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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 6/18/21

Guests: Fat Joe, Maya Wiley, Dave Aronberg, Bill Kristol


Rapper Fat Joe speaks out. Craig Melvin discusses his new book, "Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father." New York mayoral candidate Maya Wiley discusses the race. The federal sex crimes investigation into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida continues. Mike Pence is heckled and called a traitor at a conservative gathering. Will laws intended to target the mob be used against the Trump Organization?



Hands on my knees, shaking hands with Ari Melber.

Happy Juneteenth, Ari. How are you?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Happy Juneteenth. I`m shaking -- this is me shaking your hand through the monitor. It`s safe. You don`t even need sanitizer.

JOHNSON: Shaking the hands. Yes.

MELBER: I miss hands. I miss Nicolle. We all do. I love seeing you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

MELBER: And before we go into the weekend, you tell me, how big will a Biden jobs bill be, if there isn`t Biden jobs bill, in your view, when this is all done?

JOHNSON: I think it`s going to be cut down to the bone. I just don`t see much support coming from the Republicans, and I don`t think -- and we see this from infrastructure and everything else like that -- I think they`re committed to making him a half-term president.

They don`t want him to get a victory this big heading into the summer.

MELBER: I thought there was no such thing as halfway presidents.


JOHNSON: You know what? Halfway cooks -- Halfway crooks, halfway presidents, we get those occasionally. We get those occasionally. Mitch McConnell is trying to make sure that he`s only a halfway president.


JOHNSON: Exactly.

MELBER: Jason, thanks for working extra. We will see you soon. And we will see Nicolle soon.

And I want to welcome over to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We have a big show tonight, a follow-up on the special report we brought you about prosecuting the Trump Organization literally like the mafia. We had some breaking news there.

Also something that when I hear from BEAT viewers, I know some of you are actually excited about. New York City mayoral candidate and a longtime special BEAT guest, Maya Wiley is here tonight on the eve of this race, early voting already under way.

But we begin with an escalation in another story, the federal sex crimes investigation into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Now, we have known he`s under investigation. The issues range from sex trafficking to possible sex with a minor. These are allegations he denies.

But, today, the new update -- and this story had kind of been out of the news for a little while -- is that there are signs the case continues to move. Prosecutors believe a decision about whether or not to bring charges against Gaetz could come as early as July. Now, that is reporting from multiple sources to ABC News.

Other witnesses also speaking out behind closed doors, meaning they`re speaking directly to the feds. Could be bad news for anyone that they have evidence on. The interviews involve more women who were allegedly introduced to Gaetz through Greenberg, who is now convicted, again, according to ABC News.

And -- quote -- "Since may, a new round of target letters and subpoenas in the wide ranging investigation have been sent out."

This comes after that guilty Gaetz associate just mentioned, Greenberg, pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, including sex trafficking, and has been cooperating. He`s prepared to hand over evidence and testimony that could implicate Gaetz and others, sources tell that same ABC News team.

Now, a Gaetz spokesman -- person is responding directly to this new report, saying it`s all another -- quote -- "partisan smear job."

Now, you may notice in our reporting, and I always try to be transparent with you, I kept saying ABC a lot. And that`s because this is an ABC News story, so credit to them. And it`s also not one that NBC News has been able to match, follow up, or verify. So credit to them, but also you need to know where we are in terms of pulling on these leads.

And Gaetz not yet charged with any wrongdoing.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It is a horrible allegation and it is a lie.

I have spent my entire career pursuing justice. I don`t obstruct justice. The only thing I have obstructed is the injustice oftentimes at the hands of the Department of Justice.

The things the media has said about me are lies, and the truth will prevail.

QUESTION: Are you concerned you will be indicted?



MELBER: We`re joined by Dave Aronberg, Florida state attorney for Palm Beach County, and MSNBC columnist Laura Bassett.

Dave, I credit ABC. They have the reporting. It suggests problems for potentially Gaetz and others, as I read their sourcing, and it suggests some sort of resolution soon. You`re down there. You know these issues. You have been an analyst for us on the story before.

Does that ring true to you?


It does. It`s what I expected, because this investigation seems to be wrapping up. After all, they have got the cooperation of the man at the center of this whole thing, Joel Greenberg, along with, according to reports, cooperation with Matt Gaetz`s ex-girlfriend and the 17-year-old girl who allegedly is the victim of child sex trafficking.

And it is ironic, when you talk about giving the best deal to Joel Greenberg, that it is the person who is the most culpable who will get the best deal, because he knows the most. And, also, this all explains why things have been so delayed. It`s because this is not just about whether Matt Gaetz had sex with an underage girl. This is a lot broader than that.

