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

Guests: Edward Markey, Marq Claxton, Paul Butler


The country reacts to the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict. New reporting links Congressman Matt Gaetz to Roger Stone. Senator Edward Markey teams up with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for the Green New Deal.



Hi, Ari.

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

Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

And we begin tonight`s program with Derek Chauvin. He is spending his first full day in prison today as a convicted murderer for taking George Floyd`s life. That`s according to the jury. You`re looking at the new processing photo. He awaits sentencing through the normal process.

"The New York Times" is reporting now June 16 will be that next day of judgment, the sentencing day. He faces 40 years, up to 40 years maximum behind bars for what the jury determined was a murder, kneeling on George Floyd`s neck for over nine minutes.

We can tell you a few more details as they have come out in this process, Chauvin held in solitary confinement right now, that`s 23 hours a day, of Minnesota`s only maximum security prison. He`s placed in the isolated wing now of the prison because of, according to "New York Times" reporting, fears for his safety. He will be alone in his cell for all but one hour each day, during which he is allowed to exercise.

And, even then, "The Times" reports he will be kept away from all of the prisoners and remain under the watch of prison guards inside the unit.

We can also show you what his prison cell looks like in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota. This is the cell where he exists now. He will be monitored by cameras and guards who are supposed to check in every 30 minutes while he is in isolation.

After the verdict, America saw how this system works. It was really striking. I was watching it, as I imagine many of you were, yesterday, Chauvin led out in cuffs, the person who used to do the enforcement facing enforcement of his own convicted murder, taken into custody, transferred to prison.

This was about an hour after this:


PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, JUDGE: "We the jury in the above entitled matter as to count one, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty."

"We the jury in the above entitled matter as to count two, third-degree murder, perpetrating an imminently dangerous act, find the defendant guilty."

"We the jury in the above entitled matter as to count three, second-degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk, find the defendant guilty."


MELBER: Guilty, guilty, guilty. Guilty on all charges.

This moment is clearly a landmark verdict. It reverberated across Minneapolis, across the state, across the country when the news broke and continued really across the world today.

It comes in a context that we have been reporting, that you have been living through, years of protests, calls for basic accountability, a reckoning on race and policing. We witnessed people celebrating, people reacting all over this nation.

This is one verdict in one case involving one person and his family. Leaders, reformers and experts are saying there is far more work to be done across the system.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This verdict brings us a step closer. And the fact is, we still have work to do.

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": The war and the fight is not over. We still have cases to fight. But this gives us the energy to fight on.

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): This was accountability. But it`s not yet justice. Justice for us is saving lives.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.


MELBER: We`re living through something right now.

It comes out of a tragedy. It comes out of what a jury found to be a murder. So it`s grim and sad in all those ways, but it is also important what we do today, tomorrow and beyond as a society together.

We`re already seeing some steps that are real, Attorney General Garland announcing a new investigation into the wider conduct of the Minneapolis Police Department.

We should note that, but for the brave recording made that day in the video, had there been no video, many people would have had to respond to a police report that are often treated as basically the story, that it was a -- quote -- "medical incident," "physical resistance," was alleged, by Floyd.

But it was that teenager I mentioned who actually recorded this now murder, according to the law, that changed everything, this renewed push in Congress to pass federal policing laws, literally as an honor and named after George Floyd.

So you have one verdict, and it is -- and we`re going to talk about this in a special report later tonight -- it is, let`s be clear, an extremely rare occurrence for a police officer to be convicted of murder on the job. We`re going to get into that and why that matters as America deals with this.

Here, it`s a response to a past killing. All of that is very different from trying to finally, maybe, possibly in America build a criminal justice system that starts out equal.

I want to welcome now Michael Steele -- he served as a lieutenant governor and used to run the RNC -- and former federal prosecutor Paul Butler.

Good evening to both of you, gentlemen.



MELBER: I`m all right.

Michael, I want to start big picture. We just set up what we`re all going through. The law matters, and it matters most when lives are at stake. But I want to broaden above the law for a moment, as this has been digested over these 26 hours or so, Michael.

STEELE: Right.

MELBER: What does it mean to both have what the jury found to be justice, and yet to know how aberrant and rare such justice is?

STEELE: Well, it means a lot.

