A deep humanitarian crisis continues to engulf Texas, as Texas Senator Ted Cruz flies to Cancun. Warnings about extremism within American authorities and law enforcement are examined. New York Assemblyman Ron Kim discusses the controversy surrounding Governor Andrew Cuomo`s actions on COVID-19 and nursing homes.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Appreciate your reporting. Thank you, as always. Good to see you.
WALLACE: Thanks, my friend.
MELBER: I do want to welcome everyone.
I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And we begin with the new video tonight, Texas Senator Ted Cruz landing back in Houston coming from Cancun, Mexico. He left for a vacation in the middle of this deep humanitarian crisis engulfing his state and constituents. Right before he got on the plane, he basically blamed this poor decision that he made, an adult, he blamed it, apparently, on his kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): My daughters asked if they could take a trip with some friends, and Heidi and I agreed. So, I flew down with them last night, dropped them off here. And now I`m headed back to Texas and back continuing to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Back to work in Texas.
As for the claims there, we have a fact-check coming up. Politically, civically, responsibility-wise, it`s a problem for Senator Cruz.
We begin with the reason it`s a problem, because so many people`s lives hang in the balance, Texas suffering this horrific crisis that we and so many journalists have been reporting on. The freezing weather has paralyzed huge swathes of the state. Hundreds of thousands of people remain in the dark as of this hour, which also means no heat, reports of now food shortages mounting, residents scrambling for basic shelter.
The storm has already taken 21 lives, including a man who died from monoxide poisoning as he slept with his pregnant wife and 4-year-old son because he was using a gas generator inside the house for warmth. It`s one of several tragic stories that put of course, the human toll, the human face on all of these problems.
Hospitals there also flooded with over 300 carbon monoxide cases. People are cold. They`re worried about the problems that come and the risks that comes with being too cold for too long. But some are understandably in situations where they end up doing what experts say are dangerous things to try to forestall that, to try to keep warm.
Twelve million residents have disruptions of some sort with water supply. Millions are boiling tap water before drinking it. Days of record low temperatures have also damaged the Texas infrastructure, leading to burst pipes frozen wells, treatment plants on backup power. Hospitals have major flood damage and pipes burst. They are not immune, of course, to these problems even as they give care.
We can show you people lining up -- let`s take a look at this -- at a public spigot, because they -- we will take this in full here -- I want everyone to see what people are doing. These are people going to the spigot here to try to get clean water at home.
The water crisis is affecting people and they`re doing whatever they can, residents, from all sides today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole front half of the church has about an inch- and-a-half of water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pipes are bursting, flooding homes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The inside temp dipped to 40 degrees Monday night. This was the scene waiting for them when they got back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Water had -- was pouring everywhere in our living room.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the problem situation we`re facing with this boil-water notice. There is no electricity on in this neighborhood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no water.
QUESTION: At all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have had -- I have had no baths in four days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost our water. So that`s why we -- that`s why I came here to pick up some water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The storm is also fracturing the supply chain, many long lines we`re seeing here, for example, in the cold, of course, trying to get into grocery stores to get some food.
We have reports of people waiting many hours. Then, once inside, of course, you have people confronted with this, the empty shelves. You can see refrigerator cases in grocery stores, no milk, no eggs, no bread, and in some cases reports of no water.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The line stretches back halfway, almost to the corner here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some waited in line over 45 minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was not expecting this. Hopefully, I can get out here within an hour or two.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Empty shelves and very little inventory left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We tried to go to the shelves today to get water. There was no water in the store. We only have two cases of water left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Either you stay at your house and you are cold and you freeze to death and you have no food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re learning about this from reports, from journalism, and from those firsthand accounts. People, of course, these days can share the horror on social media with videos, with photographs, people resorting to use their cars to try to stay warm or charge their phones, so they have some outside line of communication.
Also, long lines at gas stations. There is a video from outside a Walmart. This is South Texas, where cars were lining up, hoping to get some gas, other stations without fuel or power, forcing motorists to drive miles using gas in search of a way to fill up the gas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don`t have gas. So we`re kind of stuck here. I have nine miles left to go with my car. So, we have to find something that`s within nine miles from here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know how many gas stations we went to. Five maybe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least. And we have haven`t been able to find fuel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Power has started to come back for hundreds of thousands of homes as well across Texas.
