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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/22/21

Guests: Sara Rodriguez, Charles Coleman

Summary

Interview with Wisconsin State Representative Sara Rodriguez. Trump Organization is being scrutinized by New York prosecutors. Defense in trial over killing of Ahmaud Arbery is seeking mistrial over protests outside courtroom.

Transcript

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: Everyone cares what you think, Chris. You can be all self-deprecating about it.

HAYES: I`m giving -- yeah, I`m giving the Chris Hayes house view on the macroeconomic outlook of the next six months. I`m just reading stuff like everyone else.

MADDOW: It`s the only one I`d listen to. Come on. Don`t sell yourself short.

All right. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. It`s good to have you here.

Shotguns are legal. Sawed-off shotguns are not legal. The National Firearms Act of 1934 put in place new federal rules, again, 1934, Against owning whole big classes of weapons and weapons accessories that were believed to be associated with serious crime. So that 1934 law included things like machine guns and silencers and sawed-off shotguns.

Now, just because I just said that small sequence of sentences, all the gun people are now going to write me really pedantic misspelled threatening letters telling me that I`ve explained this in a way that they do not like. I welcome your hate mail. Bring it on.

But frankly the bottom line truth for most Americans is that for 87 freaking years now U.S. law says you can`t have a sawed-off shotgun. You cannot shorten the barrel of your shotgun to be 18 inches or less. Because crime.

But this being the United States of America, in which we are not really allowed to have rationally derived public policy about guns, even though sawed-off shotguns have been illegal in this country for almost 90 years, some genius has nevertheless invented, marketed and now legally sells in the United States, I kid you not, a shotgun revolver.

It`s a handgun, a huge oversized handgun, a huge oversized revolver with a giant oversized cylinder big enough to take shotgun shells. So you can`t have a sawed-off shotgun in this country with a barrel shorter than 18 inches but for some reason you can have a shotgun revolver with a barrel length of 2 1/2 inches. Which yes, does lead instantly to lots of 2 1/2- inch barrel jokes about the kinds of guys who want to buy this kind of cartoon laughing stock overcompensating small man gun.

But it is a handgun. It is a sort of pitifully, tumescent, ridiculous cantaloupe of a handgun into which you really can load shotgun shells, or very large-sized bullets.

And on January 6th this year, prosecutors now say that a 56-year-old man from Indiana brought that kind of a ridiculous gun, loaded, brought it to the U.S. Capitol.

Here`s Kyle Cheney at politico.com today on what the man told police investigators he intended to do with that gun at the Capitol on January 6th.

Quote: An Indiana man charged with carrying a loaded firearm into the Capitol on January 6th told investigators that if he had found Speaker Nancy Pelosi, quote, you`d be here for another reason.

This guy`s essentially saying if I`d found Nancy Pelosi that day, you guys would be here for another reason now. Meaning you`d be here to arrest me for killing her.

This man, quote, allegedly carried a Taurus revolver which is capable of firing shotgun shells, two of which were in the chamber along with three hollow point bullets." it`s a fine-shot revolver. Apparently had two shotgun shells loaded and three hollow points.

A Capitol police sergeant obtained the weapon after allegedly fending off an assault from the man. "According to the charging documents filed in the case over the weekend, two Capitol police investigators visited the man at his home in Shelbyville, Indiana on March 29th and he admitted to them that he had gone to the stop the steal rally in the Capitol on January 6th and then marched to the U.S. Capitol building. The man told investigators as they prepared to finish their interview with him, quote, I thought Nan and I would hit it off." Nan as in Nancy Pelosi.

Quote: I was glad I didn`t, meaning I didn`t find her, because you`d be here for another reason. And I told my kids that if they show up I`m surrendering. Nope, they can have me because I`d go down a hero." so the man is armed with a revolver, a ridiculous oversized cartoonish revolver into which he has loaded both shotgun shells and hollow point bullets.

He says he was looking for Nancy Pelosi inside the U.S. Capitol that day. He`s glad he didn`t find her because if he had, well, then he`d be surrendering to those police since they`d be there to arrest him for killing her and he`d be surrendering to them because pretty sure that at least some of America would consider him a hero for having done that, for having shot the speaker of the House.

[21:05:02]

I mean, the reason he got the gun taken off him January 6th is that he allegedly assaulted a police officer, who then took it from him.

But I`m just going to point out here. Number one, the guy was not arrested on January 6th even though that day he allegedly assaulted an officer and he in fact had a loaded gun on him that the police officer took off him. After that he walks away.

