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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 4/14/21

Guests: Joan Walsh, Marc Caputo, Kristen Gibbons Feden, Brittney Cooper, Benjamin Crump


New details emerge on the probe into Congressman Matt Gaetz. President Biden announces a full U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Testimony continues in the Chauvin murder trial. Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Daunte Wright and Derek Chauvin families, speaks out. Corporations put heat on Senator Mitch McConnell.



Hi, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

We`re tracking several developments, including the feds now have Matt Gaetz`s cell phone, a sign of a serious probe, as the Republican congressman`s ally reportedly cooperates with investigators.

Also tonight, President Biden making a major foreign policy shift, and the latest from a compelling day in the Chauvin murder trial. We have all of that.

But we begin now with breaking news out of Minnesota.

Today, Minnesota authorities indicted police officer Kim Potter for killing Daunte Wright, an unarmed 20-year-old, during a traffic stop. Police say that she accidentally fired her gun, instead of a Taser. But prosecutors now say that act was criminal negligence, charging her with manslaughter, the unintentional taking of a life.

And that`s why you`re looking at her mug shot tonight. This indictment is unusually fast for a police-involved shooting, three days after the original incident. In even high-profile cases of police shootings, the announcement of any potential charges can take months.

And most of the time, the announcement ends up being in the end for no charges. That was the case just yesterday in a different story, when prosecutors announced the news of no charges for the officer who shot Jacob Blake as was walking away. He shot him in the back. And that was, yesterday, 135 days after that original incident.

Or take the highly controversial shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was erroneously killed by police while lying asleep in her bed. You may have heard about her case. It got much national attention and pressure. It took 194 days for that announcement. And in that case, again, it was no charges.

So, as a matter of law in recent history, this is measurably swift action. And for charging an officer in the killing of a black American, that is a measurable change from the usual. That`s the news tonight.

And you don`t have to take a newscaster`s word for it either. One of the leading civil rights advocates who has been working these cases for years, working cases where there may not be video or where there`s scant national attention, Ben Crump, is speaking out today on the long road to this very action.

Crump now represents the Wright and Floyd families, whose cases are up ending police reform in Minnesota and beyond.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: Sybrina Fulton, my lord, the sacrifices of what she has given, in how Trayvon Martin has prepare the notion that black lives matter and that we should get equal justice under the law, is the reason why, on this day in 2021, in less than a week, Reverend Al, in less than a week, the district attorney made the decision that we will charge this officer, and the family of Daunte Wright will get to have their day in court.


MELBER: Their day in court.

Now, that reference to a day in court is key, because an indictment is still a long way from a full trial and then a verdict, as Crump was emphasizing.

And Mr. Crump joins us later on tonight`s program.

So, this is some change. Now, whether this change reflects full and equal justice remains up for debate. On the ground in Minnesota, the debate continues, the protests continue. Officials have extended what they call a peacetime emergency for 30 days there.

There were also some clashes with police last night, officers deploying some pepper spray and flash bombs to clear the scene after what was stated as a 10:00 p.m. curfew. And we counted over 60 people arrested.

There are also, we should note, peaceful silent protests that were held right nearby, sometimes just a few feet away from those other clashes and scenes. There are also, at this time, 3,000 National Guard troops that remain deployed there.

I want to begin our coverage with civil rights attorney Kristen Gibbons Feden and Brittney Cooper, professor with Rutgers University.

Welcome to you both.

Brittney, we have covered so many of these stories. You have been a guest of ours for as long as we have been doing the news on THE BEAT.

I`m curious your view of Mr. Crump`s emphasis that, however much work is left undone, this case this week seems to be proceeding a little bit differently than so many of the other horrific ones.

BRITTNEY COOPER, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Look, I think that there`s reason and cause to be optimistic, or at least buoyed by the fact that they have not delayed due process here and that, in fact, they have indicted this officer.

I do have questions about the charges. I think that there is a concession of the sort of accidental nature of this that I find to be quite troubling, not because we know the officer`s intent, but, rather, because it`s sort of strains credulity that one who is professional is who was on the job longer than Daunte Wright was alive doesn`t know the difference between a gun and a Taser.

And so I think that we have to begin to think about impact and not just intent here. And more than that, I think the concern becomes, we`re -- we`re not actually in this simply for officers to be tried swiftly. We`re trying to create a system in which black people don`t get killed through routine encounters with law enforcement.

