Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 2/8/21 (2024)

Summary: Donald Trump goes on trial tomorrow. Democrats say that Trump did worst "constitutional crime ever". Fox cancelled its highest rated business show after election controversy.

Transcript: ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much.

I am Ari Melber. Welcome to THE BEAT.

On the eve of Donald Trump`s second impeachment trial, with the final clashes between House managers and Trump`s defense lawyers who argue in their final brief that all of this really just boils down to a, quote, selfish move by Democrats to foment political theater. Those Democratic managers, though, were seen leaving Speaker Pelosi`s office today. A solemn strategy session as they have been planning their case.

Their case is that this trial seeks accountability for what they call the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president. That`s a major claim, arguing that Trump`s encouragement of the January 6th insurrection is worse than any act by, say, Richard Nixon, who was of course run out of office under the threat of impeachment and a likely Senate conviction.

It`s also an argument that means it would be worse than offenses by President Johnson, who still holds the record for getting impeached on 11 articles total. That is a lot. Donald Trump now has been impeached twice for a combined total of three articles. President Biden says this trial is needed for accountability but he also says he will defer to how the Senate works out any details and his team is echoing that distinction.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He got an offer to come and testify. He`s decided not to. We`ll let the Senate work that out.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He will not spend too much time watching the proceedings, if any time, over the course of this week. He will leave the pace and the process and the mechanics of the impeachment proceedings up to members of Congress.


MELBER: Now, the beginning of a case can also include the most technical parts. That`s when courts sometimes consider whether they even have the authority to hear a certain case and whether there are often attacks on procedure.

Now, tomorrow`s really no different. The trial will start with up to four hours of debate on whether the Senate has the authority to try an ex- president with a vote on that point. And then the Senate turns to the merits of whether Donald Trump committed the high crime of insurrection while trying to hold power and steal an election.

Now, by the Democrats` own arguments it`s a more serious charge than Trump`s last impeachment over a bungled plot to attack the Bidens. And yet while Democrats said witnesses were essential to a full trial last time, now some Democrats are already claiming that no witnesses are needed at all, citing how the attack was on their workplace itself, that they are also witnesses.

As a legal argument let me give it to you straight, that is a stretch. If witnesses were so vital to the facts last time, as they are in most standard trials, they would be important here too. And the difference may not be about a fair trial at all but rather that some Democrats may want to prevent a lengthy trial that would compete with Biden`s opening agenda. And scheduling and politics are just not valid reasons to shortchange fact finding and what they also say is the most grievous presidential crime ever.

And that brings us to a tension running through these proceedings. Get ready for it this week. The heat is definitely and certifiably on Donald Trump and any Republican defenders who would minimize this very organized attack that left five dead. But the Senate itself will also be scrutinized for who is taking this seriously and completely apolitically given the stakes of what we`ve all been living through.

We turn now to our experts. Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor, and Juanita Tolliver, political director with Supermajority.

Joyce, your thoughts on what a fair, independent, and apolitical constitutional trial should entail.

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s tough to get an apolitical impeachment trial in the Senate because as you`ve noted, Ari, it`s ultimately a political creature. This is very different from a trial we`d see in a criminal court where there would be a lot of due process guarantees and traditional formalistic guarantees, rules of evidence, rules protecting a defendant.

The best that we can hope for in the senate, because the rules are in fact whatever a majority of the senators say they are, is that we will see a process that permits the evidence to be fully laid out so that the American people who are really a secondary jury riding along the Senate here, so that there can be a chance to learn the truth and have accountability if not in this Senate courtroom then down the road in the ballot box.

MELBER: Right.

And, Juanita, as Joyce says, that those rules really do go wherever the Senate takes them. I don`t know if Joyce was being deliberate or not, but it has a little bit of a flavor of Eminem on the rules. I am whatever you say I am and if I wasn`t why would I say I am.

And these rules are whatever the Senate decides. Which may be why we`re seeing some shifts on whether the rules should have witnesses or not.

Joyce, I`m curious what you think about the stakes of this because -- again, I`ve given plenty of time here and scrutiny to the alleged crimes here facing the ex-president. But in addition, if the Democrats are to be taken at their word and the country`s watching and this is the most grievous crime in all of American history, then certainly that`s more important than any scheduling about whether Democrats also feel that it distracts from what Joe Biden`s doing legislatively.

VANCE: Well, that`s right. And Democrats have to deal with this conundrum between their political needs and their political goals and really the imperative of laying out the truth and finding accountability in the impeachment trial. So, you say, Ari, and I think correctly so, that this is a challenge for the Democrats, lots of challenges to come in the week ahead for the Republicans. But the Democrats too will face a test of will here. And that test will be very simply whether they`re going to permit the evidence to come out.

