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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/26/21

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Richard Kessler


Interview with Senate Rules Committee, Minnesota Senior Senator Amy Klobuchar. The election for Virginia`s next governor is a week from today. Just a few hours ago, the FDA advisory panel on vaccines voted to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for kids, kids age 5 to 11.


DAVE DAYEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE AMERICAN PROSPECT: And I just think, that what`s the alternative here, right?


DAYEN: It is just to create the hassleocracy to put a tax on people`s time and then, you know, grind the agenda down into nothing and then say, hey, come back. We`ll fix it later.

HAYES: Well, we are going to talk to someone I think maybe tomorrow who has a different view on this, but I appreciate you taking time, Dave, today. Really, that was great.

That is "ALL IN" on this Tuesday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much, much appreciated.

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

You know, maybe it was too good to be true. It would be like John Wilkes- Booth taking his shot at Lincoln at Ford`s Theater, right, jumping off on the stage, you know, sic semper tyrannis, and all that, doing all of that.

But then a few weeks later, he realizes it isn`t going over well and he`s like, okay, yes, I was there. But are you sure it was me who killed him? It was an accident. It was the self-defense or something. Yeah, it was actually a terrible thing about President Lincoln`s untimely demise. I have no idea how that happened. It would be like John Wilkes-Booth doing that.

It`d be like King Kong climbing down from the Empire State Building and being like, who me? What are you talking about? I`m afraid to fight. Actually, I`ve never even been to midtown.

I never met this Fay Wray person. I definitely don`t have a crush on her. I have no idea who that could have been up there. Why do you even think it was me?

It would be like -- like this guy from the Netflix show "I Think You Should Leave." This is actually a clip that Chris Hayes played on his show a little while ago in order to dog Senator Ted Cruz. I had not seen the clip before Chris played it, but I have not stopped thinking about it or laughing about it since he played it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is everyone okay?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened? Did anybody see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone drove a hot dog shaped car through the window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The driver is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody call the cops. We need to find that driver.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They could have killed someone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whose car is this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Come on! Whoever did this, just confess. We promise we won`t be mad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll close our eyes. Just take your car and get out of here!


MADDOW: The guy in the hot dog suit. Come on! It`s so good.

Whoever did this -- so it`s too good to be true. I should have known.

Here`s what I`m talking about. Friday night show, I reported on this remarkable sort of, who me? Like guy in the hot dog suit moment from a man named John Eastman. By now John Eastman`s name is becoming a familiar one. He is one of the people who spoke at the rally on January 6th. He`s the dude in the hat.

This is the rally that turned into the crowd at that rally storming violently into the U.S. capital demanding they stop the certification of the Electoral College votes. Mr. Eastman and Rudy Giuliani spoke right before Trump did at that rally. And what they told the crowd, the two of them, is that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump, that the crowd there that day could stop the steal that day. January 6th they could fix it, if only they could get Mike Pence to do the right thing. If only Mike Pence would evoke some magic authority no one ever knew he had before to refuse to accept the Electoral College votes. If only Pence would do that, that would stop the certification of Biden`s win and Trump could be president again.

That`s all they needed to do. And, so, the crowd marched down to the Capital to get it done.

We would later we learned that that lawyer, John Eastman, was really the guy who invented this concept, that Mike Pence somehow had the power to overturn the election himself, to not accept Electoral College votes from certain states if he didn`t want to. It was his call. He was the ultimate arbiter of whether Electoral College votes counted, and he could just decide some didn`t count.

This is a crazy theory, but John Eastman laid it all out in a memo known as the Eastman memo, and that`s what he used to get the Trump folks on this strategy for January 6th, what they were trying to do that day. It is what he used to persuade Pence himself that Trump should go through with this tragedy and thereby keep Trump in power.

That`s who John Eastman was. But then on Friday, this past Friday, as we have reported here on Friday night, John Eastman was like, the Eastman memo? The who memo? Who me?

Who drove that hot dog shaped car into the building? Who could have done that? We have to find that guy. Definitely that wasn`t me.


On Friday, John Eastman recanted, denied it was him. The conservative magazine "The National Review" published an interview with him in which he basically took it all back. You see the headline there, "John Eastman versus the Eastman memo."

Quote, in two separate phone interviews, Eastman spoke to "The National Review" for nearly an hour total about the memos he drafted and his private meeting in the White House on January 4th with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Pence`s legal counsel and Pence`s chief of staff.

