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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/24/21

Guests: Gwen Keyes Fleming, Derrick Johnson, Jean Peters Baker, Bill Nye

Summary

All three men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. Kevin Strickland freed after 42 years in prison, gets no money from Missouri.

Transcript

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: You can listen with my conversation with Al Roker about how he became the iconic weatherman he is today, or any one of the episodes that cover topics like electric vehicles, health care in America or America`s favorite fighting Frenchman, Marquis de Lafayette. There`s no better to dive in than our weekend of long drive, lots of cooking and supposed dinner lounging. Hope you check some out.

I wish all of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday, my favorite holiday. Let`s all be good to each other.

That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now with Ali Velshi, in for Rachel.

Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Long drives or e-bike rides, I have to say, Chris. You`re looking good. It does take some effort. You may not get fully sweaty in a nine-mile drive, but you`re putting some effort getting to work than I am. Let`s put it that way.

HAYES: Thank you very much, Ali. Have a great holiday, man.

VELSHI: You have a good one, my friend. I`ll see you on the other side. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has got the night off. She will be back on Monday.

The law stated, quote: A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.

That was Georgia`s citizens arrest law. It enabled any ordinary system doesn`t to capture any ordinary citizen if they could claim that the person committed a crime. It was made the law of the state in 1863. It is no coincidence that that law was put into place that year. 1863 was codified. The law was codified right after President Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, enslaved people in Georgia started fleeing their captors.

One Cornell law professor put it bluntly, quote, it was a slave-catching law for slaves that attempted to flee. And it remained the state saw during Jim Crow when it was used to justify the lynchings of four black people in January of 1912. It was used again to justify the killing of two black couples in July of 1946. Black couples who were dragged from their cars and shot dozens of times by white men.

The NAACP has documented more than 530 acts of lynching in Georgia alone between 1882 and 1968. The violence was second only to that of Mississippi, the citizens arrest law helped excuse some of that violence.

What a terrible old law. The problem, is that the law was still on the books in 2021. This spring the state of Georgia repealed that law, it only happened because of a tragedy that took place in February of 2020. It was then, the three white Georgia men chase down a 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, while he was jogging through their neighborhood. When he didn`t stop, when they ordered it to, they trapped him with their trucks and shot him dead.

They claim they were attempting a citizens` arrest. They say they assumed Arbery was responsible for local thefts that they had been hearing about four weeks after seeing him drive by. They just assumed it was him. They did not investigate. They did not have evidence. They assumed it was hidden, and assume that they had the right to capture this black man, to make a citizens arrest.

When Georgia governor kept finally repealed that civil war era catching law, this past me, Ahmaud Arbery`s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, made the significance of that repeal crystal clear. She said, quote unfortunately we have to lose my son in this manner. Had this bill been in, please I think it would protect young men as they were jogging down the street.

Her son was not protected in February of 2020. Those three men gunned him down in Brunswick, Georgia, and killed him in cold blood. Those three men have been on trial for more than two weeks on charges of felony murder aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. They claim that they had the right to chase and detain Arbery because of that citizens arrest law. And they claim that Mr. Arbery was shot in an act of self-defense.

The prosecutors argued that their actions didn`t even meet the standards of that citizens arrest law, and that the defendants attacked Arbery because he was, quote, a Black man running down the street.

Well, today, after ten hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict. They found all three men guilty of felony murder and false imprisonment. They found Travis McMichael the man who pulled the trigger, guilty of all nine counts in the indictment. This was the scene outside the courtroom after the judge read the verdict, cheers, and chance of "Whose street? Our streets. The people united will never be defeated. And say his name, Ahmaud Arbery".

Ahmaud Arbery`s parents walked up moments later hands raised alongside their attorneys and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Who has been supporting them in the courtroom during the trial. He has been there despite the repeated and bizarre objections of one of the defense attorneys.

[21:05:03]

Both parents and one of their attorneys, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, spoke after the verdict. They expect relief and gratitude that this time, in this case, these white men would not be allowed to murder a black person with impunity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY`S MOTHER: I never saw this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come. But god is good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he is.

