President Biden`s COVID relief plan heads to the House of
Representatives after passing the Senate. A GOP mayor explains why he`s for
the COVID relief plan. A top Georgia Republican is boycotting the debate
over an anti-voting bill. The officer charged in the death George Floyd is
set to begin trial. GOP infighting pits Republicans in a money war.
Director Shaka King and H.E.R. discuss their new film, "Judas and the Black
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much.
Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And we`re kicking off a big week here in news and in America,
President Biden starting with this big win on COVID relief, one of the most
far-reaching recovery programs in the modern era.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL BEGALA, CNN: This is an enormous win for Joe Biden ask Kamala Harris.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): What they call -- quote -- "the most
progressive domestic legislation in a generation."
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): One of the most sweeping federal recovery
efforts in history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The expansion of the child tax credit, that`s going
to cut in half childhood poverty in this country.
ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: It
demonstrates that government once again is working for the people.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): The bill as amended, is passed.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s what it sounds like.
And, today, President Biden back out at work touring a medical center
distributing vaccines to veterans. The landmark bill is, of course, the
first major legislative victory of the Biden era, about $2 trillion. the
House expected to vote on Wednesday. They are racing, so it will get
President Biden`s signature before any unemployment benefits would expire
It includes these $1,400 stimulus checks, extends unemployment benefits
$300 through September, another $50 billion for loans for struggling small
businesses around the nation, 14-B for vaccine distribution, a large
program that supports children. More on that part tonight.
And these checks are slated to be in the mail by the end of the month.
That`s what they call news you can use, relief coming amidst new progress
on containing COVID as well, 31 million Americans as of tonight fully
vaccinated; 59 million have one dose with one to go.
The rate, meanwhile, increasing as a third vaccine comes into play, you can
see. Indeed, the U.S. hit a record 2.9 million vaccines in a single day
just right here on Saturday. The results can be seen as well in what is now
a precipitous fall since the peak of COVID in early January, when the U.S.
was hitting about a quarter-million cases a day.
Now cases falling over 10 percent in the last two weeks. The same goes with
the grim death rate. It is now down 10 percent over the last two weeks. And
then this part is key, the number of hospitalizations over the last two
weeks crashing 29 percent.
President Biden has drawn many different contrasts with the last president,
including a willingness to deal directly with these deaths, with the tough
news, regardless of how it might play politically.
President Biden marked COVID deaths at that somber ceremony that we all
lived through. The last president would avoid or downright lie about this
kind of bad news. And now Biden aides say he will summon this ongoing
credibility he`s building for what they see as a partially good news
address this coming Thursday night, when President Biden will mix some of
that encouraging data I just shared with you, along with his argument that
Americans need to have resolve in the next phase going forward.
Thursday, when it is marked, will be America`s one-year anniversary of when
this pandemic was declared a national emergency.
Let`s get right into it right now. We are joined by Cornell Belcher, a
pollster for President Obama and MSNBC political analyst, and welcoming
back to THE BEAT Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for "The
Good to have you both here.
Cornell, I wonder your view on this split aspect. No matter how good the
news is, we all know what we`re living through. We know that
hospitalization and death continues. So, in no way does any responsible
leader spike a football. And yet you want people to get around the corner
by saying, help is on the way, money is on the way, and if you keep doing
the right things, the end of the pandemic may be on the way.
CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Despite a lot of history,
Americans want to be optimistic about the future.
And I think the president gives them the real, but also a sense that we`re
beginning to turn the corner on this. And, look, all the polling data that
I see is that Americans really want to get back to normal. They want their
And it seems as though we have a professional adult once again in the White
House who`s just simply doing the work. He`s not tweeting. He`s not picking
fights. He is not calling names. He`s just doing the work of government and
making work -- making government competent again, right?
It`s make America great again. Joe Biden is making government competent
again, and we`re working for the American people. And there is a sense that
we are beginning to turn a corner, and Americans are getting more
Now, we got to tamp that down, because Americans can get out of control.
But there is a sense that it`s going to be morning in America again.
MELBER: Cornell Belcher coming in with the Reagan.
MELBER: Before I go to Joan, Cornell, you just said something that is
straightforward, but is worth reflecting on, I believe, which is that the
work, when the work is good, you don`t need to tweet as much.
