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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 6/28/21

Guests: Noubar Afeyan, Cori Bush, Michael Cohen


The New York district attorney prepares potential charges against the Trump Organization. Michael Cohen discusses the case against the Trump Organization. Moderna chairman Noubar Afeyan discusses how long vaccines may protect people from COVID. Congresswoman Cori Bush discusses the progressive agenda. Bill Barr tries to rehabilitate his reputation.



Hi, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

And this week starts with new confirmation of the escalating criminal probe into the Trump Organization. So, here`s what we know right now.

One, the New York DA is preparing these charges. That fact is not even in dispute. Donald Trump`s own corporate lawyers confirming today they have been advised some kind of charges are coming. Two, those charges are coming fast. This could be next week or as soon as this week.

Three, as a final step, before any charges, today is the legal deadline for the Trump Organization to make any final arguments for why the DA should not indict, "The Washington Post" reporting on that legal process.

And, four, there are several signs that this case will begin with narrow financial charges about tax evasion and benefits and not going after Donald Trump himself yet.

A Trump Organization lawyer, Ron Fischetti, speaking out on what DA Vance told him today, that these indictments will focus on benefits and alleged tax evasion, and not go after Donald Trump, at least in the main first round. Now, that suggests, if not Trump, that there will be either indictments of other people, like the CFO, or indictment of the company, or part of the company, or both.

Indict the company, indict the people, indict both and, according to this initial leak, not indict the former president. Now, this lawyer is also publicly using this time speaking out today, this inflection point, to criticize the narrow approach by the DA, saying the DA`s case, after all this, sounds like small ball, and quote "It`s crazy that`s all they have."

Now, as a media strategy, it may just be an effort to frame whatever comes out as minor, regardless of the facts. Any indictments that do hit the top of the former president`s company are a big deal legally, as well as for other reasons.

Any indictment of the Trump Organization or a big part of it itself is a huge deal. It`s Donald Trump`s lifeline. It`s his business.

But here on THE BEAT, we first started reporting on June 2 that a likely legal avenue would be a corporate indictment hitting the company or part of it. And that still puts pressure on the top executives and potentially on Donald Trump, especially if it spurs legal cooperation.

But after June 2, over the past few weeks, regular viewers may recall we did a different report here, before newspapers started reporting on this corporate prospect. We reported on just how it works when you indict a company or part of a company. And we heard from a very relevant person, Cy Vance`s former deputy in this office that will make the call. He even wrote the guidelines still used today in New York on whether to indict an organization or part of it.

And he told us there is a strong case to indict the company or part of it.

Now, as for other executives, many sources point to the Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg, as the most likely person who could be the first indicted. And he`s reportedly refusing to cooperate in the probe. If there are charges next week or this week, well, that changes everything for him.

He will face a major decision. Start talking about everything he knows that goes on in this company, or risk going to prison. And he has very little reasons to think that his unindicted boss, the former president, would or can help him in that spot. If you are indicted, the only help you can get is from the prosecutors, who have all this leverage, or a jury, if you have the evidence to convince them you`re not guilty.

So you take this all together. Some of it is familiar, because you have probably heard about it, just as you have heard about alleged financial misconduct by Donald Trump throughout basically his adult life.

Whenever you hear about that, remember what you`re hearing. That`s not just about Donald Trump as a person, although most people, when accused of tax evasion or financial misconduct, most people who don`t own and run companies of some kind, it`s only one avenue. It`s what they did.

With Donald Trump, thanks to his father and other financial details that I`m not going to get into all at this moment, well, Donald Trump does everything through the business, through the company. And people know that. It`s called the Trump Organization. It`s a family business very much literally.

So when we hear that this company may be indicted itself, or part of it, for tax evasion, that itself, of course, does connect back to Donald Trump.

And the second piece, which I`m about to get into with my experts, does relate to something that Trump`s lawyer said which, again, if you want to look at this clearly and fairly, you can`t dismiss any evidence, you take it all in it would be true that, after this much investigation and going all the way to Supreme Court to get the tax returns, if the only thing charged is avoiding fringe benefit taxes for people other than Donald Trump, it would be true that narrow case doesn`t sound like a lot.

But we are covering a grand jury process. And if you have been with me here on THE BEAT or watching the news or watching MSNBC, I bet you remember the Mueller grand jury. Do you remember how it started? With an indictment of a guy named George Papadopoulos and then other indictments.

And it took months and months longer in that very effective prosecution people across the spectrum credited Mueller for that it took months and months to get to more senior people and then get to the campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and then get to Roger Stone at the end with stuff that was Russia-adjacent.