It could involve the Mann Act, which says you can`t transport individuals across state lines for purposes of prostitution, violations of campaign finance laws, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, identity theft. After all, Joel Greenberg has already pled guilty to that.

So that`s, I think, why this thing has taken so long, not to mention the fact that, if you indict a sitting member of Congress, you need to get lots of approvals up and down the DOJ. So, I think July is a pretty reasonable timetable.

MELBER: Yes. Interesting.

Laura, Matt Gaetz has basically ridden a wave of kind of anti-establishment MAGA energy to be one of the more famous newer members of Congress. Now he`s in the news a lot for these other reasons. He was back out on Newsmax just last night brazenly attacking the FBI, which is the arm of the DOJ that`s been investigating him, under the lawful approval of judges.

So we have no reason to think there`s anything wrong there with the process thus far. Take a look.


GAETZ: I think that the FBI has morphed into a political opposition research organization and a political activism organization more than a law enforcement organization, an agency that has a whole lot of swamp left in it that needs to be drained.


MELBER: Laura?

LAURA BASSETT, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Look, I think the biggest problem here is that Matt Gaetz is still sitting on the Judiciary Committee in the House, which is overseeing the DOJ, which is investigating him.

And he`s out on Newsmax, on FOX News, spreading baseless conspiracy theories, saying that the FBI was involved in planning the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which doesn`t even make any sense.

And, frankly, he hasn`t been accused of anything. But you would think, it`s basic common sense, that if he`s being investigated for a crime by the DOJ, he should at least be temporarily removed from the committee that oversees it. And he has displayed frat boy behavior since he`s been in office. He allegedly showed nude photos of women he slept with to other lawmakers on the House floor.

He allegedly had a giant box of condoms outside of his office. I mean, the man is gross and has no respect for women. And so I just think it`s insane that he is still overseeing this massive Justice Department and sitting on this massively important committee and representing thousands of people, when it looks like he`s guilty of these crimes.

MELBER: All fair points. And he certainly has not done the voluntary recusal, as you mentioned, from that committee.

You know where he has been recused from, Laura?

BASSETT: What? Am I supposed to answer that?

MELBER: He`s been recused from -- he`s...


MELBER: Well, if you know. I was going go there, but if you -- if it popped into your head.

He`s been forcefully recused from FOX News, where he used to go on constantly. And the numbers are actually pretty telling. He went from three -- in three months, insider reports, from a FOX News darling to being -- quote -- "excommunicated" from the network`s many shows.

In March, he was on FOX at least 19 times, they counted, making him one of the most booked members of government. In April, May and so far in June, well, Laura, he`s down to zero.

BASSETT: Right. Well...

MELBER: Your thoughts about where that fits in to the face of the Republican Party?

BASSETT: Yes, I mean, I don`t think FOX News suddenly decided to have ethics and removed him because he`s being accused of a crime.

I think what happened is, he went on and he directly accused Tucker Carlson of some kind of -- he did a very bro-y, frat bro thing, and went on Tucker Carlson show and said, you and I have both been falsely accused of a sex crime.

You could see the misery on Carlson`s face. And so I think it`s more FOX News protecting their own, rather than trying to be ethical here. But, yes, it`s certainly good that he`s been removed from America`s largest propaganda network.


ARONBERG: Yes, that`s what happens when you make Tucker Carlson a witness in your case. Tucker Carlson may get a subpoena. And that`s the kind of thing that would keep you from getting invited back on the show.

This is getting to be a very interesting case, because you have a colorful cast of characters, including a guy named Big Joe Ellicott, who is now being investigated as someone who was with the alleged 17-year-old at the time and someone who knows where a lot of bodies are buried.

And that could also be a reason why this investigation has not wrapped up yet. They`re seeing what he knows. He was a groomsman in Matt -- in -- excuse me -- Joel Greenberg`s wedding, and, as such, because of those qualifications, became a high-level executive within the tax collector`s office, didn`t show up that much to work.

He actually used about $16,000 on the government credit card to buy items for his private business. And so the feds got him. And he is apparently talking.

And, by the way, Ari, that`s not to be confused, this Big Joe, with Fat Joe, who`s an erstwhile guest of THE BEAT, who`s going all the way up from the big house to the bigger house. Big Joe seems to be doing the opposite.

MELBER: You know, Dave, if there were extra credit points on THE BEAT, you would get them for tying an actual witness named Joe -- or we will see, more than a witness -- to our friend and colleague the great Fat Joe, from the Bronx, who is all the way up with Bill Kristol later tonight. Folding in the plug.

