CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Dr. Peter Hotez, as we are looking at these images of crowds and I can`t get that thought out of my mind, I really appreciate you coming on tonight. Thank you.
DR. PETER HOTEZ, SCIENTIST: Thank you.
HAYES: If you`ve been at one of those protests and you have testing capacity in your state, go get a test. I think that`s a good idea.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for being with us this hour. Happy to have you here.
Tonight, in just a couple of minutes, we are going to be speaking live with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. It is Attorney General Ellison who today announced enhanced charges for the one Minneapolis police officer who had already been charged in the death of George Floyd, in police custody, in Minneapolis. Attorney General Ellison today also announced charges for the first time against the other three officers who took part in that arrest and who were present and looking on while George Floyd was killed in that interaction with police.
Attorney General Ellison again announced those charges today. He will be with us live in just a moment.
As will Senator -- excuse me California senator and former California attorney general, Kamala Harris. She is going to be joining us live tonight as well.
I`m very much looking forward to speaking with those guests this evening.
We will also, of course, be keeping an eye onion going protests in multiple cities tonight, where we have reporters on the grown, on this ninth night of large protests in America, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Lots of curfews in effect in American cities large and small tonight. Curfews seem to have had an effect, of the sort of level of mayhem we saw into the late night last night, but we will be eyes open tonight, coast to coast, again, with reporters in multiple cities, as these protests continue.
And as we watch to see what the impact may be on these protests, of the new charges, announced today, for the officer whose knee was on the neck of George Floyd when he apparently died in custody, and the other officers who were looking on, and part of that arrest when it happened.
When James Mattis resigned as defense secretary, a year and a half ago, it was Christmas week, 2018, you might remember that his resignation letter was a big point of news interest. He said in his resignation letter that he believed the United States needed to maintain strong alliances and show respect to our allies. He said we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly intentioned with ours. He specifically named Russia and China as essentially adversaries of ours that are trying to, quote, shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.
General Mattis in resigning as Trump`s defense secretary said, quote, my views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about maligned actors and strategic competitors are strongly held.
You, Mr. President, have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours.
If you knew what he meant, and if you read between the lines just a little bit, you could tell from that resignation letter that General James Mattis was resigning from the Trump administration because Trump was cozying up to authoritarian dictators, and screwing off our allies, and General Mattis thought that was dangerous, and so that`s why he resigned. That is what he said in his resignation letter but he said it in such a nice way.
Months later, General Mattis came out with a book about his time in the military, and his time in public life. The book, essentially, skirted the Trump presidency entirely. And then General Mattis said over and over again on his strange book promotion tour in which he was determined not to make any news, he said over and over again while promoting that book that he wouldn`t talk about his time as Trump`s defense secretary, or what he saw from his vantage point in his role inside the Trump administration, he would not talk publicly about what he thought American citizens should know about the president whose employ he just quit. He said he wouldn`t, quote, kiss and tell. He said, quote, there is a period in which I owe my silence.
Well, tonight, that period of silence from General Mattis has now ended. And it`s a statement, from General Mattis, that`s just been published by reporter Jeffrey Goldberg in the "Atlantic Magazine". In the statement, General Mattis titles it, "In Union, There is Strength".
He says, quote, I have watched this week`s unfolding event, angry and appalled. The words, equal justice under law, are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand, one that all of us should be able to get behind.
We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values, our values as people and our values as a nation. When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstances to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens, much less to provide a bizarre photo-op for the elected commander in chief, with military leadership standing alongside.
Military leadership standing alongside. I`m just going to interrupt myself and interrupt this statement for a second here just so I can show you what General Mattis is referencing here. This is something we`ve talked about this week since it happened, the fact that President Trump really was accompanied by the Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, wearing combat fatigues when the administration ordered the gas and the beatings to attack peaceful protesters, in the park across from the White House, so the president could walk across that park, and pose for pictures on the other side of it.
I mean, it says a lot for the president himself, to do that. With like his daughter alongside him, and the attorney general, who apparently ordered the attack on the protesters, and a bunch of White House staffers with him, or whatever. But it actually means something else to us as a republic, and it means something else to our military, to have the defense secretary, representing the Defense Department, and the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff there, representing the United States military, taking part in that photo-op as well, again, a photo op for which American citizens peacefully demonstrating were gassed and beaten.
