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Rayshard Brooks TRANSCRIPT: 6/17/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Jarrett Adams, LL Cool J, Barbara Lee


Good evening, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And we begin with breaking news in the Rayshard Brooks case, prosecutors in Atlanta today filing charges against the police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks just this past Friday. This is a big story, and we have it covered for you with several different angles and experts.

The fired police officer, Garrett Rolfe, faces 11 charges. They`re really throwing the book at him. That includes felony murder. What does that mean? Well, he could face life in prison without parole or even the death penalty if he`s convicted.

Now, his partner, Officer Devin Brosnan, facing three separate charges, including aggravated assault. But in a surprising and incredibly rare move that we will dig in with you tonight, Brosnan is now turning state`s witness. That means he will testify against his former partner Rolfe. That is a huge deal.

I have a breakdown on that coming up, including some special guests.

We want to stick, though, before we get into all of the legal explanation, to the big news on how this affects, of course, a situation across the nation, where there has been -- you know about it, the president knows about it, everyone knows about it -- a roiling national pressure campaign to try to change racism in criminal justice.

All of that is the backdrop for an extraordinary afternoon in Atlanta, the DA explaining how his office decided to charge the officers and now arguing in public, as he will argue a jury, if this goes to trial, that the evidence shows, he says, Rayshard Brooks, who was killed that day, was not even a threat.


PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat. At the very beginning, he was peacefully sleeping in his car. After he was awakened by the officer, he was cooperative.

Mr. Brooks allowed them to search him, and the search yielded no weapon.


MELBER: That was DA Paul Howard explaining how, according to not only the video evidence, which many have seen, but other evidence that we`re just hearing about for the very first time tonight, including the testimony I mentioned, testimony of other witnesses and other materials, the DA saying all of that together makes this case for felony murder, outlining how, after Brooks failed that sobriety check, the conversation still endured for many minutes and seemed peaceful.

Then, when the officers did attempt to handcuff Brooks, the DA stressing they didn`t even say what Brooks was under arrest for, which is a requirement in general. A scuffle then ensues, which we know about. You see that here.

Brooks eventually then trying to flee, to run away. And he did apparently take one of the officer`s Tasers. As he then fled after what you see here, he was shot twice in the back, the DA revealing that Officer Rolfe, according to the evidence, said allegedly -- quote -- "I got him" right after shooting Brooks.

Now, you can see in the surveillance video he then kicked Brooks -- you can see it there -- as he was lying on the ground, we now know, dying, the DA describing that as criminal evidence and describing it as kicking a man while he fought for his life, a life that ultimately he was not allowed, of course, to live.

We have many different aspects of this story for you tonight. We believe this is a very important development, including the testimonial part that I mentioned, which we`re going to get into later in the show.

The nation continues to wrestle with how to reform not only policing, but what protesters insist is systemic racism that courses through the government, local and federal, run by Democrats and Republicans.

You know about it. This is the big conversation. One difference here, which people can assess what it means -- and, of course, it`s the very beginning of a legal process, not the end -- but one difference is, a killing, which the DA says was tragic and the DA is charging as murder, a killing that occurred Friday now has these two charges by Wednesday.

We have our experts.

And we begin on the ground with NBC`s Blayne Alexander in Atlanta.

Blayne, you have been reporting this story out for some time. Based on both what you saw previously, as well as the lead-up to today, and then the DA`s presentation, what is the state of the mood, the feelings, the reaction in Atlanta?


So, Ari, before I get to that, though, I do want to actually give you a little bit of breaking news. We have just gotten a statement from an attorney who`s representing Officer Brosnan.

And he said that, contrary to what the district attorney said today, in the statement -- I`m going to read it to you -- he said: "Officer Brosnan has not agreed to be a state`s witness for the..."


MELBER: We`re going to get to that.

ALEXANDER: Go ahead.

MELBER: But why don`t we -- let`s start with Atlanta, and walk us through what you`re seeing there, and then we will dig into the other pieces.


So there have been a lot of protests over the past few days. I think that`s something that`s very big that we have certainly seen on the ground here. I can tell you that at the Wendy`s that`s kind of become this place where people have come and left tributes and left balloons and things like that.

