CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you so much.
And welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And as we begin our broadcast this hour, we are seeing gatherings, meetings, rallies in cities across the country marking this Juneteenth holiday, commemorating the end of slavery, and amidst, of course, the national protests that continue to demand a larger movement to confront systemic racism.
Now, this annual event, steeped in history, does have quite clearly a special resonance for many right now. Now, some are drawing on the holiday to try to fortify the ongoing national protests against racism and police brutality and other issues.
We are seeing demonstrators invoke some of the initial progress that they believe was already won in the streets through pressure on politicians, on local officials, on, yes, district attorneys, as well as calls for all of the change yet to come.
In Detroit, we are seeing a new unveiling of a street mural with the words "Power to the people." You can see right there. This was painted by a group of students, the young people who have been so often leading the way recently, others mobilizing not only to mark or celebrate this day, but to unite it in the spirit of the larger demands for change, the wider protests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Meanwhile, you may recall President Trump actually had a political MAGA rally originally scheduled for today, right now. It would be in Tulsa.
That's also a site of a horrific massacre against African Americans. And under pressure, that particular political event was moved until tomorrow. That's a change we can report.
But whatever went into that decision, it is clearly not tempering Donald Trump returning to violent messaging, arguing today that he says protesters who try to come to his rally or outside it will be dealt with harshly.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, who, of course, are experts inside the Trump administration, they warned against holding this indoor rally in the first place.
Now, as people reflect on America's history and challenges today, there is other very relevant news coming in. The officer charged in the murder of Rayshard Brooks denied bond.
Meanwhile, one of the officers that was involved in that very controversial shooting of an innocent person, Breonna Taylor, she was not a suspect for anything, well, that officer is now being fired.
But, as we look at the resonance of the protests and the holiday, consider that wasn't something that was done when the facts came in or the evidence came in. It was done now, 100 days after her death , and only amidst the mounting pressure and attention on that particular case.
There have been, I should note, no public announcement about possible charges in that case.
We have a lot lined up for you in tonight's show, including our experts and analysts on this and other issues.
But because this is a special night, we do want to begin on the ground with our reporters, NBC's Cal Perry live from Tulsa's Juneteenth celebration.
We want to hear directly what we're learning on the ground and out there.
So, Cal, please take it away.
CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have three stories, Ari, and they're all converging on this city at once. You have the continued Black Lives Matter protests, that discussion around the country of how we should be policing, you have Juneteenth celebrations, and you have, as you said, 99 years and three weeks since that Tulsa massacre.
This neighborhood, an all-black neighborhood, was an economic powerhouse; 99 years later, there's a different standard of living here. There's twice as many on unemployment.
That is all a backdrop to what we're going to see tomorrow night, when the president of the United States holds a rally on the other side of town. I peer-pressured somebody into staying live.
And I apologize.
What is your name, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deshara (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
PERRY: I'm going to get right to it.
What do you think about the president holding a rally tomorrow?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Man, you know, it's such an interesting time to be black in America, when your president can choose such a sensitive time, not just for black people, but for Tulsans alike, to be selfish.
It really just shows the true character of Trump and his administration. It's like trying to have your birthday party at funeral. This is an important day to us. It's our independence day. We were not free on July 4. We were free on June 19.
This is an important day for us. And that's just the truth. So, if Trump had any kind of care or interest in learning who he's governing, this would be a time to do that. This would be a time to sit back, observe, ask questions, listen.
And just their sheer lack to do that, their lack of interest in learning, I mean, it just -- I'm not surprised. I can't be hurt. I'm not surprised, because this is who I thought he was in the first place, and he is just confirming that.
PERRY: Does it feel purposeful? Does it feel personal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it feel purposeful that he's having his rally here?
PERRY: Yes, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was intentional. Of course it was intentional. Let's just go ahead and be honest about that. It was intentional.
I don't know if it was his idea, or if it was his administration, but whoever thought of it was not thinking -- or maybe they were -- thinking about the time frame that they're having it in, and where they're having it.
I have been in Tulsa since I was 4 years old. I'm 25. That's 21 years. And all this time, at least I haven't heard of a president hosting a rally here in Tulsa at this time. And Trump, of all presidents, Trump, of presidents, is the one to do it.
PERRY: Thank you so much, Deshara.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're welcome.
PERRY: And, Sunny (ph), thank you for hanging in there.
Ari, today has been a celebration here. I think the question becomes tomorrow, when the president hosts his rally, if we have counterdemonstrators, how does the National Guard play into that? What happens?
I think that's the question on everybody's mind.
MELBER: Appreciate you're reporting, as always, Cal Perry.
And what we're doing, going around listening to people, a birthday on a funeral, quite a way for us to think about it.
