The Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in critical challenge too Roe v. Wade. Interview with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Really happy to have you here.
Quick personal note before we start. Tonight is my parents` wedding anniversary. They have been married for 53 years. Come on.
We should all aspire to such greatness and such happiness. Happy anniversary, you crazy kids. Fifty-three years. Absolutely fantastic. Personal note over.
All right. Tonight in the news, it is one of those nights where it feels like we`re doing batting practice against five different pitching machines all at once and all a lot of the stories are big and complex and interesting.
The first one we are covering tonight is, of course, tragic, and familiar. We had another mass shooting at a school today, this time in Michigan. This time, police say it was a 15-year-old student who is now in custody. Police say he shot and killed three other students and shot and wounded eight other people, including a teacher.
The boy was reportedly armed with a semiautomatic handgun. Again, he himself survived the shooting and is in custody. Three people are dead. At least two of those shot and wounded were in surgery as of this evening. Just a terrible and ongoing situation in Oakland County, Michigan, today, and into tonight. We`ll let you know more if we`re able to learn more on that this hour.
HAYES: Today, in Washington, in the D.C. federal appeals court, a panel of judges heard an appeal from former President Trump who is trying to prevent his White House records from being handed over for the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, and you learn in this business, particularly if you`re not a lawyer, you learn not to read too much into how the oral arguments go in any particular appeals court, but a lot of seasoned observers who were watching the arguments today are listening in on the arguments today, seems to conclude that the former president is not on very solid ground in terms of this legal effort to keep his records away from that investigation.
If he does in fact lose at this appeals court, which is what most observers are predicting, he presumably will keep appealing up to the United States Supreme Court. And that, if nothing else, will succeed in further delaying the matter, and that is not incidental in this case. That, in fact, appears to be his only real game at this point. He does not have any great legal arguments to make for why his White House records should be handed over.
That`s why there was a decisive earlier federal ruling against him. That`s why things went so poorly for him today in the courtroom at the appeals court. The legal arguments on his side are gossamer.
But if he can stretch out the legal proceedings to last as long as possible, hopefully through next year, well then, hey, maybe he`ll get lucky and Republicans will win back control of Congress next fall, whereupon they will undoubtedly fully get back in line behind Trump and they will shut the investigation down entirely. Why would they want to investigate the January 6th attack?
So, his delay strategy is really his only strategy. Every day he delays, every day this bangs around in the court system another day is another day he effectively wins. You think the courts would get wise to that and have some way to short circuit that when that`s the defense -- when that`s somebody`s full strategy in terms of bringing something before the courts, but alas, the courts appear to be sort of deliberately blind to that as a legal strategy, up and down, up and down our judicial system.
That said, the January 6th investigation in Congress is not itself just poking along. We heard from a member of that investigation, Congressman Pete Aguilar last night, that more than 250 people have already sat for interviews with them. Either because these witnesses said yes when they were asked politely, or these witnesses didn`t have a choice because they were subpoenaed and you`re legally obligated to respond to a subpoena.
Just tonight, we learned that the latest person to sit for an interview was Georgia`s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. He apparently was questioned by investigators today for more than four hours.
Now, you`ll recall, Brad Raffensperger was on the receiving end of a phone call from Donald Trump, a phone call we`ve all heard because it was recorded and later released to the public. The phone call in which Trump hounded Raffensperger to change the election results in the state of Georgia, to quote, find enough votes in Georgia to make it look like Trump won there, when in fact he had lost there. That call to Brad Raffensperger and other forms of pressure Trump and the Trump White House put on other Georgia officials, that pressure is already the subject of a criminal investigation in Georgia. It`s being carried out by Fulton County`s prosecutor, Fani Willis.
Among other things to know about that criminal investigation, my favorite fact about it is that Fani Willis has hired an experienced RICO prosecutor to help lead that investigation into that pressure on Georgia elections officials. Rico is the statute they use against organized crime, so hey, stick that in your stocking and call it Christmas.
But we don`t know the timeline for that criminal investigation in Georgia. We did learn something today, though. Today, I mean, if Brad Raffensperger had more than four hours in the chair in the investigation on Capitol Hill, it does seem clear the Georgia state criminal investigation of those matters is not stopping the congressional investigation from also covering that same territory. Sometimes, when you know there`s an ongoing criminal proceeding, an ongoing criminal investigation, congressional investigations just steer clear of that and stay away.
