Former colleagues of Florida`s surgeon general dispute his claims that he treated COVID patients at UCLA. According to "The New York Times", Atlanta`s district attorney investigating Trump might convene a special grand jury.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" on this Monday evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris.
I got your text, I cannot have dinner with you tomorrow, but I would like to have a rain check very soon. Is that possible?
HAYES: That`s great. And anytime you want to discuss our texts on national television, also great. Yes, a rain check, I`m holding the rain check and I will send follow-up puppy pics.
MADDOW: I was going to say, we will please explain puppy pics, thank you very much. We`ll never talk about this in public. Don`t worry. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Big show tonight, lots of news to get to.
Late this afternoon six new subpoenas, very high profile subpoenas, issued by the January 6th investigation in congress. They have subpoenaed the Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien, Trump campaign communications chief, Jason Miller, the disgraced former New York City police commissioner, ex-convict Bernie Kerik.
John Eastman, who`s the lawyer who devised the strategy that was the reason Trump summoned his supporters to Washington on January 6th, as best as we can tell. He`s the one who basically wrote the strategy that said Vice President Mike Pence magically had the power to overturn the election on January 6th.
Also, a Trump campaign staffer named Angela McCallum, she was according to the committee subpoenaed because she apparently called state lawmakers in at least one state and told them on behalf of the Trump campaign that they should appoint Trump electors, even though Trump had lost in that state, lost in Michigan.
All six of these Trump world officials have been subpoenaed today, and along with the subpoenas, they got letters providing supporting documentation about what their alleged roles were laying the groundwork for the January 6th attack. These six people are being asked to hand over documents and records within the next couple of weeks. They`ve all been subpoenaed to give testimony early next month.
So that`s a big high profile move by the January 6th investigation. We`ve got much more on that ahead tonight including some provocative new information we`ve never had before the subpoenas went out today about how the Trump campaign apparently deliberately and explicitly made the decision to turn full tilt to the stop the steal messaging and stop the steal fund- raising, even though their own internal communications showed they knew the claims they were making were not true.
So, like I said, very provocative information from the January 6th committee tonight supporting these six very high profile subpoenas. We`ll get to that later on in the show tonight.
But there`s a lot else going on. Today was the day that the United States opened our borders to international travelers for the first time in 20 months. It was more than a year and a half ago that we closed our doors to non-Americans traveling from 33 different countries including almost all of Europe, and you know, huge countries like China and India. We also restricted the ability of our neighbors in Canada and Mexico to cross over the land borders North and South.
Today, those border restrictions finally came down. You do have to show proof of being fully vaccinated to come visit the United States now, but you can come visit again. Today was the day, so we saw really big lines at border crossings.
We also saw emotional scenes in airports today as families that have been - - families that are spread across two different countries country s, families that have been divided because of these restrictions for 22 month, they`re finally able to see each other today for the first day.
The Biden administration is fanning out top officials to promote the trillion dollars infrastructure bill that finally passed late on Friday night. In the news business, we talk about Friday night news dumps. After close of business on a Friday is a great time to bury news that you don`t want anybody to notice too much.
The Biden administration absolutely positively wants everyone to notice this trillion dollar infrastructure bill they just got passed. It did not help them in that measure whatsoever that the final vote on passing it was literally just before midnight on Friday night. That is a tough time in terms of press coverage and attention, but they`ll get out there to promote it all this week, cabinet officials will be promoting it all week long. The president himself will be doing events promoting it.
Next week, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress will do their best to pass the other part of the Biden agenda, the Build Back Better bill, which is a huge chunk of his economic and climate agenda. Progressives were promised that these two things, the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better bill would pass together or not at all.
On Friday night, the progressives were promised that it was basically safe for them to vote on the infrastructure bill because the Build Back Better bill will pass next week for sure.
We will see. That promise is looming very large given how much they needed progressive votes in order to get this infrastructure thing done.
This weekend the very, very conservative Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which sits in Louisiana, a panel of three judges from the Fifth Circuit blocked the implementation of the new OSHA standard which says if a company has more than 100 employees anybody who isn`t vaccinated at that company needs to be regularly tested for COVID, and they need to wear a mask. That OSHA rule is being put into effect "Biden administration with plenty of warning.