Thank you, sir.
NBC' Morgan Chesky also live outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center. This is the site of tomorrow's Trump rally -- Morgan.
MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ari, good evening.
And people are starting to just grow in this square block area. We're about two blocks away from that center right now. And keep in mind that people have been showing up to this part of the city since as early as Tuesday to make sure that they have their spot inside that arena when President Trump takes the stage for the first time in about three months.
And we just learned today that, whenever they walk inside, people will be handed a mask, but they will not be forced to wear it. There will be hand sanitizer stations kind of scattered throughout the building. And there will be temperature checks as well.
As you can imagine, this is kind of becoming now the epicenter of the campaign for all of the supporters of President Trump.
And I'm joined by one of the now, Jason Berkas (ph), who drove in from Fort Smith, Arkansas, today. Jason actually drove in a couple days ago. And this is your first rally. You could be a lot of places right now.
Why was it so important for you to wait day by day to get inside that building come Saturday?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Donald J. Trump.
And I tell you, the enthusiasm that he creates, coming through with his promises, staying to work, not giving up, fighting back, it makes us proud. And since day one, I have always told myself that, if I could get to a rally, I'm going to go.
And this one isn't so far from Arkansas. I made the choice and got on my ride with my boy Flex (ph), and we did it.
CHESKY: Right. And you mentioned your boy Flex.
I don't know if the camera can pan out just enough to show the 22-month-old rottweiler friend of yours that you travel with everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CHESKY: Jason, tell me this.
You were talking about getting a chance to hear the president for the first time the other day. What message do you want to hear from him ahead of this upcoming election?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good question.
There's a lot to discuss with everything that's going on in today's news events, OK? So I would love to hear him talk about completing the wall. I would love to hear him talk about his pick of justices. I would like to hear him say, phase three, let's turn on the lights.
As a business owner myself, it's very important to me and my family, and then the families of my employees, who have kids. Without the lights on to this country, we're drowning. And it's time to stop. We have to make the right choices. Use protection, if we have to, with the mask and sanitizer.
But we have to move forward at some point.
CHESKY: Well, Jason, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us ahead of the big rally tomorrow.
And I have to ask real quickly, when you go inside, are you going to be wearing a mask tomorrow?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I'm forced -- if I'm forced to wear a mask, if it's a rule...
CHESKY: But you're not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's a rule to wear masks, I will wear a mask, guaranteed. Anywhere I go, I wear a mask.
However, if it's an option, I will definitely not wear a mask.
CHESKY: Got it. All right, thank you, sir.
So, for now, Ari, the crowds are growing here in downtown Tulsa. A curfew that was put in place last night has been lifted, and we will send it back to you.
MELBER: Morgan Chesky, as with all of our correspondents, thank you very much.
I want to bring it now some of our experts, having heard from these perspectives on the ground.
MSNBC correspondent Trymaine Lee is the host of the "Into America" podcast" and a winner of an Emmy and a Pulitzer and is with us for some special coverage tonight. And returning to the program, our friend Brittney Cooper, professor at records and author of the book "Eloquent Rage."
First of all, marking this holiday, good to have you both with me. Good evening.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Likewise. Thank you for having us.
BRITTNEY COOPER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Good evening.
MELBER: Brittney, we have discussed this before. You have educated us about not only what living history means, but what it distinctly means in the African American experience.
I'd like your views on everything you want to present us with tonight, and, in particular, your reaction to the young woman we heard from there on the ground, because I was taking notes. And among other things, she shared the insight that America really needs to understand the difference between July 4 and that rhetoric of freedom and June 19.
I mean, our Constitution and founding documents were really enshrined with a fundamental contradiction of this idea that all men are created equal, certainly excluded both women and African American people, when Thomas Jefferson wrote those words.
And so we are in a moment where we are creating with Juneteenth. Now, Juneteenth is fairly new to white America. It's one of those things that might be on your calendar, and it sort of passes every year. But I grew up in Louisiana, which is right next door to Texas. And so we celebrated Juneteenth when I was a child.
Local African American institutions threw parades. There were cookouts. So, it is a part of my history to understand that, even though America has one narrative about itself as a place that proclaims freedom, that, when we think about African American folks, many -- very often, our freedom project happens much later, right?
So if we think about the American Revolution, 1771 to 1775, that doesn't happen for African Americans until 1865. And what's even more shocking is, the Civil War ends in this country in April of 1865. But you still have enslaved people in Texas, in Galveston, in June of 1865 who have not been told they're free.
That's one of the things that we're understanding today, that the country has this reckoning, where we declare that we're free, we declare that we're post-race, we declare that we have made progress, and then we look at certain pockets of our country, and we realize that our people are still living in conditions that don't bespeak freedom.