I think it turns some corners that we have been trying to turn for generations. When you look at individuals like a Paul Butler and others in the legal profession who are grinding through this process, as African- Americans, recognizing that they`re trying these cases and trying to uphold this system of justice, and at the same time watching what happens to individuals in their community, it is frustrating, it is agonizing.

And I think part of what you heard yesterday was just like this collective, oh, my God, did that happen?

And -- because it just -- it`s so surreal in many respects for a lot of people, particularly for this generation that is -- that has a very different outlook about our politics, a very different attitude about what this country should be and what it should aspire to, and are much more willing to condemn it for its past transgressions, let alone the current transgressions, than they are to just go, well, that was history, and we`re still moving on.

And so I think this is a significant turning point. And I pray that it is. It`s not that I think that it is. I have to pray that it is too, because this is a great work. This goes to a lot of what a lot of those who soldiered on before had been trying to get in front of us, that this work does not stop,

Dr. King made it very clear, as did Malcolm X and so many others, that the struggle is not just this moment. It`s what future generations are going to have to be prepared to engage in as well. And it seems this generation has figured out a way to sort of turn that lock, open that door, get inside the room, and mess things up a little bit.

And that`s a good thing. That`s a good thing.


PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I agree with Michael. It`s good trouble.

In the eyes of the law, Derek Chauvin is a murderer. It`s official. That`s what our eyes told us. And now that`s what the jury has found. And it should have been obvious, based on the overwhelming evidence. But, in other cases, what`s obvious is different than what the jury finds.

So, trials aren`t about social change. They`re about accountability and bringing people who have caused harm to justice. One police officer has been held accountable. And the law has recognized that one black man`s life mattered.

Now the challenge is to move from the rare occasional victories to equal justice under the law being embedded in policing and in the criminal legal system.

MELBER: Yes, I really appreciate what both of you are guiding us towards.

And we divided up the opening of the conversation tonight for this very reason, that there`s the case and then there`s policy.

Both of our guests stay.

I want to remind everyone, George Floyd`s now, as the jury found murder on tape, was the spark for a national movement that was about so much more than a single case, this police accountability reform we`re discussing.

And, as mentioned, the House has passed a George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March. It was a priority for Speaker Pelosi. Credit there. They rushed to pass it, but no action in the Senate.

Now, the bill does important things, according to reformers, including completely reforming the qualified immunity that can protect officers, enhancing pattern and practice probes. We discussed one of those tonight.

Creates a national police conduct registry. This hasn`t even been collectively, basically tracked, which is a huge issue, and tries to ban and restrict most controversial practices, like these no-knock warrants and choke holds.

The Biden administration this week, right now, grabbing the ball and saying, this is important. Now`s the time to act.


BIDEN: George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There`s meaningful police reform legislation in his name.

HARRIS: The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is part of George Floyd`s legacy.

The president and I will continue to urge the Senate to pass this legislation.

BIDEN: It shouldn`t take a whole year to get this done.


MELBER: Michael, it sits in a divided Senate, where virtually everything is subjected to Mitch McConnell`s supermajority demands.


MELBER: What is the way forward there?

STEELE: Well, it`s a tough way forward, because look at everything else that has sat in the Senate over the last 13 years. I mean, it`s just -- it`s not just what we see with this legislation. It goes back to the renewal of the Civil Rights Act -- the Voting Rights Act, which sat in the drawer of the majority leader at that time.

So the reality of it is what the vice president said and certainly what the president has emphasized about, it shouldn`t take that long, well, it does. And it means for us, as citizens, that we will have to continue to bend that arc towards justice. And we do that by voices. We do that by our vote. We do that by our actions.

And I -- look, my point is, for Republicans, just get off the dime on this. You are on the wrong side of history here. This is going to move. These changes are coming. And you will either go down in history as the quint -- just the quintessential obstructionist to the change, which is so antithetical to what our history was and how we started out as a national party, to now see us, all this time later, through all those struggles, and the bravery of great men and women to sort of stand in that breach.

To now be the one blocking the door, shutting down the change is not is not where you need to be or where you should be. And if you think you`re going to go out and talk to America about how much you want these types of changes that support the rights of individuals, well, let`s start with this.

