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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 2/15/2021

Guest: Joe Neguse, Stacey Plaskett, Amanda Litman�


Interview with Representative Stacey Plaskett is the congressional delegate for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Representative Joe Neguse represents Colorado`s second congressional district, which includes Boulder and Fort Collins.


JAIME SLAUGHTER-ACEY, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, U OF MINNESOTRA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEA.LTH: -- they have access to the vaccine and information that will -- that will increase the uptick of the vaccine within those communities.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yeah, it seems like there`s -- part of a little bit of tension that I gleaned from that letter from the governors association is a little sense that maybe the federal government`s trying to kind of overshoot them to address that problem. We`re going to see how that plays out as we go forward.

Dr. Jamie Slaughter-Acey, thank you so much for spending time with us tonight. Appreciate it.

That is "ALL IN" this Monday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

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

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Presidents` Day. I hope you go the day off work today or the day off school. If you didn`t, I feel your pain.

There are just under 330 million people in the United States over the past 24 hours, more than 150 million of us, nearly half of us, have been put under some kind of winter weather advisory. Ice storm warnings, winter storm warnings, winter weather advisories. Those warnings have been issued in 25 of the 50 states.

For the first time ever in U.S. history, the entire state of Texas has been put under a winter storm warning. That`s the first time that`s ever happened. Winter storm warnings extending also to all of Arkansas and most of Louisiana and most of Mississippi and, I mean, it is one thing to have snow and ice in places like Minnesota and Massachusetts and Maine. Mississippi is another thing altogether.

It looks like all-time new record low temperatures will be set in some places in the United States today and into this week. Parts of the U.S. right now are 50 degrees colder than their average temperature for this time of year. Fifty degrees lower than what they usually are this time of year.

There has been thunder sleet, which is not a thing I knew existed, thunder sleet and thunder snow in parts of the South, including southeast Texas and Louisiana. The National Guard has been activated in multiple states including Oklahoma and Arkansas and Texas. President Biden has now declared an emergency in Texas, which clears the way for FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to start helping state and local officials in Texas.

The largest oil refinery in the country in Texas has shut down because of frigid temperatures. Both airports in Houston have been closed today and will stay so -- stay closed into tomorrow. One particularly dangerous element of this crush of frigid temperatures and snow and ice is that power utilities cannot keep up. There have been rolling blackouts in Texas and in Oklahoma and in Kansas and in Missouri, and that`s a big dangerous deal. I mean, if you heat your house with electricity and you can`t get the heat on or the lights on and the water pump in your house needs electric power too or your pipes freeze because your house is freezing now.

The lack of electricity in these places where they just can`t safely generate enough electricity to keep the lights on is a potentially deadly complication, in lots of states that are just not equipped to handle conditions like this. So we`re keeping a close watch on this tonight, but I`ll tell you, this is not your typical, oh, it`s February, so, of course, it must be cold situation. This is half of the country seeing cold they have not seen in decades. This is parts of the country seeing cold temperatures they have never, ever recorded before.

So this is a big hairy deal. We are watching developments across the country tonight. Tomorrow, of course, is Mardi gras, the last gasp of hedonism before the along weeks of lent leading up to Easter. In New Orleans this year, Mardi gras parades are canceled because of the pandemic, but even with everybody staying home, tomorrow may still break records in New Orleans as one of the coldest Mardi grass in New Orleans ever.

Today in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress will establish an independent exhibition to review the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Lieutenant General Russel Honore, of course, commanded the military relief efforts in the Gulf States after the epic disaster that was Hurricane Katrina and its botched federal response in 2005. General Honore was put in charge of coordinating the joint military response to get things back together after Katrina.

After the attack on the Capitol last month, Speaker Pelosi appointed General Honore to lead a security review of the Capitol and what happened in the lead up to the attack. Speaker Pelosi today said that General Honore`s preliminary findings point to the need for a comprehensive independent nonpartisan commission to review the events surrounding the attack.

