38 House Dems now back impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 5/24/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests:
Christina Greer, Al Green, J.W. Verrett; Glenn Kirschner, Leah Wright Rigueur, Mark Harris, John Flannery, Tee Grizzley
Transcript:

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  We`ll get into a democratic debate over

impeachment, hearing from both side of that divide and the growing feud

between the President and Speaker Pelosi.  We`ll check-in with the travel

in White House in Japan.

 

But “THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER,” starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Ari.

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chuck.  Thank you very much.  We

have a lot to get to on this Friday night.  But we begin with this debate

roiling Washington and, of course, living rooms across the country, whether

or not it would be time to impeach the President of the United States.

 

Consider this new reporting live from NBC News, at least 38 house democrats

now calling for Congress to at least begin impeachment proceedings.  That

would be a set before impeaching Donald Trump but it would be quite the

step.

 

Signs they are not alone.  Well, today a former republican congressman

joins the only currently serving GOP House member to say that Donald Trump,

in their view, committed impeachable offenses.  Missouri`s Tom Coleman

calling to impeach Trump at a new essay, saying the survival of our very

democracy is at risk.  All of this comes after a wild week of escalating

tensions over impeachment.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  If Don McGahn doesn`t testify, it is time to

open an impeachment inquiry.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The democratic rebellion late last night, key

democrats pressed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move forward with an

impeachment inquiry.

 

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY):  This is no longer about politics but

this is about upholding the rule of law.

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  We believe that the President of the United

States is engaged in a cover-up.

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I walk in to look at people that have just

said that I was doing a cover-up.  I don`t do cover-ups.  The I word.  The

I word.  Can you imagine?

 

PELOSI:  The House Democratic Caucus does not want to pass to impeachment

and that`s where he wants us to be.

 

REPORTER:  She says that you want to be impeached.  Do you want to be

impeached?

 

TRUMP:  I don`t think anybody wants to be impeached.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  A big question tonight, how much longer can democratic leaders

hold off if the rank and file aided by some of these new republican voices

in the wilderness are backing impeachment or impeachment hearings.  What

will they hear from the man who could be their star witness, Bob Mueller?

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Mueller, he – I think I can say at this point

that he wants to testify in private.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Why?

 

NADLER:  I don`t know why.  That`s – he wants to testify.  He`s willing to

make an opening statement but he wants to testify in private.  And we`re

suggesting – we`re saying that, you know, we think it`s important for the

American people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about

the report.

 

MELBER:  That`s some news.  In a moment, I`ll speak about all of this with

one of the democratic members of Congress who`s leading this charge for

impeachment.  We will begin first right now with Maya Wiley, former Counsel

of the Mayor of New York and a civil prosecutor in the Southern District,

and Christina Greer, a Political Science Professor at Fordham.

 

Good evening both of you.  Christina, on the congressional politics of

this, has Pelosi on this wild week done enough in your view to hold her

line or are we seeing a slow but steady march for something more than just

a war of words?

 

CHRISTINA GREER, PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY POLITICAL SCIENCE:  I think

we`re definitely seeing the steady march toward impeachment.  Obviously,

Nancy Pelosi is a seasoned legislator and she was around in the 1990s when

Bill Clinton was impeached.

 

I think what is frustrating for many democrats who want impeachment,

especially some of the newer, younger democrats who are calling for

impeachment, is that they`re essentially saying, this is not the 1990s. 

Donald Trump is not President Clinton.  The circumstances are completely

are completely different.  We were looking at something where in the late

`90s, it was embarrassing to President Clinton, his wife, his family, and

some other entities, but we weren`t looking at full widespread corruption

and possibly the destruction of American democracy in our institutions.

 

And so the democrats saw how republicans were punished post-impeachment. 

But I don`t think that we`re in that scenario and that situation right now. 

And so this is why so many democrats slowly but surely are saying, this is

something that we must do, because we don`t know if our democracy can

survive another two to four – to six years of Trump presidency, and a

sycophantic Republican Congress that essentially is co-signing everything

that the President does.  The Supreme Court is doing the same thing.  And

now, we see the DOJ that is essentially working for our president and not

the United States constitution.

 

MELBER:  Well, you mentioned now the DOJ, and I think that`s such an

important point, Maya, because if you look at what Christina is saying,

it`s not like things just stay the same.  It is not that Pelosi can just

hold the line and say, well, this is as bad as it get in the view of the

democrats.  A lot of experts and progressives and some republicans, as I

showed in our lead, are saying, well, it`s been neutral, because the Trump

Justice Department is barreling forward on trying to investigate the

investigators.  The President of the United States is falsely, arguably, in

a defamatory way, accusing former investigators of treason.  And so with

that in mind, does more need to be done on House side?

 

MAYA WILEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT FORMER CIVIL PROSECUTOR:  Yes, I think it

does, and for all the reasons fit that Christie said.  But in addition to

your point, Ari, remember that Donald Trump is actually using the tools

available to him as President, as the world`s most powerful person for his

own personal gain.  That`s essentially what he`s asked William Barr to do,

and in giving him this unprecedented power in terms of declassifying

national security.