And so the real question becomes not whether they charge officers swiftly, but, rather, what is falling down in the way that policing happens in this country that routine encounters become the pretext for these awful, tragic, heinous incidents between law enforcement and citizens.


Kristen, I`m curious your view on the same set of issues.

And we are keeping an eye on the gatherings there. We`re looking at some peaceful gatherings here live in Minnesota, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, gatherings, prayers, protests, but your view on all of the above?


For the second-degree manslaughter, as you said, that is -- and, Ari, you`re a lawyer, so you know that this is the exact charge that I think most legal observers expected, that second-degree manslaughter, homicide caused by negligence or recklessness.

That includes the accidental shooting. But, as Brittney alluded to, what`s more infuriating here for so many is that, in announcing this charge, the county attorney is implicitly clearing Potter of intentionally shooting that young man, young Mr. Wright, or shooting him out of rage, or having a depraved mind, or any of the other elements that would implicate a higher charge, maybe murder two, all of which carry a more significant consequence.

And, as you alluded to, Ari, this comes after a three-day investigation. Could it really have the thoroughness and completeness that is deserved by this young victim?

And so I want to end by saying that more significant charges could later be added. But, certainly, I would agree with Brittney on all of those points.

MELBER: The mayor also spoke out again. Let`s take a little bit of listen to the mayor.


MIKE ELLIOTT, MAYOR OF BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTA: I share our community`s anger and sadness and shock.

Now, the eyes of the world are watching Brooklyn Center. And I urge you to protest peacefully and without violence. Let us show the best of our community.

And to the Wright family, I know that there is nothing I can say or do that will bring Daunte Wright or ease your grief.


MELBER: That`s one local official speaking out today.

We are actually joined by another, Minnesota State Representative John Thompson. Our panel is still with us. And we will also be going out to the field as we follow all of this.

Your response, along with what I think you may have heard from some of our panelists, which was discussing how this is a faster indictment than many other cases, but concerns about whether this is the highest charge that will come. Your view on that and whatever else you can tell us about what your community`s going through tonight?

STATE REP. JOHN THOMPSON (D-MN): Our community, who remembers the killing of Justine Damond in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when there was an African- American officer by the name of Mohamed Noor who killed this Caucasian woman.

And he actually had the same argument: It was a mistake. He was charged with murder and ultimately sentenced to 12 years.

There was no manslaughter charges. So, what we have here is two different judicial systems, the judicial system for white officers and the judicial system for black officers.

And I was taught that, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, nine times out of 10, it`s a duck. And racism is ingrained in our judicial system across the United States of America, is what our community is feeling right now.

MELBER: Yes. I appreciate your candor. You`re straightforward. I think a lot of people understand what you`re saying.

I mean, Representative, when you look at this situation, people around the country, as I think is well-known, like to sometimes say, well, maybe there is racism, but -- quote -- "It`s over there." It`s somewhere else. It`s down South, or it`s in that other neighborhood or it`s in that other school.

Minnesota is a blue state, for the most part, a state with some diversity, to be sure. And yet this issue that you raised, which is bigger than any election, is the structural racism that`s been embedded in the criminal system, the justice system, the courts, the bail system, the prison system, things we have been covering here, and I know you have been working on for a long time.

So, what do you say to people that, oh, if this happened in Minnesota, then how do you begin to fix it? Because you have some people already in office. You have some diverse leadership, even in the town here, and yet...

THOMPSON: You know, the funny thing is, July 5 of 2016, I stood outside of a store, and I talked to my friend with regard to the murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We were still numb to this killing.

I walked through the store. And I remember saying to him, nothing`s going to happen to this police officer. And the very next day, my friend was murdered by a Falcon Heights/Saint Anthony police officer. And my friend`s name is Philando Castile. He was one of my great (AUDIO GAP)

MELBER: I have to check. I think I lost -- I think we all lost.


MELBER: Representative, I`m only interrupting for technical -- sorry, for very technical reasons, 2021, Zoom era.

I believe we all lost your audio a little bit. But I do know that you were speaking about your history with Philando Castile, which I know is part of why you went into public service.

