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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/7/21

Guests: Danya Perry, Perry Farrell, John Stanton


Jane`s Addiction`s Perry Farrell speaks out. The probe into Rudy Giuliani is examined. Congressman Matt launches a national tour with QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Republicans prepare to oust Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her leadership post. An attorney for a Capitol rioters blames FOX News for his client`s actions. Michelle Obama speaks out on Black Lives Matter.



Hi, Ari. Happy Friday.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Friday Nicolle.

I like to end the week sometimes learning from you. My question for you is the one everyone always asks. I don`t have the answer. But why is this Republican Party so caught in the past of someone who`s a losing candidate?

WALLACE: You know, you know what I think about this conversation, that we had this frame around them that Trump made them do it.

And I think we have got to shed that. This is who they are. They are now a party that is brazenly for rolling back access to voting. They`re a party that is totally comfortable with sort of the debasing side of Trumpism. And they`re a party that stands for purging Liz Cheney, who is more conservative than Elise Stefanik.

So they`re not conservative anymore. But it is interesting. I mean, Donna Edwards and Kurt Bardella made comments about their real evidence now that they could represent a threat to what we think of as democracy and democratic values. And that`s just an unbelievable new low.

MELBER: Yes. And, as you say, it`s deeper than any good faith policy or ideological debates, which are welcome in American life. It`s something much deeper, and that`s what makes it scarier, in a way, for those who want to rally around rejecting the outcome of an election.

Always good to get your perspective, Nicolle. I hope you have a good and well-earned weekend.

WALLACE: You too, Ari.

Have a great show.

MELBER: Thank you, Nicolle.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We have a big show tonight, as top Republicans are proclaiming that fealty to Trump that Nicolle and I were just discussing. That is a big story in Washington that has become a bit of a roiling melodrama splitting parts of the Republican Party.

Also, tonight a story we have been all over because it`s a big one, the heat on Rudy Giuliani. Tonight, we go deeper. I have a former SDNY prosecutor versed in the same kind of searches that were used on Giuliani to walk us through all of it. That`s later.

Also, Florida`s Matt Gaetz faces this sex crime probe, but is undeterred, launching a national tour this hour tonight with QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. We have updates on all of that. It`s a story that we think matters and we have been covering for you.

But the top story in Washington is, as mentioned, a Republican Party that`s busier debating itself than finding any sort of plan for the Biden era. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham jumping into this brawl that`s among House Republicans over whether to purge Liz Cheney from leadership for calling out Trump`s big lie.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I would just say to my Republican colleagues, can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no.

I have always liked Liz Cheney, but she`s made a determination that the Republican Party can`t grow with President Trump. I have determined we can`t grow without him.


MELBER: Now, Graham is not just talking here. He`s not just saying words. He is publicly using his power to fortify the House effort to punish Cheney for telling the truth about Trump`s election loss.

The truth is, he lost and he`s the loser of that election. As for the political math, it is certainly a reach for Graham to argue the GOP`s best chance to grow is follow a twice-impeached political figure who never got more votes than the Democrat he ran against. There was 2020.

The problem even broader than Trump. It plagues the modern GOP, which got fewer votes than Democrats in seven of the last eight presidential elections. You want to grow the party, I`m not sure you want to repeat that playbook.

Let me tell you tonight, this goes way beyond Lindsey Graham.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We are a pro-America, populist party rooted in conservative principle with Donald Trump as our leader.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): He brings incredible energy to our voters, to our party.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): House Republicans support President Trump. And they also support his focus on election integrity. President Trump is the leader and the voice of the Republican Party.


MELBER: That last speaker was Elise Stefanik. She`s angling to replace Cheney.

She actually took less conservative positions on tax cuts and the border wall over the past four years. That`s what Nicolle and I were just talking about. Die-hard Republicans of the MAGA ilk want her to replace Cheney, which reinforces how this is not about policy or about what`s good for constituents.

It`s about Trump`s cult of personality, and the GOP`s tragic relationship with a man who constantly attacked them, the GOP leaders. How do you tie yourself to someone who was so relentlessly and publicly terrible to you?

Well, that`s a theme many have explored. as Lady Gaga wrote in "Bad Romance," I want your drama. I want your revenge. I want your design, because you`re a criminal as long as you`re mine.

That song is off Gaga`s play "The Fame Monster," which perhaps seems fitting tonight.

Let`s bring in our experts.

I`m joined by former RNC chair and MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele, who endorsed Joe Biden, and "New York Times" columnist and MSNBC contributor Michelle Goldberg.

