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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/11/22

Guests: Elie Mystal, Mazie Hirono, Josh Gerstein, Christian Smalls, Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Summary

South Carolina GOP senator caught on tape saying Trump went too far on January 6th. Hawaii Democratic senator on abortion rights vote failing in the Senate. Christian Smalls joins THE BEAT to talk about his meeting with President Biden and his struggle fighting for workers and labor. HBCU lacrosse team says they were racially profiled in a police traffic stop. Sen. Ron Johnson pushes wild new vax misinformation.

Transcript

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes on this Wednesday. We are grateful. "THE BEAT" with Jason Johnson, in for Ari Melber, starts right now.

Hi, Jason.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much. Welcome back to THE BEAT. I`m Jason Johnson in for Ari Melber.

And we start with explosive newly released audio from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham slamming and condemning Trump on January 6th, shocker. We know Graham is one of the greatest Trump suck-ups in the game. But here`s how he sounded on MAGA insurrection day last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He`s misjudged the passion. You know, he plays the TV game and he went too far here. That rally didn`t help, talking about, you know, primarying Liz. He created a sense of revenge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Graham saying Trump went too far -- really? -- and created a sense of revenge. He`s saying Trump has responsibility for those terrorists that attacked and tried to overthrow the country. It comes as the January 6th Committee preps public hearings with videotape testimony.

Today new e-mails from Trump lawyer John Eastman that are in the hands of the January 6th Committee. Eastman is the mastermind of the coup. He circulated that memo, a sort of coup playbook. The e-mails show Eastman urging GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania to, quote, "retabulate the state`s popular vote" and throw out tens of thousands of absentee ballots. Eastman writing the strategy would, quote, "help provide some cover for Republicans to replace Joe Biden`s electors with a slate of pro-Trump electors."

Senator Mike Lee who still hasn`t explained this coup work behind the scenes, texted Trump`s chief of staff Mark Meadows on November 23rd. Quote, "John Eastman has some really interesting research on this. The good news is that Eastman is proposing an approach that unlike what Sydney Powell has proposed could be examined very quickly."

A judge ruling Trump and Eastman more likely than not committed crimes in trying to overturn the election. It was Trump praising Eastman during his January 6th speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: John is one of the most brilliant lawyers in the country and he looked at this and he said, what an absolute disgrace that this could be happening to our Constitution. And he looked at Mike Pence, and I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Trump is also under criminal investigation in Georgia, and that district attorney seems to be closing in on the fake electors plot with some of those frauds cooperating. The D.A. is reportedly investigating whether the pro-Trump electors in Georgia had any knowledge that their actions may have been a component of a broader potentially illegal plot. So the committee has so much more evidence than we know. It`s about to all go public. Videotape testimony could also be televised.

Joining me now to discuss all this is Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation" and the Tim Black of politics, and Tim Miller, MSNBC political analyst.

Thank you all so very much. Elie`s new book -- sorry, Tim`s new book "Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell" comes out soon.

Thank you all so much. I`m very much looking forward to this conversation.

Tim, I`ll start with you because you were the newest author. Elie is the slightly older author at this point. I can`t help but think that when I see all of this additional information come out, when I hear that Lindsey Graham gets busted again for sounding like a turncoat, he`s not loyal to anybody, he switches from this side and the other, does any of this actually shake people who are loyal to the Republican Party?

Or at this point is it all so much noise and it doesn`t really matter what happens in the hearing, it doesn`t matter how these people are exposed, because your core Republican voters are, like, eh, they`re still better than the party of Nancy Pelosi?

TIM MILLER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I keep seeing Elie above me on those Amazon rankings, so, you know, I`m doing the best that I can with the new book. Look, here`s the thing with the Republican voters. There is a group of voters that`s reachable. I know that maybe that feels like it`s frustrating at this point. We`ve kind of been going through all this for six years now. Whenever Trump first came down that escalator, you know, you see that the cultists, the Trump cultists that show up for these primary rallies that he`s holding right now.

But there is another group of voters. And this is why what Lindsey Graham is doing is so pernicious because Lindsey Graham, the "Wall Street" editorial board, people like Mike Esper, they can get through to Republican voters who are kind of ready to move on from Trump in private, but they just get bought into the demonization of the far left.

