Trump attacks Biden TRANSCRIPT: 5/26/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: David Frum, Thomas Friedman, Craig Spencer, Kathleen Sebelius,Christie Todd Whitman, Marq Claxton

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Yes. All right, thank you very much.

TODD: All yours, buddy.

MELBER: Hey, thanks, Chuck. Appreciate it.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We have a big show for you tonight. Trump administration guidance does recommend a mask when you are near people in public, but Donald Trump picking a fight with Joe Biden over that very issue.

Later, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman joins THE BEAT. He says Trump is picking the wrong fight on the virus.

And a new video shows a police officer pinning a black man who cries out that he can`t breathe. We have been covering throughout the day on MSNBC. Well, now there are these reports of a new FBI investigation. We have that story for you later in tonight`s show.

Now, as Americans lean into a summer that is obviously -- you know this, we all know this -- it`s unlike any in recent memory, we are seeing people`s individual choices become a touchstone for intense debates, debates that could be with us for a long time ahead.

Now, let me be clear, because we try to be as clear and as proportionate as we can be on this, like any other story. There are many parts of America where this weekend people did continue social distancing. That includes hard-hit places like New York, Seattle, and L.A., where some local quarantines also remain in effect.

Yet you have probably seen the images, right, by now. We also saw these scenes at many beaches and public areas where people did come out and did get close to each other and rarely used masks. That was also the norm in Ozarks, Missouri, where you can see the party raged on.

Now that state`s health officials are urging those partygoers, the people you see right here, among others, to self-quarantine for 14 days, which is quite a cost for one day out if they do it.

Or take North Carolina, where thousands poured in for a speedway opening night, no masks in sight. And yet that state is one of several where the cases are still increasing right now. At least 15 states are in the tough spot of here we are, months into this, seeing their caseload increase. You can see where they are, if you live in one of them, as you look at the map.

More cases means almost certainly with the march of the virus more fatalities, as the United States approaches a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths.

Now, this is a complex problem. It doesn`t really benefit from extremism. Rushing outside in tight spaces with strangers and no masks is an extreme, because everything we have learned and the CDC recommend against doing that.

Now, staying isolated inside indefinitely during a phased reopening or treating masks as a silver bullet to prevent everything under the sun, that`s also an extreme.

The initial arrival of this virus tested us all. The next phase will present a different test. How do we focus on science and nuance, rather than just black-and-white choices? How do we wrestle with these trade-offs without letting each and every one devolve into polarized politicking?

And how do we do that with an election approaching?

I want to tell you, as we start a new workweek, that`s not just a challenge for people flouting CDC guidelines, which, yes, does, sadly, include the president. It`s also a challenge for anyone reflexively combining every decision and pandemic policy with preexisting views of Donald Trump, whatever they may be.

So it`s not easy. I bet you know what I`m talking about, as I talk to you through the screen. But I bet, if your life is like so many other people`s lives, you have had conversations that devolve like this, either with friends or family or on virtual Zoom, and then people say, forget about it, let`s not even talk about it.

But, of course, this is a part of our life and health and the economic decisions. We have to talk about it if we`re going to try to get any of it right. And maintaining a scientific equilibrium, I have to note for you, becomes even harder when Trump insiders are going around saying things like this.

Donald Trump`s former White House chief of staff, who infamously defended the Ukraine plot by saying, get over it, well, he is now claiming that there is some perspective that can be reached that will show that there was a -- quote -- "overreaction" to this virus.

Keep in mind the death toll is now higher than the number of Americans lost in several wars combined.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: A Columbia university analysis...

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think we have sort of lost perspective on this a little bit.

Almost 100,000 people died just a few years ago from flu, and the country didn`t shut down. It`s time to sort of deal with this in the proper perspective, and that`s to allow us to get back to work safely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now we turn to our experts, the former governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman. She also led the EPA under the administration of George W. Bush.

David Frum, a former speechwriter in the Bush administration, now writer for "The Atlantic," his book is "Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy." And Dr. Craig Spencer, a New York City emergency room doctor and director of global health and emergency medicine at Columbia University.

