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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/5/22

Guests: Chuck Schumer


Attorney General Merrick Garland based his speech today continues to believe that the majority of Americans still support the principle that all people should be treated fairly under the law including Donald Trump, and that the majority will reject political violence and trust the judicial system. Interview with Senate Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer.


GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: They`re purposeful. They`re building from the ground up, which it is way we make these cases.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: And to Zoe`s point, we`ll see that trial and we`ll be looking ahead to that, we`ll have you back on to talk about that as we get closer.

Zoe Tillman and Glenn Kirchner, thank you both.

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 appreciated.

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

Senator Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats, majority leader of the United States Senate, is going to be here -- is our guest live in just a moment, very much looking forward to speaking with him since once again and as usual now, he is the man at the center of the question of what can or cannot be done in Washington, what the Biden administration can or cannot get passed. We`ll be speaking with Senator Schumer live in just a moment.

Today, of course, is January 5th. A year ago today, in the great state of Georgia, Georgia voters elected two new U.S. senators, Democrat Jon Ossoff and Democrat Raphael Warnock. There were runoff elections for both of Georgia`s U.S. Senate seats one year ago today and the Democrats won both of those races.

Now, Georgia electing two Democrats to their two U.S. Senate seats. That`s how we got Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. That`s what flipped control of the U.S. Senate from Republican control to Democratic control. That`s what made it possible for the Biden administration in its first year to enact all the legislation they`ve passed in the past year, including COVID relief and the big infrastructure bill and all the rest of it, not to mention confirming President Biden`s cabinet, confirming judges, all of it. All of that made possible by what happened a year ago today when those Senate elections happened.

That said, it wouldn`t be until a year ago tomorrow, it wouldn`t be until January 6th that the election results in Georgia actually became clear. But when they did become clear, I mean, it was a really big deal. It was a huge swing of the political pendulum in this question, a massively consequential thing in terms of what the government and the Biden administration would actually be able to do.

Of course, when those Georgia Senate election results became clear on January 6th last year, that news was overshadowed by something else that was going on at that moment at the U.S. capitol.

Here is an interesting thing, though, now looking back at it. As we were heading into those U.S. Senate elections in Georgia a year ago today, a weird thing happened in the state of Georgia that was unexplained at the time and for a long time. And that was that the U.S. attorney there, the top federal prosecutor there, suddenly and unexpectedly resigned.

Now, this is a man who had been a Republican state legislator in Georgia. He was a Trump appointee serving as U.S. attorney. He was not a particularly high profile guy, certainly not a controversial guy. But this week last year, before the January 6th attack when a lot of people resigned, and even before the January 5th Senate elections in Georgia, that U.S. attorney in Georgia resigned effective immediately, with really no explanation of why.

It was "Talking Points Memo" that was first to report on January 4th that he had unexpectedly quit. This was the headline that day in "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution": U.S. attorney for North Georgia abruptly resigns due town foreseen circumstances.

Through reporting in "The Wall Street Journal" and elsewhere since, through Bjay Pak`s sworn testimony to the Senate and its investigation of how Trump used the Justice Department in part of their plot to stay in power, in the year since Bjay Pak`s surprise resignation as U.S. attorney in Georgia, we have learned a little bit about what happened to cause that surprise resignation.

But now, one year on, Mr. Pak has done a lengthy interview for the first time with "The Atlanta Journal Constitution." Here`s some of that interview. Quote: It was January 6th, a year ago and Bjay Pak was walking with his daughters at Stone Mountain. Two days earlier, January 4th, he had resigned his post as U.S. attorney in northern Georgia, because Donald Trump and his flunkies were miffed that Mr. Pak wasn`t digging up what wasn`t there, widespread fraud in Georgia`s 2020 presidential election.

Mr. Pak figured fresh air and family time would help temper the unrelenting insanity that had been his existence for weeks. While walking, Mr. Pak on got a call telling him the U.S. Capitol was under siege. Minutes later, a stranger approached him saying, quote, aren`t you Bjay Pak? Mr. Pak was masked at the time because of COVID, he wasn`t carrying his pistol that day. He stood in front of his daughters, concerned who this might be.

