IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, September 23, 2020

Guests: Mark Cuban, Elizabeth Williams, Deborah Archer, Karen Bass, John Flannery, Brittney Cooper, Paul Henderson


Congresswoman Karen Bass speaks out. No police are charged for the police killing of Breonna Taylor. A judge rules that Eric Trump must testify within weeks in the fraud probe of the Trump Organization. Mark Cuban and WNBA player Elizabeth Williams discuss racial justice in America.



Hi, Ari.

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

We have a lot to get to. I am Ari Melber.

And we begin with breaking news.

No charges for the police killing of Breonna Taylor, all three officers who were under review cleared of potential charges in the killing of the 26-year-old emergency room technician, this almost 200 days ago.

One officer was indicted on a lesser charge for shots fired at the scene. That's a crime of wanton endangerment for shooting stray bullets.

The lead prosecutor on this case, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, announcing that he viewed the police killing of Taylor as justified. We have more on that part of this story shortly.

Meanwhile, on the ground right now, we're seeing largely peaceful marches and protests gathering, a police presence monitoring all of it. There have been some isolated clashes. The mayor declaring a state of emergency there and a 9:00 p.m. curfew, the National Guard on the ground.

Many, though, outraged about today's result and the process leading up to it.

The news broke today when a judge read off three counts of wanton endangerment, this against one officer with no charges relating to the killing of Taylor herself.


ANNIE O'CONNELL, JEFFERSON COUNTY, KENTUCKY, COURT JUDGE: The Jefferson County grand jury charges as follows.

Count one, wanton endangerment in the first degree. Count two, wanton endangerment in the degree. Count three, wanton endangerment in the first degree.


MELBER: And that was it, just those three counts against one officer, none homicide-related.

The bottom line is Kentucky charging one officer for those shots fired at the scene. That's the technical wanton endangerment charge. But, to be clear, what's most important to many is what's not being done, no charges against any of the three officers under review for actually shooting Taylor to death.

Kentucky's attorney general said that evidence showed that the officers did announce themselves upon arrival -- that's his claim that's been contested -- and that one was shot when entering the apartment, that providing a potential or arguable legal justification or defense for the shots that police fired in return.

Now, here's that key assertion from the A.G.


DANIEL CAMERON (R), KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves.

This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor's death.


MELBER: Now, let me be very clear. That is the prosecutor's view. It is legally important here.

Police defenders have also stressed that the officers were facing mortal danger, no matter how that raid began.

But, today, that attorney general you just heard from also said that this process presented all potential homicide offenses to the grand jury, trying to sort of shift responsibility over to those jurors.

And that reveals a legal contradiction. This is important here, and it does follow something of a pattern we have seen in other cases. If this attorney general is certain that the killing was justified, and he opposes any homicide charges for the officers, why say that they presented those potential charges at all?

Whether he meant to or not, the attorney general statement here does shed light on why so many experts say this type of process does not look to be on the level.

The entire arrangement, rather, appears to be to persuade the grand jury not to indict on homicide charges, then pin that very decision, which was engineered by those officials, back on the grand jury itself.

Now, that is one reason, among others, that, tonight, once again, America faces this scene, protesters demanding justice and arguing that the facts show right here in the broad daylight how this usually aggressive gears of prosecution, our system in America that is famously tough, it suddenly shifts into reverse if the potential crime is the alleged police killing of black and brown people in America.

We have a lot of context for you tonight.

We want to begin with Professor Deborah Archer, an associate professor of clinical law and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at the NYU School of Law, an expert on these issues, Brittney Cooper, professor at Rutgers University and an author, and Paul Henderson, the attorney and executive director of San Francisco Department's Police Accountability Project.

Paul, as a lawyer, what do you see in the way this case was handled and the announcement today?


And some of the concerns that you were just speaking about were how the attorney general made his case and what he relied upon, because what he relied upon are some of the issues that are in controversy. in this case.

What he relied upon were the statements of the officers. But, in this case, the neighbors said different things. And the thing that would have cleared all of this up would be body-worn camera, but there is no body-worn camera in a case like this.

And some of the things that led up to this incident are real concerning, the fact that they sent away the ambulance before the incident took place, the fact that they exercised subjective authority to exercise that no-knock warrant, when they know that this is no longer best practices. And they have since done away with that practice. But it raises a lot of issues for me that I have real concerns about, one, the finding that they did only concerned with the neighbors.

There's no finding as to Breonna Taylor. There's no finding as to her boyfriend, who were the subjects of the warrants. And, presumably, they're under the umbrella of protections for immunity for a police department. And that's a real issue that needs to be elevated and is being elevated at a different level.

