BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,229 of this Trump administration. 155 days to go until the Presidential Election.
And as of our air time tonight, the two biggest cities in our country are now under curfew. This is the seventh night of protests, exactly one week since the death of George Floyd. And there has indeed been trouble in the streets tonight. We want to turn, because it is a breaking news story, to our Senior National Correspondent Chris Jansing tonight in New York City, where the trouble has been at a major landmark, Macy`s Herald Square. Chris?
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We`re right here, Brian, and it was only a couple of minutes ago that three suspects were taken out of the store. This is where it started. Police got a call because there was a fire in this garbage can, and then this store had been breached. And so they got in there very quickly.
I talked to Zio Cogan (ph) who was on the scene almost immediately. He said a couple of suspects got away. Then they were able to detain three more. They were in there for quite a while, maybe at least half an hour. I think we also have some aerial footage you may be looking at of the scene. But there are few places better known in the United States than Macy`s, of the Macy`s Thanksgiving Day parade. It`s stood here since 1901, the big clock above the sign. And today it`s just one of many places where we have seen these signs of vandalism. We were at a Breitling store. Wait, we`re seeing some activity in there. Are we seeing some activity in there?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, police were just brining out another suspect behind you.
JANSING: They were still doing a search, Brian. He told me they had found three, that they caught them getting some merchandise. But here`s a fourth one. You know this store, Brian. You know how big it is. You know how much footage, the largest department store in the world, how complicated and how long it will be for them to go through every inch of this store and try to make sure that there`s nobody else in there.
I can tell you that earlier today we had a situation where there was a brig break-in at a Duane Reade, these ubiquitous drugstores that are all across Manhattan. And the police thought they had everyone there. And what happened was somebody came from downstairs. They had actually been in the basement level, and they found them. So there are a few cops still in there who are going all around Macy`s and trying to make sure that there are no other suspects in there. It would be a very easy place to hide, that`s for sure.
This has been the story after sunset. Place after place after place that we have seen these confrontations. It`s been literally driving down the street, Brian, and you go three blocks, and you see something else. On Fifth Avenue, not far from where you and I work most of the time at 30 Rock, there`s a Breitling store, high-end watch store. They pulled down -- there was a big wooden sort of scaffolding that was blocking the windows. They pulled that down. Within a minute, I`m telling you a minute, police pulled up. There were dozens of people there ready to try to break in, vandalize the place. There were some scuffles, some arrests. Others ran away very, very quickly.
We saw police on foot pursuit. I told you about that Duane Reade where even after police left, there were people still going in and seeing what they could take. It is such a marked contrast to what I saw for hours today. I spent hours marching miles with thousands and thousands of protesters. And I have to tell you when you`re in the middle of a crowd like that and you`re talking to dozens and dozens of people, they want everyone to know why they`re there. They`re there to fight systemic racism. They want people to know another George Floyd would never be acceptable.
And they also -- many of the people I talked to felt very sincerely that this could be a tipping point. This could be an opportunity for change in this country that has been so long coming in major cities, in small cities all around the country. And yet many of them also said to me, please tell people this is not what we`re about. By this, they meant the vandalism. They meant the looting. As we drove through New York -- and I have lived in this city, Brian, for almost 22 years -- I barely recognize this city.
Not only are we seeing vandalism after vandalism, after vandalism, about 200 arrests, but in places where there has not been vandalism, including along Fifth Avenue near 30 Rock, huge wooden facades. I`m not talking about just putting up plywood like you see here. Huge wooden facades are being built along entire blocks of stores, and it`s so dispiriting to see a place that you know and you love and where you live outside. Outside that Duane Reade store, two neighbors came up to me. I live not far from where that store and just said, why? Why does this have to be? We stand with the protesters. We stand with what they stand for. We are against what has been happening in America for far too long. But why do they have to destroy our neighborhoods?
We are now officially in curfew, Brian. It came at 11:00, just a few minutes ago. But the announcement was made an hour and a half or so ago by the mayor because of what we were seeing here tonight all throughout Manhattan and I`m sure elsewhere in some of the boroughs. We`ve only been in Manhattan tonight. The curfew tomorrow will be at 8 o`clock. And we`ll see what they do in terms of a police presence already here tonight double the number of police they had.
And I can tell you they were moving quickly throughout the city on foot, on bicycles, in vans. But there were so many instances of looting, of destruction, it was impossible to keep up with. That`s just our personal observations, Brian, driving around the city the last several hours since dark.
