George Floyd’s killing TRANSCRIPT: 6/3/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Dr. Peter Hotez, as we are looking at
these images of crowds and I can`t get that thought out of my mind, I
really appreciate you coming on tonight. Thank you.
DR. PETER HOTEZ, SCIENTIST: Thank you.
HAYES: If you`ve been at one of those protests and you have testing
capacity in your state, go get a test. I think that`s a good idea.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for being with us this hour. Happy to have you
Tonight, in just a couple of minutes, we are going to be speaking live with
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. It is Attorney General Ellison
who today announced enhanced charges for the one Minneapolis police officer
who had already been charged in the death of George Floyd, in police
custody, in Minneapolis. Attorney General Ellison today also announced
charges for the first time against the other three officers who took part
in that arrest and who were present and looking on while George Floyd was
killed in that interaction with police.
Attorney General Ellison again announced those charges today. He will be
with us live in just a moment.
As will Senator – excuse me California senator and former California
attorney general, Kamala Harris. She is going to be joining us live tonight
I`m very much looking forward to speaking with those guests this evening.
We will also, of course, be keeping an eye onion going protests in multiple
cities tonight, where we have reporters on the grown, on this ninth night
of large protests in America, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Lots of curfews in effect in American cities large and small tonight.
Curfews seem to have had an effect, of the sort of level of mayhem we saw
into the late night last night, but we will be eyes open tonight, coast to
coast, again, with reporters in multiple cities, as these protests
And as we watch to see what the impact may be on these protests, of the new
charges, announced today, for the officer whose knee was on the neck of
George Floyd when he apparently died in custody, and the other officers who
were looking on, and part of that arrest when it happened.
When James Mattis resigned as defense secretary, a year and a half ago, it
was Christmas week, 2018, you might remember that his resignation letter
was a big point of news interest. He said in his resignation letter that he
believed the United States needed to maintain strong alliances and show
respect to our allies. He said we must be resolute and unambiguous in our
approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly
intentioned with ours. He specifically named Russia and China as
essentially adversaries of ours that are trying to, quote, shape a world
consistent with their authoritarian model.
General Mattis in resigning as Trump`s defense secretary said, quote, my
views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about
maligned actors and strategic competitors are strongly held.
You, Mr. President, have the right to have a secretary of defense whose
views are better aligned with yours.
If you knew what he meant, and if you read between the lines just a little
bit, you could tell from that resignation letter that General James Mattis
was resigning from the Trump administration because Trump was cozying up to
authoritarian dictators, and screwing off our allies, and General Mattis
thought that was dangerous, and so that`s why he resigned. That is what he
said in his resignation letter but he said it in such a nice way.
Months later, General Mattis came out with a book about his time in the
military, and his time in public life. The book, essentially, skirted the
Trump presidency entirely. And then General Mattis said over and over again
on his strange book promotion tour in which he was determined not to make
any news, he said over and over again while promoting that book that he
wouldn`t talk about his time as Trump`s defense secretary, or what he saw
from his vantage point in his role inside the Trump administration, he
would not talk publicly about what he thought American citizens should know
about the president whose employ he just quit. He said he wouldn`t, quote,
kiss and tell. He said, quote, there is a period in which I owe my silence.
Well, tonight, that period of silence from General Mattis has now ended.
And it`s a statement, from General Mattis, that`s just been published by
reporter Jeffrey Goldberg in the “Atlantic Magazine”. In the statement,
General Mattis titles it, “In Union, There is Strength”.
He says, quote, I have watched this week`s unfolding event, angry and
appalled. The words, equal justice under law, are carved in the pediment of
the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are
rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand, one that all of
us should be able to get behind.
We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests
are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting
that we live up to our values, our values as people and our values as a
nation. When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to
support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking
that same oath would be ordered under any circumstances to violate the
constitutional rights of their fellow citizens, much less to provide a
bizarre photo-op for the elected commander in chief, with military
leadership standing alongside.
Military leadership standing alongside. I`m just going to interrupt myself
and interrupt this statement for a second here just so I can show you what
General Mattis is referencing here. This is something we`ve talked about
this week since it happened, the fact that President Trump really was
accompanied by the Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, wearing combat fatigues when
the administration ordered the gas and the beatings to attack peaceful
protesters, in the park across from the White House, so the president could
walk across that park, and pose for pictures on the other side of it.
