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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/12/22

Guests: Katie Naranjo, Ashish Jha


House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy says he won`t cooperate with the January 6 Committee`s investigation. CDC predicts that more than 62,000 Americans could die from COVID in next month.


ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR FOR COVID RESPONSE: So I think, you know, the White House from all my conversations over there, the people are out in front about as much as you can expect them to be in front of and still facing big challenges.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Andy Slavitt, as always, great to hear from you. Thank you very much.

That is "ALL IN" on this Wednesday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciate it.

HAYES: You bet.

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

You know, it is not the kind of problem that should come up all that often in politics. I mean, it happens from time to time, but really it seems like the kind of thing that would arise maybe if you had a long career, it might arise once during your career. I mean, maybe if you had a really long career, it might arise twice if you were particularly star-crossed.

But people would talk about it because that`s crazy. I mean, it`s just a rare thing. At least it ought to be a very rare thing.

But for house Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, it must feel like it happens all the time to him. In his time as a Republican leader in the House of Representatives, it has happened three times in the past five years already, and now it looks like it might happen to him a fourth time.

It`s just not that often that a sitting member of Congress gets indicted on multiple federal felony charges, you know, while they`re serving in Congress. For poor Kevin McCarthy, though, now the leader of the House Republicans, he keeps having to deal with this over and over again.

First, it was Chris Collins, multiple federal felony charges for insider trading and corruption and all this stuff. Then, it was Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, multiple federal felony corruption charges.

And, you know, it`s funny, with Collins and Hunter, before they were both hit with multiple federal felony charges while serving in congress, which is crazy, those two had only ever shared the spotlight before for this reason. They were the first two members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump running for president, back in 2016. Neither of them made it through Trump`s one term in office before they were both arrested, indicted for multiple federal felonies. They were both convicted and sentenced to prison.

Kevin McCarthy having to deal with that in his conference, two of those guys. That happening to two of them. I mean that was a -- that was a rare thing. That was like a blue moon on your birthday.

And I should also mention Republican voters are amazing. Both of those Republican congressmen went up for re-election while they were under indictment, while they were awaiting trial on federal felony counts for which they would both ultimately be convicted. In both of those cases, Republican voters re-elected them while they were under indictment and awaiting trial.

Imagine being in the house Republican leadership when you`ve got two of your incumbents refusing to resign, running for re-election while they`re under federal indictment and then they win re-election, so they`re back in Congress while they`re like, you know, dealing with their criminal defense lawyers and getting ready to serve their federal prison time. It`s like not the way you imagine your time in public service, right, as having to deal with that among two of your members at the same time.

Members of Congress do get in trouble. There are ethics scandals and scandal scandals among members of Congress all the time. But it is really rare for real felony federal criminal charges to be filed against a currently serving member. It`s really rare for a currently serving member of Congress to be arrested.

Amazing that that happened twice to Kevin McCarthy since he has been in leadership for the House Republicans. But then it happened again in October. Nebraska Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry was indicted on multiple federal felony corruption charges just this past October.

Imagine being Kevin McCarthy and getting that news. Seriously? Again? How many times is this going to happen?

True to form, Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska just this week announced that he too is going to run for re-election even while he is under federal indictment and awaiting trial on multiple felony counts. Hey, it worked for Congressman Chris Collins and Congressman Duncan Hunter. Republican voters re-elected them while they were awaiting trial too. Why not Jeff Fortenberry?

That said, Donald Trump is no longer president, so the end game here is less certain. After Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins were convicted and sentenced to long federal prison terms, then President Donald Trump pardoned each of them.

If Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry is also convicted, like Collins and Hunter were, Jeff Fortenberry will have no such ace in the hole. There is no Donald Trump there now to pardon him.


So if Fortenberry is convicted, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy gets to look forward to the awkward dance of this serving Republican member of Congress prepping for his prison term and having to make him resign and all of that.

It`s become almost a regular part of Kevin McCarthy`s job by now. Three times in just the last five years this has happened to him. And now, again, it looks like it might be happening to him again, which is -- I mean honestly, this is like getting hit by lightning while you`re winning the lottery on a blue moon on your birthday. This is not normal but this is Kevin McCarthy`s life.

