Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California is interviewed.
Focusing on one of under-reported sections of the COVID relief bill, the
education section, which runs from pages 33 to 59, and those 26 pages,
deliver $170 billion of COVID relief support for schools from kindergarten
through universities. President Biden is going to have a bill signing of
his first big legislative victory only because Democrats won two Senate
seats in Georgia and Republicans in Georgia are now trying to prevent that
from ever happening again.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
You know, Donald Trump is 74 years old, as we know, and my theory is he is
going to be a defendant for the rest of his life because of just the civil
lawsuits that are out there now. You know, civil lawsuits take years, there
will be appeals. There`s Eric Swalwell`s lawsuit, which is fascinating,
claiming damages to Congressman Swalwell because of the invasion of the
Capitol, that lawsuit is available to hundreds of members of Congress who
could each individually file one of those lawsuits against Donald Trump.
There could be no end.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The -- when Benny Thompson filed the first
civil lawsuit against Trump, and Eric Swalwell filed a different one what I
thought was going to happen, is Benny Thompson would go first, and other
members of the Congress would decide they wanted to join in. I didn`t
realize, if anyone had slightly different approaches to the same problem,
it could be a parade that lasts until the end of his life.
O`DONNELL: I spend the day studying Eric Swalwell`s lawsuit. We are going
to be joined tonight by the Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence
Tribe to get his reading of the lawsuit because if he tells us this is a
real lawsuit and it won`t be dismissed, it will get to a jury, it will get
to a Washington, D.C., jury, then that indicates it`s going to be many,
many, many more.
MADDOW: Yeah, and -- well, I know he is writing about it, and I can`t wait
for to you talk to him.
O`DONNELL: We will do that. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And one of the things to watch now, is who will be the first
criminally charged attacker on the Capitol who turns on Donald Trump and
fires a lawsuit against Trump saying Donald Trump was negligent in telling
people to go to the Capitol and to fight. One of the counts in Swalwell`s
lawsuit is that Trump`s language at the rally was negligent, at minimum,
and it inspired people to attack the Capitol.
Will Jacob Chansley at some point sue Donald Trump for what happened to him
that day? Will he sue Donald Trump for fraud in making him believe the
election was stolen and he had to put on his horns and go fight? Will Jacob
Chansley sue Donald Trump for negligence by urging Jacob Chansley and
thousands of others to go to the Capitol and fight. There are over 300
people whose lives have been disrupted, like Jacob Chansley`s, because of
what Donald Trump told them to do. What they did got them arrested by the
Which one of them will be the first sue Trump for damages? Which one of
them will sue Donald Trump to pay attorney fees in the criminal case? Which
one of them will sue Trump to pay for lost income and punitive damages for
the time spent in jail because of what Trump told them to do? Which one of
them will be the first to sue Donald Trump for fraud?
Now, that might sound like a crazy lawsuit to you, but not to them. They
are all crazy or stupid or both. And so far, the case is against every
single person at the Capitol show them to be crazy, stupid or both.
Jacob Chansley advertised his craziness in his outfit choice on January
6th, and today in a 32-page opinion, Judge Royce C. Lambert, who was
appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan used Jacob Chansley`s
craziness and stupidity as reasons not to let him out of jail before trial.
The judge said that there is no evidence that Jacob Chansley recognizes the
government`s authority over him, including the authority to the require him
to show up for a court date. The judge also quoted what Chansley said when
he was hitting in the vice president`s chair in the Senate chamber. Quote,
Mike Pence is an F-ing traitor.
And Jacob Chansley`s first conversation with the FBI the day after he sat
in the vice president`s chair, according to the judge, quote, he entered
the Capitol -- he entered the Capitol by the grace of God and said he was
glad he sat in the vice president`s chair because Vice President Pence is a
And the judge quoted what Jacob Chansley said to NBC News. It was not
recorded. It was written. He quoted what he said to NBC News that same day,
the same day he first talked to the FBI.
This is what he said: The fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in
office hunkers down, put on their gas masks and retreat in their
underground bunker, I consider that a win.
Jacob Chansley voluntarily drove himself to the FBI field office in
Phoenix, Arizona, to talk to the FBI thinking that he -- if he is so smart,
can talk his way out of trouble. Not knowing he already had secretly been
During that discussion with the FBI, at the FBI field office in Phoenix,
defendant twice told law enforcement that he had plans twice to drive to
the Arizona state Capitol, corroborating the plans. Law enforcement found
the horned head dress, face paint, six-foot spear and bull horn in the
defendant`s car which was parked outside the FBI field office. The
defendant was then arrested at the Phoenix FBI office.
