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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 4/26/21

Guests: Paul Butler, Christina Greer, Joe Neguse, Eugene Daniels


Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a civil rights investigation into the Louisville Police Department. Concern grows over a police shooting in North Carolina. Congressman Joe Neguse urges President Biden to embrace his inner Bernie on Medicare. FOX News is forced to correct a false report on Biden, burgers and beer. Arizona Republicans conduct a purported election audit.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT," with Alicia Menendez in for Ari Melber, starts right now.

Hi, Alicia.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Alicia Menendez, in for Ari Melber, with developing news out of the Biden DOJ.

Also ahead tonight: Arizona Republicans actively pushing the big lie with a bizarre election faux audit.

Plus: emotions running high in North Carolina after the police shooting of Andrew Brown.

But we begin with a landmark probe from the Biden DOJ and the broader shift in governance in Biden`s first 100 days on everything from spending and COVID to policing.

Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing a civil rights investigation into the Louisville Police Department 13 months after the police killing of Breonna Taylor. It`s the second civil rights probe the DOJ has launched in five days, also now looking into the Minneapolis Police Department.

This is a reversal from the Trump DOJ, which all but suspended federal oversight of troubled police agencies.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The investigation will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force. It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.


MENENDEZ: The new probe launching as Biden approaches 100 days in office, with real momentum for his broader agenda. brand-new NBC polling showing him at 53 percent approval, CBS News putting him at 58 percent.

Indeed, as of tonight, Biden has spent every day since taking office above 50 percent approval. His predecessor did not crack 50 percent once.

The majority is with Biden. It is not a clean partisan divide, which may surprise those who depict the country as hopelessly gridlocked. Here`s the reaction over on FOX.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ultimately, right now, Joe Biden has got pretty doggone high approval ratings. His economy is working. If it`s 80 percent says we are a divided nation, and you have got anything in a majority, that -- given the climate, that`s pretty good.


MENENDEZ: Pretty good, indeed.

Biden now say he`s trying to capitalize on his momentum, his first speech to the joint session of Congress on Wednesday, where he is expected to go big on the progressive agenda.

Joining me now, Jason Johnson, professor with Morgan State University and MSNBC contributor, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, assistant dean for civic engagement at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and an MSNBC contributor, and Eugene Daniels, author of Politico`s Playbook and White House correspondent.

It is good to see you all.

Jason, I want to start with you.

What do these moves from Garland tell you about the urgency that DOJ is feeling? And where do you see it fitting into this bigger progressive agenda?

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It means Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke are going to be sinking their teeth into a prominent area that has had consistent problems with criminal justice.

But what it also says is that -- excuse me -- is that Joe Biden is not going to just give lip service to these kinds of issues. It would have been very easy to sort of leave what happened in Louisville alone, but he has actually heard the concerns and the protests and the anger and the frustration of Americans of all colors, but especially African-Americans, who he owes his job to, that these kinds of issues have to be addressed.

So Merrick Garland coming out there and saying, we`re going to Louisville, that puts the word out that every other police district across America may be in the crosshairs if they show a consistent pattern of abusing people.

And I suspect that President Joe Biden is going to talk about that more in his speech to Congress, not just the George Floyd Policing Act, but other important issues that are necessary to advance civil rights in this country.

MENENDEZ: And I suspect you are right, Jason.

I mean, Eugene, coming in, the Biden administration, they knew what they had to do. They had to get the pandemic under control from a public health perspective. Then they needed to deliver financial relief. You see, in these numbers, Americans are rewarding the administration for those actions.

But when you have poll numbers, Eugene, that are this strong, one of two things tends to happen, right? Your team either begins to become obsessed with not doing anything to jeopardize those numbers, or they use those numbers as an argument for doing even more.

Where`s the White House right now?


This is not a White House, this is not a president who seems like they are ready to at any point take their foot off the pedal, as it`s been put to me many, many times. They came in, and they had -- any president that had the hand that Joe Biden was dealt would be scared and be worried.

And it`s -- it was all -- give one person a pandemic, and that`s a heavy lift by itself, when you add in all the other things that they had, the recession, the racial strife, climate change, another big issue for them. They would be worried.

But this White House has continuously, one, focused on the things they know that are popular with the American people. That is COVID relief, getting money in people`s pockets, getting shots in arms. They`re getting high marks on that, and also now moving into infrastructure, moving into -- we`re supposed to hear from him on paid family and medical leave, probably more information about how they`re looking at health care in this week from him.

And so all of those things are really popular with the American people. Those numbers they`re seeing are pushing them to keep doing that. And this was the guy who was supposed to be the big moderate, right? We kept hearing that this was the president who, out of the everyone that was running, he was going -- he was never going to do anything unless Republicans were on board.

