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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 7/6/21

Guests: Eric Feigl-Ding, Ted Lieu, Christina Greer


Six months is marked since Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. Concerns grow about the new COVID Delta variant and infections among the vaccinated. 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones makes a decision about her future. A new development emerges in Matt Gaetz`s sex criminal probe. Legal experts say more indictments are ahead in the Trump Organization criminal probe.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT," with our good friend Jason Johnson in for Ari, starts right now.

Hi, Jason.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks so much, Nicolle.

I`m Jason Johnson, in for Ari Melber.

Big show tonight. Today marks six months since hordes of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. Tonight, new details on the plans among many Republicans to amass power by perpetuating the very election lies that led to the attack.

And new evidence on the MAGA rioters stampeding into the Capitol in a doomed efforts to stop Joe Biden from becoming president. "The New York Times" with a stunning new visual illustration right here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the stairs! Take the stairs!

NARRATOR: Proud Boys start fighting the police and, with others in the mob, they push through the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have stormed the Capitol Building. Look at this.

NARRATOR: Over several minutes, it`s a brutal fight on these steps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got a hammer! He`s got a hammer!


JOHNSON: As of tonight, only one rioter has been sentenced, though she avoided jail time. More than two dozen have already pleaded guilty. more than 500 have been arrested.

The FBI is still hunting at least 300 unidentified persons. And new images are still emerging.

A warning: Some of what we`re about to show you contains bright flashing lights. The DOJ releasing this exhibit video showing officers facing down rioters amid disorienting strobe lights. That is the violence. And it is real, which makes the GOP`s embrace of conspiracy theories and election lies all the more disturbing.

"The Washington Post" reporting: "Of the nearly 700 Republicans who have filed initial paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run next year for either the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives, at least a third have embraced Trump`s false claims about his defeat."

Here`s what they sound like on the campaign trail.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elections are the most sacred part of American democracy. That`s why I was a part of President Trump`s legal team in Wisconsin fighting against illegal votes.

STATE. REP. MARK FINCHEM (R-AZ): Hi. This is Arizona Representative Mark Finchem, candidate for secretary of state. I`d like to talk to you for a moment about a project we have been working on at the Capitol called the Arizona Ballot Integrity Project.


JOHNSON: Republicans stoking distrust, and we`re seeing the fallout in real time.

White supremacists marched in Philadelphia this weekend, roughly 200 masked Patriot Front members chanting "Reclaim America" and "The election was stolen," at one point setting off a smoke grenade and accosting residents.


MICHAEL CRUM, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: They started engaging with citizens of Philadelphia, who were not too happy about some of the things they were saying.

Apparently, these males felt threatened. And at one point somebody in their crowd through a type of what we believe is a smoke bomb to cover their retreat. And they literally ran away from the people of Philadelphia.


JOHNSON: They felt threatened.

Six months after the Capitol attack, the nation grappling with white supremacy and election lies, and a Republican Party unwilling to do much about either.

Joining me now is Congressman Ted Lieu from California, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, Cornell Belcher, former Obama pollster, and Christina Greer, professor at Fordham University.

Congressman Lieu, I`m going to start with you.

I want people to remember that, six months ago, we were this close to a violent overthrow of our country by white nationalists and white supremacists. You were there.

Can you remind us again and anybody out there who has any questions how dangerous and how frightening things were for our entire way of life and government just six months ago?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Jason, for your question.

Six months ago, the forever-impeached president incited an insurrection; 140 police officers were injured, some severely. Multiple people lost their lives. There was significant property damage. And what we have now is a select committee that`s going to investigate what led up to January 6, what occurred on January 6, and the consequences of January 6, so that this never happens again.

JOHNSON: And here`s the thing.

Just because the committee is put together, that, again, won`t stop some of these violent insurrectionists. They don`t, clearly, care about the law.

What do you see happening within the Congress? What has to happen within Congress to also tamp down the irresponsible members who are still perpetuating these lies and stoking this kind of violence in the world?

LIEU: There is one way to reduce further political violence, and that is if Republican leaders would simply say one truthful sentence: The election was not stolen.

Because they`re unwilling to say that simple truth or sentence, you have people believe in conspiracy theories that the former president is somehow going to become president again in August. You now have Capitol Police having to open up satellite offices in Florida and in California to protect members of Congress.

And you have got a radical right Republican Party that is becoming completely insane right before our eyes.

JOHNSON: You ain`t got to lie, Mitch McConnell. We all know who actually won the election. But Republicans are not willing to let that go.

