At least more than 700 people involved in the January 6th riot is now being sentenced by the Justice Department where 36 of them faces jail time. Reps. Barbara Lee and Ted Lieu gave their take on whether the House Select Committee can compel former Vice President Mike Pence to speak with the January 6th Committee. While you can never know until the justices rule, it appears the Supreme Court`s conservative majority is poised to block the Biden administration`s COVID vaccine or test mandate for large employers. While the justices consider the future of President Biden`s vaccine mandate, Florida has hit a new record number of coronavirus infections.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Tomorrow morning I`ll talk to one of the key players working on building the votes to get it done. The majority whip James Clyburn.
And now time for THE LAST WORD. Jonathan Capehart is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, my friend.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali. You know I`m trying not to, you know, shed a single tear for the demise of Cyber Ninjas. It`s incredible.
VELSHI: Yes. Well, the ninja act thing, the disappearing thing isn`t apparently working for them. They might be disappearing. They might be able to disappear but apparently the $50,000 a day is quite real and they are going to have to come up with it.
CAPEHART: Yes. Well, $50,000 a day if I were fined that, I would disappear too. Ali, thank you --
CAPEHART: -- very, very much.
So, America, -- so America, where do we go from here? It`s January 7th, 2022. And while some want to put what happened one year and one day ago behind us, we still need to reckon with the events of that day and hold those responsible accountable.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has vowed to take, quote, "as long as it takes and whatever it takes for justice to be done." He is delivering. The Department of Justice has charged more than 700 members of the Trump mob, so far, 75 have been sentenced with 36 receiving jail time.
That includes a North Carolina woman who brought her 14-year-old son into the capitol on January 6. Today, Virginia Spencer was sentenced to 90 days in jail, and 36 months probation. During the sentencing hearing the judge stated that she did not believe Spencer understood the, quote, "significance of her participation and what it means for our democracy."
The January 6th select committee is beginning to hold those responsible accountable. The committee has made it clear that it`s interested in speaking with former Vice President Mike Pence but has yet to formally request his voluntary cooperation.
Republican vice chair Liz Cheney acknowledged that the committee is examining Donald Trump`s potential criminal exposure. And another member of the capitol police is trying to hold Trump accountable.
Yesterday, Capitol police officer Briana Kirkland filed a lawsuit against Trump arguing his, quote, "provocative words and actions leading up to and on January 6, 2021 were likely to incite and provoke violence in others and did in fact incite and provoke violence directed at her."
Part of making sure that the January 6th attack on our democracy never happens again is punishing those responsible. But it`s also about voting out elected officials who support Trump`s lies and making sure other big lie supporters never hold elected office in the first place.
The Washington Post reports at least 163 Republicans who have embraced Trump`s false claims are running for statewide positions across the U.S. that would give them authority over the administration of elections.
If you support the big lie and want to overturn fair elections you shouldn`t get to hold elected office. So, where do we go from here and how do we keep building on the work that`s already been done?
Leading off our discussion tonight are two Democratic members of Congress, from the great state of California, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Ted Lieu.
Thank you both very much for coming to THE LAST WORD.
Congressman Lieu, tonight, Chairman Bennie Thompson said that the select committee could ask Mike Pence to appear before the committee this month. Your thoughts, should he?
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): I actually think that anyone that has relevant information should provide it to the committee. And that includes Mike Pence. He clearly was targeted by supporters of the former president. They wanted to hang him. And he had information about where he was and the threats that he was facing.
So, if he can provide relevant information, I think he absolutely should provide it. And we also want to know did he communicate with the former president that day, and if so, what did they discussed.
CAPEHART: Congresswoman Lee, you told The Lily that January 6th focused you on passing voting rights legislation. Why is that?
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Thank you, Jonathan. Nice to be with you and my colleague tonight.
Well, first of all, we see what`s taking place and what accommodated January 6th just in the terms of the efforts of the insurrectionists who almost thwarted the peaceful transfer of power in an attempted coup.
And so, it`s extremely important that we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Because let me tell you. What is taking place around the country now in terms of gerrymandering, in terms of the elected officials who would not provide for access to our constitutional rights to vote but they are trying to subvert millions of people`s rights to vote.
