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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, December 14, 2020

Guests: Adam Berman, Gretchen Whitmer, Malcolm Kenyatta, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Bill Feehan, Melissa Murray


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks out. Attorney General Bill Barr resigns. The Electoral College formally certifies Joe Biden's win as president. COVID-19 vaccinations begin in the United States. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar discusses the COVID vaccine and health care disparities.



Hi, Ari.

I don't know where you're going to start, but you're the best person to make sense of it.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Well, that's sweet of you, Nicolle.

I'm curious what you think. Bill Barr leaves, certainly, as a nonpartisan or objective statement, one of the most controversial attorneys general since the Nixon era, has a lot of answering to do.

The timeline, as you were just reporting and discussing with your guests, sounds a little bit like it was what Barr was hoping to get out of this, including saving face.

I'm curious what you think, having managed a White House -- these kind of White House situations.

WALLACE: I think that, you know, Mike Schmidt of "The New York Times" reporting that this was part of what Barr wanted, to be out of there, I think you have to ask, why? What didn't Barr want to be witness to or complicit in?

And I think, if you take their -- "The Times"' reporting and you add to it what Robert Costa just reported from "Washington Post," that his sources are telling him to watch what happens next, I think that brings in the two big sins, in Trump's eyes, that Barr committed were not going along with the lies about election fraud, that the angry tweets came after the Supreme Court, not just rejected the Trump case, but humiliated the folks that brought it by basically saying there's no standing, it was beyond frivolous, something even a non-lawyer like me can understand.

The second being perhaps more ominous and more frightening and a more blatant attack on the rule of law, and that's this ongoing investigation out of the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware into Hunter Biden's taxes. I think people that are nervous about how far Trump will go haven't been watching.

Trump doesn't have a bottom and he will go farther than you can imagine.

MELBER: Fascinating and important context.

And, Nicolle, thank you, taking the hand-off with a lot of news. Appreciate you, as always.

I turn here to THE BEAT.

Breaking moments ago, as we were discussing, Attorney General Bill Barr formally resigning, the attorney general sending a letter to Trump formalizing that he will leave -- this is right before the Christmas holiday -- effective next week.

The president, as we have discussed, has been very publicly frustrated with the attorney general, one who we should stress has been loyal to Donald Trump on many of the big issues over these four years.

But for Trump, what have you done for me lately, Bill Barr did say a true thing about how there was no election fraud and did apparently keep the Hunter Biden investigation out of headlines going into the election, which is what any attorney general is supposed to do.

As Nicolle and I were discussing on this breaking story, those may have been, among other things, and talk of future pardons part of the reason that we have this unusual departure.

I have more on that with experts in a moment.

But we also want to bring you the other reason this is a big news night. The top story in the nation is a formality you see on your screening, the Electoral College casting those votes today, which certify president-elect Biden as the winner of the election which, of course, you know about.

But, in our system, this is locking in what we already knew. It formalizes President Trump's loss, after a series of those increasingly frivolous and longshot legal challenges, including the final one, which died that very quick death on Friday night, when the Supreme Court just dismissed the Texas Republican challenge as so frivolous it was beneath hearing any arguments.

Hawaii is the final state to cast its votes tonight. Pennsylvania cast its 20 votes to lock in Biden's win in that key swing state you see there. Michigan casting its 16 votes for Biden. It was an eventful morning, though, there, which ended up in the state capitol actually shutting down so that the public could not observe it in person.

This was to deal with the threats deemed credible of potential violence all in response to a ceremonial deal of certifying what everyone knows, the winner of the election, in this case, president-elect Biden.

There was a Michigan representative stripped of his committees for essentially making common cause with those trying to literally, yes, overthrow democracy.

Here we are on a day when normally, we would just be, as news anchors, kind of discussing the formality and the pageantry and the look of it, but, tonight, I have to tell you we are covering something bigger than that precisely because some people, not the majority, mind you -- and it's not working -- but some people were out there trying to reverse your democracy and -- take a look -- threatening people might get hurt.


QUESTION: Can you assure me that this is going to be a safe day in Lansing, nobody is going to get hurt?


QUESTION: All right.