There are a lot of interesting tidbits here. For instance, the fact that Senator Sasse has said that former President Trump was delighted when he saw the rioters overtaking the capitol. I don`t see how we can have a fulsome trial without hearing testimony about that comment and learning the full truth in that regard.

MELBER: Juanita?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think Joyce hit the nail on the head as far as making sure the evidence is presented. And I do want to note that House impeachment managers have left it open about calling witnesses. That hasn`t been fully decided yet. And in addition to hearing from the senators and members of Congress who were in the building that day I also want to hear from capitol police officers who risked their lives, who were overrun by these insurrectionists, these white supremacists who attacked the building.

I also want to hear from staffers who had to hide in fear for their lives and custodial team members who had to clean up this mess and who witnessed the damage firsthand and also, again, feared for their lives. People need to be heard here. And if the audience is not only the Senate who are serving as jurors in this impeachment trial but also the American public, lay it out plain.

Ari, you heard me say this time and time again. Senate Democrats need to act accordingly. Set the tone. Set the structure here. And so if that tone is about getting to the truth, if that tone is holding Trump accountable, make sure that you are doing that and showing every piece of evidence that the American public needs to know that they may not already know.

We heard from Representative Schiff even earlier this -- or last week that there are some things that the American public just doesn`t know yet. And so, that all needs to be laid out.

MELBER: Juanita, on that point of what needs to be laid out for accountability, I want to play a little bit from Liz Cheney speaking out on what was her rare vote, and the only member of Republican leadership, saying that Trump actually should be convicted, that she would hope that he`s not a leader in the party anymore. Take a look.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The single greatest threat to our republic is a president who would put his own self-interest above the Constitution, somebody who has provoked an attack on the United States Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral votes, which resulted in five people dying, who refused to stand up immediately when he was asked and stop the violence. That is a person who does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward. We should not be embracing the former president.


MELBER: Juanita, what I think striking there, and I`d love your view as someone who`s been one of our experts of course on Washington through the last four years in the Trump era, is there are many things that many people criticize Donald Trump for that Liz Cheney agrees with. So this is for her not one more thing she`s against. You could look at the size of federal government or civil rights policy or a bunch of other important areas where she was mostly fine with him and his judges and the rest.

What was her breaking point as you heard there, and she is standing by it, is that we don`t have a democracy if we allow and do not stand up and sanction dictatorial behavior. Again, I just played it you about when she says it, someone who provokes an attack to prevent the counting of the votes. I mean, she`s reminding Republicans this isn`t R versus D, this is whether we count votes and honor elections or not -- Juanita.

TOLLIVER: And I think -- I think that goes back to the point you made about House managers calling this the most egregious acts committed by a president. Trump laid a foundation to call into question the election process, then challenged the results, said that he would not surrender.

If we don`t stand up to this, then what is the next person going to do? If we don`t stand up to this and Trump isn`t convicted and prevented from running again, what damage will he commit again? Right?

Like the track record is there. And some can argue runs back weeks, months and potentially years before this insurrection. And so all of that needs to be brought forward by the House impeachment managers to highlight the impact that this trial is going to have not only on the history for our country but democracy globally.

MELBER: Yeah. And, Joyce, my last question for you is for a lot of our viewers, we`re going to tune into this. We lived through an impeachment trial before. We discussed the differences with this one. You know, the Super Bowl, you can experience it but if you get the pregame and the post- game show, it helps you have even more context. You know? Why does Tom Brady look so young? You wouldn`t know unless you hear all the extra color analysis.

So what tips can you give us -- at least I learned some stuff last night about whatever. So what tips can you give us, Joyce, as we go into tomorrow? Which I caution people the first four hours may be the most dry, because it won`t really be about January 6th. So what tips do you have as we watch tomorrow?

VANCE: A lot of what we see tomorrow is going to be a lot of learning the rules of the road for. Remember, there`s no set rules of criminal procedure that apply here, it`s whatever the Senate says. So, tomorrow, I expect we`ll learn will there be witnesses. We heard Chuck Schumer talk today about allowing possibility of some time for deliberation before there`s a vote.

That will be very telling for how seriously Democrats assess their chances and whether they believe there`s some outside chance that they can muster the 67 votes needed to convict here.

MELBER: Joyce Vance and Juanita Tolliver kicking us off here on the eve of this trial. Thanks to both of you.

