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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 8/5/21

Guests: Barbara Lee, Nick Akerman


President Biden honors police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6. FOX News anchors get in an on-air dispute about vaccines. Senator Mitch McConnell attacks the social safety net. Historian Michael Beschloss discusses Saturday Night Massacres. Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks out.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Four, 5:00 and 9:00. We`re there.

Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much.


WALLACE: Thank you, my friend.

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

And we have something important. Today, the eyes of the nation were on the White House, where a president whose lawful ascension was very briefly challenged by a violent insurrection. He went about a somber task, awarding a high honor, Congressional Gold Medals, to police officers who battled violent trespassers and terrorists at the Capitol.

Biden and Harris both spoke in the Rose Garden with officers in attendance, commemorating a police death toll and now marks five, four from suicide. The president spoke of bravery and truth in defense of democracy.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While the attack on our values and our vote shocked and saddened the nation, our democracy did survive. It did. Truth defeated lies. We did overcome.

And that`s because of the women and men of the U.S. Capitol Police.



HARRIS: And these officers are patriots.



MELBER: Patriots and truth, that was the message here from the president and vice president, this a ceremonial coda to a violent political rampage that is far from over in terms of accountability, as MAGA leaders who were initially thrown off-balance and claimed some regret over that indefensible set of acts have now found themselves following Trump in defending or minimizing the terror, on air, online.

The judicial branch, though, is dealing with these prosecutions, one federal judge eviscerating a Trump rioter who was falsely claiming to be some kind of political prisoner.

So, while President Biden talks of truth defeating lies today, that may sound, well, downright hopeful, because we can all see with our eyes how much lying does still persist.

Meanwhile, this judge that I just mentioned is making it clear in a forum that matters that lying about being a political victim does not work in court when you`re lying, when you have no evidence on your side, the judge finding that a Trump fan here who claimed that was no victim and rather arrested because he was an enthusiastic participant in an effort to subvert democracy.

Party doesn`t matter in court either. Some of these MAGA fans are learning that. Federal judges appointed by presidents of both parties condemned the claims by rioters that they are somehow on the right side of history and other assorted and miscellaneous gobbledygook.

Now, that`s in court. Outside courtrooms, the propaganda continues.

MAGA Congressman Matt Gaetz, for example, has been staging theatrical prison visits to these people. And he has many of his own reasons to stir up skepticism against prosecution in America as he remains entangled in his own federal sex crimes probe.

Meanwhile, also on the accountability front, one of the speakers at the pre-insurrection rally, Congressman Brooks, he doesn`t even claim in court that he`s innocent, or at least that`s not his main claim, because he`s also making a separate argument that he should just be immune from any trial, which is a privilege most Americans wouldn`t have.

And he`s trying to invoke his day job in Congress for that immunity, a bizarre argument, because he wasn`t doing congressional work in that body armor speech there. And the DOJ, we should note, has already rejected that claim.

So, some lies are getting shredded and rejected. Congress also continuing its probes into other aspects of the Trump insurrection. So, as President Biden marked the courage of the police today, we can also report for you tomorrow marks seven months since that insurrection.

You probably saw some of it at the time that day, talked about it with friends, took it in, absorbed it, woke up the next day and said, did that really happen on the steps of our Capitol, on the floor of our Senate?


And then we learned more and more about it. So, does it feel longer than seven months ago? Does it feel shorter? Does it feel like we`re learning more or less about it? Honestly, it`s probably hard to say.

We are living through supremely Orwellian challenges, even though the insurrection failed and Trump is out of office. And Orwell himself had a fundamental warning for anyone trying to keep some grip on the truth. He wrote that to see what is in front of one`s nose is a constant struggle.

It is certainly a struggle right now, because, even though the people controlling the federal government and the White House are doing the factual fit, noting what the police did and honoring them, which, in other certain areas or in response to other types of terrorism, would be just what everyone agreed upon, we are living through this factual and physical trauma where so many people are lying their way through this.

And they want you and everyone else in America over time, to have the truth blunted and decayed to the point that, at a minimum, it`s far less extreme, terrible, violent, and horrific than the truth was that day. And for their hardcore base, well, they want them to think it didn`t happen at all.

