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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, November 20, 2020

Guests: Libby Casey, Blake Zeff, John Rzeznik, Killer Mike, John Flannery


Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for COVID-19. Killer Mike and John Rzeznik speaks out. How dangerous is President Trump's break with history to the country? President Trump continues trying to overturn the will of the American people.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT. I'm Ari Melber.

And this unusual news week ends with a fact that actually fits perfectly in our bizarre 2020 era. Donald Trump has now quarantined more strictly in response to losing the election than in response to getting COVID.

That's actually a measurable comparison, because, while the president continues -- had continued to hold those meetings and gatherings and public events in those memorable days after he contracted COVID, he has now, according to the count, spent most of the past 13 days since he lost the election in a self-isolation, very little work, no scheduled calls or meetings on his presidential schedule, no public remarks of any kind on most days, a man hunkered down in a kind of election quarantine.

And that's notable today and for tonight's news, because the president did finally emerge from that rather lengthy self-imposed election isolation to talk and to mislead about the election he lost and, of course, to continue these various legally dubious attacks on results that many see as a wholesale assault on democracy itself.

Trump also appears to be late to one undemocratic idea that was kicking around. There are reports he's still trying to figure out how to pull this off, who he might call to demand that states break their own rules and just not certify places where he lost.

Well, that's a reference to a few scattershot efforts that we have reported on, which are failing. There was this clash over certifying his loss in Michigan. I can tell you that state plans to go ahead and certify the loss, those results, as early as Monday.

Donald Trump, though, welcoming the very Michigan Republicans to the White House who tried and failed to delay some of the certifications in the Detroit area. Protesters, you see, holding up signs and chanting at the airport this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!


MELBER: That was their welcome to Washington.

This was an unprecedented scene, which reflects the unprecedented moves by this sitting and outgoing president.

We can also tell you, as we have emphasized, so you always have the facts, the stuff that's happening that they're trying is not working, the key state of Georgia, for example, certifying their results today. Donald Trump can't do anything to stop that ordained legal process because he lost by a clear margin. The election is over.

Meanwhile, we can also tell you that a person close to Donald Trump is telling NBC News that Trump does know he -- quote -- lost" -- end quote -- but wants to make it -- quote -- "difficult for Democrats."

That is someone telegraphing in real time what we have been showing you from the very first days of this weird, scattershot effort. It is not about changing the results, because that can't happen. It's not even about trying to win many cases. It's about basically trying to bother people.

Donald Trump's lawyer also admitting the scheme now turns to ignoring the will of the people and the votes that came in, pushing election officials to literally try to overturn the results for Trump.


LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: The president's path to victory here as you and the legal team see it, if you could give us just that -- that canvas very quickly?

SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, yes, Lou, the entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned, and the legislators should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump.


MELBER: We're joined now by MSNBC anchor Katy Tur and former federal prosecutor John Flannery.

Good to see you both.

We try to think a lot about the experts we bring in, and we have the two perfect people tonight, because part of this is about the Trump mind-set, which Katy Tur, many people know, was on the ground as a reporter on that from the very jump. She knows the entire way him and the people around him operate, and then what is actually happening in the law, as John Flannery, a skilled prosecutor, a former counselor to congressional investigations, can walk us through what is possible, because people still come up to me, John, and ask, wait, can any of this work?

When you hear a lawyer for the sitting president say, we want to overturn everything, is that possible, John?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, it's not. It's not possible.

In fact, Bauer spoke a little bit today about our friends from Michigan coming, that is, the leaders of the House and the Senate, being persuaded by Trump to do something. And he said, basically, if they were to try this move -- that is, to not certify what happened in Michigan and to try to go forward with electors -- they could be removed and replaced, because the actions they're taking is not a deliberate action.

In other words, they don't have any discretion to do it. It is an action that they're deigned by law to perform. And the same is true in many of the states. And there's also rules in most of the states about faithless electors, meaning that a person who on Election Day was chosen to represent Biden or Trump is deigned to do that all the way through the process.

What I think we have is, we have two rules. If you're in the courtroom, and you ask any one of these lawyers, is there fraud, they say no.

MELBER: Right.

FLANNERY: But then there's the Lewandowski rule when they're outside the courtroom, and they say, oh, yes, this is terrible. It's 1,000 people.

And then they hold up a book, and they say, look, we have affidavits here. And so, if they had 1,000 affidavits out of 140 million votes, and they said anything, you wouldn't overturn an election.

