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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 7/22/21

Guests: Elie Mystal, Carl Cameron, Fran Lebowitz, Daniella Gibbs Leger


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defends her decision to reject two of Congressman Kevin McCarthy`s picks to be on the insurrection commission. Fran Lebowitz speaks out. The level of criminality in Trump world is examined. COVID cases keeps rising in the United States.



Hey, Ari.


Now, you were a Republican. Then you endorsed Biden. You were a guest. Now you`re a guest host. I can`t keep track of everything you`re doing, man.

STEELE: Dude, I`m just creating a road map. I don`t know what`s coming next, but I`m in for the ride.

No, man, it`s good. It`s good.

MELBER: We love it. Any time we get your insights, we love it.

And you did a great job, if I may say so myself.

STEELE: Thanks, friend.

MELBER: My humble opinion. Thank you, Michael.

STEELE: Thank you.

MELBER: I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

Yes, sir, Michael.

I am Ari Melber.

And our top story tonight is now Speaker Pelosi leading this charge on the January 6 probe, which relates to that story Michael was just covering.

She was using her power again today, explaining why she rejected Republican nominees to this big committee, who she deemed unable to discharge a fair investigation. And she`s expounding on her rationale.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It is my responsibility as speaker of the House to make sure we get to the truth on this. And we will not let their antics stand in the way.

These people are going to act up, cause a problem. And people said to me, put them on and then, when they act up, you can take them off. I said, why should we waste time on something as predictable?


MELBER: Pelosi basically arguing that Republicans` political approach to this probe is a tell and suggesting she doesn`t much care about GOP Leader McCarthy`s response, which was to yank all five of his nominees as a kind of a made-up boycott.

Pelosi already made the probe bipartisan by including Cheney, and she may add another Republican, former Congressman Riggleman, who has worked to oppose conspiracy theories since leaving office.

Now, this thing is real. The hearings start next week. And having given up his seats on the committee who are inside the room, McCarthy is now focused on attacking from the outside, telling FOX any probe should focus on Pelosi, rather than the Republicans who summoned the crowd and heeded their call to oppose certifying Trump`s loss.

Now, that was that day a violent attack on democracy. Many would rather look away or lie about it, because to face it is to see the attacks and the violence, to feel that this should not have happened, and that something should be done.


RIOTER: You guys swore an oath! You guys swore an oath!

RIOTER: We are not the left. We are not the godless left. Peaceful, man. This is peace.


MELBER: Those are just a few seconds of it.

Now, Leader McCarthy recently huddled with Trump, who is now offering a false defense about those acts you just saw with your own eyes.

So, while the clash over committee assignments may sound to some degree like another Washington battle, this one is much more than that. It is a test of truth and accountability for insurrectionists, traitors, and terrorists.

And anyone publicly standing in the way of that accountability risks looking like they`re standing with those figures.

I`m joined now by Daniella Gibbs Leger from the Center For American Progress, and Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from "The Washington Post."

Good evening to you both.

And, Gene, your thoughts on Speaker Pelosi basically winning another round in the setup of the committee and really being clear about why she doesn`t think some of these people are fit to run a fair investigation?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, anybody who knows Nancy Pelosi knows that she just doesn`t play. And this is not play. This is not a moment for play. This is as serious as it gets.

This is an investigation into an insurrection at the Capitol, an unprecedented invasion of the Capitol, when Congress and the vice president were performing a constitutional duty. It -- this is serious.

And she`s just not going to have what she called antics on the committee. And, clearly, Jim Jordan -- he`s one of the two congressmen she kicked off -- is nothing but antics. That`s all he does in his shirtsleeves.

And Jim Banks, who would have been the ranking member on the committee, put out a statement on Monday saying that, well, we`re going to -- I want us to investigate the Capitol response, which means investigate Nancy Pelosi, and the response by the Biden administration.


Well, that is kind of a tell. There was no Biden administration on January 6. There wasn`t a Biden administration until January 20, when he was inaugurated. So, clearly, their idea was just to mess things up and to make a show.

And she wasn`t having it. She just wasn`t having it.

MELBER: Yes. And you make a great point, adding that context. They wanted - - they would need a time machine for that kind of probe, which reminds me, Daniella, of the old joke about protesters chanting, what do we want? Time travel. When do we want it? It doesn`t matter.


MELBER: Because, if you get the time machine, right, no deadlines there.

