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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/11/22

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Ben Jealous


President Joe Biden delivered remarks on voting rights in Atlanta. Interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, chair of the Rules Committee.


ADAM MCKAY, DIRECTOR, "DON`T LOOK UP": So, I`m sure I only get about 10 percent of it. This is somewhere between the Cuban missile crisis and the initial bombing of London. And we`re at, like, don`t use aerosol cans because of the hole in the ozone, or Y2K. I mean, we`re nowhere the reality of it.


MCKAY: So, clearly, we`re all failing.

And, by the way, once again, if you notice in the movie, we take shots at Hollywood, which includes me. We take shots at everyone, across the board. We`re failing in a tremendous way to convey these truths. And it may simply be a matter of our format is wrong.

We may need to do three times longer segments before commercial breaks, or movies may need to be four times longer. I don`t know.

HAYES: Right.

MCKAY: But, yeah, the gulf between the reality and how we`re perceiving is massive, and very disturbing.

HAYES: Adam McKay, it`s a great movie, you should check it out. Thank you so much.

MCKAY: Thank you, Chris. Always a pleasure.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Tuesday 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 on this hour. We`ve got a lot going on the show tonight.

After President Biden`s big voting rights speech in Atlanta, Georgia, and all the fallout from that. We`re going to be talking tonight with a senator who was there at the speech, and has a bit of an inside track on whether or not the Senate is going to deliver on what Vice President Harris and President Biden called for today. This is a senator who has been with the president all day. She`s going to be joining us live in just a few minutes, after she touches back down in D.C. on the Air Force One flight back from Georgia. Very much looking forward to that conversation.

We`re also going to be speaking with one of the leading voting rights activists in the country, someone who, to be honest, has actually given President Biden a really hard time on this issue, who has been really confrontational with President Biden and the Biden administration on this issue. He`s been pretty relentless in saying that President Biden needed to do more, need to say more, needed to go further to make sure everything possible was being done to protect voting rights.

This activist told us today that he thinks President Biden in Atlanta today hit it out of the park. That this is exactly what he was hoping to hear. So we`ll hear from him in a few minutes tonight as well. He`s got a really interesting perspective on this stuff.

So, we`re going to get to all of that.

Briefly, though, before we get to all that, I want to tell you about a new interesting development in the story we`ve been chasing for a little bit, a little while now. It suddenly seems like we`re starting to get somewhere with this. And I want to give you an update.

Now, this is something we first talked about this on the air last month, just before Christmas, when we obtained this document from Wisconsin. This document is a forged document. It purports to be the official slate of electors chosen by Wisconsin in the last presidential election, but it`s not.

In Wisconsin, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump, and so, that means Wisconsin chose Biden electors. The state chose Democratic Party electors to cast votes in the Electoral College.

But last month, we reported on this document that was created by Republicans in Wisconsin after the election. They sent it in to Congress. They sent it to the National Archives. They tried to pass it off as an official document, as if they were the real electors, and they were casting Wisconsin`s electoral votes, and they were casting them for Trump and Pence.

So we talked about that forged document from Wisconsin here on the show last month. And we did that in the context of this sort of ongoing open question in Wisconsin as to whether or not anybody will get in trouble for that, whether or not the state election board or state prosecutors will pursue the signers of that fake document, potentially on forgery charges. So that is sort of where this story started for us.

And, boy, did we hear from you, the viewers, on this story. We got a lot of feedback, a lot of people expressing concerns about how serious this seemed to be. And, you know, it`s a big story. You know?

Wisconsin Republicans taking the whole election denial mishegoss one step beyond, actually sending the National Archives and Congress a forged document, where they pretended to be the state`s real electors when they were not. It`s a fascinating story. And I understand why a lot of our viewers were disturbed and contacted us about it.

That was where we were last month. Then last night, thanks to reporting from, the reporter Nicholas Wu, we were able to show you additional forgeries from additional states.