But let's go back one step further. If you look at these affidavits, they won't let you look at these affidavits. And the ones that have been seen by judges and questioned of lawyers, they get thrown out.

So what is this? This is a transparent effort to interfere with our election process. They do one set of arguments outside the courtroom, they do another set of arguments inside the courtroom, and it's all to generate, I think, a flailing failure on their part to get to their endgame, which is to do something, what "The Atlantic" thought would happen, but these guys can't do it.

MELBER: Right.

FLANNERY: If they had something like Bush-Gore, they'd be in a closer place, 500 to 700 votes.

But we have hundreds of thousands of votes in several states. It's just not going to happen.

MELBER: Right.

FLANNERY: But it's punishing America and punishing the system, yes.


MELBER: You put your legal finger on it, which is that even Rudy Giuliani, who hadn't been to court in 28 years, in federal court, knew that...


MELBER: ... in federal court -- yes -- knew you don't just lie in federal court, Katy. He actually, however people want to grade it, he was more accurate about the lack of fraud evidence in court than in these other bizarre presentations.

Flannery just gave us the reason why this is going nowhere in court.

We turn to Katy for what's going on out of court.

Walk us through what Trump's really up to here.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: So, wait. Hold on. Let's go back to the court strategy for a second, because it also reminds me of the way that Donald Trump behaves when he's before a judge or under oath.

We can go back to 2015, when Donald Trump told me that he had the world's best memory. I reported this on "Nightly News." It was in regard to what he said was cheering on the streets in the -- in Jersey City after 9/11 by Muslims.

He told me this, promised over and over again that he would produce the evidence, never did, repeated it over and over again on the campaign trail. And then, in a deposition a couple of years later, or a year later, when he was asked about this, asked about how he had the world's greatest memory, which he told a reporter, me, he said, "I don't remember saying that."

So, he knows that there's one thing you can do outside of a courtroom or outside of being under oath, and there's another you can do in the public sphere. And that's what the strategy is here. They know that they're not going to win in the courtroom. They don't have the evidence.

If they had the evidence, they would have produced it by now. FOX News is begging for it. They would have given it to Tucker Carlson. It's not about winning in court. Right now, it's about trying to sow distrust among the electorate, among Donald Trump supporters, enough doubt to doubt the system, to undercut the Democrats, to undercut Joe Biden, to lay the groundwork for whatever Donald Trump does after this, whether it's some sort of media platform, or if he decides to run again.

This is all about shoring up his image and his ego. It is the way it has always been with Donald Trump going back decades.

MELBER: Right.

TUR: The one thing you learn about him when you cover him, when you study him in any way, is that his greatest fear is being considered weak or a loser.

And, right now, he lost to Joe Biden, a man that he has repeatedly said is a weak person, is weak-minded, is feeble. So these are his two biggest fears coming together.

MELBER: You lay it out there. And I think it's very important, particularly because there is actual governing to be done, transition work to be done, and people need to understand what Trump is up to and what he's not up to.

He's not up to anything that both of you have explained that would change the results. And yet there's a seeking of a kind of balm for the experience he went through.

We have other developing news we just got it in since the broadcast began. It's on the screen now, Donald Trump Jr. testing positive for COVID.

I'm reading from a new statement -- quote -- "Don tested positive at the start of the week," they say. He's been quarantining out at his cabin since the result. He has been "completely asymptomatic so far and is following medically recommended COVID guidelines" -- end quote.

That's an official on-record statement from a spokesman for Donald Trump Jr.

They're saying this happened, Katy, days ago. It's breaking now tonight here, Friday night.

Your thoughts.

TUR: There's also the news that Rudy Giuliani's son tested positive for COVID, I believe, it was this morning. And he was at that news conference with his father and the other members of Donald Trump's legal team and the -- in that crowded room with a number of journalists, and he was testing positive.

So there's potential exposure for everybody in that room. I know Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis have both said that they have tested -- tested negative since then.

And this is just an ongoing spread within the Donald Trump circle, within the White House, within Republicans in Congress. They haven't taken the virus seriously. They're not taking the precautions that health officials are telling them to take.

I think it's striking, Ari, that you started this show by saying Donald Trump has done a better job quarantining since the election than he did before the election. I mean, that is notable, that he's taking it more seriously, inadvertently, now than he took it in the run-up to the election.


TUR: The spread is rampant across this country.

And what we have seen from Donald Trump is nothing in terms of leadership on this, no word from him about, hey, listen, you shouldn't be traveling for the holidays. You should wear a mask, you should social distance.

MELBER: Right.

