Colin Powell dies at age 84. Progressive Democrats and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) trade comments over Build Back Better plan. Interview with Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: It boosts your protection against reinfection and also provides a comprehensive way to boost immunity in the future that is not just, you know, a natural reinfection.
DR. SYRA MADAD, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST: That`s absolutely much more reliable, much more durable. We`ll probably see the longevity of our immune response. You`re able to boost more in case that`s needed, but it`s better than severe hospitalization or death.
HAYES: All right. Dr. Syra Madad, that was very helpful. Thank you very much.
That is "ALL IN" for this Monday night.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.
President Biden tonight has ordered flags across the country flown at half staff to honor the legacy of General Colin Powell who has died today at the age of 84. Because of General Powell`s remarkable record of service to the United States, his status is just a singular figure in modern public service, American flags will fly at half staff in Colin Powell`s honor not for a day but for every day this week until sunset on Friday night.
General Powell`s legacy is an important, powerful, complex thing that operates on a lot of different levels. We`re going to have much more on his passing coming up over the course of this hour. He`s just about the only American I can think of who was not a U.S. president but for whom you nevertheless need to consult a presidential historian to talk about his role in our country and his role in modern history, how he changed this country as a singular figure. We`re going to do that later on this hour. We`ve got much more ahead on that coming up.
We are also following a number of developing stories tonight. The committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol tonight has released a formal report recommending something that hasn`t been done in nearly 40 years.
Former President Trump`s campaign manager and one-time White House advisor Steve Bannon has lately settled into a sort of marginal role as a right- wing podcaster and effectively a Trump surrogate. He travels around the country promoting the myth that Joe Biden really didn`t win the 2020 election. Former President Trump is going to somehow be reinstated. Steve Bannon has become like the My Pillow guy but without the pillows.
It was less than a year ago that Trump pardoned him for the felony fraud charges. He was facing for his role in a fake border wall fundraising scheme that appears to have separated lots of gullible Trump supporters from lots of their money. Prosecutors that money just ended up going into the pockets of Steve Bannon and the co-defendants. The co-defendants, interestingly, were not pardoned by Trump. And so, the case against them continues. But Bannon got off scot-free.
Bannon has since decided to refuse to comply with a subpoena to appear before the committee investigating the January 6 attack. And subpoenas are not requests, right? They`re not optional. They`re mandatory things.
But Bannon has decided to defy the one that he received from the January 6 investigation. And tonight, the January 6 -- the committee investigating the January 6 attack, they just released a report tonight which recommends that Bannon should, therefore, be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. Now, the committee is going to formally vote tomorrow night to make that referral for prosecution. Then what will happen is that the Justice Department, specifically the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., will have to decide what to do about it.
It has been nearly 40 years since a former government official has been prosecuted for denying a subpoena like this. But hey, you never know. Couldn`t happen to a nicer guy.
That high drama tonight, around Trump`s former campaign manager, he has already had to pardon once, that drama comes as former President Trump himself brought a lawsuit this afternoon against that same committee investigating the January 6th attack. He is basically trying to stop the investigation from getting access to his White House records. Records related to the attack, he filed that lawsuit tonight. We shall see.
But he filed that lawsuit tonight on what is turning out to be a big day for his legal fees already. Before he filed the lawsuit tonight, earlier this afternoon, Trump completed a four and a half hours sworn deposition in one of the roughly ten civil lawsuits that is currently pending against him. This lawsuit relates to anti-Trump protesters who say that they were subject to violence from Trump`s private security guards, at a protest outside of Trump tower or in 2015.
These plaintiffs allege that Trump encourage violence against people who protested against him. They allege that Trump is liable for the violence that they experienced in part that, because the private security guards, involved in this violence, worked for him and he is responsible for his employees conduct. The suit has been around for several years. It has been pending against Trump for a long time. In this case and in several of their cases he was able to delay having to give any deposition, or any other testimony in these cases, because he was serving as president. But now that he`s no longer serving as president the floodgates are starting to open, and starting to appear for these things.