In previous weeks, election workers in Georgia had been followed home from work and threatened from home.


Bjay Pak`s face had often been seen on TV. Was this some ardent person angry that Bjay Pak was not ferreting out supposed fraud? No, the man simply thanked him for his service.

Bjay Pak in his first lengthy interview since resigning a year says that he had never been a fearful fellow, quote, but I figured, if they`re storming the Capitol, Lord knows what people will do. Mr. Pak testified in August before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the atmosphere surrounding the White House at the time and about the unrelenting pressure from Trump`s team.

Pak recalled telling the acting deputy attorney general at the time, quote, that seems -- that`s very -- that`s crazy, that`s just highly crazy. The deputy attorney general agreed, saying it was bat shoot crazy. I don`t think he said bat shoot. But it`s a family paper.

What was so crazy? Well, it was during a phone call, December 30th or 31st, 2020, when the deputy attorney general told Bjay Pak that a Trump loyalist in the Justice Department wanted to enlist DOJ`s help to overthrow the election in Georgia. The official wanted to send a letter to Georgia`s legislators urging them to throw out the presidential electors and consider installing a new slate, citing significant concerns about the election. Among those significant concerns were allegations of fraud that had already been debunked like the so-called suitcases of votes found in election night in Fulton County, Georgia. Bjay Pak knew that state officials and the FBI had shot down those allegations of fraud.

In fact, as U.S. attorney, he knew of no confirmed fraud in the state. At that moment, Bjay Pak told me, quote, excuse me, at that moment, Bjay Pak told -- meaning the columnist writing this article -- the scary reality of the situation sank in. Quote, one thing I wasn`t aware of until then was how far along they were with this plan and how far they were trying to go. Bjay Pak resigned because he was basically forced to, because the plan from the Trump White House, from president Trump himself, was to use fake, made- up fraud claims in Georgia that Bjay Pak had investigated and knew were false. The plan was to use those false claims as a pretext to justify having Georgia recall its electors and declare that Trump had won that state instead.

One year ago in Georgia, as Georgia voters went to the polls in those two crucial U.S. Senate races, the day before the U.S. Capitol attack, we know now that`s what was happening behind the scenes in Georgia, precipitating, among other things, the dramatic and at that time unexplained resignation of that state`s U.S. attorney.

Here`s the question, though. How illegal was all that? Again, this was before the January 6th attack. How illegal was that other part of it, separate and apart from the violent attack on the U.S. capitol January 6th? I mean, there is a criminal investigation under way by state prosecutors in Georgia, investigating whether president Trump broke Georgia state law when he called Georgia election officials, when he told the secretary of state to find enough votes in Georgia to declare that Trump was the winner.

There`s some recent sort of murky public reporting about a lower level Georgia election worker being pressured by people connected to the Trump campaign, pressured that she needed to falsely confess that she had carried out fraud in Georgia or else she would find herself and her family in danger. Threatening and intimidating election officials, coercing them, to try to get them to falsify the election results or pervert the administration of the election, that is a crime under Georgia state law. We know there is a Georgia state criminal investigation that`s been underway in that state in Fulton County, for months now.

I should note that threatening and intimidating election officials to try to get them to falsify election results isn`t just a state crime in Georgia. It`s a crime everywhere. It`s a federal crime. But we don`t know about any federal investigation into the actions the former President Trump and the Trump campaign`s behavior along those lines in Georgia. Maybe there is one but we don`t know about it if there is.

What about what Bjay Pak got roped into, the reason he was forced to resign? Which he`s now describing, both in his Senate testimony and to the press. What about this effort to use false claims of voter fraud as a pretextual justification for Republican legislatures declaring that the vote in that state didn`t count and they were going to invent new election results of their own and say that Trump won? Is that a crime? Is that criminal? It`s a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government for sure. Is that a crime?

It`s a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government for sure. Is that a crime? Does anybody get prosecuted for trying that? And I mean this literally, regardless of what happened a year ago tomorrow at the U.S. Capitol.


