Interview with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Interview with Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
HEATHER MCGHEE, COLOR OF CHANGE: And ultimately, we`re at a real inflection point. Do we understand that the racial zero sum is, has always been the Achilles of our democracy, or not?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Ian Bassin and Heather McGee, great to have you this night.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
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. The chief federal judge in court in Washington, D.C. made a ruling tonight concerning one of the defendants who is facing criminal charges for his alleged role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol a year ago today.
The judge handed down her ruling tonight in the form of what`s called a minute order, which means it`s short. And in this case, it`s short like poetry is short, it`s short like I think I might commit this to memory and sing it to myself in the shower one day. Here it is in its entirety.
Minute order, as to defendant Anthony Robert Williams, denying defendant`s motion for permission to travel. Defendant, while on pretrial release and facing charges including a serious felony offense, stemming from his alleged actions on January 6, 2021, wishes to leave the Michigan winter to spend 10 days in the warmer climes of Jamaica, to meet the family of a woman with whom defendant has been in a committed relationship for, quote, more than a year. Then the footnote in the minute order indicates that that more than a year is a quote from what he said about himself in his motion where he asked for permission to travel to Jamaica. More than a year.
The judge continues, quote, although such a meeting pay be an important step in defendant`s personal relationship, defendant surrendered his entitlement to unfettered international travel when also more than a year ago, he allegedly announced his intent to storm the swamp and on January 6, 2021, he followed through by joining a mob at the capitol that by his words, took that F-ing building, an event he allegedly viewed as, quote, the proudest day of his life.
This court will not commemorate the one year anniversary of this attack on the Capitol by granting defendant`s request for nonessential foreign travel while he is awaiting judgment for his actions on that day. In other words, no, you cannot go to Jamaica, signed the chief judge of federal district court in Washington, D.C.
So, no, that particular January 6 defendant who is facing at least one felony charge that could get him 20 years in prison, there he is, for his role in the Trump supporter`s mob attack on the Capitol on January 6, no, the court isn`t giving him special permission to spend 10 days, sunning himself in Jamaica, although I`m sure it is lovely there this time of year. That is the very brief, very memorable order handed down tonight in federal district court in Washington, D.C.
You know, I used to have this sort of pat answer I would give, when people asked me about times that were particularly bad, particularly bleak for our country, especially in terms of politics, you know, something unusually bad would happen, some faction in our politics would sink to some new low. And if anybody asked me about just how bad things had become, for a long time I regret this now, but for a long time, I had this sort of go-to, glib response where I would say some version of, you know, hey, listen, we always think it`s the worst it has ever been, but members of Congress aren`t exactly beating one another with canes on the floor of the Senate anymore, it`s been worse. I used to say that all the time.
And the point of that, I believe it still does stand, right, however bad we think things are. We are a country that had a civil war where we Americans massed as opposing armies and killed hundreds of thousands of each other. We are a country that spent hundreds of years enslaving people, I mean, here, right? We have been through the bottom lens, absolutely.
And no, as bad as things get, in Washington and as badly as they degrade, even in Congress, we are not seeing, these days, a member of Congress beat a U.S. senator with a cane on the Senate floor. That happened on May 22nd, 1856.
Senator Charles Sumner was the victim. He was a radical Republican, radically opposed to slavery. He was leader of the abolitionists in the United States Senate.
Senator Sumner was sitting at his desk in the Senate chamber, alone, he was writing, chamber was almost empty, nobody in the gallery, and three Southern pro-slavery congressmen came into the chamber looking for him. Two of them, keeping any rescuers from helping out or interfering in any way while the other one, without warning just started smashing Senator Sumner over the head over and over again with the heavy, metal end of his cane.
It was two South Carolina congressman, one Virginia congressman, one of the two South Carolina congressman who actually wielded the cane against Senator Sumner kept up that beating for so long, so relentlessly, again, with his friends keeping anybody from intervening and stopping him, used that weapon against the unarmed senator to the point where he very nearly beat the senator to death. Senator Sumner did survive but barely. It took three years before he was able to come back to the United States Senate. Senator Sumner was hurt so badly.