That type of investigation is, of course, what we had from the 9/11 Commission after the September 11th attacks in 2001. The bipartisan chairman of the 9/11 Commission actually also both came forward after last month`s attack on the Capitol and said from their experience on the 9/11 commission, what happened on January 6th at the Capitol is exactly the kind of event that would benefit from that type of comprehensive authoritative investigation that they did on the 9/11 Commission.

And so, we are going to have one of those. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing that a commission along the lines of the 9/11 Commission will now look at January 6th. That said, the record of what happened, particularly the record of the president`s personal culpability for what happened is a public record already that frankly was very well-developed by the impeachment trial, which ended this weekend in the Senate in the most lopsided, most bipartisan impeachment vote against any president ever. Seven Republican senators siding with all 50 Democratic senators to produce a 57-43 vote to convict former President Donald Trump.

Now, 57 votes out of 100 is a clear majority, and, again, that`s the largest vote ever against a president in an impeachment trial, but 57 votes is well short of the two-thirds majority needed to actually convict under the Constitution`s provisions for impeachment.

Some of the Republican senators who voted against convicting Trump somewhat oddly, I don`t know, somewhat -- in a somewhat contradictory or awkward way chose to pair their vote to acquit Trump with scathing statements about how convinced they were of Trump`s guilt and how, really, someone, anyone, anyone but them ought to really hold Trump accountable for these terrible things that he is guilty of.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, for example, voting to acquit former President Trump, and then releasing a statement saying, quote, what president Trump did that day was inexcusable, quote, in his speech he encouraged the mob. Quote, his slow response as the mob stormed the U.S. Capitol put at risk the safety of Vice President Pence, law enforcement officers and others who work in the Capitol, even after the attack some of the language in Trump`s tweet and the video showed sympathy for the violent mob.

This is statement from Rob Portman, right, sounding like it`s a statement in support of his vote to convict, right? He`s saying Trump is definitely guilty, but this is actually the statement he put out it to explain his vote to acquit him. He released this statement about how guilty Trump is in all these different ways, but that interestingly, he actually concludes that statement by saying he thinks Trump should be criminally charged.

Rob Portman this weekend, quote, the Constitution makes clear that former presidents are subject to the criminal justice system. That is where the issues raised by the president`s inexcusable actions and words must be addressed. The criminal justice system must be employed to address Trump`s inexcusable behavior and his culpability for the violent attack on the Capitol, says Senator Rob Portman. Raise your hand that you think that if the Justice Department brought federal criminal charges against President Trump for what he did on January 6th, Senator Rob Portman would remember that he said this and stand loud and proud in support of the arrest and imprisonment of President Trump. Raise your hand if he`d stick to this if the Justice Department actually did bring those charges.

But that is what Senator Portman argued while also voting to acquit President Trump, and of course, he wasn`t the only one.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There`s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president, and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.

The issue is not only the president`s intemperate language on January 6th. It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged, quote, trial by combat. It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe, the increasingly wild myths, myths about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen in some secret coup by our now president. Anyone who decries his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voters.

That`s an absurd deflection. Seventy-four million Americans did not invade the Capitol. Hundreds of rioters did. Seventy-four million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it, one person did. Just one.

President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office. As an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office. He didn`t get away with anything yet. Yet.

We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation, and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.


MADDOW: He didn`t get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country, civil litigation, former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.

I wonder what it must feel like to have prosecuted the case so well, you`re getting congratulations and thanks from the people who agreed with you already, the people on your own side, the people who voted with you. But to have prosecuted the case so well that even the people who voted to acquit the guy immediately come out and said, wow, for sure, this guy is definitely guilty. He should definitely be criminally charged he`s so guilty.

What`s it mean to have prosecuted the case so well that even the people who voted to acquit the defendant said dude is definitely some -- he did it. And he needs to be held accountable. I mean, that is what just happened to the nine House impeachment managers. They argued their case so well, they laid out the evidence so completely and so effectively that the senators who voted to acquit are saying that Trump`s guilty and has been proven so.