In fact, Cornell, this is something that`s equally disturbing. We see Republicans running across the country as secretary of state. They`re seeking secretary of state positions across the country, in the hopes of overturning any election next year that is not in favor of the Republican Party.

As a pollster -- look, I`m an academic. I`m a political scientist. You`re a pollster. We both get beaten up for our predictions from time to time. But, as a pollster, what does it mean that we could possibly have elections -- we already saw what happened with Brian Kemp in Georgia two years ago? What does it mean if we have a whole bunch of corrupt, conspiracy-believing Republicans in charge of elections in these states?

I mean, does that mean all polling and functional elections are out the window?

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it means our democracy ends.


BELCHER: To be -- quite frankly, it means our democracy ends.

I think every American -- and, look, Congress -- and hats off to Congressman Lieu and what they`re trying in Congress. But, to a certain extent, Americans` democracy is in the hands of Americans. And it`s in the hands of those millions upon millions of Middle Americans who don`t believe the lie, and are far more worried about how to pay their kids` college tuition and struggling with health care costs and infrastructure than they are with Donald Trump being in power.

But also understand, my friend, that this idea of this election being stolen, it does make sense to them within their framework, because their country is being stolen. And this goes back to -- and I think you and I have had this conversation before.


BELCHER: I mean, this goes back to the Tea Party with take -- we got to take our country back.

Well, we literally have tribalism on the rise, where people think that their country is being taken by the political empowerment of, quite frankly, people who look like are on your panel right now. And that`s not sitting well with them.

And, Jason, they are not giving up power nice and easy, as you see them marching through the streets of Philadelphia.


BELCHER: And quite frankly, this will get worse as we inch closer to majority-minority in this country, before it gets better.

JOHNSON: You got to be particularly bold to march in Philly. I just want to point that out.


JOHNSON: And that`s part of what`s dangerous, when these white nationalists are deciding that they want to try and march in Philly.

Dr. Greer, one of the other things that concerns me, as I have seen this sort of change and this sort of ignorance, is the way in which Republican and the far right and white nationalists are trying to whitewash what happened six months ago.

Andrew Clyde, the guy who famously said that the people who attacked the Capitol really just looked like a bunch of tourists, even though he was screaming and hiding behind Capitol Police officers when the attack happened, I am amazed by these Republicans who can try to sugarcoat the insurrection, and then celebrate the Fourth of July last weekend.

Can you explain to me that sort of grotesque hypocrisy?

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: No, Jason, because it`s cognitive dissonance of the highest order.

I mean, you can`t have Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate saying that this is Donald Trump, and he knew what he was doing, he stoked these flames, and then fast forward six months, he says, well, I don`t really know what we were talking about, that didn`t exist.

So this amnesia that Republicans, this selective amnesia that they choose to have to not only whitewash our history, 18 -- or 1619 Project, right, but also something that happened January 6, 2021, is part of a larger narrative of Republicans.

And I agree with Cornell fundamentally that this started in 2010. I might back up a little bit and think about Ronald Reagan going to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and declaring that he`s going to run for the presidency. I might then talk about George W. Bush and America first, when we are engaged in two, not wars, altercations, if you will, overseas, because we keep changing the definition of what that is, for financial reasons.

And then fast forward to 2010 and then 2016. So this is part of a larger Republican project that they have been doing to try and whitewash -- and I refuse to use the term majority-minority, because, like, we are not only a global majority, as people of color, but we are now soon to be a majority of the United States.

And that is part of where this angst and this anxiety and this straight-up violence is coming from, not just on January 6. But if we look at cities and towns across the country, we have seen it now for years upon years, not just with black Americans, not just with immigrants, not just with Asian Americans and the Latinx community.

We`re also seeing it with our Native brothers and sisters as well. And it`s part of a larger conversation that so many Republicans just fundamentally refuse to have and acknowledge.

JOHNSON: And while I love the deep cut of going back to Philadelphia, Mississippi -- this is why I like having professors on -- we also can`t ignore that there was one little gap that you mentioned there, when you jumped from the `80s to 2010, is the black guy who got elected president in 2008.

And I think that seriously ratcheted up this sudden question about what the integrity of our elections are like. That`s one of the other things that comes into play.

And I want to ask you this sort of as a follow-up, Dr. Greer. When we are looking at the possibility of people literally running for office with the intention of overthrowing the government, is there anything that we can actually do?

I mean, you can`t change the criteria under which somebody runs for office. But if 30 percent of the Republican Party is running, saying, I`m going to make sure that, when I get into office, black, brown, tan people and poor people can`t vote, what are the options on the table?

GREER: Well, I think the great thing that happened in the four years of the Trump presidency...