It turns out, it was not just Wisconsin. Republicans in Michigan and Republicans in Arizona also created forged documents after the election where they tried to pass themselves off as the real electors for those states, when in fact they were not the real electors for those states. And again, they didn`t just prepare these documents for, you know, home scrapbooking, how I wish the election had gone, right?

They actually prepared these documents, made them look as official as possible. They cited U.S. law. They proclaimed themselves, quote, officially to be the legal representatives of the state. And they sent these things in to the government to be counted, pretty astonishing thing, right?

And we first got the forged documents from Wisconsin last month. And last night, we showed you similar forgeries from Michigan and from Arizona as well.

Now, if you watched last night`s show, do you remember how I said, when I was talking about this story, raise your hand if you think there will be more of these? Yeah, that didn`t take long. It turns out there`s more.

And let me show you this at the outset. This is what the real one looks like. This is what the real document is supposed to look like. When a state finalizes and certifies its election results, they know which candidate won the state, that tells you which electors will cast that state`s vote in the Electoral College.

If Trump won, it will be Trump electors, if Biden won, it will be Biden electors. This is a real process.

Here`s what it looks like for real. Here for example -- this is Michigan, for example. All the states do it a little differently, but the basic point is to convey all the same official information. So, here`s the real one from the state of Michigan, it kind of looks like a diploma. Let`s do the real elector certificate from Arizona. Looks like a medical degree.

Not all of them are fancy like this. This one from Georgia is all business, just the facts. Same with the one from Wisconsin. It`s cold this time of year, just get to the point.

Most states end up somewhere in the middle between like, you know, something that looks like a diploma on the one hand, and something that looks like a gas station receipt on the other. Like here`s one, for example, from Nevada. This is fairly typical.

Every state does it different, but these are all real. And the basic information is the same. We the undersigned, being the duly elected and qualified presidential electors for the state of "x," and then the votes cast from the electors for the relevant candidate, they have the signatures of all the people who are qualified electors. That`s what the real ones look like.

Can we put those on the screen together? I think we have them from a bunch of different states. Can we put them? Yeah. Okay, so there`s the five I just mentioned.

It`s -- as you can see, it`s the same basic information on all of them. All these documents serve the same purpose. They all meet the constitutional threshold they need to meet in order to convey these information officially.

But they all look a little different. They convey the information visually a little differently, depending on how fancy the state felt about this particular topic, and how, you know, what kind of nice station stationery they had. Now, I picked these five states to show what the real electoral vote ascertainment documents look like. I picked these five because thanks to the watchdog group American Oversight, we now know that in all five of these states, Republicans also prepared forged, faked documents that were sent to the government, proclaiming that actually these other electors were the real electors from these states, and they were casting state electoral votes not for Biden, but for Trump.

Just watch this. Tell me -- tell me if you notice something. These are the documents from Georgia. In Georgia, that`s the real electoral vote document on the left, that`s the forgery on the right.

In Nevada, that`s the real one on the left, and the fake one on the right.

Here also is Wisconsin, where we reported on their forgery last month. That`s the real one on the left, and fake one on the right. Here`s Michigan, where we reported their forgery last night. It`s the real one on the left, and the forgery on the right.

And lastly, here`s Arizona, the real electoral vote document on the left, and the fake one on the right. It wasn`t one state. It wasn`t three states where they did this. At least five states where we`ve now obtained forged documents created by Republicans.


And it`s not like they, again, created these documents to, like, hold close to their chest and fantasize that this had been the real outcome. It`s not like they created these documents just to keep themselves as a keepsake. They sent them in to the government as if they were real documents. And it`s not like, hey, we know they`re not the real electors, because Biden won here, but here`s our names for posterity. Here`s our names for your records.

No, they actually created these fake documents purporting to be the real certifications of them as electors. I mean, here it is in the forged document from Georgia. Look at the language. We, the undersigned, being the duly elected and qualified electors from the state of Georgia do hereby certify -- you are not the duly elected and qualified electors for the state of Georgia. You are not.