COOPER-JONES: And I just want to tell everybody thank you, thank you. For those who marched. For those who prayed. Most of all the ones who prayed. Thank you god. Thank you.

MARCUS ARBERY, AHMAUD ARBER`S FATHER: Ii don`t want to see no body left and shot like that. So it is all our problems, it is all our problems. So, hey, let`s keep fighting, let`s keep doing and making this a better place for all human beings.

BEN CRUMP, ARBERY FAMILY ATTORNEY: I will tell you all, we together did this, we all together, black, white, activists, prosecutors, lawyers, prosecutors. We did this together. We said America we will make us better than what we saw in that video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: We did this together.

The NAACP released a statement today noting the generations of black people in this country dating back to its founding back to when and that`s a patient. Back to the first to distance arrest law generations of black people who have endured losses like the Arbery family has without ever seeing anyone held accountable. The generations have lost in fuel protest after protests after protests, quote, the verdict in the trial, over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery is long overdue. Ahmaud Arbery`s death was unnecessary and fueled by racist ideologies deeply ingrained into the fabric of this nation. Generations of black people have seen this time and time again. But the murder of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, and many others.

He went on to say that the events surrounding a modest death reflected a growing in deepening rift in America that will be its undoing if not addressed on a systematic level. We must fix what is genuinely harming our nation, white supremacy. The White House also waited, while the guilty verdict reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. The administration vowed to do the hard work to ensure that the equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.

And to be clear, the Biden Justice Department has been forceful on this issue. In April, the DOJ charge the three man who killed Arbery with federal hate crimes. They will be tried in federal court in February. That decision to federally indict those men is part of a string of DOJ actions to investigate the killing of black citizens, like Breonna Taylor, like George Floyd.

In May, the DOJ decided to indict the officers involved in George Floyd`s murder as well. Those officers were arraigned in September. They pled not guilty. They are at the trial for murdering George Floyd, were one of the few times in history that a white police officer was found guilty of killing a black person. He was the first ever police officer to be convicted of killing a black person in Minnesota.

But to, many, it felt like a surprise, an exception, despite the wealth of video evidence of that crime.

Earlier today, just after the Georgia jury asked the court if it review video of Ahmaud Arbery`s murder, one of the Arbery family, Ben Crump, reflected on the killing of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUMP: Thank God that there is video. We think about George Floyd and how consequential that video was. We pray that the video here will help them arrive at a just verdict. But, Reverend Al, I can only think about all of the people that marginalized people of color, who did not have video. I can only think of them never ever having a chance at court.

And I don`t want to have this precedence where the minorities are killed by white people. That we have this high standard and we have to have a video to get justice, I am thinking about Breonna Taylor, I am thinking about so many others, when there were no video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Ben Crump trying to figure out if a president is set, where you have to video to hold someone accountable for killing a black person. Just like it was for George Floyd.

The video of Arbery`s murder was pivotal in this case. No one was arrested until the video of Arbery`s murder was released, and circulated widely, which took more than two months after the killing. That video sparked nationwide protests and activism.

[21:10:02]

It was a key piece of evidence in this trial. Like George Floyd, the video of Ahmaud Arbery`s murder, sparked a national outrage. People protested throughout the summer of 2020 in the name of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other black people who have been killed by white police and vigilantes.

And attorney representing one of the defendants at the army murder child same acutely aware of some of the similarities between this case and the murder of George Floyd. Protesters showed up outside the courtroom in black pastors set with the Arbery family inside the courtroom, the defense attorney tried seven times for a missed shot, solely based on the presence of black people supporting the Arbery family. He tried over and over and over again. He failed every time.

During one of his Hail Mary attempts at a mistrial, he referenced George Floyd murder trial, implying that the influence of Black protesters had an effect on the verdict. During his attempts to kick black people out of the courtroom, he seem increasingly worried that George Floyd`s murder really had reignited a civil rights movement and that his case might become part of that movement too.

