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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/10/22

Guests: Gwen Keyes Fleming, Ashley Coffield


Attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County district attorney`s office in Georgia who opened a criminal investigation into alleged violations of Georgia state law that occurred when elections officials in Georgia were pressured and intimidated after the last presidential election that they should effectively falsify the results of that state`s election. Two Republican sitting members of the Congress have said or signaled pretty intensely that they will not comply with requests for information and testimony from the January 6th investigation, Republican Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan. Hospitals are overwhelmed as COVID case numbers rise.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Dr. Craig Spencer, Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you very much. I think we lost your connection.

That is "ALL IN" on this Monday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.

We do actually have some breaking news to start with at this hour. We could report exclusively tonight that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County district attorney`s office in Georgia.

Now, it was months ago that we first learned that the prosecutor who leads that office, a prosecutor named Fani Willis, opened a criminal investigation into alleged violations of Georgia state law that occurred when elections officials in Georgia were pressured and intimidated after the last presidential election that they should effectively falsify the results of that state`s election.

It was a year ago, January 3rd, last year, when "The Washington Post" published this shocking audio recording of an extraordinary hour-long phone call that then-President Trump made personally to Georgia`s top elections official telling him he needed to find exactly the number of votes in the state that would allow Trump to falsely be declared the winner there.

Now, in Georgia, as in every state in the country, pressuring elections officials to interfere with the lawful administration of an election pressuring, election officials to change election results, that, of course, is a crime. This state prosecutor`s office in Fulton County, Georgia, opened that investigation under Georgia state law, pressuring or intimidating election officials is a Georgia state crime. It`s a crime this every state in the country and also a federal crime.

But while U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has made sort of vague patriotic statements about no one being above the law and federal prosecutors following the evidence wherever it leads, so far there is no evidence that federal prosecutors are investigating that call or any other reported instances of pressure that the president personally put on Georgia election officials about the conduct of their official duties.

So far, the only known criminal investigation into his efforts to falsify the election results anywhere in the country, the only known criminal investigation is that Georgia state investigation, and as of tonight, again, we can report that that investigation has now proceeded to the point where President Trump`s lawyers have started meeting in person with staff from the Fulton County prosecutor`s office. We will have more on that breaking news in just a moment. Both in terms of what effect this appears to be having on the former president and in terms of how we should understand the status of that case, its seriousness and how far it progressed given that those in-person meetings have started.

But, of course, this new news arrives at a time when the news gods are shaking the trees and a whole bunch of new stuff is falling out along these lines. You may remember right before Christmas, we reported here on this show on these documents. Documents that were forged by Trump supporting Republicans in the great state of Wisconsin after the presidential electric there on December 14th, after the 2020 election, that`s the day that every state was supposed to formally assign their electors for the Electoral College, Wisconsin and every state in the country.

The way that works is simple. In states that Biden won, those states formally name their Biden electors and say that those will be the state`s official electors and states that Trump won, those states say these are formally their Trump electors and those are the electors from this state. That happened in little sort of low-key, but official ceremonies all over the country in every state capitol in the United States on December 14th, 2020.

But in Wisconsin, as the official electors were meeting that day in the state capitol, and this is footage of the official electors meeting, we know, thanks to reporting from "The Journal Sentinel, the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," a group of Republicans decided this they, too, would meet secretly elsewhere in the Wisconsin state capitol. They didn`t invite the press or any observers from the public. "The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal" sussed out what they were doing.

We subsequently learned, though, that in addition to meeting to describe themselves as the electors from the state of Wisconsin, even though they weren`t, we subsequently learned this group of Republican in a state that Biden won, they put pen to paper. They not only declared that day that they were the real electors and they were electors for Trump. They actually drew up forged documents in which they tried to impersonate real electors.


They purported to be the actual electors from the state of Wisconsin.

And they apparently sent them into the National Archives and to the Congress as if they were the real electors. So we reported on that last month just before Christmas, and on the still live question in Wisconsin as to whether or not any of those ten Republicans who signed their names to those forged documents, whether they could actually be prosecuted for forgery for having signed their names to this document, impersonating real electors.