[18:05:08]

And so when Lindsey Graham says in private to people like Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, oh, who could get mad at Joe Biden, oh, Joe Biden is fine. If he was being honest publicly, if Mitch McConnell, if all these guys were given truth serum and forced to speak publicly, would that get the 30 percent of the Trump cult to move? No. But that would get, that would reach this 3 percent, 4 percent of Republican voters that are absolutely necessary for these critical elections and critical issues that face our country.

And so that`s why to me it`s the Lindsey Graham, the lying that he does is more pernicious, more damaging than, you know, your authentic MAGAs and the stuff that they`re spreading that`s more extreme.

JOHNSON: I can only imagine what Lindsey Graham would sound like if he was forced to take truth serum. I don`t know that we`d be able to talk about that too much.

Elie, I want start with you. I want to play some audio here of what Lindsey Graham was saying, some additional audio of him sort of revealing that not only does he not believe in most of what he`s promoting, but he actually has some deeper doubts as well.

We`ll get your thoughts on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: What this does is there`ll be a rallying effect for a while where the country says we`re better than this.

JONATHAN MARTIN, NEW YORK TIMES: And Biden will help with that, right?

GRAHAM: Yes. Totally. He`ll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: So he`s basically saying this terrible terrorist attack is going to be a net positive for Joe Biden and for the Democratic Party. But he spent the last year talking about how it wasn`t really a terrorist attack and everybody was being silly.

Elie, like, what does this say not just about the nature of Lindsey Graham as a particular politician, but all the other Republican politicians who are pretty much parroting the same line?

ELIE MYSTAL, THE NATION JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lindsey Graham is a lying, sniveling hypocrite, and we`ve known that for some time. Let`s not remember -- let`s not forget Lindsey Graham on January 6th where he sweatily said that he was done with Trump, because like clearly what happened on January 6th shook him. It shook all of them. But when it came time to have political courage or just like interpersonal courage, these people failed.

These people fall down. And as Tim was saying, we`ve seen that consistently throughout the Republican Party, and that`s -- that is now part of their brand, cowardice and the inability to put the needs of the country ahead of their own personal and political needs is now indelibly a part of the Republican brand. And I think we`ve all known this, right? So again I kind of always come back to the question, what are we going to do with this knowledge that we clearly all have now about what Republicans are actually about?

Like are people going to come out and vote like that? Are people going to come out -- or is the media going to cover these people like that. Like it always blows my mind that having just literal taped evidence that Lindsey Graham lies all the time, tomorrow there will be some journalist who sticks a microphone in Lindsey Graham`s face and then reports what he says as if that`s not a lie.

JOHNSON: Right.

MYSTAL: Like how is that possible? How is Mike Lee able to go outside of his house without 18 reporters being like, can you explain yourself on January 6th? Can you explain why you supported the coup? Like how are any of these Republicans allowed to kind of exist in the Washington ecosystem without reporters constantly demanding better for them is also why we have this problem.

JOHNSON: I want to play some audio of a person who I think exemplifies this, and might possibly exemplify the kind of Republicans that Tim says can be approached. I want to play some sound from Ted Cruz, Tim, I want get your thoughts on the other side of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week, and it is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol.

On January 6th of 2021, you had tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting, and yet the corporate media and Democrats slander them with the made-up term insurrectionist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: So here`s the thing, Tim. We know just like Lindsey Graham, just like Mike Lee, we know Ted Cruz is a liar. And I`ve always said that Ted Cruz is a different kind of liar because I actually think he knows better. When you were saying before, Tim, are you suggesting that there may be, like, Ted Cruz Republicans out there who are going to say, it was just a peaceful protest when they`re with their friends, but privately in the voting booth say, oh, my gosh, I know my party has been taken over by maniacs? Like do you think Ted Cruz represents a certain segment of reachable voters or is he just being sort of a weasely politician?

MILLER: I think that both can be true, right. Look, and I don`t know that - - look, your Ted Cruz voter is going to come out and vote for Bernie Sanders, you know what I mean, or is going to come out and just like vote for a Democrat in the Wisconsin Senate race.

[18:10:05]

But getting people to not vote, right, is also something that can be useful, not choose between the two parties, vote for a third party, vote for an independent candidate that`s running, right. And this was important in 2020. When we were working for Republican voters against Trump. What we were trying to do is get to people who maybe or authentic Christian evangelical conservatives who are grossed out by Trump, and grossed up by all of these lies.