Now seven months after a guilty verdict following George Floyd`s mother, we have another guilty verdict. For these three men in Georgia, who claim to be arresting a fellow citizen. Is this a turning point?

Joining us now is Gwen Keyes Fleming, a former elected district attorney, in DeKalb County Georgia.

Good to see you. Thank you for being with us, Miss Fleming,

I want to ask you how you think about this verdict, where the facts of the case so blinked and that reasonable people would`ve expected that the defendant would be found guilty? Or was this the case of a prosecution making a strong case and overcoming systematic bias in the system?

GWEN KEYES FLEMING, FORMER DEKALB COUNTY, GA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think it`s a combination of both, and I`m glad to be here, thank you for having me this evening.

This is a case where, as you said it up in the beginning, this is a reckoning. Justice was served today. And I think it is telling that we are at the point in this country, that we have to recognize that through video we are able to see various things that various witnesses or -- just having that video was so powerful.

And you will notice the jury today asked to see it several times again, before coming back to their verdict. I do think we have to be careful that it does that a standard going forward. We have to deal with the root causes of racism, and in this case in particular, there were overtones from jury selection all the way through closing argument.

It was really reprehensible, so it is good to know that the jurors were not pursuing it, by all of that rhetoric and stayed true to the law and the facts as the prosecutor laid them out.

VELSHI: But Ben Crump is right, for all those people who didn`t have video, there are virtually never a conviction, whether it`s police, people who take the law on their own hands, or people who claim to do so. There is a line that has been repeated over and over in this country for decades, police and other people do not get shot or killed for doing nothing wrong.

FLEMING: I think you are absolutely right, and that is the problem. We need to be able to get to the point where when we say these crimes, these racial crimes are happening, they are believed. It is not required to actually be on video.

But in a courtroom, as a former prosecutor, having video, or having audiotapes, or having things that capture all of the emotion of the moment, those are priceless and helping any prosecutor really convey what happened, and probably more importantly, refuting what a defense team may try and come in later and try and retool the facts, or restate the fact in a way that is beneficial to them.

VELSHI: Throughout the trial, the defense in particular for Ronnie Bryan, the third man charged, repeatedly raised the issue of Black pastors in the courtroom. One of them who he was reporting two was Reverend Al Sharpton, he called them and other a literal lob, he used the term he said his client was being lynched, a lynch mob. Given the trial, I thought that was some choice language.

This all happened outside the presence of the jury, they may be hearing those words for the first time after rendering their verdict.

What do you think have been of that strategy she and do you think the social justice movements of last year to have triggered in part by Ahmaud Arbery`s death. Do you think they have actually touched a justice system, they have brought unconscious to juries?

FLEMING: I don`t know that it has gone that far, I think it has raised the awareness of the issues but again, those are just examples of the racial undertones possibly the thoughts of the defendants were then carried on by their defense counsel. To be able to label or try to exclude only black pastors, when so many pastors were absolutely disgusted by these facts, that again is racial undertones.

Two strikes so many qualified African-Americans from the jury, again, the prosecutor started the trial, he even said there might have been intentional discrimination, but let the case proceed. All of these things are still evidence that there is systemic racism, that the system does not always work for African-Americans, and we need to get to the heart of it in order to be able to have a justice system that really works for everyone.

VELSHI: Glenn Keith Fleming, we appreciate your time. Glenn Keith Fleming is a former Georgia prosecutor, thank you for joining us tonight.

Joining us now is Derrick Johnson. He is the president and CEO of the NAACP.

Derrick, good to see you again this evening. Thank you again for joining us.

When Ahmaud Arbery was killed, the McMichaels and Roddie Bryan gave their story to the police, Greg McMichael, the father of the man who pulled the trigger, called the local prosecutor, allegedly advised him on what to do. Police take their statements. They admitted they hadn`t seen in commit any crimes, and allow them to go home.

The video had to be leaked. The video of the killer had to be leaked for there to become a system that looked like it wasn`t injustice today.

DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP PRESIDENT & CEO: It speaks to the need to take a deep look at reforming the system of the -- anytime you have someone who is elected, who then works with individuals who committed a crime, to cover up the crime, we have a problem.