Let`s start with the rights of protecting communities from abuse by government authorities. Let`s start with locking in the vote for these communities. Let`s do the basic things that are consistent with our Constitution. That`s where the work is going to be. That`s where the change is coming.

And, as I have said before, I think with you, Ari, you`re either going to get on board or get rolled over by it.

MELBER: There it is, and Michael Steele laying out the ethical imperative, as well as where the people are going.

And if we need to be guided, as you mentioned, Michael, the good trouble, the young people that have pushed harder and faster and aren`t putting up with as much, and what is clearly a young and, by the way, multiracial coalition in BLM around the country...


MELBER: ... yes, maybe we need to really listen hard to them because they`re the future.

A fitting way to begin our program tonight. I want to thank Michael Steele and Paul Butler. Thanks to both of you.

We have our shortest break, which is coming up, 30 seconds.

Later tonight, there`s new reporting linking Matt Gaetz to Roger Stone. We will get into that.

But, first, I have a special report tonight on dealing with the police blue wall of silence and a special guest -- when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Well, for the past 26 hours, Americans have been taking in a rare occurrence in this nation, a police officer convicted of murder on the job.

How rare? From 2005 to about 2015, a period including thousands of police killings, believe your eyes as you look at the screen. The number of police officers convicted of murder for shooting a person over all of those years altogether was zero. I can report for you that, from 2016 on, there were about one or two such convictions a year for police shooting deaths.

And now, this year, we have the first such murder conviction of 2021, which is correctly seen as a rare development, big front-page news, a possible turning point.

Why was this case different than so many that came before it? Well, there are several reasons, including the damning video evidence. But, right now, we turn to one important factor in our special report right now, how police testimony helped lead to Chauvin`s conviction.

Prosecutors called eight witnesses from the Minneapolis Police Department and Chauvin`s own boss for mounting, factual, documented, incriminating testimony against fellow former Officer Chauvin, with police experts flatly stating the force he used was excessive and Chauvin should have ended that neck restraint long before killing George Floyd.


SGT. DAVID PLEOGER, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS POLITICS OFFICER: When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR: And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and the longer resistant?

PLEOGER: Correct.


MELBER: The jury also heard from the longest-serving member of the Minneapolis Police Department.


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 the neck for that amount of -- that amount of time, it`s just uncalled for.

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


MELBER: That was legally pivotal, because any juror may wonder, what supports a reasonable doubt? What is the reasonable doubt for second- guessing whether an officer use too much force in an unfolding incident or emergency?

In this trial, the answer came from multiple officers saying under oath, this was not a close call, the force was totally unnecessary.

And the answer also came from perhaps the most important witness, the police chief, who fired Chauvin and the other three officers within a day of the killing and deemed it a murder last year?


MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, POLICE CHIEF: Once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly, when, Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force, that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.


MELBER: This is really important.

Prosecutors invoked that view in their closing arguments. That`s the last thing the jury hears, of course, before going to deliberate, and here finding Chauvin a murderer.

They gave, basically, jurors who might be sympathetic to police a very critical legal and ethical framework for this. And I want to walk you through it tonight.

These prosecutors had a blueprint. They presented the jury with a way to really think about this, that Chauvin was a criminal hiding out in uniform, that his senseless, avoidable murder of George Floyd is the very opposite of what policing should be, and urging the jurors to view their potential action, what they were going to go deliberate on, convicting him as a murderer, that doing that itself would be pro-police.


SCHLEICHER: The chief of police of the Minneapolis Police Department, he took the stand and he testified, and he told you what that badge that he wears over his heart means. It`s a public service.

This is not an anti-police prosecution. It`s a pro-police prosecution. The defendant abandoned his values, abandoned the training, and killed a man.


MELBER: Get off that one.

Now, the jury`s answer on this was for no reason at all. They convicted Chauvin as a murderer. The police testimony built on what reformers see as one positive sign from before this trial even began.

Fourteen officers publicly condemned Chauvin`s action back in June. And that may seem like a low bar. Police should be against murder on tape, whether it`s done by civilians or police, just like doctors should be against malpractice in surgery that hurts a patient, even if done by a fellow doctor.

But, in the United States, many police departments have these strict codes and cultures of silence and protection for other officers, even those accused of extreme misconduct or violence. It`s often called the blue wall of silence. It can be a legal barrier for prosecutors.

