IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 6/17/21

Guests: Emily Bazelon, Daniel R. Alonso, Mark Thompson


The Supreme Court rejects a case to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. A law used to bring down the mob may be turned against Donald Trump`s company. President Biden signs a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. Megan Thee Stallion responds to conservative criticism.



Hi, Ari.

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

And welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

And we have a big show tonight, including a special report on how a law used to bring down the mob may be turned against Donald Trump`s company.

And, later, that new Supreme Court ruling that`s supersizing the Obamacare precedent.

Plus, Congress declaring this new federal holiday for the first time in decades.

Our top story right now, though, is President Biden returning home from his first overseas trip, but he swung foreign policy away from the Trump years confronting Putin with more strength than he`s seen from a U.S. president in a while, and pushing that global tax floor, which could turbocharge Biden`s push for more jobs spending at home, with higher corporate taxes here and abroad.

Now, the whole trip has drawn high marks for many experts. But here`s the rub. Biden returns home to Republicans so intent on stopping him, no matter what, that they`re now talking about the idea of Biden only getting half-a- term, which is not a governing concept.

Republican Senator John Barrasso says he wants to functionally kneecap Biden`s full term by taking back the other political branches.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Mitch McConnell has come under a lot of criticism for saying he wanted -- at one point, he said he wanted to make sure that Barack Obama was a one-term president. I want to make Joe Biden a one-half-term president.

And I want to do that by making sure they no longer have House, Senate, White House.


MELBER: The Republican senator there appears a little confused. There is no such thing as a half-term president or a halfway president, just as there`s no such thing as halfway crooks.

Any student of the Constitution or Mobb Deep knows that, just as there`s numerous ways you can choose to earn funds. And some in D.C., they want to compromise with these shook Republicans over the funds, like trimming the Biden jobs bill to try to get GOP support, while more and more Democrats demand Biden just go big like he did on the stimulus, or stimmy, as David Corn insists on calling it, ramming through jobs spending in the trillions.

Now, President Biden has done most of the traditional things that are demanded in Washington to show that you mean it, that you`re trying to be bipartisan, meeting with the other side, negotiating with the Republicans` chosen negotiators. Biden didn`t choose who they were.

Making his case to a public that increasingly backs Biden-style spending over GOP obstruction, if you look at the polls of even independent and Republican voters. So, now we`re getting right near where the rubber hits the road. How long do you coddle opponents who are shook and admit they`d rather stop your first term than meet you anywhere near the middle?

Joining me now is the aforementioned David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and MSNBC analyst. And we`re thrilled to announce here on THE BEAT that he has a new newsletter called "This Land" coming out. He will tell you how to sign up for it by the end of the block, I am sure.


MELBER: And Mark Thompson, host of the "Make It Plain" podcast.

Good to have you both here, and I`d be remiss if I didn`t mention here in person.



MELBER: Happy 2021.


You haven`t missed a beat.


MELBER: It`s great to have you both here.

Mark, I come to you first on this concept of a halfway president.

THOMPSON: Well, obviously, they`re drawing the line in the sand. They`re talking about the midterms, nullifying, effectively, anything Biden may do next year by trying to win back the House and trying to win back the Senate.

That is why the hold up for Manchin and Sinema to get rid of the filibuster, to bring about the type of voter protections that go further than his -- compromise, people can build on that, but it`s not enough. We need to deal with preclearance. We need to deal with no-excuse absentee voting. All of that is left out as a compromise.

If Manchin is a Democrat, if Sinema is a Democrat, they must defend everything that John Lewis fought for in his life, so that the Democrats can keep the House and the Senate. Otherwise, Barrasso will get exactly what he wants.

CORN: You know, politics is indeed the art of compromise. And I don`t think there`s anything wrong with Democrats putting everything they want, everything that they think needs to happen to prevent political apartheid from growing in America, and then fighting for it, but at some point saying, OK, we will compromise. We will cut back on this if you come forward on this.

But it`s how much and whether you accept the premise that this bill needs to happen, that we need to deal with our voting system, that voting rights have been attacked.

And if you listen to Mitch McConnell today, you listen to Barrasso and everybody else, they don`t see a problem. So it`s not a matter of them compromising and trying to find a way to make this work to respect states rights and to make sure that doesn`t give the Democrats a partisan advantage, not that it would.

It`s -- that`s not what we`re talking about. They don`t agree with the premise that democracy is threatened here. And so, in fact, they are the ones threatening it. And they`re passing these voting rights suppression bills.


CORN: So then the question is, how can you sit down and cut a reasonable, productive deal with people on that side of the aisle?

And I think, OK, you go through the motions, you give them a shot, you give them a chance. But at that point, you got to then say, OK, our decision here is not to compromise or not. It`s to deal with these problems any which way we can. They`re the ones who don`t want the bipartisanship or the unity.

