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

Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 7/2/21

Guests: Malcolm Gladwell, Danya Perry, Anne Wojcicki, Wolfgang Puck


Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, speaks out. Wolfgang Puck discusses his life and career. Donald Trump`s kids speak out following the indictments against the Trump Organization. The January 6 insurrection committee is previewed. Author Malcolm Gladwell discusses his new book, "The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War."



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you. Have a great holiday weekend.

Let me welcome everyone to THE BEAT.

WALLACE: You too.

MELBER: We begin tonight with Donald Trump`s kids speaking out amid this ongoing criminal probe after their company where they work, the Trump Organization, and its longtime CFO have been indicted.

It was 15 counts. The charges, as we have been running through in our coverage starting yesterday afternoon, include tax fraud, larceny, conspiracy, obstruction, and growing pressure and heat on Allen Weisselberg, the moneyman, to talk, to flip.

Now, there are many ways to count this up. And there are debates over how typical this kind of set of charges is. But, as a practical legal matter, he could face over a decade, potentially a decade in prison if convicted. Those are numbers that would get anyone`s attention, whether you think it`s an unusual theory of the case to go after these benefits or not.

Trump`s children are speaking out for the very first time about the indictment. Donald Trump Jr., who is executive vice president, posted a 13- minute video on Facebook discussing how the intent, he says, is to try to defend the company where he works and his family business.

And he has every right to speak out, although some of what he said may have made matters worse.


DONALD TRUMP JR., EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: My father, after almost 50 years of employment, paid for his grandkids` private school in New York City. My dad did that because he`s a good guy, takes care of his employees.


MELBER: "My dad did that because he`s a good guy."

Well, that may not be helpful. He`s linking his father, and he`s providing a kind of a public testimony. We don`t have any reason to believe he`s facing the grand jury yet, Don Jr., and admitting that it was Trump, indeed, who personally paid for Weisselberg`s kids. Now -- for his school, I should say.

Now, I just want to be clear with you. As a logical matter, there`s no defense to tax evasion that you did it to help someone. By definition, if you evade taxes, there`s extra money. Now, if you give that money to someone else or even give it to charity, for example, which no one`s claiming Trump did, that doesn`t get you out of the underlining charge, if the facts show and a jury thinks that you ducked taxes.

This is about off-the-books tax crime allegations. And, as referenced in the indictment, Don Jr. may have just decided to admit what`s already on paper or on the books, which is Donald Trump`s signature on those very checks that were used as criminal evidence in the indictment.

Another executive at the company and another family member, Eric Trump, speaking out to defend the family.


QUESTION: Are you concerned that they may send an indictment your way, your brother`s way, or your sister`s way?

ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You know what, I`m not, Eric, because guess what? We have always lived amazingly clean lives. And believe me, if they could have, they already would have, right?

I mean, that`s what they wanted. That was their end goal.


MELBER: "Amazingly clean lives."

You can think of this as the OutKast defense, so fresh and so clean. But, again, adjectives, claims, opinions about how they live or what the goals were, that`s not going to cut it in court.

If you watch this show, THE BEAT, you know that we cover these cases fairly and accurately. I have said before and we will say throughout covering this trial that there may be exculpatory evidence for Mr. Weisselberg. He may beat the case. But he won`t beat it by saying that he`s so fresh and so clean.

As for what else is going on in the case, we know the New York attorney general reinforced that it`s a -- quote -- "ongoing case." We don`t know the entire impact on Trump Org of the pending indictment. They will get their day in court. Big loans do sometimes come with clauses that say the lender can demand immediate repayment if a borrower is indicted.

We don`t have any reporting tonight that suggests those kinds of repercussions have hit this company yet.

Let`s get right into it with our experts, former RNC Chair Michael Steele and former SDNY prosecutor Danya Perry.

Good evening to both of you.


MELBER: Are you feeling clean, Michael? Are you feeling fresh and clean?

STEELE: I feel fresh, baby. I feel fresh.


STEELE: It`s the best defense I got to offer is, I`m fresh.


MELBER: Fresh.

I mean, look, Michael, this is what I will ask you. On the -- I`m having a little fun with it. Obviously, I have covered the serious part seriously.

But, in politics and in rhetoric, you can say whatever you want. You can run your bio campaign ads about whatever you want, and your supporters will probably give you the benefit of the doubt on certain things.