It must be amazing to be an impeachment manager seeing that as the response to what you did, including two of the impeachment managers who by virtue of their performance as impeachment managers have just become two of the most recognizable and right now, frankly, most admired Democrats of their political generation. Two of the impeachment managers in particular had their national profiles this week go zero to a hundred in less than a week`s time.


REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: On January 6th, the peaceful transition of power was violently interrupted when a mob stormed this Capitol and desecrated this chamber. As you`ll see during the course of this trial, that mob was summoned, assembled, and incited by the former president of the United States, Donald Trump.

DEL. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: President Trump had spent months calling his supporters to a march on a specific day at a specific time in specific places to stop the certification. Some of you have said there`s no way the president could have known how violent the mob would be. That is false because the violence, it was foreseeable.

Donald Trump knew the people he was inciting, he saw the violence that they were capable of, and he had a pattern and practice of praising and encouraging that violence never, ever condemning it. This was months of cultivating a base of people who were violent, praising that violence, and then leading that violence, that rage, straight at our door.

NEGUSE: They confirm they were following the president`s orders. You can see some of the statements on that screen.

One who said Trump wants all able-bodied patriots.

Another, that President Trump is calling us to fight. This isn`t a joke.

Another one, I thought I was following my president. I thought I was following what we were called to do. Our president wants us here. We wait and take orders from the president.

He made them believe over many weeks that the election was stolen and they were following his command to take back their country.

PLASKETT: Vice President Pence was threatened with death by the president`s supporters because he rejected President Trump`s demand that he overturn the election. The chilling evidence shows that on January 6th, armed and organized insurrectionists trained their sights on Speaker Pelosi. They sought out the speaker on the floor and in her office publicly declared their intent to harm or kill her, ransacked her office and terrorized her staff. And they did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission.

NEGUSE: Would our Framers have considered a president inciting a violent mob to attack our government while seeking to stop the certification of our elections? Would they have considered that impeachable offense? Who among us, who among us really thinks the answer to that question is no?


MADDOW: Representative Stacey Plaskett is the congressional delegate for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Representative Joe Neguse represents Colorado`s second congressional district, which includes Boulder and Fort Collins.

Joining us now for the interview, I`m very pleased to say, are Impeachment Managers Stacey Plaskett and Joe Neguse.

I very, very rarely ever bring on two people at the same time for an interview, but I am so grateful to have you both here tonight. I broke my own rule. I`m really grateful you`re both able to be here.

DEL. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Thanks for having us. I`m so glad to be with you.

And so good to hear your voice, Joe, as well.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Thanks, Rachel. Good to be with you.

MADDOW: Congressman Neguse, let me -- let me start with you. With a day now to absorb what happened, the votes, the statements from senators who voted to acquit, nevertheless saying the president was definitely proven guilty. I hope you both have had a chance to get a night`s sleep since this all resolved.

Let me ask you, starting with you, Congressman Neguse, whether you did what you came to do, whether this outcome was with worth it or whether you are left with a sense of disappointment and work yet to be done?

NEGUSE: Well, look, Rachel, we had hoped to secure a conviction. That was the goal and we had clarity of purpose on our team with wonderful talented managers like my colleague, Representative -- Delegate Plaskett and so many others.

But look, at the end of the day, we did our part. I`m proud of the work that we did to vindicate our Constitution. And as you said, it culminated in the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the history of our republic with respect to presidential impeachments.

What makes the statement that you played at the top of the hour of the minority leader, Senator McConnell, so remarkable is it largely emulates the case that we presented. It is clear that a majority of the United States Senate and perhaps even more senators than that agreed that we proved our case that there was sufficient evidence to convict the president.

The fact that they -- or at least a few of them rather -- voted to acquit the president on jurisdictional grounds was so disappointing because as you know, that was an issue that we had resolved early on, on the first day during the trial. We had argued that issue with respect to the constitutional basis for proceeding with the impeachment, and for a body that purports to rely so much on precedent, the fact that so many senators like the minority leader would disregard the precedent of both prior impeachments as well as the fact this was a settled issue during the case was obviously disappointing. But no, I`m proud of the work that we did.