But let's just focus on Breonna Taylor for now. Some of the things that are really concerning to me are, what is going to happen, incidentally, on the parallel tracks, when incidents that like this take place, the civil liability, the administrative liability, and the criminal liability, which is what we're talking about here?

And before we even begin talking about that attorney general, in his subjective authority, to turn this over to a grand jury, rather than making independent decisions for himself, we have to be asking ourselves, what's going on behind the scenes with that department?

Where is the incident review and the transparency for those reports? Are they even reviewing incidents like this to make sure that things like that happen? I mean, there's a lot to unpack here. But those are my top highlights of real concerns about this decision and about what's going on and not being said, lifting up the layer about policing to make sure that we move beyond just awareness into justice and policies that are going to change outcomes like this, so that there's not another Breonna Taylor, not just in Louisville, but in the rest of the country.

MELBER: Thank you for that.

And we're looking at a fairly broad phalanx of officers in potential garb and riot gear to deal with anything that may happen, about three hours away from the scheduled curfew in Louisville, Kentucky.

As mentioned, much of what we have seen today has been largely peaceful marches and protests, and fairly organic, because, Professor Cooper, this is news that came together, we only learned, very recently about the scheduled announcement, and now the news going across that city and across the country.

And, Professor Cooper, I'm going to go to Professor Archer on more law. And we just got a good breakdown a few issues from Mr. Henderson.

I'm curious for your perspective, having been with THE BEAT from our launches, as we have covered these types of stories and this Taylor case for months, about the power and what you see as a power explanation or dynamic for what happened today.


The nation is mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we're talking about the future of the courts. We're talking about the future of our legal system and its ability to actually be a site of advocacy for civil rights for the protection of black people, brown people, marginalized people, which typically happens with more liberal courts.

And yet today this injustice that was done to Breonna Taylor and her family, this sticking of the knife and even further reminds us of the historical way that the courts have often failed black communities, the way that the legal system often fails us.

Earlier this week, Officer Mattingly came out with a statement where he said that he knew that they had done the legal, the moral and the ethical thing.

And the fact that a black girl, a black woman who was unarmed and was in her own home is dead, and that the law can see no way to hold anyone accountable for her death, including police, who should have the highest standard of accountability, because they're the only people in our system who are charged with the ability to take someone else's life as a matter of the law, the fact that they cannot be held accountable, that there is no high standard for them, suggests that we're going to have a real reckoning in this country about what the words moral and ethical and legal mean.

What does justice mean if you're black and the police can take your life, and then no one is held accountable? So, that's the first thing I'm thinking about, in this moment where we are thinking about the future of the justice system.

The second thing I'm thinking about that I'm personally appalled by is that you have Daniel Cameron, an African-American, who literally stood at the podium today and tried to discourage protesters by making this argument that outsiders were essentially inciting protesters and telling them that they didn't know their own mind and their own feelings about this.

And I thought about the supreme irony of the way that that outside agitators argument has always been used against black people. In the Civil War and during the civil rights movement, white people used to say that outside agitators were coming in and making black people want their freedom.

And now the system has become so perverted that a black man is standing in front of us telling us he will not fight for justice for a black woman killed by the state, and that he doesn't want black protesters to be incited by outside agitators.

And this is the way that the right has perverted the system of justice in this country. I am deeply angry. I stand with those who are fighting for Breonna Taylor and her legacy today.

And the thing that these protesters keep reminding us of -- James Baldwin said this to us in the 1960s. He says, look, God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water. The fire next time.

The country is literally on fire, not only from the fires out in California, but from these issues of racial injustice. And the right keeps digging the knife in deeper and refusing reasonable calls for accountability when the cops screw up, and then they expect black people to have reasonable responses.

And something needs to change. Black people deserve relief. We deserve justice. And this reckoning is going forward, and we don't want it to become violent. And we need these systems to then serve us in a just manner.

MELBER: Yes, you talk about the fire next time and the historical antecedents to this, as we look at some live shots of some of the gatherings we have seen in and around Louisville.

And, Professor Archer, to bring you in, let me play a little bit more of the way that that attorney general whom Professor Cooper just mentioned, the way he put it today. Take a look.


CAMERON: Detective Cosgrove and Sergeant Mattingly were justified in returning fire because they were fired upon.

I will leave it to others to make determinations. We have vigorous self-defense laws in this state. And that is something that existed prior to this case. I will let others make judgments about that.


MELBER: Professor?

DEBORAH ARCHER, DIRECTOR, NYU CIVIL RIGHTS CLINIC: Yes, I first want to say that I'm heartbroken by the decision.