And across the country, DA`s have so much discretion, it leaves one to wonder whether or not they are too cozy with law enforcement, or the communities they represent and not cozy enough with representing the law and justice. I commend the prosecution, the prosecutors in this case. They did an excellent job with helping the jury understand the facts, and the facts as what the jury really took into consideration in this case, and not the surrounding political environment and racial intolerance.

We have a problem with our prosecutions system. We have a problem with the lack of representation for indigenous defendants, and we need to look at our defense system in a way in which we can remove the start job areas based on race and create a system that is just for all citizens.

VELSHI: And in many cases, the support for these families of these people who are killed comes from attorneys, pastors, leaders in the back community, so group that was called out particularly by one of the defense attorneys, what do you make of that. The idea that he called him a lynch mob, he said his client was being lynched, in a case where Americans have an understanding and fear of lynching was believed in fact a lynching the killing of Ahmaud Arbery who got no trial, got no due process?

JOHNSON: The tool of race, it has been an effective tool. We unfortunately in many cases in front of juries, he was trying to use a tool of race to incite an outcome, because his client, they were guilty of murder. He had no defense.

So an absence of having a defense, he was trying to use the tool of race. Unfortunately, in this country, until we address race, it will continuously be used as a tool. Think about the law of the books. That was a slave law.

Until states, particularly southern states, do an audit of their laws, to purge white supremacist from their books who have always have these scenarios. I live in the state of Mississippi, I understand the tool of race and how it involves the South. What he was doing in that community was trying to use the tool of race. I wish there was a way he could be sanctioned for doing that, but unfortunately there is probably nothing to sanction under Georgia`s laws.

It is unfortunate that he would do that, but for African Americans, we are relieved that we had a decision in this case that was just and the families of Ahmaud Arbery can rest that their child, their child did not go unaccounted for. Those three individuals are not being held accountable. They have used to think about what they done.

VELSHI: The question you and I had after the convention of Derrick Chauvin, is in addition to there being, their deaths being accounted for, do these verdicts have any impact on the way others may act? Did Derrick Chauvin verdict have an impact on how police will act?

Will the change in the citizen`s arrest laws change the verdict, cause people to think again before they take the life of a black person in this country?

JOHNSON: There is a step in the right direction although a baby step. We need to reform our justice system, we need police reform, we need more accountable Das. There is much more work to do.

But for many individuals across the country if it had been different, it would have created or given license for vigilante justice -- unfortunately this judge, this jury haunted that floodgate of individuals thinking they had the right to commit vigilante justice and violence in hard individuals who have committed no crimes, and they would be held accountable.

So I`m glad this decision is there. It is a baby step, and we have to do more to reform in law state by state and federal.

VELSHI: And federally, these men have been charged with federal offenses as the police officers in Minnesota have. There are both sets of men that will be facing new federal trials that hold completely different sanctions with them.

Is that the role that you want the federal government to have? We have seen an increase role under this attorney general with these things that look to the outside like they might be racially motivated crimes.

JOHNSON: The NAACP, was formed more than -- it was in the backdrop of a lynching happening on average one today. And we recognize the local community, we`re participating in these lunches and wars were not being held accountable.

So we are advocating for the federal governments to go into local jurisdiction to investigate prosecutions, and convict those who are causing harm to distance. And so, yes, this is the proper role for the federal government to play. It is the role that the NAACP advocated for for our founding and it is, when my violence, when vigilante justice is held illegally, that we must have a system to hold people accountable. And not be persuaded by local politics or state partisanship.

VELSHI: Derrick, it`s good to see you again. Thank you for spending time with us this evening. Derrick Johnson is the president and CEO of the NAACP.

We have a lot more ahead tonight, including some welcome news this thanksgiving eve. We got a big show.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:26:54]

VELSHI: This was the front page of "The Kansas City Star" this morning. Kevin Strickland, a man wrongfully imprisoned by the state of Missouri for 42 years and four months finally free. But the subhead to the story is what`s crushing. Quote, exonerated man won`t get a dime from the state.

