Secret Service deleted text messages from day of Capitol attack. Interview with Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA). After trying to discredit a horrific story that turned out to be true, Republicans are now revealing the truth of where they really stand on abortion.
MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Alicia. It feels like a Sunday evening, you`re handing over to me. Good to see you.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: Indeed, I love it.
HASAN: Have a great rest of your Thursday night.
MENENDEZ: Have a good day, Mehdi.
HASAN: Have a great rest of your Thursday, not Sunday night.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We have breaking news about January the 6th, out just tonight. News about one of the key law enforcement agencies that has been at the center of several January 6th hearings so far.
Tonight, we are learning that the U.S. Secret Service erased text messages sent by Secret Service officials between January the 5th and January 6th of last year, of 2021. That is according to a letter sent to Congress by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, a government watchdog that oversees the Secret Service.
Importantly, the letter says those text messages were erased after -- after they were requested as part of an evaluation of what happened on January the 6th being conducted by that government watchdog. The letter notes that the Secret Service is claiming that the messages were erased as part of a device replacement program. But, again, it is important to note that the messages were erased only after they were requested by the inspector general. And the inspector also points out in this letter, that her office had been repeatedly rebuffed while trying to obtain these records.
A spokesman for the Secret Service responded to the release of this letter tonight, saying we take strong issue with these false claims, and I will be responding in detail shortly.
Well, it`s been two and a half hours after the, treat and we have not seen a statement from the Secret Service. You will recall that the Secret Service played a prominent role in some of the most gripping testimony that we have heard so far about January 6xth.
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Secret Service agents relayed to her that President Trump attacked an agent in his motorcade while trying to get them to drive him to the Capitol with the rest of his mob, something some Secret Service agents tried to deny off the record after that testimony went public, though they have yet to come forward and testify about it on the record. Funny that.
We also know from the testimony of a top aide to former Vice President Mike Pence that the then vice president actually refused to get into a car with members of the Secret Service during the Capitol attack because he feared they might take him away from being able to carry out his duty to count the Electoral College votes at the Capitol.
Now, we are learning that key records from that time have essentially vanished under circumstances that at least have the appearance of a potential cover-up. Tonight, the chair of the January 6 committee told "Axios" that the committee will attempt to reconstruct those missing text messages from the Secret Service as part of their investigation.
What should we make of this? I have just a person to ask tonight.
Joining us now is Carol Leonnig, investigative reporter for "The Washington Post" who has done some of the most preeminent reporting on the Secret Service. She`s the author of "Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service".
Carol, thank you for joining us tonight.
Let me start with the obvious question, what is your reaction to this story? You`re someone who knows the Secret Service more than most, erasing text messages?
CAROL LEONNIG, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I have to tell you, my first reaction upon reading the inspector general`s letter and our great crack team at the Washington Post getting a copy of it too, was, oh my gosh, not again. The Secret Service has had a history of unpleasant or unflattering records, sort of disappearing under cover of night when they may contain answers to questions that don`t look so good for the service or don`t look so good for the current or president at the time.
That happened actually in regards to John F. Kennedy`s assassination and I`ll get to that in a minute. But after I made some calls, after I did some digging, after I began getting on the horn, what I heard was that the Secret Service has what they view as a completely reasonable explanation for why this valuable evidence did in fact likely disappear into the ether and that was this if you will permit me just a moment.
They had an agency-wide plan for more than several years to begin in January 2021, conveniently or coincidentally, your choice, Mehdi, that was when they were going to start replacing a series of outdated cell phones with a new system and a new contract really, and that was supposed to help all of the agency personnel talk to each other more easily. A third of those devices had been replaced throughout the month of January 2021 by the time the inspector general`s office requested all of these telephonic documents, all this communication records.
And let me be clear, it`s only texts that are lost forever but it was not in the Secret Services view after they got the request. They began transferring people to new phones and staff -- while there`s a policy to back up your phones because they contain critical, important and must preserve government communications, a lot of Secret Service or personnel just don`t back it up.
HASAN: So I got a new phone recently and so did my daughter, and we had trouble backing up our stuff as you do when you`re switching iPhones. But I`m not in the Secret Service and the inspector general does say in the letter that even before this erasure happened, there had been attempts to rebuff her attempts to get some of these records.