It`s extremely important because our democracy is at stake. And I see what they are doing in terms of their move towards autocratic government and the system that would not allow for the Democratic -- democracy that we all know so well.
CAPEHART: Congressman, Congressman Lieu, we know that the select committee hasn`t ruled out a criminal referral against Donald Trump. What do you think are the next steps in the committee`s investigation?
LIEU: Well, let me first say that Congresswoman lee is absolutely right that we have to get voting rights signed into law. And with regard to the question that you asked initially on your show, where do we go from here. I want to note that 147 Republican members of Congress even after the assault on our capitol voted to nullify the presidential election.
So, we need to make sure that they don`t return to office this November and vote them out at the ballot box. And then, in terms of any criminal referrals, if the evidence and facts are there and the House select committee determines that there should be criminal charges, then they absolutely have that right to make that referral to the Department of Justice.
It will only be a recommendation it will be up for the Department of Justice to then decide if they want to go forward with an investigation or with any charges.
CAPEHART: Congresswoman Lee, let me come back to you on voting rights. Because as you were speaking, I remembered that the president and the vice president are going to Georgia next week. They are going to be giving speeches on voting rights.
In the last hour, Ali just had on (Inaudible), whose been guest on this show talking about -- talking about a piece that she and other leaders in Georgia wrote where they said to the president, don`t come down here if you don`t have a plan.
Are you satisfied that the Biden administration, that President Biden has a plan to get done what you -- what you and all of us are saying needs to get done? The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act has to get passed.
LEE: I think we heard yesterday the president come forward very forcefully and talk about the fact that we have got to pass this, and we`ve got to pass these two bills right away. I support ending the filibuster. The president very clearly said we`ve got to do something.
And that means if we don`t have or we see we don`t have Republican votes, we need to find the a carve out or way around so that we could protect our democracy. It`s very fragile right now. It withstood the test of time on January 6th but it is still fragile.
And so, we have to do this and I`m confident that the president is going to fight very hard just like we are to make sure that these bills get passed. We have to make sure that the ground swell and the movement and the people out there who are pushing the grassroots movement push very hard so that these members of the Senate listen and hear and hold them accountable.
CAPEHART: Congressman Lieu, yesterday I interviewed Chairman Thompson on Washington Post live and I asked him are you going to subpoena Congressman Jim Jordan and Congressman Scott Perry. His answer was, well, we are looking to see if we have the authority. Congressman Lieu, do you think that the committee has the authority to subpoena them, and if so, should they?
LIEU: The committee absolutely has that authority because in America no one is above the law including members of Congress. So, if the committee believes that there is information that these members of Congress can provide that would be relevant then the committee absolutely has the power to issue the subpoena.
I also note that unfortunately, what we`ve seen is because of delays in litigating these subpoenas, the last four years have shown that the Trump administration was able to render many of the subpoenas meaningless because of the length of these delays.
I`m on the House judiciary committee and Don McGahn, the former White House counsel chose to litigate the subpoena and it took over two years, although we won, we only got him in two years later. And so, we need to make sure that these folks don`t run out the clock. Which is why we have to pass my legislation on the inherent contempt bill which would allow Congress to enforce our own subpoenas.
CAPEHART: Congressman Ted Lieu, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
LEE: Thank you.
LIEU: Thank you, Jon.
CAPEHART: Coming up, a turning point on voting rights. President Biden`s speech Thursday fulfilled many Democrats long-standing hopes that he`d step up his defense of democracy and fight against those who threaten it. Now his allies hope the speech marks a turning point in the Biden administration`s focus. More on that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): The horrendous issue of messing around with how the votes are counted and getting rid of the non-partisan boards and allowing partisan legislatures to count and sham audits. All of that is covered by our bill. And it is a big problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART (on camera): That was Senator Amy Klobuchar, just one of several Senate Democrats who today argued that the time is now to pass federal legislation protecting the right to vote from suppression efforts by Republican state legislatures.
The Senate will vote next week on the Freedom to Vote Act and President Biden will head to Georgia to make the case for passing voting rights legislation. Politico notes that the president`s speech yesterday marking the one-year anniversary of January 6th, quote, "fulfilled many Democrats long-standing hopes that he would step up his defense of democracy and fight against those who threaten it."
