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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  April 27, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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that's going to do it for me for now, heads up for tomorrow for the big biden's speech that we are not supposed to call it the state of the union. it starts tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. eastern, i will be here tomorrow night an hour early than i usually am to be apart of that special coverage. now it is time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnel. >> rachel, i will see you tomorrow. i will be joining that discussion. we have jim clyburn is joining us tonight to discuss what he expects to hear in that speech tomorrow. we have so much to do at this
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hour that congressman clyburn will have the last word at this hour. we have the lead prosecutors from the derek chauvin's murder trial joining us starting off tonight and this is when i get nervous because i am in awe of these lawyers and the masterful jobs they did in court. i have been looking forward to this since everyday i have been watching in court. >> my news meeting with my staff and talking to everybody in the building, everybody is excited that you got these lawyers. i have not heard these prosecutors speaking outside other than the immediate after math of that historic case. i am in awe that you got them. >> we are lucky to have them. >> thank you, rachel. >> thank you, lawrence, good luck. well, i grew up in courtrooms, courtrooms and baseball fields i guess. i have been to more trials than i can remember.
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my father became a lawyer when i was a baby. he went to night school for college while he was working full-time as a boston police officer, it was after years of sitting on the witness stand as a police officer and thinking that he could do a better job than the lawyers who were questioning him that he decided to become a lawyer. lawyering would not have looked so easy for him from that witness stand if he had been questioned by our first two guests tonight, the lead prosecutors in the trial of derek chauvin for the murder of george floyd. my father would have known he was saying the very best trial lawyers at work. my father took his kids to work decades before it became a thing, i was still in elementary school when i watched my father argued his first case of the united states supreme court in which he convinced the court to over turn the bank robbery conviction of two black men based on the faulty
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identification of those defendants. i wrote a book in 1983 about the most important thing my father ever did as a lawyer. the book is called "deadly force" and it tells a story of a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit that he won against the court against two boston police officers who shot an unarmed 25-years-old in the back of the head. my father was 57 years old when he won that case and he knew then that was the most important thing that he ever did in his life as a lawyer. he knew then that in 20 more years in courtrooms, he would not do anything that important. sometimes you know when you are standing on the top of that mountain, that you began climbing in high school when you were doing your homework and college when you were preparing to take the lsats and all those jury nights and law school when
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you are trying to drill those maddening legal phrases into your head only to be followed after graduating from law school by the agony of studying for the bar exam that you must passed to be licensed as a lawyer. sometimes you know, you know it was all for this. it was all for this trial and that's what it looked like to me when i watched our first guest tonight, jerry blackwell and steve schiescher, it looked like they knew they did the most important thing they have ever done and probably would ever do as lawyers. when you spend a lot of times in courtrooms, you can get the feeling that you have seen it all. most lawyers are not very good, the truth is. the great lawyers are very, very rare. my father was the greatest trial
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lawyer i have ever seen and i have only seen a handful of others who i would describe as great. i am saying all of this and i am sharing all of this personal perspective with you tonight only because i want you to understand and i hope you will share the awe that i feel for our first guest tonight. jerry blackwell and steve schleischer. i have never seen a prosecution case presented so flawlessly in the courtroom. and none of that happened to the prosecution in this case. >> they conducted the most
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masterful prosecution i have ever seen. they did it with the whole world watching. jerry blackwell was the first lawyer to speak in the trial delivering the prosecution's opening statement. >> you will learn that on may 25th, 2020, mr. derek chauvin betrayed his badge. when used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of mr. george floyd. that he put his knee on his back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath, no, ladies and gentlemen, until the very life were squeezed out of him. you will learn that he was well aware that mr. floyd was unarmed and mr. floyd have not threatened anyone and mr. floyd
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was in handcuffs and he was completely in control of police and he was defenseless. you will learn what happened in that 9 minutes and 29 seconds. the most important numbers that you will hear in this trial, 9:29. what happened when mr. derek chauvin was applying excessive force to the body of mr. george floyd. >> after 21 days later, steve scheicher delivered his final argument to the jury. >> this case was exactly what you thought when you saw this video. you can believe your eyes. it is exactly what you believed. it is exactly what you saw with your eyes. it is exactly what you knew. it is what you felt in your gut. it is what you now know in your