So, the presence of Esper and Milley at that event this week, that is what General Mattis is criticizing there in his statement.
Back to the statement. He says, quote: We must reject any thinking of our cities as battlespace, that our uniformed military is called upon to dominate. That is something that Mark Esper, secretary of defense, said on a call with the president and nation`s governors this week, calling the streets battlespace saying the military should dominate that battlespace.
General Mattis continues. Quote: At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict -- a false conflict between military and civil society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society that they are sworn to protect and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public orders rests with civilian, state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.
James Mattis wrote in Federalist 14 that "America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to a foreign ambition than American disunited with 100,000 veterans ready for combat.
We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose, and it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law. Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that the Nazi slogan for destroying us, was divide and conquer. Our American answer is, in union, there is strength.
Mattis says, we must summon that unity to surmount this crisis, confident that we are better than our politics. He says, quote, Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people, does not even pretend to try, instead he tries to divide us.
We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society.
This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens, to past generations that bled to defend our promise and we owe it to our children. We can come through this trying time stronger and a renewed sense of purpose and a respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that this is not only our troops that are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery store, post offices, and elsewhere, have put their lives on the line, in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country.
We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Park. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.
And it is signed, James Mattis.
Marine General James Mattis, defense secretary under this president until a year and a half ago, with a remarkable statement, saying the president has ordered troops to violate American`s constitutional rights. That the president is using the same strategy against the United States, that Nazi Germany used against the United States in World War II. General Mattis saying that the crises we are experiencing now are the result of President Trump`s three years of deliberate effort to divide the country.
General Mattis saying the president is abusing his executive authority, that he and his nation administration, including the military leadership and the Defense Department leadership that is supporting what the president is doing right now, Mattis says they are making a mockery of our Constitution and they all must be rejected and held accountable. I guess this is the time he felt like he needed to speak out.
So that happened today. That`s one of the things that happened today. You know, in a normal time, in a normal presidency, the president and his party, having to abandon the site of his party`s nominating convention for his re-election effort, less than three months before that convention was due to start, in a normal presidency, even in a normal troubled presidency, that would be a huge story. They can`t have their convention? It`s June and they just found out they can`t have their convention where they were going to have it in August?
I mean, today, in this time of multiple crises, that otherwise huge news barely even made a ripple outside of the city that was going to host the Republican convention that`s no longer going to host it.
And I should tell you, the way it is making a ripple in that city`s major newspaper can be summed up pretty tightly in the "Charlotte Observer`s" headline on this editorial they posted this afternoon. Good riddance. They don`t even want it anymore.
The president had insisted that the Republican convention to formally nominate him as the Republican Party`s candidate for president this year, he has insisted that the convention must be held without any social distancing measures at all, without any face coverings, he wanted it to be big and in person and everybody together, in the same room, no accounting for COVID risk at all.
Well, in a letter yesterday, North Carolina`s governor made clear that the state could not promise any such thing. And, of course, they can`t responsibly.
Have you seen what North Carolina`s curve looks like in terms of its new cases right now? This is their new cases right now. You want to bring tens of thousands of people together from all over the country, in the same room, indoors, for days on end, with no social distancing, and no masks?
When North Carolina already looks like this right now, really? No. That is not going to happen. And so, the Republican convention is not going to happen as planned in North Carolina.
Word then spread today that maybe the Republican Party would do their convention in Nashville, Tennessee, instead. OK. Well, Tennessee is not looking that much better right now, along those same lines. But sure, knock your socks off. And you know, good luck if Tennessee isn`t right for you, either, in terms of the health risks of getting tens of thousands of people together there, and pretending there`s no pandemic anymore.
Because for the whole start of the coronavirus epidemic, in this country, the case numbers and the death numbers were driven by a pretty small number of states that had, were afflicted terribly with this thing while everybody else was doing OK. But now we`re further into it. The epidemic here is older and more mature, and now the states that had it the worst.
Places like New York and New Jersey, and Connecticut, and Michigan, they`re all coming way back down. They`ve done the work. They`re starting to come out the other side of it.