That was something serious and terrible enough, even more than, you know, 160 years later that it is nothing to be glib about, nothing to be short about, even to make an otherwise valid point.
But today, one of the things that happened at the Capitol, to commemorate the January 6 attack last year is that the House hosted the librarian of Congress you see there on your left, and two very famous historians who you see at the center and right of your screen here, to talk about the history of what happened on January 6th, how to make sure that history gets preserved, how to make sure that attack gets told for the purposes of history, how to make sure it gets told accurately in history.
And the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin at that event today, she brought up the caning of Senator Charles Sumner and Preston Brooks, a man who nearly killed the senator on the floor of the Senate and she brought it up today in a way that surprised me, because of the unique resonance of that violence, that famous act of violence having happened inside the Capitol. That happened inside Congress, the way the violence happened inside Congress on January 6th.
We have had a lot of violence in this country, a lot of political violence in this country, but inside the Congress? Inside the Capitol? That resonates in a different way in this country. Watch what Doris Kearns Goodwin said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think the chilling thing of the 1850s, when I think of the attack of Senator Sumner, the antislavery senator, by Preston Brooks, the South Carolina congressman, happened in the Senate and because of that touched on the hearts and minds of the American people in a way lots of other antislavery people had been attacked before but somehow it hit home.
And there was a sense in which, for a while, more people joined the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln joined it after that, the moderates and conservatives realized they have to leave the party structure behind, the Wig Party collapsed, and I thought that was going to happen that a line had been drawn after January 6 in the same way because sometimes these events just touch you and there`s a fundamental sense on the part of the people that something had to change. And we got Abraham Lincoln out of that.
The sad, scary part of the 1850s is that Preston Brooks became a hero in the South, that the governor presented him with a silver goblet people running around with canes wanting to get other members of the antislavery movement, get sewered next, they said and part of that part of the 1850s where you had alternative realities, historians said when you saw that event, and you saw two alternative narratives, that`s when you knew that something happening to the country. And there`s a sense, of course, that there was a partisan grasp in the 1850s, when Lincoln would be in debates with Steven Douglas and the Republican paper reporting on the very same debate the Democratic Party would be reporting on, when they report on the Lincoln part of it say he was so triumphant, carried out on the arms of his supporters, you read the Democratic paper and he fell on the floor it was so embarrassing he had to be dragged out by supporters.
So we have some of those parallels from the 1850s and the only hope will be that, you`re right, it ended badly. I mean obviously, it ended badly, with the civil war, but out of that came what had to be done which was to undo that original sin of slavery, and those people fought for that. We had a leader in Abraham Lincoln who carried us through that and I think when we look at what happened, that`s what you have to remember that somehow some of these fights have to be fought, but hopefully doesn`t end up that way.
That we`ll know the mistakes we made in the 1850s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`ll know the mistakes we made, Doris Kearns Goodwin speaking at the Capitol today. She and Jon Meacham, fellow esteemed historian and librarian of Congress, they led this today for members of Congress on how to get the history right of what happened on January 6th. Talking about that attack on Charles Sumner back in the 1850s, it happened inside Congress, happened on the floor of the Senate. Talking about how that fact of it grabbed Americans by the proverbial throat, it was a galvanizing thing, it was horrifying, the barbarity of that inside the Congress by those pro-slavery congressmen.
It drove Americans to take a clearer side against that had than they were previously ready to take. And in that sense, it is, as Doris said, part of the story of how we get the leadership of Abraham Lincoln and ultimately the path to the Emancipation Proclamation and end to slavery. That act of violence, that horrific act of violence, in Congress, in the Capitol, galvanizes the country and starts turning history towards what ultimately ends slavery, because it`s so horrifying.
And, but, also, on Earth Two, also here in America, the pro-slavery guy gets treated as such a hero, they literally bought him new canes and sent them to him to replace the one that he shattered on the skull of that senator. The pieces of the broken cane that he used to beat Senator Sumner was treated like a religious relic. People wore pieces of it as talismans.
The newspapers in the South deified him for nearly murdering the senator that day, they openly wish that Senator Sumner could have been further hurt, that the job could have been finished. That was also the reaction in America. That was 1856, and of course by 1861, America was formally divided into two warring arm factions and we started killing each other in earnest by the hundreds of thousands.
