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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, January 14, 2021

Guests: Melissa Murray, Dan Rather, Madeleine Dean, Tony Schwartz, Christina Greer


Legendary newsman Dan Rather speaks out. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean discusses being appointed as a Trump impeachment manager. Trump co-author Tony Schwartz discusses the president's second impeachment. New reports emerge from the FBI on the white supremacists at the Capitol Building siege.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I'm Ari Melber.

And Washington is right now focused on what will be the second trial of Donald Trump for high crimes, after Speaker Pelosi swiftly achieved her goal of impeaching President Trump within one week of the insurrection on a bipartisan basis, as Republican Senate Leader McConnell signals he is open to the possible conviction of Trump, which could purge him from the party, barring him from office for life.

The speed and intensity of this call to hold Donald Trump accountable is truly unlike anything in history, coming amidst these scenes of Donald Trump's imminent departure today, the moving boxes brought to the White House, people gathering out front, moving out statues and busts and property, as preparations continue for the Biden inaugural, from the bunting you see here, decoration across the street, to massive security, the FBI urgently warning of credible threats, and the entire National Mall planned to be on a lockdown.

We have more on that disturbing information in those warnings later in the show. It is obviously of national import.

The warnings relate from the Capitol area to across the entire city of Washington. And a police response, which may have been lacking on the day of the attack, as we have reported, is now -- we can tell you it's accelerating, the feds arresting the man seen in that disturbing "Camp Auschwitz" gear and the trespasser who carried the Confederate Battle Flag around the Capitol, a menacing sight, if there ever was one, as Democrats demand a probe into whether, even beyond Donald Trump's rhetoric, was there any help or coordination with sitting members of Congress?

Today, a House Republican also sharing death threats made on his life.


REP. JOHN CURTIS (R-UT): This was dropped off at my office just a few minutes ago.

And I know my colleagues are very, very concerned. It's just a very troubling time for all of us.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: That -- can you show that again?

That was dropped off at your office? Is that from the Capitol?

CURTIS: So, that was taped my office door just a few minutes ago. And it's in reference to me not supporting the objection to the articles of impeachment.


MELBER: The sign posted at his home office in Utah, a very red state politically. He's a Republican.

The threats though, clearly, are around the nation, not just confined to Washington. It adds to a reality that many of our lawmakers are now publicly recounting, because you need to know this, because we may be living like this for a while.

And one thing I can tell you, we don't have all the solutions around here, but we do know about facts and evidence. Everyone needs to know the facts of what's going on. Here is a freshman Republican speaking after voting to impeach Donald Trump.


REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): Many of us are altering our routines, working to get body armor, which is a reimbursable purchase that we can make.

It's sad that we have to get to that point. But our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.


MELBER: We bring in our experts tonight, Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post," and Professor Christina Greer from Fordham.

Christina, when you see members of Congress in either party, who cares what party, taking these measures, they need body armor to do their jobs inside the Capitol, what does that tell us as a nation tonight?

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, it tells us tells us we have finally gotten to the point, Ari, where, hopefully, more Republicans will recognize that the dragon that they have bred and cultivated for quite a few years is now coming back to haunt them.

I have told you many times about how many journalists especially journalists of color, female journalists, black female journalists, in particular, and academics who've been speaking out against this administration and the threats that we have come under in the past four years.

And, sadly, that has not tapered off. And now we see that elected officials aren't safe either. There was no Republican outcry when Governor Gretchen Whitmer was threatened and we saw that there was a plot to kidnap her. Within that plot, there was a plot to kidnap Democratic members of the entire Michigan Statehouse, to not just kidnap them, but to also assassinate them.

Dylann Roof assassinated a sitting state senator. That sort of went unnoticed. So, these individuals have been galvanized online. They have been galvanized by the president and his administration for quite some time. And we're seeing these chickens come home to roost in a very dangerous way that still far too many Republicans will not acknowledge, as we have seen in their speeches on the House floor these past few days after the events of January 6.

MELBER: Christina, I want to ask you to build on that point before I bring in Gene, because it's something we have documented, discussed on this program.

