The Oakland County Sheriff says a fugitive manhunt is underway for the parents of the shooter in Oakland High School who in an unprecedented move were charged earlier in the day with involuntary manslaughter. Jeffrey Clark`s meeting with the January 6 panel was postponed due to his medical condition. John Eastman, the lawyer behind the Trump memo pleads the fifth with the January 6 panel. According to Reuters, Freeman went on to quit her job and Moss took time off, now, the two of them are suing that original right-wing publication Gateway Pundit for defamation.
FRANK SCHAEFFER, AMERICAN AUTHOR: And the fact is that my learning curve is the learning curve that the evangelicals have refused to take, and they are not pro-life they are anti-women.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Indeed, indeed. And I wish we had more time. Frank schaeffer, thank you so much and thank you for writing that apology. We appreciate you.
That is tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN.
KAREN MCDONALD, PROSECUTOR, OAKLAND COUNTY: A teacher the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cell phone during class.
HAYES: Jaw-dropping allegations in the Michigan school shooting.
MCDONALD: They were after Jennifer Crumbley exchanged messages about incident with her son on that day stating, "LOL, I`m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."
HAYES: Tonight, why both parents are being charged with manslaughter.
Then, the author of the coup memo will plead the Fifth as the January 6 Committee hints about public hearings. Congressman Adam Schiff is here. Plus --
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know the internet? You know what was trending on the internet? Where`s Ruby because they thought she`d be in jail.
HAYES: The new lawsuit from election workers suing after becoming a target of right-wing media. And what we know about what happened in the first week of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial when ALL IN" starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. A lot going on right now at this moment and today when there was a remarkable announcement out of Oakland county Michigan. That`s of course the site of the latest school shooting in America, the 29th this year, as best as we can tell.
The shooter in that shooting, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley is in police custody after killing 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling, and wounding seven more people, three of whom are still in the hospital tonight.
Today, in a groundbreaking move, prosecutors charged the shooter`s parents for their alleged role in the massacre. The shooter`s father Jason Crumbley purchased the murder weapon for his son days before the shooting. And in a press conference this afternoon, the prosecutor laid out some of the evidence against the couple.
I`m going to play you what she said. It is a very long piece of sound, but the details are truly stunning. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDONALD: On November 21, 21, a teacher at the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cell phone during class and reported the same to school officials. Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day stating, "LOL, I`m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."
On November 30, 21, the morning of the shooting, the next day, Ethan Crumbley`s teacher came upon a note on Ethan`s desk which alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cell phone. The note contained the following: A drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, "The thoughts won`t stop. Help me. "
In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, "Blood everywhere." Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words "My life is useless." And to the night -- right of that are the words "The world is dead."
As a result, James and Jennifer Crumbley were immediately summoned to the school. Both James and Jennifer crumbly failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located. James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son. He was returned to the classroom.
When the news of the active shooter at Oxford High School had been made public, Jennifer Crumbley texted to her son at 11:22 -- I`m sorry, at 1:22 p.m. "Ethan, don`t do it." At 1:37 p.m. James Crumbley called 911 reporting that a gun was missing from his house and he believed his son may be the shooter.
HAYES: So, if you caught all that, the parents, the Crumbleys were warned by the school twice that their son was demonstrating concerning behavior, indeed the most concerning behavior imaginable including the second time, the morning of the shooting, with a drawing, with a bullet and blood that said help me and they were called into the school, and they didn`t act.
And apparently, no one else did either. They didn`t inquire as whether his son had brought the semi-automatic handgun they purchased for him to school. Again, these are the facts as the prosecutor laid them out. The couple are now being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter each.
They fled their home after the shooting, according to their attorney, which may explain why they appeared at their son`s arraignment hearing earlier this week via Zoom from their vehicle. Right now, as I speak to you, there is an FBI manhunt for the couple. They missed their arraignment this evening. And as of now, the couple is still at large.
While the specific facts alleged here are some of the most egregious I have ever encountered in reporting on these stories which has sadly been way too common. It`s also the case that it`s not uncommon at all for school shooters to obtain their guns from family members.
As Everytown for Gun Safety reports, "Evidence suggests that most school shooters obtain their guns from family, relatives, or friends. Every town was available able to identify the gun source and 45 percent of incidents that involve shooters under 18 years old, a total of 126, most of these, 74 obtain the guns from their home or homes or relatives or friends.
