Chris Matthews discusses his new book, "This Country: My Life in Politics and History." Congressman Adam Schiff discusses the start of the insurrection committee hearings. A Donald Trump associate pleads not guilty in court. COVID continues surging among the unvaccinated in the United States.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Good to see you.
I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And we have an important show tonight. Chairman Schiff joins us here on the eve of the first January 6 investigation committee`s hearing.
And we begin with this.
I will tell you that, sometimes, in the news, we have a new story that echoes an old one. And the news tonight, in this summer of 2021, is starting to look a lot like last summer, if you look around and pay attention. It`s looking like other periods where America has been battling this rising COVID problem, even when there are available solutions to curb it.
COVID is surging today among the unvaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This pandemic is spiraling out of control yet again. And it`s spiraling out of control because we don`t have enough people vaccinated.
There`s also real harm to you, because guess what? More mitigation is coming, whether it`s masking or whether it`s closures or whether it`s your kids having to return to virtual learning. That is coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The U.S. daily case count has more than doubled to 50,000. And people who need hospital care, a sign that they`re in a bad COVID situation, has surged up 58 percent over the last two weeks alone.
These are numbers you need to know. The hardest-hit places are often areas with anti-COVID politics, misinformation problems, and low vaccination. One in five of the new cases are in Florida, Alabama hurting. With only about one out of three people vaccinated there, the number of people going to the hospital in Alabama has more than tripled just this month.
And like so many other polarized issues, we are seeing emerging a story of two pandemics in America during this period of an available vaccine. We have the places with the higher vaccine rates that are doing better, and they`re increasingly quicker to issue even onerous rules for a largely vaccinated population.
New York City and L.A. will now require vaccines for their cities` rather large work force. The VA federally is mandating vaccines for their medical workers. That`s the first federal agency to do so.
And, overall, just over half the country has at least one dose, Dr. Fauci continuing to stress the low vaccination rates are courting a deepening COVID relapse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: You are probably going to have like 100 million people who are not vaccinated. With that many unvaccinated people going into the fall, with the Delta variant as efficient as it is in transmitting, we could have a really serious problem with a considerable surge of infections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is not a drill.
Everyone can make their own choices about their health. But many people are trying to make these choices in a framework of misinformation or outright lies. Caregivers note that social media and the media seem to be the main causes driving people to hold out on the vaccine.
Some health officials are blatantly pleading with outlets like FOX News to provide more accurate information, so their vaccine-hesitant viewers may not be led away from a potentially lifesaving option.
Now, I began this report for you just a few minutes ago noting how surging COVID can feel like an echo of last summer, or moments we have all lived together recently.
But the main difference is as obvious as it is tragic. This time, unlike last summer, there is a scientifically sound, widely tested antidote to COVID, a vaccine that`s widely available in this comparatively rich nation that we all live in here.
But experts say, whatever the wealth that allows vaccines to be so widely available here, something that many other parts of the world would crave to get, the experts say we are still poor when it comes to scientific literacy, which leads many to reject the one thing that could save them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ISABEL PEDRAZA, CEDARS-SINAI MEDICAL CENTER: It`s a little like being on the Titanic and offering people lifeboats and having them repeatedly turn you down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by Dr. Kavita Patel, former Obama health adviser with Brookings, and Juanita Tolliver, an MSNBC analyst.
Doctor, it is getting worse. And we`re seeing more and more of the public health energy being to put towards public health messaging.
DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Ari, it`s unfortunate.
But, as you showed in some of the clips, I mean, we`re trying to stave off those very blunt kind of policy -- staying at home, restrictions around attendance, indoor gathering, and, of course, this kind of mask mandate, but that`s where we are.
And we`re looking to other countries to try to seek out, where are we in this? Are we weeks away from peaking? The truth, Ari, is that we just don`t know because it`s a moving calculus. We have got a variant with a population that has kind of wide varieties of vaccine timetables, people who were vaccinated as early as December of last year, and that might have waning immunity -- it`s why the issue of a booster shot becomes relevant -- to people who are getting vaccinated for the first time today.
So this is something that, you`re right, it does feel like deja vu to sit here and talk about surges and hospitals and work force shortages. But, as you point out, we actually have essentially as close to a cure as possible in the form of a vaccine.
The messaging is complicated. You even -- you`re seeing many of us kind of turn against each other, pro-mass mandate, anti-mask mandate. I will just put it here. I`m pro-vaccine. And anything we can do short of that is mitigation, because we just have too many people who are unvaccinated.