We have seen gatherings. In fact, I walked out of that courtroom just after I finished listening to the district attorney. And as I walked over there, there were a number of people who had just gathered in the streets, protesters who were gathering in the streets wanting to block traffic, because those things that we heard in the -- what the district attorney said today were just so shocking to so many people, that there was an officer who kicked Rayshard Brooks as he lay on the ground, another who stood on his shoulders.

So that really was not just outside, but inside the courtroom, was a lot of the -- you could hear some verbal reaction to that. You could hear kind of a gasp to that inside the courtroom, Ari.

The other thing that we`re hearing, of course, is the family of Rayshard Brooks. Tomika Miller, his widow, was supposed to speak inside that news conference. Instead, her attorneys got up and said, you know what, she`s just too emotional. She can`t speak right now.

But she did end up speaking later. And, essentially, she said that it hurt to hear those details. It hurt to know that, according to the district attorney, there were about two-and-a-half minutes or so before the officers rendered aid, or a little more than two minutes.

Now, I do need to point out that both officers in a statement have said that they did render aid immediately. So, they`re pushing back on what the district attorney said.

But, certainly, for the people who are listening to those details, you could hear some very strong reactionary, Ari.

MELBER: Blayne Alexander on the ground, thank you so much.

I want to turn to our experts, Reverend Al Sharpton, head of the National Action Network, host of "POLITICS NATION" here on MSNBC, and has worked on many of these issues for so long, and California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Reverend Sharpton, there`s many different aspects to this, beginning with the big picture, because you have been, sadly, down this road many times. What do you view as important about the process as it`s played out since Friday?

And how rare is it to see a murder charge that was announced here tonight?

AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Well, first of all, I think that the meticulous way the prosecutor laid this out, anyone that was watching around the country could clearly see that this was a very ugly and -- I couldn`t even describe how obscene this was.

The person charged with murder, the officer charged with murder was not even the initial officer. He was the officer that came later. The initial officer, we`re told, is saying that he didn`t know that it would even require an arrest.

For it to escalate to the point where he shoots the guy in the back twice, and then puts his foot on him, is the kind of behavior that we have been fighting for years, saying that you cannot -- as you ask about big picture, you can`t remedy this, Ari, by saying we`re going to give you some incentives with money if you just can be -- have good behavior cops.

You got to start putting police that commit crimes in jail. They need to understand you cannot take the law in your own hand. And I think anyone that saw what happened with George Floyd, and now what we`re being told and see what happened in this case, has to say, wait a minute, this is not about changing some good neighbor policies of policing.

This is about, when police act in a criminal and apparently intentional matter, they have to be dealt with like any other criminal.

MELBER: Congresswoman?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Yes, first, let me just say, we grieve the loss and the needless killing, murder of Mr. Brooks.

And just seeing this video again, my heart is so heavy, and I just want to send my condolences, first of all, to his family, his friends and the entire Atlanta community.

Secondly, when you see what is taking place as it relates to just this video and what happened with Mr. Brooks, this is a process that has been going on for 401 years, as it relates to the dehumanizing of African- Americans.

So, the police officers in this instance thought it was OK to do what they did. I mean, here, there was no crime committed. And this -- Mr. Brooks is dead as a result. And so we have to do something.

And I want to just say, the protesters in the street and what is taking place now is forcing this country to address not only police brutality and misconduct, but systemic racism. And we have got to understand that enough is enough.

And we -- this has to stop, and we have got to get to the underlying reasons of why this is happening. And we have got to break that chain in terms of systemic racism in every aspect of American life.

MELBER: And, Reverend Sharpton, the DA laid out the case. That`s one side of the case. As we all know, there are two sides, and this will be litigated.

One of the assertions that he made regarding whether the arrest itself was conducted properly was about how Mr. Brooks was treated. He outlined, as I mentioned, his view that it was largely Mr. Brooks being cooperative until the end, and that, during the arrest, they were didn`t really inform him that he was under arrest.

That may be debated in court. Let`s play -- we pulled that actual exchange from the camera footage we do have. Let`s take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had about one-and-a-half drinks. You don`t remember what kind of drinks they were?



BROOKS: I really don`t, Mr. Rolfe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, I think you have had too much to drink to be driving. Put your hands behind your back for me. Put your hands behind your back.


