President Biden breaks off talks with Republicans on his infrastructure plan. The probe into the Trump Organization escalates. Is Congressman Matt Gaetz really planning to seek reelection? The Senate releases a report on the January 6 riot. A new report reveals how some of the top billionaires in the country pay little in taxes. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers an address on immigration in Mexico City.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much.
Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.
And we begin tonight with breaking news out of Washington.
President Biden has just broken off talks with Republicans on his infrastructure plan. The president had been holding these extensive talks with Republicans. It`s been publicly, of course, referred to a lot in Washington.
But now, tonight, I can report for you he`s just called their lead negotiator, Senator Capito, and told her the GOP offer fails America`s essential needs now. That`s according to the Biden White House. It also matches a new statement we just got in the newsroom from her office. It`s a big deal.
Biden had been pushing for a $2 trillion dollar plan. Republican negotiators here never got close to that. Now he`s moving on from Republican leadership, pressing forward with a bipartisan group of senators who may be open to bringing a package to the Senate floor, while many in Washington see this development right here as the final step before Democrats go it alone in the Senate on one of Joe Biden`s biggest priorities as president this year.
Let`s get right into it.
We have "The Nation"`s Joan Walsh with us and Josh Marshall, founder and editor of Talking Points Memo, one of those sites that pushes past some of the conventional wisdom, Josh, and talks about this kind of very thing.
JOSH MARSHALL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Thank you.
MELBER: And you don`t have to be a expert -- yes, man -- as does Joan, in her work, and we have had her on many times.
You don`t have to be an expert in how Washington works to have seen tonight coming, and yet it matters to people who want Joe Biden to get money out the door, as he did in his first big round. What do you see in this development, Josh?
MARSHALL: Well, I think it`s -- it was inevitable. I think it was a good thing.
It also wasn`t a bad thing that they were -- that President Biden was going through this process, even though I think this was an inevitable outcome.
I think the thing about this -- about 2021 is, we are in this strange period of political opaqueness, opacity, where the things -- the negotiations that are in public are largely for show. We -- everybody knows they are not going anywhere. And so you can`t really -- the back-and-forth about this proposal and that proposal, those are kind of an illusion.
And the things that really matter, the things you would really want to know to know where this is all going is, you would want to know the actual conversations between Joe Biden and Joe Manchin. Like, do they have an understanding here that, eventually, he`s going to -- he`s going to be there at the end of the day?
So, again, it`s that strange thing that is -- that has been characteristic of so much about 2021. Everything is opaque. The real stuff, the key issues are really out of public view and out of the ability of almost any reporters to really get a handle on them.
But this is at least a good development, inasmuch as you can only fritter away so much time with these negotiations that are not going anywhere.
MARSHALL: Capito may be legit. She may want to do something, but her caucus does not want to do something. They don`t want to spend the money.
MARSHALL: They don`t want to do anything that will help Joe Biden.
So, really, all their incentives is to not have anything happen. So, in a sense, it`s not even -- like, people say, why can`t they be more flexible? Why can`t the Republicans be more bipartisan? In a sense, it`s not even a fair question. The two sides don`t agree. Their interests are different.
So, of course they`re not going to come to any sort of agreement. So it`s some progress.
MELBER: Yes. And I would only really push you on that to put it slightly differently. Is it an unfair question, or is it simply a question that has been thoroughly answered by what`s behind any of these negotiators or legislators, which I think is the point you`re getting at, Josh.
Joan, we have the statement here. And it`s interesting, because we`re talking about a lot of money. This matters to a lot of people out there. Sometimes, these optics, these negotiations, you say, what`s it all about?
Well, people lived through 2020. I don`t have to remind everyone what this was like. We have covered the food insecurity. We have covered the struggles of hardworking people who lost jobs or gigs through no fault of their own. We all know what we`re living through.
And this is a lot of money. Now, I will say her statement does say -- quote -- "I appreciate Biden`s willingness to devote time and effort. And bipartisanship is still feasible," she says.
She sort of put out what, especially for today`s Republican Party, is kind of a warm embrace of, hey, Joe Biden meant what he meant. She doesn`t dispute his honest approach. But she said she doesn`t want to pony up and pay for it, or she doesn`t have the support to do that.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC ANALYST: She doesn`t have the support to do that. I don`t know if she wants to do that, Ari.
But what`s really tough here is that, for most of our adult lives -- and I might be older than both of you -- but infrastructure was a bipartisan thing. And, to some extent, there`s still at least rhetoric coming from the Republican side that, well, yes, we can maybe agree on roads and bridges, and we don`t like the childcare, caregiving economy stuff, we don`t like the pay-fors, we don`t like the tax increases, but we have this in our DNA that this is going to benefit West Virginia, for example, and completely red states like Kentucky.
