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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/27/2021

Guest: Coral Davenport, Ezra Levin�


President Biden signs executive actions on climate change. Progressive grassroots movements prepare for Democratic control of White House and Congress.


ERIN GRIFFITH, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: -- money and so, you know, I think little concerning to see what`s going to happen when the stock goes down because it will go down. Can`t stay at the level, I mean, so people could be hurting quite a bit.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": If there`s a lesson here that we`ve learned is that online does not stay online. Just look at the last four weeks of American life.

Erin Griffith, thank you very much.

GRIFFITH: Yeah, thanks for having me.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Wednesday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris Hayes, if you ever wanted to write another book about the finance world and the stock market and Wall Street and its culture, I would preorder enough of those books to put you on "The New York Times" bestseller list.

HAYES: You would -- you would create a sub Reddit that got people do to what they did to GameStop? That`s a good idea.

MADDOW: That`s exactly right.

HAYES: I could talk about this story for three hours. It`s fascinating.

MADDOW: Well, I am -- I am in the bubble with you on this one, Chris. I want to hear you talk about it forever. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

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

You know, this time four years ago, the CEO of Exxon was starting his new job as secretary of state, for America, for the United States. Whose idea was that? The Exxon CEO, as you may recall, it did not go well. It did not go well for him. It did not even go particularly well for Exxon, which was the biggest surprise. It did not go well for the United States of America.

By the time reports surfaced that the Exxon CEO had described the president as an F-ing moron at a meeting in the Situation Room and the secretary of state would not deny he said it, it was even clear that his tenure was not going well for the administration, his tenure as secretary of state certainly was not good for the State Department. It really was just a bad idea all around that turned out even worse than you might have thought from the initial badness of the bad idea.

One of the things that happened at the State Department over the past four years under the previous president is that they basically stopped talking to the public or the press. I mean, at the U.S. State Department the usual practice going back to the 1950s was regular, almost always daily press briefings. Under the last president, they just stopped doing that without ever explaining why. And it`s a weird thing, right? I mean, this is the part of the U.S. government that`s responsible for diplomacy, for the United States of America promoting its interests and getting America`s way in the world by persuasion, right? By argument, by diplomacy, by talking other people and other countries into our way of seeing things.

But under the last president, they just decided they would stop talking, they would stop trying to make a public case for what they would do. They would stop even explaining what they were doing and instead at the outset this time four years ago, we learned that what they were going to try to replace that were silent photo-ops. Journalists would be allowed into some room somewhere to see the secretary of state or another official shaking hands with some other person silently and the reporters that cover the state department were just supposed to like silently observe that and then I guess write a story about the handshake they were allowed to observe and not overhear and not ask questions about.

They stopped doing the daily briefings. They stopped taking questions from reporters. They just staged these weird tableau vivant. Describe what you see.

One of my favorite moments from this time four years ago with that very weird start at the State Department, that radical departure from the way the State Department has always been run was seeing NBC`s Andrea Mitchell not adapt to this new system. Andrea Mitchell has covered the State Department inside and out for decades, she is the greatest State Department reporter of all time.

She was allowed in four years ago to be one of the reporters at the stupid silent photo-op things that the Trump administration was trying to do and Andrea was just not having it. She was like, no. Forget this. You want me to stand here silently and observe you not speaking and sitting next to somebody? No.

We are reporters. We need to ask questions. You are the government. I`m going to ask you questions.


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Mr. Secretary, can you do your job with the kind of budget cuts the president has proposed? What does it say about the priority of diplomacy in this administration? Do you think you`ll have a deputy any time soon, sir?

STAFFER: Thank you. We`re done. Thank you.

MITCHELL: When do you think you think you might have a deputy?

STAFFER: Andrea --

Come on, guys. Come one. Let`s go, Andrea.

Come on, guys. Andrea. This way. Out, please. Out.


MADDOW: Andrea`s been covering -- Andrea Mitchell`s been covering the State Department for decades. All the staffers, the career staffers at the State Department know her. Andrea, please. No. We`re -- apparently they`re not taking questions. Andrea, please.

