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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 7/30/21

Guests: Howard Dean, Fab 5 Freddy, Paul Krugman


Economist Paul Krugman discusses COVID and politics. Artist Fab 5 Freddy speaks out. New information emerges about Donald Trump`s attempts to pressure the DOJ to overturn the election. Some Republican officials try to block safety measures recommended to deal with a more contagious version of COVID.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And we begin with this developing news, absolutely bombshell revelations about Donald Trump trying to make the Justice Department not only back the big lie, but overthrow the election and the government, all of this enabled by Republican lawmakers.

Some of this may sound familiar. I`m going to show you exactly why it`s new, because "The New York Times" has the goods. They have the evidence they`re reporting that, in late December, Donald Trump was secretly pressing top Justice Department officials to join him in what would have been a soft coup, to try to compare this election to those that have been invalidated for other reasons, that there would be wide enough corrupt fraud to somehow nullify it.

And this is proven, because the Justice Department has these incriminating notes from the call. These are now public today. You can see the notes here. This is damning evidence revealing really for the first time at this level of internal pressure that Trump was ordering the Justice Department to say the election was corrupt, "And leave the rest to me and the Republican congressman."

I`m going to read that again, because this is evidence we didn`t have during, for example, the impeachment trial about this very issue. These are independent notes from within the highest levels of the Trump administration outing then President Trump for ordering the DOJ to say -- quote -- "The election was corrupt. Leave the rest to me and the R congressmen," the GOP.

It`s a level of plotting that has not been found in internal written evidence before.

Now, this is the kind of thing that is big, but many people would like to sweep under the rug. Many people in MAGA land don`t want this to be the top story tonight, even though it is, because they say, well, it didn`t happen.

But the reason it didn`t happen is because Trump was thwarted. He wasn`t good at the soft coup. The DOJ resisted. The Justice Department does not get in the business of overruling elections.

But the criminal intent was clear. And I don`t use that word lightly. Trying to abuse your public office to fraudulently change the outcome of elections is a crime. Whether Donald Trump ever faces accountability for this is a separate question.

Trump also explicitly mentioned a congressman you probably know about, Jim Jordan, as well as others, Congressman Perry and Senator Johnson, as lawmakers that he saw as people that he believed would be in on the soft coup, people who would use whatever sway or power they had in Congress, he thought, to overthrow the rightful winner of the election, the person who`s in the White House, President Biden.

Trump telling the DOJ those people out there were upset about the inaction of some and said -- quote -- "You guys may not be following the Internet the way I do," again, contemporaneous notes taken at the time.

So we have the evidence of the soft coup. We also have other aspects of this that can seem quite ridiculous. You also have the idea that the Justice Department would somehow have the power to do this.

Let me be clear. Even a more compliant attorney general, or acting attorney general, or someone else that Donald Trump might have dragged into government, thankfully, as a matter of democracy, not partisanship, I tell you, thankfully, would not be able to do this, because the founders didn`t build a system where the people in the White House could flick a switch to cancel elections.

I want to get right to it with our experts.

I`m joined by "Mother Jones" Washington bureau chief David Corn and former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade.

David, you are a reporter and a journalist. You`re an author. You have written books about government corruption. You`re an analyst. You are also someone -- I will say this since I know you -- who at times other people have said, oh, David Corn is overdoing it. David Corn is being too harsh, too tough on Donald Trump in 2015 in 2016.

These are the kinds of notes that would seem to suggest that you, and not just you, but people like you -- Masha Gessen warned about this. We have had "New York Times" reporters who warned about this. We have had professors were warned about this. You were right, according to this note and this evidence.

This is exactly what he meant to do. He just couldn`t pull it off.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, there`s little consolation in saying, I told you so, when our democracy was at risk and continues to be at risk, because he`s still the leader of one of the two major parties in this country.

We have said this a lot in the last 30, 40 years, Ari, but this literally is worse than Watergate. In that instance, Richard Nixon was trying to cover an investigation that would go into what his campaign did, a break- in, right?


And he asked the CIA to tell the FBI it was national security and that and they shouldn`t investigate, the FBI should call off the investigation. That`s what he tried to do, just to stop an investigation.

And this is far worse than this. This is about overturning and subverting an election. It`s quite clear what he`s trying to get them to do, when they don`t have the power to do this. These notes, they not audio, they`re not video, but they are bigger than the smoking gun tape in Watergate that ended Nixon`s presidency.