Michael, when Gaga is right, she`s right. And we may be going from MAGA to Gaga, if you will. But tell us about this bad romance.


Yes, it is a bad romance. It`s an abusive relationship that is very, very one-sided. And it`s unfortunate that those in the room, if you will, watching the abuse unfold could not step in and stop it, as we have -- as they could have over the last four years, starting with Lindsey Graham, who now is like, oh, I have concluded that we can`t win without Trump.

Well, you haven`t won. You lost the House, you lost the Senate, and you lost the presidency. Tell me, what the hell have you won? And how do you plan to win in the future if that`s -- as you just pointed out, you have lost seven out of the last eight elections nationally?

So, where do you go from here? You are just going to continue to get pounded by Trump inside the room. Folks outside the room are like, well, we will just leave that alone, we will just move on to something else.

And that`s not what a party, at least a governing party, should be about, whether it`s Stefanik or anyone else who thinks they`re going to go out and sell America on Trump and Trumpism, after having so many Americans resoundingly reject it. I don`t get what it is they`re seeing. I don`t see what they`re seeing.

And a lot of folks are scratching their head. So the play must then be, how much grift can we get out of this? Because everybody`s raising -- that`s what this U.S. tour of dumb and dumber is all about, going out and grifting more cash to put it in their coffers.

Where`s the policy? Where`s the principle? You`re going to go out and harangue against socialism coming to America, when we`re living with fascism in the Republican Party. It`s the -- this juxtaposition for me, Ari, is just very clear as day.

And a lot of people, I think, are now beginning to make the moves that are going to be necessary to move forward. It`s a commonsense coalition of Republicans that are about to bust a move. That`s good. There are independent voters out there that have made it very clear where they stand.

So I think that, for the future of this iteration of the party, it`s not as bright as they`re purporting it to be. And the only thing they will be able to take away is maybe some cash, but not a lot of votes.

MELBER: And, Michael, in all fairness to "Dumb and Dumber," on their road trip, they did have a better car. They had the car that looked like a large dog.

STEELE: Yes. They -- yes, a better car, yes.

That will get you where -- where it needs to get you. But the reality of it is, who`s paying attention to this? What is the purpose of it? What policy prescriptions are you going to be offering the country, besides pointing your finger at the opposition and saying, oh, that`s bad?

OK, fine. What`s your solution?

MELBER: Right.

STEELE: So, I think there`s a lot more to this than they think it is in terms of where voters are. And they will see it play out over the next year.

MELBER: And, Michelle, this is more than just political squabbling in Washington, although it includes that.

This is something that Liz Cheney did beat back once, which means she got a majority of her caucus on the -- on record in those meetings they hold. It`s a vote, but it means the majority of them said, yes, she can be here. And here they are, months later, and they`re back over the same debate.

Nothing has changed. It`s just I guess it`s even worse now than it was then to acknowledge the loss. Michelle.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it`s a couple of things.

When we talk about what it means for the Republican Party to win -- I mean, I have said this a million times on your show -- it doesn`t mean winning the most votes. It just means winning power. And there are ways to do that besides winning the most votes.

And so I think this points to a strategy of continuing voter suppression, continuing attacks on elections. You look at figures all over the country that behaved with integrity in the 2020 election are now getting purged from their party.

So, look, it`s very likely that Republicans will be able to redistrict their way to a victory in the House in 2022. Can we really see a Republican House majority acceding to a Democratic presidential victory in 2024? It`s very hard for me to imagine.

The other problem they have is that they sort of can`t win with Trump, but they also can`t win without him, right? Trumpists are not a majority, but anti-Trumpists are also not a majority. The only time that they`re able to win is when they`re able to kind of knit those two groups together, which is a very delicate balancing act.

So, Trump can`t lead the party to victory, but he can definitely lead it to -- he can definitely kind of bring it down in flames, right? We saw what he was able to do in the Georgia Senate special election. When he told his people that it doesn`t matter if you turn out, they didn`t turn out.

And so the Republican Party, in a sense -- I think Lindsey Graham is actually right, in the sense that the Republican Party, as currently constituted, does, in fact, need to stay in Donald Trump`s good graces.

MELBER: Yes, and this is something that, for viewers who caught the very top of the program Nicolle and I were touching on, there was an older belief among some, oh, well, this is a Trump thing because he actually does have the expansive powers of the White House, and when that over it, it will end.

