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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, September 23, 2020

Guests: Kimberle Crenshaw, Irwin Redlener, Eugene Robinson, Michael Steele, Dan Alexander


A grand jury didn't charge any officers with killing Ms. Taylor in her apartment, prompting protests nationwide. A former detective was indicted on three counts of "wanton endangerment." Two police officers were shot in downtown Louisville amid protests over the death of Breonna Taylor. President Donald Trump intensifies push for SCOTUS nominee to be confirmed before Election Day. Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's election.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again, I'm Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams who has the night off.

Day 1,343 of the Trump administration, 41 days until the Presidential Election, just six days now until the first presidential debate.

Tonight, we have protests in Louisville and around the country after a grand jury declined to bring charges directly linked to the fatal police shooting of 26 year old Breonna Taylor.

A curfew has been in effect since 9 p.m. there. The Louisville Police Department says two officers were shot just before that curfew began. The officers have been hospitalized. One suspect is in custody. The city's police chief says the injuries to the officers are not life threatening. One is in surgery.

Marches and demonstrations have also erupted in Philadelphia, in New York, in Los Angeles and in Washington D.C. Police shot and killed 26 year old Breonna Taylor during a raid on her apartment in March.

Officers executing a warrant broke down her door seeking evidence in a narcotics investigation. She was in her apartment with her boyfriend who said he thought it was a home invasion. He fired once at the front door injuring an officer and police fired back striking Taylor at least five times.

Grand Jury did indict just one former officer Brett Hankison on charges of endangering neighbors with his reckless gunfire. The other two officers involved in Taylor shooting faced no charges.


DANIEL CAMERON, KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL: According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor's death.


VELSHI: Today, Breonna Taylor's mother spoke with our colleague Gabe Gutierrez about the grand jury's decision.


GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How important are charges for these officers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very important. It's the most important part of this. And I like there was a crime committed and they should have to pay for it.


VELSHI: The latest development comes as we are just six weeks out from Election Day placing issues of racial justice and policing on the ballot alongside the pandemic and the Supreme Court confirmation fight.

Tonight, when Trump was asked to respond to the grand jury's decision in the Taylor shooting, he too praise Kentucky's Attorney General.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Daniel Cameron is doing a fantastic job. I think he's a star. And he made a statement that I'll just read, justice not -- a justice is not often easy. If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice, mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. I mean, I heard that, I said write that down for me, please, because I think it was a terrific statement. He's handling it very well.


VELSHI: And Joe Biden had this reaction to the decision.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My heart goes out to her mother. Do not sully her memory or her mother's by engaging in any violence. It's totally inappropriate for that to happen. And she wouldn't want it, nor would her mother, so I hope they do that calmly.


VELSHI: In a statement issued later tonight, Biden added the Taylor's death called for reforms in policing. The President has been largely focused on his efforts to appoint a Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Once again, he teased the reveal of his choice in true reality show fashion.


TRUMP: We are going to be having a very exciting Saturday at five o'clock in the Rose Garden, where I'll be putting forth my nominee for Supreme Court justice. It's time for a woman to be chosen with everything that's happened and with Justice Ginsburg's passing. We are going to go sometime tomorrow morning, as I understand it, to pay our respects. The person I'll be putting up is highly qualified, totally brilliant. Top of the line academic student, you'll see on Saturday who that is. I can't imagine why a Democrat wouldn't vote for this person.


VELSHI: Earlier today, Trump gave another reason for his push to appoint someone before Election Day.


TRUMP: But I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it's very important that we have nine justices. This scam that the Democrats are polling, it's a scam. The scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a four-four situation is not a good situation.


VELSHI: Now keep in mind that when Trump refers to a scam, he's referring to or he's discrediting mail-in ballots, which he falsely claims will lead to fraud. And we're going to have more on that in a moment.

The woman who has been reported to be at the top of Trump's nominee list is federal judge Amy Coney Barrett. Tonight, Biden was asked for his opinion of her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think Amy Coney Barrett, who seems to be a leading Supreme Court contender? Amy Coney Barrett?

