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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 3/22/21

Guests: Alec MacGillis, James Clyburn


Police respond to reports of an active shooter in Colorado. New details emerge about the investigation of the Capitol insurrection. Congressman James Clyburn discusses potentially reforming the Senate filibuster rules. The pandemic puts a new focus on how Amazon treats its workers.


ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT" starts right now.

Hello, my old friend.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Alex. Nice to see you.

It all feels natural. Does it feel the same to you?

WAGNER: Feels like -- I want to say feels like the first time. But that seems an inappropriate thing to say, and then I just said it.

It feels great to see your face at the 6:00 hour.

MELBER: Well, welcome back. You have been a guest on THE BEAT. So, any which way that it works.

Nice to see Alex Wagner.

Thank you.

I want to welcome everyone to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

And let me tell you, we have a lot going on in the program tonight.

First, we`re tracking a new push -- it`s getting real -- to maybe end Mitch McConnell`s filibuster tactics. And it`s by one of the most powerful Democrats in D.C., James Clyburn, and he`s here live on THE BEAT tonight.

Also, Barack Obama speaking out. We will get into why later.

But we begin right now with this. Sedition, it is a grave crime. It is the crime of literally trying to overthrow the government or destroy the government. And as a legal matter, I can tell you, it`s rarely charged. It has not been charged yet in the MAGA insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

And many experts do think and have been saying in public that one key measure of accountability for what we all saw and lived through would be throwing the book at those insurrectionists and indicting them for sedition, which would be a big deal.

Well, now the attorney who first oversaw the probe into all that, who was the top federal prosecutor in Washington, says sedition charges, in his view, should be on the way.


MICHAEL SHERWIN, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that and probably meets those elements.

QUESTION: Do you anticipate sedition charges against some of these suspects?

SHERWIN: I believe the facts do I support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.


MELBER: That`s Michael Sherwin.

He has a handle on more of those facts he just mentioned than just about any investigator who`s allowed under government rules to speak publicly, because he`s the guy who just literally ran that probe from its beginning.

And as a member of D.C. law enforcement, he was also the guy who was on the scene. He chose to check things out on foot, somewhat inconspicuously dressed in running gear, and tracked at the time in real time how certain individuals, he says, came decked out for crime and left that rally early.


SHERWIN: There was some people in tactical gear. They were tacked up with Kevlar vests. They had the military helmets on.

Those individuals, I noticed, left the speeches early. When I saw people climbing up the scaffolding hanging from it, hanging flags, I was like, this is going bad fast.


MELBER: That account comes as newly released audio is also relaying how some of those officers were trying to combat that very mob, "The New York Times" pairing its footage with this newly released police radio communication.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruiser 50, they are scaling the scaffold! They are scaling the scaffold to the Capitol!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just had an explosive go on up here. I don`t if it`s fireworks or what, but they`re starting to throw explosives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruiser 50, they`re behind our lines!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to pull back our resources, if you need to go inside or pull back, if they`re getting behind you. You don`t have enough resources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I give this up, they are going to have direct access. We got to hold what we have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruiser 50, we`re flanked, 10-33. I repeat, 10-33, West Front of the Capitol. Cruiser 50, we have lost the line. We have lost the line.


MELBER: It`s disturbing. It`s harrowing. And, again, this is just little pieces of evidence, piece by piece, in the wider mosaic of what really went down.

The DOJ has said this is the most complex criminal investigation it`s ever had. And there`s much we don`t know about an event that did horrifically play out live for so many of us to watch that day.

As for Sherwin, he says in public now that investigators must probe everything. And that includes Donald Trump`s role.


SHERWIN: We have soccer moms from Ohio that were arrested, saying, well, I did this because my president said I have to take back our house.

That moves the needle towards that direction. Maybe the president is culpable for those actions, but also you see in the public record too militia members saying, you know what, we did this because Trump just talks a big game. He`s just all talk. We did what he wouldn`t do.

QUESTION: In short, you have investigators looking into the president`s role?

SHERWIN: We have people looking at everything.


MELBER: We`re joined now by Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post," and strategist Juanita Tolliver.

Nice to see all of you.

Neal, you have served in the Justice Department. What is the significance of this assessment from someone this high?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think it`s significant.

I mean, the investigation has been hamstrung since January 6 in ways. And I think I`m pleased to see now some talk of seditious conspiracy charges being brought, because, Ari, as you say, the statute, which is 2834, doesn`t just -- it doesn`t just bar people who are agreeing to overthrow the government, but also people who try to take or possess any property of the United States by violent means.

And as the video you were just showing demonstrates, I think that`s happened. Having said that, I do have some reservations about Mr. Sherwin talking about the investigation in this way and then going on to say yesterday, oh, I`m not going to play Monday-morning quarterback and talk about all of the people who are let go.

