Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/17/22 (2024)

Table of Contents
Summary Transcript


First polls closing in Kentucky, while still open in Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania for primary elections ahead of November`s midterm elections. Republicans on edge because of far-right candidates on the ballot in multiple states. Former Federal Prosecutor Joyce Vance joins THE BEAT with Ari Melber to talk about the report that the DOJ could use January 6 transcripts as evidence in potential criminal cases. Helene Cooper joins THE BEAT with Ari Melber to talk about the Congress holding the first UFO hearing for the first time in more than 50 years.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Congratulations. Did you feel it or was it all in the ballpark, was it accurate?

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Oh, my god. So I love her. I mean, I`m like, I`m a groupie. I was getting my COVID once and she was out there. I called everyone that I`ve ever known and told them. But no, I`m deeply flattered. Deeply flattered. And the most I know about the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial I know from the "SNL" cold open Saturday night.

MELBER: All right. Well, now we know. And people -- somebody thinks everybody is coordinating. "SNL" is in the building but at least on our side I`ve never known in advance who they`re impersonating. I doubt you had any idea it was coming.

WALLACE: I had no idea. I saw it on social media and quickly turned it on. Caught it.

MELBER: Awesome. Well, we hope next time it will be an even longer version of you but a tip of the hat.

WALLACE: No, no, not necessarily. Yes. Thank you so much. It`s so nice, Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: All right. See you, Nicolle.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber, and as mentioned there are serious stuff in the world as well as of course a little fun with Nicolle. But the big news coming out of DOJ right now formally requesting evidence and transcripts from the January 6th Committee. That is a clear sign that the criminal probe of the insurrection is intensifying, linking with some of the leads in Congress. We`ll bring that to you tonight.

Also, Tucker Carlson dodging and weaving accountability after, well, a mass shooter cited the same thing that he`s been pushing. We`ll get into that, but we begin right now, election night in America.

As we come on the air I can tell you the first polls closing in Kentucky. There`s been primary voting today actually in five states, and James Carville is part of our special coverage kicking off THE BEAT tonight. In addition to Kentucky, polls are still open in Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

We begin in Pennsylvania because it is a big one, the showcase where GOP Senate candidates have been clashing all the way through the homestretch of an election that has now started as a primary to really split the party in a key state.

There`s also newly revealed audio of the Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette. She was caught in photographs that proved she was at the January 6th march. She`s denied breaking any laws that day, but you can see her there, marching with people who are accused of storming the actual capital, including the Proud Boys. Here was Barnette the night before the insurrection.


KATHY BARNETTE (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE PRIMARY CANDIDATE: You`re going to see a bunch of pissed off patriots that are like, we`re not having this anymore. You`re going to have to hear our voices. Something went wrong and we cannot lay down. I believe most people realize that this is our 1776 moment.


MELBER: That kind of rhetoric, that kind of, quote-unquote, "1776 moment," does refer to overthrowing governments by force. Barnette has also been caught in a lot of hot water even among Republicans in her state for statements, tweets and attacks on the entire religion of Islam, from blatant attacks on the equal rights of gay Americans and others. The polling now has her tied, though, with Dr. Oz who got a Trump endorsem*nt and millionaire businessman David McCormick.

In the governor`s race there, Trump endorsed a right-wing candidate, Doug Mastriano, also someone who attended the Jan. 6th rally.

Over now in Idaho, the Republican number two in the state, the lieutenant governor, who addressed white supremacists and supposed military members is now trying to become number one, the governor of that state.

For Democrats their eyes on the Pennsylvania Senate primary race. Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman had a commanding polling lead heading into today. And then there the action that everyone is watching. How do results here show where the Republican Party is going amidst authoritarian calls to overthrow elections entirely, amidst a new litmus test for supporting the big lie, and the question of whether this party can get anymore MAGA.

Let`s get right to it as promised with the kind of person you want to hear from on a big election night in America. The raging Cajun himself, the one and only James Carville.

Happy primary day and election day. Welcome back, James.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, thank you, Ari. It`s good to be back. Five hours or so we`ll know where we stand. And I`m like everybody else, I want to see Pennsylvania returns, it`s a very critical state. We cannot keep or expand our Senate majority without winning Pennsylvania. You can`t pay too much attention, in my opinion.