For example, he`s facing another potential deposition between now in the end of the year. In a defamation case brought against him by a woman named Summer Zervos. Ms. Zervos says Trump defamed her when he denied her claims that Trump had sexually assaulted her. It is due to be deposed for that case by the end of the year.
He is facing another potential deposition, and potentially a DNA test, and a similar case brought by a different woman, E. Jean Carroll, who also sells that Trump defamed her when he denied her claims that he raped her.
He is facing another potential deposition in a major fraud case brought against him, by people who said that he was duped into investigating in a bunch of worthless schemes because Trump endorsed them, that case again ongoing, they`ve been seeking a step position now that he is no longer president. That may even have been.
No, there is a bunch more of these. I can go on. There`s a lot of these.
Before today, the last time that he was actually deposed in one of the civil suits was in 2015. When he was elected in 2016, so that`s before he became president. And that case, he was deposed in conjunction with another fraud case brought against him related to his Trump University scam, which he ran for years.
That case did not end well. He gave that deposition as part of his defense in that lawsuit, but ultimately, in the end, he paid out $25 million to settle that case, paid out $25 million. Right before he was sworn in as president.
I almost felt like that was sort underplayed us for Trump ascending to the presidency. We should`ve noon at the time that that was auspicious for right before his presidency. Who else pays out $25 million to settle a massive fraud suit against him right before becoming president? We should`ve known, that should`ve giving us an inkling as to how things were going.
But that was in 2015. And the Trump university fraud case that cost him $25 million, that was the last time he had to do one of these depositions before the one he did today. All the other ones were put on pause while he was president. As of today, they have started back up. So we are watching that.
Also as of tonight, we got eyes on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Justice Department has gone into the Supreme Court on the issue of Texas`s abortion ban. You`ll recall that the Supreme Court allowed that Texas abortion ban to go into effect in September, last month. The Justice Department is fighting it.
Today, DOJ basically asked the Supreme Court to look at the case from a different angle. Then the way they previously looked. That Justice Department wants the Supreme Court to block the law basically on the grounds that Texas can`t do something that deliberately violates the U.S. Constitution, and block the federal courts from reviewing it.
So again, the Justice Department could`ve gone back to a lower appeals court, they have decided instead to try their luck with the United States Supreme Court. It appears that the Supreme Court has some appetite to potentially fold that in with the other major abortion cases that is coming their way. Before the end of the year, a Mississippi abortion case with antiabortion candidates, will be the vehicle by which come conservative Supreme Court`s finally eradicate the protections of Roe v. Wade once and for all.
We shall see. Eyes on the Supreme Court in that case, tonight as well.
So there`s a lot going on. And on top of all of that, when it comes to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party trying to get its act together, trying to unite around a strategy to pass the legislative agenda for which President Biden was elected, on this long saga that we have been watching of the Democrats, mostly coalescing around President Biden`s agenda, while some holdouts basically stop progress towards these things actually passing Congress. Today, a remarkable thing happened. Today, the people you actually want to be in the same room together talking one-on-one, fighting it up between them, today those people finally did get in the room together, personally, one-on-one.
Let me explain what happened. These are the first real signs that the heretofore, frozen negotiations about how to pass President Biden`s agenda, those frozen negotiations maybe starting to thaw.
Here is the situation. Tomorrow, the White House is scheduled to hold another round of meetings, separate meetings, with Democratic moderate, and Democratic progressives, to talk about path forward of the Biden agenda, for the Build Back Better Act. Today, ahead of those meetings, President Biden met separately with one key progressive Democrat, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who is the chair of the progressive caucus.
Throughout this whole progress, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, has been the lead negotiator for the progressives. She successfully mobilized the progressive caucus to withhold their support for a much smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill as a means for making sure that the much Bigger Build Back Better act would also get a vote. That it would not be killed in the United States senate.
Now, she has been the lead on the progressive side. On the moderate side, on the centrist side, there is not really a need for a single lead negotiator, because all the centrist Democrats trying to trim down this bill could frankly fitted into a forester and could not fight over who gets known cup holder. There just aren`t that many of them.
On the progressive side, we`ve got Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, effectively acting as an emissary, for the nearly 100 members of the progressive caucus. But really for all the Democrats in Washington, who are all but united around want to see President Biden`s agenda pass as possible. For that reason alone, it`s notable that Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, was at the White House today for more talks directly between her and President Biden.