And it doesn`t have to be this way. Sometimes, we think about these things that we say, well, they`re intractable debates, and there are certainly areas of health or long-term planning where you have these trade-offs.
But we`re actually coming in very nearly last when it comes to having just a basic scientific understanding of the vaccine, which I say is distinct from someone with the right facts and information deciding they don`t want it. OK.
But if you have the wrong facts, well, what -- everything after that is sort of garbage in, garbage out. "The Times" has an extensive report on this today I want to read from. The Delta variant, they note, is a bigger of a -- a symptom, I should say, of a bigger threat, which is the vaccine refusal.
"Were a wider swathe of the population vaccinated, there would be no resurgence right now of the Delta variant or the Alpha variant or any other version of the coronavirus," "The Times" says in this report.
And this is what I want to ask you about -- quote -- "America is one of the few countries with enough vaccines at its disposal to protect every resident, and yet it has the highest rates of vaccine hesitance or refusal of any nation doctor, except Russia."
PATEL: Yes, well, Ari, I think what gives is that we have -- it`s actually the same thing that has plagued us when we have people who still believe that Donald Trump is the actual president. We have people who still believe that January 6 was actually not a terrorist event, people who still believe that 9/11 was a conspiracy.
So, there`s unfortunately -- this -- people want this to have started with the coronavirus. It`s been starting for decades. Ari, those of us in health care have seen this when we saw entire pockets of neighborhoods in the country who refused the measles vaccine for their children, and started to propagate, through social media mainly, kind of this myth about the association of those vaccines and long-term health outcomes.
So we have been fighting this fight for decades. And I think now we`re all kind of feeling it in our forefront, because it`s affecting literally every person this planet.
I will add, though, that I`m starting to see data coming out of other countries, and they`re seeing what Americans are doing, Ari. We`re actually kind of spreading our poor behaviors, because even countries that don`t have access to the vaccines that we do are looking and they`re saying, well, if Americans are not taking it, but why should we take it?
That is absolutely the worst thing that could happen, when we actually now can offer in the next, hopefully, six to 12 months vaccines to everyone on the planet.
MELBER: Yes, I mean, Juanita, that goes right to the heart of it, which is COVID is contagious, but so, apparently, is ignorance and stupidity.
And when I talk about, for example, people who consume other media, I`m talking about them as citizens. They may not be predominantly our viewers, as a media matter, but I`m thinking a little bigger than that. I`m thinking about their well-being and safety.
And so, if you look at, for example, this poll regarding FOX News viewers, percent vaccinated again -- again, this is a little meta, but I think it`s sort of interesting -- you can see there at the bottom of this chart here at 62 percent. And it goes up to network news, there`s around 79, and MSNBC, CNN, 83 percent.
And so one of the reasons we show this is not just to talk about the press, Juanita, but to talk about the actual public health reality that, whether it`s chicken or egg, there are people who either are consuming a certain type of information or are drawn to it because of their pre-held beliefs, but either way, Juanita, they`re not coming up with a factual framework and then saying pass, which is fine, because, again, I think people have their own rights.
But studies show they`re misinformed, they don`t understand how safe this is, and thus they`re putting themselves and their families at risk.
JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s exactly right, Ari.
And what I appreciate also about the part and the numbers you just showed was, even compared to a different time period six weeks ago, FOX News has held stagnant at the low 60s, whereas other networks have jumped up by five and nine points each.
And so what`s frustrating here is that, when we see that clip circulating of Hannity last week, and everybody`s applauding this, I`m like, no, no, FOX News needs to dedicate the same amount of time and energy they dedicated to spreading lies and misinformation over the past 19 months in order to put a dent in the harm that they have caused, while hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people have been consuming that media, choosing not to get vaccinated, choosing not to protect themselves.
And so the only way for this to balance out is to get this misinformation under control. And you`re right. That does extend to social media, because that`s what we`re seeing on the ground. That is a reason why people are not getting vaccinated.
They see one chart, they see one quote, and they run with it. They hold on to it like a vise grip because it affirms whatever they`re already feeling. It affirms whatever they`re already fearing.
And so they stick to that. At what cost though, Ari? At the cost of their life, potentially, as we`re seeing this Delta variant spread. And so I completely agree with you. This should not be a political matter. This should be about facts. This should be about science.
But with the regular spread and the stream of disinformation over 18 months, 19 months, since the start of this pandemic, that has eroded trust, not only in science, but also in government. And that`s why you have people holding out on this vaccine right now.
MELBER: Yes. I think that`s all important.