I can`t tell you where we`re going. I can only report on these avenues, as we have been trying to do. But I can tell you that the Trump lawyer would be on to something if any next round of charges are the only ones, and he might be underestimating exactly how big this could get if these early charges are an effort to flip Mr. Weisselberg or put pressure on the corporate entities and ultimately go after the rest of what they found, if they found anything.

Now we turn to the experts.

I`m joined by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal and "Nation" magazine national affairs correspondent Joan Walsh.

Welcome to both of you.

I will also mention, in housekeeping, we have a witness in this probe, Michael Cohen, joining me shortly in the hour, which should be interesting, given his role.

Neal, your view on this flurry of reporting, the escalation of a probe that, as we have documented, seems to be starting with some of these tax issues by individuals within the company.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Ari, this 24-hour deadline that the prosecutor is gave the Trump Organization means that they have had a really steep hill to climb.

I mean, I have seen a lot of tight turnarounds in my legal career, but even I think like a 24-hour deadline to construct an alternative reality is rough going. And that`s what they have had here. And this path has been inexorable since the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 to turn over Donald Trump`s tax returns to the prosecutors.

And now what Trump`s lawyers are saying is, oh, this is insignificant, it`s not even a charge against Donald Trump and the like. But I think I loved your set piece, because it really put this in context.

And anyone who knows anything about criminal prosecutions, you don`t just run in and charge the big fish right away. You build your case slowly and methodically. I mean, the first round of the Enron indictments didn`t name its CEO, Ken Lay. In fact, it started two years earlier with accounting and Arthur Andersen and the like.

But, of course, Ken Lay did get indicted and criminally convicted of 10 different counts. And so this is the first move, not the last move.

MELBER: Yes, and before I bring in Joan on the wider context, to that point, Neal, we have been following, as we did in the Mueller probe, because, sometimes, if you have a playbook, you use it we have been trying to talk to the people that the prosecutors are interested in talking to, because they make for very interesting fact witnesses.

Here`s some of what we have heard from them.


JENNIFER WEISSELBERG, FORMER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF ALLEN WEISSELBERG: When Donald says numbers are certain things and then Allen says numbers are certain things, they don`t they`re not adding up.

JACK O`DONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT AND COO, TRUMP PLAZA HOTEL: And I actually went through a situation where I was asked to literally build false financials for my business.

I then went into Donald`s office. And Donald said: "Did Robert and Harvey talk to you about the numbers?"

And I said: "Yes, they did. But let me explain why I can`t redo the numbers, because they won`t be true."

And he just said: "We need new numbers."


MELBER: I present that to you, Neal, counselor, because those kinds of allegations are highly serious. If this initial reporting is correct -- and we will see what we get when we get it -- it would suggest that it`s the initial charges would not hit those kinds of things, like alleged corporate malfeasance or crime on behalf of the whole company.

Can you speak to what that means in the order that you described?

KATYAL: Yes, so that`s exactly the point, which is you start with the smaller things as a prosecutor, and then you go up to the bigger things.

Prosecutors bear the burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. And, here, you have also got the Trump machine kind of throwing up muck and saying, oh, these are prosecutors gone amuck and Democratic prosecutors and radicals and all sorts of stuff.

So, as a prosecutor, what that would tell me is, yes, I have already got these folks who are giving me a lot of evidence against the Trump Organization. But what I really want to do is make sure and squeeze everyone and use the criminal tools and prosecutions against others to build the case against the big fish.


KATYAL: So I think that`s what we will see the first stages of going on today.

MELBER: All right, so we did the law. I did some of it in the lead. And Neal and I just did it.

Now we`re about 10 minutes into the hour, Joan. This is still bigger than the law, by which I mean the technical rules under New York statutes. This is the former president of the United States, who sold himself as a great businessperson, and who now conducts his life, including potentially running for president again, through this company.

What does it mean, Joan, your view, writ large, if, as Trump`s own lawyers seem to be bracing for, part of this company is indicted within the next two weeks?

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC ANALYST: I`d like to say it makes a huge difference, Ari, but I`m not sure it does.

We have seen the examples of Trump University and the Trump Foundation and all the scandals and just disgusting behavior. We have seen so many reports about malfeasance in the Trump Organization. I don`t know that it`s going to change the minds.

People who voted for him five years ago or even a year ago because he`s a good businessman were not paying very close attention.

