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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/25/22

Guests: Adam Schiff


Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Billionaire CEO Elon Musk will buy Twitter.


MATT MILLER, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: These sanctions were always intended to have an effect over the long term. And we expect that they will.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": All right, Matt Miller, from National Security Council, White House special adviser, thank you very much.

That is "ALL IN" for this evening.


Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. How is your vacation?

HAYES: It was amazing. Let me just, say quick plug, a hot take, Grand Canyon, truly all inspiring. It`s true what they say. You can`t overhype it. Doesn`t capture it on photographs.

You get there. It is a profound and overwhelming spiritual experience. Totally so great. Loved it.

MADDOW: I completely agree. I will say, the first time I ever went to the Grand Canyon, I was driving cross country, I`ve been up for several days, at least, it felt like that at the time. I was like, grungy and unshowered and hungry and cynical and it was like a weird time of the morning and I was like, I really don`t want to do this.

And I just drove up, you know, parked and got that first glimpse of it and it was like I was reborn. It is a transformative --

HAYES: Totally agree.

MADDOW: -- instant in your life. You don`t even have to prep. You don`t have to get yourself ready for it. It moves you in a way that is almost impossible to impart.

HAYES: You know what, I will say one more thing, and then I let you go get about your show. It`s also like it is a time when we are very divided, a very polarized nation, like it is a universal thing. Like there is all kinds of different people, all kinds of different politics, all kinds of different creeds from all over. We`re there at some fundamental level, kind of experiencing the same thing and I found that pretty inspiring, too.

MADDOW: I completely agree and I am so glad you are there and you taking your kids and you and Kate having such a great time right before the country is going through a we are going to right now, seeing you guys there, doing what you`re doing, it made very happy we still got places like that.

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: So, well done.

All right. And thank you at-home for joining us this hour. Let`s all go to the Grand Canyon together sometime.

What a day today was in the news, right? Today feels like it was a week at least. And the news today really came in from all directions.

In one development that I am not sure has totally sunk in yet here, Russia seems to be making moves to extend its war into a third country now beyond the borders of Ukraine. And this I think is as significant as it sounds, which is why I`m sort of surprised it is not making a bigger splash in terms of how we think about this conflict here in the United States.

On the southwest border of Ukraine is a very small country called Moldova. In terms of its overall size, I would say, for comparison sake, I would say the closest U.S. state by size would be roughly Maryland. Moldova is a little bit bigger than Maryland. But that is the closest aide and size.

On the very eastern side about small country, the part that borders Ukraine, which just marked in red a second ago, Russia has previously stoked conflict in that little strip of Moldova. Russia, in years past, has essentially signaled that they would like to take that part of Moldova for Russia. And that predated the Ukrainian invasion that Putin started in February.

But now, Russia appears to be starting to start that project or at least creating the pretext for them going into Moldova and trying to take at least part of that country as well.

So, under Vladimir Putin, we got Russia invading and taking over one neighboring country, Ukraine, and now, just in case it wasn`t clear enough will kind of leader Putin is, what kind of war this is and whether he has limited aims, he really does appear to be preparing to keep moving west, to keep attacking more countries, starting with Moldova, even before he has achieved his purported aims and Ukraine.

So, that is -- that is very worrying and it would seem to create a sort of new international imperative about how we think about that conflict and how we think about Vladimir Putin. The U.S. secretary of state and the U.S. defense secretary, of course, these past couple of days, we`re in Ukraine.

As Russia starts to spread its war into yet another country, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said it must now be the goal of Ukraine`s allies, including the United States, to weaken the Russian military so they can`t do stuff like this anymore. And that would be an almost unthinkable thing for our U.S. defense secretary to upset in public before circumstances like this. But in the circumstances like this, it almost seems inevitable.

So, tonight, we will have more on that ahead, including the news that the U.S. is reopening its embassy in Ukraine`s capital. We had evacuated our diplomats from that embassy at the start of the war, but they are going back to Kyiv. All interesting stuff, all important.

