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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/3/21



NBC News has predicted that the winner of the New Jersey governor`s race is the incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy.


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

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris, thank you very much, my friend. You just did that quick hit with -- put Chris back.


MADDOW: Hello. With Steve Kornacki about the call in New Jersey. The call came in within the past couple of minutes, right?

HAYES: Yes, we were in commercial break and we came out of it to go to Kornacki at the big board. That is now, as of MSNBC, an official call, that Phil Murphy will be reelected as governor of New Jersey.

MADDOW: Okay. What I`m going to do, if don`t mind, if I`m not retroactively stepping on your toes, I`m going to ask Steve Kornacki who has been awake for a very long time, I`m going to ask him to come back in our second segment and walk us through why it took a long time, and why the call came in in this way, how close it`s going to being in the end.

But just to be clear, the call has officially been made by NBC.

HAYES: It has. You are in the clear, I`ll pass -- I`m sure there`s someone who can pass that message along to Steve, but I will.

MADDOW: We`ll do so on TV here, just to be safe.

HAYES: Yeah.

MADDOW: All right. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

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

All right. Twenty-five years ago, in 1996, a lawsuit was filed in Great Britain. It was a libel lawsuit filed against an historian and her publisher. Deborah Lipstadt is a renowned historian. Her field of study is anti-Semitism.

And a few years before this lawsuit was filed, she had in fact published a book on anti-Semitism. It was specifically about this weirdly accelerating phenomenon on the far right where people were denying that the Holocaust had ever happened, denying that the Nazis had actually killed millions of Jewish people during World War II. She wrote a seminal book about that.

And one of the most prominent promoters of that myth, a guy who tried not to look the part, he didn`t just stomp around with a shaved head and jackboots giving Nazi salutes. He wasn`t that kind of a guy. He was a guy who took a pseudo academic, fake intellectual approach to his Holocaust denial. He had a star role in her book and he sued her for libel, saying it was unfair of her to describe his scholarship the way she did, unfair for her to describe his scholarship as shoddy.

He said in fact libelous under British law for her to have said that he deliberately skewed the known evidence about the Holocaust, he knowingly, for one, used forged materials. He sued her over those claims that she made about him in her book.

And they went to trial. And it ended up being a remarkable thing, that trial, because in that libel trial, she and her legal team literally had to prove the Holocaust happened. Over the course of ten super intense weeks, they systematically went through all the fake pseudo scholarship and all the conspiracy theories and all the forged junk, all the garbage promoted by these Holocaust deniers on the far right, and they proved it all wrong in court. They proved that the Holocaust happened and these far right Nazi sympathizers were lying about it for political reasons.

The Holocaust denier guy, the guy who had brought the lawsuit, brought it specifically in England so his claims could have this kind of a trial, because he was so sure he would be vindicated and everybody would have to believe him now, he lost the case, he lost in spectacular fashion. The ruling in the case was more than 300 pages long.

In the ruling, the judge summarized the evidence that yes, the Holocaust happened, including the gas chambers and all the rest of it, and yes, it was the Nazis who did it, and yes, the Holocaust deniers like this guy were deliberately lying about the Holocaust, and their deliberate lies about were in service of their own racist and neo-Nazi sympathies and associations. I mean, it was a complete destruction of his argument, and his false claims.

Deborah Lipstadt actually wrote a book about the trial itself, called "History On Trial", very famous book. It became a very good movie not that long ago.

But the Holocaust denier guy himself, he appealed the ruling after he lost. He lost the appeal as well, unanimously. He was then in the end obliged to pay all of the costs associated with this lengthy trial. He himself had brought this lawsuit and then he had lost every single aspect of it. So he was ascribed responsibility for paying all the legal fees on both sides. And the costs of the trial were considerable.

And because he was assessed the legal costs of the trial, he was in fact bankrupted, which kind of ruined him in terms of internationally promoting his Holocaust denial toxicity.

Deborah Lipstadt, there`s a lot more to say about her.


She has had an incredible career, continues to have an incredible career. But, you know, whatever she does in life, she will always be the person who personally bankrupted the world`s most prominent Holocaust denier in part by charging him for the privilege of building an unimpeachable public record that the Holocaust happened and that the Nazis sympathizes like him that it didn`t happen or lying when they said so. And that is something that you can really take to the bank.