Let`s get into it with our experts, former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman and NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray.

Welcome to both of you.

Nick, your thoughts on the contrast between the president, one branch of government, in that ceremony, the judges, another branch of government, and then a Congress that continues to have a basic factual fight over what happened inside that very Congress?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, Ari, I think, all too often, we underestimate the judicial branch because these are not people that run for office. They`re appointed for life.

But they have really played the key role here. I mean, you remember, General Milley talking about his concern about that Reichstag moment when he thought this was going to be like when Hitler took over in Germany.

But what makes us different from the Weimar Republic, which was the German republic at that time when Hitler took over, was that the judges there were -- could be fired at the whim of anybody, at the whim of the executive.

Here, we have independent judges who are appointed for life. They don`t have to worry about being fired at any point. They have come and rose to the occasion, whether they`re Republicans or Democrats, they dismissed the 60-some-odd bogus cases that were brought by Donald Trump.

They have gone in, and they have basically handled these insurrectionists and it meted out sentences, and made it quite clear that what they were doing was not patriotism, it was not right, and it was not that they were political prisoners. They were trying to stop our judicial -- our constitutional process of electing a president.

And now they`re also handing it to all those lawyers who came up with these bogus lawsuits and meting out punishment to them, which just happened recently in Colorado. It`s going to happen in Detroit. What Donald Trump didn`t understand about our government was, he thought he could appoint three Supreme Court justices, he could then bring a case before the Supreme Court, and, of course, because they owed their appointments to Donald Trump, they would throw in their lot with Donald Trump.

Well, that didn`t happen. And it didn`t happen because we have lifetime appointments. They don`t have to run for office. They don`t have to worry about being appointed again. Their only concern is upholding the Constitution and our constitutional form of government. And they have all risen to that occasion.


And the president also in his remarks today alluded to this factual fight and Republicans trying to change the history we lived through. Take a look.


BIDEN: My fellow Americans, the tragedy of that day deserves the truth, above all else.

We cannot allow history to be rewritten. We cannot allow the heroism of these officers to be forgotten. We have to understand what happened, the honest and unvarnished truth. We have to face it.


MELBER: Professor, what about that?

MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is important that we have to face those truths.

And the steps that the person has taken to acknowledge what happened on January 6 by commemorating the work of the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan D.C. Police on that day are important steps forward.

But, of course, much more will be done. And as Nick suggests, it will happen in the federal courts and some state courts throughout the country.

But I also want to push back a little bit on what Nick says. It is true that there have been these judges who have stepped forward to speak out for the rule of law, as opposed to any kind of partisanship in these proceedings. But it`s important for us to understand that, when we talk about the court, we`re not just talking about the Supreme Court.


We`re not just talking about the Supreme Court, to which Donald Trump appointed three new justices. We`re talking about the lower federal courts too, where he had an unrivaled success in appointing legions of judges across the country, judges that are not necessarily representative of the populace at large and judges that have largely been vetted by conservative organizations.

So, to the extent we have had an independent judiciary to stand up to this president over the last four years, the question going forward is whether or not the judges he put and stocked on those courts will be prepared to do so going forward.

MELBER: Yes, I think that`s an important point.

And, also, because Donald Trump was clearly the loser of the election in a big way, there weren`t the kind of cases that could even get up to the Supreme Court, what lawyers would call a colorable or nonfrivolous claim.

And yet, Nick, I think the professor raises something you can respond to, as well as other news I want to share that, that raises the question of, what about a closer case?

With that in mind, I also want to bring in some updates we got just as I was coming out, frankly, to do the broadcast. The January 6 committee, we`re learning now, will be expanding its probe. You can see one of the headlines here. They`re taking over key interviews from the House Oversight Committee with Trump DOJ officials.

Nick, this obviously matters because people have seen House Speaker Pelosi basically repeatedly outmaneuvered her Republican counterparts and has built a committee that`s built to last, that is bipartisan, with Cheney and others on there, and that now we`re seeing tonight, whether that`s a vote of confidence or it was always in the works, it`s clearly expanding jurisdiction.