WILLIAMS: Chris Jansing just outside Macy`s Herald Square, the location for Miracle on 34th Street make no mistake, as Chris was reporting, looters have laid waste to portions of midtown Manhattan tonight.
We are increasingly seeing these mixed identities, the daytime protests largely different from nighttime. Peaceful protests largely different from the bad actors we are seeing. Let`s not lose sight of the fact that most of the protests going on in this country, in 23 states, have been and are peaceful protests.
It was a peaceful protest today in Washington, D.C., in Lafayette Square across from the White House where our own Garrett Haake was covering that suddenly turned violent because federal forces and no fewer than ten separate jurisdictions` law enforcement decided to go on the move at that moment. We later learned why, to accommodate the President`s photo op. We`ll have more on that in a bit. But there is Garrett Haake on what I hope has become a quiet night in the nation`s capital. Garrett?
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Brian. The sounds where I am right now are the few remaining businesses downtown that have not already done so, boarding up and military helicopters flying overhead, a new addition here in D.C. tonight as the President has largely federalized the response here in Washington. That`s what we saw today in Lafayette Square. You talked about the suddenness of it. I can`t overstate how sudden it was to have that entirely peaceful protest be run down essentially with officers with shields and batons, with mounted officers, flash bangs and tear gas used.
Still, a good 20 minutes before the start of any curfew in Washington, D.C. And without any provocation from the protesters, all of them forced out of Eighth Street here, the northern end of Lafayette Square behind me where we`ve been reporting so much the last couple of days.
Tonight in D.C., things are largely quiet. The protesters that are still out on the streets now in defiance of a curfew that went into effect around 7:00 this morning, are in much smaller groups. There`s one group that has progressed north from where I`m standing now.
We`ve got another camera crew keeping an eye on that in Columbia Heights, a much more residential area of Washington, D.C. There are metropolitan police D.C., local police who have made some arrests there. But there are still dozens of protesters on the streets tonight peacefully demonstrating. What we have not seen, thankfully, and hopefully it remains this case, is a return to the kind of smash-and-grab looting and destruction that happened late last night after police broke up the other protests that were happening here just outside the white house, Brian.
WILLIAMS: And, Garrett, you mentioned the military helicopters. With the moment we have here, and social media blew up with this video tonight, they were being used -- we`ve seen them used this way for crowd suppression in countries overseas. I don`t remember it happening here. A low hover where the wind and the dust they kick up is supposed to disperse the crowd. But there was one near union station on Capitol Hill. There was one in the kind of central business and media district on M Street Northwest really an extraordinarily rare thing to see.
HAAKE: Yeah, Brian, absolutely. Not something you typically see in America, not something you typically see in protests, and certainly not something you typically see in protests in Washington, D.C., which are a very, very common occurrence. Let`s face it. We have massive large-scale demonstrations in this city all the time. That`s not a tactic I have seen before or one I hope to see again.
I don`t know how many helicopter crashes you`ve covered in your career. I`ve covered a few. Even on a good night, it could be dangerous to fly a helicopter low anywhere, much less low over a populated city.
Another tactic, again, of I think the federalized response here that we`re seeing. The President has been tweeting for days about the way he wants to see the federal government -- or governments around this country respond to protesters. Really only in D.C. does the federal government have the opportunity to respond the way they want to do it. The city police are only one part of this patchwork response here, and we`re getting a very direct look at the way the federal government wants to see these protesters responded to.
WILLIAMS: Garrett Haake in Washington, D.C. after a long day, parts of which we`re about to review.
Correspondent Jo Ling Kent is in Seattle tonight. They`ve had a mixed day, I think it`s fair to say there, Jo ling.
JO LING KENT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brian. We`re in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and I want to show you this massive march of peaceful protesters. We`ve been following them for a couple of hours now. It`s 8:11 on the west coast, and it is two hours past curfew.
And the name of this protester game today has been peaceful and patient. We have been following them for a couple of days now, and if we pan up here, Sam, to the stop of the street, that is where the police line is, and that is where the protesters are trying right now to negotiate to go.
Now, some of them are moving in a different direction, but that police line is holding steady. There`s three layers of law enforcement there followed by the National Guard. The governor, Governor Inslee here, deploying the National Guard yesterday, about 400 individuals in total. But this is the center of a conflict with President Trump. He, as we saw today, gave that address to the nation. Governor Inslee here in Washington pushing back on the notion that the National Guard should get more involved with these protesters.
In fact, he just put out a statement not too long ago saying -- Governor Inslee saying about the President, his admiration of authoritarians around the world should not allow him to violate 200 years of American tradition of local law enforcement.