You`re going to hear Andrea herself sort of cracked up at the end there like seriously? We`re doing this? That was four years ago. That was how the State Department interacted with the public and the press, as of four years ago.

No asking questions. You were allowed to observe the secretary of state silently sitting next to an official while you are not allowed to ask questions about what`s going on, and you can base your story on that. That was four years ago.

This was today.


MITCHELL: Thank you very much. Congratulations, Mr. Secretary.

TONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Good the see you, Andrea.

MITCHELL: President Biden in his first phone call with President Putin yesterday outlined some areas of agreement such as the arms control agreement, the extension of new START. But at the same time areas of concern, many of which involve Russia. We`re talking about SolarWinds hack and Ukraine, of course, the investigation, the assessment, the interference of the 2020 campaign, but also, also the safety of Alexei Navalny.


MITCHELL: And so, I want to ask you, what are the red lines in which the United States would consider sanctioning Russia if there`s any harm that comes to Mr. Navalny or to the protesters as they`re being arrested? You know, how front and center is this issue to you of Russian crackdown on the opposition and on human rights?

BLINKEN: Well, thanks, Andrea. As you know, we have already expressed our deep concern for the treatment of Mr. Navalny specifically and more generally with the human rights situation in Russia. And it remains striking to me how concerned and maybe even scared the Russian government seems to be of one man, Mr. Navalny.

Across the board, as the president has said, we`re reviewing all of these actions that are a deep concern to us, whether it is the treatment of Mr. Navalny and particularly the apparent use of a chemical weapon in an attempt to assassinate him. We are looking very urgently at SolarWinds and looking at the reports of bounties placed by Russia on American forces in Afghanistan. And, of course, we are looking at these allegations of election interference.

MITCHELL: And you`re not ruling out anything if there`s harm to the country?

BLINKEN: Not ruling out anything, but we want to get -- get this full review done and then we`ll take it from there.


MADDOW: Newly sworn-in Secretary of State Antony Blinken today briefing from the State Department and taking questions from reporters on his first day on the job and giving them straightforward and indeed in some cases necessarily complex answers, which amounts to a radical departure from the way the U.S. government was run over the past four years, just by virtue of the fact there`s reporters there and allowed to speak and here`s government officials taking questions of what the government is doing and what its priorities are.

I mean, that`s the standard we had for generations before Trump. Under the Trump administration they just stopped doing everything but now apparently we are going back to the way the government works. That`s a U-ey. That is a 180 back to the idea of a functioning government.

Not to mention the fact that what the new secretary of state, Secretary Blinken, is talking about here is the new president, Joe Biden, calling the president of Russia and giving him a shove for once on a whole bunch of things.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can both operate in the mutual self interest of our countries as a new START agreement and make it clear to Russia that we are, we are very concerned about their behavior, whether it`s Navalny, whether it`s the SolarWinds or whether it`s reports of bounties on the heads of Americans in Afghanistan. I have asked the agencies in question to do a thorough -- a thorough read for me on every one of those issues to update me on precisely where they are and I will not hesitate to raise those issues with the Russians.


MADDOW: I will not hesitate to raise those issues with the Russians. Pinch me.

A weird thing about the previous president and Russia, there were so many weird things, but one weird thing about it for we the public and those that work in the news business is that over the past four years, every time President Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, every time that we know of, we would learn about them having a conversation from the Kremlin. It would be the Russian government that told us that they had a phone or meeting, every single freaking time. It was Russia that provided the first information, sometimes the only information about communications between our president and theirs, which means and meant for four years that Russia always got to put their spin on what exactly happened in those many, many contacts between our two presidents.

Under President Trump, Russia always gets to announce the call or the meeting, they would therefore get to put their spin on what happened in that call or that meeting and then the U.S. government would go second, would go after them and never contradict the Russians` take on what happened. Just go along with whatever they said.