With that in mind, Nick, for you to respond to this, as well as anything you want to say about what the professor raised, let`s just take a brief look at some of the officers who spoke in that very first hearing of that committee, which overlaps, of course, with what Biden/Harris were doing honoring them today.


SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: I recall thinking to myself, this is how I`m going to die.

MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: What I witnessed and experienced on January 6, 2021, was unlike anything I had ever seen.

DANIEL HODGES, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Another takes a different tack, shouting, "You will die on your knees."

HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: There was an attack carried out on January 6, and a hit man sent them.



AKERMAN: I think it`s time now to get the testimony from the hit man and all of his cohorts. I mean, that`s really what we have got to be at this point.

The executive privilege has been waived. We now have the opportunity to find out what really happened minute by minute, day by day, leading up to that insurrection, learning exactly who is responsible, who called these people into Washington, what conversations they had.

All of that can come out. In terms of the judiciary, it seems to me that at least the lower court judges that have addressed these issues have dealt with what has come up in the course of these lawsuits, and what has come up in the course of issues that have related to the insurrection, that, whether they`re Republicans or Democrats, they have all done the right thing.

I just go back to Watergate, where you had John Sirica, who was an appointee, I think, of Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, he was the Republican who really was responsible for breaking the Watergate case, because he meted out very stiff sentences to the burglars, which forced them to talk and to reveal that their orders were coming directly from the White House.

So I think, look, we all have disagreements about the judges on the Supreme Court in terms of certain issues that they do decide, much broader issues. The lower court judges deal with a lot of run-of-the-mill-type cases, like the kinds of cases I used to prosecute, or civil cases that come up.

But for the most part, whenever this has come up in terms of these 60-plus lawsuits, even on the appellate section on the Third Circuit, there have been judges appointed by Donald Trump who have stood up and done the right thing.

MELBER: Yes, I understand what you`re saying. And I think that the space between the argument you guys are having about what`s going on in the courts is real, because some of this hasn`t been tested in a way that we wouldn`t want it to be, quite frankly.

And yet I saw a headline today in Slate about Professor Hasen, who you both know, talking about how the preparations for the next Trump coup are already under way, and using state legislatures. And so all of this is very much a very live issue.

I want to thank Nick and Professor Murray for kicking us off.

We will have a lot more in the program, including FOX News, the divide on vaccines erupting on live TV. We`re going to show you some sound where you actually have one FOX anchor saying, go get vaccinated. This is a race for people to use the cure.

We`re also going to fact-check Mitch McConnell`s attacks on the safety net.

Historian Michael Beschloss is here as we look at the talk of Saturday Night Massacres.

And an update to our big Mitch McConnell story from last night, with BEAT viewers involved.


Stay with us.


MELBER: Do you remember, in 2020, when people were saying they were just over the year, they couldn`t wait for 2021, as if the calendar would make things better?

Well, the vaccine made things better in a lot of parts of the country, but if you live in Florida, 2021 is far worse than 2020, COVID surging, school districts there now defying Republican Governor DeSantis, announcing their own mask mandates for students returning to class.

Children under the age of 12 not eligible for the vaccine. Now, I mentioned the record-breaking numbers. You can see they are up 119 percent. That`s doubling. Hospitalizations even higher than that.

The governor, though, threatening to actually defund school districts that choose at a local level to have safety measures like masks, and he`s getting hammered for it.


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Florida is one of the most dangerous and least prepared places to be in America right now. And there`s really no one more to blame for that reality than Governor Ron DeSantis.

REP. LOIS FRANKEL (D-FL): He`s spent more time playing a crazy game of chicken with other right-wing governors vying to be president, rather than keeping Floridians alive.


MELBER: That`s Democrats hitting him.

In Florida and elsewhere, vaccination has become this polarized issue. Polling, when you ask people about their own preferences, shows 51 percent of Republicans unvaccinated, far higher share than Democrats.


And there`s a divide on the right that`s been playing out. I mentioned we`re going to show this for you. And, to be clear, the pressure on America, when we see that COVID is not going away unless more people get vaccinated, has actually had some changing their tune.

We have even seen and we have reported that some people on the right or on FOX News have said what other people and experts say, which is, the vaccines are safe, so you might choose to get them.

