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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 8/22/22

Guests: Chai Komanduri, Andrew Neiderman, Melissa Murray


Obama campaign veteran Chai Komanduri and the author of The Devil`s Advocate Andrew Neiderman join Ari Melber to talk about the villainy in politics. NYU law professor Melissa Murray joins Ari Melber to talk about Arkansas police officers caught beating and kicking the suspect in a horrific video. Trump now asking for special review of documents days after FBI seized them from Mar-a-Lago. From intelligence clash to coup, Trump testing how far lawyers would go.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: And journalistic chops to these two hours because he loves all of you as much as I do. And for that, I love and appreciate him so much.

Thanks to all of you for letting me back into your homes during these extraordinary times. We are grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi there, friend.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle, welcome back. I just have one thing to say, and shout-out to your team, and everyone love that. But as you know, August is always a slow news month.


WALLACE: It`s never a slow news month. I learned my lesson. Next year`s vacations will be in March.

MELBER: Right. Yes, somehow we got to pick the right month. But lovely to have you back.

WALLACE: Thank you, my friend. Thank you.

MELBER: Absolutely. Our thanks to Nicolle. And I want to welcome you to THE BEAT tonight. I am Ari Melber. And I`m going to tell you right off the top, we have a special show tonight, including a special report for you, brand new, on how Trump lawyers keep getting in trouble, some even indicted, often because of their client.

I say that not as shade or criticism, but as an objective legal matter. They get in trouble for the things they do for him, not unrelated legal failures, which sometimes brings up talk of the devil`s advocate. I will explain. Our breakdown on that is ahead.

Our top story right now, though, are the continuing clashes over that search of Mar-a-Lago and whether more information will come out about a path to what was an unprecedented search of an ex-president`s home in all of our history.

Well, today we`re seeing a judicial ruling about releasing more information for the first time. This would be new beyond what we learned about the warrant. So we have a written explanation of this ruling which came down where the DOJ can suggest redactions. Some more information may also be released in the process by this judge.

Now Trump has said he wants extra information released. Today the judge indirectly suggested that Trump and some other MAGA attacks on law enforcement will actually make that harder and less likely. The ruling citing how, for one example, the conservative Web site Breitbart, which used to be run by Steve Bannon, who`s awaiting his sentencing, how that Web site under its current ownership leaked a version of the original warrant with FBI agent names on it.

Most news outlets including this one strictly avoid that kind of disclosure of individuals` names unless there was a major journalistic reason. And the judge referred to the harassment and the attacks that those agents then endured as well as attacks on other law enforcement largely from right-wing Trump allies lately.

Meanwhile, the former president has struggled to settle, if you will, or pick one legal strategy in this controversial case that has been really going now for a couple of weeks and drawn a lot of attention. But someone known for PR, the former president, certainly has not had a single or strong message.

Now we here on THE BEAT recently heard from a top Trump lawyer who actually -- I should say from a top lawyer who turned down Trump, so Trump wanted him to be a Trump lawyer. He declined the assignment. But we had him here for an interview. And this is what`s newsworthy tonight. He suggested that Trump`s team had erred by failing to request more independent oversight for the search materials, suggesting how the lawyers could have requested a special master for basically one more layer of review. Here was that exchange.


JON SALE, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I would immediately have gone to court and asked for the appointment of a special master. I would not trust the government to be doing that.

MELBER: Let me just slow you down and then you can continue. But you`re making an interesting legal point, which, again, the law, as you emphasized earlier, is different from one`s political or personal feelings about the various players involved.

You are saying that given your experience in this field you think the right adept legal move would have been to try to get the court a judge to force more independence on that situation?

SALE: I think that`s what I would have done. But it`s not my original idea. It`s happened several times in the Southern District of New York, including in the Giuliani case.


MELBER: So that`s a legal concept, an option that was discussed. It is very late for this kind of move because they`ve been under review already, but here`s the news breaking late today. Donald Trump seeking an order to appoint a special master in a new filing late Monday. The move gives Trump a chance to at least look like he`s fighting for something else, something more, but I want to be clear.