Here at home today, the dystopian capitalist novel we all live in got a new chapter, the kind of chapter that signals that maybe will or getting towards the end of this book. That certainly this plot must be wrapping up.


The eccentric, South African, Canadian, American billionaire, CEO of Tesla, the electric car company, apparently, is really doing it.

He has decided to buy the most influential social media site in the world. He is buying Twitter to have and you hold as his own private company, as his own privately held toy, which has lots of potential implications. And we will be talking this hour with an expert on what could possibly go wrong here.

But, of course, ever since Elon Musk first raised the prospect a couple of weeks ago that he might buy Twitter, speculation has swirled that among other things, this could result in the former Donald Trump rejoining the social media site. Donald Trump, of course, was banned from Twitter January of last year for using the site to try to foment a violent insurrection to overthrow the U.S. government. It turns out, that`s enough to get you kicked off Twitter. At least used to be.

In response to the speculation that he might be reinstated to the platform under an Elon Musk-owned version of twitter, Trump himself has reportedly say that he won`t return Twitter even if he is allowed to. And who knows? We`ll see, but also, yeah, right.

As recently as this weekend, Trump struggle to remember the name of the company he is supposedly forming to compete with Twitter.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: By building something called truth sensual (ph) -- Truth Social.


MADDOW: Building something called truth sensual -- trope, truth central. The name of the company is supposedly setting up is truth social, at least I thought it was, but he is having trouble.


TRUMP: By building something called truth sensual (ph) --


MADDOW: Trough essential, truth, whatever it is. That is his supposed juggernaut idea for competing with Twitter. That within this weekend, unable to remember or at least pronounce the name of this thing that he is supposedly creating that means he doesn`t need Twitter anymore.

But now, with, a thin skinned billionaire taking over Twitter to make it his private thing, presumably Trump will be let back on Twitter, organizing a violent overthrow of the U.S. government, making it just that more efficient. He won`t have to get people to go to trough central (ph). I don`t know.

Today was also a dramatic day in the U.S. state courtroom for former President Trump. The judge concluded today`s proceedings by saying, quote, Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously and I take mine seriously. I hereby hold you in civil contempt and fined you $10,000 per day until you purge that contempt.

Ten thousand a day starting today. That is likely to get under someone`s skin. This is the case brought by the attorney general of the state of New York, looking into alleged financial improprieties by Trump and his business, the Trump Organization.

You will recall that investigations by New York attorneys general have been a real problem for Trump in the past. It was investigations from the New York attorney generals office in the past that resulted in the shutdown of Trump`s fraudulent charity, the Trump Foundation, also his allegedly fraudulent university, which was shut down and for which Trump paid out $25 million cash to settle those fraud charges.

This latest investigation by the New York Attorney General`s Office targets Trump and his business directly. We don`t yet know a kind of action the attorney general is going to take against Trump, if any. But this is notable. I think at the conclusion of this investigation, we will see what they are going to do.

It is starting to seem like we are getting to the conclusion of that investigation in fairly short order. I say that because a lawyer for the New York attorney generals office spoke at today`s hearing and told the judge at one point, quote, we will likely need to bring some sort of enforcement action in the near future. The lawyer was describing some sort of timeliness deadline that the New York attorney generals office is up against in terms of making its decision. We don`t know what exactly that deadline is, but that attorney general`s office staffer today, that attorney said that enforcement decision will have to be made soon.

It was roughly five months ago that Trump received the subpoenas from this investigation, ordering him to hand over documents and financial records related to what the attorney general is looking at. Apparently, he has turned over almost nothing in response to those subpoenas over the course of these five months.

His lawyer told the court today that she had personally looked around to try to see if you could find any of the relevant documents. She told the court today that she had personally flown to Florida and asked Trump if he had anything to hand over.