Good day to all of you. ` Doctor, your view on that assessment this as a potential -- quote -- "overreaction"?

DR. CRAIG SPENCER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I this granular and really, unfortunately, very personal view of what happens to patients who get COVID and to their families.

I have called so many family members on FaceTime and shared with them the last moments of their family member`s lives as they died. For me, neither of those can be an overreaction.

Look, I think what the point is here is that we`re creating this false dichotomy between the economy opening and public health. And that`s because what`s happened so far is I think that we have politicized a public health response.

The reason we have 100,000 or nearly 100,000 deaths in this country is because we weren`t prepared and we didn`t respond appropriately. My concern now is that, as this curve is going down in many places, you`re seeing people get out. The weather is really nice. I understand that everyone wants to get back out.

We are not done with this. We will continue to see this virus throughout the summer, through the fall, and unfortunately through the winter. We have nothing else other than bread-and-butter public (AUDIO GAP) until we have a vaccine. That`s still a long way off.

MELBER: David?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think what is being discussed here by some of the people in the Trump world is the creation of a stab in the back legend.

They are looking -- in a way, they are litigating or pre-litigating the aftermath of the political troubles that are going to strike the Trump administration in November. Why did we lose?

Well, we didn`t lose because we messed up the handling of the virus, because we put through (AUDIO GAP) tens of millions of people out of work. We lost because some sinister cabal of eggheads and know-it-alls and showoffs and ungrateful minorities, they closed the government, closed the economy, and we suffered the result of it.

And so this is the pre-manufacture of an excuse that you`re witnessing, and it`s being done, as the doctor said, without any regard to real human toll, both from a health point of view and an economic point of view.

MELBER: Governor Whitman, as mentioned before, you have been in this spot where you`re doing science and government negotiation.

And there can be pressures of various kinds. I think many have observed this is a far greater gulf than usual, because the president literally undercuts the science at the very appearances he makes with the doctors, which has been commented on repeatedly.

Take a listen to Dr. Birx here new on Sunday undercutting or at least disagreeing with the way he`s put it. Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I`m very concerned when people go out and don`t maintain social distancing.

We also know it`s important that we have to have masks on if we`re less than six feet, and that we have to maintain that six-feet distance. We know being outside does help. We know sun does help in killing the virus, but that doesn`t change the fact that people need to be responsible and maintain that distance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Governor?

FORMER GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (R-NJ): Well, I agree with her. It`s not asking much of us to put a mask on. That really isn`t.

And, as a country, we should come together and say, this is the least we can do for our fellow citizen, not the most, but the very least, and pay attention to what the science are telling us -- scientists are telling us.

But it`s very difficult to do when you the president going around saying, I`m not going to wear a mask. You know, it`s so stupid. If you think you look dumb wearing a mask, just imagine how dumb you look when you`re wearing a hospital gown.

This is not the -- this is not the dichotomy we should be putting together. This is not how you decide this. Yes, we want to open up. Of course we do. We want to get the economy going. And there are ways to do that, sensible ways to do that, but it`s going to have to be incremental.

There is no reason to think this is going to go away. It`s not going away. For all these people that say it`s -- still believe it`s a hoax and it`s not a big deal, I don`t want anybody to get the virus, but I almost want to say, if anybody has to get it, then the people that have refused to adhere by the social distancing and think it`s all a hoax and ridiculous, and because the president isn`t scared, they`re not going to be scared, and he doesn`t wear a mask, so I`m not going wear a mask -- and that`s what they`re saying -- those are the ones that really ought to get it, not the ones that are trying to be responsible.

But, unfortunately, that`s not what happens with this disease.

MELBER: I don`t wish the virus on anyone, David.

WHITMAN: No.

MELBER: But the point being raised that it works in the way it does.

And the very people who might pose great risks by being asymptomatic, some of them, and so, for the same reasons there`s other health behaviors we expect, you are expected not to drive drunk, and there is indeed criminal sanction for that, for the very reason that, even if somebody claims -- and I want any kids listening at home, I`m not saying this is true.

FRUM: Yes.

MELBER: But even if somebody thinks in their mind, oh, I drive in rural Idaho, I`m willing to take that risk, and I had a drink, it`s not only about you and your car, because of the other cars on the road, very basic concept, David.