Eastman now says the Eastman memo does not accurately represent his own views or his legal advice to Pence or Trump. Two-page memo written by Eastman proposed that Pence reject certified Electoral College votes. And then either declare Trump the winner or invalidate enough votes to send it to the House of Representatives where Republicans control the majority of delegations, and they would presumably hand the election to Trump.

Quote: But Eastman now tells the national review that the strategy of having Pence reject electoral votes was not, quote, viable. And it would have been, quote, crazy to pursue that.

Yeah. Whose hot dog car is that? Who drove the hot dog car into the building? Who just shot President Lincoln? We better go get that guy. Definitely wasn`t me.

"The National Review" asked John Eastman about his assertion in his own memo that the vice president is, quote, the ultimate arbiter of which electoral votes get counted. Eastman actually wrote two memos, a two-page one and a six-page one. That assertion about Pence being the ultimate arbiter was there in black and white, in both versions of the memo he wrote. That`s the language in his own memo.

He stated in multiple sometimes in multiple versions of it. He now tells "The National Review" about that assertion, quote, this is where I disagree. I don`t think that`s true. He`s disagreeing with himself. He says his own memo isn`t true. And the whole strategy at the heart of the memo he wrote, that Trump could have been somehow re-elected or kept in power if Pence had rejected some Electoral College votes on January 6th, what do you think about that thing you wrote, Mr. Eastman?

Mr. Eastman tells "The National Review", quote, so anybody who thinks that`s a viable strategy is crazy.

Why would you believe that? Why even try? That strategy is crazy. Anybody who thinks that`s a viable strategy is -- anybody who thinks Pence had the power to do that -- cray. It`s just not true. Who would believe that?

He`s talking about his own work.

Now, I highlighted that interview by John Eastman with "The National Review" here on the show on Friday night. Basically as a form of good news. Never do that, Maddow.

But the reason I said it was good news I hope was clear, at least I hope to make it clear. People do terrible things all the time. But if you do a terrible thing and you get caught doing it, try to disavow what you did. Try to pretend that wasn`t you, that at least shows that you know the thing was wrong, that you know it was bad. You`re embarrassed to be associated with your bad behavior you got caught for, right? You would like to avoid accountability for it at least.

I mean, in this instance it is one thing to encourage the overthrow of a duly elected Democratic government. That`s not awesome. That`s why John Eastman is facing potentially being disbarred now. But, you know, once your efforts fail to do that and you get caught trying to do that, you got a couple of options, right?

You could continue to argue for the coup. You could continue to argue for overthrowing the government. Oh, no, it didn`t work this time. But that`s just because there was a glitch or the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is still a good plan. We were right to try it. We should keep trying, right? You could do that.

Or you could do a series of interviews with what you are hoping is a sympathetic magazine in which you try to convince them that you didn`t say the things you said. You didn`t write the things you wrote and you certainly don`t standby those things now. You would have to be crazy to try that. That`s not even true.

So I took it as a sign of good news that John Eastman tried to run away from his memo. I took it as a sign of good news when it comes to this ongoing story of the Republican Party and whether they`re going to evolve out of this new role they`re in as the party that no longer believe else election results are real and should be corrected.

When criminals try to profess, it wasn`t me, they acknowledge it was a crime and they don`t want to be associated with it. On Friday, it seems like that`s where the legal architect of the attempted insurrection of the capital had landed.

Who me?


I didn`t do it. That was crazy. Don`t blame me. I don`t even believe that stuff.

That`s what I thought as of Friday because he took it all back in the "National Review." but it was too good to be true.

Do you know who Lauren Windsor is? Lauren Windsor is an activist, sort of a gorilla journalist who in recent months has been turning Republicans inside out. "The New York Times" actually profiled her a couple weekends ago under this headline.

"The liberal activist who targets Republicans with a MAGA masquerade", pretending to be like-minded. Lauren Windsor has generated headlines by coaxing conservatives into making revealing statements about their views. Lauren Windsor is the person who before January 6th actually published the first evidence that Republican senators were going to be part of this plan to try to get the electoral votes rejected.

It is one thing for that to happen in the house. It is a much more serious thing constitutionally for it to happen in both the House and the Senate. It was Lauren Windsor who first showed us the evidence it was going to happen in the Senate, too when she got Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville to admit that Republican senators were going to object to electoral votes just like the Republican members of the House were going to as well.