That framework is over, completely discredited by this behavior. Joe Biden was one of the people who was hoping for that, and now he himself has acknowledged it`s not going that way.

Michael, take a look. We put together both of those points of view, as he`s adjusted with the facts. Take a look.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With Donald Trump by the White House -- not a joke -- you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends.

I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.


MELBER: Michael?

STEELE: Yes, I think the president`s pretty right on that.

I mean, look, Joe Biden`s got pretty good at political instincts about these things. And you need those to survive in this town, though, for as long in the way that he has. So he understands what the opposition looks like. And it`s important when you are in the majority to understand what the opposition looks like, and how the opposition not only positions itself, but then how it begins to move within that position.

And when a lot -- in the past, Ari, that`s been anchored to policy. It`s been anchored to philosophy, ideology. It`s been anchored to value says that you have shared over time and that you refine and you set up to make the case against your opponent, right?

And so Joe Biden, sort of anticipating that, and then saying -- that`s why he says, well, they haven`t gotten to where I thought they would be. They have gotten nowhere near where I thought they would be in doing those types of assessments.

Instead, you heard it from the party leadership: We can`t do anything without Donald Trump. We don`t exist without Donald Trump. In fact, we are nothing without Donald Trump.

And if that`s your go-to, if you`re Joe Biden, you`re like, OK. Well, we will just talk to Republican voters. We will talk to the men and women sitting around kitchen tables trying to figure out how to open their businesses up, how to -- when and where to get their vaccine, put their kids back to school, do infrastructure, et cetera.

And that`s why the polling is reflecting -- and it tells you Republicans are with him, because you don`t get to 69 percent on COVID and 55, 60 percent on infrastructure without Republican voters. They like that. And that`s leadership. And that`s what they`re looking for.

MELBER: And so, Michelle, when you take that all together, you say, OK, there`s 16 months left. You just spoke about why, even without a necessary majority coalition, Republicans could take back the House.

McConnell saying 100 percent obstruction. House GOP spending valuable time ousting the one person who managed to reference the truth that Trump lost. Why shouldn`t the Democrats, starting with Chuck Schumer in the Senate, seize on these 18 months, do whatever structural changes they need, including limiting or ending the filibuster, given everything that`s on the table right now?

GOLDBERG: I mean, it`s urgent that they do that. And it`s urgent not just to make Joe Biden`s presidency a success and to rescue a country that still has big economic problems and kind of big social crises, but it`s urgent to preserve our democracy, because we have one democratic party in this country and we have one anti-democratic party in this country.

And the anti-democratic party in this country has structural advantages. It`s going to use whatever power it can accumulate to entrench those advantages. Democrats have sort of one chance right now to level the playing field a little bit.

But in order to do that, they need to get buy-in from people like senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema -- I mean, Kyrsten Sinema. And so they -- voters need to convince them that the future of this country, that the future of democracy really is at stake. And they just need to listen to the Republican Party`s own words, if there`s any doubts.

MELBER: All fair points kicking us off here on Friday night.

Michelle and Michael, thank you.

We have our shortest break, just 30 seconds.

Giuliani getting bad news on the legal front, but, first, Matt Gaetz on this MAGA tour ahead of a critical deadline in the sex crime probe.

Joyce Vance is here when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz faces this federal sex crime investigation, and now he`s about to go public.

The probe, as we have reported on, centers around possible sex with a minor and sex trafficking. These are allegations he denies, and he has not been charged.

But he is doing something unusual. In fact, any minute from now -- we have been tracking this side -- Gaetz -- you can see the people gathered -- will rally at this retirement community in Florida with the so-called QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene,.

Now, Gaetz is a lawyer himself. And he knows what the standard legal advice is here. This would be looked at as a very unnecessary legal risk. He`s speaking again. He`s speaking in public. If he takes questions or talks to people, especially in the phone age, anything that goes on in that room is going to get out.

Now, earlier today, he also launched a kind of Trump-like attack on Liz Cheney, taking political punches as well at others in his party, writing: "Cheney is the darling of the Paul Ryan/John Boehner/Mitt Romney wing of the party. They are the leaders who never led us to bold wins."

Now, will these explosive new allegations come up tonight in any way? The Daily Beast reporting on an alleged confession letter written by Gaetz ally Joel Greenberg, who has already been indicted. They say, according to their reporting, that Greenberg wrote that Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, as well as a girl who was 17 at the time.

As I have said before and will repeat every time we mention this story, it is a blockbuster. They had handwriting experts. It`s a big deal. There`s been responses. But NBC News has not been able to obtain or therefore verify the letter.

