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George Floyd TRANSCRIPT: 6/26/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Christina Greer, Chris Bridges, Steve Adler


Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s a big Sunday show, Chuck. We will be watching. Good to see you. Have a good weekend.

TODD: Thanks, brother.

MELBER: Welcome to THE BEAT.

Yes, sir.

I am Ari Melber.

We begin with breaking news. "The Washington Post" reporting the United States has just set another single-day record for daily COVID cases. That`s the third straight day of breaking records in a bad way, coronavirus clearly surging.

And I want to go through something right now briefly. You can see that it`s surging in these facts, that breaking news, in the new cases, in a separate metric of the hospitalization rate, in the new record for COVID, the cases daily.

So, when you take it all together -- that`s a lot of the past days, including the last three record days -- you can see how bad it is just about everywhere, except the one place with the most governmental power over virus policy, Trump`s task force, led by a vice president who sees today, of all days, on this worst day for cases on record, he sees a time to celebrate progress.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under the leadership of President Trump, we have made truly remarkable progress. We`re in a much stronger place.

The truth is, we did slow the spread. We flattened the curve. It`s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases.


MELBER: Much of what he said there is false, and they did not flatten the curve. Behold the curve on your screen.

The virus news has actually been so bad, with this pandemic rampaging through the South and West, that that very task force had not held a public briefing since April.

But during today`s presentation, Pence was not only wrong about the science, wrong about the curve. He also got fact-checked by news breaking in real time. You can see it here, 1:02 p.m. on the East Coast, when he was claiming all states were opening up, as major huge states backed off plans to open up.


PENCE: As we stand here today, all 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly.


MELBER: But some of America`s largest states are doing the opposite of that.

Florida was opening unsafely, and now the breaking news is that they have broken the worst record for new cases at a state level. And they join Texas in making news by backing down from a MAGA-style rush to reopen.

The Republican governor there conceding, 5,000 new cases in one day makes for a massive outbreak. Those are the words of one of the most conservative Republican governors in the country, Greg Abbott.

And you need to see this right now. It`s all a reversal from his many claims downplaying the problem, echoing MAGA-style denialism, counseling against staying at home, as all the while along the way Texas cases surged.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): We will deal with this very successfully. We will come to a swift and successful conclusion to our dealing with COVID.

This is not a stay-at-home strategy. A stay-at-home strategy would mean that you have to stay at home.

All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls can reopen May the 1st.

We have been able to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Texas.


MELBER: It`s not contained.

Governor Abbott has gone from falsely downplaying the virus and doing his meetings with Trump, and basically now deciding to shut down part of his state, revealing MAGA rhetoric still has its limits on the ground in Texas.

But, back in Washington, Trump not adjusting, his DOJ now trying to end Obamacare health coverage for 20 million Americans tonight, even as so many people in states red and blue face this health crisis.

We turn now to our experts, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician who worked with WHO during the Ebola epidemic, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat calling on Governor Abbott to make masks mandatory in the state. There are about 7,400 cases, we should note, in Austin right now. And our friend and presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

Good evening, everyone.

Given the way that Texas is shifting, I go to you first, Mr. Mayor.

What does it tell you, as we just showed, that Governor Abbott has had a sea change, and what more must be done?

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D-TX), AUSTIN: It`s good he`s had this sea change.

We`re on a trajectory here in Austin right now that, if we don`t interrupt it, we`re going to be overwhelming our hospitals by mid-July. It is crunch time right now in our city. We have one last shot at trying to really discipline ourselves with masks.

I`m appreciative that the governor closed the bars that he had opened. But we`re in a dire place right now, with numbers that are increasing geometrically. We`re focused on hospitalizations. And my numbers is 30 percent above yesterday my seven-day running average.

We`re in trouble.

MELBER: Doctor, your view?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and I want to stress that, because what Texas has had to do is basically cancel elective surgeries.

Now, that`s a misnomer. When people hear that, they think it`s cosmetic surgeries, which is like a percentage of what it is. A majority of those surgeries are people suffering from chronic diseases. Those are osteoarthritis patients who need hip surgeries. Those are patients who need their gallbladders removed.

And so a week ago, when we watched Governor Abbott talk about the fact that -- or two weeks ago -- we have enough space, keep sending us sick people, what has basically happened is, we have overwhelmed the Texas health care system, to the point where they now have to stop routine medical care to be able to make space for COVID patients.