This Fifth Circuit case block the implementation is the first, but it`s one of a gazillion challenges brought by Republican states and Republican governors. The White House for its part say they anticipated these legal challenges and despite the Fifth Circuit blocking implementation of the rule, the White House says they know they are on solid legal ground with this new OSHA rule. They are confident it will go into effect.
Regardless of how this plays out in the courts and for how long it plays out in the courts, the performative politics of Republicans fighting an anti-COVID rule like that, those politics, of course, are irresistible for many Republican elected officials, and you know, you see that literally every day in the news.
This weekend, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas declared war on Big Bird because just as "Sesame Street" characters have done literally since the 1970s, the character Big Bird this weekend said he got his COVID vaccine, so now Ted Cruz is like war on Big Bird, okay.
One Republican state senator in North Dakota announced this weekend that he had to cancel his planned attendance at an anti-vaccine rally he was going to lead today in North Dakota. He had to cancel that because he`s quite sick with COVID. Anti-vaccine rally. Can`t go, sorry, I`m sick with COVID.
His colleagues in the North Dakota legislature responded to his plight today by immediately passing a ban on vaccine requirements in North Dakota.
At a Republican cattle call for presidential hopefuls this weekend, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis gave what by all accounts was a fire breathing speech in which he denounced what he called a Faucian dystopia, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a dystopia where there`s scientifically informed public health guidance to end a pandemic that already killed so many people in this country. A Faucian dystopia.
If Florida Governor Ron DeSantis does stay on the top of the heap of Republican presidential hopefuls, it will likely be on the basis of the fact he`s perceived to be this uncompromising voice in the Republican Party against doing things to slow the spread of COVID, against all the public health measures we have to try to mitigate the epidemic.
But here is a new thing. Here is a thing to know -- you might remember this from last summer, you`ll probably remember it. It will jog your memory when you see the footage. It was striking footage. This was last summer, July 27th, 2020. You remember these folks?
Doctors in white coats standing out in front of the Supreme Court, what looked like a fairly official press conference. It was held by a group that called themselves America`s Frontline Doctors. They had that logo embroidered on all of their coats.
And you know, at face value, this is very well choreographed. It very much looked like it was on the up and up. It quickly became clear this was not a really normal doctor`s press conference.
The group basically gathered there at the Supreme Court for some reason to assure Americans, to tell Americans that everything they`d heard about COVID was wrong. That COVID is actually no big deal, that you definitely don`t need to stay socially distanced from anybody else. You certainly don`t need to wear a mask because none of those things actually prevent you from getting COVID. And besides, if you get COVID, it is no big deal in part because there`s already a cure for COVID.
That`s what they assembled themselves at the Supreme Court last summer, last July to tell America. There is an anti-malaria drug that cures it. Take it with zinc, take it with vitamins. That`s all you need.
The man doesn`t want you to know there`s a cure for COVID for some reason. You can just use it, it`s a cure. There`s nothing else you need to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. IMMANUEL: I put them on hydroxychloroquine, I put them on zinc, I put them on Zithromax, and they`re all well. I put myself and my staff and many doctors that I know on hydroxychloroquine for prevention because by the very mechanism of action, it works early as a prophylaxis.
This virus has a cure. It is called hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax. I know you people want to talk about masks, hello, you don`t need masks.
There is a cure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There is a cure. There`s not a cure.
This again was last summer. COVID`s no big deal. Don`t wear a mask. All you need to do is take hydroxychloroquine, sure it`s a malaria drug, but just trust us, that and zinc, that`s the cure you need.
That group that convened that press conference called itself America`s Frontline Doctors. Among the other claims associated with one speaker at that event, if you have ovarian cysts, that`s because you`ve been having session with demons in your sleep, very bad, you should stop doing that, and then your ovarian cysts will go away.
Also, the U.S. government is run by reptiles or to be more specific, it`s run by reptilian people. The people in charge of America are secretly lizards, which we need to take into account, whenever they give us public health advice. You shouldn`t trust Western medicine at all because it`s made with alien DNA.
How else could they make those pills for stuff except by extracting DNA for aliens and cramming it into the people and trick you into taking it. That`s how the lizard people stay in charge.