And I want to put on for your analysis where we`re seeing cases go up right now, because "The New York Times" is showing the potential COVID outbreaks by the high daily growth rates. And it`s Arkansas, Texas, parts of California, Arizona, Tennessee, David.

FRUM: Right.

But it remains not -- this disease is, unfortunately, not -- or it is not - - it`s not a moral question. It`s not an equal opportunity attacker, the way very few things in America are equal opportunity.

And even as the virus spreads from the dense cities of the coast into the interior of the country, it`s not affecting everyone equally. In the interior of the country, it strikes prisons. It strikes meatpacking plants. It strikes the poorer and the older. It strikes nursing homes.

And I think the thing that it`s -- it`s a very painful thing to face, but the Trump administration is making a more or less calculated decision that -- as we have discussed often on this program, that they can take the punch, and the punch will be suffered by people who are not going support the president anyway.

And then the economic benefits will accrue to people who do support the president. And it`s very cold-blooded. It may turn out to be in the end wrong, but it`s calculated, that we are trading risk and benefit, but not randomly, the risks to our opponents, the benefits to our friends.

MELBER: Doctor?

SPENCER: I think, looking at those numbers, what really strikes me is just what was said. This is not an equal opportunity virus.

Look at Yuma, Arizona, and the fact that the impact and the per capita cases on the Navajo Nation have been higher than even in New York City. We know that this has disproportionately impacted communities of color, already vulnerable communities.

And every time that I see people outside flouting social distancing, getting into a pool, pretending like this can`t impact them, I`m thinking about who that puts at risk. It puts at risk all the people that may work alongside those people, all of the other people that are exposed, these essential employees that, quite frankly, don`t have the same opportunity to social distance, don`t have the economic ability to stay home.

And that, unfortunately, is what I have seen, what we have seen here in New York City. And we know it`s going to happen all throughout the country.

The other thing I get really worried about looking at where cases are increasing is that, here in New York City, we were able to bring in a massive Navy ship. We were able to convert a Convention Center for overflow capacity.

That does not exist in a lot of rural communities and a lot of the communities that could potentially be disproportionately impacted by this. Scaling up ICU beds, as we`re seeing in Alabama right now, scaling up critical care, other things that will be necessary to decrease mortality and provide the right quality of care is not as easily done in many places as it is in New York City.

And, quite frankly, we, I think, dodged a bullet by just a day or two. We got lucky.

MELBER: Right, and that the time is not equal either here.

Some places are in a later stage than others. And so, although we`re on the national news, and there is plenty of national conversation, and the Internet, you can see any part of the country, for those living in some of these places we have just highlighted, you may be at the front end. You may be at the risk of what other places were facing earlier, like March.

And that`s important, as the doctor pointed out.

Dr. Spencer, David Frum, and Governor Whitman, thanks to each of you.

We have a lot more on tonight`s show. Coming up, there are protests on this case regarding a man dying after being restrained, the controversial maneuver by police. Video shows him repeatedly saying -- you see it in the still right there in the photograph -- quote -- "I can`t breathe."

We have that story for you, it`s important, later tonight.

Also, a former Obama official joins me to discuss Donald Trump`s plans for a -- quote -- "boisterous in-person convention."

Meanwhile, new fears about scenes like this that we have been discussing. What do you need to know to keep yourself safe and how to make risk- adjusted decisions?

Also tonight, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from "The New York Times," I should say, Thomas Friedman, also an author, is back on THE BEAT. It will be interesting to get his perspective.

I`m Ari Melber, and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back.

You know, the news is full of reports about what politicians say and do, and we all know sometimes the impact can be quite limited.

Other times, what they say and do can set the agenda for life-and-death decisions. Many have seen this weekend`s contrast of Biden wearing a mask, while Trump did not. It was all over the news. It was all over the Internet. It is now something we all are living through.

But here is how it`s actually playing out. Consider the packed beaches in Alabama this weekend. I want you to see this. This is a region where the president is popular. And beachgoers clearly say their health decisions are following their president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if he is not wearing a mask, I`m not wearing a mask. If he is not worried, I`m not worried.

