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

Guests: Matt Schlapp, Anthony Fauci


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the current state of the pandemic. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulls his selections for the insurrection committee after Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejects two of them. Trump ally and moneyman Tom Barrack is charged with illegally acting as a foreign agent and then lying about it to the feds. Republicans continue to label the Democratic Party socialist.



Hey, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Alicia. Thank you very much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.


President Biden is in Cincinnati today, right now, preparing a speech on the economy. We will be monitoring that.

And we will also be joined by one of the most respected voices in his administration tonight. Dr. Fauci is here live, as COVID rises and new variants pose more challenges for the unvaccinated.

But we begin with our top story, a breakthrough in the congressional investigation of the horrific insurrection.

Speaker Pelosi has scored another victory here. And this matters for substance and politics. Now, the recent history is very instructive. Earlier this month was July 1. Pelosi made her selections for this important committee, some experienced investigators from within her party and the somewhat unusual move to use one of the so-called Democratic spots, Democratic spots, for a prominent very conservative Republican, Liz Cheney.

Pelosi was plowing forward with this subpoena-backed committee after Republicans opposed creating a similar commission to do a January 6 probe. Appointing Cheney looked like a symbolic embrace, since she was just ousted from Republican leadership basically over January 6 and her rebuke of Trump`s lies.

Now, Pelosi could not predict exactly how Republican leadership would respond to this new committee. But, tonight, the story is that it`s become clear she was steps ahead of them.

Now, at the announcement of those new members, she laid out how her roster ensured that the committee was already, one, sufficient for the required quorum, under the House rules, and, two, that it was bipartisan, regardless of what Republican leaders decided to do.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I am very proud to be able to announce the members of that committee this morning. So glad that it will be bipartisan from the start.


MELBER: All eyes were then on Republican Leader McCarthy, who has been trying to thwart any probe like this to begin with.

Now, this week, he named his five proposed Republican members, choosing several who were on record trying to overturn the election and oppose any probe of the insurrection. One was already out attacking this new committee that he might join, calling it a sham to justify the left`s authoritarian agenda.

He spent January 6 voting against certifying the Biden victory, like the riders wanted. And that`s not even the most strident or controversial pick. Leader McCarthy also showed his hand by letting things get out of hand.

He put one of the leaders of the big lie up to join the committee, Trump favorite Jim Jordan.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s so many weak Republicans. And we have great ones. Jim Jordan and some of these guys, they`re out there fighting. The House guys are fighting.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We should do our duty. We should object to and vote for this objection to the Arizona electors.


MELBER: Vote against Arizona electors because their citizens chose Joe Biden, and they accurately reflected that.

Now, Republican McCarthy here is picking from his caucus. Those may be, sadly, popular views. But, at this rate, why even stop at Jim Jordan? Promoting a conspiracy theorist who tried to overturn the election to probe January 6 and investigate how lies animated that day is really just a step away from trying to get the QAnon Shaman on this committee.

Let`s see what he thinks. What questions does the Shaman have for witnesses as they look into that day? Well, the so-called Shaman is unavailable. He faces criminal charges for January 6 activity and is in jail awaiting trial, so can`t be on the committee.

But McCarthy`s brazen challenge to the entire purpose of this probe, well, that`s what brings us to the big news tonight, Pelosi`S power move, because she rejected those two Republicans I just told you about, using her lawful power as speaker to bar them from serving to protect the integrity, as she put it, of the investigation.

Pelosi banning the propagandists opposed to the fact-finding purpose of the committee.

Now, in substance, this makes sense, no, Jim Jordan, no Shaman, just people looking for the facts.

There`s also politics at play. And this is exactly the kind of leadership that liberals have been demanding Democrats practice in Washington. They say, use the powers you have to confront Republican obstruction and sabotage.

And by pre-installing Cheney on this committee, Pelosi outmaneuvered the recurring GOP threat that they will blow things up if they don`t get their way, then accuse the other people in the room of failing to be bipartisan.

You watch the news, so you have seen this trick play out. There was even talk that McCarthy might respond by pulling all of his nominees. And Pelosi was essentially saying with this move, I wish you would.

And he did. Today, McCarthy pulled his remaining appointees and blasted the whole committee. And that is the clash making so many headlines tonight about this serious and important investigation, with the Republicans boycotting.


Now, McCarthy is acting like he`s somehow hurting Democrats and the committee with this move. He doesn`t have any power or play left, so that may be his best theatrical ploy.