Had there not been violence at the U.S. Capitol on that one day, on January 6th, as part of this plan, would the rest of the plan have been okay? You know, have fun throwing out the election results, you guys, better luck next time, get more ducks in a row next time, make sure there aren`t any guys like Bjay Pak around next time who think this is bull bleep. You`ll need guys that will just go along, so make sure you get that in order next time, because feel free to try again. Is that how we`re going to handle what happened in our country last year?

Peter Navarro, Trump adviser, who was so desperate for attention that it hurts my mouth to say his name, this guy did an interview with my colleague Ari Melber here on MSNBC last night. He has done recent interviews along the same lines with "The Daily Beast" and also with "The Rolling Stone." He`s also written a ridiculous new book.

In all those interviews and his new book he claims credit for all the aspects of the coup they were trying to pull off except for the violence on January 6th. He says it was him and Steve Bannon and President Trump and they had had plan to hype these gossamer, fantastical claims of supposed fraud in order to create a justification for Republican state legislatures to throw out the vote in those states and just proclaim Trump the winner instead.

That was what they needed Mike Pence to effectuate for them on January 6th. Don`t count the electoral votes as they have been submitted by the states. Instead say you won`t count them or throw them out or send it back to the states somehow so we can get different electors.

Mr. Navarro is publicly making the rounds, admitting to this, because, he says, the violence at the Capitol January 6th wasn`t part of that plan. That was a little blooper, that was a little messy over boil on the stove that they didn`t intend. He`s making the public rounds now saying the coup attempt to throw out the election results and thereby keep Trump in power, it was for real. He says it involved a hundred Republican senators and members of Congress and it absolutely would have worked if it weren`t for that pesky riot.

That was such a distraction from their real effort to overthrow the government of the United States. Is he right? Is everything except the breaking windows and trashing congressional offices and beating up cops, is everything except that cool? Try again, welcome to it, that was fine?

Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland gave his much-anticipated speech on what the Justice Department has done and is doing in response to the Trump- led attack on the election this time last year. Mr. Garland today said we at the Department of Justice will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy. We will defend our Democratic institutions from attack. We will protect those who serve the public from violence and threats of violence. We will protect the cornerstone of our democracy: the right of every eligible citizen to cast a vote that counts.

And that is great to hear. On that point about threats of violence to public officials, he actually spent a lot of his speech, about half his speech, talking about threats of violence toward everyone, from federal judges to airplane flight crews to journalists to election workers, to other kinds of elected officials. It was good to hear him give that so much attention.

It is less good that he couldn`t in his speech today point to much of anything the Justice Department is actually doing to stop those violent threats. It`s true that lots of people who have threatened senators and members of Congress have gotten in trouble with the law for that. But as we have reported here over the past few weeks and months, as "Reuters" has reported aggressively over the last few months, people like low level election workers and low level officials who have been threatened even in the most egregious terms, they`re not getting nearly enough help from law enforcement at the local level, the state level, or at the federal level.

So the talk about how corrosive and dangerous those threats are today from the attorney general, that was nice as a sort of consciousness-raising exercise about those threats being bad. But calling them bad isn`t stopping them and isn`t prosecuting the people who are issuing those threats. I mean, tell it to the local election officials who are being called up and told how they and their families are going to be murdered, only to have law enforcement shrug it off.

Talking about that being bad is not the same thing as the Justice Department stepping up and making sure that people who issue those threats are caught and punished for it. And that hasn`t happened nearly enough.

Beyond the lip service on the threats issue, though, what was most anticipated from Attorney General Garland today was his explication of why it is so far only low level people who showed up at the U.S. Capitol at Trump`s urging on January 6th, why it is that only those low level people have been charged, while no one who actually ran the plan, no one who actually organized the plot of which the January 6th attack was a part, none of those folks has felt any kind of heat from law enforcement at all.


Now, to his credit, in my opinion, the attorney general answered that question today in a sort of helpful expository way, in a way that involved a helpful explanation for us, the public, about how complex prosecutions work. Because we`re not lawyers, no matter how many, you know, legal procedurals you watch or read, it`s good to hear for real about how these things work. It`s good to have it explained, how simpler crimes, lower level crimes, the easier stuff to prosecute, on purpose gets prosecuted first because that not only frees up resources to devote to more complex and serious crimes, it can also help you secure convictions against people who committed more serious and perhaps more complex or hard to discern crimes.