Tonight, there was a prayer vigil on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, bicameral prayer vigil for both senators and members of the House. This is what that looked like. Dozens of senators and members of the House gave floor speeches today about the attack, about the need to preserve our democracy in the face of the movement that was behind the attack and that would undo our democracy by force.
The right wing movement that precipitated the attack on January 6 year ago, of course, holds sway on the Republican Party, it is already working on the undoing of the next election and one after that and members of Congress and senators today inveighed against that.
President Biden gave a fierce, intense speech today, in which he said the Capitol attack a year ago was a dagger at the throat of democracy.
It was also a bit of a collective shudder across the country late today when politico.com was first to report at the time an operable, viable pipe bomb was found just outside Democratic headquarters on January 6 last year, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was inside the building when they found the bomb there. That is something we did not know before today.
So in ways good, in ways bad, and uplifting and somber and prayerful and angry and scared today and all these ways today, there was kind of a unified Earth One response, you know? Boy, what happened a year ago today on January 6 was terrible, how do we make sure we don`t do that again?
But then also today, there`s Hillsdale County, Michigan, where tonight, the Hillsdale Republican Party is hosting a fundraiser. They`re calling it the insurrection anniversary fundraiser, explanation point included. They said on their announcement about the insurrection anniversary fund raiser tonight, food and drinks will be provide.
We actually spoke with the Hillsdale County Republican Party tonight. They told us they have had to change their plans for this event a little bit. They were planning to have one of the January 6 rioters Zoom in to participate in their event, have him join, you know, presumably to give everybody a little lift.
Unfortunately, he is facing criminal charges due to his participation in the event and at the last minute, they told us he decided he shouldn`t be the guest of honor at this Republican Party fundraiser right now, not at least until he`s been sentenced, just going to wait until his sentence, but maybe they`ll have another insurrection anniversary celebratory fund raiser next year and he`ll be available then.
It does seem prudent to wait now to find out, you know, prison time. That was today, too.
This was the state capitol, in the great state of Missouri today. Kind of a big crowd there. This is under the rotunda, you see all the chairs set up in rows, also can see in another shot here this guy is gesturing at the big projection screen so you can see his PowerPoint presentation.
As I mentioned, this is at the Missouri state capitol, under the rotunda. There`s a screen you can see where he`s got his presentation up there. See, can we zoom in, see what that presentation is about there? See what`s on the screen?
How the 2020 election was stolen. That was the presentation under the rotunda tonight, today, excuse me at the Missouri state capitol. "St. Louis Post Dispatch" reporting tonight that this event at the Missouri state capitol under the rotunda attended by multiple Republican state legislatures, the guy giving the how the election was stolen presentation was formally introduced by Republicans in Missouri today on both of the floor of the house and floor of the Senate.
That was the commemoration today of the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, that`s how they commemorated it at the Missouri state capitol today. Missouri Republicans convening underneath the rotunda to give a presentation on how the election was stolen.
After the violence at the capitol just one year ago, it`s, depending on where you look, it feels like a unified response. But we`re not different than what we were in 1856. Like in 1856, we have an Earth One where that was a galvanizing and terrible wake-up call against that horror. We also have an Earth Two where we`re not that horrified about what happened to Senator Charles Sumner. We`re happy that Preston Brooks gave him that beating and frankly, we want more.
Today, on Capitol Hill, the only Republicans who took part in the House commemoration of the January 6 attack were the two you see spot shadowed here on the front row of the Republican side of the aisle. Two of them, only one is a member of Congress, as Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney and the other Republican in the room is her dad who she brought with her, former Vice President Dick Cheney. Those were the only two Republicans who showed up today to commemorate the attack in the House.
The only house Republican event related to the January 6 today was a press conference held by two pro-Trump Republicans where they tried to propagate the plucked from the YouTube comments conspiracy theory that there was no attack on the capitol a year ago. It`s all a hoax faked by the FBI, you know, just like 9/11 was inside job and COVID was a hoax too.