EISEN: I don't know, because what we're doing today is uncharted. It hasn't been done.


MELBER: Now, as that plot continued, it went down in flames.

That representative, we should note is, of course, backtracking already, reminder that this autocratic talk is both concerning, for all the reasons we have been reporting, but also futile, because the law still governs our peaceful transfer of power in this nation.

Now, many elected Republicans have been standing by Donald Trump's antics. We have reported that. We should also note other party leaders are just telling Donald Trump to stop it.


KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: He's not helping himself or the country. America likes comebacks, but they don't like sore losers. And he is on the edge of looking like a sore loser.

FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ): The legal theory put forward by his legal team and by the president is an absurdity. And the reason why the Supreme Court didn't take it is because it's an absurd idea.


MELBER: Donald Trump is, of course, the first president to take these public attacks on lawful election results this far.

The conservative "Wall Street Journal" noting the obvious, stating Trump's challenge is over. And everybody knows it with this Electoral College vote today.

The only people that Donald Trump can still lie to about any of this are the die-hard supporters. They are the ones, of course, who put $200 million of their own money into Donald Trump's misleading PAC advertisements, much of which didn't fund this failed legal challenge.

The Trump operatives who wrote those same fund-raising e-mails, even they know it's over tonight. We have seen reporting about packing up the campaign headquarters, taking down his name in what sources now describe as a -- quote -- "ghost town."

And that's an apt phrase tonight that echoes one of this year's anthems from Drake, as he says, sometimes, you got to slow down, we on your block, and it's like a ghost town, Drake casting a Trump-supporting rival, Kanye West, in that song as a clueless liar, adding, when he tell the story that's not how it went, know they be lying 100 percent.

And so a White House built on lies is tumbling as a house of cards, with lies so absurd, you would have to disbelief your eyes watching these electors to somehow still live in a world where you think Donald Trump didn't lose this race.

Let's bring in our experts on this night of American history.

I'm joined by Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post," and NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray.

And, as I mentioned, we will get as well with the professor to Bill Barr in a moment, the other piece of big news.

But Gene Robinson, as someone who covered so many days like this, they are usually less eventful in a good way. Your thoughts on those electors, the talk of violence, the last gasps of those who would want to override the results of a democratic election?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: These days when the Electoral College votes are usually days that, frankly, nobody outside of the participants notices, right? It's a footnote. It's something you say at the end of the newscast. By the way, the Electoral College ratified what the voters said.

It's not -- I mean, it is a big deal, because it's an essential part of the process, but it's not a surprise. And so that is -- today, this is the big story, that Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College was made official that he won the electors 306-232, the same margin that Donald Trump described as a historic landslide, when he won by that margin in 2016, and thus giving, as if any more were needed, another reason for Republicans to stop this nonsense and to finally acknowledge what every defeated political party has acknowledged since we started doing these elections, which is he clearly lost the election.

Donald Trump lost this election. Why do we hear -- happen to hear five minutes after it's made official by California about Bill Barr? The president is trying to step on the headline, frankly. And that's significant too. But, in the context of the day's big news, that's a distraction compared to what really happened, which is that yet again Donald Trump lost this election.

I don't know how many times he wants to lose it, but he lost it again today.

MELBER: Right. The battering ram of the losses, including that Supreme Court dismissal, which was just as embarrassing and complete a rejection as you can get Friday, really underscores what's going on.

And it's a reminder, Professor Murray, of how the alternate reality of Trumpism may try to persist far longer than January 20.

Here was Stephen Miller, who is one of the longest serving White House aides to this president. Take a look.


STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: As we speak today, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote. And we're going to send those results up to Congress. This will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open.


MELBER: Professor, in case anyone missed the bars earlier, it applies here, when he tells a story that's not how it went, know that he's lying 100 percent.

I'm not in the business of trying to single out or malign people in government or the public eye. We just report it. But Stephen Miller's lying. He's a liar. He's lying on behalf of Donald Trump at an important moment in history, as if there is a thing called an alternative state -- alternative group of electors, Professor.

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: No, and, again -- we again have this continued pattern of disinformation and obfuscation.