BIDEN: I don't know her. I just know what's reported in the press. A lot of stake and disappointment and the way that they are violating the essence of what the founders thought that the voters should have a chance to make -- to have a say. The election has already begun. This is an abuse of power.


VELSHI: A moment ago, we told you we'd have more on Trump's campaign against mail-in ballots. It took on a new and much more alarming note today when he said something that no modern American president has ever said before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?

TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to see what happens, you know, that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand that but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there's a peaceful transferal of power?

TRUMP: We want to have -- get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very trans -- we'll have a very peaceful, there won't be a transfer. Frankly, there'll be a continuation. The ballots are at a control, you know it. And, you know, who knows it better than anybody else, the Democrats know it better than everybody else.


VELSHI: Get rid of the ballots. We'll have more on all of that in a moment. But first, I want to go to Louisville, Kentucky.

Cal Perry, standing by with the very latest from there. Cal, what's the situation? I just want to remind our viewers, you have been in Louisville for a long time throughout this whole thing starting from right after Breonna Taylor was killed. It looks relatively quiet tonight?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we've moved back from where the square was. It was quieter. I think that a lot of people expected was a smaller crowd. There were some clashes early on 7-7:30 into 8 p.m. The turning point was as you said around 8:30 when word spread that two police officers about a mile from here had been shot. Updating their conditions both in stable, one did go to surgery, as you said. We expect some kind of a press conference tomorrow. Those are all the details we have. We don't know if it was involved with the protest. We don't know who the shooter was. Though, police say one person was in custody.

Now preceding that, you had a city I think that was emotionally exhausted for 195 days. People have been protesting for Breonna Taylor, say her name has been the chants, Breonna Taylor.

None of those officers, those three officers were actually charged in the shooting of Breonna Taylor. So when you talk to people here, they will tell you they do not feel like justice was served for Breonna. They feel like the law has been written against black people, especially in this state, especially in this city. It is hard to imagine when you talk to people here in the year 2020 that those police officers were not wearing body cameras that the incident report that was released months later did not have any injuries to Breonna Taylor.

The civil suit that was agreed upon between the city and the family had police reforms in it. We now have to have a supervisor overseeing any warrants on any raids like the one that happened at Breonna Taylor's house. You now have to have body cameras activated before police even go to the scene. So again now we have a situation where in a civil suit, you had more police reform than you did in the actual criminal proceedings, Ali.

VELSHI: Cal, what's the situation tonight? They blocked off parts of the downtown area in Louisville, are people gathered or have they gone home as a result of a curfew being in place?

PERRY: Most people have gone home. I would say there are still three or four dozen people. They're making their way sort of around the neighborhoods. Police are pushing them, we move back behind these two dump trucks because those four police cars came up at a high speed and told us that now is the time where everybody goes to jail.

Police were trying to enforce the curfew at 9 p.m. People did not disperse. At 10 p.m. there was another warning. And as you know very well, Ali, you've been out in these situations a lot. They slowly escalate that for us. And it seemed like 11 p.m. was the cutoff time. And as I said please looked us right in the eyes and said everybody's going to jail right now, get out of here. That's why we moved back to our position where we are now.

VELSHI: All right, Cal, stay safe out there. Cal Perry for us in Louisville, Kentucky.

Here for our leadoff discussion on a Wednesday night, Phil Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post and co-author of the best selling book, A Very Stable Genius. Along with us, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, a veteran activist on matters of race and social justice and a former member of President Obama's 21st Century Policing Task Force and Kimberle Crenshaw, the Executive Director of the African American policy forum, host of the podcast, Intersectionality Matters. She turned -- coined the term intersectionality and a professor at both Columbia Law School and the UCLA School of Law. Thank you to the three of you for joining us last (ph) night.

Kimberle, I want to talk to you about this because you have been at the forefront of keeping Breonna Taylor's name in the public, reminding people about her because you have made the case in written that African American women who get killed, and particularly African American women who get killed at the hands of police get forgotten in a way that most people wouldn't understand.

