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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, September 15, 2020

Guests: David Rothkopf, Berit Berger, Lonita Baker, Barbara Boxer


Filmmaker and comedian Judd Apatow speaks out. The city of Louisville settles with the family of Breonna Taylor over her wrongful death lawsuit. The DOJ launches a criminal probe into John Bolton over his book criticizing President Trump. Horrific allegations emerge of how the Trump administration and a private company are running an ICE facility.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT" with my friend Ari Melber starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you so much. I will see you soon.

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

And I want to thank you for joining us on THE BEAT as we track these stories now.

The DOJ launching a criminal probe into John Bolton over his book criticizing President Trump. Views of the U.S. in the Trump era, meanwhile, falling to the lowest level ever on record. That's in a new survey. And, later, Breonna Taylor's family reaches a new settlement with the city after police killed Taylor in her own home.

Tonight, we begin with a scandal facing the Trump administration's actions on this ongoing pandemic. It comes, of course, at a time when the president has been under fire for his words and his admissions about what he knew.

But here's the new story, trump's health secretary, Alex Azar, improperly pushing FDA scientists to loosen COVID testing standards. This was over several months. Politico reporting that the Trump appointee's demands effectively meant the agency would have to -- quote -- "abandon its responsibility for ensuring the safety and accuracy of a range of coronavirus tests."

Now, even when the scientific experts objected internally, Azar then basically revoked their powers to check the quality of tests developed by labs for their own use.

Now, Trump allies argue that this could get more tests to market. But look at the reporting. There were screaming matches inside the administration, people concerned this was basically a political power grab with real consequences.

And soon the FDI -- excuse me -- the FDA, I should say, finding widespread flaws in those very tests. Now, all of this adds to the doubt and uncertainty about what will come out from the government, which is run by the Trump administration, on this matter of, yes, your health, your life and death.

Before this story even broke, a major player in the health and vaccine area who everybody knows, the philanthropist and former Microsoft executive Bill Gates, spoke out to basically challenge the credibility the Trump administration this, questioning if it's undermining science at the FDA and whether it can even be trusted at this point to ensure a safe vaccine, which, of course, impacts most of the nation.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci also pushing back on Trump's political meddling on a different score, the very real scientific timeline for a vaccine vs. what Donald Trump has talked about, a vaccine somehow right around the corner. That's also prompted skepticism from Trump's own top aides, who warned the whole approach boils down to playing Russian roulette with the virus, according to "The New York Times."

And then there are the ongoing concerns over Donald Trump returning to indoor rallies, like the Phoenix campaign stop we just saw, which flatly violates the guidelines coming from Trump's own administration.

Now, you take this all together, and, obviously, you could say, hey, Ari, we have been talking about this for months. And some of this is familiar. There's also context, and I want to be clear about it so you can make up your own mind.

Some allies of the president argue that look, this pandemic has hit just about every country and economy, and that even politically blue regions like New York have suffered greatly, even while they're run by a more -- quote -- "Democratic approach."

Now, there's truth to the fact that pandemics are natural disasters with no political prism. They hit everywhere. But much of the global impact here may be hard to stem, sure. But let's be clear these COVID scandals that have continued to roil the Trump administration, they're not about hypotheticals or blame.

They're about documented malfeasance and failures inside this administration, often thanks to sources and leaks providing information about the failures from yes inside the administration.

We're joined now by Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, who specializes in infectious disease with the University of Boston School of Medicine, former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who is now a teaching fellow at the University of Southern California's Political Science Department, and David Rothkopf, who served in the Clinton administration and has a new book called "Traitor: A History of American Betrayal from Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump," a powerful frame, indeed.

I want to thank all of you and begin with our doctor.

There is much talk about the vaccine, including all of the political ramifications. As a medical expert, what do you see as important in this exposed or leaked struggle inside the Trump administration?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Ari, I think it's just another string of events that are eroding the trust in public health administration authorities in this country.

I think what's necessary -- we have talked about the vaccine hesitancy. What's going to be necessary when the vaccine comes out is for the vaccine manufacturers to be as transparent as possible, make all their processes, their data points available, because, at this point, independent scientists will want to take a look at it, beyond the Data Safety Monitoring Board that might be evaluating the results of the vaccine results in the trials.

The other thing that this does is, it kind of talks about how reactionary this administration has been. Early on, there was a complaint about the fact that tests were not available, and instead of sort of taking a systematic approach to ensure that we have good, accurate tests, they just moved this pendulum on the opposite side, but completely politicizing the process, which again hurts, of course, the response.