I mean, it says a lot for the president himself, to do that. With like his
daughter alongside him, and the attorney general, who apparently ordered
the attack on the protesters, and a bunch of White House staffers with him,
or whatever. But it actually means something else to us as a republic, and
it means something else to our military, to have the defense secretary,
representing the Defense Department, and the chairman of Joint Chiefs of
Staff there, representing the United States military, taking part in that
photo-op as well, again, a photo op for which American citizens peacefully
demonstrating were gassed and beaten.
So, the presence of Esper and Milley at that event this week, that is what
General Mattis is criticizing there in his statement.
Back to the statement. He says, quote: We must reject any thinking of our
cities as battlespace, that our uniformed military is called upon to
dominate. That is something that Mark Esper, secretary of defense, said on
a call with the president and nation`s governors this week, calling the
streets battlespace saying the military should dominate that battlespace.
General Mattis continues. Quote: At home, we should use our military only
when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors.
Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a
conflict – a false conflict between military and civil society. It erodes
the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in
uniform and the society that they are sworn to protect and of which they
themselves are a part. Keeping public orders rests with civilian, state and
local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to
James Mattis wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of
troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to
a foreign ambition than American disunited with 100,000 veterans ready for
We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite
around a common purpose, and it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are
equal before the law. Instructions given by the military departments to our
troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that the Nazi slogan
for destroying us, was divide and conquer. Our American answer is, in
union, there is strength.
Mattis says, we must summon that unity to surmount this crisis, confident
that we are better than our politics. He says, quote, Donald Trump is the
first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American
people, does not even pretend to try, instead he tries to divide us.
We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate
effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature
leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in
our civil society.
This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to
our fellow citizens, to past generations that bled to defend our promise
and we owe it to our children. We can come through this trying time
stronger and a renewed sense of purpose and a respect for one another. The
pandemic has shown us that this is not only our troops that are willing to
offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in
hospitals, grocery store, post offices, and elsewhere, have put their lives
on the line, in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country.
We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we
witnessed in Lafayette Park. We must reject and hold accountable those in
office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.
And it is signed, James Mattis.
Marine General James Mattis, defense secretary under this president until a
year and a half ago, with a remarkable statement, saying the president has
ordered troops to violate American`s constitutional rights. That the
president is using the same strategy against the United States, that Nazi
Germany used against the United States in World War II. General Mattis
saying that the crises we are experiencing now are the result of President
Trump`s three years of deliberate effort to divide the country.
General Mattis saying the president is abusing his executive authority,
that he and his nation administration, including the military leadership
and the Defense Department leadership that is supporting what the president
is doing right now, Mattis says they are making a mockery of our
Constitution and they all must be rejected and held accountable. I guess
this is the time he felt like he needed to speak out.
So that happened today. That`s one of the things that happened today. You
know, in a normal time, in a normal presidency, the president and his
party, having to abandon the site of his party`s nominating convention for
his re-election effort, less than three months before that convention was
due to start, in a normal presidency, even in a normal troubled presidency,
that would be a huge story. They can`t have their convention? It`s June and
they just found out they can`t have their convention where they were going
to have it in August?
I mean, today, in this time of multiple crises, that otherwise huge news
barely even made a ripple outside of the city that was going to host the
Republican convention that`s no longer going to host it.
And I should tell you, the way it is making a ripple in that city`s major
newspaper can be summed up pretty tightly in the “Charlotte Observer`s”
headline on this editorial they posted this afternoon. Good riddance. They
don`t even want it anymore.
The president had insisted that the Republican convention to formally
nominate him as the Republican Party`s candidate for president this year,
he has insisted that the convention must be held without any social
distancing measures at all, without any face coverings, he wanted it to be
big and in person and everybody together, in the same room, no accounting
for COVID risk at all.
Well, in a letter yesterday, North Carolina`s governor made clear that the
state could not promise any such thing. And, of course, they can`t
Have you seen what North Carolina`s curve looks like in terms of its new
cases right now? This is their new cases right now. You want to bring tens
of thousands of people together from all over the country, in the same
room, indoors, for days on end, with no social distancing, and no masks?
When North Carolina already looks like this right now, really? No. That is
not going to happen. And so, the Republican convention is not going to
happen as planned in North Carolina.
Word then spread today that maybe the Republican Party would do their
convention in Nashville, Tennessee, instead. OK. Well, Tennessee is not
looking that much better right now, along those same lines. But sure, knock
your socks off. And you know, good luck if Tennessee isn`t right for you,
either, in terms of the health risks of getting tens of thousands of people
together there, and pretending there`s no pandemic anymore.