It`s also very hypocritical, considering that police routinely demand and pressure other people to talk and testify to court against the suspects they catch.

Now, I mentioned tonight several factors led to this conviction. But we have seen damning video footage before, like an officer caught on tape shooting an unarmed man in the back while he fled, Walter Scott gunned down by then Officer Michael Slager, caught in the shooting on tape there, and caught trying to frame that crime scene. That was also on video. Do you remember that one?

Now, there was police testimony in that case too. Four officers talked, but all on former Officer Slager`s behalf, testifying for his defense to murder. And the jury could not agree on the charges, leading to a mistrial.

Now, police officers also made a show of public support in the trial of another Minnesota officer, Jeronimo Yanez, who won a unanimous jury verdict, acquitted of murder charges for killing Philando Castile.

Another Minnesota officer indicted in 2019 for killing Justine Damond benefited from this so-called blue wall. A reported 20 different police officers refused to talk to investigators at all to provide facts, cooperation, evidence. So that case had a much higher hurdle, although that was actually one of those rare convictions I mentioned.

Now, take it all together tonight. I`m talking to you about this tonight, at this juncture, because it`s so important. What does it all mean? Is this blue wall eroding? I can`t report the answer on that for you tonight. I can`t.

And the reason is simple. We don`t know. We don`t know if one extremely gruesome case is an outlier or a sign of a new pattern on the way. And if police do start cooperating with these investigations, does that mean we have some big win for justice or civil rights or black people in America?

Let me level with you tonight. No, because that`s the bare minimum of what police are supposed to do, what they`re paid to do, what they swear an oath to do.

Let me level with you on this as well tonight. It says a lot about how routine state violence and systemic racism is in America that all this happens out in the open, in open court, on TV, and that, in 2021, we are counting up these rare, isolated cases that almost never happen, where law enforcement cooperates with law enforcement to enforce the law in a murder case.

So, I want to urge everyone, if you are within the sound of my voice, we have to keep our minds on the facts. We need facts right now. And the fact is, it is a national scar and outrage and embarrassment that it takes this much to reach a factual outcome based on the evidence in cases that involve the state taking of black lives, the killing of black lives, the state showing in gory detail why so often, to the state, black lives don`t matter.

Now, in past years, this Black Lives Matter movement was often described as somehow a very liberal or militant or radical movement. Well, that`s misleading, and it`s also a tell if you hear people talk about it that way.

Let`s deal in facts. There`s nothing radical about being against murder. Now, the movement is, of course, about more than one thing, but it focuses on and has continually catalyzed around something fundamental.

And if you listen to its members in this movement and its leaders, you will hear it. It`s not complicated. They`re demanding the state stop murdering black people. Let me repeat. They demand the state stop murdering black people and other innocent people.

And that means the arm of the state, the police, need to stop doing it. And when it does happen, if it does happen, that means other police need to do the bare minimum of their jobs, enforce the law, and cooperate with the law, and be against murder.

I`m putting it bluntly because it needs to be clear, especially at a moment and time like this.

So, what we have here, this time, in this single case, is that more police than usual in America did do that, which is, of course, all they`re supposed to do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant violated our policy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would this be authorized?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say no.

PLEOGER: They could ended the restraint.

FRANK: What is your view of that use of force during that time period?

ZIMMERMAN: Totally unnecessary.


MELBER: We`re joined by retired NYPD Detective Marq Claxton, who`s director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance and has worked tirelessly on so many of these issues.

Thanks for being here for this discussion tonight.


MELBER: Your thoughts about these points?

CLAXTON: Significant points. Your monologue was very moving, to be honest with you.

Just to answer some questions that you posed during the course of it, in regard specifically to the blue wall of silence, I don`t believe that what occurred during the course of the Chauvin trial will have significant impact on what is called the blue wall of silence, and mainly because it is part -- it is just a component of a larger toxic police culture that is stubborn and resilient and really entrenched, and that supports the us- against-them mentality that police officers too often have, which gives police officers or allows police officers to believe that they`re in a constant state of war against those outside of their police agencies.

So, that blue wall of silence, though it was significantly damaged, largely because of the leadership of Chief Arradondo -- and I don`t think that can be overstated.

