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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 2/4/2021

Guest: Fred Guttenberg, Chris Murphy�


The House voted to remove Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from

her committees. President Joe Biden criticized Russia in his first State

Department visit. Interview with Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of

Connecticut, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): The number one thing he can do to help close

the black/white wealth gap, is cancel $50,000 worth of student loan debt.

It would be transformative for families and transformative for this nation.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Senator Elizabeth Warren of the state of

Massachusetts, thank you so much for making time tonight.

WARREN: Ah, thank you for having me.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Thursday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much


And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Some very exciting news today. The former vice president has a job. Not the

former former vice president who`s now president, no, I mean the immediate

former Vice President Mike Pence. The Heritage Foundation has announced

that former vice president Mike Pence is going to go work there. They said

today, quote: The Heritage Foundation announced today that former Vice

President Mike Pence will join the organization as a distinguished visiting


What exactly is that job? What exactly is he going to do there? It`s kind

of beside the point.

But Heritage is very excited to have him. Working together with the former

vice president, heritage will continue to support and defend our policy

accomplishments while also fighting back against a socialist agenda pushed

by those on the left.

That`s what Mike Pence is going to be doing. He`s going to be fighting

socialists. Full timish, on a visiting basis. Congratulations, Mr. Pence.

Here`s an unexpectedly awkward thing, though. The Heritage Foundation in

this announcement today repeatedly describes their new hire as the former

vice president and, indeed, Mr. Pence yesterday unveiled new letterhead

proclaiming that he has opened an office now which he is calling the office

of the former vice president. The reason that is surprisingly awkward right

now is that no matter what he does with his post-White House life, it is

going to be hard for former vice president to Mike Pence to assert that he

ever served in the administration of former President Donald Trump because

apparently we`re not supposed to admit there is such a thing as former

President Donald Trump.

Mike Pence, so far, is happy to call himself the former V.P. Donald Trump

is not calling himself the former president. And it`s not just with the

name of the office. There were two statements released today by -- by Mr.

Trump, awkward about what to call him. One was actually a real laugh out

loud statement, I`m sorry to say, I did actually laugh out loud today.

But in which he signed a letter announcing that he was quitting the actors

union, SAG AFTRA, because they`re about to strip his membership from him

because he incited a violent insurrection against the U.S. capitol. His

letter resigning before they could fire him is -- this is a real thing.

I write to you today regarding the so-called disciplinary committee hearing

aimed at revoking my union membership. Who cares!

He really says that.

While I`m not familiar with your work, I`m very proud of my work on movies

such as "Home Alone 2."

And it goes on from there. This letter is to inform you of my immediate

resignation from SAG-AFTRA. You have done nothing for me.

He sent that on letterhead under the presidential seal. Seriously.

It`s worth noting that SAG-AFTRA, the union, sent back to this letter a

two-word response. What they said, their response, was two words, it said,

"thank you", which made me laugh out loud again.

That was one statement from him today. Second statement from him today was

a letter from his lawyers, his defense lawyers in the impeachment trial,

declining a demand that Mr. Trump testify under oath at his impeachment

trial next week. In the letter, Mr. Trump`s lawyers bend over backwards to

describe him in this very specific way.

Quote: Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone, you cannot

prove your allegations against the 45th president of the United States. And

then they sign it, Bruce Castor and David Schoen attorneys to the 45th


Now, it is technically accurate, of course, to call Donald Trump the 45th

president but it`s just as accurate to call him the former president.

Apparently, though, that is something that can never be said, at least not

in front of him.

Today, his spokesmen for his post-presidential office said on Newsmax TV,

quote, I do not expect the 45th president to be in Washington next week.

You mean the former president? No, no, no, that cannot be said.

I`ve been sort of picking at this for a few days now, but it is now going

on for long enough and it is insistently consistent enough that this is

worth noticing. In part because Mr. Trump really does appear to be

insisting on this and that could get very weird very quickly. I mean, the

very first statement he put out from his 45th president`s office at the

beginning of the week had this as the headline.

The headline said, 45th President Donald J. Trump announces his legal team.

Statement was four paragraphs long. In those four paragraphs, it kept

repeating that exact same un-gamely phrase. The first line, 45th president

Donald J. Trump today announced, then quotes one of his lawyers saying,

it`s an honor to represent the 45th president, then it quotes the other

lawyer saying, I consider it a privilege to represent the 45th president.

