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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/25/21

Guests: Taylor Dumpson, Elizabeth Warren


Interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat Of Massachusetts. CNN is reporting tonight that Biden puts a Republican in charge of national election security, Kim Wyman.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" on this Monday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: What a fantastic interview. That was awesome, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: The whole back half of the show was awesome. That was amazing. Well done.

HAYES: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.

So, tomorrow, President Biden is going to be in Virginia, campaigning in the governor`s race there. Virginia is going to elect a new governor a week from tomorrow. It will either be Democrat Terry McAuliffe, for whom President Biden is campaigning tomorrow, or it will be Republican Glenn Youngkin, who is endorsed by Donald Trump.

Now, polls in Virginia show that as of now, it is a tight race. As a matter of odds and history and statistics, the Democrats really have their work cut out for them in this race. Over the course of my lifetime, and I`m old. I was born in 1973. I know, right?

Over the course of my entire life, every time a new president has been elected to the White House, the other party wins the Virginia governor`s race the following year. Virginia holds its governors races in off years, in odd years, and so there`s always a governor`s race after a presidential election. The year after.

And it happens every single time that whoever the new president is who just won the presidency, the other party then wins in Virginia, every single time.

When I was 3, Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, a Democrat, obviously, then in 1977, a Republican wins for Virginia governor.

Then in 1980, it was Ronald Reagan who won the presidency, obviously a Republican, and so, in 1981 it was a Democrat who won the Virginia governor the following year. It happens every time.

When George H.W. Bush won in `88 as a Republican, Democrat won as governor in Virginia. When Clinton won in `92 as a Democrat, Virginia governor`s race went to a Republican in `93. When George W. Bush, Republican, won in 2000, a Democrat won the Virginia governorship the following year.

After Obama won in 2008, that`s how we got Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in 2009. After Trump won in 2016, we got Democrat Ralph Northam elected governor in 2017.

It is uncanny, every single time since I have been alive it has gone this way, and since we just got a newly elected Democratic president last year, if Virginia holds to this long established pattern then the Republicans are, you know, cast by the fate as the likely victors in this year`s Virginia`s governor`s race. That is, you know, if you follow the odds. If you follow the history here, history would say that the Republicans have an edge.

That said, this year the Republicans have picked a Trump guy as their candidate. They didn`t have to, but they did. They picked a Trump endorsed candidate right after Trump just lost Virginia by more than 10 points.

This weekend, "The Washington Post" editorial board, obviously their home readership includes a lot of Virginia, "The Post" stripped the proverbial hide off of Republican Virginia candidate Glenn Youngkin. It`s kind of election eve editorial you really don`t expect from that particular editorial page. But, oh, my God, did they not hold back.

Quote, next month`s elections in Virginia -- excuse me, next week`s elections in Virginia coincide with a singular moment in U.S. history in which one major party has turned against accepting the results of free and fair elections. That momentous juncture poses a character test with all Republicans that turns on this question: Will they stand against the assault on democracy`s basic precept or will they tolerate it?

The GOP gubernatorial nominee in Virginia Glenn Youngkin has failed that character test. A wealthy private equity executive turned political newcomer, Mr. Youngkin has indulged and encouraged Republicans who have swallowed former President Donald Trump`s lie, that last year`s presidential election was stolen, and American elections are not to be trusted. Few stances could be more subversive to the American experiment or more corrosive to a pluralistic system`s fundamentally legitimacy.

Few shine so bright a spotlight on the candidate`s courage and commitment to the Constitution or lack thereof. Quote: It seems likely that Mr. Youngkin knows that U.S. elections, including last year`s presidential contest, have been largely free of any significant fraud or cheating and that to suggest otherwise is flat out dishonesty.

Nonetheless for months as he sought the gubernatorial nomination, and while Mr. Trump promoted those lies and refused to concede the results of the election, Youngkin refused to acknowledge that President Biden was fairly elected, or that allegations that the 2020 election was stolen were baseless allegations.

