Acting legend Robert De Niro discusses President Trump's election defeat. As Joe Biden's begins planning his administration, President Trump refuses to accept his defeat. The COVID-19 pandemic continues worsening. The president's niece, Mary Trump, discusses her uncle's defeat. A major pharma company, Pfizer, announces it passed 90 percent efficacy rates in vaccine trials.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT with my friend Ari Melber starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle.
There is much I could ask you about, but I'm curious what you think of Donald Trump, after all the threats and the bluster, doing literally nothing since Saturday.
WALLACE: Oh, you mean except golfing and sending Rudy out to the poor landscaping company?
WALLACE: Well, I think it's very on brand, right?
And I started my time here today asking if there's anyone around them with the good of the country in mind, because it seems that -- we have talked about the rubber meeting the road. This is really where rubber, road, right?
And I am just dismayed at the shabbiness of the character of the people surrounding Donald Trump. It says so much. And we have wondered. We have posited. You have had lots of his legal advisers on your show over the course of the presidency.
But it says something so disturbing about the lack of patriots around Donald Trump in the White House, because he had a right to a fair election. He has a right, I suppose, to fight some of these things where there are questions.
He's one, I think, 0 for six or 0 for seven in the courts. And now it's time to adhere by the Constitution and participate in a peaceful transfer of power. And he has not given any indication he will do that.
And the fact that there isn't anyone around him -- I always look at this as a former staffer. The fact there aren't any staffers either quitting in protest or dragging him out or saying they will is appalling.
MELBER: I think you're absolutely right. You mentioned the courts.
Yes, he has the right to pursue court cases that cannot and will not result in changing the outcome of the election. That's what's left. They can do that, but that doesn't change any of, as you say, the obligation for people who are, of course, taxpayer-funded public servants to do the right thing.
Nicolle, always good to see you.
WALLACE: Good to see you my friend.
MELBER: Keep on keeping on.
WALLACE: You too.
MELBER: I want to welcome everyone to this first edition of THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER since Joe Biden officially beat Donald Trump on Saturday.
Today, president-elect Biden went to work, announcing a COVID team of medical experts and reiterating that the Trump era and the election are over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: This election is over. It's time to put aside the partisanship and the rhetoric that's designed to demonize one another. We have to come together to heal the soul of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Heal the soul of this country.
And that healing isn't just a metaphor. Americans have been spending the last few weeks voting, of course, and then spent several long days watching all those votes get tallied on the big board, which could easily distract from another piece of news and reality in this nation.
This coronavirus pandemic is hitting its worst peaks yet, topping 10 million cases across the nation. And as president-elect Biden preps his new COVID plans, the Trump staff, preparing to vacate in 72 days, are reeling from a new COVID problem, top aides testing positive, including David Bossie, circled there in red.
He was among the group gathered indoors on election night in a White House known for its lax COVID standards, plus HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, both also at that same event.
Now, those Trump officials, like every political appointee in this Trump administration, have exactly 72 days left on the job, until president-elect Biden puts in his picks, except for those who are out earlier, which leads to another big piece of news right now.
Donald Trump has been avoiding any public remarks, but he did take a post-loss action by firing the person who oversees the United States military, a big job, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had broken with Trump over, among other things, tear-gassing of peaceful protesters this summer.
The election was called Saturday morning. It is now Monday night. Donald Trump has not spoken in public, let alone conceded, as president-elect Biden gets to work. One Trump official is now delaying when Biden's transition team can formally begin its work, a small annoyance that does not alter the constitutional transfer of power.
And so, in some ways, this Trump era ends as it began, flouting the basic obligations of decorum in governing, drawing attention to the petty absurdity of someone so small occupying an office so large.
I got to tell you, this would be comical, if it weren't so serious, like so many Trump era indignities. It's also worth noting the privileged hypocrisy at play. President Obama famously, publicly welcomed then president-elect Trump to the White House, despite Donald Trump's birther lies about Obama and his threats to jail Obama's secretary of state and the tense climate at the time, as Trump had really won fewer votes than Clinton and only narrowly won the Electoral College.
But, of course, then, Donald Trump benefited from the very traditions he now flouts. The meeting you see on your screen, it was exactly two days after that year's election.