 

And ,you know, if you go back to what impeachment represents, at least the

process for Congress to try to determine whether or what articles of

impeachment it might write up, right?  That`s the process, the hearing

process.  It`s – this is the same President that, in addition to what

we`ve seen and heard in Robert Mueller`s report, that it was already spun

in a way that kind of confused the American public about what Robert

Mueller was saying he found, including explicitly saying significant

evidence of obstruction of justice.

 

But also, this is the same President that overrode, you know, national

security clearances for 25 people in the White House when the career is

said, you should decline these, some of those being his family members.  I

mean, so the point about, you know, the history of impeachment in this

country and what the underpinning of the constitution is isn`t about

whether or not the President could be convicted of a crime.  It`s

maladministration.  It`s abuse of power.  And congress has to, if it`s

going on uphold the constitutional obligation, it has to actually consider

and look at the evidence to consider whether or not to have articles of

impeachment.

 

Just one other quick point that I think is so interesting in the polling. 

You know, a recent poll that just came out showed that even while Americans

are kind saying, I don`t know if we should – if Congress should impeach. 

There`re also 73 percent who are saying they want to hear from Robert

Mueller and 66 percent are saying, they want to hear from Don McgGhn.  That

doesn`t sound like the American people think has the do-over.

 

MELBER:  Interesting.  Both of you hang with me.  I want to turn to one of

these members of Congress as we`ve been discussing the fight.  Texas

Congressman Al Green introduced articles of impeachment against Donald

Trump in 2017, and said this week that you think these impeachment

proceedings will begin.  Let`s take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Are you anymore hopeful that impeachment proceedings are going

to move forward in the near future?

 

REP. AL GREEN (D-TX):  I believe that they will.  And – but it depends on

what you mean by near future.  But I think so.  I think we`re on the right

path.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  If that`s the case, when would that begin in your view and would

that mean the Speaker has handled this wrongly?

 

GREEN:  Are you speaking to me, sir?

 

MELBER:  Oh, yes.  Congressman, I`m sorry for having any – I think I`m

being told briefly we`re having audio issues, so that`s on me.  And I will

repeat the question.

 

GREEN:  I`m okay now.

 

MELBER:  Okay good.  I will repeat the question.  I was a – thank you for

coming on.  I was playing that sound of you.  So we heard briefly you in

the hallway talking about these potential impeachment proceedings coming

soon.  So I put the question to you, sir, what does soon mean?  When would

that be?  And if so, does that mean the speaker has handled this, in your

view, wrongly?

 

GREEN:  Well, thank you for the question, Mr. Melber.  Sir, we are at the

crossroads of accountability.  These are the cross roads for the House of

Representatives.  Either we will hold the President accountable or we will

be held accountable.  It really is that simple.  The House is now on trial. 

We are part of the issue that is being litigated in the court of public

opinion.

 

And whether or not we will handle this appropriately depends on whether we

will put politics above principle.  If we put politics above principle,

we`re going to be held accountable.  If we put party above people, we`re

going to be held accountable.  And if we put the President above the law,

we`re going to be held accountable.  There is no middle ground here.

 

MELBER:  But, sir, you put it so clearly there.  I think some viewers

listening you would say, wow, that sounds pretty straight forward.  As you

know, whether we name them or not, there are colleagues of yours, teammates

of yours, if you will, who are saying the opposite.  They`re saying, if

it`s not going to get through the Senate, if you can`t win over

republicans, I think what you`re referring to is politics, then it`s not

even worth starting.  Why is that wrong?

 

GREEN:  I don`t say that they`re wrong.  I think that people are entitled

to their opinions.  But here is my position.  This started some time ago,

some two years ago.  And, quite frankly, I was alone in this process for a

good deal of the time.  But it`s better to stand alone than not stand at

all.  There are many people who are now convinced that we need to move

forward with the process.

 

I believe that in the final analysis, there will be a majority of the

people in the House of Representatives who will not allow this impeachment

movement to be just talking points.  They will see as an action item.  They

will put principle above politics.  And I think that they will vote to

impeach this President.  I do believe we`re moving in the right direction.

 

And there are people who currently are not quite there.  But I think

history is driving this now.  You know, people make history and sometimes

history will make people.  I think history is going to make a lot of people

have second thoughts about positions they`ve held and I think they`ll come

on board.

 

MELBER:  While I have you, I want to ask about the other big news, Chairman

Nadler telling MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow last night that they`re moving toward

potentially private Bob Mueller testimony.  And so my question to you is,

if this is so important for public fact finding, and if it is the House and

the House`s of subpoena power that we`ve heard so much about, shouldn`t the

House decide what is the best course and not the witness?  And do you think

Mr. Mueller should take questions in public?