Brad Raffensperger was in the chair today for four hours, we know they appear to be not steering clear of this part of the scandal that involves him. So that`s one thing we learned today.
And I mean, you know, broad strokes. We know that the investigation appears to be looking at the January 6th Capitol attack itself as essentially just one part, the big public violent part of an extended, complex effort by Trump and those around him to try to keep him in power even after he lost the election.
Public reporting has shown that a key part of that effort was hatched by Trump and a Justice Department official named Jeff Clark, who wanted to try to use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to essentially force or induce states that Trump lost to nevertheless give Trump their electoral votes.
Jeff Clark, that previously low profile former Justice Department official, he has refused to comply with subpoenas in this investigation, just like Trump adviser Steve Bannon has.
Bannon, as you know, has already been hit with criminal federal charges for rejecting those subpoenas. Well, tonight, just before we got on the air, the January 6th investigation released its formal report on Jeff Clark rejecting their subpoenas. They`re going to vote on this report tomorrow at the end of the day, if passed is prologue, that vote will probably be overwhelming if not unanimous, that Jeff Clark should be referred to the U.S. Justice Department for potential prosecution, just as they referred Steve Bannon for potential prosecution and DOJ ultimately followed up and brought that indictment.
Here`s part of what the report says about why Jeff Clark got subpoenaed by the investigation in the first place. It says, quote, according to documents and testimony gathered by the select committee, in the weeks leading up to the January 6th attack on the Capitol, Jeffrey Bossert Clark participated in efforts to delegitimize the results of the 2020 election and delay or interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
The select committee believes that Mr. Clark had conversations with others in the federal government, including members of Congress, regarding efforts to delegitimize, disrupt, or overturn the election results in the weeks leading up to January 6th. The select committee seeks documents and testimony from Mr. Clark to obtain a complete understanding of the attempts to use the Justice Department to delegitimize and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, including illuminating the impetus for Mr. Clark`s involvement in the first place and with whom he was collaborated both inside and outside the government to advance these efforts.
Again, the January 6th investigation, we know as of an interview on this show last night, they have had more than 250 people in the witness chair already. And as such, they may already have a pretty good idea as to who Jeff Clark was collaborating with inside and outside the government on his alleged efforts to use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to keep Trump in power after he lost.
But in this formal report that was just released a couple hours ago tonight, the fact that the investigation is willing to go out formally and say that among the people they believe he collaborated with were multiple members of Congress, serving members of Congress, well, that`s news. We will see what we learn tomorrow when they are expected to vote to send Mr. Clark`s case to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. That will put the Justice Department in the position of having to decide whether or not they`re going to bring formal criminal proceedings against somebody who very recently was a senior official at that same department.
That meeting tomorrow where the January 6th investigation is going to take the vote as to whether or not they`re going to refer Clark for prosecution, that meeting is going to be open to the public so we`ll see what we can glean from that. We`ll be watching closely.
CNN was first to report today as well that Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appears to have diverted from what was otherwise looking like his own path to a criminal indictment. He has started to cooperate with the January 6th investigation.
Now, per a statement from the committee`s chairman, a statement from Bennie Thompson, the congressman who is the chair of the investigation, we don`t know how cooperative Mark Meadows is being. We don`t know exactly what he has handed over to the investigation or what he plans to hand over. And we don`t know when exactly he will testify, but per Congressman Thompson, Mark Meadows apparently will testify.
And you know, put yourself in Donald Trump`s shoes for a second. They`re smaller than you think. It`s easy. It can`t be a good day for a former president trying to duck a major investigation when one of your key accused co-conspirators, Jeff Clark, is now less than 24 hours away from learning he`s about to confront real prison time if he persists in his refusals to talk about the scheme he was allegedly hatching with you.
And on the same day, you find out that your chief of staff, your White House chief of staff, has agreed to talk. That can`t be a good day for you. But that was today.
And beyond that, we`re going to have a report, a wild report coming up in just a few minutes, on how the pressure on this part of Trump world over these issues is starting to lead to some pretty dramatic sort of publicly visible crack-ups. The highest profile figures on the craziest edge of Trump`s claims that he`s, you know, secretly still the president and the election results are go to be decertified and he`s going to be reinstated as president, the whole clown car of crazy characters advancing those claims in his name for whatever reason, they are right now all turning against each other, in pretty dramatic fashion.