But, beneath that regrettable dad joke lies an insight that Gene is sharing with us, which is, you`re dealing with people who are so nakedly and brazenly political, they`re not really pretending. This isn`t some sort of genteel politics of whenever you want to pick.

This is people saying, no, we`re going to investigate the future Biden administration, we`re going to investigate Pelosi, we`re going to -- we`re going to make sure this is anything but a review of an attack on their very own workplace, Daniella.

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: That`s right, because they are speaking to a very distinct group of people, and they`re not speaking to you. They`re not speaking to Gene. They`re not speaking to me.

They`re speaking to their base. They`re speaking to Donald Trump. They`re speaking to the people who still support Donald Trump, the people who still believe that Donald Trump won the election, who still believe and peddle in this big lie.

If Kevin McCarthy wanted to have a true independent commission look at what happened on January 6, he had his chance, and he turned it down. All they`re interested in is scoring political points.

And it really should make every American angry. Just watching that little snippet that you play just there, like, I have a visceral reaction every single time I watch what happened in our nation`s Capitol.

So, Jim Jordan with this rolled-up sleeves, put a jacket on, man. I am so sick of this little shtick.


GIBBS LEGER: But, anyway, Jim Jordan and the rest of them, like, your jig is up. We know what you`re doing.

So, no, Nancy Pelosi is not going to play with you. And she`s not going to let you just sit there and throw stink bombs like a toddler at something that`s deadly serious.

MELBER: Yes, I think that`s all fair.

There`s also real heat here on McCarthy, because he`s one of the Republicans who -- again, we`re all living through this together -- who, in the days after January 6, for whatever his reasons were -- as a journalist, I can`t get inside his mind.

I can just remind everyone that he said Trump was responsible. He was acting in a different manner. He seemed to, for whatever his reasoning was, want to be on the side of people who were at least making a public effort to say there should be accountability for Jan 6, and then at one point saying he would participate in any such probe.

He seems to be laying the foundation to maybe change that. Here`s both pieces of sound, Gene.


QUESTION: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6 if you were asked by an outside commission?


QUESTION: Do you still stand by that? Are you still prepared to testify about your conversation?

MCCARTHY: Well, my phone call is out there.

The question is, do you make a phone call after people are in the Capitol to advise the president of what`s going on? Doesn`t get to the answer of, why were we ill-prepared?





No, I mean, he`s one of the people who should testify before this committee, who should be called to testify and, if necessary, subpoenaed to testify, because he had that conversation with Donald Trump, a very heated conversation, according to all reports, in which he was trying to get -- desperately to get the president to call off the dogs incentive and send some help.

And he -- I`m sure he will resist attempts to get him to testify, because he doesn`t want to have to say that out loud in a voice that Donald Trump can hear in a public setting, which would tick off the former president. And that`s clearly something Kevin McCarthy is no longer willing to do.


I appreciate both you kicking us off. We have a lot in the show, so I have to fit in a break.

I want to thank Daniella and Eugene and tell you what we have coming up.

FOX News has a Tucker Carlson vaccine problem. And we have a whole report on that issue.

Also tonight, Fran Lebowitz is here, a very special segment we`re going to do. I want to share that with you. It`s her first time on THE BEAT. And we also get into the insurrection, as well as culture.

So, a lot coming up. Stay with us.



MELBER: Here`s the story of COVID in America.

It was terrible for a long time. Then it was getting better for a while, with vaccination curbing the virus in many, many parts of the nation.

And now the story is, it`s getting worse, daily cases tripling to 41,000 now. And there are many factors at play. But experts and the Biden administration are sounding the alarm about how media misinformation, from Facebook to FOX News, is part of what`s driving this.

The U.S. surgeon general going as far to blame misinformation for contributing to the death rate, to the lives lost, others hitting FOX News even harder.

Experts arguing that politicizing vaccines and discouraging their use undermines this key safety method that we have at the very time when the nation is in a position to put COVID on its back for good.

Now, amidst this pressure and this ongoing debate, some at FOX News are changing gears. They have a new formal PSA on vaccines that aired last night, Sean Hannity now backing vaccines.

But it`s not a uniform approach over there, because even amidst that edit, the FOX News anchor with the largest audience, Tucker Carlson, continues to play very dangerous games. He has seized on COVID as what looks like to him another culture war ploy.

He claims that people should call child protective services on any parents whose children wear masks. And now he`s trying to project current media criticism of FOX, some of what I just told you about, back on to others.