 

GREEN:  Mr. Melber, I have already indicated that we don`t have to have

testimony.  What was given to us by the Special Counsel, what was given us

is more than enough.  The Mueller report lays it out.  And we`ve had over

800 former federal prosecutors to say that if this were anyone other than

the President, the person would be prosecuted.  I believe that we have

enough evidence to go forward without Mr. Mueller.

 

But now, I think it work beneficial to have him give his testimony and I

think it would be beneficial for him to do it in the presence of the

public.  Transparency would be good.  But I won`t quarrel with him if he

wants to do it behind closed doors after having made a statement.  I

believe that`s what`s being said.

 

The important thing on remember is that Mr. Comey was fired for

investigating the President, and the President confessed to that.  Mr.

Mueller investigated it.  He started with that as the genesis.  And he has

concluded that he cannot indict the President because of a standing policy. 

But he also indicated he was not exonerated and gave us some ten or more

reasons why obstruction may have taken place for us to move on.

 

I think, to be very honest with you, Mr. Mueller is an honorable man and he

understands that the framers of the constitution intended that Congress do

its job.  They – we have to have the will.  The framers have given us a

way.  And if we don`t do our job, here`s what will happen.  The balance of

power, as we see it in this country, will be shifted.  We will have a

President who doesn`t have a check on him because the Congress is the

check.  And when we don`t check him, he will assume more authority, more

power, and he will assume the power of a monarch.  We don`t want a

monarchy.  We want democracy in the United States of America.

 

MELBER:  I think that`s well-putted, and to distill some of what you are

saying, either you check the President or Congress ends up checking itself. 

Stay with me.  I want to bring in J.W. Verret, Trump Transition Staffer who

actually quit over some policy differences and now is also calling for

impeachment.  I don`t think it`s every day that someone in your position

and Mr. Congressman Green`s position would be exactly on the same page but

it is the Trump era.  Explain how you got here.

 

J.W. VERRET, TRUMP`S TRANSITION STAFFER:  Yes.  In fact, if I testified in

front of Representative Green and we don`t often agree.  But I got here

because I read the Mueller report.  And because it`s clear to me that the

President engaged in obstruction of justice, up to 12 counts, and was

possibly even successful in hiding the truth.  There`re still text

messages, WhatsApp messages we haven`t seen because they`ve been deleted.

 

And I got here, I think, because, you know, it`s clear to me, the emperor

has no clothes.  I mean, let`s just put it that way.  And it`s surprising

to me that I don`t have more of my former colleagues in the republican

caucus on the Hill speaking out.  Justin Amash, I think, was brave. 

Hopefully more will come along.  But I think we need to see more leadership

from the democrat as well on this.  It`s time for impeachment.

 

MELBER:  And when you look at this President – go ahead, sir.  Yes?

 

GREEN:  Mr. Melber, if you would, I like to respond because I concur.  I

think that the gentleman is imminently correct and I think that we have to

make a couple of points because there`s talk about the Clinton impeachment. 

That was party lines, party lines in the Senate and a handful of democrats

in the House.

 

Those who want this to become a walk in the park are sadly mistaken.  The

framers of the constitution indicated that it would not be something that

would be easy to do.  But that`s why we have the jobs, because we do the

difficult things.

 

It is going to be divisive.  That`s understandable, but this constitution,

this country, can survive impeachment.  We survived it with Clinton.  We

survived with it Andrew Johnson.  And if we don`t do it, the Congress will

become a toothless paper tiger.

 

For those who don`t understand the process, the court where the President

will be tried is the Senate with the Chief Justice presiding, the Chief

Justice.  All of these subpoenas that we want, we can get them through

Chief Justice Roberts.  We will have a trial there.  There will be

prosecutors from the House called managers and they can get all of this

evidence.  All courts honor them.  That court is an inferior court when it

comes to the question of impeachment.

 

MELBER:  Congressman, I`m only interjecting because since I invited J.W.

on, I want to give him on one more time before we fit a break.  And, J.W.,

the President clearly has decided that maximum stonewalling and maximum

impact is his way forward.  Based on your knowledge, your unique knowledge

really of having been in the transition and been around it, do you think

that anything will move him or does he look at a week like this politically

as exactly what he wanted?

 

VERRET:  I think that the next shoe to drop will be Maxine Waters`

investigation of the Deutsche Bank documents.  She`s already won at the

district court level.  Having been someone who wrote subpoenas for that

committee, for the republican chairman who preceded her, I`m pretty clear

on the committee`s subpoena power, and they`re squarely in their rights to

get those documents.  And that`s going to be the next shoe to drop.

 

And that`s speaks to you, frankly, very directly, the Mueller report. 

Remember, one reason he was dangling pardons in front of Michael Cohen was

to stop Cohen from revealing previous instances of bank fraud and who knows

what else in the President`s dealing with Deutsche Bank.  So that`s all

connected, it`s all interconnected and it continues the momentum toward

impeachment, I think.

 

MELBER:  Fascinating.  As I mentioned, I got to fit in a break.  J.W.