And so I think reporters kind of go along with this. Reporters sometimes ding Biden for supposedly listening to his left too much and adding things in, like the caregiving economy. And they root for old-fashioned infrastructure back and forth.
And they -- too many people still seem to think it is a possibility or something smaller is a possibility, or old-fashioned infrastructure is a possibility. And it simply is not, because it`s not so much that they don`t ideologically agree with some of this spending. They do. And their constituents really do.
WALSH: But they are so vested in making Joe Biden fail, and their leadership is so invested in holding the line on tax cuts that the combination of those two things, nothing is going to happen.
And I`m really concerned, honestly. I`m relieved that this is over, this phase is over. But I`m still concerned that there`s -- Manchin and Romney are still talking, and Biden`s encouraging that. I guess this is the kind of Kabuki that still has to go on, because, in the end, Joe Manchin has most of the power here.
So, until he says, we can`t find a bipartisan...
MELBER: Well, and so, Joan, yes, let me ask you about that very point where you`re going, Joan, because there`s a lot of places where they used to say, oh, the big decisions are really three people in a room, right?
And you say, oh, it`s the speaker and the legislative leader and the chief executive, whether that`s a governor or a president. As you`re saying, Joan, on these big issues, it`s two Joes in a room.
MELBER: And what does Joe Manchin need around him, including public meetings, to prove that he really wanted it to go right, but then in the end, he goes with Biden, Joan?
And I think we saw that happen with the big COVID relief bill that passed early on in the administration, that he did -- he asked for a couple of concessions. He really made noises about wanting it to be bipartisan, but, in the end, he killed the minimum wage increase, but he did vote for what ultimately resulted.
And so there`s still hope, I guess, that he will do that again, once his -- once he`s done everything that he can possibly do to signal that he`s going for bipartisanship, Ari.
But I agree with Josh. I would love to see more reporting about what the two Joes are talking about, because maybe they have an understanding about what he`s going to need to actually get this done. But I`m not confident that that`s true.
MELBER: Yes. All interesting points.
I want to thank...
MARSHALL: Well, I think, if I can add one other...
MELBER: Josh, hang with me for a second, because this -- I got to do a little housekeeping.
I want to thank Joan Walsh. Josh is actually staying.
So, thank you, Joan.
We`re going to add another expert, because there`s a whole other big top story tonight, which is this Senate report on the January 6 riot. It reveals federal officials failed to warn about the extent of potential violence at the insurrection, even when clues showed Trump fans were planning to storm the Capitol with guns and a plot for all-out war.
Now, the new report is not about hindsight just being 20/20. Everyone can see how bad January 6 was afterward. This is about what was privately warned in advance, before January 6, including new details about the extent of the plotting.
Now, I want to be very clear. The reason this is the other top story tonight is, this is a brand-new report that people have been waiting on from the Senate Homeland Security and Rules Committee. The whole thing runs 127 pages in non-classified form.
There are ominous details here that were known to authorities, like Trump fans sharing detailed maps that would guide them through the Capitol itself. That gives context to how, just how so many people seemed to move so swiftly through a notoriously confusing layout.
I worked there many years ago. It`s hard to get around even when you`re there daily.
But they got right through. And they breached not only the known attraction of the House and Senate floor, but also moved through hallways, advancing on areas like the speaker`s office itself. And, remember, we learned, as more footage emerged, exactly what they wanted to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIOTER: Where the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are they?
Hey, let`s take a seat, people! Let`s take a seat!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nancy Pelosi.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark.
RIOTERS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was that day.
Today, a Capitol Police office reminding everyone whose orders many of the attackers said they were following.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: The crowd, they wouldn`t listen to anything that police were saying at all.
They continued to say: We are here because our president, President Trump, sent us here. And we won`t listen to nobody else but him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining our conversation is NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray. Josh Marshall still with us.
And, Professor, I wanted to bring you in and give this update to our viewers, because, while one big story in Washington`s what`s happening right now with the funding, the other big story is what we`re still learning and what many in the Congress have tried to prevent, which is understanding what led to this.
Your thoughts on the report?
MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, a lot of the report reminds me of the report of the 9/11 Commission.
What you have here are a number of different agencies all charged with gathering intelligence, but none of it incredibly joined up, so lots of disjointed sharing of information, not a lot of coordination.
And so there seems to be at least opportunities for improving communication-sharing among these agencies. But the real meat of this report is going to be in this bipartisan working together going forward about the appropriations to improve some of this.
There`s been a huge bill passed in the House. It`s unlikely to pass without serious reconciliation in the Senate. But that would be the appropriations to actually make some of the improvements that are recommended in this report. And that`s still to come.
And, Josh, as promised, you get the floor back for whatever else you wanted to share with us. But, on this story, I did also want to get your view on former President Obama`s view of all this, because we`re dealing with the link between lies, propaganda and violence. We`re dealing with the stress that can be put on a democratic system when you don`t have common facts.