The story goes on to say that quote, unlike guilty prisoners, a parole officer will not help Strickland find counseling, housing, or work and unlike exonerees in some other states, he will not be eligible through a compensation package for social services, such as participating in the states health care program. And maybe most importantly, Missouri almost never compensates wrongfully imprisoned people for their time served. On the federal level, exonerees are given $50,000 for every year that they were wrongfully imprisoned.

Missouri`s neighbor, Kansas just passed along 2018 making the wrongfully convicted eligible to receive 65,000 for each year of wrongfully incarceration. And Mr. Strickland had been in prison on the Kansas side of the border, that law would make him eligible for more than $2.7 million.

But the state of Missouri isn`t giving him a thing. He is 62 years old. He is locked up since he was 18 years old. So what is he supposed to do?

Back in June, Mr. Strickland sat down with ABC for an interview and tried to answer that very question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: So what do you do? How do you start over your life at 62?

KEVIN STRICKLAND, FREED AFTER 42 YEARS IN PRISON: I kind of jokingly talk about that recently with a friend of mine. I guess I gave you a cardboard box and get up under the bridge somewhere.

REPORTER: Is that really? That`s how you`re going to start you feel?

STRICKLAND: I mean, what do I have? I mean, if they would tell me roll out now, they would take this chair -- I have to crawl out of the front door, I have nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Well, with no help from the state, the Midwest Innocence Project which work to help free Mr. Strickland has resorted to set up a GoFundMe page. So far, it has reached more than $450,000, which is fantastic. But Mr. Strickland shouldn`t have to rely on a GoFundMe page for this.

In the words of the "Kansas City Star" editorial board today, quote, Kevin Strickland got a measure of justice, but Missouri need to write him a check.

The Kansas City Star in the Midwest Innocence Project both deserve a lot of praise for the work that they have done to help prove Mr. Strickland`s innocence. But I fear that their work may not afraid him without the efforts of this person. Jackson County prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker, took the incredible step of not only reinvestigating the case that her office had made against Mr. Strickland for decades earlier. But publicly apologizing for those failures, once she discovered he was innocent.

She then advocated for the new Missouri state law that allowed a judge to revisit Mr. Strickland`s case eventually winning his freedom in court. This is the prosecutor. That doesn`t often happen.

Joining me now is Jackson County prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker.

Prosecutor Peters Baker, thank you so much for joining me. Congratulations on an effort that you have undertaken a lot with others for some time. Tell me what you`re thinking tonight.

JEAN PETERS BAKER, JACKSON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Many things, I am grateful. It`s that time to be grateful. And I am so grateful that we have proved through a bohemians battle, approve Mr. Strickland`s innocence. So that he is on the other side of prison walls tonight. So I`m grateful for that. I also some dismay in so many failures in our system.

VELSHI: Let`s talk about that. You actually work to fix one of them. This wasn`t just a case of a prosecutor looking at something their office had done decades earlier and trying to reverse it. But you actually argued for a law that allows judges to directly toss out a sentence. Tell me what -- how that compares to other places, also why that law, the change in Missouri law was so important to getting Mr. Strickland released?

BAKER: Before this all passed and it just passed in Missouri on August 28th of this year. Before that passed, a local prosecutor like myself had been in office for a while, I have a good idea of how to evaluate a homicide case. That is what I do for a living. But I had no ability to correct an old homicide case out of my own office, the county of ambition. So I was powerless before August the 28. So now we have this law that allows me to bring the claim, and prove it before a judge.

VELSHI: You did that. The governor has not pardon Mr. Strickland, and in fact the internees general challenge due in court. It seems weird.

Why is that happening? What`s behind that?

