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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 9/30/21

Guests: Howard Dean, Ezra Levin, Maya Wiley, Libby Casey, Howard Dean, David Plouffe


Democrats scramble to negotiate on the infrastructure bills. What do new subpoenas say about the January 6 probe? What does red and blue state America look like? Members of Congress share deeply personal stories about abortion in congressional testimony.



Hi, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And, right now, we are covering a very unpredictable night in Washington, Democrats continuing their clash over the massive Biden spending plan.

And I have got a lot of news for you. Let me get right to it.

Speaker Pelosi is facing down that ongoing progressive pushback, and still vowing a vote tonight on part one of the proposed Biden spending on infrastructure.

Progressives are vowing to stand firm on their pretty rare threat to their own leader. They say, as of right now, today, going into the evening in Washington, they will vote down and try to tank any watered-down deal that pushes infrastructure without the separate deal they want of liberal priorities for the safety net and that spending, which, of course, faces this uphill battle in the Senate, largely thanks to conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, who has been driving this standoff, while keeping his cards close to the vest.

You can see him here on the screen today surrounded by reporters, as he has been for much of the week. In fact, for months, Manchin has pushed back on liberals` plans, without publicly saying anything about the spending number in this second package that he would support.

And no bill will pass the Democratic Senate without it. So, all of this was the state of play. And then everything changed today, with this new, somewhat dramatic by Washington standards, a new leak that shows, all the way back in July, Manchin set out then more specific numbers in a written summary, a top line, as they call it, for Democrat Chuck Schumer, and agreed to up to $1.5 trillion in that second spending package, which is less than half of the $3.5 trillion that most the Democratic Party and liberals are pushing for as of tonight.

So what we have here is a development. As a narrative matter, as a story that`s interesting. As a human matter, it shows you just how far apart the Democrats are for spending that could affect your life and your family`s life.

This changes the public understanding of the whole clash that Washington`s been going through. And Manchin all but confirmed that this leaked document came from his office today, as he spoke out about the spending that he backs, what his limits are, and opposing what he views as a too-large liberal proposal.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I brought the 1.5, as you have seen, I think, by now. The 1.5 was always done from my heart

I have never been a liberal in any way, shape or the form. And I have voted pretty consistently all my whole life, and all they need to do is, we have to elect more -- I guess, for them to get theirs, elect like more liberals.


MELBER: Elect more liberals. He`s not a liberal.

And he is putting out the number that for him is, he says, the non-liberal level of spending that he will support. And he is an elected senator. He is certainly entitled to his policy stance.

And he said there about being consistent, he has consistently been like this on many of these policies.

But this is THE BEAT. We do facts around here.

So, sorry, Senator Manchin, but we have to point out the other objective fact, which is that Senator Manchin has spent the past two months during this high-stakes battle, as many Americans have their livelihood and their education and their family leave hanging in the balance, Senator Manchin has been publicly acting like he had not worked on the numbers.


QUESTION: President Biden said to give him a number. Have you given him a number yet on what you would like that price tag to be?

MANCHIN: No, I haven`t worked on the numbers. No, I really haven`t.

QUESTION: Three-point-five still is too high for you?

MANCHIN: That`s pretty high.


MELBER: "No, I haven`t worked on the numbers." No, I haven`t worked on the numbers."

This is right in that line between politician-speak and lawyer-speak. Apologies to all lawyers. A little folksy. It`s, I haven`t done that.

But you have done that. Sorry. Not trying to be insulting. We`re very respectful here. But you have done that.

This is important as we go forward, particularly because the good or bad faith of politicians spending your tax money is also a big part of tonight`s vote and the clash ahead. Senator Manchin did not say that he was keeping his numbers private, which is true and which people do in negotiations, to be fair.

He claimed he had not worked on the numbers, which his own memo today shows is false.

Let`s run back just that part.


MANCHIN: No, I haven`t worked on the numbers. No, I really haven`t.


MELBER: But you have, by your own office`s admission, two months ago.

So, this matters, because it`s all on the line.


And, today, a former top Democratic staffer who worked for the leader, Harry Reid, reading between the lines, says the memo`s developments feeds the idea that Joe Manchin`s plan all along has been to pass infrastructure first, and then bail on the spending for the Biden safety net.

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi vowing a vote tonight.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I think we`re in a good place right now. We`re making progress. I`m only envisioning taking it up and winning it.

You cannot tire. You cannot concede. It`s -- this is the fun part.


MELBER: The fun part.