I mean, the fact is, he was the chief law enforcement officer for D.C., and he let hundreds and hundreds of people go on January 6, and he said, I don`t want to play Monday-morning quarterbacking.

Give me a break. I mean, I just want like a first-grade touch football person to just look at this and say, this isn`t the way we behave. People talk about the Black Lives Matter arrests. But one other point of comparison is, in June of 2018, when there was a protest at the Capitol about Trump`s immigration policies, and it was peaceful, 600 people were arrested, as opposed to, like, six on January 6.

MELBER: Yes, Neal, I was actually going to ask you about that. So I will go right to that now.

I mean, people watching this would wonder, gosh, which is it? Is it this James Comey rule that you can never talk about an open probe unless James Comey decides to, and then sometimes you make exceptions? Is it the rule of some folks we have seen in some U.S. attorney`s offices who really don`t talk, or others who talk out of pocket a lot?

Because any viewer would wonder. And that`s the question to you, Neal. Given that it`s an open probe, obviously, later, you could weigh in, but what do you think he`s up to weighing in now in such dramatic fashion?

KATYAL: I`m not sure.

I mean, when I was at the Justice Department, we had a rule, we spoke through court and court only. I never spoke to the media once when I was there. Now, obviously, in some very extreme circumstances, you do have to say something to the media. But it`s not clear to me that this is by any stretch that.

This is more on brand for a Trump appointee, which this guy was in an acting capacity, which is, he`s on his way out, and he better talk to the media and get his profile up as he goes and interviews for private sector jobs or something.

I don`t know that this was authorized by his boss, the new U.S. attorney, Channing Phillips, who is an extraordinary prosecutor. And I think it is unwise. It`s not the way the Justice Department operates.

MELBER: Really interesting, especially the nuance on sort of the multiple aspects of it.

Gene Robinson, from a non-legal perspective, we know that the big words are what people want to hear when it comes to holding accountability. So we hear about treason, while, legally, it has a narrower definition. We hear about sedition, I think people know, sounds big, up to 20 years in prison for some of these folks.

What do you see as the wider import, if there`s going to be accountability, that they do throw the book at him?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I certainly think they should throw the book at them for what they did.

And what the specific charge ought to be, I -- you guys went to law school. I didn`t -- I`m not quite sure. Sedition is a weighted word and a weighted charge. And if it is applicable in this case -- and I think it very well might be -- we have to know that there`s a bright line between what was done and regular protest, vigorous protest of the government, which is protected, and which we should cherish.

And -- now, I do think there`s a there`s a bright line there. But I think that has to be very clear. We have to -- we have to know that. We have demonstrate that.

And I also think we have both gotten way too little and now way too much information about what`s going on in the investigation. There have been no sort of regular briefings from Capitol Police. We`re not really accountable from -- not much from D.C. police.

We just haven`t heard the story of what happened from official sources. We have had to try to piece it together. And so now prosecutor Sherwin on his way out says all sorts of things that we don`t have the fact base to check by.

So, it`s frustrating. It`s certainly frustrating to me as a journalist. I think it`s frustrating to me as a citizen.

MELBER: Juanita?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think, looking at this politically, this does align with some of the accountability that the general public wants to see, knowing now that there is evidence that these rioters have -- many of them conspired and planned for this insurrection to take place, is something that I think the general public appreciates hearing, per Eugene`s point about not having a steady drumbeat of active information coming out about what we know and don`t know about the rioters.

So I think this is something that we can expect to be playing on repeat, just like you played "The New York Times"` piece with that audio of officers, because this comes down to the people whose lives were endangered, whether that`s Democrat or Republican members of Congress, whether that is staffers, whether that`s janitors, or the police who were assaulted.

Five lives were lost on that day. And so the public wants to hear a steady drumbeat. And so, for better or for worse, Sherwin`s interview provides some of that.

MELBER: Gene said not everyone went to law school. Well, here`s some free master class with Neal Katyal right now, because sedition is tricky, Neal.

Look at, for example, the Blind Sheik case, as it was called, a federal sedition prosecution 26 years ago that was successful. There was one about a decade ago that was not, Omar Abdel-Rahman -- I`m reading from "The Washington Post" summary -- and nine others convicted of trying to blow up the un, the FBI, bridges and tunnels as an effort to change policy towards the Middle East.

Neal, walk us through why, in that rare case, which was successful, it was critical to go beyond the bad stuff that anyone would say, gosh, if you tried to blow up a building, that`s bad. And it also had to link to what was provable about their motivation, the purpose of the bad stuff, Neal.