Deborah Lipstadt has been named by President Biden to be the U.S. government`s State Department envoy against global anti-Semitism. She -- as I said she has gone on to an illustrious career.

But today, that same historian, Deborah Lipstadt, was in a courtroom in Virginia.

Charlottesville, Virginia, is in the midst of a civil trial right now, in which the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists, other far-right groups that organize the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville Virginia in 2017, that cast of character, is being sued by some of the people who were hurt that day.

And today, historian, Deborah Lipstadt, who again has declared the fame of having personally bankrupted the world leading Holocaust denier, today, Deborah Lipstadt was on the stand in that civil trial in Charlottesville. She testified to the jury as an expert, about what some of the chants and the symbol of that rally meant. Why were there so many references to the number 88, in the crowd?

Deborah Lipstadt explained today that because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, eight eight to these folks HH, by which they mean Heil Hitler. Well there was all this black sun on the shield, and the patches, and the stuff that these guys wore at the Unite the Right rally.

Deborah Lipstadt explains that the black sun was a symbol the Nazis used as part of their quasi religious symbolism in World War II. The image was inlaid into the floor at a specific castle in Germany where the Nazi SS sent its members when they needed a tune-up in terms of their Nazi indoctrination.

Why did the guys at the Unite the Right rally say you will not replace us and Jews will not replace us? Deborah Lipstadt explained the long and boring, anti-Semitic fantasy that Jews are orchestrating an anti-white people conspiracy, where they`re pulling the strings to make it be more people of color in America and fewer white people and somehow white people will be replaced and the Jews are the puppet masters behind all of it.

She explained all of that today as an expert witness on the stand.

And because the defendants in this case are who they are, a number of the white supremacists and neo-Nazi defendants at the Charlottesville trial, they don`t have lawyers. They`re representing themselves in court. They`re acting as their own lawyers.

Reporter Arno Rosenfeld is reporting on the trial today for the "Foreword", and today, he captured what the dialogue was like today between one of the neo-Nazi defendants who was on the stand while he was being questioned by another neo-Nazi guy who was acting as his own lawyer.

Here is how he wrote it up. Quote, defendant representing himself, Christopher Cantwell, asks fellow defendant Matthew Heimbach on cross examination, what`s your favorite Holocaust joke. Uh, my favorite, Heimbach applies with a laugh? Question is withdrawn.

Cantwell now asking detailed questions about Adolf Hitler`s political views. He asks Heimbach if he`s raid "Mein Kampf." Yes, Heimbach says. Multiple times? Yes, Heimbach says. Asked whether he believed Hitler murdered 6 million Jews, Heimbach says, quote, no. That was Cantwell`s final question in that part of the cross examination.

That was what happened in Virginia today. Weird backdrop for electoral politics, right? Weird backdrop for a big election with the eyes of the nation on it.

What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, this far right rally that resulted in one woman being killed, more than a dozen seriously injured, the parading of these neo-Nazi groups, the torches, chants about Jews, replacement theory and all the rest of it, Charlottesville is what President Biden said prompted him to run for president in 2020. April 2019, he released a video formally saying he would run for president. The first two words in that video were "Charlottesville, Virginia."


President Trump was, of course, president at the time that Charlottesville happened. He famously immediately thereafter said there were fine people on both sides in Charlottesville, meaning there were some fine people among the counterprotesters against the Nazis that day but also fine people on the Nazi side too.

Reporter Christopher Miller has been covering the trial every day for BuzzFeed News. He wrote this week about how one of the defendants, actually the one who asked what`s your favorite Holocaust joke today to his fellow defendant, that guy said in court filings in this case that he shares his, quote, views on the pressing issues of our time with former President Donald Trump. He shares his views with former president Trump. He also said he shares those views, incidentally, with the 8:00 p.m. host on the Fox News Channel who has in fact made long arguments on the air for this replacement theory that Deborah Lipstadt explained today and that we all heard out of the lips of those guys with Tiki torches in 2017 in Charlottesville.

And so this trial is unfolding now in Virginia. It`s a weird backdrop for this big, important election in Virginia, right? It`s actually quite insane for this to be humming along in the background alongside the other normal political dynamics that we have between the American right and the American left, between the two major political parties.