Even this new filing and nothing else that we`ve seen changes what I have been reporting for you, that none of these legal moves attack the search head on as somehow illegal. Trump`s strategy has been more defense than offense, and that may be simply because his team knows he would lose any effort to try to get the search declared illegal. It was already approved by a magistrate judge as legal once. But the defensive approach is even drawing fire on FOX News.


CHRISTINA BOBB, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: We believed that judicial watch and some of the other parties actually had argued it quite well.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: And are you not concerned that because you didn`t join any of these motions for, again, the full release of this affidavit, that you`re then waving possible objections to the way redactions are being done by the Justice Department later on?


BOBB: We haven`t waived our right. That still is maintained. You know, we need to wait and see.


MELBER: We are joined now by former acting U.S. solicitor general, Neal Katyal.

Welcome back, sir. Your thoughts on where we are here and these new developments.

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, Ari, like so much that Donald Trump touches, this is going to blow up in his face. So this motion he`s filed for a special master, I mean, first of all, nobody waits two weeks after a search to request a special master. So he sat on his hands, and then he got caught up because he had all this ridiculous criticism of the government search, so he has kind of -- his hand was forced to file this thing.

The premise of his motion is that the filter team, the Justice Department team that reviewed the evidence from the search can`t be trusted, but the problem is the filter team has had this information for two weeks and have passed it on presumably at this point, so that toothpaste can`t be put back in the tube.

And here`s the most important thing, putting myself in the Justice Department shoes, you know, back when I was in the solicitor general`s office, this filing by Trump is what I`d want because up until now I haven`t been able to tell the government`s side of the story. Why did we search? What did we do? Now as a result of this filing, you`ll be able to tell much more of that story in open court because the Justice Department, unlike Donald Trump, only speaks through court filings.

And there`s one other tell about this motion, Ari. You know, Donald Trump, you know, filed this in Ft. Pierce, which is 67 miles away from Mar-a-Lago. There happens to be a federal courthouse right next to him in Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach. He didn`t file it there. He filed it 67 miles away where the judges tend to be all Trump appointees. You know, he`s shopping. It`s not going to work and it`s going to wind up hurting him.

MELBER: What did you think of the judge citing the rather serious harassment and attacks on law enforcement recently? Judges, like anyone who`s careful here, can`t just draw a direct line over who exactly caused that. That would be a more fine grain legal analysis if you got to it, but he certainly made a broader connection that that kind of thread is exactly why certain things are carefully redacted or secret.

KATYAL: Exactly. So, you know, I think these attacks on law enforcement are despicable, and, you know, I think that -- I grew up at a time when that I thought would be a bipartisan thing. And this magistrate judge today, Judge Reinhart, what he did was something that was totally predictable like I have been saying from the start on your show since the search that there`s no way that a federal judge is going to order an affidavit justifying the search to be released.

It`s an ongoing investigation. There are witnesses involved. All sorts of law enforcement techniques. Now last week this judge, you know, said, look, Justice Department, if I had to release something, tell us what I can release. Tell me what could be redacted and what could be unredacted, and some of the news outlets reported that to mean to say, oh, the judge is ordering the affidavit released.

Of course not. And what the judge did today was say, hey, that is not what I said. I said, if there is something that can be released, I want to hear about the Justice Department`s view on that. But it may be at the end of the day nothing basically can be released, and I`m going to get something that`s essentially all blacked out, and he`s alerting the public to that fact. And the Justice Department and judge`s view appears to be, you know, protection of these witnesses is the most important thing. And the judge recognizes that risk and he`s going to act with the appropriate caution.

MELBER: Yes, and this is a legal controversy, but not only legal. So I`m curious what you also think about the wider kind of public brainstorming that`s going on. Here was Republicans brainstorming defenses here for Trump. Mike Turner talking about memoirs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What use could a former president have for classified or top-secret information once he`s left office?