MELBER: What did you think was important in the DA`s presentation about both -- obviously, there`s the killing itself, but he also went into some great detail about whether this transpired in a lawful manner as an arrest and in a manner that didn`t really control the situation, but rather seemed eventually to escalate.

SHARPTON: I think that it was very important that he did that, because, as we just watched the video, at no point did that officer say that you are under arrest for these reasons.

He said, I think you had too much to drink, and he then started handcuffing him. Well, the reaction from anyone would be, well, why are you handcuffing me? I have not even been arrested. You have not pronounced an arrestment. You have not said what I`m being arrested for. What is the charge? What is the suspicion?

You think I have had too much to drink them for? Therefore, boom, I`m going to put handcuffs on you. This is absolutely not only against the law. It is dehumanizing, like we can be just handled any kind of way.

And you don`t even have to worry about the law books or procedures, because we don`t matter. That`s what this whole movement is about. We do matter.

MELBER: Congresswoman?

LEE: Yes.

And let me just say that that`s what our Justice in Policing Act is addressing. We have to have accountability, transparency. We have got to make sure that there`s no immunity for police officers as a result of the police murders.

And so I think, legislatively, what you see taking place with the House and with the Congressional Black Caucus, our Chairwoman Bass and our Democrats, we`re moving forward to try to make some real systemic changes, not just reforms.

We need to make sure that police officers are held accountable. No one is above the law. And as this video shows, that can`t -- we cannot have immunity as part of the case that would allow these officers to get off the hook.

MELBER: And, Congresswoman, while you`re here, given that we`re both covering what`s out of Atlanta and the national implications, there has been, of course, much attention what Congress can do.

Do you see these protests as advancing a potential bill that still, of course, has to make it through the Senate? What do you see as the update there in your work?

LEE: Absolutely.

I mean, this bill is a great first start. And I think what you can see, though, and what you`re hearing on the streets of America is that we have to really restructure, divest, and we have to put resources on the front end, so that policing in our community is -- becomes similar to policing in affluent white communities, where shoot first is not the option for public safety.

We have to make sure that our community has the proper equal education, housing, mental health services, health services, the quality of life issue that every American deserves.

And we have to put more resources into those efforts and really stop funding the transfer of military weapons, for example, to local police. We have to stop funding these efforts that militarize our police forces.

MELBER: Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Reverend Al Sharpton, I want to thank you both on clearly a big news night.

You can catch more of Reverend Sharpton on "POLITICS NATION" weekends at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, always right here on MSNBC.

We have a lot more, as mentioned, in tonight`s show, including what would happen if these individuals do go ahead and go on trial, the DA laying out his case and updates on the other side of the case.

Also, Trump`s former aide accusing the president of not only trying to get Ukraine`s help, but also specifically China, to help win reelection, the abuse of power at the heart of the impeachment matter.

And later tonight, we have LL Cool J speaking out on many of these issues, including police injustice in America.

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


MELBER: Turning to some breaking news that we have just been getting and fact-checking in our newsroom, a key element of this Rayshard Brooks case.

The lawyer for the officer of Devin Brosnan is now, in a formal release that we have just gotten, pushing back against what the DA asserted today factually.

Now, we`re going to walk through exactly what the claims were. The DA had suggested -- and we will show you the exact words -- that the officer was a state`s witness, which we mentioned at the top of the show seems like a very significant development, and would testify against the officer who shot and killed Brooks.

But this is what we`re getting brand-new.

"To be clear, Devin is cooperating with the district attorney`s investigation." The lawyer says he`s met with the assistant district attorney investigator yesterday and answered their questions, but -- quote -- and the all-caps is in the original statement -- "he has not agreed to be a state`s witness or testify in any court hearing or to plead guilty to any charge."

Now, that, of course, conflicts with exactly what the DA outlined in today`s press conference. Take a look.


HOWARD: We have had something quite remarkable to happen in this case. And it involves the testimony of the other officer, Devin Brosnan, because Officer Brosnan has now become a state`s witness. He has decided to testify on behalf of the state in this case.


MELBER: You hear the words there from the DA. Our cameras were on, of course, part of the evidence that he was presenting.

But the key claim from the DA that was widely noticed was that an unusual development had occurred, and that, basically, the DA was asserting the other officer was turned -- quote -- "state`s witness" and would -- quote - - "testify."

As we have just reported, as we have just learned, the lawyer says no.