So there`s relief for some. Officials say there is a level of rotating outages now that may be -- quote -- "needed" for the next couple of days even to get the grid stable. The federal government is trying to help, President Biden authorizing FEMA to supply Texas with generators, water and blankets.
It is quite a rolling crisis so many people affected.
Joining us now is NBC`s Antonia Hylton, reporting from Houston, and Libby Casey with an eye on this for "The Washington Post."
Antonia, please tell us what you`re seeing.
ANTONIA HYLTON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ari.
Here in Houston, people are exhausted and emotional now days into this crisis. I have spoken to residents who have risked their lives going out on icy roads to find water for their kids, to find a hot meal, telling me they haven`t showered since Sunday, that their houses are about 32 degrees.
I spoke today to a family that ended up resorting to going to somebody`s pool and taking their pool water to bring home and boil and use. That`s how desperate they are. They have eight people in their home. And they have about a case-and-a-half left of drinkable water right now.
And they have gone from store to store, to groceries, to gas stations just seeing if people have bottled water or drinkable things. And they`re struggling to be able to take care of their families.
I also spoke to a mom who has three special needs children who have medication that needed to be refrigerated at a certain temperature. She drove all around looking for somewhere safe to keep them, and eventually found a safe place to place to say, because someone on Twitter offered her a random hotel room, because they happen to see her tweet out her pain and frustration.
So that`s just a fraction of what I have been hearing on the ground here, Ari. But I think it paints a pretty clear picture.
And, Antonia, I want to ask you about these discussions about the grid and policy. We mentioned Senator Cruz is in some controversy. We`re going get to that later in the program. But there has also been understandable frustration by Texans against many different officeholders about, how is it this bad in America?
We are all familiar, we have all covered unavoidable weather tragedies, be it a hurricane or a storm. Day one sometimes is just the understandable emergency response, and it`s just that, a tragedy.
But as you get days going further and further away from it hitting, there is usually the test of whether government emergency response is working or not. I think we have all lived through some of these.
I want to read, for your view, given that you have been covering this there on the ground, from "The El Paso Times," which reports about the electricity issues specifically to the state and that place. Not being connected to the rest of Texas helped El Paso in the cold wave.
"In 2011, El Paso resorted to rolling blackouts because of several days of single-digit to below zero temperatures." This does happen in Texas. "After that, EPE spent $4.5 million to repair and better winterize."
It is a real-world example some are pointing to about what is possibly a better way to deal with this. Tell us what you`re hearing from people about that part of this debate that`s about emergency services, as well as policy.
HYLTON: Every single person I have spoken to here on the ground says that leaders here at the local level, at the state level absolutely should have been able to see this coming.
They understand that this weather is historic, that these are -- this is a cold snap and unusual for these areas of Texas, but, look, they knew that this was coming days in advance, and people feel like they should have been told to evacuate.
That`s how dire, that`s how far pushed to the edge residents feel they have been. And they have also struggled to get clear information, even as these different agencies have released press release, tried to calm people that they have made progress overnight, they`re not doing it at the community or zip code level.
So, people here, oh, lights are coming back on, 98 percent of our customers should see their lights and power back on today. But for the folks who aren`t having -- and I`m still talking to people who are missing all of these resources right now. They can`t get clear answers, when are these resources coming back to me?
I just spoke to a woman who was crying because her husband is on dialysis. He is sick right now and has been shivering in their apartment. Their lights and power have come back on, but they have no water to cook food or do anything with or to bathe.
And they are struggling to get answers from their local leaders here. They want to see the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas held accountable. They`re mad at Governor Abbott and they feel he could have pushed for better winterizing of these facilities way, way in advance.
And now they`re mad at Ted Cruz, as you mentioned, I mean, completely insulted by the fact that their senator would try to go to Cancun for any reason while he literally has people dying here in his home state.
Antonia Hylton, thank you for your reporting. Stay safe. We will be coming back to you.