LAUREN WINDSOR, JOURNALIST: Are you going to fight to make this election right?


WINDSOR: Are you going to fight to make this election right?

TUBERVILLE: We`re going to fight hard.

WINDSOR: What can y`all do on January 6th? Madison said y`all had tricks up your sleeve.

TUBERVILLE: We`re going to -- just wait for it. You see what`s coming. You`ve been reading about it in the House. We`re going to have to do it in the Senate, too.


MADDOW: We`re going to have to do it in the Senate, too.

Lauren Windsor got that admission from Senator Tommy Tuberville in December and then indeed on January 6th he and other Republicans in the Senate did exactly what he said this. They tried to reject electoral votes from other states.

Her tape of him previewing that strategy was the first anybody knew that Republicans were going to do that from the Senate side as well.

More recently, she got the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, to admit that although, yes, he was very, very, very, very against abortion rights in Virginia and he had plans to act on that if he, in fact, gets elected, he nevertheless planned to keep quiet about his real views during the campaign in the hopes basically that people would vote for him without knowing what his plans were.

She keeps getting these admissions. And she talked about how she does it, when she spoke at "The New York Times" about her method. She turns up her Southern accent a few notches. She waits on the rope line or she waits to get a book signed. She waits to speak with these people at public events. She only goes to public events.

She then tells them flattering things they want to hear, say she agrees with them and they have a tendency to confide in her thins they would not want the public to know. Again, her name is Lauren Windsor. Her organization is called the "Under Current".

And tonight, Ms. Windsor has just posted video of herself talking to John Eastman. She shot it this past weekend on Saturday. That would make this after he supposedly recanted and disavowed his whole proposed legal strategy for overthrowing the election results, right?

Remember his was the strategy to have Mike Pence pull his one neat trick to keep Trump in power. He wrote the memos that created that legal architecture for the whole attack on the Capitol on January 6th to try to get Pence to reject Electoral College votes. He disavowed that strategy, called it crazy and nonviable in "The National Review" on Friday.

But then on Saturday, the next day, speaking unwittingly to Lauren Windsor, turns out he was still saying it could have worked. It was a great strategy. It was a sound legal strategy, if only Mike Pence would have the stones to go through with it. Watch this tape.


WINDSOR: We`re huge Trump supporters and we`re actually at January 6th.


WINDSOR: We saw your speech.

EASTMAN: Did I incite you to go down to the capital and riot?

WINDSOR: You actually incited us to become supporters of Claremont.

EASTMAN: Oh, good.

WINDSOR: And the work that you are doing is so critical to saving our democracy, and it`s like --

EASTMAN: Thank you.

WINDSOR: -- we couldn`t not support your work after that.

EASTMAN: Okay. Well, thank you very much. That`s very kind of you.

WINDSOR: So, thank you. You are really doing the lord`s work.

EASTMAN: Well, and I, yhou know, that`s why, you heard me say it, my old professor said, if you are not catching incoming flak, you`re not over the target. And my God, I must be directly over it because -- yeah. I don`t think there is anybody with as much incoming flak maybe than other Trump himself than I have had in the last six months. I mean, it`s amazing.

WINDSOR: I read your memo and I thought it was solid in all of its legal arguments.


WINDSOR: I was floored that Mike Pence didn`t do anything. I mean, why didn`t he act on it? Because you gave him the legal reason to do that.

EASTMAN: I know. I know. No, it`s -- and now, in a piece in "The Atlantic" two days ago, they`re already anticipating Trump winning in 2024, and they`re using my arguments in that memo they said had no credibility to argue that Kamala Harris can block Trump`s electoral votes.

I mean, it`s like, you know, it`s like, I mean, come on, people, you can`t --

WINDSOR: Basically everyone is going to say, you`re being proven right.

EASTMAN: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Except they`re not saying that, right?

WINDSOR: But that`s what they mean.

EASTMAN: Exactly. Exactly.

WINDSOR: All your legal reasoning is totally solid.

EASTMAN: Yeah. There is no question.

WINDSOR: Maybe like, you know, just supporting the supporter. Why do you think that Mike Pence didn`t do it?

EASTMAN: Well, because Mike Pence is an establishment guy at the end of the day. And all of the establishment Republicans in DC bought into this very myopic view that Trump was destroying the Republican Party. What Trump is doing is destroying inside the beltway of the Republican Party and reviving the Republican Party in the hinterland, right? What they consider to be deplorable flyover country.