Gaetz has been going to conservative media and been pushing back.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): What is happening is an extortion of me and my family.

Actually, you and I went to dinner about two years ago. Your wife was there and I brought a friend of mine. You will remember her.

There is no 17-year-old that I had any sexual contact with as an adult man, absolutely not, does not exist, did not happen.

Well, the things the media has said about me are lies. And the truth will prevail.

They always come for the fighters, Grant, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, Matt Gaetz.


MELBER: I`m joined now by former U.S. attorney and MSNBC columnist Joyce Vance.

Thanks for being here tonight, Joyce.


MELBER: This is a serious story. And, as we have emphasized, there are things we know. There`s already an indicted individual. And there`s some public evidence. And there`s much we don`t know. And we`re careful and clear about that.

When you look at what faces Mr. Gaetz, is it a good idea, in your view, legally for him to continue to do interviews or public appearances like this one? And what should viewers understand about what he`s up against in this kind of probe?

VANCE: I think he asked the question already knowing the answer.

And the answer is, it`s a terrible idea for him to be out in public, inadvertently perhaps, giving prosecutors additional evidence that can be used against him, because even the innocuous denial, where he says he was never involved with a 17-year-old woman, depending on the evidence prosecutors might have, if they decide to charge him, that can become real fodder in a jury trial, where the jury gets to see him lying, and it diminishes his credibility.

And those sort of clips can be useful for prosecutors both in negotiating plea deals, plea agreements with defendants and expressing that the evidence against them is overwhelming, and also in a trial setting.

The bottom line here is, there`s no reason to go out in public and do this. Even with Matt Gaetz, it makes me a little bit cringey, wishing that he had a defense lawyer giving him some decent advice here.

MELBER: All fair points.

When you look at what Greenberg`s attorney has said, I`m very curious what you think, because you have been on the other side of this wall. You have been in a prosecutor`s office watching people speak out there. And some of them may speak in good faith and some of them may put spin on the ball and some of them may be out of pocket.

We don`t know what the prosecutors know about the evidence they have and the levels of cooperation. But here is how Greenberg, Gaetz`s ally, how his attorney put it.


QUESTION: Does Matt Gaetz have anything to worry about?

FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG: Does Matt Gaetz -- that is such a...


QUESTION: When it comes to what happened today in court.

SCHELLER: Based on what my client knows, OK.

See, I thought, if I kept on talking and talking, I would avoid these questions and not to say -- I`m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.


MELBER: Now, comfort is not a legal standard.

What do you think of what can be read, if anything, from that type of talk?

VANCE: Gaetz has to know that Joel Greenberg`s only way to save himself is by cutting a deal with prosecutors.

It seems very likely that he will get there one way or the other. And so I think the defense lawyer`s comments are very accurate. There`s a whole lot of bad romance going on here, Ari. There`s bad romance involved in the relationships that these men had with women, but there`s going to be a bad romance between Gaetz and Greenberg before this is over.

MELBER: It`s clearly Gaga`s day here on THE BEAT.

And, by the way, longtime viewers will know, we have had her mom on. She`s invited. We have never had her on. We wouldn`t ask her about this, probably, but the wisdom applies.

The last thing I wonder for you, again, as a prosecutor with your experience, is, where does this go if there are no charges against Gaetz? Obviously, much of this is salacious. Voters make up their own minds about what they hear that they may dislike or want to vote against, separate from the criminal standard, which is obviously much higher.

But we have had experts on who said there is this possible mid-May deadline that may suss out whether Greenberg has enough that they will move forward. The feds have the right to go at their own pace. They`re fairly tight- lipped.

But at what point do you think, responsibly, legally, if there isn`t a formal announcement, but there are no charges, that you say, OK, they didn`t have enough to charge him? How do you -- how should that be adjudicated in the public square, because, certainly, Mr. Gaetz has been swirled by and hit by a lot of bad talk?

VANCE: This is a very difficult sort of a situation. And DOJ will very rarely, particularly for someone who`s an elected official, when there`s been public reporting that they`re under investigation, very rarely they will release a statement that says something to the effect of, this person has not been charged or this investigation has been closed.

And, usually, that happens when the person who`s been under investigation seeks it out and asks for it. Even then, it`s not a certainty that DOJ will do that because of this longstanding policy against commenting even on the existence of an investigation, let alone what`s happening during it.