Libby Casey, take a listen to Rachel Maddow`s reporting on this as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": They run it the Texas way. They don`t like regulations.
After the fiasco in 2011 and those recommendations from FERC, Texas announced some best practices for all its power producers. But that`s just what they were, best practices. It didn`t actually require any of them to do anything.
Now it is the families of Texas who are literally trying to shiver through yet another cold night to survive this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Some perspective on recent history.
We`re joined by Judge Clay Jenkins, county judge for Dallas County, Texas. He is one of the county`s chief administrators. Libby Casey is here.
Judge, Rachel and others and our reporter on the ground discussing some of the history here. Your view on why Texas is in this position?
JUDGE CLAY JENKINS (D), DALLAS COUNTY, TEXAS: This was completely predictable. We had a report from the feds and a report from the state legislature that told the governor he needed to weatherize the generation and we needed to replace our antiquated natural gas pipeline system.
I spoke in front of the legislature two years ago about the importance of replacing this pipeline system so we didn`t have situations like this. We have been doing tabletops here in Dallas County with emergency managers since Texas refused to weatherize, so that we can keep our water system and other things working when this inevitably happened.
And, look, when you choose to not regulate and order weatherization in a commodity market, you are ordering generators not to weatherize, because they are tasked with following the regulations and getting you energy at the lowest prices.
LIBBY CASEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, if you`re -- it`s all about cheap, then you get what you pay for, to some degree, Ari.
And I think a real autopsy of this will absolutely be done. Part of the problem, though, here is how the governor and others have been talking about this, especially in the early days.
NPR did a great report this morning showing Governor Abbott on FOX News blaming green power and wind turbines, and then on the local stations telling a more truthful tale about the fact that this was a failure across the board, and that the combination of this unprecedented storm with the grid unable to carry these loads and power not being generated for a range of reasons, including natural gas.
That is a different tale than what they were trying to spin early on. So, the focus of trying to politicize this at a moment when really the need for so many Texans is dire just sort of shows the disconnect between the politics and what people are experiencing on the ground.
MELBER: And Libby, as someone who charts a lot of these issues, extreme weather is not going away any time soon.
Do these kind of stress tests for governments, state or federal, also put certain modern Republican orthodoxies under the test? Because this is not one of those debatable things. We covered Donald Trump`s Supreme Court justices, and people can debate who they want on the court. It sort of depends on the issue.
Here, either this stuff works to keep people safe and the grid working or it doesn`t. And we`re hearing a lot of reports right now, Libby, that it doesn`t.
CASEY: There has to be a plan laid out -- I think everyone would agree to this -- that doesn`t just look a year or two down the road and think about short-term budgets, but looks 20, 30, 40, 50 years down the road, when you think about infrastructure.
It became this laughing joke in Washington to hear about infrastructure week under the Trump administration, but we are now hearing the Biden administration also prioritize infrastructure, because that is something that people on both sides of the aisle can get behind.
Unfortunately, during the Trump administration, it just ended up being a way to pivot from the scandal of the moment or the crisis of the day. But politicians on both sides of the aisle, liberal and conservative, Democrat, Republican, there is a lot of common ground and area of interest when you can try to get coalitions built sort of on the old-school lines based on regions, based on high density, low density, rather than just liberal vs. conservative.
You can find ways to come together on infrastructure. And that is something that the Biden administration -- it`s one of the prongs they`re trying to push on right now.
Libby Casey and Judge Jenkins, thanks to both of you.
We have our shortest break, just 30 seconds.
Tonight, though, I`m keeping it moving because we have a special report tonight on extremism inside U.S. policing -- my report coming up later.
The DOJ has a new investigation into Governor Cuomo over that COVID story we have been covering.
But the Ted Cruz fallout, Michael Steele -- when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: My daughters asked if they could take a trip with some friends, and Heidi and I agreed. So, I flew down with them last night, dropped them off here. And now I`m headed back to Texas and back continuing to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Senator Cruz today right before he boarded a plane to return from Mexico to Texas, under fire for taking a Mexico vacation amidst what we just showed in this humanitarian crisis.
Michael Steele is here.