The only thing that`s different now is that, back then, Republicans, including Barry Goldwater, looked at what Nixon did and said, we can`t go along with this, partisanship aside. This is a danger to the country, to our democratic foundation.

Now you have a Republican Party that says, to hell with all that. The only thing that matters is power and Trump, and Trump is power, and Trump is our power.

And, therefore -- the story just came out, but where are the Republicans saying, enough already? They went along with January 6. They`re going to go along with this. And that`s the big difference between Watergate and now. This is far worse, now this evidence that the president tried to shut down and election, like we`re a banana republic.

And yet one party is going to say, it`s fine. And, remember, Nixon didn`t get away with it either, right? He tried to shut down the FBI. He failed, and he still was open to prosecution and had an impeachment.

So you don`t have to get away with it. You don`t have to succeed before you`re caught and considered guilty.

MELBER: David, you say guilty. There are other people who appear guilty or face incriminating evidence -- that`s as fairly as I can put it -- who want this to go away, who say things like, didn`t we already know this? Haven`t we already debated this? Didn`t they already have an impeachment trial about this?

They seem to really want to launder and normalize it, so it goes away. I have to ask you, David, if just these notes, not everything else we know, but if just these notes came out, for example, about Barack Obama, would that be a big deal in Washington?


CORN: Barack Obama calling his attorney general and saying, can you help me overturn an election?

You can imagine that heads that would explode. This is impeachable. It should be impeachable. And if Barack Obama or any Democrat had done this, we would have gone along with the impeachment proceedings and at least an investigation.

So -- but you have not a party, unfortunately. It sounds hyperbolic to say this, but you have a cult that has decided that its interests are at one, at one with the interests of one man, Donald Trump. And ideology, policy matters, decency, respect for the Constitution, none of that matters.

It`s -- it`s not America first. It`s Trump first. And that`s the bottom line here. So they will come up with any excuse they can to try to deflect and distract from this, the way they did with the first two impeachments and everything that Trump has done and said since he came down that magic elevator -- escalator -- excuse me -- in 2015.

MELBER: Barbara, I want to talk about both Trump`s legal and procedural impotence, as well as the rules.

And by procedural impotence, I mean that he was trying to issue orders. He was trying to use the power he thought he had. He is, under the Constitution, the lawful president until January 20. It would appear from what we`re learning that these orders and requests were heard clearly. They were written down at the time.

And they were not, best we can tell, the key ones here, followed. Does this look to you like an illegal order?


And thank goodness we had people of integrity in Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue, who were at the Justice Department, and refused to comply with these illegal orders. Imagine if, instead, we had somebody there who was willing to execute on these orders.

it`s illegal for a couple of reasons. One is, he was asking them to subvert the results of the election. He was asking them to declare that there was fraud, when there was none. So, number one, he is asking them to issue public lies. He is asking them to abuse their positions as high-level officials at the Justice Department.

It`s a violation of the Hatch Act, which says that people should not use their jobs to engage in political activity. And I would submit it is also a violation of seditious conspiracy, in an effort to overthrow the peaceful transfer of power in the United States.

So I think it`s all of those things.

MELBER: All fair points.

And it goes to why these stories actually have to have accountability. They have to be understood and reported, and "The Times" and others have done the good journalism. And then there has to be a process here -- I guess I sound idealistic -- but for society to understand what`s going on, that this was an attempted coup, that people did resist the orders.

If Donald Trump is reelected -- and the American public can make up their own mind about who to elect -- but, if he`s reelected, David, he`s someone who saw how this worked once.


CORN: Yes.

MELBER: He can try a different way next time. He can decide that Mr. Rosen was not a compliant enough attorney general, that even Mr. Barr, who was -- who left before some of this stuff -- maybe Mr. Barr knew what was coming.

There`s nothing in the Constitution that prevents Donald Trump from just naming Steve Bannon attorney general or the MyPillow guy. And I want to be clear, I`m not joking.


MELBER: He can name all kinds of people. Look at the compliant Congress.

Stay -- both of you, stay with me. I got to get in one more thing of news here.

We have got a reversal coming out of also the DOJ of a 2019 opinion, which now clears the way for Trump to be compelled to turn over tax returns to Congress. This is separate from the New York criminal inquiry, the DOJ finding that the House has the sufficient reasons under the law to get them.