Now, as we`ve been walking with these individuals alongside them in this peaceful protest, so many are saying that this is black lives matter. This is about achieving justice, and achieving justice for George Floyd and so many others who have come before him.
And you have a very diverse community out here in Seattle. So many people coming out in favor. In fact, we have to remember that as we are in these closer quarters, we are still very much in a pandemic, right? And several of the protesters have told me today and late last night and into yesterday that they couldn`t sit at home because they needed to do something. They needed to have their voice heard and say something about what is happening in our country right now. So they put on their masks. They brought their hand sanitizer, and they decided to come out to march.
But what`s happening here is you`re seeing the movement go from downtown all the way up here to Capitol Hill. That is the east police precinct there. Protesters deep inside there are still negotiating to try and get some of that to be broken.
Now, what was remarkable yesterday, Brian, was as we were watching the protesters at the police line, we saw a lot of engagement. It was a really remarkable thing. You saw Seattle protesters having conversation with local law enforcement. The local law enforcement engage engaging peacefully with the protesters. At one point the police line breaking open peacefully allowing those protesters to march through.
So that along with the cleanup we have seen throughout Seattle and Bellevue and all across this area, you do see an attempt at peace. And one of the organizers saying that he hopes that this is a tipping point so that something real can be accomplished, he tells me. And that`s one of the organizers leading this massive march, and he is standing there in the thick of it, trying to get through to the east precinct here in Seattle. But I am glad to be able to say to you Brian, that it`s peaceful. Folks are patient tonight. They`re thinking about the long game. That`s what a lot of these protesters are telling me. Brian.
WILLIAMS: I can`t tell you how glad we are to hear it. Thank you for that report, Jo Ling Kent in Seattle tonight.
Shaquille Brewster is where this all started, of course following the death of George Floyd. He`s in Minneapolis. Shaquille, tell me what kind of a night this has been there.
SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Brian, it`s so far been pretty peaceful. And let`s remind viewers that not only is this the place where it all started, but this is the place where it started exactly one week ago today. And what you saw, it was a day-long peaceful protest. You saw the brother of George Floyd come down. It was a very solemn ceremony. People taking it very seriously, coming with flowers, coming with candles, having those conversations. So far, we`re about 15 minutes after curfew. It was 10:00 local time curfew.
Let me show you how many people are still here. This is the circle, one of the locations where the brother, Terrence Floyd, came and laid some flowers. And it looks like just in the past couple of minutes, Brian, literally in the past couple minutes, it`s gone from a situation where everyone was crowded around this circle. And then as you were tossing to me, on the opposite side there was a police car. I saw only one so far, but there may be more in the distance. A police car showed up. There`s been a Blackhawk helicopter circling around, and that has caused people to at least line up and have their signs up and just kind of observe what`s happening over there.
Again, Brian, it`s important to know, and you just made the note. This has been largely peaceful all day long. This has been no violence. Actually, this site has not been the site of any clashes or many clashes with the police. Those dramatic scenes have not happened here. People call this sacred ground because this is again the police where George Floyd lost his life. He was killed by that police officer, and they`re trying to honor that and respect that, especially on a night when you`re one week out. Brian.
WILLIAMS: Indeed. That is a network where they have laid down the law themselves, declared it sacred ground, and said there`s no interest there in violence at all, something Mr. Floyd`s family members underscored today.
Joe Fryer is in Sacramento, California, tonight. We mentioned so many cities and different states are under curfew this evening. Just as we came on the air. Joe, what do you have?
JOE FRYER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So we`re in Sacramento, and Sacramento is one of those cities for the first time tonight, they have a curfew in Sacramento. It was at 8:00. If you look at your watch right now, it`s 8:17. You can see we have hundreds of peaceful protesters still marching through the streets of downtown Sacramento. Sometimes in the distance you can hear a car that`s driving around with a loudspeaker telling everyone the curfew goes into effect at 8:00. The question is what, if anything, is the city going to do to try to enforce the curfew tonight, the first curfew they`ve had since the protests began days ago.
We should make it clear, the city says, the organizers protesters have been peaceful throughout. The worry is at night. There is a group of looters and vandals who have been coming in and hitting businesses throughout downtown Sacramento. The city says it appears to be an outside group, well organized, coming in and doing damage. But over the weekend, the city had $10 million in damage to businesses. I`m told 130 businesses were impacted. Many of them were actually hoping to open today after being closed for several weeks because of the coronavirus.