To the contrary, during those months, Mr. Youngkin`s number one policy proposal, and the only one for which he supplied any detail, was to establish a state commission on election integrity, and idea that winked at the prevalent and baseless idea among Republicans that elections are fraudulent.

He dodged a question about whether he had been in Congress, he would have certified Mr. Biden`s election, unsolicited he raised questions about Virginia`s voting machines can be, and insisted that they should be audited, which they already are.

He attended an election integrity rally at Liberty University, in Lynchburg. When asked by a hopeful Republican voter whether the courts might reverse the 2020 election results, Youngkin dodged, saying that courts move slowly, and it`s, quote, unclear whether they might reinstalled Donald Trump as president.

"The Post" concludes, quote: This is not an everyday campaign dispute. We might disagree with Mr. Youngkin on, say, Medicaid expansion, without arguing that his stance is disqualifying. But at a moment where democracy itself is under assault, Glenn Youngkin chose to dignify fundamental fiction that is subverting our system, rather than stand up squarely for the truth. In so doing, he proved himself unfit for office. End. End of the editorial.

That`s "The Washington Post" this weekend calmly but completely eviscerating the Republican who is running for governor next week in Virginia.

It`s one thing for the paper to say, we prefer this one candidate over another. It`s another thing to say, yeah, one of these two guys is unfit for office. There was a test for character in this race, he has failed it.

As we head towards that very important governor`s race next week. Again, history doesn`t favor the Democrats here. The polls show it`s very tight. That said, they`re running this Trumpy guy. Trump just lost Virginia by ten points. It`s going to be a very, very close contest, if the polls are right. It`s going to be fascinating to watch. It`s obviously very consequential.

This is also worth watching as we head to election day in Virginia. The Democratic Party of Virginia`s just filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service, accusing the Post Office of a failure to process and deliver election-related mail in a timely manner, potentially leading to the disenfranchisement of Virginians seeking to cast absentee ballots in the statewide Virginia election on November 2nd. They`re asking the court to order the Post Office to prioritize and expedite election related mail, ahead of next week`s election.

The party singles out three counties, all of which voted for Biden over Trump, where they say they have particular concerns about unscanned, unprocessed election materials piling up.

I should just mention here that the Post Office is having a minute right now. The guy who was appointed under Trump to run the Post Office, his name is Louis DeJoy, he`s still in charge. Even though he is personally under FBI federal criminalization, on top of that, last week, NBC News reported on new documents that were obtained by court order which show that Louis DeJoy`s conflicts of interest are way worse than what was previously known.

We knew already that his old company which is still financially benefits from, his company got a $120 million contract from the Post Office last year, while he is running the Post Office, and while he`s still benefits financially from that company, that he just gave $120 million contract to. Wait a minute.

Beyond that even, he has had a financial stake in 13 other major companies that have been doing business with the Post Office, while he has been running the Post Office. And I -- it`s not subtle. Last year, JPMorgan Chase announced that four months, it had been in talks with the Post Office about potentially putting Chase Bank ATMs in Post Office lobbies across the country. That`s nice. That`s nice for Chase Bank, particularly nice for the head of the Post Office, who at the time of those talks had a large personal financial, stake in JPMorgan Chase. Oh really?

All that on top of him promising to increase the cost of sending mail this year, specifically for the Christmas season. Like `tis the season. Everybody likes to mail things for Christmas, so he`s going to give the American people a special Christmas present this year, especially hikes postal rates just for Christmas.

And that`s on top of the new plan he is just started implementing, to make the U.S. mail service, permanently slower and permanently more expensive. Except apparently for Christmas when he`s making it even more expensive than that.


Happy merry. Merry happy. Enjoy the holiday.

And now he stands accused in federal court in Virginia of screwing up the mail, that it potentially is going to mess up another election.

According to the Democratic Party of Virginia, this lawsuit they just filed, unscanned, unprocessed election mail piling up in particular in three Democratic-leaning counties that Biden won last year in this just eight days before the election in Virginia.

Thank you, Louis DeJoy. You`re doing a great job. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But it is not this guy.