Verret, Christina Greer, Maya Wiley, and Congressman Al Green, thanks to

each of you for joining me this Friday night.

 

GREEN:  Well, I thank you for having me.

 

MELBER:  Yes, sir.

 

We have a lot more ahead.  A top democrat warning about Donald Trump`s

corrupt move, this brand new shift to tower to Attorney General Barr.

 

And then this magazine covers going viral for a reason, roasting Barr and

others as shining lackeys.

 

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi responding to a very new propaganda campaign. 

This is 21 century stuff.  We`re going to show you how to be on guard so

you don`t get fooled.

 

Also, in a whole different story of big court win for abortion rights

tonight.  And John Flannery and Tee Grizzley on fallback Friday, don`t miss

it.

 

I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  Under U.S. law, the CIA and Intelligence agencies make the big

calls on intelligence.  They can only be overruled by the President until

today.  This just changed in a profound way because President Trump has

handed off his own intelligence powers to a cabinet official and it`s not

one in the intelligence agencies or one overseeing the military.  The

President is handing off his own unitary powers to a man who increasingly

look like the most powerful figure in the entire Trump administration, and

certainly one of Trump`s favorites.  I`m talking of course about Attorney

General Bill Barr, who, as of today, may now override the expertise and

non-partisan judgments of intelligence professionals.

 

Now, why has he suddenly get this power which has never been taken from the

intelligence agencies before?  Well, I`ll tell you the answer.  On this

one, it`s a pretty clear story line.  The White House is even claiming this

is for national security or a forward-looking policy to serve the public. 

The White House admits this is all about strengthening Barr`s hand and

reviewing the Mueller probe.  And he is in favor with Trump for saying

things about that probe like this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  It`s a very unusual situation to have

opposition research like that.  They use to that to conduct

counterintelligence against the American political campaign is a strange –

it would be a strange development.  I think there were some very strange

developments during that period.  That`s one of the things we want to look

into.

 

MELBER:  This is not normal.  And in essence, it can probably only go two

ways.  If Barr ultimately agrees with this other intel official`s calls,

then this apparently shift or power grab wouldn`t change what becomes

public.  And so later, we would look back on tonight and say, well, maybe

it was pointless, meaning why do it at all.

 

The other option to our number two is that Barr overrides them.  And then

we may be headed for an epic clash between what Trump`s own intel chiefs

think is required for security and what Mr. Barr thinks is necessary to

probe or undercut Mueller.

 

Now, Democrats are upset.  Intel leaders in that party say it`s corrupt, in

contrary to how the intelligence committee does their jobs, protecting this

country.

 

I`m joined by former federal prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner.  You`ve dealt

with a lot of national security issues, you worked for Bob Muller.  Is this

a substantively solid idea?

 

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Ari, this is a horrible idea,

and your intro was spot on, because you could almost see if a President

wanted to delegate the sort of declassification responsibilities to, for

example, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.  And you know

what?  Dan Coats, I hope we can all agree, has been maybe a pinpoint of

light in an otherwise really dark and corrupt administration.  But he`s an

intel guy.  And he is the person who can make these difficult calls of what

can be declassified, what can be made public, and what – you know, how we

can best avoid risking, you know, the safety of our overseas assets.  But

to give this to Barr, when Barr has already shown that he is happy to

engage in this pattern of saying in doing anything –

 

MELBER:  To your point, doesn`t it short circuit the key fight here?  I

mean, we have, as you say, Coats overseas everything, right?  And you have

16 intelligence agencies.  These battles do go on.  And sometimes there are

good faith disagreements.  But this isn`t like getting a second opinion

from a doctor.  This is like getting a second opinion from Rudy Giuliani on

your heart surgery.

 

KIRSCHNER:  Yes.  Or it`s like, you know, asking your dentist about whether

you need a heart surgery.  I mean, this is – it`s mixing apples and

oranges and, frankly, the apples are rotten.

 

And what we`ve already seen is the pattern of Barr saying and doing

anything to support the President, whether it`s no obstruction, no

collusion.  And when we look at the Mueller report, that is untrue, whether

it`s spying, when there is no evidence of illegal conduct by our law

enforcement or intelligence committees or whether it`s misrepresenting

Mueller`s findings so dramatically that Mueller has to write a letter.

 

MELBER:  And that brings us – that brings us to the New Yorker cover.  I

mentioned this on the top of our broadcast.  Sometimes it really captures

it.  We`re going to put on the screen for viewers.  I mean, this is the

shoe shining.  And the difference in this picture that I`d like you to

speak to is Senator Graham and Senator McConnell, they might be criticized

by this acerbic cartoon, but they are political figures.  They can get on

their knees and shine shoes or stand up to the people in their party. 

They`re political.  Is there something wrong with Mr. Barr being in that

same category given his constitutional obligations?