It`s still an open question in Wisconsin, before the state election board, potentially before the Milwaukee County district attorney. So that`s what we reported right before Christmas in Wisconsin.

But now look at this. "Politico" reporter Nicholas Wu had the really good idea to file public record requests in multiple states asking to see what officials in the states handed over to the January 6th investigation.

Now, if you think about this from an investigative point of view, this makes sense, right? We know that the January 6th investigation is looking at what happened in Washington, the lead up to the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. We know that part of what they are looking at is what happened in the states, right? There is a three-part effort to overturn the election.

In the states, gin up false claims of fraud and have false electors apparently declare themselves as Trump`s electors even in states that Biden won. Then the effort in the Justice Department to give credibility to the false election fraud claims and to pressure Republican-led state legislatures in those states they shouldn`t send the real electors. Then the third part of the plan happened in Washington, the pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to not count the real electors. Instead, count the false electors that these states were going to send or not count electors from those states at all. That`s what the mob attack on the capitol was about on January 6th, to pressure Mike Pence into playing his role in that three-part effort to overturn the election results, to falsify the election results and keep Trump in power.

Now, the January 6th investigation we know from public reporting has been going to some of the states are where this plan as effectuated and asking those officials for documents and testimony. If you want to know what`s happening in that part of the investigation, how do you figure it out? We know from conference if you FOIA the January 6th investigation, if you said the Freedom of Information Act, the federal one, to the January 6 investigation to find out what they`ve got, what they have been able to learn from those investigations with the various states, you will get bupkis, nothing.

But Nicholas Wu at "Politico" had a brilliant idea to turn it around and filed the state equivalent of FOIAs. He filed state public records requests with state government officials in all the relevant states asking them what they had handed over to the January 6th investigation. And under state Freedom of Information laws, state public records laws, bingo. Nicholas Wu at "Politico" has been able to find this new avenue into unearthing what the committee is seeing.

And what he has turned up, at least as of yet, includes this. Look at these documents here. Turns out it wasn`t just Wisconsin. On the left side of your screen, these are the similar forged documents from Republicans in Michigan, purporting to be the electors from the state of Michigan casting their votes for Trump, even though Michigan voted for Biden.

On the right side of your screen, these are newly unearthed forged documents from Republicans in Arizona, again purporting to be the real electors from the state of Arizona, casting their votes for Trump, even though in reality, Trump lost Arizona and Biden won.

Now, in both instances, just like the documents we dug up in Wisconsin, in both instances, these really are forgeries. If you`re a state that Trump lost and Biden won, the electors from your state are electors for Biden. But nevertheless, in both instances, here is Republicans in Michigan and Arizona pretending to be their state`s electors, pretending to be electors for Trump.

And I can tell you, I mean, based on our previous reporting about what Republicans did with these forgeries in Wisconsin, in Michigan it looks exactly the same. The Michigan documents, it looks exactly like the forgery we previously reported on from Wisconsin except it`s 16 electoral votes than ten and the names are different. Other than that, it`s basically word for word, and even matching formatting, matching fonts.

To the president of the United States Senate and the archivists of the United States, and the Michigan secretary of state, and the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in the western district of Michigan, pursuant to 3 U.S. Code Section 11, enclosed, please find Michigan`s electoral votes for president and vice president.


We, the undersigned, being the duly elected and qualified electors -- no, you`re not -- for president and vice president of the United States of America and the state of Michigan do hereby certify the following, that we convened and organized in the city of lancing and performed the duties and joined upon us being so assembled and duly organized proceeded to vote by ballot for president, Trump, 16 votes, Vice President Pence, 16 votes.

They are purporting to be the duly elected electors of the state of Michigan. They are not.

And then these 16 Republicans from Michigan all signed their name to this forgery as if they really are the Michigan electors and these are the official results of the election in the state of Michigan. A forged document purporting to represent the election results in that state. Again, these Michigan. Again it looks exactly like the document from Wisconsin.

In Arizona, interestingly, the formatting is different there. And the "Arizona Republic" reported at the time that this had happened, that Republicans in Arizona were trying to do something like this, but as far as you I know we have never seen the forged documents themselves before now.