Now, here`s the other thing the DA said today:


HOWARD: He would become one of the first police officers to actually indicate that he is willing to testify against someone in his own department.

We`re very surprised and really almost shocked that Brosnan has come forward, because, in our other cases, we do not get statements to assist us from the officers involved.


MELBER: A lot unfolding right now on this. And we will be joined by Maya Wiley on this latest story and what it all means when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: I`m joined now by Maya Wiley, who ran New York City`s Civilian Complaint Review Board for police officer alleged misconduct, an oversight agency, and Jim Cavanaugh, a longtime ATF agent and analyst for us.

Good evening to both of you.

There`s been many aspects to this. And we were discussing just the big deal of the murder charge itself at the top of our show. And that is a big deal and rare.

But the other asserted rarity that is now clearly widely contested was what we just walked through, the DA saying the partner had turned state`s witness. Now this brand-new two-page statement and release from his lawyer saying -- again, I just want viewers to have this -- "Devin is cooperating with the DA`s office, but not state`s witness" and has not agreed to -- quote -- "testify in any court hearing."

Your analysis, Maya.

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, given that the officer is facing charges, and he`s trying to figure out probably where and how he has room to maneuver that benefits himself, that`s probably part of what`s going on here. He wants to be cooperative and see what kind of deal he can cut.

That`s one possibility. I don`t know whether that`s happening. But I think this goes to your other point, Ari, which is just how rare it is for police officers to agree to testify against other police officers.

There`s a phrase in the New York City Police Department that goes better to be -- to appear before 12 than be carried by six, which is the implication being you would rather face the jury and basically stand by and be with your fellow officers, rather than be killed in the line of duty.

And it`s a mentality that, unfortunately, is so deeply cultural that it means that, sometimes, when cops do wrong, and other police officers know it`s wrong, they still feel -- it`s very difficult for them to believe they should come forward and testify.

I don`t know what`s happening in this particular case. But it was so serious here in New York that we actually passed a ballot initiative to give civilian oversight authority to charge officers with lying, even if we can`t charge the underlying and determine whether the underlying misconduct happened.

And that`s because of this pattern that we see.

MELBER: And so, in just making sense of this incident, you just referred to the fact that this officer, the partner of the officer who killed Brooks, is facing charges. So he has to figure out how he`s going to maneuver that.

And his lawyers may be in negotiations or not. What they`re emphasizing here at the end of the statement, which I have not read yet, but they say this was a rush to misjudgment, shame on the district attorney for this abuse of his charging power, shame on the district attorney for not honoring his oath, shame on the district attorney -- again, they write, for this rush to misjudgment.

So, things can change. But the language here doesn`t sound like they`re about to cut a deal today.

Do you believe, based on what is known in the public record, and it`s evolving as we learn more from everyone, but do you believe, Maya, that the district attorney may have thought he had more of an agreement than he did, and that`s why he said state`s witness?

WILEY: It certainly sounds like he thought he had more of an agreement than he did, based on his press conference.

And, frankly, lawyers don`t make those kinds of statements frivolously. He heard something that led him to believe that from the other attorney. So whether or not there was a change in strategy between those conversations or a miscommunication, we can`t say.

But that certainly is -- it was very strong wording from a district attorney. And I don`t think he would have made that statement frivolously, and particularly when he makes the point, rightly so, that this is very unusual.

I think something changed. I think that`s probably what happened. But I just have to say, like, the district attorney absolutely did what the public needed him to do, which was to demonstrate that police officers were going to be held accountable for their conduct, and, in this case, conduct, 10 witnesses.

I think there were eight separate videos that the district attorney had watched. So there`s no question that this was a thoughtful process, even if it was a fast process.

MELBER: You mentioned the DA, and there was, at times, the conviction with which he spoke.

Jim, here he was discussing this aspect again of it, which the officer`s lawyer now contests.


HOWARD: We have had something quite remarkable that happen in this case. And it involves the testimony of the other officer, Devin Brosnan, because Officer Brosnan has now become a state`s witness.

He has decided to testify on behalf of the state in this case.


MELBER: Jim, your take?

JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, there`s definitely a miscommunication here.

And I think the DA has done a good job here. He`s come out fast, like Maya said. I agree with that. It`s the problem in a lot of these cases. It`s not the main problem. The main problem is, we have got cops murdering people and then kicking them when they`re down and wounded.