It`s the same thing in his lawyers` formal written response to the

impeachment charges levied against him, repeatedly and insistently calling

him the 45th president, even when it tortures the grammar and makes

everything impossible to read and makes the sentences not work, but

apparently they have to insist insistently call him this because they can

never call him the former president of the United States. I think it is

possible, and I think we should start getting our heads around the

prospect, that Donald Trump doesn`t think of himself as the former

president. He is not allowing anybody around him to use that phrase about


Does that mean he thinks he`s still president?

He used to call Mar-a-Lago the southern White House, which was weird for

all sorts of reasons, but maybe that`s what he thinks it is?

In the impeachment response from his lawyers, the lawyers claim that it was

not necessarily a false statement when on January 6th, Trump told the mob

that would attack the capitol that day that he had won the election in a

landslide. They are contending in their written defense to the impeachment

that that is a false statement. They describe the election results as

contested and say it`s not necessarily false that he won in a landslide

when he said that. Maybe that was true.

I think we`re underestimating the potential for crazy here. I mean,

Republicans right now are heading into the impeachment trial which starts

at the beginning of next week and they think that they are mounting a

defense against the conviction of Donald Trump on the technical grounds

that the Senate shouldn`t even be holding an impeachment trial for him

because he`s not president anymore, because he`s a former president.

I`m here to tell you, dude does not agree that he is a former president.

And he is not allowing anyone to describe him that way. If that`s the

trapdoor they`re going to use to try to get him out of a Senate impeachment

conviction, he`s going to fight it. He insists he cannot be called a former

president. He must be called the 45th president. He`s still using the

presidential seal.

There`s no sign that he concedes that there`s now a 46th president so he`s

an ex. I mean, how many ticks are we away from him claiming that he is

still in office, that he still has the powers of the presidency? That he`s

rightfully still president?

I mean, I would love to hear him cross examined on this subject in a Senate

trial, say, perhaps by lead impeachment manager and distinguished

constitutional law professor Jamie Raskin. I would pay good money to see


But Mr. Trump`s lawyers today said no. They said, no, the 45th president

will not testify in Washington next week. Heads up that there`s no reason

they couldn`t subpoena Trump to testify. I mean, on his behalf, his lawyers

are denying factual claims in the charge against him. Somebody should have

to back up those disputations of fact under oath. We shall see.

Honestly, I think if you asked Mr. Trump directly, he would love to

testify. Nobody listens to him anymore. He has no outlet. He doesn`t have a

social media platform. He doesn`t have anybody meeting with him. He doesn`t

have anybody taking his calls as far as we can tell.

I mean, he insists that he hasn`t really left office and he`s not a former

president and nobody`s listening to him and the Democratic House

impeachment managers are now demanding that he come to Washington and

explain the events of January 6th. Don`t you think he`s desperate to do


Oh, please, let the man speak under oath. I don`t know what would happen if

they subpoenaed him. It would be a new test for our country, but that`s not

in anything new during the Trump era. We shall see. Trial begins next week.

I`m not sure if Capitol Hill Republicans have noticed yet that they are all

planning to vote to acquit him at his trial on the basis of the technical

fact that he`s out of office while the defendant, himself, doesn`t agree

and doesn`t accede to that technical fact. I don`t know if they`ve noticed

that train coming down the tunnel yet.

But you can forgive them for their attention being divided. They`ve had

their own problems to mishandle over the course of this week.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think it would be helpful if you could hear

exactly what she told all us, denouncing QAnon. I don`t know if I say it

right, I don`t even know what it is. From the shootings, she said she knew

nothing about lasers or all the different things that have been brought up

about her.


MADDOW: She knew nothing about the lasers.

The leader of the Republicans in the House, Kevin McCarthy, trying to

convince everybody in Congress that Republican Congresswoman Marjorie

Taylor Greene of Georgia has essentially been falsely accused. He says that

she told him in a private meeting, looked him in the eye and told him that

a lot of the things that have been brought up about her, she doesn`t know

anything about them. The lasers thing.

He says, she told him, she assured him, quote, she knew nothing about the

lasers. Here in her own words is Congresswoman Greene on the lasers from

her Facebook post.

