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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/2

Guests: Stacey Abrams


Interview with Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Jan. 6 vice chair, said that former President Donald Trump`s false claims about elections have "misled millions".


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: You can overcome that.

BEN MATHIS-LILLEY, SLATE SENIOR WRITER: -- historical factors in midterms, can be affected by one person`s extreme unpopularity. And that`s Donald Trump. And he is really doing his best to make this kind of an epic political science experiment.

HAYES: Ben Mathis-Lilley, hank you.

That is "ALL IN" for this Thursday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here on this fine Friday Eve by which I mean it is the eve of Friday.

Tonight, we are going to be joined by the person who is most likely to be the first female governor of the state of Georgia, the first black female governor of any state in the country, the estimable Stacey Abrams.

She`s already a national political figure, somebody who for example the Democratic Party is already tasked with giving a response to a State of the Union, during the Trump years. She was already credited as the organizer political talent who more than anybody else is responsible for having turned Georgia blue.

Stacey Abrams has just announced that she is officially in the running to become the next governor of Georgia, that would make her the first female governor of Georgia, the first black woman ever elected governor of a U.S. state. Stacey Abrams is going to be joining us here live for an exclusive interview tonight. I`m really looking for to that conversation.

If you have been watching the news unfold over the course of the day today, it has been a little bit like watching a snowball running downhill getting bigger and bigger. When we went to bed last night, there was one known case of the Omicron COVID variant in the United States. A person in California who had recently traveled to South Africa. South Africa`s where that variant is thought to have originated, or at least where was first detected.

Public health experts and officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have spoken with Chris Hayes tonight on MSNBC. They have been warning us that as soon as the Omicron variant was anywhere, it was likely going to be everywhere very quickly. We shouldn`t expect to be able to keep this new variance out.

Well, sure enough, we went to bed with there being one case in the United States, by the end of the day today, it`s no longer just one case in California, it is a case in California, a case in Minnesota, a case in Colorado. Tonight, the governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, announced there are five known cases in New York. Probably since I have been talking that list is out of date, there will undoubtedly be more.

Just like they said it would be, it is definitely here, essentially instantly. And depending on how it competes with the Delta strain, which is dominant here in the United States right now, it may well be that Omicron takes over and becomes that were new dominant coronavirus variant. How will it be different than Delta?

We will learn the answers to all of these things soon enough. Dr. Fauci told Chris Hayes tonight that perhaps in 2 to 3 weeks we will have at least preliminary answers to some of the most important questions. But, for now, Omicron is here. And we really don`t know firm answers to any of the important questions about it yet. They`re being worked on, but we don`t know how contagious it is for one, how transmissible it, is how easy it is for one person to give to another. Also, how well to antibodies of various kinds work or not work against it. I mean, that means antibodies that we got from being vaccinated, but also the antibodies we got from having been infected with COVID and survived it.

It is worth noting that when the WHO, the World Health Organization, put out their first international statement about the new Omicron variant being detected, they noted explicitly in that for statement that they thought they were seeing a high degree of reinfection with the Omicron variant. That means people who had COVID before, and recovered from it, we`re nevertheless getting COVID again, getting this new strain of COVID as if it was a whole new thing, as if the antibodies they developed against the earlier strain of the virus did not help them with this one.

Now, again, that was just an initial observation from WHO, we don`t really know yet, we also don`t know at all if this variant makes people more or less sick, more or less likely to be hospitalized, more or less likely to potentially die. We don`t know if Omicron have symptoms that are worse or less bad than what we have experience with delta already.

We don`t know if it`s death rate is worse or better. We don`t know those things yet, and we may know those things as Dr. Fauci said tonight, and maybe as soon as two or three weeks. But we don`t have two or three weeks to wait to do the research to get ready. It is here now.

And so, you know, shields up once again in terms of the common sense stuff we know we can do to keep ourselves safe, to try to keep around safe. We have to work again now in the face of another round of worry and uncertainty about how bad this one is going to be.


The White House today announced a whole bunch of new stuff they are going to try to do to get ahead of it and some of it is exactly what you would expect. They announced for example an extension of the role that you have to wear a mask on planes and trains and all kinds of public transportation. Some cities and counties will presumably go back to mask rules as well if they ended them before, that`s logical, given what we know about how coronaviruses are transmitted.

