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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/14/21

Guests: David Kessler, Josh Kaul, Vin Gupta


An FDA panel recommends Moderna booster for people 65+, and adults at high risk of COVID exposure. Wisconsin`s attorney general wants the assembly speaker to shut the fake election investigation down. Former President Bill Clinton is hospitalized with non-COVID-related infection.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: 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.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Very happy to have you here. It`s Friday eve after all.

This billboard has just gone up in Times Square in New York City. As you can see there, it says "Trump lost," no more, quote, audits.

This was put up by a Republican group, a group called the Republican Accountability Project. We`ve talked about them a few times on the show. They`re basically a group of anti-Trump Republicans, including people who served in the Trump administration who are now anti-Trump Republicans basically trying to save their party from the direction it has taken under Trump. And the Republican Accountability Project apparently has a sort of subgroup called Republicans for Voting Rights. They put this up in Times Square.

And I have to tell you, when I first saw that, I thought that this might be one of those things where an advocacy group does kind of a stunt ad. They just -- you see this sometimes in the D.C. TV market, that a political group will run a political ad like once in Washington, D.C. in the hopes that just the right person or just the right media will see it.

You also sometimes see that in Times Square. You`ll have an advocacy group just put up one ad for one day, just in Times Square, hope that media organizations based in New York will cover that, as if it is a national thing, even though that one ad is running only once in New York City. I have seen my share of those kinds of PR stunts, sort of news stunts over the years.

But it turns out that is not what this is, because while it is in times square in New York city, look. Here it is today, this is in the wild, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Again, you see it`s the same sort of graphic there, "Trump lost, no more audits." And here it is today also in the wild, in Virginia, in Richmond, Virginia. You can see there if you look closely, this billboard is directly above Ye Oldy carwash. "Trump lost, no more audits."

You can see in the foreground of that photo, the political campaign signs there, that`s because Virginia has its election for governor less than three weeks from now. And yes, the Republican running for governor of Virginia, a guy named Glenn Youngkin, is Trump-endorsed. He has called for one of these audits of Virginia`s presidential election results.

Last night at a Glenn Youngkin event in Virginia, Trump himself phoned in and Steve Bannon spoke. At the event, they literally asked the audience to pledge allegiance to a flag they said had been flown by Trump supporters in D.C. on January 6, while the mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol. That was like their special treat for the fans.

Hey, Glenn Youngkin supporters, you can pledge allegiance to not just any flag but to the January 6 flag. Wow.

In any case, this billboard, this "Trump lost" billboard is up in the wild in Pennsylvania, in Virginia. It`s up in the wild in Austin, Texas. Today, also in Orlando, Florida. Apparently, the plan is to run this "Trump lost, no more audits" billboard in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Times Square in New York City. Other than New York, of course, all those other states are places where Republicans really are either already doing or planning to do these partisan pseudo audits, these bizarre reviews of the presidential election results that treat the election as if it was some kind of crime that requires forensic investigation.

Tonight, we`re going to be speaking with the attorney general of the great state of Wisconsin who has come out forcefully this week saying that the election investigation Republicans are doing in that state isn`t just ridiculous. It`s harmful. He says it needs to be shut down.

This is actually good to see today in "The Washington Post." The National Press starting to cover the fact that Republicans are messing with the election results in Wisconsin as well. This is not something that ended in Arizona. They are really running with this thing. And the situation in Wisconsin deserves more national attention than it`s getting. That`s why it was really good to see this "Washington Post" piece today.

And you look at the lead here, it`s a gem. Quote, the glaring errors became clear soon after a former Wisconsin judge issued subpoenas earlier this month in a Republican review of the state`s 2020 presidential election.


Some of his requests referred to the wrong city. At least one was sent to an official who doesn`t actually oversee elections. A Latin phrase included in the demands for records and testimony was misspelled.

Michael Gableman, the former judge leading the review, admitted days later that he does not have, quote, a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work. He then backed off some of his subpoena demands before reversing course again, telling a local right wing radio host that officials would in fact still be required to testify.

Quote, the latest round of reversals and blunders in Wisconsin is intensifying calls to end the investigation. One of several recent efforts around the country to revisit Biden`s win in states where former president Trump and his supporters have leveled baseless accusations of voter fraud. Voting rights advocates, election policy experts and some state and local officials accuse Gableman in Wisconsin of incompetence. They say his review will decrease public trust in Wisconsin elections.