Quote: There are too many coincidences to ignore. I find it very

interesting that Roger Kimmel on the board of directors of PG&E is also

vice chairman of Rothschild Inc. What a coincidence it must be Governor

Brown signed a bill protecting PG&E, and allowing them to pass off the cost

of fire responsibility to its customers. It must also be a coincidence the

fires are burned in the same projected areas the high-speed rail project is

to be built. What are the odds that Feinstein`s husband, Richard Bloom, is

the contractor to the rail project?

Then oddly, there are all these people who said they saw lasers or blue

beams of light causing fires and pictures and videos. Solar space

generators collect the sun`s energy and beam it back to earth. If they`re

beaming the sun`s energy back to earth, I`m sure they never would miss a

transmitter receiving stationing right??!!

What would that like, anyway? A laser beam or light beam coming down to

earth. I guess. Could that cause a fire? Hmm.

That`s her in her own words on the lasers. She told Kevin McCarthy she knew

nothing about the lasers. Her contention is the Jews are amazing with the

space lasers to start the fires as a false pretense to help the other Jews

with their conniving plots which she told Kevin McCarthy she knew nothing

about the lasers. Kevin McCarthy says he looked her in the eye and told her


Her post there is from November 2018. That matters because today on the

floor of Congress, right before all the Democrats and 11 of her fellow

Republicans voted to strip her from all her committee assignments,

Congresswoman Greene gave a speech saying that by then, by late 2018, she

was done with all that conspiracy stuff. I mean, that was from her Facebook

page in late November 2018. Her fulminating about the Rothchilds, and

Feinstein, and Bloom, and the space beams that caused the forest fires.

Today in the floor of the House, she said by that time, by late 2018, she`d

actually put all the conspiracy stuff behind her.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Later in 2018, when I started finding

misinformation, lies, things that were not true in these QAnon posts, I

stopped believing it. So I walked away from those things and I decided I`m

going to do what I`ve done all my life, I`m going to work hard and try to

solve the problems that I`m upset about. So I started getting involved in


I also want to tell you 9/11 absolutely happened. I remember that day

crying all day long watching it on the news. And it`s a tragedy for anyone

to say it didn`t happen. And so that I definitely want to tell you, I do

not believe that it`s fake.


MADDOW: That was Congresswoman Greene speaking today on the floor of the

House. She says, it`s a tragedy for anyone to say 9/11 didn`t happen. I

definitely want to tell you I do not believe it`s fake. She`s telling you

she`s definitely never propounded that.


TAYLOR GREENE: The so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon, it`s

odd, there`s never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon, but,

anyway, I`m not going to dive into the 9/11 conspiracy.


MADDOW: She stood on the house floor and said that she`s never denied that

9/11 happened. It`s a tragedy for anybody to say it didn`t happen.

This is a problem for the Republican Party not just because she`s now the

mascot for the Republican Party because they brought her into this national

role and kept her there, but while in Congress talking to the Republican

leader one-on-one in a private meeting, talking on the floor of the house

today to the entire congress, she keeps denying that she said any of these

things. She`s denied that she said any of them recently.

And when all but 11 Republicans today voted to keep her in full standing as

a member of Congress, maybe the most generous interpretation of that is

that they naively believed her denials? They shouldn`t have because the

denials are not true.


TAYLOR GREENE: This is what I ran for Congress on. I never once said during

my entire campaign QAnon. I never once said any of the things that I`m

being accused of today during my campaign. I never said any of these things

since I have been elected for Congress. These were words of the past.


MADDOW: I never once not during my campaign, not since I`ve been in


Here she is four days ago saying online that anybody who opposes Donald

Trump is a pedophile, the list of the anti-Trump pedos. That`s four days


That`s the QAnon stuff. That`s since she has been in Congress. That`s since

it has been pending against her that she was going to lose all of her

committee assignments.

But she is fluent in this stuff. This is how she became a prominent enough

Republican in Georgia Republican circles that she was able to win a seat in



TAYLOR GREENE: Okay. So, again, just to go over it, high-level officials

will soon be arrested and hopefully that`s what we`re seeing from all those

federal -- sealed federal indictments. And it will be a type of corruption.

Now, what type of corruption would it be? I mean, is it going to be the

stuff that`s rumored, the things that people don`t want to talk about, the

things that people don`t want to think about? I mean, is it going to be

true that the child pedophilia in the elites in the Washington, D.C., is

that what we`re really going to see come out? Is it true, is the type of

corruption we`re going too see come out, is it going to be Satanic worship

that possibly all these people are involved in?