The White House announced that they`re going to try to up the availability and affordability of at-home testing kits. I tell you, I used one of them just the other day myself. I felt a little logy and a little bit weird, and I wanted to be careful, not to get anybody else sick in case I had somehow gotten COVID. So I didn`t home test for the first time.

And I have to tell you, it was kind of cool. It`s not hard to do, but it`s like just complex and novel enough that it`s like doing a little science project. Instead of just writing yourself a note, it`s like writing a note using an etch-a-sketch. Like it`s gadgety and cool. I enjoyed the process myself. And I was really happy to be able to do it at home.

The Biden administration today announced plans to make those at-home test kits easier to get, and they want to make insurance cover the cost of them. On paper, that`s good in terms of affordability. Of course, in the real world, we all know from real life that dealing with insurance for any purpose is always a total pain, so hopefully the White House can figure a way to cut the cost of those test kits in a way that is more direct and easier for everybody to deal with rather than having to get reimbursed for it from your insurance company. But even that is a good start.

And I think it is worth noting, there is a sort of important concept buried in the middle of what the White House announced today. And it`s interesting and promising. All this worry about Omicron, the numbers going back, up hospitals that are overwhelmed right now, even before Omicron really gets here. There`s a lot of reasons to worry.

But there is also like there`s a vision here, and there is reasons to be hopeful conceptually embedded in what the White House announced today. And what I mean by that is, I think it is important to see, and recognize, that we are having this new big push from the administration for home testing kits. At the same time that we are also able to talk for the first time about at-home affective COVID treatment as well, right?

For the first time, and these announcements preparing for the winter and preparing for Omicron, the White House was able to talk about making COVID antiviral treatment pills more available as well. The Merck antiviral pill, the Pfizer antiviral pill, they are not approved yet, but they are coming. They are both in the process of being approved.

Well, the White House announced today that they are buying millions of doses of those anti viral pills so they will be ready to go in large numbers as soon as they are approved. But just conceptually, think about how those two things go together, right? Both of those things are at home, right?

The test I did the other day, I just had it on hand. When it first came on the mark at the summer, Susan was at the drugstore one day and saw they had them picked up a couple of boxes that we would have them just in case, that was a while ago, they just sat in the medicine cabinet ever since, but sure enough this week I felt a little -- and it was really good to have.

I didn`t need to go anywhere, I didn`t mean to make an appointment, I work weird hours and I stay up to 3:00 in the morning, I did it like at 2:30 in the morning. That was when it was convenient for me. Had I had to go somewhere and make an appointment and get a test at a place with other people, you know, waiting in line and all that stuff, I totally would have put it off and procrastinated. But because I had it at home, I did it at the kitchen table when it was convenient for me, basically as soon as I felt gross.

It took 15 minutes, I kind of enjoyed, it was fun. And then it was done. I had my result.

My test was negative, thank God. But if it had been positive, this is where, there is a little bit of hope here. If I had been positive, think about how that would go, ideally, if as a country we could get all of these pieces of the puzzle in place, right?

I mean, first piece, first of all, you`re vaccinated, right? So, you are less likely to get COVID in the first place. Second of all, if you do get COVID, if you`re vaccinated, you are less likely to get really sick. So, that`s all good. You have those pieces in place first, you know?

And that`s why being vaccinated is good for you, it`s good for your family. It`s good for your community. It`s good for your local hospital who hopes they will never see before COVID. Thereby, good for your country, right? Being vaccinated takes a lot of boxes in terms of what you can do for yourself for yourself, and your people, and your country.

But, let`s say even with those precautions in place, you do start to feel sick, you think you might have COVID symptoms you`re having. But here`s the process ideally if we can make all of this work. You`re vaccinated. Nevertheless, you feel like you might be sick, sit down at the kitchen table, you take your at-home test.


If it`s positive, what do you do? You call the doctor. The doctor gives you a prescription for the antiviral pill.

Well, at least in the case of the Pfizer antiviral pill, in clinical trials that has shown nearly 90 percent effectiveness and getting people out of the hospital.

Now to get those amazing results from that drug, you do have to act fast. You have to take the drug early, soon after you are diagnosed, before your symptoms get serious. Well that would be a heck of a lot easier if everybody had home test gets around, where in 15 minutes, they could find out if they had COVID or not. That would really increase the number of people who caught the infection quickly, right after the onset of moderate symptoms, which is exactly what you want to start your five-day of antivirals. Again, at home, and not in the hospital, not after you are too sick for any of the drugs to actually work on you.