And number two, Capitol police investigators went to his home in Indiana and talked to him about his role on January 6th in March.

During that interview he volunteered to them that yes, he`d been in the Capitol and yes, he`d been looking for Nancy Pelosi and yeah, if he found her that day they`d be there to arrest him for killing her. And he didn`t like say that in some encrypted forum that investigators have just gained access to and that`s why they`ve arrested him now. He told that to police officers in March, eight months ago.

And they had his loaded gun which he had had with him at the Capitol when he allegedly assaulted a police officer. And the man was just charged now. Nice life if you can get it, right?

And I will tell you, this is new today about the guy with the loaded shotgun shell revolver hunting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inside the Capitol on January 6th saying he would have killed her if he`d found her. This is new. If he doesn`t sound new to you, if it sounds familiar, it`s because while this actually is a brand new story it rhymes with a lot of other ones recently.

Here`s "BuzzFeed" reporter Salvador Hernandez more than two months ago. September 10th this year. Quote: a man who threatened to shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the head on live television in the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol pleaded guilty today to a felony.

The man drove to Colorado -- excuse me. Drove from Colorado to Washington, D.C. to take part in the January 6 rallies protesting the results of the presidential election. Officials say he arrived hauling a trailer, a rifle, a Glock 9-millimeter handgun, ten large capacity magazines and more than 2500 rounds of ammunition.

According to a federal indictment, he told a relative that he`d headed to D.C. with a bleep ton of armor-piercing ammo. The day after the January 6th Capitol attack, he texted a family member that he was thinking about heading over to Pelosi bleep`s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on live TV.

Yeah, that`s not the same guy with a shotgun shell revolver. That`s a different guy. Who pled guilty September 10th, then 2 1/2 weeks later yet another different person. Here`s Marshall Cohen reporting at CNN. A Doylestown, Pennsylvania woman who stormed the U.S. Capitol January 6th and said she was looking for Nancy Pelosi to, quote, shoot her in the frigging brain, pleaded guilty today to a low-level misdemeanor for unlawfully protesting on restricted grounds. Ah. Low-level misdemeanor she pled to.

But that`s not to be confused with the shotgun shell revolver guy or the guy who had all of that other type -- all of those other types of weapons who said he was going to put a bullet in Nancy Pelosi on live television. This woman who was also going to put a bullet in Nancy Pelosi, that`s a separate one. And then oh, here`s another one. This was just Friday this past week. Arizona man convicted after threatening Pelosi with I`m coming to kill you message. An Arizona man who left a message telling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi I`m coming to kill you was convicted Thursday just last week for communicating an interstate threat according to the U.S. attorney`s office in the district of Arizona.

Those are all different people, all different cases. And if this is still sounding familiar it might be because when Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of all her committee assignments back in February one of the reasons why was her liking a post on social media that called for putting a bullet in Nancy Pelosi`s head. They`re all separate incidents. All different people.

Some of them get kicked off their committees in Congress. Some of them get misdemeanors. Occasionally we get pleading guilty to a felony. It`s all different people. And it`s weird. It`s almost like there`s? Sort of echo chamber for these kinds of very specific threats, right? Since they`re all threatening the exact same thing against the exact same Democrat.

It`s just an amazing time we live in to read, you know, like polite profiles of how Nancy Pelosi`s been working the phones to try to get Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to support President Biden`s legislative agenda in Congress. While all the while on the regular one after another committed Trump supporters is brought up on charges of making concerted and in some cases armed death threats against her. She sort of proceeds with her work.

But there`s a whole industry of Trump supporters making more or less credible, in some cases armed threats against Speaker Pelosi`s life while she does her work. It`s an amazing time we live in.

I mean, this -- the same day today that this new footage was released of police officers trying to fight off the Trump mob, including this guy hurling a trash can at a police officer.

[21:10:03]

Police officers trying to get that door down, that rolling door down to protect parts of the Capitol but it keeps going back up because they`re blocking it and then the mob just surges through and comes through to get them. The same day we get that footage released of one of the things that happened on January 6th and we get the court documents released about the guy with the loaded shotgun shell revolver who was hunting Nancy Pelosi and told police eight months ago that he would have killed her if he`d found her, that same day, that same day we learn that finally somebody has at last resigned from the Fox News Channel in response to the three-part series they`ve been running all this month claiming that nobody did anything wrong on January 6th and Trump supporters are being framed and they didn`t do anything bad, they`re being unjustly persecuted simply for liking Donald Trump and they`d better get the left before the left gets them.