I mean, we already saw there was an email came out of the WikiLeaks emails

where was it Cheryl Mills, she told Hillary Clinton in an email she was

going to sacrifice a chicken to Moloch in her backyard. That was proof

right there that there`s possible satanic worship and maybe all these scary

things that -- that people talk about on what`s considered conspiracy sites

and conspiracy theories really may be true.

But that`s -- that`s what "Q" has been telling everyone. We`re talking

about who is "Q", so I`m going to tell you what he says. According to him,

many in our government are actively worshipping Satan or they call Moloch.

If that`s not evidence that there`s Satan worship in our government, and if

Hillary Clinton was not involved in it, then why would someone -- someone

that is involved in worshipping Satan, why would they tell Hillary that in

an email?

So Hillary Clinton is obviously involved, too. The other thing that "Q"

says, and this is the stuff that we don`t -- we just don`t want to think

about, and many Americans don`t want to know about, that "Q" is saying that

they participate in pedophilia and spirit cooking. And spirit cooking, they

had that spirit cooking dinner.

Something else he has talked about is an interesting triangle. Saudi

Arabia, the Rothschilds, and Soros, he says are the puppet masters that

fund this global evil. Okay. So I definitely would believe that. The old

Saudi Arabia was funding child trafficking. Hillary Clinton, false flags,

and various other evil activities.

All those princes and so many of them had ties to the Clintons. Many of

them were -- had made huge donations to the Clinton Foundation. So that was

also very, very interesting. They also had ties to Podesta, Huma, Obama,

Mitt, because I really think it might happen. So I`m very excited about


Now, there`s a once in a lifetime opportunity to take this global cable of

Satan-worshipping pedophiles out.


MADDOW: They also had ties to Huma, Obama, Mitt, Mitt, she says. Did you

know that Mitt Romney was in on it, too? With the space lasers. And the

Moloch and the great awakening and the chickens and all the things that "Q"

told us.

Here she is on the Las Vegas gun massacre.


TAYLOR GREENE: How do you get avid gun owners and people who support the

Second Amendment to give up their guns and go along with anti-gun

legislation? How do you do that? Maybe you accomplish that by performing a

mass shooting into a crowd that is very likely conservative, you make them

scared. You make them victims. And you change their mindset and then

possibly you can pass anti-gun legislation.

Is that what happened in Las Vegas? Are they trying to terrorize our

mindset and change our minds on the Second Amendment? Is that what`s going

on here?

I have a lot of questions about that. I don`t believe Steven Paddock was a

lone wolf. I don`t believe that he pulled this off all by himself.


MADDOW: Eleven Republican members of Congress sided with Democrats today in

voting to remove Congresswoman Greene from her committee assignments. Just

as white supremacist Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa was removed

from his committee assignments just a couple of years ago. That was more

than enough to remove her.

This means she will now have no actual work to do in Congress. There`s no

point, actually, in her even showing up. But the House Republican leader,

Kevin McCarthy, apparently believed her denials when she told him to his

face that she didn`t say all these things that she was accused of,

definitely at least never said them recently.

In believing her when she denied those things to him, Leader McCarthy let

down his caucus in believing her, in not checking that, and repeating her

denials, repeating them as his endorsed assurances that he hadn`t said any

of these things that she`d been accused of. She definitely didn`t know

anything about that laser thing. She hadn`t been talking about the "Q"

stuff in a long -- had he checked on whether her denials were accurate, had

he bothered to check on whether she was lying to him.

He could have then told his caucus, hey, I went to her, confronted her

about this stuff and she lied to about it. That could have saved them.

That could have been reason enough for him to be able to tell all the

Republicans in the House, hey, listen, there`s all this criticism of her.

You can disagree with the people who are criticizing her. Maybe you side

with her on some of this crazy stuff. But I`m the leader of this caucus.

When I went to her about it, she lied to me about it and we can`t have


But instead, he just believed her without checking. Didn`t check what she

said. Thereby, excused her behavior to his caucus, defended her behavior to

his caucus, believed her false denials. And so now they`ve got the worst of

both worlds. Only 11 Republicans voted to strip her of her committee.

She is stripped of her committees. She will not be a working member of

Congress. She will be an ongoing source of humiliation and scandal to all

but 11 of her Republican colleagues because all but 11 of them didn`t act

to distance themselves from her. The Democrats had to do it for them, which

is humiliating.