Here`s the other thing though that`s going on in Virginia that is worth paying attention to both in its own right, but also because this is going to be a blockbuster thing, that`s going to be unfolding at a very high profile way in Virginia, this week and into next, and beyond, just as Virginia voters are going to the polls in this super important tight election. It is now, just over four years, since a rotten assortment -- if you`ll forgive me -- of neo-Nazis and white supremacist, and anti-Semites, convened in Charlottesville, Virginia, to basically terrorize that town, in the University of Virginia campus.

This was the "Jews will not replace us" torched lit march. The guys with rifles and pistols and clubs, and chemical spray, and swastikas flags, marching through Charlottesville, surrounding the only synagogue in Charlottesville, assaulting counter protesters ultimately one of their number, and devout neo-Nazi, rammed his car at high speed into a group of counter protesters, killing one of them, a young woman named Heather Heyer, injuring at least 19 other people, some of them quite severely.

The guy who deliberately drove that car into that crowd is now facing not one but two life sentences, without the possibility of parole, plus another 419 years on top of that for good measure.

But, just days after the debacle in Charlottesville, a very interesting legal strategy started to come together, to try to pursue some kind of accountability, not just for that murderer, now convicted murderer, but for the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, that did not just plan to come to Charlottesville to speak their, minds they planned the violence there.

And we know that in part, because it leaked screenshots, of these guys planning and promoting the Charlottesville event online, interactions online which showed them promising and hyping and celebrating that it would be violent in Charlottesville, that the violence would specifically target Jewish, people and people of color.

Quote, there is a atavistic rage in us, deep in us, that is ready to boil over. There is a craving to return to an age of violence. We won a war. That`s in advance of the Charlottesville event.

And quote, if you want to defend the South and Western civilization from the Jew, and his dark skinned allies, be at Charlottesville, on the 12th of August.

Also this one. Next up Charlottesville, Virginia. Final stop, Auschwitz.

They exchanged these fantasies and plans about fighting with violence in doing violence to Jewish people and black people and black people of color. They exchanged fantasies in plans about driving vehicles into protesters, which is, of course, exactly what happened.

As one extremism expert at Cal State-San Bernardino just told NBC News about this case, quote: We have to tolerate bigotry in the marketplace of ideas, because of the First Amendment. But when that bigotry turns into conspiratorial violence, there is redress.

Well, the redress that is being sought here is by nine plaintiffs who were harmed by what happened in Charlottesville, including a minister who was assaulted by the neo-Nazis, four people who were injured in the car attack that killed Heather Meyer. A Jewish woman who was hounded and stopped by these anti-Semitic thugs.

Their case is spearheaded by a group called Integrity First for America, and they brought this issue on behalf of these nine plaintiffs against a big broad swath of defendants, 14 individuals and ten groups, all far white right nationalist, white supremacists, neo-Nazi extremist groups and individuals, all involved in the planning in executing of the Charlottesville event. This is the trial that is just starting right now in Charlottesville, just a week ahead of Virginia choosing its next governor.

The case in Charlottesville went to jury selection starting today, the trial is expected to run for the next four weeks or so, but it`s already proving to be sort of a nightmare for the planners of what happened in Charlottesville.


Here, for example, is the headline on this case today, and this case recently, on "USA Today", lawsuit over Charlottesville Unite the Right rally has crippled white supremacist groups and leaders. Quote, a federal lawsuit against the organizers of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has rattled hate groups and white supremacist leaders. The suit already has helped to dismantle some of America`s most well-known white supremacist, and it has financially crippled one leader of the so-called Alt-Right, the white supremacist and nationalist movement that came to prominence under President Donald Trump.

Richard Spencer, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, said, quote, it`s very stressful, and very costly. Spencer acknowledged that the Integrity First lawsuit has taken a toll. Along with the constant stress, the lawsuit, he says, has cost thousands of dollars to defend.

In June 2020, Richard Spencer told the court that the case has been financially crippling. Now he`s been representing himself in court. He`s representing himself? Serving as his own lawyer? You don`t say.

Whatever else has happened in your life today, I bequeath you this. Little warm fussiness to hold in your heart. The Nazis are representing themselves in court. Acting as their own lawyers.