And may then feel bad about their faith and their principles, and we said, well, maybe you can`t get all the way to Hillary or maybe you can`t get all the way to Joe Biden. I think they could have, but maybe not, right. Why not just -- you know, you can do a write-in this time and vote for a Republican down the ballot, right. And that mattered. There are some of these races, 50,000 votes in Georgia. So those people do exist.

The problem is that Ted Cruz is giving them all permission to do the opposite. And this is why that permission structure on FOX is so dangerous because when these guys lie and when these guys change their tune from what they say in private, they are speaking more effectively to that very voter and telling them it`s OK to vote for the guy you know is liar because I`m a liar, we`re all in on the joke together, and it`s better than those evil lefties. And like that`s what you have to break.

JOHNSON: The greatest fear is that you get the message out to the public that since all politicians are liars, it doesn`t matter who you vote for and you can just vote for the guy who makes you feel good in the moment.

Elie Mystal and Tim Miller, thank you guys so very much for starting us on the show today.

Coming up, accusations of racial profiling after a women`s lacrosse team is stopped and searched for nonexistent drugs.

Plus, our special interview with the man who`s faced down Jeff Bezos, Tucker Carlson, and Lindsey Graham, Amazon union president Christian Smalls. But first, outrage after a GOP senator compares pregnant women to sea turtles. And dramatic news from inside the Supreme Court about the Roe decision. We have the reporter who`s dropping scoop after scoop after scoop on this story.

Stay with us. This is Jason Johnson sitting in on THE BEAT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:26]

JOHNSON: Senate Republicans today blocking a bill to enshrine Roe vs. Wade into law and protect the woman`s right to choose. 49 votes to move forward on the bill, 11 short of what was needed. All Democrats except, surprise, Joe Manchin, voting in support. All Republicans against.

That`s a contrast Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wanted to draw as Democrats look to galvanize voters in the midterms. The bill would actually have gone farther than protecting access to abortion nationwide, rolling back state-level restrictions. Manchin and two Republicans were calling for a narrower bill simply codifying Roe into law. McConnell would have blocked it, too, but it could have strengthened Democrats` message.

Also today, new details from inside the Supreme Court. "Politico" reporting the leaked draft opinion from Justice Alito overturning Roe is still the only opinion circulating with no signs that the court is changing course.

In a moment I`ll talk to one of those reporters who broke this, Josh Gerstein.

Joining me now is Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat from Hawaii. She co- sponsored the bill the Senate voted on today, the Women`s Health Protection Act.

Thank you, Senator, for joining us this evening.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Good evening.

JOHNSON: I want to start with this. You represent the state of Hawaii. Hawaii is the first state to allow abortion in the United States three years before Roe vs. Wade. When you talked to your constituents back home, what are they saying about what this potential ruling, which we know is going to come -- what are they saying back home? Are they terrified? Are they galvanized? What are you hearing back in Hawaii?

HIRONO: There are a group of women in Hawaii I know who are totally galvanized by this even if the Hawaii women are protected, and I`m proud of the fact that Hawaii was the first state in the nation that said women should make this decision, not government. But the women activists that I know are very well aware that this could not be the end because as the Republicans take control of the U.S. House and Senate, then there will be a push for a nationwide ban.

And really, this is all about who`s going to make the decision? Is it going to be a woman or it is going to be government? And the radical right-wing Supreme Court justices have said in spite of almost 50 years of precedent we`re going to let government make this decision, not women. That is the bottom line of this battle in my view.

JOHNSON: And your home state of Hawaii has already seen the results of what abortion restrictions have done. There`s been a lot of reporting about an influx of people from Texas flying out to Hawaii, spending thousands of dollars, raising money through GoFundMe to fly to Hawaii in order to actually get abortion.

HIRONO: Yes.

JOHNSON: What`s the impact of that, basically abortion refugees coming to your state? What impact has that had on activists and organizers on the ground in Hawaii?

HIRONO: Of course it points out that women are going to need and want abortions and they`re going to go to those states if they are able to, to get the necessary care that they choose to have. And so yes, I know some of the women, a number of the women who are abortion providers in Hawaii. They`ve written an op-ed saying that they are seeing this kind of result of Texas`s law, which I think is one of the worst things.

You know, obviously that these Texans who protest about wearing masks don`t mind forcing women to have babies.