Wisconsin state Attorney General Josh Kaul this week called Gableman`s subpoenas unlawful. He called them, quote, dramatically overbroad and he urged Republicans in the state legislature to, quote, shut this fake investigation down.

Again, that was from Wisconsin State Attorney General Josh Kaul. Wisconsin state Attorney General Josh Kaul will be our best live in just a moment.

We also have our eyes on other developing news around that particular dark corner in our politics, now that former President Trump has apparently advised Trump White House officials to not comply with subpoenas from the January 6 investigation in Congress, the committee that`s conducting that investigation is apparently planning to move forward with a criminal contempt referral for at least one of those Trump White House officials, Steve Bannon.

I should mention, at that event for Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in Virginia last night, the one where they pledged allegiance to the flag that was used by the crowd at January 6, at that event, Steve Bannon whipped up the crowd with all these claims that the election had been stolen from Trump and said they`re going to take it back. He reportedly said at this event that not only is Trump coming back to office but then he said they`re going to rule for a hundred years. Okay. Will you be here for all of them?

It doesn`t seem like Mr. Bannon is too bothered by the threat that there is a criminal contempt referral coming his way as he defies the subpoena for the January 6 investigation. But that criminal contempt referral is apparently coming his way. We shall see.

As Trump Justice Department officials continue to try to thread their way out of the attempted subversion of the election and Trump`s efforts to use the Justice Department to try to stay in power after he lost the election, today there`s also some interesting news that one Trump Justice Department senior official, very senior official, Jeffrey Rosen, he served as attorney general in the final days of Trump after Bill Barr quit, Jeffrey Rosen apparently spent eight straight hours yesterday testifying behind closed doors to that same January 6 investigation that`s going to send the criminal referral for Steve Bannon. Jeffrey Rosen, eight hours of testimony yesterday. Must have had a lot to talk about.

It was behind closed doors, we don`t know what happened. We expect that that testimony will eventually be shown to the public. And no, I`m not going to read all eight hours of it on the air when we finally get the transcript, but you better believe I will find the good stuff, when we finally get it. So like I said, we`ve got eyes on all those developing stories tonight.

But there`s been a whole different kind of drama and momentum today when it comes to COVID. A whole but any things are happening now all at once on COVID. First of all, and most importantly, of course, we`ve still got a huge proportion of our population that is unvaccinated, unvaccinated, that is driving crushing numbers of very sick COVID patients that are still overwhelming hospitals in multiple states. I mean, you`re hearing about how nationally the numbers are starting to come down from our most recent peak, and that is a good piece of news nationwide.

But look at the headlines just today. Out of all these different states, Wyoming, Utah, Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, Alaska, all headlines today about hospitals hitting or maintaining or even exceeding their peak patient numbers even as recently as today. The biggest hospital in Montana, their ICU unit is now operating at 175 percent capacity. whatever relief we might be getting in the numbers nationwide, Montana is still really in the thick of it, as are all those other states, as are even more states than that.


So the crush of patients, unvaccinated COVID patients, and how that is crowding out all the other kinds of care that hospitals need to be providing, honestly, to me at least it still seems like that`s job one in terms of what`s wrong in the country right now on COVID. We have to protect the health care system. People who get in car accidents or have strokes or heart attacks or have operable cancer and need to be able to get in, they sometimes need ICU beds.

If we`ve got hospitals and ICUs overtapped consistently in state after state after state, week after week after week, we`re losing our ability to keep Americans alive and keep Americans from getting grievous illnesses, that ought to be preventable. People who ought to be savable won`t be as long as our health care system has this kink in it because of the crush of COVID patients who are not vaccinated.

And, you know, we`ve got all the attendant problems that go along with that crush. The need to support, the need to spell, no give some relief and support to our doctors and nurses and other health care workers. We have seen the federal government taking some creative stabs at that problem. You`ve seen these federal strike teams being deployed to local hospitals around country.

Even U.S. military assets, U.S. military being deployed, National Guard but also active duty troops. And that helps. But those are -- you know, those are sort of local solutions to what`s a widespread problem. It`s an ongoing problem, an ongoing challenge that will only get better when there are fewer patients. And that will only happen when more people are vaccinated.