And this uprising that Trump got ahead of, he didn`t create the movement. The movement was there. And he saw it and got ahead of it. But, no, they can`t tolerate that because they have nice, cushy livings inside the Beltway.


MADDOW: They all have nice, cushy living inside the beltway.

All my legal reasoning was totally sound. It was correct. It would have worked. This is a way you can overthrow election results. This is a way we could have kept Trump in power, except all squishy establishment Mike Pence didn`t go through with it.

That tape, again, from Lauren Windsor at "The Under Current." She is not actually a Trump supporter who was there on January 6th. She said that to draw out Trump lawyer John Eastman who wrote the real strategy behind the whole insurrection effort.

She`s trying to draw him out about that, she certainly succeeded. And now I know that I was wrong to put any faith in it when just last week we saw him apparently disavowing and denying this strategy.

Disavowing and denying his own work on that, saying that`s crazy. It was totally unviable. That wasn`t a real thing. Don`t ascribe that to me.

I was wrong to see that as some kind of good sign that at least the insurrection guys felt bad and knew it was wrong.

He apparently just decided they didn`t have the right guy in as vice president or the whole thing would have worked.

I supposed to tell you, just, you know, we did back flips today trying to contact Mr. Eastman himself for comment. We tried six different phone numbers we found for him, but no answer at any of them. We left multiple voice messages. We did not have any return.

We texted him using some of the phone numbers we have for him. No luck there either. We did find people connected to him and spoke to a couple people connected to him. One of us -- one of them told us that they would pass on our message to him. Somebody else connected to him gave us a seventh phone number for him, but we had no luck at that number either, went straight to voice mail.

So, we left voice mail. We texted him there as well.

I`m beginning to think we are not going to hear back from John Eastman for comment. But fingers crossed, right? Hope springs eternal.

Also I will never ever report anything as apparent good news ever again. I`m sure I`m the one who just jinxed all of it.

Just within the last hour, "The Washington Post" just reported this same Trump lawyer John Eastman is expected to be subpoenaed by the January 6th committee in Congress, which of course is investigating the attack on the capital in the lead up to it.

The chairman of that committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi told "The Washington Post" tonight, quote, it will happen. It, meaning a subpoena, to this Trump lawyer John Eastman who really did plot out the way to overturn the 2020 election for Donald Trump who apparently as of this weekend was saying it would have worked. It was correct legal reasoning if only Mike Pence hadn`t been such an establishment squish.

Meanwhile, today in the Senate they held a hearing on just how corrosive these lies about the election have been, and the fake audits that they have spawned and the ongoing deliberate spreading of misinformation from Republican leaders and conservative media telling Americans not to trust election results anymore. Senators heard testimony today about the very real, tangible effects these lies have had on the Americans who administer elections at various levels around the country.

We have been following this all yearlong. It is one of the more unnerving developments in our country since the 2020 election. Election administrators being abused, harassed, threatens, vilified, basically hounded out of their jobs just for doing their job.

Well, today, the Rules Committee in the Senate heard from election officials who laid out in detail the threats they personally have faced this year.


Here`s two of them. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, she`s a Democrat. And Al Smith, on the right side of your screen. He`s a city commissioner and a member of the board of directions in the great American city of Philadelphia. Mr. Smith is a Republican.


KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: As the lawsuits mounted, so did the threats against me and other election officials. Orange jump suits were mailed to county supervisors. They were protesters outside of my house. I had to have 24-hour security.

But what concerns me is the near constant harassment faced by the public servants who administer our elections. Nearly every day, they are on the receiving end of abusive phone calls and e-mails.

AL SMITH, PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER, BOARD OF ELECTIONS: My experience isn`t unique. My colleagues and staff receive threats. Nearly 1 in 5 election officials now there is threats to their lives as a job- related concern.

I am a Republican. For doing my job, counting votes, I could like to share with you some of the messages sent to me and my family.

Tell the truth or your three kids will be fatally shot. Included our address. Included my children`s names. Included a picture of our home.

Cops can`t help you. Heads on spikes, treasonous Smiths.

You betrayed your country. You lied. You are a traitor. Perhaps cuffs and bullets will soon arrive at -- provides my address. Names my children.

RINO stole election. We steal lives.

There are additional threats my family asked me not to share today because they are so graphic and disturbing. No matter what our party affiliation, this is not okay.