We have seen that not to be the case. And they spent a lot of time making sure that left part of their flank is shored up, and I think they are going to continue to do that.

MENENDEZ: You know, Vicky, the numbers that stand out in the opposite direction are the president`s approval ratings on guns and immigration, only 34 percent approval on his handling of guns, 33 percent approval of his handling on immigration, according to NBC News polling.

So let`s talk about immigration specifically. Those numbers to me say both that Republicans have succeeded in turning a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border into an opportunity to score political points. I don`t know if you saw this, but Jake Sherman tweeted out earlier that the Wi-Fi password at the House GOP retreat was Biden Border Crisis.

Those numbers also say, though, to me that people who understand the value of immigration in this country, they want to see Biden repeal Title 42. They want to see him push a pathway to citizenship through Congress. So I think you can look at those numbers and say, no one`s happy with the status quo.

Republicans are going to weaponize this issue regardless of what he chooses to do. Go big. What do they say to you, as someone who is actually familiar with polling?

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, when I first saw these numbers, Alicia, first all, it`s the 53 percent, really strong, really steady for Biden`s first 100 days.

But once you start piecing things, you start to see some issues. And like you said, guns is at 34, immigration is at 33. China`s also with 33. So I`m looking at the bottom three issues that are the most problematic for the Biden administration.

And which is the most difficult of the three? It`s immigration, because immigration, as you just pointed, Alicia, is the one issue where Republicans are coming full force on the offense.

They have been getting on Biden since day one about being soft on immigration, and at the same time Biden on the left flank is being pressured to do more on the humanitarian cause.

This is a huge issue, because the Republicans are not letting up on that. The second main issue with this is the fact of the image. And a picture is worth 1,000 words. And every day, I see images at the border that just crush me. They crush me and some others who feel the same way I do about immigration.

But on the other side of the aisle, you see folks who are immigration restrictionists that are getting increasingly frustrated at so many people coming over, and that`s fueling them. So this is really the biggest issue that the Biden administration is facing.

And it doesn`t change overnight. There`s a little bit of time, and we have Kamala Harris working on trying to figure something out with the Central American countries, but something is going to have to happen. There`s going to have to be a dent. If we are going into 2024 and we`re still in the same situation, President Biden is in a lot of trouble.

So he has a little bit of time. But immigration is one of the thorniest issues. And he really needs to dig deep on this.

MENENDEZ: Well, and, Jason, beyond that, Republicans are really struggling to come up with a line of attack that sticks.

I mean, it seems like the best they have come up with to describe President Biden is boring, as though they have forgotten that this is a presidency and not a reality show.

So, Jason, where do these approval numbers leave them?

JOHNSON: Well, they don`t help.

But you got to remember that the Republican Party`s leadership right now are people who were in favor of the insurrection, a guy named Ted Cruz, who nobody likes, a guy named Matt Gaetz, who`s in trouble for possibly having inappropriate relationships with teens, a guy named Lindsey Graham, who nobody believes because his opinion changes with a weather vane, and a hidden president who`s hiding out in Mar-a-Lago right now waiting for people to kiss the ring.

They have no leader and they have no messaging. So -- and Mitch McConnell has pretty much been outmaneuvered. And this is a sentence I never thought I`d use a year ago, but Mitch McConnell has been outmaneuvered by Joe Biden.

So the Republicans can`t come up with a coherent message. So they definitely can`t come up with anything to attack Joe Biden with. This is why Donald Trump was afraid to run against him. This is why the party has difficulty now.

Their only hope is an unforced error on the part of the Democratic Party. And so far, that doesn`t seem to have happened. The biggest stumbling block is something that Joe Manchin might do. And, again, I have thought all along that Joe Manchin is eventually going to go along with eliminating the filibuster, which will just make Joe Biden even more powerful and successful with policy.

MENENDEZ: I mean, Eugene, this White House is acutely aware that they have to keep selling their accomplishments, to the degree that I can almost hear Alec Baldwin in my head yelling, always be closing, because of the amount we talk about how they have to keep selling their agenda.

What does that sell, what is it going to look like on Wednesday night?

DANIELS: Yes, I think that the thing -- we kept wondering why it was taking so long for them to set up this joint session of Congress.

And it seems like something that was written for a political TV show, right? You had it right at the 100 days. You can talk about all the great things that you have done. And so we`re -- what we`re going to see, like with -- usually with these things, is, he`s going to talk about COVID.

He`s going to talk about how he has gotten the pandemic under control, that they have hit and doubled -- ended up doubling the vaccine goals that they had. But there`s also there`s some vaccine hesitancy out there. So he`s going to talk about that as well, the things that they`re doing to counteract that.