That always works out great. Good for them. Couldn`t happen to a nicer bunch.

That one Richard Spencer is representing himself in court, because other lawyers started -- stopped wrapping him when he stopped paying him. Another defendant lost his lawyer when he quit, because he started spewing anti- Semitic threats against one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.

Three of the defendants have managed to hold on to their lawyer, but their lawyer is a gentleman from Ohio who said he is representing these three clients out of the goodness of his heart because he agrees with them. He himself wants to, quote, oppose Jewish influence in society. And so, he has taken their case. That`s why I`m sure he is going to be a great lawyer. Sounds like he`s got mad skills, emphasis on that.

At least two of the defendants in this case have gone into hiding. Seven of the defendants have already had a default judgment levied against them by the court. It`s basically the civil suit equivalent of a guilty plea, arranged on their behalf by the court after they ignored court orders refused to comply with them. They had default levied against them already.

One of them, the leader of the National Socialist Movement -- where have I heard that name before? He tried to say he didn`t need to comply with court orders because he dropped his phone in the toilet. It was an accident. There it was, plop in the toilet.

So, to his mind, that mean he didn`t need to respond to the court anymore produce any documents by court order. You would be surprised to learn that the court disagreed. "Oops I dropped it in the toilet" isn`t a legal defense to compulsory proceedings.

So, some of these guys have already lost the case already by default judgment. Three of them are facing fines over $10,000 already as sanctions from the court. And did I mention they are only at the point of jury selection? That thing hasn`t even gotten started yet.

The point of this litigation, overtly, is to bankrupt the neo-Nazis and white supremacist, the individual leaders in the organization who made Charlottesville happen, who promised that it would be used as an occasion to bring violence in the name of white supremacy and to terrorize black and Jewish people. That`s what they did Charlottesville four, that`s how they planned, it that`s how they carried it out.

Holding them accountable for it by a civil lawsuit is an unusual thing in this day and age. It is already succeeded partially and taking them apart.

And I say this tactic is rarely used, but it`s never used. If it sounds familiar to you as a viewer of this show, it may be that you are remembering a story we covered here in 2019. The story of a brave, brave, accomplished young woman. Her name is Taylor Dumpson.

In 2017, Taylor Dumpson was elected student body president by her peers at American University in Washington, D.C., just the first ever African American elected to be student body president there.

In response, somebody hung nooses and bunches of bananas for the extra racist kick, all over the campus of American University. After there was some publicity about that, a prominent neo-Nazi website, run by one of the defendants in the Charlottesville cases, that prominent neo-Nazi website took up the case, so to speak, and they doxed her.


They posted her personal information online, and they encouraged the monsters who frequent that neo-Nazi website, that they should step up the attacks on her. Keep it going, and worse.

What would you do in that circumstance? Having every avowed neo-Nazi in the internet coming for you? After those physical threats already?

Well, she responded by going on offense. She brought a case led by the national lawyers committee for several lawyers under law. Her hate case was held by very, very, able lawyer named Kristen Clarke, who we had her on the show to talk about at the time. Kristen Clarke, you remember, you may recognize, she is now the head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, appointed by President Biden. She now serves there under Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The young woman who brought that case, the civil case in which she sued the living daylights out of the neo-Nazis who organized these attacks on her, her case was successful. She won a large monetary judgment against the Nazi who won that website who orchestrated those attacks.

She herself has since graduated from American University. She then went on to graduate from Cardozo School of Law. She now joined the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, same organization that represented her and won her a case against the neo-Nazi website in 2019.

Taylor Dumpson now works as a civil rights attorney. Earlier today, she spoke about her case at the Justice Department Civil Rights Division Virtual Conference on Confronting Hate.

And Taylor Dumpson joins us now live. She`s the presidential fellow at the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Ms. Dumpson, it`s a real honor to have you here. Thank you.

TAYLOR DUMPSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Thank you so much for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So let me start first of all by asking if I got any of that wrong, and also by asking how you`re doing. I imagine this has been just an incredible flexion point, turning point in your life. It seems to have set you off on the path you`re on now.