Is it going to work the same way in court, though, to say this was all about Donald Trump`s charity and his being nice to employees and that`s all it was about?

STEELE: No. No. The law doesn`t give a damn about your charitable inclinations.

What it cares about, particularly in the tax space, as the good counsel who`s with us knows, is whether or not you`re in violation of the law. So, I may -- as you rightly laid out, I may have the best intent in the world. Here`s $100,000 to educate your child. Guess what? The IRS says, that`s awfully nice of you, but, ma`am, that is income to you. And, sir, you have to account for that on your books for the company.

And so if you don`t do either of those two things, guess what? You`re in violation. So you can be amazingly clean in your mind, but your hands and your actions are still dirty. And that`s the problem.

And here`s the second problem. The boys need to shut the hell up, because all they`re doing is offering prosecutors evidence that they`re going to replay at the trial. So, it just -- it`s just -- it`s amazing to me that they still believe in this Trump magical kingdom that, if we say it, it is so, and if we say it enough, then enough people are going to believe it to make it so.

But that`s not how the IRS and the government looks at these things when they come at you. And so I just find it all rather amusing that amazingly clean will be the order of the day, until the IRS tells you, guess what? You`re going to jail.

MELBER: Yes, that all makes sense and is laid out.

And, Danya, I want to play a little bit more of Eric Trump, who Michael pointed out might want to talk less, to quote Hamilton. Here he was.


E. TRUMP: They have an entire district attorney office and attorney general`s office that`s focused on $3.5 million to take down a political opponent? I mean, this is what they do. This is New York state for you. This is worse than a banana republic. It`s truly horrible.


MELBER: Danya, let`s take that seriously. Let`s explore, if someone does the thought experiment in a local red district or state against a prominent Democrat on a case that was initially described as potentially big and involving said Democrat, but ends up hitting the people around them, and is numerically smaller.

I have covered why the charges are real. And I don`t think 1.7 mil in tax evasion is something most Americans just think is a rounding error. Having said that, this is a different point, a different allegation about a political DA office. Your view in response to that?

DANYA PERRY, FORMER SDNY PROSECUTOR: Yes, I mean, first of all, I just want to go back and agree with Michael that people should be talking last.

Right now, they are potentially, much like Weisselberg, ministerial -- agents of the company. And this is a criminal case. And those statements could be attributed to them. So they should be watching what they`re saying.

They also don`t appear to be legal experts or tax experts, and their comments are inaccurate on many levels. I don`t think they will have jury appeal, and they certainly don`t have any legal value.

The DA is office has been looking at this for years, as we know. They just brought the first case. We don`t know if this is the last case. It is not a penny-ante case. These are serious -- I mean, every felony charge is a serious one. But this one charges a pervasive, years-long, broad scheme on behalf of an organization that appears to be a modus operandi for the company.

And, right now, the low-hanging fruit at least have been charged. We have got Weisselberg. And, clearly, there are going to be others. So, I don`t think it`s time for the Trump sons to be taking any sort of victory lap that Trump has not been charged or anyone else, and nor should they be saying, if they could have charged them, they would have charged them, as one of them just did, because this is the first round, and it`s not the last.

And this happens all the time. There`s a lot of talk about this, well, this is all they charged. A, it`s not a small offense, and, B, it`s just the first offense. And so I think they should be silently watching and waiting and lawyering up.

MELBER: Fair points.

And then, Michael, we didn`t have like an open surveillance camera on Donald Trump when the news broke. But we had kind of, by happenstance, an audio readout, a kind of a live blogging, to use a technology he`s familiar with, because he dabbled in it. As you know, he is an ex-blogger now. And that`s OK.

STEELE: Right.

MELBER: That`s OK.

But it was kind of an audio live blog with an ABC News reporter who happened to be on the phone with him conducting a different interview. And so we have kind of an interesting readout of that. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just spoke to former President Trump, who`s reacting to this in real time.

He called the charges a disgrace,and it`s a continuation of the witch-hunt that`s been going on for some time, repeatedly said, it`s a shame. He actually paused for a moment while we were on the phone, Terry, looked up at cable news coverage and said to me: "John, I can`t believe it. It`s a disgrace, a disgrace. He`s a tremendous person."

And then he went on to say about Weisselberg -- this is former President Trump, Terry -- he says: "They are pressuring him, setting him up. They want him to lie against Trump."

I then asked the former president, does he think that`s going to happen?