You mentioned that the agency has a history of these kind of -- I don`t know what we want to call it -- inconvenient episodes. You mentioned the Kennedy era.
LEONNIG: Yes. For my book "Zero Fail", I learned about an episode that`s never really been reported in which a series of boxes and only the boxes that contained the juicy bits so to speak disappeared from the Secret Service archives at the same time that a committee that sort of replaced the Warren Commission, if you will, a committee of Congress was investigating the very high likelihood and a series of reports that Secret Service agents and headquarters had received numerous warnings and early red flags that Kennedy was being targeted by people who wanted to shoot him from a high spot in a building, and so that they were on alert long before they entered Daley Plaza in Dallas on that fateful day that Kennedy was killed.
The boxes of records that contained this information, the warnings out of Chicago, the warnings out of Miami from a confidential informant, these boxes the Secret Service embarrassingly had to report had been destroyed as part of normal protocol. It happened to be right when this committee was seeking those records to find out how much the Secret Service knew about the threat to Kennedy before he was actually killed.
HASAN: We will have to see if history is repeating itself in terms of erasure of records. I would also note that some of those agents haven`t turned up to the committee to rebut Cassidy Hutchinson as they said they would, which is also fascinating.
Carol, and we`re out of time but appreciate you coming to join us tonight with your latest reporting for "The Washington Post". Thank you so much.
LEONNIG: It`s my pleasure. Thank you, Mehdi.
HASAN: As we look -- thanks -- as we look at these various strands of the investigation into January 6 and what may become of them, it`s worth thinking back to 18 months ago when Joe Biden`s nomination of Merrick Garland to be attorney general was being widely celebrated as a canny and deeply gratifying move. For starters, there was the whole bringing seriousness and stability back to the Justice Department if you`re into that sort of thing. But also the political and even moral satisfaction that came with the Garland nomination, that was palpable.
This was the guy Republicans had refused a hearing to when President Obama nominated him to the Supreme Court, the guy Republicans screwed over to steal a Supreme Court seat and here was President Biden rubbing it in Republicans faces while also righting the wrong that had been done to Garland himself. Bold move, classy even.
But that said, some people have found themselves wondering if maybe giving the job of attorney general as a kind of consolation prize to Merrick Garland wasn`t the best move when what the country needed was an A.G. ready and willing and able to prosecute an attack on our democracy, including possibly prosecuting the former president of the United States.
To be clear, no one is disputing that Merrick Garland is an accomplished judge, a brilliant legal thinker and by all accounts a good guy. But as the months have ticked by since the January 6th attack more than 18 months, there has been little sign that his Justice Department is preparing to prosecute anyone beyond the foot soldiers who carried out the attack itself, the one exception came earlier this year when the deputy attorney general told CNN that the Justice Department was looking into the fake electors scheme in which Donald Trump and his allies tried to overturn Joe Biden`s win by submitting fake Trump elector certificates from states that Biden won.
Federal investigators carried out searches last month of Trump attorney John Eastman who pushed the fake elector scheme and former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark who sought to have Republican state legislatures overturn Biden`s victory in various swing states. So it`s a start. But as recently as yesterday, the chair of the January 6 investigation said that the fake elector scheme is the only part of their investigation that the Justice Department has expressed specific interest in.
And look, it`s not just me cable news host expressing frustration with the pace and seriousness of Merrick Garland`s January investigations.
Reportedly, President Biden himself is frustrated. From "The New York Times" this April, quote, Mr. Biden confided to his inner circle that he believed former President Donald j Trump was a threat to democracy and should be prosecuted according to two people familiar with his comments and while the president has never communicated his frustrations directly to Mr. Garland, he has said privately that he wanted Mr. Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who is willing to take decisive action over the events of January 6th.
In addition to President Biden, it`s also former DOJ prosecutor and Mueller report investigator Andrew Weissmann who wrote this week that the Garland Justice Department`s myopic focus on the Capitol attack itself is preventing it from prosecuting the broader plot to overturn the election a plot orchestrated by Trump. It`s also DOJ officials from the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations going public this week with their insistence that the Justice Department must prosecute Trump. And it`s also January the 6 committee member and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I certainly think that that the Justice Department has more than enough evidence to begin an investigation involving the former president and whether they`re ultimately believed they have proof beyond reasonable doubt, I think it`s too early to say, but I certainly believe there`s evidence now that would be hard for the department to ignore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: Now, there may be some movement happening at the Justice Department in response to recent revelations. "The New York Times" reports this week that the explosive testimony from Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson jolted top Justice Department officials into discussing Donald Trump`s criminal culpability. And the January 6 committee says it has referred the Justice Department a case of potential witness tampering by Donald Trump himself who in the wake of Cassidy Hutchinson`s testimony, allegedly tried to call one of his White House support staff members who was talking to the committee.