Because for the whole start of the coronavirus epidemic, in this country,
the case numbers and the death numbers were driven by a pretty small number
of states that had, were afflicted terribly with this thing while everybody
else was doing OK. But now we`re further into it. The epidemic here is
older and more mature, and now the states that had it the worst.
Places like New York and New Jersey, and Connecticut, and Michigan, they`re
all coming way back down. They`ve done the work. They`re starting to come
out the other side of it.
I mean, the problem is not New York now. Just for comparison, I mean,
there`s New York, on the left. There`s Tennessee on the right. Leave New
York out there on the left. Put up North Carolina on the right, right?
I mean, there`s, this is two very different scenarios. How about we try and
move the Republican convention to Arizona? Let`s put Arizona up there on
the right. That might not be a good idea there either.
Maybe we`ll go to the deeper south, try it in Arkansas. How about Arkansas?
Look at Mississippi right now. How about we take it to Mississippi? That
would be a friendly territory, right?
South Carolina? Yeah.
You know, we were counting for all these weeks on the American epidemic
shrinking because states hit early like New York and New Jersey, were
getting through it. And their numbers were starting to go down. Well, yes,
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, all these initially hard-hit
places, were getting through it. And their curves are going down, down,
But as the rest of the country starts going up, up, up, look at the end of
the graph there, on the right, this is American deaths, are starting to,
this says the reported coronavirus cases by day, this is actually a death
graph, not a cases graph, but look at the right side of it, American deaths
are starting to tick back up again.
And that is not because the initial hard-hit states are still being hard
hit. They`re not. Their death counts are dropping. This is all of the other
surging cases in the country outside of the Northeast, taking over the body
count themselves now as it is starting to tick back up in the United
And, you know, what`s the limit here? What is the ceiling we think are
headed for with new case curves that look like in all of these states now?
Wishing and hoping and choosing to believe that the coronavirus epidemic is
going away isn`t the same thing as it going away.
I mean, this week, as the president decided he needed to move the
Republican convention this summer out of North Carolina, because North
Carolina`s governor insisted on remembering that we are in the middle of a
viral epidemic and their curve looks like this, I mean, this week, we`ve
got big new outbreaks in weird new places. A fishing fleet in Washington
state turned around its big factory trawler fishing boats after most of the
crew on the 126 sailors onboard one of their trawlers tested positive.
Another 200-plus cases out of a paper products manufacturing plant in
Kansas City, paper products manufacturer. Also, an outbreak among the
construction crew working on the new football stadium at the University of
Alabama. How about a Tennessee farm, where the owner says 100 percent of
the more than 200 farm workers on-site are positive there?
And, of course, the places where the epidemic is the worst aren`t getting
any better. Another 591 workers test positive at a Tyson Meat plant this
time in Storm Lake, Iowa. That huge outbreak at that Tyson meat plant in
Storm Lake, Iowa, has made that county one of the most infected places on
earth right now, per capita.
Also, a federal prison, in Butner, North Carolina, where they are only now
just getting around to testing everyone, after six prisoners died there in
eight days. They`re finally realizing, hmm, maybe we ought to test
everybody. Six people dead in eight days.
The way our federal government is dealing with the pandemic now is just not
to deal with it. Just to decide that it`s not happening, it`s over, it`s an
old story. We would rather talk about other things now. But they`re also
dismantling their effort, that they use to in effectually deal with it thus
I mean, the coronavirus task force isn`t really meeting anymore. The top
infectious disease expert in the U.S. government, Tony Fauci, says he`s not
meeting with the White House or the government anymore.
The man in charge of coronavirus testing for the administration, the
testing czar is resigning from that job now. And the plan is to not replace
him with anyone. Because why bother? They`re just not going to work on that
at the federal level anymore, which seems especially (AUDIO GAP) as a
country have been spending the early part of our summer this year.