 

KIRSCHNER:  Yes, there is, Ari.  Because as the head of, basically, law

enforcement, as the Attorney General, he is assisting the President in

weaponizing our law enforcement function.  And the whole thing is obviously

to help distract the American public from all of the evidence of

obstruction of justice, felony offenses that we now know the President

committed.  So, you know, this is just ratcheting up the danger.  And I

think it highlights how Congress`s sort of timidity and not moving forward

is going to continue to inure to the detriment of the American people.

 

MELBER:  It`s well pointed and I think it`s an important issue.  Glenn

Kirschner, as always, thank you.

 

KIRSCHNER:  Thanks Ari.

 

MELBER:  Taking a turn to a totally different and new story, Donald Trump

helping spread distorted videos of Speaker Pelosi.  She is responding. 

It`s a new war of propaganda.  We`ll tell you how to be able to respond

against it.  We will back in 30.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  This is a new story and it`s one you need to know about as a news

or political consumer, a doctored video going totally viral online, Fox

Business attacking Speaker Pelosi with these highly edited clips, Donald

Trump and his allies fanning the flames.  This starts with Pelosi rattling

Donald Trump politically.  You may have heard about all of that.  But I

want to show you something here.  Take a look at the real video that

started this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PELOSI:  We want to give this President the opportunity to do something

historic for our country.  The fact is something happened there.  So I pray

for him and I pray for the United States of America.

 

MELBER:  So that`s what the Speaker said in public.  People can take it and

agree or disagree with it.  If you want to disagree with it in a democracy,

you`d want to know what she really said.

 

But now, for purposes of truth, I`m going to show you briefly what a new

political group is doing.  These are opponents of Pelosi altering the video

to make it sound like she was somehow slurring her words.  And this

propaganda, meaning this version of something that didn`t actually happen

the way it is present has already gotten over 2 million views online.

 

So, again, I`m airing this as a – if you want to call it this, a kind of

informational inoculation, so you or your friends or anyone you talk to, if

they are talking about this, this is what is happening online with

propaganda and this is not the whole story.  Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PELOSI:  We want to give this president the opportunity to do something

historic for our country.  The fact is something happened there.  So I pray

for him and I pray for the United States of America.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  In a way, you can argue it`s subtle.  But take a look at what`s

happening.  After Donald Trump says Pelosi is a mess, who lost it, meaning

there is a larger arc of trying the discredit her as somehow not all there.

 

Trump last night re-Tweets a Fox Business segment that has a video montage

from a 20 minute news conference.  Now, it`s not slowed down but it`s

edited together to try to also suggest that she keeps stumbling over her

words.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PELOSI:  – took no longer on the floor – the custody of the border patrol

– border.  Everyone started making – sending signals – the U.S., Canada,

Mexico.  That`s not the accurate – some people call it after NAFTA, some

call it NAFTA 2.0.  We`re together to make – pass that not – if – the

three things, the three things, there are three things.

 

We`re very busy people.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  This is a bit of a new step in information political warfare, and

it`s a way that video editing and online sharing and all of this stuff we

keep hearing about is reinforcing a political message from the top.  Now,

Donald Trump, the president was asked about all this today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Some of the altered videos that are being

disseminated – is that going too far?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, I don`t know about the

videos.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President, what do you hope to accomplish with your

personal attacks on the Speaker?

 

TRUMP:  Excuse me.  This shows how fake you and the news are.  When you say

– when you say a personal attack, did you hear what she said about me long

before I went after her.  She said terrible things so I just responded in

kind.  Look, you think Nancy is the same as she was.  She`s not.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  I`m joined by Leah Wright Rigueur, a Professor from Harvard`s

Kennedy School of Government, and Sam Seder Hosts of the Majority Report

radio show.  He`s covered the spread of propaganda and right-wing

propaganda before.  Good evening to both of you.

 

SAM SEDER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Hi.

 

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, PROFESSOR, HARVARD`S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: 

Hi, good evening.

 

MELBER:  Professor, I want to start with the fairest assessment of what

Donald Trump said there in that video which we did not slow down or alter

which is when he asserts that both he and Speaker Pelosi are exchanging

very personal and heated attacks, I think that`s true this week.

 

But then when he also says that it`s the journalists who are “fake not him

or his allies” when they are the ones pushing these I would say sometimes

subtly, sometimes only lightly edited but ultimately misleading and fake

material.  He`s trying to once again flip it.

 

What is your analysis and what is important for viewers to know if we`re

gonna go into a campaign season we`re gonna see more and more of this part

in the term, but crap.

 

RIGUEUR:  Right.  I mean, you know, the one thing that Donald Trump has

latched onto is the idea that this is fake news.  And quite literally he is

spreading fake news.  He is spreading propaganda, a conspiracy theorist

video that has been you know edited and shifted and has used his platform

in a way that has spread this misinformation to millions of people and

continues to spread even after the video has been debunked repeatedly.

 

The – I think important thing for people to recognize here or a couple of

important things is that the rules of engagement have really changed. 

