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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/2/21

Guests: Katie Benner, Brandt Williams


One Capitol police officer dead, another hospitalized after a car rams into a checkpoint. "The New York Times" is reporting that DOJ inquiry into Rep. Matt Gaetz is said to be focused on cash paid to women. Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, the senior most police officer on the Minneapolis Police Department, testified today at the trial of Derek Chauvin, and that testimony today described as devastating to the officer`s defense.



Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Mehdi, I hope that you have some sort of provision in your contract where you get like base pay but then you also get like over a certain number of hours, you get paid by the hour, because this week, you`ve done the work --

HASAN: Just sleep.


HASAN: Rachel, I just need to sleep. That`s all I need is sleep.

MADDOW: I give you my sleep coupons for the weekend, my friend, Mehdi. Fantastic job this week. I can`t wait to see your show this weekend.

HASAN: Thank you.


RICHARD LUI, MSNBC ANCHOR: All right, so seems we are having technical difficulties, we will get back to Rachel when we can solve that issue.

Very good evening to you and thank you, Mehdi. Again, Rachel Maddow will be with us very soon.

We are happy you are here with us tonight. We have a lot to cover tonight, reporter Katie Benner who along with her colleagues at "The New York Times" broke the bizarre Matt Getz story and she will share to us that story live tonight.

We`re also going to have a live report from Minneapolis tonight as what was described as a day of devastating testimony in the Derek Chauvin case. The former Minneapolis police officer who is on trial for killing George Floyd.

There`s a lot to get to tonight and it`s where we are going to start tonight is with the latest from NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams, who has been reporting today had that the burst of violence at the north entrance to the U.S. Capitol grounds today that left one U.S. Capitol police officer killed, another hospitalized with injuries and a suspect dead involved in all of that, ramming a car into those officers and into a metal barricade at their post, and the according to Capitol Hill, he left out of that with a knife.

One Capitol police officer has -- was announced that the officer was killed. And this man, William Evans known to his friends as Billy, Officer Evans was an 18-year veteran of the Capitol police force, we know he arrived on their elite first responders unit.

Now, he was the same -- that was the same unit, as you might remember that Officer Brian Sicknick served who died on the January 6th Capitol attack.

All right. Let`s go over Pete Williams who joins us now with the latest on the investigation and what`s known about the suspect.

Pete, thanks for making time tonight for you. What are the basic facts that we know of right now in terms of how the story has evolved?

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The law enforcement officials say tonight that the suspect was Noah Green, 25 years old, had been living for a time in the Norfolk, Virginia area, where he went to school and had recently moved to Indiana. Capitol police say he was not known to them. That he was not in their files for making any threats against Congress or members of Congress in the past.

His Facebook page says he was a follower of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam and court records show that he petitioned to change his name to Noah Zaeem Muhammad, but didn`t show up for a court hearing in Indiana. So the matter was dropped.

A biography on the website of the college where he played football in Virginia says he was born in West Virginia but grew up in Virginia, and on the Facebook page in the last posting of the last few weeks ago, he said that he recently lost his job. He wrote this, quote: These past few years have been tough, and these past few months have been tougher. And then he said: I have been tried with some of the biggest unimaginable tests in my life.

So, tonight, investigators are going through his social media, talking to his friends and family members, working to trace his movements in the hours and days that led up to the attack. And they are looking in to, I say, a growing number of clues that he was struggling with mental health issues. His social media posts suggest a growing paranoia, but police say tonight so far, Richard, there`s no sign that this was an act of terrorism.

LUI: Pete, do we know if both officers were struck by the suspect`s car that we were watching all afternoon?

WILLIAMS: No. That`s a very good again. The authorities have not been definitive about exactly what caused the officers` injuries including the officer who died. So, we don`t know if it was from being struck by the car.

It didn`t sound from the news conference from the police chief this afternoon that Noah Green was actually able to stab either of the officers with the knife that he brandished, but we`re not sure about that. We don`t know with all the gunfire whether he was struck by a round. We just don`t know what the cause of death was yet.

We are told the other officer is in stable condition.

But, you know, Richard, I think one thing that`s -- and I have heard it from several people in law enforcement today. It was for many years if people had sort of grievances and ill-formed thought about Washington, the place had that was the magnet for the attacks was the White House. There was all the reports about people trying to climb the White House fence and I think, now, there`s a growing concern in Washington that that the magnet is now the U.S. Capitol.