But that language, a language just like that is in all of these. You might have noticed something. When I put those five up there, you may have noticed, all the real certificates and electors from the states, they`re all different. They`re all unique. Every state is a little different. They`re all with their own quirks, their own fancy or not fancy paper and decorations and seals.

Contrast that with the forged Republican documents. Look at them. They all match. Exactly. Same formatting, same font, same spacing, almost the same, exact wording, all of them.

Now, you might remember on last night`s show, we noted that the forged documents from Michigan and Wisconsin looked really similar, looked really alike. But the Arizona one actually looked a little bit different.

Here`s the amazing thing we discovered today about Arizona. It looks like there were two sets of forged Electoral College documents sent in by Arizona Republicans. There was the sort of different looking one that we showed you last night with notary stamps all over it and stuff. That was one that was obtained by that we showed on the air here last night.

But now, as of today, thanks to American Oversight, we have obtained another one, also from Arizona, also a forgery. A whole different set of Republican impostors sent one in from Arizona, and that matches exactly all of the other forged electoral votes from the six other states that we have found. Excuse me, from the four other states that we have found.

So this is kind of nuts, right? I mean, Arizona alone. In Arizona, they`re so around the bend that two different sets of Republicans sent the National Archives and Congress two different sets of forged, fake documents purporting to be the Electoral College votes from the state of Arizona. One of those forgeries was maybe, like, freelanced. Let`s get a notary to sign every page.

But the other one from Arizona matches exactly in form, spacing, font, and language, exactly the forgeries sent in by Republicans in at least four other states. In these five states, one of the two forgeries from Arizona, and the four other states, the forged documents all match.

This would therefore appear to be some kind of a coordinated effort, or at least someone gave Republicans in all these states the same template for creating these false records. Because they all have the exact same language, they all have the same font, they all have the spacing, they have the same formatting. That doesn`t happen by accident. Who organized this in these five different states?

We know a lot now. We have learn a lot in the last year about all the things former President Trump and his associates did to try to seize power, to try to falsify the election results and prevent the newly elected president from taking over.

Now, we are starting to figure out that those efforts appear to include someone, somewhere coordinating an effort in at least five states to have Republicans create and submit to the government forged documents in which they claimed to be the real electors from their states when they were not. Electors for Trump, even though these were all states that Biden won.

This was not a clear and coordinated effort before, but now we know it was. Who coordinated this effort? Now, at the time this was happening, Pennsylvania Republicans, Pennsylvania was not one of the states we`ve been talking about here, they actually put out a statement saying the Trump campaign had asked them to create and certify within the Republican Party a Republican set of electors for Pennsylvania. As they explained in their press release at the time, though, the Pennsylvania Republicans didn`t forge a document to make it look like they were the real electors. They created a new document that said they would become the electors if court ever ordered that the Republican side had won the election in Pennsylvania.


They didn`t forge a document saying they believed they were, they were purporting to be the official electors from Pennsylvania. They created a document that said if a court ever says that Republicans won in Pennsylvania, then we`ll be the electors.

Now, they say the Trump campaign advised them to create that alternate slate. We`re trying to track down the claims, if in fact the Trump campaign was recruiting Republicans to not just create contingent states of electors, in case the results were ever reverse by court. But if the Trump campaign was commissioning Republicans to forge official-looking documents in multiple states where the wrong electors actually purported to be the real electors, we`ll do our best to get to the bottom of that.

But here`s something else to note. After these forged documents were created and submitted to Congress and the National Archives, from these five states, where fake slates of electors said we`re the electors from our states, five states, after that happened, we know that at least one Trump loyal at the department of justice, the U.S. Department of Justice was aware that Republicans had done this in multiple states.

Now, one of the Trump officials who has pled the Fifth, who was invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination in order to avoid testifying to the January 6th investigation, his name is Jeffrey Clark, former Trump Justice Department official named Jeff Clark.

Clark, you might remember, he`s the one that Trump reportedly tried to install as attorney general right at the end. The best we can tell from public reporting, Trump seemed to like the cut of his jib, after Jeff Clark drafted a letter that he insisted must go out on Justice Department letterhead, to some of the states that Trump lost, including Georgia.