MELBER: Yes, and it`s a different Republican Party.

I mean, when I worked in the Senate, there were plenty of hard right conservatives, but spending debates were often about, how do you fund it, right, and can you get money towards the things that they wanted or their home state? Everyone knows pork politics.

Here, there is -- that`s not really what`s going on. There`s just the idea of, after this pandemic recession, after everything we`re going through, after the notion of having infrastructure, which is something they all pretended or claimed to support, it`s all up in the air.

Now, then you have Senator Manchin, who of course, is the one. I mean, he is the one that everybody wants at the cocktail party, David.

Let me play for you and then get you in something that did leak. So this is not the typical interview. Manchin has taken a hard line against a lot of this stuff. I think people know that. But now this leaked audio where he at least sounds warmer to some kind of way to go at the McConnell obstruction filibuster. Here we go.


QUESTION: He`s asked by somebody from Jacksonville, Florida, about the proposal to lower the threshold for cloture to 55 votes, so you could end the filibuster with 55 votes.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): That`s one of many good -- good suggestions I have had. So I`m open to looking at it. I`m just talking to opening to getting rid of the filibuster.

That`s all.


MELBER: David, what striking there is that rhetoric and branding matters a heck of a lot.

CORN: Oh, yes.

MELBER: He`s obviously taken this position he`s not the one ending that thing. Now, most people don`t care about filibuster, cloture. Forget about it.

CORN: Right.

MELBER: But he`s not doing that. But obviously what he just said, if he means it is: Well, I`d be open to changing it.

CORN: Yes. And, indeed, if you drop it down a bit, you would get the January 6 commission, because they had, what,56, 57 votes already, if you drop it from 60 to 55.

If you drop it down, obviously, the infrastructure bill that Biden wants gets -- becomes stronger, because then you only need five more Republican senators.

But I don`t see him yet in a position where he`s caught on to the fact that what Republicans are doing is, they`re taking everything. You talked about we used to deal with spending bills. They`re making everything part of a political cultural war. Infrastructure, vaccinations, voting rights, it`s all about us vs. them. And we can`t give an inch on any of this for most of the Republican Party; 70 percent of it believes that Joe Biden`s not even the president.

So why would they do anything with him? So until Joe Manchin comes to terms with that big dynamic, this isn`t the -- this isn`t his father`s Senate, where you can sit down and talk what a great guy -- guys these Republicans are.


CORN: It`s a different thing.

Until it comes to that realization, he is going to get played for a fool.

MELBER: Well, you have raised a metaphysical question, David.

CORN: That`s what I always do.

MELBER: That`s what you do. That`s how you roll.


MELBER: You have raised the question of what is less, being an illegitimate non-president or being a half-term president, both irrelevant and made-up Republican concepts in this one, not all Republicans, but some.

CORN: Right.

MELBER: Our panel stays here.

I want to turn to the other big story that I mentioned that really matters. It is a historic milestone, President Biden signing into law this bill that establishes Juneteenth as a federal holiday. It`s the actual first new national legal holiday since Martin Luther King Day, which was about four decades ago.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a day of profound, in my view, profound weight and profound power.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, and, today, a national holiday.


HARRIS: We are gathered here in a house built by enslaved people. We have come far, and we have far to go. But today is a day of celebration.


MELBER: It may be long overdue, and it may be partly symbolic, but it`s meaningful to many people, the symbolism there. You can see it for yourself.

The holiday commemorates when the last remaining American slaves in Galveston, Texas, were freed on June 19, 1865. Now, this, unlike so much of what we have been discussing tonight, managed to pass United States Senate unanimously, and a majority of House Republicans voted for the bill.

This is about our history. It`s about facts. It`s about facing America. It comes, though, at a time where I think it`d be incomplete to report this without noting that Republicans, who did vote for the holiday -- I will tell you that happened -- are also actively pushing so many other issues that undercut the very spirit and the civil rights at issue, including opposing the teachings of facts about slavery, dealing with racial injustice in schools, to say nothing of the ongoing crackdown on voting rights, which targets many, but specifically has been found to target minority voters.

Our panel is still with us on this other big story.

Mark, walk us through what this means. I like to be precise. If people say nothing ever gets done bipartisan, it is interesting that this, however symbolic, did. And yet, what good is it if it comes with a crackdown on the right to vote?

THOMPSON: You are absolutely right.

And, of course, everyone welcomes the holiday and welcomes a recognition of the history. But if you vote unanimously for Juneteenth, and then try to stop voting rights -- I will be on the bus all next week for the Juneteenth holiday with Black Voters Matters. We go from city to city to deal with voter suppression.

If you suppress the vote, and if you only want to do a holiday, and not bringing H.R.40, the reparations bill, to the floor, when it has almost 200 co-sponsors, the first time in history, if you vote for a holiday, and don`t stop suppressing the vote, don`t bring H.R.40 to the floor, then you`re speaking with a forked tongue, to be very honest with you.