Now, because the America`s Frontline Doctors thing happened during the Trump years, it didn`t end up just being like a weird piece of margin on the edge of the news. That group ended up -- I kid you not -- getting praised by the president of the United States from the White House. The group got White House briefings. The group ended up becoming a celebrated cause in the conservative media.
Even as their bizarre claims about fake cures for COVID were being taken down by Facebook and other social media companies, Fox News and the Trump White House was promoting them like they were actually experts.
The group`s founder, a doctor named Gold, someone Gold, she took part in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. She was arrested and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct. She was pled not guilty to those charges.
NBC News, "Time Magazine", several other outlets later published reporting about how the America`s Frontline Doctors fiasco morphed from that initial sort of launch into what appears to have been a very lucrative telemedicine scam in which they marketed and prescribed another fake COVID cure, the anti-parasite drug ivermectin, which is a drug that has real uses in livestock and in humans. It treats your scabies, you guys. But it`s an anti-parasitic drug. It doesn`t treat COVID, not even a little bit.
The public reporting where the ivermectin craze on the right came included people taking animal formulations of the drug and putting themselves in doing so. The public reporting on the ivermectin craze shows this America`s Frontline Doctors group appearing to take a hefty financial cut out of bogus telemedicine appointments that were used to prescribe people that bogus treatment. So much so that the House Coronavirus Task Force is now investigating their role in the whole ivermectin craze.
We`ve reached out to America`s Frontline Doctors today for comment on this. We haven`t heard back from them, but in the face of all this controversy, in the face of all this bad press, it`s not like they`ve gone away. It`s not like they`ve, you know, shrunk from the spotlight. They`re still out there, still promoting all the same stuff.
I mean, here`s one of the America`s Frontline Doctors spokespeople speaking just a couple of weekends ago at a QAnon conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. IMMANUEL: You heard about Moderna vaccine having Luciferase, right? Does that sound like the name of the beast? You hear about Bill Gates putting together a tracking system with a cryptocurrency, going to be zero- two, zero-six zero-six zero-six. Does that sound like the number of beast?
Do you understand what I`m saying? You hear about the Congress about to pass HR 06, 06. The whole vaccine issue has a lot of 666 in it. That`s the number of the beast.
So, those who have been vaccinated have been given the number of the beast. If they have vaccinated, they are downloaded you and connect you to the Internet of things. Right now they can program a cell and put in your body that will go there and pope. And that cell can receive transmission that will tell you what to do and you will do it. So that is why those who have been vaccinated are very dangerous because they can be programmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Behold, America`s Frontline Doctors making sense giving great advice, very credible.
So these folks have been around for more than a year now and there`s -- you know, they`re not exactly hiding their light under a bushel in terms of what they`re all about. But let`s say you`re the governor of an American state. Let`s say you`re the leader of one of the states with the highest body count already from COVID, and you`ve decided you need a new top health official for your state in the midst of the epidemic.
As governor, you might choose any number of experts from any number of institutions for that crucial public health role at this crucial public health time.
Hard to imagine, though, why you`d go to someone from that group. Why you`d go to someone from America`s Frontline Doctors. That group, really?
But that is what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis absolutely did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JOSEPH LADAPO, AMERICA`S FRONTLINE DOCTORS: I`m Dr. Joe Ladapo, I`m a physician at UCLA, and I`m a clinical researcher also, and I`m speaking for myself and not on behalf of UCLA. So I want to say that -- so I`m thinking of the people who are behind the screens that are watching what you guys are broadcasting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s a doctor named Joseph Ladapo, as he said, speaking at the America`s Frontline Doctors event last summer. Don`t wear a mask. There`s already a cure, zinc, take zinc, there`s no COVID.
That`s the event we got that great advice about there`s no cure for COVID, don`t wear a mask. And if you got intrigued by those doctors, if you want to avoid ovarian cysts, you should really consider your session with demons plans.
But that`s the group from where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis plucked this doctor from obscurity and appointed him to be the new surgeon general of the great state of Florida. It`s not like that press conference he attended in July of 2020, it`s not like that was just a one-off for him.
In addition to that, to the extent that he rose to prominence, Dr. Ladapo rose to prominence with lots of appearances in conservative media, lots of op-eds he published on conservative op-ed pages, including ones where he argued that COVID really isn`t so bad. You shouldn`t, for example, wear a mask to try to avoid getting it. Quote, wearing a mask has little or no effect on respiratory virus transmission, he says.