And then he`s going to talk about how he`s doubling down on this idea of him not being as moderate as people thought when it comes to policy, right? And so, if you like me spending a lot of money for COVID, I got another couple trillion dollars for you. If you would like to $2 trillion on infrastructure, we got some more for you.

So I think that aspect is really fascinating. And I think that is something we should keep talking about, because that is not the amount of money that we`re used to moderate Democrats talking about. There used to be a time where Republicans and Democrats talked about the deficit as if it was this holy thing.

And that is no longer what the American people, after a year in this pandemic, care about. They don`t seem to care that much about the deficit. What they`re focused on is, what can you do to help us? And I think that is what this White House has watched. They have seen that the involvement of the federal government, even for Republicans, even for Republican voters, is something that people are a lot more interested in than they were a few years ago.

MENENDEZ: Yes, when you`re desperate for relief, you have a lot less appetite to talk about the deficit.

Vicky, as part of that bigger sell, Adrian Carrasquillo over at "Newsweek" reporting today, as part of the Build Back Together 501(c)(4), a big emphasis on Latino voters. And they are bringing in heavy hitters, names our audience will be familiar with, Chuck Rocha, largely credited with Bernie Sanders` success with Latino voters, Mayra Macias from Latino Victory, Xochitl Hinojosa, who was last at the DNC.

I mean, that tells me that they`re serious about this, and that they know they have work to do.

DEFRANCESCO SOTO: Yes, they`re learning from their mistakes of this past election. Yes, they did win the Latino vote, but not in the margin that the Democrats were expecting.

And what came through in this past election was a recognition that, oh, wait, Latinos are swing voters, because, if we go back to a decade or two, Latinos were voting for Republicans of upwards of 40 percent. Here in Texas, Republicans have always done very well with Latinos.

So, I think it was a wakeup call. And it`s a very smart investment in going after the Latino vote, in doing that political marketing of, what has Joe Biden, what have the Democrats done for you? Because, quite honestly, a lot of Latinos didn`t know how to answer that question and didn`t come out and vote.

And what is so important here is that we`re seeing the microtargeting in the swing states, right, of Pennsylvania, of Florida, of Arizona. Texas is supposed to be in the second rollout. So I think this is really important, because Latino voters aren`t just an afterthought, that you should go after them in the last couple of weeks or the last couple of months of an election.

They need to be constantly courted, just like every other electorate. So I think this is going to pay off handsomely.

MENENDEZ: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Eugene Daniels, thank you both.

Jason Johnson, we`re going to see you back a little bit later in the show.

Coming up in just 30 seconds: why Republicans just can`t let go of the big election lie.

Also, growing concern about yet another police shooting and the delayed release of the bodycam video.

Plus, we will talk live to the lawmaker urging Biden to embrace his inner Bernie on Medicare.

And FOX News forced to correct a false report on Biden, burgers and beer -- when we`re back in just 30 seconds.


MENENDEZ: What in the world is happening in Arizona`s Maricopa County?

Right now, there is a hand recount. Of 2.1 million ballots for the presidential election, yes, as in the 2020 election six months ago, after three other reviews found no fraud.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: The FOX News decision desk is calling Arizona for Joe Biden. That is a big get.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Joe Biden your projected winner in the state of Arizona.

DON LEMON, CNN: Joe Biden wins the state of Arizona.


MENENDEZ: This circus is a direct result of Trump`s big lie, claiming widespread election fraud. There was, of course, none.

But the Republican-led state Senate tapped an audit company run by an election conspiracy theorist. And a pro-Trump cable channel is overseeing it.

Arizona`s secretary of state saying this on MSNBC today:


KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: They`re making this up as they go along and not following any type of written procedures, and not -- they`re trying to close everything off from the public and not let people see the process as it takes place.

And so there really is nothing out of this -- that comes out of this that we can really see as valid.


MENENDEZ: Joining me now from outside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, NBC national political reporter Vaughn Hillyard.

Vaughn, what is going on there?

VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Alicia, it`s a good question, because I can tell you that I have no idea.


HILLYARD: That is the Coliseum.

And 2.1 million ballots are inside. To give you an idea, Maricopa County makes up about 60 percent of the Arizona electorate. And there`s not a single journalist that we`re aware of inside right now. OAN, the right-wing conspiracy theorist outlet, is the one that has the exclusive rights, per the Arizona State Senate and the Republican Party, to cover this event.

And they`re already out with headlines here just this afternoon suggesting that officials have found -- quote -- "systemic fraud."

Well, we have no idea what that would suggest. And, as you said, there`s already been reviews, even at the county level, in Maricopa County, where a Republican-led board of supervisors, they said that it was 100 percent accurate, the election results in November.