The Senate today moved forward with the COVID relief legislation.

Republicans, they`re at the part of the process where Republicans are

offering lots of what they call messaging amendments that are not designed

to pass. They`re just supposed to be embarrassing votes hopefully and to

slow the thing down. Democrats will defeat all of those and then pass the

legislation likely without the Republicans.

Today saw the White House face down its first real policy controversy on

the issue of whether teachers should be vaccinated before schools can

safely re-open. We`re going to have more on that later in the show tonight.

But the CDC director yesterday at the White House then here on this show

last night talked about the science behind her assertion that whether or

not teachers are vaccinated shouldn`t be seen as a prerequisite for whether

or not schools can safely re-open. That is a very controversial assertion,

particularly among teachers.

The White House interestingly today said that they will wait until the CDC

as an agency releases its official guidance on schools before they make any

decisions on that. So this is kind of their first real bump in the road on

controversial COVID policy. Again, we will have more on that later, but it

is playing out in public.

And we`ll have more tonight on the president`s landmark foreign policy

speech and his trip to the State Department today and the stern words that

he had for the Russian government as the Russian government, today, in its

second day of locking up for the long term the main opposition political

figure in that country. So the work is happening, right, but we remained --

we remain split screened with the Democratic side running, I mean, both at

the White House and on Capitol Hill. Foreign policy, a new course. Russia,

back off. COVID legislation.

The first substantive COVID policy fight on their hands. Senator Bernie

Sanders today bringing in all new staff for the first time in years because

now he`s going to be running Budget Committee. If you don`t think that

Bernie Sanders running the Budget Committee is a big deal, r then we should

talk more about the Budget Committee.

In the House, Congressman Jamie Raskin leading the impeachment managers in

their historic second impeachment trial of a former president, now

confronting the question of whether they can subpoena him to testify

despite his lawyers saying that he won`t come.

So all that work happening on the Democratic side. Some of it backward

looking toward the disastrous last administration, almost all of the rest

of it forward looking. They`re moving.

On the Republican side, when are they ever going to be able to stop looking

back? With the tsunami looming behind them, with something that seems funny

but may end up being a big, hairy, crazy deal. The former president from

their party refusing to admit he is a former president, refusing to be

described as a former president, contending implicitly that, what, he`s

still in office? He`s not a former president?

Are you going to make Republicans back you up on that and use that as a

litmus test and campaign against them if they don`t think -- they don`t

pretend that you`re still president? And the House really did make

Democrats clean up their mess. House Republicans really did make Democrats

clean up their mess by just letting it ride, assuming it really wasn`t that

bad, believing the denials and deciding to continue to lend the imprimatur

of the U.S. house of representatives to the craziest stuff imaginable

including a member who has publicly urged the murder of the House speaker.

I mean, the split screen here is not like watching two different parties at

work. It`s like watching two different planets circle two different stars.

And the consequences resonate here way beyond D.C. in a lasting way. And

that`s next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Among the 11 House Republicans who broke with their party and voted

with Democrats to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her

congressional committee assignments tonight, three of those 11 Republicans

represent south Florida. In fact, it`s all three of south Florida`s House

Republicans. South Florida, of course, is home to Parkland and Marjory

Stoneman Douglas High School, which was the site of an unimaginably

horrific school shooting in February 2018 in which 17 people were killed.

In breaking with most of their party tonight, those three south Florida

House Republicans stood instead, quote, with a group of Parkland victims`

families who urged them to vote yes, to strip Congresswoman Greene of her


Congresswoman Greene, of course, has said online that that shooting in

Parkland didn`t really happen, that it was staged. "Media Matters" found a

Facebook threat from 2018 which has since been removed where Congresswoman

Green enthusiastically agreed that Parkland was a, quote, "false flag

planned shooting."

She tried to backtrack that today on the House floor before the vote to

punish her. South Florida House Republicans were not buying it. Out of

tragedy in Parkland, a movement was born thanks to students who survived

the massacre, who turned their grief and their rage into activism with

those unbelievable marches all across the country. That tragedy also

galvanized parents, turned them into activists, too. Parents like Fred

Guttenberg whose daughter, Jamie, was among the 17 victims of the shooting

of at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

For nearly three years Mr. Guttenberg has worked as an activist against gun

violence. As you can imagine, Congresswoman Greene agreeing that the mass

murder that took his daughter`s life was some staged event is not something

that he has taken lightly.