And thanks to Nicholas Wu`s reporting at "Politico", here it is. Page one the state seal of the state of Arizona and it repeats throughout the document. The whole thing oddly has a notary stamp on it, each of the signatures is notarized. But it`s headlined the seating and voting of presidential electors for the general election for 2020. It includes seating and voting electors documents amend the previously submitted documents.

Whenever you have gotten before, these are the real ones. And you see the headline under the actual state seal from Arizona, the certificate of ascertainment of the electors. And then all the rest of the pages are each of those 11 Republicans purporting to be electors, each of them one by one solemnly attesting an signing their names to that document that says they are the real presidential electors from Arizona and they cast their electoral college votes for Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Each one of them individually signed and notarized under the official seal of the great state of Arizona. These documents are forgeries. These people are not the real electors. Both in Michigan and in Arizona, just like we saw in Wisconsin.

The real electors in all these states were Biden and Harris electors because Biden and Harris won those states. At least these three states that Biden won, we now know and we can now see the forgeries that Republicans tried to pass off as real electoral certifications. So their fake votes could somehow be counted in the Electoral College instead of the real ones.

And again, crucially, this was not just playacting. They were not apparently just drawing these things up to have, like, a little bureaucratic Christmas pageant in 2020 where they could pretend Trump won and wouldn`t that be fun to dress up and act it out? I mean, they actually sent these forged documents into the government, purporting to be real. They sent them to the Congress. They sent them to the National Archives.

Nicholas Wu reports today at that part of the reason we know is that the National Archives last December forwarded the Arizona forgeries to the secretary of state in Arizona, quote, for your awareness. National Archives making clear they were not planning to act on the forged documents but the secretary of state should know they exist.

The secretary of state in Arizona, Katie Hobbs, responded at least in part by sending a cease and desist letter to the Republican fake electors, telling them they at least really truly needed to stop using the official state seal.

Now, interestingly, we don`t know what ultimately became of the forged documents drawn up by the Republicans in Michigan. We don`t know of any response to them, for example, from the National Archives. We also don`t know if they are facing calls for their prosecution the way their neighboring Republicans are in Wisconsin right next door where they tried the exact same stunt, apparently using the exact same language, the exact same font, and formatting.

How can these forged documents look exactly the same between your two states? Somebody was organizing this forgery effort among Republicans in multiple states to send in false slates of electors as if they were real?

Because now we`ve got a hold of the forged documents they created in not one, not two, but three different states. Who believes we will find more where this came from? Raise your hand.

Two Republican sitting members of the Congress have said or signaled pretty intensely that they will not comply with requests for information and testimony from the January 6th investigation.


Republican Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry was the first. Now this weekend, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan has also indicated that he probably won`t comply, although he stopped short of explicitly saying so.

"The Washington Post" reports today that Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks may find himself on the receiving end of a request from the January 6th investigation. Congressman Mo Brooks, of course, put on a bulletproof vest and a hunting hat on January 6th and told the crowd that day, today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass. He said online that day as the pro-Trump mob streamed toward the Capitol, he said, quote, fight for America`s republic is on. Bam, the fight for America`s republic is on. He said that as the crowd streamed towards the U.S. Capitol.

When they actually started breaking into the building, Congressman Brooks tweeted, doors locked, Capitol complex breached, chamber doors locked, speaker leaves.

A former staffer to Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy told Jake Tapper in an interview at CNN last week Congressman Mo Brooks was laughing and cheering on the mob inside the house as they broke in and started rampaging through the halls of Congress. Congressman Brooks` office denied that account.

Reporter Michael Kranish today at "The Washington Post" says that the January 6th investigation is now weighing whether they will seek testimony from Congressman Brooks as well as Congressman Perry and Congressman Jordan, although whether or not they will put in a request to Congressman Mo Brooks, who knows how they will deal with these Republican members of Congress saying they won`t testify. Members of Congress, there is no precedent for subpoenaing them for trying to make it compulsory that they comply.