Had Chief Arradondo, the head of the department, not assumed this stance from the very beginning, had he been not -- had he not been as open and honest and forthright, if he hadn`t taken the steps to terminate the officers involved, had he not rejected the labor union, the police union there in Minneapolis, his underlings would have been less likely to have been as cooperative as they were. He set the tone.

And, hopefully, that would resonate throughout the nation. But it`s unlikely, because we`re dealing with a multiheaded beast called toxic police culture.

MELBER: I appreciate your candor on that. And you speak from experience.

What happens inside these departments when even in what would be called a very extreme and damning case, for example, one where there is video evidence, where there`s not just a -- quote, unquote -- "contested or debated" incident, what would be the retaliation or the things that officers fear by speaking out?

CLAXTON: Well, a good example, and something that was just recently rectified was the situation of Cariol Horne, a police officer from Upstate New York who took the responsible action in course, in progress, defending an individual who was being assaulted by her colleagues.

She was a police officer. She ended up getting terminated, et cetera. She finally just recently got her pension, her benefits back from the time that she`s been out.

But the reality of it is, when you operate in a toxic culture, and there is criminality as part of this culture, and you are in close proximity to it, you are then exposed to it, and you`re exposed to the danger that comes along with it.

So police officers realize what the fare is, that if they take the principled position on issues involving criminality or excessive brutality or police violence, they will be at the very least ostracized and not supported. And, at the worst-case scenario, it could be much more dangerous for them personally and physically.

So that`s the reality they`re facing. But let`s be clear about something. I have always said this police work is -- you`re not a victim, you`re a volunteer. You get paid to do a particular job. And you come in with certain standards that you should have, a certain level of integrity and honesty, a certain diligence and a certain desire to help people.

And you should maintain those standards even in the face of the most dangerous or potentially dangerous circumstances. You can`t let the job and the toxicity of it determine or lessen your moral standing. You just can`t let that happen.

MELBER: Understood.

I hope people are hearing your words tonight. Marq Claxton, thank you, sir.

CLAXTON: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Yes, sir.

We have a lot more in the program, including the teenager who changed everything by bravely taking that video of the Floyd killing. Many say she changed everything with her work and her testimony.

We have more on that later in the program.

But coming up: New documents show that Trump ally Congressman Gaetz is in crisis mode and linking up with a former convicted Trump aide.

That`s next.


MELBER: Republican Matt Gaetz scrambling them out about new revelations on the toll of this DOJ sex crimes probe, and now Roger Stone involved, Gaetz paying $5,000 to Stone`s firm, which is called Drake Ventures, for strategic consulting.

The payment came just one week before "The New York Times" broke news of the probe. This is the same Drake Ventures that feds allege Stone is using to hide income.

Now, Roger Stone was already convicted in the federal Mueller probe. He even had his home raided, infamously. That led to his former client Donald Trump pardoning him. And accepting that pardon is legally an admission of guilt.

Now, Gaetz, caught up in this new DOJ probe, is turning for what he calls this counselor advice to, all of people. Roger Stone, who was busted in a DOJ probe. You really can`t make this stuff up.

Gaetz and Stone are both known as colorful Florida characters. They often put it that way themselves. And they certainly swam together in the Trump years.


ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Joining me now is one of the most impressive young hard-charging conservatives in the U.S. Congress, Matt Gaetz.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It`s good to be on with you, Roger.

SUNNY HOSTIN, "THE VIEW": Do you think Trump should pardon Roger Stone?

GAETZ: I do. And I think that it requires a review of the pardon power pardon.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, "THE VIEW": Oh, come on, Congressman. Come on.

STONE: Matt Gaetz shows enormous promise.


MELBER: Gaetz under investigation in this DOJ sex crimes probe. He denies all wrongdoing, and he has not been charged.

I`m joined now by Michelle Goldberg from "The New York Times."

Michelle, look, a lot of important things going on. This is a probe that involves serious issues, obviously, because the DOJ has already indicted someone on very serious charges. But the copy writes itself. I mean, why do you turn to Roger Stone, of all people?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, these are two very similar characters.

What I am most curious to know -- and The Daily Beast article, I think, hints at this or at least notes the congruence and the timing -- is what, if anything, Roger Stone had to do with Gaetz`s sort of cockamamie defense that this is all part of an extortion plot, and that he -- there was this whole for a while sort of subplot about these fraudsters that were trying to get him to give them $25 million to free an Iranian hostage.