Now that he`s surgeon general of the state of Florida, he does press conferences with Governor DeSantis where he warns ominously about how unsafe the vaccine are because stranger around the country have told him so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LADAPO: The reality of what -- how safe these vaccines are is absolutely not public. It`s not public because when people -- and I know this for a fact because patients of mine, colleagues of mine, strangers around the country who have contacted me about their experiences and just, you know, healthy people who have had adverse reactions after the vaccines, there has been a concerted effort to prevent these types of stories, these experiences from receiving the attention that they obviously should receive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yeah, we definitely haven`t had any attention in this country to anybody having an adverse event from a vaccine. Definitely that hasn`t been covered. Strangers around the country have told him that`s the truth.
So he`s speaking as surgeon general of the state of Florida. In that role he has repeatedly said that not only are the vaccines not effective, they`re unsafe. They don`t really work. They could hurt you. Again, the surgeon general of the state of Florida hand picked for the job by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Just within the past couple of weeks, the surgeon general received a great deal of press conference for his refusal to wear a mask while meeting with a Florida state senator, one who had just been diagnosed with cancer. He would not wear a mask in her office, even when she asked him to and told him she had serious medical issues. He later said that he doesn`t find wearing a mask to be productive when talking to people, so there. That`s enough for him. Whatever you and your cancer.
One of the things that is most interesting about all of this is that Dr. Ladapo rose to this level of prominence in part not only because he`s, you know, well spoken and he`s willing to put himself out there in conservative op-ed pages and stuff, but he did take that sort of America`s Frontline Doctor thing and put that right at the forefront in terms of his credibility. He has staked had his credibility specifically on COVID on his assertions that he is, in fact, a frontline doctor who has spent all of this time treating COVID patients as a physician.
We have new reporting tonight that calls that into question. Dr. Ladapo, the surgeon general of Florida, appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, he has made numerous assertions that he has personally treated COVID patients. In March 2020, he wrote an op-ed in "USA Today" n which he said he had quote, spent the past week taking care of COVID-19 patients at UCLA`s flagship hospital.
For weeks now, we`ve been trying to contact UCLA to ask them about his assertions that he treated COVID patients there. UCLA declined to answer our questions, not just once, not twice but many times.
They really shut us down and limited themselves to only saying that Dr. Ladapo worked for them during the pandemic.
When we realized that talking to UCLA was going to be a dead end, we decided that we would try a different approach and we would instead approach some employees at UCLA and after weeks of calls and emails, we were able to talk to multiple people who worked at UCLA`s hospital at the same time as Dr. Ladapo. We`re not naming them because they are not authorized to speak on the record. We did, however, confirm their credentials independently.
And four of these sources tell us that before that press conference he took part in on the steps of the Supreme Court in July of 2020, in which he billed himself as one of America`s Frontline Doctors, four sources who alongside him at UCLA tell us they do not believe Dr. Ladapo had actually treated COVID patients at all at UCLA when he stood up there and called himself a frontline doctor. They also say his numerous op-eds greatly mischaracterized the type of work he was doing during the pandemic.
For example, in March 2020 he wrote an op-ed piece for USA today where he said he had spent the past week taking care of COVID patients at UCLA`s flagship hospital. The following month, April 2020, he wrote an almost identical piece for "The Wall Street Journal" where he talked about his experience caring for patients with suspected or diagnosed COVID cases at UCLA.
Although Dr. Ladapo says that he spent time caring for COVID patients, one of our sources who was part of the UCLA COVID-19 task force tells us this. Quote, I was part of the team that was taking care of COVID-19 patients in the beginning of the pandemic, and Dr. Ladapo was not part of that team. There were two separate groups, general medicine and ICU, plus a volunteer program to take care of COVID-19 patients. Dr. Ladapo was not part of either. It was a small group of people, a task force. Everyone knew everyone. Quote, he wasn`t there.
In addition to that statement, we have obtained scheduling documents from the time that Dr. Ladapo was working at UCLA. They show the schedules for dozens of doctors who are also working in the internal medicine unit alongside Dr. Ladapo. These documents span a period from June 2019 to September 2021, and we have reviewed these documents in detail. While these documents show that numerous doctors at that hospital were assigned to work in the COVID unit, worked specifically with COVID patients, at no point was Dr. Ladapo scheduled to treat COVID patients during that time period that we were able to review.