What is even more interesting in newsworthy, as what she did after her meeting with President Biden. It was NBC News`s Garrett Haake, who was first to report this afternoon, that Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, after meeting with President Biden today, she then held a two-hour meeting with the other guy had named Joe who`s in the middle of this trauma. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal met for two hours with Senator Joe Manchin. Finally, the two people who need to be in the same room fighting this out are in the same room fighting this out.
Senator Manchin is, of course, one of the two, count them, two, Democratic senators who have been blocking this thing, who have been insisting that President Biden`s agenda should not pass. He and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, want to shrink the presidents build. The Build Back Better bill, they want to strip out some of its provisions, or we aren`t exactly sure how much they want to strip, out or what they want to, shrink or what they want to be smaller, or if they care about it being smaller. Depends on what they want, depends on what kind of move they`re in.
Over the weekend, it looked like Senator Manchin was starting to ratchet up his resistance to present the president`s agenda at all. "The New York Times" reporting on Friday that the core climate provision of the bill we`re likely to be stripped out of it because of Joe Manchin`s singular opposition to those.
On Sunday, yesterday, "Axios" reported that he had come out with a whole new list of ways that he wanted to cut down the very popular child tax credit. That Democrats passed on the COVID relief bill and want to make permanent.
At the same time, everybody else at the party`s frustration with Joe Manchin seemed to have reached a bit of a tipping point. Friday night, Senator Bernie Sanders, another key progressive in this negotiation out of the budget committee and the Senate, he wrote an up at for Senator Manchin`s hometown paper in West Virginia, "The Charleston Gazette Mail" explaining why he thought that was Virginians would benefit from the key provisions of the Build Back Better Act, which Senator Manchin opposes.
The stuff that Senator Manchin says he does not, like Senator Sanders wrote that all of those things would help West Virginia. He wrote, quote, pull off their poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation. Get the political problem we face is that in a 50/50 Senate we need every Democratic senator to vote yes. We now have only 48 yes votes, two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
Again, Senator Biden -- excuse me, Senator Sanders, publishing that in Senator Manchin`s hometown paper in West Virginia, which Senator Manchin very much did not like, he doesn`t like anybody else talking to West Virginia except for him. He responded to that in a sniffy statement that said in part, quote, this isn`t the first time an out of state or has tried to tell West Virginians what`s bad for them, despite having no relationship to our state. I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs. No op-ed from a self-declared independent socialist is going to change that.
So, all of that made it seem like the progress for Democrats figuring something out, coming to some kind of resolution seemed like the prospects were getting more and more remote, as Senator Manchin seem to be more and more dug in, and more and more prickly about it all the time.
But then, the time today happened. I mean, for the first time since these talks began, you have the lead progressive negotiator, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, somehow managing to get into the same room as one of the two elusive senators holding up this deal.
From the very beginning, it was felt those of us who aren`t politician, those of us who watch this because we care about the policy, and because we care about the human drama of it, those of us who aren`t politicians have sort of instinctively felt, couldn`t Jayapal and Manchin just talk about this, and kind of figure it out? They both seem like they have an argument to make, what if they just made it to each other without anybody else there, couldn`t that get us there? Couldn`t Senator Sanders and Senator Manchin`s in the same room, talk about it, one-on-one?
Obviously, they`ve got both got points to make. If they talk about a one- on-one, in the same room, at length, could they get somewhere? Those of us watching from the cheap sheets have sort of had that instinct all along.
While today, those conversations finally happened. Sources telling NBC News tonight, that during the conversation between Jayapal and Manchin, each of them laid out their priorities for the Build Back Better bill. They reportedly did not get into a specific back and forth over how they were going to resolve their differences. But they each laid out their case to one another, directly, in the same room, at length.
And again, this was the first meeting between Jayapal and Manchin and it went on quite a while apparently, about two hours.
And, also, today Senator Manchin held another one-on-one meeting, with senator Bernie Sanders. Following that meeting, a notably should chipper Senator Manchin, even stop to pose for a picture with Senator Sanders while the two were leaving the capital walk into their cars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I want to get a picture of us?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We`re talking.
