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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, November 12, 2020

Guests: Carl Cameron, Tony Schwartz, Libby Casey, Aisha Mills, Daniella Gibbs Leger


President Trump lashes out at FOX News. The Trump campaign's voter fraud claims continue getting laughed out of court. Barack Obama releases a new book. Former Trump co-author Tony Schwartz discusses President Trump's defeat.



Good to see you, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Nice to see you. How you have been, Katy?

TUR: I have been not bad, getting a little bit of extra sleep the past couple days, now that the election has been decided.

MELBER: You know, everyone had wild hours, including our indomitable Steve Kornacki, but I believe you had some late nights, real overnight vibes.

TUR: But Steve was with us during the overnight.

MELBER: Right.

TUR: So he's really the king in terms of getting no sleep.

I love that The Gap, Ari, has seen a spike in sales for khakis.


TUR: I think they should call them Steve Korn-khakis. That's my...


MELBER: I like Korn-khakis. That kind of dad joke speaks to me.

You make a fair point that Steve Kornacki -- when you work at MSNBC, and this season, Steve Kornacki is always with you.

Great to see you, Katy.

TUR: There's always someone sleeping less than you. Put it that way.

MELBER: Perspective.


MELBER: I will see you soon.

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

I want to thank you for joining us on this now sixth night since Joe Biden became president-elect and since Donald Trump became the loser of the race, six days, and the president continues to sulk in a kind of silent denial, as if pretending this isn't happening will somehow, some way undo what is happening.

Now, as Donald Trump drags this out, he is hurting his own party, which is going through this somewhat absurd task of answering obvious questions, like, should president-elect Biden get the standard intel briefings that every president-elect gets?

Well, today, Republican senators answering that question by saying, well, yes.


QUESTION: Should Biden be receiving intelligence briefings?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think so, yes.


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA): The answer is yes.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Absolutely.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I have no problem with it.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Yes, he should be.


MELBER: So, let me just report some real talk amidst all this for you tonight.

One, there is no constitutional crisis here. President-elect Biden will assume office on January 20. There's not a single pending legal case in the nation that could change that result.

Two, at the same time, Donald Trump's unprecedented failure to not only concede, but to even speak since he became the loser on Saturday, is putting his party and the country through this sort of rolling absurdity this week.

Now, most people are familiar with the classic five stages of grief, a concept from psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance.

Well, Trump appears still mired in the first stages of denial and anger. And note that puts him way behind his supporters. Only 3 percent of Americans, a rounding error, falsely think Donald Trump won, according to the latest polling.

Now, Republican legislators seem to have hit that later acceptance in stage in private, while they publicly coddle Trump, which is one way to view his newfound focus, this Republican discussion of something as arcane as intelligence briefings.

They're now operating as some kind of middle stage between Trump's denial and later acceptance. And see the headlines, you have Republicans backing this basic thing, briefings for president-elect Biden, because he's president-elect. It's that simple.

And, someday, they may even be able to say the second part out loud. But, thanks to Donald Trump, his party has to make this painful part take longer. They have to work through more drama, more emotional hijinks, which is leading some to ask, throughout American history, has there ever been a transition period more tailored to snowflake sensitivities?

That's the strange scene in the adjustment period for Republican Washington, while, over on the Democratic side, president-elect Biden is just moving forward with governing, appointing Ron Klain as the new White House chief of staff, the same roll Klain played for Biden in the Obama administration.

And the president-elect also talking with world leaders from a range of countries. And, also, that includes receiving congratulations today from the pope.

We have a big broadcast tonight.

And we turn now to our experts, Daniella Gibbs Leger from the Center for American Progress, Democratic strategist Aisha C. Mills, and Libby Casey, political reporter with "The Washington Post."

Daniella, your thoughts on the above?

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, Trump is just continuing his record of acting like a giant baby.

And Republicans are showing again that they have no courage and no backbone to publicly say what is right and what is obvious, that Joe Biden is the president-elect, and that Donald Trump needs to the right thing and do what has been happening for decades and start the smooth transition of power.

There is a real danger the longer they delay this for the incoming administration. Now, I know that Trump doesn't care about this, but Republicans who claim to care about governance, they should be doing something.

MELBER: Do you think that the intel briefings have taken on -- while they are important substantively, they have taken on a kind of this larger role, because they're a way for Republicans to gesture, Daniella?