Makes me think of a Jamaican saying that Collie Buddz and others have used
on Wax, which is good work doesn`t have to advertise. When the work is good
enough. it doesn`t even need to advertise itself.
And I`m wondering, as a pollster -- and you have advised, of course, the
Obama/Biden White House. Now we`re in the Biden/Harris White House. What
does it mean when you see $2 trillion coming and the numbers that they`re
not actually having to promote, necessarily, if people are going to just
get the checks and get the reality?
BELCHER: Well, I hate to bring politics in it, but I will, because you
know I`m your resident political hack.
BELCHER: But when you -- when the government is impacting millions of
Americans in a real way, because government doesn`t really impact millions
of Americans in a daily way.
But when you`re getting a stimulus check that you desperately need from the
government, when you are getting rent assistance that so many unemployed
and working families need, when you`re getting extension of unemployment,
these are concrete actions that Joe Biden is delivering for you in a way
that, quite frankly, we haven`t seen a president deliver since perhaps FDR.
JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION": I agree with Cornell.
I mean, I think this is momentous. I don`t think we have seen anything like
this certainly since the Great Society. It might go back to FDR. And I
think it`s -- it relates to FDR, because what Biden and the Democrats have
done is begin to rebuild the opportunity structure that the New Deal put in
place in the `30s and `40s that built a middle class.
It consciously, deliberately left out a lot of black people, people of
color. But these are the building blocks of new ladders of opportunity for
working people, low-income people, middle-class people. And I think it`s a
I don`t think they should spike the football, Ari, because I agree with
Cornell. People really enjoy good news, and they want to be optimistic. So
I think there`s a balancing act. But, so far, Biden`s played it really
I think that you can`t -- he learned from the Obama administration, in some
ways, that you do have to blow your own horn, and you do have to explain to
people what -- what you`re doing and why it`s making a difference. And you
can combine that realism about, hey, we saw Dr. Walensky today: We`re not
out of the woods. Don`t take off your masks. Don`t go to bars. Don`t go
But I think -- last thing on this -- I think that that message, actually,
in some ways, helped people postpone gratification, right? It`s like, OK,
I`m not going to take off my mask, because we`re getting closer. So, I
think you can give some good news and still have realism, and that you add
them together, and I think you have got a recipe to continue doing the
things we need to do.
Joan, I want to bring you in on something that you have written about in
multiple forums, books and articles and progressive social policy, which is
sometimes treated in Washington as either, obviously -- obviously
unaffordable or just some sort of -- quote, unquote -- "liberal pipe
And Joe Biden, to be clear, earlier in his Senate career was not known as a
leader on some of this stuff. But he`s now committed to supporting and
signing it, which means it`s going to be real.
I want to get your analysis for viewers on something you know a bit about,
which is the long-term push for better family support, including working in
poor families and reading from coverage of the new bill and the stimulus
bill. They call it in "The Times" a -- quote -- "policy revolution" in aid
for children, guaranteed income for families with children. It`s like
children`s allowances that are common in other basically center-left,
industrialized, rich democracies.
Quote: "More than 93 percent of children, 69 million people in America
would receive these benefits under the plan." The one-year cost is big,
Joan, a 100-B, $100 billion, with Democrats, especially liberal Democrats,
saying the goal is to get this done now, which they are, and then make it
permanent, so there`s long-term support for families in America.
Huge deal. Your thoughts.
WALSH: Huge deal.
I mean, $3,000 a year to $3,600 if you have small kids per kid, Ari, I
think it`s huge. And you`re right to say that this is fundamental in other
advanced Western, rich, wealthy countries. But it does feel like the COVID
nightmare has made Americans see what government can do.
The Trump administration made it -- made us all see what it could do in a
bad way, tearing apart families at the border, but also the total
incompetence and lying about handling this challenge.
So, it`s a great opportunity for Joe Biden. And I think it`s also important
that he said we`d rather go big than go too small. So, I think that that
"Times" piece was mind-blowing. That 93 percent number is hugely important.
And I hope we can continue it. It is only for one year. So it`s possible
it`ll be clawed back.
But, right now, as long as the Republicans are debating Dr. Seuss and Mr.
Potato Head, they don`t seem to have any appetite for policy, because they
don`t really have policies. They have racism and resentment.
But so there`s not a lot of pushback, but there will be over time. But I
hope, as well as pushback, there`s real excitement about what this is doing
for families. I think it`s really, really innovative and really important.