So I want to be clear. I know people are happy about the holiday. That`s an accomplishment. There`s no question about that. We fought to get Dr. King a holiday. And that was a bitter and ugly fight. Ronald Reagan opposed it.

But this holiday, in 2021, we have all matured. Everyone evolves. We like holidays. But you can`t recognize and commemorate and celebrate the holiday of emancipation if you also are not going to do what is necessary to bring about repair. And we still have a reckoning in this country. We still have modern-day lynchings in the form of police violence.

As we -- as you said, we still have voter suppression. We still have a fight against teaching truth in schools. And we still have not addressed all of these things, which are vestiges of enslavement, which H.R.40 would establish a commission to study and determine what forms reparations would take.

So, everyone who voted for this, we expect to see them before the end of the summer vote for H.R.40, or else the Democrats run the risk of actually making Biden half-term, because the same base that -- what did Joe Biden say? He said the black community`s has had my back. Now it`s my time to have yours.

If the House passes it -- and it has the votes -- it was reported to me today that Nancy Pelosi asked the whip, the speaker of the House asked the whip to start the whip count for H.R.40. If it comes to the floor, it will probably pass. We know what Manchin is going to do in the Senate.

If it doesn`t go any further, Joe Biden must appoint the H.R.40 reparations commission by executive order. He can do that. And we can start the process.


I appreciate that and what you`re bringing to this, which is, where`s the substance?

We are out of time.

But, David, how do people get your...

THOMPSON: I`m sorry, David.

MELBER: No, no.


MELBER: How do people get your newsletter? And should they expect it to be more of a Bob Dylan experience or a Billy Joel experience?

CORN: Oh, come on. I can`t believe you even would ask that. Throw The Clash, actually, and Bob Dylan.

But I -- the simplest thing is to go to my Twitter feed @DavidCornDC. You`ve got to add the D.C. And when I get out of here, I will put up a link in how people can get it.

MELBER: Does the D.C. stand for Washington, D.C., or does it stand for David Corn?

CORN: You know, that`s the thing. There`s strategic ambiguity there.

MELBER: Strategic ambiguity. And it sounds like you`re going more Dylan?

CORN: Definitely more Dylan than Billy Joel, not that there`s anything wrong with Billy Joel.

MELBER: Why do you sound like a politician when we talk about music?

CORN: Why do you?

MELBER: Why do you?

I can tell you I like Dylan more than Billy Joel like that.

CORN: No, no. Well, listen, I want to have a big tent. I want the newsletter to appeal to Bob Dylan fans, Clash fans, Jay-Z fans, and Billy Joel fans.

MELBER: Respect.

Are you going to sign up?




MELBER: You heard it from David, the newsletter.

We have so much more in the program. Let me tell you what`s coming up.

The original literal BFD, Obamacare, supersized. I have my legal breakdown and special guest.

But, first, we have a report on how this Manhattan DA could target the Trump Organization itself, the company, with the very law that`s been used to take on the mob. And our special guest is the ex-prosecutor who literally wrote the rules.

That`s next.



CHIN HAN, ACTOR: I`m good with calculation. I handled all the investments, one big pot.



ECKHART: RICO. If they pooled their money, we can charge them all as one criminal conspiracy.

GARY OLDMAN, ACTOR: Charge them with what?

ECKHART: In a RICO case, if you can charge one of the conspirators with a felony, you can charge them all.

GYLLENHAAL: Charge all of them with it.


MELBER: Charge them all, that was the legal breakthrough, when Rachel Dawes and the DA, Harvey Dent, had the evidence in "The Dark Knight" to charge a whole criminal conspiracy, instead of just individuals.

It`s a fictional reference, but to a real law, RICO, for charging racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations. Congress passed it over 50 years ago to give prosecutors a better tool to prosecute the mob. And it`s been used against big crime families, like the Gambinos and the Genoveses.

And all of the main 24 mafia families across the U.S. have at one time or another faced RICO prosecutions, according to a count by "The Wall Street Journal."

RICO was the strong new weapon that helped convict the elusive Gambino boss John Gotti. And this was back when mobsters were openly terrorizing neighborhoods in New York and a brash prosecutor running the famed SDNY was taking them on.

In fact, there were four more indictments of all the mafia bosses back then under U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An indictment we made public later today charges the five godfathers with a racketeering conspiracy in running a criminal enterprise. Authorities call this the most important prosecution case ever brought against organized crime.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There will be some point in the future in which we will really destroy the power of the mafia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In just 13 hours, a federal jury in Brooklyn found Gotti guilty of murder, racketeering and conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Gotti convicted here of RICO counts, including five murders they carry 20 years apiece.


MELBER: RICO counts, big deal.

