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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 4/2/21

Guests: Jon Meacham, Kristen Gibbons Feden, Cedric Alexander, Dave Aronberg


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks out on Major League Baseball`s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Georgia in protest of the state`s restrictive new voting laws. The first week of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial concludes. Another deadly attack occurs outside of the Capitol Building. New details emerge in the federal probe into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.



Hi, Ari. What a week.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: What a week, Nicolle.

I hope you are doing all right.

I would ask you -- there`s so many things I want to ask you about, serious week with the coverage.

But the Republican Party, obviously, I saw some of your coverage dealing with -- that investigation is really something with Mr. Gaetz.

WALLACE: Well, and you understand this, I`m sure, better than me from a legal perspective.

But to be at the point where the investigation is about sex trafficking with the same minor seems like a very mature investigation, one individual who had sex with that minor already charged. And it feels -- and I don`t know what you think about that, but it feels like the evidence, if it`s already in the hands of "The New York Times," literal receipts, actual receipts of payments for sex, it feels like a pretty mature investigation.

MELBER: Receipts, yes.

Yes, it`s really something. And clearly, "The Times" has been out front on that story, but the DOJ has been on it since the previous investigation. So, there`s not there`s not much of a political angle there either. We have that in the show right, along with a lot of the other stories.

So, we will get to it.

WALLACE: I`m going to go watch.

MELBER: Nicolle, good to see you. I hope you have a great weekend.

WALLACE: You too, my friend.

MELBER: Thank you very much.

I want to welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.

And, as mentioned, there is a lot of serious stuff going on. We`re tracking the breaking news. We have the latest on this deadly incident on Capitol Hill. Quite a scare there today, a tragic ending.

There`s also damning testimony that`s really come to light over the course of this week in the Chauvin murder trial. The lieutenant there accusing Officer Chauvin of using excessive force when he was on duty in the killing of George Floyd.

Also, as Nicolle and I were just discussing, it`s quite a Washington scandal, the way it`s shaping up, new details in the federal probe into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. And that includes reporting about alleged drug use and an alleged prostitution ring.

And we begin with this harrowing attack on the Capitol today. A Capitol Police officer is now dead, another officer hurt after suspect rammed police at a barricade, that suspect now also dead.

Now, police say this suspect basically tried to drive through a barrier on what is the Senate side of the Capitol. Now, Capitol Hill went on lockdown. Many were warned to shelter in place. Police indicate the suspect left a vehicle and was wielding a knife, then lunging at the police officers, who then countered, shooting him dead.

Now, the officer who died today is William "Billy" Evans, a veteran of the Capitol Police for 18 years. This afternoon, a police motorcade escorted his body en route to the medical examiner`s office. President Biden ordering flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff, Speaker Pelosi ordering the same at the Capitol.

And the acting police chief today talking about the toll that this busy and very deadly year has taken on the department.


YOGANANDA PITTMAN, ACTING U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers.

This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police, after the events of January 6 and now the events that have occurred here today. So I ask that you keep our U.S. Capitol Police family in your thoughts and prayers.


MELBER: Authorities have identified the suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green from Indiana.

I want to bring in our experts on this development today.

We`re joined by the former police chief Cedric Alexander. He was chief of DeKalb County, a 39-year law enforcement veteran, Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF agent and MSNBC analyst, and Jake Sherman, who is the founder of Punchbowl News, an MSNBC contributor.

And Jake was nearby, Indeed, he captured this dramatic video of quite a rare scene, this police helicopter landing on the East Front of the Capitol during this harrowing day.

Jim, I want to start from just your law enforcement perspective, because we have relied on you in so many emergencies when they`re live and breaking news and in the hours of the aftermath, of just what exactly happened in that interaction, the policing mechanisms that were used.

Your view of just the raw facts of this incident.

JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, just an extremely brave Capitol Police performing the function to predict the citadel of democracy.

They`re there at the gate. Apparently, this car, we don`t know if it stopped at all, but it rammed, it hit a couple of officers, and then it ran into the steel barricade that hydraulically lifts up. And a vehicle is not going to penetrate that steel barricade. It will stop a truck. It is designed to stop a truck bomb. You are not going to get past that.

And that normally stays up in that location because the Congress and Senate is not even there. And that`s a secure VIP entrance on the east side there.