And this really is about people. That`s why I mentioned we have been living through it. And if you look at the COVID patients who`ve gotten into a tough spot, we`re hearing more and more about ones who, even in this late stage, in the summer, saying, well, wait a minute, maybe they should have gotten the vaccine.
There`s a conservative radio host, Phil Valentine, he was hospitalized after downplaying vaccines on the air. And he said publicly he regrets not being more vehemently pro-vaccine.
An Alabama doctor reveals patients have been begging her for the vaccine, but she can only inform them as they suffer with late-stage COVID systems it`s too late.
One mother lost her son. His dying words to her, which we share with you tonight on this broadcast, were -- quote -- "This is not a hoax. This is real."
It is a tragic and sad part of the way we are processing what has already been a tragic and sad period for the world over the last year-and-a-half, these experiences becoming all too common in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH GARZA, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: If I could do it all over again, I would get it, no doubt. I wish people would at least reconsider or at least listen to what we went through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have to go on the vent, or you get put in the hospital or ICU, you get segregated from your family because they can`t get to you, that`s all the answer that you need on vaccination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Doctor, I want to give you the final thought here in this segment on that, because we have been covering this for a long time.
In journalism, we look at information and evidence. In medicine, you do all of that. You do evidence, scientific rigor, and you also deal with the humanity, the bedside realities.
When I see these stories, it just makes me think about the difference between knowledge and experience. And knowledge is what we gather from public information and other sources, and experience is what we live through. And we all understand, as human beings, why experience can be a more searing teacher.
And yet, at this juncture, what can we do? How do you as a doctor and a public health messenger try to impress upon people that this is not the type of life situation that you need to learn from experience...
MELBER: ... that you will be far better served taking the knowledge and others` experiences to protect yourself?
PATEL: Yes, Ari, well said.
And I have been trying to take people who have had those experiences and kind of come out and been out of the hospital, young people especially, and actually ask them to kind of be ambassadors themselves and talk to as many people as they can about not only their experiences, but kind of the knowledge that they have gained.
I think you`re exactly right. I am not getting anywhere as a physician by just spewing facts to people. So, you actually have to do both. You have to almost walk people through the knowledge and the experience, and then the consequences of kind of not acting on that knowledge or not having that experience.
Not everyone is going to be hospitalized, as you know. Not everyone is going to -- not everyone`s going to have an unfortunate outcome. But we need to have people understand the consequences.
And, Ari, we`re at the point -- you have talked about this with mandates. I`m at the point now where I`m saying your consequence is that you are not going to be a part of society the way you thought you might be before the pandemic. And that`s very real.
And sometimes, Ari, that`s actually the behavior change. It`s a lot like counseling patients to stop smoking. The highest percentage of people that I can get to stop smoking are after they`re discharged from a hospitalization.
The analogy to that is kind of the reentry into society. We`re all sitting here talking to each other kind of feeling this emotional psychology, because we have been here before. We need people to understand that we don`t have to be here again and that their actions matter.
MELBER: Appreciate that.
And Dr. Patel gets the last word on that in this segment.
Juanita Tolliver, thanks as well to you.
We`re going to keep moving, because we have Chairman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee and one of the investigative members of the new January 6 probe. The first hearing is tomorrow. He`s my special guest tonight.
Also, a Trump ally surrendering a passport and pleading not guilty in federal court.
But, first, the one and only Chris Matthews is here discussing the changes he`s seen and lived through in Washington and beyond.
Chris Matthews coming up tonight live on THE BEAT.
MELBER: President Biden continues to push for a sweeping and expensive agenda.
It`s an ambitious vision of what he thinks the role of the federal government can be right now, amidst distrust of all kinds of institutions, including that fomented on the right.
It`s an interesting and important juncture. And we are thrilled to tell you we will be breaking it down with our friend and MSNBC host Chris Matthews.
Today, Biden celebrated the anniversary of the American Disabilities Act and touted its bipartisan roots back to the `90s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a Democratic bill signed by a Republican president, a product of passion and compassion, not partisanship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s true. It was a bipartisan achievement. Then-Senator Biden co-sponsored it. Republican President Bush signed it.
Biden today also urging that people listen to the science, as we have been covering, and get vaccinated.
But that`s where the story turns. You have both parties who once were united on something that was based on medical realities. There are disabilities. Here`s how the government can deal with them. There was some sort of common understanding.
But, right now, you have a partisan war over a similarly seemingly simple thing: Here`s how the virus works. Here`s the vaccine solve it.
Conspiracy theories abound. Basic statements of fact are contested by a lot of bad-faith actors and people with huge megaphones.