MELBER: Senator Boxer, your view, and in particular what it means when these nonpartisan medical experts speak out from within HHS?

FMR. SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): What it says to me is not going to be a shock to you are, Ari.

Trump is concerned about one thing and one thing only, himself, his reelection. He doesn't care. He thinks of himself as a king.

And, as I was getting ready for this interview, I thought, Ari loves music. I'm not going to say, so don't worry.

But I thought about this song in "Hamilton" where King George looks out at his American subjects, and this is what he says. He says -- he -- now I have to find what he says.

He says: "I will kill your friend." He says: "When push comes to shove, I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love."

And he's putting everybody in danger.


BOXER: Everybody, whether it's his own people at these rallies, or it's all of us because of the politicization of the vaccine, what they're doing at the FDA.

And I can tell you, I went through the AIDS crisis, and we trusted our health professionals. This is the first time I have ever seen a president play such politics, because he thinks of himself as a king, and he doesn't care who goes down. He's safe. He's got doctors 24/7. He's not the one in Trump.

MELBER: Well, Senator, we love you bringing Hamilton to the broadcast.

When you said, when push comes to shove, I was thinking of a beloved group from your constituents in San Francisco. I was thinking of The Grateful Dead. When push comes to shove, you're afraid of love, which some people, the "Hamilton" point even more serious.

David, I will bring you in.

I don't know if you have any great classic rock or classic "Hamilton" lyrics. But I will read a little bit on the -- kind of the analysis of a story that, admittedly, this may sound like a little bit technical, what's going on at HHS.

This affects our health. This affects the vetting for a potential vaccine and testing. And this is what one health official said, David.

"It comes from what they're trying to do is sort of a libertarian view that the FDA shouldn't interfere with the practice of medicine's viewpoint," a health official said, defending the Trump administration, "but this was such an abrupt and chaotic way to go about it."

And, really, it goes to the question, David, that I know you explore in your book, which is, what is the prism that Americans should use to understand the way Trump runs the government, especially when it affects the safety of their family?

DAVID ROTHKOPF, AUTHOR, "TRAITOR": Well, first of all, let me pick up on the Grateful Dead reference, because at HHS, Michael Caputo, the communications czar there, accused doctors of sedition who advanced this scientific theory.

And then he had to apologize to the staff today. And he made three points. And his last of his three points was that you should listen to the Grateful Dead. So he is a bit of a Dead Head. I don't know that you want to throw yourself at...


MELBER: I love you bringing that -- I didn't know he was a Dead Head.

I will say that the entire Trump era sometimes feels like a drum space part of the concert that never ends. But go on, sir.

ROTHKOPF: Yes, well I think Senator Boxer had it right on the nose. Everything is about Trump all the time.

And he doesn't care about the law. He doesn't care about tradition. He doesn't care about loyalty to the country. He cares about loyalty to himself. You saw it yesterday in California when he dismissed science, just as he dismissed science on here.

You have seen it with regard to the Russia case, where he doesn't care that what he has done is against the law or a betrayal of the country. If it's in his interest to support Vladimir Putin, when Vladimir Putin may be putting bounties on the heads of Americans, he will do it.

And I think the one defining crisis of this presidency is that he did it with COVID, and we're just now about to pass the 200,000 toll in terms of the impact of this disease. And we will probably get to 300,000. We might get to 400,000 by the end of this year, on the official totals. The real totals are higher than that.

Why? Because he thought that releasing the data, that listening to science, that responding to this properly might hurt him politically. And so he didn't. And he weighed that.

And that's the cost. And when I talk about it in the book, that's a betrayal, because the president's obligation is to serve the people, the Constitution, and not himself.

MELBER: Doctor?

BHADELIA: Yes, the one thing that sort of strikes me is that I'm not a politician, but it occurs to me the president must be running on a reelection ticket that's pro-virus, because what else can you say when someone undermines the ongoing dangerous pandemic?

What else can you say? And beyond that, he keeps telling people to let their guard down and tell them a vaccine is around the corner, when it clearly isn't, from people in his own administration sort of saying this over and over again.

What else can you say, when he keeps holding these rallies that are against the laws of the states, against the White House own guidance? Just to give you an example, last month, there was a wedding in Maine for 65 people, and now it's caused apparently 145 infections and three deaths, and outbreaks that have extended out to nursing homes and a county jail.