MELBER: As you say, can`t pay too much attention. It`s one of those big states like Ohio which matters for sheer numbers, and also sometimes matters as a bellwether. As I`ve reminded viewers it went Biden but has a lot of this right-wing energy there as well in that primary.

Let`s start with your reaction both to the entire Republican side of the race in PA as well as what Dr. Oz said in what some are calling his My Little Pillow closing remarks. Take a look.


MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE PRIMARY CANDIDATE: I`m that bold voice President Trump called out that we need to have in Washington, D.C. to represent our Pennsylvania values. When you go to bed at night and put your head on that soft pillow, you know Oz will be doing exactly what you want him to do if you were there next to him.


MELBER: If you were there next to him. James, your thoughts on the whole race.


CARVILLE: So, Ari, my thoughts go back to a little less than a month ago when I was on the show and I talked about -- we talked about how weird the Republican Party has become. It`s now hypersonic weird. We`ve gone through this horrific leak of a Supreme Court decision. We`ve actually seen over 25 percent of the House Republican caucus side with a hostile foreign power, namely Russia, and against Ukraine.

We`ve seen the replacement theory, which you know as well as anybody that this is a horrific anti-Semite racist thing that`s been around historically forever come to its inevitable fruition and it will continue to do this. And we`re in a very, very difficult time with a major American political party that has just become hypersonic weird, and it has to be stopped, and the only way -- the only way to stop this is at the ballot box.

You`re not going to stop it by going and wasting your time demonstrating in front of Justice Kavanaugh or Senator Collins` house. What a waste of time. Washington needs to get out of Washington and go to Michigan and Wisconsin and North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, and Ohio, in Nevada, in Arizona, where all these competitive races are taking place. This whole future of the country is going to be decided in November, and the faster we understand that, the better off we`re going to be.

MELBER: Let me play a little bit of what we heard from Kathy Barnette because this is the kind of individual who can tie a Dr. Oz. You think about Oz has Trump behind him, got celebrity, money, et cetera, but it would seem that there is a dividend, almost like -- you mention replacement theory and what happens in some of these far-right places where the parties in Europe, they move to the right and there`s a dividend for this kind of crazy and this kind of hate. Here`s just some of what she said.


BARNETTE: The mindset of a Muslim is very different from the mindset of Americans. The new natural law is two men, two women, and pretty soon, since it`s based on love and feelings and respect and dignity, who to say - - who are we to now say that your love is legitimate love, but then I say a pedophile, man-love with a boy, a 12-year-old boy is illegitimate?

Barack Hussein Obama, I try to mention his name as much as possible, thinking that at some point a lightbulb is going to go off in someone`s head.


MELBER: James?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, first of all, the Pennsylvania Republicans, I mean, this a party of like John Heinz and William Scranton or even Dick Thornberg, people like this. This has completely goofy, baddy political party. But when she leaked back, I`m sure she leaked it or whoever did it she`s not mad about, and she was down January 6th, that`s not going to do anything but help her.

And by the way, Ari, Dr. Oz is one giant fraud. If you don`t believe me, everybody should watch the John Oliver take on Dr. Oz. This guy is a walking massive fraud. And of course Trump comes in and he`s gone totally MAGA. And Pennsylvania is a state that I know very well. I really got my first success in national politics there. I got so many friends there.

But we better wake up, because if we don`t win this Senate seat in November, not us, the Democrats, the country is in really, really deep trouble. And I don`t know if it`s going to be, you know, Barnette or if it`s going to be Dr. Oz, you know, McCormick is just another, you know, slavish JD Vance kind of guy. But we`ve got to come together.

We`ve got to win this election in November and be more effective and get out there, and realize just how serious a threat that we face here in the United States.

MELBER: Hmm. And what are you watching in the other states? So we mentioned PA, but we have Kentucky, Idaho, et cetera.