And, Terry, his response was no.


MELBER: A fact-check and then a question.

The prosecutors are not demanding he lie. Indeed, prosecutors could be disbarred or worse for that. What they`re asking Weisselberg to do is go under oath and tell the truth. And if that cooperation or truth, by the way, does not result in other charges, that`s OK.

STEELE: Right.

MELBER: They have the evidence. They just want to get his cooperation, which he`s resisting, which is why there have been the references to gangs and mobs and other places, because most Americans, when called upon in this situation, even if they get a lawyer and double-check, they`re willing to provide accurate testimony about...



MELBER: ... at work or wherever. So, fact-check there, then your response to just the overall reaction there, what we`re going to get from this person who may or may not run for office again.

STEELE: So, the first part of what Trump said is the typical Trump drivel about witch-hunts and outraged indignation, et cetera, et cetera. So, we dismiss that. At least, I dismiss that.

What I pay attention to was the last thing he said. When asked, will Weisselberg basically flip on him, and his response was no. And I think everybody needs to take that with a pound of understanding, because Weisselberg knows how his bread has been buttered for 50 years.

This man has put his kids through school, paid him exceedingly well. He has done things for Trump and Trump has done things for him. There`s a different symbiosis with this relationship than the one we saw with Michael Cohen and some others.

This is -- this goes to the money. This is the guy who was in the room when the money decisions are being made. I do not have a sense -- again, I`m here in Washington. I`m not in New York. I`m following, covering this like everybody else. But my sense is, Weisselberg is prepared to go to jail.

And what -- and Trump knows that. And Weisselberg is prepared to repay that largess from Trump over these many years by taking this particular federal bullet, if you will. So I think everyone needs to kind of settle themselves down and think, oh, yippee ki yay, we got we Trump.

No, baby, you ain`t got him, because the guy you think is going to hand him over is not Brutus. He`s not Judas. He`s Weisselberg. And that`s Trump`s guy. And I don`t think, at least my impression from how I`m reading this, that he`s prepared to do Trump harm at this point.

MELBER: It`s a sobering analysis. Many people would be concerned about the implications, but it`s why we draw on our experts, especially now that this is all kind of absorbed for a day.

Hearing from you, Michael and Danya, has added to our understanding on a big show going into a holiday weekend. So I thank you for your time in joining us.

I want to tell you everyone what else we have coming up, because it`s a lot of special stuff.

First, a preview of this January 6 committee, Speaker Pelosi scoring a big win there.

Also special tonight, the very famous and very thoughtful Malcolm Gladwell is back. We`re going to get into it.

And, as if that wasn`t enough, our friend, the well-known chef Wolfgang Puck is here live. We`re talking food, restaurants, what it`s like to get back out there.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Turning to the breakthrough in Washington, eight House members will formally investigate the MAGA insurrection.

Speaker Pelosi won this battle. She announced a January 6 committee . Republican Congresswoman Cheney, who lost her leadership posts over these related issues and confronting Trump`s lies, will be on the committee. She joins seven Democrats.

Here`s Intelligence Chair Schiff on MSNBC this morning.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I do welcome Liz Cheney`s presence, as well as any Republican that`s serious about their constitutional duty and wants to get to the bottom of what happened on the 6th.


MELBER: Meanwhile, the top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, opposing any probe, now clashing with Cheney because she defied his warnings about anyone in the caucus joining the group.

Now, she says, for her part, she is honored to serve, adding: "What happened on January 6 can never happen again. Those who are responsible for the attack need to be held accountable."

And this is not just an exercise in assembling information or going over these very disturbing videos or other things that have emerged. This will be a subpoena-backed operation. So, just like federal investigators or other investigations you have heard us cover, this committee, with subpoena power, can get new materials, new information, and follow other leads, apart from what is only allowed under the criminal standard by those pending DOJ probes.

For more context, I`m joined by "The New York Times" Michelle Goldberg, also an MSNBC analyst.

Hi, Michelle.


MELBER: We will put the members back up on the screen here. We had them up briefly. Folks are familiar with this type of thing from select committees in the past or from impeachment. You have got people who know what they`re doing, Lofgren, very skilled investigating and prosecutor, and Schiff, both part of the impeachment teams, Raskin, I think many people familiar with these kinds of issues.

Cheney, of course, stands out for the reasons we have mentioned.

