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

Guests: Christopher Hill


President Biden appears at a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Former President Trump returns to the airwaves to push the big lie. An explosive fight erupts over the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And to address issues critical to regional stability, such as maintaining freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

Today, we also discussed ways that the Republic of Korea and the United States will work together to address the challenges of our time, beginning with our efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic globally.

We agreed to establish a comprehensive vaccine partnership to expand the manufacture of vaccines that have been approved safe and effective. And we can scale up -- and so we can scale up global vaccine supplies. We will strengthen our ability to fight the pandemic and respond to future biological threats.

When it comes to fighting climate change, the Republic of Korea and the United States are committed to making ambitious 2030 targets aligned with the effort to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050.

And we`re going to work together, both to mobilize climate finance for developing countries and to make sure that international finances align to promote our climate goals.

We also talked about how to harness our nation`s technological advantages to ensure the Republic of Korea and the United States are cooperating to shape, to shape emerging technologies around our shared value system.

This includes everything from strengthening our cybersecurity to deepening our cooperation to build an open, secure G5 network -- a 5G network, I should say.

I`m talking about the G5. That`s another organization.


BIDEN: I`m thinking organization, Mr. President.

To secure the 5G networks. And I`m particularly gratified that so many leading South Korea companies see the benefits of investing in the United States, including this morning`s announcement of more than $25 billion in new investments from Samsung, Hyundai, SK, and LG.

I understand the executives of those companies are here.

Would you please stand up?


BIDEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you. And I think we will do great work together.

These new investments are going to create thousands of good-paying jobs and jobs of the future right here in the United States. And they`re going to help fortify and secure the supply chains for things like semiconductors and electric batteries.

I know, as I said, that the CEOs made the effort not only to do this, but to be here today. And, again, I thank them for being here.

I thank you for making the investments in our future and yours.

Finally, I want to note that, yesterday, I had the honor of signing into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to help Americans of Asian descent from having to live in fear just walking down the streets of the United States. Quite frankly, I have been ashamed, ashamed at the way some Americans have responded.

And there is a long history in this country of contributions of Asian Americans being overlooked, forgotten and ignored. And I affirmed to President Moon today what I said yesterday, that we`re committing and we`re going to stay committed to stopping the hatred based on this bias, I promise you.

Our people share a long history. Our soldiers have fought alongside one another. Our scientists work side by side in both our countries. Our students study together, share ideas, and seed new opportunities for future collaboration.

And our people, our people-to-people and cultural connections are only growing.

And K-pop fans are universal.


BIDEN: Now, I can tell those who laugh know what I`m talking about.


BIDEN: Well, anyway, I will get back to that later.

The Korean actors took home an Oscar for supporting actors this year, following up on the four Oscar wins for the movie "Parasite" last year. And so our two countries, our two nations have the tools and the deep connections that we need to make even stronger alliances and stronger cooperation.

And I want to thank you again for the meetings today, Mr. President, particularly our long private meeting. I appreciated that a great deal. And I`m looking forward to working closely with you and your team as we expand and strengthen our efforts to shape the future together. And I mean that literally, to shape the future together.

So, thank you.

Mr. President.

MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Honorable President Biden, Madam Vice President, I extend my deepest gratitude to you for your special hospitality and welcome.

Today, our leaders and delegates of Korea and the United States met each other`s eye and had a dialogue. For the peoples of our two nations, this will give them hope for recovery from COVID-19, as well as a meaningful gift for celebrating the 139th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.

President Biden and I had an awarding ceremony for the Medal of Honor to the Korean War veteran, a one-on-one meeting, as well as an expanded summit. For many hours together, we have had a very fun dialogue like old friends.

As regards the promotion of democracy, inclusive growth, the strengthening of the middle class, climate change response, as well as many other areas, the two of us were able to see for ourselves that we had common interests and commitments.

In particular, we reaffirmed the strength of the ROK-U.S. alliance and confirmed the common vision for developing it into an even stronger one.

During my visit this time, the trust that has been built up between President Biden and I will foster deeper friendship between our two peoples and lay a firm foundation that will undergird the sustainable development of the ROK-U.S. alliance. And I say this with confidence.

The most urgent common task that our two countries must undertake is achieving complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Recently, the Biden administration completed its DPRK policy review, building on past agreements, including the Singapore joint statement, while taking a calibrated and practical approach to seeking diplomacy with North Korea, is indeed a welcome direction of the Biden administration`s North Korea policy.

During the course of the review, our two countries closely coordinated with each other in lockstep, which I note with much appreciation.

Moreover, I welcome President Biden`s appointment of Ambassador Sung Kim as special representative for North Korean policy. This reflects the firm commitment of the U.S. for exploring diplomacy and its readiness for dialogue with North Korea.

I have high expectations all the more, as such a man of high caliber with expertise in the Korean Peninsula issues has been appointed.

President Biden and I discussed that dialogues based on commitments made between the two Koreas and between the U.S. and North Korea are essential for making a peaceful Korean Peninsula. This is the belief that we were able to reaffirm.

Moreover, President Biden also expressed his support for the inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation. Under close cooperation with the U.S., we will work to facilitate progress in inter-Korean relations, so as to achieve a virtuous cycle with U.S.-DPRK dialogue.