We should also note, amidst all this news, Congress did avert that potential government shutdown today. And, moments ago, Democratic leaders are telling lawmakers any infrastructure vote tonight could come later after 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

So you take it all together, what do we have here? We have learned something. If you care about the results, which is why a lot of people watch the news, or you`re just interested in learning about the people, we learned that, for months, Joe Manchin named a number and then went around in public.

That means telling his own constituents and the press and everyone else that not only did he not have a number, he hadn`t worked on the numbers. This goes to the heart of what`s ahead. Will the numbers move?> Which numbers are real? And who is to be believed, if Democrats have to put their faith aside and strike a deal to pass something, hoping they will get more good faith negotiation going forward?

We begin one-on-one with a very special guest. It`s the perfect kind of expert and insider you would want to hear from a night like this to understand what`s happening. You know the face and the name. It`s David Plouffe. He was President Obama`s campaign manager in 2008 and a senior adviser to President Obama.

And I say that in all seriousness, because you have been in these rooms. It`s complicated. It`s difficult. Sometimes, it looks different outside the room than inside the room.

Walk us through exactly what is happening tonight, what insights you think you can share about what`s going to happen in the House vote and the Manchin standoff.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, Ari, first of all, that`s why Nancy Pelosi is historically good at her job, because she actually finds this fun.


PLOUFFE: I`m happy not be in Washington today. It brings back memories, including the debt limit, which I went through when I was in the White House.

Listen, Nancy Pelosi is skilled. And I think she`s got a plan to land the planes here. This Manchin memo -- I guess you could call the Manchin- Schumer memo -- 1.5 is a long way from 3.5. I mean, my personal view has been clear for some time that the final reconciliation number wasn`t going to be 3.5.

So the question is, how north of 1.5 can it get to keep Manchin and Sinema in line? At this point, I do not buy -- and maybe I will prove to be naive -- that this suggested Manchin`s plan all along, and even as of tonight, he plans to bail on the non-infrastructure piece of the package.

I think all these things travel together. But this is going to be a big pill for some progressives to swallow, because, if we end up at 1.5 or 18. or 2, a long way from 3.5 -- I will make a general point.

To the extent that anybody out there in the country who`s going to decide the 2022 election is paying attention -- and I don`t think many of the voters we`re talking about are -- all they know is, the Democrats are talking about trillions, and they don`t seem to be in agreement.

There`s no coverage and therefore no storytelling about what`s in these bills. And, eventually, that`s a solvable problem, because, if you`re able to pass these things, that`s going to be a big part of Democrats` campaign for the next -- the next 14 months, essentially.

But you got to get outputs, because, right now, it`s just big numbers. It doesn`t mean anything to anybody. And Democrats are arguing. I`m not overly alarmed about that. But the Democrats have to get in the business of going community by community, media market by media market, and telling the story of what they supported.

And let`s not forget, even more popular than what the spending is going to be used for is the tax changes. And I think Democrats can really lean into that and say every Republican opposed raising taxes on the wealthy or raising the capital gains rate.


And some of in that Manchin proposal, as well as what is on the table in the Congress, is basically restoring some of the tax rates that existed before the aberrant Donald Trump presidency cut them. And, as you say, there`s widespread support for some of those kinds of changes, which goes to, how do you fund it?

David stays with us as our kickoff expert, and we want to bring in on the ground "The Washington Post" reporter Libby Casey, who`s been tracking all of this.

Libby, is this Washington as usual, and you just throw out what the politicians say, and that`s why some people tune it out completely, or does it matter that Joe Manchin claimed to not have a number when he had one?

LIBBY CASEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I want to focus on one part of Senator Manchin`s statement.

He does this thing where he says, "I`m not a liberal." And, of course, we know that`s what voters back in West Virginia want to hear, right? This is a red state.

But what you hear from progressives is that what they`re trying to pass in the Build Back Better plan, in this big package that`s talking about -- as David said, let`s talk about what`s in it, universal pre-K, extending the child tax credit, free community college, fighting the climate crisis, things that do poll well.


That`s President Biden`s agenda. And so progressives will say, look, this is the president`s agenda, not the liberal wing of the party, the president`s agenda. So, even as Senator Manchin tries to pivot away that focus, progressives are saying, we`re actually in line with the president of the United States, who you can say a lot of things about President Biden, but people don`t necessarily think of him as like the farthest left progressive driving the train.

As far as Senator Manchin and the number, I mean, there`s a lot that happens in front of the cameras and a lot that happens behind the cameras. And, I mean, David Plouffe knows this better than any of us, Ari, about what goes on that`s away from the cameras and away from reporters.

But the big question everybody`s minds here is, can they pass something? Because, if you talk to anyone, they all say, any Democrats, they all say failure is not an option.