LUI: Pete, the discussion and the way authorities were talking about whether or not terrorism was related to this or not, do you know how they got to that outcome or that belief so early in the process?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think that was just, they didn`t find any obvious immediate signs of it. They got on to who he was pretty fast. They were able to trace the car registration. They had other ways of getting his identity and nothing turned up quickly.

And I think what did turn up quickly is this Facebook postings which suggest somebody who was struggling with mental health issues, no obvious connection to terrorism. Now, they will be looking at his travel, they`ll be further looking in to his social media, so, that was the initial take, and you he know, that is subject to change as they get further in the investigation.

They were speaking within, you know, two, two and a half hours after the attack.

LUI: Pete, what does that mean long-term for security there at the Capitol? Have you heard anything from authorities and your sources?

WILLIAMS: Well, it`s certainly re-opened that question, and, of course, it`s going to be up to Congress. It`s not going to be up to law enforcement. Members of Congress will make the decision.

Just as new security measures around the White House are ultimately the decision of the president, not the Secret Service. They can suggest, but as in the case of Congress, they will have be to the ones that decide.

I think there was a feeling on the Hill that after, with all the time since the January 6th riots, things were calming down and it wasn`t necessary to have fences and everything else. I will say one other thing about this, Richard, remember are, if man`s goal was to attack Congress, he failed. He was stopped by the security in place at the Capitol. Unfortunately, two Capitol police officers paid a heavy price. One the heaviest.

So, there have been other attacks on Congress before. Other people, we may remember Russell Westin, who was a profoundly mentally disturbed man, shot -- shot up the Capitol, got inside the Capitol and killed a police officer.

So, it`s -- this is happened before. But I think it`s obviously reopening the debate now about whether there needs to be more security around the Capitol.

LUI: All right. Pete Williams thank you for the latest on that and please hop back on with us as you learn more as the story develops. Thank you so much.

Now, I`m going to toss it to our colleague, Ali Velshi. Ali, it`s a team effort tonight. We have a bit of a technical difficulty with Rachel Maddow` camera, that happens and I hand it over to you, my friend.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: It takes a village, right?

LUI: That`s right.

VELSHI: If Rachel gets the camera worked out, it`s going to take a whole team of us to keep it going. Thank you, my friend. Good to see you as always. I`m going to see you on my show this weekend, Richard, thank you.

And for those of you at home, don`t worry, everything is okay with Rachel. She`s actually in position and ready to go at any moment. She is likely on take the show back. Just a technical problem with some power. They are working on it at the moment. Rachel is present and listening so, I promise not to mess things up.

Thanks for being with us this evening. We`ll, of course, keep you posted on the story developing at the United States Capitol, where unfortunately one Capitol police officer has lost their life, the fourth one since January 6th. Another officer is in the hospital right now.

Well, this country has had a terrible year for lots of reasons in 2020. But the men and women of the Capitol police have truly been through hell so far in 2021. It was gut wrenching today to see the chief of that police force have to struggle and contain her own emotion as she announced yet another Capitol police officer killed in the line of duty.

Today, of all days, a man named Daniel Rodriguez was in federal court in California after he was arrested this week for one of the most gruesome assaults on a police officer at the United States Capitol attack on January 6th. Now, we have a talked about this case on this show before, because of the unusual confluence in this case of some terrible violence. Online researchers pretty definitively identifying this guy and then what seemed to be a really delayed response in law enforcement at actually going and arresting him.

The Capitol attack happened of course the first week of January. You all remember that. January the 6th. We learned very soon after that attack that as part of the violence, the Trump mob unleashed against officers that day, someone in the crowd had repeatedly shocked or tased Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, repeatedly hit him point blank in the neck with an electro shock device under Officer Fanone was knocked unconscious. He was hospitalized and that attack caused him to have a heart attack.

By the end of January, after online anti-fascist activists and citizen investigators started to pick apart the footage from the attack to try to identify individuals who were leading the mob and committing the worst acts of violence. By the end of January, the FBI was receiving tips about Daniel Rodriguez. They knew about his identity and his role in the attack.