Last night, the Nevada rally was 5,000 people. The president is like this fire marshal who's telling everybody, don't worry, the fire is under control, and nothing else could have been done, while he's pouring gasoline on an open fire and allowing this pandemic to continue with his own actions.

MELBER: A really important perspective. I want to thank Dr. Bhadelia for kicking us off.

Senator Boxer and Mr. Rothkopf stay, because I want to turn to another piece of news that goes to the questions about the lying.

This is newly released audio from a conversation that the president had with Bob Woodward, this one new from April, newly released, while Trump was downplaying the virus.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bob, it's so easily transmissible, you wouldn't even believe it.

This thing is a killer if it gets you. If you're the wrong person, you don't have a chance.

It's the plague.


MELBER: Senator, what does it mean to see, again, just more insights into the approach behind the scenes, the awareness of how deadly it was, even as he deceived, not only the public, writ large, but even by the narrower standard of his own supporters?

BOXER: It makes me sick. It makes me really ill, because I think we all grew up with a certain set of values.

And the bottom line was, if you see someone in trouble, help them. I don't care who you are. I don't care what party you're in.

And here, here, because he didn't want the stock market to go down, because he could care less about people, even the ones who come out to worship him, he lied, and people died. And more people are going to die, as we hear today.

And this could have been different. If you look at the numbers from all over the world, Ari, you don't have to really be a mathematician or a health experts. Just look -- look at Japan. Look at the number of deaths. Look at their population. Look at ours. Just take a peek and see. They have about 1,200 dead, and we have, as we're saying, we're getting up to 200,000.

Now, they're smaller than we are. They have bet 125 million. But this is way off. We are handling this so badly. And just the last point I'd make is, I have served with so many presidents, five, three Republicans and two Democrats. None of them, when faced with something so serious, palmed it off to the states.

They knew their job was to deal with it. And come what may, whatever it was, they did.

MELBER: David.

ROTHKOPF: Well, in 240 years of American history, we have elected one president who had no public service experience prior to getting the job, one.


ROTHKOPF: That's Donald Trump.

And I think the reality is that Donald Trump doesn't understand the concept of public service. He views this kind of as self-service. He thinks that he can use the White House and the government as a piggy bank, and he sees it all, again, as the senator said, in relation to himself.

And the result is, "Foreign Policy" magazine just released a study of 36 countries' response to the COVID virus. And the United States ranked 32nd. We were behind Senegal and Kenya. The United States is not responding well to this, not because we don't have the resources. We do. Not because our agencies aren't up to it. They are.

Not because we didn't have a playbook. We did. It's only one reason. It's because Donald Trump didn't think it was in his interest to do the right thing.

MELBER: Yes, and I appreciate you widening the lens, because one of the temptations during this period is to really focus on and react to Donald Trump, sometimes in ways that he deliberately stokes.

Obviously, he is known as a manipulative -- a con man in his business life, according to so many people who worked with him, let alone critics -- that we can lose that wider spectrum, which both of you are touching on, which is the public obligations of a leader in government.

I'm sure Senator Boxer can name off many times in her work where she did things for her state, apart from not only whether they benefited her personally, which is a narrow view, but even things that you may not have 100 percent agreed with if you were just a potential dictator, but you were working out solutions for the public interest, broadly understood.

I mean, it sounds pretty straightforward to say, government 101.

Before I lose both of you, because we have a lot of other things in the show, I do want to play a little bit of the view here from Jared Kushner, who doesn't do a lot of interviews, but spoke out.

Take a look.


JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Yes, the president was very forthcoming with the American people about what he knew and when he knew it. President Trump, obviously, he banned travel from China, he banned travel from Europe.

This was an unprecedented pandemic. And as different facts evolved, the president informed the public.


MELBER: Senator, that's the official defense.

BOXER: They can say whatever they want, and they will, and they will keep on trying.

All you have to do is look at the deaths around the world over and over. And that's all I say to the American people. If you're undecided on this race, and this is an important issue to you, think about the fact that the president of these United States knew clearly -- in his own voice, we have heard -- that this is a plague, this is a disaster.

And he chose to lead you astray. And not only did he lead you astray, but people are dying. There's an old expression. You say, this guy's killing me. This time, he is.

MELBER: Yes. And that's the life-and-death stakes. And you see that particularly not only in the rhetoric around it, but in what we're finding out from intrepid reporting about inside HHS and other places tasked with this.