GREER: Sorry, I live in Brooklyn, even though I`m a Philly girl.

One of the great things that happened under the Trump presidency is that so many Americans learned about the various levels of government and they recognized, as Cornell said, democracy isn`t something that we can just put on the wall, admire it and walk away. We have to be active participants on a daily basis.

So, if that means that more Democrats are paying attention to what a secretary of state actually does, if they`re contributing $5, or knocking on doors or getting involved in more local level politics, to make sure they actually cut people off in the pipeline who are sort of spouting these the big lie, and really supporting candidates that fundamentally want to work on the Democratic republic, then that, I think, is a positive that can come out of this, because so many people are either inspired to run or inspire to support quality members of not just Congress, but local levels, to make sure that they get in and actually work on behalf of truth and democracy, and not the big lie.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

And no problem with the honking horns. The fireworks in L.A. stopped about 10 minutes ago. So we`re good.

Ted Lieu, Congressman Lieu, I have to ask you this, because one of the other concerns that I have about the people who we have running now and what has overtaken the Republican Party, even though, again, as Dr. Greer mentions, this has been going on for a very long time, is this sort of pride with which they take in simply not doing their jobs.

I want to play this clip from Mitch McConnell and get your thoughts on the other side.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, it passed on a straight party-line vote. Not a single member of my party voted for it. So you`re going to get a lot more money. I didn`t vote for it. But you`re going to get a lot more money.


JOHNSON: So, COVID relief act passes, all sorts of things pass with no Republican support. And yet they BRAGG:, and they`re throwing out the money that they have gotten through the political efforts of Democrats.

First off, Congressman, what`s your immediate response to this, just seeing this video? And, second, how do we move past this, if you have one party that simply wants to sit on their rump the whole time, and let the other side actually vote and pass legislation that all constituents are going to benefit from?

LIEU: It`s sheer hypocrisy by the radical right.

At the same time, I note that Leader McConnell and Republicans did give people a lot of money. It`s just that those folks were corporate folks and the 1 percent of our nation. So it`s not as if Republicans didn`t do the same thing. They just chose to give it to the top 1 percent of our country.

Democrats are benefiting the 99 percent. And what we do see is the American Rescue Plan being effective. We got shots in the arms, kids back into schools, people in their jobs and cash in their pockets. So, the plan is working.

And, at the end of the day, Americans will see that their life is better now than it was under Donald Trump and Republican control.

JOHNSON: Cornell, thinking about Americans say, OK, our lives are better now, how have the numbers, how have polls and public sentiment change in this six months since insurrection?

We have seen Biden`s numbers go high, drop a little bit, get a little bit better as the economy has improved. We have seen Republicans become more comfortable with the big lie. What are some of the big trends that we have seen in polling that have changed in the six months since we came this close to losing American democracy?

BELCHER: That`s a really good question. And thanks for asking me that question.

One of the big trends I think you`re seeing in polling is -- and this may not seem like a big deal, but it is, because the direction of the country is actually improving. People are being more optimistic about how things are going in the country and the direction of the country.

Underlying sort of the idea that the country is heading in the wrong direction is still, it`s not the economy, stupid. It`s the division. And especially from a qualitative standpoint, when you talk to voters in focus groups, especially women voters, and particularly moms, they are very anxious about what the future means for them and their kids if the country keeps moving in this direction, with this all -- and with all this division.

And I have got to double down on this ideal of what we must do, because I`m scared. We have got to double down on the ideal of getting more of those suburban moms` skin in the racism game.

And what I mean by that is, it`s been too easy historically for our white brothers and sisters in the suburbs to say, oh, that`s their problem, right? It`s not something that we have to worry about.

With what`s happening in our country right now, they have to understand that they have skin in the game. And it`s not OK for them to let Mitch McConnell Republicans keep getting away with this, because, if you do, democracy ends, right?

The moment, Jason, they overturn one of these elections...


BELCHER: ... everything goes up in smoke. Like, our democracy must end.

And I know that sounds terrible and frightening. But Middle America must be afraid, they must be terrified at what`s going to happen in this country if we keep going on this slippery slope. That`s the only way it`s going to stop.

JOHNSON: Cornell, I keep saying that the president needs to go to the suburbs and say, look, when you want to take Hunter and Tanner to school, you don`t want to have to wait in line six-and-a-half-hours. That`s why we need to pass the For the People Act and things like that.

Thank you so very much. Congressman Lieu, Cornell Belcher, and Professor Greer, thank you so much for starting off our show.

Coming up: growing concerns about the new COVID Delta variant and infections among the vaccinated. We will talk to an expert.