So we have this big group still protesting out here. It has been peaceful. It`s worth remembering here in Sacramento, we`ve been covering protests of police in Sacramento for over two years now because it was in 2018 when a young black man named Stephon Clark was shot and killed by two police officers in his grandmother`s backyard. At the time, police said they thought he was armed when they opened fire. He was not armed at all. He had his cell phone on.
We saw days and days and of protests following that here in Sacramento. But in the end, a year later, the prosecutor decided the two officers in that case would not be charged. Police here know the protesters very well. They`ve seen many of these protests over the last two years. They know the faces well, and they`ve said over the last few days, there have been people coming in, faces that they don`t recognize, people who are bringing in boxes filled with rocks that are being thrown at police officers. They want to try and make sure they don`t have a repeat of that tonight. They`re expecting a repeat of it tonight, the mayor said. But for now, this group of peaceful protesters continues to walk through the streets. We`ll wait and see what this city does, if anything, to try and bring things to a conclusion tonight to try and avoid another night of vandalism. Brian.
WILLIAMS: Joe Fryer in Sacramento, where it would be a really nice thing to have a peaceful night in the capital city of the State of California.
Cal Perry has been in Louisville, Kentucky, for the past couple of days and nights, where we thought we knew the plot line, what was fueling the protests in that city, until it got more complicated with another deeply tragic loss of life. Cal, can you take our viewers through what has inflamed things tonight?
CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So it was early in the morning hours of today, believe it or not, when David McAtee, a 53-year-old man on the west side of Louisville, was shot and killed in some kind of exchange of gunfire from unknown gunmen who were firing at the police backed by national guard. At least two police officers exchanged fire as well as two national guardsmen.
Here`s the tricky bit. The police officers did not have their body cameras on. It was 72 hours ago when the mayor said that that was a new requirement in the city. All of this goes back months to Breonna Taylor, who was killed in mid-march in her apartment in a no-knock raid. That is a slick way of saying undercover cops went into her apartment without announcing themselves. She was shoot eight times in an exchange of gunfire and they did not have body cameras on. So that has inflamed the situation here.
The other thing that`s unique, I think, to Louisville, unfortunately, is the gun violence and the gunfire. We heard a burst of gunfire tonight about an hour ago. That`s when police moved into this park. They moved in heavy. They fired tear gas and those rubber bullets. I don`t need to explain now to Americans what that tear gas does, but you have to be really committed to stay in the area. And as you can see, people are now gone. But what happens late at night here after midnight is it turns into these little skirmishes around the city where little groups of people, maybe, three, maybe four, maybe five folks are running around kind of engaging with the police and trying to start trouble or carry out their frustrations.
Unfortunately what`s been happening late at night is we`ve been hearing gunfire around the city. The police were targeted two days ago. At least five police officers were targeted in separate incidents. This all started on Thursday night when seven people were shot on the protests, Brian. So the concern here on the ground, again, is a very basic safety one when it comes to the gun violence in this American city.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Cal, this is a political show normally on a network that covers more than its share of politics. And it strikes me the state you`re in has two big, big named Senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, who happens to be the majority leader in the U.S. Senate. Have they been visible or vocal or involved at all considering that everything behind you, everyone you just talked about is a constituent of theirs?
PERRY: No. And actually I haven`t heard it. It`s possible they`ve said something. I haven`t heard anything. What`s been sort of the dictating voice here has been the mayor and the governor. Both are Democrats here. Both are taking heat from the White House for how they`re handling things.
Though, I do think it needs to be said that the way that police handled things here tonight and last night was efficient. It was very quick, and it got people off the streets.
Now, again, there are people shooting at police here, and the police are shooting back. But the politics of this seem to be dictated from the White House, you know, being very critical of both the democratic mayor here and the democratic governor. The governor here really came hard on the city about these body cameras today, saying that it was just outrageous. He actually went to go view the footage, and it was only about 30 minutes before he arrived that they told him the footage didn`t exist. So that`s sort of the political atmosphere that`s hanging over all of this, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Cal Perry in Louisville, tonight. Cal, thank you for that.
And we mentioned this when we came on the air. Beyond what is happening in the city streets that we`ve seen thus far and in an estimated 23 of our 50 states tonight -- and make no mistake, a lot of is happening, and damage is being done in some places -- today may be remembered by history in the worst way. It may be remembered for an authoritarian turn as the President was pledging to crush the demonstrations and end the lawlessness across our country.