It's a way for them to signal, well, I'm not really with Trump. I'm saying that he should get the intelligence briefings.

But, honestly, it's not enough, because Trump supporters need to hear this message loud and clear, not coded in things that all of us right now understand what it means. They need to be very explicit that Joe Biden is the president-elect.

MELBER: Aisha, let me play a little bit from Speaker Pelosi. Take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's most unfortunate that the Republicans have decided that they will not respect the will of the people. And let me just say, it's like the house is burning down, and they just refuse to throw water on it.


MELBER: Aisha?


Here's the thing, is that Republicans are going to Republican, though, right? This is what they have shown us in the wake of this entire hot mess of a Trump administration, is they care more about holding on to their own power than much else.

But I want to go back to something you said at the very beginning, Ari, that makes me constantly excited. And I feel like smiling. I'm just tired of talking about the nastiness of Donald Trump. There is no constitutional way that this guy is going to stay in the White House.

We know that the transition is under way, whether or not the Trump administration or Republicans in the Senate want it to be so or not. And so I am just feeling good about the fact that our incoming president has so much experience with government that he is not flying blind.

Surely, it would be helpful if there was a proper transition happening, if he was in those briefings, if they were being cooperative. But Vice President -- president-elect Joe Biden spent eight years in and around the White House. He knows how to stand up a government.

He also has just appointed a chief of staff who has managed through a major pandemic, the Ebola crisis, who has managed through a financial crisis. So, I am actually feeling pretty good about the position that we're in.

And, yes, we can continue to spend the next eight weeks or more talking about what a disaster the Republicans are, but, if any -- if we know anything to be true, is that they are going to be who they are. And now that the American people have spoken, it's time for us to be who we are, and to stand up a new government and to plow forward.

MELBER: And, Libby, I want to point out some of the wider context, because we always keep an eye on what's really happening.

Trump is demanding these public shows of denial. But his own most senior aides are working on the plans for his departure. We have got new reporting, like they're explicitly leaking to the press a farewell agenda, finalizing rules, deregulation plans, and executive orders.

This is for before Biden takes over, when they get ready to leave. And it does seem to reinforce how everyone around Trump is planning the exit.

LIBBY CASEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, the important point that has been made is that a lot of this is using coded language, right, the signaling, the signaling to people in power, don't worry, there actually is a plan, we know that this is a democracy, we know that this has been a decisive victory for Joe Biden.

But I feel like the danger, Ari, is that the average person who voted for Donald Trump is not necessarily understanding those filters or getting everything given to them through straight talking news outlets, right? They're getting through their social media feeds.

If I look at the fund-raising e-mails that Donald Trump's campaign continues to put out, they are talking about this in absolutely false language, and then asking for money to fight a mythical battle. And so...

MELBER: And where does that money go?

CASEY: That's a great question, right? That's a wonderful question.

MELBER: I mean, I will propose an answer. I wanted to let you, if you have it.

CASEY: Well, I think there -- I mean, there's a big legal looming -- a big legal issue looming for President Trump, actually multiple legal issues.


MELBER: But the reporting -- some of the reporting is interesting, that if you give under about $8,000, which is what most people are able to give far less than that, if you give a political contribution of 50, 100 bucks, none of it goes to the so-called legal battle.

It goes to his PAC for post presidency, and it goes to RNC.

And so, Libby, there's some people pointing out that, as you say, those messages are going around social media. And it's unfair. I will say this, it's unfair to MAGA supporters to be conned one last time.

CASEY: Well, and I have to say, Ari, when I was talking about legal issues, I'm not talking about fighting the election right?

MELBER: Oh, I see.

CASEY: Donald Trump is going to be soliciting money for a long time, perhaps depending on what other legal trouble he faces.

MELBER: Right.

CASEY: But, yes, there is the question of what President Trump's own political future looks like. What does a PAC future look like? Who would he support, perhaps maybe even his son, in a presidential run?

So, absolutely, I mean, this is -- this is clearly an opportunity for them. But this is such a dangerous opportunity, because it's hard to sort of parse through it all. And that's why it's so important for the media and experts to keep just hitting the drumbeat of, this is no longer Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden, right?

Joe Biden has won. And so this is really Donald Trump vs. democracy, Donald Trump vs. reality. And that's, I think, what Biden's team is also trying to do, right? They're not trying to get in this fight, because it's not -- that's not the playing field.