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Every former president has access to their documents. It`s how they write their memoirs.


MELBER: Memoirs. Your thoughts.

KATYAL: So, for someone who is, you know, so vocal, Donald Trump, it`s very telling, Donald Trump has been very quiet in providing any sort of explanation whatsoever for why he had these documents in the first place. And, you know, this is his latest defense, but first, there were no documents. That`s what he said. Then he stead the FBI planted the documents. Then he said the documents were there all long, but he declassified them pursuant to some standing order that nobody has been able to verify.


And now he`s sending out this guy to say, OK, it`s not a standing order, but these documents are personal and therefore justified. And look, when a suspect can`t keep their stories straight, it`s a good indication that their story isn`t true, and the last time I checked, Ari, the Espionage Act doesn`t have some exception permitting the use of government documents for personal memoirs. That`s just not a thing.

MELBER: Right, it`s not a thing and so it goes to sort of how much people are just kind of trying to like make it up, throw it out there. Does that one sound good or not? The big question that goes again beyond the law is why someone was so historically uninterested in the intelligence briefings when he was president was hoarding this information.

I also want to get you on something else we`re learning. A couple of things going on here. Trump ally, Republican Senator Ron Johnson was of course implicated in January 6th when the texts leaked that showed his aide up to 20 minutes before Pence was coming out were still trying to push in these electors. Pence`s aides said don`t give him that. This weekend Senator Johnson referred to all this. This relates to basically the thwarted fraudulent electors plot.

And they didn`t have Pence on board that day. Everyone knows that now. But they were still pushing it up to that day. Here`s the senator referring to how it was going on Jan. 6th and how he was only involved he says for a couple of seconds.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I had nothing to do with the ultimate slate. I had no idea that anybody was going to ask me to deliver those. My involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple of seconds. In the end, those electorates were not delivered because we found out from the vice president`s staff he didn`t want them delivered.


MELBER: A local ABC affiliate getting an interview. We`ve put those questions out, Neal. They`re important ones. What do you think of the claim and the answer there, which seems to confirm part of what he`s accused of?

KATYAL: Yes, Ari, there is no two-second insurrectionist defense in federal criminal law or in politics. I mean, you know, you`re either an insurrectionist or you`re not. I severely doubt that the record will show that, you know, that he was only doing this for two seconds and the January 6th Committee presumably has access to documents and information and witnesses. So, you know, time will tell, but, you know, this is, if anything, an admission. And really, really damaging I think to Senator Johnson.

MELBER: Yes, yes, an admission, as you say, very interesting.

Neal Katyal, thank you. Our leadoff guest here starting the week. Appreciate it.

I want to tell everyone what`s coming up. We have our shortest break, and then we turn to a special report we have been working on for you. It`s about why so many Trump lawyers seem to need lawyers, including criminal defense lawyers. That`s when we`re back in 60 seconds.



AL PACINO, ACTOR, "THE DEVIL`S ADVOCATE": Look but don`t touch. Touch but don`t taste. He`s a sadist. He`s an absentee landlord. Worship that? Never. I`m a humanist. Maybe the last humanist.


MELBER: Al Pacino playing a humanist and a lawyer. That`s the classic legal film "The Devil`s Advocate," which is now marking its 25th anniversary at a time when law seems to be a nearly constant source of fixation and debate in our politics, our national culture. Lawyers keep emerging as key characters in the clash over Trump`s failed coup and the future of our democracy.

Pacino plays a scheming lawyer using his knowledge of the rules to break them. That may echo lawyers like Giuliani and coup plotter John Eastman, both under investigation for committing crimes themselves. Then there are the other lawyers who stepped up as the people who tried to hold the line against that coup.


Some of the most vital, damning testimony about Trump`s attempts to overthrow the election and to support the insurrection came from lawyers. Government lawyers at the White House, lawyers for the vice president who tried to, they say, act as shepherds of the law in those roles, which brings us to this classic archetype.