And here`s the thing: there`s a lot of talk about how it would be unprecedented for the Justice Department to charge a former president. But you know what else is unprecedented? That the former president might also be the next president.
And as if to drive home that point, today, Donald Trump started heavily, heavily hinting to reporters that he plans to announce another ram for president this fall, possibly ahead of the midterm elections, which among other things seems like a pretty naked attempt by Trump to get the Justice Department to back off.
With Merrick Garland`s well-known aversion to appearing political, Trump may be daring Biden`s Justice Department to indict a declared presidential rival to Joe Biden. But there may come a point and some say we`ve already reached it when there will be so much evidence pointing to Trump`s criminal culpability, it will simply be untenable for Merrick Garland to avoid investigating the former president directly especially as the list of possible crimes that Trump could be charged with keeps growing.
Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade has previously laid out a potential prosecution of Trump on two charges, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of an official proceeding. Now, she`s raised the possibility of yet another charge, one you might not have thought about, manslaughter. She writes on Twitter, quote: I think a strong case can be made that Trump committed five counts of manslaughter on January the 6 by recklessly causing the unintended deaths of others.
And she adds, quote, DOJ, you up yet?
Very good question.
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and now a professor at the University of Michigan law school.
Barb, it`s great to see you. Thank you for joining us.
Like many legal experts, you`ve argued that Trump could and should face charges of conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of an official proceeding, all of the election related offences. But now you`ve added five possible charges of manslaughter to that list. That`s a pretty big deal. Guide us through your thought process. How would you prosecute Trump for manslaughter?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know what I`ll be looking for when we have the next January 6th hearing next week, the committee has said they`re going to focus on this idea about what was occurring at the White House during those three hours, the 187 minutes of inaction.
And it may be that the Justice Department is ultimately able to connect Trump to the intentional attack on the Capitol, but I think a manslaughter charge could be brought even if it was unintentional, even if he was not connected to the mob.
There`s really three elements to proving a manslaughter case. One is an act or omission, the second is causation, and the third is the requisite intent. And under the Washington, D.C. -- District of Columbia statute, it`s really just undue care. So it`s really a gross negligence standard.
And so, during the time that Donald Trump sat there for three hours and people urged him to do something to stop this, he didn`t send in the National Guard, he didn`t go on in television in a -- in the briefing room to make a statement. He didn`t even tweet that they should stand down. In fact, he tweeted just the opposite about how Mike Pence didn`t have the courage to do what he needed to do.
HASAN: Yes. I think all of those things could put together the elements of a manslaughter case and it has the tidiness of being a simple charge that`s easy to understand. It doesn`t have all this complexity of intent. People died and he could have stopped it and he failed to do that. That`s a manslaughter case.
HASAN: I`m just going to pause for a moment there. It`s a -- it`s a Thursday night and we`re sitting on live TV discussing whether the former president could be prosecuted for manslaughter. What -- what have we come to as a country, it`s astonishing.
Let me ask you this though: the Department of Justice, you`ve made clear -- I`ve made clear in other shows, moving far too slowly. What do you think the DOJ should be doing? If you were the A.G., what would you be doing right now?
MCQUADE: Well, I don`t want to suggest that I know what`s going on inside there, and it may be that they`re doing a lot more work than is apparent to the eyes. But I think a few things that may be happening is flipping cooperators who are members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers to try to connect up Roger Stone, Donald Trump and others to the physical attack on the Capitol. I think that`s useful. I would also be -- after prosecuting and convicting Steve Bannon, I`d put him in the grand jury.
There, if he tries his shenanigans of pretending he doesn`t know that he can show up or asserting executive privilege, he can be jailed for refusing to comply. He can also be given use immunity so that is he`s not exempt from prosecution but he is exempt from having his statements used against him, but he can be compelled to testify, and answer the questions about why he said tomorrow, all hell is going to break loose.
