Interview with Senator Angus King, independent of Maine. The January 6 committee unanimously voted to advance Steve Bannon criminal contempt, the House is set to vote tomorrow.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): We need to keep that front and center, as we talk about the child care, we talk about child tax credit, and we talk about subsidies or housing construction and access, all of that is -- all of that is pulled together.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, thank you so much for your time tonight, sir.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
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.
Lots of news going on today and tonight. Lots of stuff breaking in different directions over the course of this afternoon and into this evening. Tonight, as you may heard, the FDA gave its seal of approval to booster shots, for not just people who had the Pfizer vaccine, but for people who had the other two kinds of vaccines as well, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
And the FDA did make that really interesting recommendation we have been looking out for. That your booster shot doesn`t have to be the same brand as the other vaccine you got in the first place. Again, we had known that the FDA was considering data that showed very promising results for mixing and matching different brands of vaccines. The recommendation tonight is, therefore, not a surprise.
But it is interesting and it will make a big difference in terms of how all of us would have been vaccinated get boosted, when our time comes.
The next up here is for the CDC to do its own independent look at the data, and those recommendations. They`ll do that tomorrow. And then, once the CDC is through its process, we will get formal advice to the public and health providers, as soon as they decide. So, that could be as soon as tomorrow, could be anytime in the next few days. It means that booster shots could be rolling out in a much bigger way, as soon as the end of this week. So, that`s a big advance, in terms of our nations approach to vaccination.
The White House today also put out more guidance to the states, about preparing, getting ready, to start vaccinating kids, ages five and up. Right now, as you know, the vaccines are only approved for kids aged to 12 and up. But the FDA and CDC processes to approve vaccines for younger kids, those processes are well underway. They will probably come to fruition within a few weeks, and the White House is trying to get people ready, to get states ready, to hit the ground running on that as well. So, eyes on that process.
Tonight, we`re also watching a whole bunch of different news breaking in the uncomfortable Venn diagram overlaps between political life and going to prison. And the past five years, two, count them, two sitting members of Congress have been charged with federal criminal felony charges. Congressman Chris Collins of New York, you see on your left, and Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, both of them federal criminal charges, but while they were serving in Congress, within the past five years, both of them Republican, both of them interestingly, big early Donald Trump supporters, both of them were charged with multiple federal felony corruption counts. Both of them resigned from Congress in disgrace. Both of them were convicted on felony charges. And both of them were sentenced to prison. That said, both of them were pardoned by President Donald Trump.
Well, now, we`ve got a third Republican congressman charged while he`s a sitting member of Congress, charged with multiple federal felony corruption charges. This time, it`s Jeff Fortenberry. He`s a Republican congressman from Nebraska. If his case goes south, the way things did for Congressman Collins and Congressman Hunter, Congressman Fortenberry, of course, will not have the Donald Trump Republicans get out of jail free card to cushion his fall, since Trump is no longer president and can`t pardon anyone.
Congressman Fortenberry was arraigned today in federal court. He was charged formally with three federal felony charges. He has said publicly that he didn`t do anything wrong, he`s going to fight the charges, but for now, as of this afternoon, he has resigned from all of his committee assignments in Congress.
And it`s interesting that the rules for Republican members of the House aren`t really all district on this front. Just being formally charged with a crime is not actually enough to make you have to resign from your committees. It doesn`t just have to be any charge. It has to be a felony charge. And not just any felony charge it has to be that you`ve been charged with a felony that could result in you serving more than two years in prison.
Again, it`s not a very high low bar, right? Jeff Fortenberry is charged however with three felonies, that could each put him in prison for five years. So even under the not so strict rules that Congress has to abide by, he has still fallen afoul. And so he will not serve on committees anymore, including the one on which he was the ranking Republican member.
There`s no word yet on whether House Republicans might seek to make Congressman Fortenberry actually resigned his seat, for now he`s office committees, he still continuing to serve in Congress while he`s under federal indictment. Which is nice for him, I guess. We`ve got a bunch of news tonight, in the great state of Michigan, where protesters have physically shut down. They brought a giant wrench and physically shut down a major high pressure petroleum pipeline.