And the data shows some of this confusion. There`s a recent poll from the independent Gallup organization that shows the trust in key American institutions dropping 10 points in the past decade. And it really runs the gamut. You see overall trust. You see public schools, religion, the banks, and even, yes, in the middle there, less trust in our medical system.
This hostility towards institutions is a real part of our politics now, and it`s something that many have capitalized on when you look at Donald Trump`s big lie, which turned into the violence on January 6, which will be under investigation tomorrow.
Now, everyone has the right to protest, just like people have the right to make their own decisions about health and their bodies. There are many factors here around vaccine hesitancy and refusal. And, as we have noted on our program, this is not exclusively right-wing either. There`s left-wing groups and other types on Facebook that are also pushing vaccine hesitancy.
But is this a crossroads? We were looking back at the tape. President Obama also had to deal with scientifically challenging new things. There was swine flu. And there was all that distrust of then-President Obama on the right.
But it was not that controversial at the time when he talked about believing in science.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An infant in Texas has died as a result of this virus. This is obviously a serious situation, serious enough to take the utmost precautions.
We know the science. We know how to prevent it from spreading. If we take the proper steps, we can save lives. Our plans and decisions are based on the best scientific information available. And, as the situation changes, we will continue to update the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Why does it feel like we`re going backwards?
Well, we have just a big thinker to get into it.
Chris Matthews with us on all of this -- when we`re back after just 60 seconds.
MELBER: As promised, joining me now is Chris Matthews. You know him from MSNBC and "HARDBALL."
We know him right now from this "New York Times" bestselling book "This Country: My Life in Politics and History."
I want to show people some of the great images, including the great words. It chronicles your time in Washington, Chris, your meeting with presidents, running for office, serving, as some may or may not recall, as a Capitol Hill police officer, and so many of the other events that you have had a front-row seat to because of the way you lived your life and career.
And I know I speak for some other people who watch MSNBC to say it`s great to see you today. Thanks for being here.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, AUTHOR, "THIS COUNTRY: MY LIFE IN POLITICS AND HISTORY": Thank you. Ari, you`re great. Thank you.
MELBER: In our setup, we looked at something you know a lot about, which is that politics has always been rough and had its clashes, but it does seem like the truth problems are getting worse today. Your view?
MATTHEWS: Well, I think it comes down to numbers.
You look at 35 percent or so who don`t believe in science right now. And I hold one person responsible, Donald Trump. I think he has spread the word that chaos is good, don`t trust anybody but me. It`s a cult.
I mean, if the numbers were 17 percent or something like that, we wouldn`t be worried. But this is chaotic because of one person. The person who could have gone either way, they could have gone with the science or not, has been swayed by Trump and the others, Hannity and the rest of them.
But this division, I don`t know anything to compare it with, because, after 9/11, this country, you could feel it in the streets of New York. We were united. We were. We saw a common enemy and we faced it down as a country.
And I think we`re still capable of doing that if we had leaders. This Trump guy is bad news for the country. I hold him personally responsible.
It sort of reminds me, when I was 8 or 9 years old, my brother would run for the Yankees. So, being the number two brother and maverick, I had to root for Cleveland, OK? But it`s this idiotic sort of -- if there`s science that says something, then Trump, being the idiot, comes out -- or pretending to be the idiot -- he`s not an idiot -- but he spreads the word it`s OK not to say it`s true.
But, as, Pat Moynihan, the great senator from New York, once said, you`re entitled to your own views and your own opinions, but not to your own facts. The facts are there. Fauci is right. Rand Paul is wrong.
I love the fact he pointed him and the face and said, you`re the one lying here. I mean, it`s about time we got it down to brass tacks. It`s bad news.
But so much of this goes back to the bigger problem in the world you and I are in, which is concerned about democracy. And I got to tell you, I went through my life writing this book about my life. And what I came through the heroic moments that really got to me emotionally was when I found the people fighting for democracy, whether it was at the Berlin Wall in 1989, or it was in South Africa when apartheid went down, or it was in Northern Ireland when they ended the Troubles and the killing of Protestant, Catholic, and they agreed to decide the future of Northern Ireland on democracy, by an election.
They agreed to rule South Africa, not by whites, but by election, by majority rule. And the people at the Berlin Wall, they didn`t say, I`m against socialism, I`m for capitalism. The people I talked to said, we want to be able to decide. We just want to have elections.