Those are just some of the things that I think they should be looking at right now and I am not going to suggest they`re not. I think they`re smart. I think they`re diligent, and I think they`re brave. And so I am hopeful that what we can`t see doesn`t mean it`s not occurring.
HASAN: A good mix of praise and advice there for DOJ prosecutors. I do hope they`re watching tonight and they`re listening to you.
Former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barb McQuade, always a pleasure. Thank you for taking time out.
MCQUADE: Thank you, Mehdi.
HASAN: Much more ahead here tonight. In just a moment, we will be joined live by one of the members of the January 6 committee who will be leading the next public hearing. Stay with us.
HASAN: Mark your calendars for one week from tonight, that is when the next January the 6th public hearing is set to be held, according to NBC News. That hearing is expected to be led by Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria and Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. They will lead a hearing focused on a key part of the January 6 saga that we have not heard much about yet.
What Donald Trump did and did not do during the 187 minutes from when the mob storm the Capitol to the moment he finally begrudgingly told them go home, we love you. You`re very special.
Joining us now is Congresswoman Elaine Luria who as I said will be co- leading the next hearing.
Congresswoman, thanks for joining me tonight.
I want to start by getting your reaction to the breaking news we got tonight about the Secret Service allegedly deleting text messages sent on January the 5th and the 6th. A lot of our viewers hearing this story tonight might think, sounds like a cover-up.
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Well, I`ll say this is obviously very concerning both in my role as a member of the Homeland Security Committee to which the letter was sent, as well as the January 6th committee.
It`s critical that we have all of the government records, including these types of records that document the events of that day.
So we plan to work with the inspector general, get to the bottom of this and try to determine you know what the situation is with these records that have been requested by the committee for some time.
HASAN: So, Congressman, what can you tell us about this next hearing, about what we should expect to hear about Donald Trump`s inaction during that crucial period when the Capitol where you`re standing right now was being attacked?
LURIA: Well, as you mentioned, we`re going to focus on that minutes. So it`s really from the time that the former president stepped off the stage at the ellipse when he gave this cry to essentially follow him to the Capitol and many of the people who were in attendance thought he was going himself until the time at 4:17 p.m., which was the time when as will show he rather begrudgingly went into the Rose Garden and gave an address to the nation.
We look at that as truly a dereliction of duty. He as the commander-in- chief, the only person whose duty in the Constitution is clearly outlined to ensure that the laws of the nation are faithfully executed, he didn`t do that on that day. And you know, myself, Mr. Kinzinger were both veterans. We both served in uniform. Mr. Kinzinger still serves in the National Guard.
And you know, that oath that we take to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic is really significant and coming from that perspective and understanding, you know, what someone who`s essentially in charge has a responsibility in this case to ensure the safety of our nation, to ensure that laws are implemented, like he did nothing. He did not act, even at the urging of so many people around him. So, we`re going to go into a lot of detail about that timeline.
HASAN: And your fellow committee member, Congressman Kinzinger, says the committee has not ruled out attempting to get testimony from the former president and former vice president. Is that your understanding as well? And how would the committee if so go about trying to get that testimony, getting Donald Trump under oath to be cross-examined by Liz Cheney, I`d pay good money to watch video of that.
LURIA: Well, what I`ll say is I`ll reiterate two things that the committee has said all along. First, we don`t talk explicitly about future witnesses or people who have spoken to the committee. And the second, I`ll reiterate what Chairman Thompson said at the very beginning of this, the committee is going to go where we need to go to find the evidence in order to perform our duty as a congressional committee, get to the bottom of the events that happened that day.
So that hasn`t changed since a year and a half ago, or a year ago since the committee was formed.
HASAN: Congresswoman, my last guest, I`m not sure if you heard her, law professor and former prosecutor Barbara McQuade, was making the case that Donald Trump could potentially be charged in her view with manslaughter too for the events of January the 6th.
What do you make of that as someone who is investigating this case?
LURIA: Well, you know, what I would say is that her assessment -- it`s chilling that we could even be having this conversation for that type of allegation, to get someone who was formerly the president of the United States. I`m not a lawyer as she is and I think she`s studied this carefully.