We have our shortest break, 30 seconds, and a lot more news tonight as a rioter admits they stormed the capitol because of Trump`s directions. Neal Katyal`s here later.

Also, new shake-ups for right-wing media including promoting the big lie at the center of the insurrection. We have that story with a Lou Dobbs update.

And later tonight, Snoop Dogg makes his debut on THE BEAT talking Biden, Black Lives Matter and more.

We`ll be back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: As Congress considers the very real world damage of election lies, one of the most vocal mouthpieces for Donald Trump and his election conspiracies, Lou Dobbs, just saw his show canceled.

Now, this story matters far beyond media. Dobbs actually had the highest- rated show on Fox`s Business Channel. He wasn`t planning to leave. Indeed, the move was so abrupt neither he nor his staff showed any awareness that Thursday was his last show. This news broke going into the weekend.

Dobbs went even farther than many Trump loyalists on TV, pushing lies that suggested Donald Trump didn`t lose the election and Dobbs brought legal exposure on himself and Fox by pushing Trump-Giuliani attacks on a company that provides regular voting software, Smartmatic.


LOU DOBBS, FORMER FOX BUSINESS NEWS HOST: The president doesn`t want a statue erected to him. What he wants is a free and fair election and honest results. And it`s being denied to him.

There are lots of opinions about the integrity of the election, the irregularities of mail-in voting, of election voting machines and voting software. One of the companies is Smartmatic.


MELBER: It went on like that. And the right to free speech means you can actually say an awful lot without the government censoring you. Free speech does not mean that there is no possible cost for libeling or defaming people.

And Dobbs was recently named in a multibillion-dollar defamation suit brought by that voting company against Fox. Two other hosts are also named. They`re still on the air.

Now, some Dobbs critics see this as a method of lawful accountability. Fox is saying this is all part of a broader programming shake-up. There are also reports that Fox may have soured on Dobbs even before this lawsuit. He does have a long-running flair for echoing extreme falsehoods and conspiracies. There`s nothing new about that.


DOBBS: This is a war. This is a battle for the control of our government.

There are reasons and other grounds for suspicion that left-wing agitators were in the mob and may have played some role.

Mitch McConnell, he has a special place reserved for him somewhere for his absolute ignorance and his betrayal of the president.

President Trump saying he would like to name that party if he indeed does create it the Patriot Party. Now, personally I think that`s got a great ring to it.


MELBER: Joining me now is "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg.

Thanks for being here.


MELBER: Lou Dobbs has a long, long history. I emphasize this is not just a story about media because it relates to so many other bigger important real-world events. Your thoughts on what it means even given the caveat I mentioned, that the reporting is still mixed on how big a role the lawsuit played, but the notion that even over there, there might be a ceiling these days.

GOLDBERG: I think you`ve seen this with other right-wing media companies as well. I mean, you saw a whole bunch of far right companies fold immediately when Dominion launched its lawsuit. You know, just these abject total apologies, you know, and acknowledgment that what they said was completely indefensible.

I don`t think we know if that`s what`s going on at Fox. I mean, there are sort of mixed messages because on the one hand they`ve jettisoned Lou Dobbs but they have promoted Maria Bartiromo and other kind of shameless conspiracy theorists. So it`s not as if Fox News is now going to become an honest and responsible news organization.

But I do think the rapidity with which you see right-wing media outlets faced with these lawsuits, the fact they don`t even try to launch a defense, they simply buckle, because there is no defense, because this wasn`t -- you know, these weren`t distortioned. These weren`t shadings of facts. These were out and out naked fabrications.

MELBER: Yeah, and as you say, fabrications about things that matter. There`s been so much discussion about the former president and what he did. But what it also showed and revealed was how many other traditions and norms were ready to be exploded. There was a time when very, quote/unquote, opinionated media in this company, you can go pre-TV or the recent era, still had norms about, yeah, but when the election call comes in that`s a real thing.

That was certainly the case in 2000 where notwithstanding other controversies I would say everyone was more responsible including many on Fox than this time. Take a look at Lou Dobbs saying there will not be a quiet surrender if he didn`t get what he and Trump wanted on the election.


DOBBS: This is fraud.

I don`t know whether he`s a dullard, a fool or a liar. But the attorney general of this country is not enforcing the law. And I don`t know what he thinks he`s presiding over, but it will not -- I guarantee William Barr this -- it will not be a quiet surrender of this constitutional republic.


MELBER: Your view of however normalized that has become, what kind of breach that is to have people who at least claim to be somehow a part of the so-called fourth estate talking about observing elections as if that is a surrender. I mean, that`s some of the language that fomented and surrounded the insurrection.