What they need to be doing is looking forward, talking about Ron Klain and what sort of purpose he serves, what experience he brings to the job, and then moving forward, because, as this sort of swirling is going on, they still have work to do. And there are so many crises that will be facing as incoming administration.

It really is a shame. And I think anyone can say that objectively, that it's a shame that they can't work together, because America is facing some pretty serious crises that are not stopping. They're not pausing because of politics right now.

MELBER: Well, to that point, you said the Biden folks aren't -- they're not continuing the fight.

I mean, Aisha, you hit as hard as you can during the boxing match. Once you have knocked the other boxer out, no matter how aggressive you are, you don't keep hitting them afterward. Donald Trump is knocked out. He was knocked verbally unconscious.

I have not, as someone who's covered this era, ever seen him go six days. He is knocked out. He is politically on the mat. And it wouldn't be right, under the normal rules, to go hit him again. There's nothing else to hit because it's over.

MILLS: And, if we think about this, Donald Trump has had over -- almost four years now, 3.5 years, to knock out our federal government.

He has done his best to dismantle our key institutions. Our -- so much of our agencies are broken. There's just so much staffing that needs to be done. There's a lot of repair from a policy perspective that needs to happen.

So, while Donald Trump has had all this time to knock out America, and Joe Biden has, like, won this battle of getting into office, at this point, we have got to figure out how to put it all back together. And so the transition team is working as best it can to bring in as many experts as possible to figure out, what exactly are we going to do when January 20 comes, and they walk into the White House?

MELBER: Right.

MILLS: What are they going to find? I mean, this is the thing that makes me so completely nervous.

We kind of know some of the surface things that the administration has done that have been a disaster, but who knows what's buried underneath?


MILLS: So, there's just so much that needs to be done at this point, that even getting into the ring and trying to have a nasty fight doesn't make any sense. Nobody has time for that.

MELBER: And the final point I want to raise with Daniella, and you know your way around these administrations, is, there are times where you need an intervention with a candidate or a politician.

In Donald Trump's land, that's always in public. It goes to some supposedly elder statesman in the party. And it goes through the media, because that's how you reach him.

And so we're seeing this from someone who's on FOX News and "The Journal," two sort of pillars of that part of the conversation. I will put up on the screen, Daniella, for everyone to see, "Wall Street Journal," Karl Rove: "The election results won't be overturned. It's time to have a peaceful transition and let grievances go."


GIBBS LEGER: This is one of those very rare instances where I agree with Karl Rove on something.

But the question is, what effect will it have? Is Donald Trump listening to Karl Rove? Is he listening for the editorial pages of "The Wall Street Journal"? Is he listening to FOX News, or is he trying to set up his own media empire for when he walks out the door?

I don't know how effective those things will be. It really may come down to his grifter family finally realizing that, you know what, our time is up, and if we want to salvage anything for post-presidency, we need to just bow out and admit defeat right now.

MELBER: Daniella, Aisha, and Libby, a really talented panel of experts to kick off our special coverage. I thank each of you.

We're back in just 30 seconds.

Tonight on the program, I have a special legal fact-check on these voter fraud claims that are getting often laughed out of court.

Barack Obama's got a new book out, and he's saying some new things he's never said before about the reaction to his presidency.

We also have a very special guest on Trump's problems with FOX News telling the facts.

But, first, our friend Tony Schwartz, his first time back live on THE BEAT since this election was resolved -- in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.

We turn to a friend of THE BEAT, "The Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz. He has been with us throughout this Trump era. He has a new audio book I want to mention, "Dealing With the Devil: My Mother, Trump and Me."

And for longtime viewers, Tony, this is a special moment. For new viewers or people just checking in on the news, if people wonder about "The Art of the Deal," which was one of the very first things that made Trump a national figure and avatar, Tony at the time was a "New York Times" writer, and he helped co-write that thing.

And then he's come back later and done his penance and donated profits to organizations and charities and talked about why he's a critic of Donald Trump, having worked so closely with him.

I give that extra backstory because here you are back on THE BEAT for the first time since it was called and Donald Trump became the loser of this race.

Your thoughts tonight, Tony?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": Well, you catch me on a night where my mood is not as buoyant as I hoped it would be at this moment.

I expected, after the election, to really feel a sense of tremendous relief that Biden had won. I'm finding that I don't, and that the reason is that we do have an autocrat in the White House right now.