SANDERS: We`re talking.
MANCHIN: You`re going to have a resolution by the end of the week?
MANCHIN: We`re talking.
SANDERS: We`re talking.
REPORTER: Senator, are you prepare to make some deep cuts to climate change and other things like that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sort of heard Senator Manchin sign of say something to Senator Sanders there as they both got in their cars.
According to NBC News Capitol Hill producer Frank Thorp, who was there at the moment, what`s Manchin said there, to senator Sanders was quote, never give up Bernie. What does that mean?
Just before we got on the air, CNN reported that in addition to Senator Manchin meeting with Senator Jayapal today, I`m meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders today, Senator Manchin also apparently, had a direct phone call with President Biden today. Does this mean that things are changing? What does it mean that they keep progressives in this fight are now meeting one- on-one, and directly, with Senator Manchin? Who was the guy who was -- got his thumb in the dike here.
What`s he saying to them? One of these meetings like? Do these indicate progress?
I have just a person asked. Joining us now is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She is chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and she has had quite a day.
Congressman Jayapal, it`s a real pleasure to have you here. Thanks for making time.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): It`s great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, again, I`m watching from the cheap seats, as is everybody in the country who is a stakeholder in this fight, who cares about this policy, who knows how transformative they have this bill would be if it passes. And even people who aren`t invested in the policy, who just can`t believe the drama and have this ruling out across personalities and across time.
What can you tell us about that meeting with Senator Manchin, and how we should understand it in terms of whether this thing is going to get done?
JAYAPAL: Well, Rachel, I have said for sometime that we`re going to get them both done. We are going to get them done. It`s a messy process.
Democracy is not always easy. Negotiation is not always easy. There are differences, everybody knows that there are differences. We got to bridge them and we have to come together, because at the end of the day, we have to deliver both of these bills. The infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better act to the president`s desk.
I have always been to happy to talk to anybody. It was great to spend time with Senator Manchin today. I am not going to get into the details of what we talked about, but I just think it is important for us to be talking to each other. I felt that way for some time. And, I think that those conversations are important to have. Because we`re not going to be able to make progress endless we all talk to each other.
And so, that`s what today was about. Also, meeting with the president and really, again, this is the president`s agenda and I`m really proud of the progressive caucus for what we did to actually get the Build Back Better Act back on the table.
And have us negotiating on it. Have a real discussion around it. Because unlike the bipartisan bill, which you and I talked about, and I think we were both kind of skeptical honestly that it was going to get done, but it took five months, and eventually it got done. But, this also has really only been two weeks of negotiation. It`s only since the progressive caucus said we`re not going to do one without the other that we then were able to get people to take this negotiation seriously. And come to the table.
And that`s what we`re doing right now. I`m not saying it`s going to -- I don`t know that it`s going to be done tomorrow. We`re going to keep having this conversations, I`m back at the White House tomorrow, with some of my progressive colleagues.
I know the president also doing another meeting with some of the other centrist Democrats. But, this is important. And I do think it`s important that the president himself, has been really engaged, because I`ve been saying on TV, and I`ve said it to him directly, he thanked me for this, it`s the president`s agenda.
This is the agenda that Joe Biden ran on, the Democrats ran on, and now we have to deliver it, all of us. And he is at the center of that, and he is working very hard to get us to resolution.
MADDOW: Do you believe that Senator Manchin wants to pass the Build Back Better Act. You said at the very top your remarks there, that you believe that both of these things will pass. If he doesn`t want Build Back Better to pass, it won`t pass. Do you believe that he wants a bill, and it`s just a matter of finding what it is that exactly that he can say yes to?
JAYAPAL: Yes. I do believe that. I do don`t think he would have all these discussions if that wasn`t the case. There are differences. Some of them have been reported in the papers. There are differences in terms of what are states -- I mean, one of the things that`s always interesting for me, when I`m talking to people that are from very different states, it`s just to listen and here. Okay, what is it like in your state and vice versa.