That`s a real dynamic in criminal prosecution, and I -- again, to his credit, I think, Attorney General Garland today explained that very clearly and very well.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In the first months of the investigation, approximately 145 defendants pled guilty to misdemeanors, mostly defendants who did not cause injury or damage. Such pleas reflect the facts of those cases and the defendants` acceptance of responsibility and they help conserve judicial and prosecutorial resources so attention can be focused on the more serious perpetrators.

In complex cases, initial charges are often less severe than later charged offences. This is purposeful, as investigators methodically collect and sift through more evidence. We build investigations by laying a foundation. We resolve more straightforward cases first because they provide the evidentiary foundation for more complex cases.

Investigating the more overt crimes generates linkages to less overt ones, over actors and the evidence they provide can lead us to others who may also have been involved. And that evidence can serve as the foundation for further investigative leads and techniques.

In circumstances like those of January 6th, a full accounting does not suddenly materialize, to ensure that all those criminally responsible are held accountable, we must collect the evidence. We follow the physical evidence. We follow the digital evidence. We follow the money.

But most important, we follow the facts, not an agenda or an assumption. The facts tell us where to go next.


MADDOW: And where do the facts of this particular set of crimes tell you to go next?

Attorney Merrick Garland today explaining that 150 misdemeanor cases have already been resolved related to people who took part in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Those have already been resolved with defendants pleading guilty. He said 17 felony defendants are already scheduled for trial. More than 300 other people today stand indicted on felony charges.

He`s laying all that out, as you just heard there, to make the case that small fry defendants always go first, that`s on purpose. People who do less overtly obvious crimes come first because the more easily prosecuted stuff often provides evidence you can use in other cases. Helpful.

But still, the basic question remains, is he only talking about crimes that were physically committed at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and dinner time that day a year ago tomorrow?

Or does this investigation include -- is there a criminal investigation into those who hatched the overall plot, not the plot to break windows and smear poop on the walls, the plot to stop the electoral count and keep Trump in power because that`s what all the January 6th folks were doing in Washington. They believed they were part of a larger plot, and indeed they were.

And lots of people are happily confessing now to having been part of that larger plot or witnessing it when the president tried to enlist them to do it. What Peter Navarro is happily confessing to live on MSNBC on a Tuesday night, what Trump and his colleagues did to try to get the mob to D.C. on January 6th in the if I were, because January 6th was the counting of the electoral votes and they needed to stop that count so the electors could be switched in the states, which was the rest of the plan.

What about that rest of the plan? Was that cool?

Getting Republican state legislatures whatever gossamer or false pretext they needed to throw out election results and instead replace them with, we`re just going to say Trump won, because that was a real plan, and we know a lot more about that plan today than we did a year ago.


Did Attorney General Merrick Garland today let the country know if that other part of it was okay? We know they`re prosecuting people who broke windows and did bad stuff in the capitol. Did he let the country know today whether the rest of it, the rest of the plot to overthrow the U.S. government, was all right and anybody who did that is free to try again? And I am phrasing this as a question because I honestly don`t know.

What do you take away from how he said this today?


GARLAND: As judges have sentenced the first defendants convicted of assaults and related violent conduct against officers, we have seen significant sentences that reflect the seriousness of those offences, both in terms of the injuries they caused and the serious risk they posed to our democratic institutions. The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last. The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.


MADDOW: The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy -- otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. People who were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on the Capitol, January 6th? Or does he mean people who were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy as in the assault on the election and its results, the effort to falsify those results and thereby seize power? I don`t know. I don`t know what he means.

Tonight at "The New Yorker," veteran journalist David Rohde, who has seen some things in his time, he writes the decision whether or not to prosecute the former President Donald Trump is becoming the defining issue of Attorney General Merrick Garland`s tenure at the Justice Department. Quote: In hindsight, he writes, Donald Trump`s intentions could not appear clearer. During the final months in the 2020 presidential race, he systemically conducted a disinformation campaign that convinced many supporters that the election would be stolen by Democrats. After losing, he doubled down on those false claims and he repeatedly pressured state election officials, Justice Department prosecutors, federal and state judges, members of Congress and the vice president to overturn the results.