JOHNSON: Right. I want to play you some sound. I think it`s exemplary of the kind of people that you are working with in the Senate on the Republican side, as an example of what they`re not understanding about what abortion means to human women, and get your thoughts on the other side.

[18:20:15]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: If the majority opinion continues to be the majority opinion, if the outcome is that the court --

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): The eggs of a sea turtle or the eggs of eagles, because when you destroy an egg, you`re killing a pre-born baby sea turtle or a pre-born baby eagle. Yet when it comes to a pre-born human baby rather than a sea turtle, that baby will be stripped of all protections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Senator, not only is that one of the strangest presentations I`ve ever seen as this person seems to think that human beings and things that are born in eggs are the same, what is it like when you`re sort of in conference and in discussion -- you`re one of the cosponsors of the Women Health Protection Act. Can you even have conversations with senators like that or is it mostly just about trying to rally whatever Democrats you can and hope that you get some reinforcements after the midterms?

HIRONO: As you say, it`s really hard to talk to people who do not even acknowledge the woman.

JOHNSON: Right, right.

HIRONO: How about that? Hey, who`s having these babies? It`s amazing that they have no problems forcing, forcing women to have children. And then, of course, with the Republicans, once a child is born, they pretty much, the kinds of things that will support children such as child care, such as paid family leave. Those things they can`t support. So it is amazing that their position because they are saying that it is government that should make this decision, not the woman.

Well, the Democrats have a totally different view. We respect and acknowledge what used to be a constitutional right that we had for almost 50 years.

JOHNSON: Right.

HIRONO: The right of the woman to make that decision. So of course we`re going to let the American public, 70 percent of whom support Roe, that it is the woman who should make the decision, not government. We need to get that message out loud and clear. A lot of the battle is going to happen at the state legislative race level because it is Republican state legislators and Republican governors that have for decades passed these kinds of restrictive laws.

JOHNSON: Right. And that`s what you guys are basically fighting against, not just with this proposed legislation, but sort of in the battlefields of 2022 as well.

Senator Hirono, thank you so much for starting us off with this segment.

HIRONO: Of course. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Turning now to another leak out of the Supreme Court. "Politico" reporting Justice Alito`s draft opinion overturning Roe remains the only circulating draft. No dissenting draft opinions have emerged from any other justice, and none of the conservatives initially siding with Alito have switched sides.

Also, all nine justices are meeting tomorrow behind closed doors -- so the protesters can`t find them -- for the first time since the public reporting of Alito`s draft.

"Politico`s" Josh Gerstein is one of the journalists behind all of this reporting. He joins me now.

Josh, thank you so much for joining me on THE BEAT. So my first question is this. After this leak comes out, right, Alito sort of -- his music has leaked, he doesn`t like it, they`re clutching their pearls, we still don`t know if it was leaked by somebody in favor of this ruling or somebody against this ruling.

Why do you think there hasn`t been, I guess, a counter leak? Is it because the justices have sort of rallied together, and like, we got to make sure this doesn`t happen again? Or is it because they`ve pretty resigned themselves to the fact that this is what the result is going to be so what difference does it make if we leak anything else?

JOSH GERSTEIN, POLITICO SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Jason, I want to start by giving a shout out to my two other colleagues on this story, Alex Ward and Ryan Lizza who did the reporting on the news story that we put up today.

I think the reason there hasn`t been a counter leak is, according to our information, there is no other opinion in circulation. So the way it typically works at the Supreme Court is that the justices sign the majority opinion will circulate the opinion, meaning it goes to the chambers of all nine justices, presumably the law clerks in each of those chambers get to look at it and then the other justices decide how they`re going to respond.

But there`s no firm schedule except for the fact that the court usually leaves town at the end of June or the very beginning of July, and they need to get all their work done in all their cases by then. So as far as why there hasn`t been a further leak, I don`t know what you would leak at the moment. We have seen in different outlets dueling discussions of what`s going on there behind closed doors, but you`d have to be one of the dissenting justices, I guess, or the justices planning to dissent, or Chief Justice Roberts probably to be in a position to actually have some more documentation to put forward right now.

