GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz in Brownsville, Texas.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Migrants at the Southern border find themselves stuck in limbo amid a shift in U.S. immigration policies.
GEOFF BENNETT: Debt ceiling and negotiations see progress on spending cuts, but a deal to avoid a national default remains elusive.
AMNA NAWAZ: And three years after the murder of George Floyd, Minneapolis' new police chief discusses the department's future and need for reform.
BRIAN O'HARA, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Police Chief: It is very clearly a systems problem, as opposed to trying to just scapegoat one or two persons here or there.
(BREAK) GEOFF BENNETT: Welcome to the "NewsHour."
Republicans and the White House are closer to an agreement on the debt ceiling.
But there's still no deal tonight as lawmakers get ready to leave Washington for the Memorial Day weekend.
We will have the latest on the negotiations in a moment, but to first changes in U.S. immigration policy.
Amna Nawaz is in Brownsville, Texas, at the U.S.-Mexico border, where she's been speaking with migrants trying to navigate the new rules for asylum seekers.
Amna, there are lots of questions about what the end of Title 42 means.
But what does it look like down at the border where you are tonight?
AMNA NAWAZ: Geoff, as you will remember, it's now been two weeks since Title 42 ended.
That was the pandemic era policy that allowed U.S. officials to immediately expel anyone arriving at the U.S. Southern border.
And in the weeks before that ended, we'd already seen a huge increase in the numbers of people arriving at the U.S. Southern border.
Everyone we talked to then, U.S. officials and immigration attorneys and nonprofits, they were all preparing for even bigger numbers, for a bigger surge after Title 42 ended.
It didn't happen.
The numbers actually went down.
And the big question was why.
Well, we found out why today.
When we crossed into Mexico and we spoke with people waiting on the Mexican side of the border, there is now a huge backup there, people from Venezuela and Honduras and Colombia and further afield, who say they are now going to wait because of the rule changes that U.S. officials have implemented.
They know now that the message the U.S. officials have been trying to get across for months now saying the border is not open, saying that if you try to enter without permission, you could be banned from entry, saying you can't enter without an appointment with a U.S. border official, they have heard that message loud and clear.
They tell us that they are going to wait.
That is why the numbers have gone down -- Geoff.
GEOFF BENNETT: So, what's that experience like for those migrants who are waiting?
Tell us about some of the people that you spoke with.
AMNA NAWAZ: No, waiting for them is tenuous and it is stressful.
And it's often dangerous as well.
We crossed into the town of Matamoros, which is on the other side of the border from Brownsville here.
And as soon as we crossed the bridge, we were greeted by a huge crowd of people who have basically been gathering at the foot of that bridge every single morning, trying to get answers to those questions.
There are some immigration groups.
There are some refugee groups there.
And, more importantly, there are some volunteer U.S. attorneys, immigration attorneys, who cross the bridge every day and try to get some of those migrants answers to their questions.
There's a lot of confusion about what exactly the rules are, in terms of who is allowed entry to the United States and, Geoff, most acutely, questions around this CBP One app.
That's an app created by the Customs and Border Protection in which migrants are asked to make an appointment to then appear and make their case for asylum.
Those appointments are highly coveted.
They are very limited.
And supply doesn't nearly meet demand.
We actually spoke to one gentleman named Carlos who's from Honduras.
He took out his phone in frustration to show me how many times he's been logging on to the app, submitting his application, trying to do things the legal way, and he has yet to get an appointment.
He's been doing this every single day for the last three months.
More -- the people we talk to here basically say the longer that migrants are forced to wait, the more vulnerable they become.
There are already rampant reports of extortion and kidnapping and sexual assault.
We spoke to one woman named Duglias (ph) from Venezuela.
She's here with her two teenage daughters.
She won't even take them to go sleep in the migrant camp nearby because she's so afraid that they will be assaulted.
So, Geoff, every night for the last month, they have been here.
They have been sleeping out in the open at the bus station.
And she has no idea when they will be allowed to make their case to U.S. officials -- Geoff.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Amna, I know that you and the team there visited one of the migrant encampments.
What were the conditions like?
AMNA NAWAZ: No, in a word, absolutely appalling.
They are unsanitary.
They are dangerous.
And all of this is unfolding just a few minutes away from the U.S. border.
We visited one of these camps where there's about 2,500 people or so that we're told, and this isn't even the biggest camp, sources told us, here in Matamoros.
These are sprawling, temporary tarp tent and blanket hut camps that have popped up and sources tell us really grown in size since Title 42 ended, because people are now deciding to stay here and wait, but there aren't resources to support them.
There's no sanitation.
There's no running water.
We saw that there -- sources tell us that there is rampant COVID and tuberculosis and dengue and waterborne illnesses.
That's why we were masking the entire time we were there as well, just dozens and dozens and dozens of families and children.
And I will tell you this is no place for children waiting, waiting for their chance, 90-degree heat every day, to try and make their case to U.S. officials.
And, right now, they don't know when that's going to be.
So, Geoff, we're seeing there's not a crisis that we expected at the U.S. border necessarily, but there's definitely one unfolding just a few hundred yards away -- Geoff.
GEOFF BENNETT: Amna Nawaz in Brownsville, Texas, tonight.
Amna, we look forward to more of your reporting on the broadcast tomorrow.
