Interview with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Federal District Court in Washington D.C. has just ruled emphatically that former President Donald Trump cannot block the January 6th investigation from getting his White House documents and records around the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": -- recognize that the vaccine really does offer tremendous protection.
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: It really, really does. There`s something interesting in what you said, which is that you see this in the misinformation data as well, that people who are unvaccinated are more likely to believe the misinformation that`s out here. And nearly 80 percent of people either believe or think that a myth may be true, many of them are, in fact, -- they tilt toward those who unvaccinated. So, we got a lot of work to do.
HAYES: All right. Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you so much.
That is "ALL IN" on this Tuesday night.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much, much, much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us.
When there`s a lot of focus on Washington in the news, sometimes we like to do a thing where we look at -- look sort of beyond the beltway, look at the front pages of local newspapers around the country to see how the national news is playing around the actual nation and not just in the capital. That`s something we try to do frequently here on the show. We have done it on COVID a number of times. We have done it around big political developments, on impeachment, for example.
I find it to be a helpful reset. It`s a little slice of the news world that gets you out of the Beltway mindset for a minute. Well, today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi`s staff, they seemed to have had a similar kind of idea. Pelosi staffers sent out snapshots of front pages around the country, front pages from local newspapers around the country in terms of how they are covering the trillion dollar infrastructure bill that just passed through Congress and that President Biden is about to sign.
And, you know, the headlines about that bill are great. Particularly about the local impact it`s expected to have in states and communities around the country. Also, the reason I`m guessing the speaker`s office started circulating front page snapshots like this today is because as good as the news is about the infrastructure bill for all these states around the country, it`s bad news for members of Congress from those states who voted against it. I will show you what I mean.
Here is "The Rapid City Journal" in South Dakota today. Above the fold, front page headline, state gets $2.8 billion from infrastructure bill. Woo- hoo! That is a huge amount of money coming to South Dakota, for roads, for bridges, and for rule areas. This is a huge deal in South Dakota. Also, repairs airports, new school buses, drinking water systems, making the electric grid better. $2.8 billion coming to South Dakota alone.
And what is the sub headline after that headline? Johnson, Thune, Rounds opposed the measure.
South Dakota has two U.S. senators like every state does. That`s Republicans John Thune and Mike Rounds. Both Thune and Round vote no against the infrastructure bill. South Dakota has so few people in it that it only has one member of the House. That is a man in Dusty Johnson. Johnson also voted no on the infrastructure bill.
So there is the front page, above the fold headline, in one of the biggest papers in the state, highlighting how a multibillion optimistic event this is going to be for South Dakota. And, by the way, our entire congressional delegation voted against it. That is South Dakota today.
Head to North Dakota, "Grand Forks Herald", North Dakota. This time the news about the Republicans who voted no on the infrastructure bill is right there in the main headline. Armstrong, votes against one trillion dollar package. Armstrong in this case is Kelly Armstrong, who is North Dakota as one solitary member of the House. Kelly Armstrong voted no on the infrastructure bill.
So there is one of the biggest pepper in the states gushing on the front page about all the bill is going to do about how he was no help, he voted no. There is the description on the front page, the bill sets aside significant funding from everything to roads, bridges, Internet access, many have been keenly interested in what it could mean for local airports, highways, interchanges, and underpasses. Yes, underpasses. It is going to do a lot for all of those things.
Headline for North Dakota, about all of those things, we have a Republican congressman here and he voted against us getting this. I should also mention that they have two Republican senators, and they voted no.
Head from the Dakotas, down to Louisiana. You`ve got the same story in two different Louisiana papers, "The Daily Advertiser" in Lafayette, Louisiana. You see at the top of page ones against all the columns, Louisiana to receiving over $7 billion from the infrastructure bill. That`s Lafayette.
Up in Shreveport, Louisiana, the page at "The Times" there puts this headline on it. The state to get seven billion dollars so far from Biden bill, infrastructure passage, a major victory for Louisiana.
But then again, they are on the front page. There is a womp, womp for the Republicans who voted against it.