It`ll be a -- in some ways, a more fun segment than this, because so much of this stuff is darn serious.

So, thanks for the shout-out.

I did want to ask you about that other issue, Dave, which is, the sex crime charges are incredibly serious. And the feds have every interest in tracking down every potential person, the ABC report here making waves because it talks about more than one person. And, obviously, if the feds are doing this fairly, it doesn`t matter whether one of them is famous or - - Gaetz is a big figure, or someone else might be obscure.

We may not have literally never heard of them. They have an obligation to track down every person who might be part of the sex crime conspiracy. Having said that, there`s a lot of local kind of governmental corruption type stuff in here, which also seems concerning, because you have the member of Congress involved.

Walk us through, what would the theory the case be on the corruption stuff? And do you think that the evidence there might be, in some ways, more voluminous, because it seems that there`s a lot of records?

ARONBERG: You could say that there`s a greater chance of Matt Gaetz being indicted for something else other than child sex trafficking because there`s so much out there.

There is a sham candidate who Central Florida Republicans put into a state Senate race to try to siphon away votes from the Democrat in the race. And they ran this campaign to the left of the Democrat, and it helped to get the Republican elected. It also worked in Miami-Dade County.

And there`s a former state senator down there currently under indictment for that. So they`re looking into that same thing in Central Florida. And there`s allegations that Matt Gaetz was involved. So we`re going to see about that.

Another proof, by the way, that the only provable election fraud in the 2020 election seems to be on the Republican side. And so there`s other things. Like, apparently, there`s a bunch of no-show jobs that Joel Greenberg gave out to his office to friends like Big Joe. And that could be a RICO violation, racketeering.

You need to show corrupt intent, though, which is another reason why this investigation is probably taking longer than most people expected.

MELBER: Yes. And it had been out of the news for a little while because just haven`t been any clues. Here, you have got a bunch, according to those sourcing, and a sign of a resolution, wherever it goes.

We will cover all of that.

Dave and Laura, thank you for kicking us off tonight.

We have a lot in the broadcast, including what you see on your screen there in the corner, Maya Wiley back on THE BEAT, this time as a candidate. She wants to run New York City. Voting is already under way. We have that for you.

Also, Mike Pence heckled, called a traitor at a conservative gathering.

And new details, as our casebook continues, on how that mob law could be used against the Trump Org, with new reporting out of the DA`s office from a veteran.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Turning to accountability in a series we have been doing of important stories and updates on the evidence of how the Republican Party continues, with self-deception, as well as lying to many others, about what happened at the January 6 insurrection.

Of course, the target there was the vice president at the time, Mike Pence. People wanted to hang him. Now he`s getting heckled at a conservative conference, because the people who wanted to hang him and the others who wanted to overturn the election apparently have more sway than Donald Trump`s vice president.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank my friend Ralph Reed for those overly generous words. I`m deeply humbled by them.


PENCE: Ralph Reed knows me well enough to know the introduction I prefer is a little bit shorter.


MELBER: That`s the Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering. Those are conservatives. And they`re still yelling "Traitor" at him after we know what happened.

This is not just words. Have it for you on the screen, men with guns ushering the vice president out away, because they were scared that the people who said they wanted to kill him who were Trump fans wanted to kill him. They chanted, "Hang Mike Pence." They had the evacuation.

And Mike Pence fought for Trump on everything, politically and otherwise. He did everything, except become a criminal or an authoritarian. That`s the one thing they wanted from him that they didn`t get. That`s why he had to be ushered out by the men with guns. And they`re still chanting "Traitor" at him.

Prominent Republican officials, as well as some in the media, are continuing to fan the flames of this stuff.

And, again, I`m sorry to be repetitive, but I will repeat on this point. These are not just words. This is not just metaphor and rhetoric. We`re talking about acts that led to violence and can do so again.

Now some are trying to claim that it was maybe not the Trump fans, but -- we will put this on the screen -- the FBI that was somehow organized to get this riot off the ground.

That`s false.

The truth about January 6 is clear. The evidence is before our eyes. It happened that day. And there`s even more in the ongoing federal investigations, including new pieces of evidence that add to the facts that apparently are going to be a flash point in our national politics for some time. You need the facts.

There`s disturbing video that`s emerged, for example, of the mob assaulting a different police officer.




MELBER: That`s more recently emerged video. And it just shows you the lengths they were going.