She told the court today, he has nothing to hand over and she could find nothing that he should hand over. She told the court, quote, President Trump does not email. He does not text message. He has no work computer at home or anywhere else. With the implication being that there is nothing to search, nowhere to find anything and he says he`s got no paper.

Maybe. Okay. But, in this case, again, the New York Attorney General`s Office, looking at Trump and his business for alleged financial improprieties -- in this case, the court appointed a third party. They pointed an outside company to oversee the production of documents in compliance with subpoenas in this case. And that third company has just told the court that, actually, they have an idea of where might be a good next place to start looking in terms of these documents that Trump hasn`t handed over.

Quoting from court filings today, quote: The company`s report identifies to mobile phones for Mr. Trump, but in a case it is unknown whether these devices have been collected for discovery. The report also indicates that Mr. Trump`s longtime executive assistant, Rhona Graff, has a laptop and a desktop computer, located in Trump Tower, but neither one has been collected for discovery. So, they have not been searched either.

Okay. A laptop, desktop computer for his long time executive assistant, and also two phones of Trump`s. And not have been searched. And so, that is the third company who is advising on production in conjunction with these subpoenas, that`s them advising like, hey, here`s where the look. And now he is being fined by the court, $10,000 a day every day, until he hands everything over that could be relevant to this case.

So, I don`t know where either of those developments is going. Either the attorney general telling the court today that the enforcement action related to Trump is going to come soon. I don`t know what we are going to see in that regard. Nor do I know what to expect in terms of the course big daily fines against Trump for defying the subpoenas and not handing over materials related to this case.

If I had to guess, if the past is any prologue, I have to imagine the $10,000 a day factor is going to drive a certain someone a little cuckoo for cocoa puffs. We shall see. Hopefully, we won`t see it on Twitter. But honestly, probably, we`ll see it on Twitter, the way this day is going.

It has been a top day all around on the Trump side of the ledger though. Late on Friday night, we got that likely filing from the January 6th investigation, disclosing all sorts of information we didn`t previously have about members of Congress and the administration and how they tried to throw out the election results to keep Trump in power after he lost reelection. That filing from late on Friday night, 200 or 300-page-long filing, that`s been bolstered today by a trove of 2,000 text messages, to and from Trump White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, text messages that were obtained by CNN and published by CNN in part today.

Taken together, that filing on Friday night from the January 6th investigators and these text messages disclosed today in the press -- those two disclosures paint a sort of new and unnerving picture of how involved members of Congress and members of the administration were in trying to use not only perceived legal tools, legal maneuvers, political tactics, but also the threat of mob violence, to keep Trump in power.

I mean, first, for example, we learned from testimony to the investigation, by an aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, that Meadows was told in no uncertain terms by the White House counsel`s office that this scheme they try to have Republican controlled states send fake trunk electors to be counted in the Electoral College, Mark Meadows was told by the White House office that that scheme was illegal.

We then learned from testimony to the investigation that there is an attempted workaround for that little problem of it being illegal. We have previously discussed and you have previously heard the reporting that Trump molded and attempted to proverbially decapitate the Department of Justice, to remove its existing leadership and instead, put in place at the top of the department, this man, a man named Jeff Clark. You might also remember that he took the Fifth Amendment. He inserted his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid incriminating himself dozens of times during his own testimony to the January 6 investigation.

Well, why did Trump want to put Jeff Clark in front of the Justice Department? On the top of the Justice Department? Why did he want to take out the existing leadership and instead put this guy in there?

Well, we have newly-learned from this new disclosure is that one of the things that Jeff Clark thought the Justice Department should do, when he thought they could do, is that the Justice Department should issue a legal memo, a legal opinion, stating that actually the fake electors plan was legal.


And Mike Pence has every opportunity and every legal right to only count electors he wanted, and to send others back to the states. Or indeed, to consider the illegal fake elector states.

If the Justice Department issued a legal memorandum stating that that was all kosher, presumably, Trump thought that would solve the problem and that is why Trump tried to install Jeffrey Clark as the new attorney general so that the Justice Department can do stuff like that to declare the coup to be legal.