But it is incorrect. Everybody knows Jim Jordan is the antithesis of a search for truth about the January 6 insurrection. That`s why Republicans wanted him on this probe that they oppose, to mess with it. And it`s why Pelosi kept him off the probe, to protect it. Some things are pretty clear.

For all the spin and fighting in Washington, this is a simple fact that both sides would actually agree on, if you got them to tell the truth. And that`s why Pelosi is winning on this issue tonight.

She`s also offering a lesson in balancing power and bipartisanship for any other Washington Democrats who want to learn how to do it. She`s showing some bipartisanship is possible. But, by requiring facts -- remember those? -- requiring facts as a prerequisite to this kind of political cooperation, she`s setting the tone. She`s negotiating from a position of strength.

Everyone can see she welcomed one Republican to the committee with her picks from the start, and then was welcoming in allowing three more from the Republican leaders picks.

The reason they aren`t part of this tonight -- and this matters because you may hear about this in the weeks and months ahead -- the reason those Republicans aren`t on the committee is because of their Republican leader, not anyone else, not the speaker.

So, now McCarthy takes that fall, and Pelosi is clear about her line. Elections have consequences. And when investigating an insurrection to overthrow our democracy that killed people, propagandists and conspiracy theorists need not apply.

Joining me now on this top story, we have a special guest. You may know him from being a top pollster and strategist for President Obama and an MSNBC analyst, Cornell Belcher.

Welcome, Cornell.


MELBER: Your thoughts on what the speaker has achieved here and the wider approach to bipartisanship, where she`s doing some of it with a floor, with her requirements.

BELCHER: You know, I -- Speaker Pelosi is the right leader for this time.

And I know they`re -- there`s been a lot of back-and-forth and conversations about sort of the leadership on the Democratic side. But I can`t imagine a better leader to take on the challenges that are before Congress right now than Speaker Pelosi.

Thank God she`s there, because this was a power move and this was this was a smart move. Republicans were trying to -- and you know this well, Ari. If you can`t win the argument, politics 101, muddy the waters. And that`s what Jim Jordan and cast were there to do. They were there to muddy the waters and make this a big of a circus -- make this a circus.

It is harder for them to do that now that Jim Jordan is not on it and McCarthy has pulled all of his folks back. What they`re going to try to do now is say that it`s a partisan witch-hunt, which is classic talking points for them.

But they have it -- but she`s already framed the debate by saying, it`s bipartisan, and actually putting a prominent Republican on the panel. So, I think -- I think, to a certain extent, McCarthy has overplayed his hand here, because I think she`s going to have, in the end, the best of both worlds.

She`s going to have a serious committee looking into this matter, and not a clown show for Republicans to play politics with. And also she has the ability to say, look, this is bipartisan. I actually -- we do -- actually do have Republicans on this committee, and I wanted more Republicans on this committee, but McCarthy pulled them out.

I think it`s a win-win for her.

MELBER: Yes, it looks that way.

And these hearings started next week. This is a very real thing. The 9/11 Commission ultimately worked. It shaped certain policies. It led to certain reforms, again, not on a political, ideological point, but just something that was deemed good as an investigation process, because there`s a lot more than just these individual cases.

I mentioned the so-called Shaman is in jail awaiting trial, but the DOJ will only look at the facts of his case and conduct that day, as they should. Whether there are wider reforms needed here, that`s part of what this committee will look at.

I want to also read from the powerful Rules Committee chairman in the House, who said: "Speaker Pelosi made the right decision today. This is about patriotism and upholding our oath. Domestic terrorists, spurred on by the big liars like Jim Jordan, tried to stop our democracy in its tracks that day."

A united front there and a kind of a rhetorical gut punch at Congressman Jordan. The politics of this may be that he gets a day or two to say, oh, look how much they hate me.


And we know both sides can play some of that game.

But when the hearing start next week and continue, Mr. Jordan won`t have a mic that day. He could go outside the hearing room and make noise. But it`s pretty striking that McCarthy played a 24-hour kind of press strategy here for something that`s going to go on for months.

BELCHER: And what`s even more problematic, I think, for McCarthy is, without those Republicans there to try to maneuver and block the investigation, there`s an awful lot of smoke for there not to be any fire coming from the Republican Caucus on this.

And as you -- and if you dig deep enough in here, how many of them were complacent? And how many of them were having conversations? How many of them have flip-flopped on this?