In "The Devil`s Advocate" you have Keanu Reeves playing the everyman trial lawyer who believes it`s possible to play by the rules without losing your soul.


KEANU REEVES, ACTOR, "THE DEVIL`S ADVOCATE": I don`t like Alexander Cohen. I don`t think he`s a nice person. But this isn`t a popularity contest. It`s a murder trial.


MELBER: And in the film, that lawyer`s approach is tested when he goes and joins a fancy Manhattan law firm headed by Al Pacino`s John Milton, who turns out to be evil, and not just like a bad lawyer, but actual evil in the sense that he is the literal devil.


REEVES: He killed those people.

PACINO: You really believe that?

REEVES: You set me up. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) set me up. Melissa, the whole thing. I know it.

PACINO: Got to go with your gut.

CHARLIZE THERON, ACTRESS, "THE DEVIL`S ADVOCATE": I don`t like it here, Kevin. These women, my god, I mean, I`m seeing things, for Christ`s sake.

PACINO: Free will. It`s like butterfly wings. Once touched, they never get off the ground. No, I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.

REEVES: I don`t lose. I win. I win. I`m a lawyer, that`s my job. That`s what I do.

PACINO: Who in their right mind, Kevin, could possibly deny the 20th century was entirely mine? All of it, Kevin. All of it. Mine. I`m peaking, Kevin.


MELBER: Peaking. Now the story is riveting partly because the devil is a fascinating villain. That brazen rule breaking is the whole point. And there`s a timeless appeal there on display also in our politics lately. Obama campaign veteran and BEAT guest Chai Komanduri draws a clear line to Trump here, arguing that Pacino`s devil and Trump both command attention because their flagrant over-the-top villainy is exciting and there`s a joy in transgressive behavior. You`re having a great time while doing something you shouldn`t. He notes that the mischief is then performed for all with even a sly smirk.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We achieved more than anyone thought possible. Nobody thought we could even come close.

PACINO: I`m a surprise, Kevin. They don`t see me coming.

TRUMP: Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election.


PACINO: It`s my time now.

TRUMP: Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one.

PACINO: Vanity is definitely my favorite sin.


MELBER: It goes beyond performance. There is actually something pretty modern about imagining the devil or the forces of evil that we would have to confront as a society or democracy in the form of the litigator or the technocrat. Skilled lawyers can often deceive people without lying and shape perception while staying within technical lines.

Now in preparing this segment, we -- as you saw we talked to Chai Komanduri. He sees a parallel here, too. He says Pacino`s Milton and Trump both relish showing off their skill. They break things legally for the most part. And he`s right. Even if you might think, gosh, hasn`t Trump crossed the line? He is currently under investigation for breaking things illegally. And his time may come.

But in many, many cases from Mueller`s mixed bag and obstruction, to financial shenanigans, Donald Trump does two things that have helped his survival. One, he typically tests everything and goes over the line bit by bit, which means keeping track of knowing where the line is, and that means he`s thinking ahead to complicate any potential case against him. He did back down from illegal plots like the military coup, as we reported.

He demanded the DOJ interfere with vote counting but then backed down on that as well. He has testified and folded when it was clear that basically he was going to face too much blowback. So he pushed way past where you`re supposed to, but still backed off when he saw a criminal case over the horizon.

I said two things. And here`s the second, and it brings us back to "The Devil`s Advocate." Trump always, always deploys other people for the dirty work.


He avoids leaving fingerprints like he avoids e-mail. In just these past few years we`ve seen two employees convicted and sentenced to prison for what they did for him. Right now two other lawyers are facing a possible indictment for the failed coup. Again, an activity for Donald Trump.

Now it`s striking, and I got to tell you, somewhat embarrassing for those lawyers, but many of Trump`s lawyers are habitually in trouble not because they`re bad litigators in the sense of being incompetent or making mistakes but because they get caught crossing lines for Trump. Like who you see on your screen, coup plotter John Eastman searched by agents. It`s the first time that`s ever happened in his career after he started working for Trump.