So, permit me to ask you to sort of just share what you were sharing about a moment ago. We lost some of what you said.

THOMPSON: I said that we talked about Alton Sterling and then, the very next day, July 6, my friend was murdered. And so a lot of people, when I stood out and was very outspoken about police-involved killings, they called me a protester, an agitator, or Antifa, domestic terrorist.

And so I decided that I wanted to be the change that I want to see in my community. And so I put my name on the ballot. And now I`m a Minnesota legislator. And I still get treated the same way I was as an activist.

And so -- but I also know that we can no longer ask for change. We have to create 10,000 more John Thompsons. And we have to be the change we want to see in our communities. We don`t need another rapper in our community. We need a lot of lawmakers, lawyers, doctors, culturally intelligent mental health providers, teachers, tutors.

And I`m not ashamed to say we need black people to step up to the plate, because we failed George Floyd, we failed Philando Castile, and we failed Daunte. We failed them, because we have allowed these law enforcement agencies all across the United States to infiltrate our legislative bodies and fill these statutes with legislation that allows them to get away with murder.

And so I think that what we`re going to have to do is reset. The police departments aren`t going anywhere. So, the defund the police movement, like, that`s not going to get us any traction.

But we can create an atmosphere where police -- bad police officers are not allowed to flourish in our state.


THOMPSON: Listen, I just want to share something with you. We have an officer here in this state with 56 police-involved incidents, 56 complaints, 11 successful lawsuits, and three police-involved shootings he`s been a part of.

And the entire Minneapolis Police Officers Association voted him as their union president. And then he goes on to be promoted to sergeant.

MELBER: Right.

THOMPSON: And so when I say that racism is ingrained like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, these -- this guy that I`m talking about was also a member of the Minnesota Heat, which is a known white supremacist biker gang.


THOMPSON: It`s an ideal job for a white supremacist.


MELBER: I`m going to jump in, because I want to get Brittney in before I run out of time, but I appreciate all those points.

And to your point about the -- how some of this is endemic in unions, many have pointed out that Ms. Potter was also a union leader before this,

Your thoughts, Brittney?

COOPER: So, I appreciate you, Representative, very much.

I want to slightly disagree with you about one thing. The black community is not to blame for the things that have happened to us. That is solely the fault of white supremacists and their brazen fight for power.

I believe in our communities. I believe in movements, I`m so happy that you came out of activist spaces. I`m tired of people -- people lecturing black people and telling us that our job is to be peaceful, to be kind, to not express rage.

I`m not advocating violence, but we never are, right? People only ever see our violence. They don`t see or appreciate the violence that is done to us. And so our people always rise up. We always fight back. And, right now, we are in a battle for the soul of this country and whether or not white people are going to have the reckoning that they need to have about what it means to become people of the future, and not people who are enamored with past glory and the sort of dominance of white supremacy.

This is about white fear and white anger over the fact the country`s demographic is changing. And so they`re using the law and using the state to terrorize our communities. That has to change. And it doesn`t matter if no other black person ever becomes an attorney, ever becomes a mayor, ever runs for government.

The argument that black excellence is the corrective for white violence is part of the problem. Black people deserve dignity simply because we exist, simply because we are human beings.

MELBER: Right.

COOPER: So, the fact that we get up every day and we fight for better conditions just means that we`re doing our job as people who are citizens of this country and members of the body politic.


COOPER: But that is not the lever of whether we deserve (AUDIO GAP) and dignity when we are encountering law enforcement.

MELBER: And I appreciate the point there Brittney is making, that this is fundamental human rights, that nothing should have to be asked for or fought for, if it`s going to be a fair system.

I`m over on time.

But, Representative, because of the nature of this, we will call it a colloquy, not a debate. I will give you a final, brief response, but I am over on time, sir.

THOMPSON: The entire United States of America is watching the state that I live in right now.

And so I`m calling on our legislative body to take bold steps to assure that we put pieces into legislation that hold these officers accountable.

I propose today that we end all budget negotiations until we really have a budget that says black lives matter in this state. And I will stand on that for the rest of my life.

And I want to say thank you for having me.

MELBER: Thank you for being here, Representative Thompson, Professor Cooper, and Kristen Feden, who`s been with us on more than one story. We got less time to you today, but we will make it up to you another day.