I think you`re going to have a real problem when this starts to unfold, and you see that, quite frankly, not just -- not just Marjorie Taylor Greene a problem here in the Republican Caucus, but there are a lot of people in the Republican Caucus who were not acting as patriots, but were acting as Trump loyalists.


BELCHER: And I think that`s going to be a political problem for Republican -- for the Republican House Caucus.

MELBER: You mentioned smoke, Cornell. I mean, that makes me think of 21 Savage, who said, they say they want the smoke, but they`re not ready for the fire.


MELBER: And the two do run together sometimes.

Someone who has handled all the smoke, whatever one`s views of her entire record, I think Liz Cheney has proven herself to be factually consistent on this big test, this insurrection.

Let`s take a brief listen to Congresswoman Cheney, who`s on the committee.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The American people deserve to know what happened. The people who did this must be held accountable. There must be an investigation that is nonpartisan, that is sober, that is serious, that gets to the facts, wherever they may lead.

And, at every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened, to block this investigation.

The idea that anybody would be playing politics with an attack on the United States Capitol is despicable and is disgraceful.


MELBER: Cornell, I know you don`t speak for the former president, and President Obama speaks for himself.

But I`m curious, given your work alongside him, what he might think of this, because this was something he held out hope for, that there would be honest Republicans. And that crowd may be shrinking, according to many critics, but she clearly seems on board with finding the facts.

BELCHER: Well, I think there is some hope that there are a few, but the problem is, it is shrinking.

And I think it makes us -- some of us hearken back to the -- I can`t believe I`m going to say this, Ari -- the good old days of Bush/Cheney, when you...


BELCHER: The good old days of the Grand Old Party, not the Trump party, where actually understood where Republicans stands.

And I think, unfortunately, Liz Cheney is now an outlier in the Republican Party. She`s now an outlier in her caucus.

MELBER: Right.

BELCHER: But she`s been stripped of -- she`s been stripped of power in her own caucus.

MELBER: Right.

BELCHER: And she`s going to be challenged in a Republican primary.

But it`s a little hope, but hope is dimming.

MELBER: When President Obama`s master strategist says hope is dimming, and hope was your hope and your brand, that tells you something.

But we do need sober truth here. And there are real reasons why I know you said that.

Cornell, you are our special exclusive one-on-one guest on this big development. Thank you for being here tonight.

BELCHER: Thanks for having me, brother.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Coming up, we have, as promised, our live interview with Dr. Fauci talking about the breakthrough cases, Delta, misinformation, masks, and more.

Dr. Fauci, thank you for being here.

He`s joining me after the break. I do have to say, though, his name has been popping up in all sorts of places, including our recent discussion with the icon Sharon Stone.


SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: We are so lucky to have Tony Fauci on this planet. He is a great human being, a great scientist, a great humanitarian, and he always tells the truth.

We should trust him and believe in him.




MELBER: Turning now to a special guest, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Thank you for being here, Doctor.

The context is clear, COVID cases up in all 50 states. On June 21, there were 15,000 new cases recorded in the U.S., now 62,000 new cases yesterday, 16,000 hospitalizations recorded then, now 25,000.

Doctor, we can get into many things in detail, but, simply put, so people understand, why is COVID going up right now? And is President Biden correct to say this is chiefly now an epidemic of the unvaccinated?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, the numbers are going up now, Ari, for the simple reason that we`re dealing with a very formidable virus.

The Delta variant has a characteristic that is just ripe for this type of thing. And that is, it has a great capability and effectiveness and efficiency in going from person to person. Its transmissibility is really quite competent, if you want to use that word, unfortunately for us.

So, when you`re dealing with a situation where you have half the country is not vaccinated, I mean, if you look at the total population of the country, you have a lot of vulnerable people for getting infected.

What we are seeing -- and you have got to look at the data, which is true - - that we`re seeing more what we call breakthrough infections, namely, people who are vaccinated, but who do get infected. The good news about that, if you want to call it good news, is that the overwhelming majority of those people don`t go on to get advanced disease.

They generally are either asymptomatic or have mildly symptomatic disease. The people who are really getting into trouble, both from an infectious standpoint, namely, getting infected, and then getting a serious outcome of infection, are the unvaccinated.


So, when the president says this is a situation of an outbreak and a pandemic of the unvaccinated, that`s what he does mean. Even though some vaccinated people do get infected, they generally do well. It`s the unvaccinated who really get into trouble.

And the numbers are striking. There`s one statistic...

MELBER: And, to be clear, Doctor -- Doctor, to be clear, you`re saying, though, that you agree that that`s accurate, what he is saying?