It's good to see you.
With the U.S. potentially just one week away from defaulting on its debts, members of Congress are leaving town for the Memorial Day break without a deal.
The White House and House Republicans are continuing to negotiate.
Lisa Desjardins brings us up to speed.
LISA DESJARDINS: In the halls of power, hopes for a finish line.
Top leaders were careful.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We have already talked to the White House today.
We will continue to work.
They're working on numbers.
We're working on numbers.
And we will work together.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Our staffs continue to meet as we speak, as a matter of fact, and they're making progress.
I have made clear time and again defaulting on our national debt is not an option.
LISA DESJARDINS: But word of a possible debt ceiling deal was ringing.
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): I think they're very close.
I think -- I think we all know there's going to have to be some give-and-take, and I think they're right.
They're very close to it.
LISA DESJARDINS: Key conservatives like Chip Roy of Texas didn't like talk of a longer debt ceiling increase without more concessions.
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Yes, my antenna is up that does not seem to me to meet what our expectations are in terms of transformative, substantive fiscal reforms necessary to raise the debt ceiling.
LISA DESJARDINS: On Twitter, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah threatened to hold up any bill without substantial reform, potentially jeopardizing default.
And progressives like New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman insisted the debt ceiling should be raised with no concessions.
REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): Very concerned.
I mean, again, we -- Republicans, McCarthy raised the debt limit three times under Trump.
Now, because a Democratic -- a Democrat is in the presidency, now he has an issue with that?
That's not governance.
LISA DESJARDINS: Dozens of Democrats took to the House floor hoping to tilt a deal left.
WOMAN: Extreme MAGA Republicans have needlessly manufactured an economic crisis.
MAN: Don't make Americans pay for Republican hypocrisy.
LISA DESJARDINS: But very few people are actually in the behind-closed-doors talks.
One of them, Republican Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, summed things up.
REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): Nothing's resolved.
And everyone wants to think you can lock up and bank something.
You can't bank anything until you actually have a complete deal.
GEOFF BENNETT: Lisa joins us now to break down the very latest on these talks.
Lisa, I keep hearing this word progress from the White House and from House Republicans.
When are we going to hear the word agreement, deal?
When is that going to happen?
LISA DESJARDINS: There's no deal until all of this comes together.
And we can report, my reporting, along with Laura Barron-Lopez's reporting in the last day, is that the talks have moved towards what Democrats are asking for, is a longer increase in the debt ceiling, maybe even two years.
But Republicans like Chip Roy, they want more concessions for that.
And that's one of the hangups now.
But, otherwise, they have gotten closer on spending cuts, very close on something called permitting reform, but very tangled up over work requirements for food stamps, SNAP benefits, they are called.
That is a real dividing line.
And that also includes some money that affects the bottom line here.
So that's what they're working on tonight, and also both sides trying to figure out if they have enough votes on either side to get through what is shaping up to be a possible deal, today, tomorrow, critical days.
GEOFF BENNETT: And Republicans have said all along they want concessions on spending cuts.
What exactly are they looking for?
LISA DESJARDINS: Earlier this week, we looked at the debt itself, which is one side of the coin here.
The other side, the concern for Democrats, is the spending cuts, I want to take people through what the Republicans are asking for specifically.
Let's look at spending now.
This is the last three years.
The last fiscal year is the one at the end.
That's the one we're in currently now, $1.6 trillion in discretionary funds that Congress controls.
That's the spending level.
Republicans want to cut that back to the level it was about a year-and-a-half ago in fiscal year '22.
That would be $130 billion in cuts.
It looks like such a tiny slice there.
But that's $130 billion.
And for Democrats, they see that as a much bigger deal.
GEOFF BENNETT: And most domestic spending is tied to the defense budget.
And I don't hear Republicans or Democrats talking about cutting the Pentagon budget.
So what's left?
LISA DESJARDINS: This is such a critical concept here.
Who gets cut if you have spending cuts?
Let's look at a different way of understanding these numbers.
Right now, all of that discretionary money, part is in defense, a little bit more for defense, than in nondefense.
This is the current year's budget.
What Republicans are saying is, they would protect all of that defense money and money for veterans.
That's hundreds of billions of dollars.
What would be the result if they -- to get that $130 billion cut?
They would have to cut everything else by a third.
So that is something that would have incredibly far-reaching repercussions for Americans across the board.
Let's talk about schools.
The White House says that that kind of cut if applied on average to school funding would mean 26 million students in schools across the country that are -- especially are low-income that would not have access to different grants and other help.
They would also affect housing vouchers for some 80,000 -- 800,000 Americans who use federal housing vouchers to help with their rent.
In addition, let's talk about programs for the elderly, Meals on Wheels.
That's a federally held program.
And that was face perhaps cuts of 30 percent.
In addition, let's talk about the U.S. Border Patrol, not just social programs, but the U.S. Border Patrol is not a defense agency.
They could see a cut of 30 percent at this time, when people like Amna are reporting on a surge and all the needs at the border.
How about rail inspections?
That's another example of something getting a lot of attention now.
There's a lot of concern about how safe our rails are.
And rail inspectors would also be a place that see a 30 percent cut.
In short, Geoff, everything in government could see that kind of cut.