CARVILLE: Well, obviously I`m going to be watching North Carolina very closely. I think we`ve got a terrific candidate there. Chief Justice Beasley, North Carolina Supreme Court. I think that`s going to determine a lot. I`m a little bit more national focused. You know, Idaho is Idaho, but you know, it`s kind of fun to watch this. But most of my focus tonight is primarily going to be on Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

But, and I also want to see -- very disappointed in Democratic turnout so far in some of the earlier primaries. If the Democrats don`t wake up and understand what they`re dealing with and unify and get behind us and get out of Washington and get out of New York and get out in the rest of the country and understand the threat we`re against we`re going to be in trouble in November. So I`m just not going to be looking at the raw returns tonight, I`ll also be looking at turnout, which we`re not doing that well so far.


MELBER: Well, you mentioned Vance, who went from a never Trumper to saying Trump was the best president ever, which really calls into question his use of the word never, among other things, James. We had our field reporters out. We`re going to be covering this tonight through late in the night. Steve Kornacki and the whole gang. But out in the field, our field reporters are talking to folk about how much the Trump endorsem*nt matters in the primaries on the GOP side. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did Trump`s endorsem*nt mean anything or?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little bit, a little bit, but that wasn`t my, that wasn`t my overall decision-making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it did. It did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess it would probably be the sole purpose of why I went with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love Donald Trump, but, I mean, he doesn`t rule my life. You know, I have my own mind to make up my own mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not a Trumper. I mean, I like Trump, I voted for him, but I`m not a Trumper.


MELBER: James, give us your view of what we hear there as well as something that folks may not realize is a relatively uncommon, which is midterms, contested primaries you usually don`t have former presidents getting this involved in the first place.

CARVILLE: So, Ari, let me be very frank here. The person that`s going to watch the midterm elections the closest is one Samuel Alito. And if it turns out, (INAUDIBLE) to say, it`s a big Republican victory, that`s just going to tell him to high ball, green light it. And you look at what happened in Buffalo, and as sickening as that is, there`s a gun case that`s going to be decided by the Supreme Court, that in all likelihood is going to make it a national right to carry concealed weapons.

Understand this. They don`t care about Democrats because they think that we`re in effective, that we`re disorganized, that we`re whiney, and that we just stay on the coast, and they`re going to run away with elections in the rest of the country. And I have to be honest, they have good reason for thinking that. Samuel Alito has no fear of Democrats, of the progressive movement, of the gun responsibility groups, of women`s health groups, of environmental groups.

He thinks and most of them think, as does Tucker Carlson, they think it`s all a big joke, and I got to tell you, they have -- history is on their side right now. I hope we can prove them wrong.

MELBER: Hmm. I`m running --

CARVILLE: I`m not sure that we can.

MELBER: I`m running over on time, but the final thing I want to follow up on as I heard you mentioned your criticism of some of the sort of direct action groups, or those that are gathering doing the protests.


MELBER: Just to make sure we hear you right, what is your concern there, and what do you mean when you say that that`s not a good use of people`s time or energy?

CARVILLE: It`s a waste of time. They don`t care if you go out in front of their house. Instead of these people being in Washington and going to coffee shops and Adams Morgan, they need to get rid of the mall, they need to be in Lansing, they need to be in Harrisburg, they need to be in Las Vegas, they need to be in Phoenix, they need to get out of Washington and quit doing this because they`re not very effective and help elect Democrats.

When you get more Democrats, you`re going to get better policies, you`re going to do something about these colossal problems that the country is facing. You`re not going to get anything done in front of Justice Kavanaugh`s house or Senator Collins` house. It`s a gigantic waste of time. Quit wasting your time and get out in the country and elect Democrats.

MELBER: James Carville on a big --

CARVILLE: That`s what I think.

MELBER: Yes. And we come back to you, I want to make sure we heard you. Some folks can disagree with you on that, but this is THE BEAT, we hear from everybody and let folks make up their own mind. Imagine that.

CARVILLE: Imagine that. People disagreeing with me. Oh, my god. I think I can`t take the attention.


MELBER: Good to see you, sir. And enjoy election night. I wish you a good election night as with everyone else.

CARVILLE: You bet.

MELBER: The one and only James Carville.

Let me tell you what we have coming up, because I mentioned this right after I was talking to Nicolle. Big news out of DOJ as they seek more evidence from the January 6th Committee. This is one of those time we added Joyce Vance late in the day. She`s agreed to come and explain what this breaking news means. That`s tonight.