TUR: This is serious stuff.

He is the president of the United States. Like him or hate him, there are millions of people out there who don't trust anybody but him.

MELBER: Right.

TUR: And his words would make a difference here.

MELBER: Well, and, Katy, you say that.

And, as you know, in our business, I sat down the top of the show. I hadn't -- I didn't get this yet. I was saying that as a measurable comparison of the way the president has self-isolated since the bad news he got on the loss.

TUR: Yes.

MELBER: I didn't know his son tested positive until about seven minutes later.

John Flannery, we're running out on time.

I did want to get you, though, on the pushback from at least a handful of Republicans, Romney, Sasse, saying -- quote -- "Wild press conferences erode public trust. Rudy should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations"

Romney saying the tactics "subvert the will of the people."

Your view of where that fits in, if Trump's not letting up on this, and this is what it looks like for weeks to come, John?

FLANNERY: Well, I think it's a shift to some of our public leaders in the Republican Party believe that they have a duty to tell the public how this should work and how it's not working.

And Rudy is an interesting example. He's kind of the trifecta of disaster. If you remember, he's the one who gave us the chance to know what Cohen did, which led to those disclosures about the money. He's the one who interfered in Ukraine, who won for the president an impeachment.

And now he's the person out there selling in the worst way possible -- he should be arrested for impersonating a lawyer -- the defense for the interference in the election, when it's transparently false.

And all the news organizations are saying it, and no less than Tucker Carlson asked them. OK, so where is the computer program that shifts the vote from one person to another on these election machines? And they couldn't say. And on top of it, if they did say, you would have to explain how Trump, with that same machine, got one in Utah.

So, logic is out the window. Passion is the only thing they have.

MELBER: Right.

FLANNERY: Desperation is the message of the hour.

MELBER: Right.

FLANNERY: And I'm going on a little bit, but I think that we're at a critical point.

And I think it's -- I think the trajectory is good.

MELBER: Well, it's interesting to hear you say that.

The testing will continue on co-equal branches of government in a climate like this.

I want to thank John Flannery, as always.

Eagle-eyed MSNBC viewers already know Katy Tur is one of the biggest Phishheads in the news business. We're going to get into rock 'n' roll by the end of the hour, so Katy comes back.


MELBER: Coming up after our shortest break, just 30 seconds, we're going to get into the fact-check with Giuliani you need to know, especially going into the holidays, if you have any friends that are going to be quoting him.

Also, Donald Trump's break with history, denial over the loss. Experts say there are dangers here. Michael Beschloss joins us.

And then we go to good news on the COVID vaccine.

All that coming up. We're back in just 30 seconds.



We're tracking several developing stories this Friday night, including something brand-new we learned just in the last few minutes, the president's son Donald Trump Jr. confirming he tested positive for COVID.

I want to bring in our guests tonight, Libby Casey from "The Washington Post" and Blake Zeff with experience for a range of Democratic candidates, including Obama and Hillary Clinton.

And we have planned, and we will still get to some of the fact-checking we wanted to do on 2020.

But, Libby, I wanted to go right to you as a reporter.

You have been in this spot before, news about people in the White House, from the president on down, getting COVID. Your thoughts tonight?

LIBBY CASEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I mean, you also have to ask about the timeline, Ari, when we find out this information and how the reporters are trying to ferret out just who has it.

We're, of course, wondering if Rudy Giuliani might have COVID. But we're seeing a Trump attorney say that -- Jenna Ellis, say he and -- she, rather, and Rudy Giuliani are negative, but, a lot of times, we're taking their word for it.

I mean, I just covered the oldest member of the House, Don Young from Alaska, got COVID. And his office was acting like reporters were interfering or somehow breaking some sort of sacred boundary when we were just asking basic questions about his health. He's the oldest serving member of Congress.

Now, he's out of the hospital, but he was in the hospital for three days, and there was sort of a news blackout period. So there's a big question about how much transparency lawmakers need to have with not just their diagnosis.

But then, of course, then we go back and we look at how these people are behaving. Were they standing, like Andrew Giuliani, at the back of a crowded room not wearing a mask?

And so we have to do that tracking back to figure out just who else could be exposed. And where's the contact tracing? Where is that bigger picture thing that should be happening?

MELBER: All important points of context.

And when I was reading the announcement to viewers just a few minutes ago, they go out of their way to emphasize that they're following all protocols. Even that is a change in certainly substance in tone. It's a claim. We're not fact-checking it yet tonight. We're just saying what they're saying.