And so, I think that is an important part in getting to understand where someone is coming from, and any negotiation that I`ve ever been in. And I think, obviously, the main negotiations have been happening primarily between the two senators and the White House, and then between us in the White House.
But this was an important step for us to listen to each other directly and to be able to say that, for example, for me to be able to say, yes, I do believe that Senator Manchin wants the bill to pass. Is it a different bill then the bill I want to pass? Yes. Are we going to get to some resolution? I believe so.
But, it may take a little bit of time. It may look opaque on the outside. And, it may be frustrating because, you know, I don`t think everybody`s going to get everything they want. And I think that is true. That is the reality.
But, can we do something that is truly transformative for the country that really does provide universal child care, pre-K, home and community based care, a real investment climate? I mean, all the big -- housing, all of the things we`ve been talking about. I do think that we will deliver something very transformative, for the country. I really do.
MADDOW: You just sat there that, nobody is going to get everything they want and the bill that you want to pass is not the same bill that Senator Manchin wants to pass.
I have to ask you, and I mean this quite literally, does Senator Manchin think that he is going to get everything he wants? Does he actually think that he gets to decide the full scope of the bill and he doesn`t have to negotiate? And I asked that, not to be snide, but specifically because the critiques that summer Senator Sanders has made, I think, really resonates with me, which is that and everybody who wants to pass this bill, is willing to talk about what it`s going to be, it can`t -- the results of negotiation can`t be that two people get to dictate that they get everything they want. There has to be some meeting in the middle.
I don`t know that Senator Manchin shares that though, do you feel like do you know that after meeting with him today?
JAYAPAL: I can`t speak for him. I mean, I really can`t speak for him. I`m certainly not going to defend his position.
I just think that, you know, I think that probably he would`ve been fine -- well, I don`t I`m not going to speak for him. I just think that we are going to get this bill done. It is going to be more than some people wanted. It is going to be less than one other what people wanted.
What I`m concerned about is, is a transformative? Is it going to be a massive investment in people`s lives, in improving people`s lives, so that Rachel, at the end of the day, they actually trust us in government to deliver? That is to me is the biggest thing here.
And that`s what I`m looking at, at every piece of this, with that lens. Are we going to be able to get people to trust, that we did, if not everything that we said we were going to do, but a substantial portion of it? And one of the things that the president`s head, he said it in Connecticut, he said it to me today, we are going to fight for everything. We might not just get everything in this particular moment. But we aren`t giving up on any of this, for the longer term.
But we got to be able to deliver, at least something transformational. And that`s, I think that`s -- I mean, I -- you know, look I`m an optimist. Can you be in politics without being an optimist? Can you be an organizer without being an optimist?
I`m an optimist. I believe we`re going to get there. I don`t think it`s going to be simple. I don`t think it`s going to be clean. I think people will need to have a little bit of patience. But I think we`re going to get there.
MADDOW: Briefly, Congresswoman, a follow-up meeting with Senator Manchin. Any plans to meet with Senator Sinema?
JAYAPAL: You know, I had a conversation with Senator Sinema already. And I`d be happy to have another one. I think the key thing here is I am ready to talk to anybody, anywhere, literally, at any time, because we got to get this done. I mean, we have to work to deliver things that make people say my life is better. That`s all I want at the end of the day.
People wake up and say, you know what they fought for me and they made my life better. And maybe I didn`t get everything but they thought fought for me and they made my life better. And I want people to be able to say that, and I think we`re in a bill to do that.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the congressional caucus - - very much in the room where it happens today, both with the president and Senator Manchin. Thanks for keeping us apprise. I have the feeling we`re going to be prying with you more about these conversations in days ahead. Thanks for helping us understand, I really appreciated.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: A vision of optimism and also relentless this from the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus there. This is going to be remarkably dramatic.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Finally, let me say how honored I am that so many of you found me worthy of your support. It says more about America than what it says about me. And one generation we have moved from denying a black man service at a lunch counter to elevating one to the highest military offer some nation, and being a serious contender for presidency.
This is a magnificent country. I am proud to be one of its sons. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: General Colin Powell, in 1995, announcing that he would not make a run for the U.S. presidency. General Powell had retired from the U.S. military, two years earlier, in 1993, public opinion polling at the time showed that he was the single most popular public figure in United States of America at that time.