Also, Republicans and Wall Street executives now trying to dodge on this racist and anti-Semitic replacement theory which the Buffalo shooting suspect directly cited. James just mentioned it. Michael Steele is here. We`re going the talk about that accountability and where we go from here.

And if it`s THE BEAT you know we have everything covered. We`re not afraid of any stories here. There`s something historic that`s happening. Congress holding a hearing on UFOs. It`s actually the first time in 50 years because there`s some new video evidence and a lot of new questions.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this one of the phenomenon that we can`t explain?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not have an explanation for what this specific object is.



MELBER: Quote, "White supremacy is a poison," end quote. That`s what the president of the United States felt moved to say today. It`s the kind of thing that in a different time, even relatively recently, say 10 years ago, might sound odd if you flipped on the news and heard that, but that`s what President Biden said in Buffalo today because of what we`re living through, and what apparently it is necessary to say right now after a racist massacre and the deadliest shooting of the year.


The president met with the families of 10 people who were killed, allegedly targeted for their race and their race alone. Investigators diving into a trove of posts online written by this person who has been indicted by the shooting. A self-proclaimed white supremacist who adheres to replacement theory, something we have scrutinized and documented as a debunked conspiracy theory on this very program.

As we`ve pointed out to you, it is a conspiracy theory that surges in interest around two things -- mass shootings like this one which have a shooter or alleged shooter who cites it, and when Tucker Carlson pushes it on his watched show on FOX News. The whole idea is that racial minorities from abroad helped in some way by Jews in the United States will take over and replace the rightful legacy, quote-unquote, "white class."


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A hate that through the media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced -- that`s the word replaced -- by the other, by people who don`t look like them.

I call on all Americans to reject the lie, and I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for profit.


MELBER: The president makes an important point there, and a distinction. Racism and anti-Semitism are very old, most people know that. There are different ways to whip it up, and there are plenty of people including entire societies, that hurt each other, themselves, and everyone by believing in those kind of hate ideologies. That`s the old stuff.

Then you have the new stuff, which is the business model, the profit, the people who run the companies and Web sites, and they do this for money and they do it regardless of any other reasoning. They certainly do it off and knowing that it`s false. Tucker Carlson has done many other jobs where he claimed to have other views. He used to host this hour on MSNBC. A little bit of news trivia there.

But now Tucker Carlson pushes this crap. In fact he`s done it over 400 times since 2016 according to a count by "The New York Times." And this person indicted for the mass murder referred to replacement theory 28 times in the very rant that he posted right before the attack. So that`s a fact that you have to deal with. If you watch this program, you may know we are very careful about facts and about causality.

I said yesterday and I`ll say again right now, no causation has been established between this environment, between what has been on FOX News and this particular shooter, although FOX and he are pushing the same crap. But if you watch FOX you wouldn`t even know there was any potential overlap at all. FOX hosts mostly avoiding acknowledging this fact in any way during the deadliest shooting of the year.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX HOST: So what is hate speech? Well, it`s speech that our leaders hate. So because immensely ill teenager murders strangers you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud. That`s what they`re telling you.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: After the shooting, it took Democrats just three hours to start blaming Republicans and conservatives and talk show hosts and FOX News.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX HOST: Their new motto seems to be, if you can`t beat them, use your corporate shills to censor them. The justification is always some horrific shooting or a protest that goes wrong.


MELBER: In the final clip there you see on the screen a bunch of news organizations. Of course, again, responsible people reporting on the facts of this are not even trying to claim causality, which by the way investigators look at that kind of thing, and that`s a much more complex process. But if you watch FOX, all you would know is that this replacement theory is being main lined presented to you as something less than its hateful racist, anti-Semitic actual reality, and then it would be somehow alighted from what motivated the shooters -- I should say the alleged shooter, according to his own screed, and then to top it all off there`s another rant about supposed censorship.

Meanwhile today, if you did watch FOX, they haven`t slowed down the references that come up when they want to weave in this debunked theory.


TOMI LAHREN, FOX NATION HOST: It`s not just that the Biden and Democrats don`t have a plan, the plan is to not have a plan. The plan is that the optics might look not great for them right now, they might take a hit in the midterms. They don`t care. These are future voters. They want to bring in as many as possible, change the voting rules and regulations, provide amnesty, and get these people voting.