DUMPSON: Absolutely. The hate crime, to say the least, definitely changed my life, and the cyber harassment that ensued afterwards continued to do so. I`m definitely one of the lucky ones. I`m one of the people who have survived. I take it as an obligation and a responsibility to share my story because unlike Heather Heyer, you know, I`m able to share my story as my own person and on my own behalf.

Luckily, Heather has her mother, Susan Bro, and other folks around there to advocate on her behalf. But as a survivors and one of the lucky ones, I`m here to share my story.

MADDOW: What should we understand, obviously you`re now a practicing civil rights lawyer yourself. You have been through this process through a very unusual circumstance given what you went through. What should we understand? What should the country understand about this strategy, about using civil litigation, in which the victim, as the plaintiff goes after the perpetrators through civil litigation basically to try to bankrupt them, make them literally pay for what they have done?

How should we understand that in terms of its overall effectiveness against these kinds of crimes or at least this kind of behavior, but also what kind of difference it makes to victims?

DUMPSON: Absolutely. So civil litigation is just one of the many tools available to survivors of hate incidents and hate crimes, to be able to bring their perpetrators to accountability. In my suit, we were able to sue three of the individuals who cyber harassed me online as well as the Daily Stormers parent company, and they were using a novel kind of idea using public accommodations as that avenue, and so basically you`re not allowed to discriminate against people because of places of public like schools and hospitals and other places like that that are accessible to the public.

And so, being able to use, you know, litigation and civil remedies as an avenue for people to be able to hold their perpetrators accountable is one of the ways. So, being able to see what the lawyers are doing and the Charlottesville litigation is really amazing.

MADDOW: Are you encouraged by what`s happening in Charlottesville? I mean, one of the things that`s unique about the case is there is a broad swath of defendants. They`re not going after, you know, a single entity, a single defendant who had a key role in organizing those things. It is a murderer`s row of neo-Nazi leaders, white supremacist organizers, and the organizations that they have been able to cobble together over the years.

Obviously, if this litigation is successful, it`s going to be a death blow to a lot of those groups because they`ll never be able to have a dollar to their names. What do you make of that as that sort of broad strategy they`re taking, taking on the whole movement all at once?

DUMPSON: I think it`s send ago very strong signal to folks in that movement that survivors will speak out, survivors will use their voices and use every avenue available to them, including litigation to hold people accountable. And so, luckily, defendants like Andrew England have been forced into the shadows because of litigation like the case I was able to bring, like the case that`s being brought right now, and like some of the other cases that have been levied against them.


And so, I hope this is a fatal blow to their movement, and people know that survivors will continue to use their voices.

MADDOW: Taylor Dumpson, attorney and presidential fellow with the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law with a remarkable story of her own to how she ended up there. Ms. Dumpson, thank you. Good luck to you, and thanks for being with us tonight. I appreciate it.

DUMPSON: Thank you so much.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead here tonight. Senator Elizabeth Warren is going to be joining us in just a moment.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: When citizens in St. Petersburg in Russia went to vote last month, the ballots included the name Boris Vishnevsky.


And then again on a different line, Boris Vishnevsky, and then again on a third different line, there he was again, Boris Vishnevsky. Same name was on the ballot three times, but it was three different dudes.

One of the Boris`s was a legitimate Russian opposition candidate running to take a seat from Putin`s party basically. The other two Borises were dudes who literally had their names changed to Boris Vishnevsky, just to be confusing. Both of them even mimicked his appearance, so as to doubly confuse voters as to who the real Boris Vishnevsky really was.

Going to those lengths essentially ensured that voters in St. Petersburg wouldn`t be able to tell who the real guy was. Votes for the real Boris would be split, making it easier for the Kremlin aligned pro-Putin opponent to win because the real opposition candidate, no one could figure out which one he was.

That is just one of the next level totally crazy election manipulation techniques from the Putin government in the most recently Russian election. They`ll do basically anything. Nothing is too outlandish, nothing is too humiliating to keep Russians from voting for Putin party or chosen candidates. They play dirty.