“The Associated Press” reporting today that in the national uproar against
racism and police use of deadly force in the wake of George Floyd`s death
in Minneapolis, significant demonstrations have taken place in every single
one of the 25 U.S. communities, that have the highest concentrations of new
cases of coronavirus. So in the places in America, where the coronavirus
epidemic is growing the fastest, when they got the highest concentrations
of new cases, we`ve had demonstrations in every single one of those 25
places, and we will see whatever the impact may be on the pandemic in the
next couple of weeks, as the case numbers start to turn up, as people start
to get tested, as people start to get sick, as people start to turn up at
But as crazy as the news is right now, I do actually think it`s helpful, it
is dark, but it is helpful, to keep a sort of wide frame of understanding,
in terms of how all of these things fit together, because these crises are
not unrelated. And they inter-lock in ways that are at times mutually
destructive. I mean, it`s all happening at once, right? The failed and
disastrous epidemic response that gave our country the worst epidemic on
earth, and the highest case number on earth, and the highest death count by
far and still growing.
That government response, as bad as it has been, really is just being
abandoned now. It really is just being collapsed, even as the numbers start
to climb back up, ominously, in all sorts of states, all across the
country, from California, to Texas, to the Deep South, and beyond.
Alongside that, while the fight against the epidemic is essentially being
abandoned, by this president, as bad as he was in mounting that fight, he
walked away from it now, and now, we have this totally new crisis, in which
the president is ordering armed, in his word, heavily-armed active duty
U.S. troops to be used against the American people on U.S. soil. And as
much as this appears to be driven by the president`s desire to try to look
tough, today, I don`t know if you saw this, today, the president literally
started saying, that he hadn`t actually been rushed to the safety bunker
inside the White House because of protests outside the White House, today
he said, whatever you heard about that, about him being rushed to the
bunker, that was fake news.
Today, he decided to explain that by saying he had gone to that bunker
himself of his own accord because he wanted to inspect the bunker. The
president is a bunker inspector now because he wouldn`t want us to think
that he needed to be moved somewhere for his own safety. He inspects
bunkers. It`s kind of a hobby.
I mean, as much as, as any of this may be driven by something as stupid as
the president`s macho desire to look tougher than he is, to look like a
fake general or some kind of cartoon dictator, his fantasies, however lame
and transparent, have effect in the real world when they take the form of
orders to the U.S. military, and this fantasy of his is about the U.S.
military and he has actually ordered the Pentagon to send armed active duty
U.S. troops from the U.S. Army into the streets of Washington, D.C., to be
deployed against the American people, in American city streets.
Now, is the Defense Department leadership of this country and the military
leadership of this country going to be some sort of bulwark against that
kind of craziness? This has been a remarkable 48 hours in terms of figuring
out that the answer to that is no. Last night, Defense Secretary Mark Esper
told NBC News that he only participated in that photo-op, he only walked
across the park and stood in that church, the photo-op from which they
cleared out all of the protesters with chemical gas and pepper rounds and
beatings, he says he only participated in that photo-op as a represented of
the Department of Defense because, quote, I didn`t know where I was going.
To be clear, they didn`t put a bag over his head and walk him backwards in
circles three times before they sent him across that park. He appeared to
know where he was and last night he told NBC News that he`s only did it
because he didn`t know where he was going. Just, all of a sudden, he said,
look where I am.
Today at the Pentagon, this morning at the Pentagon, Secretary Esper tried
to walk that back, he denied he said that to NBC News. He, in fact, did say
that to NBC News. He implied in this morning`s press briefing at the
Pentagon that, yes, he had known where he was going, when he participated
in that photo-op but he didn`t really mean to be in that photo-op. It was
kind of inadvertent.
Secretary Esper, said though, that he wanted an investigation into U.S.
military helicopters buzzing protesters in D.C. city streets to hit them
with rotor wash and try to terrify them off the streets, said he wanted an
investigation into that and it didn`t look safe to him. He also said that
he disagreed with the president that active duty U.S. soldiers should be
deployed on American streets against the American people. A little burst of
independence from the defense secretary.
It`s interesting. This morning at the Pentagon, it quickly earned him some
headlines about how the White House wasn`t happy about his remarks. This
apparent disagreement with him, him apparently disagreeing with the
president on these matters, the White House press secretary suggested that
Secretary Esper might not be defense secretary for long, depending on how
the president really felt about those remarks.
That was all it took. Defense secretary folded completely. “The Associated
Press” had reported earlier today that these combat trained troops from the
82nd Airborne who had been sent to bases around D.C., ready to deploy on
the streets of D.C., the “A.P.” had reported earlier today, that they were
going to be sent back home, right?
There`s the defense secretary, saying, I don`t believe that the active duty
troops should be here. I don`t believe they should be using these
helicopters this way. We need to look into that. Trying to sort of walk
back the “I didn`t mean to participate in the photo op, maybe that wasn`t a
good idea”. And we get this word from the A.P. that the troops are actually
going back to their bases.