Here`s former President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The degree to which we did not see that Republican establishment, say, hold on, time-out, that`s not acceptable, that`s not who we are, but, rather, be cowed into accepting it, and then finally culminating in January 6, where what originally was, oh, don`t worry, this isn`t going anywhere, we`re just letting Trump and others vent, and then, suddenly, you now have large portions of an elected Congress going along with the falsehood that there were problems with the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Josh, your reaction there and what else you wanted to share with us?
MARSHALL: Well, the thing that occurs to me about this report is, yes, there`s all the issues of different agencies not communicating with each other in the way that we might have hoped they would.
And there`s lots of things that we might do to change that. But kind of an overarching thing is, security agencies aren`t always good at looking inside, inside the country. They tend to be set up to be looking at groups that are already defined as enemies.
And for the last quarter-century in the United States, that`s been Islamist terrorist groups abroad. They`re not -- they are not, in most cases, designed to or in some cases allowed to look at domestic forces in the U.S.
It is particularly difficult when they are looking at the people who are, in fact, the current president`s supporters. That puts everybody in a bit of a bind.
The other thing that comes out to me about this report is, you see some valid criticism of the different security and policing agencies. You have some real questions about the leadership of the Capitol Police really seeming to -- I thought these guys were talking about -- the guys actually engaging with these protesters. I thought, when they talked about being sort of abandoned, they meant like in a metaphorical way, kind of facing this alone.
It sounds like they were literally abandoned, to a great extent.
But that is all -- the question that is the big one is, who motivated this? Who created this to happen? And that`s still -- there`s someone who kind of isn`t really paid much attention to in this report. And that actually reminds me not of the 9/11 report, but the after-action reports about weapons of mass destruction in the Iraq War.
We heard a lot about, well, the CIA made this error, and these guys made this error, and this guy lied to us. But there`s -- there`s a president, there`s a person making -- who`s doing a lot of stuff, who`s creating the pressure.
And one of the reasons we need that commission is that we need to know the big picture of what happened here, not just that one police agency didn`t give another one enough of a heads-up or something like that. We need to look at why this happened.
And I think we know why this happened. The president demanded it happen, the then-president. And that is something that, clearly, congressional committees are having a hard time quite biting that bullet.
MURRAY: Well, just a point of order.
It`s not as though we just suddenly looked around and found that there were domestic terrorists within our midst. We have been dealing with questions of domestic terrorism for as long as I can remember. And we certainly had episodes of domestic terrorism in the 1960s, with the Weather Underground and groups like that. So we do have ways of dealing with it.
But, again, to Josh`s point, the question is whether there`s political will to do so. And we have certainly cracked down on domestic groups before in our past, the Black Panthers among them. We just didn`t do it in this case.
And I think Josh`s point is exactly right. Why didn`t we do it, and who is at the center of that willful blindness?
MELBER: Yes, and I think you`re both speaking about something that we have all discussed. But, again, it`s very important that we stay on the evidence over time, and not just become somehow intellectually fatigued.
These reports add to how much should have been dealt with in advance, what was known at the time, and if racism ,individual or systemic, plays into that, because people who are supposed to protect the Capitol, the government, the elected officials, and the rest of us have the wrong ideas about who`s a threat and who`s not or are doing differential treatment, something we have reported on in this program, then that`s dangerous and has to be rooted out.
And that may be a long-term process.
I appreciate it. We have gotten more than one topic here on a big news day.
So, Melissa, Josh, thanks to both of you.
I`m going to fit in a break.
But, coming up, we have this update on Matt Gaetz. He`s been publicly saying he`s running for reelection and proud to do so. But a new report suggests that`s a lie. We will get into it.
Also, the escalating grand jury probe of the Trump Org. Barbara Res back on THE BEAT tonight.
And two men whose names have become synonymous with ice cream, as well as progressivism, are joining us live. I`m thrilled to tell you, Ben and Jerry -- you can`t have one without the other -- are here on their latest battle. It`s an interesting one and an important one.
That`s all coming up tonight on this special edition of THE BEAT.
MELBER: New reports MAGA Congressman Matt Gaetz explored retiring from Congress on the very day that the federal sex crime probe involving him first broke in the news.
This is a total contrast from his recent public posture, vowing not to resign and to run for reelection, in the wake of a probe that already convicted his longtime ally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Well, I think that there`s a lot going on in Florida. My focus is on what`s going on here in Washington.
QUESTION: Are you concerned you will be indicted?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Gaetz has also been raising running for reelection. But new report suggests this may actually be his plan B, because he approached far right TV network Newsmax for a job, Axios reporting he was rejected.