Then, apparently, the assailant, Ari, jumped out with a knife, after he crashed his car and the air bag deployed, the trunk flew up. That`s quite a wallop. But yet he gets out with a knife. And we`re -- it`s unclear well if he stabbed or cut one of the officers in the face, but certainly he ran at them, according to the chief, lunged at them, and was fired upon.

And they may have been knocked down and wounded. Other Capitol Police officers may have been the ones who shot him. We don`t really know. The other officer`s injuries are reported to be serious. We love the Capitol Police. I served in Washington twice. I have worked with them. I know them. We hired many of their officers at ATF.

They`re great police. Hang in there. We love you. The country loves you. And you did your duty once again.

MELBER: Jim, it feels like it`s personal to you, because I know you have been there and you care about it. What do you think these officers are going through, as we showed the chief say there, quite a series of months here to kick off a new year for that force?

CAVANAUGH: Well, when you lose one officer, it`s tough. When you lose two, that`s really a gut punch. And then when you have 140 injured, you`re starting to believe in there`s nobody behind you.

We have lost multiple agents in ATF. We have had multiple incidents with multiple agents killed over the long years, many, many deaths. Other departments have as well. The FBI just had two agents killed in a shoot-out in Miami. So hang in there. People are going to back you. I hope the Congress will back them with more officers, more money and equipment.

And then we`re going to look into this guy`s mental state. Ari, it was reported that he was a follower of the Nation of Islam, which is a very hateful anti-Semitic group. But they have not been known to commit large- scale violence or attacks. They have been around a long time, their leader Louis Farrakhan.

I mean, they`re listed as a hate group, and his statements are extremely anti-Semitic. And any of us who have been involved in investigating hate know about them. And, apparently, he had some connection, but whether that was a connection for the attack, it`s possible.

But he apparently was despondent, out of work, he had no food, he was hungry. He was a desperate man in a pandemic, and he did a desperate act. And it also looks like not very much planning. A car and a knife, doesn`t sound like much planning to me.

MELBER: Yes. Yes.

CAVANAUGH: It sounds like just a vulgar suicide all of a sudden.

MELBER: Let me bring in Jake to ask you, what did you see today?


Well, Ari, I was sitting here in the House Periodical Press Gallery, where I said every day and where I was on January 6. And we have, as these gentlemen probably know, a pager system here in the Capitol, where, if there`s an emergency, they will blast it out over the pager system.

And they said: We`re locking down the building. Stay away from entrances. And I ran actually to a restroom that we have down the hallway that overlooks the East Front of the Capitol.

And I will say this. And Jim alluded to this, I think, a little bit in an earlier broadcast today, but the response -- I have been covering Congress for 11 years in this Capitol every single day pretty much. The response today was very, very fast.

I saw the Metropolitan Police Department, which doesn`t usually come to the Capitol unless it`s an emergency, Park Police, and then the Park Police helicopter came down and landed on the East Front of the Capitol quite quickly, within a few minutes.

So I will say there`s no good about this situation. The Capitol Police is - - the morale is down. We have lost an officer today. Another one`s seriously injured. But if there`s any, not even upside, but if there`s any takeaway, it`s that the response time has improved, and -- since January 6.

And just one more note here, Ari. Congress, as Jim just indicated, is getting ready to spend $2 billion to improve the security of the Capitol, hire more officers, physical barriers around the entire complex. So, this place, the citadel of democracy, as you said, is a -- is going to just become a lot more fortified and secure in the coming months and years ahead.

MELBER: Yes, Cedric, that speaks to the debate that had been going in Washington.

Indeed, recently, there were some Republican leaders saying that it looked to militarized, there was too much security. The tragic events today and this officer down reminds everyone why this is a terror target, which was known before January 6. This was, of course, domestic MAGA terror on the 6th. Today, they`re still investigating exactly the nature of the incident.

Your views on fortifying the Capitol, Cedric?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well I think it`s important for all of us to note, certainly, we all would like to get back to normal, where we can move around and think about things prior to pre-COVID and certainly pre-January 6.

But the reality of it is this. There`s clearly some threats that are out there. That was -- became very evident today. And I think we still have to keep in mind we have to maintain a certain level of precaution. We`re a nation that`s going through a lot at the same time.

We have a pandemic we`re attempting to recover from. We have the George Floyd trials that are going on. And, of course, we have the recent incident there on January 6, and now coupled with this incident there today, where police officers have lost their lives.