MELBER: Yes, I think that you make really, really key points here, Joan.
And for all of us and viewers who track this, a stand-alone program just to
help working families and poor and low-income families, especially who are
struggling, no fault of their own, in the pandemic, we all know,
politically, that stand-alone plank might be harder to pass, might be hard
to even get a floor vote in both chambers, if it were filibustered.
And yet here, as part of this fast action, with only 51 votes needed, it`s
now passing, which means yes, it`s democracy. And it`s a huge deal for
Cornell, I did want to bring in something when we talk about policy. Amidst
all this Lindsey Graham, to give credit, where it`s due, he has now stepped
up and is engaging in a serious way about the policy issues.
Just kidding. No, that doesn`t happen.
MELBER: That hasn`t happened in a long time.
But I will -- as our as our political expert, I will have you take a swing
on the Republican side where Lindsey Graham has been talking about Trump
magic and the dark side, while John McCain`s widow has been pushing back.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): There`s something about Trump. There`s a dark
side, and there`s some magic there. And what I`m trying to do is just
harness the magic.
CINDY MCCAIN, WIDOW OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I just don`t believe that our
party can survive by appealing to the dark side of humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Cornell, there`s so many ways to go, but I give you the floor for
the magic. Tell us about the magic.
BELCHER: The magic is racism, I guess.
BELCHER: I don`t know what the magic is. The magic is, the Republican
brand is worse off now than it was when George Bush left it.
Certainly, you had a bigger tent party, the Republican Party, than it is
right now. And you have got someone who was defeated as sitting President.
Joe Biden garnered more votes than anyone else has in defeating him. They
lost the Senate. And they lost the House.
The kind of magic that he`s sprinkling around, I got to tell you, if you`re
a Democrat, you got you got to like it. And the more he is the face of the
Republican Party, I think the harder it becomes for them to win back those
suburban women that they desperately need to win back.
MELBER: All fair points, especially on the politics.
WALSH: I think Donald Trump...
MELBER: Go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: I think that Donald Trump harnessed Lindsey Graham a long time ago,
so we don`t really need to listen to his analysis.
And so I agree with Cornell. It`s going to be very hard. All they have
really got, honestly, is voter suppression and gerrymandering, and I`m
afraid of both those things. We really can`t be complacent. But in terms of
appealing to the electorate we have now. They`re going the wrong way. And a
lot of them know it.
MELBER: Yes. And I think...
BELCHER: The magic of racism is the takeaway from this segment.
MELBER: Well, there you go, Cornell giving us phrases.
And I do think that, when someone speaks for a living, Lindsey Graham may
pretend to be something else, but he`s a talented lawyer. He was a judge
advocate general. He`s fine with his words. This many years in, when we
know that, again, everything Cornell just said, the old Lindsey Graham used
to say, because he called Donald Trump a -- quote -- "bigot."
BELCHER: Yes. Right.
MELBER: He then was able to stand up to it, which makes it all the more
indicting that now he`s reduced to wordless. Defending someone that you
used to call a bigot is now giving magic that you can`t quite explain
what`s so great about it, yes, it speaks for itself.
MELBER: I want to thank Joan Walsh.
BELCHER: And attacked John McCain, his best friend, so I don`t know.
BELCHER: Oh, yes.
I want to thank Joan Walsh for being back on THE BEAT. We will be seeing
more of you. Great to have you.
Cornell comes back later this hour on some other interesting polling.
We have our shortest break, 30 seconds.
Later tonight, we have a GOP mayor who`s going to explain why he`s for one
thing Biden`s doing.
Coming up: the anti-voting bill so bad, a top Republican is boycotting the
And why is racketeering coming up in a new Trump case? Neal Katyal -- when
we`re back in just 30 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The legacy of the marched in
Selma is that, while nothing can stop free people from exercising their
most sacred power as a citizen, there are those who will do anything they
can to take that power away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: President Biden speaking on the Bloody Sunday anniversary,
addressing some of this new, sprawling, nationwide attack on voting rights.
One place we`re seeing it is in Georgia. The Republican-controlled state
Senate has passed a bill that would roll back voting rights. Provisions
include limits on absentee voting, eliminating what`s called no-excuse
absentee voting. The bill has been so dogged by controversy that now the
number two Republican official in the state, lieutenant governor, is
actually boycotting the session, refusing to oversee the debate, saying he
opposes all of this.