We should note specifically that he was not listed as working in a COVID unit in March 2020 when he wrote in "USA Today" that he had, quote, spent the past week taking care of patients with COVID at UCLA`s flagship hospital.
In addition to the scheduling documents, our sources say the press conference Dr. Ladapo too part in in July of 2020 ignited conversations inside UCLA of his work and how his actions were affecting the reputation of the university and its hospital, one source at UCLA calling Dr. Ladapo`s opinion pieces a, quote, source of embarrassment.
One of the sources told us, quote, in academic medicine we`re tasked with putting opinions out there that are fully sustained. His opinion was not. Another source added, quote, a lot of people here at UCLA are glad he is gone because we were embarrassed by his opinions and behavior. At the same time, we don`t wish this on the people of Florida. They don`t deserve to have something like him making their health decisions.
Despite what they describe as the shock and the feeling of embarrassment, what bothered these hospital employees the most, what they told us bothered them the most is how the people who hired Dr. Ladapo in Florida have cited Dr. Ladapo`s work at UCLA as a source of pride and as a source of bragging rights. I mean, you hear the name, the reference UCLA referred to -- related to Dr. Ladapo everywhere, at press conferences, in newspaper articles. You see it at the top of his resume -- UCLA, UCLA, UCLA.
But the sources from UCLA that spoke to us say it is unacceptable given that Dr. Ladapo clearly does not agree with UCLA`s standards of care for treating COVID-19 patients, and for handling COVID-19 generally.
He has refused to wear masks indoors. He has cast doubts on vaccines. He even participated in that crazy July 2020 event promoting hydroxychloroquine as a fake cure and calling himself a frontline doctor.
One source telling us, quote, what hurts me the most is that those in Florida that hired him cite his work at UCLA as a point of admiration, but he is everything this hospital and institution is not.
Another source saying, quote, he has become a right wing media darling. He might like the attention.
We contacted the Florida department of health seeking comment from Dr. Ladapo in response to this reporting. We contacted them multiple times. So far we`ve heard nothing back.
We live in hope, though.
Joining us now is Dr. Bernard Ashby. He is a cardiologist and the Florida state lead for the committee to protect health care, which is a national advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and expanding health care for all Americans.
In October of this year, Dr. Ashby was one of more than 350 doctors in Florida who sent a letter to the state Senate asking for more scrutiny into Dr. Ladapo`s record including his ties to America`s Frontline Doctors.
Dr. Ashby, it`s a real pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thanks for making the time to be here.
I cannot hear Dr. Ashby, can you guys hear him? Is it just me?
DR. BERNARD ASHBY, CARDIOLOGIST: Thanks for having me, Rachel. Pleasure to be here.
MADDOW: Oh, I`ve got you now. That was a mean gremlin getting in the way for a second there. Very good.
Dr. Ashby, let me just ask you, I`ve laid out what we`ve been able to learn in terms of -- or piece together and not piece together in terms of our reporting. It does seem to track with some of the concerns you and your colleagues raised earlier about your surgeon in Florida, about Dr. Ladapo. Let me ask you if anything I`ve reported strikes you as wrong or if I`m explaining it in the wrong way?
ASHBY: Well, in order to become a physician, you have to take the Hippocratic Oath, and one of the promises that we make is a Latin term called primum non nocere, which is first do no harm, and when Dr. Ladapo actually met with Senator Polsky who was a breast cancer patient decided he would go against her wishes and decide not to wear a mask, that said everything that you needed to know about Dr. Ladapo.
In a clinical setting, we are obligated, actually mandated to wear masks currently in a hospital, because we do realize that the coronavirus is an airborne virus that is, you know, caught through the airway, and she being -- Senator Polsky being a cancer patient is in an immunocompromised state, and wearing a mask is one of the best ways to protect her.
He said the reason he didn`t want to wear a mask is because he wanted to see her talking, he wanted her to see him talking, which is absolutely ridiculous. You mentioned earlier that there`s no background of him actually carrying for clinical patients with COVID-19 and if you think about it, it makes sense. Anybody that cares for COVID-19 patients or any patients with an airborne illness in general, we wear a mask and gown. Why? Because we want to prevent the transmission of disease, and that is a minimal effort from the treatment standpoint if you`re a provider to protect that patient.