It`s not that surprising of finding. The logic makes sense. Many school shooters are too young to legally purchase weapons themselves, so they take the guns their parents or relatives have laying around the house, or in this case, the guns their parents bought for them.
As the gun safety group Giffords reports, "4.6 million minors in the U.S. live in homes with at least one loaded unlocked firearm." 4.6 million, an enormous risk to safety completely independent from the specter of this specific kind of horror. And while 30 states plus D.C. have some sort of law on the books to punish parents negligently storing firearms, 20 do not. Some of those state laws that aren`t in the books are quite modest like Georgia`s law which only prevents parents or guardians from directly giving a gun to a minor.
Notably, as Giffords reports, "There are no child access prevention laws at the federal level and federal law does not generally require gun owners to safely store their guns. Of course, even something as transparently sensible as guns should be stored so children can`t access them is something that the gun groups and Republicans would oppose.
Just this week, Senator Chris Murphy, Democratic of Connecticut, a longtime supporter of gun safety legislation after 20 elementary school children were slaughtered by a gunman in his state, again tried to push forward a common-sense gun safety bill in the Senate, citing the Michigan shooting for his renewed sense of urgency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): This only happens in the United States of America. There`s no other nation in the high-income world in which kids worry about being shot when they go to school. It happens here in America because we choose to let it happen. We`re not unlucky. This is purposeful. This is a choice made by the United States Senate to sit on our hands and do nothing while kids die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The senator then asked for unanimous consent to proceed to his bill, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa blocked Murphy`s request. He was clearly unfazed by his decision to do so, tweeting his picture -- this picture of him enjoying some dessert shortly after. I hope it was delicious.
Back in Michigan today though, there was a touching moment of solidarity from the community. Oakland residents gathered outside of the hospital so that when the body of victim Justin Shilling who was an organ donor is moved for surgery that his family can look down and see the support for them.
NBC News Correspondent Shaquille Brewster is in Oxford, Michigan covering this story, and he joins me now. Shaquille, gosh, so many questions but right now the most pressing one is the status of the parents -- the lawyer at first said no, don`t worry they`re not on the lam, but all indications we`ve gotten thus far seem to be that they are. What is your understanding from your reporting?
SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, our understanding is that this manhunt is still well underway. And we did contact the undersheriff of this county and he says that he still has not been in contact with the attorneys of those two parents, the now fugitives as they`re being called.
Now, you mentioned, we`ve been receiving a lot of conflicting information throughout the -- throughout the afternoon. Initially, when we heard the charges were filed around noon, apparently there was some arrangement to have those parents turn themselves in by 2:00 p.m. Instead, by 3:00 p.m., there was a message that went out to law enforcement to be on the lookout for these fugitives.
And as of last check, they have not turned themselves in despite the attorneys saying they`re not on the run, that they simply left the state out of concern for their own safety and will be returning back for their arraignment, the arraignment that was originally scheduled for 4:00 p.m.
So, right now, it`s still a very active manhunt, Chris. It involves the FBI, it involves the U.S. Marshals, and it also involves the county sheriff.
HAYES: Yes, the U.S. Marshals tweeting about I think about two hours ago that they were now joining this case and going to be looking after to find these individuals. I imagine there`s tremendous and profound grief, shock in the community around that high school there. And there are still three individuals, three victims who are in the hospital, right?
BREWSTER: That`s exactly right. And you know, this evening, there`s another prayer vigil that was being held to honor the four victims, the four students who were killed in this shooting. And you mentioned that display with the body of Justin Shilling as he was being sent off to essentially donate his organs. And the crowd that amassed in that area, you know, there is that sense of grief, there`s also that sense of frustration from multiple people especially as we got the details from the prosecutor earlier today.
You know, the reason why -- she explained the reason why she was charging these parents is because she says they were the only two individuals who knew that there was concern about this 15-year-old, who knew that he had depictions of killing people, and who knew he had the means to do it because he had access to the gun that they purchased him.
And you know, we also know about that text that happened in the moments after the shooting became public and hit the news. The text from his mother, according to the prosecutor, to this 15-year-old boy that said, don`t do it -- I can tell you, talking to students, talking to other parents who went through this, the texts that they were exchanging were are you OK, I love you, be safe.