It`s happening in large part for rank partisan reasons. This is important.
Georgia famously went blue in both the presidential election and the Senate
run-offs. And it was Georgia that gave Democrats the majority needed to
pass the other big thing in America right now, the COVID checks that are on
their way to your household in the stimulus bill.
Georgia is also, of course, ground zero for another reason. It`s a place
where former President Trump was caught abusing his power, trying to get a
top elections official to -- quote -- "find him votes" he didn`t get.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to find
11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.
Why wouldn`t you want to find the right answer, Brad, instead of keep
saying that the numbers are right? Because those numbers are so wrong.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: That was not OK. That was not normal then. And just sweeping it
under the rug risks normalizing it now.
It`s very important that the country keep that in mind. Donald Trump is
facing a criminal investigation in Georgia for that call and other things
for a reason, because election interference is still illegal.
Now there are new reports that one of the country`s top racketeering
prosecutors has been enlisted to support that very Trump probe. This is
important stuff, as I mentioned, with some interesting developments.
And we think we have the perfect expert to get into all of this.
Neal Katyal is here right after the break.
MELBER: Welcome back.
We`re joined by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, with new
heat on Donald Trump in Georgia.
And my first question is simple, Neal. Trump, Georgia, racketeering, go.
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, look, I`m glad Mr. Trump
has finally found his footing. Defendant in a racketeering case is just
about the only job that`s appropriate for him these days.
And what`s happened in Georgia over the last couple of days, Ari, is that
they have hired an outside prosecutor, an expert in racketeering, John
Floyd, who literally wrote the book on prosecuting state racketeering.
And the district attorney there, Ms. Willis, already has a good deal of
experience in prosecuting racketeering cases. It`s not surprising that this
news is coming. She had said on February 10 in a letter that everyone needs
to preserve their documents because of a racketeering investigation.
And so that`s what`s going on right now. Racketeering means that there
could be some pretty serious criminal charges if charges are brought.
MELBER: Let me read from some of the reporting, Neal, Reuters saying if
Trump engaged in two or more acts that involve these false statements, you
could piece together a violation of the Racketeering Act.
And I`m curious what you think, given the equities here. He is not above
the law. He`s a citizen right now. But prosecutors talk a lot about having
the goods to get 12 people to a guilty verdict. Do you think that that
normal standard is best to apply here?
Or do you think, under the rule of law, if the evidence is strong enough,
but there is real world hesitance in a political, polarized environment
about what a jury would do, should a prosecutor lean towards following the
evidence or following the jury issues, which I think even you would
acknowledge may be real in any state, particularly some states?
KATYAL: Ari, you have got to follow the evidence every time. Nobody can be
above the law. You can`t have a separate standard of justice for some
people who are just too difficult to prosecute or something like that.
And racketeering is often really about violent crimes, like murder or
kidnapping, but Georgia defines it more broadly, to include false
statements made to state officials.
And, here, Trump does have a defense. What he`s going to say is, hey, I
wasn`t falsifying information. I genuinely believed that I had won the
Now, ordinarily, that kind of defense wouldn`t pass the smell test. But
when you`re dealing with delusion of grandeur Donald, maybe he`s got a
defense there. And that`s what Floyd and Willis are going to find out. And,
notably, the investigation here is not just about Trump. It`s also about
Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, the former U.S. attorney Mr. Byung Pak, and
And any of those folks can flip on Trump. And I have heard you in the last
segment talking about Lindsey Graham, and why is he still palling around
with Donald Trump? Well, one shouldn`t rule out the fact that he might be -
- rule out the possibility that he might be palling around with Donald
Trump because he`s hoping Trump will let something slip that Lindsey Graham
can use in exchange for a deal.
MELBER: All very interesting.
And it`s so important to stay on these cases, given what already went down
in the public realm. I want to thank Neal Katyal.
You can always go to MSNBC.com/openingarguments for Neal`s breakdowns,
which we appreciate.
We`re turning now to a legal case that, as a legal matter, Neal actually is
not commenting on because he has actually been named special prosecutor.
And that is the jury selection in the trial, the murder trial of Derek
Chauvin, is expected to begin tomorrow.
That`s the former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree
unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George
Floyd. There is also a potential third-degree murder charge that might be
We also got a look at the jury selection questionnaire, which asked jurors
about a range of issues, including, do they have a favorable or unfavorable
view of BLM, or do they support defunding police?