MADDOW: Congresswoman Plaskett, let me put the same -- same question to you. Having had a little time to absorb this now, how do you feel about the job that was set before you and the outcome for its pluses and its minuses?

PLASKETT: Well, of course, you`re disappointed at a loss, everyone -- no one wants to lose, particularly when the stakes are so high. And what you`re fighting for is your republic, your union, your Constitution, and your democracy.

But I think in many ways, we won. Although the outcome and the vote was heartbreaking in itself, we won because, in fact, as Joe said, Congressman Neguse said, a majority of the Senate voted in our favor.

And we also won because I believe that the information that we put out there, the clear and overwhelming evidence that we showed will, in fact, vindicate us in history that this was the most corrupt president in our history. This was a man bent on retaining power for himself at any cost, even the cost of our republic. So, in that respect, there is some vindication.

And I think all of us, as Joe said, had clarity of mind. All of us really felt that we were doing our duty. We were serving our country by being a manager in that instance, that we were -- had a call to arms, and we were, in fact, in a battle to maintain the union.

MADDOW: Congresswoman Plaskett, let me ask you about this case that we heard from -- interestingly, Senator McConnell, Senator Portman, both of whom voted to acquit. We also heard it from one of the president`s defense lawyers that the way this ought to be litigated, this sort of record that you are talking about, building this case with the American people, the way this ought to be literally litigated is in a criminal case, that there ought to be criminal charges brought here. And that`s the way the president should be held liable.

Obviously, it isn`t an either/or thing. There`s no connection between an impeachment and whether or not criminal charges are brought. But in building this record and laying out this case, do you feel that criminal charges would be appropriate and the evidence that you helped develop might help make that case?

PLASKETT: Well, I would never tell another prosecutor how to or what charges or if they should bring a case to bear. But, you know, I say God bless the attorney general of Fulton County in Georgia, as well as the attorney general of New York, and even the District of Columbia, which I believe is investigating potential charges as well for the incitement of the riot.

They have their work cut out, and I believe, you know, we will be as helpful as we can in their own process. But you know, going back to them outlining that there should be criminal charges, you and I know that that is just an excuse for them to abdicate their own responsibility, for them to retain their seats. They`re so caught up in maintaining power for self rather than upholding their constitutional duty and putting the country above power and above their place in the Senate. It was just so sad.

MADDOW: Congressman Neguse, let me ask you to weigh in on that same matter. Of course, if this is a pursued as a criminal matter, one of the elements of the impeachment article as you know was related to the president`s effort to pressure officials in Georgia. That is now under investigation by state prosecutors in Georgia. We know about other potential criminal liability. We know from reporting last week that the president is concerned about that.

Is the president right to be concerned about that? Did you, in fact, help develop an evidentiary record that might be relevant to those proceedings?

NEGUSE: I`ll let others be the judge of that. I mean, I`d defer to the prosecutors at the Department Justice and the various other local jurisdictions that you mentioned and don`t know that I would necessarily opine on any investigations they`re conducting.

I would just simply say that the argument that Leader McConnell and so many others made with respect to criminal process as well as civil litigation is just not a cogent argument. I mean, those are not mutually exclusive to the impeachment power. The impeachment process is unique under our Constitution. The framers designed it to hold presidents accountable because presidents in the United States have extraordinary powers that can do great harm if they are abused.

And so, the Congress has a responsibility to live up to its obligations under Article 1 and hold the president accountable when they, in fact, violated the oath that they -- that he or she has taken. So -- and ultimately, we did that in terms of proceeding with the case that we made before the United States Senate.

And I will also just say, I hope it`s not lost on the American people. I certainly draw hope and optimism from the fact that there were seven Republican senators, seven Republican senators who chose country over party, who did the right thing, who vindicated our Constitution, stood up for our country when they were needed the most, and I am grateful to each and every one of those senators, people like Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney who, again, I thought made a courageous decision in terms of looking at the evidence in an impartial way, an objective way, considering the case that we had presented and ultimately reaching the same conclusion that we had, that the president was guilty of the constitutional offense for which he was charged.