What do you see substantively here in what this subpoena-backed group can do?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think we saw in both of the impeachments how impeccably Adam Schiff and Jamie Raskin in particular were at building a case and sort of building a narrative and using multimedia to explain something very complicated.

In this case, what happened is not necessarily that complicated. What`s going to be complicated is the legal process of getting people like Kevin McCarthy to testify, of subpoenaing possibly Donald Trump, right, of sort of getting at the responsibility of people at the highest level of Republican politics, which is why it is not at all surprising that people at the highest level of Republican politics want to sabotage this commission in any way they can.

MELBER: Yes, you said sabotage. McCarthy fighting it tooth and nail and then, allegedly, reportedly, trying to use or, some allege, abuse his powers to intimidate people out of being on what is a lawful House select investigative committee.

Take a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I`m not making any threats about committee assignments.

But, as you know how Congress works, if a person is Republican, they get their committee assignments from the Republican Conference. For somebody to accept committee assignments from Speaker Pelosi, that`s unprecedented.

I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi. It would seem to me, since I didn`t hear from her, maybe she`s closer to her than us. I don`t know.


MELBER: He doesn`t know.

I mean, this kind of theater is particularly silly or risible given the public falling out they just had where they purged her. I`m curious what you make of this.

GOLDBERG: Well, there was some reporting in the newsletter Punchbowl News that he`s thinking of appointing various sort of well-known trolls, Jim Jordan, Elise Slotkin (sic), people who`ve been completely down for the MAGA narrative, who challenged the legitimacy of Biden`s election.

So it`s not clear that they`re actually going to boycott this committee. But I actually think Democrats should be hoping that he makes good on his threat, right? Obviously, they want to delegitimize it and make it seem as if it`s a purely partisan endeavor.

But I think the only people who are really going to care about that are people who are already convinced that it`s illegitimate. Most people are going to be more interested in what they find than in who the senators that make up this committee are.

So I think that Democrats -- it will be a great thing for Democrats if they are not interrupted by kind of idiotic digressions by Jim Jordan or attempts to blame this on Antifa or make it about the problems with the Capitol Police.

And I think we should remember that this is going to be -- this is going to be a years-long process. And even if people don`t sort of tune in every step of the way, we never know what something -- what can come out of something like this, right?

Like, a lot of people wrote off the Benghazi hearings. The Benghazi hearings were, in fact, often a ridiculous farce. But I think you could make a pretty good argument that, without the Benghazi hearings, which unearthed Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server, the entire catastrophe of Donald Trump`s presidency would have never happened.

MELBER: But you know what I have to say to that on this holiday Friday, Michelle?


GOLDBERG: What is that?

MELBER: But her e-mails.


MELBER: Always good to see you.

GOLDBERG: You too.

MELBER: Have a great -- yes, have a great holiday weekend.

We have our shortest break right now. It`s just 60 seconds.

Malcolm Gladwell is here when we come back. Stay with us.


MELBER: We turn to someone with some of the answers to the big questions.

I`m joined by "The New York Times" bestselling author of "The Tipping Point," "Blink," "Outliers," and host of the podcast "Revisionist History," Malcolm Gladwell.

You probably know the name. And his new book, out now, is "The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War."

Here on THE BEAT, we like it when you have new books out, for the editorially selfish reasons that it means you stop by.

Good to see you again, sir.


MELBER: There`s a lot in here, and we will get to it.

I wanted to start more on the news, because, even before many Americans tuned in over the past year to just how deep and pervasive structural racism issues are in policing, you study that. You have written a lot about it.

Walk us through why you looked at that then and what you found, particularly some of your work about unconscious bias, talking with strangers, the way our minds work.

GLADWELL: Yes, I first wrote about police shootings in my second book, "Blink."

If you remember the case of Amadou Diallo, who was a young African immigrant who was shot 41 times by NYPD officers as he was reaching for his wallet to show them his I.D., I think that the simplest way to explain my - - what draws me to the subject is, it is enormously complicated.

And I think we have to have an appreciation of how difficult police work is. And I think, if we start from that premise that it`s really hard to do well, that really does inform the kind of discussion that we have about how to make it better.

MELBER: What is the import of people understanding the way their own minds may work and how -- in some of the studies, you refer to it, unhooks some of the moral judgments, although I think moral judgments apply to some of this, but you look at unhooking from that and saying, wow, you might have a mental error. That doesn`t mean you`re a -- quote, unquote -- "bad person."