He went to the FBI field office with the horns and the spear and the bull
horn in his car. Crazy? Stupid? Or both? You decide.
One of the reasons that added weight to Judge Lambert`s decision to keep
Jacob Chansley in jail is that he carried a weapon with him in the Capitol.
The judge described it as a six-foot pole with an American flag zip tied to
the shaft and a metal spearhead affixed to the top.
The defense trying to argue that was just a flag, and federal buildings are
filled with flags. The judge said, quote, whether or not an object is a
dangerous weapon does not turn on it available within government buildings.
By defendant`s logic, knives would not be considered dangerous weapons due
to their available in government building cafeterias.
Prosecutors want to take Federico Klein in jail awaiting trial. Prosecutors
note that he is also known as Freddie Klein. Freddie Klein had a security
clearance the day he invaded the Capitol because he was working in Mike
Pompeo`s State Department as a Donald Trump appointee. In their memo urging
that Freddie Klein not be granted bail, federal prosecutors say he used
physical violence against officers who are protecting the entrance and his
individual participation of the large mob tightened the dangerousness of
the day. He was captured on video saying, we just want a fair election.
The prosecutors say Klein stole a riot shield from an office and used it
violently against other officers. The prosecutors say that Freddie Klein
engaged in, quote, 30 minutes of what can only be described as hand to hand
combat. Klein was again captured on video hindering an officer, seeking to
help another officer who have been dragged into the mob in the lower west
Prosecutors say that he should be denied bail because his employment
history shows he knew how seriously he was violating the law and he
continued to do it. Prosecutors cite Freddie Klein`s oath of office as a
federal employee, to, quote, support and defend the Constitution of the
United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Despite his oath to support and defend the constitution, Klein demonstrated
his contempt for that oath, the legitimate functions of the government, and
for the constitution itself when he assaulted officers in an attempt to
stop the certification of a lawful election. If Klein is unwilling to obey
orders in full view of law enforcement, or to conform his behavior of the
law, even when he disagrees with it, despite his oath to the constitution,
it is unlikely he will adhere to this court`s direction. Freddie Klein,
crazy, stupid or both.
Freddie Klein is an oath breaker. He broke his oath of office. Some of his
attackers of the Capitol call themselves Oath Keepers. They are lying.
Don`t ever count on one of them to keep an oath. They are deranged people
who are dangerous to themselves enter to others and the FBI is still
looking for them, looking for deranged people who attacked the Capitol.
The FBI is still posting photographs on Twitter asking for help. Today the
FBI said they are looking for these people, these two, for assaults on
members of the media. These pictures keep coming up every day.
And today the FBI released video of the person they say planted bombs
outside of the Democratic Party`s headquarters and the Republican Party
headquarters in Washington, D.C. the night before the attack on the
Capitol. The FBI is asking for help in identifying that person.
Also today, it was revealed that Joshua James who is seen in photographs
with Roger Stone on January 6th before the attack on the Capitol has been
arrested. "Politico" reports the arrest made public the day of prosecutors
reveal they had charged fellow Oath Keeper and Stone`s security guard
Roberto Minuta for entering the Capitol is the latest evidence that
prosecutors are honing in on the extremist group with key ties to the
organizers of the pro-Trump Stop the Steal events, about a dozen oath
keepers have been charged, among the more than 250 Capitol rioters
identified by authorities.
And leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Adam
Schiff of California. He is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,
and he was the lead House manager and prosecutors in Donald Trump`s first
impeachment trial in the United States Senate.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Chairman Schiff. I really
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Good be with you.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to the last point we were covering here in
tonight`s reporting. And that is the connection between Trump confidants
like Roger Stone, the White House and invaders of the Capitol. There`s also
telephone data that has been collected from the cell phone services
indicating that there were phone calls tracing -- marking every phone call
from the Capitol that day, and there is evidence of at least one call to
the White House.
SCHIFF: Well, I think this is a very important part of the investigation,
and really at least a couple main components. The first is they`re going
out, the FBI fanning out throughout the country, identifying the
insurrectionists, those that were there, those that were carrying a spear
or threatening the life of the speaker or the vice president. And they`re
tracking down and arresting them. And they are seeking protection, and the
courts are ordering detention in some of these cases.