And so it`s great to hear that they have closed the bars, but the restaurants are still open. The masks mandates are not across the state. And so there`s still a lot of space, I think, for Texas to work on this.

The other thing that`s really sort of distressing to me and other public health experts is, you looked at that curve. If this was in Wuhan, if this was New York in March, like maybe if we hadn`t seen it, but we have seen this curve.

And to see that curve, and for the White House task force to not say to the American people, hey, we are headed in the wrong direction, this is time for all of us to buckle down and do what is necessary, let`s all take that responsibility, with the vice president, by wearing the mask, by modeling that, by staying home when we don`t need to be out, by physically distancing.

And we`re still not seeing enough of that rhetoric or enough of that sort of advice from the top. So, how do you expect the rest of the population to follow that?


And, Doctor, you lay out what it means at the right side of that bar chart.

Michael Beschloss, careful listeners of the broadcast will have just heard a Democratic mayor say that he welcomes a Republican governor changing his mind, because lives are on the line. And there is an aspect of this where, on the best days, politics can be put aside if people can go towards public health, which really shouldn`t be politicized.

But I offer that in contrast with the leadership test, Michael, to take a listen to what Mike Pence is saying. This is today.


QUESTION: In Tulsa, you defied local health officials to have an event that, even though you say it didn`t result in a spike, dozens of Secret Service agents, dozens of campaign staffers are now quarantined after positive tests.

You packed a church with young people who weren`t wearing masks. So how can you say that the campaign is not part of the problem that Dr. Fauci laid out?

PENCE: Freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. And even in a health crisis, the American people don`t forfeit our constitutional rights.


MELBER: Michael?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Ari, just -- what we just heard and what we have seen from Donald Trump and Mike Pence for weeks or months, there`s a term for it, and the term is called dereliction of duty.

It`s the most basic responsibility of the president of the United States to keep us safe, do everything he possibly can to mobilize the federal government to make sure that a national emergency like this is in confronted.

We Americans give a president a lot of power. In exchange for that, we expect that, when there`s a crisis like this pandemic, he will do everything he possibly can to make it better.

Is there anyone who`s watching us tonight who can look at what Donald Trump has done for the last three, four, or five months and say, he has done everything he possibly can to use all the powers of his office and all the public platform he has available to him to tell Americans what`s going on truthfully, and to tell us how to defend ourselves?

The most intelligent thing he has said in the last number of months was that this pandemic made him feel like a wartime president. He was going in the right direction. How would we like it if Franklin Roosevelt, at the beginning of World War II, had decided he was bored with World War II and decided to stop talking very much about it, and exaggerating the successes and minimizing our failures?

He might have been impeached for that.

MELBER: Mr. Mayor, I have to now ask you a ridiculous question, but it`s based on the actual news coming out of the Trump administration in Washington tonight. Are you ready?

ADLER: I`m ready.


Is this the time that the federal government should take extraordinary measures to deny people health care, which is what the Trump administration is now seeking in court?

ADLER: Listen, I -- on top of everything thing else, you can`t -- you just can`t imagine it`s going to get more unbelievable than it was the day before.

That`s outrageous right now. The populations in my community, mostly communities of color, where we have the highest incidence of folks that don`t have insurance, are the folks that are suffering the most from this virus. It`s a cruel virus, and it picks out communities that are most vulnerable and susceptible.

And so -- and to suggest, on top of that injustice, which is generations in the making, that we would remove insurance is just outrageous.

But the messaging coming out of Washington and from the president are some of the biggest roadblocks that we`re facing in this community right now, the resistance for people to wearing face coverings and maintaining distancing, to appreciate that this virus is real and we still have to be vigilant.

That messaging coming out of Washington, which lead people in the wrong direction, is some of the biggest obstacles we face. It is -- this is just one more in that steady stream.

MELBER: And, Michael, you`re the real historian. I`m the amateur who reads articles.


BESCHLOSS: I think you`re doing very well, Ari.


MELBER: I can`t compete.

But I`m curious what history offers for these potential comparable low points. I would think of during the Great Depression, when you did have battles that went all the way to the Supreme Court over economic theory, which FDR ultimately won by, with pressure and other things, saying, we got to battle this Depression.

That would be one example. Are there any other examples that you can think of, the notion of -- again, people can hope that Trump loses in the courts, they can hope that Bill Barr and the DOJ get it wrong. But I can`t underscore enough, people need to know -- and they could make up their own minds -- that, tonight, amidst all this, they`re trying to take away health care.