KATYAL: Yes, so the doctrine of conspiracy is what we call an inchoate crime. So, you don`t actually have to do it.

So, Eugene and I can agree to rob a bank. We don`t have to pull it off. It`s still a crime. But we do have to have a pretty concrete plan in mind. And the reason why seditious conspiracy charges are rarely brought is because law enforcement typically intervenes before the crime happens, and -- the actual crime, and for all sorts of good reasons.

You don`t want to, like, wait until the person has to detonate the bomb or rob the bank or something like that. So that`s why these charges have failed. I think, most recently, the last case already was the one involving the Hutaree, the Christian militia in Michigan, in which seditious conspiracy charges were brought.

MELBER: Right.

KATYAL: And it was rejected by the judge, because there wasn`t a concrete enough plan.

Here, however, there isn`t any guesswork involved. They carried out the plan. The invasion actually happened. And then they posted and bragged about it on Facebook, until they realized that they should go and delete their social media posts and things like that.

So, you don`t have that problem. And so, for that reason, it`s not surprising that the prosecutors are now looking at seditious conspiracy charges.


KATYAL: This has an element the other ones didn`t have. It actually happened.

MELBER: I mean, I think that sounds right, Neal.

And I know that you can do -- in the commercial break, you can give a Gene a test on this, and we can find out on a future show how he did.


MELBER: We know him to be good with writing on any written exam.

Having said that, Gene, what about Neal`s point that, at the end of the day, it goes to, it`s -- if you do it, it`s going to go to a jury? And the point Neal makes, I think, is sound, that a jury, which is a group of non- lawyers, are going to say, well, did the act which we saw occur, the running of the -- running through the Congress, affect government policy?

And I don`t think you need to be an expert to know, oh, yes, they literally delayed the certification of Trump`s loss. And while it wasn`t a master strategy plan, it didn`t ultimately change who was going to go to the White House, the thing began to happen.

Gene, final thought.

ROBINSON: Yes. No, how concrete was the plan? I think that`s the that`s the question that Neal asked, and I remembered. I score 100 on that part of the test.


ROBINSON: And I think that`s the important thing, because, clearly, they wanted to stop the functioning of the U.S. government. They wanted to stop Congress from certifying the election for Joe Biden.


ROBINSON: I mean, that is clear. And so that element of the crime, I think, is clearly present.

But how concrete was the planning? So, we don`t know yet.

MELBER: Yes, all fair points on, again, the development, however controversial, of such a top prosecutor speaking out on sedition, potentially, as a charge for MAGA rioters.

I want to thank Neal and Gene for kicking us off. Juanita stays with us. In fact, we have more than one thing to talk about.

So, I will see you in a moment, indeed, in a half-a-moment, because our shortest break is just 30 seconds.

When we come back: Biden`s high approval ratings surging and Trump having a problem finding the next Trump.

We`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: We`re now 61 days into this Biden administration.

And there are signs that the new president is swiftly breaking through the polarized politics of the recent Trump era. One clear example, Joe Biden`s 56 percent approval is higher than Trump ever got in four years.

And headlines and newspapers are full of references to the Biden checks and this stimmies, in "The New York Times" today, how people are spending what they loosely or casually call their stimmy checks around any goals they may have financially.

Now, these kinds of stories not only show that government can work, but also suggests that, even if you don`t hear about Biden as much as Trump, maybe that`s because he`s actually working and governing, instead of tweeting.

Meanwhile, many of the Republicans jostling to be the next Trump are finding his sought-after praise does not help that much.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m endorsing people that I have -- that have been good for us and good for the Republican Party.

We have a lot of young good people. Ron DeSantis is doing a really good job in Florida. And I think Josh Hawley has shown some real courage in going after big tech.

You know, somebody that`s been really terrific is Ted Cruz. Rand Paul has been great. A lot of very good people, really very good people. The Republican Party is stacked.


MELBER: The Trumpiest Republicans, though, are having some of the worst problems right now.

Cruz`s approval, just named-check, down double digits since fleeing to Cancun. Florida Governor DeSantis, name-checked, well, he`s got his own COVID scandal, or Missouri Senator Josh Hawley under scrutiny, with the talk of sedition for fanning the very flames of everything that happened that fateful day on January 6.

I`m joined now by Obama pollster Cornell Belcher. And, as mentioned, back with us, Juanita Tolliver.

Cornell, your thoughts on what it means to have those Republicans specifically trying to be Trumpy in so much hot water?

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it says something to the broader problem that I think is -- we`re going to see with the Republican Party, is all those characters that you just named our in political hot water.