QUESTION: The president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: "Yes, sir."

OK.

For the president`s critics, that is an indictment. Now, if you wanted to root on any president, imagine a president who deployed the same apparent influence that you see there to encourage people to actually follow his administration`s guidelines.

That would be a good thing.

Mr. President, you could do that. It would, according to the science, reduce cases right there in Alabama, which is currently seeing a spike in cases as it reopens.

And the point here is not to criticize any given president. I promise you, if he does that, we will report it, and we will talk to people, including experts, who say it`s a good thing, as I just said it would be.

But the president chooses not to do that, and chooses to go further in the other direction, mocking his rival, Joe Biden, for wearing one, which further politicized this, which is you know is a concern of mine, because I mentioned at the top of our broadcast.

And the president does all that, not only as the CDC, but even several other Republicans, governors in the states that are closest to this are urging people to protect themselves and follow the science.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND): I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through, where they`re creating a divide.

Either it`s ideological or political or something around mask vs. no mask.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): This is not about politics. This is not about whether you`re liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican, Democrat.

You wear the mask not to protect yourself, so much as to protect others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Protect others. That`s what it`s about. And if you want to be idealistic, or what some would just call ethical, you should care about those others, no matter who they are.

But you think you would especially care if they were other people that you already care about, you already deal with, that you`re already living with.

We all know that you care a lot about your own community, your own family. And President Trump, though, is doing something different as well. He is pushing for a Republican Convention with a boisterous live crowd, as a deliberate contrast to the events held by Democrats, another chance, depending on how it goes, that could pose a risk.

So, how should Americans stay focused on the facts right now?

Obama Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Robinson are going to tackle it all when we`re back in just 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Joining me now is former health secretary in the Obama administration, also the former governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post" Gene Robinson. He has a new piece examining what he calls Donald Trump`s leadership failures, going from the mask to the golf course.

Since you have the piece, Gene, I invite you to fire away, sir.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, there have been many opportunities -- this past weekend was another -- for President Trump to model the behavior that his administration recommends for Americans who are out in public and can`t properly socially distance as we emerge from the lockdowns.

He could have worn a mask, but he didn`t. As a matter of fact, he golfed on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is the day that he said it was essential that churches be open. He could have gone to church and worn a mask. He could have had a twofer on Sunday, but he went golfing without a mask.

And it just -- I think that`s an image that`s going to stick with us as we as we cross this 100,000-deaths grim milestone that none of us ever wanted to cross or imagined that we would.

It just says an awful lot about the consequences of having not a leader as president, but, frankly, a hyperactive Twitter troll. And that`s what he -- that`s what he primarily is these days. And it`s tragic for the country. It`s going to cost lives.

MELBER: Well, Gene, you`re echoing Dave Chappelle, who said right after November `16, he said, America, you did it. You elected a troll.

And a troll can generate attention. A troll can generate attention. A troll can even upset people so much that it builds an energy and a type of momentum that way.

But trolls historically, Governor, I`m sorry to extend the metaphor, while coming to you as a serious policy-maker, but trolls are not known to be as great making hard decisions in leadership.

And to profile you a little bit, many viewers know you, Governor, but you were blue enough for Obama and red enough for Kansas, which is to say you found a way to solve problems and not be in this polarized political mess.

I`m curious what you think about what Gene said, what we just showed, and this article here, the Associated Press reporting, face masks have become a -- quote -- "political statement in the time of the virus, a visual shorthand for this debate," which I would guess is not the ideal scenario we want to be in if we have a long time left navigating this.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I find it just -- I read Gene`s piece, which, of course, is brilliant and quite captivating, because it shows just the contrast that we have.

A president could model good behavior. A president could listen to the science that -- of the experts he hires. He could encourage governors to do the same. He could encourage young people in this country to sacrifice a little bit of vanity and wear a mask, so they can protect others around them who might not be so fortunate.

He won`t do any of the above. And as your earlier panel discussed, this disease falls more heavily on black, brown, and red people. The unemployment is nearing 40 million, falling heavily on low-income folks. Often, those crosses -- those strains cross paths.