Republicans argue, wait a minute, all of these agencies are overfunded.
They have been for years, Democrats say, no, we're talking about real lives, real people, real children, real senior citizens.
One note on that.
That kind of spending cut would not affect Social Security or Medicare, but it would affect government agencies, how you touch and see the government, national parks, those kinds of things.
GEOFF BENNETT: Yes.
And that's important to point out.
Can we talk about the calendar?
LISA DESJARDINS: Right.
GEOFF BENNETT: With members leaving for the Memorial Day break, that gives them, what, two days, maybe a day?
LISA DESJARDINS: Yes.
GEOFF BENNETT: I mean, you know all this stuff.
How much time do they have to do a deal to get back on Tuesday?
LISA DESJARDINS: This is the point where you have to suspend logic... GEOFF BENNETT: Yes.
LISA DESJARDINS: ... to be honest.
I think what's going to happen is, if we don't have a deal in the next two days, they will be forced to reckon with a short-term spending or a short-term debt lift.
And they may have to do that anyway.
That's why these next two days are critical.
If they can get a framework in the next two days, they have enough time to write the bill.
They have enough time to pass it in House, barely.
GEOFF BENNETT: Lisa Desjardins following it all for us, thanks so much.
Good to see you.
LISA DESJARDINS: You're welcome.
GEOFF BENNETT: In the day's other headlines: The founder of the far right Oath Keepers militia, Stewart Rhodes, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for seditious conspiracy.
That's the stiffest penalty yet in the January 6 investigation.
In court, Rhodes was defined as he referred to himself as a political prisoner.
Later, the judge sentenced another Oath Keepers leader to 12 years in prison.
The U.S. territory of Guam spent this day starting to clean up from a Category 4 typhoon.
Much of the Pacific Islands was still without electricity and water service.
Trees and power lines were left mangled.
Some Northern and Central parts of the island were inundated with more than two feet of rain, but there were no reported deaths or major injuries.
LOU LEON GUERRERO (D), Guam: I am so glad we are safe.
We have weathered the storm.
The worst has gone by.
But we are going to continue experiencing tropical storm winds up to about 40, 50 miles per hour.
So I asked you again to please stay home for your protection and your safety.
GEOFF BENNETT: The typhoon is expected to reach the Philippines late Friday and could threaten Taiwan next week.
The U.S. and South Korean militaries began live-fire exercises today to simulate an all-out attack from North Korea.
Missiles pounded a mountainside near the border between the two Koreas, while tanks maneuvered and fired.
The drills went ahead, despite the North's threat to retaliate.
Back in this country, new census data shows the American people are getting older faster, as Baby Boomers age and the birth rate falls.
From 2010 to 2020, the share of the population over age 65 grew by more than a third, the most in 130 years.
At the same time, the percentage of children under the age of 5 declined.
As a result, the nation's median age reached nearly 39, up from 37 a decade earlier.
And, on Wall Street, blue chips slipped, but tech stocks rally today.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 35 points to close it 32764.
The Nasdaq rose 214 points.
The S&P 500 was up nearly 1 percent.
And still to come on the "PBS NewsHour": President Biden nominates Air Force General C.Q.
Brown to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' presidential announcement highlights Twitter's transformation under Elon Musk; and the U.S. Supreme Court scales back the scope of the Clean Water Act.
A decorated Air Force general could soon be the next highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. As Stephanie Sy reports, the president's pick to replace General Mark Milley as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is both strategic and symbolic.
STEPHANIE SY: At the White House today, President Biden announced General Gen. Charles Q.
Brown Jr., known as C.Q., to lead the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: General Brown has become known for a signature approach, accelerate, change or lose, accelerate, change or lose.
General, you're right on.
STEPHANIE SY: If confirmed, Brown would become the president's senior military adviser.
GEN. CHARLES Q.
BROWN JR., Air Force Chief of Staff: When I'm flying, I put my helmet on, my visor down, my mask up.
You don't know who I am.
STEPHANIE SY: Commissioned in 1984, Brown piloted F-16 fighter jets, a persona played up in this Air Force recruiting ad.
GEN. CHARLES Q.
BROWN JR.: You just know I'm an American airman kicking your butt.
JOE BIDEN: And while General Brown is a proud, butt-kicking American airman, first and always, he's also been an operational leader of the joint force.
STEPHANIE SY: Brown rose through the ranks to become an instructor and commander of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.
He served as commander of the Pacific Air Forces and commander of Air Force assets in the Middle East.
Three years ago, the four-star general was confirmed as the Air Force chief of staff.
He's credited other Black men who paved the road before him, including the late Colin Powell, the first Black Joint Chiefs of Staff.
If confirmed, the two top positions at the Pentagon would both be held by African American leaders, a first.
Not by coincidence, President Biden made the announcement on the three-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, a moment that caused so many Black men to reflect on their own experiences.
GEN. CHARLES Q.
BROWN JR.: Here's what I'm thinking about.
STEPHANIE SY: At the time, General Brown weighed in with a deeply personal video.
GEN. CHARLES Q.
BROWN JR.: I'm thinking about the pressure I felt that to perform error-free, especially for supervisors I perceived had expected less from me as an African American.
I think about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers, and then being questioned by another military member, "Are you a pilot?"