In President Obama's America, that's what democracy looked like, professional and respectful, even in the face of the opposite. And now, in president-elect Biden's America, this is also what democracy looks like, calling for unity and respect against a now vanquished opponent, who, let's be clear, honors neither.
And then you have President Trump's America. What does democracy look like today or yesterday or Saturday? Well, here on the news, we can't even tell you, because we haven't heard from Donald Trump since Thursday, when he falsely claimed fraud and vowed to fight this in court.
But let's be clear tonight one last time. This president could not keep that same energy after he lost Saturday. After president-elect Biden celebrated victory and addressed the nation, Donald Trump could not keep that same energy to fight on anymore, or even keep that same energy to talk in public.
No, we have not heard again from this man, this notorious showman, this voluble entertainer. But when it came down for the showdown, the season finale, the last scene, it turns out, for Trump, this is now a silent movie.
And isn't that fitting, that it ends not in court, not on TV, not even in a phoned-in interview or a rally? No, it ends with the loser of the election quietly typing tweets into the night, because, America, tonight, let me paraphrase a wise owl from Canada.
Donald Trump is the type of guy to just type and to let those trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers.
We turn now to Katty Kay, BBC News Washington anchor, and Juanita Tolliver from Supermajority.
Juanita, this apparently is how it ends.
JUANITA TOLLIVER, NATIONAL POLITICAL DIRECTOR, SUPERMAJORITY: I mean, this is the petty, petulant, sore loser at his best.
Like, I think it's par for the course of what we have seen from Trump throughout this entire presidency. And I'm not shocked that he's relying on Twitter to do his bidding right now, whether it's firing SecDef, whether it's literally gagging leaders of different agencies from moving forward with what should be a peaceful transition.
What I do appreciate is that president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris are not letting this slow them down, because what they're doing is something that I don't think the Trump administration knows anything about.
They're censuring the needs of people and they're responding to the demand that they received from voters, who decided this election. And so I don't think that any of this with GSA is going to slow them down. They have already set up different task forces and committees for COVID, for the economy, as well as for racial injustice.
And so I expect them to stay the course, no matter what Trump does.
KATTY KAY, BBC NEWS: Look, Donald Trump can tweet or not tweet. He can talk or not talk. He can golf or not golf. He can say something or not say something.
It doesn't really make much difference. Power is shifting hands in America. And we had a very good indication of that when Joe Biden revealed to the nation this morning that, actually, you know what, Pfizer had called him last night with news of that vaccine and the good news that is coming out of that.
For me, that was such a sign of what is actually happening, vs. the kind of show that is going on in the White House. Power is shifting. Joe Biden will be the next president. And what Donald Trump says or does about it is almost irrelevant, except that it kind of feeds this idea that it's a fraud. But he's leaving.
MELBER: Yes, and you're mentioning Pfizer announcing that it has clinical rates of above 90 percent for COVID vaccine trials, up to potentially a billion available next year, if it continues, and that that news is something that they're looking at the Biden transition and the Biden administration to deal with.
We do have more of that, I should mention, in the program later tonight.
As you mention the power shifting, Katty, I want to play an unusual moment. There's been much discussion, given the levels of falsehoods by this administration, about how and when to cover them, fact-check them, or just not cover them at all, not air them.
And this was something that you don't usually see on FOX News, Juanita, but FOX News cutting away from a Trump aide today on the fraud claims. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We want every legal vote to be counted. And we want every illegal vote...
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
I just think we have to be very clear. She's charging that the other side is welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can't in good countenance continue showing you this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How about that, Juanita?
TOLLIVER: I mean, when you're 0 for seven in the courts in your claims about things happening in states around this election, it's interesting to see that FOX even put their foot down, knowing that Trump and his campaign have zero evidence to back up what they're saying, knowing that the courts have rejected claim after claim after claim, and will likely continue to do so.
So, even as I hear FOX do that, I'm looking to other Republicans to do the same. What we heard from McConnell on the floor definitely didn't do that. What we heard from Republicans on the Sunday shows definitely didn't do that.
And they need to stop with the cowardice. Literally, Trump is out the door. Now is the time to stand up for democracy if you have any backbone whatsoever.
And, Juanita, you make a point I want to bring to Katty, as a Washington observer. The Republican Party not moving yet, which tells you something about who president-elect Biden is still going to have to be potentially working with, depending on the resolution of two open Senate seats.