You can say that in any number of ways, while, as I have said many times on this program, it`s your own health decisions to make.

And let me show you something interesting, which is what happens when one FOX anchor says something along those lines and how quickly he gets rebooted and trounced by his colleague and co-anchor.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: If your kids are over 12, you probably ought to get the shot.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Right, or see a doctor, decide what you want to do. That`s what usually people go to for medical advice, doctors.

DOOCY: I didn`t go to a doctor before I got the shot.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS: That`s your choice.

KILMEADE: Well, that`s your decision.

DOOCY: Absolutely.

KILMEADE: That`s your decision.

But I don`t think anchor should be recommending medical advice.

EARHARDT: Yes. I agree.

DOOCY: Well, but a lot of people have been tuning into the show for 25 years to see what we think about different things.

I think, if you have the opportunity, get the shot.

KILMEADE: Right. But shouldn`t you see a doctor to give you expertise about what they`re seeing about a shot?


MELBER: Anchors shouldn`t tell people what to do.

It`s one of those statements that is defensible. I know what he means. And there`s validity to that. But what`s going on underneath the words and the tension on that set is the tension on the right, is the tension in a country with a society and an economy that will not be able to function very well if people don`t decide to get vaccinated more within each individual choice and freedom.

And so we`re going to see this tension play out continuously, because the problem is not going to go away by itself.

Now, doctors have explained that, in most cases, people can get a vaccine. Indeed, as mentioned there, many people consult with whatever their expert sources are and their own health history. Sometimes, they get a vaccine without going to the doctor, or, yes, you can consult with one.

And some people are in situations where they may choose not to get one. But Dr. Fauci is trying to make it very clear, when we talk about what is safe and true for most people, and addressing people who are hesitant, which is OK. It`s OK to be hesitant. It`s OK to debate this. If you delayed, it`s OK too.

But you want to get all the information to make up your own mind about what`s best for you. And how`s Dr. Fauci playing this out? Well, he`s even, in some ways, referencing what the Trump administration has done.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: When people say I`m concerned that this went too fast, it did not go too fast. It was a major investment, both in the logistics, the resources, and the clinical and basic research.

And we give credit to the Trump administration for doing this, particularly Secretary Alex Azar, who was an important component of that.


MELBER: Count it up right there, Dr. Fauci crediting Trump. And he is, of course, trying to appeal to everyone.

The Biden administration is also doing its vaccine push. The Pentagon is also reportedly looking at plans to mandate that all 1.3 million active- duty troops have vaccine mandates, that they be required to get the shot, just as they already do for actually more than a dozen other diseases and precautions.

And the most famous draftee in American history, Elvis Presley, take a look at what we might learn from history. He bared his arm for a vaccine. That was part of helping reassure the public about that over 60 years ago.

This is important stuff.We can keep learning together. We can do this together.

And we have some special guests tonight to get into all of it after our shortest break. I will see you in 60 seconds.


MELBER: We`re now joined by Dr. Kavita Patel and retired Four-Star General Barry McCaffrey.

And we`re going to get into this -- reports of a military mandate with the general.

Doctor, what did you think about the exchange there on the FOX News sofa? Because putting all skepticism and politics aside, I bet people could relate to that kind of debate playing out in any number of rooms in America.


DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Ari, look, I -- if it helps, I am a doctor, and I`m telling people to go get vaccinated.

I do think that you`re right that that`s a little bit of a reflection, a representation. But you also said that there`s an undertone there, not even not-so-subtle hint that perhaps an individual making a decision to go and get vaccinated is, there`s something potentially wrong with it.

And I think we now have so much data and, unfortunately, Ari, death. I mean, we`re going to probably top 100,000 new cases, along with that those coming hospitalizations and deaths.

But I can`t think of a more critical time that we have people like you, that we have people like -- on any side of the aisle actually giving what they did, and also telling people to encourage them to come forward, and not to put fear in them. And if they need to talk to a doctor, fine.

But this is something that we shouldn`t be debating anymore. There`s clear evidence for why you should vaccinated.

MELBER: Yes, and I say this as respectfully as possible. And viewers know that`s kind of how I try to do it. And this is this is tough stuff for many people in personal.