You can see the pieces kind of coming together here right? If we really did get home test to everybody, very cheaply, or freely, and people can get these five-day courses of antiviral pills which are 90 percent effective at keeping outside the hospital, if that was the result of you testing positive, call and get a prescription, get your antivirals. Well then, that is a profile for an American COVID epidemic where maybe the hospital stopped getting overrun like they are tonight, again, in parts of Minnesota, parts of Michigan, parts of Ohio, parts of Wisconsin, parts of a lot of other states.

I mean, that`s a profile for an American COVID epidemic where we stop dying at a rate of 1,000 Americans a day, which is still where we are right now, 80,000 new infections a day, which is where we are right now.

If we were able to get these pieces in place, all of which we talked about by the White House today, none of which are magic. These really do seem like the pieces that need to be in place. They`re all rational. They are all put our destiny more in our own hands than it has been in the past.

They all offer us the prospect of protecting our health system, so the people who really do need it can get into it, and can get good care rather than being overrun, and people being -- unable to get a bed, unable to get more advanced levels of care when they need it. These are the pieces that need to fit together.

Not only do people still contend with now, but particularly if this Omicron thing that is screaming down a tunnel towards death is turning out to be a bad one, these are the pieces that we`re going to need in place. We will need all these things. Testing at home so you do it fast, right away, it`s not a pain, you don`t put it off, you test it as soon as you get anything that might be a symptom.

If you are positive, what we need access to his treatment, as soon as those treatments are approved, treatment that you could do at home, quickly while it is still able to do some good. Of course, we need as we have from the beginning, we need as much vaccination as possible.

None of that is magic, all of that is all but in our grasp. If Omicron is bad, we will really need those things.

Today, the White House said, 2.2 million Americans got a vaccine dose in the last day, 2.2 million shots in a day. That`s huge. That is the largest number of shots in this country since the spring, since May. Over 2 million Americans getting a shot in a single day is a good sign that, it shows that we are worried, but it shows that for the most part we get what is going on here. We get what is needed to be done, we understand the rational steps that are needed to protect ourselves in our country, at least most of the country does.

Of course, alternatively, instead, you could you know, give your baby and landfill mud. Maybe that will work instead. And while you are dipping your baby in landfill mud, why not eat some of that dirt yourself, just in just a bit every day, or a lot, try breaking into your cookies. Maybe that is a better idea for how to handle this problem.

Magic dirt. What`s? This is a real thing that the anti-vax people are doing now. You are forgiven if you think that I am joking. Or if you are finding it hard to keep up with exactly what the anti-vaccine folks are putting themselves -- or putting into themselves now. It can be hard to keep up with.

But there are journalists who have been watching this, and we are better off for knowing what they have been able to document. As unbelievable as some of it is, we have to know that this is what is happening. Most of the country is getting their act together, some of it is not. It seems to be getting worse over there.

About two and a half months ago, NBC News reported on what reporter Ben Collins called, vigilante treatments that were being promoted and anti- vaccine Facebook groups, where the anti-vaccine people were going so far as to tell people that they should pull their family members out of hospitals. They should pull checks on hospitals, even pull their gravely ill family members out of ICU wards, to instead bring them home and treat them with ivermectin, and other great ideas you can learn about from sports podcast that you can learn on Facebook.


Quote: Some people in groups that formed recently to promote the false cure ivermectin, an anti-parasite treatment, have claimed extracting COVID patients from hospitals is pivotal so they can self-medicate at home with ivermectin. But as the patients began to realize that ivermectin by itself is not effective, the groups then began recommending a series of increasingly hazardous at home treatments such as gargling with iodine, and nebulizing and inhaling hydrogen peroxide. They`re calling it part of a "protocol".

The Asthma Allergy Foundation of America recently it put out a warning against nebulizer hydrogen peroxide. Nebulizing means literally putting it in a freaking inhaler, like an asthma inhaler and then inhaling. Hydrogen peroxide, really?