Now, it would only later emerge that there was actually clear identifiable video showing that Rodriguez appears to be the person who shocked Officer Fanone in the neck. This is the video. Under his helmet. And above his body armor, hitting his exposed skin on the side of his neck.

By late February, Jesselyn Cook and Ryan Reilly of "Huffington Post" had reported a profile on Rodriguez, linked to all of the online photos and videos showing him committing the attack. Reporting out his story of violence at other pro Trump events and rallies and then they ID`ed him affirmatively by his full name and hometown.

It would still be more than a month before the FBI would turn up to arrest this guy. They finally did it this week. Today, he was in court in California. The judge ordered him in custody until he awaits trial for among other things charges of assaulting Officer Fanone with that electro shock device.

The video clips of Rodriguez apparently jamming that shock device into the officer`s neck was shown in court by the prosecutor. So, yeah, he is going to stay in jail.

In terms of other news that we have been watching today -- today, we broke all previous records for the number of vaccines administered in a single day. The White House COVID response team said today alone, 4 million shots were administered, far higher than the previous record for a single day.

President Biden today announced we have also hit a record for the whole past week, 20 million shots administered over the past seven days, which means almost 10 percent of the entire adult U.S. population has received a vaccination shot in the past week. That is a phenomenal acceleration in the vaccine roll-out. After the bad news earlier this week about Johnson & Johnson screwing up a batch of vaccine at a new manufacturing plant they were trying to bring online in Maryland, the White House said that nevertheless, Johnson & Johnson hit its goal for the number of doses that they would have shipped by the end of March. They say that one company alone is on track to hit its target of 100 million doses shipped by the end of May.

Moderna also got approval today to start shipping vials that have 15 doses in them, instead of five or ten. That means they will have less need to fill and finish work for each dose, for each vial. That means Moderna`s production will be accelerated as well.

Pfizer this week announced good news about its efficacy against the so- called South African variant, which has been one of the strains of the various that epidemiologists had been most worried about. So, the vaccine news is strong and getting stronger, even as case numbers do keep rising. Case numbers will stop rising if we can get enough of the vaccination -- enough of the population vaccinated fast enough and if we can hold it together to stop infecting each other so quickly in these last few weeks before there are literally be enough vaccine doses for every single fricking person in the United States.

There`s more news, on voting rights today, really big news, actually. As Major League Baseball pulled the all-star game and their players draft from Atlanta, in direct response to Georgia Republicans radically rolling back voting rights in that state. A lot of reporting today about how civil rights groups have advocated for this kind of bold action to stand up for voting rights. Less reporting on the fact that the Major League Baseball players` association had been pressuring the league to make this move. Players have been at the front end of the thing the whole time.

Last night, we reported on a rush of corporations, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Dell Computers, Microsoft, the Coca- Cola Company, all of them coming out and criticizing the anti-voting bills and new laws in Republican controlled states.

Today, a group of CEOs for more than 100 major companies, including Uber, Target, Snapchat, PayPal, they all came out along the same lines. Quote: Every American should have a voice in our democracy, and voting should be safe and accessible. Americans must have equal freedom to vote, and elections must reflect the will of the voters.

Our elections are not improved when lawmakers impose barriers that result in longer lines at the polls or that reduce access to secure ballot drop boxes, end quote. I`m not sure that Republicans in state legislatures are used to being cross-wise with all the big business interests in their states. So, I`m not sure what this is going to do to Republican voting rights roll backs in all of these red states.

But all of this new outspokenness by the business world is certainly strapping booster rockets to the prospects for Senate bill one, SB-1. The federal bill that`s in the Senate right now to protect voting rights nationwide, if big businesses in numbers like this, with a willingness to shove a bit on had this issue, if they take on the For the People Act, SB- 1. And they commit, that it must pass the Senate, and it must become law, it`s a whole new ball game. It might be the whole new all-star game.

I mentioned earlier, we`re going to be speaking with Katie Benner from "The New York Times". This was a story in the beginning of week, I could not have conjured from the ether, even if I were trying to imagine grossest possible Congress story of 2021. It is now however been three days of rapid and increasingly blah developments in that bombshell story that Katie Benner and her colleagues at "The New York Times" first broke on Tuesday night.