GLADWELL: Yes, I think that, in instances that I was talking about, in my last book, "Talking to Strangers," second-to-last book, "Talking to Strangers," before "The Bomber Mafia," I was focused on this the case of Sandra Bland, one of that sequence of high-profile cases from a couple of years ago.

And it was -- it was one of those rare cases where we have the videotape of the -- or the audiotape of their entire encounter. So we can actually break down what happened with absolute precision.

And what it is, is an extraordinarily complex, slow unfolding exercise in misunderstanding on the part of the police officer. He keeps jumping to unwarranted conclusions. He keeps misreading the signals that Sandra Bland is sending. And he keeps acting in ways that are unwarranted. He keeps rushing forward when he should be holding back and withholding judgment.

And it`s a -- when you look at that you -- first of all, as you say, you have a renewed appreciation for the complexity of police work, but you also understand, like, man, this guy was a kid. He didn`t have -- he wasn`t well-trained enough. He wasn`t experienced enough. He was just kind of thrown out there.

And it goes to my feeling in this country is that we have not taken the task of policing seriously enough. We don`t understand that it is a profession that is demanding as being a medical doctor or a lawyer, and we need to train people the same way we train them for those professions.

MELBER: I mentioned your podcast "Revisionist History."

A lot of people feel like we`re living through political attempts to revise history in real time. Viewers know about how some in, for example, the Republican Party have been lying about what happened in their own workplace of Congress on January 6.

What are your thoughts about all of that? And are there any solutions?

GLADWELL: Well, I think about the role of time.

I wonder whether it`s we`re in too much of a hurry to pass judgment on the people who continue to lie about what happened on January 6.

There`s a -- there are many different ways and many different forms that denial takes. One of it is that: I honestly don`t believe anything went wrong there.

Another form is: I do believe, but I`m not ready to admit it yet.

A lot of what looks like a kind of malignant denial in the Republican Party right now is probably just people who just aren`t ready to come clean and renounce a lot of what they were saying for the previous four years.

I say, give them time.

MELBER: The book is "The Bomber Mafia." Tell us about it.

GLADWELL: It is this extraordinary story that I stumbled across that has been written about in academic texts, but never really for the -- for a popular audience before, about a group of pilots in Alabama in the 1930s who wanted to reinvent warfare, who thought that, with the benefit of new technologies, they could render all forms of war-making obsolete, except for bombing.

My book is a story about what happens when their ideals met the realities of warfare first over Europe and then, more heartbreakingly, over Japan in 1945.

We did this on an audiobook that has all of the voices and brings to life all of these -- the battles that were fought in the Second World War. And so, yes, I`m as proud of this as any book I have ever done.


Well, and that`s saying something, because I think people know about your books, many of them global bestsellers. So, the fact that you`re so passionate about it, over what might sound like a seemingly arcane element of that important period of history, is really fascinating.

Some people are slow, but, paradoxically, Malcolm, you`re quite fast. Do you know what I mean?

GLADWELL: I don`t know what you`re referring to, whether you`re referring to my writing speed or my running speed.

MELBER: Well, I`m thinking specifically of your running.


MELBER: This is something that super fans of yours know about, that you have written about. And you had recently ran a race where you were quite a bit faster than some of the younger, also able runners.

Let`s take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to say, I don`t know about Malcolm`s socks. I`m out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you`re 57, you might need compression socks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Malcolm is just sitting on Chris just a few meters back. He`s able to see his every single move. Malcolm is pulling away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gladwell has opened up a gap on Chavez. Age defeats beauty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Malcolm is the one to take it in 5:15.



MELBER: I don`t know that this will be the most significant question I have for you tonight.

But, at a time where all of us have struggled in quarantine, put on even some pounds here and there, let`s go "Us Weekly," baby. What are you doing to stay so fit?

GLADWELL: Well, I took the opportunity of COVID to do a lot of running.

I got myself even a coach, which I haven`t had in 40 years. And I returned to racing, and with -- as you have just seen, with some quite encouraging results. And so, yes, I made -- I made good use of the downtime of the last 18 months.

MELBER: Yes, well, that`s great. We -- that caught our eye. And it also busts one more stereotype, that bookworms can`t be athletic, vice versa, and everyone in between.

So, Malcolm Gladwell, great to have you back on THE BEAT again.