But the other aspect of the investigation is, who is involved in organizing
this? Who is involved in financing this? What ties if any are there between
the insurrectionists and public officials, and members of Congress, or
members of the Trump campaign or administration or allies of the president
like Roger Stone?
So, it`s going to be important for the FBI to get answers and it`s going to
be important for Congress to get answers and part of that is to bring
justice, to find people accountable. But also in terms of protecting the
Capitol going forward, we need to understand who was involved in this, who
role did social media play in helping these QAnon conspiracy theorists and
others find each other.
O`DONNELL: How important is it for the progress of the investigation and
the Justice Department to have Merrick Garland confirmed as attorney
general and be in there overseeing the progress of this since it will
eventually be handed off to him?
SCHIFF: Well, it`s very important. You know, for right now, as they are
tracking the people down, and making arrests. They might -- may file a
complaint with lesser charges, and have to make a situation about whether
to bring greater charges and some of the decisions might get dumped up all
the way up to the general attorney or main justice.
But in terms of the broader investigation, that`s really I think one of the
most important reasons why you need the attorney general confirmed, big
decisions about bigger cases with more -- far reaching repercussions. And
if they`re indeed were people close to the president who bear responsible
for the violence, that`s a decision that`s going to be made by the attorney
general. So he does need to be infirmed and I think time is of the essence.
O`DONNELL: We have seen many times where the Justice Department is
investigating something that Congress also wants to investigate and you
somehow have to choose your lanes and not cross over into the federal
criminal investigation. Have there been discussions in the House about how
to do that?
SCHIFF: I haven`t been part of the discussions yet. But I think, you know,
when we get to the point of bringing in certain witnesses, those
conversations should take place. I can tell you, in the beginning of the
Russian investigation, that we met with Mueller with the purpose of
deconflicting, you know, I don`t think he was interested in trying to
coordinate with us, and that is perfectly understandable.
But we wanted to make sure that nothing we did would prohibit them from
bringing some of the justice. And we certainly wouldn`t entertain, for
example, providing immunity to a witness if it meant that the justice
probably couldn`t bring a prosecution. So, at some point, there may be a
need for deconfliction, and we will make sure we are not treading too
heavily in their lane.
O`DONNELL: And thanks to Georgia electing two Democratic senators, you
find yourself in a different dynamic now in this investigation because you
also have a Democratic Senate, during -- when you were investigating Donald
Trump and the House of Representatives, there was actually no investigation
in the Republican-controlled Senate because no committee would conduct a
serious investigation there.
And so, you now have the possibility of coordinating investigation with the
Senate. Has there been any planning on that?
SCHIFF: You know, I think that probably both Houses are going to be going
about it separately. You`re absolutely right. There is a force multiplier,
and that you do have a Senate that is willing to take on the tough issues.
So, I think you`ll see federal (ph) actions and we will seen some of it
At the same time, it does under score why it`s so important to have an
independent commission that would have greater resources in the Congress,
because it will be utterly nonpartisan. It will also carry great weight and
credibility with the American people. So, I think in addition to the
efforts you see going on in the House and Senate, it really makes sense if
we want a body with a stature of the 9/11 commission to make
recommendations for the future that we establish that commission.
O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for leading off our
SCHIFF: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Up next, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe will join us
for tonight`s episode of defendant Trump.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is going to spend the rest of his life as a
defendant. Assuming 74-year-old Donald Trump avails himself of all of his
rights with appeal in civil litigation, ion which he is currently a
defendant, the litigation could easily follow Donald Trump well into his
80s and there is much more litigation coming Trump`s way, including
criminal cases Donald Trump in Atlanta and Manhattan, and he will appeal
the outcomes of those cases for many, many years to come.
There are now two major lawsuits filed against Trump by two members of
Congress for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, most recent by
Congressman Eric Swalwell, names four dependants all of whom spoke at the
Trump rally, urging people to go to the Capitol and fight.
Those defendants are Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump Jr., Representatives
Mo Brooks and Rudolph Giuliani. The lawsuit quotes Trump to fight like hell
and walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.
Swalwell`s lawsuit is suing Donald Trump for, count one, conspiracy to
violate civil rights, interference with official duties. Count two, neglect
to prevent interference with civil rights. Count three, negligence per se
incitement to riot. Count four, negligence per se, disorderly conduct.