And he`s implying that accurate information about public health advice is somehow the news taking a forbidden ideological position.

This is just from his latest broadcast:


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: As a channel, CNN shouldn`t have a position whether you should take medicine or not, because it`s a news channel. It`s not a health agency.

Why is a news channel doing this, any news channel? A lot of them are.


MELBER: That might sound like a real argument if you`re not listening closely.

And we get it. People sometimes have the TV on while they`re doing other things, making dinner. But this matters. And what Tucker`s saying there is actually completely vapid.

Seat belts save lives. If studies show that, news channels report it. If safety experts and doctors strongly urge people to use seat belts, the news reports that. And if government guidelines or even laws require seat belts -- you ever heard about those laws? -- well, the news reports that too.

It`s pretty simple. And it`s not taking some grand position. Indeed, on this very program, you have heard me repeat that people do have a right to decide their own health care.

Last night, I asked Dr. Fauci if blanket vaccine mandates for work or school might be an overreach, because we`re discussing policy. We`re not telling you how to live. But on the facts, we can also tell you seat belts save lives. So do these vaccines.

And Tucker Carlson is not consistent either. He`s also joined the chorus of attacks on facts and experts and doctors.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: And what about the efficacy of the vaccine itself among adults?

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: Why does it matter how many COVID cases we have in this country?

CARLSON: There are a lot of those people giving you medical advice on television. And you should ignore them. Obviously, we`re not doctors.


MELBER: So, there`s whiplash between Hannity embracing vaccines and other hosts carrying on.

This matters. It impacts the views of millions, President Biden even discussing that change over at FOX in new remarks.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of those other networks are not a big fan of mine, the one you talk about a lot.


BIDEN: But, if you notice, as they say in the most southern part of my state, they have had an altar call, some of those guys.

All of sudden, they`re out there saying, let`s get vaccinated, let`s get vaccinated, the very people who before this were saying -- so, that -- but that -- I shouldn`t make fun of it. That`s good. It`s good. It`s good.


MELBER: That`s good. That`s good.

That`s what it sounds like when a president`s not settling a score or taking cheap shots at media critics, but, rather, a president thinking about how what happens on FOX impacts the lives of his constituents, of all Americans.

You could call it presidenting.

Now, while misleading and controversial statements do get more attention TV and online, there are others in conservative media -- and I want to mention this as part of our report tonight -- who are speaking out on vaccines. You should know what they`re saying too.

Take one of the most influential conservatives in America, a guy named Chris Ruddy. He runs Newsmax, the Trump-friendly outlet that`s to the right of FOX. You may remember his name as well from the Mueller probe as a high- level Trump confidant.

He has a brand-new piece. And here`s the title,"Biden`s Good Job on the Vaccine," where he tells fellow Trump fans: "I myself have gotten the Pfizer vaccine," and notes that vaccines save countless lives and more could be saved if it were available earlier.

In fact, given how reflexively skeptical conservative audiences have been encouraged to be by Ruddy`s friend Trump, among others, the Newsmax leader goes on to make sure people understand that he has not, he says, heard from the Biden White House about this coverage. And, instead, he just wants to credit Biden for the fact that he`s doing a good job on this front.

As to the impact on real people, well, some journalists are cataloguing the price here. Part of Tucker Carlson`s crusade and his rhetorical word games is to try to scare people into feeling like there`s some sort of sinister government project to push these vaccines. There must be something wrong if they`re being pushed hard.

So, he warned his viewers the entire agenda is -- quote -- "designed to make you comply."

That`s the framing. And for him, that might be an exciting way to try to vacuum up some level of interest there is out there in that.

But this is real. These are real lives. This is not a drill. And we`re so far into this, so deep into this, it is unfortunate that I have to say that and remind people of that, for those who need the reminding. But this is about real people.


Here is CBS -- Scott Roe -- talking to a COVID patient in Louisiana, about this individual`s rationale for avoiding the vaccine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here I am recovering, getting out of here finally tomorrow. Am I going to get a vaccine? No.

QUESTION: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because there`s too many issues with these vaccines.

QUESTION: Before you got sick, if you would have had a chance to get the vaccine and prevent this, would you have taken the vaccine?


QUESTION: So, you would have gone through this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d gone through this. Yes, sir. Don`t shove it down my throat.

That`s what`s local, state federal administration is trying to do, is shove it down your throat.