Moving forward as well, Korea and the United States will continue close communication, while exploring our North Korea approach through dialogue and diplomacy. On that, I expect a positive response from North Korea..

When strong security is firmly in place, we can preserve and make peace. The two of us agreed to further reinforce our combined defense posture and reaffirmed our commitment to a conditions-based transition of wartime operational control.

It is also with pleasure that I delivered the news on the termination of the revised missile guidelines. The signing of ROK-U.S. special measures agreement on burden-sharing in the early days of the Biden administration displays for the world the robustness of our alliance as a symbolic and practical measure.

Today, at the summit, President Biden and I decided to expand our cooperation in new emerging areas that are relevant for the changing times and landscape.

First, to surmount COVID-19, our most urgent task, we pledged to pool our strength together. America`s advanced technologies and Korea`s production capabilities will be married to establish a comprehensive chorus, global vaccine partnership.

Collaboration between our two countries will boost global vaccine supply and contribute to accelerating a complete ending of COVID-19.

Through the global health security agenda, which aims to enhance infectious disease response capability, multilateral cooperation will be pursued as well. Under this broad framework of vaccine cooperation, illustrating the robust ROK-U.S. alliance, an important announcement was made.

President Biden pledged to supply vaccines to Korean servicemen.

I thank you, Mr. President. This announcement of the U.S., I believe, extends the ROK-U.S. alliance to the field of health in a meaningful measure.

Second, from semiconductors, E.V. batteries, pharmaceuticals to other cutting-edge manufacturing technology sectors, in an effort to build secure supply chains, we committed to work in close concert.

Digital transformation is accelerating. And the areas of cutting edge emerging technologies are gaining greater importance. Korea and the U.S., in response to a post-COVID-19 era, plan to strengthen our cooperation in civil space exploration, 6G and green energy to secure global competitiveness.

Furthermore, to join the advance into overseas nuclear power plant markets, we decided to bolster our partnership. Third, in a bid to address climate change, we will further solidify coordination between our two countries.

Our two nations are already spearheading global cooperation in climate change response. Last April, the U.S. hosted a leaders summit on climate successfully. Korea, for its part, in next week is hosting P4G Seoul Summit, once again trying to build the international community`s collective will for climate change response.

President Biden will participate in the P4G Seoul Summit next week virtually. I welcome his participation, which will certainly help us catalyze the international community to come together.

President Biden and I participated in the ceremony for awarding a Medal of Honor to a Korean War veteran, Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr. Based on the ROK- U.S. alliance, rooted in the noble sacrifices of our heroes, our two nations will usher in a new future together, without a doubt.

Today`s meetings between President Biden and myself and between the U.S. and Korea will mark another milestone for bilateral cooperation towards a new era. President Biden has extended such warm hospitality, and I express my deepest gratitude once again.

I look forward to our frequent communication and continued close consultation.

Last, but not least, yesterday, Israel and Hamas agreed on a cease-fire, which is indeed a relief. I appreciate President Biden`s hard work and leadership in this regard.

Thank you.

BIDEN: Thank you.

Well, first question, I`m told, is MaryAlice Parker (sic), ABC.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate it.

What is your message to Democrats who want you to be more confrontational with Israel, and specifically to those that are saying that there should be an end to arms sales? I mean, do you recognize that there`s been a shift, an evolution in your party, Mr. President, in the last 20 years on this issue?

And I have a question for President Moon, but I can wait, or I can....

BIDEN: There is no shift in my commitment, my commitment to the security of Israel, period, no shift, not at all.

But I tell you what there is a shift in. The shift is that we have to -- we still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer, the only answer.

And what I`m convinced of is that we can now move, as I had -- did even we -- I was able to negotiate -- well, I shouldn`t -- before the cease-fire was negotiated, that I made it clear that I spoke with President Abbas.

We were -- we`re going to make sure that we`re going to provide for security in the West Bank. And we renewed the security commitment, as well as economic commitment to the people on the West Bank.

I also indicated to the Israelis that I thought it was very important that they stop in Jerusalem this intercommunal fighting that is by extremes on both sides. It has to end. It has to end.

And I`m prepared to put together and am going to attempt to put together a major package with other nations who share our view to rebuild the homes, and, without reengaging, without providing Hamas the opportunity to rebuild their weapons systems, rebuild the Gaza -- rebuild Gaza.

And they need the help. And I`m committed to get that done. And so I don`t -- and I think that my party still supports Israel.

Let`s get something straight here. Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.

QUESTION: Can I ask a question to President Moon?

I`m curious if the two of you have offered any assurances behind the scenes to Taiwan and if President Biden has -- has pushed you to take a tougher stance when it comes to China`s posture towards Taiwan.

BIDEN: Good luck.

MOON (through translator): Well, fortunately, there wasn`t such pressure.

But, as for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, we agreed how important that region is, especially considering the special characteristics between China and Taiwan.

We decided to work more closely on this matter going forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we have a question for Korean journalist over here.

Yes, two from the left.

QUESTION (through translator): Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

I`m Kang (ph) from Yono News (ph).

I have a question to both of the presidents here.