Senator Boxer, David Rothkopf, I want to thank both of you.

Coming up after our 30-second break in the show: the DOJ launching a criminal probe over a Trump tell-all book, Breonna Taylor's family getting a step towards justice from the city that oversaw the police who killed her.

And filmmaker Judd Apatow joins us, very exciting. His debut on THE BEAT -- Jerry Seinfeld, his views on Trump, how to take him on, and why he might even cast Drake.

THE BEAT continues when we're back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Turning to a huge story, probably the biggest legal story in America right now.

Attorney General Barr is facing allegations that he's doing dirty work for Donald Trump again, the Justice Department opening a formal criminal probe into former Trump aide turned critic John Bolton.

Now, you may remember him. The former national security adviser became a key figure in the Ukraine plot and the testimony about it, which ultimately led to impeachment.

Now, this is new, this probe. You may have heard Trump tweet and complain, but this is a new criminal investigation about whether he broke the law, and thus might be prosecuted or go to jail for disclosing classified information in the book.

This is not rumors. This is not tweets. This is the Trump administration deploying powerful investigative measures. And we're already seeing it. Take a look at new reporting of grand jury subpoenas issued to Bolton's book publisher and literary agent for any communication with him.

Bolton's eyewitness account of the Ukraine plot and book, of course, famously blasted Donald Trump and the -- quote -- "drug deal" that was being cooked up in Ukraine to go after Joe Biden.

It also confirmed some key allegations that Democrats had made in the impeachment and the ultimate Senate trial of President Trump.

Now, a little backstory is important. The DOJ had previously sued to try to stop this book's publication. That, we already knew about. What's news tonight is a criminal probe which reflects a far more grave legal step.

Now, Trump allies point to criticism Bolton got from an independent judge in that earlier case, who said that Bolton did -- quote -- "likely jeopardize national security by disclosing classified information, in violation of his obligations."

There are also reports that even people inside the administration warned, though, against opening this criminal case, potentially targeting Bolton, because, after Trump's public statements, it seems like an overly political act.

I'm joined now by Berit Berger, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern and Eastern District of New York.

Thanks for being here.


MELBER: There are plenty of federal laws that provide for legitimate inquiry into whether classified information was abused or leaked. Do you, based on what's publicly known, view this as going in that direction, and publicly evidence supporting it being OK, or is there a concern here that what any viewer would ask, law degree or not, which is, oh, someone that Donald Trump hates as a critic now is getting a legal scrubbing?

BERGER: Yes, so I think there's three questions that have to be asked.

The first is, did Bolton leak any classified information? And they will -- that's a question that there will be a definitive answer to. And a judge will look into that. And we will know one way or the other.

The second question is, IS DOJ treating John Bolton the same way that they would treat anybody else who was accused of doing the same thing? And if the answer to that question is no, you get to the third question, which is why? Is this politically motivated? Is this a legitimate DOJ investigation, because they truly care about classified information, or is this the president trying to use the Justice Department to settle a score with a political enemy?

So those are sort of the three questions that I think have to be answered.

MELBER: Yes, I appreciate your clarity on helping us think through how to do it, Berit.

I mean, when I look at this, right, I just think that you have the question of whether even the investigations themselves are basically abused to block somebody out. Andrew McCabe was famously on the other side of the president. We all know the extraordinary, unusual campaign he waged against him when he was in government.

And then we know it went all the way up to a potential indictment, potentially, before a grand jury and McCabe triumph. But what kind of triumph is that when you look at the draining effect of being investigated, if it is, as you say, is for politics, pretextual?

I want to read something from Bolton's lawyers, for their context. They say, basically, that they previously argued that he already got the clearance from top Security Council officials responsible for classification, and that the allegation is, the final sign-off was basically delayed for no reason, and that's how we got here.

What's your view of that evidence as it applies to the questions that you raised?

BERGER: Yes, I mean, that's a great fact in Bolton's book right now.

I mean, it would make it very difficult for prosecutors to bring a criminal case, since you had the top classification official at the NSC basically saying there was no classified information in at least the first review of the book.

And I guess the question could be, was it improper for Bolton to have shared earlier drafts of the book with the publisher that may have had classified information in it? Again, there may be meritorious issues in this investigation.

But if this is not the same kind of investigation that DOJ would bring for any other person -- lots of government officials leave office and write books -- if they would not do this same type of an investigation with anybody else, then they have got a real problem.