But we -- I want to let you take a look, because we tried to make our way in for this audit, as they`re calling it, six months after the November election. Take a look.


HILLYARD: Hi, sir. How are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not authorized to speak to the press.

HILLYARD: We`re with NBC. We`re hoping to cover, as journalists, what`s happening here inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not authorized to speak the press or...

HILLYARD: Are you with the audit, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not authorized to speak to the press.


HILLYARD: These guys said that we would be able to talk to you about getting in as journalists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a media for media. Allowed to be in that area, in that area alone, not the building.

HILLYARD: So we`re not allowed to go inside and actually watch the audit go on?

But being outside is not...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the media area.

HILLYARD: With all due respect, being outside in the parking lot is not being able to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... conducting an interview.


HILLYARD: Alicia, this is not some fringe event happening.

This is mainstream Republicanism now in Arizona, a legal subpoena by the state Senate of Maricopa County`s ballots. They`re in there, 2.1 million. And I got a note.

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who is a big supporter of this president, she drove by just a few minutes ago. And when I gave her a shout-out, hoping to have a conversation about what`s happening inside, her husband, driving the car, pushed the gas and made it -- made their way right on through the Coliseum.

So those conversations and those questions remain here as this -- quote -- "audit" continues.

MENENDEZ: Well, Vaughn Hillyard, I am glad you are there. Thank you for your diligence and for your reporting.

This big lie continues because GOP leadership refuses to denounce Trump. This is still the party of Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy making that crystal clear, dodging and twisting on questions about his phone call with Trump during the riot.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I was the first person to contact him when the riots was going on. He didn`t see it.

What he ended the call was saying, telling me he will put something out to make sure to stop this. And that`s what he did. He put a video out later.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Quite a lot lighter. And it was a pretty weak video.

But I`m asking you specifically, did he say to you, "I guess some people are more concerned about the election than you are"?

MCCARTHY: No, listen, my conversations with the president are my conversations with the president.

I engaged in the idea of making sure we could stop what was going on inside the Capitol at that moment in time. The president said he would help.


MENENDEZ: That is an altogether different tune from Leader McCarthy, like not even a track on the same album.

Here`s what he said in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riots.


BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS: Would you personally reach out to the president for more support?

MCCARTHY: I have already talked to the president. I called him. I think we need to make a statement, make sure that we can calm individuals down.

The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.

QUESTION: But did you or did you not support Donald Trump`s effort to overturn the election in Congress?

MCCARTHY: No. Didn`t we just answer this the first time you asked it?


MENENDEZ: Joining me now, writer and editor for MSNBC Daily Hayes Brown, and Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University.

Hayes, McCarthy`s comments part of a broader effort by Republicans to rewrite what happened on January 6, the role the former president played, the responsibility he should bear.

What, though, does McCarthy gain from carrying Trump`s water? I mean, is this anything more than a survival tactic?


He gets to keep the speakership -- I mean, or, eventually, he hopes to become speaker of the House someday, if Republicans take back the House of Representatives. That`s what he`s hoping for. He hopes to not lose his job as minority leader by essentially following.

He is following the trend. At no point has he really led the Republicans. He has always been about being the person that they can push around the most and get the least pushback from.

And so, in not getting rid of from, him and other Republicans, especially in the House, especially the ones who don`t really seem to buy into Trump`s lies, the ones who are just kind of going along to get along, they are basically -- they know they have been caught in this big lie.

They just know how to extricate themselves from it without saying, by the way, we lied. There`s no way out of it that does not involve some kind of mea culpa, some kind of admission that, yes, we knew this was a lie.

And until they figure out how to do that, or to take the plunge and face the voters and say, yes, this was not true, you should still reelect us because we believe in what you believe in, until that happens, they are going to keep pushing this lie, until they find a way out of this.

MENENDEZ: Dr. Greer, I spoke with Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego about what is happening in his state. Take a listen.


REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): This is a way for the Republicans to stage an issue so that they could pass more voter suppression laws. This audit is a sham. Why would you hire anyone named Cyber Ninjas?

And, two, we actually aren`t even clear who`s totally paying for this.


MENENDEZ: Dr. Greer, connect the dots for us between what we`re seeing in Arizona, the perpetuation of the big lie, the voter suppression bills we have seen across the country, including in Arizona, the anti-protest bills, and then what we are hearing from McCarthy and from others.


So many Republicans are still running scared, because they don`t know what Donald Trump plans to do in 2024. And they also know that he still has quite a powerful bully pulpit with primary voters within the party. And so there are a few things happening.