Michael, was this a responsible or good idea for Senator Cruz?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it was the height of arrogance to believe that you could in the midst of this just continue on with the family plans.
Now, look, the family plans may have been in place for a while. It`s been reported that he was planning to come become on Saturday, not today. The fact of the matter is he should have said to his family -- and I`m sure they would understand -- sweetheart, I know you want to go with your friends. Why don`t you to go and you guys have a good time, but we have a lot of people hurting in our state right now, and I`m going to stay here and hurt them.
I think that would have made a lot of sense to his family and it certainly would have made a lot of sense to the people of Texas if he said something. But the arrogance of power, the arrogance of being isolated and insulated from reality, the fact that you would go on FOX and claim one thing, but then say something different later on, as the governor of the state, just gives you a sense of the environment that has been created inside some of these insular spaces, where some Republicans hang out, detached from the reality.
And that`s the unfortunate part, not for Ted Cruz, but for the people of Texas right now, who are suffering and dying because of this.
And we have got on the screen so people can understand, this is how Ted Cruz is living right here. This is Ted Cruz nodding at people, going through the airport, accompanied by whatever retinue of aides or security he has. This is how he is living as an elite, choosing to not only flee Texas, but flee the country, Michael, during what we just showed.
STEELE: I was going to say, Ari, we have so many examples in modern times of mayors, city administrators, governors, elected officials leaving town at the height of a -- particularly a environmental crisis, whether it`s fires, or bad weather, storms, and getting skewered for it.
So what in the world do you think, as a United States senator from the second largest state in the country, Texas, which most people think as hot to begin with anyway, that is now suffering through a snowstorm?
STEELE: So, you know people are like, you got to pay attention to that. What makes you think you can`t?
MELBER: Yes. And that`s the last thing I got to ask you, Michael.
Again, part of my job sometimes is to just take in the info, ask the obvious questions. But this is the question. With everything going on in Texas, what does it reveal about Ted Cruz`s view of his job, his actual elected constitutional job, that this, notwithstanding Mexico or not, was a time to take vacation, when people are dying and he could use his power as a representative of the state of Texas to do any number of things vis-a-vis any number of governments?
It`s a big state, local, state, county, electrical grid, federal, FEMA, that he thinks he can leave his post, because he doesn`t even take it as a premise that he would even do any work during this?
STEELE: It`s about having the job, not doing the job. It`s about having the job and the power that comes from that job, and using it in a way to continue self-benefit, self-aggrandizement, and not at a political moment where that power could be used to actually help people, and using it that way and employing it that way.
STEELE: So, yes, we have seen it. People want the job. They want the title, but the responsibility that comes from it, well, that`s another thing.
MELBER: Well, Michael, you keep it plain and clear. It`s the answer. You have -- that is the answer, right?
STEELE: That`s the answer.
MELBER: I hadn`t thought of it quite with those words, but the title, right, vs. the responsibility.
And everything I have said is not offered with any political lens. We`re just talking about any representative of a government doing this while people die.
Michael Steele, thank you, sir.
MELBER: Go ahead.
STEELE: I was going to say, I was a lieutenant governor, so I know the responsibilities there. And people should understand that that job title requires work.
MELBER: Yes. Yes.
Michael Steele, thank you.
We have a lot more in the program, as I mentioned, new developments in this COVID crisis in New York. My special report on what we can learn about what`s happening inside police departments around the nation coming up.
MELBER: Turning now to our special report on warnings about extremism within American authorities and law enforcement, warnings in plain sight.
And these are not just reports about the days leading up to January 6 or the days after, which have included accounts that over 30 officers were participating inside the January 6 rally leading up to the riot. Authorities also saying three closed the line into criminal conduct, meriting new charges.
Plus, one in five of all indicted rioters had military backgrounds. So, this emerging picture is complex. It is not monolithic. Now, many indicted rioters have these backgrounds, and it`s particularly disturbing that people entrusted to potentially kill for the United States, to use lethal force, turned around and used their training against the United States, against the Capitol, against our democracy.
That`s according to current authorities. While many officers serving that day were, of course, on the other side, risking life and limb, performing those real acts of heroism we witnessed while outnumbered, and they were squaring off at times with fellow veterans of U.S. service or possibly of law enforcement training.