Count five, bias related crimes, inciting assault, inviting riot, and
disorderly conduct and terrorism. Count six, intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Count seven, negligent infliction of emotional
distress. Count eight, aiding and abetting common law assault. Count nine,
If Congressman Swalwell`s lawsuit can proceed a motion to dismiss and
proceed to discovery, and then proceed to trial, a District of Columbia
jury will decide which each of the counts might be worth. And that decision
could bankrupt Donald Trump, and what is worse for Trump, every single
member of Congress could bring exactly the same lawsuit against Trump and
his son and Rudy Giuliani, and Congressman Mo Brooks, and all of those
defendants could bankrupt by all of those lawsuits.
Joining us now, Laurence Tribe, university professor of constitutional law
emeritus at Harvard Law School. He has won 35 cases in the United States
Professor Tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
And I want to bring the Congressman Swalwell lawsuit to you tonight for
your judgment on whether it was first of all survive a motion to dismiss
and make its way to trial.
LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.
It will survive a motion to dismiss. It will be tried, because it`s
extremely solid. I have studied it with great care.
And when you list those counts, a lot of people might not realize they are
a different variety. The first two are based on laws going back to 1871,
which are focused not on incitement as such, which might have First
Amendment problems. They are focused on conspiracy to interfere with the
operations of government, in this case, conspiracy to prevent the
certification of the next president. That is count one, which is based on a
1871 law, and then count two involves knowing about the conspiracy, knowing
that it is causing harm and then doing nothing about it. That`s basically
dereliction of duty.
Those two federal counts are extremely solid. Then the other seven counts
are based on specific provisions. Not of national law, but of District of
For example, count five is based on a section of the D.C. code, Section
22.3704, which involves the harm that people do when they organize attacks
against others based on race, ethnicity or their politics, their political
affiliation, their political ideology.
Well, obviously, this was an attack as the president made clear on those
members of Congress who are ready to certify the election of the next
president. When you look at the counts carefully, including the seven that
are based on District of Columbia law, they are legal to any legal
challenge. In my judgment, they raise no constitutional problems. The
factional allegations are specific and they meet all of the requirements
that would be applied, by someone who wanted to dismiss them.
And not only, as you said, Lawrence, every member of Congress who would
file similar suits but what about the survivors of the Capitol police who
were injured or killed? What about the people who with terrorized who were
calling home to say good-bye to their loved ones?
This is a very series serious lawsuit and it`s going to be an important way
for accountability to take place. Even if for various political or other
reasons the criminal prosecutions do not land Trump in an orange jump suit,
these lawsuits are going to provide financial compensation and punitive
damages to the many people who were terribly hit by this insurrection. The
people of the United States will not be fully compensated, that`s for sure.
But the people who were at the Capitol who were the direct victims of this
attack will I think receive a measure of justice.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, it`s -- as you read the lawsuit, I was focused,
professor, on the negligence claims because that`s such a common civil
tort. That you did something in a negligent way that created a certain
effect. And for the negligence part of it, you don`t have to prove that you
deliberately intended for me to fall down the stairs. It`s just because you
didn`t repair them, and you negligently left them way, I fell down the
And that piece of the lawsuit seems available to literally thousands of
people, including as you say, congressional staffers, Capitol police
officers. There are so many people who could make similar claims against
TRIBE: Right. Part of what he did with negligence, part of it was
reckless, part of it was intentional. All of it that caused the harms that
delayed the operations of government, although in the end, thanks to
courageous members of Congress, they got together and certified Joe Biden
as the next president.
But all of those things involve putting things in motion, that as a
president, could have pulled back when he saw the harm that is being done
rather than delighting in it, and expressing surprise about other people
around him not being equally delighted. And he could have called out the
National Guard more quickly, he could have more quickly. He could have told
the mob, go home.
But he waited. He waited and he egged them on, and that was a combination
of negligent activity, reckless activity, intentional activity, violating
the laws of the District of Columbia, and of the United States, as well as
O`DONNELL: I am fully expecting one of the people who`s been arrested in
the Capitol to at some point turn and sue Donald Trump for damages for
what`s happened to them. What would happen in that case?