Are we going to be a civil society that has objective facts and reality? Or are we going to be something else, which means both, one, people take as true these propaganda lies from Donald Trump and others, and, two, the related point you mentioned that's so important, given the crucible of racism in these issues, which is, can you understand an objective reality of this danger, unless and until it hits you, wherever you may be, whether that be a white conservative in Utah or elsewhere?

Because, as you remind us and document, the danger has not been equally administered, but, boy, has it been there.

GREER: Right.

So, Ari, I will take the latter part first, which is far too many Americans don't see the problem until it hits their front door, whether it's climate change, whether it's issues in education, whether it's racism and white supremacy.

And so we have a collective action problem in this nation, where people do not have empathy. This is what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about. You don't need to be a black person to sort of empathize with the fact that not everyone has free and fair citizenship in this country.

What I have talked to you about for many years, Ari, is that when it comes to this fact vs. fiction, and we think about not just QAnons, this idea that the president has been spouting lies, which, for far too long, we didn't call them that, but he's been spouting lies, the most dangerous aspect of this presidency, when we think about the three branches of the government, the legislative, executive, and judicial, the fourth branch that I teach my students about is the media.

And, immediately, Donald Trump attacked the media as a candidate and then as the president of the United States to essentially vilify and make it such that anything that came out of someone like Ari Melber's mouth or Eugene's mouth is immediately dismissed, because they're clearly working for these unseen forces, George Soros or whomever they may be.

And so he's decreased the value of real information. This is also someone who we should point out takes pride in the fact that he doesn't read. He's always said that he doesn't read. He just knows things. So how he even gets his facts has been highly problematic.

But he's been aided and abetted by the members of his party, men and women who know better, who should have done better, but, for four years, they just allowed him to spew things, spew just nonsense, and often -- and, oftentimes, where there was absolutely no basis in fact, there was no basis in truth.

And so what he would say in the morning was totally opposite from what he'd say in the afternoon. And then he would switch back again to something else in the evening. And they went with it. So, the moral compass was not there. Neither was the policy compass.

And the Republican Party has to be held accountable for their behavior over the past four years aiding and abetting Donald Trump.


EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the Republican Party is being held accountable now in a vile and really dangerous way.

And -- but it hasn't really sunk in. I mean, look, the proximate cause of the crisis we're in right now -- and it is a crisis -- is that most of the Republican Party has been led to believe by its president and its leaders that the election was stolen from Donald Trump, or at the very least there were these massive irregularities, this massive voter fraud somehow out there.

And even though this is completely untrue, and has been demonstrated and proven to be completely untrue, Republicans, most Republicans in the House of Representatives persisted, even after the sacking of the Capitol...


ROBINSON: ... in objecting to certification of the electoral votes, which is just astounding to me.

MELBER: Gene, let me...


MELBER: Let me reinforce what you're saying for you to continue, because I want everyone to understand this, because, as I have told viewers, we're in the beginning of this, not the middle or the end.

As you said, even amidst what happened on Wednesday, we have the numbers; 57 percent of House Republicans voted to overthrow the election. They were, as a factual matter, working in concert and in support of the goal of the rioters, even if they were not adopting every single tactic.

And I think what you just said, I just want to underscore, as you continue with your analysis on air for us tonight, because everyone has to understand that, if you go home and you talk to people about this, and they want to say, well, OK, we realize now it was bad, those are those bad rioters, they had 57 percent support on the goal from the House Republican caucus, Gene.

ROBINSON: That's absolutely true.

And not only that. After they had six days to digest and to process what happened last Wednesday, at the impeachment yesterday, Republican after Republican got up and said, oh, it's time for healing, we shouldn't do impeachment or whatever.

Look, if they're afraid, literally afraid for their lives, that if they vote for impeachment, they might be killed or their families might be killed, I understand that. We could argue about what their duty is, as members of Congress. I think it is to do the right thing. But I understand that sort of threat.

But what they could have done and what they should have done and what every Republican should -- I just can't believe we didn't hear it from them -- is owning up to the fact that this whole thing about voter fraud, the whole thing that lies at the heart of the stop the steal insurrection, is a lot.