The most flamboyant and bombastic pro-Trump Republican congressman in Washington, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, reportedly under federal, criminal investigation for alleged child sex trafficking.

As we reported last night, the local Republican elected official who`s case apparently led investigators to Congressman Gaetz. Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, he was hit just yesterday with a superseding federal indictment, bringing the number of federal felony charges he is now facing to 33. The most serious of those of course is the allegation that he was involved in sex trafficking of an underage girl.

The latest reporting on the Gaetz story is that NBC News was the first to report, it is the sex trafficking investigation into Joel Greenberg that led investigators to Congressman Gaetz. "The Times" further reports that the underage girl who was the basis for the child sex trafficking indictment against Greenberg is the same girl for whom Congressman Gaetz is now potentially facing similar charges.

There remains one part of this though that appears to be still development, and that appears to be part of how federal investigators got involved here in the first place. And that`s only now coming into focus when it comes to Congressman Gaetz.

In the indictment of the other guy, Joel Greenberg, prosecutors accuse him of making multiple fake IDs, fake driver licenses and ID cards at the tax collector`s office where he worked.

They accuse him explicitly of using the fake IDs to facilitate the child sex trafficking and prostitution of which he is accused. It`s not how clear the fake IDs, particularly IDs with his own picture on them were part of the alleged trafficking scheme, but "The Orlando Sentinel" was among the news organizations today to report that federal investigators got to Congressman Gaetz for his potential role in those same alleged crimes. After employees at the tax collector`s office saw surveillance footage of Joel Greenberg and Congressman Gaetz after hours at the tax collector`s office one weekend in April 2018 doing who knows what.

The office staff reportedly said that when they came in the office if next day, the alarm had not been reset. And multiple discarded drivers` licenses were strewn around the desk instead of to be shredded file where they had been left. Mr. Greenberg confronted by his employees bragged to them that yes, it had been him in the office overnight and that Congressman Matt Gaetz had been with him, the two of them doing Lord knows what with all those discarded IDs.

But federal prosecutors say fake IDs were part of the child sex trafficking scheme for which Greenberg is already charged and for which Gaetz is now under scrutiny. This is not going well for him, worse with each passing day.

Katie Benner is joining us next and we think Rachel is going to be back as well.


MADDOW: So, every once in a while, the squirrel runs by and like kicks out the extension chord and everything goes dark. That`s pretty much how American infrastructure works right now. As long as our squirrels are trained and disciplined and in good order, everything is fine.

But, you know, one unruly squirrel or on a Friday night bender and things go dark.

I am sorry for the technical difficulties that we have experienced here over the last 23 or so minutes. I want to say huge thanks to Richard Lui who was literally standing by to take over when my screen froze and the lights went out.

And thank from the bottom of my heart to my friend Ali Velshi, who is standing by because he`s doing the next hour here on MSNBC and has plenty of work to do right now and nevertheless stepped in until we got it back up and running. So, the NBC field operations team is the people you want on your team when things go wrong, and they are freaking phenomenal.

Thank you to you guys in studios for helping. Thank to Vassilios (ph) for helping me. Thank you to Joe and Sam and Corey (ph) and everybody else who helped to get it back together. I thank you.

Let`s see if we can make it to the end of the show without it happening again. I have bribed the squirrels now. So, we`ll see.

All right. It was Tuesday night this week that "New York Times" reporters Katie Benner and Michael Schmidt blew up what had otherwise been a kind of normal for now news cycle when they reported that the most pro-Trump Republican congressman of them all, flamboyant Florida congressman, Trump die hard, Matt Gaetz, was under federal criminal investigation for possible sex trafficking of an underage girl.

"The Times" reported that Congressman Gaetz showed up on the radar of law enforcement sort of unexpectedly as part of an escalating federal investigation into this local Florida Republican official. He`s dressed like a cop here, wearing his badge around his neck and wearing his gun on his hip. He is actually the tax collector for Seminole County in Florida. But he liked to wear his badge like that.

He, at one point, apparently pulled over a woman for speeding, even though that`s not his job. He is not a cop. He is the tax collector.

But the lurid backstory on Joel Greenberg, the Florida County role-playing tax collector started sort of small in the local press and has gotten bigger as the charges against him have mushroomed. With an initial indictment last summer that led to his resignation from local office and then three superseding federal indictments since, including one this week, Mr. Greenberg now faces trial in June on 33 federal criminal counts including child sex trafficking.