What I do think, though, is it puts a lot of pressure on the people around him. It really puts a lot of pressure on his children. I mean, I don`t just think about him and I don`t just think about Weisselberg, also Weisselberg`s children, but Ivanka and Jared, and Don and Eric, and I don`t know about Tiffany.

But there`s just a lot of there`s a lot of people who have a hand in this thin and whose reputations are also dependent on this. And I think Neal makes and you make the great case these things tend to start with smaller fish.

And so I think it`s news the Trump`s lawyer told Politico, OK, they`re not going to touch him, and it`s really it`s a scandal that it`s this small. It may start small, but I don`t expect it to stay small.


And with regard to where it could go and the pressure, I mentioned Cy Vance`s former deputy. He talked about other measures that could come into play, more likely later, in his view, but he`s quite close to this, including other heavier personal charges, like RICO. Take a look.


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: Neal, what would it look like to have an on-ramp to the that kind of pressure? And, in fairness, on the other hand, what would it look like? if this is as far as they ever go, and then the new DA comes in January, and they`re only doing sort of this chunk of the case?


So I think, right now, they`re starting with the low-hanging fruit, and, as I say, this (AUDIO GAP) get bigger. If it doesn`t get bigger, look, I mean, we`re still talking about the Trump Organization being criminally indicted. That`s different than student loan Trump University and other stuff, civil penalties.

And if they`re convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, that is really quite an extreme thing. It`s unlike the some of the other things, like a lot of the people around Trump have been accused of things and then Trump pretends not to know them. Oh, Michael Cohen, never heard of the guy, stuff like that.

Can`t do that about the Trump Organization. I mean, that is literally the organization that President Trump built and his children run, so it`s a little harder for him to run away from it.

The other thing I`d say is, even these smaller indictments could really undermine the Trump Organization`s financing. It`s been at least rumored that the Trump Organization has is pretty leveraged with billions of dollars in debt. And, many times, loan agreements say that the loan can be called if the organization is indicted.

That could put another squeeze on Donald Trump, apart and beyond the law itself.

MELBER: Yes, that`s a possibility. And it would really depend on the individual banks if they`re if their hands aren`t forced.

Joan, my final question to you, big picture, is more metaphysical. Are you ready for that one?

WALSH: Whoa. Yes.

MELBER: How, as a society, do you think everyone should deal with the understandable fatigue for all this stuff and what sometimes is called looking backwards by non-lawyers, because lawyers say, well, every case is about the past. It`s not "Minority Report." You don`t prosecute future crime.

But that`s a cultural mood after the what was what everyone was subjected to for those four years. How do you contrast that with all of the other conversations about the idea that there has to be more accountability, and the things that people got away with will be worse if they keep getting away with it?

WALSH: Well, I totally agree with that.

And I don`t think we can really afford any kind of outrage fatigue or legal fatigue or let`s just get on with it, let`s move ahead. And we have a lot of different avenues for pursuing these different cases.

I mean, we have got the New York DA and the New York attorney general. That`s great. We need a lot to go on in the Justice Department, frankly, in Washington and elsewhere, as we learn more about what kind of pressure Trump was bringing to bear against his so-called enemies and the role of the Justice Department there.

We cannot afford to look away from any of what`s happened. And then, of course, we have got January 6 and the Republicans` refusal to take that insurrection seriously.

So, I know it`s a lot, but we have got a lot of ways a lot of different ways of investigating it. And I think it`s really important that the people behind this last five or six years, as well as the Trump Organization`s long apparent history of wrongdoing, it`s important that they`re all brought to justice.


WALSH: So I`m not tired.

MELBER: Not tired.

Yes, I appreciate both of you your views on this from differing perspectives about a story that has just continued to accelerate. To paraphrase, there`s something happening here, but what it is, is getting more and more clear. I think we`re going to learn a lot in the coming days.

We will be calling on both of you, I imagine, if the news goes there,

Neal and Joan, thanks to both of you.

I want to tell viewers, we have got a fact-check on Bill Barr coming up, as he admits he knew Trump was lying.

Big news about how vaccines might protect you from COVID for years, very special guest, the chairman of Moderna.

But, first, witness Michael Cohen on what he expects as we go forward on this big news week.

Stay with us.



MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR Donald TRUMP: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it`s served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.


MELBER: That may be where it all started testimony from Michael Cohen.

The Trump Org probe continues. He is here with us live, the author of the book "Disloyal" and host of the "Mea Culpa" podcast.

Thanks for coming back, Michael.

COHEN: You`re welcome. Good to see you, Ari.

MELBER: Good to have you.

You look at these new reports, they confirm a lot of what you have said. They confirm some of we have been reporting here, as I mentioned.