These are Trump`s lawyers, his counsels, his advocates, which brings us back to this "Devil`s Advocate," the profession of law faces these moral questions basically every day. How do you defend a guilty client? How do you draw a line between past conduct and future misconduct? How do you differentiate with ethics if you can keep them, between zealous advocacy, which people are actually legally entitled to, and committing new crimes for a client, which neither they are entitled to, nor is any lawyer allowed to do. That can get you indicted and then you need a lawyer of your own.

Komanduri also notes this theme is important in the film and today`s democracy clashes. He says mounting a strong defense for criminals is part of a fair civilization. But the legal profession contains the seeds of civilization`s potential downfall. We see this in the defenses of Trump`s behavior, both legal and political. He never seems to run out of devil`s advocates.

Now in fiction, those advocates include an actual devil. This film is based on a book by Andrew Neiderman who says he decided to make the devil a top lawyer because in the modern world that where he thought the devil would operate most comfortably. Taking either side. Maneuvering.

Now Neiderman is an author who politics closely and he sees parallels to Trump. In researching this report for you tonight, he actually told us in the film there`s this character of a rich New Yorker who basically gets away with murder by hiring the right attorneys. In the movie, they shot that character`s home as the top four floors of 725 Fifth Avenue, which is Donald Trump`s actual real gilded home you see here at Trump Tower.

Now, that may sound like one more kind of surreal cultural overlap, but it`s actually more than a coincidence about a movie. If you think about it, it also reflects the truth. The real Trump pre-politics was notoriously eager to cameo in just about any movie that he could get into. Even with bit parts that made fun of him or even touting a building he owned when he couldn`t get himself on camera.

Neiderman explored that very theme as the downfall for some in his work. It is the theme of vanity, which some may also call a sin and can lead people who have it all to take seemingly wild risks and make seemingly inexplicable mistakes, which is how "The Devil`s Advocate" ends its story, with the devil seizing on his favorite sin.


REEVES: I`m terribly sorry, but I can no longer represent my client.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a story that needs to be told. It`s you. You`re a star.


REEVES: Call me in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it. First thing.

THERON: Bye, Larry.

PACINO: Vanity. Definitely my favorite sin.


MELBER: Vanity. You can use the word sin or shortcoming or moral failing. Whatever you think it is that drives people to make this type of mistakes, it is also the thing that we have seen tempt so many people past the path they initially chose in politics or public service into something much more terrible that we all have to live through, and that`s why when we talk about the law and rules and morality and ethics, we`re not just talking about boundaries as they are written down and handed down.

We`re talking about whether we as a society can hold together with what we believe to be good and the best for all over evil and the triumph of oppression by a very, very small few.


The stakes really are that big when you talk about democracy, and I`m thrilled to tell you we put this piece together because we have the author of the original book "The Devil`s Advocate" here with us live tonight, Andrew Neiderman, along with Chai Komanduri, our in-house film buff, when we come back.




REEVES: Why lawyers? Why the law?

PACINO: Because the law my boy puts us into everything. It`s the ultimate backstage pass. It`s the new priesthood, baby. Did you know there are more students in law school than there are lawyers walking the earth? We`re coming out.


MELBER: There it is. And we are joined now by a friend of THE BEAT, Chai Komanduri, Obama campaign veteran, and the aforementioned Andrew Neiderman, author of The Devil`s Advocate. The book inspired the film, he`s also has the new prequel title Judgment Day out now.

Welcome to both of you, Andrew, this piece is about one of my favorite legal movies and it came about because you reached out mentioning some of the parallels to today`s life and politics. Your thoughts?

ANDREW NEIDERMAN, AUTHOR: Well, I think you did a fantastic job of analyzing the book and the movie. One of the things though, that I think goes deeper, and my students I suppose in high school going to think I`m putting them back in the classroom. But, you know, an author doesn`t realize what is impact will be on his viewership or readership when he finishes a book.