And that almost unbelievably story of one Republican official in Florida has been well mined and well told by "The Orlando Sentinel" newspaper, in particular, and by local TV stations in the area. But "The New York Times" on Tuesday night breaking the news of Congressman Gaetz`s involvement and potential legal jeopardy in the worst crimes that Greenberg is charged with, that was a whole other thing.

And since "The Times" broke that story, engendering furious denials from Congressman Gaetz, other new outlets, including CNN, and NBC News, and ABC News and "The Daily Beast" have added further reporting, more texture to the main storyline. ABC News, for example, was first to report that Matt Gaetz`s communication director in Congress resigned amid the cascading scandal.

But last night, despite all the other news organizations that are working on this. Last night, it was "The New York Times" that again blew the doors off this story, with sort of a monumental gross-out advance. "The Times" reported late last night that it was not just that one alleged relationship with the teenage girl that federal investigators were looking at in terms of the congressman. Rather, they were looking at Congressman Gaetz`s alleged involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.

According to "The Times", Joel Greenberg, the tax collector guy, met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for money and gifts, which isn`t exactly prostitution if you kind of do it exactly right. But he then introduced the women, reportedly, to Congressman Gaetz who also had sex with these women, who had entered into a sort of remunerative relationship for this.

"The Times" says it reviewed receipts from mobile payment apps that showed payments from Gaetz and Greenberg to at least two women, and those women told their friends that the payments were for having sex with those two men. In addition to Congressman Gaetz and Joel Greenberg, "The Times" also had this detail that one of the women also had sex with a, quote, unidentified associate of theirs, meaning an unidentified associate of Congressman Gaetz and Joel Greenberg in Florida Republican politics.

Now, we should note that Congressman Gaetz hasn`t been charged with any crimes. He firmly denies that he paid for sex or had any relationship with underage girls. But the story keeps developing in ways that are more and more uncomfortable to talk about, but now, we are in the middle of it, aren`t we?

Joining us now is Katie Benner, "New York Times" reporter who covers the Justice Department.

Katie, thank you so much for joining us tonight and thank you for sort of riding out those technical difficulties with us. I appreciate it.

KATIE BENNER, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No worries at all. Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: So, let me first just ask you, if I am explaining this story correctly and if you feel like generally, the way this story is being discussed nationally, comports with what you have been able to report? Are there elements of this that are being broadly misconstrued or do you think people broadly understand the parameters of what investigators are looking at here?

BENNER: Yeah, I think that people do broadly understand the parameters. What began with the investigation, to your point, to a very local Florida politician has mushroomed and it ensnared Congressman Gaetz.

One of the things that is emerging from our reporting is the relationship between the two men. It has become clearer and clearer that it`s Joel Greenberg who makes the initial overtures to women. It`s Joel Greenberg who`s primarily sending the messages that we have seen that say, please meet here at this hotel, there`s a thousand dollars for you if you come.

You know, those are the sorts of things that Joel Greenberg is doing. It`s his name on many of the receipts. It really looks like he is the person that is responsible. Whether or not he is the person in charge is the open question, because then he quickly hands everybody off to Congressman Gaetz where they engage in sexual relations.

So, that`s one thing that is emerging. His relationship between Greenberg and Gaetz, and that`s important because we are seeing the government put pressure on Greenberg as we speak ratcheting up the charges that he is indicted on the child sex trafficking charges. That is a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence. There`s no way out of that, and (INAUDIBLE) the judges on other charges.

He is really facing some very, very severe penalties, and they are clearly trying to pressure him in order to get him to give them more information on other people that they would like more information about, possibly including Congressman Gaetz.

MADDOW: Is there any indication at this point, Katie, that Mr. Greenberg is cooperating with prosecutors?

BENNER: We have not seen any indication of that. He is remained defiant. He has pled not guilty. So, we really don`t know what`s going to happen. But we also know that he investigators are aware of other men involved in these sexual relationships.

You know, we have spoken with people who talk about some of the interviews that some of these women may have given, where they have talked about people they have had sex with that were neither Gaetz nor Mr. Greenberg but who are associates of theirs. And he say they slept with them because they are asked to. So, that`s another element that we are looking at possibly a wider ring of men just beyond Gaetz and Greenberg.