The other acts, like murder, are already, of course, crimes on the books. But RICO meant taking more people down for working together on those crimes, from top bosses to lower-level people who just take their commands.

Now, RICO cases are challenging. They`re complex. But they do carry that big payoff for prosecutors to crack a whole syndicate.

That`s how the lore and the reputation of this tool grew in popular culture, from the movies, like I just showed you, to entire songs narrating how RICO puts heat on gangsters.

Meek Mill`s track "RICO" contrasts the federal code of laws with the street code. He says he can`t talk to the cops, that`s illegal, like more a Rich Porter, no double-crossing on my peoples. And he goes on to lament, we might just get hit with the RICO.

Now, fact-check, talking to cops is actually not literally illegal. It`s encouraged under the law. But Meek is referencing how it feels basically illegal in the streets. And he knows what so many groups have learned, from the mafia to Hell`s Angels. You don`t want to be hit with the RICO.

If you are, it would likely be the downfall of your entire organization.

Now, this special report with that context is to help us understand why we`re talking about this on the news and what a RICO prosecution might actually look like for the Trump Organization, because they could get hit with the RICO.

I say that to you, reporting based on the evidence, the precedent and some new clues that we have, because the Trump Organization, we know, is under criminal investigation by that same office fictionalized in "Batman" by the New York DA. And it has also already tapped a mob prosecutor -- hint, RICO -- to work the case.

Now, RICO is a federal law, but New York has a similar tool for busting corrupt organizations. Some call it Little RICO. Prosecutors like it because it can be triggered by the relatively little requirement of three crimes, but carry a big prison sentence up to 25 years.

Now, you have to prove a pattern of criminal activity, not just a single crime. But we have reports the DA is probing evidence of bank fraud, of financial deceit, tax fraud. And DA Cy Vance is the only person to actually get Trump`s tax returns.

So he can now compare them to test any lies or inflated values for Trump properties. Now, the other limit is time. At least two of the crimes for this type of prosecution must be within five years. Now, if the theory of the case includes any crimes done around the 2016 campaign, that deadline hits soon.

And I mentioned the campaign not as speculation. We know the one Trump Organization official who already went to prison, Michael Cohen, was convicted of an election crime for Donald Trump`s benefit. So, prosecutors have every reason to scour any similar violations of New York law in their work.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: COHEN: And I have spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up. So, I`m all over that.

And I spoke to Allen about it.


MELBER: When that audiotape first leaked, you might have thought, who`s Allen?

Well, he`s Allen Weisselberg, who we all know now, because he`s at the center of this probe. "The New York Times" says the top moneyman on that call that Cohen was referencing, the CFO, could be indicted by this summer.

And that brings us to what Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump have in common, at least according to legal experts, because the Southern District of New York brought a RICO suit, this mafia law I`m telling you about, against Weinstein. It was a tough tactic.

They ultimately won the case, although that part of it was dismissed by a judge. And we have seen this in other forums, an Olympic gymnast suing USA Gymnastics under a RICO act over the sex abuse scandals there. And Trump himself knows how dangerous RICO can be, because, even if you put this New York case aside, there`s an open probe in Georgia where they`re investigating Donald Trump trying to shake down the secretary of state to - - quote -- "find votes."

And now they`re working there with this prosecutor on basically a RICO theory.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Racketeering, did you say? Is this state prosecutor in Georgia really thinking about prosecuting him like a mob boss?

Well, now that prosecutor has hired a racketeering expert.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: What`s happened in Georgia over the last couple of days, Ari, is that they have hired an outside prosecutor, an expert in racketeering, John Floyd, who literally wrote the book on prosecuting state racketeering.

WALLACE: A sign that racketeering may be a big part of the case against Trump and his allies.


MELBER: These are just legal facts.

It may sound bad or mean to talk about what Trump does as subject to a mafia racketeering case. But it`s just how he`s being investigated.

Meanwhile, the DOJ is also considering using RICO against Trump supporters at the January 6 insurrection.

So, you take that all together, and you can see it`s a lot, but it`s not the only legal problem facing the Trump Organization. Even if Donald Trump himself is not ever indicted, there is another way that prosecutors can actually indict the entire Trump Org, which could bankrupt it as a corporation, sending it out of business and potentially bankrupting Donald Trump again, but in a more final way.

Let me repeat that, because there`s a lot going on in all these cases and the CFO. The people who know how this stuff works say it is possible, and thus bad for Trump, that this could all end with his whole company indicted at the corporate level.

Now, for a prosecutor to do that, it`s a high bar. It`s not enough to find evidence of a single crime at the company. To indict the whole thing, it`s a higher bar.

And I can tell you what it requires. You have to factor in whether the company is pervasive in its wrongdoing, how deep in the organization, how long have the crimes been going on, if they`re found. Two, prosecutors look to the past misconduct. Is this a one-off or has this company been faced with these kinds of allegations before?