A lot of people wondered why Gaetz was going on TV to talk about this to say that these people say that they have compromising photos of Gaetz. Why would you go on television and say that someone is trying to blackmail you with compromising photos, trying to extort you with compromising photos?

I mean, all of this seems pretty in line with Stone`s M.O., which is to attack, distract, kind of evermore lurid -- ever more lurid explanations. Roger Stone has been out there directing people to buy "Matt Gaetz Did Nothing Wrong" T-shirts. You will remember that people at one point were wearing "Roger Stone Did Nothing Wrong" T-shirts.

So, Matt Gaetz is, has always been a sort of low-rent Donald Trump imitator. It`s not surprising that he would turn to Donald Trump`s one-time adviser.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, we`re getting into Russian nesting dolls level. If there`s Trump, and Stone is Trump`s Mini-Me, and now you`re positing that Gaetz is sort of Stone`s Mini-Me. And we`re getting further and further down.

I guess the strategic question is, look, you can say that Roger Stone ultimately did evade prison and accountability there, because his ace in the hole was that his former client did pardon him.

But is any of that replicable for Matt Gaetz with Trump out of office? GOLDBERG: Of course not.

I mean, it`s not replicable, because, as much as Roger Stone has been going around saying this -- and we now know he`s been saying this after being paid by Matt Gaetz -- that Matt Gaetz is essentially heir to Donald Trump, that he`s the most likely -- he`s a likely presidential prospect if Donald Trump doesn`t run in 2024.

Matt Gaetz doesn`t have Donald Trump`s very corrupt, but very specific political skills and base. But he also just doesn`t have power. He doesn`t have the kind of power, right? And so I think that a lot of what Matt Gaetz did, when you look back on it, you see how sloppy it is. You see the sort of Venmo -- the open Venmo transactions that he was paying his friend Greenberg that`s now come under scrutiny as part of the sex trafficking probe.

You have to think that he thought that he was playing by a set of rules that Republicans learned when Trump was in office, and they enjoyed this level of impunity. And now, suddenly, Trump is no longer in office and those rules no longer apply.

MELBER: Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head there. And that`s why it almost feels like a pattern or habit. Oh, go to the Trump guy and pay him and go on "offense" -- quote, unquote.

But going on offense on a witch-hunt, when you have Attorney General Barr kneecapping investigations, is very different than when you`re just out -- out in the cold.

Michelle Goldberg, thanks, as always, for being here.

GOLDBERG: Well, in this particular case, even Barr -- in this particular case, even Barr was behind the investigation, right? That`s how bad this set of facts is for Matt Gaetz.

MELBER: Yes. Yes, that`s a great point. It was even worse, you could say.

Always good to have you, Michelle.

When we come back, we have a special guest on a new front in the battle against Mitch McConnell in the Senate and why he`s teaming up with AOC on a big new idea -- when we come back.



SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D-MA): Inequality, housing education, jobs and climate change, it is all intertwined.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It is going to be an all-hands-on- deck approach. And we refuse to leave any community behind.

MARKEY: We have the moral obligation to do it. And we will do it this year.



MELBER: You hear it there, Senator Ed Markey and AOC pushing the Green New Deal resolution ahead of President Biden`s Earth Day climate summit.

Senator Markey, lord knows there is a lot going on. But if you`re a leader or a policy-maker, got to do more than one thing. This is a big issue.

Thanks for joining me.

MARKEY: No, great to be with you, Ari. Thank you.

MELBER: And I see you have the Earth behind you. I mean, we`re on the Earth, but I also see it behind you, so very on point.

Walk us through what this does in plain English and why you think you have a shot, any kind of shot of moving it now?

MARKEY: Well, we have the world coming together this week. And President Biden is going to make a very ambitious promise to the rest of the world that we will reduce our greenhouse gases by 50 percent by the year 2030.

But then we need action in Congress. We need -- we need there to be legislation that is put on Joe Biden`s desk that is concrete in its goals and in its ambition.

So, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and I introduced the Green New Deal just two years ago, it was about climate change, but it was also about jobs, millions of them, union jobs, and justice, environmental justice for all those communities, which have been adversely affected.