This is -- it`s vulgar. It`s unbelievable. That`s the main problem. But the second problem is, justice delayed and justice denied. And we have got a murder on videotape, like Maya said. And I have investigated many things. She has as well.

But if I came into her when she was an assistant U.S. attorney and said, I have got the crime all on videotape, we would proceed. We would say, it`s here.

So I think this officer, the second officer, who`s not culpable of homicide, but aggravated assault, on videotape, will get with his lawyer. And he`s got an uphill slog, and likely he might decide to cooperate and testify.

So we do have -- like you pointed out, Ari, that it`s rare. The DA pointed out. But, in the end, in the end, the prosecutors hold the power, and they force the officers to testify, even though they`re reluctant.

In the Laquan McDonald case in Chicago, they testified against their colleague. In the Freddie Gray case, they testified against other officers. In the Ray Tensing Ohio case, they did.

All these cases, the prosecutors hold the power. And when they have the proof, they can take officers who are lesser involved, and they can force the testimony. So there is a thin wall of silence, true, blue wall of silence. Sometimes, it`s overhyped in Hollywood and so forth.

But here`s -- just finish with this thought. Look, every law enforcement officer in America, every cop -- and I was one for 36 years, uniform cop, federal agent -- you need to have a discussion with your partner before you go out on the shift. And you need to be trained in this and you need to do it.

You need to say, look, I`m not going to lose my career, my life, I`m not going to prison for you. I`m not going to lose my home and my family for you. I am not going to lie for you. I will back you up. I will take a bullet. I will do everything, but I`m not lying for you. And I don`t expect you to lie for me. Let`s get that straight. Let`s get that straight right now, before we start to shift and forevermore that we work together.

Let`s start there. And let`s get these racist and bully and corrupt cops out.

And I`m going to tell you what. If it`s not the proof that this cop was a racist cop, or a bully cop, when he went over and did a haymaker kick into Mr. Brooks, I mean, he just -- he just did the final argument for the DA. And it`s going to be a tough case uphill for that officer that landed that kick.

MELBER: Interesting hear you say that, Jim Cavanaugh.

And, as you mentioned, that was some of the evidence that the DA pointed to today. Much of it still stands and builds the case. But it`s fast-moving, with some of this now being debated out in public.

Jim Cavanaugh, Maya Wiley, thank you so much, both of you, for your insights.

We have a lot more in the show, including up next guest with a pretty unique perspective on police reform, a civil rights lawyer who got his degree after he was wrongfully imprisoned for up to a decade.

Also tonight, another big story back in Washington, reaction pouring into John Bolton making new, damning accusations against President Trump.

And later tonight, before we go, you will hear from the one and only LL Cool J live on THE BEAT talking justice and culture.


MELBER: As this national conversation and debate unfolds, the larger question is, what would be the future of these cases against the police if things do continue to change?

We have a special guest to get into that right now.

The breaking news has been this Atlanta officer indicted for the murder of Rayshard Books on Friday night -- Rayshard Brooks. We should note, though, that, in general, such type of police charges and convictions are rare.

In the last 15 years, about 110 officers have been charged total, five convicted of murder.

The wider reckoning comes as members of both parties are now admitting something should change. And the evidence for that is that both parties have some kind of police reform plan.

On choke holds, Democrats proposing a full ban. Republicans say they can still be used if deadly force is authorized. On no-knock warrants, which have been controversial in cases that have resulted in clearly murders of people who are not even suspects, killings of people who are not suspects, Democrats have a full ban. Republicans allow them if reported.

And then this big issue we have covered of qualified immunity. Can you take police to court easily or not? Democrats reforming it. Republicans don`t even address it in their federal bill.

On officer misconduct, Democrats proposing a full federal registry, Republicans saying, increase the data collection on use of force.

And on these larger questions of how do you deal with and define structural racism, Democrats want explicit training on racial bias. Republicans aren`t proposing direct training, but, rather, a commission to study the issue.

Those are just some of the big questions we want to get into right now with Jarrett Adams. He`s a civil rights attorney who went to law school only after he served nine years for a conviction that was ultimately overturned. And back with us is Maya Wiley.