I`m curious what examples might come to your mind, Michael.

BESCHLOSS: Yes. And they are trying to do this for really vicious political reasons that have a lot to do with Donald Trump`s reelection and don`t have very much to do with helping the majority of the American people, who right now are suffering and they`re scared of what`s going to happen.

And so the problem is, we always risk having a president who seems to be so obsessed with reelection that he will do things that hurt the country in an effort to get himself a second term.

I think the real problem is that, in this country, and it`s -- the cow is out of the barn -- we give too much power to presidents. All this should not depend on the whimsy or the bad judgment of one human being who happens to become president.

As we have seen the last couple of months, governors can do their things. Mayors can. We have seen this from Mayor Adler. But we`re in a very presidential country. And if you don`t have a president who is willing to stand up to his responsibility, this is what you have, and it`s going to get worse.

MELBER: Doctor, we make it our practice not to draw our medical experts into the political side of it.

But I`m curious what policy or health care thoughts you have on all the above.

BHADELIA: Well, it`s already been said. I think this is -- pulling away the chance of American people, huge -- 32 million, right, pulling away health insurance at a time in the middle of a pandemic, where you have potentially the states that you`re looking at, specifically the states that are hit right now, Texas, Florida, the Carolinas, some of the highest rate of uninsured.

These are also the states that did not do medical expansion. These are the states that have some of the lowest spending per capita on public health. Texas is like $7 to $39 or something per capita.

Just by comparison, my state of Massachusetts, I think it`s like $60 to $100 -- closer to $100 per person. So, these are already health care systems, state health care systems that are suffering.

Now you`re going to put individuals in this Russian roulette. If they get sick, they may not get their hospitalizations covered. And those that are most at risk are those who are going to be on the front lines and essential workers. So you really are putting people into a situation where they`re going to be stuck with large medical bills, and then drop an entire socioeconomic strata because of this very move that`s being done right now in the middle of a global crisis.

MELBER: Right.

BHADELIA: I can`t stress what a disaster this would be.

MELBER: Appreciate all of the clear insights here, Dr. Bhadelia, Mayor Adler in the thick of it.

And, Michael Beschloss, I`m asking you to stay on. Later in the show on this special Friday, I want you to join Ludacris for a conversation. So we will see you soon, sir.

BESCHLOSS: Can`t wait. Thanks.

MELBER: We`re going to fit in a break, but coming up: a conservative intervention, all about Trump having to face the fact that there are some bad numbers heading into reelection.

Bill Barr, meanwhile, on the spot over interfering in the Justice Department.

And, tonight, our friend and colleague Joy Reid live on THE BEAT discussing the push for policing, justice reform and her special program that we think you`re going to want to see later tonight on NBC.

And, as mentioned, the actor and Grammy-winning artist Ludacris is here live on THE BEAT tonight.

I`m Ari Melber. We have a lot more to come. Stay with us.


MELBER: Turning to some riveting political news, we begin with a disclaimer.

There is no way to know right now who will win the November election. Someone telling you they know exactly what will happen is usually not worth listening to. Polls change a lot. And close races can`t be predicted by polls anyway. I think we all remember 2016.

But our story tonight here is something a little more focused. Among Donald Trump`s own most loyal allies, including public boosters, there is growing concern about items like this, a FOX News poll showing Joe Biden ahead of Trump in key Southern states where Trump won before.

And the pro-Trump "Wall Street Journal" editorial board now announcing they see Joe Biden as looking like a -- quote -- "president-elect," and going on to say: "Trump has no second-term agenda, or even a message beyond four more years of himself. Perhaps Trump lacks the self awareness and discipline to make this case. If that`s true, he should understand he`s headed for defeat," say his fans at "The Journal."

And then, over on FOX News, which you know the president watches, Tucker Carlson laying it out.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Not many people are saying it out loud on the right, but the fact is that President Trump could well lose this election.

In fact, unless fundamental facts change soon, it could be tough for him to be reelected.


MELBER: From Tucker Carlson`s mouth right into the White House living room.

And it was on that same channel last night where Donald Trump struggled with another friendly ally, someone who`s literally appeared at campaign events with him, Sean Hannity giving what looked like journalistic softball questions about basic reelection plans.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: What are your top priority items for a second term?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, one of the things that will be really great, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I have always said that.

But the word experience is a very important word. It`s an important meaning.


MELBER: The word experience is a very important word, but that was a easy question and a non-answer.

We won`t show you the 30 seconds that went on afterward, where Trump also just meandered.