STEPHANIE SY: It was a rare moment of candor in a buttoned-up military culture that has not been immune to the political divide.
For more on the General C.Q.
Brown's nomination, we turn to someone who knows him well.
Retired General Vincent Brooks' last assignment was as commander of U.S. forces in North Korea.
And he joins us now.
General, it's great to have you on the "NewsHour."
So you have worked with General Brown for years, from what I understand.
What's he like as a person?
What is he like as a commander?
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS (RET.
), U.S. Army: Well, Stephanie, it's first great to be with you.
And congratulations to General Brown on his nomination and to secretary of defense and the president for making a great choice.
General Brown is just a great individual.
He's a true professional.
He's liked and admired by his colleagues, his peers, and followed very well by his subordinates.
He's extremely experienced in different regions of the world, in combat action and in senior leadership in lots of places.
And he's been in the joint force for a long time.
So he's superbly qualified for this, a great guy.
STEPHANIE SY: How does having been in command in both the Pacific and the Middle East distinguish him from other top brass?
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: Well, not everyone gets that kind of experience.
If you're fortunate, you might get a chance to command in one region of the world.
General Brown has had the privilege of being able to command in multiple regions of the world.
He's stood face to face against North Korea.
As a more junior commander, he's led at senior levels in the Middle East against the Islamic State, standing off against Iran with deterrence, conducting operations throughout the Middle East in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, as you have mentioned, in the entire Indo-Pacific region, where he gained tremendous experience in relating to all of the air forces throughout each of those regions.
STEPHANIE SY: And I imagine, in those roles, he would have also played an important role communicating with our allies' militaries.
This seems particularly important as far as countering China's military.
Is that right?
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: That's certainly right.
The United States is a global leader.
It's globally engaged, and countries around the world turn to the United States for examples of professionalism, as well as skill in the military art.
And so his engagements with other air forces around the world and other senior defense leaders, not just air forces, will be very important to this role as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
STEPHANIE SY: When it comes to internal problems in the U.S. military, and there are many, including the reports of sexual assault -- in the Air Force, in particular, reporting of sexual assault rose significantly last year, when he was Air Force chief.
Is he doing enough to address this persistent problem?
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: Well, it is a persistent problem.
And it requires constant attention to it and work to try to drive that behavior away.
Teammates don't do that to one another.
And I know that he takes it very seriously and will continue to do so as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
But no one person can change that.
They can certainly create the tone from the top.
And I'm confident that he's done that and will continue to do that.
STEPHANIE SY: How would you contrast General Brown with General Milley, who, during the end of President Trump's term, really became a lightning rod for partisan politics?
How is General Brown different?
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: Well, both of them are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, so they work closely with each other on a day-to-day basis.
But contrast is sometimes what Hollywood shows, generals are not all cut from the same cloth.
So every general is a different individual, every admiral as well, and they bring their personality.
They bring their experiences to bear.
I'd say General Milley is known to be a bit more expressive than General Brown is known to be.
But both of them provide superb, professional military advice to the secretary of defense, to the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and to the president as required, being the senior military person to do so in each role.
And I'm confident that that part will be consistent when they bring their personalities to bear in different ways.
STEPHANIE SY: Do you think, if he becomes chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he continues to represent the Black experience vocally in the way that we saw him doing that poignant video after the death of George Floyd?
Does he continue to address systemic racism in the military?
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: He can do so from a very important position, again, setting the tone from the top, as he and the other Joint Chiefs talk about what's important and as they inform the service secretaries and the secretary defense, as they communicate with and to Congress.
This is an a very -- a very important role to certainly be representative.
And he is clearly a distinguished representative for African Americans.
But he's more than that.
And he will bring all of these characteristics to bear as he helps to try to change the culture in the military and, to an extent, impact the culture of society as well in a favorable and positive way that fulfills his view and so many of our views of what is the ideal for the United States, where we do have inclusion, we have cooperation, we have support, we have advocacy, and we're not walking past one another and ignoring talent that exists in our population and in our ranks.
STEPHANIE SY: General Vincent Brooks, thank you so much for joining us with your perspective.
And I do want to clarify for our viewers that General Brooks was the commander of U.S.
Forces in Korea, obviously not North Korea, as I misstated earlier.
Sir, thank you.
GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: Thanks, Stephanie.
GEOFF BENNETT: George Floyd's murder at the hands of police in Minneapolis three years ago led to a widespread push for police reform and racial justice.
Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro sat down with the new police chief in Minneapolis to talk about the challenges of the past few years and the department's future.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Brian O'Hara was sworn in as the 54th police chief in Minneapolis last November.
He took over a department at the center of calls for changes to policing, a department also down hundreds of officers since 2020.
O'Hara came from Newark, New Jersey, where he led efforts to bring that city's police department in line with the federal consent decree.
In March, Minneapolis reached a settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights with legally binding reforms, including limits to traffic stops and use of force and emphasis on de-escalation and additional training.
A federal consent decree is widely expected here as well.
We spoke with Chief O'Hara this week, and asked him about the work of implementing the kinds of changes those agreements require.
BRIAN O'HARA, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Police Chief: I don't think of it as a checklist of stuff to do and then prove to the court and to a monitor that you have done it.
I think it is more about trying to change the culture of the agency.