This is a president who refuses to acknowledge any loss, any kind of issue about himself. He gets tested every day. He and Vice President Pence have acknowledged that they have been in immediate contact with COVID-positive patients in their small offices.

As far as I know, there is no contact tracing going on. There is no isolation. I mean, Melania Trump should be isolated, right, because she is near the president who got in contact with a valet. She may have been in contact with the valet.

All the things that we know will save lives, will save the health workers who are on the front lines who don`t have the capacity in states like Kansas to deal with a wave of the virus are just being ignored.

This isn`t a reality TV show. It`s life and death for a whole lot of people. And to have a president who just flaunts the idea that I can fly on a private plane, I can be tested every day, I live in a house that gets cleaned 5,000 times a day, and I`m not going to pay attention to anything, except my own reelection, is really terrifying.

MELBER: And, Gene, for governors who are struggling with this, take a listen to something that people should really hear, the North Dakota governor, Burgum. This was going into the weekend. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURGUM: If someone is wearing a mask, they`re not doing it to represent what political party they`re in or what candidates they support.

They might be doing it because they have got a 5-year-old child who`s -- who`s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID and they are fighting.

If somebody wants to wear a mask, there should be no mask shaming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Gene?

ROBINSON: Yes, the president once again has no regard for these Republican governors, like the governor of North Dakota, like Mike DeWine in Ohio, these governors who see this wedge being driven between mask wearing and not mask wearing, and see that becoming some sort of political litmus test, when, in fact, they are responsible for the health and well-being of their citizens.

They know the capacity of their health systems. They know what can happen if COVID-19 gets out of hand. And they know that the right thing to do is mask-wearing, yet the president has no regard for that. He`s concerned only about his own reelection. And he sees some political advantage for himself, not for anybody else, but for himself, in driving this wedge.

And so he pounds away. And, once again, the consequences are real, and they`re consequences of life and death. And it`s not being melodramatic. It`s just the science.

MELBER: Yes.

And so, Governor Sebelius, on the practical side, what would you do, given your pretty relevant experience, but at the Health Department, federal, and running a state, if you are in a state where, again, there are plenty of people who are big Donald Trump supporters?

That`s a huge part of the country, even if it hasn`t been measured ever up to 50 percent. And so if masks are being now seen, rightly or wrongly, as a kind of anti-red hat, that`s going to -- that`s going to compromise what the CDC says will curve the spread of the virus, regardless of the partisanship of a state.

SEBELIUS: Well, that`s right. I do live in a state that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. I think he won Kansas by 16 points.

I live in a community where people not only respect one another, but care about one another. And mask wearing is something that is done in grocery stores, on the street. It is not a shameful event. We do see some younger people who are ignoring it, and, sometimes, they are actually called out by mask wearers, not the other way around.

It is seen as a sign of respect for the health care workers and the grocery store workers. Many of the stores around here mandate masks. You cannot enter a store, you cannot go by groceries, you can`t conduct business outside without wearing a mask.

And, luckily, we have a governor who has been very thoughtful, careful, and measured, according to the science, about what the state is doing. So there have been -- there have been a prison outbreak, there has been an outbreak at a meat processing plant.

But we have relatively little community spread and community disease. But we`re a state where ICU beds are very few and far between outside of the urban areas, and if this disease spreads to some of those communities, it will be devastating for the whole town, because there is no way to escape an outbreak, and there is no way to care for truly sick people when you don`t have an ICU bed or a ventilator in hundreds of miles.

So, this is really life or death in the part of the country I`m in. So, yes, we have people here who voted for Donald Trump, and, yes, we have people here who listen to the science and are respectful of our governor following the science, and that`s a good place to be.

MELBER: Appreciate both that perspective and the conversation the two of you are having. I think it helps as a bit of an antidote to some of what we have documented tonight.

Governor Sebelius, Gene Robinson, thanks to both you.

We have a lot more in tonight`s show, including a story we haven`t gotten to yet, but you really need to hear. This is a very controversial police incident, a black man dying after a Minneapolis officer was pinning his neck, and the video -- on the video, you can hear the individual saying, "I can`t breathe," a really harrowing call.