The great federal Florida reporter Marc Caputo who works for NBC news now, quite a coup for NBC to have landed him. There is nobody like Marc Caputo in Florida political journalism today. And, today, Mr. Caputo is the sole by line on this scoop from NBC. Although I should mentioned, the legendary NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams contributed reporting to this as well.

If you want a little peek behind the curtain here as to how those of us in the NBC News family read scoops from our own shop like this, you should know, like I said, Marc Caputo an unparalleled reporter in terms of Florida politics.

But Pete Williams being a contributing reporter on this as well, Pete Williams is like the emperor of the kingdom of understatement. When everybody else has their hair on fire about something going on in the criminal justice system or in the courts, it is Pete Williams who is the cooling saucer who brings everything down ten notches and makes everybody take a breath and stop overreacting.

So you put Marc Caputo on the byline from Florida and you put Pete Williams, Mr. Calm Down, Everybody, as contributing reporting, and, frankly, you do not expect a lead as red hot as this one from NBC News today.

Dateline, Orlando, Florida. Quote, Congressman Matt Gaetz`s ex-girlfriend testified today before a federal grand jury investigating him for sex crimes. A major development that suggests the U.S. Department of Justice may be moving closer to indicting Congressman Gaetz. The ex-girlfriend, whose name is being withheld by NBC news to respect her privacy, has been in talks for months with prosecutors about an immunity deal.

Under a possible deal, she would avoid prosecution for obstruction of justice in return for testifying in the investigation into whether Gaetz in 2017 had sex with a 17-year-old female for money and whether months later he and others violated a federal law prohibiting people from transporting others across state lines to engage in prostitution. Gaetz has not been charged with a crime. He has denied all accusations.

The attorney for Gaetz`s ex-girlfriend, Tim Jansen, declined comment about the case Wednesday today, when he was spotted by an NBC News reporter entering the federal courthouse in Orlando with his client. A Department of Justice spokesman declined comment.

Gaetz did not respond to a request for comment. But legal sources familiar with the case say Congressman Gaetz is being investigated for three distinct crimes -- sex trafficking a minor, violating the Mann Act, which prohibits taking women across state lines for prostitution, and obstructing justice.

So, again, that was reported today just after noon Eastern Time today by reporter Marc Caputo at NBC news. And I don`t know how House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy`s day was going up to that point, but after having had to deal already with three different Republican members of the House being charged with multiple federal felony charges while they were serving in Congress, now to get that news breaking at lunchtime today, can you imagine if he has to deal with a fourth one?

I imagine that was a dyspeptic moment for Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy today, right? Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the next Republican caucus meeting. Can you guys please stop with the criming? Just for a little while. Just for a hot minute.

Trump is not here to keep you all out of prison anymore. Enough with the felonies, you guys. Hit pause. Save me.

So the day was already not going great for the House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy today. But then, at 4:00 this afternoon, it got worse when the January 6th investigation posted this letter to Kevin McCarthy himself. It is a letter inviting him to please provide information to the investigation.

Quote: Dear Leader McCarthy, we write to request your voluntary cooperation with our investigation on a range of critical topics, including your conversations with President Trump before, during and after the violent January 6th attack. You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former president while the violence was under way on January 6th. This information bears directly on President Trump`s state of mind during the January 6th attack as the violence was under way.

The Select Committee is aware that notwithstanding the unacceptable violence that day, you nevertheless agreed to support continued objections to the electoral votes from multiple states late in the evening of January 6th and into the morning of January 7th. The Select Committee wishes to question you regarding communications you may have had with President Trump, President Trump`s legal team, Representative Jim Jordan and others at the time you may have had on that topic.

Congressman Jim Jordan, really? Quote: It appears that you may also have discussed with President Trump the potential that he would face a censure resolution, impeachment or removal from office under the 25th Amendment. It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including his immediate resignation from office.

Relatedly, the Select Committee is concerned about the potential for continued violence after January 6th provoked by President Trump`s false claims that the election was stolen. The committee is aware of communications among White House staff and President Trump supporters regarding the potential for further violence. For example, and this is new today, Fox News host Laura Ingraham texted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on January 12th, 2021.

Quote: Remarks on camera discouraging protest at state capitols, especially with weapons, will be well-advised given how hot the situation is. Again, that text reportedly from a Fox News host to the White House chief of staff.