MADDOW: And there was, the phrasing around that part of the story seemed quite specific. At least one additional man described in conjunction with the allegations is another man involved in Florida Republican politics. Is that the -- is that the sort of, the way this seems to be going that it may be all people who have sort of political connections to one another?

BENNER: For now, what we have seen is that from -- for now what we are hearing and reporting, is that it is men involved in Florida politics, you know, possibly donors. We have not seen it go beyond Florida for now.

MADDOW: Katie, can I also just ask you, and this is something that, I feel like I`m, if I were a lawyer I would understand it better. Maybe specifically in conjunction with this case, you can explain it in a way that makes me understand it and our viewers.

What is the difference here in terms of prostitution, verses sex trafficking? And in terms of the allegations here, and what Congressman Gaetz is being investigated for, are some of these things, things that would potentially be legal if the woman involved was of age but they would be illegal if it was a girl involved under the age of 18?

BENNER: So, we`ll start with prostitution. That is a state crime. It`s not a federal crime. So, to the extent that investigators can prove that the women had sex with these men, and cash payments they received were in exchange directly for that sex, that`s a state crime if you prosecute in the state of Florida, and Florida does have very strong laws around this. So, that`s not something that federal prosecutors would necessarily be interested in per say, except when you start looking at sex trafficking of an adult. Not sex trafficking of a minor. It`s when an adult has sex that is coerced somehow into it.

And one of the other things we found in our reporting is that there`s a lot of drug use involved in these encounters. So, investigators will start looking and saying, is it a form of coercion. You know, we seen cases where people are given drugs because they are addicts and they are asked to have sex and they say yes because they really need the drugs. So, that`s been considered coercion in some cases in the past.

So, that`s when investigators will start saying, OK, well, if there was something that we would think of as prostitution, was there a coercive element? Were these women being passed around between the men? Was it completely, you know, with their consent? What else is going on? You want to look at a lot of elements, these are crimes that can be difficult to prove.

Now, sex trafficking of a minor is a little bit different. You don`t need coercion. There is a hard stop on the age. It`s simply somebody under the age of 18 who has given literally anything of value. It could be a hotel room, it could be a meal, it could be a beer.

The reason why this law is written so broadly is because one of the few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on is that sex trafficking of children is abhorrent. And so, that`s also why this law comes with a strict mandatory minimum sentence. It does not matter whether or not the person knew that the minor is a minor. It is a real serious charge.

So when you look at the elements of the investigation right now, it is the minor that is the most serious element.

MADDOW: Katie Benner, who covers the Justice Department for "The New York Times" and I now feel like I understand those distinctions that I did not previously understand. Thank you for the clarity and for your reporting on the story. Thanks for helping us understand.

All right. We`ve got much more ahead for tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Today was day five in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin who stands accused of murdering George Floyd. Heading in to this week, we knew it was going to be a trial under scrutiny, with the whole country watching.

I don`t think that anybody expected that just one week in we would have seen the gut wrenching, emotional, and often surprising testimony that the prosecution has put on every day this week.

The opening arguments on Monday. By Tuesday, prosecutors had started calling to the stand one by one each of the people who watched George Floyd die on that memorial day evening last year. Some of the witnesses were so young at the time they witnessed the alleged crime that the courtroom didn`t allow their faces to be shown on camera.

One of the young witnesses was Darnella Frazier, who recorded the cell phone video of Mr. Floyd`s death that was ultimately seen worldwide.


DARNELLA FRAZIER, WITNESS: When I look at George Floyd, I look at, I look at my dad. I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all black. I have a black father, I have a black brother. I have black friends.

And I look at that, and I look at how that could have been one of them. It`s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more. And not physically interacting and not saving his life.


MADDOW: Stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not saving his life.

Darnella Frazier would end up being one of several young people that testified about living with guilty after Mr. Floyd`s death, despite them not being in any way responsible for it.

On day three of the trial, it was Christopher Martin, the 19-year-old store clerk who accepted an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill from Mr. Floyd that day, and then reported it to his boss so it would not be taken out of his paycheck. That incident was what led to the police being called to the scene that day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw you standing there with your hands on your head for a while, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was going through your mind during that time period?