What does it mean to you, based on your knowledge of the company, that, according to some sources, these indictments are coming soon, but they would begin potentially with these issues around CFO Weisselberg and maybe indicting the company or part of it?

COHEN: So I`m not so sure that the indictments don`t start as early as tomorrow or Wednesday.

The DA has been very busy putting this case together. They have millions of documents. I have said this on your show before. Allen Weisselberg is not the key to this indictment. It`s not Weisselberg. It`s not Calamari. It`s all of them or none of them.

The documentary evidence is what the DA has and what they`re going to be going on. You know that as well as anybody.

Now, one of the things about Weisselberg, they claim, is that he`s not cooperating. He`s actually the opposite. He`s refusing to cooperate.

Well, that`s OK, because, right now, they`re in the investigation stage. And it`s always easy to be tough when you`re in the investigation stage. Once those indictments come in, it`s a total different game. Now what`s on the line is your freedom.

And based upon the allegations that are being brought against Weisselberg, against Calamari, against the Trump Organization, and others, I mean, you`re looking at potentially 10 years. And rest assured, the game is not stacked in your favor, and the lawyers will turn around, especially that they`re being paid by Trump right now, that stay, stay the course, like what was told of me, stay the course, stay on message, do what you need to do. Right?

Don`t worry. Donald is there for you. He loves you. He`s going to protect you. He will never let anything bad happen, until, of course, he forgets Allen who? Matt who? Michael Cohen who?



COHEN: That`s exactly what is going to end happening. And then it`s he`s going to be faced with a choice.

MELBER: Let me jump in, Michael, because you`re making sound points.

Of course, you lived it. I have very, very brief sound here, though, that some might have forgotten, which is so relevant, because Mr. Weisselberg provided some sort of information in the investigation that touched on, as we have reported, payments that he, you and Donald Trump arranged.

This was how Donald Trump talked about that incident and his, Mr. Weisselberg`s role. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE United States: A hundred percent he didn`t, 100 percent.


TRUMP: He`s a wonderful guy. It was a very limited, little period of time.


MELBER: That was a period of time where, again, not to belabor the point, but, as you just accurately said, Donald Trump did not stand by you.

He did, though, there publicly stand by Mr. Weisselberg when it was convenient for both of them.

If there is a charge, an indictment against Weisselberg, what`s going to happen, in your view? And do you think Mr. Weisselberg could ever change his mind?

COHEN: Yes, absolutely.

Again, it`s the distinction between the investigation and the indictment. And it`s not just the indictment of Allen. It`s the indictment of his sons potential indictment of his sons as well. Both of them had involvement with the Trump Organization, Barry as an employee and Jack as part of Ladder Capital.

But it`s not again, it`s not just Weisselberg. You have Calamari, who`s basically being looked at for the exact same allegations that are being brought against Weisselberg.

MELBER: Just catching people up, you`re talking about a former bodyguard, an executive who also is, according to ""The Wall Street Journal,"" under the same scrutiny.

COHEN: That`s exactly correct when it comes to having the rent-free apartments, having the vehicles and so on, and being involved in other aspects of the Trump Organization, which the DA is seriously looking at.

So, on top of that, let`s not forget, Jeff McConney, who`s the controller, the assistant controller, works specifically for Weisselberg. He`s already been before the grand jury.


COHEN: So, you take his testimony, you take the testimony of Jen Weisselberg, of myself, of Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, of a half-a-dozen other people, you couple that with the documentary evidence, rest assured, Allen does not want to spend his golden years with his children in prison.

That, I can tell you for certain. Prison is not a fun place.



MELBER: Michael, I`m jumping in again because I want to get you on another part of your experience and expertise that most people just don`t have, which is why it`s interesting to listen to you, whether people agree with you or not.

You were a Trump lawyer for a long time. And that`s a certain kind of job for a certain kind of client. I reported out and quoted accurately some of what the Trump lawyers are saying today.

Can you give us any insight into what their public strategy is, what they might be doing with the DA, and how much of it is being quarterbacked or coached by Donald Trump himself? Because they`re opening on a very Bill Barr-ish style, which is, before we get the news or the indictments, they already have their version of why it`s not a big deal.

That can or cannot work. Any expertise you can bring us on that, as a former Trump lawyer?

COHEN: Sure.

So, I understand that, whether it`s Fischetti or Alan Futerfas, who went in to speak the DA, none of it Ari, rest assured, none of it is the decision- making by the lawyers. It`s all being orchestrated by Donald.