It takes quite a while to realize that, in my case, when I went to the film premiere of the Devil`s Advocate, Helen Mirren, the actress who was married to Taylor Hackford the director, pulled me aside and said, what you`ve written is a morality play. And what she was talking about is a theatrical reality play, in which the characters are personifications of absolute things.

So, Milton is a personification of evil and Kevin is a personification of every man who in his quest for success, and for wealth. And what I realized over time, was that what Milton was trying to do with his lawyers, and what we`re seeing happening in America today, is that good and evil, the standard of behavior that we use, has changed. It`s now winning and losing. Winning has become the new good and losing has become the new evil.

So, if you accept that, if you live that life, if you think that winning is it, that all the sisters and brothers come along with it, like hypocrisy, denying the facts, refusing to believe things that you see in front of you, distorting, lying, which, you know, Trump has been quoted as lying 30,000 times. But I think that is the new standard that we`re fighting against right now. Because if we accept that, if winning and losing is the new good and evil, then everything else is OK.

It`s OK to be a hypocrite, it`s OK to lie. It`s OK to look at a fact and say, it`s not there. Because what I want the most is to win. And the best examples of that are the two Supreme Court justices who lied to Congress, so they wouldn`t overthrow of a rule, Roe versus Wade, and as soon as they could, did it. But it`s OK, nobody seems to be, you know, asking for them to be removed from the Supreme Court. They lie to win, and they get they want.

MELBER: Right, and you lay it out there and the overlap. And Chai, you know, it`s funny to say this on the news, but the devil`s power comes not from what he or she or the devil it does, but from what the devil gets others to do.

And so, you -- you drew that parallel to these lawyers who are in so much trouble, some of whom I should mention, whatever their politics may be, some of them have had a loss to his multi-decade careers. And the first time they look at a disbarment or a crime is after they go to work for this man, Donald Trump. Chai?

NEIDERMAN: Yes, and I think --

MELBER: Sorry, that was to Chai. Andrew, I`m going to Chai and then bring you back.


CHAI KOMANDURI, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Yes, I think what the Devil`s Advocate does, which is I think, so brilliant is it really examines the psychology of selling out, like, why do people sell out? And one of the biggest things about the Trump era is why have so many members of the GOP gone along with Trump. I mean, we just saw it this last week, when virtually the entire GOP denounced Liz Cheney, you know, McCarthy, Dan Crenshaw, for making arguments that we all know that they agree with.

I mean, Kevin McCarthy basically said what Liz Cheney was saying himself after January 6th. And I think what the book gets at, and the movie gets at is vanity. Vanity is really the key as to why somebody chooses to sell out. It`s not just money. I mean I think that money is nice, but it`s vanished, it`s perceived. I mean, you hear the Keanu Reeves character in the movie Kevin Lomax say, I win, I`m a lawyer.


He talks constantly about his streak of winning every case, that`s more important to him than any ethical consideration. That`s more important to him than his wife Charlize Theron. What matters is his vanity, his desire to win. And I think that`s exactly what you see with the Republicans and why they`re falling Trump. At least the Republican leadership.

MELBER: Andrew?

NEIDERMAN: Yes, that was my point. You know, what I was trying to say that winning and losing have become the new good and evil. And I think -- I saw that, ironically, not right away when I wrote the book. You know, it took a while to realize what I wrote. And it was fun to find more themes that apply to today`s world than they did 25 years ago.

I think the books more alive today than it was then, because of the way things have changed in our politics, and our social life. And, I mean, I -- I`m honored by the fact that people recognize that, and that was so well done in the movie. I remember when I first got on the set with Pacino, he and I talked about the creation of the devil, and how some people -- I mean, have some organizations deliberately wanted the devil to exist.