And part of the way they`re turning on each other is they`re telling tales on each other in ways the public didn`t know. We had a first report last night concerning Mike Flynn, that was a doozy. Now tonight, this fracturing on the pro-Trump crazy right seems to have sort of split apart even further. It is really starting to seem like it`s not going to end well for any of these folks, particularly if they all start telling the public what they know about each other because everything we have learned from them about each other thus far is not good.
We`re going to have a live report coming up in just a moment again on how that part of the Republican Trump supporting world really does seem to be having a hard time with all of the pressure, that can be both sort of entertaining to watch if you`re rooting against those folks. It can also be a volatile and potentially dangerous time for people who have been sucked into those conspiracy theories, so it`s interesting, volatile, potentially entertaining while also dangerous. We`ll have more on that ahead.
But we`re also going to get some expert help here now. About the epic Supreme Court case that is going to be heard tomorrow. You`re going to be able to listen live to the Supreme Court arguments when they happen tomorrow morning. We`ll tell you how to do that. Also tell you what to listen for when the arguments happen. Again, some expert advice on that in a moment.
But this is the biggest Supreme Court case in years. I mean, depending on how it goes, it`s potentially the biggest Supreme Court case in decades. It is a case that Republicans and the conservative movement have been waiting for since 1973, when the Supreme Court first ruled that among the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution is the right of any woman in America to decide to get an abortion if that is what she wants.
For 48 years, the conservative movement has focused on almost nothing as intently as they have focused on trying to eliminate that right. I mean, just broad picture here for a second. And I`m going to say this and people will argue with me, I realize this is contested territory, but I`m telling you this is how I see it.
I was born the same year as Roe v. Wade. I was born in 1973. This has been the arc of American politics over the course of my natural life. And if for that time period you want to play my favorite game, which is watch what they do, not what they say, judge them on their behavior, not on their rhetoric -- well, what we have actually seen the political right work on in this country in the past 40, 50 years is a pretty narrow list, and a pretty consistent list.
There are some sort of what I call sort of special interest things they have been concertedly devoted to. There`s like, making sure there are as many guns as possible on American streets, with no restrictions if at all possible. I mean, when the Republicans got full control of the government in January 2017 when they got the house and Senate and Trump in the White House, one of the very first things they did, one of the very first acts of that Republican Congress in their first days in control was that they repealed restrictions on gun ownership specifically for people who had officially been adjudicated to be mentally ill.
I mean, that`s devotion to the cause. If the first thing you do with power is move to make more guns available to people who are formally certified to be crazy, you might have a gun problem. So yes, they have worked on their guns thing for sure.
They have also worked intently on removing as many protections as possible for the environment, in every way, shape, and form. They have worked as hard as they can on making sure there`s as much discrimination as possible against gay people, trans people, immigrants, Muslims, other minorities. They have worked very hard on that.
They have also had this sort of longtime ongoing side hustle in making sure the military is stuffed to the gills in terms of financial resources while simultaneously they have also aggressively resisted any accounting for where that money goes or indeed for how the military is used.
So, I will concede they have got some interesting sort of concerted projects on special issues like that, that you can see them work hard on over time. But if you asked me, and you had to pick the big three, if you had to pick the three reasons for the existence of the political right, the three things that work on when there`s nothing else to do, the three things they work on when they`re out of power, when they`re in power, when they`re in the majority in red states, when they`re in the minority in blue states, the three things they boil themselves down to are three projects.
Project number one is skew the economic system in this country as much as possible so that it provides as much as possible to the people at the top. You know, worsen economic inequality, feed the rich, feed business in a way that benefits the owners and not the employees. Make sure the people at the bottom get as little as possible and the people at the top get the most. That`s the insistent economic project of the right.
Project number two is what I think of as the get away with it part of their agenda. And it`s the part about democracy. Do everything you can, everywhere you can, to make sure that people of color, other minorities, poor people, immigrants, liberals, anybody who might oppose what you`re doing, do everything you can to make sure that those people cannot effectively use the democratic process to vote against you, and take -- get you out of power. That gives rise to a whole -- a whole list of action items. That`s voting restrictions, that`s gerrymandering, that`s packing the courts with right-wing judges, now recently that`s crusading against elections themselves and demanding if you`re truly a true patriot on the right, you will devote yourself to overturning election results that are not to the right of the -- not to the liking of the political right.