For his part, Congressman Brooks was in federal court today in Washington acting as his own lawyer, which is always a bad idea. He is acting as his own lawyer in the civil lawsuits, some of the civil lawsuits that have been brought to try to hold him accountable alongside president Trump and others for their behavior leading up to and on January 6th. This was a long federal court hearing in Washington, D.C., that addressed three of those civil lawsuits today.

It was specifically on the question of whether or not Congressman Mo Brooks and president Trump and potentially others could be considered immune from liability because whatever they did in conjunction with the events of January 6th, they did it in their official capacity as elected officials. And so, therefore, they can`t be sued for it. That is a real consideration under federal law and it`s an open question now being considered by this federal judge in Washington.

That said, I don`t mean indicate any certainty about how the judge going to rule and it`s always sort of hard to guess these things. You sort of guess these things at your peril in advance after listening to oral arguments in any particular case. But with those caveats, reporters who monitored the hearing noted that the federal judge did not seem particularly inclined to let at least former President Trump off the hook for his behavior that day.

The judge saying during today`s hearing, quote, what do I do about the fact the president didn`t it denounce the conduct immediately? Isn`t that from a plausibility standpoint enough to infer that the president agreed with the conduct of the people inside the Capitol that day? Quote, the words are hard to walk back. You have a two hour window where the president you doesn`t say, stop, get out of the Capitol, this is not what I wanted you to do.

The judge also said, quote, if my words had been misconstrued and they led to violence, wouldn`t somebody, wouldn`t the reasonable person just come out and say, wait a second, stop?

Again, those comments today in open court from the judge holding this hearing on whether or not Trump and Congressman Mo Brooks and others may be immune from being sued. It led a lot of observers to think that probably the immunity from lawsuit argument might not go far. But we`ll see. But we`ll see.

We`ll see if the former president may be subject to civil lawsuits about his role in the events of January 6th. The court today was considering three of the civil lawsuits that have been filed against him over his behavior on January 6th, but that isn`t all of them. There are at least nine lawsuits like this against him that we know of. So we shall see.

In terms of his criminal liability, though, the only investigation we know of is this one in Georgia. The district attorney in Fulton County is investigating Trump`s efforts to pressure elections officials on their administration of the election and the conduct of the count.


And, again, repeating our breaking news from the top of the hour, we can report tonight that in that ongoing criminal investigation former President Donald Trump`s attorneys have started meeting in person with that prosecutor`s office. And in fact here is one more piece of it.

You might remember in December, in mid-December, sort of apparently apropos of nothing, former President Donald Trump put out a statement that are often hyperbolic, can seem a little bit unhinged, but this one was seemingly apropos if nothing, and it was about specifically about prosecutors and investigators and even though his statement often seem unhinged, this seemed particularly unhinged for him.

I`m not going to read you the whole thing, but you will remember it. I`ll read you a piece of it, you will remember this. It is from December 18th. He said, quote, all the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. They are vicious, violent, and radical left thugs. They are destroying people`s lives, which is the only thing they are good at.

Their DA`s, attorney generals and Democratic law enforcement are out of control. Again, their D.A.`s, A.G.`s and Democratic law enforcement are out of control. This is what happens in communist countries and dictatorships. The people of our country won`t stand for it.

That was December 18th from Trump. Whoa, girl, calm down. What`s this about? Easy now. Easy, easy.

District attorney and attorney generals and law enforcement, oh, my, they are ruining lives and it`s communist dictatorships and the people need to rise -- what`s going on? Well, we can report tonight that that seemingly sort of unhinged statement from Trump decrying Democratic law enforcement, that statement happened within days of Trump`s attorneys having their previously unreported in-person meeting with the prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, who are investigating Mr. Trump criminally for his alleged actions to pressure election officials in that state.

That statement, again, within days of that previously unreported meeting by his attorneys in person with the Fulton County prosecutors office. Oh, maybe that`s what he was so you upset about.

Joining us now is Gwen Keyes Fleming. She`s someone who has known Fulton County district attorney for years. She is the district attorney to DeKalb County, which is right next to Fulton County.

Ms. Fleming, I really appreciate you making time to be here tonight. Thank you.