I mean, the problem is not New York now. Just for comparison, I mean, there`s New York, on the left. There`s Tennessee on the right. Leave New York out there on the left. Put up North Carolina on the right, right?
I mean, there`s, this is two very different scenarios. How about we try and move the Republican convention to Arizona? Let`s put Arizona up there on the right. That might not be a good idea there either.
Maybe we`ll go to the deeper south, try it in Arkansas. How about Arkansas? Maybe not.
Look at Mississippi right now. How about we take it to Mississippi? That would be a friendly territory, right?
South Carolina? Yeah.
You know, we were counting for all these weeks on the American epidemic shrinking because states hit early like New York and New Jersey, were getting through it. And their numbers were starting to go down. Well, yes, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, all these initially hard-hit places, were getting through it. And their curves are going down, down, down.
But as the rest of the country starts going up, up, up, look at the end of the graph there, on the right, this is American deaths, are starting to, this says the reported coronavirus cases by day, this is actually a death graph, not a cases graph, but look at the right side of it, American deaths are starting to tick back up again.
And that is not because the initial hard-hit states are still being hard hit. They`re not. Their death counts are dropping. This is all of the other surging cases in the country outside of the Northeast, taking over the body count themselves now as it is starting to tick back up in the United States.
And, you know, what`s the limit here? What is the ceiling we think are headed for with new case curves that look like in all of these states now? Wishing and hoping and choosing to believe that the coronavirus epidemic is going away isn`t the same thing as it going away.
I mean, this week, as the president decided he needed to move the Republican convention this summer out of North Carolina, because North Carolina`s governor insisted on remembering that we are in the middle of a viral epidemic and their curve looks like this, I mean, this week, we`ve got big new outbreaks in weird new places. A fishing fleet in Washington state turned around its big factory trawler fishing boats after most of the crew on the 126 sailors onboard one of their trawlers tested positive.
Another 200-plus cases out of a paper products manufacturing plant in Kansas City, paper products manufacturer. Also, an outbreak among the construction crew working on the new football stadium at the University of Alabama. How about a Tennessee farm, where the owner says 100 percent of the more than 200 farm workers on-site are positive there?
And, of course, the places where the epidemic is the worst aren`t getting any better. Another 591 workers test positive at a Tyson Meat plant this time in Storm Lake, Iowa. That huge outbreak at that Tyson meat plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, has made that county one of the most infected places on earth right now, per capita.
Also, a federal prison, in Butner, North Carolina, where they are only now just getting around to testing everyone, after six prisoners died there in eight days. They`re finally realizing, hmm, maybe we ought to test everybody. Six people dead in eight days.
The way our federal government is dealing with the pandemic now is just not to deal with it. Just to decide that it`s not happening, it`s over, it`s an old story. We would rather talk about other things now. But they`re also dismantling their effort, that they use to in effectually deal with it thus far.
I mean, the coronavirus task force isn`t really meeting anymore. The top infectious disease expert in the U.S. government, Tony Fauci, says he`s not meeting with the White House or the government anymore.
The man in charge of coronavirus testing for the administration, the testing czar is resigning from that job now. And the plan is to not replace him with anyone. Because why bother? They`re just not going to work on that at the federal level anymore, which seems especially (AUDIO GAP) as a country have been spending the early part of our summer this year.
"The Associated Press" reporting today that in the national uproar against racism and police use of deadly force in the wake of George Floyd`s death in Minneapolis, significant demonstrations have taken place in every single one of the 25 U.S. communities, that have the highest concentrations of new cases of coronavirus. So in the places in America, where the coronavirus epidemic is growing the fastest, when they got the highest concentrations of new cases, we`ve had demonstrations in every single one of those 25 places, and we will see whatever the impact may be on the pandemic in the next couple of weeks, as the case numbers start to turn up, as people start to get tested, as people start to get sick, as people start to turn up at the hospital.
But as crazy as the news is right now, I do actually think it`s helpful, it is dark, but it is helpful, to keep a sort of wide frame of understanding, in terms of how all of these things fit together, because these crises are not unrelated. And they inter-lock in ways that are at times mutually destructive. I mean, it`s all happening at once, right? The failed and disastrous epidemic response that gave our country the worst epidemic on earth, and the highest case number on earth, and the highest death count by far and still growing.