And, more broadly, the mainstream and independent voters are -- they aren`t beloved of mainstream moderate independent voters. They are beloved with Trump`s base, but that`s part of the problem right now. And you get sort of the Bushes and, once upon a time, Governor Kasich, who was a mainstream Republican who many of us thought would be certainly maybe a Republican nominee for president once again, these people have been pushed aside by the Cruzes and the Hawleys and the Rand Pauls, who -- and look, I`m not being partisan here.

They lessen the ability of the Republican Party to expand to be a bigger party. And if you look at the Republican Party right now, they have lost, what, Ari, four of the last five popular votes right now. It`s hard to see how a Cruz or a Hawley gets you back to a majority party in this country.

MELBER: Well, Juanita, if you listen to Cornell, it sounds like he`s saying mo` MAGA, mo` problems.


TOLLIVER: Come on, Ari.

Like -- look, they don`t score any points with this Trump endorsement, by any means. But I think it does show that Trump still believes he wields some type of influence over the voters that he did bring to the Republican Party.

I agree with Cornell on the fact that, with this type of leadership, with these type of individuals at the front of their party, that have nothing substantive to offer. They`re not doing any legislative work. They`re continuing to obstruct processes and fan flames.

But, again, they are not helping Americans. And that`s why I think we`re seeing the Biden bump, whereas they`re declining, because people have explicit needs right now. And Biden is delivering on those needs, checks being in bank people`s bank accounts, schools reopening safely, vaccines going into people`s arms.

That`s what we`re seeing as a positive influence. And I think that`s the type of energy that, if Democrats, the Biden administration keep providing tangible benefits, tangible outcomes for the American public, then they will be in a good position going into the midterms.

MELBER: Yes, and it`s really not monolithic either.

Thinking about the numbers, Cornell, I want to ask you about some of the other elements of the polling here. Biden`s surge includes younger Americans, most of whom now say he`s doing a good job. That`s a strong majority there, along with a majority of Republicans who back COVID relief.

And so, Cornell, what you see emerging is not people just saying, oh, I like what`s like me. We make mistakes when we assume too much about voting groups. Young people know that Joe Biden is not a super young candidate. Republicans know -- if they know anything about him, they know he`s not a Democrat. I mean -- excuse me -- he`s not a Republican. He`s a Democrat.

So, they`re not just saying, oh, I like myself represented, although that can be important. They`re also looking at the first 50 days here and seeing, hey, some of this is working, apparently, in their view, Cornell.

BELCHER: Well, I think it`s a little bit more than that, even, Ari, because as someone who studies these trend lines, I got to tell you, in "The Hill"`s paper, newspaper, put out a poll today. And it had him at 59 percent. And so he`s constantly between -- somewhere between 56, 57 and 59 percent.

And, usually, historically, you see the president early on, they will get a bump. You will see a rallying effect, and why so many presidents like to use -- try to get big things done quickly, because you do have a rallying effect around the president.

I am surprised at how consistently Biden has scored approval ratings almost in the 60 percentages. Quite frankly, I didn`t think you would see it again. He is dominating the moderate middle swathe of the electorate, in a way that I have not seen a president do in over a decade.

He`s doing -- he`s running up the score with independents in a way that I have not seen -- I didn`t even see Obama do. And lord knows I love President Obama. I think he`s a transformational president.

But there`s something about Biden, sort of that comforting -- maybe it`s comforting old white guy, that has the sort of that moderate independent swathe of voters rallying to him in a way that breaks partisanship.

But it also goes back around to my earlier point, is that the Trumpism is pushing independent voters more to the Democratic camp in a way that we hadn`t seen in a good while.

And one last point here about the young voters. I think Republicans think that Baby Boomers are the center of the universe. And the truth of the matter is, if you look at Gen Z, and you look at the millennials right now, they are a larger swathe -- they`re the largest swathe of the electorate right now.

And their inability to compete for those voters, even against an old guy like Joe Biden, I think speaks volumes.

MELBER: Yes, all really good points in terms of where we`re headed.

As promised, a very quick piece of business. But I`m happy to make the announcement here on THE BEAT. Juanita Tolliver is now formally an MSNBC political analyst. We`re announcing that tonight.

We have loved having you on, Juanita. So, congratulations. Hope you feel good about it.

TOLLIVER: Thanks so much, Ari. I feel great about it, thrilled to be joining the MSNBC family.

MELBER: Absolutely.

I teased that earlier in the show, as we say in TV, so I wanted to make that announcement, thank Juanita and thank Cornell.

Thanks to both of you.

As mentioned, we have a lot in the program.

We`re also getting some news right now that we want to tell you about is breaking news. We are monitoring what is being described as a shooting situation at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

Now, this is initial reporting that states that an individual opened fire first in the parking lot, and police arrived on the scene and firing commenced.