It is not true, and that not only will Joe Biden be inaugurated as president on January 20, but, in fact, he absolutely should be because he won the election, and he won it legitimately and fairly.

And their constituents need to know that. And yet they were afraid to even tell their constituents that truth that they well know.

MELBER: Right.

ROBINSON: And so they're...


MELBER: And they said, Gene, they said -- they said, what is the harm? Give him a few more weeks. What is the harm? What is the harm?


MELBER: Before I bring in one of the impeachment managers, I give you, Gene, a final word on that.

The Republicans, the enablers, they asked over those weeks in November, what's the harm?

ROBINSON: Well, what is harm?

You play around with a dragon, and you think you can control it, and you get consumed by dragon fire. And that's what happened last week. That's what continues to happen. They just have taken this way, way too far. And they need to start trying to educate their constituents and undo some of the damage that they have done.

They created this division. And they're going to have to live with it. And now they're buying body armor to try to live through it.


Gene Robinson, as always, thank you for kicking off our coverage.

Christina returns later in the program.

We turn now, as promised, to one of the newly appointed impeachment managers by Speaker Pelosi, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean.

Thank you for joining me tonight.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Thank you, Ari, for having me on.

MELBER: You have been picked for this important post at this time. What does the impeachment, in your view, achieve? And what is your approach to what will be the second Senate trial of Donald Trump?

DEAN: Well, again, I find this to be an extraordinary honor.

It's a solemn duty. And I'm honored that the speaker asked me to join the impeachment managers team that will be led by Jamie Raskin at this incredible time in our history.

You know what? Gene Robinson said it so simply, and it was an expression I used over and over on Wednesday the 6th before the attack on the Capitol. I was up in the gallery standing next to Dean Phillips. And I said: Do they see that they have taken this too far? It's so dangerous. They have taken it too far.

And then, when I was escorted to the secure room where I spent four hours, I talked to Republican leaders. I used that exact same expression. They have taken it too far. So, what have we achieved, sadly, by voting to impeach this president a second time? You know what it is. It is an indictment of the high crimes and misdemeanors that this president is guilty of, an attack literally on our country.

And now we will take it over to the Senate, where the case will be tried. I hope that we will convict. And I say that with a heartbreak, that we will convict this president to forever mark him as someone who was guilty of inciting an attack on our own country.

MELBER: Speaker Pelosi has put her confidence in you, I mentioned at this time. You will be making this case to the Senate. It's a deliberative body in every sense.

And the constitutional founders wanted these senators, of course, to make this judgment, and knowing that they have constituents. So you will be making this case to the nation.

I want to note Lisa Murkowski is the one senator who says Donald Trump's "words incited violence, which led to the injury and deaths of Americans." As a Republican senator, she says: "Unlawful actions cannot go without consequence. The House has respond swiftly and I believe appropriately with impeachment."

As a Senate jury, she would seem to be someone that is open to the case you will make. You will also be presenting to people who have been really strong Trump allies, regardless of anything that seems to have occurred. Take a listen to Senator Lindsey Graham.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We impeached the president a day today without any evidence. It's just sheer hatred. If this becomes the norm, be careful what you wish for today. Under this theory, the radical left, if you can impeach a president after they're all out of office, why don't we impeach George Washington? He owned slaves.


DEAN: Lindsey Graham.

MELBER: The logical fact-check is simple.


MELBER: I was just going to say, the logic on it is, well, George Washington's dead. Donald Trump right now has the legal option to run for president again, unless the Senate decides differently under the Constitution.

But I give you the floor to both respond to that. And, more broadly, how will you appeal to try to win over these basically Republican senators you would need? You will be making the case to bar Trump from office.

DEAN: Lindsey Graham knows better. He knows that the evidence is, sadly, right before the American public. The president is on videotape, on phone call, on tweet after tweet inciting, riling up and radicalizing a base.