Incidentally, NBC News is reporting tonight that according to top U.S. intelligence official, U.S. intelligence has been monitoring efforts by hostile foreign governments to amplify the claims that January 6 was a false flag, that it was secretly the government that did it so they could blame it on Trump supporters, hostile foreign powers have been amplifying that, presumably because they would love the run the skin of our democracy over that particular cheese greater, just have to tune into House Republican conferences to do it, even on this day of all days.
And, you know, it`s, it`s all happening -- it`s never just one thing at a time. I mean, also today, I looked at some of the press coverage and some of the photo journalism we got in today from Senator Charles Sumner home state of Massachusetts. This was North Hampton Massachusetts city hall steps today, a crowd that turned out today on the anniversary of the January 6 attack for democracy against political violence.
This woman turned out in Worcester, Massachusetts, in central Massachusetts. She put this sign on the back of her rubber made bin put on her park parka, 1/6/21, never forget, never again. I mean, it`s never all just one thing.
Obviously, that ruling from the D.C. district court tonight, dude, you cannot go to Jamaica, not today sir, that ruling from the chief judge in D.C. district court, that was also something to perhaps learn by heart and sing to yourself in the shower. These things all happen at once. But the divide between the two sides of them feels, not just gaping but scary.
I mean, Doris Kearns Goodwin had something to say today about violence and galvanization and radicalization. She had that to say today about heading off the possibility of a civil war. She meant it as a good news story, I know, right, that history is here to help and we can and should learn from it, I know.
But honestly, looking at -- looking at how this unfolded over the course of today, I am ready to hear from somebody who understands these things, how this ends well.
Joining us now is presidential historian, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her latest book is titled, "Leadership in Turbulent Times".
Ms. Goodwin, Doris, it is really great that you were able to make time to be with us tonight. Thank you for making the time on this big day.
GOODWIN: I`m very glad to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me ask if I misconstrued the point that you were making today? I tried to sort of play it without interruption, without internal edits so people could hear it the way you presented it because it knocked me off my chair a little bit. Let me ask if I -- if I interpreted that wrong or heard it wrong?
GOODWIN: No, absolutely. I mean, I think what you saw in the 1850s, and what you`re seeing right now are alternative realities, right? On one side in the north seeing it as you said, what happened to Sumner as a terrible event, the side in the south seeing it as a glorious event, what we`re seeing right now is an election that, presumably, they`re claiming on one side was not won, was stolen and the truth is, on the other side, it was won by Biden.
You`ve got alternative realities now about what the insurrection was, was it an insurrection or was it simply a bunch of tourists running around, but I think that the most important thing to understand to figure out where we should go from here which is I think what you wanted to talk about is that when Lincoln gets in in 1861, he said the central idea of the struggle they were fighting, the civil war had already started, was whether or not if a minority and by that he meant a minority who lost an election did not accept that they had lost an election and they decide that they are going to break from the union, as they did, to secede from the Union, then democracy is an absurdity, it can`t work.
And what are we seeing right now but the minority that lost the election is claiming it wasn`t loss, having state legislatures now with the possibility to overturn the will of the people. They`re having partisan people counting the votes instead of the nonpartisan volunteers.
I think if Lincoln were here now, he would say, if that`s true, then democracy is absurdity. So, what do we do? We go for voting rights. We have to protect it. It`s the most important thing. As long as I`ve lived, it`s a fight that I think is the most important fight in my life. When I was involved in a young girl on the march on Washington when I sat and listened to Lyndon Johnson`s Joint Session of Congress speech where he said voting is not a partisan issue, it`s not a northern issue, it`s not a southern issue, let`s to get the Voting Rights of `65, it`s not had a moral challenge because it`s undeniably wrong to deny your fellow Americans the right to vote. That`s what`s happening right now and that`s the fight we have to fight. That`s the only answer to understanding these divisions we have right now.
MADDOW: Doris, I was struck today when you said what you thought would happen after January 6 is that there would be a realignment, that there would be a recognition, such a widespread recognition about things having gone so wrong on one side of our politics, that there would be a realignment, an ideological realignment of the parties, something that if it wasn`t the collapse of the Wig Party and rise of the Republicans, some analogy of that, at least there would be some other sort of change along those lines.