Now, moments ago, we also, according to our cameras, were able to detect someone being put into an ambulance. No official word on injuries or deaths.

I`m joined now by Jim Kavanaugh, a retired ATF agent and MSNBC analyst.

Jim, as I mentioned, and as viewers know from these type of situations, sadly, we do cover them as the ongoing public health crisis of guns in America. This is a breaking story. There`s much we don`t know yet. What do you see from the little that is available?

JIM KAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, I see Boulder police did a pretty good job here, because the reports were that the suspect fired on the patrol officers when they arrived at the supermarket.

I don`t think NBC has confirmed, but there`s reports, news reports about an AR-15 rifle and body armor. We will see if that holds true.

A lot of times, these guys are suicidal. So, what the law enforcement is going to have to do, Ari, is go back to his home`s car, sweep for bombs, and see if there`s any other victims. When somebody is out in the public shooting like that, sometimes, domestic violence starts to thing, and there`s people shot or murdered at home.

So they have got to sweep explosives in the car, sweep for explosives at his residence, and then check for any other victims. And they are going to be doing that pretty rapidly.


And what we`re seeing in some of the reports -- and, again, we`re not -- I`m looking at some of our materials, but we`re not repeating anything until we have full confirmations.

But when authorities look at this, how do they figure it out -- based on the public information, as well as what they have on the scene, what do they know about and how do they secure the area? What do they know about whether it`s one shooter, or how do they determine or confirm security on the site?

KAVANAUGH: The on-scene commander gets all the patrol officers, calls in SWAT. And SWAT does a sweep of the whole supermarket, adjacent parking lots and buildings. They got to find if there`s any other shooters. They got to find if there`s any explosive devices, and they got to find his vehicle or accomplices.

So, they`re sweeping. They`re doing all that. They`re probably still doing it, because SWAT will take an ever wider circle. They have got to locate. They have got to isolate. They have got to evacuate. And they got to eliminate the threat.

And if he`s the only guy, that`s already been done, but they don`t know that yet. So, good police practices, good SWAT commanders, on-scene commanders, they`re going to be sweeping an ever-widening perimeter until they`re sure.

And, also, detectives and bomb squad officers are going to be going to his residence, which may be who knows where, Ari? I mean, it could be in the city, in another county or even another state. And so there`s going to be law enforcement spinning up, state police, the federales, I mean, ATF, FBI are going to be all spun up helping out and trying to make sure there`s no accomplices, nobody else doing anything that might be trying to kill somebody.

Is this just a guy copycatting the hate crime, the vicious hate crime in Atlanta? And it is a hate crime, by the way, and we should be all saying it publicly, whether or not the prosecutors charge it. There`s more than enough probable cause to charge it. They may not charge it because they don`t think they have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to win a case like that.

But it is probably, and probable cause, a hate crime targeting those Asian spas.

But is this guy just a copycat shooter for just vulgar violence? Or is he targeting certain people? I mean, who is he wanting to kill? There`s a lot to be known that we got to find out this evening about this.

MELBER: And, Jim, I have to ask you, do you have video return?

Are you seeing what we`re seeing in our overhead video or not?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, I`m seeing it.

MELBER: So, just wanted to confirm that before I have you analyze it.

I mean, what do you see in the significance of the way that the scene looks there? Because we saw the overhead camera footage of what looks like an individual being loaded into an ambulance. We have -- again, we`re not -- NBC News not confirming yet who that individual is. But you have that individual going in.

And you had what looked like police. Again, I`m curious what your law enforcement expertise says. But the police at that juncture looked relatively calm. For example, this is the file footage we`re replaying.

They`re walking an individual out there. There are some police that have guns drawn, but it does not look, at least to the layperson`s eyes, like they`re in an active mode anymore outside. They look -- it looked almost calm, if you could say that.

But your thoughts on what we`re seeing on playback?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, I think -- yes, exactly.

I mean, I think this area, they believe, is secure. This may be the shooter. We don`t know. It looks like he`s handcuffed. This is someone certainly they have arrested. And it may be the shooter. He has just shorts, pants on, looks like no shirt. We don`t know if that`s the shooter. That could be somebody they come across. They don`t know.

He doesn`t -- they don`t know what he did or what he was. There was a man, a husband of one of the victims in Atlanta. Ari, who was handcuffed for a number of hours after that massacre down there. The police don`t know who the killer could be.

And so there`s someone there. They don`t know. They secure them. They`re trying to keep everybody safe. They`re trying to sort out the mess. But, yes, this area here, this outer perimeter here is secure as far as the on- scene commanders are -- know.

That`s why they`re letting their officers operate that way. And they`re operating with this guy. They probably have a pretty good feeling he`s the lone actor. I mean, I think that`s probably what we`re -- we can surmise that they don`t believe there`s a second person.