The wider problems of extremism, infiltration, and outright racism are not new, though. And even clear warnings have sometimes been downplayed or resisted for the wrong reasons, like politics or fear of criticizing any police force, when, let`s be clear at the start of this special report, police forces, like the government in general, are supposed to be overseen and held to account by the people, with facts and fairness in a democracy.
Now, I`m telling you this because it matters now tonight. And we all, as a society, need to continue to face the facts to inform the road ahead, which includes facing longstanding warnings like this, a warning on white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement by the FBI 15 years ago, which noted that, if infiltration goes undetected, it`s of great concern.
The FBI`s job is to defend the U.S. and prosecute the big crimes, the big federal cases. It is not supposed to matter whether, for example, a terrorist killer is from Iraq or Ohio.
And even the FBI`s own directors admit that it can be a failure of that fair standard any time the government or any law enforcement goes too easy on the homegrown terrorists, the bad guys who might look more like certain people.
And even back in the post-9/11 era, then Director Bob Mueller emphasized under oath that domestic terror and these white supremacist threats were almost equally on par with al Qaeda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Much of our history is not pretty. Law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to various groups.
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Domestic terrorism is also an important an issue as the international terrorism, whether it be white supremacists, militia extremists, sovereign citizen extremists.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: A huge chunk of those domestic terrorism investigations involve racially motivated violent extremists fueled by some kind of white supremacy.
And I would say the most lethal activity over the last few years has been committed by those type of attackers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You just saw three different FBI directors across administrations of both parties, though all three happened to, by the way, be Republicans, as a registration matter.
And you heard them, including the most recent, saying the most lethal stuff comes from these white supremacist killers and terrorists.
This has been around. That`s the broad assessment. And then there are the more detailed, specific examples when you get into policing and infiltration, like two Florida officers found to belong to the KKK ousted over that in 2014, or two high-ranking police officers found to be in the white supremacist group Southern Independence fired from an Alabama police force.
Just consider the horror of a KKK member walking around with a badge and gun. Many minority members of the military, that other piece that I mentioned from January 6, they say they have seen specific examples of white nationalism there. Almost half of the population of minority members, according to a "Military Times" poll, and one out of five white soldiers say they have seen that white nationalism right there in our military.
Now, some in government have tried to act on this. House Democrats held hearings on this as recently as last year, where a former neo-Nazi recounted on record how exactly they infiltrated the police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK MEEINK, FORMER NEO-NAZI: White supremacist leaders encouraged their followers to join the police force as a means to cause harm to people of color.
It becomes a goal of theirs is to get around the screening process of police departments. That is talked about in the rooms all the time, to make sure that they don`t see that we have either neo-Nazi past or neo-Nazi beliefs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
What`s being detailed there, again, in the context of a growing white supremacist, murderous threat that three different FBI directors outlined, is the elaborate plotting by some to get inside police forces, which, of course, have plenty of problems even before you get to this particular issue, in order for the explicit goal of -- quote -- "harming people of color."
And that`s not all. I want you tonight to also consider the direct and eyewitness experience of people who served on the Capitol Hill Police force.
Sharon Blackmon-Malloy is a 25-year veteran of the Capitol Police force. She saw so much racism that she was moved to risk her whole career -- none of this stuff is easy -- to take on the force itself, the force she served on. And she took it to court with a discrimination suit that first began decades ago.
Now, it turns out she was not alone. These kind of cases legally are stronger with more numbers or more witnesses. Now, lawyers knew she would fare better if she wasn`t alone, if she could get 10 or 15 or 20 others to join her.
How many did she get in this case? Two hundred and fifty. Now, she is speaking out now, after January 6, arguing that some of the seeds of that riot and the response and the problems came from the past records of police, leaders and powerful people ignoring what she says she documented.
I want you to hear her plaintive warning, as someone who wore the Capitol Police uniform, about what she felt she would be asked to do were she serving on a day like January 6.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LEILA FADEL, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: She has spoken to black police officers that were at the Capitol that day. They`re traumatized. Some in the crowd called them the N-word. Some are injured.