I appreciate all of you giving us insights and really what you care about tonight, as people reflect on this. So, thanks to each of you.

We have our shortest break. It`s 30 seconds.

When we come back, the other big story in Washington, the Feds seizing Republican Matt Gaetz`s cell phone. The reporter who broke the story is here in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.

There is a lot going on.

And I turn to a different big story with a straightforward question. How serious is this federal sex trafficking probe involving Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz? Well, here`s one big indicator. The feds have his iPhone. It`s no small matter for the Justice Department to seize the phone of an elected member of a co-equal branch of government.

Politico now reporting that`s what they have done, and dating it all the way back to the winter, with reports that the Trump-friendly congressman was telling people about it himself.

Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing. Reports are that agents also seized the phone of one of his former girlfriends and are probing his 2018 trip to the Bahamas, which included a young woman who is -- quote -- "key to the investigation" who was 18 at the time of that trip.

Meanwhile, there may be new heat on Gaetz given indications that his indicted ally is cooperating with investigators and accusing Gaetz of offering -- quote -- "cash or gifts in exchange for sex."

We are joined now by Marc Caputo, senior reporter for Politico who broke this very story about the feds getting Gaetz`s cell phone, and Joan Walsh, a keen observer of politics, a friend of ours and national affairs correspondent for "The Nation."

Marc, what did you find in your reporting?

MARC CAPUTO, POLITICO: Well, what you said.

We also had more details on the Bahamas trip, kind of who went along. There were two private planes, a commercial plane. Matt Gaetz apparently flew commercial. And there were at least five women who went along on the trip. One of the women who went on the trip, we spoke to, said there was no prostitution that happened.

That`s what investigators are investigating in relation to the Bahamas trip, from what we understand. And she also said that everyone was 18 or over of. That has particular salience in the case of this teen who is the alleged victim of sex trafficking by Gaetz`s ally and let`s just probably say former friend, Joel Greenberg, the local Florida county tax collector, who was charged with that back in July -- or back in August -- yes, July. Pardon me.

The dates are whooshing around in my head.

So, that`s kind of the big 10,000-foot view of what we were able to uncover. But the phones thing was of particular salience.

MELBER: Yes, it`s a big problem for Matt Gaetz if the feds got his phone. And that went into get cleared, obviously, through a judge, that kind of surveillance.

Marc, this story has really accelerated with the reporting of "The New York Times" and your reporting in Politico.

I don`t know if you will answer this question, but I`m going to ask it. Does your reporting reflect that Matt Gaetz may have a legal criminal problem? Or does your reporting at this point reflect a lot of stuff around him that the feds are looking at, but that he may not be in things that are chargeable?

CAPUTO: Well, I`m going to dodge this a bit. It depends on how you define problem, right?

I mean, when the federal government is seizing your phone, you have got a problem. When your allies are saying, hey, yes, maybe he had sex with her, but it was when she was 18-and-a-half, when you`re measuring people`s ages in fractions, you got a problem.

Now, is he going to be indicted? Well, that`s a whole other matter, that the teen or the former teen who`s now 21, the question is, what has she said to the federal government, if anything? And what evidence is there that she can back up or shed more light on? And then, obviously, there`s the Joel Greenberg matter, but he might have some problems as a witness against Gaetz.

Specifically, this is a guy who, according to the indictment, not only had sex with a 17-year-old, but falsely smeared (AUDIO GAP) was a pedophile. Is that the kind of guy you want as a star witness in your case against another guy who`s accused of having sex with a minor, potentially?

MELBER: Joan, take a listen to Republican Steve Scalise on all of this.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): You know, we have heard a lot of stories. I mean, obviously, I have read their media reports, but there`s been nothing that we have seen yet from the Department of Justice.

If something`s going on, obviously, we will find out about it. Right now, it seems hard to speculate on rumors. But if something really formal happened from Justice, we would, of course, react and take action.



JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION": Well, seizing his phone is a little bit formal. I mean, that`s not -- that`s really, as Marc said, never a good sign.

And I do get the problems with Greenberg as a star witness against Gaetz. But it`s still very intriguing that whether -- what "The Times" reported, that he is cooperating. And his lawyer had a weird comment in the "Times" story, something like: I`m sure Matt Gaetz is not going to be very comfortable today.