That reporting was from NBC News from September. But what they were talking about there, by November, there it was, spotted in the wild, "Vice News" reporting on the QAnon cult of shoot that sent hundreds of Trump supporters to Dallas, Texas, recently, where they convince themselves they were going to witness the re-vacation of President Kennedy and also his son, who`s coming back from the dead in order to be King Trump`s new vice president, or maybe kings don`t need vice presidents, he`d be vice king.

Just astonishing stuff what happened there with all the QAnon Trump supporters in Dallas. It`s astonishing. And someone entertaining, I guess, because it`s so crazy. And it`s also sad and wearing, and tragic.

This is "Vice`s" headline on that reporting. Quote: The QAnon JFK cult in Dallas is tearing families apart. Quote, Katie Garner`s sister left her family behind and drove to Dallas about a month ago and has cut off almost all communication with her family. Her phone calls and messages are also being monitored according to Garner, who believes her sister will never return.

Quote, she left her children for this and doesn`t even care. She`s missing birthdays and holidays for this. She truly believes this is all real and we`re the crazy ones for trying to get her to come home, but she won`t, Garner said. I don`t believe he`ll ever come back from this. We are in mourning.

Quote, according to Garner, her sister has so far handed over about $200,000 to the group. And she`s being forced to drink a hydrogen peroxide solution and to take, quote, bio pellets to ward off COVID-19.

Drinking hydrogen peroxide and taking bio pellets to ward off COVID.

I should tell you, the QAnon JFK death cult folks are -- their next thing they`re predicting for Dallas is tomorrow. Those folks may all show themselves again tomorrow on the plaza, we`ll see.

Last month, NBC News also reported on how anti-vax folks were also telling each other that they could undo any vaccination they might have had. Sharing information online including with popular TikTok videos about how you can bathe in borax, the cleaning solution. You can put borax in your bathtub and then you get in your post ups and the blacks will -- pass they also take care of your nanotechnologies and radiation and stuff.

What else? Well, now, today, it`s apparently magic dirt. New reporting today from NBC News` Brandy Zadrozny. Quote: The social media post started in May. Photos and videos of smiling people, mostly women, drinking mason jars of black liquid, slathering black paste on their faces and feet, or dipping babies and dogs in tubs of the black water.

They tied the post hashtag BOO, B-O-O, and linked to a website that sought a product called Black Oxygen Organics. Black Oxygen Organics or BOO for short, was marketed as fulvic acid, a compound derived from decayed plants that was dug up from an Ontario peat bogs.

The website of the company that sold it billed as the end product and smallest protocol of the decomposition of ancient, organic matter. But more simply, the product is dirt, four and a half ounces of dirt, sealed in a sleek plastic bag and sold $410 and plus shipping.

Quote: Online groups are filled with true believers, acolytes, who call it magic dirt. The post that they`re drinking, cooking, soaking, snorting and slathering boo on their bodies and giving it to their families` children pets.

Who would`ve thought drinking dirt would`ve made me feel so good, one person said in a 27,000-member private Facebook group. She posted that statement alongside a photo of her face, nuzzling a jar of black liquid. Another user posting a photo of a baby, sitting in a bathtub of water colored in deep caramel.

BOO says it protects against entreats COVID-19, and can be used to detox the newly vaccinated, according to post viewed by NBC News.

Brandy Zadrozny goes on to describe the work of one online activist who noticed on Google Earth that the bog, that sourced the peat for this dirt appeared to share a border with a landfill that pushed several folks or critics of this whole movement to take matters in their own hands and sandbags of this stuff to labs for testing.

The results of three of these tests viewed by NBC News and confirmed as reliable by two soil scientists at U.S. universities showed that the door contained elevated levels of lead and arsenic. NBC also arranged for its own expert test of the dirt that a trace element of the research lab at Ohio State, that results found dangerous levels of lead and arsenic in this dirt, that people are eating and swearing all over their bodies and bathing in.

But sure, dip your baby and it, and your dog. Bake it into your brownies because you are too health conscious to take the COVID vaccine.

We are right now gearing up for a whole new fight with a whole new variant and maybe this variant will turn out to be a pussycat. Maybe I`ll turn out to be nothing. Even if it turns out to be a bad one, we do have new and better technology than we did before -- tests, and vaccines, and treatments.

But you know, it`s not all of us. I mean, here`s the head of a big TV Christian ministry this week, who hosted anti vaccine conspiracy theorist on his Christian TV network. He died, painfully, of COVID this week.