Now, we are a long way from November. A summer lead for any candidate does not mean they will win. In fact, we have charted that. People like Dukakis, Kerry and Clinton had leads that did not win the election.

I owe it to you, in reporting this, to be very clear about all of that. And that`s before you even get to the political facet of what can become a self-fulfilling media prophecy of voter complacency. If everyone says one candidate is likely to lose, the people who might care about defeating that candidate might not be motivated to turn out, Democrats stay home, and, suddenly, Trump could win again.

With all caveats included, though, there is clearly agita on the right.

And we have two special guests to get into this when we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MELBER: Welcome back.

I`m joined by Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham and an editor at TheGrio, and Steve Benen, an MSNBC contributor and Emmy- winning producer for "The Rachel Maddow Show," one of our colleagues.

And we are happy to announce here on THE BEAT, his new book is "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics."

Steve, I know you as a colleague, but I was reading you before you were one. And congrats on the book, sir.

STEVE BENEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. I appreciate that.

MELBER: A hundred.

And, Christina, always good to have you back here on the program.

Same question about you, starting with Steve.

Why do those friends of Trump look so nervous? How do you view this going into what I have emphasized is a completely fluid election season?

BENEN: I think you`re right.

I think that at this point, in the process, the Republicans are concerned. And I think the key point that you raised in that earlier segment was the fact that there is no agenda. We don`t know what Donald Trump wants to do with a second term. That was an easy question he got from Sean Hannity last night. And he couldn`t answer it, in large part because he`s not a member of a governing party.

And that`s the whole point of my book, that there`s no agenda, there`s no policy vision, there`s no real sense of what he would do with power. He just wants to hold power, but he doesn`t know why. And he can`t communicate to the voters why.

MELBER: You mention your book -- so, how much of what you chart in the book, a kind of a fundamental shift in how the Republican Party organized itself, what it thinks is stands for, how much of that do you think is just, in your view, a concern for what`s good or bad in the country, and how much of that do you view actually as a political liability, Steve?

BENEN: Well, I think it`s a political liability insofar as they can`t communicate to the voters what they would do with power, and so, therefore, voters don`t know what to vote for. They don`t have a sense necessarily of what Republicans stand for.

We have yet -- looking back over the last decade or so, and Republicans have no real sense of what they want to do with power. So they become what I call a post-policy party, a party that`s become indifferent to the substance of policy-making.

And so I think, in terms of political liabilities, voters who are looking for people to solve problems can`t look at GOP officials, because they have abandoned their role as a governing party.

MELBER: Christina?


I mean, think of it this way, Ari. For those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, many of them voted for the wall. Three miles have been built. Many of them voted for tax cuts. Several Americans, several million Americans are not going to see those benefits.

The president just announced that he`s going to try and fight to defund the ACA. That`s health care for -- with the Supreme Court. He is putting pressure on his colleagues in Congress to do so, in the middle of a global pandemic, when more and more Americans need health care.

And so he`s always a step behind these days. And I think this is the first time we`re really seeing the president on the defensive. You`re seeing old guard Republicans saying that they will vote for Joe Biden or at least support Joe Biden.

You`re seeing Republicans seeing spikes in their states, senators and governors, and not going along with just the normal rhetoric of the president.

And, as Steve said, what is the policy prescription that you propose for the next four years? It can`t just be sad rallies talking about Hillary Clinton, talking about the leftist media, when people are literally in bread lines, when many are in hospitals, and trying to figure out, what will be the guidance of our leadership, when the international community has left us behind, and so many Americans are feeling like they`re falling behind, compared to their colleagues and their community members?

MELBER: Well, Christina, can I give you the president`s counterargument to that?

GREER: Sure.

MELBER: Experience is a word.

GREER: Right.

And -- but here`s the thing.


MELBER: Which is true. By the way, in fairness, Christina...

GREER: It is a word.

MELBER: ... it is a word.

GREER: It is a word.

But when you have got -- I mean, let`s think about it. Let`s think about the severity of this, right? We know that, what, a third of all African- Americans know someone who has died at COVID. We know that there are 40 million Americans who have applied for unemployment, not even considering the number of Americans who don`t even -- aren`t even in occupations who are eligible to receive unemployment.

This country is really hurting. And we always ask ourselves -- Ari, we have talked about this for years -- when you go to the polls, can you ask yourself, are you better off today than you were four years ago?