So, that was a little bit of a shot across the bow, no real idea what it means. It`s not it`s really not legal terminology.

But there`s -- it`s not like they`re clearly sticking together. And there are a lot of people involved with this. So, there`s just -- there are a lot of witnesses, frankly, and I think we`re going to learn a lot more.

MELBER: And, Joan, what do you think of something we have touched on, which is that Matt Gaetz rose to prominence chiefly through FOX News and being a very loud Donald Trump supporter, and he`s not getting much quarter or help from either of those parts of the right-wing movement right now?

WALSH: No, not FOX, not Trump, and not Ron DeSantis, who he was very close to during DeSantis` campaigns. He won`t talk about him either. Kevin McCarthy won`t talk about him.

So, a lot of former allies are not there for him. And that, to me, is another -- again, he -- we have to consider him innocent. These are tea leaves. These are not legally legal facts.

But when your friends start not commenting on you -- Donald Trump wouldn`t even see him. People are hearing bad things. People are hearing more things than I`m hearing. So, I don`t think it looks good for him. But I -- that`s probably a little bit of wishful thinking...


WALSH: ... because, you know, I like to believe in karma, and his shouldn`t be good.

MELBER: Yes, well, we will see.

I mean, we -- every time we report the case, we`re very clear about he`s denied all allegations. He hasn`t been indicted with anything.

As to the point you raised about Trump won`t even talk to him, I mean, let`s be clear, Joan. It`s not like Trump`s busy.


WALSH: No. No, he`s not.

I mean, I could probably go see him. So, I...

MELBER: He could take a meeting in Florida.


WALSH: Sure, yes.

So, why he couldn`t find the time for poor Matt, I don`t know. But it`s not good. It`s not a good thing.



Yes, important to point out that a number of people in Trump`s orbit have on the record denied that. I don`t want to throw shade on the reporter or the report, but I think we have to remember this about a lot of the people who surrounded the president both in the White House -- or the former president, Donald Trump, in the White House and his campaign were vipers.

In fact, there was even a book called like "Team of Vipers" written by one of the staffers about how they all stab each other in the back.


WALSH: Right.

CAPUTO: And Matt Gaetz has Donald Trump`s cell phone. Donald Trump takes Matt Gaetz`s call.

When Matt Gaetz wanted to have a pardon for Roger Stone, he went over the heads of the White House staff, and he talked to the president directly about it. Matt Gaetz is not going to White House staff, former White House staff and Trump staff to get an appointment with Donald Trump.

If he wants an appointment with Donald Trump, he will call him up. And if Trump wants to see him, he will take it. So, I find it doubtful that Gaetz had asked the White House staff for these pardons, considering that dynamic. And, also, I find it doubtful he went to the Mar-a-Lago staffer, whatever you called it, and said, hey, you people who hate me, can you help me go see the president?

Don`t get me wrong. Like, I think Gaetz realizes that he`s a bit toxic right now.

MELBER: Right.

CAPUTO: And so he`s not going to go to the president...

MELBER: Well, briefly, Marc...


CAPUTO: ... meet, you know?

MELBER: I mean, briefly, Marc, it sounds like -- shade or not, it sounds like you are questioning the premise of some of those reports that put -- that were put their stock, including "The New York Times," on the pardons in staff level conversations, because you`re saying, in your reporting, that`s not the nature of the relationship between these two individuals?

CAPUTO: I think a better way to say it is, I`m gravely doubting the honesty of the anonymous sources with people who hate Matt Gaetz.

I`m not saying they don`t have a reason to hate Matt Gaetz.

WALSH: Right.

CAPUTO: But, as we have seen over the years, a lot of the people who surround the president lie.

MELBER: Yes. Well, look...

WALSH: But the president does have access...

MELBER: Go ahead, Joan.

WALSH: ... no longer to Twitter, but he can put out a statement. He did put out a statement around the pardon story.

It was not particularly warm. He`s not issuing statements to talk about what a raw deal his buddy Matt Gaetz is getting.

You have better sources than I do, Marc. So, I defer to you on that.

I still think...

MELBER: Well, I appreciate -- yes.

I appreciate the nuance. And I think you`re both gesturing at the fact that both things can be true. There could be a bunch of liars issuing lying anonymous quotes that "create stories" -- quote, unquote -- and there could also beat Donald Trump icing out Matt Gaetz.