And so, if you don`t even believe that, the fact that he would be opposed to wearing a mask says that everything that you need to know because simply put he`s being unethical, and that in and of itself should disqualify him.
MADDOW: When you and these 300 plus other Florida doctors in October asked the Florida Senate to more closely scrutinize his nomination to be attorney general in the state, what was it that you were most worried about? What was the main concern? Because that`s a pretty extraordinary thing for so many doctors to get together to do. What was motivating that effort?
ASHBY: Well, I don`t know if you`ve been paying attention, but Florida`s been doing pretty poorly when it comes to controlling this pandemic, and it`s directly -- Governor DeSantis is directly responsible for the enormous deaths that we had. We recently passed 60,000 deaths.
And the concern with Dr. Ladapo is that he has poor judgment. So let me just run down the list. One -- and you mentioned this is his affiliation with the doctors -- the frontline physicians.
As you can see, they don`t care about patients. They`re a political organization that`s actually dedicated towards, one, making money as you can see. Two, really putting out a lot of misinformation for the public to consume.
Two, he has yet to disclose his vaccine status. I mean, he is the surgeon general of Florida during the worst public health crisis of our lifetime. Yet he won`t disclose his vaccine status.
Three, and -- you know, we`ve talked about this, but he has not -- well, let me be clear. He is opposed to wearing masks and the fact that he goes into a senator`s office who is immunocompromised who is a breast cancer patient and decides not to wear a mask is ridiculous. That`s poor judgment three.
And four is really tied to Governor DeSantis. The fact that he is being used as a prop for Governor DeSantis shows that he`s consistently making poor judgment.
He is not even from Florida. He`s from California. He has no ties to Florida whatsoever, and governor DeSantis brought him in to be a prop.
The previous surgeon general actually came out and said that we would probably have to wear masks until the vaccines come out. Well, after he did that, he was unheard of. We didn`t hear a word from him.
And so, now, we have Dr. Ladapo who`s now available and, you know, this misinformation is being used basically as a prop by Governor DeSantis to validate, you know, his reckless policies which have actually increased the death and infection rate in Florida.
MADDOW: Dr. Bernard Ashby, cardiologist, the Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, one of 350 Florida doctors who is demanding more scrutiny for Dr. Ladapo, the nominee for surgeon general in the state. Our reporting tonight seems to indicate the scrutiny has not happened, at least as far as him claiming to be a front line physician treating COVID patients at UCLA.
Dr. Ashby, I appreciate you being here tonight. We`re going to stay on this story and hope to get a response from Dr. Ladapo when we can.
ASHBY: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Like I said at the very top of the show, it has been a big news day today. Lots going on.
As the January 6th Committee in the House issues the six new subpoenas today demanding answers from Trump allies and campaign officials about their alleged involvement in the attempts to overturn the 2020 election, as those big subpoenas go out, we`ll have more on that still to come.
Also, don`t sleep on the criminal investigation into election interference by former President Trump and his allies. This is the criminal investigation in the state of Georgia. It`s an investigation being led by the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney. It`s looking at attempts by then president Trump and his allies to pressure state elections officials in Georgia that they needed to overturn Biden`s win in that state.
This Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis launched the investigation in February. We haven`t heard a lot publicly about its progress since.
But now, there`s new reporting first from the "New York Times" that that investigation is about to take a big leap forward. "The New York Times" now reporting that Fani Willis`s office is looking toward convening a special grand jury in that case. For that reporting, they cited a person with knowledge of the deliberations in the D.A.`s office.
I can tell you today that we confirmed it. We also spoke with a person with direct knowledge of those deliberations who tells us that a special grand jury in the Trump case is highly likely. A special grand jury would focus solely on the potential Trump election interference charges, including subpoenas and gathering evidence.
Now, you`ll recall that this investigation was sparked by Trump`s call to Georgia`s secretary of state just a few days before the attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6th. A recording of the call was published by "The Washington Post," and in that recording, Trump can be heard threatening and cajoling the secretary of state for a solid hour, demanding that he find enough votes to reverse Biden`s win in Georgia.