And that`s what Trump`s really lied about. What he`s really -- the great fact he will not bring truth to is, he lost, just like he won in `16. He won. It`s hard for a lot of Democrats to accept that. But he did win a narrow election, thanks to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan
Same deal happened thanks to -- because of Arizona and the other states in `20. The truth is, he lost. He lied about that. He`s not been helpful in getting the truth out.
If he would just change right now today and call a press conference or put out something instead, I believe we have got to get masks on, we have got to masks on again probably now, because we have been lying, but we certainly have to get the vaccinations.
He could really be almost like a USO celebrity going around the country. He could be the Bob Hope of vaccinations, if he wanted to. But he doesn`t want to do it.
And that`s the hell he`s created. He wants chaos. He doesn`t want to be a good person, even when it`s so clear that we`re going back into the troubled area we were in last year. We`re going back, without some real leadership right now. And that`s going to take some leadership on the right.
We have got good leadership on the center-left from the Biden and from the left. We`re not getting any -- and some center-right even. But we`re not getting anything from the right. And we need him to do it.
If I can pray for him to do it, I would do it. I don`t think he`s going to do it, the right thing.
MELBER: Well, you talk about that, and that patriotism, and it comes up in the book as you go through different parts of your life experience, including public service, and then being around public service.
And part of that patriotism, properly understood, is that it puts the hope of democracy far above the reality of daily politics. Something that Trump...
MELBER: ... and his followers have been able to do is get everyone`s frustration with politics and make that the whole thing. There`s not even that greater appeal.
I mean, do you see anyone on the right, in your view, that is able to withstand this? Because McConnell said it was an insurrection for a day, and then went back along with MAGA and everything else.
Well, everybody on the right is not always wrong. That`s obviously true. I mean, Nikki Haley brought the flag down in South Carolina. I thought that was a wonderful moment, to take down the Confederate Battle Flag. It had to happen. She did it at the right time. She did it with gusto.
And people like Lindsey Graham followed her lead. She was a leader. It`s possible that somebody on the right can do something right. There`s -- we have got people like governors in the Northeastern United States who are doing the right thing, Baker and the others.
And I think it`s -- they`re quite capable of taking leadership. But there`s one guy that has to do it, a person. And that`s Donald Trump, because he can tell that other network, FOX, what to say, because if he came out and really came out loud and clear for getting our vaccinations, I think the others like Hannity and the rest of them, Laura Ingraham, those people would go along with him.
He`s the leader, the leader of the pack. And I`d like to see him do. I wish he -- I wish the left, everybody would say, OK, we`re going to give you a break now. You still have a chance to do something right here. You can still do this, this one thing. You can get out there on television, whatever media is available to you, and say the right thing. Please, we can`t have 35 percent of the country unvaccinated.
We can live with maybe 15 percent. Get it down to half. He could do that. He couldn`t get all the crazies, but I bet he could get half the crazies.
MATTHEWS: Because he`s responsible for them doing this.
MATTHEWS: He said...
MATTHEWS: The big tycoon in New York, with all the money and the big building, he says to them, I`m smart as anybody. I went to Penn. I went to Wharton. I`m smart. Listen to me.
And he didn`t -- he didn`t come through and tell the truth. He didn`t.
Anyway, thanks for talking about the book.
MATTHEWS: I really believe in democracy. I know you do.
I wish everybody in America...
MELBER: Let me -- I got my last question for you.
This is my last question, because I have going through the book. We have some of the photos here. So many MSNBC viewers know you and cherish you. I know that because people still come up to ask about you.
And on behalf of all of them, I will say hey. They want to know how you`re doing. You`re doing great.
But what were the roles or the jobs or the moments for you? Now that you have put it all together here, you have had time to reflect, it`s in the book, what`s the job you`re most proud of? Was it police officer? Was it candidate? Was it journalist? That`s my final question.
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess it was at the Berlin Wall, when I was able to go over.
I didn`t even wait for my editor to send me. I was with the newspapers in those days, "San Francisco Examiner." I just went. I said, they`re going to -- they`re going to accept the fact -- the wall is coming down. I`m going.
And I`m standing at the wall on a drizzly night. It was a Wednesday night in November of 1989. And the wall is just starting to open up. And there`s some young people standing at the Brandenburg Gate, the great divide between East and West.
And I talked to a young guy who looked like he`s from Berkeley in the 1960s, the free speech movement. He had a -- you know the uniform. I used to wear it. It was the Army surplus jacket, long hair.
And I said to him: "What`s freedom mean to you?"
And he said: "Talking to you."