QUESTION: What are they shoving, the science?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they`re shoving the fact that that`s their agenda. The agenda is to get you vaccinated.


MELBER: "The agenda is to get you vaccinated."

So, a choice about science or personal health has been morphed rhetorically, largely, I think, through the media into some kind of test for resisting some political phantom government agenda you have been warned about, which is a ways away from whether the vaccine will protect you and your family, like a seat belt, which is still, of course, your right to decide.

Now, things were getting better. But where are they headed amidst all this? And what is the role of FOX and other media?

Dr. Natalie Azar and a former FOX News correspondent, Carl Cameron, will cover all the angles for us after our shortest break. We`re back in just 60 seconds.


MELBER: I`m joined now by former FOX News correspondent Carl Cameron, co- founder of Front Page Live, and Dr. Natalie Azar.

And we`re going to get into all this, Carl.

We just showed some footage from a hospital room. In your experience, do you think people are coming up with this stuff on their own? Or do you think some of that rhetoric and framing is being echoed from some of what we hear at FOX?


Whether it`s Newsmax or the One American Network or FOX, cable has got a lot of disinformation coming out. And I think, frankly, some people in those organizations have begun to realize that is completely irresponsible, and it could lead to people`s deaths to suggest that they don`t need to get vaccinated.

To the extent that there are some in FOX who continue to be -- quote -- "anti-vaxxers," that really sort of diminishes the type of stuff that Sean Hannity did just a couple of days ago, which was a huge break from what we have been hearing from FOX from one of its top guys.

So, it`s a step, but it`s a baby step. And, frankly, social media and cable TV have been a huge problem. And, to some extent, you can`t really trust who you`re talking to with your neighbors because of social media and those other TV platforms.

MELBER: Doctor, how do you deal with this from a public health perspective?

Because if you divide it up very simply and say there are people who have the right facts, and they get vaccinated, and there are people who have the right facts and make an informed choice not to, I think those are two acceptable groups from a medical perspective, right? Your patients ultimately are in charge of their decisions.

But we`re talking about this other category. I see a third and fourth. Third is people who have the wrong information about the vaccines. That`s about the safety. And then fourth is what we just showed, which is, you`re not even talking about whether the vaccine works. You`re now talking about whether there`s been an effort to encourage people to get it, which, as I analogize to seat belts, there has.

It`s not sinister. It`s for reasons. How do you deal with that for public health?


Well, look, I mean, certainly it was -- it`s been surprising all along and unfortunate that COVID-19, as an infection and a pandemic, and then masks and now vaccines, have just fall -- fell along this political fault line. But, unfortunately, that`s the case.


Look, I deal with this every day in my office. I usually end every encounter with, have you gotten the vaccine yet? And if the patient says no, I sit down again, and we spend that extra 10 or 15 minutes engaging in the patient in a conversation.

And it starts with one of my first questions is, where do you get your information? And it absolutely is social media. It`s different newspapers in different communities. And I say, well, what sources are they citing? And just kind of really trying to get to where people are getting their information.

Because, really, we spend a lot of time talking here on our network. And -- but our audience has been listening to us the entire time, right? The trick is to get the folks who`ve been listening to the other networks and who are getting their information from those alternate sources to kind of get to them.

And I think that that`s really the challenge that we`re facing right now. It`s certainly the challenge that I feel when I have patients. I had a pregnant patient this week and a patient who was immunocompromised, both of whom were really reluctant to get the vaccine for various different reasons, Ari.

MELBER: And it is a significant challenge.

Just to put a point on it, are you finding that sometimes they have misinformation from the media? And are you able to move them? Or does it become a kind of a screen or filter where their own doctor has trouble moving them?

Obviously, without you revealing anything about individual patient.

AZAR: Well, right. Exactly.

Look, I mean, I`m very careful. And I start off every conversation with that I respect their decision, no matter what. And I really do want to understand what their concerns are. And some of them are absolutely valid.

But, many times, we do hear myths. And a recent poll showed that two-thirds of people believe the myths that they read or hear about on social media, for example. So, really, what I do is, I just -- I -- everything that I do, I try in my life, as a physician and as a medical journalist, it`s fact- based, it`s evidence-based.

I -- that`s always going to be their decision, but I want them to make the most educated and informed decision that they can, just like we do with any sort of consent in medicine.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

Carl, as mentioned, you worked at FOX News for a long time. So you have that perspective. You also do your own thing and have been critical of certain things.