Here`s what Republican officials in Michigan. Actually, one of the two officials who actually didn`t try to block the certification of Michigan`s electoral votes after the election, when he got a call from President Trump encouraging him to do that. That Republican official in Wayne County, Michigan, was loud and proud about how the COVID and COVID vaccines were all a plot by the Democrats, just a panic everyone and still more elections. He died this week -- after a long stretch on a ventilator, terrible way to die.

We`ve got all the pieces. They are coming together. You can see the concept of how this could become something manageable. Something that we can be. Something we can get levels of transmission down low enough that this could be something that feels like history. You can see how the pieces are coming together, right? We know what we`ve got to do.

But at the same time, we`ve got, you know, Republican governor of Florida hiring the state surgeon general, one of these quack`s who`s been promoting hydroxychloroquine, and seeing masks don`t work and people don`t need a vaccine. That`s who`s the surgeon general of Florida right now, thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis.

I mean, we`ve got Facebook and TikTok and all of these other online engines circulating increasingly inseam fake cures and fake preventative`s that people are willing to put themselves in incredible danger to take, rather than getting vaccinated.

We`ve got all the pieces we need to put together and we`ve also got a part of the country that is literally eating lead and arsenic laced dirt instead, and feeding it to their kids.

They are Americans, too. They are our family members in some cases. They are members of our community. They are Americans to. There are our compatriots, they`re our responsibility, and we are theirs.

It cannot be that we give up on them. It cannot be that we ignore them. We have to try to understand them and there has to be some way to do this.

Joining us now is Brandy Zadrozny, NBC News senior reporter. She covers misinformation, extremism and the Internet.

Brandy, thanks so much for being here tonight. Thanks for this reporting.


MADDOW: So, am I supposed to call it Boo or BOO?

ZADROZNY: Boo, it`s called boo. Magic dirt. The missing miracle solution. There`s a lot of words for it, but it`s dirt.

MADDOW: How big is the movement online that is marketing this? Now it is not only as a COVID cure and COVID preventive. But the magic mistreat or even for all your other elements?

ZADROZNY: It`s tens of thousands of people that are actively in evolved and selling and producing and using it. Even after Health Canada has recalled it. Even after the FDA seized it and they had to put not for human consumption on the bag. People in these groups that are still active on Facebook are still saying yes, you can take it and you can take it in elevated doses.


And we`re just going to keep trudging along.

So, there`s really -- at some point, there`s just not much more you can do. I`ve been covering the anti-vax world for a decade. And what was great about them for so long was that they were wild and they did the same thing we`re seeing now. The borax`s old. The bleach baths are all. This is all old anti-vax stuff. But they were so small.

And now, the problem is that it`s just anti-vaccination thinking and tactics have just overwhelmed the country.

MADDOW: Is there an effort -- as you say it`s become a quantitative really significantly different things in terms of the number of people experimenting with this stuff, and the way that it`s spreading. Is there any meaningful effort, any useful effort by social media entities to try to throttle this stuff? To throttle the misinformation about it?

ZADROZNY: Yes, I mean -- yeah, they try but they don`t really speak the language. So, you can try to put out videos by the WHO or even super cool ones with a little cooler influencer, but it`s not going to work, because again, you have a group of people who have been putting their tendrils inside of their communities for a long, long time. COVID was their opportunity and they -- anti-vaxxers have all said it. They use this as an opportunity and they took it.

So, they are an insurgency. They are embedded in your PTAs, in your school boards, in your coffee groups, in your knitting circles. And that is how this message spread. So, there`s no way at this point to combat that idea or that movement. It`s just -- it`s just hard.

MADDOW: It`s hard when people are talking about Dr. Oz, who`s no running for Senate in Pennsylvania, at one point was telling people that vitamin C was the way they were going to get over COVID, right? And it`s hard when people are telling you that your Epsom salt bath is going to and vaccinate you. But taking vitamin C and taking a bath in Epsom salt isn`t going to hurt you. Smearing your baby with arsenic and lead least dirt is -- it`s harder to -- this is harder to walk away from. We have to understand it in order to even try to start to think rationally about.

Brandy, thank you for your reporting. I know you spent a lot of time and a lot of dark places to help us understand this stuff. Thanks.

ZADROZNY: Thanks, Rachel.