Now, whether they`re talking about the hard infrastructure bill, the physical infrastructure, whether they`re talking about the Build Back Better plan, they know that they have no way of winning the midterms if they cannot get success in the Biden agenda.

And let`s take it out of the political range. They have got to go back to their voters and say, we were able to accomplish what we came there to do, what you put us in office to do. So, across the board, they say, we have got to pass something.

I mean, will it happen tonight, Ari? Now, we know nothing`s planned until after 9:00 p.m. tonight, when that infrastructure vote could still come up. Speaker Pelosi does not like to bring up bills unless she knows she has the votes to pass them. But it really is still an open question as to whether they will put this out there.

And, I mean, she will know -- she will know the count before she brings it up, believe me. The progressives are not holding any punches about how they plan to vote. But when she floated out there to let it fail, that doesn`t mean it`s dead forever, but how would that be spun in the media? It is a worrisome question.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, David knows that.

He was mentioning the speaker`s known proficiency before. And this is classic strategy, David. I mean, Sun Tzu said, the true warrior only fights battles they have already won. And when you run the floor, whether it`s LBJ or Speaker Pelosi, you`re in charge. So you have to have won the battle, know the number, and then execute on it, which would suggest that she knows something that other people don`t, that she has enough makeup votes from the Republican side on infrastructure to cover the balance if liberals defect, or not as many liberals are going to defect as some think.

The liberals have vowed up into the night again, I have emphasized this in our program. This is a rarity. I mean, you just don`t usually see the House Progressive Caucus make this kind of maneuver against Speaker Pelosi.

And she`s handling it, as you said, in her fun way.

David, if Manchin is 1.5 and only willing to budge a bit beyond that, how do you interpret Schumer and others spending so long at this much higher number? They knew all along what we learned today, and a lot of people were going, what was the thinking?

PLOUFFE: Well, Ari, I`m really looking forward to reading coverage in "The Washington Post" and elsewhere that`s going to get into the ticktock of the last 60 days.

Listen, I think, at this point, whether your Manchin, Sinema or the progressives in the House, the only thing worse than not getting your way or a lot of your way is getting nothing done. It`s still inconceivable to me that the Democratic Party is not going to find a way to enact the bulk of Joe Biden`s agenda.

And I will come to the politics in a minute. There`s no guarantee Democrats are going to hold this trifecta again. I hope I`m wrong about that. But you got to take your swings when you have got the chance.

And free community college, child care, infrastructure, these tax changes, I think there`s going to be a lot of voters out there who worked so hard to organize, to vote in 2020, to say, what did we get for that? So you have got to report back to those voters that it mattered.

So -- and, listen, presidents -- Bill Clinton -- I was working in the House of Representatives in `93 when his economic agenda, including some deficit reduction package, looked like it was dead. The Affordable Care Act had nine political lives. Even Republican presidents have as well.

So it looks impossible to see how these pieces will come together until the very last minute. And I think Nancy Pelosi has a plan here. I think what I`m looking for is, we haven`t yet seen the progressives` reaction -- at least I haven`t seen it to the 1.5 number specifically.

And I think a big question here is, what is that ceiling it with Joe Manchin and maybe Sinema? Maybe we`re only talking about Manchin. If it`s a hard 1.5, this is even going to test Nancy Pelosi`s skill. If you have got a little bit of room to move there, you can see how this comes together.

And then the Democrats have to put away the swords. People are not going to get everything they want and say, this is still a historic achievement. So let`s, A, make sure it gets executed well. This is a lot of money to get out the door and make sure it gets spent effectively.

And do that local storytelling, which really for the last few months they haven`t been able to do, because it`s all been this haggling and these big numbers that mean nothing to the average American.


MELBER: Yes. Yes.

Well, it`s very interesting hearing David Plouffe talk it through, because, as mentioned, you have been there.

I`m running over on time here, because we have a lot of breaking news.

But, Libby, in 30 seconds, what should we be watching for tonight as we approach the vote?

CASEY: Watch to see if the infrastructure vote even happens, and then watch to see if it passes or if it fails, Ari. It`s already passed in the Senate, so the House is where the action has to happen.

But, remember, unlike the debt ceiling or unlike the government shutdown that was looming and has been averted, this is the deadline that`s based on politics, not on a ticking clock, right? This is not about like paying your credit card bill on time, like raising the debt ceiling.

So, if they fail tonight, if it doesn`t come together tonight, we come at this again tomorrow, it lives to see another day. This is a deadline set by politics.

MELBER: All such interesting points, a lot on the line.

Libby Casey, David Plouffe, thank you.