Briefly, Marc, and then I got to go.

CAPUTO: Yes, well, I just think that just remember this. A lot of behavior that a lot of people described as creepy has come out about Matt Gaetz.

This is still a developing story. And so there`s not going to be a lot of rush for people to surround this, when it`s a developing story. Just like we`re very careful about saying, look, these are just allegations, well, a lot of these people are like, OK, what other allegations?


CAPUTO: So, that`s one of the reasons why we`re seeing them be cool...


MELBER: Well, it`s...

WALSH: Right. .

MELBER: Yes, it`s a doozy. The feds have the phone. And we will keep tracking it.

Marc and Joan, thanks to both of you.

Fitting in a break. We have a lot more tonight.

President Biden making a big announcement on foreign policy. We have that for you, America`s longest war.

We`re also keeping an eye on Minnesota, where this officer was newly charged with manslaughter.

And we`re going to go inside the Chauvin murder trial, the defense calling a controversial expert.

Stay with us.


MELBER: Minnesota officer Kim Potter indicted for manslaughter today. As we have covered, it`s an unusually swift charge for an officer in a deadly police incident.

And it comes from amidst ongoing protests and a vigil tonight over the killing of Daunte Wright, his family now represented by attorney Ben Crump, who also represents George Floyd`s family, and joins us momentarily to discuss that case as well.

Just about 10 miles away from the Wright incident, lawyers for former officers Chauvin were trying to poke holes and add doubt to the prosecution`s murder case, which has argued that what you see is what happened, that Chauvin`s knee slowly killed Floyd, while defense witnesses have been arguing that what really happened was not as visible in that video, but was within Floyd`s body.

They argue that he died because of other factors, including heart disease and drugs.


DR. DAVID FOWLER, FORMER MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: In my opinion, Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrhythmia, due to his atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, or you can write that down multiple different ways, during his restraint and subdual by the police or restraint by the police.

And then his significant contributory conditions would be, since I have already put the heart disease in part one, he would have the toxicology, the fentanyl and methamphetamine.


MELBER: Civil rights attorney Ben Crump representing the Floyd family joins me now.

I know these are busy and also difficult times for you and your clients. Thank you for making time for us tonight, sir.

CRUMP: Thank you for having me, Ari.

MELBER: Yes, sir.

We have been covering the trial many days. We went voluminously through the prosecution case. We are now sequentially in the defense side, as people know.

Your response to some of what we just heard there from the defense witness?

CRUMP: It`s a desperate attempt to try to distract us from what we saw in that video, Ari, the fact that I believe, at one point, they said the car exhaust was what killed George Floyd.

All this is, is something to try to make us look away and not focus on what happened in that video. And that video makes it clear what killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force by Officer Derek Chauvin`s knee being on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

MELBER: The other thing that`s come up is different video. And this may be less familiar to some viewers.

Again, I always mention to folks, you want to understand the full trial, you got to see the full trial and both sides of the evidence.

This is a 2019 video of Mr. Floyd, so not from that fateful day. I want to play it -- it`s the first time we`re playing it on THE BEAT -- and get your response, as a Floyd family representative, to how the defense has been using this.

Let`s take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: He keeps moving his hands around.

GEORGE FLOYD, DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: He won`t listen to what I have to say.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Put your hands on the top of your head.

FLOYD: What are you all doing...


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Put them on -- on your head.



UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: ... on the top of your head.

FLOYD: OK, OK, man.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Open your mouth. Spit out what you got. Spit out what you got. I`m going to Tase you. Spit it out.

FLOYD: I`m out.




UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: I wouldn`t jerk away from me.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Put your hands behind your...


FLOYD: ... boss.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: OK, now, slowly come on out.

FLOYD: Oh, man.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Put your hand on your head.




FLOYD: ... beat up and everything.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You`re not going to get beat up for nothing, if you just follow what we`re asking you to do.

FLOYD: Truly, I apologize for it, man. I apologize, man. I apologize.


MELBER: Now, Mr. Crump, the defense is using this. The court has ruled it admissible, meaning, whether people agree or not, it`s been deemed admissible and relevant to some degree, although it`s not from the day of the incident.

Your response to the way the defense was presenting this video evidence to the jury?