It`s a big contrast that you have there especially as we`re learning more details from the prosecutor.
HAYES: All right, Shaquille Brewster, thanks so much for bringing us that reporting tonight.
And I want to bring in Kris Brown, an attorney and president of Brady, a leading gun violence prevention organization, and Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and author of Fight Like A Mother.
Kris, let me start with you as an attorney. I mean, I just have never encountered a set of -- again, alleged facts, the prosecutor saying this. I don`t want to say they`re uncontested as of now. We haven`t heard a response. But I just haven`t ever encountered anything like this.
And I just don`t know what to make of it morally, ethically, or legally. But as a lawyer and as someone who works in the field, what is your response to hearing what was laid out by that prosecutor today?
I think -- are we hearing her? I think -- I`m sorry, I think we may not --
KRIS BROWN, PRESIDENT, BRADY: Sorry.
HAYES: Oh, there you are. We got you.
BROWN: Let me just start again.
HAYES: We now have you now Kris Brown. I`m sorry. We have you now.
BROWN: I`m sorry.
HAYES: Please go ahead.
BROWN: As a lawyer, yes, as an advocate, but mostly as a mother, Chris, it`s really hard to hear this recitation of facts. And try and square that from the kind of America I think that should be, you know, one in which we can all ensure safety for our kids in school.
And clearly, the flags, if we want to call them that, the signs that we had a deeply troubled young man and that something should have been done are very real. And there will be the right kinds of questions asked about what the school should have been done -- or should have done, what other people in society should have done, what the parents clearly should have done.
But I think the larger question we have to ask ourselves is why are we permitting a system that asks these questions after a tragic event and doesn`t do a lot more to ensure that we don`t have easy access to guns. You know, Michigan lacks a child access prevention law, would have -- which would have required say storage of guns. They have no extreme risk protection law that would have allowed anyone close to this family to raise issues and say this young man is at risk and guns in that house should be removed.
There are many things that we have advanced as a gun violence prevention movement that could have made a difference here, and Michigan doesn`t have any of them, which also says we need a federal response to these issues. We need consistency because we have no more mental health issues, we have no more troubled youth in this country than anywhere else. We have a lot more school shootings. We have a lot more deaths and it`s because of our lax gun laws. Let`s fix that.
HAYES: I want to just read from the Washington Post reporting on this gift of the gun and then -- and talk to you, Shannon. Shortly after -- this was a gift as far as we can tell. Shortly after his father brought the gun, Ethan Crumbley posted a photo of it to his Instagram page, writing caption interspersed with heart emoji that read, just got my new beauty today, Sig Sauer nine millimeter. Any questions I will answer."
Jennifer Crumbley captioned a post of her own on social media that read, mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present, which Karen McDonald told the Washington Post, the post was referenced to a visit the two made to a gun range.
And I mean, it almost seems insane to have to articulate this principle, but it just seems crushingly obvious across whatever beliefs people might hold that outside of the strict supervision on a gun range or a hunting context, that guns should not be in children`s hands full stop.
SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA: Yes, that is logical for most people, most parents, and I think most gun owners.
WATTS: The problem is, Chris, that we have this group of gun extremists, right? And so, the gun lobby has really for decades glorified firearm usage among children. They`ve even argued that children as young as 10 should have access to assault rifles. They have opposed minimum age requirements to purchase guns. They have opposed secure firearm storage laws. And there`s deadly consequences to that kind of behavior.
I mean, just yesterday, the NRA tweeted an image of Santa Claus putting ammunition in his stocking. And so, you know, it is -- it is gross. And the gun lobby plays a big role in this inculcation of our younger generation to be gun extremists or to buy into that culture. And I think that`s a real problem that we need to talk about.
Also, you mentioned in the intro that about 4.6 million children live in homes with unsecured guns. Post-COVID, that number is actually 5.4 now. We know most school shooters are students, that they have easy access to guns in their homes. And we`re talking about so many reactive ways to address this. We need to be proactive.
Tomorrow state lawmakers in every state should be talking about how they hold gun owners accountable for the secure storage of their firearms. That is the lowest bar possible and it should be the law of the land.