So, it has something for you to be -- for them to be against and make you do what they wanted to do. And ironically -- ironically, so much, but the - - the history of the Devil`s Advocate goes all the way back to 1587 when Pope Sixtus V he appointed somebody to argue for the devil. I don`t know if anybody remembers that or knows that. So, when somebody was nominated to be a saint, they had to be a devil`s representative there to tell all about the bad things in this --

MELBER: Right. Which goes to -- I`m just going to jump in Andrew to say -- I`m going to in to say, that goes to some of what people feel today, which is, must everything be defended up to the end? What is the line? And you see that when, like I mentioned, lawyers are allowed to defend past crimes, but they`re not allowed to commit new ones.

I`m running short on time, Andrew, the last thing I`m going to ask you is, what did you think of the decision to have such a sort of a sober, mellow, understated devil in the performance by Al Pacino?

NEIDERMAN: I thought it was great, because, you know, sometimes he`s charming. And if we go back to Hamlet, you know, we have him saying that the dull has the power to be persuasive and charming. And I think I`ll capture that. You don`t want a devil who`s -- who isn`t the devil, you know, it looks like the devil. Because he doesn`t get close to you. Evil guys --

MELBER: I was half joking because he was -- Andrew, I was half joking because he was so over the top.

NEIDERMAN: Well, I don`t know. I`ve watched him do that seeing the office like 14, 15 times, and every time I went said to Taylor, that was fantastic. He`d say, wait, he wants to do it again. He did because he wasn`t at this spot on the line. It was fun. It was fun.

MELBER: Yes, no, I appreciate it. As mentioned, you and Chai both have a lot of interest in both film and politics. Some of this really does hold up at this moment. So, Andrew`s debut on THE BEAT I hope you`ll come back. Chai always good to see you, sir.

KOMANDURI: Good to see you.

NEIDERMAN: Thank you so much.

MELBER: Appreciate it from both of you. We`re going to fit in a break. We have a lot more coming up including a story about justice and police accountability. Stay with us.



MELBER: The Justice Department is now conducting an active investigation of a story that has really captivated the nation. Three officers who were beating a suspect brutally, but they were caught on camera. Yes, it is a familiar dynamic for these stories. That tape has really gone viral in the last day or so over a million views online.

What you will see is graphic but it`s also what apparently this department didn`t want anyone to see. Three officers are seen hitting and kicking a suspect who`s already on the ground. The video recorded outside a convenience store on Sunday morning in Arkansas. At one point an officer punches a suspect in the head, knees them in the head, and slams the head then into the pavement. Here`s the county sheriff speaking today.


JIMMY DAMANTE, SHERIFF, CRAWFORD COUNTY ARKANSAS: The incident being investigated is a criminal act and has been referred to the offshore state police and we condemn all violence against any civilian or any detained person being detained by the sheriff`s office.


MELBER: Police say the suspect has been identified as Randall Worcester was hospitalized over injuries and was jailed. Authorities say they received reports that he had issued a threat at a local convenience store. The charges include resisting arrest, although you saw the nature of this arrest, refusing to submit, and making threats. The officers have been identified. They`ve now been suspended with pay as the probe goes forward.

We do not know what happened before the video. Multiple investigations could of course shed more light on that in addition to the DOJ. There`s a state and federal probe. Some of the law enforcement issues facing the nation here a year after that one reform to do a type of police accountability fell apart when Republicans would not join the effort.

NYU law professor Melissa Murray is here. Professor these stories are all too common. People have an understandable desire to either look away or feel exhausted. And yet, police accountability that the system, the process only works if these are dealt with. What do you make of what is visible in a selective video, and why this may matter?


MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NYU: I think one of the things that this video shows us is that we likely would not have known about this incident where it not for the bystander happening to be there to capture this on tape. And then there`s the really sort of jarring interaction between one of the officers when he notices that he is being filmed and he points at the person holding the camera.

I mean, one of the things that this makes very clear is that the whole prevalence and proliferation of social media has really elevated this. We would not have seen this, we would not have heard about this, but for the fact of individuals carrying cameras in their pockets and being able to upload this to platforms like Facebook and Twitter so that it can be seen.