GOLDBERG: Look, I don`t think that we should have any nostalgia for a time when Fox News was an honest and decent news organization. You know, if you lived through the Clinton scandals, if you lived through their innuendos about Bill and Hillary Clinton murdering Vince Foster, then, you know, I don`t think that what we really have is a -- it`s maybe a difference in degree but not a difference in kind. And a really telling --


MELBER: Did I sound too nostalgic? You know, I get emotional, Michelle.

GOLDBERG: Well, you know, I do think that there`s always a tendency to look around and say oh, well, a previous generation of conservatives didn`t even go this far. And it`s true. They didn`t. But they laid the groundwork for it, right? They laid the groundwork for this constant escalation.

And I think that what we`ve seen after the election is that Fox News, again, they might have had reason to jettison Lou Dobbs, but they also responded to the election, or at least followed the election by purging a bunch of their best journalists, including the one who called Arizona correctly for Joe Biden.

MELBER: Yeah, great point.

GOLDBERG: And so I don`t think we should be expecting Fox News to change direction.

MELBER: Well, you know what happened, Michelle, and this has happened before. You made a better nuanced point than me and now I`m going to just follow your point. That`s why we read you.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

MELBER: And in particular your reminding everyone it was Chris Stirewalt, I want to say, who made an accurate call about Arizona and then was soon canned.

GOLDBERG: Yeah. And I think, again, I think that the post-Trump Republican Party and the post-Trump media-verse is just going to get worse and worse.

MELBER: Yeah. Michelle Goldberg with the insights. Thank you as always.

Let me tell everyone what`s coming up. We`re excited that the one and only Snoop Dogg is here later tonight. We`re going to bet into why he says he did something for Biden he`s never done for any other politician.

Also inside Donald Trump`s defense. What are they going to say about the damning video evidence?

But up next, Neal Katyal is live here on impeachment eve, when we come back.


MELBER: We`re back now with Neal Katyal, the former acting U.S. solicitor general. This is a special impeachment edition of our "Opening Arguments" series.

And, Neal, take a listen to what one of Trump`s new impeachment lawyers is saying.


BRUCE CASTOR, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT DEFENSE ATTORNEY: By the House impeachment resolution logic, they can go back and impeach Abraham Lincoln because they could impeach Donald Trump if he was dead because he`s not in office. They could impeach Abraham Lincoln because he`s also not in office.



NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, Donald Trump has made a lot of stupid legal arguments over the years, but, Ari, this one I think takes the cake for being the most stupid.

The Constitution`s text has two punishments in it -- removal from office and disqualification from office holding, a lifetime ban. Now, I`m not sure who needs to know this, but you can`t remove a dead person and you can`t give a dead person a lifetime ban.

You know, as the bard says, his head is now in a basket. Would you like to take it out and ask it? Do whatever you want, I`m super dead.

Lincoln`s super dead. You`re not going to impeach Lincoln. But you absolutely can impeach Donald Trump. That`s part of the text of the Constitution.

MELBER: We really love a Lin-Manuel Miranda super dead reference around here, with respect to all deceased Founding Fathers wherever they may be.

So you point out this is relatively empty, not only in the -- when we talk about legal logic, sometimes that involves nuances, precedent upon precedent. The way words and meanings might evolve. This is just, as you just taught us, basic logic. So when we get to the rest of tomorrow, which will be the kickoff, it will be a reminder. I mean, we`re all in this. We`re steeped in this.

But Joyce and I were discussing this earlier in the program. For many Americans they`ll turn on a range of channels and find oh, god, there`s a trial again just like there was last time. What do you think is important to understand about that -- tomorrow`s arguments on procedure?

KATYAL: Well, I think tomorrow`s arguments will be procedural and dry, but basically what it is is the Republicans saying they`re trying to find this procedural objection to impeachment, that you can`t impeach a former president. And what it is is it`s a dodge, Ari, around having to vote. And they just don`t want to have to cast a vote for or against whether Trump did it or not.

And there are all sorts of ways to deal with that including special verdict forms so that the Senate is asked two questions. Is it okay to impeach a former president? And then second question, separate, make all 100 ask and answer the question, assume it`s okay to impeach a former president, did Trump do it on January 6th? Make them answer that question.

MELBER: Yeah. Well put.

We`ve talked about the contrast from other impeachments, including the last one involving Trump. A major legal contrast that I think is bad for Trump is how many other related criminal cases are proceeding right now. I`m going to read for one person indicted in their role in the insurrection. They say that they concede they were on the capitol grounds to protest along with thousands of others. But their defense is that they were following the directions of then President Trump, the country`s chief law enforcement officer, to march to the capitol.