HAYES: Yes. And to Shannon`s point, Kris, I mean, there`s the same logic there once was for tobacco companies. It`s the same logic that social media companies have now. Anyone is selling anything which is that young people lock in brand loyalty. They`re very valuable customers. And that is true of guns. I mean, to Shannon`s point, like they have the same marketing logic that many other entities have.
BROWN: They do. And I will just say this as a lawyer, Chris, which I think is important. They do but they`re not held liable in the same way. Congress many years ago passed PLCAA. That`s a law that prohibits any liability, ostensibly tries to, to gun manufacturers not only for the products themselves but also for their marketing, for their advertising.
This is what has been set up by the NRA for 30-plus years as a guns everywhere anytime with no restrictions kind of universe, and we pay the consequence of that. So, we have to understand there are rules, there are laws that can make a difference to this. And part of this is taking away the special protections that this industry was granted by a Congress behind the scenes with back doors that do not protect anyone but the bottom line of the industry that they serve. Not Americans, not moms, not dads, not kids.
HAYES: Kris Brown and Shannon Watts, I thank you both for taking time with me tonight. I really, really appreciate it.
So far, all the witness testimony in the House investigation into the January 6 attack has taken place behind closed doors. Now, vice chair of the committee, Liz Cheney is saying that will change. So, when can we expect public hearings and who might be called first? I`ll talk to committee member Congressman Adam Schiff about the plan next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): President Trump continues to make the same false claims about a stolen election with which he has misled millions of Americans. These are the same claims he knows provoked violence in the past.
He has recently suggested that he wants to debate members of this committee. This committee`s investigation into the violent assault on our Capitol on January 6 is not a game. When this committee convenes hearings, witnesses will be called to testify under oath.
Any communications Mr. Trump has with this committee will be under oath. And if he persists in lying then, he will be accountable under the laws of this great nation and subject to criminal penalties for every false word he speaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The idea of Donald Trump testifying under oath to the committee investigating the January 6 attack is of course improbable to put it mildly. We now know the committee will hold public hearings in 2022.
Yesterday, Congresswoman Liz Cheney made it clear Republicans will not be able to avoid the reckoning ahead of the crucial Midterm election, promising to detail the Trump White House`s actions that day "in vivid color."
Just this evening, we`re learning, that former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, he`s been -- we`ve been following him a lot, right? He`s the guy who hatched a plot to carry out a coup earlier this year and make Trump president. He will not appear for a deposition tomorrow. The committee saying in a statement, Mr. Clark has informed the Select Committee of a medical condition that precludes his participation in tomorrow`s meeting. He`s provided ample evidence of his claim. Chairman Thompson has agreed to postpone the deposition until December 16th.
Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California is a member of the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and he joins me now. Let`s start, I guess, first with the news of Jeffrey Clark, sort of a strange situation.
Jeffrey Clark is subpoenaed. Jeffrey Clark comes in for a deposition. What does he do at that first deposition that led the committee to later passing a resolution to find him in contempt?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, the first deposition of what he did was essentially refuse to answer just about any question. And he had kind of a grab bag of justifications for his refusal to testify. He claimed a variety of privileges, although he would not specify as any particular question what was privileged.
In fact, during that deposition, I asked him about a conversation that he acknowledged having with a reporter about January 6, that he had summarized in one of the letters to the committee and asked him to describe that conversation and he refused. And I said, what possible privilege could there be that would provide you could tell a reporter things but you can`t tell the committee the same thing?
So, it was you know, frankly flimsy, pretextual arguments sufficient for us to move unanimously to hold them in contempt.
HAYES: You held him in contempt unanimously on -- at the committee level. That vote has now not gone to the full Congress. It sort of hangs over him, which appeared to be inducement for him to return for another deposition which was to be, I understand, today. And now, that has been postponed due to a medical condition. What can you tell us about that?
SCHIFF: Well, look, I don`t know what the medical condition is. I haven`t discussed it with the staff. But if I did, I probably couldn`t describe it anyway.
SCHIFF: But this -- the committee is satisfied that it is genuine, that is there`s ample documentation this is not yet another ruse. And frankly, given his pattern of you know, spending weeks when we`re trying to get his voluntary cooperation stringing us along then being subpoenaed, then coming in and refusing to testify, and then on the eve of holding him in contempt, a new claim this time that he`s going to invoke his fifth amendment right, that was among the -- you know, all the many disparate claims that he made when he showed up for the deposition. He never suggested at that time that he believed what he said would incriminate him.