They`re also scared because they saw a few of their white colleagues show sympathy with the mob.
SHARON BLACKMON-MALLOY, FORMER CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: And then now you expect me to go stand beside an officer, not knowing whether or not he is one of the terrorists. That`s what we deem them to be.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: Let`s listen to her. She served. She did some of this work. And we saw what happened.
Jessica Watkins, an Army veteran from Ohio and an avowed member of the far right militia group Oath Keepers, was boasting about her role there on the 6th. According to federal court documents, she posted online: "We stormed the Capitol today, tear-gassed, the whole nine, pushed our way into the Rotunda, made into it the Senate even," white supremacists boasting.
A 43-year-old New Yorker seen smashing an exterior window at the Capitol took a -- quote -- "victory smoke" inside that building. The FBI notes he is self-identified, though, as a former Marine, as well as a member of the Proud Boys.
Or police officers from Rocky Mount, Virginia, who proudly posted this selfie from inside the Capitol. These are police officers documenting their own crimes on the day of the insurrection. We`re showing it to you unedited, because you should see the message they`re giving everyone. This is an exhibit in court now. They`re facing five federal counts. They have also now, since all that, been fired.
This is a complex story, as I mentioned at the top. There are heroic Capitol Hill police officers as well, many that we saw. They protected lawmakers. They risked their lives. They faced down the racism and crimes and threats of the mob, which included, as I`m showing you, veterans and officers in its criminal ranks.
I want to read to you on air something that was said. We don`t have it on tape, so I can`t play it for you, but it`s important. So, I`m going to read it, a black officer recounting to one writer covering this -- quote -- "I sat down with one of my buddies, another black guy, and tears just started streaming down my face. I said: `Is this America? What the `blank` just happened?` I`m so sick and tired of this `blank.`"
These Capitol riots put much on display, the disparity and the treatment of people who march into the Capitol to break the law and get through it all, partly by overwhelming police, but partly by the disparate treatment which we have also been documenting, the treatment of white criminals.
There is also new scrutiny here on the years that led up to this, on the obviously murderous threat of white supremacist terrorist violence, of white terrorists. I`m not singling them out because they`re white, but referring, as those FBI directors did, to the fact that they are white supremacists, so their terrorism is in service of white power.
If this is hard to say and hard to watch and hard to talk about, that`s part of the problem. We need to document it, face it, talk about it as a society to make sure that, when the evidence warrants, we are prosecuting it.
I want to bring in two special guests for this conversation to carry out more of the goals of this special report tonight.
I want to thank, for joining us, Jelani Cobb, staff writer at "The New Yorker," also a contributor with us, and someone many viewers may recognize for expertise on more than one topic, a retired NYPD detective and also director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, Marq Claxton.
Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Marq, I laid out some of the history. Your thoughts.
MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Well, Ari, long before the events of January 6 or even before the disclosures that you showed there by the FBI about right-wing white nationalistic infiltration of law enforcement, black and brown officers were warning the rest of the country about the clear and present danger of this extremism.
The danger was not only to the minority officers themselves, but to the larger community primarily. And it also threatened to destroy the integrity of the policing profession.
Clearly, if you look at the confirmed involvement of law enforcement officers at the Capitol, the possible involvement of elected officials, and law enforcement unions and fraternities` vocal support for the former president and his most radical, violent right-wing supporters, it is wise to question the integrity of this ongoing investigation and whether, from the very beginning, there was a commitment to find out all of the facts.
I say to you that there wasn`t that commitment. And it`s curious and troubling and disturbing, and it`s worthy of further examination, because now these terrorists have fancy labels like domestic violent extremists or homegrown violent extremists.
But for minority officers, a lot of them merely knew them as a colleague or a supervisor, sometimes even a chief or the commissioner. The only difference between those law enforcement officers who are involved criminally, are charged criminally and the police officers in some communities and some departments is that these actions, the actions of those at the Capitol are clearly documented, and they face criminal charges for it.
But the threat remains and exists, and it`s real. And I think we should heed the warning of so many of the black and brown officers over the decades of trying to raise these issues.
MELBER: Jelani, they told us.
JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, they did.