But what I would say is the bottom line about this is that no one`s above the law. So our investigation is putting the information out there, that we`ve found through our investigative work, a thousand witnesses, and you know that information, you know, we know will be used by the committee to make legislative recommendations prevent something like this in the future, but also, you know, Merrick Garland told us the Department of Justice is listening, and so, I hope that they will continue to pay close attention through this next hearing as well.
HASAN: So, you mentioned Merrick Garland, that is the big question. Where oh where is Merrick Garland?
Your fellow committee member Adam Schiff has repeatedly gone on camera to say we`ve given enough material, there`s more than enough there to start a case, to start a criminal investigation of the president himself.
"The New York Times" reported earlier this week that the DOJ has been playing catch up. They were shocked by the Cassidy Hutchinson testimony. They don`t really talk about Donald Trump in their internal meetings.
What do you make of the DOJ`s performance so far if I can put it that way? There -- the slowness that a lot of people in your party seem upset with?
LURIA: What I would say is that, you know, we don`t as the committee have a lot of insight into you know where the department of justice is in their current investigations. I`ll tell you, it seems like it`s ratcheting up in the sense of going after these people, the domestic violent extremists who are charged now with seditious conspiracy and we know that they`re listening. We know that they`re watching.
And you know, as an American, I want to have faith, the fact that they`re going to take the information that we`re putting out there as the committee and they`re going to act on it because again no one can be above the law and, you know, we need to hold everyone accountable.
HASAN: But do you agree with Congressman Schiff that your committee has given the DOJ more than enough material now to start a criminal investigation?
LURIA: I think so and I`ve been asked a lot of times, you know, what is this -- you know, the future prospect of some sort of criminal referral from the committee. I`m not going to speak on behalf of the committee. We haven`t made a decision yet of how or if we will do something officially like that.
But, you know, from my personal opinion, I think we have a duty to make sure that if we have information about crimes we believe to be committed, that we pass that on to the appropriate people.
HASAN: Last quick question. We`re out of time, but I got to ask. Is next week`s hearing that`s believed to be happening Thursday night prime time, is that going to be the last public hearing from the committee? There`s talk of another one later in the summer.
LURIA: What I`ll say is the you know a prospect for hearings is not over until our investigation is complete and it`s certainly not complete. You`ve seen as we had the -- you know, short notice scheduled hearing with Cassidy Hutchinson, that people are still coming forward and we`re hearing from more people every day.
So we had planned out a framework for this first series of hearings, but I`ll say it`s a framework for the first series of hearings. There`s certainly um the possibility that, you know, we will have information to present in the form of a hearing again after the one next week.
HASAN: Congresswoman Elaine Luria, member of the January 6 Committee, thank you for your time tonight. Appreciate it.
LURIA: Thank you.
HASAN: Up next, after trying to discredit a horrific story that turned out to be true, Republicans are now revealing the truth of where they really stand on abortion.
Stay with us.
HASAN: Tomorrow marks three weeks since the Supreme Court handed down the decision in that case that overturned Roe v. Wade. On that evening on June 24th, a federal judge ruled that Ohio`s six-week abortion ban which had been enjoined for three years could go into effect now that Roe was overturned. And with the stroke of a pen, abortion effectively became illegal in the state of Ohio. If you are over six weeks pregnant, tough luck, you can`t get an abortion in Ohio.
Just three days after that ban went into effect, a child abuse doctor had a 10-year-old rape victim in her office, just 10 years old. The child was six weeks and three days pregnant. She was just three days too late to get an abortion.
In Ohio, there is no exception for rape. So if that ten-year-old got an abortion in Ohio, she would be breaking the law. That doctor took action. She called a colleague in Indiana, seeking help for her patient and that doctor said she could help.
So the young girl traveled to neighboring Indiana that currently has a 22- week abortion ban and received the health care she needed. The 10-year-old story made national headlines when the doctor in Indiana who performed the abortion came forward to tell the ten-year-old story. She went on the record to share what happens when abortion is outlawed to tell her patients story to show what Republicans in Ohio and on the Supreme Court had just done.
The gut-wrenching story even caught the attention of President Biden and he highlighted the case when signing an executive order aimed at protecting reproductive rights.
And like clockwork, Republicans and conservatives threw their arms in the air and declared it`s not true.