MADDOW: I`m going to ask you both in just a minute about this -- the issue of -- and the drama that we all witnessed on Saturday around the issue of witnesses. Before we get there, though, I did have one other question that I don`t know if anybody`s asked any of you impeachment managers, and it may be a question out of ignorance, so forgive me if it is.

But as far as I understand procedure in this part of the impeachment process, the Senate is setting the rules for the trial, the Senate could really set almost any rules that it wants in terms of how the impeachment was going to be conducted.

So to the point that you both discussed there about the courage or lack thereof among Republican senators to cast their vote and actually consider the evidence, their own political futures -- did you guys ever consider asking for the Senate trial to be judged by a secret ballot, for the senators to cast their vote to acquit or convict without putting their name on it? Was that a content -- was that -- is that within the realm of possibility?

NEGUSE: You know, yeah -- so the answer, Rachel, happy to defer to Delegate Plaskett as well. But the short of it is you are right, the Senate has plenary jurisdiction to decide the rules of the road so to speak with respect to impeachments.

Typically, it`s done through an organizing resolution. The organizing resolution in this case largely was modeled after the Clinton impeachment of 1999. Of course, the 1868 impeachment of Andrew Johnson was unique and over 150 years ago. There`s never been a secret ballot. Certainly, the Senate could have proceeded down that course if they chose to. There were certainly some discussions in that regard, but ultimately, the Senate made the decision to model the organizing resolution after the rules that were adopted in 1999.


PLASKETT: Right, and I would just say to add to that, of course, that`s a negotiation that goes on between the -- in the Senate, among the senators. And while we can give ideas, that`s for them ultimately to decide. And because of following precedent usually the Senate does, I don`t think that a secret ballot would have been something they would have put forward, although it would have made it a much more interesting conviction I`m sure.

MADDOW: Yeah, it definitely would have changed the final numbers. I can guarantee you that.

I`m going to ask you both to stick with us if you don`t mind. There is so much curiosity and interest about this issue about witnesses and potential witness testimony. If you don`t mind, we`re going to take a quick break, and we`ll come back on the other side and we`ll talk about.

We`re joined tonight by Impeachment Managers Stacey Plaskett and Joe Neguse.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Back with us now are two of the House impeachment managers who prosecuted the case in the Senate trial of President Trump, which ended this weekend in the most lopsided, most bipartisan vote against a U.S. president ever. They did not get a conviction. They did get a historic rebuke.

Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands, and Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado -- thank you both again for being here. It`s a real honor to have this time with you.

Congresswoman Plaskett, let me ask you about what we saw a little bit in public on Saturday, what appeared to be a last-minute drama about the question of calling witnesses.

Can you just describe in your own words, just let us know what happened there and what was happening behind the scenes among you impeachment managers in terms of making these decisions?

PLASKETT: Sure. As you saw prior to Saturday, the prosecution had made what we believed to be an overwhelming, clear case against the president, laying out witnesses, giving eyewitness testimony, videos, and a slew of information that outlined the case as we saw it and proved the article of impeachment. Defense counsel made their attempt at a defense for the president, and then based upon the rules that have been outlined by the Senate, there was the ability to call -- have a motion for witnesses.

The night before on Friday evening, we found out that one of our colleagues, Jaime Herrera Beutler, had made a statement about a conversation she had with Kevin McCarthy which went to the state of the mind of the president during the time of the riot while it was ensuing.

We felt that this was important to collaborate and to bolster the argument that we had already made. And so, we used the opportunity for the motion to ask for witnesses, and then once that was granted, to ask for the statement of our colleague, Jaime Herrera Beutler.