One, as Hayes said, they`re just going to perpetuate a lie. But so many of their supporters actually don`t care that they`re perpetuating a lie. And they don`t mind that they say one thing in the morning, another thing in the afternoon, and something totally different in the evening.

The issue is this, Republicans need/want to regain control of the House and/or the Senate in 2022, but definitely 2024. But the electoral math for the presidency for them, if we still have the Electoral College moving forward, just doesn`t look good for Republicans.

So they know that the only way they can win is to cheat. We know that we had organizations like Fair Fight that were actually legally helping people of all stripes register to vote, and Republicans know that they don`t have a winning strategy. They`re behind on climate change. They`re behind on immigration. They`re behind on education.

They`re behind on any policy issue. They are not with the vast majority of Americans and public opinion. On guns, on schools, you name it, they`re not there.

And so with Donald Trump looming large in the shadows, you have so many elected Republicans who will do anything to try and present to him a on a silver platter something for 2024, because they don`t know what he`s going to do.

And if he turns against them, which we have seen him do to members of his own party, it spells disaster for them. We have never seen someone do this to members of their own party, really eating off of their own young, and also members within.


MENENDEZ: Dr. Greer, though, I want to stick on that point, because, not to get lost in the mix here, you have Liz Cheney describing Biden`s policies as even further left than he campaigned on.

But if you look at our new polling, voters approve of much of what this president is doing. I`m not sure how persuasive that argument is either.

GREER: Well, here`s the interesting thing, though.

We have to always remember that, for a lot of Republicans, they only care about their primary voters, right, because they know that, if they can`t get out of their primary, then it`s done. And it`s a shortsighted strategy, because there`s a Reuters poll that came out today that shows young Republicans across the country and Republican clubs across universities are saying it`s time to move on beyond Trump.

You have to actually build a base and build a foundation within the Republican Party. And if you have got young people who believe in climate change, and they aren`t climate deniers, they believe in the vaccine, and they also want to be strong Republicans, you can`t have even more factions within the Republican Party, because we have seen so many.

It`s just the Trump faction is the loudest and right now the strongest, but, beyond primaries, the Republican Party really needs to figure out what they want to do with this faction, if they want to survive as a party, because you have a lot more independents, moderates and weak-leaning Republicans who are saying, enough is enough. This is just blatant cheating.

Where`s the president -- where`s the former president? He`s not really saying or doing anything. The country actually was really divided under him racially and otherwise. So, why don`t we actually think about what Joe Biden is doing, without this blind loyalty to Donald Trump and his version of the Republican Party?

MENENDEZ: Hayes, the fact that you have McCarthy changing his story about what transpired on January 6, beyond the politics of it, I also think it begs the question about the need for a commission to study what happened on January 6, so that there is a historical and agreed-upon record of what happened.

BROWN: Yes, absolutely.

That`s been something that Speaker Pelosi has been pushing for since January 6, basically.

But what we`re seeing is pushback from Republicans, who know that the findings will probably not be in their benefit. They know that a full cataloguing of the lead-up to and the day of the attack will not make them look good. It will not play well politically. It will not be -- no one wants to be blamed for -- in the 9/11 Commission report, which is basically what we`re trying to recreate here.

We`re trying to have a full set of facts, a full record of what happened on January 6. And I am not surprised that Republicans aren`t for it. But I am disappointed that they aren`t for it. I`m disappointed that they aren`t taking this chance to lay it all on the table and say, OK, here`s what happened. Here`s what we need to do as Republicans moving forward to make sure that we can actually do right by this country and fight for our ideals.

Like, I don`t get why no one in Congress seemingly is for this who is a member of the Republican Party. There are a few people like Liz Cheney and et cetera who really think that this is necessary, but they don`t command the majority of their minority.

And until they do that, until they can actually gather the will to say, no, we need to move on from Trump, we`re not going to see any changes on that front.

MENENDEZ: Hayes, not surprised, but disappointed could be applied to so many different issues and questions.

Hayes Brown, Christina Greer, thank you both so much.

Coming up: Here`s how bad it`s getting, a correction issued attacking Biden on burgers and beers.

Also, how AOC is aligning with President Biden in the first 100 days.

But first: The family of a black man killed by police in North Carolina is alleging a cover-up today.

That story is next.


MENENDEZ: Now the stunning allegations of a cover-up in the police killing of a black man in Elizabeth City, North Carolina five days ago.

The family of Andrew Brown Jr. and their lawyers blasting police officials after only allowing them to view 20 seconds of the bodycam video today.


BAKARI SELLERS, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: One bodycam, 20 seconds, and an execution.

HARRY DANIELS, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: Twenty seconds is not transparency, when you got multiple officers gunning down a man with his hands on the steering wheel and trying to get away.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: We do not feel that we got transparency.