That government response, as bad as it has been, really is just being abandoned now. It really is just being collapsed, even as the numbers start to climb back up, ominously, in all sorts of states, all across the country, from California, to Texas, to the Deep South, and beyond.
Alongside that, while the fight against the epidemic is essentially being abandoned, by this president, as bad as he was in mounting that fight, he walked away from it now, and now, we have this totally new crisis, in which the president is ordering armed, in his word, heavily-armed active duty U.S. troops to be used against the American people on U.S. soil. And as much as this appears to be driven by the president`s desire to try to look tough, today, I don`t know if you saw this, today, the president literally started saying, that he hadn`t actually been rushed to the safety bunker inside the White House because of protests outside the White House, today he said, whatever you heard about that, about him being rushed to the bunker, that was fake news.
Today, he decided to explain that by saying he had gone to that bunker himself of his own accord because he wanted to inspect the bunker. The president is a bunker inspector now because he wouldn`t want us to think that he needed to be moved somewhere for his own safety. He inspects bunkers. It`s kind of a hobby.
I mean, as much as, as any of this may be driven by something as stupid as the president`s macho desire to look tougher than he is, to look like a fake general or some kind of cartoon dictator, his fantasies, however lame and transparent, have effect in the real world when they take the form of orders to the U.S. military, and this fantasy of his is about the U.S. military and he has actually ordered the Pentagon to send armed active duty U.S. troops from the U.S. Army into the streets of Washington, D.C., to be deployed against the American people, in American city streets.
Now, is the Defense Department leadership of this country and the military leadership of this country going to be some sort of bulwark against that kind of craziness? This has been a remarkable 48 hours in terms of figuring out that the answer to that is no. Last night, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told NBC News that he only participated in that photo-op, he only walked across the park and stood in that church, the photo-op from which they cleared out all of the protesters with chemical gas and pepper rounds and beatings, he says he only participated in that photo-op as a represented of the Department of Defense because, quote, I didn`t know where I was going.
To be clear, they didn`t put a bag over his head and walk him backwards in circles three times before they sent him across that park. He appeared to know where he was and last night he told NBC News that he`s only did it because he didn`t know where he was going. Just, all of a sudden, he said, look where I am.
Today at the Pentagon, this morning at the Pentagon, Secretary Esper tried to walk that back, he denied he said that to NBC News. He, in fact, did say that to NBC News. He implied in this morning`s press briefing at the Pentagon that, yes, he had known where he was going, when he participated in that photo-op but he didn`t really mean to be in that photo-op. It was kind of inadvertent.
Secretary Esper, said though, that he wanted an investigation into U.S. military helicopters buzzing protesters in D.C. city streets to hit them with rotor wash and try to terrify them off the streets, said he wanted an investigation into that and it didn`t look safe to him. He also said that he disagreed with the president that active duty U.S. soldiers should be deployed on American streets against the American people. A little burst of independence from the defense secretary.
It`s interesting. This morning at the Pentagon, it quickly earned him some headlines about how the White House wasn`t happy about his remarks. This apparent disagreement with him, him apparently disagreeing with the president on these matters, the White House press secretary suggested that Secretary Esper might not be defense secretary for long, depending on how the president really felt about those remarks.
That was all it took. Defense secretary folded completely. "The Associated Press" had reported earlier today that these combat trained troops from the 82nd Airborne who had been sent to bases around D.C., ready to deploy on the streets of D.C., the "A.P." had reported earlier today, that they were going to be sent back home, right?
There`s the defense secretary, saying, I don`t believe that the active duty troops should be here. I don`t believe they should be using these helicopters this way. We need to look into that. Trying to sort of walk back the "I didn`t mean to participate in the photo op, maybe that wasn`t a good idea". And we get this word from the A.P. that the troops are actually going back to their bases.
That`s how we thought things were going to go today. A little burst of independence from a very clearly embarrassed flummoxed and confused defense secretary. But all it took is the White House, and the White House press secretary, taking these few little shots at Esper, you might lose your job, best not take a stance any different from using the president, even if it`s about your department, and even if it`s about him wanting to use U.S. troops against the American people and we know you don`t want to do that, let`s not take a distance that differs from the president whatsoever, little shots from the White House, remark from the White House press spokesperson and Secretary Esper got right back in line.