We also learned from his new disclosure that multiple members of Congress participated in a call with the White House chief of staff before January 6th. In which they discussed getting the crowd from a Trump rally to go March directly on the U.S. Capitol.

Now, if you are not familiar with the geography of D.C., and I actually had a look at this today to remind myself, the ellipse, which is where Trump held the rally, and the Capitol building, where Congress is, they are not next to each other. They are two miles apart from one another.

So, an event that the ellipse would not organically end in the crowd at the ellipse traipsing two miles to go to the Capitol building in a different part of D.C. We know this in part from experience. There were previous Trump rallies protesting the election results in November and December in D.C. and they were a big and wild and in some cases, they had violence at them. But those did not end with people marching on the Capitol. There isn`t anything about a march about the election result in Washington that organically and inevitably results in the crowd surge either U.S. Capitol building, especially if it starts at the ellipse on a cold day.

But apparently, it was no accident that the crowd on January 6th march the two miles from the ellipse to the Capitol building. It is not an unplanned ad lib by the president that day in his speech at the ellipse when he told the crowd that they should go to the Capitol. Mark Meadows claimed in his memoir that that was a real surprise when Trump ad libbed that remark because nobody had said anything about that crowd going to the Capitol.

Well, now we know that Meadows participated in at least one meeting with multiple Republican members of Congress planning for exactly that, planning for the mob at the Trump rally to be steered directly at the Capitol, while the vote counting was happening inside that building.

Also, on Friday, we saw pro-Trump Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene say in court, in a proceeding where her eligibility to run for reelection was being challenged legally, we saw her say in court that she could recall ever suggesting to President Trump that he might declare martial law as a way of staying in power. Today, we learned in fact that she did suggest that to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and she did it in writing in a text message.

And as funny and said as it is to see her misspell martial law as Marshall law, like that store you sometimes confuse with a T.J.Maxx or Ross Dress for Less, as ridiculous as this all is, it is chilling to look at the date on that text message.

She wasn`t suggesting that Trump declare martial law in the heat of the election results coming in and it looking like he might not win. It wasn`t even in the lead up to the January 6th counting of the electoral votes before we knew that there was going to be a physical attack on a Congress, right? We now know Republican members of Congress were scheming with the White House directly about directing the mob to leave the rallies that on January 6th and march on Congress while the vote count was underway.

She was not considering and advising the White House that the president should declare martial law in the heat of that craziness. No, look at the data. She sent her misspelled martial law suggestion January 17th. That is a week and a half after the January 6th attack, after the violent attack on the U.S. capital to try to keep Trump in power, a week and a half later, she was advising the White House that maybe martial law was going to be what it took. She was suggesting that three days before the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris, suggesting martial law is the way that Trump should save the republic and stay in power.

It`s a lot. It`s also -- it makes it, not hard understand, because I think I understand it, but it makes it a remarkable thing, that the January 6th investigation apparently is not going to feel to take any testimony from serving Republican members of Congress in their investigation.


We`ve known that that was unlikely when Republican members of Congress started saying no to request to testify voluntarily. But now that we know how many of them were up to their next in this, including being involved in the discussions about getting the mob physically to the Capitol building, it is somewhat amazing that none of them are going to find themselves under oath, answering questions about what they did.

Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He`s a Democrat in California. He`s a member of the January 6th investigation. He, of course, is also chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Schiff, Mr. Chairman, it is a real pleasure to see you. Thank you for making time.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Great to see you.

MADDOW: Let me just ask you if that last point that I was making, that last question I was racing, is the right way to look at this. We know that your investigation has requested voluntary interviews from some Republican members of Congress and that none of them have agreed.

Do you expect that the investigation will come to its end, will come to its conclusions without ever speaking with any of the members of Congress, who apparently were very involved in the machinations of this plot?

SCHIFF: I don`t know whether we will get to speak with all of them, but it is certainly possible we will speak with some of them. And clearly, they do have very relevant information.