The committee continues, quote, during this same time period, you shared this concern about the president`s stolen election claims with your local news organization saying, quote, it`s raising the ability for greater violence.

The letter goes on to ask Congressman Kevin McCarthy to meet with the investigators the first week of February. They also quote back to him a statement he made to a local news station in California just a couple of weeks ago indicating in response to a question that he would speak to the investigation.

He told that local news source, quote, I have been very public. I wouldn`t hide from anything. That said, just tonight literally just in the past few minutes, it has been handed to me since I started this segment, it has just come out, Kevin McCarthy has just put out this statement saying that he will not cooperate with the January 6th investigation.

He says in part, quote: As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this Select Committee`s abusive power that stains this institution today.

So we shall see. The lead of the January 6th investigation, Chairman Bennie Thompson, said today that he actually expects that Kevin McCarthy will agree to provide information. He said that they don`t anticipate even having to subpoena him.

Now, Kevin McCarthy has come out and said that he is -- he`s not going to cooperate. We shall see how this revolves. The question of whether or not members of Congress, let alone leaders in Congress can be subpoenaed by this committee appears to be settled as a constitutional matter. It appears to be uncontroversial as a black letter matter in terms of constitutional law.

The problem is, is that it`s never been done before and any time a new precedent like that is set, a lot of people are reluctant to go there and nobody quite knows how the fight over it will happen. But this is the third Republican member of Congress who has been asked voluntarily to provide information who has said no or indicated they won`t. The first was Scott Perry, the second was the aforementioned Jim Jordan from Ohio and now the House Republican leader himself.

So many people involved in the investigation, even those who haven`t just said no, they won`t voluntarily comply, even others who have been subpoenaed have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self- incrimination or otherwise just refused subpoenas, refused to provide information. So it will be interesting to see how this develops with Republican members of Congress too.

We did learn today that one of the 4,000 people roughly who served as White House press secretary under Trump, a woman named Kayleigh McEnany, she was press secretary at the end of the Trump administration which everything went pear-shaped, she spoke both for the campaign and the White House after the 2020 election. She personally made multiple false claims about the election to the American people.

We learned today that Ms. McEnany testified to the January 6th investigators. It was behind closed doors so we don`t know what was said but we do know that she showed up to testify.

But here`s something that I`m watching more and more closely each day. By the end of this week, it will be a month exactly since Congress sent to the U.S. Justice Department a criminal referral recommending federal prosecution of Trump`s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.


They are recommending that he be prosecuted for criminal contempt for his refusal to comply with compulsory measures, including the subpoenas that he received from the January 6th investigation.

Now, the January 6th investigation and then the full House recommended prosecution for the same reason for Steve Bannon, Trump advisor Steve Bannon when he defied subpoenas to testify.

Now, in the Bannon case, it took the U.S. Justice Department just three weeks after they got the referral for him to actually decide that they were going to prosecute him and to obtain the indictment that they obtained against him. It took three weeks. It`s been longer than that already for Meadows. It`s been longer that the U.S. Justice Department, the federal prosecutor`s office in D.C. has been considering this referral to prosecute Trump`s White House chief of staff for the same thing.

Again, it will be a month even by the end of this week. But so far, we have heard nothing about what the justice department is going to do.

The reason I say that is increasingly on my mind is because for the last few days here, we have been reporting on emerging evidence that in not one, not two, not three, not four, but five, in at least five different states, Republicans appear to have forged fake documents purporting to be the electoral slates from these five states. They put themselves forward officially as if they were the real duly elected electors to the Electoral College from their states when they in fact were not. In each of these five states it was Joe Biden who won the election so those states sent Biden electors to cast the state`s votes in the Electoral College.

But nevertheless in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona, at least, Republicans filed fake documents claiming that those states had actually picked Trump electors who were going to cast the state`s Electoral College votes for Trump.

In the last few days here, thanks to reporting from Nicholas Wu at and thanks to public records requests filed by the watchdog group American Oversight, we have been able to obtain and show you all five of those forged documents from Republicans in those five states.

Crucially, what we`ve noticed is that this doesn`t seem to have been an instance in which five disparate groups of people in five different states all had the same forgery idea coincidentally at the same time and they all independently happened to do the same thing. If you look at the false documents that these five states or that Republicans in these five states sent in to Congress and sent in to the national archives, the documents match each other exactly. The same font, same spacing, same exact wording.