The number one thing that we need to do, besides trying to rebuild the sworn staffing levels, would be to engage community in this process, to make sure that community feel like they have a voice in what the training would look like in the future, what reforms actually look like here in the city.
And I think that's going to be a very difficult lift here.
I think it's going to be much harder than it was in Newark, simply because people here have been through so much trauma, and that has not been addressed.
But, also, I think this is a much more engaged community in a lot of respects than what I have seen previously.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And you have to deal with several political realities, one of which is resistance from the MPD union, which has already expressed its skepticism.
The union head is quoted as saying some of the training is a potential logistical nightmare, for example.
BRIAN O'HARA: I think she is correct.
The settlement agreement that we have with the state and any federal consent decree is a gargantuan task, but it is the way forward and it's what we have to do.
And I'm OK if it takes us some time to figure that out.
I'm OK if we have to engage community, take a little bit more time to make sure that we are getting things right, and that we're not jeopardizing public safety when we're trying to implement all of these kinds of gargantuan requirements.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Last month, the city of Minneapolis reached multimillion-dollar settlements with two people who alleged excessive force by Derek Chauvin years before he fatally knelt on George Floyd's neck.
In a statement, O'Hara called Chauvin a national embarrassment, but said there was -- quote - - "a systemic failure within the Minneapolis Police Department that allowed for and even at times encouraged unjust and brutal policing."
BRIAN O'HARA: It's very frustrating that, three years after George Floyd's murder, we're still dealing with the conduct of the former officer who murdered him.
The most frustrating part is, different supervisors had reviewed that former officer's conduct previously, and, clearly, as an agency, we were not able to hold that officer -- that former officer accountable.
And that's why I think it's very clearly a systems problem, as opposed to trying to just scapegoat one or two persons here or here or there.
So I think it -- that's why I think it is much deeper than just dealing with that one former officer.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You go out on patrol frequently.
You have gone to the site of all homicides, as I understand.
What can you tell us about your tenure thus far, both being on the street, and elsewhere in this job?
BRIAN O'HARA: After everything that has happened here, I think people in this community are entitled to a police chief that is engaged.
And in order for me to be engaged, I need to be present.
Over the last three years, the police officers here experienced an incredible amount of trauma.
And so, to some degree, while people were leaving the job, I think there was definitely, on some level, a retreat from doing police work, from doing proactive police work.
There was a fear.
And I think if we're going to be in a position where both we're going to address serious street crime in a very real way, I have to be able to tell the cops, I need you to do your job.
At the same time, we need to be able to earn people's trust.
Regardless of whatever settlement agreement there is, regardless of a consent decree, we're going to continue to be president for community and we're going to continue to be the police.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Though higher than before the pandemic, the city has seen a drop so far this year in homicides, shots fired and carjackings, compared to the same time in 2022.
O'Hara credits the officers who've stayed with the department.
BRIAN O'HARA: The cops who work in Minneapolis today who have been here, who have endured, just like our residents, all of this trauma, all of this uncertainty, possibly disbanding the police department and all these things, I think they are incredibly resilient.
But we are definitely at a very, very critical point, where we need to keep pushing forward, because I do think there's a great risk that we could slide backwards.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That push forward has not been without missteps.
Earlier this month, the news Web site Minnesota Reformer reported O'Hara personally signed a job offer letter for a former Virginia police officer who repeatedly Tasered and struck an unarmed Black man in 2020.
You have ordered a full investigation into that hiring.
First, is there any update?
And do you worry that something like this undermines credibility of the department's efforts?
BRIAN O'HARA: Of course, that's a very serious concern of mine.
Obviously, I was not happy about it once I learned fully about that person's history.
But, yes, I mean, the matter remains under investigation.
The actual process remains under investigation, because how could the, if you will, sort of the rubric for conducting these -- hiring and all the different layers of review that there is in the process, how can something like this not be flagged?
I can assure the public that we will be making some very significant changes to the process, to the structure of how these things are conducted to make sure that something like that does not happen again.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You would like to have a few hundred more officers on your staff quickly.
BRIAN O'HARA: Absolutely.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: What attributes might we see in this new crop that did not exist in prior ones?
BRIAN O'HARA: Police departments everywhere are having real challenges with staffing levels and finding recruits.
But I think nowhere else in the country is it more pronounced than here in Minneapolis.
I think there is a very negative perception that is not connected to the reality of who the Minneapolis police officers are today, and what we're trying to accomplish.
I want to be very intentional about trying to focus on young people from Minneapolis who have connections, who have love for our city, but also on those candidates, wherever they may be, that want to be a part of getting this right.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Chief Brian O'Hara, thank you for sharing.
We appreciate it.
BRIAN O'HARA: Thank you so much for having me.
GEOFF BENNETT: Fred's reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
A new investigation by The Marshall Project and The New York Times sheds light on an alarming culture of abuse inside New York state prisons.
For decades, officer disciplinary records were kept secret from the public in New York state.
That was until the year 2020, when lawmakers enacted police reforms in the wake of George Floyd's murder.
The Marshall Project reviewed those records and found hundreds of incidents of abuse and mistreatment and a widespread failure to hold guards accountable.
Alysia Santo of The Marshall Project is one of the reporters behind the story.
And she joins me now.