Quote: Louisiana`s lone Democrat in the House, Congressman Troy Carter of the New Orleans, was the only member to vote for the bill. Quote: This is a transformational moment for the people of Louisiana, Carter said in a statement.
In Louisiana, we`ve learned the hard way, what it means to fill the roads, bridges and flood control systems. In this package, Louisiana will get billions of the federal government to repair and update the roads, bridges, sewage and water systems, update our flood protections, harden our power grid, increase internet connectivity and so much more. That is celebratory state from Troy Carter, the Democratic congressman from Louisiana who voted for it.
And then here is the next line in the article, still on the front page. All five Louisiana House Republicans all voted against the bill. Garrett Graves of the Baton Rouge, Clay Higgins of Port Barre, Mike Johnson of Benton, Julia Letlow of State, and Steve Scalise of Metairie all voted against the bill.
To get the celebratory state about all of this is going to do in attributed to the Democrats, voted yes. Big headlines, seven billion dollars to Louisiana, here is all the Republicans who voted no.
And down to Miami, front page of "The Miami Herald" today, billions of dollars coming to Florida when Biden`s infrastructure bill is law. And on the front page of "Miami Herald:" there, who gets the credit? Quote, South Florida`s four Democrats in Congress, U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel, all voted for the bill.
Republicans including Miami Representatives Mario Diaz Balart, Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar all voted against it. Democrats all voted for it. Republicans all voted against it.
Billions coming to Florida to fix our infrastructure, here is the local officials who all voted against it. They are all Republicans. Put that on the front page. You can see why Speaker Pelosi staff is sending around local paper snapshots of how this is playing, right?
I think this is probably also meant to be a little bit of insurance against the unavoidable next step here, right? Which is that Republicans who voted against the infrastructure bill will nevertheless, show up at the ribbon cuttings and they will sent out press releases about all the new stuff that is coming to the district. That is coming to their state. That is getting funded by the infrastructure bill. They will send out press releases in celebratory tweets about it as if they had said they would do with it when the in fact voted, no.
So we know that is coming. I think this is meant to be a little bit in insurance against. That if you voted no against the infrastructure bill, you`re going to be famous for that no vote. And the Democrats are not going to let you forget it. And it sounds like your hometown papers aren`t either.
That said, there were a handful of Republican members of the House who did vote for the infrastructure bill, there were 13 of them to be exact. These are they.
The Punchbowl news service surface now reports that as punishment for that sin -- punishment against them for voting for infrastructure funding, quote, Republican leadership is bracing for rank and file lawmakers to attempt to strip committee assignments from the 13 Republican lawmakers who voted for the trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill. Several of these lawmakers are also ranking members -- top Republicans on the committees -- those positions could be at risk too.
So the situation the Republican Party has created a sort of difficult dynamic for its members in Congress. If you are a Republican who voted no on the infrastructure bill, you voted no on this incredible popular legislation that is going to have a big impact on literally nuts and bolts issues in every state in the country. The Republicans who voted no on it are getting named and shamed on the front pages of local newspaper all across the country because they didn`t vote to help their home state. Because their home states are set to be getting this funding for all the stuff that everybody wants. But the Republican members of Congress said no we don`t want it.
But the handful of Republicans who voted yes, well, they are facing the wrath of their own party in Washington. They are facing being stripped from their committee assignments, effectively, exiled from the party. As if they did something terrible. As if they threatened to kill someone, or something.
No wait, actually, there is a sitting Republican member of Congress who just threatened to kill someone. Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar just in the past few days posted an online video, an online cartoon video of himself showing him as a cartoon character killing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Posted like a murder fantasy about killing one of his colleagues in the House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on the Ethics Committee, even outside law enforcement to look into this matter, to take action, in response to Congressman Gosar to posting this threat that he`s going to kill his colleague.
You know, she has suggested that perhaps the Republican Party in Congress, in the House, might take action to do something in response to that. What did they say the options are? Remove him from his committees?
So far, no sign that Congressman Paul Gosar it is going to face that kind of punishment or anything like it for what he did -- again, in threatening to kill a fellow member of Congress. But if you are a Republican who committed the brave crime of voting for a bill to what fund road repairs and Internet access to small towns, well that grave crime is enough to potentially end your career in the Republican Party. That is the kind of soon you might actually pay for.