There have always been dirty tricks in political campaigns and presidential

campaigns, but right now we have the leader of the free world essentially

operating by a different set of rules, a different set of beliefs, a

different set of values that suggest using misinformation in kind of this

viral sense and spreading it to his platform is perfectly legitimate for

other people but not for him and that any criticism of this is to be

critiqued and to be attacked you know, as a means of avoiding

accountability.

 

I think the other thing here too to keep in mind is just how unprepared

social media platforms really are for this kind of misinformation

particularly than the lead-up to the 2020 presidential campaign.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  And that`s what we`re headed.  I mean, Sam the saying life

comes at you fast, well, the internet comes at you faster.  You know,

viewers – loyal viewers may know – I sat down with Congressman Schiff

this week.

 

And while we talked about some of the big headlines I also asked him about

upcoming hearings which haven`t even happened yet on how foreign

governments can use what`s called deep fakes which is even more

sophisticated than what we just showed but involve these completely

orchestrated videos, that they might do that to attack the U.S.

 

For your analysis, this again was this week before this story broke.  Take

a look at his answer.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Going forward into the next election, there`s

this new technology called deep fake technology that allows you to produce

very easily and very inexpensively highly realistic, almost

indistinguishable from real fake video and fake audio.  And the ability to

show the electorate that this is false would be almost impossible.

 

It`s hard to imagine something more corrosive to a democracy than an

environment in which the truth doesn`t matter anymore.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Sam, if it`s scary or it`s depressing, what do you say to viewers

watching about how to not get fooled?

 

SEDER:  I mean, it`s gonna be hard and frankly.  I mean, I saw some of that

audio technology a couple of years ago, actually, and it really – it is

scary.  And I think you know, to a certain extent you`re going to need

context and you`re going to need a generation of news delivers or reporters

or outlets that are arbiters of this stuff.

 

I mean, Facebook has refused to take down the Pelosi video.  I mean, that

makes sense to some extent.  I mean, you know, theoretically it can be just

like a comedy video or something like that, but it really is problematic

when you have the President who is basically pushing this line and then he

has an entire network that is also pushing this line.

 

You mentioned Fox Business, it was all over Fox & Friends this morning

where they were talking about this entire push to make Nancy Pelosi look

like she`s you know, sort of losing her mind, losing a step I think is what

Trump said.

 

So I mean, I think it`s gonna involve citizens leaning in a little bit more

on this stuff and being a little bit more skeptical.  And frankly, you

know, I think that`s gonna be a big problem.

 

MELBER:  Well, Sam, do you think briefly that it can change eventually the

culture of how we get information.  I mean, speed is so important but could

we get to a point where people say oh yes, I saw that.  I heard about that. 

I`m gonna wait till tomorrow and find out on the fact checkers whether it`s

even real.

 

SEDER:  Yes.  I think the hardest time for stuff like this for society is

when technology has moved so quickly and people`s habits and the way that

they digest information has yet to catch up with it.  I mean, in 30 years I

think people will probably be significantly more sophisticated about this

stuff. 

 

But right now we`re still as consumers of news and information, we are

still operating in a sort of a pre-fakery, pre-social media world.  And I

think we`re catching up.  I mean, the younger generation on some level may

have a little bit more skill in deciphering this stuff but it`s a problem.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  Professor, briefly, your students, are they prepped for

this?

 

RIGUEUR:  My students are well prepared, in part because part you know,

part of what our role is as educators is teaching students critical

analysis and thinking skills.  You know, chief amongst them, be skeptical

of your sources, know your sources.

 

So if it seems suspicious, if it seems too good to be true, if it seems you

know, just a little bit off, look at the original source.  Even when – you

know, even when it doesn`t, even when things seem to line up, look at the

original source.  Look at who is distributing this and what – you know,

what is the context around that.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  Leah Wright Rigueur and Sam Seder, thank you so much.  We`Re

gonna take a turn.  Coming up, a controversy over a very real video of

police arresting this 12-year-old covering his head with a so-called spit

mask.  And later, “FALLBACK FRIDAY.”  We got a big show.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  Tonight, a video of the controversial arrest of a 12-year-old boy

in Sacramento including the use of a so-called “spit mask” is going viral

and sparking very serious concerns.  The Facebook video was recorded from a

bystanders camera.  Officers handcuffed this 12-year-old outside his door. 

Police alleged trespassing and stealing.  Police body cam video showing the

boy asked why the arrest.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What am I under arrest for?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just relax, dude.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hold on bud.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What am I under arrest for?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just relax.  Dude, look, if you resist, it`s going to

be a problem.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  On the video, a private security guard can be seen telling the

police that the child was trespassing and asking shoppers to buy things for

him which the family denies.  Later video shows the child then put on the

ground, the boy using profanity and appears to admit to spitting on the

officer.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you have a spit mask, dude?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I spit on you (BLEEP).  I spit on your (BLEEP).