Before you made that speech in 95 announcing that he would not run for the presidency, it was very possible that he would run. He had written two speeches, one announcing that he`d run, and one announcing that he wouldn`t. Either was possible. He had written a memoir that was a smash success. People mobbed his booked events as if it were campaign events.
He did travel including to some of the crucial early states. He did some campaign style events to basically test the waters if running for president was going to be right for him.
Colin Powell had been an independent and legitimate nonpartisan throughout his 35 years of military service. Both parties in fact, considered him as a potential standard variant in the presidential campaign before he did test the waters in 1995. But in 1995, when he was testing those waters, he made clear that he was a Republican. He said so after leaving the military. The nomination he thought about pursuing for 1996 would have been a Republican Party presidential nomination, which meant that in 1996, you would`ve been running to try and make Bill Clinton a one term president. If he had succeeded in the Republican primary, and received his party`s nomination, that general election last year would`ve been an incumbent president, Bill Clinton versus Republican nominee Colin Powell.
My friend Steve Benen who is a longtime producer on the show, he writes MaddowBlog, he was a White House intern that day in 1995 when Colin Powell announced that he would not run for president. Steve told me today, quote, you`d be amazed to how many people in the Clinton White House that day were watching General Powell`s speech live, because the stakes were so high.
Looking back at it now, looking back at the huge margin in which he won the election in 1996, in retrospect seems like a fait accompli. The Clintons was always going to get reelected. He was never really in danger. He was always never going to be a two term president.
But during Bill Clinton`s actual first term, in 1995, the prospect of running against that one guy, the prospect of running against Colin Powell, made blood run cold in the Clinton White House. Again, the single most popular public figure in the United States of America.
But he decided not to run. General Powell died today at the age of 84. In complications of COVID-19, he was 84 years old, he had survived in the earlier battle with prostate cancer. He had Parkinson`s disease. He also had multiple myeloma, which is a form of cancer that meant that he was severely immune suppressed.
Being vaccinated against COVID-19, as General Powell was, a greatly reduces your risk of getting COVID, it greatly reduces your risk of get dying from COVID if you do get infected. But, with the rest, as is true with unvaccinated the population, age, and medical comorbidities, make things worse with this age and his other medical issues.
He was profoundly vulnerable in the case of infection. And ultimately he did not survive. By now, you have heard over and over again almost be unbelievable resume and list of first. He was national security advisor for President Ronald Reagan. He was chairman of the joint chief of staff. President George H.W. Bush, and to President Clinton. He was secretary of state to President George W. Bush, left government office in 2004.
At each of those tears of achievement, Colin Powell was the first African American to hold any of those positions.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Gene Robinson at "The Washington Post" wrote today, quote, Powell long knew how his obituaries would someday describe him, the first African-American secretary of state, the first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first African- American national security adviser to the president.
Robinson wrote, quote, there`s a special pride but also a special burden in being the first black, fill in the blank. Colin L Powell shouldered that responsibility while giving the impression that the weight was as light as a feather.
He was the son of immigrants from Jamaica. He was born in Harlem, raised in the South Bronx. He went to the City College of New York, entered the Army through the ROTC program. He was highly decorated for two long difficult combat tours in Vietnam.
He was the youngest one star general in the United States Army by the time he was 42 years old. He led the invasion of Panama. He led the First Gulf War in 1991.
But his impact on the country was beyond even what he did in the U.S. military, and the strength of his example as a public servant. It was profoundly political. He announced that he was a Republican in 1995. He announced that he could no longer consider himself a Republican this year, after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6.
That said, he was still a Republican, and he was a decades-long friend of John McCain, someone who was floated this potential running mate, in 2000, when Colin Powell instead shocked the country by endorsing the Democratic campaign that was running against John McCain. He endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama for president. That was two weeks before the election in 2008, and some people say that the election might as well have descended then.
If Republicans needed permission to cross the aisle and vote for this Democrat, Barack Obama, nobody could provide more powerful permission slip then Colin Powell did two weeks before that election.