Are you prepared to experience the full Tucker right now?


What I`m more worried about...


MELBER: All right, here we go. Here we -- no, that`s why I asked you, because I want you to -- I want you to be ready for this.

I`m going to play the full Tucker.

CAMERON: I`m not the least bit worried about -- I am not the least bit worried about Tucker Carlson and FOX.

What I am worried about, Ari, is...


MELBER: All right, well, let me -- but I`m going to play you something. I`m going to play you sound, and then I`m going to get your reaction.

This is the full Tucker. Take a look.



CARLSON: Force people to take medicine they don`t want or need. This is the greatest scandal of my lifetime by far. The advice they`re giving you isn`t designed to help. It`s designed to make you comply.

But since COVID, Bill Gates has gained extraordinary powers over what you can and cannot do to your own body.

If the vaccine is so great, wouldn`t it sell itself?



MELBER: Now you have the floor, sir, for your thoughts and response.

CAMERON: I tell you what.

The idea that people would willingly suggest that others don`t need to get vaccinated is really dangerous. And, frankly, anybody who hasn`t been vaccinated really shouldn`t be around their elders, really shouldn`t be around their loved ones. It is dangerous.

And whether it`s the guy in the hospital bed that you talked there a minute ago, or the guy who I think got to be in an insane asylum for the things that he`s saying on television, the bottom line is whether you think you`re protecting yourself or not really doesn`t matter. Do you really want to kill somebody else because you didn`t get a vaccine?

MELBER: Yes, I hope people are listening.

And we have tried to gather some of the thoughts about where this is coming from, why the surgeon general and the president are concerned about some in the media.

And people have free speech. And no one is saying the government should block what they`re saying.


MELBER: But final thought. I`m running short on time, go ahead, Carl.

CAMERON: In the beginning of your segment, you were showing all the statistics of the upsurge because of the Delta variant.


CAMERON: And it is now the predominant one in the United States. And it`s more deadly by a magnitude than what we were starting out with a year-and- a-half ago.

Oh, and, by the way, check out what the Lambda variant is going to be like if it hits us too. There`s a whole new strain that`s acting very, very dangerously.


So, this is a cascading disaster perpetuated by people who are lying.

MELBER: And that`s the final word on this. And we appreciate the clarity from both of you.

Mr. Cameron, Dr. Azar, thank you.

Up ahead: Have you noticed the actual barrage of indictments and convictions in Trump world? We want to be clear because we have the facts for you. This is a stunning level of criminality.

And, tonight, we`re going to show you exactly how, in a very memorable way that`s new on THE BEAT.

And, later, something we`re so excited about, her first time on this program, the icon, the writer, the humorist Fran Lebowitz. We`re talking culture, politics, and a whole lot more.

That`s tonight.



TOM BARRACK, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Donald, as we have seen, he`s a tour de force. His instincts are amazing.

And he found a fissure in America that he drove a truck through. And it was an -- that was an amazing adventure. Watching was an amazing -- and admiration for him and having the thick enough skin to really drive through and adapt and adapt and adapt.


MELBER: That`s Tom Barrack. He chaired Donald Trump`s Inaugural Committee. He was a big moneyman. That was just a week before his arrest.

And this is not an isolated incident. He is one of many, many Trump associates and advisers indicted for serious crimes, and many convicted.

We want to be clear with you tonight, as part of our coverage of that story, this is not normal. We have not seen in the modern era this level of criminality surrounding a president in this many fields, in this many directions. Even Watergate, seen as a low point, largely centered on one set of political incidents.


Donald Trump is surrounded by people in business, in politics -- that`s the campaign side -- in government, in foreign policy, in outside lobbying, people who the feds say are criminals. That`s why they`re indicted so often.

And so we want to show you something right now to put this all in context, so this should never become normal, a look at the series of indictments. And keep an eye on the red number that counts up the horror at the corner of your screen.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: The first indictments in Robert Mueller`s investigation.

The president`s former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, has already surrendered himself to the FBI.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Manafort`s right-hand man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rick Gates indicted, facing some pretty serious charges.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was charged with lying to the FBI.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty in federal court in Washington.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Michael Cohen, President Trump`s former fixer and personal attorney, is now an admitted felon.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: The special counsel indicted Roger Stone on seven counts.

RUHLE: Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Trump, has just been indicted.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: On conspiracy charges of fraud and money laundering.