But that`s where we are. Somewhere between the normal ebb and flow of politics and this freakish riptide that`s pulling us out into the darkest places we know, the darkest places we can imagine. That`s where we are. But both those things are happening at once, right?

This really dark stuff on the right is the backdrop, is the background noise, is this thing that sort of lurks just offshore while we do normal electoral politics between Democrats and Republicans in the foreground.

And when I say that normal electoral politics does have a sort of normal ebb and flow, I mean it emphatically. I mean, in terms of what happened last night, consider this. The first year that George H.W. Bush was president in 1989, his party lost the governor`s race in Virginia. And then his party lost the governor`s race in New Jersey.

The first year Bill Clinton was president in 1993, his party lost the governor`s race in Virginia and his party lost the governor`s race in New Jersey. The first year George W. Bush was president in 2001, his party lost the governor`s race in Virginia and his party lost the governor`s race in New Jersey.

The first year Barack Obama was president in 2009, his party lost the governor`s race in Virginia and his party lost the governor`s race in New Jersey. And yes, in the first year Donald Trump was president in 2017, his party lost the governor`s race in Virginia and his party lost the governor`s race in New Jersey.

The Virginia and New Jersey governors` races always happen a year after presidential politics and they always follow the same pattern. A lot of things in politics are subtle, nuanced, complicated. This is not one of those things.

Every year, after a new president is elected, his party loses the governorship in Virginia and the governorship in New Jersey. And this has been true all the way back through the 1980s.

Last night, it would appear that, like every other president in living memory, and admit it, a few of those presidents you even forgot about, it would appear of that night the same thing just happened to Joe Biden as happened to all the other presidents like clockwork, like it`s written in stone. Everybody freak out. The only one difference here for Joe Biden is that he only lost one of the governor`s races. The Democrats only lost one of them.

As we just learned, NBC News has just called the New Jersey governor`s race for Democrat Phil Murphy. Democrat Phil Murphy has been reelected to a second term in New Jersey, defeating his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. We`re going to be talking with the great Steve Kornacki shortly about why it took so long to call this race, how close it will be in the end. But it looks like the Democratic Party did lose the governor`s race in Virginia but not the one in New Jersey, which breaks pattern in a way that is favorable toward the Democrats.

And honestly, the headlines today were like, how the Democrats were destroyed. If the Democrats aren`t panicking now, they sure ought to be. Honestly, there is one thing that they ought to maybe panic about, which is that the polling was terrible again, both in Virginia and in New Jersey, the public polling for a lot of the race seems to have been pretty much off like it has been for a couple of cycles now. If they don`t figure out a way to fix that, their campaigns won`t be calibrated right in any elections in the future. They can panic about the fact that polling still is bad, sure, yes, okay.


But honestly, what happened here, for the past 30 years, every single time we`ve had a new president, that first year of the new president, the president`s party lost both the Virginia governor and New Jersey governor, every single time, except this time, Democrats didn`t lose New Jersey. In a rational world, this wouldn`t be the cause for Democratic panic, quite the contrary. Democrats beat the odd. Ronald Reagan is the last president who pulled this off, the last time a president managed to lose only one of those governorships in the first year that he was in office, it was the great communicator himself, Ronald Reagan.

Biden has done something that no other presidents have been able to do since Reagan. You would think this would be cause for celebration in the Democratic Party. But that`s not how we do things. In the beltway press today you can see for yourself how they treated it.

But, you know, even if you want to take a wider lens of it, look at how else things have been going in big, high profile elections for the Democrats since President Biden was elected. Back in June, there was a congressional special election. It was in New Mexico. Republicans saw that as a major opportunity, talked about how optimistic they were for that outcome, and that congressional race in June, ultimately the Democrat not only won the seat but won by a larger than expected margin, womp-womp.

In September, Republicans and especially the conservatives got themselves very excited about their big recall effort against the Democratic governor of California, statewide recall, they were going to throw him out of office, the Republicans would rise up in California and humiliate the Democrats. What happened in that race? The Democratic governor did fine. In fact, he won by just about as much as he won the seat by in the first place, just a colossal waste of money and energy and breath. It went absolutely nowhere for them.