Let me tell viewers what`s coming up, because progressives say they have a plan to break some of the holdouts in the Senate.

Later tonight, we turn to other important issues, Maya Wiley back on THE BEAT eyeing what these subpoenas tell us about the January 6 probe.

And that`s not all. It is a big night in Washington, so we called in a big gun. Steve Kornacki is here. He will be at the Big Board. I will explain why, with Howard Dean and Michael Steele.

A special edition of THE BEAT. Stay with us.


MELBER: We have been covering on the march by Democrats to hold this vote tonight. That is on, Speaker Pelosi saying, this is the fun part. It`s a race to figure out whether Biden`s agenda moves forward or not.


There is hyperbole in the news, I admit it, but this is a big night. And we have called in a very interesting guest who`s actually been a leader on many of these issues

Ezra Levin is co-executive director of the progressive group Indivisible, which has chapters nationwide and has pushed the Democratic Party to sort of reform itself. And if you go back a little farther, no shade -- he just is experienced -- Vermont Governor, presidential candidate Howard Dean also pushed the party on progressive issues, among others, and went on to run it as DNC chair.

So, we think this is an interesting group.

Ezra, we laid it out at the top of the show. Your thoughts about this issue tonight in Congress?


Well, I think there are three possible outcomes tonight. Either there is no vote because it gets pulled because the votes aren`t there to pass it. There is a vote and it fails because the Progressive Caucus is holding firm, and everything we know about where the Progressive Caucus is, they`re holding firm, or there is a vote and it succeeds, and it succeeds because Republicans actually vote for it.

I don`t think that third option is going to happen. So I think it`s really between the first two. The reason why the Progressive Caucus is holding firm on this is because this was the deal that was agreed to over a month ago, that these two bills, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda, were going to move together.

They`re not saying that they want one or the other. They`re saying, hey, let`s keep to the original plan, keep on negotiating, and get to the final end of this negotiation with both bills passed and sent to President Biden to sign into law.

And I think that`s ultimately what we`re going to say.

MELBER: And, Ezra, you`re -- just briefly, you`re suggesting that that was publicly known that they were linked?

LEVIN: Oh, it was absolutely publicly known.

I would go back and look at the statements of somebody like Senator Joe Manchin, who endorsed the two-track process over a month ago. It is not something that progressives are making up. It`s not something that any faction of the Democratic Party is making up.

This was an agreement made by the Democratic President Joe Biden. It was made by Chuck Schumer, the leader of Democrats in the Senate.


LEVIN: And it was made by Nancy Pelosi in the House. Everybody agreed, OK, we`re going to do two things. We`re going to pass the bipartisan bill, and we`re going to pass the reconciliation bill, and we`re going to do it together.

MELBER: Well, Ezra...

LEVIN: So, that was -- yes.

MELBER: You may detect the facetiousness in my leading question. And Howard puts up with me on a regular basis, so he knows about this, because I`m just a country lawyer.

But you know never heard about it? Joe Manchin says he never heard about this. I know it was a headline. It was on TV. It was in the Congress. He`s sort of roughly aware of big things in Congress. But we did put together a little history lesson. Take a look.


PELOSI: Make sure you understand this, that when people say, well, I`m not going to vote for this unless I see that, there ain`t going to be no bipartisan bill unless we are going to have the reconciliation bill.

QUESTION: Progressives feel, though, you`re not dealing in good faith. They felt that there was a deal made before...


MANCHIN: I never knew about that. I have never heard of it.

QUESTION: So, you never -- you were never part of a deal to link the two bills together?

MANCHIN: Never heard about that, about two of them were going to be together?


MANCHIN: Why do you think we worked so hard to separate them?


MELBER: Howard?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: This is a problem of two senators from conservative states that are playing some sort of game.

I`m not sure what it is. I can predict what Manchin is doing, because I served with him, and I know Manchin. Sinema is the one that`s the problem. I think -- I mean, they`re both problems, but I think Manchin will be there at a price eventually.

West Virginia makes too much money out of this. And he`s going to have to go home and explain to all the West Virginians why there`s no opioid money, why there`s no bridges, why there`s no infrastructure if he doesn`t vote for this. He`s going to find a way.

The problem is, that`s not good enough, because you have got to get Sinema. And she is the sphinx of all this. Nobody can figure out what is making her tick. I mean, I have already predicted that she`s not coming back, but that`s not until 2024. And she really holds the key.

Manchin gets the ink, because that`s what he`s about here and that`s what this is about. But I don`t understand what Sinema is doing and why she`s in the Senate.

MELBER: Does he get the ink, Governor, or does he get the pixels?