MADDOW: Elliott Broidy, who has now been hit with federal felony charges.

He had a senior role in the Trump Inaugural Committee. George Nader, a Trump campaign gadfly, now in federal prison.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: The disgraced ex-president`s company has been indicted today in Manhattan. Also charged, the Trump Organization`s top moneyman, Allen Weisselberg.

MELBER: A new indictment hitting Trump world.

REID: Tom Barrack, remember him? The former chair of the former president`s 2017 inaugural committee was arrested today.


MELBER: It`s 12 and counting.

And I`m joined by Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation."

Elie, this is not normal. According to investigators and prosecutors, it`s an ongoing crime spree. Is it important that people see these facts and not say, oh, just another story, another indictment?

ELIE MYSTAL,"THE NATION": You can basically take this one of two ways, right, Ari?

One, Trump has world historical bad taste in friends, right? Like, somehow, his taste in friends is even worse than his taste in architecture. Like, that`s one possibility, that Trump is just an extremely unlucky guy.

Possibility two, he`s the criminal. He`s the person, he is the black hole that is gravitationally pulling all of these flies to his criminal enterprises, right? That is the other option here.

Michael Corleone did not hire as many criminals as Donald Trump has, right? Because at least Mikey had Tom Hagen, who was like a pretty upstanding lawyer guy. Trump can`t find an upstanding lawyer guy, even, right?

So, like, which one do you want to believe, right? And I understand that roughly half the country wants to believe that Trump is just some kind of unlucky executive who keeps being beset by criminals in his orbit.

But the Occam`s razor suggests that, if all of these people who work for him are criminally indicted, at least some of them got their orders from Donald Trump himself.

MELBER: Right.

MYSTAL: But, Ari, as you well know, we talk about this on your show.


MELBER: Well, let me -- let me build on your point, and then you will go to point two. But you`re moving fast.

Your first point, I want to keep on the screen, speaks to the fact that Mr. Cohen was convicted of crimes that were done for the purpose of Donald Trump, Individual 1. Mr. Stone, a longtime adviser, was appearing to, according to authorities, obstructing and lying about things relating to Russia.

Mr. Manafort and Gates were on the campaign. Mr. Giuliani`s not indicted, but under investigation, also pertaining to things that he was doing apparently also at Trump`s behest, including overturning -- trying to overturn the election, which Trump remains himself under investigation for in Georgia. The Trump Organization in the lower right-hand corner is the man`s entire company.

So I think you make a very important point about what it means to have this many indictments around you.

Now I give you the floor for the next point you wanted to make, sir.

MYSTAL: Well, it`s what you and I have talked about a lot on your program, is that you can`t make the one-to-one connection between all of these criminal acts, all of these criminal indictments, and the man who maybe, potentially, allegedly instructed them to commit these criminal acts without these men telling the truth, without these men flipping on Donald Trump...

MELBER: Right.

MYSTAL: ... and -- or one of his family members.

And the thing that really, like, always surprises me is that, except for Michael Cohen, who, in fairness, only flipped after he was in jail, which lowers his credibility threshold just a tad, not one of these people have flipped on Trump or any of his children.


They have all omerta`ed themselves. They have all kept their mouth shut.

One of the interesting things about Tom Barrack`s indictment, the latest indictment -- and I`m sure it won`t be the last -- is that he`s in a position not just to flip on Trump, which maybe he doesn`t because he loves the man with the fissures and the -- but he`s also in a position to know stuff about Weisselberg, who`s under indictment right now.

He`s also in position to know about -- he has a relationship with Ivanka and Jared. Like, he doesn`t even have to give up Trump.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

MYSTAL: He could give up lower people to help himself out.


MYSTAL: But, so far, we haven`t seen any -- except for Michael Cohen, we haven`t seen any of these indicted people decide belatedly to tell the truth.

MELBER: Right.

Well, you put your finger on it. To quote "Sesame Street," what do all these people have in common? One of these things is not like the other. Whether he`s an unindicted co-conspirator or not is what investigators in the New York are still looking.

Elie Mystal, thank you, sir.

Up ahead, something we`re so excited about, the writer and cultural icon Fran Lebowitz on Trump, the insurrection, and her evolving views about journalism in America.

Fran is next.



MELBER: Stephen Colbert called it truthiness, but it pales in comparison to today`s Trumpian denial of the facts we know.

Americans watched and lived through and then watched top Republicans completely lie about the insurrection.