But, now, they will still be searching. They will still be sweeping. They will still be checking. But they may feel like this is probably the one actor, if it`s that man or another man. We don`t know. We don`t know if it`s this man.

MELBER: Understood.

And the final question in this report, and we`re going to keep an eye on this as we get readouts from authorities. The question is, what should people expect from here under the way they do this, Jim, if -- as you say, we have not identified who this individual is, but they -- look to be an individual under arrest, under some distress.

There was some marking on the leg. Hard to make out from this view exactly what it was. And they have loaded them into the ambulance. What else will be happening in the minutes and hours ahead?

KAVANAUGH: Well, as I discussed, the bomb squads, the detectives are sweeping the area.

But good professional police practice is a good early public statement to assure the public what`s going on. If they think there`s -- know there`s one shooter, tell the public there`s one shooter. They got to notify the next of kin if there`s any deceased or wounded. So, if they have to set up a family center there, they need to, so people can come and talk to the officers directly about family members who could have been killed or injured.

And they need to tell the public what`s going on. If they have a charge on the guy, put it out early. He`s charged with X. Let the public know. That`s how you allay the fears.

And if there`s other things they need help from the public, it`s to get out there early, leverage the public, who wants to help the police. I mean, it`s the strongest thing the police have, just like I know you were covering the Capitol riots. The FBI is putting out all those insurrectionists and putting their pictures out.

Leverage the help you`re going to get when a crime like this happens in the community. Everybody wants to help you. Leverage it. Get out early, get the information, get it tamped down, and keep everybody safe. That`s what they got to do, if they`re operating quick.

If they delay the presser for too long, they lose that momentum. The public is interested. They want to help, so get out there fast.

MELBER: Longtime ATF agent Jim Kavanaugh, who`s been with us on many of these types of stories, thank you for your expertise.

We`re monitoring the reports of the active shooter in Boulder, Colorado. We`re keeping an eye on what we can learn from authorities. We have our local reporters on it. So, this is what we know right now. And we will update tonight on THE BEAT, as well as across MSNBC, when we learn more about that incident.

Our coverage continues now. In fact, a guest that I mentioned earlier in the program, we`re thrilled to have on tonight is Congressman James Clyburn. Now, he`s one of the most high-ranking Democrats in Washington. He`s also known for that big role that he did play in reenergizing Joe Biden`s 2020 campaign after Biden came in fifth in New Hampshire.

Well, now Clyburn appears to be spending some of his own political capital by pushing Democrats to play hardball, if needed, to break through Mitch McConnell`s obstruction and reforming the rules, if that`s what it takes to protect fundamental rights, D.C. member of House leadership, joins me now.

And, for context, everyone, here is what Congressman Clyburn has been saying.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I didn`t march in the streets and spent nights in jail as a young man to find myself fighting the same battles generations later.

The Senate must eliminate the 60-vote threshold to end the filibuster on voting rights and civil rights legislation.


MELBER: And, as promised, Congressman Clyburn joins us now.

Thanks for being here, sir.

CLYBURN: Well, thank you very much for having me.

MELBER: Congressman, this seems important to you. It seems personal.

And I don`t have to remind viewers, although I did, the link that you have with President Biden. Tell us what you`re advocating right now.

CLYBURN: Well, you know, Ari, the discussion about the filibuster has been going on for a long, long time, over a century.

The fact of the matter is, the filibuster came into being in the early 1900s. And it was supposed to be to extend debate, to protect the rights of the minority. And that`s fine, if you`re extending the debate.

But if you are using the technicality of a 60-vote rule to sit in your office somewhere or maybe go on vacation, and put a hold on somebody or something, that, to me, is a big, big problem.

Now, when Strom Thurmond set the filibuster record, he was on the floor over 27 hours, standing on the floor, extending the debate. That`s fine.

But what we`re doing now is stopping fundamental constitutional rights. To have one person, for instance -- I will call his name -- Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who`s already demonstrated to us what he really thinks about people of color, when he would not be as threatened by insurrectionists, but would be threatened about people of color if they are demonstrating on the Capitol grounds.

You think that guy is going to relent and allow people of color to have their constitutional voting rights, their civil rights? No.

So, why should we empower these kind of people if they should get elected to office?

So, that`s what has got me a little bit miffed, when we sit here and say that someone`s constitutional right to have an unfettered vote is threatened, we are going to allow that to continue with a filibuster. No, that cannot be.

MELBER: It seems to me you`re speaking very clearly, sir, here with two points.

It`s not even about debate when it`s being abused this way. And how much power should Democrats allow people who are going to demagogue and attack the hard-earned voting rights of regular people in this nation?