It's a reminder that black lives don't matter, and definitely not in Kentucky. There's no justice for Breonna Taylor or those who loved her. And as far as the grand jury in the state of Kentucky are concerned, Breonna Taylor's life had no value.

I think the decision is even more painful because Kentucky saw value in the lives of Ms. Taylor's neighbors, but not hers. It was a crime to risk her neighbors' lives, but it wasn't a crime to take hers.

And, as Professor Cooper just said, it's also a reminder of how unjust our legal system is. It highlights not only the need to fundamentally reimagine public safety, but also the need to immediately address the legal, social, political barriers that we see to holding police officers accountable for their actions.

We have a system that essentially gives police officers the license to kill black people at will. And, today, we really saw that system deployed. Under Kentucky law, there were six potential charges. The officers could have been charged with murder, manslaughter in the first degree or second degree. They could have been charged with reckless homicide.

They also could have been charged with wanton endangerment in the first or second degree. Yet, with all of these options, no one will be held accountable for Breonna Taylor's death.

And what we saw at that press conference was really the attorney general engaged in a full-throated defense of those police officers. He said that these officers were legally justified in taking actions that the police department itself said was an extreme indifference to the value of human life.

And the attorney general essentially announced his own guilty verdict. He resolved it was self-defense, in response to deadly force, when Kenneth Walker fired a warning shot at people he thought were intruders who had come into their house at the middle of the night.

The attorney general focused on the fact that a single witness said that officers knocked and announced before entering. But what he wasn't highlighting is that many other neighbors said that they had not knocked or announced themselves.

And, importantly, Mr. Walker said that he did not hear the officers knock or announce themselves, and that this was, in fact, a no-knock warrant. So why would they have knocked? Ultimately, that question was a decision that a jury should have decided, not the attorney general and not the grand jury.

MELBER: And, as you emphasize, the way the attorney general presented this case, -- and there are echoes of other cases we have seen, or people may remember all the way back to Ferguson, was this dance, where information is selectively presented on behalf of the police, on behalf of law enforcement, much -- much more akin to what the defense lawyer does and what prosecutors argue against.

Except, as I mentioned in our news open tonight, that seems to be reversed, and reversed on a racial basis. So, it's important for people to clock what's going on.

Our entire panel stays. We have some more special coverage, as I mentioned.

And we do want to get a report from the ground, where Cal Perry has been live in Louisville for us all day -- Cal.


Just to set the scene for you -- and I know you have been looking at some of these pictures -- as you said, 9:00 p.m. curfew about two hours and 45 minutes away, incredibly heavily police presence -- heavy -- excuse me -- police presence.

This is Louisville P.D. They have set up in this intersection. They have declared this an unlawful assembly, which means at any moment they could carry out some arrests. We have seen a handful of arrests. But, again, things are largely peaceful.

I will now show you the next level of security. State police here are staged in case this group falls back. So, you have these sort of two front lines here. There is a third layer on the other side of those buildings, the National Guard. You can actually see somebody looking out of some binoculars, likely a Guardsman.

I want to read for you what we have heard from the family, because I think it's important that we hear from the family. And through the lawyer, they're calling the decision today -- quote -- "outrageous and offensive to Breonna Taylor's memory" -- quote -- "a documented and clear cover-up in the death of an unarmed black woman who posed no threat and who was living her best life."

An Instagram post from her sister reads this: "Sister, you were failed by a system you worked hard for, and I am so sorry. I love you so, so, so, so much."

She's referring there to Breonna Taylor, who was a front-line health worker, important remember, in the middle of a pandemic, six months and 10 days ago, shot in her house. And that is what the city is trying to remember tonight, Ari.

MELBER: Cal Perry on the ground, thank you for that.

As mentioned, our panel stays.

I want to turn to the wider context here, because this case is not just a debate about the proper use of force in that deadly exchange in the middle of one night.

It's about broader and more systemic issues, like allegations that police bungled the legal requirements for that raid in the first place, and filed false reports, a separate potential crime, and misled the public.

Take the virtually empty police incident report, which listed Taylor's injuries as -- quote -- "none." False. She was shot to death with eight bullets.

Later, allegations that police tried to set up Taylor after her death. Meanwhile, there was new evidence casting doubt on the police claims that there was no body-cam evidence whatsoever. And then the approach and mind-set of these officers themselves. Remember, they are supposed to be under this legal review.

Now, even well after the months of public outcry, consider new statements from Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly. He was shot in this raid. He was also one of the officers under review and cleared of any charges today.

Just yesterday, he wrote this e-mail to the entire police force, saying, "The FBI aren't cops" and they would -- quote -- "piss their pants" if they had to hold the line. But they will -- quote -- "go after you" for a civil rights violation.