KIMBERLE CRENSHAW, AFRICAN AMERICAN POLICY FORUM: Yes, and I have to say -- first of all, this is heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking for the family. It's heartbreaking for so many people who've been protesting for so many days, and it's just a disaster, you know, for our nation as well. I mean, many of us hope that this would be the exceptional case, this would be the one that would break the pattern, that would break the mold that would show that when we say Black Lives Matter would be just aspirational, it would be real. When we say, say her name that her name would be mentioned in the charging document.

And everything about this announcement today just undermines all of the hopes and aspirations that people had about this case. You have three police officers who probably shouldn't have been on the force anyway, given the fact that all three of them have been a sighted and punished for a behavior that fell outside of the ethics of being a police officer to for excessive force, yet they are still given the ability to exercise judgment poorly as we know, to go about serving a warrant in a way that left, Breonna dying.

Everything we know about how they treated her from one officer firing 16 shots, I just want people to hold up their hand and fire off, you know, 16 shots, that takes a that takes a while, while everyone else is doing the same thing, not giving her any emergency assistance, not saying that anyone had been harmed in this matter. And then to top it off, the coup de grace is this moment where her name isn't even mentioned in the charging document of the one officer who's been charged.

So this is a slap in the face. It's a huge disappointment. And it's also a recognition that this is systemic. This is institutional. And we have a president right now, who doesn't even want to let activist, anti racist activists, critical race theorists, Black Lives Matter people, even talk about it. So they're taking away justice, and he wants to take away our ability to even talk about it.

VELSHI: Brittany, as Kimberle said, there was one officer charged. He wasn't charged -- no one was charged with the shooting of Breonna Taylor, somebody was charged with reckless endangerment of neighbors for the way in which he was firing. So there is nobody who is being held responsible for the death of an innocent woman that night?

BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I want to be really clear about what America was told about black lives with this decision today. And what black America was told, once again. We were told that a young black woman's life was of less value than the drywall she slept next to that blackness is seen as a threat even when we are at rest. And that a system that was built on our backs was one that even in moments of fleeting hope that ultimately is one that we could never ever trust.

And we get told this 99% of the times that the police kill someone that is not hyperbole that is literal, less than 1% of officers who kill a black person are ever convicted of that crime. So you cannot fault people for deciding that a system that continues to disrespect our dignity can't be reformed, and has to actually be defunded, divested from and moved out of the way so that we can have true peace and justice in our communities, and people who are invested in, in the ways that we all deserve. The social contract actually requires that we give an institution authority only when they give us safety and protection in return. That exchange has not been happening for black people in this country for the entire time we have been here. This is 400 years of fed up.

We've gotten little protection but we have gotten a lot of violence at the hands of the people who are supposed to serve and protect us. And after this long and protracted battle over 190 days, millions of phone calls, emails, dozens of protests all over the entire world pushes by activists and organizers and politicians and her family after all of that one officer, not all three but one officer got charged not for her murder but let's be clear for the bullets that didn't even hit her. That is what we were just told about the value of black life in this country. That can't be reformed that has to be transformed.

VELSHI: Phil Rucker, the President has not comment on this except to send out a tweet where he talked about the Attorney General of Kentucky who's a -- Cameron, Attorney General Cameron, who's a protege of Mitch McConnell. He spoke about him and then he tweeted this out. He said praying for the two police officers that were shot tonight in Louisville, Kentucky. The federal government stands behind you and is ready to help. Spoke to Governor Andy Beshear and we are prepared to work together, immediately upon request.

Now we have news on the two police officers. They are not suffering from life threatening injuries. One is -- was in surgery when the police talked about in about an hour ago. But they -- thankfully will make it out alive. But the President has not commented otherwise on Breonna Taylor. He's talked about protests and lawn order.

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, and that is itself a statement from the President, the fact that this is a major national news event and something that has millions, 10s of millions of Americans across the country, feeling despair, crying out about the apparent injustice, and the President has nothing to say about it. That of course is by design. This is a president who wants to align with law enforcement community. He's been taking this strategy for several months now. And I assume we're going to see that continue. And I would expect -- fully expect that the President in the White House are going to try to play up what happened to those two officers in Louisville because it fits the narrative that they have been trying to present to the American people in the run up to the election, that these black lives matter protests are somehow unruly and unsafe and endangering the livelihoods of law enforcement.

