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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 3/9/21

Guest: Benjamin Crump, Chai Komanduri, Melissa Murray, Howard Dean, Libby Casey


The FBI releases new video on a pipe bomb suspect. The murder trial

begins for the officer who killed George Floyd. President Biden marches

towards a win on the landmark COVID relief bill. The best strategy for red

state Democrats is examined.



Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

We`re tracking several big stories right now, this growing manhunt, as the

FBI releases new video on pipe bombs planted outside both parties`

headquarters before the now infamous Capitol riot. The feds also charging a

man linked to longtime Trump associate Roger Stone. We have that story

later as well, as the murder trial that begins for the officer who killed

George Floyd. The family`s attorney joins me later in the hour.

We begin with the top story right now, President Biden marching towards a

win on this landmark relief bill, the House gearing up for a vote on the $2

trillion plan. So, it could get to the president`s desk as early as

tomorrow morning. That`s a big deal.

As a matter of calendaring, it would beat the Sunday deadline for renewing

programs for the jobless. Biden visited a hardware store that will benefit

from this kind of support today, and he contrasted this money and the way

he is going to deliver it, the new approach here, with discredited Trump

programs where some of the money went the people who just didn`t need it.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: an Awful lot of that went to

bigger business that, in fact, weren`t supposed to qualify.

The last administration fired its inspector general, so a lot of money went

to people who shouldn`t have gotten help.


MELBER: We have got several aspects of this story, but we begin

immediately with our experts, former governor of Vermont and former

presidential candidate and also a doctor, Howard Dean, and "Washington

Post" reporter Libby Casey.

Good to see both of you.

Governor, you understand the intersection of basically governance and

health as good as anyone in the country. What do you think of what Joe

Biden`s doing here? This bill does obviously more than one thing. He is

saying he is confident these loans will go to the people who need it this



no institute for honesty and competency in government. And Biden has both

and his predecessor had neither.

So, the numbers, the poll numbers are incredible about this. Obviously,

Democrats think Biden is doing a terrific job. The majority of Republicans

below a certain income level also think he is doing a really good job. This

is a really popular bill, and I think the Republicans have made an enormous

mistake in attacking it so vigorously.

It`s probably going to pass without a single Republican vote. And if you

don`t think that`s going to be in every campaign ad in 2022, you have got

another think coming.


I mean, that brings us exactly to the other piece of reporting I wanted to

share. And Libby can weigh in on this. Republican members of Congress, they

lost the votes to stop the bill. They have lost part of the message war, as

the governor just reminded us, because their own voters have been backing

Biden on this issue.

Now they want to malign the benefits themselves.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a no-holds-barred pork-barrel spending bill.

There is more pork in this than all the barbecue joints in Tennessee


REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): It`s pork and it`s buying off members of

Congress, just so they can get their liberal wish list, using coronavirus

pandemic as an excuse.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): This was a liberal wish list of liberal

spending, just basically filled with pork.


MELBER: Now, on the size of this plan, it is true that liberals and

conservatives and economists all agree that, in key measures, this is a big

spending bill.

The effort to taint it as corrupt pork is something of a new talking point.

Now, first, as a fact-check, the vast majority of the bill is pandemic

spending. That`s a nonpartisan fact. The local funding is not the kind of

earmarks that are typically associated with pork or wasteful federal


But this angle isn`t just coming from politicians. Here is a media figure

with a lot of followers himself from "Shark Tank" clashing with a

Democratic lawmaker on CNBC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to put up my hand and say I`m a taxpayer. I wish

you would have fought harder to take out all the pork, because that`s what

it is. And if enough of you had done that, you would have represented the

American people and the people who are unemployed even better than this.

This is so wasteful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin, that`s a false narrative that this is full of a

lot of pork.


MELBER: Libby, debates over the size of government and how much the

federal government should be doing are fair game. As noted, some of this

language is misleading.

Your view on what is happening, sort of the message over something that

Republicans have failed to stop?

LIBBY CASEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Republicans are in a tough spot, Ari,

because some of the things that are in this bill are things they supported

just a couple of months ago under President Trump.

As we heard just a few moments ago from Governor Dean, there are so many

Republicans across the country who do support this. And so Biden is clearly

ahead on the messaging of this bill. Some Democrats I talk to say this is

bipartisan, even though they don`t have any votes in the Senate, the House,

most likely tomorrow, because we do see Republicans of communities across

the country, also one governor in particular that I`m thinking of, the

governor of West Virginia, say he thinks they should go big on this.