And then alongside that, there`s the evolution, the really interesting evolution right now of what we`ve got in the quiver to fight off this virus. Today, it was a 19-0 vote by the FDA advisory panel considering the question of whether the Moderna vaccine will be approved for a booster dose, a third dose, just like Pfizer. The vote today was 19-0 in favor of Moderna offering a booster shot.

That third shot would be half the dose of the other two shots. And you take it no sooner than six months after your second shot of Moderna. It will be for people aged 65 and over and also people younger than 65 who are at high risk for COVID because of other medical issues or they`re at high risk of COVID exposure because of where they live or where they work. It`s the same criteria that`s being used for the Pfizer shot in terms of who qualifies for a booster.

The FDA looks like it`s on its way toward a similar set of approvals for Moderna with that unanimous vote from the FDA advisory panel recommending that. Tomorrow, that same advisory panel will consider the question of Johnson & Johnson, the single shot vaccine, and whether there`s going to be a booster for that. There`s a lot of interesting potential variables there. We`re going to talk about that in just a moment.

But, you know, big picture, A, more Americans need to get vaccinated, period, regardless of who gets a booster shot or not. And B, the whole world population needs to get more vaccinated than it is, if we are ever going to get to the end of this thing.

And while all these approval decisions are working their way through our system for the U.S. population, one of the other dynamics at work now is that President Biden`s most senior advisers on COVID are getting sort of increasingly outspoken, are leaning increasingly hard on the companies producing these vaccines, particularly Moderna, that they need to get off their wallet and start really kicking up their production capacity. They need to start making more, because for all the drama and the mishegoss around vaccines in this country, writ large, a vaccine, as far as we know, is humankind`s way out of this pandemic.

It`s the way out for our country. It`s the way out for the world. And no country can get out of it until the world gets out of it. And therefore, we need lots more vaccine to be able to get there. President Biden`s most senior advisers now advocating that the companies making these vaccines need to make more.

Joining us now is Dr. David Kessler. He`s former FDA commissioner. He`s now chief science officer for the White House`s COVID-19 response.

Dr. Kessler, it`s always a real honor to have time with you. Thank you for making time to be here tonight.


MADDOW: First, let me ask you about this advisory process and the consideration around these boosters. Am I right to worry that the focus on the boosters, while important, that we need to worry about whether or not that might be distracting attention, might be distracting focus from the sort of more overwhelming need to just get more people vaccinated, full stop, regardless of whether or not certain populations eventually get a third dose?


KESSLER: I agree with you 100 percent. Job number one is to get the unvaccinated vaccinated. No doubt that is the first, foremost item on the agenda.

I do think the step that the advisory committee took today to recommend a booster shot of Moderna at least six months for people who are 65 years of age or, as you said, at high risk, I think that`s an important step, because assuming FDA and ACIP go along, that brings Moderna and Pfizer in sync. Now, we`ve administered 7 million Pfizer doses so far, one out of three eligible seniors have received their boost.

And data presented from Israel, you know, shown at the advisory committee today showed an 11-fold reduction in infection after boost, and a 19-fold reduction in severe disease. So boosters give people increased protection against infection. But no doubt, getting people who are not vaccinated vaccinated is job one.

MADDOW: And Dr. Kessler, in terms of this consideration tomorrow around Johnson & Johnson, there`s been some intriguing reporting, that`s a different type of vaccine, an mRNA vaccine, than Pfizer and Moderna. It`s a single shot vaccine so far. Is it possible that the booster recommendation might not be that people should get a second shot of that vaccine but rather their second shot should be one of the others?

KESSLER: Let me give you the data. You`re right, for all people who took the J&J vaccine, tomorrow is their day at the advisory committee. The data will be presented. We know that J&J`s own two-dose studies -- that`s J&J with J& -- shows that a second dose of J&J increases protection by about 20 percent against moderate to severe disease. So that is very good news.

But you`re also talking -- the committee will also look at what`s known as the mix and match studies. And these results are very exciting. The company didn`t do these but the NIH did these. And the mix and match studies give excellent boost, certainly with regard to neutralizing antibodies. So let`s see what FDA recommends.

MADDOW: Fascinating. And talking about what the companies have done and what the companies have spent money to figure out versus what the government has spent money to figure out, NIH funded studies, for example, in those mix and match -- in those mix and match questions. I`ve been interested to see the discussion around specifically Moderna, which is a company that the U.S. taxpayers have dumped billions of dollars into overall, and to great effect. I mean, Moderna has contributed massively with their vaccine to humanity`s arsenal against this pandemic.