Because of that, I mean, maybe it will all prove to be a coincidence, but it does appear to be a coordinated effort. At the very least, it appears that somebody distributed a template to Republicans in these five states and potentially beyond telling them that this is how they should create these forged documents.

The whole reason we`re on to any of this is because it appears that this is something that the January 6th investigation is looking into. We`re sort of reverse engineering one of their lines of inquiry as best we can.

But as such, look at the Mark Meadows connection. I mean what I`m about to show you, this doesn`t say that the effort to coordinate these forgeries in five states came from the Trump White House, but if you look at the contempt report that the January 6 investigation created about Mark Meadows, it does seem to indicate that when he was serving as White House chief of staff he was somehow involved in this.

This is from the contempt referral on Mark Meadows. Quote, the select committee seeks information from Mr. Meadows about issues including the following. Quote, Mr. Meadows received text messages and emails regarding apparent efforts to encourage Republican legislators in certain states to send alternate slates of electors to Congress. A plan which one member of Congress acknowledged was highly controversial and to which Mr. Meadows responded, quote, I love it.

Mr. Meadows responded to a similar message by saying we are, and another such message by saying, quote, yes, have a team have on it. This is also from the letter the January 6 investigation sent to Mark Meadows` lawyer about a month ago when they were fighting about his cooperation just before he was referred for prosecution to the Justice Department.

That letter told Mr. Meadows` lawyer this. Mr. Meadows has also produced documents you apparently agree are relevant and not protected by any privilege at all. Those documents include a November 7th, 2020, email discussing the appointment of alternate slates of electors as part of a, quote, direct and collateral attack after the election.


So, again, we have learned recently that one of the things these guys did to try to falsify the election results and keep Trump in power and prevent the newly elected president from assuming office, one of the things they did was that they got Republicans in multiple states to create and file forged paperwork pretending to be the real electors from states that actually Biden won. We believe, now that we`ve seen the documents from five of the states and they all match almost exactly, we surmise based on that, that this must have been some kind of a coordinated effort. That somebody gave all these Republicans in all these states a template for how to do it.

In so doing, incidentally, all those rips in all those states that signed their names may have opened themselves individually to potentially forgery charges or other charges to falsifying election documents which is a state crime in every state in the Union and is a federal crime as well.

We know from the January 6th investigation that Trump`s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was apparently involved in multiple communications about such an effort, that he said he had a team on it, that we`re doing it, that he loved it. And we know that the Justice Department is currently weighing the possibility of a criminal prosecution against him, in part over his refusal to talk about exactly that. Other than that, how was your day?

More ahead tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: Comal County is a county in Texas between San Antonio and Austin. The county seat in Comal County is New Braunfels, Texas. It was in the wee hours of yesterday morning in the city of New Braunfels, when surveillance video captured this. Oh, dear.

This woman marching up to the front door of the headquarters of the Comal County Democratic Party and slamming into that glass door with a shovel. Twice. She is apparently trying to smash the glass door. Hits it once, hits it again.

We`re told that the time stamp you can see in the upper left there is actually off by six hours, so it says 9:42 a.m. but this is actually six hours earlier. This happened at 3:42 in the morning local time yesterday. This woman marches up with a shovel, gives it a couple of good whacks and then walks off.

Here`s what the damage looks like that she did. We got this photo. You can see that the attacker did not succeed in smashing through the glass door but she got pretty close. And look, Lord knows what this is about.

She`s carrying a full-size shovel. Maybe it was some kind of terrible gardening dispute. Maybe she was mad about a parking space or maybe she thought the glass door looked at her funny. Maybe this is not politically motivated. Absolutely could be.

The chair of the Comal County Democrats said I would like to hope it was a random attack not directed toward us specifically. But if it was indeed directed toward the Comal County Democratic Party, that the people responsible need to consider the message they`re sending about how to live in a civil society. They need to consider the message they are sending.

Democrats in Texas, and that part of Texas specifically have been enduring a series of attacks and threats and vandalism. You may remember an incident right before the 2020 election in which a group of trucks flying Trump flags tried to run a bus off the road carrying Biden/Harris campaign staff. It was labeled with the Biden/Harris campaign logo.