That said, a point that we hear again and again from the White House, even though they're sort of overlooking that many of these black lives matter protests are in fact useful. But nonetheless, I expect that's what we're going to hear from the President.

VELSHI: Kimberle Crenshaw, with such a short time now, between now and the election, and so many of these issues surrounding black lives and social injustice, not seeming to be resolved and certainly not going to be resolved under this president. Does this motivate people who otherwise were not yet motivated to vote? How do you transfer this energy into democratic energy?

CRENSHAW: Yeah, well, the big question is, how do you translate it, as you said, into democratic energy, we know that it's going to be translated into Trump energy very much, because the association with the violence is to paint Black Lives Matter, as the violent ones.

And, you know, police officers were shot and a few were actually killed in, in the recent protests, when it turned out that those who actually were responsible for that violence, we're not Black Lives Matter protesters, but Boogaloo protest or Boogaloo associated people, those who see this as an opportunity to enhance and bring about the race war, they silently, you know, sort of moved away from that. So we should keep our eye very much on this. And I think we should be also concerned when, you know, the lecture about being a non-violent does not include the fact that those who have been violent or those who use this as an opportunity, we always have to say that.

But I'd say the bigger, you know, problem and challenge is this, some people have seen these kind of moments, as vote suppression as encouraging people, you know, to just give up because, you know, the system doesn't work. All of this energy was put into the system. And so many people walk away from it thinking, what's the point? And then on top of that, you have, you know, the law and order president who basically says he's not going to respect the order of the democratic process. How do you, you know, respond to that. And so that's really what I think the challenge Democrats are really facing right now.

VELSHI: And Brittany, tonight, there is some energy out there in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles, in Atlanta, in New York, obviously, in Louisville, although they've got a curfew there. So as Cal said, people have got home. But across the Chicago people do take this and say I want to convey my political expression about this. How does that get transformed? How does that get translated because as Kimberle said, when these results continue come out, these are the streets of Chicago right now. When these results come out, it discourages more than it encourages sometimes.

CUNNINGHAM: It absolutely can. But I am of the full belief that when we look at Breonna Taylor's life, when we look at her contribution as an EMT, and a first responder, when we look at her courage in the middle of this pandemic, to support and save her community, when we are fueled by the courage of Breonna's convictions, then we can carry that forward into the work that we have to do.

So yes, we are experiencing deep sadness and even despair. But we are not broken by this, we are ever more committed, because that is what Breonna Taylor and her family and all of the Breonna Taylor's out there deserve. And we translate this energy by the power of the people.

A lot of times we like to have conversations and perpetuate a narrative about organizers and protesters as if we are not incredibly disciplined. When we look at the electoral justice project that is a part of the movement for black lives, when we look at organizations like Action St. Louis and Byp100, when we look at the number of organizers who also are canvassing, who are also registering voters, who are also giving people rides to the polls, who are also engaging in voter education, especially during a pandemic, when we look at the work of folks like black voters matter and so many more, we should be encouraged and we should know that there is nothing that that people cannot accomplish.

We've seen progressive victories NDAs races and mares races, and more all over the country that were fueled by the very activists and protesters that we say don't understand policy, but we do and we will continue to show up using every single lever we have at our disposal to achieve the kind of justice that we deserve in our communities.

VELSHI: Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Kimberle Crenshaw, Phil Rucker, thank you for the three of you joining us. We're going to keep an eye on those protests that will continue to put up on this stream as they happen across the country. You are looking at New York City there, protest underway as we speak.

Up next, what Trump had to say after the FDA chief vowed to consider stricter approval guidelines on coronavirus vaccine?

And later, a broader look at the racial politics in the Trump era. THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Wednesday night.


VELSHI: FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn was on Capitol Hill today insisting science is the only factor to consider when developing a vaccine.

The New York Times has reported that the FDA intends to release stricter guidelines for an emergency vaccine authorization. The President was asked about that this evening.