CRUMP: I think it`s completely irrelevant.

They are still trying to try to explain away why Derek Chauvin didn`t give any consideration, any professionalism or any humanity to George Floyd as he was face down and restrained and handcuffed.

To say that he resisted years ago, which I don`t see resistance there -- the White House insurrection on January 6, 2021, that was resisting law- abiding authority.

I think George Floyd at all times acted in a way that was commiserate with a person who did not feel he should be arrested, but in no way posed a threat of violence in any way to the officers, especially, Ari, when they get him face down, that he assisted in going to the ground.

You look at the entire video of George Floyd, you will see he was very compliant with the law enforcement. He just did not want to get put in the back of the police car, because of his size and that he was claustrophobic.

And there`s one point in the video where he asked, could you bring a bigger vehicle?

MELBER: Mr. Crump, the other thing I wanted to ask you about -- and I think viewers know because I mentioned it in our broadcast -- you do this work. You have been doing it for a long time, the civil rights work.

Sometimes, there aren`t videos. Sometimes, there`s not national media attention. Sometimes, there aren`t big, famous people involved. You have been doing this work for so long.

And it`s not our job here to prejudge what will happen in the Daunte Wright killing, in the Potter indictment, and those -- we will cover those trials too.

But seeing what you said earlier today, what are your reflections here about what may be, albeit tragic, what you put as a change in at least the process, the speed of the justice system in some of these cases? Your reflections tonight?

CRUMP: Yes, you know, Ari, it was profound.

I was at Reverend Al`s National Action Network Convention having a panel with the Mothers of the Movement, that being Trayvon`s mother, Michael Brown`s mother from Ferguson, Eric Garner`s mother from here in New York, and Stephon Clark`s mother, who was killed in the backyard of his grandmother`s house in Sacramento.

And we found out the news that the officer was going to be charged in the killing of Daunte Wright. And it was profound, because when you really think about it, Ari, it was the blood of their children who helped us get to this point in America, because none of them got due process. Trayvon was the only one who had his killer arrested and had to come to face the evidence in court -- in the court of law.

These other mothers never got their day in court.

So, I want to believe in my heart that we`re starting to progress now, because we saw, in George Floyd, the officers were charged within a week. Now we see, in Daunte Wright, the officers are charged in a week.

Hopefully, we can get to that point where we have equal justice under the law, where marginalized minorities who are killed by police can get equal justice as our white brothers and sisters.

MELBER: Yes. Understood.

And we`re living through history. And you have obviously been leading the charge through some of this history, along with, as you mentioned, those clients of yours, who are human beings, who lost other human beings, lost their family members. Nothing brings them back, and, as you say, whether finally the justice system addresses any of that.

So, Ben Crump on more than one story tonight, thank you for your time, sir.

CRUMP: Hey, thank you, brother. I really appreciate you covering these matters.

MELBER: Yes, sir. Thank you, man.

We`re going to fit in a break.

What else do we have? Well, foreign policy, we haven`t had time to hit it yet, but the president says he`s ending America`s longest war. We have that story.

And corporations putting heat on, of all people, their one-time friend and advocate Mitch McConnell.

Michelle Goldberg is here to break it all down on why he`s feeling heat from all sides -- when we return.


MELBER: Georgia`s crackdown on voting rights is proving costly to the state, which lost millions in revenue with the Major League pulling the All-Star Game.

Now hundreds of CEOs with a formal push against these kind of crackdowns on voting, heavy hitters, including Amazon, Starbucks, General Motors involved, including as well Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world.

Now, Georgia`s Republican Governor Kemp is defined. While the law restricts how people could even get food and water in line to vote, Kemp is making the rounds, defending himself and going ahead and agreeing with a conservative pundit who argued, well, it`s all OK because people could pack or order food.


QUESTION: People can bring their own water, their own food. That`s accurate, right?

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Yes, absolutely. They can order a pizza. They can order Grubhub or Uber Eats.


MELBER: Grubhub or Uber Eats, they`re your friend when your state`s trying to suppress, well, your right to vote.

Now, many Republican -- Republican politicians, I should say, have actually been caught off-guard by how many of these kind of corporations things are lining up against these measures. Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz have been deriding the woke corporations.