He also wrote in the same e-mail: "we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night, but the criminals are the ones being canonized" and went on to say to his fellow officers: "Now, go be the warriors you are. None of these peaceful protesters are worth your career or freedom" -- end quote -- from just yesterday.

It is obviously quite the remarkable public statement from an officer awaiting ruling on a potential charge, an officer openly impugning much of the fellow law enforcement organization of the FBI, which could still, of course, potentially make rulings in this case or decide there's a civil rights violation.

He also attacked local civilian leaders who are overseeing this police department, which does suggest the mentality that links officers and prosecutors as on a team, at the exclusion of any other entity, FBI, civilian control, the mayor, that might patrol their power.

In fact, this is something our colleague Joy Reid touched on during some of our breaking coverage after this decision came down today.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: The authority who will decide if your life is worth pursuing a case over is the partner of the police, their partner, who works with them to make cases, who works with them every day, who knows them by first name, probably sends them Christmas cards, knows who their kids are, their friend, their partner.


MELBER: Brittney Cooper, your view on all the above, because, as an attorney in a journalist, I can stipulate reasonable minds may debate what happened in the 30 seconds of firing, or the minute on either side of it.

And yet, when you stack up the systemic evidence, what Joy said, that e-mail I just read from one of the potential defendants saying, the FBI, they piss their pants, they're not real cops, there's no civil rights reason to investigate anything, your view of what this tells us?

COOPER: Look, we have a problem with the police being lawless in this country. And they have been lawless since their inception.

And I was reminded as I listened to Joy earlier and then during this segment of a quote from the famous anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, who, in 1893, wrote a pamphlet called "Lynch Law in All Its Phases."

And she said quite clearly, those who commit the murders write the reports.

And so, no, Daniel Cameron didn't commit the murder, but he's a party to those who did. And this is the reason why black people have been so distrustful. We have to watch these people come out and yell at us about the rule of law. In every way, they are making a mockery of the rule of law. They're undermining.

So, we saw Daniel Cameron talking about that justice meant the search for truth while he lied to us. And it's important that we get to dissent and say that what we heard was a lie, that it was not the truth, that there were other truths that were present that were devalued.

And, too often, we pussyfoot our analysis of this because we want to be seen as being reasonable, as being objective, as being able to hear these other sides of the case. But the law's objectivity is quite frequently used against black people in our own experience of our violence at the hands of the police.

And so why can't we believe Breonna Taylor's boyfriend when he said that, at that early hour of the morning, he didn't hear anybody knocking on the door, yelling that they were the police, somebody busted into the house, and so his thought was that he was going to defend himself and his girlfriend?

That is what he did. And this idea that self-defense appends to the police, but not to the people who occupied the houses, suggests that only white people get to defend themselves when the law busts into their houses.

And I know that these are hard truths for people to hear. But we have a 26-year-old unarmed black woman who was dead in her house at the hands of the police. Nobody is being held accountable.

And so if there's any day that we're going to take responsibility for that, any day that we're going to stand up and say, it is a perversion of justice to tell us that what is -- the injustice that was done here was inconveniencing and endangering the neighbors, and not killing this black girl.

That is absurd. It is perverse. It is enraging. It is the time to say it. Is the time to not equivocate. What Daniel Cameron did was, he equivocated on behalf of the state. That is why black people are angry. That is why we continue to disbelieve that the courts are a system that can actually render justice for us.

And something has to change. We're tired of being called upon to be reasonable and to respect the rule of law, when the rule of law has told us clearly that not only will it not protect us, but that sometimes, for its own interests, will actively murder us, and then tell us that we better be all right about it.


HENDERSON: Yes, Ari, I just want to say I want to elevate that conversation, because, as we talk about the rule of law, I think it's really important that we tie that to judicial decisions.

And now, more than ever, that's more relevant, because a lot of these cases, specifically the cases that define qualified immunity for law enforcement agencies, so far have been turned down by the Supreme Court.

And the Supreme Court is going through changes right now, as we know, but it only highlights why that conversation is so important, why that appointment is so important, and why defining reforming our justice system is so important.

I will say, just in reviewing even the videos that we were showing of what's happening out in Louisville, I have some real concerns that are again being raised throughout this country about the militarization of the police and the response of law enforcement when we have, as even evidenced by individuals on that force, peaceful protesters.

My concern is, I wish we had that much of a response from the law enforcement agencies as they review their own policies.

MELBER: Right.

HENDERSON: And their data has to be analyzed, it has to be reviewed.

The fact that we're having this conversation about no-knock warrants, and no one is raising the issue that no-knock warrants have not been best practices for years because of a risk not only to the community, not only for the targeted individuals, but for the officers themselves, and yet they are still being used with subjective authority by individual law enforcement agencies that use them disproportionately against communities of color.