But I think the important thing here is that they didn`t tell us anything they we didn`t already know. And so there were these intelligence reports that were talking about the infiltration of white supremacist elements into law enforcement in 2006. That`s late.
That`s really late, because there are other references to things going back to the `70s, the `80s. And everyone should actually pay attention to the history. When we look at the civil rights movement and the volatile nature of law enforcement that people were encountering, very many of those officers were aligned with and, indeed, members of white supremacist organizations.
So, this is not a novel development. I think that what`s new is that people are beginning to recognize the extent to which they pose a threat to the society at large, not simply to African-Americans.
When people stormed the Capitol, they were trying to overturn an election because that was seen as fraudulent, largely because of the numbers of black people who had voted in it. And that, in turn, disenfranchised all sorts of other constituencies, including all of the -- would have, rather, disenfranchised all other constituencies, including the white people who voted for Joe Biden.
And so this is not simply a concern of African-Americans. And I think that`s a new revelation to people.
Well, and the constructive version of that is coalition reform. And the pessimistic part of that is what Stokely Carmichael said, which is almost every major civil rights advancement in the country only broke through when it would benefit the larger piece or white people, which is a bigger topic than even we have even for the time we set aside here.
Marq, I want to play one more from the piece from that reformed neo-Nazi that I mentioned talking about how this works when it`s direct infiltration. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEEINK: I attended a small movement in Baltimore run by the National Socialist Movement and a group called SS Action.
I heard the same rhetoric there. They told us to join law enforcement so we can get black people felonies, so they would not be able to legally arm themselves and they would not be able to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Marq, we made this one of our longest segments of the show, but now we`re down to about 30 seconds. Your final thought.
CLAXTON: What was oftentimes considered or what is considered to be just bad policing, or race-based targeted enforcement, or racial profiling, or even -- I hate this -- the bad apple, it could possibly be -- and I`m saying to was a fairly good indication that there was something much more insidious.
It appears, based on government reports, personal accounts of police and practitioners, that an alarming number of paramilitary, law enforcement and military have within their ranks Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, QAnon, neo-Nazi terrorists who contributed to the deaths of police officers, death and injuries of police officers, and a greater threat to this government.
MELBER: Former Detective Marq Claxton gets the last word on this tonight.
My thanks to you and Jelani Cobb. We will stay on these issues.
I have to fit in a break, but up ahead, we have a story we haven`t even had time for yet, new developments, as Governor Cuomo faces multiple probes into his handling of COVID death data.
And a state lawmaker, a Democrat, says Cuomo is trying to do retaliation. He`s my special guest next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): There is nothing to investigate. All the numbers we produced were exactly right. We didn`t provide all the information that was requested. That did create a void, and misinformation did fill the void.
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Whether it`s corrupt politicians, unscrupulous landlords, inhumane immigration policies, I will take on powerful interests and hold them accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is a story of two New York Democrats. You see Governor Cuomo there under fire, trying to explain allegations that they covered up COVID deaths, after New York Attorney General Letitia James revealed a factual disparity in the data, and said after this report that Cuomo vastly undercounted nursing home-related deaths.
Cuomo`s administration had initially claimed there were about 9,000 nursing home residents who died of COVID. But after the James report, over 15,000 deaths from nursing homes was revealed as the true number by Cuomo`s administration himself.
Now they first tried to call this an accounting error, but Cuomo`s top aide has later admitted a cover-up of sorts, saying they basically froze and were worried about a probe of this very issue.
Now, this entire story has been gaining traction. The report first came out last month. We have covered it several times here on THE BEAT, as have many other news organizations, because of the import of this.
Now, there are new allegations by a Democrat of Cuomo pursuing retaliation. And New York state Senate Democrats are on the way, "The New York Times" reports, to potentially stripping Cuomo of his emergency powers.
The story has been escalating. We`re staying on it.
And we`re joined now by a very special guest, New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim.
And for context, whatever state you`re in, if you have followed or not followed this in New York, he has been pushing this very issue since it first came to public notice in April of last year. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON KIM (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: After we discovered that there is between 30 to 60 people who might have passed away due to coronavirus at this nursing home, we still don`t have any answers from the state or the nursing director.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What were you concerned about then? Do you feel these numbers prove you right? And detail for viewers who may not know the whole story what you allege Governor Cuomo said to you.