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



MADDOW: It was just before 10:00, 10:00 p.m. on December 6th, last year, a woman in Cobb County, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, called 911.


CALLER: I`ve been having terroristic threats. I`ve been having harassing phone calls and e-mails and they came out and made a police report yesterday. And last night about ten minutes after nine, somebody was bamming on the door. And now somebody`s bamming on the door again.

Oh, they screaming. They still bamming on the door.


CALLER: They still bamming on the door. Lord Jesus, where`s the police?

911 DISPATCHER: They are on the way, ma`am.

CALLER: Oh, God.


MADDOW: The woman on the receiving end of those threats that vitriol, that in-person intimidation was not a public figure. She is a 62-year-old retiree who ran a little boutique business selling fashion accessories.

But then President Donald Trump accused her, her personally by name, of stealing the presidential election from him in Georgia. That 911 call is featured in the latest installment of the incredible, ongoing "Reuters" series, excuse me, on threats and harassment against election officials and election workers in the wake of the 2020 election.

This latest reporting zooms in and tells the story of two specific elections workers, Ruby Freeman who is the woman you heard on the 911 call, and her daughter. Ms. Freeman`s daughter is an elections worker in Fulton County, Metro Atlanta. She asked her mom Ruby to sign up as a temp worker to process ballots on election day. The two of them worked through that day and night processing ballots at Atlanta State Farm Arena.

In the aftermath of the election as President Trump and his supporters set to work trying to overturn Biden`s win in Georgia, one of the things they did is they took a clip from the surveillance video at the State Farm arena on election night, the clip that happened to show Ruby Freeman and her daughter just doing their jobs, not doing anything wrong.

But Donald Trump and his lawyers started telling everybody that really what you could see happening in that clip if you looked at it right was you could see Ruby Freeman and her daughter stealing the election right there on that videotape. Trump lawyers showed the video to Georgia Republican legislators. They gave it to right wing news outlets. They told them what was seen in the video was these two women counting suitcases full of illegal ballots.

Mr. Sean Hannity ran with the video clip on Fox News and almost immediately a right wing website identified Ruby Freeman and her daughter by name.

President Trump himself played the video on a massive jumbotron at a post election rally in Georgia saying it showed these women committing a crime.

And then remember that insane phone call in which Trump tried to pressure Georgia`s secretary of state into finding just enough votes to overturn Biden`s win and declare him the victor? Trump used ruby freeman`s name in that call 18 times. He called her a professional vote scammer and a hustler.


She runs a fashion accessories business. She is a retiree. She came in as a temp worker, as an election worker.

After that call, the head of the elections in Fulton County said the harassment of these two women got even worse. Quote, and it just kept going.

Well, now a new lawsuit the women have filed against the right wing website that first publicly identified them. In that lawsuit, they claim at least on two occasions strangers showed up at the home of one of their relatives and tried to push into the house to make a citizens arrest. Also, on January 6th, at the same time Trump supporters were in D.C. attacking the U.S. Capitol, a crowd in suburban Atlanta was attacking Ruby Freeman`s house. They surrounded her house on foot and vehicles shouting at her through a bull horn.

By then thankfully Ms. Freeman herself had fled her house for an undisclosed location. She fled on the advice of the FBI. She did not return home for two months. Her daughter changed her appearance dramatically and avoided going out in public. Ms. Freeman closed her business.

It`s the stuff of nightmares. You`re going about your life doing your civic duty and have your whole world turned upside down because the president of the United States and his supporters have decided that you`re going to be their punching bag. You`re going to be their bogey man in this effort to create a fantasy of a stolen election so he can try to cling to power.

In the process, Fulton County, Georgia, became what "Reuters" calls, quote, a hotbed of threats against election workers. How do you operate a democracy in this atmosphere of threat? Fulton County, Georgia, is also the place where most Democrats are in the state of Georgia.

If operating an election in Fulton County is now a hotbed of threats against people running those elections how do you, I don`t know, get out the vote under those conditions? How do you get people to volunteer to work at the polls?

That is the daunting task facing Democrats, big D Democrats and small D democrats in Georgia.

If there is one person whose life experience might make her uniquely suited to taking on that task it is probably Stacey Abrams, Georgia voting rights pioneer, the woman who very nearly won Georgia`s governor race three years ago.