So, I think we`re going to have to maintain a posture of caution. If you`re asking me as a former two-time police chief, I would say yes. And, certainly, we don`t like the fortification of our U.S. Capitol being what it is. But I think we have to face the reality of where we are currently in this nation and just have to move very methodically back to where we need to be.


Yes, and I`m being told here in our newsroom, since we have got come on the air, that the Capitol Police have also now announced, my producer tells me, that the other officer injured is in stable condition, getting treatment. That`s new just since we began the program.

Jake, finally to you.

Will the security of the Capitol and Washington continue to be -- as we look at this scene here, 6:10 p.m. in Washington, after this officer was killed today.

Will this security continue to be a point of contention? Because, as I mentioned -- and "The New York Times" was writing this up today as well -- there had been already a bit of a partisan fissure, perhaps for the unfortunate reason that some, not all, but some members of the Republican Party were trying to resuscitate or downplay the very real security threat that occurred on the 6th.

SHERMAN: Yes, it`s going to be a point of contention, because there are people, Mitch McConnell recently -- and this was before this incident, to be fair, but Mitch McConnell said the defenses around the Capitol, which have largely been removed now, but said, it reminded him of being in Kabul, Afghanistan.

As Cedric and Jim just said, there needs to be some sort of balance between openness and security. And Congress hasn`t found that balance yet.

I just spoke to Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio, who is -- who runs -- he chairs the committee that funds the Capitol Police. He said he`s talking to everybody. He just spoke last week to the Israelis about how they secure the Knesset.

So, we`re dealing with this new normal post January 6, where we have to figure out how to protect this building, which, by the way, as we put in our newsletter tonight, has really become a target in the middle of this -- the nation`s capital.

So, I don`t think there are easy answers. And like everything, it`s going to be partisan. I hope it`s not, because there`s not only members of Congress, but reporters and 10,000 people work up here every day who want nothing to do with politics, who are just here to -- maintenance people, repair people, lawyers who just want to do their job and not have to be in mortal danger.

MELBER: Yes, a tough scene, as I reported earlier today, a tragedy at the Capitol, and as Jim Cavanaugh and others have pointed out in our coverage, a tragedy that, thanks to some of the officers, did still secure the perimeter and was not, in that sense, worse.

But our thoughts and prayers obviously go out there to all affected.

I want to thank Chief Alexander, Jim Cavanaugh, and Jake Sherman, our experts kicking off this coverage.

And we will stay, of course, on this story, bring you updates on this tragedy this hour any time we get them.

Now we have our shortest break on THE BEAT. It`s just 30 seconds. When we return, there`s stunning details about this federal probe into Republican Matt Gaetz and the allegations of drug use and prostitution. It`s a big Republican scandal. That`s the way it`s shaping up.

We return in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT.

We have been covering more than one big story here ending a pretty busy week. And this came up and I was discussing it with Nicolle Wallace at the top of our program.

These are explosive new allegations against a pretty prominent Republican congressman, Matt Gaetz, "The New York Times" reporting on a DOJ probe over allegations of a pay-for-sex scheme, "The Times" citing sources close to the federal probe that say, this is all about Congressman Gaetz`s involvement with multiple women recruited online -- quote -- "for sex and receiving cash payments."

The probe initiated with Gaetz`s associate, a former Florida tax collector named Joel Greenberg. Now, he was already indicted -- this was last year -- on crimes that include federal sex trafficking. He has pled not guilty.

"The Times" reports, though, that Greenberg would meet women online, and then introduce them to Gaetz, who would then -- quote -- "have sex with them."

And according to people close to investigation -- quote -- "Some of the men and women took Ecstasy, an illegal mood-altering drug, before having sex," including, "The Times" reports, Mr. Gaetz.

"The Times" also reviewed payments, evidence, money that went to women that were made with online apps, reportedly showing, for example, a payment to a woman from Gaetz.

We want to mention we`re quoting "The Times"` report. NBC News has not been able to independently review those underlying receipts and documents.

Now, what does Gaetz`s office say? -- quote -- "That he never paid for sex" and that he -- quote -- "refutes all the allegations completely."

As always, we want to bring you that side of the story. That`s his position now.

This comes, though, days after Gaetz did confirm that there is a DOJ investigation, that it does regard these issues. He just said the underlying allegations against him were totally false and that he was a subject, not a target.