In fact, you may recall this goes all the way back to the midterms, when Democrats did take power. It was right here on MSNBC, I can tell you, where we broke the news that the key people in charge were going to demand the tax returns. This was election night 2018.


MELBER: I have spoken to a senior Democratic source on the Ways and Means Committee who says tonight, breaking news, they do intend to request President Trump`s tax returns.


MELBER: That was election night news, Barbara.

What does it mean legally that the DOJ cleared the way? And do you think the House does have a strong argument that they should see these under the law?

MCQUADE: Yes, I think they will get them. In fact, I wouldn`t be surprised if they weren`t delivered tonight.

The law is very clear. It says, when the Ways and Means Committee requests the tax return of any taxpayer, the government shall comply. The secretary of Treasury shall comply. The fact that these were not turned over previously, to me, was a blatant disregard for the law.

I think one thing that we`re seeing now with some of these decisions that DOJ has been issuing just even in the past week is what happens when you have people of integrity just simply applying the law and making decisions on that basis, as opposed to trying to protect and shield President Trump from accountability and oversight.

And so I say the production of the tax records is long overdue. When it says shall produce, I think that means you turn it over right away. And what`s interesting about this is, this is not something that President Trump can now drag his heels on again, because it is the Treasury Department that has these physical documents.

And so President Trump can`t thwart it now by filing a lawsuit to prevent his -- disclosure of the documents himself. It is the Treasury Department that has them, has been directed to turn them over. And there is no longer any block in their way to prevent that.

MELBER: Really clear analysis.

And, Barbara, as you often do, you have given us the very precise legal road map, because some people say, gosh, I have heard about this before. Is this going to be years longer?

And you have really reminded everyone exactly why there are systems in place. And when the law is applied, as you say. This goes directly from the executive branch to the legislative. There`s not a role for Trump to drag it out.

Barbara and David kicking us off, thank you both.

Coming up, we look at Republican officials that are trying to block safety measures recommended to deal with a more contagious version of COVID. Dr. Dean is here.

Also tonight, I got to tell you, we have a very special conversation planned, because we do like to end the week right. And we have Steve Kornacki live from Tokyo.

Also a big Friday because the Nobel Prize winner himself and the lauded economist Paul Krugman is here. We`re going to get into the incentives, the economics of COVID, and a whole lot more, and why he`s warning about Republican COVID truthers.

Stay with us.



MELBER: There is a COVID resurgence across the United States.

Now, you might be tired of hearing about all this, tired of the COVID zigzag, tired of these endless, honestly, depressing and frustrating stories.

But let me tell you something right off the bat tonight. COVID don`t care. COVID don`t care if we`re exhausted or over it or frustrated that even following many rules has not stemmed this recurring, atavistic pandemic in America. COVID don`t care.

Now, I am quoting someone to make this point. It`s not a singer or a rapper. But before expounding on the reference, let me be clear about this problem and the facts. This new COVID is far more contagious than the old one.

COVID evolves quickly. So the science does keep playing catchup. And that`s not a problem with the science. It`s a problem with COVID. Internal CDC research now shows this new COVID they call...


MELBER: Excuse me.

They call it the Delta variant, but it`s just a new type of COVID. And it has 10 times the virus load of original COVID-19. Vaccinations are still a great shield, because, even in rare cases where vaccinated can get infected, the vaccine still works, because the vaccinated don`t get very sick or die usually.

But the problem here is, Delta can still house itself in the nose and the throat of the vaccinated, which gives COVID time to infect others, even as the vaccine protects, in most cases, the vaccinated carrier from that more serious harm or from COVID and this Delta variant reaching your lungs, where more harm can be done.

This is more transmissible than a common cold, the CDC learning. We know how easily colds move around. It`s also more transmissive than scarier diseases like Ebola.

Scientists liken the transmission rate to something more like chicken pox. The government has concluded that this scarier, worse form of COVID, this Delta variant, means the war has changed, this according to new documents obtained by "The Washington Post."

This is not a drill. This is still a national crisis. COVID don`t care if you`re exhausted. COVID don`t care if you want to move on. COVID don`t care if you`re waiting on getting a vaccine until later. COVID don`t care.

Now, why am I talking like this? I happen to be quoting one of the most viral videos ever, about one of nature`s toughest beats, a honey badger. I`m quoting a video that`s been viewed over 90 million times showing people riveted the tough, cruel realities of nature.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, a snake is up in the tree. Honey badger don`t care.