But even that's different than the way the president acted, in blatantly flouting those quarantine rules when he first tested positive.

So, we're going to stay on that. If we get any other news on that, I want to tell viewers we will update you.

I want to proceed to the other topic that's so big that we booked these two guests for, Donald Trump reportedly energized by Giuliani proclaiming that there's some way he might win.

"Washington Post" noting that, after Giuliani's bizarre press conference, which was filled with unsourced conspiracy theories and all sorts of other problems, Trump's encouraged, Republicans aghast, Giuliani back at it today.


QUESTION: And you're going to meet with the president this afternoon, because he's bringing in some Michigan officials? What's going to happen this afternoon?

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I mean, that really depends on them and the president.

I will be there just to answer any questions they have, because I know -- I probably know the case better than anybody else myself.


MELBER: Now, he did not actually go to that meeting, because, in a related story, there was concern about COVID exposure.

People who knew Giuliani long before he served as Trump's lawyer are openly, publicly bemoaning what he's become, a White House official saying: "This has been an absolute 'expletive' show."

Another insider says it's just -- quote -- "saddening" to see what he's become.

And how do it's a show? Well, as we have reported, when Giuliani is under oath, it's a different story. When the judge in this very case questioned about voter fraud, Giuliani replied -- quote -- "This is not a fraud case."

Contrast that to him when it's showtime.


GIULIANI: I know you keep reporting, falsely, that we have no evidence. You can't say there's no evidence. This is what we call evidence.

They're cheating. That could have been Mickey Mouse. That could have been a dead person. Once, twice, three times. We are going to -- we're going to put Republican inspectors in pens.

Give us an opportunity to prove it in court, and we will. We're going to go to court. We're going to prove it in court. The censorship is almost as dangerous as the election fraud that we're revealing.


MELBER: Turning to Blake Zeff.

You have a lot of political experience. Have you seen anything quite like this?


And I have to say, I mean, this is -- for those of us who have been in New York politics for a long time and saw the Rudy Giuliani of 20 years ago or so, this is a very different person. I mean, he always had views that were divergent from a lot of others and maybe even the mainstream, but just this conduct misbehavior just seems truly off the wall, honestly.

MELBER: How would you contrast it?

I mentioned you have worked for Schumer, Clinton, Obama. How do you contrast it to the type of lawyers they bring to big cases like whether or not they win a race?

ZEFF: I mean, look, usually -- I'm not a legal expert, the way you are, but my understanding is that lawyers usually approach these things with some modicum of preparation, maybe even have evidence to substantiate your claims.

Generally, you make sure that your makeup isn't running right before you step on stage. These are just basic things that they probably teach you in your first year of law school.


I ask you because you're on the client side of working with top-flight senior government officials and politicians. And if this is the lawyer you're sending out at this stage, I think that alone is telling.

And, Libby, this is not playing that well around the nation. I want to just show some of the late-night comics getting in on it, absolutely roasting. Take a look.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Isn't it funny, the ones who shouted fake news the loudest all have fake heads?


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": When Rudy wakes up in the morning, his pillow must look like a Rorschach test.


FALLON: Later, they had to clean Rudy off like a seagull in those commercials for Dawn dish soap.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Jimmy, do we have another angle on that?

Now, obviously, it's easy to make fun of Rudy here, but it's also very satisfying.



MELBER: I mean, Libby, do you really want the last TV moments of the campaign for a TV president to be the punchline, to be the joke?

CASEY: I mean, Ari, you could not script this, right?


CASEY: If you were pitching this to like your agent for a plot, a lot of this wouldn't even fly, because it would seem too unrealistic.

The thing is, we can't get distracted by the words that the "Washington Post" fact-checker is using as they look at what Rudy Giuliani said, words like crazy, conspiracy theory, bizarre. And so the makeup is sort of the metaphor for the meltdown that was Rudy Giuliani, but also was the legal case.

And you make such an important distinction. He's not making these arguments in court because he's under oath, and there's an expectation -- there's, like, a legal necessity to tell the truth. And if there is -- if this just keeps going and keeps going, and there has to be some sort of legal resorting to stopping what Donald Trump is doing, what you say in court carries a very different weight in terms of the penalty you pay than what you're saying perhaps at a crowded, sweaty press conference.

MELBER: Yes, absolutely.

And there's another important point. We have hit this. We are deliberately reinforcing it, Blake, given that the people in the failed plot in Michigan were welcomed to the White House.

I think, even though I have tried to be very clear with everyone about the limits of all these theatrics, the substance -- and we have had experts, including civil rights leaders, on this program to talk about the substance -- is dead serious.