This letter, that was reportedly drafted by Jeff Clark was addressed to the state government in Georgia, or reportedly was going to be sent to other states as well. The letter falsely stated that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating serious credible claims of fraud and the election. That the state legislator, there, should consider holding back the state`s electoral votes.

Jeff Clark drafted this letter from the U.S. Justice Department to go to Georgia and other states. And because the rest of the Justice Department wouldn`t sign off on it, Trump tried to install Jeff Clark as attorney general, so that Jeff Clark could send that letter and sign it attorney general.

I mean, had that happened, think about -- had the U.S. Justice Department jumped in, the way Trump wanted to, the way Jeff Clark proposed, had the U.S. Justice Department told Republican-led states, in formal letters, don`t send in Biden electors, on advice from the U.S. Justice Department, you better not do that, how do you think Republican legislators in those states would`ve acted?

It`s one thing to get an off the wall call from Trump berating you, right? It`s another thing for the U.S. Justice Department to formally advise you, over the signature of the United States attorney general, that you must send in your electors, because there are real problems with the vote in your state. How would Republican legislators deal with that? How would they have responded? We would be living in a very different country, right now, had that U.S. Justice Department letter actually gotten out to the states.

I`m not even sure all of us would be even living in the same country as each other anymore had a letter got out. That was just insanity. That would have been as radical as Trump`s other reported idea, to send the National Guard out to seize the voting machines, and rerun the election. It would`ve been just that radical, had the U.S. Justice Department intervened to stop the administration of the election.

Here`s the thing, that insane draft letter, written by Jeff Clark, which made Trump want to install him as attorney general, that insane draft letter, was apparently created last December, it was dated December 28, 2020, that letter explicitly describes these forged slates of electors, from multiple states. It says in the middle of the letter, the department believes, meaning the Department of Justice believes that in Georgia and several other states, both as a slate of electors supporting Biden, and a separate slate of electors supporting Trump gathered on December 14th at the proper location to cast their ballots, and both sets of those ballots have been transmitted to Washington, D.C. to be open by Vice President Pence.

In fact, I don`t know why the Justice Department believes that to be true, but that was correct. We now know. Multiple states, Republicans in multiple states, had sent in false assertions, forged documents claiming to be the electors for their states.

That draft letter was dated December 28th, how did that guy -- that Trump guy at the Justice Department know that two weeks earlier, Republicans in at least five states had in fact created these forged electorate occupants?


Did the Trump Justice Department know about it, because they help Republicans in those states do it?

We don`t know. But, somebody up and do it, because they all file the exact same document, in the same font, in the same spacing, with the exact same language, so somebody help them do it. We are working on figuring it out.

I will also just tell you one other thing about this -- in a lot of these states, for whatever reason, the forged, fake electoral votes, these documents that were faked and sent in, they also, in addition to the assertion that these where the duly elected electors from the states, which is a lie -- a lot of them also included a lot of substitution`s, meaning that the people who were originally supposed to be Trump electors from those states had Trump won, the original would be Trump electors, had their names dropped, and they were replaced with other names, without the Republicans who did sign these documents.

So, when these fake documents were created to try to pass as the state electors, some of the people who had been slated to be Trump electors weren`t the people that signed them. They will replace, they were substituted at the last second. And almost every state that did this, people who were originally supposed to be Trump electors got replaced with these other Republicans before the force documents were sent in. Why is that?

We`re trying to get to the bottom of that to, but I can tell you, at first pass, in at least one state, at least one of the Republicans, who was substituted for -- whose name was dropped, as an elector, one Republican who was replaced by somebody else before that force document was silence and in, that Republican told us this evening, that substitution was deliberate. That person had their name taken off the list, and replaced, because that person did not want to be part of that effort to forge a slate of electors, that was not the real electors from that state.

One of the Republican electors who was replaced in Georgia, that person told us this, tonight, quote: I knew the meeting was taking place, but I did not wish to attend. I did not wish to give my electoral vote knowing that President Biden had already been certified by the state.