One of the vehicles steered into and hit a vehicle driven by volunteers following behind the bus. That whole scary episode happened on a stretch of I-35 between San Antonio and Austin, which passes right through Comal County. Some of the supporters who tried to run the bus off the road were from New Braunfels, Texas, the county seat where the Democratic Party headquarters was just attacked. They were part of what they called the New Braunfels Trump train.

A couple of weeks later the headquarters of the Harris County Democratic Party in Austin were vandalized, spray painted. The door was smashed and it was because of that attack that the Travis County Democrats installed a new security system at their headquarters which is how we got this footage. You may remember, we covered this incident at the time last fall.

This was the early hours of September 29th last year. A man was caught on that new security video system breaking the glass door of the headquarters for the Travis County, Texas, Democratic Party in Austin. He dropped in what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail through the broken glass. It started to smoke.

A few minutes later, the man came back, appeared to throw some kind of a firework inside that set off an explosion inside. In addition to that explosion, the man left the Travis County Democrats a threatening note which basically said that Democrats could have all the blue states but, quote, one thing you can`t have is Texas. Quote, consider this a light warning.

A few days later, a few days after we featured that footage here, a suspect was arrested on federal arson charges. The man has been out on $2,500 bond with an ankle monitor since shortly after that arrest. His case has been in the hands of federal prosecutors in Texas.

Well, this week, we learned that those prosecutors have now reached a plea deal with the guy. He has pled guilty to the arson charge. But this is interesting. The Travis County Democratic Party tells us that while they are pleased to see the guy cop to it, while they`re pleased to see a guilty plea, they say they are disappointed as part of this plea deal, prosecutors are only asking for the minimum sentence on the arson charge, which is five to six years. It`s literally the legal minimum that they could ask for. They couldn`t ask the court to impose a lighter sentence by law.

From party chair Katie Naranjo, quote, the main question we`re left with is why the government didn`t pursue a terrorism classification for the charge, which the government said could have increased the sentencing range.

Quote: This is a case involving a bomber caught on videotape repeatedly coming up to our offices, at least three times, throwing in a Molotov cocktail and a bomb and starting a fire that caused an estimated $20,000 in damages to our offices and delivered a manifesto containing threats. If that conduct is not terrorism, what is?

We got this statement tonight from the U.S. attorney`s office for the Western District of Texas. Quote, generally, the court decides the applicable guideline range and the applicability of any enhancements or adjustments at sentencing. We cannot comment on the pending sentencing.

And it is true that the judge who ultimately sentences this guy for firebombing the Democratic party headquarters, he`s not bound by the prosecutor`s recommendation. Whether or not the federal prosecutors think this was an act of terrorism, the sentencing judge could hand down whatever sentence the judge thinks is appropriate at that hearing in a couple of months.

And, you know, that U.S. attorney`s office for the western district of Texas, as I say, it`s a U.S. attorney`s office, which means this is federal prosecutors. They of course are part of the U.S. Justice Department. The Justice Department just this week announced that they are launching a brand new domestic terrorism prosecution unit within the national security unit at DOJ.

They say they need it because the number of FBI investigations into suspected violent extremists has more than doubled since the spring of 2020.

Well, clearly in Texas, that`s one of the places they are grappling with the front line implication of what that means and what that means in very, very practical terms.

Joining us now is Katie Naranjo. She`s chair of the Travis County Democratic Party.

Ms. Naranjo, good to see you. Thank you very much for joining us. I appreciate you coming back.

KATIE NARANJO, CHAIR, TRAVIS COUNTY, TX DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thank you for bringing light to this issue.

MADDOW: Let me just ask you if I`ve got any of that the wrong way around or if I missed anything important in terms of what`s unfolded in this case affecting your office and your party and what`s happened with this plea agreement?

NARANJO: At this point, we have experienced up to six different attacks, whether it be my staff, whether it be our office, neighboring parties, both Houston and Austin were attacked within a short period of time together back in 2020, and then just yesterday now the Comal County Democratic Party. So, there is a series and a concerning trend.

Some of those previous attacks, specifically the bus incident, I was actually there at the AFL-CIO to receive the bus and can tell you the reaction from authorities in regards to the severity of the situation was very concerning to us. And so the formulation or the announcement of the domestic terrorism task force is going to be very important because it`s long overdue from our experience.