And obviously, we haven`t seen that, but we have seen the right get weird in terms of its devotion to its failed presidential candidate who was not able to win a second term, the driving out of the party people who have a message about integrity and unity of the country and the fealty to the Constitution that would have a wide spread appeal. There is a sort of schismatic thing happening on the right that doesn`t look like a party realignment but a structural change of some kind.
I wonder if you see it that way and if that is something that you see, you expect to continue to evolve?
GOODWIN: I think it`s possible. I mean, I think what happened in January 6 was it was enough of an emotional reaction that you heard McConnell say that this was an attack that was provoked by the president. You heard McCarthy say it was an undemocratic assault on the Constitution and heard Republicans breaking away at that point.
And somehow, that image and that emotion was lost, and we have so many breaking news and that`s what happens today, things are lost. That`s the hope of what January 6 and the commemoration today, I think, and the select committee can do, if they can bring that story back so that there`s a fundamental sense on the part of more people, and I think they`re out there, the people that know it was wrong, they know what happened, if they can fill in the dots of that story, and stories are what produce a reaction in people.
You know, Lincoln told so many stories and people would say why do you tell so many stories he said because stories have a beginning, middle and end. They have more of an emotional appeal than facts and figures.
So if that committee can produce a story, now, and bring it back to the American people, and even greater detail than what we knew on January 6, then you got to hope that will affect more people and maybe that schism in the Republican Party will get bigger and we`ll begin to see some new formation. I guess as a historian, just having lived through all this, you got to hope that there`s some hope from what happened and we`ve seen it in the long run over and over again in American history.
MADDOW: I think that`s a really, really important point. I think a lot about the committee, I think a lot of Americans, particularly people horrified from what happened on January 6 are looking at the committee and we keep connecting it to the Justice Department, is there going to be accountability and, you know, are people going to go to jail and are people going to get in trouble and repent?
But as you point out, the other part of it is not about the perpetrators and the way they are treated, it is about correctly securing and telling the story of that day in a way that makes it clear to the American people so that we understand ourselves in a true, well-informed way and can make good decisions about these kinds of problems in this kind of crisis moving forward.
GOODWIN: Yeah, I mean think about the isolationism that we were facing in 1939 and 1940, and before Pearl Harbor, FDR was able to tell a story to the American people about why it was important to support England, who was standing alone against the Nazis in western Europe, and he talks about land lease and makes it a metaphor, your neighbor`s house is on fire, lend them a hose to save your house which then saves yours.
So, somehow, that`s what a story does, our best leaders understood how to tell stories and I think if this committee can tell in a compelling way, they have the evidence, just have to put it together so fair-minded people, all you need is five or 10 percent to change where they are right now and maybe that will make the other people in the party, Republicans, say this is where the country is going, on this, already majority that believes that this was an insurrection, there`s a majority that believes the election was won, but it`s got to affect the party structure.
And that`s what I think, that`s where the hope is, that people will be influenced by something that is fair and true. You can`t just repeat a lie over and over again, you can also repeat the truth over and over again in a compelling way, and then maybe that will battle the lie that`s out there.
MADDOW: So sharp, and so important.
Presidential historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin, Doris -- as I said, it`s a real pleasure to have you. I know it`s a been a long and busy day for you. Thank you for being here tonight.
GOODWIN: I`m very glad. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suddenly, Capitol police officer shouted run, run, run, run, run. We scrambled across the entire length of the gallery, crouching down, ducking down, under the railings.
REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA): I am the woman in the red jacket lying on the house floor, the gallery floor on my back with my hands to my chest. That`s my 15 minutes of fame, not the one I would have chosen for myself --
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): The fact that we could see those barricading the doors but hearing the noise and hoping that those doors would not yield.
REP. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-DE): What I remember most is walking back on to the house floor, into the chamber that morning to complete our work. The morning when democracy prevailed. Remember, reflect, recommit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Members of the House of Representatives speaking today, recounting the moment a year ago today when the violent mob of Trump supporters breached the capitol, dozens members of Congress and senators spoke about that moment today.