He played on bigotry, fear, ignorance, smear for political gain, not based on truth. Lindsey Graham knows better. And he also understands that what we did to impeach is an indictment. The evidence comes in, in the trial.

So, Mr. Graham, Senator Graham, be open for this trial. Be open for the evidence and the facts that are right before your very face. And you too have been complicit in lying to the American public.

I'm a lawyer in my early training, but I was also a professor of writing and rhetoric and ethics. And so I think a lot about audience. Our audience are those senators. Our audience is also the American public. The American public knows what happened on Wednesday was the culmination of a pattern of behavior of incitement and lies, the power of words and lies, to have people go to the Capitol.

They wanted to assassinate the speaker. They wanted to hang the vice president. This is a bipartisan attack on the country.

MELBER: Right.

DEAN: They wanted to assassinate the speaker and the vice president, hunt down members of Congress, and they didn't mind killing people in their wake.


It's important, the case you're about to make. This is as serious as it gets. We hope to call on you again and hope you will, within your busy schedule, perhaps return. And I will be asking you and others to really make sure the country understands the difference between the criminal standard -- you are not going into the Senate advocating the immediate jailing or incarceration of Donald Trump -- and the constitutional standard, which is...

DEAN: Right.

MELBER: ... is there enough evidence here that it would be in the public safety interests of the United States to bar this person from holding these powers again?

That is the core question. As lawyers, we know that, and I know that we will continue the dialogue.

Thank you, Congresswoman Dean.

DEAN: Thank you for having me, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you.

Coming up, we have our shortest break, just 30 seconds.

New reports from the FBI on the white supremacists who showed up.

Also, new evidence that we're gathering from the rioters themselves why they stormed the Capitol. We will show you what they say in their own words for accountability.

Later tonight, Dan Rather's here on where the Trump presidency is headed in history.

But, first, up next, "Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz in 30 seconds.


MELBER: New reports of Donald Trump isolated in his final days.

"The Post" describes his inner circle completely shrinking. He lashes out at those who remain. He's basically, according to "The Post," just watching TV, which means, of course, he's also abdicating his job duties, whether it comes to the national crisis of COVID or meaningful follow-up to the insurrection at the Capitol.

Remember, he still has, as president, an oath, a sworn oath to protect the nation. He's also lashing out at everyone from Rudy Giuliani, who, of course, was loyal to the end, but he's now instructing his own aides to ensure Giuliani is stiffed and not paid for legal services. He's also angry with his press secretary, as well as Laura Ingraham. He doesn't think they're supporting him enough.

Business partners are fleeing. Tech titans have been shutting him down, while Senator McConnell is openly discussing the possibility of purging Donald Trump from the Republican Party with that pivotal Senate vote we were just discussing.

We turn now to a friend of THE BEAT, "The Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz.

Good to have you tonight, Tony.


MELBER: What do you see in this stage of the dwindling Trump presidency?

SCHWARTZ: Well, it was always a race for Trump between whether he would destroy us or destroy himself first. And I truly didn't know the outcome of that race.

We seem to have finally gotten an answer. He's going to destroy himself first, although my older daughter did remind me that Hitler failed in his own coup in 1922 in the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, and he was able to rise again.

So I'm not comfortable ruling out, counting out Trump completely.


I think, when you look at the fact that the biggest question facing the Senate is whether this individual should be, as a constitutional matter, barred or not, there's the question of their return.

I can distinguish all kinds of historical figures. But the open constitutional question, as you say, is not resolved if he is alive, and it depends what the Senate does.

Briefly, can you tell us, from your knowledge of him, how he operates at a moment like this, when he is clearly at his lowest, isolated place?

I will mention one news item that just crossed the wires. He and Steve Bannon had one of the most volcanic falling-outs ever. But Bloomberg has tonight, even though Bannon is indicted and awaiting trial -- quote -- "Trump reconciles with ex-strategist Steve Bannon" in order to work on what he's been doing, these authoritarian election challenges.

SCHWARTZ: Well, first of all, they deserve each other. And it shows you what Trump's down to.

I mean, it's a handful of people who he will even talk to anymore. And the minute Steve Bannon doesn't say the thing he wants him to, he will be out too.