Notwithstanding the more local question of how that may or may not help that person, is it good or bad for Donald Trump as a defendant that a bunch of other people under pressure point the finger back at him for saying yeah, whatever we did we did because of him?

KATYAL: Ari, you`re absolutely right. It`s very bad for Donald Trump. Remember, these are Trump`s own people, his supporters.

It`s backed up by all sorts of stuff on video and the like. Trump invited us here. He told us to be here. And the link between Trump and the January 6th events are really hard to dispute. And the rioters are going into court and literally testifying that Trump made them do it.

So I don`t even think a QAnon conspiracy can work its way out of that one. And that`s what makes it, Ari, as you were saying different than Ukraine. This impeachment is kinetic and backed by video evidence.

And, Ari, in honor of your latest guest joining us, the problem for Trump was put very well by Snoop. He said all these Trump votes basically are, quote, trying to make their paper, trying to do their thing. But to us, they`re all trying to say the same thing, and that`s it.

The Trump supporters are echoing what the House managers are saying in the impeachment thing, which makes it very difficult.

MELBER: First of all, I love it. You`re on a roll. You get bonus points.

And while Snoop has been all over the world and he`s got his Martha Stewart thing, I don`t know that he`s ever had a shout out from a solicitor general.

So, Neal Katyal, thank you.

And on that note I want to remind everyone, we archive these because we think they have long-term utility. You can always go to to hear tonight`s and other breakdowns from Neal.

Now, coming up later I want to tell you that as you know from all of our excitement around here, Snoop Dogg will make his BEAT debut including why he backed Biden and made a whole album calling out racism and Trumpism. That`s later.

Up next, we have what we think you may need to know when debating this impeachment trial and accountability with a legal fact check and new evidence that Democrats say strengthens the case they begin tomorrow.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: The Senate impeachment trial starts tomorrow. We have heard from impeachment managers and many people directly impacted by the violence at the Capitol on January 6. You can`t fully understand any trial without hearing from both sides.

And now we turn to a Trump advisor who is standing by the former president. Attorney Boris Epshteyn is a veteran of the Trump campaigns and Trump White House.

Boris, we had you on last month, we talked procedure and precedent. Tonight, we`re focusing on the merits of the case and the facts. I`m going to hold you to that.

So let`s get right into the evidence against former President Trump, which includes delaying the National Guard on that fateful day, upraising the riders at the Capitol during the insurrection is special, even after their crimes Republican on tape. What is the response to that? And was Donald Trump wrong to embrace many of those now indicted individuals as very special?


And I just want to point out that Professor Katyal was my professor in law school at Georgetown. We disagree on almost everything politically, but still good to follow him on your program.

In terms of what you laid out there, in terms of the National Guard, you have to go and look at the facts in terms of what the Acting Secretary of Defense has said, what people from the hill have said. And that any delay there had nothing to do with President Trump whatsoever.

In terms of his words that you laid out there, President Trump specifically said go home and peace in the Twitter video, which I believe you`re referencing the video that was put out on Twitter and other channels when taken down by Twitter, unfortunately. He specifically said, go home and peace.

And then if you look at the speech on January 6, the president again, we talked about this last time I was on your program, said, march to the Capitol peacefully and patriotically. And that`s a direct quote.

MELBER: Let`s get into that. But I didn`t get a full answer on very special. Was he right or wrong to call those indicted rioters very special?

EPSHTEYN: President Trump at that time and now has the full authority as an American as the president to decide how he refers to people. He specifically condemn violence, specifically said to go home in peace. So he had no way --

MELBER: Yes, I heard that part. I heard that part, but let`s just be real. Let you know we keep it real here, Boris.

It was seen, it was seen as an embrace. So we saw that all play out on camera and then he embraced them by saying they`re very special.

And before we move on to the other part, I just want to get you on the record, to you and he think that that holds up, that they were very special, that they should be embraced that way.

EPSHTEYN: I condemn any violence on that day. I condemn any violence now. And President Trump has done the same.

MELBER: All right. Now moving forward, you mentioned the remarks. One of the biggest problems for Donald Trump at the trial starting tomorrow and the people like yourself making these arguments is that he has a long public history of advocating and fomenting violence.

You mentioned that in the speech on January 6, he mentioned also doing so peacefully. So let`s take a look at and you`ll get a chance to respond. But for the evidence, some of what he said in the past, what he said on January 6, including the peaceful reference and what else he said that seemed like such an embrace of ongoing criminal conduct, take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Knock the crap out. Would you? Seriously.