MELBER: That is a version of the replacement theory. As I mentioned, for an anti-immigrant screed, it is also an "immigrant idea," quote-unquote, because it comes out of right-wing France, comes out of a castle.


We did that reporting for you last night. It also comes out of a fear, but mostly it`s built on hate and lies.

This is a country of immigrants. You`ve heard that before. It`s become cliche. This is a country where people come in, and over time, if they come in legally, they do become citizens. What that contributor to FOX just said, what you just heard described as some sort of terrible scare tactic is literally the originalist rule of the law of this nation, where citizenship are based on participating in the rule of law legally, not based on your identity.

And for a movement that claims to be against identity politics, among other things, it is the height of hypocrisy.

We`re joined now by someone who used to run the Republican National Party, who backed Joe Biden in the last election, Michael Steele.

Welcome back, sir.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: Hey, buddy. Good to see you.

MELBER: Good to have you. When you look at what we just saw there, a kind of classic, guilty defensive one-two punch of trying to hide or lie about the part that is basically indefensible. I mean, they really don`t want the talk about the fact that there`s that overlap. Again, I didn`t say causality, but that overlap. And then two, going right back at it and telling everyone, if you look a certain way, you should be afraid of these other people who look a different way, and we`re going to lie you into fear, and then we`re going to claim, they`re going to claim they`re not the ones playing hate racial identity politics.

STEELE: Well, it`s all such claptrap. It`s just a bunch of noise and they know it. The fact of the matter is the ancestors of those individuals did exactly what they think, you know, is happening to them. You know, their ancestors came in and replaced the Native Americans, and so that`s history. That`s fact. We know that. So, this, you know, we are the owners of this land is a bunch of malarky, and everyone knows it.

Everyone has come to accept what this land means to each generation, each successive generation of Americans and immigrants who want to be Americans and immigrants who want to hold on to their native land but have a little piece of America, too. And yes, those who come here because of the trials and pressures and dangers of their homeland. So we`ve always embraced that.

These very same Republicans at FOX know damn well what that journey has been like and also know that Republicans, for generations, were advocates for that self-same (PH) journey that recognized the power of the immigrant story, that embraced that in a way that, yes, we want accountability for those who came in illegally and sort of get back in the line and do it the right way, but also not demonizing every immigrant, every migrant, everyone who comes here who isn`t white.

That has never been the narrative, and yet now it is in full-throated voice, so it`s a little bit disingenuous, for sure, but we`re used to this song, Ari, we`ve heard it so many times before. We know how the lyrics go. We now how it ends when it`s over, and the reality of it is it points out why elections matter and why tonight like many nights now and in the future will matter.


STEELE: If Americans want to change that claptrap, that noise from that hard ugly right, then you need to put in some people who are not going to succumb to it and promote it.

MELBER: And that`s the connective tissue between some of what James Carville was saying in our first block -- go ahead.

STEELE: Can I just say this about that first block and James Carville? To all the Democrats out there, can I just tell you all something? The old dog still knows how to hunt, baby. I know a lot of you went out there and sort of gerrymandered yourself a little foo-foo puppy and sort of, you know, genetically created a little dog you think is going to politically satisfy what you need right now, y`all better listen to that barking dog in the porch telling you how to get off the porch and follow the way towards victory, because you all ain`t getting it.

So the old dogs, you know, we still know how to win a few elections. We still know how to bite at a few pant legs of the opposition, and you all need to pay attention to that. Just a little editorial comment there.

MELBER: We welcome it. My understanding -- and again, we take our facts seriously here, Michael. My understanding is that the primary animal identity analogy for James is an alligator?

STEELE: Yes, that`s true.

MELBER: You`re likening him to an old dog, but I think we`ll accept that.


STEELE: The Porch analogy. I heard you guys talking about dogs on porches so alligators bite just as hard, so.

MELBER: Yes, alligators do bite. Well and I -- you know where I fit in, I don`t know if you know this, Michael. I`m the little parasitic bird that it sits inside the alligator`s mouth. I just cleaned it out, get a little bit of nutrients out of that I could live off that for days, man.