BAKER: I don`t know how to explain that. I`ll probably have to have years behind these to better understand why someone with the same duty that I have, the same oath that I have, the same prosecutorial obligations that I have, governed by the ABA. Both of us are as lawyers. But state lawyers we have all those same qualities but only one of us went forward to free Mr. Strickland as the evidence directed us to.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Yes, it was a rhetorical question because I don`t know how you would answer why someone else would come up in your court against you, to fight this, given that you had established Kevin Strickland, the lack of evidence to convict him. We talk to the beginning of the show about this GoFundMe page that had been setup. It`s actually up to $550,000 right now, which is great. It`s fantastic that people are chipping in and they heard a story and they believe that.

But what do you think should really happen in cases like this where somebody is wrongfully convicted?

BAKER: Though the state may be surprising to some pacifists, the statute that gave me this power on August 28th of this year, there are no funds to go along with it. Mr. Strickland`s 43 years of being falsely held for a crime he did not commit, he doesn`t receive a single red cent from. Not that could be rectified also by that same legislation that passed this law.

They could follow up with changing this so not just that small portion of exonerations from the DNA could receive a small amount of money that folks like Mr. Strickland should also be paid for this wrong that happened to him.

VELSHI: There`s -- the University of Michigan law school has a list of the longest know exonerated incarcerations in the United States. I believe this is Missouri`s longest. He hasn`t been added yet.

But his name is added to the scroll, if you go to their website, you can see the scroll. He will be in the top ten. It`s something.

I mean, we know about wrongful imprisonment. We know -- we continue to learn about people who are wrongfully imprisonment. We have people fight on their behalf. But this is something, when you think about 42 years,

I am always taking when I hear is, voice when I am talking. I would not have that patience around me if I were wrongfully imprisoned for 42 days, let alone 42 years.

BAKER: I have been fighting this case in quite a protracted battle since really the spring of this year. And I am fatigued. I am tired, I`m fatigued. And I am pretty angry about it.

And that has been my part of Mr. Strickland`s existence. So I can`t even fathom how he must feel and how he has managed to keep his spirit and his heart the way has presented himself to me as a really a gracious man.

VELSHI: Yeah, he had a bit of a smile in one of the pictures I saw today when he walked out. I was thinking that that was something, after 42 years.

Thank you for the work that you did on behalf of him and the work that you did with the work that others did with you to see him a free man now.

Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, thank you for your time tonight.

BAKER: Thank you.

VELSHI: Well, up here next, tonight, contrary to what the Beltway media may tell you, Democrats might actually have a few things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, I`ll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:40:06]

VELSHI: If you are a Democrat or someone who votes for Democrats, or just someone who dislike today`s pro-Trump conspiracy filled violence condoning Republican Party not to take over Congress next year, you may be having a hard time finding things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving at least as far as politics goes. It`s been a bruising few months for Democrats on the public perspiration front.

But it`s worth taking a moment to consider that some things may not be as dire for Democrats as they have seen.

For instance, this summer, the country got a string of dispiriting reports, job reports from the Labor Department, suggesting that the economic recovery was slowing down and hiring was not as robust as expected. Headlines used words like lackluster and disappointing, and giant step back.

But just a few days ago, we learned that things were not quite with the seemed. It turns out the government dramatically underestimated job growth the summer. And what`s the statisticians got a hold of all the data and went back and revised their initial estimates, they found that they had missed over 600,000 jobs that were added this summer. By the way, revisions to job numbers are a normal feature.

Now, unfortunately, for the White House you can`t get back those months of bad press. But the fact is we now know there was no summer hiring slump. We just measured it wrong.

And speaking of measurement mistakes, earlier this month, there were holes of outrage after congressional committee read the numbers on the Democrat big social spending plan and found that the legislation would give a big tax cuts to millionaires. Folks on the left were horrified. Republicans were giddy at the prospect of hammering the Democrats with the populist cudgel -- I mean, sure, Republicans have cut taxes for the wealthy way more under President Trump. But, hey, they were not going to get that. Back they were going to let that stand in the way of a good attack ad.

So, Democrats started fighting with each other about the tax cut. It seemed like yet another thing that might torpedo the whole bill. But guess what? It turns out that the congressional committee made a mistake. They have to issue a correction.