Today, the investigation into the January 6th attack on the U.S. capitol produced another ten subpoenas. Demanding records and documents and ultimately testimony from ten different people close to, who worked close with President Trump around the time of the attack and leading up to it. The list includes Trump`s former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, also his body man -- body man is a weird turn but is the man who is supposed to carry the presidents paper, and to physically moving around, like pointing towards the right door. That body man was a guy name Johnny McEntee. He was hired as Trump`s body man and ultimately, when everyone else started quitting, he put him in charge of White House personnel. He was also subpoenaed today.
In ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl`s new book which was excerpted today in "The Atlantic," Johnny McEntee is described as playing the role of essentially being the deputy president of the United States, being deputy president to Trump and in fact running the White House in the final week of the Trump administration. Again, he was hired to carry the papers and open the doors.
Jonathan Karl`s book also described Mr. Johnny McEntee playing a direct role a previously unknown but reportedly direct role in pressuring vice president Mike Pence that he needed to subvert the count of the electoral votes and thereby throughout the election results on January six.
Mr. McEntee reportedly participated in that pressure campaign against Vice President Mike Pence directly. That was unknown before Mr. Karl spoke. It is unknown whether the January six committee wants to talk to Mr. Johnny McEntee specifically but he did get subpoenaed today.
Vice President Pence national security advisor, General Keith Kellogg, also issued a subpoena. As well as Stephen Miller, he will be remembered in history for being the architect of the policy that arranged for the U.S. government to take thousands of little kids away from their mom and dad indefinitely. He has been subpoenaed now to testify about his efforts to spread false information about the election results and to persuade states to overthrow those results and proclaimed Trump the win or even in states that Trump lost.
A number of other people who are accused of participating in that pressure campaign targeting Republicans controlled state legislators in states that Trump lost, telling state legislators that they should send electoral slates to Washington as if Trump won even though he lost. A number of people participated in those efforts, also the White House deputy chief of staff, also Trump`s personal assistance, also another guy who served as Trump`s body man when the first guy got promoted to run the government while Trump was tweaking as of January six. They all got subpoenas today.
Each passing day of course is more proverbial-y present of whether the Justice Department is actually going to see to it that the subpoenas are enforced. The Justice Department is still currently mulling whether they are going to bring a prosecution, a contempt prosecution against any Trump aides who defy these subpoenas.
There was a criminal referral made to the U.S. Justice Department over Trump advisor Steve Bannon defying his subpoena from the January 6 investigation. Justice Department has received that reflect, but they still not acted on it, one way or another. And so we do not know whether or not this investigation will effectively be allowed to proceed.
As more Trump folks get subpoenaed, we had six yesterday and we have time today as they all upon receiving decide whether or not they`re going to comply with them. That Justice Department decision whether they are not, Steve Bannon will be prosecuted for contempt for the flying that subpoena. That Justice Department decision may well be determinative in terms of whether this investigation actually really has the power to investigate anything. Or is this whole process optional for witnesses who do not feel like dealing with it.
The Justice Department has been prosecuting individual people who went to the Capitol, individual rioters, individual people who rooted and broke stuff and hurt people on January six.
They arrested hundreds of people, and those cases are all working their way through the court. The Justice Department appears to have the nothing in terms of the organizers of the January 6th event. The people who invited the January six rioters to come to Washington and because it would be wild, because they were promoting this theory that Mike Pence could be pressured, could potentially even be physical stopped from counting the electoral votes and that would undo the election results.
The Justice Department appears to be letting that slide entirely. They appeared to be not investigating. That they are just going for the foot soldiers. The people who are investigating the organizers of the attack on the Capitol, the organizers of the so-called insurrection our Congress, the congressional committee.
But if all these Trump folks start defying the subpoenas and saying, we consider this investigation to be optional, it will be up to the Justice Department to decide whether or not that gets prosecuted as contempt. Whether or not the subpoenas are in fact going to be -- it is in Merrick Garland`s hand in a lot of ways.