MADDOW: This is not okay.

Republican Al Smith from Philadelphia announced at this hearing today that he himself will not run for re-election when he`s up again in 2023. He described the torrent of threats as, quote, domestic terrorism. He said the whole point is to terrorize, intimidate and to coerce.

And it`s not just sort of top-level elections officials included elected officials themselves in charge of administering elections who have been suffering. The threats and the lies are also having a detrimental effect on poll workers, on regular every day citizens who volunteer their time and effort in order to keep our democracy chugging along.


MICHAEL G. ADAMS, KY SECRETARY OF STATE: Fifteen thousand volunteer workers to run an election in Kentucky. We`re losing poll workers, and we have to find a way to inspire people to volunteer. We have 120 counties in Kentucky, all with their own chief of election special at the county level. And this year, there is about 15 or so of 120 clerks that have told me they plan to retire next year. I think the number will go bigger. That`s an unusually large number of retirements.

SMITH: At the local level, it`s been an ongoing problem with losing poll workers.

HOBBS: We`re already seeing high turnover among election staff and I fear that many more will reach a breaking point and decide that this line of public service is no longer worth it.

MATT MASTERSON, NON-RESIDENT FELLOW INTERNET OBSERVATORY, STANFORD UNIV: If additional protection is not provided to those who are threatened, many election officials may face the horrible choice of either continuing to receive threats for doing their jobs or leaving the profession. The field is already losing officials at an alarming pace.


MADDOW: That last witness there is a former election security official at the Department of Homeland Security just foot stomping the point that if more protections for election workers aren`t provided, we will continue hemorrhaging to election officials and the expertise they bring with him at what he called an alarming pace. Which, of course, will likely result in longer lines at the polls and a more chaotic administration of future elections amid a spiraling distrust in our election processes writ large stoked by Republicans who have decided this is their ticket to power in the future.

Today`s hearing was presided over by the chair of the rules committee, Amy Klobuchar. She made it clear that growing threats demand a federal response. We have seen an effort to mount a federal response. Democrats proposed one in the form of the freedom to vote act, which among other things would have created enhanced protection for election officials.

That bill was voted down by Senate Republicans last week. They would not even agree to allow debate on it. We know what the threat is. What is the way to address the threat? If Republicans stand unified against even trying to.

Joining us now is the chair of the Senate Rules Committee, Minnesota Senior Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Senator, it`s great to see you. Thanks for making time to be with us tonight.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Rachel.

Could I first thank you for covering this hearing. You know how much is going on in Washington today this week, this month, and I was afraid it was going to get forgotten, honestly.


And those people that came forward were so courageous to even tell their stories. Mr. Smith, the Republican from Philadelphia talked about the fact that he knew he put himself at greater risk by even coming forward, but he was telling the story of so many Democrats, Republicans from big cities, from little towns and rural areas who are election officials who have been threatened, their families have been threatened. And not all of them have the police protection that he said he has been able to get.

And, so, I just want to thank you for highlighting it because it is a frightening, frightening thing. And there are a number of solutions I hope we can discuss.

MADDOW: Well, I want to talk about those proposed solutions and how we would get there. I do want to say, when Mr. Smith got to the part of the hearing where he said he is not running for re-election, he can`t take it - - that he can`t keep doing this, he can`t keep doing this to this family, it was a heartfelt thing and also just, you know, shocking and upsetting to hear because as you say in some ways, he`s privileged over other election workers that don`t have the kind of protections he has as an elected official. But it does feel unrelenting and it does feel like there is no help coming.

KLOBUCHAR: And Katie Hobbs, this is one of the things he said. She got a voice mail, she`s the secretary of state, the woman you featured from Arizona. I am a hunter, and I think you should be hunted. You will never be safe in Arizona again.

Wade Henderson, a civil rights leader, talked about the effect this has had in African-American communities. This is a countrywide, we even had a conservative secretary of state, you heard from him at least focusing on the fact that we are basically losing election workers. So our job, protect and defend the Constitution.

So to me that means it is time to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. You rightfully pointed out Republicans have blocked it, but we must bring it up again. Senator Schumer is committed to bringing this bill up again. This is the bill you know Senator Manchin signed his name on the dotted line. He was in the group of us that worked on it with Senator Padilla and Warnock and Senator Merkley and Kaine and King and Tester and myself spanning the country.