And now, last night, for the first time since the 1980s, Republicans weren`t able to flip those two governorships like the opposing party has been able to do in the first year of every new presidency going all the way back to Poppy Bush. They only got one. Dems held onto the other.

Why this scenario should be cause for Democratic freak-out is beyond me. I mean, if you`re Democrat, you enjoy freaking out, if it`s good for you, knock yourself out, be my guest. But rationally, I mean, big picture, you would rather be the party of Joe Biden than the party of Donald Trump right now.

First of all, the Democrats are doing fine in the elections that have happened since Biden`s been president. I mean, look at all the headlines today in the beltway press. You would never know it but they`re actually beating the historical odds in terms of how things have panned out.

But also, look beyond the normal ebb and flow of electoral politics, because it is important, this weird humming that we`ve got in the background of our otherwise normal ebb and flow of electoral politics. I mean, the stuff going on in the background on the right is getting worse and weirder, not better.

"Huffington Post" was first to report today that of the Republicans who stood for office yesterday around the country, at least eight of the Republicans who won, who actually got elected last night, were people who participated in the events of January 6th in Washington in which a mob of Trump supporters violently attacked the U.S. Capitol to try to stop the election results from being certified. Two January 6th attendees were elected yesterday as Republicans to the Virginia House of Delegates, the Virginia state legislature. Other January 6th people got elected as Republicans in Watchung, New Jersey, and Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and Nampa, Idaho, and Braintree, Massachusetts, and elsewhere.

As the former president himself tries to shield his White House records so they won`t be handed over to the investigation into the January 6th attack, today we got word there is a heavy hitting new addition to the legal team representing the committee that`s carrying out that investigation. Mary McCord is the former chief of the national security division at the U.S. Justice Department. As Trump mounts this fight with the investigation to try to stop his White House records from being handed over to them, Mary McCord has just joined the legal team for the investigation, for the January 6th investigating committee. And I don`t know how the former president feels about that but I would not want to be on the other side of her in a case like this.

They`re still going for it, though. Today in Wisconsin, a pro-Trump sheriff called for the arrest and for criminal charges to be filed against the whole state election board in Wisconsin because they passed rules to help people vote in nursing homes during the pandemic. That`s become the new fantasy in Wisconsin of how the election must have been stolen there.


In addition to that Trumpy sheriff today announcing that he wants everybody arrested, Wisconsin Republicans in the legislature are paying for one of these investigations into the 2020 election results in that state. "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" has figured out despite Republicans` efforts to keep secret who is actually conducting their so-called audit into the election, it turns out the guy running it is a Trump appointee and he`s being assisted by two former Trump White House staffers.

That`s the objective team that they`ve got reviewing the election results in Wisconsin. Three people from the Trump administration are running the investigation into whether or not Trump was really legitimately beaten in Wisconsin.

Even where they`re not doing one of these audits or these investigations, this is what the theme music is now in Republican campaigns now. The Republican Accountability Project this week posted this footage of the Republican candidate who ran for U.S. Senate in Delaware against Democratic senator Chris Coons this past year. Chris Coons beat this Republican candidate by more than 100,000 votes. It was not close at all.

But now, she`s doing the rounds in right wing media saying she`s calling on the Delaware state police, she wants state troopers to come to her aid to get her that Senate seat, to somehow take it from senator Chris Coons I guess by force, because she says she`s figured out that she`s probably secretly the senator. She`s super sure she won but she wants armed backup from state troopers to go take the seat for her.


LAUREN WITZKE, POLITICIAN: They have proof of the dead voters. The people of Delaware, it`s not just my seat that was stolen, it was the people`s Senate seat. Chris Coons is not the U.S. senator from the state of Delaware. It`s looking like Lauren Witzke is.

So, let me tell you something. I have a plan. As a private citizen, what do you do when you have stolen property taken from you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You call the cops.

WITZKE: Exactly. I`m asking the Delaware state police to stand with me. I`m waiting for the audits to be completely -- irrefutable evidence of -- we have awesome people working on the audit -- irrefutable evidence of election fraud, and the stolen election.