It`s also worth remembering the journalists who were part of that day, those moments, those first moments that those senators and members of Congress talking about today were also, of course, documented by journalists in the room at the time, that is part of why it is such a vivid part of our nation`s history.
Speaking in the United States Senate today, this was New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): All along our retreat, that ignominious moment, along that retreat, we saw officers injured. I eventually walked and worked my way to my office, and I will never forget this moment as long as I live. I feel not just my own pain, but I thought immediately of my dad, and I felt the pain of my ancestors because when I turned on that screen, the very first thing I saw was the Confederate flag. That flag, in so many communities in this country, carried by Klansmen, carried by those who took democratically-elected officials, blacks in Southern states, ripped them from their offices, dragged judges into the street, beat them, lynched them, that was their flag.
This is not about a day. This was not one day, it was not one moment, it was a part of our story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker who you just saw speaking there today in the Senate chamber.
Senator Booker, thank you so much for your time tonight.
BOOKER: Thank you, Rachel. It`s good to be on with you.
MADDOW: Let me ask you, I feel like I`ve turned you off senator at moments where we need moral focus. What conversation do you hope we`ll be able to have a year from now on the second anniversary of the January 6 attack that we cannot have now?
What sort of progress do you think we can make as a country, in the year ahead, given what has happened to us in the year behind?
BOOKER: Let me first just really push the point that if we just see this as an isolated incident, one day we mark every year and forget this is a stream of our nation`s history, where violent forces seeking to stop democracy with authoritarian events have been a long part of our country`s history. In fact, every step we`ve tried to take forward has been met with violence.
Remember, we talk about the suffragettes and their marches but they were beaten and tortured. We talk about the efforts for voting rights, John Lewis, you can go through the number of people that were beaten and those early elected officials, the first senator in the United States Senate that was black was during reconstruction when whites had unfettered access to voting, that was met with violence. Even now, since January 6, the threats on the violent threats on officials in our country, for federal judges has gone up three-fold, for members of Congress, threats gone up two-fold. For independent election officials, "Reuters" documents hundreds and hundreds of violent threats.
Take a guy like Al Schmidt (ph), Republican from Pennsylvania, who dared to say the election was just and fair, threatened, his children, threatened to murder them.
So we have to understand we are actually a unique, amazing country, but we see across the planet from Europe to South America, authoritarian forces pushing back on democracy, undermining democracy, and democracy on the retreat from Hungary to Turkey, the demagogic forces we saw pushing back on democracy.
So the positive, Rachel, is clear. Every dark chapter of our history was as the great historian you had on, an ignition point. King called the violence, he goes, I`m worried about today, we have to repent for is not the vitriolic words and violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of the good people.
The hope I have, the story that I have, is this thread continues, and you see it in voter suppression, people trying to gerrymandering, trying to under mine free and fair Democrat talk hope people see this is not just pointing fingers at contempt of otherizing people, that this is them. No, this is not about finding blame. It`s about us as Americans taking this moment, this day, and not just commemorating it but recognizing it and accepting responsible that we have to make the change.
MADDOW: In terms of the political nature of the violence the country faces a year ago, I found myself struggling today whether that violence is political or whether it is the end of politics, right? You talked about authoritarian movements, I see the portrait of Gandhi behind you senator, and know your spiritual commitment to nonviolence, as well as your strategic to nonviolence.
When President Biden talked about a dagger being held to the throat of America today, he was talking about people trying to achieve power through force rather than through politics. And I find myself struggling today with the kind of history that you`ve talked about where our politics has often bled into violence, and where commitments to nonviolence have often just been met with more violence. I mean, finding your way out of this does mean learning from history, but I also think it means being able to name the moment we are in, and whether this is not just about changing our form of government but about abandoning politics for something nonpolitical and that is just about force.
BOOKER: Yeah, and I think you`re right. We need to name what`s going on right now. It`s not over, last year, an event when they left the Capitol, it wasn`t the end. There is a strong movement in this country to undermine our democracy and it is perilous, whether it is taking away independent election officials and trying to shift decisions on which electors you send to the state, away from nonpartisan individuals like we`re seeing in places like Georgia and put it back in a partisan legislature, when the president calls this time as he did to independent election official and tries to pressure them, well, we see how many of my colleagues and others have been folding to that pressure. That`s about undermining our democracy.