[18:25:05]

JOHNSON: How do you think this leak has affected or could it potentially affect the internal workings of the court? You know, Justice Roberts last week said, hey, this is a violation, we`re going to get the FBI involved. You know, is this a potential sort of nine angry men and women situation where they`re going to say, hey, first order of business is who leaked this? I mean, is that the kind of thing that will end up being discussed tomorrow or are they just going to kind of go business as usually and pretend that the last week and a half of protests and anger and frustration politically in the rest of the country has no impact on their chamber?

GERSTEIN: Well, I mean, it`s hard to imagine that they can pretend like there`s no impact. I mean, there`s been all this discussion about security. I believe the Senate passed more money for security for the Supreme Court justices just in the last couple of hours. We had the Justice Department announced that the marshal service, which is separate from the Supreme Court marshal we should say who`s supposedly conducting this investigation into the leak. The Marshal Service is going to reinforce the Supreme Court police to provide additional security for the justices. So that`s another concrete step that`s taking place.

I mean, there`s a lot going on in the court right now, Jason. I mean, you`ve got the issue of the leak, you have the issue of their security, and then you have the most momentous issue of all here, which of course is what this opinion is going to say. Will there be a majority to take down a federal constitutional right that`s been on the books for 49 years? Or will perhaps Chief Justice John Roberts be able to sway some Republican nominees, some Republican-appointed member of the court to a more moderate opinion that probably rolls that right back further but doesn`t strike it from the books?

JOHNSON: Josh, quickly, I have to ask you this. If you were a gambling man, and I don`t know if you are, what do you think is the likelihood that what we`ve seen in this leak could be scaled back to just, you know, supporting the Mississippi law but not going after abortion in general? Do you think that is at all likely?

GERSTEIN: I think it`s unlikely. I think the chances there are probably around 10 percent or 20 percent. I think most likely these justices have had a long time to think about this issue. They`re already obviously questioned about it in their confirmation hearings. They said what they said about it but they also know what they think about it and I doubt that other justices or the public reaction is likely to sway them at this point. But, you know, these are human beings, so you never know for sure.

JOHNSON: Yes, Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh, we all knew they were lying at the time and this is what they always wanted to do.

Josh Gerstein, thank you so much for your reporting. Really appreciate it.

GERSTEIN: Thank you, Jason.

JOHNSON: Coming up after a 60-second break, calls for action and accusations of racism after a women`s lacrosse team is searched for drugs that were never there. But first, the labor leader who beat Jeff Bezos formed Amazon`s first union met President Joe Biden today. He`s here, next, Christian Smalls.

We`re back in just 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unions provide, in one word, democracy. Wall Street didn`t build this country. The middle class did and unions built the middle class, not labor, unions built the middle class.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: That was President Biden today speaking at a labor union conference in Chicago. The president reiterating his pledge to be the most pro-union president in American history. Biden met with Amazon labor union president Christian Smalls last week to congratulate him for taking on the big business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN SMALLS, AMAZON LABOR UNION ORGANIZER: How are you doing, Mr. President?

BIDEN: You`re trouble, man.

SMALLS: Yes, I am.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: I like you. You`re my kind of trouble. Congratulations, man.

SMALLS: Thank you.

BIDEN: I got in a little trouble by, you may recall, I was saying I`m looking forward to them being organized.

SMALLS: Yes, well --

BIDEN: You got it done in one place. Let`s not stop.

SMALLS: That`s right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: You`re my kind of trouble, can`t stop, won`t stop. Smalls` visit to the White House followed his testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, where he politely schooled Lindsey Graham while donning a jacket emblazoned with the words eat the rich on the front and the back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You`re singling out a single company because of your political agenda socializes country.

SMALLS: I think guys in your best interest to realize that is not a left or right thing. It`s not a Democrat or Republican thing. It`s a workers` thing. It`s a workers` issue. And we`re the ones that are suffering, and you should listen, because we do represent your constituents as well. So just take that into consideration that the people are the ones that make these corporations` goals, not the -- it`s not the other way around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Smalls also recently made his case for labor on Tucker Carlson`s show. Joining me now is the man who`s taken on Jeff Bezos, Tucker Carlson, and Lindsey Graham, president of the Amazon labor union, Christian Smalls. Christian, it is a real, real honor to talk to you. My people from Jersey. I appreciate Jersey strong coming out and fighting for workers and labor. I want to start with this. I think while people have heard what you`ve accomplished with unionizing, one particular area, and Amazon, I don`t think enough people recognize what you`ve had to go through to get there. You have been unemployed for two years. Right? You got fired two years ago?