But because the U.S. taxpayers have contributed to much to what that company is and what they`ve been able to bring to market, you`ve spoken out recently saying that Moderna needs to really step it up in terms of just the number of doses they are producing, both for the U.S. market but particularly for the world. And the COVAX initiative and other ways we`ve strategized to try to make sure the world gets vaccinated.

KESSLER: I`ve been very direct with them. We need Moderna to provide substantial doses at a not-for-profit price to low income countries. We need them to do it now. And we need the companies to create manufacturing capacity in Africa. Having real manufacturing capacity on the African continent will make a real difference in access for many people who do not have access to these vaccines. They need to step it up and they need to do it now.

MADDOW: Is Moderna resisting those calls or are they responsive to those concerns?

KESSLER: They`ve heard our message loud and clear. I hope there`s progress. We will hold their feet to the fire.

MADDOW: Dr. Kessler, let me also ask you, going back to what you said was job one. The latest numbers that I`ve seen say that there`s still between 60 and 70 million Americans who haven`t gotten a single shot. And there is all this talk about the boosters and there`s interesting talk about, you know, therapeutics and the antiviral pill from Merck. But that job one of getting people to get their first vaccine shot, people to get on the train to getting fully vaccinated, are there things that we could be doing that we are not doing? Are there things within the government`s power or within our power as a country that could winnow that number down?


Are there things you wish we were doing that we haven`t yet been able to do?

KESSLER: So, one set of very interesting numbers is that we went from 95 million people unvaccinated before the president`s vaccine requirements in July to 66 million today. So we were at 95 million unvaccinated in July. Those requirements were announced, and we`re now down to 66 million.

So vaccine requirements work. They are good for the economy. They`re supported by the majority of the American people. And most importantly, they save lives.

So I think we have these requirements. We have boosts. Let`s get our kids vaccinated. The FDA advisory committee will reconvene at the end of this month. Hopefully those doses after FDA review can start rolling out to our kids.

So, I think with those things, those increased requirements, boosts, getting kids vaccinated, we can make real, real progress.

MADDOW: Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for the White House`s COVID-19 response, of course former FDA commissioner -- sir, thank you as always for your time and for your clarity. Thank you.

KESSLER: Thank you, Rachel.

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



MADDOW: We have some breaking news just in in the last few minutes. Former President Bill Clinton has been hospitalized in California. A statement just released from his spokesman in the last few minutes says, quote, on Tuesday evening, so two nights ago, President Clinton was admitted to UCI Medical Center, that`s University of California at Irvine, to receive treatment for a non-COVID-related infection.

The statement continues, quote, he`s on the mend, in good spirits and is incredibly thankful to the doctors, nurses, and staff providing him with excellent care. That`s obviously a bare bones statement from President Clinton`s spokesman. NBC has confirmed the basics of this.

I can tell you that CNN is reporting tonight that -- and NBC has not confirmed this, but CNN is reporting tonight that the former president was in California on Tuesday for an event related to the Clinton Foundation. He fell ill, he wasn`t feeling well, he was taken to UCI, and they say that he is being treated for sepsis, effectively a blood infection. They took pains to say this is also not related -- not only is it not related to COVID but it`s not related to his heart. He of course had heart surgery in I believe 2004, had a stent put in some years after that.

But this is apparently not related to his heart. And this is not related to COVID.

Again, the spokesman for former President Clinton saying it is a non-COVID- related infection, he`s on the mend and in good spirits. NBC has not confirmed the reporting from CNN tonight that this relates to a blood infection, sepsis, for which he`s being treated with antibiotics.

But in either case, the former president is said to be on the mend and in good spirits, which is a good sign. But we`ll keep you posted as we learn more about that. Again, breaking news just within the last few minutes.

All right. One of the stories that I said that we were watching tonight has to do with the state of Wisconsin. So Arizona got all of this attention over the last few months for running what was a bizarre sort of investigation, they called it an audit, of the presidential election results in that state. Wisconsin is now giving Arizona a run for its money. The national media is sort of starting to cotton on to the fact that they were doing this. There`s a lot of weird things to know about what`s going on in Wisconsin. And it seems like they might be approaching it in such a way that it never really gets off the ground, possibly. At least they`re doing it in such a way that it`s raising lots and lots of objections early on.