Jarrett, you have been working on these issues for a long time, and you have lived through them, as mentioned. What are you thinking about tonight as you look over this landscape?

JARRETT ADAMS, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, thank you again for having me on, Ari.

And if you could remember, it wasn`t too long ago where you have me on when we were discussing the Laquan McDonald case. And that was the case, for the viewers who are watching, where the young man was pretty -- he was assassinated by the police, recorded.

The officer is found guilty, but he receives a seven-year sentence. So we`re not even past that, and here we are again with two more cases.

And what I would analogize this is to this, Ari. We continue to try to change the faucet, when we so desperately need to tear up the floor and fix the pipes. That`s what we`re doing right now with these conversations that we`re having. People are losing their lives, Ari.

Look, for black men and black people in general, this is the same movie. We`re in the same seat. We got the same drink and the same popcorn, expecting the same outcome, which is the sentence not to fit if he is convicted.


WILEY: Yes, I really think the important thing here is exactly that, is tearing up the floor and fixing the pipes.

Here`s the thing that`s so important about what Congress is trying to do. It`s trying to say, one, you have to know the -- what you`re supposed to do that makes it OK, right, be much more specific about what`s OK and what is not. Make it more fair and more like the rest of us in terms of having to comply with the law.

So, make the standards for deciding whether an officer has done right or wrong more like what the rest of us have to deal with in the law in terms of whether we are doing right or wrong. That`s make it a little easier to see, make it easier to hold them accountable when they do wrong.

And the third is exactly this point about, what our police officers are supposed to be doing? I think that`s a big pipe that the federal government is touching on with implicit bias training, it`s touching on with the escalation. The reality is, it`s got to get a lot deeper, and that deeper has to go a lot more local.

And what I mean by that is transforming what we even mean by what the police should be doing, because whether it was Eric Garner selling loose cigarettes that we treated as a crime and he was being arrested, or Rayshard Brooks, who was in a car, apparently intoxicated, just needed to be -- just needed to get home safely.

He could have been handed a summons for responding to driving under the influence, if that`s what was happening. None of those things required arrests. And unless we`re getting at what even arresting people for, we`re not actually going to get deeply enough into making the public safe, particularly if you`re black and Latino.

ADAMS: Absolutely.

MELBER: Jarrett, go ahead.

ADAMS: Yes. Yes.

I wanted to say this too as well, because I have talked to a number of different people today about this. And some of my colleagues have challenged me on this. And they`re like, well, look, why are they fighting? Why are they this? Why are they that?

Let me try to wrap this for people who are having troubles understanding this. In the African-American community, we don`t deal with post-traumatic stress. It is persistent, because nothing has ever stopped and been healed at all.

These interactions that these black men are having with these police officers, they are in fear for their lives as well. So, they`re running. They`re fighting. They`re trying to get away.

Just as was just stated, I have had a number of clients tell me that, not too long ago, that they would have a father driven home by the police and dropped off, and his car, to his wife, and not take him to jail. It didn`t result in death.

And so it`s OK for Congress to start talking about this and what they want to do, but they can`t start, Ari, without making sure that there is an independent body to evaluate these claims. You can`t ask the police to investigate themselves. And you can`t ask the prosecutors to do it, because that relationship is too closely mended together.

The only other relationship, Ari, that is that close is a doctor and a nurse. I can`t think of any other occupation where two people work side -- hand in hand like that.

MELBER: Yes, and that`s something we saw in the -- in some of these cases, both Minnesota and Atlanta, the pressure on the officers and everyone to defend the act, regardless of what the act was.

And the DA has to turn around and work with those officers the next day on all the other cases. And that, as you say, is one of the structural reforms that has not been instituted in most of the country that would make a difference.

Jarrett Adams and Mr. Wiley, I want to thank you both for your important insights tonight. We will see you both again.

ADAMS: Hey, thank you.


MELBER: Going to fit in a break and tell you we have a lot more -- yes, sir.

We have a lot more in tonight`s show. The only and only LL Cool J is on later in the hour. He has a new rap about George Floyd and why he`s using his voice, his platform and his music to address injustice.

But, before we get to that, right after the break, the other big story we haven`t hit yet this hour, John Bolton`s bombshell alleging Trump colluding with China for reelection.


MELBER: New and many say quite, really just impeachable accusations about Donald Trump trying to get foreign help for the 2020 election. We all remember that is what he was impeached for.