So they can point to that to say, look, we do have some Republicans on

board with this, even if they`re not in Washington.

Now, there is a key thing here. This is a transformational piece of

legislation that hits a lot of things that progressives want. And

Republicans are going to be upset by that. Republicans, who are budget

hawks, a lot of whom, frankly, aren`t going to run again in the Senate

after this year, have concerns about this philosophically.

Progressives have been able to get into this things that go hand in hand

with what Americans are dealing with right now. I covered a small

population rural state for a long time. And something like energy

assistance was important to Democrats often. They`re getting that in here

and saying it`s needed because of COVID.

Funding to close the homework gap, making sure that more children have

access to the Internet, something Democrats have been talking about a long

time ago, but now Americans see how pressing and important that is, so it

makes sense in their messaging to put in a COVID bill, because we all know

what it`s like trying to work and educate from home, Ari.


Governor Dean, it raises the question when we talk about this term

bipartisan, what would you rather have, a couple hundred House members who

you don`t need to pass the ball or, by latest polling, over 10 million

Republican voters who say they like what Biden is doing right now this


DEAN: Yes, I think -- we will get into this later, but Trump has really

realigned the Republican Party.

Trump is essentially an authoritarian. And I saw there was an article today

that talked about the legislature in Idaho, one of the most Republican

states in the country, is now trying to defund the Republican attorney

general because they wouldn`t sign on to this crackpot suit that the

attorney general of Texas filed to overturn the election.

I -- the Republican Party is in trouble, because they`re only appealing to

their extremist base, and all that liberal socialists from all those

senators you put up there, they got nothing to say. They have run up the

deficit far, far greater than any Democratic president has since Franklin

Roosevelt. So they have got nothing to say. All they can do is wine and

moan about liberals and socialists and socialists and liberals.

Meanwhile, we`re eating their lunch because we`re helping their

constituency and they`re not.

MELBER: As noted in the polling, some of their constituency is already

noticing, and the checks haven`t even in that sense arrived.

This brings us to another important, but in some ways also ridiculous story

of GOP infighting. The Republican National Committee has had some issues

with Donald Trump. Now they`re throwing some business his way. Reports the

RNC will move a new retreat to Mar-a-Lago.

But that gesture comes amidst a wider clash over money. Trump was so upset

the RNC is doing what parties always do, fund-raising off presidents in the

party, that he sent a legal demand that the RNC never mention Trump in any

fund-raising with a formal cease-and-desist request.

Trump is basically going Three 6 Mafia on his own party, telling them, keep

my name out your mouth. Now, that may sound even a touch gangster, but the

RNC responded by refusing, telling Donald Trump they actually have every

right to refer to public figures under law.

The RNC effectively finishing the same Three 6 Mafia line that Trump

started, telling him, you don`t know what you`re talking about.

I bring Governor Dean back in.

Everyone knows the passion you have for the great Three 6 Mafia group. We

don`t have to get into all of their lyrics tonight, Governor. But I quote

them affectionately because Trump is trying to talk tough, saying don`t

ever even mention me for money. They`re saying no.

And it sort of speaks to the grifterism that`s become publicly confessed on

his side. He doesn`t care about funding the Republican Party. He doesn`t

want them to get a dime, Governor.

DEAN: Well, Trump is the Republican Party right now. And a lot of the

Republicans have been incredibly uncomfortable, including whom I strongly

suspect five out of -- four out of the five senators who have announced

their retirement already.

Shelby, I think, would have retired any way. The others, I think, would not

have. They have got a big problem. The more moderate you in the Republican

Party, the less likely -- more likely you are to have a primary and lose


I can`t wait to see what happens in Ohio, which is a conservative-leaning

right state, but not a right-wing crackpot state. They`re going to have a

tremendous primary. And it`s going to be incredibly bloody, and I think we

have got a shot at picking up a Senate seat in Ohio.

You know, Trump only cares about himself. And one of the things the GOP has

now discovered is, he does not care about them, and they do not know what

to do about it.


Libby, this wasn`t some faraway, minor skirmish. It`s playing out in public

with the cease and desist, and it comes just weeks after Donald Trump faced

the most bipartisan condemnation in an impeachment process ever, and many,

many Republicans went out of their way to save his bacon there, so he at

least can run again if he wanted to. And this is the thanks they get


CASEY: Well, that first speech he gave, he name-checked those Republicans

who voted to convict him or voted to impeach him.