What Trump is doing it right now is, he's moving between rage and delusion. Be very clear, this is unprecedented for him. It's never been so clear that he has a loss. So, we don't actually know what happens to a person for whom this is the outcome.

But he moves between rage and delusion. Rage is the only -- anger, rage is the only emotion available to Donald Trump. He doesn't traffic in other emotions. And delusion is in the form of the fictional world that he's created and lived in throughout his life.

But it's less fictional reality for him now, more rage, less capacity to believe his own lies.


And that's a reminder, again, on the side that a lot of people have to care about, because he still has the nuclear codes for six more days, what happens to an individual at this breaking point, when he has, as you say, fed off lies and delusion for so long. There is some pressure there.

Now, I don't know if we're through the worst of this. You mentioned we don't know. I do think it's vital that we learn as we go.

Longtime viewers, Tony, will recall you strongly warned about Trump during the 2016 race. And you drew on your past knowledge of him.

I want to just take a look at some of your insights, as well as a few memorable moments we have shared here amidst all the news.


SCHWARTZ: He will go to anger, and he will drum up that anger that's sitting inside his supporters in any way he can to provide evidence that he was wronged, the election was rigged, and he didn't really lose.

He lies about everything.

MELBER: What about Ram Dass, three words, be here now?

SCHWARTZ: Be here now. That's another good three words.

MELBER: I have three more words for you. Are you ready?


MELBER: We gotta go.

SCHWARTZ: It reminds me, Ari, of a favorite rapper from the '60s, Joni Mitchell.

The real question is, will he end up destroying himself or us first?

When Trump loses the election, he will never acknowledge. He will not concede the election. And he will never acknowledge that he lost the election.

He admits nothing. Never admit anything. Never say you made a mistake. Just keep coming. And if you lose, declare victory.


MELBER: Tony, there's a lot at stake.


MELBER: What -- what must people know?

Go ahead.

SCHWARTZ: No, I look at that, and I realize how much of a burden I have carried for my role in this for the last four years. And I do feel as if a certain weight has been lifted from my shoulders, at least to some degree.

So, there it is.

MELBER: And, briefly, when it comes to processing warnings, and what do people need to know now, both not just the six days, but whatever comes next?

SCHWARTZ: Well, what I think he's done is legacy. His legacy is that he's unleashed and sanctioned in his supporters a level of violence that will very likely rise during the next four years, and perhaps dramatically so.

So, if his goal was to upend democracy, he came very close, but he failed. But who knows, because he has unleashed the worst forces available in the United States.


Yes, I think that's important, Tony, particularly because there's a human desire to say all, oh, over the bend, around the corner, move on, oh, 2021 will be so different than 2020. We don't have that luxury. Let's be serious.

Tony Schwartz, I want to thank you.

I will remind everyone who's been with us and with Tony over these four years, his audiobook is "Dealing With the Devil: My Mother, Trump and Me."

We fit in a break.

When we return, what rioters are saying that implicates Trump.

And Dan Rather joins us shortly.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Shocking videos still emerging from the insurrection.

We have footage that was taped by the rioters themselves touting what they did.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you ever take over the Capitol or any other big place, make sure you bring a shield. You can't get this anywhere except for a cop's hands.


MELBER: Mounting evidence the breach was more organized than was initially realized.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the floor plan? There's a door to the right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go downstairs, back looping around.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need enough people. We need to push forward!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a door right here. Do not go in that door. Go downstairs and loop around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People should probably coordinate together if you're going to take this building.


MELBER: The Justice Department, overseen by the Trump administration, was slow, to say the least.

It's now charged over 40 people. New court filings are giving new details about the plotting, one man touting his armor-piercing ammunition. He talked about assassinating Speaker Pelosi.

Also, evidence on how the rioters, like the infamous QAnon shaman, looked to Trump for inspiration. He told the FBI he came at the request of the president, something documented in real time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were invited here! We were invited! Hey, we were invited here! We were invited by the president of the United States!


MELBER: We're joined now by Melissa Murray, law professor at NYU.