That`s what it`s been like for the past four years but hello, new president. That`s apparently not how we`re doing that anymore. That clip that I just showed up. It was President Biden on Monday telling the press, telling the American public in advance that he was about to have a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that on that call, he intended to talk with him about a whole bunch of things that Russia has done to attack us or things that we otherwise don`t like about their behavior. He says he will not hesitate to raise those issues with the Russia.

Then yesterday, just as he said it would, that call between Biden and Putin happened. President Biden`s this time we didn`t have to learn about it from the Kremlin first. This time, we learned about it from hour own government first. Not only did we get that word in advance from the president that it was going to happen but when the call happened, the White House press secretary provided a summary of the discussion at the White House press briefing which is a thing that happens every day now. Wow.

And then in addition to that verbal summary of what happened on the call there`s a formal written readout of the call saying that president Biden raised a number of matters of concern with Vladimir Putin and I`ll tell you advance, the Kremlin also put out a readout of this call between Biden and Putin in which they mention none of these matters of concern. In the Kremlin readout, they made it sound like Biden called Putin to talk about Cooperation and mutual feelings on trade and kissy-kissy, everything that`s fine. That`s the way the Kremlin likes to characterize these discussions between the Russian president and the American president. That`s what they did in four years with every conversation with Trump, and the U.S. government let them say whatever they want, took a backseat and never contradicted them. They never put out our own take on the call.

But since we are no longer that sucker government because we are no longer being told as the American public we need to take the Kremlin`s word for what happened in the calls, since we now have a functioning government and functioning U.S. president who does not act like he is working for Russia, instead for the United States, we know from the our own government now that Biden pressed Putin. And it wasn`t just talk about mutual feelings and cooperation.

Biden pressed Putin on matters of concern including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 elections, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny, the main opposition leader in Russia.

Quote, President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. What a difference. This weekend huge numbers of Russians braved sub zero temperatures and a brutal police response to protest against Vladimir Putin and specifically Putin trying to assassinate Aleksey Navalny in that country, trying to assassinate him in a chemical weapons attack.

Their protested against Putin imprisoning Navalny when he returned to Russia after he recovered from that attempted assassination. This weekend, as thousands of Russians protested against Putin for that, there were reports that some of the protesters ahead of the demonstrations, they got together online and worked on their English together and specifically worked on the American pronunciation of their English language ability because they planned to tell the riot police in Russia going to arrest them that they were Americans, planned to claim to be Americans when they got arrested in the hope that is they would give the Kremlin pause how they would be treated once they were locked up.

Think about that. They claimed to be Americans to call the question with their government of how they should be treated. To raise the alarm internationally as to what Putin is doing to his own people, claiming to be Americans, try to put on American accents.

All around the world, even in Russia after the four bizarre years of Trump and Putin, pro-democracy protesters still think the United States will take their side. They still think that we are on their side. And maybe once again we are. Maybe we could be once again.

So, after a four-year interregnum, the State Department does daily briefings now again and after a four-year interregnum, the White House does daily briefings again now. Today, we got a briefing not only from the White House press secretary but from the Biden administration`s COVID response team, direct briefing from Jeff Zients, the COVID response coordinator for the Biden administration and also Dr. Fauci, and the new director of CDC and other officials.

The problem with this COVID briefing for the public today is that there was so much interest from so many journalists that they maxed out the number of attendees that could be a part of the remote briefings. There were technical difficulties. Presumably they will work those out, though, they will have to, because they said they are going to do the COVID briefings with the scientists answering on their own terms without the president breathing down their neck.

They are going to do the briefings on COVID for the public every other day now from here on out. Today`s Wednesday, they did the first one. Hopefully, they`ll work out the technical kinks because the next one is on Friday.

Today on climate, the president`s global climate envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry and President Biden`s domestic climate czar, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, they did a public press briefing too.

I mean, after the past four years, this is almost hard to get used to. It is as if they are using the power and the reach of the U.S. government to communicate with the public and the press about our nation`s policy challenges and what the government is trying to do about the challenges. Shocking.