There is now an FBI probe -- that story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Now to new reports of a controversial police stop that ended in a death, all caught on tape.

Tonight, there is outrage over the case of this man who died after being restrained by police. And you will see on this video, he repeatedly can be heard saying -- quote -- "I can`t breathe."

Minneapolis police officers were approaching George Floyd as a potential forgery suspect last night, and they allege that he resisted arrest.

But it is now the police actions that are under scrutiny because of video taken by a witness showing about five minutes of the interaction, including this controversial move, where a police officer puts and compresses his knee on Floyd`s neck, leading him to repeat, "I can`t breathe."

Now, before I show you this, let me explain how we approach these matters, because it is obviously difficult to look at anything leading into somebody`s death.

What we`re showing here is a very short clip once, so you can have some understanding of the larger context before we turn to the expert. Here the clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE FLOYD, MINNEAPOLIS: I can`t breathe. Please. A knee in my neck. I can`t breathe, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, get up and get in the car, man.

FLOYD: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: I can`t move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, police acknowledge Floyd was unarmed. The FBI and state officials are now investigating the incident. That`s a day into it.

If you watch our program, you may know that is much faster than any other such incidents, where, sometimes, it takes more public pressure.

Also, we want to show you the mayor separately announcing the four officers all involved in this particular arrest have now been fired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB FREY (D), MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: Time and again, we have seen black men die at the hands of law enforcement or, more recently, not law enforcement, for no reason.

There will be an investigation conducted into the civil rights violations by the FBI, and I think that was absolutely the right call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: As for that simple plea, those three words -- quote -- "I can`t breathe," it is, sadly, familiar to many because it became something of a national protest anthem after Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York, had said those words, also caught on tape, repeatedly when a New York police officer was holding him in what was deemed an illegal choke hold before his death.

Joining us now is Marq Claxton. He is a retired NYPD detective and director of public relations and political affairs for the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. He comes to us with a deep knowledge of both policing and these civil rights issues.

Thank you for joining us tonight.

MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Thank you, Ari. I appreciate it.

MELBER: With regard to the incident itself, based on the available evidence, which includes a much longer video than the clip we showed, as well as some reporting, but it is early, obviously, when you look at that available evidence, what do you see in this incident?

CLAXTON: What I see is something that`s very difficult to watch and has, unfortunately, become all too frequent in the communities of color in particular, and that is the pain, the anguish, and in this case, as in some other cases, the actual death of an individual.

It is absolutely avoidable. Many of these cases are. And I think the fact that we refuse to deal with the role that race plays in the enforcement of law, we will continue to see these instances take place. And justice is so far away for these families.

There have been historical cases similar to this one that kind of give us a blueprint and a guide as to the eventual outcome perhaps of this particular case. But it`s very painful. It`s very troubling, very difficult to watch. And there is more than just individuals. There is a community of individuals and civilians who are suffering behind it.

MELBER: At the practical level of police maneuvers, we have seen these type of incidents -- I mentioned the Garner case -- where, although this will be litigated, so I will say it very carefully, there is an allegation of deadly force.

As you know and I think viewers know, there is a larger legal process for determining cause of death, autopsy, et cetera. But an allegation of deadly force that comes out of techniques that are not supposed to be deadly. A choke hold or a restraint is obviously not supposed to be a method to execute someone in custody.

Let me read from the Minneapolis policy on this for your analysis for our viewers to understand, because they define the neck restraint as compressing one or both sides of the individual`s neck with an arm or leg without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway. The guidance notes, they shall not be used against subjects who are passively resisting.

As with all policing, this -- most of this is at the local level of rules and laws. What can you speak to both the rules and whether they were followed and what`s shown on the video?

CLAXTON: We have to be very careful here.

And that is, this is an opportunity really to commend the response by Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo, because what they realized and understood is that we can deal with the minutia of the specific rules and regulations as it relates to police use of force, et cetera, we can deal with some of the fringe areas of the law, or we can deal with what we actually saw with our own eyes and deal with this case and other cases like it on an emotional, responsible way to really address the issue at hand.