What do you see as the legal criminal significance of some of this evidence?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, the video that shows the protesters in the Capitol organizing and going through the steps of coordinating their attack on the building itself looks like a classic conspiracy. And that could be at both the state level and the federal level.

And as you know, Ari, conspiracy is colloquially known as the darling of the prosecutor's nursery because it is so easy to charge. All you need is an agreement, whether explicit or implicit, to do some illegal act, and then a substantial step toward the furtherance of that act.

And everyone who's involved in it, and even in the most remote levels, can be grouped into that conspiracy charge. So, that's the first thing I saw when I saw the woman ushering people through and explaining how they could go out and giving them direction. That's a clear case of a conspiracy.

And then the question of whether the president incited the rioters by -- quote, unquote -- "inviting them there," that is perhaps a tougher question. Again, that would go to the president's intent when he issued that directive to go to the Capitol, whether he actually meant for them to engage in a riot or not.

And I'm sure that would be debated by defense lawyers extensively, were that to be prosecuted and litigated.

MELBER: And you make an important point about how the law works, which is completely distinct from whether people are rightfully angry with Donald Trump for what he did.

Whether the Senate, as a constitutional matter, holds him accountable, something we were reporting earlier in the hour, as you remind viewers, is distinct from the criminal law standard there over the actual culpability for what he may or may not have directly orchestrated.

I want to read a little bit from this evidence for your analysis. This is a statement of facts regarding one of the eight people who is now out on bond. It says, they tried to flee immediately, this defendant. There was a black Taurus G2C .9-millimeter recovered, additionally, a separate magazine located, a handgun with one round in the chamber and a 12-round capacity magazine, a seized gas mask from them, as well as a pocketknife, and a packaged military ready-to-eat material, as well as a medical kit.

When you see prosecutors put forward this kind of material, question one, what are they legally getting at? Question two, does this sound like someone who should definitely be out on bond, or may they pose additional dangers, with an inauguration and a lot more looming?

MURRAY: Well, when the prosecutors point to evidence like that, they're trying to make the case that this was no mere happenstance. I was wandering by the Capitol and all of a sudden I was involved in a riot.

This was planned. It was orchestrated. They brought the kind of materials that meant they were going to take siege to the building and hunker down there for a while. That's why you have these incredible weapons. That's why you have this food for the long haul.

They're trying to make the case that this was planned, this was coordinated, this wasn't happenstance at all. Now, whether or not that will be availing it with a jury or in a federal court of law or a state court, that's a different question, one for the jury itself.

But when prosecutors put that kind of evidence forward, that's what they're trying to get at.

MELBER: Understood.

Before I lose you, I did want to also get you on this other piece of this, revelations about the alleged role of some active-duty police who were present and other people with military experience.

Two police officers from Virginia now face federal charges. They were just indicted, a former Marine, identified now as part of a militia group that stormed the Capitol, and this focus on the response across the board by law enforcement. We can tell viewers that now three officers have been suspended, 17 are under investigation.

I have mentioned this before, but I will repeat it, Professor, because it's important. I know it's something you and I agree on. Every case has to be dealt with based on the facts. We're not speaking about every officer who was present or -- quote, unquote -- "all officers."

But for the evidence here against some, what does that tell you about the tricky situation of federal law enforcement dealing with a crowd that apparently had some of these individuals in it and trespassing?

MURRAY: So, again, the idea that there might be Capitol Police involved in assisting the rioters or somehow facilitating them is a really important and dangerous, I think, effort that needs to be dealt with.

But it goes to the question, I think, not just about the legal ramifications of what happened on January 6, but also the political ramifications. A lot of this can be dealt with through the legal system, whether it's through criminal charges or whatnot. But there is a separate mechanism that Congress can overtake.

And that's its oversight function. The Capitol Police is part of the security that's available to those who serve in Congress. And understanding how the Capitol Police worked with or didn't work with the rioters during this is going to be an important part of understanding what security looks like at that building going forward.

So, there's work that can be done in the legal system, but also work that likely should be done on Congress' side as well.