Here`s some of the background. December 22 last year, so this is after the election, less than a month before Joe Biden is due to be sworn in as the next president. December 22 last year, then President Donald Trump announced his intent to appoint 42 new people to new jobs in the Trump administration. Take this job in my administration that will only exist for less than a month.

It was an unusual time to, you know, announce dozens of nominations. When you looked closer though, at that list, the whole thing looked like a vanity project for some of Trump`s closest friends and allies. He put Hope Hicks on the board that gives out Fulbright scholarships, really? He picked his friend Pam Bondi for a seat on the board of trustees of the Kennedy Center. Why? Stuff like that.

Not all those plums were handed out to the president`s high profile supporters, though. For example there was this guy, Michael J. Gableman of Wisconsin, the president appointed him, whoever he is, to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Again, this was a random thing Donald Trump did in the last classification of his presidency which nobody thought twice about. Nobody was digging around to see if Hope Hicks was really qualified to dole out the Fulbright Scholarships. Nobody took a beat to figure out who Michael Gableman of Wisconsin was for this criminal justice advisory board.

This random list of futile vanity appointments has suddenly become way more interesting, though, now that that same Michael J. Gableman of Wisconsin, Trump political appointee Michael J. Gableman of Wisconsin, is the same guy who Republicans in the legislature there have appointed to run one of these shambolic fake audits of the 2020 presidential election results.


He is a former judge in Wisconsin. Last year, he spoke at a "Stop the Steal" rally about how the election was stolen from Trump.

Mr. Gableman has refused to say who is working with him on this so-called audit with the exception of one person, also a Trump appointee, a Trump White House lawyer who last year said online the presidential election was stolen fair and square.

These are the two guys Wisconsin Republicans have picked to run their, you know, impartial investigation into whether or not Joe Biden really won Wisconsin in 2020. It`s Trump White House lawyer and a Trump political appointee. I`m sure they`ll be completely fair, though.

As we have covered extensively on the show, this audit thus far has been doing a bang-up job, if you take the meaning of "bang-up" literally. It`s literally -- it`s led to exasperated coverage in the local press in Wisconsin. Reporters trying to figure out how to cover this with a straight face.

For example, these are real sentences in a real news article about real things Michael Gableman has been doing while running this investigation. Real sentences as reported by "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" just today. Quote: Gableman two weeks ago issued subpoenas demanding interviews this Friday with city clerks and the director of the bipartisan State Election Commission. Within days, he canceled those interviews. Today he announced the interview with the director of the election commission also wouldn`t take place.

Gableman`s subpoenas told officials to turn over records they have about the 2020 elections. Documents that would take up hundreds of thousands if not millions of pages. Gableman should already have access to many of those documents. He hasn`t explained why he wants officials to nevertheless give him new copies of them. Gableman contended last year without evidence that the election was stolen. More recently he has said he doesn`t understand how elections work.

Just the facts of this story, the poor reporters, right? You can -- you know, you can read between the lines and hear them being like, we know this is crazy but this is literally what happened, this is just the facts.

Not everybody is being that sort of polite about it, though. This was this morning from the Wisconsin state editorial board at "USA Today" published by "The Journal Sentinel,". It`s an editorial that says, quote, Michael Gableman is flushing taxpayer money down the drain to support a lie. Wisconsin citizens should demand he stop.

This week, the attorney general in Wisconsin took that advice. He says he believes the way this Trump appointee is going out, this so-called audit in Wisconsin, is actually against the law. He described it as corrosive to our democracy. He said outright this whole thing should be shut down right now.


JOSH KAUL (D), WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: What we are seeing here is not a serious investigation. This investigation suffers from glaring flaws that destroy any credibility that its results could have. The investigation is irrevocably tainted by bias. This investigation is not being professionally or competently conducted.

By former Justice Gableman`s own admission, the investigators here are learning the basics of election administration as they go. And frankly, no serious investigator would conduct an investigation under these circumstances. And no one should treat the results of this investigation as credible. My request to Speaker Vos is simple: shut this fake investigation down.


MADDOW: Shut this fake investigation down. That is Josh Kaul, the attorney general of the great state of Wisconsin.

Attorney General Kaul joins us live now.

Mr. Attorney General, thank you very much for making time to be here tonight. It`s a pleasure to have you here.