Now, to be clear, no charges have been brought against Gaetz at this time. He is a prominent congressman. He is known for his very public, very recurring loyalty to Donald Trump. And his communications director, meanwhile, has now resigned today, citing -- quote -- "principle."

We are joined by Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones."

There`s a lot here. And some of it is obviously scandalous, David, in its in its contours and the receipts and the allegations. We also, as always, are careful to report the nuance and the fact that Mr. Gaetz has not been charged and his denials.

When you take it all together here, what do you have for this very, very vocal Trump ally in the Republican Party, David?

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I always thought of Matt Gaetz as Donald Trump`s Mini-Me, and that he wanted to be, that he wasn`t a member of Congress looking to legislate. He was a member of Congress looking to troll and to troll on behalf of Donald Trump.

In fact, he used to put out press releases any time Donald Trump said something positive about him. He thought that was big news. So, he was really a leader of the Trumpiest of the Trump members of the House.

And so he had a future in this, maybe a future at a conservative network, maybe a future leading some of these people in Congress, more so. But it`s quite interesting that the investigation was begun by the Trump Justice Department, when Trump Attorney General Bill Barr was in charge, when Bill Barr had instituted, we`re told, guidances to the Justice Department to be very careful when it comes to looking at elected officials.

So that -- again, you want to be careful, and we should be careful. But that seems to me that Barr instituted -- no pun here -- a high bar for these type of inquiries if they involved an elected member of Congress.

So, the fact that this happened under the Trump regime shows you, indicates that there`s some serious stuff here. And probably it will take a little while for us to find out all the details and to see whether or not it`s enough for him to be indicted.


And you make a fair, nuanced point there. It`s -- you`re sort of -- you`re low-key insulting Bill Barr`s integrity, although you wouldn`t be the first. He had more veterans of the department call for his resignation than any A.G. in history.

CORN: Yes.

MELBER: But you`re making the point that, if he was going to use that, as you put it, higher bar, this still clearly cleared that.

As for how Gaetz made himself such a big figure, at least in right-wing circles, let`s take a look at some of his commentary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Matt Gaetz seen here wearing a gas mask as the House passed a multibillion-dollar funding bill to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): What we see from this Marxist movement in Black Lives Matter to totally overturn our country.

The left in America has incited far more political violence than the right.

What we see in this impeachment is a kangaroo court, and Chairman Schiff is acting like a malicious Captain Kangaroo.

There was ballot laundering going on here.


MELBER: That`s how he talked, Dave.

But, as a lawyer, you`re not here to analyze whether he sounds ridiculous or not or thirsty or anything of the like, but other Republican colleagues who may become witnesses were concerned about the legality.

For example, more than half-a-dozen telling The Daily Beast that they knew of Gaetz`s use of alcohol and illegal drugs, the proclivity, as they put it, for -- quote -- "younger women." Well-known among Republican lawmakers. Gaetz was dating a college student over the age of consent, they say, in 2018.

A former Republican staffer said Wednesday their office had an informal rule not to allow their members to appear next to Gaetz during TV hits.



First, I do think he sounded thirsty. As far as from a legal standpoint, he`s got a lot of problems, because child sex trafficking is punishable by up to life in prison. And I know that there are a lot of things that are salacious that are making the news, such as the drugs and the fact that he apparently showed pictures of nude women on the floor of the House.

But as long as they were not underage girls, that`s just salacious stuff that won`t matter in this case. What matters is the cash app. If prosecutors can show a tie between compensation, something of value, and sex acts, then you have got him.

The challenge was that he admitted to hotel rooms and flights and expenses. But cash is king. And if you could show a pattern of these cash transactions around the same time that he had these hotel room encounters with this girl, then you really got him, because the only way you`re going to prove the sex acts is either through documentation like that, through the girls` testimony, or through Joel Greenberg, if he flips.

And the good thing for Joel Greenberg now is that he`s looking at a bigger fish than he is being investigated. Unfortunately for Matt Gaetz, he`s looking around, and there is no bigger fish, which means it`s him.


So, Dave, what do you see in an investigation like this? What is left for them to do? Because "The Times" appears to have its hands on real evidence?

ARONBERG: You know, Ari, I was wondering why it took six months to develop this investigation.