The honey badger doesn`t care. It`s getting stung like 1,000 times. And then, look, get away from me, says the snake. Get away from me. Honey badger don`t care. They have no regard for any other animal whatsoever.

Look, and it`s just grunting and, ew, eating snakes? Honey badger don`t care.


MELBER: Honey badger don`t care.

And neither does COVID. It don`t care. You heard the quote there. It has no regard for any animal whatsoever.

So, I submit to you, as we try to find different ways to deal with this, we have a honey badger problem in America. And people who thought that they had a handle on this are finding their confidence quickly crushed if they are unlucky enough to get this new COVID, to face a savage honey badger- type threat that don`t care.

So, while I am appealing to you to think about this any which way, including a viral video, we are very serious.

Take Daryl Barker, a 31-year-old Missouri man rushed to the E.R. and then the ICU struggling to breathe his breaths, struggling to live. He was put on a ventilator. And then doctors told him, at that point, given how bad COVID in this new variant, in this new world was crushing him, that he had about a 20 percent chance of surviving.

That`s what it looked like. And he recounted the scene. Reading from his quote in the Associated Press: "The doctor told me he was going to let my wife and kid in, so I could say my goodbyes, because he explained he didn`t think," the doctor, "that I was going to pull through."

He had to say his goodbyes to his wife and kid. That`s already traumatic no matter what comes after that. And that was based on the fact that the odds were 80 percent he was going to die of COVID in that room.

Barker speaking out to share that while he thought his conservative values, he says, meant that he should avoid vaccines, he`s telling everyone tonight -- and we`re playing this so you can hear him directly -- that he was wrong, he says, and that people should get vaccinated, so they don`t ever have to face saying goodbye to their children, to their boy, like he did.


DARYL BARKER, COVID PATIENT: I was strongly against getting the vaccine just because we`re a strong conservative family.

But that little boy out there is a reason to have a vaccine.


MELBER: That little boy is the reason to have the vaccine.

We are glad that this family seems to be trying to pull through and they`re speaking out. We want you to hear what they have to say. We have no judgment of their history, but we want you to understand what they`re living through.

We have a doctor who`s also a policy-maker, Dr. Dean, Governor Dean, with us when we`re back in 60 seconds.


MELBER: I`m joined now by a medical doctor who understands the intersection of policy-making and medicine, of course, the governor of Vermont, the former DNC chair, presidential candidate.

Dr. Dean, thank you for being here.


MELBER: Let`s start with what that man said, because so much that happens in public dialogue or politics is a cycle of criticism. I want to wish the family well. I want to thank him for speaking out. As he put it, his conservative values, he said, led him to think he should be skeptical of vaccines. And now he`s speaking out.

Your thoughts?

DEAN: Look, this has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal.

And, honestly, it has nothing to do with being Republican or Democrat. And it doesn`t have anything to do with whether you like Donald Trump or not. Science is science, and the facts are the facts.

I`m incredibly grateful. It was a very emotional video. I`m incredibly grateful that he allowed that to be used. And maybe some of his conservative brethren will realize that science is not conservative or liberal. It`s just the facts.



We have this picture that also is out there. And, again, this stuff`s always difficult, because it`s real people`s lives. But they participated. They -- I want to emphasize the family spoke to the AP for a reason. They want this out there. This is him on the screen. It`s him and the boy.

Because he`s trying to talk to other parents. And if you`re thinking about your children, you`re probably thinking less about what the heck is on Breitbart or FOX News, Doctor.

DEAN: Yes, and that is the thing.

I mean, real human beings think about their children and they think about their families. They don`t think about Trump or politics or whatever. When it comes right down to it, what else do you have but your kids and your family?

And, again, I`m incredibly grateful that this guy allowed his video to go viral and to -- and allowed you to put it on MSNBC. This is really important. And as Biden points out all the time is, this is not about red and blue and it`s not about politics. We`re trying to get people better. We`re trying to prevent them from making things worse.

And the Delta variation is so bad in the United States because so many people have refused to be vaccinated. And the person who said that was Kay Ivey, the conservative governor of Alabama.

MELBER: Yes. No, that`s absolutely right.

I appreciate what you say, that this is science. I report the news. So we look at sources and experts, we fact-check, and then we report out.