MELBER: It's a great distinction you draw, and something that's going to be important for a long time ahead, if it's going to be done right, just as I have mentioned to viewers, whether you would look at the 9/11 Commission or other investigations, particularly with, as you say, the interbranch issues.

We will be calling on you for your insights.

Professor Murray, thank you.

MURRAY: Thank you.

MELBER: Up ahead: Dozens of people who are on the terror watch list for white supremacy actions, they were at the riot.

But, first, Donald Trump's place in history. Dan Rather joins us next.


MELBER: Donald Trump leaves office in six days.

His authoritarian efforts continue to seal his legacy. Take the front page of today's "New York Times." It's one for the ages in the worst possible way, reporting Trump now has this history-making second trial for inciting a rampage in the Capitol against other members of government.

Trump is the first president to ever be impeached twice. He's the first president to face impeachment by this many members of his own party, 10 Republicans in the House.

He's the first president to have his own party's Senate leaders suggest conviction is a valid option the table.

This new trial and reckoning comes after Trump got away with a lot, from authoritarian attacks on democracy, to racism and bigotry, to calls for violence, to the Mueller report's accounts of criminal obstruction, to many, many reports of tax evasion.

Does this history mean that Trump will get away again? Well, the fact is that every person who's ever been busted got away with it, until they didn't. Trump knows things can change fast. That's how a life of crime works. As Mobb Deep explained long ago, living life this way, crime pay, but for how long until you reach your downfall?

Joining us now is Dan Rather, the iconic journalist and news anchor.

He is the host of AXS TV's "The Big Interview."

Thank you for being here, Mr. Rather. Many of us have followed your reporting and judgment for a long time.

And I put that question paraphrased from Mobb Deep to you. How long can crime pay? Could there be a different accountability this time?

DAN RATHER, PRESIDENT, NEWS AND GUTS: Well, always good to be with, Ari.

And the answer is, yes, Donald Trump can be made to pay a price. I would argue that it is absolutely essential for the general health of our democracy in our country that that happen.

And we can get things under control. Everybody knows, if you play with fire, you usually get burned. And the Republican Party, as a whole and overwhelmingly, has been playing with the fire of white nationalism, false grievances, crazy conspiracy theories, through lies and outright propaganda.

And now, for the Republicans, it's a wildfire burning out of control. But it doesn't have to be out of control for the rest of us.

And that -- as "The Wall Street Journal" -- and I will quote them, I think, almost directly -- we can have a lot of arguments about various things concerning what's happening now, but there's one thing very clear, that we are in the situation we're in right now primarily because of Donald Trump and his selfishness and his recklessness.

And about that, there has to be a consequence for him. And that's the broad overview of what we're going through now with this probability of a Senate trial next week. And what consequence does he have to pay? And that's up to us to see that he does pay a consequence.

I took note of Tony Schwartz, who you had on earlier in the program, saying the one thing that, even after we decide what, if anything, we're going to do about Donald Trump for inciting an attack on our Capitol -- exclamation point -- that he has let loose a whole different attitude about how much violence can -- will be accepted in the country.

And that's going to be part of the tragic lesson and really sad legacy of Donald Trump, that he's unleashed this.

But, for right now, the rest of us have to kind of find a -- at least a common ground. We can have arguments about policy and where we're going to go with the country as a whole. But we have to decide what consequences Donald Trump is going to pay, because he has to be made to pay some consequence, or this really unspeakable thing of inciting this riot -- and I don't want to be sophomoric about it, Ari.

But in Texas high school football, coaches, they preach the gospel of clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

And I think that's the best attitude for us as a people in this situation. It's a dire situation. This is a perilous time for the country.

But clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose, moving forward, if we make the determination to hold people accountable, starting with Donald Trump, and I do underscore for emphasis that process is moving along.

We have a few days before he leaves office. Given what's been happening in the last several weeks, who can say, who can predict what will happen between now and just Inauguration Day, never mind after Inauguration Day?


Well, I look, I reached for wisdom from Queens, New York. You went to Texas. But that's very American. Maybe we can learn a little bit from all over the country.