Everything we have seen and know about, from the videos that have come out, to the evidence in the cases, that`s the floor, not the ceiling. That`s the floor of what`s come out. More and more will come out that will show the lengths they went, the violence, the attacks on police, the efforts to end American democracy.

We will keep showing it to you as long as there are any questions here about the facts, because it matters.

Now, we have our shortest break, 60 seconds.

When we come back, the rest of our program includes Maya Wiley and my special report on why they`re talking about using mob tactics against the Trump Organization.


MELBER: Heat continues to build on the Trump Organization.

Prosecutors have been turning the screws on this top executive, Allen Weisselberg. He could face indictment as soon as this summer, according to that big "New York Times" report.

Now, as we have reported, prosecutors could also do something very, very scary to Donald Trump. They could indict the entire Trump Organization. That`s something that relates to RICO, which they have done with the mob, or other types of charges where you just say it`s pervasive across the company.

Now, if Trump Org were indicted and convicted, they would go into bankruptcy. And there is a higher bar. You have to have pervasive misconduct. This is the question of whether the Trump Org occasionally had malfeasance or did something much worse, how long alleged crimes have continued for.

The other issue is past misconduct. Has the company dealt with problems like this before? We know the Trump Organization has. There`s also the question of harm to innocent persons. You may remember this from all debates about whether to indict entire banks or accounting firms.

If a company is big, sometimes, it`s not fair to indict the whole company, if thousands of employees were there and innocent. That factor doesn`t help Trump either, because it`s a tight-knit company.

Then there`s voluntary disclosure, whether or not the company is up front and trying to rectify the problem. That`s something we know the Trump Organization is not doing. There`s also obstruction, where Trump has been investigated many times. And if obstruction is a factor, the information that Trump fixer Michael Cohen said on our show seems relevant.




COHEN: And it`s OK to lie, so long as that there`s no documentary evidence in order to back up the opposite.

And my point to you and to your listeners and to your viewers is that information is already in the hands of those people that are seeking the cooperation of Allen Weisselberg.


MELBER: The information is there.

As for the questions about whether or not you go after the whole company, which is something that Donald Trump would care a lot about, if it ended his career in bankruptcy, well, it stems from this 11-year-old memo.

I mentioned this once on the program before. It hasn`t been reported widely, but it was written by the former chief assistant district attorney, Dan Alonso. It creates these standards that the DA`S office will be using right now, this summer, to decide whether or not to indict the whole company.

Now, we just had him on the program. And this is the fun thing we get to do, or at least as journalists and lawyers or nerds -- we think it`s fun -- to pull on all these strands. Then we have conversations about what`s in the memo. Then we get to ask him because he wrote the darn thing.

Here`s what he told us about how serious some of these charges could be.


DANIEL R. ALONSO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It`s a natural thing in complex white-collar cases to at least consider filing these charges.

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.


MELBER: That`s one New York update.

And we turn next to another. Maya Wiley is back, running for mayor, on THE BEAT.

And later tonight, Craig Melvin also here, as we discuss Juneteenth and his new book.

Stay with us.


MELBER: We`re now four days out from the primary for New York City mayor, early voting already under way. And, in New York, the winner of the Democratic primary typically becomes mayor.

Many call it one of the hardest jobs in all of politics. You run the city`s police force, the largest in the nation, the largest public school system in the country. There have been up to 13 candidates running to replace Mayor de Blasio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the race to become the next and 110th mayor of New York City, a large and diverse group running for the open seat.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, CO-HOST, "MORNING JOE": Brooklyn Borough President and former police officer Eric Adams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kathryn Garcia of Park Slope is de Blasio`s former sanitation commissioner.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Civil rights attorney Maya Wiley.

MAYA WILEY (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: It`s time we start recognizing that women are deeply qualified to run this city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

ANDREW YANG (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: We need change and a fresh start.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: The largest election anywhere in the country by far.


MELBER: Joining me now is civil rights lawyer, former counsel to Mayor de Blasio, and former chairwoman of the city`s police oversight agency -- and, full disclosure, she`s also a former MSNBC contributor right here on THE BEAT -- the candidate for mayor of New York City, Maya Wiley.

Thanks for joining us.

WILEY: It`s great to be with you, Ari, as I roll through town.


MELBER: I see you there. It`s not carpool karaoke, but I know that this is such a busy time on your campaign schedule anyway.


MELBER: Let`s start with your closing argument here.

We have seen, as mentioned, you poll pretty close in the polls here as a front-runner. What`s the closing argument to New Yorkers?