Three, there`s the question of harming innocent people. If a gigantic company with thousands of employees is indicted and goes out of business, how many other people lose their jobs?

Now, the Trump Organization is notoriously small when it comes to full-time employees, so that doesn`t really help them. Four, there`s something called voluntary disclosure, whether a company has been up-front and tried to fix its own problems, or whether it`s been hiding them.

Well, if there is crime at the Trump Org, I can tell you they have not been turning themselves in.

And, five, a word that hung over the Mueller report and Donald Trump`s presidency, obstruction. He`s been investigated for it numerous times. And that is another feature of what prosecutors look at when deciding whether to indict the whole company.

Now, I`m telling you all this. You might say, OK, Ari, but where are these rules from? How do this? Whose list is this? Well, the DA holds all the cards in this probe of Trump org. And at the DA`s office, they have people who advise the DA on the rules to maintain consistency.

And the current DA, Cy Vance`s number two, Dan Alonso, actually wrote the book on this. He was chief assistant DA. And what I just read to you are the exact rules from his 11-year-old memo -- you could call it the Alonso memo -- that provides the standard that the DA`s office is using right now as it gets up to that big call over whether to indict the whole Trump Org.

If the name is familiar, we have had him on the program before. And, tonight, I can tell you there`s no one better to break all of this down than the prosecutor who wrote the guidelines.

Former chief assistant DA Dan Alonso joins me live right after this break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An indictment we made public later today charges the five godfathers with a racketeering conspiracy in running a criminal enterprise. Authorities call this the most important prosecution case ever brought against organized crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A federal jury in Brooklyn found Gotti guilty of murder, racketeering and conspiracy.


MELBER: RICO`s a big deal. Indicting a company is a big deal.

And we are joined now by the former chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan Daniel Alonso, who has traversed exactly these kind of big deals.

Thanks for being here.

DANIEL R. ALONSO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Great to be here, Ari. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Let`s start with RICO.

Why is it being invoked so often in multiple probes of Donald Trump?

ALONSO: Well, because it`s -- first of all, in New York, we call it OCCA, right, Organized Crime Control Act? RICO is the federal law.

But the -- it`s a natural thing in complex white-collar cases to at least consider filing these charges, OCCA, or enterprise corruption, as we call it. It`s like the Little RICO that lots of states have.

And the reason is because it gives some advantages. And if those advantages outweigh the disadvantages, which I`m happy to get into, then you do it.

The advantages are that it`s got a pretty strong penalty. And a lot of white-collar crimes in New York actually carry relatively weak penalties, even felonies. So, it carries mandatory time in state prison for individuals, and it carries up to theoretically eight-and-a third to 25 years. So it`s a very serious crime.

The other is that you can get in all sorts of evidence that you might not otherwise be able to introduce, right? In criminal cases, you have to only introduce the evidence of that crime. But if you have an expansive criminal enterprise that the law requires you to prove, then everything that happened during the existence of it can come into evidence.


Well, you may have people`s ears buzzing at the Trump Organization, which your old boss is investigating, because let`s say there`s more than one theory of the case.

The nice theory for Trump would be, they pushed up the line a lot, but they didn`t cross it criminally, and he`s good, OK?

The bad theory for him would be, they broke the law all the time. I don`t think the bad theory is that they did one misevaluation of a real estate deal, and then were good the rest of the time. So, if they habitually did that, do you see your old colleague DA Vance as willing to use RICO in this case?

ALONSO: Listen, I see them at least considering it, right?

I mean, obviously, one of the things that the Little RICO does is, it requires a pattern of criminal activity. So it requires, as you said, three or more crimes within 10 years, but it also requires a criminal enterprise, right, not just an enterprise?

RICO, the federal law, just requires an enterprise participating its affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity.


ALONSO: This requires a criminal enterprise separate from the enterprise.

So you can do a de facto -- like a just an association, in fact, of people within a real company, a legitimate company that are acting as a criminal enterprise. But you have to prove, as a prosecutor, a separate structure, an ascertainable structure that`s distinct from just the crimes. And they have to have an ongoing, continuous criminal purpose.


ALONSO: So it is not easy. You have to decide that that`s there.

MELBER: I noticed you keep calling it Little RICO.

A lot of people call it Lil RICO, and L-I-L.


ALONSO: Oh, Lil RICO, yes.

MELBER: Lil RICO. But it`s really either way you want to say.

ALONSO: It`s the laws across -- the country have been called the Little RICOs. We never say Little RICO in New York. It`s OCCA or enterprise corruption.

MELBER: Yes. And you like saying OCCA, because of the acronym. Lawyers love acronyms.

ALONSO: Organized Crime Control.


MELBER: So we have gone this far on mafia racketeering.

ALONSO: Right.