I will pay for the legal fees, I promise.

Peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.

We fight like hell. And if you don`t fight like hell, you`re not going to have a country anymore.

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP`S LAWYER: Let`s have trial by combat.

TRUMP: Get him out of here. Throw them out.

Like to punch him in the face, I`ll tell you.

We love you. You`re very special.


MELBER: What is the response to the defense to the fact that so many people haven`t heard Donald Trump talk that way for so long when and acted on it?

EPSHTEYN: Well, or I think that montage, you know, was misleading. And I`ll tell you why. First of all, a lot of the words you are using they`re out of President Trump are from five, even six years ago, which suggests that there has not been any recent conduct that you could point to, which is in the arena that you`re referencing.

Now, this article of impeachment is --

MELBER: I`m going to briefly respond, and then I`m going to let you finish. I`m going to briefly respond and let you finish.

Boris, when we show video of just Donald Trump talking, and you respond by saying it`s misleading, it almost sounds like you`re impugning your own client or representative. Everything we showed is what he publicly said. Some of it, as I mentioned, was previous because people heard him talk of violence for so long. And some of it was on January 6.

Go ahead.

EPSHTEYN: I`m not impugning. President Trump is not my client. I`m a supporter of the president. Had been a supporter of his. I`ve worked for him. He`s not my client.

I`m an attorney. So it`s important to point that out.

What I`m saying is you`re going back to 2015, 2016, which has absolutely nothing to do with the current article of impeachment, one. And two, which -- these comments were done and said largely in jest.

And as you actually pointed out in the previous program I was on, the Democrats have a big problem on this, because you`ve had Democrats talk about violence, including the new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, including Maxine Waters, including Nancy Pelosi. So, if you`re to judge --

MELBER: Well, you`re here --


MELBER: As an attorney, though, I`m going to jump in and let you finish, I just have to do the rules of the road (ph). As an attorney, you know, that if you get up in court and say, well, this person may have done it, but somebody else also did something else, that gets you nowhere.

So, Chuck Schumer is not on trial tomorrow.

EPSHTEYN: This is both a legal and a political process, right? So, what I`m pointing to is, the politicians who are sitting as the jury in the Senate are looking at this. They have to look at themselves and what have I ever used language, including how to go out there fight. And most of them will have to say, yes.

So, the point here is this, President Trump in no way incited violence on January 6. That is the question here and this sham of an impeachment trial --


EPSHTEYN: -- which I continue to believe is unconstitutional. And it seems that even the Democrats believe that are much to go on here, which is why they`re likely will not be witnesses, and the whole thing will be over in about a week.

MELBER: I think the question about witnesses is fair, indeed. You may have seen we raised that on the program earlier tonight.

You said you didn`t want to just look at Donald Trump`s long standing history on these words. Well, let`s look at something that relates to Republicans and his own aides on that day, what one Republican senator described as Donald Trump being delighted by what we saw, which again, you said earlier tonight, you`re not delighted by it. You said you condemn it. Five people died.

Here`s Senator Sasse. Take a listen.


SEN. BEN SASSE, (R) NEBRASKA: As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren`t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.


SASSE: That was happening. He was delighted.


EPSHTEYN: Ben Sasse has more --

MELBER: Boris, your response. I hope -- Well, let me get the question out and you get the time.

What is your response? I would hope you would agree that that is a very disturbing and incriminating rendition that someone would be delighted about that unfolding.

EPSHTEYN: I think Senator Sasse has absolutely no basis in saying that. And we know Senator Sasse has been a longtime critic of President Trump. He`s one of five Republican senators to flip and vote against this missing, this shadow of impeachment, 45 Republican senators voted to dismiss including the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

So I don`t put a lot of stock into the words of Senator Sasse. But I do put a lot of stock in is the fact that President Trump released that video saying go home and peace. He tweeted urging for peace and to end violence. And he continues to advocate against any violence whatsoever and for a peaceful resolution to any and all claims and problems one may have.

And again, I tweeted on that day condemning violence, and I continue to condemn violence. But I disagree with that characterization from Senator Sasse who is a never Trumper and a critic of the president.

MELBER: Right. Well, the issue is not what he thinks but whether what he said is true. You`re lodging an objection, which is important for the public record.

I said you`d get your time and you do, Boris Epshteyn. Thanks for coming on The Beat, sir.

EPSHTEYN: Thank you so much, Ari. Have a great night.

MELBER: Absolutely. Appreciate it.