We`ve got news from Iowa tonight, where a cabinet secretary from the Biden administration showed up today to support John Deere employees on the picket line. This is something we can`t find any parallel for from any other presidential administration in minute in modern times. We`re going to be talking about that tonight.
We`ve a course also expecting tomorrow, that the full House of Representatives is going to vote to refer Steve Bannon for prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department. Mr. Bannon, the former Trump advisor, says he will not obey a subpoena from Congress, from the investigation into the January 6th attack. Congress tomorrow is about to vote, basically to ask the Justice Department to make him obey their subpoena, to criminally prosecute him and try to jail him if he tries to continue to defy the subpoena.
So, we`re expecting that vote tomorrow. It`s a party line vote today, and the rules committee, all Republicans voted against referring him for prosecution, all Democrats voted for it. Because Democrats are a majority in the House we expect, even if it is along party lines, that that criminal referral will go up tomorrow and it will be in the hands of the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., which is a very rare circumstance.
Honestly, none of this is normal. None of this is a regular news day. But it is all cooking tonight.
Today, in the United States Senate, Republican senators blocked new voting rights bill, from even getting a hearing, from even getting a debate. All 50 Democratic senators voted for the voting rights legislations. All 50 Republicans voted against it. But even Vice President Harris have come in and given Democrats 51 votes, it still would`ve not passed, because Republicans filibustered this bill, which means it needs 60 votes to pass, not 50. If that means it would be needed ten Republican senators to join with all 50 Democrats in order to get this thing passed.
I know what you`re thinking, I can read your mind through your television. You are thinking of course that bill didn`t get ten Republican votes, of course Republicans filibustered the votes, they filibuster everything. I mean, sure, if you still retain the ability to be shocked by anything, it is shocking that not a single Republican would vote to even hear a bill that does things like, make voter registration easier, make Election Day a holiday, protect nonpartisan election from partisan pressure. It would invest insecure voting systems, require a paper trail.
It would -- this is a bill that even covers Republican priorities. Like recur requiring voter ID. But still not a single Republican senator voted for this democracy want to one kind of stuff, which we shouldn`t lose the ability to be shocked by them, even if it is no longer surprising.
That said, there is one person who must be surprised by today`s outcome. One person who may be in fact be flabbergasted by today`s tally, for all I know. That person`s West Virginia`s conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. I don`t know if there is a fainting couch anywhere near his office in the senate. But he said he was actually sure that this would happen.
You may remember, for many months after President Biden was sworn in, Democrats in Congress were pushing a voting rights bill call the For the People Act. The bill was in fact such a high priority for Democrats the Democratic leaders gave it the symbolic label of bill number one, and the House and in the Senate, House bill 1, Senate bill 1, The For the People Act, Voting Rights Act.
But today`s vote, it was not The For the People Act. The For the People Act effectively died this summer at the hands of Joe Manchin. Senator Manchin said he just simply couldn`t vote for a voting rights bill that didn`t have any Republican support. No matter what was in the bill, as a matter of process, any voting rights legislation had to be bipartisan. Since Senator Manchin is also against changing the filibuster rules in any way, even for protecting the democracy, his stance on this meant that a voting rights bill would have to get ten Republican votes, which he insisted was possible.
Senator Manchin said he had a plan, the problem according to Senator Manchin was not that just Republicans were obstructing this for the sake of obstructionism, not that they were wholesale against any projection for voting rights, he said it was simply, that this For The People Act was the wrong bill.
The Democrats who had written it, had written it wrong, was too broad, too partisan, somehow. It was written in such a way that it was in appealing to Republicans. But that was fixable.
He insisted that all the other Democrats that pushes the wrong way, they had written a bill wrong, but if you wrote the bill right, Republicans would support it. Why wouldn`t they? He insisted his colleagues and to the public and to the press that the other Democrats had just done this wrong way, but he Joe Manchin knew that Republicans supported voting rights and therefore there was a voting rights bill that could get Republican support if it was written correctly.
And then to his credit, sincerely to his legitimate credit, Senator Manchin put his money where his mouth was. He said you know what, I actually know the right way to do this, I will write a new bill. He said he would prove his theory of the case, by jettisoning The For the People Act, that other Democrats supported. He said no, I will write a new bill. I will write a correct bill. I will write the kind of bill, voting rights bill, that I know all Republicans will vote for.