And so, to the extent there will be accountability, it`s because there has been a democratization of media to a certain extent by allowing individuals to be able to do this.

MELBER: Yes, you make a great point. And at times people can feel helpless, certainly helpless to stop the people with guns doing the act and question. And yet, the video we have showed is a version that was distribute on TikTok, as you say. There`s the fact that people even -- people who aren`t overwhelmingly wealthy have phone camera technology, which wasn`t true decades ago.

And then people even without a large following, things go, quote -- and we say, quote, go viral, it`s partly that it may have gone and started spreading so fast in TikTok that the traditional media is trying to catch up. Here`s the Republican governor criticizing the conduct.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): First of all, that is reprehensible conduct, in which a suspect is beat in that fashion. That response was not consistent with the training that they receive.


MELBER: Is the sort of government pattern even with dealing with some of this starting to change? That kind of immediate, factual discussion of mistakes by police, or worse? We`ll see what the legal system says, was not the norm from Republican officials recently.

MURRAY: I think that`s right. And this was unusual statement, and that Governor Hutchinson immediately acknowledged that this was, at least in the terms of the video that we saw an excessive amount of force to be used to detain a single detainee. But really, the proof is in the pudding. And we know we`ve talked about this when we talked about the Derek Chauvin verdict a couple of years ago.

The real case there wasn`t about Derek Chauvin, who was discussed as kind of a rogue cop. The really important case for criminal justice reform would have been the bystander cops that were just watching and what they did, and like what kind of training was required of them, and, you know, lots of training, lots of money of import into police departments to try and change the culture.

And this suggests that maybe these efforts haven`t been as successful as we would have liked. Or maybe this is just three-roque cups. Who knows? But it is worth begging the question, but at least today, we saw a very forceful response from the top law enforcement officer in the state of Arkansas.

MELBER: And what kind of actual reform to law or policy would make this kind of abuse less likely, in your view?

MURRAY: I think this is a very difficult question. We`ve seen lots of funds poured into training, de-escalation. This was not an episode where the police were de-escalating. You know, I think one of the questions we have here even after this is what happens if these individuals are held accountable? When does qualified immunity kick in?

That of course is a Supreme Court created doctrine that essentially shields officers from being held accountable for the use of force in the conduct of their duties if they haven`t actually committed an actual constitutional violation. These all are things that need to be dealt with and we saw congressional responses to qualified immunities bail for lack of bipartisan support.

We`ve seen the Supreme Court pass on cases like this, possibly because they thought this would be dealt with in Congress. But there`s a big web here of just inaction at every front and it continues to foment a culture where this kind of thing can happen until the next bystander comes along and films it and we once again are thrown into this vicious cycle.

MELBER: Understood and well-put. Professional Melissa Murray, thank you, and we will be right back.



MELBER: The news has been busy lately and when we are not just completely consumed by it, we also like to dig into lighter fun topics and connect with all of you when we can. A BEAT viewer recently stopped me while she was doing her job in Brooklyn on a Friday and here`s a little of what happened.


MELBER: We`re in Brooklyn --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we`re in Brooklyn.

MELBER: And if it`s Friday, you know it`s --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time to fall back.


MELBER: Deliver the letter, the sooner the better, as the song goes. So, shout out to all the postal workers. And I got to tell you it`s the kind of moment you might just never see unless you join me on TikTok, where we have news on the go. Plus, those fun items beyond the news you see here, you can go on TikTok, and follow me @AriMelber.


And the best way to connect with me directly is that In fact, you can talk to me there, you can subscribe to my writing, you could write to me directly at And as some of you already know, I right back. So, type the website in if you want to connect, and as always, thanks for spending time with us.

We mentioned earlier in the program that social media sometimes circulates new stories and puts pressure on governments. It`s not a good or bad thing. It is just a big kind of active thing, and we try to tap into it in ways when we can. Thanks for spending time with us here on THE BEAT. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.




REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You have a former president who is literally willing to pull the whole house down around him if he feels threatened.