They determined what was pertinent. They wanted to have just two family members see the video with no legal counsel.


MENENDEZ: The police claim Brown was shot outside his home while they were attempting to serve a warrant for felony drug charges.

Here`s one of the family`s attorneys and Brown`s son describing what the video was like.


CHANTEL CHERRY-LASSITER, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He wasn`t touching anything, sat there in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at.

He was trying to evade being shot. So, he backs out, not forward, but backs out, away from the officers, who are still shooting at him. They were still shooting at him after the car had already crashed into a tree.

KHALIL FEREBEE, SON OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life. He was not in no -- the officers was not in no harm of him at all.


MENENDEZ: Brown`s death certificate categorizes his death as a homicide.

Activists and protesters now calling for the full release of the video to the public.


PROTESTER: When I say what do you want, you say video.

What do you want?


PROTESTER: What do you want?


PROTESTER: What do you want?


PROTESTER: What do you want?


PROTESTER: What do you want?



MENENDEZ: Joining me now, former federal prosecutor Paul Butler,

Paul, based on what we know and what the family is saying about the video that they were able to see, what is your sense of what happened?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: We have no idea because there`s no transparency. We have a lot of questions.

Most importantly, why did the police kill Mr. Brown? What was the need for deadly force? Alicia, the police are not allowed to shoot unless someone`s life is in immediate jeopardy. That`s not the case with someone who they`re trying to arrest for a nonviolent drug crime.

Mr. Brown was shot in the back, which raises more doubt about whether he actually posed a threat. The family says Mr. Brown`s hands were on the steering wheel when he was shot. So, it doesn`t sound like the cop story is going to be that Mr. Brown was aiming a weapon at them.

And it`s also very bad policing for officers to shoot at a moving car. Most departments don`t allow that.

MENENDEZ: So, Paul, I want you to take a listen to the sheriff saying that he wants the bodycam footage to be public. Take a listen.


TOMMY WOOTEN, PASQUOTANK COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, SHERIFF: We want the body camera footage made public. Some people have falsely claimed that my office has the power to do so. That is not true. Only a judge can release the video.

Our county will file a motion in court, hopefully Monday, to have the footage released.


MENENDEZ: So, Paul, what`s the disconnect here?

BUTLER: So, it`s North Carolina. The policy there is that video can be disclosed or released. And there are different procedures for each.

So, the sheriff can disclose video on his or her own. That means that they can allow family members to see the video, but the family can`t keep the video. There has to be a court order for the video to be released. And judges have a lot of discretion. They can just release part of it or they can blur out parts.

MENENDEZ: So, Paul, I want you to take a listen to the family`s attorney describing his treatment today.


SELLERS: I have never been talked to like I was talked to in there.

Mr. Cox told me, a grown black man, that he was not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) going to be bullied.

The sheriff wanted to make sure that the family saw the video, but it was the county attorney that gave us this back-and-forth.


MENENDEZ: Paul, what do you make of that?

BUTLER: It`s concerning that the family only saw 20 seconds. The lack of transparency does raise concerns about a cover-up.

Reportedly, there were seven or eight officers on the scene, and they were all wearing bodycams. It`s unusual that releasing a video actually compromises an investigation, although that`s a common excuse that police use when they don`t want the public to see what the cops actually did.

But, Alicia, we have seen more transparency recently from other departments. So, in Columbus, Ohio, bodycam video was released within hours of the shooting of Ma`Khia Bryant. And, in Chicago, the bodycam video was released shortly after the police killed Adam Toledo.

MENENDEZ: All right, Paul Butler, thank you so much for your time.

Joining me now, Jason Johnson, professor at Morgan State University.

Jason, I wanted to talk to you because I want to connect what we saw today to what is happening in the country at large. I mean, this is happening in the context of a national reckoning around police reform.

And what I wonder, watching that press conference today, is that, if there is not enough urgency now to reckon with police reform at the federal level, then when will there ever be?

JOHNSON: Oh, there won`t be.

And I want to give credit to my friend and an excellent lawyer Bakari Sellers, because what he said there, in profane, non-FCC-approved language...


JOHNSON: ... is very telling, OK, because think about this.

If the police are willing to say that to the lawyer representing the family after a man has been shot, how do you think they treat people on a regular basis? How do you think they treat people when there aren`t cameras there? How do you think they treat people who might be less educated, less confident, and much more frustrated?

I`m happy to see that some Democrats, and some Republicans vaguely, are talking about police reform. I have made it clear that I think we need to abolish policing as it currently exists. I don`t think you can reform some of the problems that we have seen.