He's taken down any sign that he will play by the rules, that he will be bound by convention, that the norms apply to him. And I don't expect that to happen from now until Inauguration Day.

So, I'm...


MELBER: Did you think he would be this quiet?

SCHWARTZ: No, it's -- it is surprising that he's quiet.

What I thought he would be, Ari, is vociferous and voluble about the idea that he was cheated. I think he is caught between delusion, which are those periods when he actually believes that he did win, or he should have won, or people should agree that he won, on the one hand, and then rage on the other hand, just plain rage, because most people at this moment are feeling depression.

I'm sure that's what Hillary Clinton felt. I'm sure that's what Al Gore felt, if we went all the way back to 2000. But Trump doesn't do depression. He won't go there. It's too weak. It's too vulnerable.

So, where he goes is rage and blame. And he moves between that, which is a little bit more clear, and delusion.

MELBER: Very well put.

It was odd and striking, in late October, to watch him go around the nation and blurt -- this man who is a liar, who has been caught lying more than any politician in history -- that's not hyperbole -- that's what "The Washington Post" found -- would then blurt little bits of emotion or truth or something about his predicament, his potential loss, why he was fighting for his political life, why he was going to states that, in his mind, if not for the virus, he wouldn't have been that vulnerable.

Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life, what am I going to do?


TRUMP: I'm going to say, I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics. I'm not going to feel so good. Maybe I will have to leave the country. I don't know.

How the hell do you lose to a guy like this? Is this possible?

Can you imagine if I lose, and I have done all these things?


MELBER: That is a lot of loser talk as a closing message. And he did lose.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, he didn't believe he was going to lose consciously when he was saying that. He was almost superstitiously saying it out loud so it wouldn't happen.

Now that it has happened, he literally can't concede. He can't concede, because that would be to acknowledge his failure, to acknowledge his loss. And that, for him, is obliterating. There's nothing in between, nothing.

MELBER: We have been going through the archives, and we try to find the very best in the recent and sometimes faraway history for context, because we all need context.

And just as this four-year period was not normal, this time in this transition is not normal, and it should not be normalized, because someday we will need people in office in either party or any number of parties to respect both law and traditions, the good ones, at least.

So, with that in mind, take a look at how then Vice President Biden dealt with the transition at that time after his party lost. Take a look.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I told Mike, the vice president-elect, that I'm available to him 24/7. And so I plan on being available to Mike as senior staff for him as he moves.


MELBER: How do you contrast that to Trump and Pence? And do you think Pence should do that? Does he owe that same courtesy to the incoming vice president-elect, Harris?

SCHWARTZ: The only person to whom Pence feels any obligation is Donald Trump until further notice. And that further notice could easily be, Ari, four more years.

If Trump can keep people believing that he might run in four years for the next four years, he's going to keep all these Republicans, starting with Pence, on tenterhooks. They're going to be nervous.

So, no, Pence isn't going to do it any more than Trump does.

The problem we have right now is that Donald Trump has treated the world as a simple, binary place, right, wrong, good, bad, black, white. And the world now, the complexity of the problems that we're facing is running so far out ahead of the complexity of thinking required to solve them and the emotional resilience required to solve them.

So, this interdependent world that we live in, the challenge for us is to move from me -- I think I have said this to you before -- from me, which has been the preoccupation of too many Americans, to we, because, whether we like it or not, we're going to rise or fall together.

We're seeing that right now with the pandemic's roaring back into the world. You can't just decide that you're not going to be the one to wear the mask or you're not going to social distance. If you're not aware of your impact on other people, that doesn't mean you're not having that impact.

So, to me, it's a shift in consciousness that we need. It's the capacity to see beyond ourselves and to recognize we're part of a bigger whole.

MELBER: Tony, this is how it always is with you. We start with something down here, like Donald Trump, and we end up here with some Ram Dass vibes.

I hope you're right. I hope we can all be conscious together.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, well, I don't -- let's say it has to be Ram Dass vibes.

It's Tony-Ari vibes.


SCHWARTZ: We're just in a conversation that has now gone on for four years, Ari, happily.

MELBER: Well, sure. Or you can be Ram, I will be Dass, and we will just go from there.

Tony Schwartz, always good to have you, and back on the program at this inflection point.