SMALLS: Yes, I`m still unemployed as we speak.

JOHNSON: And so, I want -- I`m sorry.

SMALLS: I said until we get a contract. I`m sorry.

JOHNSON: OK. So, the other question that I have, if you`re open to sharing any part of this is, a lot of people don`t recognize them when you`re in the process of unionizing. Oftentimes, people who are organizing unions, they do get fired, they do get put out on the street, they have trouble getting other kinds of work in the area. How have you been able to support yourself over the last few years in the middle of a pandemic, while you`re fighting for the rights of people at a place that was no longer even a point?

SMALLS: Well, I was fortunate enough, when I first got fired, somebody who I never met from Virginia, his family, this lovely couple, they made a GoFundMe for me. That helped me find (INAUDIBLE). People I`ve never met before, supported me with the goal for me, originally. We formed a union, of course, the supporting members of the union that know what it takes for me to get up every day, to least make my bills. They support me, my family, my mother, my brother, my grandparents, my family, they just support me altogether. And so that`s the only way I could get through, and I`m happy to have such a supporting cast that continue to support me to this day.

JOHNSON: So, one of the things I also think is fascinating about your story is, how familiar it is to me, and how familiar it is to most Americans. You went to school, you worked hard, you`re married, you`re divorced, you got a regular job, you did everything that America says people are supposed to do.

And yet you`ve been abandoned, in large part, not just by the corporations you`re working for, but it`s been difficult for you sometimes to get political support. What was it like meeting with President Joe Biden, now after for a long time having to do all this hustle and grind on your own and not getting a lot of feedback from even local New York politicians?

SMALLS: Well, my story is a prime example of what it takes to really, you know, show what kind of system the country is being run by. You know, being unemployed, being rock bottom, in the middle of a pandemic. You know, I chose to take this journey that I took, I didn`t sit back and be complacent about my situation. I got up every day and I organized. And I continue to do that.

And being the president, you know, everybody thinks it`s just a photo op, and I`m going to be co-opted by the Democrats. It`s not true at all, you know, I, myself, realize that we`re in a different type of situation going on right now, in this country when it comes to labor. And I know that right now, the power it is with the workers, but it`s not being presented that way. We`re not being treated as such. So, until we get to that point, you know, I`m going to continue to fight for workers.

And there`s nothing or no political support that`s going to change the course of my mission to do that, you know, meeting the president is great, but I want the president to be also held accountable. You know, I didn`t go there, just to take a photo and shake hands. I went there with some demands, and I want to make sure that they are following through as well.

JOHNSON: So, you`ve had an incredible career for only you know, being in your early 30s. You worked as a car attendant, you got hit by a car, you toured with Meek Mill for a long time. What is it that you`ve seen is consistent about the struggle of American laborers whether they`re at Amazon, whether they`re opening up for, you know, a great rap act, or whether they`re parking cars, what are some of the consistent challenges that you`ve seen that you brought to the table when you were organizing?

[18:35:00]

SMALLS: Well, the challenge of the day is really getting up and, you know, defeating your mental health, you know, because you have to make sure that your mental health is up to par every day. It`s not meant for everybody, everybody wants to organize, everybody gets inspired by organizing, they want to join the fight. And then sometimes I`ve seen over the course of this short two years, now people just don`t last, you know, they can say one thing, that`d be going to another.

So, you have to -- as an organizer, and a leader, you have to make sure that you`re there every single day, you`re consistent. You`re showing by example, what it takes to sacrifice not just for yourself, but for the greater good. And if you`re not willing to sacrifice for the greater good, you will not last long in organizing. So, for me, I just know that there`s a lot of weight on my shoulders, but I have to do this because if I don`t, you know, we don`t know who`s the next person that`s going to be willing to take the risk that I`m willing to take.

JOHNSON: Christian Smalls thank you so much. Definitely, definitely want to talk to you again.

Smalls: Absolutely, anytime. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Ahead, new right-wing misinformation about vaccines amid a surge in cases, we have a fact check. But first, a historically black college lacrosse team searched for drugs without probable cause on a bus. And we have the video when we get right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:41:06]

JOHNSON: It was traumatic, humiliating, horrific. That`s what members of Delaware State University women`s lacrosse team are saying after their bus was pulled over in Georgia for a minor traffic stop, and they were searched for drugs. The historically black college, quote, is incensed by what they say is clear racial profiling from Georgia deputies.