Finally, the Fox News Channel has had resignations over that, two guys who were contributors to the network.

Tonight, we just got word of five more subpoenas that have gone out for the investigation into the January 6th attack. Former President Trump`s long- time adviser Roger Stone, who he`s already had to pardon once after Trump was -- excuse me, after stone was convicted of multiple felonies in the Russia investigation. Roger stone has now been subpoenaed by the January 6th investigation as has the Infowars guy Alex Jones. Another sort of marquee name Trump supporter. Mr. Jones was most recently in the news just last week for having a default judgment declared against him in a case brought by the parents of little kids who were murdered at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Alex Jones made his money for a long while selling this fantasy to his followers that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked and the kids didn`t really die. The lawsuits against him by the parents of those kids may very well bankrupt him and shut down his media and supplement-hawking company. A jury will decide what to do with him in that case in terms of financial penalties.

But he and Roger Stone and three other people are all now subpoenaed as of tonight to testify and hand over documents about their role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. We will see if president -- former President Trump tells them not to respond to those subpoenas, tells them to defy those subpoenas as he`s encouraged others to do.

We`re going to have reporter David Fahrenthold here a little later on this hour, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter for the "Washington Post." Mr. Fahrenthold actually had two different scoops today in "The Post." One about the contours of the new case, the further investigation that New York state prosecutors are pursuing against the former president and his business. Mr. Fahrenthold and his colleagues posted that piece first thing this morning for this morning`s paper. It`s a fascinating piece.

But then this afternoon, hey, second scoop of the day, Mr. Fahrenthold and his colleagues reporting that the National Republican Party is paying Trump`s legal fees, his personal legal fees for his personal legal matters. Nothing related to when he was president. They`re paying his legal fees for criminal indications cases brought against him related to his business before he was president.

Quote: The Republican National Committee is paying some personal legal bills for former president Donald Trump, spending party funds to pay a lawyer representing Trump in investigations into his financial practices in New York. Last month, the RNC made two payments totaling more than $120,000 to the law firm of a veteran defense attorney who Trump hired in April.

Trump is a -- "The Post" notes -- Trump is a wealthy businessman with dozens of properties, and he has also built an independent political operation which at last count had more than $100 million cash on hand.

Trump did not respond to questions today about why the RNC is therefore paying his legal bills. I know. I know. Because he told them to and they do whatever he says. Amazing, though. We`re going to have more on that coming up with David Fahrenthold in just a few minutes.

But you know, it`s been a day. Today rabid Trump supporters were back at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas once again waiting once again for the resurrection of former president John f. Kennedy and his son John F. Kennedy Jr. This is multiple times now in the last several weeks they have showed up en masse at Dealey plaza in Dallas. This is an offshoot of the QAnon conspiracy theory, this sort of mass delusion among Trump supporters. For weeks now they`ve been staking out this location in Texas as part of a weird mass fantasy about resurrecting dead people including dead politicians and their families and dead celebrities, all of whom are supposed to come back from the dead and help Donald Trump reclaim power, help him become king of the world. Okay.

Back on Earth One, though, it`s not like we don`t have real stuff to deal with, both good and bad, in some cases very bad.

[21:15:06]

One sort of bright spot today is that today was the day President Biden`s vaccine requirement into effect for people who work for the federal government. And I say that`s a bright spot in one very specific sense -- this vaccine requirement for federal employees has turned out to be wildly successful. "The Associated Press" reporting today that more than 90 percent of all federal workers, there`s like 3 1/2 million federal workers in this country, more than 90 percent of them received at least one dose of the vaccine before today`s deadline.

Vaccine requirements work. There`s so much media attention to the reasons they might not work and the people who don`t want them to work. But they work. More than 90 percent of federal workers got shots by the deadline. That happened today.

Also today, today was day two of jury deliberations in the Charlottesville trial. This is the trial where neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups are being sued in a civil suit for having organized the violence that took place at the Charlottesville rally in 2017. The jury has that case. They had it on Friday. They had it for a full second day today.

The jury has now started asking questions of the judge in that case. But we don`t know what that means in terms of their deliberations. A ruling on the Charlottesville case from that jury could come any day now. Simultaneously, tomorrow is the day that a Georgia jury is likely to get the case in the trial of three men accused of chasing down and shooting to death a young man named Ahmaud Arbery.