TRUMP: We're looking at that. That has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it. That sounds like a political move. We want to have people not get sick. The vaccine is very important. It's the final step. I believe it's going to be the final step. And no, we're looking at that. But I think it's -- I think that was a political move more than anything else.


VELSHI: So the idea of strengthening the requirements for a vaccine is a political move that the president says has to be approved by the White House.

With us tonight, as you just saw, Dr. Irwin Redlener. He's a pediatric physician, and a senior research scholar at Columbia University's Earth Institute. Importantly, he's the founding director of Columbia's National Center for Disaster Preparedness with an expertise in pandemics.

Irwin, I think the President had that one backward?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: He certainly did it, Ali. It's extraordinary. You have to keep shaking your head, hearing what he has to say. But the fact of the matter is, that the only thing political about this is the White House's attempt, once again, to interfere with the science, the evidence and the experts, who are still populating some of the key health agencies like the FDA and the CDC, and so on.

But he seems to be held that are just completely destroying any shred of credibility among the FDA and the CDC and those other agencies. And that's going to really be a horrible thing for the American public when we can't trust what's coming from those very vaunted agencies. We need them to be speaking truth and speaking on the basis of science, Ali.

VELSHI: And we do know that there are vaccines in trials. We've heard Johnson and Johnson, which is a one dose vaccine is now entering stage three trials. So on one hand, people have a right to be excited about the prospect of a vaccine, whether it's before the end of the year, or in spring, or by summer, next year when it's fully developed. But this trust you talk about is important because never in my entire life have I been -- have I thought of distrusting the FDA or the CDC, both of which have made mistakes, but they don't seem to be prone to politicization. That's all changed now. So when this vaccine comes out, I'm going to have to call people like you and say, is it safe to take?

REDLENER: Yeah, please do. And, you know, we're not going to be able to tell exactly because there's been so much undue influence. Can't imagine the President United States and his minions in the White House, calling up and refuting decisions made by the CDC or the FDA is just unconscionable and unheard of, Ali. And we're all going to be in a quandary knowing how much of it is science and how much of it is politics. And don't forget, we're now in the run up to a horrendously important election and just a few weeks now, and we don't know what the President's narratives but it'd be in terms of his reelection campaign messages.

So we're left be funneled and scratching our heads trying to figure out what's actually going on. But please do call me on when the time comes.

VELSHI: Yeah. What we do know is that until recently, the President was saying that there might be some sort of vaccine before the election. That would be very surprising to all of us. What is your -- taking the politics out of it, what's your evaluation about where we are in the search for a vaccine and the trials that are underway?

REDLENER: Right, so some of the bigger trials, for example, that Johnson and Johnson vaccine you just mentioned, is just now getting underway in terms of a phase three or large scale human trial. It's going to be many months before we know what's going on. In fact, many of the people that are in -- that are volunteering for those trials are not really the high risk categories. They are not children. So it's going to be a long time. I would be shocked if we had a safe and effective vaccine available for the general public before the end of 2021, Ali.

VELSHI: Well, all right. Irwin, thanks as always for helping us understand the stuff that we lay folk don't understand very well. Irwin Redlener is a pediatric physician, and he's with the Columbia's National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Coming up, more on a nation deeply divided by racial tensions and what this President is and is not doing about it when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


VELSHI: We're still following the protests across the country as we learned that officers would not be directly charged in the death of Breonna Taylor. The Louisville Police Department says two officers were shot around 8:30 tonight. Both are being treated at a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Gunfire was heard in the area when the police shooting was reported to have taken place. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shot gun. Two guns, I have no guns.

They're blasting at the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That side, that side.


VELSHI: All right again that was in the area of an around the time the police reported shot. We do not know the connection between the gunfire in this video and the police shooting. Police said both officers are expected to survive thankfully.

Back with us tonight. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post and Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, former lieutenant governor of Maryland. And now the host of the Michael Steele podcast, also a senior advisor with the Lincoln project.

Gentlemen, good to see you both. Thank you for being with us.