Congressman Jim Clyburn told Politico the Democrats problem isn`t their message on voting rights. Quote, "the problem is the image. There are people who just generally feel that we are not being tough enough.
If they continue that into not just Georgia, but Florida, go to Texas, go to North Carolina, go to these places where people think they have free reign to restrict access to the ballot, and I think that -- and I think that will see an excited base."
Joining us now is the former Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick. He is the former head of the Justice Department civil rights division and is currently chair of American Bridge 21st Century.
Governor Patrick, great to see you.
FMR. GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D-MA): Hi, Jonathan. Glad to be with you.
CAPEHART: Your reaction to Congressman Clyburn`s assessment that Democrats aren`t being tough enough on voting rights, and do you agree that President Biden should take that message to other states not just Georgia to energize voters.
PATRICK: I think he should. I think every elected Democrat, I think every Democratic activist should take this, take this up. And frankly, I think Republicans should take it up as well. Look, either we believe in a participatory democracy or we don`t not. It`s as simple as that.
And the idea of making voting inconvenient or inaccessible to people on purpose, to gain advantage is completely antithetical to a functioning democracy. It`s not new. It`s not new. But it is a problem whose ugly undersides, I think, are apparent for everybody to see.
Right now, we have real reform legislation that has moved through the House. It has the support of the American people. And it stuck in the Senate because people are hiding behind procedural rules and other excuses. And I do think we need to dial up.
CAPEHART: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he`d be open to reforming the (Inaudible). But Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded that, that`s not enough to protect voting rights and prevent election subversion. I`m of the mind that it shouldn`t be either or. It`s both.
CAPEHART: But what`s your -- what`s your take?
PATRICK: Well, Leader McConnell, you know, in the words of my grandmother, bless her heart, you know, we have -- there are -- there are ways in which the electoral count processes should be formalized and should be updated.
But I would note that many of these bills in the 19 Republican-led states that are about suppressing the vote and making it intentionally inconvenient, especially for poor and marginalize people, elderly people, disabled people, people who live in rural communities.
Very intent provision. You don`t often hear people talk about which is, frankly, I think even more pernicious, and that`s the ability of partisans to overrule an election result if they don`t like the outcome.
So, let`s just supposed that happens in a state that passed one of these bills. If Leader McConnell gets his way, then we would have a reform in the United States Congress that said that the congress couldn`t do anything about that except to accept and certify those electorates.
So, look, we got -- it`s too cute by half. Yes, there are things we have to do to modernize the electoral count, to make sure that people don`t make the mistake that they -- that they did if that`s what it was to try to persuade Vice President Pence to behave differently when it was time for him to certify the presidential count in the last election.
But the more fundamental challenge right now are the efforts underway ever since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
PATRICK: To roll back access to the ballot.
CAPEHART: Governor Patrick, let me get your -- get you to listen to Senator Durbin and what he said about the key roadblock here, and that`s the filibuster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): For our Republican colleagues to feign outrage about preserving the rules and norms of this Senate, I`d ask them to think back a year ago this week. Where were these precious rules and norms when the leader of the Republican Party, then President Trump plotted an overthrow of the government by disrupting the Senate business?
Where were these rules and norms when some of our colleagues echoed the big lie that led to that bloody insurrection? And where were these rules and norms when some members of the Republican Party openly endorsed and installing Donald Trump to the presidency against the will of the American people?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART (on camera): So, Governor Patrick, Senate Democrats are discussing various possible rule changes but it is not clear if Manchin or Sinema will support them. So, what happens if they won`t budge on the filibuster?
PATRICK: Not enough happens frankly. Although I hope it doesn`t end should they make that terrible, terrible and frankly anti-Democratic decision. And understand, the filibuster itself is an anti-Democratic or un-Democratic rule.
The notion that the majority doesn`t actually rule. It takes a -- it can be controlled by a minority. And by the way, bypassing the filibuster rule happens all the time in the Senate. It happened a couple of weeks ago.
CAPEHART: Right. It lifts the debt ceiling. Yes.