And everybody runs around him trying to do what it is that he wants to be done in order to appease the king. And what`s going to ultimately happen, he has no idea what he`s facing. And, yes...

MELBER: Let me press you. Let me press you.

There are folks who looked at the Mueller probe and at the beginning thought, well, Bob Mueller knows what he`s doing, Donald Trump doesn`t know this game. A lot of people got indicted. I wouldn`t call it a success for MAGA land, but he did save his own skin, as you know.

What do you say to the argument or view that Donald Trump`s back at it, and, with no disrespect to law school, he didn`t go there, but he seems to know his way around a mix of lying and lawyering?

COHEN: Yes, well, Donald Trump`s big out is the fact that there are no e- mails or there are no text messages, because he has no e-mail address and he doesn`t text message.

However, all of the documentation refers back to the boss or to him by name and so on. And, yes, it`s not it`s not a slam dunk, since you don`t have the e-mails from his e-mail address, since he doesn`t have it. But if everything and everybody all acknowledge the same thing, that everything was done at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump, including when it comes to the taxes, where I believe that he will look to throw the accountant and the accounting firm under the bus, right, they all are going to then have to come out and defend themselves, leaving Trump all by himself.

And, eventually, this is what`s going to happen as a direct result of these indictments that are going to be coming out.

MELBER: All makes sense on more than one angle, speaking to you as a witness in this very case, as someone who has provided testimony.

Michael Cohen, thanks for coming back on THE BEAT.

COHEN: Always good to see you, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

We have our shortest break, just 60 seconds. When we come back, Moderna`s co-founder is here on vaccines and the pandemic. That`s tonight.

But first: McConnell going into Reagan era talking points. Progressive lawmakers like Cori Bush are joining activists, calling on Biden to go big.


PROTESTERS: Cori! Cori! Cori! Cori! Cori!


MELBER: Congresswoman Cori Bush is here when we`re back in 60 seconds.


MELBER: In politics, Republicans are turning again to the culture wars.

We`re about six months into the Biden presidency, and they find him to be something of a Teflon opponent on many attacks. So now we`re hearing more dog whistles, Republican Senator Johnson over the weekend pushing a right- wing critique of critical race theory, and then saying this:


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): No reason for critical race theory to be taught in any school system in America. I don`t want to make this speech about me, but I just want to talk about what`s happening to our culture.

Take back our school boards, our county boards, our city council, we will take back our culture.


MELBER: This is familiar terrain for the Republican Party, this idea that the culture has somehow been taken, but by whom and what are they really getting at?

It can traffic in anti-immigration politics, like what Pat Buchanan said at the end of the 1992 Republican Convention.


PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: Block by block, my friends, we must take back are cities and take back our culture and take back our country.

God bless you and God bless America!



MELBER: That was considered a fringe at the time for many Washington Republicans. It was Buchanan who also was talking about America first.

Remember, so much of what Donald Trump has done was plagiarized.

Now, here we are, 30 years after that, Republicans completely shut out of federal power. They have not been able to summon majorities of voters in presidential elections. There are obstacles to voting. We have covered that extensively, and then these kinds of attacks.

Ron Johnson, the same senator who initially opposed the creation of Juneteenth, and then, well, he learned what people thought about that, when he tried to politic by going to celebrate at one of the first Juneteenth celebrations.


JOHNSON: I support celebrating the emancipation of slaves. I just didn`t really understand why the only way to do that is to give two million federal health care workers, at a cost $600 million a year, a day off.

But, apparently, the rest of Congress wants to do that, so I won`t stand in the way.



MELBER: I`m joined now by Congresswoman Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri.

Thanks for being here.

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): Thank you.

I`m sorry. I`m in the House right now, and so House work going on.

Thanks for having me. Great to have you.

MELBER: Is that the vote to go the bell to go vote or something else?


BUSH: Almost. Yes, almost.


MELBER: OK, well, we will keep it moving, Congresswoman.

I want to get into several things with you.

But, first, it is politics, but your response to what we`re seeing here, which is very specifically in the context of a lot of independent and Republican voters backing the Biden domestic agenda, the spending bills, this refrain to a so-called culture war?

BUSH: You know, first of all, when just listening to that rhetoric, taking back our culture, what culture? What culture is that? What culture you taking back?

Are you when I think about all of these this rhetoric about the critical race theory, first of all, it`s just a diversion. It`s a scare tactic to make people not want to because we`re doing a lot of talk, and we`re pushing hard to make sure that black lives do matter in this country, and making sure that brown lives matter in this country and trans lives and Native lives matter in this country by the evidence of life.

