



Hi, Ari. Happy Monday.

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

I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT.

We begin with breaking news in the Matt Gaetz sex crime probe. Republican official Joel Greenberg in court today pleading guilty to six federal charges, including sex trafficking of a teen. The confession completes a swift fall for the one-time local Republican power player, who now entered the Orlando courtroom reportedly in a blue jumpsuit, shackled at the wrists and ankles, affirming his guilty pleas on record, a move that ensures he will spend years in prison, but also far less than the maximum he could have faced on all the original charges if convicted.

Greenberg looking pale and splotchy, turning around several times to look back at the small crowd who had come to watch the hearing, as "Washington Post" reporters documented that scene today, which marks Greenberg`s lowest Point. And the feds say they got more than just today`s guilty pleas.

They say in court, so quite efficiently, they got his full cooperation to recount everything that he knows about what is now a convicted sex crime conspiracy, and thus to help any other prosecutions.

We know this blockbuster case led the feds to probe Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. He is the MAGA congressman who has been facing increasing scrutiny, while also publicly fighting back and issuing denials that we have reported on. We know the feds took his phone.

And we know Greenberg claims to have evidence directly on Gaetz, alleging he paid for sex with multiple women and a girl who was 17 at the time. That`s according to a letter obtained by The Daily Beast that NBC News has not verified.

We don`t know yet if the feds deem those accusations specifically about Gaetz to be credible. We don`t know yet -- whatever we think of the emerging picture, I have to give you the precise legal scenario as it stands -- we just don`t know yet if the feds think that type of stuff, the letter or information pursuant to it, could be used to actually indict Gaetz.

Now, whatever Greenberg`s team thinks on this momentous day in this volatile case. Well, Greenberg`s lawyer was not saying much.


FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG: Mr. Greenberg has pled guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement that has certain requirements and obligations on him. And he intends to honor that.


MELBER: Others are talking more, though.

And in a brazen move that Gaetz might appreciate for political theater if it were about someone else, an imperative critic here outside the court, flying this plane with that banner "Tick Tock Matt Gaetz." And it`s not a social media reference. It is a kind of dark, but purely speculative warning that perhaps Mr. Gaetz would be next, according to whoever`s flying the banner.

This was the increasingly wild scene, as Greenberg`s lawyer continued to evade any hint of confirming anything today about what may come next.


QUESTION: What does this mean for other people that are not named specifically in the plea deal, but are mentioned?

SCHELLER: Well, they will -- you will just have to draw your own conclusions on that.

QUESTION: What does this mean for Matt Gaetz?


QUESTION: What does this mean for Matt Gaetz?

SCHELLER: You will have to ask his attorneys on that.


MELBER: Joining me now is NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray and Erin Gloria Ryan, a Daily Beast contributor and host of the "Hysteria" podcast.

Thanks to both of you for joining.

Professor, these are very serious felonies. There is now no legal doubt about them. The government and the now convicted defendant Greenberg came to this agreement. He pled guilty in open court. What does today mean?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: So, we know that Mr. Greenberg has (AUDIO GAP) about 33 different charges.

He`s pleaded guilty (AUDIO GAP). That suggests that (AUDIO GAP) will (AUDIO GAP) cooperation requirements for him. He will have to provide substantial (AUDIO GAP) of the (AUDIO GAP) investigation areas that the (AUDIO GAP) this point in time.

And so it`s a big deal for him to have done this. He`s going to be working with the prosecutors. He`s likely not going to be sentenced anytime soon. Typically, they would like to see the cooperation go forward (AUDIO GAP) cooperated as fully as possible.

So, it may be a long time before we actually (AUDIO GAP) sentence. And that means (AUDIO GAP) lot to say (AUDIO GAP)

MELBER: Erin, I`m going to bring you in.

And I have to do a little bit of technical housekeeping, which is, I hope people could hear the professor, but I couldn`t. So I`m just mentioning that in terms of technical difficulties, so I can`t respond directly to anything that was said. I just want to be transparent about that.

But go ahead, Erin.

ERIN GLORIA RYAN, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, as the professor mentioned, these crimes are very serious.

I read through the entire plea deal today. And it really feels like, if it were a fast food value meal, it would be called the scumbag special. Greenberg has pled guilty to everything from stalking to identity theft. He stole the I.D. of a guy who sold him a boat, in addition to all the sex crime stuff.