With that in mind, can you give us a window into, have you discussed this recently with the president, or will you?

CLYBURN: Well, I have not discussed it with the president, but I have discussed it with some of the president`s people.

I do believe that the president has got a whole lot to do. He doesn`t need to be talking to me.


CLYBURN: But the people who are helping him to carry out his agenda, I do talk to some of them. And I would hope that they would understand.

I have got children. I have got grandchildren. I don`t want my grandchildren fighting the same battles that I fought as a teenager, along with John Lewis and many others, going to jail, trying to get the right to vote.

And here we are all of a sudden going to have someone stand up and says, no, your vote won`t count. All you got to do is look at what happened in 2020. They were not challenging the votes in white precincts. Fulton County. Georgia. They`re out there in -- up there in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Detroit, Michigan, challenging the votes in African-American precincts.

So, we know what they`re doing. And I cannot see us standing idly by and say we are going to respect the rights of the majority -- of the minority. It is a minority of the voters that is causing the problem.

So, we`re going to respect the rights of the minority that`s trying to prevent the majority from voting? I don`t think so. Let`s think about what we are saying here.

So, when anybody says I got to look out for my minority voters, I`m going to ask you, aren`t I a minority voter?


I mean, look, you speak very clearly, sir. I will tell you, some of these politicians, some senators, it`s hard to follow sometimes what they`re even saying about the parliamentarian thicket. You have really boiled it down. I think viewers can hear what you`re saying about whether this is going to be fair or not.

I want to put to you what Mitch McConnell says, because, notwithstanding all the arguments you just made, the Republican leader says, careful what you wish for, he will make it even worse if you went through with this reform to end the abuse of these obstruction tactics.

Take a listen to Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched earth Senate would look like.


MELBER: Congressman, he seems to be saying if they do what you`re calling for, he will burn the place down, scorch it.

Your response, sir.

CLYBURN: Well, I seem to recall a summer known as Mississippi Burning.

If that`s what he`s talking about -- and I mentioned that on the floor on Friday. We are talking about fundamental voting rights. If you want to extend debate on an issue, a legislative issue, then that`s fine.

But we`re talking about people`s right to vote. That is what is at question here, having your votes counted, having someone pass a law that says you cannot vote on Sunday. You cannot have Souls to the Polls anymore. You cannot give someone water who`s standing in line to vote.

You have got lines 10 and 12 hours` long. Someone gets thirsty, it`s going to be a crime if I give them a bottle of water? That`s the kind of foolishness that`s going on down there in Georgia and they`re going in other places as well.

And so we`re going to say, when we try to find a cure for that at the federal level, we are going to let that be filibustered by those people who are sensitive to that kind of obnoxious laws being passed in a state.

Look, we have only 50 Democrats. There are two Democrats who said they`re against the filibuster for this. But there -- I know two Democrats who made up the 50 that will suffer if we allow this to happen, and they won`t be in office any longer. We all know that.

So, it is time for us to just say, we are not going to allow a filibuster to deny basic constitutional rights like voting.


And when you put it on that plank and that focus, which you and Stacey Abrams and Warnock have discussed, it would seem to be much harder for anyone to honestly oppose that, because it goes to whether we have a democracy for all or not.

Congressman Clyburn, good to see you again, sir. I hope you will come back on THE BEAT.

CLYBURN: Look forward to it. Thank you very much for having me.

MELBER: Thank you.

Up ahead, we have an important story on labor tonight with a special expert.

And we will have more of the breaking news coverage with police on the scene of this reported active shooter in Boulder, Colorado.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Breaking news.

We`re now awaiting a formally scheduled police press conference that will occur in Boulder, Colorado. This is after, as we have been reporting, an apparent shooting at a grocery store. Police are calling it still a -- quote -- "active scene." They`re instructing people to avoid the area.

No official word on anything about injuries or deaths yet. We don`t have confirmed information that. Initial reports did state that an individual opened fire in the parking lot and, when police arrived on the scene, they were firing on the officers, that individual.

So, we do have those reports of shots fired and exchanged. We were reporting on this. And moments ago, we did see through our camera footage someone being put into an ambulance. I want to note what we said at the time. NBC News still cannot confirm that person`s identity, that is to say, the role they may or may not have played in any of the incident.

We just have the footage. Our reporters are working on it. And, as mentioned, MSNBC will be bringing further coverage of this as we learn anything from authorities in the moments ahead.

Now, up ahead tonight on THE BEAT: There have been reports of these soaring profits during the pandemic, especially for tech companies. Now there are calls for a greater reckoning.

Bernie Sanders and others saying there are ways to fix a big problem. And we have a very special guest next.