MADDOW: So, we`re reporting this news. I believe for the first time. I`ll stand corrected if it turns out anybody else has reported it. We think this may be the first time this news has been publicly reported.

Can you tell us from the perspective of somebody who has been a district attorney in Georgia, if there is anything at all that we should read into or we should see this as a signifier for in terms of the state of the investigation, that the gentleman at the center of the investigation, his attorneys are meeting in person with the prosecutor`s office?

FLEMING: Well, I think it signals that things are moving along. I think the fact that defense counsel met with the prosecutors, that, in and of itself, is not remarkable. That happens all the time in Georgia, even before charges are filed, particularly in high-profile cases where there may be speculation.

I think what`s interesting is the statements that we heard after that meeting, like you said, that didn`t appear to be context beforehand. Now, as you look at that full picture and all of the pieces and facts are coming together, it gives you a new light. And let me say, first of all, I had the pleasure of serving with elected district attorney to a Republican, elected district attorneys who are Democratic, and the one thing that is common among all of them is not ever can I ever point to a time where any of us made a decision to either prosecute or dismiss a case based on our political affiliation or that of the person that we were investigating.

So, the statements assigning a certain intention to Democrats versus Republicans is just patently false. That does not happen. That is a violation of the oath of office. And again I think if you step back, you can begin to put things in context, particularly if you go back in history. And think about the things that the former president said back in April of 2020 and the eight months leading up to the election, where he decried a fair election.

He indicated that there was rampant fraud through mail-in voting and kept saying that the election would be rigged, and you could see how those early statements then snowballed into what became the big lie of him winning the election and Joe Biden losing. And so if you take that frame and apply it to these current statements, you can`t help but wonder if this is the beginning of a similar playbook, where he is trying to undermine and create doubt in the integrity of the criminal justice system, just like he did the voting and elections system.


MADDOW: Oh, I see what I mean, this may be an effort because of what he is expecting to happen in this investigation or potentially others, he is trying to seed doubts and seed essentially a critical attitude among those who listen to him and believe him and support him, that anybody who does pursue some prosecution or otherwise investigation of him is motivated by partisan means and shouldn`t be trusted. He is trying to pre-spin what he expects to be negative outcomes from these investigations. Is that what you mean?

FLEMING: That`s exactly right. Exactly right.

MADDOW: The last time that we spoke, Ms. Fleming, we spoke a few months ago about some reporting that the district attorney`s office in Fulton County was considering empanelling a special grand jury in order to focus on this case. Obviously, grand juries meet all the time. Grand juries consider every kind of case that a district attorney has to handle.

There was reporting that District Attorney Fani Willis in Fulton County was impaneling a special grand jury to handle this matter. We don`t know if that has happened. There`s no sign that has happened.

Is there some sort of time line that we should be keeping in mind in terms of when decisions like that would need to happen or when you would expect them to happen in terms of the life span of this investigation?

FLEMING: So, let me point out though, special grand juries are very different than regular grand juries. Those are focused on criminal indictments, regular grand juries, and they turn over every two months.

So a special grand jury does not produce indictments. It would produce a final report that would be critical in signaling what the citizens of Fulton County may or how they may be viewing the facts and evidence presented before them about this case. But in terms of timing, it would need to be specially impaneled. The D.A. would need to write a motion or submit a motion to the chief judge of superior court asking for the special grand jury and then there would be really, I want to say, no time limit on how long it could convene. That would all be dictated by the complexity of the case.

And so, I have had special grand juries that were impaneled for a year because of the type of matters that we were looking at. But what that does, it gives you a continuous group of dedicated citizens reviewing your evidence and they can look at the full picture that every fact, every document, every tape, every witness statement, every piece of the puzzle that paints the picture about what happened. And after reviewing all of that, they would write a report as to whether they thought there was sufficient evidence for criminal charges to be brought, and that would then give the district attorney a leg to stand on, if you would, that her case was being evaluated by the actual citizens and not just the folks in her office.

MADDOW: If she made a motion to the chief judge of the superior court to impanel a special grand jury, would that be a public facing motion or would that be something that would be confidential?

FLEMING: They usually are public faced.