When you look at what you just referred to, the use and abuse of violence in America, and what you have reported on and covered, what do you believe we can learn from our history, where, obviously, there was political violence, there was assassination, both of political leaders, but explicitly and repeatedly of civil rights leaders and black Americans?

There is the need to follow the rule of law, even when it is bastardized or exploited by some actors in the government, rather than descending into the chaos of a place with no respect on any side for it.

What do you see as the lessons of history, if you could educate us tonight?

RATHER: Well, number one lesson of history is, we have to abide by the rule of law, even when it's uncomfortable, even when it runs counter to what you would say your gut instincts, even maybe when it runs counter to what -- your own personal conscience.

We have to have a rule of law. We understand, everything we have, everything we wish for in the future for our children and grandchildren depends on having a rule of law. That's the reason we have carved in stone in our monuments in Washington and elsewhere equal justice under the law.

Now, that's not a reality. It never can be perfect. But that is the goal. It has been in America. So, the role of history and the biggest lessons of the president is, number one, is you have to apply the law, apply the law as equally as possible, without fear or favor, applying the law.

The second is to depend on the goodwill of most people. And, here, I would include, maybe even especially, Republican lawmakers, both in the House and the Senate.

Again, one doesn't want to get corny about anything, but those words carry, honor, duty, country, conscience, that it's hard for me to believe that these Republican leaders of the present time can't look to history and see that those who are honored by history, by the long arc of history, are those who have repeatedly, in quiet moments in themselves, whispered to their own conscience, duty, honor country, not those who have said, well, gosh, I'd like to do this, but I'm afraid to do it. If I do it, I'm going to lose my place in Congress.

Or I'm not going to be a senator, or I'm not going to have any power in the party.

This is the time -- and this is what history shouts to us. This is the time when a few good men and women who put country first can make an absolutely critical, vital difference.


I appreciate that.

I'm running over on time. I only disagree with you about one thing tonight, sir, is, you said, let's try not to be corny. But, actually, I'm corny quite a bit around here.


MELBER: Dan Rather, as an expert and someone we look up to, thank you, sir.

RATHER: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you.

And I will mention for viewers, Dan Rather's book, the latest, is "What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism," something to reflect on now, for sure.

We're going to fit in a break, but, tonight, when we come back, I have an update on what we're learning about how so many people on the FBI terror list stormed the Capitol, and the FBI director now making his first public appearance since the riot.

That's ahead.


MELBER: Dozens on the FBI terror watch list came to Washington the day the Capitol riot.

We're learning this thanks to "The Washington Post," which reports most of them suspected white supremacists who had the kind of past conduct that so alarmed investigators, they had been previously and already entered into what is called the national Terrorist Screening Database.

The list is not the same, we should note, as the technical list that bars you from flying the so-called no-fly list.

We're seeing the scope, though, of intel failures. FBI Director Wray has now made his first on-camera appearance. This was tonight, basically, of course, eight days after the riot. He's been under significant criticism for basically being MIA at the time he's most needed.

He did discuss, though, threats to the inauguration.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter.

We know who you are, if you're out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you.

So, anybody who plots or attempts violence in the coming week should count on a visit.


MELBER: Many experts say the public should be hearing from the FBI director daily.

This is something we mentioned as soon as this news broke last Wednesday. The federal law enforcement under Trump administration officials has been a scandal in plain sight. What we're seeing now will certainly also come under investigation in the months ahead.

Now, when we come back, I have a very special announcement about something relating to James Comey.

That's next.


MELBER: Finally, a news programming note.

Tomorrow, we will be joined with a live interview by former FBI Director James Comey. We're going to discuss a lot of these law enforcement issues, the insurrection, security for the inauguration, and the president he once served.

It's tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. I can tell you, it's James Comey's first ever appearance or interview on THE BEAT. So, we expect it to be interesting.

We're also taking your questions. You can send them to me on social media @AriMelber, @AriMelber on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I will review some of your suggested questions.

That's tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

Right now, it's "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID."


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