That`s how we thought things were going to go today. A little burst of
independence from a very clearly embarrassed flummoxed and confused defense
secretary. But all it took is the White House, and the White House press
secretary, taking these few little shots at Esper, you might lose your job,
best not take a stance any different from using the president, even if it`s
about your department, and even if it`s about him wanting to use U.S.
troops against the American people and we know you don`t want to do that,
let`s not take a distance that differs from the president whatsoever,
little shots from the White House, remark from the White House press
spokesperson and Secretary Esper got right back in line.
And this is the “Associated Press” reporting later in the day. Quote: Army
Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the “Associated Press” today that he received
notice of the Pentagon order to send about 200 soldiers with the 82nd
Airborne`s immediate response force home, he received word of that order,
just after 10:00 a.m., today. Hours later though, the Pentagon notified the
army secretary that the Defense Secretary Mark Esper had reversed that
earlier decision. McCarthy told the “Associated Press”, he was told about
the reversal after Esper attended a meeting at the White House.
So, it looks like the defense secretary might stand up against some of this
madness, and then he just instantly caved. And then yes, we get General
Mattis, speaking from beyond the political grave today, breaking his
silence. And saying this can`t happen. The current military leadership is
just capitulated entirely. Mattis gets up on his hind legs finally and says
this cannot be.
But a retired defense secretary isn`t much compared to a serving one, who
won`t stand up or whom he stands up for a second and gets immediately
chased back into his hiding hole. And his military counterpart, the
chairman of the joint chiefs, really did put on combat fatigues and strut
around the streets of Washington, D.C. like he was trying on military rule
for size. And he hasn`t said beef about that since he did it.
And the Republicans in Washington are not exactly standing tall on this
one. This was Senator Tom Cotton`s op-ed today in the “New York Times.”
Send in the troop, an overwhelming show of force against the American
people, by armed U.S. soldiers.
As for the rest of his colleagues on the Republican side, well, tomorrow,
they will distinguish themselves by issuing subpoenas to 53 law enforcement
and Obama administration officials, so that they can try to make a crime
out of the investigation into Russia messing with the 2016 election, to
benefit Donald Trump. These 53 subpoenas targeting Obama administration
officials are going out alongside the federal prosecutor that Attorney
General William Barr has already appointed to go after Obama administration
officials who were in office when the Russia investigation started, all to
create an air of criminality around Vice President Biden and the whole
Obama administration, in time for the election in November.
How much will the White House and this president, and the Republican Party
in Washington, use the power of government, and even the power of the U.S.
military, and the power of the U.S. Justice Department, to try to keep this
president in power? And simultaneously, how many thousands more Americans
are going to die between now and the time when we`re supposed to make that
decision as citizens, because of a simultaneous viral epidemic that they
are now basically just letting run its course without any interference?
These things are not just happening at the same time. In some ways, these
are all the same thing. How bad can this get?
MADDOW: The ninth straight day of protests nationwide against the police
killing of George Floyd are still under way at this hour in cities across
the country. The protests continue tonight, including in the nation`s
capital, amid explosive developments in the case today, as Minnesota
Attorney General Keith Ellison announced new charges, a new more serious
charge against Officer Derek Chauvin, the officer who dug his knee into
George Floyd`s neck for nearly nine minutes.
That officer was already facing one count of third degree murder and a
count of second degree manslaughter. After this move by Attorney General
Ellison today, that officer now also faces an additional count of second-
It was third degree murder in the initial set of charges. It is now second-
degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Attorney General Ellison also announced that the other three officers who
were there on the scene when George Floyd was arrested and that knee was on
his neck for more than eight minutes, the other three officers on the scene
of that arrest are now charged with aiding and abetting the murder of
Joining us now is Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Sir, thank you very much for your time tonight. I know this is a very
fraught time and a difficult and busy time for you.
KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, thank you. Glad to be
BURNETT: Just tell us, in basic terms, why you made this decision, to add
this additional charge for Officer Chauvin.
ELLISON: Because after researching, we looked and found additional
evidence, we continued to investigate, we had, you know, medical examiner
evidence coming in, we reviewed tape, and we came to the conclusion that
these charges were warranted, second-degree murder charges were supported
by the fact which we believe we can prove in a court of law.