And we put together a really good pill. And it basically addresses this. This should be a federal crime when this kind of stuff happens.

We should not allow state legislators to arbitrarily fire local election officials. The election records should be protected. There are a number of things that would be in that bill that would give these local officials the kind of protection and respect that they need in addition to the work that has to be done on the state basis and the protection they well need. We need to have election workers, and we cannot let these people destroy our democracy.

MADDOW: Republicans who are part of your committee today could not help but have been moved by some of these testimonials today both from the Democrats and the Republicans who -- who testified. Is there any appetite among them to try to fix this, to try to protect these folks some other way even if for some other reason they`re not willing to sign on to legislation that includes voting rights. Will they -- will hey at least talk about this or talk about solutions to this in a narrow way, in a way that would just be about protecting, providing federal protection to people who are threatened for doing this kind of public service?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I hope so. But I am -- we have so many other issues we`re dealing with on elections with over 400 election suppression bills that have been introduced across the country, over 30 passed.

I will say Senator Blunt did hold this hearing with me. It was one of those hearing where I just held, and I grudgingly came. He issued a very strong statement ahead of the hearing.

So I`m going to continue to pursue that. But right now, there is one clear solution. Not just to this problem, Rachel, but to the fact that in Georgia right now, you will not be able to vote on weekends during the run-off period, that you -- there is going to be less drop-off boxes in states all over the country, that they`re attempting and have made it harder to cast mail-in ballots. We`ve got states that are still requires notary publics. Like in South Carolina if you want to order a mail-in ballot, you have to have someone notarize it and find a notary.

This is after the biggest turnout in American history in a federal election in the middle of a public health crisis.

So in the words of Reverend Warnock, some people don`t want some people to vote. And that is why we must restore the Senate, but allowing bills like this to come up if our colleagues are going to block them.


There is no way when you look to the past that leaders in either party ever imagined that wouldn`t even debate a bill like this, that my colleagues would be, I guess, hiding behind their desks instead of actually allowing us to debate this bill, giving us their ideas. But that`s where we are right now. That`s why I think once we get through this really important week and hopefully very soon we will have an agreement on the Build Back Better agenda, we must turn to this again. We must find a way to allow this bill to be debated and go forward.

And the haunting words of those elected officials, if that is not enough to bring it to the floor again, I don`t know what is.

MADDOW: Minnesota senior senator, Rules Committee chair, Amy Klobuchar -- Senator Klobuchar, it`s always a pleasure to have you here. Thanks for focusing on this today in such a potent and incisive way.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Rachel.

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




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are people working today and just before the pandemic started. Household wealth is up. People are buying more things. Manufacturing is up.

We`re on the move but we`re on the right track, but we got more do. So, if you`re looking for someone who`s going to keep your economy growing and growing, the man behind me is the guy to get it done.


MADDOW: President Biden in Arlington, Virginia, this past hour campaigning for the Democratic governor candidate Terry McAuliffe. That election for Virginia`s next governor is a week from today. We have been covering for the last week or so that the polls could not be tighter.

Joining us now is the person I always turn to first to get the big picture on issues like this, our beloved Steve Kornacki, MSNBC national political correspondent.

Steve, it is great to see you. Thank you so much for being here.


MADDOW: Well, just give us the briefing here. Give us -- obviously, we have been covering that the polls look tight. Talk to us how the polls look overall and what you are expecting, what we should be watching for as we`re into this last week now?

KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, you say tight, I mean, this is what tight looks like right now. The average of all the polls in Virginia right now, Terry McAuliffe the Democrat with a lead, but a small lead, less than two points. We have seen a couple polls that put this thing at a dead heat, at dead even.

So, a week to go, this certainly looks like a close race. Now, of course, the drop back to this is Virginia was the state that went for Joe Biden by 10 points. And now, we`re talking about a very competitive race that Republicans think they have a real shot at winning.

This is becoming a story not just about Virginia. This is a story potentially about the 2022 mid-term election and really about two different theories, one from Democrats, one from Republicans about what could motivate voters in 2022.

Let me show you what I mean. Using Virginia as sort of the laboratory here for this experiment, Biden, remember, won this thing, as we say, by ten points last year. Democrats over the last 20 years or so have been getting stronger and stronger, making it a blue state. The biggest reason the Democrats have had so much success lately in Virginia. Why Biden was able to win by ten points here.