But the problem with Kilmeade, the rebuttal on that, the clip we showed, is that, with all due respect, he seems to be saying something that is fine. Of course, talk to your doctor about whatever you want. But he`s saying it in a way that almost seems to be gesturing at the idea that this is like a big, tough, medical call, when a lot of doctors have said, unless you know something about your own preexisting conditions, autoimmune, pregnancy, there are certain things.

But for most people, would you say it is required that they talk to a doctor or not?

PATEL: No, not at all.

So, you`re right, Ari. There`s even -- and, by the way, pregnant women should get the vaccine. So we know that there are actually very few circumstances where the vaccine can actually be damaging to you. So, no, you do not need to talk to a doctor.

And I also think that, let`s be honest, how much time has passed? So, I think that the people who are reluctant or resistant for whatever reasons, sending the signal like that on FOX News with all those viewers is only making those reluctant people say, well, maybe there`s a reason to be more concerned. I will wait until I talk to my doctor.

Every day that they wait...


PATEL: ... is a delay that could cost them their life.

MELBER: Yes, well put. And I think that`s the issue with it. I want to be respectful of the fact that there are views out there.

But it`s not a dog whistle. It`s a doctor whistle. But it sort of has kind of the implication that this is something different.

General, reports of a military mandate of vaccines, good idea?


By the way, that was a great photo of Elvis Presley. He was actually a very good soldier. And I`m glad they got one of him being vaccinated. Big joke in the armed forces. Like, every year, regardless of your vaccination status, you get riddled by the medics.

So, I think what happened, in Department of Defense, they got tied up in legal knots. I have been part of the interagency process on more than one administration. You end up with legal views of DOJ, of the White House, of Department of Defense, but they may not be similar.

It was crazy. We can order soldiers to take actions that might result in being killed in action in a minute. This had a dramatic impact on readiness, in particular for services like the Navy. You can`t take a submarine out to sea without vaccinating the whole crew or isolating them for a month before they deploy.

So, it was harming U.S. national security.


MCCAFFREY: I`m proud that Lloyd Austin`s going to correct that, apparently, tomorrow.

MELBER: Well, General, you know the main problem with the interagency process?

MCCAFFREY: Well, I don`t know which one you want to talk about.


MELBER: I will tell you mine. And then you`re the guest. You will tell me yours.


MELBER: I would say lawyers.

MCCAFFREY: Well, that`s why I say the lawyers never agree with one another.

MELBER: No, they don`t.


MCCAFFREY: It`s the White House, DOJ, DOD. There`s conflicting viewpoints. The decisions get taken out of the hands of the policy-makers.




MELBER: We`re diverting a little bit. It`s relevant. I mean, the agency lawyer`s job is to create as much space and protection around their agency, so that you get a bunch of memos that are diverging, when you actually got to do stuff.


MELBER: Now, we have something else for you, General.

If you liked young Elvis, we think you`re going to love young Eisenhower. We went back to the tape to look at the history of the push for polio vaccinations. Take a look.


NARRATOR: Your child or any member of your family eligible for polio vaccine in your community should be vaccinated now, including this boy, the president`s own grandson, David Eisenhower.

And now, like millions of boys and girls across the nation, David too is protected against paralytic polio.


MELBER: General, I`m just curious if you think that our larger history, from the government mandates, military we`re talking about, and, writ large, schools, suggest that actually some level of vaccine participation doesn`t have to feel as controversial as some are making it out to be right now?


MCCAFFREY: Oh, absolutely.

Look, my wife and I grew up in that era where, during the summer, no one was quite sure how polio was transmitted. You couldn`t go to pools. You had to take afternoon naps. You couldn`t go to movies. It was dreadful. And thousands of kids ended up in iron lungs.

So, in the country, we have this magical Salk vaccine. Of course we took it. And the armed forces routinely tells people what to do for their own health. I should tell an 18-year-old soldier in combat, wash your hands before you eat your food. We have hygiene rules.

So, again, thank God we got an experienced person like Lloyd Austin as the secretary of defense, who has unsorted this tangle. But it`s an easy decision. We have got 100 million American adults who haven`t been vaccinated.