Secretary of State Raffensperger says in his new book that he absolutely understood president Trump to be threatening him on that call. But Trump also, he didn`t just call Raffensperger, he called Raffensperger`s chief elections investigator. He called Georgia`s attorney general. He forced the U.S. attorney in Georgia to resign.
Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, he`s not even from Georgia, he called Raffensperger, the secretary of state too. Trump`s chief of staff personally showed up to view a Georgia election audit. Rudy Giuliani told the Georgia legislature that they needed to overturn the election results. It was all part of the same project.
A recent report from the Brookings Institution by several high profile legal experts concludes that Trump`s post-election conduct in Georgia leaves him at substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes. These charges potentially include criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with election duties, conspiracy to commit election fraud, criminal solicitation, and state RICO violations as in racketeering charges, something that Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis has previously suggested she is looking into.
But again, there`s a lot going on right now both in Washington and in terms of policy and in terms of politics and in terms of COVID, but do not sleep on what is going on with this criminal investigation.
We`re going to have more on this ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: New reporting from the "New York Times," which we have now confirmed that the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is moving towards convening a special grand jury in the criminal election interference investigation into former president Donald Trump. If this sounds familiar, it may be because you remember that it was the convening of a special grand jury in New York`s criminal investigation into Trump`s business that led to multiple felony charges, in fact, being filed against that business and against Trump`s chief financial officer.
Now, a special grand jury is reportedly being convened in the criminal investigation into Trump personally in Georgia. We don`t know if Trump ultimately will be charged in that regard, but if you were the target of that reported investigation and you found that a special grand jury was being convened specifically to look at the evidence in your case, that would probably be a bad day, not a good day.
This news comes as a recent report from several legal experts laid out in stark detail a number of serious crimes Trump could potentially face in Georgia if his alleged behavior is borne out by the evidence that`s brought before the grand jury.
Joining us now is one of those experts who wrote that report, her name is Gwen Keyes Fleming. She`s the former district court of DeKalb County, which is right next to Fulton County, Georgia.
Ms. Fleming, thank you so much for being here tonight. It`s a real pleasure to have this time with you.
GWEN KEYES FLEMING, FORMER DEKALB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thank you, it`s my honor!
MADDOW: You know Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County who is handling this case. You also know what it means to convene a special grand jury for what appears to be a somewhat complex case like this.
What do you think the American people should understand about this reporting and its significance?
FLEMING: So, first of all, I want people know that Fani is a topnotch prosecutor. She has been called for a time such as this. She has the experience handling high profile complex cases. She`s handled RICO cases before, and she`s assembled a topnotch staff to assist her with the investigation in this matter.
That investigation, as it`s been reported, includes getting a special grand jury here that she may seek a special grand jury, we`re waiting for confirmation of that.
One of the important things to realize is that special grand jury will help her investigate the case, but a separate criminal grand jury would be the one that if there is enough evidence to actually issue indictments.
MADDOW: And what kind of a case do you bring a special grand jury? Obviously you don`t do that for every crime that the prosecutor is investigating. What would -- what about a specific case would lead you to use that kind of a tool?
FLEMING: Well, usually it`s a case where you have a lot of witnesses, a lot of documents to be able to go through. Where you want to be able to have the tools to be able to subpoena those witnesses to come in and talk to the grand jurors about what they know, what they saw, how they felt in some in instances depending on the type of crime that is being investigated and then obviously have those grand jurors review all of the documentation, whether it`s written documents, whether it`s audio tapes, whether it`s any tape of other evidence that could bring to bear on the facts that you`re investigating.
MADDOW: This report from Brookings, which you co-authored concluded that former President Trump is at substantial risk of facing a whole array of charges that range from conspiracy to commit election fraud up to racketeering charges, which of course is a very provocative concept, the idea that he might face RICO charges.
When you and your co-authors looked at what is known about this case and tried to lay out that array of potential charges, were you looking specifically at just that infamous call to the secretary of state that we`ve all heard the tape of? Or do all the other elements of pressure from Trump and all of the other people who were sort of pulling in the same direction as him, pressuring all those other election officials at the same time, does the behavior of all of those -- does the behavior of all of those other people and all of those other types of pressure factor into that array of potential charges as well?