The racial elements of this are clear. How can we have a nation, I really had the naivety of a child, listening to my parents around the fear of trying to vote, the two different voting systems.
But now we live in a country where predominantly black counties, areas in Georgia, the way to vote, average way to vote in predominantly black communities documented by Reuters and Brennan is almost an hour, 51 minutes. For a white voter, it`s six minutes. Think about that for a second.
You have places -- do we want to live in a country where a black person has to wait seven, eight times longer to vote and some areas in America like Texas where in minority communities the wait to vote is seven, eight, hours, that`s a days work. Are we saying people will tolerate a country where people have to afford to give up hours of work or taking care of their children? That`s America today.
If you don`t think our democracy is in peril by all these threats on voting officials, all of these voter suppression laws creating such distinctly different experiences in voting in America, then, and if you are passive and sitting on the sideline at this moment, and not taking some responsibility to say I`ve got to do something different like generations before who faced dark moments, then you are part of the problem. And so this is why one of the best things about the day, that dark day for me, was seeing how many ordinary people rose to the occasion, whether it was staffers, making sure we protected those boxes sitting in the wells of the Senate, whether it was people like Eugene Goodman who, I`m telling you, he did not lead the mob away from the Senate chamber, someone would have gotten killed, most likely the people in the mob would have gotten killed because there were people with guns around us.
As one of my favorite people, Mr. Rogers says, when moments like that, look for the helpers. Well I`m hoping that people look to themselves and say I need to be a helper because January 6 may have ended the last year, but the crisis of violence and the threats to our democracy are persisting and we are not immune to what is happening around this planet in other areas where democracies are being worn down or eroding and democratic principles and ideals are falling to demagoguery and leaders who have authoritarian aims.
MADDOW: Senator Cory Booker from the great state of New Jersey -- Senator, thanks for being with us tonight. I know it`s been an intense and emotional day today, it means a lot to me that you were here tonight, thanks.
BOOKER: Thank you very much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: A year ago tomorrow, the day after the January 6 attack as we are all trying to understand what happened, I have a guest on this show you will recognize, Yale professor and author Timothy Snyder helped us multiple times over the last few years understand authoritarian tendencies both domestically and abroad.
So, a year ago tomorrow, that Thursday, our first full day as a country living in the reality of the January 6 attack, all trying to digest what we had gone through and what it all meant, Professor Snyder joined us live that night from Vienna, 3:30 a.m. his time.
This was the first question I had for him that day after the attack at the Capitol. Watch what we he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So you`ve been warning us for a long time not to underestimate where Trump`s election lies could go. One of the things I wanted to ask you about today was the president telling his followers today, remember this day forever. He said that yesterday, it was one of the tweets that was ultimately deleted before he was taken off all social media. How do we make sense of them gloating about this, remembering it forever, celebrating it and saying this wasn`t us, it was our enemies?
TIMOTHY SNYDER, "ON TYRANNY" AUTHOR: None of this happens without the concerted effort to keep this big lie going from the beginning, then finally, I think it`s very clear that how the story is recalled in the future is going to matter a great deal for our republic. I mean Mr. Trump who`s quite clever about these things understands that and that`s why he`s using the word forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How this story is recalled in the future is going to matter a great deal for our republic.
That was one year ago, joining us now is Timothy Snyder professor of history at Yale University. He`s the bestselling author of among other books, "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century".
Professor Snyder, thank you for being here tonight. I`m really glad you were able to make time to be here.
SYNDER: Of course.
MADDOW: When you said, how the story is recalled in the future is going to matter a great deal for our republic, how do you assess one year on, how we`re doing, in terms of how we are telling the story, how we are recalling this history?
SNYDER: Well, on the one hand, things look pretty bad. The big lie which Mr. Trump formulated way back in November, the big lie that he actually won the election and Democrats cheated is, has taken strong hold despite all the evidence and despite all the contradictions inside that story.
The big lie has become a kind of alternative reality, or a dream that people live inside. It justifies having lost, it takes away the stain of having lost, it takes aware the need to confront having lost.