There is no alternate set pattern of -- there is no alternative set of electors that can be offered. Each state will have its slate of electors that will be awarded according to the popular vote in that state.

So, here in California, the electors, 55 of them, will cast their votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. And that's the way that it will go.

It doesn't mean that there isn't more mischief that can be done as the Electoral College moves from the state level to the federal level on January 6, where the Congress will take part in counting those votes. And you can have opposition and objections raised by members of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate.

But the idea that there is some scheme that the president can engineer to change the outcome of this election today is absolutely specious.

MELBER: And before I lose you, Gene, I wanted to show the other piece of the forward-looking planning, which is political, but also relates to this theme of deceit we have discussed, because have you this headline from Politico, "Trump telling allies he will, will run in 2024," but after the hanging participle in the headline, hints he may also not -- quote -- "The president has spent days calling a dozen or more allies to ask what they think he needs to do over the next two years to stay part of the conversation."

The tell here or the reveal being, at least according to this reporting, the motivation is more about appearing to do something than doing it.

ROBINSON: Well, exactly. And that's often the case with President Trump.

My very, very strong suspicion that he intends to act as if he's going to run in 2024 to maintain his control over the Republican Party or the Republican Party base to try to keep Republicans intimidated by him, to try to keep himself part of the conversation, in part to make money, to make himself the biggest celebrity in the world, he'd like to be, and find ways to monetize that, and also try to inoculate himself from potential legal problems he might have, because, if he's pretending to be, well, I'm a candidate for office, and this is all political, that would be part of his at least public defense.

So I think that's what he's doing, I do not think he intends to try to run again in 2024. And if he is serious about it, I'd be very, very surprised if a number of ambitious Republicans were willing to sit back and let that happen without a serious challenge.

MELBER: Very interesting, Gene Robinson, on this news the Electoral College moving forward with president-elect Biden's formal victory.

Thank you for being here.

The professor stays, the update on the other story we brought you, Donald Trump's very controversial Attorney General Bill Barr resigning today, sending this letter to Donald Trump, last days effective next week.

Now, this comes after something that was unusual for most of Barr's tenure. He had been a loyalist to Donald Trump on the Russia probe, on all kinds of language in the run-up to the election about voter fraud and other things, but after Trump lost, they were clashing.

Now, Barr was historically loyal. The resignation letter, we should note, also mentions what he puts as a -- quote -- "partisan onslaught" against Donald Trump.

Professor Murray, we live in fast times. It would be easy to think of Bill Barr, based on the last week or two of public conflict. His overall time at DOJ involved primarily advocating on Trump's behalf and at times, according to DOJ veterans and insiders, blatantly politicizing cases to help Trump or punish enemies.

MURRAY: That is certainly the case, Ari.

This was an attorney general who frequently and unapologetically took the church line on so many issues going back to the Mueller report, to the summer with the unrest in various cities around the country.

To say that DOJ was politicized under his watch is really an understatement. I don't know that I have ever seen a situation where former members of the Department of Justice wrote a letter condemning the actions of a sitting attorney general and condemning the way in which the Department of Justice had been transformed into a political tool of an administration.


And so, when you look at what he's doing now -- Nicolle Wallace and I were discussing it at the handoff -- there's also the fact that Donald Trump is president until the 20th. He has mused openly about a raft of pardons. Bill Barr, of course, did oversee controversial Christmas pardons in a previous administration.

Are you struck by the fact that, for self-interest or other reasons, there's some clue he may want to get out before the final, final act of Trump's approach to DOJ?

MURRAY: Well, who knows why he wants to get out. Maybe it's just time for him to do so. I mean, it's been a pretty remarkable run for him.

But it may be the case that what he is likely to have to do as attorney general in this last -- these waning days of this administration may be too much even for him to stomach.

But, again, just because he has perhaps in the last couple of weeks noted that there was no widespread election fraud, seemingly coming out in favor of a more pro-democracy standpoint, should not excuse what has happened over the course of the last two years. I mean, this has really been a remarkable administration, in terms of the way the Department of Justice has been used.

And I think it would be remiss of us to forget how unbelievably politicized the department has become.

MELBER: Yes, all great points, Professor Murray. Thank you so much for joining us here at the top of the show with more than one story.