Hope everyone goes and checks out "The Bomber Mafia." It`s out now.

And from bookworms to cookbooks. Wolfgang Puck, one of the most famous restauranteurs and chefs in the world, is here next.


MELBER: Everyone`s gearing up for the holiday weekend. And many more people will be able to do something they haven`t done over the past year, go out to dinner.

Hiring at restaurants and bars is driving a jobs surge, as many people are returning to a safe version of semi-normal.

Our next guest is the perfect person to talk about it. Wolfgang Puck is one of the most famous chefs and restauranteurs in the world. He actually has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Eat your heart out, other chefs. That`s a -- that`s an eating pun.

He`s also the subject of a new documentary, "Wolfgang."


WOLFGANG PUCK, CHEF AND RESTAURANTEUR: At my age now, I probably should say, Wolfgang, slow down and take it easy. But it`s quite the opposite.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s serving this very simple food that`s incredibly flavorful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Choice one, two, and three was Spago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The age of the celebrity chef had begun.

PUCK: It was a huge success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wolfgang doesn`t have an endgame. Maybe that`s why he`s still at it.


MELBER: The chef Wolfgang Puck is here.

Welcome. And they`re starting to give you the Oprah treatment. It`s just Wolfgang now, sir.


PUCK: Thank you so much, because is too complicated. And it might be misspelled. So, Wolfgang is enough.

MELBER: Yes, what can you do?

Well, look, we`re thrilled to have you. We cover a lot of different things on this program. We`re all going into the holidays, so thinking about the restaurants make sense.

But you`re also in the intersection of culture, that a good restaurant in a good community is part of the local community culture. What was it like for you going through the pandemic? Where are we headed now?

PUCK: Well, it was very difficult to close a restaurant, have so many people out of work, and so not knowing when it`s going to end. That was the most difficult thing. We couldn`t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So now it`s really exciting to be back. Most of the restaurants are doing well. Las Vegas is on fire. Spago and CUT in Las Vegas are doing better than ever before. And so does Spago in Maui and Chinois, they`re all really ramping up and doing really well.

So, we are excited. Now, actually, we have another problem. We cannot find enough staff to open fully. For example, at Spago here in Beverly Hills, I cannot open for lunch because I don`t have enough waiters and enough chefs.


PUCK: Many chefs bent to work for private people at home and get paid maybe more, but work less.


You mentioned Spago. I have gotten the chance to eat there. Spago is excellent. I only have one issue with it. Do you know what it is?

PUCK: You tell me.

MELBER: It`s very expensive.

PUCK: Oh, come on. You guys on your network are paid so much money.


PUCK: That shouldn`t be.


MELBER: Well, it is very expensive.

PUCK: Well...


MELBER: I`m frugal. I`m ride-or-die frugal.

It`s a great -- oh, the food is excellent. Go ahead. You get your rebuttal on THE BEAT.

PUCK: OK. But quality always costs money.

So, if you want to buy Mercedes or if you want to buy a Cadillac -- I drive an Escalade. It cost over $80,000, so -- but it`s a good car. It`s worth it. So I think the same thing with the quality of our restaurants.


PUCK: If you want a pizza with smoked salmon on it, we make our own smoked salmon. It cannot cost $5 a pizza. It`s expensive. So, whatever we do, we have to stay in business.

And, you know, it`s actually the cheap restaurant, like the chain restaurants, who make more money than the really upscale restaurants, because our investment is really high.

MELBER: The margins? Yes.

PUCK: Yes, the margins are very low.

So it`s really difficult. And, you know, what I`m the most proud of really is, Spago is open for 40 years, and doing better than ever.


PUCK: Now the same thing with Chinois. It`s opened 38 years.

I think longevity in anything is amazing. It`s just like a TV show. If you`re going to still be on air in 40 years from now with gray hair like me, I mean, then you can say it`s a big success.

MELBER: My last question to you is, is there anything coming out of a pandemic that was possibly good or made you think anew or changed the way you work with your team, your restaurants?

PUCK: You know, out of every problem there comes something positive. Now we are learning how to operate better, how to operate with less.

And, actually, maybe we will be able to put more to the bottom line. And I think one of the things I learned, to put some reserves away in case something happened, so we can help our employees, so we can help people who don`t have the money, be sure that all employees get the good health insurance, because this has shown, if you don`t have good insurance, if you have something happen to you, you`re in the richest country in the world, but you`re going to have problems going to the right hospital, getting the right health care.