But, Rachel, what`s we are wrestling with is, we can subpoena them, but if you subpoena them, you have to be prepared to follow through if they refused to comply. That would mean we would refer them for criminal prosecution in addition to, obviously, with that would do in terms of riling up the House of Representatives. We also have to consider, will the Justice Department go through with it?

We have referred to them already for criminal prosecution, frankly, more simple cases and they have yet to act. This is why we are wrestling with. I think on the positive side, as with so many of these unwilling witnesses, we are learning a lot about their interactions with the president, with the White House, notwithstanding their non-cooperation.

So, we are getting the facts and I know that at the end of the day, that is the most important thing. We can put that information out to the public and we can take steps to try to protect the country going forward.

MADDOW: Aside from the prospect of a referral for criminal contempt prosecution, do you feel like what we have learned thus far might suggest criminal behavior by members of congress? I`m thinking about these revelations today in this reporting from CNN that would indicate, in the words of one Republican member of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene, that multiple members of Congress believed that Trump should declare martial law just ahead of the inauguration in order to stay in power and she took it upon herself to convey that, those urgings, and to convey that to the White House.

That is the abdication of the overthrow the government by force, sort of by any other name. Is there indication, to your mind, in terms of the evidence that you`ve seen, that members of Congress should be facing criminal charges for their involvement?

SCHIFF: I haven`t reached a conclusion on that point, but I do agree certainly with the judge in California, Judge Carter, that there is compelling evidence that the president of the United States and others engaged with very possible criminal activity to obstruct Congress, to defraud the United States, to engage in conspiracy.

I think that there is significant evidence of corrupt intent. Some of the revelations that they mentioned go to the fact that White House counsel was telling some of these players like mark meadows that this is illegal, that there`s no basis for that, and it is also demonstrated that these individuals understood there was violence on that day that would be used to -- there are, I think, very substantial groups of evidence of criminality, whether those extend to Congress, we continue to reserve judgments, but we continue to put the facts together and learn new information every day.

MADDOW: Do you think it is significant that we are learning from these recent disclosure is that there does seem to have been an active effort, a planned effort, not a spontaneous surprise, that it wasn`t a spontaneous surprise, that the crowd that Trump had rallied at the ellipse moved to the U.S. Capitol? Obviously, we heard Trump call for that during his speech. That was portrayed as an ad libbed a moment, as a surprise, including by Mark Meadows when he wrote his memoir about that.

We are now seeing evidence that it was not a surprise.


It wasn`t ad libbed. And there was at least some planning, both involving the White House and newest members of Congress, about the desirability of getting the crowd to converge on the Capitol building that day. Is that important? It`s not just logistics or`s that important in terms of the overall issue of culpability here?

SCHIFF: I think it is very important, to the degree that members of Congress or the White House or the former president had as a part of their plan to bring that mob into the Capitol, this was a way to break into the building, of trying to interrupt, disrupt, the joint session going on inside. And particularly, if the members of the administration who understood that there would be the participation of these violent, racist white nationalist groups, I think that raises the culpability of those involved.

You know, I would also say, you asked whether Marjorie Taylor Greene, members of Congress violating the law, one thing is abundantly clear and that is, they were violating their oath of office. They were violating their pledge to uphold the Constitution. Members of Congress had suggested that the president used martial law and overturn the election. I can`t imagine a more flagrant violation under sworn oath to defend the Constitution.

Sadly, that`s not disqualifying in today`s GOP, any more than Kevin McCarthy`s lies. Evidently, what this qualifies you in today`s GOP is if you do uphold your oath and if you are willing to tell the truth, that puts you on a track outside of McCarthy and Donald Trump`s GOP.

MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, sits on the January 6 committee, chair of the Intelligence Committee -- Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for your time tonight. It is a pleasure to have you here.

SCHIFF: Thank you. Good to be with you.