FAUCI: Yes, it is accurate, what he`s saying.

I mean, it gets a little bit more complicated, because people who are vaccinated, some of them right now, because of the exquisite capability of this particular virus to spread from human to human, that no vaccine is 100 percent effective.

So, even if you get people who are vaccinated, some of them will get infected. But, overall, if you look at the big picture of the people who are going to go -- get into trouble, those are generally the unvaccinated people.

And the one statistic, Ari, that`s really critical is that, if you look at the deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States, 99.5 percent of them are among unvaccinated people.

MELBER: Right.

FAUCI: And 0.5 percent are among vaccinated people. That`s a very striking and telling statistic.

MELBER: Yes, that`s the big picture. And you and other experts have emphasized from the jump that vaccination is a huge improvement even for people who may ultimately still end up getting vaccinated and get COVID, who are the exception, in the so-called breakthrough. And so I know you have been consistent about that.

I did want to ask you, looking in South Carolina as an example, about younger people who are getting COVID right now. The age of ICU COVID patients, for example, they write: "Last year, in a report, most patients were elderly. Now a 26-year-old man on life support getting a plasma exchange, patients in their 30s and 40s sedated on ventilators in the room next door."

What is the current risk to younger people? As you know, some younger people say, well, it doesn`t appear to them like an urgent thing because they don`t think they will get that sick if they contract it.

FAUCI: You know, they are tragically incorrect.

You could understand why they may feel that way, because, when you do the statistics, statistically, still, it is much more likely for an elderly person or a person with an underlying condition to get seriously ill when infected, no doubt about it. It`s much more likely for an elderly than a young person.

But what we are seeing right now, for two reasons, one, due to the exquisite capability of this vaccine to spread from person to person, more younger people are getting infected. And the younger people are the group that are more likely to be not vaccinated.

And that`s the reason why you`re seeing what you showed on the screen, which is tragically true. We are seeing younger people who early on were a very, very, very small minority of people who get seriously ill. Now, relatively speaking, they`re a greater proportion, only because many of the elderly people, 85 percent of people over 65 have received at least one vaccine.

So, for the most part, the elderly are more protected than the younger individuals. So, the younger individuals are vulnerable. They`re generally healthy. They generally don`t get into trouble. But they do sometimes, as you have shown correctly on that piece that you showed, they can get seriously ill.

That`s the reason why we`re essentially, Ari, pleading with younger people, don`t think you`re invulnerable. You`re dealing with a formidable virus. This Delta variant has a great capability of spreading from person to person.

If this were eight months ago, when we didn`t have the Delta variant -- now it`s 83 percent of the infections in this country are from the Delta variant. In some regions of the country, it`s over 90 percent. So, rather than dealing with a much less formidable virus, most of the time, you`re being confronted with the Delta variant, which puts you at considerable risk.

MELBER: I hope people are listening. It`s an important distinction you`re drawing.

And it really comes down to how we process information. People may hear, oh, COVID, and they`re thinking of COVID from six months ago. You`re telling people scientifically-backed facts about what the current risk is and why Delta is worse for those reasons.

As for the public health messaging and communications challenge, we all understand why people like you and leaders in the government want to stress the benefits of some of this.

On the other hand, there`s still a duty to be accurate. And some folks at the White House have been accused of downplaying these so-called breakthrough cases.


Here was White House Press Secretary Psaki. Take a look.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We know that there will be breakthrough cases. But, as this instance shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild.

The White House is prepared for breakthrough cases with regular testing. This is another reminder of the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalizations. And, of course, we wish our colleague a speedy recovery.


MELBER: Are you at all concerned about the potential downplaying of breakthrough cases, Doctor?

FAUCI: Ari, I mean, I listened carefully to what Jen said, and I don`t think she was downplaying it.

She was saying, we`re getting breakthrough cases. You have got to admit it. There are breakthrough cases, and they are likely higher than they were prior to the Delta variant. She didn`t say -- she didn`t deny that at all.

But she also said that, for the most part, thankfully, we are seeing that, when you do get a breakthrough case, you are generally protected against severe disease, because there are charts that show the breakthrough cases going up, but the hospitalizations not going up nearly at the same rate as the cases are going up.

So, we`re seeing a discrepancy between the number of cases that are going up, but the hospitalizations are not going up as much, which means that, at least, thankfully, we`re getting better protection or good protection against severe disease, not complete protection. Anybody that says it`s complete is not being honest. You still are going to get people who are going to get seriously ill.