Republicans, the RNC have two big problems on their hands beyond branding

and marketing and using Donald Trump`s name. It`s the fact that Donald

Trump is fund-raising on his own and trying to encourage people to send

money through him, not to Republicans, who -- there is some tension there

about how the money would be used and who controls it.

And then, of course, the question of whether he will run for president

again, because that freezes the field. It essentially holds the RNC hostage

to his decisions, his timetable, and anyone else who wants to run is

beholden to trying to figure out what he is going to do next.


Libby Casey, thank you.

Howard Dean returns later in the hour for a special piece we have.

Right now is our shortest break, 30 seconds.

Coming up, we are going to speak -- we have got a lot of reports, but

coming up next, Melissa Murray -- after this.


MELBER: Breaking news in the biggest manhunt related to the January 6

riot, the FBI releasing new surveillance videos of a man planting pipe

bombs outside both the DNC and RNC headquarters. This is the night before

the now infamous riot and insurrection.

You`re looking at these videos. The FBI is hoping these videos may lead to

new tips, the reward up to $100,000.

Meanwhile, the feds charging an accused rioter seen on January 6 with none

other than Trump associate Roger Stone. And court documents describe him as

a lifetime member of the controversial Oath Keepers militia. Videos from

the morning of the riots show the man apparently serving as a security

guard for Stone.

As promised, we now turn to NYU Law professor Melissa Murray.

When you look at someone like Roger Stone, he is both well-known in

American politics and I think on television and elsewhere as a fabulist,

who admits to lying, who tries to position himself to be a part of all

sorts of controversies. He was pardoned, again, many remember, for his role

in the Russia probe.

This seems like something where could be wrong place, wrong time, but he`s

not exactly playing it up. He seems to be trying to get out from under it.

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: No, that definitely seems to be the


Again, what we know now is pretty limited stuff about the scope of this

investigation. We know that some individuals who are close to Stone and

other members of the Trump world have been linked to the riot, have been

charged with being on the Capitol grounds during the riot.

And I think, right now, a lot of this is really to sort of try and find out

what the scope of the involvement, not just of these low-level rank-and-

file ralliers, but maybe even those further up, were on that day in



Take a look for "The New York Times," noting the FBI finding these contacts

with the Proud Boy members. "It underscores," they say, "the access that

violent extremist groups were having to the White House and to people close

to the former president."

How do investigators, how does law enforcement probe the difference between

what politicians often say, which is, hey, you go somewhere, there is a lot

of people around, you`re trying to get to 51 percent, and whether this was

the kind of thing that is more of a legal or criminal matter?

MURRAY: Well, with the individual who has been charged here, Roberto

Minuta, it seems like it`s more than just simply passing a passerby or

someone that you come into sort of contact with at an event.

Like, this is someone who was charged with being part of security detail

for Roger Stone. And Roger Stone has had very significant ties with the

Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia group that Roberto Minuta is also

associated with.

So it seems like it`s more than just sort of a chance occurrence that they

are together. And I think, again, with Minuta in the investigation and

within the range of prosecutors, you can press him a little bit more to

find out what the links are to Roger Stone and what Stone`s involved it

might have been on January 6, and from there may be pushed even further and

go up the chain.

MELBER: Does it strike you as surprising or brash, after everything Mr.

Stone went through, facing a major prison sentence that he only got out of

by virtue of his political, personal, loyal relationship with the sitting

president, that he would be out doing other things that would seem to give

him such legal exposure?

I mean, most people don`t get out from under long sentences like he did.

MURRAY: Oh, yes, that`s sort of the point of being a fabulist, right? You

never really know when the jig is up.

But, as you say, Roger Stones luck may have worn out at this point. He was

very clearly on getting a great break when he was pardoned on those seven

federal charges of which he was convicted. But that pardon would not go so

far as to include whatever might come from an investigation around the

events of January 6.

He would be completely newly exposed to criminal liability for whatever

happened on the 6th. So, again, this just may be the kind of person who

thinks he has nine lives, thinks he can get away with that. But that pardon

only goes so far.

MELBER: Pardon only goes so far. And whatever that treatment he got, it

was a lawful pardon, although controversial. He has no expectation of the

same kind of sweetheart special loopholes right now with the federal

government. So it`s really remarkable.