MADDOW: When you say that you were concerned about the law enforcement reaction to the bus attack, I will say just as an observer from outside the state looking in on the public reporting at that, what felt worrying about the -- that incident that happened around the Biden/Harris campaign bus was the 911 call transcripts and recordings that we later were able to access in which the police seemed to not care. In which the police seemed to be denying the importance of the incident and refusing to engage, even as the bus was slowed nearly to stopping on the interstate, even as one of the cars was actually hit by one of the Trump supporter`s vehicles.

It did seem like law enforcement wanted nothing to do with this. Do you feel like law enforcement as a general matter, not just with that one incident, has been underreacting to these kinds of apparently politically motivated violent incidents targeting Texas Democrats?

NARANJO: What we saw on January 6th, what we see in Texas repeatedly, the trend, and unfortunately there are those in law enforcement who think, oh, it`s just a woman with a shovel. There`s a gardening issue. Oh, it`s just somebody who dinged a car on I-35, what`s the problem.

They don`t see it as violent. They don`t see it as threatening or intimidating. I think that`s the heart of the issue.

Each of these acts, especially the acts where our office was firebombed and what we`re seeing in the sentencing guidelines from the U.S. attorney`s office is there is a lack of concern, or at least it seems from our experience to be a lack of concern that because of these people`s incompetence, we`re not going to take it seriously, we`re going to laugh it off, when the reality is, is that a million dollars of damage, violent acts of property destruction and the intent to intimidate, how is that not terrorism? How is this not -- how can this not be taken seriously?

And at what point are they going to start waking up? I mean, I`m excited that the DOJ is finally going to start taking this seriously because does someone have to die?


Does someone have to get hurt? Does someone have to get run off the road in a car wreck for this to be terrorism or for this to be real? Because the intimidation is real.

MADDOW: Katie Naranjo is chair of the Travis County Democratic Party in Texas.

Ms. Naranjo, thank you very much for your time tonight. I told you last time that you were here that I`d love for you to come back and keep us apprised as this case develops. Now that it looks like we`re getting a resolution, heading toward sentencing in this case. Again, do please keep us apprised. We love to stay on this until very end.

NARANJO: We are going to continue to stand tough in Texas. Don`t you worry.

MADDOW: Right on, thank you.

All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Okay, what you are about to see and hear is not true. It is not real medical advice and you should not take it as such. I am showing it to you because of who`s saying it.


This is the leading Republican U.S. Senate candidate from the state of Georgia with his own amazing news about mist. Mist. A dry mist that can apparently end this whole nightmare the whole world has been going through.


HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Do you know right now I have something that can bring you into a building that would clean you from COVID as you walk through this dry mist. As you walk through the door, it would kill any COVID on your body. EPA, FDA approved.

When you leave, it would kill the virus as you leave this here product. Then I have something you can go and spray down this product. Do you know, they don`t want to talk about that. They don`t want to hear about that.


MADDOW: I have something, a dry mist. A dry mist that would clean you from COVID. It`s EPA and FDA approved, but they don`t want you to hear about it.

Former football star Herschel Walker in an interview he did with ex-fox news personality Glenn Beck in august 2020. That interview in which Mr. Walker announces his dry mist cure for COVID, it was dug up today by "The Daily Beast" because Mr. Walker is no longer just a former football player who appears on conservative media podcasts, he`s now the Trump-endorsed leading Republican Senate candidate for the state of Georgia in this year`s election.

And there is no magical spray that stops COVID. There`s no EPA, FDA approved thing that when you leave a room, it kills the virus. But, right now, in more and more places across the country, what`s happening in the real world is that the COVID situation is shaping up to be the worst it`s ever been.

We took a look at some front pages around the country today so you can see how this is playing outside the beltway press. This is the front page of the Austin American statesman today. City sets COVID-19 records for third day. Cases won`t peak for at least two more weeks officials warn.

Here`s the "Detroit Free Press" front page today citing the state`s chief medical examiner. Top Michigan doc, it`s worse than ever. Hospitals overflowing amid unprecedented virus surge. Head over to Portland, Maine. Here`s "The Portland Press Herald". Governor will activate 169 more guard troops to help hospitals. Then you see the second story at the bottom of the page there on the front lines, battle fatigue sets in, describing themselves as the busiest we`ve ever been during the pandemic, means stressed health care workers, quote, just wish people would get vaccinated.

The omicron wave of COVID is spreading quickly to more and more places across the country. It is causing very, very rapid increases both in cases and in hospitalizations, and that is all terrible news. There is a glimmer of good news amid these huge overwhelming surges, though. We mentioned earlier this week first reports out of New York City. New York City, of course, was the first big American city to be hit by the omicron wave. We talked earlier this week about first reports that cases and hospitalizations had started to slow down in their rise and started potentially to plateau or even decline.

That trend is still holding in New York. And now we have similar news from one of the other major cities to first get hit hard by omicron. This is the headline today from WBUR in Boston. Quote, unambiguously good news, sharp decline in COVID wastewater levels in Boston area. Now, we`ve talked before on this show about how cities like Boston have used wastewater data to track the spread of COVID in real time.

Look at this graph here today out of Boston. This is the amount of COVID basically that they are detecting in the city of Boston using wastewater data. Again, this is not reflecting test results, this is not reflecting individual people`s positive or negative tests, it`s just how much COVID is in the wastewater in the city`s catchment area. And the rise has been so steep, it`s almost hard to tell.

If you look closely, look at the right side of the screen there. You can see the curve start to sharply bend down in recent days. Boston`s NPR station, WBUR, interviewed the epidemiologist that runs the center at Harvard that monitors Boston`s wastewater. He told them, quote, when I refreshed the website and saw it, saw the turn-around in the data, I literally punched the air and let out a hoot because it was something I have been hoping for. It is unambiguously good news.

Is that recent trend we are seeing in Boston, those recent reports from New York, are they reason to punch the hair and hoot? Are they reason to feel hopeful about what is to come and how soon?

Joining us now is Dr. Ashish Jha. He`s dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

Dr. Jha, I really appreciate you being here, as always.



MADDOW: What`s your reaction to the wastewater news from Boston?

JHA: I think it`s really good news. Look, this has been a leading indicator for the entire pandemic. I look at it probably every few days. And what it does is it tends to precede case counts by about a week. So if you see wastewater infection numbers rising, you will see that in the case reports coming out of the Department of Health in about five, seven days later.

This is a very sharp decline. It`s down about 30, 40 percent. It really looks like the wave has crested in eastern Massachusetts. And I expect cases to start falling in the next few days.

MADDOW: In epidemiological terms, and tell me if this is the kind of thing that`s too complicated to explain to somebody without a degree. But in -- without a degree in this kind of stuff at least, in epidemiological terms, is the sharpness of that drop explained by the same factors that created the sharpness of the rise? Meaning, is a curve that rises that steeply always also going to come down that steeply or could we be looking at something where it went up really fast and the decline ultimately is going to be slower?

JHA: It`s a fabulous question. Certainly, in South Africa, we saw a sharp increase and then a sharp decline. It is not necessary that this is going to happen in every population. It really is determined by in what populations it`s spreading, what`s the underlying immunity.

That all said, I think most of us have been expecting a relatively quick decline, obviously hoping that we`ll see a relatively quick decline. That`s what we`re seeing in New York City as you reported. We`re seeing that in Washington, D.C. I`m hopeful this wastewater data is more evidence that we`re going to see it in Boston and obviously we`re going to want to see it across the country.

MADDOW: And as we see it in New York City, as we see it in Boston, as we see it in D.C., those are three cities. We have yet to see super clear evidence, at least definitive evidence that this is happening on a scale large enough for it to be identified in an individual state. But if we get to the point where we start to see this as the pattern, should communities and states that are further down the timeline in terms of when omicron started to crash over them, should they use that data in terms of planning for the kinds of mitigation efforts they can make to take care of their staff, to keep their hospitals from crashing, to try to keep the hospital system and the health care system running as the -- as the brunt of the wave hits them?

What I mean is if they know it`s going to be a terrible wave but a fast one, if they could make different mitigation efforts based on that knowledge, do you think epidemiologically speaking they should feel confident in making those kind of adjustments to their plans?

JHA: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. So, actually the places that have gone later that are just seeing increases or just in the beginning of this omicron wave, they are in many ways lucky that they can learn from everybody else. If they put in pretty aggressive mitigation efforts, they can substantially reduce the peak of that wave, save themselves from a lot of infections, a lot of hospitalizations and deaths. So I would see that as good information that organizations, cities, states, should be using to make smarter decisions.

MADDOW: Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, clear and clarifying as always. Thank you, Dr. Jha. It is a real pleasure to have you with us. Thanks.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.



MADDOW: So this is interesting. We`ve had late-breaking news out of the great state of Arizona, which never disappoints in news terms.

All right. I was speaking earlier in the show about a story we`ve been on for a while now, the story of Republicans appearing to have forged fake documents after the 2020 election, putting themselves forward officially as if they were the real electors from their states, when in fact they were not. In each of the five states we`ve been able to find the documents from -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona -- Republicans filed these fake forged documents claiming those states had actually picked Trump electors who were casting electoral college votes for Trump, when in fact the real electors from those states were Biden electors.

Republicans forged these documents, submitted them we believe to Congress and the National Archives to try to pass them off as the real deal. We`ve been trying to get ahold of some of these people who signed names to forged documents to learn more about this apparent coordinated scheme, particularly since we noticed all of the forgeries from those five states appear to be very similar -- similar enough that it looks like they were part of a coordinated, multi-state effort.

We`re still working on our part of that. But tonight, NBC`s great station in Phoenix and a reporter from "The Arizona Republic" caught up with one of the people who signed on to this document in Arizona.

His name is Jake Hoffman. He`s a Republican state representative in Arizona. You can see here that`s his kind of amazing signature on the forged fake elector form from Arizona. A cameraman from KPNX and an "Arizona Republic" reporter named Richard Ruelas caught up with Mr. Hoffman today and this is what happened.


STATE REP. JAKE HOFFMAN (R), ARIZONA: When Braham (ph) wants to ask a real question, happy to have a conversation with him.

REPORTER: Thank you, sir.

REPORTER: I had a couple of things to ask, that being one. I`m asking you that question, under what authority did you sign yourself as an elector?

HOFFMAN: So in unprecedented times, unprecedented action has occurred. There`s no case law, no precedent that exists as to whether or not an election that is currently being litigated in the courts has due standing, which is why we felt it appropriate to provide Congress and the vice president with dueling opinions.


REPORTER: Did you have direction from anybody in doing this? Was it you, leaven yourself to doing this? Or did someone give you advice on the manner in which you can do it?

HOFFMAN: So I`m simply -- I was one of the electors, right?


HOFFMAN: I`m not in charge of the electors, so you would need to --

REPORTER: How did you hear about it? How did you hear about it? How did you hear about it?

HOFFMAN: You would need to ask the party chair.

REPORTER: How did you hear about the plan? Were you just told to be somewhere?

HOFFMAN: You would need to ask the party chair that.

REPORTER: You`re the person who received the call, you showed up, right? How did you know to show that up day?

HOFFMAN: So, as I said, go ahead and ask the party chair the logistics of it.

REPORTER: I asked, you got a phone call to go somewhere?

HOFFMAN: You`re welcome to talk to them.

REPORTER: Do you not know how you arrived at a place?

HOFFMAN: Thank you. I appreciate your question.

REPORTER: Do you really not know how you got a call?

HOFFMAN: Have a great one.

REPORTER: The other question --


MADDOW: A reporter from "The Arizona Republic," Richard Ruelas, catching up with that man who signed that forged document. Again, the camera work from KPNX, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix. I`m supposed to call the party chair to ask her how you got a phone call to go somewhere? Do you not know how you arrived to the place? Do you really not know how you got a call?

We`re still working on this story, but now, lots of other people are, too. We`re going to get to the bottom of this.

More ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Well, last thing before we go tonight, just a heads up that tomorrow is what we call an opinion day at the United States Supreme Court. Just means we`re expecting Supreme Court rulings tomorrow. But we don`t know which cases.

One of the very big, very high-profile cases everybody`s paying attention to that`s under consideration by the court right now is the Biden administration`s requirement for large businesses that employees either need to be vaccinated or tested regularly. The court`s decision on that, whenever it happens, it, of course, could have an effect on millions of Americans. That decision could come as soon as tomorrow, we don`t know. But we will be watching closely.

That does it for us for now. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.


Good evening, Lawrence.