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heart. this was not policing. this was murder. the defendant is guilty of all three counts. all of them. there is no excuse. thank you. >> the defense final's arguments came next and tried without evidence to blame george floyd's cause of death on george floyd's heart. jerry blackwell got the last word in the trial with his rebuttal of that defense argument. >> here is what i thought that was the largest departure from here in the evidence. you were told, for example, that mr. floyd died because his heart was too big. you heard that testimony. now having seen all the evidence and having heard all the
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evidence, you know the truth and the truth the matter is, that the reason george floyd is dead, is because mr. chauvin's heart was too small. >> joining us now, the lead prosecutors in the derek chauvin's trial, jerry blackwell and steve schleicher. thank you very much for joining us tonight. i want to begin with that time you spent which was the mosting agonizing time, waiting for the jury. you didn't have to wait long. did you believe as i did that they were coming back with a guilty? >> well, we were certainly cautiously optimistic that was the case. the jury had come back awfully quickly and seemed too quickly
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for them to debated a great deal. that we expected they favor the prosecution but we were prepared to have the biggest shock and the prosecution if the jury didn't, jurors can do anything. we were optimistic that was favorable for the prosecution. >> steve, you made that ask at the end of your argument for the guilty on all counts and one thing that i expected from this jury was there would be some questioning, when there is multiple counts, there is always some questions of how do we sort it out and what our menu options. that's why when they had no questions at all, it seems to me if they're going to come back that fast. they're going to come back with exactly what you asked for. >> lawrence, that's what we thought. i think we spent some time during the closing to really go through and explain to the
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jurors to teach them about the law. what the law required and what the law required for each element of each count and to really, you know, give them a guide book because when they're back in the deliberations room, that's all they have. they have their memory and notebooks and taken notes furiously the entire trial and they have jury instructions that the court gives them. so we thought it was important to go through and just make sure that they understood what would be required and not leave anything to chance. so we spent some time there. >> you always are guessing during the trial and it is always a guess of what's the most important moment and there were plenty of moments in the trial that we identified as being crucially important to the jury. it turns out we were right about one of them because one of the alternate jurors had spoken about this. let's listen to gabe gutierrez's interview with lisa christensen
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when she was asked who was the most important witness. let's listen to this. >> i said i was close to the witness stand and her words of apologizing to mr. floyd over and over that she could not sleep and she was sorry that she could not do more to save his life. that was impactful to me. it hurts me. >> that one was about darnella frazier. there was another one. let's take a look at that moment that she's talking about because jerry that's when you are questioning darnella frazier and she talks about how she feels and what regrets she has. let's listen to that. >> when i look at george floyd, i look at my dad. i look at my brother and my cousin and my uncle because they are all black.
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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 has been nights, i stayed up apologizing and apologizing to george floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. it is not what i should have done. it is what he should have done. >> jerry, that was one of those cases where we were not allowed to see the witness. that answer looked like it got to you. >> it certainly did. just because of the humanity of it. here was a teenager who
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encountered a stranger who was suffering. she didn't know him. all she knew was he was defenseless and subdued by the police and suffering and suffering needlessly and she had as human desire to try to intervene to stop the try to s see the guilt and remorse and the responsibility she felt after the fact is touching. it was a rebuttal to the argument that she and others were simply apart of an unruly crowd. there is nothing unruly about it. it was a very human crowd and as i described them as a bouquet of humanity. they were human beings for the most part who did not know each other and simply responding to a human call and in need for help. i thought it was a wonderful example of what it means to a
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neighbor and what it means to care and i wanted to have officer chauvin adopted that evening, mr. floyd would have been alive. >> dr. tobin, she talked specifically about the moment when the life of george floyd's went out of his body. that was a significant moment for her. >> it was a powerful moment. from a witness given his life to science and came forward in this case to be able to help, just the desire to help and use science and medicine to do so,
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and for someone as intelligent as dr. tobin is and to be able to communicate with the jury and teach them and explain things in a way when he was motioning and touching his neck, see all of them doing the same thing. it was, it was a powerful moment and describing the precise moment that life left george floyd. it was powerful. it was heartbreaking. >> there was another moment that jurors said stood up and that was one o f the defense witness claimed to be an expert in police tactic. talk about george floyd on the pavement resting comfortably, let's take a look at this. >> what part of this is not compliant? >> i see his arm position in the picture that's posted.