MADDOW: Gwen Keyes Fleming, thank you very much for your expertise. It`s absolutely invaluable to have your help understanding these stories. Former District attorney in the DeKalb County, Georgia, Ms. Fleming, thank you so much for your time tonight.

FLEMING: Glad to be here. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to her this very busy Monday night. Stay with us.



MADDOW: First, they showed up in the great American city of Philadelphia. It was this weird Hitler youth-looking march. In downtown Philly last Fourth of July weekend, hundreds of white supremacist in matching tweedy uniforms marching in Philadelphia, yelling the election was stolen, the election was stolen! The only, I mean only silver lining of that story is that the people of Philadelphia were having none of it.


MICHAEDL CRUM, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: They started engaging with citizens of Philadelphia who were none too happy about some of the things they were saying. Apparently, these males felt threatened and somebody in their crowd threw a type of smoke bomb to cover their retreat and they literally ran way from the people in Philadelphia.


MADDOW: Yeah, the paramilitary white supremacist group, macho in their matching khakis and their polos, they, the police captain put it, literally ran away from the people of Philadelphia. I have lived in Philadelphia. I love Philadelphia and, no, I am not surprised about the talents of the people of Philadelphia in moments like this.

But then our goose steppers popped up again last month in Washington, D.C. They got their white nationalist flag, their little homemade plastic shields and their khakis and their soccer team shin guards and they marched in formation down the national mall in what was supposed to be a show of neo-Nazi force in our nation`s capital.

It`s supposed to be intimidating. It`s a lot of things. It is a lot of things. It`s not intimidating because they are pitiful.

But this neo-Nazi little boys club that keeps popping up all over the place, they call themselves patriot front. Their leader used to run Vanguard America, the same idea with the khakis and everything. Vanguard America changed its name to patriot front after a member made the murderous decision to drive his car at speed into counter-protesters at that "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017.


So, now, they are -- this other group, Patriot Front, same idea. Here they were this weekend at a March for Life event, an anti-abortion march in Chicago this weekend. They marched alongside anti-abortion activists carrying a banner that said: Strong families make strong nations, which isn`t creepy or anything.

To be clear, many of the anti-abortion folks were bewildered or unhappy that the white nationalist middle managers club was crashing their event. A few also welcomed them.

And this paramilitary white supremacist group showing up in formation to march and make common cause with the anti-abortion movement, this comes as anti-abortion politics is becoming sort of increasingly emboldened. It looks like the Supreme Court is poised to remain what is left of Roe versus Wade. They have already gutted it this year and Texas` abortion ban remains in effect right now.

At the same time, though, anti-abortion militancy and violence is getting to a new place as we see white supremacists and apparently anti-abortion groups marching in the streets of cities like Chicago. We found an important don`t in this story next.

Stay with us.



MADDOW: Here`s how the FBI agent described the early mornings -- excuse me, early hours of a February morning at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri. The FBI agent says, quote, after breaking the glass door, the defendant threw a Molotov cocktail incendiary device in the building. The defendant remained standing to on the sidewalk outside the door watching the inside of the building. Sometime later smoke is visible billowing from the broken glass door of the Planned Parenthood building.

That man was sentenced just over a year ago in September 2020. The man described by that FBI agent was sentenced to five years in prison for setting fire to that clinic in Columbia, Missouri.

In January 2020, it was a different guy. It was an 18-year-old man who had rhapsodized online how much he wanted to shoot Democrats who supported abortion rights. That young man decided at some point that he was going to bring his online threats into real life. He threw a firebomb into the Planned Parenthood clinic in Newark, Delaware. He also spray-painted on the clinic building the Latin phrase for "God wills it", which is a crusades era battle cry that far right white activists and white supremacists have adopted in recent years.

That 18-year-old pled guilty in federal court in February last year, pled guilty to throwing that incendiary device into the Planned Parenthood window. He is set to be sentenced later this month.

Surprisingly, and thankfully, in those attacks nobody was injured. But the attacks do keep coming. Last week, we reported that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee, was set on fire just a couple of weeks ago on New Year`s Eve. Authorities have since determined that that was, in fact, an arson attack and it was a complete destruction of the property. Nine fire units responded to the scene but they couldn`t save it.