But the deadline here is really the statute of limitations, five years from the time the crime was committed. And once that five year-mark is reached, Gaetz would be out of the woods. I don`t think that there`s an artificial deadline here on Greenberg`s cooperation.

He could plead guilty or cut a deal really as late as on the eve of his trial. But, in reality, his lawyers and prosecutors have been searching for that deal. The judge told them that, if they couldn`t come up with it in the next few weeks, that he would go to trial in July.

So I think that they`re in the final throes of trying to negotiate a deal. It`s a surprise that it`s taken them so long, given what Greenberg has to lose.

MELBER: All fair points and very interesting.

Joyce Vance, thank you very much.

When we come back: There`s legal heat on a different MAGA ally, Rudy Giuliani. We have a special guest who knows all about these SDNY practices, including the warrants that got Giuliani`s items.

But, first, all the way back in 2012, Barack Obama offered a political diagnosis for his opponent, Mitt Romney. Take a look.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`s forgetting what his own positions are. And he`s betting that you will too.

We got to name this condition that he`s going through.


B. OBAMA: I think it`s called Romnesia.



MELBER: Oh, snap. Romnesia.

Well, now a lawyer for an actually accused rioter of the January 6 instruction has a similar political medical-style diagnosis, but this is real and in court. And they`re calling it Foxitis.

We will explain after the break.


MELBER: One of the alleged rioters who stormed the Capitol, apparently criminally, now has a new defense for his actions. He says FOX News basically made him do it.

His lawyer pushing this for real in court with a phrase, Foxitis, telling a judge -- quote -- "FOX television played constantly. He became hooked on what I call Foxitis or Foxmania, and started believing what was being fed to him."

Imagine believing things you hear from a channel that purports to provide news and facts.

Well, the defendant is not actually the first rioter to blame conservative outlets for what they themselves did on January 6. Talk about personal responsibility. But, earlier this year, a militia leader said she was driven to storm the Capitol because of Donald Trump and right-wing media, so both her leader and his microphones.

Meanwhile, this is not just something that`s only coming from people trying to save their bacon in court. Look at the headlines from the son of Rupert Murdoch, who, of course, created the FOX News empire, who has blasted these kinds of outlets to propagate lies and unleash insidious and uncontrollable forces.

This is not a drill. This is not just a far-flung legal theory, whether or not it should be accepted by courts. We`re dealing with perhaps an overdue reaction and awareness of what happens when you tell millions of people over and over things that, if true, would make them concerned.

Like, if it were true that someone was stealing the election, that democracy had ended, that would be a big deal. But it was precisely the opposite. Who believed that and who acted on it, whether it`s a legal defense or not, speaks to the damage and the risk out there.

So, with that in mind, just take a look, if you don`t happen to watch all that stuff over there all the time, at the kind of lies that they`re referencing on FOX News. And this was specifically in the weeks and months leading up to the insurrection.


MARK LEVIN, FOX NEWS: If we don`t fight on January 6 on the floor of the Senate and the House -- that is the joint meeting of Congress on these electors -- we`re done.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Some of the most brazen acts of voter fraud to date.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: How dare you ask why dead people are voting?

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS: They don`t really care whether the election was stolen or not.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: An intel source telling me that President Trump did, in fact, win the election.


MELBER: "President Trump did, in fact, win the election."

False claims over and over, hour by hour. There`s a study by one watchdog group that found FOX cast doubt on the results about 800 times in just two weeks after the election, that critical period when people are trying to understand, whether they like the outcome or not, what really happened.

Now, as a lawyer, I can tell you that you can`t just make up words and tell a judge that`s why your clients not responsible for what would otherwise be a crime. Foxitis, as a legal defense, may not get very far.

But Foxitis as something in our culture might be worth tracking. "The Washington Post" recently reported on studies showing that FOX misinformation may have made the COVID pandemic worse, specifically for the people who watch FOX, by providing unsafe behaviors among its own viewers, who, like many news viewers, do tend towards older age.

Another study from last year has FOX programming was found to be more likely to use the word hate than other news outlets, which affects our cultural communications, to be sure. Or, all the way back to 2012, a study found FOX viewers were just less informed than people who didn`t watch any news at all.

No shade. And we all have to work hard in the news. Nobody`s perfect. But I got to tell you, if that`s where your viewers end up, you might not be doing it right.

There is clearly a problem. And I want to be very specific about part of what I just mentioned. This is not just about politics. We reported on the time about some of the COVID misinformation, which was bad for FOX viewers, who overwhelmingly vote Republican.