It blames the other side. It creates justification for taking revenge on the other side for something they never did in the first place. It becomes a way to purge the party, it becomes a way to turn right wing media into one giant safe space which has happened so on one side, got all that.
On the other side, we have the January 6 commission. We have the humble attempt by journalists and historians and others to try to put the story together the way it actually happened, which as Doris Kearns Goodwin said is a hope that will build on a common sense account of what actually happened and this common sense account will bring along enough people to keep the republic going.
MADDOW: When about the big lie, the lies about the election being perpetrated -- excuse me, perpetuated for all of those reasons that you described, the one that sticks to me, sort of viscerally, is that it serves to provide a justification revenge on Trump`s behalf. That to the extent that they keep propagating this idea that the election was not just a fraud or not just shunned, it was stolen. It was stolen. While the victim of that theft is Trump and as you say it creates the justification for revenge on his part.
Today, you wrote about the expectation that his followers will want to see him not necessarily elected president but installed as president, with or without any fig leaf of democratic process in order to sort of effectuate that revenge. That`s a very chilling prospect. I wonder if you can explain that in terms of why you think that risk is real.
SNYDER: Sure. Let me spell out the thought you had which I very much agree with. We know the history of authoritarianism one is that lies lead to violence and violence lead to more lies. We`re caught in that cycle now. Once Mr. Trump told the big lie, it was pretty much inevitable that violence would have to happen to make it seem true, and now that that violence has taken place, people have to lie about it in turn. That`s a downward spiral.
Another thing we know from the history of the big lie it`s about just what you said, the big lie is about flipping the victim and the perpetrator. It`s about turning the perpetrator into the victim. In fact, it was Mr. Trump who conspired to overturn our democratic procedures, but the big lie allows him to flip victimhood and effect revenge for something he did himself.
As for the installation of Mr. Trump, that is now the dominant scenario. People are really thinking about. The voter suppression is meant to keep things as close as possible. The laws which allow voter subversion, audits to run out the clock, state legislatures allocating electors by themselves, Republican in the House of Representatives then voting in effectively installing a president who lost, that is right now unfortunately the mainstream scenario.
And if it happens, I`m afraid it will be welcomed by everyone who is telling the big lie because the ultimate purpose of the big lie is to create this alternative reality that you live in up to the moment when you take power again. Then you imagine when you take power that your guy who has taken power will make it all true, will correct the past, will sort everything out for you. That`s the dream.
I don`t think -- I think it could work to get him close to the Oval Office. I think what Republicans who think this way are not taking into account is that it`s unlikely to work as a way to make him legitimate president because these methods of getting somebody into the Oval Office will be unacceptable to large swaths of the American public and many American institutions.
MADDOW: Right, which says one thing about whether he`ll be viewed as legitimate president. It says something else entirely whether we continue to exist as a coherent country under those circumstances.
Timothy Snyder is the author of "On Tyranny." He`s professor of history at Yale University. Professor Snyder, thank you for your time this evening. Thank you for letting us turn to you on big nights like this. It`s invaluable to your counsel. Thanks.
SNYDER: Thanks for doing what you do. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So here is an update on a story we told you to watch out for earlier this week. On Friday, last Friday, New Year`s Eve, a big fire ripped through a Planned Parenthood clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee. Really big fire, nine fire units responded to it. The building was declared a total loss.
The reason I said earlier this week to keep eyes on that fire investigation is because that same clinic in Knoxville was hit with a different kind of devastation less than a year ago. It was only last January when somebody took a shotgun and opened fire into that same Planned Parenthood location. And no arrest was ever made in that shooting, but it was because of that history we thought it might be worth keeping an eye on that story when we learned about the fire at the same location.
Well, today, local and federal investigators announced that that fire at the Planned Parenthood in Knoxville, Tennessee, is being viewed as a criminal act. Investigators believe it was intentionally set. Knoxville`s fire department is asking the community for help.
They`re offering a large cash reward for information that leads to the prosecution of anyone involved in this suspected arson. Again, this is Knoxville, Tennessee. We will continue to follow it.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: All right. Thank you for being with us tonight. Anniversaries like this one are always tough. It was good to have you here. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.