But we will put on the screen, when you go to the Senate, which is the upper body, with George Washington's cooler saucer, or whatever parable you want to use.
Only four Republican senators, Sasse, Romney, Collins, Murkowski, have actually publicly recognized the fact that everyone in America is living through, that we have a president-elect.
Is that wrong, Katty, and what does it tell you?
KAY: It tells me that they are all still thinking that Donald Trump isn't going anywhere and, when he leaves the White House, he's still going to have an enormous amount of power over the Republican Party.
Whether he runs or not or whether he just puts it out there that he might run or not, he's still going to be able to influence primaries, make television appearances, and carry on tweeting.
And I did think it was particularly disappointing today when the secretary of defense was fired, because that actually does matter. And there have been several transitions during the 1980s and 1990s where we had national security crises during the transition period.
And when you have somebody who was a mid-level Pentagon staffer until fairly recently now running the Pentagon, that's playing with fire in terms of the nation's security.
That's not just another personnel change. This is potentially very alarming. I spoke this evening to a former supreme allied commander of NATO, who said, look, America's enemies will watch that. They will see that you have now got a vacuum, effectively, at the top of the Pentagon.
And that's -- if it's done for spite, if it's done just to make himself happy, that's a very serious threat to the country that is totally needless.
And I think that's fair, and that's why we're tracking Pentagon and other things that happen in these next 72 days, obviously.
You know, Juanita, I mentioned in the introduction that now that Donald Trump is the loser of this race, which is just a fact -- I don't say that pejoratively. But this is a race. There are winners and losers. He is the loser.
He's not bringing the same energy to any of these pursuits. But Lindsey Graham is suggesting that maybe they can tap in to that long shot Grover Cleveland energy, where you come back later and run again. Take a look.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I would encourage President Trump, if after all this, he does fall short, we just can't quite get there, to not let this movement die, to consider running again. Grover Cleveland came back. Donald Trump should think about it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: Juanita, what do you think of that issue, the what would Grover Cleveland do issue?
TOLLIVER: Literally, the one thing out of that statement that I'm sticking with is not let this movement die. And I'm like, what movement is that, Senator Graham? Is that the racism, the xenophobia, the sexism?
Like, what part exactly shouldn't die from this that hasn't been toxic to our country? And, literally, a cornerstone of Trump and how he led -- and, rather, didn't -- because what I see here is that we have a president who has never centered Americans. We have a president who has literally made this about himself this entire term.
And so, like, I feel like a second term would just be more of the same, more of the same tragedy that is not focused on helping people, more of the same tragedy that winds up with children in cages, more of the same tragedies that yields hundreds of thousands of dead people in this country from a pandemic.
So, second term, no thanks.
MELBER: Juanita Tolliver laying it out there, and Katty Kay with a lot of perspective. Appreciate both of you.
We have our shortest break of the hour now, just 30 seconds.
But I also want you to know what's coming up tonight. It's a very special show. We have Mary Trump from the Trump family. We have the legendary James Carville and the legendary Robert De Niro, all with unique insights at this point in America.
All that and more -- when we're back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Welcome back.
New reports tonight depicting Donald Trump as angry and -- quote -- "volatile" over this loss, now three days in a row running with no comments from him.
As we have been reporting, Trump also taking on some post-election actions, including firing the defense secretary today. And while his team is exploring the potential for post-loss rallies, and it's a long ways until January, as many people who know him well warn, there could be -- and this includes his niece Mary Trump -- the prospect of governing through a series of meltdowns.
We turn now to Mary Trump, President Trump's niece and the author of "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man."
Mary, good to have you back.
You spoke out when it mattered, when people were making up their minds. Your thoughts on what it means that America has now soundly rejected your uncle for a second term?
MARY TRUMP, AUTHOR, "TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH: HOW MY FAMILY CREATED THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS MAN": I think it's good news. I wish he had been rejected more soundly.
It's Vice President, now president-elect, Biden won decisively and legitimately, even though that shouldn't need to be said, but it wasn't a landslide. It wasn't a total repudiation of what has gone on the last four years, especially if you consider the Republican Party actually did fairly well, at least against expectation, gaining seats in the House, and maybe hanging on to the Senate, which fact, by the way, is going to enrage Donald even further, because he can no longer pretend that he did badly because the Republican Party dragged him down.