This is not a singular...


MELBER: Right. Right. And, Paul, very important.

I'm going to fit in a break, because we have the CBC chair, Karen Bass, standing by.

I want to thank Paul Henderson, Brittney Cooper, and Deborah Archer for a deep discussion on a tough night in Louisville and for America.

My thanks to each of you.

When we're back in 30 seconds...

HENDERSON: Yes, thanks for having us.

MELBER: Absolutely. I appreciate each of you.

When we're back: Eric Trump ordered to testify. That's new today. We have that story later.

Donald Trump raising the specter of a contested election.

But, when we're back in 30 seconds, new reaction to the Breonna Taylor decision from the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Stay with us.


MELBER: We're reporting on the fact that no officers were charged with the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

There is, of course, a national reckoning over police and race in America that's been all summer. It's been in the streets. It's spilled over into the presidential race.

George Floyd's killing in May has raised these issues. That case actually resulted in something rare, charges against police officers for the killing of someone they were arresting. That was in Minneapolis. Officer Chauvin faces second-degree murder, other officers charged with aiding and abetting.

But, of course, that is the exception to the rule. In August, people saw 29-year-old Jacob Blake shot in the back by police in Wisconsin. He was clearly unarmed at the time, trying to get into his car. He's paralyzed, and no charges in that case.

Then, something else we have reported on, in Rochester, New York, Daniel Prude was basically in the position of mental distress. You see some of the footage there where he was found outside naked because his own family called for police help. But he died in police custody, suffocated when a bag was put over his head.

There have been some reforms there, including the ousting of the police chief, but also no criminal charges.

That gives you some context to today, no charges in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

For context. I'm joined now by Congresswoman Karen Bass. She is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, a member of the Judiciary Committee who has worked on these issues for many years.

Thanks for being here.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Thanks for having me, Ari.

MELBER: We were just discussing this at the top of the show. We have covered this in many different ways.

Your view, as a leader and, at times, an optimist, publicly stated optimist, when you see this result today and the larger pattern that we showed in some of those other cases?

BASS: You know, it's just so painful to see this over and over again.

And it just adds to the reason why the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would actually provide tools to stop this from happening.

So, for example, in the bill, we ban no-knock warrants. Just as your previous guest said, no-knock warrants are bad for both sides. In a six-year period from 2010 to 2016, 94 civilians were killed during no-knock warrants; 13 police officers were killed.

And you know, of course, that they were at the wrong house. And so this was just bad all the way around. I'm glad that the family was awarded some money in a suit, but that does not bring their daughter back. And there is no amount of money that can heal the pain that that family is feeling.

But the idea that those officers would get off, and then the brazen comments that the officer made, he really did hit at -- the essence of the problem was.

You remember, in his statement, he talked about warriors. That's the problem.


BASS: When they come to our community, there are warriors. When they go to white, more affluent communities, they are there to protect and to serve.

We have to address the culture of policing in the United States.

MELBER: Yes, you mentioned that. There's so much here. And we read from some of that.

But, since you bring it up, Sergeant Mattingly wrote this and sent it out while he was awaiting a decision in this case ,where he could have been a potential defendant, so really striking by any stretch.

But, as you say, he says to his fellow officers -- this was yesterday released -- quote -- "Go be the warriors you are."

BASS: Right.

MELBER: "None of these peaceful protesters are worth your career or freedom. Godspeed, boys and girls," Congresswoman.

BASS: Now, how can you protect and serve, how can you defend someone's constitutional right to peacefully protest, if that is your opinion of the people you are supposed to be protecting?

Now, I'm very worried that this was just straight political to begin with. We know that the attorney general was a superstar at the Republican Convention. We know what his background was.

So, I have to look at where he was coming from politically. I'm very worried about the protests. I hope the protests stay peaceful. But I do remember, when the protests were happening a few months ago, Louisville was the site of the Boogaloo Boys.

So we have white supremacist organizations that I know are already around, already on the scene. And I worry very much that they will infiltrate the protests and that they will incite violence.

And so I am just hopeful that the people stay peaceful.

MELBER: I appreciate the point there.

And we have on our screen, of course, we're keeping an eye on just one of the spots where there are basically organic gatherings. We have seen people gathering, many in masks, some without, huge police presence.

I want to play a little bit of what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said...

BASS: Sure.

MELBER: ... because many people have tried to understand, where does this result fit into the wider debate? Take a look.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): This is weighing really heavy on my heart.

And I think we know that her death is just not the result of one person, but the entire system and structure and departments that failed her, that failed their entire community.