But, relatively speaking, the protection against advanced disease is pretty good.

MELBER: OK. Understood there.

And interesting to get you fact-checking the government officials, which is a part of your job, however diplomatically you do it. It`s something we heard you do as well over the past four years, in very different circumstances.

Now, I got to say, I think I saw some of your Brooklyn come out in this big hearing yesterday. Let`s take a look at your exchange briefly with Senator Paul.


FAUCI: Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress.

Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially.

You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individual. I totally resent that.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): And it could have been. And it could have been.

FAUCI: And if anybody is lying here, Senator, it is you.


MELBER: The doctor speaks, under oath,

I have to fit in our shortest break, Doctor. Stay with me. I want to get your views on all that.

Dr. Fauci live on THE BEAT -- right after this.


MELBER: We`re back with Dr. Anthony Fauci live on THE BEAT.

We just saw your clash with Senator Paul. For those of us who`ve covered you and listened to you, a major contrast to most of your public speaking.

What was so important or concerning to you about that? And do you think if people listen to what Dr. Rand Paul, Senator Paul, is saying or what Tucker Carlson is saying, and act on it, they may be increasing their risk of getting COVID or getting hurt?

FAUCI: Yes, I mean, my response, I don`t take any great pleasure, Ari, in clashing with the senator. I have a great deal of respect for the institution of the Senate of the United States.

But he was completely out of line. He totally distorted reality. And he made some inflammatory and I believe slanderous remarks about lying under oath, which is completely nonsense.

I mean, and some of the things that he says are so distorted and out of tune with reality, I had to call him on that. I didn`t enjoy it. But I had to do that, because he was completely out of line, totally inappropriate.


MELBER: Slanderous. Interesting.

Yes, and I can understand it. I mean, these are very serious issues that people are working on.

I want to get through a bunch of things with you, so I`m going to jump right to some of what we`re learning about different vaccines. You had said, historically, the best vaccine you can get is any vaccine you can get.

There is a study here out about J&J. It is not technically peer-reviewed. I want to flag that. But it is information we`re getting. And it says the J&J vaccine -- I`m reading here -- may be less effective against Delta. Thirteen million people who`ve gotten it may need a booster. J&J says the vaccine does offer strong prediction -- protection.

Is your answer the same, or would you update it and steer away from J&J, if possible, for people, given that you just educated us about how bad Delta is?

FAUCI: Yes, well, Ari, these things get complicated. Let me try to unpack it just very briefly for you.

The article that you -- that you showed from "The New York Times," which reported on a study from New York that was looking in vitro, at the in vitro data, they weren`t looking at clinical data, and what they were saying is that, if you look at the level of a particular laboratory test, an antibody, it is lower than other vaccines, therefore assuming that it might actually be less effective clinically.

What we don`t have is the actual clinical data that match one against the other. So, J&J and...

MELBER: Can I jump in?

FAUCI: Yes, of course.

MELBER: Doctor, can I jump in?

And perish the thought of intervening with Dr. Fauci, but just to be really clear, are you basically saying that this type of study was more lab-based, and not about actual people getting sick?

FAUCI: That is actually the total -- you absolutely hit the nail on the head, Ari. That`s exactly correct.

And what we need to do is wait for the clinical data. And the clinical data are going to be important. If the clinical data reflect the laboratory data, then you have to reevaluate that.


FAUCI: But what it very well may be, and J&J claims -- and it very well may be true -- that their immune response that they induce are beyond what is measured by just the antibody titer. There`s CD4+ T-cell responses. There are other things that are being measured.

So, I`m not saying at all at the New York study is incorrect. From a laboratory standpoint, it`s a correct study. The real question is, is that reflective of what`s going on clinically? And, right now, we don`t have the data to be able to say that.

So, I have to keep a completely open mind about that.

MELBER: Understood.

And I just want to underscore that, because people are still making these decisions out there. And what you`re saying is, it is true what they found in the measurement, but that measurement may not be the whole story. And until we have real people, that we`re looking at the people impact, we don`t know.

And that`s, I think, hopefully helpful for people listening to you now or on replay on YouTube, or wherever people get to it, what Dr. Fauci telling us about the different vaccine options.

I did want to ask you about vaccine mandates. We have seen some universities and some companies start to go towards saying they are requiring people to be vaccinated to get education or to have a job.