Mr. Arbery was an unarmed African-American man who was out jogging when three white men chased him down in two full-size pickup trucks and then shot him to death. They`re claiming variously that they were trying to make a citizen`s arrest and that it was some sort of self-defense killing. We`re going to have more on that story tonight including what to expect from the defense as the jury gets that case.

The reason we`re going to be talking about that tonight is because this is the case where defense counsel keeps complaining to the judge in open court about the presence of too many black people, the presence of black pastors and other Black people who have come to the courthouse to support Mr. Arbery`s family.

It appears to be a deliberately super inflammatory approach from the defense counsel, apparently to try to get a rise out of people, apparently to try to get a mistrial declared to benefit his client. That sort of shocking but relentless tack from the defense counsel is turning out to be important not only for the potential resolution of this case but for how it is received in this country. We will have more on that coming up with some expert help in just a few minutes.

But today of course with everything else going on, good, bad, crazy and somewhere in between. Today, of course, all eyes have been an Waukesha, Wisconsin, where yesterday afternoon a just unthinkable crime took life after life after life after life at a holiday parade in downtown Waukesha. By now you know the basics of what happened.

A red SUV inexplicably sped into the parade route and then directly into people marching in the parade and people watching it on the sidewalk. As of this hour five people are dead and an unbelievable 48 people are injured, including many, many kids. Here was children`s hospital of Milwaukee earlier today.

(BERGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. AMY DRENDEL, CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL WISCONSIN -- MILWAUKEE: Children`s Wisconsin is a large pediatric emergency room and we are uniquely equipped to support an event like this. Sadly, like many communities, our region has experienced mass casualty events in the past, but none in the recent history involving such a large number of children. Eighteen kids were brought to our children`s emergency department ranging from ages 3 to 16 years of age, which include three sets of siblings.

Injuries ranged from facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries. Six of these patients were sent to the operating room last night. And two additional patients are undergoing surgeries today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Six kids operated on last night. Two additional kids undergoing surgeries today. Tonight, as vigils are under way in Wisconsin for those killed and injured as we`re expecting an initial court appearance for the suspect in this crime tomorrow afternoon, one of the just horrifying things about this incident is how many people and how many kids specifically were not just hurt but grievously hurt, dangerously, critically hurt, and still being cared for.

Again, the death toll here is already five but so many of those hurt are badly hurt. One of the people who marched in the parade yesterday but who escaped harm was a Democratic state representative in Wisconsin a woman named Sarah Rodriguez.

She was marching in the parade as a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. She`s standing for that higher office. She was marching with a group of Waukesha county Democrats. She`s okay. But she was there when it happened. She represents Waukesha in the state assembly.

[21:20:02]

Representative Sara Rodriguez joins us now.

Representative Rodriguez, thank you for joining us tonight. I`m sorry for what you`ve just been through and I`m sorry for what Waukesha`s going through right now.

STATE REP. SARA RODRIGUEZ (D-WI): Thank you so much for having me.

MADDOW: So I understand that you`re joining us after attending a prayer vigil tonight for the victims. Can you just tell us what it`s like tonight in Waukesha, what the messages are out of tonight`s vigil, how the community`s doing?

RODRIGUEZ: You know, this has been a devastating event for our community. But the vigil tonight was one of hope. I mean, we had thousands of people. And it`s Wisconsin and it`s cold. And so we had thousands of people attending that vigil, listening to the multi, different people speaking, the pastors speaking, telling us we really need to come together as a community. And that`s what I really felt when I was there.

MADDOW: One of the things that`s so harrowing here is the number of kids who were among those who were hurt and the number of kids who are among those who are seriously hurt and therefore still -- still in the hospital. We know that six kids were in surgery last night. Two more today, that has to be particularly not just gut-wrenching but it`s the sort of thing that I think knocks a community back in a way that almost nothing else can. That part of it has to be so difficult.

RODRIGUEZ: It really is. You know, my children go to the Waukesha school district and my son goes to Waukesha South High School, and that marching band that you see in the video, that is from Waukesha South High School.

And so I spent that evening calling friends, calling parents of kids just to see how they were. And my 15-year-old son did the same thing. He was calling all of his friends to see how they were. He had many, many friends within the marching band. And it`s just something that they`re going to be dealing with for quite some time.

MADDOW: Is there anything that the country needs to do for Waukesha at this point? I mean, I know that whenever there`s a tragedy, I mean, nothing`s exactly like this but whenever there`s a tragedy everybody wants to help. Is there anything that people can do that can help?