And our goal, ultimately, is to have 50 percent of (AUDIO GAP) go to those communities that have been harmed most severely over the years, and have 50 percent of the jobs going to those communities as well.

So, that was what we did in introducing the Green New Deal. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and I reintroduced it again yesterday, in order to, again, continue to lift the gaze of our country to the constellation of possibilities of wind and solar, and all-electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrids, and battery technologies, and all of these incredible technologies that have been blocked by politics, and to do it with justice.

So that`s the moment in time. And Congress must respond, so that we pass big, bold legislation.

MELBER: Republicans are really against this.

Take a look.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The DNA of the Green New Deal is all over President Biden`s legislative proposals.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): The continued power of the far left, the stranglehold, they have over Capitol Hill.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is not about a Green New Deal. This is about controlling our lives.

MCCONNELL: Their socialist Green New Deal.

MCCARTHY: We should all be scared.


MELBER: They seem to think that talking it up on FOX and elsewhere is good for them. They think this is not popular yet.

Your response?

MARKEY: Well, if you want to talk about socialism, then let`s talk about tax breaks for the oil, gas and coal industry for 100 years, while starting the technological competition, which is wind and solar, all-electric vehicles.

We`re going to level this playing field. And when we do, we`re going to be looking at the fossil fuel industry in a rearview mirror historically, and people will have a cleaner environment, they will have millions of new union jobs that are created in order to revolutionize this energy infrastructure that we have in our country, and that we will rectify the environmental injustice that we have done over the years to those most vulnerable communities.

So, they`re still working off of the FOX News, fossil fuel industry talking points. The Koch brothers, they feel they own and operate the Republican Party. Donald Trump was their wholly owned subsidiary. But climate action and clean energy is ultimately bipartisan.

And we have a chance to work together, ultimately, with Republicans to find a way in which we can move forward, because, in state after state, we have seen a clean energy revolution taking place that have created hundreds of thousands of jobs. And clean energy is very popular amongst Republican voters in this country.

And when we finish making this case...


MARKEY: ... I think we have a chance to really pass a piece of legislation that matches the magnitude of the threat that our planet and our country is facing.

MELBER: Well, you said that part, I mean, that the threat is real. And that`s the fact.

How you deal with it, debate over policy, but people have to understand what we`re dealing with long term on that threat, which is why we wanted to fit this in, even on a really busy news night.

I appreciate you taking time in your schedule. Senator Markey, thank you, sir.

MARKEY: No, thank you for having me on.

MELBER: We have talked in this program about cowardice about big problems.

We`re going to talk a little bit about courage, the importance of the person who made the video of George Floyd`s killing, the teenager who led so many of us -- when we return.


MELBER: How did we get here?

If it weren`t for the citizen-made video, the truth about the murder of George Floyd might have never come out. Remember, as we reported, the initial police report claimed, falsely, this was all a medical incident.

But there was video taken by then 17-year-old Darnella Frazier showing then Officer Chauvin with his knee infamously on Floyd. She posted the video on the Internet that same day, and it took off.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The incident was caught on camera.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: A bystander captured yesterday`s incident on a cell phone camera.

WALLACE: The reason we all know about it is because it was so important that bystanders took that video and posted it on social media.


MELBER: We wanted to show you there how that first played out.

And Frazier would say it was her instinct to start recording. She has seen an outpouring of response and tribute from people like Meryl Streep and Oprah to the president himself. And Spike Lee already presented her with a PEN America award for courage.


DARNELLA FRAZIER, FILMED GEORGE FLOYD: I never would imagine out of my whole 17 years of living that this will be me.

It was just a lot to take in.


MELBER: She created the key evidence. She would also testify in the trial.

And let`s remember and listen to what she said. She said she wished she could have done more.


FRAZIER: It`s the nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life.


MELBER: With honesty and emotion, Frazier recounted what she saw.


FRAZIER: He cried for his mom. He was in pain. It seemed like he knew. He seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified. He was suffering. This was a cry for help.


MELBER: She also shared how this has affected her, saying that having to watch Floyd be killed like that left her traumatized.

Since this verdict came out yesterday, Frazier has also said: "I just cried so hard. Thank you, God. Justice has been served."


MELBER: Thanks for spending time with us here on THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER during these momentous times.

I will see you at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.