So, that`s a new defense if you will, and we don`t know yet what to make of it.
HAYES: Yes. So, he -- there was indication that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. And on that note, we have another individual who appears to be set to invoke that. That would be John Eastman. John Eastman who`s a lawyer, an adviser to Donald Trump spoke at the rally on the morning January 6 and wrote the sort of infamous coup memos that laid out a kind of procedure by which the mechanics of the vote- counting that day on January 6 could be hijacked at first with Mike Pence and others to essentially bestow the presidency on Donald Trump.
The letter from his attorney says the following: Dr. Eastman hereby asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself in response to your subpoena. What do you make of that?
SCHIFF: Well, he seems to be following Mr. Clark`s example. And maybe he believes that his testimony would implicate him in criminal activity. And if that`s the case, then he can assert a Fifth Amendment privilege. But we have a great many questions for him. Some of those may, you know, implicate no Fifth Amendment concern, no factual basis for that. So, we will have to see when he comes in whether there is a good faith basis to assert the fifth or whether he makes it clear, even ask the questions in which there`s no potential fifth amendment privilege that he still intends to refuse to answer questions.
So, with each of these witnesses, we will have to evaluate them when they come in. Mark Meadows, for example, has this book out now where he describes apparently conversations with the president about January 6. Well, if he did that, presumably he must have the President`s permission to discuss those communications because he`s been saying previously they`re all covered by executive privilege. If the president waved, it so he could write this in a book, he cannot assert it now as to the same matters.
HAYES: Yes, we should also note just on the -- on Eastman and Clark in the Fifth Amendment. I mean, obviously, inside a courtroom, right, juries are instructed not to draw conclusions about guilt or innocence from the absence of a -- of a defendant in the witness stand, for invocations of the Fifth Amendment as it should be.
You know that doesn`t apply to how people think about people in public life and what they`re doing. And I`ll just say, I didn`t think that John Eastman, as far as the facts I knew, do anything criminally liable. I thought what he did was wildly unethical and toxic to American democracy, but it`s something of a development for him to invoke the Fifth suggesting that he believes there might be criminal exposure.
SCHIFF: Well, it is extraordinary. And what I find even more extraordinary is you have someone in Clark who is at the senior-most levels of the Justice Department, the Department of Justice for crying out loud who is saying that I can`t answer certain questions because it may implicate me in a criminal activity.
That -- you know, I spent almost six years in the Department of Justice. That just takes my breath away.
HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much your time.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, two Georgia elections workers faced threats and harassment after being targeted in pro-Trump voter fraud conspiracy theories. And now they`re fighting back. Their lawsuit after this.
HAYES: In 2017, 37-year-old Shaye Moss started working as a clerk or worker in the Fulton County election office in Atlanta, Georgia. Her job was to handle voting applications and process votes.
This past year, her mother, Ruby Freeman signed up for a temp job in the same election office to help count ballots in November election. They needed obviously, a lot of extra workers.
And even though the Georgia election was audited three times found to have no fraud, that did not stop the conspiracy theories directed at those two.
In December of last year, this mother-daughter pair became the slew, the subject of a slew of false stories published in the pro-Trump conspiracy website Gateway Pundit and then, those stories made their way to Donald Trump`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who identified them in testimony before Georgia state lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP`S LAWYER: How can they say there`s no fraud? Look at that woman, look at her taking those ballots out. Look at them scurrying around with the ballots. Nobody in the room hiding around. They look like this -- they look like they`re passing out dope, not just ballots. It is quite clear they`re stealing votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s an incredible accusation of level, quite clear they`re stealing votes. Giuliani went on to identify both women in the hearing by name.
HAYES: Now, again, state investigators went on to debunk these ridiculous false claims about these two women who were just doing their jobs, but it did not stop there.