Up ahead tonight: Former President Obama, I can tell you, from covering him, he's getting way more personal in this brand-new book, and he's talking about racism. He's talking about Trump's birther lies. We're going to read to you some of the brand-new quotes from that.

I also have a very special legal fact-check tonight. I want to share with you for the first time my breakdown of why Donald Trump keeps losing these remaining court cases. That's coming up.

But first: Donald Trump looks up at all this, and what's he doing? Lashing out at FOX News for the little bit of fact-checking and criticism they have done.

I'm going to tell you, we have a very special guest on the program on this next.


MELBER: Turning to another important angle on what we're living through as a nation this week, there are many top Republicans who have succumbed to Donald Trump's lies about the election results.

But then, when you look at the narrators, the story gets a little more complicated when it comes to what was once, of course, Donald Trump's favorite TV channel, where moments like this are now driving him into a rage.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We want every legal vote to be counted. And we want every illegal vote...


Unless she has more details to back that up, I can't in good countenance continue showing you this.

MCENANY: We believe will prevail at the Supreme Court. But, again, we don't think we're getting there, because we're going to win by...


MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Even if the person voted on voting day, even if they voted on November 3 in Pennsylvania because they were told that that was OK to do, you're going to throw their -- toss their ballot out if he doesn't come in until the day after or two days after?

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS HOST: I think this was so close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, but, basically, you're talking about the popular vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Joe Biden, once again, will win the popular vote. We know that for sure.


MELBER: Some on FOX with the temerity to refer to those basic facts, which apparently upsets the current president.

Or they have also referred accurately to Joe Biden as the president-elect.

We should note, interestingly, FOX News was an earlier network to actually declare Biden the winner of Arizona. Indeed, NBC News has not done so.

All of this has Donald Trump back in rage tweet mode and blasting FOX and complaining about this and trying to cast himself as some kind of victim.

Now, the break is not complete either. I showed you some excerpts there that have gotten noticed. But we want you to have all the facts. You make up your own mind.

In a way, you're seeing a microcosm of a schism in conservative America right now, which is a split over how to deal with facts that Trump lost. Facts are different than ideology or your feelings about them.

So, while I just showed you some of the pushback, the biggest stars with the biggest platforms who have some of the largest audiences on FOX, they continue to echo and parrot some pretty key false election claims. And then Trump, in that virtuous cycle, retweets them.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: On your screen right now, you will see the names of other deceased voters. Every one of them played a role in last week's presidential election.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Lawsuits are being filed alleging serious election misconduct.

Joe and his fellow Democrats and their allies in the mob, they don't really care about the integrity of elections, no conspiracy theory too grand, no riot too deadly, no witch-hunt too insane. May never have another honest election ever again.


MELBER: Many of those claims are false.

And, as I mentioned at the top of the show, we actually have a larger legal fact-check on them coming up, so stick around. I will walk through it with you.

As for the schism on the right, we turn to a longtime former FOX News political reporter, Carl Cameron. If you flip around, not that we recommend it, but, if you do, of course, you could see him on FOX News for many years. That coverage once earned him the nickname Campaign Carl.

As you know, here on THE BEAT, we talk to all kinds of folks from all kinds of experiences. Great to have you back on here, sir.


MELBER: Good to see you as well.

First, the schism inside FOX, where you worked for so many years. What do you see there?

CAMERON: There's always been good journalists working at FOX News Channel. And what you see here is the way in which those journalists, really from 1996, when both MSNBC and FOX News launched, election nights were where FOX really (AUDIO GAP) shine, and was quick, back in 2000 with the Florida recount, et cetera.

And that was when, for the first time, FOX went ahead of CNN in the ratings, because of that election, and it going into overtime, as this feels as though it is, notwithstanding the lack of evidence for the president to get past the Electoral College and the inaugural.

So, it's -- there are good reporters there who did some great work. And when they called Arizona, that shocked the president, and he's been out of his head ever since. And now he's picking on those who point out that there's an absence of evidence.

And to the extent that the opinion hosts are the prime-time hosts, and they bring in the big ads and the big revenue, it goes on, because, after all, cable television is a business. And though journalism is supposed to be objective, that can get polluted when you have opinion hosts who choose to take sides.


CAMERON: That's always happened in the past, but more so...


MELBER: But let me press you on that a little bit, Carl. And we have talked before, so you know how it is. We will just talk it through.