They are saying what the government is trying to do and why they are trying to do it. They are putting out, at the podium the people in government working on these things so they can explain in their own terms what it is they are doing and why the government is approaching it this way and then those people are taking questions from the press about it, all the time, multiple times per day, already. I don`t know what to do with myself.

This was apparently absolutely impossible for the previous administration, because they were so busy, what? But we are a week into the new presidency and here we are. Keep up. Your government wants you to know what they are doing.

On climate, it`s interesting. We had, of course, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer here on Monday night for that big interview on Monday, and you may remember on climate that he said that he thinks that President Biden should declare a climate emergency to give himself greater leeway to do more executive action on climate.

Declaring an emergency, you might remember, is the means by which President Trump took money from the military to spend it on the weird bits of wall he built between us and Mexico. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is suggesting that President Biden should use similar authorities to declare an emergency on climate so he can get more done on climate. Schumer raised that for the first time in our interview here with him on Monday night. He has since reiterated it and he is calling on President Biden to do that. I don`t know if President Biden will do that.

But, today, Biden took a whole bunch of actions. He is stopping new leases for drilling oil and gas on federal lands. He`s going to make the federal fleet of vehicles, which is millions of vehicles, be electric vehicles, which is potentially a huge deal in terms of the market and the development of electric vehicles.

They are going to reinstate and strengthen Obama administration`s goals on emissions from cars and from power plants and from oil and gas wells leaking methane. It turns out to be a mammoth source of the worst kind of pollution from global warming. It`s something on which the Trump administration specifically gave the oil and gas industry a pass. Biden administration will not.

Biden is aiming at zero emissions, within 30 years. He stopped the permits for the Keystone pipeline for tar sands oil from Canada. He rejoined the Paris climate deal. It is a lot. We get to ask questions of the members of the administration who are assigned to implement these things.

On Capitol Hill, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has given a speech about climate every week for the past nine years, every week. Sheldon Whitehouse gives a speech on the Senate floor on which he urges that the climate is an emergency and that the U.S. government needs to do more and that we need to lead the world on innovating and adopting and investing and confronting the climate disaster. Every week for nine years, he has been giving that speech.

Today he gave one of those speeches. He says for the last time, because he says finally, after one week in office, the U.S. government is finally actually starting to do it and so now he wants to be part of helping them do it. He no longer feels like he needs to heckle them every week in the Senate telling them it`s time to wake up. We`re awake.

Joining us now is Coral Davenport. She writes today at "The New York Times" that the forces arrayed behind President Biden on this effort might surprise you, that in some cases, even carmakers and oil and gas companies are in favor of what Biden is trying to do. It is a fascinating point and an important part.

Coral Davenport is energy and environmental reporter for "The New York Times."

Ms. Davenport, thank you for making time to be here tonight.


MADDOW: So you`ve been on this beat for a long time. You have seen the ups and downs of the politics and the policy here. Overall, what is your overall sense right now of how ambitious President Biden is being? How high is he aiming?

DAVENPORT: Far higher than his former boss. Until about two weeks ago, the president who had done by far more than anything else on climate change and indeed the really put in place the first and only federal climate change policies in U.S. history was President Obama. On his first week out of the gate, the targets that President Biden has set on reducing carbon emissions are far more ambitious than the targets set by Obama.

Again, you mentioned his key target of zero carbon emissions, net zero carbon emissions by the U.S. economy in 2050. That`s 30 years. That means zero emissions in 30 years.

President Biden also set a goal, sort of a halfway goal of zero carbon emissions just from the electricity sector by 2035. That`s zero carbon emissions from electricity. No more coal fired power plants in 15 years. That is a wildly ambitious goal.

President Biden when he was campaigning put forth the most ambitious climate policy of any major presidential nominee. He`s also set a goal of spending $2 trillion just on climate policy.

So in terms of the goals that he has set, and also, the messaging that he`s doing, he`s done -- he did an executive order on the first day of office addressing over 100 environmental policies, putting in place dozens and dozens of the environmental policies that President Trump rolled back, sending such a really clear power fl intentional signal on day one and then a week later sort of ramping that up with additional signals but it is.