TRIBE: Well, it would depend very much on the lawsuit. I don`t want to
comment on a complaint that I haven`t seen, perhaps one that hasn`t been
drafted yet. But it is clear that a lot of people who were bamboozled by
Donald Trump into doing his bidding and causing this riot, a lot of them
were I think innocent dupes.
They were victims of Trump`s big lie, and some of them, although they may
have a hard time proving that they were not the cause of their own injury,
some of them are going to be in a position to say that he tricked them into
it. That it was fraudulent on his part.
And I expect those lawsuits to go ahead although I obviously, can`t comment
on them. I haven`t seen them yet.
O`DONNELL: I expect there will be a day when we do at least see one of
Harvard`s constitution law professor Laurence Tribe, thank you very much
for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.
TRIBE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, the House will vote on final passage of the Biden COVID
relief bill tomorrow. In tonight`s episode of "What`s in the Bill", we will
concentrate on pages 33 to 59. So we`ll be joined by a couple of House
members who have worked very hard on those pages.
During this commercial break, you can grab your copy of the bill. And hint:
the two members of the Congress who are going to join us are both former
public school teachers. That is a hint about the section we`re going to be
O`DONNELL: 628 pages -- that is the final version of the Biden COVID relief
bill that will be passed in identical form by the Senate and the House of
Representatives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled the bill for a vote in
the House tomorrow.
In tonight`s episode of "What`s in the Bill", we are focusing on one of
under-reported sections, the education section which runs from pages 33 to
59. And those 26 pages deliver $170 billion of COVID relief support for
schools from kindergarten through universities.
Most of the spending, nearly $130 billion, is to help k through 12
classrooms and schools reopen safely. The bill includes funding to upgrade
school ventilation systems, reduce class sizes, enhance social distancing
in schools, provide personal protective equipment, hire additional staff to
care for students` health and monitor COVID safety protocols in schools.
Republicans say schools should just reopen. Joe Biden and the Democrats say
schools should reopen carefully and safely and they`re going to need
federal support to do that. And now Democrats are on the verge of
delivering that support.
Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Jahana Hayes of Connecticut. She
is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee. And she was named
national teacher of the year in 2016.
Also joining us Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York. He is
vice chair of the House Education and Labor Committee and was an educator
for 20 years before being elected a member of Congress.
And let me being with Congresswoman Hayes and what you`re focusing on in
those education provisions and what are the most important provisions for
REP. JAHANA HAYES (D-CT): Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. And
that national teacher of the year never gets old. But for me, from the very
beginning, I was pushing for schools to reopen safely and for us to make
sure that funding levels would not be cut so that social workers and
support service personnel, and all of those people that are necessary to
meet students who are returning from the most traumatic experiences of
I think this bill also does something that`s a little different. And it has
a mandatory 20 percent set aside to address long term learning laws. And
that`s what lots of people are talking about. Kids have been out of school
for a year. We have to close those gaps and just address some of the equity
issues that we all knew were present even pre-pandemic. So I`m very excited
about the provisions that we`ve fought really hard for that are a part of
O`DONNELL: Congressman Bowman, what are you looking at in the bill? You`ve
actually ran a school and so you have the administrative experience about
all these issues like the ventilation system and stuff that is beyond the
jurisdiction of individual teachers.
REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): Absolutely. So I would be working very closely
with the custodians in my school to make sure the ventilation systems and
the HVAC systems are up to par. But I also work very closely with teachers
and focusing on lowering class size. It`s going to be critical to Jahana`s
point to address the learning loss that took place during this time.
So we`re going to need to hire more teachers. We`re going to need to hire
teachers` assistants to give students the individualized and small group
support that they need to catch up academically.
I also want to mention -- and a lot of people don`t talk about this -- we
need to make sure that we bring play, physical education, sports, music,
and the arts into our schools. If we bring these things into our schools,
it helps with overall academic learning. It also helps deal with the social
and emotional trauma that our kids have dealt with over the past year.
So if I was still running a school, I would be super excited at this point
to bring in these resources to help my students and teachers and families.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Hayes, I hesitate to mention it but all three of
us have public school teaching experience. It was one of the first jobs
that I did in Boston. But I didn`t commit to it as a career the way you
But it does leave me in awe of a teacher of the year. And I want to ask you
a question for the parents out there who know their kids have fallen
behind, who have been watching them fall behind, especially kids who
aren`t, you know, wired to the Internet as well as they could be or at all
and have been losing ground.