DEAN: Who, Manchin? He likes the pixels and the ink. I guess the pixels are -- who knows what`s more important these days? He -- they all read the papers, as well as look at the Internet.

MELBER: Yes. Yes. No, I think all of it. It`s the pixels, the ink and the air.

Ezra, I`m only jumping because I got Kornacki on standby in literally a minute.

We will have you back. Governor Dean stays.

In 60 seconds, we turn to the question, how do two senators have this much power? We have a special report, Steve Kornacki right here in 60 seconds.



MELBER: Welcome back to this special edition of THE BEAT.

The Biden agenda is hanging in the balance tonight. Speaker Pelosi says she will bring the infrastructure bill to a vote tonight sometime after 9:00 p.m. Eastern, major implications for Americans.

The entire fight shows as well, as many guests tonight and other nights have mentioned, how powerful one senator can be in this divided Congress.

In fact, our friend Michael Steele was on the show and said something that sparked the very conversation we`re about to have with Kornacki right now.


MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Google a political map of the country, not at the state level, but at the county level. And when you see that map, and how red that map is, the country`s a lot redder than 2020 may lead you to believe.


MELBER: Well, we did more than Google.

Called upon by Mr. Steele to act, we brought in the map guru of America. You know what it is. You know who I`m talking about.

It`s Steve Kornacki on a non-election night. He is our national political correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC. I also want to shout out he is the author of "The Red and the Blue." And since Michael suggested this, it was only fair to bring him back, along with Howard Dean, who are here for this special conversation, a deep dive on the national political situation, the mechanics of Congress, and just what is happening there tonight with why.

So we`re going to begin with Steve Kornacki`s report.

Steve, take it away.


I mean, what we`re talking about here is the partisan distribution of voters. A couple different ways, I guess, to look at this. First, the map everybody knows. This is the 2020 election. Biden wins. There`s the electoral vote count. Here are the red states. Here are the blue states.

You see, basically, we know Democrats concentrated a lot on the West Coast, the Northeast, somewhat here in the Midwest. Biden was able to flip a couple states. But in that clip you played, you had Michael Steele talking about the county strength.

Now, the 50 states in the country, there`s more than 3, 100 counties in the United States. So this map is going to change here in a second, and you`re going to see all of the counties in the country.

This is the red/blue map for the counties. And, obviously, you see a lot more red here than blue. In the 2020 election, Donald Trump won more than 2, 500 counties. Again, there`s just over 3, 100 of them. More than 2, 500 went for Donald Trump.

Now, obviously, not every county is the exact same size. Here`s like a very dramatic example I could give you. If you were to really Zoom in here in Southern California, I`m going to circle it. What I just circled is Los Angeles County in Southern California.

This is a big blue county, the city of Los Angeles, about 10 million people. There`s about 10 million residents in Los Angeles County. Joe Biden won Los Angeles County overwhelmingly. In terms of population, though, Los Angeles County would be the same size as Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, roughly.

If you were to combine all of those red states, the population would be about the same as Los Angeles County. And yet obviously the number of counties, the land distribution, there`s a lot more landmass, there`s a lot more red than blue one here, land vs. population. So that gets the story this divide here that you see in the county map.

Here`s the actual number, Trump won 2, 574 counties, Biden 539. This has become -- this century, at least, this has become the story of our politics. And Clinton in the 1990s won a ton of counties. He won a lot more of the interior of the country.

But this has become the story. But this, by the way, what you`re looking at here, is if you sized every state in every county relative to its population, this would be the map. But this is just a blob here. It looks like a Rorschach test.

But if you were to size the high population areas to the same scale as low end -- in low population areas much lower, this would become what the red/blue map looks like. But, again, Ari, what it basically gets at here is, look, the distribution of the popular, Democrats in cities, increasingly in suburbs.


Republicans used to be very strong in the suburbs. Democrats now win it by double digits. It`s rural areas in the country. This is the 2020 election. It`s rural areas of the country overwhelmingly Republican. We talked to the racial component of this. This is the 2020 election here.

Trump, white voters, he wins by double digits. African-Americans, Hispanics, core Democratic constituency, but then it`s among white voters there`s this big divide. This is the divide that`s emerged really in the last 20 years or so. White voters with college degrees, they tend to be much more likely to be in metro areas, in cities, in suburbs.

This has become a core Democratic constituency, Democrats doing better and better with this group every election. Republicans, white voters without a college degree -- and, again, often exurbs, rural areas in particular -- this has become more and more of a Republican constituency.

So it really translates into that map. It`s metro areas. It`s cities. That`s where the Democratic strength is. It`s the rural African-American South. But, otherwise, when you get outside of metro areas, when you get outside of the rural African-American South, it`s basically all red.