RODRIGUEZ: Number one, just really pray for the families that have been injured. This is going to be a long road for them. I`m a registered nurse myself, and hearing about all of these injuries I know this is going to take a while.

The community does have some fund-raising going on through the united way. And so we can share that with your listeners later today as well.

MADDOW: Okay. Wisconsin State Representative Sara Rodriguez, who represents Waukesha in the assembly. Thanks for your time tonight. I`m sorry about what you and your community are going through.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you so much for having me.

MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:26:58]

MADDOW: I`m about to show you a building that is magic. Then I`m going to show you the magic. The building is at 40 Wall Street in New York City in Manhattan. It`s owned by the Trump Organization.

About a decade ago the Trump organization claimed officially that this was one of the most valuable buildings in all of New York City, it`s worth $527 million, it`s worth more than half a billion dollars.

But then just a few months later the Trump Organization claimed officially that the same building which they just said was worth half a billion dollars, they changed their mind and declared actually, it`s worth less than $17 million. Just over the course of just a few months the building`s value had dropped to less than 1/30 of what it had been just a few months earlier. Magic.

How did the Trump Organization manage to own a business -- excuse me, own a building that was simultaneously one of the most valuable buildings in all of New York while also being practically worth less in New York real estate terms. How can that be, same building?

Well, when Trump`s company was trying to get a loan they wanted their assets to look as big and valuable as possible so that potential lenders would offer them as big a loan as possible. Does this make our assets look big?

They listed 40 Wall Street in their financial statement as being worth $527 million to try to get loans with that as something that was a positive on their asset sheet. But then a few months later, it was property tax officials who were asking them how much that same tax -- that same building was worth for tax purposes so they could figure out how much to tax that property. That`s when Trump`s company told the tax folks the building was actually only worth $16.7 million.

Please use that number when calculating our taxes. Thank you. It`s less than 1/30 of the valuation we just gave this building for another purpose, but these things are complicated.

That is far from the only property that Trump has pulled this kind of a stunt with. This habit of Mr. Trump and his company was first brought to public attention in congressional testimony from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who claimed that Trump inflated and deflated these values wildly and, importantly, purposely to deceive banks and insurance companies and tax authorities, which if it was done purposely, intentionally for that purpose, that would be criminal fraud.

Well, now we have new reporting from David Fahrenthold and his colleagues at the "Washington Post" about just how serious the ongoing investigations into that potential fraud are. We`ve known a state prosecutor in Manhattan, the Manhattan district attorney, had convened a new grand jury recently to hear evidence about the Trump organization, to consider charges along this front.

We also knew that New York`s attorney general, Tish James, has her ongoing civil investigation into matters related to this stuff as well. But today`s "Post" reporting adds new details into how they`re going about digging into Trump`s finances. For instance, A.G. Tish James has apparently gone after records from Trump`s California golf club saying this even though that`s in California and she`s the New York A.G., her office nevertheless has jurisdiction because Trump was a New York resident at the time he was submitting wildly different valuations for that property.

[21:30:13]

The A.G.`s office has also reportedly asked for hundreds of thousands of pages of documents including geology reports on the rock layers under Trump`s golf course because the value is affected by a history of landslides. Talk about digging deep to get to the bottom of this stuff.

Joining us now is "Washington Post" reporter and MSNBC contributor, David Fahrenthold.

Mr. Fahrenthold, it`s very nice to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me on.

MADDOW: So when a new grand jury was convened in the New York D.A.`s investigation of these matters, I think that gave a lot of people sort of a vague sense that there might be a new line of inquiry, there might be a new potential case here.

Can you give us any sense from your reporting about how far along that investigation is?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, as any investigation, we`re a little blind. But what we can see is they have gone very, very deep. As you said, literally into some of these properties where they think Trump was distorting the value of the property, giving a really high valuation to somebody and a really low valuation.

You know, these things are always a little bit subjective, but I think what the A.G. and the D.A. are trying to do is to figure out, okay, what facts can we establish, what`s not subjective about this? So in this case that means learning like what are the rock layers under this California course because Trump was claiming in one venue that he could build dozens of houses on that land and in another venue he`s claiming he couldn`t build anything.

What was the truth? What was he really allowed to do? What would it be possible to do there? So they seem to have gone very, very deep on at least a few properties where because of be public records or something else, I can see what they`re doing.