KAUL: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So you said there bluntly that you are calling on the Republican speaker in Wisconsin to put an end to this, to call this thing off. I wonder if you`ve had any response.

KAUL: Well, the speaker said that he`s going to continue with this investigation, which is unfortunate. As I talked about at the press conference, this is irrevocably tainted. It`s clearly biased in a partisan way. It was announced at a political convention. It was expanded after Donald Trump had the speaker join him on his plane. It`s not being conducted competently. And it`s been prejudged.

I say it`s corrosive to our democracy because the more that people fan the flames of the big lie, the more it promotes this false narrative that there`s a reason to be questioning our election when in fact there`s not.

MADDOW: You also said this week that in addition to all those descriptors you just used, biased and tainted and incompetent, essentially this is a bad idea for lots of reasons, you also said this week that you believe the subpoenas sent out by the guy leading this audit might be unlawful.


What are the consequences of that, if that`s true?

KAUL: Well, we`ve raised a number of objections to the subpoenas. We do think they`re unlawful as they`re currently drafted. The legislature in our state, just like the U.S. Congress, can conduct legislative oversight hearings. But what they can`t do is act like they`re the executive branch and offer immunity, for example, as Justice Gableman did.

And our statutes say they have to conduct hearings like the ones that justice Gableman wants to conduct in front of the legislative committee. If they don`t comply with those laws, the subpoenas are unenforceable. So we`ve had ongoing discussions and we`re going to make sure that the process that takes place is one that is consistent with our state`s law.

MADDOW: We`ve seen in other states some of these audits cause real damage, beyond chipping away at the faith that people have in our elections. Machines have had to be decertified, counties, in some cases the possibility of states, having to buy new election equipment. Sensitive data that shouldn`t have been shared has been shared. Security concerns that didn`t exist before, when false claims are being raised about the election potentially being insecure, now actually have become potentially more legitimate claims because secure data has been given to people who should never have gotten their hands on it.

Is there a way to sort of ring-fence Wisconsin`s election security and its voting machines and its ballots and the other things that are part of holding a secure election in a way to stop them from potentially being compromised by an audit like this?

KAUL: That`s something we`re watching for very carefully. We need to make sure we`re protecting voters` private data and that we`re making sure that our machines don`t have to be re-commissioned because of this ongoing process. So far that kind of data hasn`t been requested. It`s been other information that`s been requested.

But I kind of view the ongoing investigation as something of a hybrid between what we saw in Arizona and what we saw from Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell after the election, just really incompetent, almost comical lawyering.

But the thing that`s not comical, and we saw this with what happened after the election, just because these things are conducted in a way that is not serious, doesn`t mean there aren`t serious consequences. We saw that with the insurrection. We need to make sure we`re working to shut this process down before this leads to bad consequences as well.

MADDOW: Have you -- you do have the benefit of taking on this matter as Arizona has just finished it. Is there anything that you learned from what responsible elections officials and state officials in Wisconsin -- excuse me, in Arizona, did or were able to do that sort of gave you ideas in terms of how you can respond to this?

KAUL: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head in the opening here. One of the things that`s really important is that we raise awareness about what`s going on both within our state and at a national level, because this has implications not only for Wisconsin elections but for national presidential elections.

And we need to make sure that the people who are conducting this sham investigation are being held accountable for it. And we`re going to keep talking about where it`s crossing the line in terms of what the law allows and also continue making the point that this was a safe, secure, and a free and fair election and that the results of the 2020 election are ones that can be trusted.

MADDOW: Wisconsin state Attorney General Josh Kaul. Mr. Attorney general, thanks for being here. This is a challenge that you`ve got on your hands. But I appreciate you helping us understand it. Thank you.

KAUL: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: We`re getting some more information tonight on the breaking news we`re covering on the hospitalization of former President Bill Clinton. I mentioned earlier this hour we had a statement from his spokesman which said on Tuesday evening, so two nights ago, President Clinton was admitted to UCI, that`s University of California at Irvine Medical Center, to receive treatment for a non-COVID-related infection. He is on the mend, in good spirits, and is incredibly thankful to the doctors, nurses, and staff providing him with excellent care.

I mentioned also that CNN had then reported that President Clinton had been in California on Tuesday for an event related to the Clinton Foundation, had felt unwell, had been checked into UCI Medical Center and was being treated for a blood infection. Again, that`s CNN reporting that we have not confirmed. They said he`s effectively being treated for sepsis, being treated with antibiotics.