The head coach saying six white deputies and a police dog searched the vehicle with no probable cause. And the deputy quote, quickly went to marijuana, which stereotypically is unfortunately associated with African- Americans. That`s the first thing that he went to. Deputies check the student`s bags for 20 minutes. It found nothing. What is the reason to check these students for drugs over a minor traffic stop on a bus? Here`s video taken from inside the bus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why I`m coming on the bus right now is to tell you we`re going to look through -- check y`all luggage, OK? If there is anything in y`all luggage, we`re probably going to find it. OK? I`m not looking for a little marijuana, but I`m pretty sure your guy`s chaperones is probably going to be disappointed in you if we find it. You guys are all a lacrosse team, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, if there is something in there that`s questionable, please tell me now. Because if we find it, guess what? We`re not going to be able to help you. OK? You are in the state of Georgia, marijuana is still illegal in the state of Georgia. Anything that you put marijuana in, maybe a device where you smoke it, or maybe something that you would weigh it -- like a set of scale or anything. OK? If there`s nothing, then I`m thankful, you`re going to make my job a lot easier. We`re going to get this done and have you guys on your way. You guys have any more questions for me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I explain it pretty good?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Sadly disgusting. It`s straight-up intimidation and harassment by the police. There`s no probable cause to go looking for drugs with a bus full of college kids, and they didn`t find any drugs. The Georgia sheriff says that the incident is under review, but denied any racial profiling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM N. BOWMAN, SHERIFF, LIBERTY COUNTY: Although I do not believe any racial profiling took place based on the information I currently have. I welcome feedback from our community, on ways that our law enforcement practices can be improved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Herschel Walker approves of that explanation. We are still waiting for those law enforcement practices to be improved all over the country. Nearly two years since George Floyd was murdered on tape. Two years since Black Lives Matter protests flooded the streets across the world in a pre- pandemic, pre-vaccine world demanding police reform. Public and politicians at the time were saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We need to be a country where communities of color feel confident that the police are there to safeguard their rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s going to be a genuine effort to bring reform to a problem that`s been going on well before President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can train our officers better. We can find ways and mechanisms to de-escalate the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Real talk? What have they done since? What have any of them done since? The George Floyd justice in policing act was blocked in the Senate and negotiations collapsed last fall, in large part due to Tim Scott. You see this headline and the date from last year. Nothing has happened. President Biden ran on the promise of reform but in his State of the Union. He told America that he wants to fund the police.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Now is the time for racial justice. I believe with every fiber in my being we have such an opportunity now to change people`s lives for the better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:45:00]

JOHNSON: Well, we haven`t seen real police reform there needs to be a stronger push to action. The Delaware attorney general now calling for a federal investigation into this case in Georgia. The university`s president vowing a full probe as well, but federally, nationally, more needs to be done. Joining me now is Brittany Packnett Cunningham, an activist, and host of the undistracted podcast, I can`t think of a better person to talk to about this.

Brittany, I just want -- I`m infuriated as an American, as a black person, and as a college professor who teaches at an HBCU. What was your reaction when you saw this video and you saw the story -- just what`s your first sort of visceral reaction when you see this kind of police intimidation and harassment?

BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, POLITICAL ANALYST, MSNBC: I`m infuriated as well, Jason, we have to recognize the messages that come from moments like this, that -- to black young people. No matter what you`re doing, or how correct you come. If you are seeking higher education, you are learning teamwork and discipline through a sport or an extracurricular activity that no matter how perfect you are in your black body, you still can and will be criminalized.

And as a society, we should get the message that there is no amount of compliance or respectability that a black person can inhabit, that will spare us from this kind of harassment. I also found myself worried because I know that the average person who does not understand these situations, might look at that and say, well, the police officer was plenty polite. So, there`s nothing really to be worried about here.

Instead of asking the systemic questions of why this bus was stopped in the first place. Why these players in particular? Why were those drugs, the ones that were being searched for? Why was this search happening with as you said, there was no probable cause? And why does this go on all the time? Because there are plenty of times that this is happening, and there is no video evidence to prove it.