MELBER: How do you square, obviously, your obligations as a public official, where we know that the rule of law goes forward -- so, this is how grand jury resolved this case thus far -- with what your colleague and others have emphasized, which is, the wider system in many parts of the country is not on the level, it openly discriminates against black and brown people, among others, also on race and poverty, and when there are these incidents, the system, as she put it, goes into public defense mode to prevent law enforcement against officers?

BASS: Well, exactly.

And some of these systemic problems is what the George Floyd Act addresses, and so the idea of qualified immunity.

The fact -- I mean, he can be brazen in the statement that he made yesterday because he knows the odds are, nothing is going to happen to him because of the way the law is structured, the fact that officers are rarely prosecuted, because the bar for prosecuting officers is so high. It can virtually never be met, which is why, in the Justice in Policing Act, we lower the bar to recklessness.

And recklessness is perfect in this case, because they were completely reckless. It wasn't the question as to what they were thinking about, what was in their mind, which is the way the law is now, willful intent.

And so banning no-knocks, the provisions in the law get at the system. And then you don't need an example better than what we saw in Kenosha, where we saw the young white boy -- being 17 years old, I'm not going to call him a man -- walking in the middle of a protest after he had shot three people, killed two with his AR-15, and walks up to police officers.

They offer him water and send him home. You can only imagine, if there had been a shooting, and a black man walked up on a group of police officers, what would have happened.

And so we do absolutely have systemic racism within law enforcement and our justice system, period. As one of your previous guests pointed out, the DA that is involved in prosecuting officers works every day with police officers. They need police officers to come and testify in their cases.

And so you think they're going to then turn around and prosecute a police officer? So, we address that in Justice in Policing as well, that provides for the attorney general, taking it out of the DA, where the relationship is so close.

MELBER: Yes, all very important points.

Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you for joining us on this busy evening.

We're going to turn directly to another story.

I want viewers to know we also have more on this story, including Mark Cuban joining us later, as we look at the sports and cultural backlash here and the pressure continuing.

But it's not the only thing happening, particularly in law. You have the Trump family now facing new heat, a judge ruling today Eric Trump must testify within weeks in the fraud probe of the Trump Organization, a judge ordering it happen, under oath, by October 7, which happens to be before the election, today, Eric Trump saying he intends to comply as scheduled.

This probe has now dealt Donald Trump's several losses, including that Supreme Court order upholding the DA's ability to get his tax returns. It also puts more pressure on the legal and political question that faces Donald Trump as he battles for reelection.

Is Donald Trump a brash, but ultimately legitimate businessman, a lawful businessman? Or is he a con artist who has enriched himself through crimes like fraud that he's gotten away with?

That's a question dogging him more, as many Trump allies have been indicted or convicted, from Paul Manafort, to Roger Stone, to Michael Cohen, to Steve Bannon most recently.

And the aggressive and legally successful posture of this New York DA -- as all these other things are going on, the DA keeps winning procedural steps in the Trump case -- it's also notable as a contrast to where Bob Mueller famously stopped short, never demanding a Trump interview or top family members testify in-person, which Bob Mueller's own top deputy recently criticized, noting that Mueller's team feared that making Ivanka Trump or other family members testify -- quote -- "would play badly to the already antagonistic right-wing press" and might provoke Trump to -- quote -- "shut down the special counsel's office once and for all."

Joining me now on this big story and the blow to Eric Trump is John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor and special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Good evening, sir.


MELBER: Good to have you, a lot going on. This is a big story by any measure.

And so I'm going to hit you with a classic lawyer two-part question, based on what I just went through. One, what is the significance of Eric Trump having to testify in this case, and, two, if you would, your thoughts on contrasting this DA's assertive approach to Mueller?

FLANNERY: Well, going backwards, I think that we have, with this administration, the proposition that justice is a coincidence of our system; it is not a consequence of it. And that is because of the way the White House has conducted itself.

This is a significant move in the state A.G.'s office. And they're conducting a civil investigation. And in that investigation, like father like son, Eric Trump, when he said he would testify in July, two days before he was set this testify, he said, forget it, I'm not going to be there.

And the seven subpoenas that he was supposed to respond to, he said, forget those too. Well, what the judge has done is, says, you are going to testify by October the 7th? And a good question about that is whether or not he could take the Fifth Amendment.

And since this is a civil proceeding, yes, he could assert it. But you can draw adverse inferences from that in any proceeding that would follow. Also, it would be a political disaster.

How does this compare to what we had in the Mueller investigation? It's the same pattern, deny, delay, avoid, lie if you have to, lie under oath, get others to lie under oath.


MELBER: And the DA, the DA as compared to Mueller?