Because, if we have a debate or a discussion about the intricacies of police tactics, et cetera, then we miss the point. The point of...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Let me jump in, though, and say, are you suggesting that, legal or not, your concern is the restraint being discriminatorily used on this suspect, when it wouldn`t be used on a similar suspect, a forgery suspect who might happen to look different?

CLAXTON: That`s part of the concern.

The larger concern is that sometimes we kind of -- you know, we lose the forest for the trees, and that we have an individual here who should not be subjected to extrajudicial execution who was subjected to extrajudicious execution.

And if we don`t examine some of the larger sociopolitical elements and issues, then we kind of miss the opportunity to prevent this from happening ever again. So, we can -- and, respectfully, we can have discussions about the legal terminology and use of force issues here, but, sometimes, it`s larger than even those issues.

And what I have found, what communities of color have found is that, when we begin to focus on those issues, we kind of lose it, because, eventually, there may be federal intervention in this case, there may be some state intervention, et cetera.

MELBER: Right.

CLAXTON: But what we want is justice, in the sense that no one should be subjected to this, and no family should have to deal with this pain, and no community should have to feel as if they are subjected to this time and time again.

MELBER: Right.

Marq Claxton, thank you, as always, and appreciate your expertise on this.

We`re fitting in a break, and when we come back, Tom Friedman on THE BEAT.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: And we welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning "New York Times" foreign affairs and columnist and author Thomas Friedman back to THE BEAT. His latest book is "Thank You for Being Late."

And, you know, Tom, I don`t want to blow up your spot, but we had enough Skype issues that you were slightly late, so we moved you lower in the show. Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Don`t tell anybody. I talk the talk of technology. I don`t walk the walk. So, it`s a problem.

MELBER: Well, we all deal with that. So, I`m glad we got you in.

People know many of your ways of looking at the world. The world is flat. Right now, the world is sick. And you`re writing about the battle that Trump has on a fundamental level with Mother Nature.

What do you mean?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Ari, from the very beginning, I have tried to frame this coronavirus in the context of, this is really the first time that Mother Nature has had the whole wide world in her hands.

All the world is experiencing the same challenge. No member of our species has ever had this experience, because none of us were really around basically in 1918.

And when Mother Nature poses a challenge like this, she doesn`t reward the strongest. She doesn`t reward the smartest. She rewards the most adaptive. And she basically rewards three adaptation strategies.

First of all, she rewards the most humble. Who respects her virus? Because who doesn`t respect it, she will hurt you or someone you love. Second, she rewards coordination, because she evolved her viruses over millennia to find whatever weakness in your immune system is there.

And, lastly, she rewards people who adapt their adaptation on chemistry, biology physics, and only those, because that`s all she is, chemistry, biology and physics, and not an ideology politics or an election-year schedule.

So I think that`s been the biggest challenge for Trump. He`s someone who looks at the world through markets, but not through natural systems. And this is a giant natural systems challenge.

MELBER: Yes.

And you see that from that culture top-down with the type of people who Americans are hearing from. We have been reporting that throughout the hour with the impact, the reaction.

Here is Larry Kudlow, who works on the economics for Trump. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Has the economy hit bottom amid this pandemic?

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: I think it`s possible. I mean, I think you`re in a turning zone phase.

These signs are showing a lot more glimmers of hope. We believe in personal freedom, and a lot of people want to exercise their own personal freedom and get out there and start shopping again, start running their small businesses again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Tom, at the most superficial level, there are people who would find that appealing and say, freedom is good and you do need to go to work.

But it`s not that simple, as you have been writing. Why is that?

FRIEDMAN: I believe in common sense, basically.

You know, one of the popular protest signs was, "My freedom doesn`t stop where your fear begins."

Well, actually, you know, your responsibility starts where my fear begins.

Ari, from the very beginning -- and you and I have talked about this -- I believe we did have to always balance how to save the maximum amount of lives and the maximum amount of livelihoods, because there`s a lot of ways to die. You can die deaths of despair as well.

So, I`m glad people want to go to work. But you have got to do it responsibly. You can`t just say, I`m going to go to the bar, OK, and then I`m going to go shopping. Wait a minute. You go shopping in the Giant here in Washington, there`s someone working there with a mask on.