Professor Murray, thank you, as always.

MURRAY: Thank you.

MELBER: We have a lot more coming up, including news tonight on what might

be the secret to the Biden agenda succeeding and a breakdown on red state

Democrats. We`re going to get into why political math shows something wrong

with conventional wisdom about some of the Democrats who may stand in

Biden`s way.

That`s coming up.



CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Were you really prepared to tank

this bill, President Biden`s top legislative priority, if you didn`t get

what you want it?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Absolutely not. That`s not how negotiations

should go. And if you want to make it a little bit more painful, make them

stand there and talk, I`m willing to look at any way we can. But I`m not

willing to take away the involvement of the minority.


MELBER: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has been emerging as a crucial

swing vote for Joe Biden`s agenda in Washington, with talk that he could be

key not only on this economic relief, like last week`s negotiations, but on

many issues to come if he keeps holding out his vote from the Democratic


But some of the conventional wisdom about all of this may be dead wrong.

I`m talking here about political math. Now, Manchin is from a state, West

Virginia, that voted against Biden by over 30 points. Many saw his holdout

last week as a political strategy to help him try to hold on to those

conservative voters by distinguishing himself from the Democratic


But what if that tag itself is wrong? There are implications for Manchin,

for the Democrats and, in a 50/50 Senate, perhaps for much of Biden`s

agenda and U.S. policy over the next four years.

Now, Manchin has been quick to differentiate himself, not just on COVID,

but on hypotheticals he doesn`t even have to answer, like not being the

50th Democratic vote to fundamentally reform the Supreme Court, something

he got into just days after Biden`s win.


MANCHIN: I will not be the 50th Democrat voting to end that filibuster or

to basically stack the court.


MELBER: Now, this has become a common Manchin move, from that COVID

spending bill to trying to get national attention to show that he`s

different than Biden, to picking what may sound like an obscure clash over

blocking new Biden infrastructure spending unless Republicans are included.

Now, of course, senators can take any position they believe in. That`s what

they`re supposed to do. But if the political idea here is leaning into

these contrasts for political gain over the next two-plus years, well,

Manchin may be on the wrong track politically.

Recent history shows that one of the keys for a member of Congress`

reelection is their party presidents overall popularity, not just whether

they themselves differentiate from the president in their party in their


And this is something I think everybody remembers. Popular presidents,

well, they tend to bring their own members on to pretty good rates of

reelection. We have seen that in both parties. Take midterms from the

Clinton and Bush eras, when they did, as presidents, have ratings above 60

percent, which boosted their down-ballot party mates.



control of Congress, but they didn`t pick up the kinds of seats that they


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Republican, as you know. This is a good night for


PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS: The Republicans, defying history, are going to

win. the House of Representatives with a gain of one to five seats, very

much attributed in many people`s minds to the tremendous last-minute

enthusiasm of President Bush as he campaigned around the country, a man

with the highest affirmation ratings of any post-war president at this



MELBER: A president who was popular at the time, in that case, on the

second example, Bush, made all the difference for all those Republicans

running in the midterms, if they didn`t run away from him.

Now, this is a piece of political analysis that may not sound like

conventional wisdom today, given what people are betting on with Manchin,

but it`s something that smart, ambitious politicians do get. Indeed,

someone who back then was just an obscure state senator named Barack Obama

knew exactly how then President Bush excelled in the midterms to power.



that the president and the White House did an excellent job nationalizing

the campaign. And I think you have got to give him credit politically for

having done that very effectively.

President Bush, to his credit, from a political perspective, put his

political capital on the line and won.


MELBER: Obama knew nationalizing the race when you`re a president`s what

matters, if you can nationalize with a high approval rating. Of course,

that`s key.

But consider today, after this bruising election in this Trump era, Biden`s

approval is already upwards of 60 percent. And that`s before the COVID bill

sends out checks directly into people`s mailboxes.

So there may be a big lesson here for red state Democrats, that breaking

with a popular president of your own party can actually hurt you. Now,

there are specific examples that the Manchin crowd may want to consider.

Remember Senator Ben Nelson, also from a red state, a Democrat from

Nebraska? In Obama`s early years, he was Manchin-ing before Manchin. He was

pushing liberal Democrats to compromise on aspects of Obamacare. He helped

spike the public option. He was getting other concessions. And like Manchin

just last week, Nelson was someone who thought making headlines about this

would build his luster in his state.