What you would hope would be the reaction from every Republican approach to sign their name, as if they were real elector, in his state that was not one by their candidate, but in fact was one by the other guy, so they were going to be electors at all. You would hope that would be the reaction from everyone who is approach to forge document like this and sign their name to it, under circumstances like this.

But, in at least five states, we know they filled out a full slate of electors, fake electors who were willing to put the names there. There was, at least one Republican, who balked, who know this force electors thing was fake, and didn`t want anything to do with it. There were at least a dozen other Republicans who also substituted out, who were supposed to be Trump electors from those states, but for whatever reason, didn`t end up signing the forged documents. They had their names replaced. Another Republican sign instead.

We know at least one of those decisions was a matter of conscience and patriotism, from one Georgia Republican. We will see if we could find out about the others.

Now, as we reported here in December, there is an open question in this Wisconsin, as to whether the forgery there is going to be pursued by the state election board, or indeed by the state prosecutors. Those people in Wisconsin said they were the state electors, and they were not, and they tried to pass themselves off that way. That would appear to be against the law in Wisconsin, it is an open question if that will be pursued as a criminal matter by the state election board.

This is new. In Michigan, "The Detroit News" just reported that the matter is part of an ongoing investigation by the state attorney general`s office. Here`s "The Detroit News", new reporting, a spokeswoman for the Michigan attorney general declined to discuss the legality of the Republican certificate in detail, saying it was part of an ongoing probe. Quote, that matter is part of an investigation into election related matters. We are not currently in a position to share specifics as the review remains ongoing.

So, in terms of whether or not the people who did this will individually get in trouble, open question, and at least two states. I don`t know about the others.

But this is a thing that happened. It apparently happened in five states, at least. This is a new element that we did not previously understand about the way Trump world maneuvered to try to falsify the election results, to try and stop the transfer of power. It may have put an individual legal jeopardy all of the Republican who put their names on these effort in these forged documents again in at least five states.


Now, widening the lens a little bit, I mean, the basis for all these efforts that they made throughout the real results in the states, were these false claims of fraud, which, frankly, they started hyping before the election. They`re still hyping them now. They`re still hyping them now, both to justify new restrictions on the right to vote, and to justify the continued effort to subvert the reality of the last one. That is a connection, that in Atlanta today, President Biden argued loudly and, clearly.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here`s how they plan to subvert the election, the Georgia Republican Party, the state legislature has not given itself the power to make it easier for partisan actors, their cronies to remove local election officials.

Think about that. What happened in the last election? The former president and allies pursued, threatened, and intimidated state and local election officials.

Election workers -- ordinary citizens -- were subject to death threats, menacing phone calls, people stalking them in their homes.

Remember what the defeated former president said to the highest-ranking election official -- a Republican -- in this state? He said, quote, I just want to find 11,780 votes.

Pray God.


He didn`t say that part.

He didn`t say, "Count the votes."

He said, "find votes" that he needed to win.

He failed because of the courageous officials -- Democrats, Republicans -- who did their duty and upheld the law.

But with this new law in Georgia, his loyal -- his loyalists will be placed in charge of state elections.

What is that going to mean?

Well, the chances for chaos and subversion are even greater as partisans seek the result they want -- no matter what the voters have said, no matter what the count. The votes of nearly 5 million Georgians will be up for grabs if that law holds.

It`s not just here in Georgia. Last year alone, 19 states not proposed but enacted 34 laws attacking voting rights. There were nearly 400 additional bills Republican members of state legislatures tried to pass. And now, Republican legislators in several states have already announced plans to escalate the onslaught this year.

Their endgame? To turn the will of the voters into a mere suggestion -- something states can respect or ignore.

Jim Crow 2.0 is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion. It`s no longer about who gets to vote; it`s about making it harder to vote. It`s about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.

It`s not hyperbole; this is a fact.


MADDOW: Voter suppression and election subversion.