And, Alysia, over the course of your reporting, you spoke with guards, former prison officials, incarcerated people, and you found a culture of abuse.
Tell me more about what you discovered.
ALYSIA SANTO, The Marshall Project: So, we found that, when the Department of Corrections in New York state attempted to fire officers that they accused of abusing people that were in their custody or covering up that abuse, that they only succeeded in actually getting rid of that officer and firing them in about 10 percent of the cases.
We were really surprised to see such a low rate of success for the state, when the state had found that this abuse had occurred, according to them.
In addition, because we were told that this disciplinary database we'd obtained only represented a fraction of the excessive force that occurs in prisons, we also analyzed over 160 lawsuits in which prisoners were awarded damages as a result of their lawsuit.
And we crosschecked the names of the officers accused in those lawsuits.
And we found that, in 80 percent of those cases, the state didn't even attempt to discipline the officers that were accused.
GEOFF BENNETT: One incident of abuse and a subsequent cover-up involved a man named Melvin Virgil.
And we should say that this video we're about to show is fairly graphic.
And you got access to body camera footage where you see an officer beat Mr. Virgil multiple times.
But despite clear records, photos and video showing guards striking him repeatedly, the officer involved reported that he delivered one strike against Mr. Virgil, and other officers' reports supported that claim.
Tell us about the specific case and how it fits into the broader culture of abuse that you reported on.
ALYSIA SANTO: So the attack on Melvin Virgil is unique because there was actually footage of what occurred, which is -- I had never seen body camera footage from inside a New York state prison before.
And this case really illustrated the ways that the officers all basically came together on the same story of what happened, which is clearly contradicted by the video.
And that story actually became the official narrative of what had happened in the Melvin Virgil case, which was that he had attacked the officer and just one strike had been used in an attempt to get him under control, and that he had remained combative.
But, in the video, you actually see him struck six times in the head.
And you also see him go unconscious at the moment that the officers claim that he was fighting back against them.
And another important thing to note here is that Melvin Virgil was sent to solitary confinement for this particular incident, and the officers' cover-up was actually -- their story was adopted as the official narrative in the prison of what had actually occurred.
And this is despite there being video evidence, and despite the officers being allowed to actually watch that video and offered an opportunity to change their reports, which they declined.
GEOFF BENNETT: Well, when it comes to accountability, you document more than 290 cases where the state tried to fire officers or supervisors who had mistreated prisoners, and, ultimately, just 28 of them were fired.
What are the barriers preventing the system from holding these officers accountable?
ALYSIA SANTO: One of the biggest barriers is the unions' contracts.
So, in New York state, the corrections officers are a part of a very strong union.
And this union contract that the state has agreed to has many protections in place.
And one of those protections in particular that we have focused on is the arbitration process, which is,an arbitrator gets to decide whether an officer loses their job or not.
It's not actually up to the prison agency.
And we found that arbitrators in abuse cases, they ruled with the officer three-quarters of the time that the state was attempting to fire someone for abuse or for covering up abuse.
So, this resulted in a lot of cases where people who the state was trying to fire were put back into their jobs inside of prisons and back in control of other people.
GEOFF BENNETT: Big-picture question for you as we wrap up our conversation.
Why should we care about what happens inside prisons?
Why should we care about the ways in which prisoners are treated?
ALYSIA SANTO: Well, prisoners are among our most vulnerable people, because they rely on others for their basic needs and for their safety.
But people also get out of prison.
And so if you don't care about them being in there, maybe you care that they get out, and that the way that they're treated while they're inside, it really could affect how their life goes when they come back into the world that we all inhabit on the outside.
And then there's also all the people that are affected by that, the families and the friends that love people who are incarcerated, and then all the people that work there, the thousands and thousands of people who endure the stress of knowing that there is a job in which they might encounter something that they think they would want to report, but the culture itself is one in which you're supposed to cover it up and your -- maybe your own safety relies on your willingness to cooperate and go along with cover-ups that occur inside of the prison system.
So, it affects a lot of people.
And, for that reason, I think it's really important for everybody to care about.
GEOFF BENNETT: Alysia Santo of The Marshall Project, thank you for sharing your reporting with us.
ALYSIA SANTO: Thank you so much for having me.
GEOFF BENNETT: The U.S. Supreme Court has again weakened the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.
As William Brangham reports, today's ruling limits the agency's power to curb water pollution.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Geoff, this case goes back 15 years, when the EPA, citing the landmark Clean Water Act, blocked in Idaho couple from building a house on their property because there was a wetland on it, and the property was next to a big lake.
All nine justices agreed the EPA didn't have the authority to regulate these homeowners' property, but there was stark disagreement over how to determine when a body of water can and should be protected.
To understand the implications of this ruling, we are joined again by Coral Davenport.
She covers energy and environment for The New York Times.
Nice to see you again.
CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times: Great to be here.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, this was a unanimous ruling by the court that, in this Idaho case, the EPA had overstepped.
But the majority went much farther and went really a much deeper cut into the EPA's authority.
What did they rule?
CORAL DAVENPORT: Essentially, they said that the EPA, which, until yesterday, had the authority to regulate most of the wetlands in the United States to protect the wetlands and to punish anyone who had polluted them, sharply limited or sharply reduced the amount of wetlands that would be subject to federal protection.