Eugene, I just want to remind people because there was an indictment in the Breonna Taylor case, and the indictment had nothing to do with the death of Breonna Taylor. It was a sort of a reckless endangerment charge of a police officer because he endangered the neighbors because of the way in which he was shooting his gun. So no one is being held to account in any fashion for Breonna Taylor's death.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Right here. Breonna Taylor was in her own home asleep, awakened by a climber at her door, got up was killed, shot six times. She is dead and there is no accountability for her death at all. No charges at all relating to the police shooting that led to her death.

You know, Ali, when I heard that announcement this afternoon I was angry. And then I went in back and read the actual the affidavit supporting the search warrant that led to that. It was supposed to be a no knock raid. They say they actually did knock. There's some dispute about that.

But I read that warrant and it is thin as tissue paper. I got angrier and angrier. It's not just what happened in that apartment. It's the whole sequence of events before and after that demonstrate it just as clearly as they possibly could, that Black Lives Matter protests are there for a reason. They're happening for a reason, because to this department in this instance, black lives did not matter.

Breonna Taylor's life did not matter. They hadn't -- they had no idea who she was, what she did, what her role might have been in anything criminal. In fact, there was no role but she had a criminal. It was -- it is shocking that on the basis of that they went into her house using, you know, arm for bear basically. And then we see the tragic result.

So I deplore the fact that two police officers have been wounded tonight in Louisville and I deplore that kind of violence, but I understand the anger because I'm feeling of myself.

VELSHI: And we've had responses from both presidential candidates on the two police officers that were shot. Donald Trump put out a tweet a little while ago to see if I can pull that up, in which he talked about, here it is. Praying for the two police officers that were shot tonight in Louisville, Kentucky. The federal government stands behind you and is ready to help. Spoke to Governor Andy Bashir and we're prepared to work together immediately upon request.

The reason I read the President's tweet is because I also want to read the tweet, Michael Steele, that Joe Biden put out, which expresses the same sentiment about not wanting to see police officers killed, in which he says even amidst the profound grief and anger today's decision generated violence is never and can never be the answer. Those who engage in it must be held accountable. Jill and I are keeping the officers shot tonight in Louisville in our prayers. We wish them both a swift and full recovery.

There's just -- it's a slight difference in tone, Michael, but it's a sense that one can have empathy for the police officers shot, one can have empathy toward people who are angry with the decision that was made today. Or there's the Donald Trump version, which is them versus us.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: Yes, that you know that I would slightly disagree. I think it's more than a slight difference in tone. I think it's a chasm in tone in that, and you really just made the point you can acknowledge that this has a lot of pain resonating in the community, and you can acknowledge their frustration, but then support the process and support the police. While at the same time acknowledging the pain of the family, the pain of the community, which is what I think Joe Biden tried to do.

The President has seemed to be saying, OK, let's just load him up, lock and loaded. Let's rock and roll. If you need some help, we're ready to send in some federal troops and we're just, you know, we just do this, we'll take care of it, which is a very different tone. It's a very different attitude.

You know, like Gene, when I read this today and heard it and sort of processed it. The one thing that struck me, Ali, was why can't they just said they made a mistake. Why can't they just say damn, we really messed this one up, we got this one wrong. We went to the wrong apartment. We killed a citizen in our community, for no cause. And the response that took place in that apartment was in response to our ill-formed actions.

And if the police could just say that, if they just say we did got this wrong, a lot of this, a lot of what you see on the streets would just go away but it instantly gets into this oh we were following a process and procedure in the rules say that we can do this and last and all of that, gentlemen, is the life of a youngWe were following the process and procedure in the rules say that we can do this and, and last and all of that, gentlemen is the life of a young woman who was at home and bed asleep. And that's --

VELSHI: There was a political, a civil settlement reached which at least had the city authorities acknowledged some of what you just said. Unfortunately, what a lot of African Americans and people of color are complaining about that is it doesn't play out legally.


VELSHI: They don't seem to have the same legal protections everyone else has. But at least someone in fairness in Louisville says what you said that the police did the wrong thing.

Let's sneak in a quick break. Eugene and Michael have agreed to stay with us. Coming up President Trump throws into question a bedrock of our government. We'll get to guests -- we'll get our guests to weigh in when THE 11TH HOUR continues after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transfer for all the power after the election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there's a peaceful transfer all of power?