President Biden speaking today in Atlanta, trying to rally the country in support of strong, new federal protections for voting rights and for the technocratic, nonpartisan administration of elections. He`s rallying the country, speaking to the country today, but it is 100 Americans in the United States Senate who will make or break this issue, who are both the intended audience, and the instrument on which this tune as to play. Whether or not it can be done, whether or not anything has changed, in terms of two conservative Democrats who are blocking the possibility of this happening.

We`ll get into it next with Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Stay with us.




BIDEN: I`ve been having these quiet conversations with the members of Congress for the last two months. I`m tired of being quiet!


State legislatures can pass anti-voting laws with simple majorities. If they can do that, then the United States Senate should be able to protect voting rights by a simple majority.


Today I`m making it clear: To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.


When it comes to protecting majority rule in America, the majority should rule in the United States Senate.


MADDOW: President Biden today making this forceful public case for voting rights, for changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed in order to allow the Senate to pass voting rights protections with a majority of the U.S. senators, majority of senators in the U.S. senate. He said he was tired of being quiet, tired of negotiating behind closed doors with legislators.

So now here is the -- a republic, madam, if you can keep it million dollar question. Will the Senate act? What effect does this kind of public query have for the president of the United States have on the holdouts among Democratic senators, who said thus far, however noble the cause, they are a no?


Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar. She`s chair of the Rules Committee. She`s one of the lead sponsors of the Freedom to Vote Act. She traveled to Georgia with Vice President Harris today. She just returned to D.C. tonight aboard Air Force One with President Biden.

Senator, it`s really good to see you. I know it`s been a long day. Thanks for being here.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Rachel.


MADDOW: Go ahead.

KLOBUCHAR: Just before I get to what is going on in the Senate, I did want to say, President Biden`s speech was wonderful tonight, as was Vice President Harris`s.

But there was this moment where he talked about how there is a moment in time, and this has happened through story, where time basically stopped. And he brought up the bomb blowing up in that church, in Birmingham. He brought up when John Lewis crossed that bridge and when he got hit and when people got killed and people got injured. And he brought up January 6th.

There are those moments and this is one of those moments. It didn`t began on January 6th. It didn`t end there. It`s been a conservative effort. As you know, and you just talked on your show, about 400 bills introduced across the country, many of them passed to take peoples rights away to vote.

As Reverend Warnock has said repeatedly some, people don`t want people to vote. That is what`s going on in our very democracy depends on it. This is a moment where time stands still. And that is the argument that we are making to these two senators.

MADDOW: I was also struck, Senator Klobuchar, with the way the president made the partisanship on this issue has changed over time. The way he went out of his way, you know, speaking in Atlanta, speaking in blue dot Atlanta, in blue state Georgia, talking before a very supportive audience, but making the case in part by talking about how Republicans until quite recently, unanimously, all but unanimously supported voting rights, and the voting rights, people like George W. Bush, people like Strom Thurmond.

He had an extended reflection on Strom Thurmond, the anti-civil rights icon, who in the end supported the Voting Rights Act. This is something that even Republicans found necessary to do by massive margins in the past. That is both an indictment of Republicans but also of Democrats who won`t do what needs to be done in order to get it passed.

I wonder about what your reflections were on him talking so much about how the partisanship around this issue has calcified in the way that we`ve never seen before?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think it makes the case, right, because there is many of us. As you know, I cherish the worker I`ve done across the aisle. I passed a bunch of bills. I think I mentioned that a few times in the presidential debate.

But the point is that right now, there`s no -- they aren`t clinging on this right now. Even though, and that`s I think that is why he felt it was important, making the case in the past, democracy triumphs but more important than any divide between us. But right now, because of the shadow, the large shadow of Donald Trump over the Republican Party, there are very few people that are willing to stand up like you are seeing with Liz Cheney, with the January 6th commission, that she is willing to stand up over in the House. And there`s just not happening right now in the Senate when it comes to voting rights.