It turns out the reason we could hear the pop of weapons over his remarks as he spoke in the Rose Garden was because at that moment, members of our armed forces and police forces were moving forcefully against peaceful protesters so that the President could minutes later, quite literally when the air cleared, walk across the street to the boarded up national landmark that is St. John`s church, church of the presidents as it`s known. It was torched last night by protesters downstairs.
The President went to the entrance and held up a bible and said about our country, "It`s coming back." He said, "It`s coming back strong. And he added, "You see what`s happening." And tonight we indeed see what`s happening. Here is some of what the President said in the Rose Garden this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters. But in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others. I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America.
I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights.
I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The President talked to Vladimir Putin today. That was followed by a conference call with the nation`s governors during which he berated some of them for not cracking down on the violence that has marked some of the protests since the death of George Floyd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You have to dominate. If you don`t dominate, you`re wasting your time. They`re going to run over you. You`re going to look like a bunch of jerks. We`re going to clamp down very, very strong. You have to arrest people. You have to try people. You have to put them in jail for ten years, and you`ll never see this stuff again. And you have to let them know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We are very grateful to be joined tonight by the Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde, who happens to be the episcopal bishop of Washington.
Bishop Budde, while we have this conversation, we`re going to show our viewers some of the scene, the tableau that unfolded in front of your house of worship today, which all of us -- any of us who came to Washington as students for that first summer class trip, those of us who are history buffs and have read about that terrific, terrific building and its history, having hosted every president back to James Madison.
The President shuts down Lafayette Square today, shows up in front of your house of worship brandishing and holding aloft a bible. What did you know about his visit? When were you informed, and what did you make of it?
REVEREND MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WASHINGTON: Thank you for inviting me to be on the show. In answer to your first question, I was not informed. We were given no warning that the President was making his way across the Park to St. John`s. I was sitting at home watching the news when I saw the images.
Let me say that he held in his hand the most sacred texts of our Jewish and Christian traditions, texts that call upon us to love God and love neighbor, that proclaims every human being to be a beloved child of God, and exhorts us to live lives of peace and justice.
And as you saw, or as you displayed prior to doing so, he was preceded by a violent clearing of nonviolent protesters to make his way, and he was using our church as a backdrop and the bible as a prop in ways that I found to be deeply offensive, and I felt it immediately necessary for us to dissociate ourselves from his actions and symbols in front of St. John`s church.
WILLIAMS: What told us it was a hastily arranged and kind of ham-fisted photo op was the kind of ad-libbed neighbor of it. He was begging people from his traveling staff to join him in a still photo afterwards, and his national security adviser did. His secretary of defense did. His press secretary did, and so on.
He also, in full view of cameras, walked by spray-painted profanity bearing his name from the violence of the last couple of nights. I have to ask you about the damage to the structure, which to the structure, which again we all assumed he was there to visit the damage to the structure and pronounce it saved. I saw video of the fire last night. It was ignited in the basement. That is a day care, like a nursery area of the church?
REV. MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WASHINGTON: A Sunday school nursery area. But first let me say that my greatest -- if he had come to St. John`s because he wanted to pray, if he had come to St. John`s lament the death of George Floyd and the grief that has been unleashed across our country, if he had come to offer words of solace and healing and resolve, to bind the wounds of our nation, that would have been an appropriate use of the sacred symbol of walking across the park to the church. But he did none of those things.
In fact, he used -- he used the church and he used the bible in some ways as symbols to demonstrate or to symbolize American military power? First let me say, St. John`s is not my church. It is a house of god. It is a house of god for all people. And the only reason it`s the president`s church or say it`s president`s because from time to time presidents worshipped there. They worshipped god there in communion with other people. That is the purpose of a church.
And so that`s simply what I am here to say. But I don`t want this night to be remembered for that. Our focus needs to be on our nation`s grief and demand for systemic change and justice and an acknowledgement that lives are being taken by the brute force of police and vigilante citizenry, and we need to keep our focus there because that`s where the pain is coming from. And I`m not -- I`m a follower of Jesus, who was a man of non- violence. I do not believe that violence does anything but beget more violence.
But that`s the pain. That`s -- that`s where our focus needs to be, and that`s where we will stand in solidarity with those who are calling for peaceful change in our country.
WILLIAMS: I will go ahead and say as a former several-time resident of Washington, your church has always been synonymous with service to the community. These days it`s been pressed into service as a terrific maker of masks during a pandemic, I happen to know.
BUDDE: That`s right.
WILLIAMS: So, thank you for all that that church, among the many -- you have 40,000 Episcopalians in your diocese. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde on what I know has been an emotional day for all the wrong reasons in the midst of it everything else we`re covering and as you point out correctly following the death of George Floyd.