And then the additional charges against the other three, it`s very clear
that the assault which ended up being a murder was aided and abetted by
these officers in many ways, not only by sitting on him, but including
that, by watching out, by failing to render aid, there were a number of
failures, despite the fact that he had multiple pleas for help. The crowd
was asking for Mr. Floyd to getting help. And he was – those pleas were
ignored, long after he had become absolutely defenseless and unresponsive.
So those things I think support the charges and the facts that we have been
gathering to support those charges.
BURNETT: Let me ask – it`s been a couple of days since you were brought in
to take over this case, this investigation, these prosecutions, are you
saying that you looked at evidence that the county attorney didn`t look at,
when he made the initial decision to charge Officer Chauvin with third
degree, not second-degree murder? Or is that that you looked at essentially
the same evidence that the county attorney looked at, but you interpreted
it differently than he did?
ELLISON: Additional evidence has come in since then, and in fact, the
County Attorney Mike Freeman and I have been in contact, he`s a partner in
the case. And so, with the new evidence we`ve seen, the evidence we
acquired, and with some fresh eyes all together, we decided jointly that
these were the right charges on all four.
And, in fact, I will tell you this, Rachel, you know, we`re continuing to
investigate. We`re continuing to gather information. I am absolutely
confident that these charges are supported by the facts that we can prove
in court, but we remain on the lookout for more evidence.
And we – so, we`ve asked people, if you have more videotape, you have more
information about this case, we are hoping that people would continue to
come forward, and that we can continue to find out more about what really
happened at 38th and Chicago in the city of Minneapolis about nine days
MADDOW: I know that you are constrained by how much detail you can give us
about the evidence in the case, because this all has to happen in court.
But one of the things that we talked about –
MADDOW: – a few days ago when we spoke was the issue of body camera
footage, and we know from the criminal complaint that we believe all of the
officers involved here, not only were wearing body cams, but they were on.
Can you tell us if the evidence from those body cameras on all of the
officers is important evidence, and if the public should expect to
ultimately see that, before the trial, or if that will not be something
that will be made publicly available?
ELLISON: Well, I can tell you it is very important, it was a factor in our
considerations. I can tell you that I just don`t know what the timeline is
for releasing that information.
But I do hold the value of transparency very highly, I think it`s
important. The public does have a right to know. But from my standpoint, a
higher value is securing convictions against these four defendants.
MADDOW: There is almost no – no history in Minnesota of convicting police
officers for crimes on the job. There`s obviously one very high profile
exception to that, in recent years, in which a black officer was convicted
after shooting a white woman on the job.
But aside from that, Minnesota police officers don`t tend to get convicted,
even when, in the rare instance, when they do get charged.
Do you feel yourself sort of up against the weight of that history? And do
you feel like your office has a clear view of how to get around that lack
ELLISON: Yes, I do. But let me tell you, I just – I just remind people of
the difficulty of these cases, because when they see the tape, to them,
it`s just so clear. But I say you know what, the way this plays in the
courtroom, it`s going to be different.
And people who are, you know, social justice advocates, who have strong
views about this case, probably will not make it on to the jury. And that`s
just the way we do jury selection in the United States. You have to pretty
much say that you can keep your mind open and don`t have any preconceived
notions. So that jury will be comprised of people who probably weren`t out
at the rallies.
So it is very important that folks understand that these cases are not
easy, but it`s also important for people to understand that this case –
these four defendants should be convicted. They did the conduct that
violated these criminal statutes. And I would not have charged them
otherwise. And they should be convicted. And we will work to make sure –
MADDOW: Minnesota Attorney General –
ELLISON: – that they are.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, now leading the prosecution in
the George Floyd murder case, again, announcing new charges today against
the lead officer in that arrest and the other three officers who are on the
Sir, I know it`s a really busy time. Thanks for taking time to help us
understand tonight. Good luck.
ELLISON: Thank you, ma`am. Absolutely. Have a good day.
MADDOW: In just a moment, I need to tell you, I have just learned, we are
going to get reaction to these new charges from the attorney for George
Floyd`s family, Benjamin Crump. He is going to be joining us live in
reaction to this news in just a moment. And we`re going to be speaking with
Senator Kamala Harris of California.
Lots to come tonight. Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Joining us now live is Benjamin Crump. He is the lead attorney for
the family of George Floyd who was killed in Minneapolis, a week ago
Mr. Crump, I should tell you, has also represented the families of Ahmaud
Arbery, the young African-American man shot in February while jogging in
Georgia. He also represented the family of Breonna Taylor, the young
African-American woman who was shot in March in her Louisville, Kentucky,
home after police entered in the middle of the night.