If anything, it's the opposite.
So, it's good news. We have pulled ourselves back from the brink of a potential autocracy. We now have the opportunity to do the very, very hard work this country needs to do.
However, 72 days is a long time. And given Donald's -- what I imagine to be Donald's current state of mind and his recent actions and the actions of those closest to him and his enablers in the Senate, we could be in for a pretty rocky ride.
MELBER: You talk about his mind as he assesses this.
On the day this news broke on FOX News, which we know he tends to watch, there were high-ranking Republicans speaking about him in childlike analysis of what it would take for him to get and absorb this. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The decent thing to do is let the president himself take the time he wants to absorb this.
It is not easy and it is extraordinarily close. So, if the president needs to take a few days, maybe even longer, to absorb, ultimately accept, and I think he ultimately will accept the outcome of the people, you have to allow that to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
You know, we had an election. We had the results of an election. He's allegedly an adult human being. I don't recall the same concessions being made to Hillary Clinton, who actually won the popular vote.
And, apparently, it looks like the Electoral College margin might be exactly the same. So, why does he get the benefit of taking a few days? It is disruptive to the transition. It is disruptive to the people -- to the peaceful transfer of power. It is disruptive to the incoming administration.
And all it does is give him and his enablers more time to sow seeds of doubt in people who maybe don't want to accept the results of this election. And the hypocrisy, I shouldn't be stunned by it anymore, but it is stunning.
MELBER: Yes. No, I appreciate you telling us how you see it.
I did want to ask you about the sort of global reaction to this. There's many ways to measure it, but there's some headlines that are actually measurable, where you see there is a big anthem called "F Donald Trump" that's been out for a while.
But it's now number one on iTunes. It's up seven times in sales over Biden. It is basically a pre-Trump anthem that, as "Rolling Stone" puts it, has become a post-Trump presidency hit. We saw it playing with people dancing around the country.
And so, Mary, my question to you is, when you see this in America and around the world, what do you think of this many people dancing to this song "F Donald Trump," your uncle?
TRUMP: I understand it entirely.
You know, it's been an exhausting four years. I think a lot of people for the first time in a very long time were able to breathe a sigh of relief, and that includes our allies.
You know, there's a reason that people across the world are as relieved as a lot of us here at home. There is a reason, as I think Katty Kay pointed out, that Pfizer called President Biden and not Donald Trump. It's enough already.
We have dealt with the minute-to-minute crises and the temper tantrums and the threats and the cruelty and all of the other things that we have been dealing with for long enough. It's time for it to stop.
And I think, on Saturday, when the election was called legitimately for president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris, people -- it finally sunk in, I think. People finally understood that this nightmare is at least coming to an end. And the only reason Donald wants to prolong is because he knows, if he concedes, he loses relevance.
Really appreciate your candor and your thoughts at this time.
Mary Trump, thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Let me tell everyone what's coming up on the program.
We are thrilled Robert, De Niro making his debut live on THE BEAT tonight, discussing his history with Trump, where America goes from here and much more.
Also, as mentioned, there is good news about a potential COVID vaccine and a fact-check. We bring that to you.
And the numbers that show why Donald Trump is a loser right now. What happened in this race? We get into that with Maya Wiley and Carville next.
MELBER: On this first workday since Joe Biden beat Donald Trump, we turn to two political heavyweights, legendary Democratic campaign strategist James Carville and current New York mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.
Good evening to you both.
JAMES CARVILLE, MSNBC ELECTION ANALYST: Thank you.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Good evening.
CARVILLE: And same to you.
MELBER: James, you know where it starts, right?
MELBER: It starts with the big question, because I'm just like other MSNBC viewers. I stay up late. I watch you at night.
Did you ever break out the champagne bottle you showed us?
CARVILLE: I'm going to -- I will break it out on Brian's show. I feel like I owe that to him. But I broke out another one, I promise you.
MELBER: So you haven't drank it yet?
MELBER: But you haven't even drank it? You haven't had it yet?
CARVILLE: I hadn't had that particular bottle.
But I think have Pappy Van Winkle on Brian's show. We're going big time. That's $200 an ounce. I have been waiting to get into that thing for quite a while. I needed a good excuse. And I got one now, Ari.