After those efforts failed, he appeared at a rally in Washington where he urged tens of thousands of supporters to stop Congress from certifying his defeat. For hours as they stormed the Capitol, he failed to act. Those steps, the leaders of the congressional committee investigating the attack contend, seemingly constitute a crime.

At the Justice Department, Merrick Garland, a former federal judge, has made restoring public faith in the political neutrality of the Justice Department his goal. Despite Garland`s attempts to divorce the Justice Department from politically charged prosecutions, it is increasingly clear that investigating Trump is becoming the defining issue of his tenure, the continued defiance of Trump and his allies is forcing Garland to make a decision faced by none of his predecessors, whether to prosecute a former president who tried to subvert and election and appears to do so, again.

Attorney General Garland based his speech today continues to believe that the majority of Americans still support the principle that all people should be treated fairly under the law including Donald Trump, and that the majority will reject political violence and trust the judicial system. At the moment, that belief for Garland and all Americans is an enormous political gamble.

David Rohde writing today at "The New Yorker."

Joining us now is David Rohde, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, executive editor at

Mr. Rohde, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks for making time to be here tonight.

ROHDE: Thank you for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: Tell me about this bold contention that you`re making, that the question of whether or not to prosecute Trump is the defining issue of Garland`s tenure. Why do you see it that way?

ROHDE: I think, and you`ve done a remarkable job of laying this out, I think it`s the most important issue of Merrick Garland`s career, of his life. The challenge throughout the Trump years has been a failure of imagination to look at the broad pattern of what he does, to look at our current laws and see do they stop this sort of behavior.

And, you know, particularly if Democrats lose the House this fall, the January 6th committee will go away, Republicans will get rid of it, and it will come down to Merrick Garland to decide, you know, whether everything you`ve talked about, BJay Pak, harassing officials in Georgia, the months before the election itself of laying the groundwork of, you know, making his followers believe that this was going to be a stolen election.


So it`s a months-long effort. And, you know, will the federal government, will federal law enforcement, will Merrick Garland hold Trump accountable for it? And it`s really -- Garland is the last chance, I think, for that to happen.

MADDOW: David, I know you`ve done some reporting on the sort of interplay between that decision at the Justice Department and this very energetic investigation that`s happening in Congress, the select committee in Congress has interviewed hundreds of witnesses, they`ve got millions of pages of documents, they`re working tonight, taking depositions from another former Trump official right now as we speak.

Is there an interplay between that decision-making process at the Justice Department and Attorney General Garland`s office and what`s happening with that investigation in congress?

ROHDE: I think there is. It`s a huge team. The committee has 40 people headed by two former prosecutors. And I think they`re trying to pressure Garland to act.

I think it was excellent that he spoke today. He needs to speak out more. He needs to be sort of explaining how federal law enforcement works, how they`re investigating this case.

And I worry that he is -- and he`s totally sincere. He believes in the judicial system. Most Americans don`t. So I think he needs to be a more present, more public attorney general who is talking, you know, when appropriate more openly about this investigation.

MADDOW: David Rohde, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, executive editor at -- David, thank you for this thoughtful, well-reported piece today. Thanks for being with us tonight.

ROHDE: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. As I mentioned, we`ve got the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Democrats, joining us live here right after the break.

Stay with us.




GARLAND: There has been a dramatic increase in legislative enactments that make it harder for millions of eligible voters to vote and to elect representatives of their own choosing. Those enactments range from practices and procedures that make voting more difficult to redistricting maps drawn to disadvantage both minorities and citizens of opposing political parties, to abnormal post-election audits that put the integrity of the voting process at risk, to changes in voting administration meant to diminish the authority of locally elected or not partisan election administrators.

Some have even suggested permitting state legislators to set aside the choice of the voters themselves. Many of those enactments have been justified by unfounded claims of material vote fraud in the 2020 election.


MADDOW: Unfounded claims of vote fraud. Attorney General Merrick Garland today saying that the new Republican attacks on voting rights in states are being justified on the same basis as the efforts to overthrow the election results a year ago tomorrow.