And so, to remind everyone, Blake, for your analysis on that component, and the racial discrimination of trying to toss only certain votes, only votes out of Detroit, we want to show again what happened in that failed clash in that around Wayne County. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would be open to a motion to certify communities other than the city of Detroit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to certify this election the way we're supposed to. But we're not going to be playing games and picking out the people of color. That's not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you. Shame on you for leading to this level of corruption. You have disavowed your right to even sit in the seat that you occupy. You are a disgrace.


MELBER: Blake?

ZEFF: Yes, it's disgusting, it's corrupt, it's racist.

And we were just joking around a little bit about -- or I was -- about Rudy's makeup, but let's be really serious about this.

In this case, the election is not really that close. Joe Biden won by more than 70 electoral votes, more than six million popular votes. So, this gambit isn't going to work, but let's be really clear about something we learned, that the Republican Party and many major figures within the Republican Party were very intent and very happy to try to attempt to undo an election.

They wanted to overturn the result. They were very serious. They're taking it as far as they possibly can go, and there aren't a lot of people trying to stop them. And, again, not going to work in this case, but can you imagine if this was much -- a much closer race, if this was just a one-state difference, just a few electoral votes, an even popular vote, that kind of a thing?

Then this would really become a very different situation. And I think it's really important to remember that that's what we're dealing with.

MELBER: I think -- again, as we have another head-spinning week here on a Friday night, I think Blake makes a point that everyone's got to keep in mind.

It's all well and good to say there's respect and dialogue and respect for all ideologies. We indeed try to follow that on this program. But if a major political party has as its leadership in two branches of government openly trying to steal elections and toss the votes of people based on their views or their race, that's a major problem that's not just going to dissipate on January 20.

Blake Zeff and Libby Casey, thanks to both of you on more than one story.

Up ahead, I want to share with you something directly from our colleague Rachel Maddow, sharing this powerful story about what's going on in her family and the dangers of COVID.

That's tonight. We're going to show you her words.

But, first, the dangers of Donald Trump's denial. We have our good friend the presidential historian Michael Beschloss straight ahead.


MELBER: Have you noticed this is not normal, the president openly trying to say only the votes for him should count, talking about stealing an election, no legal path to succeed?

We have been reporting on how those Michigan Republicans were welcomed at the White House, after being shamed in their own home state for what they were doing.

And Donald Trump is also taking petty moves that basically delay or mess with aspects of the transition. They won't mess with the transfer of power.

All of this, we want to show you tonight, with the evidence, is a radical break from a longstanding bipartisan approach to the peaceful transfer of power in America.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I look forward to talking to the president. I'm so honored that he -- extended his hospitality to me and my wife yesterday. He didn't need to do this. And I'm most grateful that he would do so.

Good morning. Last night, I had a warm conversation with president-elect Barack Obama. I congratulated him and Senator Biden on their impressive victory.

I told the president-elect he can count on complete cooperation from my administration as he makes the transition to the White House.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful.


MELBER: We turn to presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

What contrast do you see from there to now?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, once again, Ari, Donald Trump tonight is in a category of his own.

Go all the way back to John Adams, who lost to a guy who was at that time, as you know, his political enemy, Thomas Jefferson. Adams was angry about being defeated by Jefferson. And he didn't hang around for the inauguration. That tradition had not been established yet, so, Adams got in a stagecoach and went back to Massachusetts before Jefferson was sworn in.

But it began this tradition that, even when you have an incumbent president who is angry at the guy who beat him for reelection, Herbert Hoover in 1933 had Franklin Roosevelt over to the White House to talk about how they should transfer power.

Even when they rode up to the Capitol, Roosevelt and Hoover sat in the back of an open car. They shared a lap robe, if you could believe it, didn't talk much, but that's the tradition.


And, as you say, the tradition is running alongside both the rules, constitutional requirements, and the norms, that much-abused framework or term in the last four years...


MELBER: ... that provide a buffer, provide a context for all of this.

We just showed the outgoing presidents.

Michael stays with us. We want to show Michael and our viewers the other cases where we have seen the candidates, as mentioned, who lost just conceding, with some eye on their place in history, John McCain making what for him was a painful concession to Barack Obama in 2008, Hillary Clinton in that loss that shocked so many, including many in the Republican Party, she got up the next morning and gave that speech, pledging her cooperation to president-elect Trump in '16.