They have a real problem not only based on the sort of appearance of this. There could be legal defenses, like selective prosecution, right? If DOJ is going after him simply because of what he wrote in his book, they're going to have a legal problem.


And I want to read something about Attorney General Barr. This is from a deputy A.G. in the Bush administration, so, again, someone with more conservative credentials, just speaking out and saying: "Barr sees Trump as an opportunity to advance his agenda, which he's had for many years," and that's now making the president into a -- quote -- "autocrat. Trump is as much a tool of Barr as Barr is a tool of Trump."

And Barr 1.0 was the Bush years. Barr 2.0 is this term now. There's a lot of critics who argue that, if Donald Trump's reelected, Barr 3.0, a kind of a Cheney-esque, completely unbridled Barr, could have even more such investigations of opponents and really turn the DOJ into a political hit machine.

Do you think that is a fair concern or overstated, given your experience?

BERGER: I mean, it's hard to know what can be expected of the Department of Justice, after now everything that's happened so far. I don't think people would have expected that we'd be where we are now.

But what you have described is really one of the hallmarks of a corrupt nation, right? This is what we see happening in Third World countries, where legal investigations are undertaken against political opponents. It's not something that we think of happening in the United States.

And it's certainly something that we should be wary of and try our hardest to prevent against.


I really appreciate you walking us through that, Berit.

And I -- just, for viewers, I'm reminded of what was in the very -- one of the very first Comey memos, which wasn't even about all the other stuff that they clashed on and led to the ousting, was just that Comey said right off the bat, Trump called him in and said, I want certain opponents investigated and imprisoned.

And, Comey, being old-school, tried to explain to him why it doesn't really work that way, unless there's something legitimate. But that was the day one legal priority of the president. And he appears, at least according to much of the evidence, to have found other officials, not Comey, not McCabe, other officials who will carry that out.

We will stay on it, and we will be coming back to you, I'm sure, for your expertise, Berit. Thank you.

BERGER: Yes, absolutely. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

We have a lot more on the show, including stories we haven't hit yet, an emotional Jon Stewart back in D.C. on an important issue. What does the United States owe sick veterans? We're going to see what he said.

Coming up, though, the city of Louisville settling Breonna Taylor's wrongful death suit, paying her family a record-breaking sum. We have a very special guest on that and the question of what justice looks like going forward.


MELBER: Breaking news here: After months of protests and criticism, the city of Louisville paying out a $12 million settlement over its police department's responsibility legally for killing Breonna Taylor.

This is the largest payout in the city's history. It comes about six months after Taylor was shot to death in her own apartment by officers using a controversial no-knock warrant, as she was an innocent person and was not the suspect of the raid.

A wider criminal investigation of the shooting remains open. Louisville's mayor explicitly noting that he did not want to wait for the attorney general or other authorities.


GREG FISCHER, MAYOR OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: While we await a decision from Attorney General Daniel Cameron on whether or not charges will be filed in this case, my administration is not waiting to move ahead with needed reforms to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.


MELBER: Now, this is a big development, no doubt, the resolution of a civil case like this very important to the impacted family.

It is also at the same time just one step in the calls for much wider justice. Local authorities here, I have to note, before turning to our special guest, have already faced alleged scandals for reportedly covering up what happened, allegedly hiding evidence, and allegedly pushing a plea deal to frame Taylor for a crime she didn't commit.

Meanwhile, the attorney general has been defending what many call a slow process. He even brought up this case in an appearance at the Republican National Convention.

The larger question for the pending probe, though, with the criminal side is, what will authorities and a grand jury do, if anything?

We turn now to our special guest, as promised.

Lonita Baker is an attorney for Breonna Taylor's family.

Thanks for joining me.


MELBER: Absolutely.

We wanted to walk through the multiple lanes here. As we have expressed to viewers, this is an important case, with a lot that's happened, and yet no criminal charges.

So, starting here, with just the news on this large amount of money, what does the resolution of the civil case mean to you and the family?

BAKER: Well, even more important the substantial amount of money, which was $12 million -- we believe it's one of the largest financial settlements in a civil rights violation case in the country.

But more important to that, and what was more important to Breonna Taylor's family and her mother, Tamika Palmer, was the reform that came along and was negotiated as part of the settlement as well.