We have a 30-second break. Then we're joined by an E.R. doctor who actually was vaccinated today. Big news.

Later, the Michigan governor at the center of so much of this, Governor Whitmer, live on THE BEAT, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar before the hour is done.

Stay with us for a special edition of THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one, vaccinate.

MAN: Yes.



MELBER: Yes, the vaccinations will be televised. That was a scene right out of Ohio today, the first Americans receiving this coronavirus vaccine, nurses, doctor, health care workers, all first in line, rolling up their sleeves, you see here, around the nation.

This is really something that we're living through. The first person to receive the vaccine in the U.S., we now know, is a registered nurse from New York, people all around the nation celebrating today as a long-awaited victory.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To see this finally happening, it was just amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With this shipment, we start to see our ability to preserve life and protect our people. We are going to defeat COVID. And it starts right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just happy to be part of the solution.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I believe this is the weapon that will end the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a humbling experience to be a part of this, because it's going to save a lot of lives. But, yes, I mean, I'm honored to be a part of this, of some good news.


MELBER: Good news because today can be the beginning of the end.

Now, health experts have also stressed, of course, how we approach the next few months is critical to how long all of this lasts, including the type of measures that so many people are frustrated with facing COVID.

Dr. Fauci stressing that most people in the general population can expect to have access to this vaccine by April or even the end of March.

Now we turn to a very special guest, someone who got this vaccine today, Dr. Adam Berman.

And I think we have a little video of him getting this vaccine right here, a little shot of what that looks like. He's the associate chair of emergency medicine at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

Thank you for joining me. And thanks for what you're doing.


MELBER: I have a very simple question for you. How did it go?

BERMAN: It went well. I feel great. I feel the same way that I felt after I got the flu vaccine, actually, just as well as I felt after most vaccines. I don't have anything to complain about, to be honest.

MELBER: You hear so many people concerned about so many aspects of this.

BERMAN: Right.

MELBER: You are both an expert and a participant here.

What can you tell people tonight who say they're still afraid to get it? Because now you're speaking as, you're not only a doctor. We take doctor's orders. But everything you say is cosigned with the credibility that you're doing it.


I mean, I understand why people are concerned. I think that people are going to be concerned because this is something that we have never seen so quickly. But I trust the science. And I think that, despite the fact that we have never had a vaccine exactly like this, the science that it's based on has been around for quite some time.

So, I understand people's concerns, but I also want to remind them how terrible the last six to eight months have been. And we finally have something that I think will help bring this to an end, and I think that everybody who's able to get this vaccine should get it.

MELBER: We were just joined by Dr. Fauci, who, of course, has led so much of this.

I want to play a little bit of what he said. Take a listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: The rumor or concern that the vaccine can cause COVID-19, that is absolutely impossible to happen, because what the vaccine is, is essentially presenting to the body a protein that's part of the virus that isn't the whole virus itself. It can't replicate. It can't infect you. It can't infect anyone else.


MELBER: Doctor, debunking one of the false rumors that's out there.

The more reasonable-sounding thing that you hear -- and the data shows a lot of people are saying this as well -- maybe they will wait. And people can make up their own decisions for themselves and their families. But if too many people wait too long, we could squander one of the great breakthroughs of modern medicine to get this under control.

BERMAN: Right.

MELBER: What do you say here on THE BEAT and to your own patients when they say, well, maybe I will wait a year, do it later, do it in '22?

BERMAN: Right.

I also understand that thought process, but I also have to say that many people have received this vaccine during the study phase. And, just as you said, we don't want to squander our ability to get ahead of this.

So, I think that, as much as people may want to wait, the time to get the vaccine is now. And I would encourage everybody to get it.

MELBER: Understood.

Finally, are you ever afraid of needles?


BERMAN: I don't think that I could do my job if I was afraid of needles, so, no.

MELBER: That's what I figured.

I still -- I do them. I'm going to get vaccinated when it's my turn, but I always get nervous.


MELBER: But I feel like doctors, it's for you guys that you don't even care. You don't even notice them.

BERMAN: Right. Just do it.

MELBER: Yes. Part of the job.