We`re going to stay on that story. We have a related update on it later in
Right now, after the break, GOP infighting pitting Republicans in a money
war and a Republican mayor now telling Republicans in Washington just get
behind Biden`s stimulus, it works and it`s needed in the community, our
special guest next.
MELBER: How do you know President Biden`s sweeping COVID relief package is
turning into a big deal and a big win?
Well, some of his conservative opponents are whining. And supposed master
Senate tactician Mitch McConnell has been reduced to just offering
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS: Do you believe that these checks prevent some
people from wanting to work? Do you believe that?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, there is a concern about making it more
advantageous to stay home, and -- rather than going back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
There are plenty of legitimate debates about government benefits and the
size of government, and we should have them honestly with respect for all
sides. But nobody seriously thinks that people are staying home this year
because they want to.
Just about everybody wants to get out of the house to work or really do
anything else. And this Biden COVID bill is on track for his signature this
-- sometime this week. It will give benefits to over 93 percent of children
in America, as we have been covering, and send out these direct checks.
But not a single Republican in the House or Senate has voted for the bill.
They`re not reflecting their own constituents, because so many Republican
voters support it, up to 59 percent in recent polling.
We`re no longer seeing a broken partisan attitude across the nation that
D.C. pundits said will control everything. Now, it is true there`s
partisanship in Washington, but this is America. We count up partisanship
like anything else, with all people being equal.
And outside of Washington, there`s a lot of people, including Republicans
who have legitimate views on other issues and other criticism of Joe Biden,
who still say, no, let`s get checks in people`s hands. Let`s recover this
And now 30 Republican mayors signing an open letter saying they too support
this important bill.
One of those Republican mayors joins me now. Jeff Williams is the mayor of
Arlington, Texas. Back with us is also former Obama pollster Cornell
Thanks to both of you.
Mr. Mayor, thanks for being here.
JEFF WILLIAMS (R), MAYOR OF ARLINGTON, TEXAS: Thank you, Ari. Good to be
MELBER: Tell us why you support the COVID bill here from the Biden
WILLIAMS: Ari, these are challenging times. And this pandemic has been
just like a natural disaster that we would have with a flood or an
earthquake. And people are needing emergency medical services.
And unlike a flood or an earthquake, it is still continuing. And it`s been
a year. And we are expending a lot of money and resources to be able to
take care of our people. And right now, we have put up a mass vaccination
center here in our city, in Arlington, that is helping to save lives by
getting this vaccination done, keep them at work, and then also to get them
And so that is some -- and our relief dollars really ran out in December.
They`re on -- but then, in addition to that, we have got businesses, and
especially small businesses, that really define cities, our mom-and-pop
restaurants, our neighborhood hardware stores that still need help.
And who better than a city to know where that help needs to go. And so
that`s a second thing. And then the third thing is that we have had major
budget cuts here in our community there as a result of the loss and
generally in tourism and shopping.
And yet we are still bracing for the loss in property tax revenue. And
other cities have lost income tax revenue there. And so, with all of those
three things there, we have an opportunity here to shorten this economic
recovery a lot by helping our communities there and, in turn, us able to
help our citizens and our businesses in places that the previous programs
have not been able to do.
And cities are so important in the mix of getting our people back on their
WILLIAMS: And so we are looking downward here to this opportunity and
being responsible with those dollars and making a difference.
MELBER: Yes. Well, Mr. Mayor, you lay it out, and it makes sense. It
doesn`t sound partisan, political one way or the other. You`re talking
about why, from an economic and health perspective, including the obviously
decimated local funding, this makes sense for you.
I just showed that a majority of Republican citizens around the country
also support this kind of relief, even if they may differ with other things
that Biden may back.
If a majority of Republican voters back this, if mayors like yourself in
the Republican Party back this, why zero members of the Republican
WILLIAMS: Well, I can`t speak for them, but I can say that so many of our
mayors have come out on both sides of the aisle because this is just the
right thing to do.
It`s not a red issue. It`s not a blue issue. It`s an American issue that we
have got to address. And we`re still hurting.
WILLIAMS: And, hopefully, we will be able to come out of this pandemic
stronger than we were before. And, definitely, we need help, just like we
would there in any other natural disaster.