WILEY: You know, primarily that we are a miraculous city, and we`re going to recover from COVID. We already are in that process.

But we`re also at a crossroads, where we have the opportunity not just for a caretaking government, but for a government that is bold, and transformative, and actually ensures that we have housing we can afford that we don`t pay more than 30 percent of our income for, that we can end street homelessness, we can make sure we are safe from crime, but also police violence, and make sure every single one of our kids has a bright future and an opportunity in schools they can enjoy.

But that does require a bold and transformational leadership that knows how to work on government from within government. And that`s the experience I bring as a civil rights lawyer, but also as someone who`s had the experience to know just how much more government can do than it has done, and with the courage to confront developers, to confront the bureaucracy, and, frankly, to confront the NYPD, so we get done what we need for our people.

MELBER: You mentioned NYPD. And that`s a big issue that, all over the country, people are looking at different approaches to policing.

At this moment, though, crime is also rising in New York and several cities. We have metrics that show the trends over the last year or so, with shootings and murders increasing. Your program, Maya, is to slash the NYPD budget by about a billion.

And at the debate this week -- now, many people around the nation may not have seen this -- one of your rival candidates, Kathryn Garcia, criticizing that kind of thing. Let`s take a look.


KATHRYN GARCIA (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: These are complicated times. And several of my opponents are using hashtags, #defundthepolice. I just don`t think that`s the right approach.

You need to sit down and really think through these things.


MELBER: What`s your response from that issue, which is big in New York, but around the country?

And, again, some of the criticism from your rivals and others is basically taking issue with your plank, saying that your ideas won`t actually make New York safer.

WILEY: Well, what I say is, I don`t have a hashtag. I have a plan that is based on evaluation, research, data, and facts, and not fear.

And that means looking at what has actually prevented guns from being shot before they`re shot. You know, we all spend a lot of time talking about whether or not we need more police. And the short answer is, we simply do not.

But the reason we don`t, which we`re not talking enough about, is because we have increased the size of the police force because the size of our mentally ill population has increased. In fact, it`s increased by 100,000 calls to 911 over the past decade.

And what we have done is, we have increased the size of the police department to be mental health crisis responders, rather than investing those resources in mental health crisis responders.

And if you talk to police officers, they don`t want to -- it`s not what they signed up for the force for. And, in fact, 18 people who have been shot and killed by the police in the last few years are people who are mentally ill, when what we could have done is responded to the problem with the people qualified to respond to them.

So I`m expanding public safety because I am following the research and the facts. And I`m also recognizing that, frankly, we have to have greater police accountability. And we don`t do that when we just accept an assertion from the police department that we need them to keep us safe, when too many black and brown New Yorkers have found the opposite to be true.

But, Ari, there`s one thing I want to make very clear. I`m the candidate at the top of this race who has not been endorsed by any police union. Think about that. I`m the only one.

And if you think about who have been the greatest forces opposing even the most modest of reforms, it is the police unions who have endorsed the other top three candidates in this race.

So, I stand here before you to say, I know what it feels like to be afraid of crime. I know what it`s like to fear police violence too. And it`s simply a lie that we have to choose one or the other. But it does mean we have to be smart with our resources and recognize where we can invest them in the things that actually solve the problems we have.

And those calls don`t need to go to the police department. They need to go to mental health professionals.

MELBER: Right.

And I appreciate, Maya, part of what you`re saying and educating our viewers on is something we have covered, which is not a binary on police or no police, fund or defund, but who actually is the best person from the government to respond to different things, to de-escalate, to avoid what even police departments say in some of these mental health cases are tragedies. Were they avoidable?

So, I appreciate your answer there.

I want to ask you about another thing. And it`s a piece of criticism.

And longtime BEAT viewers may know, as a journalist, I`m neutral in the race. I`m not neutral on Maya Wiley. I think that you have tremendous insights to bring to bear, which is why we had you on THE BEAT so much.

But, in the role as journalist, I got to ask you about some criticism in "The New York Times" for your response. This is a big article people in New York may have noticed. They talk about -- quote -- "Maya Wiley taking credit" for the firing of a very controversial officer from this case.

And they quote folks, for example, saying Maya taking credit for bringing that Officer Pantaleo to justice is not accurate.

Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center saying: "We`re not looking for another mayor who`s good on rhetoric and bad on accountability."

So, as this part of the job, I did want to ask you about that -- that is some criticism there -- and your response?

WILEY: You know, look, my response is simply this.