So that remains. That sort of proceeds with each passing day as it gets even more intense. And the questions around it become even more constitutionally potent. But the dance card in Washington just broadly is quite -- here is something I want to show you on a lighter note. Here is something I want to show you that we`ve got exclusively. This is going to start airing broadly tomorrow.
There`s pretty significant ad buy behind it, so you will likely be seeing it circulating tomorrow. I say that with a little bit of surprise because, to be honest, we have to double triple check with the lawyers to see if we were even allowed to play this ad on TV. It turns out, we are allowed to play it. And so I am going to show it to you.
Again, it is coming up tomorrow, we got here exclusively tonight, this is the world premiere. It is not gory, or`s wary, or upsetting or anything. But it is a little edgy. I think that`s the right word. Let`s see what you think, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
AD NARRATOR: Is your democracy flaccid? Trouble maintaining a strong coalition? Tired of the parade of disappointing performances? Then you might be one of the 330 million Americans suffering from electile dysfunction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get all excited about a new bill,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bill bag gets hot and heated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll move thanks to the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And right when we`re about to achieve a joint resolution, them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Total government shut down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Premature capitulation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time I get in the election, I think, maybe this time will be different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Filibustering just doesn`t make me feel good anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s embarrassing, okay.
ANNOUNCER: Fortunately there is the Freedom to Vote Act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Freedom to Vote Act?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the Freedom to Vote Act?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Freedom to Vote Act --
NARRATOR: The Freedom to Vote Act and you`re tired, sagging, floppy relationship with politics, by making Election Day a holiday across the country, banning gerrymandering, expanding voter against, and increasing integrity, blocking foreign interference, and powering every day citizens and healing our democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now my election is rock-solid. And it works everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh it works everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it`s safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It needs to take me forever to find a location to vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But with the FTVA, we have all day to get to the polls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it only takes two minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which I prefer, honestly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She really does.
NARRATOR: The Freedom to Vote Act is only for democracies healthy enough for electoral activity. Talk to your representative if you are experiencing greased palms, lined pockets and dictators, neo fascist, or other pre- existing conditions, as you may not be healthy enough for the FTVA. Passing FTVA may cause an increase in being hurt, power a full expression of your inalienable rights, representation and the real federal condition, called accountability.
If you experience voting lines that last over four hours, call your senator, because they have not passed the FTVA.
Talk to your senator about the Freedom to Vote Act, and demand safer and more satisfying elections today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Admit, that`s very well done.
Represent Us is a good government group, they`re an anti-corruption group. My favorite parts are the sad twizzler. I will never eat a Twizzler again without laughing at it.
Also this -- I don`t know if you notice, there was a lot going on, but the subtitles are really funny. Must be 18 years or older to vote.
Ask your doctor if is stable functioning democracy is right for you. A peaceful transition of power is necessary for sustain representation. That when they don`t even, reader runs across the bottom. Side effects may also include civic satisfaction, increase prosperity, ordinance is established, blessings secured, faith renewed and postelection clarity.
Talk to your representative if you`re experiencing, greased palms, lined pockets, dictators, neo fascists or other preexisting conditions. You may not be healthy enough to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. It`s very good.
Anyway, that`s going live tomorrow from Represent Us, trying to keep the pressure on to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, to protect the freedom to vote.
That said, the Freedom to Vote Act is not going to pass without Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, for example, deciding that it matters enough for him to make it happen. Democrats in the Senate would have to change the filibuster rules to pass voting reforms and democracy protections like that bill, if they`re going to get it passed because Republicans will not help them do it. Senator Joe Manchin has toyed with the idea being willing to do, that but doesn`t seem poised to act.
You know, in terms of what will happen next in Washington, they did just pass this big infrastructure bill, right, which is huge. I mean, check your local paper to see if your local Republican member of Congress help to her and that. One it`s a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. It`s a very big deal.
But now that they have done that, they actually have to do an impossible number of things over the next few days. By next week, they need to vote to fund the government. They need to vote to raise the debt ceiling. They need to pass the must pass bill to fund the military.