And so this Juneteenth reckoning reminds us that America is a contradiction in terms in this way, that we are a group of people who love freedom, love to defend our rights, love to be beacons of democracy around the world.
But, really, we often are keeping certain groups of people, particularly people of color, and especially black folks, in conditions that just are not befitting of being the most lucrative country on Earth, the wealthiest country on Earth, a country that has pioneered this idea of democracy around the world in many ways.
And so African Americans are rising up in the streets today, and they are forcing us to publicly reckon with this. And the thing that we have got to keep asking ourselves as a country is why we're having the same battles that we had 150 years ago, while we're still having them today.
Let me add one other quick point. When the young woman in Tulsa talked about Donald Trump's dog whistle in terms of coming to the place of Black Wall Street to have this rally, for folks who think that that's so unique and so shocking, remember that Ronald Reagan went, in the 1980s, to Philadelphia, Mississippi, the place where Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, those wonderful luminaries of civil rights, were killed, to declare that he still supported states' rights.
So this is actually part of a more recent Republican playbook that, when you want to tell your base that you are not on board with African American freedom movements, you go to a place that is significant to the struggle for black freedom and civil rights, and then you declare things that are absolutely opposite and antithetical to that.
T. LEE: Brittney is always so eloquent and forceful and spot on with everything she said.
And I also want to note that Morgan Chesky that interview with the Trump supporter who has been in town for days. And when he asked him what he wanted to hear, he's talking about walls and phase three, while America is in a deep sense of mourning and grappling with itself.
And I think that is the one thing that is so amazing about this awakening around Juneteenth, whether it's corporate -- corporations now deciding it's a holiday, states are deciding next year it will be a holiday.
But just like the delay of 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, here we are 155 years later tripping over ourselves to engage with this question of freedom, if we're truly engaging with it.
And you hear it talked about in terms of celebration, but more so to me it's a commemoration of black folks who have struggled and fought for their freedom. It wasn't anything just handed, right?
But it's also been bloody and violent. And I have been cautioning all day in these hits, it's like, whenever we have seen progress throughout history, there is a backlash. When you talk about those 12 years of Reconstruction, then you had redemption. You come through with more progress and you get the Jim Crow laws through the '50s and '60s.
In the '80s and early '90s, you get crack babies and welfare queens and the militarization of the police. You always get that pushback.
So, right now, it's amazing that we have a glimpse of an awakening. And this moment offers a time to re-center the narratives that we tell about ourselves. But my concern is, it's so early. Is this a moment, or will this be something much bigger and see real systemic reform? Or is this just folks patting themselves on the back because, hey, we celebrated Juneteenth?
MELBER: Well, you're asking, is it a moment or a movement, which is one of the headlines on the screen, which, of course, Trymaine, you didn't know, but I guess we call that a mind meld.
MELBER: But that is a question that has coursed through other times that were only moments. And then we can learn from the civil rights history of the movements.
Brittney, we have also, of course, the footage right now in Boston, and places in North and South, that are gathering, that are tying this into the protests, as mentioned.
And I'm curious what you see as the summer marches on, as some of these judicial cases will become very long-term, because, usually, the issue was -- and we have done documented is -- that, because of systemic racism, there's not a charge in the first place. So that's the first problem.
But now that there are charges, that's not going to be on a traditional timeline of protests or what's happening next week. Even a fairly run case can take a year or more, depending.
So I'm curious, as we look at these gatherings today on the screen, Brittney, what you think about the prospect for Trymaine's call for the -- or analysis of that potential call for a longer-term movement.
COOPER: What I want to say is that this is a movement, right?
Let's remember that this is what we were doing in the summer of 2013 when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin. This is what we were doing in the summer of 2014 when Michael Brown was killed. This is what we were doing in the summer of 2015 when Charleston happened.
So we have been in a sustained movement moment. And, sometimes, when we look back at civil rights, we think of that as 1954 Brown vs. Board, or we think of it as 1964 Civil Rights Act, but think about the 10 years between Brown and the Civil Rights Act.
And so we're in a long, sustained period of protest. The other thing we're learning in this country which is deeply uncomfortable for us is that nothing actually happens that makes us really stand by our stated creeds until people take it to the streets.
So, I think you're going to see a long, hot summer, Ari. I think that folks are going to continue to protest, because it's not enough to just have charges. We want convictions, but we don't just want convictions. We want the police to stop killing African American people. We want policing to have a fundamentally different relationship to our communities.
We want the money that we have poured into policing and the militarization of the police that happened a lot after 9/11 to stop and to move back into communities, to move into funding schools, to move into funding public health, to move into funding mental health.