Now, the timing is especially striking, because news first broke about the sex crimes probe back on March 3. Now, when reporters are working on stories, especially really big ones, they virtually always check with the key subjects in the story before publication. You do that to get information. Sometimes, you get a comment or even a denial, and you include that in the final story.
That means that subjects have a pretty good idea when a story about them is about to break. That`s usually the case. And keep that in mind, because it was just hours before this story broke on March 30 that Gaetz began floating the idea of retiring from Congress altogether, pursuing a job at Newsmax. That`s according to three sources who spoke to Axios.
And, for someone like Gaetz, conservative media was already part of his job. He rode his antics and a constant loyalty to Trump to already basically compete with a lot of analysts at Newsmax and FOX for most appearances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe Matt Gaetz before I believe the FBI.
GAETZ: We need Newsmax in the halls of Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, I have been trying to get you on for a long time. I`m glad you`re here.
GAETZ: I`m glad that viewers on Newsmax actually get the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been on the show a bunch of times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most politicians would not do this. They may bow down. You`re not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, always good to see you. Welcome back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman Matt Gaetz, a hero during the impeachment hearings and beyond.
GAETZ: Newsmax has talk that is the truth and has breaking news. Both of those things can be very threatening to folks in Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A hero. Well, who wouldn`t want to work with a hero?
While Newsmax was evidently willing to have him on air repeatedly for programming, they say publicly that does not mean they plan to actually work with him, working together daily. And they`re not being very subtle about this rejection right now, publicly confirming -- quote -- "Newsmax has had no plans to hire Representative Gaetz."
The outlet, which often criticizes traditional news, made a point of confirming that one to the traditional news wire service Reuters.
Now, Gaetz has not been charged with a crime. And Newsmax, as you just saw, has often been taking his side in public. They just apparently don`t want to be on his side at work in the days to come.
Newsmax clearly following some wisdom from Dolly Parton, who said you`re known by the company you keep. You say you`re doing nothing wrong. I don`t believe you are. I`m only trying to help you, sis, before you go too far.
And, as Dolly`s refrain goes in that song, and as Newsmax might be trying to toe the line with Mr. Gaetz, she also said -- quote -- "I`m not accusing you of anything, but you`re known by the company you keep."
And that brings us to a contemporary version of the same classic warning, A$AP Rocky telling everyone, bad company, bad company is bad for your company.
And Newsmax is a company, a corporation that apparently doesn`t want company, in the terms of this employee, like Matt Gaetz.
Now, an investigation can sharpen the mind on all of these points on the company you keep. Just ask the Trump Organization right now, as its executives face their own grand jury probe, which brings us to a special guest and another interesting witness in all this.
Barbara Res back on THE BEAT in 60 seconds.
MELBER: The Trump Organization is now facing its greatest legal and financial test of its entire corporate lifetime with this grand jury probe.
And we`re joined by a former Trump Organization executive vice president, Barbara Res. She also wrote the book "Tower of Lies: What My Eighteen Years of Working With Donald Trump Reveals About Him."
Thanks for being here.
BARBARA RES, FORMER TRUMP ORGANIZATION EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: My pleasure.
MELBER: Barbara, I want to pick up on a point that applies to the last story with Mr. Gaetz and the story of the Trump Organization. Dolly Parton and others have discussed the company you keep.
What does it mean for Donald Trump that the company has kept the longest, people like Weisselberg and his direct report, now may determine the future of the company in court?
RES: Well, typically, he always relied on those people to be loyal to the death, and they have said it. I mean, Cohen said it. Calamari said it.
And I think that the way that Weisselberg has been conducting himself, it appeared that way, that he would stay loyal to Trump. But now I think the pressure is on. And bringing in McConney is very interesting, because I don`t think McConney can give you anything on Trump. I think McConney can give you a lot on Weisselberg.
MELBER: So, you see what they`re doing to the moneyman, Weisselberg, to Trump is also what they`re doing from McConney to Weisselberg?
RES: That`s what I see, yes.
Now, I don`t know what they have...
MELBER: Let`s look at -- go ahead.
RES: No, no, I was going to say I don`t know what they have on McConney. In his position, I don`t know that he is a participant in any illegal activity.
But it`s so close, that you get a call from the DA`s office or the prosecutor`s office, you know what they can do. And it`s got to be scary. It`s got to be scary for him. So, he`s going to talk.
MELBER: Yes, and I think you make the interesting point.
The lower you go down the chain in financial improprieties, which are what`s under investigation, the more you may find that people don`t know enough to have the requisite mental intent to break the law.
For example, we have had experts walk us through on this program how, if one person thinks they`re putting in what they we`re told were real tax numbers over here, and someone way over there is putting in very different numbers for a different purpose, if those two people don`t talk or meet, they`re on different floors, if they`re not incentivized to learn the real truth, they may not be as easily indictable as someone at the top, a founder or CFO, who actually knows both numbers.