Well, and, Mr. Mayor, I don`t know if you have ever met Cornell Belcher.
But I will go out on a limb and say he is less diplomatic than you,
although I appreciate all the relationships you have to keep for your city.
So, Cornell, I will put the same question to you, because there is a bit of
a tension here.
I`m wondering your thoughts.
Well, first, hats off to the mayor. And I think what the mayor symbolizes
is what -- the challenge that we face at the local level, where the real
work is getting done.
The mayor actually has to deliver for the people. Our members as a Congress
-- and I know the mayor can`t say, but our members of Congress, they just
talk a lot. But the mayor is going to get his head handed to him if he
doesn`t -- if he`s not delivering for the people, and you can`t play
politics with delivering for the people.
You got to play common sense and make things happen. I tell you, Ari, when
I sit in focus groups over the last five, six, seven years, and Americans
talk about why Washington -- Washington is broken, Washington doesn`t work,
this fully encapsulates what they`re talking about when they say Washington
is broken and Washington doesn`t work.
And they`re turning to local leaders like the mayor here and state
government to solve problems,, look, the word you`re looking for is
intransigent. And it is a political strategy.
And we saw Mitch McConnell and congressional Republicans do this under
Obama, when they said, basically, we want Obama to be a failed president.
He said what you`re not supposed to say out loud, because they think it`s
So, while they play politics in Washington, even with things that most
Americans want, their primary calculation here, unlike the mayor, Ari,
isn`t solving problems. It is politics, and what`s going to better position
me for power?
The mayor has to solve problems. In Congress, they basically have to --
they spend their time playing politics and trying to hold onto power. And I
think that explains a lot of the difference.
MELBER: Yes, and we`re going to be tracking this, particularly -- I`m
running over on time, Mayor. If you want a last word, I will give it to
I was going to say we`re going to track what people have to say when they
go back to their district and say, yes, we voted against these checks. We
voted against the family support.
But final word, Mayor Williams?
WILLIAMS: Well, our citizens are crying out for it, no doubt, and need
help. And it`s time. And then we also have seen our economists on both
And I will just quote the United States Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome
Powell, who said it is the right thing to be able to get direct fiscal
assistance here to our cities, and it will shorten the economic recovery.
So, we are looking forward to that and being a major help in American
cities for this recovery.
MELBER: I appreciate you coming on THE BEAT. I hope you will come back.
In this segment, when it comes to what people are going through, it`s not
our fancy Washington expert who gets the last word. It`s not another member
of the media. Mayor Williams gets the last word on this one.
My thanks to both of you for the dialogue.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
MELBER: I`m going to fit in a break.
We got a lot coming up in the hour -- yes, sir, thank you -- including a
new legal action against some Republican leaders and a money spat that
you`re going to have to hear to believe.
MELBER: The legal war between former President Trump and the Republican
Party is escalating to an absurd degree.
Trump just sent a legal cease-and-desist letter to Republican campaign
committees, telling them to legally halt any fund-raising that uses his
name or likeness.
This is all about the brand for Trump, even though the brand has been
tarnished and faces a lot of problems with its track record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m Donald Trump to
talk to you about the remarkable convenience of the Visa check card.
When it comes to great steaks, I have just raised the stakes.
And it`s a deal?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes, we eat the pizza the wrong way.
TRUMP: Crust first.
Oreo has rejected my bid, so we lick race for it right here, with Double
A Big N` Tasty for just $1, how do you do it? What`s your secret?
My new game is "Trump: The Game."
NARRATOR: Because it`s not whether you would win or lose. It`s whether you
MELBER: So, even as the Republican Party largely defends anything Donald
Trump did, including on January 6, he`s out here in public legally
demanding they not reference him in fund-raising.
Apparently, the idea is, don`t make any money off MAGA fans, because that`s
his thing. And, increasingly, that`s involved Donald Trump grifting off his
own fans. His super PAC raised $31 million at the end of last year alone.
He can use that money any way he wants. Much of it was in misleading
pitches about the election.
Meanwhile, House Leader McCarthy has been telling Donald Trump not to
attack Republicans who voted for his impeachment. Here`s how that went,
trying to ring up the register.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There`s only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect America
first Republican conservatives and in turn to make America great again. And
that`s through Save America PAC and DonaldJTrump.com.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This may be obvious to all of Donald Trump`s many critics, but
even if you`re a Trump fan or a MAGA supporter, what he`s doing legally
with the RNC and what he just said there is a reminder he doesn`t want
Republicans to even win elections with your money. He just wants your
Now, coming up: We have been reporting on developments in the George flood
case. We have a very special report and discussion on where this protest
movement is headed.