As was mentioned by the former journalist, I understand that the Israel and Palestine issues is very important, but North Korea`s nuclear issue is equally important.

On your to-do list, what`s the number that`s given to the North Korean nuclear issue on your priority list, Mr. -- President Biden?

And also, to Mr. -- President Moon, in terms of your road map for resolving the nuclear issue in North Korea, I want to understand whether your time schedule actually matches and is equal to one another in terms of resolving the issues on the Korean Peninsula.

MOON (through translator): So, to begin, under the new Biden administration, the DPRK policy review has been completed in a rather fast period of time.

That means that the Biden administration puts priority on its North Korea policy among its diplomatic tasks. And, also, in terms of reviewing its DPRK policy, there was a very close coordination, as well consultations, between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

So, the principle of the negotiations toward North Korea has already been announced by the U.S. government, very calibrated, practical, gradual, step-by-step manner, and very flexible. That is the approach that the current administration is aiming to adopt. So, that is the common understanding that we have with the United States. And we`re going to continue to work forward on this.

And in terms of the timeline for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, there aren`t any differences in terms of how we think about this, no differences in terms of our opinions.

BIDEN: I agree with what the president just said.

Our goal is and remains complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We want to make practical progress and increase security of the United States, for the United States, and our allies.

We closely studied what others have tried and what worked and what hasn`t worked, and under -- we`re under no illusions how difficult this is, none whatsoever.

And the past four administrations have not achieved the objective. It`s an incredibly difficult objective.

As we move forward, we`re going to stay in very close coordination with our friends and our partners in the region, including President Moon. And we fully recognize that this is about our collective security in the Indo- Pacific region.

And so -- but total denuclearization is our objective, and remains so.

Oh, I get the next question, huh? I`d like to ask the press a question, if I may.


BIDEN: Nancy Cordes, CBS.

QUESTION: OK. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

I have one question about North Korea and one question about Israel.

BIDEN: We have changed this one question thing, haven`t we?


QUESTION: Two foreign policy questions.

You have said in the past you would not meet with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, without certain preconditions.


QUESTION: What are those preconditions? And do you believe he would ever be able to meet them?

BIDEN: Well, what I never do is, I never make a judgment what a man or woman is going to do or not do based on what they said.

We will see if he made any commitment. Then I would meet with him, and if there was a commitment on which we met. And the commitment has to be that there`s discussion about his nuclear arsenal.

And if it`s merely, and a means by which how do we escalate what they`re doing. And so, if that was the case, I would not meet unless there was some outline made that my secretary of state and others would have negotiated as to how we would proceed.

But what I would not do is, I would not do what had been done in the recent past. I would not give him all that he`s looking for, is national, international recognition as legitimate and legitimate and say and give them what -- and allowed him to move in a direction of appearing to be more -- how can I say it, more serious about what he wasn`t at all serious about.

I`d have to know specifics. But the idea of never meeting with North Korea, I would make sure that my team had met with his counterpart -- their counterparts and I know exactly what we`re meeting on.

QUESTION: And then, in the wake of all of your conversations this week, what is your relationship like now with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

Do you have certain expectations that he will bolster the rights of the Palestinian people in some way? And, if so, did you convey that to him in your conversations?

BIDEN: One of the reasons why we were able to get a cease-fire in 11 days is I didn`t do what other people have done. I don`t talk about what I tell people in private. I don`t talk about what we negotiate in private.

What I can assure you, though, is that the last time, it took 56 days and six months to get a cease-fire. I`m praying this cease-fire will hold. I take Bibi Netanyahu -- when he gives me his word, I take him at his word. He`s never broken his word to me.

And -- but what I have made clear is that it`s essential, it`s essential that the Palestinians in -- on the West Bank be secured, that Abbas be recognized as the leader of the Palestinian people, which he is.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. We have recognize it that. But that doesn`t mean we should not be in Gaza, rebuilding Gaza for all those innocent people who, in fact, have been hurt and had been collateral damage, including the loss of homes and a whole range of other things, as well as insisting that Israeli citizens, whether they be Arab or Jew, are treated equally as Israeli citizens.

And that`s what was going on in Jerusalem. And so that has to come to an end. And Bibi knows -- the prime minister knows my views. And -- but the commitment that was given was immediately kept.

I -- from the very beginning, I told him what our objective was, that there needed to be a cease-fire. And he, in fact, kept his commitment in the time frame in which he said he would do it.

Thank you.

And, by the way, I wasn`t the only one that spoke to him. We had -- look down here -- every major player on my team, from the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, all the way down the line, and our national security adviser were in constant contact with their counterparts in Israel, in Egypt, and throughout the Middle East.

And this was not something that was just done with a casual conversation between myself and Bibi. I have -- it`s presumptuous of me to say this, but -- Mr. President, but I think I have got a great team.

And I spent a lot of time with El-Sisi on the phone and -- in Egypt, and they have done a commendable job of bringing Hamas to the table and getting them to agree to a cease-fire as well.

Thank you.

Is that it?

MOON (through translator): Yes, a lady -- ladies do not raise their hands? Do we not have female journalists from Korea?

QUESTION (through translator): Good afternoon from "Korea Herald." My name is E.G. Yun (ph).