He stole other people`s I.D.s in order to facilitate his performing sex trafficking-type behavior. But I think all of this stuff brings into relief just what a hot mess the current House GOP Caucus is. Matt Gaetz still sits on the Judiciary Committee. He has not been disciplined in a real way, while he`s in the midst of this huge investigation, and it looks like the clock is ticking for him.

Every week, it seems like we cycle through another House Republican who leads the kind of scumbag power rankings in the House. And nothing is done about them. And so this is a serious issue in Florida politics. This is a serious issue also for the soul of the Republican Party.


And you mentioned how this is playing more widely and just what the tolerance level is among Republicans. Gaetz has been out there, if anything, playing the role, whether he believes it or not, of some kind of enforcer.

Here he was just over the weekend.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I am being falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors. Yet Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors through earmarks.


MELBER: Erin, and then the -- Professor Murray, this is sort of an attempt by him to put this in a wider context of him accusing others of things or making some sort of false equivalence.

But, as you mentioned, Erin, this is not someone who, despite facing a second ethics investigation, is yet being dealt with in any particular way by the Republican Party.

RYAN: Yes, and I also think his use of the phrase naughty favors is very dismissive, because this is a serious case. The Greenberg case, it`s a serious case of serious corruption.

There`s a lot of money that was moved under false pretenses that wasn`t his to move. Greenberg admitted to using money that he basically stole from the coffers to buy Bitcoin, which is something that was also used to allegedly facilitate some of this sex trafficking.

This is serious stuff. This is not naughty favors. This is an elected official who is admitting to completely abusing his office. And the allegations that are out in public appear that Gaetz was in one way or another involved.

MELBER: Professor?

MURRAY: Well, it`s important to recognize that Representative Gaetz has not been formally charged with anything. This investigation is still ongoing.

And, certainly, Mr. Greenberg`s cooperation will be important in that. But, as Erin suggests, the optics of this are not terrific for anyone who is involved. And, again, it`s worth thinking about what we have seen over the course of the weekend from the Republican Party.

We have seen Liz Cheney, one of the few women in leadership in the Republican Party, ousted from her seat for simply registering some skepticism about the prospect of the big lie and the need for an insurrection on January 6.

And here we have quite significant allegations that may later lead to charges -- we don`t know -- but quite serious allegations that have not registered with any kind of approval from anyone in leadership.


And with regard to what is known now, this has been a trickle. So, for folks following it, it`s felt like, oh, you heard about him pleading guilty before the actual day he did. And you heard about some of the evidence, but it is quite different to hear about something or have these leaks or these indications, and then actually have the case being built up in court, for all the obvious reasons have the credibility of the government involved, the transparency of that.

And, oh, by the way, I can hear you now, Professor, which makes it even more interesting on my end. I don`t know how the viewers feel, but I love to hear the analysis.

And so, with that in mind, I want to play -- just read a little bit from the plea deal that is new stuff we`re getting. This is deep in. Erin mentioned she was reading it. This is from 30 pages in, Greenberg using his personal and tax collector finances, the credit cards there from the government, to pay for hotels that were then part of what is now a convicted commercial sex act conspiracy, Embassy Suites.

They just got the date. They have got it down to 166 bucks and 80 cents. It`s his personal Amex. Then they got in June 155 bucks 68 cents using the tax collector`s office, which goes to abuse of power and misappropriation of funds.

When you look at that level of detail, how would that potentially impact the case against these other unnamed individuals, whoever they may be, Professor?

MURRAY: There`s a lot of very specific evidence that`s being offered.

And, again, the fact that a lot of this has been charged to specific credit cards means that there is a paper trail that could be used to corroborate whatever these allegations are in these charges, and especially if they extend to other individuals. That`s an incredibly damning paper trail that will be incredibly useful going forward for prosecutors, and especially important, given that Joel Greenberg himself is not the best witness for the prosecution going forward.

So the fact of these statements, these receipts, if you will, that will be incredibly useful to prosecutors going forward. And, again, if Representative Gaetz is the subject of this investigation, and there is an expectation that he is going to, at some point, be exposed legally to criminal liability, all of this is bad, bad news.