It said, in order for a wetland to be subject to some -- any kind of federal protection regulation, it has to directly join up to or be connected to a larger body of water.
That might sound sort of obscure, but that decision really cuts out millions of acres, probably more than half the wetlands in the United States, from federal protection.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Can you remind us, for people who think of wetlands as sort of swampy areas that are not that -- who knows what they really do -- why we care about wetlands?
CORAL DAVENPORT: Absolutely.
So a wetland might not be a place that you want to visit.
A lot of wetlands literally do fall into the definition of swamp or bog or soggy area.
Wetlands are important for two reasons.
One, they're a major source for biodiversity.
Many, many species make their home in wetlands.
And if the wetlands are polluted or not subject to any kind of environmental protection, you might risk losing a lot of that biodiversity.
Wetlands protect humans to.
Wetlands are a really important source for protection from floods.
And so, if they dry up, if they are filled in, if they disappear, this -- they're a buffer for flooding.
And that is a role that they play that is becoming a lot more important now in the era of climate change, where we're experiencing a lot more flooding.
So wetlands... WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yes, we need more land to suck up all that water that's falling.
CORAL DAVENPORT: Exactly.
So those are sort of the roles that wetlands play.
And that's kind of why the Clean Water Act had envisioned federal protection for wetlands.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So who is cheering this ruling today?
Obviously, this Idaho couple is, but who else is going to be heartened that the EPA can't regulate wetlands as effectively?
CORAL DAVENPORT: Sure.
So there were a lot of groups that had been pushing legally and politically for the overturn of these regulations and these protections, chiefly farmers, real estate developers, golf course developers.
Not surprisingly, former President Trump had pushed really hard to roll back a lot of these regulations, because they really did get in the way of what a lot of people could potentially do with their land.
And so, without these protections, it really takes away -- it takes away penalties for filling in wetlands and developing.
It takes away penalties for farmers who could have been penalized for using fertilizers or pollutants that would run into wetlands, and they would receive penalties from the EPA.
So a lot of those areas that had been protected, now that the protections are gone, those are the groups that are saying, well, now we can - - we can do what we want with this land.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Biden today in a statement that was very critical of this ruling said that he's going to try to redouble efforts to get states, localities and tribes to step up their enforcement of water protections.
How likely is that to make a difference in - - to sort of step into this breach.
CORAL DAVENPORT: So now that this federal protection has been lifted for so many millions of acres of wetlands, a lot of these areas, at this moment, have literally no legal protection whatsoever from pollution.
It absolutely is possible that states could step in and write new state laws or rules to protect the wetlands.
But, in fact, more than 20 states already have statutes in place that say the state rules cannot be more stringent than the federal rules.
So if we were to see that happen, it would probably only happen in about in about half the states, if at all.
So that -- President Biden made that call.
Legally, it's harder to see how that would happen in about half the country.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Coral Davenport of The New York Times, thank you so much.
CORAL DAVENPORT: Always happy to be here.
GEOFF BENNETT: Now a look at the transformation of Twitter and the concerns around it.
Ever since Elon Musk took over the company, he has been clear that he sees his platform as a place for free speech, especially as a space for conservative voices, who he feels have been silenced too often.
That was part of the backdrop when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis formally launched his presidential campaign on Twitter Spaces last night.
But the event was plagued by lengthy delays and problems, which Musk acknowledged while it was happening.
ELON MUSK, CEO, Twitter: We're just reallocating more sort of a capability to be able to handle the load here.
It's really going -- going crazy.
So, yes, I'm obviously very excited to have Governor DeSantis make this... GEOFF BENNETT: Now, it should be noted that the number of users listening to the event was in the hundreds of thousands, not the millions or tens of millions that would typically overwhelm the servers of other social media giants.
We are going to focus now on Musk's plans and vision for Twitter.
Philip Bump has been writing about that for The Washington Post.
And he joins us now.
Thanks for being with us, Phil.
And so, look, you could argue that Ron DeSantis' unorthodox decision to announce his presidential bid on the Twitter Spaces audio stream, even with -- even with its technical issues, that that really cements Twitter's newfound status on the right.
How do you see it and how do you see the transformation of Twitter under Elon Musk's leadership?
PHILIP BUMP, The Washington Post: Yes.
No, I think it is true that Elon Musk is making a bid to be the place where the right wing of American politics can go and have a conversation.
He -- when he took over Twitter, and even when he first put in his bid to buy Twitter, he made very clear that he thought Twitter had made bad decisions about who was allowed to be on the platform and who wasn't.
Twitter had been previously very assiduous about keeping off people who had been spreading information that was false, making false claims about the election or about the coronavirus pandemic.
He saw those moves as being the wrong way to go.
And he reinstated a number of people and, in doing so, really drew a distinction that I think was -- is important to recognize between himself and, say, a FOX News.
FOX News got in huge trouble for spreading election misinformation with this lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems.
But Twitter doesn't have that same problem.
It is a different sort of place, where people can go and get information, even false information.
And that provides a power to Musk within the right-wing conversation that FOX News can't match.
And I think he's starting to wake up to the possibilities that that engenders.
GEOFF BENNETT: Well, let's talk more about that, the potential impact on the media.
You mentioned FOX News.