Now up next, we are turning from the Trump defender. You just heard one of Donald Trump`s fiercest critics, a music and entertainment legend, The Beat will welcome Snoop Dogg. Yes, Snoop D-O double G. We`re going to get into the politics why he says he did something for Joe Biden he`s never done for any other politician and a whole lot more.

Snoop Dogg is here. And we`ll get into all of it when we come back on The Beat.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are back. And sitting here is Snoop Dogg, everybody.


Good morning ladies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Snoop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: International icon, here is Snoop Dogg.


MELBER: Yes, Snoop Dogg became an icon the old fashioned way with decades of work from his `94 debut in hip hop to expanding into hits in several genres into T.V. and film and his own business ventures.

Plus, what you see here dabbling in some politics. He was with recent Biden appointee John Kerry in the Obama era. And incredible journey from his tough persona as a young West Coast star. The inspiring and lovable father figures so many know today.


SNOOP DOGG, AMERICAN RAPPER: Wait, wait. The East Coast on love Dr. Dre (ph) and Snoop Dogg.

The East Coast say got no love Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Being incarcerated to being, you know, wrongfully, you know, given time for something that I did. And now I feel like I have a voice. It`s my job to bring some awareness.

All you want to take, this is easy and all the --

MARTHA STEWART: Yes, this is easy.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, THE VIEW CO-HOST: Did you ever think to yourself my God, at some point I could become an icon.

DOGG: Never. Never.


MELBER: And joining me now is the one and only Snoop Dogg. Snoop Doggy dog, the dog father, thank you for being here, sir.

DOGG: Man, thank you for having me, brother. It`s my pleasure. My tree.

MELBER: Absolutely. I saw you said you voted for the first time in your life this past November. Why was it important for you to tell people basically it`s never too late to get more involved?

DOGG: Well, the voting side of it was for many years, I thought I couldn`t vote because I had a criminal record. And they always determine us by, you know, making us feel like you know, if you got a criminal record, you can`t vote.

When I found out I could, I didn`t want to be a hypocrite as far as just telling people, hey, go vote, go vote, you should vote, you should vote without doing it myself. I wanted to be, you know, one of those stand up kind of guys that does it, did it. And if I`m asking you to do it, it`s because I`ve done it as well.

MELBER: Yes. And you and you`ve been speaking out in all sorts of ways just as someone who studies communication and rhetoric, you motivate people. People notice when Snoop says something. And when you dabbled in taking on Trump, people notice.

Then you did a whole project make America Crip Again. What does that mean to you?

DOGG: It was just -- that was sarcasm. You know what I`m saying? I was basically trying to answer the red with the blue and put some, you know, some love back into the world because I felt like we was headed towards a lot of violence and negativity with that as the backdrop. So I wanted to ask them what a backdrop that could be for those who wasn`t about going back to the old ways of American, putting slavery first and making black people less than others.

And, you know, if you wasn`t white America, you wasn`t right America. There`s a lot of mixed relationships. There`s a lot of people who work together, love each other, who, you know, can`t live without each other.

And in about what color they are, what their race or religion is, it`s about the spirit of who that person is. And, you know, once you start looking at that, you can`t really go that far back and try to recreate some things that was not in the advantage of people like myself.

MELBER: Isn`t that wild, Snoop, because you`ve led on this. I`m thinking about Nipsey. I`m thinking about YG. I`m thinking about so many artists who what you just said hip hop went global, because it was diverse and embraces diversity. What is it important for you that people understand about that and that diversity?

DOGG: I think they get it because hip hop used to be a bad thing, used to be a taboo, like, parents they don`t like their kids to listen to it. We couldn`t get on the radio, and they censored our music. They wouldn`t let us in stores. They banned artists. They locked us up. They persecuted us.

Now hip hop is America`s favorite now with the most attractive thing about America. Go outside of America next, people who not from here, what do you love most about America? And I`m going to say, is either a rapper, somebody in hip hop or something that has something to do with the culture that we built.


DOGG: They`re American, none of that. I`m just telling the perspective of people outside of here, because they realize and they love the fact that we`ve created a culture. That`s for everybody.

Hip Hop has never been racist. Hip hop is for everybody. The minute a white rapper walked in, we accepted them. When an Asian right walked in we accepted them. Latino, accepted, African accepted, Colombian accepted. No matter what country you from, we accepted.

Just think about that. Think of how generous the hip hop culture has been when it was started by some black men that were playing records.

MELBER: I love you saying that. It reminds me something Gil Scott-Heron said that, in many ways black Americans, he felt were the, "most American," because they had to go through the entire experience of revolution, of fighting for voting rights, of fighting for civil rights and not taking that for granted.