And I think it`s because child sex trafficking is not as easy as just finding the date of birth of a girl in question. I think now we know we`re dealing with an underage girl, because it`s the same girl that`s the victim in the charges against Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector.

So, now the only question is, did Matt Gaetz have sex with this girl? If he did, at the very least, it`s a second-degree felony in the state of Florida, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. At worst for him, it`s child sex trafficking, and you can get up to life.

Another problem for Matt is that he could be engaged in a conspiracy. Joel Greenberg isn`t just being charged with child sex trafficking. It`s identity theft and wire fraud and a host of other things. Matt can be brought in and charged with all those same crimes if he was part of a conspiracy with Joel Greenberg.

And there`s evidence that he was. There`s evidence, apparently, that he was caught on video inside the tax collector`s office in Seminole County rummaging around through I.D.s as part of an I.D. theft ring. Things are looking really badly for him.


In conclusion, since you mentioned that, we will put up briefly on the screen The Daily Beast reporting on that, text messages that pointed the feds to Matt Gaetz, which include this pursuit of allegedly fake I.D.s.

So, as you mentioned, for viewers, we want to give the evidence. There`s a lot here. Our standards rules require us to mention that Mr. Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

But I think what Dave, David and the reporting here mentioned shows is, there`s a lot of questions and what appears to be quite substantial evidence in the story.

Thanks to both of you.

We have to fit in a break, but, coming up, the sustained pressure on Georgia`s voting law, well, it just hit a new inflection, Major League Baseball pulling out of the All-Star Game. We`re going to get into why that matters for the new tools to try to stop voter suppression.

And we have two legends here tonight, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and historian Jon Meacham, on all that and a lot more.

But, first, we`re going to get into something we have been doing all week. And, boy, is it important. What are we learning from the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder, according to prosecutors, of George Floyd? A police witness calling out the excessive force on the stand.


MELBER: The first week of the Chauvin murder trial wrapped up today with impactful testimony from Minneapolis police Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman.

That`s the senior officer at the scene testifying Chauvin`s use of force was -- quote -- "totally unnecessary."


MATTHEW FRANK, MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR: What is your view of that use of force during that time period?


FRANK: What do you mean?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, first of all, pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of -- that amount of time is just uncalled for.

I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger.


MELBER: Uncalled for.

Now, this is significant testimonies. Zimmerman is basically giving the jury a lens to understand this, even from what they might see as a pro- police or sympathetic perspective. Zimmerman added, the knee on the neck is clearly deadly force.

It`s another police officer condemning Chauvin the stand.

Now, reporting from inside the courtroom revealed all jurors were taking copious notes during this witness testimony. And as we have seen on camera this week, Chauvin also taking notes. He looked up at one point during the questioning. The defense came in. They tried to poke holes through a cross- examination of the same witness, Zimmerman.


ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: You`re not out patrolling the streets, making arrests, things of that nature?


NELSON: All right.

And it`s fair to say, then, that your experience with the use of force of late has been primarily through training?

ZIMMERMAN: Through what?

NELSON: Your training.


NELSON: The frequency with which you have to use higher levels of force as an investigator doesn`t happen all that often, right?


NELSON: It would not be within your normal role of -- or job duties to do such a use of force analysis, right?

ZIMMERMAN: That`s correct.


MELBER: So, now, as a viewer, you have seen both sides of some of what the jury saw from that witness.

We`re joined by civil rights attorney Kristen Gibbons Feden, a lead prosecutor in the trial of Bill Cosby.

Thanks for being here.

KRISTEN GIBBONS FEDEN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Of course. It`s a pleasure. I wish it was under different circumstances, of course.

MELBER: I feel that way very often in the work that we do around here, so I understand what you mean.

When you look specifically at this day`s testimony, from the jury`s perspective -- now, they can draw their own views and eventually their own understanding of the facts of what happened "on the video" -- quote, unquote -- what is the point and what was the purpose of the prosecution presenting this fellow officer`s essentially criticism?

GIBBONS FEDEN: Absolutely.

Lieutenant Zimmerman was one of the most powerful testimony that we have heard today, because, all week, keep in mind, Ari, Nelson spent much time talking to the bystanders and trying to minimize their testimony by saying, well, you`re pleading, you`re screaming, you`re telling us what to do, but you`re not trained as a police officer, so you`re not sure what a police officer would do when faced in this circumstance.