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, he is just a little terrorizer.  He spits on me

like three times on the face.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  On who?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  On me, on the face.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  That is important context, the officers say, for what has become

one of the most controversial parts of this video, the use of this quote

spit mask over the boy`s head.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Take this bag off my head.  Take this bag off my head. 

Take this bag off my head.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  I`m joined by Mark Harris, the attorney representing the child`s

family.  Good evening to you.  Is this a case in your view about excessive

force and escalation by the police regardless of any underlying offense or

do you view it as more important because you say the boy did nothing wrong?

 

MARK HARRIS, LAWYER:  Ari, thank you so much for having me on your show. 

Let me make one thing clear.  There is no underlying offense.  There is no

underlying offense.  The police story has changed several times since this

whole thing occurred on Easter Sunday evening.

 

My client was attending a carnival, a neighborhood carnival with his family

and an adult chaperone.  He was asked to go to the adult chaperon`s car and

remove some change to bring back to the carnival which is what he was doing

when he was confronted by the palette and security guard.

 

The security guard then came up with this whole cockamamie story about why

it is he confronted my client in the first place.  And I think honestly,

this twelve-year-old was subject to existing while black, attending a

carnival while black.  This is ridiculous.  And for the police to have the

story change as many times as it has.

 

First, they said he was stealing.  That`s not true.  Then they said he was

asking people for money.  That`s not true.  If they have any shred of

evidence to prove either of those, we`d be happy to receive it and I would

stand corrected.  But that`s not what happened.  This child was singled out

and treated inappropriately.

 

MELBER:  When you look at – when you look at this and the wider cases that

I think viewers are familiar with from around the country that range in the

level of escalation, what is your message then to police who in some cases

are being accused of targeting and escalating situations with black men and

especially in this case a 12 year old black boy, I guess.

 

HARRIS:  Thank you, yes, a child.  I would say something very simple.  A

lot of police cars have this on the side of their car doors.  If the police

forget it, they need to take a look, protect and to serve.  In this

situation they served up this 12-year-old young man and exacerbating the

situation when his mother LaToya Downs showed up, they treated her

disrespectfully.

 

She saw her son in the back of a police car handcuffed, in a bag, and

saying I can`t breathe and they refuse to take the bag off of him.

 

MELBER:  I`m short on time but you mentioned the mother who of course is

your client and I know that was powerful.  Let`s listen to her voice here. 

Take a look.

 

HARRIS:  Please.

 

LATOYA DOWNS, MOTHER:  He`s a boy.  You all scare him.  Do you know how

many times he`s got in front of officers, and they`ve been racial to him?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt a

child.

 

DOWNS:  No, but he don`t know that.  You guys need to come out and talk to

the kids.  You guys need to more communicate with the kids because they`re

scared of you.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  I`m over on time but in a sentence or two, where do we go from

here?

 

HARRIS:  I`ve been in direct communication with Mayor Darrell Steinberg of

Sacramento.  We`re trying to work some things through.  It`s humanity.  I

hope that the city of Sacramento and the country understands this is a

matter of humanity when we`re dealing with a child.

 

MELBER:  We wanted to hear your perspective when we saw that video of your

clients there.  Mark Harris, thank you so much.  We`re gonna fit in a break

and when we come back, I am very excited to have John Flannery and Tee

Grizzley on “FALLBACK FRIDAY.”

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  It`s Friday on THE BEAT so you know it`s time to fall back.  I am

joined tonight by rapper and songwriter Tee Grizzley.  He`s 25 years old. 

His first single went triple platinum.  His songs have been streamed over a

billion times in his debut album.  Last year hit ten on the Billboard 200. 

He just announced his new album Scriptures is coming out June 7th.

 

Also with us, friend of the show John Flannery.  He worked as a Federal

Prosecutor in the 1970s prosecuting everything from a mob prison break to

bribery charges against a U.S. congressman, and he also worked right there

you see it right alongside Rudy Giuliani, and as a special counsel for the

Democratic minority defending President Clinton during that impeachment.

 

Great to have you both here.

 

TEE GRIZZLEY, RAPPER:  Good to see you again.

 

MELBER:  John. you`re a regular.  I`ll let you kick us off.  Who needs to

fall back?

 

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Who needs to fall back?  Well,

I`ll tell you, I won`t be doing any singing but I am a little concerned

about our HUD Secretary not having a list of acronyms that lets him know

what the primary projects are.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  That got – that got awkward pretty quickly.  Let`s take a

look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA):  Do you know what an REO is?

 

BEN CARSON, SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT:  And Oreo?

 

PORTER:  R – no, not an Oreo, an REO, REO.

 

CARSON:  Real Estate –

 

PORTER:  What`s the O stand for.

 

CARSON:  Organization.

 

PORTER:  Owned, Real Estate Owned.  That`s what happens when a property

goes to foreclosure.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

FLANNERY:  Well, you know, maybe we should have foreclosed on him earlier

and never give him a chance to be on the property given what he doesn`t

know.  After two years, you think he might pick up a couple of things on

one of the principal programs.