Because you know Allen, take a look at him here when he was caught, one of the first times we have ever -- he`s ever been caught by news cameras, yesterday. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN WEISSELBERG, CFO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I have no comment.
QUESTION: Do you feel pressure from Mr. Trump?
WEISSELBERG: I have no comment. Sir, I have no comment. Going to go pick up my grandchild from school right now. I have no comment.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You know him. Does he look about the same or any different, or too hard to tell in such a brief clip?
RES: He`s a lot older.
I don`t think that he...
MELBER: Aren`t we all, Barbara?
RES: I don`t think that he was...
RES: I don`t know, the roughness that he appeared there.
He was much more of a gentle kind of person. Talking, "No comment, no comment," I think he picked that up along the way.
MELBER: And here`s Michael Cohen, another witness who`s cooperating with this grand jury probe. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: Everybody lied for Donald. It wasn`t just me. It was the entire company. It was Don Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Jared, Allen, you name it, the lawyers.
Everybody in the company lied for Donald, because that`s just the way the company operated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Multipart question to close us out, Barbara.
Is that true, in your experience? Did that include lying where it can be illegal? There`s some lying that goes on in real estate, like it or not, but lying to the government regulators is different.
And, third, did you ever feel that pressure?
RES: You know, for one thing, sometimes, people lie and they don`t know they are lying. They know that they`re dealing with Trump. And Trump says this, and they will go with that.
No, seriously, I mean, yes, because, after a while, you do -- initially, I believed him. I believed everything he said. I think that we had a little meeting of the minds, so to speak, when he asked me to sign off on something as an engineer that I didn`t know anything about. And I said no.
And I don`t think he -- I think, at that point in time, he knew that he wasn`t going to try to ask me to do anything. But I certainly do think that there are other people that would do what he said, knowing what he said was not necessarily the right thing, even borderline illegal.
Cohen clearly is one. Calamari, I think, might have been one, some of the things that he might have done for Donald. It`s speculation, but, based on my knowledge of their -- their relationship.
Jeff McConney is an interesting guy. I -- he`s a very smart guy. And I don`t think you could pull the wool over his head so much as, oh, this is fine, Jeff, this is fine, Jeff.
But, on the other hand, he dealt with Weisselberg. And Weisselberg told him what he wanted him to know. He wasn`t close to Trump.
MELBER: Yes. And that may be a gift to prosecutors and the theory of their case, if he`s not that close to Trump, but, as you said, he puts pressure on other people, he knows things, and he wants out of this whole thing.
It`s clearly escalating over there. We`re learning a lot from people who`ve been there, which we value as witnesses.
Barbara, always good to see you. Thank you.
RES: My pleasure.
MELBER: I`m going to fit in a break.
But we had that developing news to kick off the show, Biden breaking off those talks with Republicans. We have more on that with a special guest, and a new report revealing some of the top billionaires in the world may pay less taxes than you do. Is that wrong?
And before the hour ends, I promise you, we`re going to get down to the ice cream. Ben and Jerry make their BEAT debut with a new progressive cause.
Stay with us.
MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.
We have more coming up with the news out of Washington and President Biden`s change in the GOP talks.
But, right now, his vice president, Kamala Harris, is also about to speak in Mexico City. She did a tour there and was in Guatemala. The White House says the tour is all about addressing -- quote -- "root causes of the migration challenges facing the United States."
Harris also has generated some controversy or even criticism from things she`s said on the trip, because she said that part of her message, consistent with U.S. law, was telling immigrants who have not migrated down there -- quote -- "Do not come."
Now, we`re keeping an eye on what you see here. We don`t know exactly when it`ll start. But we will go and hear some of her remarks when they begin.
Now turning to that other breaking news I mentioned, Joe Biden saying enough with Republicans on infrastructure talks. The idea may be to ultimately end on a go-it-alone strategy that passed his last big spending bill.
And, of course, many progressives have been saying it`s a question of when, not if, Senator Bernie Sanders called out Joe Biden and said, look, it is time to go bold and big for the American people, and the two of them seeing eye to eye on many economic issues, or at least closer than you might remember during their campaign.
And that brings us to a very special guest who many politicos will remember. Faiz Shakir is founder of a progressive group, More Perfect Union. He also had the number one spot for the campaign who was the runner- up two cycles. He had the number one spot in 2020, Bernie Sanders, of course, running for president, and is known as a longtime progressive advocate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Faiz Shakir is the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Faiz Shakir, my friend, always great to talk to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Faiz Shakir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Faiz Shakir.
FAIZ SHAKIR, FOUNDER, MORE PERFECT UNION: Well, there are just too many guns on the streets of America right now.
Enormous health care costs are eating up people`s lives and forcing them into bankruptcy.