MELBER: Turning to one of the biggest stories in pandemic America that you don`t always hear about, a new focus on how Amazon treats its workers, those who make Jeff Bezos so rich.

And the issue has been even more important during a pandemic, when people need a mobile economy. Senator Sanders arguing this situation underscores something wrong, not only with Amazon the company, but how the entire economy runs.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): The wealthiest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, has become $77 billion richer during this horrific pandemic, while denying hundreds of thousands of workers who work at Amazon paid sick leave and hazard pay.


MELBER: And this isn`t just some sort of debate in Washington, Amazon workers in Alabama fighting to unionize, while the company opposes it.


SANDERS: Mr. Bezos, you are worth $182 billion. You`re the wealthiest person in the world. Why are you doing everything in your power to stop your workers in Bessemer, Alabama, from joining a union?


MELBER: Let`s get into it.

We`re thrilled to have a special guest on this exact topic. Alec MacGillis covers politics for ProPublica. His book, brand-new, is "Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America."

Thanks for being here.

ALEC MACGILLIS, PROPUBLICA: Thank you, Ari. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: We wanted to talk to you because you have been looking so deeply at this. Amazon touches so many people`s lives. Anyone can see, that level of billions against evictions and against food lines, there seems to be something off.

Is that the right way to look at this or not?

MACGILLIS: It is a good way to look at this, there`s no question.

I mean, when I started working on this book a few years ago, I had no idea that it would be so topical now, that we`d be coming out of a year where Amazon would have grown so much more,. It`s really hard for us to grasp just how profitable this past year was for the company, when we were all -- so many of us were (AUDIO GAP) laptop.

The company`s sales up 40 percent, Bezos` wealth up $58 billion, $70 billion over the year, depending on how you count it, the stock way up, hundreds of thousands more employees hired.

They did get an extra couple dollars early in the pandemic, sort of a bump that they got early for a month or two there. But that was then taken away.

And now we have this extraordinary union fight. And this is really -- it`s hard to overstate just how huge the stakes are right now in Alabama, that there`s actually now, for the first time, a big election at an Amazon warehouse.

These jobs, these Amazon jobs, really are kind of the new mass work force in America. This is where so many people now going to work. No longer is it the steel mill or the mall job. Now it`s these jobs.

And they`re not as well-paid as the steel jobs were, and they`re much more taxing, physically taxing, than the retail jobs were. If we can sort of lift up these jobs, and how much they`re paid, and what the conditions are in these jobs, it would make a big difference for (AUDIO GAP) Americans.


And some companies say, well, we deliver this low-cost service that`s so critical. Everyone used it this last year, so, what are you complaining about?

But when you see the tens of billions, it seems like Mr. Bezos, who now says he wants to do more charity, could green-light unionization or union- style support for his employees and still turn a hearty profit, no?

MACGILLIS: It is hard to look at it at those gains, the $58 billion, $60 billion year gains for this one person, and think that they can`t afford a little bit more.

But this is actually -- this is about more than -- really more than just the added pay that might come from a union election in Alabama. It`s also about really just the say that workers are going to have in these warehouses. These warehouses are incredibly regimented. There`s incredibly high productivity expectations.

That`s why they`re so difficult, these jobs. That`s why they have such high turnover. So, for workers to get that kind of say, that kind of voice at the table, that`s also something that company, it`s very resistant to.

It will really kind of change the whole way that these warehouses are run if you also now have this other voice at the table demanding to be heard.

MELBER: Yes, I think you laid that out.

This is obviously just a sliver of Alex`s book. And when we think about journalism, when we think about holding the powerful accountable, it`s important to support and check out some of these important books, which is why we`re spotlighting them.

So, Alec, I want to remind people, the book is "Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America."

You can check it out for yourself. You can buy it online or at a local bookstore.

Alec, thank you, sir.

We will be back with one more thing.


MELBER: An update on a story we have been monitoring.

We are now awaiting a police press conference after the shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

Moments ago, we got some of the first public words from a witness describing what he saw.


QUESTION: How many bodies did you -- people did you see, victims did you see outside?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I only saw three victims.

QUESTION: Two outside?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two outside and one directly inside.

QUESTION: So, tell me what`s going through your mind as you`re seeing all this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, there`s no doubt in my mind. I understood what was happening. It was an active shooter situation.

I didn`t know what type of active shooter, if it was an employee or a customer or what it was. So, I didn`t really have time to think, really, more than that.

QUESTION: Could you believe you were seeing what you were seeing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I mean, I wouldn`t have believed it if I hadn`t seen it and heard it myself.


MELBER: A witness on site in Boulder, Colorado.

MSNBC will keep monitoring the situation.

The coverage continues now with "THE REIDOUT."