If COVID was getting less contagious, Dr. Dean, I would love to report that out. I love when we have some type of good news. The facts are, we`re learning from the studies, from CDC, from the nature of this, that it`s getting more contagious, not less, which would require someone, even if at one point they reached a conclusion for their own life that they thought they could weather it, whatever -- however they reached that conclusion, they have to at least take a second look because they`re facing something that`s much more contagious.

Dr. Fauci has been very clear about this. We had him on THE BEAT. I want to play a little bit of how he was walking us through the transmission. Take a look.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: You`re dealing with a formidable virus. This Delta variant has a great capability of spreading from person to person.

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: Dr. Dean and Governor Dean, I mentioned, you`re at the intersection as a policy-maker.

What do you think is incumbent on all the people with jobs that you used to hold, governors, who really are a front line on this, the president is out there as well, to try to make sure that people are getting the right public health messaging, that this is not the COVID of a year-and-a-half ago, that, scientifically, this is a worse, more contagious COVID?

DEAN: Try -- don`t give bad service to the people, to your boss.

When you`re the governor, your -- the people are the boss, not you, and do what`s in their best interests. The reason the New England states have done so well -- and we do have two Republican governors out of six up here -- is that those Republican governors and the Democratic governors -- three Republican governors out of six -- pardon me -- those Republican governors did the right thing.

And they followed the science, and they did what had to be done. And it was unpopular. There is a -- we have a Republican governor who went after and successfully has prosecuted a guy who wouldn`t let anybody in his store if they had a mask on. He also was a UPS agent who lost his contract with UPS.

Look, we owe it, we in politics owe it to protect the people who elected us and who pay our salaries. And that is not what`s going on in a lot of these conservative states, just the like the disease that Trump has given us all, is that he is interested in power and himself. He`s not interested in the people who supported him.

And I like those Republican governors and respect them. Mike DeWine, I don`t agree with anything on, but he`s done a great job in Ohio getting the message out there, whether his constituency likes it or not. And that`s your job in politics. It is not to get yourself elected forever by saying whatever comes into your head, even though it`s crazy.

Your job is to serve the people who are paying your salary. And there`s too many people that aren`t doing that nowadays, and a lot of them are below the North Carolina-Virginia border, which is why there`s going to -- so much trouble in the South.

MELBER: Very clear. I hope people are listening.

Howard Dean, thank you, sir.

DEAN: Thank you.

MELBER: Absolutely.

We have a lot more as we round out the week, including the one and only Steve Kornacki, from the Big Board to Tokyo. He is live from the Olympics with us tonight.

But, first, another very special guest, and we look at the economics of COVID, these new incentives and the Republican COVID truthers.


Paul Krugman is here next.


MELBER: We turn now to a very special expert as we look at policy, economics and the pandemic.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman was looking at what he calls a red state crisis in his latest "New York Times" piece, with COVID spiking, and especially in Republican dominated areas that have low vaccination rates, which correlates with voting for Trump. While the piece notes that this is not isolated only on the right, when you look at areas like Mississippi and Louisiana, you have COVID and hospitalizations skyrocketing.

Paul Krugman, thank you for being here, sir.


MELBER: What do you mean by a red state crisis?

KRUGMAN: If you look, I mean, we`re having a rise in infections, hospitalizations everywhere.

But it`s extremely lopsided, looking across parts of the country. So New York has fewer than 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 right now. Florida has well over 7,000. It`s the states where the messages from elected officials have been, don`t get vaccinated, or this is a Democratic plotter, or just all of that stuff.

And that has consequences that go beyond. I`m not an epidemiologist, but one of the things we were very worried about early in this crisis was not simply that people get infected, but that you would overwhelm the health care system and that you would have a whole lot of secondary deaths consequences because of that.


And we`re right at the point of having that happen, but only in red states. So, New York is not -- things are not OK. I mean, you want to be watching yourself. We probably do need to be more careful. But the immediate crisis, that we`re really back to where we were in the early stages of this being a runaway thing.

And it`s very much -- it`s a partisan, political thing. States in that position should be taking emergency measures. There should be mask mandates, vaccination mandates. But, of course, those are exactly the places where the politicians will refuse to do any of that.


And then you have what has become more of an emphasis on public health messaging than public health resources in the United States. A year ago, everyone was looking for a cure. Now we have a cure -- I`m speaking loosely, but we have it. And people won`t take it.