On January 2nd, when Donald Trump made that call, infamously to Georgia Secretary of State asking him to find 11,779 votes to overturn the election, Trump brought up Ruby Freeman by name 18 times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know the internet? You know what was trending on the internet? Where`s Ruby? Because they thought she`d be in jail. Where`s Ruby? It`s crazy. It`s crazy. That was -- the minimum number is 18,000 for Ruby, but they think it`s probably about 56,000. But the minimum number is 18,000 on the Ruby Freeman night where she ran back in there when everybody was gone and stuffed, she stuffed the ballot boxes. Let`s face it, Brad. I mean, they did it in slow-motion replay magnified, right? She stuffed the ballot boxes. They were stuffed like nobody has ever seen them stuffed before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Again, false, completely false. Three different audits, right? Digital audits, hand audits of the -- of the results. 18 times that then president of the United States named this individual, random woman, Ruby Freeman.
What do you think happens when someone like that gets set up to be the target by the right-wing press and the president? What do you think happens?
Well, Reuters reports, Freeman went on to make a series of 911 emergency calls telling the dispatcher she got a flood of threats saying "it`s scary because they`re saying stuff like, we`re coming to get you. We are coming to get you." People even showed up banging on her door.
Trump supporters threatened Shaye Moss` teenage son by phone in tirades laced with racial slurs. Moss who is known for her blonde braids change her appearance, avoiding going out in public.
According to Reuters, Freeman went on to quit her job and Moss took time off, now, the two of them are suing that original right-wing publication Gateway Pundit for defamation.
In a statement, Freeman said "I want the defendants to know that my daughter and I are real people who deserve justice, and never want them to do this to anyone else."
Reid Epstein is a politics reporter for the New York Times. He`s been reporting on the defamation lawsuit being brought by these two women, and he joins me now.
Reid, it`s sort of a remarkable set of facts before us here, what`s sort of the theory of the lawsuit?
REID EPSTEIN, POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it`s a defamation lawsuit. You know, and I`m not a lawyer, but my understanding is, you know, that they were not public figures. They were people that were locked out of a 17-hour surveillance tape by President Trump`s lawyers, that spliced snippets of that tape out to suggest that something nefarious was happening.
And in real-time, as you said, the Georgia election authorities corrected them and said that, in fact, nothing wrong had happened and the two women had done nothing wrong.
But that did not stop the Gateway Pundit and others in the right-wing misinformation universe from publicly accusing them of all manner of voting voter fraud -- falsely accusing them of all manner of voter fraud, up to and including the President of the United States at the time.
HAYES: Yes, that point about -- I mean, I think, you know, in terms of the way the defamation law works, and I think as a reporter, yourself and myself, you know, we want strong protections against frivolous defamation lawsuits, believe in the First Amendment, believe it`s important to protect the First Amendment just as a general policy matter.
But in terms of how the law is construed, like, it does make a big difference whether you`re talking about a public person to President of the United States, of you know, Georgia election official and a person who`s not and these people were plainly not.
Here`s what it sounds like when they become public figures, you know, via this being published. Here`s a December 6, 2020 call to 911 obtained by Reuters of Freeman. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBY FREEMAN, ELECTION WORKER IN GEORGIA: Last night about 10 minutes after nine, somebody was bamming on the door. And now somebody`s bamming on the door again. Oh, they screaming. They`re still bamming on the door.
FREEMAN: They`re still bamming on the door. Lord Jesus, where`s the police?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Real repercussions for these people, Reid.
EPSTEIN: There were and both Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss had to vacate their home. Worse, were advised by the FBI in fact to vacate their home. There was so so many pro-Trump advocates surrounding their home banging on the door, having pizzas delivered to them. And that they had to move elsewhere and it really has been a major disruption in their lives over the course of the last year since the election, and since they were falsely accused by the Gateway Pundit, and then others of election fraud.
EPSTEIN: And it really shows sort of the real world implications of some of these false accusations that we saw from the right about the election afterwards.
And it`s really -- what`s remarkable about it is, it`s really one of the -- it`s one of the first instances of sort of a regular person suing to try to get to have some recriminations for the false claims of election fraud. There`s been a couple some high-profile instances of the voting machine companies suing the right-wing media over this, but there haven`t been many instances of sort of the regular people election workers trying to have some sort of -- to be made whole for their -- the trouble that they were put through by the right-wing media.
HAYES: Yes. And there were -- you know, because of the way that these conspiracy theories were floated, they would -- they would be abstract and that they`d be very specific and they would sort of funnel around.
You know, this -- here`s this piece of video from this place, and you know, Maricopa County or in Fulton County or wherever it was.