Attorney General Garland said today that the department of justice will do what they can to protect voting rights but he said emphatically Congress must act.

Well, here is the man who knows more than anybody else whether that may be possible. Senate Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer joins us live now.

Senator Schumer, it`s a really pleasure real pleasure to have you back on tonight. Thank you so much.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Good evening, Rachel. Good to be back on.

MADDOW: Let me ask you, we have a lot to talk about. But let me ask you first about those remarks today from Attorney General Garland. I wanted to just get your response to what Attorney General Garland said about the investigation into the crimes that culminated on January 6th at the Capitol and what he said about Congress` need to act on voting rights.

SCHUMER: Well, first, in terms of the invasion of the Capitol, that was one of the darkest moments in American history. It was an attempt to actually change the government illegitimately which we don`t see in a democracy, using violence. And I just hope they throw the book at these people.

I don`t know the specific cases. I don`t know how the exact law applies to each case. But when I read sometimes that they`ve gotten probation or a short period of time in jail, it bothers me a great deal.

So I believe the Justice Department is ramping it up, and they`re looking at the perpetrators who led the charges and I hope they will do everything they can to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

About the second question, he`s absolutely right, we can prosecute these people, but make no mistake about it, January 6th was not a one-off. It stemmed from the big lie perpetrated by Donald Trump. This invasion of the Capitol didn`t just some sue generis. He urged people to march on the Capitol, many who went to the capitol believed he was urging violence.

But the same big lie that created January 6th by Donald Trump is also importune legislatures, Republican legislatures throughout the country, to dramatically curb the right to vote, not just everybody`s right to vote but specifically people who tend to vote Democrats, whether poor people, people in cities, people on campuses.

So, this is a -- this is a dagger aimed at the heart of our democracy. And the two, January 6th and what`s going on in the legislatures, are directly related and all stem from Donald Trump`s big lie.


The only way to curb this section perpetuation of the big lie is for Congress to act. He`s absolutely right.

MADDOW: Because of that connection between the pretext for the January 6th attack and the pretext for these voting rights restrictions that you just described, that the attorney general described today, I wonder what you make of the fact that a number of Republican senators voted to impeach Donald Trump for what happened on January 6th, voted to impeach him for his role in inciting that attack on the Capitol and that effort to overthrow the election, and yet even those senators will not vote to protect voting rights against attacks that are undergirded by the same claims.

What -- if these things are in fact connected, why are Republicans who recognize one side of that not recognizing the other?

SCHUMER: Well, we`re in a different Republican Party than we used to be. You know, voting rights, Rachel, used to be very bipartisan. Ronald Reagan supported extension of the Voting Rights Act. George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush supported it. When it used to come up in the Congress, it got large margins.

What`s happened is this is a new Republican Party. This is a fact we`re impressing on all of our colleagues, all 50 of our colleagues. It`s a different Republican Party, run by Donald Trump. And the fidelity to election, the fidelity to democracy, is no longer there.

Donald Trump the other day endorsed Orban. This man is a dictator who is undoing whatever democracy Hungary had. And I believe his beliefs are similar. It`s his own ego, he wants to just dominate, and he doesn`t care about our democracy, our history, about the rights of people to vote.

And by the way, and so that is spread, all the Republicans, almost every single one of them, all seven who voted to impeach him, are no longer bucking Donald Trump. They have all given up. Some of them have quit, five Republicans aren`t running again and my understanding is a good number of them quit because they didn`t want to serve under Donald Trump. But no one, no one on that side of the aisle seems to be bucking him on this issue and it`s a tragedy.

MADDOW: One of the things that has emerged in the last few days is that the Republican leader, Mr. McConnell, has reportedly suggested that he is open to one small piece of the package of reforms and the package of protections that you and your colleagues and the Biden administration support in terms of protecting voting rights, that he is potentially open to supporting reforms to the Electoral Count Act to try to prevent the limited procedural shenanigans that gave them their theory of the case of why the attack happened on January 6th.

I just wanted to get your reaction to that apparent movement from Senator McConnell just on that one piece of reforms and protection you`ve been pushing for.