And this is the "Associated Press" reporting later in the day. Quote: Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the "Associated Press" today that he received notice of the Pentagon order to send about 200 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne`s immediate response force home, he received word of that order, just after 10:00 a.m., today. Hours later though, the Pentagon notified the army secretary that the Defense Secretary Mark Esper had reversed that earlier decision. McCarthy told the "Associated Press", he was told about the reversal after Esper attended a meeting at the White House.
So, it looks like the defense secretary might stand up against some of this madness, and then he just instantly caved. And then yes, we get General Mattis, speaking from beyond the political grave today, breaking his silence. And saying this can`t happen. The current military leadership is just capitulated entirely. Mattis gets up on his hind legs finally and says this cannot be.
But a retired defense secretary isn`t much compared to a serving one, who won`t stand up or whom he stands up for a second and gets immediately chased back into his hiding hole. And his military counterpart, the chairman of the joint chiefs, really did put on combat fatigues and strut around the streets of Washington, D.C. like he was trying on military rule for size. And he hasn`t said beef about that since he did it.
And the Republicans in Washington are not exactly standing tall on this one. This was Senator Tom Cotton`s op-ed today in the "New York Times." Send in the troop, an overwhelming show of force against the American people, by armed U.S. soldiers.
As for the rest of his colleagues on the Republican side, well, tomorrow, they will distinguish themselves by issuing subpoenas to 53 law enforcement and Obama administration officials, so that they can try to make a crime out of the investigation into Russia messing with the 2016 election, to benefit Donald Trump. These 53 subpoenas targeting Obama administration officials are going out alongside the federal prosecutor that Attorney General William Barr has already appointed to go after Obama administration officials who were in office when the Russia investigation started, all to create an air of criminality around Vice President Biden and the whole Obama administration, in time for the election in November.
How much will the White House and this president, and the Republican Party in Washington, use the power of government, and even the power of the U.S. military, and the power of the U.S. Justice Department, to try to keep this president in power? And simultaneously, how many thousands more Americans are going to die between now and the time when we`re supposed to make that decision as citizens, because of a simultaneous viral epidemic that they are now basically just letting run its course without any interference?
These things are not just happening at the same time. In some ways, these are all the same thing. How bad can this get?
MADDOW: The ninth straight day of protests nationwide against the police killing of George Floyd are still under way at this hour in cities across the country. The protests continue tonight, including in the nation`s capital, amid explosive developments in the case today, as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced new charges, a new more serious charge against Officer Derek Chauvin, the officer who dug his knee into George Floyd`s neck for nearly nine minutes.
That officer was already facing one count of third degree murder and a count of second degree manslaughter. After this move by Attorney General Ellison today, that officer now also faces an additional count of second- degree murder.
It was third degree murder in the initial set of charges. It is now second- degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Attorney General Ellison also announced that the other three officers who were there on the scene when George Floyd was arrested and that knee was on his neck for more than eight minutes, the other three officers on the scene of that arrest are now charged with aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd.
Joining us now is Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Sir, thank you very much for your time tonight. I know this is a very fraught time and a difficult and busy time for you.
KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, thank you. Glad to be with you.
BURNETT: Just tell us, in basic terms, why you made this decision, to add this additional charge for Officer Chauvin.
ELLISON: Because after researching, we looked and found additional evidence, we continued to investigate, we had, you know, medical examiner evidence coming in, we reviewed tape, and we came to the conclusion that these charges were warranted, second-degree murder charges were supported by the fact which we believe we can prove in a court of law.
And then the additional charges against the other three, it`s very clear that the assault which ended up being a murder was aided and abetted by these officers in many ways, not only by sitting on him, but including that, by watching out, by failing to render aid, there were a number of failures, despite the fact that he had multiple pleas for help. The crowd was asking for Mr. Floyd to getting help. And he was -- those pleas were ignored, long after he had become absolutely defenseless and unresponsive.
So those things I think support the charges and the facts that we have been gathering to support those charges.