You're implying that it's kind of on a spectrum of that. But there is a big difference between someone saying, accurately, they love a politician or they love the president, or the president's entitled to pursue challenges and cases, which he is.

There's a difference between that at some ideological level and people going on and using that platform, where you once reported, and leading the public to think that, A, the election is invalid, B, Donald Trump somehow won or could win, or, C, that there's rampant voter fraud in our American democracy, which there isn't.

And I respect and would defend their right to go out and say how much they love Donald Trump, but isn't there something different about the other part?


CAMERON: Absolutely. I don't dispute a word of it, what you just described. It's very, very dangerous.

And I'm old enough to remember Nixon. And there are people our age who are still haunted by that. And there will be people years to come who will be haunted by this, the level of corruption from Donald Trump. The level of distrust that he has fostered in the country and in the media is truly horrible.

And I worry about the kids of people who are still supporting this president, while he tries to convince the country that this electoral process of ours is somehow corrupt, because they're the next generation of kids who are going to be hanging out door signs and putting up stickers and trying to motivate voters in the years ahead.

And they are not being taught the kind of values that most Americans believed in.

We like to tell our kids -- or at least we used to when I was in elementary school -- that George Washington couldn't tell a lie. And when his father said, hey, you cut down the cherry tree, he said, dad, I didn't do that.

Well, that actually never happened, which is kind of ironic. But the point is, we value those values. We value those values.



MELBER: Yes, that's fair. And I -- and it means a lot from where you sit.

I got one more thing for you, Carl, which is forward-looking, these new reports that Donald Trump is eying his own media plans that could actually try somehow to compete with FOX News.

You're very knowledgeable on this. Do you think they have anything to worry about there?

CAMERON: I absolutely do.

And I think that Donald Trump is going to do everything he possibly can to keep people listening to him. I have a tremendous amount of apprehension about what kinds of things he could be spilling to people overseas once he's out of office, either inadvertently or deliberately.

The way in which he can co-opt Americans is frightening. He takes that overseas, and it's terrifying.

MELBER: Mr. Cameron, Campaign Carl, we're always a little more informed for having you. Thank you, sir.

CAMERON: Thanks, Ari. Great to see you. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Absolutely. Appreciate it.

We're going to fit in the break. And then, coming up, we get to what I promised, our attempt at a definitive report and fact-check of these losing arguments in court, including with some scenes that are right out of your favorite court movies.

And, later tonight, Barack Obama gets quite explicit about Republicans and Trump and what they were really against in a brand-new memoir.


MELBER: Joe Biden is the president-elect. Donald Trump is the loser of this race.

And if Donald Trump were really claiming to contest these results, well, this would be the quietest legal challenge to an election in the history of the world. Donald Trump hasn't even spoken in public in six days, since losing to Biden.

Everyone knows that, when Donald Trump has something to say, he says it. And that's especially true on legal matters, where Trump has loudly, publicly taken on everyone from the IRS to the FBI to Bob Mueller himself.

But this is, as we have reported, a losing project, a smattering of losing insignificant local cases as a kind of a chaser to a losing election, where Donald Trump is the loser.

Now, that's not the kind of thing that Donald Trump wants to talk about on television, so he has instead been sending out anyone who will do it for him, which has meant leaning on his children and people paid to talk in court, lawyers.


ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: We're going to win Pennsylvania. We came here today. We met with all our lawyers. We are going to file suit.

TIM MURTAUGH, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: When we file a lawsuit in Michigan, that's another step. In Pennsylvania, it's another step.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's illegal. It's unconstitutional. And we will be bringing an action challenging that.


MELBER: Now, filing empty and losing lawsuits is not actually another step to anywhere.

As we have reported, there is not a single pending case that can change the outcome of this race in the United States.

So, to be clear, because I always want to give you context, these cases are not that important, no matter how they end. Legally, they are effectively moot.

But it gets worse for Donald Trump, because these cases, while they may not be that relevant, they still show him losing badly.

And there are fact-checks now coming forward under oath that could haunt related Republican efforts for years.

So, tonight, we dig into the new reporting that, frankly, we haven't had time to share with you yet this week. There's been a lot going on.

And this is really about something important in our system of government. So, I want you to tune in here and really see what we're about to show you, because it's independent judges who are doing the fact-checking, and it ain't pretty.