Joining us now is Fred Guttenberg who lost his daughter, Jaime, in Parkland

nearly three years ago. Mr. Guttenberg is an activist and -- Mr. Guttenberg

is an activist and author. His new book is called "Find the Helpers."

Fred Guttenberg, it`s a real honor to have you with us tonight, sir. Thanks

for taking the time.


I`m honored to be on your show tonight, Rachel.

MADDOW: I will tell you, I have struggled in recent days and I really

struggle today with whether or not to play sound from Congresswoman Greene

purporting her theories, whether or not to highlight the things that she --

the false things that she has said and propounded and advocated that have

built her into the sort of celebrity that she is because I don`t think

she`s worth the attention, and I don`t want to give her a bigger spotlight

than she ought to have.

At the same time, it feels wrong to ignore her. Do you struggle with that

at all? How do you balance those feelings?

GUTTENBERG: No, I`m so glad you did because, listen, I`ve been sharing

those videos now for weeks. She is a fraud.

MADDOW: Uh-huh.

GUTTENBERG: And everyone who was paying attention knows she is a fraud.

Those videos do exist. So to hear her lying to the members of Congress and

to hear, I guess, the current version of this Republican Party buy into the

fraud, buy into the lie because they are so afraid of their voters, boy,

makes them pathetic, but I`m glad you showed the videos because she did say

these things and not only did she say things like Parkland or Sandy Hook or

Las Vegas or 9/11 are false flags and didn`t happen, she had these

conspiracies around them.

I mean, you can`t say she`s crazy because everything she said is so


MADDOW: In terms of the position that she`s got in Congress, she`s going to

hold a press conference tomorrow. She`s been raising lots of money based on

the, you know, attacks from the liberal mob. She`s got lots of support in

her caucus.


MADDOW: Although I think a lot people were surprised to see 11 votes

against her.

What do you -- what do you think is the best potential outcome here? She is

an elected representative. She now has officially no work to do in

Congress. Where do you hope this lands and how this ends?

GUTTENBERG: Listen, if she wants to keep referring to people like me as a

liberal mob, have at it. I`m a dad. My daughter died in Parkland. And I

will keep responding.

Every dollar she brags about raising is costing the GOP money. There`s no

question this is hurting their donations. If this is the path they want to

go down, let them go down it.

I am shocked. I remember a day in this country not long ago where two

parties maybe disagreed on policy and they would argue things out, but they

didn`t disagree on facts. They didn`t disagree on working for the American


This party today gave up on that. It is -- it is shocking. So if they want

to keep her around, if they want to continue to give her this platform, it

only hurts the bigger party which is why you saw some folks in the Senate

and even 11 in the GOP say, we don`t want this.

MADDOW: Uh-huh. Fred, I would say that one thing that I have found very

heartening is the ability of individual people and people of like mind

working together in small numbers to change people`s hearts and to move

people on this subject. So to see Congressman Diaz-Balart, Congressman

Jimenez, Congressman Salazar, all from south Florida, all three of them as

a bloc, all Republican South Floridians saying we`re not going along with

our party on this, we`re instead siding with the parkland parents, that to

me feels like a vindication of the kind of work that you and other families

have done in the wake of the tragedy that you have been through.

But it also feels like a template for all of us in terms of thinking about

how to get through hard things.

GUTTENBERG: You know, listen, I`m super proud of what they did and I`m

shocked that it was only 11. You know, her story is so clear and her lies

are so obvious. And the idea that it was only 11.

And I have to comment on something else that she said because a big -- part

of her story that convinced a lot of these Republicans to vote her way is

she has talked about something that happened to her 30 years ago. It`s all

part of the fraud. Because 30 years ago she says she was a victim of gun

violence, and I`m not denying that.

But here`s the thing. We have 400 million weapons on the street today. It

was a fraction 30 years ago. So the risk is so different today versus what

she went through. And there was no chance of an AR-15 coming into her high

school the way one happened with my daughter.

So to use that as an example for why she is the person she is is dishonest.

But I`ll say one more thing. She says it convinced her that she had to be a

good guy with a gun. That`s what she took away from her incidents 30 years


Who says she`s a good guy with the gun? She`s threatened to put a bullet in

Pelosi`s head, she`s threatened other elected leaders. She`s chased down

the kids like David Hogg telling them, I have a loaded weapon in my purse.