(LAUGHTER) MELBER: Now, I'll tell you, for James Carville buffs -- and then we will get to both of your deep election analysis.
But for real James Carville buffs, you can remember the scene at the end of "The War Room," where they break out the scotch, and someone says, oh, that's so good, smell it. And James says, forget smelling it. Let's drink it.
MELBER: So, we know you like to celebrate. That's a real documentary memory.
Give us your take on what America did in this election.
CARVILLE: Well, I mean, it did a really good thing for itself.
By the way, I want people understand, this popular vote margin is going to be somewhere around 5 percent, which is not a squeaker.
And I think the real story is, is that black America in the primaries really put Joe Biden in the driver's seat and delivered again. A lot of other people did, too, but it was a real story here.
And I'm hoping that maybe they will put Jaime Harrison as chairman of the DNC. I think he'd do a really good job. I tell you right now, I think it would be a wise choice.
MELBER: Really interesting that that's where you start, because we have some of these numbers ready.
I mentioned some of these in our weekend coverage. I want to go through them now. I'm particularly interested in what Maya thinks about them, because we have had some of these conversations over the years.
So let me show folks who powered Joe Biden's victory. Trump grew his total support in -- from '16 by eight million, also drew a higher share of wealthy Latino voters, also won outright among men.
It is women of color who powered Biden's margin of victory. We should note and you should know Donald Trump also won decisively among white voters 57-42. A reminder that any room of white registered voters you enter today, tomorrow, the next four years is statistically still full of Trump supporters.
Biden took a key edge among first-time voters by 34 points, who are 13 percent of this new electorate. Women of color and new voters.
Maya, your view on the above? And what does it mean for Joe Biden's agenda that he owes this victory to women of color and new voters?
WILEY: Well, let's start by saying I did drink the champagne. I wasn't waiting for anyone, not you or Brian.
WILEY: And I am wearing my Shirley Chisholm white and my suffragette white. And I just want everyone to know that.
Look, this is, I think -- James is absolutely right. And, as we know, the nation owes a great debt of gratitude to Stacey Abrams and to all the black women who have been powering people to register and to the polls.
We saw it in Alabama with Doug Jones when he won his Senate race. This is not a new trend. It is a continuing and growing trend that has been growing because we have been since 2010 actively having to fight against voter suppression, against blocking the ballot for black people, for Latinos.
I do want to say that we should remember that Biden in 2016 said that the issue was paying more attention to white and working-class voters. And what we heard him do the other night was say, we owe black people. And I think that was not an insignificant shift in recognition about the importance.
Of course, all voters matter. I believe that white working-class men matter, too. But the point is to understand, who are your committed workers, who gets out the vote, and who matters particularly when it's coming down to, from an Electoral College standpoint, not a popular vote standpoint, but an Electoral College standpoint, who gets you over the top? And it's us.
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, we did make some decent gains in some of these rural counties in the Industrial North.
And, by the way, if you live in Georgia, don't break the champagne open yet. Just keep it on ice. We got until January the 5th. So let's -- we got real, real, real work to do down there. And, of course, it's going to be black women that's going to spur a lot of the turnout.
Ms. Abrams is certainly going to be leading the charge there. But we got to get everybody that we can of every reach and everybody to come out and vote. And we have not lost these two Senate seats yet. We have a real shot.
Our mission is not yet accomplished, not at all. But we should be happy about what happened last Tuesday night, but we got real work to do in Georgia, and that's where I'm turning my attention.
MELBER: I hear you on that.
CARVILLE: So, that's my general view of things.
MELBER: You put in a plug for the growing total margin, James.
We will put this up here. Very simple, Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton, doing better than Trump, but even better than Hillary did. And that number is growing as New York comes in.
I'm curious, Maya, what does it mean for Democrats to understand that both things are true? And this is something I have tried to emphasize in our coverage. On the one hand, if you have a big victory that's decisive, you own that. On the other hand, we live in a country with all these myriad of issues
I mean, you started coming on this show because of your background on working on civil rights and police brutality and reform. You're also now running to be the mayor of all New Yorkers, as you emphasized, but these issues predate Trump. They postdate Trump. And the thing that happened from '16 to '20 is more people voted for Trump, not less, and the majority of white people.
How do you deal with both things are true?