Lieutenant Zimmerman blew the defense`s argument out of the water, because now you actually have a police officer, a veteran police officer, talking about what should and what should not have done.

And not only did he talk about that it was totally unnecessary, but he also talked about how Mr. Floyd no longer posed a threat when he was face down. He also talked about how Mr. Floyd no longer posed a threat when he was handcuffed behind his back.

And then I think also very damning is the fact that he talked about that, since 1985, the Minneapolis Police Department has been taught that, when you`re in a prone position, when you`re handcuffed and your arms are stretched behind you, it is very difficult to breathe.

And so when Mr. Nelson said in his opening remarks that the use of -- that Chauvin did what he was trained with his 19 years of experience to do, that is absolutely undermined. And it blows that theory out of the water.

MELBER: Right. Yes.

And let`s take your analysis there, which goes to another key passage I want folks to see, passage from the testimony, where you really have to get into, what is the maneuver being practiced in the context and the duration for which it is being deployed?

And so something that, in policing, which is supposed to be regulated under training, rules and law, something that might be a reasonable use of force for a brief amount of time or under emergency or exigent circumstances can become quite unreasonable when it is deadly.

And this point, again, for me, as a legal observer as well, I thought they really got down to the heart of it here that the way this was done, under police protocol, was this heavy or top-tier deadly force.

Take a look.


FRANK: Have you ever in all the years you have been working for the Minneapolis Police Department been trained to kneel on the neck of someone who is handcuffed behind their back in a prone position?

ZIMMERMAN: No, I haven`t.

FRANK: Is that -- if that were done, would that be considered force?

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.

FRANK: What level of force might that be?

ZIMMERMAN: That would be the top tier, the deadly force.


ZIMMERMAN: Because of the fact that, if your knee is on a person`s neck, that can kill him.


MELBER: Kristen, walk us through the legal significance there, because to compare it to the use of force today in the Capitol, for example, top-tier deadly force used in an emergency setting where someone has used, say, a vehicle or a weapon to kill someone, right, is legally quite different from when someone is prone, defenseless and not a deadly threat, apparently to anyone.


When you`re talking about the use of force, it has to be assessed based on the circumstances, right? So, very different from the Capitol, which, sadly, happened today.

You`re talking about an individual, Mr. Floyd, who was handcuffed. As I said, he was in the prone position. He was not able to move. He was not able to fight back.

And so one of the things that we were -- that came out through lieutenant Zimmerman`s testimony is that, when someone is in the -- when someone is erratic, which I wouldn`t actually call Mr. Floyd that. But even if you were to give the defense the benefit of doubt, if he was erratic, once you are able to restrain that individual, the use of force and the application of the level of force changes.

And so it is ever-changing. Once you are able to gain control, once you`re able, as Mr. -- as Lieutenant Zimmerman put it, threw him onto the ground and handcuffed him, the level of force that you utilized should have changed.

And keep in mind, the level of force that Chauvin used was lethal from start to finish, nine minutes and 22 seconds` long.


GIBBONS FEDEN: And, at a certain point, Ari, you know -- I`m certain you have seen this video -- he stopped moving.

And not only that. I think one of the other things that`s really important is, all Chauvin had to do was lift his knee. All he had to do was take his hand from his from his leg and feel for his pulse, feel for Mr. Floyd`s pulse.

He objectively, affirmatively failed to do that. So, not only did he utilize an excessive use of force, but he also affirmatively failed to offer any efforts to render any lifesaving efforts in order to see whether Mr. Floyd was, in fact, breathing and whether, in fact, he needed to be rendered lifesaving aid.

MELBER: All important points.

Kristen, thank you for joining us.


MELBER: We`re going to fit in a break.

I have news that I want everyone to know about, because it involves a successful tactic, activists say, to try to retaliate against and perhaps even overturn Georgia`s voter suppression law.

And tonight on THE BEAT, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joins us, along with historian Jon Meacham. It`s a conversation we believe will be important.

But coming up first, we have new details about this suspect in the Capitol Hill attack. We`re getting more updates into the newsroom. That`s next.


MELBER: We have an update on this Capitol Hill attack that occurred today.

NBC News has now confirmed Noah Green, the 25-year-old who rammed a car into the police barrier, is the now deceased suspect, killing one officer, injuring another. He himself was shot and killed by police.