Their new corrected analysis shows that the Build Back Better package would raise taxes on millionaires by about three percentage point. And you may or may not think that that is good policy. But polls show that it`s very popular policy. And for Democrats, this corrected analysis removes or briefly looked like a looming political disaster. Now obviously not every hurdle in the Democrats, and hurdles, are feeding right now could be chalked up to an erroneous report.

Inflation in certain sectors, supply chain issues, high gas prices, they are real problems -- don`t let anyone tell you otherwise -- real problems that Americans are feeling in their pocketbooks right now. But in an address to the nation this week, President Biden stressed that there is light at the end of the tunnel on those issues too. The gas price spike is likely temporary. The Biden administration tried to hasten it done by releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve, and supply chains snags, and bottlenecks at U.S. ports are easing. They showed some of the holiday shopping season, hopefully less inflation in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Democrats and Congress have never sounded more confident that they will pass some version of the presidents Build Back Better legislation which they believe will add to the economic boost that they already expect from the big infrastructure bill that the president sign last week. And just today, we`ve got a big helping of good Thanksgiving eve economic news.

This week`s jobless claims, first time claims by people who are newly unemployed are the lowest that they have been not just since the pandemic started, they are the lowest they have been in the last 50 years. All of which means, as we head towards the end of the year, Democrats potentially have the ingredients to make an effective case for themselves as the party that Americans should want in charge of the government. But first, all of those things that President Biden says are going to have been have to actually happen.

Congress has to pass the social spending bill. The supply chain has to get back in working order. Gas prices and inflation have to come down.

And second, Democrats have to do the one thing that seemed to be doubled the more than anything else. Sell their accomplishments.

Joe Biden was vice president the last time a new Democratic administration came in, passed historic legislation through a Democratic Congress, and then lost the messaging war. Is history going to repeat itself?

Watch this space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:48:26]

VELSHI: About once a year, we get a visit from a car-size asteroid. Not impressive enough for a movie plot, but it makes it cool fireball as it enters the Earth`s atmosphere, burdens up before it reaches the surface of the earth.

About every few thousand years, we get hit by an asteroid the sides of a football field, and they can cause major damage.

So a group of scientists at NASA`s planetary defense coordination office keep track of as many those near earth objects. Today, they started the mission that could help us avoid a cataclysmic scenario. The mission is called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART.

Early this morning, they launched a spacecraft. That spacecraft is going to be on a ten month journey towards a binary asteroid, which is basically to asteroids which orbit a common center, 6 million miles away from earth where, luckily, they caused no danger to us. If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will smash into the smaller of the two asteroids at 15,000 miles per hour, giving it enough of a nudge to kick it off course and the change in speed.

Now, right before impact, the spacecraft will release a tiny satellite, there you go, that is going to take pictures of the collision and its face debris and send the pictures back to Earth.

The NASA scientists will also use telescopes to observe how much the impact changed the asteroid trajectory in space. The point here is to at this method, this diversion method to their strategy to keep asteroids out of earth`s orbit.

To quote NASA`s planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, the right time to deflect an asteroid is as far away from the Earth as we can.

[21:50:05]

All right. Who better to talk than Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society, also known as the science guy.

Bill, thanks to see. You will in an area of deep expertise for. You let`s talk about. This what is the aim here that we are going to deflect asteroids had ever earth so that they miss us?

BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY: Yes. So when I was a kid nobody had a good hypothesis of what happened to the ancient dinosaurs. But now we do. For the last 30 years or so, people realize it was almost certainly an asteroid impact that finished them off. And there have been several other enormous astronaut impacts here on Earth that would be catastrophic.

So, someday, in non-science fiction fashion, we are going to have to deflect one. So this didymos binary asteroid, didymos A and B, didymos and dimorphos if you`re into happy naming, is an asteroid where you have a wide center, like this double strawberry. And then you have another asteroid going around it like the blueberry.