This has to be a very ominous day for Representative Gaetz.

MELBER: And, Erin, widening beyond the criminal legal standard, which is higher, I know that we don`t have to take politicians literally or believe anything they say or whatever.

But the modern Republican Party, until just five years ago, was built around an insistence that it had some higher religious credibility, that it was a -- quote -- "family values party," et cetera.

So, whether or not all of those issues should be woven into prerequisites for government service, and the trickier kind of larger debates you can have, what does it say about the lingering headache and effects of Donald Trump on this party, who is a one-termer who never got more votes than the Democrat, who doesn`t have to be necessarily a bigger force than, say, George Bush Sr. or someone else?

What does it say about his role that the so-called family values party has not lifted a finger or said much of a word about the unindicted, but other questionable activity that has been reported out here?

RYAN: Yes, I mean, I think the Republican Party would be better off as a party if Donald Trump would take up another hobby like painting, for example.

I also think that here`s the thing. Like, let`s remove the moralizing around sex from the equation entirely, because I think that`s what Gaetz is trying to seize on, like this is some sort of a moral crusade against him and everybody is being a prude.

No, it`s not just about that. I mean, sex trafficking is a serious crime. But this is about stealing. This is about people abusing voters` trust. This is about corruption. This is about things that, regardless of your attitude about sex work, are morally indefensible.

So, yes, it`s hypocritical for a member of a so-called morally righteous party to engage in anything like this. But I think the era of Trump taught us that accusing people of being hypocrites kind of doesn`t really have any impact on anybody at all.

MELBER: All fair points on the legal side and the larger context.

Erin Gloria Ryan, Melissa Murray, my thanks to both of you.

We have our shortest break of THE BEAT right now. It`s just 30 seconds.

When we come back: A Republican lawmaker busted by an incriminating photo, but we will explain why it might not be what you think.

And I get to report this tonight. We have brand-new details on the Pentagon looking into UFOs, the reports going to Congress. We have the "New York Times" reporter who broke the story, real news about real interesting questions.

But coming up: Rudy Giuliani, he wants his phones back. And he has a new defense. Our friend and solicitor Neal Katyal live -- when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: When the prosecutor becomes the one who`s raided.

Rudy Giuliani is clearly in the legal fight of his entire life right now. He`s under severe and serious criminal investigative review. And it got to the point that the feds raided his apartment and office.

Now, there are brand-new developments in this case. And it`s not every day that we`re discussing the recent lawyer for the president in this much trouble, for the former president.

Giuliani`s new defense team asking to get his phones back already, and trying to basically stop potentially evidence that the feds lawfully seized from review or use.

Now, we have a newly unsealed filing where Giuliani`s attorney claims the feds believe, that is, that they were expecting Giuliani would destroy evidence or attempt to intimidate witnesses if he knew the extent of the investigation. And we`re also learning more about the early morning raid. Giuliani`s wants all the evidence halted.

They`re also alleging -- and they have every right to file their briefs. It doesn`t mean what I`m reporting is true. But they`re saying that they think Giuliani is now being treated by this Justice Department like the head of a drug cartel or like a terrorist. And they also say the information obtained communications with and on behalf of -- and that`s a key line we`re going to get to -- on behalf of a then sitting President Donald Trump.

They also claim he was cooperating with the then Trump State Department in his quest to give documents related to those actions about Ukraine and funneling information or dirt or whatever you want to call it to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The lawyers are working both in court and behind the scenes. Giuliani is out doing what he does. He`s on the airwaves talking about the case.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I know I didn`t do anything wrong. So I`m quite confident that, in the long run, when they finish all this political persecution, they will not -- they will not sort of completely corrupt themselves and bring some kind of a false prosecution.


MELBER: I`m joined now by Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general.

Thanks for being here.

As you and I have discussed in any context, with any -- with anyone under review, they can avail themselves their criticisms and concerns about the government or possible search issues. They can do that.

Do you see anything here, though, that sticks, because there hasn`t been any independent judicial ruling or any indication there was anything wrong with the underlying raid? He`s now saying that he feels -- I guess it`s somewhat emotional or, if you wanted to be less charitable, kind of a snowflake defense -- that he feels that they are treating him like a mob boss.