And, oh, by the way, they need to pass through both the House and Senate, the Build Back Better bill. Remember, it was pulse be infrastructure in the Build Back Better bill is the big one. It`s the home for the bulk of President Biden`s economic agenda. This is the bill that House Democrats and House progressives were promised, would pass. They were promised it would pass next week, in exchange for their votes on infrastructure this past Friday.
How is that promise holding up? How likely is this all to come together in the end?
Joining us now is Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who has been a key player in these negotiations and remains so.
Congresswoman Jayapal, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks for being here.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): It`s great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, what happened with the passage of this bill on Friday? We`ve been talking for weeks if not months -- I think weeks at least -- about you wanting to pass, you in the progressive caucus, wanting to pass the infrastructure bill, and the Build Back Better bill together. One of them went without the other and exchange for a promise.
How strong is that promise?
JAYAPAL: Well, Rachel, first of all, five weeks ago, there was no Build Back Better bill. There was no negotiated agreement between the two senators that you mentioned, Manchin and Sinema, and the White House. And the House, there was no text. There was no vote to move the bill forward before the final vote at the end.
As you know, the Progressive Caucus stood up strong, not once, not just once but twice, to make sure that that we didn`t pass the infrastructure bill without the Build Back Better bill. And we made a tremendous amount of progress.
What happened on Friday, is that we were all set to pass both bills. At the last minute there were six Democrats who said they needed more fiscal information from the Congressional Budget Office. And that they needed a little bit more time.
I`ll tell you Rachel, our members of the Progressive Caucus were so strong, they were willing to continue to hold it up. But we had a caucus why discussion, and we decided, that what we needed to do was show momentum, by passing the infrastructure bill, if and only if we got an absolute rock- solid agreement, from the six, that they would vote for this bill, as soon as the Congressional Budget Office got that information to them, but no later than next week.
That is the agreement that we finally agreed to. I believe and I`ll tell you they made a commitment to me one-on-one, they made a written statement, they also made a commitment to the president, that they did not believe any information would change substantially from what had already been provided. And we would pass the bill next week.
Negotiation is always tough, but there is a moment where you just have to decide, whether it is going to get you close enough to what`s the original prize was. What was the original prize? It was to pass the Build Back Better Act through the House, and to actually get universal childcare, universal pre-K, biggest investment and housing, a real half trillion dollar investment and taking on climate change, making sure we protect our immigrants, these are all the major things -- health care, Medicare expansion, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, these are all the things in the Build Back Better Act, and, Rachel, we`re going to get it passed next week.
And that just would not have happened six weeks ago, five weeks, ago if the progressive caucus had not stood up strong, to say, this is what we are going to do.
No one left behind. MADDOW: Now, those members who said they would not vote until they got information from the CBO about cost, is there a decision on whether or not to vote for, it dependent on what the CBO says the cost is? I mean, if the CBO comes back and says the cost is going to be Y instead of the cost is going to be X, is that going to be justification for them, to not vote for the bill, and thereby leave you sort of stranded?
JAYAPAL: Well, the really good news is we got a lot of fiscal information from the joint committee on taxation and from the White House, that actually mapped out and said this is how much it cost, this is what the investments are, this is what the revenue will be.
And what they said is, we just want a few more tables from the CBO actually verifying this information that we got. What are written agreement says, is that, the written statement says this, as long as it turns out to be approximately ballpark with the White House is already given us, that they will be fine. If there is a discrepancy, they will work expeditiously with us to fix that discrepancy. The president committed that if there was a discrepancy, he would work very quickly with us to fix it, and to make sure we raise the revenue.
But, Rachel, everyone I`ve talked to, I don`t think we would`ve made this deal, if we thought there was going to be a discrepancy. Everyone we have talked to has said, that the CBO, you know, whatever these tables are that we`re going to get, are going to be the same as what the White House is represented the costs and the revenue to be. So, I feel confidence, and let me say we asked the White House multiple times, are you sure these numbers will match up, and they did say yes, we are very certain of that.
So, I think we`re going to be fine. Look, I think at the end of the day, sometimes, you just need to make sure that you`re not getting so stuck in your promise that you don`t see that actually this is now a $2.1 trillion bill, and we are going to have every single one, but perhaps will lose one, I`m not sure about one of the members, voting for this bill, which means we get a very strong vote from across the Democratic caucus, on this bill, to send to the Senate. And again, with all of our progressive priorities that we had articulated almost six months ago.