Their ratings have declined dramatically since that network parted ways with Tucker Carlson.
Now you have Tucker Carlson and the team behind The Daily Wire, which is a conservative media outlet, they're now saying they're going to produce content for Twitter.
What's the impact of that?
PHILIP BUMP: Well, it depends on how it goes, right?
One would have said that the impact of a major presidential candidate making his announcement on Twitter would have been big up until about 6:00 p.m. on -- yesterday.
So we will see how it goes.
It certainly is the case that there are a lot more people who have access to viewing, say-, Tucker Carlson's show on Twitter than they do on FOX News.
Whether or not it's the same audience is an open question.
And whether or not you can actually support an hour of looking at your phone or watching Twitter on your laptop is another question too.
It's not clear that the same demographic groups that would watch FOX News will also tune in to Twitter, which means, to some extent, that these audiences are going to have to -- they're going to have to create new audiences.
GEOFF BENNETT: The value of any social network is its users and the communities they create.
And Twitter under the previous ownership became this powerful online network of people who were able to circumvent mainstream channels to have their voices heard.
And that gave rise to any number of powerful social movements, not just in this country, but around the world.
You maintain that one of the reasons why Elon Musk wanted to buy Twitter was to dismantle those communities.
Tell me more about that.
PHILIP BUMP: Well, I think particularly one community, which is the community of the media and journalists.
Elon Musk has -- like many major business owner or very wealthy person, has had a very often adversarial relationship with the press.
I think he very quickly realized that, if he took ownership of Twitter, he would be able to mute or muffle the extent to which the media were powerful on the social media platform.
Twitter was uniquely a home for the media relative to other social media platforms.
And Elon Musk was able to effectively make the media less powerful on Twitter simply by giving them less prominence through the verification badge and things along those lines.
And that, at the same time, then empowers people who want to present information that isn't necessarily accurate, that is potentially unvetted or partisan, and allows them to be on equal playing field with people who actually try and be objective about what they're saying, which, obviously, then is advantageous to those who might want to offer information that's not necessarily accurate.
GEOFF BENNETT: In preparing to speak with you and doing the research, I looked up some Pew Research Center data, and they found that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to use Twitter, almost twice as many Democrats on the platform than Republicans.
Might that change under Elon Musk's leadership?
And what do you see as the net effect on our election and our politics generally?
PHILIP BUMP: Yes, I think it almost certainly will change or has changed already.
Those Pew numbers are from last year, at the latest, as I recall.
So, yes, I think that's already changed.
I think one of the things that happened after Musk took over and Twitter started to change its policies and practices was, you saw a lot of people from the political left start to drop off and use it less frequently.
That also correlates to age, though, right?
Younger people are much more heavily Democratic than Republican.
Younger people are more likely to use social media platforms.
So that was also part of it.
So, you -- by changing the demographics of who uses Twitter, you're also changing the politics of it.
And I think that presents an opportunity for the people who are engaged and excited about Twitter who may not share Musk's politics to find somewhere else where they can congregate and have that same level of activity.
GEOFF BENNETT: Philip Bump of The Washington Post, thanks so much for your insights.
PHILIP BUMP: Thank you.
GEOFF BENNETT: Michelle Zauner is a Korean American author and musician best known as the lead vocalist of the alternative pop band Japanese Breakfast.
Tonight, Zauner shares her Brief But Spectacular take on making the ordinary beautiful.
MICHELLE ZAUNER, Author and Musician: My mother was a homemaker, and I was an only child.
And so we were really bonded very early on.
I think it was 2014 when she told me that she had stage four cancer.
Being an only daughter, I knew I had to kind of take everything on my desk, completely clear it go home, and be with her from beginning to end.
In six months, I suddenly found myself unemployed, married without a mother and estranged from my father.
And I don't think I could quite wrap my head around everything that had happened until I started putting it down on paper.
The first line of "Crying in H Mart" is: "Ever since my mom died, I cry in H Mart."
And I think, in a way, the book is very much about answering that question of, like, why are you crying in a grocery store?
H Mart is a Korean grocery chain.
I drove to H Mart to be surrounded by her language and the foods that she loved and that we shared together.
I don't think I thought much about her impending death as a part of losing my culture until after it happened.
I think I probably realized that once I like went to Korean grocery store, and I realized, like, I couldn't just call my mom anymore to ask her, like, what brand of seaweed we used to buy or, like, what kind of doenjang soybean paste we had at home.
I would say food was a big part of the way that my mother expressed her love.
The way that she expressed her affection was really rooted in actions, always remembering the kinds of food that you liked and the kinds of foods that you didn't like and what you would want after a long day.
And I don't think I realized that until I was a little bit older.
It's been really fun to see, like, people from all different types of cultures comparing different grocery stores or different types of food or different food memories to the book.
I think one of my favorite things that has come back to me about the book is children who have told me: I read your book and I called my mom.
I hugged my mom.
I took her out to lunch.
My name is Michelle Zauner, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on making the ordinary beautiful.
GEOFF BENNETT: And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz in Brownsville, Texas.
Join us again tomorrow night for more on the conditions migrants are facing as they wait in Mexico for a chance to seek asylum here in the United States, also how U.S. border communities are being affected by the change in immigration policies.
GEOFF BENNETT: Thanks for spending part of your evening with us.