That`s his feeling. What they`re doing, as I understand it, is working with judges to gather evidence.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Ari, he certainly has the right to file whatever papers he wants to file.

The papers he filed that were uncovered today are basically 14 pages of relative nonsense. I mean, he`s basically arguing that there can`t be a special master review over his material, because, well, there wasn`t already a special master review.

Yes, I don`t think that kind of argument is really going to survive even the normal kind of scrutiny, let alone strict scrutiny. I mean, what Giuliani is trying to say here is, he wants a special set of rights because he is the president`s lawyer, and he portrays it as prosecutors eager to go after him.

And there`s zero evidence to support that in his filing, except for the fact that prosecutors also went after another Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, who, by the way, admitted that he committed various federal crimes.

And so I guess, at the end of this, I`m just not quite so sure that being President Trump`s lawyer cuts quite in the direction that Rudy Giuliani think it does. And these allegations just don`t pass the smell test. I mean, the leftist plot to take out Rudy Giuliani is so insidious, I guess, that it began in the Trump Justice Department in 2019, which is when this investigation began.

Doesn`t make sense.

MELBER: Yes, I think that`s all a tough, but fair reckoning with at least what he`s publicly filed.

Then you bring in the other part, which is the relationship with Donald Trump. And this is fascinating and high-stakes. And it`s also where a bit of a tell comes in, because Donald Trump, everyone remembers, has jumped in, in very controversial ways on behalf of certain people.

I mean, Paul Manafort was convicted of a whole bunch of crimes, including a lot of personal enrichment that you might say, in fairness to Trump, didn`t have to do with Trump. It had to do with him lining his own pockets and evading taxes.

Trump still went in to help him, still went in to help Roger Stone. We know what it looks like when Donald Trump has decided to help someone, regardless of controversy.

Here`s reporting from The Daily Beast that says Trump -- quote -- "has blown off Giuliani`s pleas for help, won`t issue a written statement saying that the work in Ukraine was done on Trump`s behalf, won`t sign on to a legal motion to throw out the seized communications," and then, of course, no surprise, and we have discussed it before, won`t pay the bills.

Put the bills to the side for a moment. That is sort of Trump 101. The fact that he won`t do free things that he has done for others, does that tell you that Donald Trump thinks that there may be some actions that were taken vis-a-vis Ukraine or the election that he doesn`t want fingerprints on?

KATYAL: Absolutely.

I mean, it may very well be that Trump doesn`t want to help Giuliani because he himself is implicated in all of this. And that`s why I think Giuliani`s filing this letter today that we read is -- it really reads as a scared document.

What he`s trying to do is say, I should get access to everything that the prosecutors know, the affidavits that led a federal judge to sign off on a search warrant. And you can`t do that at the investigation stage. Obviously, when someone is indicted, Brady vs. Maryland and other things require information to be turned over.

But there`s a reason why investigations are secret. There`s grand jury secrecy and all kinds of things. And it`s because we want the investigation to continue unimpeded. And, here, Giuliani is trying to interfere with the investigation itself at the front end because he`s scared.

And he says, look, I`m being treated like a drug lord or a terrorist. And that would be a fair comparison if the prosecutors weren`t pulling evidence from his iPhone, like parents looking at their kids` phone for explicit lyrics and music. I mean, it`s just -- it`s candy for them.

And so far, not a single thing that Giuliani has filed leads me to think there`s anything wrong or nefarious about this investigation, which, again, began in the Donald Trump Justice Department.

MELBER: Right.

And that`s when we see this level of concern. Giuliani`s is one version you just documented. Trump`s is another, which is running away from it. It`s very striking to really just keep an eye, as we will keep following the -- pulling the thread of what the feds are after here.

Neal Katyal, always great to have you on.

I want to remind everyone, for Neal`s analysis here on THE BEAT, you can go to, our recurring series where you can see this and other legal breakdowns by Neal.

Now, coming up: Former Navy pilots call it unsettling. They say they saw something that looked like a UFO, and then it just disappeared. And we have video. Stay with us for that.

Also later tonight: John Oliver dropping the bars on me. We will explain why he went after THE BEAT in a good-natured way.

But first: Someone who claims the January 6 rioters were tourists is actually busted -- an important fact-check with consequences next.


MELBER: Welcome back.