BERMAN: Right.

MELBER: Dr. Berman, thank you so much, as I said, for what you're doing and joining us tonight.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

MELBER: Absolutely.

We have a lot more in the show tonight.

We are going to speak directly to one of these electors who is part of our formal process that certifies the president-elect, in this case, Joe Biden.

But, coming up, the credible threats of violence that forced the Michigan capital to do something unusual and actually close to the public before that Electoral College vote. We have a very special guest, the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, next.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.

The Electoral College pushing forward, certifying president-elect Biden's vote victory margin.

Michigan Governor Whitmer joins me.

The state capitol today was shut down because of -- quote -- "credible threats of violence."

Thanks for being here.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Glad to be with you.

MELBER: Why was the capitol shut down? And what other measures do you think are necessary? Because we have seen these reports I mentioned earlier about what has been done to some of the officials involved.

WHITMER: Well, of course, there's been rhetoric.

This whole year, right, the political rhetoric has gotten so ugly and the nature of threats. So our Capitol Commission decided, when the legislature is not in session, they're going to keep the capitol closed to the public.

And, today, the legislature was not in session. And, apparently, there was some chatter. And so it was a good thing it wasn't open to the public, so that the electors could convene and we could certify Michigan's vote for Joe Biden and send our 16 Electoral College votes to be counted.

MELBER: When we see the stripping of committees and those measures, how do you view that?

WHITMER: Well, I think the political rhetoric of 2020 is dangerous. It is destructive. It is anti-democratic.

And having been on the receiving end of death threats for many months of this year, always exacerbated whenever the president himself or the White House focused on me or my state, I have been calling on people of goodwill on both sides of the aisle to call it out.

It's only a matter of time before it gets turned on all of us. And that's why everyone of good will should be able to take this on. Domestic terrorism is unacceptable. And every one of us should be able to agree on that.

MELBER: Right.

And you mentioned threats as well, as I think many people remember, people actually indicted, suggesting far further active plotting in the, I believe it was kidnapping and other potential violence allegedly planned against you and others.

When you see this many people in different states talk about things that don't exist, like -- quote, unquote -- "alternative electors" or some fantasy alternative to what is actually happening today, do you see that as something that's a temporary feature of Trumpism this month as this dies out, or do you see that as something enduring that you have to deal with in Michigan and elsewhere?

WHITMER: Well, I'm concerned that it's the latter. I'm hoping that it's the former.

And I think that's why it's so important that Republicans of goodwill take it on and say that, you know what, this was a fair and free and secure election. Joe Biden won Michigan by over 154,000 votes. That's 14 times that which Donald Trump won Michigan just a few years before.

This election is the will of the people. And our democracy is absolutely centered around the will of the people. And it's time to move forward, and it's time for anyone who is a statesperson to declare this election over and to call on people to take actions to support the incoming administration.

MELBER: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, on a busy day, an important day in Michigan, thank you so much for joining us.

WHITMER: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

As Donald Trump's loss is official tonight, the Electoral College is making history. And we're doing something special.

We have a Biden elector who cast one of those key votes for the president-elect today.

Later, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar live on THE BEAT. He's got some interesting points about the COVID vaccine and health care disparities tonight.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The electors of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have cast 20 votes for the Honorable Joseph R. Biden for president of the United States and 20 votes for the Honorable Kamala D. Harris for vice president of the United States.



MELBER: Pennsylvania electors officially casting their votes for Joe Biden, who won that state.

This is one of the signs today that it's over, Donald Trump the loser, with only Hawaii's Electoral College votes remaining tonight.

Now, this is normally a formality, as we have emphasized. But, as Donald Trump has refused to concede, has challenged the results, has had these frivolous lawsuits, including up into this weekend, today is for many the final brick wall that shows the process continues, it is working, and there is a president-elect.

We want to do something special that, frankly, we would do any number of years, even if this was a less eventful time.

I'm joined by State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, a Pennsylvania elector for Joe Biden.

Good evening to you.



KENYATTA: How are you, Ari?

MELBER: I'm sorry.

We got a little camera -- a little camera switch.

We're going to be joined in a moment by Bill Feehan, but I see the representative there.