"The Wall Street Journal`s" editorial board published an op-ed titled, quote, an abortion story too good to confirm.
Here`s "The New York Post", quote, the 10-year-old rape victims abortion leaves a number of glaring questions.
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio tweeted: Another lie. Anyone surprised?
Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said, it was quote literal fake news from the liberal media.
Republicans ran with the story they were obsessed with it, as they declared this is just some made-up liberal talking point.
But to Republicans great surprise the terrible story turns out to be true. A 27-year-old man confessed to raping the child on at least two occasions and he was arrested on Tuesday and charged with rape. But let`s take a step back here for a second, even if the story was not true, something just like it is still what Republicans are okay with, some would argue, Republicans want. This is what it looks like when you overturn Roe v. Wade, 10-year-old rape victims will be forced to carry babies to term when abortion is illegal no matter what.
Republicans know that to be true. They know it and congressman -- Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell drove that point home in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on abortion today questioning, the Republicans anti-abortion witness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Ms. Foster, you think a ten-year-old would choose to carry?
CATHERINE GLENN FOSTER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, AMERICANS UNITED FOR LIFE: In the ten-year-old case, first of all, the Ohio --
SWALWELL: My question is, would a ten-year-old choose to carry a baby?
FOSTER: In the Ohio case, the Ohio attorney general said that an abortion would have been justified.
SWALWELL: Focus on the question, please? Would a ten-year-old choose to carry a baby?
FOSTER: I cannot --
SWALWELL: Do you think a 10-year-old should choose to carry a baby?
FOSTER: I believe it would probably impact her life, and so therefore, it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion.
SWALWELL: Wait, it would not be an abortion if a ten-year-old with her parents made the decision not to have a baby that was a result of a rape?
FOSTER: If a ten-year-old became pregnant as a result of rape and it was threatening her life, then that`s not an abortion. So it would not fall under any abortion restriction in our nation.
SWALWELL: Miss. Warbelow, are you familiar with disinformation?
SARAH WARBELOW, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Yes, I am.
SWALWELL: Did you just hear some disinformation?
WARBELOW: I guess I heard some very significant disinformation.
SWALWELL: Why don`t you tell me about that?
WARBELOW: Yes, an abortion is a procedure. It`s a medical procedure that individuals undergo for a wide range of circumstances, including because they have been sexually assaulted, raped in the case of the 10 year old. It doesn`t matter whether or not there is a statutory exemption. It is still a medical procedure that is understood to be an abortion.
Beyond that, I think it`s also important to note that there is no exception for the life or the health of the mother in the Ohio law. That`s why that 10 year old had to cross state lines in order to receive an abortion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: They may be trying to deny that a 10 year old child being denied health care after being raped is not an abortion, but we know that is not true because in essence, this is the GOP position now. We are okay forcing a ten-year-old child to give birth after being raped. The attorney general of Indiana said he is now looking into potentially prosecuting the doctor who provided the abortion and, quote, gathering evidence.
Joining us now is Dr. Jennifer Conti, an adjunct clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Dr. Conti, thank you for being here tonight.
We have been hearing some odd arguments from some anti-abortion advocates that the medical procedure of an abortion somehow does not count as an abortion in certain circumstances. We heard that exchange between Congressman Swalwell and an anti-abortion activist in which the activist tried to claim that in the case of a ten-year-old pregnant rape victim, the pregnancy would, quote, probably impact her life and so therefore it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion.
What do you make of this decision to redefine abortion in this way?
DR. JENNIFER CONTI, OBSTETRICIAN-GYNECOLOGIST: Well, thank you for having me on. I think that I`ve watched and rewatched that clip countless times today because the mental gymnastics that these people are doing in their head in order to justify what is and isn`t an abortion is just insane.
And I can tell you, as an abortion provider, as someone who cares for people needing abortion, that story out of Ohio is not one of a kind. Young people, children need abortion sometimes, so that they can keep on being children.
And you know, you may try to deny it but it happens because of all the different ways that we systemically fail people in this country. I like many of my colleagues who are trained in complex family planning have cared for young pregnant girls seeking abortion and we would absolutely provide the exact same care that Dr. Bernard provided this child in Ohio because unlike some legislators, we don`t cherry pick who we help.