And so, opposition leaders have decided they need to play smart. Case in point, a smart voting app designed by allies of Russia`s most potent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. The idea behind this smart voting thing was that because the deck is so stacked against opposition candidates in Russia, all of the posing parties should team up and vote tactically, everybody should join together, put all their other differences aside, and each district where there was voting, they should coalesce around a single candidate who could beat the Putin candidate.

So, if you were a Russian voting this last election, you download this app, enter your zip code, and you would then be told by the app which opposition candidate in your district had the best chances of taking down a member of Putin`s party. That smart voting app, that whole idea was such a big threat to Putin and his party that just days before their national election last month, the Russian government started harassing Google and Apple, literally threatening to prosecute Russian-based employees of those companies if Google and Apple didn`t pull the app from their App Stores.

And Google and Apple said, sure, okay. No problem. They caved. Right before the election, the companies pulled the app from their platforms, letting the Russian government have even more control over their already rigged elections, and kneecapping the opposition in their best effort, their best hope to finally stand up candidates against Putin`s party.

Google went one step further, they also blocked Navalny`s YouTube videos. They blocked YouTube videos that Navalny and his allies posted to help coordinate this opposition voting, the smart voting strategy. Google blocked the videos at the demand of Putin`s government.

Today, "The Washington Post" published an eerily resonant story, along those same lines, except this time it involves the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, and the nation of Vietnam. Here`s how they put it, late last year, Mark Zuckerberg faced a choice, comply with demands from Vietnam`s ruling communist party to center antigovernment dissidence or risk getting knocked offline in one of Facebook`s most lucrative markets.

And so, in the months leading up to Vietnam`s process, which choosing new political leaders in January, quote, Facebook significantly increased censorship of anti-state posts giving the government in Vietnam near total control over the platform, according to local activists and free speech advocates.

That decision, and Mark Zuckerberg`s reportedly personal involvement in it, that is just one of the mounting revelations that has come out of what`s being called the Facebook papers, a trove of documents provided by Facebook whistleblower to a consortium of news outlets around the world. It`s been making headlines all weekend and into today. There`s dozens of stories that have derived from these documents, dozens of stories, and multiple news outlets, nationwide and worldwide.

And I`m sure we`re going to get a lot more stories out of these documents in the coming days. One of the more harrowing pictures that is starting to form already revolves around what appears to be a fairly routine test that Facebook does to see where it`s algorithm is leading its users. In the summer of 2019, a researcher at Facebook made a dummy account, a fake account for a person named Carol Smith.

This fake Carol Smith persona was set up sort of generically, a politically conservative mom from North Carolina, from Wilmington, North Carolina. She expressed in her Facebook profile an interest in politics, and parenting and Christianity and followed just a few other Facebook accounts, including Fox News, and President Trump, and that`s it. Just sort of a bare bones profile.

And this fake account, this Carol Smith account never expressed any interest in conspiracy theories of any kind. But nevertheless, it only took two days that Facebook recommended that that person, Carol Smith should join groups dedicated to QAnon, the conspiracy theory that Democrats are a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, that drink children`s blood and are all going to be executed in a mass public execution at Guantanamo. Really? Carol, so soon.

And then even though the researcher running the fake account did not engage with those groups, with those recommendations to join the QAnon groups, within a week, Carol Smith`s feed was filled with hate speech, and disinformation. That researcher published the story of that dummy account`s journey in a 2019 internal report of Facebook called Carol`s journey to QAnon.

But even after that was found and reported inside Facebook by their own researchers, nothing happened. At least not a lot happened that we can tell, and that was not a stand alone incident. An incredibly similar thing happened with the dummy account in India in 2019. Instead of a conservative mom being told to go full QAnon, though, in this piece, the dummy account was a 21-year-old Indian woman set up as a generic account set up without expressing much interest in anything, very quickly being flooded with quite disgusting, quite lurid anti-Muslim hate speech and propaganda.

The Facebook researcher who build that account said, quote, this test user`s newsfeed has become a near constant barrage of polarizing nationalist content, misinformation, violence, and gore -- again, just by following Facebook`s recommendations.