And the bill that Senator Manchin came up with was definitely not everything the Democrats wanted. But if this was the bill that would not only get so man senator Joe Manchin`s vote, but -- he said could get Republicans on board lock, to vote for it, so it could pass. Then Democrats put set put aside their objections, they decided they were on board. -- signed on to Joe Manchin`s compromise bill, and Senator Manchin set out on his quest to find ten Republican senators who would have heard it.
He told reporters this summer, quote, I`ve been working across the aisle with all the Republicans trying to get people to understand that that`s the bedrock of our democracy and accessible, fair, and basically secured voting.
Just earlier this month, he told reporters, quote, we`re negotiating with Republicans in good faith. We`ll see what happens.
Well, today, in the Senate, it was his bill. It was Joe Manchin`s wrote voting rights bill, which he wrote specifically because he knew Republicans would vote for it. That was a bill for that was up for the vote. This was the bill that he insisted Democrats get behind, even though they don`t like a lot of what was in it, because he said a voting rights had to still be bipartisan, and it should be bipartisan, and this was a bill that could Republican votes. Now, lot a single Republican vote today, for this bill, not one.
There was reporting today, a very real provocative reporting that Senator Manchin is considering leaving the Democratic Party. If he left the Democratic Party and became a Republican or started caucusing with the Republicans that would put the Senate in under Republican control. It would be seismic.
After that report in "Mother Jones" today, the senator called the story bull -- well, bullpucky. Reporter David Corn at "Mother Jones" says he absolutely stands by his story. Senator Manchin and announced it as if it was a rumor. David Corn says specifically this was not the rumor, that Senator Manchin`s office knew that.
You know what, it doesn`t really seem like Democrats are Senator Manchin`s problem, right? He wrote the bill to reinforce what he called the bedrock of our democracy. All 49 of his Democratic colleagues supported this bill today, even though a lot of what was in the bill was not stuff that anybody would call a Democratic priority.
As I said, I can only assume that Senator Manchin is shocked by this outcome. After all this negotiation across the aisle, no Republicans would vote for even the bill he specifically crafted, saying that, he was writing it in order to get their support. And so, a majority vote in the Senate isn`t enough with the filibuster on the bill, you means you need ten Republicans to vote with Democrats. There is no Republicans voting with Democrats even on that bill.
And so, the really is only one pathway left, to get any kind of votes rights protection to get past. And that is to change the filibuster, the Senate rule, the filibuster rule, so that it doesn`t require 60 votes to pass something that`s about voting rights. So that Democrats can pass it with a majority of the Senate, without needing ten Republican votes and 60 votes altogether.
Democrats now have tried literally everything else. And Democrats from Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi the speaker on down have been saying for months that a voting rights bill is must pass legislation. Senator Schumer said over and over again, Phil is not an option. Because if Democrats can`t protect peoples rights to vote, the peoples access to the ballot box, and they can`t prevent law the right-wing Trump supporters who don`t believe in elections being decided by the will of the people, they can find ways to protect nonpartisan election administration`s, so those folks east control of election infrastructure in multiple states, well, I mean -- that is kind of the whole ball game, right? You can`t do anything else in democracy if you can protect the democracy.
Democrats are fairly united on the stakes of this legislation. Increasingly, because of those stakes, they are uniting on what they need to do to get it passed.
Take Senator Angus King of Maine. Senator King is an independent and moderate. He caucuses with the Democrats. He is an independent both in temperament, and in ideology, and in name. He was elected to the United States in 2012 as an independent. He was previously the governor of Maine.
When he was the governor of Maine, he was also an independent governor of Maine. He usually votes with the Democrats, but not always. He is one of the senators who was known for seeking bipartisanship even when it seems hopeless to everyone else. It is just the way he operates, it is this political brand. It`s the way he`s built.
He`s also one of the senators who has become sort of attached to the filibuster rule during his tenure. I don`t say that because I can read his mind, I say that because last year he said he was, quote, 100 percent opposed to getting rid of the filibuster rule. He said it is an essential role for preserving the rights of the minority party in the Senate. As recently as this summer, even as Republican filibusters blocked Democratic priorities, he described himself stall as very reluctant, very reluctant to end the filibuster.