The clinic was in a midst of a $2 million renovation due to double its size. Somebody intentionally burned it to the ground. It is a total loss.

This time last year that same clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee, was attacked another time. Somebody fired a shotgun through the front doors on the anniversary of the Roe versus Wade decision, January last year. That crime has never been solved. No arrests were ever made. Nearly one year later, no suspect has been identified.

But now in connection to the fire, there is a $10,000 reward out for information about the New Year`s Eve arson attack that destroyed the Knoxville Planned Parenthood clinic. That clinic, for context here, it served 4,000 people last year.

Tonight, it is ash and rubble. Joining us is Ashley Cofield. She is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi.

Ms. Coffield, it`s a pleasure to have you with us tonight. I know this is a stressful time. Thanks for being with us.


MADDOW: Let me first start by asking if I got any of that wrong or if I have missed out any of the important details, if there is anything we are misconstruing or don`t know about that you might know about in terms of what happened with your clinic.

COFFIELD: No. We know from fire investigators that it was arson. They do have the evidence to prove that. And we`re so grateful to them for all of the hard work they are doing to get it the bottom of it.

MADDOW: In terms of the evidence they have got, I am disheartened, I will say, to know that the crime this time last year in which somebody shot a shut gun through the front door of the clinic, that was never solved. Do you know anything about the strength of the evidence that allowed them to determine that this was arson? Does the strength of the evidence give you any -- any comfort that a suspect might ultimately be identified?

COFFIELD: I have all the faith in the world in the investigators. The Knoxville Fire Department did a terrific job protecting our neighbors from harm. It was a huge fire, Rachel. And none of our neighbors were harmed. And they worked hard with the ATF to collect all the evidence as quickly as possible and they are working as hard as they can to get to the bottom of it.

MADDOW: You know, roughly a month before the shooting at the clinic last year, we read in terms of looking at local press an anti-abortion group new to the Knoxville area started protesting outside your clinic and this group held a prayer vigil, for example, where they prayed every fire of heaven would come against this building, given the ultimate fire at the clinic that is, obviously, foreboding and terrible.

I don`t mean to draw any supposition here. I don`t mean to connect the anti-abortion protests and these crimes, these violent crimes committed against the clinic. But I wonder if you could talk about the atmosphere, about the protests around the clinic, whether you have been experiencing threats towards your staff or patients?

COFFIELD: Well, we have seen an increase in harassment at all of our locations in Tennessee over the past several years, which is, obviously, very concerning. And I can`t help but relate it back to the charged rhetoric and the extreme policies promoted by our Tennessee general assembly and our governor. You can`t help that.

They create an environment where harassment and hate and violence justifiable. And I want everybody to know that we`re not intimidated by that and we are going to move forward, we are determined and committed to rebuild.

MADDOW: Now, you`ve said just here that you plan to rebuild. I know you said that recently since fire investigators confirmed this was an arson. Can you talk to us about what kind of challenge this is? Obviously, financially this is -- and logistically and in terms of the intimidation factor, this is -- this is a big deal, but this is also a clinic that was serving 4,000 people a year at this site.

What are the kinds of challenges, what kind of support have you had since this crime, what are your plans in terms of how you will rebuild?

COFFIELD: Well, right now, we are helping our patients with referrals and with telehealth to the extent that we can. We are looking for a safe operating site to get back to work for our patients as quickly as possible and thinking about what the rebuild will look like.

Knoxville wants us to be there. Our patients need us to be there. And we are going to be there. At that clinic, we were offering abortion services. We were offering gender affirming hormone care. We were offering free and low-cost birth control, including free IUDs. So it is a significant cost for the community.

And the fire erased the hard work of lots and lots of people who were making that expansion possible and we were so close to being almost finished. But we are committed and determined to be back in Knoxville as quickly as possible.

MADDOW: Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi. Ms. Coffield, thank you for your time tonight. And again I know this is a difficult time. Keep us apprised of any updates. We will keep watching for updates from law enforcement in terms of this reward that they have put out for information leading to anyone`s arrest. We`d love to keep in touch with you about your rebuilding plans and how else this develops. Thank you.