And but and so this is their way of trying to stop that. And since the GOP invented this fight, they can answer me this question, Ari. Do you believe that we should teach history, the history of the Middle Passage of slavery in this country? Do you believe we should teach the history of Jim Crow? Do you believe we should teach about the bombings, the race massacres, East Saint Louis, Detroit, Memphis, Rosewood, Chicago, Springfield?

Do you believe we should teach those things, or no? Is that what you`re really saying? Do you believe that we should teach how this country, the thread of this country now, the legacy of all of that is like this thread that still is alive and well today in that of mass incarceration and policing and overcriminalization?

Should we teach that? Are you saying no?

MELBER: Yes, I think those are trenchant questions, especially when we`re talking about the facts of the past, which are apparently uncomfortable for some.

I did want to get into policing, an issue I know you care a lot about. And I saw this headline, and I`m really curious about it. I like to tell viewers like when we know things that we don`t, like we have some clues about some of the earliest stories tonight.

We really can`t tell right now what`s going on with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. There`s this headline, lawmakers reach a quote "bipartisan" agreement on police reform. They call it a preliminary bipartisan agreement, after months of debate.

And, interestingly, some of the CBC leaders and others who I think have been quite credible in the issue are saying, yes, they`re going somewhere.

Do you have any insight on this? Can you tell us, would that deal include reforming police immunity in court, which has been such a sticking point? And do you think it goes far enough? What do you think of it? What do you know about it?

BUSH: So, I will say that I am not at that table. I was not at that table.


BUSH: So I don`t know what the answer to that is right now.

But I have been very clear that I wouldn`t support anything that didn`t end qualified immunity. I wouldn`t support that legislation. I also led a letter with 10 of my colleagues saying, look, we like, this is something that we need you to address. Like, this is the true concern for us.


BUSH: But we didn`t change our mind. So, hopefully...


MELBER: Can I ask you a follow-up on that?

Because I think you and I are drill on this issue, I think we`re drilling at the same point. And I want to just make sure it`s coming through.

We`re hearing again about a process where the Republicans have significantly delayed whether or not the George Floyd Act goes anywhere. Then they`re demanding concessions, like potentially stripping this police immunity reform, which you have just said is important to you. And then, at the end, my question to you, although you will notice it`s partially facetious, but, and then how many of the Republicans are going to vote for the darn thing at the end anyway?

BUSH: Right. Exactly.

I need them to stop being hypocrites. And I`m saying that because I`m sitting here, and I watch it all the time. These are the same folks that say to me, oh, she wants to defund the police, she wants to defund the police, but they`re the ones that actually defunded the police by $1.9 trillion, when 100 percent of them voted against the supplemental for Capitol Police and ATF and the Bureau of Prisons and so on.

So, that it`s totally hypocritical. But I will say this, that we cannot throw crumbs at a situation and tell people that this is your food, you ate, and expect to see everything change the way that we`re asking for it to change.

No, actually make policy decisions that save lives, that change situations. Why do we have to beg to not be murdered, to not be killed, to not be disproportionately hurt...


BUSH: ... and singled out or targeted and attacked by police in this country?

And this and all we`re asking for is the regular. We`re asking for Tuesday, Ari. Like, just let us be regular. Give us our rights in this country. That`s what we`re asking for. And we shouldn`t have to legislate to do it in 2021.


They`re telling me I`m running over on time. We got about 40 seconds.

But I didn`t want to do a policy shout-out, which is, I know you`re working on a new bill about mental health responders. Tell us about that.

BUSH: Yes, the People`s Response Act, we need everybody on it.

The People`s Response Act says that the DOJ no longer should be the ones that dictate the response to public safety. It should be health issues should be under up under Health and Human Services, so there should be a health-centered response. And this is a $10 billion bill that will put people it will put our first responders, like licensed social workers, mental health workers, doctors, nurses out into our communities to help deal with issues of mental health and substance use crises, and so much more.

MELBER: Interesting.

And it again goes to something we have covered on the sadly, on the tragic ending of these incidents sometimes, where you say, well, why did they come in with hard force? But it`s not always clear where it went wrong. Having more of that mental health work on the front end might avoid some tragedies and also provide necessary help.

So, very interesting. I wanted to get into that as well.

Congresswoman Bush, thanks for being here.

BUSH: Thank you for having me.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

When we come back: There`s a new study on how long COVID vaccines might work. We will tell you.

But first: Bill Barr says he knew Donald Trump`s 2020 election lies were well, I can`t say what he called them. And many are saying his new attack puts himself in the hot seat.