I have told you before just how much facts matter. It`s always been true, but it`s especially true in the time we are living in.

And we have right now for you some facts that could really matter. They could actually matter to people`s safety. And it also matters for politics. It`s visual evidence of how so many Republican lawmakers are increasingly changing their tune and getting caught with regard to the January 6 MAGA insurrection.

Now, first, here`s what Congressman Andrew Clyde claimed about the riot last week.


REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): There was no insurrection. And to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bold-faced lie.

If you didn`t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.


MELBER: Would you?

I don`t say this lightly. Indeed, if you watch this program, I don`t use the L-word on everyone every night. But what you just saw there is what it looks like when a liar is accusing other people of lying.

Now, as a journalistic matter, I can only say that kind of thing factually if we can prove that we know someone knows they`re lying. They could be confused. They could be mistaken. There are all sorts of reasons people could say something other than a deliberate lie, at the journalistic standard of proof.

But this was a lie. Take a look at the photograph on January 6. It shows the congressman at the top of this very frame, second to left -- we have isolated for you because it matters -- as a part of the emergency barricading of the door to the House chamber.

I`m going to keep this photo up, because what you can also see on the face of his and others there is the understandable fear they had. They didn`t know how many people were on the other side. They didn`t know what their allegiances were. They didn`t know how many people were armed. And they were physically joint barricading.

And I would wish them well and wish them safety as they did that to keep the rioters at bay. But I can also tell you it means we know that same individual is lying when he comes out so soon after in this same year, no memory problems, and claims this was a -- quote -- "normal tourist visit."

Five people died that day. The rioters also chanted "Hang Mike Pence." Five hundred people, give or take, have already been arrested for either their involvement in the insurrection or related conspiracy planning up to that day.

Congressman Clyde`s lie about the insurrection matters. It can also be exposed and fact-checked, so it does not have to linger. And it`s one of the many lies being repeated by people around Donald Trump.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who of course, was exiled from her perch in Republican leadership, largely for saying true things against these lies, is ramping up the actual demand for answers. She still has power. She`s still in the caucus. She`s just not in leadership.

And she has arguably a bigger perch in the public mind. And she`s using it. She`s specifically suggesting that the GOP leader, McCarthy, may be withholding key facts.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Leader McCarthy has spoken to a number of people in large groups, in small groups since the 6th about his exchanges with the president.

He clearly has facts about that day that an investigation into what happened, into the president`s actions ought to get to the bottom of. And I think that he has important information that needs to be part of any investigation, whether it`s the FBI, the Department of Justice, or this commission that I hope will be set up.


MELBER: A striking call for part of the search for truth from Congresswoman Cheney.

Her ousting highlights the rift within the GOP, as well as the idea that Trump`s lies have to be protected above all else, above the literal security of the very place they work, their own security.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows 66 percent of Republicans say loyalty to Donald Trump is important. Only a third it`s no longer important for the party. The House expected to hold a vote on formalizing a January 6 commission later this week.

We will stay on these stories.

Now, up ahead, as promised, we have a little bit of lighter fare later in the hour, as John Oliver, well, he mocks me for something we do on THE BEAT. We will show you his take on all of that.

But, first, a mystery that is being dealt with in very serious ways by our own government, as military officials describe a UFO perhaps disappearing in front of their eyes.

That`s next.


MELBER: Is there any other intelligent life in the universe?

That`s a real question. We`re living in a moment where that kind of question and the intrigue around more reporting of UFOs is hitting the mainstream.

Indeed, I can tell you there`s a Pentagon task force that`s working on finalizing a report regarding UFO sightings that will go to Congress next month. It is part of years of official government study of what are largely unexplained phenomena.

And just last night, a new episode of "60 Minutes" reported on this, discussing with pilots and government officials with firsthand experience how this question percolates among people who know a lot about the world and aerospace, one former intelligence officer describing what he saw with his own eyes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine a technology that can do 600 to 700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that it can evade radar, and that can fly through air and water and possibly space, and, oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsions, no wings, no control surfaces, and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth`s gravity.

That`s precisely what we`re seeing.


MELBER: The officer is part of the Pentagon team that spent years looking at a phenomenon that`s partly just a result of the technological age we live in.