Half the country`s unvaccinated. We got 600,000 dead. That`s more than World War II. This is nonsense. The country needed to get vaccinated, and certainly the armed forces, not just a 1.3 million active, but the Guard and Reserve also.


We got a lot of talkers around here, myself included, and nothing wrong with talkers. But we have just been listening to two doers, the general and the doctor, and we`re better for it.

Thanks to both of you.

MCCAFFREY: Good to be with you.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Coming up on the broadcast, we`re fact-checking McConnell`s escalating cries of socialism. And why is he saying that about programs that economists say from Biden are working?

Also, historian Michael Beschloss is here on why they say it`s mounting criminal evidence against Trump that echoes a Saturday Night Massacre.



MELBER: Economists are tracking a record drop in American poverty. A large part of it is because of the expanding social net, COVID spending and new Biden programs.

"The New York Times" put this chart up you can see on the far right, 2021, just a huge change in the American poverty rate. A lot of people say it`s a great thing.

But, apparently, Mitch McConnell has looked for any which way to argue against it. Now he says that Democrats are exploiting COVID for political gain, and that there is a road to socialism here.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They were counting on this terrible, but temporary pandemic to be their Trojan horse for permanent socialism.

Case in point, the surreal episode that has unfolded this past week over evictions. They somehow prevailed on President Biden through P.R. stunts.


MELBER: We`re joined now by a special guest, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat from California.

She`s the subject of a new documentary on her life and activism. We`re going to get into that in a minute.

You are known as a progressive. At one time, some might have said you were a lonely liberal. That seems to be shifting, which may be because you and others have led where the party heads.

So, you seem like someone that would be good to respond to Mitch McConnell. He used that term permanent socialism with regard to the safety net.

Your response?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Nice being with you, Ari.

First of all, let me just say it`s outrageous what he said. And I have to ask you and ask the public, is it socialism to want people to have a good- paying job? Is it socialism to want to lift people out of poverty? Is it socialism to want our children to have clean air and clean water? Is it socialism to want to make sure we have good accessible health care for all?

Is it socialism to want to make sure that everyone is lifted into the quality of life that they so deserve as Americans? And, finally, is it socialism to want to have everyone to have access to the ballot box?

So, come on. This man is just trying to -- in many ways, it`s a dog whistle. In many ways, it`s a distraction. In many ways, he`s just trying to have a tagline to distract from the fact that they have no agenda for the American people.

MELBER: I mentioned the doc. It is interesting. I think some viewers have some familiarity with the arc of your career. Some may not. Let`s take a look.


LEE: Working in the community with the Black Panther Party, making sure people have something to eat. Social justice, that`s always been just part of who I am.

The president is authorized to use force. This is going to set the stage for endless war.

Central to democracy is the right to dissent.



MELBER: And this is what I`m most interested to ask you.

People may or may not agree with everything you have stood for. But in a town with a lot of people basically pretending to be whatever`s popular, what some of the kids call just cap, you`re a no cap leader.

And you have taken these risks. And what is it, do you think, in your life or upbringing or your soul that made you take some of those very lonely positions, as I mentioned, whether or not they were popular?

LEE: Thank you, Ari.

I always say that I`m a black woman in America. I was born in El Paso, Texas, during segregation. My mother went to the hospital to deliver me. She needed a C-section. They would not admit her because she was black. She almost died when she finally got admitted.

I almost didn`t get here into this world. I almost was not afforded the opportunity to breathe. So, since a child, racial justice, economic justice, women`s health, fighting for justice for everyone in our country, so that people don`t have to go through what my mother went through, and so they don`t have to worry about not getting into this world, like I almost did not arrive.

MELBER: I didn`t know what your answer would be, but that resonates, because even, for example, some of the positions you took in the Bush era, when most of the party, most of the Democratic Party, was definitely pushing a different foreign policy, but you`re educating us that political opposition or unpopularity is nothing compared to what you and your family were up against.

That makes some sense.

My last question to you, somewhat related, the House has already passed the George Floyd Act. We have gone through here, we`re approaching what will be the last month of summer, so we`re over a year out. Stuck in the Senate. Republicans were saying, oh, well, as long as they get what they wanted on watering down police immunity reform, maybe they would be for it.