Mr. Benjamin Crump, it is an honor to have you here tonight. Thank you for
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE GEORGE FLOYD FAMILY: The honor is mine,
Rachel. Thank you for always using your voice.
MADDOW: On behalf of the Floyd family, you have called clearly for there to
be criminal charges against all four officers involved in this case. All
four officers have now been charged, all four are arrested, we`ve got mug
shots for all four of these officers now, looking at these mug shot,
knowing these charges have been filed.
Does the family believe this is some measure of justice already?
CRUMP: Well, they are relieved that the Attorney Keith Ellison, Attorney
General Keith Ellison efficiently came in and arrested the officers
finally, Rachel. We all believe that the officers should have been arrested
on the first day, after they just offered no humanity to a man who was
face-down, in handcuffs, and kept a knee on his neck, kept two knees on his
back, that our autopsy found compressed his lungs, and didn`t allow air to
contract to in take and dispense oxygen and deny oxygen to his brain.
One of the witnesses, Darnell Williams (ph), who was on the scene, Rachel,
said, he compared it to a fish out of water as he was trying for air and
his body stiffens up and it never moves again. He kept saying, he`s the one
on the video, y`all are killing him, and he said, when George stopped
moving and he called for his mama, and after he said, I`m gone now,
literally giving a documentary of his death, he said he knew that George
was dead, and this was confirmed by the EMT when they said he was
unresponsive and post-less, so that ambulance was his hearse.
And so, it was right to charge all of these officers for portraying (ph) –
for just disavowing their oath.
MADDOW: This new second-degree murder charge filed today, against the
initial officer, this new charge levied today by Attorney General Ellison,
it alleges that there was intent to kill him. That`s the difference, the
important difference here, that`s why it is such a larger penalty, it is 40
years in prison maximum if he is convicted of second-degree murder.
Do you believe that second degree murder is the right charge?
CRUMP: Well, obviously, we think that the full extent of the law, whatever
that is, whether it is first degree, whatever the max is, Rachel, we
believe he should be charged. However, Attorney General Keith Ellison told
the family, he would charge them with the maximum he felt he could sustain.
He also told them, Rachel, that if the investigation, as it continues,
discovers evidence that will help his office sustain a conviction for
first-degree murder, then we upgrade the charges, and the family was
relieved, because you may have heard his brother Philonise who was so
passionate saying that the person I slept in the bed with, my big brother,
they killed, they treated him less than an animal, they should stay in
prison for the rest of their lives.
MADDOW: Do you have confidence in the prosecution here, in being able to
prove this? I just spoke with the Attorney General Ellison right before
speaking to you, sir, and I raised with him, the fact that in Minnesota,
there is almost zero track record of police officers being convicted of
anything they have done on the job, one notable exception of a black
officer who was convicted after killing a white woman on the job, but other
than that, we will search the history books to find convictions in the
Do you have confidence that the prosecution knows how to do this, that they
know how to do it beyond a reasonable doubt, that they know how to convince
CRUMP: Well, we do have confidence of the attorney general and his
capabilities basis based on his track record. Also this video gives ocular
proof, and we get to heard, based on the police body cam video what they
were saying which will lead to what was their mentalities at the time.
But I also believe, Rachel, that it is very difficult to convict white
police officers for killing black people in America. I have long argued
that we have two justice systems in America, one for black America, and one
for white America, when we have to have equal justice for the United States
I think this case is a tipping point to show America that we have to have
systemic responses to this police excessive use of daily force against
black and brown people, happening all over the country. And this case can
hopefully speak to those larger issues, but for this case particularly, it
is going to tell us, can black people in America in 2020 get equal justice?
Does America believe in the words of Thomas Jefferson, that we hold these
truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally, that they`re
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that amongst them
are life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Well, that means black
people, too, America. And George Floyd`s life mattered and black lives
MADDOW: Benjamin Crump, attorney for the families of George Floyd, also
Breonna Taylor, also Ahmaud Arbery – Mr. Crump, thank you for your time
tonight. I know this is an incredibly important night. Thank you for
helping us understand the perspective of the family here and your own. It`s
great to have you here, sir.
CRUMP: Thank you, Rachel. I`m a big fan with your work and how you use your
voice for the voiceless.
MADDOW: You are very kind to say so, sir. Thank you.