There`s a lot more videos out. There`s a lot easier ways people can record anything they see. And they have been analyzing specifically an emphasis on videos recorded by pilots.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a whole fleet of them. Look on the S.A. My gosh. They are all going against the wind. The wind is 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing, dude.


MELBER: Also tonight, NBC News obtaining a newly leaked video of a UFO that was spotted off the coast of San Diego. Now, this is from 2019. Pentagon officials say the video itself is real.

For years, talk about UFOs was often basically minimized. I mean, as a matter of learning things, saying something`s identified or we don`t know what we don`t know about what`s out there is just an approach to information.

But saying that UFOs somehow meant that it was likely there was some sort of other intelligent life was considered fringe or just something for science fiction.

In 2017, "The New York Times" revealed the existence, though, of a secret Pentagon UFO team, including the sourcing for some of those same videos about these sightings and encounters.

And, tonight, we are joined by Helene Cooper, who helped break that story for "The New York Times."

Thanks for being here.

HELENE COOPER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Nice to see you, Ari.

MELBER: Nice to have you.

When you look at all this, there seems to be a couple things intertwining, more evidence that the government takes this somewhat seriously, which gives it a kind of a patina of legitimacy, more videos and more people talking about it.

Does that mean, in your view, there is more evidence of actual UFOs that are tied to some sort of phenomenon? Or would you not go that far?

COOPER: I would -- I -- that`s -- your question is perfect, actually, because that gets exactly to where we are.

There is not more evidence at this point. We -- you and I talked about this back in 2017, when we wrote the first story. Nothing has changed since we wrote that first story. These are the same videos that we wrote about then. A year-and-a-half later, we did a second story with the 2015 videos of the incidents that took place off of the coast of Virginia, the USS -- the aircraft carrier Nimitz.

And, again, you saw different Navy fighter pilots now who had interactions with things that they did not understand. And I have been waiting ever since, doing those stories for the next -- the next shoe to drop. What`s the next video? What`s the next incident?

And we`re still in this phase we`re recycling the same videos, the same things from -- that we first wrote about in 2017 and then in 2019. So, that`s part of why I would urge a little bit of caution with what we`re seeing now, because there`s nothing new.

But I am really eager to see what this DNI and Pentagon report that you alluded to earlier that`s supposed to be sent to Congress next month comes up with. We have talked to people in the intelligence and the Pentagon -- the intelligence industry and the intelligence community and the Pentagon, who say one of the things that they are hoping to do is to at the very least, putting aside any new incidents or anything like that could be in the report -- and I don`t know yet if there`s anything in there that`s -- that we haven`t seen or that`s eye-opening that we don`t know anything about.

But what they really hope to do is to remove the stigma for Navy pilots and Air Force pilots who have reported these incidents, to get to the point where we can talk about this...

MELBER: Right.

COOPER: ... in a way that people aren`t immediately made to feel stupid.

MELBER: I love that you put it so clearly that way.

And we did want to check back with you, given your earlier reporting. And something like this that might be -- call it a potentially low-probability, but very high-impact outcome, if you got evidence that there were or are this kind of object tied to something else, you don`t want to have an information flow where the people who are able to spot the clues are somehow discouraged from even sharing the information, let alone getting to the bottom of it.


MELBER: I guess, as journalists, we sort of -- we take that as second nature.

I want to play the 2015 video, because it`s wild. Take a look.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you box a moving target?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It`s in autotrack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my gosh, dude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow! What is that, man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that flying!


MELBER: If you divide this into really simple categories, because a lot of these have a similar format, do you see them as door number one, it`s something that looks like something, but is actually nothing, door number two, it`s something that is not known, but exists in our actual human world -- for example, super secret military technology that we just don`t know about -- and then, door number three, well, gosh, it`s an alien?

COOPER: I think it could be any of those.

And I think everybody -- that`s the one thing -- everybody says, we don`t know what we don`t know. And I love that you played that -- the 2015 video, because, when I was working on that story, as you can imagine, we`re talking about the stigma.

I was getting so much grief from my colleagues at "The New York Times." And whenever they gave me too much grief, I would just play the video really loudly in the newsroom in the Washington bureau, and they would all come running over to my desk.


COOPER: Because I was like, oh, yes, who is crazy now?