STEELE: Yes, I`m not looking to get that close but (INAUDIBLE).

MELBER: Fair, fair. Well, look, you guys are -- you guys run big things, you know, I`m just here talking to people. So, all self-deprecation aside there the media part that the president referred to today is distinct from the political part. I mentioned. Nothing new about racism, hate, antisemitism. We`ve had international slave trade, and Holocaust and the horrors of the world. I mean, I know that right now. They`re trying to make it so you can`t talk about race in school. But anyone with any basic world history knows about that. That`s all been there.

And that`s a thing that comes up and down that you deal with. The profiteering, though, is different. I`m not sure that there`s ever been as prevalent and as fast a profitable mediated racist business model, as there is today. So, I thought it was interesting that the president bore into that Majority Leader Schumer also talking about that, on the Senate floor, when you look at what is being sold.

It comes off right-wing Patriot message boards, some of it is the type of stuff that even from a First Amendment perspective, you know, might not pass muster, and it gets, you know, tweaked and polished in a certain way. It`s still ugly, but it gets polished into some version of talker, here`s what Schumer said.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Anchors like Tucker Carlson. And in fact, all MAGA Republicans, and all voices of influence across the political spectrum should not just condemn racial violence, not just announced white supremacist views like replacement theory, but further refused to give these false and racist conspiracy theories, a platform whatsoever.


MELBER: Michael, your view on the business side?

STEELE: Oh, the business side has been in a very, a very important part of what we`ve seen, not just in the last, you know, number of years. But this goes back to even long before I became chairman, where there was this recognition that, oh, there`s also money profit that`s profitable with these votes. It`s not just about how do we get our grassroots out there, it`s not just about, oh, let`s do the T.V. ads.

This now has become a multibillion-dollar, multi-layered process, in which there is this coordination of cash, that I call it the big grift. And, and we see candidates and campaigns and other organizations, ancillary organizations getting into it. And so that now becomes a driver. So, to your earlier points about Fox, it`s good. It`s all good. Murdoch`s making money. The advertisers are still paying. Why, because they got eyeballs on screens. And advertisers don`t care what the eyeballs are hearing.

They just want to know that they see their product placement. And so that`s the model until that`s disrupted until someone says, you know, our democracy, you know, cost more than this. In certainly we can`t get it back. If we`re not willing to pay into its survivability. This is going to continue and it will only get worse from here. Because again, when you take accountability out of the system, whether it`s financial, whether its political, whether it`s governmental or even on the policy level, you`re going to find people going rogue as often and in as many ways as they possibly can.

This is just the first iteration of it that you see inside the GOP. This is down as we`ve noted, Ari, you`ve noted a number of times in your broadcast, that these individuals are sort of almost kind of walking away from the GOP and creating their own spaces. You know, you`ve got -- like Barnett tonight. Barnett has her own space. Now she didn`t need Trump`s endorsem*nt to get into a tie. She figured out how to tacitly and tactfully move in the position parroting the same kind of negative narrative anti-Muslim, anti- gay, anti-American narrative of this opposition to the likely win tonight.

MELBER: All striking. I hope people are listening. Michael Steele -- yes, you know, in a lighter closing, I will say this, sir. And I would never mix the series with a light that`s right away to live. But there`s only one reason that we can`t compare you to any animal. Like your esteemed colleague, James Carville. I think you know why?

STEELE: Why would that be good sir?


MELBER: Because you`re already a puppet, baby. Another puppet.

STEELE: There we are.

MELBER: I don`t -- we don`t have it to my knowledge. We don`t have it handy right now for those who know. They know. And if you don`t know -- I don`t talk what you get it.

STEELE: If you don`t know, you don`t know.

MELBER: Keep watching. Good to see you, Michael. Happy election day.

STEELE: Take care now.

MELBER: Absolutely. I mentioned going like to serious. Well, there`s serious news too. Coming out of DOJ, a major escalation in the criminal probe with the insurrection. Joyce Vance will we`re back in one minute.


MELBER: Breaking news. The Justice Department`s seeking more evidence in the insurrection criminal probe. For the first time that we`ve known about publicly. Formally requesting evidence and transcripts from the House January 6 committee. This is a sign the probe is ramping up as The New York Times put it. The committee we know is actually interviewed over 1000 people. It`s a reminder something we`ve mentioned in our coverage, that for the stories about a few people resisting the vast majority have cooperated, they`ve given testimony.