That`s what the geographic map of the country looks like.

MELBER: It`s just fascinating, Steve. And we listen to you on election nights, but what you`re saying here, that breakdown is a crash course in what`s happening, of course, in the Congress right now, in particular the way you showed -- some people might say, oh, well, the counties are just by land.

But you just showed us -- and I want to get Michael in on this point -- that Democrats still used to do better, as you showed, in `96 across that land. And that`s shifted, and it`s become more polarized.

Michael, take it away.


Look, Steve encapsulated what I said at the time I had to say in that clip. Look, the reality of it is, my basic point is, everyone likes to look at the top line. They like to look more broadly at the states. And Steve walks us through that every election cycle.

What I appreciate about what he did just now was to take it a little bit further down, a little bit more granular, to see why the Republicans begin to behave the way they behave. They have strength in places that you otherwise wouldn`t think about.

Even when you pull out that map in California, there are counties where Republicans have strength in a place like California, even though Democrats may win the state. That`s where the Republicans are playing.

And that`s why they act and behave the way they behave and act is because, where they are closest to the ground, they see more people nodding their head yes than shaking their head no. That`s my core point.

So, as Steve again appropriately pointed out, you go back 20 years, almost 30 years, you see where the Democrats were competitive in those very same areas that are now controlled by Republicans. Those races in `92, in `96, and even `98 were a much more favorable playground for Democrats politically.

That has shifted, and not paying attention to that is why you see a lot of the problems that we have right now. And I have to endorse real quick "Red and Blue."


STEELE: I teach this book, Steve`s book, in my class at Brown University, because he nails it so exactly.

So, really a great shout-out to Steve for what he does in making us help better understand the numbers.

MELBER: Shout-out to the book. And that`s interesting to know you`re teaching it.

Now, we could leave it there. Kornacki broke it down. Michael walked us through.

But we have a chair of a different party. Howard Dean used to run the Democratic Party and had a little bit of a different view on this.

And I want, Steve, if possible, if you could bring us back to the blob Rorschach, the people map, which is just one way for us to see that, especially in 2020, things turned more blue.

Take it away, for your perspective, former Democratic Party Chair Dean.

DEAN: Well, the central problem -- there are several central problems.

The biggest problem of all is that the counties and the states that Michael talked about and that Steve talked about are older, getting older and whiter. And they`re terrified of the future. Their kids are leaving. They`re teaching stuff in the schools that`s not useful.

The older people don`t know how to use an Internet. They`re losing their jobs. And if they can`t use the Internet, they can`t get another job. And this is pure fear and anger that`s motivating Trump`s voters. And it`s why he`s so successful.

The problem is that the future, first of all, belongs to the blue areas, at least right now. Young people overwhelmingly vote Democratic, not because they love the Democrats, but because that horrible, pessimistic, furious vision of the Republicans is just totally unacceptable to people who are young.

And it also highlights the structural defects that we have got that are now an emergency after 250 years, the Electoral College, which doesn`t make any sense at all. The corrupt election laws that are being passed, we have had experience with that through Jim Crow.


We have the new Jim Crow in Georgia, and they still voted for two Democratic senators for the first time since segregation was broken. So, the country is really at an inflection point, a point. And the fury and anger between the red and the blue is explainable by how terrified the right-wing is and the conservatives are of the future.


So, Steve, walk us through then, yes, your response to that, any of the maps you want us to revisit. And I`m curious, Steve, how you view this tonight, at a time when the Senate is not responding to the map that`s on our screen, which is just the people map. Steve, it`s responding to a very different set of incentives.

KORNACKI: Well, we don`t have -- right, Ari.

I go back to the first screen here. The Senate is sort of the Electoral College. Whole states are represented. Every state gets two. So it`s not like when you start -- when you start showing the county map here, this is -- you would draw congressional districts, it would be 435.

You can combine a bunch of different counties. So, yes, obviously, when you start talking about the U.S. Senate vs. the House, a state like West Virginia proportionately is going to have more of a voice, I think, than it would in the House, just, again, every state getting two Senate seats there.

But I think the big point, when I look at this, it`s this screen right here that we showed you. It`s just that -- the story of this century, really, after `96, starting with that Clinton -- with that Bush-Gore election in 2000.

I mean, just look what happened between 1996, when Bill Clinton got reelected, and 2000, when Al Gore, with that election that went to the Supreme Court, lost to George W. Bush. I mean, look at all the territory that Democrats -- this was a very close election here.