So, that`s a really big deal. It is very important to note, Rachel. As you know well, executive orders are not policy. Because he says he wants to do this, it doesn`t mean that the U.S. is going to reach these goals. It doesn`t mean certainly that the Congress is going to appropriate $2 trillion.

Those are really big hurdles. And it is not always clear, you know, sort of looking at the landscape right now despite sort of setting the ambitious goals and sending the signals I don`t see how all of these are necessarily going to get put in place.

MADDOW: One of the things that made me want to talk to you specifically today, coral, is the point you made with a colleague Lisa Friedman in "The Times" to adjust the -- you pointed out on a fact I think will be surprising to a lot of people is that it`s actually supported by a lot of oil and gas companies, even the crazy elements like the American Petroleum Institute, that the U.S. rejoin the Paris Accord.

You mentioned carmakers as being in favor of Biden reversing some of Trump`s anti-environmental actions, and in favor of some of the emissions standards, for example. I mean, I know that he`ll have a fight with industry and with the advocates of industry on Capitol Hill for a lot of this stuff but are our expectations on this out of date in terms of where some of the stakeholders come down on these proposals?

DAVENPORT: Yes. Rachel, you mentioned the automakers and that is something where if you make a comparison to what President Obama tried to do in the first couple of years of his administration and where the auto industry was and now fast forward over a decade later, it`s such a profound change. When Obama was going to put into place -- and it`s important to note, auto pollution is single largest source of climate warming greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

So, what the auto industry does, what the automaker and what kind of regulations the U.S. government puts on the industry are at the hear -- they`re the number one thing that the government can do in terms of fundamentally lowering greenhouse gas emissions. So, when Obama tried to do this, the automakers fought tooth and nail. They are absolutely powerfully opposed. Very clearly, we heard the message this is going to hurt jobs, this is going to hurt manufacturing jobs.

The reason he was ever able to put regulations in place, Obama was, was that the auto companies went bankrupt and the U.S. had -- the federal government had to bail them out. Once they were sort of under the thumb of that bailout, they were willing to come to the table, kind of suck it up and give in and kind of had to accept the regulations because that was part of the bigger picture.

As soon as President Trump came in office, he initiated rolling back those rules. We`re now kind of back at zero on auto emissions regulations but what is fascinating is this time around as Biden said on day one, he is getting ready to put a lot of those tough regulations, tough, tough regulations on fuel economy, on auto type emissions, five -- possibly even six major auto companies have signaled that they`re ready to come to the table. This is Ford, BMW, Volvo, Volkswagen, Honda, possibly even GM.

GM, the CEO of GM, Mary Barra, has said we`re willing to work with the Biden administration on moving forward on electric vehicles, five of these companies made a deal with the state of California to abide by tough fuel economy rules that are pretty close to what the Obama rules already were. So this is a profound turnaround. This is the auto companies coming in day one saying, we`re willing to work with you and noting to altruistic.

The market forces shifted so profoundly in the last decade. That`s where the market is going. Some of these companies are already ramping up their construction of electric vehicles anyway because the market is demanding that, the customers are demanding that, the technology transformed. You can get fuel economy, you can get the electric vehicles.

And what Biden is saying is, I`m going to put these regulations in but I`m also -- the government is here to help. We are prepared to spend billions of dollars to install electric vehicle charging stations all around the country, to take away sort of one of the biggest concerns of consumers.

So that is one example where an industry has really shifted very dramatically and I think will really change how this administration is able to move forward pretty quickly with putting tough new auto pollution rules in place. That doesn`t mean -- that`s a big deal, a big change. It doesn`t mean everything else goes as smoothly but it is a profound change.

MADDOW: Yeah. And it`s as you say could potentially be the single biggest impact policy in terms of our emissions for those practicalities to change, the politics will have to follow. This is going to be -- totally unchartered territory, fascinating to watch.

Coral Davenport, energy and environmental policy reporter for "The New York Times," really appreciate you being here tonight. This is fascinating stuff. Thank you.