One, I am proud of the role that I played in getting the case. Spent a year as the head of the CCRB, as the chair, and, in that year, got the case against Daniel Pantaleo over with our strongest charges, our strongest recommendations we are allowed to make under the charter, the city charter, to get him off the force, to fire him, and protecting the role of our civilian prosecutors to do just that.


WILEY: And the second is, it`s why I`m not endorsed by the police unions, unlike my other candidates that are running in this race.

MELBER: Right, which you -- which I will say -- now I`m jumping in like I do with all the candidates -- which you remind us, but is an interesting thing about where some of the Democratic primary politics may be going.

You`re touting that. You`re basically implying the endorsements are something people should take a close look at, depending on the issues, with the opponents that you have.

Maya, I know how busy you are running around for every last vote in the car. Thank you for joining us tonight.

WILEY: Thanks. It`s great to be with you, Ari.

And I do miss you.


MELBER: We miss you too. We will see what happens on Tuesday.

Good luck to you and all the candidates. Thank you, Maya.

WILEY: Take care, Ari.

MELBER: You know who else I miss? I miss my friend Craig Melvin.

He is here on Juneteenth, on fatherhood, on his book, and so much more when we come back.

Stay for it.


MELBER: We are now seeing some of the first observances of Juneteenth, now that it`s a national holiday, federal offices closed, many cities holding events to begin the marking of this first time that the national government is actually commemorating that end of slavery.

It`s remarkable because we are a nation that grapples with so many problems in our race, in our history, in our ability to face facts about the legacy of this country, how it was built.

It was actually just six years ago that South Carolina took down its Confederate Flag from the state capitol, which anticipated so many debates we live through now.


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A historic day in South Carolina, as Governor Nikki Haley signs a bill to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from statehouse grounds.

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Historic day in South Carolina. The Confederate Flag is down. But the fight is not over.

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST: For all of us who have grown up in the shadow of this Confederate Battle Flag here in Columbia, it will be an emotional day. After more than 50 years, the flag will be taken down in a short and solemn ceremony.


MELBER: Joining me now is the man you saw there, Craig Melvin, "Today Show" colleague. He was reporting there for "The Today Show." He`s also, of course, on MSNBC, the host of "GREG MELVIN REPORTS" at 11:00.

He has a new book out. And I recommend you get it. We`re going to talk about it in a minute, "Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father." It`s out in time for Father`s Day. We`re going to get into that.

Thanks for being here, sir.

MELVIN: Thanks for having me, my friend. Good to see you, Mr. Melber.

MELBER: Great to see you.

We looked at that footage and thought about, wow, does it feel like longer than six years ago or less? Your thoughts on something you know so well from your home state and Juneteenth now?

MELVIN: It feels like -- to me, at least, it feels like eons ago, even though it was just six years ago. But I will never forget being there at the capitol that day, because my godsons were off to the sides, some of my other family, all of my folks there in South Carolina.

And some of my other family had come down to the statehouse to visit with me, but to also witness history. It is very difficult to overstate how much of a symbol that flag was to folks who grew up in Columbia. I grew up just 15 minutes from where that Confederate Battle Flag -- and, again, it`s important to make the distinction. That was the Confederate Battle Flag that was raised above the statehouse, not in the wake of the Civil War, but in the 1960s, when a majority of...


MELVIN: ... the Confederate monuments were erected around this country.

So, to be there and to be able to have that front-row seat to history as six years ago -- and, in fact, I hadn`t seen that footage before. So kudos to your team for digging that up.

MELBER: The team -- the team dug it up.

That`s not all the team dug up, Craig, because, before we turn to the book, we do have a little housekeeping here. I hope you`re ready.

MELVIN: Uh-oh. Uh-oh. What?


MELBER: One of the things, as someone who was an attorney who came into the news, I had to learn from people. And I have learned a lot just watching you and then sometimes being around you.

And our team noticed -- and we got some footage for you to look at that -- that it seems like a little bit of one-way admiration. Like, I`m learning from you and loving you, and then you do your thing, which I respect. You got to keep it real on air.

Let`s roll the tape of some times that we have spent together.


MELBER: It`s something that`s often called the Jay-Z test, who famously said, I`m not a businessman. I`m a business, man.

MELVIN: Only Ari Melber can work in Hova into a segment on this.

I knew ARI MELBER when no one watched it.

MELBER: You almost wonder if it`s leading to an awkward silence.

MELVIN: I`m amazed that millions of people watch this show.



MELBER: Teach us about roasting in the newsroom.

MELVIN: And millions still watch.



MELVIN: Millions still watch, Ari Melber. So, clearly, you got the last laugh. I was wrong five years ago.