The fundamental argument being made here is that you wouldn't have a focus on crime if you actually created conditions that were livable for African American people, if they could go to work, if their children could be in good schools, if our kids could be raised in safe neighborhoods.
And so this strategy, this push is all about demanding that we stop thinking about the police as the solution to our problems, and we begin to really have a conversation about how structural racism has created these barriers, and how what the U.S. has done is instead to criminalize black people and to say that the solution is, A, for black people to behave, and, B, for the cops to treat them terribly when they don't.
That's a terrible analysis of structural racism. That's why folks are going to continue to be in the streets. The other thing is, I have gotten so many e-mails from white institutions being like, Black Lives Matter. My Amazon prime account had, Black Lives Matter movies, that sort of thing.
Like, there's a corporate reckoning. And what we want is not just for you to put up movies that we like or send us a pretty note. We want you to change the policies that make it hard for African American people to earn a living wage. That's not a callout to any specific corporation.
But we want you to change the institutional conditions that black folks are working in. So these folks are in the street putting their bodies on the line in the middle of a pandemic because they are saying, we don't want your symbolic gestures anymore. We are ready for you to really change, or else this reckoning is going to get out of control and our country is going to come apart at the seams.
MELBER: Very well put, with an experience Brittney that many people may have, which is the Amazon Prime or whatever company might it be jumping right into it, and a lot of activists we're hearing from saying, that's not exactly what the request is. The demand is for the structural change, not more corporate e-mails poking, oh, yes, remember that we have a product.
Brittney Cooper, good to see you again. Thank you, as always,
Trymaine, we're bringing you back later in the hour for something very special. I'm excited to get you on that. So I will see you soon.
We're going to fit in a break.
But, coming up, there are new COVID warnings about that Tulsa rally we were reporting on.
Also, special guests on why a Black Lives Matter sign on this very Tulsa theater is such a powerful symbol of living history tonight. We're going to get into that.
Also later, an officer involved in the deadly shooting of Breonna Taylor now fired from the job.
A stunning admission as well from a key Trump ally that he's really bad at something that he said was the whole point of making him president.
Much, much more as well on today's Juneteenth celebrations.
I'm Ari Melber. You're watching a special edition of THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Critics are calling President Trump's new MAGA rally a -- quote -- "biological bomb."
And there are signs it might be ready to blow in terms of the pandemic. The indoor rally with 19,000 people is still on for Tulsa tomorrow, the state Supreme Court ruling the campaign will not be compelled by the courts to enforce the Trump administration's own safety guidelines.
They held a hearing on that. We were covering that on the show last night. NBC reporting top Coronavirus Task Force members, though, are also against the rally because of the risks.
Donald Trump, though, defying those medical experts, and they will not even compel people to wear masks at the rally, something we also touched on at the top of tonight's show.
In a state with a record coronavirus spike, though -- you can see where Oklahoma's at right now -- these are the cases with a spike on the right, right now, in the last day in fact, 200 new cases in one day.
So, for them, that's the highest they have ever hit, not a good time for an indoor rally, medically speaking.
Today, Donald Trump also threatening any counterprotesters who show up with a National Guard presence. A lawyer fighting for more safety measures saying this. This was after the court ruled against that push.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, there are no -- there's no winners or losers in this lawsuit, except for one thing. The virus won. That's who won.
If you sat down to design a delivery system for mass transmission of a virus during a pandemic, this is what you would come up with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is a major story that affects the well-being of people in Oklahoma, both those who go to the rally who are overwhelmingly self- identified Trump supporters, the risks facing them, which everyone should care about, as well as the risks that they may then take back to the rest of the community, whatever their politics, when they leave this indoor rally.
This is a big story. It comes at a obviously weird time.
We have a very special guest on this, live from Tulsa, when we're back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: And welcome back to THE BEAT.
We're joined now by Oklahoma State Senator Kevin Matthews, representing Tulsa.
We just walked through the issues in this rally, including the genuine concern that's been expressed by many for the well-being of these people who happen to be Trump supporters going there.
KEVIN MATTHEWS (D), OKLAHOMA STATE SENATOR: Well, I worked on the fire department for 25 years.
And so life safety and health is very important to me. And I believe, in listening to our health care professionals, our Tulsa County Health Department director said that this is not a time -- because we just had a spike, it's not a time to have a rally of nearly 20,000 people inside, and not practice social distancing and not be required to wear masks.
And so I'm baffled as to why health care professionals and science don't weigh into this decision.
MELBER: You mentioned that local spike. Different places are dealing with different situations with the virus.
But here are those cases that we showed. In a way, it's a perfect storm, because you can't say people knew exactly what would happen, although Dr. Fauci others have said that Trump shouldn't have done this, for predictable reasons.