She`s not a good guy with a gun. She is a threat. If she lived in a state

like Florida with red flag laws, she`d be losing her weapons. No wonder why

she`s so against them.

But we can`t let her get away with using that incidence as part of her

recovery. She is a fraud.

MADDOW: Fred Guttenberg, author, father of Parkland shooting victim Jaime

Guttenberg, coming up on three years since that happened, sir. Thank you so

much for speaking with us tonight. I know that this is personal and hard

and you being here and being so articulate about what you know on the

subject is an invaluable public service. Thank you.

GUTTENBERG: Rachel, thank you for having me. I appreciate it. Have a

wonderful night.

MADDOW: All right. You, too. Thank you.

Senator Chris Murphy is going to join us ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: It reads, quote: I urge you, do not let yourselves be intimidated.

Do not let yourself be fooled by illusions of power and toughness. What

kind of power do they have if they need to secretly poison people and

lawlessly imprison them? Where is their nationwide support if they can only

win elections by preventing independent candidates in the race?

They can only hold on to power using it for their personal gain by relying

on our fear. Therefore, we, by overcoming our fear, can free our motherland

from the handful of thieves who occupy it. The truth is on our side. Stay


That was a portion of a letter from prison released today by Russia`s main

opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny survived an assassination attempt

months ago that very much appears to have been the work of the Kremlin only

to wake up from his coma, fight through his rehabilitation, and defiantly

announce a return to Russia, even though Putin`s regime threatened they

would arrest him as soon as he crossed the border, he did it anyway. And

they followed through, they did lock him up. And two days ago, they

sentenced him to years in prison.

His letter from prison today comes after Navalny gave an impassioned speech

from the dock in court just as he was sentenced before he was whisked away

in handcuffs. Since then, that speech has circulated far beyond Moscow. It

was reprinted today in "The New York Times."

Here was President Biden today during his first in-person visit to any

agency since he has been president. Today, he went to the United States

State Department.



Putin in a manner very different from my predecessor that the days of the

United States rolling over in the face of Russia`s aggressive actions,

interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens, are

over. We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital

interests and our people.

The politically motivated jailing of Alexei Navalny and the Russian efforts

to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, are a matter of

deep concern to us and the international community.

Mr. Navalny, like all Russian citizens, is entitled to his rights under the

Russian constitution. He`s been targeted, targeted for exposing corruption.

He should be released immediately and without condition.


MADDOW: He should be released immediately and without condition.

Words directly from the president of the United States on camera looking

straight into camera, speaking directly to Moscow.

Those remarks from the president came within hours of the new secretary of

state, Antony Blinken, saying he had a one-on-one with his counterpart in

Russia, their foreign minister. According to the readout of that call,

Blinken made it clear that the Biden administration will, quote, act firmly

in defense of U.S. interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us

or our allies.

It`s only been two weeks, 15 days, since President Biden took office but,

boy, you could not mistake this administration for the last one even in the


Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, member of

the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a leading light in his party on

foreign affairs.

Senator, I really appreciate you taking time to be here tonight. Thank you.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Yeah, thanks for having me.

MADDOW: So, President Biden today had those sharp words about Navalny and

about the Russian government generally. We also saw a big policy

announcement today from the Biden administration stopping all support for

the war in Yemen, which you`ve been so outspoken about. I just wanted to

get your reaction. Today was such a huge day on foreign policy.

MURPHY: Listen, it is really wild to see how much has changed in a short

period of time, rejoining the World Health Organization, the Paris Accord,

extending the new START nuclear agreement with Russia for the next five

years and now these announcements today. You mentioned the strong words

about Navalny. Russia should let him go and we should take action if they

don`t. That could include sanctions.

But maybe the bigger news was the decision today to pull the United States

out of the disastrous civil war in Yemen. This has been a national security

nightmare for the United States. We`ve been helping the Saudis bomb Yemen

for about six years, 100,000 kids have died of starvation and disease.

Yemenis are being radicalized against the United States because they

perceive us to be bombing them. And al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has

gotten stronger.

So it was a real clear signal that our policy in the Middle East is going

to be change. We`re not going to be part of war crimes and we may sort of

step back and think twice about constantly getting involved in these proxy

battles in the region between the Iranians and the Saudis.