So project number one is the economic stuff, project two is getting away with it, skewing democracy stuff.
But if you really are looking at what they do and not what they say, I think it is unavoidable that the third project they have been most devoted to as a pillar of why they exist and what they do is getting rid of abortion rights. Even more so than their work on guns, even more so than their work to promote discrimination, even against their work against environmental regulations and you can see through lines for over the last 40 or 50 years.
Abortion has driven everything they have done when it comes to the whole third branch of government, the judicial branch. It`s driven everything that`s happened in terms of the political purge process they developed for themselves as a party starting in the 1970s most aggressively but accelerating through today. It`s all built on their crusade to get rid of abortion rights.
And I mean, there`s a lot to be said, a lot has been said about why that is, why that rises to that level of importance for the political right and for the Republican Party. And whatever else abortion means in the world, it`s key to the self-determination of women.
If, when, and with whom a woman has a child, her being the decision maker when it comes to what she`s going to do if she finds herself pregnant, there just is no more determinative thing in terms of a woman`s ability to write the story of her own life, to set her own course on this earth. And there has been nothing that the political right and the Republican Party has worked harder or more concertedly to take away. And that concerted effort by them over nearly 50 years now has brought us to now.
This case tomorrow, this is the case they have teed up. This is what they have been working on. This is the court they have teed up with Republican Supreme Court nominations. This is the thing they have wanted more than any other identifiable individual outcome in policy in nearly five decades.
Tomorrow is the day they think they`re finally going to ban abortion in the United States, and let the government decide whether or not women bring pregnancies to term, let the government decide when women have children, let the government decide what you can do even if your doctor tells you that baby won`t survive, even if your pregnancy was the result of a rape, even if your pregnancy was the result of incest, even if the pregnancy theoretically threatens your own health, the government will decide.
All this stuff about the right being about the limitations of the power of the U.S. government, why has one of the main things they have spent the last half century working on making the government deciding factor when you get pregnant, they want the government to decide what happens to that pregnancy. All this small government stuff is great rhetoric. It has nothing to do with what they have been working on.
This case tomorrow is about really big government. It`s about government making those decisions for you. And it is technically about Mississippi abortion ban. But it is about overturning Roe v. Wade and getting rid of this right in the American Constitution.
The lawyer tomorrow who will be arguing for abortion rights at the Supreme Court, the lawyer who will be arguing on behalf of that last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, will be the senior director of litigation at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Joining us now is Nancy Northup. She`s president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Ms. Northup, Nancy, it`s nice to see you. Thanks very much for being here tonight.
NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT & CEO, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Am I seeing this in overly stark terms? Is this case what I described? Is this what they have been aiming at in terms of trying to undermine this right once and for all?
NORTHUP: Oh, this case is exactly what you have been describing, Rachel. I mean, Mississippi passed this 15-week ban in open defiance of Supreme Court precedent. They passed this ban as a test case to overturn Roe versus Wade. It was easily struck down in the trial court and the court of appeals because they wanted to get to the Supreme Court to make the arguments that they`ll be making tomorrow.
But we are very pleased and excited to be in the court tomorrow to make the case that you have been talking about, that this is actually about individual liberty. It`s protected in the Constitution. In fact, the court itself has said that the right to make the decision about one`s body with respect to abortion is within the zone of liberty that the government can`t enter. That`s what we`re defending tomorrow, almost five decades of precedent on this issue.
MADDOW: What do you see realistically as the range of potential outcomes of the case? What are you preparing for? Obviously, there`s sort of infinite possibilities. The justice can write the ruling ultimately here however they want, and they can split however they want.
But in terms of what seems realistically possible, what`s the range of outcomes you and your colleagues are preparing for?
NORTHUP: Well, of course, we are preparing for all outcomes because we understand the court that we`re up in front, but really, we`re going to be making the case to every single justice that there is only one legitimate outcome here under the rule of law. The court operates by following stare decisis, meaning follow decisions that have been made, following their own precedent. As we have heard on the Supreme Court hearings again and again, Roe versus Wade is precedent on top of precedent.