I think that`s all sound advice. And you have provided so many experiences and memories for so many people who love what you do. And, obviously, you work and employ a lot of people, who I know you care about.

So, we loved having you on, Wolfgang. I hope you will come back. Maybe we will do a "Fallback Friday" someday with you and somebody.

And I want to tell everybody who wants to learn more...

PUCK: Yes.

MELBER: ... you can go check out "Wolfgang" on Disney+.

Thank you, sir.

PUCK: Thank you. Good to talk to you.

And, remember, I give you 50 percent next time.


MELBER: I`m not asking for a discount, although I`d probably take one.

But it would depend on the terms. Got to be transparent.


MELBER: I`d have to tell all the viewers.



MELBER: Thank you, Wolfgang.

PUCK: Thank you.

MELBER: We`re going to fit in a break.

Then we have a true innovator, the founder of 23andMe, which brings up this iconic Larry David scene from "Finding Your Roots."


LARRY DAVID, ACTOR: Are you telling me that my great-grandfather fought for the South in the Civil War? What?

Oh, you did it. You did it. I knew it. I knew it. Unbelievable.



MELBER: Unbelievable.

This is a special day on THE BEAT. Can you see? We`re going to explain all of that in-depth with an expert next.


MELBER: We all lived through this pandemic.

And for all the tragedy, this reopening does raise other opportunities to rethink how we do things, from working from home to our entire health care system.

Thinking anew is hard. It helps to listen to people who were doing it before emergencies forced our hand, which brings us to the billionaire founder and CEO of the super popular DNA and ancestry company 23andMe -- I bet you have heard of it -- Anne Wojcicki.

She had the idea to provide people directly with their own DNA to learn about their ancestry or find long-lost relatives.

Now, tonight, we turn to a new interview airing for the first time now, the tech veteran analyzing how the Internet and other media can feed misinformation about everything from politics to vaccines.


ANNE WOJCICKI, CEO, 23ANDME: Look, I think health care -- health care in many ways is the original fake news.

If you look back at the `20s, and -- like, I love reading old newspaper articles and the articles about snake oil and other areas. And, frankly, customers, people today are not taught about how to think about science and how to judge appropriately.

And I think we have done a real disservice over the years of having this white coat mentality, where you have a degree and you have a look, and it implies that only you can understand or only that white coat can understand.

And I think that this country really needs to invest in scientific education. People are still confused about vaccines and autism, when it`s been -- it`s been refuted so many times, how safe those vaccines are and that they are not associated with autism.

So, I argue mostly that we need to have scientific education, so that people know how to make decisions. And I think that we -- when I look at those numbers about vaccine hesitancy today, to me, that is illustrative of a lack of scientific knowledge and a lack of trust of the health care system.

MELBER: There is this skepticism. There`s these issues with the health care system, well-known and documented.

On the flip side, there`s something really interesting about who people trust. If you poll people on the most trustworthy sources of information they have, way above the news media or other factual sources, the top three sources people trust the most are Dr. Fauci, their pastor or faith leader, and then number one, above all, their actual personal doctor.

I`m curious what you think about that.

WOJCICKI: The fact that he`s in the top three gives me a lot of confidence in people, because, again, I do think he`s truly phenomenal.

I don`t know -- there`s parts of me that I believe your survey, but I -- there`s parts of me that kind of question that, because most people today don`t necessarily have a one-to-one relationship with their physician.

And, in some ways, I look at the fact that people don`t necessarily trust vaccines with the fact that people are saying, well, they do trust their doctors. There`s a disconnect here.


WOJCICKI: And I do think that there`s an opportunity to -- almost to start new.


MELBER: The Google veteran and 23andMe founder seems constitutionally committed to thinking anew, which also informed what was once a very controversial idea, of giving people, giving you direct information about your ancestry, your genetic history.

Here`s how she discusses some of that vision, which has proven quite popular.


WOJCICKI: Well, I have always thought about genetics very holistically.

And I think one of the beautiful aspects of genetics is that it connects us to all life on the planet, so not just our human counterparts, but all life.

Like, all of us have the exact same building blocks. And I think that, especially in this day and age, as all of the strife that we have had for the last year, and, again, just in all those emotions, like, helping people realize how much we have -- we have different life experiences, but we have the same fundamental ingredients.