Now, that`s one of the political cultural topics tackled by an icon here, writer Fran Lebowitz. She`s a critic of many things, including the media. Of course, we`re a all part of it.

But some of her views have also shifted from when she was first writing in the `70s, which we discussed in our new interview, which is airing now for the first time.


MELBER: You have famously said there are things that you just don`t trust or aren`t that interested in for the way they`re presented in American culture.

So, we have some older -- older stuff. Here`s a -- back in the day, you were talking about the news and its limitations. Take a look.


QUESTION: Why don`t you like television news, since everybody seems to?

FRAN LEBOWITZ, WRITER AND SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: It`s not just TV? I don`t like newspapers either. It`s I don`t like news. It`s not TV news that I don`t like.

It never tells you anything important.

QUESTION: It doesn`t?

LEBOWITZ: No. I figure, if something really important happened, my mother would call.


LEBOWITZ: And news is never about the things people want to know about.


MELBER: News is never about the things people really want to know about.

Still true?


And, really, it wasn`t that true then, although it was true I thought that. But..

MELBER: You thought that then, and now you think that younger you was incorrect?

LEBOWITZ: I was incorrect, although, of course, I mean, I`m looking at me. If you look at it yourself from like 100 years ago, all you can think is, is that me?

I don`t know what year. That was probably the late `70s. So there are eras where...

MELBER: Seventy-eight.

LEBOWITZ: So, OK. That`s the late `70s.

MELBER: No, I`m confirming for you.


MELBER: I`m doing that news thing. It`s annoying.



LEBOWITZ: There are eras where the news is more important than others.

Or -- I mean, unfortunately, lately, in the last several years, the news has been unduly important, OK? So I would prefer -- and I`m sure I`m not alone in this -- to not have to be on the news 24 hours a day.

I mean, since the last presidential election, I pay less attention to the news than I was compelled to pay for five years, so that if -- I know there are people who are just on the news all the time and interest in the news all the time.

But when the news is horrible by the minute, and also threatening by the minute, I would guess that the periods that people pay most attention to the news are the worst periods in history.

So I would prefer to pay a little less attention.

MELBER: I`m going to agree with you, like I did before, but it`s not a correction. It`s just building.

One of the most watched news days ever was January 6.

LEBOWITZ: I`m sure.

MELBER: Which was a horrific day, a shanda, right, for the nation.

LEBOWITZ: Horrible.

And I -- at first, I was in my living room reading. And a friend called me and said -- I have a friend who has the television on 24 hours a day -- called me and said: "Are you watching this? They`re going into the Capitol."

I didn`t know she was talking about. I said: "So, what are you -- so what? What are you talking about?"

I said: "I think people are allowed in the Capitol. I visited the Capitol when I was a kid. What do you mean they`re going in the Capitol?"

I mean, it was one of the most shocking things I have ever seen in my life. And of all -- I mean, there was no aspect to it that wasn`t shocking.

But, to me, to see the Confederate Flag in the Capitol was stomach-turning. It was just -- it was horrible, horrible.

And, of course, now, as you`re aware, of course, the Republicans, it`s like, this didn`t happen, or this was something else. This was a New Year`s Eve party, or this was -- these were actually lefties.

And, yes, it was horrible. And fact that they refuse to investigate it -- it`s always been interesting to me that shameful and shameless mean almost the same thing. So, these people are shameful and shameless. They just don`t care.

Mitch McConnell probably knew when he made that speech about how the president was responsible for this, and, two minutes later, the president was not responsible, he knew that people were going to put those side by side. He didn`t care.

MELBER: Didn`t care.

LEBOWITZ: They don`t care. They don`t -- they`re -- they care about nothing, except retaining the power that they have at the moment.

They don`t care about anything else. Even like this trying to keep people from voting, they`re basically saying, we`re trying to keep certain people from voting, because, if we don`t keep these people from, we could never win.


And even Trump said that. Well, the Republicans can never win if everyone`s allowed to vote.

I don`t know what to say about it that anyone else hasn`t said about it. I mean, that was one of the most shocking things I have ever seen, OK? And I have seen numerous shocking things. I`m not -- I`m not the young girl you saw in that clip.


LEBOWITZ: So -- and I don`t think I would ever not have that picture in my mind.


MELBER: Lebowitz also spoke about the rioters who stormed Pelosi`s office.