The case I made my colleagues in those rooms, we wanted it to happen, to quote Hamilton, is that the filibuster has -- it is unbelievable. Changes to the filibuster are not radical, they`ve happened 160 times, Rachel. Changes have happened, where bills have been passed without the 60 vote.

1977, national gas policy. 1980, selective service system. 1987, national defense bill. 1995, endangered species bill. The Bush tax cuts, the Trump tax cuts to reconciliation.

What just happened with Mitch McConnell in the debt ceiling. History is riddled with exceptions and changes that were made. It is Robert Byrd himself, I`ve told him this, to Senator Manchin several times, who once said, you know you change the rules when there is changed circumstances.

Well, Rachel, an all out assault on our democracy is a changed circumstance.

MADDOW: We are going to see if we believe Senator Schumer about the timing here as soon as tomorrow, as late as Monday, Martin Luther King Day. We are going to see a vote in the Senate.

Is there anything else that we should look for ahead of that vote in terms of conversations, events, pronouncements, we just wait to see how it is going to go when it happens?

KLOBUCHAR: There`s a lot of drama right, now I`ll give you that. I think that`s, good that`s democracy. We are negotiating. We are talking to both senators, groups of people. Our whole voting group that has been involved in the beginning, including Senator Schumer and Senator Merkley, and Kaine, and King, and Tester, Padilla and Warnock.


It is a group that is not giving up. And as our other senators, who have been involved in meeting with Senator Sinema, people feel so strongly about this. I want to make clear to your viewers today, this is not a liberal- moderate divide. There are two senators who are working through this with us.

But there are a whole bunch of moderates, people from states, Senator Tester of Montana, who see a good democracy rule. And then suddenly after 15 years, we have same day registration taken away in that state. We have thousands of people who are relying on that. Just one example that you don`t always hear about. That is this all of us out on democracy across the country.

And when you look through history, we were there in Georgia, where history happened. Federal government response, they may not do it right away, but we can`t wait anymore. The federal government responded when there was civil rights violations. The federal government responded throughout history when things have happened. And it is on us right now.

We are just making the case to these two senators. Seriously, I`m giving you a lot of the arguments that I use all the times. As we can, this is not a radical change. What is radical, is people who are undermining our democracy. That is what it is radical. And it is on us to write it.

We can always have difference of opinion, Democrats and Republicans. Our job is to make sure that the votes are counted fairly. That people aren`t doing sham audits, and fake certifications. They are not throwing people off of an election board. They are not taking and dismantling those election boards.

Those things would be solved through the Freedom to Vote Act, that simply set minimum federal standards for the country, grounded in the U.S. Constitution, which clearly says never questioned the Congress can make altered to the laws regarding federal elections.

MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the Rules Committee in the Senate, the lead sponsor of Freedom to Vote -- Senator, thank you for joining us tonight. As you said, a lot of drama right here now. We look to you to understand it. Thanks for being here.

KLOBUCHAR: Okay, thank you, Rachel.

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




BIDEN: Here`s one thing every senator and every American should remember: History has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters` rights. And it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion.

So, I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered?

At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be the -- on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?


MADDOW: Some of the most pointed remarks from President Biden today, as he urged a change in the rules of the Senate in order to pass voting rights protections. The speech today came amid pressure from activists, urging the Biden administration to do more to protect voting rights.

That direct action of the course of this past year has included a hunger strikes, and rallies, and marches, and nonviolent civil disobedience, including this. Outside the White House, last fall, when civil rights and religious leaders were all arrested.

The man you see in the t-shirt on the left, that`s Ben Jealous. He`s been one of many voting rights activists who have been hard on the administration, calling on President Biden to do more on this issue.

Mr. Jealous is taking part in five such protests, outside of the White House on this issue. He was arrested four times. He spent a night in jail, all in order to try to push the administration and the president to do more, when it comes to voting rights protections.

Ben Jealous was there today, in Atlanta, in the front row, when President Biden gave his voting rights speech.

Joining us now is Ben Jealous. He`s president of the progressive group People for the American Way. He`s former president and CEO of the NAACP.