MADDOW: I will just say, what Congressman Schiff was saying there about the stuff not being disqualifying in today`s GOP, we had crystal clear news about this weekend. A lot of state Republican parties held there state conventions this weekend to pick their candidates.

In Michigan, we saw the state Republican Party this weekend, by overwhelming votes, choose a Republican candidate, choose their Republican candidate for the general election this fall, both for secretary of state and attorney general. They chose candidates in Michigan who are two people whose only claim to fame is that they are election denial lists, and are pledging that Michigan`s vote was stolen and that Trump was rightfully reelected.

In Pennsylvania this weekend, we saw the gubernatorial debate, that Trump- endorsed candidate, former Senator David Purdue, opened up that debate this weekend in Georgia by saying that the election was rigged and Trump is the rightful president.

We saw that the Utah state convention this weekend, when Mike Lee, recently revealed to have lied about how involved he wasn`t trying to get states to participate in this illegal effort to throw out their election results and send Trump electors. Mike Lee was just exposed to having lied about that and he spoke like a rock star at this weekend at the Utah State Convention, and, of course, renominated to run again for his seat.

So, what the congressman said there is right. None of what is being revealed here is disqualifying in today`s Republican Party. The only thing that disqualifies you from today`s Republican Party is not going along with the insurrection.

All right. Much more to come here tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: Lightning strikes April 26th. That was the movie trailer style promo video for the launch of Ford`s new electric truck, Ford F-150 Lightning. Tomorrow`s April 26th, and that means it`s finally here.

Ford and the United Auto Workers are going to host a big event tomorrow in Dearborn, Michigan, to announce the launch of that vehicle. And Ford is making a big deal about this, you know, in part, because they want to sell trucks obviously.

But also because this is kind of a big deal for the United States. The Ford F-series has not only been America`s most popular truck for nearly half a century, the Ford F-series pick up is the number one selling vehicle of any kind in America. And it has been for decades. Not the number one selling truck, the number one selling vehicle.

And in terms of America changing from gas vehicles electric vehicles, and all that means for the climate and energy politics, and everything else, it`s one thing to have a boutique, niche electric car company that makes really expensive vehicles. Or a low production novelty electric car that`s just for the true believers. This is America`s most popular vehicle, which is now going all electric.

And the way they`re advertising it to Ford F-150 die-hards is by saying, this is the Ford F150 that can do more than any F150 has ever done before. It`s more capable, more powerful, cheaper to run, cheaper to operate, and you can do stuff with this thing they can do with the other truck before.

The Biden infrastructure bill allocated seven and a half a billion dollars to build electric vehicle charging stations all around the country. They`ve just started spending that money from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and seven and a half a billion dollars on that. Seven and a half billion dollars on new charging stations should make a note of subtle difference. It should make electric vehicles a smarter choice for millions of Americans. That will really help.

All this the same, it`s really finally happening. When it comes to trying to get America to transition away from gas-powered vehicles, we know what Ford is up to with the largest selling vehicle in America. That`s going to be a big day for that tomorrow. We know the Biden administration is up to, with those infrastructure dollars already starting to flow.

But what about the world`s largest electric vehicle manufacturer? Where they up to right now?

Oh, right. They`re extrinsic CEO is shelling out an ungodly amount of money to buy a social media website. That seems like a great use of $44 billion.

Tesla CEO, world`s richest man, Elon Musk, has reportedly inked a deal to purchase the social media company, Twitter. He`s going to spend $44 billion to do it, and then he will own it, privately.

I know that when people started to throw around big numbers, with numbers with three commas in them, it`s hard to keep track with what it means. But just consider this, and just this context. I mentioned the bipartisan infrastructure bill allocated seven and a half million dollars for EV charging stations for the entire country. Elon Mask is spending nearly six times that amount to buy a website where people can rate stuff in 280 characters.