So -- but we don`t -- but Ryan Graves, who was the pilot involved in some of those 2015 incidents off the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier -- and I interviewed him in 2019, so two years ago. It was actually exactly two years ago. This was somewhere around Memorial Day in New York.

And he never -- the interview was fascinating, because he was very detailed about what he saw. And he described this as these objects that had no visible means of propulsion. He didn`t understand how they could -- he said they were staying in the air for 12 hours at a time.

I mean, a fighter jet -- and he`s in a fighter jet that has to refuel every hour or so. And they`re doing things that this -- the objects he described are doing things that he did not understand where the capability came from.

At no point did Ryan ever -- Lieutenant Graves -- sorry -- did he ever say, this is a UFO from another planet. He was very clear that we don`t know, that he did not know what this was.

But he was also very clear that he thought that this was dangerous, because, at one point, he described an incident that happened in 2015 when a fellow Navy pilot almost hit one of these things. And they don`t know whether...


COOPER: At this point, these pilots didn`t know whether...

MELBER: Right.

COOPER: ... this was something from China or Russia.


COOPER: Maybe this was a secret American program that nobody knew about.

MELBER: Right.

COOPER: This could be drones. They could be whatever.

But the idea that our own fighter pilots might end up crashing into something that we are not...


COOPER: ... that they`re somehow advised not to talk about just got ridiculous...

MELBER: Right.

COOPER: ... which was part of the reason why...


MELBER: I have to fit in a break. Yes, I have to fit in a break.

But I love catching up with you on this. And those are all important questions.

And I hope you will come back. Helene Cooper, thank you.

COOPER: I will be your UFO reporter.

MELBER: Let`s go. You can be a correspondent.

I mean, and then if you do break the story that there are UFOs powered by actual aliens, that will be -- I would tell you, that would be a big story.

COOPER: You think...


MELBER: Thank you. We will see you again.


MELBER: I do. I think so.

We will see you again.

When we come back: why John Oliver is roasting THE BEAT.


MELBER: So, we quote all kinds of music here on THE BEAT, but it`s the rap quotes that seem to draw the most reaction.

And HBO comedian John Oliver has pulled together montages of this before.



NARRATOR: And now Ari Melber, rap genius.

MELBER: To paraphrase Kanye West, you will have to wait for the 35th of Nevuary, the 35th of Nevuary.

Well, you know what Kanye calls that is the 35th of Nevuary.

I`m worried that we`re going to run out of our Kanye references.

Here`s how the rapper Drake explains that narrative lesson. You can`t listen to me talk and then tell my story.

OLIVER: And now this.

NARRATOR: And now Ari Melber, rap genius, volume two, just Jay-Z quotes.

MELBER: As Jay-Z would say, either love me or leave me alone.

As you know, Jay-Z says what`s better than one billionaire? Two.


MELBER: As Jay-Z said, men lie, women lie. Numbers don`t lie.


MELBER: So that`s how we first got on Oliver`s radar.

Now, in his brand-new show last night, he went back in on THE BEAT with a new montage that seems to suggest we should stop.


OLIVER: And now this.

NARRATOR: And now Ari Melber, rap genius, will just not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) stop.

MELBER: Good evening. Welcome to Miami, as Will Smith would say.

To paraphrase A$AP Ferg, chasing, chasing, chasing, all this ballot chasing.

To paraphrase Lauryn Hill, Pruitt may think he`s more powerful than two Cleopatras, but he`s still ready to flip it in the swamp on a dirty mattress.

There is a lyric for that, Margaret.


MELBER: Which is, Jay-Z said mama always told me don`t argue with fools, because people from a distance can`t see who is who.

I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye, the always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye. I miss the old Kanye.

Jay Electronica. When I look in the mirror, all I see is flaws.

And wasn`t it Pusha T who said I believe there`s a God above me, I`m just the god of everything else?

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: That`s pretty powerful.

MELBER: Wasn`t it Drake who said the game is sold separately?

Another way to put it is, started from the Biden, and now we here.

ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: You could put it that way, Ari. Yes, you could.


MELBER: Shout-out to Ali Vitali, Ayman Mohyeldin, Errin Haines and others for rolling with those moments.

Now, as for Mr. Oliver, he thinks I quote too much, so let me put this message to him in my own words.