Now, there are photos from the suspect`s social media profile that are emerging. We do not know a motive. We were discussing that with our law enforcement experts earlier in the hour.

But we will bring you the updates as we get them, including what people are learning about the now deceased suspect in today`s attack.

Now, when we come back, the story I told you about, a governor under pressure, Major League Baseball making a big move, pulling out of the All- Star Game in Georgia, all because of the voter suppression law.

We will be joined, I`m thrilled to tell you, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jon Meacham coming up.


MELBER: Turning to a major development at the intersection of politics and sports.

Major League Baseball, they`re out, pulling the All-Star Game completely out of Atlanta, in a formal protest of this controversial Georgia voter restriction law that just passed, the decision coming after the president said he supports this kind of move.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would strongly support them doing that. This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they`re doing in Georgia and 40 other states.


MELBER: The league says it`s acting to support voting rights for all Americans and oppose unfair restrictions at the ballot box.

The bombshell comes after years of, of course, increasing activism after tensions from within the sports world, from Colin Kaepernick to taking the knee, to LeBron James and others really pushing their own teams and their industries to take sides, to not be neutral when it comes to saying things like Black Lives Matter or human rights are equal or police murder is wrong.

Now, we have, as promised, the right guests to get into all of this, the sports, the civil rights and the history.

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He has won every individual and team award, while, off the court, he`s been a social and political activist for many decades. He was given the Medal of Freedom by none other than President Obama. He`s the chairman of his very own Skyhook Foundation.

And we are also joined by the Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Jon Meacham. He wrote a bestselling biography of George H.W. Bush and has advised the current president, Joe Biden, on some historical matters and major speeches.

I think it is safe to say that, while I don`t know everything my viewers know, I know that most of these viewers know both of you.

Thanks for being here, both of you.



JON MEACHAM, NBC NEWS HISTORIAN: I have a feeling a few more people may know Kareem.


MELBER: Well, Kareem stands a little taller than you, Jon. But I only mean that literally.


MELBER: Kareem, what does it mean for Major League Baseball to take a stand like this right now?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I think it`s very significant, Ari, because it shows that this means something to everybody.

This is something that we all want to see, and voter suppression is not what democracy is about. We all want to see it end. And by Major League Baseball making a statement like that, they have shown that they are concerned and that the people -- that so many of their players are people of color. They`re probably worried about it also.


MEACHAM: Well, I think this is a case where one of the most important elements in the republic is doing the right thing. And that`s the private sector -- sort of a semi-private sector, I guess. It is the national pastime.

But this was a decision by one of the elements in a big, complicated, disputatious country that decided that they were going to take a stand against a self-evident wrong. And I think that, if we`re going to come out of this corrosive, reflexively divisive moment, it is going to be when people of good will actually vote -- vote, speak and act with their pocketbooks. And this was clearly within that tradition.


I think both of you put it well. It was really interesting, because we have been charting some of these developments. But this is a big, big player coming in to draw that line. And it is not that people want MLB or these teams to take a side on every single issue: How do you reopen a school? Are they going to put out a 10-point plan?

But on these fundamental issues of voting rights and human rights, it is striking.

Kareem, I wanted to get into something you know a lot about. You have advocated that college athletes should be compensated, that that`s more fair.


MELBER: The Supreme Court taking up a related issue, which is whether student athletes can get payments for things like equipment or even internships.

The justices did sound sympathetic. Let`s take a quick listen.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: The antitrust laws should not be a cover or exploitation of the student athletes.

CLARENCE THOMAS, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: It just strikes me as odd that the coaches` salaries have ballooned, and they`re in the amateur ranks, as are the players.

ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: Schools that are naturally competitors have all gotten together in an organization, and they use that power to fix athletic salaries at extremely low levels.


MELBER: Kareem, there seems to be indications that the entire framework for how some elites in the law are viewing this is changing. Your thoughts?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, there is an extreme double standard, Ari.

The players, football, basketball -- football and basketball make up most of the money that the NCAA gets to play with. And the players get room, board and tuition, maybe something for books. The coaches make millions of dollars.

That`s a disparity, that we can`t tolerate that. If it`s amateur sports, then the coaches should be teachers after school, and they shouldn`t get paid any more than any of the other teachers, if that was going to be an equitable way of dealing with this.

But that is not the case. The players are supposed to be amateurs. But the coaches, they make millions of dollars. What`s that all about?