Notwithstanding how vital it is to be vaccinated, for all the reasons we have discussed, do you have any liberty concerns about that? From a scientific perspective, isn`t it possible that we could get much higher vaccine rates that would keep everyone safe and still provide for the liberty for people for personal or religious reasons to not have this in their body?

Or where do you come down on that? Because we have got Indiana University and other places starting to say, no, you have got to be vaccinated.

FAUCI: Right.

So, the situation is as follows. It is extremely unlikely that you`re going to get a central federal mandate for vaccines. I mean, I cannot see that that`s in the cards. But what you will see is, there are going to be local mandates for colleges, for universities, for some places of employment.

When you look at a mandate...


MELBER: Is that overkill?

FAUCI: Yes, well, I don`t think it`s necessarily overkill. I think you have got to take it case by case and situation by situation.

One of the things that people should realize, Ari, is that the idea of mandating a vaccine is not something new. That is done all the time.


FAUCI: How about schools? I mean, we have been doing this for decades and decades and decades.

If you want to go to certain schools...

MELBER: May I press you, Doctor?


MELBER: Sir, I`m not saying I think this, but part of my job, what people who object to this say, as you know, is, those other mandates had much longer periods of time. You`re familiar.

And they say it feels unfair to them to demand them try something so new.

FAUCI: Well I`m not so sure. Again, you could have arguments all the time. I`m not so sure that that argument holds water.


We have a virus, Ari, that has killed 600,000 Americans since the beginning of this outbreak. This is the most devastating disease of infectious disease from a respiratory virus that we have had in 102 years.

Times change. Sometimes, you got to say, liberties aside -- and I`m not -- I`m not an anti-libertarian person, where you say you want to just take away everyone`s liberties. But, sometimes, you got to face the reality of what you`re looking at.


FAUCI: We have an outbreak...


FAUCI: ... that is ongoing now for a year-and-a-half. And it`s killed more Americans than any other infectious disease in such a very long period of time.

Sometimes, you got to do unusual...

MELBER: Well, Doctor, when you put it like that, the answer sounds a lot better than the question.


MELBER: Before I let you go, the last -- the last thing is the -- is the easiest thing on this one.

The Biden administration and you have worked with a lot of different folks to try to get the word out to anyone who has a following or an audience. People get information and learn things in all sorts of new ways, digitally.

I want to take a quick look, with a question on the other side, of how you have been doing it. Here we go.


OLIVIA RODRIGO, MUSICIAN: "If Olivia Rodrigo tells you to get vaccinated, you get vaccinated."

FAUCI: Here`s one that says: "I got my first dose of the Fauci ouchy."



FAUCI: Hey, Steph.

BRAD PITT, ACTOR: Good evening. I`m Dr. Anthony Fauci.

JENNIFER GARNER, ACTRESS: Thank you for always giving it to us straight. I know that you have saved, I mean, countless lives.

KATE MCKINNON, ACTRESS: Let`s try keep the woos to a minimum, please. As you all know, woos spread droplets.


MELBER: You`re in the pop culture, whether you like it or not.

My question is easy. Of all of the artists and athletes and others you have teamed up with, who has been your favorite?

FAUCI: You know, I am not going to give you an answer to that, Ari, because I don`t want to offend anybody.

MELBER: Very political.


FAUCI: No, I mean, some of them -- I mean, they have been really great.

MELBER: So, not Steph Curry?

FAUCI: Well...

MELBER: So, Steph Curry is not your favorite?

This is a follow-up.

FAUCI: I have a special thing with Steph Curry, because anybody who`s ever played basketball in their life -- and I played high school basketball -- wished that they were 1,000th as good as Steph Curry.


FAUCI: So, there`s a certain special something with Steph Curry.

MELBER: Dr. Anthony Fauci, thanks for coming back on THE BEAT. We know how busy you are. I hope you will return.

I appreciate your time tonight, sir.

FAUCI: Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate that.

MELBER: Absolutely, Doctor.

We fit in a break.

Up ahead: There`s questions about what Trump knew, with a top ally in custody tonight over those foreign lobbying charges.

And later: slashing taxes for billionaires under Trump, juicing the debt, but now Mitch McConnell caught with hypocrisy. We have a fact-check.



MELBER: Trump ally and moneyman Tom Barrack now in custody, the inaugural committee chair charged with illegally acting as a foreign agent and then lying about it to the feds.

He`s one of multiple, many, many Trump associates to be indicted. We can barely fit them all on the screen, from Manafort and Gaetz in the Mueller probe, to recently Weisselberg in Manhattan, where he awaits trial.