So we wanted to make sure that Breonna Taylor -- when she was on this Earth, she worked as an emergency room technician. She saved -- she helped save lives. And we want her legacy to continue to save lives with some of the reform.

And we recognize that it's just a start on reform, but it's a step. And, as I stated earlier...

MELBER: We will put that up.



MELBER: We will put that up on the screen, and you talk us through it, yes. We will put it up, and you talk us through those reforms.

BAKER: So, the reform, we basically break it down into three types of reforms.

So one was an overhaul to the manner in which search warrants were obtained, requiring commanding officers to sign off, on not only the affidavit and the search warrant, the facts going into the search warrant, but also the SWAT matrices.

We know that SWAT is more equipped to deal with executing hybrid research warrants. So we don't want officers to be able to go back and change those matrices, so that they don't have to utilize SWAT.

So they have to get that commanding officer to sign off on it even before going to get judicial approval. Another part of reform is the community-based policing. And then we have the early warning system, implement an early warning system, so that you can detect problem officers.

We want to -- again, we want to prevent, we want to reform, we want to reward officers who are doing a good job, but we need -- it's time that we have broad, sweeping reform and an overhaul of our criminal justice system, so that we don't have to keep accounting for bad actors within the police department.

MELBER: I appreciate you walking us through that.

And, again, just to reinforce what you're saying, in the civil process, there's limitations on what can be pursued, right? Money is how most civil cases are resolved, or they go to trial, and there's a judicial mandated payout of money if you win.

You're highlighting how you have also used this process to get some of these reforms that people think are so important, when you look at the controversies in policing.

Now, having done sort of one and two, I want to turn to number three with you, which is, what's left undone? What is your view, as a representative the family, about the grand jury process, the amount of time it's taken thus far? Is there enough public evidence, in your view, to support charges? Or is it too soon to say?

BAKER: Yes, it's six months -- we passed the six-month mark this past Sunday of Breonna's death.

And Daniel Cameron has had sufficient time to do an investigation, to determine if there's probable cause for a grand jury to return an indictment on these officers. And, yes, there has been sufficient evidence presented in the public sphere to warrant, at a minimum, an indictment for second-degree manslaughter against the officers involved.

And, in Kentucky, that second-degree manslaughter is wanton behavior that causes the death of an -- of someone. And the wanton behavior of the officers involved in this case are blindly shooting into an apartment when they did not have target acquisition.

They didn't know who they were shooting at. They shot nearly 30 rounds into her apartment, into two neighboring apartments, putting at least five other people at risk on that night, six other people, including Kenneth Walker.

MELBER: Right.

BAKER: So it's -- you put these other people at risk, and you kill Breonna Taylor.

That is sufficient evidence for second-degree manslaughter in the state of Kentucky.

MELBER: And I appreciate you walking through that legal framework.

For folks who might be talking this through and say, well, if the officers thought they were going to a legitimate call, if they didn't get up in the morning that day planning to kill a suspect, it wasn't that premeditated, are they still on the hook?

And you're walking us through what is a serious, but slightly lesser charge, that would support that, regardless of if they didn't start out the day with that goal or that criminal objective, shall we say.

Last question for you, of course, is about what I alluded to, and we have tried to document here, which is at least allegations, reports about cover-ups, malfeasance with the authorities, the family's response to the reports that allege that authorities wanted to potentially try to stick her with some criminal conspiracy she wasn't a part of.

Your response to all of that? Does that raise concerns about the legitimacy of the open probe?

BAKER: My hope is that -- because I do have the privilege of being able to see evidence that has not been released to the public, once the public is able to see everything that I have seen, they will be just as assured as I am that Breonna Taylor had nothing to do with any criminal enterprise of an ex-boyfriend.

And so I look forward to the day that the general public gets all of the information. I will be a part of that process when the investigation, the federal investigation in the attorney general's office is done.

We have made it a priority already to make sure that the truth is out there. And we will continue to honor that promise that we have made to the community, who's been so supportive to our cause.

So, and, again, as I said last time I was on here, it was unfortunate that the commonwealth attorney's office stooped to that level to try to name her as a co-defendant posthumously, and she wasn't a co-defendant.

But I pray that Daniel Cameron, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, upholds his ethical responsibility and does the right thing, and an indictment of second-degree manslaughter against all of the officers involved is returned.

MELBER: Lonita Baker for the Taylor family, I appreciate you coming back on with us. Really appreciate it. And we will keep an eye on the story.