But look at where he is now. As today`s vote on Joe Manchin`s legislation approached, even Senator Angus King said he was coming to a new understanding of this issue. He was coming around to the conclusion that the filibuster will need to be changed, to protect voting rights, again, because the stakes are so high here.
He told my colleague Nicole Wallace yesterday that, quote, democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule. And going further than that, Senator King took to the Senate floor and delivered a lengthy impassioned, erudite, interesting, thought-provoking speech in support of today`s voting rights bill. It is worth hearing both because of his moderation and his bipartisan instincts, and his independence, but it`s also worth hearing just a bit of the speech because it is sobering to hear someone like Senator King, right, somebody not given hyperbole to say the least.
It is important to hear someone like him lay out the historical moment he sees our country is being as right now. He calls it a hinge of history that will determine whether the American democratic experiment will survive. It is also worth hearing the very specific concrete threat that Senator King says coming over the horizon, especially arriving as soon as the next presidential election, something that to be honest Republicans really are laying the groundwork for as we speak. The idea that voters in a swing state somewhere, voters in that state might vote for the Democratic presidential candidate in the next election, but that state`s got has a Republican legislature, and that state has decided to give itself the power to overrule the vote in their state, to overall the popular vote outcome.
Now, maybe Republicans have declared it to be riddled with fraud or irregularities. And they can`t prove it, but they know it`s true. What if Republican lawmakers in the state under those circumstances decided they would pick their own slate of presidential electors. Yeah, looks like the states voters paid the Democrat but the legislature is Republican and they`re going to send electors for the Republican presidential candidate to the Electoral College.
More of you voted for the Democratic candidate for president, too bad, we the Republicans who run your state think our state`s vote should go to the Republican. We decide who wins elections.
It`s like a nightmare scenario, right? But this is what Donald Trump was trying to arrange after the last election, this is about Trump`s allies were trying to arrange after the last election. They didn`t succeed that time.
But since then, Republican legislators in multiple states have been bridges pursuing avenues that would allow them to do something like that.
And so, Senator Angus King has now warned about that. He wants Americans and his Senate colleagues to understand, that that kind of Democratic backsliding, that kind of subversion, of an election is not impossible or unthinkable in America. It looks like it`s on its way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): It`s important to remember that most failures of democracy as we look at history, started with legitimate elections. But once in office, the leader manipulated the electoral process to consolidate, or hold on to power, just as was attempted last winter. And once power is seized, the control and reach of the modern surveillance state is truly terrifying, truly terrifying. Ask the Uyghurs in China, where members of the opposition in Russia if you can find any alive.
Russia, Turkey, Venezuela, and Hungary, are all examples of the slide from democracy into authoritarianism that has happened just in our living memory, just in our lifetimes. This is not a theoretical threat, we have seen it already happen in our lifetimes, those countries still have elections but they don`t mean much. And what if the current wave of voter suppression legislation 60 than keeps tens or even hundreds the thousands of people from voting in 2022 or 2024? Or, what if in 2024, a partisan legislature in the swing state and they`re giving themselves this power right now, a partisan legislator in a swing state votes to override the election results in their states and send their own preferred set of electors to Washington?
Then, it won`t just be Republicans who distrust elections, and we will be left with a downward spiral towards a hollow shell of democracy, where only raw power prevails, and its peaceful transfer becomes a distant memory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Get yourself a senator who can speak like that, to an issue like that on the floor of the United States Senate.
Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, urging his Senate colleagues to essentially save our democracy, to save the American experiment, my passing the Freedom to Vote Act. It did not pass today. It did not get a single Republican vote today.
Democrats insist they are not finished. President Biden reportedly reached out to express the support. He`s sort of trying to use presidential juice on this. The White House is still calling in a must-pass priority.
Senator Schumer keeps saying on this, failure is not an option, it can be done. It would just need all 50 Democrats to agree to another change in the filibuster rules. There have been several in recent years. It would require changing the filibuster rules. So voting rights bill can pass with a simple majority.
Even very pro filibuster senators like Senator Angus King of Maine have come around to this idea now on this issue. Is it going to happen?
Joining us now is the independent senator from Maine, Senator Angus King.
Senator King, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate you making time. I know it`s been a long day.
KING: Rachel, it`s great to be with you.