They`re probably making $20 an hour, $15 an hour. I don`t know exactly. But they`re risking their lives stocking that shelf every day.

So, you go to a bar. You gather in a closed room, where coronavirus can easily be spread. And then you say, and now I`m going to go shopping, and you infect or you threaten someone who is risking their lives, so you can - - so your family can get their food.

And so, yes, I believe people should go to work. They want -- they should go out. I`m doing that. I want to do that.

But I try to do it responsibly, and respect my neighbor and respect the fact that we all really are in this together, because Mother Nature doesn`t discriminate.

MELBER: As someone who likes to think in terms of paradigms, do you think that this will be the coronavirus generation, that this will really shape a certain cohort, or is it too early to tell?

FRIEDMAN: Well, one of the things I have been talking about lately -- I`m doing a big piece for "The Times" this weekend on this -- is looking back, Ari, on the last 20 years of column writing, I realized I have actually covered four pandemics.

I covered a geopolitical pandemic. It was called 9/11. Then I covered a financial pandemic. It was called 2008. Now I`m covering a biological pandemic. It`s called COVID-19. I will soon be covering an atmospheric pandemic called climate change.

So, I think this generation, my generation and my kids` generation, is a generation that`s been increasingly vulnerable to basically outlier events in an increasingly intertwined...

MELBER: Yes.

FRIEDMAN: And I think that`s going to be the big challenge as we look back on it and as we go forward.

MELBER: Yes, you lay that out.

It`s true, and particularly younger people or people who are trying to start their lives in households dealing with both the financial crisis, the Trump disruption, and now the pandemic, and what does that do to our expectations while we still power forward?

Tom, thank you for being here. Thank you for being late. I hope you come back.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks for your patience.

MELBER: Oh, thank you. Yes, sir.

When we come back, we`re spotlighting a disruption that also has a positive to it, some uplift starring Obama -- when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Welcome back. Graduation season is different this year, most schools closing early, of course, many hosting classes, as well as graduations on Zoom or FaceTime.

President Obama got involved. He gave a special virtual address to students graduating in this tough time. And the culture is already reckoning with this new reality.

Take this new music video featuring real graduates from the class of 2020 celebrating, while following guidelines and social distancing at home.

This is by singer Teyana Taylor. And I just caught up with her about why she wanted to encourage this year`s graduates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEYANA TAYLOR, MUSICIAN: And I didn`t get the chance to graduate. And I wasn`t even going through a pandemic. I was homeschooled.

So I knew how it felt to not feel celebrated or to not walk across a stage. Right now, it`s for -- it`s to uplift them.

You did it, you. Nobody else did that for you. You did that.

We`re proud, whether it is from home, from the backyard. It doesn`t matter. We see you, and we celebrate you. And that`s why I did that video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You did that.

If you are watching and you graduated this year, you made it through this tough time. And I know we have some younger viewers. I want to echo Teyana in saying, you made it.

I think we can all get behind that sentiment for encouraging young people, who are -- as we were just discussing earlier in the show, who are part of this coronavirus generation.

And we need to have all of the uplift and support and positivity. Even as we face the realities, we confront the sadness, there is light and there is future here.

Now, during the same interview I want to show you, Taylor and I were surprised by another young person, her daughter Junie, who just crashed this interview and then asked if we could see her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: Sorry. It`s -- it`s crazy time now works.

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: No, you can -- bring it in. This is what -- we`re talking about young people.

How you doing?

IMAN "JUNIE" TAYLA SHUMPERT JR., DAUGHTER OF TEYANA TAYLOR: They don`t see me.

TAYLOR: They do see you, baby, right there.

MELBER: Yes, we see you.

TAYLOR: Yes, you`re right there on TV too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You`re right there on TV.

Yes, we do see you, Junie. And we see all the other people coming up right now.

I want to thank Teyana Taylor and her family for stopping by. And that forthcoming project of hers, "The Album," comes out in June.

Thanks for watching THE BEAT.

And keep it right here, right now on MSNBC.

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