Now, in response to these test cases, Facebook has pointed to changes it says it made to make the platform safer. It also has made progress in working to stop abuse in countries where there`s a heightened risk of conflict and violence. It`s clear that the problems that tech giants like Facebook are both facing and creating are complex, but are also really, really not getting better over time.

And if we are looking to these companies to show bravery and backbone, so far, the evidence that they are capable of that or inclined in that way is getting worse over time, worse over time, and seemingly acutely worse recently. How do we solve for that. And who is in charge of solving for that.

Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us about that and more next.



MADDOW: This was a paid advertisement that ran on Facebook in October of 2019. It says, quote, breaking news, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for reelection. You`re probably shocked. You might be thinking how could this possibly be true.

It was not true. Neither Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg nor the company he runs offered any kind of public political endorsement of any of the candidates in 2020 from either party but there it was, in black and white, in a Facebook ad on Mark Zuckerberg`s own platform, claiming that he had made this endorsement that he hadn`t really made. Here was it showing up nevertheless being seen by thousands and thousands and thousands of people even though it was false.

Reason this ad was allowed to stay up on Facebook was because it was paid for by Elizabeth Warren and her presidential campaign. According to Facebook`s own rules, that essentially gave her a free pass to lie as much as she wanted, to say whatever she wanted on Facebook`s platform as long as it was part of a paid political ad for her campaign.

Ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign, Facebook announced that any ad paid for by a political candidate would be exempt from Facebook`s fact checking protocols. The practical implication of that is exactly what you think, politicians were formally allowed on Facebook to spread any lie they wanted about their opponents with total impunity. That, for example, is how Donald Trump was allowed to run Facebook ads falsely accusing Joe Biden of corruption.

With her deliberately transparently false ads, Senator Warren set out not only to test the system but also to demonstrate how dangerous Facebook could be with only stupid rules in place, without proper safeguards in place make sure they weren`t just spreading known base lies.

That was just in response to the policies of Facebook that we knew about publicly. As we learn more about how Facebook operated behind the scenes, about how the company`s recommendations and internal incentives steer every day people to violence and conspiracies and hate all over the world, now that we know about it, what are we supposed to do to address it?

Joining us now is Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Senator Warren, it`s really nice to see you. Thank you very much for making time to be here.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Thank you, it`s good to be with you.

MADDOW: So you drilled down on this issue so specifically in the 2020 campaign, in 2019. I`m wondering, given all the new information we have just learned from the Facebook whistleblower, what sticks out to you right now as the most important thing to focus on?

WARREN: Two years ago, I really thought we needed to break up Facebook. Today, I really, really, really think we need to break up Facebook.

And think of it this way, you know, you have a telephone. I have a telephone. We may use different telephone companies, but we can call each other. We can make that work, with all of the postings, all of the social media you want to do.


But the reason we need to break up Facebook is that it`s critically important that there not be one worldwide company that basically has all of the information from everyone. Because they have made it clear what they care about first, second and third is profits, profits, profits, and if that means doing the dance with dictators, if that means telling Donald Trump or Elizabeth Warren you could run ads that lie about your opponents, then they`re fine with that as long as they keep raking the bucks in. And they`re so damn good at it because they have so much information about everyone.

So my view on this is it is time to break up Facebook now.

MADDOW: Is it any more likely that that will happen now than it was in 2019 when you were so vocal about it just a couple of years ago?

WARREN: Yes. We now have ahead of the FTC who has written about the dangerous that this kind of monopoly poses to our country. And understand, it`s an economic monopoly.

You want to buy an ad on Facebook, you know who you go to, you go to Facebook. You go to the dealers, every part of this is controlled by Facebook. The pricing, the buyers, the sellers, every part of it.

But the other part is that they understand the political risks that a company like this threatens. Also, we now have someone in the Justice Department who had shown that he has the courage to stand up to monopolists like Facebook. So I`m really encouraged. We have good laws. I`d like to strengthen them, but we have good laws on the books, and we have people who I believe are going to be willing to pick up those laws and start using them. It will be a tough fight, but my money`s on them.