It`s even worse than you mentioned today. Today, was a procedural vote to begin debate on the voting rights bill, which got no Republican votes. It wasn`t a vote on the bill. They didn`t even want to talk about the bill. I think that really, really makes a difference.
And it was -- it was -- I guess you shouldn`t say shocking. It wasn`t really surprising. I didn`t expect to get those Republican votes. But to have them simply say, we just don`t want to have any part of voting rights, what a turnaround. I think it was 2006, the Voting Rights Act was reinvigorated, or re-voted by something like 96 to nothing. Well, that`s not going to happen today.
MADDOW: It was in March of this year, Senator, you wrote an op-ed for "The Post" that has its title, what happens to the filibuster depends on Republicans -- how Republicans play their hand, meaning depending if they allow for common sense voting rights bills to pass, if they work to find compromise on other issues, then there`s no reason -- there`d be no reason to get rid of the filibuster or carve it out on specific issues.
It`s seven months down the road now, how do you feel Republicans have played their hand?
KING: Well, we have had some bipartisan bills, but it wasn`t due to the leadership. It was a group -- sort of a rump group from both sides that negotiated that major infrastructure bill, for example, that got 69 votes. I mean, that was a major accomplishment.
But today is an indication, and what really bothers me, Rachel, is, quite often you have these votes, procedural votes, and then at negotiations. It happened on the CARES Act. The Democrats blocked the consideration of the CARES Act, but that was two, three weeks of negotiations, we ended up with a really good bill that passed unanimously.
What`s happening now, though, is there seems to be no forthcoming discussion from the Republicans. No interest in any part of the bill that we have voted on today, which as you point out was a compromise bill, worked out by Joe Manchin, a former secretary of state, a guy who really believes in voting rights. But they are not coming back with any further discussion.
The filibuster -- and Joe`s theory the filibuster is, it forces bipartisanship, and forces the parties to work together. That theory only works of both of the parties are willing to be at the table, if one of them uses a as pure unadulterated obstruction which is what happened today. Then, you know, that`s when, as you pointed, now I say, you know, democracy has to trump a rule. This is filibuster is not in the Constitution, we need to restore the Senate to what it was back when I worked there 40 years ago.
The filibuster was very rarely used. Now we have to have votes on deputy secretaries of defense, everything requires either a cloture vote for nominees, or 60 votes for anything substantive. That`s not what the framers intended. They didn`t intend a super majority in the Senate and here we are.
Let me give you one piece of math, Rachel, that I think you`ll find surprising. You can get 41 votes out of current Senate which is enough to block any legislation. If you think the states that those 41 senators represent, add up all the population together, you get 24 percent of the American people. So the situation when and now is that 24 percent of the American people have an effective veto, over anything that 76 percent of the American people think is important public policy. I don`t think that squares the democratic theory.
MADDOW: Senator King, when you talk with your colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle, and I`m thinking about Senator Sinema, and Senator Manchin, others who have been reluctant to any other new change to the filibuster rule even issues like this. Are they open to persuasion on this issue?
I wanted to talk to you tonight because your credibility on this issue because you have not been somebody who`s willing to throw out this rule, who has wanted to change out the rules from day one, you were reluctant convert on this issue. And I just wonder if that helps you persuade your other colleagues who are coming from the same position as you, who haven`t come as far as you have.
KING: Well, I`ve have had some of those discussions, by the way being reluctant on this issue is not irrational. The reason for my reluctance is that -- you know, this is a double edged sword. What we view as that noxious obstruction, to use, four years, or six years from now when the shoes on the other friend the Republicans have the majority, we might view it as a precious shield to project -- to protect important environmental laws, or you name it, whatever it is, the ACA for example.
So, you know, this is a hard call because once it goes, it goes. I think that Joe and Kyrsten might be open to not abolishing the rule but changing it into such a way that it enforces debate, it allows debate. That`s the whole idea it is supposed to be a limited debate, not a tool of simple obstruction.
So I think we`ll be searching -- Jeff Merkley of Oregon has done a huge amount of work in studying the details how to do it. Norm Ornstein, for example, I think you know Norm, he has a suggested that say, instead of the proponents getting to 60, the opponents would have to muster 40 or 41, they would have to have other people on the floor. Right now, if you are against the bill, you don`t even have to show up because the pros have to get the 60.