They`ve given physical evidence. They`ve given documentary evidence. And it is of a criminal nature. According to DOJ tonight, they`re interested in getting to the bottom of all of it, including what some of those recent witnesses said which included members of the Trump family. As promised, we called up former federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who joins us now. Welcome back. What do you see as the meaning of the DOJ seeking this evidence?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, if I`m a prosecutor conducting a criminal investigation, and I know that witnesses that I want to interview, that I need to interview, that they`ve spoken to other authorities and their transcripts. I need to read those transcripts before I questioned those witnesses. It helps me decide who`s important. It helps me appreciate what they`ve said in the past. What might I want to get a finer point on or where might I need to get better evidence because as a prosecutor, I`m looking for proof beyond reasonable doubt of criminal statutes. These are a tool that could help me focus my investigation.

MELBER: What does it tell you about their view of the seriousness, the legitimacy of those leads, because no shade to this or any other Congress, but I`ve covered them, I worked in one. I`ve seen committees, hold hearings and interview people in manner -- in a manner that wouldn`t be of great interest to, frankly, just about anybody.

VANCE: This committee is populated with people who know what they`re doing, including a constitutional law expert in Jamie Raskin. They`ve also been smart enough to reach out not just to the former U.S. attorneys who had their staff, my former colleague, Tim Heaphy. But also, they`ve populated the folks that are working on Heaphy`s team, with prosecutors who appreciate not just how to conduct a congressional investigation, where they are, of course, looking to tweak laws, but also how to collect evidence and how to interview witnesses.

So, look, DOJ -- and we don`t really know why DOJ let Congress go first. That`s very unusual. As a prosecutor, you want the first bite these witnesses. So that`s a little bit of a mystery. Now they`re playing catch up to some extent, and it`s important that they`ve asked for not just existing transcripts, but for future ones as well.

MELBER: All very interesting as mentioned, this was breaking late in the day the time scoop. So, we called you. Thanks for taking the call Joyce and we will be in touch as they say.

VANCE: Good to see you, Ari.

MELBER: Good to see you. Coming up, we turned to a very different story, which I told you is unusual. Congress holding the first hearing on UFOs in 50 years. There`s two videos revealed by the Pentagon as well as what sounds like a warning. That story is next.



MELBER: Is there an intelligent life somewhere out there? Or is there anything we should know about that we don`t fully understand that looks like some sort of unidentified flying object. That`s part of what Congress is exploring right now in holding its first public hearing about UFOs in over 50 years. Officials today releasing two previously classified videos. Some of this has been reported on, we did a segment on this, you may recall one video difficult to make out. So, we can actually slow it down where you catch a high-speed spherical appearing object that whizzes by.

The shot was taken to the window of fighter jet and is similar to some of the other videos that have leaked or been shared regarding how the U.S. military has tracked this kind of material. Officials admit at this point they can only say it remains a mystery.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Is this one of the phenomena that we can`t explain?

SCOTT W. BRAY (Deputy Director, Naval Intelligence): I do not have an explanation for what this specific object does. I would simply say that there are a number of the events in which we do not have an explanation in which the narrow, small handful, in which there are flight characteristics or signature management that we can`t explain with the data that we have.


MELBER: The other newly released video shows what appear to be some kind of glowing triangles that move through the air. Military officials say they believe those are indications of drones. I`m joined now by Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times Helene Cooper, whose report -- it was her reporting the first revealed the Pentagon had a secret UFO identify Kishon (PH) program back in 2017. Welcome back.


MELBER: Absolutely. So, unusual to have a public hearing. What do you think is important from it? What if anything, did we learn?

COOPER: I think it`s astounding that you actually said in your intro that the Congress held a public hearing about a Pentagon UFO program and about UFO that in itself, I think is a huge deal. You know, this hasn`t been done, as you said, in more than 50 years, the government has always in the past been super-secret about all of this, any kind of investigation that they`ve done, and they got a little bit smack.