Who cares who they vote for? I will tell you, we are critical of people putting out misinformation that`s dangerous to whomever, in that case, dangerous to their own consumer base.

Now, we don`t expect Foxitis to take over the courts. But the fact that it even wound up in a courtroom, for the same reason that experts have warned about that misinformation for years, is why some of this matters. Many people do believe what they hear, especially if it comes through this seemingly important TV box.

But I want to leave you with some bars by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who said something that applies to this and will keep applying in this troubled era that we are living through: Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

Now, up ahead, some revealing comments from Michelle Obama on Black Lives Matter, as well as parenting. We have that for you tonight. We want you to see it.

But, first the Giuliani criminal probe heating up, with his lawyer asking that everyone understand just how long they have been talking to the feds. Why does that matter? How does this work? What`s going on inside SDNY?

Well, we have a veteran of that powerful office next.


MELBER: New fallout on the criminal probe into Rudy Giuliani, after the feds have raided, famously, his apartment and office.

Giuliani has been taking risks, like some other potential defendants we have been covering tonight. He`s talking on his radio show every day this week. Giuliani`s lawyer reportedly offering to bring him in for questioning two months ago.

Now, that`s an interesting detail we`re going to get into. Bloomberg reports the offer was, though, contingent on prosecutors making clear what subjects, what topics they would bring up. And the federal prosecutors, who really hold all the cards in this kind of situation, said, no, thank you.

Giuliani`s lawyer reportedly e-mailing -- quote -- "Why are you doing everything the hard way?"

This gives us some glimpse into what Giuliani might have seen coming. Remember, it was big news when you had the raid, but his lawyers obviously had reason to believe there was something coming.

Now, on top of the legal fight of his life, Dominion Voting Systems is asking a judge to go forward with their defamation suit against Giuliani. He is denying that anything was defamatory.

Dominion, in a brand-new filing, says Giuliani`s ignoring evidence about just how much financial harm he caused the company, destroying the resale value, which had been up to $500 million, forcing Dominion to spend over half-a-million dollars on security for employees, all a part of that pushed overturn the election.

Joining me now is former SDNY prosecutor Danya Perry.

Thanks for coming back.

DANYA PERRY, FORMER SDNY PROSECUTOR: Thanks, Ari. Glad to be here.

MELBER: Great to have you.

Let`s go piece by piece. In the negotiations, what does it mean when Giuliani`s side says, well, he would come in, but he wants kind of a topic outline? And what does it tell you that SDNY didn`t feel any need to grant that?

PERRY: You know, I heard you quote Giuliani`s lawyer asking the prosecutors why they`re doing it the hard way.

Giuliani knows -- at some level, he has at least some distant memory that there is no easy way here. There is only a hard way. And, as you said, Ari, he doesn`t hold the cards anymore.

This is an uneven, imbalanced power dynamic. And he doesn`t get to say what he wants to talk about and what he doesn`t want to talk about. That`s just not how this works. So, there has been a lot of discussion, will Giuliani cooperate? He`s not even going to get to there, if he can`t go in the front door of 1 St. Andrew`s Plaza, where he used to preside, and give a full, unvarnished, warts-and-all account of every unlawful or even shameful thing, everything he`s ever done from the dawn of time until today.

And so it really is a full and complete, no-holds-bar disclosure that is required in order for him to give his account and to even begin to explore the possibility of cooperation.

So, he would not have been surprised by this reaction from the prosecutors.


And when he`s -- when he`s also had this distance with Donald Trump, I was curious your view of how SDNY would look at this, because we mentioned -- we have talked about the whole idea of, was he his lawyer or not? And he kind of was, but then he wasn`t paid. Then Trump publicly threw him under the bus, said, I didn`t direct him to do that.

Now, again, that`s tricky because Donald Trump lies constantly. There are many days where he lies more than he tells the truth. So the fact that he said that doesn`t mean it`s true, I want to be clear. But it could be worse for Giuliani, which is what one lawyer, George Conway, says.

Let me read this point, what Trump has to fear from Giuliani -- quote -- "Giuliani`s admission that he was not conducting foreign policy, but helping Trump personally, is exactly what might make this sort of scheme prosecutable."

Is that true, in your view? Does SDNY care about those level of distinctions, or, if they have him on more than one thing, that`s kind of a lower order issue?

PERRY: I think that`s a high level issue.

As you and Joyce Vance said earlier in the program, a client who`s facing criminal prosecution would be well-advised to keep their mouth shut. Here, Giuliani and Trump, of course, are either ill-advised or simply take their own counsel, and have been speaking for years.