I want to tell viewers, we have a lot more coming up, including hearing from Jon Stewart speaking out on a big issue, plus Judd Apatow's debut on THE BEAT.

We also have reporting on a story I really want you to see. We're going to look at some new and horrific allegations about how that Trump administration and a private company are running an ICE facility. There's even claims of forced hysterectomies. And the whistle-blower just spoke to NBC News.

That's later in the show as well.


MELBER: We turn now to a report on new allegations of the mistreatment of immigrants held in Trump administration ICE facilities.

For context, over 20,000 immigrants are currently detained. And the new details here are difficult, but significant.

A nurse and four lawyers representing several unnamed detainees in Georgia alleging that -- quote -- "Women are routinely being sent to a gynecologist, who's left them bruised and performed unnecessary procedures, including hysterectomies."

The nurse, who served in the ICE facility, Dawn Wooten, filing the complaint with the Department of Homeland Security. Wooten says these extra operations are happening even as detainees were not getting things like standard COVID tests and other medical care needed.

The complaint states virus safety precautions ignored, and not only that, but that the way they're doing the detention makes social distancing impossible, of course, violating the administration's own guidelines.

Plus, reports of officials misleading about data on the number of infections. ICE reports in that now contested data 43 cases of virus at this facility as of Monday.

And we want to play for you the nurse, who just spoke about all of this, these disturbing allegations, to NBC's Jacob Soboroff today.


JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You're quoted in the complaint as saying: "That's his specialty. He's the uterus collector."

Is that how people refer to this doctor?

DAWN WOOTEN, WHISTLE-BLOWER: That's how the detainees referred to this physician. They referred to him as -- I had a detainee that asked me. She said: "Well, what is he doing, Ms. Wooten, collecting all of our uteruses?"

And I just looked at her puzzled, because I didn't have an answer.


MELBER: Federal rules authorize an internal watchdog to investigate.

We should note President Trump, though, has been asking several such federal watchdogs that he views as simply too independent.

The Trump administration's ICE agency is responding that it's reviewing this allegation, but it adds: "Anonymous unproven allegations made without any fact-checkable specifics should be treated with the appropriate skepticism" -- end quote there.

Now, that's not all. There are many critiques of the cost of privatizing government, especially in areas like prisons or detention. And you should know this facility is not really completely under the government's control, but, rather, runs through a private company, LaSalle Corrections, which has not responded to NBC News' request for comment.

Now, there is a ton going on right now, from COVID, to the recession, to the wildfires, the campaign. But we ask tonight, should this also be a priority in Washington?

The information is recent, but I can tell you, the very top Democrats in Congress, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, now calling for an investigation this very issue, Pelosi saying the whistle-blower is alleging "a staggering abuse of human rights."

And that's a fitting point to reflect on, because, whatever you think of immigration policy or people that are in detention or even in prison, under our system, they all have equal human rights that must be respected.

We wanted to give an update on that story. I promise we will stay on it.

When we return, Jon Stewart out with a powerful call to action.

And, as we promised, the debut of Judd Apatow, the Hollywood powerhouse, on THE BEAT -- when we come back.


MELBER: Do you ever notice how Donald Trump's allies try to defend some of his controversial statements, his jokes, try to walk away from serious things like requesting Russia interference, or challenging election integrity, as some kind of political comedy?

But many Americans think there's really nothing funny about it, including Judd Apatow, known for blockbuster comedies, like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up," "Trainwreck," "Bridesmaids," and the new Pete Davidson film "King of Staten Island."

Apatow is celebrated for his jokes and insights. He follows the maxim that the best jokes do reveal truth. And he's got downright serious about the choice facing America in November.

This is our new "Mavericks" interview, an exclusive clip airing right now for the first time.


MELBER: Do you think, if Donald Trump is reelected, our democracy is in danger?

JUDD APATOW, FILMMAKER: Oh, absolutely, yes, I think so, because we're noticing how the country works right now.

We realize that, if Donald Trump is reelected, he may get to name two more Supreme Court justices. And then any problem he has, he sues to get to that Supreme Court, and that Supreme Court may give him the go sign on a lot of behavior that we all know is against the best interests of the citizens of the country.

So, it is a very important election, because look at what happened. There's no congressional oversight. So, we're like, oh, the system doesn't really work if it takes that long to figure out if Congress has the power to call people in front of it to answer questions.

And so, if you have a president that understands that, and he also has packed the courts and the Supreme Court, who knows what else could be dismantled?