FLEMING: Certainly, as we were co-authoring the Brookings report, we did look at all of the available evidence. So you mentioned earlier some of the calls that were made to the governor in addition to the secretary of state, calls that were made to the attorney general, visits by Mark Meadows and others to Cobb County. We looked at all of the publicly available information.
And again, what we -- the conclusion we came to is that there may be a substantial risk of prosecution, but that decision is up to the district attorney as we just noted, she has the ability to dig deeper than what is publicly available, and we defer to her in terms of making the ultimate decision as to what charges, if any, should be brought. But our scope was to look at all of the information, not just the January 2nd phone call.
MADDOW: Gwen Keyes Fleming, former DeKalb County District attorney, thank you so much for your time tonight. I think we`re going to need expert advice. I`m going to give you fair warning that we`re going to be calling you back as the case moves forward.
FLEMING: I look forward to it. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right, thank you so much.
All right, we`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Listen to this. This was December 2020. It was not long after Joe Biden had decisively won the state of Michigan in the election. A Michigan state rep got this phone call from the Trump reelection campaign. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANGELA MCCALLUM, TRUMP CAMPAIGN NATIONAL EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: My name is Angela McCallum. I`m calling from Trump campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C. I know you`re very busy, but I did want to personally reach out to you on behalf of the president as you`ve got an opportunity to be a crucial part of his reelection. The United States Constitution provides that the state legislators retain sole authority to designate the presidential electors.
Tomorrow, as you might be aware, Mayor Giuliani will be presenting experts and witnesses from Michigan who will be able to show that the vote totals are fatally flawed and do not accurately represent the will of the voters as well as your constituents. You do have the power to reclaim your authority and send a slate of electors that will support President Trump and Vice President Pence.
There are state legislators across the country who are standing with the president to stop this voter fraud from happening under their watch. We want to know when there`s a resolution in the House to appoint electors for Trump if the president can count on you to join in support.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So she`s working on Trump`s reelection campaign. Her name is Angela McCallum. Less than two weeks before the Michigan electors were set to vote to certify the election results for Biden, she picks up the phone to call this state lawmaker on behalf of the president to tell that lawmaker that they have the power to replace the electors about to certify the election for Joe Biden and appoint new electors instead that will vote for Trump.
Can President Trump count on you to do that?
That voice mail reminder from the Trump campaign to that Michigan state rep, it did not work. Michigan`s electors were not replaced. The election results were certified for Joe Biden.
But now today, Angela McCallum from the Trump campaign has been subpoenaed by the investigation in Congress into the attack on the Capitol, January 6. And in their letter to Ms. McCallum alerting her to the fact that she`s being subpoenaed, the investigation mentions that voice mail as the reason why. They describe that phone call as, quote, credible evidence that you were aware of and participated in efforts to spread false information about alleged voter fraud in the election as well as efforts to encourage state legislators to alter the outcome of the election.
McCallum was one of six people who got the subpoena letters from the January 6 investigation today. They`re all people with ties to the Trump campaign and efforts to overturn the election, and there is familiar names here. Trump`s disgraced national security adviser Mike Flynn, John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote the memo outlining this theory that Pence could overturn the election. Bill Stepien, Trump`s campaign manager in 2020.
According to the committee today, Stepien is being subpoenaed for documents and testimony in part because he, quote, supervised the conversion of the Trump presidential campaign into an effort focused on Stop the Steal messaging and related fundraising.
You see that one there after the period? If you follow the footnote, the committee says they have learned this information about Bill Stepien from an interview they conducted with a witness who has personal knowledge of the situation. Which witness is that?
I mean, if that`s true from the investigation today, that`s new and interesting information. We know the Trump campaign was circulating information internally at the same time showing that they knew internally that these conspiracy theories they were promoting about voter fraud weren`t true. Nevertheless, according to the investigation today, it appears as if Trump`s campaign manager deliberately pivoted the entire Trump reelection effort into a full-on stop the steal fundraising ploy while they knew it was based on nothing but lies.
NBC News has reached out to all six individuals who received these subpoenas today. No worth from any of them about whether they intend to comply with these subpoenas.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: I know it feels like it`s 4:00 in the morning, but it`s the normal time. And it`s only Monday. Ooh. Everything is going to be fine.
That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence. I hate the time change.