At times, it dominated coverage in that Obamacare fight. Nelson pushed

Democrats to make extra concessions for his vote and made himself a

central, almost mythical player.


FMR. SEN. BEN NELSON (D-NE): I`m looking at finding solutions that are

much more market based to get rid of the individual mandate.

I also negotiated out in front and was criticized by Howard Dean and others

when I said no public option, no big government-run plan.

JOHN KING, CNN: Some of your liberal colleagues say, you just love this,

that you love the spotlight, you love the limelight, you love being able to

be the guy with the leverage.

NELSON: Well, I don`t think that`s accurate at all.


MELBER: Accurate or not, whatever he was doing did not work politically.

Nelson`s next reelection prospects completely floundered. Polls had him in

deep trouble ahead of the midterms. Without reversing those numbers, he

dropped out of the race entirely.

Here`s a point from political strategists Chai Komanduri, who notes that

politicians like Manchin might want to be thinking about those examples.

And it`s not about attacking moderate Democrats simply for opposing Biden,

but rather a reminder that politically opposing your own president doesn`t

usually work in terms of your political prospects.

Now, Nelson is not the only red state Democrat to meet this fate. There was

Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor, who also split with his party`s President

Obama. He also said Obama didn`t connect well in Arkansas. He went on to

lose to Tom Cotton.

A number of red state Democrats, including Mary Landrieu and Blanche

Lincoln, have also tried this kind of path, in that case, in the Obama era.

They went on to lose. Now, they might have lost anyway in tough red

terrain. But the lesson for Democrats like Manchin is, repeatedly

criticizing and breaking with the president of your own party, when it

weakens the president, may be literally a worst political strategy than

trying to have a party and a president so successful that few can argue

with the results.

Now we go into a deep dive on political history. This is a special day here

on THE BEAT. We call it affectionately "Chai Day," with the political

strategist and friend of THE BEAT who I mentioned, Chai Komanduri. He

worked on three presidential campaigns. And we are indebted to Chai for

some of the history we just walked through.

Good to have you back, sir.


time. And now I have a full day. That`s really great.


KOMANDURI: It`s the Nordic gods, Odin, Thor, and Chai all have days.

That`s great.


MELBER: That`s right. We consider it a holiday. The only problem for you

is, you have to work on this holiday.

KOMANDURI: Unfortunately.

MELBER: But, as I mentioned to viewers, we quoted you in the piece,

because this is something you are gesturing at, but that a lot of people

around Manchin and some of modern Washington don`t necessarily agree with.

What do you think is instructive in the recent history?

KOMANDURI: Yes, let me say first at the outset that if a red state

Democrat decides to oppose Joe Biden on principle, that`s one thing.

But I think we need to dispense with the conventional wisdom that it in any

way helps red state Democrats to oppose Joe Biden for political gain.

There`s absolutely no history that that`s the case.

One thing I will say is that what really matters in the midterm or in

elections for red state Democrats is the overall popularity of their

president. It`s Biden`s popularity that matters, not theirs.


And so you lay it out like that, it sounds straightforward.


MELBER: Do you view some of this as strategy or political ego, that

senators, like anyone who`s ever used social media, start to have the sense

that, well, more people are paying attention maybe to you, but, no, in the

big scheme of things, a lot of other stuff is going to matter more?

KOMANDURI: Yes, I mean, I think that we have to understand that

politicians have big egos, and particularly if you`re a red state Democrat,

and you have done an enormous -- accomplished an enormous thing, which is

to be as a Democrat elected in some very rough terrain, your ego is even


And it`s very hard sometimes for politicians to realize it`s not about me.

It`s about Joe Biden. It`s about the guy in the White House.

And another aspect is for red state Democrats generally to thrive, they

need to develop their own brand. And you see and saw this very clearly with

Ben Nelson. He developed a very effective independent brand in Nebraska

that he maintained for many years.

The problem is, once Barack Obama became elected president, all that

mattered in Nebraska was the Obama brand, not the Ben Nelson brand. So a

smarter political tactic generally, I would say, is to make sure the

president of your party is as popular as possible in your state.

And that`s something that I think would behoove a lot of red state

Democrats to think about more.