Mr. Jealous, thank you for making time to be here, tonight. I`ve been dying to talk to you about this, my friend.

BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Thank you, it`s very good to be here, Rachel.

MADDOW: I honestly did not know what you would think of President Biden`s speech today. I know you told our producers that you thought he hit it out of the park. That you heard what you needed to hear, what you wanted to hear. I love to hear take on it.

JEALOUS: First of all, I appreciate you showing so many clips of it tonight. It`s important that people hear the whole speech. And what we needed to hear wasn`t just that that what we saw in Georgia was outrageous, but that he had a plan for dealing with it. He presented that plan, today, and frankly, he made the case to everyone in his party, even the more conservative members, about why they need to get on board and get on board now.

I have every faith that he will follow up, and do what happens after something like this, which is to go push hard, in the Senate, publicly and in private. Frankly, today looks like the beginning of a winning presidential push.

MADDOW: In terms of Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, the two that we know of who are in the way, President Biden isn`t singling them out by name. He`s not directing people to pressure them.

But certainly, one of the effects of a clarion and public call like this, people are going to lobby and pressure and try to reason with those two senators to try to move them on this issue. Are you optimistic that this may succeed?

JEALOUS: I am. You know, Nelson Mandela told us, it`s always impossible until it`s done.

And we`ve heard again and again, it would be impossible to get Joe Manchin on this bill. He said he would never support the For the People Act, or the Freedom to Vote Act has 90 percent of the content of the for the people act, he`s one of the principal authors.


We heard him today said he would support rules changes but not ending the filibuster. You don`t have to end the filibuster in order -- you don`t have to have a carve-out in the filibuster. You can change the rules in ways that would allow ultimately for an up or down vote.

The filibuster is so bastardized over the years that you could do a lot short of getting rid of it changing rules that would allow for that vote.

Kyrsten Sinema, I heard the president speak to directly, when he said, whose side you want to be on? Bull Connors` or King`s?

The reality is that Sinema is well aware Arizona was the last state to support Martin Luther King Day as a holiday. She doesn`t want to extend that. And if Manchin comes over and there is a lot of movement, if you -- many of us have become sort of students of Manchin, watching him.

He is moving in the right direction. Once he crosses the line, she will fall, too. She does not want to be all alone. She does not want to be on the side of Goldwater, which is, you know, the Bull Connor of her state.

MADDOW: Ben Jealous, president of the progressive group, People for the American Way, former president and CEO of the NAACP, Ben, thanks for joining us. I know it`s been a long and intense day, I am really, really glad you were able to be here tonight, my friend. Thank you.

JEALOUS: Thank you for having me. Good to see you.

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




BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: He`s one of the first people that encouraged me to run for president, believe that despite my youth, despite my inexperience, despite the fact that I was African-American, I could actually win. At the time, that made one of us.

BIDEN: A friend in need, Harry`s voice was so often gentle, and praised himself, he was stone cold silent. Pursuit of fairness and prosperity, his voice would echo and will echo for generations in this state.


MADDOW: Something to be eulogized by not one, but two, United States presidents. But that was President Biden and former President Barack Obama eulogizing a lion of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid at his funeral in Las Vegas this past weekend.

Well, tomorrow, former Senate Leader Harry Reid will lie in state in D.C. under the Capitol Rotunda. This is a very, very rare honor. The service in his honor will start at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

There will be speeches thereafter. It`s going to be an elaborate event. You can watch that here live tomorrow on MSNBC.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. We are expecting a busy day particularly in Washington tomorrow. Again, Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, will be lying in state under the Capitol dome tomorrow, Capitol rotunda. We will have live coverage of that memorial starting tomorrow at 10:30 Eastern.

If you listen to Senate Democrats, it`s also possible they could be taking up that vote on voting rights and whether they are going to carve out something from voting rights rule -- from Senate rules to keep voting rights protected through legislation in the United States Senate. That could happen at anytime. So, eyes open, heads up. Busy time.


Good evening, Lawrence.