So if you can hit the blueberry with a spacecraft, like the strawberry leaves, then you can slow the smaller asteroid down ever so slightly, ever so slightly. And then one an object is closer to the larger object, it will go run faster. That is why, for example mercury goes around the sun much faster than earth us. And we will be able to detect this tiny change in the period of the smaller asteroid. And this will prove, or disprove, the hypothesis that the so-called kinetic impact, energy impact could deflect an asteroid in the future and, dare I say, save the world.

VELSHI: Well you and I are of an era where we had some great science fiction shows and books. And in, those they would`ve just blasted any asteroid to threaten earth to smithereens. We apparently don`t have that technology?

NYE: No. And there`s a few problems with that. You would have to get a large, let`s say, nuclear weapon. On top of a rocket and cheated into space. All your allies and adversaries would have to trust you doing that, and then it would have to work. That the idea would be to get near enough to an asteroid, set off an explosion with the heat, volatilize are very vaporize or burn offs some of the asteroid, and that momentum of the pushed off stuff would push the asteroid. That may work.

But even simpler, and more straightforward, is just hitting the asteroid with something very small but going very, very fast. DART, Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is going about four miles a second, for miles a second.

VELSHI: Wow.

NYE: So it has a lot of momentum.

And so, we hit this asteroid, we are very hopeful that it will get it a notch. The composition of the asteroid is not exactly known. So there are so called XK asteroid. So, we`re hoping or we`re confident that when we hit it with this DART carft, it will hit and give it a push rather than go right through like a sieve full of gravel (ph) or something. So everybody, this is a very inexpensive test of what may one day be a planet-saving technology.

MADDOW: Yes. It`ll seem like a great value when it actually saves us from something. I don`t flow if it`s a first, Bill. It`s always good to see you about you this might be the first time on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW that we`ve had a live strawberry and a blueberry. I`ll check if that`s true.

Always good to see you, my friend. Bill Nye is the CEO of the Planetary Society. We appreciate your time tonight.

There is a lot to be thankful for this year but there`s one group of people that deserve extra attention this Thanksgiving eve. I`ll talk about them on the other side.

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[21:57:58]

VELSHI: Over the past few years journalists have increasingly been forced to question official police accounts. In June of 2020, three months after Breonna Taylor was killed, police in Louisville, Kentucky, released a nearly blank report omitting that she was shot eight times by police. The month before, when George Floyd was killed, Minneapolis police failed to initially report that Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd`s neck for more than eight minutes. And when Ahmaud Arbery was killed near Brunswick, Georgia last year, seasoned local journalist Larry Hobbs of the Brunswick news knew that he needed to push for information because the police weren`t sharing enough.

So instead of relying on official statements, Hobbs filed a public records request. As Hobbs told this show today, the less answers you give us, the more questions we ask. Accordingly, he started to ask police, quote, why a young man was shot dead in the middle of a sleepy neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon? Why an unarmed burglary suspect is shot dead in the middle of a public street and not, say, inside a burgled home?

Also, was there a conflict of interest since one of the suspects previously worked for the district attorney?

Well, his curiosity paid off. The public record request that Hobbs filed allowed him to obtain a police report containing the first preliminary answers as to how and why Arbery was killed. He published his findings on April 2nd, 2020. It was the first time America and perhaps Arbery`s family got a better picture of what happened.

Today, almost two years since Arbery`s killing, the three men implicated were found guilty of his murder. Hobbs` lead story tonight at the "Brunswick News": Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Hobbs told us he usually doesn`t post his stories on Facebook but today reacting to the verdict, he made an exception. He wrote: On so many occasions, the strange and exotic and beautiful place called the south that I love so much has come up wanting in times of reckoning. Today, November 24th, 2021, in a town called Brunswick on the Georgia coast was not such an occasion. Tomorrow I think I`ll go fishing.

While today`s verdict might feel like a measure of accountability, it`s also one that began with a local reporter`s work. So our message to you tonight is this. Support your local paper. As the home page of the "Brunswick News" notes tonight, quote, the world needs trustworthy reporting. But good journalism isn`t free. Amen.

That does it for us tonight. I wish you all a very, very happy Thanksgiving.

It`s time now for "THE LAST WORD" with my friend Jonathan Capehart filling in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Jonathan.