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>> right. >> a compliant person have both of their hand in their back resting comfortably. >> did you say resting comfortably in the pavement? >> yes. >> when he's attempting to breathe by shoving the shoulders into the pavement. so attempting to breathe while being uncompliant? >> no. >> no. >> jerry, i want to go to you on this one because steve won't brag about it i am sure. it is one of those moments where you don't know that word is, you don't know that phrase is coming and it comes. jerry, you watched steve jumped on it and handled it and it worked. the jury interviewed exactly the way it appeared to. >> no, absolutely. i thought it was the one
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exchange that was essentially the indictment. the symbolic indictment in terms of his credibility that displayed that level of frankly insensitivity. >> that was outrageous testimony. starting off with the premise that this was not a use of force. it was outrageous. understand that premise, this was not a use of force is kind of a technical -- it is a restraint hole not likely to produce pain. how can you look at what was happening and make those words come out of your mouth that this was not likely to produce pain. and so, just from the beginning from his direct examination, it certainly i thought was outrageous testimony and you know the explanation of his
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testimony uncrossed certainly did not get any better. >> let me squeeze in a commercial break here and please stay with us both of you. when we come back, i want to get your reaction to what minnesota's attorney general has said he thinks what the most important moment in the trial. we'll be right back with jerry blackwell and steve schleicher. not again! aah, come on rice. do your thing. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ i don't just play someone brainy on tv - i'm an actual neuroscientist. and i love the science behind neuriva plus. unlike ordinary memory supplements, neuriva plus fuels six key indicators of brain performance. more brain performance?
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keith ellison assembled the prosecution team in the trial of derek chauvin for the murder of george floyd. here is what keith ellison now said what the most important moment in the trial. >> do you need a minute?
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>> and the lead prosecutors in the case are back with us, jerry blackwell and steve schleicher. jerry, that's the kind of moment you can't prepare for. you prepare your witnesses and evidence and you lined up your exhibits but then something like that happened. what was your reaction? >> it grabs your heart to see and feel that. it was from mr. mcmillian. again, he's very important for conveying to the jurors that again this was not some unruly crowd and unruly mob that was interested in interfering with the police that you saw the kind of grief and the anguish felt
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over the sense of helplessness, they had so much respect that they did not intervene with those bystanders, they could have pushed mr. chauvin and the rest of them off. and no doubt in fear of themselves being harmed. a number of bystanders called the police. mr. mcmillian still torn up a year after the fact over not being able to do anything and saw this man dying one breath at a time. >> you both came from private practice as volunteers in this case, both of you working for nothing, not taking a paycheck for it. steve, you are a former prosecutor at the county state and federal level, what made you decide to leave your private practice to come and take on
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this burden and what did that burden feel like in the courtroom? >> well, people talk about receiving a call, i received a call quite literally from the attorney general, keith ellison, called me, i never spoken with him before. he asked me if i would help. i had two decades of prosecution experience. i tried quite a few murder cases and prosecuted police officers before. for me it was easy. the attorney general of your state called and asked for help, you say yes, you do that. we practice with a profession, it is a noble profession and it is a privilege. it is a privilege to practice law. it is a privilege to make a living in the practice of law and serving others. it is a joy to be able to practice with your friends and of course when he called and asked, i wanted to help. my firm allowed me to do so. they allowed pro bono
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opportunities and allowed attorneys to follow their heart. we have a special responsibility as attorneys. we have an excellent bar in minnesota, people who are committed to pro bono. i went to school, public schools i did not build and roads i didn't create and at some point you owe something back to the state that's been so good to you. i was privileged to help. >> jerry, why did you decide to join the case and what did it feel like when you were in the courtroom? did it feel like this is why you became a lawyer, this is where you needed to be? >> well, the question reversed. it did feel like this is why i became a lawyer and this was where i was supposed to be. i formed the idea of becoming a lawyer in the second grade,
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frankly because i like to read. it made my mother proud that i could read and she said "you should be a lawyer." and i could not let it go. this was the first criminal case i have been involved in. i primarily try cases for 1400 companies around the company. it was a moral moment. it was one of those moments where everything within you, every fiber resonated that this is a time to stand up and be counted and do what you can for the cause of good and right. i didn't know how it would affect my practice. i didn't give any thoughts for myself and i simply wanted to be involved and offer whatever story i had to bring about justice in this case. it was after i got a call from the attorney general and my after thought, what have i done?