These Pentagon officials got a little bit sort of scolded by these congressional representatives today during this hearing about this -- the cloak of secrecy that they put over years and years of this -- of this program and told them, and one of the congressional reps, I thought it was very interesting, told the Pentagon -- told Pentagon officials who were quick, you know, there -- a lot of the things that they presented, they said, you know, we don`t know what it is. But that doesn`t mean it`s a UFO. And they got a little bit scolded, you know, about not about being too quick to throw their hands up and say we don`t know what it is. But you know it -- we`re not sure it`s a UFO --

MELBER: Let me -- because you mentioned that. Let me jump in to show one moment where the undersecretary of defense also gets into this whole, you know, enduring issue about what they want to keep secret. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we have any sensors underwater, to detect on submerged UAPs? Anything that is in the ocean or in the seas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I think that would be more properly addressed in closed systems, sir.


MELBER: And that`s -- where that line of questioning landed, I guess the big question for you, and you`re just trying to objectively report on it all. But did anything out of this hearing were these new videos, raise the likelihood from the public evidence that these unexplained matters, these unexplained videos, could be something or does it not feel that way to you at this point?

COOPER: I don`t -- nothing jumped out of me as an, oh, wow, moment. There was a -- there -- I mean, 400 incidents were reported today, which is a big number. And that is because the Pentagon has finally opened the aperture and invited people, invited pilots, invited Navy crewmen to come in, and show stuff, and they`re trying to remove this stigma. What I find the most interesting has always been the interactions between fighter pilots and an unidentified phenomena.

We didn`t see anything immediately new, except for the one the sphere that you showed us earlier in your program. But those to me always ended up being a little bit more noteworthy, I think because these fighter pilots are the most stone-cold. I mean, they`re highly trained guys who are used to maneuvers and they`re used to all sorts of like, they`re very calm, they have nerves of steel, and when they start getting excited importance that they -- that takes them aback.

You know, I usually jump up and take notice and they`ve got some of that. What I really would like to know -- no, we didn`t hear that in the open session. I`m dying to know what went on during the classified session. And I think that`s going to take a little bit of extra time to peel away.

MELBER: Yes, all really striking. We put this backup on the screen there. Helene Cooper, who`s been doing the reporting on this as mentioned my thanks to you. We`ll be right back on another update out of Washington. Stay with us.



MELBER: The community of Buffalo is in shock and mourning, grieving those 10 victims murdered by this shooting suspect. Reportedly the white supremacist. A church Deacon and devoted wife, a retired police officer, a father who was just trying to buy a birthday cake for his son that day. An 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield who stopped at the grocery store after visiting her husband of 68 years at a nursing home. Each of these people take, each family grieving. It`s her son now speaking out about the loss.


GARNELL WHITFIELD, SON OF BUFFALO SHOOTING VICTIM: What I loved most about my mom is how she loved us. How she loved our family. You expect us to keep doing this over and over and over again. Over again. Forgive and forget it is just not some story to drive the news cycle. This is not -- this is our mother. This is our lives.


MELBER: Hayward Patterson was a church Deacon and a pillar of the community. His wife speaking out about her grieving process as well as what she views as the power of forgiveness.



TIRZAH PATTERSON, WIFE OF BUFFALO SHOOTING VICTIM: I didn`t know if I should be angry. I didn`t know if I should be hurt. All different kinds of emotions, but the first thing I thought of why this way. I have to forgive them. Because if I don`t, I`m killing me. In -- you know, I won`t be able to go forward if I don`t forgive.


MELBER: There was also this retired Buffalo Police Lieutenant Aaron Salter, he was working security at the supermarket. Witnesses described how he bravely confronted the shooter trying to protect others, which is how he lost his life. 10 lives lost, each leaving all of these friends and family grieving. The nation is struggling to face the costs and the reality of this type of gun violence of this resurgent hate. We cannot forget throughout all of it. All of the real people touched, hurt, and taken from us.


MELBER: We end where we began. It is election night in five states in America. MSNBC coverage will continue all night with Steve Kornacki at the big board and I will be helping out at midnight eastern 9:00 p.m. Pacific. Anchoring along with Steve and our experts to take in all of these election results. So, keep it locked here on election night in America and keep it lock right now as "THE REIDOUT" is up next.


Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/17/22 (2024)
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