A really great speech today. A signal that Biden is moving past -- moving

fast to try to restart American influence around the world.

MADDOW: Senator, one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you tonight is I

really do -- I`m not just flattering you -- I really do think that you are

in many ways the future of the Democratic Party on foreign policy issues

not only because of your clarity on these issues and your intense interest

in them, but because I think you hold sway with a lot of your colleagues in

terms of being just respecting your views.

Given that, given what Biden has done thus far, making his first agency

trip to the State Department, cutting off those arms sales to Saudi and

UAE, cutting off all offensive support for that war in Yemen, putting the

pause in terms of the global force drawdown, which also stops pulling U.S.

troops out of our Allied Germany, the decision on Russia, the potential --

leaving the potential open for sanctions maybe, specifically on the Navalny

issue. Seeing all these actions so quickly, I have to ask if there are

other things you want to be sort of in the first ten things you want to be

in the first month of action that you think the Biden administration should

be doing or do you think they`re taking all the right steps?

MURPHY: Well, listen, I would add two more things to this list. I think

it`s important that we get back into the Iran nuclear agreement really

fast. Iran`s, you know, about a month away from a nuclear weapon and it`s

important for us to show the world that, you know, we still believe in

diplomacy. So I think that that`s important that they continue to move on a

path to re-entering the agreement.

The second thing, Rachel, though, is I think an intersection of

administration policy and what we can do here in Congress. This president

needs new tools. We are not properly resourced around the world today when

we`re spending 20 times as much money on military hardware as we are on

smart power, especially when we have just seen a virus attack us.

I think it`s time for a complete reorientation of foreign affairs spending,

putting more money into nonmilitary tools around the world, including

pandemic prevention, and my hope is that the Biden administration very

quickly is going to make some of those recommendations to Congress. I think

every president is probably going to pail in protecting America so long as

we have more members of military bands than we have diplomats in the State


MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, member of the Senate

Foreign Relations Committee. At work tonight as the work continues there on

the COVID relief bill -- sir, thanks for taking some times in the middle of

all these votes tonight. I appreciate getting a few moments with you.

MURPHY: Thanks, Rachel.

All right. Coming up we`ve got some actually encouraging developing news

about a new option for a COVID vaccine. Stay with us. That`s next.


MADDOW: Last night, here for the interview, we had the new director of the

CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. We talked about comments she made at the White

House yesterday about school reopening, specifically about teachers and

vaccination. Dr. Walensky said yesterday at the White House, to the

consternation from many quarters, that when it comes to schools reopening,

it may not be necessary for a scientific perspective for teachers to all be

vaccinated before schools can safely reopen.

She reiterated that here last night and said there are other mitigation

efforts that are definitely necessary for schools to reopen, and those are

must do even if teachers are not vaccinated first.

I asked her about that last night, and she told us here that CDC is working

on official comprehensive guidelines for how and when schools can safely

reopen. Those are not ready yet.

But today, asked on this -- asked about the subject, White House Press

Secretary Jen Psaki said pointedly that the White House will wait from that

official guidance from the CDC as an agency to decide whether or not

teachers do need to be vaccinated as a prerequisite for the school

reopening. They will wait for the CDC to make its recommendation as an

agency before they make any pronouncement on that as the administration.

So, we`re keeping an eye on that. Obviously lots of teachers around the

country are worried that schools haven`t taken the other mitigation

measures that would make things safe for them to go back into the

classroom. And if you can`t solve things like density and kids mask wear

and ventilation, particularly in February, then moving from those onto the

issue of vaccination may be premature in terms of thinking about how to

protect teachers.

Anyway, this is the first big substantive policy fight of the Biden

administration on COVID. We are watching that.

Other big piece of COVID news that broke today is on the vaccine front.

Johnson & Johnson officially applying for emergency use authorization with

the FDA. If their vaccine is granted that authorization, it would be the

third vaccine approved for use here. Unlike the two deployed right now

Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose, can be stored in a regular


The chief science officer from Johnson & Johnson says as soon as they

receive the authorization from the FDA, they`ll be ready to start shipping

vaccine immediately. We now think this is going to proceed as follows. We

think the FDA is going to meet February 26th to discuss that application.

That means the authorization could come by the end of the month and vaccine

to ship immediately thereafter. That would be a very big deal.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight on this Friday eve. I will

see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.




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