SCHUMER: Let me say this. I think that what they`re trying to do is try to substitute that for the very needed reforms that we have urged, undoing what the state legislatures are doing throughout the country. And so it`s sort of like saying, well, I`m going to rig the game, but then I`ll make sure you count the score accurately. What the hell is the point if you rig the game to count the score accurately? That`s point number one.

Point number two is, it doesn`t deal with the House or Senate. The Electoral College only elects the president. So it has nothing to do with any elections in the House and Senate which they`re trying to rig and to jaundice.

And third, what they`re trying to do is accomplish things in a different way. Donald Trump wanted Pence to rig the election. This law might say, well, let`s let the state legislatures rig the election. Neither is good.

So I think this is a fake. I think it`s a way to try and get the two senators that we have who are not on board to go for something that won`t change the horrible, voracious change in the balance of power that will allow elections to slant things in the directions of Republicans in a dramatic way, in an unfair way, in an un-small-"d"-democratic way. I`m opposed to it.

I`m opposed to allowing that to be the subject of this conversation. It`s no substitute for what we have to do.

MADDOW: In terms of what you have to do, you`ve put a specific timeline on this now. You`ve said by the Martin Luther King holiday, by a week from Monday, you want to vote on potentially changing the Senate rules or carving out something to pass the voting rights reforms that you support.

Tell me about the decision to put that specific outline out there, to create that expectation about when this is going to happen, tell me about your confidence that you`re going to be able to get the vote that you want.


SCHUMER: Well, first, we`re running out of time. What these legislatures have done in 2021 and are now beginning to do in 2022, if you wait much longer, you won`t be able to undo them in time for the 2022 elections. Even if the legislation says what they did is wrong, the courts may say it`s too close to the primary season, we can`t change it. So we have to move quickly.

But second, requiring a vote on both the rules changes and on the actual legislation, Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, says to each of my 50 senators, you are going to have to make a decision. The spotlight of history is on you.

Are you going to side with the forces that are dramatically undoing our elections, preventing the right to vote, a giant step backward, certainly in the last 50 years, maybe even longer, in terms of our democracy, or are you going to do the right thing?

And I think when the spotlight of history and the weight of history is on the shoulders of all 50 members, the hope is that they do the right thing. Is there a guarantee? No. But we are going to have to have a vote. Have to. And we will.

MADDOW: Majority leader in the United States Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Schumer, thank you for joining us tonight. I know it`s a somber night in the Capitol ahead of tomorrow`s anniversary of the attack. Thank you for being with us and sharing some of the night with us.

SCHUMER: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to come here tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: Ahead of today`s speech by Attorney General Merrick Garland, former federal prosecutor and lead prosecutor in Trump`s first impeachment Daniel Goldman, he said this online. He said, quote, there is no point in making this speech if it is just repeating platitudes. If DOJ is investigating the coup to overturn the election, the attorney general can and should confirm that. This is bigger than just January 6th.

Well, on that point, this was the key quote from the attorney general`s speech today which the Justice Department released to reporters ahead of the speech. They wanted to make sure everybody got this down and got it correct. He said, quote, the Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, I do not know if that means that the people who planned the overthrow of the government are facing investigation from the Justice Department or not. Was that statement something substantive from the attorney general today? Or was that the kind of platitude that Daniel Goldman was warning against?

Joining us now is former assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Goldman.

Dan, it`s nice to see, thanks for being here.


MADDOW: Did you learn anything from the attorney general today or was this platitudinous?

GOLDMAN: I think he`s flipped the baby. It was far more than platitudes but we did not get the confirmation that some of us have been wondering about, about whether or not he is investigating the attempted coup, the attempt to overturn the election. And I think it`s really important to sort of parse this very carefully. I think we come out of this speech today with a very firm understanding that Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice will get to the very bottom of what occurred on January 6th.

I don`t think there`s any question about it. The work that the department has done on the actual invasion of the Capitol is truly remarkable, the speed at which they`re going and all of the work that they`ve put in. And they should be commended for that. And I think they will, as he pointed out today, will slowly start to work their way up to organizers, to others who were conspiring, as he put it, to obstruct the counting of the Electoral College, which is in and of itself a separate federal crime.