MELBER: We mentioned a couple of examples you identify. In recent history,

of course, they weren`t incumbents, but what does Georgia say in playing

into your theory here?

KOMANDURI: Well, Georgia is an interesting case.

Part of what happened there was that Donald Trump was so unpopular, and

actually convinced his own people to sit on their hands and stay at home,

it actually allowed Ossoff and Warner -- I`m sorry, Ossoff and -- yes,

Ossoff and Warnock to get elected.


KOMANDURI: Now, if you notice, what the Georgia senators are now doing is,

they`re working behind the scenes. They`re not grandstanding. They`re not

making threats. They`re not pointing guns at anybody`s head. They`re

working behind the scenes with the Biden administration, with Senate

Democrats, and in some cases even in a bipartisan way to help shape


Ossoff and Warnock not understand very clearly that for them to succeed in

Georgia, Joe Biden has to succeed in Georgia. And you have to do the sorts

of things that allow Joe Biden to succeed in Georgia.


Chai, stay with me, because it is "Chai Day."


MELBER: I want to bring in the former Governor and DNC chair Howard Dean,

who has got a lot of experience on these kind of politics.

Governor, you may have heard your name. The viewers may have heard it.

We`re going to play just that little part, because history is interesting,

then Senator Nelson. Take a listen.


NELSON: I also negotiated out in front and was criticized by Howard Dean

and others when I said no public option, no big government-run plan, said

no to several other things out front. So I think it`s hollow criticism.


MELBER: Governor Dean, what are your thoughts on the lessons of some of

these senators, who are in obviously tougher states, and Chai`s view of


DEAN: Yes, this is a fascinating discussion. And I think you`re both right

about this.

If the president doesn`t succeed, you`re not going to succeed. The most

interesting case that I think of all the time is Sherrod Brown. How does

Sherrod brown win in a state where we lost by 10 points? Sherrod Brown has

his own brand, and his brand is not, oh, I`m more conservative and I`m one

of you. His brand is, I`m going to stand up for what I think is right and

say what I think.

That is the most valuable commodity in politics. And they`re not many

senators or congresspeople that have it, because they`re afraid. So, I

think you guys are right. If Biden doesn`t do well, the local folks aren`t

going to do well.

But the best insurance policy you can have is to have your own persona and

stand up for what you think is right, speak truth to power. And, believe

me, I had a lot of conservatives who used to vote for me all the time.

Somebody once asked me if I liked Trump voters, and I had to think for a


And I said, yes, because they all used to vote for me when I was running

for governor, not because they agreed with, because I said what I thought.

And that was so refreshing. And that`s what Sherrod Brown does.

So I think you guys are absolutely on the money with this.



MELBER: Go ahead.

KOMANDURI: No, another politician I think that we can highlight, in

addition to Sherrod Brown, is Jon Tester. Jon Tester is in a very difficult

state, Montana. If you notice, you never see him grandstanding or giving

speeches or giving ultimatums to Joe Biden or previously to Barack Obama.

He works behind the scenes, however, very effectively to help make sure

that Montana stays in favor of Jon Tester and stays nominally in favor of

Joe Biden and Barack Obama, that the presidents in the Oval Office don`t do

things that actually put him too much in peril.


So, I will call it -- I hate to say it -- go ahead.

MELBER: No, please.

KOMANDURI: No, I would hate to say it, but I was going to say that I don`t

want to Tester-shame red state Democrats, but I think he`s just a great

model to follow where he understands that Joe Biden must succeed for him to


MELBER: Well, let me bring in, Governor, on a final point.

There must be a difference between a politician who says, look, I have

always stood for X and now I have got to still stand for it regardless of

my party, and then some of what we flagged that Manchin`s doing, where he

says, well, the position I represent is, I only support building this

bridge if a random Republican joins me, which I don`t think most voters

relate to as a real thing.

It sounds bizarre, and it also isn`t a principle. It`s just waiting for

someone to join you, when none of them are joining the COVID bill. Does

that also play into this, Governor, if the so-called objections don`t feel


DEAN: Well, that`s really what I was talking about. You have got to be a

genuine person who`s standing up for your own principles.