 

MELBER:  Right.  It might sound like a gotcha question to a lot of normal

folks like I`m not that familiar with that term.  But if you are literally

running Housing and Urban Development, you might want to be familiar with

it.

 

My “FALLBACK” actually is a fellow rapper of yours and one who is beloved

which is Drizzy Drake.

 

GRIZZLEY:  OK.

 

MELBER:  But take a look at him at this NBA game, right, at the Raptors

game.  He is getting involved all over the place.  That`s fine.  He`s got

the great courtside seats and he`s standing around he`s cheering.  But then

what we`re going to see here is he starts getting really involved.

 

There he is with the quick shoulder rub.  He`s pointing, he`s hugging,

there he`s hugging, that`s the opposing coach.  And then at one point, he`s

hugging the Raptors mascot.  I mean, is it a little too much?

 

GRIZZLEY:  I mean, I`m not gonna lie.  I saw people excited about they

hometown teams.

 

MELBER:  OK.

 

GRIZZLEY:  So this is not my first time seeing something like this.

 

MELBER:  So you think as long as it comes from a place of love.

 

GRIZZLEY:  Yes.  Yes.  I know people that go hard for a hometown.

 

MELBER:  What do you think, John?

 

FLANNERY:  I don`t know.  It looked pretty over the top.  I think it was

facilitated by something else.

 

MELBER:  And maybe look, I`m gonna be real.  I`ll try to keep it real here. 

Maybe I`m just jealous of that Raptor.  And I want that Drake hug.

 

FLANNERY:  Right.

 

MELBER:  That`s what it really comes down to.  Now, Tee, you are very big

online.  You got this big following, but I heard that one of your fall

backs is sort of about the way we`re living now with phones.

 

GRIZZLEY:  Yes, texting and crossing the street.

 

MELBER:  Which people are doing.

 

GRIZZLEY:  People do that.  That`s crazy to me.  Like not only is it a law,

not only can you get a ticket, like you can die.  It`s dangerous.  You can

get injured.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  So for our viewers watching when they say, OK, you got a

billion streams, people are consuming everything on their phone, what is it

about this younger generation that can`t get off the phone sometimes.

 

GRIZZLEY:  I feel like we got to just prioritize.  Do what you got to do

first.  You know, cross the street first. Drive to your destination first. 

Let`s finish this conversation first before you start texting.

 

MELBER:  I do want to comment while I have you both here or looking at just

two of you together, such striking neckwear but different neckwear.

 

FLANNERY:  Yes, I told him I felt undressed because I didn`t have any

bling, but he doesn`t have a bow tie so it kind of –

 

GRIZZLEY:  Right.

 

MELBER:  I think you have style.

 

FLANNERY:  I`m depreciating – I`m depreciating it just by showing next to

him.

 

MELBER:  You both have style, you`re just – you`re from different

generations.  I want you to be 100 percent honest.  What do you think of

the American flag bow tie?

 

GRIZZLEY:  American flag bow tie?  I`ll rock with it.

 

MELBER:  You rock with it.

 

FLANNERY:  Tee and I, we`re good.

 

MELBER:  What are do you think – because I have seen this before, he`s got

incredible bling.

 

FLANNERY:  I`m envious.

 

MELBER:  What is this here, Grizzley?

 

GRIZZLEY:  It`s a Grizzley (INAUDIBLE) which is my label.

 

MELBER:  And it`s really shiny.  How does it get that shiny?  I`m not

knowledgeable about these things.

 

GRIZZLEY:  I feel like the bigger the dollar amount, the shinier it gets.

 

MELBER:  I also saw that you`ve been working with a range of artist.  You

worked with Jeezy.  What was that like?

 

GRIZZLEY:  It was inspirational and a learning process at the same time.  I

like working with artists and people who have been in this industry longer

than I have because I strive to do that.  You know, they pick up stuff

along the way that I haven`t crossed paths with yet so it was like – he`s

like a mentor and mentee thing.

 

MELBER:  And Jeezy and Flannery are actually both Trump critics.  Did you

know that?

 

FLANNERY:  No, I didn`t.

 

MELBER:  Jeezy said –

 

FLANNERY:  I`m glad to hear it.

 

MELBER:  Jeezy said my president was black, now my president is wack.  I`m

never going broke.  What`s more American than that?

 

FLANNERY:  Love it.  Love it.  Perfect.  More elected officials should

listen to him.

 

MELBER:  Next time we do this, you bring Giuliani, you bring Jeezy, and

we`ll run it back.  John Flannery and Tee Grizzley, thanks to both of you

for being in “FALLBACK FRIDAY.”  And we will be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  One more news item.  A federal judge blocked the restrictive

abortion ban in Mississippi.  It would prohibit abortions after six weeks

of pregnancy.  Mississippi was, of course, part of several states we`ve

been covering that have passed these new anti-abortion laws just this year.

We wanted to get you that update and we`ll keep on those stories.

 

That does it for me in The Beat.  Then I`ll see you back here next week. 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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