However, the open question, which you so correctly pointed to at the top of the show, is, separate and apart from January of 6th, is there a Department of Justice investigation into efforts by a number of people that has been publicly reported to overturn the election, with January 6th being perhaps the culmination, perhaps the last gasp attempt, but certainly not the center of the scheme.

And I don`t necessarily know, like you, whether or not when he refers to other crimes or other criminal acts, as in assault on our democracy, I don`t have the exact language, otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy, it`s hard to figure out whether she`s contextually just talking about January 6th or whether he is talking about the lead-up to January 6th.

But this speech was unusual. It is not normal for an attorney general to schedule a speech several days in advance in order to address the huge elephant in the room that we`ve all come to understand now. And so, I`m going to give the benefit of the doubt to him and certainly he understands all of the evidence that`s out there. And I am going to assume that when he is talking about an assault on our democracy, he is not narrowly focusing it on January 6th but is instead focusing it on the much larger conspiracy to try to overturn the election which is a federal crime.

MADDOW: Practically speaking, though, Dan, in all your years in SDNY and all your years as a federal prosecutor, when you talk about the strategy of moving from the small fries to the organizers, which you just described, which the attorney general described in I thought very helpful detail today, practically, does that make sense if they are looking at the organizers of the overall coup effort, right?


I mean, the radicalized Americans who turned up at the Capitol on January 6th, they are not necessarily connections, people who had connections to the Trump White House or to top Trump allies. How does prosecuting them get you to the people who organized the whole effort?

GOLDMAN: Again, we have to seven separate the two issues. That is exactly how you get to the organizers of the January 6th events, the riot, the insurrection, the rally, all of that. That is exactly how you would want to work your way up from the people who invaded the Capitol and were walking around as if it were a party to those who were beating the cops, to those funding it and organizing it.

But it doesn`t get you to the broader question that happened over the months before about whether there was a criminal conspiracy to try to overturn the election. That is, frankly, what the January 6th Committee is doing, and an odd, perverse turn of events where the house committee designed to figure out what happened on January 6th is spending a lot of time figuring out what happened in the lead up to January 6th and the Department of Justice, which is charged with preserving the safety of our elections, among other laws, seems at this point and to this point to be narrowly focused on January 6th itself.

But we just don`t know. And, hopefully, what we got today is an indication that they are working their way through it. It`s not the best way to investigate a crime, is to let things lie and circle back to it later because memories fade, evidence gets destroyed, stories can be lined up.

But, you know, based on what that statement was today that we just discussed, Rachel, I am hopeful that he will and the Department of Justice will focus on the issues leading up to January 6th, not just that day.

MADDOW: Former Federal Prosecutor Dan Goldman -- Dan, thank you very much for your time tonight. Knowing how you felt about the speech in advance, I was eager to hear about how you felt about it once you heard it. Thanks for being here tonight.

GOLDMAN: Thanks for having me.

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



MADDOW: Update for you. Here was the invitation, we talked about this earlier this week, the Cobb County Republican Party commemorates the January 6th anniversary with a candlelight vigil for January 6th prisoners, for the people who have been arrested and charged in connection with the violent attack on the Capitol last year.

That Republican Party public celebration of the January 6th attackers was scheduled to happen tomorrow at Republican county headquarters in Cobb County, Georgia.

Well, today, the Cobb County, Georgia Republicans announced never mind, they have canceled that event for tomorrow.

Former President Donald Trump was also scheduled to do some kind of a press event tomorrow a year to the day after he gave the speech that incited the attack on the capitol. He, too, has now canceled. Never mind.

That said, NBC News reports tonight citing a senior U.S. intelligence official there are more than 100 events and vigils planned in support of the January 6th attackers, including some where counter-protests are expected.

So take this just as a heads-up for tomorrow. We have never had an event like this in our country before. Therefore, we have never had to commemorate the one-year anniversary before it before. I don`t think anybody knows how it will go. Things could get weird.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: All right. That is going do it for us for tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. Again, tomorrow likely to be kind of a weird day, the first time we have had to commemorate an event like the January 6th attack.

Nobody knows what tomorrow will be like. We will be here to help you understand it all tonight.


Good evening, Lawrence.