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your first criminal case. but, at that point i was committed to it, win or lose or whether i am embarrassed or not was to be committed to the end. that's what i did. >> you made history doing it. are both of you going to be involved in the prosecution of the other officer that's going on in august? >> both in. >> jerry blackwell and steve schleicher, i can't thank you enough to join us. this was an honor for me. thank you. >> thank you, lawrence. >> thank you so much, have a good night. after this break, stay with us for every moment for the coverage of that trial. they'll join us next. coverage ol they'll join us next
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here is how jerry blackwell described to the witnesses on the sidewalk who watched derek chauvin murdered george floyd. >> they tried to interject and to get into good trouble just with their voices. something was concerning to them. when that did not work, you can see many of them pulled out their cameras. such that it would not be forgotten. >> joining our discussion now, criminal law professor and mark clackin. both joining us in everyday of
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the coverage of this trial. this same prosecution team will be going back in the courtroom on august 23rd in minneapolis to prosecute the other three officers in the case. what does that mean when you see the same team going back at it? >> it means quite frankly that you will see and i hate to do it in terms of sport analogy but round two. they put a master full case against derek chauvin. i tell my students you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be better than everyone else. they demonstrated they can be better than everyone else. they are well-prepared. we'll see them continue to succeed in this vein and let's
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not forget that this jury was swayed by the evidence. i would not be surprised. >> mark, we know part of what was so solid and powerful about this prosecution was driven by a sense of moral duties by these two lawyers who were doing fine out there from private and they did not need this work at all. >> they accepted the attorney general's invitation request to do it, they did it for no money and as jerry blackwell told us because it was a moral moment that he needed to stand up in. and also significant in your interview, they are genuinely humble people.
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they come across very humble. they come across very sincere and deliberate. their tone is tender and during the prosecution, when they asking questions was the same when they were answering questions to you. they each indicated at different points that they were personally infected and involved and they were personally offended of concerned by the conduct of derek chauvin. they were invested in the case and so was more than just a simple process. it was more than just going through the emotions and aside from tone and really explaining that they actually indicated that they had a personal investment in it. they had skin in the game and they seemed to be pleased of the level of investment they made to the case and committed to go all the way with it. >> kirk, i am so glad they were able to join us tonight.
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one thing we never got to do in our coverage was the night where we just praise this prosecution team and what a great job they did. as the case was moving so quickly, we were trying to evaluate each piece as it came through each day and suddenly we got a verdict. in that wave we never were able to take that pause and say wow. what you are seeing here is the best possible law school tutorial in trial practice. what stood out to me, one was the narrative telling a story but most importantly rebutting the defense's case before the defense have the opportunity to put it on and doing so so artfully without naming your adversary or pointing your adversary, the door was shut before the defense testified. that's something that's very difficult to train.