Plus, the surprising insights from Donald Trump`s niece about who in the family might flip in that criminal probe.

But, first, big news in the push for teaching the truth about race and American history. A special appearance from Joy Reid, it`s coming right up.


JOHNSON: Big news tonight in a flash point culture war ignited by the far right.

It centers in part on this woman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, the target of conservative outrage for her groundbreaking work The 1619 Project, an in-depth examination of the consequences of slavery in the United States.

The news tonight is that Hannah-Jones is taking her talents to Howard University. H.U.? I can say that. I have family there. It`s a dramatic combination after a public battle with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was appointed to a prestigious post in the Journalism School, but initially denied tenure for the position, which is usually afforded that protection.

Why? Critics allege the university`s trustees were under pressure from conservatives engage in a broader right-wing assault on how race is taught in schools.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Curriculum that teaches their kids to hate their country.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Critical theory is in fact very real. It is very influential. And it appears to have become the animating ideology of this administration. And that is cause for great concern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden now wants to spend your money on critical race theory lessons for our country`s already distressed students.

STEPHEN MILLER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The political left in perpetuating this myth that America is a fundamentally racist country.


JOHNSON: That is a small portion of over 1,300 mentions of critical race theory on FOX so far this year alone.

The topic has exploded on the network and made its way to the halls of Congress and beyond, top military brass recently on GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz, after Gaetz suggested the Pentagon`s efforts to fight racism within the military was making our armed forces too woke.

Florida`s MAGA Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing the state`s school board to ban critical race theory in public schools, even though experts and commonsense parents who actually know what their kids are doing will note there is scant evidence that critical race theory is being widely taught in K-12 public schools, as it`s usually introduced at the graduate school level.

And here`s the other thing. Conservatives have stretched the term critical race theory to represent almost any discussion of race in schools. The 1619 Project and the study of critical race theory are actually two separate things.

But some on the right are wielding the term as an indiscriminate catch-all. Today, the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, going Hannah Nikole Jones (sic) and The 1619 Project.


MCCONNELL: We should be strengthening the teaching of American history and civics in our schools, not divisive, radical, and utterly debunked propaganda that uses lies about our founding to divide us and teaches kids that the color of our skin defines them.

The federal government should protect taxpayer dollars from being used to promote The 1619 Project and critical race theory.


JOHNSON: It`s one thing to debate scholarly findings, but this is a wholesale political war designed to harass a black scholar and galvanize racists.

Now Hannah-Jones will head to an institution where she will be protected in the free-flowing exchange of ideas. She will have full tenure at Howard University.

My next guest knows a thing or two about all of this, including teaching at Howard University.

MSNBC`s Joy Reid me in just 30 seconds.


JOHNSON: We`re back with Joy Reid, host of MSNBC`s "THE REIDOUT," who caught -- who taught a course on race, gender and politics as a visiting professor at Howard University this past spring.

And, coming up next hour, she will sit down with Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with Ta-Nehisi Coates. So she talks to the biggest brains that we can imagine.


JOHNSON: Joy, it`s great to have you here.

I want the audience to know that this is basically going to be the conversation that we will be having on text. So, I want you all to understand how real this is about to be.

First off, I want to ask you, as someone who has taught at Howard University, who knows what those students are like, talk about the significance of Nikole Hannah-Jones going to Howard University over Chapel Hill. What does that mean to the students? What does that mean to the institution?

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Well, I mean, I think, first of all, let`s start with the fact that she talks about this.

Nikole Hannah-Jones talked about in her statement, which I think everyone should read.


REID: We all come up -- and you teach at an HBCU, so you know this too -- being told the highest achievement as a high school student is to go to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, all the schools that we apply to with all our little hopes and dreams.

But if you think about the schools that have educated the greatest minds in black America, the people like the Thurgood Marshalls of the world, Dr. King, it`s HBCUs that have produced the minds that broke segregation, right?


REID: And so I think that we need to retrain our thinking about what it means to be an elite school.


REID: And so I love the fact that the -- probably two of the most elite minds in America, black, white or indifferent, are going to be at Howard University together means that that school, with now $15 million, right, in hand...

JOHNSON: Yes, and more coming.

REID: ... and more coming, to be able to educate -- I taught some of the brightest, most interesting, most challenging students that I have ever dealt with when I was teaching that course at Howard.

These young people deserve to have the absolute best in terms of instructors, and they`re about to get it.

JOHNSON: So -- and I agree with you. I`m a UNC Chapel Hill alum. That`s where I got my doctorate. I`m currently faculty at Morgan State University. Go, Bears.