We saw back then the administration wasn`t being forthright and they were not sharing all the information on the ground. And now the A.G.`s report validated a lot of the things that we accused the governor of doing.
So, now, furthermore, they also admitted in a private meeting that they purposely hid information for political reasons. The governor`s abusive tactics that have been written about on how he treated me privately all deflect from the issue, which is that the administration, their decision to make the nursing homes accept COVID patients, while handing out the legal and criminal immunity, and then the subsequent cover-up of the true numbers of related death, that is a mistake they have to answer for.
MELBER: But what do you allege -- what do you allege that Governor Cuomo said to you?
KIM: The governor asked me to issue a statement that countered what I heard in the meeting and essentially cover up the cover-up.
And I refused to do that. It is unethical. It`s potentially illegal. And that was the moment, despite the yelling, all that stuff, but it was that request that made me speak out and say, enough is enough. We need to check this executive and we need to do our job and protect the integrity of the state Senate and the Assembly, so we can...
MELBER: But are you...
KIM: Go ahead.
MELBER: Are you standing by the claim that he was vowing retribution, that he would -- quote -- "destroy you," which, in fairness to the story, he denies. Do you stand by that claim?
KIM: Yes, I do.
He spent 10 minutes berating me, threatening me to end my career in front of my family, in front of my kids, while I was about to bathe them, in front of my wife.
But, again, this is a pattern of abusive behavior by this governor. I was doing my job. I am the chair of the Aging Committee. I am tasked to ask the tough questions. I shouldn`t be punished. I shouldn`t be implicated.
KIM: Those should not be the two options for doing my job.
MELBER: Right. Well, I think that makes sense.
And, again, the governor has denied this, and he is welcome to come on, as he has before, to discuss this issue, your debate, as well as COVID.
I want to put on the screen, though, something, because, in fairness and frankness, Assemblyman, many of our viewers know Governor Cuomo. Not many know you. Some might say, who are you to lodge this charge?
For context, though, something you just said is true, and I think people should know that as well, which is, you`re not the first Democrat to clash with the governor to this degree, with complaints that he has been over the line.
I`m putting up on the screen some of the many recognizable Democrats, the New York mayor, for example, statewide officeholders, who then Cuomo would blast as a liar, a disgrace, no courage.
Do you view this as a pattern that goes beyond just normal politics and something wrong with how the governor is leading the state?
KIM: Absolutely. It`s a pattern of abusive tactics that almost every political person in New York knows about.
But we want to move past this, because this is not about the governor. This is about the last 10 months of the bad policies that he`s instituted. Again, that`s why I`m here. That`s why I want to get to work. I want to undo all of those bad policies, so we can go back to talk about the 15,000 family member -- people who got in nursing homes, and the people who are recovering from COVID with health care problems right now in the nursing homes.
And, as mentioned, we have covered that several times. I know you have been on it, so viewers should have that context. Appreciate you sharing you views on the policy of what has become a big dispute, as your legislature also considers stripping him of pandemic powers.
And I will reiterate, the governor welcome to return as well.
Assemblyman Ron Kim, thank you.
Going to fit in break. We have something special right after this.
MELBER: I told you it would be a little different. Here we are.
You see, it`s not even the normal BEAT background. But we did want to make it special for a historic moment, as we look beyond Earth to another planet.
The NASA rover Perseverance landed safely on Mars. It was a seven-month trip. And animation shows the descent at a rate of 12,000 miles per hour, Perseverance already sending back some of the first black-and-white images of the Martian surface on a mission to look for life on the Red Planet, something to keep our eye on.
We will be right back.
MELBER: Thanks for joining us on THE BEAT. I will hope to see you tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
You can always find me as well online @AriMelber on social media.
Tonight, on the program, we went from Texas to Mars and back, including the police reporting.
And I do look, along with our team, at social media. So, if you have thoughts about tonight`s show or things you want to see in the future, hit me up @AriMelber.
And keep it right here, right now. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END