The Korean people are very curious about vaccines. And they`re waiting for the good news regarding vaccine. I understand that you have had a lot of discussions with President Biden regarding vaccine. And I wonder whether you have any good news to deliver to the people of Korea.

And has there been any meaningful achievement that you want to go into the details of?

MOON (through translator): Yes.

Regarding vaccine cooperation, you can read the joint statement, and also the remarks that were issued as press release today.

But to emphasize it once again, between the U.S. and Korea, for vaccine cooperation, there will be a comprehensive partnership to be established between our two nations. And there has been an agreement between our two sides on that.

The U.S. has the ability to develop vaccines. And Korean companies have the capacity to produce a biomedicine. And we are going to combine those capabilities, so that we can boost vaccine supply, so that we can accelerate the rollout of vaccines to the entire world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, for supplying vaccines to that region.

I believe that we will be able to make a contribution in that regard. And in the process, Korea, in my opinion, will get some help in stabilizing our vaccine supply.

And, at the same time, for the sake of the ROK-U.S. alliance, President Biden decided to provide vaccines to the servicemen in Korea. As soon as the U.S. is ready, I understand there will be an announcement to be made by the U.S. side.

BIDEN: By the way, I (OFF-MIKE) prematurely make that.

We`re going -- there are 550,000 Korean soldiers, sailors, airmen who work in close contact with American forces in Korea. We will provide full vaccinations for all 550,000 of those Korean forces engaging with American forces on a regular basis, both for their sake, as well as the sake of the American forces.

In addition to that, we have talked about the ability to have vaccines produced with our -- working with -- and this is in the offing -- working with one of the major vaccine producers in the United States, and to -- where Korea is incredibly sophisticated, and, with the help of that particular -- that particular company, will be able to make significant numbers of vaccines for themselves.

And, lastly, it is my hope and expectation -- I cannot commit to it because we don`t know for certain -- but we think that, over the remainder of 2021, we`re going to be able to vaccinate every American. We have enough -- we have enough vaccinate every American, period, right now.

And we`re going to be able to do that by the midsummer. And we`re going to continue to get more people to engage in seeking a vaccine. I don`t believe, I never have believed that there`s a large percentage of Americans who will not take the vaccine.

And we`re doing very imaginative things, and states are, to get people to show up and have the vaccine. But we believe, we believe that, between the second half of 2021 and going in through 2022, we could produce as many as another billion doses of vaccine, because it`s not just -- and this is what I like about this president.

He`s not just talking about -- any more than I`m just talking about the United States or just Korea, he`s talking about the Indo-Pacific. He`s talking about the world.

We with advanced capabilities have an obligation to do everything we can to provide for protection of the entire world. I know that is an awfully, awfully, awfully ambitious proposal. But I think the nations that have that capacity are going to be continuing to work toward getting that done.

And so thank you.

QUESTION: I have one more for the president.

BIDEN: If you`re not asking me a mean one, like you usually do.


QUESTION: It`s something interesting, I think, this time.

President Obama says that there is footage and records of objects in the skies, these unidentified aerial phenomenon. And he says we don`t know exactly what they are.

What do you think that it is?

BIDEN: I would ask him again.

Thank you.


BIDEN: Come on, boss. Let`s go.



JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: That was President Joe Biden holding a press conference with South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

I`m Jason Johnson, in for Ari Melber.

Joining me now is Shannon Pettypiece, senior White House reporter for NBC News Digital, former RNC Chair Michael Steele, and Chris Hill, former ambassador to South Korea and Iraq.

Thank you all so very much.

Shannon, I will begin with you.

So, where was this sort of prioritized in the meetings with world leaders for the new Biden administration? Was this sort of his foray into sort of a new series of discussions with Asian leaders? Or was this something that had already been kind of planned from the moment he got into office?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC DIGITAL SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it certainly shows this president and this administration`s focus on Asia and Southeast Asia, and underlying all of that, China, of course.

The first foreign leader visit he had was the Japanese prime minister. This is the second foreign leader visit. And White House administration officials say, make no mistake, that has to do with China. You heard the president mentioned that a bit, about trying to secure the China -- the Taiwanese Strait and trying to address some of the aggression that they are seeing from China.

And the focus so much has been on the Middle East. And you certainly heard the president talking about that. But this certainly is an attempt to get the focus back on Asia and China, where the president sees the biggest threat, from a foreign policy perspective, to the United States.

JOHNSON: And, Shannon, when you -- when you saw this press conference here, did you see -- is this sort of the emergence or the attempt to sort of lay out what might be an Asia policy for this new Biden administration, other than containing China?

Did you hear anything here, was there anything sort of laid out that might give us a blueprint going forward?

PETTYPIECE: Yes, I think this is the most in detail we have heard the president talk about his North Korea strategy.

The administration said they were going to review it. They conducted a review. And now they`re starting to lay the groundwork for their strategy and what it`s going to look like on North Korea. You heard President Biden say that it will not be easy. He has no illusions about striking some sort of deal, that it is going to be hard work.

You also heard him say that he is open to meeting with Kim Jong-un, but only if there are conditions, only if it is tied to talking about denuclearizing the peninsula. He is not going to do what his predecessor did. And he called that out quite pointedly, saying he is not going to give Kim a higher profile on the international stage if the U.S. and the global community don`t get anything in return.