The suburbs around Washington, D.C., the D.C. metro area, the suburbs around Richmond in particular. These are areas in some cases that were Republican up until 15, 20 years ago that have flipped to the Democrats and gone heavy to the Democrats, especially in the Trump era.

Republicans lost a ton of ground in northern Virginia. They lost a ton of ground in the Richmond suburbs during Donald Trump`s presidency. When I say it is a national story, they lost a ton of ground all around the country just like these areas during the Trump presidency in particular.

And, so, you hear Terry McAuliffe. You hear Joe Biden tonight invoking Donald Trump`s name, invoking the memory of the Trump presidency. They are trying to attach Donald Trump to Glenn Youngkin, the Republican in this race, and they are trying to replicate what happened in Virginia last year, what happened in these suburban areas of Virginia. I will give you a list of it right here.

Loudon County, this is huge. This is fast growing. Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 25 points here last year. Lack at the trajectory, the Trump era trajectory in Loudon County, when Trump first ran in `16, Trump lost by 17. He lost as I said by 25 in 2020.

Pre-Trump, this was a battleground. Mitt Romney lost this county by less than 5 points. Along comes Donald Trump, and the floor falls out for Republicans. Glenn Youngkin, the Republicans in Virginia believe specifically with education the attention they have drawn to local education, to school boards to curriculum battles, they think they have found a way not to win a place like Loudoun County but not to lose it by 25, not to lose it by 17. They think they could lose it by 10, 12 points, something like that.

If they can do that in Loudoun County, around Northern Virginia, around Richmond, they could win statewide. And if they could do that and win statewide here, they have created a model for Republicans in the suburbs everywhere 2022.

MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, MSNBC national political correspondent, not only telling us what we are looking at but what we should keep looking at over the course of the next week in order to see how this goes.

Steve, I know we will be with you a lot over the course of the week. Thanks for being here, my friend.

KORNACKI: You got it.

MADDOW: All right. We got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.



ADDOW: So just a few hours ago, the FDA advisory panel on vaccines voted to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for kids, kids age 5 to 11. The vote was 17-0 in favor of that recommendation. One person on the panel abstained from the vote.

They`re recommending a two-dose series of the Pfizer vaccine for kids. Two doses three weeks apart. And it is a smaller dosage than the adult Pfizer shot. Each will have a third as much as the adult dosage does.

In terms of what`s next, the FDA will decide whether it`s going to take the panel`s recommendation and go ahead with their approval. They probably will, but we`ll see. Then the CDC will make their recommendation.

All in all, it is starting to look like for the first time the COVID vaccine could be available for kids age 5 and up as early as this week.

Dr. David Kessler is a former FDA commissioner. He`s now chief science officer for the White House COVID-19 response, and we have been very fortunate to have him join us periodically at big moments like this in the fight against the pandemic.

Dr. Kessler, I should also note, is a pediatrician as well. So, we`re particularly lucky to have here tonight.

Doctor, it`s great to see you. Thanks for making time.


MADDOW: So for parents of younger kids who are now confronting the reality that they`re soon going to be able to get their kids vaccinated. It is not so much of a hypothetical. Here it comes.

What should parents know about the strength of the data on how safe this is for kids?

KESSLER: Let me just start off by saying that pediatricians and parents have been looking forward to this day for a year and a half. The FDA advisory committee is very good. It is a very hopeful day for parents because increased protection from this virus is on the horizon for their children.

You know, parents have been very concerned about the risks of COVID. I also understand that some parents have questions. Well, let me answer your question directly. Let me speak as a pediatrician.

FDA and ACIP recommend the vaccine, you should vaccinate your kids. The benefits of the vaccine clearly outweigh the risks for school-aged children.

MADDOW: In terms of parental worries around this, the question about what the uptake rate is going to be and how comfortable parents are going to feel, I think obviously in our real lives, those of us who aren`t doctors who are just considering this as human beings and families, we extrapolate from our own experience. And we know that the vaccine is safe and very well tolerated in adults, in addition to being very effective.

But for those of us who got vaccinated, we also know there can be side effects including feeling fluy for a day or two. Is the side effect profile expected to be roughly the same for kids as it is in adults? Are they likely to feel the side effects more acutely or less acutely? Is there anything specific in terms of how this will be tolerated in younger kids?