What would you tell parents they should be looking for and they should be
asking for in their schools to get their kids back on track?
HAYES: Well, first of all, teaching was the best experience I could have
ever had coming into this job. Because in the classroom, every child is
your child. There are no Republicans and Democrats.
But for many parents, they may feel like the school knows what`s best and
they are not really sure what questions to ask or how to elevate their
I would encourage them to just ask the questions. Become active partners in
your children`s education. Express your concerns. I was very concerned at
the beginning of this pandemic about parents who had little or no digital
skills actually being required to log their kids on and to assist them in
I think we really need to have ongoing professional development even for
parents and families so that they can be active in their children`s
learnings. But just ask questions. Even if it seems like a silly question
or something that you feel like you should know, teachers are happy to
engage with you, to include you in your child`s learning. And I think it`s
going to take the entire village to get our kids back on track.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Bowman, as someone who has run a school and then you
suddenly find yourself writing legislation to help school systems, to help
schools, to help universities, to help the entire educational system, what
was your assessment of who you were working with? Suddenly here you are in
the government with the people who haven`t had your job, who haven`t run
schools and yet they`ve been legislating for the benefit of the field that
you are in.
Did you feel that the people you were working with in the House and the
Senate, staff, members of the committee had the right kind of information
and orientation about what they were working on?
BOWMAN: Well, I have to say, being here with Jahana makes it a lot easier
because we both have been in public schools for a very long time. So we
speak the same language. Rep. Takano from California also used to be a
teacher. He understands, he speaks the same language.
And yes, my background as an administrator and a teacher is helping me now
because I have to educate some of my colleagues on some issues that are
very paramount in this moment as we deal with the global pandemic.
For example, you know, the Department of Education decided to not grant
waivers to states in terms of not administering the standardized test this
year. And that`s a decision that I do not agree with.
Our kids are dealing with the biggest trauma of their lives. They`ve dealt
with gaps in learning where they`ve been pulled in and out of schools.
Haven`t had access to remote learning and now we are asking them to take
state standardized tests. And that is just unacceptable.
And one last point, what Jahana mentioned about parents asking questions,
that is key. Parents, teachers and students are like the holy trinity in
pour schools. They work in collaboration to enhance the learning of
students and enhance support for parents. And that is where our focus needs
to be. And that is what I try to share with my colleagues in the House.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Hayes, and Congressman Bowman, I cannot thank you
enough for allowing me to spend a few minutes in the teachers` room with
you tonight. This really is an honor to have you join us. Thank you both.
HAYES: Thank you.
BOWMAN: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, President Biden is going to have a bill signing of his first
big legislative victory only because Democrats won two senate seats in
Georgia and Republicans in Georgia are now trying to prevent that from ever
Georgia election expert Lauren Groh-Wargo will join us next. And I take
notes when Lauren speaks. You should too. You will learn a lot.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, the Biden legislative agenda is alive in Congress
thanks entirely to the state of Georgia delivering two Democratic senators
to the United States Senate. The Georgia Republican state government --
Republican-controlled government, doesn`t want that to happen again.
Today the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" reports a series of proposed
voting restrictions will be considered in the final days of Georgia`s
legislative session, including bills to end "no excuse" absentee voting and
limit weekend voting.
The very first bill introduced in the House of Representatives given the
designation H.R. 1 by Speaker Pelosi would prohibit states from doing what
the Georgia legislature is now trying to do.
H.R. 1 requires states to allow voting by mail for any eligible voter in
voter in federal elections. H.R. also requires states to allow at least two
weeks of early voting for federal elections including weekends for a period
of at least ten hours per day, including some early morning and evening
H.R. 1 also requires states to use automatic voter registration, offer
same-day registration, limit how they purge names from the roles, and
several other provisions.
Former President Jimmy Carter who is 96 years old now and who was a Georgia
state senator and governor before becoming president said this today. "As
our state legislators seek to turn back the clock through legislation that
will restrict access to voting for many Georgians, I`m disheartened,
saddened and angry.
Many of the proposed changes are reactions to allegations of fraud for
which no evidence was produced, allegations that were in fact refuted
through various audits, recounts and other measures. The proposed changes
appear to be rooted in partisan interests, not in the interest of all
Joining us now is Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action. She was the
manager of Stacey Abrams` campaign for governor.