And what that means is, it`s not just that they decided this case 49 years ago. But 30 years ago, in Planned Parenthood versus Casey, every argument that Mississippi will be making tomorrow was made before the court 30 years ago about overturning Roe. The court said then this fundamental liberty for women, that women have been able to participate in the full scope of American political, social, and economic life is because they have control of reproduction.
So gender equality is on the line. We`re going to be making that argument, and really, that is the only legitimate outcome here, is to follow what they have done for 49 years.
MADDOW: But I mean, from the other side`s perspective, if you take an argument to the court 30 years ago and it fails, the only reason you take that exact same argument back to the court 30 years later is because the court has changed. And you believe that whatever fell on deaf ears before will now fall in a way that will be more to your liking.
I mean, the confidence on the right here is because of Trump`s judicial nominees, because of the three justices who were added during the Trump years, thus leading to what is believed to be a strong anti-abortion rights majority.
Is there any mystery there? Have these justices left any suspense in terms of how they want to rule on this issue?
NORTHUP: Well, I think there is an opening here. I mean, you are certainly correct that the state of Mississippi, which filed for review of this case when Justice Ginsburg was still on the court, and in fact in their initial filing for asking review, they didn`t talk about overturning Roe versus Wade.
Then when Justice Amy Coney Barrett was put on the court, and they filed their first brief in this case, they came roaring through, asking full- throatedly for Roe to be overturned. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court justices know the importance of the institution and the integrity of the institution. And for them to overturn Roe, which is not only a 49-year standing but really well-embedded in the fabric of our constitution and the protections for decisions about family and life, they go back 50 years before Roe and 50 years after.
You can`t just pull out Roe and not do damage to decisions on marriage equality, LGBTQ equality, all of it is whole, all of it is on the line tomorrow.
So I think that`s something they`re going to be thinking hard about in terms of the legitimacy of the court when they decide this case.
MADDOW: Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, again, the litigation counsel for Center for Reproductive Rights will be arguing in court at the Supreme Court tomorrow on behalf of that last clinic left in Mississippi.
Nancy, thank you for being here tonight. I know you`re not going to sleep tonight or probably for the next few nights after this. Thank you for being here to help us understand.
NORTHUP: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. I`ll tell you one thing to watch for tomorrow, we`ll talk later on about how you can listen to the Supreme Court arguments when they`re happening live. This is something we haven`t been able to do forever but we will be able to do on this case tomorrow.
The other thing to watch for tomorrow is we`re expecting a ton of people to physically be there at the court. Marches, rallies, we`re actually expecting quite a lot of civil disobedience. There`s going to be a ton of people at the United States Supreme Court tomorrow marking what is, as I said, certainly the largest case before the court in years, and in terms of reproductive rights, maybe the most important day before the court ever.
Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So last night, we brought you the story of an apparent rift within the far recognize wing of Trump supporters who have champions not only his presidency, but also his claims that the election should be overturned, he should be restored in power even though he lost the election.
Specifically, that story was from inside the world of QAnon, the mass delusion among Trump supporters in which they say the world is run by a cabal of blood drinking satanic pedophiles who will all be massacred in the public execution by Donald Trump when he`s restored to power. I know, it sounds like the sort of insane fringe thing that couldn`t possibly play an actual role in our country`s politics but here we are.
And in fact, a number of high profile people in Trump`s orbit have embraced it, in particular, Mike Flynn, who among other things twice pled guilty to felonies before Trump pardoned him. But Flint has spent his time since basically becoming QAnon celebrity number one. He posted a video of himself and his family reciting that QAnon oath. He launched a merchandise site featuring QAnon products. He showed up at QAnon conferences and has like auctioned off QAnon items.
One of the things we covered last night was that now, another QAnon celebrity, a lawyer named Lin wood, who has made a name for himself by propagating theories like Donald Trump is still president and the military is secretly following Trump`s orders even today. Lin Wood, that guy, has released a recording of a phone call with Flynn where Flynn called QAnon, quote, total nonsense.
A QAnon celebrity secretly recording phone calls with another QAnon celebrity accusing him now of being a phony, I can sell tickets to this. This is -- this is very entertaining. And I recognize that this sort of in fighting on this part of the right is super appealing for people who are hoping for the demise and the discrediting of QAnon. It really is a damaging mass delusion among Trump supporters.