And there are going to be a lot of independents and quite a few Republicans who are going to have to ask themselves the hard questions and possibly say no. And we`re leaving aside the Republicans who don`t like the racial animus or what I would call racism and anti-Semitism and xenophobia that also comes along with the incompetence and the experience as a word.

MELBER: Well, Steve, Christina, as she so often does on this program and elsewhere, lays it out, makes the strong points.

And I think that goes to the connection between what we have been covering throughout the week, which is bright red MAGA governors, like in Texas and Florida, going, we tried. We did what we did. Uncle. Buckle. Can`t go on. Can`t reopen.

That tells you something. That is always first a health care and public wellness issue. And we have covered it a such.

But on the politics, Steve, you can see this, Trump`s sagging popularity dragging down candidates in the state level, governors and senators running statewide.

"Down-ballot Republicans will have to decide if they will ride the Trump train to its final destination," "The New York Times" notes, "or if they need to establish some independence." That`s from a Republican quoted there in the story.


BENEN: I think part of the problem is, even if they were to try to distance themselves from Trump, they have no real record to run on. They have no real agenda to run on.

You can`t look to Republicans at any level of government right now and say, well, with all the major challenges facing the country, here`s a group of people with a platform, here`s a group of people with a vision, here`s an agenda that they can present to the public. There`s nothing there.

They literally don`t even have a platform. They`re recycling the 2016 platform.


BENEN: And so what is it that they can propose in terms of solutions to the problems that people are dealing with in their daily lives?

MELBER: Right.

BENEN: I think it`s a blank slate.

MELBER: Well, and, Steve, that really comes back to the work you have been doing. And you write about it for and in the book, that -- what you call post-policy.

And we didn`t know when we planned to have you on that Donald Trump would be on TV last night sounding like he literally couldn`t come up with 15 seconds of policy for reelection.

The question still remains, Steve, what do you prefer, post-policy or Post Malone?


BENEN: Well, I`m going to go with the latter, because the post-policy is clearly failing the United States in every meaningful way.

So, yes, I`m going to go with the latter.

MELBER: And, Christina, I`m sorry.


GREER: You know, Ari, I appreciate you.


GREER: But the thing is, people ask, like, how we can have levity in these moments.

But it`s because we are in such a crisis, because...

MELBER: We are.

GREER: ... there is absolutely no leadership at the executive level and within the Republican Party.

So we`re driving on sort of two out of four wheels here.

MELBER: We`re -- yes. And that`s why sometimes we need to add jokes more than ever.


MELBER: Professor Greer knows how to hang. Steve has been very gracious.

I will tell everyone, in all seriousness, the book is "Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics."

We, full disclosure, recommend it.

Up ahead: new reporting on how far Attorney General Barr could go to defend Trump and why it might get him in trouble.

Also, we are just one month out from the George Floyd killing, that case pending. There`s action on the streets that is affecting Congress.

Joy Reid live when we come back.


MELBER: We`re turning to something very important right now.

And we want to take stock. The Congress has just passed a major police reform bill, a national reckoning on racial justice. And think about how we were -- where we were one month ago today, when this was breaking news.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The disturbing scene caught on tape, a black man pinned to the ground, later dying after a white officer kneeled on his neck, the man heard saying, "I can`t breathe."

Four police officers have been fired.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: George Floyd died in police custody after an officer pressed his knee into Floyd`s neck for at least seven minutes.

DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: We`re going to begin here this evening with tension building tonight in Minneapolis, after an unarmed black man died after being arrested and pinned to the ground by an officer.


MELBER: In the month since then, many people rightly note not enough has nearly changed.

And yet some things are changing. The House working forward here to ban choke holds, to end controversial no-knock warrants, and to reform qualified immunity.

There are new policing videos that reveal systemic racism, and you see them day after day.

So, here at MSNBC, I`m thrilled to tell you about something that my colleague Joy Reid is doing, 7:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, next hour, a special town hall on police reform with three leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus, each with special experience in these areas, including before.

But, before that, Joy has taken time out of a busy evening to join us.

Joy, thanks for being here.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Of course, Ari. Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.

MELBER: A hundred percent. Very important.

I want to get into what you`re doing there.

Let`s begin with this bill. What do you think of what`s in the House bill? What do you see in the Senate?

REID: Well, first of all, I want to just make a note of it that, if you think about it, Ari, just in looking at cases that are similar to what happened to George Floyd, you can go all the way back to 1978.