We turn now to federal prosecutor Joyce Vance.

Thanks for being here.

This is an individual with tremendous resources and power. What happens next in a case like this?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This is such an interesting case, Ari, because, of course, the indictment was sealed, the defendants were arrested, and then it was unsealed, which gives you the sense that there`s not any sort of a cooperation deal in the offing here.

So, I suspect we will see this case move either towards a plea agreement or towards a trial. But I don`t expect we will see, at least based on what we have heard so far, that there`s cooperation in the offing.

MELBER: A very good point. And it`s a reminder of how scary that could be, no matter what one`s station in life, to have a surprise knock and arrest.

I want to play a little something from Bloomberg TV here. Take a look.


QUESTION: You have deep and longstanding ties to the Qataris, to the Emiratis. Are they all behind you in this effort?

TOM BARRACK, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes. Yes, and various mechanisms.

The -- as we have talked about before, the region is so complicated.


MELBER: Mr. Barrack may not be a household name, but he certainly is a Wall Street household name. That`s a big Bloomberg interview.

What do you make of the fact that the indictment includes some of his public media and advocacy activities?

VANCE: In many ways, that`s what makes this indictment so compelling and something that DOJ had to move ahead on.

I can`t remember another case like this, where you essentially have as a victim the president of the United States. And Mark Lesko, who`s the acting head of the National Security Division, made that point, that this was a defendant who, in essence, was taking advantage of the president, who was victimizing the country by trying to subvert our foreign policy, and replace the policy of the Emirates, things that were important for their goals and their needs, with what was in the best interests of the United States.

MELBER: You make a great point. And that`s the last thing I wanted to ask you about, Joyce.

There`s been much discussion of the way that Donald Trump operated and all the problems associated with that. But that doesn`t mean the same narrative is always true. And I noticed, in this rather voluminous so-called speaking indictment, there was no suggestion that the chicanery, at least in this round, was coming from the White House, rather, that Trump was a puppet, that they got duped, and that Mr. Barrack had every reason to hide this from everyone.

VANCE: This is really a picture of the former president that you can imagine he`s not happy about seeing, because your use of the word dupe I think is very appropriate here.

This indictment suggests that the former president was duped into following what was in Mr. Barrack`s best interest, not his own. And there`s an interesting part of this indictment where there`s a mention that Barrack set up a meeting for someone who`s identified only as U.S. Person 1 with the Emiratis.


There is some speculation on Twitter and other social media that U.S. Person 1 is Bannon, who had just left the Trump administration at that point in time. So he would have qualified as a former U.S. official, which is what the indictment specifies.

And that really raises the specter of whether there were people around Trump who were taking advantage of him, and whether that`s really what this indictment is about. Of course, because we`re suspicious-minded, and there are concerns, frankly, about the former administration, which seem to be pay-to-play in a lot of cases -- there was a lot of grifting that was going on.

And so, ultimately, that`s the question people will search for the answer for. Did the former president know, or was he really a dupe in this case?

MELBER: Yes, all great points to help us unpack something that was a breaking story yesterday and still has a lot of strands to pull.

Joyce, thank you.

When we come back, we get into why Joe Biden`s talking jobs and Republicans are talking socialism next.



MELBER: We have been covering COVID and corruption, but there`s also a big fight in Washington as President Biden pushes his agenda on jobs and infrastructure, with Republican pushback on spending and debt.

So right now, here on THE BEAT, we turn to Matt Schlapp. You know the name because he`s the influential chairman of the American Conservative Union, which leads those CPAC conferences.

Thanks for coming back on THE BEAT.


MELBER: Great to have you.

Let`s start with the jobs, spending and money issues, because you have Republicans now talking about threatening to oppose raising the debt ceiling, something that we did not hear about for four years as the debt went up under Donald Trump.

I think the facts are known. My question to you, as the leader and strategist that you are, is, does doing this kind of thing this hypocritically immediately as Biden tries to put out bipartisan plans, does that kind of hypocrisy hurt Republicans, because we don`t recall the debt ceiling coming up in the last four years?

SCHLAPP: Well, look, I think that if you`re going to criticize the Republican Party for spending too much money, especially D.C. Republicans, I probably agree with you, Ari.

And I just think that the new socialist bent to the Democratic Party wants to spend even more. I have no problem with conversations about not raising the debt limit, because there seems to be no break that can be applied on this out-of-control spending.