Lauren, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight. And you
know, when I see that comment by 96-year-old Jimmy Carter who has been
fighting these battles for 60 years, it makes me realize, if we haven`t
before, that you are going to be fighting these battles for many, many,
many years and we`re never going to be able to settle into a comfortable
arrangement of sensible voting laws in all 50 states.
LAUREN GROH-WARGO, CEO, FAIR FIGHT ACTION: That is 100 percent accurate.
But I will bring your audience into this. It`s all of us. Because what
we`re seeing right now in this country in state legislative sessions from
Georgia, to New Hampshire, to Arizona, states across the country, there`s
two things happening.
And so Lawrence, I thought I would break that down and then talk about how
the For The People Act, H.R. 1 would impact these laws and why everybody,
no matter which state you are in, needs to engage with your state
legislature and your members of Congress.
Because it`s not just battleground states. It`s Republican states, states
like Texas that are building democratic power. And for those of you like,
why voting rights now, you know, this just seems to be a newer issue. It is
not. This has been hard fought and fraught forever in our country.
But there has been an industry around this, an industry of voter
suppression, pushing things like voter I.D., something called bureaucratic
violence. Professor Carol Anderson, voting rights expert calls it -- all
these bureaucratic impediments to voting.
And what`s happened that Donald Trump just like he emboldened white
nationalism and racism, he emboldened this industry of practitioners of the
big lie, the voter fraud lie around which all of these policy changes have
been going on for some time.
Now, what`s happened is that these forces have been building, raising
money, and after the insurrection and we go into legislative session,
right, the Monday after the insurrection in the Capitol, Lawrence, the
Georgia state legislature, Arizona State Legislature -- all across the
country, state legislatures were convening, many, the majority in our
country are controlled by Republicans and state after state start rolling
out voter restriction laws.
So let`s be clear. This a national strategy that is building over time that
is unleashed as a response to historic voter turn out. All of this stamp
(ph) of legislation and it`s precision focused on Democratic communities,
so communities of color in the South and young progressive students and
immigrants in the north, states like New Hampshire.
And it`s to do a couple things: to restrict access. But when I say it`s
precision and the bureaucratic violence that Professor Anderson talks
about, is because it`s doing all these nicks in the system that are going
to be the lines are going to get longer and they want longer lines because
longer lines is the top way you hurt turn out, ok.
And so when you look what they are doing in Georgia, restricting Sunday
voting, adding ID requirements to absentee balloting, banning drop boxes,
banning out of precinct voting. Why would they care about that. All of
these things are what African-American voters, Latino voters, Asian-
American voters, young, progressive voters were using. And that lifted the
ability for turn out at the polls in person, it brought down lines.
So it`s a virtuous cycle of elevated turn out. And so Reverend Warnock, my
friend Senator Warnock won by about 93,000 votes. that was about 2 points.
And so this cavalcade is about preventing that from happening and also
preventing Democratic takeover of state offices in Georgia.
Now, fly north in the country, where it`s 70 degrees and sunny in Georgia,
let`s fly north to New Hampshire in the snow, Senator Maggie Hassan won her
election in 2016 by just about a thousands. Well, news flash, Maggie
Hassan, her Democratic seat`s on the ballot next year, Lawrence.
And so what are they doing? The Republican legislature, Republican governor
in New Hampshire coming after students, making it harder for them to vote
from -- register and vote from campus. Coming after naturalized citizens --
increasing barriers, giving them bureaucratic hurdles to jump through.
Why are they doing this? Because they want to win the Senate. They want to
lock down power at the federal level and lock down state power. And so that
is where H.R. 1 comes in.
But I will pause because that`s a lot.
O`DONNELL: Lauren -- well, We have to pause for a whole another day because
we`re kind of out of time. But I do want to get to H.R. 1 because we have
under-covered it so far on this program and I do -- and you`ve set up
exactly why we need it. And why we need to cover it.
We will do that when you return. Lauren Groh-Wargo, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.
GROH-WARGO: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: If you`ve ever been on the floor of the United States Senate in
the middle of the night trying to pass a massive and complicated piece of
legislation as I have as a senate staffer, you know that getting the Biden
COVID relief bill through the Senate was an extraordinary achievement for
the new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
On the day that Democrats in Congress will deliver Joe Biden`s big
legislative victory tomorrow in the House of Representatives, Chuck Schumer
will -- Chuck Schumer will join us at THE LAST WORD tomorrow night.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will be here.
That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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