All right. Senator Kamala Harris is going to join us live next, as we
continue to monitor live protest scenes around the country. That`s Los
Angeles that you`re looking at here. We`re looking at large protests in
Washington, D.C., Seattle, other places in the country tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris is the former attorney
general of the state of California. She`s a former leading presidential
candidate in her party and she is currently a leading vice presidential
contender for this year`s general election.
Senator Harris joins us live now from Washington, D.C.
Senator Harris, it is really good to see you. Thank you for making time to
be here tonight.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Of course, Rachel. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: It is a ninth night of protests tonight –
MADDOW: – including more large protests in Washington, D.C. this time.
Amid the threat of the president using active duty U.S. troops against the
U.S. population on U.S. streets.
I just – I want you to tell me what you think about that in your own
HARRIS: I think that the words of the president were not the words of a
president. They were the words of a dictator.
The fact that he turned tear gas on to a peaceful protest so that they
could pave the way for them to walk through like the emperor with no
clothes, to then hold up the holy bible like it was a prop or a Trump steak
is absolutely further indication of the fact that he is not fit to be
commander in chief and certainly not at this most critical time in our
country when we are facing so much crisis.
And the American people deserve a real commander in chief who concerns
themselves with the wellbeing of the American people, instead of concerning
themselves with spewing hate and division and chaos all the time.
MADDOW: Do you have clarity on what the president has actually ordered and
what the status is of active duty troops? One of the things that I found
very unnerving is that the Pentagon itself appears to be confused. The
Pentagon today appears to have issued a U-turn, a 180 on some orders for
active duty combat trained troops from Ft. Bragg to get sent back home and
then, no, that got reversed and they were held and brought back.
Do you and your colleagues in the Senate actually know what`s happening in
terms of this Rubicon moment that the president wanting active duty troops
HARRIS: I believe there is chaos within and outside the government that has
caused – that has been caused by Donald Trump. And the hope that I have,
the sense of confidence I have in any ability to maintain stability is
placed on those career professionals in the military and in the government
who are fighting against the whims and fancy of the president to do what
they know is in the best interests of the American people and on our
national security. The idea that the president of the United States would
turn the United States military against the people of the United States is
And I applaud General Mattis for his words. But, I mean, Rachel, remember,
we send the men and women in the armed services, our military, we sends
them to fight, to uphold America`s values. One of which is the value we
place on having a democracy, founded and grounded in the Constitution of
the United States, where in its First Amendment is the right for free
expression, where we have the right for free association.
So, the irony, and just the internal conflict around purpose and ideals and
principles is obvious to all of us. And I`m counting on and I think many of
us are counting on, the career professionals, our career military
professionals to do the right thing and to say no to this president when he
engages in this kind of conduct that is immoral and frankly goes against
the very principles and spirit of the Constitution of the United States, a
Constitution that he swore to uphold.
MADDOW: The case at the core of these protests, the George Floyd case, we
just spoke with Attorney General Keith Ellison and with Benjamin Crump, the
family lawyer for the Floyd family, about these new charges today that were
released by – that were announced by the attorney general.
As a former attorney general yourself, do you have confidence in what
attorney general Ellison is doing in Minneapolis? Does it seem to you these
charges are warranted and that all four of these officers should, in fact,
be under arrest tonight?
HARRIS: I do have confidence in General Ellison, Keith Ellison. I know him.
I know him to be someone who takes seriously his responsibilities, and
especially in this case. He clearly has exercised incredible due diligence
looking at the facts of the case and assessing the facts to determine what
the charges should most appropriately be.
But as he said, and I watched his interview with you, it`s not going to be
easy. It will not be easy. And there is one thing that when we know what
happened, it is another thing when the prosecutor has to prove what
happened in a court of law and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt with a
jury of 12 people who are unbiased and unconnected with the case.
But I do have confidence in his ability. And more than anything, I have
confidence in the American people to know an injustice, a blatant injustice
when they`ve seen it. And in this case, in the killing and the murder of
George Floyd, there really is not much that is left to the imagination
around what happened. It`s pretty clear what happened. It happened in front
of us, tragically so, to the point that many are understandably demanding
that we stop showing that video because it is so deeply graphic and
MADDOW: Senator Kamala Harris of California, Senator, it is really good to
see you. Thank you for being with us. I know it`s an incredibly busy time.
Thanks for sharing some time with us.
HARRIS: Thank you. Take care.
MADDOW: All right. That`s going to do it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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