WILEY: Yes, you deal with both things are true by ask acknowledging that we are a divided nation, because we never have addressed 400 years of being a country divided along race lines, that has had a racial hierarchy, that has had issues that Donald Trump in some respects in 2016 is a symptom of, not the cause, but the symptom.
We saw rising hate, rising anti-Semitism, rising anti-black violence, Islamophobia. All that hate and misogyny began before the 2016 election and was increasing before the 2016 election. And, as I said, the attack on voting rights became virulent in 2010, as Republicans, instead of trying to earn votes from people of color, started seeing a demographic shift that created a fear that -- where they turned to an old-fashioned tactic of divide, conquer and block the ballot.
And we saw that, and we're still seeing that and we have been fighting against it literally for the last decade.
And, to James' point, I don't want to ignore -- I wasn't breaking out the champagne on Georgia and on the Senate seats.
CARVILLE: Right. I didn't think you were.
WILEY: But -- yes.
WILEY: So, I'm with you, and I will go to Georgia with you.
But the point is that what that -- the Senate represents right now is whether we're going to be able to make some structural changes that we need to make to perfect this union that right now is a disunion.
MELBER: Really all important points all around on this first workday since Donald Trump became the loser of the race and we have a president-elect Biden.
I want to thank Maya Wiley and James Carville. Appreciate seeing both of you.
WILEY: Thank you. Good to see you.
CARVILLE: Thank you. My pleasure.
MELBER: Yes, ma'am. Yes, sir.
We're going to fit in a break.
We have big news, though. We're going to give you the full update on what I mentioned, the COVID vaccine breakthrough, and a fact-check.
Also tonight, you know what it is, the legend Robert De Niro, Oscar winner, Trump critic, on THE BEAT. That's tonight -- when we come back.
MELBER: Turning to another story with some good news in the hunt for a COVID vaccine.
We can now report that a major pharma company, Pfizer, is announcing it passed 90 percent efficacy rates in their vaccine trials. Now it projects they could provide a billion doses of a potentially working COVID vaccine next year.
Now, that's their take, but independent experts are also encouraged. And that's important tonight, Dr. Fauci saying the outlook is extraordinary.
Now, we could stop there. That's the update.
But then there's this difference between science and fiction. Now, Pfizer's an independent company. It did this work on its own. It was not on the list of other companies that formally partnered with the Trump administration for this kind of work.
But Mike Pence tried to get on -- in on it anyway, and say that this was all part of a public-private partnership with Pfizer. The company then felt compelled to publicly fact-check and stiff-arm the vice president, noting it was never part of Trump projects to develop vaccines in Operation Warp Speed. They only cooperated on distributing the drug.
For context, Pfizer's CEO was pushing back on the kinds of strings that might be attached to Trump-era politics in September.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ALBERT BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy. When you get money from someone, that always comes with strings.
I gave them an open checkbook, so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And, also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: President-elect Biden is emphasizing the real work begins now in his appearance today, and a hopeful sign for many people around the world, totally apart from politics., that these trials and these science-led efforts have managed to keep working through whatever noise there was for quite some time.
Now, when we come back, you know how excited we are, Robert De Niro live on THE BEAT next.
MELBER: Welcome back.
We're thrilled to be joined now by someone who literally needs no introduction, legendary actor, director and producer Robert De Niro, to reflect on the loss of a president that he has strongly confronted.
Robert, I want to get right to it. Let's take a look at your straight talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: I'm going to say one thing. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Trump.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DE NIRO: He's so blatantly stupid.
This guy is -- should not be president, period.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN: A lot of criticism of you.
DE NIRO: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) him.
STELTER: OK. Well, this is cable.
DE NIRO: Sorry.
STELTER: So, it's not...
DE NIRO: He's a punk. He's a dog. He's a pig.
He has no idea of what his purpose in life is, as the president, should be.
He's a con, a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) artist, a mutt who doesn't know what he's talking about.
We have a kind of weird, twisted president who thinks he's a gangster, who is a not even a good gangster.
DE NIRO: He's a national disaster. He talks about how he wants to punch people in the face. Well, I'd like to punch him in the face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Robert De Niro joins us on THE BEAT.
Your reaction to this election, sir?
DE NIRO: Well, I'm relieved, very, very relieved.