A guy named Arthur Miller was choked to death by police in Brooklyn, New York. Huge marches, marches across the Brooklyn Bridge. You fast-forward to 1983, Michael Stewart, who was a graffiti artist, choked to death by police. That case made such an impact on Spike Lee, that character -- that death became the subtext for Radio Raheem, the character in "Do the Right Thing."

So, you have it going on and on. Nothing happens.

The choke hold remains legal all the way through Eric Garner. We hear "I can`t breathe" the first time six years ago, at least the public, seeing it on video, watching this man be choked to death in public. Nothing happens.

So, the fact that George Floyd`s killing, his murder, that we now have four people charged with a crime, that that has resulted, in one month, in sweeping legislation being passed that will also touch on what happened to Breonna Taylor, police busting into her home while she`s in bed after midnight, that that`s being looked at, the immunity police enjoy, this is remarkable.

And it is truly, truly historic.

So, what I think of the bill is that the House bill is actually pretty strong. There`s a lot in there that the public is crying out for. The Senate bill, not so much. I think the Senate Republicans tried to do a dance, where they like pretended to do reform, but they mostly just did suggestions and grants.

MELBER: You lay it out there.

I mean, it`s so important, the historical context, because, as you say, other times, there wasn`t the federal action this quick. And we have pointed out in the program, and I know you have done much reporting on this, many leading Democrats were a part of the `94 crime bill and the crackdown.

And so if one party is now being forced to shift by protesters, that looks like progress.

Given what you`re doing tonight, I want to dig into that. Here was a little bit of Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic leader in leadership, speaking. You`re going to have him on tonight. Let`s take a look.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): To the protesters, we hear you. We see you. We are you. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

America is a great country. We have come a long way. We still have a long way to go.


MELBER: What are you going to get into tonight, as I think a lot of us are interested?

REID: Well, I think -- and I`m glad that you mentioned the 1994 crime bill, because I think it`s important to understand the context.

It used to be that, as a Democrat, the way you ran for office was to say that you too were going to be tough on the crime that was in the 1980s and `90s really afflicting the black community. You had a lot of black community leaders saying, hey, wait a minute, no one`s in here policing while you have the crack epidemic going through our communities. No one`s here.

So, you had Joe Biden help write that crime bill to put all these police on the street. But what happened is, there`s quality and there`s quantity. And so now what we have is a quantity of policing that is afflicting black communities.

And it is, unfortunately, killing black people disproportionately. And now what you`re seeing is black communities saying, no, what we want is less policing. What we want is less police officers in our face. We do not want police being called, 911, every time somebody doesn`t like the way a black person looks walking down the street.

So what we`re going to talk about tonight is, we got all these amazing questions. We started asking a couple days ago, send in questions. What do you want to know from police? We got incredible questions.

We had some of those folks go ahead and record their questions, so that we could actually see them asking them. And we`re just going to ask, listen, what is this bill going to do? How will it change people`s lives? How will it make black and brown and indigenous people safer in this country walking around the streets?

And, also, can it pass, right? Because you have got this big roadblock ahead in terms of reform named Mitch McConnell. But, either way, I think it is amazing that we have come to the point where the same guy, Joe Biden, is running for president, and likely will be the guy to sign, if this doesn`t get through in this cycle, the same kind of comprehensive police reform, police reform as comprehensive as the crime bill was in a lot of ways harmful.

MELBER: It`s such a great point. And there may be something full circle on that. People are allowed to change their minds.

The credit goes, as I think you have pointed out, to a lot of people doing the work to me make minds change. I`m really excited to see what you do tonight. I hope you will come back again on THE BEAT.

Joy Reid, thanks for being here.

REID: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it, Ari. Thank you.

MELBER: of course.

And, again, for everyone watching right now, this is coming right up in a few minutes, this special MSNBC town hall on police reform, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, with Joy Reid and these elected officials. Stay tuned.

Here on THE BEAT, we`re going to fit in a break, but up ahead: Attorney General Barr pressed on allegations he`s trying to undermine the very prosecutors holding potential Trump allies accountable.

And, later, we have two very special guests looking at the national protest movement, education and how America changes, something uplifting to end the week.


MELBER: A story we have been staying on, Attorney General Barr now challenged on this interference in cases that are directly linked to the Trump Organization and his allies, after "The New York Times" reports new details about efforts to sway those federal prosecutors in New York, saying he spent weeks questioning prosecutors on their decision to charge former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who doesn`t even get along with Trump anymore.

"The Times" also saying he told officials to draft a memo outlining legal arguments that could raise questions about Colin`s conviction.