MADDOW: Washington Congressman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus -- still very much in the thick of this, sort of in suspended animation right now between these two bills -- thank you for helping us understand tonight. Thanks very much.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The call came into the Vermont secretary of state`s office on December 1st, four weeks after election last year. The man on the phone was fixated on one of the election conspiracy theories pushed by President Trump and his allies. This conspiracy theory that voting machines from a company Dominion had been rigs to flip millions of votes from Trump to Biden, and they had stolen the election.
This caller to the Vermont secretary of state back on December 1st, was very, very angry about this conspiracy theory, I will actually play you the audio of the voice mail that he left there. It is unpleasant, it`s disturbing, it`s a little bit scary. That`s not the kind of thing you want to hear right now this is your chance to mute.
We`re going to play it. The voice mail last about 40 seconds. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICEMAIL: You (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are done. This might be a good time to put a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) pistol in your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) mouth and pull the trigger if you are any part of this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fraud. Do you understand?
Do you realize there`s a reason we just brought back the firing squad. No more painless lethal injection. From now on, the firing squad or poison gas. Both are torture`s deaths. You if you mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are in on this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) let me tell you what. Your days are (EXPLETIVE DELETED) numbered.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was one of three threatening messages like that, left for Vermont election officials in November in December of last year, all left by the same man.
We know that because of detail new reporting from Reuters, reporters Linda So and Jason Szep.
According to interviews and records that Reuters obtained, state police in Vermont looked into the matter and determined that the number this guy was calling from, was quote, essentially untraceable. The reporters write, quote, police did not pursue a case on the grounds that the caller didn`t threaten a specific person, or indicate an intimate plan to act. State police never spoke with the caller, Reuters did.
Quote, reporters connected with him in September on the phone number police said called untraceable. In five conversations over four days, spending more than three, hours the man acknowledge threatening Vermont officials, and described his thinking.
And these Reuters reporters did not just speak to this one Vermont guy who left those threatening messages like that, they actually tracked down an interviewed a total of nine different people, responsible for making threatening communications targeting elections officials, six of them across 40 front states.
All of the nine people they tracked, down happily owned up to having left these threats. As "Reuters" puts, it most were unrepentant.
This is a new, piece of remarkable reporting from Reuters. But the latest in a series they have done, highlighting the increasing extreme harassment and threats of violence that have been directed at even low level elections officials, since last year`s presidential election.
Back in June, Reuters published a blood curdling report on the barrage of violent threats and physical intimidation directed at elections officials, and volunteer election workers, the headline on that episode in this series was Trump inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers. Sub- headline on that piece did not mince words. Election officials and their families are living with threats hanging firing squads, torture in bomb blast. Interviews and documents reveal.
The campaign of fear, sparked by Trump`s voter fraud falsehoods, threatens the U.S. electoral system. That was the first in the series.
Reuters said it is now documented in nearly 800 intimidating messages to elections officials in 12 different, states including more than 100 that legal experts say, could warrant prosecution, because they could put a reasonable person in fear of bodily harm or death.
But, troublingly, this latest instance of reporting on this issue includes the fact that law`s response to this very widespread and intense campaign of intimidation, has been anemic. And so, the reporters decided that they would track down some of these colors themselves, in large part because the police seem to never have bothered, one stay-at-home dad and part-time Lyft driver in Arizona, became convinced that Barack Obama and George Soros had packed ballot boxes with fake ballot boxes from China, he left expletive filled messages for Arizona secretary of state, saying she would hang from a tree.
Georgia real estate investor saw a presentation from Rudy Giuliani on supposed election fraud in Georgia, he left a voice mail for the Fulton County elections director, telling him that he quote, better run, because he would be hung. Or he would face the firing squad.
A 42-year-old night staffer, who works at a youth treatment center in Utah, he says his anger boiled over after he watched an election conspiracy event hosted by the My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell. This Utah man, the one that works at the youth treatment center, he message Colorado`s top election official and told her quote, I know where you sleep. I see you sleeping. Be afraid, be very afraid. I hope you die.