DAVENPORT: Great to be with you. Thanks again.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight, including new charges against still more alleged right wing extremists, a very dramatic warning from the U.S. government about domestic violent extremism that`s timed to upcoming events. We`ve got more about that and much more.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: In 2018, "Huffington Post" set out to identify a guy who went online by the name of Ricky Vaughn. He had a pretty big social media following and used it to send out really rabidly anti-Semitic and Nazi and white nationalist memes. He was also one of the prolific amplifiers of Russian disinformation during that Trump-Clinton 2016 election when Russian intelligence was operating Twitter handles and various avatars online to try to accomplish their goals in the 2016 election. He could be counted on to amplify those Russian efforts.

Here`s what "The Huffington Post" described him in 2018. Quote: There was no mistaking Ricky Vaughn`s influence. He had tens of thousands of followers and his talent for blending far right propaganda with conservative messages on Twitter made him a key disseminators of extremist views to Republican voters and made him a central figure in the alt-right white supremacist movement that attached itself to Trump`s coattails.

"Huffington Post" unearthed that this online persona Ricky Vaughn was actually a real guy named Douglass Mackey. He was from Vermont, graduate of Vermont`s Middlebury College. He worked as an economist in New York City and lived on the Upper East Side.

When he was in his -- in 2016, in the late 20s at the time, he was basically at the top of the white nationalist influencer world online. Many thousands of followers and he was pushing out this mix of anti-Semitism, straight-up white nationalism, Russian propaganda about the United States and prevent support for Donald Trump. That was 2016, 2018.

Now, today, in 2021, few years down the road, this guy Ricky Vaughn aka Douglass Mackey has been federally charged with election interference, but not for the 2020 election. He`s been charged for his role in voter disinformation efforts in 2016.

Why are they just charging him now? In that criminal complaint unsealed today by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, prosecutors allege that he spread misinformation to deprive individuals, specifically minorities who supported Hillary Clinton of their constitutional right to vote.

Here`s what the prosecutors say. Quote: As the election approached, Mackey spread disinformation about the manner of which citizens could and should cast their votes during the election, conduct that constituted criminal infringement of the right to vote.

FBI affidavit that`s the basis of this criminal complaint describes what he did. Quote: On or before November 26th, the day before he sent a tweet suggesting the importance of limiting black turnout, Mackey tweeted a deceptive image, the picture featured an African-American woman in front of an African-Americans for the candidate sign. Again, in this case being Hillary Clinton.

The criminal complaint continues, quote, the deceptive image included the following text, the avoid the line, vote from home. Text Hillary to 59925. Vote for Hillary Clinton and be a part of history. And a way to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton, particularly if you`re a black person, is just by texting Hillary Clinton`s name to this number.

Prosecutors say in this criminal complaint today nearly 5,000 people actually texted the word Hillary to that phone number on or near Election Day, nearly 5,000 people. Because this guy, this anti-Semitic white nationalist Trump online influencer told them that`s the way you vote if you`re a pro-Hillary Clinton voter.

Douglass Mackey was arrested today in Florida. He`s charged with an election crime for spreading election and voter misinformation online. The FBI said that it amounted to nothing short of voter theft. So he`s going to face trial, repercussions for those allegations against him.

But the government today made other announcements about political extremism that are interesting today in their timing and in their implications. The U.S. attorney`s office in the Northern District of California today, along with the FBI, announced charges against a 43-year-old man from Napa County, California, charged him for possessing five pipe bombs. Investigators say they also seized at least 49 guns from his home.

Here`s the FBI affidavit in his charges. Quote, based on the examination and tests, the bomb technician concluded that the suspect constructed five improvised explosive devices that were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly.

He also found this. It was described as a white privilege card. See there. It says white privilege card trumps everything. And the card number is 45, 45, 45, 45, as in Donald Trump, the 45th president. Member since birth. Good through death.