At the same time, defense counsel decided that they would make a motion for, you know, 100 witnesses at the time. We negotiated and were able to get her statement in the record not only as a written statement but to read it out loud to the Senate. And we believe that just further bolstered the case that we had already made, and at that point we rested and did our closing argument.

I know that so many people felt that, you know, maybe if we had more witnesses, it could have changed more senators, but I think as you`re seeing these statements come out of those 43 individuals, we know that there was no additional witness that was going to change their mind.

You know, there was concern about making sure that we didn`t lose those seven additional members that we had or any others of the 57 and recognizing also that it`s not as people think that you call for a witness and that individual comes in, raises their hand, and makes their statement right there on the floor. This then goes to subpoenaing to depositions, those depositions where defense counsel also deposes the individual, then gets put onto the floor for the Senate.

So we felt that we had made our case overwhelmingly, was able to get in the additional statement and rested our case. And I think the impeachment managers, Joe Neguse, Jamie Raskin, Madeleine Dean, Dave Cicilline made a tremendous closing argument at the end of the case.

MADDOW: And, Congressman Neguse, I have to say when that threat came from the president`s defense counsel, I`m going to want at least over 100 depositions, while that was a sort of counterproposal from the defense team, that can`t -- that can`t have sort of instilled too much fear in your side. It felt like sort of an empty threat to me. It also felt like something that would be just as hard for them to handle as it would be for you to handle.

ABC News, in fact, reported that when the witness motion pass that had there could be witnesses, the president`s defense team was, quote, stunned, stupefied and in total panic because they were -- their legal team was falling apart. They were hanging by a thread. They were terrified if the trial went on any longer than Saturday all the lawyers might quit.

It seems to me you can`t have been too afraid of what they were going to do in response to you calling up witnesses if that`s what you decided you want wanted to do.

NEGUSE: No. I mean, look, there was no indication that the Senate would approve that kind of outlandish request for hundreds of witnesses. At the end of the day, I agree with Delegate Plaskett in terms of the chronology that she outlined and the reasoning that ultimately the managers with counsel and staff reached with respect to the decision that was made regarding witnesses.

I thought the stipulation was critically important in terms of getting the president`s counsel to agree that the statement of our colleague, Congresswoman Herrera Beutler would be read into the evidentiary record, and obviously, the American people were able to hear that statement as well.

I also just think it`s important, Rachel, to consider the balancing of the equities, which was fairly complex that obviously the team had to consider.

You know, I`ve been on your program before to discuss, as you`ll recall, the investigations that you covered extensively of the president. For example, during the Mueller investigation, and the fact that the subpoenas that were issued by the judiciary committee on which I serve are still being litigated to this day. The subpoena for Don McGahn`s testimony, for example, is still a live matter.

So, it was fairly clear to us that any witnesses that might have some prohibitive evidence to share could very well end occupy tying the impeachment and litigation for months, perhaps years, as had been the case, as you know, in prior investigations that had been conducted by the Congress.

So I thought as Delegate Plaskett articulated that at the end of the day, it`s very clear reading the statements that were made by several senators, that they all -- the vast majority of them rather came to the same conclusion we did which was that the evidence was overwhelming. They decided nonetheless to acquit him on a technicality, a jurisdictional ground which had already been decided by the Senate on the first day of the trial.

PLASKETT: Although, Rachel, the thought of cross examining Kevin McCarthy just filled my heart with glee.


MADDOW: You know, I will ask you along those lines. "The Washington Post" reported that you all considered reaching out to -- or you did reach out to people around the vice president about potentially reaching him as a witness, asking him to testify. Did that also fill your heart with glee, the possibility of actually getting to speak directly to the vice president about these matters?

PLASKETT: Well, I have to tell you, what did not -- what was more important than filling my heart with glee was the sense of mystification that the vice president who had a target on his back, who the president of the United States sent a mob to assassinate still has not made a statement with regard to what happened on January 6th and the involvement of Donald Trump and what that meant and the possibility of what could have happened to our democracy on that day.

That is mystifying to me and just so sad on the part of so many individuals who have not stood up to this day for our democracy and what it means.