It's like -- as I keep saying, it's like being in an abusive relationship. We don't know what's going on. Nobody knows from one day to the next. I don't even think he knows what's going on.
And as his niece Mary Trump said, I mean, that's it. He's -- it's -- thank God. That's all. We're past that. We're going to have a lot of other problems. That's normal. You have them, but not when you don't -- when you don't behave within certain parameters, certain rules, then there's no point in having any -- what we have in this country.
And that's what he's capable of, just not respecting anything. And we're going to see now whether he will leave gracefully, which I don't think he will, but I think he will find himself in such a situation that he will have no choice but to leave, but probably say: You know, I had to leave. The rigged -- it's rigged, blah, blah, blah. But I had to leave.
He will find some way to, in his eyes, save face through what he says. But the bottom line is, I'm very relieved that he's not -- and we have a lot to -- because there will be other people like him in the future, maybe not in my lifetime.
But there was an article written in, I think, "The Atlantic" the other day about -- and this is something I always think about -- somebody's going to come along who is a lot smatter, more sensitive, more mercurial, and not so boorish, and will be able to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.
And then we will have a serious -- a more serious, deeper problem, and one that might actually -- that will get further than what Trump has done.
And he's also set an example, unfortunately, to other young people that this kind of thing can be done. And that's why it's so important at this -- after he's out of office, that he is held accountable.
MELBER: You know this expression, Robert, when they say someone's found their voice?
DE NIRO: Yes.
MELBER: What does it tell you, as someone who is such an incredible communicator, that, at this moment of maximum impact and inflection, Donald Trump seems to have completely lost his voice?
DE NIRO: I don't know if he has a voice. I don't know what he has.
I just -- I just don't know. I think there's a screw loose there. And he just -- he is -- he just doesn't get it. If he had done what he should have done for the virus, he could have won this election. I'm not -- I wouldn't be happy about it, but he would have done something right.
He didn't even understand how to do that. It's like the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Certain people only know how to do things with a felonious or felonous intent. And they can't just go from A to B to C to D. They have to go from A to B to G to D to H, whatever.
They don't understand, if you do it right, stay straight, do the right thing, you're going to be -- you will -- that's all you have to do. And he just doesn't understand that. I don't know why.
MELBER: It's funny, because what you're saying is similar to what his former campaign manager Brad Parscale said, according to one of these "Washington Post" postmortems, where they get the really juicy quotes.
They said, they called in March, and said, this whole thing turns on the virus. And if you handle that, you might get reelected, his own people saying that's the path.
And, as you point out, even -- even self-interest, not the better reasons of doing it, to save and protect, which is the obligation of the office...
DE NIRO: Of course.
MELBER: ... he just couldn't do it.
DE NIRO: No, he just couldn't do it. I don't -- that's an easy one. That's an easy one.
I just don't -- there will be many, many diagnoses of his personality and so on and psyche for years to come, generations to come.
I saw a documentary called "Unfit," and these shrinks diagnose him, basically, and say -- there was a thing that -- with Barry Goldwater, I guess they had tried to diagnose him. And there was a law passed are that he shouldn't -- that they can't do that from afar.
But these shrinks said that, no, they can. His behavior and everything they have seen over the years gives them a lot of information that you might not get on a one-on-one. That's -- just because you didn't interact with the patient or the subject doesn't mean that you have more information that way.
So, they basically said...
MELBER: Are you suggesting -- and I don't want to misquote you, Robert, but are you suggesting a sequel to "Analyze This," but with Trump in it?
DE NIRO: Well, no, not really, not quite.
But my point was...
MELBER: No, I was just kidding.
DE NIRO: ... that it's the same playbook -- I know -- that same playbook as Mussolini, as Hitler, as dictators, wannabe dictators.
They have the -- it's the -- what they're going to do for the people, make Germany great again, make Italy great again, make America great again. It's all appealing to the worst prejudices, the worst weaknesses of the public, and instead of leading them and guiding them and being someone that they can look up to.
And when the public is not right public is not right, you have to be there to do the right thing, to set an example for them. And if you don't, then we're going to be where we are today.
But thank God we're out of this. We are going to be into other things. But, with Biden, we're going to get on a good -- he is going to bring us into calm waters. Everybody realized we just kind of get out of this mess, move on, and then we can deal with other things.