That was sent by a real person, whose findable, traceable, Reuters called them. Reuters spoke with nine of these, folks all but one of them were happy to go by record and by name, admitting to their cause, saying they believe they hadn`t done anything wrong, saying the elections officials deserve these threats.
And most of the people Reuters spoke to, part of the reason they`re so cocky about having done this and they`re not running from, it is because there`s been no consequences from them. Most of them have never heard from the police about what they did, even though elections officials alerted law enforcement about their messages, and forward them all the information that Reuters was able to use to find these people.
As for the Vermont, either one`s voice meant we just played, the one who Reuters contacted on the phone number police that was untraceable. The Vermont guy toyed Reuters journalist, that thousands of fake ballots were cast in Arizona, he referred to the Dominion conspiracy theory. He said members of the media would soon be executed. Perpetrators of election fraud would be sent to military prison.
And then he started threatening the Reuters journalists. They say that he sent them dozens of texts and voicemails over the course of several weeks. Less than a month ago he left them a new threatening voice mail -- excuse me, he left a new threatening voice mail he left with the Vermont secretary of state`s office. He said some election staffers in the two Reuters reporters were, quote, about to get effing popped. But he didn`t say effing.
And you would think, surely there must be some kind of investigation, now after all the earlier calls from this Vermont guy, in the police say no this guy`s untraceable, Reuters found it is very easy to trace, them they were able to trace, and they talk to him. Even after they talked him about the threats he started up the threats again, and then started threatening the reporters as well, it`s all documented. The Reuters reporters know who the guy is. They`ve been able to find, him there`s no sense in which`s phone was untraceable.
Apparently Vermont state police, again, declined to investigate. And the FBI won`t say whether they`re looking into it, although the bureau did tell Reuters it takes such acts seriously. They said they work with other law enforcement agencies to quote, identify and stop any potential threats to public safety and quote, investigate any and all federal violations to the fullest. It`s a nice general statement of purpose.
This reporting from Reuters, it`s been a series over the last few, months a groundbreaking series one that will be award-winning I am sure, it has now tipped over into the people they have found who waged these campaigns of harassment and intimidation against elections officials.
These folks have now turned on the reporters as well. It seems in part because of their belief that they will never have any consequences for what they are doing.
One of the reporters who broke his story will join us live here next. Stay tuned for that.
MADDOW: First, June. This ground braiding and sort of blood curdling piece from Reuters. Trump inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers. But if you months later, Reuters followed up with this. U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement as terror threats mount. And now today, act three, Reuters unmask Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials.
Law enforcement has taken little action as backers of Trump aim threats at election officials. Reuters tracked down nine of the harassers. Most were unrepentant.
It is a remarkable series from Reuters, up until including this new piece today, in which these reporters tracked down and spoke to nine people responsible for quite acutely threatening communication delivered to six election officials across four different states.
Most of the nine people he made contact with didn`t seem to care that they had been found in particular. Most of them, the cops never bothered to speak to. Most of them, as Reuters says fairly unrepentant here, proud of what they did, which presumably means that there is nothing to stop them from continuing to do this sort of thing.
Joining us now is senior editor Jason Szep, who reported the story today along with this colleague, Linda So.
Mr. Szep, thank you so much for joining us and congratulations on this reporting. It`s really important.
JASON SZEP, REUTERS: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: My sense from your reporting is that there hasn`t been much law enforcement response to these elections, even one election rough issues have documented them and handed them over to law enforcement in a very careful way. You outlined this quite serious case informant, where the Vermont state police seem to be completely disinterested. But it seems like that is a pattern that you and your colleagues have been able to discover.
SZEP: Yes. It surprised us. First, in June, the DOJ launched a task force to gather threats from across the secretary of state`s offices, local ones across the country. We can the same thing. We went out together threats from elected officials across the country, particularly in the battleground states.
Then, we went through them we looked at them with severity, we gathered around 800 of them. And as we looked, we narrowed down a sort of severe threats, the kind that legal experts said could be prosecuted in court. Then we went out to set up, track down, the people who were making these threats. We want to understand their motivation. Try to understand their thinking.