MELBER: I'm really curious.

This is a specifically communications question, but given your -- some of your expertise, do you think that Donald Trump's ability to be a character, to present as a cartoon, reality TV type, ridiculous character for so much of his life, has weirdly shielded him from things he's doing that it's widely discussed other people, including other Republicans, wouldn't get away with?

Or is that not the way to look at it?

APATOW: I think it's going to take many years and many psychiatrists to figure out how this happened, what it means, what he means to people, why they want to stay with him, even after they understand how corrupt and inept he is.

It's hard to truly have a solid answer for that, because I think in a lot of ways, the answer deeply saddens us, because we want to be a compassionate country. We want to be a country that cares about our citizens, and we're aware that the support for him on some level is a support for a certain type of cruelty.

And what does that mean, when more people aren't upset about how he treats the military, or how he treats people who are trying to move to this country from other countries, or a zillion other issues? It's almost hard to fathom the support that he still has.

Yes, he's weird and funny and a character. But I also think most people are not amused by him anymore. I think the comic appeal of him, which maybe greased the wheels last time, is pretty much gone.

I think most people are horrified. And even the people who support him have a sense like there's something deeply wrong.


MELBER: Just laying it out, a king of comedy saying Trump has got into a situation where people are just no longer amused.

Now, Apatow got his showbiz start as a teenager. He cold-called comics like Jerry Seinfeld, exploring their craft.

And I want to show you a little bit here. In the new interview, he also opened up about that, why he tells so many stories in his films about growing up and coming of age, and why the comedic lead in his next movie could be Drake.


APATOW: So, I would see Jerry Seinfeld do stand-up. But I had so many questions.

I feel like, on some level, I was trying to invent the podcast. I'm always interested in how people learn lessons or don't know, how hard it is to grow up and deprogram your mind.

MELBER: Comedians and artists who push boundaries, by definition, are going to catch more guff.

APATOW: I do think that comedy should be criticized. I don't feel like it should end people.

How can I do a better job? Now I have to understand women to write women. And that takes a while.

Drake was in "Anchorman 2." I remember, when he was shooting, I thought Drake's got some chops.

MELBER: I did rap, my acting days are over.

APATOW: Everyone is in the middle of coming of age.

I have a lot of friends like in their 70s and 80s and...

MELBER: Are you flexing on the age diversity of your friends?

APATOW: I am. I am.

We're all just trying to figure out this life and do a little better every day. And that's why all my stories are about that.


MELBER: Apatow telling us why so many of his stories do have echoes, just like any director or writer that you might like and notice overlaps between the films.

It's really interesting having us -- basically having him walk us through that.

He also told me why he believes there actually only, he says, four endings to movies and stories, period. This whole thing, of course, was an excerpt from the full interview.

It runs about half-an-hour. And I want to tell you right now, you can go get it. We're publishing the whole thing. You go to to see the entire exclusive with Apatow.

He also talks about Hollywood buckling to the Chinese government, making some waves with that, and also some stories from his own movie sets.

At that link, you can also see installments from other people in this series. It's "Mavericks With Ari Melber," So, please go check it out.

When we come back, we're going to hear from another funny person getting dead serious about health care and more, Jon Stewart on Capitol Hill to end the hour.


MELBER: Jon Stewart on Capitol Hill, he's pushing for a bill to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stewart speaking with passion and emotion -- we want you to see it -- criticizing the government's failure to act.


JON STEWART, FORMER HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": The war fighters that were sent to prosecute the battle based on the attack on 9/11 now suffer the same injuries and illnesses that the first responders suffered from.

And they're getting the same cold shoulder from Congress that they received. It's bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). It's about money.

And we're here today to say we're not going to let this happen in the dark.


MELBER: Shine a light on it, Jon Stewart speaking passionately, you can see it, bluntly.

The last time he spoke was on the 9/11 first responders, getting money for their legislation. And, as we documented at the time, that pressure helped.

Now, one more thing before I go. I get a lot of questions from people about the 2020 race and the law, so many legal questions.

Now, this Sunday, I'm going to go live and tackle some on Facebook. So, go to sign up. We will preview the race, tackling your questions and concerns and election hypotheticals. Take a look,, that address at the bottom.

And the top item is where you can RSVP, register in advance for this. You can also post your questions, so it will be even more interactive than THE BEAT, as I look forward to hanging with you all this Sunday,

That does it for me. I will see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.



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