COFFIELD: Wonderful. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.



MADDOW: All right. Take a look at this. This is a chart that shows COVID hospitalizations in our country right now, and this isn`t case numbers. This is people who wind up in the hospital with COVID. You can see the first big bump. That`s when the U.S. hit our peak for COVID hospitalizations a year ago. That`s January of last year.

The second big bump, that was the delta wave that filled hospitals last fall. And now look at the spike on the right side of your screen. That is where COVID hospitalizations are right now. More people being admitted to the hospital with COVID right now than at any other time during the pandemic.

And it is probably going to get worse before it gets better. Right now, the CDC is projecting that new COVID hospitalizations are going to surge further over the next three weeks. Further beyond where they are even now.

Here`s the headline from "The Missouri Independent" today. Missouri COVID hospitalizations set new record as omicron variant spread accelerates, hospitals face a double whammy as patient burden increases while staff are out due to illness.

In St. Louis, Missouri, sick patients have reportedly been waiting in emergency rooms for days. Days waiting in the ER, days, because there is no room for them to be admitted anywhere else.

Here is the Baltimore sun from yesterday. Staffs of Maryland hospitals, stressed and sickened with COVID-19 know cavalry isn`t coming.

In Muskegon, Michigan, just off the Great Lakes, one hospital there is so short on beds they are seeing patients in an outdoor tent. And I know you`re thinking, I remember we used -- we`re doing that before, outdoor tents, right.

You know what? The high temperature today in Muskegon, Michigan, was 17 degrees Fahrenheit. That was the high temp. They`re seeing people in tents outside.

On Friday, Colorado announced that they`re going to start rationing care for emergency medical centers, rationing ambulances and EMTs for the first time since the start of the pandemic. They`ve never had to do that before.

Every day, we are getting more and more stories from states across the country, trying to balance this unprecedented number of hospitalized patients with an equally unprecedented number of sick staff. But despite that very bad national picture, trying to find some silver lining here, some light on the horizon, there is maybe some first glimmers of reasons to be hopeful.

New York City, you recall, was the first major city to get hit by the omicron wave. This is what cases have looked like over the past few weeks in New York City. See that line graph shows the seven-day rolling average of cases. Again, New York City, you can see that the caseload number at least has started finally to fall in recent days, and thankfully, it is a similar story with hospitalizations in New York, which are following, temporarily following the case numbers, but they also appear to have started to turn the corner.


May that continue. If those trends continue in New York City, and that is a big if, it could be a sign that this current wave may be on track to come down just as rapidly as it rose up.

The top elected official for Manhattan said tonight online, quote, there are continued signs that New York City`s omicron wave has plateaued. But with cases and hospitalizations still at levels so high, they`re impacting our city in profound ways. This remains a time for caution.

Well, plateauing is not as good as dropping, but either dropping or plateauing is better than the stratospheric rise we`re seeing everybody else. Let`s hope that what is happening in New York City continues. Let`s hope it is a sign of things to come for the rest of the country.

Get vaccinated if you have not already.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: Something to keep an eye on in tomorrow`s news. President Biden and Vice President Harris are making a rare joint trip, traveling together to Atlanta where the president will deliver a voting rights speech and he is expected to call out Georgia Republicans for what they`re doing to make it harder to vote in that state.

This is happening, of course, as Senate Democrats have renewed their push at the federal level to try to pass new protections for voting rights. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has set Martin Luther King day, a week from today, as the deadline for Democrats to vote on changing the Senate filibuster rules in order to get those rules passed.

But the pressure here is intense. A coalition of voting rights groups that helped Biden win Georgia in 2020. Those groups have essentially told the president in a statement, don`t show up in Georgia without a plan to get these bills passed. Some of those groups plan to boycott the president`s speech tomorrow in Atlanta. We shall see.

MSNBC will have live coverage of the president`s speech tomorrow. It is expected to start shortly before 4:00 Eastern, and we`ll see you there.

And that does it for us tonight, though. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.