And I`m asking the Delaware state police to stand with me to help me retrieve the people`s stolen property so that is my plan to reclaim my Senate seat. If it is without a reasonable doubt that that seat was mine, you know doggone well I`m going to take it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, and you know what? That`s exactly what the cops are there for, exactly what an upstanding, moral, impartial, just law enforcement agency who swears an oath should live up to. They should live up to that oath.


MADDOW: That`s what cops are fore. That`s what the cops are for. That`s exactly what the cops are for. I`m going to go and take that seat. I want armed assistance.

State troopers should go take that Senate seat by force in Delaware. That was the Republican Senate candidate from Delaware.

This is the background music. This is the weird humming noise you hear now behind the electoral politics we sort of otherwise know how to handle and know how to cover, otherwise know how to live with.

The 2020 election was a year ago today. In the ensuing year, Republican voters, egged on by their leaders, have become less and less convinced that the election should have counted. They`ve become less and less convinced that those election results were real election results and that Joe Biden really is president. They`ve become more and more convinced to the point where a large majority of them are now convinced not only that the election was stolen but the election results should be overturned and Donald Trump should be instated as president now.

And in Delaware, apparently they want the state troopers to go take a Senate seat for them too.

The 2020 election was a year ago today. The 2021 election, these elections last night, rationally should not be a cause for Democratic freak-out. The ebb and flow of politics sort of proceeds apace. Democrats losing one of the governors` races in Virginia and New Jersey instead of the two that the party in power in the White House always loses the year after a new president is elected, that shouldn`t be a cause, rationally, for Democratic freak-out.

If you are looking for something to freak out about here, I would suggest the weird humming noise you hear in the background might be worth a closer look. The background politics, the background to the politics on the right now are as dark and as frenetic as we have ever seen in our lifetime on the right. Democrats losing a governorship the first year of a new president is not a cause for Democrats to lose their mind. But honestly, there`s plenty of mind losing to do if you want to watch the big picture here.



MADDOW: NBC News has now projected that Democratic incumbent governor Phil Murphy has held onto the governorship in the great state of New Jersey. NBC news only updated its call within the last 30 minutes to project that governor Murphy will win that race. That`s a call more than 24 hours after polls closed in this election.

And lots of questions remain including how close it will be in the end, will the Ciattarelli campaign request a recount? Also why was the polling so off? In Virginia at least, the polling at the end showed the race to be really close, with Glenn Youngkin having a small lead. In New Jersey, the polling showed Phil Murphy with a healthy and in some cases even double digit lead over Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.

At this hour, Phil Murphy, again, is projected to keep his job. But he`s ahead by just about one percentage point.

Joining us now is the great Steve Kornacki, MSNBC national political correspondent.


He has basically been at the studio since yesterday, waiting on the results from New Jersey.

Steve, your voice has dropped an octave, which I know means that you are dehydrated. I hope you`re close to the end.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we got the call. We got the call in Virginia sometime last night, now we have New Jersey, so there you go.

MADDOW: Tell me what you think people should understand about why it took more than 24 hours to make this call. Was this a slow count or was the reason this took so long just because it ended up being so close in the end?

KORNACKI: Yeah, a couple of things. Obviously the fact that it was this close, this surprisingly close, we say Joe Biden won this state by 16 points. Not many Republicans this century have even made it close in a statewide race in New Jersey. They had Chris Christie win a couple of governor`s races, not much else for Republicans to brag about in New Jersey the last 20 years.

Here`s Ciattarelli suddenly who got within striking distance this thing for a while, looked like might actually pull it out. I think a couple of things happened. Number one, there`s mechanical thing here why New Jersey doesn`t allow these counties to begin opening up and processing the mail ballots, the vote by mail ballots they receive until midnight on election day. So, I think that created a backlog in some situations here that stretched things out, particularly with the mail ballots.

Number two, though, I think in terms of just providing information, the counties, a lot of these counties in New Jersey really kind of fell short on that front. That was something talking to Republicans, talking to Democrats, they were both talking about as these results came in. It could be very unclear how much vote was still left in some of these counties, exactly how much of the vote by mail had been counted.

It was unclear in some of these counties. I think that created a bit of confusion as the results came. Okay, Ciattarelli is ahead, but how much vote by mail was left? I think there was a lot of confusion on that front too. Also there were some issues, it appears, at some of the polling places.