So, he made that point, and also made the point that the goal is still denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Administration officials told us going into this, though, that they are not looking for some grand bargain right away. They are fine with some incremental progress they can make.

They`re not taking that approach of the Trump administration where they think they can solve this overnight. Instead, they`re looking to take a progression of steps toward some progress towards denuclearization.

JOHNSON: Want to bring in our former ambassador here to give us some perspective.

So, from the South Korean perspective, obviously, there`s a huge difference between President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. From the perspective of President Moon, is this something that he embraces? Is he looking at Joe Biden as sort of a reset of American-Korean relations? Was Trump much of an anomaly?

What did you hear from his part of this press conference that we just listened to?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, look, the Koreans are very good allies. They have been allies for a long time. And they will work with whatever president this country chooses to elect. That said, I can assure you they are very relieved to be dealing with Joe Biden.

A couple of points there. I think they were a little nervous in the last couple of months, when this kind of review the North Korea thing went on and on. And I think what they`re worried about was seeing the rock go right back to the base of the hill again, and we`d have to start from zero.

So, naming a special envoy, a very familiar face for them, Ambassador Sung Kim, who was U.S. ambassador in Korea -- he was also one of the special envoys who dealt with the North Korean issue -- must have been a great relief to the Koreans. So there won`t be much learning curve for Sung Kim.

I think they were also looking for kind of ally-to-ally-type talk and the concept that we`re going to really work with them on the COVID vaccination issue.

President Moon did a great job early on in containing the virus. But there`s been an awful lot of criticism of him in terms of the vaccination. So, this is really helpful to him.

I would keep in mind one thing President Biden said during the press conference, which is, I`m not in the habit of telling everybody what was said behind closed doors.

And I suspect there was a lot said behind doors about, what are we going to do about China? The Koreans have their own kind of tough experiences with China. They go back about 4,000 years. But they have also gone back just a few months, when the Chinese kind of threw the book at them over this deployment of U.S. missiles.

So, I think they were very -- they probably had a very serious discussion. They don`t want to see all this great break. They don`t want to see this decoupling that you hear about in think tanks, but they want to see that we have got a strategy.

And I`m sure they were very, very pleased to be talking to President Biden today.

JOHNSON: And, Ambassador, I want to follow up on this, because I thought the vaccine discussion was quite fascinating.

You had President Biden saying, look, we`re going to vaccinate over 500,000 people, Koreans who have got contact with the military. In the United States, we`re dealing with massive vaccine hesitancy, depending on demographics and political ideology.

Is there vaccine hesitancy in Korea with the idea that they will be getting a vaccine from America? Because I know, in the United States, if Joe Biden said, yes, we`re going to get 500,000 versions of a vaccine from North Korea -- from South Korea, Americans would freak out.

So, how`s that playing in South Korea?

HILL: Well, I think it`s pretty clear the Koreans have a supply problem, for a number of technical reasons, and we have a demand problem.

But the president did say, look, I don`t think we`re going to have a demand problem. So I think he`s being a little careful about how he kind of rolls this out and the idea he is giving vaccinations -- giving doses away to the Koreans.

So, they very cleverly came up with this idea, hey, we`re going to take care of the Korean army because they`re the ones who work with the Americans. So I don`t think there will be a lot of complaining in the U.S. that somehow we`re giving away doses and not getting anything in return.

So, I think that was pretty clear. And if you can take away a half-a- million people -- and that is the size of the Korean military force -- and take care of those people, that kind of frees up supply for the Koreans.

But, I mean, most of all, it`s a huge issue in Korea right now. They`re coming around to presidential elections. All their presidents are term- limited to just one term. So it will be a successor to President Moon, but nonetheless from his own party.

So he`s very interested in some good news. And he`s coming back with a lot, especially in terms of these two countries working together. And there`s one other point -- and President Biden alluded to this -- which is the Koreans talk regionally.

This is not just a little country that worries about the Korean Peninsula, and that`s it. They are all over the world. I mean, you can go anywhere in the world, you see Korean business, you see Korean missionaries. And, in particular, they talked about the broader Indo-Pacific space.

So, it`s really a good feeling for Koreans to have these serious discussions. And, of course, it comes on the heels of the serious discussions that the president had with the Japanese prime minister just a month ago.

So I think Korea is feeling that they`re being well-treated. And I think President Biden had a very good feeling. He seemed very upbeat at that press conference. So, all good.

JOHNSON: So, Michael, I`m going to ask you by comparison, right?

So, the previous president, Donald Trump, he had sort of combative relationships with North Korea, and then friendly relationships, and then was praising. In fact, he seemed to spend a lot more time talking about North Korea than South Korea.

What you`re seeing from Joe Biden today, where he seems really chummy with President Moon, where he talks about how they get along, where he makes a reference to K-pop -- he didn`t say anything about BTS. I`m more of a Big Bang fan.

Was that sort of establishing this new tone that we`re seeing from the Biden administration, a return to normal? Or do you think he will eventually change his view towards really discussing North Korea specifically as well, like the previous president?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think both Ambassador Hill and Shannon have put this in the right context.