Let`s bring in our guests tonight. Phil Rucker, Pulitzer prize-winning White House bureau chief for "The Washington Post," notably co-author along with his "Post" colleague Carol Leonnig, of the best-seller "A Very Stable Genius." Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post," also moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS.
Phil Rucker, this is where we rely on people like you to tell people like me what was today all about? What was that which witnessed, and what does this mean for our future near term or far?
PHIL RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Brian, it was an incredible moment. We`ve had Donald Trump on a national stage for five years now, and we`ve not seen an hour like the 6:00 hour today. It was a president trying to show strength, trying to show command. Remember, he`s been out of public view for about 48 hours in the White House, for a period even hiding in that bunker. So he wanted to show he had control of this situation.
According to my colleagues reporting tonight at "The Post," the president, you know, wanted to take that trip over to St. John`s because he wanted to change the media narrative. He wanted a photo op. And so what we saw was an extraordinary display of military force against peaceful civilians who were gathering, demonstrating in a public area, as happens all the time here in Washington and frankly in cities across this country.
You know, the moment was met by strong condemnations across the political spectrum, including from a number of Republicans who are deeply uncomfortable with this turn and see the president`s actions and rhetoric today as authoritarian in nature. We`re going to have to see what this moment ends up meaning over the course of history and in the days to come, but it certainly marked an inflection point, an inflammatory one, in the crisis that we`ve seen unfolding over the last week.
WILLIAMS: All right, Robert Costa, your colleague just got my attention when he mentioned Republicans because thus far this week, we`ve heard the occasional crackle of non-lethal force being fired from a weapon in Washington, but mostly the usual chorus of crickets that we`ve become used to from members of the president`s own party. Are you prepared to name any names who looked at today and regarded it as a jumping-off point or even a time to say something?
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHNGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: My colleague Phil Rucker brought up history, Brian. In talking to senior Republicans today, especially those who are from older generations, they reminded me about Richard Nixon and his presidency. In 1970, he took a trip late at night. He couldn`t sleep, to Kent State, went to the Lincoln Memorial to meet with protesters. It was a surreal moment. They recalled some of the early days in Congress when they thought Nixon was isolated, not really communicating with a about Vietnam.
The president, the leader of the party, not really with his party, not really with people at the White House going adrift. And talking with Republicans tonight, they see a president adrift, a president striding across Lafayette Park, Lafayette Square, to have this photo opportunity, holding a bible in the air. And they are both perplexed but also locked, locked they say by the current of history, their own lack of willingness to speak up, to have the political will to say anything just months before an election, relying still on his political capital to carry them ahead.
WILLIAMS: Phil Rucker, do you think there will be further reaction to the fact that he had the chairman of the joint chiefs in camo and that that uncomfortable still photo after the uncomfortable holding up of the bible also featured the secretary of defense?
RUCKER: And the attorney general, Brian. This shows that the full force of the U.S. government is behind what the president is doing today, which is to militarize the federal response to these protests of racial injustice around the country. It is a remarkable thing.
And, you know, the president was on a call with the nation`s governors earlier today. Bob Costa actually obtained audio of the entire call, and he had General Milley on that call, and he startled some of the governors when he said that he had asked the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to take control of the federal response to the protests. That is not ordinarily an assignment that a military leader is given, and yet that`s what happened in this case.
And it speaks to the extent to which the president wants to try to project strength and wants to do some very unorthodox things. You know, there are some lawyers out there who might say they`re unconstitutional perhaps, but really stretching the bounds of what we`ve come to accept as normal in this country when it comes to civilian versus military ordeals.
WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, thank you.
COSTA: Brian, just a follow up to Phil`s point.
WILLIAMS: It also says something that the -- Yes, go ahead, Robert.
COSTA: Just real quick, to follow up on Phil`s point, you asked Brian about Republicans. They`ve always thought, Brian, 3 1/2 years in, that President Trump would not really use the power he has, that he would flirt with it, occasionally touch it, but not really use it.
And so they are bewildered and not really sure what to do 3 1/2 years into this presidency. He sounds willing now to use his power in unprecedented ways, historic ways. That alarms them, but yet again as we reported in our story on Sunday, they do remain quiet. They`re silent.
WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, thank you both again. I was about to say the last couple times we`ve tried to have a conversation, breaking news has interrupted as it has again here. Gadi Schwartz is our correspondent in Van Nuys, California, tonight, where we`ve had some trouble in the streets. Gadi?
GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, unfortunately here in Van Nuys, we`ve seen certain instances of looting. In fact, you can see the L.A. Fire Department has been putting out this fire inside of this pharmacy. I`m just going to take you over here and show you what they`re dealing with.
They had a lot of windows smashed out. They were able to go inside, clear it out of medications and anything inside that may have been valuable. They had so much time in there that they were to set a fire just down the way. Police had been holding back a growing crowd here, but this is Van Nuys, and this is pretty far away from the protests obviously that we saw in Santa Monica. Some of those protests that we saw down in Los Angeles along Hollywood.
There was a protest here, but this was not a community that was directly involved in that protest. This is just one of those communities on the side. And so you`ve got officers lining up here. We talked to some of the people out here. We were wondering if the looters that hit this place were from around here, if they recognized them. They said no, they thought they were from out of here.
In fact, I want to show you this. You`ve got a group of people over here, Brian. This is really interesting because this is how quickly that smash- and-grab is going on. It`s very difficult for LAPD to deploy to the outer reaches of Los Angeles, all the way out here in Van Nuys, for example, they`ve got a large contingent of police officers that are in downtown Los Angeles.
But in some of these communities, the looters hit, and then they leave before the police can get here. So here you`ve got all kinds of pills. We`re not going to zoom in too close because we don`t want to show anybody`s personal information. But you`ve got pills all the way down here. They stretch into the neighborhood, and this is just one of the places that people say the looters escaped from.
We saw a Rite Aid that was also hit in Hollywood. So it appears as though some of these pharmacies may have been targeted. But, again, some of the people that we were talking to here say these were not people who were from around here. They did not see any arrests. So you`ve got situations like this, very dangerous because you`ve got all these other businesses that are alongside the pharmacy that was looted.
And for some reason, the looters didn`t just take things from inside of that pharmacy. They also set it on fire. Again, this does not appear to be related to any particular protest. It`s just a matter of these police that are being preoccupied all across the city right now, and crimes of opportunity happening all across Los Angeles. Brian.
WILLIAMS: Indeed. And the tragedy as so often happens, it`s a neighborhood, off-brand, non-chain drugstore, which means someone`s personal loss just stacked up on the pile of all the rest of it. Gadi Schwartz in Van Nuys, California, tonight.
Let`s take our first break for the hour. Much more to come. We`ll be back with more live coverage right after this.
WILLIAMS: live pictures of Santa Monica, California. If you were with us for our three hours of prime-time coverage last night and a heads-up that tonight we`re going for a full two hours, you saw a situation that was for a time completely out of control in Santa Monica.
Along what some people have called its tax base, along the gleaming center of retailing in Santa Monica, the third street promenade, we`re happy to report tonight that this could not be more peaceful. Exactly what the peaceful protests have been like, which again is most of the protests going on across this country since the death of George Floyd.
So we just wanted to show this situation. We also wanted to show you something -- or tonight the lack of something over the city of New York. We normally take this shot to show you the Empire State building. It is dark tonight for the death of George Floyd.
So the Empire State building, which 364 nights a year is lit in some color scheme or combination for a group or an individual -- we`re fond of opening up our broadcast because it`s been that beating-heart red or it`s been NYPD blue. Tonight the lights are out on the building that once loomed over the city as the tallest, years ago lost that designation but certainly remains the favorite and most iconic to so many New Yorkers.
We have two guests I want to bring into our conversation. One of them is Eric Adams, who happens to be the Borough president in the Borough of Brooklyn, in the city of New York, which if it isn`t a hell of a job on an average day, has certainly turned into a hell of a job both during a pandemic and now during this paroxysm of violence and sadness that has gripped the whole country.
Also with us is Donna Edwards, former democratic member of Congress from the state of Maryland, who is these days a "Washington Post" columnist. Because it`s most urgent, Borough president Adams, I`d like to begin with you for a situation report from your borough. How is Brooklyn faring tonight, especially compared to a night like last night?
ERIC ADAMS (D), BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, BOROUGH PRESIDENT: Still challenging, extremely challenging. I know, I want to say from the start that this is a painful moment as a person who is a former police officer and when I was arrested as a child and beat badly by police, when I saw the murder of Mr. Floyd, I, you know, relived the trauma I experienced.
And I think what you`re seeing on the street every day unfortunately is an open wound that needs to heal. And the young people, I believe, that have a righteous call for justice has really been hijacked by those who are using this method for the wrong reason. And we need to refocus ourselves and deal with the issue at hand, and that`s police reform.