Elon Musk buying Twitter says a lot about the priorities of people at the highest levels making decisions that could affect the fate of the planet. But, of course, it also raises a lot of questions about what will happen to what is perhaps the most influential social media company in the world, at a time when authoritarians, insurrectionists, rogue petro states are weaponizing disinformation online in the way they`ve never done so before.

Elon Musk says he is buying Twitter to save free speech online. And what he means by that is, he wants to push back on efforts to moderate content on these websites. A lot of these websites moderate content, and wouldn`t you want to do instead?

What will it mean for our society and our democracy that one of the bigger social media companies in the world will only be accountable to that one guy and what he considers free speech?

We have just the right person to answer those questions and to talk about worst-case scenarios, next.

Stay with us.




REPORTER: Twitter agreeing to let Elon Musk purchase (INAUDIBLE). Do you have a response to that? And does the White House have any concern that this new agreement might have President Trump back on the platform?

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I`m not going to comment on a specific transaction. What I can tell you is it`s a general matter. No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about large social media platforms. What they have -- the power they have over our everyday lives. Has long argued that tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms they cause.


MADDOW: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki today responding to the news that billionaire CEO Elon Musk will buy Twitter and have it as his own personal toy.

Joining us now is Ben Collins. He`s a reporter covers this information, extremism, for NBC News.

Ben, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to see you.


MADDOW: Your beat is disinformation and extremism online. Is your beat going to get worse or better now?

COLLINS: It depends on what Elon Musk decides to do the service. Now, he said a couple of things. He`s taking a lot of populist positions on some user futures.

For example, the edit button. The much fabled edit button that is going to come to Twitter. He says that`s going to happen. Now, that can be positive or negative, we don`t know what that looks like in practice.

But he`s is also said a lot of things about free speech, and that`s great. Free speech is the fundamental principle of this country. But moderation is different than free speech. And moderation is hard. It`s extremely hard.

In fact, it`s an art, it`s not a science. It`s an unwinnable game. And he just got the worst job of the world. He`s now the king of content moderation on the world`s fastest moving use platform.

If you thought this was going to be fun, I don`t know what`s going on in his heart. It`s going to be a world of hurt.

MADDOW: I feel like, Ben, one of the things we`ve seen when other people have not taken over big media companies, but started their own niche media companies on this issue of free speech and not doing content moderation, and it being a wide open, wild west, and that`s the point of it, is that pretty quickly we get lots of ISIS beheading videos and child pornography and eating disorder dysmorphia photos and other things that, in some cases, are illegal. And in other cases, make the site, make the use of the site and possible for a normal humans with normal gag reflexes.

Is that -- A, is that fair?


And, B, how does Mr. Musk contend with -- how would Mr. Musk contend with that kind of previous experience with other people who have taken on the same task?

COLLINS: Yeah, that`s incredibly fair, from both sides of this, both sides of the spectrum here, from the extremist for inside, and from the civilian and enough side.

From the civilian side, you have stuff like TikTok and Twitter and Facebook. Here`s a content moderation challenge from TikTok a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago, a girl on TikTok was trying to make slim, just trying to make slim, and she make napalm by mistake. Now, is that free speech?

TikTok took that down. They found it, and they thought, this is very dangerous, very bad. We shouldn`t be teaching kids how to make napalm, that`s an issue.

I would bet Elon Musk`s Twitter is going to take that down. But I don`t know? I`m not really sure here what falls into that space? Especially now that he is taking the company private. Oversight on this thing will be right different.

And I will say, by the way, Rachel, everybody has a line. 4Chan, for example, everyone thinks that 4Chan is the worst site on the Internet, and it was a for long time. But they had a line. They had a direct line.

And that line, to them, was anomie depictions of child pornography. And they started taking that down, this was a few years ago. And that`s how got 8chan. 8chan said, we are going to create a space for literally everything is allowed. You know, if you want to do those animated depictions of child pornography, is allowed on 8chan. That was their line.

And that`s -- you know, 8chan became a place where people drop manifest those before, they did had mass shootings, it`s where Q from QAnon came from.