PATRICK: Excuse me, with the debt ceiling. They do it all the time. They carve out exceptions. And what better exception than to have a functioning democracy.
CAPEHART: Right. And to be clear when you say Democratic, you are talking small d, Democratic.
PATRICK: I am.
PATRICK: I am.
CAPEHART: So, the former big d Democratic Governor -- Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, thank you for your time tonight.
PATRICK: I appreciate you, Jonathan. Thank you.
CAPEHART: Joining us now is the Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro, he is running for governor of Pennsylvania. Attorney General Shapiro, thank you very much for coming to THE LAST WORD.
Elected officials in Arizona --
JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you.
CAPEHART: -- released a 93-page report debunking every claim made by the Cyber Ninjas in their sham audit, and now the Cyber Ninjas are shutting down. And that`s good news. But a similar partisan audit is still being pushed in Pennsylvania, even if no fraud is found. Has the damage, though, already been done?
SHAPIRO: No fraud was found here in Pennsylvania. Other than maybe a handful of cases where individuals were trying to cast an extra ballot for Donald Trump. What`s happening here in Pennsylvania is a sham audit, one where Republicans in the state Senate have demanded the private personal information.
Let`s be clear what that is. Social security numbers, driver`s license numbers and the like of nine million Pennsylvania voters. I sued to stop them. And by the way we`ve got a pretty good track record of defending democracy here in Pennsylvania. Over 40 times we went to court against the former president and his enablers and we won every single time in order to protect and preserve our democracy and respect the will of the people.
CAPEHART: You know, the Philadelphia Inquirer this week asked five top Republican candidates for Pat Toomey Senate seat about the 2020 election. Only one acknowledged Biden won. And none would say if they would have certified Pennsylvania`s election results. Talk about what`s at stake in terms of electing a Democrat who will stand for democracy.
SHAPIRO: Well, what`s at stake here in Pennsylvania and across this country is that we need leaders who are willing to speak the truth. We need leaders who are willing to confront the lies. And what you saw in that clip from the Inquirer about the Senate candidates could just as easily be applied to the 14 or 15 Republicans who running against me for governor here in the commonwealth.
The fact that they can`t acknowledge that simple truth that Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by over 80,000 votes speaks not to an issue in our democracy as much as it speaks to their profound personal weakness. These are individuals who are so afraid to stand up to the former president. They are so afraid to stand up to the forces that are controlling the modern-day Republican Party that they are willing to sellout our democracy.
And the way we beat that is to make sure that number one, we speak truth, and number two, we defeat those weak people at the ballot box.
CAPEHART: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, thank you for joining us tonight.
SHAPIRO: Thank you.
CAPEHART: Coming up, the Biden administration says vaccine mandates for both large companies and health care workers are essential in the fight against COVID. Today, they argued their case before the Supreme Court. What today`s argument tells us about how the court will decide. That`s next.
CAPEHART (on camera): While you can never know until the justices rule, it appears the Supreme Court`s conservative majority is poised to block the Biden administration`s COVID vaccine or test mandate for large employers. The high court must decide whether the requirements on private companies and health care workers should proceed or be blocked while the federal government`s authority to impose the mandates is being challenged in court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARENCE THOMAS, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: Necessary can be really necessary or not necessarily really necessary. And I just think that, you know, you need more than to say, a lot of bad things could happen to interpret what that means. Is it restrictive? Is it very firm? Is it super necessary? And if it is, why?
ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: Whatever necessary means, whether it`s a necessary improper or whether it`s something more than that. Why isn`t this necessary to abate a grave risk? This is a pandemic in which nearly a million people have died. It is by far, the greatest health danger that this country has faced in the last century. More and more people are dying every day. More and more people are getting sick every day. I don`t mean to be dramatic here, I`m just sort of stating facts. And this is the policy that is most geared to stopping all this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART (on camera): It`s worth noting two of the lawyers arguing against the mandate today had to make their arguments virtually. Why? They just tested positive with COVID. All of the justices are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot according to the court.
Joining us now David Michaels, he is an epidemiologist and professor at George Washington University School of Public Health. He served as assistant secretary of labor for the occupational safety and health administration from 2009 to 2017.
And Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. She is an MSNBC legal analyst.
Joyce, so starting with you, today Justice Sotomayor asked what`s the difference between a vaccine mandate and telling employers in a work place where sparks are flying that workers have to wear masks. Is there a legal difference?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, to the newly conservative 6-3 majority on this court it appears that there is not and that this argument had a lot less to do with the need to protect employees in the workplace than it had to do with what the conservative majority sees as an opportunity to finally dismantle what they call the administrative state. This notion that the federal government could take steps to protect people, in this case with emergency rulings that are meant to respond to grave dangers.
And so the point that Justice Kagan and others made repeatedly is we are in the middle of the pandemic. People are dying. If there is ever grave danger and the need for an emergency ruling, this is it. But it appears that a majority of conservative justices disagree.
CAPEHART: David, we mentioned that all of the justices are vaccinated and boosted and two attorneys weren`t allowed to be present today because they tested positive. Is the mandate the court is considering less than their own protocol?
DAVID MICHAELS, EPIDEMIOLOGIST/PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Very much less, Jonathan. Powerful people like justices can control their workplaces. And what they`ve done at the Supreme Court is they said whether or not you are vaccinated you can`t get into the building unless you test negative that morning. And that is why this one lawyer had to do his oral arguments by telephone.
And then when you are in the building you have to wear a mask all the time except when you are speaking. What the justices don`t understand is for many workers, COVID-19 is a real threat. Thousands of workers have been killed already. But they`re not -- these justices look like they are going to stop the federal government from ensuring that workers have at least some protection. Not as much as the justices have demanded for themselves but enough so they can go to work and not fear for their lives.
CAPEHART: Joyce, listen to this exchange between Justice Clarence Thomas and Benjamin Flowers, the Solicitor General of Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: So you are saying Mr. Flowers, that the first step in OSHA`s regulation is to identify the workforce, the problem in that workforce, and then regulate that?
BENJAMIN FLOWERS, OHIO SOLICITOR GENERAL: That is typically how OSHA proceeds. I don`t know that there is a requirement that says they must do that. But I think part of the problems we are seeing with that rule is it is not truly intended to regulate a workplace danger, it`s a danger that we all face simply as a matter of waking up in the morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Joyce, does it matter legally, if the workplace danger is also an every day danger, especially if people have to be at their workplace?
VANCE: Well, it is technically an interesting legal argument that can be had. But I am not sure that it`s particularly relevant in this context.
The issue is COVID is present in the workplace. OSHA has a statute that gives it the ability, the regulations and the place to protect workers if they`ve got incidental spillover at that (INAUDIBLE) those workers leave the workplace, well so be it.
And there is an interesting hypothetical that was used in this context that was this notion. Well, what if you have a magic wand that you could wave and it would protect people from COVID only when they were at work and then you could wave it at the end of the day and remove that protection.
And the solicitor general was quick to acknowledge, yes, if there was some way to do it exclusively in the workplace, that would be appropriate. But the reality here is you either protect people at all times or you leave them unprotected when they are at work, when they have no ability to protect themselves from co-workers, cramped working conditions and what have you.
CAPEHART: David, as someone who served as assistant secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I would love you to respond to that from an OSHA standpoint.
MICHAELS: Absolutely. You know, COVID-19 is a massive worker safety crisis. Tens of thousands of workers have been sickened by this exposure at work. The law says every worker has the right to a safe work place. Every worker has the right to leave work in the same condition that they got to work.
And OSHA`s job is to make sure employers provide that safe workplace because they control the workplace.
MICHAELS: And so when you have a hazard, OSHA tells employers eliminate that hazard, minimize that hazard. The hazard in this case is the potentially infectious worker.
And so what OSHA is doing in this case is saying if we can keep potentially infectious workers at home, out of the workplace, we can save lives and make people safer.
That is right within OSHA`s wheelhouse. In fact I filed an amicus brief signed by other OSHA administrators from Democratic and Republican administrations explaining exactly that.
CAPEHART: David Michaels, Joyce Vance -- thank you both for joining us tonight.