And it could be summed up in what President Jae-in said. He said their conversation with President Biden was a conversation of old friends. And I think that`s an important signal. It`s the shot heard around the world, if you will, about a reset in this relationship, where North Korea was the dominant player because of the intentions or whatever of the Trump administration.

This president, Biden, understands, from his own long-term relationships around the globe...


STEELE: ... and particularly in this space, coming to the table and saying, we`re going to do a reset here.

We`re -- we have got the big issues, the nuclear arrangements. We have got the COVID, the sort of health care issues. We have got the huge economic issues with China. We`re going to reestablish our relationship with our friend and our partner in South Korea, with this president, Jae-in, and we will move forward from there.

And North Korea, if you`re ready to play and talk to us, then you come correct, right?


STEELE: You show us that you want to be in the league that we`re in.

No more of this false promising and pushing you up and putting your profile out there without -- excuse me -- without consequence.

So, I think this was an enormously important turn for the U.S. and South Korean relations. And I think the ambassador nailed it when he talked about not just the nuances of it, but, more broadly, what this may mean for us going forward.


Michael Steele stays with us.

NBC`s Shannon Pettypiece and Ambassador Chris Hill, thank you all so very much for coming through today.

We turn now to the big political story in Washington. Break`s over. Trump takeover. GOP, Trump`s running your party. Kevin McCarthy, Trump`s running your party. Mitch McConnell, Trump`s running your party.

The boss is back on the airwaves, making it clear to his puppets it`s not time to move on from 2020 and his big lie.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want to talk about the election fraud.

The weak Republicans don`t want to talk about it, the weak or stupid or RINOs, or call them whatever you want. And yet the voter, the Republican voter, that`s what they want to hear. They want to hear about 2020. They want to find out.


JOHNSON: Really? They want to find out? They want to find out about 2020, as opposed to COVID relief?

Look, President Trump, former President Trump, he`s still pushing the election lie, that they want to find out about the lie. But Republicans don`t seem to want to find out about the insurrection, something that happened directly to them, just a couple months ago.


TRUMP: Our people better get smart, and our weak Republican leadership better do something about it, or they`re not going to have a job, but it`s going to be much worse.

McConnell is hopeless. And he can`t stop anything.


JOHNSON: Back with me, former RNC Chair Michael Steele and "The Nation"`s Joan Walsh.

Thank you all so much for being with me today.

So, Joan, I`m going to start with this. President Trump goes on the OAN Network. And the first thing he starts to talk about is why ratings have dropped for FOX.

I want to play this sound bite and get your thoughts on the other side.



TRUMP: FOX is way down. FOX is comparing its numbers to last year. But, last year, they went way down, because people felt that they really abandoned what they believed in, what I think a majority of the people of this country believed in.


JOHNSON: Now, look, I`m not a ratings guru here, but the fact that he spends time in an interview, one of the most important things for him to talk about is the ratings of what used to be basically the fourth estate, does that show you where sort of Trump`s priorities are now, or does it just tell you where the GOP priorities are now?

WALSH: Well, both.

There`s really no distinguishing them, Jason, as you know. But it is interesting that he`s talking to a relatively low-rated program. This is where he`s going. This is where he`s telling his story, while he`s trashing FOX, which still has many, many more viewers. So, that`s kind of funny.

I thought it was also funny that he was trashing Mitch, because Mitch is protecting him. Mitch is about to create -- have a filibuster against the January 6 commission, which he once sounded like he very much wanted. So, Mitch is doing everything right, except, throughout that three-and-a-half minutes, which I have only watched for you, Jason -- normally, I wouldn`t - - I wouldn`t bother doing that. But...

JOHNSON: Thank you.

WALSH: You`re welcome.

You know, he`s still convinced that there`s some way to undo this. He has this great line where he says, if there`s a bank robbery, you got to get back the diamonds. And the voters want somebody to get back the diamonds. Obviously, he`s the diamond. His presidency is the diamond.

And he literally seems -- still seems to think that he`s somehow going to be restored. So that`s the nature of the delusion. But, at the same time, it`s a dangerous delusion, because, as you said, he`s running the House. He`s the House speaker. He`s the Senate minority leader.

And he has the most power in the party, so -- but thanks for making me watch it, because it was very enlightening.

JOHNSON: Look...

WALSH: Now I`m going to go have a drink.


JOHNSON: Look, they already have their Diamond and Silk. What other diamonds do they want?


JOHNSON: Michael...

STEELE: Oh, geez.


JOHNSON: So, Michael, I got to find this...


JOHNSON: I am amazed by this.

And, look, I understand sort of bad faith arguments. I understand, like I said, Trump -- it`s the crossover. It`s the takeover. He runs the party.

But what I don`t understand is Republicans being averse to investigating something that endangered them and Mike Pence.

I want to play this sound bite from Mike McCarthy right now and get your thoughts on the other side.


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.

I think a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent.


JOHNSON: What happened to this guy? What happened? What has changed in this Republican Party?

STEELE: Trump.


STEELE: That`s the only change.

The rest of us same souls are looking at people like McCarthy and going, what the hell did you drink for dinner last night? It`s just crazy. It`s -- I would much rather -- to be very honest with you -- and it`s so good to be back on with Joan, because we haven`t been on the air together in a long time.