Stacey Abrams has just announced she is running for Georgia governor again. She`s is here live for her first national TV interview since her announcement, next. Stay with us.




STACEY ABRAMS (D), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA: Opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn`t be determined by your zip code, background, or access to power. But if our Georgia is going to move to its next and greatest chapter, we`re going to need leadership.

KID: I think you`ll make a really good governor. All you got to do is stay tough and stay brave.

ABRAMS: Thank you.

Leadership that knows how to do the job. Leadership that doesn`t take credit without also taking responsibility. Leadership that understands the true pain folks are feeling and has real plans.

That`s the job of governor. To fight for one Georgia, our Georgia. And now, it`s time to get the job done.

CROWD (chanting): Stacey! Stacey! Stacey!


MADDOW: That was part of the new campaign launch video from Stacey Abrams who`s just announced that she will mount a second bid for Georgia governor next year.

Now, Stacey Abrams narrowly -- very narrowly lost the race for governor in 2018 to the guy who holds the job now, Republican Brian Kemp.

But two years later, in 2020, Georgia helped elect a Democratic president by going blue for the first time in 28 years. Georgia also flipped two U.S. Senate seats to hand Democrats control of the United States Senate.

I mean, in Georgia, it has certainly been a team effort and one of the biggest Democratic Party electoral success stories of the century. But even though she didn`t do it alone, it is inarguably Stacey Abrams who has laid the foundation for those victories more than -- more than any other person you could say that about.

Joining us now is the newly announced Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams.

Ms. Abrams, it is a real pleasure to have you here tonight. Thank you so much for making time.

ABRAMS: Thank you for having me. It`s always a pleasure.

MADDOW: People talk about you all the time. Your ears must be constantly burning. You knew that there was a lot of speculation and a lot of discussion as to whether or not you would mount a second run for governor in Georgia or whether there was some other type of office, potentially national that you might want to run or some other way you might want to compete.

Why did you decide that you want to make a second bid for governor?

ABRAMS: Because I believe in our state. I believe that we have the capacity to be an extraordinary place for families to grow, for people to succeed and thrive, and I think we have a failed leader who is currently occupying the office.

My mission is service. And to serve people, you have to care about them. You have to care about all of them.

I`ve shown that in the three years since the last election. I`ve spent my time doing what I can to serve Georgia, whether that was expanding access to vaccines, paying off 68,000 Georgians` medical debt, getting thousands of pounds of food sent to food banks, helping families keep their incomes high by helping small business.

I`ve tried in every way possible to serve the people of Georgia. But the best way to Georgia, my estimation, is to run for governor and to take that job and do with it what we can and that is to serve every Georgian and create one Georgia.

MADDOW: When you ran in 2018, part of the reason we covered the race so intently is because the candidates are both very interesting people, present company included. But also because there was a disturbing dynamic in that race, which was that your Republican opponent who went on to win the race was secretary of state at the time and was engaged in really aggressive, what appeared to be voter suppression tactics, including throwing huge numbers of Georgians off the voting rolls in a way that seemed to benefit his own candidacy in which he was on the ballot.


When you so narrowly lost, you famously were contentious about the loss, saying that you didn`t necessarily think it had been a fair fight.

Stepping back now a few years out of that, and seeing what`s happened both in Georgia and around the country around the issues of fairness in elections, how do you feel about that now looking back at it, and how do you want people to understand how that dynamic affected the race the first time?

ABRAMS: In 2018, I had spent more than a year traveling the state, but I`d also spent 10 years, 11 years in the state legislature. And I`d been working on voting rights since I was 17. And I`d watched. In fact, I`d battled with the then-secretary of state over his egregious and aggressive voter suppression activities.

And on the night on the 16th of November when I acknowledged I would not become governor, that he had won the election, I did not challenge the outcome of the election unlike some recent folks did. What I said was that the system was not fair.

And leaders challenge systems. Leaders say we can do better. And that`s what I declared.

I could not in good conscience say that in order to protect my political future, I`m going to be silent about the political present, which is that we have a system under a leader that sought to keep people from casting their ballot, that threw those ballots out, that said that voter suppression was a viable tactic for winning elections.

I am so proud of the work that I have been able to do in the last three years. But even more, I`m proud of the work that Georgians have done to demonstrate their capacity to have their voices heard, to participate in elections, to change their stars, to change their futures.