You know, when we spoke to them, we were really surprised that none of them had any contact at all with law enforcement.
MADDOW: In terms of the gentleman informant with whom you spoke, we played a voice mail that he left at the Vermont secretary of state office, obviously, very threatening. You and your colleagues detailed the way that the police explained why they didn`t follow that up.
It was specifically laid out in your reporting however, the police said that they couldn`t find him, that they found that his phone number was untraceable and that they couldn`t locate him. That seemed to be a part of their initial explanation as to why they weren`t pursuing this matter despite how threatening it was. How alarm the police were, when they receive these threats.
Did you have to do any magic, jiu-jitsu, should lock homes to find this guy. Do you know why the people of the police department believed he was untraceable?
SZEP: You know, we -- when we did a records request to the secretary of state`s office, they gave us the threats, they gave us the voice mails, and with that, they gave us a phone number. So, all we did was call that number. The individual, when we first contacted him, he basically hung up. He swore at us. Then we called him again, again, and again.
And it was only the second time that we called him that he really started opening up to us. And over the course of a number of days we spoke with him in a sort of -- multiple interviews that went in total over three hours. We really got a sense of -- he didn`t reveal his identity however we got a good sense of what was drawing him.
At a certain point, as we discuss in the story, he turned on us as well.
MADDOW: Reuters senior editor, Jason Szep, thank you very much for your time tonight. I hope you and your colleagues will keep reporting on this. I`m sorry that it ended up with you to getting threatened by these folks as well. This is really crucially important reporting. Nobody is doing anywhere near the level of detail that you guys are. It`s a real service. Thank you.
SZEP: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We have only breaking news that just came in and the last few minutes, a federal judge tonight has just ruled on former president Donald Trump`s attempt to try and keep documents out of the hands of the investigation in Congress into the attack of the U.S. Capitol, on January 6.
Last month, Trump filed a lawsuit against the January six investigation, as well as the national archives, which holds on to all the presidential documents. The lawsuit aimed to prevent the national archives from preventing from handing it over during the investigation. The suit argued that it was protective by executive privilege and must be shielded from the investigators.
Well, in reality, the person who actually gets to assert that something is protected by executive privilege is not a former president but the current president. And President Biden reviewed the documents in question and said actually, no, these are not privileged documents at all. These can be given into the investigation.
Just within the past few minutes, this federal judge has issued her ruling on that lawsuit. She has summarily rejected Donald Trump`s attempt to shield these documents from the January six investigation in Congress.
The judge writes in tonight`s ruling, quote: the plaintiff does not acknowledge the difference owed to the incumbent president judgment, naming President Biden, who waived executive privilege on this document. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised in a notion that his executive power exist in perpetuity.
But presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.
The judge also writes in this ruling tonight that it is well within the public`s interest that Congress gets to review these documents, quote, the court holds at the public interest lies and permitting the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to studied the events that led to and occurred on January six, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from occurring again.
So, again, this ruling says that Trump`s assertion of privilege is bogus. And that there is a strong and legitimate public interest in these documents given into the investigation, so they shall go. Not the documents requested by the investigation include, like White House call logs, and draft documents prepared for Trump, handwritten notes from his chief of staff, also included in these documents requests, which I find very intriguing was supposedly in executive order that was drafted about election integrity. Trump was going to try to issue some sort of executive integrity, what was that?
As was expected, Trump has filed a notice that he attends to appeal this ruling to the D.C. appeals court but barring any movement on that, with this ruling from this judge tonight, all those documents, all the documents that the investigation is seeking, are now expected to be turned over to the January 6th investigation by the end of this week. We`ll see, we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: That`s going to do it for us for now but just recapping the news that has broken within the last few minutes, in this 39-page ruling, the Federal District Court in Washington D.C. has just ruled emphatically that former President Donald Trump cannot block the January 6th investigation from getting his White House documents and records around the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
He tried to assert executive privilege, the judge rejected that. He tried to claim the demand was over broad and unrelated to the public interest. The judge shut that down as well.
This ruling, coming down, just this hour, we will have more head. Undoubtedly.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence. I hate the time change.