So, yesterday, the president talking about paying people to take it. As an economist, what is your view of those kind of pilot programs?

KRUGMAN: Whatever works.

I mean, the cost -- if you refuse to vaccinate, and you are putting yourself at risk, but you`re also putting a lot of other people at risk. And so it`s like drunk driving. It`s a bad thing for yourself to be a drunk driver, but you`re also putting a lot of other people in danger of being killed.

And if we can do stuff to give people incentive, it doesn`t even have to be very much, just something to remind people to get through this -- what`s amazing is this sort of triviality people. Think they heard something on Facebook, or they were -- they caught a few minutes of Tucker Carlson, and they`re putting their own life on the line, they`re putting other people`s lives on the line.

So, whatever it takes. I mean, we have had a -- a scientific miracle, and now we`re having a -- whatever the opposite of a miracle is at the social level, where this cure is not being taken up. And it`s catastrophe for no reason.

MELBER: You said whatever the opposite of a miracle is. I think, at least according to science, the opposite of a miracle is a dumpster fire, Professor.

KRUGMAN: Well, yes.

MELBER: And we have that, as you point out.

Go ahead.

KRUGMAN: Yes, I mean, this is the most -- we have -- people talk about freedom. This was the most liberating thing. We have a vaccine. It doesn`t eliminate all risk, but it -- but it`s tremendously helpful.

And it makes it possible, if enough people -- basically, if everybody gets vaccinated, then we can go back to living our normal lives. And then we have this insanity of people refusing to take it.

There are other -- there are people who have a hard time getting off from work to do it. There are all kinds of reasons we should be addressing. But, right now, what`s -- the places where it`s really, really gratuitous is very much in states with -- basically Trump-voting states.

MELBER: Well, I like what you just said. Everybody knows you`re a pretty smart guy, although you don`t brag about it.

But you just said something that`s very incisive, which is freedom from disease, freedom from the risk of death is a very solid way to think about it, just like some people look at having a beer as freedom from feeling crappy at the end of the week. You have a beer, or you have a headache, and the aspirin is the freedom from the headache.

So you can almost play some of that game, if you want to call it that way or think about it that way.

I have another thing I got to put on the screen to ask you about, because you have written so much about this, which is...


MELBER: ... does government spending and government policy work? Does it affect people`s lives or not?

One of the conservative things attacking government spending is opposing it ideologically, but also, mainly, it doesn`t help poor people anyway, and so why even do it? Or, as you famously wrote about, why help the so-called lucky duckies on welfare? That`s a deep cut for people who read a lot of Krugman.

Here`s the chart, poverty falling, crashing with federal spending and the new Biden programs triple any recent period, the bar on the right.

You`re very familiar with this. This is your area of expertise.


MELBER: What does it mean that poverty is dropping right now in America?

KRUGMAN: It just shows that the -- if you want to help poor people, give them money.

And the important thing is, we have had decades now of being told that if you actually just try -- if you try to help poor people, terrible things will happen, and all incentives will be destroyed, society will collapse, the -- we will have a debt crisis in the federal government.

And then, under the strain of the pandemic, we abruptly did all of these things that we have been told you can`t do. And they worked. People`s lives -- for a lot of people, despite the pandemic, despite everything, a lot of people`s lives were made better.


And there`s no absolutely reason why we couldn`t continue to do a lot to -- we have right now. This child tax credit that, unfortunately, it`s not permanent, at least not yet, in legislation, right there, that`s going to cut child poverty almost in half.

And it doesn`t actually even cost that much money. The thing about the poor is that they`re so poor, and we have been doing so little to help them, that it`s a really not a hard thing. It`s only politics and the mythology of the worthless, lazy poor. We`re talking mostly about kids now. And

we can easily virtually end child poverty in this country. We have just seen that we can do it. I`d like to think that lots of people will learn this lesson. Well, some people will. A lot of our political system will pretend that it never happened.

But we have just seen just how much good government can do.

MELBER: All fair points from a Nobel-winning economist.

And what you just said as well about the cohorts, that same graph I mentioned, the data there showed the largest drop was among children. As you said, most 5-year-olds aren`t really lazy or people that we should be adjudicating their role in the economy. If we can bring them out of poverty, so they have a fighting chance to start in an otherwise rich country, why not try that?