While the justices consider the future of President Biden`s vaccine mandate, Florida has hit a new record number of coronavirus infections. CDC data shows Florida reported nearly 77,000 new COVID-19 infections Friday.
Meanwhile the state has been trying to curb the number of people getting tested. The Florida Department of Health going against CDC guidelines, urged people who are not showing symptoms to not get in line.
Joining us now is State Senator Tina Polsky, Democrat of Florida. Her district includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Thank you very much Senator Polsky for being here.
In addition to new and faulty testing guidance Governor DeSantis is accused of allowing up to a million COVID-19 rapid tests expire. Is this the Trump playbook if we stop testing right now, we`d have very few cases?
STATE SENATOR TINA POLSKY (D-FL): Hi Jonathan. Thanks so much for having me.
I think that is the idea although I can`t get into his head. I don`t really understand this laissez faire attitude that the governor and his appointed surgeon general have taken towards COVID.
As you mentioned, the numbers are astronomical. We just got past the holiday season, where everybody descended on Florida. We knew we were going to have so many people visiting. We knew about omicron. And yet the tests were not distributed.
So it`s just so shameful that people are waiting hours and hours for tests, they`re not even getting them. The test sites closed down. There`s no state run testing facilities and yet about a million tests went expired in the state warehouse.
CAPEHART: Well, since you mentioned him, I want to get your reaction to what the Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo said this week. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH LADAPO, FLORIDA SURGEON GENERAL: We are going to be working to unwind the sort of testing psychology that our federal leadership has managed to unfortunately get most of the country in over the last two years.
We need to unwind this testing sort of -- sort of planning and living one`s life around testing. Without it we are going to be sort of stuck in the same cycle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: What? What is he talking about? Testing psychology? When testing is actually how a person knows for sure whether or not they are sick and infecting others.
POLSKY: I wish I understood. I really don`t. People don`t go to get tests for fun. They know they have to wait on line. They know they`re getting a swab.
They`re getting tested because they need one to get back to work. Not everybody has the luxury of working from home. And they need one to prove that they`re safe. They need it for travel. They need it because they have been in close contact with someone or they have symptoms.
So, there is nothing wrong with getting a test. That`s exactly what we should be doing. Testing will save lives. And even if as they described, you are an asymptomatic healthy young person, you still could give COVID to someone who is more vulnerable.
So what they are saying is completely backwards, completely against CDC guidelines. And the truth of the matter is the counties that I represent are not listening. So the sad part is we have a top public health official who`s putting out guidance that people aren`t even paying attention to because they know it doesn`t make any sense.
CAPEHART: Florida State Senator Tina Polsky, thank you for joining us tonight.
POLSKY: Thank you.
CAPEHART: Coming up -- y`all, Ted Cruz embarrassed himself this week, a lot. And we will show you the tape next.
CAPEHART: Republicans don`t want to hear the truth about January 6th, plain and simple. The latest case in point, Senator Ted Cruz has been doing major damage control since he said this during a rules committee hearing on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. And it is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Calling the insurrection an act of terrorism is calling it what it was. It`s also the word FBI director Christopher Wray used to describe the attack. In fact, Ted Cruz has actually used the phrase "terrorist attack" to describe the attack on the Capitol at least 17 times.
But for Republicans who continuously downplay the attack, that is not what they want to hear. And so Harvard Law School graduate Ted Cruz appeared on Fox last night to defend himself from the backlash he received from those Republicans and he begged Tucker Carlson for forgiveness for what he called a quote, "sloppy mistake".
Spoiler alert. Didn`t go well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: The way that I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: I don`t buy that.
CARLSON: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa -- I don`t buy that. look, I have known you a long time since before you went to the Senate.
CRUZ: I wasn`t saying that the thousands of peaceful protesters supporting Donald Trump are somehow terrorists. I wasn`t saying the millions of patriots across the country supporting President Trump are terrorists and that`s what a lot of people have misunderstood that comment. I was focused --
CARLSON: Wait a second. But even you -- hold on. What you just said doesn`t make sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Joining us now Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University. Jill Wine-Banks former assistant Watergate special prosecutor. She is also host of the I-Gen Politics (ph) and Juanita Tolliver, a democratic strategist and an MSNBC political analyst.