How are you?

KENYATTA: I'm doing well. A little switch-swap.



MELBER: I will let everyone know at home. Sometimes, we have guests lined up.

And now it's a spoiler alert. We have another elector coming up.

But, Representative Kenyatta, tell us what today was about for you.

KENYATTA: You know, today was a great day for our country.

You know, democracy is in, Donald Trump is out. And what this did was put a real button on a process that has been incredibly divisive. I think we saw 59 lawsuits, if I remember correctly, some of which I have actually been a party to.

But, today, it is what America does best, when we allow everybody to vote, count every vote, and then listen to what the voters had to say. And, in Pennsylvania, what they had to say was, they wanted Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next president and vice president. And that's what we did today officially.

MELBER: We're seeing, of course, a lot more attention on some of these aspects that are usually, as mentioned, just more formalities.

Do you see any potential positive of Americans sort of watching the Electoral College voting today a little more closely? The president-elect is giving an address tonight, I think leaning into this.

KENYATTA: I think it is.

And it's critical, because a part of the reason that Donald Trump's disinformation and misinformation, frankly, has been -- has found so much fertile ground, frankly, is because people don't pay attention to a lot of these processes that are usually formalities.

But this is part and parcel of the American democracy in every way, that the president trying to interfere, he was not successful. And here in Pennsylvania, we saw Stephen Miller said they had an alternative pity party Electoral College somewhere else, doing their own fantasy version of this.

But we did the official version. And come hell or high water, on January 20, Joe Biden is going to be the next president of the United States, and Donald Trump can be upset about that, but he will have to tweet about it from somewhere that is not our house come January 20.

MELBER: Well, Representative Kenyatta, stay with me.

You are, as mentioned, one of the official electors for your state. But we did want to hear from everyone.

And so we also invited on Bill Feehan. He's chair of the La Crosse Republican Party in Wisconsin. And, as mentioned, had Trump won Wisconsin, he would have been a Trump elector.

Thanks for joining me tonight.


But I'm the chairman of the 3rd Congressional District Republican Party. And that's why I'm an elector in Wisconsin.

MELBER: Sorry. That's a party official. Great.

Well, let me ask you this. Here we are four years out. Four years ago, you were on the winning side, Donald Trump was president-elect that cycle.

Now, of course, Joe Biden is president-elect. So, how do you feel? How are you sort of reflecting on the process this cycle, when you're on the other side of it?

FEEHAN: Well, the first thing is, we have to understand that there's fraud in every presidential election. The question is, does it rise to the level where it changes the outcome of the election?

And here in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Elections Commission repeatedly ignored state law, number one, by issuing 215,000 ballots with no identification for indefinitely confined electors.

MELBER: I guess we could get to that, but I was curious if you want to just sort of answer the question I asked.

FEEHAN: So, what is your question?

MELBER: I was just curious how you're reflecting.

This is one of those days where it is a day for democracy. It's a civic day. And I was mentioning, last cycle, when you were supporting Donald Trump, he was the president-elect. This time, he's not. He is the loser of this race.

How are you reflecting on sort of being on the other side of it on a day when, traditionally, there can be some unity for the process?

FEEHAN: OK, well -- OK, well, first of all, the Electoral College will meet on January 6, a joint session of Congress. And that's where the vote will take place to determine who the president of the United States is. So, that hasn't happened yet.



MELBER: Also somewhat nonresponsive.

I mean, I guess I'm asking you -- the president-elect is Joe Biden. There is a process. Last cycle, at this time, you were, as was the whole Republican Party, resolved on the fact that we were past the point that the results were clear.

And so I guess what I was asking -- maybe you're not answering, and we can move on to other topics -- just how you felt about that.

FEEHAN: Well, I think that it's pretty clear what I'm say something is that the president of the United States will be determined on January 6, not today

And, yes, Republican electors like myself cast ballots.


MELBER: I guess, if you're going to go there, why wasn't that your approach last time, or the Republican Party's approach?

FEEHAN: Well, there were no -- there was no contention. There were no lawsuits the last time.

I mean, the Democrats really didn't challenge the validity...