And we have seen presidents who lost reelection, like Trump did, face the music.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people of the United States have made their choice, and, of course, I accept that decision, but I have to admit, not with the same enthusiasm that I accepted the decision four years ago.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people have spoken. And we respect the majesty of the democratic system.

I just called Governor Clinton over in Little Rock and offered my congratulations. He did run a strong campaign. I wish him well in the White House.


MELBER: Michael, you deal with facts and evidence. You have a rigorous process between where you start in publishing one of your history books.

How do you measure class? Because what I see there is something that's hard to prove, but I feel it inside, which is, across ideology and parties, we have just seen many different presidents showing a type of class or even grace that is absent right now at the White House.

BESCHLOSS: Well, you know, Ari, I have got two sons who are now in their 20s, but they used to play little league.

And every time they played a game, even if they lost, they would shake hands with the winning team and say, good game. That was assumed.

This is -- that's America. What is not American is to claim you won when you didn't win, to be a poor loser, to try to be out of keeping with the tradition of all those guys who just showed.

Even Richard Nixon, who is not thought of in history as a particularly gracious winner, 1960, gets beaten by John Kennedy. He was very angry about it. He was very sad about it. But he goes out and tells his supporters in Los Angeles, in America, once the decision is made, we unite behind the candidate who was elected.

That was even before the final results were in.

MELBER: Yes, that's great, a great example that you're giving off -- as we say, off the top of the dome, Michael.

We have one more for you. And that is Al Gore, who did have this tight legal challenge everyone remembers, frustrating for both sides in the run-up to it, and then, of course, frustrating for the person losing so narrowly, having won more votes overall total across America, Al Gore. Take a look.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt. While I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College.

And, tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.


MELBER: If I may be a little optimistic here at the end of the week, Michael, I ask you to guide us.

BESCHLOSS: Wonderful.


MELBER: What would you, as someone who I know cares deeply about America, what would you tell citizens, both parties, neither party, whatever, what is incumbent upon the rest of us to do if we never get that concession from this president?

What do we do from here together?

BESCHLOSS: We just say that Donald Trump is a gross aberration, get him out the door, hope the door doesn't hit him on the way out on the 20th of January, and say, we demand in our leaders that they do what all those other candidates that you showed tonight did, show some graciousness and understand that democracy is more important.

Listen to what Al Gore just said. He didn't say, I agree with the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore. He says, for the sake of our democracy, I offer my concession.

Most candidates, most presidents love democracy, want to unite the country.

Donald Trump is a gross aberration, an exception to that tradition. Soon, he will be gone.

MELBER: Michael Beschloss gets the word on that. Thank you, sir.

Up ahead, as promised, we will hear my colleague Rachel's powerful message on COVID and what she's going through personally. We want to share that with you tonight.

Also, coming up later in the hour, you know we like to mix it up. Katy Turk comes back, and we have some other special guests digging into Trump world and culture and a pandemic heading towards the holidays, a special conversation.

Stay with us.


MELBER: New COVID data shows this virus is now surging across all 50 states. It's breaking the U.S.' single-day record, topping 185,000 new cases.

The rates show how this virus has gone beyond some of the very initial big cities when it first arrived to really touch most Americans in some way. "The New York Times" reporting researchers see a coming tipping point, a pandemic so widespread that every American knows someone who's been infected.

That obviously would include the journalists reporting on COVID, just as much as everyone living through it.

You know, some MSNBC viewers may recall, on that big day when the election was called, Donald Trump named the loser of the race on Saturday, our colleague Rachel Maddow was Zooming in from a different home location, and she told viewers she was quarantining after contact with someone who tested positive.

Now, in her most recent show, she's sharing a bit more about this whole period and discussing how her partner of over 21 years, Susan, contracted the virus.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": My relationship with Susan is the only thing, at the end of the day, that I would kill or die for without hesitation.

And Susan has been sick with COVID these past couple of weeks. And, at one point, we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her.

I would have done anything. I would have moved mountains for it to have been me who was sick these past couple of weeks, instead of Susan.

Whatever you have calculated into your life as acceptable risk, recalibrate that. It won't necessarily be you. It'll be the person you most care about in the world. And how can you bear that?


MELBER: We're all going through this in our own ways. We're all going through something similar. We're all calculating what to do.

Those are some words to consider from Rachel. You may have heard them when she said them last night. We wanted to share that part with you.

And there's a wider context tonight. Medical experts reinforce that this kind of caution is largely temporary. They're reminding everyone, many of the restrictive tactics that we are employing or being asked to employ by local government are temporary.