One issue in particular I think today that slowed things up was in Essex County, around Newark right there. There`s basically 56 precincts in Essex County, heavily Democratic Essex County, where the voting machines are now essentially impounded because there was some kind of an issue at the polling place. The county clerk says he`s got to get a court order now to get the machines back, to have them counted. He was a little vague about what it was, he said it was an issue involving poll workers.

But basically now there`s a whole process to get those machines back and get everything counted from them. Again, there would have been a big batch of votes there from Essex County, likely would have been a very pro Murphy batch, might have sped things up too. So a couple of things all happening at once.

MADDOW: On that point, particularly what you were describing in Newark, do you expect there will be a recount here? I`m trying to remember what the exact provisions are for a recount in New Jersey. I seem to remember there isn`t an exact threshold by which a recount happens automatically. But if you lose, you can request one if you pay for it, right?

KORNACKI: Right, a recount will happen if Ciattarelli decides he wants a recount. If you pay for it, you can have a recount. I haven`t seen the Ciattarelli campaign put out a statement today about just making sure that every vote was counted here, didn`t really get into anything specific about recount. There are more votes in Essex Counties, where there are votes to be counted.

There are provisional ballots to be counted. All those things I think are sources of vote that will probably pad this Murphy lead. So I do expect it to rise from where it is. Not significantly, we won`t be talking about a five or six-point Murphy win in this state but it could get bigger than what you see here, and then it would be up to Ciattarelli to make his decision. If you`re above a two-point margin or something statewide, that`s a little different when it comes to recounts than a 0.2 margin.

MADDOW: Steve, there`s bottle of hundred-proof rye in my office right now, if you`re sitting in my desk chair, you go with your left elbow, there`s a door that doesn`t look like a door, if you open that up, you can have it.

KORNACKI: How about that? Now that you`ve told everybody where it is, I hope nobody beats me to it.

MADDOW: I was going to say, you should go now because now everybody knows where it is. But you deserved it, my friend. Thank you for all of these hours. I appreciate it.

KORNACKI: Hey, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

MADDOW: All right. And I will just tell the control room, if my office door is locked, either get Steve a lock pick or let him in because, boy, yeah.

All right. Lots more to get to this evening. Stay with us.



MADDOW: Okay, it`s actually kind of simple. You just have to listen closely. At the beginning, when you`re first starting to hear it, it won`t seem like it makes much sense. But just stick with it, let it wash over you, even the Mussolini part, and eventually it will sink in and make sense.


M.L.: General Patton is the grandson of Abraham Lincoln.

MIKE PENNY: Lincoln, yeah.

M.L.: All right. General Patton had a brother which was Benito Mussolini as well who came -- so General Patton was the son of William Wallace Lincoln. Benito Mussolini was the son of Thomas "Tad" Lincoln, all right?

Joseph Kennedy, the older brother of John F. Kennedy, presumed dead in World War II, was not dead. He went into hiding for protection. He had children. Joseph Kennedy begat General Michael Flynn who happens to be first cousins to John-John and his siblings as well.


Trump is the biological son of General Patton which makes him first cousins to John-John and the Kennedys as well. It`s all about the blood line. It`s all about the blood line.


MADDOW: I told you it was simple. I told you it was simple. See, it`s all about the blood line.

See how it`s -- the Mussolini, Lincoln, and the -- Patton, Mussolini. So those two gentlemen are promoters of the QAnon conspiracy theory which gained all sorts of improbable traction on the right during the presidency of Donald Trump, and they`re still around.

QAnon folks think that the -- or propound the idea that the entire American political and cultural establishment, all the Democrats and lots of celebrities too, they`re all a big Satan-worshipping cabal of blood- drinking child sex traffickers. And crucially, Donald Trump is the one who will defeat them all and emerge victorious and all the Democrats will be sent to Guantanamo and there will be mass public executions and blood will run in the streets.

I know some of this feels hard to follow at first. It can be hard to sort of translate into sane. But for something that happens today, it`s worth trying to catch what our dudes said here right at the end of that clip.


M.L.: Trump is the biological son of General Patton which makes him first cousins to John-John and the Kennedys.


MADDOW: Donald Trump is the biological first cousin of former President John F. Kennedy and the rest of the Kennedy family. He`s not. That`s the idea.