This is from an upcoming book by former National Adviser Security John Bolton, claims sparking outrage aimed at Trump and Bolton, who refused to testify about these claims during the impeachment process, as many remember.

Now Bolton, writing that there was a meeting that Donald Trump had with the Chinese president -- quote -- "Trump, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China`s economic capability, and pleading with Xi to ensure he`d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome."

Bolton also writing the Trump told Turkey`s president that he`d interfere in a criminal investigation, saying -- quote -- "Trump told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people," and describing that as a -- quote -- "problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people."

Now, Bolton asserting that he relayed concerns about all of this to Attorney General Barr and White House counsel Pat Cipollone. He also, though, refused to voluntarily come forward and testify about this during the impeachment trial.

And that has -- I should say, prompted this reaction from a House impeachment manager today:


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): It`s curious to me that now he has something to say, when he could have stepped forward as a patriot when the stakes were high and the president was on trial, and he ran and hid in the other direction.


MELBER: The Trump administration, for its part, is arguing that a lot of what`s in this book is not fit under law to be public. They`re trying to block the book`s release, but, as we`re seeing, key details coming out from reporting by newspapers and NBC obtaining the book.

We`re going to fit in a break, but when we come back, something very special at the end of our hour here, Grammy winner LL Cool J speaking out about police brutality and the death of George Floyd.

He`s here next.


MELBER: We have been tracking today`s breaking news: an ex-Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks now charged with felony murder and 10 other counts.

The news comes amid these broader calls, of course, for police reform, from activists, from people protest testing in marches and on the streets, to lawmakers in D.C. We heard from one tonight.

But there`s also a wider conversation that just shows how big this is, well outside of people who pay close attention to these issues or to politics or news. Consider all the cultural figures that have been weighing in.

Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce joined the protest. That was a big deal. He was on THE BEAT earlier this week. Or Dave Chappelle rushing out, effectively, another comedy special that was also more than comedy, raw and emotional, "8:46," about the Floyd killing.

And top rap artists, like J. Cole or Atlanta`s own Lil Baby, who`ve been weighing in with their perspectives and supporting the protests, addressing racism and police brutality in their work.

These are the signs of, of course, a wider movement, artists using their platform, their mics, their influence to push out messages to address social justice and to revisit many times things they have been saying for a long time.

Hip-hop trailblazer LL Cool J, no stranger to any of this, he recently delivered a powerful Black Lives Matter freestyle that spread online. That was just in the days following George Floyd`s death, before everyone knew what else was going to come.

He`s been returning to his roots as a top artist from hip-hop`s golden era. He came of age with other social justice rappers we may remember like Chuck D and KRS-One.

Two-time Grammy Award winner, American icon LL Cool J joins me now.

Welcome to THE BEAT, sir.

LL COOL J, MUSICIAN: Thank you, man. Thanks for having me, Ari. All good.

MELBER: Great to have you debut on the show. Like many, I am a fan.

LL COOL J: Thank you.

MELBER: I start, of course, with the serious news.

We arranged you to join us before we knew what would happen this afternoon. Your reaction to the DA`s announcement of a murder charge?

LL COOL J: I think it`s the right thing.

I think that we are going to have to really dig deeper into this idea of implicit bias and how that affects people`s decision-making. I think this idea that people automatically are afraid, I think, if you`re a person who is fearful, you shouldn`t be policing a community that makes you fearful, because that`s not a healthy mind-set to have, when you`re there to protect, because, the last time I checked, protecting people and being afraid doesn`t seem like a good combination.

I think being vigilant is one thing. But I think fear is a whole other thing. And I think that -- look, I think that the world, we have a righteous and just cause. We have a righteous beef. The world knows that. They watched that man get murdered.

And they watched it happen over the course of eight minutes and 46 seconds. And this was the first time that it wasn`t debatable. There was no debate. There was no splitting hairs. There was no, well, maybe he reached for the Taser, maybe he didn`t. There was no, well, maybe he kind of leaned to the left a little quickly.

No, you saw what happened. So, that`s why. And what we have also found out from this is that the globe in general, people are inherently good, for the most part. When you look out at those protests, and you look at the people on the front lines out there, they`re all hues, all ethnicities, all races, all genders.