MARTIN: Disbelief, and guilt.


MARTIN: I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.


MADDOW: If I would have just not taken the bill this would have been avoided.

By day four of the trial, yesterday, the prosecution had called to the stand George Floyd`s girlfriend at the time of his death. The first witness in the trial that had known Mr. Floyd before he died, she explained how she met him in 2017, when he saw her crying in the lobby of a homeless shelter where he was working as a security guard.


COURTENEY BATYA ROSS, GEORGE FLOYD`S GIRLFRIEND: Floyd has a great, deep southern voice, raspy, and he is like, sis, you okay, sis? And I wasn`t okay. I said, no, I`m just waiting for my son`s father. And he said -- sorry. He said, he said, well, can I pray with you?


MADDOW: When the prosecution announced its witnesses for today, it was sort of expected that it would be a less dramatic day in court, in part because the two witnesses put on the stand today were both police officers, former colleagues of Derek Chauvin, which is why I think it caught everyone`s attention when Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, who is literally the highest ranking officer on the entire Minneapolis police force. He told that jury today that Officer Derek Chauvin`s actions were against department policy, what he did is not what officers are trained to do, and he called the use of force against George Floyd, quote, totally unnecessary.

Again, this is the most senior police officer in the Minneapolis police department. His testimony was described by "The New York Times" today as devastating for Officer Derek Chauvin`s defense.



MATTHEW FRANK, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Have you ever in all of the years you have been working for the Minneapolis Police Department been trained to kneel on the neck of someone who is handcuffed behind their back in the prone position?


FRANK: Is that, if that were done, would that be considered force?

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.

FRANK: What level of force might that be?

ZIMMERMAN: That would be the top tier, the deadly force.


ZIMMERMAN: Because of the fact that, if your knee is on a person`s neck, that can kill them.

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

ZIMMERMAN: Totally unnecessary.

FRANK: What do you mean?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, first of all, pulling him down to the ground, face down, and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger if that`s what they felt. And that`s what they would have to have felt to be able to use that kind of force.


MADDOW: Again, that is the senior police officer on the Minneapolis police force. That testimony today described as devastating to the officer`s defense. According to the pool reporter in the courtroom during that part of the Lt. Zimmerman`s testimony, almost all of the jurors could be seen furiously taking notes.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.



FRANK: If you as an officer, according to the training, you handcuff someone behind the back. What`s your responsibility with regard to that person from that moment on?

ZIMMERMAN: That person is yours. He is your responsibility. His safety is your responsibility. His well-being and -- is your responsibility.


MADDOW: That`s Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman. He`s the senior most police officer on the Minneapolis -- in the Minneapolis Police Department, testifying today at the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Brandt Williams is a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio. He has been covering the trial. We checked with him several times about this case since it first unfolded.

Mr. Williams, thanks for being with us tonight. It`s nice to see you.


MADDOW: So I feel like as a layman, watching this, just like a lot of people are watching this, I was surprised over the course of the week at the powerful and at times very emotional nature of the testimony. Today was a shorter day of testimony. One that I didn`t expect to be as affecting, but hearing from these police officers, particularly Lieutenant Zimmerman today, it felt like a sledgehammer for the prosecution today.

I have to ask you how you saw it in context and how effective you think these witnesses have been.

WILLIAMS: Well, I`ll tell you, I wasn`t necessarily surprised by Zimmerman`s testimony. I`ve covered Lieutenant Zimmerman for many years. I`ve interviewed him for a couple of different stories and seen him kind of how he interacts with the public.

And here`s an example. In 2014, there was a well-known black activist who was basically accused, accused officers of beating him up while serving a search warrant at his house. There was a public event in which community leaders came out to show their support for this community leader and Zimmerman was there, the only member of the police department to show up. And he basically said, hey, I`m sorry this happened to you, I hope you get justice.

So, Zimmerman has got a reputation as a lieutenant in homicide since 1995, he relies on having that kind of connection with community members. And so I`ve seen him kind of hold that position throughout the community. So that part of his, the testimony, I was not surprised but as you said I think it was effective for the prosecution.