It does seem pretty far along. That said, you know, there`s a lot of questions to be answered before you can file criminal charges and I don`t know how close they are to finding those questions as to intent as you said.

MADDOW: Ever since Mr. Cohen levied these types of allegations about the Trump organization and about Trump in particular in that sort of blockbuster open hearing in Congress and other financial reporters along the way have described these similar kinds of actions by Trump over the years, I feel like those of us on the outside of it have sort of wondered, well, how much of this is just normal criminal-seeming misbehavior by people in the real estate business but they all do this and how much is this outside of norms and potentially over the line in terms of criminality?

I was struck by the expert who you quoted today in your piece, an expert who`s appraised properties for 50 years who looked at these different valuations and said, quote, I`ve never seen anything with a gap that extreme. That was the first assessment I`d seen from somebody who really seems to know what they`re talking about to say this is not like what other people in the business do, this might be over the line.

FAHRENTHOLD: Yeah, that`s right. Obviously in real estate there`s a degree of puffery, a degree of subjectivity. But when we talked to these assessors they say yeah, different people might see the same property differently but there would be like a 10 percent or 15 percent difference. That`s it. That`s as far as it would normally go.

In this case, as you said in the opening, the difference was, you know -- the high number was 30 times higher than the low number. Everybody we talked to who did assessments said look, there is a gap, gaps are expected, this is far beyond what we think is normal.

MADDOW: David, I wanted to ask you also about another scoop you had just tonight about the national Republican Party paying some of Trump`s legal bills. When I first saw the headline, when I actually first saw your tweet referencing the headline I thought okay, the RNC paying some of Trump`s legal bills doesn`t sound that weird. I jumped to the conclusion it was about stuff from when he was president.

But what you`ve discovered is that they`re explicitly paying his legal fees from stuff that`s related just to his personal liability around his business misbehavior, allegedly from before he was president. They`re paying his legal fees to defend himself, for example, in this investigation from the New York attorney general and the New York D.A.`s office?

FAHRENTHOLD: That`s right. It has nothing to do with what he did as president. Has nothing to do with his career -- his campaign, his career as a politician. It all predates that.

And the RNC`s explanation is these are Democrats and they`re out to get Trump and he`s the leader of our party, we have to defend him.

Now, think about this. Trump has spent the last seven months, eight months amassing this massive campaign war chest for himself. More than $100 million in his political campaign. And he still can`t pay his own legal bills. He`s getting the RNC to foot the bill for his legal bills. So, it`s really an incredible example of the capture Trump still has over the RNC this many months out of office.

MADDOW: Wow. Imagine you`re like a small-time Republican donor and you`ve just learned that actually what your party is paying for is for Trump to deal with like the defense of the valuation of his golf course from before he was president. It`s just amazing.

"Washington Post" reporter --

FAHRENTHOLD: It just started.

MADDOW: Thank you so much for your time tonight. It`s incredible reporting on both fronts. Thank you.

FAHRENTHOLD: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. More news ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:39:13]

MADDOW: Closing arguments began today in the trial of three white men who are accused of killing an unarmed black man who was jogging in his own neighborhood. A man named Ahmaud Arbery. State prosecutors argued today that the three men who shot Ahmaud Arbery, the three men who shot Ahmaud Arbery did so, quote, because he was a black man running down their street.

For its part, the defense has claimed from the beginning that the shooting didn`t have anything to do with race. The defense has tried for weeks to make Mr. Arbery`s death his own fault, to claim that the defendants had no choice but to defend themselves by chasing down and shooting an unarmed man who wasn`t seen to be committing any crimes but he might have been committing crimes that they couldn`t see.

That`s what one of the defense attorneys tried to do yet again today in a way that proved very upsetting to the family of Mr. Arbery.

[21:40:08]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA HOGUE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR GREG MCMICHAEL: Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores, in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long dirty toenails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Ahmaud Arbery`s mother actually left the courtroom after that comment was made by defense counsel. She reportedly left abruptly almost tripping over people in the courtroom. She was so upset over that statement about her son. Members of the Arbery family have been sitting in the courtroom throughout this trial. They have often invited pastors to come and join them for support including some well-known ministers like the Reverend Al Sharpton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Pastors like that and others have sat with the Arbery family, with Mr. Arbery`s mother as she has listened to testimony and arguments like that one made today about her son. But nearly every time African-American pastors have been there to support her one of the defense attorneys, a man named Kevin Gough, has had something to say about it. He`s either called for the court to ban black pastors, just black ones, from the courtroom.