Wait until you see the guests. That`s coming up.
MELBER: Minnesota is preparing to put a police officer on trial for
murder, a rarity in the U.S. that came about because of the intense
pressure and undeniable evidence of the video of police slowly killing
That type of video challenged claims that the police only use force to
protect themselves. That has reinforced long-running arguments from civil
rights leaders about the idea that U.S. law enforcement does take sides and
does target black people and especially targets civil rights leaders.
It`s a big issue in the new HBO film "Judas and the Black Messiah," which
explores the brief rise of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and how many
conventional stories about him and Black Panthers` history in the U.S. tend
to downplay the extreme, legally dubious tactics used by FBI leader J.
Edgar Hoover across several presidential administrations.
Indeed, the very term black messiah is not some liberal revolutionary
rhetoric. It was Hoover`s phrase for what he viewed as a charismatic black
leader who might unify the civil rights effort with liberal activists and
other professionals to challenge that racist power structure.
Now, this new film is already drawing some major responses. "The New York
Times" asked if it`s Hollywood`s most radical film ever, and this is very
much a living history issue, viewing the Panthers experience through
today`s battles and featuring a new song by Grammy winning musician H.E.R.,
who made some big political waves you might have heard about with her
George Floyd anthem "I Can`t Breathe."
Floyd is another black man in America who is tragically honored in his
death, remembered for his death, a theme that Hampton explored before he
himself was tragically killed at 21.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL KALUUYA, ACTOR: You can murder a liberator, but you can`t murder
liberation. You can murder a revolutionary, but you can`t murder
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now is Grammy-winning singer and songwriter H.E.R.,
whose song "Fight For You" is featured in "Judas and the Black Messiah"
directed and written by Shaka King, who joins us as well.
Great to have you both here.
H.E.R., MUSICIAN: Great to be here. Thank you.
SHAKA KING, DIRECTOR: Thank you.
H.E.R., let me start with you.
What does it mean to you to have your song out with its message featured in
H.E.R.: Oh, I mean, it`s an honor.
The minute I got the call, I was really excited. It was also a learning
process for me. But this story, it was so well done, by the way, but the
story is such an important part of our black history. And I just wanted to
add to it, and I`m just honored to be part of it.
MELBER: And, Shaka, when people hear the term Black Panther, they have all
kinds of ideas and associations. People probably think they know a lot
What did you want to teach, in addition to perhaps excited or explain to
your storytelling? And is this film about the Black Panthers, or is it
about the government effort to stop them at any cost?
KING: Well, I think, ultimately, the film is about both.
One thing that was really important for us was, so many people across the
globe, but especially, I think, within the United States, have been just
fed a lot of propaganda about the Black Panther Party.
They have been labeled as terrorists. They have been labeled as racists,
when they were actually just community organizers. They were thinkers,
MELBER: And the film does a great job taking us into private moments and
scenes that we wouldn`t have necessarily in history or in journalism,
certainly wouldn`t have video of.
Let`s take a look -- and, H.E.R., I want to go to you on this with some of
the actual part of Fred Hampton we do have, the footage that does exist.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED HAMPTON, BLACK PANTHERS: So, we say -- we always say, the Black
Panther Party, that they can do anything they want to, to us. We might not
be back. I might be in jail. I might be anywhere.
But when I leave, you are going to remember I said, with the last words on
my lips, that I am a revolutionary. And you`re going to have to keep on
That you can jail a revolutionary, but you can`t jail a revolution. You
might murder a freedom fighter like Bobby Hutton, but you can`t murder
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: H.E.R., as many people know, your music deals with civil rights
today, but is built on some of these legacies. What does Fred Hampton, the
person, mean to you?
H.E.R.: It`s kind of crazy. When I watched this movie, I learned that he
was young. He was like 21 years old when he died. And that is such a
powerful message to people my age, of my generation, because, oftentimes,
we feel voiceless. And we feel like our voice doesn`t matter and that we
can`t do much.