But there with the red arrow, you have the new cases. How do you see that affecting your community?
MATTHEWS: Well, as you know, African Americans have a disparate impact. And so we're going to be -- we're going to be impacted the most, as we have across the country.
The other thing that I'm concerned about is that, when this unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus, that those patients that go into the hospitals will cause people to have other emergencies to be secondary, and cause even more problems in our health care system.
And so I don't think it's a wise move. I think that we should listen to the health care professionals. And, as for me, I won't be going into inside rallies with 20,000 people without masks or social distancing.
MELBER: Senator, stay with me.
We mentioned we have something special, given today is such a day of living history.
The Tulsa Theater has become a real stark symbol of what is changing right in that city, as well as in many places in America. We should note it was used formally as a detention center during a race massacre in 1921. It was named after a sympathizer with the KKK. And now it has a new name.
And it is topped now with this Black Lives Matter banner unfurled across the theater facade.
Joining us now is the owner of that very theater, Peter Mayo.
Good day to you.
PETER MAYO, OWNER, TULSA THEATER: Good day to you, Ari. Thank you for having me on your show.
MELBER: Yes, sir.
We are looking at so many different pieces of this. And history can be national, and everyone has their certain big ideas. And then there's every little local thing that's going on.
I'm curious if you could just walk us through what happened here, what it means to you and the people involved in this community theater.
Well, I and the managers of Tulsa Theater want to send a message to the black community that we stand united with them. And that was the purpose of the Black Lives Matter banner.
The theater has had five different names in the last 106 years. And it would take too long to go through all that. But it was named after the street which bore the name of the gentleman you referenced earlier who was a racist.
So, two years ago, the city of Tulsa made a decision to change the name of the street to Reconciliation Way to try to reach out and to try to help the situation. We thought this would even be more reconciliation to show our support here with this banner.
MAYO: Also, it happens to coincide with the name change of the theater itself, which is now Tulsa Theater.
MELBER: Right. Right.
Stay with me, Peter.
Senator, what do you think is important about this? I would say, recently politically, we have seen both -- I'm generalizing -- but we have seen both the right and the left at different times try to initiate debates over some of these matters, the statues, the history, what it means to see these flags still blowing down South.
I'm just curious your reaction this. This is a local example. Your reaction.
MATTHEWS: Well, I want to say that Tulsa is only 13 to 15 percent black. And for us to have other -- people of other races take on this cause, we have -- on Greenwood today, "Black Lives Matter" is written in the streets.
And when I was down there this morning, there were all white people writing it. I think that's important. I think that's the first step, is the symbolism. But we want more than that. We want policies in effect that cause transparencies for police officers that would hurt or harm us.
We want the opportunity for people not to get diverted from voting for State Question 802, where we expand Medicaid, and have the expansion of Medicaid and health care in our community. We want to make sure that we have voting rights, and the fact that we have absentee voting rights for the next presidential election.
Those are things that we want to happen. And we want people elected that will make the (AUDIO GAP) be the type of people that will make a difference. The symbolism is good, but we want more action.
MELBER: A hundred. And I think that's a fitting -- a fitting coda for this conversation you're talking about. Yes, join us, especially, as you say in what is a very white majority city, and then what do you do with the coalition you're building?
Peter, on a lighter note -- I'm running out of time, but I'd be remiss, as a theatergoer myself, to not ask, why are the snacks in the concessions always so overpriced? It's like $4 for M&Ms.
MAYO: It's just like the movie theaters. That's how we make our profit.
MELBER: OK. Well, so, you got to make it where you can to support local theater, Peter.
MAYO: Got it.
MELBER: I appreciate both of you on the serious and a little bit of lighter here. And good luck to you in the theater.
And good luck, state Senator Kevin Matthews.
And good luck to everyone, however they are participating at the MAGA rally, because all of this is about public health.
We're going to fit in a break on THE BEAT. But, up ahead, we have a report on how Donald Trump seems to have issues with just about every important person who works for him. And this goes to national security and safety, a big story.
We have some very special video we're going to show you on that. That's up ahead.
Also, what a police chief is now saying about the officer that's being fired way, way long after a deadly shooting of Breonna Taylor later tonight.
MELBER: Do you know how long-ago Trump's impeachment was? Four months? A lot has obviously happened since then, but the evidence has only been piling up.
The core question about Trump directly seeking foreign collusion to win reelection, well, it's been publicly resolved by many people, and the worst evidence coming from his own aides, some testifying against him directly, others just admitting it in public.
Remember Mick Mulvaney said at the White House podium, we do it all the time, get over it? And now John Bolton's book says Trump tried to collude with Ukraine and China.
Mulvaney, though, responding by saying that Trump just -- quote -- "didn't hire very well," not exactly a denial of the alleged impeachable offense.