New vaccines could be available as soon as the end of next month, if the emergency authorization being requested comes through.

This is a long road, but not, we're told, an endless one.

Now when we come back, three very special guests on the surreal display coming out of Trump world and some messages of hope as we approach the holidays.

Katy Tur and more -- after this.


MELBER: What a week it's been.

But it's Friday on THE BEAT, and that means it's time to fall back.

And we have some great guests tonight. Rock royalty John Rzeznik is, of course, the legendary front man for the multi-platinum-selling band Goo Goo Dolls, four Billboard Awards, four Grammy nominations, and count them up, if you're counting, 13 albums. The new one, in time for the holidays, "It's Christmas All Over." They're going to be performing at this year's tree lighting in Rockefeller Center. That's pretty cool.

And back with us, our colleague and friend Katy Tur, NBC correspondent, MSNBC anchor, a Walter Cronkite Award winner, "New York Times" bestselling author for the book with a title that applies to this day, "Unbelievable," her road covering Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and beyond.

First of all, thanks to both of you for doing this.

TUR: Hey, Ari. Thanks for having me.

JOHN RZEZNIK, MUSICIAN: Well, thank you.

MELBER: Hey, hey. I'm thrilled. It's been a long week.

Katy, what needs to fall back?

TUR: Rudy Giuliani's hair dye needs to fall back, or his hair mascara, or whatever he's doing...


TUR: ... because the man doesn't -- the man sweats a lot. And we have seen him sweat a lot over the past years, frankly, that he's been coming out and trying to defend the president.

We saw it even during the Republican National Convention the other day, when he was wiping it off his head. He sweats a lot. So, maybe, if you're going to dye your hair, make sure it's dry first, or if you're going to add mascara, make sure it dries first. Or, I don't know, maybe go gray. Go gray with some dignity.

MELBER: Can I ask a follow, Katy?

TUR: You can. You can. You may.

MELBER: I'm not knowledgeable about fashion. But I have heard that the rule in fashion is, you can break any rule knowingly. Like, if you stylishly power clash, then it's OK.

So, is it possible, Katy, as a journalist, that he was going for this look on purpose?

TUR: You know, I know you do know fashion, Ari, because I have seen your floral puffy jacket on Instagram.



TUR: You got an eye for it.

MELBER: Wow. All right.

TUR: No, I don't -- I don't think he was doing it on purpose. I don't think anyone purposefully tries to have dye run down their face as they're saying, take me seriously. It's hard to take you seriously when you don't look serious.

MELBER: Yes. Fair.

John, I am thrilled to have you here, your first time here. So, first of all, thanks for putting up with me and Katy.

RZEZNIK: Thank you.


RZEZNIK: No, no, I love it. I love it.

MELBER: A lot of this is relevant, because you're a leader in culture, and people look to you. People get a lot -- we just talked about fashion. People get a lot of ideas that way.

And branding has always been a part of this. As rockers, you guys are storytellers, first and foremost. So we want to get your view on something Geraldo is suggesting in telling the story of these vaccines everyone's so thrilled to eventually get.

Take a look.



GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS HOST: With the world so divided and everybody telling him he's got to give up and time to leave and time to transition and all the rest of it, why not name the vaccine the Trump?

It'd be a nice gesture to him. I wish we could honor him in that way.


MELBER: Your thoughts on the gesture of naming a vaccine after Donald Trump?

RZEZNIK: OK, I'm probably the only person old enough to remember when Geraldo got hit with that chair -- boof! -- on his show, and they broke his nose. Do you remember this?

MELBER: I remember the scuffles, yes.

RZEZNIK: You were like 4.


RZEZNIK: Yes. But -- yes, something got knocked loose. And now he's naming vaccines after, you know, that guy.

MELBER: Do you...


MELBER: Do you think that -- yes.

Do you think that -- of all the people we might name it after, I feel like the people who might -- came up with it, like the scientists, might come first, if we're doing namings.

RZEZNIK: Yes, that would be nice. Like, Jonas Salk came up with the polio vaccine, didn't he?


RZEZNIK: Name it after him.


RZEZNIK: Name it after anyone, you know?



RZEZNIK: We should call it -- we should call the vaccine the Uniter.

MELBER: Hey, I like Uniter or anything factual.

This is -- because even we have these debates in the -- around the world about vaccines, and it's like just -- let's look at the facts. We had someone who was part of one of these trials earlier on said it was safe and good for them. And I think we're all going to be talking about that for a minute.