It became a full-on extremist website. That`s a place without a line. They ended up closing down, their owner, the guy who started it, he had a come to Jesus moment. He changed his mind about the entire idea.

His name is Fred Brennan, and he is a person who was fought for years now to take down 8chan.

So, everybody who things that they want complete, unfettered free speech on then, they meet their line eventually.

MADDOW: Ben, one last question for you. And business terms, is there anything we know about the terms of this deal that would restrict Elon Musk from any particular kinds of changes, or once the onset, and this is private entity, can you do literally anything you wants?

COLLINS: We don`t fully know that yet, but it is his private entity. There are a lot of people at this company who are afraid. There are people in the company, and they are afraid, but just for their jobs, but for the product they built. And the town square they built. They put a lot of work into this thing.

And they`re afraid of what`s going to happen to a guy who has never done content moderation before taking over this platform.

MADDOW: Ben Collins, a reporter covering disinformation, extremism and the Internet for NBC News, just an invaluable resource in our company -- Ben, I`m grateful for you every single time you post anything or rate anything for this company, your reporting is about to get even more important in the days ahead. Thank you so much for being here tonight.

COLLINS: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now into the final minute. The name of the winner will be appearing on your screen and under 60 seconds.

Emmanuel Macron, reelected, president of France.


MADDOW: Yesterday, President Emmanuel Macron was elected for another round of office. They put it in the polls like it was New Year`s Eve.

It wasn`t just French people who are weighted with braided breath for that result, of Macron winning that election. More importantly perhaps, his prudent friendly opponent from the neo-fascist party, Marine Le Pen, not winning that election, that has huge international implications, in particular, for the Ukraine war.

Marie Le Pen has, of course, signaled a desire to get France closer to Russia, to effectively pull France out of NATO. Now, really? But with her losing, that is no longer on the table.

The European country of Slovenia also had a national election yesterday, in which their own far-right leader, their prime minister, lost his seat in parliament. That is also good news for the prospect of European united and on Ukraine`s side in the war right now.

U.S. secretary of state and U.S. defense secretary Anthony Blinken and Lloyd Austin were in Kyiv this weekend and they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In addition to announcing further U.S. military aid for Ukraine, Blinken and Austin also said, the administration plans to send diplomats back into Ukraine in the coming days, plans to open the U.S. embassy backup in Kyiv within the next few weeks. President Biden today also made a new nomination for the U.S. to appoint a new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

And then, all this outreach to Ukraine tomorrow, the secretary general of the United Nations is going to Moscow to meet in person with Vladimir Putin directly. He is going to be pushing for a cease-fire of some kind in the Ukraine war.

Also tomorrow, 36 years to the day after the Chernobyl Soviet nuclear disaster, tomorrow, the International Atomic Energy Association, the UN`s agency, they are sending a delegation to Chernobyl in Ukraine to see how much damage Russian troops did there when they took it over and eluded the site at the onset of the war.


That trip you Chernobyl is going to be led by the head of the IAEA personally. The guy who runs the agency is going to physically be their leading that trip.

As Russia apparently is trying to open another front in another country as they are pressing on, beyond Ukraine now into Moldova, further into Europe, the world is staying united against him, and in some ways, pushing harder against him. Who knows if it matters to Putin, but his world is small now and still shrinking fast.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: One thing to keep an eye on and tomorrow`s news. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to host a big meeting tomorrow at the U.S. airbase in Germany, the Ramstein Air Base. The topic of the meeting is Ukraine. But check out the numbers here.

The U.S. has invited more than 40 different countries to participate in this meeting. It`s everybody from NATO and a lot of non-NATO countries as well. Again, the subject is Ukraine. This is the Biden administration trying to hold the whole western world together in support of Ukraine and against Putin as Putin tries to widen that war. Again, that`s tomorrow in Germany, worth keeping an eye on.

But that`s going to do it for us for tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow night.


Good evening, Lawrence.