We're going to get into this now with former Republican Governor of New Jersey and a former EPA official for the Bush administration Christine Todd Whitman.
Good to see you.
FORMER GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (R-NJ): Good to see you.
MELBER: And, Governor -- just take a look -- nice to see you.
Take a look at something we have put together for your reaction, which is how frequently this pattern plays out of the president praising these people that he picked on the way in, and then just bashing them on the way out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's just a brilliant, wonderful man. He is the real deal.
QUESTION: What about General Mattis? Is he going to leave?
TRUMP: It could be that he is. I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth.
I like Bolton, I think he's a tough cookie. He knows what he's talking about.
He made some very big mistakes. John wasn't in line with what we were doing, Mr. Tough Guy.
I have tremendous respect for him. He's a world-class player.
We disagreed on things. We were not really thinking the same.
He's a man of integrity, a man of principle and a man of total, utter resolve.
Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general. He's not mentally qualified to be attorney general.
WHITMAN: He has absolutely no loyalty to anybody. And I don't know why we're surprised at it.
I will say, the Bolton book is a little bit, you wonder why didn't you say these things? Why didn't you testify?
WHITMAN: But, be that as it may, everything that he said is something that we have all heard before.
And it's just -- it's got to be upsetting to people why anyone would go into this administration. I don't know, because you don't get to help really with any policy at all. It's whatever the president wants, and you can say one thing, and he has no hesitation about cutting your legs out from under you the next day.
It's really distressing, because it sends a message to the world that this -- we're not on solid ground in this country anymore. We're not the country to look up to for leadership, because it's so erratic.
MELBER: You have done both. As a governor, the buck stops with you. You call the shots.
And we're talking about all these controversies with public safety, with policing. You're in charge. Then you worked in a federal administration, where you're in this other role, as you say.
With this pattern, as we just showed it, so obvious, how is it that -- and you're a moderate Republican, that's how you served -- how is it, in your view, that other Republicans are experts look at what is in public here and say, oh, I should jump in and serve with Trump?
Do they think they will be different?
WHITMAN: Well, they just like the trappings of power. And they do think they will be different. Everybody thinks they're going to be different, just like nobody ever thinks they're going to die. We all will at some point, but nobody embraces that thought.
And, certainly, members just want to be near power. They want to be there. They want to be the ones that are being quoted. They want to be the ones to be on your show and to be interviewed. That's what it's all about that feeling of power.
And they're willing to put their principles -- what is really troubling, they're willing to put their principles on the shelf, when they do it.
And that's what I think is unacceptable.
MELBER: I appreciate your candor, because that's a question people ask. And you have been close to it. You're giving the real answer of what motivates some of them.
The final question is, given what Bolton is saying, however tardy, do you feel that it underscores a national security problem in the Trump administration that's going on over here, while we're understandably busy with everything else?
And it's something, again, that we have known about for some time, but people -- Trump is a master of redirecting the dialogue and the news cycle. And so he will say something appalling, the way he just said that that gentleman who was pushed down in Boston, I guess it was, at the demonstration, wherever he was pushed down and cracked his head, it's too bad it had to happen to him.
No, it didn't have to happen to him. He said, he was in the police face, so they have to do what they have to do.
They didn't have to push him down like that. They didn't have to walk by him while he was bleeding from his ear. The man is still in a coma and can't move. He's paralyzed.
This is the kind of man we have as president, who he's just as -- you and I have talked about this before. He's not reflective of who we are as a country, as a people. And he's also putting us in a -- I believe a more dangerous position, because the rest of the world is not taking us seriously.
And Russia and China are rushing into the vacuum. And you look at what's happening between China and India, that's scary stuff. You have nuclear power countries now facing each other. China has not backed off. Whatever he thought -- whatever deal the president thought he had gotten with Kim Jong-un, that seems to have gone totally south, because they're still testing weapons, I mean, and blowing up houses where they were having conversations with the South Koreans, the North Koreans did.
So, the world is not a safer place with this president. And I think we're less safe, frankly.
MELBER: All important to reflect on.
Governor Whitman, as always, thank you, and have a good weekend.
WHITMAN: Thank you. You too. Stay safe and healthy.
MELBER: Yes, always, everyone. Thank you.
We're going to fit in a break, but up ahead, there's an officer now, finally, according to many, getting fired for the shooting of Breonna Taylor -- the letter regarding the termination scathing, no charges.
We have an update on all of it next.
MELBER: This is a story that began in March.
An officer who shot Breonna Taylor to death is now being fired. Police Chief Rob Schroeder terminating Officer Brett Hankison, writing that he -- quote -- "displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life" when he shot Taylor and called this conduct, which, I emphasize, happened a long time ago, now -- quote -- "a shock to the conscience."