So, there are lots of interesting opportunities, let`s get moving people go to the floor and hold the floor. Most people think has a filibuster you know, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart is talking all night, and that kind of thing. That never happens. A filibuster now is too damned easy. You picked up the phone and call the majority leader and say, I filibuster this bill, that`s it. Sixty votes, you don`t have to hold the floor, you don`t have to do anything.
So I think there is space for changes in the rule that would allow some protection to the minority, but wouldn`t allow the minority to effectively have a veto over important legislation, particularly in this area. If this were a simple policy question on some issue or another, I`m not sure I`d be where I am.
But when it comes to democracy itself, and that`s at what at risk, Rachel, I`ve never been worried about the future of my country, because we are headed for a place where people don`t trust elections, where does that -- where does that leave us?
And we saw on January 6th, those people felt violence was their only option. And I don`t want to go there. And so, that`s why I think this is so important. So, we got to find -- if we do a carve out -- you know, Mitch McConnell will then say, well, we`re going to do a carve out in two years for the right to life or something we consider very important.
And, by the way, it`s possible that Mitch McConnell is licking his chops about this. He hopes the Democrats will get rid of the filibuster and then it`s Katy bar the door for him when he`s the majority at some point in the future. So, this is not an easy call. I want you to realize that there is a lot of really important issues that we are going to have to face in making this decision.
But the bottom line is we have to protect the country, we have to protect democracy. We can`t let this wave of voter suppression, and the changing of the rules that you mentioned happen. You know, this is fragile, and we are in a very dangerous moment. This is the most dangerous moment I think since 1860 in terms of the future of the country.
MADDOW: Senator Angus King, independent of Maine -- Senator King, thank you so much for your time tonight. I know it`s been a long day, a long couple of days already, thanks for being here tonight.
KING: Thank you, Rachel. Great to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is just not normal, but apparently, we`re going to have to get used to it. The immediate former president of the United States is under criminal investigation in the state of Georgia, state prosecutor there is looking at whether his repeated judge badgering of state officials after the elections violated state laws that prohibit intimidating election officials.
Former President Trump`s business was also recently indicted in New York state on an array of serious felony charges related to alleged tax evasion. Former President Trump was also deposed for four and a half hours this week, in one of the ten, count them ten, civil cases pending against him right now, related to allegations of violence, alleged sexual assault, alleged rape, his alleged fomenting of the violent mass attack by supporters on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
This is not normal. This is not a normal post-presidency. Jimmy Carter`s out there building houses for Habitat for Humanity. Bill Clinton has his foundation that`s like planting trees in Tanzania, and getting lower prices for AIDS drugs in poor countries. George W. Bush`s quietly painting away his dark feelings. Obama just broke ground on his library in Chicago.
So far, with this most recent former president though -- it`s pretty much lawyer bills, subpoenas, and FBI raids and that`s it.
Now, today, though, we`ve got a new one. And it is about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUDREY GELFAND, REPORTER: He owns a very large golf course in Westchester and Briarcliff Manor. And he went to court saying that the property`s value was $1.4 million, and we all pay our fair share of property taxes, and we`d like the Trump National Golf Club to pay their fair share as well, because when they don`t do that, it affects our schools, our roads, our police departments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is from 2017. Westchester County, New York, Westchester County just north of New York City, and people who lived there, protest over the fact that Trump wanted a huge discount on the tax bill for his golf course in their town. People walked through the town, holding signs, the signs were about him not paying his fair share.
The signs were like, Trump National is cheating or schools and you will pay more if Trump`s golf course pays less. We pay our taxes, pay yours, Mr. Trump. Our taxes are higher because you don`t pay. Why does Donald duck his taxes? Get it Donald Duck. Also, this is a good one, I`m not a sign gal, but geez.
What that was all about in 2017 was a really local issue, with big consequences for that town. Trump has a big golf course in that town. Everybody who owns property in the town has to pay property tax. That`s why funds the schools and the other services in the town.
The way the town decides how much you have to pay as a property owner is by sending hundreds and assessor to assess the value of your property, and the higher the value of your property according to the assessment, the more property taxes have to pay. Well, in 2017, those pressed ushers turnout in Westchester County because Trump said he didn`t accept the town`s assessment of the value of his property. He thought his golf course should be assessed way lower, so he could pay way less in taxes.