But I`m not covering it for its entertainment value, while I recognize that. I`m covering it because I think this kind of infighting and splintering can itself also be dangerous or at least be a volatile, unpredictable thing. There can be real-world consequences for good ill and it`s worth knowing it`s happening.
And to that one, one of the other people Lin Wood is publicly feuding with now is the Trump election lawyer Sidney Powell -- remember her? -- who filed all sorts of cockamamie lawsuits claiming the 2020 election was rigged.
Last week, in a little noticed Telegram post, I believe it was, Lin Wood said the organization Sidney Powell formed to raise funds for her election lawsuits, that organization Lin Wood said, was under federal criminal investigation. Lin Wood saying that about Sidney Powell`s organization.
And it seemed like a wild allegation at the time from yet another just one of these wild characters, but hey, look, here`s "The Washington Post" today, reporting on an actual federal subpoena they have seen from a federal criminal investigation into Sidney Powell`s fund-raising organization. I guess Lin Wood knew what he was talking about because Sidney Powell does appear to be under investigation for essentially fraud.
From what "The Washington Post" can divine from the subpoena, Sidney Powell appears to have created this nonprofit to solicit donations for legal efforts to file these lawsuits against the election results, but federal prosecutors are looking into whether she, in fact, used a lot of those donations for herself, which would be defrauding her donors and potentially defrauding the government if she misrepresented her organization as a particular kind of nonprofit organization when it wasn`t.
And, you know, things turning sour for these pro-Trump figures, these guys deciding to air each other`s dirty laundry and expose each other as frauds and grifters, it`s kind of a theme in today`s news.
I mean, we had that Mike Flynn secretly saying QAnon is nonsense. We got Lin Wood accurately, apparently, saying it would soon be revealed Sidney Powell is under federal investigation. Okay. Now, we got Wisconsin.
A taxpayer-funded review of the 2020 election results was ordered by Republicans in the state legislature there, it`s been getting lots of bad press lately because it`s turning out to be a cockamamie nonsense machine. The former judge they hired to run this election review who is himself a Stop the Steal proponent, who has said publicly he believes that Trump won the 2020 election, that`s who`s running the review, he has shelled out thousands of Wisconsin taxpayer dollars to a guy who pledged last year that there would be no peaceful transition of power in this country unless there was a forensic audit of the election results in every state. He said it was statistically impossible for Joe Biden to have won.
I`m sure that guy`s expertise is very welcome for this totally objective and above the board election review in Wisconsin. Aren`t you happy that`s who your money is going to? This crack election team has met with a guy traveling around the country meeting with local elections officials trying to get them on board with his conspiracy theories about how the election was hijacked.
That guy`s meetings have precipitated at least two FBI investigations thus far in two different states including one that resulted in the FBI raiding the home of right-wing Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert`s campaign manager.
And I should mention, Lauren Boebert and her ex-campaign manager appear to now be feuding themselves over whether the investigation that led to that FBI raid on her campaign manager`s house is a legitimate investigation. Like I said, couldn`t happen to a nicer bunch.
But anyway, now today, two more bad revelations for this election review that taxpayers are paying for in Wisconsin. One, this supposedly objective fair-minded review of the 2020 election results is apparently sharing an office with a law firm that has been at the forefront of trying to overturn the election results in Wisconsin and beyond.
But perhaps more importantly in terms of whether or not these efforts are sustainable, there`s new divisions cropping up within the ranks of Wisconsin Republicans who have been pushing this stuff and getting taxpayer money lined up to pay for it. Newly released reports from the Wisconsin audit team show that the audit billed Wisconsin taxpayers thousands of dollars, not just to talk to those crack pot guys I mentioned earlier, but also to pay for the costs of a trip to Arizona so the Wisconsin auditors could observe the crazy pants cyber ninjas Republican audit there, to learn how to import that cyber ninjas circus to Wisconsin too.
The problem is that Republicans in the state legislature had promised taxpayers they wouldn`t have to pay for any trips like that when they put taxpayers on the hook to pay for this audit. They said the if guy they hired to do this election review wanted to travel around the country, he would have to pay for it himself. Well, he didn`t pay for it himself. This records have come out showing that, in fact, the audit team billed taxpayers for the trip to go to the cyber ninjas thing in Arizona. And so, now, the Republicans in the state legislature are demanding the money back. Quote, we`re in the process of recovering those costs.