STEELE: And I would much rather be debating with her about the president`s decision on the XL Pipeline, or just exactly how much money we should spending on infrastructure.

But here we are yet again bubbling around this universe of stupid, trying to read tea leaves of people who are clueless about what happened, because they want to be.


WALSH: Right.

STEELE: This is not, oh, my God, we just didn`t know. We didn`t know that people attacked the Capitol on January 6. We didn`t know that Donald -- that Donald Trump didn`t win the election.

They know all of this. And so to pretend like somehow we`re discovering something with them, it`s just foolishness. So, we need to stop, because this stuff just drives us nuts, because you can`t wrap your head around an enigma that`s in a bucket of slop. It just doesn`t work.

JOHNSON: Michael, Michael, Michael...

STEELE: So, Trump did his interview on OAN. I will finish here.

Trump did his interview on OAN. God bless him. Turn the channel, move on to something else, because we just had an important discussion about our relationship with our partners in -- on the Korean Peninsula.

JOHNSON: South Korea.

WALSH: With a real president.

STEELE: We got have an economy that`s rebounding. We have got a country that`s opening up.

So, there`s so much more that we need to talk about. If Republicans want to spend their time around Donald Trump`s skirt, trying to figure out how to hug that kneecap, let them. We move on as a country.

JOHNSON: I will say this quick. We will take it to Joan.

One, I -- again, I don`t understand a party that can`t recognize the difference between terrorist and tourist.

Joan, heading into 2022, do you think, quickly, is this going to be an albatross around the Republican Party`s neck? Or do their voters just not care about this obsession with a one-term, twice-impeached president who`s hanging out and blogging in Florida?

WALSH: Look, a lot of his voters do care. They still do care.

But we have got to look at two things that happened this week. First of all, every -- practically every show I watch, there`s a new announcement of somebody who`s been arrested for their involvement in January 6, and also more and more people who are being arrested for conspiracy.

So, we`re starting to learn about that.

The other thing that happened, obviously, is the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, has come forward and said, Mr. Trump, the Trump crime family, this is now a criminal investigation.

And so I think you need to see these two things together, as you listen to his delusion and paranoia and attempted bullying. And I think those things are going to change the landscape by 2022.

I`m not sure, but I think it`s -- we`re going to be in a different position in a year.

JOHNSON: I am never optimistic, but I actually believe you on this one.

Joan Walsh and Michael Steele, thank you so very much.

Coming up: Republican hypocrisy and the stifling of speech on campus.

Stay with us. This is Jason Johnson, in for Ari Melber, on THE BEAT.


JOHNSON: Now to the conservative effort to suppress classroom lessons about racism and slavery.

"The Times" reporting on nearly a dozen Republican-led states seeking to ban or limit how the role of slavery and the pervasive effects of racism can be taught. FOX News goes all in on the issue.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: A curriculum that teaches their kids to hate their country.

STEPHEN MILLER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The political left in perpetuating this myth that America is a fundamentally racist country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden now wants to spend your money on critical race theory lessons for our country`s already distressed students.

CARLSON: Last month, the Department of Education proposed a regulation that directs tax dollars to the race hustlers who traffic in this poison.


JOHNSON: Tucker is the last person who should be talking about any form of trafficking.

Now parts of academia are aligning with the right-wing rhetoric, and, in doing so, exhibiting cowardice and a lack of integrity.

Case in point, the explosive fight over the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant -- they don`t hand those out to everybody -- whose 1619 Project famously looked at the legacy of U.S. slavery, and who this year was appointed the prestigious Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the University of North Carolina, which is usually a tenured job, except not this time.

In a highly unusual step, the university`s board of trustees denied Hannah- Jones tenure, breaking with the recommendation of the actual Journalism Department that was hiring her. It`s already provoking a backlash, the UNC board claiming today Hannah-Jones has a "limited" -- quote, unquote -- academic background, even though she received her master`s degree from -- wait for it -- University of North Carolina, which, I should note, is also my alma mater, where I got my doctorate.

And I know the difficulty that they put people through.

So, what`s really going on here? Well, first, there`s the larger issue of diversity in academia. It`s important to note just 5 percent of tenured professors at bachelor`s universities in America are black. There are a larger percentage of African-American astronauts than black people who are tenured in this country.

It`s easier for us to get shot into space than actually teach undergrads. But there`s also the cowardice element. A university supposedly committed to the free exchange of ideas, which is now afraid of what Nikole Hannah- Jones might say in a classroom, would prefer to bend to politicians like Mitch McConnell, who is on a crusade against The 1619 Project, which I`m sure he hasn`t read, and those voices over on, you know, the crazy place, FOX.


CARLSON: The entirely fraudulent 1619 Project headed by Nikole Hannah- Jones.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: This Hannah-Jones dispute leads to a larger question. Why was a woman who distorts history even up for a tenure position at any university in the first place?


JOHNSON: That might be the largest number of black people they have ever had on their shows.

Joining me now is "New Yorker" staff writer and professor of journalism at Columbia University Jelani Cobb and editor at large for The 19th and an MSNBC contributor Errin Haines.

I can`t wait to have this discussion with both of you today.