And the other two officers involved still working on the force, they have been reassigned.
We wanted to give you that update because these are stories we will continue to stay on.
I'm fitting in a break, but we have two special guests coming up, as we track this day of Juneteenth rallies happening all across the nation.
MELBER: We are looking at live pictures here, tracking these Juneteenth celebrations across America right now, this state holiday marking the end of slavery and implementation of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, a history that resonates now amidst these protests of police killings of black men and a wider reckoning over how today's systemic racism grew out of the history of the Jim Crow South and the slave code.
This holiday did not begin with the U.S. government. Black ministers and leaders in Texas advanced it back in the 1800s. It's just one more reminder of how many of these causes do begin on the ground and in the culture, not up with the government or out in Washington, D.C.
Now, in that spirit, we want to bring in two special guests right now, MSNBC correspondent Trymaine Lee, a seasoned journalist on these issues, winning an Emmy for covering Chicago gun violence and a Pulitzer for reporting on Hurricane Katrina. He reports and analyzes these issues for MSNBC and hosts the NBC podcast "Into America." And it's covered many of these issues.
I'm also joined by, as it happens, another Lee, Grammy nominated artist Swae Lee, fresh off a Billboard number one hit, a whole bunch of them, with Drake and Travis Scott, collaborations with Beyonce. Many people, if not those watching, maybe your children, know the hit, "Sunflower" with Post Malone that went platinum nine times.
He's also known as one-half of the world famous hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, with hit videos shot around the world, drawing billions of streams.
And I want to mention, Lee, you came up here in Texas and California, and we have some video there where you recently joined the protests in L.A.
So the two Lees, Swae Lee and Trymaine Lee, thanks to both of you for being here tonight, you guys.
T. LEE: Yes, thank you.
SWAE LEE, MUSICIAN: Thank you for all having me, for real.
Lee. Lee game. What's up, my boy?
T. LEE: Yes. Let's get it.
MELBER: Lee game.
MELBER: I love it.
S. LEE: For real. For real.
S. LEE: Yes.
MELBER: So, I guess we will start here.
And, Swae, I want to get with a lot of your work and your new music as well.
But, Trymaine, being a reporter on these issues, we're talking about living history and black history. And there's a context. I'm curious your analysis of something we have seen reported on many times, the issues of the misunderstanding of black history in America.
I'm reading from a report that, up in Connecticut, they have a textbook for fourth graders that falsely said, well, slaves were -- quote -- "treated like family."
MELBER: In Texas, it was a geography book that said, enslaved Africans were basically -- quote -- "workers."
Trymaine, how is that important today?
T. LEE: Well, first of all, there are no mistakes in any of this, right? We didn't just fall from the sky with the weight of society on us. This is all intentional. There are no accidents.
And going back even after Reconstruction, after the Civil War, there was that 12-year period where black folks made some gains. Soon after that, what they started to do is, in the South, the Daughters of the Confederacy taking controls of the schools and the textbooks first to make sure they would always be the heroes in the situation.
And so there's a straight through-line from then until now, right? So, everything seems so old and black and white, but the struggles for freedom and equality, but also the pushback, has always been the same, right? It's not that long ago.
So, we're dealing with the same things. And there's no surprise when people are so ignorant to like, why are the schools in certain communities less funded? Why are more young black and brown men being locked up? It's all the same. Nothing really has changed, including the fight against the but also the fight for those who want to keep that stuff in line.
MELBER: And, Swae Lee, I'm a big fan of your music. And I know you hail from California and Texas.
MELBER: Texas has a Juneteenth, of course, as a state holiday.
S. LEE: Oh, yes.
MELBER: But I'm just curious how you feel. Why -- what does it mean to you? And we saw you marching there. Why was that important to you?
S. LEE: Yes, happy Juneteenth. You know what I'm saying?
I was actually raised in Mississippi. I was born in California, but I was raised in Mississippi. So we even celebrated Juneteenth heavy out there. They used to have a festival, huge festival in the park. The whole city would come out. You know what I'm saying?
Even as a young kid, I would perform in that. And I'm not going to lie to you. Like, back then, I didn't know the total meaning of Juneteenth. I thought it was a fun day in the park.
As I got older, I started learning what it meant. So, it meant even more to me.
And I joined the protest because I'm one for that. Even when I grew up in Mississippi, you look around, you see injustice all the time. You see unfair treatment all the time in the slightest ways and sometimes in major ways. You know what I'm saying?
And it's really obviously something that it stirred the people up. You know what I'm saying? It stirred the people up. Like, we got we got to come out of our homes now. We got to hit the streets. We got to take it to the streets. We got to let our message be heard.