It`s not going well in Wisconsin. It`s leading to splits among those who have promoted and arranged for this stuff in Wisconsin. And now, next door in Michigan, there`s yet another one of these fights brewing between all of the various pro-Trump figures.
You might remember one of the characters who cropped up in the Arizona audit, cyber ninjas clown show thing, was a guy named Jovan Pulitzer. His history is -- he writes books about treasure hunting. He`s like a failed inventor. I shouldn`t say he writes books about treasure hunting. He writes sort of fantasy books about how to find treasure.
He also wrote a book about how to cut off your arm and eat your dog. I don`t know. These folks, they got to land somewhere, right? Jovan Pulitzer became a hero in the post election machinations of Trump world and in QAnon circles with his claims that he could prove the 2020 election was stolen by examining physical ballots with his special super secret technology that could detect fraud by looking at the ballot closely enough.
Mr. Pulitzer has since attached himself to efforts to launch an Arizona- style audit in the state of Michigan, but there`s now, this is a theme, very overt, very public new infighting among the pro-Trump activists there over who is to blame for the fact that a Michigan audit still hasn`t happened. Pulitzer has approved the super Trumpy co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party and her husband who is a Republican state rep.
He`s accused them of running a racket in which they`re taking money from local candidates in exchange for getting them endorsements from Donald Trump.
He says they`re running that grift paid for Donald Trump endorsements instead of getting the audit going. That Republican Party co-chair says she`s going to tell Donald Trump what Jovan Pulitzer is saying because Trump is going to be so mad, and Jovan Pulitzer will be sorry. It could not happen to a nicer bunch, a more deserving bunch.
But it does feel like the wheels are coming off a bit for these folks in multiple states. And we don`t know if this is the result of some grave external pressure being brought on that movement, right? If the pressure on the January 6th investigation, on Trump himself, none of this stuff panning out for these people, all the lawyers getting sanctioned and potentially losing their law licenses, we don`t know if that external pressure is what`s driving all this.
This could be driven by internal dynamics because they`re crazy people and crazy people are fighting with each other and this is how it works. But whatever the dynamics are that are driving this, they do seem to be falling apart a little, which can be a source of great entertainment and satisfaction to those rooting against them. But it can also be a dangerous moment. It can be an unpredictable, volatile, schismatic moment depending on what happens when these things continually keep fracturing. So we`ll keep covering it.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Representative Lauren Underwood decided to run for Congress in 2018. She had watched her congressman, her local Republican congressman, vote to repeal Obamacare, vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and she decided she was going to run. She was 32 years old. She was a registered nurse. She had never run for public office of any kind before.
But Lauren Underwood in 2018 ran an amazing campaign for Congress. We covered it extensively on the show at the time. She was a stand-out candidate, and she won.
She ousted that Republican incumbent Congressman. She became the youngest African-American woman ever elected to serve in Congress. And she has ever since been putting that seat to use.
A few years back, one of Lauren Underwood`s friends from grad school, a black woman named Shalon Irving, died very unexpectedly after she had given birth. "Chicago" magazine did a big profile on Lauren Underwood this summer in which she talked about it.
But the way Underwood saw it, her friend had done everything right. She was a highly educated woman with excellent insurance who had received prenatal care from quality provider in the richest country in the world. Her friend`s work in the violence prevention division of the CDC had given her intimate knowledge of the extra health risks borne by black women who according to that agency`s data are up to four times more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy in child birth than white women are.
Underwood described her friend`s funeral as, quote, unimaginable, saying, quote, her baby was there. Her mom was there, the director of the CDC was there. All these other uniform public health officials were there, everybody was stunned. She said, quote, just like how could this happen?
Instead of accepting this horrible ongoing mortality rate among mothers of color in this country, as a congresswoman, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood has set out to do what she could to change it. She put together a package of bills specifically designed to try to lower the mortality rate of mothers of color in this country and she called the package of bill the momnibus, like an omnibus but mom -- you get it.