Professor Krugman, thank you, as always.

KRUGMAN: Well, thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

We`re fitting in a break, but we have a lot more coming up, including tonight`s news, brand-new, on a somewhat embarrassing conclusion to that MAGA election audit in Arizona.

And then later, if you don`t stick around for THE BEAT, I implore you to stick around for the one and only Kornacki. He`s here live from the Tokyo Olympics.



MELBER: Turning to an update on a story they may not want you to know about.

Republicans clamored to do all kinds of tricks and ploys to try to question the outcome of the election. This is a theme in many different ways. Well, Arizona, took their ballots and did something that they called an audit, although it wasn`t one. And it`s ended with a whimper, not a bang, the state Senate returning more than two million ballots to Maricopa County election officials.

And, after all the noise and the drama and an audit that couldn`t change any outcomes at this point, they still found virtually no credible evidence of the kind of fraud that Trump was complaining about; 97 days were spent on this. About 400 voting machines have been tainted in the process, all of it costing about $3 million to replace them.

That number doesn`t even include the $150,000 in taxpayer money that was wasted because this was a moot audit, the process so bad that even Republicans working on it quit. One said the whole thing was botched. And the Republicans who are left claim they will still release a report on the audit next month. That`s 10 months after the election.

And amidst all this, the Justice Department is warning states that, if they do these so-called audits the wrong way, they may break the law and have criminal exposure, because you can`t just hand out voting machines and audits to anybody.

Now, another update I wanted to give you is, we have been reporting on the evolving COVID crisis. And we have something brand-new. I always tell you, if new stuff happens, we will bring it to you.

President Biden asked about what`s going on now on his way into Marine One. This is brand-new footage hearing for the first time, as well as the possibility of him discussing more potential restrictions.


QUESTION: Do you have a plan to invite Polish President to the White House, the polish president?



BIDEN: No I haven`t yet.

QUESTION: Should Americans expect more -- should Americans expect more guidelines coming up, more restrictions because of COVID?

BIDEN: In all probability.

And, by the way, we had a good day yesterday. Almost a million people got vaccinated, about half-a-million of those people for the first time, not for the second shot. And so I`m hopeful that people are beginning to realize how essential it is to do.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you had talks with Russia in Geneva on arms control. Are you satisfied with those talks -- how those went?

BIDEN: They`re in process. And I`m hopeful.


MELBER: No matter who is president, it`s always hard to hear over the Marine One chopper, but the headlines there, the president`s hopeful and does expect potential new COVID guidelines, and that he`s clearly on the case, because he had the numbers off the top of his head, a million new vaccinations yesterday.

Of course, he also gave that COVID speech yesterday discussing incentives, like we were just discussing with Professor Krugman, and other ways that the administration wants to push states to get these vaccination numbers up.

Now, I`m going to fit it a break. And then we turn to something that I have been happily promoting, well, the whole show, MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki live from the Tokyo Olympics.

And he`s teaming up with a member of old school hip-hop royalty, the one and only Fab 5 Freddy -- after this.



MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT, so it`s time to fall back.

And I`m joined by two of our favorite guests here. We have hip-hop royalty Fab 5 Freddy, a filmmaker, a visual artist and an architect of the street art movement. He also exploded on the scene back as one of the first graffiti artists to go global and has been a big part of explaining and narrating hip-hop to the entire world. He`s now working with his own cannabis line with a social justice argument and is featured in a new documentary called "All the Streets Are Silent," a look at the convergence of hip-hop and skateboarding.

And then we have our own NBC royalty. You know him well, Steve Kornacki, political correspondent from the Big Board, all the way to Tokyo, where he`s part of our all-star lineup covering the Olympics. And you can find him, of course, at the Big Board any time you`re wondering where an election is heading.

I should mention, since we`re talking culture, the Kornacki khakis have garnered an enthusiastic fan base, including Leslie Jones.

And, Steve, take a look.


LESLIE JONES, COMEDIAN: Kornacki with the khakis!

What`s up, sexy baby! I see you. The khakis looking great today, the khakis always looking great there, Steve Kornacki khaki.




MELBER: Video tells the story, sir.

I want to start with Steve all the way out there. And I will warn viewers we may have a tape delay. We have got sound in the background. That`s live Olympics TV.