We will explain next.


MELBER: Donald Trump`s former Attorney General Bill Barr is calling B.S. on Donald Trump and making himself look worse in the process.

This is reporting from a new book, where Barr claims he always knew Trump`s election lies and talk of voter fraud and illegal ballots were, from the beginning, just well, you see it on your screen family newscast I don`t need to say the word, but you see it right there.

And yet, as with so many things that come down to Bill Barr, this is actually worse than it sounds like. Some may rejoice at a Trump person calling B.S. on Trump, but Barr is admitting his own deceit. He was lying to the American people and using his power to try to launder and justify things that he says remember, his words all along B.S.

Indeed, even after the election, he was parroting all kinds of Trump`s false claims.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think there`s a range of concerns about mail-in ballots. There are so many occasions for fraud there that cannot be policed.

One of the things I mentioned was the possibility of counterfeiting.

QUESTION: Did you have evidence to raise that specific concern?

BARR: No, it`s obvious.

FMR. REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Do you believe, as the attorney general of the United States, that mail-in voting will lead to massive voter fraud?

BARR: I think there`s a high risk that it will.

People trying to change the rules to this to this methodology, which, as a matter of logic, is very open to fraud and coercion, is reckless and dangerous. And the people are playing with fire.


MELBER: You know, I wouldn`t say this, but you know what Bill Barr would say about? That that guy`s full of it, full of B.S., because that`s what he`s saying.

So he`s owning himself. Now, he`s counting on the Internet or Twitter or some programs to rejoice in the criticism and make a big deal out of the quote, and not give you the fact-check. That`s what we want you to understand.

And this is serious stuff. After the election, in that critical run-up to the insurrection, Barr was pushing new probes into the vote without evidence, the order contradicting a longstanding DOJ practice of avoiding any steps that complicate the election results unless there`s a higher bar of clear evidence of some sort of crime to investigate.

He was spreading the false claims in public. He was pushing this inside the DOJ to launder it, to make it seem more credible than it was.

Senate Democrats calling on Barr to testify about his time as attorney general under Trump on more than one issue. And, today, Speaker Pelosi introducing a bill to create this 13-member select committee which would have full subpoena power, which means they can send people to jail if they don`t cooperate, in order to get to the full accounting, all the facts at the bottom of the January 6 insurrection.

The vote is coming Wednesday. And you know what? We don`t know yet whether Mr. Barr has further things to hide or call B.S. on from his role in the run-up to that horrific incident.

Now, as promised, when we come back, there is this big vaccine news. A lot of people say it`s good news.

Moderna`s co-founder here next.


MELBER: There`s good news, and then there`s good news about COVID, and we love to bring you that when we can.

A brand-new study shows these vaccines are likely to produce lasting immunity that can last for years. The study supports growing evidence that people with the mRNA vaccines may not need booster shots, as long as the virus and variants don`t evolve too much.

Now, there is a variant spreading rapidly. This is called Delta. It`s more contagious, and now it`s responsible for about 20 percent of the new cases in America. Sydney, Australia, has a two-week lockdown now over this outbreak. A top WHO official says there is real danger in this new variant.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far. New variants are expected and will continue to be reported.

That`s what viruses do. They evolve.


MELBER: I`m joined now by Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, and what is known in science as a boss, if you`re familiar with the term in the culture.

Thanks for coming back.

NOUBAR AFEYAN, CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, MODERNA: Great to be back, Ari. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: What does it mean when studies show the vaccines can last years?

AFEYAN: I think that we`re accumulating evidence, working with a number of partners to really see how the immune system can sustain its ability to evolve its own B-cell repertoire and continue to protect us.

And the study that was just reported is one additional piece of evidence that, in fact, we may have durable immunity. It`s too early to say that that`s the final answer. But, certainly, we need to stay vigilant, but continue to gather data, so we can make better decisions based on facts.


Now, take a listen to Dr. Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19.

Good news, our vaccines are effective against the Delta variant.


MELBER: Number one, do you agree? Number two, why is the vaccine, the main ones like yours, effective?

AFEYAN: Well, the data so far suggests that that`s the case. Certainly, we`re continuing to study not only the Delta variant, but any and all variants that appear.

We, in fact, even think ahead as to what variants may appear based on the trajectory of evolution that we`re seeing, to try to see whether even variants we haven`t yet seen could be counteracted.

The reason the mRNA vaccines, I think, are being effective so far is because they mount a very robust immune response, perhaps more than we would have minimally needed to be able to tackle the original strain of the virus that started spreading.