And so Giuliani has probably established -- or has established several elements of at least a FARA offense, as we have discussed. And some of these statements, sure, they have been all over the place.

Is he representing Trump or not? That`s not the full question at all. He may have been representing Trump, but was he also representing foreign interests? They can both be true. And if they are, he will be guilty of a FARA violation.

So that`s just one level of...

MELBER: Yes, you`re talking about -- you`re talking about foreign lobbying.

PERRY: Correct, yes. Thank you. I...


MELBER: And, briefly, I`m almost -- no, I get it. I`m almost out of time.

But would -- you worked at SDNY. Would they go this hard at a random, non- famous, non-Trump-linked person, if it was all over just that foreign lobbying violation?

PERRY: I suspect that there`s more going on.

I think this is not just a paperwork offense, as some have argued. It goes well beyond that. But, as you sort of alluded to, if he is representing Trump, that was a problem. If he wasn`t representing Trump, that is a problem. And it could be even more of a problem if he was representing Trump.

So, I think, every which way he turns, there could be legal peril.

MELBER: Gotcha.

PERRY: And -- but I do think that there may very well be more at stake than just a technical error FARA violation.

MELBER: That`s what I`m wondering.

I have the easy part, which is just asking the questions. But the question I ask is, is this all over foreign lobbying, which is not nothing, but -- or are they going this hard, with the searches, for this long, because they have more than one count on foreign lobbying?

We will see.

Danya Perry, SDNY veteran, thank you so much.

Coming up tonight, we have a lot more on a special Friday show, including a very special guest on how we go through renewal and creative ways to address vaccine hesitancy.

Also tonight, as mentioned, Michelle Obama speaking out on everything from BLM to child-rearing.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Former first lady Michelle Obama speaking out in a new interview and discussing the fears that she says many black Americans deal with daily, including, regardless of her station in life, which we all know, what she personally describes as the worries that she has to feel as a parent for her daughters, Malia and Sasha.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: But every time they get in a car by themselves, I worry about what assumption is being made by somebody who doesn`t know everything about them, the fact that they are good students and polite girls, but maybe they`re playing their music a little loud.

Maybe somebody sees the back of their head and makes an assumption. I, like so many parents of black kids, have to -- that the innocent act of getting a license that puts fear in our hearts.


MELBER: Mrs. Obama speaking out amidst, of course, this whole reckoning we have had on racial justice.

She also discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, America`s history with these subjects, and what she`s still has, consistent with the project she`s been building with her husband, hope for the country to move forward.


M. OBAMA: We don`t want to be out there marching. I mean, all those Black Lives Matters kids, they`d rather not have to worry about this. They`re taking to the streets because they have to.

They`re trying to have people understand that we`re real folks and the fear that many have of so many of us is irrational and it`s based on a history that is just -- it`s sad, and it`s dark, and it`s time for us to move beyond that.


MELBER: Michelle Obama speaking candidly to CBS.

And on that subject, tonight, she gets the last word.

And we have more tonight that I`m very excited to share with you. The one and only Perry Farrell from the iconic Jane`s Addiction is here, along with our friend award-winning journalist John Stanton, who is clearly doing homework even before he comes on air.

I will see you both in a minute.

Stay with us.


MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT, so you know time it`s time to fall back.

And we have two very special guests.

Perry Farrell is, of course, the front man and founder of Jane`s Addiction. You know the multiplatinum-selling group, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees. He`s also the creator of the famed music festival Lollapalooza.

And these days, he`s releasing a new song, which I think we`re going to talk about tonight. You have never heard of it because it`s brand-new. It`s called "Mend." There`s also a new box set, and he`s returning to the stage, performing with Jane`s Addiction this fall.

We`re also joined by award-winning journalist John Stanton, editor of The Gambit, formerly of BuzzFeed, and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, which raises awareness about the financial threats to our beloved news industry.

Great to have two legends together.

How you guys doing?


PERRY FARRELL, MUSICIAN: Doing all right. Ari, how are you?

MELBER: I`m great. And I love having you guys to mix it up after this week.

When we do "Fallback," we talk about certain things that might need to sit down or fall back.

And, Perry, I heard on your mind was some of this anti-science talk, anti- vaccines. What do you think needs to fall back in that area?

FARRELL: Well, the new catchphrase is vaccination hesitancy, right?