But, Steve, what are you see it out there and what`s on your "Fallback" list?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ari, and I apologize if the audio is a little rough. There is a giant helicopter that`s just been hovering overhead here literally as we were setting up for this.


But, yes, we`re entering second weekend of the Olympics here in Tokyo, obviously, gymnastics and swimming a very big part of the first week. Now we shift into track and field, track and field always where the U.S. wins an awful lot a medal. So, we`re really excited about what`s about to come here in Tokyo.

But you asked for what would be on my "Fallback" list. I was trying to think here what I have been watching at these Games. And, yes, I will give you one: age.

Here`s something. Yes, I`m starting to get up there in years a little bit and I`m a little sensitive to this one. So I always get inspired when I look around and I see athletes who might be just a little bit older than me. And there are not many of them left.

But when it comes to equestrian for the United States, there are. And one of them in particular is really shining. How about this? The U.S. team dressage. That`s one of the equestrian events. The U.S. dressage team just won the silver medal this week. That`s their best finish at an Olympics in more than half-a-century.

The team is anchored by 52-year-old Sabine Schut-Kery, her horse, 15 years old. That`s pretty old for a horse. Sanceo is her horse`s name. And they came through in the clutch to put the United States past Great Britain into the silver medal slot. That`s a great finish for the U.S. in team dressage.

And then there`s also, this weekend here, the individual events playing out. And Phillip Dutton is his name. He`s competing for the United States. He is the oldest American athlete at these Games. He`s 57. So, it`s something that gives inspiration to some of us.

MELBER: I love that one, Steve. And that`s an update for people who are, of course, following -- there`s so much to keep up with at the Olympics.

Not to put you on the spot, Fab 5 Freddy, but you have been on the program before. The only thing old about you, Freddy, is your age, because you`re young in every other way, your vibe, your energy, your fashion.


MELBER: So, if you have any thoughts on age diversity, or what else is on your list, man?

FAB 5 FREDDY, ARTIST: Well, it`s just great to be on with what -- who we jokingly call Grandmaster Math, Steve Kornacki, who has created a whole space for himself, calculating everything that we need calculated, from elections. Now to see him at the Olympics is perfect. We love it.

Thank you, Steve.


KORNACKI: Thank you.


And it`s been exciting watching the Olympics. And mentioning the documentary, "All the Streets Are Silent," which I take part in, along with a lot of other people that were active on the New York scene in the `90s, I was around, but didn`t know.

I saw -- I had friends that skateboarded. I just didn`t understand that whole scene, and how it perfectly connected with `90s hip-hop. And it`s just a fascinating film, and also perfect that this is the first year that skateboarding is a part of the Olympics. And it`s -- and the events that I saw with that New York street type skating up and down banisters, I remember seeing friends do it back then back in the `90s.

And now we got a whole film that shows how that laid a foundation for what`s happening now.

MELBER: Yes, that`s so important.

What do you think about what people are learning? I mean, Steve is here in Tokyo, but hip-hop has gone global. And one of the positives people argue is that it`s raised some consciousness, Freddy.

FAB 5 FREDDY: Yes, it definitely has.

And being over in Japan, when the movie "Wild Style," which I took pride in, hip-hop`s first film, we went on a tour of Japan, planted those hip-hop seeds in the early `80s. I think it was like 1982. So it`s fascinating to see how deeply rooted the culture is in Japan now and so many other places.

There`s some really strong Japanese hip-hop, culture, style, fashion. Everything going on over there, although we`re not getting to see the Japanese people because of COVID. There`s no audiences now, but still amazing to see where this all has come.

MELBER: Absolutely.

Steve, I got 20 seconds. The last question to you is the easiest. None other than Fab 5 Freddy has dubbed you Grandmaster Math. Do you accept your new nickname?


KORNACKI: You can consider me extremely flattered, grateful for those kind words. That was awfully kind of you.

Really appreciate it. And I guess I`m stuck with khakis and a map. There`s nothing else I can do.


MELBER: There it is.

So shout-out to Grandmaster Flash. Shout-out to Grandmaster Math.

For those watching with the Twitter nearby, that`s #GrandmasterMath.

FAB 5 FREDDY: There you go.

MELBER: And you can add Steve Kornacki.

Shout-out to the Olympians of all ages.

My thanks to Steve and Freddy.

That does it for us here on this week. Thanks for sticking with us.

"THE REIDOUT" is up next, with Alicia Menendez in for Joy Reid.