MELBER: You`re never wrong. That`s what we learn. And you do it with aplomb.

So we enjoyed that. That`s our reel.

Let`s get into this book, which I do recommend. And it`s a great time for it.

I want to read a -- just a quote for you to expound on. You say: "Pops gave you the advice, don`t work too much. Don`t miss out. He had a hard time letting go of his guilt over all that he missed out of as a dad. Dozens of times, we have told him, hey, we forgive you. The problem is, he hasn`t been able to forgive himself."

Craig, sometimes, these truths are relatable, because you read that, and a lot of people could, I think, in their own ways relate to that. Tell us about that, this story, this book.

MELVIN: You know, part of the reason I wrote this book, Ari, was to celebrate fatherhood, to celebrate my dad, to give him his roses, while he was still alive.

But I wrote it in part so that he understood that we forgive him. He was absent. He was physically present, but he wasn`t always there emotionally, certainly not spiritually. But it was because he struggled mightily with an addiction for nearly my entire life and most of his life.

He was addicted to alcohol. He was addicted to gambling. And then, at the age of 67, he decided to pick himself up and dust himself off and start life anew. He checked into in-house rehab facility, residential rehab facility for about six or eight weeks.

And he came out a new man. And we have been talking over the years. And he and I both decided that sharing his story would do a lot of good. And the book came out on Tuesday.

And I got to tell you, man, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have reached out who have identified with parts of his story, whether it was the addiction, whether it was the resiliency, whether it was this idea that our family had given up on him to a certain extent, and then all of a sudden, three years ago, we decided that we`re going to try to get him to help.

And we enlisted a professional. And he`s just been -- he`s a different grandfather. He`s got six grandkids now. And the grandkids get a side of my dad that we didn`t get. And we`re so very grateful for it.

MELBER: Does it mean something to you to bring it into the light?

I mean, that`s what you do as a journalist, but, here, it`s a different one. It`s your own story. And so many problems we face interpersonally in America and around the world are not -- they`re not on the news every night, but you have, whether it`s addiction...


MELBER: ... or mental health or other issues, and they get stigmatized, when what they need to get is dealt with.


And that`s one of the chief reasons I wrote it. I mean, you know me. I`m not a -- I`m not a public person. I have a public job, but I don`t -- I don`t like to go talking a lot about my life, my family.

I tend to think, as a society in general, we overshare. But I really thought long and hard about this project. And after conversations with my younger brother and my dad and my mom, we thought there was power in my father`s story...


MELVIN: ... because come to find out my father`s story is the story of millions of people in this country, people who are struggling with myriad addictions, their loved ones, who don`t really know what to do in a lot of instances.

And so it`s -- it was -- it was kind of a no-brainer. I will tell you, it is -- it was the most cathartic thing I have ever done. It was cheaper than therapy during the pandemic, putting pen to paper, and for my father as well.


MELVIN: It was as if my father had been waiting 67 years for someone to ask him some of these questions.


I love it when you put it like that. That makes sense. And did Jay-Z not say, Craig, the pain is real, but how can you heal what you never reveal?


MELVIN: I should have known it was coming. I should have known it was coming.

MELBER: I didn`t know it was coming until you got to the catharsis of revealing truths as a way of heal.

MELVIN: I wish I had a Jay-Z lyric to come back with, but I don`t.


MELVIN: Can you give me one? Like, what would be a good response?

MELBER: A good response lyric to the lyric?

I got to write both sides of the interview now? I mean...

MELVIN: Yes, absolutely. You`re a chief legal analyst. You`re quick. You`re quick.



MELBER: When you see me see you, because he talks about people feeling reflected in his songs and his music. I think a lot of artists do that.

And you`re telling me that a lot of people read this book and feel their stories reflected.

MELVIN: I continue to maintain that we`re wasting your talents.


MELBER: I mean, that`s -- the interview ends like the clip reel.

There`s like a -- there`s a roast in there somehow.

MELVIN: It does.


MELBER: Craig, great to see you here.

MELVIN: It always has to.

MELBER: I can`t wait to see you in person.

Everybody, check out the book. It is "Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father."

We will be right back.


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

And guess who`s back as America reopens? It`s your favorite duo right here, right now, Grammy-nominated rapper Fat Joe and the famed conservative Bill Kristol.

They have found some common cause before. They care about our democracy. The Trump era brought them together. You see our iconic picture of Bill lovingly look up looking at Fat Joe there, the Bronx Terror Squad sensation who you know from hits like "What`s Luv?" and "All the Way Up," which was named-checked by a lawyer earlier this night out of the blue.