MELBER: That`s one problem, unless they beat it. And that`s always my job to say, could go either way.

The other problem is, no matter what they pursue, the DA could indict all of Trump Organization. And we aren`t -- we have been talking to you as an expert, but then we`re like digging through the memos, and we found you wrote this thing.

So, when you look at those factors, bottom line, at the end of the day, do you see a strong case for indicting the whole company, if there`s malfeasance here, or not?

ALONSO: I think that it -- first of all, what`s really crucial is that the crimes be committed on behalf of the organization, right?

So we know that Weisselberg, you have reported and others have that he`s being investigated in part for personal tax violations. That wouldn`t count.


ALONSO: Right? That might be pressure on him. But that wouldn`t count.

So things like the Stormy Daniels payments, the misevaluations, the bank representations insurance, tax could be done and are likely being done, if they`re crimes, on behalf of the organization. That`s key.

But the memo -- what the memo does is, it really was meant to encourage companies to cooperate and self-report, right? We patterned that memo, the policy of the DA`s office, after the federal policy, which revolutionized white-collar investigations in 1999.

So we wanted to have sort of that same encouragement. As you pointed out in your previous segment, it`s unlikely that the Trump Organization has fulfilled the various requirements, guidelines of that policy. They haven`t self-reported. They haven`t cooperated.

MELBER: Let me stop you there. You said unlikely?


MELBER: Are you being very diplomatic?

ALONSO: I think so, yes.

MELBER: I will hold out the possibility that they`re completely innocent, and we will cover it factually.

ALONSO: Yes, different question.

MELBER: But with regard to this question, it`s not only unlikely.


MELBER: There is no way that the Trump Org and its leader, Donald Trump, have done anything cooperative towards this. They have been very disrespectful and insubordinate to the entire process here, just as he was towards federal regulators in the alleged obstruction in the Mueller probe.

ALONSO: Well, cooperation is a term of art there. And it means doing more than just the law requires.


ALONSO: So, if you`re answering subpoenas...

MELBER: Self-reporting, are you kidding me?

ALONSO: Yes, if you`re answering subpoenas, great. The law requires you to do that.

MELBER: Right.

ALONSO: You have to do more stuff. You have to do an internal investigation, present the results to the DA`s office, make executives available to be interviewed without their demanding immunity.

MELBER: But I`m pressing you specifically, because you`re such a knowledgeable and important player in this. You`re one of the few people that has had your hands on this policy.

I`m asking you, one, is there a strong case for indicting the whole organization? And, two, is that something DA Vance would be more or less interested in?

ALONSO: If the things that Michael Cohen`s talking about with the misevaluations are chargeable crimes, then it`s highly likely that Weisselberg either did it, commanded it, or recklessly tolerated it, which is what the law requires.

And Weisselberg qualifies as a high managerial agent, so yes.


ALONSO: The answer to your question is yes, but only assuming they committed those crimes.

MELBER: Of course.

And DA Vance?

ALONSO: Yes, he will do that, for sure.

There`s no reason -- in my view, in this case, given the policy, given all the considerations, no reason not to charge the Trump Organization, assuming there`s a corporate structure -- I`m not sure what the structure is, but the entity that Weisselberg worked for -- if they have already decided they can charge him.

MELBER: So do you see a likely outcome as DA Vance goes in and charges whatever executives they have malfeasance on, which right now "The New York Times" is saying includes the CFO, and they indict the entire Trump Organization, which is a huge body blow to Donald Trump, and then they don`t ultimately indict Donald Trump himself?

ALONSO: Oh, that`s a serious possibility, sure, yes.

MELBER: And can person withstand that kind of indictment, or if the company is ultimately convicted, you go bankrupt?

ALONSO: Listen, the policy also considers collateral consequences on companies. So you do have to consider that, right?

If it`s literally a fact that the organization is going to go bankrupt if they`re just indicted, then the DA has to consider that, because it`s part of his job to see that justice is done. And he has to consider whether that company going into the metaphorical toilet is good in the interest of justice or not Trump.


MELBER: Trump Org going down the toilet.


ALONSO: Right, and balance that with all the other things we talked about, the pervasiveness, the lack of cooperation, the lack of self-reporting, and make a balancing test.

So we`d have to know. I think this is not a very -- this is a somewhat regulated industry. They do work with governments, but it`s not a highly regulated industry. It`s not a bank, for example.


Well, it`s fascinating what you`re saying. You have just -- I hope people are listening closely, because you have just laid out a situation where there might be a really tough body blow to Donald Trump`s entire world that does not go over into raising the issues of actually prosecuting an ex- president, which are tough and unprecedented waters.

And you are someone who has one of the most credentialed expertise on indicted companies in all of New York state. And you know Cy Vance legally better than just about anyone, don`t you?