His political impact was profound. And it was complex. Of course, in the first sentence of every obituary of General Powell today, along with all of the firsts, and there were many of them, there is also the apex tragedy of his time in public life. His 76-minute long speech on February 2003 to the United Nations, in which he made a long detailed, fairly impassioned, and ultimately profoundly false case to the world, that the United States needed to invade Iraq and urgently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I remember listening to that live when it happened, listening to his opening lines and being bewildered. That this man, Colin Powell, was making this case. But, of course, it was him.
The tragedy of that moment unfolded soon interact with the U.S. invasion and in the lives of everyone touched by that catastrophic war which was launched on those false pretenses. But the tragedy of that moment was because of who he was.
It was only because General Colin Powell had so much credibility, rightfully earned, that they put him out to make the most unbelievable, unsustainable, ultimately, unforgivable false accusation for the Iraq War. If they hadn`t had him, they would not have made that case that way. If they hadn`t been able to put out somebody of lesser stature, lesser reputation, less widespread respect. If they hadn`t not him, they would`ve had to a lower in making that case.
The false pretext for the war was that much more false, and that much more spectacularly made, specifically because they had him, because they had someone so respected to use as a mouthpiece for it.
And for that, General Cohen Paul lost to us today, is a tragic figure, not a victim, he wasn`t willingly or unwittingly used. He knew what was. Up that speech was something he spoke bluntly about within two years of making. It was a source of lifelong regret for him about which he was outspoken.
And for all of us, we are all more than the worst and we have ever done, right? In the case of Colin Powell, he was so much more than that terrible worst thing that he did, which again, was a lifelong source of regret and which will inflict forever our understanding in how he changed American life, American history, in ways hard to attribute, in ways a large, and small. But ways large for people who are U.S. president, in ways almost never attained.
Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss.
Mr. Beschloss, it is great to see you. Thank you for being here tonight
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Oh, thank you. Wonderful to see, Rachel, as always, and I thought you beautifully captured this amazing tragic paradox of Colin Powell that we are thinking about tonight.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about the sort of frame that I put on about this, and why wanted to call you about it today. I do feel like there are sort of the early days of American history. Some of the Founding Fathers, some of the important founding fathers were never president, and some of the important figures in U.S. history in our ancient history were not presidents.
But in modern time, I don`t know if that many other figures, who had the kind of direct personal inflection on U.S. history, in military terms, and in political terms, and in our understanding of public service, then Colin Powell did. I mean, you are a presidential historian, but I didn`t know who else to call today to get the big picture look at him besides you.
BESCHLOSS: No, you are absolutely right, and, you know, you are talking about the fact that the Gallup poll found in the most popular man of more than one year. How many non-presidents do? Or non-popes? Pretty rare. And shows that he was a figure in American history --
MADDOW: Excuse me, I want to ask you about his decision in 2008 to endorse the candidate Barack Obama. I said, sort of slightly tongue-in-cheek about a lot of people looking back at that and, thought it`s two weeks before the election, but he could event the election then. It was such a determinative moment in that election.
Is it fair to look at it that way?
BESCHLOSS: Sure it is because McCain`s biggest argument was that you may not like the John McCain, but Barack Obama is not ready for primetime, and the control not been status. And if you and I would have to choose one person two weeks before the election of 2008, to vouch for the fact that Barack Obama would not only protect the nation, but be as, as they called him a transformational figure, and took the heart out of the argument.
MADDOW: In terms of what happened in 2003, I was struck looking at that timeline today, that he had given that speech in February 2003. In 2004, he left government service.
By 2005, he was giving national interviews sort of running his heart over that, and talking about his responsibility, and his great regret for why he did. He did not wait ten years down the road. He was doing that within a matter of months.
That feels like a sort of singular tragedy, as I said, but also remarkable personal moment for him as a historical figure.
BESCHLOSS: Tell us everything about him. Robert McNamara, for instance, quit or was fired, he still didn`t know at that point whether LBJ fired him or not, but left of the Defense Department in 1968, at the time that he was having qualms about Vietnam, but waited for all loss 30 years to write a book saying, we all made the mistakes in Vietnam.