Let's start in the key city of Philadelphia, which captivated the nation, as all those ballots were being counted at the big board. Well, Biden's margin there is now too large for Trump to overcome with any of these cases.

But they still went to court claiming that some observers were excluded from the counting room.

So, let's go right into court. This is real, what I'm about to read to you. A judge then asked the Trump official there, the lawyer: "Well, are they in that room or not?"

And the Trump lawyer spins by saying: "Well, the observers were not being given equal access to the room."

And the judge cuts right into it to the real question: "Are they in the room?"

So, what's happening in this moment in court is a Trump lawyer trying to spin an independent judge, and learning that it's harder to lie in court than at, say, a White House briefing.

So the lawyer says, well, there's a nonzero number of people in the room.

And the judge just shreds that, says -- quote -- "Nonzero number of people. I don't know what that is," and then puts on the heat on this poor lawyer by citing their oath as a member of the bar of this court.

Now, violating that can get a lawyer in trouble or even in jail, and the judge says point blank: "Are there Trump observers in the room or not?"

And the Trump lawyer admits: "Yes."

And the judge then ends this whole charade, saying: "I'm sorry. Then what's your problem?"

That's a rough day in court.

Now, again, this case wouldn't change who won anyway. But when your lawyer is having that much trouble with a judge, you have a problem. I mean, my opinion, this was getting pretty close to "My Cousin Vinny" territory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MY COUSIN VINNY")FRED GWYNNE, ACTOR: And how do your clients plead?

JOE PESCI, ACTOR: My clients caught completely by surprise.

GWYNNE: What are you telling me, that they plead not guilty?

PESCI: No, I'm just trying to explain.

GWYNNE: I don't want to hear explanations.

There are only two ways to answer it, guilty or not guilty.

PESCI: But, Your Honor, my clients didn't do anything.

GWYNNE: Once again, the communication process has broken down.


MELBER: Now, I will be fair, of course. Any lawyer could have a bad day somewhere in some oral argument.

But this problem I just showed you in Philly, this is not isolated for the Trump team.

Take Pennsylvania. The campaign sued to stop the counting of alleged irregularities. Or take Montgomery County, a different courtroom, where a judge is pressing the Trump lawyer that he's not even claiming that any of these board electors were found guilty of fraud.

The Trump lawyer starts by dodging: "Your Honor, accusing people of fraud is a pretty big step."

The judge is having it, responding: "I understand. I'm asking you a specific question. I'm looking for a specific answer," saying to the Trump lawyer: "Are you claiming there is any fraud with these 592 disputed ballots?"

Now, there it is, America, the big question. We have a sitting president tweeting about fraud. We have a campaign filing actual lawsuits about fraud. And the judge is doing what judges are supposed to do, getting at the questions and the evidence.

So, is there any fraud in what is still a tiny sliver of ballots there?

And this Trump lawyer is under oath.

Let's look at the answer together. The lawyer responds: "To my knowledge, at present, no."

There it is, no fraud, no knowledge of fraud, no evidence of fraud from even the people suing about it.

Now let me take you to Michigan, where Trump allies lost a very absurd lawsuit that just asked a judge to stop counting votes in Detroit. Then they tried to stop certification of some results. And the judge, honestly, just bodied that claim, finding it was mere speculation by Trump's side to claim -- quote -- "hundreds or thousands of ballots have in fact been changed and presumably falsified," that claim failing because Trump's lawyers made only a claim, the judge notes, but have offered -- here it is again -- no evidence.

Now, many of these accounts are coming clearly from court transcripts, as you see. We also have tape of an actual courtroom moment in Michigan when a judge had to basically take a Trump lawyer back to law school to distinguish between admissible hard evidence and inadmissible hearsay, stuff you can't use in court because you're just repeating something secondhand.

And, yes, repeating things that other people say that aren't true, maybe that gets you a retweet. It doesn't go far in court. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still trying to understand why this isn't hearsay.

I heard somebody else say something. Tell me why that's not hearsay. Come on, now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's a firsthand statement of her physical...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an out-of-court -- it's an out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted therein, right?


MELBER: That judge is actually literally having to repeat the textbook definition of inadmissible hearsay for someone who's apparently flunking out of her court.

So, it's a high bar, as we know, for Donald Trump to remain silent, but maybe he's exercising his right to silence because he sees how hard it is to actually speak the words of any argument in public, let alone under oath, where lying can be criminal, to challenge the fact that he is, yes, the loser of this election.