In fact, Al Gore got 600,000 more votes in the popular vote than George W. Bush. But look how much territory was shed there in that basic divide, that sort of rural/urban, rural/metropolitan that`s just been growing in the last 20 years.

That was kind of set in place in 2000, that basic trajectory, those two groups of white voters kind of going in two different directions that really began accelerating, I think, in 2000.

And, really, everything has just been sort of entrenching more and more in the last 20 years, I think leading to where we are now.


And so let me take that to Michael Steele with tonight`s clash, because we have here where the public is, and it`s not an endorsement of everything that the Democratic agenda wants. But on the domestic front and spending, when you look at infrastructure, 68 percent, which is pretty huge.

The safety net, depending on how it`s described, another strong majority, 62, climate change, 66, taxing corporations also high. And then overlapping with Steve`s point, look at the senators who are who are making these decisions here, it`s not 5 or 3 percent. They are less -- Manchin, less than 1 percent of the U.S. is what he represents, Sinema just about 2 percent, Michael.

And yet they hold all the power right now.

STEELE: Yes, well, that`s because of the balance in the Senate at the moment, and the way the country has decided to set this all in motion.

Remember, we`re here because this is how voters voted in these respective jurisdictions. Imagine what it would have been like if Georgia had flipped the other way. That`s how thin the margins are right now. And here`s at the crux of it.

I know this is something that Howard really appreciate, is what you have right now is, the Republican Party is playing politics. They`re looking at the same thing that all of us are looking at here. And they`re saying, hmm, what are the politics saying to us?

Well, the politics are saying that both of these senators, Sinema and Manchin, are in conservative to slightly to moderately conservative states. All right, we can use that. And that`s what`s -- that`s the politics here.

The question for Democrats is, well, how do you leverage against that? You saw Nancy Pelosi sort of go out there and push on the first infrastructure bill and got the vote no one thought that she could get.

Now the test becomes, on this remaining piece, what she`s able to do. I get she understands the politics. I`m just not sure if the Democrats understand the politics in the Senate, because trust me, if Mitch McConnell were in Chuck Schumer`s place, we`d be having a whole different conversation about filibuster, about what bills get passed and get through when and how.

So that`s the difference here when you`re looking at such narrow numbers. It forces the politics. And only one side, in my view, right now is playing the politics.

MELBER: It`s very interesting going this deep.

Michael, you can suggest that we do these reports anytime on air or off. And it looks like we will program the show around Michael and Howard`s suggestions.


And, Steve, I`m not going to play a clip, but, in summation, do you have any response to Leslie Jones "Saturday Night Live," who has been such a fan of yours online with her commentary?


KORNACKI: Just did I`m extremely flattered that -- very kind to me, and I appreciate it greatly.

MELBER: All right, Leslie.

I hope she`s listening. I hope she hears about it.

But, again, on a night when a lot hangs in the balance where people`s lives, Kornacki gave us a real lens to understand the Congress.

Dean and Steele, our friends, we will have you back.

Fit in a break, but up ahead, MAGA insiders just got hit with subpoenas. Maya Wiley is here.

And revelations on the Trump Org indictment, reports of a ledger with Donald Trump`s name on it. We will see Maya right after this break.


MELBER: The January 6 committee, charging ahead with its MAGA riot probe, issuing 11 new subpoenas to many in Trump`s orbit, and zeroing in on a group called Women for America First.

They helped organize several rallies after Trump lost the election, including the infamous Stop the Steal rally on the 6th, the panel now demanding, under the threat of subpoena here, documents from Maggie Mulvaney, former Trump aide Mick Mulvaney`s niece -- the committee says that she was in touch with the rally organizers and the White House -- as well as a name you may know, Trump campaign aide Katrina Pierson, who was reportedly a kind of a go-between from the White House to these rally organizers.


She`s also been a vocal member of the group encouraging Trump supporters to fight.


KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Today, right now, we are going to fight for him.

When you go home, do not rest. Do not sleep, because liberty is at stake, and we`re going to do our duty as patriots. We`re going to show up, we`re going to rally. We`re going to show up at our state capitols and put them on notice.


MELBER: Being put on notice is a legal term.

Now, she`s on notice she must turn over documents to the committee by basically mid-October, tight deadline, and has to give a deposition by November. The committee also taking the rare step of subpoenaing one of its own, targeting a current House staffer working in the office of a Republican congresswoman, an interesting development.

Joining us now is former prosecutor and mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.

Good to see you.

Your thoughts on what we can glean from these new 11 subpoenas.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Ari, one of the things that we know from a ProPublica report was that Amy Kremer, who was also subpoenaed, part of the women for the real housewives of Donald Trump, was also someone who communicated directly with Katrina Pierson, we think, or at least there`s some reporting that suggests, about concerns about the rally.