We have to feel the pain of people who are being hurt by an economic and political system that works for the billionaire class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Faiz, you are an important liberal.
SHAKIR: I used to be so young.
MELBER: I guess that`s...
SHAKIR: As are you. As are...
MELBER: Well, I appreciate any good vibes.
Look, it`s funny you say that, because we a different guest say that. I guess, when we -- we love to pull tape, because we think it`s interesting. Then everyone looks and goes, gosh, I used to look younger.
Thanks for coming on THE BEAT, man.
SHAKIR: Yes, sir. Thank you for having me.
MELBER: Let`s start with this breaking news, which is very interesting, given where you and Sanders and many progressives have been.
We didn`t know when we had you earlier -- when we planned to have you, that this would be the news of the day. What do you take from this and Joe Biden basically going out of his way to meet with them, but ultimately saying, if they can`t get close to the number that America needs, then enough?
SHAKIR: Well, there`s no doubt, in his heart of hearts, President Biden would love to find 10 Senate Republicans.
There just doesn`t happen to be 10 Senate Republicans who would make a deal with him. I mean, FiveThirtyEight has done this wonderful analysis of Senate Republicans with a positive Biden score. And guess who the number 10 Senate Republican is on the most favorable towards Joe Biden? It happens to be Mitch McConnell.
You think Mitch McConnell is going to agree to a deal with Joe Biden that wants to go big or go bold? No, he`s not. And so, unfortunately, he doesn`t have a partner to work with.
And I think that this the most important thing to remember, Ari, here, is time is the enemy of this agenda. Biden is offering a very popular agenda. It`s once supported by the American public.
But Mitch McConnell`s no dummy. He did this to Barack Obama. He just wants to drag it out. He knows that, by 2022, November 2022, if he can get to that point, then he`s got a shot at the House moving to Republican seats and basically stymying a Biden agenda.
So all he`s trying to do is walk him slowly into more and more and more negotiations. And Biden has to cut it off at some point and say, we got to go big. We got to act here.
MELBER: Yes, that makes sense. I think that follows what we have been hearing.
I want to ask you about something where, you know, in politics, obviously, there`s so much focus on the clash and the disagreement. We have reported on, and you mentioned, I think, areas where there`s more agreement between the current president, Biden, his former rivals, like Bernie Sanders, and a lot of other people around the country who may not even self-identify as -- quote, unquote -- "Democrat" or "liberal" or whatever, when you look at the idea that a lot of people watching this program right now are paying more taxes than billionaires.
How can that be fair? How can that be right? Shout-out to ProPublica that has this exhaustive report. We will put this up here.
You have Warren Buffett tax rate, under a point, Jeff Bezos, under 1 percent. Same. Bloomberg, who talks a lot about certain issues, and people may think of him as helping donate to guns and other things, but 1 percent. Elon Musk, popular for many things with many people, certainly a visionary, but it looks like Elon Musk, also, a total deadbeat, Faiz.
Is this fair? Is there wide agreement on doing something about it?
SHAKIR: Well, obviously, it`s morally outrageous, and, obviously, it`s one of the things that gave rise to what Bernie Sanders has been pushing for, for basically four years of his life, this wealth and income inequality that is obscene in America.
And I think the most important thing to remember here is, when you look at the low income -- low taxes that they pay, what is joined with that is incredible amount of power, political power and economic power, to run a system.
So these billionaires are not merely just like paying low taxes. They haven`t literally written a tax code for their benefit. They have defanged an IRS from going after them, because they got an army of accountants and lawyers to preserve that wealth.
And in order to get that kind of wealth, to be a billionaire, you have to corner markets. You have to basically ensure that antitrust enforcers aren`t going to come after you. You`re going to find, like Amazon has done, like Facebook has done, ways to get not just a few million dollars, but literally to corner and monopolize markets, so that you can accrue incredible wealth that most people cannot spend in a single lifetime or many lifetimes.
And that is a government problem, right? That means we need a stronger IRS. We need to have a better tax code. And you got to have stronger antitrust enforcers.
Thankfully, the good news is -- and you mentioned the kind of ideological similarities between Biden and Bernie. This is one of them, that they -- they have different styles of approaches and the ways that they would go at it, and maybe different targets, but they both want, like, to make the corporations and wealthy pay their fair share, want tough enforcers on the beat, and generally want a stronger IRS to go after these billionaires, who, quite frankly, are trying to engage in tax evasion, successfully doing so.
And I think you have made an important point that`s worth everyone fixating on, which is, when it`s happening like this, it`s about government. It`s not about the markets.
MELBER: The markets don`t historically lead to this level of inequity, if they are regulated.
So it`s not, oh, yes, oh, that`s what the market said. No, it`s actually what government did in being basically shut down by some of these groups.