I want to also talk about what this means as far as a larger movement when it comes to, as you mentioned, black academics and scholars` relationships with PWIs.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: Because, look, my alma mater is -- they`re taking L`s on this, right?

I mean, they have a scandal with Hubert Davis, their new coach. They just lost Nikole Hannah-Jones. Do you think that this is going to be a lesson that predominantly white colleges recognize that you can`t engage in this kind of politics and hostility without taking a hit in your public relations? Or do you think it`s going to ossify it?

Do you think that they are racists at Chapel Hill right now who think that this is a victory, even though it`s disappointed students and faculty alike?

REID: Well, I mean, they may think it`s a victory, until elite high school seniors start rethinking whether they`d rather be at UNC or at Howard, because, if I`m now coming up, and I have an interest in journalism, or I have an interest in history, if I have an interest in learning about this country, and then learning to speak about it and becoming a public intellectual, I`m now putting Howard much higher on my list than UNC.


REID: They lost the hot faculty. They`re going to start losing recruits.

And when they start losing recruits, which means that all of their other programs get weaker, when faculty besides Nikole Hannah-Jones start saying, you know what, maybe I don`t want to teach at a school where they allow a right-wing member of the board to determine who can get tenure and to undercut and try to humiliate her, and make this brilliant woman, who has got a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur genius award in her pocket, make her humiliated by saying you can only teach here without tenure...


REID: ... with no academic freedom and no safety in terms of your job security, you might start to see a lot of other people start to walk away.

And I do you hope that that`s what happens. I feel badly for the students at UNC. There are a lot of great students that are going to miss out. But you know what? This is a lesson that university needs to learn. I hope they lose a lot of money too.

JOHNSON: Honestly, Joy, I don`t think they will learn their lesson until a number one basketball recruit comes out and says, you know what, I`m going to leave Chapel Hill because I want to study critical race theory at Howard.


JOHNSON: I think, when that happens, suddenly, suddenly, they will start paying attention.

REID: But, I mean, how do we know it doesn`t, right? Because these schools only care about money.

And let`s just remember, the right is in this war to suppress information.


REID: They`re so terrified that Americans can`t handle the truth about the founders.

It`s like kind of ipso facto. No kidding. These people were doing fine from 1619 on until the 18th century.


REID: What changed? Well, they made a lot of money. They were enjoying the fruits of their labor and didn`t want to share it with the king.

This isn`t going to crush too many Americans that have half a brain and enough security to understand that people can be villainous, and also do a few things that are great.


REID: I think that most Americans are mature enough.

But, unfortunately, the Republican Party is not mature enough to be able to hold those two ideas in their heads at the same time. So they`re panicking, because what`s happening is that black people, we`re really not interested in the B.S. any longer.


REID: We`re not going to take your pabulum version of history. We`re not going to take your singsongy storybook history. We want the truth.

And it`s not just black folks. A lot of young Americans of all races are saying, give us the truth. Stop treating us as if we`re not mature enough to handle it.

JOHNSON: I want to get to, real quick, because you said -- like, I read Nikole Hannah-Jones` statement with like the "Ether" beat in the back of my mind.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: So I want to read this one last part and get your thoughts on it.

She said: "My commitment to you has not wavered. I have just will continue to do as I have in the past as an alum of the school and not the faculty. I hope that you will consider Howard or another HBCU if you ever seek a new educational home, but, whatever you do, I know you will continue to fight for justice."

That was sort of her Suge Knight moment of saying, like, look, if you`re tired of people all up in your videos, messing with your academic career, come to an HBCU.

Joy, do you think that message is going to resonate and that more students are going to come out of senior year and say, hey, I`m going to an HBCU?

REID: But hold on a second. That was written and that was directed at Dean King, who is a top dean at UNC. So if she starts to get faculty to start coming to Howard, I mean, let`s be -- let`s just be clear.

Howard University just pulled a coup. You want to talk about a coup.


REID: This is January 6, right, the attempted coup. That one failed. This one succeeded.

For Howard University right now, they could start to attract top academic talent in terms of students, but also in terms of faculty.


REID: And those faculty are very highly sought after, as you know, being an academic guy yourself.

If people start saying, you know what, where I want to be is where Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates are, and the amount of endowment money they`re going to be able to put in place, and other HBCUs are going to start to compete, you have now created a creative marketplace at HBCUs that hasn`t been this hot since the 1950s.


REID: So I am excited to see whether or not that marketplace produces incredible financial and academic results for Howard and for other HBCUs.

And, sorry, UNC, you dropped the bag.

JOHNSON: Hasn`t been this hot since "A Different World" was on.