FLANNERY: Well, the DA is a very interesting case, because Barr can't stop that proceeding.

And where justice is a coincidence, it's only a coincidence when Barr can trump -- pardon the expression -- anything that happens in the federal system. But he cannot constrict or restrict in any way what the DA in Manhattan does.

And that has been their problem. What they have tried to do is to delay, so the statute of limitations that is running on the crimes that they might prosecute, they hope to delay it, so the statute will run.

We're hopeful that the judges on Friday will make a decision that will at least take care of the DA in the Bronx.


MELBER: John, do you think this DA is being -- quote, unquote -- "tougher than Mueller," or you just think he has more statutory independence, and thus can be tougher?

FLANNERY: Well, to get me on Mueller, Mueller stopped at the water's edge of what he could do, which is to say, he didn't look at Trump, he didn't look at the family, he didn't seek to depose the president, all those things you and I have discussed before.

And we just have a member of his office, who has said that we could have done more.

And in the second part of their report, there is a footnote that I mentioned before we knew some of the things we know now that said, if we had investigated, with the FBI, some of these offenses, there might have been crimes.

Well, now we know that that's exactly what was happening, that Ron -- the deputy A.G., actually Ron -- I'm blocking on his name for some reason. He didn't give him the ability to do anything but seek crimes against others than the president, because of the Office of Legal Counsel memo.


MELBER: You're talking -- and I'm only moving because I got so many guests in the hour.

FLANNERY: I hear you.

MELBER: But you're talking about whether Rod Rosenstein narrowed...

FLANNERY: Exactly.

MELBER: ... that actual Mueller jurisdiction.

And yes, as you say and our viewers remember, Andrew Weissmann and others have spoken out about this.

It's important, though, as we compare whether or not there are other open crimes, and whether the DA may find those civil or criminal. And we wanted to get this in, with everything else going on, because it's a big development.

John Flannery, always good to have you, sir.

FLANNERY: Sure. Nice to be with you, sir.

MELBER: Thank you. Good to have you.

We have a lot more as well on other angles on the news in the Breonna Taylor decision, reaction pouring in from regular citizens, from activists, but also from athletes and cultural leaders, who were part of the pressure to get an investigation in the first place.

My special guests tonight, NBA owner Mark Cuban and WNBA star Elizabeth Williams -- when we return.


MELBER: We're joined now by very special guests, owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban, who, by the way, has endorsed Biden for president, the Mavericks holding voting registration drives this week, and the WNBA's is Elizabeth Williams.

Thanks to both of you for having this discussion.

We put together both what some sports and cultural leaders have said as well as the way the attorney general and Kentucky responded today.

Take a look.


LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: I want her family and I want the state of Kentucky to know that we feel for her, and we want justice. And that's what it's all about. What is right is right and what is wrong as wrong.

OPRAH WINFREY, PRODUCER/PHILANTHROPIST: If not for the coronavirus, I'd be out in these streets marching with the Black Lives Matter protesters, but these 26 billboards, one for every year of Breonna's life, are my offering, my form of protest.

CAMERON: There will be celebrities, influencers, and activists who, having never lived in Kentucky, will try to tell us how to feel, suggesting they understand the facts of this case and that they know our community and the commonwealth better than we do. But they don't.

Let's not give into their attempts to influence our thinking or capture our emotions.


MELBER: Mark, your response to the attorney general?

MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: Since when is justice for all a community issue? That's a national issue. It's an American issue.

I mean, look, LeBron is right. I mean, it's gone on too often, and it's just disheartening to see it over and over again. And just to have it just missed like that it's just wrong.

MELBER: Elizabeth?


At the end of the day, we just want justice, and we don't feel like it's being served right now. And now we have to move forward.

MELBER: And, Mark, it's clear that many of the people, from Oprah and LeBron, on across the movement, had an impact.

What does it tell you that both the impact put the pressure on, and yet, A, you had the result you have today, and, B, you have public officials literally telling people as powerful as them and others, this isn't your business, stay out?

CUBAN: There's a lot of work to do, and we have to get people to vote, period, end of story.

The attorney general is an elected position in Kentucky, and in, I think, all states, and if we want change, then we have to get out and vote in the people that will create change.

MELBER: Elizabeth, I want to play a little bit of Roger Goodell, who was moved late this year, to much criticism. Take a look.


QUESTION: They're still kneeling yesterday, quite a few.

ROGER GOODELL, COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: A very limited number. And we think that we're going to be able to address that at some point.

QUESTION: And, eventually, there will be...

GOODELL: We hope -- we hope to get -- we want all our players to stand.