So, I think that people that don`t want to get vaccinated are keeping the party from getting started. I think that they have got to fall back. And we have got to get out into the sunshine and party again, and hug each other, and dance, and laugh, and sing. And all that takes is a little pinprick in your arm -- right arm, and we`re good to go.

MELBER: Hey, couldn`t said it better. And I like that you`re kind of reminding people this is for partying. This for the fun stuff. This is -- we`re already up now to the good part.

FARRELL: Only for partying.


FARRELL: That`s all I`m talking about.

MELBER: I love it. Hell yeah.

John, what`s on your list?

STANTON: Mine is our state rep here Ray Garofalo and all these other people in other states that are trying to rewrite history and to get rid of the state of slavery and racism in America by telling schools they are not allowed to teach that racism is a systemic part of our history.

I mean, it`s obviously one of the dumbest things you have ever heard to say such a thing, because slaves literally built this country. It has been a part of our country forever as our history. And the aftereffects of it are still -- we can still see them today, with the way that the police state treats black Americans.

And it`s just one of many, many examples. But it`s a very dangerous and pernicious effort to force schools here and in other states to no longer be allowed to teach this basic part of our history. And we won`t ever learn from our history if we don`t accept the bad parts of it and the bad things that we have done.

And when we understand those things that we have done, we can then move past them. But if we just try to deny them, and just to say, oh, the white man was great, and came to America and everything was peachy-keen in 1950s style, like, that`s not going to get us anywhere, except for to keep us stuck in this bad place that we`re in right now.

MELBER: Important point, and definitely when it comes to how we`re passing along accurate history to the next generation, to understand how they might even improve on whatever gains we have -- whatever strides we have made.

So I appreciate you bringing that in, that story, to the news tonight, John.

Perry, as mentioned, you have a new song, "Mend." You have other new work coming out. Tell us about it.

FARRELL: Well, the song "Mend" came out during the quarantine, COVID quarantine.

We were very prolific, us musicians. We were -- my friends were in the studio writing and creating music at such time we can come out into the sunshine and perform for everyone.

The song "Mend" was originally written about a dear friend of ours. Taylor Hawkins and I co-wrote this song. is the drummer for the Foo Fighters and a dear friend.

So, we -- originally, we were writing a song about a friend of ours who had a broken heart. But it -- the song took on a greater meaning because I was looking to literally heal the world with the song, because there`s a mantra in the song that, at the end of the song, we are just mantra-ing "mend, mend," you know?

And I thought it would be good juju for the world.

MELBER: I like that.

I mean, you mentioned mantra. Or everyone knows how choruses can stick in your head. And, sometimes, the words can almost lose meaning at first, because you`re -- they`re just repeating or you`re -- they`re almost unthinking. And then, later, they can hit you and the meaning kind of returns the word.

I mean, it`s funny how choruses and lyrics do that. And what else are you working on?

FARRELL: Well, this morning, Taylor called me and he said, "We have got to write a new song."

And the word that -- the title of it is "Followers."

So, I got on MSNBC early in the morning, because I know you`re great with lyrics. And I have written songs listening and watching MSNBC. So, this is another song that I wrote this morning after watching MSNBC.



FARRELL: I wanted to sing to you -- or not sing it to you, but read it, read you the lyrics.

MELBER: Go for it.

FARRELL: You got time?

MELBER: I got -- I got 40 seconds. Give us some lyrics, yes.

FARRELL: All right. All right.

The song`s called "Followers."


"Well, hello there. I`m a follower, a dutiful, following rallier, whose opinion is worth one red cent. So, is there any room there for me in that tent?"

Now, here`s the verse.

"I`m fighting. I`m not fighting for meaningful change. I can`t tell one from another exchange. But I can fight real hard to keep things as they are. Keeping things the same is my endgame."

There you go. It`s a start.


MELBER: It`s more than a start. I like that. I like what you`re playing with there. I think viewers know, politically, the context you`re talking about.

And I believe you made BEAT history on our humble program, because I don`t know we have ever had new song lyrics debut that were written the day of the appearance.

So, you honor us, Perry.

FARRELL: Just for you.

MELBER: And I hope you will come back.

FARRELL: Just for you, Ari.



MELBER: I love it. I hope you will come back.

And, John, I know, is a music fan, because you can catch him around Jazz Fest and other things. So, I hope we can all get together in person.

And we end the segment where we started, with Perry reminding everyone, if you follow the rules and stay safe and get vaccinated, we can all party in person soon.

Thanks to both of you. Have a great weekend.

Thanks, everyone, for watching.

"THE REIDOUT" is up next.