TRUMP: No. We want to have get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very transfer -- we'll have a very peaceful, there won't be a transfer frankly, there'll be a continuation. The ballots are at a control, you know it and you know who knows it better than anybody else. The Democrats know it better than everybody else.


VELSHI: Back with us, Eugene Robinson and Michael Steele. Michael, I tweeted that out. And I tried to make a habit of not tweeting out things that I don't understand. But I have to confess I tweeted out and I didn't understand it. My wife asked me what does that mean, get rid of the balance and there'll be a continuation of power and I said to her, I have no clue what that means.

STEELE: Right.

VELSHI: It sounds somewhat anti-democratic to me, but I'm -- I don't even know what to make of it. What do you think the President was implying? Get rid of the ballots. That's the PAL. I hate the ballots. What's he talking about?

STEELE: So not only is that every American should be frightened and have a chill from what the President said. But it really is, it is a call to action, what he said. So what he meant by that was, if you get rid of the ballots that are brought in by mail, the mail in ballots, there's no need for transition because I win. That's what he meant. There's no need for transition, because take those ballots out, then I win the election, because otherwise, I don't if you allow those in.

So you understand now he -- I mean, President --


STEELE: -- is so -- the president is so cocky in his assurance that this thing is in the back for him that the plan that they're working is going to work, that the quiet stuff that they talked about in the room, he's now just put down the street.

VELSHI: Yes, yes.

STEELE: Because he figured out, hey, you can't stop it. And B, if you could, so what? So yes, that's what he meant. Just so we know. That's what he meant.

VELSHI: So I don't know what the rush is. Gene, I don't know what the rush is for a Supreme Court nominee if things are so good. But the problem with the President is whether it Chris Wallace at Fox asks him some version of will you relinquish office or have a peaceful transfer of power? Or this question came up? It's meant to sort of, it's your opportunity when you are asked that question to pass on what you believe democratic institutions and democratic societies do.

So the right answer to that is, of course, if I lose, there'll be a transfer a peaceful transfer of power, but he can't bring himself to say those basic things.

ROBINSON: No, because he doesn't really believe in democratic institutions. He believes in Donald Trump, and period and you know, full stop. So look, this is where I say, you know, bring it on. OK. I mean, I'm a journalist, right. I'm not an activist. I don't belong to a political party. I don't -- I cover demonstrations. I don't participate in them. I don't even put up yard signs right for candidates because I'm a journalist, opinion journalist, but I'm a journalist. That's what I do.

But if this guy is trying to actually mess with the process and the results of our election, then I'm not a journalist anymore. I'm in the streets because this is fundamental. I go all Crispus Attucks and Thomas Paine, at that point, because this is our country. This is vital. This is an essential part of our country. And I won't stand for it and I believe the American people wants to (inaudible).

VELSHI: Well, I'll be working right next to you my friend.

STEELE: American (inaudible) for that right to vote.

VELSHI: That's right.

ROBINSON: Me and Michael.

VELSHI: Gentlemen, let us hope. Let us hope it does not come to that. My thanks to both of you, as always, my friends Eugene Robinson and Michael Steele.

Coming up, the president downplays as we said the need for a transfer of power. Our next guest has been looking at the revenue that that power has meant to Donald Trump when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


VELSHI: Forbes senior editor Dan Alexander lays out in his brand new book the vast amount of money that has flowed and continues to flow into Trump's coffers in his first term. By Alexander's analysis, Trump businesses have raked in $1.9 billion of revenue during his first three years in office.

Dan Alexander's with us tonight. He's a senior editor at Forbes covering the president and his business. Dan, I've been dying to talk to you about this because the question I have for you is -- has Donald Trump taken in more than he would have if he were a private citizen? The same less what's his -- how profitable is the presidency been to him?