HASAN: And, Dr. Conti, the Ohio abortion ban that reportedly prompted the ten-year-old girl from Ohio to travel for an abortion to Indiana makes exceptions for the life of the mother in very narrow cases like preeclampsia, diabetes and inevitable miscarriage and other comparable medical dangers. The law does not make exceptions for incest or rape, including the rape of a child. It also does not say a woman`s mental health qualifies for an exception.
Given the narrow exceptions under that law, how can anyone argue that the law does not outlaw abortions for ten-year-old rape victims?
CONTI: The -- again, I think the nuances that people think are protective in these laws are absurd. This is why abortion restrictions are harmful and this is why exceptions, quote/unquote, to abortion bans are meaningless because let`s take this example, if you are the parent of a 10 year old who has just been raped and impregnated.
And you`ve just heard that your state doesn`t allow abortions after six weeks, you don`t have time to dig through the weeds of fine print exceptions. Your energy and your focus is on finding the person who did this to your child and on getting her the fastest help possible. Exceptions are meaningless because of these nuances.
HASAN: One last question. The Indiana attorney general told Fox yesterday that he is going to investigate the doctor who provided the 10 year old rape victim from Ohio with an abortion. He suggested that doctor did not properly report the terminated pregnancy of a minor. We now know she did report it to the Indiana Department of Health and Child Services.
But what is your broader reaction to that kind of intimidation as an OB- GYN. What kind of chilling effect do threats like that from people in power have for doctors who now provide the procedure still.
CONTI: I think if you are in this line of work, you sort of take on that there are inherent risks whether real or imagined. But this -- if this exact example is nothing but a sleight of hand like these people realize that they`re focusing on the wrong thing here. They`re focusing on the fact that rape is happening to children in their state and that they aren`t supporting people who are pregnant and don`t want to be, and instead are using that doctor, Dr. Bernard, who`s a colleague, to escape or as a scapegoat and they`re not fooling anyone.
HASAN: Dr. Jennifer Conti, we`ll have to leave it there. Adjunct clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Stanford University School of Medicine -- thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
CONTI: Thank you.
HASAN: Still ahead, how a law passed by Republicans in Georgia may end up benefiting Democrats in November.
And President Biden made a few promises when he was running for president, but will he hold on to all of them? That story is next.
HASAN: Why is President Biden going to visit a man who is described as a killer and a psychopath? Those are not my words, those are the words of a former Saudi spy chief describing the current Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, also known as MBS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAAD ALJABRI, FORMER SAUDI SPY CHIEF: I am here to sound the alarm. About a psychopath killer in the Middle East, with infinite resources who poses a threat to his people, to the Americans, and to the planet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: A threat to his people, the Americans, and to the planet.
Back in 2020, MBS detained members of his own family who perceived as potential rivals for his throne. That, of course, came a few short years after MBS locked hundreds of the most powerful people in Saudi Arabia, locked them in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton, and subjected them to, quote, torture and physical abuse.
And earlier this year, MBS and his government executed 81 people in a single day in what was largely seen as a show of force. There is also, of course, the brutal murder and dismemberment of "Washington Post" columnist and Virginia resident, Jamal Khashoggi, which U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was approved directly and personally by MBS.
Oh, and let`s not forget the Saudi military siege and bombardment of Yemen, where MBS has spent years depriving people of food, clean water, and medicine, in his war with the rebels. But if all of that is not enough to convince you, hey, this guy is a bad guy, take President Joe Biden`s own word for it. Here he is at a Democratic presidential debate in 2019.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, DEBATE MODERATOR: President Trump has not punished senior Saudi leaders. Would you?
JOE BIDEN, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, and I said at the time, Khashoggi was, in fact, murdered and dismembered, and I believe by the order of the crown prince. I would make it clear, we are not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them. We are going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them the pariah that they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: Look, even by Saudi standards, Mohammad Bin Salman is a truly brutal ruler, the worst of the worst. So, why oh why is President Biden heading to Saudi Arabia tomorrow to hold a bilateral meeting not just with the Saudi Arabian King, Salman, who was reportedly isolated and in ill health. But also the country`s de facto ruler, his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?
Why when asked about the meeting today by reporters, why would President Biden not commit to bring up to Khashoggi`s murder in that meeting? And why after explicitly saying during the presidential campaign that he would not sell weapons to Saudi Arabia? Why did it is the Biden administration discussing lifting a ban on the U.S. selling offensive weapons to the Saudis?