And there`s no shame in compromising, but voters pick up really quickly

when you`re not who you say you are. I think most politicians, especially

in Washington, underestimate voters enormously. And I think that`s a good


That`s exactly a good example of this. Tester gets away with it because he

-- Montanans believe that he`s for them and he`s one of them. And he

doesn`t grandstand. And that`s why Sherrod gets away with it. And there`s a

few other senators that are out of step with their constituencies once in a


And if you`re out of step with your constituency a lot, you`re going to

lose. But if you stand up for who you are, and you represent your people

before you represent all your ambition, people value that, because it`s not


MELBER: Yes, really interesting.

Howard Dean, thank you for joining us, more than one spot tonight. Chai

Komanduri, thank you for the political history.

Going to fit in a break, but, up ahead. I have my special comments I want

to share with you tonight about your right to vote and why President Carter

is now speaking out.


MELBER: As an objective matter, America is a center-left country. This is

a blue electorate. It`s currently Biden country. It was also anti-Trump

country in two consecutive elections, when more people voted for the

Democrat than Trump.

And it`s now more firmly Biden country, with polls showing supermajorities

now back his COVID economic plan. He has a higher approval already than

Trump gotten in four years.

So this blue coalition is growing as a matter of civic and political math.

But this blue coalition has also been operating in American life for quite

some time. Consider the last eight presidential elections. Republicans won

more votes in 2004, but then more voters show the Democrat in seven other


What you see here is an extraordinary run. It means over the past 28 years,

amidst shifts in our culture and technology and politics, most people still

chose for a Democrat to be in charge running the White House.

And yet, if you don`t obsess over politics, and most people don`t, you

might not realize how often people chose those Democrats, but other people

were in charge.

Consider this related point from a recent report in "The New York Times,"

that Republicans increasingly rely on the ability of a minority of voters

to exert majority control. Republicans won the popular vote in just one of

the last eight presidential elections, but filled six of the nine seats on

the Supreme Court.

That unrepresentative imbalance is a product of the Electoral College,

which delivered the White House to Republicans when they still got fewer

votes, as well as other broader inequities, from gerrymandering to

persistent voter suppression.

Now, some of this has been beat back by activism and in the courts, but

some of it is getting worse. Faced with Donald Trump`s thumping in

November, Republicans are rushing to restrict voting further with, as we

have reported, over 200 bills in 43 states to restrict your voting access.

Well, now I can report tonight former President Carter is speaking out,

saying he`s angry and disheartened by efforts to turn back the clock and

that the rational -- the rationale for this push is all about partisan

efforts to corrupt our democracy, not fact-based concerns.

And those are fair points. It will take strong vigilance from leaders and

public officials, to journalists reporting the facts, to citizens, to

activists to collectively beat back these efforts again and again to

protect the right to vote.

Now, after such a long, exhausting election, it may seem like things are

pretty broken if people have to continue this constant effort just to be

able to freely vote next time.

Well, if you feel that way, I understand, because it`s true. The reason it

feels this way is because people are trying to break the system. That`s why

it feels on the verge of broken. They want to break democracy, because they

know they don`t typically win when a full democracy functions and everyone

gets to participate and vote.

It`s that simple, which is why we need to stay vigilant.

We`re going to fit in a break, but coming up, we have an important report

on day one of the Chauvin murder trial, jury selection. George Floyd`s

family attorney, Ben Crump, our special guest next.


MELBER: Jury selection is now under way in Derek Chauvin`s murder trial.

He`s the former Minneapolis officer charged with second-degree

unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter for killing George


Now, you can see him taking his seat inside the courtroom as this all

begins. He stood as his attorney introduced him to this jury, selection

process ongoing throughout the day. He was engaged. He could be seen taking


Now, who serves on a jury is one of the most consequential things in any

case. They are trying to seat 12 jurors and four alternates in a high-

profile case, in which so many people have heard about the facts. It`s a


We can report tonight three jurors have been seated, two white men and a

biracial woman. Now, both sides have been questioning all possible jurors

under the rules. And it has revealed a preview of some of the types of

issues that they`re either want to get into or they`re concerned where the

jurors stand on. Take a listen to the prosecution.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: You agree with the premise that law

enforcement officers have very dangerous jobs? Is that right?

How you would be able to personally participate second-guessing a decision

that a police officer made in the course of their duties, when you have

expressed that you strongly disagree that one should even do that.


MELBER: The defense, meanwhile, honed in. In using this process again,

they`re asking questions, but they`re also getting their shot at some of

the people that will be jurors, and the defense honed in on how much

information had been exposed before this all began.


ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: It`s fair to say you formed an

opinion of what happened here in this case. You used the word killed in to

describe the death of George Floyd.

Do you think that that -- the use of that word is demonstrative of your

opinion about this case? What tools would you use to determine which person

is telling the more accurate story?


MELBER: We are joined now by Ben Crump, a well-regarded, well-known civil

rights attorney. He`s representing George Floyd`s family.

Thanks for being here.


me, Ari.

MELBER: It`s very early. But what, if anything, did you glean from jury

selection thus far?

CRUMP: That the prosecutor and the defense lawyers are going to do a very

thorough job at trying to get their jury.

We learned in law school, very simple, Ari, if you have your jury, it

really doesn`t matter what the facts are. So, both sides are trying to get

a jury that comes in more favorable to them from the onset.

MELBER: What do you say to people who look at this and think, in perhaps

contrast to many other cases, the movement that grew around this and the

pressure may have created more people who are more sympathetic or more

relate to Mr. Floyd`s situation, as opposed to typical cases, where you and

I both know a lot of times you find a jury pool that says, well, they`re

going to go with the cops until they hear otherwise?

Do you think this might be a more favorable pool or do other things still

cancel that out?

CRUMP: Well, I never, ever take for granted in America that a police

officer will be convicted for killing a black person unjustly.

History has told us that, more often than not, that police officers are

given the benefit of the doubt and the benefit of consideration against a

person of color. And so, in this situation, Ari, my hope is that the jurors

will be fair and impartial and they will look at George Floyd as a human

being, something that Derek Chauvin did not do on May 25, 2020, because, if

he had, he would not have tortured him to death by keeping his knee on his

neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

This is also tough because, as you just reminded everyone, this has to be

about justice and finding the facts. But everyone also knows it exists

within this wider climate and this wider movement.

That, of course, did come up, too. I want viewers to see, because this is

one of the first windows we`re getting into the trial of how those issues

and so-called related movements were raised with jurors. Let`s take a



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t love the Black Lives Matter organization. I do

support the movement. I support that -- the message that every life should

matter equally.

I don`t believe that the organization Black Lives Matter necessarily stands

for that. I do think that the phrase and the movement stand for that.

NELSON: You kind of see Blue Lives Matter as a counter to the Black Lives

Matter. Can you expand on that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my point, the whole point of that is, all lives

should matter equally, and that should include police.


MELBER: What did you think of some of those exchanges? Because,

ultimately, justice here means not a dissertation on these different

political injustice movements, but a determination over whether the force

was legal or illegal. Did the officer have the right to use that level of

force or was it illegal and excessive?

CRUMP: Exactly, Ari.

What we ask of American citizens who do the great service on serving on

jury duty is to be fair and impartial and be honest. If you have certain

opinions, we need to know, so we can get the best jury to give a fair and

impartial decision to both parties.

It is very important that they agree that they will follow the law, as the

judge will instruct them, based on the evidence that is presented into the

court. And we have to make certain that they pay attention to the facts and

that they don`t give way to the character assassination that defense

lawyers are going to try to do on George Floyd, because that`s the

playbook, Ari, whether it`s Trayvon Martin, whether it`s Michael Brown,

whether it`s 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, any number of people that

have been killed by the police.

They all say, is if we can distract them by attacking their character, then

maybe they won`t pay attention to the facts.

But 50 million people saw this video of George Floyd being killed. And we

believe that they will focus on the facts.

MELBER: Ben Crump, you have been with the family. You have worked on these

issues for a long time, including since the inception of this incident and

then case.

I appreciate you coming on THE BEAT. I`m sure we will be coming back to

you, sir, when your time allows.

CRUMP: Thank you so much for having me, Ari.

MELBER: Yes, sir. Thank you, Ben Crump.

Coming up, there is a friend of THE BEAT that`s going to give us an

important message.

I`m talking about Carole King on vaccines.


MELBER: An American music icon, Carole King, is getting her own


And the friend of THE BEAT wants everyone to know that it`s not too late to

get the shot. Take a listen.


CAROLE KING, MUSICIAN (singing): It`s not too late, baby. It`s not too

late. And you really are going to make it. You`re going to be so strong and

healthy. When it`s your turn, just take it.

Don`t be too late, baby. Don`t hesitate.


MELBER: Amen. Carole gets the last word.

Thanks for watching THE BEAT.

"THE REIDOUT" starts now.




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