JOHNSON: And one of the key things we talked about, that they didn`t find anything. One of the young women reported -- this was reported in a local newspaper back up in Delaware that one of the officers brought in a package and says, whose is this, she says it`s mine. He`s like, what is it and she`s like, it was a gift that my aunt gave me to not open until graduation. The police officer opened it, and then challenged her and said, how would you -- why would you take a gift that you didn`t know what was in it because it was a graduation gift.

You know, Brittany, part of what also gets me about this is the Democratic party, the Republican Party have failed consistently to do anything about police reform. This month is going to be two years since George Floyd was killed. And we`re not seeing any progress on police reform. And I`ve said very clearly consistently that I think we should abolish policing as we know it and start from scratch.

But from your perspective, what do you think the Democrats who are the only party that kind of talks about police reform? What should they be doing right now about these kinds of issues about this kind of systemic harassment, because it doesn`t look like they`ve done anything in the last few years and people are going to be frustrated when it comes time to go to the polls this fall?

CUNNINGHAM: You know, Jason, you bring up the timeline, and it really matters here. We`re almost two years removed from the murder of George Floyd. We`re almost eight years removed from the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. We are 30 years removed from the beating of Rodney King, which is where the -- a lot of us saw that happening on tape for the very first time. We are 30 years removed from that L.A. uprising. So, we`ve had the videotapes for a long time. We`ve had the police violence for as long as black people have been in America.

And in 2015, when I sat on President Obama`s 21st Century Policing Task Force, back then we were talking about issues of body cameras. Back then we were talking about issues of training and how police are held accountable. Guess what? Communities came along several years ago and said, we`re willing to give politicians and political leaders the opportunity to try these things. They`ve been tried, and they`re not working. So frankly, when Republicans and Democrats come and say, we`re finally ready to try those reforms.

It`s far too little too late. Communities are saying very, very clearly, that a fundamental transformation of the system of public safety has to happen, and nothing less. So, Democrats would be wise not only to take this on at a federal level but at a local and state level. They need to be the ones redirecting police -- bloated police budgets back into housing and clean air and clean water, education, and livable wages in their communities.

They need to be the ones in the governor`s houses and in state legislatures making sure that laws that continue to protect police from accountability are no longer passed. We need to see this action happen from Democrats at every single level. That`s not only how you`re going to excite voters, that`s also how you`re going to protect your constituents.

JOHNSON; People weren`t marching in 2020 over voting rights. They weren`t marching over abortion. They were marching because of George Floyd`s police brutality and it`s time for somebody in Washington and state levels to step up. Brittany Packnett Cunningham, thank you so much for joining me this evening.

Cunningham: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Ahead, surprising news on COVID. Plus, a fact check on one of the wildest claims on vaccines that I have ever heard. It`s coming from a sitting Republican senator. We`ll get to that. We`ll get right back.

[18:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNSON: Right-wingers say a lot of crazy things about vaccines. But here`s one I literally have not heard before. It`s from Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the least popular Republican sitting senator in America. Talking with an anti-vax commentator. Which we`re about to hear is false, but it shows what some conservatives are still pushing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve got more than 100 doctors here all of whom will tell you that these shots caused vaccine-induced aids. They purposefully gave people aids.

[18:55:00]

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Everything you say may be true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: I can`t -- I cannot. I cannot. I cannot. Nothing he said was true. But here`s why this matters. Cases of COVID are rising. They`re up 52 percent this month. COVID is not over everybody. And more deaths are among the vaccinated who now represent about 40 percent of COVID fatalities. The majority occurring among folks who got vax but not boosted. The TSA expects this will be the busiest travel summer in years. And graduation season is about to hit, with big gatherings oftentimes indoors.

Just 31 percent of Americans say they are very worried about COVID. It`s the lowest Gallup has ever recorded. That`s in part because of boosters and people feeling safer. But let`s be real. We still have folks like Ron Johnson out there spreading garbage, as Republicans actively blocked new COVID aid despite warnings like this from Dr. Fauci today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What`s going to happen when we get to September and October? It is very likely that all of us who`ve been vaccinated will have a diminution of the level of protection after a certain number of months and it is likely that they will be recommended for everyone to get a boost --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: It`s real simple, everybody. COVID is rising. COVID has not gone. Get boosted. Get your family boosted. Anything else you hear is noise, and remember, Wisconsin voters you have other options. There`s a front-runner out there named Mandela Barnes. He`s on the ballot. You don`t have to stick with Ron Johnson after this fall. We`ll be right back on THE BEAT.