MADDOW: House impeachment managers --

NEGUSE: Juxtaposed, you know, Rachel, and Delegate Plaskett is totally right --


MADDOW: Sorry, go ahead.

NEGUSE: -- but it`s juxtaposed against the bravery of someone like Congresswoman Herrera Beutler --

PLASKETT: Exactly.

NEGUSE: -- a Republican congresswoman who chose to speak publicly and speak truth to power with respect to sharing her stories. So, those are the stories that I hope the American people remember.

MADDOW: House Impeachment Managers Joe Neguse of Colorado and Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands -- thank you so much for being here tonight. I do hope that you guys get a little bit of down time after the ringer that you have been through over the last week. Thanks for helping us understand things from your perspective. I really appreciate it.

PLASKETT: Thanks so much for having us.

NEGUSE: Thanks, Rachel.

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


MADDOW: In 2017, almost one year to the date from when Donald Trump was first elected president, Virginia had their governor`s race, November 2017, and a Democrat, Ralph Northam, won that Virginia governor`s race by the largest margin of any Democrat in Virginia in decades, and Democrats did well all over the state that year. They ended up flipping 15 House seats, statehouse seats in Virginia in that election. That paved the way for them to take control of the whole state legislature just two years later -- Democratic control in Virginia for the first time in over two decades.

But in that historic 2017 Virginia election, there was one fairly new political group, a group that was started by a group of young staffers who`d worked on Hillary Clinton`s 2016 presidential campaign, and that new group backed a whole bunch of the Democrats who ended up flipping districts red to blue in the statehouse, which changed so much in Virginia. The Democrats they backed included Danica Roem, who became the first openly transgender state legislator in the country.

That group that was so effective in flipping Virginia blue in 2017, they had a simple name and a simple message. They were called Run for Something.

Are you idealistic, impassioned, capable, fed up, but you`ve never held political office? Consider wanting to do something personally yourself to make a change? Have no idea where to start? No problem. Run for something wants you to do just that. Run for something. They`ll help you do it. They`ll help you figure out how to do it.

In 2017, run for something had over a 40 percent success rate in getting their first time candidates elected to office in state races but also local races across the country. It`s been remarkably cost effective, remarkably just plain effective. And ever since then, Run for Something has been recruiting and supporting thousands of young progressive candidates across the country, all people who have never held office before but who want to get into public service now to do something for their country.

To date, run for something has helped elect nearly 500 people to political office all across the country, and now, they have their eye on a select and unique group of Republicans. They are encouraging young, first-time candidates to run against. This is one of the most unique and interesting potential consequences of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that I have seen anybody try to put together.

We`ll be joined by someone from Run for Something next, you are going to want to see this.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: This is a sort of stunning headline today. According to a tally from "Huffington Post," the president on January 6th at the Stop the Steal rally in Washington that ultimately turned into the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, present that day among the QAnon cultists and the militias and the right-wing proto-fascist street gangs were at least 57 state and local elected Republican officials, 57 of them.

And among those 57 were some that actually took part in physically storming the Capitol and they`re now facing charges for it. But there were 57 elected Republicans in the crowd that day? In the mob?

The group, Run for Something, which helps progressive first-time candidates put together winning state and local campaigns, run for something is now asking you, potentially, to do something about that and about what happened on January 6th. The organization`s co-founder announced this today.

Quote: Sixteen Republican members of statehouses, four state senators, six county commissioners, seven city council members, two mayors, three school board members, two prosecutors and more all attended the January 6th insurrection. If you run against any of them, the group Run for Something will help you.

Joining us now is Amanda Litman, co-founder and executive director of Run for Something.

Ms. Litman, it`s nice of you to make time to be here tonight. Thanks very much.

AMANDA LITMAN, "RUN FOR SOMETHING" CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: I am thrilled to talk about this, so thanks for having me.