And he didn`t just do that in 2017, the first year that he was president. As a "New York Times" reported today, Trump appealed the assessed value of that golf course habitually. Every year, starting in 2015. And he was trying to reduce his tax bill by a ton.
Here is typical headlines at the time from the local paper, "The Journal News", about what Trump was trying to do. Trump national still wants huge tax cut. Trump seeks 90 percent tax cut at Westchester golf club. Ninety percent, he wants a 90 percent tax cut.
Here`s what that actually looks like. These documents are from 2016. The town comes up in 2016, they look at his golf court in Westchester County, and they say it`s assessed to be $15 million. So, sorry, here`s what you have to pay for taxes, on this $15 million property of yours, this golf course.
Trump appeals that, he says the assessment is insane, he tells the town, there`s no way my golf course is worth $15 million, that`s ten times too much. The real value of that property, the real value of that golf course is one point $1.4 million. That`s what it`s worth.
Well, here`s at least part of the problem, and again, the numbers here sort of easy to keep in your head, the town is telling to pay taxes on into a golf course that they say is worth $15 million. He`s saying, no, no, I won`t. It`s only worth one point $1.4 million. But that same year, in 2016, he files his financial disclosure statement as a presidential candidate.
He files it in May 2016. The United States office of government ethics, executive branch personal public financial disclosure report. The town said the golf course was again, worth 15 million, he said no, I`m not paying taxes on a $15 million dollar property. It`s only worth $1.4 million.
But look at what he put in his disclosure that same year, his official financial disclosure, line 93. Trump National Golf Club, Westchester County, value, over $50 million.
So, to one part of the government he`s telling them, this golf course is worth over $50 million, but for the tax authorities, he saying $1.4 million. How can something simultaneously be worth over $50 million, according to Trump, and only $1.4 million, also according to Trump? How can that be true at the same time? Hmm?
And it`s not like I was a fluke. In his most recent financial disclosure, right before Joe Biden was inaugurated, Trump is still saying his golf club in Westchester County is still worth over $15 million, while telling Westchester County that is worth basically a few nickels, nothing really worth paying taxes on it at all. It`s basically a dump.
Which is fine unless this tax fraud, unless that you deliberately lately misvaluing your property, to illegally evade taxes. And so, here`s "The New York Times" today, breaking the story. Quote, former President Donald J. Trump family business, which is already under indictment in Manhattan, is facing a criminal investigation by another prosecutor`s office that has begun to examine financial dealings on a golf course the company owns. The district attorney`s office in suburban Westchester County, New York, has subpoenaed records from the course and from the town where the courses located. The full scope of the investigation could not be determined by the district attorney -- appears to be focused on least in part on whether Trump`s company misled local officials about the companies the properties values, to reduce taxes.
And again, it is not normal, right, for this many criminal investigations to be stuck to the issue of the immediate former president of the United States, like so much toilet paper trailing his loafers while he speaks out of the men`s room. This is not normal, but this is the post presidency now, in the Trump era. And welcome to it.
MADDOW: When members of Congress where evacuated from the House during the attack on Congress on January six, it was not Nancy Pelosi with the gavel in her hand. Speaker the House had been pulled off the floor sometime earlier and brought to a secure location. Man with the gavel was this man, seen here with a reddish tie in these images. Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern. He was in charge of the proceedings in the house or the speaker`s absence. It was the last to be evacuated in that day.
Jim McGovern was in the room when officers were barricade in the door when off protesters try just physically smash their way inside.
Congressman McGovern talk today about what he saw in those last moments in the House chamber.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (R-MA): I was the last person off the floor on January 6. I came face to face with these people in the speakers gallery, I will tell you if you want me to describe what evil looks like, it`s looking into those faces, in those people, who -- while three police officers were in front of the door trying to protect us, they were smashing the windows open to get at people. The fact that somehow asking questions about trying to figure out why this happened, who is responsible, that somehow that is a bad thing -- give me a break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Give me a break.