What happens next? And are you worried that this is another Mitch McConnell game to delay in the Senate?

LEE: The country is not going to allow for any more delays.

I think that our negotiators, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Senator Booker, Senator Scott, are trying to get this George Floyd bill passed. Once again, you see obstructionists from the Republicans trying to play games.

This is about police reform. This is about black and brown lives. This is about accountability. This is about making sure that no one is above the law, including police officers. So we must get this passed. We must begin to address police reform in a way that has never been addressed before.

And this is a modest step. We passed it in the House. And so the Senate should act. And I`m really pleased that the negotiations are taking place. These are tough negotiations, because you have a Mitch McConnell standing in the way.

But let`s hope and work and make sure that the Senate sees the light and understands that black and brown communities need public safety and police reform, and police officers need to be held accountable.

MELBER: Congresswoman Lee, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

LEE: Thank you. Nice to be with you.

MELBER: Absolutely.

We have a lot more tonight, including, we hear you, we see you. We have MSNBC viewers` reaction and remixes to that savage Schumer moment. We will explain and play it for you.

But, first, how close did we come to what some experts are calling a Trump coup? Presidential historian Michael Beschloss joins us next.



MELBER: Experts warning that new evidence shows Donald Trump was literally trying to stage a -- quote -- "coup."

This is evidence that`s emerged as Donald Trump`s DOJ had a pressure campaign inside to try to actually overrule state election results. That goes farther than we knew, e-mails surfacing showing that a top DOJ official who replaced Bill Barr was basically rebuffing and rejecting the inside job from a colleague`s attempt to do Trump`s bidding on Georgia.

Politico also reporting a top DOJ officials so concerned about all this that they were bracing for a Saturday Night Massacre-style resignation, even writing the resignation letters for himself and a colleague.

All of this echoes the Nixon era Saturday Night Massacre, of course, which was not over overturning an election in the moment, so, in some ways, not as urgent matter, but it was a big deal in the middle of the Watergate probe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorney General Elliot Richardson had resigned. Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus, his successor, was ordered to fire Archibald Cox. He refused, so the president fired him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has abolished special Watergate prosecutor Cox`s office and duties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nixon is not accustomed to having people around him who will not do what they`re told.


MELBER: For more perspective, we`re joined by presidential historian Michael Beschloss. He`s also host of a new show, "Fireside History With Michael Beschloss," on Peacock, our streaming service.

How are you, sir?


MELBER: I`m good.

This "New York Times," bombshell -- and ABC News has had reports as well along the same lines -- really brings into focus how bad it was at the highest levels of government.


MELBER: You have the feeling that, had was broke in real time, before Joe Biden happened to take office, it would have -- quote, unquote -- "felt bigger."

But it`s just as important now. I`m curious your historical perspective.

BESCHLOSS: I think what Trump did in January and the run-up to January 6 was 100 times worse than anything Richard Nixon did, including the Saturday Night Massacre.

That, as you know, was a case where Nixon to fire the special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, sent law enforcement to impound Cox`s files, closed down the office of the special prosecutor, which is pretty scary at the time. But there was big outrage from Congress and Americans. Within a couple of days, Nixon realized he had done the wrong thing. He appointed a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, who was just as tough.

Nixon basically folded. And in the days before Nixon had to resign, which was exactly this week in 1974 in August, there were rumors that Nixon might send the 101st Airborne to surround the White House and use the military to hold onto the office or declare some kind of coup d`etat, military or otherwise, to hold on to being president.

Nixon -- I never thought I`d say this in my life -- had enough respect for the law, compared to Donald Trump, that never really crossed his mind.

In Donald Trump`s case, you look at his tweets during 2020, he keeps on saying, this election is -- I just know it`s going to be fraudulent, can`t rely on the result. Then, in December in January, he`s saying, there will be a big event in Washington the 6th of January. It will be "wild" -- quote, unquote -- be there.

Then he gives that speech on the Ellipse that morning of the 6th of January, and says to people, I`m going to march with you, or at least, you should march, this crowd, up to the Capitol, inviting them to attack the Capitol and Congress, just as those votes are being counted.