Errin, I`m going to start with you.

You wrote really one of the first pieces that people were paying attention to in The 19th about UNC`s board stepping in and stopping the department from offering tenure to Hannah Nikole Jones (sic).

But you also say this is part of a larger problem that we have got happening all across America right now?


And, Jason, let me just stop you there. My colleague Mariel Padilla wrote that story for The 19th.


HAINES: But I`m glad that we had it on our site, because it absolutely is in the wheelhouse of what we care about at The 19th.

But, listen, I am based in Philadelphia, where we love telling stories about the framers, the founding fathers, right, when it comes to folks like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin. We can`t tell that story about America enough, right?


HAINES: But when it comes to slavery, oh, why can`t we move on? Let`s move on.

And, as somebody who`s long covered race issues, this backlash against telling the truth -- I heard Laura Ingraham say -- call it distorting history, but actually correcting the record, is something -- this is usually the reaction to that from some corners of the country who really do not want to confront that history in our country.

And, listen, if journalism is about afflicting the comfortable, Professor Hannah-Jones has certainly struck a nerve here. That is a nerve that has been struck among members of Congress. It is a nerve that has been struck among folks at the statehouse level that are trying to ban 1619 from curriculums at the state level.

And now it appears to have struck a nerve with these folks at the North Carolina university system who feel that somebody who is, frankly, overqualified and whose credentials would certainly stack up, I would think, against any of the Knight Chairs that are teaching journalism at their esteemed program, of which she`s an alum, are now somehow shifting the goalposts and changing the rules.

JOHNSON: And I want to follow up on this.

So, you have got all these state governments who are like, we`re going to stop the teaching of The 1619 Project, which, to me, is the equivalent of saying, we`re going to stop ninja lessons in gym, right? Like, what is the school system that`s demanding that students learn The 1619 Project?

It seems to me that a lot of this anger is simply about the existence of the work, because they can`t seem to show any examples of where white kids in America are being taught to hate themselves.


HAINES: Yes, well, I mean, look -- yes, so this is -- the Pulitzer Center offered this curriculum to school districts across this country, many of whom took them up on that offer, right, because they are trying to fill in the gaps that, frankly, a lot of our black mothers and fathers had to do for us, because we were not learning the full U.S. history when we were in elementary, middle, high school, college in some cases, unless we were seeking that out on their own or unless our families were filling in those gaps for us.

This was not history that was being taught. And so now that this is available for folks, there are folks at the state level, as there have been folks at the state level -- look, the Daughters of the Confederacy didn`t want the Civil War talked about...


HAINES: ... didn`t want slavery talked about in certain terms that were mean or ugly or hurtful to the country or to certain Americans.

So, yes, this is certainly part of a long history of really trying to keep that history away from folks. And, really, all Americans are the worse for...


HAINES: ... not really having a fuller picture of who we and where we are as a country.


And the Pulitzer Center offering is not the same thing as it necessarily being required. It`s an offer. It doesn`t mean that kids are necessarily being indoctrinated.

Jelani, I want to -- I`m going to bring this out to sort of a larger discussion. This is your -- you`re a history professor. This seems like a larger problem that we see about how black excellence is treated, right?

This is reminiscent of when the University of Arizona brought President Obama in, in 2009 and said, we want you to be our keynote speaker, but we don`t want to offer you a degree. No shade to anybody who went to University of Arizona. But if you think the president of the United States is good enough to come to your school, I think it`s good enough to give him an honorary degree.

As a scholar and as an academic, how do you look at the nuances of the fact that the board is OK with having Ms. Hannah-Jones there, but they just don`t want to give her tenure?

JELANI COBB, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think they weren`t really OK with having Ms. Hannah-Jones. That happened as the -- through the machinations of the other layers of an institution that are really intent on having her presence on campus, for reasons that make a lot of sense.

But the fact of the matter is that, if we went through her credentials, which include MacArthur genius award, a Pulitzer Prize, two Polk Awards, a Peabody Award, and three national magazine awards -- so, Jason, you and I have been around academia for a long time.

Correct me if I`m lying when I say that would be an impressive total for a department.

JOHNSON: Yes, exactly.

COBB: If you boasted of that many accolades in your department, you would be doing well.


COBB: This is one individual, so absurdly overqualified for the position, that it only makes more glaring the illogic of the position that the board took. And so this is absolutely about that.

And one other thing that I will add really quickly is that this is an attempt to re-enshrine the syllabus of lies about the American past that were a rationale for white supremacy.


COBB: There has been an ongoing assault.

W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about this. He called it the propaganda of history. And you should go back and read that essay in "Black Reconstruction."

This has been the fundamental calling of black historians in this country, to correct -- add a corrective to the record, so that we might actually present a brief for nonracial democracy in this country.

So, this is why this is a much bigger issue than a single tenure case at a single institution. This is about democracy, this is about academic freedom, and this is about freedom of the press.

JOHNSON: And, as our mutual colleague Adam Serwer recently wrote in "The Atlantic," using the state to try and suppress this information, it`s not going to work. This will simply make us fight harder.

Thank you, guys, so much. Jelani Cobb, Errin Haines, thank you so very much.

That does it for me. Ari is back on Monday.