But if they don`t do something now, if they don`t do something in this moment, we`re not only going to recognize that, really, people don`t care, right? Because, if you`re not willing to do something now, then you don`t really care about police systematically and consistently shooting African- Americans, you`re also saying that you don`t care about black voters.

If you look at these numbers, these shootings of African-Americans, they don`t correlate to crime. They don`t correlate to income. They don`t correlate to resources. They only seem to correlate to race.

The people the police are most likely to cuss at, shoot and kill are actually African-American women of higher income. The second largest group is African-American men who are extremely poor. So, it has nothing to do with resources. It has to do with whether we have a government that cares about this issue and the consistent abuse of black people.

MENENDEZ: So, given that framework, what do you expect to hear from Biden on Wednesday about this issue specifically?

And I also wonder if you think you`re going to hear from Tim Scott in the Republican response.

JOHNSON: So, I think, first, with Joe Biden, Joe Biden is not -- he`s going to say something very clear: We`re not going to defund the police. We`re not going to abolish the police.

He`s going to say those things because I think he needs to say those things politically. Joe Biden and I think all too many Democrats think that this is a issue of throwing more money at the problem.

You cannot simply throw more money at the problem. Currently, the George Floyd Policing Act, which is a great start, it talks about collecting information, it talks about getting rid of qualified immunity. But that wouldn`t have prevented somebody like Derek Chauvin from doing what he did to George Floyd. It wouldn`t have.

We just would have been collecting information after people die. That`s why I have suggested adding things like decertification to the George Floyd Policing Act, which means that, if you`re a police officer with a license, and you`re found to have engaged in some terrible behavior, even if you haven`t been convicted, we can snatch your license away, just like we can do with a bad teacher, a bad nurse, a bad lawyer, or a bad insurance agent.

We need proactive policy from Joe Biden, not talking about ways to collect the abuse that we already know has happened.

MENENDEZ: And how about Tim Scott? What are you going to hear from him?

JOHNSON: I`m sorry?

MENENDEZ: I want to know what you think you think you`re going to hear from Tim Scott on this question.

JOHNSON: Oh, yes.

And Tim Scott -- look, Tim Scott has already said -- he said this in an interview last year with Vox. Tim Scott is -- says qualified immunity, getting rid of it is a nonstarter for him. Tim Scott is the guy who said: I think God made me a Republican and a conservative black man in order so that I can make a moment in these kinds of times.

I don`t think Tim Scott is going to offer much of anything. Most of what the Republican Party has been saying is: We need to collect more data, and we need to give more money to police officers, and it`s a difficult job, and black people need to learn how to follow directions, even though it`s this terrible, horrible game of Simon Says, where police tell black people do things and shoot them anyway.

I don`t expect much from Tim Scott. Now, what he may do legislatively, I do think he is a Republican that Democrats can talk to, but his attack on Joe Biden is just going to be that. He`s going to say that the speech doesn`t accomplish anything. He`s going to say it`s terrible left-wing nonsense, and he`s going to say it`s an attack on the police.

Tim Scott publicly is always a cheerleader for the hard right of the Republican Party, even if, privately, he is occasionally a reasonable person when it comes to policy.

MENENDEZ: All right, Jason Johnson, I appreciate you sticking around for us. Thanks so much.

Ahead: AOC speaks out on progressives and Biden`s first 100 days.

Plus: Self-proclaimed Grim Reaper, Mitch McConnell, blames Democrats for obstruction. A very special guests responds.

And later: Where`s the beef? The epic walk-back from FOX on beef, beer and Biden.


MENENDEZ: Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez saying Joe Biden has exceeded progressives` expectations.

Now, ahead of Biden`s address to Congress Wednesday, progressives telling him not to let up, in the Senate, Bernie Sanders and 16 other Democrats calling on Biden to expand Medicare as part of the plans he will unveil on Wednesday, and, today, over 20 House Democrats making that same ask.

Joining me now is one of the organizers of that House letter, Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado.

Congressman, walk me through this. What are you asking President Biden to include?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Well, good to be with you.

We, in short, are leading an effort in the House, a number of (AUDIO GAP) across the ideological spectrum, folks like Representative Pramila Jayapal, who`s the chair (AUDIO GAP) from moderate (AUDIO GAP) districts, and, actually, over 75 other lawmakers, asking the Biden administration to utilize the American (AUDIO GAP) and Medicare.

As I (AUDIO GAP) throughout the caucus (AUDIO GAP) by lowering the eligibility age, improving (AUDIO GAP) benefits, which means including (AUDIO GAP) can and finally empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all Americans, very commonsense reforms broadly supported by the American people.

President Biden has fought his entire career to expand access to health care. We think this is a great opportunity to build.