BURNETT: Let me ask -- it`s been a couple of days since you were brought in to take over this case, this investigation, these prosecutions, are you saying that you looked at evidence that the county attorney didn`t look at, when he made the initial decision to charge Officer Chauvin with third degree, not second-degree murder? Or is that that you looked at essentially the same evidence that the county attorney looked at, but you interpreted it differently than he did?
ELLISON: Additional evidence has come in since then, and in fact, the County Attorney Mike Freeman and I have been in contact, he`s a partner in the case. And so, with the new evidence we`ve seen, the evidence we acquired, and with some fresh eyes all together, we decided jointly that these were the right charges on all four.
And, in fact, I will tell you this, Rachel, you know, we`re continuing to investigate. We`re continuing to gather information. I am absolutely confident that these charges are supported by the facts that we can prove in court, but we remain on the lookout for more evidence.
And we -- so, we`ve asked people, if you have more videotape, you have more information about this case, we are hoping that people would continue to come forward, and that we can continue to find out more about what really happened at 38th and Chicago in the city of Minneapolis about nine days ago.
MADDOW: I know that you are constrained by how much detail you can give us about the evidence in the case, because this all has to happen in court. But one of the things that we talked about --
MADDOW: -- a few days ago when we spoke was the issue of body camera footage, and we know from the criminal complaint that we believe all of the officers involved here, not only were wearing body cams, but they were on.
Can you tell us if the evidence from those body cameras on all of the officers is important evidence, and if the public should expect to ultimately see that, before the trial, or if that will not be something that will be made publicly available?
ELLISON: Well, I can tell you it is very important, it was a factor in our considerations. I can tell you that I just don`t know what the timeline is for releasing that information.
But I do hold the value of transparency very highly, I think it`s important. The public does have a right to know. But from my standpoint, a higher value is securing convictions against these four defendants.
MADDOW: There is almost no -- no history in Minnesota of convicting police officers for crimes on the job. There`s obviously one very high profile exception to that, in recent years, in which a black officer was convicted after shooting a white woman on the job.
But aside from that, Minnesota police officers don`t tend to get convicted, even when, in the rare instance, when they do get charged.
Do you feel yourself sort of up against the weight of that history? And do you feel like your office has a clear view of how to get around that lack of precedent?
ELLISON: Yes, I do. But let me tell you, I just -- I just remind people of the difficulty of these cases, because when they see the tape, to them, it`s just so clear. But I say you know what, the way this plays in the courtroom, it`s going to be different.
And people who are, you know, social justice advocates, who have strong views about this case, probably will not make it on to the jury. And that`s just the way we do jury selection in the United States. You have to pretty much say that you can keep your mind open and don`t have any preconceived notions. So that jury will be comprised of people who probably weren`t out at the rallies.
So it is very important that folks understand that these cases are not easy, but it`s also important for people to understand that this case -- these four defendants should be convicted. They did the conduct that violated these criminal statutes. And I would not have charged them otherwise. And they should be convicted. And we will work to make sure --
MADDOW: Minnesota Attorney General --
ELLISON: -- that they are.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, now leading the prosecution in the George Floyd murder case, again, announcing new charges today against the lead officer in that arrest and the other three officers who are on the scene.
Sir, I know it`s a really busy time. Thanks for taking time to help us understand tonight. Good luck.
ELLISON: Thank you, ma`am. Absolutely. Have a good day.
MADDOW: In just a moment, I need to tell you, I have just learned, we are going to get reaction to these new charges from the attorney for George Floyd`s family, Benjamin Crump. He is going to be joining us live in reaction to this news in just a moment. And we`re going to be speaking with Senator Kamala Harris of California.
Lots to come tonight. Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Joining us now live is Benjamin Crump. He is the lead attorney for the family of George Floyd who was killed in Minneapolis, a week ago Monday.
Mr. Crump, I should tell you, has also represented the families of Ahmaud Arbery, the young African-American man shot in February while jogging in Georgia. He also represented the family of Breonna Taylor, the young African-American woman who was shot in March in her Louisville, Kentucky, home after police entered in the middle of the night.
Mr. Benjamin Crump, it is an honor to have you here tonight. Thank you for your time.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE GEORGE FLOYD FAMILY: The honor is mine, Rachel. Thank you for always using your voice.