Yesterday, hundreds of Americans, hundreds of our fellow Americans, QAnon supporters, gathered in Dallas, Texas at Dealey Plaza, which is have President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. And they turned up yesterday and waited around for hours because they rightfully believed in their heart of hearts, they truly, honestly, un-ironically believed that President Kennedy`s son, JFK Jr., was going to reveal himself at the site where his father died to announce that not only was he not dead himself but he was reentering public life just in time to become Donald Trump`s running mate in 2024.

I tell you that this wasn`t a joke to these folks and they earnestly believed it. Some of them did have shirts made up for the occasion. This one says Trump/Kennedy, Keep the World Great. This one says Trump/JFK Jr. 2024. They think that JFK Jr. is alive and they`re going to run for president and vice president in 2024.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did we land on the moon?


MADDOW: Did we land on the moon? No.

They also shared cool new thoughts on the moon landing. Did we land on the moon? No.

John F. Kennedy Jr., according to these votes, was expected to reveal himself at 12:29 p.m., the exact time President Kennedy was shot, at precisely that time the crowd piously recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But then, weirdly, he didn`t turn up.

Neither JFK Jr. nor his dad nor anybody else from the Kennedy blood line was, you know -- appeared mystically at Dealey Plaza. This is all insane, right?

But it`s hundreds of people who believe Democrats and celebrities are secret blood drinking pedophiles, stood around for hours to witness what they believe would be the re-incarnation of the several deceased Democrat and celebrities who are certainly not blood drinking pedophiles, to watch the son of John f. Kennedy joined Donald Trump, his first cousin on the presidential ticket to 2024.

If you talk to people who follow QAnon, who sort of track this train of online extremism, the whole JFK Jr.`s coming back to run with Trump thing is considered a fringe believe even within the QAnon universe. This is something that really -- around the outer edges of that movement.

But with that in mind, that just really makes it particularly striking, that this many people showed up in Texas. This week, to rally around a conspiracy so fringe, it`s rejected by even some of the most devout QAnon promoters. It`s funny, but not funny ha.

What are we supposed to think about the fact that a group of people can mobilize effectively in decent numbers around such an extreme conspiracy theory about Donald Trump`s presumed return to power? Something that is so on the outer fringes of those kinds of conspiratorial beliefs, that even people in the middle of those conspiracy theories considerate enough to act on.


Joining us now is Ben Collins. He`s a senior reporter for NBC News. He covers disinformation and extremism and Internet.

Ben, thanks for being here I really appreciate you making time.


MADDOW: It is easy to sort of point and drop your jaw and be agog at this. But I feel like one of the -- I feel like you`ve been smart about how our fellow Americans. And these are people who are politically engaged in their own way. And people, these folks are looking for something and believing they are finding it within these strains.

Did you feel surprise that there were so many people who actually turned up there? Given how obscure and far out these theories are that motivated them even?

COLLINS: Yes, Rachel, I was shocked about this frankly. Look in the QAnon universe, this is like a denomination about JFK, Jr. thing.

Let`s back up to what QAnon is, right, it`s this idea that there`s this guy named Q embedded in the government, he was saying there was a big secret plan from Donald Trump to save the world from pedophiles. At the end of it, all these Satanic pedophiles who they believe are like Hillary Clinton and Fox cinematic universe characters would be killed on the streets on live television. This is why this is scary, because all these people believe this and are hoping for it.

But Q, that messenger at the heart of, who was posting on EndChan, that message for the hosted white supremacy, Q, explicitly said, look, he kind of got sick of his followers. In December 2018, he said look, this is not true. The JFK Jr. thing, he is not alive, he is not coming back, also, flat earth, not real. And also, there was a third thing that he said, which is elections are safe. Don`t worry about. He said this on December 2018.

So, a lot of QAnon followers, moved off of. That the majority of them have moved off of that. And they have moved on two different kinds of series, but there is this one subset that is extremely religious subset that is made Donald Trump basically messiah in the space. And JFK Jr. as his like ostensible running mate when it comes back to life.

It`s extremely religious, but they do firmly believe the stuff.

MADDOW: Ben, is it Texas specific? Or did people come from around the country to be in Texas for this thing?