MELBER: We were looking at this with all the different ways that people learn about their family tree and their roots, and I want to play a little bit from the Henry Louis Gates series, where Larry David has kind of just this unbelievable reaction to what he gets to learn.


MELBER: Take a look.


HENRY LOUIS GATES JR., HOST, "FINDING YOUR ROOTS": The plot twist so absurd, it seemed like something Larry David himself might have dreamed up.

DAVID: Are you telling me that my great-grandfather fought for the South in the Civil War? What? Are you kidding?

I hope no slaves show up on this.

GATES: Please turn the page.

Now, Larry, this is another part of the...

DAVID: Oh. Oh, you did it. You did it. I knew it. I knew it. Unbelievable.


DAVID: Name of the slave owner, Henry Bernstein.

My great-grandfather was a slave owner.



MELBER: His reaction is very "Curb."

What are people supposed to do when, as he learned in that moment, something he`d never known about his ancestors, in this case, something horrific, but that he also has that aha of learning something?

WOJCICKI: To be honest, the one thing I have learned, when we started this company, we thought, oh, wow, wouldn`t it be amazing if one day we connected a family or we reunited siblings?

And now we see it almost on a daily basis. And it`s something -- I think it`s an experience that every single one of our customers will go through. There`s something -- there`s something that -- there`s a surprise in there almost for everyone, because you don`t -- your past is -- the history that you have is not always accurate.

And I think there`s -- it`s -- there`s a lot for people to learn. And I think that what you do with that knowledge is, hopefully, it expands your mind to be more inclusive and more open-minded and strive to be better, based on all the information you have learned.

And one thing that I do love, I love the ancestry composition product that we have, when people see the genetic information and all the different parts of the world it comes from, because I find people tend to look at themselves almost in a specific silo.

And you realize that you have all kinds of connections that you did not know about. And I hope, for people, that it gives them more empathy, and humility and connectedness to all these other communities that they`re learning about.


MELBER: In this new "Summit Series" interview -- we`re just airing parts of it right now -- we tackled some other big topics.

Here are some of those final highlights.


MELBER: Are people more interested in their past or their future?

WOJCICKI: I think that people want to learn from the past and they want to have a better future.

When you ask people, who likes the health care system as is, no one has ever raised their hand. This is going to be a 20-, 30-year journey of changing your behavior and being proactive, and exercising, and thinking about how you eat.

You want to be thriving, like thrive at 100.

MELBER: Or keep it 100, as the kids say.

Would you do anything differently, or was it necessary to disrupt the whole industry, that you were going to fight with the government?

WOJCICKI: The world changes because of people.

Massive societal change is 100 percent possible, but it`s -- it comes because of you.


MELBER: Highlights from our new interview with the 23andMe founder. She`s one of most important people in tech right now.

All part of our ongoing BEAT "Summit Series" of talks with leaders at this summit of their fields.

So, you can watch the entire conversation. Just go right now to our BEAT WITH ARI Twitter page. It`s the top link. Or go right to YouTube, search Melber and 23andMe on YouTube, and you will get the whole thing. There`s a lot more in the interview than we`re able to air on TV.

And, as I have mentioned, if you guys have ideas for other leaders that we should have on in this "Summit Series" for these in-depth interviews, send them right over to me. Go on any social media site @AriMelber or go to, where you can always connect with me.

Now, one more thing. This weekend, many Americans will also not only go to restaurants, but maybe hit the movies for the first time in a while.

Lin-Manuel Miranda`s new movie, "In the Heights," is one of the options.

We recently sat down and talked with one of that film`s stars, Dascha Polanco.


DASCHA POLANCO, ACTRESS: I think it`s so important right, after the year we have had, to have a movie to come back.

It`s a celebratory film, joyous. It`s about dreams. It`s about unity. It`s about a community, inspiration. There`s so many positive, uplifting things that emotionally evoke through the screen when preparing and also as an audience.

The film is centered universally around a language we can all relate to, which is dream, the sense of belonging. We all have dreams. We all have -- we all want to belong. We all want to be empowered. We want to be proud of where we come from.

I think that`s what Lin did with "In the Heights."


MELBER: That`s one of the themes of "In the Heights," as you look at your summer plans.

Now, we`re going to fit in a break, but I am with you live for the next hour, the 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour.

And we have got a lot more, including a Trump insider speaking out for the first time here with us on those new indictments.