WILLIAMS: So given your unique viewpoint as an over 20-year veteran of the police force, how does it change how you view these interactions? So many small snippets of video all day long on social media, and depending on who puts them out, it usually dictates what they show. They either show police in a positive or negative light. You`ve got police officers now, I think, unless I`m mistaken, they`re all working a minimum of a 12-hour shift. Tonight 8,000 police officers were on the detail in the five boroughs to prevent looting and violence. How does it change how you view the job they do?
ADAMS: You need to turn that uses the right term. I had a unique career. I started an organization called 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care. I use protest in the day against stop and frisk. Then at night I would go and protect protectors and put on my police uniform. I know the challenges of this job and the countless numbers of officers who are doing it now and across the country. They should be praised for their dedication and commitment and discipline.
But there are still a number who should not be wearing a uniform. You see some of these videos driving through a crowd or pulling down a mask of a young person and spraying them with mace or pushing a young lady to the ground. They tarnish the job that countless number of our officers are doing every day. I know what it is to have someone spit in my face, someone to call me names, call me Uncle Tom, not realizing I was just marching next to them a few hours ago.
But that is part of the job. Remember, police officers are given two of the most important rights to Americans -- the right to take away the liberty and the right to take life. That comes with a high level of responsibility, and I think throughout the years law enforcement communities across the country have abused that responsibility.
WILLIAMS: And, Donna Edwards, what is it we`re witnessing happen across our country?
DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND, FMR. U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, you know, I mean I think it`s a really sad moment. I mean when I listen to the borough president having been somebody who turned their pain and their experience into a way to do good, and what I see across the country, to be quite frank with you, especially as I witnessed what happened in Washington, D.C. earlier this evening, the American carnage that the president of the United States promised in January 2017, he is delivering right now. And it is a sad day for America.
I can only hope that good people -- and I see righteous people on the streets in cities across the country who are raising their voices and they`re expressing their First Amendment rights to say that we need to have change. And this is deep within systems and culture. And even though we can find a lot of good law enforcement officers, there is something within these systems and the culture of policing that is enabling bad officers to do very bad things.
And, you know, I have written about this, but I fear for my son and for other young men and women who have to worry every day about whether they`re going to go out, and are they going to come home in the evening to their families. Can they stay in their homes safely without police charging on a no-knock warrant?
These things are deeply troubling, and what`s gratifying is seeing the coming together of black, white, Latino, Asian people saying that we are not going to tolerate this anymore. And I do hope that this is a point of revelation. But if, you know, the past is prologue, I`m not really sure about that. But I sure hope so.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to our guests, Borough President Eric Adams of the great Borough of Brooklyn, and former democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards. Thank you very much. We realize we`re at a very sensitive time, and I was appreciative to add your comments to what we`re all thinking about and talking about tonight.
A break for us. When we come back, our live conversation with Cornell West.
WILLIAMS: We are back, and this is the neighborhood. This is the corner in Minneapolis where George Floyd lost his life, where life drained out of George Floyd because the knee of a police officer was on his neck. The family, the folks in that neighborhood have been very deliberate and very strict about one thing. There will be no violence here. There will be no shenanigans here. This is a sacred place. The neighborhood acted quickly to paint a beautiful mural of George Floyd behind the very spot where he died in the street and on camera.
Two aspects of this -- seven days ago, but two aspects of this case that explain in our electronic age why it is we have people in the streets across this country. And, again, what we`re estimating to be 23 of our 50 states tonight. And, yes, there has been trouble in the American streets again tonight because of what started in this neighborhood. We said a few nights ago, depending on how granular you want to get, it goes back to the dream of Steve Jobs, that we would all someday have a device that we carried with us, a device as close as our pocket that would be our telephone, our computer, and our camera and would be able to record the moments of everyday life, and we`d be able to share them with complete strangers on the other side of the world.
That dream came true. We did think that with everyone walking around with a camera, perhaps human behavior would change for the better. That has failed us in many areas. But this is the kind of thing that those small cameras are picking up. The moment, the tipping point today when the order went out among no fewer than 10 jurisdictions in Lafayette Square, there in the backyard of the church of the presidents, St. Johns.
But the order went out to move and move forcefully against what had been a peaceful protest. We learned later that the park, federal land, was cleared so that the president could literally walk in clear air over to the church and hold a bible aloft. We`re going to take a break here at the top of the hour. We`re going for another live hour. When we come back, our interview with Cornell West. We`ll also check in with Chris Jansing in New York on some of the trouble in the streets of Gotham tonight.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END