MADDOW: On behalf of the Floyd family, you have called clearly for there to be criminal charges against all four officers involved in this case. All four officers have now been charged, all four are arrested, we`ve got mug shots for all four of these officers now, looking at these mug shot, knowing these charges have been filed.
Does the family believe this is some measure of justice already?
CRUMP: Well, they are relieved that the Attorney Keith Ellison, Attorney General Keith Ellison efficiently came in and arrested the officers finally, Rachel. We all believe that the officers should have been arrested on the first day, after they just offered no humanity to a man who was face-down, in handcuffs, and kept a knee on his neck, kept two knees on his back, that our autopsy found compressed his lungs, and didn`t allow air to contract to in take and dispense oxygen and deny oxygen to his brain.
One of the witnesses, Darnell Williams (ph), who was on the scene, Rachel, said, he compared it to a fish out of water as he was trying for air and his body stiffens up and it never moves again. He kept saying, he`s the one on the video, y`all are killing him, and he said, when George stopped moving and he called for his mama, and after he said, I`m gone now, literally giving a documentary of his death, he said he knew that George was dead, and this was confirmed by the EMT when they said he was unresponsive and post-less, so that ambulance was his hearse.
And so, it was right to charge all of these officers for portraying (ph) -- for just disavowing their oath.
MADDOW: This new second-degree murder charge filed today, against the initial officer, this new charge levied today by Attorney General Ellison, it alleges that there was intent to kill him. That`s the difference, the important difference here, that`s why it is such a larger penalty, it is 40 years in prison maximum if he is convicted of second-degree murder.
Do you believe that second degree murder is the right charge?
CRUMP: Well, obviously, we think that the full extent of the law, whatever that is, whether it is first degree, whatever the max is, Rachel, we believe he should be charged. However, Attorney General Keith Ellison told the family, he would charge them with the maximum he felt he could sustain. He also told them, Rachel, that if the investigation, as it continues, discovers evidence that will help his office sustain a conviction for first-degree murder, then we upgrade the charges, and the family was relieved, because you may have heard his brother Philonise who was so passionate saying that the person I slept in the bed with, my big brother, they killed, they treated him less than an animal, they should stay in prison for the rest of their lives.
MADDOW: Do you have confidence in the prosecution here, in being able to prove this? I just spoke with the Attorney General Ellison right before speaking to you, sir, and I raised with him, the fact that in Minnesota, there is almost zero track record of police officers being convicted of anything they have done on the job, one notable exception of a black officer who was convicted after killing a white woman on the job, but other than that, we will search the history books to find convictions in the state.
Do you have confidence that the prosecution knows how to do this, that they know how to do it beyond a reasonable doubt, that they know how to convince a jury?
CRUMP: Well, we do have confidence of the attorney general and his capabilities basis based on his track record. Also this video gives ocular proof, and we get to heard, based on the police body cam video what they were saying which will lead to what was their mentalities at the time.
But I also believe, Rachel, that it is very difficult to convict white police officers for killing black people in America. I have long argued that we have two justice systems in America, one for black America, and one for white America, when we have to have equal justice for the United States of America.
I think this case is a tipping point to show America that we have to have systemic responses to this police excessive use of daily force against black and brown people, happening all over the country. And this case can hopefully speak to those larger issues, but for this case particularly, it is going to tell us, can black people in America in 2020 get equal justice? Does America believe in the words of Thomas Jefferson, that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally, that they`re endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that amongst them are life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Well, that means black people, too, America. And George Floyd`s life mattered and black lives matter.
MADDOW: Benjamin Crump, attorney for the families of George Floyd, also Breonna Taylor, also Ahmaud Arbery -- Mr. Crump, thank you for your time tonight. I know this is an incredibly important night. Thank you for helping us understand the perspective of the family here and your own. It`s great to have you here, sir.
CRUMP: Thank you, Rachel. I`m a big fan with your work and how you use your voice for the voiceless.
MADDOW: You are very kind to say so, sir. Thank you.