MADDOW: In terms of getting to the kind of goal that you`re talking about, whether or not the break up of Facebook ultimately happens, and I hear you when you describe why it`s more likely than it previously was, is there room for the Congress essentially to establish regulation in this field around human rights, and around the protections for pluralistic democracies? I mean, if Facebook had been compelled by U.S. law to not respond to a dictator, to not respond to the Putin regime in Russia, and take actions to disadvantage opposition political candidates, if they were constrained by U.S. law in terms of how they were able to answer demands like that, would that make a difference?

MADDOW: Sure. We could have written much better laws over the last decade to be able to constrain. Now, it`s tough, you know, we`ve got lots of free speech issues, and the regulation would be difficult. There`s no doubt about it.

But, yes, we could have done better, but, Rachel, that`s the reminder about what`s wrong with monopolies. It`s not only what they`re doing out of the marketplace, it`s what they`re doing to Washington. It`s how much power Facebook and its lobbyists have in Washington.

And they`re the ones who keep Congress from acting. You know, the reason Congress doesn`t act is because millions of users across the country are saying, oh, please, you know, don`t make life a little tougher for Facebook. I don`t want to have the option of picking from eight or ten or 20 different companies that are competing for my business. I also want to go to Facebook. That`s not the reason at all. It`s the concentrated power.

Remember, that when Teddy Roosevelt, remember the famous trust buster, came in and started breaking up those giant companies around the turn of the last century. The reason he gave was not just about economic power. It was concentrated political power. He did it, he said, to save our democracy.

Well, it`s come to us again. We need to break up Facebook to save our democracy.

MADDOW: Senator Warren, while you`re here I would be remiss if I did not ask you about the reporting in the "Washington Post" over this weekend that you`ve been sort of huddling with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema who`s been, forgive me, sort of one of the reasons we don`t have major progress in the Senate, and therefore in the country on President Biden`s agenda.

Can you tell us anything about what Senator Sinema is willing to talk to you about and where she might be in terms of how this is going to resolve?

WARREN: So look, I`m not going to talk about private conversations but what I will say is that as Democrats it is important for us not only to have a package of the things we want to get done like universal child care, and universal preschool, and expanded health care, and fighting back against climate change, but also that we pay for it in a way that helps unrig the system at least a little bit.


And sure, I like to see us raise corporate rates, raise individual rates, but that`s still not going to solve some of the key problems. Right now, billionaire individuals and billionaire, profitable corporations are paying either little or nothing in taxes, and that is wrong. So we have an opportunity right now to do a billionaire`s tax for, yeah, Jeff Bezos. I`m looking at you. These guys who declare $83,000 in income and, of course, control billions of dollars in assets, and companies like Amazon that declare $10 million in profits publicly and pay nothing in taxes.

If we come in and do a tax on the fewer than 700 billionaires we`ve got and we do it based not on their income, we got to do it based on what they own, and we do a minimum corporate tax, we cannot only help fund a lot of that child care and climate change fight that we need to fund, we can also help make the system a little fairer. So we`ve got some possibilities here.

MADDOW: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts -- it`s great to see you, Senator. Thanks for being here.

WARREN: Good to see you.

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



MADDOW: A late-breaking twist in the news tonight. It is about elections. The Biden administration apparently choosing its new top official to keep future elections free of foreign and domestic interference. This is a job that has had some attention, particularly in 2020. This is the Homeland Securities Election Security chief at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, better known as CISA.

CNN is reporting tonight the administration is expected to name to that job a woman named Kim Wyman. Now, Kim Wyman is current secretary of state in Washington state. She has been in that job since 2013. Again, she is expected to be named President Biden`s choice to be the election security lead at homeland security.

Now, the really interesting news here is that Kim Wyman is a Republican, but as a Republican secretary of state, she has publicly pushed back against Donald Trump`s false election fraud claims about 2020. She`s also been very critical of the weird partisan Cyber Ninjas election thing in Arizona.

But this is an interesting twist. Biden puts a sane Republican in charge of national election security. Hmm.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.