And what he meant was, not me, Chris Matthews, but of talking openly about politics in a country that`s never allowed people to have free expression, at least not when the wall went up. And he meant to do what we do every night, right, that every night you still do, talking honestly about what our feelings and our concerns and our worries about our country, the honesty that comes from the First Amendment, I guess.
And he was saying, this is the first time that -- a young nurse was standing next to him and said, at that moment: "We couldn`t talk like this three weeks ago."
And so freedom is priceless.
MATTHEWS: We have got it. We got to use it.
And I worry about a guy like Trump, who is basically a cult leader, denying the truth of the election of 2020 and being willing, apparently, to keep lying about it...
MELBER: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: ... and lying about it -- basically, it`s indifference.
MELBER: Well... .
MATTHEWS: Because he`s been vaccinated, damn it. He`s been vaccinated. And all these other people haven`t.
MATTHEWS: They have been lying about the importance of the vaccine.
MELBER: A lot of them.
And Tucker and a lot of the guys over there, they have got their vaccinations, they have got the rules. The rules are good enough for them to keep them safe, while other people suffer.
Chris, it`s great to see you again. I love what you said in closing, freedom, like health and life itself, boy, you cherish it, if you were worried about losing it.
MATTHEWS: We`re lucky.
MELBER: Our thanks to Chris Matthews.
The book here, the book on the screen, "This Country: My Life in Politics and History," get it wherever you get your books.
Up ahead, we have a legal report on a Trump ally surrendering their passport in federal court.
And the January 6 committee we were just discussing with Chris has a new member. Its first hearing is tomorrow.
And a key player, Congressman Adam Schiff, on THE BEAT, on all of it -- next.
MELBER: After much debate and intrigue, this January 6 committee will hold its first official public hearing tomorrow, including testimony from Capitol Hill and Washington police.
Speaker Pelosi tapping Congressman Kinzinger to join Congresswoman Cheney as two of the Republicans who round out this bipartisan committee. They also are critics of Donald Trump and voted to impeach him over the insurrection.
These two Republicans, though, facing pushback from the Trump wing of the party, including their leader, McCarthy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Kevin McCarthy called you a Pelosi Republican. How do you respond to that?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Look, it`s childish. We`re doing big things right now.
We`re getting to the answers of the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We have important work to do. And I think that`s pretty childish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s the pressure on those committee members.
Meanwhile, America seems far less divided than part of the Republican Party; 72 percent of the nation includes people saying there is at least something more to learn about this riot and many unanswered questions.
Joining me now is someone at the center of all of this, including prior investigations of Donald Trump`s misconduct, Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California. He chairs the Intelligence Committee and oversaw that first Trump impeachment. He also will serve on this pivotal January 6 committee.
Thank you for being here, sir.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Good to be with you.
MELBER: Let`s start with the framework of your membership here on the committee. You have got a lot of experience. I think viewers have come to know some of the role you have played in investigations.
How will you be working with the two Republicans the speaker put on the committee? And why is it important, do you think, to the speaker -- you`re part of her leadership team as a chair -- to make sure there are Republicans on the committee, but ones who are, in her view, committed to the integrity of the probe?
SCHIFF: Well, so far, we have really been working seamlessly.
Ideally, this investigation should be nonpartisan. And that`s very much how we`re approaching it. I think Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney approaching it in very much the same fashion. We all want to get to the truth. We want to provide a thorough, objective report to the American people about what went into that terrible day, why we didn`t get reinforcements when the attack was under way, what the knowledge was before that day, and, most importantly, what do we do to protect the country going forward?
Those aren`t partisan questions. And we`re all determined to bring a serious approach to this. And I think those two Republicans are every bit as adamant about getting to the truth as we are.
MELBER: I appreciate your point on doing it without partisanship. And a lot of this is about facts and evidence, which shouldn`t be partisan at all.
We have seen more videos. We have learned more from some of these opened DOJ probes, as you know. But there`s also the aspect of, what did the president know and when did he know it, which speaks to the role that he and others may have had, not only in bringing all those people to Washington, but then in what to do about what became the insurrection.
Congressman McCarthy has sort of started to migrate on whether he would provide testimony to you or to your committee. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6 if you were asked by an outside commission?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Sure.
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?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He has evidence, being a part of one of those pivotal conversations with then President Trump.
Do you think that his testimony is necessary in this investigation. And, if he refuses, would you seek ways to try to compel it?
SCHIFF: Well, I`m not surprised to hear him hedging now.
I think he was willing to make those statements when he didn`t think there would be an investigation, when he thought they had successfully killed the commission that was first proposed and was the product of negotiations between Democrat Chair Bennie Thompson and Republican John Katko. Now he seems to be singing a different tune.