And it`s the racism that quiets our voices, and it makes us feel like we
cannot create change. And I think 2020 has taught us a lot, but his story
and watching this film has taught us that it doesn`t matter how old you
are. It doesn`t matter where you come from. We all have so much power just
within our voices.
And I think people were definitely starting to speak out in 2020. But this
film is a continuation of that fight. And this film is a continuation of
just what we -- it`s putting that fire, it`s bringing that fire back into
us, especially as youth, to really create change, and that`s what I
appreciated so much.
But, for me, writing that song was a message to people, like we need to
continue the work of Fred Hampton, because, clearly, not much has changed
since he was speaking out against these things. Not much has really
changed. So it`s just very powerful, looking at how young he was, and it`s
our responsibility now to continue his work.
MELBER: I wonder, when you look, H.E.R., at the language, because these
ideas come from the language we get out of culture -- Barack Obama was
speaking the other day about why words and slurs are so bad not just
because of the obvious first order, but the wider way they dehumanize
people and make certain treatment seem more OK.
When you say to someone, well, don`t tell me you`re colorblind, right, this
is a kind of a way that people try to unhook themselves from a system
within which they benefit. And I`m sure people watching this -- Shaka`s
film might look at that era and say, whether they lived through or not in
America, well, they were working hard trying to go to school and take care
of their family. That doesn`t involve them.
So, my question to you, H.E.R., and then Shaka, is, how important is it
that these stories are told accurately or deeply in a way where people
realize, wait, of course, you`re involved, you can`t just unhook from the
parts of what other people do, if you`re in the system?
H.E.R.: Right. I believe in recognizing privilege and recognizing not only
where things lack, but where things are full.
And when you realize what`s been given, then you can understand -- when you
realize what you have been given, then it`s easier to empathize with people
who have had things taken away from them, if that makes sense.
KING: It`s damn near impossible to sacrifice your white privilege.
I don`t quite know what it looks like to do that. And so I don`t think that
it`s possible to do it for some individual. I think that you can take steps
to mitigate it, but I think, first to do that, you have to just own it,
which I think a lot of people, a lot of white people (INAUDIBLE) hesitant
to do, because they haven`t been forced to.
It`s all really good points, and particularly the portrayal in the film
gives people that window as well into the law enforcement side.
H.E.R., we`re speaking on International Women`s Day. We have some great,
fun footage we dug up when you were actually on "The Today`s Show" as a as
a girl yourself, 10 years old. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have got an amazing talent with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where did you get this voice?
H.E.R.: It just came out of nowhere, I guess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I had no idea. I had no idea...
MELBER: Well, H.E.R., you`re an inspiration to a lot of people around the
world, including young women and girls.
What do you say to girls and other young people out there who look at
someone like you and everything you`re doing now and think, wow, I wouldn`t
even know where to begin?
H.E.R.: Oh, man, well, first of all, as you can see, everything that`s
happening now didn`t just happen overnight. I have been doing music since I
could talk. And I have always loved. It`s always been a given.
And the main thing that has, I think, gotten me to the point I`m at now is
leading with passion, and always -- never dimming my light and always,
always moving with passion, moving with my heart and what I love. And that
is the music. The music is the foundation of everything that I do.
And any time anybody would discourage me from playing an instrument, or
doing my hair a certain way, or saying the things that I want to say, I
always said no to that. And I continue to stick to who it is I wanted to
And, yes, it took me far. So, never give up. Always trust the process.
But, man, that definitely -- that clip brings back memories.
H.E.R.: See, if I never learned "Boogie Oogie Oogie," I wouldn`t have been
able to come with that -- that baseline on "Fight For You."
H.E.R.: So, as you can see, everything comes from somewhere.
MELBER: I love it. It comes from somewhere. I love it. I love what you`re
telling everyone today, which is be yourself and don`t give up and don`t
dim your light.
So, happy International Women`s Day.
And thank you to H.E.R. and Shaka King.
KING: Thank you.
H.E.R.: Thank you so much.
KING: Thank you so much.
You can always engage with us @AriMelber on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook,
which brings me to a final point.
If there are projects or themes or issues that you`re interested in that
you think we should cover, you can always reach out there @AriMelber or
Tonight, if you have thoughts on International National Women`s, on
anything you just saw, on that film, go ahead and let us know. We will take
a look and maybe it`ll even make its way into the program.
Thank you for watching THE BEAT, as always.
"THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.
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