His latest moniker is Joprah, because he has been hosting the heck out of the pandemic year on I.G. and Revolt. And Bill Kristol, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations and director of the group Defending Democracies Together.

How you guys doing? Glad to have you together.


FAT JOE, MUSICIAN: Thanks for having us, Ari.

KRISTOL: And it`s great to be with Fat Joe. It`s good to be with Ari Melber, but it`s great to be with Fat Joe.

FAT JOE: Thank you.


MELBER: Always better with Joe.

Who`s over your shoulder there, Joe?

FAT JOE: Well, that`s me, but it`s me and Big Pun. I only see me right now, but it`s me a Big Pun back there. So that`s a classic photo right there.

Thanks for having us, Ari.

MELBER: That`s a beautiful...


FAT JOE: We love to be on the number one show in MSNBC.


MELBER: Hey...

KRISTOL: Oh, the check is in the mail.

MELBER: That`s a beautiful...

KRISTOL: The check is in the mail, Joe. That`s good. You really -- he`s an experienced pro, right?

I mean, he said it as if it was natural and as if he believed it. That was good.


MELBER: He knows how to do it.

The photo is beautiful I love Big Pun. Rest in peace. But, right now, because of the way we cropped it, it`s just like I`m talking to one Kristol and two Joes. And I can live with that. I got both faces up there.

Joe, let me ask you straight up on politics. You and Bill discussed it before. We got President Biden coming back from his foreign trip. And a lot of the Republicans, they don`t really want to come to the table and negotiate on the spending. He may have to go it alone. That`s how they did the last bill.

Your thoughts on this, as we get out of that old era, but still have a lot of folks who don`t want to meet in the middle.

FAT JOE: Man, it`s sad, man. It`s sad, because I see the president trying to reach out across the aisle and try to really work with everybody.

And they can`t come together. But he got to do what he got to do. Infrastructure, this country has to really step up -- step up its game on infrastructure. And I really love that he`s been really aggressive with dealing with peacekeepers, people that are on the street working in a community trying to bring gun violence down.

And he`s dedicated himself to work with them. And different things in this bill that he considers infrastructure, which is really, you understand, it`s really -- it`s really incredible, when you look at it, how he figured out that this is all part of the problem.

But when you -- when you speak towards gun violence, we speak about getting to these kids as young as we can, giving back jobs to the community, giving them ways to distract themselves from the violence and the bad days. So, I love that about that infrastructure bill.

MELBER: Yes. Yes. Bill, how about you?

KRISTOL: I don`t know.

A lot of people are frustrated by Joe Biden, and he`s not aggressive enough in twisting Joe Manchin`s arm, and he`s got to get the stuff down. And I feel that sometimes.

But I don`t know. He`s been underestimated, right, for the last couple of years. And I wonder if he`s -- I think he`s maybe playing his hand pretty - - in a cool, but pretty calculated way. There`s been some movement this weekend on infrastructure. Ten Republican senators at least claim they want to be part of a bipartisan deal.

On voting rights, Manchin has now come up with, I think, actually a possible outline of a bill that focuses on some of the key things that really need to be done to protect fundamental voting rights, and maybe he can get some movement on that.

So I`m willing to give President Biden the benefit of the doubt here for a little while longer.


As we end the week, now I got about 30 seconds. So, from each of you, in a sentence, what`s the key to Father`s Day?


KRISTOL: I have a lot of smart aleck comments to make Father`s Day.

My kids have left town to really help -- they care so much about it.

But I got to say, after that Craig Melvin segment, it was so moving and so kind of quietly powerful, that I think that should be the -- maybe that should be my last word on Father`s Day.

MELBER: Shout-out to dads.

Fat Joe?


FAT JOE: I will be out in Brooklyn walking with a bunch of the Dad Gang, the fathers in the community, very, very big stereotype in the brown and the black community that there`s not real fathers present.

And so I summoned all the fathers in Brooklyn in New York City. Let`s go marching together. And we`re going to be out there in unity, man, showing support to all the fathers.

MELBER: I love that, Fat Joe thinking about this in the community context.

And you are a founding father of hip-hop.

And Bill Kristol is a father.

That`s where we`re going to leave it, Bill.



FAT JOE: Peace, Ari.

MELBER: And I love something you guys together.



MELBER: We`re going to do it again.

Happy Father`s Day to everyone.

KRISTOL: Do it again.

MELBER: My thanks to the original dynamic duo, to Fat Joe and Bill Kristol.

That`s our program.

"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" starts right now.