Well, we didn`t all make them. He made them, and a few others. And the other thing is, why do we have to wait 30 years? In Colin Powell`s case, this is someone in such towering integrity and sensitivity that he has suffered from the fact that he had delivered that speech that allowed there to be a war, but privately he had at best, huge reservations about and probably did not want to see a war in Iraq even though he thought there might be WMDs.
And at the same time, if you were trying to torture Colin Powell, what is the one thing you would take away from him? His authority. His credibility. And that is what that speech did.
It wasn`t winning because he believed that the intelligence that he had studied, they had discard a lot of intelligence of what was wrong, but the result was that the one moment of that decade that he would be remembered for would be that speech to the U.N. and he bore that grief to his grave.
MADDOW: Indeed. Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, thank you so much for being here, Michael. It is just a remarkable loss for our country but his legacy is going to be studied for a long time. I mean, the good and the bad of it. But thank you for helping us do it tonight, thank you.
BESCHLOSS: He was flawed, great man. Thank you so much Rachel. Be well.
MADDOW: Stay with us.
MADDOW: It was ten days before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, when "BuzzFeed News" published what has come to be known as they dossier, a series of intelligence reports compiled by a former British spy named Christopher Steele, alleging coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, as Russia was trying to help get Donald Trump into the White House.
The allegations in that dossier have been debated and litigated and investigated and demagogued ever since. To this day, it`s still being investigated by Bill Barr appointed special counsel, John Durham.
But now, two years after the release of the Mueller report, and after being relentlessly attacked and dragged through the mud by President Trump and his allies, Christopher Steele himself is finally speaking for himself, in an extensive interview with ABC News` George Stephanopoulos. And it will drive the critics absolutely insane that he has done it.
But Steele is putting himself out there on camera, and asserting that none of what he reported in the dossier has actually been disproven. And he says he stands by it. If anything, he says, the Mueller report reinforces it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Robert Mueller said could not establish firm evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
CHRISTOPHER STEELE, FORMER BRITISH SPY: Sure, but Robert Mueller was working to -- beyond reasonable doubt without evidence, in criminal cases and prosecutions. And in much intelligence work, you never get to the point where you are 99 percent certain of the evidence, and going to secure a conviction.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So on the whole, in your view, does the Mueller report reinforce the dossier, or refute it?
STEELE: Overall, I think it reinforces. It
STEPHANOPOULOS: How so?
STEELE: Because there`s a whole scale campaign that was organized by the leadership in Russia, that its aim was to get Donald Trump elected, and it was a lot of evidence of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians, which they didn`t report and I didn`t admit to. In fact, they lied about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you stand by the dossier?
STEELE: I stand by the work we did, the sources we had, and the professionalism which we applied to it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you believe Donald Trump is colluding with the Russians?
STEELE: I think that evidence suggests that, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I think the evidence suggests that yes, that is Christopher Steele`s view. And you may be thinking what about that very specific allegation about the tape and -- what about that? Surely, Christopher Steele is disavowing the part of the dossier concerning Donald Trump and prostitutes at the Moscow, Ritz-Carlton, and something that should happen out of it.
Nope, still says in his view, he still thinks that tape probably exists. It remains his view that there was collusion. He believes that tape probably exists.
As for the veracity of the other specific allegations in the dossier, he remains adamant that none of them have been disproven, which, of course, will infuriate absolutely everyone.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Potentially some big news coming on the issue a booster shots remember, that last week an advisory panel to the FDA discuss some promising data that suggested that mixing and matching doses of different vaccines could be safe. And it could be particularly effective for people who got the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Well, tonight, "The New York Times" is reporting that the FDA might grant approval for the mix and match approach, as early as this week.
On Wednesday, day after tomorrow, the FDA is expected to authorize booster shots for the Moderna and J&J. The mix and match recommendation could come that same day, on Wednesday. The CDC will then have its booster shot meeting on Thursday.
What that means is it`s possible, that by the end of this week, all three available COVID vaccines may have an approved booster dose, including the option for mixing and matching between brands, which of course would be a big deal.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow, when I`m scheduled to be hitting a grand slam for the Boston Red Sox. Everybody gets a turn.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.