Now we`ve got a joint statement from two of the doctors who are involved in President Clinton`s care, I`m just going to read it you to verbatim.

Quote: President Clinton was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center and diagnosed with an infection. He was admitted to the hospital for close monitoring and administered IV antibiotics and fluids. He remains at the hospital for continuous monitoring. After two days of treatment, his white blood cell count is trending down and he is responding to antibiotics well. The California-based medical team has been in constant communication with the president`s New York-based medical team including his cardiologist. We hope to have him go home soon.

The reference there to his cardiologist is relevant here because former President Clinton has had both heart surgery in recent years, in 2004, and some years after that had a further procedure to put a stent, to install a stent. So that is why the cardiologist is being referenced here.

But don`t take it from me. Let`s talk to a doctor who understands these things better.

Joining us by phone is Dr. Vin Gupta, assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Dr. Gupta, thanks for joining us. I thought we were only getting you by phone, I`m happy to see your face.

DR. VIN GUPTA, CLINICAL CARE PULMONOLOGIST: Good evening, Rachel. Good to see you.


MADDOW: So, help us read between the lines a little bit here. We have -- there is some reporting from CNN which we have not confirmed that this is a blood infection and that he`s being treated for sepsis. We do not know if that`s true. That`s not what this statement from his doctor said.

They said he was admitted for close monitoring, administered IV antibiotics and fluids, he remains at the hospital now, this would be a third day, presumably, for continuous monitoring.

What does that say to you?

GUPTA: For your viewers, I`ll take a step back.

What is sepsis? It`s the body`s response to an infection, pneumonia, or let`s say you have a urinary tract infection. Whatever it might be, Rachel, that`s the body`s response. You might feel altered, you might not feel like yourself, you might feel confused.

Your blood pressure might be lower. You might be breathing really heavily, you might have high fever, which it sounds like in the case of President Clinton, or if you even have, for those that have oximeters at home, you might have a low oxygen level. So, that`s the physiological state of sepsis.

To your question here, did the president have an infection in his blood, so did they take labs or a lab culture from his blood and did they grow out a bacteria? We don`t know. So the question first and foremost is, how is he doing on arrival, 48 hours ago to UC Irvine? Was his blood pressure low? Was he confused? It sounds like he was fatigued, unwell.

They did what they were supposed to do, they started him on broad spectrum antibiotics, very powerful, the best way to make sure you survive sepsis is early intervention. So fluids to keep your blood pressure up, antibiotics to make sure you`re covering any possible source.

The second question, Rachel, is what`s the source? Is it a non-COVID pneumonia? Does he have a pneumonia from another source, from cold and flu season? Did he have a skin infection that traveled to his blood? Was there something else? Maybe -- I mean, all these things sound scary to viewers. Was there a urinary tract infection? We don`t know.

I`m sure this workup has already been done and they probably know the answer to it. The fact that he`s already well, probably transferring out of the ICU in the next 48, 72 hours if not sooner, are all good prognostic signs. Early treatment, early intervention and an early rebound, Rachel, are all great predictors for getting out of the ICU and ultimately getting back home.

MADDOW: Now, they`re saying after two days of treatment, his white blood cell count is trending down. How should we understand that?

GUPTA: That`s a great sign. There`s the sort of clinical systems I went through, heart rate, respiratory rate, fever. Then there`s what we get on our lab values. We get that lab culture of our blood, is there something growing, like a bacteria or a fungus.

Then we also get basic labs like our white blood cell count which for our viewers out there, that`s the cells in your blood that are fighting off infection. If they`re really high, that means, gosh, you might be fighting off an infection. If they`re coming back down again, that means the president is responding to therapies.

That`s why that`s a really good clinical indicator, that`s a quantitative lab indicator saying the president is getting better. So that`s a really good sign.

MADDOW: When the doctors who put out this statement said they are consulting with his cardiologist, obviously this incident seems to have happened in California, he was hospitalized in California, he`s been hospitalized since Tuesday and remains there, they say they hope to have him go home soon. But for somebody who has had heart surgery, who has had a stent following heart surgery, what should we understand in terms of additional risk there, or how heart issues might interact with some of these other threats that you`re talking about?