But, look, that conversation might very well have had to do with why the Capitol was so ill-prepared and protected. We don`t know what the administration knew in advance about these white nationalist groups that were going to be participating in that rally that had preplanned this attack on the Capitol. And we don`t know why it took so long to bring in the National Guard and other reinforcements.
So, if that call is relevant, if his testimony is relevant, then I`m sure we will seek it.
MELBER: How are you going to distinguish between what might be called protected speech, however fanciful or obnoxious it may be, around January 6, for example, some of the Republicans who spoke at the rally and talked about not certifying the result?
But of course, they technically have that choice to make. They have that ability to decide whether to certify or not. How do you distinguish between that and what we saw in some of the militia organizing, the Proud Boys, the efforts to actually use violence to, however sloppily, try to have some sort of citizen coup?
Where`s that line for you, as an investigator?
SCHIFF: Well, our role is going to be to fully uncover the facts.
What is it that people did at that rally to instigate violence? How many of them went to that rally fully planning to do violence even before it began? Where was the financing for it? What role did the administration play in it?
The decision about whether it`s First Amendment-protected activity or its violence directed at the Capitol and directed at people in the Capitol, those decisions are really ultimately made by the Justice Department in deciding who to prosecute. That won`t be our role in this committee.
But it will be our role to lay out, in a very objective fashion, what role each of those components played in what ended up being that bloody attack on the Capitol.
MELBER: Is there in writing or anywhere a clear sort of framework for where your work begins and ends?
For example, we were covering the horrific plan to bomb political headquarters of one of the major parties, the Democratic Party, in California. That comes out of a context of right-wing hate speech and other things, but it comes far after January 6.
Now that this committee is really going, and you have got your experience with investigations, how will you define those boundaries? And will the public know in real time sort of where your inquiry starts and ends?
SCHIFF: Well, we begin with the organizing documents.
So, the legislation establishing the January 6 select committee will be the paramount guide. But then, now that we`re constituted, we will sit down with our staff, and we will map out, OK, what`s the scope of what we`re going to look at within what`s defined by the statute?
Now, as we learn more, that scope may expand because there are things related to January 6. But the focus is January 6. The focus also is in preventing this from happening again. And to the degree that other things are relevant to that, they will be relevant.
But there is plenty to uncover about what took place that day. And so we will have more than our plate full with that. But we intend to follow the evidence where it leads and be guided by the language of the statute.
MELBER: And final question, Congressman.
I know it`s early yet, but we always want to ask these questions because it`s important and interesting to some degree. The 9/11 Commission was seen as a high watermark of some of this. As you mentioned earlier, parts of it were quite nonpartisan in getting through the evidence.
And, ultimately, it provided a framework for some policy changes. There are older examples. The Church Committee came out of allegations of government misconduct and led to reforms to surveillance.
Given your experience here, do you see any avenues where you might hope that not only do you find facts, but you could provide some nonpartisan framework for things that might be better improved?
Because, when you put some of this -- some of the Republican lies to the side, I would at least help the most Americans look at this and say, anything reasonable that can be done to prevent anything like this ever getting near the Capitol or near security targets again would be worth considering.
SCHIFF: Well, absolutely.
And that`s really the goal, is to write a report that has credibility with the American people and recommendations that we can get buy-in for and implement like the 9/11 Commission.
Now, I don`t need to tell you we`re at a different place in our country`s history right now than we were a 9/11 and we were when the Church Committee was established. It`s a much more polarized country. Our information is more balkanized.
So, in that respect, the job of our committee is going to be more difficult than it has in the past. But we`re just going to have to work harder at it, because, at the end of the day, protecting the country going forward is what this is all about.
One final note, and that is, this was ultimately an attack on the Capitol motivated by people who could not accept losing an election, and made the decision that they would use violence to achieve a political object that they can`t at the ballot box.
And that danger to our democracy is one we`re going to have to address. And it will be part of the scope of what we look at. But that`s a big, important question for the whole country that we`re going to have to wrestle this.
MELBER: A member of this new commission, as well as Intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff.
Thank you, sir.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MELBER: And ahead, we look at a top Trump ally getting arraigned today, giving up a passport. Can`t use the private planes. This is what it looks like when you are actually indicted, pressure building in Trump world, with more and more individuals indicted.
Professor Melissa Murray is with me on that and a whole lot more next.