And it was not a misstatement. He`s made that claim several times. He`s also called for the judge to keep track of their presence in the courtroom. Multiple times he`s called for a mistrial on the basis of their presence. The judge has denied these motions every time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN: We don`t want any more black pastors coming in here or other -- Jesse Jackson, whoever was in -- here earlier this week, sitting with the victim`s family trying to influence the jury in this case. I certainly don`t mean to suggest that Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or any other pastor belong to a mob, but at the same time we are talking about organized behavior by whoever outside the courthouse leading up to this case.

We have all these community leaders fearful that the city`s going to burn down. Still third parties are influencing this case. They`ve been doing it from the gallery in this courtroom. They`ve been doing it outside.

This is why a public lynching looks like in the 21st century with all due respect. They don`t have to have 10,000 people outside. They don`t have to have 100,000 people outside. Perception is reality. Just because they haven`t put a gallery up -- they haven`t put a podium up outside with a hangman`s noose on it doesn`t mean that this isn`t a trial despite the best efforts of this court, this isn`t a trial that`s been infected by mob violence of a woke left mob.

We`ve now got people claiming to be violent driving around the courthouse with coffins them with our clients` names on them with semi-or fully automatic weapons. This is no longer a figurative mob. This is a literal mob.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: People out there with fully automatic weapons, machine guns in the streets? Really? A literal mob?

Today, that defense attorney again demanded a mistrial. Nearly every time black people have been inside that courtroom or outside that courtroom, supporting the Arbery family the defense counsel has denounced it as intimidating and grounds for a mistrial. The judge has denied those requests repeatedly.

But why has he kept trying nearly every single day? Why has his language in making those mistrial demands every single day become more and more racially provocative? What is the end game here?

Joining us now is Charles F. Coleman Jr. He`s a former Brooklyn, New York prosecutor. He`s now a civil rights attorney. He`s been watching this trial very closely.

Mr. Coleman, thank you very much for being here.

CHARLES F. COLEMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So I am not a lawyer. I`ve just been watching this as a layman along with everybody else in the country. And the first day that the defense attorney made this case for a mistrial focusing on black pastors I thought that it was a misstatement. I thought that it was a weird mistake. It clearly wasn`t a mistake. This appears to be a strategy by the defense counsel.

Is it one that makes any sense to you as an attorney, as somebody who`s seen these kinds of trials before?

COLEMAN: Well, from technical aspect of the trial, what you`re looking at is the defense attorney attempting to create a record for appeal. What he is trying to do is basically put on the record anything that he can around this issue in order to try to preserve that record so that when and if his client is convicted, he will have an appeal.

But I think there`s a broader conversation to be had. Ultimately, when the facts are not on your side you resort to these sorts of tactics as a Hail Mary to appeal to the lowest common denominator of what you see in that jury. People have to understand, one of the first rules of being a trial attorney is understanding your audience.

You have to know your audience. And at this point what you have seen from the defense attorneys, not just Mr. Gough but also will George McMichael`s defense attorney today, is the decision to put down the whispering and the dog whistle and pick up the bullhorn.

[21:45:10]

And that`s what you saw when you saw Jordan McMichael`s defense attorney today literally make references to Ahmaud Arbery that described him almost as though he were a runaway slave. So there is a sense of white entitlement that extends from the actual merits of this case to the way that this case has been litigated by the defense, and I believe that they are aiming to actually trigger something that is latent within one of the jurors so that they can get somebody who`s a holdout and ultimately get a hung jury.

Because it`s important to remember they only need one. They don`t need everybody to be on the same page. They just need one for a hung jury and he walks.

MADDOW: Is it also possible that what they`re trying to do is trigger such outrage, such upset, such public revulsion at the sort of racially charged stuff that you`re describing there that they do create some sort of environment outside the courtroom that the judge might be moved to think is going to have some effect on the case or that they might be able to so upset people that they`ll create an environment around this case that will otherwise somehow be able to be called on inside the courtroom as a way that would be beneficial to these defendants?

I mean, it strikes me that Mr. Gough, whether he`s a smart attorney or not, it strikes me that he knows what he`s doing as he`s been escalating his rhetoric with each passing day.