The vice president is there. Inviting them to commit an attack that we know now could have ended with an assassination of Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, could have ended up with a hostage crisis that could have lasted for weeks. They might have burned those ballots in those mahogany boxes.

Just because those things did not happen doesn`t mean the crime was not heinous.

MELBER: All very, very important.

I mentioned earlier in the broadcast Professor Hasen, a law professor, has this piece. I want to read the headline here.


It`s pretty crisp, basically, Trump planning a more respectable coup next time, saying that: "Crass and boorish claims of stealing could give way to arcane legal arguments about state legislatures. The potential coup next time will come in neatly filed legal briefs and arguments. It will be no less pernicious."

The theory here being that an unpunished thwarted coup becomes a training exercise, which many have said, and that they can play with this idea of the state legislatures just overruling any state where they are in control, Republicans, that might have gone blue.

BESCHLOSS: Ari, we are living right now hour by hour through a rolling coup d`etat against the voting system and the election system that is so sacred to our democracy that was given us by the founders and those who supported them, an effort to give secretaries of state in various cases, partisan legislatures the ability to say, the Democrat didn`t win the election in this state, even though the votes seem to suggest that he or she did.

In fact, we`re going to overturn the election because it was fraudulent.

This is the game that Donald Trump has been playing since before he became president. You may remember that he was in Bedminster when a number of people who are expert in voter suppression came to see him literally with blueprints for how to suppress the African-American vote, Latino vote, Democratic vote, progressive vote in various states, so that Republicans and conservatives could overcome the tide that was going against them in the electorate.

And this is not -- you were talking about `24, 2024. Ari. I`m worried about 2022. We could have these laws next year. They could force a Republican majority on the country that the country did not vote for.

MELBER: All important.

And the historical context is key and, as you said, in your view, as an independent historian, 100 times worse than Watergate. I hope people are listening.


MELBER: Michael Beschloss, thank you.

Up ahead...

BESCHLOSS: Thank you.

MELBER: Thank you sir.

It`s finally time. We have your ideas for remix soundtracks for the epic Schumer savage moment. We will explain when we come back.



MELBER: Finally, tonight, an update on that Washington moment when Mitch McConnell was reminded who runs the Senate, which we remixed on last night`s show with that savage move.




MELBER: Now, last night, I asked you all for ideas for other soundtracks for that moment.

And we have heard from thousands of you already. So, tonight, we`re debuting the top three, all ideas from MSNBC viewers.

Coming in third is Carly Simon`s anthem that might apply to the minority leader who walked into the Senate like it was his yacht.




MELBER: McConnell strutting in like it was his yacht, but finding out Schumer is the captain now, if you will.

Coming in at number two, several of you recommended Foreigner or M.O.P. for how, let`s be honest, Schumer did McConnell cold.




MELBER: Tactics. Cold. It was that cold.

And here we go. Let me have a drumroll please.


MELBER: Coming in at number one of MSNBC ideas for the remix, a song suggested by many viewers. I`m talking about a Percy Mayfield classic popularized by the great Ray Charles, "Hit the Road Jack."




MELBER: That was the clear winner. Many of you thought the message was obviously, hit the road, Mitch.

And it`s fitting you actually all nominated a song from such a great artist from Georgia, because that moment is not just about Chuck Schumer, Schumer could only invoke the majority`s power because Georgia voters told Mitch to hit the road, turning a red state blue after a bruising four years.

And, as McConnell waits his turn, you can bet Georgia is still on his mind. So, Georgia`s Ray Charles gets the last word tonight.




MELBER: Yes, Georgia is going to stay on a lot of people`s minds, because, well, Georgia`s what changed everything in our politics this year.

Now, you can`t really top Mr. Charles. But if you all have more ideas for more remix songs, you can still send them to us. You can post your song idea for what matches that moment or extends it @AriMelber on Facebook or Twitter. You can always link with me at

And I want to be clear. We don`t know what`s going to happen tomorrow night. If we get enough good song ideas from you or ones that we haven`t thought of, maybe we will remix it again from scratch tomorrow night.

Shout-out to everyone who participated, all the great ideas we got. And, of course, shout-out to Ray Charles and "Georgia on our mind.


That does it for me.