JOHNSON: Joy Reid, thank you so much.

Coming up the next hour on Joy Reid`s show, on "THE REIDOUT," she will be interviewing Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Keep it right here on MSNBC. You won`t want to miss it.

Ahead: Biden pushes vaccinations, as a former FOX News executive says vaccine lies cause unnecessary deaths.

Also, a new development on someone cooperating in the Matt Gaetz sex criminal probe.

But, first, legal experts say more indictments are coming up in the Trump Organization criminal probe, as Trump admits to the crime in public, and Mary Trump says Ivanka will flip on her father.

Neal Katyal is on THE BEAT live next.


JOHNSON: Now to the ongoing Trump Organization criminal probe and new details from the indictment.

"The Washington Post" reporting that internal spreadsheets kept by the Trump Organization that tallied the hidden payments provided a road map for prosecutors. Prosecutors treating these spreadsheets as -- quote -- "the accounting equivalent of a confession."

And like his kids, Trump himself can`t keep his mouth shut. At a rally in Florida, he admits the crime in public and downplays the criminal charges.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They go after good hardworking people for not paying taxes on a company car, company car.

You didn`t pay tax on the car, or a company apartment. You used an apartment, because you need an apartment because you have to travel too far where your house is. You didn`t pay tax.

Or education for your grandchildren. I don`t even know. Do you have to put -- does anybody know the answer to that stuff? OK? But they indict people for that.


JOHNSON: This is my confession.

Does anyone even know the answer to that? Yes, I do. Off-the-books schemes are illegal.

Now, where this case goes next is anyone`s guess. Prosecutors are still pressuring indicted CFO Allen Weisselberg to start talking. And now Mary Trump is out with a stunning claim about who might flip first.


MARY TRUMP, AUTHOR, "TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH: HOW MY FAMILY CREATED THE WORLD`S MOST DANGEROUS MAN": There will be other people who might be more willing to flip than Allen. And I think among those might well indeed be my cousins.

QUESTION: Oh, interesting. Like the Trump kids?

M. TRUMP: Ivanka also received -- I don`t remember the amount.

QUESTION: Yes, consultant money.

M. TRUMP: But hundreds of thousands of dollars in -- quote, unquote -- "consulting fees."

That`s not a thing. You`re either an employee or you`re not an employee. So I think we`re going to find a lot more of that kind of thing going on. And she`s much less likely to stay loyal than Allen Weisselberg.


JOHNSON: Joining me now for our Opening Arguments series is former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal.

Neal, I have to start with. This idea that Ivanka could be the first or most likely member of the Trump family to flip amazes me.

And I want to show you some footage here of what we think that conversation might be like and get your thoughts on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: He`s our dad, but he was going to send me to jail. He would do the same to all of us.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Are you part of this family or not?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: If I back you and against dad, you would need to let me take over.



JOHNSON: I like "Succession." And the new trailer just dropped.

But, basically, I can imagine this is the conversation within the family right now, right? I mean, if some of Donald Trump`s children are thinking, I could flip on my dad, or at least I could slip some information that might cut me a better deal, do you think that is likely? And, if so, what are the kinds of things that they would have to offer that would potentially get their father in trouble, the former disgraced, two-time- impeached president, but not also put them in the hot seat?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So, Jason, I first just have to say thank you for that segment you just did with Joy. It`s an extraordinary conversation you had on an extraordinary day for Howard.

And I think you just captured it and Joy did so well. And I can`t thank you enough for that.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Neal.

KATYAL: Now, with respect to Ivanka, look, I mean, I guess I`m of two minds with this.

First, Donald Trump raised his kids to put themselves first. And so we might see Ivanka reminding him, reminding Trump of his own favorite advice. It`s nothing personal. It`s just business. So that`s one side of it.

The other is, there are really serious allegations here. You heard Donald Trump, like, say in his, whatever, rally thing on Saturday, oh, everyone does it and so on, which do people not pay taxes on fringe benefits? Yes, sure, sometimes. Does the CFO of a company? No.

And while keeping two separate sets of books? No way. And, like, the most important piece of writing since this indictment came down, if any of if your -- if our listeners are going to look at one thing, it`s this piece that Dan Shaviro in Just Security.

Dan Shaviro is like a NYU law professor. He`s no ideologue. And he`s read the indictment. And what he says is, look, this is not a fringe benefits case. That`s what Donald Trump wants to portray it is. It`s fraud, plain and simple. He says it`s two sets of books. Anyone who does this, he says, would be indicted at both the state and the federal level.