ALONSO: I don`t know that I know Cy Vance better than just about anyone.

MELBER: Legally, not personally.

ALONSO: We worked very closely together. And I do know him as a lawyer, yes.


MELBER: Spoken like a lawyer. Doesn`t even want a compliment, but I mean it in the sense that it`s really interesting what you`re saying. Also appreciate your diplomacy.

Dan Alonso, as always, thanks for being here.

ALONSO: Thank you. My pleasure.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Coming up, we have other big news we haven`t gotten to yet, the Supreme Court upholding Obamacare again today. What`s it mean? It`s a major setback.

Emily Bazelon next.


MELBER: Today, the Supreme Court issued a another defeat for Republicans, who`ve now spent a decade trying to stop Obamacare, the Supreme Court upholding Obamacare in a very clear and broad 7-2 ruling.

This is the third time the highest court has upheld that signature achievement of the Obama presidency.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: The Obama health care law is upheld by the Supreme Court.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN: Today, once again, Chief Justice Roberts stepping in and saving, in a sense, the Affordable Care Act.

MELBER: They discussed the fact that to take away the subsidies would send Obamacare into a death spiral.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: For the third time, the U.S. Supreme Court has spared Obamacare from challenges.


MELBER: Those are highlights from just some of the coverage of some of those big rulings. We lived through them together. You probably remember some of them.

Now, Republicans have tried to kill the landmark Affordable Care Act over 70 times. In court and in Congress, they have failed every time.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM, paying more, getting less and going broke.

Today, after almost a century of trying, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Republicans say they want to repeal and replace Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCain`s no-vote kills Republican hopes for the latest Obamacare repeal.

FMR. REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI): Obamacare is the law of the land. We did not have quite the votes to replace this law.


MELBER: I`m joined now by Emily Bazelon, a legal writer for "The New York Times Magazine."


And does it bring back any memories? We have been in this soup for a minute now.

EMILY BAZELON, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, I think I saw your face in that previous coverage of a minute ago. It does bring back some memories.

In dissent, Justice Alito said that this was the third part of the epic trilogy of Supreme Court opinions about Obamacare.

MELBER: I saw that Alito saying, oh, gosh, it`s been so terrible, it`s so long. That`s his take on it.

Yes, I remember -- you mentioned me in front of court. I remember that day that was a big deal initially because it was so much less clear. And that, of course, raises the dramatic stakes.

Now it`s become so clear that you have got Trump-appointed justices joining with Justice Breyer and the chief justice to say, no, get out of here. This is clearly constitutional.

What does that mean for Obamacare today?

BAZELON: You know, I think the legal arguments that the opponents of Obamacare have made have just gotten weaker and weaker over this trilogy of cases.

And so what we saw here was Justice Breyer. And it was 7-2, just like you said. The seven justices in the majority are saying that the parties that tried to sue this time don`t even have standing to sue.

And Justice Thomas, one of the most conservative members of the court, who had been against Obamacare in the previous cases, he said, look, the parties here just don`t have the kind of injury that a lawsuit can address. And so that`s where we are.


And when you look at the coalition, what does it tell you about where Justice Roberts wants this court to be, although the divisive cases may be yet ahead?


I mean, Chief Justice Roberts cares about the legacy of the court in a different way than anyone else, because it`s called the Roberts court. It has his name on it. He`s very invested in the court`s public image. When the court makes bipartisan decisions across ideological lines about divisive issues in American society, it makes it easier for the justices to say that they do something called law that is different from something called politics that politicians do.

And this is the kind of case that helps Chief Justice Roberts and other members of the court who are very invested in the notion that they are not politicians.

MELBER: Yes, that brings me to the last piece I wanted to ask you about while we have you on a big court day.

Headline here, Supreme Court rules in favor of Catholic charity that would not allow same-sex foster parents, unanimous ruling on what sounds like a divisive issue. In reading this case this morning, I noticed they really made it as narrow as possible. It`s an issue that matters to a lot of people.

Your thoughts?

BAZELON: Yes, I agree with you, this is a narrow, very technical ruling. This was supposed to be a challenge to this big Supreme Court precedent which you know, would called Employment Division vs. Smith, which said that you can burden religious expression if you`re the government and you pass a neutral, generally applicable law.

To get around that and find in favor of Catholic Social Services, and not the city of Philadelphia, which was trying to end this foster screening contract, the court said, this law doesn`t apply to everyone because there`s one official in Philadelphia who can make exceptions to it.

In fact, that official had never made such an exception. So it was a pretty hypothetical kind of technicality. But it means that the rationale the court gave is not this big rejection of the holding in Employment Division vs. Smith, not a big change that suddenly gives religious groups many more tools to win in court than they had before.

It looks like very specific to this case kind of outcome, but one that will disappoint a lot of LGBTQ advocates.