Whatever we get from this meeting, maybe a slight fall in gas prices, is it really worth selling out the family of Jamal Khashoggi, the people of Yemen, and our own moral authority and values? Is it?
HASAN: Georgia`s election cycle is on track to be one of the most expensive in state history, and Democrats have an advantage, thanks in large part to state Republicans and unintended consequences.
Last, year Republicans passed a law that allows leadership committees to fund-raise without limits, in the hopes of getting Brian Kemp a head start in fund raising for the second term. But Democrats have been taking advantage of this quite successfully. This week, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock disclosed that he raised $17.2 million in the past three months. More than double the hall of his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker.
As for the Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams, she has raised more than $22 million over the past two months, well ahead of Brian Kemp`s office. Challenges in down ballot races for secretary of state, state attorney general, are also raising incumbents.
Democratic candidates are the only ones with working with bigger budgets in the election cycle. This week, a group of black clergy in Georgia unveiled Faith Works, a project with a $2.6 million budget with a goal of coordinating get out the vote operations at more than 1,000 churches statewide. It`s their response to Georgia`s new voting law that restricts absentee ballots in drop boxes, and includes other provisions that largely affect voters of colors. Their initiative gives small grants to churches to help fund existing efforts like Souls to the Polls, and phone banking.
The group also plans to hold voter education program and social media advertising campaigns to help people navigate the challenges created by Georgia`s new voting law. It is a new look for an old fights, that black churches have taken on before. These leaders, who have dubbed themselves the faith adventures, acknowledge that it has gone that much harder.
Here is what Bishop Reginald Jackson, one of the founders of Faith Works told "The New York Times". Quote, faith leaders across the state worked ourselves to a frenzy to make sure that we got out the vote in 2020. We have to work doubly hard to overcome the barriers put in place now for the 2022 election.
Bishop Reginald Jackson joins me now. He`s head clergy man overseeing more than 500 African Methodist Episcopal churches In the state of Georgia, and as I mentioned, a founding leader of Faith Works.
Bishop Jackson, thank you for making time for us tonight.
Black churches have a long history tied to mobilizing around voter rights. What made Faith Works decide to take it in this direction with fundraising, and an operation center?
BISHOP REGINALD T. JACKSON, GEORGIA AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Well, the fact of the matter is that following the 2020 election, as a way to punish Blacks because of a large turnout, SB202 was passed in Georgia and other states, a similar registration to make it harder for Blacks and people of color to vote. In response, we had to find a way to make sure we our people, number one, informed, number two, mobilized, and number three, organized to vote.
And that`s what Faith Works seeks to be about. This is a historic time in our nation, when our very democracy is at risk. In these times demand unprecedented actions, that`s what Faith Works is.
HASAN: So, Bishop, Georgia saw a record turnout for its primary elections in May. A lot of people argued that, see, voting restrictions, and the new voting law is not stopping people from turning out.
How do you respond to that argument, especially from the right?
JACKSON: Well, the fact of the matter, there was a record turnout in early voting not because of, but in spite of SB 202. Faith leaders in Georgia, again, we worked extremely hard to make sure that we got people out to vote during early voting. We wanted to send a message that Blacks are resilient people, and the more that you tell us about where we can`t do, we will try to make it -- the more determined that we are going to be to do it.
And so, those who say that this demonstrates that SB 202 was not as damaging as it was said, that is absolutely not true. The fact of the matter is, we had to work ahead to get the vote out, and additionally, we still had to see what happens in November of this year.
HASAN: Quick last question, we`ve got 30 seconds left. "The Times" reports that your group held a call with the adjusted AG for civil rights. What`s supporter you getting from the DOJ, if any?
JACKSON: Well, our concern really was that the Justice Department had to look at actors publicly known by the RNC, to target Democratic and minority voting areas indifferent states across the six or seven targeted battleground states. We want to make sure that there is no inappropriate legal action to make sure it is harder to vote.
HASAN: Bishop Reginald Jackson, one of the founding leaders of Faith Works, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow, and I will see you on my show "The Mehdi Hasan Show" over on Peacock and on Sunday nights here on MSNBC.
Now, though, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.