Congressman Jim McGovern today, in his capacity as the chairman of the rules committee, the rules committee had a meeting today to work out the details for tomorrow`s vote in the full House of Representatives on whether or not Steve Bannon will be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution, for contempt of Congress. He`s refusing to cooperate with congressional investigation into what happened on January 6.
Last night, the committee investigating the attack voted unanimously to recommend that Bannon should face criminal contempt charges. Tomorrow afternoon, there will be a full vote in the full House, and the Justice Department will have to decide whether or not they are in fact going to prosecute Steve Bannon.
At this rules meeting today, teeing at tomorrow`s vote, there were witnesses. One of the panels of witnesses comprised of two of President Trump`s most loyal defenders in Congress, Congressman Matt Gaetz, and Congressman Jim Jordan. They were ostensibly there in defense of President Trump, but instead they spent most of the time trying to get stand in the garrison or derail the entire meeting talking about border crossings, Afghanistan, President Biden`s son.
The other panel of witnesses was a more sober one, the chairman of the January 6th investigation, Bennie Thompson, vice chair of the investigation, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
Liz Cheney voted with her colleagues on the committee last night in favor of holding Bannon in contempt, and she had a strong message today for her fellow Republican members of Congress ahead of tomorrow`s vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Let me address my Republican colleague specifically, I have heard from a number of my colleagues in the last several days who say they, quote, just don`t want this target on their back. They are just trying to keep their heads down. They don`t want to anger Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader.
I ask each one of you to step back from the brink. I urge you to do what you know is right, to think of the long arc of history. In many nations, democracy has failed because those with authority would not act to protect it, because they sat in silence. History will judge those of us in positions of public trust, will you be able to say you did everything possible to ensure Americans got the truth about those events?
Or did you look away? Did you make partisan excuses and accepting unacceptable?
MADDOW: Republican Liz Cheney speaking to her Republican colleagues tonight. It will be interesting to see if any other Republicans other than she and Adam Kinzinger who`s also on that January 6 investigation committee, it will be interesting to see if any of the other Republicans follow her call there when that full house vote is held tomorrow on whether or not Bannon should be prosecuted for refusing to go along with this investigation.
Today, the number two Republican in the house, Steve Scalise, sent this to every single Republican in the House telling them they must vote no on that Bannon vote tomorrow. This is not the only way Republicans appear to be organizing to try to slow-walk and block the various inquiries into January 6th. At least two Republican senators, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and Utah Senator Mike Lee are currently blocking the confirmation of President Biden`s nominee to be the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C.
It`s the U.S. attorney`s office in Washington, D.C., who will be responsible for overseeing hundreds of prosecutions of people who participated in the January 6th attack. That`s also the office that would head up the prosecution of Steve Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress if the Justice Department tries to do that. Republican says they`re holding up President Biden`s nominee to be that U.S. attorney because the justice department hasn`t responded to a letter of theirs that equates the January 6th attack to the mostly peaceful protests that followed the murder of George Floyd last summer. So there can`t be a U.S. attorney in Washington?
In practice it`s not like the U.S. attorney`s office in Washington is empty right now, while papers keep stacking up on the desk there`s something in that job in an acting capacity who will continue to perform the duties and responsibilities of that office until the president`s pick is confirmed. Blocking this one nominee, therefore, isn`t an effective strategy for blocking the prosecution of Bannon for blocking all the prosecutions of the January 6th rioters.
But sure, you know, knock yourself out, you guys. History is watching. You`ll be in it.
More ahead tonight, stay with us.
MADDOW: The oil and gas pipeline company Enbridge is headquartered in Canada, but lots of its pipelines run through the U.S. That yellow line on top is line five. It runs through Wisconsin from Michigan. The fear of the spill from line five led Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to stop the pipeline this year. And we`re just fighting that order in court.
But meanwhile, protesters have taken matters into their own hands. Yesterday a self-described water protector broke into what he described as a valve station for line five. He called the pipeline company to tell them he was going to start manually shutting the pipeline down in five minutes. Then he climbed under the fence and did so.
For the next 30 minutes or so, he used a pipe wrench to turn this valve over and over again until he couldn`t turn it anymore shutting down the line.
Enbridge told us after this incident the company shut down the pipeline down for several hours out of an abundance of caution. They say it`s now back up and running.
But watch this space.
MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. I will see you again this time tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.