MADDOW: And the jury looking at the scope of what`s been offered here by the prosecution, obviously, they`re going to hear a powerful case from the defense team as well, I`m sure. But in terms of the -- what we know about jurors` reactions to what they`ve been seeing, we`ve got pool reporters, we can`t all be there in the courtroom because of COVID restrictions, but what we hear from reporters about jurors taking copious notes, jurors seeming to be emotionally affected by some of the testimony, as the prosecution is going to yield to the defense, does it feel like they`ve sort of hit their marks, the things that they needed to get the jury to believe?

WILLIAMS: Well, it would appear so. Now, there was, some of the other footage that we saw this week of course was that in-store footage from Cup Foods, watching George Floyd walking around, you know, just maybe an hour or so before he would no longer be with us. And the pool reporter that day noticed how the jurors were paying attention and looking at George Floyd making these movements.

I mean, you could see him kind of wiggling about and as the clerk said, it appeared that he was high but was a friendly person and was pleasant to talk to. So I think it`s those types of moments that had an impact on jurors, they seem to be paying attention to seeing George Floyd as a living person, before obviously what we saw in those videos of him taking his last breaths.

MADDOW: Brandt Williams, reporter from Minnesota Public Radio, we know that the trial continues, it has actually really transfixed the country in a lot of ways but it`s really helpful to have your reporting and your context.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

WILLIAMS: Good to be here.

MADDOW: All right, we`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Hey, here`s something that you might want to watch this weekend on Sunday night, and it is a serious thing, but I think it`s important, and I`m really, really glad that we`re airing it here on MSNBC.

Kate Snow is a reporter you probably know, you recognize her. She`s a really good reporter and correspondent at NBC News. And Kate Snow for the past more than two years has been digging and digging and digging on a story that would not have a home at every news organization. But it has one here.

She`s going to break this here on MSNBC Sunday night. It`s a story, a disturbing story about a big for-profit company that runs group youth homes across the country. This is mostly homes for kids who are wards of the state, kids from foster care, or from the juvenile justice system, kids who definitely have nowhere else to go.

And what Kate has been able to report out about this big for-profit company running tons of these facilities around the country, it`s disturbing, and it is astonishing, and she has really gotten to the bottom of it.

Here`s a little piece of her report that`s going to air here on MSNBC on Sunday night.


KATE SNOW, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: After he throws the bread, two Sequel (ph) staffers approach Cornelius. There is no audio but you can see they`re talking. But when Cornelius throws another piece of food, they shove him to the ground, two men become three and six adults on top of him holding Cornelius down.

STATE REP. SARA GELSER (D), OREGON: That is a violent response, what the staff did, how long they held him down is shocking to people when they watch it. But it was not shocking to anybody that was in that lunchroom.

SNOW: For more than ten minutes, staffers strained Cornelius.

GELSER: If you watched the entire video, kids move tables out of the way. They keep eating their lunch. Staff come in, they fill their trays, they clear their trays.

SNOW: Staff try to sit Cornelius up but he`s now limp. They surround him, 12 minutes tick by before anyone calls 911?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a student and he was in a restraint and he`s unresponsive.

SNOW: Twelve minutes go by before the nurse finally calls 911 and you see people just walking around his lifeless body.

WILL WHITE, FORMER COUNSELOR TO CORNELIUS FREDERICK: He could have been saved, you know, if somebody would have had the moral compass to say that`s enough.

SNOW: Two days later, Cornelius died at the hospital. His death deemed a homicide. Three employees fired by Sequel are charged with manslaughter, each one pleading not guilty.


MADDOW: The company that operates these homes, Sequel Youth and Family Services, gave us this statement in response to Kate`s reporting on that death. Quote, the actions shown in the video were in clear violation of policies and training on the appropriate use of emergency safety interventions. Staff were swiftly terminated for their participation in the restraint.

Kate snow`s reporting on this, as I said, has been going on for more than two years. It is part of a special that you should absolutely see. It is hard, particularly in light of the George Floyd trial that has transfixed the country for this past week, and will into next week, I think it is absolutely critical.

The special is called "Children That Pay", it`s going to air this Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, on MSNBC. It`s well worth your time.

All right, that`s going to do it for us tonight. Thank you again for bearing with us through our technical difficulties at the start of the hour, when we see you again on Monday when everything will run perfectly.

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD". Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight.

Ali Velshi, my knight in shining armor -- good evening, Ali.