And I could not be prouder that I was part of that, by saying on November 16th, 2018, that my time would be committed to ensuring the protection of our system, defending our democracy, and ensuring access to the right to vote.

MADDOW: Stacey, I think part of the reason that you`ve been able -- you sort of became a national figure in ways that didn`t necessarily make sense on paper but did make sense as soon as you opened your mouth, as soon as people started talking to you, is because of all those years and years and years of organizing, and particularly voting rights work that you did in Georgia, you built a record of both being absolutely committed to issues particularly like voting rights and also being very practical and getting stuff done and having results to show for your work.

I feel like at the national level right now, you are one of the only people I know who holds both of those mantles. I have work -- I have results to show for my work and I am devoted in a life long way to voting rights. I think a lot of Americans, particularly a lot of center and center-left Americans feel very hopeless about the electoral process, about voting rights, about the way the system is being rigged basically to ensure minority rule in lots and lots of different ways.

Do you feel like there is a practical way forward there? Certainly in Washington right now, it feels incredibly stuck.

ABRAMS: I actually do feel that we are making progress and, sadly, because of the dramatization of our politics, we have come to expect these high moments of achievement. But the work is hard and plodding and it takes time.

But what we have watched over the last ten months on voting rights has been a shift among those who were not standing with us, who are now standing and leading on the issue. We have seen changes made in the language to protect our voters, to protect our election workers, to protect our democracy. And we are continuing to see progress.

I am very bullish on the likelihood that the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will pass because we know that in lieu of their passage, what we saw happen across the states this year is going to be redoubled starting in January. When new state legislatures come back and may feel the fervor of the insurrection, filling their veins again, they`re going to continue to pass voter suppression legislation and Congress, especially the U.S. Senate, has to understand that action is vital.

And we`re seeing that play out with the gerrymandering. We`re seeing it play out in how election workers are under attack. And we`re re seeing it play out in the conversations about whether we have a real democracy.

But I have faith in our leaders because I have faith in our people. Americans will not stand for the fall of our nation, and I believe that we will continue to lift our voices.

But more importantly, we have seen 50 senators say it time and again, they`re going to put patriotism above partisanship. And my hope is that they will be joined -- and if they aren`t joined, then at least we will see action taken because whether or not people want it done, we know we need action to be taken.


MADDOW: Stacey Abrams, newly declared candidate for governor of Georgia, this race was a barnburner in every possible way in 2018. This year, I can guarantee it`s going to be all that and more.

Stacey, thank you so much for being here tonight. We look forward to having you back. Good luck with the campaign.

ABRAMS: Thank you. And I ask everyone to go to to learn more about our race.

MADDOW: See, now, that`s practical. Well done.


ABRAMS: Thank you, Rachel.

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

Thank you.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): President Trump continues to make the same false claims about a stolen election with which he has mislead millions of Americans. These are the same claims he knows provoked violence in the past. He has recently suggested that he wants to debate members of this committee.


This committee`s investigation into the violent assault on our Capitol on January 6th is not a game. When this committee convenes hearings, witnesses will be called to testify under oath. Any communications Mr. Trump has with this committee will be under oath. And if he persists in lying then, he will be accountable under the laws of this great nation and subject to criminal penalties for every false word he speaks.


MADDOW: The Republican vice chair of the January 6th investigation, Liz Cheney.

Any communications Mr. Trump has with this committee will be under oath. He`ll be subject to criminal penalties for every false word he speaks.

We shall see.

I will tell you the -- we told you last night that the January 6th investigation had voted to hold the former Trump justice official Jeff Clark in contempt for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. He plans to take the Fifth Amendment when deposed in the committee.

It was interesting today in the Rules Committee, which is where they need to go if they`re going to have the Justice Department bring an indictment against Mr. Clark for contempt. In the Rules Committee, they said they will hold off on making that referral to the Justice Department or not until after Clark has his deposition and has his opportunity to plead the Fifth this weekend.

We`ll tell you one other thing, though, happened add that meeting, which is not expected, also announced by Liz Cheney at that meeting. She said at that event, quote: We anticipate next year, we will be conducting multiple weeks of public hearings, setting up for the American people in vivid color exactly what happened. Multiple weeks of public hearings in the January 6th investigation next year. Multiple weeks. Really?

2022 is getting more interesting already.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.