SHAKIR: A wonderful small businessman can make a few million dollars, and tens millions dollars, do well for themselves.
We`re not talking about tens of millions of dollars. This is beyond. This is billions of dollars. How did that happen?
SHAKIR: Well, that was a government failure, right?
SHAKIR: That allowed you to corner markets and basically swamp out competitors and just accrue more and more wealth, and then hide that wealth, move that wealth, so that it`s tax-incentivized, and you`re accruing via the stock market gains over gains over gains that don`t taxed.
I`m only interrupting with something that may interest you. I was going to mention, in music, they have remixes. There are those who say it sometimes feels like maybe Biden is remixing some of Sanders. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): CEOs make millions and millions of dollars. But don`t ask us to pay more in taxes.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When a multinational corporation that builds a factory abroad brings it home, then sell it, they pay nothing at all.
SANDERS: If elected president of the United States, we`re going to do everything that we can to rebuild the trade union movement in this country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: I`m a union guy. I support unions. Unions built the middle class. And it`s about time they start to get a piece of the action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, here at THE BEAT, I have been really curious to get you on the record about this.
Now, during the campaign, we could never get candidate Senator Sanders on THE BEAT, for whatever reason. You were very hard to get. I always like to be transparent with the viewers. We invited you many times. Very hard to get on THE BEAT, for whatever your reasons are. Free country.
But viewers should know. Senator Sanders still...
SHAKIR: We were working. We were working, Ari. No personal slight.
MELBER: Well -- well, I`m just putting it out there.
And Senator Sanders still has an open invite.
But I was curious what you think about this development. And do you think, as someone who ran against Joe Biden, that, economically, he`s been pretty progressive in the opening here?
SHAKIR: Well, first, listen, I wouldn`t oversell it too much.
Obviously, on Medicare for all, on canceling all student debt, on college for all, there are fundamental differences, marijuana legalization. There are still ideological differences between the two. So it`s not as if they have evaporated.
But, fundamentally, I do think that Senator Sanders, with his two runs for president, has basically won a policy argument within the Democratic Party of the directional approach that we should go, fighting for the rejuvenation of a working class that -- and a Democratic identity far more deeply associated with the fight for the working class.
And it is one that I believe, ideologically, Biden agrees with. And I think, while you do see differences in Joe Biden himself places, where he may not have been 20 years ago, you see him generally with Bernie Sanders, believing that, yes, this is the path.
Bernie`s -- I think he agrees with a lot of the fights for unionization, the fight to make the wealthy pay their fair share, even increasing community college access in America.
There`s a lot of approaches -- and you`re going to see it when reconciliation plays out over the next few weeks here -- that they`re going to be allies, not finally agreeing on everything, but generally allies on making good for the hardworking people of America.
MELBER: Really interesting. And we wanted to get you on that.
Will you come back?
SHAKIR: Of course. I`m always here, Ari.
Faiz Shakir on THE BEAT. Appreciate it. And really interesting policy priorities there to get into.
I want to remind everyone we`re keeping this eye, as promised, on Vice President Harris, expected to speak in Mexico City. You see what I see. We`re going to watch that and carry it if we hear from her.
Also up ahead, the George Floyd Policing Act, it has stalled over one big issue. It`s one we have reported on. It`s one I told you is really important. How do you deal with police immunity?
Well, people with a platform and a lot of progressive work, ice cream activists and legends Ben and Jerry, they`re getting involved. They join me live next.
MELBER: Vice President Kamala Harris is about to speak now in Mexico City. She was on a tour there, as well as in Guatemala.
We`re looking at the room there in Mexico City. We have been surprised that they are about to speak. We will see when they actually come out to address reporters as part of this trip.
Now, Harris has generated some controversy on the trip by saying something that, according to some people, is seen as inconsistent with the new tone from the Biden administration, but, according to others, is U.S. law. She says her message to would-be potential immigrants down in that region is: Do not come.
Now, Vice President Harris gave an exclusive interview to NBC`s Lester Holt talking about this immigration issue. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s in the best interest not only of your neighbor, but yourself, to help them out, right? And that`s how we think about this work.
What is the United States` interest in this? We`re prepared to show up and do it in a way that is motivated by the best interests of diplomacy and democracy and goodwill. There`s not going to be a quick fix. We`re not going to see an immediate return. But we`re going to see progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s what the vice president is saying. And we will continue to monitor.
Again, I want to be as clear as possible with our audience. We have been told this would have started by now . It has not. But we will go to it when we see the vice president come out and speak.
We turn to other guests who`ve been patiently standing by on another important policy issue. And you probably know them. They`re the founders of Ben and Jerry`s, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.
Ben is also the author of "Above the Law: How Qualified Immunity Protects Violent Police."
And I hope you will both forgive me in saying that ice cream is very important, as is this issue. If foreign policy intervenes, because it`s also important, we may go down there to take that on the news.