But it seems clear. And I want to tell you what`s happening here. The issue is not that corporations are just suddenly going far left. They remain pretty capitalistic, conservative forces in American life. The issue is the Republican Party becoming so extreme on issues of voting and human rights that even Wall Street just wants no part of it.

We turn now to "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg.

Welcome. How are you?


MELBER: I`m great. I want to dig into this piece of it.

Ted Cruz was also complaining about this. Take a listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We have seen the rise of the woke corporation,

These woke corporations have decided to become the political enforcer for Democrats in Washington. Major League Baseball should have to play by the same rules. And if they`re going to play partisan enforcer, they shouldn`t expect to see special goodies from Washington.


MELBER: Michelle?

GOLDBERG: Well, what is so telling about that is the implication is that, if they don`t stand up for voting rights, then they do deserve special goodies from Washington.

You don`t see among the critics of -- quote, unquote -- "woke corporations" any real attempt to rein in corporate power. None of them are signing on to the Biden administration`s attempt to raise corporate taxes to pay for infrastructure.

It`s all about punishing specific corporations that they feel like aren`t doing Republican bidding, even though the idea that corporations have free speech is something that Ted Cruz and other Republicans have pontificated on endlessly in other contexts.

MELBER: Yes, that`s sort of been their thing.

And a debate over, say, a national voter holiday, would that be more fair, or other big picture ideas seems quite distinct from what so many of these companies say they don`t even want to be anywhere near, which is a view, in a country like America, that has had such discriminatory history, voting by gender, crackdowns on race, that have a state like Georgia get away with this.

GOLDBERG: Well, look, what is going on now is such an ugly attempt to subvert democracy, to instantiate minority rule in this country in a way that will make it very, very hard going forward for the majority to ever again be able to express its political preferences.

And so I think that you can`t get past two things.

First, I think it`s very important that this whole initiative was organized and led by black executives, who -- and I think it`s something that shows why it`s so important that you have diversity at the highest level in corporations, even though people on the left can sometimes be a little bit cynical about the idea that we need a more diverse class of millionaires, as opposed to kind of social justice for -- there`s -- I think that it shows why that`s important.

And it also shows that, again, our political system is not necessarily responsive to the majority of voters. And if Republicans have their way, it will be less and less responsive to the majority of voters.

But corporations are.


GOLDBERG: Corporations need young people, people in cities, all the people that Republicans seek to disempower.

MELBER: Yes, and they need to have some baseline where they don`t seem like they`re looking the other way for things that are clearly anti-human rights, which is different than other partisan debates, whatever they may be.

Always good to see you, Michelle. Thank you.

I`m fitting in a break because we want to get to this foreign policy news from President Biden, ending the longest war -- when we come back.


MELBER: For all the news happening inside America, much of our world experiences this nation by what the U.S. does abroad, of course.

And that includes a large military footprint in the Middle East, where presidents of both parties have overseen two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a war Bush began swiftly after the 9/11 attacks.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.


MELBER: That was 20 years ago.

Since then, over 2,300 U.S. troops died in Afghanistan, over 20,000 injured, more than 43,000 Afghan civilians also killed.

The U.S. price tag? Over $2 trillion, which brings us to an unusual headline today, "The New York Times" with this news that it is the end to the nation`s longest war, marked by the president today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan, two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.

It`s time to end America`s longest war. It`s time for American troops to come home.


MELBER: A definitive statement from the new president.

As a senator, Biden voted for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Later, he was critical of the Bush approach in Iraq. And, recently, he`s been arguing against the presence in Afghanistan.

We should note that generals were pushing for a longer presence in Afghanistan, advising Biden to delay withdrawal until they had more progress against the Taliban.

"The Times" reporting Biden`s announcement rejects the Pentagon`s push to remain, showing Biden forcibly stamping his views on a policy he`s long debated, but never controlled.

After this announcement, the president visited Arlington, honoring those who served and formalizing a promise that, with the end of America`s longest war today, Americans may no longer have to meet this solemn fate.


MELBER: A final word tonight.

The other day, I shared with you some of my thoughts on Almond Joy and Mounds and candy. And you all responded on Twitter. You even made Almond Joy trend nationally on Twitter.

You can always find me there, @AriMelber on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

If you have further candy thoughts, we`re reading them, and so, apparently, were a lot of people online.