John, you keep challenging me with this confrontation or smoke. And it makes me wonder, why are you flexing? You don`t want no smoke. You keep posting videos, but you are a nonsmoker. You ain`t no real soldier.

Now, are those my own words, or are they a strained Gucci Mane reference? We may never know.

As for any real beef with Mr. Oliver, I will stay out of the ring, because you never, ever battle a comedian, especially one this incisive and funny.

That does it for our update on what HBO thinks of THE BEAT.

But we have something else to show you. Up ahead, a fashion icon, the legendary Diane von Furstenberg -- next.









SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": Award-winning designer and a fashion icon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the foremost leaders in the world of fashion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The iconic designer is known for creating the wrap dress in the 1970s.

CLINTON: I was one of those young women many years ago who fell in love with the wrap dress. It was a liberating, empowering way to dress.


MELBER: They`re talking about a fashion icon, Diane von Furstenberg, a designer, businesswoman, entrepreneur who gave us the wrap dress and so much more and has stayed atop the world of style for decades.

Her new book is "Own It: The Secret to Life," and we thought it`d be interesting to hear from you.

Thanks for being here.



I want to look at a quick headline, Kamala Harris in "Vogue." They say her approach, her style, her Converse rewrote the book on political style. What do you think of someone like her breaking barriers, as a woman vice president, avoiding some of these traps, and dealing with the sexist double standards, but also being a woman who presents herself every day?

I`m curious what you see there?

VON FURSTENBERG: Well, first of all, Kamala is a very, very smart woman. And she is who she is.

So, clearly, because she is who she is, no matter what she does, she is stylish, and because she owns it. She`s comfortable with herself. Therefore, she`s confident. And, therefore, she`s beautiful.

MELBER: I like that.

Looking at the book, which is sort of a -- offers inspiration and guidance for people, I`m just going to read a little part where you talk about being liberated, "freeing ourselves from restrictions, bringing an enormous sense of lightness."

And then you write: "Women`s liberation is the movement I grew up with. And I always carry its flame in my heart and in my actions."

Tell me about that and what you see in this next generation of women?

VON FURSTENBERG: Well, I was -- yes, when I first came to New York, I mean, I -- from -- I`m -- there was Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. And I loved these women.

It was -- we were -- it was liberation. And so I`m a feminist with as many M`s as possible. And then my children -- my daughter`s generation, they just took it for granted.

But what I think is very exciting about today is the Gen Z and the millennium, but the Gen Z particularly are very much feminist. And I think that`s wonderful.

MELBER: Where do you see fashion going as people get off Zoom and back out of the house, but are out of practice, some, of being -- presenting in work or social situations?

VON FURSTENBERG: Well, first of all, for me, I mean, my humble role in fashion has always been to put the woman before fashion, right?

So, I love utilitarian clothes. I love -- because, when you`re comfortable, you look good. But, of course, fashion is also the mood. It`s also seasonal. It`s also all of that. And that`s why I make these prints, because now it`s spring, and you feel -- you feel like spring.

So you go for flowers, and you go for light colors. And so DVF is really a collection of collectibles that you collect, and somehow never go out of style. So, it is clear that, after the pandemic, it`s not so much the top, because we all did so many Zooms, and so we make sure that we are good in - - at the top.

MELBER: Right.

VON FURSTENBERG: But you don`t want to know what happens down there.

And it`s the shoes. The shoes is the next big issue, because we have all been barefoot for so long. So, shoes is going to be very interesting. What kind of shoes will we wear?

MELBER: Well, I have heard -- and I don`t know -- I`m well out of my expertise, but I have heard shoes can make or break an outfit. I have heard that.


MELBER: I`m running out of time, but I want to -- yes? OK.

I want to thank you for making time for us. Your reputation precedes you, Diane von Furstenberg.

VON FURSTENBERG: And remember...


VON FURSTENBERG: Own it. Own it.


MELBER: There it is. Well, that`s where we were going. I like you holding it up. And I will put it up on the screen because we have the graphic too.

The book is "Own It: the Secret to Life." She`s telling secrets. Why not go check it out?

Again, our thanks to Diane von Furstenberg kicking off an exciting Monday edition of THE BEAT.

I will see you tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

And don`t go anywhere. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.