Now, most reporters are not covering these irrelevant cases in-depth because they're not big legal or electoral news, just as Trump's supposed election appeal fund doesn't actually fund many election appeals, because, of course, it doesn't.

Now, these cases are dwindling and dying in such an absurd manner, they may not even end -- I want to be clear -- they may not end just in "My Cousin Vinny" territory. They may end somewhere even more ridiculous, a court film with a fitting nod to the Trump era, "Liar Liar."



JIM CARREY, ACTOR: Knock it off!

BERNARD: Sit down!

Mr. Reed, it is out of sheer morbid curiosity I'm allowing this freak show to continue.


MELBER: Whew. We know the feeling.

Now, when we come back, something I told you we were going to report on, very interesting, Barack Obama getting personal and calling out Donald Trump's lies.

That's ahead.


MELBER: New tonight, the first excerpts ever from Barack Obama's new memoir, "A Promised Land," including his view of how Donald Trump tapped into bigotry, writing -- quote -- "It was as if his very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic."

Obama writing, that's exactly what Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that Obama had not been born in the U.S. and was thus an the legitimate president.

It's not all Trump either. Obama also writes about his relationship with Joe Biden. He calls him a -- quote -- "decent, honest and loyal person" who cared about -- quote -- "ordinary people."

Obama also weighs in on something that might surprise some, that his predecessor and political opponent George W. Bush was exceedingly kind after that hard-fought 2008 election, writing -- quote -- "Whether because of his respect for the institution, lessons from his father, bad memories of his own transition, or just basic decency, President Bush would end up doing all he could to make the 11 weeks between my election and his departure goes smoothly," an 11 weeks we're living through right now.

Now, when we come back: Donald Trump's been in hiding, but the coronavirus is not.

There's also some good news within all of this from Dr. Fauci -- after this.


MELBER: Donald Trump has been hiding out in the White House. He is, of course, now a lame-duck president.

But the coronavirus crisis is surging in the U.S. On Wednesday, we have hit another single-day record, topping 144,000 cases.

President-elect Biden says his top priority will be to tackle, of course, what is still a public health crisis for the nation. His newly appointed chief of staff, Ron Klain, was also Biden's chief of staff.

And not only that. President Obama actually chose him to be the Ebola czar, leading the fight against the virus in 2014. He's also, of course, been on the news a lot, including right here on THE BEAT, and has been outspoken on what he sees as Donald Trump's failure to combat the virus.


RON KLAIN, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We are in a mess here. The administration dropped the ball here.

President Obama put science first. He listened to Dr. Fauci.

The Trump administration took apart the structure we put in place to prepare for this.

What we had here was President Trump trying to deny it, trying to delay it, trying to ignore it.


MELBER: Ignore it.

Now we have the surge going on. There's very little transparent -- transparency, I should say, with the task force. Donald Trump has continued, of course, to feud with Dr. Fauci. That was part of how they closed the campaign.

There was also the talk of 15 days to slow the spread. There were also times where the president openly mused about filling up churches by Easter.

This is what many see as a -- quote -- "herd immunity" strategy. But when you actually look at the numbers, here's what continues to occur and what we all need to keep in mind, cases topping 10 million, 243,000 deaths, something we struggle and have struggled to report on since this all began. How do you even give context and nuance to each one of those lives?

And no matter where you live right now, I can tell you, no matter where you watch MSNBC, well, the case count is growing in 46 states. That's why the map that you're looking at is all these hues of red and orange.

There's devastating stories around the country, places like El Paso, Texas, where we're hearing reports of full ICUs and full mobile morgues.

We also know, as of today, that longtime Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski tested positive. He was at the pretty crowded and largely maskless election night party for Donald Trump. All in, 44 different Trump officials have tested positive in the last few months.

There's also a sliver of hope. And I'm happy to bring you that piece of news, the vaccine trials that show 90 percent efficacy. Here's Dr. Fauci this morning.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: The cavalry is coming here. Vaccines are going to have a major positive impact.

End of April, early May, May/June, somewhere around that time, the ordinary citizen should be able to get it. So, if we can just hang in there, do the public health measures that we're talking about, we're going to get this under control, I promise you.


MELBER: Tonight, Dr. Fauci gets the last word.

"THE REIDOUT" starts now.


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