MELBER: Right. As you say, there were those who are hoping somehow it would go much farther on that equality issue.

The unanimous decision, though, is a reminder that there were a lot of justice who thought this was the better outcome, given the alternatives.

Emily, always great to have you on big Supreme Court days. I trust we will do it again.

BAZELON: Great. Thanks so much, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you.

I`m going to fit in a break, but when we come back: Tucker Carlson`s really mad. And he`s getting dunked on by strong feminists. It`s a big story.

We will explain when we return.


MELBER: One of the greatest political, cultural gender controversies of our time, depending on whom you ask, is about a song, or an anthem, really, as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion confidently were touting their female and erotic power in "WAP," a sexual acronym that became a true phenomenon.

The song debuted at number one with the highest streaming debut ever. It broke the YouTube record for an all-female project. And all of that upset many conservatives.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: It is garbage. It`s aimed at young American girls.

BEN SHAPIRO, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is what the feminist movement was all about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hate the lyrics. I think the lyrics are awful.

SHAPIRO: It`s about wet P-word. And if you say anything differently, it`s because you`re a misogynist.

CANDACE OWENS, HOST, "CANDACE": It`s displays like this, displays of blatant nudity and sexualization, that is keeping women down in this society.

CARLSON: Totally degrading. And the same people who make it will lecture you about you hate women or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I found it disgusting, to the point that I turned it off.


MELBER: People have every right to turn off what they don`t want to hear or see.

But far more Americans were tuning in. Across all of 2020, the most Googled song and most Googled definition of any word was "WAP," beating out words like entanglement and pandemic.

This has been everywhere. As for all those conservative attacks, well, the news tonight is, Megan Thee Stallion is answering them in a new song that takes the argument right to her political detractors. The music video shows a Republican senator in a red MAGA tie going online to hypocritically attack her in misogynistic terms.

Megan then confronts him for disrespecting the women who keep things running.


MEGAN THEE STALLION, MUSICIAN: The women that you accidentally try to step on are everybody that you depend on.

They treat your diseases. They cook your meals. They haul your trash.

They drive your ambulances. They guard you while you sleep.


MELBER: They do all that. And then, in the video, they take the senator hostage.

And Megan addresses all the right-wing criticism, saying, one thing I know, two things for certain, none of these people saying it to my face, and none of them are finna see me at the bank. And I`m a keep talking all that I want.

Then that same team of women give the Republican senator a fictional operation. We can`t go into all the details here on the news, but it might be different than your first guess.

It`s a provocative rebuttal to conservative men who seem fixated on women`s bodies and upset by their sexuality, voice and power. Megan is rebuffing them, flexing her ability to ride this to more success, see me at the bank, and encouraging listeners to put some of these right-wing critics` own issues under the microscope.

Is this new song reaching the critics? Well, "WAP" topped Google last year. And now we checked. The new song is already trending with some of the highest interest online in the red states of Mississippi and Oklahoma and, naturally, Washington, D.C.

Up next: Joe Biden`s foreign policy reset finds a victory in Congress.


MELBER: Turning to several other key updates we wanted to bring you.

That big Democratic vote in the Senate, Joe Manchin has been opposing several of these voting rights bills. He`s promoted his own alternative ideas on the subject.

But, today, for one of them, he actually got a boost from Stacey Abrams.


STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: What Senator Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is accessible, no matter your geography.

And those provisions that he`s setting forth are strong ones that will create a level playing field.


MELBER: It`s a sign of some dialogue there.

But getting any such bill passed, of course, turns back to whether you can get floor votes, something the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, has been blocking, and today makes it clear where he stands up.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I have taken a look at all these new state laws. And none of them are designed to suppress the vote.

A revised version produced by one of the Democrats yesterday, which has been endorsed by Stacey Abrams, in what is extraordinarily dubious constitutionality, would remove redistricting from state legislatures and handed over to computers. Equally unacceptable. Totally inappropriate.

All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well.


MELBER: Computers. Be careful.

He`s referencing, of course, the crosstalk we showed you, this dialogue between Manchin and Abrams.

The other pivotal moment I mentioned that we got to see is the House repealing the very military authorization for the Iraq War. This is almost two decades` old, 49 Republicans, interesting, joining nearly every House Democrat.

The Biden administration has been supporting this, as it makes an argument for moving past many recent foreign policies. Congresswoman Lee, who voted against the authorization in 2000, spoke out about sponsoring this repeal.


REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): If you remember, that authorization was passed because we were told really the lies that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There were done.

And this has been on the books now, like you said, 20 years, so it`s time to get it off. It`s not needed.


MELBER: This is a big deal, what the House has done, partly on a bipartisan basis.

The Senate may take the issue soon. Congress has not addressed the 2001 authorization that related to 9/11.

As always, thank you for watching THE BEAT. You can find me online @AriMelber or at, always a good way to connect with me.