Christina, I`m sorry that I came into the -- out of that soundbite laughing, but what does Ted Cruz`s apology say about the Republican Party? And what does his groveling -- I mean sad groveling interview say about Tucker Carlson`s influence on the Republican Party?
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I mean you know, Jonathan, I think we are all laughing to keep from crying. I mean this is actually -- we`re in a really dangerous place.
I mean we have a U.S. Senator, he`s going on Fox News Network begging a host to accept an apology for an insurrection that did happen, you know.
And I can`t wrap my mind around the fact that only two Republicans having to go into the chamber for that moment of silence. I mean there were no other Republicans who had the dignity and decency to pay respect to those who lost their lives defending the Capitol. When those insurrectionists were calling for the death of not just Mike Pence but other colleagues of Ted Cruz.
And it really did remind me, honestly Jonathan, of Donald Trump refusing to attend the inauguration. What a really dangerous position where the Republican Party isn`t just the party of no. They are willing to erode all of our institutional norms and our American democratic principles -- small d democratic principles -- to uphold a more and more growing fascist ideology which is really worrisome, especially as we have midterms coming up and Ted Cruz has already said they will impeach Joe Biden.
For what? Doesn`t matter. They just want to impeach him. So you know, to even get legislation passed, we know we are at a stand still and we`re in a crisis in the nation policy-wise but obviously when it comes to white supremacy and insurrectionists.
CAPEHART: Right. you know, I want to have you listen to what a former aide to Congressman Kevin McCarthy said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN O`TOOLE,FORMER AIDE TO REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: His leadership strategy is dictated by the most extreme wings of his party. And so when Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gaetz puts their thumb on the scale that`s what he responds to. And that drives House Republican conference into the arms of somebody like Donald Trump. And so the leadership that enables that behavior is continuing today as we have seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: And so Juanita is there any room in the Republican Party for anyone who can truly challenge Trumpism when Congressman McCarthy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is driven by Trump`s control over Republicans?
JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is the same power dynamics that we saw between Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson. It`s the same power dynamics that we know McCarthy feeds into.
Because let`s think back. On January 6th, we know who he was focused on. McCarthy was focused exclusively on communicating with Trump, no one else, right. Like this was all about him trying to -- not only beg for his own safety, but get Trump to do the right thing.
And McCarthy, as we know has been laser-like focused for years on the one thing that has eluded him, and that`s the speakership of the House. So he is ready to beg, borrow, steal and sell his soul to anyone who can create the pathway. It just so happens that pathway is through the extremists in the Republican Party like Trump, like Marjorie Taylor Greene.
And so he is willing to do whatever they want because he is literally at their mercy when they are already floating balloons about hey, McCarthy doesn`t need to be the next speaker if Republicans take the House in the midterm.
And so he is trying to do his best to maintain any semblance of power so that he can reach his political aspiration. That is what this is about. It is about nothing else.
So when I hear the staffer speak about his leadership being driven by that or when I hear the other reports that he didn`t check on his staffers, it fully aligns with what he cares about-- himself. The constitution be damned. His staff be dammed. No one else matters, nothing else matters except for his pathway to political power.
And we`re going to see our democracy crumble just as Dr. Greer outlined as he and other Republicans still try to pursue that path. And it is all about self preservation right now and we should be concerned. We should be frustrated.
CAPEHART: You know, Christine -- let me come back to you because Congressman Adam Kinzinger echoed a similar sentiment as that former McCarthy staffer today on MSNBC. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): What has changed is the use of conspiracy, the absolute lack of courage to call it out. The fear that permeates leaders of the Republican Party against a man that is basically insane, you know, sending out press releases from Mar-A-Lago.
It is sad because the Republican Party will exist but it has lost, in a lot of people`s minds, any credibility. And it`s going to take a while to get it back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Christina, what can we expect from Congress if Republicans do indeed take control? What happens on the second anniversary of the January 6th insurrection?
GREER: Well, what we know about Republicans, Jonathan, is that they play offense. Democrats are the ones who play defense and want to constantly share the ball with Republicans.