And at one point, one of Raffensperger `s deputies comes out, quite famously to sort of say like, have you no decency? This is crazy. These people are being hounded and harassed. These are -- these are real people. This is happening in real time.
And just to confirm what you said, I mean, this is from the lawsuit, the level of harassment Miss Freeman received at her home led the FBI to conclude she would not be safe in her home.
Beginning on January 6th, 2021. On January 6, a crowd surrounded Miss Freeman`s house, some on foot, some on vehicles, others equipped with a bullhorn.
Fortunately, Miss Freeman had followed the FBI`s advice and temporarily relocated from her home, she was not able to return for two months.
And finally, Reid, this was -- this was some of the most egregious example of this, but there were -- there`s been lots of reporting that lots of poll workers and election officials have faced similar.
EPSTEIN: There are and there is a -- there`s a lawsuit out of Erie, Pennsylvania, a postal worker there who was falsely accused and had his name sort of dragged through a similar situation is also is suing Project Veritas.
And there`s other instances that we`re likely going to see come sort of through the legal system in the next few weeks and months of people who -- people who are similarly disparaged just for doing their job as electoral workers during last year`s election.
HAYES: Reid Epstein, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
EPSTEIN: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Still to come, the first week in the trial of Jeffrey Epstein`s right-hand woman Ghislaine Maxwell comes to a close. What we`ve learned from witness testimony, just ahead.
HAYES: Of the many ways COVID has disrupted our daily lives, it was perhaps felt most acutely in America`s jails and prisons, both in the mental and physical health for those who are incarcerated.
And those who work inside prisons, physically distancing is essentially impossible. Many people got sick, many people died.
Meanwhile, the justice system kind of froze in place and the population people who were already segregated from society became even more isolated.
In 2019, the Marshall product -- Project had already launched something of a lifeline, a magazine called News Inside specifically published for people who are incarcerated and distributed free of charge in prisons and jails across this country.
And this week, on my podcast Why is this Happening, I had the chance to talk to the publication`s creator Lawrence Bartley, a man who spent 27 years in prison, and then launched this Pulitzer Prize winning publication less than a year after making parole with the mission of helping people still inside stay informed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE BARTLEY, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, NEWS INSIDE: During the time of COVID, we recently published a story called Your Zoom Interrogation is About to Begin.
We went into the history of interrogations that went wrong and Supreme Court decisions on what techniques detectives and police officers can no longer use.
And I got a letter from someone who`s incarcerated who said, wow, this piece was very valuable to me because I`m incarcerated and I have just that issue that I`m litigating inside of a court now. I can`t pay for a lawyer. So, I have to litigate on my own. So, I`m using sections of that article in order to bolster my argument on how I was unfairly interrogated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Lawrence Bartley really captivating figure, not just for what he`s accomplished since his conviction at 17 and then getting out 27 years later, but also for the programs he launched while serving time.
It`s one of my favorite interviews we`ve done yet on Why is this Happening? You can listen to it wherever you get your podcasts. Don`t forget to subscribe because we have some great new episodes coming out soon.
And don`t go anywhere, everything you need to know about what happened to the trial Ghislaine Maxwell this week, right after this.
HAYES: The reason that we are not witnessing a blockbuster trial of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who have been charged with trafficking dozens of girls, some as young as 14 and engaging in sex acts with them, is because he died by hanging in prison under the watch of the Trump Justice Department.
So, instead, we are getting the trial of Epstein`s right-hand woman, Ghislaine Maxwell who has been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy. She has denied all charges against her.
Her trial just started this week. And so far, there have been some big headlines about what exactly she and Epstein were doing, including from one victim who testified at great length about what she said about Maxwell grooming her for sex with Epstein starting at age 14. She also said Maxwell also participated in some sexual abuse.
Interestingly, Donald Trump`s name has come up multiple times throughout the week, including from Jeffrey Epstein`s former pilot who testified Trump was among Epstein`s famous passengers. And a victim who testified Wednesday that Epstein took her to meet Donald Trump when she was just 14.
Now, I should be clear, none of the witnesses so far have alleged any wrongdoing by Trump in these contexts. Trump claims he and Epstein had a falling out.