Economics, it just comes down to facts. And it comes down to math. And the problem with juicing the economy to this extent is, it`s going to hurt ordinary people as they go buy commodities in their daily lives, food, gasoline, the things that it takes to live.

MELBER: I thought you might mention socialism, Matt. We`re hearing that more and more.

We have had many colloquies on this program rooted in evidence and facts, even when there`s disagreements. That`s important. And I want to make sure viewers hear different perspectives.

As for socialism, what does it mean to you when you say that word? Because what Joe Biden`s proposing, while it has a big price tag, does not fit the definition of socialism, which we`re putting on the screen. That would involve, of course, the government owning the means and distribution of production.

SCHLAPP: So, of course, people think of socialism as an economic model. And, certainly, it is.

And, as you know, there`s gradations of how much collectivism and statism there is. I will always argue for less. Others, especially this new radicalized Democratic Party, will argue for more.

But the core socialism is the rights of the individual. And that comes down to these questions about whether or not a family wants to have their kids vaccinated or not have their kids vaccinated, these basic questions.

Socialism would say, no, we have a collective that we have to mind first. Your individual rights come after what`s good for the collective. Those of us who believe in the Constitution, individual rights say they are what are paramount. I get to control my life because God knit into my soul my rights.

And together we make those decisions as individuals. And, collectively, collectively, everyone benefits when individuals understand and exercise their rights.

MELBER: I think -- I mean, you`re talking about the longstanding debate about the government`s role and liberty. And I even posed the question Dr. Fauci earlier about whether it should mandate vaccination.

So I understand the point you`re raising, but why not be more accurate with your words? Because you`re kind of sounding more like a Beatnik or a poet here, saying, well, when you say socialism, you don`t mean an economic system, you mean health care rules.

But that`s not what socialism means, which is why, again, I will put it up briefly on the screen because we love evidence here. Socialism is about an economic system. The definitions have been established for many decades.

And it seems more like you`re just saying that you want to call Biden a low-key socialist, irrespective of what the word means.

SCHLAPP: Yes, let`s be very clear that, when Karl Marx -- and if you want to call it Marxism, I`m fine with that. These are all just isms that are synonyms that mean virtually the same thing.

When he wrote about his -- this toxic philosophy of socialism, it was aimed at several things. He had great problems with the concept of the family unit. He had a real hostility towards churches and institutions of faith.


SCHLAPP: So, yes, it`s terrible economics.

And, by the way, everywhere socialism has been tried, including...


MELBER: Respectfully, Karl Marx...

SCHLAPP: Let me just finish real fast.


MELBER: Respectfully...

SCHLAPP: Let me just try real fast.

MELBER: ... Karl Marx isn`t president.

I mean, my question was about what you were saying about Biden.

SCHLAPP: Karl Marx isn`t president, but his philosophy has taken root in the Democratic Party.

And where socialism has been experimented with, it has harmed people.



SCHLAPP: Nobody has gotten healthier or richer, except those in power. We can see this in Cuba. We can see this in Venezuela.


SCHLAPP: ... China.

MELBER: Final question, only because I`m short on time. And you`re -- you`re a big leader, but it`s not a Venezuela interview.

But let me give you one final thing. I got 30 seconds.

I`m reading you a quote from Mitch McConnell this week: "We need shots in everybody`s arm, or we`re going to be back in a situation like the fall._ Is McConnell right or wrong to say that?

SCHLAPP: He is completely wrong.

The -- what we need to do when it comes to battling this terrible Chinese corona is make sure that people take command of their own health. And the best piece of news, which you didn`t talk about with Fauci, which I wish you had, is the therapeutics that are available for people who get sick.

What we`re seeing, and with the doctors I talk to, is great success with the therapeutics that are -- that are leading older people and people who have underlying conditions...


MELBER: I`m over on time. I`m over on time. It`s not personal. I can`t take from the next hour.

We covered ground.

Matt Schlapp, as always, thanks for coming on THE BEAT. We will have you back.

Quick break right now.


MELBER: Fran Lebowitz is on THE BEAT tomorrow, the writer and consummate New Yorker recently the subject of that Scorsese documentary.

Take a look.


QUESTION: Why do you think so many young people are still coming to New York? What`s here?


QUESTION: I mean...

LEBOWITZ: What`s not here? That`s the way to look at it. Wherever they`re from is not here. So, they come here.


MELBER: "What`s not here?"

Fran Lebowitz my special guest, her maiden voyage on THE BEAT tomorrow. Join us or DVR.

We appreciate you.

"THE REIDOUT" is next.