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i think many lawyers pick it up at some point but it goes to the heart of what you mentioned with regards to your father and many lawyers out there, preparations. nights on nights on end. you don't role the dice in the court of law. you walk into court and win. that's what they did. they were prepared and you win by understanding your adversary's case. it was masterful how they put it on. you can run a clinic by showing the progression of the case and how they presented their evidence. >> gentlemen, please stay with us, i want to squeeze in a commercial break. i want to consider another case. we have new developments in the police killing of andrew brown in north carolina. the family released an independent autopsy which shows andrew brown was shot in the back of the head. north carolina governor is calling for the special
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today lawyers of the family of andrew brown released the autopsy. lawyers from the family also released the autopsy report paid by for the brown's family which shown that andrew brown was hit by four bullets and the bullet in the back of his head was the cause of death. police approaching andrew brown's car as he was trying to drive out of his drive way. benjamin crump described it as military police force on andrew brown. mark, fbi is investigating. the governor says there should be a special prosecutor. >> i have serious concerns about this case and those concerns
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extend beyond my concerns of the integrity of the the sheriff department been handling this thus far. my concerns extend into the integrity of the investigation itself. it is important and it is a positive step that they decided to enter the investigation. my concern is what damages have already been done. there is a lot of information, a lot of evidence that you can't go back and regenerate. you can't reprocess that crime scene and gather any additional forensic evidence. you can't have the first interview with witnesses anymore. you can have follow-up interviews but you don't know the context of those interviews conducted. you don't even have a well-established outline or agreement as how the feds are
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involved in this case. will they be primary interviews and interrogations or merely observers? are they just collecting data for future activities? but, really it goes back to maintaining the integrity of the investigation and what damage could be done or could have been done in this period of time about this sheriff's department and that city government would jeopardize of whatever the culmination of the prosecution. >> that being said, the police department and the sheriff department and the city government lost the trust of public. i think it is very important that the justice department and the fbi step in and take over the investigation so they can restore some form of public confidence that they'll get to
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the truth. there is so much that we don't know. it is amazing that a family has to go out and obtain an autopsy before we can hear any of this information from the local authorities. i think it is a good move that the federal government is stepping in. i think it is quite possible. we'll see a civil rights prosecution. >> kirk and mark, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. always appreciate it. >> you are quite welcome. >> thank you. coming up, congressman james clyburn will get tonight's last word. that's next. that's next. ice t, stone cold calling on everyone to turn to cold washing with tide. ♪ this is a cold call! ♪ hello, my name is ice t.
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(text chime) do ya think they bought it? (text chime) (text chime) (sighs) (text chime) (chuckles) (text chime) it's the biggest week in television. watchathon week is your chance to finally watch shows you missed for free. now you get to talk about them with your friends, no matter what time it is. say "watchathon" into your voice remote and watch for free i can think of no one better suited, better prepared. i can think of no one with the
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integrity, no one more committed to the fundamental principles that make this country what it is, than my good friend, my late wife's great friend, joe biden. [ cheers and applause ] >> joe biden will be the fifth president to address a joint session of congress with congressman james clyburn in the room, but joe biden will be the first president who knows when he looks down from the podium and sees congressman clyburn, that he would not be standing there as president of the united states without jim clyburn's crucial support in the south carolina primary which took joe biden from losing presidential candidate to winning presidential candidate. joining us now is house majority
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whip, congressman jim clyburn of south carolina. thank you very much for joining us tonight. the night before joe biden's first address to a joint session of the congress as president. i know when you endorsed him, you publicly relied heavily on the advice of your late wife emily, and i have to wonder, what would emily think of these first 100 days of the biden presidency? >> she would be ecstatic. you know, joe biden made it very clear upon his election that he was going to be laserly focused on covid-19. as you know, my late wife battled for almost 30 years with diabetes, and she knows what it is to have to have assistance as well as prayers. and she would be very pleased.