It wasn`t -- this pipe bombs and the white privilege card and the 49 guns. What the FBI found regarding the man`s plans is also illuminating. From the criminal complaint, it says, quote, text messages recovered from his phone indicate his belief that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election and his intent to attack Democrats in places associated with Democrats in an effort to ensure Trump remained in office.

These text messages said things like I want to blow up a Democrat building bad. The Democrats need to pay. Let`s see what happens. If nothing does I`m going to war.

Democrats, Twitter, et cetera, I hope 45, meaning Trump, goes to war. If he doesn`t, I will.

Complaint says that his plans were to target California Governor Gavin Newsom, the offices of Twitter, the offices of Facebook. And other places that he saw as tech on Democratic targets.

He was arrested. He was being held at $5 million bail, awaiting a federal court appearance. He`s facing up to ten years in prison, right?

Homemade pipe bombs at the ready, ready to go to war for Trump, wanting to blow up Democrat buildings. Against this sort of daily backdrop of reports like this, about the president`s supporters, the Department of Homeland Security today released a national terrorism bulletin addressed to the public warning us the public about rising threats of domestic violent extremism.

It warns of a, quote, heightened threat environment across the United States which homeland security believes will persist in the weeks of the successful presidential inauguration. Quote, information suggests that some ideologically motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and presidential transition, as well as other perceive grievances fueled by false narratives could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.

It says domestic violent extremists may have been emboldened by the attack on the U.S. Capitol three weeks ago today and may be emboldened to target elected officials in government buildings. Homeland Security is urging the public to be prepared and to report suspicious activity or worrying behavior or statements. The FBI.

This is our country right now. And it has only been three weeks since the attack on the capitol. Republicans in Washington are making clear that they don`t want there to be any political consequences at all for the attack on the capitol. They did not want president Trump to go on trial in the Senate, so that for senators to decide whether the president should be convicted for the charge related to that attack for which he`s already been impeached.

That said, Republicans don`t get to decide what happens now. In the 2020 election, they were voted out of power, out of the White House, out of the Senate, and out of the House.

That leaves Democrats to balance and make the decisions. To balance looking back and what they are trying to get done moving forward. But also, to figure in the crucial factor of how regular people should be involved in this process, how their colleagues across the aisle can or can`t be counted on to participate in the project of governing.

We have got more about that including that crucial piece about what the rest of us outside of government ought to be doing about this crucial moment in American politics. That`s next.

Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indivisible began as an online guide to resisting the Trump agenda. Now, it`s given rise to a growing movement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A rally put on by Indivisible Baton Rouge held today at the capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, Indivisible Charlottesville is holding an emergency health care rally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is an explosive hour and 15 minute town hall in Nottoway County.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight hundred people packed in New York high school auditorium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just by watching the very end, you can tell how it all went.


MADDOW: In 2017, when the Republicans were in control of the White House and the house and the Senate, just as Democrats are now, Republicans said that they were going to use their new power in Washington first and foremost to kill the Affordable Care Act, to kill Obamacare. They were going to throw millions of people off the health insurance.

This is a very unpopular idea nationwide but they thought the base loved it, they promised to do it. They had full of government starting in 2017. Nobody had a reason to believe they didn`t have the votes to do what they said they were going to do.

Progressive organizers in 2017 responded among other things by pressing members of Congress to hold town halls with their constituents. When that proposal from Republicans was on the table, at those town halls, members of Congress heard from all the reasons that was a terrible idea. Grassroots mobilizations from groups like Indivisible were key to stopping many of the Trump administration`s policy priorities from becoming law over the last four years.

Public interest groups like Indivisible have basically pushed for a sort of progressive discipline coming to influencing Congress. And it was really effective from 2017 to 2021. Now that Democrats control the White House and the House and the Senate, albeit by razor thin majorities, what has that sort of progressive discipline do in this environment and how much of an impact can they have on whether the Biden administration and the Democrats in Congress are actually able to get stuff passed?

Joining us now is Ezra Levin. He`s co-founder of Indivisible.

Ezra, it`s really good to see you here tonight. Thanks for making time.