Don`t get me wrong, black lives absolutely matter, but the fact that there are so many people supporting this movement just shows you that we truly do have the moral high ground. And this is something that is real to people. And the whole world is responding, I think, and for the most part on the right side of history, other than a few racists who are -- they`re going to be there to the end anyway.


LL COOL J: So I think it`s going in the right direction.

I think we`re one step closer to solving the problem.

MELBER: Well, it`s interesting to hear you contrast that, what you`re saying is wrong with the system, but what you see as the uplift, the light, perhaps, in people coming together.

We mentioned at the top -- and I want to play for viewers to see and hear your work on Floyd, because, as with so many issues, as it spreads and builds, more people are aware of it. But that starts somewhere.

And it starts, as you mentioned, with the activists and protesters, people who made this so people couldn`t ignore it, as well as artists and other storytellers, right, who are using their platforms.

So, let`s listen a little bit -- this was right afterward -- to what you posted online about George Floyd. Here we go.



LL COOL J: He cried for his mama as the murder unfold.

If it wasn`t for the phone, Chauvin would be at home, feeling justified because of George`s skin tone. I`m telling it to those with melanin, you`re not alone.

The new Malcolm, Martin, and Marcuses are now grown.


MELBER: And you looked -- you looked really upset there. Walk us through what you were getting across, how you were feeling.

LL COOL J: Well, I came from the heart.

I had tossed and turned all night, didn`t sleep, and just got out of the big, not from -- not -- I didn`t wake up, but just actually got out of bed at 7:00 in the morning wide awake, and was inspired, and wrote that in about 30 or 40 minutes, and just said it directly into my phone, you know what I`m saying?

And it came from the heart. It comes from a place of like, look, enough is enough. Let`s stop splitting hairs and utilizing these double standards to hide racism, because that`s all it is. You know, there`s an old saying, power takes as ingratitude the writing of its victims.

I said, power takes as ingratitude the writing of its victims.

In other words, I put my foot -- I put my foot on your throat or on your neck, and you disrespect me when you bleed on my shoe. You see what I`m saying?


LL COOL J: And that`s what I think we have been dealing with a long time, this idea that the law is for everybody else, this idea that the rules are for everybody else.

That`s something that had to change. And I think that now many, many people have joined in, and they realize how important it is for us as a society, because you got to understand something. I wouldn`t care if the Dow Jones was at 100000, and everybody was doing amazing.

When the morale of the country is as low as it is right now, that`s not a good look. To have a zillion dollars and be depressed -- what if somebody said, you can have all the money in the world, but you will never be happy again?

Yes, some people would sacrifice for their kids and children, but think about, what if it was, you can have all the money in the world, but your family will never be happy again?

MELBER: Yes. Yes, that`s deep.

LL COOL J: And that`s kind of the dynamic that we`re dealing with right now.

We have people...


LL COOL J: ... making excuses, you know?

MELBER: Now, LL, it`s deep.

And before I lose you, because I only have 90 seconds, I want to play -- we did dig up the old LL talking about how you were presenting something that people around America could get behind within a society with its history of racism. Take a look at classic LL.



LL COOL J: For white corporate America, who right now is looking at the rapper on television or the guy with the baseball hat, the guy with the shiny gold watch who uses the slang on his records, you do not have to be afraid of me.

I am merely trying to participate in capitalism and participate in this world.


MELBER: Apologies. I have 30 seconds.

But why was it important to you to navigate that way?

LL COOL J: Because, you know, at the end of the day, it goes back to the reason I`m building and the reason I built that right now, a platform that everybody who loves classic hip-hop can engage in.

We want to participate. So, now Run-D.M.C. are owners in, and Eric B., and Fab 5 Freddy, and Roxanne Shante, and Salt-N-Pepa.

So, this type of a platform, we want to participate. And it`s time for our voices to be heard. And we`re doing it through classic hip-hop now in a big way.

So, that`s kind of the short of it. But people should definitely go to and check out exactly what I`m talking about, if I piqued your interest, because I think that it`s really, really important for our country and important for the culture.


LL COOL J: And we have to support each other. You know what I mean?

MELBER: Well, you piqued our interest, and you have been in our living rooms for decades.

LL Cool J, thank you so much.

That does it for THE BEAT. Keep it right here on MSNBC.