ABDUL-JABBAR: That`s an inequity that needs to be rectified.

And until that happens, the players are going to feel exploited. There`s no two ways about it.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, Jon, it is something a lot of people know about because people love the -- and feel very close to their college athletics programs.

There is concept of legal fictions in jurisprudence, but some of this looks a little more like it`s edging towards just legal B.S.


One of the things we do in this country is, in the words of the preamble of the Constitution, we`re seeking a more perfect union.

Absolutely parallel with that and intrinsic to it is seeking a more just union. And one of the things I think links these two questions is, what`s just, what`s right?

The politics has to be moral, not in a sectarian sense. This is not about a pulpit or an altar. But it is about what Thomas Paine, in the very beginning, talked about common sense. It`s about natural law. It`s you look at the situation, and something strikes you as right, it strikes you is wrong.

What we`re supposed to do in this country is create a system, a context in which we seek the right. And this is another example where it seems as though we`re, at least however slowly, moving in the right direction.



ABDUL-JABBAR: It`s a little bit -- I think it`s going too slow.

MELBER: Go ahead, Kareem.


ABDUL-JABBAR: I think it`s going a little bit too slow, because, as we move forward, people are starting to see that, geez, they pay a whole lot of other people that work for the university.

They pay the student band. They pay a whole lot of people, but they don`t pay the athletes. And again, it`s just an inequity. As Mr. Meacham so clearly pointed out, it`s an inequity that makes no sense.

And I think the athletes...



MEACHAM: That`s a really important word. Inequity is the right -- exactly the right word.

It`s an injustice. It`s an inequity, and it needs to be addressed.


And then it`s all on blast, because all the fans and everybody knows about these high-paid coaches. They know about the athletics merchandising. They know about the money these athletes are making that they`re not seeing.

Kareem, while I have you here, we have been marking on THE BEAT, and, this weekend, America will mark what is this anniversary, 53 years since Martin Luther King was gunned down at assassinated. We convened different generations of civil rights leaders, which was striking, given how BLM has been growing lately, to discuss -- this was just last night -- where we are headed.

Take a look.


REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": In many ways, Donald Trump helped unite us, because he was a manicured, Northern, urban version of raw white supremacy, raw racism.

ALICIA GARZA, PRINCIPAL, BLACK TO THE FUTURE ACTION FUND: We are delivering a clear mandate to this administration that statements about white supremacy and white nationalism are not enough.

It`s about making sure that we understand that investing in black communities is an investment in all of us.


MELBER: Kareem, I have about a minute left.

And I just wanted to get your reflections on Dr. King`s legacy, on the other civil rights leaders and what, perhaps for often tragic and overdue reasons, has been a really reignited civil rights and BLM movement over the past year.

ABDUL-JABBAR: I think Dr. King`s legacy is one of clarity, something that we can all understand and promote, because it lifts all of us up.

Until we are able to recognize the moral and civil rights of all of us, none of us are going to be able to enjoy those rights, because it just goes around, and it`s like a cycle. Pretty soon, one group is singled out, and then another group and then another group, and pretty soon it will come to your group.

So we have to make sure that all groups are protected and all groups are offered the equal protection under the law that our founding fathers thought was the right idea. And I haven`t seen another idea come along that beats that one.

So, we have got to support that and make sure that that is what we believe in and that is what we practice.

And what`s happening in places like Georgia, Texas, and so many other states, that that`s not what America is supposed to be about. We`re going to have to do something about it.

MELBER: Yes, I really -- I appreciate you tying it all together there, Kareem.

And it`s what Dr. King, when we read his words, said. It`s what other theologians have said. The whole point is, we can`t wait until one particular group is singled out. Indeed, history, sadly, shows that often it`s too late if you do it that way.

And so I believe, even though these are sometimes sad anniversaries in a way, hopefully, we can all be a little bit inspired by them. And there was that major action today in Georgia as well.

So, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jon Meacham, giving us food for thought heading into the weekend, thank you both.

We will be right back.


MELBER: As always, thank you for watching THE BEAT.

I will be back with you Monday 6:00 p.m. Eastern, if you care to join.

If you want to keep in touch, you can always find me online @AriMelber on social media, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We have more on that MLK special if you visit me at any of those pages.

And keep it locked right here. "THE REIDOUT" starts now.