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joe biden has gotten us into a much better place with this virus, and if we continue to follow the science, listen to the advice being offered by his administration, and if he continues on the path he is now following, we will be in a very good place by late summer and i think we're going to be re-open for school for our children in a very big way. >> presidents always try to send members of congress out of that room on a wave of enthusiasm for their legislative agenda. what do you hope democrats, at least, leave that room with the resolve to get done first? >> i think if we leave the room as we will enter the room, and that is with full faith and confidence in this president, i
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think we will leave the room on a high note, and i think we will go out and explain to the american people that we have got to reimagine a lot of things in this country, to include what infrastructure really is. i'm amazed at the number of people who seem to feel that infrastructure is what it always has been --. they forget that we did not have the railroad until abraham lincoln made it a big infrastructure item. we did not have to interstate highway until dwight eisenhower made it a big infrastructure item. and we are not going to have broadband without a big infrastructure program. and joe biden has made it very clear that when it comes to infrastructure, it's got to be beyond what it has traditionally been. it's got to be broadband,
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affordable housing school construction. how do you bring our children back into school if we have not done what needs to be done for the hvac systems? if we have not brought these schools up to par, which we have not done over so many years? so this infrastructure program is going to be beyond that which we have imagined for decades now, but it will be the kind of infrastructure that's needed to get infrastructure done, to get health care done, to get business done. i tell you, i think we're going to leave that room on what we might call a good foot. >> the census, which comes out every ten years always a big event in congress. it can change the future of some members of congress if their district gets eliminated. we see the way the count is now, the democrats will be
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disadvantaged, to put it mildly, to the extent of three possible seats that might automatically go to republicans, three additional because of redistricting, because of the census. what is the new strategy with this new census for your democratic majorly leadership you're a part of to preserve that majority in the house? >> we are going to connect with the american people the same way democrats did in georgia earlier this year in january, to be exact. no one ever thought six months, a year ago, that georgia would elect two democrats, one black, one jewish, to replace two republican senators, but they did. and i believe we are going to surprise a lot of people after redistricting. i know that people are looking at the way the shift is going, but people are going look at this president and the
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production that he is now masterminding, and we are going to get out and explain to the american people why this $1.5 trillion program that he is going to propose, the $1.9 trillion program that we already have in place -- why that is good for the country. and we are going to come up with new and better ways to pay for it. you aren't going pay for infrastructure by clipping coupons out of the sunday paper. we've got make investments in this, and we've got to imagine new ways of doing it. that's why this president is going to be proposing we restructure some of our tax codes so that the very wealthy will pay more and the people who helped to create the wealth will be rewarded with the service
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that money can pay for. >> we saw a new autopsy report today of a north carolina man shot by police multiple times, a fatal shot in the back of the head, black man. this comes after the verdict in the derek chauvin case. what has the continuation of these police incidents every week now done to the momentum for passing the police reform bill. >> i hope it's been helpful. i do know that karen bass is doing all she can to reconcile democratic differences with my fellow south carolinian who's leading the effort on the other side, tim scott. i do hope that they get us to a place where we can pass better legislation. but let me tell you something, lawrence -- that would be the beginning. when i talk about reimagining -- we've got reimagine how we em
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implement law enforcement in this country, and one of those things we've got to do is stop talking about training. they've got some of the best training that can be created by any mind. our problem is about recruiting. what kind of people that we are hiring in these positions. one need only look at the video from that police officer up there in virginia pointing his gun at a lieutenant in the united states armed services, who is pleading with him. and he ignores all of his pleas, and yelling at him like he's some animal. these kinds of people should not be on the police forces. that's our big problem, not training. it's recruiting. we got to recruit better people, and we got pay better salaries. you're not going to get good people for the kind of salaries that we pay these police officers. we've got to do better.
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>> congressman james clyburn, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. we always appreciate it. >> thank you very much for having me. programming note -- tomorrow night i will be joining our special coverage of president biden's first address to congress. msnbc's special coverage against tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. eastern with president biden expected to again his speech at 9:00 p.m. that is tonight's "last word" "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. >> well, good evening once again. day 98 of this biden administration, a president who, by the way, came into office hoping on our behalf that by july 4th it might feel a whole lot more like normal. a big step in that direction as the cdc released its guidance on masks for fully nated americans. health officials say the drop in


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