I also want to get -- Katy Tur, you know, Robert De Niro is weighing in on all of this. We got to hear from recently. He was on "The View." And I could always take more Robert De Niro in my week. Take a look.


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR/PRODUCER: He's the one who was prosecuting under the RICO Act, the way I understand it, and now he's representing a mob family.

It's crazy. It's creepy. It's -- I don't know what happened to him. I can't understand, because it's just as easy to say, look, I can't buy into this. I can't go along with it. It's over. I'm out.

And he'd have so much respect, and people would hire him and want to hire him. And he's going this other way. It's just nuts.


MELBER: This goes to the heart of it.

And this maybe gets up to our journalistic boundaries, Katy, because we don't know what's going on inside anyone's mind, including Rudy Giuliani. But there's a lot of people who held him in higher esteem for earlier parts of his work who are just baffled or disappointed now, when you see this is the final chapter or one of the final chapters.

TUR: You know, it's -- I have talked to a lot of Rudy Giuliani allies over the past year -- over the years, and, frankly, one tonight about his behavior.

And it's confusing to a lot of people. They scratch their head. They say they don't know what happened to him. They wonder if he's OK mentally, because this is not the person that they knew was certainly the mayor of New York City.

When you go back and you look at some of those clips from when he was mayor, it's hard to match up the character that he has become. Listen, he's always been a controversial person. He's always been a bit in your face, but this is taking it to the absolute extreme.

Rudy Giuliani, he's -- it doesn't seem like, to those who know him, that he is well.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

Hang with me. We do special stuff here at the end of the week. I got one more special thing, an activist, a rapper, someone involved in politics you may recognize, Killer Mike. Of course, he's half of Run the Jewels. He's worked with everyone from T.I. to OutKast, a Grammy Award winner.

You may recall he campaigned for Bernie Sanders and Stacey Abrams. And now he's out with a new initiative for Thanksgiving.

First of all, welcome.

Killer Mike, thanks for being here.

KILLER MIKE, MUSICIAN: Hey, thanks for having me. How's everybody?

MELBER: Everybody's pretty good.

We're going in and out of -- yes, there we got you. We're going in and out on Zoom, which is something we all relate to, but I can see you now.

Mike, I know you're doing a lot of work here on Thanksgiving and helping and giving back.


MELBER: Just tell us about that.

KILLER MIKE: Well, I'm part of Greenwood banking platform that is making sure that black and Latinx community have an opportunity to participate in the American dream by simply being able to take control of their wealth and not have their money siphoned from check-cashing places.

And part of being philanthropic in the community you're serving is making sure people can eat. This has been a very difficult year. It's been very hard. Thanksgiving should be a time of joy. It should be a time of fellowship, no matter what your religious beliefs are.

And we just want to make sure that some families are going to be able to have that. So, I'm honored to be a part of something that's going to make sure that people can eat and just fellowship and enjoy one another during these terrible times.

MELBER: We love that. And I love shouting that out. We were talking about something one of your colleagues, Vic Mensa, was doing for African-American homeless youth yesterday in Chicago.

KILLER MIKE: Yes. Yes. Yes.

MELBER: What you're doing. We love getting that in. It can't all be bad news.

I have about 45 seconds left.

As a prominent Sanders supporter, I'm wondering what you think of the Biden/Harris transition period and how they're doing so far.

KILLER MIKE: I think that there's room to be far more progressive than they are being.

That is not a critique or a criticism. It's a challenge to do that.


KILLER MIKE: That is not a critique or a criticism, simply a challenge to do that. And I'm hoping that they will live up to that challenge.

MELBER: We all welcome challenge.

I want to thank Killer Mike and John Rzeznik and Katy Tur for a special conversation to end the week. Thanks to each and every one of you. I appreciate it.

KILLER MIKE: Absolutely.

MELBER: And I want to tell everyone here we are finishing our "Fallback Friday."

You can always find us on social media at @THEBEATWITHARI on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or you can find me at @AriMelber.

We have had quite a week. If you think about what we went through tonight, it was everything from Rachel talking about COVID and her family, to the breaking news that Donald Trump Jr. has contracted COVID -- he says he's following the restrictions -- to the breaking news that everyone around the world cares about, that there could be a vaccine being distributed as soon as next month.

That relates to a request to the FDA to get emergency authorization.

So, it is a time where there's a lot going on, even as we keep an eye on some of those shenanigans in Washington.

I want to wish you and yours a great weekend as we go into the holidays. Thanks, as always, for watching.

And don't go anywhere, because "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" will start right after we take a quick break.


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