Of course, prior to that, the two men were known to party together seen here at Mar-a-Lago in 1992. Epstein and Trump ogling women in front of NBC cameras.
In 2002, Trump New York Magazine "I`ve known Jeff for 15 years, terrific guy. He`s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do and many of them are on the younger side."
And Trump new Ghislaine Maxwell too. Here are the Trumps, Epstein and Maxwell altogether at Mar-a-Lago in 2000. Would have seen dead (PH) and Trump at the White House, the president was asked about Maxwell`s arrest and gave a perplexing response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just wish her well frankly. I`ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I live in Palm Beach and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I wish her well, whatever it is. Investigative reporter Vicky Ward is the host and producer of Chasing Ghislaine, an Audible Original podcast. Also streaming as a documentary on Discovery Plus. An I.D. (PH), she`s been in the courtroom every day of the trial and she joins me now.
HAYES: I guess first start with your big takeaways from this first week of testimony Vicky as someone who`s been in that courtroom every day.
VICKY WARD, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Chris, I think that the real sort of shocking story of the week is that the defense for Ghislaine Maxwell has really effectively knocked down the testimony from the government`s main witnesses.
You know, as you rightly pointed out, Jane, the pseudonym for accuser number one, whose testimony was really shocking about being abused for many years by Jeffrey Epstein.
And so, she said with Ghislaine Maxwell in the room, from the age of 14, was then, you know, the gut -- the defense really poked a lot of holes at that in their cross-examination by bringing up notes from interviews the FBI had taken in the last two years with this accuser, which directly contradicted what she said about Ghislaine Maxwell being in the room and directly contradict what she said about Ghislaine Maxwell participating in any of the abuse.
We saw the same thing this morning with the cross-examination of the butler, who yesterday really talked about the fact that Ghislaine Maxwell was "The lady of the house" that she and Jeffrey Epstein shared a bedroom.
And again, talked about the fact that Ghislaine Maxwell, he`d seen phoning and consorting with and traveling with two underage girls, one of them was Jane, he said.
But this morning, the cross-examination pointed out that he was a liar. He had under oath four years ago, given testimony, set admitting that he had stolen money from Jeffrey Epstein not once, but twice, which contradicted his testimony in court yesterday. Where he said, he`d only stolen money from Jeffrey Epstein once.
So, the credibility of the government witnesses is really coming under fire quite effectively from Ghislaine Maxwell`s defense. And I think a lot of journalists in the courtroom are quite surprised by this.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, in the case -- in the case of this prosecution, one of the things contextually about it, of course, is that these were events that happened quite a long time ago.
And of course, we went through this sort of strange situation in which Epstein had faced charges, he had been allowed to sort of play out. That was the scandal that brought this back, the Department of Justice again.
So, everything that`s being talked about here, right? We`re talking about in a timeframe of 10, 15, maybe 20 years ago, something on that order, is that right?
WARD: Longer, even longer. So, the indictment spans from 1994 to 2004.
HAYES: Right, that`s right.
WARD: That`s 25, it`s a really, really long time ago. And so, the defense`s argument, they`ve been very clear is about what they call the three M`s, or I call the three M`s, it`s about memory. They argue that those memories change over time. Manipulation of those memories by self-interested civil lawyers they say and money.
The fact that the witnesses, the victims, have changed their story according to the defense lawyers after Jeffrey Epstein died and big bucks were on the table from the Epstein compensation fund.
HAYES: What about the invocation of Donald Trump? The pilot mentioned him and then, one of the -- one of the girls as well. He was not the only famous figure mentioned of course, Epstein had relationships with lots of very famous people. Tell me about the context for that.
WARD: So, I think they`re laying a foundation. I mean, we`ll wait to see.
But one of the things that the psychologist, the expert psychologist on child predation talked about was the fact that predators of children often hide behind sort of very powerful people, that this is exactly what makes them so manipulative and intimidating to the children that they`re abusing. So, I think that it`s in this context that you`re hearing about all these very famous people.
The defense on the other hand, seems to be using the very famous people for a different purpose. They (AUDIO GAP) how important Jeffrey Epstein was in a different way, they call him a modern James Bond.
HAYES: Vicky Ward, the podcast is Chasing Ghislaine, the substack is Vicky Ward Investigates. Vicky, thanks for time tonight.
That is ALL IN for this week. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.