And so one of the things that`s so important for the House to understand is, how much notice did rally organizers have that this could be violent? What were their concerns? There`s already facts in the record, apparently, just from the ProPublica reporting that the White House had been put on notice and that Katrina Pierson herself had been put on notice.

It`s one of the reasons why the Alex Jones, Infowars conspiracy theorists contingent was given speaking roles the day before, on January 5. But, again, how much did they know? How much did they realize that they should have taken more action to curb the possibility that there was going to be violence at the Capitol?

And, particularly, how much did Donald Trump directly know? Because, as we know, one of the issues here is how his words directly incited those who stormed the Capitol, who said, we were invited here, we came here to fight for Trump.


And, as you remind us, the coordination or communication is important to look into. And if it -- if, under full evidence, it proves to be minor or weak, then the committee has an obligation to say, well, they didn`t necessarily find that.

If it proves to be incriminating, that`s important for the government to know and perhaps act on. And so that brings me to the question about what any investigation does, which is try to lock down both sides of any chain of communication.

So, right now, they`re hitting these folks. But, as for what was coming out of the White House, the Biden administration signaled it would turn over January 6 stuff. Then it kind of wobbled a little and said, well, case by case, leaving room to maneuver.

I want to just say that it`s pretty simple here. Either they turn it over, or they don`t. If they do turn it over, then Donald Trump, under the rules, meaning they have a process for turning it over, there`s like 30 days with the archives where they can either object or sue.

And we will put up on the screen suing would create an interesting situation where the former president could effectively sue the administration, Congress or both, claiming that he still has some kind of leftover privilege.

Your view on that standoff?

WILEY: Well, as we know, Donald Trump`s favorite privilege is to claim executive privilege that really says, I can block any information I want from being shared with the American public.

You remember that the Congress has very broad hours to get access to information to do its constitutional duty. And this commission is charged with finding the causes, learning the lessons, and making recommendations around preventing this in the future.

And that does mean that I think there`s an uphill battle to block the release of any of this information to Congress to do its constitutional duty in its article -- its constitutional powers of subpoena and of information.

And I think what the Biden administration is doing is just being cautious.

MELBER: Understood.

Maya Wiley, always good to have you back on the program. And appreciate you walking us through each of those items.

When we come back, we turn to another super important story. Obviously, Washington is watching the vote tonight, but that`s not all the Congress is doing. Republicans have found end-runs around the courts to try to overturn Roe vs. Wade and evade a Supreme Court review.

So we have an update on the deeply personal stories that are being told about defending choice in America.


And we also, of course, keep an eye on the action the Hill for you throughout THE BEAT tonight.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Congress is very busy, but it can do more than one thing.

And there was quite a searing hearing in Congress today featuring lawmakers testifying as witnesses, which is something they can do procedurally, to discuss choice in America, the hearing featuring people sharing deeply personal stories.

Here is Congresswoman Cori Bush.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): To all the black women and girls who have had abortions and will have abortions, we have nothing to be ashamed of.

In the summer of 1994, I was raped, I became pregnant, and I chose to have an abortion. Choosing to have an abortion was the hardest decision I had ever made. But at 18 years old, I knew it was the right decision for me.


MELBER: She`s speaking about her own personal legal choice and also making the choice to share the difficult story to put something of a face on these decisions.


Congresswoman Lee discussed her experience before Roe.


REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): I`m compelled to speak out because of the real risks of the clock being turned back to those days before Roe vs. Wade, to the days when I was a teenager and had a back alley abortion in Mexico.

I was one of the lucky ones, Madam Chair. A lot of girls and women in my generation didn`t make it. They died from unsafe abortions.


MELBER: Congresswoman Jayapal has been one of the progressive leaders clashing with Pelosi about tonight`s spending vote, but, while playing that role this week, she also took time to speak out and explain what she calls her tough choice after a dangerous first pregnancy.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I consulted with my doctors, who told me that any future pregnancy would likely also be high-risk to me and the child, similar to what I had gone through with Janak.

I very much wanted to have more children, but I simply could not imagine going through that again.


MELBER: An important hearing today, and we wanted you to hear directly from these individuals and their stories.

The Supreme Court may ultimately weigh in. There`s the Texas issue, which they have ducked. And there`s a Mississippi case that could come within weeks.

We will be right back.


MELBER: The big day on Capitol Hill turning to a big night on Capitol Hill.

Democratic leaders, as of this hour, promise plowing forward on the infrastructure bill. It could come after 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

There will be full coverage on MSNBC, including right now on "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID."