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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/25/22

Guests: Chris Larson, Ashish Jha


The U.S. Justice Department does say that the forged documents from electors in the states are the subject of ongoing investigations at the Justice Department now. Irish fishermen are going to peacefully disrupt Russian navy. U.S. hospitalizations remain high as several states pass the omicron peak.



BARBARA F. WALTER, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Today, the Republican Party is 90 percent white. That`s a definition of an ethnic faction.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. Barbara Walter, that piece is in "The Washington Post". You should check it out. A lot of thought-provoking stuff there.

Thank you very much.

WALTER: My pleasure, thank you.

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. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.

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

This is the splash headline at the front page at right now. As you see there, it says federal prosecutors looking at fake elector certificates, at last. We have confirmation of what we thought might be going on here. As you know, we have been following pretty closely the new revelations and renew reporting recently about Republicans in multiple states after the last election creating these fake documents, these forgeries, in which he asserted the electors from their states even though they really weren`t. They were not the real electors.

They sent those forged documents. They signed them. They sent them into Congress to be counted into the Electoral College. They sent the documents to the National Archives as well.

Last night on the show, we talk about new reporting from "Politico", which indicates that investigators at the National Archives have themselves opened a federal investigation into one set of these forged fake Republican electors from Arizona in the case of that reported investigation.

We`ve also reported on attorneys general and at least two states referring this matter formerly to federal prosecutors to that U.S. attorneys and their states as a matter of potential federal criminal prosecution. Well, now, tonight, the story most forward, thanks to a very rare interview that`s score with Deputy General Lisa Monaco. CNN has now got the U.S. Justice Department commenting on the record for the first time on the requests that they have received from state officials and others to investigate these forgeries, to investigate the Republican electorate forgeries as potential federal rhymes.

Quote: Federal prosecutors are reviewing fake Electoral College certifications that declared former President Donald Trump the winner of states that he lost, according to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. Monaco said, quote, we have received those referrals. Our prosecutors are looking at those and I can`t say anything more on ongoing investigations.

So, there it is. Welcome to the ongoing investigation phase, everyone! Everyone has been wondering if the United States Justice Department was going to let the whole, overthrow the government thing just slide. If the people who are going to be investigated for that plot to overthrow them are the people who took part in the smash and grab violent part of the scheme that played out at the U.S. Capitol on January six last year.

Well, now, we know there are ongoing investigations into another part of the plot. Into another part of the plot that didn`t unfold violently on the Capitol grounds on January 6th.

Remember, this thing appeared to operate at three basic levels. At least, these are the three levels -- I find it easier to sort of keep the whole thing in mind, if I think about it in terms of these three different levels of the scheme.

First, it was in the states, right? First level was in the states. In the states, they invented, or agenda, fake claims of voter fraud as a pretext to call into question the election results in those states. States that Biden, where Republican officials were in power of state government. So Republican officials could conceivably have power over the election results would be handled.

We now know that those risks fields to gin up false fraud claims, to call in election results in those states, to falsify or problematize the election results in those states, it also included in the states Republicans forging fake elector certifications. And sending them into the National Archives and Congress as if Trump won and as if they were the real electors.

So, that was the first level at which the scheme operated. It was what they did in the states. The second level was at the U.S. Justice Department, where they kicked up the scheme to have the U.S. Justice Department to try to validate and endorse the made-up fraud claims in the state. To give backup or even given instructions to Republican-led state governments that they should falsify the election results in their state. They should throw out the election results in their state with the imprimatur, and all the gravitas and authority and power of the U.S. Justice Department behind it.

So it`s first in the states. Second at the U.S. Justice Department. And then there was the third level, which was the pressure on the vice president.


They put enormous pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to throw the count, to sabotage the actual count of the Electoral College votes, refused to count the real electors from states where Republicans say the result there is consent tested there for some reason in any of the states where they sent and forged, fake electors alongside the real ones. They`ll say, that`s enough of a dispute from the states that you can discern where the real electors are.

And so, therefore, that station have its electors counted at all or maybe the fake electors for Trump should be counted instead. Or maybe there should be a delay and we should put off the inauguration for a while we look into these competing slates a little longer. I mean, that`s basically how I have organized this in my head in order to try to keep in mind the different ways at which this was operating.

I confess, we will -- you know, I can see that we will learn more in the days ahead. I can almost guarantee you, as long as the January six investigation keeps doing its work, we will find out more. But in terms of what we know, now, those were the three basic levels. The three basic battlegrounds, where they needed people to do stuff. They needed either their loyalists in place, or they needed to pressure and intimidate and cudgel, and corrupt officials to help the scheme.

In the states, in the Justice Department, and in that Senate chamber where Mike Pence was counting the votes on January 6th. The mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6th was just the muscle to help with the intimidation factor for the final part of the scheme.

Until tonight, we have not seen the U.S. Justice Department show any interest in investigating or prosecuting anybody other than the muscle, the mob, that showed up to play that one part at the very end of the plot, on January 6th itself.

Now, tonight, this is a change. Now, tonight, for the first time, the U.S. Justice Department says there are ongoing federal investigations into the elector forgeries too, forgeries that we know were carried out and. At least five states in a coordinated fashion. Forgeries that we know, from the January 6th investigation and from good new reporting in recent days. We know those coordinated forgeries were organized as part of a conspiracy led by the Trump campaign, with that least the full knowledge of the presidents White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

If those forgeries are going to be investigated and potentially prosecuted as federal crimes, the next big question will, of course, be -- well, again, do you just go for the low level people, do you just prosecute the people who actually signed their names to those false documents? Or, do you prosecute the conspiracy?

Do you prosecute the people who came up with the scheme, the people who put those fake electors up to it? Who organized the whole thing? Who gave them, you know, mad libs, color by numbers, template document that they all seem to have used in at least five different states, to carry out these forgeries and send them in?

Do you just, once again, go for the little fish, or do you go for the people who cooked up the steam? We shall see.

I will tell you, we`re going to have another update for you on the story coming up in a few minutes tonight, specifically out of Wisconsin. You know, we do have footage, it`s funny, because these are being treated as a potential federal crime now, we have video footage of the alleged crime being committed in some cases. Footage of these forged documents being signed. Or in some cases, we have these have footage of some of the people who pursue dissipated in these forgeries on the day that they did it.

In Nevada, for example, the fake electors there, here they are. On December 14th, they set themselves up right outside the Nevada state capital and they stream the thing live on some right-wing livestream while they all signed the fake documents and declare that they were the duly elected electors from the state of Nevada, which but they were not.

In Michigan, for example, on that same day, December 14th, we have footage of Republicans claiming to be the states electors when they were not, demanding to be lead into the Michigan state capital. That was while the real electors were actually inside. It`s that memorable footage that we have shown several times here, Michigan state police officers say, no, you cannot come in. The actual real electors are here in the capital, you are not them, goodbye, we are closing the door now, you cannot come in.

So, we have footage of how this went down on December 14th in a few different states. But it`s interesting, in the state of Wisconsin, they didn`t get stuck outside in the cold with some card table set outside the state capital. They did end up like they were in Michigan, trying to get in passed the state police. In Wisconsin, the Republican fake electors actually had the benefit of signing their forgeries, signing the fake paperwork, inside the state capital, in a ceremonial ruin, just down the hall in the state capitol, from where the real electors were meeting at the same moment.


How did they get in? Who let them in? Interesting story, it turns out.

Earlier this month, a Democratic state senator from Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson, he sent a letter to Wisconsin prosecutors asking for an update as to whether or not any criminal investigation was underway in the state into these forgeries, and if not, why not. But in addition to that letter to the prosecutors, Senator Larson also thought to ask, hey, who let the Republican fake electors in Wisconsin into the state capital that day, into enough in official meeting room for them to conduct this alleged crime, for them to create this forged document in a way that was sort of made it look real, made it look official?

Again, this happened December 14th 2020. State capital in Wisconsin was formally closed to the public that day because of COVID. It was only open for official business. There was no official business underway when a bunch of Republicans got together and signed forged paperwork pretending to be Wisconsin`s electors, when there were no such thing. That was not official business. The real electors had official business. They didn`t.

So, Senator Chris Larson of Wisconsin thought to ask, well since they didn`t have official business that they, how did they get in the capitol? How did they get a reserve room inside of the capitol to commit that alleged crime?

Well, Senator Chris Larson is going to join us here tonight in just a few moments to talk about this because now he appears to have figured out the answer. And it looks like the person who is implicated in this is now a sitting Republican member of Congress, as in the U.S. Congress. That appears to be the person who has -- who provided that scene of the crime, who provided an official meeting room for this unofficial, forgery ceremony, for which these Republicans might find themselves at the end of the -- potentially federal prosecution.

So, anyway, it`s all taking a weird turn. It continues to take we are turns. Practically on this now where the Justice Department has finally confirmed that this part of the scam is under federal investigation. So we have all of that coming up tonight, lots of interesting developing on that story that we have been covering so closely.

Plus, we have a bunch of interesting news tonight on COVID, something truly weird happening in Florida. That is going to happen in large part tomorrow that you should know about tonight so that you are sort of forearmed and forewarned about what is going to happen tomorrow in Florida on COVID.

Also, some of the Biden administration`s COVID plans coming to fruition in a way that is going to make a very practical change for lots of American families, we have a lot to get to tonight. A lot to talk about.

Before we get to our first guest tonight, though, there is one story that I just want to put on your radar here, something to sort of put your antenna out for, to watch for in the news. I find this absolutely astonishing. It`s not really getting coverage in this country at this point, I`m hoping to change that because I think it deserves a lot of attention. And you should definitely know about it.

Here`s a story. You might have seen the headlines today the bipartisan leadership in both houses of Congress got a classified briefing from senior national security officials on the discussion on whether Russia is going to invade Ukraine again. And with the U.S. and our allies are going to try to stop to stop that from happening, what we`re going to do in response if Russia does go ahead and do it.

A classified briefing for congressional leadership is a serious an ominous thing. Another serious an ominous thing on this front we reported yesterday, the State Department has not only put on a travel advisory telling citizens to not travel to that part of the world right now, but they have also sent home the family members of people who work at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine. Again, sort of an ominous sign.

Russia did that with family members of the people who work at their embassy in Kyiv last week. Now the United States has done it with family members with the staff from their embassy. Thousands of U.S. troops are on heightened alert, they are considering significant troop deployments to help allies in the region that could put happen on short notice. We are sending all sorts of military aid to Ukraine to help them box up their own military capabilities. There`s just a lot going on in preparation for another potential Putin war.

But nobody actually knows if he plans to do it. Nobody knows if he plans to do it now. Especially since he started this military buildup on Ukraine`s borders months ago. And it is been building and building and building.

Incidentally, I don`t know if he cares but there is no sign during all of those months. All of that time that he`s been building up his forces on the Ukrainian border, there is no sign that support is building among the Russian people, for Putin to launch another invasion of Ukraine, another war there.


But again, I suppose it`s a nice thing about doing away with democracy. Who cares with the people think, it`s not like they get to decide who their leaders are?

But here`s a piece of it that is worth I think a heads up about. In Norway, back in November, there was a weird and still unsolved consequential case of underwater sabotage. It`s off the coast of northern Norway.

The government there operates a field of undersea sensors, that among other things can detect the movement of passing submarines. Unexpectedly and in a still unexplained in an incident back in November, someone or something cut the cables linking those undersea sensors to their control stations on the shore. Cables were ripped out, this answers themselves were messed with, but the cables were cut.

And suspicion immediately fell on Russia as the potential culprit, particularly because they`re known to have the capacity to mess with undersea cables. And they`ve done so before but the incident, at least officially remains unsolved to. Although lots of Norwegian sources including government sources have been sort of indicating that they`re tough suspect in this sabotage is the Russian military. Again, that happened in November.

Then two weeks ago, it happened again. Another set of undersea cables off the coast of Norway were mysteriously cut. This time it was cables that among other things they supply data to a huge commercial ground satellite array, a satellite array that Russia has been complaining about four years. Russia says that that satellite array, they think it secretly and illegally being used for military communications when it`s not supposed to be. But that satellite array is not being a use for anything now, because somehow the undersea cables that supply data to it, they again to be appear to be have been messed with. The cables appear to have been cut. This is happened twice off the coast of Norway just in the last couple months.

And then there`s Ireland, couple of months before the first set of Norwegian undersea cables was mysteriously cut, a couple of months before that, the Irish government got righteous lee freaked out when this Russian ship turned up right off the coast of Donegal in northwest Ireland.

Officially, this is an oceanographic research vessel that`s operated by the Russian navy. But it`s a very high tech recently built vessel. And in terms of its technical capacity, lots of governments around the world think that this is a huge by ship. And I think specifically the Russian navy bill to ship to target undersea cables. Among other things, the ship can launch a bunch of different small man submarines that can dive super deep. They can dive like 20,000 feet deep.

And when this ship turned off, off the west coast of Ireland in August, here`s how "The Times" reported at the time on Irish worries that that Russian ship warily maneuvering off the Irish coast might be messing with undersea cables and communications, see the headline there, Russian spy ship monitor off the coast of Donegal. Quote, a Russian spy ship built to carry out clandestine undersea missions being monitored by the defense force off the west coast. The Yantar, which is part of the Russian navy, arrived unexpectedly off the Donegal coastline on Tuesday night.

The vessel is equipped, again this is an August last year, the vessel is equipped with a man and remote operating submersibles used to attach listening devices to undersea cables that carry internet traffic between continents. There is at least one commercial subsidy cable in the general region where the vessel is loitering. The ship spent the early hours of Wednesday morning traversing the seas to the north of Mayo and west of Donegal in a zigzag fashion, suggesting it was searching for something beneath the waves using sonar. The ship moved to a location to the west of Killybegs, I guess is how you say it, Killybegs fishing harbor yesterday afternoon before moving further out into the Atlantic. The vessels behavior was described as highly suspicious by military sources.

Again, that was august. Lots of worries there. The irish government, the Irish defense forces, freaking out about that western that spy ship off its coast. Particular because it was in the vicinity of its cables, and particular because of whatever one thinks at Russia is doing with undersea cables right now in advance potentially of its next invasion of Ukraine. Well, now, next week, again, off the coast of Ireland. Russia says it`s going to mount major naval war game exercises. This comes right on the heels of that spy ship off of Donegal.

Ireland is still really rattled by the -- prospect -- literally the cables that connect Europe to North America may already have been targeted by Russian ships recently. And since then, in Norway, they`ve had two different sets of undersea cables cut under very suspicious circumstances. And now Russian naval forces are coming back to the Irish coast for war games next week?

Look at this, here`s "The Irish Times". Quote, the exact location of the drill is an area known as the Porcupine Seabight, southwest of Cork. That exact location is also causing anxiety in Ireland. If the purposes of the exercise derby nine, it would be far easier to Russia to hold these exercises closest to his own shores.

Military sources say it`s not unheard of for foreign navies to conduct drills inside the Irish economic zone. But quote, they usually have a good reason for it. It makes sense for the royal navy to conduct exercise in that area of the Atlantic because that`s on their doorstep. It doesn`t make practical sense for the Russians to be there, said one day naval service source.

If the Russian military exercises are linked to an invasion of Ukraine, they may serve one of several purposes, according to military planners. One is psychological, to remind NATO of the Russian navies freedom of movement, which may make NATO members think twice about launching retaliatory military actions.

Another possibility is strategic. If the situation in Ukraine to deteriorate significantly, one of the first priorities of NATO would likely be to boxing as much of the Russian fleet as possible into the reports. It is in Russia`s interest to disperse its ships in international waters ahead of such eventuality. For Ireland, the worst-case scenario is that Russia is positioning itself to disable the subsidy infrastructure running along the southern coast and connecting Europe and North America.

The Russian military drills next week are due to take place directly above the nexus of many of the Internet cables that connect the two continents, that connect North America and Europe. Cutting those cables would immediately cripple the economies of NATO countries and Ireland. Cutting the cables was described as one naval source as the perfect counter punch against any NATO or U.S. military response in Ukraine.

Quote, if I wanted to invade Ukraine and hamstring my opponents, I would want to cut those cables. It would be lights out for the economy of Western Europe. Again, that`s "The Irish Times" on these Russian war games that are due to start off the Irish coast next week, and why Ireland is so worried about it, particularly given recent history in their neighborhood.

I mean, every country in the world, every country in the West, it is worried about Russia potentially starting this new war, everybody except for our friends at Fox News primetime, who are apparently rooting for Russia in this instance and wouldn`t mind a war.

But, elsewhere in the West, everybody is worried about it. And this is Ireland`s very specific concern of how they might be in the middle of it in a way they really do not want to be in the middle of it. The problem is for all of Ireland`s concerned about it, and for us for warrant and armed as they are about it -- because of that spy ship coming off their coast just a few months ago, there`s not much that Ireland itself can do about it.

I mean, Ireland, no offense, but they do not have much of a Navy. Ireland literally has no military radar in the entire country. They don`t have military radar. They have navigational radar but no military radar.

The Ireland is not have a single ship that`s capable of like, launching a helicopter off of it, they just don`t have that kind of military capacity. So what can they do?

Well, you know when Ireland does have to defend itself in this instance? It has very annoyed fishermen. Irish fishermen, who are so mad about what Russia`s going to do with these war games off their coast next week that they, the fishermen say that they personally have a plan to stop it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fisherman say they`re considering plans to peacefully disrupt Russia naval exercises off the coast southwest coast next month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The decision by the Russian navy to conduct live gunnery and a missile firing exercise, 116 nautical miles off the coast next month is causing huge concerns for fishermen gathered on the pier this morning.

ALAN CARLTON, FISHERMAN: If someone came into your backyard and said we`re doing an army exercise, we wouldn`t be happy with it either.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Russian military exercises due to take place over five days near the Porcupine Bight, an area within a Ireland`s exclusive economic zone, rich with prawns and blue whiting, giving rise to fears for the fishing grounds and marine life.

JOHN D. O`SULLIVAN, FISHERMAN: We`re not going to be fighting bow and arrows at each other, but I mean this is a live exercise and it`s massive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fishermen say that up to 60 trawlers will fish in the area in peaceful protest in the hope that it will disrupt the Russian maneuvers.


PATRICK MURPHY, FISHERMAN: So our protest is our presence outside, that we`re going to continue to fish out there, and we`re raising the awareness that were there when this is happening. The sea is our working environment, it`s where we should be safe, we shouldn`t be dealing with this type of interference with our livelihoods, and no communications about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a statement, this evening the, with the Russian embassy that he had spoken to the fisherman`s organization and said that while it understands its concerns any attempt to interfere with the military exercise would be a reckless and irresponsible act, which could put both sailors and fishermen in harm`s way.

Jenny O`Sullivan, RTE News, Castletownbere.


MADDOW: It`s not like they`re going to be far rose far rainbows and arrows at each other. Fishermen say up to 60 trawlers will fish in the area in peaceful protest, our protests is our presence.

The fishermen say they plan to stop to Russian military exercises next week. They told "Politico" today, quote, our votes will be going out to that area on the 1st of February to go fishing, when one vote needs to return to port, another will head out. So there is a continuous present on the water. If that is in proximity to where the Russian military exercises going on, we are expecting the Russian naval services will abide by anti- collision regulations. We will abide by anti collision regulations, which sounds well and good.

But, sir, to be clear, do you mean you`re going to go out there in your little Irish fishing boats and confront the Russians beefy? Yes. Yes, they are perfectly clear that that is what they`re going to do. This was Morning Ireland, this morning on RTE.


REPORTER: Are you planning to face down the Russians then, Patrick?

MURPHY: Well, we`re entitled to go fishing in the areas outside there. This is our waters. Let me put it this to you weigh, so everybody can understand this, can you imagine if the Russians were planning to go on the mainland of Ireland to go launching rockets? How far would they get with that?

It`s no different to fishermen. This is our ground. These are farm, this is where we are in our living. Why should somebody be able to come in and you do that in our waters, in our territorial waters, just by your leave. This is a very important ground where fish come to spawn, the mackerel, and we don`t know what`s going on out here.

So for us, we should be entitled to go fishing their. And if we`re fishing there in these boats and these vessels, warships, shouldn`t be having war games. And not only that, these warships will be followed by submarines. And we have our gear behind our votes.

What if they get tangled in it? This is happened before. Boats have been sunk by these vessels. This is a real concern to us.

And we are in our industry see that nothing is being done here, like everything else, and we want to act. And this is how we`re going to act.

REPORTER: It sounds a bit risky.


MADDOW: Sounds a bit risky. Indeed. But that is the plan, the whole world took Vladimir Putin`s great delight, the whole world is on tenterhooks to find out whether Russia is going to start another war.

Irish fishermen on the other hand are heading out to actively stop it. And fish for mackerel while they`re at it. God bless them every single one of them.

We got lots to get to tonight. We`ll be right back.



MADDOW: A month after the last presidential election, Wisconsin`s electors met its official Democratic electors met, because Biden won the state of Wisconsin. They met here, inside this office to finalize the states electoral office for Biden.

At the same time that was happening, a separate group of Republicans pretending to be official electors also met inside the state capital. Today, we`re learning new details about that second meeting, during which the fake Republican electors forged documents claiming to be the real deal. Those Republican electors apparently reserve two rooms to carry out their steam inside the Wisconsin capital. They received this hearing room inside the capitol, and also this grand ceremonial room, the Wisconsin state parlor room, which served as a pretty fancy backdrop for forging election documents.

How did that group of fake electors get to meet inside the Wisconsin state capital at a time when the capital was closed to the public because of COVID? At the time the only official business was being allowed inside the Capitol. At a time when meeting spent the space inside the capitol could only be requested by Wisconsin state lawmakers.

Well, in this case, it appears that the fraudulent electors were able to get official meeting space inside the Wisconsin state capital at the request of this man who is now U.S. Congressman Scott Fitzgerald. At the time, he was Congressman-elect Fitzgerald, he was ending his term as the Republican leader in the Wisconsin state senate.

Thanks to an Open Records Request, we now know that, the staff of now Congressman Fitzgerald, they reserved meeting space inside the state capital for the Wisconsin Republican Party at the same date and time that those fraudulent electors convened in those rooms.

Here`s the email requests that Senator Larson, Senator Chris Larson, filed the Freedom of Information Act request here, here`s the email that his office released today. This is from the Senate -- quote, sent Thursday, December 10th, 2020, 1:30 p.m. Subject, booking parlor an extra hearing room for Monday. Monday, December 14th. Importance high.

Quote, Dan from Fitzgerald`s office called and would like to book the parlor in another hearing room, Monday, December 14th from 10 to 2, it`s an outside group called, quote, Republican Party per Dan. Can you please check on this for him and let him know, the parlor looked open to me but I don`t know if it anything else is going on with everything happening on Monday.

Everything happening on Monday of course was -- it was December 14th, that`s a day that Wisconsin was making it official, that the states ten votes in the Electoral College would be cast by electors for President Biden.

Yeah, there was real work happening on the Capitol this day. How are we too busy to squeeze in a crime here? Do we have the nice really could give him for that?

So that was December 14th. Just a couple of weeks later, January 3rd, Congressman Fitzgerald was sworn in to the U.S. Congress. His first act, I should tell you as a congressman, was to cast his own vote against certifying the election for Joe Biden. Trying to block the electoral votes from being counted from states that Biden won.

Democratic State Senator Chris Larson, who got these emails, said today, quote: If Congressman Fitzgerald did indeed provide the meeting space in our state capital where ten partisans conspired to defraud our democracy, he must explain why he did so.

I should tell you, we have reached out to Congressman Fitzgerald for comment tonight, we have not yet heard back. But we live in hope.

Joining us now is Democratic Wisconsin state senator, Chris Larson. He represents parts of Milwaukee. He issued this request to reveal -- appears to have reserved the meeting room for this fraudulent electors.

Senator Larson, thanks for being here tonight. It`s nice to have you here.

STATE SEN. CHRIS LARSON (D), WISCONSIN: Absolutely, thank you so much for having me, Rachel. And thanks for covering this important story.

MADDOW: This is an interesting piece of the story that you yourself have covered in terms of filing this public workers request, thanking to file it in to in the first place, and thinking about if it would tell you more who is behind this. Let me ask if I explain any of it wrong or if there`s anything that I`m misconstruing in terms of importance of what you found?

LARSON: No, I think you explained it excellently. The only thing that I would add was this is in the midst of Wisconsin having being the least active full time legislator in the entire country. So there was very limited business happening within the Capitol. And yet, then Senator Fitzgerald, now Congressman Fitzgerald, sought to reserve this room right off the capitol, merely steps away from where he the actual electors were meeting at the exact same time.

MADDOW: I have to ask you, the state capital in December 2020, as I understand it, it was close to the public because of COVID it was only open for official business. Is it conceivable, in your mind, that Congressman Scott Fitzgerald who rented this -- or reserve this room for these Republican Party officials, not knowing what they were going to do with it? Not having a sense that in alleged crime was going to be the purpose of their meeting that day?

LARSON: I mean, it is certainly possible. But I don`t know who`s all that gullible. I think this is a question that I`m sure he should be asked. And if there is justice to be served, he will be asked by federal investigators by that.

But look, this is what happened on January six is something that did not just get plotted that very day. It`s something that started more than a month before hand, and something that`s spanned across seven states. And in the case of Senator Fitzgerald, now Congressman Fitzgerald, it was something where he had to roll up in the beginning of it, and opening up this room which was being used for these ten fraudulent electors to show up and claim wrongly that they were the electors from the state of Wisconsin trying to overturn the will of Wisconsin.

But then a month later, on January 6th, Senator Fitzgerald, now Congressman Fitzgerald, now was one of the few people voting to block the electors, block the certification of electors from certain states. So he was a part of it that, and then just a week after that was casting doubt on whether there are Donald Trump was to blame for what happened on January 6th at all.

So what happened on January 6th didn`t start then, and, frankly, it`s still continuing now with a fake election investigations that are happening within our state and happening for over a year, trying to question what happen through our very safe and secure election in Wisconsin.

MADDOW: Senator Larson, I know that you have written to county prosecutor, County D.A. in Wisconsin asking about whether this matter with the false electors, these forged documents, whether this was under investigation. We know that that district attorney has said that they`ve referred the matter to state law enforcement they, think it should be investigated by the state attorney generals office.

The state attorney general in Wisconsin has put out a statement that doesn`t messy to indicate whether or not his office might be looking into this, or whether there has been any form or referral indeed to federal prosecutors from his office or anybody else in the state.

Do you have any insight in terms of what`s going on as to whether this being treated as a law enforcement matter in your state?

LARSON: Yeah. And I have talked directly to the attorney general of our state, and he believes -- he wouldn`t say one way or the other if there is an investigation going on, but he did say that he does think it`s more fit for what`s happening at the federal level because it is a larger scope, kind of into an with what the Michigan attorney general is doing. And so, this is something that is very clear that there was -- at least from my perspective, not his words -- but there is fraud that was committed.


There was an attempt to overthrow the election. And just because they weren`t successful doesn`t mean they shouldn`t should not be held accountable. The reality is, if this were arson, if you had somebody would matches, gasoline and tinder, but they were unable to get the flame going. You wouldn`t continue to let them keep doing this, right? Months later, years later, in the case of this where they`re continuing to try to build a case to overturn the next election. It`s important for each and every one of these electors and frankly in the case of Congressman Fitzgerald and everyone who is part about this is held accountable to the full extent of the law. Whether that be federally, through the investigation, through the Justice Department, or whether it be through state laws as well.

MADDOW: Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson -- Senator Larson, thank you for you today, I appreciate you helping us to find out more about the story that we didn`t otherwise know. Thank you.

LARSON: Thanks for covering it.

MADDOW: Again, the breaking news that we covered at the beginning of this hour, is that the U.S. Justice Department does say that the matter of these false electors, these forged documents from electors in the states is the subject of ongoing investigations at the Justice Department now.

Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I want to show you some video here of part of the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in our nation`s history. Now this is not archival footage, this is not from decades ago. It`s not from a couple of years ago. It`s this video shot today at a Meyer grocery store in Frazier, Michigan.

Anybody wants can now come and pick up three free high quality N95 masks at that grocery store. And you can see, the staff wearing gloves admire, they`re just putting the mass out in piles of three and would look like the kind of bags you weigh your charlatan. All you have to do is come and take them, no questions asked.

That is true as of right now admire grocery locations across the Midwest. You can also pick them up at some Hy-Vee grocery stores in the Midwest, all locations of which are scheduled to be giving out the free mess by tomorrow, by the end of this week. We`re supposed to see start seeing these free mass at some of the locations of Walgreens and Kroger`s and Winn- Dixie, the chain fresco, they`re going to be all over.

It`s all part of the larger national rollout the Biden administration announced last week. They`re going to make 400 million N95 masks available to the public for free, three high quality N95s for anybody who wants them.

Now, I know you`ve heard the term N95, they`re really different. If you have never worn a real N95 mask before, they really all qualitatively different from any other mask you might have worn. They`re just way more protective than whatever else you have been wearing that is that. Well, now, Americans of all stripes should be able to get that, not just health care workers or people who have other specific professional need for them. Not just people with connections. They should be the highest quality masks available, N95s, for regular Americans for free.

And because they`re trying to go as fast as possible here, this rollout is truly rolling out the first few stores to get them mask, started distributing them right away this week. We should see more and more stores joining in until this thing hits full force early next month. But again, it`s 400 million masks that they are sending out.

We`re also now starting to see the first reports of people getting there for free at home rapid COVID tests in the mail from the federal government. Those have started to arrive through the mail. This is a reminder, if you haven`t done it yet, the Biden administration bought one billion at home rapid COVID tests to distribute to the American people for free, billion with a B.

They`re mailing them out to Americans for free. You have to just go to You put in your address and they will mail up to four free tests your house. So it`s a way to do list to take advantage of what the administration is now being able to get running.

Check your local paper, keep your tab open on your local pharmacies website, tell your friends when they`ve got him, go get your free mask. They`re the really good masks. Get your free tests.

Be a part of the biggest federal deployment of personal protective equipment in history. It`s your history, too. It`s our lives, it`s our history. It`s us, right now.



MADDOW: Today, Pfizer announced that has begun testing a new vaccine, a new vaccine formulated specifically for the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Omicron now makes up 99 percent of the vaccines circulating in this country.

With these clinical trials now underway, Pfizer CEO says he expects the omicron specific vaccine to be ready quickly in March, which is after all only a few weeks away. Even before we`ve gotten an omicron specific vaccine though, lots of U.S. states that were hit hardest in the early part of the omicron wave are already seeing cases decline rapidly, because we are seeing that in multiple hard-hit states, even while the variant continues to surge in rich states with low vaccination rates, our overall national case count is now starting to drop. We appear to be on the downward side of the curve in terms of the omicron crush.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University Public School of Health, put it this way in "The Washington Post", his headline here as you can see is quote, the worst of omicron might have passed but the pandemic isn`t over.

Dr. Jha suggest that we use the next few months when we see lower levels of the virus, to get ready, to get ready for the next surge or even the next variant. He says part of that preparation will need to include new vaccines. He also says by the time the next variant arrives, all Americans should have access to antiviral treatments immediately after testing positive.

Are we on track? Both for new variant specific vaccines and for the kind of access the therapeutics that my kind of the make that kind of difference.

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

Dr. Jha, it`s nice to see you again. Thank you for being here tonight.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good evening, Rachel. Thanks for having me back.

MADDOW: You embody cautious optimism on the best of days, but you are now making it explicit in this piece for "The Washington Post" today and some of what you posted on twitter today around it. I wonder if you could tell people sort of how to keep in mind these two things at once, that it does feel like we have a sense of what the shape of the omicron curve is going to be like, and we may be on the far side of it, on the downslope side of it. While also seeing health care staff in so many states beyond the point of overwhelmed still, in the places where the crush is still live.


JHA: Yeah, so Rachel, we do have to two challenges right now. One is there is some good news, as you said, that we are on the other side of this curve. And we all hope that we all continue to slide down that curve pretty quickly. And I am optimistic that we will but, will have to see.

What I`m worried about is what we do after we come down from it each of these waves is we decide, okay, the pandemic is over, we`re moving on. Unfortunately, the virus doesn`t seem to agree with that. And what I am calling for is to use that period of reprieve when we`re all taking a deep breath and case numbers are down and we`re relaxing a little bit, to get ready, to get ready with antivirals, with testing, with masks, with better vaccines, so that if that we -- if there`s another surge, or another variant, we will manage a very, very differently.

MADDOW: Is there anything that we have learned about the treatments of- limited therapeutics that we`ve got now, and indeed the way we have handled vaccines as a country, that might help us be less, forgive me, sort of stupid about them in the future? You talk about the promise of the antiviral therapeutics that are coming down the pipeline, but at the same time in Florida today, we see the governor grandstanding about how he demands access to monoclonal antibodies that don`t work against the omicron variant, because he seems to be able to understand that variants have different susceptibilities for different therapeutics.

I`m worried that we`ve already taken a giant step in the dumb direction, in a way that indicates we might not have learned any lessons from misunderstanding therapeutics and vaccines up until now.

JHA: Yeah. So one of the biggest lessons is that every time there`s a new variant, we have to double check. Will our therapeutics work? Will our vaccines work?

And so far, the vaccines have held up incredibly well. Now some of our therapeutic us are holding fine, others are not. So that`s the first things, was to know which ones are going to work. The second is we need a strategy for deploying these. You know, right now, especially when you don`t have great supply, you can`t just walk into a CVS and get an order of Paxlovid.

You`ve got a target high risk people, make sure that these things are available for them. There`s a lot of work that goes in beyond just having enough doses. And pretend -- until the crisis, when it`s much more hard to pull off.

MADDOW: Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, voice of reason here as always, thank you sir. It`s nice to see you.

JHA: Thank you.

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


MADDOW: That`s going to do it for us tonight. I`ll see you again here tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.