MADDOW: So, we talked a lot over the past four years about how even with Democrats completely out of power, if members of the public were sort of organized and disciplined and thoughtful about how they tried to influence their own members of Congress, Democrats and Republican, that it could have a really big impact on the legislative process and I think the jury is in and the effect of groups like yours was significant in terms of stopping the Republicans from doing some of their most conservative things and helping Democrats get some stuff done.

How do you approach -- how are you approaching now this very new environment in Washington with Biden in the White House and Pelosi and Schumer in control on Capitol Hill?

LEVIN: Oh, gosh, Rachel, I`m excited now. We don`t have to just be fighting against the bad stuff happening for four years. We have this incredible opportunity. We can get stuff done.

But the basic tool available to us is this same tool that was available to us, grassroots folks across the country, in 2017. That is, constituent power. That means that if you are organizing locally you are focused on your two senators and your one representative and saying, hey, I got you into office. I`m holding you accountable. I would like to see you gets things.

And the anecdote I think of is 1933, FDR coming into officer. He`s got a majority in the House, in the Senate, a mandate for change and A. Randolph says, I want you to get this thing down, and FDR says, you know, I agree. Now go out and make me do it.

The reason why we will get things done in this era is not because we won in November or won the Georgia elections. That`s not what creates change. The legacy of this era is determined by the grassroots movement that pushed the elected officials to make that change.

MADDOW: Ezra, in terms of how the Democrats are setting up their priorities, obviously, you know, they`re working on getting Biden`s nominees in place. They`re working on COVID relief, we saw this very ambitious climate rollout to just talking with "The New York Times" reporter how almost unbelievably ambitious it is compared to all previous presidents, you know, the first bill in the Senate, and the first bill in the House are democracy reforms in term of protecting representative democracy.

How are you guys prioritizing what you think should be done and done first?

LEVIN: Yeah. So, the name of the game is legislation. Legislation is what will define the era. So, I love that the first bill in the House, HR-1 is the For the People Act. I love that the first bill in the Senate is the For the People Act. That is a great first step.

They`re not law yet though, right? We`ve got to pass HR-1 through the House. We`ve got to pass D.C. statehood through the House. We`ve got to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act through the House. Then, it`s going to go through the Senate, and they got to get it done. That is Indivisible`s number one priority.

I think we all recognize we started in response to Trump. We picked ourselves up off the floor and we got to organizing to push back against the horrific Trump policies that were coming.

But we also understand that Trump is a symptom. He is not the cause of the problems with our democracy, and if we`re going to solve those problems, we`ve got to address the problems that allowed him to arise. And I think that`s what things like HR-1, the For the People Act, D.C. statehood, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act do.

I think it`s a necessary step -- it`s not sufficient, but it`s a necessary step.

MADDOW: Ezra Levin, the co-founder of Indivisible, I have a feeling we`re going to be talking a lot over the next few weeks as we see this first big push by the new administration and the new Congress. Ezra, thanks for being here tonight.

LEVIN: Can`t wait to talk more, Rachel, thanks.

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


MADDOW: Here`s an update on something that I will warn you we are not going to leave alone until we figure it out. We are still now waiting on word as to what the new administration is going to do about kids who got taken away from their parents by the Trump administration and who still haven`t been returned. It`s more than 600 kids in that situation.

Now, of course there is a promise from President Biden that he will figure out how to get those kids back with their families. But one week into the new administration, we still haven`t heard what they`re going to do and how they`re going to approach it.

That said, an unexpected and interesting development in this story today. Whatever it is they`re going to do on this front, we know First Lady Jill Biden is going involved in it. She apparently told a group of activist she met with this week that her chief of staff, her first lady chief of staff is going to be working directly on the reunification of the families. And CNN reports today that the first lady herself is going to be giving input to the task force that they`re going to set up to get this done.

That will at least give whatever they do high visibility to have the first lady involved in it. But of course we don`t know what they`re going to do. We still need to know what the plan is. And we intend to find out.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: Do you believe it has been one week since the inauguration? Time has no meaning.

That does it for us tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow night.


Good evening, Lawrence.