DAN ALEXANDER, FORBES SENIOR EDITOR: Well, it's a good question. You know, there are some properties first and very painful. Many of his hotels, you know, it's not a good thing if you alienate half the country. And so people aren't booking they're like they used to be booking, where he's really making his money, those in his commercial properties, those are long term leases, you know, 10-year, 15-year leases

And so people aren't going to be eager to back out of those are even able to back out of those very quickly, just because they're angry with the president or like the president. So overall, probably about the same amount of money flowing in. But the types of money have changed more foreign governments, more people who are interested in influencing the president, and fewer liberals who say don't want to be this Golf Club.

VELSHI: But the concept of foreign governments renting offices perhaps or taking rooms at Trump hotels, is this issue that we got into where Americans were introduced to the term emoluments, and not much has come out of those efforts to challenge the President on something that was written into the Constitution. But the fact is, that's what they were worried about, that the President receiving -- receives money from outsiders who are not meant to influence the operation of government.

ALEXANDER: Yes, that's exactly right. And, you know, one of the things that the President's legal team has argued, is, well, you know, if a foreign government stays at Trump's Hotel in Washington D.C., for example, it's a value for value exchange. Now, yes, Trump gets some money, but the officials get a hotel room. And that's how business works. That's fair.

But there's one instance that covered in this book, in which the Qatar Investment Authority, which is a sovereign wealth fund that acts as an arm of the Qatari government was renting empty office space in 555, California Street, which is Donald Trump's most valuable holding.

And so if you're renting a space, but you're not actually using it, and all of a sudden that argument that value for value change, or just business as usual, suddenly explodes. It looks like they're renting the space from him. And in return, they're just getting, well, nothing really.

VELSHI: Dan, in the beginning of the Trump administration, if I recall correctly, was before the Trump administration, Donald Trump and his lawyer held a press conference in which they said they were showing everybody their books, and there were a bunch of files, I don't know that what was in those files. And he was talking about how he was going to put his companies into a blind trust. So he wouldn't have any influence over it, except that his kids, and this is the imagery of it, his kids would be running this trust, which meets nobody's basic definition of blind trust.

ALEXANDER: Yes, it's hard to have a blind trust, and most of your properties still have your last name attached. You know, that's not blind to you. It's not blind to anybody who would be seeking to put money in your pocket. So that's not a blind trust, but he really did was he handed over, you know, some management, which, of course, is what most billionaires who were in their mid 70s and pick up other interests would do, you know, the next generation. Hey, you guys. Take it from here. I got other things to worry about. But I'm still going to retain ownership. And that's it. Important thing, the money is still mine. And Donald Trump of course kept ownership of all of this property.

VELSHI: How important is this to Donald Trump's reelection? Is there some sense that he'd be more prosperous? Not as president or that being proud of presidents pretty prosperous for him?

ALEXANDER: Well, you know, the effect that it's had on his brand might be difficult to erase, you know, people are going to think of Donald Trump differently from now until forever. Whereas before, he was just, you know, a colorful New York real estate character. So are Democrats really going to be booking rooms and, for example, the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, for the Doral Golf Resort in Miami. I think that that's probably pretty unlikely, at least in the short term.

However, in the long term, you might start to get some of that business back. One thing that will be good for him that he will finally be able to continue doing foreign deals, lots of foreign deals, he's still done some foreign deals, even though he promised not to, but I'll be able to really expand as for an empire, so look for potential Trump buildings in places like Russia, and you know, other places in Eastern Europe, where the Trump name remains strong, and there's still a lot of interest in bringing that into different cities around the world.

VELSHI: The book is "White House, Inc." Dan Alexander is the author. Dan, thank you for joining us tonight. Coming up one more observation about the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight as the nation pauses to remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week, voting groups across the country say they are seeing a big surge in voter registrations following her death. That uptake continued through yesterday which happened to be National Voter Registration Day.

And if you have any questions about how you can vote in your state, NBC's got a neat online tool where you can get all those questions answered. Just head to That is our broadcast for tonight. I'm Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams. He'll be back. I'll be back tomorrow. He'll be back on Monday.

We're going to leave you with some pictures of the protests in San Diego as MSNBC continues its coverage of the protest tonight after the decision in Louisville, Kentucky. On behalf of all my colleagues at the network's of NBC News, good night.


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