And thanks to both you for being here.
BEN COHEN, CO-FOUNDER, BEN & JERRY`S: Good to be with you, Ari.
Thanks for your work on qualified immunity.
MELBER: Well, it`s something we -- now, look, I`m going to juggle here.
First, I got -- I just wanted everyone to know I got my Oat of This Swirled right here.
MELBER: It`s not an ad. It`s not an ad. It`s just reality, because it is empty.
B. COHEN: You cleaned it right up. You have got...
B. COHEN: ... very long tongue, man. It is totally clean.
MELBER: But I`m a longtime Ben and Jerry`s eater, for what it`s worth. Aren`t we all?
I want to get to the music labels. I want to get to all of that.
But, first, with ice cream as the dessert to this interview, starting with Ben, tell us why you`re getting involved on the other big important issue of police immunity.
B. COHEN: It`s really about justice. And it`s about power.
The power in this country is in the hands of white people.
MELBER: And now I apologize.
We have to do what I warned we might. This is an overdue press conference. But it`s starting.
Ben and Jerry will be back on THE BEAT, I promise. Let`s listen to the vice president.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
HARRIS: This trip has reinforced -- both in Guatemala and here in Mexico over the last two days, this trip has reinforced a central theme in the conversations that I have had, both with the leaders of these two countries and members of civil society and people who have so much invested in the present and in the future.
And one of the themes is that there is no question that we are entering a new era around the globe. And this new era has made it quite clear that we are interconnected and interdependent, that what affects one country affects the globe.
And, certainly, when we look at the relationships between the United States and our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, we know that to be true.
The president and I feel very strongly that what happens abroad matters to the people of the United States. We believe not only in the importance and -- to our national security, to our economic security, to our well-being that it is critical that we work on and continue to reengage with our allies around the globe, but we also understand that those relationships have an impact to us domestically.
We understand that what happens abroad matters to the United States. And that is why the president will be traveling tomorrow to Europe and why, as my first trip as vice president of the United States, I decided to come here to this region and to visit our neighbors in Mexico now mostly recently and before that in Guatemala.
On the issue of migration, as we have discussed a bit during this trip, it is a complicated issue. It is complex. There are many factors at play when we look at migration historically and currently.
It is also an issue that we must tackle, then, at every level. In the United States, we are tackling it from the perspective of not only what we must do to address the root causes of migration, which is the primary purpose for my travels over the last two days and the work that we have been doing for the last couple of months.
But we also must, of course, tackle the issues that are inherent in the situation at the border and what we must do to strengthen legal pathways for people to enter the United States.
I want to be very clear that the problem at the border in large part, if not entirely, stems from the problems in these countries. I cannot say it enough. Most people don`t want to leave home. And when they do, it is usually for one of two reasons. Either they are fleeing harm, or to stay home means that they cannot satisfy the basic needs to sustain and take care of their families.
I work with another principle, which is that we, as a government, the United States, together with our allies and our partners, such as Mexico, such as Japan and South Korea, and all of those who are internationalizing our effort, connected through the U.N., we understand.
And, through our leadership, we understand that we have the capacity to give people a sense of hope that, if they stay where they want to stay, in the town, in the neighborhood, in the place where they grew up, where they speak the language, they know the culture, they go to that church every Sunday, the place where their grandmother lives, we know that if we give them a sense of hope that help is on the way, that they will follow their first preference, which is to stay at home.
During the course of this trip, I have met people from all walks of life. I have met, of course, with President Giammattei. I met with President Lopez Obrador. I also met with members of civil society. I met with youth. I met with members of labor. I met with farmers. I met with young people who are creating things that are only imaginable in fiction, but they`re making it a reality.
And what I know, to be clear, is that, if we are to address the issues that impact the Southern border of the United States -- and I have had a conversation with President Lopez Obrador about also the southern border of Mexico -- we have to have the ability to address the root causes of why people leave.
And we have to understand. If it is a priority to us to be concerned about what is happening at our border, then it must be a priority for us to understand why people leave. And the reality is that most people, when they leave, they don`t want to leave, and most want to go back.
So, that is the spirit with which we approach these issues.
I also believe that, if you want to fix a problem, you have to go to where the problem exists. If you want to address the needs of a people, you must meet those people. You must spend time with those people, because the only way we can actually fix the problem is to understand the problem.
And that is another reason for this trip over the last couple of days and for the work that we have been doing for the last couple of months, to meet with people who range from CEOs in some of the largest corporations of the United States about what they can do to participate in a public-private partnership to create economic resources and possibilities for people in this region.
Over the last couple of months, we have convened some of the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States, who are all international in their footprint, to see how they can extend the work they do, in partnership with the United States government and the other friends we are bringing to the table.