So it`s not surprising to see Trump going on with a rally and so on. For him, it`s kind of like we`re at the election night stage of the investigation. He`s taking a victory lap for the same reason he did on November 4, because he knows the next results are not going to be so kind to him. And that`s with or without Ivanka and Weisselberg and all the others.

JOHNSON: So, just for the layman out there, if your organization`s keeping two sets of books, right, the only reason you would be doing that is because you are either not paying taxes or you`re using the money in some way that you haven`t publicly stated.

That makes sense to me. That makes sense to anybody who`s seen three episodes of "Law & Order." What confuses me is, how could the Trump Organization be either so stupid or so lazy as to have that information somewhere where it can be found? Is that something that we often see in criminal organizations, Neal, where somebody just keeps it on a spreadsheet in Excel?

Or was this result of a very serious investigation or somebody on the inside flipping?

KATYAL: Jason, Jason, are you really confused? I mean, really?

I mean, Donald Trump thinks he`s above the law. So, like, the insouciance that he has, and he`s not as smart as a mafia. He runs the thing like a -- they have run the thing like a mafia organized crime organization, except for the competence that they have.

It`s disrespectful to the mob, basically. So it`s not surprising that you see two sets of books like this, and all the other shenanigans. And I think the hard thing now is, we now -- we have seen the state move against the Trump Organization and against Allen Weisselberg, the CFO.

The question I have -- and it`s teed up nicely by the Dan Shaviro article - - is, what is the U.S. Justice Department and the IRS going to do? Because Shaviro says, look, if this -- any other time, whenever this happens at the federal level, we prosecute. So I want to make sure that Trump gets the same rule book, not a harsher rule book. I just want them to get the same rule book as every other American.

And the idea that, oh, it`s only a million dollars, and that`s nothing to the Trumps and Weisselberg of the world, well, it sure is to every American. And so I think this has got to be looked at by the Justice Department.

JOHNSON: Now, very quickly, I want us to get to a new twist in the Matt Gaetz sex crime probe.

Gaetz`s guilty associate, Joel Greenberg, who is cooperating with the feds, just asked for his sentencing to be delayed. The filing cited -- quote -- "ongoing cooperation, which will not be completed prior to the current date."

What does that mean, Neal? What does it mean that if he`s asking for his sentencing to be delayed? Does that mean he`s he`s trying to come up with more deals? Does that mean he`s trying to sweeten things? How much trouble could this mean for Congressman Gaetz?

KATYAL: Well, I think this -- it means that Mr. Greenberg seems to be an excellent wing man for a certain kind of date, at least, a court date.


KATYAL: And if I`m Matt Gaetz at this point, I`m feeling very worried.

This guy Greenberg`s already written a confession, evidently, that implicates Gaetz. And now he wants even more time to tell his story. This, Jason, is the way that law enforcement investigations begin. They start with a lower-level person, and they flip to a higher-level person.

It`s exactly the thing that we were talking about a moment ago with Ivanka and the flip of Weisselberg and all the other people. It`s the same basic strategy used in many different law enforcement investigations.

This time, it`s working out, it looks like, against Gaetz. It may work out against Trump and others in the Trump Organization as well. This is the way that criminal investigations begin and end.

JOHNSON: This is the way.

Neal Katyal, thank you so very much for not only -- I can`t say this enough -- not only giving us the background, but telling us where this could go.

You can find more of Neal`s

Ahead: A former FOX News executive slams Tucker Carlson for lying about vaccines.

I will talk to an expert on the facts, the variants and Biden`s push to get more shots in arms.


JOHNSON: President Biden is urging Americans to get vaccinated.

It comes as a former FOX News executive is out with a blistering op-ed, bluntly saying the network is -- quote -- "poison for America" and its lies have had deadly consequences, writing -- quote -- "The channel has contributed substantially and directly to the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by disparaging the wearing of lifesaving COVID masks -- unquote - - and -- quote again -- "the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by fueling hesitation and doubt about the efficacy and safety of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines."

We`re going to air some of this for context to show you what is being said as the country tries to fight off the virus.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Why should I get vaccinated? I`m not going to get my freedom back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can travel freely, make a living, live life if you take a couple of shots to the arm? Am I the only one who sees a giant problem with that premise?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I have been telling my friends I`m going to get the vaccine. Half think I`m absolutely nuts. They wouldn`t take it in a million years. I don`t know who to listen to it.

CARLSON: But, since COVID, Bill Gates has gained extraordinary powers over what you can and cannot do to your own body. Bill Gates would like you to take the coronavirus vaccine.


JOHNSON: That is a straight-up conspiracy theory, scaring Americans who believe this nonsense.