MADDOW: So tell me about this -- tell me about the basic idea. Obviously, Run for Something has been trying to turn people`s idealism and agita about the state of the country into a personal cause for people who can be first- time candidates. But in this case, you`re identifying a specific type, a specific class of Republicans, against whom you want to recruit new candidates.

LITMAN: Well, run for something got started after the 2016 election as you said in your intro, and as of today have identified more than 72,000 young people all across the country who`ve said they want to run. And the coolest part about that is that January 2021 was our best recruitment month yet.

The day of the insurrection, the day of January 6th, we saw thousands of young people say, that`s not what my leadership looks like, that is not what my democracy looks like and find a forum for office.

So we`re looking at all of those races and the hundreds more with our Republican elected officials who facilitated the big lie, who encouraged people to show up at their state capitol or in D.C., and to make sure that they are not running uncontested and that there`s a strong, fierce, advocate, young progressive running against them.

MADDOW: So, if you are a person who has contacted run for something, you live in Nevada, you live in Colorado, or you live in Idaho, and one of your local officials there is somebody who`s been implicated in what you just described in what happened on January 6th, the lie surrounding it and all of the radicalism around that, somebody from one of those states contacts you and says my local councilman, my mayor here, is one of the bad guys here and I want to oust them, what kind of help do you give them? How do you help them figure out if they`re the right person to run, and if they are, how your organization can lend assistance?

LITMAN: If that person goes to, signs up, fills out their information, they`ll get invited to a conference call. We`ll help coach them through, from there, every step of the process -- how do you get on the ballot, what do you do once you`re on the ballot, how do you get endorsements you need, whether from unions or state parties, how do you build a campaign that can win?

And we will connect them with other young candidates we worked with across the country. Our alumni network is now nearly 1,500 people in every state, predominantly women, predominantly people of color who have been through this before. We endorse candidates. We get money where we can, we help find volunteers. We do everything a local candidate needs in order to succeed.

MADDOW: You said that you`ve had your biggest recruitment time ever. More people expressing interest in Run for Something, Run for What, since the insurrection happened. Do you anticipate that`s going to change either your overall capacity or your overall mission in terms of how you approach this work?

LITMAN: It doesn`t change our mission. The only thing that it changes is how much our staff has to do to reach every person who signed up with us. The best thing you can do if you want to help is contribute.

We`re working off of a really small budget. I think it`s worth noting that part of the reason the GOP is what it is right now is a 40-plus-year long- term sustained investment in local governments trying to facilitate these kinds of candidates running and winning. We are barely punching at the same level.

So we`re going to try to do everything we can for the more than 10,000 people who signed up since Election Day 2020 but every dollar folks can contribute online.

MADDOW: Amanda Litman, co-founder and executive director of Run for Something -- fascinating discussion, fascinating concept. Thanks for being here to help us understand it.

LITMAN: Thanks for asking me.

MADDOW: All right. More to come. Stay with us.


MADDOW: As I mentioned at the top of the show, tomorrow`s Mardi gras. This time last year, Mardi gras coincided with the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic, but New Orleans still did Mardi gras the traditional way. Streets thronged with crowds. Crews hosting parades.

The party in New Orleans for Mardi gras this time last year did not help matters when it came to the coronavirus seeding itself in the U.S. population. Needless to say this year everything else is -- everything`s different. No crowds, no parades. And the masks are not the fun kind this year.

But it`s still Mardi gras and it is still New Orleans no matter what. And this year, people in New Orleans have been channeling their creativity into among other things decorating houses as if they with parade floats.

Here`s one with giant crawfish, giant okra, and a little tiny Bernie Sanders?

Here`s one paying homage to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

This house by the aptly named craw de tat, craw de tat, get it? Needs no other explanation.

And this house titled Georgia on My Mind features portraits of Stacey Abrams, John Lewis and Shirley Chisholm and two new Democratic senators elected in Georgia in January.

This house features an image of Dolly Parton holding a syringe of vaccine. God bless her.

God bless you, New Orleans, nothing can keep you down. And you never know, next year could be Mardi gras like we`ve always known it. Could be.

That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.