GUPTA: Absolutely. So anybody that has sepsis is at risk for a clinical condition called sepsis cardiomyopathy. What is that? That`s basically weakening of the heart. That`s because sepsis creates inflammation throughout our body, Rachel. So you can actually have inflammation of the kidneys, inflammation of the lungs, in this case inflammation of the heart.

Did that happen to former President Clinton? We don`t know. But because he`s had a cardiac history, he`s had prior stenting, he might have a heart condition at baseline.

Sepsis on top of that could reduce that function even further. That`s why they`re consulting with his New York-based cardiologist to make sure there`s a nothing else they should be doing. The fact that he`s already turning out, he`s having conversations, it sounds like, all those things are good signs. His heart is pumping blood to all his vital organs.

Ultimately the question will be, what therapy is he on, Rachel? Is he on medications to support his blood pressure, to support his heart? Those are questions that reporters hopefully will be getting clarity on in the coming hours and days. But if he`s on medications to support his heart or to support his blood pressure, that`s also an excellent sign. This is a great preemptive move by his doctors at Irvine to consult with his cardiologist because of the effect of sepsis on his heart.

MADDOW: Dr. Vin Gupta, pulmonologist, affiliate and assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations at the University of Washington, Dr. Gupta, thanks for joining us on very, very short notice to help understand these statements from former President Clinton`s doctors -- I really appreciate being able to call on you tonight.


GUPTA: Thank you.

MADDOW: Again, the breaking news tonight, former President Bill Clinton hospitalized in California. He was hospitalized on Tuesday evening. It is now Thursday evening. That means he has been there for two nights already. His doctors are not saying he is being released. They are saying we hope to have him go home soon. they`re describing him being treated with IV antibiotics and fluids for an unstated infection.

There`s some other news sources reporting on what the character of the infection may have been but from his physicians tonight saying he is responding well to treatment and white blood count trending down. Again, Dr. Gupta just explaining that those are the cells that would fight infection. They would be in very high numbers while fighting infection and coming down would be a good sign the infection was subsiding.

They are saying this is not COVID related. They are saying they are in consultation with his cardiologist. He had serious heart issues in the past.

Again, Bill Clinton, tonight, former President Bill Clinton hospitalized tonight in California, upbeat but still concerning statements from his spokesman and doctors tonight. We`ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Stay with us.



MADDOW: Yet more breaking news tonight turning into one of those nights.

We`ve got a resolution this evening, a resounding resolution to one of the Trump administration scandals, one of its truth is stranger than fiction scandals and dramas -- which was then President Trump and his political allies attacking the FBI for having the temerity to investigate Russia intervening in the 2016 election to try to help get Trump elected and the Trump campaign`s awareness of that and willingness to accept the help and potential collusion with it.

You`ll recall that when Donald Trump became president, the director of the FBI was James Comey. The deputy director of the FBI was Andrew McCabe. When Trump fired James Comey, McCabe ascended and became the director.

Andrew McCabe was one of the FBI officials who opened the counterintelligence investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia while Russia intervened to help Trump. Trump frequently railed against Andrew McCabe, as if he were some kind of Democratic operative or deep state operative or something out to get him.

In a move of almost unbelievable spitefulness Trump`s Justice department under pressure from Trump fired McCabe in 2018 literally hours before he was scheduled to retire. The importance of that, the material importance of that was by firing him short of his retirement date, hours short of his retirement date, that deprived Andrew McCabe of the pension he had earned in his decades of service at the FBI.

Well, today a settlement in the lawsuit that Andrew McCabe filed against the U.S. Justice Department. A settlement, a lawsuit in which he alleged he was fired for political reasons. And as obvious as it was that he was fired for political reasons it is remarkable to see the terms of this settlement tonight.

Because, boy, did Andrew McCabe win this thing. He will now get his full pension. He will get all of the retirement benefits that were coming to him. He will get about $200,000 in missed pension payments.

The Department of Justice will expunge any mention of his firing from FBI personnel records. In effect he will be unfired. He will even receive the traditional FBI retirement cuff links which cannot have been the most important thing about the way he was snarkly fired by a president out to smear the FBI to save his own skin but, still, there will be some measure of satisfaction I imagine when the cuff links arrive in a cute little box.

The settlement tonight in the Andrew McCabe case better late than never, right?

Stay with us.


MADDOW: That`s it for us for now on this unexpectedly busy news night. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.