And when we and others thought about designing these vaccines and dosing them, we had that in mind, in that we didn`t want to just get away with just adequate protection, knowing that variants will come along and they will make the protection somewhat more challenged.

And that`s, in fact, what we`re seeing. And, fortunately, we have enough headroom to be able to handle it so far.

MELBER: We have talked here on this program, and others who cover it, about your results, about your success. I think it`s quite clear.

You`re also on this "Forbes" list here I want to share with viewers. They looked at 40 billionaires who got rich, they say, fighting COVID-19, and they estimate your net worth is over $2 billion.

Do you think it`s possible that you have too much money?

AFEYAN: Well, look, I think that the kind of discussions around the value that`s being created is one discussion.

What we focus on is impact. And I can tell you that, as a company, Moderna, and those of us who were involved in founding the company are working hard on making sure that we can have the maximum impact possible, not just with this vaccine, but all the various vaccines we`re developing, not just for this disease, but also the flu coming up over the next year, and several other vaccines. There`s about 10 of them we`re developing.

And so I`d say our focus is on having impact. And we`re happy to see the impact. And we look forward to a lot more with this platform that we think is going to be very, very important for the future of public health and also therapeutic.

MELBER: But is there something wrong in capitalism or regulation when individuals have this much money? Or do you not think that`s the right way to look at it?

AFEYAN: Look, I think, in the case of many who have been rewarded by the for the product of their innovation, the question is, what does one do with those resources?

And it`s, how do you direct them to actually create to have social impact and through philanthropy, which I and many others are actively engaged in? And I think the resources that can go to that will have even more benefit. And that`s the way I look at it.

MELBER: Understood.

I really appreciate you joining us and covering more than one topic. And, again, you talk about impact. I think we have seen it. There`s tremendous impact here. And after such tough times, so much of it has been positive, the good news on the resilience of the vaccine`s efficacy as well.

I hope you will come back. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

AFEYAN: Ari, thanks for having me again.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

When we come back, I want to talk about what Maya Wiley and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" have in common with some behind-the-scenes footage we`re going to share with you for the first time.


AFEYAN: I want to tell you, we always try to bring you our best reporting and experts during this hour of television we do, which means our colleagues and journalists, experts, artists, sometimes friends of the show you have come to know.

But then we also get some other ideas from guests or other special conversations that we think our, we hope, great, but they don`t always fit into the live broadcast.

So, right now, I want to share some of that with you to give you some sense of what we`re doing with THE BEAT online.


MELBER: Oh, my God, what time is it?

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": It`s time to do the interview, Ari. Put your phone is a moment. Come on, buddy.

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s a moment. It`s a mood. It`s a vibe.

KATYAL: It`s part of the Trump M.O.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s a desperate man.

MELBER: Michael and Ari. It`s like "Roger & Me."

JEFF GARLIN, ACTOR: Dig this. You ready?

MELBER: What do you got?

GARLIN: I`m the Emmys? I`m waiting to hear if "Curb" wins or not.

MAYA WILEY (D), New York MAYORAL CANDIDATE: What we need most is not ideology. It`s evidence.


Dr. RUTH WESTHEIMER, SEX THERAPIST: When are you going to call me?

MELBER: This week.





MELBER: OK, shout-out to Dr. Ruth and Maya Wiley and Jeff Garlin from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and everybody else in there.

Now, why am I telling you about this at the end of the hour? Well, this is something we try to do where, yes, it`s a TV show, but everything`s evolving. And there`s a lot of cool stuff we`re doing digitally.

I just showed you some of those videos you saw that looked sort of goofy or spontaneous. That`s because they`re sometimes live on the Internet. So, they don`t have all of the TV magic, but we think they`re worthwhile. Some of them were, for example, Instagram Lives.

So, let me tell you how to connect with THE BEAT online to see some of all of that, if you never have. You can always find us on social media. That`s on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter @AriMelber or @THEBEATWITHARI.

You can follow one or both of those accounts on any social media you use. People have different ones they like, @AriMelber or @THEBEATWITHARI, and you might catch that kind of thing, like me talking to Maya Wiley in a way that goes deeper longer than what we`re doing on the show.

You will also see on there you can subscribe to my newsletter at, where we have highlights of stuff from THE BEAT and other ways to connect. You can subscribe for free at right now. I`m also going to be doing updates there about the Trump Org case, just as we`re doing it here.

So, that`s my request to you. If you want to do it, please join us.

If you don`t, well, just meet me again some time at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on THE BEAT.

That does it for us.