MELBER: I'm a little curious as well, since you did want to get into -- well, you did want to get into validity.

We have a quote from you from an interview with BuzzFeed where you said: "I haven't seen any evidence that proves there was massive voter fraud or enough to change the outcome in Wisconsin."

And, of course, that's what every court has found as well. Since you have said that yourself, since the courts have found that, why do you think it's hard for at least the president and some officials to accept these results? What is the point of misleading about something that's so clearly been resolved?

FEEHAN: Well, it's not misleading.

And I will just say, there are clear instances where the Wisconsin Election Commission gave instructions to the clerks that contradict state law. I mentioned 215,000 ballots without I.D. They also instructed clerks to cure ballots. They refused to remove 130 (AUDIO GAP) people from the rolls who had moved out of state.

We know about 7,000 of those people voted in this election. And...


FEEHAN: Whatever happens in this election, it's important...

MELBER: And so you're -- well, maybe we just -- for clarity, are you -- are you of the view that...


FEEHAN: ... important that...


MELBER: Let me just finish the question, sir.

Are you of the view that Joe Biden is not the president-elect and didn't win the election?

FEEHAN: I'm of the view that there's still legal cases that are moving forward. And one of those, I'm plaintiff in that's being appealed to the Supreme Court. It's already been appealed to the Supreme Court.


MELBER: Well, you -- yes, I'm familiar with that case.

You lost that case. You can appeal it. Are you going to -- you have to understand, this is why, when we go out of our way to have people on, and they don't answer five questions in a row, you can understand how viewers might think, gosh.

Are you of the view that Joe Biden is the president-elect or not? That's a yes-or-no question.



Representative Kenyatta, your thoughts before we go?

KENYATTA: I mean, I will never for the life of me understand watching grown men and women twist themselves in knots all to really make Donald Trump not feel bad.

You know, my fellow guest here knows very well that Joe Biden is the president-elect. His refusal to say so is emblematic of what we see from Republicans all across the country, who are more interested in making sure Donald Trump's feelings aren't hurt than they are in telling the truth to the people of whom they're accountable.

You know, all these times they have been having conversations with Donald Trump, they're not asking for an emergency relief check for Americans who need it. They're not asking to extend eviction unemployment insurance, none of those things.

They're just asking, yes, sir, Mr. President, how can I make you feel better about an election you lost? And it's really sick to see. It's really sad.


MELBER: I'm running short of time, because I have got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar coming up.

I will say thank to you Mr. Feehan and thank you to Representative Kenyatta.

KENYATTA: Thank you so much.

MELBER: And because Mr. Feehan mentioned that case, I will just read briefly.

The court rejected that case and said they're aware of no constitutional provision -- quote -- "that gives Mr. Feehan the right to have his candidate of choice declared the victor." That was one of the many losing cases.

I am running short on time, so I got to keep going.

Up ahead, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on health care, COVID and inequality -- when we return.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.

We have been broadcasting for you on a historic day. And we mean that literally and in more than one way.

We have been marking, of course, this Electoral College moving forward with president-elect Biden's victory, always a historic day in America and in the news.

But here we are. And it's also, this Monday, the first day that we have seen doses of the brand-new COVID vaccine being distributed, providing hope across the nation.

And having said that, we also want to get into another aspect of this, the important questions about how we go forward and how we do this fairly. Who gets the vaccine and when? How do we avoid, as a nation, exacerbating some of the disparities and racial inequality and classism that we have already seen thus far throughout this tough pandemic year?

In predominately black counties across the nation, the COVID infection rate, we know, is already three times higher, the death rate six times higher than in predominantly white areas, medical experts warning racial disparities creating further obstacles in this rollout, and the issues, understandably, of distrust, as well as lack of access.

And when we spoke to Dr. Fauci here on THE BEAT during this breaking COVID news Friday night, he was also emphasizing the import in using fairness and health as the qualities that should provide rollout of the vaccine.


FAUCI: I feel very strongly, not only with COVID-19, but with the interventions and countermeasures that you have for any illness, that it needs to be equitably distributed and shared.

And equitably means you do it on the basis of priority, based on a real good reason.


MELBER: A good reason for the priorities, not race, class or other disparities that haunt America.