COLLINS: People came from around the country. They came to me Telegram influences. Telegram is sort of the Wild West, it`s like Facebook five years ago or no one`s getting man-to-man or wet, everybody is getting covered because they were even free speech. There are fake JFK Jr. accounts on there, they sell things like Trump coin, may try to get people to give them cryptocurrency, and Trump coined as well.

And there`s these two other guys, they don`t even use the real names. Their names are a bunch of words with letters at the end of it. And they have hundreds of thousands of followers on Telegram, and that`s who showed up for these things today. It wasn`t even the name brand QAnon people you would know from the insurrection, it was a bunch of people who wrote a following since then, it`s kind of grown its own new life since then.

MADDOW: By necessity, you have to think of things that happened in the real world, not just online, as an escalation. Once people leave the keyboard, and get out from behind the keyboard and actually physically go somewhere, and show their face, and dress up, and get the t-shirt, and hold the flag. It is an escalation. It is in a renewed commitment in effect to that subculture in those beliefs.

COLLINS: Yeah. Two major points there. First of all, once you d platform these people from Facebook and Twitter, they go away largely. These groups are not going to stick. But they are much more committed, these people were livestreaming to each other, and they were just reaffirming their own sort of literature. They were creating their own language in vocabulary about how to talk about this. About how to talk to each other about this religion they were creating in real-time.

And the scary thing is, even the people who think they`re nuts in the QAnon community, the endgame is still there, the endgame is still, let`s go murder our enemies. If we get rid of these enemies, if we get rid of Hillary Clinton, if we get rid of all these people who we believe are killing children, for their blood, and everything will be okay. And this is a tiny subset of a much larger movement. And all of them believe this.

MADDOW: Ben Collins, senior reporter for NBC News covering this information, extremism, and the internet -- Ben, thank you very much for being here. It`s spooky an unsteadily story. Thanks.

COLLINS: Thank you.

MADDOW: We have much more to come tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: As we`ve been talking about tonight, since the 1980s, the first year of every new president being in office, that new president`s party loses the governor`s races in Virginia and New Jersey. It`s happened for every newly elected president all the way back to the late 1980s. Last night, President Biden broke that 30-year streak when the Democrats did lose one governorship, they lost in Virginia, but they held on to the governor`s seat in New Jersey.

So, overall, in historical terms, not a terrible night for the Democratic Party as a whole, despite what you`re seeing in the headlines today. That said in Virginia, the balance sure did shift, and there`s an interesting question as to how much it has shifted. And this is something that we have seen before in recently history.


And in 2017 when the results were tallied on election, many of the hundred seats in the house, Republicans had 50 of them, Democrats have 49, in the final seat was a tie, literally a tie, the Democrats in the Republican in that last race both got the exact same number of votes.

In the end the way they decided that, race was they pulled the winners name out of a bowl. They put both candidates names in a film canister, they pulled one of a man of a bowl, that person got to be the elected official, in that Virginia state legislative district, in and up being the Republican whose name was drawn, and that is how the Republicans got 51 seat majority in the House delegates after the 2017 election.

In addition to that unexpected, problem of a literal tie, there was another problem, if a Democrat had won that, that would`ve meant that the Virginia House of delegates would`ve also voted in a dead even tie, 50 Democrats, 50 Republicans. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the House of Delegates. There is no plan for what to do for how to govern if that happens, if it`s literally a 50/50 tie between the two parties.

Now, just four years later, it looks like we`re on the verge of a potential, tie in the Virginia House of Delegates again. According to the Washington Post, Republicans have been able to win 50 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, still a number of races that have to be called, the Republicans win one more obviously the control of Virginia house of delegates our right. But if Democrats hold on to the remaining seats, it will be 50/50. There is no tie breaking provision for how that House will then be governed.

Maybe they will pull something out of a bowl again? I don`t know. That remains undecided at this hour.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight again. The news breaking with this past hour, NBC News has predicted that the winner of the New Jersey governor`s race is the incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy. That means, it was a split decision last night with Republicans taken the governorship in Virginia, the Democrats holding on, narrowly to the governorship in New Jersey, that now being made official within this past hour by NBC News.

All right. We`ll see you again this time tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.