Now NPR`s Steve Inskeep asking Barr, in a newsworthy interview, about his role in all of this. Take a listen.


STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: How do you answer a voter who sees a pattern here of continually upholding the personal interests of the president?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Well, I`d say that there is no such pattern.

INSKEEP: Can you name a case or where you have intervened so dramatically where the person involved was not connected to the president?

BARR: Off the top of my head, I`m sure there were a number of cases since I have been here that I have done that.

INSKEEP: You can`t think of one, but...

BARR: Well, frequently, case -- we don`t go discussing who`s under investigation at any given time.


MELBER: Shout-out to good questions.

That is a skilled reporter making Bill Barr actually try to come up with something, and he whiffed. He literally could not publicly name a case -- and closed cases can be publicly discussed -- where he was intervening to this degree, unless it involved Trump associates.

It`s a damning answer, not necessarily illegal at this point, but one that will surely merit follow-up if Bill Barr does keep his date to face Congress.

Now, straight ahead, when we come back: Grammy-winning rapper and actor Ludacris on attending George Floyd`s memorial and a lot more, including his new project -- after this.


MELBER: This long week ends with something of a rarity in Washington, Congress passing liberal legislation police and criminal justice.

In a direct nod to recent protests, Democrats named the bill after George Floyd, and went farther on police accountability than even many liberal members of Congress have ever gone before.

These renewed debates over race in America clearly broader than just typical politics. We have seen leaders in business, sports and culture leading the way, including our next guest, Chris Bridges, AKA, Ludacris, the three-time Grammy-winning artists and rapper who has worked with Justin Justin Bieber, Usher, and Missy Elliott, also known for his work in the wildly popular "Fast and Furious" franchise. He won a SAG Award for "Crash," a film exploring racial tensions in L.A.

Ludacris has been speaking out on many issues. He also attended George Floyd`s memorial service. And his new initiative is Kid Nation, advancing education through music. We`re going to get into that.

Ludacris joins me now, along with our friend and presidential historian Michael Beschloss, an award-winning author of nine books. He also has an Emmy.

Thanks to both of you for being here together. I love it.


BESCHLOSS: Thank you.

BRIDGES: How you doing, Mike?

BESCHLOSS: Great to see you, Ludacris.


BRIDGES: You too, my man.

MELBER: I love it.

BRIDGES: Ari, what is going on?

MELBER: Here we go. You know I`m also a fan. So, I`m really excited to get to a couple of things.

I want to get into what you`re doing with Kid Nation and education. But I want to begin with a serious moment that I think a lot of our viewers may recall here. Just one month ago was when Mr. Floyd was killed.

And that`s now a pending murder case. So, we want to take a brief look here when Reverend Sharpton was acknowledging your presence at Mr. Floyd`s memorial.


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": I want to thank from the entertainment world brother, beloved -- stand up, brother -- brother Ludacris.


MELBER: What did it mean to you to be there? And what are you reflecting on as that case and these other bills move forward?

BRIDGES: It was extremely intense being there, and it was great for me to pay my respects, and to learn as much as I could, because we were also able to talk to George Floyd`s family.

We were able to understand more about the human being that he was, which was great, and try to just admire them for their strength. And we were there to try and help them out and give them even more strength, and they gave us even more strength back for us to continue this fight and go back to our cities and do everything in our power, besides what we`re all already doing.

And that is what was most important. It was very great to be there, 100 percent.

MELBER: That`s, I`m sure, very meaningful to a lot of people.

And, Michael, this public grieving is important. It`s a grim, tragic milestone that this is called a George Floyd bill, because he didn`t have to die, according to so many people we have -- and experts we talk to.

But talk to us about that piece of this history.

BESCHLOSS: Well, first of all, I want to say Ludacris is being very charmingly modest about his role in this, but historians are going to study this last month for a very long time.

This -- we`re in many ways living in a different society because of the protests that occurred over the last four months. And at so many of those most important protests, Ludacris has worked, provided the soundtrack and motivation for a lot of the people who are out there trying to change this country.

But that`s something -- in history, unfortunately, oftentimes, it takes a tragedy to open people`s eyes. Birmingham, 1963, those horrible pictures of those barking dogs being set on black demonstrators, or 1965 of John Lewis and others on the Edmund Pettus Bridge were almost killed, opened the eyes of a lot of people who should have known better already to the need for civil rights and voting rights.