And, as mentioned earlier in the night, I'm thrilled to tell you we have an important guest on this, the basketball legend and a leader in activism Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He's been working on these issues.

He's also revealed in a brand-new article his personal experience with prostate cancer and why so many people who may look like him don't have the same access to top-quality and lifesaving care.

He writes that COVID, as a pandemic, has highlighted how malignant the system is and remains.

Back on THE BEAT, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Thanks for doing this conversation.

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Happy to talk to you, Ari. How is everything?

MELBER: Everything is all right...


MELBER: ... except what's not all right.

And I think that's the balance here. And this is a good news night, I got to tell you. We have covered a lot of this and a lot of deaths. And this is hope. And this is a vaccine.

And yet you are out here advocating for everyone to keep in mind and do work on the equality. Explain.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, we're all in this together.

And that means that we all have a part to play in beating down the virus and taking care of ourselves, so that we don't catch the virus and spread it, and then getting to where we can get the vaccine, and make sure that our own health is assured, and we won't have to risk spreading it to our family and loved ones.

MELBER: Mm-hmm.

I want to play for you something from our own correspondent talking to nurses who happen to be African-American. But we had a statistic showing why there are more black health care nurses, essential workers on these issues. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show of hands if you're 100 percent sure you're going to end up taking this vaccine?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Approved -- if it's approved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is there that lack of trust?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you don't see people of color, you don't know who to trust. And even sometimes, myself, when I go on to an institution, and I don't say that I'm a nurse, the treatment is different.


MELBER: Kareem, your thoughts?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, it's a historical fact that black Americans were denied treatment and given less treatment for everything.

The classic example is the Tuskegee experiment, where they let men who were infected with venereal disease progress in that disease because they wanted to observe them and see what happened, and did not inform these people and didn't try to treat them. These were black Americans.

So, black Americans have a history of being used as guinea pigs and scapegoats at the same time. And it's something that they have an acute awareness of and something that they don't want this to happen again.

MELBER: Yes, understood.

And health is personal, and yet there's the public ramifications that you just alluded to earlier in this conversation.

You write in your piece: "The problem with pulling any single thread right now, COVID or the health risks or job opportunities, each thread is a strand and a quilt" that you say "smothers the black community. One thread leads to another, another, another, forming an interlinking pattern that seems impenetrable and unassailable."

So, what are you advocating at a policy level -- we do have a new federal administration coming in -- be done specifically to deal with the fact that, as we have just shown, the underlying inequities are reinforced when you have something that may be "random -- quote, unquote -- a medically rare pandemic?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, we have to make sure that we go the full mile in educating people, making sure that people in the various communities, the people of color, the black community, get an understanding of what's going on.

Those people take great -- they put a lot of faith in seeing people of color as medical care professionals. This really increases their ability to have some faith and to give it a shot. And that's very important, because if we don't try to deal with this in that way, the virus takes comfort in all of these little nooks and crannies in our society where inequity rules, and it can have an advantage.

MELBER: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaking out, and speaking out, as we mentioned, personally.

Great to have you back on THE BEAT. And good seeing you, sir.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Pleasure's all mine.

MELBER: Thanks.

ABDUL-JABBAR: And hope you stay healthy and safe.

MELBER: Amen to everyone. Good vibes all around.


MELBER: Thank you, Kareem.

We will be right back with one more thing about that news we kicked off the hour with, the attorney general of the United States, Bill Barr, resigning.


MELBER: The big news in America tonight was historic in the literal sense of the world, the United States Electoral College certifying president-elect Biden's win, California casting their votes for Biden, which formally put him over the 270 electoral votes that makes someone a president.

Hawaii is the last state to certify their votes, which is expected to begin meeting in a few moments, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

This is all happening against the backdrop of other news that relates, of course, to the outgoing president, because Bill Barr is now the outgoing attorney general, formally announcing he's resigning tonight, a resignation letter written to Trump. His last day will be next week.

All of this comes after an unusual public clash with the president over voter fraud claims. He had been historically loyal throughout most of his tenure, including on big-ticket issues like the Russia probe.

That does it for THE BEAT tonight. I will be back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.



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