All right. Senator Kamala Harris is going to join us live next, as we continue to monitor live protest scenes around the country. That`s Los Angeles that you`re looking at here. We`re looking at large protests in Washington, D.C., Seattle, other places in the country tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris is the former attorney general of the state of California. She`s a former leading presidential candidate in her party and she is currently a leading vice presidential contender for this year`s general election.
Senator Harris joins us live now from Washington, D.C.
Senator Harris, it is really good to see you. Thank you for making time to be here tonight.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Of course, Rachel. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: It is a ninth night of protests tonight --
MADDOW: -- including more large protests in Washington, D.C. this time. Amid the threat of the president using active duty U.S. troops against the U.S. population on U.S. streets.
I just -- I want you to tell me what you think about that in your own terms.
HARRIS: I think that the words of the president were not the words of a president. They were the words of a dictator.
The fact that he turned tear gas on to a peaceful protest so that they could pave the way for them to walk through like the emperor with no clothes, to then hold up the holy bible like it was a prop or a Trump steak is absolutely further indication of the fact that he is not fit to be commander in chief and certainly not at this most critical time in our country when we are facing so much crisis.
And the American people deserve a real commander in chief who concerns themselves with the wellbeing of the American people, instead of concerning themselves with spewing hate and division and chaos all the time.
MADDOW: Do you have clarity on what the president has actually ordered and what the status is of active duty troops? One of the things that I found very unnerving is that the Pentagon itself appears to be confused. The Pentagon today appears to have issued a U-turn, a 180 on some orders for active duty combat trained troops from Ft. Bragg to get sent back home and then, no, that got reversed and they were held and brought back.
Do you and your colleagues in the Senate actually know what`s happening in terms of this Rubicon moment that the president wanting active duty troops out there?
HARRIS: I believe there is chaos within and outside the government that has caused -- that has been caused by Donald Trump. And the hope that I have, the sense of confidence I have in any ability to maintain stability is placed on those career professionals in the military and in the government who are fighting against the whims and fancy of the president to do what they know is in the best interests of the American people and on our national security. The idea that the president of the United States would turn the United States military against the people of the United States is outrageous.
And I applaud General Mattis for his words. But, I mean, Rachel, remember, we send the men and women in the armed services, our military, we sends them to fight, to uphold America`s values. One of which is the value we place on having a democracy, founded and grounded in the Constitution of the United States, where in its First Amendment is the right for free expression, where we have the right for free association.
So, the irony, and just the internal conflict around purpose and ideals and principles is obvious to all of us. And I`m counting on and I think many of us are counting on, the career professionals, our career military professionals to do the right thing and to say no to this president when he engages in this kind of conduct that is immoral and frankly goes against the very principles and spirit of the Constitution of the United States, a Constitution that he swore to uphold.
MADDOW: The case at the core of these protests, the George Floyd case, we just spoke with Attorney General Keith Ellison and with Benjamin Crump, the family lawyer for the Floyd family, about these new charges today that were released by -- that were announced by the attorney general.
As a former attorney general yourself, do you have confidence in what attorney general Ellison is doing in Minneapolis? Does it seem to you these charges are warranted and that all four of these officers should, in fact, be under arrest tonight?
HARRIS: I do have confidence in General Ellison, Keith Ellison. I know him. I know him to be someone who takes seriously his responsibilities, and especially in this case. He clearly has exercised incredible due diligence looking at the facts of the case and assessing the facts to determine what the charges should most appropriately be.
But as he said, and I watched his interview with you, it`s not going to be easy. It will not be easy. And there is one thing that when we know what happened, it is another thing when the prosecutor has to prove what happened in a court of law and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt with a jury of 12 people who are unbiased and unconnected with the case.
But I do have confidence in his ability. And more than anything, I have confidence in the American people to know an injustice, a blatant injustice when they`ve seen it. And in this case, in the killing and the murder of George Floyd, there really is not much that is left to the imagination around what happened. It`s pretty clear what happened. It happened in front of us, tragically so, to the point that many are understandably demanding that we stop showing that video because it is so deeply graphic and troubling.
MADDOW: Senator Kamala Harris of California, Senator, it is really good to see you. Thank you for being with us. I know it`s an incredibly busy time. Thanks for sharing some time with us.
HARRIS: Thank you. Take care.
MADDOW: All right. That`s going to do it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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