Black Lives Matter, you spoken out publicly, it`s in your music, it`s in your platform, speaking on the NFL, Breonna Taylor. Clearly for some people 2020 was a time to learn and that could be positive if more people come in the door to some of these issues. What do you think is important here with a new administration, and perhaps hopefully, some interest in progress in these years ahead now?

DOGG: Well, the thing about the new administration is just what America is, it`s black and white. So, you get a chance to see it all. And then you got a black woman, you know?

So, I just feel like the world changes for a reason, you know? They let us play with Obama format (ph) and make the black people feel like we was really doing some with him in office. And they came back and played their game with Donald Trump.

And now it`s like, OK, well, we have what it right now. We got a man that`s been in with Obama. You got a woman as, you know, black. So are we getting the same thing, are we getting a new thing, are we getting something better?

Today, I like to say is that in politics, I never understood how they could never come together. Like, after somebody wins, all right, let`s all become one. Let`s not be Republican, Democrat. This is like -- they fight all the way just even winning (ph), they just fight fighting, they stay to their political side instead of for what`s right.

They fight for the political side, instead of the right side. Politics should be based on right and wrong, not party wise and you know, I`m connected to this person, and I got to be loyal to him. You got to be loyal to what`s right and what`s wrong.

MELBER: I did want to ask you, if Tupac were alive today, what do you think he might be doing? Would he be in business? Would he be in government? Because he had so many sides and you work up close with him? And I`m just curious.

DOGG: Well, there`s many sides of Tupac. He was a soldier. He was a friend, a comedian, a compassionate writer, a voice for the voiceless. So, it`s hard to say what he`d be doing. But I know a lot of the things that I`m doing, he definitely would be doing times two.

And there`s some things that he probably will be doing it I`m not doing, you know, because he was real into politics as far as knowing him, you know, to understand the politics. He was raised by the Black Panther. So he was really raised off of how the government can really do you bad.

The government broke up the Black Panthers, specifically, Edgar Hoover, I believe that was his name. And Ronald Reagan, they broke up the Black Panther. It`s an organization that was designed to help black people to power, to give our kids hope and really restore unity in our community.

So that just shows you that if Tupac was here, by him knowing that and understanding the dynamics by his mother being in the Panthers, he probably be in the black militia right now. I`ll just leave it like that.

If he won`t pay, just lock him up.

MELBER: A lot of people know, you will remember of course, the "Gin and Juice" you said you got your serums gin, everybody got their cups but they chipped in. That`s changing because now you got Indigo gin, that`s your own gin. Tell me about that.

And I got to ask you, are people chipping in now?

DOGG: Well, Indigo is a gin right here that we created. You see the bottle was perfectly put together with that purple passion, you know, like a light of thing. You know what I`m saying? I`m wanting to make the color was right, the taste was right, the lip was right. So we brought in the best people to actually put together the best tasting gin that I love first and foremost.

I had to love it first. And once I fell in love with it, we put a marketing team together in this aisle right now and it`s doing very well. Every market that we put it in is flying off the shelves.

MELBER: There you go, Snoop Dogg. Thank you very much. We covered a lot of ground. Congratulations on what you`re doing. And it`s your debut on The Beat. I hope you come back, sir.

DOGG: We`ll be back, baby.


MELBER: So what`s going to happen tomorrow? Well, we can`t tell you what the trial of Donald Trump will entail. But we can tell you what it`s going to look like.

As we`ve been reporting tonight, all eyes will be on the Senate where it will be gaveled into order, where there will be at least, we believe, up to four hours of debate on constitutional questions on whether the Senate can do a trial like this for our next president. And we will have you covered here on MSNBC.

Brian Williams, Nicole Wallace, myself and our whole Capitol Hill team will be covering it gavel to gavel starting tomorrow and through the week whenever the trials going. So I wanted to give you that update from here, from us here on The Beat, of course.

I also want to mention that we really enjoyed having Snoop Dogg on the show tonight, including Neal Katyal, shout out to him.

And there`s even more. We`re going to post tonight this full interview with Snoop. Some of what you just heard him reflecting on why he did something for Biden he`s never done for any other president, his thoughts on Harris.

But also some other things that we didn`t have time to air, go on YouTube search for Melber Snoop. And yes, I like saying that, but if you search for Melber Snoop, you should find the full longer interview.

You can always find me as well on social media at RML. We`re on Twitter, IG, and Facebook. But we will also post a link to the longer. So, however you like to search, we can help you find it.

Thanks for watching The Beat. "The ReidOut" starts now.


Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 2/8/21 (2024)
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