KESSLER: Very important question. There were no new or unexpected side effects. There were no cases of myocarditis seen in the clinical trials of school-age children. But, you know, we understand that clinical trials may not show every rare side effect, right? It gives me great comfort we are using one-third of the dose we use in adolescents and adults.

MADDOW: If the uptake of vaccines for kids is strong, and, again, this is elementary school age kids, kids age 5 to 11 are the newly qualified group or will be once this is expected to go through, talk to me about the upside in terms of kids` lives in the way that families move in the world.

What will this mean for kids` ability to safely return to school, to participate in other activities, things that have been curtailed because of the pandemic? What might this free up?

KESSLER: Let me just give you the numbers with regard to kids and COVID. There have been nearly two million kids who have been infected with this virus. That`s a lot of kids. There have been 8,300 hospitalizations. About a third of which ended up in the ICU for this school age kids, 10 percent of all COVID cases to date have been in this age group, and 5,200 kids have been diagnosed with this multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

There is also a lot of school closings. There is losing school time. It is a very hopeful day because protection from this virus is on the horizon for these kids. School age children should have the aim production as the older age groups.

MADDOW: Last question for you, Dr. Kessler. Looking at this from a broader perspective, to what extent do you think being able to vaccinate this new age group will help us as a country contain the epidemic as a whole?

I know it`s hard to talk about exactly what transmission is attributable to what groups and whether or not they have been able to get vaccinated. But will vaccinating younger kids help the whole country potentially put a lid on this at some point in the future?

KESSLER: We believe it is a very important part of the answer. We`re going to learn more of what the effect is on transmission. But I will tell you, with this step today, with getting people boosted, but most importantly we always have to say this. Getting the unvaccinated vaccinated, right, between all three we have the tools to put this behind us.


MADDOW: Dr. David Kessler, the chief science officer for the White House COVID-19 response, former FDA commissioner, as always, sir, it is an honor this time with you. Thank you for your time tonight. Thank you for your clarity.

KESSLER: Thank you.

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


MADDOW: This is Irving, Texas. Irving is squeezed between the twin cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, 42 percent of Irving, Texas residents are Hispanic or Latino; 22 percent of Irving residents are non-Hispanic white people. It`s a really diverse area.

If you live in Irving, Texas, and the area around it, this is what your congressional district has looked like over the past ten years. It`s split between metro area of Dallas and Fort Worth which makes sense given it`s a suburb of both cities.

This is what it has looked like. But now, if you live in that area, this is what your congressional map will look like for the next ten years.


Wait a minute. Zoom out. Zoom out a little bit. Keep zooming. Wait.

One more time. Zoom more. Okay. Yeah, now we`re starting to see it.

This is what the new congressional district is going to look like for the next ten years for people who live in and around Irving, Texas.

Why does it look like that? Why does it look like it got thrown against a wall and melted?

Here`s s the old map and new map side by side at scale, just so you can see the difference that we`re talking about here. What happened? What is that giant blob that hangs off the bottom of Irving`s congressional district? If you`re wondering what is in the blob, it`s a whole lot of conservative white people who were just stuck into that map for exactly that reason.

The old Irving, Texas district was 48 percent Hispanic or Latino, 25 percent white liker Irving itself. The new Irving district is 60 percent white and only 21 percent Hispanic or Latino.

Voters in the old district picked Joe Biden 3-1. Voters in the new district voted 3-1 for Trump. New maps.

Yesterday Texas` Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed in the new congressional district map. Texas got two new congressional districts added this year. Two new members of Congress added from Texas because of a huge population boom driven almost entirely by non-white people, 95 percent of Texas` population growth. It`s new residents over the last ten years for people of color, 95 percent.

Texas gained 11 new residents who are Hispanic or Latino for every one new white resident over the past ten years but that doesn`t mean they get represented in Congress. Texas` new congressional map gives both of its new districts to white majority voting populations.

The new map reduces the number of Hispanic majority districts from eight to seven despite the huge growth in the Latino population. The new maps illuminate Texas` only congressional district where black voters were the majority before Governor Greg Abbott signed the maps into law, a group of Latino advocacy groups and citizens sued to try to stop the new maps from taking effect. After he signed the law yesterday, Abbott got another lawsuit handed to him over these new maps. This one was brought by Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias, who you`ve seen on the show.

So, he`s going to have a legal fight on his hands for these unbelievably racially redone maps but unless the lawsuits succeed, the new maps are set to take effect next year.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight this fine Tuesday evening. I`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.