MENENDEZ: Congressman, your audio is coming in and out a little bit.


MENENDEZ: But I want to try to stick with you. And we will see. And if not, we will come back and we will get you after the break.

In your letter, you ask President Biden and Vice President Harris to fulfill the commitments they made to voters on health care. You write that 65 percent of Americans are in favor of lowering the eligibility age.

Have you heard back from the White House?

NEGUSE: Sorry there, Alicia. Your audio is cutting (AUDIO GAP)

MENENDEZ: OK, we are having problems in both directions, Congressman.

We`re going to try to get it fixed and come back to you. We may see you in just a few minutes.

Ahead: burgers, beers, Biden, and a FOX News correction.

That`s next.


MENENDEZ: Today, FOX News forced to issue a rare correction for their false reporting on President Biden`s climate plan.

Take a look.


JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS: On Friday, we told you about a study from the University of Michigan to give some perspective on President Biden`s ambitious climate change goals.

That research from 2020 found the cutting back how much red meat people eat would have a drastic impact on harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The data was accurate, but a graphic and a script incorrectly implied that it was part of Biden`s plan for dealing with climate change.

That is not the case.


MENENDEZ: The original FOX story claimed Biden was essentially launching a war on meat, falsely claiming Biden`s plan would force Americans to cut 90 percent of red meat from their diets, limiting them to about one burger a month.

That is not true.

FOX based its story on an academic study from before Biden even became president. But the facts didn`t stop them on FOX.


ROBERTS: Say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up for the Biden climate agenda. That`s the finding of one study.

LARRY KUDLOW, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: They can`t have a steak on the grill or a hamburger on the grill July 4 weekend. You`re going to destroy, what, agriculture. You`re going to destroy cattle industry, the beef industry, distributors, knock-on effects, really wreck the economy.


MENENDEZ: Again, not true.

Larry Kudlow later veered into even weirder territory by trying to joke that Biden would force America to drink -- quote -- "plant-based beer."


KUDLOW: So, get ready. You can throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled brussels sprouts and wave your American flag. Call it July 4 green.


MENENDEZ: It is important to note here all beer is already derived from plants.

We will be right back with one more thing on the Oscars and a big night for some MSNBC guests.


MENENDEZ: Americans are gearing up for Biden`s big speech to Congress on Wednesday.

And, today, in the Senate, Mitch McConnell insisting that it`s up to Democrats to be bipartisan on infrastructure.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Now`s the time we learn whether Democrats really want to jump-start actual public works projects, or whether infrastructure was only ever intended as a wrapping paper for unrelated gifts to the far left.


MENENDEZ: Meanwhile, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez congratulating Biden, noting he has exceeded progressive expectations in his first 100 days.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I do think that the Biden administration and President Biden has definitely exceeded expectations that progressives had.

I will be frank. I think a lot of us expected a much more conservative administration. The active invitation and willingness and collaboration with progressives in his first 100 days, almost 100 days, has been very impressive.


MENENDEZ: We`re going to see how Biden frames these issues in that big speech on Wednesday night.

We`re also going to be watching how Jamaal Bowman, who is offering the progressive rebuttal, whether or not his feeling square with Ocasio- Cortez`s.

There were also big wins at the Oscars last night, with some MSNBC guests taking home the gold. Director Travon Free waiting for his short film "Two Distant Strangers." It`s a time loop film about a black man just trying to get home to his dog being killed by the same police officer over and over again. I talked to Free about it this weekend.

And, recently, Ari Melber interviewed the lead actor in the film, rapper Joey Bada$$.


JOEY BADA$$, RAPPER/ACTOR: The project resonated with me, being a young black man in America, and oftentimes feeling like there`s not much alternatives to finding justice or even hope.

TRAVON FREE, DIRECTOR: We, as black people in this country, we live between the poles of those emotions, right?

So, we can find ourselves one moment having the time of our lives with our friends, laughing it up, having a great time, and we can walk outside and, minutes later, be shot dead by a police officer.


MENENDEZ: Dug up this fun post from 2013, Free with an armful of other awards, tweeting, again, in 2013: "Now all I need is my Oscar and I can retire."

Ari also had a chance to talk to pop superstar H.E.R., who won the Oscar for best original song from the movie "Judas and the Black Messiah" about Black Panther lead Fred Hampton.


H.E.R., MUSICIAN: We need to continue the work of Fred Hampton, because, clearly, not much has changed since he was speaking out against these things.

It`s our responsibility now to continue his work.


MENENDEZ: A big congratulations to all of last night`s winners.

That does it for me. Ari Melber is back tomorrow.

A reminder: You can catch me every weekend 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern on "AMERICAN VOICES."