MELBER: An influential and wealthy Trump associate, Tom Barrack, was arraigned in federal court today, pleading officially not guilty to these charges that he illegally lobbied for a foreign country, the UAE, and obstructed justice.
Trump`s former inaugural chair greeted by protesters as he was walking into court -- he`s been basically extradited from a different state -- going into Brooklyn`s Eastern district.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTER: It`s our democracy! It`s our democracy, not yours! Traitor.
PROTESTER: Two hundred and million dollars is a lot of money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Two hundred and million dollars is a lot of money, the protests are referencing the bond, which is actually one of the largest ever in history.
And it speaks to why this is no ordinary case. Now, part of the bail agreement this Trump associate, Barrack, surrendered his passport, agrees not to travel by private plane at all, and not to conduct any foreign business transactions.
It was a familiar scene for Donald Trump`s aides and associates. And it`s not something that people should take for granted or think is normal, having this many people connected to a president going into court, sometimes surrounded by protesters, always by the press, facing their judgment day for serious federal felonies.
I`m joined now by NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray.
Thanks for being here.
MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Mr. Barrack faces some pretty serious charges, including, adding insult to injury, the feds think they have a strong obstruction case for him sitting with them and just lying to their face about things that are harder to explain, I mean, really tangible things with records.
What comes next in a case like this? And how vital was it for him, at a hefty price, to remain free before trial?
MURRAY: Well, as you said, the $250 million bond was significant. But that, of course, was the price of him going free.
It also reflects the fact that he is a person of considerable means. He has access to means of travel, including a private jet. He also has significant foreign ties. And, of course, that`s really the crux of what`s going on here in this indictment.
He`s been charged with one count of being an unregistered foreign agent, and then another account for conspiracy to be -- an unregistered foreign agent, and then, as you say, these other ancillary charges that really relate to lying to the FBI -- or that is the allegation, obstruction of justice, and then four counts of material false statements.
So, they`re really considerable. But, again, the fact that the bond is so high suggests that this is someone that the court really thought was a flight risk.
MELBER: When you look at what the trial -- the trial that he`s facing, if I were guessing, this seems like a situation where someone who was willing to plea could get something decent, perhaps avoiding any jail time, or something that would be relatively minor, based on what we know about those arrangements.
By all accounts, he is fighting, and he`s been a successful business fighter all his life. So he`s fighting this to the mat. What would be key to his defense at trial? I imagine that skilled lawyers would try to really get inside a jury`s head about what it means to be a lobbyist. And if he didn`t really think he was one -- and he could say he`d never been one prior in his life, so that`s not his thing -- then this was more of a mistake than a sinister crime.
MURRAY: That`s right.
I think everything will turn on his mental state or his intent. Did he know that what he was doing qualified as representing a foreign government, in this case, the United Arab Emirates? Or did he simply think he was just sort of doing what ordinary businessmen do? And that would not be a crime, if they could show that he did not have the intent or the knowledge that this was a crime, that he was willfully engaging in it.
So that`s certainly something that defense lawyers could bring up. And he certainly has access to a really great team of defense lawyers, given his considerable wealth.
But, again, some of these other things, I think, are a lot harder to evade. The material false statement charges, again, you have to show that you did not know you were telling an untruth to the FBI when you are being questioned. That may be harder, and a lot will really depend on whether or not a jury buys that this was someone, a savvy businessman who is really sort of well-connected in this particular world, did not know exactly what he was doing and did not know when he was speaking to the authorities that he was telling them false statements.
MELBER: Right, and whether, as part of the mood music, he thought that he was so tight with the administration that ran the DOJ at the time, that this was, to him, not a crazy risk to take, because he thought he would get away with it, which is something that does unite many criminals, from small-time to billionaires.
Again, he is legally presumed innocent until trial.
Professor Murray, thank you, as always.
MURRAY: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: Thank you.
When we come back: a new voice speaking out on justice reform.
MELBER: A major up-and-coming artist -- you may have heard of Lil Nas X -- using his platform to discuss problems with cash bail we wanted to tell you about.
A new song and video, "Industry Baby," tells the story of a man attempting to escape from prison after found guilty, but guilty of being gay. The rapper has been a strong advocate for equality.
Now, this single already trending number one on YouTube, and has been viewed over 33 million times since dropping Friday.
You can go watch the video yourself. It takes on a lot of different issues and layers, but it also raises some money for The Bail Project, a nonprofit that strives to end unfair cash bail systems. And the song features Jack Harlow, "Whats Poppin."
That does it for me.
"THE REIDOUT" starts now, with Tiffany Cross in for Joy.