Right now, the four at least vaccinated states are red Trump states. They are at risk without the vaccine; 47 percent of Republicans say they likely won`t get the vaccine.

New Israeli data shows the Pfizer vaccine is less effective against the Delta variant. It protects 64 percent of people against Delta, and is down 3 percent, but still 94 percent effective at preventing severe illness.

President Biden today revealing new plans to vaccinate and pushing the message, getting vaccinated is patriotic.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you`re vaccinated, you`re protected. But if you`re unvaccinated, you`re not, and you`re putting yourself, more importantly, maybe from your perspective, your family and your friends at risk.

So, please get vaccinated now, for your neighborhood, for your country. It sounds corny, but it`s a patriotic thing to do.


JOHNSON: Joining me now is Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.

Dr. Feigl-Ding, thank you so much.

First off, I want to say I have been following you on Twitter for a year. You`re one of the best, most informed follows that I can find, because you stick to the numbers.

So, first, I want to ask this.

We just had a huge holiday weekend. People traveled. Many states no longer have mask mandates. Given this new Delta variant, should we expect to see another rise in COVID cases over these coming days, after people are getting together from the weekend? And if we don`t, does that mean that we have we have moved past the danger and point and are possibly in a safer future?

DR. ERIC FEIGL-DING, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: Thanks for having me. And thanks for following me for the past year.

What I`m trying to really warn is that the Delta variant is not like any other variant. We`re in act two of the pandemic. This is not the same pandemic that we had last year. Delta variant is faster. It`s the most contagious variant known to date. It is more severe.

And it leads to four to five times greater risk of hospitalization than the old strain. And it`s one-dose vaccine very evasive. You really need two doses. And Fauci and Biden have emphasized, you need to get both doses.

And the problem is, the surge is already happening. Missouri hospitals are ready at full capacity. They`re opening another ICU COVID ward. They`re sending patients to other hospitals, to other states like Kansas. The surge in Delta is already here.

And just today, the CDC announced that Delta variant is now 51 percent of all COVID strains. It is now dominant in the United States.And it`s only going to get worse.

JOHNSON: Dr. Feigl-Ding, the CDC also announced today that not only do we have this sort of new Delta variant coming through, but, obviously, it seems to -- it seems to be breaking through slightly better with Pfizer than some of the other vaccines.

I want to clear this up, because this sort of thing can sometimes lead to vaccine hesitancy, people saying they don`t want to. Is there a real difference in one vaccine from another? I mean, that`s not a crazy thing for people to think about. But if you still haven`t gotten vaccinated, would you say doesn`t matter if I get Pfizer or Moderna or Johnson & Johnson? Or would they all be equally safe in protecting someone against the Delta variant?

FEIGL-DING: Well, we don`t have enough data on the Johnson & Johnson. We do not have real efficacy data.

The best efficacy data we have is on the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca, which we don`t have in the U.S. But Pfizer and Moderna are both really good vaccines. And the vaccines so far show that protecting you from hospitalization is about 93, 94 percent. That is great.

But that is not as high as 98 percent, 99 percent against hospitalization that we used to have. And Israel saw that drop from 98 to 93 within one month of the Delta variant arising for hospitalization protection.

And the efficacy is a little bit lower than the 95 percent we used to see. It`s now 64 to 70, 75 percent against Delta variant. That`s still good for infection. But that also means that the virus will still -- you can still be a carrier for the virus even if you`re vaccinated.

So, this is part of why WHO and the CDC are knocking against each other. WHO says, you need to wear mask if vaccinated. CDC says you don`t. And I think CDC is making a really grave mistake, because half the country is not fully vaccinated. And the other half that is, again, only 64 to 75 percent efficacy against Delta variant.

You`re still carrying it along. So, please everyone, take precaution. Double-vaccinate. But, at the same time, realize, Delta variant is dangerous and it`s rising. And it will only get worse for the under- vaccinated states.

JOHNSON: Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, thank you so very much. It`s disturbing, but important.

Ahead: Reverend Sharpton`s moving eulogy for a white teen killed by police -- next.


JOHNSON: Reverend Al Sharpton delivering a powerful message in Arkansas today at the memorial service for Hunter Brittain, a 17-year-old unarmed white teenager who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in June.

Reverend Sharpton talked about getting the news from attorney Ben Crump.


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": He said: "And he was a white young man."

I said: "Well, then we must go."


SHARPTON: Because the issue of policing is not about black and white.

We don`t just come for one race. We come for what is right.



JOHNSON: Brittain was shot three times by a sheriff`s deputy, who was fired because he didn`t turn on his body camera until after the shooting. State police are now investigating.

That does it for me.