So, if there`s anything that is going to, in any way, in a little way, redeem the horrible tragedy that occurred to George Floyd, and through that to all of us, it is that this society changes and other people don`t have to suffer.

MELBER: Yes, appreciate the context on that, when we think of the other examples and precedents. And we want to get to a point where it hopefully does not require so much to go wrong to have change.

BESCHLOSS: That`s right.

MELBER: Ludacris, you`re working on this new project, Kid Nation. We want to hear about it.

I want to play a little bit of some of what you`re doing, educating and connecting people of all ages and children. Let`s take a look.




MELBER: These are tough issues for adults, let alone children, let alone the extra burden on minority children.

Tell us about your project.

BRIDGES: Man, I want to inspire. I want to uplift. I want to just enrich the new generation as much as I possibly can, so that they don`t have to go through some of the things that we`re going through right now.

And it`s extremely important for me. Obviously, with great power comes great responsibility. So, I want to use my platform to develop this type of platform, because parents are going through a hard time right now.

There is a lot of homeschooling. There`s a lot of things going on. And what better time and what better way than to give them something to help in just reinforcing positive and uplifting, enriching content for their kids and giving them a safe place to do so, and to open up conversations like the ones you were just talking about.

The COVID cases are going up. We have a video and song up there called "Stay Clean," talking about hygiene. And we also have that "Get Along" song that`s bringing people to tears on

So we are just appreciating the overwhelming response and all the love that we`re receiving, because, at the end of the day, I always say, hate may win some battles, but love wins in the end. So I`m trying to make sure I`m preach love.

MELBER: Well, I mean, you are a very talented storyteller. So you are turning those talents, that power to children. And, as you mentioned, people are at home figuring out how to do this.

I guess I got to ask, Luda, if this is sort of like "Sesame Street" meets "Word of Mouf."


BRIDGES: This is like Kid Nation meets Kid Nation.


BRIDGES: Once people are able to...


BRIDGES: Once people are able to see what we`re doing, I think they`re going to realize that this is something the world does not have.

And the best way for me to describe it is that we, as parents, all know that there`s so much adult content, even if it`s censored, that kids mostly like to listen to, right? However, we don`t have kids` music that parents and adults actually love to listen to over and over again as well.

So I think right -- what we`re doing with is creating something that does not exist. And that`s why it`s been so overwhelming with the responses that we have gotten so far.

MELBER: Well, that makes a lot of sense.

And, Michael, I`m curious your view on that as well, because we have seen debates now over everything from history textbooks, which matter because it`s the first thing that a kid learns about, well, what really did go on? Well, how was this country founded? Who had rights?

BESCHLOSS: That`s right.

MELBER: What happened in the `60s and `70s? What`s happening now?

And we have that for children. We also have children who are going to their state capitol or other formal gathering places. And they`re seeing treasonous Confederate icons to this day. And that`s been, of course, a debate as well.

So your view on all the above, Michael?

BESCHLOSS: Well, Ludacris. I just want to say, I love what you`re doing, because these are the kids are going to have to save this country.

The older generation in power has totally screwed up. They`re the ones who are going to have to rescue this society. And what better start than to be able to listen to this and get some hope and get some information and a sense of connection?

And also a sense that they have got an assignment, which is, they`re not just going to grow up in this society. They have got work to do to make it a lot better than we have left it to be.


MELBER: I love that.

Luda, final thought, sir?

BRIDGES: Man, I just appreciate you using your platform to talk about something positive, because we have enough negative things going on right now.

BESCHLOSS: That`s right.

BRIDGES: And I`m just looking for solutions and looking for answers.

And I`m going to continue to do as much as I possibly can. So, thank you, both of you, for giving me this platform to talk about this. Greatly appreciate it.

MELBER: Of course.

Ludacris, this was wonderful, your first time on THE BEAT. I hope you will come back. I love you and Michael chopping it up on a lot of these themes. Thanks to both of you. I wish you both a great weekend.

BESCHLOSS: Thank you.


BRIDGES: Absolutely.

Everybody follow @KidNation on Instagram too. Love.

MELBER: There it is.


MELBER: KidNation on I.G. for all ages. Thanks to both of you.

And thanks to everyone at home for watching THE BEAT. It has been a long week. We have covered a lot of ground.

And, right now, we turn to something very special.

I will just tell you, in my humble opinion, keep your television on, because we are turning to this special MSNBC event, my colleague MSNBC anchor Joy Reid hosting a national town hall on justice and police reform, starting right now.