Whenever Democrats get into power, they look around and well, Republicans, what would you all like to do. And that`s in the spirit of democracy, sure. But we`re not there anymore, right.
If the Democrats have a majority, no matter how slim it may be, they need to figure out how to pass voting rights legislation, how to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, how to make sure that we get substantive policies to protect Americans.
When Republican -- if they come into power in 2022 midterms, we know that they will not care at all about the American people. They will rip up that social safety net. They will continue to give their wealthy friends more tax breaks. They will make sure that the most extreme wing of the party gets everything they want as Juanita just said.
CAPEHART: So Jill, I have got some legal questions for you. And turning to Vice President Mike Pence, do you expect him to cooperate with the January 6th committee?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: We know that his chief of staff is cooperating. And that`s something that wouldn`t happen if Vice President Pence didn`t approve of it. And there`s every reason to believe that he might. He certainly isn`t benefiting from any protection of the Republican Party or the leader of what is still called the Republican Party.
And I just -- I want to say how much I agree with both Christina and Juanita. And want to add that in terms of Cruz, I have a hashtag on Twitter that is #saythisnotthat. And it would be to say call them domestic terrorists, call them violent. Don`t say they`re protesters because they`re not. Don`t say misinformation, say lies. Call it what it is.
And that`s what Senator Cruz was doing, and of course you can`t do that in the Republican Party. They do not accept truth anymore. They are rejecting it.
CAPEHART: And Jill, in our final seconds, what happens if the Supreme Court decides to reverse the D.C. circuit`s ruling rejecting Trump`s claim of executive privilege?
WINE-BANKS: I think that the Supreme Court will reject his executive privilege claims because they have no basis in fact or in law. And we have known since Watergate that the president is subject to subpoena and to turning over documents. And so that isn`t going to work.
And what`s going to happen is the National Archives will turn over the material to the Senate -- I`m sorry -- to the House January 6th Committee. And you`ll have even more evidence of his complicity in conducting the terrorist attack on the Capitol and on our democracy.
Let`s not keep calling it just the Capitol, because although that building was desecrated and although we saw a Confederate flag march through it, it was democracy that was under attack and that remains under attack.
The voting rights that we`re talking about, those need to be passed to protect democracy. And we need to make sure that we don`t have a state legislature or a state partisan making the decision about what votes count. It has to continue to be something that protects our rights to vote and our rights to have our vote counted.
CAPEHART: They are intertwined, January 6th and voting rights.
Jill Wine-Banks, Christina Greer, Juanita Tolliver -- thank you all for joining us tonight.
Coming up, saying goodbye to an icon. The life and legacy of the great Sidney Poitier. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNEY POITIER, ACTOR: I`m looking in the mirror this morning and I`m thinking I`m 35 years old. I`m married 11 years. And I got a boy who`s got to sleep in the living room because I got nothing.
Nothing to give him but stories, like on how rich white people live, eh?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eat your eggs.
POITIER: Damn these eggs. Damn all the eggs that ever was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Today we learned Sidney Poitier, a true American icon, died at the age of 94. Throughout his career, Poitier brought the stories of black America to white America. He supported the civil rights movement with his work, his deeds and financially as well.
It`s often not until death that we truly look at the impact a person has had on the world around them. But Sidney Poitier got that honor while he was still alive. On August 12th, 2009 America`s first black president Barack Obama gave the presidential medal of freedom to the first black actor ever to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s been said that Sidney Poitier does not make movies, he makes milestones. Milestones of artistic excellence, milestones of America`s progress on screen and behind the camera, in films such as "The Defiant Ones", "Guess Who`s Coming To Dinner", "Uptown Saturday Night", "Lilies of the Field" for which he became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Poitier not only entertained but enlightened, shifting d attitudes, broadening hearts, revealing the power of the silver screen to bring us closer together.
The child of a Bahamian tomato farmer, Poitier once called his driving purpose to make himself a better person. He did, and he made us all a little bit better along the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
And before we go tonight, I have a message to someone who`s watching right now.
Do you have a picture? That is my husband Nick, and it is our fifth wedding anniversary today. Isn`t he cute? Happy Anniversary Magoo.
Thank you so much for watching.
"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.