I'm proud of what our league has done. I said it several months ago that we should have listened to our players earlier and been able to understand the things that were going on in our communities.


MELBER: Elizabeth, your view of whether that's enough, and are minds being changed by athletes and others being more vocal?

WILLIAMS: I mean, when we decided to have our season this year, and we knew we were going to be in the bubble, we knew our focus was going to be on say her name and the focus was going to be on social justice.

And so we established the first-of-its-kind Social Justice Council. And being a league that is relatively small compared to other professional leagues, that allowed us to organize really quickly. But, at the same time, we're still able to make a large impact.

And so, at the end of the day, a lot of these initiatives have been successful because they have been player-led, and we're just going to continue to do the work.


CUBAN: Yes, you can tell it's had an impact. And I'm proud of the WNBA. I mean, they really have stood solid together. And their voices have been loud and heard and resonated.

But you can tell the impact by the loudness of the response from the other side. You see conservative media, you see them trying to abuse the narrative, because they know it's having an impact. People care about this. This is an American issue. And we all know it needs to change.

And the WNBA, the NBA, through our programs, we're going to keep on working, because it's the right thing to do. Ending racism is a problem we all need to support.

MELBER: Mark, what do you say -- given that you have identified yourself as conservative on some issues, supportive of some Republicans, but here backing Biden against Trump, what do you say to conservatives, be gay your -- fans of your team and your work -- you have a following yourself -- who look at a case like this or other cases and say, as we hear sometimes, well, it's a tough job, police make tough decisions, they can't just be second-guessed after the fact on those that go wrong?

CUBAN: So, there's two different things there.

One, is it a tough job? Yes, of course it is. And there's obviously a real need for police in every community.

But, at the same time, every organization can get better. And an organization like policing that's shown time and time again that they're adverse to change, that they don't want to be reformed, that they don't want to listen to reforms -- you look at how their unions respond to any indication that something needs to change.

You look at their abhorrence of just trying to take away some of the immunities that they have. We need to disrupt policing. We need to reform policing. That doesn't take away anything from the men and women that put their lives on the line every day.

In fact, it's the opposite. It gives them the chance to do a better job and have a greater impact. That's what I say to them.

MELBER: Elizabeth?

WILLIAMS: Yes, I absolutely agree.

We want to reform the system from the ground up. And a lot of that has to come from voting. And a lot of what our focus has been on is talking to people about registering to vote, having people understand what voter suppression looks like and the importance of voting locally.

Like Mark said, the attorney general, these are elected positions. And so we want people to understand that, and we will continue to see change as people vote and get the right people in office.


And, Mark, as mentioned, you're doing this voting drive. We're also seeing a lot of arenas open to that.


MELBER: My final question is on something else that you're known for, because there's also a big campaign going on right now.

You are known as a clear and strong communicator. You can debate that if you want.


MELBER: What advice do you have for your candidate, Biden, going against Trump in these looming debates, where Trump is also known to get his words out?

CUBAN: Well, first, you don't only talk to the people that agree with you. You have to go talk to the people that disagree with you and show them that there is a different opinion than what they're hearing in a filter bubble.

Second, you really have got to communicate to as many people as possible and work to get that vote out, because that's what it's going to come out -- come down to, who gets the -- who gets more of their supporters out to vote.

But I think one of the mistakes he's making, he really is staying on his side, right? He's not going to communicate with people who disagree with him, because, when you go to the other side and talk to people that disagree with you, you get -- they get to hear something different than they're used to hearing.

And I think that's absolutely necessary in a country that's become so partisan.

MELBER: All interesting points, particularly on persuasion, on the big issues, as well as, of course, the campaign.

Mark Cuban, my thanks to you.

CUBAN: Thanks.

MELBER: Elizabeth Williams of the WNBA, who's worked on these issues, appreciate it.

And we will be right back.


MELBER: President Trump, meanwhile, was just asked if he would commit publicly to a peaceful transfer of power.


QUESTION: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that.

I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster. And...

QUESTION: I understand that, but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there's a peaceful transferal of power?

TRUMP: We want to have -- we have to have -- get rid of the ballots, and you will very a very -- we'll have a very peaceful -- there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation.

The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.


MELBER: Many viewing it as an irresponsible answer from the sitting president in a democracy.

Buckle up. We are 41 days out from the election.

And we will be right back.


MELBER: We're continuing to track these protests around the country, including we're seeing signs of some people gathering in Philadelphia, response to the announcement today in Louisville, Kentucky, there are no charges in the officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Also want to mention that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from the Judiciary Committee is on THE BEAT tomorrow. We will get into this, as well as other issues.

As always, thanks for joining us.



Content and programming copyright 2020 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.