Well, we have been covering this, as I said, for a few years now. Lauren Underwood`s rise to Congress, her priorities, her creation of Black Maternal Health Caucus, all the other things she`s worked on as an incredibly practical and accomplished young member of Congress.
You want to know what happened today? Today, President Joe Biden signed the first of the momnibus bills into law. It is called the Protecting Moms Who Served Act. It sets up a big new maternal care unit at the V.A., for our country`s veterans and others.
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood joins us here next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: It`s been sort of good news-bad news in Washington since Thanksgiving. The jobless numbers last week were the lowest they`ve been in more than 50 years, the lowest job numbers since the 1960s. The rumor mill on Capitol Hill also appears to be cautiously optimistic that we won`t have a government shutdown at the end of this week. We`ll see. That`s good.
That said, there is still no clear path forward thanks to Senator Joe Manchin on whether President Biden is going to get his build back better passed, his main economic agenda.
But President Biden did sign something into law today that is important and interesting. If you look behind him today at the bill signing, the person in the bright white mask here over President Biden`s left shoulder, that is Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, who you have seen on this show several times. This is the first time she has ever attended a bill signing. It`s only her second term in Congress, which is why it`s so impressive that the bill President Biden is signing into law right there is her bill.
Joining us now, Illinois Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, who has introduced what she calls the momnibus package on maternal health. The first of those bills became law today.
Congresswoman Underwood, congratulations. It`s great to see you.
REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D-IL): Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: Second term members of Congress never get a bill passed. You got this bill passed. It`s part of this momnibus package you`ve pursued from the beginning.
What`s the secret to your success here?
UNDERWOOD; Well, we`re really focused on solving problems and making sure that in my time in Congress, I can use this to save lives in the country. You know, Black birthing people are three to four more times to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts. And we have an opportunity to take action, to stop this maternal mortality crisis we face today in this country.
MADDOW: Now, this bill specifically focuses on moms who served, as the bill puts it. It`s specifically going to help moms who are getting maternal care through the V.A., is that right?
UNDERWOOD: That`s right. So women are the fastest growing veteran population we have in our country. Right now, we have about half a million women veterans under 40, meaning that their reproductive age, could be having babies. We know because of their service, many of them are at increased risk for maternal -- maternal death or severe mortality, really severe complications because of a result of their pregnancy.
We want to make sure as part of the world class care they receive at the V.A., they have excellent maternal care coordination as well. So, that`s what this legislation does is it helps improve the maternal health care that our veteran moms receive.
MADDOW: Now, a lot of the rest of your momnibus agenda, as I understand it, is included in the Build Back Better package, which has been struggling -- it`s passed the House. It`s been struggling its way through the Senate.
Am I right in remembering that your original Senate partner on the whole momnibus package was then Senator Kamala Harris? Has that -- am I remembering what correctly?
MADDOW: Has that been helpful in terms of getting this stuff into the legislation?
UNDERWOOD: Then Senator Harris, now Vice President Harris has been a long- time champion for maternal health and equity issues, and she has been just a wonderful partner for us in the black maternal health caucus.
So we teamed up to introduce the momnibus, a comprehensive package of 12 bills to end our nation`s maternal mortality crisis. Now, our partner in the Senate is Senator Cory Booker. But we have been so fortunate to work with President Biden and Vice President Harris to get every eligible provision of the momnibus included in the Build Back Better Act, meaning a billion dollars to help moms and babies and families all across this country.
And what`s so incredible is it`s paid for, Rachel, by making sure that the wealthiest Americans and corporate tax evaders pay their fair share. So we have an opportunity to save lives and pay for it in the process.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Democratic of Illinois, I love -- every time we check -- every time we check in with you, you have something else practical and sensical to talk about that you are through all the odds actually getting done. I really enjoyed every time you`ve been here on the show. I can`t wait to have you back to talk about how this progresses as Build Back Better passes and the rest of it comes to fruition.
Thank you so much for helping us understand.
UNDERWOOD: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One reminder before we go. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear the case that Republicans have designed to overturn Roe versus Wade and make abortion criminal. The case starts at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. You can listen to it live on the Supreme Court`s website, SupremeCourt.gov. You just click on the button there labeled "live audio."
Again, this is a monumentally important case, 10:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow. We can all listen live as it happens.
All right. I`ll see you again here tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence. Welcome back.