And I feel like, right now, it's a revolution going on. If you look outside, like, it's a revolution going on. You know what I'm saying? It's like it's bigger than black and white. It's not black vs. white. It's, like, equality. The whole Black Lives Matter movement, it's not saying like black lives are just a superior race.
We're just saying like, don't forget about us. You know what I'm saying? Because of what's been happening -- and the proof is right there. You look at these videos that you see online, you're seeing knees on people, people being murdered, beaten, senselessly shot, lives taken.
You know what I'm saying? It's not like we just -- it's people are fed up with it, even white people fed up with it, Mexican people fed up with it. You have seen protests in Australia. People are fed up that far, so many miles away, fed up with it. You know what I'm saying?
It's just like -- and the message is not farfetched that we're trying to reach. It's actually a simple fix. Treat everybody fairly, treat everybody as a person, humanely. You know what I'm saying? Don't -- locking people up.
You got a man in handcuffs on the street face down, facing the street, with a knee to his back. You know what I'm saying? There's five officers on him.
Like, this is not a gorilla. This is not a huge -- this is not a threat. Like, this person is not going to knock a car over, you feel me, with handcuffs on his -- you're not going to kill somebody with handcuffs. You know what I'm saying?
S. LEE: It's like -- it's basically simple things that we can -- that we can fix and touch on that can go such a long way.
And people will -- you know what I'm saying? People will go back to normal. You know what I'm saying? People will go back to living, living their lives. We just to -- you know what I'm saying? People just want to -- don't forget about the black lives. They matter too. That's what people are trying to say. Don't forget about the black lives matter. You know what I'm saying?
S. LEE: Every human life is cherished, but don't forget about us either. That's what the people are trying to say.
MELBER: And, Swae Lee, you have been all over the world.
You mentioned what you -- what you felt about this holiday growing up. Do you feel now like this time, this protest, you being out on the streets with people, this time feels different?
S. LEE: I had to hit the streets.
Yes, I feel like this is -- I wasn't back there 40, 50 years ago, when they protested, but I feel like the people that are participating in the protests, it's an international thing. It's not just one city. It's not just the South. It's not just California.
Now it's -- the message has -- people -- just like I said, they are fed up. It's reached everywhere. You know what I'm saying? It's a message.
I hit the streets. When I tell you, these people are superheroes in the streets right now, like, I was in there firsthand. I was out there firsthand. I was in the streets. Like, it was like "Grand Theft Auto," bro.
Like, soon as I hopped out the car, I hopped out the truck -- you know what I'm saying? I met up with a group of my people that were out there protesting. And as soon as you hop out of the truck, you see men on the roof, grenade launchers. You know what I'm saying?
Not grenade launchers. My bad. Tear gas. But it looked like grenade launchers. You feel me?
MELBER: Right. Right.
S. LEE: So, you know what I'm saying? People running, firing. You know what I'm saying? People shooting bullets at people, people dodging bullets, people laid out in the streets. You know what I'm saying? It's it's real out there, like...
MELBER: Very real, yes.
S. LEE: Like, the media can only capture so much.
The media can't capture the emotion that you feel when you're out in them streets. Like, you can feel everybody as one. It was just crazy. Like, you feel so uplifted. Like, when I was in the streets, I felt lifted.
Like, as soon as I hopped out of the car, people started even -- when they recognize me, they were like, "Yo, Swae." I had about 400 people just marching with me, like feeling they're my gang. Like, you know what I'm saying? Black people, white people, Spanish people, Asian people, everybody was out there, like: "Stay with Swae. Stay with Swae."
It was just -- it was such an uplifting feeling, like -- but we all just want the same thing, man, equality. And that's like...
S. LEE: Do the right thing.
MELBER: I love that.
S. LEE: Do the righteous thing. You feel me?
MELBER: I'm running over the -- my time limit to pass to the next show, but I love you saying, that notion of Juneteenth of uplift.
And we got the two Lees here.
Swae Lee, you hooking up with Trymaine Lee, I just hope Slim Jxmm doesn't get jealous. You know what I'm saying?
S. LEE: Slim Jxmmi, my boy.
T. LEE: I'm ready. I'm ready, man. I'm ready. I'm ready. Let's go.
T. LEE: Where we going, man? Let's go.
S. LEE: Please. Please.
Me and Slim Jxmmi...
S. LEE: "Sremm 4" on the way too, man, "Reality Check." You know what I'm saying?
MELBER: "Sremm 4." "Reality Check" is the new song.
And I'm sorry I ran late on the hour, but it was important.
Thanks to both of you.
S. LEE: We got time today, man. We got time.
MELBER: That does it for THE BEAT tonight.
All right, good night, everybody.
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