LEBOWITZ: That guy who put his feet on Nancy Pelosi`s desk, this is an image like -- well, you`re not old enough, but the second I saw that, something came into my mind, which is that, when I was a teenager, there were all these protests at Columbia University, and SDS, which was Students for Democratic Action or whatever it was called.

MELBER: Society.

LEBOWITZ: Society.

They had a big strike at Columbia, and they broke into the president`s office. And there was a guy who had a picture of himself taken, let himself, but with his feet on the desk of the president smoking a cigar.

Now, he was older than me. So I was a teenager. And even as a young teenager, I looked at that picture, and I thought, you`re a jerk. I mean, just as -- you`re a clown. That`s like the stupidest thing.

And when I saw that guy with his feet on the desk of Nancy Pelosi, I thought the same thing. You`re a clown. This guy was well into his 50s, it looked like to me. And when he said, this is my desk, I thought, first of all, you don`t have a desk. Not only is this not your desk. I`m guessing you`re not a desk guy.

I`m guessing the last time you had a desk, you were in detention in junior high school.

It was incredibly angering. And I think that`s what he did that.

And he has the same attitude as a teenager. It`s a teenage thing. A lot of this stuff is adolescent, except that they`re not kids, and they have guns. And they are allowed to vote. And so they`re very dangerous, in a way that teenagers generally are not very dangerous.

MELBER: And do you see that in the current moment as overrepresented by largely male and often a white male movement that is terrified of losing its station, its historical position?

LEBOWITZ: Yes, of course, that`s what it is. It`s fear.

I mean, these people in general are the most fearful people I have ever even heard of in my life. This thing with guns, every time you see them on the news or whatever or read in the paper, they`re always saying: I am entitled to defend myself. I`m entitled to defend my family.

And I think: Who`s after you? I mean, I lived alone in New York City as a 21-year-old girl in an apartment that not -- forget had a doorman, didn`t even have an intercom system, OK? New York was incredibly dangerous then.

It never occurred to me to get a gun. I wasn`t that scared. I wasn`t scared enough to get a gun. I would never even thought of a gun.

MELBER: You were scared enough to pay more to live in the Village?

LEBOWITZ: Yes, but not scared enough to have a gun. A gun is -- to me, truthfully, a gun is a stupid thing. It`s just -- it`s a sign of stupidity. It`s a stupid thing.


MELBER: Writers do have a way with words. And that was some of the serious stuff.

We also had fun discussing Lebowitz`s friendship and work with Scorsese. Here are a few of those highlights.


MELBER: New York.

LEBOWITZ: I mean, that`s too broad a question, I`m sorry. New York what? New York.

MELBER: New York City?

LEBOWITZ: Yes, yes, New York. Yes, that`s my answer.

MELBER: Martin Scorsese.



LEBOWITZ: All the things that brought me here today were all the things I was punished for my entire childhood.

Frances asks too many questions. Frances speaks out of turn.

MELBER: What did a driving a cab teach you?

LEBOWITZ: That I hate to work.

It is true that books, to me, I have a deep reverence for.

MELBER: Your next book will come out if?

LEBOWITZ: If I write it.


LEBOWITZ: I hope I didn`t give the impression that I have a lot of unpublished work. I don`t.



LEBOWITZ: The truth is very rarely positive.

MELBER: You seem constitutionally negative.

LEBOWITZ: They would say, we have the results of your COVID test. You`re negative. And I would say, I know that.


LEBOWITZ: Being judgmental, to me, just means I have standards.


MELBER: Standards.

This is from the new interview with Lebowitz. It`s part of our Summit Series, talks with leaders at the summit of their fields.

That was part of it. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube. Go to our @THEBEATWITHARI Twitter page, where it`s the top link, or search Melber and Lebowitz on YouTube right now.

There`s a lot more in the interview than we aired tonight.



MELBER: COVID is surging and vaccines work, that has been part of the theme coming out of Washington and that we have been covering.

The CDC is mulling whether to somehow revise masks guidance, given the variants.

Now, last night, Dr. Fauci himself was here. And he defended President Biden`s handling of the challenge of the new variants, and also discussed with clarity what America is facing.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: 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.

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: Statistics matter. Facts matter.

There is a pandemic raging among the unvaccinated in America. And getting vaccinated reduces your risk of getting COVID and basically crashes your risk of getting the kind of COVID that can kill you -- so a final thought tonight.

That does it for us. As always, thanks for watching THE BEAT.

"THE REIDOUT" is up next.