COLEMAN: Well, he`s been quite intentional. And like I said now on today with the summations that he with heard from both of the other defendants and their attorneys, we now know that what they are trying to do essentially is to answer a call, put out a call for the opposite. So, you have 100 black pastors who show up in support of this family in order to console them, in order to comfort them, and in order to advocate for justice. What it sounds like to me is that he is putting out a call, a not so veiled call for the opposite to show up and try to balance the scales in a way that could potentially influence this trial, either directly in front of the jury in a way that somehow gets to them and changes the scope of the environment or, as you said, potentially to the judge in which case he becomes concerned about the environment and is potentially willing to grant a mistrial.

MADDOW: Charles F. Coleman Jr., a former prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York district attorney`s office -- Mr. Coleman, it`s a real pleasure to have you with us tonight as this jury gets the case tomorrow. The spotlight`s going to be all the more intense. It`s really helpful to have your clarity tonight. Thank you.

COLEMAN: Thanks, Rachel.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:51:45]

MADDOW: The letter says, quote, this is no ordinary moment in the course of our democracy. It is a moment of great peril and risk. Though disputes over the legitimacy of America`s elections have been growing for two decades, they have taken a catastrophic turn since the 2020 election.

Republican state legislatures in Georgia, Florida, Texas and across the country have enacted partisan laws intended to make it harder for Democrats to win elections. Most alarmingly, these laws have forged legal pathways for partisan politicians to overturn state election results if they`re dissatisfied with the outcome. The partisan politicization of what has been trustworthy nonpartisan administration of elections represents a clear and present threat to the future of electoral democracy in the United States.

Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act, but time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching.

Midnight is approaching. More than 150 political scientists and other scholars of democracy signed on to that stark letter today urging Congress to pass voting rights protections, even if they means they have to suspend the filibuster rule in order to do so. That one Senate rule, the filibuster in recent years has been dropped for lower court judicial nominees and dropped for other presidential appointees. It was quite recently dropped for nominations to the United States Supreme Court. It keeps changing. It`s not like it`s this sent down on a stone tablet from heaven. It`s been changed a lot, even recently.

But that one rule, the often changed filibuster rule has been right at the heart of every setback on voting rights legislation in Congress this term. Republicans will not vote for voting rights legislation. They have used the filibuster to block it every time it`s come up for a vote, every time Democrats are in the majority, and Democrats themselves fix this problem by saying the filibuster will no longer apply to voting rights legislation, or at least they could make it harder to use a filibuster to block legislation on this issue specifically.

But the problem with that is Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who this weekend told "The Washington Post" that she won`t allow that and her saying no alone means effectively all voting rights progress, all voting rights protections are blocked because of her.

And so, that standstill on the issue has led to warnings like this stark one we got today, warning our democracy is in peril if we don`t do something to course correct. The political scholars like that are not the only people who are making noise on this issue. I want to tell you about something else going on tonight that you may or may not have known about before tonight, but it`s a serious thing.

Radio host and civil rights activist Joe Madison, who has been around forever, he is a sort of giant in the field of talk radio. He is known as the Black Eagle. Joe Madison is on his 15th day of a hunger strike for voting rights.

Mr. Madison is Israel in 70s. 15 days without food is a serious thing. He says he will not eat solid food until Congress passes and President Biden signs voting rights protections. He is a 72-year-old man, a prostate cancer survivor. When he announced the strike on his radio show 15 days ago, he explained why he decided on this dangerous form of protest.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOE MADISON, RADIO HOST: Somebody might ask and I`ll say, well, why a hunger strike?

[21:55:04]

My response so that, and I`ll asked 100 times, just as food is necessary to sustain life, the right to vote is necessary to sustain democracy.

I`m adamant about bringing attention to our plight, related to protecting voting rights. And I`m someone who really cares. Now, again, questions will be asked, well, aren`t you concerned about your health, about yourself? And I`ll tell you what my response to that is. I have four children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

I am more concerned about what`s going to happen to them and our country. And this is not business as usual. It simply is not business as usual.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: Joe Madison, again, giant of modern American talk radio, says he is basically starving for voting rights, and that while his health matters, quote, our right to vote matters more. He is on day 15.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: One last thing to tell you before we go. It has been over a year since I last spoke with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Since then she has been helping with the effort to evacuate at-risk women out of Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops out of that country. She is also out with her first novel, a quite good political thriller called "State of Terror" that she wrote with Louise Penny. Since I already read everything Louise Penny writes, that was an easy one to get through. It`s kind of amazing.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to join me here live at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night. It`s going to be my first interview with her since the 2020 election and everything in between. Really looking forward to that. I will see you then.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening, Lawrence.