And this is a -- I mean, this is a president who's -- he's not accused of as many things as some dictators, but he certainly closed the race by fighting democracy itself.
I want to play a little bit of you...
DE NIRO: Give him another four years. Give him another four years. He will be -- go for a third term, and then he will want -- and he joked about president for life with Xi. And he will do anything.
MELBER: And he told people to vote twice. And he told people -- yes, all of that.
DE NIRO: Oh, he's going to anything, anything.
MELBER: I want to show -- I want to show, before we lose you, because you have been around the contrast of Obama and Biden.
DE NIRO: Yes.
MELBER: You have been celebrated by President Obama.
So, not to embarrass you, but we did want to take a quick look at that. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For over 50 years, Robert De Niro has delivered some of screen's most memorable performances.
His work is legendary for its range and depth. Relentlessly committed to his craft, De Niro embodies his characters, creating rich, nuanced portraits that reflect the heart of the human experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What did that mean to you from President Obama? And what, if anything, are your thoughts on Joe Biden, who was part of that administration and now president-elect?
DE NIRO: Well, I was honored, of course, to be given that, very honored.
And I -- again, Obama was a president who was a -- you knew -- he might not have done all the things right, but you knew his intentions were right. You knew he was honorable. You know he's honorable. He's going to play by the rules and do the right thing.
And that's all you expect from a leader, is to -- at least their intentions are noble. They might make mistakes. And that, I have always felt about him. And Biden will do the same. He will be with Kamala Harris. It's going to be a -- it might even surprise us more, that they will do things that we didn't expect and don't expect, but they could do it.
And it would be a terrific four years, and maybe longer.
MELBER: I want to, before I lose you, play a little bit of some of your iconic scenes. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE NIRO: Look at me. Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Vito Corleone.
DE NIRO: You talking to me? You talking to me?
Listen to me very carefully. There are three ways of doing things around here, the right way, the wrong way, and the way that I do it.
I grew up in a tough neighborhood. And we used to say you can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What do we take from all the tough guys you have played in a country that celebrates toughness, but sometimes maybe gets carried away?
DE NIRO: Wait. Say that question again.
MELBER: I said, what do we take from all the tough guys you have played, and thinking about how this is a country, a culture that celebrates toughness, but sometimes gets carried away with it, if you think about mafia movies?
DE NIRO: Yes, of course.
I mean, I'm an actor. I do those parts. I enjoy them. But I'd like to even think, in some of those -- in all of those parts, there's a certain dignity somewhere buried in there that I don't think a person like Trump -- I know doesn't have. There's no center.
And so you have to have a center, no matter who you are. If you -- it's just -- it's like somebody defying gravity. You can't -- then they will never do -- that's why we have rules. That's why we have laws. That's why we have judges. That's why we have structure. If we don't have that, we have nothing, and we have chaos, we have anarchy.
And we need someone who -- to lead us through, in a kind of a father figurely way or mother figurely way, to bring us through and show that they love us, care about us, and they want our best, they are looking out for us.
It's the total opposite with someone like him. It confounds me how he ever got to be elected, but he did, and things -- crazy things happened.
But we -- that's what we need in a leader, in any leader.
DE NIRO: And that's what we're going to get with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
She's tough. She's tougher. She will do the things that maybe he wouldn't do or can't do, but I'm hoping that she will do them.
MELBER: Robert De Niro, it's really fascinating to hear your take, especially given the way you have been a key figure, really, in the public realm dealing with whatever it is that Donald Trump is.
And, personally -- I'm a journalist, but, personally, I'm just such a huge fan. I really appreciate you coming on.
DE NIRO: I just want -- can I say one -- thank you.
No, I just want to say one more thing. I'm not, like political. But I was so angry and so enraged and confounded that he would actually behave the way he did, and that people bought it.
DE NIRO: I -- now I see many, many, many, many people in the country feel this way.
I'm sad about other people who don't. They have accepted him and would have voted for him, and have voted for him. I don't know -- I don't know why.
DE NIRO: But I -- that's all that it was from the very beginning, just how could this guy behave this way?
MELBER: Yes, understood.
DE NIRO: That's all.
MELBER: I got to fit in a break before Joy Reid.
Robert De Niro, thank you so much, sir.
DE NIRO: Thank you.
MELBER: Thank you.
We will be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.END
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